Communicate – Method and Metric SEO Agency

Episode graphic for "An Agency Story" podcast with Jesse Ringer - title Communicate - Hosted by Russel Dubree - picture of Jesse in the lower right corner smiling.
Methodometrics is Jesse's area of expertise. He shares insights on how artificial intelligence, specifically chat GPT, can improve content creation and streamline work processes. Jesse also talks about the challenges he faced and how he integrated staying informed with news and articles into the fabric of his business. This approach allowed his team to stay ahead and adapt to changes in the industry.

Company: Method and Metric SEO Agency

Owners: Jesse Ringer

Year Started: 2017

Employees: 1 – 10

In this podcast episode, host Russel interviews Jesse Ringer, the founder of Method and Metric SEO Agency.   

Russel and Jesse delve into the main topic of the podcast, discussing Methodometric, which is Jesse’s area of expertise. Russel asks Jesse to explain what Methodometric does and who their target audience is. Jesse shares insights about using artificial intelligence, specifically chat GPT, to optimize content creation and streamline work processes. He also mentions how staying updated with industry news is crucial for businesses’ growth and evolution.  

Russel shows interest in Jesse’s journey from being an individual contributor to running an agency, prompting Jesse to share his experience. Jesse talks about the challenges he faced and how he integrated staying informed with news and articles into the fabric of his business. This approach allowed his team to stay ahead and adapt to changes in the industry.  

Russel then asks Jesse about the one piece of advice he would give himself before starting the agency. Jesse reflects on the question and suggests that he would advise himself to focus on the power of storytelling in sales, emphasizing the importance of creating a connection with potential clients.  

Enjoy the story.

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Show Transcript

Welcome to An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. From the excitement of starting up the first big sale, passion, doubt, fear, freedom, and the emotional rollercoaster of growth, hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach. Enjoy the next agency story. Welcome to An Agency Story podcast. I’m your host Russel. On this episode, we have Jesse Ringer, founder of Method and Metric, an SEO agency based in Vancouver, Canada. When asked about the one piece of advice he would give himself before starting the agency, Jesse said he would focus on the power of storytelling in sales. From cool little tactics, like how he integrated staying up-to-date on the latest trends into the fabric of his business, Jesse shares how challenges and triumphs in the agency biz can often be solved in small and creative, but effective ways. Enjoy the story.

Russel: 

Welcome to the show today, everyone. I have Jesse Ringer with Method and Metric. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Jesse.

Jesse: 

Hey Russel. Thanks for having me.

Russel: 

My pleasure. All the way from up in Canada, but if you don’t mind, start us off. Tell us what Method and Metric does and who do you do it for?

Jesse: 

Method and Metric, we’re an SEO agency focused on helping businesses improve their visibility in Google’s search results. That involves a lot of support with analytics work, goal tracking, event tracking, as well as conversion rate optimization and content as well. Ultimately we’re helping to market your website better, help generate more organic traffic so that your business can generate more leads and more revenue.

Russel: 

What every business needs. Want to hear more about all that, but if you don’t mind take us back in time. What did young Jesse want to be when he grew up?

Jesse: 

I think the quintessential Canadian response here is a hockey player, but at an early age, I realized I did not like getting hit and I was relatively small growing up. Those were two things that didn’t go in my favor. As I got into high school, it definitely gravitated towards marketing. I remember even doing a book report on how to be an entrepreneur, so it was always something I had thought about, but I think realistically marketing and advertising was always something I wanted to be doing.

Russel: 

What did your career start out like before you got into the agency business?

Jesse: 

I did a bit of copywriting work, doing the odd marketing coordinator role with some smaller companies here and there, mostly here based in Vancouver. But it was shortly after the 2008 financial crisis and finding steady employment, companies weren’t hiring the same way that they used to be. I was looking at consulting work and a couple of friends had asked me to help manage their websites from an SEO perspective. They knew I could do writing and do that kind of work. I did take a bit of courses on search engine optimization, as well as digital marketing as a whole. Yeah, it led from there. I got my start doing consulting work and one thing led to another, snowballed from there.

