Interview with Bharati Ahuja from WebPro Technologies
I had an opportunity to catch up with Bharati and to pick her ideas about SEO and internet marketing, I have known Bharati now for nearly two years, who has been more than just a friend and colleague, more of a mentor, a helping hand, and a guide for my online business. Bharati also is head of SEO at my web solutions company.
Bharati for those that don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself, your history, and how you came into the online industry.
I started my career teaching and working on FORTRAN , COBOL and BASIC computer languages way back in 1987 in Mumbai. I had to shift to Delhi after marriage in 1989 where I joined NIIT as the Senior Student Advisor. My husband and me were blessed with our first son in 1990 and I decided to give full time to my family for a few years. We were blessed with our second son in 1993 and in the mean time my husband started his business venture in Ahmedabad so we all shifted to Ahmedabad. In 1997 I joined TULEC (Tata Infotech Ltd. Venture) as a Centre Manager.
When I started working after nearly 8 years I realised that a 9 to 5 job was not meant for me because I wanted to work at my pace and I wanted a certain freedom for taking decisions and initiatives and more important the flexibility of timings to balance home and work. So, in 1999 took up the franchise of Datapro Information Technology, which was an education centre for Computer Training. In early 2000 we ran courses on HTML, Photoshop, JAVA,etc. But due to some reasons the Datapro people had to wind up their business and we decided to start business in the name of WebPro Technologies where we focused on building websites and offered other web solutions.
The website owners whose websites we had built in 2000 wanted to see their sites ranking in altavista.com and I started to work on that myself and have never looked back since then. SEO has become the prime service, passion and a purpose for WebPro Technologies since then.
In 2007 we pioneered in conducting SEO Training Workshops at Ahmedabad Management Association and till date we conduct these workshops regularly.
As an SEO teacher and Consultant, what is one advice you would give to website owners looking to do SEO on their site.
Let your website and your overall web presence reflect the true image of your business and focus on the content related to your products, mission and vision. Every footprint of your web presence should convey something about your business, be it social media sites, forums, blogs or even your email signature.
You pick the clients that you work with very carefully, what’s the secret behind that?
SEO services require a basic approach from the client as the results accrue over a period of time and we require a lot of cooperation from the client too.
Hence, I discuss the major aspects of the project with the client and only when there is a mutual agreement we go ahead with the project. We educate the client on many SEO aspects and see to it that even if we discontinue the project for some reason the client does not lose the long term benefits of all the SEO effort that we have put in because we are very open about whatever changes we make on the site on page and off page.
We only take up annual contracts and throughout the year we communicate with the client on a regular basis. We make it very clear at the very beginning that our focus is on qualitative over all web presence and thereby high rankings and not vice-versa.
What is the future of SEO in 2012 and years to come?
I think it is quite bright but it is getting more technical and the focus is on the uniqueness of what your website and your web presence offers in terms of general content, product information, market reviews, comments, etc.
As we all know that Google dominates the search scene today so the priority undoubtedly is Google. Google has made many updates and changes in the search algorithm in 2011. All these changes are aiming at high quality search results for all the search options. The challenge for every website owner is to keep their websites updated with quality content catering to all search options. SEO is a service which every website owner will require constantly as SEO is evolving all the time hence every website needs the SEO attention to adapt the site to these changes and keep pace with this evolution. Companies will need to have an in-house SEO team or outsource it some SEO agency but they cannot ignore SEO.
Tell us more about Social Media and Search Results?
The Integration of social media and search results will ensure more genuineness as you cannot manipulate public opinion all the time. SEO is what you say about your company social media is what others say about your company. When both these messages are in sync credibility is established. Hence the authority, credibility, WOM and an overall presence is the demand of the day for true SEO, which in the long run will ensure natural and quality inbound links on its own.
The main goal of the PageRank technology was to check how many people vouch for certain page content but with link spam it got negated. Now with social media signals and focus on quality content via the Panda Update this will surely be taken care off to a great extent. IMHO This integration will help influence the trust and authority factor too.
Many Companies are doing Social Media, and creating Facebook Pages, Twitter Profiles, and Google Business Pages, but are not fully benefiting, what advice would you give to them?
Every online marketer today is harping on the social media mantra but everyone is still experimenting with this media for getting the outreach, visibility and that extra mileage which is possible from this marketing platform but there is no sure shot formula to achieve these objectives.
Hence, it is highly important to focus on the purpose of using the social media sites and have a strategic plan else it is very easy for your voice to go unheard despite putting in so much time, effort and resources.
There is a difference between social media optimization and social media marketing. Once a strategy is developed and an objective is set for the social media presence then it is easier to measure and monitor results.
Social Media Marketing is usually creating content and distributing content by sharing it on the social network for maximum out reach. It is usually in the form of a corporate message for its targeted audience which if effective gets shared further just like an advertisement. Its like pushing the message across to more and more people.
Whereas in Social Media Optimization is sharing the content usually in the form of a link so that it gets further shared and people come back to the site so it pulls the targeted visitors to your site via the social media platform.
The selection of the social media platform entirely depends on this purpose.
What’s the mistake that you have made in the online industry, and how you have learnt from them?
While working in the online industry especially in the search industry where there is something new to learn practically every day and you feel like being online (24×7) one tends to lose the balance between work and home and that is something which is not rewarding in the long run.
We do not realize this initially but it gradually affects the space at home, there are health issues, fatigue and stress in the long run.
I do go off balance when there are challenging projects or some major updates in the search algorithm but try to get back to the optimum balance again.
What makes you worry when you see other SEO’s doing things black hat?
Evil has always co-existed with goodness since time immemorial but I take that also positively because it is this black hat and the spam on the web that forces Google to be on its toes to improve its algorithm all the time and to combat it which is definitely making the web a better place.
For all the efforts and hard work the black hatters put in, Google has to work harder to negate all that which is helping Google improve all the time.
Many times website owners ignore local search in aim to capture the bigger fish, what’s your opinion on Local Search Results.
The SEO plan needs to prioritize on what market or which geo location you are targeting keeping in mind the kind of products and services you offer. Local or global it all depends on your marketing strategies and priorities.
There’s more to SEO than just ranking in Search Results, as an advice to a business owner, what should be their key focuses while running an SEO campaign.
SEO is about the improvement of overall quality issues of the site, quality footprints across the web for natural links and there by achieve high ranking as an offshoot.
- Have great content on your site
- Have a social media presence
- Engage and interact on social media establishing an individual and business persona
- Have a blog with a focus on your main line of business which you keep on updating regularly
- Participate in conversations of your topical communities
- Take guest blogging seriously
- Do not ignore the Local Search
- Go mobile
Wasim, a very special thanks for the kind words in the introduction. It truly has been a pleasure being associated with Alrayes Web Solutions since 2 years. The Alrayes team works with dedication, patience and positivity on all the projects they undertake. They keep on working on new technologies and have also created their very own Alrayes CMS which according to me has some great in built ecommerce features.
Connect with Bharati