Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with VeraContent’s Shaheen Samavati and marketing consultant Joana Veiga Ferreira, on how to grow your online presence:

Shaheen Samavati 0:02
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be hosting another live edition of our interview series with marketing experts across Europe. For those of you looking to grow your online presence for your agency or other small business, marketing consultant Joanna Veiga Ferreira is with us today to share her tips for setting up or refreshing a website, SEO link building and other tips. Before she started her consultancy JVF Marketing three years ago, she worked in a variety of marketing and media roles in the UK. I just want to remind everyone that this is an interactive session, and we can bring up your questions and comments on the screen. So please feel free to ask questions as we go along. But without further ado, I’ll introduce Joana. And thanks so much for joining us today. Joana?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 0:46
Hi. Thank you for having me.

Shaheen Samavati 0:49
So, let’s just start out. Can you just introduce yourself? Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into marketing?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 0:57
Yeah, sure. So my name is Joana. I’m originally from Portugal. But I live in the UK, I have been living here for a long time, 15-16 years. And I set up JVF Marketing about three years ago. Because I wanted to work with small businesses, and help them with basically all of their digital marketing needs, whatever it is that they are looking to achieve, I want to be able to help them. And I had a lot of experience working in agencies with bigger clients, and I thought I could bring that to smaller businesses that just need that extra support.

Shaheen Samavati 1:38
Can you tell us what types of clients do you typically work with?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 1:41
So I tend to work with quite small businesses. Sometimes it’s just one person in the business, or a handful of people. Sometimes they are brand new businesses, so they’re just starting out, and they want to figure out what they should do first, and how they should do it. And, you know, do they need a website? What social media platforms do they need? Or other times it’s businesses that have been around for some time, they’re very well established, but they just need to refresh what they’re doing. Because maybe they’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, and it’s just not working. Or sometimes they haven’t really touched on anything in a long time, you know, they haven’t touched their website in five, six years or something. So again, they just need someone to come along, and really kind of guide them. Because there’s so many options out there. And it can be really difficult to know what you should do first, especially if you’re responsible for the whole business. So that’s where I come in, and I just offer my support. Sometimes I do it for them. Other times I teach them how to do it, so they can do it themselves. So it’s a mixture of both.

Shaheen Samavati 2:52
So speaking of what to focus on first, what do you typically advise people to focus on when there’s, obviously, an endless number of things you can do in marketing? If you are a smaller business, you’re probably constrained a bit on what the resources you have to invest in that. So like, where do you tell people, “Okay, you need to tackle this thing first, when it comes to digital marketing?”

Joana Veiga Ferreira 3:15
Yeah, that’s a really tough question. I think, first of all, it depends on what are their objectives, and where they are in their journey, you know, if they’re a brand new business, or if they’re established. But I like to always start with the website, because that’s kind of like your home, right? It’s like the place online that you own, it’s yours. Everything else, like your social media or anything else that you’re doing, like link building, for example, you don’t own those assets, you earn them, or you pay for them. Whereas the website is like your place to showcase who you are and what you do. So I always like to start there. And just make sure that the website is as good as it can be. And that it reflects what the business is, it speaks to the target audience. And it has a good structure and clear calls to action. And then depending on what their objectives are, we’ll take it from there. So you know, maybe they want to grow a community, so we focus a lot more on social media, or maybe they want to improve their SEO. So then we focus a lot more on content and link building. So then it really depends, but I think if I had to pinpoint where do I normally start? It’s normally the website.

Shaheen Samavati 4:36
So, then when it comes to content marketing, obviously that’s related to the website as well, because it’s oftentimes starting with putting the content on your own website. Obviously, there’s so much content out there. Do you think it’s still possible for smaller businesses to really stand out, and how do you? What’s your tips on that?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 4:57
Yeah, I think it’s true. There is so much content out there. But I think there’s always room for more and for more creative content. For smaller businesses, they often have a more personal connection with their customers, they might have a more in-depth or they might understand their customers even more, because they have more of a one-to-one relationship with them. So then I think that’s a really… it’s like a little secret to creating really great content is when you really understand the target audience. And you can kind of answer all of the questions that they would normally have through good content. So yeah, there’s always room for more content, especially more good content. And I think if you understand your target audience, and you get to know them, then you can figure out what you should be creating. And it could be written content, like editorial blog articles, it might be videos, webinars, lives, whatever it is, you know, but you’ve got to figure out who they are and what they need first.

