Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Harry Sanders, who is the director and founder of StudioHawk, Australias largest SEO agency. He’s also the winner of SEMrush young search professional of the year & last year his agency won SEMrush best agency of the year award.
Harry was first introduced to the world of SEO at 13 after his father fell victim to a dodgy digital marketing agency who promised him the world but ended up delivering very little. He started undertaking the work himself and quickly fell in love with the mix of logic and creativity that SEO brings. This started to rank his father’s business and several other websites he owned, which landed him his first job in the working world at the age of just 14 years old after being offered a role training their team within a digital marketing agency.
He loved the world of SEO but after working in different agencies for 3 years he ended up dissatisfied with how these companies operated, trying to be everything to everyone and stretching the services until they became jacks of all trades but masters of none. So at 17 he decided to go at it alone. StudioHawk was born…
A specialised company focusing on one thing… growing your organic search presence. Nothing more and nothing less.
After growing StudioHawk into what it is today, his new project Hawk Academy is heavily focused on education in the SEO world so that literally anyone can learn the strategies and tactics used by StudioHawk. Welcome to the podcast.
Thank you so much for having me on, buddy. Yes, no problem. And I am super excited to talk to you today about SDL, which I know you are an expert, especially since you got started at the age of 13. I definitely want to hear a little bit more about that. You don’t hear too many 13 year olds talking about it or you don’t have any interest in it, actually. So before we get into this deal, the topic of today wants to tell us a little bit more about your background.
And I really got into it. Yeah.
So like you said in that intro that I got into it when I was 13 and I didn’t come from a lot of family background. I’ve never had any much money to our name. So Dad had a really small business talking 30 grand a year kind of thing. And I mean, everyone knows you get these calls from these digital marketing agencies that just come out of the blue promise the world. And fortunately, my dad didn’t know much about that world and he signed up.
You know, they’re already a lock in contract, no deliverables. And so he was really struggling because he was paying about two grand a month, which might not sound like a lot. But for a business that’s only doing 30 grand, that is a lot.
So he thought I just go to him. No reports, no nothing. And so at the time I was playing a lot of moonscape. How many people remember that game? But 13 playing a lot of moonscape and I think 13th at age Bollon. We think he can pretty much do anything, right? Definitely.
So I wanted to start letting me think that what these guys suck. I can do this and say that was my entry. And like you said, I found that this beautiful balance of creativity and logic. So I got my first job, 14 racked up day one of this agency and my dad’s suit. And you can imagine their reaction. But they gave me the day of training to their credit. And two weeks later, I started there and moved around a couple of companies till I was 17 and started studio hook to super, super exciting.
That was really my entry to the industry. So was fire and Fury straight into the deep and managing teams and stuff. But you know what? I loved it. I really did love it. But it really was one of the things where it probably wasn’t super happy with the way the agency model worked.
Right. Gotcha. And I guess out of that is that’s where you burst your agency kind of thing, where the holes were and then figuring out how you could do it better.
Exactly right. And I think everyone starts out their agency with the absolute best of intentions. And that’s why, you know, which is hard because you say a lot of these full service or not full service, but all these conglomerate agencies, I’ll say, and none of them start out with the intention of not being good. And so that’s a weird thing to learn. And I had to figure out where in the process they went bad. And a lot of the time I found that it was a scaling, scaling Kozel of agencies.
The more things you offer, the more things you do, the harder it is naturally to scale. So from the onset I decided I’d just like this show and I really didn’t have a lot of business acumen. So I said, you know what, I’m not going to do any luck in contracts. I dislike them and I’m just going to do so. And a bunch of people said that was stupid, especially going back six years ago when I probably wasn’t as big of a thing.
But six years later, here we are. I’m still super young, extraordinarily young. I’m twenty three now, the youngest in my agency. I’ve got 30 stuff across here in London and some massive, massive enterprise clients around the world.
Wow. That’s quite a story. That’s the good stuff, man. Hard to believe you’re only twenty three running Australia’s largest as the agencies. That’s impressive. Yeah, definitely. Take my hat off to you and Kudo’s because I know it’s you know, it’s not easy and I know how it is being young, especially in the corporate world, because I’ve been there before. Before I started my company, I was with a consulting firm and kind of the first in a management position.
And I know a lot of times when you’re young and you’re managing others that are a lot older than nervous and they kind of look at you a little funny, and sometimes that’s hard for them to listen because they’re like, you know, what is this guy fresh out of his mother’s house or.
Absolutely. Definitely know how that is. But that’s good stuff. And to have such a focus is also something that I think is very important as well, because, like you said, you dealt with all of these agencies that have promised to offer the world to their clients. And they can basically their whole list of services is almost like a menu at a restaurant where so many things there. But you just got to know from looking at that, you know, they’re really, really only experts in a certain number of those, but they’re just putting their whole catalogue of services because they don’t want to leave any food on the table.
