8 Well-Respected Internet Marketers Share Some Surprising SEO Tips

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I was very fortunate to catch up with the greatest minds in the SEO and online marketing field. Let’s all learn and re-learn more actionable tips from top SEO’s in the Philippines and across the world.

Well, what do you know? Come on and let’s all meet these amazing people…

Gary Viray - Co-Founder Of SEO Companies Search Opt Media and Propelrr

Hi sir Gary, thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me sir. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO create an impact to it?

SEO awakened the marketing guy in me. Ever since I was a kid, I have already been marketing and selling concepts and whatnots to other kids to the point of generating sales/revenue that I used for my school budget. I knew I was good at it. I could market virtually anything. However, over the years, I wasn’t able to use such skill because I focused on other things. I focused on Math and numbers. I am glad that SEO took the best of both worlds of my passion – Numbers and Marketing, rolled into one.

Is SEO impactful to me? What do you think? =)

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

Try to read, So the Boss Gave In and We Won Against Google Panda 4.0 and of course, Search Opt Media itself which is an SEO company based in the Philippines and is now about to become a full-service digital marketing agency called Propelrr.

gary viray - search opt media

A Google Analytics Certified and a Google Adwords Qualified Individual, Gary Viray is certainly not your average internet guy. Having master’s degree in Mathematics Education and studied Engineering at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, sir Gary is passionate about analyzing data, crunching numbers and setting KPI’s. Follow him on Twitter @garyshack.

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

Philippines will be on the map sooner than we think as one of the best providers on SEO globally although there’s still a huge need to re-educate SEO practitioners that the old habit of doing things is no longer a viable option in order to further their careers. Every SEO practitioner in the Philippines must fight abusive entities that simply use them as drones, back office link builders, and whatnots.

SEO is a marketing profession. SEO is marketing. It needs solid strategies to resonate any brand’s DNA that search engines consume. It needs strategic thinking & creative individuals which I think abound in the Philippines. If we can position ourselves as what I’ve mentioned above, we’ll be taken seriously as real marketers online.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign?

SEO success is always based on defined KPIs and Targets. Every company is unique in terms of measuring its success. Maybe I can just simply share you my presentation on Slideshare entitled, How to Set Straight your Online (SEO) Campaigns with killer KPIs.

So again, how do I measure success on SEO campaign? It is based on set KPIs and Targets.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? what are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

For competitive niches, I usually look for gaps where competitors are somewhat weak. Doing SWOT analysis works well any time any day. There’s really no silver bullet that you can use as your template for all industries. But let me share you the ff:

1. Identify Content Gaps by looking into the buying cycle, interest, and users’ behavior.

2. Find those long tail keywords where there’s less competition in order to increase market share.

3. Do brand association with bigger brands. Align your client’s brand with those bigger brands by making it appear that they are of equal footing.

4. Compete on verticals where you can get better chances to win. This is where you can first set your anchor to gain initial traction from where you can slowly build the brand moving to the most competitive verticals or keywords in your niche.

Million dollar question: whatís the best food you have ever tasted?

Kobe beef from Kobe, Japan.

Who are your top 3 seo influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us?

Jim Boykins – Just head on reading Jim’s blog

Bruce Clay -  SEO Siloing: How to build a website silo architecture

Rand Fishkin – All white board Fridays by Rand Fishkin.

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

While we are simply focused on SEO on this interview, you need to leverage your skills to expand further into learning other channels. Being holistic in your digital marketing approach gives you better chances moving forward. Having a tunnel vision set on SEO alone is fine but then, that is not how I see things. SEO will never be dead for sure but if you hinge your SEO skill set to the broader spectrum of brand building and digital marketing, it will be a whole new game out there for you. Try reading something about brand engagement from a brand person’s perspective and you will know why there’s a need for you connect your SEO-fu to something related to branding and real marketing.

Sam Nam - Vice President of Marketing at Digital Room
sam nam

Sam Nam is the VP of Marketing at Digital Room, Inc where he lead customer acquisition, retention and analytics for a portfolio of subsidiary companies. Connect with him on Twitter @samnamiam.

Hi Sam, Thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me Sam. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO create an impact to it?

Thank you for the opportunity and your kind words, Fervil. It’s quite flattering.

You want a sneak peek into my life? Hmm… Well, I live in Burbank, California, with my wife, Gie. We’ve been married for two-and-half years and spent our first two years as a married couple in Metro Manila. We moved back to the U.S. at the end of 2013 and this year has been full of many exciting first experiences like teaching my wife to drive and moving into a new home.

SEO had a huge impact on my life, because without SEO I would’ve never met my wife! We met through work and she is my best friend and partner for life.

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

Back in 2010, my team and I were focused on building links through blog sponsorships and giveaways. Although we had good initial success doing blogger outreach, we found the process to be very time consuming. Many bloggers didn’t understand what type of promotion we wanted to do with them and often they didn’t reply for days, weeks or even months.

I came up with the idea of creating a social network for bloggers called GiveawayBlogs.com and ranked the site #1 for the search term “Blog Giveaways”. This network naturally grew to several thousand bloggers. The bloggers would sign up to do promotions in the form of product giveaways and sweepstakes. We recruited many other companies to offer sponsorships so there would be a variety of sponsors and promotions for bloggers to choose from.

