Hey folks! I am glad to have got the chance to talk to Mr. Vinay Katiyar who is a well-known blogger, entrepreneur, an SEO Expert and a well-known name in the digital marketing domain. Vinay has been blogging and doing SEO for a number of websites for more than 5 years and is running his own boutique SEO agency Redirekt.co from his hometown (Of course, mine too), Kanpur.
Before heading further, please let us know a bit about you.
At the core, I’m a Search Marketer who happens to be good at understanding consumer behavior. Started back in 2013 with Blogger.com, did it part-time for two and a half years, dropped out of college twice and got full-time into blogging & SEO in December 2015.
Started with niche marketing, made good money with Adsense & flipping websites so got full-time in building, scaling and flipping of digital assets.
In late 2016, I found out some people are trying to help aspiring people make money, always wanted to give back to the community so started a community w/ some online friends named Bloggers World (currently, Earning Labs) and helped aspiring bloggers get into digital space by organizing free webinars on YouTube.
Helped thousands of people make a living online w/ little to no investment.
Currently, I manage an SEO Agency – Redirekt, consult SMBs on how to grow their business and host a podcast – The #AskMrVin Show.
Just a quick flashback to your initial blogging days when you used to be a complete newbie, what was your motive to enter into Blogging? Please describe the starting phase of your career.
I was always curious about what one could achieve w/ computers and wanted to make my own website and share whatever I had learned from the internet over the years. Learned from a school friend about something called blogger where you can make websites for free and you can make money as well.
I struggled in the early days as I didn’t know anyone to ask for help, nor did I know what to search for on Google as there weren’t many good blogs and tutorials in 2013.
Later that year, I found a Facebook group – Bagics where I met some great bloggers (Swadhin Agarwal, Suprabhat Mondal & Priya Madhavi) and that’s when my real blogging journey started.
How did you enter into digital marketing and what do you think is the best thing ever happened in your professional career?
As I mentioned above, I was always fascinated by the computer and what we can achieve with it. In 2010, I used the internet for the first time and fell in love with it. I started feeding my curiosity by exploring the internet when Dad got us a dial-up modem in 2013.
Learned from a friend about blogger and how you can use it to build websites and make money.
In 2013, I created my first blogspot blog, Tech Tricky Tips where I used to share news & tricks around Facebook, Windows, and everything digital. It didn’t get any traction and as I was enjoying the process I didn’t care about traffic or money either.
Later Bagics and it’s members helped me through my early phases of blogging and I never looked back.
In 2017, I hosted my first webinar on Earning Labs where I shared about making money through niche marketing w/ little to money for newbies.
As the majority of our audience were newbies, it went viral among them and helped thousands of people make their first earning off the internet. I still receive messages from people about how I helped them turn their life around w/ that webinar.
I believe it will always be the best achievement in my career to help people change their lives.
What is your role in your current organization (Redirekt)? What is your day-to-day work routine? What is something that you guys at Redirekt do that best?
On paper, I’m the CEO at Redirekt. However, after failing and closing the business twice, I’ve recently restarted the operations at Redirekt.
As a bootstrapped startup in the early stages, I act as a director of business development, strategy, and operations in the company. Majority of my time is spent on understanding client needs and aligning our SEO campaigns w/ respect to that.
While we offer complete search marketing services, content marketing, and SEO is our strong suit. As we’re always experimenting w/ new strategies and looking for fresh ideas and methods to grow websites, we use that data from in-house testing to help our clients increase top-line revenue w/ better ROI.
What do you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone?
I believe when you do something you love, you don’t need to push yourself. It is when you start doing the same thing to impress others you get in the comfort zone as you don’t enjoy it anymore and need pushing.
You need to start w/ shutting out any external noise that is affecting your behavior and taste different things and industries because unless you do so, you wouldn’t be able to figure out what you truly love.
