By now, most marketers consider search engine optimization (SEO) when planning and writing content, but if you want to dominate your niche within the industry, you might need to call in an expert.
Some companies hire SEO firms to help optimize their websites and online content, and some of those SEO firms hire Kris Reid's backlink-building company company, Ardor Media Factory. Kris began his career as a software engineer in the finance industry, but an industry shake-up put him in search of his next opportunity.
After creating a game app, Kris began learning about search engine optimization in an effort to promote his own app. From there, he developed tools to help websites rank higher, which led the Brisbane native to found Ardor Media Factory, with offices in Cambodia and the Philippines.
Kris, whose clients have dubbed him "the coolest guy in SEO," helps client companies dominate their corner of the industry through Google ranking. He also helps brands manage their online reputation through content optimization.
I invited Kris to Marketing Smarts to discuss how (and why) he built his business overseas, how to hire the right team, and how some simple SEO fixes can yield big results for your brand.
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Kris:
If you're starting out, consider opening your business in another country (04:50): "I knew that I should move to the Philippines, because the Philippines is a great place for business. There's people that speak English at a really great level, and I was trying to get to there from Russia.... My dad was actually staying in Cambodia, so I just passed through and said 'man, Phnom Penh's a cool place.'
"Then I did end up getting to the Philippines and lived there for many years and set up an office there. We've grown to an extent that we want a lot more higher-end staff, [expatriates], native English speakers, and Cambodia's got a whole bunch of them, so I ended up moving back to Cambodia and setting up a second office.... Originally we moved to the Philippines because the Philippines is a lot cheaper than Cambodia...but there are no expats there, so we were limited on what we could hire.... We've got some really super programmer's there."
Don't focus so narrowly on one aspect of search engine optimization (like backlinks) that you overlook the basics (10:43): "The majority of our customers are [SEO] companies because they buy backlinks and outsource services to us...and sometimes they'll buy backlinks and they'll complain 'we didn't get any ranking improvements.' And I'll look at their website and go, 'The keyword you're after's not even on that website. How would Google know that it's about that at all? If you'd just change the title tag, you'd have such a better chance than just spending money on backlinks.'"
Hire for fit, not skill (11:37): "One of our staff...came for an interview and clearly didn't know what position he was interviewing for. He was telling me about the Web development that he's done and he was like, 'Oh yeah, that site is SEO'd, it's done, it's finished, it's SEO to the maximum,' and I'm like, 'What the h*ll are you talking about?' But I actually gave him a job because I liked the way that he stood up and spoke very confidently, and he's very good at the Web development stuff. And he's learned a lot more about SEO now.... I'm pretty heavy around the office, so I like to hire some people that are a bit strong and can stand up to my weight sometimes."
Search engine optimization isn't as technical as you might think (13:47): "A lot of SEO is not the most technical stuff in the world. There are some elements that are, but other elements aren't, like writing good content. So someone that has a great grasp of English and writing can fit right in there. And then other things like fixing broken links are more technical, but you can train juniors pretty well to do that, and we try and get a good mix of seniors to lead the team and educate and juniors to do the work."
No matter what clients are spending, your job is to get them a positive return right away (18:13): "The main thing that we want to do is get someone a positive ROI as quickly as possible. It doesn't matter if you're spending a dollar or a thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars on marketing. If you're getting a positive return, well, happy days. As soon as we can get our customers a positive return, we know that they're going to be customers for life and even expand working with us, so that's our number-one goal."
Smart brands look for long-tail keywords to improve site ranking (18:43): "A long-tail keyword's obviously a longer keywords, so 'how to find a great SEO company in Brisbane' versus 'SEO in Brisbane.' The long-tails have less individual search volume but more overall search volume. So if you added up all of the long-tail keywords they're actually more valuable than the short-tail.... They can have a lot more buyer intent because it's describing exactly what the customer wants. Imagine if you went like 'Lexmark Z3310 black printer,' its a really long-tail keyword, but that person obviously really knows what they're after rather than 'buy a printer.'"
Kris and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.