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Behind the 9-Figure Empire: Neil Patel's Secret to SEO Success

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is one of those names that most people within the SEO industry instantly recognise due to his constant dedication to push his personal brand forward and share his knowledge.

Neil started out in the industry back in 2001 where he launched an online business and paid an agency to help him to drive revenue but got no results, so he set about learning how to do it himself.

Over the years, Neil (through his 9-figure agency, NP Digital - formally Neil Patel Digital) has worked with some amazing top brands (Amazon, Microsoft, Airbnb, Google, Thomson Reuters, Viacom, NBC, Intuit, Zappos, American Greetings, General Motors, and SalesForce, just to name a few) to help them grow their marketing.

Neil has been credited with many awards over the years, including New York Times bestselling author, top 100 entrepreneur under 30 by Obama, and top 10 marketer by Forbes.

Neil says that consistency is the key to growing a personal or business brand, and his own marketing blog is testament to that, generating over 4 million visitors per month.

Neil has built up his own Marketing School podcast that now has an audience of over 1 million listens per month and his marketing YouTube channel has 1.13m subscribers.

Neil has spoken at over 310 conferences and events around the world and has a real passion for sharing his knowledge with others.

In this interview, you will get to see the real Neil Patel and why he does what he does.

The Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast with Neil Patel

Watch the interview

(click the 'cc' icon to view subtitles)

Listen to the podcast

(45 minutes long)

The unscripted questions Mark A Preston asked Neil Patel

  • When did you get into the SEO and digital marketing industry Neil, and when was that?

  • What is it about SEO that excites you?

  • What size of businesses do you work with?

  • What was the thing you did that really helped to accelerate your personal brand?

  • If somebody is starting to push their personal brand, how long of consistent exposure would it take before they start to get well known?

  • Do quick wins in SEO exist?

  • What would you say is the key to marketing?

  • Has publishing your videos on a constant basis on multiple social platforms helped your personal brand?

  • You are constantly recording new videos, where do you get your inspiration from?

  • With so much content being created around your personal brand, how big is your your team who help you with video content production?

  • How much time do you dedicate on building up your personal brand?

  • What can smaller business do themselves to push their marketing forward?

  • What receives the biggest impact, writing pieces on top publications or pushing video content?

  • What does your day to day look like?

  • What was the reason behind you re-branding your agency from Neil Patel Digital to NP Digital?

  • How big of an agency is NP Digital?

  • How has your personal brand directly impacted the growth of your agency?

  • What is important to Fortune 100 companies when selecting an agency to work with?

  • How much a part are your team in helping to grow your agency?

  • How much pre-sales time and money do you have to put in to be in a position to be able to present your pitch to these very large companies?

  • Do you need solid financial backing before considering pitching to the Fortune 100 companies?

  • As NP Digital are in many Countries and employ 700 to 800 people, how involved are you in the running of your agency?

  • What other business entities do you focus your time on besides building your agency?

  • What does the personal journey of Neil Patel look like moving forward in the future?

  • What is your why, Neil?

  • How do you balance work and family life?

  • Is NP Digital office based, virtual, or a mix of both?

  • In your personal opinion, what do the people who work within the SEO industry need to focus on more?

  • If you had the power to change something within the SEO industry, what would that be?

  • What charities or things are you involved in to help people who need help?

  • Do you find it to be a good feeling when you are able to help others?

  • How important is having a degree to secure a good job within the marketing industry?

  • Why do a lot of marketing job descriptions state 'a degree is a requirement'?

  • What is really important to secure a great job within the SEO or wider digital marketing industry?

  • What does someone have to do in order to secure a top SEO related job at large corporate brand?

  • For individuals new to the industry, what are the various ways they can gain hands-on experience to secure a an SEO or marketing job?

  • I see a lot of negativity within the SEO community towards your personal brand, how do you handle that?

  • Do you think it is important to understand why people think in a negative way towards your personal brand (you)?

  • What if the negative perception of your personal brand is false, don't you want to try and turn that negativity into positivity?

  • What are your hobbies and passion outside work?

  • How many hours per week do you work to build your agency up?

  • For someone who is thinking of scaling their own digital marketing agency, what is important?

  • Should an agency focus in one a key skill, like technical SEO, or be an all-rounder agency if they want to scale?

  • What can the smaller SEO agencies be doing to generate more clients?

  • What industry tools do you own?

  • As an agency dedicated to servicing your clients, why did you decide to go into the tools market?

  • What are your future plans for UberSuggest?

  • What is your personal view on AI and ChatGPT being a content generator replacement for human written content?

