Avoiding SEO Scams Part 1

Everybody welcome back to the From Ordinary to Extraordinary podcast. This is your host Victoria Caldwell. And I have another exciting guest today. Actually he’s a little bit different than some of the other guests, and his name is Yusuf Chowdhury. He’s a professional Digital Marketing Consultant, business coach, and instructor, with the combined 15 years of experience in the field of Marketing Research.

He’s given lectures at colleges and universities, both nationally and internationally over topics such as social media, SEO, creation of WordPress-based websites, video marketing, blogging and mobile marketing. And if you’ve ever been privileged enough to hear Yusuf speak, or teach, or train, then you’ll know why I’m excited to have him on today. When I had him at an event of mine, which he’s come to almost all of them, all of the guests were just scribbling and taking notes because he just lays it all out on the line and just gives you so much value. And he’s definitely an expert in his field, so I’m really excited to have him on today.

Victoria: Yusuf, how you doing?

Yusuf: Thank you so much Victoria. I’m so, so excited and I really appreciate this opportunity, very, very excited.

Victoria: Well, good! I’m glad. So I know you have an appointment, so I just want to go ahead and jump right in. And I know I’ve known you forever and we’ve been calling you the ‘SEO Guy’ for how many years. And you’ve obviously branched out way past SEO now, so you’re just the ‘Online Marketing Guy’ right now, so no matter what comes up…

Yusuf: Absolutely. Well it’s funny because one of the new tag line that if you notice, either I call myself or somebody calls me the ‘Optimization Guy’. And there was a story behind it because one of my awesome happy clients, whenever he referred me to their friends and business associate, he always tells them, ‘You need to talk to this OG’. And I’m like, ‘What do you mean by the OG? I’m not original gangster’. He said, ‘No man, that is the ‘Optimization guy’.

And this client, he had a deep voice. So he was like, ‘You need to go to the optimization guy’. So from there, I took that name and it started another YouTube channel where I basically share all the tips and advice on all the marketing in general. Bbut it was amazing. I mean, if I really, really go back, let’s say back in 2005 and 2006, if I started helping one of my friends Bro. Ali Ardekani with the Ummah Films and different projects, and this is how it actually started. I fell in love with some of his projects and I started to work on these amazing tasks. And from there, that hobby eventually became a business venture.

Victoria: I didn’t know that was when you got started with that.

Yusuf: Yes, this is how it happened. I mean, it was hilarious because Ali was producing all these amazing videos and one day he asked me, ‘Hey, can you help me out?’ I said, ‘Sure!’ And I got into this blogging, the world of blogging and in Myspace, the social media, everything was just like trial and error. And when the website grew, and we generally had lots of fans, and attended so many conferences, then the small businesses started to approach us and tell us, ‘How do you use blogging for business? How to use videos?’ And from there of course, you know Bro. Ali. He’s always helpful and also I love to help anyone that ask any question. I love to help them. I guess that’s just part of how I was raised. And Alhamdulillah from there, there you go. The rest was history.

Victoria: I knew you were doing it but, yeah you are definitely always helpful, I know. Every time I have a question or something you know, I pipe right in. When did I start in this business? Probably 2002, teaching myself SEO. Yeah, that was when it wasn’t even in the industry yet. It was just from Andy Jenkins.

Yusuf: Oh my God!

Victoria: Yeah, and Andy is old too [laughter].  Yea Andy Jenkins taught me how to set up my first site in 2002. That’s when I set up my first site, and I bought his book, e-book. Yahoo Store Profits. And then I was all excited, I’m like, ‘Now my store’s up.’ And then my next problem was, ‘How am I going to get people to this store to buy?’ [laughter]

Yusuf: You now this is amazing. Because when I started learning SEO later on, because I would technically say I started in social media rather than SEO, like you know, the videos and the blogs and content. Later on, around like maybe at the end of 2007, I knew of the SEO I wanted to start to get into it deeper. Unfortunately, all the SEO knowledge that I gained mostly were Black Hat, you know, Black Hat SEO.

So I was thinking like, ‘Oh this is cool! I can rank the website. I can look at the previous project that you know, let’s say that worked on Ummah Films and whatnot, and how it brought me traffic. I remember when, for instance, Bro. Ali used to post those videos. I’d take those videos and upload them to like 50 video sites manually.

And from there, some of the different blogs and whatnot, so I thought ok this could be the right thing to do, and it worked back then. It really worked. So, when I started to learn a lot of these so called SEO from the so called internet gurus and whatnot, I really found out that most of them actually not a good practice and it will cause a lot of problem. So I start to join the WebMaster Tools community found within Google. Then I started to learn more in there from what is that actual or the correct way of running the SEO from Moz.com and previously it’s used to be called SEO Moz, search engine LAN and all these other so called white hat. Then I actually fell in love more because now I know both, I know that so called Black hat or the Gray Hat and also the White Hat. And the reason I like it because, imagine if you start a business and you want to gain customers and you want the customers to find you, so the search engine is the way to go, organically of course. And if you want to get some sort of fast results, then you have to honestly try the online advertising which is the Google Adwords, and Bing, and Amazon, and Facebook, and whatnot.

