Hanging out with SEO Expert Joelle Ayala
Joelle Ayala is a Los Angeles native and a fellow Florida International University alum. I first met Joelle at FIU since he was very active in the community, especially the social media community. Joelle has nearly a decade of experience in digital media and internet marketing and someone that I look up to for his marketing expertise and creativity.
Joelle has also played a fundamental role in Miami startups like Optimum 7, KarmaSnack and larger organizations like Fox Sports, Clear Channel and KLMA. Joelle has been responsible for delivering his clients, hundreds of #1 rankings and thousands of 1st page rankings from targeted and converting keywords. He’s helped both small businesses and mid size businesses become more successful with their customer acquisition efforts.
Some of Joelle’s methodology include helping clients identify and define ideal buyer personas and then reversed engineer that persona into a digital strategy that attracts more highly targeted traffic to a client’s site. Joelle simultaneously is optimizing the client’s website to create a stronger lead capture and implements a clear and efficient nurturing system for the inbound leads. The end results is more customers for his clients!
Meet Joelle Ayala
In this Google+ Hangout, Joelle and Jeff Zelaya chat about SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media. Joelle recently moved to Baltimore, Maryland and you can connect with him through his LinkedIn profile here or click here to follow him on twitter.
Audio Title: SEO Chat with Joelle Ayala and Jeff Zelaya
Audio Duration: 28:33
Number of Speakers: 2
Jeff: Welcome everyone. Thank you so much for joining us in this awesome Google Plus Hangout.
I got a very special guest with me and he’s also a great friend of mine, Mr. Joelle Ayala.
Joelle: Joelle Ayala, just …
Jeff: We were just covering this.
Joelle: Without the Z.
Jeff: You got it man. We’ve known each other now for a while since FIU, going to the same university and our paths crossed every so often. The reason being is that Joelle is the guy when it comes to internet marketing. We shared a lot of those things in common, that passion for SEO, for social media, for business, for marketing.
So when I met him last time I was in Miami, I made the offer. Man, you got to be on this hangout because there’s so much knowledge that you have and I know people could benefit from hearing you and knowing what you’re up to.
Besides doing all the great things in the industry, this guy is also a budding entrepreneur and he has had this business Web Phenoms and has been building that now for the past year or so. He’s going to talk more about it. Joelle, welcome.
Joelle: Thanks Jeff. Thanks for having me. Thanks everyone for listening. Appreciate it. Live here from Miami as you can see behind me, set up just for you guys.
Jeff: Dude, how do you get any work done with that beautiful background? I mean I would be so people watching and just get a martini or a cocktail in a hand watching that nice view.
Joelle: You know what? I mean like a lot of marketers, I suffer from ADD at times. So I have like short bursts of dedicated focus and then it’s great to just kind of look up for a minute, gather your thoughts, enjoy the view and then get back to work.
So it helps but at the same time, it’s a double-edged sword. But if worse comes to worst, I just close the blinds.
Jeff: Awesome. Well, tell us about who you are, kind of what started your interest in online marketing, especially SEO and then about your business because I know you do that for clients now. So give me some background. Who is Joelle?
Joelle: OK. Well, in a nutshell, I’m just Joelle, a guy from Los Angeles and really grown a passion for internet marketing. I love the ability to create something, so to create say a website or a piece of content and then to market that website or piece of content. Then from that marketing, create sales.
I really think it’s pretty awesome what we’re able to do now. As online marketers, we’re able to just create and then create content, create sites, create traffic and then convert that traffic into sales, really just from my fingertips. I could do all that and it’s really empowering, I think, for us and our generation and anyone who partakes in marketing. That’s kind of why I’m so enthusiastic about it.
Jeff: It seems like you’ve applied kind of that same love to building your business, right? Because a business is much like marketing where you’re starting with maybe limited resources or you have resources but you still have to wait – you have to find a way to make it all work together. So there’s actually a production. So you produce and grow. That’s your role, right? Director of growth.
Joelle: Yeah, director of growth. I mean there’s a common term out there called growth hacking and I love that term and I think that growth is what we’re all about in marketing. We want to grow business. We want to grow revenue. We want to grow profit, grow traffic, grow sales.
