“How That Happened” Episode 49: John Vuong – Local SEO Search – The Basics of SEO

Interview Transcript

John Vuong:                 I would say SEO is transformational for every single business who hasn’t even looked at it or they’ve tried other agencies. Don’t give up, There’s great companies out there.

Aaron Ackerman:         From HoganTaylor, I’m Aaron Ackerman and this is How That Happened, a business and innovation success podcast. On each episode of the show, we sit down with business and community leaders behind thriving organizations to learn how business and innovation success actually happens.

[00:00:30] My guest today is John Vuong. John is the fourth child of Vietnamese immigrants to Canada, and John says that he has had too many jobs to count, starting at the age of 10 with a paper route. Early in life, John recognized that he had a passion for people and relationships. And after graduating from Western University in Ontario, John had a few different positions with Red Pages, Yellow Pages, an affiliate marketing firm. After a few years, John founded [00:01:00] Local SEO Search, a Toronto-based consulting company that helps clients succeed in a variety of ways including SEO or search engine optimization consulting, and sales training, and coaching, and a host of other ways. Welcome, John. Thank you so much for joining How That Happened today.

John Vuong:                 Well, thank you for the intro, and I’m excited to be on your show today, Aaron.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. First of all, tell me if I’m right here. I think I saw that one of your fellow alumnus from Western [00:01:30] University is Mr. Wonderful himself, Kevin O’Leary. Is that factual?

John Vuong:                 I think he is. I mean, it’s definitely up for [inaudible 00:01:36]. He was probably alumni, and I didn’t go there for that reason. I didn’t go there for [inaudible 00:01:48].

Aaron Ackerman:         That’s a good start. Well, John, I’ve heard you talk in other venues about your background, and while I do want to spend most of our time today really talking about SEO, [00:02:00] I think that all of our experiences are really formational to us, not only just as people, as humans, but also the way we approach business and life. And so, if you’re okay with it, I’d love for you to just talk for a couple of minutes about the journey that has led you to where you are today.

John Vuong:                 So, I guess I’ll start off, so I was born in Canada. My parents had me a couple weeks after they arrived here. [00:02:30] The left the Vietnam War, they didn’t know the language, English, and they didn’t have people, family, or a community that they can turn to. So, they relied on the goodwill of being an immigrant where they had the community support, where we had agencies, we had food beings we had Salvation Army. Shelter was really in government housing. And for us, growing up, I felt it was normal. [00:03:00] But as I matured and now I live in a different part of where I was born, it was a little bit different than what the normal people was living.

Where I didn’t have sleepovers, I didn’t have meals outside of our home. We didn’t go travel or fly anywhere. We just had each other; we had food, shelter, which was the most important necessity in life, and we had each other, which [00:03:30] meant we [inaudible 00:03:31] moments we shared, we enjoyed a normal life. That’s what we were brought up knowing. We worked hard, as you mentioned, but for a different purpose and reason; to support my family. We all did that together, collectively, to help each other out with food, shelter, and things to buying clothes.

So, I had 20 jobs before I went to university and I was ultra-curios to know what [00:04:00] other people were living like. You see it on magazines and watch it on TV, but we don’t even know how people lived in bigger homes in bigger cities, driving a nice car, flying to all these different places? Ultra-curious. So, when I finally moved on for university, I studied Business Finance, first I got a loan to go to school. I was working as well, to pay for school, and throughout those years, seeing [00:04:30] how other people lived, even on campus; three quarters of the people at university had their own vehicle. I was taking public transit, I was like, “That’s my dream to have a vehicle.”

But I was now able to live on my own, which was a nice, nice different experience after always being with this group. And then that one experience that really changed a lot of how I looked at things was that one year of moving out to England [00:05:00] on a exchange program for one year. So, yes, I flew for the first time. It was shortly after 9/11, and it allowed me to experience a different experience in terms of country, people, food, weather, everything. Surrounding, social, I had to make new friends, I had to do everything on my own. I also had to work to pay for it.