Russel: 

Wow. Turned a bad job and economic situation into a business that’s obviously been going for a good long while and going strong. Had a nice natural segue into the business. Was it all up and to the right in terms of success or what were the first few months like? How was the business going for you?

Jesse: 

Oh man. To be fair, when I moved from being a consultant to an agency, we were fortunate enough to have some great clients that continued on with us, so we weren’t starting from ground zero. But I would say there was a ton of growing pains around changing our mindset from being a freelance consultant to an agency with a lot of different moving parts. It is never up and to the right, it is like up and down and backwards and, eventually the progress gets made but I’d say that it definitely is not a linear progression for sure.

Russel: 

I assumed as much, as is the case with pretty much all agency owners I talk to. You never know. There might be the picture perfect story out there.

Jesse: 

Not us, but thank you.

Russel: 

You started out SEO or even how did your service offering evolve or not evolve? Have you stayed pretty consistent over the years?

Jesse: 

Our SEO process was always rooted in focusing on the things that we could control on a website. Content, the pages, the site architecture. That whole experience of where forms are on the page, the messaging for the calls to action and things like that. That has always been at the center of everything that we do because our agency is purely data driven in that we’re looking at the analytics of every website that we work with and their competitors and figuring out where they fit in the search market, but also in the broader market of their industry. We’re always very much spending time in those two things. What has evolved was being able to take that traffic that we’re getting to the website and converting them into customers or leads. A lot of SEO agencies will deal in getting keyword rankings and getting traffic to the website, but if that traffic isn’t the right kind of traffic, it doesn’t help your business at the end of the day. That was something that we always found was missing in our initial SEO work was that gap between, okay, you’re ranked number one for this keyword, but did it contribute to, X, Y, Z, to your sales, to your business, whatever? That’s definitely evolved. Nowadays with content and AI being so important and at the forefront of most marketing strategies and most conversations around it these days, we’re doing a lot of writing, a lot of creating of figuring out the right messaging and tone that also aligns with what Google wants to see from a website. The last point there too is the technical parts of your website, if it’s not working well and Google can’t read the content and understand what your website is about, all the good content in the world isn’t going to save it. We do a lot of work now on the technical front of things to ensure that the website is communicating well with Google and the other search engines.

Russel: 

You’re saying results actually matter, is what I heard there.

Jesse: 

That’s what you got from all that? Yeah. Results do matter. At the end of the day, we’re being paid to do this work and if we can’t show that the work is improving their business, we’re not going to last very long as an agency.

Russel: 

You mentioned a hot button topic in today’s world in terms of AI. Obviously I imagine you’ve found ways to integrate that into your business, but what does that look like for you? How do you feel like it’s going to affect the future of your business?

Jesse: 

As it stands for us right now, we use it as a jumping off point for ideas and concepts. We’ve test drove blog articles from it, and we’ve test driven email campaigns and things like that, but at the end of the day, it’s pulling from a massive database of content and it’s going to be extremely generic and it’s hard to create something from a database that is going to be wholly unique. Although there is value in streamlining a lot of tedious things like describing images or writing product descriptions, those kinds of things can certainly be taken on by AI with some adult human intervention or monitoring. For the most part it still requires us to do a lot of the looking and inspecting to make sure that the search terms or the content actually aligns with the brands we’re working with. How I think it’s going to evolve into the future, I think there’s going to still be a need for humans. Obviously I’m betting on that part with having an agency, but I think that AI will work as a tool. It’ll serve people in the way that software does now. Everyone has software for tracking or sharing their social media content or scheduling emails and things like that and I think AI will help improve those kinds of things and help improve our processes, but not take over for them.

Russel: 

I kind of end up in the same boat. I’ve participated in a few discussions lately and there’s a lot of angst about it, obviously, but that seems to be everybody’s net takeaway. Streamline and optimize some things, but at the end of the day, we’re not replacing humans or at least a certain level of humanity. Your net takeaway on it, is this something you’re excited about? Or is it something like, you’re right, I’ve got to deal with it, I’ve got to manage it, so we’ll do so accordingly?