So as a director of growth, I grow the business and the direction that would be best for the agency. I also grow our clients. So we set up a strategy and we grow them and in the same way, like to – things that we do for Web Phenoms, it’s the same strategy that we apply to our clients. We obviously tailor it to their industry and their needs.
But that same passion for growth and that same enthusiasm that we have for us, we give to all of our clients. It’s fun.
Jeff: Awesome. Now we throw the word around “growth”. But what exactly does that mean for you? How has that looked for you in terms of tangible results? Can you give me kind of a scenario where a client came to you and says, “Hey, Joelle, we need this. We want to grow this,” and then you made that happen for them or even with your own business? Where did you start and then doing what you got to kind of the next level of growth?
Joelle: OK, yeah. I mean I could tell you a story about my very first client. It’s a pretty funny story. So signed the client, our very first client before we’re even a company and check in hand and she told me, “Joelle, I really need you to come through for this, because my business is depending on it because where I was at before, we relied a lot on search engine traffic for sales. I know that SEO is going to make or break us. So this is basically up to you.”
So I had all this pressure on me. I’m like wow, now this is real. I’m no longer doing SEO for a company in-house but people are relying on me. So that’s a lot of pressure on you.
I mean this doesn’t happen all the time but we were able to get them ranked within a couple of weeks number one for their main keyword and here in Miami. Then it’s a local hair salon but they specialize in hair extensions. So that was our first client. We started somewhere. Hair extensions are obviously expensive, so each one is a few thousand dollars and they got a great ROI.
So just being able to see that growth and profits for them right away was great for us because we immediately got that confidence and then since then, we’ve been working with social media software companies, large entertainment companies, to all help them grow. We identify that growth through a discovery phase in which we first discuss with them. What’s your conversion rate now? How much traffic do you need and able to get to your goals? So we set a goal aligned with their monetary goals and the branding goals.
So growth is a very broad term, I know. But I think it perfectly shows the direction that marketing is going because we all know that there are a lot of internet marketers out there or SEO guys. They just talk about rankings, likes, shares, plus ones.
But when it comes down to it, it’s really about sales, right? How can we identify the holistic view of your online presence and growth to get the sales and the goals that we want?
Jeff: Right. You’re on point Joelle and I think that’s the reason you’ve been so successful in the field because you focus on that end result, the ROI. We’re going to be growing what? Growing sales, right? Growing awareness, market shares, a lot of things that we can grow. But usually what matters the most to the client is, “Are we growing our revenue?” Are we growing? Are profits going?
That’s key. In the case of this woman, it saved her, right? Her business could have maybe gone downhill. She didn’t have enough to survive. But because she invested in you and you invested in the right marketing tactics, she was able to grow her business to where now she’s making substantial income and she’s getting more clients, et cetera. So whether you’re a hair salon or whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, you’re focused on that ROI, on bottom line. What are we going to walk away with if we’re going to do all this different marketing stuff?
So what’s kind of your process in determining that? I know not every client that comes to you, you’re going to be able to deliver an ROI or a revenue growth or profit growth. I mean I’m sure you’re going to look for a way to help them. But what’s kind of your process in determining OK, I could – this is a good account for me. I could help this client out. Maybe this account, maybe this is not the best fit for us.
Joelle: Right. Well, I mean when you’re – so for anyone who’s listening who’s just starting out in an agency or thinking about starting an agency or a consultant service, I think it’s really important to be very selective with who you work with like you said, but also when you work with someone, let them know ahead of time that the first few weeks or the first month, month and a half will be a lot of research and goal determination and discovery. What’s the point of bringing a whole bunch of traffic to someone’s site if that’s not going to get to their goal?
Maybe you brought a whole bunch of great consumer traffic but they are focusing on B to B because that’s going to give them better ROI. So, if you can spend a time and that really has to do with the client. Can the client afford for you to research and do discover?
Once we kind of started doing that instead of going headfirst into a campaign that we know will work. But if it’s not aligned with their goals, they’re not going to get the best results. So once you determine all the goals and then you find out what happens if you hit those goals. What happens if you don’t? What happens to the client personally if you hit the goals? What happens if you blow the goals out of the water?