So, along the way, I was always doing things. Being active, learning, being [00:05:30] curious and having fun, and first job outside of that was advertising sales. So, like you mentioned, I had 10 years of sales experience but in the advertising world where I learned how to sell. I learned from the greats like Zig Ziglars, the Nightingale. I’ve been listening to their audio tapes, reading, going to conferences to learn, and I was hungry. I [00:06:00] had this huge, huge debt finishing school, and I had to pay it off. I also wanted to live on my own, so I had to pay for that. I had to figure things out.

I didn’t have a vehicle so, I took public transit or the first, I would say, six months in a sales role, which one of the requirements was to have a vehicle. So, I had to figure and just do it, I was always trying to figure things out. And yes, I had a lot of challenges [00:06:30] over the years, but that’s what made me who I am today. Last 10 years working at Yellow Pages, I’ve worked with thousands of business owners, small/medium size, and mainly service base, and some B2B, national and international in scope, but the word that stands out is alive.

There was so many hard-working people and colleagues, but business owners that really put their heart and family on the line to really focus on community, value, understanding [00:07:00] how to run a foundational business. They resonated with me as a human and I wanted to serve them. While at Yellow Pages, the last couple of years, they were just telling me how disgruntled… they were spending money a lot, not being found. The user behavior was happening; the shift was occurring where people were transforming the way they shopped. No longer was it flyer, newspaper directories, radio and television.

It was now [00:07:30] app-based, social media, search engine-based and they didn’t know how to get in front of the new audience. Or not even the new audience, the audience, people that were now changing their behaviors. So, that’s why I started this company that really solely focused on SEO, not knowing anything about SEO, not knowing how to do it, but I knew I wanted to serve them because I knew there was a need in the marketplace. So, eight years into it, I [inaudible 00:07:55] me to [00:08:00] help support my dream and desires to help support the small/medium sized businesses in the world to do a better job to become more visible on search engines.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. That is awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. I just want to ask a couple of follow-ups there. So, first of all, I mean it sounds like for you, especially early on, one of the driving forces was necessity like, “I want to go to college. I’m going to have to figure it out myself and pay for it. I need a car [00:08:30] for this job. No one’s going to give me one, I’ve got to figure that out.” And you got into sales, I mean in some ways your path from getting out of college to Local SEO in Toronto is somewhat linear, but I’m sure you had to course-correct like go, “Okay. That one didn’t work, I’m going to pivot a little bit and figure something else out.” [00:09:00] I’m sure you’ve had mentors and advisors and things along the way, but to some extent, you’ve got your sleeves rolled up and you’re figuring out how to build a career in real-time. But I’m sure there was bumps and turns and things along the way.

John Vuong:                 I was thrown at a lot of things in my twenties. Again, [inaudible 00:09:24] I know today as a parent you’re much more [00:09:30] safe. I was very out there trying to uncover what’s going on, “How are other people are living and where did they come from? How do you support a life like that and finally rent a place to eventually own a place house, have a car?” not knowing how anything works in a big city like Toronto. And I made a ton of mistakes growing up, and even over my 20s. [00:10:00] The sales environment is very cutthroat; learning how to sell objection handle and staying positive was very, very hard.

And that whole skill set, I think, was one of the more pivotal ones that I learned over 10 years of learning how to properly sell, allowed me to run this business to go out there and sell. Began to then have revenue that supported to then [00:10:30] learn how do things right and hire people. So, that was a great skill set, and I would advise any business owner to learn how to sell because it transforms your business [inaudible 00:10:42] not just free, but actually triggers [inaudible 00:10:45] service to then position it in a way that you’re adding value to their lives.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. Absolutely. Well, let’s talk about SEO a little bit and I want to start really basic. So, we’ve probably got listeners [00:11:00] that are probably quasi-experts on SEO and others that are Googling it up, “What does this stand for?” So, what is SEO, why is it important? Let’s just start at the basics.

