Will Hanke runs an SEO Firm, an SEO firm in St Louis, Missouri. Will was the one of the first people in St Louis to start offering web design services, and has spent more than 15 years helping companies with their digital marketing.
Will, how did you get involved in web design and internet marketing?
Shortly after leaving the Air Force, I got a job working for a government contractor in their IT sector. That exposed me to the Internet, the Yahoo! directory, (Google wasn’t around yet) and building websites. I took a course on HTML and built a website for my church. There were probably only a handful of churches that had a website in 1996, and I used that leverage to start helping local small businesses get their own sites.
In 2004 I accidentally discovered the world of monetization for websites, and I fell in love with marketing. I really enjoy the idea of influencing someone to click a certain thing and watching how people respond to the content you create. This set me on a path to learning and then teaching SEO classes throughout St Louis.
Do you find that your services give local businesses an advantage?
They certainly do. In fact, the economic downturn in 2008-2010 was a great time for me, as suddenly businesses needed to be in front of customers more than ever before. Many of the customers I gained during that period are still with me today.
Businesses still need to be in front of customers, and most of those customers are online, walking around with phones, and seeking information about items they want to buy and services they need.
How has internet marketing changed in the time you’ve been doing it?
There was no social media back then. Blogs were new, and Google didn’t exist. In those days we could stuff keywords into a site and get to the top of Yahoo easily.
Banner ads were big back in the day, too. They were everywhere and ended up causing the trend ‘banner blindness’ that we fight today as advertisers.
Nowadays, getting your business to the top of the search engines takes a lot of time and focus, something most business owners don’t have in high amounts. There is a lot of learning to make sure you do it right and at the same time finding quality SEO experts can be difficult.
How does your business help businesses or retail stores?
The real core of what my business does is driving leads. We do that by ranking your site, getting it more traffic, etc, but at the end of the day its all about generating leads that can turn into revenue.
What makes your agency different from other SEO firms?
Our top differentiator is our years in business. There are new SEO firms popping up all the time. There are websites out there that tout how they can help you shortcut the process, and people are assigning the term ‘SEO expert’ to themselves pretty loosely nowadays. We’ve been doing this for a long time, we know what systems and tactics work, and which ones won’t give you long term advantages.
How do you think SEO will change in the next few years?
I think the gap between the professionals and the fly-by-night wannabes will continue to grow. This could mean a lot more businesses getting hurt by inexperienced marketing ‘experts’ that don’t really know what they’re doing.
I also see voice search continuing to grow as we become more and more used to Alexa and Siri answering our random questions. I think consumers are going to expect more from brands, in shorter time frames, and many won’t be able to keep up.
The brands that understand and adapt will move past slower moving behemoths that refuse to try out newer technology.
Thank you Will for sharing your thoughts!
You can follow up with Will Hanke at https://redcanoemedia.com