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Episode 06: What Is SEO and Why SEO is Important

Ralph Marino, SEO Specialist
STEALTHbits Technologies

Ralph Marino is an SEO Specialist with 6+ years of proven experience in marketing and has accomplished measurable results while leading marketing efforts in a dynamic, ever-changing digital environment.

Ralph has extensive knowledge in SEO, social media, marketing campaigns, and brand building & governance; however his passion is with Search Engine Optimization. He previously worked for Colorado’s largest digital marketing agency managing a portfolio of well-known brands' and businesses' SEO campaigns. Ralph transitioned out of the agency life and now works in-house as an SEO specialist for STEALTHbits Technologies, a leading provider of data security solutions, helping organizations protect their most critical assets against today’s greatest threats.

00:05 Speaker 1: B2B marketing and sales can be tough to master. Sales cycles can be long and buyers are notoriously difficult to close. That's why you need Minds On at your side. We're a B2B marketing and digital agency that's helped more than 200 clients evolve their brands, win more business and succeed more often. And we're ready to help you. Visit www.mindson.com today to schedule your no-obligation consultation. Now, onto today's program.

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00:37 Speaker 2: I'm your host, Dan Harris and welcome back to another episode of Minds On B2B. Thank you so much everyone for clicking, subscribing, sharing, downloading and, of course, listening to our podcast. This is a weekly show dedicated to helping busy B2B executives, marketers and sales professionals stay informed, learn something new and, perhaps, supply a lesson learned or run with an idea shared by our guest. As we say at Minds On, all of our minds together are better than any one mind alone. Who knows? You just might like what you hear. Connect and network with us. Today we'll be talking and learning about search engine optimization, and over the course of this year, we're gonna dedicate multiple episodes to this topic because that's how important it is in today's searchcable world. In this first episode, we'll define what SEO is, why it's important, and we'll probably even find a way to talk about pizza. For this episode, I had a chance to sit down with Ralph Marino.

01:37 S2: Now, Ralph is a digital marketing manager at Enterprise SEO Specialist for STEALTHbits Technology. They're a leading provider of data security solutions helping organizations protect their most critical assets against today's greatest threats. Now, Ralph is currently responsible for and focused on search engine optimization efforts for the company to build brand awareness, generate leads and increase organic traffic to the STEALTHbits website. He'll be teaching and coaching us on the importance of SEO, share some SEO strategies and techniques he uses daily. Ralph welcome to the podcast and our first of many episodes focused on SEO. So, to get started, why don't you tell the audience a bit about you, and what we're gonna talk about today?

02:21 Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. I'm really excited to talk to you guys today. We're gonna be covering SEO and I am an SEO specialist, so I have the knowledge to talk to you guys about SEO. I've worked in the industry for a few years now, coming from an agency background, to now working in-house for a cybersecurity software engineering company out of New Jersey. So I'm really excited to be covering the SEO topics and everything SEO. And today's episode is gonna be pretty basic, what is SEO, how important it is and how businesses can benefit from Search Engine Optimization. And it is a digital marketing strategy that helps businesses visibility in search engine results. So, aside from the ads that you see when you type in a search query, any listing that aside from an ad is organic and SEO can help get your business listed for certain search queries and keywords.

03:16 S2: That makes a great deal of sense to me. So, how do you respond to someone who asks: Is SEO important? And then, how do you convince them that they truly need it?

03:26 S3: Yeah. Simply put, SEO is very important and that's the easiest way to put that, at least from my perspective, because I have an understanding of what SEO is. So, the hardest thing that I come across and the hardest discussions I had is convincing business owners and executives, that you need to utilize SEO. They don't neglect other marketing strategies, why do businesses tend to neglect SEO? And it's funny because just yesterday I was talking to a good friend of mine, John, we were former co-workers and we spoke about the fact that business owners don't realize that they need SEO. And when you change the verbiage around and you say, "Well, do you want leads? Do you like leads? Would you like having more leads? Do you wanna show up in the top of search results for this keyword? Do you wanna show up above your competitors?" And it's almost like a light goes off and they're like, "Absolutely, this is what I want." So, in a nutshell, I tell them that's SEO, that's exactly what you need and that's what SEO could do for your business.