John Vuong:                 So, SEO is short for search engine optimization, and if you have a website, if it’s not generating you a lot of traffic or leads, you’re probably not doing it properly or optimizing for the search [00:11:30] engines or the customers who are seeking out your product and service. So, with search engine optimization, it’s really the website Google search engine and if you are typing in a keyword, let it be a dentist in OKC, [inaudible 00:11:46] over thousands of dentists that are competing with you. At the top of the search engine, there’s paid ads where you as a business can click. Below that is a map, and [00:12:00] usually at the top, maybe there’s a paid section but below that is natural or organic in nature, and below that even further on the map is [inaudible 00:12:09] in nature.

SEO is having you appear on the map and below without paying per click. And the whole purpose of what you want to do for your website is to answer the queries and problems and questions that your customers and prospects are seeking out by positioning your website as [00:12:30] a thought leader, as an expert in whatever keywords that people are typing in. And then you have to try to do it so that it satisfies what Google’s looking for and your users, so that Google constantly brings and serves you [inaudible 00:12:47]. Therefore, you are getting more of your prospects that will then convert. And if you’re not on the first page, most likely you’re not getting a lot of clicks [00:13:00] traffic that may convert to sales revenue and profit.

Aaron Ackerman:         Okay. Very good. So, before we talk about how to do that, how to get on the first page, let me throw, maybe, an objection that you’ve heard. So, I’m a small business, maybe a physical service, you mentioned dentist. Or maybe I’ve got a mechanic shop or something like that. I have a website, but it’s off-the-shelf, whatever. I don’t really drive [00:13:30] sales through it, I don’t do a lot of E-commerce, why would I care about my website? It’s not a channel for me.

John Vuong:                 So, you have to look at your customer. If you’re buying a business, maybe you’re buying a book business very similar to Yellow Pages. When I was there, I had a seven-week training program, and it was a one-year probation to get [00:14:00] into Yellow Pages, it was the only unionized sales across Canada. So, I learned how to sell by being in one of the top sales environments, but outside of that, Yellow Pages is what Google has kind of replaced. Where people who are actively seeking out your product and service are typically going on Google and they’re in control of their buying intent. And they’re typing in keywords like, ” [00:14:30] Where to find,” or, “How to find,” “What to do when I have a chipped teeth,” or whatever.

And you want to just appear; you have a dental implant, you have pain in your teeth, and what the providers can serve you up. So, it’s not just a brick-to-mortar service, it’s what your customers and prospects are seeking out. And it’s not the people that you’re already servicing, because there’s 30 or 40% of the population that are always transient, [00:15:00] moving, renting; emergency-type, one-offs, not insured, all these other types of clients seeking out your product and service, and maybe their younger in generation and they are not as established, either. They’re maybe in school. So, there’s a huge population that you can get in front of, and that’s the purpose of what SEO can really do. Because the whole purpose is to generate more leads, more traffic, more visibility, [00:15:30] to generate more revenue and sales and hopefully your ability.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. I love what you said there that it kind of makes the enquirer… it puts them in control. And I think, if I understand what you’re saying there is where TV, radio, outdoor advertising is pushed to me, it’s bombarding me whether I want to see it or not, with the Yellow Pages back in the paper days or [00:16:00] Google now, I’m pulling the advertising. I’m choosing when, where, what I want to see, right?

John Vuong:                 That’s exactly what we learned and Yellow Pages. There’s two types: creative and directive. Directive is when they’re in control, and they are ready to buy. And even with this digital age, everything is creative from social media, podcasts, to Twitter, Instagram feeds [inaudible 00:16:26] people; paid ads are pushing stuff at people. YouTube ads, you’re [00:16:30] pushing stuff that people. But with search engines, you still have the ability to play and become a thought leader and position yourself as inbound experts. Google is trying to satisfy the user intent by matching the website that they deem as the thought leader in the space with the prospect and users that they feel would be a good match.

And what Google’s ultimate goal is, is for users to continually come back to [00:17:00] Google to refer for them any information and query, so that you trust Google so you continue going back. And maybe sometimes you’ll click on ads and that’s how they get paid. You as a user continue going back to Google because you trust that they’re providing you the best results based on your behaviors and search queries and history, and that’s why this whole system works. Google has been doing search a good job harvesting not just AI and RankBrain, [00:17:30] but the user intent with, I would say, the most important aspect of the higher buyer journey.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. Very cool. Okay. So, I’m a believer, I want to get more customers, I need to pay more attention to optimizing my search engine results. So how do I do that?

