Growth Hacking Interview Series #82: Gary Andrew Lacanilao
Gary Andrew Lacanilao is an Online Marketing, Lead Generation, and Marketing Development Consultant, a Former Co-Founder of Maxweb, Inc. and Clever Outsourcing, with nine strong years of experience.
Gary spent years in White/Private Label industry and worked with over 3000 online marketing, advertising, cloud computing, MLM, web design, hosting, and business agencies.
How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?
The Power of Rapport
In SEO, your goals shouldn’t always be about rankings and traffic. My ways in doing SEO is to fully understand the business and make the client very happy.
You always have to make sure that the client is confident enough, for him/her to stay in your services. That’s the way it is it. Build a relationship!
You also have to educate them and show basic stuff in SEO, so that they could understand how it works and have a feel that it is not too easy nowadays to rank that fast.
You can do this by showing him/her what are the current situation, what are his/her competitions are doing that is out of their efforts, how they do it, and what is the estimated amount they spent on marketing and advertising.
Most of the time (for some, all the time), the client will pull out after the second to fourth month of your services, because you failed to do the first two things above (specially the educating part).
While I'm still working with Maxweb, Inc., As much as possible, on the first two weeks of our operations, we send out possible clients/partners or warm leads to our client.
Just to build a strong foundation in building a relationship and to secure them for the next few months. If you were one of our clients, will that make you happy? Hell yeah! Noting, SEO will take month/s to take effect.
Planning for SEO
The first thing I do is to explore opportunities for the client. Make sure to expand their windows of opportunities by exploring their vertical and horizontal market.
With that, you'll be able to distinguish a better and smaller niche when eyeing for context you want to develop in content marketing.
Vertical markets are things that are within your industry. For example, if you are in an SEO industry, your vertical markets are:
- Web design
- Web hosting
- Web development
- Social media marketing and advertising
- Lead generation. Get it?
Now, some of us failed to notice the value of horizontal market. Horizontal market, are those niches that are not too related/inclined to what we are doing, but we can still benefit from them. Here are some examples:
- Business registration companies
- Business migration companies
- Business development companies
- Local radio-tv-newspaper-magazine!
- The list can be endless and these are your client's possible partners!
In SEO, your efforts in planning should have an integrative touch of both traditional and up to date marketing/advertising efforts.
Remember that people don't always seem to adopt in modern ways. And most buyers’ age bracket is in 30-50+.
Ask yourself if they can relate in your efforts. Are they techie? Are they traditional? Do they have Facebook account? Do they have email? Evaluate your efforts according to your target markets’ behavior.
Then, I do a bit of keyword research. Proceed to content and context strategy. This should be easy by knowing what I have discussed above.
And then, the most exciting part is to practice SEO every single day! Again, every single day! You can find insightful and actionable SEO strategies in the following blogs and case studies listed below:
Here are my local favorite and updated collections of SEO stuff I do/follow:
- 70 Useful Inbound Marketing Checklists, Cheat Sheets and Advanced Guides. This collection will take you months for you to absorb the most important thing in the world of SEO. I dare you to start right now!
- The Booster Blueprint On Scaling Content Marketing Production You Shouldn’t Ignore and Case Studies Conducted by Propelrr.com. I personally have 26 bookmarks on my PC from this website. How’s that?
- A huge collection of mind-blowing SEO Consultant interviews from SuperKaizen.com. Great thing about this collection is that, you can benefit a lot from insights of different industry experts around the world. I believe there are 80 SEO Consultants on the site and still counting!
- Lastly, I’m a big fan of Janette Toral’s Blog who’s advocacy is the open the eyes of each Filipino who wish to be an online entrepreneur/expert. Although it’s not an in-depth SEO site, you can find interesting insights from different business models that you can use in your future campaigns. Never underestimate a website with advocacy!
What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?
Provide leads (and sales). Yes, that's possible and that is where most SEO and online marketers should specialize in the future.
SEO are often quoted as dying industry. What most SEOs don't know is that they could use lead generation to boost their rapport as an SEO.
Here's basic lead generation technique I learned way back when I was just starting to like Google search.
Google basic lead gen
Objective: We need to get qualified leads for an online marketing company that offers Social Media marketing and advertising.
People: I, we, our, my
Intent: looking, seeking, need, want
Keyword: social media, facebook, marketing, advertising, services
Operators: “*” (asterisk) is a fill in the blank operator in Google search string.
