Interviews (12)


An Interview with JL Faverio

JL Faverio

We recently had the opportunity to interview JL Faverio, SEO consultant and lead web developer at Boylan Point Agency. We were excited to cover a range of topics including the future of small business website features, data mining, and disc golf. You won’t want to miss his answers.

Brandon Schwartz: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing this?

JL Faverio: I got into SEO just a couple weeks after joining Boylan Point Agency in March 2017. While the company was already well known with 100s of clients over 20 years, they hadn’t created any formal SEO packages, so I created the first campaign which earned a handful of new contracts for the agency. I learned quickly how valuable (and needed) these campaigns were for both our company as well as the client’s.

Brandon Schwartz: What’s it like working for Boylan Point, and what made you settle there?

JL Faverio: Working for Boylan Point really is a dream come true for me. I mean, I get paid to build custom websites and discover digital marketing solutions that help local businesses and nonprofits grow to their full potential – how cool is that?! For me, this is the last ‘job’ I’ll ever have since I have the potential to turn this into a career with endless possibilities.

Brandon Schwartz: What are the challenges and opportunities for someone wanting to rank for local terms? What’s easy, what’s hard?

JL Faverio: The challenges with ranking your local business depends on many factors including your industry, location, advertising budget and marketing team (or lack thereof). But with every challenge comes opportunity, and with online marketing, you need to find opportunities within focused data. For example, recently we helped brand and scale a local pest control company who was in need of more business in Solano County. Using data we collected through tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush and more, we learned there was a specific city within the county that had a lot of relevant search queries that the client could capitalize on. Only a few weeks after creating a hub of keyword-rich content throughout the website, their call center became overwhelmed with calls so they asked us to stop promoting that location and move onto the next. Proud moment for me to be honest. And just last year, the client’s small business was purchased by a large international corporation. Proud moment for our agency as a whole. As for the easy and hard elements of ranking local, I would have to say sifting through the data is the easy part, and the hard part is building out high-quality, unique and share-worthy content that drives qualified traffic to earn consistent conversions. But it’s possible!

Brandon Schwartz: Where do you see the future of small business websites going?

JL Faverio: Interactivity. Websites are no longer considered your digital business card. Instead, they are (or at least should be) considered a resource or destination for your preferred demographic. For example, instead of adding corporate content or legalese to make the board of directors happy, you need to make your customers happy, and quickly. This is the reason you’re seeing more Live Chat bots and news articles surrounding Artificial Intelligence and Semantic Search.

Brandon Schwartz: What kinds of SEO work do you prefer?

JL Faverio: Data mining; where I use analytics and hyper-focused research to learn new ways to promote a business that surprises and impresses the client. But I also love teaching others the many pieces of the SEO puzzle. So, I often create SEO templates for staff members or the public so they can learn more about search engine optimization and help implement best practices onto their own small business website.

Brandon Schwartz: Outside of work, what do you like to do?

JL Faverio: Work! LOL Unfortunately, I’m a workaholic which my wife doesn’t like I’m sure – but she’s a workaholic too! Other than work, I enjoy spending time with my wife Stephanie and our 4 kids, playing Disc Golf with my brother all over California, and brainstorming new ideas in my new personal office.

Brandon Schwartz: Everyone I talk to seems to have different opinions on tools that are available for this kind of work. What are your favorites, and what’s missing?

JL Faverio: One of my favorite SEO Tools is actually a comprehensive suite of tools developed by SEMrush. But there’s also many free options out there to take advantage of such as Answer The Public and Keywords Everywhere. It’s easy to find SEO tools, but you have to take the time and test them out to see if they fit your agenda. What’s missing? How about simple, short, focused video tutorials on every aspect of the SEO puzzle?

Brandon Schwartz: What made you get involved with BayAreaSearch?

JL Faverio: I love what I do so I’m always looking to help others. After engaging with Micah and Andrew and many other SEO veterans, I learned about Bay Area Search and offered to make it better. In fact, I just attended my first-ever SEO Meetup this month in San Francisco at the new Atlassian location! My goal was to meet Micah and to simply experience a new atmosphere – and within the first minute I got to meet the POBAS himself! 🙂

Brandon Schwartz: If there was a piece of advice you could provide yourself when you started, what would it be?