The bloggers would already understand what type of promotion we wanted to do and they would also help each other promote their giveaway posts! This meant the bloggers were now reaching out to us instead of the other way around. They were also building links to the posts that contained links back to our sites through their social promotion. I’m sure you can recognize how effective this was for our link building.

We ran this program for two years and ranked thousands of high-competition keywords, but in 2013 we realized it wasn’t a good long-term strategy. For the past 18 months we have focused heavily on content marketing as the backbone of our SEO strategy.

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

I’m very excited to see the growth and changes in the Philippines SEO industry. The community is slowly evolving away from Adsense-focused SEO towards professional consulting and freelancing. This shift changes the conversations within the community away from individualism and towards cooperation. In 2014 we saw two new SEO events – GDI and SEO Summit, which were both very focused on sharing and teaching. I’m excited to see how the industry grows over the next few years.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign Sam?

Measuring success depends on your goals. For an e-commerce company like my own, we look at Y/Y growth of revenue from organic traffic, but we index that against the trend of total search volume within our industry and our market share of that search volume. The unique keywords Google users are searching for are constantly changing based on consumer trends.

For example, ranking first for iPhone 3GS in 2014 brings only a fraction of the visits it used to because user demands have shifted to newer products. It’s important to remember your rankings are part of a bigger ocean that is constantly shifting from high tide to low tide.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? What are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

First, you need to have a great product. You can’t win a race against a Porsche if you are driving a Toyota Vios regardless of how well you drive. Promoting a bad site or product is so much more difficult than promoting a good site or product. You need a unique selling proposition that compels people to become believers and fanboys and fangirls!

A compelling proposition allows you to fully leverage Pinterest, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and other social sharing sites to bait backlinks and drive traffic. This marriage of social, content and SEO is the reason the industry is shifting from the term SEO to Inbound Marketing. The new label helps us experience a paradigm shift.

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

Tough question! I love food so much. Actually, I believe each mood, season or experience is best complimented by a different type of food and beverage. If you make me choose right now, I would say Dduk Bo Ssam (떡보쌈), Korean BBQ Brisket wrapped with veggies in rice paper wrapper. It is a fusion style of eating Korean BBQ influenced by Vietnamese cuisine.

Who are your top 3 SEO influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us?

Three? That is just too hard to choose. I’ve benefitted from too many influencers to count.

I’ll answer this question in a different way. A majority of SEOs swear by the advice of a few SEO gurus, but I believe that isn’t conducive to learning. In reality, we can learn from SEO Gurus and total newbies alike. The most important thing to remember is SEO is a constantly changing environment and everything should be challenged and tested before you accept it as truth. Also, remember that those who are new to the industry are often the ones who can challenge the status quo and introduce new ground-breaking ideas.

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

1)      Find a mentor. Your mentor should be an experienced business professional, but doesn’t have to be an SEO specialist. None of my mentors are SEO professionals, but their guidance has helped me become a better marketer and SEO. From them I learned to manage a team, establish processes, communicate with board members and much more.

2)      Be humble and network with like-minded professionals. Like I said earlier, you can learn from SEO Guru’s and newbies alike. The number of years someone has practiced SEO shouldn’t be an indicator of how much you respect them or what you can learn from them.

3)      Be analytical. SEO by definition is the study of a mathematical algorithm. Learn to test and analyze. Becoming an Excel Ninja is easy when there are thousands of YouTube tutorials. Learning statistics is easy when Coursera offers free online classes!

Jason Acidre - Filipino SEO sensation
jason acidre seo

Jason Acidre is the author of Philippine’s premiere online marketing blog, Kaiser The Sage. He’s also the CEO of rapid growing inbound marketing agency Xight Interactive. Follow Jason Acidre on Twitter @jasonacidre

Hi Jason, thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO create an impact to it?

Thanks, it still feels surreal actually – and I still can’t believe that I’m inspiring and influencing some people in our industry (whether here in the Philippines or abroad).

Perhaps, it’s because that this part of my career was something I really never intended to have. And just like what I mostly say when asked about how I’ve done it, I was just really lucky to have the right mindset at right place and at the right time.

Right now, I don’t think something really big has changed in my life. I’m still doing the things I enjoy doing (mainly challenging myself). I’m still the loner, quiet, care-free, easily-contented, and optimistic type of guy.

The only change that I can really think of is that SEO really made me a better person in the past 4 years. And of course, being able to meet and exchange ideas with a lot of smart people!

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

Affilorama! I learned so much from that experience. Working with them made me a beast in what I’m doing right now (not just in SEO, but in being an entrepreneur as well).

Kaiserthesage and Xight interactive are definitely part of the list, though both are still a work in progress. They’re both unforgettable to me, given that the continuous challenges I face working on these two projects really influenced how I think things through and have given me so many opportunities to grow and improve myself in such a short time span – and I don’t think that I’ll be able to achieve that anywhere else.

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

For SEO service providers, as an industry, it really has a big potential – especially in competing in the international market. We already have the skills needed, and many practitioners here are already proving that we can really compete (like Gary Viray, Glen Dimaandal, Sean Si, and the guys at Digital Room Inc. to name a few).

