Thank you for considering!
Interview - This is a written interview
1.Why start SEO Signals Lab?
Can you briefly describe how the idea of SEO Signals Lab came about and why you decided to make a move to start it?
The idea of starting SEO Signals Lab came from a personal challenge after reading Seth Godin’s books, especially the part where he says that being boring is equivalent to death in the connection economy. I thought to myself, perhaps I should experiment with the concept of being interesting in our connection economy.
I had never had a presence on social media before SEO Signals Lab since I like to work in the background. Starting SEO Signals Lab sort of forced me to express myself more in the social media jungle. In a nutshell, my marketing experiment became my hobby and a way to network with other marketers.
2. Before SEO Signals Lab
What type of background in SEO did you have before SEO Signals Lab?
I didn’t start my career as a so-called “SEO” from the get-go. I started out as a self-taught web designer/developer, and it was really a hobby while I was running an offline business. I then became a part-owner of an online company servicing Fortune 1000 companies.
I had to learn the SEO basics to get the company pages visible online. When I came to Dallas after selling the company, I networked with large agencies and managed various web projects for Fortune 500.
I had to force-learn SEO from a developer’s side as I developed a CMS for my projects and the agency projects I was involved in.
3. Your biggest challenges?
What were the biggest challenges you faced in SEO Signals Lab’s first year?
Planning for a differentiation point was the hardest when competing against marketers and smart SEOs who can easily copy your content by looking over your shoulder. Marketers are good at copying someone else’s content and subtly adding their spin and style to it.
I started to bake entertainment elements into our engagements to turn the group into an SEO edutainment hub, which I thought had an angle. My strategic reasoning was that people can copy SEO content but not your style of presentation or personality.
4. How do you stay motivated?
What steps do you take to maintain a positive, engaged culture in your group?
My marketing philosophy in a social media setting is straightforward: always attempt to be different and develop your personality, just not in a weird way.
The process naturally breeds category class. Most influencers will tell you to become a celebrity. I did the opposite and went out of my way to elevate and feature other industry professionals by starting “Pick His/Her Brain” AMA posts, which became the most popular series in the group. I took the “host” approach instead of placing the spotlight on my content and went after the organic viral effect.
Who wouldn’t like to hang around in a group full of identifiable industry leaders?
5. How to create a self-sustaining environment
You are still very active in your group. Were there periods when you were even more hands-on? If so, what did you do to create a more self-sustaining environment?
If you were to call it one, my secret sauce would be frequent monitoring and gathering data points to determine which posts will bring healthy engagement. Initially, I made some poor decisions by approving potential spam and drama magnets.
I had to learn from my mistakes and spent a ton of time on Facebook trying to understand the patterns. Because I’ve read through close to hundreds of thousands of posts and comments, I’ve developed a sixth sense for which formula works and which doesn’t. I now spend less time on Facebook and can balance my projects well. Perhaps I’ve mastered the concept of how to live harmoniously with Facebook.
6. Tips for driving organic Facebook traffic
I’m sure a lot of readers would like to know: do you have any tips for driving organic Facebook traffic to your group?
I believe the elements that make it work for me are consistency and not making members feel like my posts are top-of-the-funnel primers. At the start of SEO Signals Lab, someone told me that my non-product-centric concept of building a Facebook community wouldn’t go too far. However, I’ve seen continuous growth over the years and am happy with the active members and engagement count, which should be the accurate Facebook group metric.
As a rule of thumb, people hate being sold to and can recognize formulaic marketing patterns. There is a famous sales analogy about cheese and whiskers. Mice can sense cat whiskers a mile away but can dig a hole in the wall to get cheese. I am grateful that our members recognize the group’s intent of providing an honest discussion group, not just another sales funnel.
There are many gimmicks out there to help increase membership size, but what would be the point? I went for the basic human core level. People crave an environment where they can express their thoughts without needing to be pitched. I’ve made the pitches discreet.
7. Tips for converting members to customers
What about tips for converting membership into buyers of a service offering?
I love the concept of a value ladder and value alignment. Unless both elements are working in concert, conversion suffers. Conversion is simple. Provide the right offer at the right time to the right audience. You can’t fail with this marketing mentality.
I’ve spent a lot of time studying and perfecting the moving of raised hands to sales using smoothed-out transitioning methods. Transitional framing is what I’m currently teaching in my mastermind.
8. How much has changed?
Would you say much has changed for someone thinking of starting a Facebook group compared to when you began SEO Signals Lab?
Nothing has changed as people are people. Just don’t expect to gain tens of thousands of members within a short period.
In my case, developing the group’s personality and consistency wasn’t easy and took some time. It will always be hard for new group owners. Getting a few hundred members shouldn’t be that difficult though if you show consistency in posting content that fosters honest discussions.
Where marketers trip up is by being too anxious to convert members into paying customers. Always keep cheese and whiskers in mind in social settings.
9. The direction of SEO Signals Lab
Any thoughts on the direction of SEO Signals Lab? (No need to say too much here!)
We’ve already launched a search engine for the group. We are planning to launch a resource website soon with features I can’t reveal right now. All I can say is, stay tuned.
10. SEO in 2021
What are your thoughts on the direction of SEO in 2021 and on link building in particular?
Link building won’t be going away for many years as it’s the foundation of SEO. Google’s original PageRank formula based its model on hubs and spokes. Since links represent spokes, it will be challenging for Google to remove them from the equation. That’s speaking from the algorithm’s side.
The other side is how the link vendors influence the marketing side of link building. Marketers will continue to build a story around links, and the community will continue to purchase them regardless of their actual effectiveness and pricing. Marketers win the game.