Shaheen Samavati 6:07
Okay. Well, I was just curious, how much do you think content marketing has change since you got involved in the field? And also when it comes to SEO, what are the best practices? How have things evolved over the last years?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 6:27
I think they’ve evolved quite a lot. I mean, I started digital marketing in like 2011. And at the time, content, SEO and PR were three very separate things. And it was almost like, you know, PR was its own thing. Content marketing was just about writing, editorial content. And then SEO was all about keywords and links, really. And the three didn’t really have a huge connection between them. And I’ve noticed over the years, thatconnection has become a lot stronger. Because if you combine those three, you have a really strong strategy. On their own they can be quite weak, but together they make something really strong. And I think each of these disciplines has something that the other doesn’t have, you know. Like in PR, PR professionals are amazing at building relationships and coming up with a unique angle and a unique story. But then the SEO person is really great with data, and understanding search and search intent, and keywords and all of this. So you know, you bring the two together, and it’s really strong, but on their own, they’re not as strong. So I think that’s one of the things that I’ve noticed the most is that now, it’s almost like a more holistic approach. Whereas it used to be quite separate. Especially when I started, I worked in an agency. And these were three separate teams, they didn’t work together. And then over the years, it became very obvious that they should work together.

Shaheen Samavati 8:05
Yeah, that’s interesting. And then, well when it comes to the aspect of link building and digital PR, can you explain a little bit more what you mean by that in the first place? And how to do it effectively?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 8:18
Yeah, I think it’s one of those areas that no one really is 100% clear on exactly what do we mean when we say link building or digital PR. And I’m sure if you speak to someone else, they might have a different approach or a different definition of it. But for me, it’s link building and digital PR are the same thing. Because what you’re really trying to do is you’re trying to be visible in the places where your target audience is already hanging out. So you’re trying to get your name out there, you’re trying to build a reputation, and you’re trying to build awareness. And you’re doing that by creating relationships with the people who own those websites where your current audience already hangs out. So you’ve got to build the relationship first, and then you’ve got to create some content that is going to be beneficial for that website and for that target audience. So a lot of it has to do with finding these opportunities. And then, building a relationship with the website owner, and then creating content that’s going to be valuable to both parties. So I think it’s… And through that, then of course, you do get the link, which is where the link building thing comes in. But that’s not your only goal, you’ve got several goals here. It’s, yes, to build a link, but also to be visible, to build your reputation, to build your brand awareness and to create great relationships. Because you can always create more content for that same website. It’s not like a one-time thing.

Shaheen Samavati 9:57
Yeah, talking about… I think I have like an echo on my voice. I don’t know what’s going on there, but I hope people can hear me okay. So, when it comes to link building, I think, we were also just talking about the evolution of content marketing, but I think there used to be this idea that just having links out there—no matter the quality of the links—was going to help you in terms of SEO. But I don’t know, I’m not an expert on SEO, but I feel like that attitude, at least for the most part, has changed. People are focusing a lot more on actually the quality of the content that the links are attached to, as well. But yeah.

Joana Veiga Ferreira 10:36
Yeah, quality over quantity wins every time, I think. And especially when we talk about having multiple goals, because if your only goal is just to have 50 or 100 links out there, then you really should question the motivation behind that. What’s the purpose of having these goals? Is it just to improve your SEO? What do your customers get out of that? And so, I think it’s really important to look at it from all different angles, and go for quality over quantity. So having one amazing link on a blog that your customers are already reading, and they’re gonna love it, and they’re going to click on that link and go to your website… That’s so much more valuable than having 100 links on all these websites that are not going to bring you the same value. So I think, yeah, definitely there has been a shift in that sort of mentality of going for quality over quantity, and also providing value. So it’s not just a case of having a link for no reason. But having that link in a way that is showcasing who you are, what your brand stands for, and providing value to the reader.

Shaheen Samavati 11:46
Okay, excellent. I just want to remind people that if you ask questions in the comments, we can bring them up on the screen. And we have a few questions already. So let’s take a look at a few of them. Let’s go with this one first, just because it’s related to link building and digital PR. Have you ever had success with Haro, she [stands for] “help a reporter out.” I actually know that tool from back in the day when I used to be a journalist, I didn’t know if people still used it.

