Digital MarketingI AM CEO PODCASTMarketingSEO

IAM1796 – Digital Marketer Constructs Powerful SEO Strategies

Podcast Interview with Jason Khoo

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, host Gresham Harkless Jr. interviews Jason Khoo, the founder of Zupo, an SEO consulting agency that helps clients construct powerful long-term SEO strategies. Jason shares his journey in digital marketing, including his experience freelancing in college, co-founding an SEO and web design agency, and ultimately selling it.

He also discusses the importance of building a strong foundation for SEO, including conducting thorough keyword research, optimizing website content, and building high-quality backlinks.

Additionally, Jason shares practical tips and advice for entrepreneurs looking to improve their SEO efforts, including the importance of staying up-to-date with industry trends and understanding the needs of the target audience.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights and inspiration for anyone looking to improve their website's search engine rankings and drive more traffic to their business.

Check out one of our favorite CEO Hack’s CEO Web Shop. Get your free audiobook and check out more of our favorite CEO Hacks HERE.

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Jason Khoo Teaser 00:00

Yeah, so I think a big thing for me is we've taken a different angle when it comes to SEO. I haven't been in the space where I unintentionally with my first agency became, I don't wanna say a churning business, but we helped a lot of local, small businesses who didn't have big budgets.

So what ended up happening is we had 30 clients and me being like the main account manager.

Intro 00:20

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:47

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit over 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are gonna be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on the visibility game, a.k.a. Marketing, Advertising, PR, and Sales. I often say the name of the game is being found, and these tools will help you to do that. We have heard the philosophical question, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If there's a really, really great product or service and no one knows about it, how great is it really? What impact does it ultimately make? This is where we will go into this month. Looking at visibility, branding, marketing, public relations, sales being the lifeblood of businesses, building many companies, and so much more.

This is probably one of the most exciting and probably the most excruciating topics, but we hope this month to demystify or maybe even vanquish the fear and help and arm you with the tools to be able to increase your visibility. So buckle up and sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Jason Khoo of Zupo. Jason, it's awesome to you on the show.

Jason Khoo 02:16

Happy to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:17

Super excited to have you on. Before we jumped in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Jason so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

And Jason Khoo started doing digital marketing freelancing back in college. When graduating, he co-founded an SEO and web design agency that he ultimately sold. He now is the founder of Zupo which is an SEO consulting agency, that helps construct powerful long-term SEO strategies for their clients.

Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and re-watching the Simpsons for the 20th time.

Jason, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

Jason Khoo 02:49

Yeah. Happy to do it.

Gresham Harkless 02:50

Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I guess I wanted to hear how everything got started. Can you take us through your CEO story and what led you to get started with your business?

Jason Khoo 02:57

Yeah, so my story pretty much starts in college. When I was in college the Zuckerbergs of the world were really at the forefront. I think Facebook and Twitter were really hitting their stride and so it was all the rage to start a business in college. I really wanted to do that too. The problem was I wasn't a programmer. I didn't have strong technology skills where I could build a platform. I was like messing around in my dorm and in college, like buying books on investing, business entrepreneurship, just trying to get something going.

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The one thing that caught was that, one summer I did a free in, when I say free internship, I don't know why I say it like that. It's because it was free because I didn't get paid. So it's free for the business, but I did this internship where I learned some SEO skills, and I remember the CEO always saying in this internship, this is one of those skills where the best thing you could do is not get another internship, but just start doing it for businesses.  So, I tried going the normal route of asking my friends and family for any businesses that I could help with, and nothing really caught.

So, for me, the big moment was like, I guess my number one fear before I got all this started was like starting a business and seeing it fail. Nothing was scarier than that. But I told myself like, college is a very formative year. I had strong friends and you can either run away from it or fight head-on. So I remember I was hyped up the night before by a really good friend of mine, and then on January 17th of 2013, I woke up in the morning, put a tie on some khakis, and I went to my local university town and just knocked on their door, like asking if they would give me a shot.

Lo and behold, I got lucky that first day. One said yes and then I pretty much just started my entire SEO career.

Gresham Harkless 04:42

Nice. I absolutely love that. You have to a lot of times look outside the box and look for opportunities when that one door may not open you keep finding the doors if you're really want to be able to try to do that and build the business.

So, I know I touched on it a little bit when I read your bio, but could you take us through your company exactly what you're doing to support the clients you work with?

