Enterprise SEO Australia with James Norquay

C: Joining me on today’s podcast is an Australian man called James Norquay. James, thank you very much for coming onto the podcast. We should’ve probably done this in person when we met up in Glasgow a month or so ago. I’m not sure why I didn’t have the foresight to do that. We could have done it in the pub.

J: Yeah, exactly. No, we could’ve definitely done it in Glasgow when we met up, but we’re here now anyway.

C: That’s it. So, for anyone who’s not sure of what you are, what you do, and all that kind of stuff, can you just give the audience a bit of background about what you’re doing?

About James Norquay

J: I’ve been doing SEO for 14 years now. So, I started many years ago, I had a network of sites that were pretty much just monetized through SEO traffic. We got over 25 million visitors from Google to those sites. Then yeah, I was living with my parents at that time, and I was buying expensive cars and having all this money coming in from somewhere, and people were saying, “Where are you getting all this money?” They thought I was up to something shifty that, “No,” I said, “I’m making money online with SEO and things like that.” So yeah, then I went and my parents were like, “You better go and get a real job.” So I went and got a job at a big media agency. This was back in 2008, 2009. They wanted to start an SEO division, so they were looking for someone young and who knew SEO at the time and I was the person for the job.

J: So I started that and then, yeah, I was working on some really big brands in Australia, and then in 2012 I left there and started our own company, Prosperity Media. So we got a team in Sydney, we’re an SEO agency primarily, and yeah, we’ve been doing SEO. I run a conference in Sydney now, I’ve got a big meet up with 3200 people. So yeah, there’s a lot happening.

C: It’s funny, going back to what you said at the start, I remember when I first started out online and started getting better cars and that, my wife’s grandfather said to me, he says, “Craig, I really like you, you’re a great guy, but I know you’re up to no good. You don’t come into all this money. I know that something funny’s going on.” He says, “I don’t want to come and visit you in jail, stop whatever it is you’re doing.” And I was massively offended. He thought I was a drug dealer. Give me a pat on the back and say, “Well done, you’re doing something well.” But I think even now some people look at you as if there’s no way. I’m probably your stereotypical drug dealer anyway, shorts and a hoodie.

C: One thing in life I like’s a nice car, and I’ve got a nice car, but you see people looking at me falling out the car half asleep with shorts and a hoodie on and you can just see them looking at me going, “Oh.” And I think my tattoos and stuff don’t really give off the right image as well, but it’s weird that you say that, that you’ve also had that at the start as well as me.

J: Yeah, it’s one of those things. I think many years ago, we’re talking 10+ years ago, 15 years ago, people didn’t know and could understand how you can make money online, and how you can make money through SEO and affiliate marketing and stuff like that, and it was still quite a new area, especially in Australia. So if you’re young and you come into all this money all of a sudden, people start to say, “Oh, what’s he doing?” Like, “He can’t be making that type of money.” They don’t get it. So I totally get it, yeah, it’s crazy.

C: Looking back, it probably does look very, very suspicious, and even now, I’ve got friends that have been in the industry for two, three, four years and they’re earning really good money and you look at them going, “Jeez.” They are just big fancy watches, and designer clothes and all that stuff. And you’re like, “Jeez, we do look like dodgy guys.” But that’s just public perception.

C: So, I think, I’ve been in this industry 17 years, so I think we’re a similar age and we’ve been in the industry a similar amount of time, and I think obviously when I met you in Glasgow we had a good conversation about experiences and what we’ve done and stuff, so I think we’ve done a lot of the same stuff and have a lot of the same opinions on a lot of the stuff as well. So yeah, but you’ve obviously stuck in with the agency side of things. How is that all going?

Getting Enterprise SEO Clients

J: Yeah, we’ve been doing the agency stuff for just over seven years now. So agency life definitely has its ups and downs. You work with some good clients, and then you work with some sometimes not so good clients, but I think we’re pretty picky on who we pick as clients, and yeah, we try to go for more larger enterprise businesses. That’s where I feel our team really specializes. So I’ve got a lot of experience, and some of the other team members have worked with a lot of larger companies, so that’s an area that we really do well in. We also do mid-tier companies, but we don’t really do small businesses.

J: So sometimes you can get contacted by a small business and they can get a bit angry if you say, “Look, we don’t work with small businesses.” It’s a tricky kind of conversation you’ve got to dance around, and you’ve got family friends and whatnot that sometimes might want you to help them out on their site. I still love to give advice, but I’m pretty straight up with people and just say, “Look, I can give you this advice for free. I can write you up an email of all these things that you can do.” But in terms of doing the job, if it’s 500 bucks a month, we can’t do it. We’ve got other tasks that are more time-consuming jobs. So it’s a tricky one.

