The Latest in SEO with Local SEO Search Inc.’s John Vuong

November 12, 2020

Bring in leads.

John Vuong is the Owner of SEO Search and host of the podcast Local SEO Today.

SEO Search focuses on full-service offering content and PR for the last 7 years. They deal with the hyper competitive market and help companies maximize their SEO status. John believes understanding your customer base is the first step to attract more leads.

Learn more about SEO Search and much more on this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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[toggle title='Read the Transcript' state=‘closed’ icons=‘font awesome-plus/font awesome-minus’ margin_top=‘20’ margin_bottom=‘20’]

Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Stick around to the end of the show; we'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

In with us right now, we've got the owner of local SEO Search, Inc, on the web at Serving all North America, even though you're North north of the border. John Vaughan, thank you so much for joining us. Well, thank

you for having me. Josh, I'm excited to be on your show and insight excited to give some insights on SEO for your audience members.

Yeah, yeah. So you know, I love having a great SEO expert on from time to time just to try to keep tabs on what's working right now. And, you know, there's, I think, some tried and true principles, but then there's always the, you know, we're seeing a trend here, or we're seeing, you know, maybe there's new guidance, you know, given from on high from Google, right? Or they say, yeah, we're not really gonna, we're not going to really be value if you were doing this, yeah, we're not really going to be valuing that a whole lot anymore. It's important to know that sort of thing. And so I count on john, someone like yourself to keep tabs on the SEO world. So john, my first big question is what is working in SEO today?

I still stay true to myself in terms of like fundamentals, right? Right. Running a really solid business means and requires a lot more to just then just SEO right. So to give your customers understanding who what makes you unique, what your value prop was your service level, but also making sure your web presence is optimized to the full extent, not just your assets, such as your website, but other properties, such as social assets, media content, assets, as well as any other pieces that are third party reviews and testimonials as well. So anywhere that has your brand, anywhere that mentions you, you have to stay in front of what's going on, when someone's talking about oh, well you write because it's your reputation ultimately. So just staying abreast of what's going on is so hard to do today, because there's so much noise, there's so much going on. But I always say take care of your audience understand who they are, what, what medium they're consuming content at, from and then really delivering and positioning yourself as a leader an expert.

Right? Um, so I mean, that sounds fairly organic, like we're talking about, right? It sounds like it's a strategy that's truly designed for humans. Is that the case for AI and machines, the machines at Google.

So the machines at Google is trying to replicate what humans are doing, right. And that's what AI machine learning is all about. And the more human you you work on your business, the more likely Google will recognize that you're not trying to trick them in any way, right. And what they've been trying to do over the last, say, 10 plus years is remove anyone that's trying to hack the system, which means anyone that was keyword stuffing, for instance, or hiding any of the backlinks to certain referring domains, like stuffing things to really supersede yourself, and not really appear as genuine. Because you know how hard it is to run a business, you know, how long it takes to establish yourself in the industry. So if all of a sudden you start appearing within a couple months, or even within a couple years in a hyper competitive market, there's red flags, right? And what you try to do is make it as real and authentic and genuine as possible. So Google, recognize that you're doing whatever it takes to run a solid business.

And so what would you say? You know, obviously, you look at a lot of companies SEO presence. Is there just like a standard like, oh, Josh, like, like 95% of small businesses are absolutely failing with x, what what is x?

So there's a lot of key factors that a lot of people will Look, right? So I will always say, Take care of your customer base and understand who they are, right? And understand what is your ideal avatar looking like, because ultimately, if you don't know who you want to serve, and the SEO agency cannot help you attract more of that ideal customer of yours. So when we start a campaign, we really need to consult you, the business owner to find out where and who you want to attract more of what's that personality look like the persona, the avatar. And so we can create a campaign to attract more of that, and speak directly to them with content pieces, such as written audio, video, or images, right? Which assets should you really promote more often and more frequently at right, and then position yourself as an expert. So a lot of people forget about running a good business and really speaking to their users and understanding who they are. And they want to go after everyone, although that's not who their market is. Right. And their target audiences?

Yeah. So start

off with basics.

Yeah, for sure. So john, you know, situation that that we've encountered this year, you know, up until, you know, up through last year, and I'd say, even up until maybe January, February, we've largely been known as just kind of a media slash PR agency. It's just not what we do anymore. And so, you know, we've been kind of rebranding, changing the copy on our site, changing the copy on our SEO profile, I'm sorry, on our social media profiles, the content we share is kind of designed more around on building b2b sales systems. Yeah, you know, but yet, I'd say, you know, for the past five years, we have this presence. It's, you know, all about Josh can get you in the media. And I still hear it all the time. And, you know, so when people come through the front door, and like, Hey, I hear you do media, and we're like, well, up until this year, you know, and again, a lot of this is COVID related. Another one is, you know, really just opportunity, you know, we really just came across something. So what would you recommend for someone like us who's like, man, we need to kind of change how we come across on the web.

