08 Jul July 9, 2019 – SEO Guru Rich Fong, Selfish Is Good Kevin Lawrence and MMCA David Morgan
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Rich Fong – SEO Guru and CEO of Bliss Drive – Read interview highlights here
It doesn’t matter if you have traffic, it matters if you can monetize the traffic.
Richard Fong is the CEO of Bliss Drive. Since its founding in 2007, Bliss Drive has worked with business owners to help them drive ROI through strong SEO. Having grown up watching his parents own and operate a restaurant, Rich brings a unique perspective to the SEO game. He understands the challenges facing small business owners, and he knows that SEO doesn’t have to be a struggle. Together with his team at Bliss Drive, Rich focuses on helping clients understand SEO, working to expand market share and drive sales by outranking multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Staples. He has been featured in Forbes magazine.
Kevin Lawrence – CEO/Entrepreneur Coach at Lawrence & Co. and Author of Your Oxygen Mask First: 17 Habits to Help High Achievers Survive & Thrive in Leadership & Life
You need to be incredibly selfish to be sustainably generous.
Kevin Lawrence is a strategic advisor and coach to CEOs and executive teams across the globe. Driven by a relentless passion to help business leaders get what they really want, in business and life, Kevin has coached clients across a wide range of industries over the past 20 years. He is a Coach Emeritus with Gazelles, the world-renowned strategic planning and coaching organization, and a key contributor to the book Scaling Up (Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0). His unique perspective working with hundreds of leaders inspired him to write Your Oxygen Mask First, which deals with the dark side of the leadership dichotomy, and offers 17 practical steps to triumph in business, without being trampled in life. Kevin helps leaders, to build high-performance leadership teams, expand into new markets, attract profitable customers, and increase productivity and profits. Kevin is a key contributor to Scaling Up and author of Your Oxygen Mask First.
David Morgan – President of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association (MMCA)
David Morgan has nearly two decades of experience in senior legal, government, nonprofit, and corporate sector roles. He most recently served for almost ten years as Vice President Government Affairs for the American Express Company where he managed the government and public affairs portfolios for the tax and human resources functions. MMCA is a nonpartisan/nonprofit organization leading a call to action to increase media diversity. In just its fourth year, MMCA has become a trusted convener and facilitator of thought leadership, resource and information sharing and strategic engagement between multicultural media stakeholders, tech and media decision-makers, policymakers and private entities committed to increasing the percentage of diverse media stakeholders and content.
Highlights from Rich’s Interview
I grew up watching my parents, and helping my parents with their small restaurant business. I grew up in that environment. I know how small businesses operate, and remember thinking I’ll really want to help out small businesses. I started building websites back in college, with my roommates as a hobby. I was studying business, economics at the time. And the computer was around, and we got into it and took some classes and evolved from there. When I was working at a bank, I wanted to see how I could make money from my websites, rather than just working at a corporate job. So it evolved from there into affiliate marketing, and now client services.
My first client was a friend of mine. He was in manufacturing. And at that time, I was trying to make a transition from affiliate to client work. And I didn’t know if I could do it, or if that made sense.
So I said, “Hey, let me help you out. Let me help you with your website and see what I can do for you.” After 90 days, I went back in, and he was very happy.
I said, “Hey, what happened? What’s going on?”
He said, “I don’t know what you did for my website. But in the last 90 days that you helped us, we got more sales from the internet than all the sales we got online last year.”
That’s pretty amazing, right? So from there, I started looking into SEO and the business of SEO and other agencies. I noticed that a lot of SEO companies focused strictly on rankings, they don’t really focus on conversions and sales and things like that. Coming from an affiliate background, it doesn’t matter if you have traffic, it matters if you can monetize the traffic, right? So I kind of come with that approach in mind, in terms of how can we get the best amount of conversions going, after the right type of keywords and with the right volume, and having them land on the website that will compel someone to take action.
