SEOblog Interview: New York City Area SEO Expert Michael Melen from SmartSites | SEOblog.com

We’re excited to have interviewed New York City area SEO Expert Michael Melen from SmartSites for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series!

SmartSites is one of SEOblog’s Top SEO companies in New York City.

Michael Melen is the CO-CEO & COO of SmartSites and has been involved in digital media and website development since high school. He spent some time working for Laws.com & Hospital.com and brings an enormous amount of experience in the SEO world.

What would you say is unique and/or challenging about the current SEO industry?

“The state of SEO has drastically improved since I first started over 10 years ago. Current SEO is more sustainable and produces predictable results. 

Here’s just three examples of why it’s better now than before:

2010 2020 Why Now Is Better
Blackhat wins 10 times out of 10 Blackhat (mostly) doesn’t work In 2010, you had to choose between an effective strategy and a risky one. Oftentimes, businesses would de-risk by creating multiple similar sites to diversify the questionable tactics. I am VERY happy that this is behind us. Now the winning strategy is also the sustainable one.
Adding-Keywords-Everywhere-Works.com Google reads content like users In 2010, a writer had to ignore all their writing instincts to write for Google. Putting keywords, and more keywords, and more keywords, was more important than writing useful content. While keywords are no less important now, Google’s processing of content is now more aligned with what’s best for the user.
Black text on black background User experience is very important There was a period of time where the most effective strategy was listing hundreds of keywords on a page. And for aesthetics, website owners would make this list 1px font and use the same color as the page background. Luckily – this didn’t work for long. The user’s experience is vital for rankings.

The above is not a comprehensive list, rather it’s a few of many. SEO is a much more predictable, cleaner, and increasingly essential service for all small businesses. I don’t see that trend stopping anytime soon.”

How does your agency stand out in a crowded market with many identical firms?

“We pay more attention to our customers than we do our competition. We have built and continue to improve a service that predictably produces ROI for our clients. In most cases, better than any other marketing channel that they have used in the past or use currently. Our prices haven’t increased for over 10 years, while our value delivered has gone up drastically. This is where I focus lies and where we’ve been succeeding.”

Can you share a success story from a local SEO campaign centered around your area? Include any stats and highlights if possible!

“Why list just one? Here’s 35 local SEO success stories:

What is the best advice you ever received in business?

“Focus on the customer.”

What do you think is the most important quality that makes an agency truly great?

“An agency is people. We do not produce a product. We do not ship any goods. The most important quality is the people. In addition to checking an agency’s client reviews, check their employee reviews (glassdoor, indeed). Through my tenure, I’ve seen many SEO agencies come-and-go. You start to notice a pattern: Poor employee reviews is followed by poor customer reviews which is followed by downsizing or shut down. The same works in reverse as well.”

Any predictions for the future of SEO?

“I do not foresee any radical changes to SEO, but there will be a much faster pace of micro-trends. Search engines do a great job of delivering what the user wants. As user preferences change, so will search results.

For example: say TikTok becomes increasingly mainstream and users start to prefer TikTok-style videos on websites. It takes just a few businesses to try this and blog about the results (on SEOBlog.com, of course) and soon enough, TikTok videos will be popping up all over websites. 

I’m not saying this exact scenario will happen – but we will see the internet, and search engines, adapting quickly to users.”

What is your reaction when you hear that “SEO is dying”?

“I don’t hear this anymore. I think when I did – it was when Google started reserving more and more ‘real estate’ to its Paid Ads. This progression has stopped and users are increasingly aware of Paid Ads vs. Organic; both are important and very much alive.”

What do you think is the most important contributor of keeping clients happy?

“We sell marketing. At the end, it has to produce results. We can do everything else right but if a client invests $50k and gets back $5k, there’s no coming back from that. The service has to work.”

Interested in being considered as an SEOblog “Featured SEO Expert”? Reach out to our team at [email protected]! We’d love to hear from you and give you a high-traffic platform to share your SEO agency’s story and insights.

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