Today’s guest comes from a very long way away. But we’re excited to have him on the show today, because we’re gonna have a great conversation about what in the heck is Seo? It’s something you hear me talk about on a regular basis. So today, john Vong from Local SEO search is going to join us to talk about how his business is focused on those well established family run businesses, that small business market that needs more help than many of the other business sectors out there. So today, john and I are going to have a little bit of a conversation around SEO, what is it, how they approach it. And you know, hopefully, if you’re a local business owner, you can take a few of the tidbits from today’s podcast, and implement them in your business. So let’s start it off. JOHN, welcome. And thank you for being here.
Well, I’m excited. Thanks a lot for having me, Barb. And hopefully, I can share some valuable insights and takeaways for your audience members today.
That sounds awesome. So let’s start off by just telling us a little bit about what you do explain SEO, in your own words, from your business’s perspective.
So what we do here at local SEO search is to help the business owners the SMBs, the more smaller revenue type clients dominate their locale marketplace, as well as positioned themselves as leaders in their domain. So they have a specialty or an expertise. And we make that the centerpiece to attract ready to buy customers looking and seeking out for their products and services. And positioning them on the top of search engine results page when someone is actively in pursuit of discovery of their product and service so that we can help them match, ready to buy customers with them as a service provider or product provider. Yeah. And they are now the leaders in the marketplace.
So you’re absolutely talking my language because I talk about ready to buy customers all the time. And I think, you know, we’re making a really important differentiate a differentiation here. There’s the customer who’s still in the research phase. And obviously, we want businesses to get found in that research phase. But we also and even more importantly, want them to be able to get found when the customer is now ready to buy. I’m on my mobile, I’m going to buy those shoes, I’m on my mobile, we’re going to a coffee shop. And I think that’s maybe a differentiator that lots of people have a hard time understanding. So tell me, you know, kind of kind of your own opinion on that customer journey. What do you think it looks like nowadays?
Yeah. So people, you have to hit people at different stages of the buying journey, informational navigational transaction, and loyalty. And people will search different terms at different stages based on what they’re looking to purchase products, more item, big item, competitive analysis. There’s a lot of factors, so many different sources. But most importantly, they want to be in control their own research. And when I actually prior to starting this agency, I worked at Yellow Pages Group here in Canada, and five years, and they did a great job monopolizing that entire journey by compressing the most comprehensive business directory in one format, for free with huge retention and usage. And the mindset of the consumer user when it picked up that book, and went out and seek that personal. Now with this whole advent of digital, there’s so many different platforms, so many different mediums and choices. However, Google still gives you control of where to find the information of your liking as a user standpoint. Exactly. And now you can optimize it for your own purpose.
That’s right. Google absolutely dominates the marketplace in Canada. And I often talk to our students and get found digital marketing about, you know, it doesn’t matter your personal opinion, if you like Yahoo, great, use it. If you like Bing, absolutely go use it, I’m not going to knock them. But if you want to find the majority of the traffic, you gotta play with Google’s rules. And I’ve even heard a number of professionals say I, you know, Google, and I’m not following this rule, and I’m like, go to town, but it’s at your own detriment. So do I like everything Google does? Absolutely not. But am I gonna play their game because I want my own business found? Absolutely. I’m going to play the game with them. Right. Um, so when you think about, you know, the customer journey, and so we’re here in Saskatchewan, you’re in Ontario. The population difference makes a pretty significant difference in terms of, you know, even how many ready to buy customers we can attract. So when you look, you know, what some of those businesses that you’re working in, let’s say, downtown, you know, the real Toronto, you know, how are they finding their competitive edge? How are they? How are they communicating their expertise on whatever the subject matter is?
Yeah. And when it becomes hyper competitive, like a dentist or lawyer, a personal injury lawyer, and we work with all service providers b2b, localized. And when it comes to hyper competitive, that means you have to set yourself apart, you need to have that unique selling proposition, understand the competitive landscape, and have all the tools and software to detect what’s going on. And understand benchmarks, understand what comparative, where you’re at, and where you want to be realistic, and authentic and transparent throughout the entire journey. And so when I work with clients, we always look at what’s your story? And what do you want to be known for? And what is your goals? Because that must be completely in alignment. And without that clearly at the onset? It’s very difficult to get them to a place where they their expectations are not realistic.