Right now we have about a dozen employees, all specifically focused in on search engine optimization. We have some content writers, project managers, account managers, SEO technicians. So we’re very focused in on SEO. Then we have another team of 10 people who are led by a partner of mine who works specifically on web development and conversion rate optimization. We are all remote, I have tried to open an office and I found that I didn’t like going into the office. And most people who do SEO for a living or do any type of tech, it’s a lot easier to recruit someone if you don’t make them go into an office. They like to work in the comfort of their own home. And we’re very results driven, right? If you perform, if you deliver, I don’t really care where you work, as long as we can get the results. So my people are all over the world. We do have offices where we can meet up, more like co-working spaces, and things like that. But with video conferencing nowadays, and technology, it’s really easy to have huddles and talk to each other. And then we’ll have yearly retreats and things like that to bond.
For someone who’s just starting out, they could be 10 years younger, where they could just be at whatever age they are, I recommend the same thing that I started out with, which is essentially identify a capability, a specialization that you have, and offer it to your friend. Offer it to somebody and do it for free, and just say, “Hey, give me referrals, give me testimonials.” That will also build your confidence. Once you see that it is working, then you go out and market. I joined groups like big, different networking groups to initially get myself off the ground. But then I eventually went into the SEO route and got inbound leads and networking and things like that. So start off offering something you’re comfortable with and get results, get testimonials. And then once you’ve gotten on to the delivery ability, you have that solid, have other people help you fulfill the deliverables, and you focus in on the sales side of things. Because if you don’t do that, you’re going to run into the freelancer trap, which is essentially, you get busy getting sales, and then you get busy getting the deliverable. Once you’re doing the deliverable, you don’t have time to do sales. And then once that job is done, you run out of work, so you essentially want to get people to help you as soon as you can. And then you focus in on the sales as soon as you’re comfortable with the deliverable results.
We have a couple of packages that we set for either a local client, or national client. And then we also have pricing based on performance and milestones that we can go with clients. Because with SEO, you can put in a certain amount of resource, but there’s an endless amount of research that you can pour into dominating a market organically. So we have opportunities where we select a certain amount, certain type of clients that we think are very effective for us to dominate the market with, and we will partner with them and say, “Hey, if I can give you $100, will you give me $50?” And we build out the market for them to do performance based on that.
We can definitely dominate the market if we choose to go into that industry. Why not have some of the upside as well? So that it’s a win-win for everybody. Once we figure out what the potential is, we can figure out performance. And all I asked is that the client pay for some of the hard costs. That way, we both have some skin in the game. And I’ll provide the labor, my strategy, all my expertise for essentially free. And then we can do it based on performance. Obviously, I want to make sure I think it has potential or else I wouldn’t take that type of deal, whatever the product or service may be. But that’s something I’m very open to.
We’re looking for partners within SEO, you want to find someone you can trust and you can work with long term, right? We know we can deliver, we know we can dominate the market. Sometimes when you’re small, you don’t have enough resources to actually get into the market. We’re getting on the first page with the right amount of research. All we ask is, you put some skin in the game, we’ll put our skin in the game. And when we win, we all win together. So I think that’s a very important concept with doing well in digital marketing.
It’s on page and off page that you’re talking about. Perfect, those are critical, then Google essentially runs on two algorithms. They have their search engine bus that comes in and crawls your website. And that’s how they understand your page and how they’re going to rank you with various different indexes of keywords that they’re going to index you for. But then you could copy your competitor, were your competitor to copy you exactly. And Google then would not know who to rank for, unless they kick in their second category algorithm, which is the off page. That’s where the backlinks comes into play, the social signals, the engagement, etc. They want to see how this website is authoritative and respected by users. That way, they’ll keep you on top and put you on top. So if you have the same mountain on page, it’s really the off page that matters. That’s going to get you where you are on the first page.