But for local companies to consider SEO as an integral part of their overall marketing campaigns, I think it’ll still take a couple of years or more before they start to realize how search can really impact their business as a whole.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign?

It really depends on the business’ goals – if they’re investing in SEO to build more awareness for their brand or to generate more revenue for their business.

If the campaign is able to directly affect how the business is achieving its objectives, then you can certainly say that the campaign is somehow successful.

So in measuring, it’s really important to see if what you’re actually doing translates into the goals that you’ve set when you started the campaign:

  • Is the site getting more conversions from search?
  • Is the site getting more returning and highly engaged visitors?
  • Is the site able to get more natural links and mentions (people genuinely talking about the website)?
  • Does the site look more trustworthy and authoritative compared to the time when you started out with the campaign?

You can generally see the improvements (or the areas you need to improve on) by just simply asking yourself these questions.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? what are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

I’ll probably just replicate the things I did for my own blog/brand (considering that digital marketing is a very competitive space as well) to grow their new website.

As for the factors, I’d focus on these things:

  • Make sure they’ll have content assets that won’t be seen anywhere else in their industry’s online space.
  • Build the right relationships, alliances and associations for them to generate better brand signals.
  • Implementing consistently on these two core factors – content and relationships.

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

It’s a triple tie, between bacon, crab and steak.

Who are your top 3 seo influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us?

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

Never stop learning. Read. Test on your own. Write about the new things you’re learning. Knowledge is the core of our business (in this industry) – invest on it.

Grant Merriel - Serial entrepreneur, Online marketing strategist at Online Edge
grant merriel

Grant Merriel has been a digital strategist for over 600+ start-up and established businesses. Currently, Grant serves as the online marketing strategist for Online Edge, head of operations at ConversionUp and shares his online marketing and business insights in his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter @GrantMerriel.

Hi Grant, Thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me man. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO/online marketing create an impact to your life?

Hahaha, first off, your not small mate and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it. I actually think that it was a mixture of both my family being around computers since the old Commodore Computer days, my brother and Dad were always hands on – so I knew a bit about computers. Then mixing that with my passion for Entrepreneurship and understanding the concept of most businesses failing due to issues with their marketing – I think SEO / Online Marketing was just a natural fit with what was surrounding me and my passion for business.

It wasn’t until around 2006 that I really started to see the impact that SEO can have on my friends and university mates businesses. And that is when I really took a real interest to the whole online industry from web design / development, social media, content, SEO, paid advertising, etc. 

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

I have been fortunate enough to have my eyeball on over 600+ start-ups from my days at university, to talking at business schools, one-on-one consulting, SEO account manager, consulting to SEO firms, etc. And I will be honest, the most unforgettable projects are the ones that make the biggest impact to a business owners life. When you receive an email talking about where they have come from, the impact it has had, the results they are getting and everything in between makes any project unforgettable.

My mantra is that: “I will NEVER make any suggestions to a business (whether in SEO, business improvement, etc) that I would not do myself if I was in their situation”. As an example; any SEO work that we do for clients MUST be at the level that I would expect the team to do on my businesses. Actually, we get the team to work on some of our businesses as well so that I have the same passion / interest a client would have. 

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

This is actually a question I do know a lot about. There are two parts to countries like the Philippines: “Asian Culture” and “Economic Situation”

Asian Culture:
At the moment, I know SEO firms offering their products within Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Their toughest challenges are:
- They usually need to personally meet with the companies (rather than just emails or phone calls) to get sales
- Almost every company needs to be educated about what SEO is, how it can benefit them, etc (very different to countries where businesses are demanding SEO)
- The lead times from initial contact to becoming a client can be quite long in some cases (this seems to be cultural)

Economic Situation:
As we see countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, etc grow with the global economy there will be a lot of changes that impact SEO:
- A lot of E-Commerce stores will open as credit cards / payment facilities become mainstream
- Infrastructure will allow services / products to be provided to multiple regions within the countries
- Marketing to potential International Clients will become a lot easier as the Western culture learns about the quality of work and creativity of these countries. 

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign?

A lot goes into measuring success of an SEO campaign, we tend to break it down into section:
Clients Goals:
- Are they making more money or getting more leads each month from when they started with you?

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE

Measuring the Campaign:
From an individual / team / campaign level, we always use competitors as our benchmarks (we don’t communicate these achievements to clients, as we live by our motto of “Tell me less of how it came to be and more of what it means to me!”)

- Content: Do we add more value, have better resources, greater structure and longer content than all other ranking sites?
- Links: Are we outreaching to enough sites with a good response rate to grow past our competitors? (KPI’s from emails sent, response rates, live links, DA quality, varying link placements, etc)
- Technical: This is just a checklist of elements that must be done.
As work is always being provided to our clients, we have never seen a campaign not improve month to month, so ranking growth, referral traffic increase, traffic improvements and lead / sale growth are the keys.

Naturally we could talk forever about it but just check out Gary Virays KPI’s presentation for the best insights. 

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? What are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

Definitely start with Guerilla tactics, ambush them from areas that the big players aren’t interested in / due to their size cannot play in. For example, it can take weeks to months for the big companies to approval a single piece of content to be uploaded to their site. Good luck to their SEO Company to compete with us for long tail keywords.

