Category: SEO Hacker

SEO Hacker’s Top 10 of 2015

Happy Holidays SEO Hackers! It’s yet another year – our fifth year as a blog and as an SEO Services company here in the Philippines. As the year comes to a close, I’ve gathered the 10 most-read entries we wrote this year.

This is in no particular order as I believe some of the less read posts have more value in general but were not promoted as much.


From Annual Evaluation to Fast Feedback Loops

The annual evaluation is an exciting time for individuals in the team mostly because of the chances of knowing their points of improvements. You may not know it, since the team now is a fresh, new team, but it has been doubly exciting for the first people who worked in SEO Hacker because of the surety of a financial raise.

Needless to say that it was not a wise decision and culture because along the way we have rewarded people who were lazy, tardy, disloyal and downright stagnant in their career growth – not to mention that it was also not financially sustainable for the company. Thankfully, because of our mechanisms with teeth, this is no longer the case.

The evaluation period for an individual in our team comes in the 6th month and then in November – which is the supposed end of our internal fiscal year. This is now going to change.

We are now going to disregard evaluations in terms of ‘the day’ of feedback. Instead, we will (and should) give feedback at least each month. And we will give it right before the salary day so that everyone will remember that it has to be given.

It doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it must not be long. It has to be summarized to up to three points of improvement which will be addressed in the following format:

  1. What are one to two things that you are having difficulty with in your work?
  2. How can I help you out with those?
  3. Okay, here is where I think you can improve as a (job description)

This should be emailed by the team leader to each of the team members in order for them to hone each other with their work. Likewise, I will email this to each of the team leads who report directly to me. I believe that fast feedback loops will help us iterate and improve at least twelve more times than our annual evaluation (which is the current system).

I know that it means more work for the team leads and that is also why I request each of the team members to try and carry the burden of the team leaders so that your team leaders could help you become better team players.

As good as it sounds, I’m afraid that we as a team would ask these three questions and not act upon it. So I’m going to put this as a project in our Teamwork and we’ll be able to see the momentum of this new implementation as-we-go.

Mechanisms with Teeth

“Set the bar so high that we have to jump to reach it.”

Why the high bar? Because I believe that we don’t reward mediocrity. I believe that if we’re simply ‘doing what’s required of us‘ then that’s already taken cared of by our salaries.

Salary = Requirement.

But if you’re looking for a pay raise then that requires going the extra mile. Going for more than what’s required of you. Developing yourself.

Being a fun team does not mean that we have to let our performance suffer. On the contrary, we will have a lot more fun and fulfillment at work when we push ourselves to grow and exemplify that to each other.

Pay Raise = Personal and Professional Growth.

The goal of these mechanisms is not just to give everyone transparency in achieving a raise, rather the ultimate goal of these mechanisms is to develop everyone in the team to become a leader.

These mechanisms apply to all regular employees 6 months and up.

All of the factors in play is consistent to our team’s creed. It is important that we support and uphold our values in the team and one way to live and breathe it is by incorporating it into the individual evaluation of everyone in the team.

1) Hubstaff Cohorts

We have a monthly pull of data from Hubstaff. When the Average Hours based on Activity Rate is 5.0 and above, that person gets a +1 provided that he/she has at least 160 hours rendered on average per month and has no sign of stealing time from working hours through the form of unrelated websites in a span of 1 year.

2) Punctuality

When a person does not have any absences without pay, improperly announced vacation leaves, never forgets to log his or her time-in, and is never late for work (whether coming from home, lunch break or 15min break), that person receives a +1.

3) Innovations

When a person has contributed to the growth of his or her team, affecting the efficiency and output of the company as a whole by at least 50% in the form of testing and implementing a new tool, process, tactic or strategy, that person gets a +1

4) Growth

When a person has finished at least four books in the span of one year and has written one or multiple reviews of the book in his/her blog, that person will receive a +1. There are specific books that will be counted in this category. Not all books are considered as a catalyst to the individual’s growth in the aspect of digital marketing.

An individual can submit a book to be included as long as it is a book about leadership, personal growth, digital marketing, and teamwork. Sales books are only counted for people in accounts management or sales.

If a book is lost, that is equivalent to a -1. If a book stays with a person for more than a quarter (3 months) that is considered as a -1.

5) Trust

The team will each vote on all of their other teammates (on a company level) on their level of trust towards the company. This will be done twice before the annual review. The top 20% most trusting gets a +1 and the lower 10% gets a -1.

The reason being: The team knows who trusts the company most and who trusts the company least so they should have the responsibility to vote on each other and be transparent to the company about their own opinion of each other. Individuals cannot vote for themselves.

6) Respect to the Company and Peers

The team will again vote on all of their other teammates (on a team level) on their level of respect towards the company and each other. They can name special names if they think that a person is especially disrespectful even if he/she is on another team.

Respecting the company includes following rules and values – not using social media and other unrelated sites during company hours, turning off Hubstaff on breaks, coming in early, is always present and follows instructions.

