How Jon Zacharias’ SEO ‘obsession’ created online success

Though he started his career with a law degree, GR0 cofounder Jon Zacharias found himself being pulled in a different direction when he learned about search engine optimization and quickly saw an e-commerce marketing opportunity others ignored. 

Zacharias attended the California Western School of Law in San Diego while working a job on the side to pay for his education. It was there that he realized his true calling was SEO. 

“I have a law degree, and when I was in law school, I was working for one of my dad’s friends at a wage-an-hour class action law firm. I realized that I was way more interested in getting the cases than litigating them,” Zacharias reflected. Instead of following his original path toward law practice, Zacharias found himself drawn to learn more about SEO.

Though SEO is a practice, many websites now use it to make their content digestible by search engines like Google. At the time, only the law and medical fields were utilizing it. Zacharias quickly became “obsessed” with the practice and found himself pursuing a consulting role as an SEO expert rather than continuing his legal career after getting his law degree.

Over the next several years, his efforts led to him working for companies across the country as an SEO consultant and honing his craft along the way. This knowledge served him well when he started his digital marketing agency, GR0

“I spent the next seven, eight years, from 2011 to 2019, when we started the company perfecting the science behind SEO, and then once I had that perfected, I started applying tactics that had never been used in e-commerce. It was really like the second wave of SEO,” he recalled. 

Unfortunately, his journey paused in 2016. Zacharias found himself facing addiction, eventually making a choice to enter rehab. He was a new man when he emerged and had a new business partner by his side. 

“We immediately became best friends, talking every single second,” Zacharias said about meeting his GR0 cofounder Kevin Miller, “I feel like my entire life shifted as soon as I met him.”

Miller had his success in the tech and marketing works, including time spent at Google and Opendoor, where he was the head of growth. Utilizing his Bachelor’s in Business, Management, & Marketing from Georgetown University in DC, Miller was helping digital companies grow and volunteering on the side. That was where he met Zacharias. 

“I got sober in November of 2016 with the support of [residential drug rehab center] CRI-Help,” Zacharias said, reminiscing on the time he spent there with Miller. The journey to rehabilitation from substance abuse was certainly not easy, but Zacharias saw a new opportunity with Miller at his side.

With Zacharias’ SEO knowledge and consulting experience and Miller’s time working for Google itself, a plan quickly came together, “I was showing him how to grow traffic through SEO, and he loved it so much that he was like, ‘let’s just start a business and do this for as many direct-to-consumer brands as we can because it’s such a powerful channel,'” Zacharias recalled. 

It took some time to get off the ground. Still, Zacharias and Miller founded their company, GR0, in Los Angeles in 2020, during a unique period in which businesses found themselves more desperate than ever to invest in their online presence during a global pandemic fully. 

Now, GR0 has more than 75 employees. The agency has grown into a full-blown business with a great track record among their big-name clients, including major companies like Venus Et Fleur, Nugenix, and Funboy and Theragun, among many others. Zacharias couldn’t be prouder to be using their newfound success to “match the hottest direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands” with big-name outlets and celebrities to “create real partnerships.”

Both business and creativity are in Zacharias’ blood. His grandfather, Richard Zacharias, brought the Dove ice cream bar to the masses as part-owner of the company. His father, Steve Zacharias, became a household name for writing the iconic film Revenge of the Nerds. GR0 allows Zacharias himself to combine his inherited entrepreneurial spirit with his artistic eye to take brands to the next level.

“I understand the importance of paying it forward,” Zacharias explained, thinking
back on how the support of others changed his life. “So I do want to help as many people as possible. And concerning helping other people grow, I want to help small business owners as much as possible.”