Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Growing your Online Presence with Farzad Rashidi

George Grombacher June 30, 2022

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Growing your Online Presence with Farzad Rashidi

LifeBlood: We talked about how to grow your online presence, the importance of SEO and backlinks, how to prioritize your time and attention, and how to get started, with Farzad Rashidi, CoFounder of Respona.

Listen to learn why good things take time!

You can learn more about Farzad at Respona.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Farzad Rashidi

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on web leopard This is George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful fireside. Rashidi fires out. Are you ready to do this?

Farzad Rashidi 0:18
Yes sir. I’m very excited. Thanks for having me on the show. George,

george grombacher 0:21
excited to have you on. Farzad is the co founder of responsive they are the all in one digital PR influencer marketing link building software. They combine personalization with productivity. Again, excited to have you on Farzad, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you

Unknown Speaker 0:41
do. Sure, thanks. So just to start with the professional life, because I think that’d be probably something that most folks are interested in. I’m an immigrant myself. I came here when I was 17. Iranian originally, and I started my career in marketing back in, gosh, I don’t even remember how many years it’s been getting old, I guess. But, uh, back in a company called visit me, have you heard a visit me before? George?

george grombacher 1:08
I had before I was poking around a little bit on you this morning. Ah,

Unknown Speaker 1:12
awesome. Perfect. Well, I joined as the first marketing hire this time visiting is a tiny little startup. For folks who don’t know what it is. It’s an it’s a design platform built for businesses. So if you want to create any sort of like presentations, infographics, reports, etc, you could plug in your brand guidelines, and he’s sort of helps us sort of create these graphics quickly. And so the product was very cool. And then especially at the time, and you know, folks like Canva, and some of that are somewhat competitors, how hadn’t taken off then, and basically was introduced a team of engineers and designers, they’re like, Okay, this is all we got. So you’re our best shot to go out and start selling this thing. It’s like, okay, here we go. Yes, thanks. So let’s, let’s try to figure out what we’re going to do in terms of not only short term sale, but also, how are we going to build a customer acquisition strategy that would, you know, is still applicable five to 10 years from now, and building it well, so that it would basically bring those customers on an evergreen basis. So we basically, I would say, conservative, few options. Paid advertising was one and problem with paid advertising is that they use a bidding system. So the cost per acquisition is skyrocketing, especially after COVID. And what what we found is that it’s a very expensive way to to get eyeballs on your business. So unless you have like some sort of, like lifestyle business, you know, certainly shirts and hoodies, and yeah, I mean, Facebook ads probably are your best bet. But some problem we had with our comp company is that there’s just quite a lot of competition getting introduced to the market. And it was not a very scalable channel. Plus, when you double your ad budget, for example, doesn’t get doubled in conversions. So the return on investment and your ad budget sort of goes is diminishing over time. And we tried cold average. And obviously, that’s something that has helped us kind of get some early users in. But the price point of our product is I think we started at like $15 a month. So it’s not a price point that you would hire salespeople us and go door to door and start selling right. So that the I would say that the platform was very affordable, but at the same time that introduced a new restrictions in terms of how it could acquire customers profitably. So we landed on SEO. And we were like, Guys, this is awesome. Let’s, let’s see if we can and try to build this organic channels so that not only we have to, you know, we won’t have to go and chase after every single customer but also scalable channel where we can build on top of over the years. And just to give you some background now this means not getting over 3 million and monthly organic traffic, over 14 million active users were completely bootstrapped, no raise any outside funding. And basically as growing at a very healthy rate. So So I would say over 95 96% of our customers come directly through SEO channels.

george grombacher 4:17
Well done. Oh, thank

Unknown Speaker 4:19
you. I was not just me, by the way, just a disclaimer that it’s a it’s a very talented group of people. I’m a small part of that. But it was quite a great experience to be part of that journey. But that whole, I would say experience sort of led us to the creation of respawn, which was a software that we had developed internally to help us build backlinks and that was sort of the key there. And I’m happy to dive more into it but I was sort of a whichever secret sauce at the beginning at our vision, business marketing team and and it just worked extremely well and we decided to release it as a standalone product. So that’s how we ended up with responding

george grombacher 4:59
nice So in terms of the SEO that you were doing, are we talking about just written blog posts? How was that? How did that take form?

