We talked to Matt Kirkman, founder of Grapefruit Digital SEO, about Search Engine Optimization and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Matt Kirkman: Thankfully, we’re all doing good.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Grapefruit Digital SEO.
Matt Kirkman: My background was in corporate recruitment before moving into marketing. After being made redundant from a global marketing organization I decided to strike out on my own and started Grapefruit Marketing – a web design and build agency for small businesses. After realizing that there were plenty of platforms to support businesses setting up good quality websites, and the aspect of their marketing most small companies struggled with was the SEO that helped people find their sites, we transitioned 100% into Search Engine Optimization and the Grapefruit Digital SEO Agency was formed.
How does Grapefruit Digital SEO innovate?
Matt Kirkman: I’d say we’re always looking to innovate on two key fronts, Firstly, in the testing and development of new approaches to optimizing sites for better performance in the search engines, a crucial aspect of our agency because of the constant changes that can occur with search engines like Google. Secondly, in developing our marketing funnel to allow us to reach out to more businesses to highlight what we do and what it could offer them.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Matt Kirkman: There has been some impact, particularly where we had clients who were directly affected by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions, e.g. hospitality clients. However, because of the way we recruit clients, by helping them understand the investment required for a successful SEO project and the long-term nature of the work involved in getting it right, by being flexible in our approach and adjusting budgets accordingly, most have stuck with us so they can maintain or even develop their standing in the search results for when we start coming out the other side.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Matt Kirkman: We’re lucky in that we are quite a lean business – a more specialist agency with a small team that works with a range of expert freelancers – so we’ve been spared some of the tough decisions that bigger organizations have been faced with. At the same time, we realize that this pandemic has been hard for a lot of the freelancers we work with, so we’ve also tried to continue working with them as much as we can and now we are starting to bring new clients on board we’re in a good position to continuing scaling the business.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Matt Kirkman: We’ve always tried to keep ‘close’ to our clients – the nature of the industry means there can be a lot of confusion, even distrust, about SEO. We’ve found the best way to manage this is to be transparent about what we do for our clients and keep them updated on this and how it’s going. We’ve probably focused a little more on this over the last few months, but I’m pleased that we’ve always had good customer relationship management, although the pandemic may have helped us formalize the processes for this a little better. We started using ClickUp for the majority of our task management as the Pandemic started and have grown to rely on this for pretty much every aspect of the business.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Matt Kirkman: We have benefited from some Government support, but as we were lucky enough to maintain most of our client relationships, we were never in any danger of serious issues with the business finances, it was more about keeping our long term plans on track. We have even been able to utilize a lot of the financial support to help with our plans for growing the agency in 2021.
Your final thoughts?
Matt Kirkman: Things have changed, and we’ve also learned some lessons – we are now focused on recruiting a more diverse range of clients to spread the risk of specific sectors being impacted significantly in the future. However, we are also focused on the positives for our agency and the industry as a whole. The pandemic has caused more businesses to focus on their online offerings, which creates new opportunities for agencies like ours that can give these companies the support and expertise they need to grow their online presence and make a success of it.