Monday, December 4, 2023

How AI has helped us to do the work of 20 people with just 2 people

IsharaShehan Consultancy helps businesses to move forward using advanced SEO tactics and industry best practices that increase brand visibility and generate more sales/leads. With several global clients under its portfolio, the company works to international standards, to offer the best possible service. The Founder of IsharaShehan Consultancy, Ishara Shehan Silva, who is an international SEO consultant and corporate trainer, spoke on how the company has advanced over the past few years and what makes them different.

He shared his experience and knowledge on what companies can do in the current situation that is prevalent in Sri Lanka and globally, to move ahead even during trying times.

What was it like to win the Best SEO/SEM Campaign Award at the SLIM DIGIS?

It was certainly a great achievement and honour for the company. The award was won for the excellent work done for this client, where the company was able to bring the results that were simply off the charts, and this was during a time when Covid-19 was hitting most organisations in a big way. Irrespective of the economic environment, the company achieved much more than it set out to achieve. It is a great motivating factor for everyone to have been recognised with this award for the efforts that were put in.

What makes the company different in the industry?

It’s not just another digital marketing agency; we are a company specializing in only search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO). We do not want to be a jack of all trades, but only want to focus on SEO and master that domain to give better results to clients. Under SEO services, we provide E-commerce SEO, YouTube SEO, Technical SEO, SEO Training, SEO Audits and Conversion Rate optimization.

Even when hiring people to the company, we hire those with years of experience in their specific area of expertise. This has helped us to work on a more corporate level and on big projects with less hassle which produce better results.

Besides this, we use the latest technology and AI tools to speed up our work. These tools help us to achieve the work of 20 people with just 2 people! Because of this, we have more time to focus on our clients and build a relationship with them, rather than just following a predefined process. We believe that it is important to have a good relationship with the client while giving the expected results.

Most importantly the client and staff retention rates are high; 75% of the clients are those who have been working with us for more than three years. The staff retention is also high since 90% of them have been in the company for more than three years.

How beneficial is the use of AI for the company?

Something that we always believe is that we should be five years ahead of the competition. We have been working mainly with overseas clients to deliver high-quality work and match up to international standards, if not we won’t be able to meet the requirements.

We use some of the world’s best AI tools to automate monitoring backlinks, rank tracking, monitoring site changes, auditing sites and pages, backlinks suggestions, competitor analysis, etc. This saves our specialists a lot of time since most of this information comes to the inboxes automatically. We also use AI tools for keyword clustering, to find semantic keywords and keywords cannibalization, etc.

These days we are working on creating more cost-effective SEO automation in-house. Once it works out after testing from our end, we will consider marketing these automation tools to other agencies, so that they too can reap the benefit of lower costs and greater efficiency when it comes to tools and technology.

What kind of areas does the company specialize in?

The majority of our projects and clients are in e-Commerce businesses and almost all the projects have been highly successful up to now. The reason for our success is that we come up with unique e-Commerce SEO Strategies and approaches that suit individual client needs, rather than a standard SEO strategy and approach for all.

Most agencies in Sri Lanka, go with a standard approach and do not consider too much of an SEO + CRO approach, which we feel is very important. In our case, we provide an SEO solution aligning with CRO, which will impact the bottom line of the business, which is one of the most important results to a business owner.

In addition, we look into website architecture and work on many technical SEO activities, from basic to advanced techniques, to improve the crawlability and user experience of the website. We always come up with custom reports on ROI from SEO activities, according to the client’s needs. Because at the end of the day, as mentioned earlier, what matters most to a business is the sales/revenue we bring, not traffic.

Most agencies and specialists believe that bringing in more traffic will increase sales and revenue, but in most cases, this is not true. For example, imagine if you have a conversion rate of only 2% of your overall traffic, this means that even if you bring more traffic, there is a good chance your conversion rate will not improve but will remain constant. This is why we always go with a CRO-based solution to make sure your conversion rate is also improving alongside improved traffic.

What is it like working in overseas markets and what challenges does the company face?

We have a few direct overseas clients, in addition to carrying out white label SEO for some top agencies based in Australia, Singapore, USA and UK.

The main challenge when providing SEO services on an international level is to identify the search engine behaviour of the country or geo location and come up with a unique SEO strategy accordingly. As an example, compared to Australia, optimizing for Sri Lanka is very easy, but if you compare Australia with USA search behaviour, optimizing for Australia is much easier than the USA.

In addition to this, project communication and documentation are also highly important when it comes to overseas projects. We find that most agencies in Sri Lanka lack proper communication, and most of the time they are not transparent either. However, if you work with an overseas client, transparency and communication are both equally important. We use globally recognised project management tools for this since they are fully transparent communication platforms.

As an award-winning SEO agency, your advice for other agencies and up-and-coming SEO specialists in Sri Lanka?

As a consultant and trainer, I have got the chance to move closely with lots of agencies and specialists in Sri Lanka and overseas. In addition, over my career, I have been lucky enough to experience both sides of the coin; being able to work on both the client side where I have taken SEO services, as well as the agency

side where I have provided services. So, I understand both sides of the same coin, the client’s side and the service providers’ side. This places the company in a unique position where we understand every single aspect of providing a service such as this to a client.

My advice to anyone in this industry is, to be honest with the client. SEO is an industry where you can’t guarantee results, therefore it’s always better, to be honest with the client, rather than giving them false promises. Clients value honesty and ethics more than anything else.

Another major problem is client communication and being transparent, as mentioned earlier. Several projects came to us after breaking away from one of the leading digital marketing agencies here, due to their poor communication and project management skills. It is important to remember that the client is paying a fee for services and the company should be accountable for its investment. In addition, they have every right to know what you’re doing for the money they are paying you, and you should be able to communicate the activities and performance to the client in simple English. Do not use too much jargon and technical terms, because they won’t understand you.

The other factor is to prove yourself with the results you bring. This is especially important when you’re selling SEO services. You must ensure your website is having good rankings first. We have seen some top agencies going with Google ads for SEO services etc, but their website is not even among the top 10 search results. First, optimize your website and be on top; that is the best way to build credibility. If you can’t optimize your website, how can you do your client’s website?

SEO is a very broad subject and every day there will be something new to learn. Keep learning and experiment a lot and try new techniques to succeed in this industry. For professionals in the industry, it is recommended that they spend at least one hour per day reading up on the latest updates and news so that they know what is going on and can apply it to their work. If you are someone who doesn’t like to keep changing the way they do things, then it’s better not to get into this industry.

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