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10 Things You Need To Know To Be Successful

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10 Things You Need To Know To Be Successful


Freelancing is often romanticized and seen as an escape from an annoying boss who doesn’t value you.

But often, when people start working for themselves they quickly realize that they ‘quit 9-5 to work 24/7’.

This can have detrimental effects on your self-worth and mental health, but it doesn’t mean freelancing is not worth it.

It can be a fulfilling experience if you get to it with the right mindset.

In this column, you’ll learn SEO freelancing tips that will help you find more (and better) clients, build a sustainable business, and truly love what you do.

But first, let’s take a look at why so many people choose to go freelance.

Pros Of A Freelance Career

I mentioned a few cons of starting an SEO freelancing business above. So now it’s time to balance it out with the pros of this journey.

When you are a freelancer…

You have more control over your time and life.

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You don’t need to ask for permission to go to the dentist during the working day. You can even take a full weekday off, if your projects allow. Your schedule is your own.

Your salary can grow quickly.

Search Engine Journal research shows that 60% of SEO professionals earn the same or more than the U.S. median while working full-time.

But growth is often limited by the years of experience one has plus it’s hard to substantially increase your salary within one company. You would often need to change jobs to get a bigger increase.

But when you’re an SEO freelancer, you don’t need to wait for a ‘3% yearly increase’ in your salary. You can make more faster.

I made my previous full-time job salary within the first year of freelancing, and I more than doubled it in the next year.

That’s not a unique result, there are many other success stories from fellow SEOs who decided to start their freelancing careers.

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Moreover, there’s literally no limit to how much you can make since you can grow your freelancing business into an agency or something else.

Working with clients directly.

It was one of the most important pros for me as I wanted to have a bigger impact on my clients’ success.

You understand your clients better.

Being a business owner, you understand your clients better as you now know more about prioritization and estimating effort vs impact.

It helps you concentrate on the most meaningful recommendations instead of trying to fix all SEO issues.

I started my company two years ago without any business or freelancing experience, so I had to learn everything quickly.

See also  How Can Different Departments Avoid Keyword Cannibalization?

Here are my 10 most valuable tips that I hope will help you get your SEO freelancing business up to speed (and keep you sane while doing it).

1. Talk To Other Freelancers

No matter where you are at, there are people who have already been there. They have experience and insights you can benefit from.

Getting tips from such people can save you months of figuring things out. I’m personally really grateful to Aleyda Solis, Luke Carthy, Andrew Optmisey, Kirsty Hulse, and Troy Fawkes, who were open with me and helped me with their valuable advice.

A few tips on reaching out to people to ask for advice…

Be respectful of their time.

Don’t just DM your list of questions or something vague like ‘please help me.’ If you build relationships instead, people will be happy to help you.

Ask specific questions.

The answers you get depend on the questions you ask. So make sure you ask specific questions that would really move the needle for you.

You’re responsible for your decisions.

You ask people to get help, not to put responsibility for your business on them. So use common sense and see what’s working for you and what’s not.

2. Build Your Online Presence

You can be the best SEO ever. But if nobody knows about it, it’ll be hard to succeed.

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We live in the world of so many voices on social media, and your voice should also be heard.

You can use LinkedIn to build your presence. You can use Twitter, start a newsletter, or do everything at once. The choice is yours.

But trust me, it’s much easier to talk to prospects if you have a great digital footprint.

I started building my LinkedIn and Twitter presence two months before I quit my job. It did help me get first clients and first students into my SEO course.

3. Treat Yourself As A Business

When you start your own business, you are now an accountant, a salesperson, an account manager, a legal department.

And you also pay your taxes (yes, that’s frightening at first).

You need to account for this when pricing your services. It’s not enough to just calculate the hourly rate you had at a day job. You’ll need a few times more to cover all other expenses.

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4. Learn To Price Your Services

Now you know that you’re a business, even if you’re currently the only person working in it.

See also  The Most Successful Marketing Model [Podcast]

The main goal of any business is to make a profit. So the next important thing is to embrace it and stop underselling yourself (it might be easier when you see your first tax bill).

