Last summer Kyle Steele was contemplating entrepreneurship and didn’t want to wake up and be 75 years old, regretting not doing it.
He worked in the financial services industry in Cedar Rapids for over a decade. When his path crossed with Sean Switzer and John Boorman, founders of SEO Expert—a digital marketing agency with a focus on search engine optimization—they were looking to explore other ventures.
Steele was looking for digital marketing.
By October, Steele wasn’t an SEO Expert, but he had become the Majority Partner of the Central Iowa-based company.
“I’m scared shitless and having the time of my life,” Steele says laughing.
Now or never
Last September, Dan Kurns joined SEO Expert as a Digital Marketing Strategist and stayed on board after Steele took over in October. Kurns says Steele has created different partnerships around the company and established a referral network that they did not have before.
But for Steele, he remembers making the initial decision to enter entrepreneurship.
“I was 39 and thought if I don’t take a shot now I never will take that entrepreneurial plunge,” Steele said.
Since becoming Managing Partner, SEO Expert relocated from a Johnston office to the Gravitate coworking office in Valley Junction. Steele says there’s an “Entrepreneurial mindset” in the coworking space and it’s something the company has benefited from.
“You get those innovative ideas and partnerships,” Steele said.
To ingrain the company into the Valley Junction community, Steele said he introduced himself to each company. Then he said they will host free marketing seminars for local companies and nonprofit organizations.
“Just going over things they can be doing for their business,” Steele says.
The importance of SEO
Marketers don’t get into marketing to update a Meta tag or Meta file but Steele says it’s that level of detail that is required for a company website.
“You can’t see it on the surface but you can see the results,” Steele says. ” SEO is a huge piece and we always equate it to the offensive line of a football team. They do the tactics but never get noticed.
Steele said SEO Expert launched, “Voice Search Expert” to optimize sites for voice search.
“If you are asking Siri or Alexa who has the best wings in Des Moines, they come up with three places,” Steele says. “At the root, it’s still SEO but it changes the avenue people take to get there.”
Free SEO tips
First and foremost, Steele says content is king when it comes to a website.
But Kurns says it’s also about leveraging free tools that are available through Google.
“Most companies we talk to don’t have a Google Search Console Profile, they don’t know that Google sends them free information and what keywords are actually driving traffic,” Kurns said. “Most people don’t know it exists.”
Steele said Google My Business is another basic that companies forget to setup.
“They don’t know what they don’t know,” Steele says.
And Steele says companies need to deliver content on a variety of platforms, to reach different audiences.
“Make sure you are optimized on all forms of content so people can digest your material in the way they want to,” Steele said. “Why miss out on something that’s free?”
Lessons from entrepreneurship
Steele says he leans on Kurns a lot but that they are a perfect team in that sense.
“I’m the big picture guy and he actually does the shit that I come up with,” Steele says. “We started putting on some local marketing seminars, going over things they can be doing for their business.”
And then there’s the pressure of making sure all four employees get paid.
“The first two rules are: Get a great accountant and a great lawyer,” Steele says. “At the end of the day, our employees work here for a paycheck. So you as a business owner need to find out what you do well, outsource the rest.”