Tag Archives: seo-hacker

12Jan/15
SEO Hacker Creed

The SEO Hacker Creed: ACHTUNG

SEO Hacker Creed

The reason I came up with ACHTUNG is that I believe that the SEO Hacker team needs a guiding light to propel the company to success.

And in order to achieve true success, the teams and individuals working in the company has to have instilled values. Principles that the team lives and breathes as we work together in pushing the company forward.

Just to be clear, ACHTUNG is not, in any way final. I believe that values has to be shaped from a company’s past, present and future. And as with all futures, there are things that are unforeseen and uncertain.

So here goes.

Accountability in Freedom

Accountability in Freedom

We believe in a working culture that is not stemmed on bureaucracy, strict rules and corporate red tape. Our company deals a lot with art and creativity. And art is quite unbridled in nature. This does not mean, however, that we can do anything we damn well please with our work.

For freedom to be a tool for success, it has to come hand-in-hand with accountability. We believe that in order for an individual in our company to have true freedom that will result to the success of the team and ultimately, the company, it has to be in the bounds of accountability.

We do not believe in blocking social media sites and ‘fun’ sites like 9gag and tumblr because we believe it could be valuable sources of information, creativity, and not least of all, stress relief. We do believe, however, that we should not exploit these freedoms for our personal use or purposeless entertainment.

There lies the problem: These freedoms are so easily exploited during company hours. The thing about freedom is that if it is exploited by a teammate, it can be so easily justified to oneself to exploit it as well. The effect then turns into a vicious cycle.

So we have embraced systems to help avoid that pitfall. To be accountable.

One of them is our Skype login. This is to keep everyone in the team in the loop on each others whereabouts and availability. Another system is Hubstaff. We are all paid for our time spent making the company grow. Hubstaff enables us to check ourselves if we are taking care of our freedom by committing our time to the success and growth of the company.

Confront Indiscipline

Confront Indiscipline

One of the things we really believe in is that a leader is to lead from the front. People are used to having their leaders “on top” or “above” them. It is a common practice in our world today to let the leader or manager have special perks. Consequently, this drives people to shy away from telling them off whenever they find something wrong with the leadership or management style of the leader.

If there is one thing that we want to change in the way the leaders relate with the team and vice versa, it’s this: Confront indiscipline.

Whether it’s the new hire or the team lead, or even the CEO himself, if there is something wrong, tell him off. Be confrontational. We find that 99% of the time, if there’s something that’s wrong with the leadership or management style of a person, it leads to the detriment of the success of the company.

For the leaders, this means that you shouldn’t expect anything from your people unless you are also willing to undertake it yourselves. Lead from the front, don’t manage from behind.

When it comes to discipline, we are all at a level playing field. No one is above and no one is below. Everyone has to play by the company rules.

Hacker Innovation

Hacker Innovation

We believe that the moment we stop innovating is the moment we die – slowly. Like a battered old brontosaurus waiting for its own extinction.

A hacker is a good analogy for the kind of innovation we do. The moment a hacker stops innovating and settles for ‘just programming’ he will soon find himself at the back office of a non-IT company doing IT work that he doesn’t really like.

I know that it’s an exaggerated picture but it’s not really an impossibility. A hacker is only as good as when he is learning, innovating, and ultimately applying all of that – to what he really loves.

Learn, test, apply, repeat.

Trust in Difficult Times

Trust in Difficult Times

We believe it’s easy to trust a company and the people in it when everything’s well and good. The thing is, there’s nothing special about that. Everybody naturally does that.

The outliers are the people who are able to trust the company and the people in it when the going gets tough.We believe these people are the ones that are most loyal, driven and committed.

These people are extremely valuable.

They are the ones who will build the company and run with the ball when it’s their turn to make the game.

Without trust, the morale drops, gossip increases dramatically and the team chemistry goes haywire. Trust is the building block of an awesome team.

It is the stuff we are made of.

