Growth Hacking Interview Series #34: James Reynolds

James Reynolds is the founder of Veravo which consists of two search engine marketing agencies; SEO Sherpa and Click Jam.

He is also the host of the Traffic Jam Podcast.

James is fanatical about all things search, social and content on the web, from his blog, to Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

He is a contributor to several leading publications including Entrepreneur Magazine and mentors startup companies in his free time.

What is your main source of income? (ex: Client Servicing, Affiliate Marketing, Adsense)

I have two search engine marketing agencies; SEO Sherpa which does organic search engine optimisation, and Click Jam which is a Google Adwords and performance media management company.

Combined, they manage more than 60 customers. They provide the vast majority of income.

How do you close a potential SEO client deal?

All of our leads come from inbound marketing such as SEO, paid search, content marketing and referral, which means the potential clients we speak to arrive at us highly qualified.

In order to ‘close’ them, we guide them through a consultative sales process which involves asking them a series of questions. The aim of these questions is to learn if or how we might be a good fit.

We ask questions mainly about their current situation and their goals for the campaign so that we can work out how we can bridge the gap.

It’s then a matter of prescribing the solution that will get them the result they want.

What SEO Tools do you have experience with and which ones do you prefer and why?

Since SEO done by hand is more effective than automated SEO our toolkit is light.

We use Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) along with AHRefs and Majestic SEO for analysis, Screaming Frog for technical audits and good old Google Apps (Spreadsheets and Gmail) for outreach. That is pretty much it!

Have you ever been in charge or part of a campaign that was successful? If so, what was the result in the SERPs and how long did it last for and what was the term?

Almost all of our campaigns are successful.

Perhaps one of our biggest successes was growing a real estate website from 14,544 to 69,920 monthly visitors from organic search within 12 months.

A typical result for us is 10% to 15% monthly growth in organic search impressions and clicks.

Have you ever been part of a campaign that ended badly, with the site being banned or losing its ranking, if so what happened?

No, but we are contacted regularly to recover websites that get penalised.

Have you ever done any blackhat SEO and if so were you penalized?

No, we pride ourselves on 100% handcrafted, organic SEO techniques.

We would never, ever use any black hat tactics. In fact, we wouldn’t even know how to go about doing black hat SEO.

What are your best practices for on-site SEO?

Here are a few…

1. Include your main target keyword in the page title.
2. Use an SEO (human friendly) URL structure.
3. Use outbound links to related content to give Google context on your page’s topic.
4. Use synonyms in your content to help Google understand even better what your page is about.
5. Post long content. Long form content over 1500 words performs better in search results since it provides users with more depth.

Below are two SEO scenarios, please explain in detail how you would go about both:

Scenario 1: A client has a new site that is not indexed and not ranking, he wants to rank quickly, his terms are mid-level about 25,000 searches a month, how would you go about this.

New sites will need more content and links.

I would focus on creating the best content I could and squarely aim that content at the Linkerati in that website’s market.

I’d then use targeted email outreach to those link creators to get eyeballs on my content and hopefully backlinks.

Scenario 2: A client has an old authority site, with 1000s of backlinks all relevant but is not ranking and is not banned, what would you do to get this client ranking?

The biggest wins on established sites are often on-page and technical related. I’d do a thorough on-site audit and see what needs to be fixed.

We tend to find lots of duplicate titles, canonical, pagination and broken link issues on large sites which, when fixed, can have a dramatic impact on results.

What niches you’d consider to be untouchable (hard to really rank on) and why?

You can rank in almost any niche when you focus on the medium tail and you adopt the right approach, it’s just a case of picking the battles you can actually win.

If there’s one thing that you’d want me to buy from you using your website what is it and how would you go about it?

We offer free website analysis at veravo.com.

My team will put your website through a number of tests including technical, SEO and social media checks and will provide you with a very detailed report on how it performs.

You can get your website analysis report for free from here.

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