Unknown Speaker 5:06
So that’s what we started with. And we basically were doing everything but other people think of when they think of SEO, we’re like, Okay, well, we know how our customers are finding us. So let’s say, George, let’s actually go through his example. Let’s say you have a business, right? And we’re doing this podcast interview, and you want to create a, say, an infographic for this episode. And let’s say you don’t have a solution yet. What’s the first step you do in your research process to find a product like an infographic maker? How would you do a search on Google? Exactly. And so we knew that we put ourselves in the shoes of a customer like, Okay, well, we know where our customers are hanging out, you know, the keywords are searching to find a product like ours. And the problem was, how are we gonna get there? So for example, I, what we decided at first was we’re like, Okay, we’re gonna create some blog posts, right? How to make an infographic and or basically build a bunch of landing pages, sales pages, like infographic, software, etc. And, and we put us out, and people were just gonna come and find us. And we did just that we were about two months, we went and start building all these blog articles and sales pages and did the keyword research makes her site loads fast and all the technical stuff that SEOs basically recommend. And so we put this out and guess what happened? Crickets? Exactly. Not a single person, probably like two people can turn upside. One on One was my mother and my biggest fan and sure, I believe, yeah, one other person. Yes. Thank you, whoever that person was. So we were like, Okay, well, well, this was kind of discouraging, because we’re a small team, and we spent all his resources, it was embarrassing to me most of all. So we’re like, Okay, let’s try to kind of see where we did things wrong. So, George, let’s say, Can you do me a favor? This is exactly what I did one night, can you open a new incognito tab on your browser right now? Sure thing, so that your existing search history wouldn’t impact that survey that will come on? Look up one of our target keywords, like presentation software, for example. Okay, all right. So you see how in the search results at the top that sort of tells you how many search results? Google sort of went through to find these? Do you see it? Yep. How many searches holes that Google will go through to get there? Or is that I see a lot three and a half billion. And so at the top, obviously, you see some ads that everybody’s got to scroll through and skips what what will what do you see on the organic search results? I want to make sure I’m seeing what you’re saying.

george grombacher 8:08
The organic of get up? There it is. Because me.

Unknown Speaker 8:12
Okay, purpose? Well, the awesome. So what you see now is the tip of the iceberg. So it took a good amount of work to get here. So it wasn’t like, Hey, let’s go just make it block those and magically show up. Because, let’s say if they’re, if you’re in the top 1% In terms of quality of content, so you hire the best writers, you have the best site, and you create a piece or a landing page that is the top 1%. If there are three and a half billion search results, you’re still in the millions as a ranking. But 99% of clicks go to the top 10, which are on the first page. So how would you go about millions, which is still a good ranking, you’re still top 1%, which gives zero traffic to top 10. They were like, alright, well, let’s see how Google works. And the way Google saw that problem back in the 90s. And that’s sort of how they dominated market was based on this algorithm called PageRank, which obviously has been upgraded over time, but the core is still the same. Where it puts emphasis on websites that get these backlinks and mentions from other websites. It’s got a Mean Girls popularity contest, right? So the more other relevant, authoritative sites are talking about you, that is a vote of popularity. And now that’s hard to get, isn’t it? Because now not only will they rely on the information that’s on your website, but also take look at other websites and see if they’re talking about you if they’re mentioning you and linking back to your website and that that’s the real key that we found that basically propelled us forward in the search results. So then, we started allocating our resources the same way so we’re still a small team. Don’t get me wrong. We didn’t have a large market. intend to try to figure this out. But what we decided to do was to spend 20% of our marketing resources on content creation. So we’re still producing a healthy, healthy number, I think, a couple a month. And then the other 80% went into promotional link building, which is the exact opposite way of how most companies do content marketing. And basically, that helped us sort of build this machine, that’s now very hard to be because we’re getting consistently media mentions, and directly pointing to our website. And then that that process, though, was extremely hard to implement, because it was, so that it’s kind of, I would say, easier said than done, because it required a good amount of manual work and tons of time. And so we basically built a little software internally, that helped us prioritize a lot of things and automate a lot of the dirty, dirty work and mundane tasks that I will do now focus more on personalization building relationships, and that the whole experience led to respond, which wasn’t called response time was just an internal thing that we built. And it just worked ridiculously well. So we decided to release it as a standalone tool.