  • How can marketers use the power of AI to do their jobs better?

  • What do you see the future of SEO being like?

  • Will the growth of AI and automation have a negative impact on the future of jobs within the SEO industry?

  • What should SEOs and marketers be doing in order to future-proof their long term careers?

  • Are there any magic bullets within SEO and marketing?

  • For all the SEOs who are in the manipulation mindset, would they actually secure better results if they did things properly in the first place?

  • Do you consider SEO manipulation as being lazy?

  • If a company director comes to you and says, we need rapid organic results, what would you do and say?

  • What can SEOs do to get their pages and content indexed?

  • What are the important factors in running a large scale agency like NP Digital?

  • With having over 700 employees within NP Digital, how are the various teams structured?

  • How important is it for agencies to win awards?

  • You mentioned that hiring really good people that has impacted your agency growth, what should agencies then do if they just cannot afford to pay top salaries to get the best talent?

  • Is your personal brand 'Neil Patel' separated from your agency brand 'NP Digital', or do you mix them together?

  • How important is brand awareness when it comes to SEO?

  • Is it a lot easier to get a page ranked high if the site has large scale brand awareness?

  • Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

  • Is there anything that you want people to reach out to you about?

The unscripted conversation between Mark A Preston and Neil Patel

Mark A Preston: Welcome to the unscripted SEO interview. I'm your host, Mark A Preston. And today we have a very special guest with us, none other than Neil Patel, who most of you will probably know. I'm not going to give a big massive introduction because I want to get to know the real Neil Patel. Hi, Neil.

Neil Patel: Hey, thanks for having me.

Mark A Preston: That's fantastic for you to join us today, right! Just to give the audience a bit of an overview of who Neil Patel is. So how did you get into the industry and when was that?

Neil Patel: Yeah, so it's probably around 2001. So, a little bit more than 20 years ago, technically 22 years ago. And I started a job board, couldn't get any traffic, visitors paid a marketing firm, didn't produce results. Had to learn on my own and I started off with SEO back then, keep in mind, Facebook and a lot of those platforms did not exist. So, you do things like paid ads, banners, CPC ads, you know like on Google Pay per click, or Overture, which is Yahoo. And SEO was another big channel.

Mark A Preston: So what is it particularly about SEO that excites you?

Neil Patel: It's a great way for the little guy to get tons of traffic without having big budgets.

Mark A Preston: Well, you mentioned the little guy there. So, do you specialize in working with just big corporate companies, or is it you help the little guy as well?

Neil Patel: We work with medium businesses all the way to large corporations. We have some small businesses, but you know, typically most of our revenue does come from large corporations. What, I mean that, I love it because the little guy can get results. You can go use tools and learn a lot on your own and do SEO without having a big money investment, if you're willing to put in the time and energy yourself. A lot of other marketing firms don't exist or they exist, but they don't provide those kinds of results, without money, right? Some of the other marketing channels out there, you have to put in money to get results. SEO, organic social, there's only a few channels where you can really do well that really exists for the small guy that doesn't have any money.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Now, obviously, you have got a massive personal brand yourself, right? What was the thing that you did to really accelerated your own personal brand?

Neil Patel: There wasn't anything I did not try to build a personal brand. There wasn't one thing that I did. When you do something long enough, and I don't think my personal brand is that big, there are so many bigger personal brands than mine. But when you do something for, call it twenty plus years, and you try to do a decent job at it, you know hopefully you build some sort of brand. Whether it's personal, corporate, maybe a bit of both, but nothing, you're not going to become an overnight success. There's not one thing that builds a personal brand. It's a lot of little things that add up over time. From an outside perspective, they don't really see it that way, but that usually is the real case. It's a lot of little things done for a very long time and done consistently that build up a personal brand.

Mark A Preston: So, when you say a long time, if somebody starts off to build up their corporate brand or their personal brand, how long is it, when you do consistent things? Is it before you really start to get known?

Neil Patel: Three to five years, that's a conservative estimate. You know, somewhere in that time range, you'll start getting more well-known. Sounds like a long time. But most people are looking for that one year solution and it's very rare.

Mark A Preston: Right! So, yeah! I mean, a lot of people look for the quick wins in the industry. Do you think there's any do quick wins exist?