It would be a key play around long tail keywords on the clients blog, interviewing experts in the key areas to get social impact / influence and grow the campaign from the bottom up.

You don’t need the client to sign a $10,000 a month contract to go for ‘health insurance’, instead, start off with a lower amount, say $2,500 or $5,000 a month with the target of these long tail keywords, these traffic goals, these referrals and get the client invested into it. Then once you have proven your strategy, they will be a lot more invested in the campaigns and grow along with your strategies to get to the $10,000+ mark and never leave. 

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

Ha haha, do I get in trouble if I don’t say: Cebu Lechon? :P
It would have to be that or my Mum’s Lasagna

Who are your top 3 SEO influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us?

Top 3 SEO Influencers, that is a great question. I am a big on being influenced via key people through ‘friendship’, people like Brian Dean, Brian Clarke, Ross Hudgens and Will Reynolds provide great content all the time BUT it is very rare that you can ask them that PROBING QUESTION that impacts your business / SEO strategy right now (unless you filter through the thousands of words they provide).

So, my biggest SEO influencers are people who I have been able to email direct strategy questions to that and there is no censorship / worry that the insider secrets might be leaked:
1. Jason Acidre (Kaiser The Sage): Not only is he a close friend but he is just an absolutely GENIUS when it comes to content strategies, link strategies, reviewing top company tactics and the best band manager I ever did see.

His best post would have to be his plans for 2014: http://kaiserthesage.com/link-building-2014/

2. Jon Cooper (Point Blank SEO): Though we have only become kind of close recently, he has opened the book on tactics that he doesn’t write about, cover, etc and we have had some quite extensive emails about how to slightly improve outreach response rates and ultimately the extra benefit that link builders can get from adding an extra 5 minutes of work to what they are already doing.

His best post would have to be the well known: http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies

3. ZephSnapp (Altura Interactive): Every time I talk to him, all I can do is laugh really. He’s so down to Earth but is great at bringing SEO back down the base level, rather than going for the high in sky strategies that are not scalable for a business.
His best post is all about personas (which nobody does): http://alturainteractive.com/using-personas-to-improve-spanish-digital-pr/

Note: I always try to add 2 times the value that they add to me in any part of their life. Too many people ask, ask, ask from these guys, instead of adding value that they might not have access too but might need.

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

The best suggestion I can make is to process everything, I have built the Ultimate Process Guide for business owners.

A huge issue with SEO individuals, teams and agencies now is that they spend years learning about all of these strategies but never do them, or try them find out it is hard (because they don’t test Automation) and they just give up! With everything being processed, you can see the resources required, the cost of the resources, the success they are having BUT most importantly, you can alter these processes as Google changes / updates their algorithm or guidelines.

Jomer Gregorio - CEO of CJG Digital Marketing and Digital Marketing Philippines

Hi Jomer, Thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me man. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO/online marketing create an impact to it?

Thanks for the interest too, its my first time actually to have an interview like this. SEO/Online marketing is my main business/source of income since I risked my life going full-time as a freelancer last 2009. And I never looked back. Thanks God for giving me the courage to do so.

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

jomer gregorio

Digital Marketing Philippines is a fast growing start-up digital marketing company based in the Philippines founded by web marketing consultant Jomer Gregorio under a company CJG Digital Marketing. Follow Jomer at Twitter @JomerGregorio.

Probably back in the good old SEO days (you know what I mean). We developed a model in which we need to rank a newly registered domain for 60 days or less and our method worked like a charm until the Penguin last 2012. I think most people will agree to me that SEO these days has really change drastically.

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

I think SEO in PH right now is slowly gaining grounds. With lots of Pinoy SEO and Digital Marketers that are well-known in the community and conducting seminars/events, its just a matter of time before it will become more popular.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign?

Online reputation, Social media presence, Targeted traffic, rankings, and of course conversions.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? What are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

The main thing that I will need to focus is the creation and marketing of linkable assets. If you have a linkable assets that are unique and actually useful, then attracting organic links for your website (though in competitive niche) will be rather not very difficult. You need to ask yourself since this is competitive niche “how can I differentiate myself to the 100′s website out there”?

Simple, create unique and actually useful linkable assets that are worthy for the rankings you are craving for. Because, lets just say that you ranked for a particular competitive niche and people will find your site in Google but they are not satisfied with your content. Chancers are your bounce rate will be super high and your rankings are almost useless. So focus on satisfying the user intent first before anything else. I think that’s what Semantic search works and heading in the future.

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

Mongo! I am 100% proud bisaya.

Who are your top 3 SEO influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us?

David Amerland is the only person I really admired when it comes to Semantic SEO. I suggest you buy his book on Kindle, I really learned alot on that book and applied his principles on our own website and I actually witnessed what he is talking about on our site.

Joe Pulizzi is my 2nd influencer when it comes to Content Marketing. I also have his book “Epic Content Marketing”. Whether we like it ot not, content marketing is slowly gaining ground into everyone’s game. We actually added content marketing in our own semantic SEO service.

Perry Marshall – although not an SEO expert himself is my ultimate mentor when it comes to sales, marketing and conversions. I actually have his 2 books on hard copy for Facebook and Google Adwords. His recent book 80/20 Sales and Marketing is also my latest book from him in Kindle. He is the real deal guy when it comes to really growing your business and 80/20 mastery.