04:29 S2: Ralph, that's a great way to explain it. I bet pretty much everyone today that needs something ends up on the web, on Google, Bing, Yahoo, type in a keyword searching for what the need. So, are you able to determine what keywords that people are searching for?

04:45 S3: Yeah, absolutely. And we have tools and ways that we can provide actual search volume behind keywords and see the trends and how users are looking up businesses similar to yours and their competition, what they're utilizing and how they're being successful online in the digital space. So, I wanna basically talk about a quick example that I found myself in and trying to convince somebody they need SEO, and this is a perfect example for this conversation right now. I was in New York visiting family and I walked into a pizza shop with my brother and the owner happened to be there and we got into discussion, what do you do, what do you do? I'm an SEO specialist. Never even heard of SEO before. He thought it was a title like CEO. So, while I was honored, I had to basically put it in perspective that SEO is a digital marketing strategy and this is what digital marketing is. And I'm standing at his location and I type in pizza delivery near me, and then pizza near me, and he's not popping up. You're in New York, you want New York pizza and he has a great shop, great pizza and he's not showing up in search results.

05:48 S3: So now I tell him, "With SEO we can get you, your website rather, optimized to show up for keywords like this because people want your product, people aren't just necessarily walking by and driving by and finding your business, so they're at home and they want delivery and you're not showing up." And this guy was actually very stubborn, as most people are in New York, and he just didn't see a value at that because I have a huge pizza sign on top of my business. And that's the hardest thing, is to convince people that are stuck in the old, traditional marketing ways, that digital marketing is the future and the future is now. You need to optimize your website, have a website and utilize SEO strategies to show up for keywords like pizza delivery near me, because people searching those keywords are only finding Domino's, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, and they're not finding your pizzeria.

06:37 S2: Yeah, with all this talk about pizza, now I'm hungry. So, how does that translate to B2B and companies like STEALTHbits who are trying to position their products and services in market? Is it a different approach?

06:50 S3: Yeah, absolutely. So, there's definitely different SEO campaigns. The example that I provided is a local SEO campaign, so that's gonna focus on a lot of geolocation, geotargeting, near me keywords and specific cities. Now, you deal with companies... Take STEALTHbits Technologies, for example, they are a B2B company and we're trying to target companies around the world, we're not limited to a specific city, state or even country. We wanna target businesses that need to utilize cybersecurity software. So, we take a different approach, as opposed to a local campaign, and we target keywords that businesses... They understand they need the security or they've become vulnerable to a data breach. As recently, we saw Marriott was a big data breach, and we wanna prevent these things. So, a lot of companies are searching for companies like us and how are we gonna find them?

07:48 S3: So, we have to put ourselves in the searcher's shoes and that goes back to keyword research and finding exactly what businesses are searching for. And this is relative to any business, so every business can benefit from SEO, not just local businesses, not just B2B businesses, but e-commerce especially could benefit from SEO because people are searching for your business, people don't know necessarily what they're trying to find or familiar with your business and brand. So, SEO can help brand visibility in search results and that's the biggest thing SEO could accomplish. And, like I mentioned earlier, SEO is the hardest thing to sell. People are familiar with social media, people are familiar with ads because it's immediate leads, but SEO is a long-term investment, and, if it's done right, people benefit from it. Websites will benefit from SEO.

08:36 S2: Yeah, I wanna go back. You mentioned keyword research. So, I think that's a term that if you understand what SEO is, you've probably heard it. You've probably... If you're in marketing, you probably have done keyword research, but is it important? Also, I'd like your take on this, to put together phrases.