Yeah, pivoting is critical, right to this whole SEO world, like keyword research by Google already recognizes you, as a thought leader for trying to get that PR, you know, kind of thing. And for you to rebrand, or create different pages and assets within your site to offer different services, you're competing and unique, the completely different niche altogether, right? It might be even worth it to. But you already have some recognition in the right, right? For for you to start all over and rebrand, you're pretty much starting from square one, right? Now. So yes, it's gonna take some time. But fortunately, is you have five years of experience in your strength before this year, right? And it's gonna take some time for you and Google and everyone else to know you as an expert for something else, right. And it's gonna take you some time to even have some growing pains as well, because you just pivoting you don't really know your business yet, right, versus someone that's been doing it for five plus years, or 10 plus years. So just like anything, whenever you pivot or start a new business, you have to really uncover who your ideal customer is what you're all about, learn about the services that you want to offer, what is your competitive edge? What is making you unique versus someone else? Right? And then what's the value that you're bringing to the table? So it's a completely different presentation altogether, right. And for you to reword and rewrite your whole website, it's gonna take a lot of time and effort, right? Because you're redoing pretty much from ground up to where you want to go, right. So I would say Be patient, don't overthink it, but be nimble, right? Because pivoting is a part of business. And if you want to acquire more of that, like, tries on a micro level, don't pivot on a grand scheme. Start with several service pages and landing pages get traction, because people already know you for that main PR thing. You maybe keep that but that offer different services to elevate that piece, or reposition yourself, right? Because you don't want to take away from your strength over the last five years. You've been growing that piece. Mm hmm.

Right. That makes sense. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So john, in terms of like, like, for someone who like, you know, I'm a business owner. You know, I want my sales I want my website to be my number one salesperson, you know, I want to, you know, obviously, you know, attract inbound opportunities through content and you know, making sure our stuffs kind of dialed in. What what are your favorite tools out there your favorite resources that you recommend?

Yeah, so for us, for keyword research, we use keyword But we also have Google as a auto, you know, feel, there's always different keywords that you can go after. But also, it all depends on like, the services you're offering, right? And if you're looking at your main competitors, and there's a lot keyword, a lot of software to attack and uncover who your major competitors are. It's all about like, what are they doing, because you either mimic them, if they're thought leaders, get close to them, before you overtake them, or differentiate yourself completely, right, specialize and make yourself so unique that you will be known for that specific thing, right. And then, of course, there's the on page, technical stuff, we use sem rush for that. And then links, we use h Ras for that. There's different tools for certain aspects, right, like on page there Screaming Frog as well, that we use. And a lot of these tools are really just SEO focused. So as a business owner, you may not be comfortable understanding and doing a lot of this stuff, because you don't really know what needs to be done when you purchase a software like this. Right? versus a team that actually has a full team involved in content, SEO strategy, link building, to, you know, all the asset pieces, right development to graphic design. It's a lot different for an agency to look at it, versus you in the business looking at it. And then actually performing the action, right, someone in house doesn't have the skill set and SEO technical person might have. Yeah.

Can you explain the model for local SEO? Search your company, as opposed to, you know, I think maybe a lot of people are like, Okay, I need to be more serious about SEO, I'm going to go hire a bunch of freelancers, where we're where do you and the team come in.

So there's a big disconnect. There's a difference between in house freelancers, as well as one offs, right, everyone has to understand the power of SEO and what it can do for business in the first place. If you believe that there's a lot of different people out there searching for your your website, but you're not in front of them, you're not visible, you're not uncovering some opportunities, then there's a gap. And that has to be filled. There's different ways to get in front of those potential customers. You can do AdWords, Google AdWords, or social media ads and really pay to play. But majority of the people want to get inbound leads, which is someone seeking you out versus you're pushing ads at people big difference, right? And then once you understand and realize that that's how majority of the people are searching today, how do I appear? How do I become that thought leader, that authoritative figure, right? And then it's more about, okay, I get that I need SEO. Now, how do I go about finding a good person agency hire people in house? Because most people don't even know the questions to ask when they're looking to hire people. Right? What are important today. So that's what we've been doing with ally AB testing. Over the last seven years since I started this agency, I started not even knowing SEO. So I came from a different perspective, because I came from working at Yellow Pages, which was pretty much Google before Google existed. I worked there for five years working with thousands of business owners, and my VP of Sales work there for over 30 years. So what we bring to the table is working with over 10,000 local business owners understand what really matters for a business owner, which is return on investment, ultimately, more sales and revenue and top line profit. If that all checks the fields, and you're delivering on quality leads that are your ideal type of client. That's what we deliver. When I look at it as a business now, how do I feel all the different tasks for an SEO campaign to deliver on that promise to my clients? And that's what I've done on a more personal level because I uncovered a need. And now I just have to figure out so right now, we have a lot of pillars and a lot of departments within an agency. And that's why I only specialize in SEO because it's already so complex. It's not like AdWords, where you just create an ad campaign. Different messaging, put some ads ad spend behind it and see how it goes. Right? It's a little bit more definitely different with SEO, because you're owning real estate, you're positioning yourself as a thought leader.