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

This is hard! Haha, as I have said earlier. SEO has changed drastically in the recent years and I think these tips can help us survive and hopefully thrive in the years to come.

Change your mindset – I think the first and most important thing to do these days is to change our SEO mindset. You know back in the day our focused is primarily technical SEO and backlink acquisition (link building is still as important as before). But right now SEO does not rely on these 2 alone, we need to think big and outside of the box. We need to understand the business of the clients and create a tailored SEO strategy for them, I call it “holistic SEO”.

Focus in satisfying user-intent – One of the most exciting things about SEO right now is that it does not revolve only to some technical factors. It also involves some human element such as the need to really understand the user-intent of your prospective customers or clients when they hit your website. You want to make sure that your linkable assets or contents satisfy their intent and actually give them the information that they crave for which ultimately will result to amazing user-experience.

Read more and slowly apply semantic web optimization – SEO influencers and authorities today are now writing articles, contents and even creating Google hang-out about the Semantic Web. I think its time for us to move forward and if you are not familiar with it yet, read more books and follow semantic evangelist such as David Amerland. Of course at the end of the day, if there’s no action then there’s no opposite reaction. So read and apply what you learned to become a semantic web optimizer.

Floyd Gonda - SEO extraordinaire and the man behind SuperKaizen.com

Hi Sir Floyd, Thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me sir. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO create an impact to it?

Hello Fervil, thank you very much for this opportunity to share what little that I know of about SEO with you. And I am flattered that you find my work inspiring as well. The impact of SEO in my life is very positive, as I can have more time with my loved ones and have the opportunity to earn more. I also get to meet great minded people like you and events like GDI. I totally have no regrets in learning SEO.

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

The unforgettable ones are the ones that doesn’t pay! But perhaps the other most unforgettable one is the penalized website I handled back then. We paid a lot for the link detox only to fail in the end I guess it is not for everybody.

SEE: How Are We To Know If Your Disavow List Has Already Been Honored By Google?

floyd gonda

Been working as SEO specialist for 10 years, Floyd Gonda shares his intensive and extensive experiences in link building and wisdom in SEO at his website superkaizen.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @SEOphilippiness.

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

I think I mentioned it before with other SEO’s in the recent GDI event that the Philippines have a chance to be the best SEO service provider in the world.  But we need to help each other and be united towards a common goal and that is to strengthen our knowledge of SEO so we can command better pay from clients abroad, and better the quality of future SEO’s in the country.

I am going to write more about this in my blog soon.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign?

I have a read a lot of differing opinions on this but for me it really depends on the KPI of the site. I usually just look at the price of each visitor going to the site and the price of what I am selling online.

For example I wrote in my article: Ways To Monetize Your SEO: Updated Regularly

Determine what particular business pays more for a particular service, a roofing company will pay more compared to a dog grooming one as a single sale from each differs a lot. If one dog grooming costs around $25 while one roof costs around $1,500 don’t you think it would be better to invest in getting the roofing company to buy their leads from you?  

Other than that rankings and traffic are other factors I look into plus the consistency of visitors and new visitors to the site.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? What are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

It really depends on the budget of the client, but then on-page optimization does a lot of wonders! I always tell my clients to invest heavily in their content for the first three months. That’s it! Invest in great content and then the other three months do the link-building. It is definitely guaranteed that you will make a great impact in the search engines.

But if for example the niche is very-very competitive, then the approach will be more of getting a lot of authority links from .gov and .edu sites. It just depends on the SEO on how they will approach it.

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

I would have to say the Lechon of Jagna, Bohol Philippines. It’s just pure heaven! Better have one Fervil asap!

Who are your top 3 seo influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us?

Hmm… this is a very hard question as SEO is very complex.

I would say as of the moment they are as follows:

1. Michael Port

2. Jeff Walker

3. Paddy Moogan/Alex Becker/Glen Allsopp (have to really add them here hehehe)

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

SEO opens up a whole world of opportunity to everyone, but always remember that there is a big difference between making money (income) versus accumulating money (wealth). Leverage your SEO skills by focusing on product creation and selling it online. You already got the skills now translate that into wealth creation.

SEE: Ways To Monetize Your SEO: Updated Regularly

Joseph Cruz - SEO pro, author of Ranking Elite
joseph gojo cruz

Sef Cruz is the sole author of Philippine internet marketing blog Ranking Elite. He’s been featured on top SEO sites like SEJ and Ahrefs. Follow him on Twitter @RankingElite.

Hi Sef, thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO create an impact to it?

SEO did make a lot of changes in my career and my personal life. Back in 2010, I could say I was not on the right path of success. I was employed but the career growth seem to be unreachable, in a normal day job like we have in the Philippines, it is almost impossible for “staff level” employee to live his/her life like a  boss for several reasons:

  • Taxes are killing you slowly and plainly
  • Compensation isn’t competitive and isn’t enough to live a happy life
  • Stress is everywhere – deadlines, workloads, policies etc.
  • Repetitive tasks that could make you go insane to take a bottle of beer or a cigarette

So when I learned about the search industry; it opened me the light towards something I was looking for. Things that I didn’t find in the “staff level” career such as:

  • Challenging role and responsibilities
  • Higher compensation and earning possibilities
  • You can meet like-minded enthusiasts which you can exchange knowledge with
  • And most surprisingly, SEO makes me read over and over again which is kinda strange because i’m not a fan.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign? 