John Vuong:                 Obviously, when I first started, I didn’t know how to do it as well. So, I read a lot of books, I watched a lot of videos, I watched a lot of conferences, and I [00:18:00] followed a lot of experts. And as I continued doing this, I got better. And the key is there’s over 200 signals, what Google’s looking for. And then there’s algo updates, they’re always trying to do things the right way, just like any foundational businesses. And as I learned in the last eight years, and even working with those businesses, thousands of them before I started this company, what you need to understand is keep running a really good business, foundationally. So, [00:18:30] understand the fundamentals and foundation of what got you to become successful. You have to be established, you need to know how to take care of customers, know your unique selling proposition, your competitive landscape, pricing, service, all that stuff.

And with that, then you can build a website that can satisfy what the users are looking for. And the first thing is first impressions, you need to have a compelling information on a website with images, graphics content, all [00:19:00] the actions, all that good stuff. But what you’re trying to do is position yourself in your niche, thought leader. That dentist, well there’s thousands of dentists. How do you differentiate yourself? What do you bring to the table? What’s different that you are offering that no other dentist is offering? Probably the same, so what’s different? Your story, your background, your history, maybe there’s a new way or a procedure or a process that you can integrate, and that’s something that Google likes, as well. [00:19:30] Because it’s not off-the-shelf, it’s customized, personalized; it’s something that you can relate to that you want to amplify and let other people know.

So, that’s the website piece; yes, you got to continue adding more content, you got to position yourself as a thought leader, so produce information that’s essential, well-researched statistics, data mine, or even trending topics right. Then there’s the amplification. You need those other digital assets; [00:20:00] your podcasts, your video or your Facebook or Instagram, Twitter, Sitation, all those are also important. Because what Google’s looking for is what are other signals coming from. Not just your own personal website because anyone can write positive reviews on your own website, but it’s what other people are saying on third-party review sites like the dental niche directory or Yellow Pages or Yelp or Google, or Facebook. [00:20:30] Those people actually make a difference.

So, all these factors and that’s why I said there’s over 200 factors, and you always have to see what you’re doing when peers are actually ranked at or near the first page. And that’s the whole job of what we do here at the SEO company; we’re always at the pulse of what’s going on in terms of the search engine algorithm, but also in the pulse of what’s going on in the competitive landscape. And then, [00:21:00] our whole premise is to generate more traffic that resonates with your ideal audience, so that you not only appear on the first page, but then you cultivate your ideal [inaudible 00:21:12]. Your SEO campaign can not just rank on the first page but when those people who are seeking out your services are your 10 best ideal customers or lifetime value relationship type clients, that’s who you are resonating with and speak to because all your [00:21:30] content on your website speaks to them, answering every single problem in question. That’s a successful SEO campaign.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. Okay. So, some of the things you mentioned; having a social media presence that’s active and engaging, YouTube videos, podcasts, blog posts, these kinds of things not only serve to position your company as a thought leader in your industry or in your neighborhood or whatever, [00:22:00] but also, it’s feeding the algorithm. But a lot of small business owners probably don’t have a marketing department, those kinds of things take time, they probably have a lot of the knowledge in their head, but it’s outside of their core activities. So I mean, is that something that a lot of small business owners outsource, help with content creation? [00:22:30] How do you work with clients in that way or what would you suggest?

John Vuong:                 Yeah. That’s a really good question because they’re an expert at their profession; you as an accountant, there’s a lot of dentists, lawyers, physiotherapists. Trades like plumbers and roofers, they love what they do, they’ve been doing it for 20 years. Then they work under a [inaudible 00:22:50] almost 5, 10, 20 more years. That’s when they realize that expertise and paying for an expert makes sense. Those are my [00:23:00] type of clients that are established, understand what they do, and value it and value other people’s services. So, with SEO, it’s not just the content piece, because what I’ve discovered growing and running this agency is one pillar will not satisfy what an SEO agency can really do. So, I built a team based on what the brands have in-house; like the Amazons, the Walmarts, [00:23:30] and bringing it to small/medium-sized businesses level, so that you can compete on that level, and still dominate. Because you can’t compete with the Amazons, there’s no way. They have big budgets, they have big resources, head count, you name it, and they have tools. And you just can’t, so be realistic with it.

