Interview with Noah Battle Co Founder at Sproutbox Media
Good afternoon, Noah Battle from Sproutbox Media, really looking forward to learning about you and your agency. And at this moment, I’d love to hear about who you are and what you do at Sproutbox Media.
Noah Battle – Thanks, Steve. I appreciate the introduction. I appreciate the opportunity to sit down with you for a few minutes. Sproutbox Media is is located in Portland, Oregon. We’re an integrated digital marketing agency that’s
focused on a variety of channels and bringing integration. We’re focused on conversion optimization, building traffic that’s targeted for our individual client business needs. We work with a variety of clients, really everything from startups where will help them to just get off the ground.
Everything from their branding to the website development, helping them with focus groups. As far as understanding their product and how, how it should be message messaging should come along with, with, with their brand, how to how to get something that resonates within the marketplace, I think all the way through a variety of small business industries we’ve we’ve targeted over the years and large businesses we’ve, we’ve worked with companies as large as Pepsi as large as my tail, etc. So kind of kind of a variety. But, but always through through all of it. Integration of services is really key for us, helping to come alongside of our our clients and be somewhat business partners with them not not in the sense that we’re taking equity or in Such things but but we want to understand their business. So that’s a little bit of a difference from traditional digital agencies, we actually want to understand the business. And as we learn our business, we actually are tailoring all of our solutions from a business perspective, right? growth of their businesses is what we’re all about. So I’m branding as I mentioned, web development, messaging, and then of course, all of the digital marketing channels and video so video is also something that’s not always integrated within the digital agency. Oftentimes, that’s that’s something that that’s hired out or contracted out or some such, but it’s completely integrated within our services. So we’re able to leverage it from a lot of different ways regarding messaging, and, and even even marketing marketing, both on social as well as within YouTube marketing, ranking videos and such. But But all of that place into the larger picture of what’s going to be best for our clients business from a business perspective.
Steve Wetmore – So when you talk about video Are you also creating video for your clients?
Noah Battle – Great question yes we do we have all those capabilities in house we’re able to from start to finish do produce the video right? So everything from meeting with a client doing the initial discovery, understanding what what kind of video and there are a number of different types of videos we may be doing, you know, from, from customer interviews to testimonials to walking through the company, helping people to understand products and so forth and positioning, all those kinds of things. But yes, we can script things out. We can shoot it all and and produce it and get it launched.
Steve Wetmore – So does Sproutbox Media have any interesting credentials. Do you have event Speaking history?
Noah Battle – We’ve done some speaking, yes. It’s not our primary way of building business and getting out into the world, if you will, but but we definitely have done that. I’m more more of that was done earlier in our business history. But some of it still continues. We’ve we’ve done industry events for for financial services, we’ve done accounting services, we’ve done some technologies, conventions, and we’ve done a lot more work with local SEO kinds of meetings and events is talking about local SEO with versus national SEO versus e commerce SEO.
Steve Wetmore – Well, here’s the here’s where we move into the the meaty part of the conversation and what we’re looking for is your perspective or your views on the future of SEO, going into 2020?
Noah Battle – Well, I guess there are a number of things that are going to be really, very important. I believe that zero click search and voice search
will profoundly disrupt the market. For those that have not prepared themselves for it, it will profoundly disrupt traditional SEO because so much SEO is more than half of all searches are currently voice initiated, right? And more than half of searches are a zero click result. Which means that a featured snippet has been triggered. Google has a feature called feature snippets where they’re at trying to answer questions. So users are asking questions on the net. You know, how old is someone How to meditate. What, what was what’s a good recipe for, for, for apple pie, right? So they, they will post those kind of questions and Google has has evolved to the point where they’re able to answer those questions above the normal search results. And so this is resulting in zero clicks. So if the user is actually getting the answer that they’re looking for, immediately presented to them in the search engine results, there’s no need for them to go down further and the results and click on a web page. So that’s going to come that will be a very large disruptor within the marketplace because most most businesses, especially most small businesses, and local businesses, we work a lot with with local business. They do not they are not prepared for for feature snippets, they haven’t optimized for that, that that that’s not a play for them. And then the other side of that is that This the whole voice piece. And more than 50% of searches are now for most industries, at least, are now over their, their their phones, along with being voice. So you have that kind of trifecta happening, right? Mobile optimization, and then his voice and feature snippet stuff. So as that all comes together, and it is coming together, we don’t have to wait for 2020 it’s actually coming together now. But over the next couple of years that will profoundly change how search engine and SEO optimization works.
Steve Wetmore – So what kind of advice would you give someone to prepare for the zero click search results? How what would you What would you tell someone to do?
Noah Battle – Well, there are a couple things. First of all, change the way that you are doing keyword research or least broaden or expand it. Often, most businesses will look at bottom of the funnel search phrases, search phrases that have a lot of buying intentionality behind them. And, and as they optimize for those, they’re going to have a live more and more limited result pattern. The featured snippets, as I mentioned earlier, is all about trying to answer questions and trying to read into the intention of the searcher, and provide the answer as quickly and as seamlessly as possible from Google’s perspective, giving that Google’s objective is to provide a great user experience, right so they’re getting answered quickly. So what you have to do is expand your keyword research into looking at more longtail searches, but looking at longtail searches that are structured in questions. So being able to answer questions as part of your research process, looking for what kinds of questions your intended, buyer or user might be asking related to your industry, like FAQ kind of things, about services, about comparisons of products, a compartment comparisons and services, those kinds of things. And as you identify those keywords, then going back and optimizing for keyword .
