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Interview with Marc Brookland CEO with SEOLocale

Steve Wetmore – Good morning Marc. We’re welcoming Marc Brookland from SEOLocale in in the Philadelphia area. Today we’re going to talk about SEO and first Marc I’d like you to introduce yourself and talk about who you are and what you do.

Marc Brookland

Marc Brookland – Thanks for having me again. I appreciate it. I’m Marc Brookland and I’m the CEO of SEO Locale. We’re a full service digital marketing agency located in Jenkintown right outside Philadelphia. I’ve been doing SEO for about 10 years. Got to start from the bottom of SEO if you will, with link building and link removal. Kind of picked up everything as I went on. One big thing that really got me to push me to start my own business was my dad who has a small family owned pharmacy. He was with a big agency who didn’t do anything for him. He was paying a whole bunch of money. And I told them, you know, I’ll do this for you. It’s no problem. I’ll handle your SEO. So he cancelled services with them. And a week later, his website was gone. His rankings were gone. His SEO was gone. So that was an interesting conversation I had with his former agency.

Steve Wetmore – How did they justify that? That’s an amazing story.

Marc Brookland – Yeah, well, so a lot of times with these big agencies people don’t realize that they are renting their website essentially. So part of their monthly package is they charge for, I believe they call it web hosting and maintenance. Which essentially means that you’re renting your website from them, they build you the website, and you’re renting it from them for life. So it’s their way of holding you hostage. Because if you leave, then you lose your website and you’re gonna have to pay to have a website built. So yep, that’s what happened. To be honest, I’m not a developer or designer. That’s my partner’s side. And thank God for him. I built the worst website you would have ever seen. And thank God for him. He was kind enough to swoop in and you know, fix up my garbage.

Steve Wetmore – That’s a great story. And so how is your father’s pharmacy website ranking locally now?

Marc Brookland – It took a while. It probably took about Six weeks before we got his rankings back to where they were, and were able to improve on it. His website was down for probably two or three weeks. So obviously, when your website is down, you’re going to lose those rankings. But once you build it back up, and you put the proper things in place, and you update some of the content, Google picks that up pretty quickly. And especially being a local pharmacy, you know, we’re targeting hyper local, so it’s much easier to compete at that level. So, I mean, I was happy to be able to get to get those results back. Yeah, I mean, it certainly helps being so hyper local.

Steve Wetmore – That’s great. So is your main focus for your agency local SEO?

Marc Brookland – Our bread and butter is local SEO, web design and development. We have clients who are on a national level for SEO. We have clients that we offer paid search and clients that we offer blogging, press releases and content optimizations we offer email marketing, photo, video services, so we do try to provide that full service agency for any of our clients, but again our bread and butter is local SEO website development.

Steve Wetmore – Can you tell any stories relative to any memorable work experiences in terms of credibility in the industry. Have you spoken at any conferences? Or are you a member in an industry group or something like that?

Marc Brookland – I do attend several, local SEO meetups, if you will. There’s one thing it’s called Beers and SEO. And we meet locally in Philadelphia. That’s where I live. And you know, it’s just a bunch of people who get together and just spitball different ideas and different things we are experiencing. Um, I have gone to speak at my college a couple times about digital marketing and what I do and how I sort of got here where I want to go. Muhlenberg College it’s in Allentown, Pennsylvania right next to Dorney Park. And I try to do as many different radio shows similar to this as I can.

Steve Wetmore – Well, it makes sense. I mean, you’re a local SEO guy and all your relationships are local. So what I’d like to do is try to get your head into what you’re experiencing right now and where you see future trends going either short term into 2020 or long term and beyond.

Marc Brookland – Yeah, I think that local search is going to be more important than ever. Google My Business, for example, has made a lot of adjustments with how they manage Google My Business; they changed it so that you can only target 20 local areas right now. So they really want you to only target the most local areas to you. They really want you to get reviews or respond to reviews, use posts, offerings, they want you to be active on Google My Business. If you’re familiar with Google Local Service Ads, I think that that is going to be a huge player moving forward. It’s still rolling out. It’s only available to some verticals as of now, but they’re constantly adding different verticals and expanding that platform. And it’s very cheap right now and affordable.