The top 20% will get a +1 and the bottom 10% gets a -1

7) No supervision

This is the most subjective factor as team leaders will be the ones who will give a score on this one. The person who takes completely no supervision (supervision is different from guidance and spoonfeeding, and mentorship) will get a +1. The person who takes a lot of supervision (the most supervision) in the team, gets a -1.

8) Client Save

If the person took lead of saving a client from churning (assuming they have given word that they are about to churn because of operational reasons), either talking to the client, producing output that made a major difference in putting the client’s main keywords on the first page, or defending our company’s efforts via email and the client was persuaded – it will be considered as goodwill and that person will receive a +1.

So far there are 8 things you can get a +1 from. If you are able to bag at least 5, that will include you on the people to be financially raised list. The top 20% of the people in that list will get evaluated for a raise.

The bottom 10%, provided that they don’t get at least a score of 3, will be listed as low-level performers. They will be issued a non-performer warning. Two consecutive non-performer warnings or three overall non-performer warnings and they are out.

There are 4 main teams in our company today who will be evaluated with these 8 criterias:

  1. Creatives team (Web Development and Design)
  2. Blog Management Team
  3. Social Media Team
  4. Linkbuilding Team

Two ‘baby’ teams in our company – people in these teams will be evaluated slightly differently:

  1. Accounts Management Team – consists of me and Vince
  2. Marketing Team – consists of me and Pam

Causes for Warnings and Termination

We need to make the company grow. That is our main goal as a team. If it wasn’t, it’s better that we just close shop. Along with that comes protecting the best interests of the company through moderating unwanted behavior by individuals in the team. Here are some causes for Warnings and Termination.

Excessive leaves – when you have consumed all your leaves and need to take another one, that is your first warning. When you need to take another one, that will be the next warning. So you could take up to three excessive leaves and then that will be a cause for termination.

Gossip – it’s just bad. We all know it. The company will find out the source, the aggravator and everyone else who is negatively involved. We are working to make this a cause of immediate termination.

Lying – we don’t want lying to be part of the company culture. As such, lying will be set as a major offense and will be a cause of immediate termination.

Three consecutive lates or coming in very late– we all have to know when the train will arrive and when it will leave. Having everyone in the office inside the proper time (and grace period) should be observed. Three consecutive lates or coming in at 10am onwards will equate to a warning.

Failing to meet a deadline – we take work seriously and when we set deadlines, we mean them. Failing to meet a deadline can equate to a warning if there are no requests for extension made or there are no eventual justifications.

Leaking out company information – we are protective of our processes and systems as all companies should be when they are a thought leader in their industry. Leaking out information is a cause for immediate termination and can be a cause for litigation in intellectual property damages.


How a Break from Work Helped Us Build an Amazing Team

For many years we’ve been crafting content that will enhance our audience’s knowledge with SEO and all sorts of online marketing.  I must admit that we seldom write about our company – its culture and the people behind it, making others think that all we do is work, work, and work.


How Being an Accounts Manager Made Me a Better Marketer

You know what they say about having two jobs? And I don’t mean getting paid for two separate jobs. I’m talking about having two positions in one company and getting a single compensation.


SEO Hacker Creed

The SEO Hacker Creed: ACHTUNG

The reason I came up with ACHTUNG is that I believe that the SEO Hacker team needs a guiding light to propel the company to success.

And in order to achieve true success, the teams and individuals working in the company has to have instilled values. Principles that the team lives and breathes as we work together in pushing the company forward.

Just to be clear, ACHTUNG is not, in any way final. I believe that values has to be shaped from a company’s past, present and future. And as with all futures, there are things that are unforeseen and uncertain.

So here goes.

Accountability in Freedom

We believe in a working culture that is not stemmed on bureaucracy, strict rules and corporate red tape. Our company deals a lot with art and creativity. And art is quite unbridled in nature. This does not mean, however, that we can do anything we damn well please with our work.

For freedom to be a tool for success, it has to come hand-in-hand with accountability. We believe that in order for an individual in our company to have true freedom that will result to the success of the team and ultimately, the company, it has to be in the bounds of accountability.

We do not believe in blocking social media sites and ‘fun’ sites like 9gag and tumblr because we believe it could be valuable sources of information, creativity, and not least of all, stress relief. We do believe, however, that we should not exploit these freedoms for our personal use or purposeless entertainment.

There lies the problem: These freedoms are so easily exploited during company hours. The thing about freedom is that if it is exploited by a teammate, it can be so easily justified to oneself to exploit it as well. The effect then turns into a vicious cycle.

So we have embraced systems to help avoid that pitfall. To be accountable.

One of them is our Skype login. This is to keep everyone in the team in the loop on each others whereabouts and availability. Another system is Hubstaff. We are all paid for our time spent making the company grow. Hubstaff enables us to check ourselves if we are taking care of our freedom by committing our time to the success and growth of the company.

