Back to Back Interview: Jason Acidre and Sean Si
It’s been a couple of years since I worked with Jason. We started out with SEO almost at the same time. He was looking for his way in the world at that time. I was looking for opportunities in business. Here’s the inside story of how Jason and I got to meet and work and his thoughts on SEO in the Philippines.
I was working in Hewlett Packard at that time – somewhere in Ortigas. My shift was from 9am – 6pm. Since they didn’t mind me staying at the office until 12am, I did so – and worked on SEO Hacker. This went on for months. I grew the blog from a personal SEO blog where I put in my learnings and experiments about SEO – to a niche blog that talked and taught about SEO to newbies.
It all started when I got a tweet from a @kaiserthesage somewhere 2010. It’s just a short (heartfelt?) ego-boost he threw out.
We exchanged tweets and we decided to do a meet-up. I was a newbie, he was a newbie and we exchanged newbie ideas with each other. Hooray!
Sooner than we expected, we were doing work together. The tough thing about it is the coordination. We were 3 hours apart by commute. And Jason didn’t carry a mobile phone. Don’t ask me why.
Here’s a picture of our first ‘Team Get Together’ back in April 2011:
Jason is a brilliant strategist. A genius with beating the system and using loopholes to win. He’s great at what he does. And he is aware of his weaknesses – that’s what makes him very effective.
Some time and a handful of good SEO projects passed us by and we bid our farewell to each other as teammates – he had his own set of growing projects to take care of and I focused on scaling SEO Hacker. Our respect for each other’s work and character only grew from then on.
The thing is, I noticed Jason’s weak point at that time was that, in order to scale up, he needed a manager and someone who ran the operations well. I’m glad he found the right people for the job. He now runs a successful SEO company – Xight Interactive.
So here we are – 2 content marketing-centered SEO specialists with extreme care for our brands but with different approaches to our holistic inbound marketing strategies. We agreed to do a back-to-back interview of each other. I finished my questions first.
So without further ado, please give a round of applause for Jason “Kaiser” Acidre:
1. What do you think will be the case of SEO in the Philippines as an industry in the next 3 years?
Local brands and businesses will be more ready to and aware of how valuable SEO is as a marketing tool, knowing that digital marketing (especially social and mobile) are slowly being embraced by the bigger brands these days.
SEO is far more powerful, in my opinion, compared to those 2 other areas of online marketing when it comes to acquiring new customers, and in generating conversions/revenue.
I guess the only thing that’s lacking is how local practitioners can evangelize this marketing platform and somehow prove to local companies that SEO is a long-term investment that they should’ve started to invest in as early as now.
Another case would be the difficulty to compete with other agencies when you’re an SEO service provider. The practice will continue to get tougher throughout the coming years, and it’s possible that a high percentage of the current practitioners will most-likely quit and choose another career, which I believe is a better scenario for our local SEO scene.
Our industry is constantly changing, and it’s a survival of the fittest out there. The ones who really know what they’re doing and the ones who can really provide results to their clients will remain.
2. What is the direction you’re taking as an SEO specialist to affect that?
Personally, I still think that there are so many things that I need to learn (and I have no plans of stopping to learn new things and in challenging myself to become a better SEO and business owner).
But right now, my focus is to continuously establish myself and our team in the international SEO scene, to make sure that our country will be in the best position in the years to come (not just an affordable option, but a country who should be known to offer world-class service from highly competent people).
3. What is your vision for the SEO industry in our country?
First is to truly earn to be one of the top 5 destinations for online marketing services (alongside US, UK, Australia, etc…). Because the more foreign companies are investing their marketing budget to Philippine-based SEO companies, the more we can help strengthen our country’s economy (and more job opportunities).
Second would be for local companies (small and big) to start accepting inbound marketing as a viable investment that can help them grow their businesses exponentially.
4. What is your favorite food?
There are three actually (not in particular order):
- Steamed crabs
This is certainly the best question in this list, haha!
5. What are some SEO tutorial sites/pages you would point out to when there’s a person who’s new to SEO?
I get that a lot. I usually point them to Moz’s Beginner’s guide to SEO – since it’s really the best one out there (and it’s free!). Even our new hires get to start with reading the entire guide on their first 3 days of work.