Neil Patel: Quick wins sometimes exists. It was, you know, when you say quick wins, a lot of people just get lucky. But here's a great example. So, everyone in the SEO industry is familiar with Chat GPT. It's a project from OpenAI. OpenAI was founded in 2015. Chat GPT did not just come out this month or last month, or in the last year. They've been working on the whole vision, whole product since 2015. It's not an overnight success. Sam Altman isn't an overnight success. Before this Y Combinator, he did a lot of other things. Before that, did a lot of angel investing. He's been entrepreneur for ages. The point I'm getting at is, everything worthwhile just takes time. Yes, sometimes people get lucky and things just blow up overnight, but it's extremely rare. That's like pulling a needle in a haystack.

Mark A Preston: So, you say, consistency is the key to anything in marketing?

Neil Patel: I think consistency and learning from what's happening because there's so many algorithms and changes, you got to experiment and what's happening in the depth.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. Now, I'm not sure how many videos you've done. It must be quite a lot, because, I mean social media is just flooded with all your videos. Do you think that being consistent in all platforms with all your various videos really helps?

Neil Patel: It does. You know, it drives good branding for corporate personal. It drives leads. I would always recommend it to people. You know what we do, there’s nothing magic at our agency, NP Digital, we are one of the fastest growing ad agencies, according to Ad Week. And a lot of it just comes down to consistency and doing something long enough. And what we're doing isn't rocket science. There's a lot of other people that can do the same thing, but they're just not willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears into it.

Mark A Preston: One of the conversation I have with business owners and individuals, well, okay, I get the consistency. What do I talk about? What do I do videos on? I mean, obviously, yourself. You've done thousands of videos. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Neil Patel: I get my inspiration from just reading and also talking to people and figuring out what pain points and issues they have. Great example of this. You can go on Google, type in any keywords within your industry and you'll also see “people also ask”. “People also ask “is what people are curious about. You can then go and start creating content around all those topics. Could be video, could be text based. It’s up to you.

Mark A Preston: Right! So, it's realistically just seeing what people want to know.

Neil Patel: Yes.

Mark A Preston: Yeah! Brilliant.

Neil Patel: That really is all about content creation. It all comes down to what do people want to know? If you create that, you'll do well. If you create content around what people don't care for, then it wouldn't matter.

Mark A Preston: So, do you have a big team beyond you, for creating content?

Neil Patel: Not a big team. One video person for all my short form. One video person that I see once a month for all my long form, even the short form, I see them once a month as well. Short form, I see them for a few hours a month. The long form, I see them for maybe like 3-4 hours a month. And two other people on the text based side. So, a small team, four or five, if I had a guess.

Mark A Preston: Right. So it's not a massive team, then.

Neil Patel: Yes, Correct.

Mark A Preston: Do you say your personal time, it takes two to three days a month or?

Neil Patel: So personal time to create content probably, If I had a guess, 24 hours a month, max, including podcasting and everything.

Mark A Preston: Alright! Okay, so it's a lot less than I actually thought.

Neil Patel: Yeah, that's a max. There are some months where it's much less than that.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. Okay. Now, obviously in the industry, and I'm talking the wider marketing industry, if businesses don't have the budget to employ an agency or a freelancer, what could those people do?

Neil Patel: Do it themselves. Look, you can bust out your phone and start recording and creating content and uploading it. The issue is people don't want to put in the time. It has nothing to do with hiring. That's why I said SEO is one of the only channels that really work for the small media business. Not because I need to pay my agency, but with SEO and Organic Social, you can do those without having to pay anyone money. You can put in the time yourself and learning. Just people aren't willing to do it, right? Yeah, you can learn paid advertising too, but you got to spend money on the paid ads. So that's tougher for a small business. The SEO and Organic Social is very doable for businesses of all sizes.

Mark A Preston: So, if somebody had to choose between going out and writing content pieces or doing videos, what would you say would create the biggest impact between both?

Neil Patel: People spend more time on videos than text-based content, at least I was reading some stats, a few days ago, but that was the latest stats that I read. I forgot what percentage of time, but it was videos dominated more than text based content. So I would tell people to focus on video first.

Mark A Preston: Okay! Now, just to get to know you as a person, right? What does your day-to-day look like?

Neil Patel: My day-to-day is a lot of phone calls, meetings, some content creation, answer emails, strategy stuff, working on client accounts. Typical normal day, spending time with kids, watching some TV like news. I watch BBC quite a bit.

Mark A Preston: Okay, now, you rebranded your agency from Neil Patel Digital to NP Digital.

Neil Patel: Yeah!

Mark A Preston: What was the reason behind that?

Neil Patel: We originally want to call it NP Digital. We couldn't get the domain name, and then eventually the person sold it.

Mark A Preston: As simple as that?

