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What Makes NOVOS Unique?

Sam Hurley from NovosSam Hurley in Team

23rd August, 2022

What Makes NOVOS Unique?

Whether you are looking to work with us or for us, the question we always get asked is, what makes NOVOS unique vs the other SEO agencies on the market? 

The number 1 answer is our people – we’re the first employee-owned company in the SEO industry (more on this later).

Here, we’ve listed all the USPs that make us unique (some SEO agencies can’t even name one!).

Working With Us

We’ll start with clients – without clients, there’s no staff.

We pride ourselves on our service. No SEO agency can guarantee you results (due to the Google algorithm), but what we can guarantee you is the best service of any agency you’ve ever worked with. How? We know what we’re good at and we don’t deviate from it. 

We put purpose over profit with our eCom specialism. Unlike other SEO agencies who pivoted to eCommerce as it boomed through the Covid-19 pandemic, we were here from the start. It’s our passion. It’s why we set up the agency in the first place to have a genuine USP versus the competition. As we’ve grown, we’ve built on these USPs, which we’ve outlined below.

Our eCom Specialism

Other SEO agencies blow with the wind. When eCom boomed through lockdown, suddenly everyone was an ‘eCom expert’. When eCom crashed, and people started going on holidays again, these same agencies suddenly became ‘Travel experts’. 

Through thick and thin, we’ll always be an eCommerce specialised agency. Why? Because eCom is our passion. And, eCommerce brands are, by far, the most exciting websites to work with. 

When I worked in-house at Made.com, I had a very large budget to use on any of the leading SEO agencies in London. I realised, being on the other side of the table, that: 

1) None of these agencies had a USP – they all said the same thing.

2) None of them understood eCommerce. They didn’t take into account the fact we were on a custom Magento set-up, so 70% of their audits were worthless. Instead, they built links for us the same way they built links for an insurance company….  

Therefore, identifying this gap in the market was what drove the creation of NOVOS. 

Around 3-5 months into the agency, we knew we were on to something. One thing we hadn’t factored in was that, naturally, eCommerce websites had lower budgets compared to insurance, finance, fintech and travel brands, and our competitors were naturally de-prioritising their eCom brands. 

The result? A shocking experience for eCom brands. Not only were they getting neglected, but when they did get attention, the team working on the account didn’t understand eCommerce and probably only worked on 1 eCommerce site their whole career. 

NOVOS has worked with well over 150 eCommerce brands, all with similar market sizes and all market disruptors. 

As a result, all of our processes and templates have been tested and refined across multiple different brands week in and week out to make them the most efficient strategies, tactics, documents and processes on the market. 

Over the years, we’ve also built up an internal bank of eCommerce knowledge. We know the tactics that actually impact your bottom line across offsite and onsite SEO. 

Full Suite of SEO Services

Most SEO agencies are good at either onsite or offsite and rarely have a reputation for both. We do. 

NOVOS was born out of technical SEO and the drive to understand the nuances of all the major CMS platforms. 

As we’ve grown in parallel with the industry, we’ve built a team of over 40 specialists with a 50/50 split of data and strategy & data combined with the PR team, which complements creativity, content and link building. 

Other SEO agencies that also have an eCommerce landing page typically only focus on onsite SEO. Once we established our onsite processes after year 1 of operating we invested over £120k into building a 15+ person Digital PR team. This team was all highly vetted in the way we wanted to approach link building, again driven by our experience of working in-house & agency-side SEO.

Employee-Owned

Our team is what makes us unique. We’re not on a mission to conquer the world like other agencies, our mission is to make a great place to work that delivers the very best service to eCommerce brands. “NOVOS is a vehicle for employee personal growth and client commercial growth” has always been our vision.

In March 2022, myself & Antonio, my co-founder, sold 90% of NOVOS to the staff as an Employee Ownership Trust (think the John Lewis model). Learn more about how and why we became an employee-owned company.  

What does this mean for clients? It means the team working on your account naturally has more ownership, responsibility and accountability than any other SEO team in the industry. Why? Because retaining your account over the long run directly impacts their profit share at the end of the financial year as they own 90% of the business. 

CMS Knowledge

As mentioned above, the agency was born out of understanding the advantages and disadvantages of eCommerce CMS’ as well as knowing how to implement key SEO tactics. 

Whether it’s a standard out-of-the-box set-up of Shopify to more advanced headless set-ups, we have the knowledge and passion to support you. 