JL Faverio: Stop re-doing tasks unless the data requires it! For years I would redesign my website or blindly create content based on opinion, not data. Meaning, I would tell myself today to learn what people actually want, search for and NEED through focused data – then proceed accordingly.




An Interview with Dani Owens

Dani Owens

Dani Owens, Secretary at BAS and owner of Pigzilla

We recently got the chance to sit down with Dani Owens, owner of Pigzilla, a Florida based local SEO consultancy. As folks in SEO will tell you, the industry is something like the Wild West; a lack of transparency has led to what she calls a “cheap SEO epidemic” where even large companies sell search engine optimization at prices that betray how little work they do for clients. As a recent addition to our board of directors, we were excited to get to ask her some questions about her experience and perspective.

 

Brandon Schwartz: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing this?

Dani Owens: I have been working in digital marketing since 2011. Before starting my own business Pigzilla, I worked at a digital agency where I was able to gain some enterprise SEO experience. During this time, we mainly focused on digital marketing for dealers and brands that sold products within stores that they did not own. This gave me the opportunity to work with some large international brands and I really enjoyed working with a team. Initially, my job was to set up Google Places listings for our clients (what they were called at that time) but over time I was able to get into on-page / technical SEO. I started reading everything SEO-related I could get my hands on and the rest is history.

 

Brandon Schwartz: What’s it like to be an independent consultant?

Dani Owens: Working as a consultant is great! I do miss working with a team of people in person but working for myself has given me flexibility in my schedule and I’m able to be very hands-on with my client’s SEO work.

 

 

 

Brandon Schwartz: I saw someone post on Twitter the other day that their first day working from home consisted mainly of them cleaning things that didn’t need cleaning. How do you stay productive on your own?

Dani Owens: HA! That’s hilarious. I hear that alot actually. Some people can have a hard time focusing on work when they work from home. Fortunately, I don’t have that challenge but I do have some ideas that may help:

  • Ask family members to not disturb you while working
  • Set a timer and focus only on work during that period of time then take a break
  • Put on some headphones and listen to music while working so that other sounds don’t distract you
  • Turn your phone on silent or off and flip it face down so you can’t see the screen
  • Use a task management system like Asana to keep track of all the work that needs to be done and when it needs to be completed
  • Get out and go work at a coffee shop for a few hours
  • Consider working at a co-working space

 

Brandon Schwartz: When we were setting up the interview, you mentioned that SEO rip-offs have become a huge issue. What kinds of things have you seen?

Dani Owens: Yes, there’s a cheap SEO epidemic. I have seen large companies offer SEO from $6.99/mo. Really?! I see a lot of people offer a cheap SEO package but they are basically just managing citations for the client.

A real-life story: one of my current clients used to be with a previous SEO company. The client had recently had their site redesigned and the developer never unblocked search engines in the robots.txt file on the new site. Because of this their site completely dropped out of Google’s index. It was like that for about three months. The client and their SEO company were never aware even though the SEO company had been sending the client monthly reports. This SEO company had been collecting money from the client and clearly were not doing much or possibly any work for them. Tisk tisk!

 

 

In addition, there are a lot of individuals that claim to be SEOs but have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. There is no real SEO certification at the moment so anyone can say they are an SEO.

 

Just because someone’s SEO prices are low does not necessarily mean their SEO work is bad but it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration.

 

Brandon Schwartz: What advice would you give to a small business owner who’s not familiar with SEO on how to avoid SEO scams?

Dani Owens: That one is hard to do because there are so many things to be aware of when it comes to SEO. I usually recommend that someone be careful if an SEO company tells them anything like this:

  • I can guarantee #1 rankings
  • I can rank your site quickly
  • I can build you tons of backlinks at a cheap price

 

I have a post that I wrote on cheap SEO and what to be careful of and I also like this list of some questions from SEJ that are good to ask an SEO company when you are shopping around. I definitely recommend getting multiple quotes!

 

Brandon Schwartz: What kinds of SEO work do you prefer?

Dani Owens: I really enjoy doing white label SEO for agencies. It allows me to focus on strategy and implementation without being distracted by sales and account management. I also work directly with SMBs to improve their local SEO which is fun too. It’s nice seeing small, local businesses get results.

 

Brandon Schwartz: Outside of work, what do you like to do?