george grombacher 11:09
Nice. All right. So through your manual outreach, you would reach out to maybe a blogger who focused on. I don’t know what I’m trying to create an example. Give me

Unknown Speaker 11:23
some examples. Yeah. So one very good example is what I’m doing right now, George, you don’t even know. That’s interesting, isn’t it? So one of the strategies that we run is podcast average strategy. So because this is exactly what I’m doing, because for going on podcasts as guests, so number one goal for us to build relationships with people in our space. So, George, you have an awesome podcast, I’m not sure what do you notice, actually, but you’re in the top zero 5%. So lots of people listen to your show. And it’s within a demographic that makes sense in terms of the information that we have to share, right? So we can add some value, and building relationships with Greg host, like yourself. So that’s our number one. Goal number two goal is advertising to a niche audience. So now everybody who’s listened to the show has heard of respondent, we don’t expect anyone to go and pay for our subscription right away. But now, you know, next time we come across a responsive blog post and Google results, and then you you’re more likely to click that, right. So it’s one of the seven touch points that that we that that we’d like to kind of get our name out there. And also, more importantly, and what I wouldn’t say more importantly, but we also get a link back to our website from your show notes, because you’re obviously turning this episode into a written content, most likely, and, you know, guess what you need to link to responders website. So there we go. There’s a link right there. So by link building, when we mean is not spamming the world and trying to, you know, basically pester people into into giving you a link is by building relationships, relevant, authoritative media within your space. And one of those really good strategies is podcasts. But again, that’s one out of a few dozen different strategies that we run to these get these targeted links back to our website.

george grombacher 13:12
Got it that makes a ton of sense, is is it possible to know, here’s the value of a written blog post, here’s the value of a backlink and and how I should structure like, like, how many should I be trying to get more is probably better. But

Unknown Speaker 13:28
sure, so a lot of that has to do with keyword difficulty. So, or the amount of competition that it is for keywords. So like there are some niche that you don’t really need links, like, for example, we had a customer in a plant space. And surprisingly enough, there isn’t a whole lot of like content out there about plants, like specific types of plants. So I was like, Hey, man, you don’t really need to do like, yeah, right. So everything is very straightforward. There’s like, so many, so little, like quality search results that you can just, you know, put together a really valuable guide and get up in there. But that’s unfortunately or fortunately is shrinking my significantly, most businesses, I would say over 90% are facing quite a lot of competition in search, because you have to remember, there’s only 10 slots for each keyword. And it’s now it’s getting dominated by ads more and more. So what we basically recommend folks is that doesn’t matter how much resources you have, what matters is and what’s the sweet spot that we found is that you dedicate 20% of your sources on content creation 80% of promotion. Now, if you don’t have a whole lot of resources, let’s say you’re a one man show, just don’t produce so much content. You just create one really good piece of content that you’ve done proper keyword research for, and I actually have a process for how to find the right keywords, what we call opportunity keywords. I’m happy to dig into that if you like but then once you create that piece of code I can spend the rest of the month now on promotion. And we actually have a pretty good resource on different average tactics and strategies, one of which is podcast outreach on, it’s on gated free resource on responders websites are few good responder.com. The very bottom of the page in the footer is called response outreach strategy hub. And if you click down, and it just gives you ready to use recipes and templates for different average tactics, and almost I would say all of them, maybe 90% of them, you can do yourself manually, you don’t need any tools, per se, responded basically just helps to do what you do manually, but 10 times faster. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do them if you don’t have access to all the space tools.

george grombacher 15:44
Yeah, I totally get it. So as artificial intelligence and software continue to sort of eat the world, how and and as AI becomes smarter, and is able to write better than I ever could dream of writing. How do you see like, like, how is the internet going to be able to sort through what a computer wrote and what a human being wrote? Or will that not be possible? Does that not matter?