Saying No to certain clients

C: But it makes perfect sense. I think one of my failures when I had the agency, and I don’t mind saying, I had an agency, it wasn’t a failure as a business as such, but for me, looking back on it, it was a failure because I took on a lot of those smaller clients, and because of that I struggled to scale, and I got bogged down with all the usual stuff you get with smaller clients, and crazy expectations. They want too much value for their money and stuff like that.

C: So I think, obviously, the way you’re doing it, working with the bigger clients who have the budget to be able to get the level of service that people would come to expect, is certainly a much better business model than the one I had, where I was just basically taking people’s money. I had a figure I had to make so that everyone got paid and all the overheads were paid and everything else, and I was more focused on that figure, rather than the deliverables as such, and it obviously wasn’t a good way to run a business. It was very stressful and everything else. So I totally get it when you’re staying away from those smaller clients, because they don’t pay the bills, and you do need people, to be able to offer a good service and retain your company reputation and stuff, you have to be working with those bigger guys.

C: But, the problem for me was getting those bigger guys. So have you got any tips? How do you get into the bigger clients? Is there a trick, a tip, or are you just lucky? How’s that working?

J: Yeah, so winning bigger clients, it does take a lot of time, and I think the thing was, working in another large media company was fortunate for me, because I did four years there, and basically I made a lot of contacts. So I worked in an agency where they had about 50 something also people doing PPC. So all these people that were doing PPC, I got on with a lot of them, and I basically trained them all up on SEO. So I basically ran my own little lunch workshops, and when people wanted to learn about SEO, I was the go-to guy.

J: So I had made a lot of contacts in that business over those four years, and that was lucky because through those four years at that large agency, that large media company, I was basically able to, when I left and started my own agency, all these people left, and they’d gone on, and they were working in house at different organizations. When they needed SEO I was the guy to call up, and that was very fortunate. And we’ve been able to do some very strong partnerships off the back of that, so definitely partnerships are so crucial.

How to Win Big SEO Clients in Australia?

J: If you’ve got some good mates in the industry, and you partner up with them, and you say, “If I scratch your back and you scratch mine, we’ll send leads your way. This way, if someone needs SEO, give us a shout.” Type thing. That is crucial for an agency. If you’re an agency you’ve got to be building partnerships, you’ve got to be networking, you’ve got to be out there, and some of the biggest clients that we’ve one is just through going to industry events, and just having a few beers. People will roll into the event, and then you supply them a few beers and talk some industry smack, as we like to say in the office, and yeah, you make a personal connection.

J: You connect on LinkedIn and then you say, “Hey, look, who’s doing your SEO at the moment?” And they’re like, “Well, we’ve got this agency and they’re doing a shit job. Can you guys help us out?” And yeah, that’s how we won some really big jobs, just through networking, partnerships. We also, I do a lot of industry events, talking at conferences and things like that.

J: Sometimes you can get big clients that way. Like, I remember many years ago I did a talk at a large conference, and I think three months later a massive client, like I’m talking a client that’s one of the 10th largest sites in Australia hit me up and was like, “Love the talk, get in contact.” So, you’ve got to be doing everything. You’ve got to be out there, you’ve got to be visible, you’ve got to be building partnerships, you’ve got to be networking. And there’s also an element of sales in there. You’ve got to be doing sales too, but it’s got to be targeted sales. A lot of agencies make the mistake where they just have a scattergun approach, and they’ll just email thousands of businesses and hope that someone replies. When we do sales, it’s very targeted.

C: I think when I had my agency, I wanted to be the guy that worked in the background. Because I was the SEO guy, I had a sales guy that was the account manager and the face of the company if you like, and I wasn’t speaking at events, I wasn’t networking, and now all I do is really speak at events and networking, and I can see the massive benefits of doing that, but I did it all back to front. I wish … I don’t wish obviously, but I think I can see the benefits of doing that and totally relate to that, rather than I was just the agency that had a sales guy, and it was just, I just wasn’t getting the cracks, or the opportunities that I would have liked to have potentially made it more worthwhile.

C: It was just a constant slog for me, and as I say, I didn’t do any networking, no speaking, no nothing, and it wasn’t until I gave up the agency side of things that I did have the time to be able to network and speak, and do all the stuff that I do now.