Before we even get to how many words you need on the page itself, which is important, and you do want a lot. But obviously, we don’t need 2000 words on every page, right? What I try to do is focus in and be strategic on the pages that we actually want to get rankings for. And then for those pages that we want to get ranking for, we get ranking for a lot of keywords. So if you want to map it out in terms of a website, and you know how many pages we actually want to get ranking, you may realistically want to focus in on 10 pages to get massive amount of rankings for. You don’t want to focus on all even if you have 100 pages or more on your website, and the bigger their website, actually it’s better for you, because it looks like a bigger boat to Google. But the first thing that you really want to think about is, you know what your site title is, what your page title is, what your page meta descriptions are, and then the amount of keywords and then keyword density that’s on your website, because you could overstuff your site title and your page title. And you will run into a penalty where you’re over-optimized, and they see you’re trying to game their system. So no matter how many thousands of content you have on the page itself, they’re still not going to rank you, because they know you’re trying to game them. Does that make sense? I want to make sure to drive that home with listeners, that it’s important to know the ratio of what to have and how much to have, and then have a strategy to go behind it before you start writing a bunch of content to put on a page.
The word search engine optimization in itself, there’s the key word is the optimization, right? You do want to provide content that reads naturally. And no, you do not want to just leave it to chance, and hopefully you rank for the keyword you want, that you wrote naturally. For example, if I want to rank for something like dog toys, and you wrote a long article on dog toys, and you’re really jealous on dog toys. And you wrote down the title a couple of times, like, “Best dog toys for your dog. Read this before you buy your toy.” You mentioned dog toys, twice out of 10 keywords, so you’re already at a 40% ratio. Does that make sense? So to Google, you might be really zealous and honest about what you want to rank, but you might have over-optimized. Or you could go the other way, and you say, “Okay, I want to write a review about pets, pets, you know, queuing toys,” or whatever. But you have no mentions of dog toys in your article. So when Google comes by, and they see that you have no mentions of dog toys, they’re not going to rank you for dog toys. So that’s underoptimization. There’s overoptimization and underoptimization. You don’t want to leave that to chance. You want to have a good, honest article, but you also want to make sure that the density itself is within what they’re looking for. That way, you’re at the best shot of optimizing the content for the keywords that you actually want to go for.
There are tools out there. SEMrush has a tool that gives you an analysis, so you know what density, but there’s no one tool that gives you everything, in my opinion, because I obviously do a lot of testing, and we see a lot of what’s working. So even if you optimize one page, you still want to think about the internal links, and the off page optimization that comes in. So there’s no one tool that provides you a bulletproof way of, “Okay, if I run this tool, I’m automatically going to get top page rankings.” But obviously, if you want to go use a tool, I recommend SEMrush to help you with that. They have a plugin they can use to guide you along with that on page.
On page, the most important thing to think about is focus keywords and strategy pages. But what you want to do before you do the on page is the market research and keyword research. Because what’s important to understand is that just optimizing something for the sake of optimizing may not get you the conversion you need. You spend all that resource and time and effort to try to get rankings, but if it doesn’t convert into sales, it’s a wasted effort. What you want to do is you want to focus in on the market, focus in on the keyword research. We actually type it into Google, so I would type in, say, “dog toys” and see that, okay, there’s a lot of opportunity here, or there’s not a lot of opportunities, and it’s more of a research based keyword, there’s not a lot high intent for that keyword. Maybe I want to say something very specific, like a chewing dog toy, where it’s something that’s better defined, so I know it’s the buying intent, and then focus my page based on that. So before all the on page optimization, we have to do the market research, the keyword research, and then we do the competitor research.
Before we even touched on page, I want the listeners to understand that, before they just kind of jump into the on page yourself.
Off page is our bread and butter. This is where we stand apart from any other search engine companies. Most search engine companies, a lot of search engine companies focus a lot with the on page and, right marketing content for you, and things like that. But for all pages, the link building efforts come into play. When you think about off page, we want Google to look at you as a brand, like a Coca Cola, like a big brand that’s very vibrant and has a lot of activities, right? You don’t want your website, your business to look like a scummy affiliate like slash, just a site built out of nowhere with content. And unfortunately, a lot of small businesses, they just have a few pages, and it doesn’t look right to Google. So here’s a couple of things.