Steve Wetmore – Can you can you back up and just give us some more detail on Google Local Service Ads. So what is different with this service then is with the regular Google Ads?

Marc Brookland – Google Local Service ads is a Google guaranteed service. So if you’re familiar with the Google guarantee, when you’re searching, and it’s right up at the top, you know, before you get to the ads, the local pack and the rest of the organic results. And like I said, it’s only available to certain verticals and certain industries. You go through a fairly extensive process to get approved. Google has to go through a background check, build out this profile, you know, the whole nine yards. And what they’re saying is that they are guaranteeing that this business will provide you a good service. And if a customer calls and says that they didn’t get the service that they expected, and it was a horrible experience, Google will refund that person their money.

Marc Brookland – Similarly, if a business who was on the Google Local Service ads and they get a phone call that isn’t a qualified lead, maybe they misunderstood what their services were, or whatever the case was. That business can call Google and say this was not a good lead for me. And Google will refund them that money. It is literally what you call; pay for acquisition, which makes it significantly different than Google AdWords where you’re paying for a click. And I have seen, I’ve witnessed, I manage, several Google local service accounts for my clients and I have literally seen Google reimbursing my clients for leads that were not qualified leads. I’ve witnessed that, I have not experienced Google refunding but that’s my understanding of the Google guarantee. They also have a separate reviews platform within the Google Local Service platform where you can get different reviews. And that’s a way of showcasing that you are Google verified, Google guaranteed service provider within that local area.

Steve Wetmore – That’s very interesting. So what verticals are, they allowing to join this?

Marc Brookland – I can remember there’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning) carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, plumbing. Um, I want to say real estate.

Steve Wetmore – What about your services, for example?

Marc Brookland – They don’t offer digital services listing. Otherwise, I would absolutely be doing it. I personally don’t run Google AdWords for myself just because of how expensive it is and how competitive it is. Yeah. But I would absolutely be running Google local services.

Steve Wetmore – So essentially it sounds like they’re just looking for local “brick and mortar” businesses.

Marc Brookland – Yeah, absolutely. And they’ve been constantly making, you know, different algorithm updates and changes to sort of to help out the little guys and help out those local businesses. In my opinion to Google local services is one of the best products that Google has come up with in a long time.

Steve Wetmore – Well, that’s, that’s good information. No one’s talked about that Marc. So that’ll be a useful snippet. And it certainly feeds into your theme.

Marc Brookland – Yeah, I mean, it’s a newer product. Not a lot of people know about it. I just think it’s going to explode in popularity. And unfortunately, it’s probably going to get more expensive to pay for the leads.

Steve Wetmore – Have you written a blog article on that yet?

Marc Brookland – No, we have not as a matter of fact.

Steve Wetmore – Your blog articles are good. You’ve got some really good information. And its current, you know, you’ve published one yesterday and the day before. I mean, it’s you’re busy.

Marc Brookland – I we try to write a lot. I used to. I personally used to write a lot more. Um, I don’t have as much time as I used to. So I haven’t I haven’t written a blog in in probably, I’d say about six weeks or so. You know, we have a lot of staff here. And we always encourage them to write blogs, if they want about different things. So we try to stay on top of it. I mean, for us, the biggest thing is you got to practice what you preach. So if we’re telling, we’re telling our clients, you know, blogs are important, because you can use it for internal linking, it’s great information for your users. It’s answering some questions that your users might have. It’s a great way to, you know, build yourself up as an authority in your industry, then we should be doing that as well.

Steve Wetmore – Right on. Well, it’s good. So do you have anything else any other juicy snippets you can offer?