A few tips here:

  • Don’t work for free.
  • Use project-based pricing over hourly billing.
  • Constantly improve and up your prices accordingly.

5. Learn How To Sell

When I started, I heard people saying “you’re not in the business if you can’t sell.” It would make me cringe every time.

I did not want to sell; in fact, I was afraid to do it.

Also, there’s a common misconception that if you’re good at your craft (in SEO in our case), you’ll automatically have many clients lining up to work with you.

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That’s not true. In reality, selling and SEO are completely different skills. And you need them both to succeed.

Everything changed for me when I accepted this truth. I started learning to sell.

I’m not talking about door-to-door sales or sending annoying messages to your contacts on LinkedIn. It’s much more subtle.

Whenever you jump on a call with a potential customer, you’re selling.

Even when you’re just talking or sharing your past wins, you’re selling.

You’re selling ideas, results, yourself as a professional, your agency. Any conversation with a prospect is a sale.

The sooner you understand it, the better.

See also: How SEO Professionals & Agencies Win New Business [Survey Results]

6. Create Processes And Systems

I hear so many people saying that they still don’t have a clear path they follow for an SEO audit or similar repeatable tasks.

It’s okay if you don’t have processes or systems right now. But it’s time to start building them.

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Creating processes will help make your freelancing business more efficient and improve margins. Processes are also valuable for the delegation at later stages if you decide to hire someone else to help you.

You don’t need to create anything fancy. A process can start in the form of a simple checklist that you can expand over time.

Screenshot by author, November 2021

7. Build Assets

When I started my freelancing business, I simultaneously started building a course.

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While I would not recommend everyone doing something big like that (as it’s exhausting), it’s still valuable to start building some kind of assets (for example, an ebook or a paid membership).

I truly believe that selling products in addition to services makes you a much better SEO as you learn a lot of marketing skills.

See also  These 20 A/B Testing Variables Measure Successful Marketing Campaigns

You start seeing audience research differently, learn copywriting, and understand your SEO clients much better.

Moreover, assets bring you passive income and they also keep you busy when there’s not a lot of client work. They can also grow into something bigger in the future – who knows?

8. Set Yourself Up For A Long Journey

Starting a freelancing journey is not easy. You’ll need to figure out many things quickly. It can also be lonely.

All this can lead to constant overworking and issues with mental health.

In fact, according to this poll I did on Twitter, work/life balance is one of the 3 hardest things in freelancing:

Cons of freelancing in SEOScreenshot by author, November 2021

So it’s better to take care of yourself and your work/life balance before it’s too hard to remember who you are in life outside of your business.

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Here are some tips:

  • Have a support group who would cheer you up (your spouse, friends, fellow freelancers).
  • Have a hobby that is not connected to your work (and ideally doesn’t involve a computer, too).
  • Schedule your leisure time.
  • Set clear boundaries with yourself; don’t work 12 hours a day in your pyjamas.

All these small things will ensure you’re running a marathon, not a sprint (yes, it’s an allusion to SEO).

9. Know Your ‘Laws’ And Stick To Them

You can’t work on every type of SEO project out there. You can’t work with all types of clients who come to you.

Trying to help everyone will only burn you out.

Instead, you need to have clarity on what you do (your strengths), how you help (your services), and who you help (types of clients you work with).

A reminder to SEO freelancers.Screenshot by author, November 2021

You will find it hard to say ‘no’ to potential projects at first. But it will pay off in the long run.

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10. Help People Throughout The Way

You’re valuable. No matter where you are in your freelancing journey, you can help someone who is a few steps behind you in something.

You can help in any way that suits you: writing a blog post, tweeting your tip, answering someone’s question in a Slack group, etc.

Just know that your experience matters and one day (very soon) you’ll be the one helping someone who’s just starting.

Final Bricks

Life is too short to stay at a job you don’t like or work on projects you don’t enjoy.

When you open a freelancing journey for yourself, you’ll have no limits.

I believe in you.

