From Queen Square to the Queen’s award

Martin Woods and Reza Moaiandin established, an independent technical SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) agency, in 2014 - quickly basing the company at Leeds Beckett University's Business Centre office space in Queen Square. Over the past 10 years, SALT's relationship with LBU has grown - from sealing a deal with an important client using our meeting room facilities to learning tips from our financial masterclasses and now sharing their expertise with our students.

We met up with Martin Woods, Co-Founder and SEO Director, to find out more about's impressive journey so far.


Reza from Salt Agency with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace ceremony

Q1 - How would you describe SALT, and what inspired you to start the business?

Martin: I co-founded SALT with our Technical Director, Reza, as we were inspired by the increasing demand from businesses of all sizes for an independent, technically-oriented stakeholder to oversee their search engine performance. Our unique approach lies in our commitment to custom-tailoring everything we do to meet the specific business objectives of each client.

Before launching SALT, Reza and I devoted our evenings and weekends to crafting solutions for the technical SEO challenges website owners encountered. Each time we tackled a problem, we didn't just diagnose it — we also created a bespoke solution.

This practice soon caught the attention of others, leading to requests for devising solutions and implementing them. Our ability to succeed where other renowned, established UK-based SEO agencies had stumbled quickly earned us a reputation.

Q2 - It is SALT’s 10th birthday this year – In a nutshell, what was different then and now?

Martin: I'd say our journey started in the small office we rented from Leeds Beckett over at Queen Square. Back in those days, it was just us sharing a single space. Since then, we've seen quite the journey, moving offices a few times and stretching our wings to London and the US.

During this time, our team has grown significantly. Our main headquarters is in Horsforth, Leeds, which we moved into in 2020. We've got an outdoor workspace, and there's a gym right on-site, making it easy for everyone to keep fit and healthy. It's been quite the ride from our first little office to where we are now, with team members across the world.

Image of office building with trees on the left and a sign in the foreground

Q3 - How did you first hear about the Business Centre at LBU?

Martin: Reza was speaking with a friend, a former client of the Business Centre, who had previously taken up office space at another location.

At that time, we explored various alternatives, mainly in uninspiring, modern shared offices that simply didn't resonate with us. However, when we encountered the personalised, exceptionally friendly, and adaptable service, it was a stark contrast to the rest - truly standing out.

Fran Parkinson in the team understood our requirements perfectly, leading us to fall in love with our charming attic office instantly.

Q4 - How did the Business Centre help you in those early days?

Martin: The interconnective facilities were outstanding, enabling us to conduct crucial meetings in some truly remarkable spaces. This led to winning several key contracts that set everything in motion. I vividly recall a particular meeting at the Old Broadcasting House building where we sealed a deal right there and then - a partnership that has remained to this day.

On a personal note, it's incredibly rewarding to witness businesses that placed their trust in us years ago continue to flourish and prosper. In digital, it's quite uncommon to maintain such lengthy relationships with clients, which we deeply cherish at SALT. We see ourselves as an extension of our clients' internal teams, adding significant value to their operations.

Q5 - Tell us more about your journey as part of the Leeds Beckett business community?

Martin: The Leeds Beckett business community supported the foundations of our journey. The significance of this community cannot be overstated - it offered us not just a starting point but a source of encouragement and support.

The team's unwavering friendliness and readiness to assist have been helpful, reinforcing the importance of community and how it plays a crucial role in progress and success.

In the early stages of our business, we attended several classes through the Business Centre. The sessions run by Steve Baker particularly stand out for me. He advised on how to plan finances, ensuring a pragmatic approach was established early on. We also attended some useful mentoring sessions on when and how to hire.

Q6 - How has your business developed since your relationship with LBU began?

Martin: It's been a non-stop whirlwind for us. We quickly filled up our first space and needed to bring more people on board. Soon enough, we were on the lookout for more room.

Not long after we moved into our new office, while working on a project about making websites more visible online, we found serious security problems with Facebook. We tried to talk to Facebook about it, but when that didn't work, we went to The Guardian newspaper to help get our point across.

During this busy time, we've also changed how we work by having team members around the world and we now do more than just technical SEO. We're all about combining our tech know-how with creativity and strategic thinking to get the best results.

Global brands trust us in all these areas because we consistently deliver more than expected. We’re proud to work with enterprise businesses in the eCommerce sector who work on complex platforms like Salesforce Commerce & SAP Commerce - it’s not something everyone can do.

Q7 - What has been your career highlight with SALT so far?

Martin: In 2022, won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade. Reza received an invitation to visit Buckingham Palace, where he had the honour of attending a ceremony alongside King Charles III.

To finish 2023, our office had a special visit from the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, who presented us with a custom award piece for the Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The proudest moment of my career, however, was when SALT won the TechSEO Boost’s 2018 research award. This recognition really helped get our name into international spaces. We've collaborated with industry-leading giants as well as local businesses, maintaining high quality throughout.

Members of Salt Agency receiving the queens award

Q8 - Natalya Stecko, Content Consultant at SALT, has recently become a part-time Lecturer at Leeds Business School – can you tell us more about your roles?

Natalya: My focus lies in assisting master's students with their dissertation projects, applying my expertise by supporting students in their exploration of digital marketing within the business sector.

My ability to work as a Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and to share my expertise owes a great deal to SALT, which generously provided me with a part-time role while I was still working towards my master's degree. From there, I've grown with the company, regularly engaging in new and thrilling projects that both challenge and inspire me. The opportunities at SALT are endless, and I've even had the chance to go overseas, participating in a conference in Bulgaria where I shared my insights on a panel.

Q9 - What are the plans for SALT in the next 10 years?

Martin: As technology advances, so does our approach. We are developing innovative SaaS (Software as a Service) products, exploring AI, and beyond.

We are deeply engaged in exploring AI within marketing and SEO, striving to use its evolving capabilities to improve our strategies and workflows. This pursuit of innovation positions us at the cutting edge of technological advancement, ensuring we remain in sync with the rapid progression of artificial intelligence.

Looking ahead, we are excited about the prospect of unveiling new products that leverage the power of AI, offering our clients unparalleled solutions that are at the forefront of the industry.

Watch this space!

Q10 - What would you say to anyone with a new or early-stage business thinking about connecting with LBU?

Martin: A room is just a room - it’s people that make the difference. At LBU, they have a team that cares deeply and provides genuine support, allowing you to focus on the intricacies of operating your business.

For those at the beginning of a new venture considering engaging with LBU, I emphasise the value of surrounding yourself with people who offer more than just expertise.

Members of Salt Agency on a split staircase posing for a photograph