Noah Battle – There are tools out there available like AHRefs, and there are a variety of other ones that will help you and your keyword research to be able to identify what keywords will actually produce a snippet. And then once you understood what those those keywords are they’re a variety of different types of snippets. Go back to your website, do the On Page technical SEO to make sure that you position yourself well for those results. The majority of the featured snippets are coming from Google’s first page results. So that also means you must be on the first page of Google for whatever phrases you’re gone after to have a real strong chance of actually ending up in as a featured snippet. Carrying this thought a little bit further, you have to do mobile optimization for speed of course, that’s become standardized for the UX Of course, but also making sure that feature snippets are going to look proper on the mobile device that’s going to be helpful, along with the speed and the UX.
Steve Wetmore – How do you how do you ensure your your featured snippet looks proper on mobile?
Noah Battle – Testing! lots of lots of testing. That’s one of the bedrocks of marketing in general. And certainly, web development, in particular, as it relates to SEO. So it’s kind of gone by the days of, of not really paying a lot of attention to how something looks on on the mobile device. Again, because the majority of searches are mobile. We optimized for mobile first versus
a few years back where we would optimize for desktop first, right now we optimized for mobile, because it has to look good. Through all the testing patterns that you would go through all the various device types that you would you would look at, it has to operate properly there that’s even more important in our eyes then then how it operates on the desktop.
Steve Wetmore – So does that. Does that mean you’re using more structured data like our schema markup? And how do you do it the hard way? Or do you use the Gutenberg editor blocks that format it for you?
Noah Battle – We’ve done it both ways. We actually there are a couple of tools that were automatically that will automatically generate this, the schema data for you and we tend to you utilize those tools but you know, different people do it slightly different. And kind of also depends on on the size of the project. For smaller you know, quick things we might just do it in line with with within the code but other times we’ll use the generator.
Steve Wetmore – Well, what that’s a perfect segue into what tools you’re using? Your day to day SEO journey.
Noah Battle – Probably some of the same tools that most agencies use, I mentioned. We use Longtail Pro, for some of that long tail keyword research that I mentioned. Majestic SEO. So, Majestic is not a tool that everyone uses, but it’s but it’s definitely a tool that we’ve found to be very, very, helpful to identify industry so when we’re looking at links and when we’re looking at things of that nature, understanding when we want to get a link from a
guest post or some other comments source, understanding how they have looked at online as far as their industry, right. That’s more and more of a big lift in rankings is relevancy. So relevance to the industry, getting backlinks, not just because they’re high powered, you know, if you’re looking at Moz or some other or even AHReh’s at the power of the link, but also looking at the relevancy of the Linke. So that’s the kind of information we get from Majestic.
Steve Wetmore – So just to stay on on topic again. So talking about schema markup, what tool would you use to create that code? Is there a tool that helps you structure it properly?
Noah Battle – Sure. So the the JSON generator is a good tool that we can use as that damn JSONLD.com they have a schema generator there. And that’s, that’s been very helpful. It’s pretty easy to use.
Steve Wetmore – That’s, that is the first time I’ve heard that and all these interviews, good, good info. Sure. Great. So any other interesting tools you’re using.
Noah Battle – I mentioned Longtail Pro, I think that a lot of a lot of businesses don’t utilize that. And, and it’s useful for helping to understand not only generating tons and tons of keywords, but you’re also able to get competitive data. So here’s what I mean. So it’s one thing to have a keyword when you’re doing a keyword research is, it’s important to make sure that you’ve you’ve already understood the business goals. You already understand what they’re trying to try to accomplish. As I mentioned, we want to partner with business. And so selecting keywords that are very, very relevant somewhere in the funnel, and that’s part of your strategic plan. Are you going to target top of the funnel, middle, mid or lower. And though there are implications for all of that, if we just take the example of lower in the funnel, something that has very high buyer intention, if you plug that into a Longtail Pro, and and generate a massive list of keywords that are in that level, that’s one thing, and that’s where a lot of SEOs will go, and then they’ll start looking at the amount of traffic for those particular keywords. And a lot of folks will actually stop right there. We have some good keywords that look good and they have good search volume. It’s important to actually take that a step further, and then look at the competitiveness of those keywords. So, good keyword, great searches. But can you rank for within a reasonable amount of time? Are you able to rank for it within three to six months? So some of those kind of keywords, especially when you’re looking at blog, articles are around pages within sub pages within your site, you really want to be able to focus in on keywords that actually have rank ability, short term rank ability, and this is where Long Tail Pro is very helpful. It will give you the competitiveness of a particular keyword. And you’re able to do it based off of the authority of your website. So you are able to put a plug in your website, we want to rank for these particular keywords for this particular website. It will look at the the authority of the website and then look at the competitive of the keywords. It’ll give you a report back on these particular keywords so you can if you can rank pretty quickly for this particular website. That’s huge. You whittle down your long list into a much more manageable list. And now you can go in and look at those individually. Look at that particular keyword, what search engine results does it produce? Let me look at the results and see how competitive they really are. So Longtail pro does a lot of work for you. But you still need to manually look at those keywords and just verify everything because the tool is not perfect. But that brings you a long ways forward being able to select the list that’s highly relevant and has the search volume and you can actually rank for within a reasonable amount of time. And that’s, that’s golden for our clients.
Steve Wetmore – Some valuable information here, particularly, that little nugget on the schema markup tool that. That’s new information for the audience. So, thank you very much for spending this time with us Noah!