So you know, education is probably the number one thing we really strive on, making it very transparent and aware, when they bring when we bring on a client. It’s all about managing expectations, relationships.
Yeah. So john, can you share a success story with us a local business? Who, who really decided to go all in with SEO? And what was the outcome? Maybe give us a I don’t know, what 12 months snapshot or you tell me, but can you give us a success story from your vantage point?
Yeah, definitely. So we have a lot of case studies and testimonials on our website. But just most recently, like we bring on clients on a regular basis. So even though it’s been maybe three or four months, and I’m gonna maybe last year, during this pandemic, we brought on a catering client, okay. And they’ve gone through a lot of changes, as you know, other venues close all the, you know, weddings were kind of minimized to a very small amount of people. We’re constantly engaged with understanding the the landscape, how things have changed, how we can pivot from physical location, catering to then in home, out of the block packages, and we’re always refreshing the content, newsfeed social pages, repositioning them for keyword research and gaps and understanding the different competitors. Things are starting to pick up again, we then hyper focus on going after the main keywords like those big corporate venues and going after the bigger ticket items that really helps them cover their expenses. Right? So those survival early, but now it’s more about their meat, bread and butter. Along the way, we built more authority, we were able to communicate well with them expectations were, you know, performed. And we can deliver them leads and quality customers. So not only that they’ve been sticky with us, they trust us now. And we’re all about long term, because we feel that the more engaged we are with customers, the more likelihood they will stay with us for not just a one year, but multiple years, as long as they’re looking to continue being in business really.
Yep. You know, one of the things you said there, and we haven’t touched on this yet, SEO isn’t an overnight thing. It’s not like, gee, I created a Facebook page, and now my customers are going to come flocking, if we think back even a decade ago, lots of business owners thought Oh, like credit a website. So now you know, I’m going to have this, you know, amazing amount of business. And that’s not how marketing works. So I always talk about the rule of seven, we need to actually engage our customers a minimum of seven times. But that’s kind of my rule of thumb. What would be your approach?
Yeah, so it’s constant awareness of what you’re actively doing, as well as what your competitors are doing. So we’re sniffing and watching in terms of how competitive they are in a small market versus a hyper competitive market. The industry is a keyword they want to dominate for, and then analyze what works and what doesn’t because we have proven track records that we know works for specific industries, profile, different budget, different access, like there’s a lot to play, consider and when we look at the Big Picture, it has to be an alignment. So what we’ve done is created an in house team of expert, content writers, website developers, graphic designers, Link builders, social media managers, SEO strategist to then put everything together and collaborate on a weekly daily basis to ensure that the client gets optimal results with performance indicators that meets and exceeds their expectations so that they become stickier, trusting us.
You know, your catering example was a great segue into Google’s eat formula. And I don’t know if you talk too much with your clients about eat formula, because people tend to go Oh, wait a second, what does that mean? But just even you know, the language you’re using? Well eat your expertise. Are you an expert in what you do? Doesn’t matter if you’re the plumber, the house cleaner, or the caterer? if Google sees you as an expert in your field, then your authority with Google starts to go up the a right? And then of course, you’ve talked about trustworthiness. And that is it’s a two way street, where you know, you want potential customers to trust your client, but you also want your clients to trust you. So is there something that you guys do that you think might be a little bit different than other firms that that do SEO work?
Yeah, like, I’m gonna refer back to the E. Okay. Actually, I met Marie Haynes back in 2018. And it was great to just hear it from the person that launched it, right? And yes, it’s interesting, but I’ve always been very curious as to what made a successful local business survive for multi not Yes, years, decades. But generations. To do that, you have to be in it. Which means you have to be playing the game or being in it for a long time to deter peaks and valleys ebbs and flows of the industry business.
So the more established you are, the more credible you are, the more experienced you are, then you understand that there’s going to be ups and downs. And when you’re ready to hire an expert, yeah, you’ll pay for it for compression of time, and you value their experience and reputation and track record. But there’s a lot of people that think they can do it themselves. And they will also want to learn. But in reality, just like in, you know, if you own a home, do you want to fix the roof? Do you want to fix plumbing issues, right?