In-House Experience and Understanding

I’m not aware of another SEO agency where both co-founders have worked together at an agency and then worked in-house. I worked in-house at Made.com, leading their SEO in a 1-man team across 5 international markets, whereas Antonio led all of the Gentleman’s Journal Digital channels’ growth. We know what it’s like to work in-house, and we’ve factored this experience into the way we work with all of our clients. 

No Account Managers

From this experience, we understand first-hand the frustration of account managers. Don’t get me wrong, a very good account manager is worth their money, but there aren’t many out there. Instead, our set-up is 0 account managers, you talk directly to the team that does the work on your account, and they are your account strategists. Taking influence from the more traditional ad agency team structures. 

Simplicity

SEO is full of jargon, with some agencies operating with a ‘black box’ mentality. We’re the opposite. Our core value is simplicity. Around 50% of our clients have never worked in SEO before, so we pride ourselves on removing the SEO jargon and boiling down our strategies into simple-to-understand, everyday marketing language. This way, you know exactly what we’re doing and why. More importantly, you can translate this directly to your manager or other teams in your business. 

(Awards? Every agency worth their salt will have awards to show off – that’s not a USP, in our opinion.)

Working For Us

NOVOS is also a unique place to work. 

Incredibly we’ve been in a few sales pitching processes where an attendee messages us afterwards asking for a job (it’s happened more than once!) Why? Keep reading to find out why NOVOS is a unique place to work. 

Our biggest USP is the team you’d be working with. They are the most talented eCommerce experts in the industry. Before we dive into our culture and people, I’d like to highlight another USP that we often overlook…and that’s our clients. 

Our Clients

In the previous section, we outlined a vision for purpose over profit. 

This means you won’t be working with dull insurance, gambling or finance brands. The first 2 agencies I worked for had a payday loan company as their largest client, the most unethical industry we’ve seen in the past 10 years. These companies didn’t care about the ethics, the money spoke for itself. I was lead on these payday loan accounts for 3 years, soul-destroying accounts. 

We hand-pick our clients, offering discounts to sustainable + ethical brands. 

We’d never work with a gambling brand even if they offered us a £50k p/m retainer for 12 months. 

We don’t work with any fast fashion eCommerce brands, unlike competitors. 

eCommerce is by far the most enjoyable industry to work in for SEO and PR. 

eCommerce SEO is way more advanced than any other industry, your technical and content skills will be broadened to new levels. 

With eCommerce SEO & PR, you can actually see the impact you are having on the client’s business which is one of the most rewarding aspects of working in marketing. You can also be consumers of your clients, which gives you an even better understanding and love of the clients you’ll be working with.

Also, if clients clash with our values or have overtly unrealistic expectations, we’ll drop out of the pitching process to ensure the team doesn’t get impacted. 

Our People 

The team will welcome you with open arms.

There’s a reason we’ve been voted as the 5th Best Place to Work in the UK, and we also won 4th for Best Tech Company to Work for the UK. 

We’ve also won multiple culture awards as well as been listed with companies with great perks, along with the likes of Google

Take a look at our culture hub (coming soon!) to see more perks – our highlights include unlimited holiday, flexi-working, free PT sessions and incredible client discounts! 

As mentioned above, culture is everything to us. We treat everyone equally regardless of seniority & have daily recognition for great work. See our TikTok channel for more insights into our culture. 

Every member of staff has roughly £500 to spend on training each year. We identify your skill gaps and support you to achieve your goals. This is on top of biweekly team-wide training sessions, as well as ad hoc mini-group training sessions with the leadership team. 

The final reason why NOVOS is a unique place to work is, of course, our employee ownership scheme. The staff own nearly 100% of the company, and will, over time, get almost 100% of the profits shared among them each year. This profit share is based on a points system factoring in seniority and longevity, with longevity having a stronger weighting. Therefore the longer you work at NOVOS, the larger your profit share will be. As part of this setup, non-performance led bonuses are also tax-free up to £3.6k.

Employee ownership has so many more benefits than purely financial. We have an internal people committee that takes monthly feedback from the team and feeds this back to the senior leadership team. The people committee, combined with our think tank model, means your voice will always be heard at NOVOS, which will help to shape the company into a company you are proud to work for and co-own.

Sam Hurley from Novos
Article by Sam Hurley
Sam is the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of NOVOS. With nearly a decade-long experience in organic search, Sam has helped many eCom brands grow. His area of expertise includes SEO strategy, Magento, international SEO, and headless CMS with Javascript.

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