C: But I definitely 100% agree, get your backside out there and talking to people, that’s where a lot of the stuff happens. But I’ve got a question for you; obviously you work with large clients, and that’s the dream for everyone. In reality, large clients means more account management, more reporting, and all that kind of stuff.

C: Are you able to give a rough percentage of when you’re dealing with a larger client, what percentage of the client’s budget goes into account management and reporting, against a budget that goes in to actual deliverables, getting content or doing audits and implementing stuff or whatever? Is it 50/50? Or just a rough guide.

J: Depends on the client, depends on how much support certain clients need. Usually the larger the client, the more in house people they have. We’ve got clients that have 40 people working on content SEO in the business, so they need a lot of training. So things like that, like it could be an 80/20, in terms of deliverables, that’s the 80%, and then 20% is like client management, responding to emails, going in there once a month for a company wide meeting and getting everyone in a boardroom and just talking about SEO for two hours, and having a clear action plan for that business as well, and just showing what’s been done in the last month.

J: That’s one thing that we always try to do with our bigger clients, is just have a meeting face to face once a month, and just get into a boardroom and just show what’s been done in the last month, go over that with everyone, and then just talk about does anyone have any questions and things like that, just to try and champion SEO in the business as well.

C: Yeah. See when you’re having these conversations with the bigger clients, we’ve all had clients and we’re all like, “I’m not telling the client exactly what I’m doing.” I’ll talk about the keywords, the rankings and maybe conversions, or whatever it might be. Are you going in there to the bigger clients with a more transparent approach than that? Telling them that “We have built 21 links this months, and we have done an audit and we’ve implemented all these changes.” Are you actually going to that level of documenting everything?

Client Transparency

J: Yeah, usually we’re pretty transparent with bigger clients. That’s why they come to us, they want the transparency. So in terms of deliverables and actionable items and things like that, we’ll have the project plan, and we’ll have the audits and things, and we’ll go over that by priority, like what’s the highest values things that can be implemented? If it’s a bigger client, usually there’s a bit of a delay in terms of getting things implemented. So they’ll have Jira tickets running and things like that. So you might have to, like if you’ve got a really great thing that you want to implement, depending on what type of CMS they’re using, because the larger the client, usually the more complex the CMS is going to be.

J: So sometimes it can take three months, six months even to get something implemented, but if it’s a quick fix, you can get it done quickly. Usually we try to itemize technical audits by the highest priority, to give them a few things they can work on upfront, and then say, “These are the things that we can work out as you go.”

J: So, that’s the best thing you can do for bigger clients, because sometimes if you go … I see these people, these other agencies, and they do an audit, it’s like a 50-page report and they’ve got 200 deliverable items and they’re talking about changing an old tag on a page. An enterprise client isn’t going to give a shit about an old tag. What they’re going to look for are big technical changes that are going to have a massive impact. Big issues, that’s what they want. They don’t give a shit about an old tag on a page. So, that’s always crazy when I look at the big ones and say, “This is what our last media company did.” And you’re like, “What is this?” I don’t even want to read this, the client doesn’t want to read it. They just want easy to read, quick and actionable tips. That’s what we do.

C: Obviously that all sounds good and well, but I’ve worked with a few bigger clients in my time, and obviously getting things approved or to get the budget to do certain things, or whatever it may be, is a ball ache at times. How do you manage, as you said there, sometimes if you’ve got an idea are something you want to implement, it can take two, three months to get put in place, but what I’ve always found is, something else crops up and you forget about that thing if it’s not done instantaneously. I’m a scatterbrain and stuff like that, but I know you’ve probably got a good CMS, what is that CMS?

C: How are you able to keep on top of, because obviously you’re dealing with multiple clients and bigger clients, and you’re speaking to one client where you might need a budget for some development stuff or whatever it might be, and it takes two months to pass. Is it just as simple as just a good CMS, or is there more to it?

J: Well, usually you want to have really good project management, and you want to have a team that can follow up on things, because I think you’re right in the sense that a lot of SEOs, they’ll do a piece of work and then they’ll forget about it, and then all of this other stuff will come up, and they’ll be like, “Oh, have you implement FAQ Schema?” For example, and you’re like, “Well, what about the technical audit? Because some of those items are going to have more impact.” So definitely you’ve got to continuously be following up with clients. I find that’s something we try to do every three months. We’ll revisit the main audit we’ve done, as an ongoing thing. Like every month send them one or two big technical issues that we’ve picked up.

