Marcus Miller is the Internet Marketing and SEO strategy at Bowler Hat. Bowler Hat is a digital marketing agency based in Birmingham, UK, servicing clients around the world. They help small businesses make a big impact with expert Web Design, SEO&PPC
- 00:00 Start
- 00:13 Introduction
- 00:39 Marcus Miller about his career and starting Bowler Hat
- 04:57 How to work with your sibling
- 06:00 Cooperation with small vs. large businesses
- 09.55 Sad truth about the SEO industry
- 10:50 About making search algorithms understandable and common sense in SEO
- 12:10 Marcus Miller tells more about himself: family, sport, games, etc.
- 16:08 Impact of the pandemic on our lifestyle and getting used to it
- 16:45 Why is the company called Bowler Hat
- 18:15 Changes in Bowler Hat and market environment over the last 20 years
- 21:30 About guiding customers and offering them simplicity
- 22:52 Most challenging requests of customers
- 27:20 About missing work from the office
- 30:04 Most recent projects Bowler Hat is working on SEO
- 34:00 To do well in the SEO industry, you must be interested in customer’s business
- 36:02 SEO SWOT analysis in 2021
- 38:27 Ranking factors of local SEO: How it works
- 42:55 SEO Audit process at Bowler Hat and the tools they use
- 46:51 ZMOT as a part of a new marketing model
- 51:52 About response to reviews and customers being always right
- 53:24 It’s important for a business to incentivize reviews and provide quality services
- 56:14 How to make a website that is easy to navigate and effective for SEO
- 59:05 Similarities between hiring a plasterer and creating a customer value
- 01:01:40 What customers Marcus wants/doesn’t want to work with
- 01:02:31 Use SEO and marketing that helps to attract the right customers
- 01:04:00 Pandemic accelerates the transition to online
- 01:05:40 Global SEO tendencies (strategy) and differences across countries
- 01:08:02 SEO and Marketing trends that will remain in the upcoming years
- 01:13:29 Final words
Tips and best SEO strategy
In the interview about his career path, Bowler Hat, and the SEO market, Marcus Miller shares the following tips:
- Try to make SEO understandable and use common sense in your strategies
- Out of 100 things you can do offer customers 2 or 3 things that can really make a difference and only then scale
- To do well in the SEO industry and enjoy it, you must take interest in customer’s business
- Apply SWOT analysis in SEO to better analyze your projects and market competition
- Always incentivize positive reviews because if you don’t, you will end up having only negative feedback
- To design a website that is easy to navigate, understand what information customers need to make a decision
- Work with the people you know you can help and use marketing to attract the right people
SEO strategy – Interview with Marcus Miller
Sophia: Okay, so calm, guys. Today we have
Marcus: Miller, the Internet Marketing and SEO Consultant at Bowler Hat, and Bowler Hat is a digital marketing agency based in Birmingham. They serve clients worldwide, and they help small businesses make a significant impact with expert Web Design sales. Today
Marcus Miller about his career and starting Bowler Hat
Marcus: will tell us a lot more about what he makes and what his company does for the world. So
Marcus:, how did you find yourself working for Bowler Hat?
Marcus: I set it up into this kind of digital marketing job or industry sort of. In addition, years ago, I got a computer science degree. I was thinking of the career of a software developer or a programmer. I started work for a new small e-commerce company called a mobile phone. My job there was to help them to build their websites and their order processing systems. They sold old ringtones for the phones where you used to be able to download the ringtone. I worked as a developer pretty much, but it was before Shopify, WordPress, or any of these off-the-shelf systems. So everything was kind of hand-coded, but after a year or so, when we built these platforms, we started to think about getting more customers and getting more traffic. These are the early days of Google. I worked there before google ads even launching. I remember the day the Google Ads launched. So, therefore, I kind of fell down the SEO rabbit hole then started to look at ways to generate more traffic. It was quite an exciting period because we can find whatever we want until we have so-called black hat SEO factors. You could do many crazy things that would get great results, but there were still a few kinds of people flying the sort of white hat banner and saying if you try to manipulate search rankings, eventually you will come unstuck. I think I was still there when the first significant kind of punitive SEO update, the Florida update, happened, and many people just disappeared overnight; you know, they built businesses on organic traffic and employed lots of stuff. Nevertheless, suddenly, they lost all of their traffic, lost all their business, and lost their leads. I think that kind of exposure to this early kind of more punitive kind of search engine algorithm kind of sort made me believe that it’s not ethical to sell SEO but to be doing things is something against Google’s terms and conditions. So it’s kind of approach, kind of SEO, and digital marketing strategy from then onwards. After working for various other companies in the UK doing some degree of development, some sort of technical SEO, stuff building, and sites, they were well accessible for search engines. After maybe about years working around, I just got an offer I really could not refuse. Someone was going to pay me just for doing some consulting. It was probably more than I was earning as a salary, and it was only going to take a couple of days, a week. So I just jumped at that point. It was just me for the first two or three years, just doing SEO consulting, and then I employed my sister to help. Be sure I didn’t miss meetings or schedules, there could be three meetings simultaneously, and I didn’t go to any of them. We just focused on trying to help smaller businesses within every business deserve excellent SEO or digital marketing strategy or even just advice. We are very much focused on helping the smaller guys. I find that more satisfying though I’ve consulted for banks and major brands and some of the biggest companies in the UK. I think now gratifying that I see is that kind of underdog marketing, trying to help the small guys do well.
How to work with your sibling
Sophia: Okay, well, just a question. You said that you decided to take your sister for your job. You had to be good siblings before because it’s tough to work with your relatives. How did you manage to enjoy the working process?
Marcus: It was okay for years. Unfortunately, we did fall out. My brother still works for me now. It’s the kind of family that is still involved in the business. Maybe one day he’ll come back as well. It is tough to work with a sibling; it’s additional friction or potential conflict.
Sophia: Maybe it’s also a little hard to trust because you remember many strange points from your childhood.
Marcus: I was the biggest as well and the oldest. Sometimes I pushed them around a little, maybe; maybe there are some simmering resentments when we were younger.
Cooperation with small vs. large businesses
Sophia: It’s also interesting that you decided to emphasize Muslim small businesses. You also say that you have experience with working with large companies. Maybe you could share some insights on this gap or difference between working with a small business and a big business in communication and personal relationships.