Neil Patel: Yeah, we want it from day one. We tried getting it, the guy said no. When the economy started going down a little bit, they hit us back up, saying, “Hey, do you still want to buy it?” Same price? And we said yes.

Mark A Preston: So with NP Digital, how big of an agency is it?

Neil Patel: We're between 700-800 employees. We're US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Australia, India, Singapore, Germany. We're about to have Portugal and Spain. When I'm saying these regions, we actually have, like, a managing director, someone leading up a specific region, but we have people in many different regions on top of that as well. But my guess is we'll probably be in over 20 countries with leaders in each of those countries by the end of 2023.

Mark A Preston: So how has your personal brand directly impacted the growth of your agency?

Neil Patel: It gave us an amazing start because it provided us leads. Believe it or not, majority of our revenue, 70-ish%, comes from employee referrals, client referrals, and just word of mouth.

Mark A Preston: Right. Okay. So literally,

Neil Patel: I think it's actually like 76%, and to be exact, comes from those three channels.

Mark A Preston: Right, now this is why I love doing videos like this, because perception was like, the majority of people go to your agency because of your name.

Neil Patel: No, you have to remember, when you are working with large companies, let's say you want to work with Fortune 100. They don't care about Neil Patel. They care about who are the people working on my account and what are their skill sets and what experience they have in my industry that's going to produce results.

Mark A Preston: So it's all about the team who work within the agency.

Neil Patel: Not just the team who works with an agency, but the team who is on their account. That's who they care about more than anything else.

Mark A Preston: Right, okay. So when you're working with these big companies, what sort of requirements do you have to put in? What sort of presales prep work do you have to put in? in order just to be at the table to pitch to these corporates?

Neil Patel: There's not an easy answer for that because these big corporations all have unique requirements, but you have to put in various based on their needs. A lot of times they send out an RP (request for a proposal). They tell you the requirements and then you either decide if you want to put it in the energy or not. You could end up sometimes spend $100,000 $200,000 to try to get a deal and you may not win it.

Mark A Preston: Wow! I was going to say. So you really need to have a solid base behind you and financial backing in order to really go after these bigger contracts to start with?

Neil Patel: Correct, yes. Or you can just put in your own time, right. For me, the reason we have those expenses because we have so much staff, so then we're paying for those hours. We don't (14.40 Not audible) it we wasted the money but I think it's always worth it.

Mark A Preston: Okay. So you say you're in all these various countries. How involved are you personally within the agency?

Neil Patel: Very involved. It's what I do full time.

Mark A Preston: Right. So is your own focus on building this agency up or do you have other entities you focus on? 

Neil Patel: No, you just focus on the agency.

Mark A Preston: Right.

Neil Patel: All my time.

Mark A Preston: All your time. And moving forward, what’s your personal journey looking like in the future?

Neil Patel: The same. I don't really see it changing focus all the time on growing the agency and try to become one of the biggest global ad agencies out there.

Mark A Preston: Well, sure. Why?

Neil Patel: I just love it. I'm having fun. I love it. It's just passionate about marketing has nothing to do with money or anything. That's just a goal, and I want to try to achieve it.

Mark A Preston: Right. So it really is because just above the work you're doing. Yeah! So, how important is obviously family? How does family fit into everything for you?

Neil Patel: Family fit in great. I'm at home. I work from home, and I see my kids often throughout the whole day, and I play with them and I read to them and all that kind of good stuff. So, yeah, I try to be there as a parent, all the major events and everything like that, and try to support my kids and whatever they decide to do in life and whatever makes them happy.

Mark A Preston: All right. So, when you say that you work from home, don't you see a need for you to be, like, in the office with the teams?

Neil Patel: Oh, we're virtual.

Mark A Preston: Oh, everything is virtual is it?

Neil Patel: Post COVID? We move virtual.

Mark A Preston: All right. Okay. That I wasn't aware of.

Neil Patel: Yeah. We still have offices. Barely anyone goes into them. But we're virtual.

Mark A Preston: Right. And do you find office space and via versus virtual is a good move.

Neil Patel: We like virtual. Both are fine. There's pros and cons to both. There's nothing wrong with either. It depends what a company wants. That's why we have a bit of both and people can either go into office or they can work from home. We don't force them with any specific requirement. We let them decide.

Mark A Preston: Okay! Now, moving on to SEO. Obviously, this is the SEO interview. What do you think is missing in the industry?

