SEO Planning For Success with Sean Ackerman
Kris Reid speaks to Sean Ackerman from You Leading You about the latest in the future of SEO. From using blogging, backpacking across the world to the difference between content marketing and marketing, Kris enlightens us in a crash course on the different ways SEO is changing; listen to the podcast here.
Sean Ackerman is the host of You Leading You podcasts, as well as being an expert in self leadership and productivity and business professionalism. He organises awesome podcasts every week surrounding all-things business which you can listen to from his website and from his Facebook and Twitter pages!
Kris: Hi this is Kris Reid from Ardor Media Factory, and you’re listening to You Leading You with Sean Ackerman.
Sean: The key to success in this technology driven and attention deprived society is finding your own series of organizational systems. Come along and learn how pioneers and pros do it. Welcome to You Leading You with your host- Sean Ackerman.
Hey everybody, welcome back again to another episode of You Leading You. I am excited today to talk to a friend from down under. A gentleman who was originally from Brisbane, but now he’s currently relocated himself into the Philippines, and he’s done that through a series of entrepreneurial ventures, and we’ll talk a little bit about that.
He was a software engineer in the mid-2000s, and today, he’s working with Ardor Media Factory. I’m very excited to go ahead and talk to this gentleman because their business itself is helping businesses achieve the utmost success in their niches with helping to drive specific targeted traffic, and we’re going to go into a lot of specifics with this gentleman I’m very happy to have as my guest, and happy belated birthday Mr. Kris Reid. Kris welcome.
Kris: Hi Sean, thanks for having me.
Sean: Definitely glad to have you on, and again Kris, a lot of your background came into play looking at what you were doing with Ardor and SEO. Tell us a little bit about your back story because you started yourself as a software engineer before you went into the SEO niche.
Kris: Yeah, well, I studied Software Engineering in the university and had a pretty good career at Brisbane, and then I moved up to London and worked with some big banks like Euroclear, and then the global financial crisis seemed to get in the way, and everything went upside down and thousands of other software developers working in finance all lost their jobs. I luckily had quite a bit of cash saved up, so I thought I’m in my mid-twenties, let’s go and have some time off and start travelling the world.
Sean: So you started bag packing right?
Kris: I certainly did. I put everything, I ironed it to a bag pack and lumped it around the world for a couple of years, and I got back to Australia and I was staying at my dad’s place for a little while, and I wanted to learn some web technologies, and so I was making this online game just kind of having a little bit of fun and learning some new programming skills, and as the game started getting ready to be played, I started to think about how do you get people to a website and how do you get people to play your game. And so, I started learning a bit about search engine optimization, and then I started realizing that back then, the main part of SEO was back links, which basically means the more websites linking to your websites, the higher your rank is on Google as it sees you as an authority. And so, I worked out some good ways to generate back links and get people linking to, and then found that that’s a whole lot easier for games to sell than SEO, and then I used that for the next two years to finance my blog trading.
Sean: Again, so you’re doing that while you are actually on the road.
Kris: Yes, I mean that was great. I travelled across Europe, Russia, Asia, lived in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands for a while, and all the time just doing a few projects online and starting backlinks and helping SEO companies rank their customers…
Sean: I’ve just got to say it’s quite an adventure. You know, coming out of school, going to work in the banking industry in the software and bag packing and creating a business for yourself that you can carry pretty much anywhere you want to go.
Kris: Yeah, It was really by fluke that I landed into the game, and then I started developing as a business. I got serious at one stage, I already had quite a few online staff that were based in the Philippines, and by this time, I’d mocking around for about two years, so I asked where is the best place in the Philippines to set up an office, and unanimously, they said Davao, which is in the very south, and so I journeyed down there. And when I got there, I was quite surprised that none of them even lived in Davao. They all just recommended it, but I saw that it had everything I needed. It was nice, safe, and very affordable and had access to good English speaking staff, so I thought it was a perfect place to set up an office and that’s what I did.