2021 SEJ Christmas Countdown:

Featured image: Shutterstock/Harbucks





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Instagram Rolls Out Updates To Live Videos & Remixes

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Instagram Rolls Out Updates To Live Videos & Remixes


Instagram is rolling out updates that will give users a new way to promote their live videos, and more options when it comes to remixing videos.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, announced these updates while reiterating the company’s focus this year is building on video and messaging.

“We’re focused on building for teens and creators, and in the spaces of video and messaging. And these are within those themes.”

Mosseri first hinted at the new direction Instagram is headed in when he proclaimed last summer: “We’re no longer a photo sharing app.”

Instagram is bringing that vision to life this year starting with two updates that are focused on video — both live video and recorded video.

The updates include:

  • Promoting scheduled lives streams with a new banner
  • The ability to remix any video

Let’s take a look at these enhancements and what they can do for you as a creator.

Highlight Scheduled Live Videos On Your Profile

When you schedule a live video on Instagram, you can now highlight it on your main profile page with a new banner.

Mosseri explains:

“Creators have been able to schedule lives for a while now, but now, you can separate scheduling a live from creating a feed post, or even now a story post, about that live. You also get a little badge on your profile that’s lets followers know, or anybody know that goes to your profile, that there’s a Live coming up and they can subscribe to be reminded.”

You can create as many scheduled live videos as you’d like. This gives you the option to promote a livestream that runs every day at the same time, for example.

See also  Why is Apple So Successful? Apple's Machine Learning Strategy & Self Driving Car Project

See an example of what the new banner looks like in the screenshot below:

Screenshot from twitter.com/mosseri, January 2022.

People visiting your profile can tap on the banner to create a reminder for your upcoming live video.

Remix Any Video On Instagram

Users now have the ability to remix any video on Instagram.

A “remix” on Instagram means taking videos published by others and responding to or reinventing them with your own video. It’s similar to TikTok’s video reactions.

In fact, when Instagram first rolled out the remix feature, it was basically a copycat of the reaction videos made popular on TikTok.

Previously, users could only remix the TikTok-inspired Instagram Reels.

Now, users can remix any public video on Instagram whether it’s a Reel or a feed post.

Simply tap the three-dot icon that appears in the top right corner and select “Remix this video.”

Instagram Rolls Out Updates To Live Videos & RemixesScreenshot from twitter.com/alexvoica, January 2022.

Remixing is an opt-in feature, so users can pick and choose which videos they want to allow others to remix.

Source: Adam Mosseri on Twitter


Featured Image: Mehaniq/Shutterstock





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Are SEOs Unwilling To Say “I Don’t Know”?

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Are SEOs Unwilling To Say "I Don't Know"?


Martin Splitt, Google’s Developer Advocate, believes SEO professionals are unwilling to admit when they don’t know something, which causes friction with developers.

This topic came up in a discussion during the latest episode of Google’s SEOs & Devs video series.

Splitt is joined by Jenn Mathews, SEO manager at Github, to discuss how SEO professionals and web developers can better understand and communicate with each other.

One of the ways SEOs and developers can improve their working relationship, Splitt suggests, is if SEOs could more readily admit when they don’t know something.

He says it’s common for developers to say “I don’t know” and be open to learning new things through testing.

However, it’s rare hear those words from an SEO professional, Splitt says.

Why is that?

Mathews shares her insight as an SEO manager and enlightens Splitt to the fact that SEO professionals constantly have to be on the defensive.

SEO Professionals Always Have To Defend Their Work

The work of SEO professionals is constantly being questioned, Mathews explains.

This puts them on the defensive, and saying “I don’t know” will only lead to greater scrutiny.

Mathews states:

“SEOs are constantly questioned, so it gets to a point where we almost kind of get on the defensive. When we’re asked a question, or how is this going to work, or if we do this thing what’s the result going to be, it’s hard for us to say ‘I don’t know’ just for that reason. Because we’re constantly under scrutiny or constantly being questioned.

What I usually tell other SEOs is it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ because [developers] are going to say ‘I don’t know’ too sometimes.”

Or, if you’re not comfortable with saying “I don’t know,” you could suggest testing things together to see what happens.