Unknown Speaker 16:09
No, I think that that is a great point, George, and I believe you’re referring to that GPT three technology, and it just has recently been very popularized. And I personally think I’m, I’m torn in a way that I definitely does. It does, right? Well, but it doesn’t communicate ideas as a human would, at least not at this point in time. So I personally think it’s bad for the web, to have so much AI generated content, Google’s becoming very increasingly smart, in terms of picking those out. And in terms of finding out not necessarily penalize you are prioritizing content pieces that people users get or engage with more. And that’s something that obviously doesn’t matter the means to get there. But it’s very hard to accomplish just by using AI, I still, we still produce all of our content by hand. Because we and not only that, but like that writers are experts in the field. They’re not just writers, right? So we have access to a network of freelance writers that we tap into based on their expertise. Like, hey, we wanted to cover this and that and just write from your experience. And we don’t actually do any sort of keyword stuffing or any any of that metrics, because it’s something I used to work back in the early 2000s, that doesn’t work anymore, in a way that it’s very hard now to actually get search results and stay there by producing subpar content, because not a smarter marketer is going to come and beat you, you know, within seven days. So that’s something that I’m obviously, I’d like to technology, I think he’s got a treat tremendous potential, but I don’t think it’s it’s going to replace human writing. And it’s time soon.

george grombacher 18:02
Got a couple of years left. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 18:05
hopefully. I mean, I’m all for efficiency. But, but as I said, I mean, it’s so much more than just writing to fill space is more so about what value you can provide from that piece of content. And an AI, the way they’re trained is by reading the internet, they have read a thing or half the Internet to train their model. So obviously, they could come up with ideas. But the thing that you can provide as a human to be competitive is sharing your experience. And as what I’m doing right now, right, is to actually come up with our information that you’ve gained through years of being in that field, not necessarily just the right and repurpose content.

george grombacher 18:48
Makes sense. Because other people are ready for that difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 18:54
All right, so I’m gonna, I’m going to steal out from my co founder, Pam on who is the founder of Visby. And one thing that he kept saying to me, especially the early days of responding is that good things take time. And, and if you can power through and most people down and then you can get accomplish great things. And just having that in mind that that it does take a lot more time than you normally think before you get started either in the business life personal life, but but normally good things. Take time. That’s that’s what I’m going to leave it as

george grombacher 19:33
well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. We always want it to go faster, but it’s always going to take a little longer than than then than we certainly want. So I appreciate that. Of course. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you and responder?

Unknown Speaker 19:50
Sure thing so responders website we release a ton of quality content. Obviously if you want to check out some of our pieces you can go to respond to that. COMM slash blog and that is r e s p o n a.com/blog. So we have tons of quality content on our site. Also, from there, add rechab that I recommend folks to take a look at. If you want to connect with me personally, my name is Farzad Rashidi, there aren’t a whole lot of us in the world. So I stick out like a sore thumb on LinkedIn. So probably the best way to find me but that the those two I would say are the best ways.

george grombacher 20:25
Awesome. If you enjoyed this as much as I did for show for your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to response.com. It’s our ESP o n a.com. Then go to respondent.com/blog to check out all the great resources and figure out how it is they’re able to rank right at the top with all those trillions and billions of searches that are going on out there. Thanks. Good fires up. Of course. Thank

Unknown Speaker 20:52
you so much for having me, George. This

george grombacher 20:53
was fun. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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