Sean: So then, tell us a little bit about Ardor Media Factory, and what you are looking to accomplish. You were doing a lot with reputation management, really focusing on individual branding and really increasing rankings for individuals, you know, looking at content marketing. There are a lot of different areas that you are focused in. How did you decide on what you were going to focus in under your umbrella, and how did you start to attack your business.
Kris: That’s a tricky question. To start with, sometimes it feels like you’re working on one project and [inaudible 00:05:31] can come in a different direction. So we used to generate links for the customers to try and help their rankings. Then we started building this project called Ardor Content, which is basically an article writing service, so we have writers if you need content about vacuum cleaners or whatever you’re providing. You just pop in the terms that you want and add, and the researchers will write you an article, and we have an editorial team that will review it and then send it off to you. And just as we were finishing that project, we started getting into reputation management, and so we became the users of our own content.
So now we hire a hundred writers. We’ve done several million words last year, and we use these articles to try and bolster the reputations of our clients, and sometimes, there’s some real nasty people on the internet. I’ve got a really bad example myself. Recently, a guy contacted me, wanted to buy a domain. Three times, he chatted me on Skype, and the price he was offering, I was like I’m not interested, I don’t want to discuss this, you’re wasting my time, and I ended up blocking him on Skype. So he did a bit of research on who I am, one of our brands, and the started defacing it. Made some Facebook pages, made some blog posts about our brand and how terrible we are.
It really hurt because he wasn’t even a customer, and now, we have to go and defend our brand. Google doesn’t care who posted something, they just see the keywords. I had a potential customer come to me just two days ago, and he saw these posts, and we started a conversation about it, and I told him the story, and he went “I figured it might be something like that, because if you look at the content, it’s just terrible defamatory stuff.” It’s nice to work with businesses to try and help protect their reputation, especially if they’ve been wrongly accused with something like that.
Sean: What are some of the ways businesses look to you, or should look to protect the reputations. Again, you’re talking about a brand, if you’re looking at something like Coca-Cola, or you are looking at a business entity like Apple, you need to beware not only the individuals that are looking to[inaudible 00:08:07] the business. What are ways that individuals can not only maintain a reputation that’s obviously solid, but then also be able to kind of weather somethings and be humble as well?
Kris: Certainly, small businesses don’t have the resources of Apple or Coca-Cola, but there’s still plenty of stuff you can do. One is a free tool byGoogle called Google Alert, and you can add in any search term that you want to be notified for if there’s new content that arise, and so I really suggest that you use a Google Alert for your own name and your business name, so that if anyone is writing content about your business, it will send you an email, then you can go and see whether it’s positive or negative.
If you do get a negative review, like I said that person has nothing to do with our company, but Google doesn’t know that, and doesn’t care. They are just trying to rank websites based on the content that’s there. So with that, it can be very difficult. You need to try and get as many good reviews out there as possible. I mean I was talking to a customer this morning about how to get better ranking in their Google maps listing. I said “just try and go get more reviews. Go and contact your customers. You know, if you get real reviews form real customers, it shows how good you are.
Sean: Testimonials speak volumes.
Kris: Yeah, sure. And it opens up the door to one of your customers or his friends or his business colleagues, or whatever can be potential customers. So if they are nice enough to leave a review, then their friends might see it and become your customer too you know?
Sean: Now, individuals have to go ahead and guard the borders nowadays, because again, by day, I work in a professional energy field, by night, I work podcast and I have my You Leading You business, but during the day, I obviously see that there are individuals who will use the opportunities and resource from media to their own benefit, sometime when they are justified and sometimes when they are not, and it’s amazing the power that they can actually leverage through something like a Facebook post or a LinkedIn post, or a Twitter tweet just to see what it does to the overall reputation of an organization, and it’s important to be able to weather those as well, and as you said, it’s also important to recognize them when they come in and honestly be able to deal with them and be able to speak to them.
