Today’s interview comes all the way from the United Arab Emirates. James Reynolds is an energetic SEO and PPC consultant at veravo.com, a company based in Dubai. A marketing and SEO expert, he heads up several companies - ClickJam and SEO Sherpa - and has spoken at conferences in the U.K., Australia, Bahrain, and the UAE as well as been featured on various local news outlets in Dubai.
8 Questions with James Reynolds
The Professional Scoop
1. In your first job, you grew a small photography company into a multi-million dollar company. How did you transition into becoming the SEO/PPC expert that you are? Were you using those techniques for the photography company early on?
My background is in business and marketing, and those are skills I honed over 10 years with the photography company. I got best results marketing that business using integrated marketing, direct mail, live events and email. Search marketing was something I knew very little about until my latter days with the company. After launching a digital agency that offered everything from web design to social media I developed a passion for search traffic. I have spent the subsequent three years developing my skills in SEO and AdWords.
2. Your enthusiasm for online marketing is infectious. What fires your passion?
I have a very strong purpose which energizes me every day and that is to create freedom. My actions, my team's actions, the services that we offer must create more freedom for our colleagues and the customers we serve. Online marketing offers an unparalleled opportunity to operate a business that is not confined to old school parameters of reach or geographical area. It provides freedom and that is my why.
3. With SEO, there are plenty of unknowns and no guarantees. Even if you put in tons of hours in a month, your competitors may “out-SEO” you. With Google holding the reigns on algorithms, you could even get penalized or fail to impress Google if SEO is not done right. How do you personally manage customer expectations and be realistic about results - while also helping customers’ see the importance of investing in SEO services?
Firstly we audit all sites at the outset of the campaign to ensure we can help them. Some websites have so severely damaged their SEO with bad DIY or irresponsible providers that they are beyond repair. If we can help them we'll simply show them what we have been able to do for others in a similar situation. Thankfully we have a strong track record of results.
4. With Google AdWords, you’ve got to make a big impression with small characters - a 25-character headline and 70 characters of copy. What principles do you follow to help you write really compelling ads?
Be specific, know and highlight your USP, include your keywords and create ads that stand out from the crowd.
5. Do you draw those funny cartoons you call “Traffictoons” on your website?
I have a very talented illustrator who creates the "Traffictoons" and all of the custom images on our sites. We put a lot of effort into image marketing and I believe this is a good precedent to follow given the popularity of image-based media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.
The Personal Scoop
6. Are you originally from Dubai? If not, how did you end up there?
I am a British expatriate living in Dubai originally from Leicester in the United Kingdom. I moved to Dubai in 2006 to set up the photography company and have remained there since.
7. Among Middle Eastern countries and cities, Dubai is one of the most well-known, and recently it’s been recognized as one of the most reputable cities in the world. In your opinion, does Dubai deserve the honor? What does it have going for it?
Dubai is a very forward-thinking city, steeped in pride and with an entrepreneurial can-do attitude. It is an inspiring culture to be a part of especially as an entrepreneur. Not only that, the quality of living in Dubai is of the highest standard. We have the most amazing hotels and hospitality and a wealth of amenities available to us. I do work very hard, however, when I take time off it does feel like I am on holiday here.
8. We’re guessing you don’t have much free time, but when you do, what do you do to re-charge?
I work out five days a week which, on a side note, I believe is essential if you want to play at your best in business. I like to read (a lot) and typically read at least one book per week. In addition, I like to spend time at the movies and outside socializing at many of the beautiful beachside bars and restaurants in the city.
Last question: do you have anything you’d like to promote, or any projects you’re working on that we/our audience should know about?
I am the creator and host of The TrafficJam Podcast (http://www.trafficjamcast.com/) which is a weekly show that teaches website owners the principles of getting more traffic and building a profitable audience online. I’m joined each week by other experts; people like Chris Brogan (Google+), Scott Stratten (Twitter), Rand Fishkin (SEO), Amy Porterfield (Facebook), and Joe Pullizzi (content marketing). I’d love for your listeners to come and connect with me there and of course subscribe if they enjoy the show.
Thanks for joining us, James. Please check out the TrafficJam podcast, James' sites, and check back next week for another expert interview.