So, what I did was I built this team, and pillars within [00:24:00] the team. So, right now, we have a team of developers, social media link builders, content writers, everything that’s really important for SEO. And all the SEO strategists and consultants to make it a full-service offering that will serve the best interest of our customers because all they care about is results. They want to get it done right the first time, and they’ll pay for it. But what I also understand is value in small/medium- [00:24:30] sized businesses. So, I understand what they want, which is good ROI, making sure they trust someone, which is a long-term relationship with a client. And I do things authentically, the right way, to build a long-term [inaudible 00:24:46] type.

And what resonates with me more so is the family environment, the relationships. Because I take care of my team, I take care of my clients, and then I take care of all my vendors. I understand what’s going on [00:25:00] in business, I understand how Google’s operating, I understand what customers really want and care about, [inaudible 00:25:05] do with all these businesses. So, there’s great SEO companies out there, there’s independent contractors, any freelancers, you name it. Who would be good for you in your business? Outline what you like doing and what you don’t like. Pay for it or not pay? Decisions you have to make in every aspect of your business. When you start hiring [00:25:30] staff or not, for accounting, bookkeeping or even operations, hiring, HR [inaudible 00:25:37] marketing and advertising piece but in particular that website optimization can be a huge asset to your business when done right. So, work with someone that has a solid track record, that you can trust, that you know they’re doing things the right way; ethically, white hat. And have fun along the way; [00:26:00] work with someone you actually like.

Aaron Ackerman:         That’s always… increases enjoyment. So, let me ask you about this, this is something that I think a lot of people probably struggle with, I know I have at times. So, even if someone says, “Okay. I have a lot of information. I have a lot of content that I could turn into something valuable on social media or on the website. But it’s got to be perfect before I put it out there for the world.” I’m always thinking [00:26:30] about how to create that viral tweet or that perfect YouTube video. And I don’t know what your answers going to be on this so you can agree or disagree.

Then I was really influenced by several things like Seth Godin, Poke the Box, listening to Y Combinator talking about startups, even Apple shipping a new iPhone that’s just full of bugs; that’s not an accident, that’s part of their strategy. And so, then I’ve realized like, ” [00:27:00] No. You got to just go with it.” You can’t worry too much about everything being just so perfect, just ship it out. Do something. Where do you fall on that? What would you tell somebody that maybe has a lot of great ideas and has hesitated because it’s not perfect?

John Vuong:                 So, there’s a lot of perfectionists out there; everyone has their own opinion, just like a web design. You have a great idea [00:27:30] concept, but ultimately, it’s all about perception of what you believe, but ultimately, it’s your customers and prospects. So, what is the purpose of this whole campaign? Is it to put out the best content that you feel would be great or is it so that you can least get it out there and hopefully people will comment and share and absorb it? So, being perfect is one thing, but [inaudible 00:28:00] [00:28:00] to get things done, and not just jump in. I’m in the mindset of you can always so you can figure it out when you’re in it. But if you keep waiting, procrastinating, nothing will ever get done and you’re just waiting for the perfect time or perfect piece of content.

Well, just get out there. Go out there, create, publish and produce because it’s not the one piece that’s going to amplify, it’s [00:28:30] the thousands of no’s before you get that one yes. And you don’t know which piece is going to get that yes. It’s timing, it’s placement, it’s amplification, it’s who reads it and when, at that exact moment. You don’t know and with this cluttered space of digital, there’s so many people out there using different apps, different platforms, different media. You don’t know how they’re consuming and absorbing content today. And yes, there’s tools and data and all that [00:29:00] stuff that can throw and sniff all the stuff out, but ultimately, it’s about what your customers are wanting to absorb. So, write content that is good for your customers and everyone else who cares. Especially yourself; if you’re very biased, throw it at your customers and see what they think.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. Good advice. I like that, so let me ask you this question as far as [00:29:30] the platform. A few years ago, websites were probably built primarily for a desktop computer and the experience on a phone or an iPad or whatever, a mobile device, was not very good. That’s flipping to where, I think, websites are being built first for a mobile platform, and a desktop is second. I mean, does that [00:30:00] impact the algorithms and the SEO as far as if you have a website that’s got a really good format for mobile experience versus not having a good mobile website?