What you should think about when you’re building out off page, we look at it in three tiers. Number one, you want to get your business listed and verified in Google Maps, and Apple Maps, even if you’re a national business. Why do you want to do that? A real business has a location, right? If your business has no address, no contact information, how is Google to trust you? So what we want to do is, we want to go ahead and get ourselves listed on all the maps in that location, as well as create citations, other directories and websites saying our name, address and phone number. So we look as real as a physical business is to Google. Okay, next step, what we want to do with a real brand, they have a lot of activities, right? They have their social media activities, that’s where the social signal comes in, they have their PR press releases, they have a bunch of other web 2.0, YouTubes and other things, other properties that link back to them, and it’s being refreshed and added on in a consistent manner. These are things that do take some manual work, but it’s very controllable. You can obviously upload a video to YouTube, you can obviously release a press release, post things on your social media, on your content, etc. So that is very important. As a second tier, you want to have your brand known and pulsating back to your web pages. You want to focus on social signals with web 2.0s, with other assets that’re showing your vibrancy. Does that make sense? And then the last part is the icing on the cake, the most important thing is having other relevant links and other authority links. They don’t necessarily have to be super relevant. For example, like a CM linked back to you. They’re not in your business, but obviously, it’s a very powerful link coming through. So what we typically do is we do outreach. You’ve probably heard of outreach, backlinks, etc, right? We go help, and ask other webmasters, “Hey, we can help you write this article,” because they’re always looking for content, “and in return, we just need a link coming back through our client’s website.” That’s one of the ways that we can start an exchange with other webmasters to develop links coming back, and develop these very high authority, unique IPS, coming back through the website with the right ratio of anchor text. And that way, Google sees that vibrancy and authority of the website of that page, and go ahead and rank that up to the first page.
The number one thing I typically want to tell someone that’s looking into SEO, looking into what they’re doing is, understand what your current traffic is. Because a lot of times, you may be getting enough traffic, but you’re not monetizing or converting it well. Do have enough calls to action on your website? Are you remarketing to the audience that are already coming into your website? Are you grabbing their emails? And do you have a compelling offer? Because with SEO, we can get you up, we can get you a lot more traffic. But if your car’s engine’s not efficient in running the gas, we’re going to waste a lot of gas, right? So I want someone to think about their conversion on the website. And the fastest way to think about that is to know your numbers, to know how many visitors are coming in, how many leads you’re actually getting. And why are you getting the percentage you’re getting, and what you could do to increase that percentage. Once you understand that, and you add SEO gasoline to that, you’re going to be off and running, and beating out your competitors right away.
You can visit my website BlissDrive.com and fill out contact information, or follow me on Instagram, RichFongOfficial on Instagram. And you can also look me up on LinkedIn, Rich Fong.
Highlights from Kevin’s Interview
It is counterintuitive, because usually what logic tells us to do isn’t the best strategy for someone who’s really high performing and committing. In that analogy, I had a teacher early in my career, his name was Thomas Leonard. And he was the father of the modern coaching movement, going back more than 25 years ago, and he is the founder of a lot of great coaching organizations, the International Coaching Federation, lots of things. And he used to teach us about selfishness. And he taught us that you need to be incredibly selfish to be sustainably generous. But unfortunately, in our society, we’re fed a bunch of hogwash that tells us in order to be successful, you need to deplete yourself and be selfless. And there’s principles out there like servant leadership and things that are wonderful. And from the bottom of my heart, I believe in the concept, but they end up causing a lot of really driven people to destroy themselves. And if you look at the oxygen mask metaphor, we’ve seen it lots of times, those of us who fly, we just don’t seem to get the message. And we know that in an airplane scenario, but in our regular life, conventional wisdom tells us to do the opposite. And it can be pretty devastating for people.
We did a webinar for a big conference. And we’re doing a lot of stuff virtually these days, which is interesting. But one of the participants said, “Oh, my God, I wish I had this advice five years ago.” She goes in our company, people are being preached about selflessness, and being giving and all these other things. And she said, “The advice pretty well destroyed me. Because I kept thinking there was something wrong with me, because I was giving more and more, but getting more burnt out and weaker. And I needed permission to take care of myself, because everyone else around me was acting like they were superheroes, and that taking care of yourself wasn’t that important or even required, and I thought something was wrong with me.”
