About Us

SEO-PR is a digital marketing agency that generates results

Founded in 2003, SEO-PR is an award-winning digital marketing agency that has generated successful campaign results for a variety of clients. Different clients have different goals, so this means knowing how to create a digital marketing strategy and use the right digital marketing tactics to improve brand awareness, promote events, generate leads, or increase sales.

 Our focus on measuring business outcomes, instead of upselling or cross-selling our entire digital marketing services list or all of our digital marketing training courses has had an interesting side effect. Some of our clients consider SEO-PR to be their:

•                  Content marketing agency

•                  Digital analytics expert

•                  Digital advertising agency

•                  Digital marketing strategist

•                  Digital PR agency

•                  Influencer marketing expert

•                  Programmatic advertising consultant

•                  SEO agency

•                  Social media marketing consultant

•                  Video marketing expert

Now, there is a perfectly logical explanation for this wide variety of descriptions. SEO-PR has been difficult to pigeonhole from the very beginning.

SEO-PR’s backstory

SEO-PR’s co-founders, Greg Jarboe and Jamie O’Donnell, first met in 1986, when they both worked in the corporate communications department at Lotus Development Corporation. After a few months, Greg became the director of corporate communications at Lotus. Actually, he became the company’s 13th director of corporate communications, and that was when Lotus was only four and a half years old.

After his first month in his new position, Greg took a very thick report on about 700 magazine and newspaper clippings that his team had generated, walked down the short hall on the seventh floor to Jim Manzi’s office, and casually dropped it on his desk. (Manzi was the chairman, president, and CEO of Lotus.)

Greg’s clipping report measured PR success in advertising value equivalency (AVE), which is calculated by measuring the column inches in each magazine or newspaper article and multiplying these figures by the respective publication’s advertising rates. The resulting number was an estimate of what it would have cost Lotus to place advertisements of an equivalent size in those publications.

But, Manzi took a quick look and said, “Jarboe, these are just little pieces of paper. If I could deposit them in a bank, they’d be worth something. So, until you can measure the value of PR in cold, hard cash, don’t waste my time with these so-called reports.”

Then, Manzi gave Greg 6 months to figure out how to measure the economic value of PR, or the company’s PR staff of 24 would be cut in half – because it was easy to calculate how much money Lotus would save by eliminating 12 full-time employees (FTEs).

A few days later, Greg discovered that Bill Huff, the director of advertising at Lotus, had been given the same challenge. That’s why using AVE to measure PR hadn’t impressed Manzi. So, Greg and Bill decided to commission a survey of recent Lotus customers to ask them which information sources they had used before deciding to purchase a software product like Lotus 1.2.3, Symphony, or Freelance Graphics.

The survey found that product reviews and product advertising in trade publications like PC Magazine, PC World, and PC Week had more impact on purchase intent than feature articles and brand advertising in business magazines like Business Week, Fortune, and Forbes. These findings were so surprising that Manzi ignored the survey’s results. But, he didn’t cut the corporate communications or advertising departments.

The launch of Google News

In September 2002, Google launched the beta version of Google News.  At the time, Greg was the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Backbone Media, an SEO agency. He started conducting a few searches and was amazed to see that Google News aggregated headlines from the major press release distribution services right along with more than 4,500 English-language news sources worldwide.

Greg told Stephen Turcotte, the President and CEO of Backbone Media, that “internet public relations” represented a significant opportunity for the SEO agency. But, Turcotte said, “That’s your thing. I’m thinking of expanding into website design. That’s my thing.”

Greg thought about it for a couple of weeks and decided it was his thing. So, he gave his notice and then called Jamie, who was the president of IDM Partners, an online direct marketing agency, back then.

Greg said, “I’ve spent the past year learning how to optimize a webpage to improve its ranking in Google. I’ll bet we can be among the first to figure out how to optimize a press release to improve its ranking in Google News.”

Jamie’s response was, “That’s nice, but I’ve spent the past three years learning how add campaign parameters to URLs so you can track email marketing campaigns in web analytics. Now, if we can add tracking links to optimized press releases, then we’d have something.”

