SEOblog Interview: San Diego SEO Expert Ivan Reed from SunCity Advising

We’re excited to have interviewed San Diego SEO expert Ivan Reed from SunCity Advising for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series!

SunCity Advising is one of SEOblog’s Top SEO companies in San Diego.

Ivan Reed is the CEO of SunCity Advising. His client portfolio includes successful partnerships with startups, small businesses, medium-sized firms and large corporations. SunCity Advising is a San Diego digital marketing agency with a commitment to helping clients improve their internet presence. Since 2011, SunCity Advising has provided internet marketing services that include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), email marketing, social media management, web design, content creation and strategic business advising.

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

“San Diego county is one of the largest in the United States. Within the county, there are many different economic regions with vastly different residents, businesses and SEO needs. The culture of the laid back beach community is quite different from the downtown business district or the East County unincorporated districts. This means that local colloquialisms and knowledge of the business and resident expectations are even more critical than most counties. That said, the terms being searched for can differ and the branding and messaging should reflect that. As a native San Diegan, those nuances are not lost on me when it comes to developing an appropriate strategy. There is a large talent pool of tech savvy San Diegans and most marketing departments understand SEO basics. So, there are no longer many quick wins when it comes to competitive SEO for San Diego companies like there may be in very small, non-techy counties. But, there is still opportunity for those willing to put in the time — and more importantly, for those who know where to look for those opportunities!”

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

“SunCity Advising stands out in San Diego for our ability to work with companies to focus on results. Many times, this means taking an initial loss when working with new clients in order to set us both up for success down the road. We maintain close relationships with our clients basically into perpetuity, so upfront losses are realized over time anyway. Although someone may be paying us to manage their SEO for very specific purposes (like backlinks, technical site health, or even content), we frequently provide additional services like setting up reporting across all channels, designing web pages, connecting their CRM or email marketing tools for their websites. We do this because we know that their success is our success and that if we drive the right traffic and help them convert them, it means a stronger relationship where both sides benefit from the results.”

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

“We have worked with many clients who came from poor relationships with previous agencies. Most new clients explain that they felt like either a small fish in a big pond (when using large national agencies), or a big fish in a small pond (when using local SEO consultants). In one case in particular, we met a new client who lost their domain name to a dishonest agency that claimed to “purchase the domain on their behalf”. Needless to say, that was not the true intention and they had to start over on SEO. So, we helped them set up their new domain and other necessary accounts without a fee. We also brought them from zero keyword rankings to more than 10 first-page rankings within just 30 days. What makes us most proud, is the restored faith in SEO agencies that have contributed to in the minds of these clients. The trust between our companies and focus on mutual success overshadows even the biggest, fastest move to the top of the search engine results pages.”

What is the best advice you ever received in business?

“As a young kid, I knew I wanted to start a business but didn’t have any skills yet. One day I approached my dad and asked him what I should do with my life. To make a long story short, he gave me what I thought of at the time as mediocre advice at best by explaining that only I can decide what to do with my life. That was, until the moment a certain group of words crossed his lips that I will never forget. “Son, it doesn’t matter to me what you choose to do with your life — you could be a ditch-digger for all I care. But, if that’s what you choose to do, you better be the best damn ditch digger there is!” Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that statement has crafted my entire outlook on business and in life. Since then, it has been the driving force for our business success to become the best at what we do (our agency and our clients). From the moment a detail is added to a landing page, to the moment revenue is collected, my goal is always to be the best possible asset for our clients.”

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

“The most important quality for an agency is to care. If more agencies cared about their clients, we wouldn’t have as many leads coming in. But, our industry would have a better reputation. Not all clients have business models that allow them 10X growth every year or to afford a $10,000/month service fee. But, if an agency is willing to take a client on, we strongly believe that you should also feel the responsibility for their success. That said, it’s okay to be picky with your clients — especially if you don’t have margins or enough existing clients to allow you to take early losses. But, if you care about all of your clients from your most profitable to those which may even be causing a net loss, the long term success of your agency will be more stable. During the recent pandemic, we were able to remain unscathed and didn’t lose a single client. This is 100 percent due to the fact that every single client knows that we care about their business.”

Any predictions for the future of SEO?

“The SEO business has been getting more and more difficult for decades. That isn’t going to change. There are more people learning SEO everyday and automation has played a big role in making SEO techniques more reasonable for the newbie SEO to close the gap. So, as things get more competitive and complex so as to beat artificial intelligence (AI), we will start to see an increase in value for those who can do it well. I think we are already starting to see it, but there will be two paths for SEO agencies. First, the ultra-innovative that always know where we are and where we are headed — they will become even more rare and expensive to work with. Second, there will be an increase in SEOs focused on bringing people from completely un-optimized to the barely competitive stage. This is why we will likely see the big businesses who can afford to pay more for the best SEO experts continue to dominate small mom and pop shops. Unless elite agencies are willing to view their client portfolios holistically and allow for individual clients with smaller margins or even temporary net losses. This would allow for more stability for them too, so I hope we start seeing more of it — but in all likelihood, we will continue to see a lot of movement from agency to agency and most marketing departments won’t be able to tell the difference in talking to either type of SEO.”

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

“SEO is not dead — or dying. It has always been in a state of flux based upon the search engine algorithm changes and increased complexities. This means that it is harder to get good at it. However, that doesn’t mean that it is dying. No one would say that the car manufacturing industry is dying because technology is changing us to more sophisticated forms of automobiles, so why would that make sense for SEO? It’s important for companies in either industry to constantly watch what’s going on around them. But, just like the manufacturers are watching new companies like Tesla, longstanding SEO agencies should be watching relatively newer companies like SunCity Advising. If they don’t, their businesses will die — but the industry won’t.”

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

“Keeping clients happy is based on one thing: trust. That trust is built upon a foundation of caring about the success of their business, your own competency to do what you say you will do, communication that is transparent and accurate, and willingness to bend and not break. Don’t forget that clients are people who have put their faith in you and they all have to answer to someone about whether or not you’re the right person for the job. So, treat every interaction with that in mind.”

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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