Serpwizz

SERPWizz Interviews

Troy Fawkes

Delta Growth Agency

One of two founders of Delta Growth, a 14-person digital marketing agency, Troy Fawkes’ background in strategy, sales, marketing, management, and education gives him a unique perspective on managing modern leadership challenges.

Check out Troy’s: Website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Email

What are some of the biggest challenges/obstacles you faced when starting out with SEO, and why?

SEO has been and continues to be a technically grounded profession akin to programming. Its definition is very broad compared to other specializations, frequently including specialist knowledge of Content SEO, Technical SEO, Authority Building (essentially PR), Local SEO, Analytics / Tag Management, and others. Beyond other specializations it also requires engaging with execution teams such as copywriters, designers, developers, PR and CSR specialists to fully build, understand and execute tactics.
My biggest challenge was getting my head around this massive scope of a profession, and my second biggest challenge was that finding a trust-worthy mentor or method of learning all of this that aligned with what I saw was the future of SEO, namely usertargeted, executional and priority-based marketing rather than trying to trick / keep up with the whims of search engines.

Tell us about your favourite/most successful link-building strategy - how quickly do you typically see results from this method?

Regularly guest posting for influencial industry publications. For example, finding the top 5 most influential people in adjacent markets (people who share your users but don’t compete directly) and writing for at least one of them on a regular basis. To build up to this you need to create a relationship with that person or publication first. To do this I really like using round ups, “one question interviews” where you get a number of influencers to answer a single question in one article, and one on one interviews where you ask 5-10 tailored questions to one particular influencer.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

First off, this happens regularly to me and every person I know who others look up to. We recover, but we also make mistakes and have awful days, weeks and months. This is a symptom of a greater challenge that you’re facing, not a failing in and of itself.
“Showing up” right now is a big deal and if you’re doing it today I salute you, and if you’re not it’s not a reflection of who you are.
That having been said, I’ve developed a list of things that make and keep me happy. I look at this once in a while when I’m down and it helps me out.
– Ensuring I have regular weekly plans (pandemic killed this, but social dancing, rock climbing, spending time with friends, whatever it is).
– Mornings off social media and an hour to think without distraction. Other than maybe a coffee. This can be daily, weekly, or whenever. My most relaxing version of this was previously at a coffee shop with a pen and notebook. Even sitting on the subway to work I’ve pulled out a pen and paper and just sat and thought, and felt relaxed and motivated.
– Exercise or meditation. My favourite way to trick this into my day is adding a trigger, so for example, “after every call I’m going to do X number of push ups, sit ups, squats, dips, or whatever.” It doesn’t need to be a challenging regimen, just something to get
you up and out.
– Walks. A quick 5-10 minute walk around the block, if I’m at the office or at home, is fantastic.

How do you choose who to reach out to/partner with? Where do you find them, and what approach do you take when reaching out?

If you’re one of these people, feel free to reach out to me. Use “Potato Salad” in your subject line so I don’t mark it as spam! Delta Growth is a digital marketing agency that ONLY does SEO, media management and CRO. We don’t do develepment (1), design (2), copywriting (3), CMS management (4), and lots of other things. We especially want to partner with agencies who can do these things for fair prices and at a high quality. Our clients frequently need ad hoc, repeated monthly effort in these spaces and range from sole proprietors to international enterprises. We don’t white label, we don’t mark up, and we don’t take referral commissions.
We refer you once, watch very closely, ask our clients lots of questions, even take a look at your invoices and work completed, and then you’re either in or out of our referral list.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

This almost always has to do with lacking a grasp on reality or business interest. For example, pitching a website rebuild at $50k to a sole proprietor making $100k per year mostly through referrals. If that website is actually built, is it going to make them
that much more money? Using which metrics? And even then, I can find you a company that’ll make you a passable albeit more cookie-cutter site for $5-15k that’s totally passable until your revenues are high enough that you can afford and need an amazing website.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Constantly doubling down on practical empathy and communication as an employer / manager. Essentially my business is more about the people on my team and how they’re treated than about anything else

What do you think about link swaps?

If what you’re doing is beneficial for your users, it’s totally fine. For example, identifying trustworthy partners or vendors and swapping links with them means that you have an “Our Vendors” page with links out to people you’ve vetted and trust. They have a similar page pointing back at you. That’s very reasonable and very usercentric, so I support that direction. I also think Media need to have do-follow links out to their expert sources or search engines should just force “do-follow” on sites that are essentially doing lazy editing or link sculpting. Support local businesses, especially if you think they’re experts!

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

I originally hired a junior specialist as my first employee, and it was a huge disservice to her as I couldn’t manage her effectively and she couldn’t realistically work on my enterprise consulting roster. I started hiring senior specialists first, and that was by far the best investment I’ve ever made even though I couldn’t pay myself at all for a year. Agency owners, business owners, don’t hire juniors first.

Describe your most effective SEO campaign ever. What made it so successful, and why?

With Maple Online Doctors we built their SEO practice from the ground up, going from no content on the site to hundreds of pages targeting various user intents. They’re now one of the leading telehealth companies in Canada, and the relationship between
our teams has helped drive successful marketing execution and growth. We’re pivoting into an even more user-centric approach this year which I’m excited about!
I think it’s important to note that SEO is not about retaining the status quo–no client should be floating around 0% year over year growth or, worse, declining. But building a new company in a new industry up in three years to a market leading position is definitely something our team is proud of.

Tell us one thing about SEO that most people don't know?

SEO is traditional marketing, for the web. There is no such thing as “SEO Content,” just content that has been prioritized and given recommendations by an SEO specialist, who is essentially just reviewing market and competitor data to customize the content to that audience.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?

Make Mental Health Care Publicly Funded. Or something like that. The pandemic has really taught us that mental health is just as if not more important than the health of our bodies. I’m happy to pay more in taxes to get people the help that they need, and invest in normalizing good mental health.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their SEO service provider journey? What advice should they ignore?

If you haven’t worked in an agency or under the management of a senior SEO specialist in some way, wait, and do that first. You can (albeit not always) handicap your skills to the tune of years if you try to reinvent the wheel. If you get feedback and training for a year or two you’ll have super charged your journey.

Tell us about your business. What does it do and what value do you add?

Delta Growth is a digital marketing agency focusing on SEO, Media Management and CRO that is an engineer rather than an artist. We use Scrum, only work on properly defined and scoped tasks, hire project managers, and plan our weekly sprints out on Thursdays. This means that while another agency might give a recommendation and then lose track of it, we get it done.
We have a 6 hour work day, so despite charging industry- standard hourly rates our team is bright eyed and bushy tailed when they’re working on your project, more than even your full time employees.
We work with all industries and business sizes, so you’re getting strategy and insights fresh off the cooker in a neighbouring industry that yours hasn’t even tried yet, and a measured approach to tactics and deliverables that’s informed by the quality of
enterprise work as well as the requirements of a snappy, rapid start up with low
budgets.

Author

Heather Wilkinson is a globe-trotting content creator and PR enthusiast who’s finally put down roots in her native UK. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her pretending to care about Minecraft for her son’s sake, while secretly reading the latest Ace Atkins novel (or sleeping – her second favourite past-time).