Neil Patel: You mean people focus on tactics? Not enough people are focusing enough on user experience and truly trying to delight them. I'll talk about user experience just from, like, a low time perspective. I'm talking about user experience from like, how do you just create amazing products, amazing services, amazing content, and just try to delight them? Some people do. I wouldn't say it's totally missing, but that's not the main focus. People like, “Oh, let me build more links. Let me optimize this element within my code to try to gain the system.” It's like, well, if you put the user first and do what's best for them in the long run, you should win. You should I put an asterisk around, “You should”.

Mark A Preston: If you could have the power to change something within the industry? What would it be?

Neil Patel: I don't know if I would change anything. I don't really see anything wrong with it. Been in it for a long time. People are friendly. It's nice. People try to learn more. It's a good industry.

Mark A Preston: Good. Well said. First time I've heard somebody say that.

Neil Patel: Yeah. Everyone has their own take, but I love the industry. It's done wonders for me and wonders for a lot of people. And when I first got into industry, people are really welcome me with open arms, and I think it's a great community.

Mark A Preston: Yeah! I was going to say. Obviously, you're giving your time up to be on this interview now. What are the things are you involved in in order to just help people?

Neil Patel: I create content. We try to educate and help through that, but I'm actually not that involved in much. My wife is, so I try to focus on building a business. My wife focuses on philanthropy and tries to help do that. So she spends her full time raising kids and helping out a lot of different organizations.

Mark A Preston: Wonderful. It's a really good feeling when you can help others, in line.

Neil Patel: It can be. I don't really look at it as, like, a feeling. I look at it as more like there's a lot of things that are wrong. And as humans, if we have the ability to help others out, you should. Right? I don't look at it as a feeling. What makes me feel better isn't the helping other people out. It's actually seeing things improve. It's just like there's so many kids out there that people are like, “Oh, they don't live in good areas. They're not going to succeed”. Well, if you gave them the tools in the education, why can't they? They're hungry. Who says they're not smart? Who says they can't accomplish amazing things? Who says they can't build multibillion dollar companies? Who says they can't cure cancer? And for me, it's more like it's sad to see a lot of people in this world not have opportunities than others help them out.  And helping them yes, you could say it is a good feeling, but what's a better feeling for me is seeing change and then seeing the people that you help out try to help other people as well, and just it continues. And hopefully it'll make the world a better place.  I say more so, like, what's a good feeling is like, what Elon Musk is doing. What he's doing is tremendous, right? Trying to make it where people can live on multiple civilizations, not have a single point of failure being earned. That's crazy in a good way. I don't have the capability to do what he does. It's not just even money. Sure, I don't have the money he does, but I don't also have the brain power and intellect that he does as well.

Mark A Preston: I was going to say something you mentioned there is I've had conversations with a lot of people. Nobody knows who they are, and said they struggle getting a chance in the industry because a lot of places they go to, the first thing they ask is, well, “do you have a degree?” Well, I'm just finding marketing, all these job ads that you see, just a degree is required. And for me, some of the best people I've spoken to in the industry,

Neil Patel: I disagree with that. Most of the people I know hiring for marketing in the corporate world or for agencies, none of them look at marketing degrees. Yes, Indeed. Sure, a lot of jobs require, but they're not really required. So many people hire marketers without college degrees. Majority of the people I know looking for marketers that hit me up, whether it's C level or even entry level, I rarely ever, I don't even think I've been ever asked once, do you know someone with a degree? They're just like, do you know someone good? No one really cares if someone has a degree. I think that's a big misconception in most fields. It may be on the job listing as a requirement, but people are just using boilerplates stuff and people really don't care if someone has a degree.

Mark A Preston: So do you think it's the sort of recruitment HR industry that has created that? Because I know quite a few people that haven't gone for jobs because it states it needs the need to degree.

Neil Patel: I don't know if it's the HR or where it's coming from. I just know that at the end of the day marketers do not need degrees. That's a big misconception. And if someone else tells HR recruiting or whoever to hire that person, they don't have a degree. There's a good chance that person is getting hired, especially if it's a C-level saying “hire that person”. You can work at any major tech company. Most of them do not require degrees. They used to, but times have changed.

Mark A Preston: Right.

Neil Patel: I know people who work at Google today. Facebook, Apple, the list goes on and on. I know tons of people that work at these organizations. They don't have degrees, and a lot of them are really well off and well paid in these organizations.

Mark A Preston: So what is important then? If degrees aren't important, what is important?

Neil Patel: Skill set. Are you good at what they're looking for? If you can help them accomplish what they're looking for, you're good to go. Communication, management skills is also important. Being able to think outside the box, being able to solve solutions within when you're given constraints, all these things are super important.