If you keep asking those questions, lay it on the table, so that you know how much you can quantify, how much traffic you need, the conversion rate you need to succeed, to get to those goals, then your life will be a lot easier going forward.
Jeff: Excellent. I would like to make the analogy to kind of someone that’s going to be working out right. So right now we’re close to the New Year’s, a lot who will make the resolution. Hey, I want to lose weight. I want to go and look better.
So before you start working out, just like what you do in SEO, you have to assess where are you right now. So you step on the scale. Do your body fat testing. You look at your eating habits. You figure out OK, this is where we’re at.
Then you determine your goal. OK, based on where I’m at, this is where I want to be in 30 days, in 90 days, in 180 days. When you start working out, you don’t see results immediately, right?
It’s the same thing for SEO or for online marketing. You don’t start tomorrow and all of a sudden your sales are just flowing in. Sometimes that might happen, right? There might be a very slim chance of that occurring.
But more than likely, it’s going to take some time for you to build the right habits first and then those right habits will produce the results and then 30 days from now, just like you and your working out, you should be looking at your workout, looking at your eating habits and figuring out, “OK, what could we do better? What’s really not working? What can we tweak?” Even you might plateau. You might get only so many amounts of results and then you got to completely change what you’re doing to break through that plateau.
So SEO and online marketing, very similar structure, right? How does your evaluation go, Joelle? What are some of the things that clients in 30, 90 days are looking at? How do you determine OK, this is what we need to do, and fix or build upon to get that client even more results?
Joelle: Well, I mean the first step would be taking a baseline of where the – like you said, with the workout analogy, where are you now? So that takes a little bit of time to get all that data together.
Jeff: What do you look at? What kind of data do you look at for that assessment? Like where are they at …
Joelle: We look at the current website, if they have one. Most of them do and then traffic to their website, keywords that they’re ranking for, what’s working well for them. So we kind of apply the 80-20 rule. So what 20 percent of the things are they doing that’s bringing them 80 percent of revenue and how can we optimize for that? What their current conversion rate is.
So most clients, they understand that it’s a long term thing but they will be really grateful if we can provide results as soon as we can. So we try to also – with the long term in mind, we try to identify some quick wins. So maybe for example LinkedIn, it is a great a referral for B to B sales.
They have great conversion rate but they’re not investing that much in it. So we will go ahead and we will optimize for that in the short term until the rest of the online marketing strategies kind of come about.
Jeff: Perfect. I want to give a special shout out to Lisa Goldberg. She’s watching us right now Joelle and she’s really liking the stories that we’re telling. She says that she’s having a good time. So I appreciate Lisa. Thank you for the continued support and for jumping on this hangout.
Joelle: Thanks Lisa.
Jeff: Let’s talk about some of the tactics that you use. Now that we’ve done the assessment, we’ve figured out OK, these are the weaknesses. These are your strengths. This is where you’re at now. Let’s talk about getting that client to where they want to be which is usually ranking for certain keywords that you determine. We need to improve that. Maybe fixing their website, doing some optimization on their site, building out some of the marketing infrastructure to support your plan, your strategy.
But let’s talk about those actual tactics that you use and of course I know they vary per client but give me some examples of tactics that you see working now for your clients, for SEO, for engagement, for conversions.
Joelle: Yeah. So this is the part where it gets fun, right? So I mean I love talking to clients. I love finding out their needs and their problems and going forward with that. But this is kind of my bread and butter of the strategies from all the late nights testing sites, you know. This is kind of the geeky stuff that we get into, but that’s what I love.
So first off, as a lot of people know now, content marketing is the new SEO, right? So it’s not good enough to just optimize your meta information and then throw some links towards your site with keyword anchor texts, to your home page or whatever page you want and hope for the best.
You need to have a holistic view of online marketing when it comes to SEO and then manifest that through content marketing.
So what we will do is we’re big believers in the proliferation of content. So I will explain what that means. So let me put it in an example for what we would do for us or for the client.
So we will make an info graphic for let’s say Jeff Zelaya. He’s my client. I make an info graphic for you Jeff and then we will make that – the topic of that info graphic will be researched based on the questions that your target audience is asking online.
