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Interview with Michael Georgiou Co-founder & CMO at Imaginovation

Steve Wetmore – Hello Michael Giorgiou and welcome to the InstaVIP Podcast. Michael Giorgio is co-founder and CMO of Imaginovation.net So Michael could you please introduce yourself and talk a little bit about who you are, what you do, and some of your accomplishments over the recent years.

Michael Giorgiou – Yeah, absolutely. Steve, thanks for having me on the show and learning more about me and my story. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Michael Giorgiou – I’m the co founder and chief marketing officer at imaginovation is a turnkey technology company located here in Raleigh, North Carolina. And we build custom mobile and web applications for startups to enterprise level companies, and in pretty much any industry. We start with an idea from the customer, we collaborate and we guide them to create a creative and technical solution application for their business that will help their productivity and help their customers help them internally. We provide value on a digital perspective. And we also do a little bit of IoT,

The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Wikipedia

As well as some artificial intelligence and blockchain development.

Michael Giorgiou – My brother in law and I started Imaginovation about eight years ago as a family business. We made a deal with some developers to work for us for free for a few months.

Michael Giorgiou – Let’s take step back and provide some background; I earned my master’s degree in Australia at Bond University and graduated in 2011. When I got back home I was unemployed for about seven months. My brother in law was working at SAS, at that time in tech support. So he called me one evening and he asked me if I would join him to create a technology company. So I was like, okay, I have nothing to lose, you know, I was unemployed already for seven months with a master’s degree.

Michael Giorgiou – The third week after we started we closed a fairly large deal with a client in Charlotte, North Carolina, developing a music application that was similar to Spotify. And it was really our first project. The developers, that were willing to work for us for free until we can close some business, were definitely dedicated to our team. As we as we grew, we paid them and we just reinvested everything back into the business.

Michael Giorgiou – Then we expanded into the “mobile” arena. We were creating websites, web applications, mobile applications. And then we got involved in digital marketing. At this point we were doing marketing and app development simultaneously. So we were a full turnkey digital marketing and technology company. And then about three and a half years ago, almost four years ago, we decided to skip our company, and just focus on our core strength, which is is you know, a bit building building custom applications for companies.


Michael Giorgiou – So that’s what we do. And I’ve been blessed to have a lot of success throughout the years. Although there’s been a lot of struggles; owning any business being an entrepreneur is incredibly difficult. There’s a lot of ups and downs. It’s definitely a roller coaster, and it requires tons of perseverance. It requires lots of sacrifice and grit and hard work, and just dedication and belief in what you’re doing and having a macro mindset, not thinking short term, but thinking long term, that’s really the key to to building any business that you want to build and that you love is thinking long term because if you think long term, then you’re you’re going to overcome a lot of obstacles that come away, right. So it’s part of journey, it’s part of the story.

Michael Giorgiou – But in regards to some of the recognition I received, I was closing $100,000 deals. I closed my first six figure deal when I was 27 years old. And we grew to a million dollar company before I was 30. And we’ve been a seven figure business since then. We’re growing and have over 30 full time employees at our company. We’ve won multiple awards. We’ve won a VA digital award at the show and we were a Shorty Award finalist.

Michael Giorgiou – We were ranked in the top six in North Carolina for the best technology companies. And in our group there is Pendo and they just received 200 million in funding. So that was that was definitely, you know, an amazing recognition. I’ve been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Foundr, Business.com, VentureBeat and Search Engine Journal. So, yeah, been been all around the internet. And it’s definitely been a journey thus far and I love what I do.

Steve Wetmore – So I’m great. You’re a lucky man Michael. It’s important to love what you do. So what what I’m really looking forward to Michael is your perspective, given the fact that you not an SEO, even though you could put that on your resume, your primary function is not as an SEO agency. You have a deep understanding of the value of organic traffic. Our audience is really looking forward to your perspective on what you see as being the future of SEO, particularly in 2020.

Michael Giorgiou – Absolutely. So I’ll first give you a background of the some of the strategies and tactics that have worked for our company to get ranked for competitive keywords on Google, you know, which is search engine optimization.

Michael Giorgiou – So for our company here is more background on why SEO was so important to us as a start-up, but we are 100% organically bootstrapped. We grew to seven figure business from nothing – absolutely nothing. Our first ad was on Craigslist. So you can imagine that, I had to learn the hard way and didn’t I didn’t have a mentor. So it was a lot of trial and error. It was a lot of research and development. It was learning that our marketing was trial and error. We didn’t really know the the key to what works and what doesn’t work because every business every industry is different. Right?