Joana Veiga Ferreira 12:12
Yeah, I still use it. And actually, it could be really useful. You know, sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming, because if you sign up for notifications, you might get 10 emails in the morning, and then 10 again. But I think if you take the time to read through them and really understand if this is the right opportunity for you, then Haro is super useful. I actually use it for both purposes. I use it for when I’m writing content and I want to find opportunities for where I can talk about my brand or my client’s brand. But on the flip side, sometimes if I’m writing a piece of content, and I need some additional expertise added to it, then I’ll put a Haro request out for people to contact me if they want to be on my article. So I do recommend that tool. I think it’s great. There’s also lots of other things that you can do, I think Haro is definitely a really good starting point. You can also sign up for or follow hashtags on Twitter, like #journorequests and things like that. And then other places… LinkedIn is a great place to find these opportunities. If you connect with the right people and you stay in touch and you check your newsfeed, you might find opportunities here and there. And so it’s just about keeping an eye out and being proactive. Or other times you can do the other way around and approach the websites directly. So if you know you want to be featured on this blog, get in touch with the author and ask if you can write a guest blog, or you know, do a guest interview. It doesn’t always have to be the opportunities coming to you; you should be looking to make direct connections. But of course, when you do that, you need to have a really good angle. And you need to sound authentic and show what value you bring. You know, if you just email someone and say, “Can I write a guest blog for you?” They’re probably gonna ignore your email, because they might be getting quite a few of those.

Shaheen Samavati 14:21
Yeah, that’s a good point. I was wondering, do you focus on any particular industries? Because I imagine it’d be difficult to get to know all the bloggers in every industry or every topic. Right? So do you focus on certain topics, or how does that work?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 14:38
Well, yes and no. So, I think health and wellness and those kinds of areas are naturally where I have a lot of interest in. So I’ve found some… quite a few of my clients fall under that bracket. But I’ve also worked with other clients that are completely unrelated. And I think even if you’re brand new to the industry, you can very quickly kind of learn what are the online magazines that are very popular? What are the most popular blogs? And then just, you know, just do your research. Get out there and ask questions. Ask questions to the client as well. Because if it’s their industry, they probably know a lot more about it than you. And then just start a list of maybe the target websites that you want to be featured on, and then maybe think about who you would approach on that particular publication, and then maybe how you’re going to get in touch with them. What’s your angle? What story do you have that they can’t refuse? You know, if you send them that story, they’ll be like, “Yes, please come come and write for us.”

Shaheen Samavati 15:47
Yeah, definitely. So a follow-up question from Jake. I was just looking on Facebook to see who it is, because sometimes it doesn’t show you on their little tool. But anyway, so Jake asks: “Do you use any automation tools to help with link building?”

Joana Veiga Ferreira 16:03
I actually don’t. If I were from a traditional SEO background, I probably would use them because they probably make your life a lot easier. But I find that it doesn’t. It’s just not something that I’ve been using. I do it mostly manual. I do keep spreadsheets and I signed up for notifications from Haro and things like that. But other than that, I do it quite manually. There’s probably an automation tool that will do it all for you. But I found quite good results from the way that I do it. So I just stick with it.

Shaheen Samavati 16:43
I mean, I’m not sure exactly what… Jake, maybe you can clarify what you mean by automation tool, because I guess there’s a lot of different tools out there that might automate different parts of the process. But anyway, in the meantime, I’ll go to some other questions we have here. And this question is from Kyler about SEO in different languages. So, different techniques for different languages. I don’t know if you have much experience doing SEO in different languages, or do you work mainly in English?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 17:12
Yes, I work mainly in English. Yeah, I haven’t done much in different languages. I’ve worked with teams that have done SEO in different languages, but I haven’t done it myself. So I’m not sure if I’m the best person to answer it, for this occasion. I work mostly in English, UK English, and then American English. And I pretty much use the same strategies and techniques for both.

Shaheen Samavati 17:37
Okay. Excellent. And then we have this other question from Mar asking if you recommend any resources for people to learn about SEO?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 17:46
Yeah, I think when I was first starting out, and because I didn’t start out in SEO, I was more kind of general marketing and I had to kind of teach myself SEO and content, and I loved HubSpot. And I still do. I still go to HubSpot quite often whenever I’m trying to figure something out. And I think they’ve got some really great training courses as well. So I think any of those are useful. So I always recommend those. And then I think there’s just so much out there. It depends what you’re looking for… SEO is so broad, it’s so big. It depends what you’re looking for, if it’s keyword research, or if it’s tips on link building, or if it’s anything else, technical SEO, there’ll be a different resource that’s much, much better. So I think if you just kind of look around, maybe ask recommendations on LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn is always a great place to find information. But be specific about what exactly in SEO it is that you’re trying to learn because it can be quite different.

