A Poolside Chat With Hassan Aanbar

We recently got the chance to (virtually) sit down and chat with Hassan Aanbar, the founder of Bright Leads Media, Khydma and nearly a half-dozen other creative projects.

Like the interview with Nathan Latka from a couple months ago, there were some great insights dropped.

Hassan is an SEO expert and international speaker from Morocco. He is also the biggest referrer for Stacked Marketer, with almost 500 people referred to the newsletter! We’re waiting for you to hit that 1,000 mark, Hassan!

Let’s get into the interview!

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So, Hassan – what are you working on right now?

Running Bright Leads Media, it’s been going on for like 3 years now. We’re trying to branch out to other services, not just SEO, because that’s what we focus on mostly. 

We do a little bit of B2B lead generation, we do a little bit of email marketing setup, but the flagship work is mostly just SEO. We added web development, which is something that comes along with SEO, because if somebody comes to you and they need help with ranking their site on Google, and they end up getting a lot of technical errors, so we end up helping them with a lot of the technical side of things on the site.

As for what else I’m working on, I have a website, a job board for remote jobs. That’s something I started pretty recently, it’s called Preferably Remote. It’s still in the works, still in development, but we tried to do a soft launch a few months back and that’s just a place where we want to show people the importance of remote work, where they can find remote jobs, how they can actually land those jobs and successfully apply, because the process is a little different from regular jobs, and there’s a lot of opportunity there. 

I also started a newsletter recently, called eComSuccess, that one is about detailed e-commerce case studies for people who are interested in just learning about how these brands came to be successful, how they went from doing nothing to doing millions, and billions in some cases. 

So those are the three major things I’m working on right now, but I have a lot of stuff I’m excited about for 2021, I love the fact I have a team who helps me out with things, I’m a little bit lazy so delegating things helps.

We’re up to about 7 people now, excluding me, so whenever I have something I know I have a few people I can rely on to build this, build that, and that’s pretty exciting.

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Before founding Bright Leads, were you doing SEO on your own?

Yeah, so before that, I was always just building websites, way back in 2005, so making websites and putting ads on some of them, because that was pretty much the only way to make money.

And then I got my first check from Adsense all the way to Morocco from California in 2006, and it was a pretty decent 4-figure check from someone who’d just started. Then I learned SEO, and I’ve been mostly doing things on my own.

Then I started learning how to deal with clients, offering services as a freelancer, and then it kind of evolved into an agency around 2016.

SEO is always changing. How do you expect it to change in 2021?

Over the last five years, I’d say that Google was pretty much not doing anything different, because when you talk SEO it’s Google, but this year they’re changing a lot of things. They’re introducing Core Web Vitals, so they’re going to put a lot of focus on speed and user experience, a lot more importance to those items, so you’re going to see a lot of websites and people running to fix the speed issues on their websites.

We’re talking billion-dollar companies that will have speed issues with their sites, especially when it comes to Google metrics. If you go to PageSpeed Insights, and test any websites, in most cases they won’t get up to like 80 percent.

It drives me nuts, honestly, because we have clients who come in and say – they have 20/100, they want to move the needle a little, and they’re happy with moving it to maybe 30 or something, and we have to hire outside help for people who specialize in speed.

So I think the speed thing, especially regarding how it measures on the Google tools, is going to be a huge thing. And, obviously, the user experience is something that’s extremely important.

Technically speaking, that’s the only thing that people are going to be looking at.

Starting an agency is a trendy thing to do – what’s your advice for people who want to start an agency?

My advice would be, just get your processes right. Get your systems in place, you have to have the whole process outlined way before you start, we’re talking about knowing exactly how to onboard clients. 

And we’re talking about after signing clients. Because getting clients is not really that difficult, it’s what happens after you get the clients that’s important. Whatever you sell, it’s important, you have to have a well thought-out plan on how to take that client from point A to point B. 

You need to have reporting in place, deliverables, and then you have to have every step of the way planned out before you get started. So you can get people to be happy with the work you do, and have them satisfied with the work after you’re done with it.

Can you clarify a little on getting clients? Where do most of yours come from?

For someone like me, I think I gave a lot of value on social media, and have built this audience. I didn’t really build it on purpose, it just came, so I built this website that has courses for free, and I asked people to sign up if they wanted to benefit from that, so I got know for that.

Before that I was always doing these lives on Facebook, giving out value all the time.

So I built my personal brand, and now the personal brand is what’s driving all these clients coming to me. Before we used to just say yes to everybody, but now we’re at the point where we are pretty comfortable to say no to a lot of people, so we pretty much interview clients before making a decision. We can set our pricing to a specific amount, and not just say yes to anybody.

When & where do you read Stacked Marketer? What’s that routine?

With my time zone, I get it around 12, so sometimes I read it right around lunchtime, 12 PM or 1 PM sometimes. Or, I keep it until about 5 PM – but I’m a loyal reader!

Do you have any favorite books on business & marketing?

In terms of business books, I like Cashvertising, and I like Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, those are my two favorites in terms of business.

But I started branching out into reading stuff that’s not just business-related. I enjoy Atomic Habits, by James Clear. We went to school, at the same college, around the same time frame so that was cool to see when reading the book.

Do you play video games? If you do, what are you playing?

I play FIFA and PES. I used to play PES mostly, since 2008, but I got a Nintendo Switch for my daughter which only has FIFA, so I play FIFA now too. But just last week, I got a Play Station and now I have both, so I’m trying to figure out which one’s better.

Honestly, they’re pretty much the same now.

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Do you have a morning routine?

I was thinking about this, just this morning. I’m waking up late now, everyone’s extremely busy at home, and I’m waking up at like 8:30 or 9 AM – which is late! In the usual pre-COVID days, it was always like 7 or 7:30.

To me, morning routines are not something important. I tried doing the miracle morning, 5 AM thing, I tried it for a few months but it didn’t click. I was too tired all the time. 

To me, it’s just going with the flow. 

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What’s your least favorite SEO tactic?

I’d say PBNs. It’s what a lot of people are still using, and it’s something that actually got burned in 2014. That’s what took me from running websites to doing freelance, because you had an income stream and then it was all gone.

So PBNs are still alive and kicking, but to me it’s something that if you’re going to put all that work into building a PBN, you might as well just do the right thing and do the stuff white-hat, focus on user experience and answering people’s questions.

Other than that, it’s just focusing on legitimate ways to get backlinks. And that’s been working just fine over the last five years.

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What’s been your experience with online marketing events this year?

Well, nothing beats in person. It’s an excuse for me to travel, get out of here, and meet new people. I’ve had a lot of fun at the Barcelona one, Affiliate World, and then I went to the Bangkok one in 2019 as well.

It’s just fun, and I do a lot of events regionally in Morocco and Europe. I’ve been invited to speak all over the place. And there’s so much that’s different from online events, and I’ve seen a lot of direct impact from speaking at AdWorld. So I was surprised by the number of people who watched my speech and reached out to me.

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So, the conclusion is, in-person is something you’re looking forward to in 2021?

After probably June, I guess. You get the added benefit of traveling, so yes. 

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