See also  The Most Successful Marketing Model [Podcast]

Not only will that approach reduce friction between the SEO and the developer, it will help cover both parties down the road if a launch doesn’t work out as expected.

Mathews continues:

“When we do launch things, and they say ‘how come it’s not working,’ instead of us digging in and trying to understand which algorithm is not letting us rank, it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ and ‘let’s try something else and move on.’ But it’s very difficult for SEOs because we are constantly under scrutiny.”

Mathews adds that everyone within an organization scrutinizes the expertise of SEO professionals — from management, to developers, to content writers.

She talks about a time when she was advising a content writer to use a particular keyword so a webpage could rank for that keyword.

Rather than taking her advice, the writer pushed back because they preferred to use a different word. Apparently not understanding the importance of using keywords in copy.

While saying “I don’t know” may lead to a smoother working relationship, it would also help if people within an organization were more trusting of an SEO professional’s expertise.

That’s is just one of many points discussed in Google’s new video, which you can watch below in full:


Featured Image Khosro/Shutterstock





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10 Best Digital Marketing Facebook Groups

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10 Best Digital Marketing Facebook Groups


What makes a good Facebook marketing group?

To find out, I vetted over 35 of them based on the volume of activity in the group, the quality and relevance of the content, and how the admins and members engaged with each other.

Before getting into the list, do remember that many marketing groups require you to answer some simple questions before your request is approved, such as what you hope to get from joining the community.

Here are the 10 best Facebook marketing groups that made the list:

  1. Marketing Solved
  2. SaaS Growth Hacks
  3. CXL — Conversion Optimization, Analytics & Growth
  4. SaaS Products & Marketing
  5. Facebook Ad Hacks
  6. Sisters in SEO
  7. Google SEM Mastermind
  8. Dumb SEO Questions
  9. Local SEO Strategies & Google My Business Help with Tim Kahlert
  10. Superstar SEO

Founder: Kat Sullivan
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: General marketing, social media
Ideal for: Beginners to experienced marketers, founders
Member count:
23.6K
Sign-up link: Facebook

Are you in the social media space? Here’s a community for you to expand your network, grow your social media presence, and learn from some knowledgeable folks.

Founder Kat Sullivan noticed that few Facebook group founders actively engaged with members and sought to fill the gap through Marketing Solved. Its main point of difference is its focus on connecting small-business owners and marketers with useful resources.

From my observations, Kat is generous in sharing her experiences of working with entrepreneurs and brands. She’s also been featured in publications, including Inc., Entrepreneur, and Fast Company—and is the co-founder of social media management tool Tassi.

See also  4 steps to building a successful marketing organization
Kat's FB post about creating content people search for

In turn, members share a myriad of content, such as interesting marketing case studies, invitations to free marketing courses, and questions on entrepreneurship and monetizing online brands.

Group member's FB post asking for advice on putting together their first online course

As with most marketing groups I came across, self-promotions aren’t allowed unless they are on specific threads. These include Instagram Mondays and Pitch & Promote Your Biz (the latter happens at least once a month).

Founder: Aaron Krall
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: Entrepreneurship, general marketing, conversion rate optimization (CRO), growth hacking 
Ideal for: Mid-level to experienced marketers, founders
Member count:
27.4K
Sign-up link: Facebook

Just like Kat’s Marketing Solved, SaaS Growth Hacks was conceived when founder Aaron Krall noticed the lack of a quality community for SaaS founders.

As a SaaS conversion specialist, he’s helped convert expired trial users into paying customers through email nurture campaigns. Today, the Facebook group is an extension of Aaron’s experiences and includes the founders of established tech companies such as Intercom and AdEspresso.

From what I’ve gleaned, its members are happy to share insights on how to start or scale a SaaS business, as well as improve or build better products.

Group member's FB post asking how many subscriptions are required to sell their SaaS tool for $1 million

Other topics of discussion include growth strategies for email marketing and product launches. Considering this, the group is probably better suited to more experienced marketers.

