Chad Hill is a Georgetown graduate with over 10 years of experience in online marketing and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Hubshout. Hubshout is a SEO (search engine optimization) firm. SEO is the art and science of improving a website’s visibility and placement in the search engines.
HubShout is on page 1 in Google for SEO Reseller and boasts of superior technology that will get clients impressive results.
MO: Why did you initially create HubShout? What did you feel that you could bring to the table that was different?
Chad: Before starting HubShout, I led the marketing department for a start-up company. I had a number of agencies helping me with online marketing campaigns. I was impressed with the power of search engine marketing but observed that the agencies were struggling to provide the analytical rigor that search engine marketing requires. I believed that I could do better and started my own agency.
I quickly signed 10 clients through my personal and professional network but I realized that I needed a technology partner to build the software that allows us to reliably deliver and measure online marketing campaigns. Adam Stetzer, a talented developer and friend, had been separately building some tools for search engine optimization. We started having lunch and after 6 months decided to join forces and start HubShout. I brought the initial set of clients and Adam brought the software that he had been developing. We started HubShout because we knew we could deliver search engine marketing services that were more measurable because of our software and more transparent because of the workflow processes we created.
MO: How has the SEO market changed since you started back in 2008?
Chad: In some ways not much… we still see people selling the equivalent of magic elixir and silver bullets rather than the day in and day out work required for SEO. But in other ways there have been significant changes. The search results are more dynamic and personalized. This has helped most of our customers because we tend to work with small and medium sized businesses that have a local presence in the market. So, the use of a searcher’s location to personalize search results has been huge. For example, searching for “plumber” in 2008 only showed the largest national lead generators. Now, due to changes in Google search results configuration, our clients have a better chance than ever to be right in the mix on national search phrases.
MO: I read that you’re new interactive dashboard is unlike anything on the market. What makes it so unique?
Chad: Many SEO firms take advantage of the fact that most of their clients have no idea what is involved in SEO. It could be months or longer before the client realizes that their investment in SEO is not getting results. The HubShout reporting dashboard demonstrates transparency and accountability and that is unique in the realm of SEO. Our dashboard is integrated with Google Analytics and clients can login at any time and see the progress of their campaigns. They can see the tasks that are being done to improve their rankings. They can see their keyword rankings on day one of the campaign and the current rankings. Our dashboard takes the mystery and uncertainty out of the equation and our clients are able to invest in SEO with the assurance that they will see results. We hear from our resellers that our dashboard makes all the difference in their ability to win new business and even take clients away from their competitors!
MO: How easy is it to improve your website position? Once your position improves is it difficult to maintain?
Chad: This all depends on the keyword(s) and your current position. There are some keywords that are essentially impossible to get top rankings on but for the vast majority of businesses there are still good opportunities available. We agree with other industry experts that links to your website are the most powerful predictor of good rankings. We’ve been working on a benchmarking tool that analyzes backlinks of 2,000,000 websites. It is surprising to see that most business websites still have relatively few links, which means that most businesses can improve upon the search rankings that they have today.
MO: How did it feel to give up a steady job and pay check and become an entrepreneur? Was it equal measures of terrifying and exciting?
Chad: Yes. I’ve always had a goal to start my own company. In some ways starting HubShout when I was 35 was harder than if I had been 22. The opportunity cost is a lot higher when a person is mid career. The beauty of being a younger entrepreneur is that you don’t have a far to fall versus doing something mid career. Since I had always had a goal of doing something on my own, I had managed my life expenses to make that possible… and so honestly I never was that scared but actually relieved to start HubShout.
MO: Are there any innovative tools or services that you’re working on? Do you need to constantly evolve to stay ahead of your competitors?
Chad: To stay on top of the SEO reseller market, we continually develop new products and services to enhance our SEO reseller program. We recently added an email marketing service and we offer it to our resellers at cost (ten cents for every 1,000 emails they send). Resellers can add a healthy mark-up when they sell the service to their clients.
We have a new website grader tool that is a work in progress and free to the SEO community. We spent time analyzing the web graders that were already out there and saw that the free tools focus on onsite SEO. Offsite SEO (i.e., backlinks) has greater impact on search results so we built a web grader that puts the focus on offsite SEO.
We are always listening to feedback from our customers. Almost all of our service and product development is customer driven. We have to stay on top the “shiny new objects” that our industry gets excited about but remember that the majority of consumers are slow at adopting new technologies. So, as much as the Internet gurus would have you believe that everyone uses Twitter to find home service contractors… there are some people out there are still using phone books!
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