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SEO Expert: We only see the results

SEO Expert

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.”


SEO Expert: We only see the results | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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