Growth Hacking Interview Series #18: Gary Viray
Seldom do you meet a person who has a beautiful mind like Gary Viray, whose passion for numbers can only be equaled by his passion to share his knowledge and experience in SEO.
A consistent game changer in the world of SEO and SEM strategies, Gary will illustrate in this interview his long term approach with SEO.
Hi Gary, great to meet you! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you became to be involved with the SEO industry?
I am Gary Viray, the Co-Founder of Search Opt Media, which is a Philippine-based SEO company and I usually blog about my experiences as an SEO consultant and an inbound marketing strategist at garyviray.com.
How do you personally keep up to date with the latest in SEO? It’s an ever-changing industry, so SEO consultants by nature need to be on the ball – how do you achieve this?
I read a lot about the latest trends in SEO and contribute to the community using case studies that we’ve done for our clients.
Unit testing is a very common word in the software development community using agile methodology, and we (Search Opt Media) basically adapted it for us to test piecewise strategies.
As such, we are able to validate our unit-tested strategies from which we learn a lot of insights that we eventually use, or not use, for our clients.
There have been a lot of algorithm changes from Google over the last year. I am sure that you’ve had many potential clients come to you with ranking issues due to past SEO practices they might have undertaken. Do you have any top-level advice for people who have seen their websites take a dramatic hit recently, or incurred a penalty?
They just have to stop what they are doing in terms of their SEO efforts and to start investing on the real marketing works—be it integrated marketing campaigns or simply digital marketing, if their businesses are purely online.
Today, businesses need to think like how the bigger brands are doing it—real digital marketing campaigns.
If they will not adapt best marketing practices to build their businesses and just rely on finding cheap shot and easy-win activities, they will not succeed and thrive at all.
What are pervasive these days that are causing a lot of problems from past SEO works are Panda, Penguin, and manual penalty.
Everybody knows that in the industry. A lot of businesses back then resorted to quick gains via old school SEO tactics.
We cannot blame them; gaming the system before is just way too easy and without clearer policy.
Moreover, any SEO (link building) technique, once it gets too mainstream, will make Google web spam team to put the said technique into their ever-growing spammy list of SEO tactics.
Things get tighter each day.
My advice to businesses is to focus on User Experience Design (UXD), Information Architecture, Content Strategy, Brand Building, Community Engagement, and Thought Leadership.
Of course, for some niches, thought leadership for example, may not be “viable” for them.
Link cleansing activities such as what I have enumerated from this article, Link Removal Request Done Right, must be a priority to-do list but it is just one side of the coin.
If you will read my latest post entitled, 2 Google Penalty Cases and a $1M Revenue, I’ve cited there that link pruning won’t do the job alone to revive a website and to start generating revenue again.
What sets your SEO practice apart from the competition? Are there any unique aspects to your consultancy that gives you a competitive advantage?
Our approach is always holistic in nature. We are tightly grounded based on our set marketing framework tied to clients’ business objectives.
You were there present when I talked about How To Set Straight your Online (SEO) Campaigns Using Killer KPIs that basically sums up how we use solid frameworks, processes and data-driven approaches to get the job done.
If you were talking to client in your local area who was unsure about the benefits that local SEO can bring to a business, what would be the key components of your pitch to them in order to convince them?
Case studies and data-driven information are my best friends ever since. I usually set the context first, case studies second, and thirdly, the owners’ business present status.
After such, I put owners on a thinking mode by shooting some basic questions related to “What if they do this and that?” I just pitch and plant some ideas on growing their business using digital marketing, in general.
Of course, putting emphasis on what fits them.
For any beginners to SEO, what advice would you give them? It could be anything from how to set the business up, to winning business, or just some plain motivational advice.
SEO is no joke these days. The barrier to entry in terms of skills sets is too high in order to succeed in this field.
While others say it is easy because they wanted to inspire people, in my case, I wanted to shoot a challenge to those who wanted to win in this industry.
Why? Because in every career or endeavor, it really takes a firm resolve to win.
There’s no easy win. There’s no easy, fulfilling career but I can tell you SEO is fulfilling and challenging.
During your career as an SEO consultant what has been your favourite or most interesting project that you’ve worked on?
I can enumerate a lot of cases actually, but let me pick up one that is more recent. Try to read my blog about our win against Google Panda.
It took us 3 years to beat the hell out of it. Although, you would notice from that post, the challenges were more on the organization and mindset that every SEO should deal with in order to push forward.
Educating clients is fun but challenging at the same time, especially when you are trying to break through at least a decade-long traditional business that has been really successful with traditional marketing campaigns.
Are there any other websites or online projects that you want to tell our readers about – or perhaps any social channels or things you are working on currently?
Right now, my team and I are excited because we are about to launch our full digital marketing agency called Propelrr.
It is actually an expansion of the online marketing services we offer at Search Opt Media.
How do you view content in SEO as a leverage in providing relevant search results and as a way of doing link-building in the advent of the recent changes in Google’s Algorithm and penalization of Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest?
What makes the Internet is content. What feeds Google, as a search engine, is content.
As SEO, our main leverage of using content is that we know how to serve well our two main audiences online: primarily, our visitors and secondarily, the search engine robots.
Now here’s the drift. If you are using guest posting with the sole intention of link building efforts, then you are missing the point of guest posting.
Guest posting is meant for readership, an avenue to generate brand awareness and traffic by leveraging authority sites that already have viewers in the first place.
In real marketing, there’s what we call brand association where it has been a technique to associate smaller brands to the bigger brands.
Now, put that online, we need to associate our clients’ websites to bigger authority sites in order to gain authority in the long run by being consistent with quality content marketing and relevant brand association.
What do you think of Google’s approach to SEO? Are they being helpful by launching the disavow tool or do you think that this only gives more credence to negative SEO?
While Google’s algorithm has already improved a lot over the years, it is still a program—a machine.
It is not yet ideal but it is getting there; thus, it might be better to prepare for it. SEO is a long-term approach and it is a way to prepare websites for the future.
What I am essentially trying to tell here is that, as SEO, we need not go for quick-scheme and short-term tactics that may put the brands that we handle, problematic in the future.
Just do white SEO. Do real marketing.
As I’ve said earlier, the algorithm isn’t perfect; thus, human raters, GWT, and the Disavow tools were created in order for webmasters to have instruments to watch over the websites they handle.
As such, I think negative SEO can happen should someone become complacent with how they shepherd over their websites.
What is the fastest way to generate backlinks?
Try using Broken Link Building and Content Marketing strategies. Easier said than done, right? But I think these two methods are by far are geared based on real marketing.
What is the best quick fix way in optimizing your website for SEO?
Site and content audit the website. Use Screaming Frog, and Anne Cushing’s Site Audit list.
Have ready UX designers, content writers, and developers to implement the changes. Focus on user experience.
How do you measure your SEO success for a particular campaign?
Conversions and Profit. I’ve mentioned that on my Slideshare upload re: How to Set Straight your Online (SEO) Campaign with Killer KPIs. See answer on #4 question.
What project have you handled that gave you a hard time in optimizing, yet you came out successful afterwards?
Read this post entitled, “So the Boss Gave In and We won against Google Panda 4.0.”
And lastly, can you suggest any book, video, person, website that keeps you inspired in doing SEO?
Actually, there are a lot of good books to recommend. But let me share you the recent book I’ve read entitled, Good to Great by Jim Collins.
He tells about his amazing findings on how leaders were able to transition from being good to becoming great leaders, while others weren’t.
Try to relate the concepts in the book as an SEO and you will be amazed how great you can be.