John Vuong:                 Yeah. I would say make sure your website’s written to inform that [inaudible 00:30:22] landing on your website. So, if it’s a tablet or a phone or a desktop, makes sure that it is performing [00:30:30] well; great user experience, great speed, it’s secure, it has good images and it’s compressed and all that stuff, it shows well. And the whole purpose is so that [inaudible 00:30:41] the longer they stayed, that means you’re providing good, rich content that people want to read. That will eventually expand because they’re following the footprints of which pages they’re going to search after that article or that piece that they find intriguing to then take action, [00:31:00] which is hopefully for you, a quoting call or a product [inaudible 00:31:04]. So, understand the whole idea of building a good website for the purpose of your user.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. Very good. And for whatever reason, somehow, every web search, wherever it starts it ends up with cats on skateboards or something. So, if you can get close to the skateboarding cats, you’re probably good. No. Don’t listen to that, that’s bad advice. Okay. Wrapping [00:31:30] up here, John. One way I like to think about things is what is the easiest thing I could implement that would make the biggest difference in my life? And I think about that a lot whether it’s in business, it’s in my family, it’s in other areas; what would be a small change that would have a big ripple? And so, what would you say to somebody listening to this podcast, a business owner, what would be the easiest thing they could go implement [00:32:00] today or tomorrow, that could actually start to have an impact on their customers finding their website and turning into an actual customer of the business?

John Vuong:                 So, there’s two answers, I would say. So, in terms of the business and search engines, I would say go out there. If you’ve been established, you’ve been in business for a while, you have revenue, go out there and talk to your 10 best clients. [00:32:30] Long-term, great relationship, go have lunch, coffee, dinner, take them to a sporting event. Get to know them, ask them 20 questions; subtly, of course, don’t grill them with questions, but understanding why they chose you. What were some of the triggers, what is their personality, where do they hang out? What do they enjoy in terms of hobbies, travel, food, whatever? Then that’s profiling.

Then you have a profile of the questions that you can answer on your website; [00:33:00] all the blogs and all the content piece should speak just to those 10 best profile clients of yours. And then, everything that you do is for that, so if you want to attract more of those 10 best profile clients. So, that’s the business end. It may be a little bit harder or not, but hire someone or get someone in your team to do that. The second thing I would say is, not just in SEO but in business, is [00:33:30] find what stresses you out, what you’re frustrated with, and there’s people out there that love what you’re stressed out doing.

And the more you let go, delegate, and hold people accountable and let them learn and grow and figure things out, the less stress you’re going to have. The more you can focus on what you love and want to transform and grow your business or scale or whatever it may be. Because then you become more passionate, [00:34:00] without the stress and burden, because that’s what I’ve learned early was let go and give to my team and let them figure out. They feel like there’s a sense of ownership, and now I’m leading by teaching, I’m leading by growing them and holding them accountable with KPIs and growth metrics and all that stuff. And it feels much more rewarding for me to see them elevate their growth, and it’s [00:34:30] satisfying because everyone gets stronger; the team gets better, because they’re sticky, they’re happier, and so are you. So, the sooner you let go, the better you are as a business.

Aaron Ackerman:         Man, that is fantastic. And maybe for somebody who’s not the boss, a brilliant question would be go to the boss and say, “What do you hate doing? Let me take that from you.” I love that. I’ve got three letters written on my iPhone, I see it every [00:35:00] day, and it’s ADE and it stands for automate, delegate, eliminate. I’m always thinking about things that I can automate, or things that I could stop doing and nobody would even care, just eliminate that. Or then, what you’re talking about, the D like delegate; somebody else probably wants to take something and do a really awesome job with it that I’m not doing an awesome job with. And so that that is such a good way to end on that. John, is there anything that we didn’t talk about that you think would be [00:35:30] really important to impart to business owners thinking about this?