Confront Indiscipline

One of the things we really believe in is that a leader is to lead from the front. People are used to having their leaders “on top” or “above” them. It is a common practice in our world today to let the leader or manager have special perks. Consequently, this drives people to shy away from telling them off whenever they find something wrong with the leadership or management style of the leader.

If there is one thing that we want to change in the way the leaders relate with the team and vice versa, it’s this: Confront indiscipline.

Whether it’s the new hire or the team lead, or even the CEO himself, if there is something wrong, tell him off. Be confrontational. We find that 99% of the time, if there’s something that’s wrong with the leadership or management style of a person, it leads to the detriment of the success of the company.

For the leaders, this means that you shouldn’t expect anything from your people unless you are also willing to undertake it yourselves. Lead from the front, don’t manage from behind.

When it comes to discipline, we are all at a level playing field. No one is above and no one is below. Everyone has to play by the company rules.

Hacker Innovation

We believe that the moment we stop innovating is the moment we die – slowly. Like a battered old brontosaurus waiting for its own extinction.

A hacker is a good analogy for the kind of innovation we do. The moment a hacker stops innovating and settles for ‘just programming’ he will soon find himself at the back office of a non-IT company doing IT work that he doesn’t really like.

I know that it’s an exaggerated picture but it’s not really an impossibility. A hacker is only as good as when he is learning, innovating, and ultimately applying all of that – to what he really loves.

Learn, test, apply, repeat.

Trust in Difficult Times

We believe it’s easy to trust a company and the people in it when everything’s well and good. The thing is, there’s nothing special about that. Everybody naturally does that.

The outliers are the people who are able to trust the company and the people in it when the going gets tough.We believe these people are the ones that are most loyal, driven and committed.

These people are extremely valuable.

They are the ones who will build the company and run with the ball when it’s their turn to make the game.

Without trust, the morale drops, gossip increases dramatically and the team chemistry goes haywire. Trust is the building block of an awesome team.

It is the stuff we are made of.

Unity in Diversity

We believe in a team that accepts all forms of diversity – religion, race, discipline, family background, work ethics, and so on and so forth. Everyone has a fighting chance in making the team and playing big.

We believe in having one purpose, one goal and one company culture that is not mutually exclusive with our differences as individuals. Freedom and diversity thrives in the company but in order for it to be used positively, it has to be directed by unity and accountability towards one goal: To drive the company to success.

Our teams have very different people playing in their respective fields but the one thing that these people have in common is that at the end of the day, they have one big goal they are shooting for.

If there is no unity in our diversity, we might as all go solo – and miss the most exciting time of our lives doing great things with great people.

No Supervision

Imagine a team where everyone works because they are passionate about what they are doing. Where targets are always met. Clients are always happy. And everyone is growing in their career.

That is the kind of team we want to be. We believe this is possible through our team’s values.

Managers cost a lot of money. Managing a team cost a lot of time.

So the question is: Who needs managers?

Answer: People who lack the discipline to work, hit targets and finish things.

In short, people who are not passionate and driven about what they are doing.

We believe that passion should be the core driver of individuals in our team to eliminate the need for supervision. Whether an individual finds passion along the way, or already has the passion for the work to begin with.

It is a core essential of a driven and productive team player.

God Above All

This company quite literally started with God. It started with a blog about Christianity, dating, philosophy, apologetics, and so on and so forth. A blog that started with extremely few readers.

Stumbling upon SEO changed all that. Not soon after, by God’s great grace, readers came pouring in. Slowly at first, then it became an increasing drip and then grew into a steady stream. I was able to turn it into a service – and then into a business.

But this isn’t the reason why we should put God above all. The real reason is that, even if God didn’t start SEO Hacker with a blog, even if God didn’t even create SEO Hacker, He is still a good God. An awesome God.

And the fact that we’re alive and kicking is reason enough to thank Him.

This value encompasses each and every value we have in ACHTUNG. For most of us, this is where we derive our character, work ethics and the way we treat our teammates. We put a very heavy weight on faith because we believe that not everything in this world stems from knowledge – especially when there are lots of things still not known to mankind today.

Ultimately, without God in the center and core of our company, we would rather not have this company at all.

SEO Hacker – Best of 2014

It seems like it was just like yesterday, we were wrapping everything up for 2013 and now, another year is about to end – 2015 is almost here!

But before we move towards a new year of strategies, let us first have a quick review of the best that we’ve written, so far, this year:


SEO Hacker’s First Company Acquisition

Yup, you read it right. We’ve gone through our first company acquisition. I didn’t want to make it public during the time because the turnover of accounts have not yet been completely fulfilled. So here’s what’s happened and how we went about it.


How to Build a Strong SEO Team

Alright, alright, I’m not going to keep it any longer. Here’s the secret sauce why SEO Hacker is what it is today.

Move a little bit closer.

Are you listening?

Okay, here it is….


An SEO Wedding Break

This is probably the first time and the last time we’re going to ever have this. I hope you don’t take this in the wrong way, but I’ll have to take a break. It’s my wedding day tomorrow!