Jesse: 

Both. It depends on my day. There’s some days where I’m like, whoo, this is too much but other days, I’m like, that saved me a ton of time. One example, a client had written 27 pages of content for a four email campaign, and rather than trying to synthesize that into digestible content for an email, I put it into ChatGPT and asked it to turn these four messages into three sentences and we optimized it for his brand, but it certainly accelerated a ton of our work. For that, there’s a ton of optimism, and I think anytime that we can get away from doing tedious things and spend our time on the big thinking and the strategic components that actually help businesses, I think that’s a net win for everybody.

Russel: 

It gave me some shudders thinking back to some old, larger websites we worked on that had tons and tons of content. If only we had AI back then that would have saved me many late hours trying to put all that content in place and make it semi digestible. Obviously your field is constantly changing, evolving, as you already mentioned, following the Google monster around and making sure you’re keeping it happy. How have you been able to not only run your business, but stay on top of those trends?

Jesse: 

I’d say now, keeping up with the trends is second nature, and it’s more of my entire life than it is just my agency. I interact with Google every day, and I imagine a lot of people listening to this probably do too. Those things have implications for myself as well as for businesses and things like that. It’s second nature at this point, and to your point of, how do I run the agency as well? My team stays on top of these trends, too. They’re looking at what other agencies are doing, what other creators and marketers are doing as well. They’re listening and watching public news, but also industry news, too, to see how things are evolving, and get a sense of what our next steps are.

Russel: 

Did that come naturally? As you said, you ran into some challenges being the guy to moving into agency and having a team. Maybe share a little bit about that journey and how you embedded that into the fabric of your actual business.

Jesse: 

That’s a great question. When I first got started as a consultant it was like within a week of Google’s big Penguin update, where they abolished all the spammy content rules and stuff and the clients I was working with, I couldn’t articulate why their website suddenly tanked. Twitter was actually the place that I discovered Google had released this algorithm update and all that kind of stuff. in my day to day, I was going on Twitter and seeing what was new and going into the agency world side of it. I assumed everyone did this, everyone paid attention to what was going on in their industry to understand what was going on and what new tactics people are trying. That was something I assumed everyone did it so I didn’t push hard on it. After a few miscues, problems that could have been avoided and generally they turned into opportunities. They started sharing new articles with the team. I have other people that are subscribed to newsletters and they’ll share the things that they find in the shared Slack channel so everyone is on pace. Now too, in our weekly meetings and stuff, we’ll bring up any news outside of our space that has crept up, things to do with Google or analytics or even things like GDPR in the UK or like in Canada right now, we’re passing a bill that will require Google to pay news outlets to show their content in the search results. Being on top of those things because those will impact our clients, things like that will start to trickle down into other areas of the search results. Get everyone on board to do that regularly so that we don’t miss opportunities before they happen and the clients don’t have to be like, hey, what happened here? It’s been a part of our way to stay ahead of everything.

Russel: 

As you look back on your journey this far, obviously you were born out of the last economic downturn and I imagine lots of other events have gone on since then. What are you most proud of in your time as an agency owner so far?

Jesse: 

Man, this is one thing that I think we’ve talked about before. I struggle with remembering the good things that we’ve done, because once you accomplish something, the next goal becomes clear and you need to move to that. I would say one thing that I’m particularly proud of is one, hitting the five year mark. They say most businesses fail in the first five years and we’re now in our seventh year as an agency. The other is my people. The team I have right now are so good and so talented and make my life a lot easier and make the work a lot better. Those two things, are big accomplishments when I look back on it, for sure.

Russel: 

That they are. You’ve got some experience under your belt at this point. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice before you started the agency, what would that be?

Jesse: 

How much time do you have?

Russel: 

We got a lot of time. We might have to edit it down.

Jesse: 

You’ll edit it all out, it’ll be one bullet point. The one thing that I still have to remind myself to do too, but has been such a blessing, is outsource it. If you’re not good at it, don’t waste your time trying to get good at it, hire someone. It’ll make things a lot better. On the flip side of that, say no when something isn’t a good fit for your team. The number of times I’ve agreed to do something for a client thinking it would be helpful and serve us well too, ends up backfiring and we look sloppy. Definitely those two things right there. Know your limits and be steadfast about adhering to them.

