By Natalie R. Schrimpf | Photo by Scott Shaw
The seasoned internet marketing professional is president of The Search Guru, a search engine marketing/search engine optimization company that services medium and large businesses in North America. Her firm’s expanding customer base includes lead generation businesses, e-commerce clients, retailers, higher educational institutions, nonprofits, and business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients.
Carruthers gains tremendous satisfaction in helping clients achieve success. She accomplishes this by teaching them how search engine marketing can turn their websites into lead-generating, cash-churning, high return-on-investment (ROI) sales channels.
“I love it when folks need to hire,” she says.
She also enjoys giving her employees the opportunity to do what they do best.
“A lot of our employees used to have their own businesses and didn’t like to sell or didn’t want to handle the problems. I’m happy to do those things and allow my employees to really thrive and just do what they love. It gives me great pride.”
Launched in 2003, The Search Guru is a virtual company with eight employees who work remotely from their home offices. Although some reside as far away as Texas, Florida, and California, most are based in Northeast Ohio.
Not having a centralized location is actually a benefit to the company, Carruthers says.
“You’re not constrained to the immediate geography for talent but can choose folks based on their merits rather than whether or not they live near the office,” she says.
Employees appreciate the flexibility that working remotely affords, which improves their quality of life and helps with retention, she adds.
“We have a lower turnover rate as a result, which benefits our clients. And because we can hire solely on ability rather than geography, we’ve been able to put together a talented team that enjoys working together.”
Carruthers’ staff this year has generated a $9.36 return on investment for the company’s active SEO clients, she says. And her employees regularly produce a $5 return and higher on ad spends and pay search.
“The team is just really good at what they do and is very collaborative,” she says. Collaboration is especially key in digital marketing, she adds, because everything is connected online, and no single marketing factor is completely isolated from another.
Her data-driven company is unlike competitors in that it focuses on different platforms and stresses balance, diversification, and lead flow, she adds.
“Diversification is so important,” she says. “If you own a company that relies mostly on one large client, your company would suffer greatly if that client disappeared. The same is true with a company’s marketing channels. If a company receives most of its lead flow from just one channel, it would suffer if that channel dried up.”
Carruthers adds that her company works with clients to look at the channel mix to make sure they understand how the website works overall. “Whether you’re a business owner, a VIP of marketing or head of IT, you want stability and diversification in your lead flow. We educate our clients on how to accomplish that goal.”
A skilled webmaster and web developer with a journalism degree, Carruthers regards herself to be both a “search marketer and technologist.”
“Although I never was a practicing journalist, what I loved about the program was that it taught me that I could learn anything,” she says. “I was always a wannabe tech. The great thing about online marketing is that I get to play in both the creative and analytical space with technology, so I’m never bored and get to work with all kinds of people.”
As an entrepreneur, she recalls the challenges of the early days when she felt pressure to be exceptionally good in numerous areas. But as her company grew, she remedied the situation by hiring people who were better at certain tasks than she was.
“Trust in yourself and remember that you started the business for a reason — to serve people, not so that you can exist in a pressure cooker,” she says. “You’re here to have fun and celebrate the results you achieve.”
As the oldest of three girls growing up in Albany, Ohio, Carruthers recalls admiring her parents’ positive outlook. They were very resourceful and taught their children that anything can be accomplished through hard work and commitment, she says. “I grew up with the expectation that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do with some time and effort.”
Carruthers was named one of the top women in SEO for 2012 by Level343.com.
Her background includes serving as director of Search Solutions and as a consultant and faculty member of SuccessWorks, an internationally renowned search firm serving enterprise-level corporations. Additionally, she was internet marketing manager at Pioneer-Standard Electronics, where her company’s eBusiness team was recognized by PC Week Magazine as third-best B2B program in North America.
For more information: thesearchguru.com
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