How to Grow a Consulting Firm by Sharing SEO Knowledge
Andy Chadwick and Suganthan Mohanadasan’s approach to business is likely different from what you’re used to. They train their clients to be self-sufficient to the point that Andy and Suganthan are no longer needed. They also love helping people and share information free of charge on Clubhouse each week. How can Snippet Digital grow with this approach? Tune in to find out.
In this episode of the Reverse Engineered podcast, Andy Chadwick and Suganthan Mohanadasan join host Jon Penland to discuss their SEO consulting agency Snippet Digital.
Andy and Suganthan go into detail about their mission: to help other people’s businesses succeed. This means helping out wherever possible, from answering SEO questions on forums to going live on Clubhouse. They’re also building tools designed to improve SEO strategy workflows.
Tune in to Reverse Engineered’s latest episode if you are interested in hearing more about Snippet Digital. You’ll also learn some SEO basics and get a valuable piece of advice if you ever want to start an SEO business on your own.
- We want to stay small and efficient. Andy and Suganthan talk about their reasoning to keep Snippet Digital small and efficient. “We’ve started to build up a network of very talented freelancers, not employed. We want to stay small and efficient.”
- We are not an agency. We are your team’s extension. The philosophy of Snippet Digital is based upon the fact that it is not a typical SEO consulting agency but an extension of the client’s team. “We never want to become a permanent fixture in any of the companies. What we want is to be an extension of their current marketing efforts. And that’s a model that seems to be working well for us.”
- What we do is get involved with a client. Snippet Digital delivers in-house SEO consulting services with their clients in mind. “What we do is we get involved with the client. We get involved with their team. We get involved with their developers, in-house SEO, and we help them with everything they need.”
Today’s Guest: Andy Chadwick and Suganthan Mohanadasan, Co-Founders of Snippet Digital
Andy and Suganthan’s goal remains the same: help people improve their website rankings, provide value to the SEO community, and ensure their company stays the way it is – small and highly efficient.
- Company: Snippet Digital
- Where to find Suganthan: Website | LinkedIn | Twitter
- Where to find Andy: Website | LinkedIn | Twitter
Snippet Digital – Small, Cost-Efficient, and Client-Centered In-House SEO Consulting Firm
“We’re quite clear about trying to define that we want to stay small. Because we’re small, we’ve had a heavy focus on what typically is done. It means that we can be cost-efficient with the client’s time. And it means I can put more of our time into that client. We don’t make big margins or our hourly wages. We also don’t do any black box system with the clients where we charge them an X amount, and then we do all the work, and they don’t know what’s going on.
‘What can we develop; what tools can we bring to them? What can we make to automate these processes or utilize technology?’
That’s what we ask.”
We Don’t Use Marketing to Attract Clients, Our Clients Do That for Us
“We love helping new people and anyone who’s coming to SEO. We host a clubhouse every Friday, one hour. Anyone can come and ask any SEO-related question. They are all free of charge and we don’t sell anything. We don’t pitch our business. We don’t do any of that stuff.
Clients seem to like us a lot more because we deliver something well. They always refer us to other clients. What that means is we haven’t spent any money on any marketing. Everything comes organically to us, and we are referred to by trusted people.”
Even Well-Established Companies Make Mistakes
“Five, six months ago, we had a pitch with a huge international company, but they were very upfront. They had no idea about SEO, and they’d never even considered it. And I went bowling in with all these changes, it wasn’t offensive per se, but it needed to be more gradual than I went in. So I learned the hard way.
They called us back two weeks later and said we were unsuccessful but gave us all the reasons why. Kick up the ass I needed anyway. But, yeah, we’ve seen international companies without anything in place.”
Our Keyword Decipher Software is for Inner Use
“Our software is staying internal to us. We might allow certain handpicked agencies to use it. We call it keyword decipher. We’re keeping that internal because it’s a bit of a learning curve to use it, and we don’t want the names to be butchered by poor use of it.”
We Chose This Business Mostly Because Of SEO Community and Conferences
“The SEO community is always bringing something new. You will learn the coolest thing from someone who has never heard of you before. If you go to conferences as we do, you meet a lot of cool people and you meet the most random people. You start talking, and then you realize this person is a genius, and then you become friends, and you learn something from them. And that’s the other thing I love about SEO.”
Useful Advice and Resources for SEO Beginners
“I think my advice would be to start doing it. Don’t overthink it. I’ve seen where people overthink, and they spent years trying to think, ‘I want to do everything right before I start something.’ I think that’s always a bad idea. You’ve got to start somewhere, and you could have the most basic website. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to spend $10,000 building a fresh, polished website to start. You can start with a basic WordPress website, which is free, by the way, and then build from there.”
[00:00:04] Jon Penland: Hey everyone. My name is Jon Penland and Reverse Engineered is brought to you by Kinsta, a premium managed hosting provider. In today’s episode, I’m talking with Suganthan Mohanadasan and Andy Chadwick, founders of Snippet Digital. Suganthan and Andy, welcome to Reverse Engineered.
[00:00:20] Andy Chadwick: Thanks Jon. Nice to be here.
[00:00:20] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Thanks, Jon. Nice to be here.
[00:00:23] Jon Penland: Yeah. Thank you guys so much for taking some time to chat with me today. So to get us started, can you each introduce yourselves to our listeners?
[00:00:33] Andy Chadwick: You go first Suganthan.
[00:00:35] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I’m the co-founder and the technical SEO lead at Snippet Digital. I oversee pretty much all the technical SEO side of things pretty much. Yeah, that’s what I do.
[00:00:48] Andy Chadwick: Yeah. And I’m the other co-founder and I guess I’m more content-based. I like to deal with the content and a bit of the PR side of stuff. And then basically Suganthan and I have, it’s like a Venn diagram. We have a nice little overlap in the middle, which is I guess why we decided to pair up in the end. We both complimented each other that way.
[00:01:14] Jon Penland: Nice. So I was actually gonna ask about that. Suganthan, you are on the more technical side. So just for the sake of our listeners, what are we talking about there, on-page SEO, a proper structure of markup, that type of thing?
[00:01:27] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah, it’s pretty much, yeah. Anything from crawling, indexing, anything SEO side, technical side. Pretty much the server-side: all websites, backend, server-side rendering, which are the way the website users, whatever the tech, and pretty much everything related to tech as well, like analyzing log files, and I also do a little bit of analytics side as well on top of that.
[00:01:52] Jon Penland: Okay. So do you have a, do you have a technical background at all as a developer or anything like that?
[00:01:55] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I’m not a developer, but I do have a technical background. I used to be a web developer a long time ago. Like really long time ago, but yeah, so I do have some technical background, development background, yes.
[00:02:10] Jon Penland: And Andy, so then you are on the strategy side- you had mentioned content. Can you speak a little bit about what your focus is there within the partnership?
[00:02:22] Andy Chadwick: Yeah. So I guess strategy is a good way of looking at it. So my background is, if I go into a bit of that and maybe add some context… About seven years ago, I started a company with a friend of mine in the living room. And we were selling roller shutters. Absolutely had no idea about roller shutters.
[00:02:45] We were just on everyone’s website and we thought, “Yeah, these look pretty bad. We can make a better website.” And didn’t even know what SEO was. But I thought, “Yeah if I just get this on Google, we’ll rank it.” So basically we put a strategy together about how to do that. And fast forward a few years, four years we were having a turnover of about two and a half million and I sold the company to my friend in the end, but it was all this idea of strategy.
[00:03:12] What can we do? It felt a bit of a nice idea there. I always remember this, I always wanted to break into Dubai, in the Middle East, and Hong Kong in the Far East. The reason being is I’ve always wanted to travel, which is why, if you fast forward to now, I got into this because I can travel and work where I want.
