John Vuong’s experience of working with more than 5,000 local business owners inspired him to start his own company, Local SEO Search, in 2013. John’s expertise is on small and family-owned companies and the blood, sweat, and tears it takes for these businesses to succeed. Although there are many SEO tips and tricks in this episode, the real value is for people who own or manage a local business.
Me and you were average people. We probably skip the ads and we feel like the results that appear on the map or below are earned Google already vetted them. So you are a trusted Google, and whenever someone clicks on it, your site and they reach out, they already know that you are solid, right. You are one of the two or three other vendors that they want to see and work with.
Welcome to the Establishing Your Empire show. A podcast that inspires entrepreneurs, creatives and future business owners to pursue their passions, grow their organizations and build their empire. My name is Daran Herrman and creatively I’m best known for my photography. But business wise my claim to fame is growing a company from $15K per month in online sales to breaking the one million dollar a month barrier. And I’m sitting down with interesting people to talk about their process, the lessons they learned and how they have Established their Empire’s.
I got John Vuong here, an SEO, local SEO expert. It’s going to be a very exciting podcast cause I am in the SEO world as well. I love marketing getting people out there and be, you know, be able to be found on Google as opposed to just big businesses. Right. So. John, why don’t we just start off with, you know, what’s your, what’s the elevator pitch?
Who, you know, who are you, what you do. Okay. Yeah. So, I, I started this agency seven years ago. I founded it, it’s called local SEO search. And really what we do is we help small, medium size, family run businesses, mainly in the service sector, but mainly verticals that are, focused on delivering products and services in a local community.
Right. I like your local dentist, plumber, physio, Cairo, mom and pop, but really sustainable businesses. I really want to partner with them to generate more visibility for them on, Google in particular, and expose them to more opportunities. Right. Because a lot of people just don’t get how it works with Google.
So I really want to partner and. Form a longterm relationship with business owners that want to transform and provide a more digital presence for their business. So I want to kind of go, go back in time cause I’ve read your sh your history. And I think it’s very interesting and it makes sense that you got into SEO, but maybe give us, you know, let’s go back before the SEO days, you know, kind of what, what was kind of maybe your first gigs or whatever that kind of got you on this path.
Right. Yeah, definitely. so I’ll go way far back. So I, I started my, I guess I didn’t even know at the time, but when I was here, growing up, I had a newspaper rope and at that time I know I hear a lot of stories. I T I hear a lot of entrepreneurs starting, you know, lemonade stands paper or whatever. My reason was really, I had to support or.
Find food and support my family. Right. And buy items for myself. Like if I needed t-shirt or shorts, I would have to pay for it myself. So we came from immigrant family moved. To Canada from Vietnam during the war. So my parents came without much, right. We didn’t know the language. We were in government housing and really were, we knew was ourselves, right.
We had to support one another. And so growing up, that’s all I knew, which was family and taking care of each other. And during, you know, growing up from teenagers up to my college years, I had multiple jobs and. It wasn’t really like understanding I was really doing, but I wanted it an opportunity to really see what was out there.
Right. So I, I got gigs from restaurant waiter jobs to factory jobs, to lawn care, to accounting in inside an office to you name it. Like I kind of did it with like 20, 30 different jobs. Right. And yes, some may have lasted for a week. Some may have lasted for a year. Right, but it gave me an opportunity to see I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy.
Right. And that’s it. Beauty, I believe in living in a Western society, because you have options, you have the ability to do whatever you want. If you had the willpower to get a job or not. Right. so really for me, early stages, it was all about just discovery being curious to see what’s out there and, yeah, right after college.
So I finished my, college degree, agree in business finance and. Once I finished, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. honestly I really wanted to continue traveling because I had that one exchange program during college, out to England. And I loved that experience. It allowed me to, you know, meet new people, have a new culture that I never embraced in my life.
I’ve never flew in my life until that time. outside of, you know, growing up when the extent of travel that I had was. An hour commute from the town that I lived in. Yeah. Which was Hamilton, Ontario to Toronto. And it was really a fair that we had free tickets too, because you know, my parents were ungoverned assistance and that’s the only thing they can afford us.
Right. So to me, that’s all I knew in terms of travel. And so for me to travel outside, To a college, an hour away and then flying to a new country that was like, unheard of. Right. So just that whole experience, allowing me to see what was potentially available, for myself, for the world. And so many people, so many opportunities.
So curious. I was always trying to ask questions and absorb as much as I can because. You know, going to a new country, you get to see so many different types of ethnicities, languages, cultures, you name it. And it was amazing, right? Yeah, because for me, I was fairly sheltered, I would say. Right. so it just allowed me to.
Open up a little bit. And my first job was really in sales and, it was advertising sales and I didn’t really know I was good in sales or I didn’t even know what sales really was all about, but I had to take it on because it was a great opportunity for me to start paying off my debt. Right. Because going to college, I had to fund it.
Yeah. Jump in real quick. Cause I, I love that. The fact that you’ve got a lot of jobs at a young age, so my first. Java’s at 13 years old, same kind of upbringing where like, you know, if I wanted to t-shirt or shorts or even, you know, a pair of decent shoes, like that was all on me. you know, ever since I can remember which shape really shaped a work ethic that you’d even know what’s happening.