I look at the impact of the SEO campaign to the business/website.  The main objective  of  an SEO campaign on a website in my opinion is to help compete, get noticed and discovered, increase traffic  and conversion in the long run. Those are the metrics I will mainly look at after I launched an SEO campaign.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? what are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

I would look at the main key elements that a website should have to help it compete in the long run such as:

  • Pagespeed
  • Meta Data
  • Site structure
  • Keyword placement, LSI
  • Content usage
  • Sitemap
  • Robots.txt  etc..

These are the most important factors that I need to consider before start marketing it to its target audience because if you missed establishing the back-boned of your new website, you could lose a lot of opportunities that you can acquire if you did everything right from the very start.

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

The food I ate in GDI event, Pampanga’s delicacies – not sure if those were but I would definitely want to try them again when I go visit Pampanga. 

Who are your top 3 seo influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share 

Jason Acidre – The guy who always kick-asses whenever he posts something on his blog.  There are couples that I can share but this one truly made its way to the top, the test he did for ManyContacts and how he increased his email subscribers for 532% in one month! That is phenomenal. – http://kaiserthesage.com/email-list-building/

Glen Demaandal - He wrote something about 9 writing tips to improve business blogging. This post has actually thought me a lot of things from  do’s to don’ts. http://www.glendemands.com/nine-writing-tips-to-improve-business-blogging/

Gary Viray - Once in a while, I visit Gary’s personal blog where he documents and shares their experience in removing site penalty. I believe this particular post from Gary really need to be seen by other SEOs to know how awesome he is. - http://www.garyviray.com/google-penalty.html

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond?

Explore, Test and Read.

In order  to survive in this fast-paced industry, we need to come up with better ideas, adopt with the changes and always explore new things  for improvement since the big boss isn’t gonna let us control our way to the top of search results and they will always make changes in organic search and how they  evaluate a webpage to rank, being able to respond  with these changes is the key to success.

Benj Arriola - VP of SEO at IMI
benj arriola - seo

Benj Arriola has been in the SEO space since 2004 and in web design and development since 1997. Aside from a wealth of experience in working with top brand Fortune 1000 SEO clients, prior to Internet Marketing, Inc. sir Benj has been a speaker in various major conferences here and abroad and also smaller local meet-up groups. Follow sir Benj on Twitter @BenjArriola

Sir Benj, as how many of the Filipino SEO’s address you, thanks for gracing this interview. You inspire many small people like me. Instead of asking you about how you started in online marketing and SEO, we’re excited to have a sneak peek on your life now. How did SEO/online marketing create an impact in your life?

SEO was a career direction changer. It has also given me the opportunity to be a thought leader where I speak at various international conferences. It is only in SEO where I won several international competitions winning cash and also a brand new car. It has opened doors to many options from working with an agency, or being the in-house SEO guy of a company or earn from affiliate marketing and ad publishing on my own and it was pick and choose the direction I wanted but the other doors are still open shall I want to try something else.

Since I tend to get bored once I learn how to do something, it does get old working. But in SEO, there is always something new about it all the time, so it keeps the boredom away and there is always something new to think about.

I would not say I am financially free just yet, but definitely SEO has been placing me at a good comfort level where my family is also comfortably happy.

What was the most unforgettable project you had in your SEO career?

I would give three answers for this: (1) My first client, (2) the most successful client, and (3) the worst client.

I worked with tons of sites, companies big and small, Fortune 1000 companies, worldwide brands, mostly in the agencies I worked at, but the unforgettable ones are still the ones I worked on as a freelance SEO guy. Simply because I did all the work on my own, it was very hard to fulfill, very challenging, but at the same time very rewarding.

The very first site I did SEO on was so successful that the site owner told me to “turn it off” because he was getting to much leads from his service business and was having trouble serving them all. He earned so much that he sold the business and use the money shift into a real estate business.

My most successful campaign was for a car dealership. It was so successful that they gave me a second car dealership, and was planning to add in a third.The funny part was I was paying them monthly installments for my car, but they were paying me higher monthly for SEO services. So it felt like the car was free and I was still making money from their SEO.

The last unforgettable client was the worst one, it was an ORM client that wanted to clean up their names but they whole character was not clean at all.Because of their undesirable traits, they would continue to offend numerous people. So even if I am cleaning up their name online, improving the SERPs with good results, every now and then a new complaint from out of the blue would appear and causes a new problem again. When that happens, they call me up again on the phone and a bunch of expletive words come out telling me my ORM does not work, but in reality they just have a problem of not fixing the nature of who they are so there will always be something bad out there all the time.

Even if he was one of the biggest projects I had, and was paying almost the same amount as my salary then. I only spent about a total of 30 hours total every month earning the same amount as what I make in a month at my job. But the high price of the project was not good enough for me to handle the stress, and also some kind of moral guilt. I had a feeling that I was hiding something bad and making it appear as something good online.

How do you foresee SEO in developing countries like the Philippines?