Marcus: When you work with a more significant business, more stakeholders aren’t known as more people have a say. If you go back in time, years or so, organic search was still the Wild West; massive winds were to be made for people who were willing to do businesses, which were willing to invest. So there was probably more of an education piece needed on our part, and to help, it was more consultative than doing all the work. I was advising people what the opportunities are, where the gaps are, where they can start, how they can build a long-term search strategy. I mean, we’ve done all sorts of banks where they’ll have hundreds of pages of this practice the same thing, it’s a bad user experience, and these pages are indexed. We worked once with firm solicitors where there were partners, and every partner had to sign off on every decision. They paid nothing for several months because they could never agree on what they needed to do. Working with a smaller company, you know that the goals are narrower. You know clearly what they want to achieve. They just need to have good advice and see that it delivers results, and it gives them a return on their marketing strategy budget. We’re pretty honest in that respect. At least we try to be. The majority of people will come to us and will say that they want SEO. This is what I do and where I do it. But we’ll probably take a look, and if we don’t think that’s feasible, we won’t take them on for that, or we’ll advise something else. We’ll always try and recommend what we believe; we will give them the best return on their investment. The classic example. Some people need leads. They come to us asking for SEO; they’re nowhere. We know that it could take three, six, nine months if you need leaders if it’s viable to get you to traffic from searching for what you do. Let’s do some paid search, let’s get that profitable, and bring you some kind of leads through the door today, tomorrow, next week. Then once you started to realize we’ve made that profitable. Let’s begin to reinvest some of that money in organic search as well. I believe in a holistic approach to searching encapsulates, organic and local, paid, and under the tactics. However, you always have to be mindful of people’s objectives. Do they need to work quickly and typically with small people? The answer is yes. Today every job is a little different, but we try to work with smaller companies; we try to work in traditional business categories because estate agents, accountants trade people. After all, we have experience. We can predict pretty quickly what’ll work, and of course, there are economies of scale as well if we work with dentists for dentists; we already know what an excellent pay-per-click campaign looks like for a dentist, we already know what organic search work we need to do. So we have an economy of scale within the industries that we serve; we can offer a proven high-quality service at a reasonable price, which is what these small businesses need. They need results, and they need not pay a fortune for it.
Sad truth about the SEO industry
Marcus: It’s the sad truth. I think mainly about the SEO industry, and this is probably as truth. Now, like it was 20 years ago, offering services breaks Google’s terms and conditions, or doesn’t work at all, or isn’t driven by any kind of steep strategy or understanding of how search engines work. Everything is built around the tactic of building low-cost links. We try to wrap everything up to bring broader marketing smarts to the table; we want to make sure that you’re saying the right things, that you’ve got a USP, that you know we understand what your competitors look like. We want to get you to know in the right place at the right time to convert those people to customers.
About making search algorithms understandable and common sense in SEO
Sophia: Okay, that’s inspiring because I don’t know why, but I recollected the blog you have on the Bowler Hat and the information you put there. When I was reading that information, I felt such a considerable trust, as if the person who was writing this was just talking to me. So I think that if I need to fix my sale, I can simply go to Blower Hat, and I will not get advice about some search engine algorithm factors people talk about.
Marcus: We get the emails as well from people trying to use self-SEO in these kinds of ridiculous ways or over complicating it. We do try to make it understandable. I think that most good search strategies, despite technical elements to them, are built on a foundation of common sense. If you can’t explain to someone what you’re doing and why you’re, it’s a problem. There’s a lot of people that know what they need to do better on a search engine. They have a search engine optimization company. I don’t see what happens. It’s kind of back-office stuff, so we try not to work like that; we try to have more. It’s very marketing-led.
Marcus Miller tells more about himself: family, sport, games, etc.
Sophia: Okay, well, I believe that before we jump into this expertise and professional topic, I won’t get just our listeners to learn more about you as a person, as a personality. What do you do in your free time? How has your lifestyle changed because of the pandemic? Who are you in terms of like person?
Marcus: Firstly, I have a family. I have a wife and three children, a daughter whose birthday will be tomorrow actually, my son; I’m another son of nine. So I’m kind of a family guy. I’m into exercising, weightlifting, mountain biking, and just generally keeping a sort of fit and healthy. I play video games, watch films. Likewise, I’m a big dungeon dragons geek as well. I played Dungeons and Dragons online with my friends most week, a kind of playing Dungeons and Dragons. I always wanted to be the dungeon master to run the game. So when lockdown happened and when the pandemic dropped, I thought that instead of obsessively following the news about the pandemic, I was just going to teach myself how to run a dungeon of dragons game. I play with three friends. One of them is pretty local to me; the other is in Manchester, another city a few hours from where we are. The third friend is in Switzerland. We are university friends. It’s nice to gather every week. I’ve got a dark walk, the dog nothing too radical or exciting. I mean, it’s hard to remember because none of us have done anything for a year. We’ve just been at home. Not a lot has changed. I like board games as well. My eldest daughter’s a big trivia fan because she can’t see her friends on a birthday tomorrow and have some kind of like a trivia quiz. We have buzzers. Unfortunately, I’m dreadful at trivia because I have deep specialized knowledge of search engine marketing (SEO) strategy but terrible general knowledge. My daughter’s general knowledge is spectacular. It’s a foregone conclusion that she wins, but it is a birthday. It seems only fair.
Sophia: Of course, it’s fair. I remember I was celebrating my birthday, and we were playing Frisbee. We’re playing Frisbee with the ultimate Frisbee. That was a competition, a huge competition, another team where my host father was, and the team captain. After this game, like in a couple of months, he told me that we were supposed to lose but because I was the one who had a birthday, he decided to make me win, and it was fair. When I heard this news, I was so upset because I was so sure that I won. Well, that’s cool about the games. I never played, maybe in my childhood. I used to play games but right now, no. But the enthusiasm with which you tell about games inspires me to play some fun too.
Marcus: There’s a great board game. Suppose you want to dive into a so-called pandemic that is very topically relevant now. It’s a fun game where it makes you and whoever else. You play with versus the board trying to beat the pandemics. It’s not combative as such as you know, you’re all working together to try. I like board games. It’s just an excuse to sit around down, around the table, have some drinks, have some food. It just gives you some direction.