Right. You didn’t know you’re doing this workout that you just know you need money. Right. So any, I think it’s interesting, cause I don’t know how many kids actually go and get a job and all that. and I don’t even know what my question is, but do you, I mean, like if you have a teenager, you’re going to make them work at a young age or like any thoughts there, of how that shaped you of working really young and having to have all those experiences 10 years before a lot of people have them.
Yeah, I think that allowed me two. I guess it’s all about experience over education. I feel like now that I look back, right, it’s like anything could be taught in a book. You can read it on your own. Right. But real life experience, real relationships. That’s what it’s all about. Right. Getting to know real people with real questions and genuine people, real authentic, raw questions.
Right. And then the experiences, as much as there’s digital experiences today, it will never be real life flying meeting, going to a different country or culture and real experiences because those memories will last a lifetime. Right. and it can never be replaced. And I also do agree with the, the traveling.
There’s something about immersing yourself into a new city, a new culture, a new area, even if that’s, you know, with the U S we are pretty lucky that it is so massive. So my first travel experience was Washington, D C as like a senior in high school. Cause we went to nationals for this government, kind of pitch competition.
And that was amazing to me. And then, and then my first overseas experience, it was times that, but, You know, I really do think it’s not only is it motivational now at my age, like I, I have to travel. I can’t right now so much, but, when I do travel as kind of a nice reset period for me to get kind of back into the motivational mind, creative mindscape because it’s really easy to just get task heavy in the daily world, but, back to your, so, so now you take a sales job, right?
And go ahead and continue your story. Yeah. So I don’t think I answered your question going, like I look back, I would say, because I do have a young child right now when he becomes a teenager, even before that I would want to embrace him with travel. So I’m thinking of humanitarian stuff, which is looking at third world countries and seeing how though 98% of the population really live right.
Get them grounded on. How fortunate and lucky he is living in a Western society in brace with what he has and feel fortunate with what he has. Right? Because the more raw it is on understanding what he has and appreciating it is, and being grateful, the better he’s going to become growing up as a human, right.
As a person. So I’m more like. That’s why I learned growing up, like I was able to travel and very fortunate, I know enough to do so and going to multiple continents, continents, and seeing how, you know, rundown or third world countries, people live versus what we live. Right. And really get nitty gritty on the community and speak to them directly.
Right. That’s what it’s all about. Like real people, real connection, real time, you know, it just that’s. That’s what life is about. Right. I love it. so that’s the answer, but I want to get back to my story. So, so in terms of like, yeah, my first job, It was 17 years ago. So, back in 2012, 2003, I finished school and, I, I got this job.
It was really sales, advertising sales. It was, it was called the red pages. Right. And yes, everyone heard of the yellow pages. Everyone knew it was a printed directory. Own books, phone numbers. This was the, was the first printed directory of websites going to every single home in business. I thought it was a great idea because Google didn’t really take off.
Yeah. And internet was really slow at the time. It was still a dialogue. Right. And people who had computers, they didn’t have smartphones back then. Yeah. Computers, desktop. So maybe it was the, or so very slow in terms of like, speed of finding information and just to get online, you know, it took at least a minute to just get the dial up going.
So you kind of want to have it. You didn’t just go online just to like go online, you use it and said, okay, I’m going to do this chat thing, or I’m going to research this paper or whatever. Usually kind of had a little bit more of a plan. Then just jumping on your computer and hitting Google Chrome and typing anything.
It had a little bit more of a process before that turning on the computer, took three minutes to boot up and then logging into the network. Like internet took a couple of minutes cause this guy lab, and then it was, I don’t even think Chrome existed at that time. It was probably I E right. And internet Explorer was dominant player.
So you had to. Go through 10 minutes before you were able to do a search. And even during browsing, it took a long time. Right? So people don’t well understand what has transformed last five to 10 years. Right. But back when I started, it was like selling this product and idea concept of ad space. And I enjoyed it because I was true believer in it.
And I excelled, I really did. I didn’t know much about sales, but I enjoyed the whole process. This process and the mentality of what goes through on like psychology of that human behavior, right on why, what triggers people to want to buy from you or the product, but really it boils down to you believing and, and they trusting you.
Right. And it’s all based on relationship building. So over the years I listened to so many audio books, went to a lot of live events to really learn more on sales techniques, mimicking and trying to like, just have mentors, but more people that have been successful. In my field. Right. And just following it yeah.
In replicating exactly what they did. So I didn’t want to do anything new because if don’t change, what has worked right. Or so just continue on that path. So, you know, for me, that sales journey. lasted for 10 years and I got better. I learn, I, you know, improved and I built tons of business relationships.
And, that’s when I felt I was ready to take on that new journey of starting my own agency. And I, I don’t know if this is right, but was there a step in there where you were, with the yellow pages as well? Or just the red pages? Yeah. So red pages, couple years, and then yellow pages or was it for five years?
So, yes, definitely. I moved over to yellow because even when I was at red, that was my goal. Right. It was still the dominant player, at that time in terms of advertising. Right. And if I wanted to play in the sales, got to be where everyone knew where I was in terms of a brain. Right. and it took some time to even get in, right.