Marc Brookland – One thing that is being talked about more and more, is ADA compliance, which is ensuring that your website is easily accessible and digestible for people with disabilities. It is much more prevalent in certain industries than other’s. But I think that Google is going to start to make a much bigger push in a much bigger deal. And I think it’ll end up being a ranking factor if your website is ADA compliant or not.

Steve Wetmore – Interesting. So what could you do? Or what should you be doing regularly? To make sure it is ADA compliant?

Marc Brookland – You know, it’s actually not as difficult as you would think. I mean, you can literally Google ADA compliance, Google and they will tell you how to make your website ADA compliant. So you know, it’s a little bit of coding involved. So you know, any developer could certainly help you out with that I even I’m pretty sure I read an article on Search Engine Journal then they have like a guide on how to make your website ADA compliant. So very it’s easy to do, everyone should do it because why not? And I again, I think it’s going to end up being a ranking factor and moving forward.

Steve Wetmore – That’d be an interesting topic to touch on and right on. So I guess look details like on your photography include the, make sure you include the text and really describe the image. Yeah, with keywords, you know, I guess that’s the two things right keyword plus image description equals a good alt text.

Marc Brookland – Yeah, definitely, definitely. Just want to make sure that it’s all you know, clearly laid out and detailed. Google knows what that picture is. Google knows what the video is and knows what everything is. And anyone with a disability can easily understand what it is.

Steve Wetmore – Very interesting. So those are two original topics. Congratulations, Mark. That’s great. That’s really good information. SEO tools that you’re using in your agency. And what in particular, are you using for local SEO? If there’s any difference?

Marc Brookland – Yeah, we rely pretty heavily on SEMrush, as most people probably should, and a lot of great tools in SEMrush outside of doing keyword research and competitor analysis they have writing tools as co writing tools that help you measure the keyword density of your website, they give you tools on different keywords that you might want to include throughout your content. It’s really helpful beneficial for any level of SEO. We use Majestic, a lot; Majestic SEO more so for backlink analysis, making sure that we are keeping our clients backlink profile as localized as possible. I believe that if you’re a local business and if you have more local links, then that goes a much longer way and having links from all over the place, right. We of course have a keyword ranking system that we that we’ve built and also links to your Google Analytics, Google My Business and other social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, your Google AdWords, your Google Search Console. And that sort of just gives us a more holistic view. All of our clients have access to this dashboard, by the way, so they’re able to take a look anytime they want, how their keywords are ranking, how their traffic is growing. We have our own dashboard that we built internally that it that is accessible to all of our clients.

Steve Wetmore – Very good. So you use a service to provide that for your or did you code that yourself?

Marc Brookland – It’s a combination of the two. So what we’ve done was we created this dashboard, where we we’ve organized everything so it’s you know organic search Google AdWords, Google Search Console social media.
We have a WebSite Auditor in there. And I mean, it’s really just pulling a bunch of different API’s in. So you know, it wasn’t that complex. But it’s still just a centralized location that’s easy for our clients to access and just review what we’re doing what’s going on how everything’s progressing.

Steve Wetmore – Very good. Haven’t heard that as a service offered by an agency, so very good. Anything else to offer Marc?

Marc Brookland – I think one of the most important things that I try to preach toward my clients is that you really shouldn’t just focus on one piece of digital marketing. You know, I don’t it’s good enough to only focus on social media or soley focus on SEO or focused on paid. Everything works together and as everything will affect how well your website performs overall. So it’s really important that you have a well rounded digital marketing strategy in place, and that you follow that strategy and everything is working together feeding off of each other. And ultimately, if you’re doing that and doing all the right things, and you know, not trying to do anything by gaming the system or you know, black hat SEO,
you’re going to do great, and you’re going to run a very, very well run campaign.

Steve Wetmore – Excellent. Well, Marc, thank you very much. This is great information. I was really looking for some real insightful info on local SEO and you delivered. Thank you.

Marc Brookland – Yeah, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. And again, thanks for having me, Steve.