“|” (pipe) is an OR operator
“~” (tilde) this operator gives synonymous term
Search Strings to use:
Since, Facebook is included on the string; it’s possible that Facebook.com might appear on the results, so we will add an eliminator on the string. So, our new string would be. Feel free to add more eliminator when needed.
“I|we|our|my * ~need|~looking|~want|~seeking * facebook ~services|advertising|marketing” -inurl:facebook.com
Then, of course, we wanted to see the fresh leads, we will adjust the search filter using search tool.
Then sort by date
This is just an example, try to search for the leads that you needed and play with the Google search operators. I’m pretty sure most of you will try this right away.
Oh! And don’t forget to use incognito or proxies when doing this. This might get your IP address banned.
I remember using the same lead generation technique when I helped Jayson Bagio on building his Guest Blog Query Generator.
You can also use Twitter when looking for leads. It is important that you know your client’s business and how are their right customers, their needs, their thoughts, what they say when then need something, and where to find them.
Objective: We need to look for leads for a Mac Repair shop.
In this scenario, we won’t be needing search strings like we did in Google lead gen. We will be using the thoughts of people who own a Mac.
Since, we are looking for people who have a broken Mac, therefore we will be searching for people who says that they have broken Mac.
Let’s try searching for the following terms in Twitter.com/search:
“I broke my Mac”
“My Mac is broken”
Good thing about Twitter search is that, all of the things you find in your search are in real-time.
When doing this kind of search, you always have to think that you are one of the right customers of your client. You always have to think out of the box and exercise it. To new SEOs, include this in your skill set.
Aside from delivering results, SEOs/SEO companies also have to build relationship with their clients. Building a relationship with these people is the same as securing few months of your sales pipeline.
So, when delivering results, you always have to deliver what you promised, whatever it takes, even if it's below your means, always meet their expectations.
What do you find most rewarding about being an SEO?
In my nine years of experience, the most rewarding part about being an SEO is when you realize that you are helping people. That you are helping people reach their dreams in life.
That you see them, that they can put food on their table. Truly, I tell you, God gave us the skills and ability not just to help yourself and your family so that you can live your life the way you want it to be, or live your life according to the needs of the world.
God gave us the wisdom and knowledge to help one another. Always keep that in mind.
I truly believe SEOs are born to be a good Samaritan and not just some techie guy who knows how to rank websites read and analyze regression reports, provide cost-effective marketing efforts, etc.
I really think it’s time for us to see it that way. Love your job, love your clients, and love your neighbor.
Since we are good Samaritans, I believe we shouldn’t be paying for taxes anymore. Ha-ha-ha!
How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?
You simply read and learn from it. But when I say read and learn that includes:
- Calibrate and Innovate
- Integrate other marketing efforts
- Ask for someone's opinion
Remember, learning something without actually practicing it, is dead. Subscribe to your favorite blogs and stay updated on their new developments, case studies, and new trends in online marketing (not just SEO).
As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?
AS an SEO my favorite SEO hack is to know the behavior of my target market. In reality, most SEOs would jump-off to site structures, use tools that analyze the errors of the site, check how many links are there, see if their links are healthy, etc.
What they didn’t know is that, understanding the needs of their target market is far more important than technical stuff in SEO.
There are standards in technical audit, there are standards in link building, there are standards in creating a content, but there are no standards on understanding different people with different needs in their lives.
I remember Jason Acidre once said, “Mastering the basics, is already advanced.” He is absolutely right. Using basic is the fundamentals in SEO. Mastering the basics is far more important than using the latest tools out there.
To give you an example, Google Trends is one of my favorite tools when identifying the interest of people over time, where they are, and the historical data of their behavior.
I know a lot of people use this, but not a lot of people see it that way. Agree? Hit the share button! Hehe!
In this example, I’ll be using trends in social media (Guys, you should spend time on this, prepare your template proposals).
There is the continuous and growing demand on social media advertising.
This is something we cannot ignore when you want to grow your business. Now, let’s proceed on identifying where these people located at.
You need more specific locations?
Now, you now have an idea where to put your nets when looking for prospect clients. BTW, don’t forget to check their time zones (check timeanddate.com/time/map)!
You may also have to estimate how long you are going to do your prospecting/fishing for clients. Never forget to hit the forecast!
