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Hitting the bulls-eye with SEO: Interview with Manoj Aravindakshan, Founder, On Target Media, Singapore

This interview was originally published in 2008 by Mediabuzz, which publishes Asian eMarketing newsletter. We re-produce this now because a lot of the aspects mentioned in this article are as relevant for SEO today as they were 10 years ago. For example, the need to focus on the search user intent and experience and providing high-quality content were emphasised. As we now know, SEO in 2018 - post all the major algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin-- is very much centred on content quality and user experience.

The interview by Daniela La Marca follows……….. Some edits have been made by us to reflect the current situation.

A paragraph on their Website sparked my interest in a local company which stated: “One cannot overstate the importance of an organization's search engine strategy, especially for small-to-medium sized companies.

Search engine marketing, which includes search engine optimization to drive traffic from organic search results and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, is becoming the cheapest and most-effective means of attracting target customers.”

As Asian e-Marketing has dedicated this issue to Search Engine Optimization, I was delighted to find On Target Media & Marketing Services, a Singapore-based company which specializes in online marketing services.

I was honored to get spontaneously an interview with Manoj Aravindakshan founder & director of On Target who was willing to give me some insights into his expertise. The online marketing consultant has been active for more than 10 years (20 years) in the Asia Pacific region, in various aspects related to the Internet, including content, product management and marketing.

Primarily focused on business-to-business (B2B) marketing, besides search engine marketing, On Target offers media planning & buying in trade publications, handling marketing communications and also the execution of integrated marketing campaigns as well.

The 13-year old company found its niche in catering mainly to small to medium sized businesses in Singapore & overseas that choose to outsource SEM services. So far they have contributed to marketing efforts of both B2B and B2C clients in sectors as diverse as niche education services, online retail/e-commerce and process engineering.

When Asian e-Marketing asked him what he believes is the main strength and success factor respectively of On Target Media & Marketing Services, he came fast to the point by saying:

“Our strength is our understanding of the Internet, and in particular search engines, as a marketing medium. For example, very often there is too much focus on the technicalities of search engine optimization or paid search advertising so that marketing gets pushed to the background. We try to keep the focus on marketing and devise means to exploit the medium to meet that objective. We operate with the philosophy that SEO/ SEM is the means to an end, not the end in itself.”

He added: “On Target is clearly understanding the customer’s end goals for search marketing and meeting those objectives is an important success factor. This is very i mportant because we have found a significant difference in the stated goals of many small businesses that are just beginning to use search marketing versus the actual need that they are trying to fulfill.”

When we asked him to give us insights into the biggest challenges his company is facing in the search engine optimization sector right now he said that there are mainly two key challenges, particularly for the small-to-medium sized business segment:

“The first is to get prospects to clearly understand the benefits of search engine optimization/search marketing, and this is mainly a question of bringing about a change in mindset; the second, even though adoption of search engine optimization is just picking up, SEO has already been commoditized, with very low-cost, fixed-price SEO packages.”

A typical inquiry they receive would look like the following, he continued: “I have a web - site with pages in Flash. How much for SEO?” So, getting prospects and customers to understand value-driven pricing for the service is an interesting challenge in itself.

A related aspect is client expectations and this is also most probably an even bigger challenge. “While SEO is not rocket science, it is still a process that requires thought, effort, time & money. There are no shortcuts and no magic switch that will get somebody to the top of Google [often the stated objective] and make them stay there within one or two days, or months”, Mr.Aravindakshan tells me to exemplify the often tremendous expectations of their clients

Of course Asian e-Marketing was interested to find out more on how On Target differentiates its offerings in order to stand out of the highly competitive search engine optimization provider market. Here, Mr. Aravindakshan claims that their professional strategic marketing input often serves as a differentiator, as they don’t see themselves as only a manipulator of search results. They are result-oriented and are also quite flexible with their pricing and offerings, depending on their customer’s needs and budget.

Out of curiosity – and due to the fact that so many different, interesting and confusing explanations work a circuit - I asked Mr. Aravindakshan to give our readers his very personal definition of search engine optimization:

“Personally, I believe that search engine optimization (SEO) should actually be called ‘optimization for search users’, since in effect, we are trying to optimize a website for its target users, not really doing anything with the search engines themselves. As a definition of SEO, I would say that “it is the means/ process for a website/business to reach its target audience by increasing visibility in “natural” or “not-paid-for” search engine results.”

I was impressed by his short, interesting, and precise answer and followed up with what he believes is the single most important key to getting found in search engines and directories. His answer was even more concise: “Relevant content!”

Elaborating on this, he added: “At a very high level, I believe SEO is only about three things: Content, Accessibility and Popularity. The extent to which a marketer gets these three components right will be the difference in success and failure of a SEO campaign.”

Asked if he sees any new technologies coming to power that could have an influence on search engine optimizers he commented that there will be a continuous evolution in the search engine business in order to ensure being able to present the most relevant results, which ‘optimizers’’ have to be aware of and know how to respond to.

However, according to him, On Target would rather be focused on how search users evolve, how they search, where they search, where they are most likely to go to find something. etc.

Interesting approach I thought, but I decided to dig a little bit deeper to get his thoughts on the direction of Web 2.0 technologies with regards to SEO.

His response to this: “As Web 2.0 technologies evolve, search engines will also evolve to ensure that they are able to access the huge volume and types of content being created and figure out ways to determine their relevance to search users. Likewise, marketers have to figure out ways to make their content accessible and popular.”

As long as more products and services are sold over the Internet here in Asia, and businesses recognize the value of the Internet as a marketing medium, demand for SEO services is bound to grow.

In addition, On Target is convinced that the need for local language SEO services will grow as well.

Asian e-Marketing says thanks and wishes good speed.

A top SEO agency in Singapore, On Target has been providing SEO services and other digital marketing services mainly for SMEs in Singapore for over 13 years. We provide results-oriented and cost-effective SEO consulting as well as end-to-end planning and execution of SEO strategies. Contact us now to discuss how we can help you meet your online visibility and lead generation goals.




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