Because it was more, it took, I was doing telemarketing. I was starting at the bottom and moving my way up for trying to get a book of business. Right. so just like anything you have to evolve, you got to prove yourself, you’ve got to earn your way. Right. And people don’t see that when you’re a business owner, they don’t, they expect you to just sit up there or come with a lot of money and become that, whoever it is.
Right. But they don’t see you grinding it out for many, many, many, many years, if not decades about the grind. I would imagine with yellow pages, if you’re a sales person, was that like outside sales, like literally knocking on people’s doors. Yes. So red pages and yellow pages and every sales environment was phone call, cold calls, knocking on doors, soliciting and, you know, networking, you name it, going to conferences, trade shows, doing whatever it is to generate new business, right.
Biz dev, And yeah, it was for me, I thought it was always a challenge, but I had a lot of fun with it coming up with different strategies. Just the fear of getting rejected. Wasn’t really anything for me. So I built a very thick skin and it was more a boat like that. That drive of wanting to win. And I know you said that was actually, my next question is how do you overcome the fear of rejection?
I understand that thick skin, but did any processes, or do you think I thought it in any way to help people that might not be able to do that as easily? Yes. So early days, it’s all about like your mental state, right? Where you need to come prepared for a lot of rejection daily. And you know, you train for that.
You basically listen to a lot of videos or audio or whatever. Right now it’s like videos on YouTube or podcasts or whatnot, but you have to be in a good state to really get bombarded with rejection all day long. Right. So if you’re going to have a goal of making a hundred calls today and speaking to maybe five potential prospects to make those five prospects, prospects actually, impactful, right?
Yeah. So what are you going to say during those five first five seconds to make a difference for them to actually continue to listening? Right. So just coming in with the same mind set and frame of mind so that you can empower yourself and get through the day. and it’s so hard, I’ve done telemarketing for a brief period of time in college.
And, you know, I mean, even when people call me still, even since I’ve done it, I still like, no, I just hang up the phone. And I think the thick skin I think becomes developed over years. Right. You don’t just show up with it. for me, I would just the excitement of the sale of closing the deal. I think overpowered my.
Problem with the no, you know, the re rejection. And for some reason, I, I, I always made it kinda like a game and only thing I did that on purpose, it just was like, you know, like you said, I’m going to call a hundred people. I need to get five to talk to me and close to, like, I think I got so, Convinced that those numbers were, were like the numbers to do.
And like, I just was working to go, okay, now, you know, I got one now I’ve got 99 more people to call, like you just check it off a sheet. Right. are you able to do that same thick skin when it’s your own company? Oh exactly. I built it. that’s how I started this company actually. people don’t see, like they think it’s very easy to just, and start a business without a lot of like skill set, but I’m so lucky to have a skillset of sales and marketing, because that allowed me to, come in with a lot of.
I know energy or not being afraid of rejection or failure, because what is the worst that will happen? They say no. Or they slam the phone on your face, like, or closing the door at you. Like, so what move on it? They don’t take it personally. Right? So for me, that’s what really got me going. Right? Cause I knew I was strong in sales and sales was the most pivotal, most important thing in the.
As an entrepreneur, right? If you’re going to be successful, you need to learn how to sell. And if you cannot sell, like knowing you will hire the best salesperson in the world, but they will not believe as much as you will. And they’re not going to work as hard as you will. Right. So you better learn how to do it.
You know, as good as you can. And I think kind of, yeah. one of the things that I hear from that also is you use those 10 years of having a corporate experience is to build your skills, your sales skills, your entrepreneurial-ship skills. And so if you don’t have, I have that, maybe it is a good idea to get a job for a little, right.
Maybe it is to learn in somebody else’s systems, right. And you know, somebody’s scripts and to understand what works and, and. To know when you have the sale kind of on the line, you know, where you can actually go for the kill and try to get the sell. Right. so let’s, let’s go. actually, so right now, like, okay.
Covance happening. Right. And I know we’ve got a whole lot of story to get to, but I don’t want to forget this. Small businesses, I think are the most hit here. I was looking at some charts. It basically everything with the stock market is, you know, five, six big companies, maybe 10 is doing extremely well.
And all the small capital and medium cap businesses are just struggling. So I want to get really tactical real quick and then we can get, we can go in any other direction is what could a small business do SEO wise, or even just business wise that you can recommend to help them during this time. Yeah. So last, I would say it’s been challenging for a lot of my clients and just the whole small business retail industry, right.
Service or product related. One thing I always want to let people in on is trying to own your clients, right? Which is own your database. And a lot of people forget about that. They spend so much money on advertising trying to cultivate new customers, but they don’t even have a system or a process where they’re dripping with newsletters or an active.
Information email or social media fee. And if you have worked on that for many, many years, or if you haven’t yet better start scraping your existing database and staying, keeping them top of mind, because communication is more pitiful with all today than ever. Right. Constant updates, because with COVID, there’s always something going on stage one, stage two, and you need to inform your active clients, your loyal customers on what’s going mine, how you are adapting and pivoting.