Jason Khoo 05:00

Yeah, so Zupo is my SEO company. And just a little background on Zupo and why it's named that is, Zupo is in Chinese at Zu Po and that's what my great grandma was called in Chinese. And so, she was really instrumental in my own family. She took care of my father and myself and I won't go into the family dynamic, but she didn't really need to, let's just say. So when my mom had me, she was bedridden. She flew across the world to take care of me. So why I named it Zupo was to demonstrate the same attributes my great-grandmother did is she took care of my entire family but got like zero Spotlight. And Zupo, what we do with is a lot of SEO consulting.

SEO is the one part of marketing that's not very showy. It doesn't have a lot of Social media as not in your face, but a lot of the work we do in the background helps people rank. So that's just a little bit about Zupo and why we named it that. But second, about what we do and the clients we serve. Zupo, we help a lot of B2B clients. So we do a lot of work with any businesses that are trying to work in the B2B space.

Ironically, a lot of my clients are marketing agencies. A lot of marketing agencies today, they do the whole suite of things. I actually help a lot of market agencies do their own SEOs so that they can rank in search and optimization. All along that note, I do help a couple of startups, tech startups based in Orange County, and then some engineering firms. So anyone generally in the B2B space is who we serve.

Gresham Harkless 06:22

Yeah, it makes so much sense. A lot of times, and I don't know if you find this a lot too, is when you are in that marketing space, sometimes we can get clumped together and say that you do everything, but in reality, each digital marketing or agency usually has their own lane or their own kind of thing they prefer to do, to say the least.

And you have that opportunity to help them and also sometimes compliment them as well.

Jason Khoo 06:41

Correct. I think it works well when you can work with someone who's honest and transparent with their own skillset. I used to be afraid of saying oh, I'm not your guy for PPC, or I'm not really your guy for website design.

But it actually makes you more, I think, like trustworthy when you say that. I think other marketing agencies get that, and that's why I've had a lot of success is, once you tear down the need to look like a hot shot, I think things get much farther along.

Gresham Harkless 07:11

So you either partner or hire or do whatever to find those things that you're not weaker at. You're not trying to say, I know how to do all of the things and I have no weaknesses. Because that's not true really for anybody or really probably company either.

Jason Khoo 07:22

Yeah, if I'm on a sales call or meeting or I just hear someone say, I can do that, I can do that. I'm like, you've said that five times now. Now I'm getting nervous. How many times have you said that?

Gresham Harkless 07:32

Exactly. No, that makes so much sense. I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. This is for you or your organization, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Jason Khoo 07:41

Yeah, so I think with a big thing for me is we've taken a different angle when it comes to SEO. I haven't been in the space where I unintentionally with my first agency became, I don't wanna say a churning business, but we helped a lot of local, small businesses who didn't have big budgets. So what ended up happening is we had 30 clients and me being like the main account manager. If you're working weekends, a call a day. If you wanna stay one day a month, talking to each client, and if you're in marketing, that's the bare minimum to be talking to someone, I feel like.

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So, the angle I took with Zupo this time around is I really focus on high touch and very strong communication. So the clients I work with we're in the B2B space and the angle we have taken is, I am not your SEO service and we're not your SEO service. If you want to just hire us, we're in the background. I think a lot of people think of SEO that way, and the angle that we have taken and it has just been much more fruitful is SEO like any marketing campaign is a hands need to help each other kind of game. And so I will construct these big SEO strategies and I will work with clients on getting the resources to do so.

So for a lot of my clients, I tell them, we figure out collaboratively. What's your end goal? What are the keywords we wanna rank for? But I work with them, say, okay, for us to do that, you need to have this much content come out. What operations can we put in place? Do you have writers on hand? Are you gonna write it? Do you need us to help you? Second, we need you to do more interviews, and thought leadership. Or just be out there in the community more, what resources do you have? And I think that's where our value comes in, is that we don't just tell you what you need to do.

Every business knows what they need to do, but the hard part is pulling your resources and knowing how you're gonna get there. So that's where we help is on a week-to-week and a month-to-month level. I'm on my clients of Hey, your content's late. If we're gonna hit our goals, we need to get this out. Then second, advising clients as we're progressing. This clearly isn't our strong point, so we should probably pull resources away from that and focus on what we're good at. So it's utilizing typical business strategies in the SEO sets. That's where our secret sauce is that high touch, high strategy, and iterating on that with clients on a week-to-week level.

Gresham Harkless 09:52

Awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This could be an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Jason Khoo 10:02

So, the hack that I have been really working on this year in 2020 is like utilizing mental energy. And the reason, why I'm so big about this, is because, like growing up and especially I think in modern media and I live in the US and I'm assuming most of your listeners would too, like the way we get our motivation, inspiration is usually through athletics. I'm a big NBA fan. I was in my entire life. Like it's easy when it's physical oh, you should run, but don't run too much because you might overdo it. But when it comes to like your mental energy, like there's like almost zero literature about it. So a lot of my hacks that I wanna talk about today is utilizing your mental energy.