Impact of the pandemic on our lifestyle and getting used to it
Sophia: That’s interesting also to see how in the beginning, we would be getting our habits on, how to live this pandemic, and now these habits just became our routine.
Marcus: We are all institutionalized. We’re not going to know what to do when in one of two ways; everyone will just go crazy for a few weeks when all the restrictions end. We’ll all stick with our new hobbies and just do nothing.
Why is the company called Bowler Hat
Sophia: Right, right, okay, cool. We know a little about you as a person; thank you so much for sharing—bowler Hat. By the way, I just want to share what I think about when I hear a Bowler Hat. Have you read “The little prince”?
Marcus: Yeah, I know. In the title of this book, there is a picture where he draws the hat. But that was not a hat; that was a snake who had the elephant. That’s why I always think about a little prince when I hear Bowler Hat.
Marcus:, if you had to compare the background of the name, where did it come from?
Marcus: As I said, I was a software developer. When I graduated from the university, I was a big fan of Linux, the Linux operating system, which understands many internets. My favorite distribution for Linux at that time was red hat Linux, and I wanted to have my own company. I liked the idea. There are many hats in software development and SEO, white hats, black hats, etc. It’s good to have a hat. The Bowler Hat is like a classic British symbol, like the gentleman and the businessman as well. I was looking super into red hat Linux like it fits me. We have had people that turn up at our office trying to buy Bowler Hats. I don’t know how good it was in retrospect, but I think it’s at least relatively memorable.
Changes in Bowler Hat and market environment over the last 20 years
Sophia: That is a lovely story of how we develop some ideas to name our favorite things. What has changed in your business? If you remember yourself when you were starting it until now?
Marcus: Just the environment has changed. It’s just a lot more complicated now than it was before. If to go back years, there were no social media, there was no social media platform, so you know, while a search was, and even organic search initially was the only game in town. When a paid search came along, but now it’s just a much more complicated environment, even on a search engine. There are so many options, local or text ads, or shopping ads, or business-specific ads. You’ve got Myriad Social Media platforms with many ways to advertise, much more established platforms like Amazon, where there are CPC models. I think what’s changed the most is the environment or the digital environment, or the digital marketing environment that has become much more complicated. It’s one of the things that we try to do. This kind of tactical piece is where someone will come to us and say I want to do x, and we’ll try, have a look, and determine. If we think that’s the right thing for their goals, we, and instead you see most people don’t come to us with a specific objective, I want more leads, or I want to sell more of this product and not this product, they come to us saying I want SEO or I want Google Ads. We always try and roll that back a little look at what the actual objective is and then try, and give them some input on what we think the best way to achieve that objective, what is another way, we try and distinguish ourselves from the Myriad street level kind of SEO. Companies that will just turn you up want SEO; you’ve got pounds a month a thousand months, whatever it may be. They’ll take that money, and when it doesn’t work six months down the road, it’s your job to tell them that this isn’t working whereas. We won’t engage in something if we don’t believe that there’s a good chance of success in a reasonable time frame. We try to provide the major. Change is just the more complicated environment’s way. I mean, it’s difficult for me, and I’ve been doing it for two years, so for your average small business owner.
About guiding customers and offering them simplicity
Sophia: I think it’s just interesting because they say that the best things should be simple like everything. Why is it getting more complicated in terms of digital marketing strategy?
Marcus: The variety and the different platforms. I think the best approaches are pretty simple. First, there was the Pareto principle. The world will get you eighty percent of the results. Now the problem is that most people don’t know where to start. Probably every day or every other day, I have the conversation, oh, We’ve done Google Ads before, it didn’t work for us. That’s because you probably haven’t done it correctly. It’s a rough answer, but it’s probably true. I’ve lost track of what the question was. What’s the most complicated?
Sophia: Yes. It’s getting so complicated variety of everything is changing.
Marcus: We try to simplify it to people; we try to say okay out of all of these hundred things you could do. Here’s the two or three that we think will, you know, that’ll deliver for you, and, let’s focus our efforts there, let’s keep it tight and get this working. Then we can kind of scale it up and look further ahead. So we try and provide that kind of lifetime, the experience of what’s out there, and give people start to point people in the right direction. It’s just so easy to spend a fortune not to get any results, even if you’ve picked the right platform, but not word it up properly because just all the media are just getting more and more complicated all the time. There are two sides today, and they’re obviously in that IO components of the platforms are probably getting better. Still, at the same time, the complexity of the environment is getting harder, and the competition’s more robust. So it’s still essential to get everything right.
Most challenging requests of customers
Sophia: And with this horse is getting even more complicated to live. It’s hard to leave itself sometimes because you don’t know what direction to choose, and now it’s difficult in this sphere. If we already start speaking about the customers. I feel that you give lots of attention to your customers, and you hear what they say. Maybe you can share some of the most challenging tasks or the most challenging situations you had with your customers. When they would tell you, we want this, and you would have to deliver the result.
Marcus: I think some of the most challenging situations have been over the last months where you know we’re working with companies successfully. Suddenly, their entire business model isn’t valid almost overnight because of the pandemic and the lockdown. What’s a good example? Okay. We work with an events company. They do significant corporate events. People are getting together to do the iPad treasure hunts, and that’s a business probably, where it’s hyper profitable in sort of three or four months of the year in the summer. Then probably does okay in spring and autumn but nothing in winter. Their entire season wiped out a business with many stuff and a model that can’t be used anymore. It needs to be put on the shelf for three, six months, new night months. They would be coming into their kind of peak time. What we had to do there was to help them not only to develop or come up with ideas for new products or things that were viable within the kind of the COVID-19 environment but to reposition their entire brand and to rework all of their SEO marketing strategy. We do this, but we also do this again. It’s like it comes back to the ethical piece. These are real people with real families and real jobs. There are always people behind the business. You know we need to save, we need to keep these jobs, we need to save this business. I’m too soft to be in business. I haven’t got the right killer instincts that I probably need. We had quite a lot of that year. We’ve worked with people for a long time or people who’ve come to us, and they need to change their model or adapt basically but to adjust superfast and across all of their SEO marketing strategy. There were some mega challenges. It was an exciting year—for instance, the situation with this event company. Now we have another offer. What will be when they come out of this and their other products come back on board. Now they have a virtual offering that means now they can serve the world rather than just the UK, where they were operating. However, there’s some pain that we’ve had to overcome and bite. They will have a better and stronger business on the other side of it, and they haven’t had to lose those jobs. That’s quite satisfying, I guess, from a professional opinion, and again where I like to help the smaller guys more than, the bigger guys. A small company can just turn 100 degrees overnight in comparison if you have a large company. We’ve partners; they can’t make their mind off the bag, what color they want to have their logo, let alone any kind of substantial significant shifts in their business model. It was a challenge for a lot of people. It’s been challenging to be in business. We’re digital. In theory, we can all work from home certainly. The creative elements of what we do work better when everybody is in the room. That brainstorm in the morning about a specific job, that we walk out there with some rough ideas, and then four hours later someone’s like got it. And then there is a conversation that sparks from that. Some of those elements are lost during working from home. Hopefully, we’ll be back in some capacity.