[00:03:33] Anyway, so I really wanted to break into the Middle East. And so I kept flying out there to see people and meet people. And whenever they were about to place an order, it never happened, and I couldn’t work out why. And so I sat some guy down in a bar once and he said “Look, we’ll use the American building standards. And you’re obviously based in the UK.” So we paid some guy to go sit in a library for about three days and just write up and compare all the building codes together. And then we sat in that, so everyone, every architect and builder in Dubai, and all of a sudden we started getting a flood of orders through from Dubai.
[00:04:06] So I guess it’s this idea of, yeah, what are we doing and what can we do differently to everyone else? Yeah, I do this. Well, I guess we both do the strategy, but Suganthan put it really well on another thing we had, on another interview that I think I come up with lots of ideas and then Suganthan reality checks them. So I’ll come up with 10 ideas and Suganthan will shoot several of them down, but we’ll go with three. So that’s why it works well together.
[00:04:37] Jon Penland: Excellent. Okay. So now you’ve given us each a picture of what you do independently or what your skill sets are. Tell us a little bit about Snippet Digital. So what does Snippet Digital do?
[00:04:50] Andy Chadwick: So I’ll go first and then Suganthan can answer. First and foremost, we’re an SEO consultancy. We’re clear to make that subtle, nuanced difference between consultancy and agency because for two reasons. We want to stay small, and we do a lot of white labeling for other agencies and we work with in-house clients as well, so that there is a subtle nuance there and we’re quite clear about trying to define that. Being as though we want to stay small, leads us to our, our next USP and why things have started to take off for us. Because we’re small, we’ve had a heavy focus on, “Okay, these are what typically is done inefficiently? What can we develop? What tools can we bring to them? What can we make that can either automate these processes or utilize technology out there?” And Suganthan and I literally started nine, ten months ago, and a lot of our time and effort has been going into developing tools that utilize machine learning, artificial intelligence, all these new things that really take the heavy lifting off of a lot of processes that typically you’d have 15 to 20 people in an agency doing.
[00:06:02] Don’t get me wrong. We have got a network of freelancers who aid us a bit. But our main USP and the main thing that Suganthan and I are trying to differentiate ourselves on is our tech stack. I dunno if you want to add to anything there Suganthan.
[00:06:22] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah, exactly. I think you put it quite well Andy. From my point, the way I look at it as well, we also bring two different types of skillsets. And as he said earlier, we overlap in the middle. Where I bring more of a technical side and Andy brings all his strategy and content side.
[00:06:43] And then we recently had one guy joining us and he’s got he’s our CTO. And so he takes all the machine learning parts, like all the heavy development. We used to do that initially, Andy used to do some of this, but then, it just got a bit more difficult, so we brought in a CTO now. And he took out all the machine learning started. We prepared in a way in SEO that content strategy, technical SEO, and machine learning. So we just make a nice, we call it like a triangle.
[00:07:17] Andy Chadwick: I think that speaks volumes, our first member of staff that we employed, wasn’t another SEO, it wasn’t even an accounts person, although now we have got someone managing our accounts. The first person we actually employed was someone with 15 years of deep learning and machine learning experience. So that I think that sort of sets the tone of where we’re trying to go.
[00:07:36] Jon Penland: Yeah. That’s interesting. So you’ve hit on something I did want to ask you about, which was this idea of staying small. Because Andy, you mentioned, that there is an intent to stay small. And when I looked on your website it sounded like it was really just- there was the wording Snippet Digital as a two-person SEO consulting firm.
[00:07:56] So it sounds like you guys are perhaps already larger than a two-person consulting firm. Am I hearing that? And how do you think about staying small? Is that an intentional choice you’ve made?
[00:08:05] Andy Chadwick: Yes, and no. It’s a two-man consulting firm in the way that Suganthan and I oversee and have our toes, more than our toes, up to our heads in every client and what we do.
[00:08:21] Jon Penland: Okay.
[00:08:21] Andy Chadwick: The strategy is done by us. Everything is done by us, other than maybe some of the heavy lifting work now. That’s done by… So we’ve started to build up a network of very talented freelancers.
[00:08:35] Again, not employed. We want to stay small and efficient. So the way, if you were a client of ours, the way we sell it to you, well, not sell it, but the way we’d pitch ourselves to you is that “Look, we can scale with you. If you just want strategy, me and Suganthan will do it. If you want just someone to pass over tech or reports, Suganthan is going to do it. If you want some content briefs, I’ll do that. If you want to start churning out lots of content, if you want to start implementing code, we can take all of that. If you don’t have the in-house resources, we can take care of that for you. We’re very open- here are the freelancers that we use. And then we put it onto our guests, our network.”
[00:09:19] So it means our overhead stay small. It means we can- I guess traditionally what we, yeah, it just means our overheads can stay small and we can be really cost-efficient with the client’s time. And it means Suganthan and I can put more of our time into that client rather than having someone, we don’t make big margins, our hourly wage is our hourly wage, and yeah…
[00:09:45] Suganthan Mohanadasan: We also don’t do any sort of black box system with the clients where clients, we charge them X amount and then we do all the work and they don’t know what’s going on. What we do is we get involved with the client. We get involved with their team. We get involved with their developers. Their in-house SEO, and we help in-house SEOs with everything they need. And almost like training them for the long run in a way.
[00:10:05] So we never want to become like a permanent fixture in any of the companies. What we want to be like an extension to their current efforts and current marketing efforts. And it’s a good model that seems to be working really well for us.
[00:10:19] Jon Penland: Yeah. So what I’m hearing I think is a model where there are the two of you who are really the consultants within the business. And then you have a network of freelancers that you use to supplement your services, where you need specific skill sets. So where you need writing services, where you need development services, any sort of technical or specialized service, you’re pulling in your freelance network to do those things.
[00:10:48] But by working with freelancers, you avoid building up excessive overhead, and that allows you to be very nimble in how you work with your customers. Did I get the idea there properly?
[00:11:01] Andy Chadwick: Yeah. And it means I guess a big advantage to our clients is it means, when we first started, we didn’t want to put clients into retainers. We wanted to do away with it, we wanted to do away with that model. We’ve learned it actually doesn’t work. The reason being is we can’t plan for anything.
[00:11:24] It means that, one month, because freelancers have got their own jobs. And if a client one month suddenly goes, “I want more”, all of a sudden they don’t want anything but we’ve taken on freelancers. It just didn’t work. We’ve changed it. And we do one-off deliverables, which is fine.
[00:11:53] If we’re all under the understanding that it is a one-off delivery. Eight times out of ten, after we’ve done the one-off deliverable, they want to sign a contract with us and implement that deliverable. Which is great. But now we have to have a rotation. We don’t want long retainers though still.
[00:11:58] We’re still talking 6 to 12 months. Some agencies lock you in for three to five years. Six to twelve months is our maximum. But, within that month, and this is where we are slightly different, we have a minimum retainer, let’s call it X amount. If one month they suddenly want a lot more, we can scale it up and then bring it back down again. It’s really nimble like that which is what works really well.
[00:12:22] Suganthan Mohanadasan: We try to be flexible. We thought putting restrictions on the clients. So what we found out, if you’re really firmed with certain restriction, it’s makes the client’s life a lot difficult. Especially if in-house ICO is up to buy in is always difficult from their management.
[00:12:37] So for us it’s we tried to be as much flexible as possible. And because both of us had in-house experience as well in the past, so that means we understand. Sometimes not that easy to do the buy-in. So what we teach, we tried to help the in-house people by being as flexible as possible.
[00:12:53] Jon Penland: Yeah. One of the things that I noticed- you’ve mentioned it and it’s on your website- is that you’ve made the point of saying “We’re not an agency where we’re an extension of your internal team. We’re an extension of your existing team.” And I hear you talking a lot about flexibility and about how you work on one-off projects.
[00:13:16] If you, do you use a retainer it’s really a minimum retainer and then they’re services added on top of that as needed. Is that what you mean when you say that you’re an extension rather than an agency? Walk me through, what does that mean? How would you differentiate between a traditional agency and what Snippet Digital does?
