Our personality of the week today is Caroline Wabara a digital marketing consultant and SEO veteran. SEO appears to be a new profession in the digital marketing field in Nigeria with very few experts, although we might have so many people including SEO as part of their skill sets, but those who truly understands SEO and practice it are very few and one of such professional in the industry today is Caroline Wabara.
Enjoy an exclusive E-interview we had with Caroline.
Can We Meet You?
I’m Caroline Wabara, a digital marketing specialist at CarolineWabara.com, with core strengths in content marketing, WordPress design, social media and SEO strategy for small and medium businesses in Nigeria.
How Did You Come About SEO?
I discovered SEO in 2012 when I got a call from a man telling me that he found my website via Google Maps as he just came into Lagos from Bayelsa to hire a website designer to develop his oil company website. I wondered how he found my website on Google maps and recalled that a few weeks earlier, I had set up my business on Google places (now Google My Business) after reading a sales letter written by a renowned online marketer, Ryan Deiss.
Soon after that, I started receiving phone calls from strangers making inquiries about my services. Next, I noticed that some digital agencies were ranking high on Google search results and mine was nowhere to be found, so I started reading articles about SEO on popular blogs such as; Moz, Mashable, Search Engine Journal, etc. and applied the strategies on my blog, by 2013 my website shot up to first page of Google for my target keyword phrases.
When Did You Start SEO As a Profession?
That was in 2012, after the redesign of Chibyke Global website, I brainstormed extra services that would add value to his business. While researching his competitors online, I noticed that they were spending loads of dollars on Google AdWords but weren’t blogging. So I suggested the idea of turning his website into an information hub for all things freight forwarding in Nigeria which he agreed.
I wrote articles on his blog using questions found on Nairaland and Quora to educate his audience; applied every latest SEO strategy I read online, fleshed out his landing pages with adequate information, and shared the links on his social media channels. The results were amazing! International Freight experts ranked his website amongst top 50 authority websites on freight and logistics. Individuals and companies started visiting his website via Google search for information and inquiries. Along the line, people asked him who was behind the success of his website and he gladly referred them to me. That’s how my SEO career started.
What are Your Major Challenges?
My major challenges were convincing people to invest in SEO. Lots of business owners are impatient with SEO because it’s a long-term strategy that needs a lot of patience, technical know-how, money, and content. They don’t have that time, so they prefer to spend money on adverts in order to meet their short term goals.
How Important Is SEO To E-commerce In Nigeria?
SEO is very important because according to Alexa.com, Google is the most visited website in Nigeria and according to Nigerian Communications Commission; there are 97.21 million active mobile internet users in Nigeria. Most Nigerians begin their purchase journey by typing buyer’s intent keyword phrases into Google.com. So if your e-commerce website can’t be found on the first page, that’s a whole lot of money lost to your smarter competitors every single day.
Apart From E-commerce What Other Industry Or Sector Needs SEO?
Every industry, be it entertainment, plumbing, law firm, financial institution or your personal brand. So long as there is a hungry market for the products or services you offer and you own a website, you need to make the extra effort to optimize your website so that your ideal audience can find you, trust you and buy from you.
What Company Or Website In Nigeria Do You Think Is Really Getting It Right With Respect To SEO?
DealDey, Konga, Jumia, and Nairaland are everywhere on Google. So they are doing it really well.
At What Point Did You Decide You Want To Take a Profession In Digital Marketing?
That was in 2008 while I was doing my masters’ degree in Educational Administration at the University of Lagos. I was glancing at newspaper headlines at a newsstand when the vendor handed me a copy of a business magazine called Success Digest, saying “Take this home with you; it might change your life.”
I took that paper home and read all the business opportunities in it, but what caught my attention was website design and online marketing which was new in Nigeria at the time.
Back then, I loved spending time at the cyber café chatting with unknown friends on Yahoo chat room, so I decided to use that time at the café to learn everything I needed to know about online marketing and attended website design seminars.
My ‘aha’ moment came in 2009 when I stumbled on a blog post on SitePoint titled ‘Recession Survival: 9 Ways To Make More Money As A Web Designer.’ That article marked the beginning of my journey into Digital Marketing. I started knocking on doors and pitching these strange services at the time to business owners.
Some laughed while others kindly told me they were fine with printing and distributing flyers. When I saw that cold calling wasn’t working for me, I had to change my strategy and took my ‘evangelism’ online. I registered my domain name using my personal name in 2010, created my blog and started blogging about digital marketing and sharing on social media. One prospect got convinced and entered a long-term business relationship with me. That very first client was Chibyke Global.
How Long Have You Been Practicing SEO and What are Your Major Successes?
I’ve been practicing SEO for 3 years now. My major successes are Chibyke Global – an air freight forwarding company. Another is Simple interiors – an interior design school and firm – that went from the third page to front page in three months. The last worthy of mention is Nutrichem.com.ng – a food preservative and bakery supply company.
Would you Say The Digital Marketing Field is Becoming Crowded Already?
I don’t think so because digital marketing is broad with several branches underneath. So one can choose to specialize in Content Marketing or cater to clients in a specific niche. So the opportunities are endless.
What is Your Advice to Young Entrepreneurs In The Field of Digital Marketing?
My advice is that they should be their own first clients. Start by creating your own website to practice and test every idea, strategy or tool on it to see if it works before applying on your client’s website. Also, remember to keep up with the trend and learn from the best in the industry by not just reading their newsletters, blogs, case studies, social media updates, but doing what they do to get results.
Thank you very much, Caroline, we really appreciate the time you spent in answering our questions.
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