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Understanding Digital Marketing and SEO with John Vuong

Posted by Greg Smith on March 25, 2021 at 7:30 AM

Keywords To Success

SEO is one of the most pivotal functions of digital marketing. Is your business leveraging the power of SEO to ensure that your presence is easily accessible online? It can be tricky to navigate these waters, particularly as digital marketing practices are always changing an evolving.

In fact, that's why it's imperative to partner with a specialist in SEO who can help make you stand out among your competitors when consumers are looking for the product or service your provide. Recently, our CEO Stacy Jones, sat down with John Vuong to discuss the best practices in SEO. In this blog, Hollywood Branded learns how to drive your business through SEO from a seasoned sales professional and Internet marketer, as well as the founder of Local SEO Search.


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A Little More About Guest

to John Vuong is a seasoned sales professional and internet marketer with an exceptional track record helping companies grow their clientele and profits. Working with more than 5,000 local business owners inspired him to start his own company, Local SEO Search, back in 2013. With 15 years of experience working with CEOs, business owners, and marketing leaders, and some of Canada's most successful corporations, John has developed a deep understanding of local marketing dynamics and consumer behavior.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: Can you share with us a little bit about how you got into this whole world of SEO today? and just your backstory of why this charges you up so much to do it on a day-to-day basis.

Answer: Definitely. I started my career back after college actually. So after college, I took on advertising sales role and I worked in traditional media. Before the internet existed, this was back in 2003, I was really focused on just understanding sales and really getting to perfect that profession. I was reading and listening to a lot of audio tapes and really just understanding the whole behavior of what triggers business owners or people to buy ads. I learned from a lot of mentors and people within that field, and I moved around from traditional print directories to digital affiliate online marketing, and then I went back. The longest stint before I started this agency was working at Yellow Pages Group. I was there for five years and that's where I really learned how to be a true sales professional because their training was intensive. Seven weeks of really hardcore sales training, as well as I'm working alongside 3,000 top sales professionals across Canada.

I was able to garnish a lot, learned a lot, and really absorb and get a lot of day-to-day interactions on to their behaviors. So that's where I learned about sales. Then why did I pivot towards SEO? Well, at Yellow Pages, at advertising sales, I actually learned that a lot of these business owners were just frustrated. They were not getting the same ROI that they traditionally once did get and people were moving away from traditional ads to more digital ads, and users were preferring to be real time searching for things. This is before, so back in, I would say 2010'ish, the internet was not as fast as it is today, it was still 3G. 4G started taking off last couple years but you saw there was a trend because technology was advancing. Smartphones were really much more easy to access, email, search apps, and now social media at your fingertips and GPS and everything else, so there was a trend moving away from traditional to now digital.

I knew that just from talking to business owners because they were not spending as much as they were once spending in print ads and they wanted a better presence and being in front of more eyeballs who were actively looking at that time. So that's why I started SEO. I didn't really know much about SEO. I'm not technically inclined, that's not my background, I was more of a sales rep. I started this agency just because I knew there was a need and demand from my existing clients that wanted to shift to more of a digital presence.


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Question: What can SEO do for a business? Why does it actually matter?

Answer: There's a big difference in terms of user's behavior, and when they're searching for a website or searching for anything. When there's ads on top of Google, people know that the ads, the people are paying for it, and people understand that they'd rather search below the ads because they feel like Google has done their job to vet those websites to appear on those first page. So it's more user behavior and what you want to do is at least have an option for that user to click on your website and position yourself as an authoritative figure, as an expert. But there's a lot more dynamics to it than just appearing on the first page because it's all about UX design, website design, making sure content reflects what they're searching for, and position yourself with abundance of links and abundance of thought research, well-researched content as well. But the whole purpose of SEO is just having presence, being there when someone's searching so that you have the opportunity to then convert them wherever that stage of the journey is from top level to near the bottom of the funnel.

So search engines, primary Google is keyword based, however, content can come from audio, video, and images as well. On Google, there's podcasts, there's video, YouTube, which is owned by Google, and then images as well. There's different ways people consume content and there's different ways to optimize different pieces of content. With snippets to keyword rich, long tail keywords, to images with all tags to podcasts, making sure you have your different ways to optimize from title to everything. So the hope purpose is to easily sort your information so that Google or ultimately the user, because ultimately what you want to satisfy is that user behavior to match what exactly they're searching for with your website. But you have to position yourself long-term typically. It's not like I do it once and forget it thing, it's an ongoing battle between you and the hundreds of maybe thousands other competitors trying to compete with that same keyword that you want to go after.