And what are your hours? Like? What changes you have? Like, are you doing PPP E or, you know, what are the measures? Because those are the most loyal customers and they’re the ones that will refer you business. So you take care of your customer base. So. That’s one thing I would always advise people do, but in terms of like digital and SEO standpoint, I mean, it’s more important than ever today that to have a digital presence, right?
Like if you haven’t looked at buildings website and making sure that people can easily find you navigate and look for you or service or product, you’re missing a huge opportunity because people are spending way more time in front of a computer today than five months ago. All right. And what do you see as the positive future after covered?
Because there’s obviously some negative aspects and Wingo on those all day, but I mean, to me, I got excited about the new world that we’re getting in here. I think we’ve moved forward five, 10 years and a lot of these digital spaces. So what, what, what do you see the postcode COVID world for these kind of local businesses?
digitally. Yeah. So I think it’s going to be a hybrid model, because a lot of people we’ll dictate what’s going to happen, right. Users, user behavior. So if users expect things. Which has easy navigation, easy transaction Eve, easy, never does delivery. Just like the Uber’s, the Jesse’s or whatever it is, right.
For doors. They expect things at their fingertips. Right? Social instant. Right. So you just have to quickly adapt to what that user expects and wants. However, you still need to be core to your foundation of running a really solid business and focus on what is important to you, right. As a business owner.
So there’s a hybrid model of, yes, you’ve got to take care of your active clients, but what are the new customers potentially seeking you out using in terms of content? Platforms mediums. And how are they searching for you? Right. So, you know, as much as there’s so much information out there producing a lot of different forms of media and content and trying to cultivate new business, it’s all all about like understanding who your ideal fit is saying, who your tribe and persona of clients are, and then cater that message towards them.
So, I would say hybrid of bricks and mortar traditional, but really take into account like your website is what a traditional Brits and mortar was five or 10 years ago today. And it could be way more robust cost. And if you’re willing to take on that next step and challenge, you can make it like a storefront and you may not even need a storefront anymore to save a lot of your costs and invest more on digital.
And then with the COVID, let’s say that you have a limited budget, but you’re you, you, you know that you got to go do something, right. And you can take this, any kind of a business that you want to take it in. You got a limited budget, but you need new, you need more customers. It’s not paying your bills right now.
And you got all of these employees that you want to make sure that they have, you know, you want to provide for them. What would you recommend them to do? Like right now, So I, I hear your question. It all depends on the niche. w what stage you’re in, like, what, what position you’re in, in terms of, like, do you already have some solid client base or are you just cultivating new clients?
And also, how long have you been in business? Right, because that will depend on how you strategize in terms of marketing. Because if you, if you already have an existing client base, Market within your existing base, that’s the easiest way to grow your customer base. But if you’re looking for new and, you know, acquiring new customers, you need to figure out like, as urgent as you want to grow your business, people are to shop, right.
So. What is their mindset like and how do you drip them so that they get closer to the end goal of making a purchasing decision. So where should you invest? Is it top of the funnel information or near the end of the funnel, but you need to position yourself as the expert, no matter what. Right? So invest into multiple streams of different, various forms of digital and understand the value.
Everything brings to the table. Right. I wouldn’t say just do one because it’s hard to know if that one thing we’ll work like Facebook ads or Google ads or SEO, right. Or creating video and putting on YouTube and flying it. Like, will that be the one savior? I would say probably not. Yeah, I agree. And I actually love the, the thought there is if you’ve been around for a long time, because I think a lot of the businesses, especially like restaurants, it’s spit on Brown for a long time.
And haven’t really innovated over the years are a lot of them are failing. But I think the key takeaway of if you’ve been around for a bit is, you know, you gotta market hard to your own customer base because they’re there, they’re loyal. But they it’s. Hey, if you’re not in top of mind, we forget about you.
Like, it’s not nothing personal. We, we just do. That’s why we all do these marketing activities is there’s a million options, especially when we’re talking about restaurants. I live here in Austin, Texas. There’s there’s even new ones popping up during COVID. We just got a restaurant the other day does just opened, like two weeks ago.
So, you know, market heavy to your base and stay top of mind. So, to go back to, and I know I’m jumping around, but I didn’t want to forget about COVID-19. And I do feel like a lot of people get a lot of value of the covert chats. So when, when you started your own company, when did you think that?
Like, why, how did you make that leap forward of saying, okay, I’m not going to just get another job. I’m going to do my own thing. Okay. So this is interesting because for me at that time, seven years ago, I just left a fairly decent job. Like I was at yellow pages, presence, gold circle. I was earning pretty good six figures or whatever.
And I basically said, I can continue doing this, but customers might, my pain, active book of business clients were frustrated. They knew that medium was something they were going to eventually move away from. Right. So writing was on the wall telling me that I either go with the shrinking sinking ship or, or I pivot and figure out what my next move was.
I re invested five years there and it was either finding another job in sales or, try something right new. But while at yellow pages, like I mentioned, a lot of my customers were saying like, look. I’m not getting the same return on investment that I used to get five, 10 years ago. I would be spending more money today than I used to.
And not as many calls right now as me rep my revenue is dropping. Like all these signs were there. So then I was like, look, I knew there was a disconnect there. So where are people going? You know, traditional media was still print, trade shows, television billboards, and all that stuff. But what’s the new media, like I’m hearing a lot of buzz from Google.