I want to be clear, I think giving to others and being generous is a beautiful thing, and I put a lot of energy into it. The piece that people miss is this concept of work-life balance. People think it’s another silly concept, because it makes you feel guilty, because you could never have it. People forget that they need to dedicate energy to themselves. So what we teach people is to figure out how much of your best energy every week you should keep for yourself and dedicate to yourself. We call it passion ratio, is your best energy being used for your passion? Deciding whether you need 10, 15, or 20% of your best energy saved for yourself, most people don’t do that. And they’re depleted. She needed to realize it was okay to put energy into herself and dedicate yourself. In another chapter, chapter three, we talk about the resilience rituals, which are one of those things that you do with that energy to make yourself stronger and more resilient and grow. We break it down into body, mind and spirit, what you gotta do for your body? What do you have to do for your mind and what you have to do for your spirit so that you keep your spark and your spring in your step? For her and a lot of people, they just need to get that it’s normal to put a little bit into yourself.
And the key is, it’s conventional wisdom for people to know, they should spend time like that in their relationship and away from the kids. That’s a key success factor. It was lots of people. But the time for yourself is a part where it starts to get weird for people, especially when they have kids and commitments in their family, to take time for yourself. And the only thing I tweak on that is it’s on a weekly basis. And maybe an hour a week, couple hours a week.
We all have different resilience rituals. For me, I need to exercise at least three, four times a week. For my body, I literally need physical activity on a regular basis. For my mind, I need to write. I need to sit and journal, just free flow writing what comes out of my mind, and updating my to do list. Me updating my to do list is like a spiritual experience. It makes my week. If I don’t do those things for myself, I don’t have as good a week, and I’m not as good a person. And then for my spirit, everyone, some people it’s shopping or hunting or fishing or walking on the beach or painting or dancing or smoking a cigar, it doesn’t matter. Or maybe it’s reading their religious text, or speaking to a religious advisor. For me, it seems like a big part of what does it for me is motor sports. And I know it’s not environmentally friendly, but when you get a bunch of guys and gals out on motorcycles or dirt bikes or cars, ripping it up, I mean, I’ve got a membership to a private racetrack that my son and I go to, and it just resets me, and everything in the world is wonderful after I’ve been to the racetrack. So body, mind, and spirit, we all have things we need to do on a fairly frequent business to stay fresh and strong. That’s the key. It’s not once a year, once a year is not good enough.
For me, list-making is about mentally sorting all the priorities. I bet a lot of stuff’s happening in my world. And when I do that, I get focused, everything settles down, and I become much more productive.
Number six is deal with your emotional junk as you grow and evolve in your world. Whether you’re in business or the community, whatever it happens to be, we start coming up against our own emotional junk, where we have emotional reactions, where we either make a bad decision or do something stupid. And if you want to grow and evolve as a human being, you got to understand those things that trigger you, and find ways to work around that junk. Otherwise, you get tapped out, whether it’s in your life, your relationships, your career. So you need to become aware of it and work on those things and unravel the junk inside your head that makes you do the silly stuff.
People accumulate baggage, and then they blame others for when things go wrong. And those people get limited in their growth, in their life and their career. No one wants to deal with that stuff. I suggest that most of us need probably 30 or 40 hours of therapy or deep personal development to work on that junk and get it out of the way. A lot of the highest performing people you meet do exactly that. They just don’t talk about it and promote it. They’ll have therapists, counselors, that talk to you. They’ll do personal development. They look at themselves and understand historical issues that get underway today.