Shaheen Samavati 18:57
Definitely. So another question I had for you is just. Well, actually, what was I gonna ask you? I had two things. Well, I was debating between two questions. One is about just like, going back to the website topic. I know that it can be a really daunting thing for a smaller business, especially. I’m an agency owner myself, so it’s something like, when we did our website redesign, it’s like how do you even know where to start? And how to find the right person to help you with it too? Because it’s… in terms of what platform to build your website on and stuff like that. So how do you make the whole process of a website redesign simpler?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 19:38
Yeah, it can be so overwhelming, and especially if you’ve ever tried to do it on your own, which a lot of small business owners will do. There’s so many options out there. And then there’s all this different advice about what you should and shouldn’t do. It can be really overwhelming. So for me, I just tried to simplify it as much as possible. I particularly love Squarespace. I think for a small business, it’s the best tool, because it’s so intuitive, it’s so easy to use. And if you want to kind of hand it off to a professional to build, but then as the business owner, you want to look after your own website, and be able to go in and make your own changes, then I think Squarespace is probably one of the easiest tools to use, and you still get great results. So if I ever have a client asking me, then that’s usually what I recommend. And then from there, I think it’s just, I always start with a pen and paper. So before you actually get talking about designs and colors, and all this stuff, which can be really distracting, let’s just write down five key pages of your website. And that should be about you, your services, and then anything else that is relevant, like a blog or, depending on the type of services, you might split it into two. But we really start with just a simplified diagram on paper that breaks down what your business is and what makes you special. And then we get onto all the fun bits of thinking about colors, and text copy and keywords and all of that. But you need to simplify it first, because otherwise you could get lost. And you could end up with all these different pages that are not really linked together. There’s no particular journey. They’re not consistent. So yeah, so simplifying. And I do that even if it’s a brand new website, or if it’s one that we’re refreshing. I take the same approach.

Shaheen Samavati 21:42
Yeah, this question was very related to that. But if you have anything else to expand just what’s the most important part? I think you kind of already touched on that, and where to focus on but yeah, like the the main messaging, I guess, getting that right in those central pages.

Joana Veiga Ferreira 21:57
Yeah, exactly. And speaking to your audience, and speaking to them. So it’s not about you. I mean, it’s about your business, but it’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for them. So rather than talking about yourself, and who you are, and what you do, talk about the problem that you solve, or the challenge that you help your clients get over or your customers. What do you do for them? That’s really important, because I think, then you can create a much better, you can start conversations that way. And obviously, I think the most important page of the website is probably your homepage, because that’s normally where most people land, not necessarily. So I think as long as they’re consistent, and the same message is visible throughout the whole site, then I think that’s the most important thing. So no matter what page they end up landing on, they’re going to get the same experience.

Shaheen Samavati 22:50
I remember the other thing I wanted to ask you is just about the contrast of your experience, like working for big brands versus now working for smaller businesses. What’s the biggest difference?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 23:01
I think the biggest difference is that you have to look at it from a holistic point of view, rather than a specific area. You can’t just think about SEO for a small business, it doesn’t work. You’ve got to think about all the pieces together, and how they all help each other. So I think, working with an agency, if you’ve been working for an agency, if you’ve been hired for a specific purpose, like SEO, then you focus on SEO, and someone else has taken care of the rest. But when you do this for a small business, even if they’ve hired me for SEO, I consider everything else because you know, especially if budgets are tight, or if time is a scarce resource, then you want to make sure that everything you do is helping the rest of that. I call it like a marketing puzzle. Every piece should fit together to create one one big image.

Shaheen Samavati 23:57
Yeah, definitely. Those are good tips. I was seeing that Jake followed up with us on his question to clarify that last question with automation tools. He’s thinking specifically of Pitchbox, which is like a tool for outreach. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one but…

Joana Veiga Ferreira 24:12
No, because I haven’t used any tools, I take a really old-school approach in this. I go personal. And I think, not having used a tool, its difficult for me to have an opinion about it. But with with my approach, because it is so personal, I normally get really good results, because I’ve taken the time to understand the website that I’m trying to be featured on and what is going to be valuable for them and their audience, not just you know, what’s in it for me? And normally it works because you’ve thought about it and the person sees that and you are providing value. So why would they not say yes.

Shaheen Samavati 24:53
Yeah, excellent. So, we only have about five minutes left. Well, if anyone has like burning questions, now’s your last chance, and we’ll try to get to them at the end. But I just wanted to make sure to ask you about the resources that you recommend, because I know you had a handful. So yeah, go ahead and tell us those. And by the way, well, go ahead and tell us your resources.