09:00 S3: Yeah. So, with any campaign, and I'll go back to my tenure at digital marketing agency where I was doing SEO for a handful of different clients and I dabbled in all kinds of industries is, I always start with telling my client and asking them, "Can you give me a list of... " "Give me just 10 seed keywords? What do you think your searchers are typing in to find your business?" And nine times out of 10, I'll get a handful of branded key words. Now, that's great. And chances are nine times out of 10, those branded key words, don't have search line behind it. And people aren't typing in your website into search results, otherwise you'd be recognized people. We wouldn't have to optimize your keywords if people were familiar with your brand name. That being said, I tell him to re-visit that list and say, "Give me something else." It's a local business. Don't give me the name of your pizzeria, for example. Give me what people are typing in. So, pizza delivery, obviously. Food near me, we can get super broad in some instances and it depends on the competition, obviously.

10:04 S2: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I agree with you. I think that's important. If you can ask them the questions, and then, even their customers, if they... You put surveys or polls and understand what did they search to find you, if they did find you, because it's one of those things, I think... And we'll talk more about this in another series that we do, but it's ongoing, it's not just one and done, it's something that you have to pay attention to and keep up with us as you move forward. And I'm excited to talk a little further down the line, but I know, even for me, I'm starting to use Siri a lot more and Alexa. And the phrasing and the way you ask questions verbally, sometimes it's different than how you write it. So, search is evolving and I think those individuals who don't see the value in it now are gonna lose out in the long term.

11:06 S3: Yeah, and I'm glad you had mentioned that, because a lot of times we'll get too broad with keywords and we have to really identify the intent behind keywords in order to be successful in SEO campaign. So, let's... I'm talking about the pizzeria this whole time, so I'm gonna stick with the pizzeria. We're not gonna go after keywords like pizza. I'll add that to my keyword research and analysis. And I always regret doing that because the client will see thousands upon thousands of search... Average monthly search volume behind that keyword and say, "I wanna rank for pizza, put me at the top of search results for pizza." And that's just not realistic because the intent isn't there, you have to be super intent with keywords because people typing pizza may not wanna buy pizza, they might wanna know what is pizza, they never heard of pizza before. What is pizza? They wanna make pizza by themselves, so they're looking for recipes. So, that being said, it's not necessarily the user trying to find a pizzeria near them. Now, you optimize for keywords like pizzeria near me, the intent is there. They're trying to find a pizzeria that is close to them

12:11 S2: Thinking about intent is so important. So, pizzeria is better than pizza because it's a physical place, not a product, right? There's a lot of work that goes into this in they very beginning, just to make sure that you're creating an opportunity for the business to be found, not just to rank. If a person who is looking to do SEO or they're looking to hire somebody to do SEO, I find that they're looking for immediate results. When can I expect to see the results? When am I gonna be on page one? And I think they've been misled, in some cases, but I'd like to hear from you. What are the right types of expectations to set with someone when it comes to when you deploy SEO, when you can realize the results and the impact?

 

13:04 S3: That is a question I get all the time. So, any time people start dabbling in and executing SEO strategies, they are hiring somebody in-house or an agency for SEO, they wanna know. They're sending the money, they wanna know when the leads are gonna come in. And I've got that question so many times, especially with local businesses. "Hey, I'm not getting leads." It doesn't matter, despite the industry that they're in, "Where are my leads? Where are my leads?" And it's such a hard conversation to have because you can't predict anything like that. Results are so different and vary from campaign to campaign, that you can't put a time frame on it because we've got to monitor at least within the first two, three months how the campaign is going. And there's a lot of factors that go into it. How new is your website? How authoritative is your domain? So far, do you have links to your website already? Are you ranking for anything currently? How big is your competition space? So that being said, there's a lot of factors that go in and I never like to estimate when results are gonna set place, when you're gonna get leads. And the biggest thing to understand is that SEO is a long-term investment, so it takes time. It's not immediate like paid advertisement, but it's the best ROI, as far as digital marketing is concerned, or any kind of marketing.

14:20 S3: So, if you have time to invest and really execute SEO strategies and... Have SEO done right, it'll benefit your business and you'll see that in the long run. So, it's very important to utilize SEO.

