SEOblog Interview: Los Angeles SEO Expert Justin Thomas from JourneyEngine

We’re excited to have interviewed Los Angeles SEO expert Justin Thomas from JourneyEngine for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series!

JourneyEngine is one of SEOblog’s Top SEO companies in Los Angeles.

Thomas is the founder and lead consultant at, a content marketing, SEO and analytics agency for business-to-business (B2B), software as a service (SaaS) and digital agencies. Since 2009, he’s been providing digital marketing consulting to companies in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

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

“Most of LA’s SEO providers need to earn substantially more revenue to stay afloat, compared to agencies in other cities due to expensive rent, higher wages, etc. So most of them need to either charge a premium or bring on more clients.

“We’ve built a process and team structure to help navigate this challenge and give us a competitive advantage. In a nutshell, our “data pipeline” automates the redundant work involved in advanced SEO analytics and allows our senior team to provide a deeper level of support and higher value work for each client. 

“The result is that we’re able to provide an enterprise-level, end-to-end solution (strategy + content + analytics) at small business pricing. To my knowledge, none of our local, national or global competitors can match that.”

How does your SEO agency stand out in a crowded market like Southern California?

“These days it’s understood that agencies have to do free work to show potential clients their chops. Most agencies will run an audit and give recommendations for what they would fix as part of a campaign.

“We knew we had to offer something that provides a LOT more value than that to get attention. So we took the free audit model a step further and developed the free ‘Organic ROI Forecast.’

“It’s an analysis that predicts a company’s ROI for each of our three different campaign types; basic SEO, content creation and advanced SEO. We compare the projection side-by-side to the company’s ‘business as usual’ to help the client choose the right type of campaign for their business. Clients love this report because it makes it easy for their whole team to understand not only the actions they need to take, but the impact those actions will have on their business.

“Return on investment (ROI) is a metric that other agencies and marketers run from. By tackling it head-on, we’ve been able to turn heads.

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

“The majority of our clients are SaaS and eCommerce businesses with no physical location, but we do have a background in local SEO and love helping local companies that we believe in. We recently took on some consulting work as a favor to local businesses who have been struggling through the coronavirus pandemic and the generall madness of 2020. 

“Here’s a review from a past client we helped with local SEO:”

positive review

What is the best advice you ever received in business?

“The best advice I ever received was to take a leap of faith. Going after your dreams (e.g. starting a business) can be terrifying. If you believe in what you’re doing and are willing to dedicate the effort you can manifest anything.”

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

“A great agency does not sell clients services they don’t need just because they can, but excels at delivering a specific solution to a specific problem. Great agencies are able to identify clients who will benefit the most and deliver their solution to them, at large scale. 

“If you’re not 100 percent confident you can deliver the solution, don’t take the contract. Focus on delivering clients only what they need and ruthlessly cut the rest from your offer. I believe that’s the way to build lifelong relationships.”

Any predictions for the future of SEO?

“The future of SEO is all about exceptional content and smart promotion. The days of ‘hacks’ are gone. Google’s goal is to surface the content that best suits a searcher’s intent and nothing else. If you fight Google on that, you’re going to lose eventually. So play their game!

“If you want to win at SEO the formula is very simple. You need to invest in content that answers your buyer’s questions better than any other business. Then, promote the hell out of that content — in an authentic way.”

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

“My reaction is sympathy as I assume the person who says this will blow a lot of money on marketing with little results to show or will never get the attention their business needs to compete. If you are not willing to invest what it takes to compete in SEO and content marketing then you probably shouldn’t be investing in marketing at all. We have case studies from businesses of all sizes and ages (including my own) to prove that point.”

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

“Two things:

  1. A solution that solves their client’s problem — and nothing more
  2. The process to deliver that solution, at large scale

“For us, our ‘data pipeline’ has been the key to success in delivering these two things. We’ve actually helped many other digital agencies build this type of system into their own business.”

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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