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Interview with Jeff Romero Co Founder at Octiv Digital

Steve Wetmore – Jeff Romero, good afternoon and welcome to the InstaVIP Podcast. Jeff, I see that you’re a digital marketing professional with a lot of background and history managing local and Enterprise SEO campaigns. you’ve enjoyed a successful career so far in large enterprise business. And I’d love to hear more about that. And you’re now proud co founder of Octiv Digital.

Jeff Romero

Jeff Romero – Thanks so much for having me. So yeah, my name is Jeff Romero. I’ve been in digital marketing for about 10 to 12 years now. Got my start in SEO really working on local campaigns, looking at attorney sites with the real estate agency. It’s kind of that smaller still scale stuff, just trying to help people get started with web marketing, a lot of people that just didn’t have an idea what they were doing. And then I sort of transitioned my career into the enterprise level and started Working for a couple of different companies that worked in the home goods section, Home Goods sector, excuse me, working in lighting, furniture, really anything in that kind of space competing against folks like wayfair, Home Depot, Lowes, some of those much larger companies. And that was a lot of fun required a lot of advanced SEO strategy. A lot of just advanced digital marketing in general, just to try to get it right and right from customers get it right, Google kind of just had to deploy a lot of creative thinking there to get things right and to be able to compete with some of those bigger box companies.

Steve Wetmore – Very good. So can you talk about anything that you’ve been doing relative, to the SEO community like speaking engagements or ?

Jeff Romero – Sure, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at SMS, East and East, as well as smaller independent conferences for a company called rich. They are a big enterprise tool that a lot of companies use to improve They’re internal linking on a site. And they’re a company that is implemented with my last company, three different websites that we use them on. And I had the ability to really stand out from some of the different clients that they worked with. And they had me come out and speak at the conferences, talk about the technology. And I with that, I really kind of figured out how to push the boundaries with it. It’s really neat technology, but it was really cool to see actually work and drive traffic and ultimately.

Steve Wetmore – Interesting thank you for that. Jeff can you share with us what you see trending in SEO going into 2020?

Jeff Romero – I think one of the biggest things that that saw growth and 2019 is going to continue to grow in 2020 is the use of voice search. So this is something that everyone knows about. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to tune into it, how to make things work. And there’s there’s not a lot of documentation work on what drives Amazon Alexa or Google Home, or results in Google specifically. But what one thing that is actually working that I tested, and I’m actually seeing some good results with, is using structured data for Voice Search. And this is just making sure that you’re you’re marking up your content in ways that are easy for Google to understand. When Googlebot comes to the site. They see your content with read through the content. You’re using that kind of extra layer of meta data. We all we all know what metadata is with title tags, descriptions, all tabs, that kind of stuff. This is kind of going that next step to really inform Google. What are your pages about what is content about? You know, you’re trying to answer different queries that people are asking. I saw this work at my last company where someone was looking For like, what are the best 10 Ceiling Fans of 2019? What are what are different designs that have come out? What are different technologies that have come out whether it’s led or like a Bluetooth ceiling fan, things like that. And so I was able to mark up the content with structured data and then actually get into some of those voice searches. And I’m seeing a strong correlation there. It’s not a perfect science, but there is a really good correlation there. And for a lot of the companies that I work with, now, they’re smaller business plans, but we’re still trying to use that structured data to to get into some of those voice searches. So, for example, right now, I’ve got a client in Florida, that she’s a real estate agent. So we’re marking up our content with that real estate structured data. So now someone searches like Sarasota show me results for Sarasota real estate agents over their voices over their device. We’re like we’re looking to get through those results.

Steve Wetmore – Ok what app do you use to create the structure data?

Jeff Romero – I mostly hand code, whatever we’re doing, I stick to the the JSON data that seems to be preferred by Google. So I’m sticking to that. But I really just look through at the instruction that they have, they’re abiding by the different rules, and then checking everything through the structured data testing tool from Google, make sure everything validates, looking at stuff in the Search Console as well. Just to make sure all the market validates.

Steve Wetmore – It’s certainly not novice activity. I’ve looked at the structure data coding, and I go, Okay, well, I’m not gonna try this.