Unity in Diversity

Unity in Diversity

We believe in a team that accepts all forms of diversity – religion, race, discipline, family background, work ethics, and so on and so forth. Everyone has a fighting chance in making the team and playing big.

We believe in having one purpose, one goal and one company culture that is not mutually exclusive with our differences as individuals. Freedom and diversity thrives in the company but in order for it to be used positively, it has to be directed by unity and accountability towards one goal: To drive the company to success.

Our teams have very different people playing in their respective fields but the one thing that these people have in common is that at the end of the day, they have one big goal they are shooting for.

If there is no unity in our diversity, we might as all go solo – and miss the most exciting time of our lives doing great things with great people.

No Supervision

No Supervision

Imagine a team where everyone works because they are passionate about what they are doing. Where targets are always met. Clients are always happy. And everyone is growing in their career.

That is the kind of team we want to be. We believe this is possible through our team’s values.

Managers cost a lot of money. Managing a team cost a lot of time.

So the question is: Who needs managers?

Answer: People who lack the discipline to work, hit targets and finish things.

In short, people who are not passionate and driven about what they are doing.

We believe that passion should be the core driver of individuals in our team to eliminate the need for supervision. Whether an individual finds passion along the way, or already has the passion for the work to begin with.

It is a core essential of a driven and productive team player.

God Above All

God above All

This company quite literally started with God. It started with a blog about Christianity, dating, philosophy, apologetics, and so on and so forth. A blog that started with extremely few readers.

Stumbling upon SEO changed all that. Not soon after, by God’s great grace, readers came pouring in. Slowly at first, then it became an increasing drip and then grew into a steady stream. I was able to turn it into a service – and then into a business.

But this isn’t the reason why we should put God above all. The real reason is that, even if God didn’t start SEO Hacker with a blog, even if God didn’t even create SEO Hacker, He is still a good God. An awesome God.

And the fact that we’re alive and kicking is reason enough to thank Him.

This value encompasses each and every value we have in ACHTUNG. For most of us, this is where we derive our character, work ethics and the way we treat our teammates. We put a very heavy weight on faith because we believe that not everything in this world stems from knowledge – especially when there are lots of things still not known to mankind today.

Ultimately, without God in the center and core of our company, we would rather not have this company at all.

30Apr/14

Lessons Learned Growing our Startup to $17,000 in Monthly Revenue

thousand-peso-bills
I had nothing but a mere 2,000 pesos in my wallet. I wanted to get rich. I didn’t want to work for money (I wanted money to work for me). And I had a whole ton of ideas. Here’s where I started to try and take SEO Hacker to $50k in monthly revenue.

I wanted to blog.

That’s where it all started.

I took up IT in college but I my heart was set to writing – and what better place to write than in a blog? Where people could immediately see your ideas play out – and even share it out to their peers.

“What do I write about?”

I had the will, but did I have the passion to fuel my writing to last?

So I took a deep look at what I really wanted to do in life – and found it out.

I wanted to write for God.

So with my last 2,000 pesos, I went ahead and bought a 1 gig space of hosting and a domain name: h3sean.com

It would turn out to be God and You – and I would still write there up til today.

Then I realized, a mere 3 people were coming in to visit my blog – me, my mom and my brother.

I needed more traffic

So I searched around and stumbled upon this acronym “SEO.”

What the hell is SEO?

I delved deeper into it. Sooner than later, I was hooked!

I was testing each and everything I could get my hands on to my personal blog – God and You.

But some things I couldn’t test out in my Christian blog, and I needed to document what I was learning anyway – so I started another blog: seo-hacker.com

SEO Hacker was my online journal – where I’d write everything I learned about SEO. At the same time, it was my test bed – I could do any and every test I wanted with it.

But things became more interesting – more and more people started to pay attention to my stuff. SEO Hacker’s traffic grew and grew – and I knew I had something big cooking.