[00:13:32] Andy Chadwick: Traditional agencies obviously judge themselves on a churn rate. They don’t want to lose clients. They want them for as long as possible. Suganthan and I are, we’re happy to train your in-house teams. And for – what’s the word I’m looking for? And for our involvement in your business to tail off gradually.
[00:14:01] So I can’t name any clients, but an example of a recent pitch we did is they didn’t have any in-house marketing. They had, sorry they had the in-house marketing, but nothing to do with SEO. They were very open. They want to do in-house in the next three to four years. So Suganthan and I are pitched started: this is what it’s going to be month to month based on the fact that we’re doing everything. We’re hoping by month six, you’ve got so on and then we’ll drop into this. And actually, they’ve asked us to maybe even be involved in helping them to recruit. And we’re happy to do that. We’re happy to yeah, basically bring them up. It works for everyone. I think there’s this whole lot thing about agencies are going to die out. Everyone’s good in-house and to a point that might be true. But I think if a business completely… The difference between agencies and consultants to in-house teams is that we have to be more on top of it.
[00:15:00] We have to be a lot more aware of what’s going on day to day. And I think that I’ve seen it swing both ways. I’ve been agency side and I’ve been in-house. I’ve seen loads of businesses in-house and then three to four years, they all go agency again and they swing it and it keeps going like that. So I think where we’re trying to be a little bit different is, we’ll train your team, and then when you need us again in a year, we’ll just dip in, bring things up to date, bring your processes up to date and we’ll dip out again. We’re happy just to, Suganthan’s term is to not be a permanent extension, which…
[00:15:30] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think it’s also, there’s a benefit for the companies/clients, as well, for them not being able to rely on training their teams internally to a point where they can self-sufficient, they can do all the work. And also what happens in most companies, when they start working on it, they just don’t look at it from a fresh set of eyes.
[00:15:50] So we are that people. We are always looking at it from a different angle all the time and say, “Hey guys, it seems like..” And recently, here’s a good example, I was looking at a blog, a client’s blog, and I noticed they haven’t had any sort of sidebar pages in their blog. And I questioned why they don’t have it?
[00:16:05] And they said, yeah, they had it before they removed it. I’m like, “Maybe that’s something we should look into it.” And they thought, “Yeah, you know what? That’s actually a good idea.” I said, “Maybe we should put up an opt-in form there on the sidebar and test it, see if that helps.” So it’s not just SEO, it’s not just limited SEO because I think also Andy, and we got more digital marketing experience in the PPC side as well.
[00:16:23] Even though we don’t provide that as a service, we do have experience running Facebook ads and all of that. So we do understand overall marketing. The important part is that SEO is not just one thing. You have to incorporate SEO with all the other marketing channels. Everything has to work hand in hand.
[00:16:39] So because we have the experience of the other channels, we understand what clients need as well, what other clients need, so we can work it accordingly.
[00:16:50] Jon Penland: Sure. Yeah. That’s an interesting approach. I don’t think a lot of businesses approach their customers with the idea that “If we do our job really well, you’re not going to necessarily need us in six months or 12 months.” That at some point down the road, we’re an extension to your internal team, but we’re not a permanent extension.
[00:17:12] And there will come a time where it makes sense for you to go move on and do your own thing. How do you… I’m curious about your thinking around that approach. How do you feel secure taking that approach, I guess is the way I want to ask it? How do you not, how do you not live in constant terror that, that you’re going to do a great job and as a result, none of your customers are going to need you anymore?
[00:17:37] Andy Chadwick: And this is why we stay small by staying small, by not employing people, we can’t judge ourselves on our churn turn. We judge ourselves on our testimonials and the feedback we get. But not on our churn rate. If we do our job well, our churn rate is going to be higher because we’re happy to train those teams. And by staying small and by not recruiting, it’s not really such a worry for us. And if we keep doing our job properly, what is there- there’s 70 million small businesses in the UK alone, add America and Norway onto that. There’s just enough. It’s just not a concern.
[00:18:15] Suganthan Mohanadasan: But what we found out about this as well, Andy… When we bring this approach, clients seem to like us a lot more because when we deliver something really well, they always refer us to other clients. So what that means is we haven’t spent any money, any sort of marketing. We haven’t done any sort of marketing. So everything comes organically to us and referred by people and trusted people.
[00:18:37] Jon Penland: That’s interesting. That was actually going to be one of my questions is, as I was looking at your website, even at Snippet Digital’s website and then your individual websites, I didn’t see a ton of marketing. And so I was curious how do you go about attracting clients? Is that all word of mouth?
[00:18:57] Andy Chadwick: Yeah, so far it has been. Yeah. We dabbled in a LinkedIn thing for the first week and we quickly, that was a disaster. We stopped doing that. We didn’t need it.
[00:19:14] Suganthan Mohanadasan: One thing we do is be active on social media as well. Like we’ve got a decent following on LinkedIn and Twitter. So we stay quite active on that, Andy not much, but I’m quite active on social media. And yeah, we tried to talk about it. We try to always help people as well. Like we’re also part of a few SEO forums and channels, like Slack channels, like one called Traffic Think Tank, which is huge. Like you will find all this yours hang out there. So we try to hang out there, but we try to help people as much as possible. We don’t expect anything from anyone by helping. And we love helping new people, new beers, like anyone’s coming to SEO, we host a Clubhouse call every Friday, one hour. Anyone can come and ask any question, SEO-related. We do everything completely free of charge and we don’t sell anything. We don’t pitch our business. We don’t do any of that stuff.
[00:20:05] Jon Penland: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s interesting. And in that scenario, you are not necessarily, from my perspective, you’re not necessarily interacting with people there who are going to be your clients, if anything, those are going to be your competitors. So I’m curious how that translates into business or am I just thinking about it wrong? Are your customers actually there?
[00:20:27] Andy Chadwick: I don’t know the answer to that.
[00:20:30] Suganthan Mohanadasan: That’s a good question actually.
[00:20:33] Andy Chadwick: You know Jon, I couldn’t tell the answer. It comes that a big topic that we’ve been talking a lot about is personal branding. And I think it comes down to that a lot.
[00:20:48] Suganthan Mohanadasan: You’re talking about blogging and stuff Andy, the blogging stuff, yeah.
[00:20:52] Andy Chadwick: Yeah, personal branding, Suganthan was right when he… Suganthan helps a lot of people without asking for anything in return and the word gets around like that. It all sounds quite ephemeral and like esoteric and hidden… But actually, that is what we’re doing. We’re not.. We’re just helping people. I think the biggest problem people have, with doing this, as it has taken time. Sure.
[00:21:17] What I mean is Snippet Digital, hasn’t taken time, Snippet Digital has been up nine months. But I’ve been building up my name for over three years and Suganthan has been building his up over 10 years. So it’s the reason we joined together works because we already had the name. Rise at Seven are a good example of this. Carrie Rose is, her name is massive and she’s all about personal branding and people buying into Carrie Rose. So they buy into them. And she says it wonderfully. I think she had a phrase where “Don’t be afraid to teach people what you know now, because by the time they’re implementing it, you should already be on to the next thing”, which is a great idea.
[00:21:53] Suganthan Mohanadasan: That’s exactly what we do Andy, we don’t hold anything. We teach people all the time on our blog posts. And if you come up with a new idea and we always share it and say, “Hey guys, it seems like this is something new. Have you guys tried this? this is what we had done. And this is the resource.” We try to share as much as possible. We don’t hold. We have no secrets. We just don’t hold anything. We just share everything we learn.
[00:22:15] Andy Chadwick: Yeah, so like an example, I wrote a blog recently on faster navigation. And I can pin it down to why it’s typically a topic which is shrouded in mystery and uses overly complex words and development speak. And I made just the really simple article, posted it, and that one blog within four weeks led to about 16 and a half grand worth of business. Just by going big and simplifying an issue.