Joana Veiga Ferreira 25:15
Well with resources, it’s so tough, because it depends what you’re looking for. I always, I love HubSpot. I mean, I’m a huge fan. And I like the way they write because they make things simplified, and that’s my style as well. I don’t think we need to overcomplicate things. So HubSpot is always great. I think for anything like SEO and a bit more technical, Neil Patel is a good one. I noticed someone in the comments wrote something around about this. It’s a good place to start. You can keep up to date with the latest. And even if you don’t get all your answers, you know what you’re looking for. And then you can google that and get a little bit deeper. Think with Google is great for like identifying trends and how people’s behaviors have changed with regards to searching. And then State of Digital is a really good one for more, deeper SEO stuff. So if you really want to understand a particular area, then this is a bit more advanced.

Shaheen Samavati 26:19
Yeah, we had some criticism of Neil Patel in the comments, just saying that he’s very at the basic level. But like you said, for more in-depth stuff, there’s other resources. Yeah. So great. Well, let me see. Well, we had a couple questions. This is a super social media specific question, I guess, about if hashtags work? If you want to touch on that. And then the other question we had was about a quote that you live or work by?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 26:50
Yeah. I’ll do the hashtag one first because the quote, I’ll have to think about that… Yeah, I think hashtags do work. They work to broaden your reach. I think that’s on LinkedIn and Instagram. I’m not sure about Facebook, I don’t really think they work on Facebook. But I think they help you to broaden your reach. But you do have to be quite mindful of the hashtags that you use. Don’t just use random ones. Do your research. Don’t just start putting in hashtags for no reason. But figure out who’s actually using them. What content is being shared when that hashtag is being used? And how much is it being used? Because if it’s being used millions of times a day, then you’re just gonna get lost in that noise. So pick ones that are a bit more specific. But yeah, I think they can work really well to get more visibility. And then the one about the quote… I’m not sure. You know when you scroll through Instagram, you just see all these different quotes. And you’re like, “Oh, that’s my quote.” And then the next day, you’ve forgotten already. So I don’t really have like a good quote. I think, for me, it’s just, “one step at a time” is a good one. Just because it can be really overwhelming. I know someone posted in the comments that it can be paralyzing. Really, when you start doing research, and you see all these different things that you’re supposed to do? It can be like, Ah! So one step at a time, focus on your priorities. Get your website right, get your content right, and get your name out there. And then, everything else will follow. Don’t try to do everything in one go.

Shaheen Samavati 28:41
Yeah, excellent. That’s a great answer to the question. You came up with a good quote. And well, so we’re reaching the end of the interview. So I just wanted to ask if you have any final takeaways or parting advice for our audience, besides “one step at a time.”

Joana Veiga Ferreira 28:58
I think, just keep things simple. Try to simplify what you do. Simplify your online material, simplify your website and speak to your audience about what you do for them. Don’t make it all about you and how amazing you are in your content. It should be about the problems that you solve for the customer, rather than how amazing you are. You are amazing, but you can get that across in a much more relatable way if you kind of flip it around.

Shaheen Samavati 29:33
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a great point and a great note to end on. So what’s the best way to get in touch with you or learn more about what you do at JVF Marketing?

Joana Veiga Ferreira 29:43
There are a few ways. So my website is, so you can find me there. On LinkedIn I am Joana Veiga Ferreira, so feel free to connect. I’m pretty much on LinkedIn like every day so that’s probably the best way. My Instagram is a combination of work and pleasure, so don’t expect too many marketing tips on there. But if you want to follow me on Instagram, it’s @joanavmarketing.

Shaheen Samavati 30:15
Okay, great. I went ahead and put that in the comments and also put it on the screen. And then, I think I got that right. Yeah. The website is and then on Instagram, the handle is at @joanavmarketing. So that’s right. Yeah, perfect. Well, thank you so much, Joana, for taking the time to join us on this live Q&A.

Joana Veiga Ferreira 30:37
Thank you for having me. It’s been fun.

Shaheen Samavati 30:40
Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun, really enjoyed the conversation. And thanks to everybody for listening in. So, for more perspectives on content marketing in Europe, keep tuning in to our live interviews and podcast. And we’ll be republishing this live interview on our podcast as well, so you can check it out there. And thanks so much again to everyone for your awesome questions. And again, thank you to Joana for sharing your insights and advice. Thanks, everybody. Bye.

Joana Veiga Ferreira 31:07
Thanks, everyone.

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