SEO Hacker Early Traffic

The Business Model

I didn’t know any other SEO company during the time – but I knew that SEO is a maintenance thing and not a one-time development. That’s fine because maintenance spells “Security” for me.

So I made my own business model – to charge up on a monthly basis. And sooner than I expected, my first client came along.

It was a $500 per month contract – I was extremely happy about it, especially since I was getting paid less than that for my day job.

My day job entailed 1 and a half hour of commute, paying for lunch and dinner (I was almost always working overtime) for myself, and working 5 days a week.

With my first SEO gig, I could work 3 hours a day, 3 days a week – and all from the comfort of my home.

It just didn’t make sense for me to keep my day job anymore.

The Sales Pitch

Being an employee means you don’t have your own time and you work for a system. Being self-employed means you have your own time and you work for a system. Being a businessman means you own your time and you own a system.

Seeing that my SEO gig could turn into a business, I started to formulate my own system based on the strategies I was using to rank.

It was a measly skeleton system at first – since I was doing the legwork myself.

It wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped with the first client – but it was showing some promise.

So I went ahead and pitched to a second client – I didn’t have any real portfolio, any real professional experience, anything but my blog to show him – but he bit it.

We closed the deal and I made $1,000 per month from the contract.

Sweet!

It was the biggest scuba diving and liveaboard company here in the Philippines.

I applied my system – plus I told him that since I’m the writer too, I’ll need to experience what it’s like to dive.

I got my basic and advanced diver’s license for FREE.

Sean Scuba

I did nothing but dive for weeks! It was a dream job.

And I got paid $1,000 for it.

The system I made is so stupidly simple.

First: Keep writing.

Everyone knows that content is a very important foundation of a website’s SEO. Personally, I think written content is still the best form of content to date. It fattens up your index, it increases your sitemap and it improves your entire website’s keyword density and relevance.

Second: Build Relevant Links.

It doesn’t have to be a guest post! As long as you’re building links consistently – from blogs, directories, forums, heck even social media profiles – it’s going to help! Hell, if you’ve got nothing but just guest post links, it’s still going to be dubious.

Third: Be Real

A real company will have real social media profiles – and use ’em. Make sure the client has a Facebook page, twitter and Google+ page. And make sure that their latest articles are there.

These are some of the strategies I started with. We played with it, tweaked it, and refined it along the way.

I realized I couldn’t handle everything especially when our client base began to grow – so I started hiring people and I imparted this strategy to them.

Up to today, this is still the main three things that our company does for clients – and it works!

Key Takeaway

If you’re starting out your own SEO services company, formulate a system and stick with three stupidly simple strategies – it will make imparting them to the next generation of teammates easier.

 

18Nov/13

To the Tipping Point!

SEO Hacker Outing

I recently finished the book ‘The Tipping Point‘ by Malcolm Gladwell – to give you a little more background about it, it’s a book that talks about what happens before an epidemic and what factors you can affect in order to start or stop one.

I talked with you guys about Critical mass and Residual income before. I finally found out that it is only achieved when your company has ‘tipped’ in a business perspective. Today I bring you good news!

We are on our way.

The foundations are laid. The flags are waiving. We are at the forefront of success! SEO Hacker is a name now known by many – especially those in our industry.

From the highest, most well-funded internet marketing company to the lowest 1 month start-up and freelancers – SEO Hacker is a name that has passed them by once or twice. I still can’t believe how many people approached me at MorCon and in some places I’ve been to.

What else do we need to do?

Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon.com) said: “I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

All we need to do is keep going. Keep doing the right things. Keep hitting our targets. Keep innovating. Keep giving clients what they want. Keep being the thought leaders in our field.

All that and build our brand and team. That’s you and that’s me.

We are the pillars that this great company is going to be built on.

Trust is a Rare Gem

And we are very blessed to have it abundantly here in our team. I leave my door open – nothing gets lost. We pass the ball on to another teammate, we’re confident it gets done.

