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How to Determine a Search Marketing Tech Stack That Works

Episode Overview: Determining which SaaS platforms can best help you with your TAM strategy is tricky if you’re working on a tight budget and uncertain where to start. Join host Ben as he concludes his discussion with Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting, discussing the best tech stacks to apply in executing your TAM strategies.


  • Investing in an agency is a wise decision as they utilize a multitude of SaaS tools to achieve their clients goals and are knowledgeable in the nuances of certain technologies.
  • Content Harmony and Clearscope are excellent content tools as they have an intuitive natural language process system that helps increase ranking with content briefs and topic analysis.
  • Sitebulb and Screaming Frog are great tools for crawling your site and receive detailed technical insights.


Ben:                  Welcome to the Voices of Search podcast. Today we’re going to discuss thinking about SEO strategy from a general marketing strategy perspective. Joining us today is Garrett Mehrguth, who is the CEO of Directive Consulting, which is a B2B and enterprise search marketing agency that companies trust to scale their business. Directive supports customers with SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media driven by powerful analytics and a dedicated team of specialists.

Ben:                   So far this week, Garrett and I have talked about how to determine your totally addressable market for your SEO campaigns, understanding who you’re actually reaching with those campaigns. And today we’re going to talk about determining whether you have the right search marketing tech stack. Okay. On with the show, here’s my conversation with Garrett Mehrguth, founder of Directive Consulting. Garrett, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Garrett:            Hey, it’s fun to be here. Excited to chat with you.

Ben:                   Excited to wrap up our conversation.

Ben:                   Just to recap for anybody who hasn’t heard it, so far this week Garrett and I have talked about how to understand how many people you’re trying to reach with your SEO campaigns. A really broad topic that most business strategists and general marketers think about. How big of a campaign do I need to run? And yesterday we talked about understanding the people that you’re reaching and really determining if they are in that totally addressable market. If you’re getting a million visits per month, how many people are you reaching and how many of them are actually potential customers?

Ben:                  And today we’re going to talk about some of the technologies behind that. So Garrett, when you start thinking about your SEO tool kits, there’s a wide variety of services. Everything from the $10-$25 point solutions all the way up to the enterprise level, tens of thousands of dollars for some SaaS products that are more all encompassing. How do you figure out what’s right for you and how do you figure out what technology you actually need to be an effective SEO?

Garrett:           Yeah, no I love that. It just really depends on your goals, right? So I think if you’ve got a B2B product, you’ve got a segmented audience and let’s say you have sales development. What I’m going to do on marketing is going to be different than if I’m running a low cost B2C SaaS company with self onboarding and really high volume of clients, think GoDaddy or Drift, something like that compared to if I’m Marketo or HubSpot maybe and I’m selling a little more enterprise platform. So I do think it’s really important to understand who you are and then base your strategies off that.

Garrett:           I don’t think enough people actually pause and think about who are they trying to sell to and how do we want to reach those people instead of just how do I rank for more keywords and then wondering why you ranked for more keywords but didn’t generate more opportunities, deals, and revenue. Because if you separate traffic from revenue, you really separate reality from everything you’re doing and that’s why your budgets aren’t going up, that’s why you’re not getting the respect you want as a search marketer and things like that. And so I think when you take a really fundamentally sound approach on strategy of business marketing and audience, that’s when you can choose also your tech stack really well.

Ben:                 So obviously the tech stack is going to change depending on what businesses you’re trying to reach. I think that there are some categories, right? When you’re a startup, when you’re an SMB with an enterprise type business, your goals are most of the time the same. Obviously there’s B2B and B2C, other ways to take this. How do you figure out what you should be investing? What should you be asking? Yesterday we talked about implementing Clearbit and ABM solutions. Just give me a sense of total investment. Just have a rule of thumb for what you should be putting into technology in those three categories.

Garrett:         Yeah. So I mean one of the cool parts about hiring an agency is you don’t have to overinvest in your tech stack because you can [inaudible]. So there’s that kind of tidbit there. But if I’m doing this in house, I’m trying to choose or I’m running an agency and I want to know what my tech stack is we are using some very cool tools here. I think they’re getting a shout out because they don’t get enough traction. So for content we’re using a tool called Content Harmony and we’re also using another tool called Clearscope. Both of these help you with doing content briefs and topic analysis to know what keywords you need to include in your content if you want to rank. They do a really good job with natural language processing and we’re definitely seeing some success there. So on the content side, if you want to use a really nice tool, Content Harmony and Clearscope have been great.

Garrett:          On the technical side, I like Sitebulb, also love Screaming Frog. So both of those are great for crawling your site, getting those insights. If I have to choose a platform like a cloud based tool so that I would say Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs … I’m going to choose Ahrefs or SEMrush. I think Moz is definitely third now, so I’m going to go with one of those two. And then for link building we’re using … it’s one of the buzzes, BuzzSumo, BuzzStream. I use both and I always get them confused. So that one’s great for link building and managing essentially your outbound PR stuff you want to do. I use Pitchbox, BuzzSumo is better.

Ben:                 What we’re talking about here are tools that are … I don’t know, somewhere between $20 a month to $250 a month that you can cobble together to put a SEO strategy together where you’re understanding how your content is performing and trying to make sure that it’s going to rank. You’re able to do your site analysis, you’re figuring out who you should be doing your content syndication for.