Is, is SEO SEO comm can kind of strike me though, as an area where it can get a little heavily commoditized, you know, kind of to my earlier point, and so someone who comes to you like, Who's your ideal client? What does engagement typically look like? And how do you keep yourself fresh? You know, and again, I know you already kind of touched on that a little bit. But I just want to make sure that, you know, people know that all SEO is is not created equal.

Yeah, so we're full service agency, right, and we don't just focus on one pillar. So I forgot to mention. So we have seven pillars, like from content piece to technical to SEO strategy to link building, which is a completely different campaign altogether. But there's so many pillars within an SEO campaign that everyone needs to really focus on. So when you're hiring in house, what's the skill set behind it? What campaigns have they had success on? So reference check it? And then how competitive of a space is it really, that they're competing with because we deal with very competitive marketplace, like dentists, lawyers, service space, and really home trades, right, and they're hyper competitive. So if you're able to dominate that space, you can actually dominate a lot of different marketplaces, I like focusing on the local small, medium sized business space, because that's where I worked at Yellow Pages, and I got to meet real business owners that kind of remind myself that I am like them, right? So I want to help them up their game. So understand who you want to target, who you want, how to market it, and then differentiate yourself. So I don't feel like I'm your average SEO agency, because I actually care. actually look at it, like I'm a partner to their agents, their business, and I'm working with them to for the same goals, right. And I'm like an in house team, versus an in house person that's only good at content writing, or social media posts, right? Like I have a whole team that I built that really helps to elevate you and position you as a bigger company. Right, if that makes sense?

Yeah, for sure. So, I mean, obviously, you've got a very successful agency, you've done a lot of business. And so the we're, I guess we're, we're your ideal clients, and sounds like you do a lot of really great like local work. How do they find you? And how do you find them?

Yeah, so we typically go, we get all inbound leads, right? We're positioned? Well, yeah. And there's a different type of client that clicks on you versus ads, right. So there's inbound organic leads versus ads, and ads, you have to understand the journey that business owners go through, right? So if their top line information gathering versus close to that transaction, right. And I try to educate as much as possible inform them. So for us, a lot of people find us, they already have SEO in mind, and they're just ready to decide between two or three vendors. Right. So it's just price. And if it's a good fit, versus you have to really educate them early stages to a point where they're frustrated with different vendors, or they've tried different ad campaigns or trade shows, magazines, different types of advertising. And now they're just trying SEO. So you have to understand who your customers are and where they play, right, because I I've seen it all, now that I've been doing it for seven years, and I kind of have a profile of who I want to go after.

Excellent. Um, john, I see on your site right now that you offer a free website audit. Can you explain that a little bit?

Yeah, so typically, a lot of business owners are in this SEO stay. At agency space, they offer something up for free, right, it's more of like to gather some insight from that prospect, or email or whatnot. For us, it's all about understanding where you are and how we can help you or serve you, and see if it's actually a good fit or not. So we asked you to put in your website, some of your keywords or your competitors. And we'll reach out to you for initial phone conversation, to really uncover what you're after an SEO campaign and what kind of things that you expect, because a lot of people have unrealistic expectations, because they've read or seen, or they got an offer for something that's very low, and they think it's going to be a savior for all right. So I just really want to educate people on it. What really goes on behind the scenes? and let them know like, it is a long process is a long relationship. But if done right, it should be a really good source of lead gen for your business. Yeah,

yeah, I totally agree. All right, local SEO JOHN, anything else that people should look for?

Really, it's all about like connecting with the right agency or company or just doing good, right? Like, as a business owner, we all want to take care of our customers, right? Listen to them, pivot with them, right. Like, over the course of the last couple months during this pandemic, it's all about like, how can I help them more because they are struggling? Right? A lot of these small medium sized businesses don't really understand this whole digital landscape. So how do you pivot to attract more people who are spending more time in front of a computer to at least be front and center, right? So take care of your audience members understand what's going on, and really talk to them, right, like get to know them on a personal level, so you can actually help them but if you don't really talk to them, you don't really know what's going on and how you can help them. So I'm really real with that. Like I make it a personal orders for me in the company and my all my sales reps to really get to know my clients, because if you don't know them, how can you help them?

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. John Vaughn. Again, your website, gone again, john, thank you so much for joining. I really, really appreciate all this.

Thank you so much, Josh, for having me.

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