J: So yeah, it’s an ongoing thing. You’ve got to be constantly keeping clients updated. And in terms of CMSes, the bigger the client, sometimes they get stuck on these CMSes and it can be hard to change, so that’s a tricky conversation. Usually, like if it’s a small business you can just say, “Go on to WordPress.” Or if it’s eCommerce, Shopify, magenta. But yeah, when it’s a bigger client, usually they’re onto some longterm deal where they can’t get out of the CMS, so it’s a tricky conversation.

C: Yeah. That sounds like the ball ache I thought it would’ve been. But it’s interesting to hear how you deal with it. On a personal level, I’m assuming you’re not doing all of that work. You’ve got project managers in place and you’re delegating a lot of this stuff.

J: Yeah, yeah.

Delegating to your staff

C: I found it very hard because I was trying to do everything when I had the agency, and I wanted to be in control of everything, and I think that was obviously the wrong thing to do. I’d just like to know, are you delegating a lot of it? You’ve just surrounded yourself with good people, and people you can trust, and let them account manage and look after the majority of that stuff. Is that exactly how you’re working?

J: Yeah, exactly. We’ve got a team, so we’ve got 10 people that assist with different projects. So yeah, we don’t really do the whole account management thing. Usually the way that we do things is we have SEO specialists, SEO managers, etc., etc. They do client management and they do a lot of the implementation. I don’t know, I know some businesses and agencies, they love doing account managers, and then technical implementation, and then other teams, and this and that.

J: But I don’t know, I’m always just a fan of whoever’s doing the job can also talk to the client. I feel like they get the answers quicker. Some of the clients that we work with, they want quick answers, they don’t want to beat around the bush and they don’t want to talk to someone who says, “Oh, I don’t have that information now, I’m going to have to go back to the team.” It creates extra layers, but it’s one of those conversations, and yeah, that’s just we’ve found what works and usually, the best thing any agency can do is really work on your process documents.

SEO Agencies Need Processes

J: When we started off we didn’t have any process documents, and we’ve slowly been building them up, and there’s still more to do. Really, if you’re running an agency, you’ve got to have a process for everything, because a client can potentially ask a complex question, like they could say anything, like, “What if we want to put our whole site on noarchive, meta tag or whatever, because we don’t want Google crawling the site.” The, if a junior SEO gets that question and then they’re like, “Oh shit, what does that mean?” And they start going on Google and searching, they might not get the right answer. So, if you make a process document for something like that, for every potential question, it can really help the team. So, just from anything, running a site, or just any type of task that people are doing we’re trying to make process documents fr everything. Just because it helps both senior and junior staff as well. So yeah.

C: I think there’s a lot to be said for having those processes in place. Again, something I never had, which is why I was probably a failure. But no, I think having processes in place seems to be the norm. Are your processes video based, or is it text documents, or what are you giving people? I’m assuming it’s going to be a mixture of both, right?

J: No, we’re just doing mostly text at the moment with images and stuff. We have a few videos, but yeah, I feel like at the moment it’s like, no I need to send text. Some people do videos, others, they’ll do whatever, but I definitely feel like we potentially could do more videos. Even like if we have someone new start, I’ll usually do a two or three-hour training course with them, just go over some of the 101s and just different processes and whatnot. When you do that you don’t record it, but then when you think back you’re like, “Oh shit, I should’ve recorded all this, because I just did a three-hour course, and I’ve got the damn video recorder there.”

J: So, it’s just sometimes you forget to do those type of things. But definitely I think video’s good, but we’re not doing enough at the moment, we’re doing a lot of text and images, but in due course, we’re going to do more of that because yeah, I think you’ve got to be doing everything. That’s the problem with the agency, you’ve got to be doing a lot of stuff. You’ve got to be managing clients, you’ve got to be managing the finances, you’ve got to be hiring, you’ve got to be firing. There’s a lot of stuff you’ve got to deal with. The bigger the agency gets, the more dramas you’ve got to deal with too.

Hiring and Firing Digital Teams

C: We’ll talk about what you said there, hiring and firing. That was one of the things I absolutely hated doing. I hate … I don’t mind hiring people, that’s always a reasonably easy job, but it was just the whole getting rid of people. I was always, my wife said, “You’re too soft, you’ve held onto that person for too long, and you’ve given them too many opportunities.” How do you find it, do you struggle with the firing side of things, or are you trigger happy, quite happy to just get rid?