[00:22:46] Jon Penland: Yeah, I guess that does make sense. Because there’s probably a good chance I suspect that your customers are actually in those spaces where a small business owner is trying to figure out SEO for themselves or where you have a small internal marketing team and they’re trying to scale things and they don’t really know what to do next.
[00:23:05] Probably some of your competitors are in there as well, but your customers are there, as well, because they need the information and they’re looking for a consultancy to help them take those next step.
[00:23:18] Andy Chadwick: We also, you mentioned small companies, a lot that a lot of our companies are actually rather big. And the people who hire us, so the head of SEO for that company, and sometimes they want us to- either they don’t have the resources internally and they want us to help. Sometimes they just want a second eye over things. Or sometimes it’s the director himself and he doesn’t want to hire an SEO department, but he wants to hire all the staff so that we basically guide them. Sometimes it’s just SEOs of already big companies asking us to look over their work.
[00:23:57] And again, we’d be very honest with it. Sometimes, and I think this sort of word of honesty gets around, sometimes the SEOs who’ve asked us to cast a second eye over their work, have done a better job than we were going to do when we looked at it. And we’ve said “Look okay, I know honored that you’ve asked us, but what you’ve just provided us is insanely good. We don’t want to take your money ’cause we weren’t offering the value to you.” And we were very honest like that as well.
[00:24:22] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah, I think I tweeted about this couple of days ago. I, when Andy, actually talked about this, I said “We don’t chase money, what we chase is problems in SEO.” I think it’s also our nature because both of us are quite curious people and because we are technical, we try to always solve so many issues. So I think that’s one of the things we do as well, we always try to chase a problem. And if you see a problem with flying, so we jump on it and say, “Okay, how can we fix it? What’s the best way to do this?” I think people can see that, like even clients, they can see that we’re not there just to sell them something. We don’t sell anything. We don’t even have a salesperson or anyone. We’re just being completely honest with clients and what we can [do, what we… There are times that Andy said earlier, we just can’t do more than what they have done already. And they’ve already done a great job. In that case, we just say, “Hey guys, look, sorry, there’s nothing more we can do here.” Yeah.
[00:25:10] Jon Penland: Yeah. It’s funny. A couple of times, Andy you’ve mentioned, where you guys help companies that are trying to build a marketing team or build an SEO team. And it just reminded me. We had somebody internally who was doing marketing and it was really, maybe one or… there were really two or three people working together.
[00:25:30] And one of our key people left. And we were left with the task of building a marketing team and by in large, we didn’t really even know the language. I, I know a little bit about SEO, but it’s very limited. And our ability to think about- ’cause you guys have talked about SEO is really connected to the entire marketing picture.
[00:25:56] When we talk about online marketing,it just strikes me the potential value there to bring that expertise in for a company. Kinsta a year ago was already well-established and here we were sitting there going, “We need to build a marketing team and we don’t even really know the language.”
[00:26:15] Is that something you found that as you approach a company and you think these guys have got it figured out and you get in there and go, “Okay, so a really well-established company really may still have a lot to learn.”
[00:26:28] Andy Chadwick: And in fact, I’ve been honest with this before. We had the biggest pitch of our lives five, six months ago. A huge international, when I say international company I mean every country, huge company. And yeah, quite honestly it wasn’t so much the marketing team is the asset, but they were very upfront. They had no idea about SEO and they’d never even considered it. And I went bowling in with all these changes that should be made, not really taking into account that… It wasn’t offensive per se, but it wasn’t it needed to be more gradual than I went in. And yeah, so I learned the hard way. He was very good. He called us back two weeks later and said we were unsuccessful but gave us all the reasons why. Kick up the ass I needed anyway. But yeah, to answer your question, we’ve seen international companies just without anything in place.
[00:27:30] Suganthan Mohanadasan: A huge potential to win by making very simple changes, but they still kept the idea that it’s a product-first company, but it wasn’t the fault of the SEOs, anyway. It’s not even anyone’s fault. It’s just the way the business ran. It was the product first only. And they always looked at SEO as the last thing. It all comes down to the management decisions, at the end of the day. Even people who work there, they are helpless sometimes.
[00:27:58] Jon Penland: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So I want to back up, because one question that we haven’t talked about at all is how did Snippet Digital come to be? I know you both have been in the space for a number of years establishing your own personal brands. And then if I understand correctly, Snippet Digital came into being maybe nine months ago or so. Is that about right? How did that happen?
[00:28:18] Andy Chadwick: Ten.
[00:28:18] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah. About 10 months though, yeah.
[00:28:20] Jon Penland: Yeah. How did that happen?
[00:28:22] Andy Chadwick: A couple of pints and a packet of Chris Johns to be honest. I was already building a really basic version of… So what we’re getting known for now is our keyword categorization tool which uses machine learning and natural linguistic programming to basically speed up that process.
[00:28:40] And I had already built a basic version of PHP and I was showing Suganthan over a pint in a pub in London. Suganthan and I have only met once by the way, because then it all went into lockdown. And then, yeah, Suganthan was talking to me about all sorts of stuff, I didn’t understand.
[00:29:00] And we were like, “Yeah, let’s just get together.” And then we meant to get together a month or two later, but I went to Australia and I got stranded there because of COVID. So I was there for three months. Timezone difference just meant, we just weren’t talking very much. And then yeah, we just thought, “No, we need to push ahead with this.”
[00:29:17] So yeah, we slowly, we’re both consultants as well. We’ve got us our own businesses and then we’ve got Snippet in the middle. We’re slowly pushing more and more of our resources to Snippet because we’re more excited about it. It’s got the tools we’re building, it’s got the IPs that we own.
[00:29:41] It’s growing as a team in itself. And to be honest, I don’t have time to do my own stuff anymore. So it’s just that gradually moving what clients I can from my own little consultant thing to Snippet. But with Snippet, we’ve got a minimum threshold of the caliber of client and caliber being minimum type spends. So some of those clients can’t come over. But at the same time, and I don’t want to leave them in the lurch. So it’s trying to just taper that off a little bit.
[00:30:14] Jon Penland: That is something I was curious about, because I did see that you both had freelancing businesses on the side. And I was curious how you balance your freelance projects against what you’re doing together at Snippet Digital? And it sounds like what I’m hearing is that really the freelance businesses, they’re still going on, because maybe there are some situations where clients aren’t right for Snippet Digital. But that Snippet Digital is where your focus is right now.
[00:30:43] Is that true for both of you? Okay. Suganthan are you in the same boat where you have clients who have been with you for a long time, that you’re still working with? All right. So at this point, are you guys, you’re actively moving clients from your freelance business, into Snippet Digital, where they are a reasonable fit for the project?
[00:31:01] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yep. Yep, absolutely.
[00:31:01] Andy Chadwick: Yeah. And anyone who inquires to my personal one I make a call on whether they’re “big” enough to move over. If they’re not at the moment, I’m turning them down. I don’t have the time. If they are, I introduce them to Snippet Digital instead.
[00:31:20] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I do the same. I do the same from my end. Yeah.
[00:31:23] Jon Penland: All right. Okay. Very nice.
[00:31:26] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Process what we also believe you’re under the other point. I want to make that on that, that we also believe in sort of work-life balance. One thing that both of us don’t want to, is to burn out work so many hours, day and night, trying to build something, which we both are getting set up. We got families. And what we do is also want to make sure whatever work we do is done efficiently and we have enough time for our families and our personal life as well.
[00:31:48] Andy Chadwick: Speak for yourself at the moment, bloody hell.
[00:31:52] Jon Penland: Yeah. I did actually want to ask about that. If we back up one step and look at the big picture, people start businesses for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes folks just need income, or maybe they’re trying to solve a problem they really care about, or maybe they’re trying to create a certain kind of life. There are other possibilities as well. And I’m curious for each of you, what are the reasons that motivated you to want to found and build Snippet Digital?