In terms of business, you can do accounting, you can do sales, you can do marketing, you can do website design, but these are expertise. And you can do it faster, quicker. And first, the right thing the first time. Yes, I always let people in on like, you know, when people are ready to discover marketing, per se, you have to understand your audience understand where they navigate and search for you. And then understand if that is the type of profile that you want to attract. Yes, maybe its product. Yes. It’s, you know, maybe social media, or it’s searched, but it’s more service based, then you want to position yourself because it’s multiple touchpoints that people will vet.
And like you mentioned seven pieces, well, social media, Google My Business, three pack, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and as well as maybe potentially LinkedIn. Do you have a blog? Do you have YouTube? Do you have podcast, you have content on your blog? Are you on different sites, citations reputation? Understanding what is going on in the mindset of a customer? position yourself as a leader? And do they search in their association, their Board of Trade, their community? Do they ask their friends? Do they read magazines and articles? Do you then position yourself in different ways to then be known as a leader? So it’s all about just being active? Kidding, kidding, hitting people at different times in their journey? And hopefully it resonates with them at the right time and moment for the trigger an action?
Exactly, yes. And that purchase action, right? That’s the intent that we want to capture. We always used to think about customer journey as a funnel, right? And that proverbial funnel where it’s a linear process doesn’t exist anymore. So I know for a number of business owners, there’s a bit of a real uncertainty around, you know, well, my customer talked to me on Facebook, and then they never came in. Well, then they call the store but they never came in.
And I always like to talk about the spider web, the more connective points in the web that you Have with a potential customer, the more likely it is that when they get to the center of the web, and now they’re that ready to buy customer, now, the likelihood that they will take an action with you is so much greater. And so as a business owner, how can you create that web? How can you touch them, as you say, on Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn? Right? That’s really any business owners challenge right now is how do I touch them repeatedly? Keep that awareness high, like you’re saying, so that when they’re ready to purchase, hey, guess what?
They’re calling john and Toronto and saying, Okay, how do we make this happen? So let’s, let’s roll that back. So we’ve got a business and you know, they’ve maybe they’ve got a website, maybe they don’t, but how does a business owner get started? And I don’t necessarily mean, you know, call you and and go to town. But for the business owner who’s not quite ready to engage someone, what’s your advice to them? What should they be doing?
I would say, on a fundamental level, learn how to run a really good well oiled machine business, that’s a revenue generating, and understanding that there’s going to be good clients and bad clients. Yet, before you seek out marketing experts, you want to know who your persona ideal customer avatar looks like, once you have that in store, then you can reach out, we’re trying to figure out the content pillars, that resonates with those audience members that you are established to then speak with all their pain points and triggers the single problem question that they have, and position yourself as a leader in that industry expert tees, once you do that, well, then you have to amplify the message in different platforms, because it takes time to build a reputation, track record case studies, testimonials, all that takes time trying to do everything in three or six months.
So in reality, as a business owner, you have to be in it for many years. A lot of people are impatient today, because they see a social ad post that gets magnified, amplified to earn like hundreds of $1,000 a month. And I can do that as well. Yeah, no one really looked at all the fundamental work they did to get to that stage. And that person might have been working for 10 years to get that one month income, because then they’re magnifying that course, to get more Right. Right, to understand, like the root of it, how did they became who they are put in the time and legwork fundamentally as a business owner?
Yeah. One of the things that you kind of touched on there, when I think about the fundamental purpose behind each of the tools that we have, as business owners, so a Facebook page is a tool, Instagram is a tool. And really, we’re renting this space, if Facebook decides to pull the rug out from under business owners, Facebook pages can be gone, or the price can be exorbitant. I didn’t want to Instagram, Instagram, all of a sudden closes the doors, it’s gone. Something like your website. I mean, you do own that, or hopefully you own that. But when I think about the different tools and their purpose, one of the things that I think some somewhere along the way we’ve lost is let’s use social media, for example, social media can be a fantastic awareness tool. But it can be a much more difficult tool to work with. If you want to create conversions. That’s my experience. What what are your thoughts on something like that?
Again, I feel there’s experts that are focused on product play social media conversion place, so they can track to the T dollar spend and return on investment. And that’s great. If you’re a product and you’re a big brand, and you have some budget to hire an expert, right? Yeah. And yes, there’s mediums that you can utilize, that can do very well. But if you’re trying to learn it yourself, someone that’s been doing it for 10 years, or 20 years will shrink time. Yes, you pay that fee, but they’re gonna have better guaranteed results, right? So why not do that? take that role, and do it when you’re ready, prepared.