14:34 S2: So we're getting close to wrapping up here, so I wanna ask you one kind of final question. So, if a business has a limited budget, what are a couple of things they should think about investing? And maybe give us an idea what they shouldn't invest in.

14:51 S3: Yeah, absolutely. So, one thing I always like to say is cheap SEO is not good, and good SEO is not cheap. You could find freelancers and companies out in India, for example, that will offer to do SEO-free business, or they'll buy you thousands, upon thousands of back links, which is an old SEO strategy that no longer works. And it's not gonna be good SEO and you're not gonna benefit from it. So, it's important to hire someone or hire an agency with that experience, with the background to be able to deliver and execute SEO strategies that are gonna work for your business. Here are some things that I would definitely recommend, one being content. Content is everything, so focusing on content, having your website built out and providing as much quality content to answer any kind of questions searchers may have is a great start. So that's number one. Number two, building relationships. Know your space, be able to go out and earn backlinks to your website, that's gonna be huge. It's not easily done either, so don't don't buy back links. There are services out there that they claim, to this day, that buy these high authoritative back links and your SEO will guarantee page one, and nobody should ever guarantee page one because you never know.

16:13 S3: And, last but not least, I would recommend not investing in social media. By that I mean management. Not the marketing side because ads do you prove to work, and, if it's done right, with the experience and a good budget, social media marketing is great. Social media management, I would stay away from, and do not invest in. I can't tell you how many times SEO was turned down for social media because business owners and the executives think social media is huge, there are so many followers. Our business needs to be in social media, which I agree with, and it could be collaborative with SEO and other kinds of strategies with digital marketing, but social media management and just posting things and not having a following and maybe gaining 10 to 20 likes per post, is not gonna get you business, is not gonna get you conversions. And I know, if I continue talking about this I'll go down a rabbit hole about social media. And I don't hate social media by any means, but I wanna stress the fact that SEO, with a good budget, with a good campaign, can deliver the results that you want and it's not immediate. And neither is social media management honestly, but business owners executives tend to go with social media management over SEO, and I'm here to tell you, do not invest in that.

17:26 S3: Social media marketing, totally different ball game, but if you have somebody straight out of college, straight out of high school, offering to do social media because they're on social media, and it's just not gonna work. So, do not invest in social media.

17:40 S2: Thank you Ralph for sharing with us the two things you'd recommend people invest in and the one thing that you recommend they not invest in. As we wrap the show, the one thing I ask our guest is to share with the listeners one thing they can do immediately after the show or first thing tomorrow, to learn more about what we've just talked about. So, what would you share?

18:02 S3: If I can leave you guys here today on this episode with one thing, it's that SEO is never done. So, it is a long-term strategy, long-term investment and SEO is never done. And there's this great article in Forbes by an author, Josh Steimle, he's very active in the digital marketing industry as well. And it's entitled: When Should I Start SEO For My New Website? So, it's a great article, I live by it. It came out a couple years ago, but I still use a lot of the analogies in there and there's tons of information online, but tune in for these podcast episodes.

18:37 S2: I appreciate you bringing up the articles. Yeah, we'll put those in the show notes. So Ralph, if anyone would like to get a hold of you to learn a little bit more, where can they find you?

18:46 S3: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm on LinkedIn. I do have an email address, it is ralphmmarino@gmail.com. I'm out there, you could find me by doing a Google search, Ralph Marino. But LinkedIn is the best way to connect with me, I have tons of connections on there. I am active in the SEO community. So, that's definitely the best way to get a hold of me.

19:04 S2: Alright, you heard him. So, if you wanna connect with him, go out to LinkedIn, type in Ralph Marino. Thank you, Ralph. I look forward to learning a lot more on our next episodes. Take care, man.

19:14 S3: Absolutely, thank you. Take care.

19:17 S1: Thanks for listening to today's Minds On B2B podcast. If you like what you heard today, please subscribe. Also, feel free to share this episode with your peers and colleagues, so we can keep bringing you quality content from the best minds in B2B. Until next time, from all of us at Minds On, have a great week.

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