[00:32:19] Andy Chadwick: I wanted to build something that can be… So the SEO consultant is part of it, but my biggest excitement is building the tools that we’re building. I really wanted to use the word legacy sounds pretentious. I wanted to, I want to build something that I could…It’s more something to be proud of when you’ve got something physical that people are using.
[00:32:49] And I, wasn’t going to achieve that on my own with my own consultancy, A) because the branding wouldn’t have worked, B) I wouldn’t have other resources, C) I wouldn’t have been able to get the sort of clients that would pay the money that would fund those tools being built. So for me, it was the idea of building something that excited me.
[00:33:11] Jon Penland: And how about you, Suganthan?
[00:33:12] Suganthan Mohanadasan: For me, it’s a bit more around… Before I did a Snippet, I worked for the VC firm in the UK. And I was earning quite comfortable money and I haven’t had any issue with the finance side of things. And I was also doing a lot of freelance work in Norway itself. But I think it got to the point where I just wanted to do something different because I just wanted to do something, as Andy said earlier, something to put my name on it and say, “You know what? This is something we built that we’re quite proud of.” That’s when I met Andy and I realized this the tool idea that came and we said, “Yeah, that’s something we can really build.” One of the other things, that’s all I noticed because I use lots of tools in the SEO industry.
[00:33:51] There are thousands of tools. What I realized is most of the tools, they lacked actionable insight. They lack action. They all give you the data. So they will say, “If you want to keep our data” they will tell you “Then keep our data.” But it won’t tell you what to do, how to do, how to execute it.
[00:34:06] That’s always the difficult bit, right? That’s the problem that I wanted to solve. That’s when I met Andy and I realized Andy has a really interesting tool that he already built a back framework and that we just built on top of it. And we were quite excited about our tools. And that’s the main goal, is not even the main- sort of building an agency. That’s why we also stay small because if you had an agency would have hired 15 people by now, which is not the case.
[00:34:28] Jon Penland: Sure. Yeah. So it’s interesting to hear you both have a product focus at when present time, if I go to your website, it’s primarily geared more towards a consultancy. And so I did want to talk about, what the… Because your website says that your efforts are facilitated by your own proprietary software, which is in continual development. So I wanted to talk about that without asking you to give away any secrets. What is this software and let’s start with that. What is it that you guys have built internally that you’re using?
[00:35:00] Andy Chadwick: There’s about four different parts now. They all need to be combined, but one is staying internal to us. Maybe we will allow certain handpicked agencies to use it. We call it keyword decipher. And it’s what makes sense of your keyword research type data. We’re keeping that internal because it’s a bit of a learning curve to use it and we don’t want the names to be butchered by poor use of it.
[00:35:34] And it really is one of our selling points when we pitch of why you should use us. So I guess that tool is built to get… that’s our USP. And then we’ve got another tool which Suganthan can talk more about ’cause it’s more of his baby. Parts of it work into keyword decipher, but it’s like a clustering in a context tool. Which probably won’t mean anything if I just say on this, but we’re trying to release that actually as a SaaS tool.
[00:36:12] Suganthan Mohanadasan: A SaaS tool, it’s gonna be a SaaS tool. Yeah. It’s currently in private beta.
[00:36:17] Jon Penland: So I was going to ask, is that going to be under the Snippet Digital brand or is that a different venture entirely and Snippet Digital lives on as a consultancy?
[00:36:24] Suganthan Mohanadasan: It’s going to be part of Snippet Digital.
[00:36:27] Andy Chadwick: But it is on a different domain.
[00:36:29] Suganthan Mohanadasan: It’s gonna be a different domain, different brand name. It will be managed by us.
[00:36:32] Jon Penland: Yeah. And continue to be I assume a core part of what you guys bring to your clients. All right. So that’s two pieces, there’s the keyword decipher and the cluster or context tool, which I don’t know if Suganthan wants to provide any context?
[00:36:45] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I can explain a little bit it’s about clustering and grouping keywords by topic. We use machine learning models, proprietary models, that we trained, custom train models do, and also live searching of results data to scrape data. And we figure out a way to combine keywords.
[00:37:07] So you can do that at scale. It’s not a new idea, definitely not a new idea. There’s there are quite a few other tools out there that does exactly what we do, but we do a bit more differently. I think our accuracy is a lot higher. And our approach, our deliverable on that, the output is quite easy and it’s actionable as a pivoted table. We give you the data. So you can do it at scale as well. You could do fifty thousand, one hundred thousand, two hundred thousand keywords that you can put in and…
[00:37:32] Andy Chadwick: Two and a half million.
[00:37:33] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah, you can go up to 2 million. It’s not a problem because we can support that kind of scale. I think it’s all about scale as well, even on our keyword decipher platform.
[00:37:42] That’s what Andy was saying earlier. Like most of the keyword research output- any agency will always give you a Google Excel document for video keywords. And there’s always a limit to 5 million rows, but we can do millions of rows with our tech. I think that’s where we’re always better.
[00:37:59] And also you’ve probably heard about search intention that you’re not trying to figure out the intent of the search query. We also do, that’s what I do is saying about content, that we could figure out, we can tell you exactly the type of content that you want to produce for a keyword, given keyword, by analyzing the search was SERPs.
[00:38:15] Andy Chadwick: Yeah, I think to give you like a, I guess an example would be easier to conceptualize it. The clustering part basically allows you to very quickly, as Suganthan said, group key, but what we mean by group them is it’s not just based on the semantic relation to one another. It’s actually, these are the keywords you can target within one page. And these are the keywords you can target on another page.
[00:38:44] The reason I’m making the clear distinction that it doesn’t just use semantic relationships is sometimes two keywords you think are really related, and yet you’re in the month through our tool and actually, they are to Google at least and Bing, and being shows two different results for the seemingly two similar keywords.
[00:39:01] An example was we had a client that sells vaporizers and we had vaporizer parts as one cluster, and then we had vaporizer accessories as another cluster. And I was thinking those two clusters, surely vaporizer parts, and vape accessories are the same thing. And then what was even more interesting…
[00:39:25] Yeah. And then what was even more interesting is when you drop down vaporizer accessories, or I can’t remember which way around, but when you dropped down vaporizer vape parts, the keyword vaporizer accessories within was in that cluster rather than in vape accessories and your thinking… That’s when we thought until it was broken, we actually tested, we tested it.
[00:39:44] I know vaporizer accessories had more in common with vape parts than it did with vape accessories. And we asked the owner and he had to think about it for a minute. And then he actually said, actually, that makes sense. There’s a slight nuance between tobacco and cannabis smokers and they call them, wouldn’t have even seen that. And you would have been optimizing for the wrong page or whatever.
[00:40:08] So that’s the clustering part. And then the intent, we call it context now. Because there’s all this buzz about intent. And if you Google or watch videos of people working out keyword intent, what is you’ll see is someone have a list of keywords and they’ll drag down a formula and it will say like transactional, location, video, this sort of stuff.
[00:40:35] And we actually did develop something that did that. It was so hard and it looks cool, but it was so hard to actually do anything with that information, okay. This keyword, transactional, locational, visual, what do you want me to do with that? So we made that, we peeled that right back and made it simple.
[00:40:52] Do I need to write a blog post? Do I need a product page, or is it some other page I need? Just three, that’s it. So now what happens is you’ll have three columns and it will tell you of the 10 results in Google how many products, how many are blog? So sometimes you’ll get fragmented in ten, right? You’ll get some keywords that trigger five blogs and five transactional pages. We can see that now. And we know that you’ve got two opportunities to rank there. And you see some really interesting things. Again, the way, if you see it all the time on LinkedIn and stuff, the way people are at the moment classifying these keywords is they’re saying, “Okay, if you’ve got the word, why, how, guide to, where it’s going to be a blog.” If it’s got the word sale, buy, to a coupon, it’ s going to be transactional. But if it’s just a seed keyword, it’s probably going to be transactional. So iPhone 7, that’s probably going to be transactional because if someone’s Googling iPhone 7, surely they want to buy an iPhone 7. Now if you Google iPhone 7 now, you’ll see probably I think six results are actually blog and four are actually product pages.