Ben:                 So generally what I’m thinking here is you’re spending somewhere between $500-$1,500 per month to put together a tool kit. And then you get into the SMB tools. You mention Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, right, there’s platforms that you can invest in that are hundreds to thousands of dollars. At the enterprise level there’s other suites like Searchmetrics, which are proprietary data, preface this with sponsor of the podcast, that also come with a services component as well. How do you figure out which one of those buckets you need to be in, whether you should be spending the hundreds of dollars, low thousands, mid thousands of dollars for just the point solutions, a platform or a platform and consulting services?

Garrett:           Yeah, I mean so up at the high end of it you have Searchmetrics, Conductor, and BrightEdge. Now obviously those guys have a lot of value in their products, but I’m going to talk specifically about BrightEdge and Conductor. What we found is that it is great to have a platform that tells you what to do, like all these SEO tools do. None of them do it for you. And what I’ve found is in house marketers end up being professional more than they get to be professional executors.

Garrett:          And what I mean by that is one day they’re doing email, the next day they’re doing on-page, the next day they’re doing internal link building, the next day they’re doing PR, but it’s hard to get any traction or depth in any of those things and you don’t have enough expertise. And so a lot of times companies still have BrightEdge or Conductor especially for our enterprise accounts and then they still need us to do something with the tool. In other words, none of these software tools do the SEO and so if you don’t have time to execute, you’re probably better off leveraging an agency so you don’t have to have agency fee plus software because the agencies should have the software already included.

Ben:                  Yeah. I think to me that’s really the point of differentiation. If you’re at an early stage company and you’re trying to solve individual problems and you’re just getting your strategy up and running, the point solutions are fine, right? You don’t need your data to all be in one platform. When you really start to scale and you’re doing more sophisticated work, when you’re really starting to focus on SEO strategies and maybe when you’re … actually have somebody on your team who’s going to be dedicated toward SEO and content marketing having a platform that has data that can be tracked across all of your efforts is important, not having to use a disparate set of tools.

Ben:                  Then when you get to the point of you’re an enterprise company and you have large amounts of content, global teams, big problems to solve, SEO is really going to be a priority. When you’re looking at some of the enterprise solutions, what you really need is not just a platform. You need a platform and then you need some operators to help you manage it and that’s where you get into either the Searchmetrics, Conductor, BrightEdges of the world, or you start working with one of the other toolkits and you hire an agency to start doing it for you.

Garrett:           Yeah.

Ben:                  Garrett, last thing we talked about was using other firms outside of SEO technologies to really understand who is coming in through all of your traffic sources. Just give me a minute on what are some of the solutions that you use to try to understand some of the demographic and psychographic data you’re collecting from your marketing efforts?

Garrett:           Yeah, so LinkedIn Sales Navigator is massive for us just because we have LeadIQ, we have ZoomInfo, we’ve used a lot of different data providers … Clearbit. At the end of the day ZoomInfo is probably the best data source. They acquired DiscoverOrg, they acquired RainKing I think it was-

Ben:                  I think it’s the other way. I think DiscoverOrg acquired ZoomInfo, but-

Garrett:          Yeah, and so either way you have these organizations, right? And they’re still behind on data accuracy compared to LinkedIn. The truest source of up-to-date information is definitely LinkedIn. And so LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a really powerful way to understand your audience and to do outbound sales. And then what we like to do is have a central hub to organize that information. So we love the HubSpot.

Garrett:         I’ve used Marketo, clients use Pardot, but HubSpot is definitely the best platform. Just usability, execution, reporting, integration, connecting it to Salesforce, all of that. And then on the account-based side I’d say Terminus is probably the leader right now for just data reporting, integration, usage, pricing, all of that. And so all of these … Terminus is great on the account based side, LinkedIn is great for the data side and the audience side. And then HubSpot is great for orchestrating it and trying to activate what you’re acquiring.

Garrett:           So that’s probably our kind of key tech stack, and then using Salesforce as well. So you put that all together … then you have your SEO tools, you have your PPC tools, you have your content tools, you have your outreach and link building tools, and then you put that all together. Now you need time, right? And that’s the hardest part is actually having the hours available to leverage all these tools because tools alone don’t make an impact. And so I think the biggest takeaway is making sure you have time to actually leverage the tools you have.

Ben:                  I think that’s important perspective is that the tech stack that you need depends on what type of business you’re running, how much time you have to actually analyze the data. And you can invest and invest and invest in technology. If you don’t have time to optimize what you’re doing based on the data you’re collecting, none of that technology actually matters. Garrett, always great to connect with you. I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing the SEO wisdom with us.

Garrett:         Glad to be here Ben, thanks for having me man. This was great.

Ben:                All right, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Garrett Mehrguth, founder of Directive Consulting. We’d love to continue the conversation with you so if you’re interested in contacting Garrett, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is gmehrguth. G-M-E-H-R-G-U-T-H. Or you can visit his company’s website which is

Ben:               Just one more link in our show notes to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening this podcast, head over to where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests, and you can also send us your topic suggestions, SEO questions, or even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:              Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is voicesofsearch on Twitter, or my personal handle is benjshap. B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the workweek. So hit that subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.

Tyson Stockton

Tyson Stockton

Tyson has over 10 years' experience in the digital marketing industry. As Vice President of Client and Account Management, Tyson manages the Enterprise Client Success team and SEO Consulting efforts at Searchmetrics. Tyson has worked with some of world’s largest enterprise websites including Fortune 500 and global eCommerce leaders. Prior to Searchmetrics, Tyson worked on the in-house side managing the SEO and SEM efforts of a collection of 14 sports specialty eCommerce companies in the US, Europe and Australia.

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