The ever-changing algorithms in search engines are making it more challenging for many websites to rank. Today, smart marketers are combining several digital marketing strategies, including utilising search engine optimisation (SEO) to increase a website’s visibility and ranking on search engines. Marketing in Asia had the pleasure of chatting with Bhavin Bhavsar, founder of Treat SEO & Bhavin Bhavsar Consulting based in India. He shared his entrepreneurship journey and gave insights on how SEO can help businesses maintain their placements on the search engines successfully and permanently.
Bhavin, you have extensive experience having worked in various organisations and clients in Singapore, USA, UK, Canada, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Thailand and UAE. Tell us more about your career journey and how it led to your entrepreneurship role.
I have been associated with SEO since 2004 when the technology was still very new. Since my early corporate professional days, I believe that digital marketing is the future. It is a revolution in the world of marketing. With the evolution of smartphones and the internet, digital marketing has seeped into the society and is gradually taking over old-school marketing.
I began my career with the launch of TreatSEO in 2005, when dotcom was a novelty and the importance of websites had just been realised. At that time, my natural inclination and interest in digital marketing, SEO and SMM, along with my analytical skills and training from my first job, helped me enter the market and carve a niche for myself.
Over time, I upskilled myself with the latest knowledge in digital marketing through various certifications. I also began reaching out to clients who had seen me work and had faith in my capabilities. I started with baby steps and thankfully with a lot of faith and the support from my clients, I was able to work my way through the industry and today, here I am, sharing my story.
You are the founder of TreatSEO & Bhavin Bhavsar Consulting based in India, and you have been in this business for close to 20 years. Tell us how and why did you get into digital marketing and chose to offer SEO as your business solutions to your clients?
During my early days as an employee, the power of digital marketing on businesses fascinated me. I was amazed at how people and businesses were using social media as a marketing tool to successfully reach out to a massive group of people via these platforms. It started with MSN and other search engines which then paved the way for the rise of other social digital platforms. With digital marketing, it is quite apparent that an idea, product or service can reach people from any corner of the world by the power of digital media. That was when I decided that this would be the field I want to grow my profession and build a legacy in the industry.
Why SEO? I want to help my clients get an edge over their competitors by being ranked top on the internet. We all know that in today’s context, people search for everything and anything via their phones or desktop. By having your website visible on the internet amidst the thousands of other websites gives you an edge over your competitors. The idea of helping my clients reach out to the right and wider target audience through this brilliant strategy was the main reason why I specifically offer SEO marketing to my clients.
How long can one expect for SEO to work? What kind of results can they expect?
SEO is a process. It involves checking the current rankings, running Google audits, working on the tags, metatags and other important factors specific to the domain. As with any other digital marketing strategy, it takes time for results to show. For SEO, we advise our clients that it takes a minimum of about three months before they can actually see results on the search engines. Over time, usually around five to seven months, the results are fairly appreciable. Usually we give the client a pre-audit report of their ranking on the search engines before we start. This will be followed by weekly or fortnightly reviews where we provide data to the client for them to see the improvements and changes in the rankings on the search engines.
What is the top SEO mistake organisations or marketers make?
When it comes to SEO, many organisations think it is easy to execute and reap results quickly. Those who are unaware of the process can have unrealistic expectations. However, what bothers me a little is when marketers give unrealistic promises, setting almost unachievable goals and raise clients expectations just to get an edge in the competition. When they are unable to deliver, the clients lose their faith on SEO and the benefits. It also affects professionals like us who are genuine experts who help clients with our right tools and strategies. I do not think that expecting immediate results is fair. Good things take time and patience. I believe it is a virtue.
What is your view on backlink strategies and what is the best practice?
Backlink strategies are among the best approaches when it comes to subtly marketing your content or product. This strategy definitely helps in getting a good reach and creating curiosity in your audience to get them to your desired or targeted site. At TreatSEO, we especially focus on backlinks. However, there are different best practices, in this domain and to that, I would say, “To each, his own.” There are numerous players in the market today who believe in different best practices and approaches. Rather than defining a best practice, I would advise that SEO experts review the clients’ requirements and select the best practices that will bring the client satisfactory results.
In your opinion, how important is branding and why?
There is a saying in India which has been around for generations: “Jo Dikhta Hai Wo Bikta Hai” which means “what is seen is sold.” I believe this holds much more importance in today’s time because of the increasing competition in every field and domain. I believe it is necessary that if you are doing something or offering something to people, they should know about it. How else would people even realise your existence without any brand awareness? Brand hammering is becoming more important now than ever before and a person or an organisation that does not do that will eventually lose out in the race.
What about marketing? Should entrepreneurs invest in marketing, be it in social media management, branding, PR, SEO and even influencer marketing during a pandemic, and why?
I believe a person who invests in marketing gets the maximum returns. As a digital marketer, my first and foremost task is to explain to my clients how and why executing the right marketing strategy is important. All media and digital platforms today are offering so much in terms of marketing returns. Reaching out to potential customers is only possible through marketing via different media and platforms and I believe one should seriously invest not only their budget but also their time and efforts in marketing their product, services or organisations through various channels.
In the past, SEO is unheard of and in fact, it only became popular in the mid-90s. Today, SEO is an important tool that can help businesses raise their website visibility in the digital space. In your view, what is another strategy that marketers should consider to take their business to the next level?
You are correct about SEO. Since the last two decades, SEO has definitely gained momentum and is appreciated in the field of digital marketing. On top of on-page SEO and off-page SEO, social media optimisation or SMO is also being used. This means that marketers, on top of traditional marketing, are beginning to extend their marketing and advertising efforts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
However, with changing times, there is always something in the digital industry. Thus, we see the evolution of new digital marketing strategies, tools, techniques and technologies to help clients get better outcomes and exposure. One example is the increasing use of social media influencers. People and businesses are paying social media influencers on social media platforms who can garner a huge number of followers to promote any products or services. This is one of the strategies apart from SEO which businesses can complement in their marketing efforts to reap better outcomes.
I read in your blog that your father was skeptical about you moving away from a 9 to 5 job and embarking on your entrepreneurship journey. Share with us, how did you convince your father to let you embark on your business? What does he have to say about you today?
I believe that our previous generation, especially our parents, do not want to see their kids struggle. They are a generation who are content with what they have and not have to hustle that much. In turn, they also want us to do the same, not stress ourselves and live a contented life. The same was with my dad and trust me, it wasn’t easy to convince him either. However, seeing how determined I was in this venture and sensing that I would not deviate from my decision, he finally gave in. I must say, today, seeing the name that I have made for myself in the industry and the achievements in my journey, he is happy and proud.
What is/are your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who are torn between staying in a corporate world versus making their mark as a business owner?
I would say that one should always go after one’s dreams. This takes a lot of courage and backing from people who mean the world to you. If you do not muster up the courage, you will end up working for someone else who wants to fulfill their dreams. This journey does get a bit tough, but you need to stay strong. One should always remember, the view from the top is always worth the climb.