Mark A Preston: Right. So how does somebody get the experience in order to be in a position to actually prove they can solve all these problems?

Neil Patel: Volunteer, do work for free internships, create your own websites, practice on it. There's a lot of ways to get experience. Help nonprofits with their marketing for free. You can do a lot of stuff to get experience.

Mark A Preston: Okay, brilliant! I'm going to say, looking at things from an industry is when it comes to personal branding, you have positive and negative personal branding. Everybody goes through that. As far as your personal brand is concerned, is when there is some negative context beyond things, how do you sort of handle that?

Neil Patel: I don't have to. I just ignore it. I don't even read most of the negative stuff in the first place.

Mark A Preston: Right. Not you personally as well but do you think people should just ignore it or should they understand why people's got that perception? Because if it's not true, then shouldn't we try and change that perception into what the truth is?

Neil Patel: Okay, let me ask you this. If someone thought negatively of you, does it really matter?

Mark A Preston: It doesn't matter to me, but I want to understand why they think that.

Neil Patel: I agree with that, but if you try to understand it and it's not true and there's nothing for you to really fix, does it matter then?

Mark A Preston: No.

Neil Patel: Well, you got it.

Mark A Preston: I mean, in essence, I've actually understood why they think that, because perception is a dangerous thing. It can be fantastic and dangerous at the same time.

Neil Patel: But I don't understand why people need to focus on fixing something when it's not true. Does that make sense? Whether it's perception or not, it doesn't matter. Go live your life. We're in a world where everyone cares what other people think. I don't want my kids growing up to think like that. You shouldn't be doing things for ego. You shouldn't be doing things for praises from others. You do what's ethical. You do what's moral. You do what's right. And if people hate, they hate. It shouldn't affect your day. We're growing up in a world where social media is everything and people care how many likes they have or how many good comments they have. Again, if you're doing what's right and ethical and moral, don't worry what haters are going to say. Haters are going to hate. Just live your life. You can't please everyone. It's the reality of it.

Mark A Preston: All right, you’re saying your passion is to build your agency. What sort of passions do you have outside work?

Neil Patel: My passion is mainly work, and other than that, is family. There's only two things. I'm a workaholic.

Mark A Preston: Right. So, when you say you're a workaholic, roughly how many hours a week, do you just work?

Neil Patel: I just work at least 60, maybe up to 80 max.

Mark A Preston: Right. So do you have any sort of hobbies outside of work?

Neil Patel: No, it's mainly just work.

Mark A Preston: Right. You sound a bit like me. Could I say or not. Right, so if somebody wants to build up their own agency, what's important?

Neil Patel: Clients and satisfaction. Doing what's best for clients is really what matters. And another thing is, if you're trying to start an agency from scratch, pick a niche. So are you going to do just SEO for ecommerce sites? Or paid ads for ecommerce sites? Or influencer marketing for B2B software companies? I don't know. I'm making it up, but you need to start off with a niche because it's too competitive to be an agency that does everything, do something exceptionally well and just specialize in it. Later on, you can expand to different verticals and different service offerings, but start off with a niche.

Mark A Preston: So is that same if they want to run a specialist SEO agency, should they then focus on a key area?

Neil Patel: Yes.

Mark A Preston: Okay, now you say what's important is the clients. Obviously, without clients, you can't build the agency up. But for the smaller agencies, what can they be doing better to generate more clients?

Neil Patel: One strategy that you can do is, go to Crunch base. Look at all the resources, funded companies. Hit them up, tell them everything that they're doing wrong. Break it down, tell them how to fix it for some of them will hire you. It's a great strategy that works to get business.

Mark A Preston: Right. Don't these companies think of it as though, well, you're telling me what our team is doing wrong? Or is there any sort of just like, brick wall there?

Neil Patel: Not necessarily. Some people may look at it that way, but some people look at it as, “Oh, we have growth opportunity.” Let me work with this person. Fix it. It's a question. Do you want to look at it as the glass is half full, or do you want to look at it as the glass is half empty?

Mark A Preston: Right, now looking at your tool set you purchase, so what tools do you have?

Neil Patel: “Answer the public and Uber suggests” those are the main two tools.

Mark A Preston: Okay, why tools?

Neil Patel: My background is software, and tools are also a great way to get our agency's name out and have more people knowing what we're doing.

Mark A Preston: Okay, so on the uber suggest what's the roadmap for that? What's your plans?

Neil Patel: The big thing we're working on is AI writing and automating as much as possible with SEO through AI.