Convinced that they could develop a unique and valuable service that could measure PR in cold, hard cash, Greg and Jamie co-founded SEO-PR in early 2003. When their first client, Martha Papalia, who was then the VP of Corporate Communications at CNET, asked if SEO-PR would train her corporate and product PR and marketing communications teams instead of providing this new service, Greg and Jamie decided that they would offer relevant and useful training workshops, as well.

At the time, Greg said, “SEO-PR had developed a new way to optimize and promote websites that combined search engine optimization and public relations. This offered both clients and agencies the tools and techniques they needed to generate traffic as well as generate publicity.  This also enabled public relations departments and PR agencies to get full credit for their contribution when a company measures its ROI in marketing.”

And back then, Jamie added, “Our mission was to help and teach those who direct high tech PR firms and manage Internet public relations campaigns how to optimize their press releases, marketing newsletters and other public relations content. This would improve their search engine ranking when both prospects and the press were actively looking for relevant keywords.  Embedding trackable URL’s also meant that companies could measure PR using the same metrics applied to other online marketing programs.”

Early reaction to their approach was very favorable.

Jeffrey Tarter, Editor of Softletter and a well-known industry analyst, said, “Greg Jarboe always seems to be ahead of the curve whenever there’s a major shift in technology marketing. He’s now figured out a brilliant way to integrate search engine optimization and public relations, creating a powerful strategy for generating leads, building Web traffic, and getting publicity messages in front of potential buyers at exactly the right moment.”

Stuart McFaul, President and Founder of Spiral Group Public Relations, said, “Jamie O’Donnell has a strong reputation in Silicon Valley for insisting that successful PR programs need to address the expressed interests of customers and journalists versus the self interest of a client company. SEO-PR now takes that principle to the age of search engines where customer interests are measured in top key words and phrases.”

Katharine Delahaye Paine, publisher of The Measurement Standard, praised SEO-PR for using “best measurement practices.” In her One-Minute Benchmarking Bulletin, she exclaimed, “What a concept: Totally measurable results from your PR agency! That’s the pitch that PR pros Jamie O’Donnell and Greg Jarboe are giving for their new company SEO-PR.”

She added, “SEO-PR combines Jarboe’s search engine optimization wizardry and O’Donnell’s PR and writing skills to get your product or firm top listed in search engines and track the results. They use special Web pages as well as data from WebTrends and other tracking software to tell the client not just how many visitors clicked on a press release, but what they did when they got there.”

Larry Chase’s Web Digest for Marketers called Greg and Jamie two of “the hottest gurus in SEO” and the email newsletter’s companion site, Larry Chase’s Search Engine for Marketers, listed their “innovative firm” as one of only 10 in its “Who’s Who in SEO Experts.” Search Engine for Marketers added, “Press releases and other PR materials are an underutilized ‘sweet spot’ for keyword optimization, and doing something strategic about them can really help website rankings, press response and your business.”

Publisher Larry Chase utilized SEO-PR’s services and revealed that just watching Greg and Jamie “was a learning experience” – no small praise from a highly skeptical Internet marketing veteran. Greg and Jamie optimized Larry’s press release for RSS feeds, blogs, news searches and search engine spiders – “and the results were outstanding.”  They then followed up with a PowerPoint presentation that summarized which terms were getting picked up and what rankings they were able to deliver by selected keyword in major news search engines. In Larry’s words, “they have it down to a science.”

Because of all the critical acclaim and successful results for what SEO-PR called “press release SEO,” Tad Clark, the Editorial Director of MarketingSherpa, decided to test their innovation, which he called “the tactic known as SEO PR.” He asked SEO-PR to conduct a test: Distribute the exact same press release over three different wire services. Yes, some wires performed better than others. But, using multiple wires brought different audiences to the table. The test generated eight news stories and eight blog posts. Do we know which version each journalist or blogger found?  No, but does it matter?

As for business outcomes, the news stories and blog posts generated more visitors to MarketingSherpa’s sites than the press releases did. In fact, the number of unique visitors to MarketingSherpa.com was 18.7% higher during the three-week test than it had been during the three previous weeks. More significantly, unique visitors to SherpaStore.com – where you could buy a new survey – increased 10.5% during our three-week test, compared to the previous three weeks.

Michael Stebbins, Market Motive’s CEO, said, “Greg and Jamie have more than 40 years combined experience in public relations, corporate communications, and marketing. They are regarded as the pioneers and leading authorities on online publicity.”