Russel: 

I imagine there’s a lot of business owners that would probably follow those same words of advice, going back to, if they only knew before. Even similar in my own boat, right? It wasn’t until I learned that positive word called”no” that things started to change from our years of turmoil.

Jesse: 

It is a positive word. We use it as a negative, but it is positive for our own well being.

Russel: 

There’s a book out there called Never Split the Difference about negotiating and it’s, we’re caught up in this wrong mindset that like in a sales cycle, you want to get them to say yes but it’s actually no, you want to put the control in their hand because the word no is a sense of control. I don’t know where that methodology even came from the first place that you’re going to blindly get someone in a yes mode all the way to a sale. Clearly we’re evolving as humans, slowly. That might be true. What do you enjoy most these days about showing up to work? What gets you excited out of bed?

Jesse: 

Air conditioning.

Russel: 

After getting back from Italy, I can say I appreciate air conditioning.

Jesse: 

The majority of our team right now is all based in Vancouver and that part’s exciting for me. I think where we’re at as an industry and where Google is going as a business and where people are thinking about privacy and things like that. All those intersect to make our lives, dynamic seems like such a power word for it, but it feels very dynamic in that, like the content we’re creating and the things that we’re trying to track and understand about the people that visit our websites, is constantly evolving. We have to adapt to figure out how to market to people who are being considerate about their own privacy, and we’re trying to be considerate of their privacy too. That stuff does get me excited. Obviously looking at analytics still is my favorite thing to do. Watching things progress and trying to figure out why things didn’t progress. That stuff is still very exciting to me.

Russel: 

Love to hear that. Where is the future of the business headed? If we’re having you on for round two of the podcast 10 years from now, what are we talking about?

Jesse: 

What are we talking about? We’ll probably still be talking about AI. The next five to 10 years I intend to double the size of our team. Continue to grow in a organic way that brings in great people to do great work and have them like helping businesses grow. It sounds all super cliched, but I enjoy watching the evolution of other businesses too and how they work and evolve and how all that goes. The next while I intend to be doing this and helping the agency be much more sustainable and maybe not need me as much on the day to day stuff.

Russel: 

So you can spend more time in analytics and deconstructing the Google machine.

Jesse: 

Yeah, exactly. Do that all day.

Russel: 

You mentioned how important your team is to you, and it’s one of the things you’re most proud of. What has been effective for you in creating such a positive, healthy work environment?

Jesse: 

I’d say the first part is interviewing. The interview process in the early days was, all right, they know the work, they can have a job. Now it’s, we can teach the work, but what are they like when things aren’t going well? What are they like when they receive feedback? What does accountability look like? Those things came out in interviews that allowed me to find people that fit well here. Now I think it’s also giving everyone the room to be themselves. Yes, they spend eight plus hours a day here, five days a week, but that is still a small part of who they are. Giving them the flexibility to live their lives as they need I think helps to keep them in a place where they want to be here. The other side, too, is living those same things that I tell them to do. Taking vacation and working remotely. Taking personal time when you need it. Those kinds of things, I think have helped. And we have some good snacks, that also helps a lot.

Russel: 

You had me at snacks.

Jesse: 

I should have left it at that.

Russel: 

No, I think you named the more important ones first. What I liked in there and I think was important in our own journey was character assessment over skill assessment. Not that skill assessment doesn’t matter, but character will obviously take you a lot further than coming into the table with a few extra skills

Jesse: 

Totally. It was something that I’d overlooked. Charisma is something that I always got sucked in to, meeting with people and be like, oh yeah, no, that’s great. We’re social. That’s great, but as soon as you’re like, okay, so what happens when a client says this content is no good? What do you do about that? What’s your response and what’s your process for getting sorted? That weeds out a lot of people. Even when they know they’re being interviewed, still certain things come up. One of my favorite questions is when everyone’s on their best behavior, asking them to share something weird about themselves. It always messes them up, throws them out of their rhythm and it’s so good. It’s a very humanizing question that I think helps to establish where they actually are and what they’re thinking.