So just like in SEO, like you mentioned, you can rent space paid ads, you can rent on social media paid ads, but there’s an opportunity to own real estate organically naturally. Yes, that’s where SEO comes because then you get unlimited clicks, impressions, but Most importantly, you get quality leads, because people users know the difference between paid ads versus earned space. And that’s right, we really focus on is earning yourself on the local three pack of Google below, which is ranking yourself organically.
One of the things that’s really interesting to me and of course, Google’s three pack has changed over the years, I think we were a five pack at one point. And then they were testing a 10 pack down in Australia. But we talk with our students all the time about the importance of that three pack. Because if you can optimize your listing to get into the three pack, you almost inevitably notice an immediate difference.
Now, it depends on the you know, the product or service or your solution. But every day, hundreds of people, 1000s of people are looking for a plumber, or a carpenter, probably dozens of times each day in every community, somebody is looking for a new cleaning service. And so those those local businesses, I always like to say that, that we serve the market that maybe they’re not sexy, but here we’re gonna help you get sexy. Right? So So what do you think is different about that family run or that local business versus franchise in corporate? What do you see is the difference?
So the reason I started this business was because I did work with 1000s, of localized family run businesses, while at Yellow Pages, I discovered was, I had the opportunity to meet the owners. And they were usually bested to really add value to the community, the family and their customers. Right? listen intently. And they understood how to run an effective business that operationally made sense for them to pass on to next generation typically, yes.
And what I really respected was they were real honest humans. Yes. And that’s what triggered me to want to start this agency not knowing anything about SEO, I had sales experience, to that, learn as much as it can to support and help the people that I really believe needed the most help. Yes, most SEO agencies at that time. So I started back in 2013, we’re working with larger corporate big brands, that SMB space was not really tapped, because they knew it was fully invested a lot of time resources, and know how right people cost training.
And I wanted to bring it to a level where I wanted to support the SM B’s by offering those big brand, you know, same kind of strategy sessions, offerings, you know, Link Building Services, content content services, to the SMB level, to then add value to them to see was the ROI. In order to do that, I had to streamline the cost, right and figure out solutions and ways to help better add value to the customers. And I started doing that more and more. I listen, and I got better. And I actively became a family run business myself. Right, exactly. are you adding to the community and constantly get better?
Yes. So hopefully, I’m not pulling the curtain up on you today. But in fact, even our discussion is a great SEO strategy for your business. Because there’s links, there’s credibility, there’s expertise. And so this is an opportunity for, for you to help build much of that credibility with a new audience. So I presume that this is part of your SEO strategy. Because I know for us, it’s a very big and important part of ours talking to all of these different different business owners. We are pretty much out of time for today. So just as we quickly wrap up, john, can you tell folks how they would find you how they would learn more about your business?
Yeah, definitely. You can check us out online. You can go on google and type in localseosearch.ca. locally here in Toronto, Canada. And we are here to support, educate and help that SMBs dominate the local niche, and we help them become experts. So if that’s what you’re looking for, which is a full service, SEO solution, we can help you achieve that for you for your business.
Awesome. That is fantastic. So thank you, John, for being with me here today on The Secret Life of Entrepreneurs. This is absolutely one of the most favorite things that I do. I get to talk to some really interesting business owners from across Canada. And I think that’s important to reinforce this is a Canadian show. This isn’t you know, American International if we get international guests or audience awesome, but this is a local show. supporting local businesses. So thank you for sharing those points on SEO and certainly if anyone has questions, I do hope that they’ll reach out to john and his team and and have that conversation.
If anyone in the audience would like to be a guest, you can email me at Barb@abovethefold.live or reach out on our Facebook and Instagram at abovethefold.ca. You can also submit questions during our live show on our Facebook page. So I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.
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John Vuong has small business in his blood. He grew up in a family that ran a small company and went on to have a career focused on helping small businesses grow through high-quality marketing.
However, there’s a problem. Many agencies are more focused on serving big business clients with huge budgets. Who is there for the small to medium-sized businesses that serve their communities?
Local SEO Search was created to solve that problem. They are a family-focused boutique agency looking to form long-term relationships with local businesses that need trustworthy search engine optimization (SEO) services.
Connect with John @ Local SEO Search
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