[00:42:00] So that’s an example of where you’ve just completely gone the wrong way with it. ‘Cause iPhone 7, it’s The Verge is one, top three things you didn’t know about iPhone, Mac Rumors, Wikipedia then, and then there’s an Argus or a Walmart ad, then there’s another blog, another comparison, then there’s, the Apple app. So keywords like that, which traditionally, and typically people would put into a transactional bucket actually need that bit extra. And as Suganthan said there are tools that do similar things. We just think ours is we know ours is a lot more accurate.
[00:42:37] Suganthan Mohanadasan: It’s more actionable.
[00:42:39] Jon Penland: It sounds like you’re making it simpler for the user. Like they don’t have to then interpret what should they take away from this information. You’re just telling them “This is what you need to do here”. Yeah. Yeah. So you had mentioned that there were four tools internally and I’m not sure how many we’ve covered.
[00:43:01] Andy Chadwick: Those are the two key ones. We’re doing a content auditing type thing as well. And then, off the back of that, we want to do an internal linking thing. The weird thing is they all use the same logic. They all use the same, they use part of the Bert algorithm is one, which is the same algorithm Google uses. And they all use the same logic, just tweaked in different ways.
[00:43:22] So that the end goal is to push it all together, not to make one platform, but there’s actually a clear workflow there. You do your keyword research and you feed them into our clustering and context tool. You click a button and that pushes it to keyword decipher. Now you can visualize it. And then you click another button and it will start auditing the content you’ve already got and merging it with the keyword research.
[00:43:39] And then finally you click another button and it will show you out to then internally linked to the content you’ve started. So there’s a really nice workflow there. But at the moment, they’re very segmented locally on a mine and Suganthan’s computers as they aren’t even out of beta yet. We’re not going to beat ourselves out because it’s only nine months and we’ve got two off the ground.
[00:44:06] Suganthan Mohanadasan: We also have smaller tools as well, Jon. We’ve got quite a few smaller tools. Internal use, like site migrations, like when you want to do a migrate a website, you want to map the old URL structure to the new one, if they changed the structure. But if their site is a big site with thousands of pages, it’s impossible almost to manually map this, right? We get redirects. We’ve got a tool that again, uses the Bert algorithm to contextually map the redirect. So with the press of a button, we could map thousands of pages, and contextually, it’s not just even doesn’t even need the exact words in the URLs to match. It could look at semantically and say, “Yeah. Yeah. There’s a semantical area to this.” Yeah. So we got lots of small other tools as well. Like Google ads matching. Like we could take your Google ad keywords and try to match everyday organic again. So we could do a lot of cool stuff like that.
[00:44:51] Andy Chadwick: Yeah, a good example of the URL mapping. One is a lot of people use Fuzzy Logic and it works well. It can compare to URLs that are similar enough. But what happens if these URLs that have much in similar to it. And we have so a really good example. Recently we’ve run it, a guy had a blog called Cash Strapped, if it’s about what to do when you cash strapped.
[00:45:15] And they had another blog about being under pressure. And for one reason or other, one didn’t exist anymore. And if you run that through a Fuzzy Logic, it wouldn’t pair up anything because there’s nothing to pair up to. But what our one did is it paired up these blog on cash strapped to the one on being under pressure. Contextually, it was quite, it was really clever.
[00:45:37] Jon Penland: Yeah. Yeah. okay. So you’ve got all of these different tools. You’re using them internally, some of them just locally on your computers for today. So is the plan then to transition at some point from being a consultancy to being a SaaS company? Or do you plan to run the two things side-by-side? Like what’s the long-term trajectory here for Snippet Digital?
[00:46:02] Andy Chadwick: I think we both got our own ideas, I think.
[00:46:06] Jon Penland: Okay. All right. All right.
[00:46:11] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Andy, did you want to start?
[00:46:16] Andy Chadwick: I don’t know how much can I say.
[00:46:17] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think for us, it’s just to develop the tools further. And it’s also about, it’s just challenging anything new concepts and try to figure out everything, but anything new, like internal linking, for example, there are a lot of clever people do a lot of clever stuff, how to do that. And we want to do it the best way.
[00:46:35] Like we want to find the best way to do it. It’s about continuous development and these tools also help us with the client work, like it speeds up. And then again goes back to the point of where just two of us, because we don’t need a lot of people because imagine that example, as I told you, when a migration happens, if there’s 20,000 pages, they need to be migrated to a new URL.
[00:46:53] We can map that within an hour. That’s going to take what, forever for a freelancer to hire someone to sit and do this manually. I think that’s the game plan for us, in the long run, is to develop the tools. So they become the IPO. They become a part of IP of our company. And that’s going to be the main, it’s going to play the main role in our company. And then the, it’s going to be 50:50, I would say. But I told Andy earlier, it’s going to be 70:30, but Andy wanted to do 50:50, I think.
[00:47:20] Jon Penland: Sure, sure. You’re building tools that you yourselves are using, within your consultancy, right? You’re building the tools that make you more efficient, and then if you’ve built the tools and there’s an opportunity to diversify your revenue at that point, then why not take advantage of that opportunity?
[00:47:37] So yeah, I do have to ask about the URL mapping because it, what it sounds to me, and maybe I haven’t captured the idea here, but it sounds to me like what you’re doing is you’re really applying all of the tools that you’ve built. So you have a content audit and you’re doing a content audit and identifying the relevant keywords, and then you’re letting that inform the context or the intent, the type of page that this should go to. And so it sounds if I’m understanding correctly, you do an audit or you gather the information from the old URL structure, and then allow that to inform, not just the URL structure or not just the page that it should land on at the new site based on URL structure, but based on these other factors that you’re looking at, things like context and intent, is that accurate?
[00:48:28] Andy Chadwick: No, I’d love it to be, but that’s far more complicated than it needs to be. It literally passes the URL, and we can go in-depth as we want. We can either, depending on what the site is, we can just pass the URL or we can, so some URLs typically for some e-commerce sites are nonsensical.
[00:48:49] It might just say product 127. In which case you can’t, in which case we can pull in the H1 or the description. If that’s also nonsensical, we can also pull in the cut. Depending on what their setup is, and it takes longer. In an ideal world, we just pull the URL in, “Okay, this site isn’t built right, we’re going to pull in the HR and description. Okay. This really is bad. We’re going to put in the on-page stuff as well.” And basically just uses the Bert algorithm, which basically uses encoders and transformers to work out what the meaning and the context of that is, and then pass it with a high, with a percent, and what it spits out is it pairs it with something and it gives you a percentage of how similar the… When we say intended at this point, we don’t mean is it an article, a blog, the intent behind, what does a user actually want to know? So yeah, it doesn’t pull in everything. It literally just passes what it is there and runs it over the Bert algorithm, which obviously is open source and anyone can get that code. So yeah, a lot simpler than how you imagined it I think.
[00:49:52] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think it’s all about putting together as well, Jon, like it’s all about putting together things into, make something that’s actionable. I think it’s all about action. That’s our almost mantra.
[00:50:00] Jon Penland: Right. Default to moving fast and not overthinking it a little bit it sounds like. So I did want to ask, you’ve both been in the SEO space now for a number of years. What keeps you interested and engaged in that space?
[00:50:18] Andy Chadwick: For me, the community is a big part. I really like the community. Everyone helps each other and it feels like there’s people that I haven’t met yet, but I am… So when the borders are open, I’m off traveling for the next, let’s say five years, I’ve just want to go.
[00:50:42] And there’s people that I’ve never met, who I’m already messaging to meet up for with drinks. It’s just a lovely community. That’s a big part is the social aspect of it. I know that doesn’t really answer why I like doing the job. Tthe job for me is the problem-solving as well. And like Suganthan said, this is so new, there’s loads of problems that haven’t been solved yet. How do we map URLs at scale? And then more than that, there’s technologies that keep coming out that we can then use it. So we’ve been using Bert’s to map URLs with GPT 3 now is available and we have access to it Snippet Digitally.
