Growth Hacking Interview Series #2: Jose Duque

Jose Duque is one of the young SEO Consultants in the Philippines gifted with a talent for observing algorithmic changes at a glance, having worked with huge accounts and companies from the U.S. to Australia.

In this interview he will discuss his approach on SEO and his vision for its future.

Hi Jose, 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?

Hi. My name’s Jose Duque, friends call me Mau. I often use that handle for my online identity as well.

I’m a registered nurse here in the Philippines and I worked as an advanced clinical technician during my brief stay in the US.

I started my SEO career around April 2012 with Endless Rise Inc. I worked as an onsite SEO specialist, where I met colleagues very passionate about the SEO industry.

This is also where I met Floyd when he interviewed me for the position.

Floyd became my mentor in SEO when I decided to resign from Endless Rise and work with him and his team at SEO Consultant, an Australian based company headed by another name in the Australian SEO consultancy, Carl Bischoff.

Right now, I’m more focused on the on-page factors of organic search SEO and the local search industry for Google.

I’ve evolved my skills from on-page specialization, to local search and even lead generation thanks to the mentorship of my bosses in the company.

I’m a fan of Google, a sneakerhead and I love to binge watch on Netflix. We also own 6 cats here at home. You can find me on my preferred social networks:

Google+ and LinkedIn

My personal blog can be found at http://maudreizehn.blogspot.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 love to read SEO blog websites such as Moz, Mashable, SocialMediaToday, SERoundtable, etc. and forums such as catalyst search marketing where I actively participate in the forums.

I also follow a few known people in G+ where all the SEO and online marketing people share their precious knowledge. Like a great person’s quote.

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?

There are many tools available online. Some you have to pay for while some are free.

Personally, I prefer to use CognitiveSEO in combination with data from MajesticSEO, This will help determine links that are doing more harm than good to your website.

There is also a Google Disavow Tool that you can use “as a hackblade rather than a fine toothed comb”.

Some SEO people will actually prefer to just disavow everything then start from scratch when it comes to linkbuilding.

Because cleaning up money anchor text keywords is harder, since the new algorithm penalizes anchor text keyword links and Google prefers brand keyword links instead.

What sets your SEO practice apart from the competition?  Are there any unique aspects to your consultancy that gives you a competitive advantage?

I prefer to be personal and up front with the client.

Let them know if there are any issues or penalties being faced by the website. Give them options and make sure that all guidelines set by Google are followed.

We also try to avoid over optimisations that some SEO people will push as this will probably trigger one of google’s algorithm if your website is too over optimised.

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?

Provide them with data. Data is tangible proof that businesses resorting to local search optimisations get more traffic and leads than a business without one.

Personally, I do free local search optimisations to friend’s businesses and establishments. This is a great way to practice and learn about local search optimizations.

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.

Keep on learning. Search engines learn and they will keep on learning.

Algorithms evolve, what works now might not work tomorrow, or even worse, it might get your site penalized.

Stay with Google’s guidelines and AVOID black hat SEO practice.

Quoting a friend who is one of the top digital marketing experts here in the Philippines: “The only real expert in digital, is an expert student.” -Carlo Ople

During your career as an SEO consultant what has been your favourite or most interesting project that you’ve worked on?

Suzuki Japanese Karindery here in Tondo, Manila. It’s a karinderya owned by a Japanese chef and his Filipina wife.

I was able to make them rank locally and bring them more customers by targeting specific keywords that are unique to them. It also helped that there are a number of blog articles about them.

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?

Nothing so far. I manage a personal blog but haven’t really updated it that much.

It was supposed to be a review site for niche restaurants and gadgets but  writing reviews is not really one of my strong points.

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 Googles Algorithm and penalization of Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest?

Content is still king in the online marketing industry. Either you produce great, not just good, GREAT content. Or go home. Relevant content brings traffic and leads to your site.

Great content will give you social shares, likes and links that has been a major factor in today’s SEO and online marketing world.

Any marketing specialist worth his/her salt knows that a website’s content and its viral factor can bright tons of traffic to a client’s website.

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?

The disavow tool is great for cleaning out unnatural and unnecessary links to a website, but it’s a double edge sword.

I agree that if it can be used for good, it can be used for negative SEO campaigns against a competitor’s website.

What is the fastest way to generate backlinks?

Having a relevant network and finding your niche. As mentioned earlier, great content can earn you valuable social links, likes or shares.

This will bring traffic to your website. Avoid unnatural and too much link building, directory sites are fine.

Just make sure that they are relevant and page rank is high. Avoid low quality websites when building links.

What is the best quick fix way in optimizing your website for SEO?

Follow Google’s guidelines. Have great content, avoid looking like a spam site with too much advertisement.

Sometimes simplicity is the key. Know your brand and know your niche.

How do you measure your SEO success for a particular campaign?

Google analytics’ KPI. I take note of baseline data before I begin with any optimisation.

I set a target number on those KPI and make sure that the goals tracking is set so I know when I generate leads to the client’s website.

What project that you’ve handled that gave you a hard time in optimizing yet you came out successful afterwards?

A POS company from Australia. It was a nightmare at first since the CMS was not SEO friendly.

Too many unnatural links(I suspect negative SEO) going to the website.

But since we migrated their website to a WordPress website and started using disavow links on the negative SEO done by the competitors, I was able to make them rank into their target keywords.

And keep them on the top 3 results for good.

And lastly can you suggest any book, video, person, website that keeps you inspired in doing SEO?

Just keep on reading SEO blogs, MOZ’s weekly whiteboard friday videos are a great source of information.

Make sure you follow Google’s Matt Cutts for tips on any algorithm changes in Google.

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