I’m using Google myself. I’m like, okay. Paid ads and then was organic ad. And for me, organic was very to yellow pages because people are in control. It’s earned space and you position yourself as a leader, an expert. Right. So I had to figure out how that would work. But before I did that, I was like, I was very lucky in a sense where my wife, we just recently got married and she was fully supportive.
Right. And that was one big critical point in my life where if I had to do it myself, I don’t know if I could have, because the first couple of years I had to grind it out. I was bootstrapping. I didn’t pay myself. I was paying. Do you want all my staff and every, all the systems and processes and software and all that stuff.
But for me to have tried to do it myself, but with all the other obligations, like mortgage or rent or food shelter and all that stuff, I don’t know if I could have right. I I’m lucky. I’ll be honest with you. And I was fully supportive with my support system. And with that in mind, I was able to elevate and grow and make a lot of mistakes early years.
but I was out there just selling, right? Like I knew my strength was selling. So I went out there sold and I got clients, but then I had to figure out how to do this stuff because. I didn’t even know anything about SEO. I just knew that people wanted it and I sold it. It was more like now I have to figure out how to perform that duty.
Yeah, I understand that completely. And I think that’s a good segue into the next question of, you know, SEO is kind of this one area where everybody kind of knows what it is, but not really. and I don’t know if we need so much to define it so much, but maybe what is. Your approach to SEO. What do you, what do you do that’s maybe a little unique or exciting to you?
It could be the exact same thing that everybody else does. cause I, I guess, let me let, I’ll let you ask the question and I can kind of answer my question side of it too. Cause I think there’s a lot of areas, SEO, there’s the tips and tricks and tweaking and you know, back office stuff. And then there’s a lot of other things too to SEO.
So, I’ll let you take it any direction you want, I guess. Yeah. So SEO, as I kind of learned over many, many years and going to conferences, reading, why watching tons of, you know, informational stuff, it was all about like, just positioning yourself as that leader, that expert, that thought leader, authoritative figure in your local industry niche in your market.
Right. So that people, your customers will then. Look for you wanting a service, they’ll seek you out right. With a keyword or whatnot. And you’re top of mind, you’re digitally appearing on that first page. So what is important for you to understand as a business owner is there’s a lot going on in the backend.
There’s over 200 plus signals and Google is not just going to focus on. You because you are now writing a blog or now that you have a website that is creating fresh content. Well, other people have been doing it for 10 plus years before you write, or, and there’s millions of other websites, or if not, billions competing for certain keywords and certain phrases that you want to compete for.
Right. So how do you expect to compete with them? So that’s the dilemma. Everyone has to go through and understand, right? The challenges. A lot of people think it’s very easy. Everyone thinks that, well, I just got a call and they guarantee me. Right. They’ve gotten so. I guess people are jaded by this whole industry because they get calls, they get emails and they’re all false promises because it’s not Google, that’s representing themselves.
Right. It is other people that think they know what they’re doing. But they have no solid track record. And you don’t know who they are in the back end, where, which country and what are they doing performing, because this is like a black box happening because it’s all Google and people don’t understand how Google works in the first place.
So for me, it was all about like understanding what this Google algorithm is all about. There’s hundreds of pages that you can read tactically on how their RankBrain AI works. What dictates our website and why it’s important. So the more of the, I guess, Standard stuff that you probably hear about keep producing good content, backlinks reviews, reputation on page fixes, technical fixes.
Yes. Those are solid foundational stuff, but I’m always thinking like you as a business owner, all you care about is being on the first page or phone calls, revenue, increasing sales, so that you. See a good ROI, right? Because that’s what yellow pages clients, all they cared about was right. So for me, that’s the exact same approach I take on with all my clients.
All they care about is getting good return on their investment. Right. I pay you 5,000 bucks. I better get 20,000 in return or whatever completely. And that’s always the case, right? If you’re not pitching ROI in no matter what business you’re in, it could be the marketing companies, SEO companies, you could be selling any type of service that that’s what people care about.
My approach to SEO is, you know, I think we have a similar, I think a lot of people who’ve done it for a long time. Have very similar stuff. One that one approach to I do like is. lot of times we can make these quote unquote, you know, blogs or SEO pages, landing pages. But I like to make those kind of sales pages too, because look got to have all those keywords in there.
Anyway, Mazda, we’ll get some excited about your service. And I think that’s one differentiator differentiator that a lot of people will make an SEO page. And it looks like an SEO page, especially, especially, you know, five, 10 years ago. because I also said that I think of that customer flow. Let’s see, we get you, you know, ranking with that page.
Let’s also make sure that the customer converts on that page, right. They buy your service or your product. and, and it is funny that you talk about the black box of SEO in those, so many people that are just spamming you $79, guaranteed. I think they just care about getting that $70 $79 from you for a couple months.
Right. And then you shutting them off, right? They’re not there to stay around. On the journey with the customer. Right. I don’t know, as soon as it’s a funny world and it changes so often, I think, you know, I think we’re both a little bit, you’re more technical. It sounds like the me on the SEO side, because that’s constantly changes.
