Steven Waldberg

AQ and A with Steven Waldberg, Director at Hopping Mad Designs and SEOSydneyExperts.

1. As a digital native and the owner of Hopping Mad Designs, you have created amazing customer experiences online for a wide variety of customers. How does this creative and design experience complement SEO needs?

Web design and SEO are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other. SEO can generate traffic, but conversion-focused web design is the real kicker. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What is the customer experience like and what do they do when they land on your website?” If you are planning to start an SEO campaign, you need to plan this before any design takes place. Remember, for SEO to be effective, you need to have your design sorted well.

2. Why is now the right time for clients and agencies to revise their SEO strategies? What kind of upward movement can be achieved?
If COVID has had a tighter SEO budget for agencies and clients over the past year, now is a good time to see what you’re getting for your ROI. Forget about expensive SEO agency fees. You can now get more bang for your buck by doing your research. In this post-COVID era, value is obviously important to your marketing dollar, with proven and real results.

3. Has SEO changed a lot lately? What are the most important conversations you have with customers in the room today?
SEO has changed and is known to be constantly evolving. The main conversation I have with clients is about content and content marketing and how important it is. Also, the number of conversion landing pages on your website needs to be optimized and refined on a regular basis.

4. There are countless services from individual operators to departments in multinational agencies and marketing departments. Can you explain the current landscape and the main areas that the demand is coming from for you?

SEO Sydney Experts difference is that the business owner and the SEO work. We’re nimble and have a proven SEO formula that we can broadly apply to all of our clients. I’ve seen other SEO agencies work, and if you enjoy dealing with an account manager or salesperson, that’s fine. But our difference is that you take care of me and I am the contact person. I will learn as much as possible about your business and online marketing goals. Plus, I have over 20 years of experience in this business, which gives me a certain amount of bragging rights that not many other SEO agencies can match.

The SEO landscape is currently saturated with cowboys and flooded with agencies that offer cheap deals with unrealistic ranking guarantees. I urge all of my potential clients to look out for these so-called “gurus and specialists”. They contract you, take your money and either do nothing for your marketing dollar or buy a few poor quality links as a smoke and mirror tactic.

The barriers to entry for SEO are very low. So be warned of quick, unrealistic rankings.

5. Can you tell us key areas where even bigger brands may have misunderstood SEO? What industry dynamics are holding back advances in results for Australian brand CEOs? How does Australia look compared to the world?

Bigger brands can get SEO wrong by looking for quick wins and over-optimizing their website and SEO strategy. It is common for companies to need to bring their product or service in front of people. The greater the pressure, the greater the temptation to send spam and optimize search engine optimization.

So many Australian agencies are outsourcing their work to India or the Philippines to cut costs. This practice is widespread and not many companies are aware of it. You might be dealing with an Australian account manager, but most of the work is off-shored. It’s bad practice, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rescue companies that are getting Google fines for dodgy SEO practices.

Smoke and mirrors, false promises and empty ranking guarantees keep many companies from doing well online.

6. How has the explosion in e-commerce and online life in general affected SEO since Covid? Do you think these trends will stay here? What does this mean for marketers to get SEO right for the time?

COVID has undoubtedly opened the door for e-commerce and businesses looking to venture into this space. But SEO has always remained a constant and hasn’t changed except that the online space of certain industries has become more competitive.

The competitive nature of Google hasn’t changed much, other than agencies out there taking advantage of corporate naivete.

Getting SEO right isn’t rocket science. All you have to do is follow the same formula that has worked well over the years. You need to focus on both on-page and off-page SEO to be successful online. Quick gains and sugar highs are temporary. So be ready to have a long term strategy for your SEO campaign. And by that I mean at least 12 months.

7. As part of the marketing budget, there needs to be a basic investment that you cannot escape. Does it take a lot more money to get exponential results? What percentage of the dollar should marketers spend on SEO in general these days?

The investment in SEO and internet marketing should be around 10% of sales. The more you are willing to invest in SEO and online marketing (AdWords, content & social media marketing), the better the results will of course be. But you can get more value now if you are ready to get rid of the shiny and dazzling SEO agencies and deal with more boutique firms like us that are really value for money.

To have an effective SEO campaign, you need to invest the right amount of money. To get a decent ROI, you need a mix of all of your online channels. Everyone is searching on Google and I think this should be your priority for your business. The best thing to do is to dominate your niche on Google with fresh, informative, and high quality content. Then and only then will you see the real benefits Google can offer. Combined with the best link building in the industry, sales and revenue will skyrocket.

8. Your leadership in this area is sure to come into play. What is the best way for brands to health-screen their approach to SEO? What are the red flags right now?

The best way to review the health of your website and previous SEO efforts is to leave it with people who know what they are doing in the field. A DIY approach is not advisable.

The biggest red flags are bad link building by agencies, like I said, who quote lowly and do nothing. Other red flags are agencies that throw a ton of stats at you to convince you that your online presence is improving. When the phones do not actually ring or there are no inquiries. Some agencies use graphs, and confusing charts with lots of geeks as a cover up that they haven’t made any progress on Google. A huge red flag. If you don’t have a ranking and don’t get any inquiries, something is wrong with your SEO campaign.

9. Who is on board at SEO Sydney Experts? Would you say it’s a science or an art?

SEO is a science, not an art. Follow the formula and do it regularly and you will succeed.

10. What’s on the horizon? What should brands plan? Are there any changes that brands should future proof for?

Be sure to future proof your brand’s trust and authority online. That’s the best advice I can give. Publish quality content. If you want to dominate Google, get in touch with an agency that can demonstrate their past achievements. Far too many brands get their rankings smashed online because they trusted SEO agencies to do a good job. It’s a real pit that well-intentioned, hard-working companies online can’t really start because they haven’t laid solid foundations for the future.

All I can say is that the future is now. So don’t waste time building your brand online if you can’t see progress. The likelihood of this ever happening becomes less when your competition is in focus.

Steven Waldberg, Director at Hopping Mad Designs and SEOSydneyExperts.

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