And, the most important things you can’t win without are work ethic and discipline. If you don’t have these two things, you won’t succeed in the long run no matter how talented you are.
Do you think there is something that newbies don’t know about product marketing? If so, what is it?
Yes! I got an important one. The majority of the people are trying to market their product w/ their own self-interest in mind instead of actually offering their customers value due to which they directly go for the hard-sell without even understanding and nurturing their audience.
Another big issue is that they don’t focus on understanding the user and their intent. And, when you don’t know what exactly the other person might be looking for, you end up offering the wrong value proposition to the user.
It’s like going to a funeral w/ a marriage gift.
How important is SEO not only to be seen but also to build a brand?
I believe SEO plays an important role in building a brand but we shouldn’t be naive to solely depend on it and be practical about where the attention of your target audience is, be it Facebook, Snapchat or TikTok.
So, when it comes to brand building and exposure I’m definitely using the current organically underpriced platforms like LinkedIn & TikTok to get in front of more eyeballs and using the matured algorithm of Instagram & Facebook to retarget them further into watching specific content catered for them.
But, I’m making sure that I show up at the top when someone searches for me or one of my companies after watching my videos. So, for brand building search and social will go hand in hand.
In 2020, we have seen multiple search algorithm updates by Google, one after another. How did you actually prepare your websites for any new update? Did any of your websites were affected? How did you recover?
When you work in the SEO industry for 7 years, you understand that Google is making small changes in their algorithm everyday. People only get to know about the ones they actually announce publicly.
At Redirekt, our primary focus is understanding the user intent and delivering on what they need. Everything else comes later. If you’re into SEO, you need to understand that the visitors coming to your website are Google’s users first and you need to treat them w/ same respect.
We first focus on what our user is looking for and get it produced in either text, audio or video format and then we try to make it easy to consume for our website visitors. It means no misleading titles, good loading speed, clean UI and a lot more.
And, when all that is said and done, we focus on promoting that content through SEO by pushing the rankings w/ relevant links on various websites to #1 position. We need to realize that SEO is a marketing channel and unless you don’t have a great product, you can’t sell shit.
We haven’t got any of our money sites affected in the last 24 months so I guess I’m not the right person to make a comment on that.
What according to you is the safest way to build high-quality backlinks for a website?
Even if you’re making a single link for your website, you’re violating Google’s guidelines and hence stop thinking about the safety of links.
You should be more focused on building topical relevant links and should be aiming to acquire high-quality relevant links naturally in the long term w/ comprehensive content that caters to the real problems of your user and not what you think the user wants.
One of the methods that seem to drive easy links w/ high ROI is broken link building. You should definitely give it a try.
We are talking about SEO, how can we miss talking about content?
As I mentioned above, we need to SEO for what it is i.e. Marketing channel. And, if you don’t have a user-centric content or product to support it, you won’t win in the long game.
The essence of any marketing strategy is in understanding what your target user needs and offering them the same through any marketing channel while aligning the value w/ your brand.
So, if your user is looking for one-line solutions, offer that to them up front. You can always go deep on the information later but your focus should be offering what your user needs at the top.
Apart from their professional skills, what would you look for in the people you hire?
This is something I learned the hard way with trial & error and by listening to GaryVee’s advice. When I started Redirekt, like any other new employer I was looking for fancy and cheap labor w/ decent skills.
While many of them were amazing, some turned out to create a toxic work culture.
Currently, I believe you should be focused on building the work culture in your company. And, to achieve that you need to hire people w/ decent skill sets but a practical positive attitude and who enjoys what they do.
As Gary says, “Hiring is guessing; firing is knowing” and you should always be prepared to fire people who hurt the work culture of the company. It’s non-negotiable.
What is the biggest struggle for a new digital marketing agency? For people who fail to actually set up a digital marketing agency, what is your best advice?
As someone who has experience of going through this all myself and failing miserably in the beginning, I’ve learned a couple of things I would share.
