SEOblog Interview: Chicago SEO Expert Rahul Wahi from LLT Group

SEOblog Interview: Chicago SEO Expert Rahul Wahi from LLT Group

We’re excited to have sat down with Chicago SEO expert Rahul Wahi from LLT Group for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series! LLT Group is one of SEOblog’s Top SEO agencies in Chicago.

His life motto is: “dream big, hustle hard,” and Wahi  has done just that. From starting a company in a basement 10 years ago to being on billboards (“need a better website, hire better nerds”) one year later, his drive and tenacity have a positive impact on the team around him. LLT Group is a brand in Chicago known for digital strategy and design. Wahi has built the foundation and implemented the principles this agency was built on. “Our valuation of success is underpinned by our commitment to innovation along with the total transparency of our relationships.”

Leading LLT Group for the past 10 years, with more than 50 employees and clients all over the world, this agency is humanizing the digital face of the internet.

What would you say is unique and/or challenging about the Chicago SEO industry?

“I think we have a unique opportunity to be a melting pot for a lot of different industries and verticals here in Chicago, as it’s a hub in the U.S. The city represents so many different types of businesses. This allows us an opportunity to play to a great strength because as we find solutions for different industries, we’re able to take those best practices and build a streamlined process applicable to each type of business. We can then diversify for each individual client based on their unique needs. Being more horizontally focused as opposed to vertically focused allows agencies in Chicago to specialize in manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, or other industries and develop a niche in a specific industry.”

How does your agency stand out in a crowded market like Chicago?

“We really focus on a lot of data and analytics starting from the very front of a project, what we call the “user experience” or “UX” design. We integrate our SEO team and developers into a collaboration with designers on best practices to facilitate a smooth transition from design into development. A team of about eight people go through a whole journey together from UX all throughout development and then Q/A so that each person is just as integrated from the design to development phase. This allows for collaboration and contribution of unique expertise from each person on the team. An agency might have a great designer, standout developer, or SEO or digital strategist, but we make sure they all work together to create a product that is not only effective from a brand standpoint, but successful from an overall user standpoint.”

Can you share a success story from a local SEO campaign centered around the Chicago area?

“We worked with a local client in the IOT space. They provide cellular data connectivity in a platform for business applications. They have helped power a lot of cellular data and businesses throughout the world, connecting business systems from Chicago to California to Kuwait. What we did an entire website redesign and worked with them on all of their corporate marketing materials. These include content and media. We wanted to make sure they had a lot of very high-quality content. We built out a smart thought-leadership center, which provides dynamic content viewing experiences. When a user visits from a certain vertical the dynamic resource center matches content of the industry so that only relevant and related case studies knowledge points, white papers and the like show up. The client wanted to to turn as many of their site visitors into leads and as many leads into customers as possible. So we focused on account-based marketing to increase engagement time and conversion rates, as well as boost SEO. We worked with fragmented data they sent us and identified our approach and direction, which was a content-driven UX. We integrated that into a full visual experience for them. Results were a 28% increase in organic traffic, 38% increase in total organic ranking, ranking for every single keyword, ranking on 85% of keywords in top three positions and a 3x higher conversion which brought them to 12.5% conversion rate. We assisted the client through the entire redesign process and digital marketing strategy development. We helped them identify who they are, who their users are, and develop a very concentrated user experience to get them where they wanted to be in a couple of touch points.”

What is the best advice you ever received in business?

“A big thing for me is to be empathetic, that is the best advice I’ve gotten. I think sometimes as agency owners we tend to march to the beat of our own drum, but we need to understand the reason we are given these opportunities is because there is a client out there who really needs an expert. They’ve grown their business and they’re looking for someone to help get them to the next level. It is a very trusting engagement. Sometimes agencies treat clients as a number. They skip the empathy and listening and lack an understanding of their journey as business owners. These people are successful, they have built something from the ground up and truly care about their customers. The best advice was to listen, reassure, and confirm outputs for success. That comes from an empathetic state of, rather than just hearing, really listening, absorbing, engaging.”

What do you think is the most important quality that makes an agency truly great?

“I think an agency that has a very human perspective to their business is what is going to set them apart. At the end of the day, we in the agency space are not a tech company – marketing or digital – we are a people company. We can’t forget that and we need to understand everything we do must have a human component to it. Understanding the emotions of the people using these sites in order to make it through these touchpoints; that’s what is going to help us sustain and scale.”

Any predictions for the future of SEO?

“SEO is something that I believe a lot of businesses are beginning to find the value of. They’re discovering that the “pay-to-play” arena is getting very saturated. Today, there is a lot of good content and good experience to share. People are really getting out there and talking about what makes them great. They have proven why they have the best practices within their industry and what sets them apart. Nowadays, people have a platform on which to really share their content and get credit for it. That’s why there is more video content out there and more readable content that is easily consumable. I believe the future of SEO is moving toward these experts who take the time to share their stories. It is utilizing those stories and best practices for their competitors and clients and sharing this knowledge. I feel like back in the day it was all about domain authority, URLs, and backlinks, and as much as that is all still relevant, it’s also not the entire focus. We have to push people to get in front of cameras, to get on the right platform, to really engage with their potential customers. That is what is going to translate into more business as SEO moves into the future.”

What is your reaction when you hear that “SEO is dying”?

“I don’t think it’s dying, I believe it is getting smarter. I believe today you need experts, and true specialists to really make that change. It’s not that it’s dying, it’s that people’s patience is a lot more limited today than it was in years prior. It’s no longer the business owner who can manage operations, deliveries, marketing, advertising and so on. They’re not able to manage their company’s SEO efforts like they learned to do before. Today it’s gotten a lot more specialized if you want to be competitive, so it’s not something the average business owner can, or even wants to do either. I just believe it is something that you are going to need an expert’s help to implement so you make an impact to your business and improve your bottom line. A company that has a strong SEO foundation will be able to weather the uncertain economic times of the future and the volatility of the markets. Those will be the businesses that survive, the ones that pay attention to their rankings and placements with the aid of an expert agency.”

What do you think is the most important contributor to keeping clients happy?

“I’m sure most will answer this similarly. It’s transparency, as much as that may be a boiler-plate answer. Education is important. There’s a thirst for learning that our clients are looking to us to satisfy. They are no longer willing to say “hey, do this for us and report back.” Now, it’s “walk me through this,” “how?” and “let me collaborate through this process with you.” As an agency, we owe it to our clients to be transparent and be educators. They’re not looking to have it “done” nor looking for “vendor-ships;” they have shifted to looking for partnerships. That is what will elevate your agency experience with your client: the transparency and education you provide about the approach and experience throughout the journey.”

Interested in being considered as an SEOblog “Featured SEO Expert”? Reach out to our team at [email protected]! We’d love to hear from you and give you a high-traffic platform to share your SEO agency’s story and insights.

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