There are also other comprehensive resources that I’d highly recommend, such as:
- SEO Hacker School – which has helped many newbies learn SEO for the past couple of years now
- Brian Dean’s SEO that Works – which I personally reviewed late last month
6. What is the toughest linkbuilding strategy you’ve ever tried to go through?
A LOT! I’ve tested so many link building tactics/strategies for the past 3 years, so I’ve definitely been through a lot of frustrations and eureka moments.
But if I have to choose, the toughest one would be “link baiting”. It takes a lot of tests, research and implementations before you finally get the hang of it (especially when you’re working with clients from different industries/niches).
7. What are the things in your life that are keeping you busy these days?
Aside from my day-to-day work at Xight Interactive:
- I’m following this year’s NBA season games.
- Side projects (currently working on 3 new sites).
- Consulting (got 3 awesome clients that have been months with me now).
- Playing with my 2 kids (my son Seth, and our Jack Russell Terrier – Yuffie).
- Drinking with friends (3 – 4x a week, I think).
- Daydreaming, as always.
8. Let’s say there’s one teammate of yours that is not producing his/her expected output, how do you deal with it?
My leadership style is quite simple. I just lead by example – most of the time. I’m not that talkative, even in our office, and I guess my presence in the office and letting other members of our organization just see how busy I am working, is sometimes enough to influence them to do their best at work as well.
I’m the type of person who really loves having “Plan Bs” and Cs and Ds if necessary. So personally, I’m not that pressured when our guys don’t meet the expected output – although our managers do that part (giving them the pressure), but I believe my job is to inspire/challenge everyone to make use of their talent, exceed their current skills, and to be really excellent at what they do.
9. How do you train your people to conform to your SEO processes/strategies?
Our processes/strategies heavily rely on the basics. So we start with the basics, and aiming for everyone to really understand and master the basics of technical search optimization, marketing and entrepreneurship.
Luckily, our managers (and our director of search – Mark Acsay) are really good at teaching the basics, since it has been one of my weakest points (I only train our people for the advanced stuff).
10. Was there ever a time when you had a conflict with a teammate? How did you resolve it?
None so far, though with clients, a lot of times for sure.
It’s not about who’s right or wrong, as it always comes down to what’s best for the project/campaign. It’s important to understand what your purpose and goals are in the first place. If the conflict is irrelevant to these 2 and will only let the productivity suffer, then it’s not worth pursuing.
11. If given a million dollars to invest – would you put it in Xight interactive or invest it in another business? (Why?)
Definitely in Xight Interactive!
We’ve got a lot of plans for our company for the next few years, and our service-based business model will be just a part of our future plans.
Our company is already shifting towards a different direction – like starting our own web properties, scouting for local startups to partner up with (by trading in our marketing workforce for equity), including more firepower to our services (adding PPC, mobile app development, creatives, etc…) and many other online-based businesses.
So that funding can definitely help us scale our upcoming departments, which I believe are also worth millions in valuation.
12. What do you say about the SEO companies in our country who are underselling their services and are providing low-quality black-hat tactics to increase their client’s rankings?
I don’t really have anything to say to them. Not that I don’t care at all, since they are somehow pulling the chance of our country to be in the center of the international scene (which is not that impossible).
But the thing is, our country still has those who are really paving the way for our country to be noticed and be respected as well in the industry. We can’t really do anything, but to just win over them.
I’m winning with what we currently have, maybe if they realize how much we’ve grown over the years with the principles and mindsets we believe in since we started, they’ll finally accept it and join forces with us, right?
What we need to do is to prove that we can compete in the international level and be one of the best countries in doing it. If they can’t, then don’t (we’ll still be here trying). But if they will, we can certainly achieve that.
13. Would you happen to have a plan against it?
Yeah, keep on improving on what we’ve been doing for the past 2 years. Become the best and just challenge everyone else to become greater than us.
13 questions directed to the man who has put the Philippines on the radar of the world’s most renown SEO specialists. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading his thoughts as much as I did. I will be updating this entry once Jason finishes his set of questions to throw at me.