And they’re trying to, you know, they can. But, yeah, it’s difficult to do that if you don’t have the right structure. Right. People involved. I mean, you can’t be expert in everything. So, yeah, it’s really good to be able to focus like you’ve been able to do now, you know, for today, of course, as I mentioned at the top of SDL, which is your of course, your expertise.
I’ve spoken to a lot of different SEO experts as the podcast, as we’ve talked about a whole lot of strategies and things have really changed quite a bit from the days when you were dealing with that company that it approached. Your father was kind of ripping them off and not really providing anything from those days where we are today. It has definitely changed a lot. And I think really one of the main questions is if I’m an e-commerce business, what are the top is your strategies that really I should focus on and that I should really try to implement this year?
Twenty twenty. And as we’re wrapping things up beyond twenty, twenty one and beyond, what are key strategies that you recommend?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean we work a lot of e-commerce like your new balance fresh those kind of big titans and daro like you said, because this is changed in a big way. And the biggest change that’s happened is not so much algorithmic, it’s actually how we see it. This year has become more measurable, more tangible. And that’s important when you look at marketing because people invest so much in AdWords, because I can put a dollar in and say three come out.
But until recently it wasn’t like that, whereas now more and more at ease. I mean, in terms of the question of business strategies, the best strategies right now and what we’re working on with these guys is making sure we have category level descriptions, making sure our product unique in their descriptions, building up back links to things like the home page and trickling them down to categories and products as needed and really figuring out which of the 20 percent of our products that are driving 80 percent of the sales.
So that 80, 20 principal and building them up to make sure we decimate everyone else for them and then bring along the rest of our products for that journey. But the core of what CEO is fundamentally in the ten years I’ve been doing it sounds like a long time, but it hasn’t changed. It’s always been about these three pillars of you on site work your back link acquisitions of other websites linking to you and of course, the search intent. So matching up and making sure your website has what the person is looking for.
And I think that third point people miss a little bit what I forgot along the way, but it’s just as important as ever to make sure that you have what the person is looking for.
Like you said, even though things have changed, Google’s algorithm has changed. And, you know, we can only kind of guess as to what it’s looking for. They only put out so much information with regards to. The quote unquote formula, I guess you can say, so we can only kind of look at just results in and then kind of try to backward engineer what would be a good side and what are some solid strategies. But you write those three core principles I don’t think have ever changed, you know, having to do with content on pages, Theo, and then building.
Yeah. And just the way that I see from even talking to others that I’ve had on those solid principles. Yeah. I don’t really think I’m really going to change too much at all. The bottom line that most a lot of people always forget, people I think are kind of when they hear SVO, they get in the mindset of that they can do certain things to kind of game the system or they can do little tricks and things here. But, you know, it’s not about that.
It’s not really something you can do. I think the main thing I have to always think about is that Google is really all ultimately and all the restrictions are ultimately trying to provide the best possible result to the end user that’s doing those searches and exactly right. You can meet those needs. And yeah, you definitely shine above the rest for sure, 100 percent.
And if you can, just to frame it like that and think like that, that’s one of the big guys are doing. So I can’t tell you a single big brand that I’m working with for nobody that’s working with that is thinking about doing quick wins or shady tactics to get results that was left in the past six to eight years ago. And we talked about that a lot. Yeah. As part of that education platform. And like so many misconceptions that are still lingering around about India.
So many people really just think, you know, this is all things that you can do behind the scenes, the exact kind of game rearranging by putting a keywords on a million times, you know, changing the text color.
Right. Right, exactly. Well, yeah, definitely is not the case, but. Yeah. So with regards to, I guess, any of those three pillars, whether it’s on page as CEO, whether it’s the link building, whether it’s the content creation with regard to Saige, is any any of those what are some different tools that you feel that you use or your go to tools with regards to implementing as your strategies for any of those three pillars?
One tool that always comes to mind is what everyone’s kind of using SMERSH. And that is just it’s awesome for checking your technical Liscio. It’s checking your back length. But more interestingly, it’s got tools about market exploring, which as an e-commerce brand, once you get to that medium sized brand, you want to see what portion of the market you have, what portion of the market there is to be had and what you can acquire. More and more.
I chat to these investors as part of entrepreneurs organization Wipro, and the first thing they pull up when they go to acquire an e-commerce brand is a rush because the one thing you can’t shake, I’ve seen people change their analytics. I’ve seen people cheat. The data that goes out to investors and investors are sick of it. They’re sick of being lied to. So they love pulling up a rush and seeing how much really are they spending on pay. That’s how much really are they getting to get Nicasio because that’s what they’re buying.