When doing SEO in a specific country, sometimes the objective of your SEO efforts is to target audiences within the country for a local business. In other cases, SEO in the Philippines can be an offshore project where you are targeting international audiences in other countries, often the United States, the country of online consumers. We already know the Philippines is constantly increasing in taking SEO deals from North America, Europe and Australia.Sites like Freelancer, Elance and oDesk has tons of workers in the Philippines.

I personally know some companies in the US and Australia just flew over to the Philippines to set-up offices there to manage people better. Just like any other offshore outsourcing, the advantage is lower labor cost in the Philippines but still relatively high for the cost of living in the Philippines. I’m sure the situation is probably similar in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia when looking at the advantages of offshore outsourcing and I foresee it  increasing further.

As for doing SEO for companies in your local country, I also foresee this increasing in the Philippines. This is always tied to the adoption of Internet technologies of the consumer audience. The more people use the Internet, the more there is an online target market to attract. And we already know there are tons of Facebook users in the Philippines, Twitter users. Google and Yahoo have their own offices in the Philippines is also an indicator of the presence of an online target market.

Since SEO is a combination of technical knowledge, marketing knowledge and content writing, outsourced offshore countries may have difficulty on the marketing and writing task just due to cultural differences and how this boils down into how to write English content. And this is not always about spelling and grammar, but more about the many minute differences on how things are said from one culture to another, including idiomatic expressions, slang, and used conventions within a country. Having said that, when outsourcing some companies may be limiting what they outsource. Only handing off task that will not be affected by cultural differences. These task tend to be procedural tactics rather than a real complete SEO strategy.But this does not apply of course to all Filipino writers, but it does take a while to find the right person and this serves as a challenge.

My first speaking engagement in an SEO conference in the Philippines was in 2007 at FMI’s SEMCon, my last one was March 2014 at JCI and SEO Hacker’s SEO Summit. In 2007  there were 2 guys from the US that were in the audience that had offices with some staff in the Philippines. This year, there were several more people from the US and Australia, all with offices in the Philippines and their own Filipino teams in attendance. I foresee more of this happening in the Philippines since it bridges the gap on cultural differences and challenges with management and time zone differences.

How do you measure success in an SEO campaign?

We measure many things and it depends on the client’s goals, but most of the time it is conversions from organic search as the main KPI. But depending on the client, we might be even more specific on the type of conversion. In some cases some businesses are just concerned with traffic than conversions, some are more concerned with how much walk-in traffic SEO generates going to their physical store location.

I know there are some companies that use keyword ranking as the main measure of success. We still do this too but ranking is not the primary measure of success for us and there are many reasons why.

  1. Ranking is inconsistent in different situations from differences in browsers, personal behavior, location, etc.
  2. Good ranking does not always give great conversions. And if no conversions come in, this can mean an adjustment in keywords may be needed that have better search volume and relevancy, or better title tags and meta tags are needed for better click through rates, or better landing pages are needed for better conversions on the page. And if the conversions do not come in, the SEO client may not be willing to spend more later on in the campaign.
  3. In more competitive markets, where ranking for a main 1 to 2 word term may be very difficult but ranking for 10,000 long tail keywords is relatively easy, the 10,000 keywords may help move the needle in terms of conversions and profits, but the main 1 to 2 word keyword phrase can still not be ranking at all near page 1. If you are staring at keyword rankings for a fix set of terms and do not see any ranking improvements, you might think the campaign is not successful but in reality you might be adding tons of dollars in terms of additional sales coming from total organic search traffic that has improved from doing SEO.

There are many other things SEO professionals measure like amount of links, Google PageRank, percent contribution of organic search in a multiple touchpoint conversion, and many others, but I do not usually look at them as measures of success. They are more like guides that you analyze for further optimization.

You’ve been in this industry for quite some time sir. We’d like to know your secret sauce in managing and handling SEO campaigns.

Build a team of leaders

Managing multiple SEO campaigns well relies heavily on your team to scale your business. Choose your members well. Having prior experience definitely helps but pay good attention to their past experience since some may be stuck with old bad SEO habits that are no longer applicable today.If they are not experienced but really show signs that they are teachable, trainable, then they may still be a good member to have on your team.

You want a team of leaders, you want them to also know the same as what you know or even more than what you know. And if they know less, then you make it a point they start learning more than you do. Some leaders feel intimidated by situations like this where they feel the main boss should know everything and the team members should not know more than the boss because they are afraid of losing their position which is a wrong way to look at it. You will be overworked training people, what you want to have is self-starters, that will not only learn, but help teach others.

 Make SEO training a habit

It is everyone’s responsibility to always be up-to-date in SEO. And this is where we leverage the knowledge of every team member. We conduct weekly trainings where each member is required to present something in one of the weekly meetings to keep everyone up-to-date. We also do cross trainings with the social media team, content marketing team as well as weekly company meetings so we also learn from the other departments.

Come up with the standard operation procedures

Put it in writing, how the different tasks are done and standardize it. It also makes training of new members easier.

Use a good collaborative project management system

There are many out there, choose one that is within your budget and also is sufficient for your specific needs.

Sir Benj, how do you do your SEO reporting to clients?