Victoria: Exactly. I never got into the Black Hat, just because I knew, actually it’s how old apparently I am. But when I got started, it was really just a new field altogether. Google was new. They weren’t the big player in the search engine market to begin with. It was more the Yahoo and Overture. And Google was just really up and coming in that market. So we were doing pay-per-click ads with Yahoo rather than Google ’cause their platform was really primitive. And when they did come up, clicks were like 5 cents [laughter], like good luck with that now.

Yusuf: Oh, forget it.

Victoria: You get clicks for 5 cents and that’s how I started learning to do some PPC and SEO. And really, there was no provider industry at that time and everything was just online entrepreneurs trying to do them. Of course, it took off later when people started. But really, when I was in that space at that particular time, no one was really trying to start an agency. They would just try to market their site. And now, it’s a totally different world.

Yusuf: You’re absolutely correct because that’s why if you go back 10-15 years ago, a lot of these great web designers or specifically web developers that can build an awesome website, but the majority of them don’t know the in-depth of SEO. They might know the basic, just like the title, and the meta, and the schema, and that’s about it. But they don’t know how to strategize or anything like that. So that’s why you got these so called agencies that only specialize in SEO. And some of them that are built on the web development, and they add that service as well because if you look at it, with so many trillions of web pages out there, having a nice looking website is not enough. So you have to make sure that the website does its purpose.

For instance, it gives the user a better user experience, gives them what they need, and it’s fast, and it’s searchable, so it’s becoming really…Especially with all these crazy updates from Google.

Victoria: Yeah Oh my God.

So that’s another thing. It’s good and its bad because, it’s good because that keeps our business up and running ’cause we can tell the client, ‘Hey look, I didn’t make the change.’ This is all kind of change, so we need to change the strategies based on the algorithm. So it helps, but sometimes it might sound negative to some customers. Especially those unfortunately that did not know how to use it the right way.

Victoria: Yeah. I don’t know if you cross this, and I know you do because I don’t think you can be in this space and not do it. With clients, they come or they come from other companies or other like you said, so called experts. I caught that. And they come from these companies and they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re not keeping up with the updates from Google. They’re telling them what to do, and this stuff is banned. I mean, these are practices… I had one guy emailed me something and say, ‘Hey, can you do this on my website and everything? I have a consultant to tell me to add these stuff.’ And so I looked at the email and it was basically keyword stuffing.

Yusuf: Oh my God!

Victoria: And I said, oh my God! So I replied to him and told him that you know, Google banned this 4 years ago. I sent him the video, and I sent him the link to the video and explaining that this video is from 4 years ago. And Google specifically banned this practice 4 years ago. So whoever your consultant is, you might want to change this consultant. And he replied, ‘I’m so glad I have you.’ Because the guy wasn’t trying to take him down or anything. He was trying to help out but he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Yusuf: Wow. I was wondering the same thing. I was wondering why some of these so called agency still use outdated tactic.

Victoria: I think they just don’t know. You know what? I figured,  this is my own thinking, they figured that SEO is so hot, is in high demand. They can get a little person here to do this, that and the other. And as long as they can sell SEO, they’re okay. They don’t worry about actually keeping up with the rules and the guidelines, and all of Google’s changes. They don’t worry about that. I don’t know if they even know, but if they do know, they’d decide to ignore.

Yusuf: You know what? You actually just reminded me because with growing my business. What I do right now, I associate or collaborate with other agencies. And I found out, some of those big agencies that run an SEO is not an in-house. So they outsource with somebody else. And they themselves don’t know whether those tactics are okay or not. That was one problem.

The second problem, I’ve seen, unfortunately this is kind of sad because there are some folks that know that they actually use Black Hat but they don’t care. Because the customer doesn’t understand how it works. All they care about is charging money.

And the third situation I noticed, some businesses will charge you monthly SEO services from like I think a couple of thousand dollars, which is the typical price. But even then, they only implement onsite. So why would you charge monthly for onsite SEO? Because onsite SEO’s only done once. The offsite SEO, well you have to do it on a monthly basis. You know, like something on weekly blogging, content marketing, videos, quality link building, or that kind of stuff. So I’ve seen different crazy scenarios and it’s really hard to find a really, I mean there are actually some few good companies that I know that are really, really good when it comes to search engine, but they are very few that do it the right way.

Victoria: Exactly. They’re very few and far between. Like I know you, you know, if there’s something that I don’t handle, I’ll shoot it over to you. And it’s one of those things that I just have not….. every client that just about that came from a referral had come from a company that had scammed them.

And one of those companies contacted me one day. Of course I didn’t know. They contacted me to outsource their web design portion. And so I took on, but he didn’t know that I knew SEO. And so what happened was, I never told the client, but it was very transparent that I was a totally different company and they had my website and everything. So what they would do is they would go check out my website. And they will come back to me. So while I’m building their website, they would ask me certain questions because they couldn’t get answer from their original company. And so I would explain to them what this particular term meant. ‘Cause they just had a feeling that they were just getting a run around.

You know when somebody’s trying to take you for a ride, just in your heart but you can’t really tell. So I would explain it to them. And eventually some of them thought, ‘Well why the heck am I paying him for this?’ And they would leave because they just couldn’t get through.  Once they signed their contract, …everything. And I saw some of this. They would send me some of the stuff they’ve done, and it doesn’t matter. You could be a small business. Well, they wouldn’t talk to anybody who couldn’t pay at least $1,500. But you could be a small business or a 20-million dollar company, it didn’t matter. And actually, one of them that came to me was a 20-million dollar company.  And they had been bamboozled out of 6 months worth of SEO payments. And finally, the CEO started thinking, ‘Hey what are we doing over here?’ And I was just dumbfounded because I didn’t realize they had been paying this guy, they had been dealing with this guy for 2 years.