So I’ve kinda, that’s somebody else that does that for me, that, that’s always been good in that, you know, and I kind of stay away from the tips and tricks and the, that they’re just, you know, it always is changing too, but to me, Whether it’s SEO or ads or any in, in just any type of marketing, it’s still has to have that human element of, okay, I like this person.
I like this company. I want to do business with this person or they answered my question, you know? but anyway, we can go all day with this stuff. I think, So, I, well, and I think you might’ve already answered this, but my next question was kind of going to be something about like a common myth of SEO.
So besides the black box places, what’s some other common myths that people fall into, I think. Okay. So we always get the same thing kind of questions, right? How long will it take? And is there a guarantee. Right. And the both questions are very similar as I answer. I’m like, I don’t know the answer, but I’ve seen clients rank after a month and I’ve seen clients take three years.
Right. and is there a guarantee? No, because I don’t own Google, but I can try to position you as the expert. Right. So it’s like putting and letting them understand, like it’s. It’s a journey, right? It’s all about like who, who are you benchmarking with? Right? Because if you have even ventured in this journey of digital and you expect to get really good ranking overnight or in a couple of months, and you’re competing with some heavy hitters that have invested in SEO for like five, 10 years, like good luck.
Right. So they have to be informed enough to understand what they’re getting themselves into. And that’s the one big black hole, like a lot of these businesses that are jumping into SEO, they don’t really understand what actually. Happens in the backend and what needs to happen. Right. And, you know, I’ve seen a lot over the years in terms of like, and I, actually, the reason I continue doing this is because I love to work with good business owners that are a core on small business, because that’s what I really connect with people, real people with real solid.
Foundation of taking care of their local tribe or making an impact in their local community, because those are the core of what human element is all about. Right. Taking care of their people. Right. And I love, you know, Helping them achieve that in a greater way. Right. Making more of an impact. And so for me to partner and build a strong relationship with them, and I know they’re good people in general, and they’re going to take care of their clients.
I know I’m doing good by partnering with them because I’m. You know, just doing good in general, right. Versus just taking on anyone that are in it for themselves. I totally try to avoid that at all costs because if they’re just in it and wants a guarantee and all that stuff, and I’m like, that’s not me.
Right. Go keep looking, keep shopping around. Have you ever had to fire a client? And if you have any recommendations on how to do that, Yes, I fired, I would say three or four clients over the years. I’ve done a really good job, vetting them over the years as well. So, as much as the inbound, they seek us out.
It’s more about. Asking the right questions to see if they’re going to be a good fit for my agency. Right. so yes, we’ve had a couple of referrals actually that I didn’t do a good job vetting because I thought my clients have already vetted them. And I didn’t go through the same due diligence that I would have if they were a cold outreach to me.
So someone that were referred, and a couple instances where. One or two months down the road, they were more of a nuisance because they were the ones that wanted to be in full control of my whole campaign. And I was like, okay, are you, are you doing the work or am I, and why are you hiring someone? If you think, you know what you’re doing?
Go ahead and do it right? Because it’s crazy. It’s like you hired them plumber, but you tell the plumber exactly what they need to do. Well, why even hire someone do it yourself then? All right. I completely agree. I love the vetting process, you know, it’s kinda like when you hire somebody, you know, why don’t we, instead of hiring them in and then having to fire them, you know, do your vetting process a harsher first.
So that way you don’t have to fire them later. what about selling against, you know, just ads, like, you know, when we talk about SEO, Yeah, there’s obviously the, it takes a minute. It’s a snowball effect. It’s going to get bigger over time, but it’s not right now. And a lot of people want it right now. So any, any tips or tricks of selling against spending money on just, you know, Facebook ads, Google ads.
so we have a lot of clients who continue to do ads. They compliment SEO with ads, or eventually they move away from ads to just right. I always, you see, try multimedia mix. See what works for you because every product or service will have different mediums, right? So if you are a product, continue doing Facebook or Instagram to promote and, you know, display yourself with a really good right, good landing page, good offer.
And you might get new transactions right away. But if it’s longterm type of client, and this is where SEO can really provide really tremendous value, you position yourself as. What is your ideal client look like? What’s that persona and create a whole campaign, your website, your whole marketing campaign to focus on speaking directly to that ideal customer.
Right? And then when you start ranking and you start getting out there. People who read those landing pages and service pages and any digital presence. Yeah. You have knows exactly. If you fit that mode, then they’ll reach out to you. And you’ve already been, I added them to a point where they already know so much about it.
They touch it on every single property. You check out your testimonials, case studies, all they care about is reference checks or price. Right. And that’s what you want eventually. Right. But it takes time to build it and people. You know, ads are right away quick, you can put it up within 24 hours or a couple hours.
Right. And see if it works or not. And that’s fine. But majority of the customers today, users are staying away from ads because they feel like being bombarded. Right. They’re not in control of their search. They are pushed stuff at them. So me and you were average people, we probably skip the ads and we feel like the results that appear on the map or below are earned Google already vetted them.
So you already trust Google in a, into a soul deep that they have done their job. And whenever someone clicks on your site and they reach out, they already know that you are solid, right. You are one of the two or three other vendors that they want to see and work with. I love it. So what did, what kind of marketing activities do you do for your own company?