J: To be honest with you, some of the staff that work for me, they say, “Yeah, you are sometimes nice, a little bit too nice.” But I hear you, we’ve had to let go of some people in the past, and it’s hard. As a business owner, when you’ve got someone working for you, and you’ve got to make that tricky call, and if it’s not working out, you’ve just got to do it. You’re just going to have to step up and let them go, and I think the best thing you can always do is have a good probation period when you hire someone new, because when you hire someone, people can check out in interviews, you can check their references, they can be glowing.

J: I think you’ve always got to have at least three or four months probation and really see how they are in that first three months because if they don’t work out, you’ve just got to move forward. As a business, if someone’s not working out, I think you’ve just got to be straight up with them and say, “Look, it’s not working out. The business is going in a different direction. Thank you for your time.” You’ve just got to step up as a business owner.

SEO Interview techniques

J: It is very hard though to let people go, but it’s just one of those parts of the business. I mean you hear people say, “Hire slow and fire fast.” But it is true. You’ve really got to check everyone’s references, you’ve got to get people in for two interviews at a minimum, you’ve got to really think about different questions, and even, I had a really good mentor and one of his tactics was got someone in for an interview, and then at the second interview get them up at the pub and just have a few beers and see how they are, if having a drink or whatnot, if they’re female have a wine or whatnot, just see how they are. Bring some of the team up and see what type of person they are, because if they’re going to be working in your office five days a week, you want to know what they’re going to be like, and it’s a cheap little hiring tactic. So yeah.

C: That’s interesting because something you said just a minute or so ago is the probation period and stuff. What I’ve felt in the past is I’ve hired someone looking at their CV and based on the half-hour or hour interview that we had with that particular person, and more times than not when they’re two or three weeks into their job, that’s when you start to see their bad habits, their bad attitude coming out, and laziness and various other aspects, when you do hire the wrong type of person.

J: So I think that is a great little way to look at it, is get them down the pub and get them to relax a bit and find out who they are as people, because what a lot of people don’t understand is, by the time you interview 10, 15, 20 people to find the right person, it’s a lot of time and effort, and to then pick the wrong person and then have to do the whole process again, time and time again.

C: So I think taking them down the pub certainly is a cheaper, more cost-effective option. And something I’ve never actually done. I was basically hiring people and not really … there was nothing else for me to gauge it on other than what they were telling me to my face and how I felt they were at the interview, but people are obviously nervous at interviews, and they’ll say anything to get a job, and again, staffing was something that I had a real struggle with. Yeah, but it’s, I think, as you say, taking them down the pub, or doing something else, rooting around, rummaging about to find out more about them, certainly a good way to look at it.

J: Yeah, you really have to ask some unique questions as well, just things like are you a team player? And how do you go with a team? And just things like that. You really want to get people that fit in, and I think that is, culture’s very important as well. You want to have a company where people want to work, so we do company events every month and things like that, and we try to make it fun. We’re pretty flexible in working hours, and like if people want to work from nine till five, or ten till six, we’re pretty flexible like that. I didn’t want to make a business where you have to rock up at nine o’clock, and if you don’t rock up at nine o’clock you’re going to be in the firing line type thing. That’s one thing that we do. So, I think as a business owner you’ve got to be flexible, but in the same sense, staff have to know what’s right and wrong, and they’ve got to step up when it’s the time to step up as well. So yeah.

4-day working week in Digital Marketing

C: I mean, I’m not sure I would totally agree with the model that you’re doing, certainly not in the UK. I’ve been flexible, and people have basically just ripped the piss right out of me, and I’ve also got a friend, I’m not going to name who it is, but he got his staff down to a four day working week, gave them Friday off, and what he found from that experiment was they were actually just doing four days work and he was getting robbed as a day, whereas they were meant to ram five days work into four days and stuff. So, I’m not sure being flexible often in a nice working environment is the best option. I’ve heard a lot of negative stuff from it, but it’s working for you. You guys in Australia might be. able to do it. People in the UK sometimes just need a rocket up their ass, and basically be told, “Be in at nine or you’re fired.”

J: Yeah. No, I think in Australia it is a bit more … I think it is a culture like that, especially in media agencies. A lot of media agencies have a 9:30 start and things like that, and it is a bit more relaxed, and a lot of agencies do, they’ll do the early finish on Friday during summer, finish work at two o’clock type thing, go down to Bondi beach, whatever. That’s pretty common. It’s pretty flexible here, but I hear you, in different parts of the world things are going to be different. So yeah, it’s one of those things. And a lot of companies in Australia are also testing that four-day working week. It’s tricky for me because I always thought, like every day I’ve got people that want to have meetings, and I don’t know what day we’d take off, that’s the thing. I’ve heard about that, and you’ve heard the positive and the negative. I’ve definitely seen both sides of it, so agree 100%, you’re right.