3. CXL — Conversion Optimization, Analytics & Growth

Founder: Peep Laja 
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: Marketing, CRO, growth hacking
Ideal for: Mid-level to experienced marketers
Member count:
15.1K
Sign-up link: Facebook

Peep Laja is a big believer in evidence-based marketing, and he built growth platform ConversionXL (CXL) on this very premise. His Facebook community is just the same: Members are candid in sharing about their failed experiments and frequently run polls or seek advice on analytics, growth, tag managers, and more.

The bulk of discussions revolve around Google Analytics, CRO audits, Google Search Console, as well as recommended marketing reads. You may also stumble upon posts like this one:

Group member's FB post asking for examples of "high-conversion" landing pages

Given the depth of the conversations, you’re bound to learn something new from the sizable community of CRO-focused marketers. Peep also enforces a no-spam, no-link-dumping rule—something I reckon all of us will appreciate.

4. SaaS Products & Marketing

Founder: Tomer Aharon 
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: Marketing, entrepreneurship, social media
Ideal for: Beginners to experienced marketers
Member count:
15.8K
Sign-up link: Facebook

Run by Tomer Aharon—co-founder of software development platform Premio and SaaS product Poptin—this group helps SaaS founders and digital marketers of all levels share knowledge, ideas, and growth hacks.

I’ve found the community to be a helpful one. There are discussions on lead generation methods for SaaS startups, sharings on B2B marketing outreach tactics, as well as brainstorming threads on marketing outreach.

Group member's FB post asking for advice on reaching out to prospects

While promotional posts are allowed, these must be strictly SaaS-related. You’ll also find freelance and full-time job postings for marketing roles on occasion.

Founder: Catherine Howell
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: Marketing, Facebook ads
Ideal for: Mid-level and experienced marketers, agency owners
Member count:
148.8K
Sign-up link: Facebook

This group is ideal for anyone who’s interested in discussing marketing best practices, social media ad campaigns, and management of client relationships (for agencies). While there are many insightful discussions, these can get fairly technical. Thus, having prior marketing knowledge is probably useful.

Group member's FB post about their "Full Funnel Facebook Ads Strategy" that can help scale e-commerce brands

Founder Catherine Howell, who also helms social media agency Eight Loop Social and has been featured in the likes of Entrepreneur and Inc., is just as active in the community as the members.

For instance, she regularly poses questions or relatable memes.

Catherine's FB post asking members what the hardest thing about running FB ads is

If there’s one drawback of Facebook Ad Hacks, it’s the high volume of activity in the group. There are about 28 posts daily, which means questions tend to get washed down or go unanswered. I ultimately opted to turn off notifications for the group and visit it on occasion when I’m in need of advice or inspiration.

Founders: Kari DePhillipsSamantha Pennington 
Group type:
Private
Topics: Marketing, entrepreneurship, SEO
Ideal for: Beginners to experienced marketers, SEOs
Member count: 10K
Sign-up link: Facebook 

Sisters in SEO began in 2018 to support women, minorities, and gender-diverse folks in the tech space.

Its founding story is interesting too: After attending an SEO course by The Content Factory, Samantha Pennington reached out to agency owner Kari DePhillips. The pair soon found common ground in wanting a safe place to share SEO knowledge—and so set up the Facebook group.

Today, the community remains an inclusive and safe space for members to discuss general and technical SEO, career advice or job openings, and recommended SEO tools.

Group member's FB post sharing there's a job opportunity for freelance SEO content writers

The camaraderie is apparent and reminiscent of Women in Tech SEO’s. I also like that there’s plenty of support and encouragement from members, as well as occasional SEO jokes.

Group member's FB post about a light-hearted SEO joke

Founder: Schieler Mew 
Group type:
Private
Topics:
SEM, local SEO, Google Ads
Ideal for: Mid-level to experienced marketers, SEOs, Google Ads specialists
Member count: 56K
Sign-up link: Facebook

This marketing group is a little more niche, with a myriad of questions on redirects, Google Search Console, improving low click-through rates, and more. And there’s plenty to learn, with active engagement of up to 20 quality posts a day.