About missing work from the office
Sophia: Yeah, you’re missing the work from the office?
Marcus: A little because, as I said, I’ve got a family. I spend a lot of time with my kids and my wife Etcetera, and my own extended family. The office provides a bit of that. We’ll go to the pub after work or wherever. It may be the kind of my socializing. I’m missing it to some extent. It’s not easy working from home as well; it’s just too many distractions. I’ve got a PlayStation downstairs. I’m always too close to the things that I’d rather be doing. Maybe that’s too honest, but that’s true.
Sophia: Just sorry for interrupting. Because of the house where I live, we have a separate place for sleeping, living, and a detached house, where we eat, and that’s why it helped me not to gain that much weight during this pandemic. If I want to eat, I have to go to the kitchen, like crossing the yard and think if I want to go to that kitchen. And I just say no, I don’t because I’m too lazy. That’s why it’s excellent to have these two separate houses, but if you don’t miss office and communicate with people, and other stuff like being social. That affects a lot.
Marcus: You have to go away from your home, so you can appreciate coming back to your home on a Friday night or whatever. We’ve had some stressful times here. My daughter couldn’t do a GCSE because of the pandemic. That was kind of handled, kind of badly by the UK government. So it was a stressful year. I have to be very grateful because our business is okay, and we’ve carried on, we won’t lose new jobs, we’re in a better industry than many others, and obviously, we know where to be based in Birmingham. It’s like a creative area, and there are lots of pubs and bars and clubs. All of them have been shut for a year to all intents and purposes, so it’s a tough time for lots of these businesses with no real kind of clarity when they’ll be able to be opened. It’s at the end of June now in the UK. It’s a challenging year for many people, but many people are more demanding than certainly.
Sophia: That’s so exciting that you, as a company you not only manage to survive, but you also manage to help others to rework their branch, to do so much stuff for them, to be still alive, helping yourself, and then helping others.
Most recent projects Bowler Hat is working on
Sophia: What’s the recent project you are working on right now? Maybe there is any particular project in the Bowler Hat?
Marcus: We have one big project. We’re trying to redo our site. We’ve got a load of different products on, again we work with lots of traditional business categories. It’s not exciting, but there is people’s kind of livelihoods. We’ve just proposed three prominent colleges which we maybe will start soon. That sounds like a pretty exciting job helping them to recruit people for September. That’s relatively difficult anyway because it’s more onto these different social platforms where kind of college, age, kids, we will be hanging out, but there’s this whole messaging place. If colleges are opened in September, people will have more objections or hesitations than they usually have. We’ve got to design the flow of communication there and how we get in front of people, educate them, and make them feel safe. The colleges will be opened in September, and it won’t be the absolute debacle that education has been for the last months. That’s quite an interesting one in the pipeline we’re also looking at. We have just proposed a major fashion brand to help our brand agency partner with some SEO pieces. These aren’t the smaller jobs. I’ve just quoted a company that likes charm bracelets, but they sell them internationally. They’ve got some quite exciting brands like Comics and Hello Kitty, and things like that as well. It’s a real mix. I try to ensure that most of our work is in the industries we worked in before because I know that we can make such high-performance cheap products there because we have many experiences in these industries. But also anything significant and exciting if not that’s
To do well in the SEO industry, you must be interested in customer’s business
Sophia: If that’s not a game, then it’s not that interesting.
Marcus: Well, sometimes you just need a bit of variety. Don’t you know how to keep it exciting or some of these companies? They have these kinds of almost tactical challenges in that they just don’t know what’s the best platform for what they do, and then it comes back to what I said earlier. They may have trialed a specific forum, but they didn’t do it right, and then based on that trial, they broke that platform off. That’s also not necessarily. We’ve got to go back and analyze everything and figure out what’s right, and often particularly something like the college. There’s a big SEO piece we need to make because it naturally provides the granularity we’re looking for. So if somebody searches for an accountancy level, they’re going to see that right page. This means that we know what interests this person. We need to control the type of nurturing process after that and conversion, bid optimization, analytics, and whatever it may be, but that’s the kind of approach I’m likely to spend more time on personally. I spend a lot of time working with a company like industrial gas sensors for all different kinds of gases or kerosene. You know things that kind of could explode, and personal gas sensors that people clip onto them, and big ones you put in a factory, and they probably deal with sensors for 100 of different chemicals. The keyword research, I think, is to do well in this industry or to enjoy it. You have to be interested in other people’s businesses and even these really kind of dense objects sometimes like chemical sensors. But when you sort of dig in, it’s often quite interesting. That’s what kind of keeps the job, kind of varied, fresh, I think. While you’re around the bend, or you’ll sort of think chemicals are attractive, let’s talk about chemicals.
Sophia: That’s cool because people look like they lack motivation to work because they do all the same from day to day, and in your case, with the base of knowledge you have, you have to implicate that in different spheres. So every time you find something new. I believe your kids constantly ask you to help them at school because now you know everything a little bit from different spheres. So it’s cool when you learn the same as a lot but in small quantities about everything. That’s kind of the same so that they might ask for advice from you.
Marcus: Yeah, I’m teaching my nine-year-old how to program. When we programmed, we broke into a bit of game using scratch, and some of these things are kind of simple online tools. My older son is quite into computers, and I’d say and everything as well. He’s learning python and some of these other technical pieces. I ask them to help me when we set up a new mesh internet system at home. We are a big kind of video gaming family as well. They’re into anything. That means they can have a slightly faster internet connection on the Xbox; I’ll get their attention on that. My nine-year-old is doing equivalent fractions at the moment downstairs. My wife does the English side of things, and I do the math. I’ve done that. I’m a Math teacher for half an hour.
