We’re excited to have interviewed Salt Lake City SEO Expert Gavan Thorpe, from Boostability, for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series!
Gavan has over 20 years of experience in developing, deploying and managing corporate technologies. Prior to working at Boostability, Gavan served as the VP of Technology at OrangeSoda and Director of Operations at Ah-ha.com before its acquisition by Ancestry.com. While at Ancestry.com, Gavan built out a production network that grew by over 400 percent. His proven track record of leadership and vision has led to remarkable growth and improved functionality in each company he has been a part of.
What would you say is unique and/or challenging about working with small businesses on SEO and online marketing?
“The very nature of the world we live in is difficult. Businesses have moved online and much of the old way of doing things has changed. Many small businesses relied on in-person and offline methods. They now have to go up against the convenience factor. I would agree that most people want to support small businesses. But, the ease of one stop at a big-box store or just clicking ‘add’ to your Amazon cart is hard to beat.
“At Boostability, we believe the key is to help these businesses get found online. People have a desire to search for the best deal and best solution for them. So we help the small businesses capitalize on that. The consumer landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years, and we’re helping SMBs adapt with it in the digital marketplace.”
How does your SEO agency stand out in a crowded market like the SLC area?
“We love being part of a growing tech community in the Utah area, our own Silicon Slopes. Boostability was founded under a unique prospect – that we specifically help small businesses. Before Boostability, no one provided an affordable SEO solution, at scale, for SMBs. We champion the cause of small businesses and have grown to provide SMB SEO to more partners and satisfied customers than any other provider in the world.”
Can you share a success story from a local SEO campaign centered around your area?
“One of my favorite recent success stories was for a financial planning company that specializes in banking and loans for both individuals and businesses. This company has several branch locations in five states in the Midwestern U.S., so it’s a very specific and targeted campaign to help them all rank well in their individual locations.
“At first, our Boostability team focused on keywords around their four core selling points: home equity, mortgage, checking and small business. We started with their website and backend meta descriptions, etc., to build up authority. We also spent a significant amount of time writing custom copy and content to highlight the different kinds of loans and services provided.
“In just four months, our work got 26 keywords on the first page of Google. We now have earned page-one rankings on dozens more keywords, with a dozen holding the number one spot in the SERPs. We’ve also just started working on SEO for their newest branch in Colorado and hope to have it ranking high in the next couple months.”
What is the best advice you’ve ever received in business?
“We’ve all heard the old adage of ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ This is an extreme, absolute statement that has some clear truth to it that a manager of mine pointed out to me long ago. Why do you do what you do? Just for the paycheck? Then you are in the wrong line of work and will likely never be fulfilled doing it. To truly succeed in anything, you have to have passion. Excitement. For me, there is nothing more motivating than seeing a business we helped succeed. That is the ultimate in our success. That is what drives me and many of us to do what we do.”
What do you think is the most important quality that makes an agency truly great?
“I believe a major factor that great agencies need to have is the ability to adapt. Agility and adaptability is key as trends shift, especially for technology companies. The world of technology constantly changes, and we need to change along with it. I’m not saying make complete 180 pivots every year when a new trend comes out. But we’ve seen over and over businesses that tried to keep up with the old way of doing things because it’s always worked. That doesn’t fly anymore. You have to be able to adapt your agency and the way you do things. New best practices, strategies, algorithm updates, products and the like come up all the time. You need to make sure your business model can be adaptable and agile to account for these changes in technology and the market.
“Customer loyalties are also much more fluid than they used to be. If they don’t think you’re following the best trends and getting results, they won’t hesitate to go somewhere else.”
Any predictions for the future of SEO?
“Having a storefront with people in place is no longer needed to prove your validity as a business. Office space, in-person meetings, all that traditional business is more of a luxury in the year 2021. Businesses need to ensure they build out a robust online presence when that matters more and more every single day.
“It’s a matter of making a connection with a customer when you might not ever be able to see them face to face. People want detailed product and service information before ever making a phone call. They want online appointments and curbside pickup. Most decisions are made before ever stepping into a store or ‘adding to cart.’ And that’s not going to change. Being found online, and easily found, will make or break a business today.
“These online optimizations, and what used to be considered a bonus feature or a luxury, is now the status quo. SEO and those who work to optimize websites will need to adapt to the new way of consumer thinking and incorporate them into their design and marketing plans. Google is already making a point of improving user experience across the board with their Page Experience Update. That will only continue to grow in importance, increasing the performance and visibility of your website while incorporating those features users crave like appointments, ratings, delivery options, etc.”
What is your reaction when you hear that “SEO is dying”?
“I fully disagree that SEO is dying. If anything, it’s becoming more and more important. Google and other search engines are taking up more and more real estate on their pages with paid ads, map packs, profiles, etc. So the organic listings – those rankings that people trust the most – are even more crucial to achieve. But there’s so much more than just organic rankings. For local businesses, like many of the SMBs Boostability services, they need to be listed on those map packs and local business directories. And we help them achieve that.
“SEO is so much more than keywords and content; it’s helping businesses really develop that important online connection that people want and need today.”
What do you think is the most important contributor to keeping clients happy?
“As I stated earlier, you want to make that personal connection with your customers, even though there’s a good chance you’ll never see them face to face. Especially with companies like ours that are B2B, we get to talk regularly with our customers, but we have to make sure they understand the value of the service we provide to them while on the phone with them. And consumers are more savvy than ever when knowing if a company is just looking for a sale, or genuinely caring about their business and helping it succeed. You need to forge those genuine connections with your customers in order to succeed. They can be your greatest source of lead gen. Plus, it costs many times over to get a new customer than to retain the ones you have. Customer retention matters, and it starts with making a human connection at every single customer touchpoint.”
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