These things are not rocket science. Unfortunately, they’re just not well practiced. This one is about having amazing advisors or experts around you in your work, for yourself and in your life. These are people I call 14 times advisors. These are people that have whatever it is you want to achieve. They have been there, done that 14 times before. So if you decided you wanted to summit Everest, and I offered to help, you’re going to ask me two or three questions, and realize I’m not even a great hiker, and suggest, “Hey, Kevin, thanks. But I’ll think I’ll find someone else to help me.” But unfortunately, in our lives, when it’s other things that could have consequences as big as summiting Everest, we get mediocre advice. We get advice on a people issue in our team from a general lawyer, instead of an HR lawyer. Or we get personal training advice from someone who just wrote the course, instead of it being someone who was an elite athlete and trained 100 people to success before. So this is about making sure your experts or your advisors are true 14 actors, they are true experts in it. And number two, that you work really well with them.
Number three, I guess chapter 10. Make yourself useless. Here’s the deal. When you think about managers and leaders and owners in business, they become successful by being very useful, because they can be counted on to produce things. But as you scale, you can’t, you can’t do it all yourself. So we end up being a bottleneck in anything that we’re doing. So our job is to build a team that’s so damn strong, they don’t need us, and we can be freed up for new projects, or new businesses or new divisions or new anything. So it’s just a build a team that is so strong, you’re not needed. And that’s hard for the ego. The ego loves to be needed. We love having the answers, but that limits our growth and the growth of our people. So it’s the focus on getting it so you are no longer required at all. We get people to actually pick the date, what’s the date you’re going to be completely useless by? And it frees up their thinking a lot. And it gives a much more abundant big picture thinking, instead of trying to see how they can still manage and control everything. Either it’s a new idea, or dedicate their energy to really improving a part of the business. But they’re freed up from the day-to-day, so they can focus on something strategic and future oriented, whatever that is. It could be another business or another division or another product, or they’re going to improve R&D. Or, who knows, take a vacation.
These are little things that start to drive you crazy, but you do it yourself without drugs. This is little annoying, non-strategic, low value tasks that start to build up in your brain and burden you. And as a result, it can create more stress, it can affect your sleep. And this could be a loose moving in your bathroom, or a leaky tire on your car. Or maybe your car needs service or there’s a book you need to return or some damage you have to fix in your office or some popsicle sticks glued to the hardwood floor in your office, if your kid came in there, all kinds of things. And you got to go to the doctor or the dentist or do your taxes or other little things that are the administration of life. But they start to build up, just imagine that show Hoarders about the people who have too much junk in their homes. Well, that’s what your mind starts to feel like. I’ve seen this take down successful grown men and women, just accumulation of too much junk, mentally, and tasks and to do’s and loose ends. And generally people will have 50 to 150 of these things. For most human beings, it’s a huge burden.
Chapter 16 is dedicated to my 81-year-old grandmother. My grandmother, at 81, went back to university, because she wanted to study theology. She went to university lectures at the local university. So here’s what happens. A lot of us become successful in our 30s, people start hitting their stride. And at a certain point, they feel like they’ve got it figured out, and they stop stretching themselves. It’s how you have a bucket list for your life and what you want to do. This is similar, but we call it a stretch list. How do you keep stretching yourself and making yourself uncomfortable? I’ll give you a great example. I live in Canada. You know, hockey is our national sport. You would think I’d be a really good ice skater, because everyone skates in Canada. Currently, we live in igloos. So last year, I had a friend of mine, and she was a professional hockey player. I had her teach my son and I how to skate properly. Now I can skate, but not well. I’m in my 40s. And for me to go to an ice rink and get skating lessons felt pretty frickin awkward. But interestingly, within like five minutes, she taught me how to skate noticeably better. And even I could stop and slide sideways and make a little spray that the professionals do with ice. But for us to put ourselves in, for our egos to go into situations where we’re not that great, and have someone teach us and teach us basics, it keeps the soul vibrant and elastic and keeps you alive and keeps you from getting stale. So there’s another chapter about learning and study, and that’s good. But this is a book about making yourself continually uncomfortable, so you don’t end up with the soul of a 90 year old when you’re 35 or 45 or 55.
If you guys want to check it out, there’s a free assessment of the 17 habits you can do on our site. It’s LawrenceAndCo.com. You can take a look at it. Lots of videos, other resources, lots of things; you can get what you need for yourself. You can get the book on Amazon if you want it or Audible if you want the audio, whatever happens to work for you.