C: UK people seem to be a bit lazier maybe. Bondi beach, and chilling out in the sun, and giving people a bit more relaxation, and they act a bit more normal over there. But yeah, getting the normal, hardworking, reliable staff’s never easy.

After Hours SEO Work

J: Oh, it’s hard. It’s hard everywhere. The thing is, you want staff that they’re going to be passionate about SEO, they’re people that are going to do the hours, and the thing about SEO as well, it’s a job where you’ve got to do the after-hour work as well. You’ve got to read the blogs, you’ve got to get on Twitter, you’ve got to get on Reddit, you’ve got to get on slack groups, you’ve got to do that shit after work as well, because if you’re not, it’s part of the job. You’ve got to put in that after-hours work. You’ve got to go to the events and things like that, you’ve got to network. I feel like if you want to be a great SEO, you’ve got to put in the after-hours work as well, and that’s where a lot of people, you say to them, “Are you willing to put in the after hours work? Are you going to be willing to read some blogs?” And a lot of them are just like, “No, I don’t want to do that. What do you mean?” So it’s tricky.

C: I think you’re 100% spot on. When I was learning SEO and developing, it was pretty much a full-on obsession, if you like. I was up at three in the morning reading shit and talking on forums and stuff, back in the day when forums was a thing, rather than the groups on social media and stuff, when I was learning SEO. But same kind of thing, you had to be on there. I spent a lot time doing that stuff, but it pays off in the end, and I think if anyone else wants to really make it in the industry, certainly not a bad attitude to have is work after hours, go to the meetings, even just go and chat shit about stuff down the pub, or whatever, in local meetups or whatever.

J: Yeah, exactly.

C: On the local meetup conversation, I want to talk a bit about the meetup that you’ve got in Sydney. I’m coming over there in the … it’s at the start of February, is that correct?

J: Yeah. So, start of February, February 10th 2020, down in Sydney CVD. We’ve got, it’s an SEO and it’s a growth marketing conference. So we’re aiming to get around 200 people. We’re making the tickets affordable as, I think with a discount code I think the tickets are selling for 250 AUD, but with a discount 50 bucks off, they’re like $200. So making it as affordable as, and we’ve got Craig coming down from Glasgow, it’s going to be great. We’ve got Matt Diggity coming out from Chiang Mai, we’ve got Bernard Huang from Clearscope, he’s a gun. We’ve got guys from Australia, like Jared Codling, who he’s a big-time growth hacker, really knows his stuff, he’s a fantastic presenter. We’ve got a whole bunch of other … some of the speakers are a little bit lesser-known, but they’re really, really gun guys. We’ve got Kate Toon, she’s a fantastic SEO and content marketing speaker. We’ve got another mate of mine, Dennis, he’s a real gun, PPC and SEO guy. We’ve got Will Wang, he’s a big growth marketer in Sydney, and yeah, we’ve got an agency panel.

Sydney SEO Meetup/Conference

J: So it’s a one day conference, tried to pack as much value in there as possible, and just yeah, if anyone, doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you get a cheap flight down to Sydney, highly recommend it. February’s going to be a great time. Weather’s going to be around hopefully 30 degrees every day then, so if you want to picture yourself sitting on Bondi beach with a cold beer, and taking some photos for your friends back in London when it’s raining and they’re stuck in the two-degree weather, you can be chilling in Bondi beach. So yeah, look at some flights, because it’s going to be a good one, and yeah, we’re really excited to have you coming down, Craig, I’m looking forward to it, and yeah, just trying to put on a good event. So, yeah, I mean we’ve got an event next Wednesday night as well, with Olga from SEMrush as well, so that’s going to be a good one too. So, there are events happening everywhere, but just trying to give back to the community and put these on.

C: I think I’ve hosted my own local meetups here in Glasgow, and done one down south in Chester, and I think they’re great things to have, great community … You do a bit of work with these guys as well, you can uncover some rough gems, in terms of finding staff and stuff like that as well. So I think there’s a lot to be said for the meetups. Obviously, the one that I’m coming to, certainly a great lineup there. Matt Diggity, and Kate Toon, some of the other guys you mentioned. It sounds like it’s going to be an action-packed … because we’ve all got different angles. Diggity and his affiliate marketing, or whatever he’ll be talking about, and Kate Toon talking about content.