Question: What are some of the top most important things you need to concentrate on with your website, with your content, with your overall digital platform that actually is going to make a big difference in the world of SEO?

Answer: This is going to be a very hard answer for a lot of people, but SEO is more people who want to establish them for a long-term as opposed to they don't know if it's a business yet. What I mean by that is if you have a side hustle or if you're not serious in terms of committing to your business and you don't really have revenue yet, it's very hard for you to know who your ideal customers are, who you want to go after, how do you want to serve your content in the market? But if you already have some business experience and understand who you want to go after, like that avatar that person, then you can create a campaign to target more of that ideal customer viewers and it's more long term. So, yes.

Understand your people, writing good content, and then understanding that what content do they like consuming and hit them with a message that they can't live without. Keep it consistent, keep them wanting more constantly because what Google is after is fresh information, position yourself as an expert and leader so that they will serve you up. But there's other variables that are important such as reputation management, like getting good reviews and testimonials, a lot of back links or people actually writing about you as a thought leader, and then you serving up constant new information, well researched content. So there's so many other variables that you can not just focus on one, if that makes sense.

So not only do you need to write a blog once in a while, but make sure it's in-depth well researched new information that either comes from yourself or from a third party, and make sure you citation it, make sure everything is properly referenced, but the key is positioning yourself because if people want to use you as a product or service, they want to know that you know your stuff, that you're an expert. Just like if I use a plumber, I want to make sure that they have been doing it for five, 10, 20 years, and I'm going to pay a premium because I can try to do it myself on a YouTube video, but I'm paying them to do it right the first time. So it's very similar to any product or service that people want to pay for your product service, they want and they expect more than what they can find and do themselves.


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Question: Another thing that you touched on which I think people don't really think about a lot of times when they think SEO and they should, is that whole reputation management because you get a bad digital reputation, you're going to just suffer. Isn't that right?

Answer: Reputation management is just third-party reviews. Anyone to write a testimony on their own website but when someone gets a third-party review like Google reviews or Yellow Pages or Yelp or Facebook, it's more personalized and you can actually see who's writing it and you can actually read behind the lines if it's a fake review or if it's a genuine review, you should actually comment all positive and negative reviews. So the whole point of reputation management is people trust third-party reviews more than they trust themselves. That's the first thing I do when I travel or go to a restaurant, I always check the reviews, not just the star rating but I sort by negative first and how they manage the negative because I feel like everyone is going for five star reviews.

It's more like, whenever something bad happens, how does the ownership manage that situation? So I'm a little bit different than the average person that would look at reviews, but it's the whole purpose of getting good reviews. So make it a habit within your business to start asking in terms of a process to get more reviews. No matter whether it's positive or negative, just make sure you get more so that you make it a constant process moving forward.

If you think about traditional, like bricks and mortar stores before Google existed, the Yellow Pages type clients, how did they survive before the internet existed? They took over their customers, they understood who they were and they rewarded them being loyal. They take care and personalize as much as possible and and they relied on referral and word of mouth. So if you think about the digital landscape, is very similar to how bricks and mortar old school businesses operated. If you take care of your business, your core clients, you serve them well, you price it well, everything in terms of running a good business, if you do that, and then you replicate the same things online, you're going to be in good shape. But if you don't know how to run a good business, SEO will never transition you to be a good business owner because they'll see right through you when they see all these five-star reviews yet when you call them up, you're not treated right. There's gaps and people will know. So make it consistent.


Question: Are there any big mistakes that you just see people make all the time besides lack of consistency?

Answer: I would say like the website piece, there is things that people expect today. Secure website, having an SSL so to give it fast loading mobile friendly, the user engagement UX design, like if you wouldn't go to a website longer than five seconds, so say in your own shoe as a user to your clients, your business, and then would you consult them after looking that first impression because you have three seconds? A lot of people forget about that, they forget about their own business and taking a step back from a third party review like the perspective of a user. If you can really humanize yourself and be real with real people and having a team or whatever, that's where you can actually elevate your whole website, your whole system and process because there's going to be gaps. Every business can get better at every aspect, from customer service, answering the phone, processes, accounting, bookkeeping, sales, whatever it is. So understanding the different gaps and then working on it and changing it slowly, that's how you can actually get better as a business. So I always look at like the big picture versus the smaller things.


Check Out The Podcast!

John has SO MUCH of great information from his experience in SEO technology, check out the podcast below to learn more about how to drive your business from his advice and expertise!

Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year: 

Every week we release a new podcast featuring guest's with so much knowledge about marketing, you don't want to miss one!  How can you make sure you don't miss an episode? Click below to subscribe!

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Topics: Business Advice, Podcast Interviews