So we will do that research, find out what they want to know and make an info graphic for it. So that info graphic is also a blog post. Then the info graphic, we can also slice up and make it into a SlideShare presentation. Then we could record that SlideShare presentation and put it on YouTube just like this right now. This will later be a YouTube video.
Then you could also even extract the audio from that YouTube video and make it to a podcast. So from that one piece of content, you got an info graphic that you syndicate. So that’s a whole bunch of links there.
Then you have a blog post that you can market. You share and that’s a whole bunch of links there. SlideShare them and just – so for each piece of content, you have the potential for tons of links and shares and engagement.
That’s from that one topic. So we’re firm believers in creating content and quality content trumps creating lots of content. We will create quality content for a client. We will spend the time on marketing that content, get the most engagement and most links out of it until we feel that we need to move on to the next.
So we like to create that evergreen type of content that you can consistently get traffic from. So we have clients that from their first info graphic, they’re consistently getting traffic.
So that’s the proliferation of content. So how do we market that? We do it through outreach. So our outreach, we want to get traffic obviously and engagement. But also we want to get links, like I said.
So why only focus on links when you could do the link building and then drive traffic at the same time? So our outreach strategy is – like I said, we make content around the topic and then we [0:18:22] [Indiscernible]. Well, if it’s info graphic, there’s a process and we got this from Neil Patel’s blog, Quick Sprout. If anyone needs a crash course on online marketing, read up on that blog. It has great videos and all that. It’s really an amazing resource but they have an awesome info graphic marketing post which helps us out a lot. So we use that.
Those guidelines to syndicate the info graphics, the info graphic sites. We also send – I will send that out to blog posts that we think people are interested and then also what we do is we find 20 to 30 social media accounts and blogs that are around that client’s industry. So we have someone find 20 Twitter accounts that are related to let’s say Jeff Zelaya, 20 LinkedIn groups, 20 Facebook groups, 20 blogs. Reach out to them and say, “Hey, we have this info graphic. It is related to this blog post that you wrote December 22nd. Would you please share this with your audience or post it on your blog?”
So, I know this is a lot. But in a nutshell, it’s creating quality content. It’s getting the most out of that content and instead of only worrying about links, you get links by engaging and by outreach. So you build those relationships and then down the line, you can leverage those relationships for links in the future
We’ve seen great success with that with just a few pieces of content. Our clients were able to rank for their most competitive keywords because we really get the most out of each piece of content.
Jeff: Right. And guys, people watching this, what Joelle is saying is this stuff works. I mean this is not things that he’s making up. This is a proven process and I personally have benefited from info graphics and from the content marketing of a really good info graphic with my company Miami Public Speakers. I commissioned Lion Fuse Digital. Great guys if you’re looking for help with info graphics. They specialize in the good design work. They’re also [0:20:31] [Inaudible] by the way Joelle, Lion Fuse Digital.
They made this info graphic for me on the fear of public speaking. Now the website is a speaker’s bureau, right? So it’s in the same industry and the reason we did it on that topic is because it’s the topic that’s frequently being searched. People have a big fear of public speaking. They’re looking for ways to overcome their fear. So we wanted to be ranking for a lot of those keywords associated with that.
So the info graphic, we got different facts, different quotes and in research. Put it together. They designed it. We got that info graphic. First thing I did was go to PRWeb and write, “Hey, we just got all this research, this great info graphic. This is really helpful for people that are trying to overcome their fear or want more information about the fear, the phobia of public speaking.”
Once that release went out, it was broadcasted to journalists, to bloggers. People start to use that info graphic and cited of course where they got it from. Now I’m getting links from all over and most of the people running these – posting these are speaking-related websites. So now you have all the speaking-related websites, business-related websites pulling back to where that info graphic is located, the main site, saying, “Hey guys, here’s an authority on public speaking.”
So now MiamiPublicSpeakers.com is ranking better for a lot of speaking-related keywords. Why? Because of a great piece of content sent out to the right people and now they’re using it and giving us credit. So everyone benefits, right? We get the information out. We have more traffic to our site and hopefully we’re going to be able to help people out because of that content. So yeah, it’s very focused on content, Joelle.
Now where do you get ideas from like talking to clients? I know that’s a struggle for people. What do we talk about? What makes content awesome? What makes it good? What makes it good enough that people want to share? What’s your take on that?