John Vuong:                 Yeah. I would say SEO is transformational for every single business who hasn’t even looked at it or they’ve tried other agencies, don’t give up. There’s great companies out there. And when you find them, you’re going to love them because they’re going to be a godsend for your business. Not only will they grow your ROI and grow your sales revenue, but they’re going to be great humans [00:36:00] that you’re wanting to hang out with for the tenure of your business. So, don’t give up, because if you’ve tried other forms of advertising; paid ads, social media, trade shows, flyers, magazines, newspaper, created a billboard [inaudible 00:36:15] who buy any product, service, high-ticket item, you’re probably going to ask your friends, word of mouth referrals. First thing.

And then, if you don’t know who it is, or even if you do know who it is, you’re [00:36:30] vetting them anyways. You’re checking it out on Google, you’re going to check them out and you’re going to navigate, check out the reviews, check out the website, and you’re going to be biased. You’re going to have your own concerns you’re going to check and you’re going to check out all their asset pieces. So, that whole asset of the website is so important today, and if you don’t utilize it for business growth or generating leads and revenue or profit, think about all your customers today. They’re spending [00:37:00] more time in front of a computer or smartphone, so the hours have increased. [inaudible 00:37:08] live events as much, because [inaudible 00:37:11]. So, everyone’s spending and consuming information online, so be where people are. That’s my rule.

And especially Google is majority of people are seeking out their own products and maybe you are the same; why would you spend in social or paid when you yourself don’t even click [00:37:30] on paid ads? So, people who don’t understand the power, that’s my job and the whole SEO industry to educate, inform on the role of SEO [inaudible 00:37:41] a lot of [inaudible 00:37:42]. “I guarantee you, I’m going to get you ranking on the 30 days,” or whatever, don’t believe any of that. Just think about how hard it is to rank on the first page if there’s thousands of other dentists that are trying to compete with you. So be realistic, find [00:38:00] someone that’s actually gets it, that understands how to run a business, to do things ethically, white hat.

Aaron Ackerman:         Okay. John, we’ve got a few questions that we always ask our guests to wrap up and so I’m going to hit you with those now if you’re ready. So, the first question is what’s the first way you ever made money? I think you already answered that, you said you had a paper route when you’re 10. But because you had 30 or 20 or whatever jobs, I’m going to alter this question [00:38:30] specifically for you, John. And it’s going to be, what is the weirdest or most unusual way that you ever made money?

John Vuong:                 Oh, man. Me being me, so in my 20s first job was advertising sales. It’s kind of weird but I’ll be honest here. I didn’t have the nice clothes, shirts and pants and whatnot. So, first job, while working at Red Pages directory [00:39:00] advertising, I didn’t have a car yet, but I needed to dress the part. I couldn’t afford it when I first started, so I went to a Banana Republic store and I sold myself. I’m like, “Look, this is my thing. I want to work here because I want to serve right,” even though I wanted to get the clothes at 50% because I couldn’t pay for the ticket price. I needed something that I could afford. So, they hired me on the spot, being a sales rep. I worked there for three weeks, got thousands [00:39:30] of dollars of my apparel and I still wear it today, so it’s like 15 years of clothes that I bought when I first was in my early 20s and that’s my sales weirdest…

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. That’s great. Hey, there’s no shame. That’s way better than wearing clothes with the tag still on it and then taking it back after the interview or the [inaudible 00:39:55]. So, what would you be doing today if you had [00:40:00] a different career? If you weren’t helping people with SEO and business coaching and all those things, what else would you be doing?

John Vuong:                 I feel giving is definitely in my lifeline and blood, DNA. So, going into philanthropy somewhere, volunteering my time in third world countries, just helping good people. Because I understand how hard it is in different nations. I was eager to go back to Vietnam, I’ve been to Asia, different places, and just [00:40:30] watching how we are so privileged and don’t even understand how lucky we are in the first world countries; North America, Western societies on how 90% of the population lives under different, dire constraints with no clean water, no food, no shelter and we take it for granted here. So, just that alone, just being able to support and help, that would be amazing for me.

