Updated: Nov 2, 2021
The average consumer looks for what they want online in today’s digital world first. Whatever product or service they are looking for, they will most likely start their search with Google. If you have no online presence, your discoverability is limited, lowering your competitiveness.
If you have an online presence, but your competitors are easier to find and are found first, you still might not be found at all. Besides creating a website, learning search engine optimization is a strategy that can help you move ahead of your competitors just by being the first name that a prospect finds in a Google search with keywords that can lead them to your business.
Herewith us today is Neil Patel, Co-founder at Neil Patel Digital, to discuss his experience being an entrepreneur and an influential person in digital marketing and SEO.
How did your entrepreneurial journey begin? What motivated you to specialize in digital marketing?
Sure. My entrepreneur journey started by starting my website. I was looking for a job online. I couldn't find a job. So I started my website. When I started it, I had to learn how to get traffic to it. I did my research, I learned it, I implemented, and I started getting decent at it. I'm like, "Hey, maybe I could do this for other people."
That's great. You started very early when you were 16 years old with your first website. What were some challenges that you face during your journey, and how did they shape who you are today?
Yeah, so many of the challenges I've faced in my journey early on are because I didn't have enough money. I still don't. It was hard to compete with my competitors. I didn't have enough, nor a big enough team. I didn't have the experience. So I had to get creative. I had to start thinking outside the box to beat them without having all of those resources.
On your website, we have seen that you have worked with several large companies, such as Google, but you also mentioned that you love to work with small businesses. What marketing tips and tools will you recommend starts-ups to use to hack their growth?
Well, first, Google Analytics is a free tool. It gives you all the stats and data: who's viewing your website, conversion points, time on site, bounce rate, page speed, location-based data. You get a ton of data within analytics.
UberSuggest helps you with your SEO and getting traffic. There's a free plan as well.
Google Data Studio helps you do business intelligence to connect to all the different places you're getting your data.
Super Metrics and MailChimp are great tools, as well.
We've seen marketing evolving due to technology, driving companies towards digital marketing rather than outdoor advertising. What are your thoughts on outdoor advertising?
It still works. It may not seem sexy and appealing, but it still works, and you can't take it for granted. You should consider using outdoor advertising when possible. Why not? It's extra money to be made. I would do it.
What are your thoughts about the rise of the freelancer economy? How do you see the marketing function evolving post-COVID?
The freelancer community is growing at a rapid pace. Post COVID-19, I think more people are coming online. I think there's just more and more opportunities for people who are pushing stuff online. Like, why not?
Over the last decade, we've seen many companies focusing on developing SEO tools such as your own, Ubersuggest. What would you say is driving the growth of the industry and accelerating the adoption of these tools?
Increase in paid ad costs. Ads are getting so expensive that people have no choice but to figure out how to get that traffic for free.
If you are resource-constrained, what do you think should go first: your SEO strategy or content strategy?
They go hand in hand. I think you have to find a balance between the content and SEO strategy. Without content, you won't rank well. Without SEO, your content won't get found. You need the content, and you need the SEO. I believe they're pretty much the same, and you need to do both of them simultaneously.
With the pandemic, we see accelerated adoption of online and social tools by all businesses. What are some suggestions you have to break through the noise and get your business to stand out?
The key to breaking through the noise and getting your business to stand out is how you differentiate your product or service? What makes you unique? Whether it's your story, brand, perception, service, or support. If you don't stand out and you're not different, you're not going to shine. You either need to go into a new category, or you need to figure out how you can stand out and be different.
What is one habit that has changed your life?
Focus. So I used to try to do too many things, and nowadays, I just focus, and I try to put all distractions aside—the concept of just focusing changed my business career.
The other thing that has helped me is to every day create to-do lists of all the things I need to do daily. And I get them done. You don't go to sleep until you're done. By making to-do lists, eventually, if you accomplish everything that you need to do each day for a whole year, you'll get a lot more done. You're more likely to hit your goals.
Who in your industry has been an inspiration for you?
A lot of people, no individuals. A lot of them are my customers. A lot of them are new entrepreneurs that are coming up. I'm trying to build products and services that help them all out. I love helping all these people grow their traffic, grow their business, and all that. So they're my inspiration. My mom was a young entrepreneur back in the day too, and I like helping other entrepreneurs like that.