Yusuf: Oh my God.

Victoria: I came in just to re-do their website, and it was atrocious. It looked like something a 6-year old had done than what they had presented to him. And I said, ‘This website is horrible.’ He said, ‘Yes! But you don’t have to tell them that.’ I said, ‘He could see it!’ This guy, you don’t build a company like this and you can’t look at this. I said, ‘You guys actually presented this to the client?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, but don’t tell them that.’ And that’s when I really started knowing what I was working with. And I finished up my projects that I was working with because I had committed to those clients, and I got out. But it was just terrible. He even tried to sell the company. And the guy who was looking into buying it found out there was a lien against it. I mean, these people are just gorillas. They just don’t care.

Yusuf: Yeah, and you know? It’s kind of really bad because right now, well on one side you have the consumer or the customer getting jacked out of this. Secondly, you have to explain to them right now, because that’s a bad experience. Now you have to spend some time to educate them and convince them. So those kinds of companies make our job, for the one that I’m doing right makes it a little bit difficult.

Victoria: Yeah, it makes it so hard. And I had a philosophy. It’s that the reason why there’s so many of them, one it was an easy business to start. And when you’re buying or when you’re hiring an SEO agency, you don’t know what you’re buying. You really don’t understand the product. And that’s what I tell the clients, you don’t understand the business in order to buy it properly. So that’s what I’ve been doing my training.

So you don’t understand it, so now you don’t know what you don’t know. So on top of that, my thing was when I started in this industry. I never intended to go into it as an agency. I never looked at it that way. I only started it because I had to, because people kept asking me to help them out. And then when you know, people start asking. You start to have to make things a little more official because then it just becomes all unorganized and it just gets messy. So I started it for that reason only. And my philosophy is that by the time the people who are really good at SEO learned it, why would the go and start an agency and just set up a whole bunch of websites online and just do it themselves? So all of the good people don’t want to be bound by having to start an agency and go out and search for clients. When they can just make their money online and make a whole lot more of it and not be bound to those rules. That was just my philosophy on it.

Yusuf: Interesting. Because of this situation, you probably know that I started a local meet up 2 years ago. And the purpose of the meet up was, since I noticed that specifically the small businesses have all the majority that I explain with don’t have a clue. What is digital marketing in general? Or what is online marketing? So I started this meet up locally because the majority of the small businesses that I experience with. Most of them don’t know or don’t understand what does digital marketing means, or online marketing. I had noticed that in Austin, Texas, they have tons of amazing meet ups, lot of networking, tons of start ups and big companies. But in San Antonio, which is more like a blue-collar city and it’s actually growing right now. We have so many tech industries that are coming in and few start up are getting off the ground.

So I decided to first, look for any meet up that talks about online marketing and there was one person who is a teacher of SEO, but he left and there was nobody else. So I started this San Antonio Online Marketing group for the hope to get all the online marketing in San Antonio to get together and learn from each other and help everyone else.

So eventually, this meet up ended up being a place where now I provide 6 to 8 classes every month. And this one seminar per month, where I do my best, in most cases to explain everything to the small businesses you know, what is digital marketing? What is SEO, or social media, or Facebook, or YouTube. And sometimes, I bring guest speakers who are in the same industry that can give back to the community you know, pay it forward, and educate them and help them. Because this way, now they can make a proper decision who are they going to hire, or what kind of right questions they are going to ask and then they aren’t going to hire anybody.

So it’s been really amazing experience and I love just giving it back. And I can see how some of these small businesses that you know, some of them turn into my customers, and some of them go and hire somebody else that do an excellent job on the business. So this made me like, ‘You know what? I guess this is the way that I can change. If I can look at all that negativity of what all these other agencies are screwing some customers.’ You know I can complain about it but that’s not going to do anything. So it’s best to go out and focus on providing that value, and I believe that can definitely change.

Victoria: Yeah, exactly. It’s something you have to do. And I know your meetup is a very large meet up, and you have a really large following. But you always give so much quality information, and even at our last event. And everyone was listening to you, and I’m looking around the room and people were just scribbling because they were trying to get all of the stuff you were talking about because you talk pretty fast because we had a short time frame. And you packed so much into it, and they were scribbling and looking, and scribbling and looking, and I said, ‘I think this is going pretty well.’

Yusuf: Right. You see what happened. I used to attend these so-called seminars and whatnot. And one of the frustrations I always used to get, that most of them don’t teach, even I would say 50% of the basic. They teach very, very simple stuff. Then at the end of course, they always want to sell something, okay? So I was just frustrated because you know, you drive, you want to go learn something at least one nugget. But it turns out something like, it’s not even worth it. So I decided again, the concept of ‘Don’t complain, just do something about it.’ So then I started to, ‘You know what? If I’m going to share something, I will share everything.’ And I don’t care what people think. I will share everything, because I know for a fact, most businesses don’t have the time to do everything.

Victoria: If you are doing it correctly, yeah.