Russel: 

Maybe round two of the podcast needs to be more quirky interviewing tactics, which is dear and dear to my heart. I actually do speaking presentations around some weird nuances around hiring. Some of that is how do I observe someone when they’re not knowing they’re being observed or off kilter type questions. Because I’ve always hated that, kind of what you mentioned that, interviewing favors someone with the gift of gab. How do we break through that? It sounds like you’ve done a lot of work to solve that.

Jesse: 

I would love to watch that, you’re talking on that, cause it’s super interesting. It’s a very Skilled thing to interview well, and then also being able to weed through the nonsense there.

Russel: 

Maybe that’s what they should call it. You’re not interviewing, you’re weeding through nonsense. That’s the name of the whole process. Last big question for you, Jesse, are entrepreneurs born or are they made?

Jesse: 

Oh, man, I think they’re a bit of both. I think there’s certain characteristics that you’re born with and I think it’s like nurture versus nature. But ultimately I think there’s certain characteristics that will lead you to being more of a risk taker and more of a person that is comfortable wearing a lot of hats. I don’t think that part can be learned, but figuring out your place in the business world, and how you engage with clients and business partners, all that is definitely taught. But there’s certain characteristics that I think are innate, like your risk tolerance, your fear of failure, ability to avoid that, those kinds of things are not things that you can be taught. You have to experience it and have it.

Russel: 

Do you feel like you’ve learned that well, be able to take failure and get back up again?

Jesse: 

It takes me time. It definitely takes time, but yeah, I can get back up. I would say I dwell on things a bit too long, but at the same time, I got to keep going eventually. I say I’m 50/50 on that.

Russel: 

Have you developed any coping mechanisms? When I’m down and out, I go get a milkshake or anything?

Jesse: 

No, food is not my coping mechanism. Sports movement, that kind of stuff. Riding a bike or running, in the winter going snowboarding would be the things that I do to offer myself perspective on the stuff that’s going on at work.

Russel: 

Snowboarding. Spoken like a true Canadian. If people want to know more about Method and Metric, where can they go?

Jesse: 

They can find us at methodandmetric.com. We’ve got tons of resources and content there. LinkedIn, my name, Jesse Ringer. You can connect with me there or follow our page on LinkedIn or Instagram. It’s all Method and Metric, one word for both. If they want to join us there.

Russel: 

Lovely. Check it out, folks. Great to listen to your story today, Jesse, appreciate so many grounded and insightful thoughts you’ve had in your journey thus far. Lots to be proud of, lots to be excited about. I appreciate you being on the show today.

Jesse: 

Thanks, Russel. That was super fun.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to podcast@performancefaction.com. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction. Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million dollars and more in revenue. To learn more, visit performancefaction.com.

Jesse: 

For context, I have a real bad problem of skimm reading emails. The client of mine was dealing with a former business partner. We were trying to schedule a meeting and she’s, I can’t do this time because I’ll be in a all day meditation, but I can reach you afterwards and I’m like, oh wow. Great. Okay. That sounds awesome. Halfway through the day, she emails me going, it’s over. I’m free to talk now. I get on the phone and I’m like, so how was the meditation? And she’s, oh no, it was mediation. We were in mediation, not meditation and it did not go well because I’m talking to you now. Oh my gosh.

Russel: 

One little letter.

Jesse: 

Mediation and mediation do have the same letters, to be fair, but it was not, it wasn’t good. That was like my peak embarrassment for sure.

Russel: 

Sometimes we got to learn the hard way and then, do you read your emails more thoroughly? No?

Jesse: 

I don’t. I don’t know what it is. I have to copy and paste it into an Evernote and read it separately, itemize each sentence. Otherwise I miss it.

Russel: 

Maybe there’s an AI that can help you with that.

Jesse: 

My team gives me feedback all the time. It was like, you answered half the email. I’m like, God, sorry.

Russel: 

We can’t be perfect.

Jesse: 

No, we can’t.