Mark A Preston: Right! Now obviously you've just touched upon a minefield there. With AI and the industry ChatGPT now, what's your view on AI being a content generator replacement?

Neil Patel: It's not there yet. The quality isn't there at all. I think it's a great start. I think it can help you generate topic ideas. I think it can help you start writing piece of content. I think humans need to still go in and edit it. Just think of it this way. If it takes you two hours to write a post, maybe AI will save you an hour.

Mark A Preston: So, it's definitely, not a replacement.

Neil Patel: In its current form. Who knows 2,3,4,5 years from now.

Mark A Preston: Right. So how can marketers use the power of AI to help them do their jobs better?

Neil Patel: It can give you a head start. Just look at it as something that can do the outline the framework for you and then you can just fill in the rest. Can help you with ideation?

Mark A Preston: With that in mind, what do you see the future of SEO being like?

Neil Patel: The tools will try to do a lot of the work that humans are doing and will save them a lot of time and eventually it'll automate a lot of the stuff.

Mark A Preston: Will that have a negative impact regarding jobs in the industry?

Neil Patel: I don't know yet. And the reason I say that is there could be elements that a tool can't do well like strategy or a tool may not be able to integrate the personal experience as much. I think they'll be used for people for a very long time. It's just what they focus their time and attention on, they shift.

Mark A Preston: Right. So people shouldn't be worried about their jobs. What should they be focusing on them to make sure their future of their careers are secure?

Neil Patel: Keep learning anything that's new. Learn it, understand it, get good at it within the space, and it will make you more valuable in the future.

Mark A Preston: Right. As simple as that then.

Neil Patel: I think so.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. A lot of what you've discussed, is there's no, like, magic bullet?

Neil Patel: No, I don't think the magic bullet exists in our space.

Mark A Preston: Right. Just doing things right for the audience. That's the saying with SEO.

Neil Patel: Yeah. It's the same for most industries.

Mark A Preston: Now all the SEO’s that doing things, just to manipulate the search engines, obviously they're not in this mindset. Surely if they were brought out of the mindset therein and just do things properly to benefit the audience, won't they have better results?

Neil Patel: In the long run, they should. In the short run, maybe not, but in the long run they should.

Mark A Preston: Right! So, it's just basically we need to put more effort in, in order to get to where they want. Now do you think I mean, I'm not sure about you, but is that due to laziness? Because a lot of SEO is hard work and it does take time and it does take a lot of energy. Do you think a lot of energy?

Neil Patel: No, not necessarily. Some people could be lazy. Some people just may need results right away because they need money to pay their bills. The reason on why people take shortcuts in life, you know, not just SEO. It varies person to person. Everyone has their own prerogative and reason why they need to take that shortcut, right? Maybe they need results right now to hit some goal so that way they can pay their staff next month or whatnot. Some people are lazy, and the list can go on and on. Why some people may take shortcuts, but it really is, each person may have their own reasons. Would I do it? No. But have I done it in the past? Sure, when I was 16, 17 years old, I was looking for shortcuts, and as I got older, I realized I should not take shortcuts and I should do things the right way.

Mark A Preston: So as an SEO, if a business comes to you and says, well, we need results any sort of very fast, because, like you say, we have a massive.

Neil Patel: I get it.

Mark A Preston: What does that conversation look like? And if people actually want rapid results.

Neil Patel: Just like anyone would. As an SEO, you analyze the website, you see if there's room to improve (36:59 not clear), maybe there's a quick fix that you can end up making and giving them crazy results. Here's an edge case. One is if they have a robot TXT file or their pages have no index on them for like 90% of the websites and they weren't supposed to, and it was a mistake that they made internally and no one ever caught it, well, you could remove that, and they could actually get amazing results within 30 days. Sometimes you can actually provide really good results quickly without taking shortcuts. Sometimes you can't. If you can't, you just got to be transparent and let them know.

Mark A Preston: So it's just improving what they already have.

Neil Patel: It's not just that, but sometimes you're able to, sometimes you're not able to, quickly. It varies business by business.

Mark A Preston: Right.

Neil Patel: I give you the example of the no index, because we actually had someone who had us up that had most of their pages not indexed when they should have been indexed, right? Great results within the first 30 days did we do something amazing? No. Anyone could have done that. It was just a mistake on there. Do we tell the client, look, what we did were amazing? No, we told them, hey, you guys got this mistake whether you pay us or not, you should just fix this. Right? We try to be transparent as much as possible, and I think that's how people should run their businesses.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. So regarding the whole discovered, not indexed. So basically, Google scroll the pages, but not indexing them. What can SEOs do about pass?