Yeah, you really can’t game that system basically, because it is what it is. It’s going to analyze your say. It’s going to analyze your traffic, your activity, your traffic and all of that. And so you can’t really hide behind that. So that’s definitely a great tool. Know there’s, of course, a lot of other tools out there as well. I know here at my company, one of our kind of guilty tools is, is age refs.
What are your thoughts on that? Is that something that you guys utilized as well?
One hundred percent. Yeah, I heard it’s really strong on back length. It’s a really, really strong in the back side. So much is a good tool in one tool. Most specialized in like content and technical reps is all about the back length. So analyzing the links going up. And so one of the other things happening in twenty twenty is this concept of digital PR and we talked about that a lot in a lot of the free models because it is so easy to get traction on things now.
I mean, staggeringly so we’re reaching out to us. Journo’s, as long as you have an interesting story, are interesting angle, you can get covered in all these amazing publications because I need content, right?
Yeah. So that’s one of the things a lot of people miss as well. Gotcha.
Yeah, that is so true. A lot of times I think business is the kind of shy away from going after those opportunities we think of and that my site is not worthy enough authority on it. But they forget that those publications, they got to publish stuff usually on a daily basis. So in order to be able to do that, they’ve got to have a lot of content, got a lot of things to like to talk about. So, yeah, I definitely don’t want to be afraid to approach them no matter where you’re at with your business.
Yeah, they’re looking for that, that kind. For sure, you kind of briefly mentioned some of the different companies that you guys, of course, have worked with there, in your experience with some of the top companies that you’re dealing with right now, with these particular strategies that they’ve used for success, I guess. What are some companies or maybe some well-known companies that our audience may be familiar with that have seen success by just focusing on the core principles?
Well, I don’t know if, you know, in inverter, same forest and graphic river and all those places. Yes, very familiar. So one of our clients, massive success sticking to the fundamentals, strong technical, good roll out of old fixes. The biggest thing they did and what really strengthened them as a brand was content and the content they brought to the table. So whether it’s mix kit, which is one free video, stock tools or theme first, I always made sure to have content on the categories, content in the listings so that you can understand and perceive them.
And that was massive as part of every part of that strategy. And then the link building to cap that of the third pillar was always targeted and even mix between branded homepage and trying as much as we can to utilize strategy to get the category levels where everyone else is trying to push particular products. They were trying to push categories. And that’s interesting because we found more people look the categories than they often do specific products.
Right. Definitely, yeah. That makes sense. And I’m I’m very familiar with those sites. I’ve actually come across several other marketing SEO videos and different webinars and things, and I’ve seen a few where they’ve highlighted them for us. And in Votto, when they’re talking about the excellent kind of creation of and kind of like a model for creating a directory or web directory or a portal where you’re listing a particular type of product and it’s all categorized, you have just a whole category of systemis.
You run on the money with what they’ve done. And I’ve kind of seen this because I remember bit of history a long time and I remember their product progression from how their site has evolved in a lot of it is really just decreased to so much more content in those individual categories. In a way, it’s really kind of cleanly laid out, which really I know it’s definitely helped the ranking tremendously.
Exactly. Yeah. And these things don’t happen by accident. I mean, we’re talking months of years of strategy and working on is how we’re going to roll this out. But you can see the effect I mean, in vatos thing, first of all, those brands are now really well known where they previously weren’t. And the majority of that comes through organic. So it’s massive for them.
Yeah, it just comes down to just the amount of content that they have and how it’s displayed and provided to the. Yeah, exactly right.
But I believe any time you’re doing a search for any, you know, any type of theme, WordPress theme or a particular style of theme or template, they’re going to definitely come up with the results that we call a purposeful content that’s creating content that we know is going to rank because we look at the data and that’s a big trend instead of dividing things.
But looking at what we know people want to see. Right.
That makes sense. And that’s that’s what it’s really all about. You know, as we get ready to wrap things up, one of the main things with SEO and to determine if what you’re doing, you could be following these three pillars, as we discussed. But how do you really know if what you’re doing is even right? And so really, how do you measure the success of all of these as your efforts?
Yeah, well, that’s really the million dollar question. And that’s, like I said, the biggest place where ACA has evolved. So, of course, you can look into things like Google Analytics and look at a channel of organic as an e-commerce. That’s really a great bet to see what’s going on. But if you want to take things a step further, what you can start doing is clustering keywords into groups. So a lot of what we do is we might take a massive brand, take Officeworks, which is a stationary company in Australia, is like a staple the billion dollar company here.
And we group all their products into the different categories. So you’ve got your laptop, your phone, your office equipment, and you can see which category is going up in a two and a half and see how they’re increasing how much by and then start plotting that and measuring that is data point and analytics and actually getting a real tangible value of what’s going on. And it’s a big thing that we talk about, obviously, as we mentioned within this agency for a long time.