C: So, you seem to have good variety there as well, and I think there’s a lot of value to be had from these events, and although they are smaller, 200 people or whatever, we had a conversation prior to coming on to the podcast, and I was telling you that my preference is smaller events, because it’s more personal, you get to talk to more people, and sometimes you can … not for me, but certainly if you’re at an event and there are 2000 people there, you don’t really get to talk to the speakers, or the right people, sometimes you can end up getting left with a crazy guy at the back who’s chatting shit and has no money. So, I think at the smaller events you can work around that as well, and chat to the people that you really want to chat to as well.

J: Yeah, exactly, and you’re 100% right. Smaller conferences, I really love them as well. I’ve been to big conferences, and you’re right, sometimes there’s just too many people, it’s like a sea of people, and a lot of the bigger ones, they’re a bit of a sellout as well. They get all the big sponsors, and then you just hear sales pitch after sales pitch, and you’re like, “I just want people that are going to give me actionable tips that I can implement for my business, or some really great ideas.” And that’s why I’ve tried to pick out speakers that are going to give actionable advice. I’ve been getting hit up by sponsors and things like that, like, “Oh, can we sponsor your event?” But I’m just like, I’d rather, if you’re going to be a sponsor, you’re going to have to really give some actionable tips. I don’t want someone to come and give a sales pitch, I’d rather people get value. And the thing is, we don’t really care if we just break even on this event, because we just want to give back to the community, and meet some great people and things like that.

J: So that’s why we’re doing it. We’re not going to be doing this to make big money, event money. And that’s why the ticket price is saying that, it’s to get as many people in as possible, and Sydney’s got a really good SEO community, as does Melbourne in Australia as well. So there’s a lot of good people here, but there’s a lot of events, and the organizers really do charge an arm and a leg for the tickets. So we’re trying to make it affordable and action-packed as well, and have some of those more underground people speaking too, because they’re the ones that are really going to give the value too.

C: Yeah. I think always going for the big-name speakers is not always the best option. It’s certainly those underground guys that are doing the work in the trenches and whatnot that we do want to be having conversations with. Even as speakers, I speak at a lot of local meetups and stuff, but I still learn a lot from the guys that are also attending. And that’s what I’m always looking for, there’s got to be some value for me. So, doing meetups with those types of people is where it’s really at.

C: I’m looking forward to it, I’m more looking forward to the sunshine because it’s going to be a horrible couple of months of Scotland. An escape to your summer climates is certainly something I’ll be much looking forward to in February, because that’s us just coming out of the winter period here, and as you say, me taking pictures in Speedos to my mates back home on Bondi beach with a beer will certainly rub it in a bit. I’m not sure about the Speedos though, but I’ll stick to my shorts.

SEMrush in Australia

C: It sounds like a great event, and yeah, I think obviously you’re hosting events all the time anyway, so it’s not as if it’s going to be a new first-time event. You’ve obviously got Olga there next week, and you’ve done stuff in the past, and you’re attracting a lot of the right people as well. Olga’s someone I’ve worked closely with over the years at SEMrush and stuff, and for you to be able to pull those people over there, it’s quite a good thing for you as well, to be associated and be able to bring these speakers over, because it’s not that easy to be able … it’s all about your contacts, and that’s obviously coming from your networking and all the time you’ve probably spent doing stuff with SEMrush and whatever, that you’re now able to talk to these people and say, “Hey, come over here.” And it’s mutually beneficial because SEMrush of course want to keep their profile as high as they can in Australia as well.

J: Yeah. No, the thing is with the event next Wednesday with Olga, that actually came out … one of the staff members, Dayan, he helps run the SEO Sydney meetup, so SEMrush approached him said, “Yeah, can we run an event?” And I said to Dayan, I go, “I’ll help you get a lot more people to your event.” So I said, “Let’s partner up and run an event together.” And I said, “Well, I’ll put it on our meetup.” And then he’s got it on his as well, so then we’ve combined numbers. Just to get the numbers up, because if you’re coming from overseas you don’t want to speak to a room of 20 people.

J: So I said, “Let’s try and get 100 people at a minimum.” And we’ve got a mate of ours who runs an agency, Matt, he’s going to be talking about productivity in SEO as well, and productivity hacks and things like that. So he’s a really good speaker too, he’ll be speaking on the night. But that’s actually the day before the global marketing day with SEMrush, and I think Olga’s hosting the one in Sydney. So yeah, I’ll be on that with Pete and me. So looking forward to that, that’s going to be a great little event that SEMrush is putting on as well. So yeah, no, we’re looking forward to it.

