Explain what your business is/does?

Yo! Yo! SEO is an SEO consulting agency that helps businesses optimize their online marketing strategies with a focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and audience engagement. To break that down in simpler terms, we help businesses be found in Google and social media.

When did you start it?

The company launched mid-2009 as a rebranding of a previous company, Pixel Position.

Why did you start it?

I was previously focused more on pure SEO; however, the online marketing landscape was quickly changing to include more emphasis on quality content, engagement with audiences on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. Yo! Yo! SEO was birthed to do just that, shout out a Yo! Let me break it down for you:

Yo! — Listen
Listen to what people are saying, the questions they ask, and how your competition is engaging.

Yo! — Engage
Engage your audience on and off your site. Join conversations.

SEO — Optimize
Optimize and organize your website to meet your audience’s needs, creating content people want to share, talk about, and link to.

How did the recession affect you and your business?

It has resulted in more work than expected. Companies have had to cut budgets, and often their print advertising goes first. However, they have realized their need to be visible online. The result has been that we have had a consistent stream of clients and needs. Much of our work involves SEO audits to provide companies with insight into how they can optimize their websites. This saves them money in the long run and can help them get more leads and sales.

What do you like about your work?

The people. I get to work with a wide range of people and learn a lot about diverse industries. I get a chance to work my strengths and outsource my weaknesses. I’m able to work from home and collaborate with those who work with me remotely. I travel to meet with clients and to attend and speak at industry conferences. I’m networked with a number of incredibly smart people who challenge me regularly, and I’m constantly learning. I’m literally living my dream!

What are the challenges?

That constant learning part. Given that Google changes its algorithms >500 times a year on average, it’s tough to keep up with it all. In addition, search engines are not the only players. Keeping up with changes with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. is a challenge. How do I overcome that? I read a lot and stay connected and networked.

The challenges of running a business is the other aspect. Many days are long (very long), but it’s worth it.

How did your CSUMB education prepare you?

When I went back to school and entered the Information Technology & Communication Design program at CSUMB, my goal was to acquire skills that built upon my strengths – people, writing, and technology. I’m now working in Internet marketing that requires content writing with a focus on people and a need for backend technology and code. I also do a lot of training in my work. Having the opportunity to teach Web Design after I graduated and many of the skills learned studying Instructional Technology were invaluable.

I literally would not be able to do what I am doing today without the education and experience at CSUMB. I owe that to a number of people at CSUMB, such as Greg Pool, John Ittelson, Marsha Moroh, and many more!

Do you have any advice for others who may be considering starting a business?

This is my 4th company I’ve operated, and I’ve experienced some bumps and bruises along the way. There’s a lot that one needs to know and understand. My degree in Business Administration helped tremendously, because you need to understand a lot about contracts and law. Understanding the legalities is one good place to start. Overall, however, the following would be my top 5 recommendations:

  1. Focus on something about which you are passionate. It needs to be something that you would do late at night when no one is watching or prompting you to do. You must love it!
  2. Make sure there is a market for your service or product. Research your audience and the competition.
  3. If you do not already have good writing skills, get them! You’d be surprised at how many business people lose credibility due to poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling. How you present yourself in emails, proposals, and other written communications makes a huge difference.
  4. Due your due diligence before partnering with anyone, and pay all your taxes.
  5. Secure your company’s identity online. Before you even establish your business name, make sure you can get your domain name and social profiles.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for asking, because I think there are two additional key ingredients to success that applies to all majors and fields.

Give more than you expect to receive.

Listen twice as much as you speak. We have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion! 

Lastly, feel free to connect with me online. Shout out a Yo! on Twitter: @lookadoo