SEO SWOT analysis in 2021
Sophia: I was researching on your LinkedIn page, and I found some articles from some years. One article about the service that I consider everything that you put in there is an analysis. Do you believe it’s still relevant right now?
Marcus: This again loops back to what I was talking about earlier. In that, (SEO) digital marketing strategy has come along, and it’s kind of this new thing, but marketing itself has been around for hundreds of years. There are many time-proven marketing tools like swot analysis or USPS or whatever it may be. We like to try and take these time-proven tools and apply them to the modern digital landscape. A hundred percent what analysis is valuable, so it’s strengths weaknesses opportunities, threats for any business to look at a search engine and think about what can we do. Let’s strike at the weaknesses of our enemies, let’s see where we’re weak and try, and kind of bolster things up a little. If you’ve got a competitor, and they have 50 great reviews, and you have three bad reviews, well, there’s a weakness and an opportunity. You need to improve your thoughts, so just doing this on like simple. I’m a big fan of not overcomplicating this, just putting this onto a sheet of looking at your strengths, doing it for your competitors as well. You can do this long before you can make a list of laundry and things to improve. Let’s see the situation if you have no reviews and your competitor has no reviews. Then if you get reviews, you’ve got a competitive advantage, and that shifts all the time, but not any traditional marketing kind of tools like SWOT analysis or even strategic frameworks like Sauce Attack.
Ranking factors of local SEO: How it works
Sophia: I’m a big fan of sweat analysis too. I remember I heard about that at school. Until now, it’s so helpful, and you can use that in any sphere, even while cooking. So everything is about understanding what your weaknesses and strengths are. Well, another question would be about the local sale. What would be the ranking factors for local search? There’s something new for me, so maybe you could develop this idea more.
Marcus: For local sale, okay. Local SEO typically is for local businesses. If we went back in time a little ten plus years ago, you know a plumber if you need one local. I live somewhere called Sun Coalfield, which is on the edge of Birmingham. I’d search for plumber Sutton confident. I’m telling Google what I’m interested in, and Google’s then showing me local results that take the physical address that you’re showing interest in, and they mold the products around that address. Now, as time is gone on, Google has more information to play with. Now I can just go to my computer or my phone and search for a plumber. I don’t have to put in what I’m looking for, and I don’t have to tell them where I am because, in most cases, they already know. Those results that you receive are then primarily focused around two key ranking factors, such as your location and the location that you’re kind of searching about or where you generally are. I mean, again, there are tips for this in Google Ads if you look at location targeting Google Ads. You can target people who search about people’s place, who are in an area, or both, even if you look at the bottom of your web browser. I’m on a desktop computer now, but it will show me there’ll be one ad at the top if I search for a plumber. Then, three of these local results are driven primarily by physical location searches location I’m searching. There’s an employed location of a particular cold field where I physically know at the bottom of the page. It tells me my postcode and where I am, and from my location history. So even though I’m on my computer, it’s pulling my location history from my Google account on my Google phone. Using all of this information, it knows about me to show me the results that it feels are most relevant for what I’m looking for and locationally appropriate. Two main factors of Local SEO are the physical location if you are in that location that somebody is searching about and if you serve that location and the search engine will show the business. They use many factors. There are a few types of factors, such as the location piece and the relevance piece. I have to make sure if this page that I’m seeing gives the information that I am a plumber in Sutton Goldfield, and I provide boiler repair, radiator repair, or whatever it may be. Then you’ve got the kind of authority and trust place. How does Google then stack the deck? They’ll have this primary ranking factor of location; then they’ll have this piece about relevance; it has to match. Then they’ve got to decide still because there may be many people very close to each other who’s more trusted out of those, and that’s where things like link building or authority building, or digital pr or the technical. How well is your site put together? Is that site good if you want a mobile device? Does it render well? Is it easy to get in touch with people there? Do you have industry accreditations? Does that show your kind of expertise? Have you been mentioned in the local press? Specific factors vary around each business and keyword and location, but primarily about relevance and location.
Audit process at Bowler Hat and the tools they use
Sophia: When you were saying that, I felt like you were coding. If we go this way, what’s going to be the next step? We go this way; it’s going to be the next tab. That’s cool. It’s all about building this algorithm of actions.
Marcus: We have an audit process that we use. The local ones are about things that we look at. We go down; it’s almost just like it’s a procedural kind of checklist. What was I commenting on, and from we use the output to build our plan? We work with the way we tend to work; we do auditing to know where we are. That’s situation analysis, and that’s the client’s objectives. Okay, you’re in London, but you want to show in a local search for Birmingham. You don’t have an address there. That’s not going to happen, so you may as well just care about that straight away. So we have to, I suppose, before that feasibility analysis. Then we do this situation analysis based on, and we look at the output of the situation analysis based on their objectives and make sure everything is feasible. But then, when we’ve done that, we’ll come up with a strategic goal over three months. Then we’ll measure our progress towards that goal, we’ll review everything again, and then we’ll measure things and come up with these. So we have this kind of road map over three months, and we use a project management tool called Asana. Within Asana, we have some project templates that we’ve built for setting up a pay-per-click account or whatever it may be, or doing local SEO, or doing local SEO for a specific industry. So we’ve got these projects we can pull in kind of boom there you go, but then obviously, we take the audit results as well. We mention what this customer needs, and again it comes back to the swot analysis. Maybe their website sucks, and that’s the problem; perhaps they just have loads of traffic, but it doesn’t convert, or it doesn’t show well on mobile, or there are technical issues in the analytics the sites aren’t working. I was just talking to a company last night. Their main website has disappeared from Google. It seems to be just well from the brief look. I’ve had over it so far that, for some reason, their site’s thrown out of 403 forbidden error messages. It’s almost like a part of the site hidden from an authenticated part of the site, but it looks like an error with hosting. We’ve got to do a little more digging to find out why, but your sense of Google’s calling your site, and you’re saying nope, you can’t see. Their entire site has dropped out of search. People are searching for them now and can’t find them. You’ve got competitors running ads with their brand name as they’re not in the ad, but they’re bidding on it. It’s always varied.