Neil Patel: Well, make sure your code is clean, make sure you have internal links, make sure those pages are valuable, make sure the content is unique. All those factors really do help.

Mark A Preston: Right. So obviously your key focus is running the agency. Now, what's important in a large scale agency like yours?

Neil Patel: Putting the clients first. Putting the clients first, building amazing culture with the team and hoping they understand. And our clients really do matter. But I would say those are the two big things that really matter. Remember, we're in a service based business. If you don't provide good service, you're shit out of luck.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. I'm going to say within the team structures, it's like individual teams that work with clients. How do you sort of organize the teams?

Neil Patel: We have our own media team, which is like SEO, organic social, content creation, et cetera. We had a paid media team, deals all the paid ads, whether it's social or search. We have a team for like CRO and email marketing. We have account managers, we have project managers. And then you have a little bit of everyone from different departments focusing on the clients.

Mark A Preston: Alright! And how important is awards and recognition, do you think, in the industry?

Neil Patel: I think they're important. I don't think they're the end. A lot of the big companies out there don't have awards or tons of them. I think what's more important than awards and recognition is, again, doing amazing results for customers and satisfying them. You don't need award for that. If you keep doing good work, they'll keep referring you more business.

Mark A Preston: Right. So, there is no magic one then.

Neil Patel: No. Like, even awards, I don't know one award that, we've gotten a lot of awards from, like agency of the year, the best SEO campaigns, best paperwork campaigns, the list goes on. I don't know one award that's driven us revenue and got us a new customer, but it's nice to have them. But what really does drive revenue is providing amazing results for customers and them knowing it. And them like your business, they spend more with you over time, they refer you more business. That's a real winning strategy.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Now, the people within the Teams, like you said, are important. What about the agencies who can't afford to hire really good people? What are you doing to improve things?

Neil Patel: If you can't hire really good people, don't hire them. You've should focus on hiring really good people, no matter what. The really good people don't have to have all the experience in the world. Sometimes there could be a person fresh out of college or fresh out of high school, and they're hungry, and they're willing to learn, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in a moral, ethical way. And you can work with those people and train them up and make them even better. And those people can do wonders for clients as well.

Mark A Preston: Alright!

Neil Patel: You can also hire, if you want, people who are seasoned, you could hire them on a part time basis. Maybe they can help you guys out on part time until you grow more. There's a lot of solutions.

Mark A Preston: Right. There isn't one certain path, growth path you found that works better?

Neil Patel: No.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Now, when it comes to Neil Patel, the brand. Is the personal brand you have the same as the agency brand, or how do you split the part?

Neil Patel: We don't really worry about that. We don't really try to separate them or combine them. The agency has some brand. I have my own personal brand. Sometimes they get (42:42 not clear) coming, sometimes they don't. I think people worry too much about the nitty gritty. Just like, focus on the end result. If you're building a product, build the best product out there, trying to get in people's hands. If you're building agency, focus on your service and make you sure it's the best service out there. Don't worry too much about things like, “Oh, how is my personal brand perceived?” Or “how is it going to mix with the corporate brand?”. These are things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, right? What really matters is your product amazing? Is your service amazing? Are you doing whatever to delight customers? Are you creating amazing culture? Are you encouraging your employees to learn more and get better? Versus being negative. Like, these are the things that matter.

Mark A Preston: So, for a company, how important is the brand awareness for them when it comes to linking with the SEO?

Neil Patel: The bigger your brand, the easier it is to get rankings with SEO.

Mark A Preston: And that has a direct link?

Neil Patel: From what we've seen, Yes.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Right. Well, I'm going to say it's amazing that you've given your time to join us today. Now, for everybody watching this, is there anything the audience can do to help you?

Neil Patel: I appreciate it. What I would say is, think about all the people within your local community and figure out a way to help them. And if you can do that, that'll make my day.

Mark A Preston: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for joining us. Is there anything you want to add?

Neil Patel: Thank you for your time. Thank you for interviewing me. Yes, you say I have a busy day, but you do too. There's other things you can be doing, spending time with your family, working, et cetera. So thank you for taking the time to interview me. You don't have to.

Mark A Preston: Is there anything that you want people to reach out to you about?

Neil Patel: If you need help with your marketing, check out our ad agency, NP Digital.

Mark A Preston: Okay, brilliant. Well, thank you, Neil, for your time. I mean, it's flown by, and I feel as though we got through such a lot there.

Neil Patel: Thanks for having me.

Mark A Preston: Thanks. Bye.

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