Yusuf: You’re correct, because you are taking your experience over all these years and putting them on the table. So when somebody come and say, ‘Yes, I can do it.’ You know, be my guest. But the reason I do this, to explain to them, ‘Look, this process, you can see it, the solution is here. It might be simple but it takes a lot of work.’ And you are a business owner. You should focus on your business. But if you want to take it by yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, one of my friends and client from California, on the landscapingandconstruction.com, Mr. Joe Johnson. I mean, he is amazing, he learned all the online marketing, all the SEO, the social, and he’s very good. So, people like him are, like not too many.

Victoria: Yeah, yeah. And it does take a lot of time. Like I told them, I said, ‘You know, you have to either spend time or money.’ But the problem is, when you spend the money, you have to make sure you spend it at the right place. And I’ve seen some who tried to bring it in house. And I don’t know about your experience, but those I’ve seen go kind of sour a little bit too, because they hire inexperienced people.

Yusuf: Yeah, I can definitely remember that. Because what I realized, when I was doing SEO myself, there’s no way whether it was an SEO or any kind of business. And this is one of the things that other company, any start up, or any freelancer that wants to start their agency that it is impossible for you to take more than one customer in one month. It’s not going to work. So I tried to follow the rules of the 20-80%, right? Do 20% of the work, produce 80% of the result, so how to sacrifice your things?

So the first thing, I had to sacrifice my prices. That means if I make 3,000 on web project by myself, I had to take half of that and send the other half or even 2,000 of those to somebody else because I don’t want to spend too much time with it, a couple of friends that are into the same web development niche. And for some reason they can’t get out of that circle of mindset. It’s like some sort of ego, right? They told me, ‘No man. This is my design. That’s how I want to do it. Nobody else can do it.’ I’m like, ‘Well then you know what? You’ll end up being an employee to your business.’

So I decided from day one, I had to think of different ways to run the business and not be an employee of the business. So, I remember back long, long time ago, when I was learning Dreamweaver and Firework and all those, from other verification like Microsoft, and IT, and whatnot. I realized, telling myself, ‘Man, all these expensive certifications. And there was an issue of expensive and they change every few months. And I’ll end up just paying for them and just learn them. So I decided, ‘You know what? If I ever start a business, I got to start hire somebody smart and let them do the work. So that’s what happened. So, to do everything myself was not easy. So I have to look for you know, outsourcing somebody local or overseas. So locally of course, the price is a little bit high, which means if I get a client, I have to match up the price, when I start to look for overseas, and thanks to Bro. Ali for helping me and coaching me on that. We hired several people through Elance. Anybody from you know, India, Bangladesh, or Middle East, or Africa, or even South America, my experience is specifically with hiring folks from India. I have nothing against them, but it was extremely horrible, okay?

Victoria: Yeah, yeah. I was waiting for that one to come out.

Yusuf: I don’t want to say this, but it was like extremely horrible because they’re too laid back, they don’t understand customer service. And believe it or not, only last year, I hired one company from India. I had to like, ‘Go back to help this company online marketing.’ Because I saw that they were doing some projects for like Lexus, I have their company call me. So I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to give it a try.’ Then I have a couple of companies from Philippines and from UK, and you know, of course Russia, and South America. What I decided to, instead of just having a individual freelancer, I’d rather focus with agencies. Because just like any web agency or online marketing agency here in the States, it’s the same thing overseas. They want to make sure that they provide the best service and they always get customers, and they have a system in place. So that’s what I ended up having, is to hire and work with those agencies.

Victoria: But you know how to do that, because you know what they’re supposed to be delivering. And that’s where the education part comes in. Because if you try to go out and do that, ’cause we all get these emails from agencies offering us SEO for $99 a month and we’ll do this, and we’ll do that, and from India or God knows where they’re from, and they target agencies. But for the one who has no experience and don’t know what they’re doing, or they just want to sell the service, like a lot of them do, they’ll hire one of these guys and have a huge mark up on it, but they don’t do anything.

Yusuf: You’re absolutely correct. I mean it was very difficult. Honestly, it was very difficult to find a good agency. I did that for a couple of years, I would say like 2 or 3 years to find a good one. It was very hard. ‘Cause every time I hire one, they end up doing stuff that is either outdated, or they do some shady stuff where they hire also to somebody else. It was very chaotic. So I ended up, thanks to you because you did recommend me one. But I did some research and found out they were great. And I have one, like I said one another big company from Philippines and one from India. Now, I also have agencies here in the States. But of course, those agencies from the States are of course, pricy. So if I get a big client, I’ll see if I can get along with them first. And if the budget doesn’t match, then I will switch to the overseas.

So I decided to put a system in place where I have access to everything. So instead of competing, now I collaborate. So collaborate with other agencies and start helping each other. So amazing that when you’re so consistent, and work very hard, always come with a solution, you’re going to find it. So right now, you can technically say I have an agency, because I have everything. I mean from graphic designers to account managers, or web developers, SEO, social, mobile apps, everything.

Victoria: Yeah. And it takes a long time to really pull that team together. I mean, we build our teams different ways but it took a long time to build these teams and to build these relationships, and if I can’t help someone, ’cause we just have different niches, and we have differentiation aspects. And if there’s something that I know that I think you know, Yusuf would be the best one to handle this, and I’ll shoot it over. No big deal. Because as long as I’m getting them to someone that I know is good, and I know is going to take care of them, then I’m ok. I’ve done my job.