Sophia: Quite challenging or every time there’s something, and no
Marcus: Well, yes. I mean, I diagnosed that in five minutes because it’s just one of the usual suspect-type problems. I just did it while we were on the phone. Now we’ve got to do a little more digging and find out exactly what and why that problem, or what caused that symptom, but we certainly know what the sign was and how to fix it. We just understood why the website generates some security plug-in, playing up, or something or why hosting has got some kind of technical issues. There’s only a handful of things that it could be. Hopefully, we’ll fix that tonight.
Sophia: I like when professionals say that it wasn’t challenging, that it was nothing unusual, it just was a random thing. We just did it
Marcus: We have a hard-earned painful experience. You can measure these things up pretty well generally.
ZMOT as a part of a new marketing model
Sophia: Okay, well, cool. So now we covered the analysis, local sale, and now another article that you wrote. That was so interesting for me to know about the SWOT analysis; I would pronounce smart remote. How would you do? Can you share more about that, and it’s a part of this new SEO marketing strategy model? What does it work, how does it work?
Marcus: That’s been around for a while as a marketing concept, but the zero moments of truth is Google’s kind of spin on that they’ve probably done. I think I’ve written it is going back four or five years to the article, but I think I wrote an article that’s kind of treatment of that about SEO, the concept, or even a moment of truth. There are different touchpoints that someone has where you run and how they all have to work together, and now that could be over loops back. Doesn’t it what we talked about earlier that it could be where they first come across you? Is it a paid search? Is it a display advert, is it a social media post, is it a social media ad, all of these parts, or is it like an informational blog post? You know all of these different parts; they all contribute to how someone perceives your business. It’s more critical like again; imagine a plumber. Okay. Let’s say I know someone you’re considering having to come and look at your house, and you Google, and you see their ads, and he says he will do it fast, and they’ve got five-star reviews. Some kind of review site one of the major review sites. Anything okay sounds excellent. I like this customer. I’ve gone through their website, I’ve looked at some of their products and this builder. Not only that, but I think, okay, I’m ready to use these guys. You think, well, it’s a big project; I’ll just do a little more research. You go and check them out on Facebook, and then there are angry customers on Facebook, giving them a hard time saying why you haven’t turned up today. So you’ve gone from this one perspective of that business to another view of that business. I think the moment of truth concept is just about each of these potential interactions is a moment of truth, where someone will learn something more about how you manage your business. Businesses that are more complicated need to ensure that wherever they’re visible, wherever anybody could find that they’re controlling and monitoring their brand online, and the more complex you make your digital marketing more difficult that job becomes. Again back to your earlier point of simplicity. There are some places you can’t be. You can’t be on Facebook really if you’re a company because if you’re not there. There’s a prominent digital marketing company in the UK called Yelp. I’m not a big fan of Yelp, personally. I think there are probably some great people that work there. We pick up many people who get signed into these aggressive contracts, and the work’s dreadful. It’s outsourced; you don’t have to research too hard to find many people saying not very positive things about that business. It’s just a case of ensuring that you figure out where you have to be, identify what those critical tactics are, and make sure that you know you take care of all of that. Anyone reading up on you or looking into your business always sees good things, happy people. My favorite sort of sniffles this morning. I think one of the best examples of that is always restaurants. You may have a restaurant that serves a thousand people a week, you know, a thousand tables a week, but if they’re never asking for reviews, the only people that will leave a check will be that one unhappy person. There was flying in soup or something else. I’ve seen that. You have to end up with ten bad reviews or something that stops most people from coming to the restaurant, but that’s not reflective of the experience of the majority of people who walk through the door. There’s an unbalance there. You have to be thinking, okay, if people are looking at you, know Trip Advisor or whatever; it may be to determine if they’re going to go to this restaurant. You have to have a presence there, so you have two businesses, have to react to the environment and make sure that they’re doing the things you know, the activities that offer the most return, or that could have the potential negative equity.
About response to reviews and customers being always right
Sophia: It is such an excellent topic because it’s tough to be sure that your visitors leave comments or when they leave nasty comments. What do you do with that? I remember once I was in a restaurant in Spain, and I was not satisfied with one of their services. I posted the review simultaneously on Google, and I believe one of the waiters understood what person I was talking about because there were not many people in this trust fund, and you did it while you were in the restaurant. Maybe that was not a brilliant idea, but I was so sad about what was happening. Finally, he came up to me and wanted to talk, and that was a lovely act from the businesses, like reacting to the visitor’s comments. Still, the conversation was simply so bad because the company, in this case, was trying to defend its position, like its business’s position. It’s hard to find this balancing moment when as a business, you want to protect yourself, but at the same time, you do have to accept the visitor’s opinion even if it doesn’t fall into yours; how to say?
Marcus: I don’t know, let’s say frames back to another classic SEO marketing concept that the customer is always right, even when that’s.
It’s important for a business to incentivize reviews and provide quality services
Sophia: It made me angrier because you know how it happens when you try to persuade someone, and they don’t listen to you. That was hard, but now, whenever I cannot leave tips, I always write a review because that is the same tip in a digital world.
Marcus: People are starting to appreciate this, and they want to leave positive reviews for people, and the business needs to incentivize that as safely as possible, as naturally as possible. You’ve got platforms like Yelp that are quite again punitive on how reviews are, you know, incentivized, and everything you can get into murky waters there as well. You want to make sure that if some of your customers are happy and only one percent of them are upset, you at least want that to be balanced out in the context of your reviews. You’ll see as well when you look at reviews on something like Google; when they automatically pop up on the right-hand side, Google will; they don’t just show them in a kind of chronological order, they will weigh them, based on the overall sentiment. Likewise, you’ll see the most useful ones at the top of those that reflect the general idea. So if you had a hundred bad reviews, and you just tried to push them off the page, you find good reviews; who’s going to surface those that are most representative of the bigger picture. It’s not often talked about necessarily in marketing, but you know you’ve got to be a good business, you’ve got to provide a world-class service, you’ve got to do everything right, and only once you’ve got those pieces down. Can you apply world-class digital marketing? You can’t, you know, we can’t. We must get people in touch again with us almost every day about wanting to remove bad reviews, or you know it’s just unless that’s been said in that review, which means that it breaks Google’s policies. It’s very, very hard to get Google to remove reviews. You just gotta again; it’s just something that people have to be mindful of making more critical for some businesses than others.