Like how do you get new customers? it’s a lot of inbound right now. So, over the years, yeah, early days it was all outbound telemarketing trade shows go out there, market market market. and just see if people are interested in SEO. Right. But then over the years we built some more, you know, good reputation industry, you know, Just get out there more, right.
Because it’s all exposed. And if you’re not top of line or if you’re not available, when they’re seeking you out, then you’ve missed an opportunity. So, we do have our podcast as well. so we, we have another platform there. We do a lot more speaking now. so, you know, just getting out there as much as possible and writing for publications, guest posts and other stuff.
but it’s, it’s all about like marketing activities, right. but it’s also inbound. So the type of leads we’re getting is way more qualified, way more near the end of the funnel. And they are. So interested that we probably turned down more clients than we should because early days we would have taken everything off.
Right. But now we have a process to vet them because we were kind of different. We do one year contracts and we don’t. You know, everyone even wants six months. I’m like no seven years of one year contracts. So we do a lot of hard work at the beginning to vet the clients. And we have a very high retention rate as well.
So the type of client that we are going after our longterm relationship built type of clients, and a lot of people that own like an agency myself included like, What’s interesting to me is, is that you all, it sounds like you only do SEO, right? so why haven’t you done four different services, web design, SEO ads, you know, you know, any, any thoughts there?
Yeah. So we, we actually do website design as well because it’s a very close compliment, but ads, we get asked daily and we’re not experts. And I don’t want to be, I want to be known for SEO, local SEO, someone that knows small, medium sized businesses inside out, because that’s what I worked and I’ve worked with thousands of.
Business owners in the small, medium sized space. So I’m an expert speaking business, you know, understanding how they run and what triggers them in every niche. Right. So I can relate to those people. And that’s what you need figure out like when you are running any business, specialized hone down BV expert is trying to be broad or general, right.
And you’ll never be the best at being a generalist, but if you’re an expert at something, that’s where you can really. Be known for that. Right. And I, I completely agree, because you can also, your tension can only go so far, especially as the business owner, so it gets stretched for sure. What about, what’s the, you know, a crazy or memorable moment of you owning a company?
Like anything that’s happened? Any fun stories? Yeah. Like there’s so many different, stories and experiences as a business owner because you’re running around. So many hours in the day, so limited on your time and resources, early days, you’re trying to do everything yourself. And I think at the beginning I was making a lot of mistakes, hiring the wrong type of people, because they, I was really focused on skillset as opposed to personality and core values right on what my goals are and the company’s goals.
And if they’re in alignment, Like the staff. So, I made a lot of mistakes, hiring wrong people early days. And then I had to fire them to find people that actually fit my kind of vision and what I’m after in terms of like my goals, right. Like my, my company goals. And we’re, we have to be all in alignment because staff is the most important people in your whole company.
Clients you can fire and hire any time your staff are not low or they’re not happy, or their interest in the work that they’re doing and they don’t feel accomplished. Or, they have that motivation. Like you’re not doing the best job you can. So I’m always trying to cultivate good employees and.
Embrace them teach them, become more of a leader, right? Like give them more responsibility, give them more, development and understanding of how to be a good person. Right. because over the years, you’re, you’re hiring the twenties and 30 year olds. Right. And you have way more life experience than they do.
So you want them to jump in, and. Taken on as a new career, right. For them. And a team can make your life, especially as a business owner, so much easier, a good team changes. It could change your life, just like your daily, just make you happy about what you do. A bad team can make it not very fun. what about like the normal day in the life?
Like, is there any kind of processes you have or, you know, something similar that you do that keeps you. Going on track, you know, weird Workday is anything that’s, you know, unique or different. I think it’s all about habits. for me, You know, I’m fortunate that, my, my son right now, like he’s a little bit like he’s four, right.
Turning five, and he’s going into school September, but right now he’s in summer camp. So I’m able to actually work. But during COVID, it was very challenging because he was at home. Right. And my wife and I were both working out and it’s very difficult to actually concentrate, but I wanted to continue my routine, which is wake up early.
So I wake up at five I self-reflect and I read, and I do what I need to do for one to two hours. Right. Drink my tea, coffee, whatever. And then. After seven o’clock I make my breakfast with my son, we have breakfast and then I’d take him to school. Right. but then it gives me a chance to really regroup and have that task list or look, review what I’m doing for the day, or kind of make notes on what I need to accomplish right early.
And then. During the day, I really know what I need to do. Right. And I’ll do the best I can then w even though there’s going to be interruptions here and there, because that’s the life of a business owner. And then right at like four or five every day, I pick up my son and I turn off my phone and I. Don’t even connect with technology.
I don’t go on social. I don’t care about my business. I care about taking care of my people, which is the most important people in my life, my wife, my son, right. And all my friends and family. So, and even this applies on the weekend as well, because that’s most important to me. And everyone’s different at different stages in their life.
Right? If you’re just starting off, you have no children and you’re single, of course you can devote all a hundred percent to the business. But for me today, I. This is important to me, but before, or when I was single or when I got married, it was only me and my wife and I probably should have devoted more time with spending more time with them, my wife, but she gave me the fuck to buoy to grow this company to what it is so that we can, you know, give that life, better, you know, Well, we can travel more.