Kris: It is good if you can try and contact, if people are putting their bad mouth in your business, you can talk to them and see who they are , but sometimes, it’s just some nasty fool who has more time on their hands than sense you know, and in those cases, it can get very difficult as what to do. All you can do is try and get more press about your business that ranks higher than their stuff and pushes it down.
Sean: Absolutely. Let me shift the conversation a little bit if you don’t mind, and I want to talk a little bit about moving traffic and getting traffic towards your website. You know, the one thing, when looking at that, that’s a component of marketing and driving traffic towards your site and gain wider exposure, but there’s also something to be said for content and natural or organic growth as well. How do you tend to look at that, and how do you tend to balance those two to equate even potentially higher growth?
Kris: It’s difficult depending on what business you have. If you are a butcher or a beggar, it’s hard to get content to your website that is really going to get people going there. When people are searching for a new butcher in a city name, there’s different avenues to go to, rather than trying to add really nice content. If you are a wedding photographer or a videographer or something like that, showcasing what you do is simply the best way to get customers, plus it’s adding really good content to your website.
Sean: Then it’s a matter of being able to drive traffic towards. So your content has to be solid whether you are producing content like a blog or a podcast or a YouTube channel that can potentially have a high number of repeat searches or even utilizing something like a service based or a product based business that you will tend to want to drive traffic towards, you’re still going to have a solid presence when you’re out there, I mean again looking at your reputation even though you may not have the resources of Coca-Cola or have the resources of an Apple, you can still work in a small business niche, and achieve some pretty amazing things with local as to resources to look as professional as possible which will then help you to go to the next step which is to want to drive traffic back towards your organization.
Kris: Yeah, for sure, but then it mean also traffic is not traffic. All traffic is not equal is what I mean. You really need to try and work out where your customers are coming from and focusing on those avenues. If your Facebook page is bringing sales, then focus on that, or Twitter or even if you’re looking at an organic search, you need to really work out what search phrases are turning into customers. Like say someone searched a big generic term like Web Design New York, that might give you heaps and heaps of traffic, but it’s something really niche like WordPress Web Design New York or whatever you know, the more you can narrow that down, the better you can target that traffic.
Sean: What are some of the common things that people are doing now that are really giving them benefit when trying to draw attention or traffic back to the site. You obviously mentioned back linking and making connections. I completely understand that as a podcast or I’ll have high profile resource individuals who are on my show, then back link from their own shows or their own websites, and I’ve got some great organic traffic that comes in just from those connections, and obviously, you can do that in a much higher and larger scale. But what are some of the ways that small businesses can start to grow by crating that kind of network?
Kris: Yeah, again, it depends on what sort of business you have depending on how difficult it might be, like if you are a butcher, it’s unlikely people would want to link to a butcher website.
Sean: I was thinking about that. You know, if they’ve got a prime piece of [inaudible 00:15:23] sitting up there that looks absolutely scrumdeliumptious, I’m not necessarily sure that I wouldn’t want to go ahead and go back to that butcher’s website again.
Kris: True, if you deal with restaurants and other industries like that, you could go to your customers and say “how about a link back to my website,” saying that you use certified meat because it’s awesome, and that gives you a nice link back and it shows your authority. The main thing that you are trying to do is… say there are two butchers in town, how does Google know which one’s better? They both sell meats, they both have a nice website, the only reason if they can really tell if one’s above the other is that everyone is talking about one, and the way that they can see talking about one, if there’s ten restaurants in the town linked to one, and none linked to the other, Google is showing that one is the better butcher.
Sean: And again, as far as Google is concerned, we were talking before about testimonials and the same thing can be true for not only the connections and the link backs, I see a lot of people what they’ll be doing at this point on the website is potting link backs to YouTube which is obviously a Googlebased search engine as well, and which creates even more traffic and even more hits back to their site.
