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Recently, I had the opportunity to interview SEO expert Brian Hong. Brian is the CEO of Infintech Designs, a top New Orleans SEO and web design company. With over 13 years of experience in SEO, Brian is committed to keeping up with the latest trends in search engine optimization.
If you don't already follow the Infintech Designs blog, check it out. It is an excellent SEO resource that is especially designed for small business owners and marketing managers. If you have questions, Brian is available to perform SEO audits so that you can get advice from an expert directly.
While this interview is somewhat brief, I think we’ve covered some interesting points about SEO! Thanks again to Brian Hong for taking the time to answer all of my questions!
Ok, let’s get started.
Q: As a company that focuses on helping local businesses, I know that you are really committed to seeing small businesses thrive. How has your business helped New Orleans startups?
Hong: I’ve worked with local companies such as, Iconic Protein (a fast growing company in 1300 stores already) and Joule Solar Energy (ranked in Inc. Magazine’s 5000 List of America's Fastest Growing Companies). In fact, working with local businesses in New Orleans has always been a passion of mine from the very beginning of Infintech Designs.
That said, I also work with dozens of smaller businesses around New Orleans including several dental practices, lawyers, plastic surgeons, chiropractors, auto dealerships and more. While we are always on the look out for local companies who need help, I have clients that are spread out throughout US, in places like California, Seattle, Texas, and Florida.
Q: That’s interesting. Actually, it dawned on me recently how few local startups are able to launch and earn recognition immediately. What do you think are the real differences between a SEO firm that gets it and those that do not?
Hong: (laughs) The answer to this really depends on who you talk to. But for my clients who are small businesses working in competitive industries, the difference between a good SEO firm and a bad one is literally night and day.
These days, if you really want to do things right, you need to be more than a SEO expert. I invest heavily in my continued education in Digital Marketing and make sure I continue to grow/master my skills in social media marketing, paid search management, video marketing, video SEO, and other related fields.
You can’t be a one trick pony that only offers SEO. That in my opinion is what makes for a bad SEO firm. Although SEO is how I got my start, it’s definitely not the only thing that I do today.
Q: Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of things that local business need to do to rank online. What do you think are the most important aspects of digital marketing that small businesses need to invest in?
Hong: First, a business needs a professionally designed website that is optimized for speed, engaging content, and conversions. This is the baseline asset we use to optimize for rankings as well as funnel traffic to when launching SEM, Social, Video, Press Releases, and so on.
Q: That’s good. As a person who is on the forefront of SEO trends, you already have some ideas about how digital marketing is changing over time. How should new businesses market themselves online through 2016/2017?
Hong: Digital marketing for 2016 and beyond is really all about following Google’s guidelines. Too many SEOs and businesses alike have wasted budgets and compromised their rankings by thinking that they will somehow outsmart sophisticated algorithms that have taken Google literally decades to refine.
That said, there are always ways to get ahead of the competition. The main point that I want to emphasize for now is that small businesses need to hire SEOs understand their needs. Also, startups should realize that they will never be successful at digital marketing unless they take SEO seriously from the very beginning.
Q: I really think that you have the right idea, especially with the plethora of changes that Google has made to its platforms over the past few months. In general, what milestones should new businesses consider as the markers of success when trying to gain visibility in the search engines?
Hong: When it comes to SEO success, these five points are what I think define a successful campaign:
- A professionally designed website, built for conversions and engagement
- High authority backlinks that are niche relevant
- Frequency of publishing, with high quality content created on a regular basis
- Social foundations and signals
- Video marketing
Q: Finally, last question. For some businesses, trying to get everyone onboard with the company's SEO strategy seems like a fruitless endeavor. What can the marketing manager or business owner do to make sure that everyone is dedicated to the cause?
Hong: Again, SEO is a process and not a destination. As long as there is competition and changes to Google’s algorithm (Over 200 ranking factors that change nearly 1000 time per year), then the work will never stop. SEO is an investment in your businesses future. It’s converts your website into a valuable asset with an unmatched ROI when compared to other marketing solutions.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. The days of building thousands of links with exact match anchors on a daily basis are over. Tactics like that will get your website penalized or even deindexed from the search engines. Quality work takes time and Google will rewards sites with a wealthy river of traffic, for those who play the SEO game right.