Founder Schieler Mew is a passionate SEO himself and has the experience to speak for it. After working as an affiliate marketer for tech majors Uber and Lyft, he turned his focus to local SEO to help small businesses thrive.

Today, he’s the co-founder of ServiceLifter.com, a marketing agency that helps home-service companies grow their online presence.

Schieler’s focus on sharing knowledge with Google SEM Mastermind members is clear. Apart from anecdotes and interesting findings, he runs educational polls to help marketers find further growth. There are also moderators who share interesting takeaways with the growing community.

Mike's FB post about link building tips

Founder: Jim Munro
Group type:
Open
Topics: SEO
Ideal for: Beginners to experienced marketers, SEOs
Member count: 15.2K
Sign-up link: Facebook  

With a name like Dumb SEO Questions, joining this group quashes any potential embarrassment about asking, well, dumb SEO questions. After all, this encourages more open discussions among members.

Expect healthy activity of up to seven posts daily, with discussions centering on technical SEO, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.

Group member's FB post asking about adding keyword to domain name and the SEO impact of that

Given how open the community is to marketers of all levels, it’s an excellent space to pick up tips from experts while asking “green” questions without fear of being judged. It’s also nice that the page has a strict policy against self-promotions, ensuring that learnings and discussions are streamlined for members.

Founder Jim Munro maintains an active presence in the group too.

Every month, he compiles questions from the group and takes them to SEO experts like David Rosam and Tim Capper via a livestream session on his YouTube channel. The channel is currently on its 426th episode—that’s some real dedication.

9. Local SEO Strategies & Google My Business Help with Tim Kahlert

Founder: Tim Kahlert
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: SEO, entrepreneurship
Ideal for: Entrepreneurs, founders, business owners
Member count:
36.2K
Sign-up link: Facebook

Ready to learn some solid, local SEO strategies? This group may be a good starting point. As an SEO himself, founder Tim Kahlert faced multiple roadblocks when he got banned from several marketing groups for being overly helpful in responding to members’ questions.

In response, he built the Local SEO Strategies community to further his knowledge-sharing, as well as help businesses drive leads and conversions through local marketing strategies.

The community seems better suited to business owners and entrepreneurs who need basic SEO advice, although there are quite a few marketers who weigh in on discussions too. From what I’ve gathered, many questions are to do with Google My Business profiles, local area pages, ranking better in Google Maps, and SEO.

Group member's FB post about finding the right local SEO expert

To ensure the shared content is kept fresh and relevant, the community disallows the cross-sharing of Facebook posts and YouTube videos. That’s something I quite like, having scrolled past my share of unrelated or tired content in other marketing groups.

Founder: Chris M. Walker 
Group type:
Private
Topics covered: SEO, general marketing
Ideal for: Beginners to experienced marketers, SEOs
Member count:
74.8K
Sign-up link: Facebook

Want to get better at SEO? This Facebook group is built on the power of collective knowledge—with the aim of improving lives by building and growing better products and businesses.

That’s according to founder Chris Walker, whose shift to SEO was out of serendipity. After stints in IT and politics, he fell into affiliate marketing before setting up freelance marketplace Legiit and Superstar SEO.

The latter community comprises a healthy mix of SEOs, marketers, and agency owners. And the content is insightful, no matter your level of experience: discussions span technical SEO, portfolio-building tips, toolset recommendations, and then some.

Group member's FB post asking others for a simplified explanation of what SEOs do

Chris, too, poses SEO-related Q&As and occasional livestream sessions—and often receives positive responses from members.

Chris' FB post asking SEOs what else they do for their clients besides getting them their desired ranking on Google

Overall, I like that fellow members are respectful and generous in offering their thoughts. There’s no such thing as a bad question; rather, it’s all about gaining knowledge as a community.

Final thoughts

It’s far more beneficial to join a handful of quality Facebook groups than every group you stumble upon. Observe, engage, and don’t be afraid to be picky. Also, respect the community guidelines and always keep an open mind!

If you want to further expand your network, we’ve got more this way:

Did I miss anything out? Ping me on Twitter with your thoughts and suggestions.





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