Yusuf: You know, it’s amazing how I give several classes on outsourcing to small businesses, telling them exactly what thing do to avoid the mistake that I made. And right now, if you have any project that you want to start, it will take me only like 10 minutes to hire somebody because of the experience that I’ve been through. For me it’s very easy how to find the right person and how to hire them. And even though I did several classes locally, and they’re still having an issue and I told them, ‘Well, you got to be consistent in the right person to help you out.’ And funny, because I showed them everything. Like I told them how to look, where to look, and how to engage with them, especially don’t treat them like a staff. Don’t call them staff. Treat them like a team. Consider they’re a part of your team and be so good to them, like you know, pay them very well. And this is another thing I don’t like about some of these so-called online marketers. Well, they always say you go ask somebody cheaper. Cheaper doesn’t mean always good. Does that make sense?

Victoria: And a lot of times it doesn’t mean good. That’s the problem with that. You get what you pay for, that’s what I tell them. You get what you pay for. If you get somebody at $3-$4 an hour, then expect $3-$4 an hour of work.

Yusuf: Absolutely! There are exceptions to the case, yes, there are few folks that yes, the might do it for $4 or $5, because they still don’t realize their potential. So what I do, I make sure that all my team gets paid very well. Like you know, 15, 18, 45 and up. Why? Because I want to make sure that they live nicely, whatever they’re living at, and feed their family without having a second thought. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.

Victoria: Yeah, yeah. Actually when I hired my first, well he’s my lead designer right now. And his skills over the past he’s been with me for so long, and calls me mom. But I recognized his talent very early on. And again, I was hiring him for me. And my agency was mainly very new, but I was hiring him for stuff. But I wanted someone that can specifically do one particular thing that was a very unique skill. And I had so many people applying. And I said you know, I wanted to see their portfolios and I could tell, I wanted someone who, could customize the Thesis theme at that time. And they would send me sites that weren’t you know, there was no Thesis to begin with, waste my time, or they would send me sites that were in Thesis, that were quoted with Thesis but they didn’t design them.

Yusuf: Interesting,

Victoria: So they had put in their portfolio other people’s sites. But I know this. I knew it, but someone else wouldn’t have known. And I knew who designed some of those sites, because I’m in the forums, I’m on the sites, I’m on the blogs, I’m in the forums, sometimes I’m communicating with these people. And I’m like, you realize these people here, they just listed all of these sites and they’re not sites that they’ve done, they just wanted the job.

Yusuf: Yeah, and it’s crazy and you have to be very careful. There’s so many strategies like when you hire somebody for instance, if you post a job for you know, let’s say for mobile app or whatnot, you have to mention to the post that, ‘Do not reply to me until you answer the 3 questions on this post.’ And you put 3 questions in the middle and if they reply to you with the answer, then you would know that they actually read the whole thing.

Victoria: Exactly. And most of them, 75% of them don’t.

Yusuf: Don’t even read, yeah.

Victoria: It’s so funny. They all say they read the post.

Yusuf: Right. That’s why there’s a way to get the right person. There’s so many different ways to get the right one. And this is an advice that I really tell, not just at any freelancer, even here locally when I coach locally and I tell them, ‘Look, if you want to start this in this kind of niche, eventually you have to outsource. You have to delegate. Otherwise, you can’t run the business.’ And right now people ask me, how come I give all these classes, how come I can do everything? And I tell them because you know, my business is running by itself. I don’t have to worry about it. Does that make sense?

Victoria: You have to have a team. You have to have a team ’cause it’s a lot of work. I tell myself this, I can tell you what to do but you either have to do this, or run your business. You can’t do both. You can’t do both and really, really maximize. And I’ve had some that actually would, and I know this is a totally different interview, but this is something I feel is so important, because everyone especially if they start out are going to get to this topic.

But I had one, several who got so frustrated with a scam artist or whatever, and the con artist and they would bring it in house. But then, they will bring it in house, and some of the ones that I knew, they would bring people that they don’t know themselves. So they would like, ‘Yeah, I had a few people( Just because they know me personally) who were like, “Yeah, I just got hired as an SEO person. I’m going to be calling you for advice. “And I’m like, “’No, you won’t.” Why do you take a job if you don’t know how to do it? And think you’re going to spend my time for me teaching you how to do it, while they’re paying?’ No! That’s not going to happen. And I’ve had 2 or 3 that have done that. I’m not broadcasting myself. These are just people who happen to know me and happen to take jobs. Imagine how many people are in this position.

They’re hiring people that don’t know how to do the job they’ve hired them for, because they don’t know how to hire somebody who knows how to do the job. It’s a catch 22 because they’re hiring people in house to try to protect their business and it still doesn’t really protect them and yet it keeps you from getting conned because you still got someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Yusuf: You know what? You just give me an idea. I’m going to have to write an eBook on how to help agencies to find the right team.

Victoria: That’s what I’ve been doing. And we’ve talked about this. I just finished an eBook, but I’m still doing, you know we talked about doing a video training just to get it out there to as many people as possible. And you know, from then on they can decide, at least they know how to hire someone. And I have it right here. It’s ready to go.

Yusuf: This is amazing. Yeah, absolutely correct. Due to the meet up that I was giving locally, that’s how I get approached by other agencies. Because they attend the class several times, they see what I’m teaching. They can see the proof. They can see the work. And I think this is going to definitely help.