[00:51:23] We’ve got one of the beater accesses. So there’s all sorts of new things we can build. And in two years, there’s going to be, let’s say GPT 4 and we can do even more crazy stuff. It’s constantly changing, the social aspect of it. And then another big part of me completely related. So Suganthan talked about having time to play as well as work. I don’t have a family. I don’t have that. My goal was always and has always been, I like to… I was an army brat as a kid. I moved around every three years. I grew up in Italy and Australia and America. And I think part of me still has that gypsy in me.
[00:52:04] And I want to travel around a bit. So another big part of why I joined this was it gives me that freedom. So there’s three for me: freedom, constantly changing, and the community I think is brilliant.
[00:52:12] Jon Penland: Yeah. How about for you, Suganthan?
[00:52:13] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah, so I think for me, it’s mainly Google. Google is the main search engine and it’s been- when you’ve been in SEO for long, it’s interesting to see how they evolved over the years. Like, when it was so easy, SEO was easy 10 years ago, a lot easier. And it’s a lot difficult now. With the technology and Rodman advancement and all the AI and machine learning, Google has improved a lot lately and every update they come up with, they always come up with something new. And I say, “Guys, look, we’ve done this now.” And it just keeps you on the edge all the time. Like you can’t ever get comfortable in thinking, “Oh, this strategy I’m going to apply, now. I’m just going to do this for five years.”
[00:52:54] It doesn’t work. Because after two years things have changed. It used to be two years, you’d be one year. It’s now almost every three months, there’s a co-op date. And every co-op date has a huge impact sometimes. Some like the last update had a decent impact as well.
[00:53:06] So then you need to be on top of your game all the time. And for me, I love that sort of stuff. And you probably, I don’t know, you’ve seen me on Twitter. I’m always on top of it. I’m always first to notice things as well. If I see something and I’ll get curious and I try to investigate that a little bit, try to figure out how and why.
[00:53:27] And always experiment a lot and that’s all the other second part for me is all about the R&D bit. But I love doing R and D because that’s a new thing. One of the first people to jump in and test it and probably even publish the results. I don’t keep anything to myself. If I see something that’s working, I say, “Guys, this is working. If you want to test it here, you do it.”
[00:53:42] And probably even build a, maybe do a small tutorial. So that’s the second thing is just the first one is the challenge. The second one is keeping me at the edge. The last thing is also SEO. As Andy said, it’s a community, We’ve got lots of friends. We’ve got really cool friends and this community is really cool because we all come together, there are many places like Slack, Twitter. There’s a whole thing called SEO Twitter. There are fights from time to time, but that’s normal. And then you have places like Slack groups are huge now.
[00:54:16] I don’t know if you realize something Slack groups are becoming quite easy. Like Traffic Think Tank. We have to mention Traffic Think Tank. And that’s because we both met at Traffic Think Tank first, Andy. I’ve met Andy at Traffic Think Tank. Our first week we were members and we bought the helping people whenever they had a question and we will all jump in and help.
[00:54:32] And then we started talking. And then we started doing one project and they had an issue and I always bounced ideas off Andy, and he will do the same. And we just like one day we said, “Let’s build something, make something together.” And that’s how Snippet Digital came.
[00:54:48] So that’s the third thing is about the community. And if you go to a place like Traffic Think Tank you will see the amount of help you get. Even if you’re a newbie and no one’s to call you out, like you could be a complete newbie and you can ask the most basic question and there’s no, one’s going to say, “Hey, this is bad” or “Why are you asking the basic question?” 99% of the time people always try to help you. And you’ll be also too surprised, there are so many people as your experts who are been in the field for longer than me or Andy. And you’d be surprised if you just ask them and they will always help you.
[00:55:16] I just, it’s just.. you have to make that move. A lot of people are afraid to ask them, as I think, “Oh, these guys are big and I don’t want to go near them.” And I was feeling the same way when I was coming online, like building my brand. I was always terrified of asking a question because I thought people were gonna crucify, but it’s not the case because the minute you open up a discussion, there are a hundred replies, always.
[00:55:38] They’re always bringing something new and all it’s learned something new. That’s the other thing, because you’ll be surprised too. You will learn the coolest thing from someone you’ve never heard of before. Conferences are amazing, like we go, you meet a lot of cool people and you’ll meet the most random people as well that you’ve never met and you start talking and then you realize this person is a genius and then you become friends and you’ll learn something from them. And that’s the other thing I love about SEO.
[00:56:04] Andy Chadwick: Yeah, I love that the conferences are a big thing for me. I absolutely love them.
[00:56:08] Jon Penland: Yeah. Both of you guys have talked a lot about the SEO community. And one of the questions that I did have is if you had somebody within that community, you describe it as a place where folks are happy to share their expertise, so if you had somebody in that community who was not established either as a freelancer or with their own company, and they wanted to move in that direction, what would be some advice you would give them? What advice would you give somebody who’s in the space and wants to strike out on their own? How should they begin that process?
[00:56:41] Andy Chadwick: Sorry. Sorry. Are they already in SEO and you’re asking what would they be doing?
[00:56:51] Suganthan Mohanadasan: So brand building, I think.
[00:56:51] Jon Penland: Yeah. So the question is like, how do you launch your business if you are an SEO, but maybe you’re working for a company or are you just learned, but you haven’t actually launched your own company. What advice do you give somebody getting started?
[00:57:01] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think finding your…
[00:57:01] Andy Chadwick: Personal branding…
[00:57:03] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think finding the right personal branding and finding your USP.
[00:57:04] Andy Chadwick: That’s a big one. Getting your niche nailed. So Suganthan helped me massively with this to be fair to him. When I, if you look at my first website and actually, I don’t know why Suganthan gave me this advice because his website was the same. But my website said that I did everything. I did SEO, I did PPC. Suganthan’s was the same
[00:57:28] But I actually got this advice from Suganthan. He said, “Niche down on keyword research.” ‘Cause I was building the keyword research tool and he said, “That’s what you seem to enjoy. And that’s what the problem you’re trying to fix.” And actually, that’s what Snippet Digital is now a lot tools start with that, but they’re gonna fall down. So Snippet Digital, we’re hoping it gets known for keyword research. My name’s hoping to get associated with machine learning AI. Suganthan with like log file analysis. Log file analysis, that’s such a tiny niche.
[00:57:59] Jon Penland: Very specific.
[00:58:03] Andy Chadwick: The first one you think about tech and tech in international. You think a leader, Solace PR you think Carrie Rose,
[00:58:11] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Schema David, Dave.
[00:58:12] Andy Chadwick: David or Jaida, and then, there’s these names that just keep coming. And if you can really… I could pluck things out there now. You could have a Shopify expert and get known on that. You could have- there’s so many little things. Suganthan told me that. So I’ve got an instinct for that. I think the other big thing Suganthan taught me, to be honest, Suganthan, and I’m just reading off all the advice that you gave me when I started.
[00:58:37] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Go for it.
[00:58:41] Andy Chadwick: What I learned it on my own, but then I hadn’t worked out actually how powerful it was, was helping other people like Matt Bobby actually did it as well. If you speak to Matt Bobby, he did it. When he first started out, he was going on Moz forums, Twitter forum. And he would spend the first two hours every day going through and answering loads of questions. And it was the same. And with me and Traffic Think Tank, ’cause it’s the same with me on Facebook groups.
[00:59:12] I was just going out and putting my name down, answering as many things. I guess another thing, which actually I don’t think gets talked about often, was going to say, “Don’t be a dick,” but that’s obvious. But the more you support other people and give them credit for their achievements, they give it back to you.