Michael Giorgiou – We researched what keywords we believed we could realistically rank for. I’ll give you some examples; “Raleigh Web Design” because we’re in North Carolina – we focus locally first. Then “Raleigh Web App Development” and “Web App Development Company”, “North Carolina Mobile Development Raleigh”, and IoT Development Company, Raleigh

Michael Giorgiou – We used short tail keywords and long tail keywords. And what we did with that is we basically added those keywords to our website strategically. This is our method we use to optimize our website over the years. I believe we’ve redone our website about six or seven times in the last eight years to stay relevant in the market. It’s incredibly competitive in the app development market. There’s a lot of saturation, there’s a lot of companies that develop applications and websites, mobile apps, all of that. So we had to differentiate ourselves, we had to get a lot of reach and, you know, get in front of the eyes of of a lot of people, especially locally here in North Carolina, which is a totally market for technology. So we did heavy on site optimization. We dedicated a lot of time creating high quality content on our website.

Michael Giorgiou – We rarely talked about what we did, or what we offered. We talked more about how others can learn from the content that we write. So that’s really what it’s about. Google wants to see that you’re providing value to your audience. It’s called the giveback approach. So over the years, we optimized our website for over 2,000 blog articles. We have a domain authority of over 40. Now, I believe it is or I think it is 40 domain authority. Top Sites like the New York Times, they’re like a probably a 95 or 96. So basically, we wrote a lot of high quality content. We created hundreds of videos as we acquired to video company a few years ago. We create video animation as well and onsite video production to be published on YouTube ,Facebook and LinkedIn.

Michael Giorgiou – On the on site optimization side we added a lot of relevant keywords to our website copy and strategic internal linking. We knew you’ve got to make sure that that when you are writing content on your website, you’re not spamming the content with keywords. That method is often referred to as black hat SEO. We would add maybe a few of those keywords per page, nothing too crazy, just so Google’s algorithm can recognize that we’re trying to rank for those words while providing value to our audience as well. We have several people that work on “On Page” SEO, making sure that our website is easily crawled by Google. It’s important to make it easy for the Google crawler algorithm to see your website and to view the content and to see what you’re about, who you’re targeting, and what keywords you’re trying to get ranked for.

Michael Giorgiou – Now there’s another side to SEO it’s called “Off Page” optimization. So, off page optimization is anything that’s off of your website. So a good example is writing content for other publications. Blog posts that linked back to our site was the main factor of how we ranked. As one of the top development companies in North Carolina and even even in the USA for some keywords. If you search “mobile development Raleigh”, or “Raleigh web design” or “web application Raleigh” or “web application, North Carolina” all of those keywords. We’re gaining almost 5000 unique visitors on our website per month. And for an agency like ours, that’s actually pretty good. We’re not like a blogging company, and we’re not a publication so we’re not going to receive hundreds of thousands of visitors, but we’ve been getting pretty decent, consistent traffic over the years, and it’s been increasing. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been writing for a lot of respected publications earning valuable backlinks.

Steve Wetmore – Thank you for that. Our next next step is we’d like insights on what are the three top SEO tools you use today?

Michael Giorgiou – The top SEO tools we use our Moz.com, SemRush.com and we use Google Analytics, Google Console, Google My Business GMB. We use these tools on a daily basis.

Steve Wetmore – Ok Michael now please share your views on the future of SEO taking us into 2020.

Michael Giorgiou – In regards to the future of SEO and where it’s going and some strategies that we believe are going to work. Right now the trend is voice search. Like Amazon’s Alexa, right now, it’s vital for agencies and companies to optimize their websites and their marketing strategies to voice marketing. So for an example, a podcast. Podcast are a huge trend now and they’re growing every single day. It’s about the user experience or UX, right? It’s important to start thinking about strategies that are going to differentiate yourself from your competitors and just from others in general, and start thinking about voice marketing, voice optimization on to rank on Google. Maybe you want to be an Amazon partner, an Alexa partner is a good example. So that’s what we’re working on. Our companies were kind of being Alexa partner so people using Alexa could ask “I’m looking for a Raleigh web development company”. “I’m looking for a web design company, North Carolina”. Or Alexa will give you the top five because you’re a partner of theirs. And you’re on Google. So that’s one example there.

Michael Giorgiou – Another example of kind of the future SEO is, getting heavily into storytelling. Storytelling is very important. From experts in the world like Neil Patel, storytelling is really important because your audience on the internet in general want to hear your story, and they want to be able to resonate with that you’re not just selling your services, but you’re also your brand yourself as an authority figure. We all know about personal branding, right? You want to be perceived as a Thought Leader in the world
and as for your company, you can write articles to relate yourself and your story, your background, your journey to other people. That’s also a huge strategy and tactic that I believe is going to be constantly increasing. So I would say voice search, storytelling and video is continuously increasing.

Steve Wetmore – Michael thank you for your perspectives and insights into SEO Trends going into 2020.