Sophia: That’s like trying to wipe your reputation.
Marcus: We’ve done a lot of reputation work for people in the past where bad things have happened. There’s some negative stuff, or it can be rough for people, businesses particularly when something terrible has happened. Then it gets picked up by the press, and a search for their business name just brings up lots of articles about this one bad thing that’s happened again. This is a balancing outplays, isn’t it? If your business is good and has lots of good sentiment, then if you’re not doing some good pr, when something wrong comes along all of a sudden, that picture is so unbalanced that you’ve got to be kind of mindful of that. You’ve got to go on a preemptive attack with these things in some situations.
How to make a website that is easy to navigate and effective
Sophia: I believe it’s also essential to have these good websites that would attract visitors, making this website easy to navigate. I read a little of your website planning guide that was nice to read. Could you summarize in some options what would be the most crucial point for the website to be easy to navigate and customers would come back just eventually?
Marcus: You’ve always got to start with what the customer needs and what information they need to decide. You’ve got to be mobile, and most of your customers or visitors will be on the phone. It isn’t said hey like our corporate events company where most of their customers are on a desktop computer looking at the site, but they still have to be mobile-friendly. You have to get all the technical kinds of pieces of that right, and the phone works across all these different devices. Then it’s more the kind of common sense, kind of structure, and layout of the pages. This customer needs to decide that you’re the right person to work with case studies, testimonials, servicing, reviews, and a big friendly call to action. They know what to do next. I’m not a huge fan of generic answers because you have to look at the individual business and figure out what’s right. As a general rule of thumb, you need good simple navigation. The site needs to work across Myriad mobile devices or tablets or desktops, and you just need to make sure you’re providing the customer with all. I always think of it like if I’m looking for a plumber. I can keep going.
Similarities between hiring a plasterer and creating a customer value
Sophia: Let’s find this plumber.
Marcus: I don’t want to be spending my time looking for a plumber. I’d rather be on my bike or at my place. Exactly I’d rather be doing something else. It’s an undesirable job. When I get to that page, I want everything that I need to know; this is the right guy presented to me in the most concise possible way. I can say I wear good reviews, good case studies. That’s relevant to everything that I need to make a decision. I’m going to get in touch with these people, some clarity about costs can be necessary for some things, contact details maybe. If you’re an e-commerce shop, it’s like return details and payment details. It’s always an interest, a helpful example perhaps it is a Victorian house, and this house is probably about years old, and we bought this house about four or five years ago. We renovated it, and the hallways have these kinds of curved roofs, so it turns around, and it’s cool, it’s this kind of hallway, and it’s got this kind of grand staircase in the middle of it. We brought in loads of plasterers. The house was a wreck; we went, we did re-fit all the electrics and everything. By the time we’d had all these basics work stuff. It was a wrecker. I’m very good at computers, but this terrifies me, this kind of works. I started to speak, to look for plasterers, to come in two or three quotes from plasterers that went into the house, and they said, oh yeah, we’ll just board that off and uh then we’ll just skim it. I was like; I don’t want you to board it; I want to keep these astonishing curves of the ceiling. My wife said this way, not paraphrasing me. I was at work to pay for it, but we were like, okay, well, we’ve had three clusters coming; all of them have said the same thing; they all want to approach this project in a certain way. I started to google a plasterer for a Victorian house, and I found a business that put a case study there. It’s shown how they’ve done this Victorian house with all of these kinds of curved arch. I was like, that’s my goal, that is my guy from a marketing perspective looks at that from the other side from his other side. Instead of now being one of three or one of five people that are all quoting to do the same job and somebody says five thousand pounds, someone says four thousand, someone says three thousand pounds, it’s the same thing as I’m just going to be the cheapest person. It becomes an undifferentiated service. With this guy, I was like, well, I can’t do it for two months, I don’t care. The price became much less important because his work’s quality and relevant experience were the defining factors. So just through him publishing a case today, we wanted to work with that person or with that firm. They were great, and they were still actually very reasonable as well. When you come to this kind of whatever you want to have on your website or however you want to configure your website, it’s always about what does the customer need, what does the customer needs to bring me, my ideal customers.
What customers Marcus wants/doesn’t want to work with
Marcus: Like every business, we’ve worked with some wrong customers over the years, and I worked with one very aggressive company. Once I told him that his citations were a mess, he tried to attack me across a table. His citations were a mess, I wasn’t insulting his business or anything he did a bit, but he took it in a way that was a wrong customer. As you get older and more experienced as a business, we try and work only with people we know we can help, that we feel we’ll get on with and won’t be kind of really stressful.
Use marketing that helps to attract the right customers
Marcus: Then it’s a semi-privileged position to be in, but I don’t want to work with people I just don’t have a good working relationship with. The way we talk about things on our site communicates the kind of people we are and generally attracts the right kind of people. Some people want it. The point I’m trying to make is that you want in your marketing communications, you want to be trying to attract your ideal customers, not just any customers, not the awful jobs, that you can just about scrape a living off but the exciting jobs, good jobs, your ideal jobs. It’s a traditional marketing concept. This idea of the perfect customer, so rather than just we want to rank for these keywords, we want to show ads for these terms. You’ve got to be a bit smarter, and that’s where we try and be a bit different from the average street-level SEO and pay-per-click company.
Pandemic accelerates the transition to online
Sophia: That’s good, well. I think that now you have this experience maybe well. Let me put it differently. You said that you had this aggressive customer who tried to attack you across the table. With this pandemic working only online with the customers might be even better because no one will attack you over the table.
Marcus: It’s only happened once in years. It’s a bizarre situation. We kind of walked from that meeting and just several ties, and we’re like, this is not working out. I think generally. I think we more and more move towards online sessions even before the pandemic, but I believe that now this has accelerated things and will try and predominantly work online. I think going forwards that much, sometimes there’s a reason to get together and with some bigger jobs or, as I said earlier, the more creative parts of things sometimes at least. As for our general customers, it’s just easier to jump on a call and have a conversation like we’ve had a conversation. There’s no need to waste more of the day than necessary, and if a customer visits us from Liverpool or a two-hour drive or a three-hour drive for what may be 15 minutes, the bonus. The meeting might only be minutes. Well, then we’re going to stick around for a bit longer, and we’re going to talk, and we’ll go for lunch. I’m sure we’ve all got better things to do at that time. So let’s just do it over a Zoom call.