[00:59:27] And it sounds so simple. There’s people that I’ve just retweeted something, so this is amazing. And then the minute I post a blog, they retweet it and they blow… And then it’s a snowball effect. I think too often people are worried that you’re posting about someone else’s work, you’re taking the attention off of you. But actually, you’re not, you’re creating some sort of weird echo chamber where everyone then starts amplifying your achievements as well.
[00:59:48] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think it goes back to, what Jon said earlier about competitors, that we are trying to talk to here. I don’t think we consider people as competitors, because we consider them as friends, always. Because we have seen, we have many occasions where we have seen a freelancer would say, come to us as a, “Hey guys, I’ve got a couple of clients that I can’t manage because it’s too much work for me.
[01:00:10] Can you help? Can you help?” Because they will give that client to us or refer them to us. Many times, it’s happened many times. So that’s the thing. If we, if we thought, “Okay if they are a company, we’re not going to engage with them in any way. We’re just going to do our own thing and keep all our things with us.” It doesn’t work once you open that
[01:00:29] Andy Chadwick: Our biggest thing is we are so hell-bent on not stepping on anyone’s toes and it is it’s working well for it. Like we are getting work from not only the end consumer, we’re getting work from other SEOs who can’t handle the work. We’re getting work from other agencies that want us to do the work. We’re just so careful not to step on people’s toes that it yeah, works.
[01:00:54] Suganthan Mohanadasan: I think to answer your question as well, on the personal branding side. If someone wants to get into this and if they want to do something on their own, either freelance or build even an agency or a consultancy, I think my advice would be to start doing it. Don’t overthink it. I’ve seen where people overthink and they spent years trying to think, “Oh yeah, I want to do everything right before I start something.”
[01:01:17] And I think that’s always a bad idea. You’ve got to start somewhere and you could have the most basic website. It doesn’t matter. Like you don’t have to spend $10,000, building a fresh, polished website to start. But you don’t have to. You can start with a basic WordPress website, which is free by the way, and then just build from there.
[01:01:35] And it’s all about skills as well. But I would say as well, “Start building relationships within your community network. Don’t burn any bridges with people, and start blogging.” Like if there are many ways you can express your skillsets, like you can do blogging, you can do podcasts, you can do YouTube videos.
[01:01:55] There are people who are doing so many different things. You could find the niche that works for you. And the other advice I would say is also, “You want to obviously learn everything in SEO as much as possible because it helps you, so the generalist versus specialist, or, but try to become a specialist in one thing that you’re really good at, and then people will know you by that.” That’s the way forward. Because then you’re going to start getting work that you can’t handle. Because everyone will be like, “Okay, this person doesn’t do everything, they do one…”
[01:02:26] Jon Penland: Right, they do this one thing. So I just want to summarize, I think you guys hit a lot of really good advice there for our listeners. So the things that I heard are to, with your personal branding, pick something like don’t try to be everything, pick what it is that you’re going to do. So specialize. And then within that specialization, Suganthan, you went a little further and said, “If you’re going to specialize, make sure you really do become the expert in that thing. So don’t just specialize in word only, but genuinely become the expert in that thing.” Andy, did you have a thought on that?
[01:02:58] Andy Chadwick: Yeah. Just to drill down to what people who are watching this might think now is, “Oh, I’m not an expert in Shopify or keyword research” You don’t just have to think like that way, you can be an SEO generalist, but then specialize in a niche, specialize in lawyer firms or specialize in e-commerce. Do you know what I mean? So if you if there’s people watching this and go, “No, I don’t want to just specialize in shopper. I do a bit of everything.” Just choose a niche instead, like a market.
[01:03:31] Suganthan Mohanadasan: That sets you apart from the other people. That’s what it is. Because there are so many people doing SEO. And then the question is what makes you different?
[01:03:38] Jon Penland: Yeah. So the specialization, yeah. It’s really about saying, what is it that makes me unique as an offer within this space?
[01:03:46] Andy Chadwick: Yeah. So if it’s not, if it’s not something technical or highly niche within SEO, make it a niche market, or make it a e-commerce, or make it lead gen, or make it you specialize in affiliate or make it, you specialize in CBD sites or that kind of thing. If you wanted to stay generalists, that’s fine. Just choose something.
[01:04:03] Jon Penland: Yeah. And then some other stuff that you guys hit on one of the things was be helpful. You guys highlighted that one of the ways to establish yourself is to find these communities and to lend your help as best you can. Support others that was said a couple of different ways.
[01:04:15] Don’t burn bridges, networks, support others. Don’t overthink. Go ahead and put yourself out there, even if it’s not completely perfect, and then find a way to express yourself. Whether that’s a podcast or a blog or whatever, that is. Find a way to get your voice out there. So I think that’s good stuff. I think that’s great stuff.
[01:04:34] As we get ready to bring this conversation in for a landing, I have to wrap up questions for you guys. So first, what is a resource you would recommend to our listeners? So that could be a newsletter, a blog, somebody to follow on social media, a book, a conference. Just what’s something that you think the listeners to Reverse Engineered should check out this resource?
[01:04:56] Andy Chadwick: Ah, see, I can ever mention the newsletter because if I mentioned one, there’s probably four others that I should mention.
[01:05:00] Suganthan Mohanadasan: #SEOFOMO by Aleyda Solis is really good. Everyone should follow that one. She has really cool, like she curates a list of the best articles. You don’t have to be always online and read everything. You can get a weekly thing. I think Nick LeRoy, he got an #SEOForLunch newsletter. That’s really good. And then Saijo George, he got a T-, what is it called?
[01:05:22] Andy Chadwick: T-… I’m going to get that wrong. I get it every morning, but I actually read all of them.
[01:05:33] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah. It’s TDLR marketing. tdlrmarketing.com. So yeah, but Saijo’s newsletter covers not just SEO, it covers all the marketing stuff. Anything new happening in marketing, all these articles, anything new, any new updates, and he covers that.
[01:05:50] Jon Penland: Okay. Andy, anything to add to that?
[01:05:53] Andy Chadwick: Yeah.
[01:05:54] Suganthan Mohanadasan: We keep forgetting. There’s quite a few people we keep forgetting.
[01:06:00] Andy Chadwick: Like Kevin Indig, if you subscribe to his newsletter, that’s always really interesting. And then I like some of the ones that aren’t so well-known: Content Curated. I like wacky ideas. So Content Curated has nothing to do with SEO. It’s just cool stuff people are doing in terms of getting PR links. I love it. It gives me inspiration. So I’ve had, I’ve dabbled in a few that will PR ideas before. So I, I love stuff like that. So Content Curated is a good one for that. There’s probably some we’ve missed out. So apologies for that.
[01:06:35] Jon Penland: We’ll make sure and get links to all of those in the show notes for our listeners. Last question for you. Where should people go to connect with you or to learn more about Snippet Digital?
[01:06:47] Andy Chadwick: At Snippet Digital, isn’t it? Suganthan?
[01:06:48] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Yeah, we on Twitter, both of us. I’m @Suganthanmn and Andy?
[01:06:54] Andy Chadwick: I’m @digitalquokka, but don’t ask. A quokka is a little Australian animal, if you don’t know.
[01:07:00] Suganthan Mohanadasan: We are quite active on Twitter, so you can follow us and see what we do, because we always talk about what we do or the tools, anything new in SEO. We always talk about it. So yeah, Twitter is the best place for us. If not, you can catch us on Traffic Think Tank. That’s a paid SEO community, just so you know.
[01:07:20] Jon Penland: And the website is just snippet.digital? Cool. Suganthan, Andy, thank you for taking the time to be on Reverse Engineered.
[01:07:29] Suganthan Mohanadasan: Thank you so much, Jon. Thanks for having us.
[01:07:29] Andy Chadwick: Cheers, Jon.
[01:07:31] Jon Penland: Yup. And that’s it for today’s podcast. You can access the episode show notes at kinsta.com/podcast. That’s K I N S T A .com/podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to Reverse Engineered and leave us a review on Apple podcasts or the platform you’re listening on right now. See you next time. All right. Thank you all!