This is somewhat related to the measures of success. It all starts with the goal of the client and from that we check what can we measure and this leads into our key performance indicators (KPIs). We then record the performance of these KPIs and that builds up the report. Now depending for who the report is intended to, sometimes it can be more detailed or less detailed. Executives normally just get the high level view without the dirty details while the marketing personnel gets more details.

There are metrics where we look at often but reports normally come out monthly. The metrics thought are often compared from a year over year perspective than month over month. So for any report for a given month, we will be comparing this with the same month the previous year. The reason why we do this is to take in consideration annual seasonal trends. Depending on the contracted work, some reports will be in Excel, some in PowerPoint, some are given login access to our reporting platforms, etc. Sometimes it also depends on the level of knowledge of our contact person in need of the reports.

What do you think are the most important metrics that an SEO should get in Google Analytics?

Revenue from organic search traffic and that is if revenue tracking is configured properly or if it is even applicable to track. If that does not exist or is not applicable, the next best metric for me is organic search traffic.

If you would market/SEO a new website in a very competitive niche, how would you do it? What are the most important factors that you think you need to consider?

First is client discovery, we really have to understand the client well, and we will ask what are their key differentiators, what is their unique selling proposition (USP), what barriers to entry they have that serves as their competitive advantage. Basically it is what makes the company awesome, why they rock. And once we see it, we try to make that advantage popular, it is the main voice, the main message that has to get out and recognized by the world. 

To speed up the spreading of the news, this is where content marketing comes into play, coming with great awesome content that is very compelling, interesting, intriguing, that makes the people share it and when they do, it just increases brand awareness, it strengthens the brand which later on helps generate demand. Once you got this nailed down, everything else becomes easier.

Million dollar question: what’s the best food you have ever tasted?

I am not good at answering questions like this. I just know I like some foods and I don’t like others. But I find it hard to think of a favorite.I just know I eat almost everything except okra and saluyot (corchorus) and I don’t eat many sweet foods like chocolate, cakes, ice cream (except vanilla ice cream), sweet candies, etc. Not because I am health conscious, not because I am diabetic or what, but for some crazy reason I just do not like the taste. 

I guess you can never go wrong with bacon. So let’s just make bacon my favorite.

Who are your top 3 SEO influencers? Any particular content from these people you wish to share with us? 

I’m old school, so I’d say Greg Boser where I was a longtime fan of the podcast SEO Rockstars of WebmasterRadio.fm although these days, it’s no longer Greg doing the shows, but I used to religiously follow the show, I play the podcast while working, on my ipod while driving, and I interact in the live chatroom show.

Second would be Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schoemaker, although more known for affiliate marketing and just making money online, he just has this natural marketing talent and is a highly technical person as well.

Lastly would be Jim Boykin, his trust baiting was of getting very authoritative backlinks is just something he has invested a lot in and really has it down into an effective repeatable, scalable process with a good well trained team backed with sophisticated proprietary tools. 

Could you give us some good tips on how to leverage our SEO-fu skills and survive in this bewildering industry 2014 and beyond? 

I’ll just tell you 2 things. 1st is what my mom always told me:“Ang pinakamagandang puhunan sa iyong buhay ay ang iyong nalalaman, hindi makakanakaw nino man.” (The best investment in life is your knowledge, no one else can steal that away from you.) So in SEO, it will always be continuous learning and this is really important to survive. And 2nd what my dad always said: “Everyday is continuous learning, what did you learn today?” So aside from continuous learning, it should also happen very often, almost every day.

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Fervil Von

Fervil Von Tripoli is a passionate Filipino search engine optimization specialist and the author for FV SEO Philippines blog. He always spends quality time in studying, writing, and testing new cutting edge tactics in SEO while drinking his favorite coffee. You can check out more info about Fervil Von.
  • http://www.felixalbutra.com/ Felix Albutra

    Wow! Thanks for sharing man…

    • http://www.fervilvon.com/ Fervil Tripoli

      As always Felix, and all credits goes to these masters for sharing their brilliant ideas. :)

  • http://a-life-so-far-away.blogspot.com/ Fernando Ceballos Lachica

    Just now I know of these people who mastered SEO and online marketing. Thanks for sharing, I’ll come back to read all. Great info

    • http://www.fervilvon.com/ Fervil Tripoli

      Thanks Ferns. :)

  • http://www.mrslookinggood.com/ Karen of MrsLookinggood

    I will bookmark this post as I want to go back again and bookmark these experts’ blogs! Thank you for introducing me to them!

    • http://www.fervilvon.com/ Fervil Tripoli

      Thanks Karen. :)

  • http://leenx-hub.com/ Calvin Olayres

    this is great, thanks for sharing :)

    • http://www.fervilvon.com/ Fervil Tripoli

      Thanks Calvin.

  • http://www.loveisamutt.com/ misschievous

    Great tips from these men! I also like your blog entry layout — hiding the interview for a neat look.

    • http://www.fervilvon.com/ Fervil Tripoli

      Thank you misschievous.:)

  • Gronk

    Getting that first rank? Build PBN the right way.

    • http://www.fervilvon.com/ Fervil Tripoli

      great idea gronk but not applicable on all instances.

  • Gronk

    Yerr. Very expensive indeed. It’s the bread-and-butter for seo companies out there!

  • UPform5

    Idol Fervil!