Jeff Romero – Yeah it’s definitely advanced. There are I will say, there are a few plugins for WordPress users. But even that out, I found that they’re, they’re kind of tough to manage. And so it’s honestly just easier to figure out how to write up the code, figure out the language, write up exactly what you’re trying to do. And then you insert it into the pages.

Steve Wetmore – Within the Gutenberg editor on WordPress, there’s two block elements you can use and insert one for FAQs and one for lists. And it creates the code for structure data for you. You just have to fill in the blanks. For me, that is perfect. It’s really great that people we’ve been interviewing are consistently mentioning structured data as a must do, you can’t ignore it. And especially for mobile search, I’m glad you reinforce that.

Jeff Romero – I think just even taking a step back from structured data and voice search is just getting ready for mobile. There are several tools out there now to make sure that your mobile site is credible. It’s responsive, it makes sense for your users. And so I see a lot of clients that come across a lot of sites that they’re just not doing that. And it’s like, we’re headed in the 2020. Everyone has a smartphone, everyone’s looking up content from their phone, make sure that you you tune your site to that. And there’s like I said, there’s a lot of tools out there now. In addition to like, making sure the content looks good, you want to make sure that it loads fast, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to make sure the content is loading quickly. I just do not sleep on my way. I can’t tell people that enough. It seems like the rankings are different. Google now has the mobile first index, but people still have kind of a sluggish mobile site and not the same experience and it’s just something that’s going to continue to grow.

Steve Wetmore – That’s great advice. Well, Jeff, that’s, you know what? That’s meat and potatoes. Great advice. And you know, sometimes you can’t stop emphasizing what you know, you’ve tried it, you’ve learned it, you proved it, you’ve got to do it, or you’re just not going to get the rankings that you need or want.

Jeff Romero – You’ve got to do it. And you have to keep continuing with it because mobile sites what what we had for mobile sites in 2015 aren’t what we have now, of course, so you have to keep advancing your technology, making things faster and just just don’t sleep on it. It’s all I can say.

Jeff Romero – Strategies; what I’ve seen working for clients, we just we talked a bit about the on page but the off page piece of growing links in 2018, this has become something that’s difficult. A lot of people are still trying to go the guest post route. That’s kind of tricky. One thing that I’ve found that actually works well for my business, and for Clients is using Harro or And this is something that a lot of people don’t use. And it’s such a great way to get your content in front of people in the right niche, get in front of some big publications. And it’s a tool that it’s really easy to sign up, it’s actually free. And you’re just you’re helping out journalists get more content, but then you’re also getting a link back to your site from it. So it’s been just a great tool that, like I said, a lot of people don’t use it. And it’s kind of shocking to me that here’s a way that you can get content in front of the right reader and from the right audience and a lot of people don’t use it.

Steve Wetmore – That’s that’s great information. Do you have any advice with respect to getting getting reporters to reach out to you?

Jeff Romero – I think you can sign up with her you can sign up for all the different industries that you want to try to get your content from are going to mention from and I honestly I get those emails, I get an email in the morning, I get one in the afternoon and one in the evening that just shows different blogs, different sources that are looking for content. And I will reach out to at least four of those different sources. And sometimes I don’t hear back sometimes. And really what it comes down to is you want to have a quick response, have the right answer for what they’re looking for. And don’t try to jumble it up with different text speak or marketing speak. Just make it clear to understand.

Steve Wetmore – So we also discussed earlier in our in our conversation mainstream tools that most agencies use. Are you using anything off the beaten path? Anything that you found that works better for you?

Jeff Romero – Aside from the mainstream tools that we’ve talked about, I know we mentioned AHRef’s, Moz, and SEMrush, those are just every SEO, is going to use those tools. Aside from that, it’s really important to consider a crawling tool. There’s basic tools like Screaming Frog, I’m sure a lot of people familiar that there’s a new tool on the marketplace now called chat octopus, that’s also really well are also really, really great for crawling sites. And then if you’re operating an enterprise site, something in the e commerce based, like a university kind of site, you’re going to want to use a tool like Botify found here that’s going to crawl a lot of pages. There’s another tool called Deep Crawl found at, just something that’s going to evaluate all of your contents, look at it from a technical perspective and then give you recommendations, things that you can fix and make better.

Steve Wetmore – Thank you Jeff for this valuable information.