Joelle: OK. Well, that comes in the discovery part. So if they have a sales force, a good way to leverage that is you have your sales force ask questions. How are you enjoying the product? What problems are you having? What questions do you have about it?
You could always get those questions and spin them in a way to provide valuable content. Why did you choose us? Why did you need this service or why this product? What about us do you like the most?
So that’s a good way. Also a good way to identify different topics is to maybe get a list of your prospects’ social media accounts and then look at the types of content that they’re sharing on their Facebook, on their Twitter, on their LinkedIn and then if that’s the type of content that they’re sharing, then you know that’s the type of content that they want to see.
So you can create that same type of content and then reach out to them and tell them hey, you know, XYZ, we really think that you would like this piece of content. Then you’re already kind of pre – they’re warm because you’re creating something that you know that they like.
Jeff: That’s great, Joelle. I think that’s another – you hit on a point. Look at what’s already out there. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are people out there that have already produced great content and sometimes all you need to do is take that idea and just make it way better or get inspired by it and do the other side of the idea. Of course cite credit where you need to. But looking at what is good and what’s working and then drawing from that to create your own content is one way that has been working for some of the clients that are maybe less creative or having that challenge of knowing, “What do I talk about?”
But like you said, sometimes the best source of knowing what to talk about is your own customers, your own clients. Go to them. Interview them. Survey them.
Chances are if they – if you see the same question popping up all the time, maybe do a blog post addressing that question. Do an info graphic addressing that question. Next time those people go to Google and type that question. Maybe because your content is so good and it answers the question that really people have and focus on creating content for online, now you’re ranking number one. Now you’re finding a lot of customers that are similar to the customers you have now.
So all great ideas. Thank you Joelle for sharing. Now tell me about how people could get in touch with you. They’re watching this video. They love the knowledge, the great insight that you’re sharing. How can they get the opportunity to work with Joelle?
Joelle: OK. Well, I’m going to give them my Twitter. It’s @JoelleAyala. So it’s just basically at my name. That’s a really great way to get a hold of me. I’m active on Twitter and social media. You could also get a hold of me through email, so that’s Joelle@WebPhenoms.com.
Jeff: Awesome. Then any last minute thoughts Joelle? Like if someone is watching this that are brand new to SEO, give them kind of that one tip that could help them at least get started in the right direction. What would be that number one tip for someone that’s brand new to SEO and just getting started?
Joelle: I would say it never hurts to practice. Practice makes perfect. So we’ve built a lot of strategies just like a lot of online marketers through practicing different techniques. So create a website. Create two websites. Create five websites and research cool plugins that could help with your content marketing. Research different SEO strategies and just keep on creating content and leveraging your networks to link to you and maybe you can come up with a better strategy than what we have just because it’s all at your fingertips. Create like I said in the beginning and then leverage that creativity for marketing and sales. So I would say my first tip would just to be create a website. Practice.
Jeff: Awesome. I think that never – as a tip, that never gets old, right? Even when you’re an experienced marketer like Joelle or myself, you still got to practice. You got to experiment. You got to try different things and take risks and I think that’s what makes marketers good and it keeps them on the cutting edge. You can’t be a leader without taking some kind of risk and experimenting and practicing like Joelle has stated.
So a really good tip. Thank you Joelle for sharing that and thanks for watching everyone that took the time to check out this hangout. Thank you so much. We will keep bringing some more of these in the future. We will invite Joel back and go do some more stuff. He’s actually going to be moving to my neck of the woods here in the Baltimore DC area. So I’m very excited to have Joelle. But turn around now and say goodbye to that because there’s none of that over here.
Joelle: That’s it. Just one more week of that. But I will always come back. It will be nice but just thanks everyone for watching. I really enjoyed my time here with you Jeff. Thanks again.
Jeff: Thanks again man. No, thank you. I will be waiting for you here at the airport with some hot chocolate and a big old parka sweater. So …
Joelle: Appreciate it. I’m looking forward to it. So now [0:28:21] [Indiscernible] I’m not into that cold weather.
Jeff: Well, thank you so much everyone. Have a great night and thanks again. Bye-bye.
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