Aaron Ackerman:         Wow! That’s awesome. [00:41:00] What would you like to go back and tell your 20-year-old self?

John Vuong:                 Honestly, I lived such a great, curious life. I was always trying to be better than where I was at, and yes I could’ve started my business a little bit earlier, but I had to learn the art of sales. I had to be a really good salesperson and I learned it by doing. Not being afraid and learning by getting rejected every single day, 100 times. And [00:41:30] it brought me closer to my goals, to eventually own a home and a car, and a business now. So, just have enough fun throughout the entire journey, and I don’t think I would regret anything or change anything because this is my path. My journey, and I love every moment of it.

Aaron Ackerman:         That’s awesome. So, what’s the title of your book?

John Vuong:                 So, I’m working on that right now, it’s going to be something about SEO in small business, because that’s what my bread- [00:42:00] and-butter businesses is. But outside of that, I’m building a community to service the [inaudible 00:42:06]. So, I still want to educate and inform but at a lower tier, so that people can just join and do it themselves. So, that’s in the works as well, and that’s probably in a year or two years.

Aaron Ackerman:         Yeah. All right. Really cool. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

John Vuong:                 I think my mom is the [00:42:30] grittiest person in the world; taking poor kids, coming to a new country, learning the language. I mean, she always says, “Just keep working hard.” Keep doing it because you don’t understand what she had to go through to bring us here. So, for us it’s like, “Just work hard,” so I would wake up earlier than everyone to get into the office, leave later than everyone. Work on the evenings or weekends when I was single, before [00:43:00] I had family and all that stuff; figure it out, just work harder than everyone else, and you should be normal Western country kind of people. We were different early days and now I feel like we’re now in the same mix and playing field.

Aaron Ackerman:         Well, John, thank you so much. I appreciate you sharing all of your experience, your expertise with us, with our listeners. If somebody [00:43:30] wants to find out more about you or about Local SEO Search, what’s the best way to find you?

John Vuong:                 Yeah. So, the best way is check out our website, localseosearch.ca based in Toronto, Canada. Yes, we own the dotcom as well. We service local businesses as well as your local community, and that’s what resonated with me more so; I want to help the small/medium-sized businesses dominate their local niche and become thought leaders [00:44:00] and authoritative figures in their domain. And that’s my number one premise in the business and in my career and life.

Aaron Ackerman:         Okay. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, and we’ll look for Local SEO Search to do great things and hopefully we’ll talk to you again soon down the road. Thanks, John.

John Vuong:                 Thank you so much for having me, Aaron.

Aaron Ackerman:         And that’s all for this episode of How That Happened. Thank you for listening. Be sure to visit howthathappened.com for show notes and additional [00:44:30] episodes. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher. This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Copyright 2020 HoganTaylor LLP. All Rights Reserved. To view the HoganTaylor general terms and conditions, visit www.hogantaylor.com.



John Vuong is the founder of Local SEO Search, a full-service Search Engine Optimization company based in Toronto.

The fourth child of Vietnamese immigrants to Canada, John began his work life at the age of ten with a paper route. Early in life, he realized that he had a passion for people and relationships. After graduating from Western University in Ontario, John held sales-related positions at RedToronto.com, Yellow Pages Group, and Jatheon Technologies.

In 2013, after ten years as an employee, John took the leap into business ownership, launching Local SEO Search.

In this episode, John shares an upbringing influenced by Vietnamese parents who had only recently immigrated to Canada in the wake of the Vietnam War. He then does a deep dive into the basics of SEO, why even the smallest or newest business needs to prioritize their SEO from the start, and the steps they can take to establish themselves as thought leaders in their space. Finally, John touches on how to outsource your SEO, the pitfalls of perfectionism, and actionable steps that every business owner can take today.

This episode is now on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also listen via the podcast player embedded above.

Make sure to subscribe to “How That Happened” to receive our latest episodes, learn more about our guests, and collect resources on how to better run your business.