SEO-PR today

So, SEO-PR started off offering a unique combination of search engine optimization and online public relations (aka digital PR) services and training. A few years later, the agency added video marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing services to generate successful campaign results for a new group of clients. And as the industry continued to evolve and move sideways, SEO-PR expanded its portfolio to include digital analytics, digital marketing strategy, and digital advertising (including PPC). And the digital marketing agency didn’t stop there. SEO-PR now offers influencer marketing and programmatic advertising services and training, as well.

Industry reaction to a new type of agency that focused on business outcomes instead of marketing inputs was also very favorable.

Michelle Goodall of Econsultancy, which is based in the UK, called SEO-PR the “US online marketing agency specialising in successfully optimising seemingly anything that moves for search.” 

Mark Rose, CEO of Rose Public Relations, added, “They are experts in helping clients exploit vertical search opportunities, including search engines, online news sites, marketing blogs and social media.”

Virginia Nussey of the Bruce Clay Blog, said, “Greg is considered an expert on everything from news search to video search to linkbait and beyond. If you don’t know him, your introduction is long overdue because Greg has his fingers on the pulse of the Internet marketing industry.”

And Steve Baldwin, Editor-in-Chief at Didit, said, “The disciplines of SEO and Public Relations have been converging for years. Because both fields of activity have a common goal: to increase the visibility and favorable public impression of their clients, it’s not a surprise that many SEO agencies have added ‘PR’ to their service offerings while PR agencies have added ‘SEO’ to theirs. Greg Jarboe – of San Francisco-based agency SEO-PR.com – was among the first to see this convergence coming, launching his agency with partner Jamie O’Donnell, in 2003. Since that time he’s served as agency president while writing, teaching, and speaking on this and other topics relevant to PR and SEO professionals.”

SEO-PR’s transformation from a narrow focus on search engine optimization and public relations to a broader focus on digital marketing strategy and tactics that generate results is also reflected in other aspects of Greg and Jamie’s recent activities.

In 2009, Greg became the author of YouTube and Video Marketing. He is also a contributor to four other books: Complete B2B Online Marketing by William Leake, Lauren Vaccarello, and Maura Ginty; Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki; Strategic Digital Marketing by Eric Greenberg and Alexander Kates; and The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, and Jessie Stricchiola. Greg is also one of the 25 successful online marketing gurus profiled in Online Marketing Heroes by Michael Miller.

Greg and Jamie became members of the Market Motive faculty in 2007, which has been called the Internet marketing dream team. Greg became an instructor for the Rutgers Mini-MBA programs in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing in 2010. Greg became the Video and Content Marketing chair at Simplilearn after it acquired Market Motive in 2015. He’s taught Online Marketing Certified Associate (OMCA) program for APEX Global Learning in the Philippines since 2017, which covers:

  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Web Analytics

Greg has also taught the Pay Per Click (PPC) Fundamentals course offered by APEX Global Learning on Udemy since 2018. And he has taught the Influencer Marketing Strategy course offered by Rutgers on Coursera since 2018.

Since 2003, Jarboe has written more than 1,600 posts for several online publications, including Search Engine Watch, ClickZ, Tubular Insights, The SEM Post, and Search Engine Journal. He’s also spoken at over 80 industry conferences. He’s also been a keynote speaker at the ÜberTube Brand Summit in New York City; the Be-Wizard conference in Rimini, Italy; and the International Search Summit in London, where the audience voted him the winner of its first Medallion Speaker Award.

In addition to being a member of the Market Motive faculty, Jamie has spoken at Executing Social Media, Bulldog Reporter, Search Engine Strategies, American Marketing Association (AMA), Business Marketing Association (BMA), and other conferences. He has supplied contributed articles for most of the search marketing sites and publications including Search Engine Watch, Search Insider, iMedia Connection; Adotas, Electronic Retailer and others.

Their digital marketing agency has generated award-winning results for a variety of clients, including: The Christian Science Monitor, eHarlequin.com, Get City Dealz, MarketingSherpa, Parents.com, Rutgers University, the SES Conference & Expo series, and Southwest Airlines.

Contact us today, tell us what your organization’s goals are or what keeps you up at night, and we’ll tailor a digital marketing campaign or training program that generates results. We’ve been doing that for years.