Kris: Yeah for sure, I mean if anyone’s making content, that’s one of the avenues we do to make content for people so we’ll make nice YouTube videos about the products and services they have with a nice description, post on YouTube with the link back to their website, and that’s a cheap way to get fresh original content and a nice link back to your website, and if you can see other people that are making content relative to what you are doing, you can go and interact with it and try and get a conversation going and lead people directly to your website that way.
Sean: What are some of the common mistakes you see that people make, and again, I know I’m asking kind of a broad question, but for the audience for You leading You is typically entrepreneurs and individuals who are creating their own business, who are business owners. So some of these people are trying to do this in WordPress for example themselves. You know why? I know myself, I play with SEO quite a bit. I don’t know how successful I am, I try to measure it, but I know I’m not fantastic with it, but people are trying to go ahead and gain more traffic and have more decisive hits back to their sites and more views, but people don’t really know what they are doing, to be honest. You watch a YouTube video to try to go ahead to get better tags on your site or to get better traffic back to your site. What are some of the common things you see that people are doing wrong.
Kris: That is difficult, and one bit of advice that I would have is that it’s not good to be jack of all trades. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, the original architect of Modern Economics said the wealth of nations is generated by division of labor, and so if you are trying to be a professional everything, you end up being a master at nothing. And so, sometimes, it is best to invest in something even if you’ve got… when I started my business, we had my money in there, and for a very long time, it was a huge struggle. But then, you need to try and speak with the people, try services, whatever you can to work with experts in the trade. If you are a shoemaker and you make awesome shoes [inaudible 00:19:15] do their job you know.
Sean: It’s amazing what a little bit of innovation and/or kind of thinking out of the paradigm or the box can do for a business owner or organization when you are trying to launch, and the internet and the online space and the different avenues whether it be Instagram or Pinterest or YouTube,Facebook, you know, such an amazing platform for us to broadcast that message no matter where we are. So it’s very interesting then that your business and what you’ve really looked to build around this with Ardor Media itself is a way to help to continue to drive traffic. Tell us a little bit about what you are doing specifically with the business now and kind of some of the direction that you are looking to take the business in the future.
Kris: Well, strangely for an internet-based company, we’ve found that the internet is not the best way for us to generate customers. We do a lot of direct marketing, so we try and contact people through emails, phone and even postal letters. We find that a better way to get in touch with the people that we need to speak to. We try and make personalized messages, we try and find out who we need to be speaking to. So if we want to potentially have a web design company in Brisbane, we’d try and find the right person to contact and contact them in a way that we’ll get their attention, that’s not some Indian spammer sending out a million emails. We try and make something personalized that will open their eyes to us.
And that’s actually that we are looking at providing in the future because we have found that it’s an excellent model for us. It’s enabled us to grow and grow, and we are getting really good at it. We have a lead generation team that go and find potential customers and try and work out who the best people are to chat to, and the best avenue to contact them, and we have our team that go and contact them and measure the results. That in itself is a very important thing to do, it’s measure your results. We’ve got a bunch of letters going out at the moment, and so we just pretest them. We send fifty to one bunch of customers, and fifty to another, and whichever letter works best, we change that one to new ones and measure again.
Sean: It’s constantly evolving and changing. So what are some of the things that you see on the horizon with Google and SEO, you again that crystal ball, sorry, but what are some of the things that may be changing in the market or businesses should start looking at right now to start to gear their marketing in a slightly different direction?
Kris: Well, obviously, social is becoming more and more relevant. That’s a 100% the truth. Google‘s looking at building the lead engine. They are trying to move away from just backlinks, which is going to prove very difficult if I imagine. It’s always kind of a red queen race, like the red queen from Alice in the Wonderland. It’s kind of like the bigger the walls you make, the bigger the cannons the enemy makes. It’s always an evolutionary race. So the more google tries to evolve, then the more SEO companies try to evolve to try and gain their system again.
As a small business that’s not in SEO themselves, I’d just focus on writing really good content. The nicest cleanest website with the information your customers want to see. Google is trying to do the right thing to make sure that the pine field is even. You know, two bakers that are in the same town, thy can compete with each other evenly, they don’t have to go and hire an SEO company. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, because as soon as one doe, the other one has to as well.
