Christopher Michael Labbate from SEOBANK.ca has been a Digital Marketing Manager for over 15 years and has helped national brands like Home Hardware, CARQUEST, Centurty21 and other local businesses double annual sales through his online marketing campaigns.
Chris holds an honors degree in Web Development and has been awarded over 10 professional certifications for SEO, Social Media, and Link Building.
How did you start out as a marketer?
I started out in a Traditional Marketing Agency doing Sales in Both the US and Canada.
We provided full marketing campaigns: Print, Radio, PR and Website Design. I really started taking an interest in Digital Marketing and started incorporating it into new campaign launches.
Part of my job role was doing reports on how well each marketing channel was performing and reporting back to clients.
I quickly learned that SEO and Digital produced the best ROI for our customers, and I started my own Digital Agency focused solely on producing the best results from a financial standpoint.
Looking back what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?
Anyone that has done SEO knows that… “It is the house of a thousand things”, there is a lot of optimization that goes into it.
Sometimes it is hard to find time to scale the business and get everything crossed off your SEO checklists.
How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?
My Father always just owned his own business and I picked up a LOT of business development from him over the years.
Instead of trying to find clients one-by-one, I created strategic alliances with other agencies in the area.
One of them sold website design, the other social media marketing services, so we all teamed up to share leads.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
Honestly, I love watching business grow and scale up through time.
I focus a lot branding the business online and think outside the box. My usual benchmark is doubling annual sales in 2 years.
If they have a healthy budget and have done some online marketing in the past, I will take them on as a client.
We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers, aside from freelancing how else can someone earn online, and what is your advice?
Its good to build up multiple income streams, you can start a small affiliate site, maybe a couple of Rank n Rent SEO sites.
If you create multiple income streams you will be less reliant on client work, or your next gig.
If you were given the chance to build your career all over again what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?
I think I would have got into machine learning, AI and automation very early on, as I see that as the future of everything.
Just ask Google.
How is your typical workday structured?
I live my life by Trello Boards and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), if you do not have a SEO process in place I would recommend picking up a good course that has these types of documents and checklists.
Can you tell us about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success?
E-Commerce is very much like this, I was working for CARQUEST Auto Parts in Canada and well, sometimes Corporate vision and the vision at the individual stores didn’t always algin.
Getting everyone to buy into a certain strategy, or even getting the employees onboard with online ordering was a long haul. I always say, successful SEO campaigns are a formula:
Planning + Strategy + Consistency = Success.
You’ve been tasked with redesigning the company’s brand strategy from the ground up. Walk us through your process.
Oh Boy, that’s a loaded question…LOL
I would say, start with a really great designer who can deliver your Brand Standards in a complete “Brand Book” so that you can start to build an identity.
With that identity you should be thinking about your: “Overall Look and Feel” mission statement, and vision statement for your company.
People buy into brands that they believe in, so it is good to tell your story and align with their needs as a customer.
(Ok, that question hurt my brain can I have a coffee break now…lol)
Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?
This basically happens in one way or another month after month.
No one can do it all, so build up “your book of record.”
Have on file, at least one expert for extremely specific tasks to help you get it all done.
I have one expert for email marketing, another for backlinks, etc.
What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?
110% It is Schema and Entity SEO, with Rank Brain and NLP, I love creating hand-coded schema templates for ranking local websites and organic keyword rankings.
The topical relevance you can achieve with structured data is laser focused and Google loves it right now.
What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
Great question, get yourself into a Google SEO Mastermind Group. I am a SEO tester for IMG (Internet Marketing Gold) so we are always testing ranking factors and discuss new ideas in Search.
There are a few others that I recommend, Traffic Think Tank, SEO Intelligence Agency or the already mentioned Internet Marketing Gold.
Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of from your past work history?
Yes, I was working for a large e-commerce site, it was a power tool website for one of the Home Hardware stores and had over 70,000 products.
They had brought me on recently to fix the rankings, as the site was doing very poorly.
It turns out that the developers had created a feedback loop with canonical tags.
They had one tag pointed to the mobile version of the page, then on the mobile page, they had set it to point to the http:// version of the page, and at the start of the loop was the https:// version.
Long story short was that none of the pages got any authority at all, because they were all pointing to a different version, that told Google which page to rank.
After I untied that knot, things got way better and the boss was more than happy with my work.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?
The Schema Advanced Bootcamp from SchemaApp, I think every marketer should know how to implement schema markup.
Here is the post: https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-markup-bootcamp-modules/
What advice would you share with other Marketer’s who want to become more productive?
Be sure to have a good CRM tool (I use Insightly) and a Project Management Tool (the free version of Trello works just fine.
If there’s one Marketing Guru you’d recommend who and why.
Hands down, Bill Slawski. He is one of the only SEO’s who looks at things from a Google Patent perspective.
He knows a lot about search entities and where Google is headed into the future.
I recommend reading his blog at SEO by the SEA.