It has been a long time since I have updated my interview section. Following my interview with Venkatesh, I have decided to interview Milind Mody and here is what he had to say for my questions
Small introduction about yourself to the people who are unfamiliar about you?
I am Milind Mody, founder and CEO of eBrandz, which is first “international” Search Marketing agency based out of India. I have been associated with Search Marketing industry for last 7 years and I have conducted sessions on Search Engine Optimization for Digital Marketing Institute. I also speak on topics related to SEO, Social Media Marketing, Online Reputation Management at industry events like IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and SearchCamp. Apart from this, I write for US based search marketing magazines like Search Marketing Standard and Website Magazine.
Tell us something about eBrandz and how it started
I started eBrandz on 9th September 2003. I was working with someone else and was heading a SEO team. But I had a lot of ideas on how to run a SEO company and things were not working out so I decided to start my own Search Marketing agency. There were few good other SEO companies (based out of India) at that time. But most of them were focused on outsourcing projects. I wanted to create a brand out of India and compete with Top US based agencies for getting direct clients.
What is unique about eBrandz as compared with the other companies providing Search engine marketing services?
Few things which sets up apart from others: Our experience (We have successfully executed more than 5000 Search Marketing projects in last 5 years). Our team strength (We have 250 search marketers working on our various client projects). Our innovation (Search Marketing is a very dynamic industry where change is the only constant factor). We update our client deliverables at least twice in a year and ensure that we try and include the latest best practices. We also have a very robust set of internal processes which helps us running our operations on a day to day basis.
Which one of the services you offer is most popular among your customers and why?
I think in terms of revenue and profitability, Search Engine Optimization is most popular service among our customers. I think our successful track record, the value for money which we provide (compared to the best SEO agencies in US) and our customer support; are three most important reasons why SEO is one of our most popular services.
Could you describe your team? What eBrandz do to keep its employees happy and hard-working?
We have an inverted tree hierarchical structure with the management at top. Sameer Sama heads our US team and is based out of New York. Prasanna Mody (who is my younger brother) is our Chief Operating Officer and also heads the Pay Per Click (Search Engine Marketing / SEM) team. Nixan Crasto is our Chief Technical Officer and he heads the SEO team. Ritesh Ved heads the design team. Sachin Ingole heads our HR team. These all are part of the management team.
Keeping employees happy is the most important responsibility of our HR team. We give our employees flexible timings so that they can avoid peak traffic and commute comfortably to work. We make it a point to celebrate all our employee birthdays. Apart from this, we have a funzone in our office where we have foosball table, Carrom boards, mini golf, Dart, Chess etc where employees can chill out. We reward consistent performers and seniors by making them team leaders. We have monthly brainstorming sessions between various teams to try and avoid conflicts between various departments. But I think one of the best reasons for employees to stick with us is because they know eBrandz has been founded on very solid principles and we are a stable company if anyone wants a career in Search Marketing Industy.
Tell us something about the workshops that you organize on Search Engine Marketing in India
Technically I have not organized any workshops on Search Marketing in India. But I have taught SEO as a subject at the Digital Marketing Institute. I have also been a speaker at IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) , SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) India and at Search Camp, where I have discussed topics related to SEO, Blended Search, Reputation management.
What myths do you consistently come across in the search marketing industry?
- Stuffing keywords in Meta Description tag will improve your rankings.
- Many marketing managers believe that hidden text stuffed with keywords is a good strategy to increase website keyword density which will help in website rankings.
- Ranking well for one word keyword is a good strategy (In reality you are better served ranking well on specific keywords).
How do you see the development of SEM in India and how do you see its future?
I already have seen a lot of awareness for Search Marketing in India in last few years. Six or Seven years back, when I used to tell people about Search Engine Optimization they used to be skeptical. Now most Marketing managers are aware of SEO and SEM and it’s actually a part of their job description. We have also seen an increase in number of Indian clients who want to do SEO/ SEM.
What are the biggest challenges for SEM-businesses in India?
This is a knowledge industry. So retaining best talent is one of the biggest challenges. Also there are at least two major search algorithm updates in a year (for SEO) whereas Google keeps introducing new rules and regulations on the SEM side. So SEM businesses will have to be quick footed and adapt to these changes and come up with strategies which will help them best serve their clients. I also see a lot of SEM businesses using old theories and strategies (because they do not have time to stay current with latest best practices). This is a recipe for disaster.
What do you think is the next big “thing” for SEO?
In India as well as abroad, I think the next big thing for SEO would be Local Search. Although Local Search has been in play for last several years, its just recently that some of these local engines have become very popular. In India we have Guruji, Ask Laila, Just Dial apart from the big daddy Google Local. I see an increase in popularity of these local search engines which will change the way marketers will tap into this audience.
As a member in the Searchcamp Advisory Panel I should ask you this. When are we going to have Searchcamp 2009?
The Searchcamp event was held by the Knowledge foundation of India. One of the members was our client few years back and he asked me to be on the Advisory Panel. I really liked the very informal way the event was conducted. I along with few other members from Mumbai told them to also conduct one such event in Mumbai and that we would support it (in all possible ways). So when will we have Searchcamp 2009? I don’t know. But Kiruba would be the right person to ask this question.
Tell us something that I forgot to ask
Can’t think of anything.
I would like to end this interview by appreciating eBrandz team for being selected as #2 for readers choice awards (Best SEM Company) and #3 for Best Social Media Management Company by PromotionalWorld.