More threads by JasonKhoo

Sep 14, 2018
Reaction score
Hi Guys,

Read a great post this morning by Ryan Holiday (personally my favorite business author) and he wrote a pretty strong post about focusing on our craft instead of finding quick hacks and shortcuts.

Certainly, I myself wasted many chances to learn about how to improve my craft by instead asking people I admire for superficial hacks and career opportunities. I see the same mistake repeated in subreddits and forums and blogs and Facebook groups that (aspiring) creative professionals — writers, designers, startup founders — use as networking vehicles and support systems.

Rest of the post is here (about 3 - 5 minute read): Your Work Is the Only Thing That Matters – Ryan Holiday – Medium

I'd love to get other's Local SEO's thoughts on this as I have personally struggled with this! How do you balance focusing on just Local SEO and also focusing on growing the business?
Hey Jason,

That's a great question. I am a big admirer of Ryan Holiday. The Obstacle is the Way and some of the Stoic writings have had a major positive impact in my personal and professional life.

I think the answer to your questions depends on several considerations.

  1. How big do you want to grow? (# of clients, revenue)
  2. What do you enjoy doing more - Local SEO or Business Dev/Ops?

I've been involved with a couple big agencies that wanted to grow quickly and that was the main focus. That's not a bad thing per se. But if sales and growth trump the love and craft of what you do that can be a problem. With Sterling Sky we are growing but the Local SEO craft takes priority over that because we realize that one way to grow is to be the best at what you do. So the business growth comes as a natural bi-product of being focused on the craft and working hard to be amazing at it.
Hey Colan,

Yes! I'm a big fan of Ryan Holiday! Obstacle is the Way is my #1 book I recommend and gift. I read it constantly when I go through trying times.

I think you put it well when it comes to the business. My agency is the first business I started and I think I can get caught up in hyper growth, but I think at my core I don't want to sacrifice the quality of SEO. I don't want to be a boiler plate company.

Something that I've seen now is that I've been doing SEO for about 6 years now and I think if your REALLY focused on your craft, your involved in the community. You contribute.

That's something I never did. I just read articles and only commented when I wanted questions answered, but something I've seen from Joy, Mike and others is that by contributing to the community, you better your craft but also the byproduct is exposure.

All in all there isn't just one way, think we're all trying to figure it out. I really appreciate your experience with the big agencies focused on growth, I've never worked at one so I don't have that perspective. Thanks!
I have often found that the best, most inspirational people are the ones who still actually do the craft instead of watching others do it. There might be a day where I stop doing client work but that day is FAR away because doing SEO is what I love. It actually took me so long to open my own company because the thought of being a business owner scared me since running a business wasn't my passion - Local Search was. I am surprised at how many people do presentations on SEO and give advice on SEO who haven't actually touched a client in years.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Joy! I think I have a passion for business and the operations of it, but I know that I still really care about our team's quality of SEO service. I remember when I first got started with the business, I kept being told to "Automate, automate, automate".

I always saw "automate" as a bad word because I feel like many SEO companies have crash and burned by thinking they can automate a strategy that could beat Google. I still firmly believe this today.

I think the challenge for me, as I'm sure it is for you, is to develop a culture of high level commitment to SEO where everyone has a strong knowledge of the craft while still being able to help as many small business owners as possible.

P.S: I'm writing this at 10:30PM while my entire team has stayed late to get cracking on some underperforming sites. Though its stressful, knowing that the team is banding together and really trying to work on this makes me so happy haha ! 😅

Joy and Colan hit it on the nose, as did you.

In my experience, clients really like to know at least 3 things - all closely related:

1. That the SEO person (or company) has been around for a while, and so probably will be around for a while longer. Time has a way of thinning the herd of the less-than-devoted people.

2. Exactly who does the work, who makes the decisions, and who will be accountable for the outcome. With most agencies it’s hard to know those things, or the client has a good thing going with someone at the agency, until that person moves on.

3. That the client won’t get the McDonald’s treatment - where everything’s automated or the agency is trying to automate it. That’s not SEO. That’s rote labor. May sound great for the agency, but it results in high churn, bruised reputations, and a lot of unnecessary pain.

Because of those things, most agencies (though not all!) are long and hat but short on cowboy. Puts longtime hands-on specialists in a mighty good position.

As someone with plenty o’ clients, I’ve found it’s best to balance the urge to have many clients with a (somewhat counterintuitive) effort not to treat all clients the same. The goal is to get a diamond-hard core of people you’ve helped so much that you will - barring some catastrophe - always have them. Gotta have some VIPs.

Here’s a book that was (and is) a huge help to my business, and to that of everyone I’ve recommended it to:
@Phil Rozek

Thanks for the feedback! I saw this the other day and really wanted to sit and think on your suggestions. Its got me thinking a lot and I think something that rings so true is the agency side. I've had different ad agencies come and talk about joining forces or adding SEO, but when it comes down to figuring out execution, it seems like they just want an automated (or as you put "McDonald's) system. Which gets a little counter intuitive because you then can't be getting those great results!

Your second to last point is something I'm most striving for. Our team has a great client retention, but I still don't feel 100% confident in it. Right now I feel that I've developed relationships by getting good results and educating, but what I feel like would be the best relationship is a stronger form of education, where if there are algorithmic updates (like this last one), I don't feel like it's ALL ON ME, but rather I can talk with the clients and say, this is a team effort.

I know not all clients will get like that, but I think I also haven't done a good enough job to facilitate that relationship. Something I'm trying to figure out.

Lastly, thanks for the book recommendation! I'll add it to my list and I will let you know what I think!

Jason Khoo

Login / Register

Already a member?   LOG IN
Not a member yet?   REGISTER

LocalU Event

Live Webinar - Local SEO Audits

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...
Top Bottom