I recently seized the opportunity to interview Duane Baumgartner of City Ranked Media, Vancouver, WA. Duane is a Search Engine Optimization & Search Engine Marketing expert and founder of City Ranked Media. He has 15+ years experience assisting small business owners in obtaining positive results with their internet advertising. He is a dedicated student of the SEO world and Google AdWords certified. Duane was raised in Oregon and is a resident of Vancouver, WA today. His passion is being directly involved in seeing his clients grow their business through the services City Ranked Media provides and takes pride in providing innovative, out of the box ideas to build and grow on.
Adam: Tell us how City Ranked Media got it’s wings.
Duane: I remember running across an article that projected business owners in the next year were going to spend 40% more in Search Engine Optimization services than the previous year. At the time I had been working for a large advertising company selling print and some internet based products, including PPC campaigns. I had become proficient on the internet side and believed that was where I could make the largest impact in helping small businesses and decided to go out on my own and start City Ranked Media. I began using drag and drop editors and was really in the dark trying to make my way through it. I came to the realization that this wasn’t going to fly and I had to find a long term solution.
Adam: So how did you make the leap from using a drag and drop editor to becoming proficient with WordPress?
Duane: I came up with 5 key features I needed to have to offer a more professional and diverse product set for my clients. I didn’t understand how FTP really worked. I had no background in PHP, HTML or CSS. Through this process of searching, Drupal, Joomla and WordPress became the clear options to move forward with, and WordPress became the committed path. I downloaded it and it was pretty daunting. I was one of these guys that was scouring the internet to find ways to use WordPress. I probably spent over $1,000 on how-to white papers and other programs claiming to teach how to use WordPress. None of it clicked with me. I was searching one day for WordPress classes and a blog for Lorelle VanFossen popped up. I noticed she offered a class and it was going to start in 8 days, so I rushed down to Clark College and became an official student.
Adam: What is one thing you have run up against with WordPress, that in a perfect world, you would like to see done differently?
Duane: Understanding that WordPress is dynamic, but also taking in to count that speed is critical to effective Search Engine Optimization, I would try to figure out a way to make it faster. Other than that, I can’t think of a single thing I would change with WordPress. They consistently come out with updated versions, including advanced capabilities. In just the 2014 calendar year updates, the media uploader and the ability to interact with media on the site is much more functional and significantly improved.
Adam: How would you compare the WordPress support community to others you have been engaged with?
Duane: An unsolicited chuckle; The support for the drag and drop editor companies I referred to earlier, was trying to get a hold of them on the phone before 5pm. If I was not able to get connected, it was my experience I was waiting until the next day to get on the phone again. Maybe it has changed since then, but that was my experience. With WordPress, you just have to be tenacious enough to get the answers out there on the internet. They are available, and the more experience I grew from, the easier it was to find the correct answers. If you are confident in your abilities and are willing to apply what you learn, you will be very happy with WordPress.
Adam: I understand you have grown your business significantly in the last 24 months. How do you feel WordPress has been a contributor to that growth?
I can, without a shadow of a doubt, tell you that if I had not invested in WordPress and the learning process that accompanies it, we would not be where we are at right now. I can guarantee that. WordPress has made it simple to deploy new content, which is critical to the performance of SEO at City Ranked Media. Because there are so many people who contribute to the WordPress community on the free or paid level, I am able to offer my clients just about anything they want on their websites. Typically, what I do tell my clients is if you can think it or find an example of something that is being done on a website, it is likely we can make it happen.
Adam: This is my last question, and I appreciate very much the time you have shared with me. What would you tell someone who was looking to start their own Web Development/SEO firm today?
Duane: One of the reasons I feel we have been successful to this point is I didn’t focus on what other people were doing. Because of my background and experience, I had some specific things I recognized that small business owners told me, themselves, that I knew I would deploy as a foundation to my business. If I positioned my clients correctly and their websites clearly represented what they specialized in, phone calls, qualified leads and business growth would follow, which would be rewarded with a smile, trust and a long term relationship that we strive to earn every month at City Ranked Media.
That would be the advice I would offer. Find a solution that separates yourself from other people. Make sure it has potential based on data and a strong personal conviction, and go for it.
Adam: Thank you, Duane, for the great insight on the importance of WordPress to you and City Ranked Media. Your interview offers timeless personal experience to anyone seriously seeking a future with Web Development and SEO services. We wish you the best of continued success.
Learn more about Duane Baumgartner and City Ranked Media:
- Duane’s Blog
- City Ranked Media Recent Case Studies – SEO vs. PPC
- City Ranked Media Facebook
- City Ranked Media Linkedin
- Duane’s Original Blog – Built in Lorelle VanFossen’s WordPress Class