Victoria: Yeah, yeah, it will. Hopefully, my whole thing was hopefully it will at least put some standards in our industry.

Yusuf: I don’t know about some standards. I mean, that’s a very excellent point.

Victoria: Some standards in our industry and at least empower the business owners to where if they’re empowered to do it, then they don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of. And then hopefully we can eventually weed out the ones and bring in good agencies. ‘Cause I know several good ones. And it’s just that we’re not willing to lie and mislead. And we don’t sound quite as sexy to them when we’re telling the truth. And my other thing was I said, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ And every single one has come back. But now they’ve come back after they’ve wasted a year or two. And one said, ‘What should I do?’ I said, ‘You need to start listening to me. I know it sounds good, I know it sounds like a pipe dream, and that’s what they’re good at. They’re good at telling you what you want to hear. The good ones are not going to do that. They’re not going to lie to get your business, ’cause they already know. They have some integrity there. But it’s just not going to sound the same.’

Yusuf: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that, let’s say this is maybe an advice to the listeners. Like if you want to find out which company that knows online marketing, you have to ask. First you have to know basics, you so have to know it. Because if you don’t know how can you select, which is the good one or not. So any company that comes and tells you for instance, and to see if they have some sort of red flag, if they tell you, ‘We are going to rank you on the first page of Google organically within 24 hours.’ That’s a red flag.

Victoria: Or if they tell you that period.

Yusuf: Yeah, to go to run. You got to run with your horse, I’m going to run with my camel, but you got to run. So that’s the first thing. Secondly, if they always talk about ranking only, that’s not a good sign. Because search engine optimization is not just about ranking, but it’s more about user experience, it’s more about conversions, if they talk about conversions. Sometimes, your website could be in the second page, on the third page, and guess what? You might still get leads. You might still get phone calls. So you have to focus on those kind of information. And you can ask them what is a Black Hat SEO, what is a Gray Hat, and what is a White Hat, or what kind of website do you follow to learn? Specifically myself, I love moz.com, M-O-Z.com. That’s one of my favorites. Then you also have searchengineland.com, searchenginejournal.com, searchengineroundtable.com, and I believe SEO books. These are the one that you can actually trust when it come to this you know, like specifically SEO or the online marketing general.

Victoria: Yeah, absolutely. I think we got to do another call. I  brought you on for that, we got to do another one. Where we just sit out and do a Q&A. I’m going to set that up probably in the next couple of weeks, we just do a Q&A and just really let people just come in and online.

Yusuf: That would be awesome.

Victoria: Yeah, so that was one I was putting together just this week. And really just letting people get it out there. ‘Cause it just really, wow, wow.

Yusuf: You know what? Even if the idea of online marketing, digital marketing and right  now you have mobile SEO and whatnot, it’s actually not that difficult. But like you said, it is just time consuming. It is very time consuming and its so important for you see the result. But if you start any business, this sort of information should not scare you, but you have to be open to learn. You have to understand how these type of strategies can actually help you because technically, if you do everything by yourself, initially, you don’t have to spend tons of money if you don’t have it.

Now, I’m not saying this to make you think you know, like the cheap mentality, I don’t like doing to tell people you know, be always, all the time cheap. No, you have to invest in the business. And if you have sort of budget in your place, you can use some of those money and invest it back. If you don’t, do your best to learn, and whatever you learn, apply it.

And the reason I’m saying this is because online marketing actually changes very fast. I mean, look at social media, it changes very fast. And SEO, it’s with this all these new algorithms. So don’t try to be too cheap. I mean do your best, do you understand? And don’t confuse bootstrapping with being cheap.

Bootstrapping basically means, if you can find ways if you can do it by yourself or within your budget, you will do it. So spend wisely and be very smart. One of my favorite quote that I just read a few days ago, by Kate Buck Junior, she is one of the social media experts. She’s from Austin, Texas. She built different programs, teaching new businesses. Like let’s say if you want to get into social media business, she has a course that teaches how to start. And one of the statements that I love, she said, “If you can’t afford to invest in marketing your business, then you do not actually have a business. You have a side project, a hobby, a hope and prayer that you make it this month.” Which is true, sometimes you have to invest in business even for a few money, you have to get into the mood. You know what? In order for me to succeed, I have to invest. I can’t be free all the time.

Victoria: Yeah, especially in this industry, when they don’t know what this stuff cost or entails, you don’t have a frame or reference. Because my personal favorite is the hosting companies that have their SEO. And it just kills me because this is not SEO. Or it’s content marketing anyway. But everyone is like, ‘Oh, SEO.’ So when they see this, ‘This is only $50 a month.’ And they don’t know what that garbage is. They’re thinking they got an SEO and it’s like, ‘No, you got something that they’re calling SEO, that you’re paying them $50 a month for nothing, pretty much.’ But if you don’t know that upfront, you can’t make that decision.

Yusuf: You’re absolutely correct. Because the only time you can pay SEO service for like $500 a month, really is if its from overseas. Because for them, that $500 is a lot of money. But if you know the actually work that involves in the SEO, it’s a lot of work. So it’s impossible to give them 50 bucks. That is like, ‘I’m going to build a car for a dollar.’

Victoria: That’s a good analogy, ‘I’m going to build a car for a dollar.’

