Tell us a bit about yourself? I understand you, your wife and dog have just moved to Colorado, how’s that working out for you all?
Darren, thanks for having me! I am indeed a Denver, Colorado based entrepreneur and growth marketing/SEO consultant. We just moved here at the beginning of 2017 from San Francisco, where we had called home since late 2013. Colorado has so far been fantastic – we get a lot of time outside skiing and hiking, the craft beers are incredible, and our dog has a yard so he’s happy.
One handsome looking canine! – Ed
How is business, is it getting easier or harder do you think to grow and scale?
Business is great. It is absolutely getting harder to manage on my own as Credo grows and scales. I find myself wanting to think more and more about processes and how to grow it without taking on too much overhead and costs. The problems are different as your business scales. I’m not anymore wondering *if* people want it and if it will work. Now it’s more optimizing while trying to keep my sanity!
How much of a coder are you?
What do you think is the toughest challenge facing SEO’s right now in 2017 when looking to attract new clients?
Honestly, I think it’s still pretty easy for SEOs to attract new clients if you are able to specialize and market yourself well! There are a lot of “SEO professionals” out there, but there still are not a ton who are really fantastic at what they do and able to market themselves well through speaking/blogging/etc. One mistake a lot of SEOs make is not being specific about the work they do and not talking about the work they do. Potential clients want to see logos of companies you’ve worked it, results you’ve gotten for your clients, and to be able to trust that you’ll get them the results they need.
What skillsets should SEO’s be concentrating on or improving to generate more traffic online for their clients in 2017?
Good old fashioned keyword research and interesting content coupled with great outreach still works wonders. Honestly though, I think SEOs should be less concentrated on keywords and content and more concentrated on the real things that build businesses, like local advertising for local businesses. I definitely recognize that it’s hard to get buy-in as “the SEO” to do stuff like this, so first focus on building trust with them (and reporting on the real business metrics!) and then offer to do some creative stuff maybe even at cost so you can talk about it later.
What’s your biggest frustration when matching clients to SEO’s? (or vice versa)
I’d have to say that my biggest frustration with clients looking to hire an SEO is that most, especially small businesses, still have zero idea what SEO is or what to expect from it. I see many who have worked with a bad consultant or agency in the past and thus want the other, but do not truly understand their own needs and thus what they need. I spend a lot of time learning about their company structure and goals, and from that making recommendations.
What should SEO agencies do to ensure they keep clients & reduce client churn?
Go visit them in person, or at minimum speak with them weekly about what you are working on. I have never lost a client that I went to see at least once a quarter and spoken with weekly. Too many SEOs believe that they can just move the traffic and revenue needle and be retained. The truth is, you do business with people you like. So, get to know your clients as a human and you’ll retain them longer!
Is just having a good web marketing website enough to win new SEO clients?
Definitely not, though it depends on what you mean by a “good” site. If your site has case studies, a clear value proposition, a clean way to contact you, and shows that you are indeed an expert then that can go a long way. But of course, you can’t win any marketing game with only your own properties. There are always opportunities for guest posting, doing Slideshares, local events, and so much more to build your roster of clients and name, even just locally to start.
For winning bigger clients what should an SEO company structure look like?
This is something I’ve been trying to impress upon marketers the world over – there is no ideal agency company structure. Some agencies have grown to $5M+ a year without account managers, while others have used account managers and specialists. Honestly, every client’s needs are going to be different so probably what the best company structure looks like is a flexible one.
What would you say are your own biggest challenges to growing Credo in the next few years?
Keeping my sanity :-). But seriously, I’m thinking a lot more about how I continue to grow the platform, both sides of it, and how I build an organization that is nimble enough to respond to market changes and customer needs quicker than I am currently able to do alone. If I had to guess, I’d say that the quicker I can build a team the better off Credo will be.
Any other projects on the horizon for you?
There are always more projects to do, but over the last year or so I have really been trying to give myself the gift of focus. It is so easy to get distracted by something that seems easier, but I really want to keep doubling down on this business and take it to heights that scare me.
The biggest and costliest mistakes I see businesses make when trying to hire an SEO expert are:
- Ommitting to ask for references that they can then chat with before hiring you
- Not understanding that SEO takes time to work
- Failing to understand that you actually have to implement the recommendations made in order to see real forward progress, especially with technical SEO. Gone are the days of just building links to make up for a bad site.
- Not understanding that SEO necessarily needs to be part of a full marketing operation. You can’t just do SEO and build your business. You also need to be doing other marketing work, such as email or social or ads, to grow your business even faster.
- Not speaking with enough potential agencies or consultants, especially if you do not understand what you exactly need. And if you do need to speak with someone, find someone on Clarity.fm (or even use the Credo Porter service) to get help defining your project before you go and hire someone.
Thanks John, much appreciated. If you, dear Reader, want to be featured on our web marketing blog then get in touch and tell us why we should include you! Or why not get matched up with an awesome SEO or digital marketing agency by checking out Credo for more information? <or – hint! – talk to us…>