We talked to Sean Si about how SEO Hacker is all about teaching and coaching people interested in learning SEO and perhaps exploring it as a career, and this is what he had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sean Si: Thank you for asking. My family and I are doing well this pandemic, even with all the restrictions around us. Thankfully, we are all safe and healthy. We chose to see the situation’s positivity rather than dwell on the negativity it brings in our lives. We see it as a situation that brings us closer together as a family since we’ve never spent more time at home together.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SEO Hacker?
Sean Si: I’m the founder and CEO of SEO Hacker, a premier SEO company in the Philippines. I’ve been in the digital marketing industry for a decade now, and I am also leadership and motivational speaker. I also own other companies; Work plays, Sigil, Qeryz, and Aquascape PH.
SEO Hacker was born through hard work and by the grace of God. Back when I was still studying in a university, I had a passion for writing and a love for God. So, I started a blog called God and You. After some time, I got frustrated because I wasn’t getting any traffic, and that’s when I discovered search engine optimization or SEO and applied it to my blog. After graduating, I started working for my dream company, but I also started another blog, SEO-Hacker.com, where I wrote about everything I have learned about SEO. During this time, I went to Hong Kong for a vacation. God worked His miracle on me, and somehow, I met someone whose uncle owned one of the biggest scuba gear suppliers in the Philippines, and after talking for some time, I convinced them that they needed my services.
The rest was history. From a mere blog about SEO and digital marketing, SEO Hacker evolved into a full-fledged SEO company. Ten years after, we are now a team of 50 hardworking millennials with a passion for SEO, helping our clients increase their online visibility and conversions.
How does SEO Hacker innovate?
Sean Si: Experimentation is one of our team’s core values. You see, everyone in the industry knows that Google has more than 200 rankings factors, but no one knows how to do SEO correctly. There is no one size fits all strategy that you can use on a website and guarantee that it will rank at the top spot in the search results. SEO involves a lot of testing and strategic thinking. Our team puts in a lot of time and effort in trying out different strategies and experiments, however big or small. We share all of this knowledge in our blog.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sean Si: When COVID-19 hit the country and lockdown was imposed everywhere, we had to quickly pivot to a work from home setup because our team’s health and safety is our main priority. We had to pause our services for a lot of our clients because they were also financially disabled. However, I’m proud that we survived without having to furlough any of our team members. We switched to a skeletal team system where only selected team members were required to work. For others who were not chosen, they had the option to do volunteer work. We switched to a pool system where the money we earned from clients who pushed through with our services were divided equally into the skeletal team members and volunteers regardless of their regular salary. It was a tough time, but everyone made it through.
Once the lockdown started to ease in the country, we started getting leads once again because companies realized that they need to improve their online presence now more than ever. We are now getting back on our feet, and we are stronger than we were. More importantly, we invested heavily in training our team members to become better leaders even before the pandemic. It played a massive role in managing during the pandemic because our team members rose to the occasion.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sean Si: In the first months of the pandemic, the other company executives and I decided not to receive any income from the company to keep all of our team members and not let go of everyone. We understand that sacrifices were needed if we want to get through the pandemic alive and well.
Being a leadership speaker myself, I know how important leadership is but this pandemic gave me more appreciation for leadership. If not for having the right leaders at the time, chaos would have taken over the company. Who knows what could have happened. But because we have invested heavily in training team members and raising leaders, we felt at ease having everyone working remotely during a time of uncertainty.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and SEO Hacker in the future?
Sean Si: I reduce stress and anxiety by keeping emotions away from my work and decisions. This helps me think logically rather than emotionally, leading to bad decisions, resulting in more stress and anxiety. I also make sure to have time for myself and my family after a whole day of working. But the most important thing of all is my relationship with God.
I am very optimistic about my future and the company’s future. Digital Marketing is more significant than ever, and it will only get bigger from here as businesses are starting to invest more in their online marketing. I think we are in a perfect position, and we will be successful in moving forward.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sean Si: There are many SEO agencies in the Philippines, but we don’t consider everyone our competitors. We cater to medium to large enterprises in the company. SEO is an ever-changing game. Strategies that may work five years ago may not be working at all today. We are focused on staying at the forefront of SEO in the country by continuously experimenting with new strategies and keeping ourselves updated on the latest updates by Google and other search engines. Most importantly, we are staying with our principle of doing only white hat SEO (ethical) and not manipulative practices that could put our clients at risk.
Your final thoughts?
Sean Si: COVID-19 has pushed all of our backs against a wall, but we should not let this situation keep us cornered. We may have lost something, but you will find out that there is something to be gained amidst this chaos if you keep searching. An organization’s potential is only as high as its leader’s cap. When everyone is experiencing hardships, a leader must stay strong and continue to grow so that he/she could lead the whole team to success.
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