Yusuf: Yeah, because when people tell me that this is $50 or 90 bucks a month, or some of them right now I noticed, some of them come and say, ‘You know what? I will rank you on the first page and you don’t have to pay anything until it’s ranked.’

How do they do that? I mean, unless you have numbers, you have enough money, then yes, maybe he can do it. But other than that, I sometimes question it because the reality, if you just go to Google and type ‘SEO pricelist MOZ’ I’m going to do a quick search here. If you go to Google and do a search for ‘Prices MOZ’, you just out the word moz. And Moz wrote a blog post on this topic, it’s called SEO pricing 600+ agencies, share cost of services.

And the research done like in 2012 and explains the prices that SEO consultant and SEO experts charge, anywhere between 75 to 120 an hour. And they talk about from different projects, I mean. So if you understand the reality of the work, it is impossible to do SEO for like 50 bucks or a couple of hundred. So they need to realize that.

Victoria: Yeah, that’s an excellent point in giving them that. And right now, especially least the way I do things, you need to include social media and other things. And you made an exact point that I took. You don’t have to rank now to get traffic and to get business from the search engines. You don’t have to rank on the first page. But that’s the mindset, that’s how they’ve been taught and pushed over years. Their mindset is all on rankings. I would ask some of the clients, they said, ‘Yeah.’ to this guy because they wouldn’t go with me. And they would say at first, they said,

‘He said he’s going to rank me at the top of their search engines for my keywords.’ And I said, ‘What keywords are those?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘So you’re going to pay for something you don’t know what the keywords are?’ And so I would explain to them, I said, ‘Look, he didn’t even tell you. First of all, he promised you something that he can’t deliver. And that’s a red flag.

Second of all, if he promised to rank you at the top of the search engines for your keywords, then they’re going to be keywords that nobody’s going to be searching for anyway.’ ‘Cause they don’t know that there’s traffic and search volume and all of this stuff. So they’re like, ‘Well, he got me to the top of the search engine.’ For which keyword? Yeah, this is the only time that it’s cut off, but.

Yusuf: I think Skype just couldn’t handle our call. It’s too much information.

Victoria: Yeah, I think we got people listening in over here. But, so I gave one, and I know you got to go. I gave one five keywords, and he came back, he’s like, ‘I met some guy at my chamber of commerce meeting, he’s going to get me 10 keywords.’ So I said, ‘Send me those keywords.’ I kid you not, 6 out of the 10 keywords had no search volume.

And out of those 6, some of them had no search volume, and some of them, they were totally irrelevant to his business, and they were just ridiculous. And I said, ‘Have you even looked at these keywords? Some of them had nothing to do.’ And so I showed him, I said, ‘One of my keywords, just one of my keywords, was more than three times all three of his ten, in search volume.’ I still had the other four.

And that’s why it was an eye opener for him. Thanking like, ‘Wow! He gave you ten, I gave you five. But my search volume was more than, it’s probably four times his total, out of his ten.’ It was ridiculous.

Yusuf: This is amazing because they don’t realize that with all the changes in algorithm, right now, actually, I don’t want to say Google don’t  look at the keyword. They do, but they focus more in usability and also content. Like how many content you’re writing and are those content are dead, out there like really valuable, are people sharing it. So things are changing, but like you said, I still see some folks that talks about these something you know, outdated stuff and whatnot.

Victoria: They don’t know and they know that this is what the customer is looking for, because the customers or the clients don’t know. So, they’re like, ‘All they care about is getting ranking, that’s what I’ll sell them on.’ Because they don’t care and it’s an industry that’s changing so quickly and so fast. This was years ago, when that that particular thing happened. But over the course of years, there’s just been so many of these situations that I get a headache just thinking about it.

Yusuf: Yeah. And I tell a lot of businesses that really, when you look at digital marketing, I mean right now, SEO is just one part of the online marketing. Which means you can’t just only focus on that. It is essential, so you have to focus on let’s say, social media is part of it. When I say content marketing, basically I’m talking about blog, podcast like this show, YouTube, Infographics. So things are really spreading out there, right? And officially this year, April 21st, this is the year where Google basically said that everyone has to be a responsive based design or mobile friendly. And if it’s not, Google might not show that website on the mobile devices if it’s not mobile friendly. So that’s why businesses really have to be following up with all the changes, because their biggest competitors are big companies are able to spend tons of money to make sure that they are digitally visible.

Victoria: Yeah. And you need someone to keep you up on that. That’s the other side of only doing the work, staying up to date and keeping up. Its wow, it’s a lot to just stay, keep yourself educated and keep yourself on top of the change. It’s a responsibility on us, if we’re not compliant, then our clients are non-compliant. They hire us to protect them and make sure they’re okay.

Yusuf: Right, and for that reason, it’s in the process that I’m planning to start a monthly membership. Where agencies businesses can you know, it’s going to be very affordable so they can log in. And it will consist of everything, from online marketing strategies, SEO, social media, crowdfunding even, everything.

So they can just kind of Google it or log in and learn. And I’ll also create a, probably community for the members so in case they have a question, they can just drop their question and I’ll help them. Because I think this is the problem, and the solution is to provide this information. Even though these information are available for free, you can find them in Linda or Udemy or any other website. What makes me different is I’m going to simplify them.