I know that it has been a tough time getting back your trust after all that has happened after moving here to our new office. I know that I have a fault in all that mess. But please know that not everything that was said is true. More importantly, not everything that was said is helpful.

I can call you fat. It can be true. But I’m pretty darn sure it won’t be helpful.

You have seen my efforts in trying to reach out to each of you. I want to make things better. We all want this to work.

Most of you believe that God led you here. And it’s nothing short of a grand reason and purpose. I believe so too.

I’ve heard a lot of stories of a company gone bad because of its team. I know how blessed I am to have all of you as my team.

One thing you can be sure of. I am the pilot. And I’ll do everything in my power and wisdom and strength to steer and navigate and maintain the plane towards our destination. If our plane crashes somewhere along the way, I will make sure to safely lead you out of the crash before I try to escape the fires myself.

But in all that’s going to happen, be assured that God is completely in control. Whether we do arrive or we crash – He has a great purpose.

And it was one heck of a ride.

Now, here’s the dawn of a new age. It’s the start of our third year together. I see new faces and that means our team chemistry will once again be shaken.

I need you to step up and here are some truths that I want to confront you with today:

Your salary will only go up – meaning there is no way for you to skill down or task down. There can only be one way to stay in the team and to keep your salary: Up. Keep moving up. Innovation is a discipline that you have to take on. You are my forerunners. Everything that you will innovate will mean growth. Your growth and the company’s growth.

Let’s face it – some of you here have been cruising. Happy with the status quo. Milking the cow for what it’s worth. That is never a good thing. You are sitting ducks for the next big thing to shoot down.

The reason why we are moving to content marketing is not because we innovated. It’s because we were cruising too much and we’ve lagged behind – and now we need to catch up. This is something that we do not want to happen again.

We want to be ahead. We want to be the thought leaders. I want all of you to be authorities in your own right. In your own special niche. In your own specific talent and skill. I want the world to know who you are and recognize that you are an all-star player. I want other companies to desire you in their team.

This is my vision for each of you.

I don’t care if it risks me losing you. One thing I ask of you if you get there: Keep your head low. All things that you have achieved is because of three things: Hard work, God and Guts. Always remember to look back and see how far you’ve gone and who helped you out along the way.

Work From Home is a High Discipline Benefit

Work From Home is a company culture I want to keep. As it is, I’m barely seeing all of us in the office together. I do not want to remove this benefit. However there are some of you here that fail to work from home on their scheduled Work from Home days. Or they would work late in the day – but by then we’re all out of office and we cannot coordinate.

Work from home should mean that you are indeed working – from home. On the right office hours that you are scheduled to work in. Make sure that you are available to contact the whole time – and respond!

I will need your dedication and discipline to keep this culture alive.

Vacation Leaves

I think that we have too much vacation leaves for each of us. 15 a year is awesome but it contributes to us not being complete in the office. I barely remember a day and time when we’re all here and there was no special event to celebrate. I’m planning to trim this down to 10 – which is still generous in my honest opinion because we still have sick and emergency leaves as well as work from home to recharge ourselves.

The Maid Experience

It was awesome not having to sweep the floor, clean the CR, cook rice and all that stuff. Now we’ll have to do all these things on our own. I’m glad that we’ve all learned and improved since the Batac days – and this is when you’ll be able to show me that I can finally entrust the office to all of you.

We will help you by setting up reminders in places where we think will be most helpful. Please follow rules and cleaning schedules (when we’ll schedule you) as we are all going to be responsible for our office. Remember that we are a start-up and not a corporation. Trust me when I say that most start-ups don’t have their own office maids.

Make the office a place where you want to work in. We are God’s appointed stewards for this place.

My Wedding Day

I expect all of you to be there. It’s at February 22 (222) next year. Things are going to change – in fact, they already are. And we all feel it. I’ve got tons of extra meetings for wedding suppliers and ninongs and ninangs to take care of as well as house suppliers and check-ups.