Global Marketing Day SEMRush

C: Global marketing day, yeah I’m involved. I’m in the London office that day or the London studio, should I say. So it should be a lot of fun, and I don’t know what you guys have got set up over there, but we are literally going into a real studio to do this in London. It’s not like someone’s office, which I thought it was. I’m like, “Yeah.” I just assumed, because Ross Tavendale is the host, I just assumed it would’ve been Ross’s office, and it was only yesterday actually I was booking a flight down to London, and I Googled the studio and it came up saying such and such broadcast studio, and I’m like, “Fuck.” I didn’t realize we were actually going into a real studio. Makeup, and the hair people, and all that kind of stuff. So it should be a big day, and I think you’ve got Sydney, New York, us in London, and I think there are people in San Francisco as well. So I think, is it 24 hours or something like that it’s going on for?

J: Yeah, yeah, it’s 24 hours. Shout out to Anton from SEMrush as well, he’s been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and putting it together, and he’s always fun to work with as well. So yeah, it should be good, and yeah, I think in Sydney they have it at a broadcast studio as well, because I was thinking the same thing. I was like, “Are they going to have it at someone’s agency?” But then I saw on the event, it was like a broadcast studio, and I was like, “Damn, they’re going all out.” So it’s going to be a big one.

C: Yeah. They’re going all out. And I’ve just had a brief look at some of the speakers and the hosts and the experts that they’ve got on. I don’t know the figure, but there’s a shit ton of people on there. So it should be a good one. All with different backgrounds and different angles, so hopefully people will be able to learn and pick up a lot of tips over that period of time, and it’s free for people, which is weird. Well, not weird. Weird in a good way, because you’re going to get a lot of the good people, in a professional studio, in a professional environment giving tips and advice. So I think it’s-

J: It’s going to be a good one. I think it’s definitely worth tuning into. So yeah, definitely great work by the team at SEMrush putting on such a fantastic event. As you said, they’ve got some really big companies, like Uber, Google, they got, even in Sydney they’ve got, we’re on the talk with Canva. So Canva is killing it from an SEO point of view, so that’s going to be very interesting.

C: There’s actually someone from Walt Disney on one of them as well. I was looking through, because I’d actually done an email shout out just there prior to coming on the podcast with you, and I was just seeing who some of the companies were, and you’ve got Microsoft, BBC, and then Walt Disney, and there were a few others and I’m like, “Jesus.” So yeah, should be a good one. But sadly, James, we are out of time for today, but for anyone who does maybe want to talk to you, talking about your agency, maybe use your services, or just to network with you, where’s the best place for people to get a hold of you?

J: Website wise, just prosperitymedia.com.au. That’s our agency in Sydney. I’m on Twitter, Connections8, or if you want to just contact and connect with me on LinkedIn, just search for James Norquay. Yeah, I’ve got thousands of connections, so we’ve probably got someone in common. Yeah, definitely looking forward to chatting with people, or just helping people out. Sometimes you get, like I’ve got some contacts and friends in the industry, and they’ve got smaller agencies, and they just ask questions from time to time. So, I don’t mind helping people out as well, if they’re an up and comer and they’re just like, “Oh, what’s your thoughts on this type thing?” You just give them some advice, because I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time, so I don’t mind giving some advice to young people. As long as they’re not going to chew your ear off. I don’t mind answering one or two questions, but when they send like 50 questions and you’re like-

C: Listen, never say you’re going to help anyone. I’ve done that before trying to be helpful, and before you know it you’ve got guys asking you 50 questions a week, and then you go on holiday for a long weekend or something with your wife, and they’re bombarding you like, “What the hell? You rude bastard. You’re ignoring me now.” And you’re like, “Jesus.”

J: Yeah, like I said, one or two questions, that’s it. Don’t drop 50 on me, because there’s a lot of work to do still. So yeah.

C: So, when I’m going to promote this podcast, so I’m not going to tag you in it saying, “James offers free advice, free consultancy.”

J: No, please don’t.

C: Or maybe that’s good, see how many people try it.

J: The floodgate’s will open.

C: I appreciate you taking the time to come on, it’s been a pleasure, man.

J: No, cheers for that. No, we’re looking forward to you coming to Sydney and yeah, cheers for the time, Craig. Great work, keep it up.

C: Cheers.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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