Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Interview with Carlo Barajas, founder of Surface SEO

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Carlo Barajas
Carlo Barajas

1- Hello Carlo, can you tell us a bit about yourself
Hello! Well, I’ve been doing SEO and digital marketing for about 3 and a half years now. Before this, I received my degree in Psychology with minors in Business and Linguistics from the University of Kansas in 2011. Right out of college I took a position as Director of Development at a small nonprofit in Tonganoxie, KS called Integrated Behavioral Technologies. I was in charge of PR, fundraising, and marketing. It was shortly after my time there that I decided I wanted to go out on my own and enjoy the freedom of “doing my own thing.”

2- How would you describe “Surface SEO” in under few words?
In a nutshell, Surface SEO is a digital marketing consultancy that specializes in search engine optimization, specifically for local businesses and e-commerce stores.

3- What are your focus areas and why?
Our primary focus is SEO for small to medium sized local businesses and national/international e-commerce stores. As far as local goes, I feel like it’s still hard to lots of local business owners to wrap their heads around SEO. Many don’t understand what it is, much less the value, and others simply can’t find a quality consultant/firm that fits their budgetary constrictions. We aim to serve that demographic. As far as e-commerce goes – I have a long history in sales, and so I find I’m very comfortable helping younger (as well as more established) e-commerce businesses sell their products.

4- How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
It’s no secret that most SEO’s are self-taught to a certain extent. There’s not really any formal schooling or training out there, so it takes a lot of trial and error to get good at it. That said, there are lots of people out there who say they “do SEO,” when they really don’t know what they’re doing. Either they’re using antiquated tactics or they’re focusing on what I’d call “vanity metrics” more than the one thing the client really cares about: whether or not they’re getting a proper return on their investment.”
Rather than simply being someone who “does SEO,” I am a professional marketer who happens to specialize in the field. I’ll always try to keep your overall marketing big picture in mind, and help you with things like proper copywriting and branding. I don’t want to just drive traffic to you website, I want to drive traffic that turns into sales or new customers.

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5- Where do you think “Surface SEO” is making an impact?
Right now we seem to really be specializing in the wedding, jewelry, and fashion/accessory niches. After some big wins in the alternative wedding ring and accessory markets, we feel confident billing ourselves as experts in the area.

6- What are some things that most people don’t know about your job?
Probably how much work it can be. I’d say that a majority of the hardest work is the first month with a new client, where we’re doing keyword research, competitive analysis, and onsite optimization. It’s very time consuming, and it’s something that I still insist on doing myself. SEO is a lot like playing the stock market – you go in armed with as much information as you can, and make the best decisions based on that research. Once the plan is underway, you’re constantly monitoring and making adjustments to the campaign.

7- SEO world is always changing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Hopefully not on the streets! But in all seriousness, it’s hard to say. Every other week there’s an article out there that says “SEO is dead” blah blah blah. That simply isn’t true, but Google’s algorithms are definitely getting more and more intelligent, and so we need to be as well. As Google starts to close a lot of loopholes that SEOs looking for quick results (not necessarily long-term) exploit, I think that search engine optimization is going to meld more and more with traditional PR and inbound marketing, where we’re taking on more of an outreach role as we build relationships to acquire links and mentions around the web.

8- And what were some of the biggest challenges you encountered personally?
Getting this company started, for one. I remember my first year in Portland. I had just moved from Kansas, had only a few hundred dollars in my bank account, and one client that was definitely underpaying me. When I wasn’t hustling trying to get new clients, I was sleeping on a cheap twin air mattress in a house with a drafty window and a leaky roof. 3 years later, and I can definitely say the situation has improved. I’m happy to be doing something I love and helping other passionate people grow their businesses.

9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
I’m really excited about this new year. I’ve never been one for making resolutions, but I am very resolved to make 2016 a successful year, and really turn Surface SEO into a larger company.

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10- A last Word or final thoughts?
Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. I work with a lot of young businesses and I can tell you the biggest thing they’re afraid of is actually setting aside a marketing budget. Heck, it took me a long time to take my own advice and do the same. Your website should be your greatest money making asset, as it’s like a 24-hour salesman for your product or service. I guarantee that if you find someone knowledgeable and passionate about marketing/SEO, you won’t regret bringing them onboard.

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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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