I’m going to be living around Scout area at QC which is approximately an hour and a half from here. I’ll try my best to be here at least every Monday for meetings, mentoring and 1 on 1’s.

There is a golden opportunity that will be handed over to you as I transfer to QC. And some of your will grab it. Leaders will spring up. Innovation will improve. Epidemics of hard work and self-imposed projects will start. Some of you here such as John, Marc, Austin and P3 are already laying down the foundations of their websites. I’m very proud of these four for doing so.

That’s not to say that the rest of you are doing any less. Some of you are learning new programming languages everyday. I’m very proud of my brother for trying to go out of his comfort zone to learn mobile responsive codes.

People who bring themselves forward deserve respect.

I will always be your mentor and leader and coach. If there is anything you need help with, I am a doorknock away. And someday perhaps, an email away.

2 Short Years Flew By

I can still vividly recall how we started out just the 3 of us – in that small office in NUR building with all its quirks and limitations.

Even if we are still considered a ‘baby’ as a business in the world’s standards, we had a really good run. Help me help you win. Most importantly, help me help you grow.

Let me leave you with this short verse I came upon in my devotion: “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” – Proverbs 12:1

Love discipline. Love correction. Love God. Take ownership of SEO Hacker as if it is yours.

Because at the end of the day, we are all riding the same plane.

Cheers fellas,

Sean Si

15Apr/13

A Letter to the SEO Hacker Team

Hey guys how are you doing. I’ll be flying to Bacolod today – I hope and pray that you will do mighty well without me. Work hard and well. Get to know each other. Make Angie feel welcome. It would be quite hard for me to watch over you while I’m away.

SEO Hacker HarlemSEO Hacker was registered in DTI April 2011 – had its first office November 2011. We had our first in-house team of three. That’s me, Vince and Rob. I still remember those days in NUR building when we would all be in one table and I would try hard to teach the two of them.

Time flies.

A year and a half later and here we are – 17 strong.

Me, Apple, Vince, Rob, Kevin, Austin, Marc, Khris, Shiro, Che, Uel, Aubrey, P3, John, Angie, Patrick, and Richmond.

Imagine that.

I remember the time when I earnestly prayed to God for a team – a wonderful team who would help me build SEO Hacker as God’s steward. And as the song goes “God gave me you.”

All of you.

In the eyes of the world, we are but a fledgling. Perhaps even unborn. It’s said that it takes 5 years for a start-up to be considered a ‘real business’. We have a looooooooong way to go. Only those who have it in their heart to stay with me until the end will have a shot at what I’m aiming for.

I want to change the world.

The ones who have been with me from the very beginning will reap their reward. Those who have stayed with me for some time will always be valued by people.

I will honor and love all who pass by my way because I know that you have been brought to me by God – nothing happens without Him allowing it to.

I will be committed to understanding you, helping you, being a leader and a teammate to you.

I know that not all of you will stay.

For that, I want you to know that I appreciate all your help in building this work that God has blessed me with.

For those who have it in their heart to stay, I want you to know that I will always remember you and honor your loyalty and commitment in due time.

You are special.

That is why you are in my team.

Whether you stay or leave, I will make sure that the world will be a better place with you around because you have been with me.

At the very least, you will be a better specialist and professional. At the very best, you will be a better man / woman of God with exceptional skills to boot!

A world changer.

I know that things have gotten tough with us – and there will be more rough roads ahead. Being a fledgling in this world of competition means a rough, bloody and costly uphill climb. Only by God’s great grace do we tread along.

You are God’s gift to me.

I will always remember how you came into the team. I will always treasure your first spark of commitment. I will always recall your moments of loyalty. I look forward to the day we’ll have our team pic when each of us is gray and old and able to retire.

And we’ll tell ourselves “We had a good run.”

So this week that I’ll be away, prove me right. Show me that you guys have it. Most of all, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31