Marketing isn’t magic

Mickey Mellen
2 min readNov 20, 2023

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago that was working with a new company. That company had been outsourcing their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work to another firm for a few thousand dollars a month, but it was unclear exactly what that other firm was doing.

When asked for details on what work was being done each month, they were denied and derided for daring to ask such a question. I don’t know the details of that situation, but I’ve seen similar before where companies were “doing SEO” for company but didn’t disclose what they were doing. Short answer: usually not much.

Marketing isn’t magic. Even SEO, which can be a little complicated at times, includes tactics and practices that are easy to define. If you’re working with a firm that doesn’t disclose details (even for “proprietary secrets”), you need to break ties with them immediately. The the lack of transparency is not acceptable, and often means they’re hiding something — usually the fact that they’re not doing much work for the client.

When it comes specifically to SEO, it’s pretty straightforward, though it can take a good bit of work to keep it going strong. In most cases it includes:

  • Keyword research to determine what specific phrases to go after.
  • Work on the technical side of the website to make sure nothing is badly broken. This can take some time, but it’s not an ongoing expense aside from baseline security after a point.
  • Generating strong content. This is often the bulk of the work, and companies deserve to be paid well if they’re doing a good job, but it’s not a secret.

Don’t let companies hide what they’re doing. Good marketing takes effort, but there’s no magic secret to any of this stuff. Follow best practices, know your audience, produce great content, measure the results, and repeat.

If a company says “ We’re going to do A, B, and C for you every month for $x,xxx “, that’s awesome.

If they say “ just trust us “, don’t.

Originally published at on November 20, 2023.



Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.