I’m going to do my best to simplify because a lot of those courses. And sometimes, a tech person or a knowledgeable person, they might be good at what they do best, but when it comes to like teaching and trying to take that message, it’s a little bit challenging. And having all these classes that I’ve been doing locally to small businesses, now I understand how I can explain to them, and how I can simplify it in the hope for them to understand it better.

Victoria: Excellent. And for everyone listening, I’ve been after him for so long to do this. But he’s busy, he’s a busy guy. You know, he’s in high demand, he’s a busy guy, and I said, ‘Look, can you get this up? So we can actually educate and make sure that the business owners, at least they know.’ Some of them are higher agencies anyway, but they know. Some of them are going to have to bootstrap and do it on their own. So yes, yes, yes, and now you’ve heard it directly from him. So we have him on the hook to actually get it done.

Yusuf: Right. And here’s another tip, and it’s really sad. I’m going to give you this simple tip. And I don’t know why people don’t follow it, but I appreciate and I hope that listeners will do this. When you do online marketing, there are like hundred ways on doing things. If you want to build traffic, there are also a hundred way of doing things. So what you do, it is better for you to do something little, than not doing anything at all, right?

So that being said, the best thing to do right now is at least blog once a week. If you can just blog weekly, update the content or be active in the social like let’s say, one post a day, and you’re consistent, eventually you will see some result. That’s it. That’s all I ask for you guys, okay? Then just do that and make sure Google analytics installed to your website and the Google webmaster tool, then you will see what’s happening. And when you have enough let’s say, if you generate some income through selling your service online, or selling product, then make sure you put like 10-15% of that income invested back in marketing. So look in to Facebook advertising, which is becoming very popular because it’s very affordable, and it brings good result. Or you can try Bing, or Google, or MSN ads to get more conversion to your site.

Victoria: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. And look, we’ve already been here an hour, and this topic could go on. I’m sure we going to have to do an encore one day, ‘cause we didn’t even get into the whole journey, but I did it purposely because this is such an important topic. And especially we’re talking to people now who going to want to, there’re entrepreneurs or wantapreneurs and they want to start, this is a topic you’re going to have to face eventually, and getting in this business, you going to have to market it. So this one, I’ve decided to, well let’s just talk about this and all of the craziness that goes on in our lovely industry. But we’re definitely, I think we’re going to have to have an encore and we’ll be in touch especially to get more, to get those calls out and everything. I’m excited about it. And again, how can people find you?

Yusuf: You can Google my name, Yusuf Chowdhury, okay? That’s C-H-O-W-D-H-U-R-Y, and first name Yusuf, Y-U-S-U-F, of course. My own website just started this year, yusufchowdhury.com. You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, any social media site. Just when you connect with me tell me why you’re connecting with me because I don’t just accept anybody. What do I mean by that. Don’t give me a call because I don’t know you. Tell me, ‘You know what? I listened to you in this podcast with Victoria, or I saw your blog on somewhere else.’ That way, I will definitely connect with you and I’d love to help. What I mean by that, I’ll do everything what I can to answer your question and guide you, okay? So please connect with me.

Victoria: Absolutely, and you won’t be sorry. And your Yusufied series it’s on your LinkedIn. And you know, this is the guy. You know, if you’ve got questions, Yusuf is definitely the one to, he’s to go to. He’s the OG.

Yusuf: Right. And I think all the listeners today, you’ve all been Yusufied approved. So, there you go.

Victoria: Everyone’s been Yusufied. I’ve been Yusufied. You’ve been Yusufied.

Yusuf: One of the business coach asked me, ‘How can I get Georgefied? Since you’re Yusufied. How can that happen?’ I just told them, ‘Go to my place and I will coach you too.’ I better start my own line of certification, you know, Yusufied in different levels and Yusufication of certification.

Victoria: You do that, in your membership.

Yusuf: Right.

Victoria: Yeah! It’s got to happen in the membership. When they get to this level, then they’ll be Yusufied, Yusufied Silver, and then Gold, and then Platinum.

Yusuf: Wow, now you’ve given me another idea. That’s awesome.

Victoria: Yes. Yes, that’s awesome. Let’s do that.

Yusuf: Actually, there were couple of businesses when I refer, I do tell them, ‘You need to contact this moving company or this graphic designer, by the way, they’re Yususfied.’ So when they call the company, ‘Hi, Yusuf told me that you’re Yusufied.’ So I’m building my own brand here locally.

Victoria: Yeah, that’s awesome. We’re going to make sure that everyone here is Yusufied, or everyone here is at least can find people who are Yusufied. This has been too much fun. I know I kept you a little long. You got to go. But thank you so much for being on. If we have to do another one We did change the format a little bit. We didn’t get as much into your story or in your journey, but hey we can always catch that on another one. I just really wanted to. I thought this was such an important topic. And to have you come on and talk about it, we can go on forever. So let’s do it again. But for now, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all of your wisdom. And let’s see how we can do it again.

Yusuf: Thank you, Victoria so much. I really enjoyed it. And I’m so excited to look forward for the next episode.

Victoria: Okay, everyone have a good day. If you’ve listened to this, write in our site, it’s o2epodcast.com. That’s O as an orange, and 2 is the number, and E as an elephant .com. And just Google Y-U-S-U-F or SEO and this podcast will come right up. And we’ll go from there. Thank you. Have a good day.

Yusuf: Bye everyone!

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