Sophia: I don’t know how we’re going to get back to this everyday life, back in when everything would be more like face to face, but now it’s so easy everything to do online.
Marcus: To be honest, I don’t know, there’s something, these are business people that like to wine and dine their clients to some extent. We’re not worried if that way. We just want to do good work for the right and get your results.
Global SEO tendencies (strategy) and differences across countries
Sophia: Well, but in case I will need your services. Maybe I will still think about going to the UK because it would be a lovely trip to come to the UK. Okay, perhaps some of the last questions would be about SEO attendances because you work with different businesses. It’s not only in the UK; it’s around the world. So maybe you can share some insights what are the tendencies in the sale analytics in different countries. Perhaps the most significant differences from doing the work in other countries include addressing the SEO and analytics questions in different countries.
Marcus: No matter where you go, probably come back to the swot analysis case. Like for instance, this chemical company I was talking about. They’re operating in UK, India, Canada, Australia. They’re working around the world in all these different locations several others as well. Now the significant differentiating factor aside from language is the level of competition within any given area. It may be easy to rank in location but challenging to type in, say in America if there’s much in the way of technical differences. So it’s more kind of going to be from the perspective of the level of competition in any given location, and again it from an analytics perspective, it is all done on a single site from an analytics perspective. So we’d always first come back to what does the customer needs to know, and how we word at the analytics, and whether that would change per location, but generally, I don’t think there are huge differences from country to country. Other competitive landscape?
Sophia: Okay, well, maybe one day you work with Ukraine, perhaps you will find some differences.
Marcus: I think Google isn’t if you know, and technology is primarily leveled out now of the apparent platforms like Shopify for shops and WordPress as the kind of more content-orientated sites. We just see more, but I suppose we see more that’s the same as we do is different. It’s probably the best way to put that.
Marketing trends that will remain in the upcoming years
Sophia: Well, and what could you say about the marketing trends? Which ones would remain in the following cares? What do you think?
Marcus: I think that everything is going more paid. Organic search is getting harder and harder. It could work very well as a common tactic, and of course, it does for us. We only do an organic search, we don’t do any advertising or anything, and we never have; all of our work comes from either referral or blog posts. It works well for us, but what we do can be pretty complicated. Someone reads an article about something, and they get a flavor for who we are, and then maybe we offer them a free order. Then they get to see how we work, and we can get, understand their situation, and explain everything to them, what they should be doing. I think the significant trends are just to shift towards more and more the need for paid. As an absolute, I don’t want to say that, you know, dogmatic of the time rule because, again, like the local police always plays into it. I mean to go back to our plumber. He may need to run if he wants to be competitive and serve a given area. Then he may need to run Google Ads, he may need to do some local search as well, and he may want to have an organic listing. He has three listings on that page. We maximize his exposure. It may be certain things that he does are like emergency plumbing or boiler repairs, are so competitive that maybe or so the clicks are going to the paid ad. If he wants to get into the real needs, you’ve got to look at all the options. The trend for me is that he’s moving towards nearly everything he’s paid. There are a few platforms. LinkedIn still has quite a good organic reach, but you have to look at the paid options for the majority of them. If you’re a small business with one or two vans, and you only need a couple of inquiries a week to keep you ticking over, then organic’s probably okay. Still, if you’re more aggressive and want to grow the business and get a larger slice of the action, you will be everywhere. It is getting more complicated. Things are getting more segmented, and people are going to be different. Any of my kids are on Facebook, for instance. I think it’s probably seen as this desperately uncool platform that mom and dad are on as much as anything else.
Sophia: I’m still there, but I’m not using that much. I mean, ironically.
Marcus: I don’t use any of them. I’m not a big social media person. There are just too many distractions in life. Anyway, the trends are probably this continued segmentation and moving away to people who have their own more specific. But you can see I’m not even sure if that’s any different from how it’s always been, and I remember. Years ago, I was on small little specific SEO forums. It’s just the texture changes a bit, but everything’s always mainly been segmented. I don’t think the search is going anywhere, anytime soon. I don’t think the big social platforms are probably going anywhere. Still, you’ve got to come back to the specific business who their customers are and make sure that you’re figuring out what’s right for them at that time, and then also keeping on top of things as things change and evolve like a plumber. He may be able to rank in one physical location within five miles of his house, but then maybe miles away; there may be an affluent area where he knows his big jobs for heating replacements. He might need to run Google Ads over there and rely on his Google organic a little more locally. Again if you can understand the customers, our customer’s objectives, and then define their ideal customer, we can figure out how to help them the best way.
Sophia: I believe that it would be nice to watch this video to rewatch this video in 10-15 years to see whether those tendencies that you have just mentioned will remain will come true.
Marcus: I think Google will still be here in years. Facebook. I’d say whether everything went wrong for my space overnight, didn’t it these platforms, they can go away, and they can hit the kind of critical mass. I think it will probably still be around in some capacity. Likewise, I think they’re probably hedging their bets with Whatsapp and other platforms that they’re kind of linking with Instagram, and so society will be here. I hope that I’ll be retired by then, just tending a plot of vegetables in my garden that would be so beautiful. That’s well.
Sophia: Marcus, thank you so much that was for me that was so interesting to find out the peculiarities about your working at Bowler Hat and the story behind the business, and your strategy that you work on right now, and how you address your customers needs, and everything about. SEO and analytics are engaging. Thank you so much for finding time to share this, and I hope you have a lovely week, and you had a nice week with your kids on this vacation, and the other weeks will also be excellent.
Marcus:, thank you so much that was for me that was so interesting to find out the peculiarities about your working at Bowler Hat and the story behind the business, and your strategy that you work on right now, and how you address your customers needs, and everything about. SEO and analytics are engaging. Thank you so much for finding time to share this, and I hope you have a lovely week, and you had a nice week with your kids on this vacation, and the other weeks will also be excellent.
Marcus: It’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow.
Sophia: Yes, exactly. Remember, she has to win, so keep that in mind. Okay, well,
Marcus: Take care.
Sophia: Thank you so much, and have a nice day too.
Marcus: Thank you, bye.