We have more fun spending going for restaurants and all that other stuff, right? Yeah. So you mentioned kind of reading in the morning, Stephanie, any books or mentors that’s helped you along the way? Yeah. So I read a lot, IBM club Robin Sharma that alone. Want me to start that, 5:00 AM, ritual. and then I’ve been reading a lot about health and wellness lately, just because I, I haven’t really taken care of myself.
Right. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot. Be the best version of yourself. And the last six months I’ve read and tried everything from veganism, raw vegan, keto, paleo to, you know, everything carnivores. I’ve tried it. All right. And. I’ve read 30 plus books on it. and I’m listening to the podcast.
So I’m very interested in this topic, but even before I’ve been reading a lot of business and real estate books. Yeah. I’m interested in, right. Eventually I’ll probably look into stocks, right. Because that’s something of interest, you know, so whatever it is, that’s fine. if you enjoy, you know, fictional books or non-fictional or any travel books, just enjoy it and have fun with it.
Cause life there’s so much information out there. Right. And you’ve just got to own it and have fun. Don’t don’t take life too serious too, in regards to your career. Right. You know, whether it’s your own business or even before that, like what, what are you proudest of? Like, what’s something that’s really something that you just are really proud of.
Yeah. So right now, I, I’m very proud of what I’ve kind of been doing, taking care of my team. Right. I’ve grown my team. I started the agency with, freelancers. Right. And then I hired them full time and I built a team around that. Right. And yes, they are overseas, but they are like my family because I traveled there at once a year.
and it’s in Asia and I take them out for a week long, either a cruise or I fly them to a different country and we go on a resort, but it’s like, That was an experience I’ve always wanted because when I was in my twenties, my first travel trip with a company was paid for, because I earned it as a presence, gold circle, but it was most memorable trip in my lifetime.
So I’m creating memories for my team. Now that will last a lifetime. Right. So that’s what, I’m more proud of making an impact with people that actually, I know that. Want to be a part of this journey with me. That’s great. I love that you actually take them on those trips. That’s super fun. I’m gonna have to steal some of that.
what about you talk about when you growing up and you were working really hard at a young age? You know, any advice you’d give that 16 year old self? Just keep. Being curious, keep making mistakes, keep learning, get out there, right? Don’t stay in front of your computer and do social media all day.
Like go meet real people, talk to real people. And, I’m very grateful that yes, and my teenage years I was very sheltered, but when I started working, I was embraced with in sales. I was. Like their salespeople that were in the fifties and sixties, and these were generations older than me and I was working with, with them, learning from them.
And that allowed me to really learn about myself and what I looked up to in people, because I saw them as great fathers, great mentors, great salespeople, great business people. And. That’s what I strive to become. Right? Like people that were successful, but also took care of the family obligations. They had everything in order, right.
A great lifestyle, a great person that are open, right. Sharing, wanting to give. Right. And yeah. Do good with people that they touch. And that’s where I felt like being able to meet so many people in different generations and ages and decades and just. Surrounding myself with just good people. And so what about your future?
What’s the next five years? 10 years. What’s your outlook? What’s your future hold? Yeah, so I’m having a lot of fun. So seven years of this company, I’ve been to Asia seven plus times. and. I every year I try something different. Right. So I’ve been to Singapore. I’ve been to Vietnam. I do. In Malaysia, I go on cruises.
I do a lot of stuff, but that’s my fun time. Right? I’m still early stages of learning how to run a business because I meet so many mistakes. I haven’t really refined the art of processes and hiring, and I’m still learning. So. Maybe like, what I’m trying to do is still continue doing what I love, but learning from mentors.
So I haven’t even reached out to like SCO mentors or business mentors, but I’ve been able to grow the company and just fun with it. Right. So I think that’s my next stage, like scaling, but scaling at the level. I want to scale it because I don’t want to ever give up ownership. Or not being control of the ship.
Right. Because it’s all about just enjoying the moment and the journey. So life is not a race. It’s a slow and steady like journey. Right. And if you embrace it that way and you understand like I’m close to 40 now I still 40 years ahead of myself, right? So let’s meet, they get the best 40 years and let’s break it down.
What’s the next three months going to look like six months, one year, three year, five year, 10 years, break it down to the little subsections and what you want to accomplish. So goal set, and that’s why I always do. For myself and why learning sales. Right? Like have these small little buckets of Chibo things and then go for the big go home run.
But what does that look like? I have no idea. I love it. my last question I end every podcast with this is how would you like to be remembered? someone that just the person truly genuine, authentic making an impact by giving as much as they can. Right. So right now I’m more about giving to business owners, a digital presence, right?
With. Their SEO. but if I’m able to continue giving and making a larger impact by offering it for free, eventually because money wouldn’t be an issue. Sure. I would love to do that. Helping good people, good business owners, however, with the same core values. Right. So that’s what ultimately I would love to do.
Well, John was a big pleasure to have you on the podcast today. I really appreciate it. This is a, you know, So it’s so fun to be able to sit down and chat for an hour and learn, you know, everyone, these interesting people’s stories and how you’re doing it and your approach to SEL. I’ve got some notes I’m going to have to go back on and I refined my own services.
So, I really appreciate your time.