So the strategy I use right now is called the old ultradian rhythm. It's similar to circadian rhythm where you need to eat and sleep every day. Apparently, there's some science, and I'm not a scientist, so please reach out if what I'm saying has no basis. But from what I've read in studies I've read, there's an ultradian rhythm where our bodies go through their own cycle every hour and a half to two hours.

So what I do is I literally hack my day into four to five slots of an hour and a half to two hours, where I will literally plan in those 1.5 to 2 hours what I will do. Then in between them, I take a 25 to 30-minute break, no phone, no laptop, no reading whatsoever, and I feel like I have been much more productive doing so.

Gresham Harkless 11:26

Yeah, absolutely. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It could be around SEO or kind of anything related to business or something you might tell, either a client or maybe even your younger business self.

Jason Khoo 11:38

Yeah. I was gonna ask you real quick for the nugget side. Would it be better for me to give advice to like newer entrepreneurs or just like any business owner? What's your thought on that?

Gresham Harkless 11:47

So it's all about like driving up to that next level, whatever that might be. Whether it be a new business owner or a more established business owner. So I don't know if that helps out.

Jason Khoo 11:55

I'll give two nuggets then just hit both a little bit. So my first nugget for the more like the newer entrepreneurs or someone who's like going into a new thing in their life, whether it be marketing or whatever it might be. Something I have found with my own peers and my own life is everyone tells you to find a mentor and get advice. That's great, but I think the new lesson to learn is when to not take advice and be okay with it. If you are starting out as an entrepreneur, you are going to get 360 degrees level of advice.

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It's not even going to be like, oh yeah, I got like this fortune cookie little advice. People will tell you really passionate, like advice that it's almost like the joke of they're almost like projecting their morals onto their advice and you almost feel bad for not taking it.  I would tell people like, get all the advice you can, but ultimately you need to make a decision quickly and you need to make the decision, not that you feel someone else is right about. It's the one that gives you peace of mind that you can sleep.

Gresham Harkless 12:55

I definitely appreciate that nugget. I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show. So Jason, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Jason Khoo 13:07

I'm not one for titles. I don't love titles, and I don't like what it can do to some people. I think it creates this weird level of artificial distancing. But I think and at the filming of this is when a lot of the craziness of the world is happening. I think CEOs come down to leadership in the background. I'm not super duper Philosophical, but compared to the average person, I am pretty into reading philosophy and all this stuff, and there's a Taoist saying that I really subscribe to. So I'm gonna pivot. I think this is what it means to be a CEO and this is kind of my answer.

They say the best leaders are the ones you never hear about. The second-best leaders are the ones that you rave about. The third are the ones that you hate. They say the best leaders are the ones you don't know exist because they're planning and contingency and their ability to develop people is so good you don't even know that they were there. The second best are the ones that I think the average person thinks are the best, are the ones that we herald, right? Oh my God, they were so amazing, and no one is gonna be like them. Those are actually the second best. So I think that the key for our CEO is learning how to almost run an organization and be a leader that doesn't need you.

I think that it's almost like a life issue. But anyways, talking about business though being a CEO I think is doing that. It's not being like an amazing person or having the fame or everything. I think most of us know that. But it's yes, being able to delegate and run an organization, but on another level. It, almost not meeting you and no one knowing that you were the leader. I think that's what it means in the journey of being a CEO.

Gresham Harkless 14:46

Awesome. Jason, definitely appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get old of you and find out about all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Jason Khoo 14:59

Yeah. In terms of anything additional, I don't think there's much there. I can go on talking for a long time, so I just encourage everyone to feel free to reach out. I can provide a SEO advice or when I say business advice, sometimes I feel like it's more like a life and how to deal with life as a business owner advice. So I'd be happy to discuss that.

There are a lot of books and stuff that I love reading, so I can provide resources. So if any of your readers or fans or anything want that, feel free to reach out, this is a tip. I do a lot of speaking and I always tell people you, here's my personal email. Email me any questions because I can't get through all of them today. For every 50 people I see, I think two will reach out and of the two when I respond, only one of the two will even keep the email thread. So if you feel like we're not gonna reach out and Gresham's smiling because he knows this, we will, you just need to reach out.

Gresham Harkless 15:50


Jason Khoo 15:51

Yeah. So that's why I would say. Then in order to reach me you can visit my website, You can find all the information there and you can shoot me an email and I'll see it anyway, so I can reach out to you that way, or I can get back to you that way.

Gresham Harkless 16:08

Awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much again, Jason. We will have the links and information in the show notes, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:12

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcast, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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