1. One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is to start an agency with no experience in the client business. Start without closing a few businesses and catering to their needs as a freelancer first and then dive into the agency world.
As a client business owner, you always have to be doing business development. Unlike other businesses, there’s no certainty of client retention as there are a lot of factors.
So, always be on the lookout for new business.
2. Build processes before you hire your first employee. The majority of new agency owners don’t understand the importance of processes and systems. They just dive right in and start hiring people and then have no idea whatsoever to use their workforce effectively.
And, this is where working and understanding the client business as a freelancer at a small level will help you. You will have to handle all the work yourself and understand the different parts involved in a successful marketing campaign.
Now, you can use this experience to decide your team and building processes for each of the team members which you can just send them over an email or discuss the call. It allows them to get comfortable without their work and they perform better and effectively.
3. Always be open to more hiring. Unlike tech and Saas businesses, you can’t scale an agency without tools and automation. You need a real human workforce to scale a client business.
And, hence you should always be looking out for more talent to hire. If you’re working on scaling your business, you should be hiring and firing at least 10-20 people every month.
4. Don’t be romantic about your decisions. Many new (and, even old) agency owners will make a decision which turns out to be a wrong one in the long term but they won’t accept & fix it because it makes them look bad.
And, when such practices keep happening over a period of time, the business suffers.
5. You must be ready to fire people. I will admit that looking a person in the eye and firing them is one of the hardest jobs when it comes to running a business. But, if you think you made a wrong hire, be open to fire them.
As I mentioned above, “Hiring is guessing, firing is knowing.”
6. Don’t try to sell the unsellable. One of the biggest mistakes we make as a business person is spending too much time convincing prospects to work with us. And, when you do that you’re wasting a lot of your time.
Instead of convincing people, be clear about how you can help them at what cost. Or, ask them if they have a number of expectations in mind. If you can meet their number, close the deal or simply move on to the next prospect.
You can bring more business by talking to more people and having a low closing rate than spending time convincing a client who is not interested in working with you.
7. Work culture over skills. Nothing should be more important than maintaining a positive work culture. If you’re a team member who is exceptional at his skills but has a negative effect on other team members, be open to fire them.
While he may be able to match the work of five people alone, he will demotivate your other 50 team members from reaching their full potential.
8. Communicate more; be it your team members or the clients, if you don’t set the right expectations everything will fall apart.
Humans are social animals and if you don’t communicate with them to share what you expect from them and learn what motivates them or makes them happy, they will not reach their full potential and might even feel unappreciated.
9. Stop micromanaging. While it disturbs the flow of your team, it also gives them the impression that you don’t trust them. Provide your team and aircover and a place to grow and reach their full potential.
You would be surprised by their motivation towards the work.
I guess if you manage to follow these few things, you will be able to start and grow a client business agency successfully.
Apart from digital marketing, name something that you’re good at. (For example, 8 ball pool or cricket.)
I was great at playing basketball and used to represent my team at the regional level. I had to leave after school due to certain reasons but now I’m planning to get back to the game.
How can someone reading this blog post connect with you? (social media links please)
You can find me on every social media platform. Here are the links:
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VinayKrKatiyar
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vinaykrkatiyar/
- TikTok – https://www.tiktok.com/@vinaykrkatiyar
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/vinaykrkatiyar/
- YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/vinaykrkatiyar
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/VinayKrKatiyar
- Personal Website – https://vinaykatiyar.com/
What is your feedback on my blog (vashishthakapoor.com)? What is the scope of improvements?
You’re doing good and I know the amount of effort you put to bring people value. However, I believe you need to niche down a bit and shift all your focus on the niche where you want to build your brand.
Another mistake someone would make is to follow arbitrary metrics like DA & DR and your efforts are pointed towards improving that instead of what actually matters to Google. So, I would recommend you shift your focus from anything like that and start working on more in-depth content and links.
Thanks for your time Vinay. I really appreciate it.