Sean: Right, and that’s just it. And then, of course, it’s the one up and ship or who’s got the better marketing. At that point, it should revolve around content, but it’s not just about that, it’s about who can have a better lead capture or whether it’s some sort of lead magnet, some sort of draw to bring them into their website or bring them into their website or bring them into their fold back to their content which should be the primary case for them to be driven there in the first place.
I’ve really kind of enjoyed talking, Kris, a little bit about you and a little bit about Ardor SEO and Ardor Media Factory and what you guys are driving towards that, but you know, You Leading You is about personal success as well, and you’ve achieved quite a bit of personal success with what you’ve been doing. How do you achieve your own success? How do you lead you?
Kris: That’s a tough question Sean. I mean…
Sean: I prepped you for that a while ago, so you had some time to go for it.
Kris: You certainly did, and I went for a long walk last night to think about it and it’s very challenging. I’ve been in business for about six years now, and each year has new challenges and new difficulties. As our chain grows, it’s more management responsibilities. I deal with less and less software, it’s growing and evolving, and I have to continue to learn new skills. One thing that I think is really important is that you take time out to learn and organize. A couple of years ago, I dealt with stress really badly. So badly in fact, I gained a bald spot on the top of my head through what’s called acute alopecia which is an auto-immune virus.
It’s like your immune system attacking itself through the stress. After that, it was a bit of a shock, so I thought about it and learned to deal with this. And so now, one thing I do in the mornings is meditation. I find that that’s really great to clear your mind and just get it completely blank and ready to focus. And then, make sure you use tools, especially if you start merging teams, you can’t keep everything in your head, your head will just explode, so you need to write things down.
There’s a great tool that I use for email called Boomerang. So you can send someone an email, and if they don’t respond, you can set it to boomerang back in two days, two weeks, whenever you want, which is awesome for leads. So if someone says ” oh, can you contact me in May?” You like “sure”- boomerang in May, and then it comes back in May. So you don’t have to remember it anymore. Using calendars to write things down and let you know when to do stuff. These are the sort of things to get everything out of your mind. I certainly think that’s a key to success.
Sean: Are you an Evernote fan?
Kris: We use Basecamp for team management. I use Google calendar for myself management. Those are the two main tools that we use.
Sean: You mentioned Boomerang, I love Streak for Gmail. I live and die, I hate to say as far as my template is concerned, I love a good streak.
Kris: I use the [inaudible 00:27:02] sponsors, which is a free plug-in with Gmail. You send a hundred emails a day, and when you are doing customer service, most of it is the same question and the same answer you know.
Sean: Absolutely. Thank you very much, and again, it’s funny, I’ve done well over a hundred interviews and what everybody has spoken, there’s a lot of commonalities as far as the You Leading You moments and the way they lead themselves to success, and planning and organizing and meditation tools and utilizing calendars and time management are things that are near and dear to my heart, and it’s also something that’s part of a lot of successful people that are out there, so I appreciate your sharing that and again, really validating for those that are out there listening, they can achieve success by doing some of the things that you heard Kris talk about today. Kris, thank you so much for your time today. What’s the best way that our audience can be in touch with you?
Kris: They can visit our website that’s ardormediafactory.com.
Sean: Fantastic, and what’s coming up in the near future?
Kris: More of the same. More content marketing and more reputation management.
Sean: Fantastic. Kris I really enjoyed the chance for you and I to connect and talk SEO and your journey, and thanks for being on the show today.
Kris: Awesome Sean, thank you very much.
Sean: Alright folks, another great episode of You Leading You. I enjoyed talking to Kris Reid. Really focused on making sure that as organizations, we try to drive content, we try to create quality, and we really keep our reputations in mind. Kris, thank you so much.
Kris: Yeah Sean.
Sean: Alright. Folks, we’ll see you in the next episode.
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