But the biggest thing we’re now focused on is that education. And it’s a big thing we talk about in the whole academy. How do you track and how do you measure and how do you implement these different things to see that difference and tangibly measure it. But it is really coming down to like clustering those keywords, looking at Google Analytics, and you can start seeing that. Reaction instantly change reaction to change your reaction sometimes to like a two month delay, that it becomes very easy to measure when you know what you’re looking for.
That’s so true because, you know, a lot of times you can’t if you’re not really measuring things, especially on a timely basis. And I’ve seen this kind of time and time again, not not even even within my own company and in other small businesses that I speak with is that, you know, you could be going down and focusing on one channel, doing one particular strategy, using certain messaging. You could be doing that over a certain period of time.
But if you’re not really effectively measuring what impact that has and what it’s really doing, it’s driving versions. So driving your sales and all of that, if you’re not measuring that, then, yeah, you’re going to end up spending a definitely a lot more money than he anticipated. So it’s one hundred percent. Yes, definitely fundamental. It’s really key that you look at those things or have somebody, of course, either on your team or work.
Of course, for the agencies such as yourself, that, of course, is going to be on top of that to make sure that you really maximize your hard drive for sure. So they’re definitely great, great advice. They’re there. It’s definitely been awesome talking to you. I really appreciate you coming on and definitely enlightened us. And, you know, as we see here, getting into the end of the twenty twenty, by the time this episode goes live, it’ll probably be sometime in November.
We’re probably going to be right in the Black Friday season. So we tend to think about. Yeah, got that to look forward to. It’s a big deal in the e-commerce world and especially this year with this massive global kind of shutdown of so many businesses. It’s really going to be interesting that the final numbers of the final tally as to the amount of money spent online compared to previous years, I’m really excited to see what those numbers are going to be this year.
Going to be interesting, because even though a lot of spending online happening, there’s still, of course, an unfortunate side to it where there’s been a ton of people that are have been left jobless that can afford to buy too much online. You know, we’re kind of caught in the middle dichotomy there where it’s going to be an influx of people online. But at the same time, there’s a lot of people that really just lost everything. So it was really going to be interesting to see how that translates through the end of the year once the totals are in.
But what I’d like to do is always switch gears here with my final question before audience get to know you just a little bit better. So what is one fun fact that you can let our audience know about yourself, that they’ll be interested in hearing you have one fun.
Fact is, I was born with six fingers on hand, so we have a mutation there. I reckon it’s the way forward. OK, but I did unfortunately have the removed OK, but I was just a baby. I have a lot of choice in it, but they go a bit of a random fun fact for you. Next step in evolution.
OK, so yeah, maybe that explains the CEO at the age of 14. The next form of you, Minister. Maybe you never know. But yeah, it’s just and thank you for sharing that because I was thinking about it. If you hadn’t had those removed, I’m just figuring out like how we’re typing on a keyboard, be that accelerate the pace that where that is totally an extra 20 percent.
That would put me up to about one hundred thirty what four minutes shows you have probably still I can imagine, but thanks again for sharing that. And of course, thank you for joining us today. And lastly, I always encourage all of our listeners to reach out to my guests. And if anyone, of course, that’s listening wants to reach out to you and pick your brain any more about audio, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Yeah, so obviously the agency’s called a hawk, but probably the best thing you can do for yourself is learning a little bit more about. So if you are looking to take this platform seriously and that’s where we have HOLC Academy, so get in touch it. Hello. At Academy Dutko, check it out. There’s a bunch of free modules on there. The whole digital payoff thing I spoke about is actually completely free. And there’s a lot of other stuff we talk about there that we use an agency to show you how it’s done from scratch and really get the word out that anyone can do this stuff.
It’s not magic and voodoo now, guys. It is real, measurable science. So get on it. Check it out of the academy. OK, great.
Well, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. And I definitely encourage people to take a look at the academy there. That’s one thing that this kind of whole world now where we’re in, where there’s so much content out here, I think it’s academies and courses like yours that can definitely fall somewhat of a guiding light because it is really difficult to find the right strategies, as you already know. I mean, you can do searches on YouTube and Google all day long about the right tactics, but you don’t know what to trust.
You don’t know by the seven that there is and like that don’t do it and practice that are doing that guides and not practical things that. Yeah, that’s why we did it. And that’s why we made it so crazy cheap. I mean, you get it for like forty bucks. So there’s a higher option at 300. It’s not an expensive course, it’s a really cheap cost. Get people in the industry. OK, that’s great.
And yeah, thank you for sharing that. And yeah, thank you again for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.
I encourage everyone to check out your heart and even the expand and appreciate being on. Always good fun. All right. No problem. Thank you.
Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast.
Director and Founder of StudioHawk