Dani Owens: My husband and I just got a puppy so that has been taking up a lot of our time! We like to go fishing, binge on Netflix and food… yeah food is also a hobby.

 

 

Brandon Schwartz: Everyone I talk to seems to have different opinions on tools that are available for this kind of work. What are your favorites, and what’s missing?

Dani Owens: These are some of the tools that I use regularly:

 

  • Screaming Frog – website crawler / website audits
  • Whitespark – rank tracking
  • Ahrefs – backlinks
  • Google Data Studio – reporting
  • Agency Analytics – live dashboard
  • Asana – task management
  • CallRail – call tracking

 

I’d really love to see some improvements in keyword research and content optimization tools.

 

Brandon Schwartz: What made you get involved with BayAreaSearch?

Dani Owens: I really enjoy meetups and since I work primarily on my own it gives me a chance to interact with other SEOs. I am from the Bay Area in California but moved to Florida a while ago. I travel to California often and look forward to learning and sharing information.




An Interview with Mark Munroe

Mark Munroe: Founder of SEORadar

Anyone who’s done SEO for a few years has either directly experienced or has met someone who’s directly experienced an SEO disaster. Whether it’s a client mistakenly changing a setting to tag critical pages as “noindex” or something breaks during a site migration and traffic falls off a cliff.




An Interview with John Doherty, Founder of Credo

An interview with John Doherty

In October, the Bay Area Search will host its SEO meet up on the topic of career development. According to a recent survey of BAS members, the two factors most in-house SEO’s say is holding them back from advancing their career are “technical knowledge,” and the area of “soft skills and relationships.”




An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Kevin Indig

Kevin Indig

Kevin Indig: Bay Area SEO at Atlassian

Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?

Kevin Indig: I got into SEO through computer games. I was that nerdy kid that wanted to spend more time with computer games and taking my computer apart to upgrade its hardware so I could play more games than go and play outside. When broadband internet came along it was over. I remember playing Starcraft for 12 hours straight one Saturday to the strong disliking of my parents. I started to build small (crappy) websites with HTML tables and Photoshop for “clans” (groups of online gamers). I spend nights teaching myself coding, designing and all kinds of stuff. That’s when I discovered you could optimize sites for organic search and so I started to read a lot and try out all sorts of things. I sometimes miss those times because nowadays we often just scratch the surface but back then, I spend so much time absorbing everything there is about a topic. I followed every rabbit hole and “just did”.




An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Holly Miller

Sponsorships Holly Miller

Holly Miller: Bay Area SEO

Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?

Holly Miller: I find it fascinating that SEO has become incredibly pervasive in online business today but it didn’t become “a thing”– let a lone a profession — until around the time I was entering the workforce.




An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Jeff Chen

Member At Large Jeff Chen

Jeff Chen: Bay Area SEO at UpCounsel

Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?

Jeff Chen: I got into SEO while doing product marketing at Platform9, an enterprise IT startup. I managed all the marketing channels including emails, events, AdWords, content, etc., but wanted to specifically learn more about SEO since it was unlike other marketing channels with its product-oriented focus.




An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Clint Borrill

Member At Large Clint Borrill

Clint Borrill: Bay Area SEO at Balsam Brands

Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?

Clint Borrill: By chance actually. I started at my current company, Balsam Brands, in more of an operational role. At some point I mentioned that I wanted to get more involved with the actual (ecommerce) websites themselves. There were gaps on various teams, one of which was the SEO team. I was given the opportunity to get more involved with the SEO function and began helping out with various SEO projects. Over time, I began spending more and more time with Greg Moro and the SEO team and today that is primarily where I focus.




An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Season Hughes

Secretary & Event Chair Season Hughes

Season Hughes: Bay Area SEO at Atlassian

Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?

Season Hughes: 6 months – I am completely new to SEO. But it’s something I’ve always been interested in. I have a background as a Taxonomist and it’s important to consider the customer and search engine experience when building navigation. Before making a decision, I’d consult the SEO team and shape my taxonomies based on their input. I was ready to try something new, and Atlassian was willing to take a chance on training someone with my background.




An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Takeshi Young

Takeshi Young

Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?

Takeshi Young: I got into SEO by way of web development. I started building websites while I was in middle school and helped pay my way through college by building websites for local businesses.