Do you think this kind of information is less important than technical audit that most SEO's are doing? Pause for a moment and realize what you did in the past. Come on, just this one. J
Another SEO hack I use is to check for user behavior using Consumer Barometer. By using Consumer Barometer with Google, you can:
- Create your own custom analysis to understand how people use internet.
- See how internet access and device usage across the world have evolved.
- Learn more about internet’s role in the lives of key audience segments.
- Check out research highlights arranged in beautiful charts for quick viewing.
Remember, the clients approached you or dealed with you because they need to find their right customers. Don’t give them bunch of things they don’t understand. They only need customers, period.
How is your typical work day structured?
I wake up around 5am
Leave house at 6am
I start my office around 8:30 (I usually came to office first; our working hours starts at 9am.)
First thing to do is to make a gooooood coffee! Hit the like button if you also do that!
Second, are prioritizing the tasks according to their importance, risks (if there's any), timeline, and the size of the campaign.
Then, I'll start to list down the things to do and delegate each tasks to our employees for each campaigns that needs to be prioritized within the day and in the next two days.
After the delegation of tasks, monitoring the status of the VIP campaigns is a must.
I remember spending a whole day for an insurance company that is spending over Php200k monthly on their marketing campaign.
Closely monitoring this kind of campaign is a must! Because of you don’t, they'll leave you, even if you haven't finished the first month of your campaign. Again, don't forget to build relationship and build your rapport.
Then, emails… a lot of emails…
Small trainings while our employees are doing their tasks. (Nakikisawsaw ako lagi sa kanila, sorry guys..)
Interview (if there's any)
Then, leave the office around 6-8pm (the latest I remember is around 2am with Oliver Saguibo)
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every SEO should read?
Aside from the local list I gave earlier, here’s my additional resource to look up:
- Search Engine Journal
- Neil Patel’s Blog
- Seer Interactive
- Siege Media
What advice would you share with other SEO's who want to become more productive?
If you don’t work hard today, then stop dreaming. Don’t fool yourself because you’ll only be just an addition to statistics of those people who plan to fail in their lives.
Work really hard until you feel that you are no longer working for paydays. SEO is a career where money doesn’t matter. Remember, the main objective of this profession is to help other people’s life become better, period.
Higher form of SEO level is molded through years of experience, not through books/blogs that you’ve read. You need to work on it.
For those individuals who wants to start their own local SEO firms. Starting a company will be one of the most challenging stages of your life.
You will experience hurdles, pain, disappointments, financial challenges, and anxiety. There is no easy way to start an online marketing or SEO firm.
If you are the type of people who doesn’t love challenges, if you are the type of SEO who often slack off, if you are not determined to help other people, if your objectives are just personal, if you only want to be called the “CEO”, and if you don’t have the balls to face your competitors, this is not for you.
Work on your skills everyday, develop your work ethics, work as you are part of the company, show up in the office as early as you can, lessen your activities (malling, gimmick, games, etc.), enhance your time management skills, and ask for additional tasks whenever you have extra time (dagdag pogi points to guys).
Successful people work hard, that’s the way it is. Rich people work hard then work smart. What are you?
Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you've encountered?
I strongly believe that the most challenging part in Google algorithm is in the era of contextual marketing. Knowing that not all of the SEOs are ready for these changes and they don’t have the right skills for this update.
Search engine algorithms are ever changing, but this era is more intelligent than any animal updates that I encountered, I’m sure you’ll agree.
A search engine that can understand complex queries and does not based on “keyword based” library is something I considered as an artificial intelligence.
A search engine that responds with the gut feeling is a huge step from Google when delivering the best results on the searches.
“Google is now analyzing its data gathered in the past and decides how to make the best decision – considering history, science, psychology, and the way of life of humans.” –Lawrence Lagerlof
You can read the full article about this RankBrain in Bloomberg Business Blog.
Companies that practice contextual marketing should be guided by the following imperative: don't try to bring the customers to a website, bring the message directly to the customer at the point of need.
The marketing goal will be the same as ever: deliver the right product to the right customer at the right time. Companies will still have to form a deed understanding of their customers; needs and desires.
But in many cases, instead of owning customer data or individual customer relationships, successful contextual marketers will borrow them.
So in this update, again, SEOs need to practice on how to think like they are the right customers of their client. SEOs need to know the customer’s emotions, needs, buying signals, locations, behavior, and visitor’s journey to your client’s website.
SEOs also have to learn conversion rate optimization. You can find a list of CRO best practices and case studies in Moz’s Conversion Rate Optimization collection.