Speaker 0 00:00:00 It's not just some magical thing that you have to do, you have to prove that you deserve that position to be able to unroot that listing. And that means better content, better user experience, cross browser, we're talking privacy, accessibility, security, and then visibility off the website by showing a pattern of new links and mentions and curation. And then eventually, it's all about how the users interact with that listing. And that doesn't happen overnight. So, you know, setting a year expectation is the best thing I think you can do as an agency.
Speaker 2 00:00:29 Welcome to the Agency Hour. This week we have an absolute epic masterclass in SEO's strategy for you. Take notes. We have Steve Wiedman in the building all the way from California, and we tackle everything from gathering organic and authentic referrals, outreach for link partners, and how you can create an SEO strategy in one day for free. I'm Troy Dean, stay with us. Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to another episode of the agency, our podcast brought to you by Agency Mavericks. And my special guest this week is Steve Weedman. All the way from California, I believe. Is that right? Steve
Speaker 0 00:01:08 Los Angeles. You
Speaker 2 00:01:09 Got it. Los Angeles. Whereabouts in LA are you based?
Speaker 0 00:01:12 Uh, right on the border of Orange County, LA in Laora. If you're at Disneyland and you had 10 minutes north, you're right there.
Speaker 2 00:01:18 Perfect. Love it. I love Orange County. I was out there a few weeks ago for one of our events in San Diego, and I spent a night in Orange County cuz some customers of mine, uh, musos, and they organized a rehearsal session and it happened to be down in Irvine. And uh, it's super pretty down there.
Speaker 0 00:01:34 Yeah, it's really nice. People are great. It's, uh, we, we have something called the Orange Curtain here, right between LA and Orange County. You've got LA really hyper focused on, on fashion and celebrity news and, um, you know, and, and it's just a, it's a completely different, um, way of life. And you go to Orange County, it's a bit more around style than fashion, right? It's, you know, um, a little more, um, personal space required in Orange County than you get in la. So it's, it's a little bit of a different culture, but being right in the middle makes it kind of weird.
Speaker 2 00:02:06 Yeah, yeah. There is a lot of personal space in Orange County. That's one of the, one of the things I enjoyed about it. I'd spend, I'd spend a couple of nights in Los Angeles with friends and it was refreshing to get to Orange County and have some room to think and some room to brief. Uh, now for those that don't know, who are you and what are you doing here on our podcast?
Speaker 0 00:02:23 I am just another digital marketing nerd. Uh, been in that, in the digital space about 25 years. Um, I had the opportunity to go back to school after my time in the military here and get a degree in e-business management. And I basically just fell in love with everything digital. One of my, my jobs at IBM Global Services was to move what was print output to the web. And one day I had the epiphany that, hey, maybe every, every business at some point might actually have one of these website things, you know? And, uh, and turned out I was right and I picked the rights, uh, you know, path to go down and, and, uh, ended up with some really exciting jobs at, at Disney and, uh, working for ticketing companies that are similar to Ticketmaster. And, um, eventually kind of went off on my own and decided, Hey, I'm gonna be close to home and, and, uh, you know, and, and, uh, really explore my passion for what I do in search.
Speaker 0 00:03:16 So 2010, I started a little agency and, um, uh, evolved into a consultancy. And now 12 years later, you know, we consult for, uh, quite a few multi-location restaurant chains and, um, some fun e-commerce websites, a few attorneys and some HVAC companies. Um, we get to really explore the depths of, you know, what we can do from a, an organic search marketing perspective, and how we can marry that to all the other disciplines in digital to try to see the best results across the board. So as a, as an agency, it's a consultancy. It's been, it's been really exciting to kinda watch that growth and to work with some really, really fun clients and, um, and just be nerds. That's the best part.
Speaker 2 00:03:57 Awesome. Love it. Um, I wanna talk, we'll come to the agency, uh, talk, talk about Disney. What was your role at Disney?
Speaker 0 00:04:04 I was the, um, s SCM account manager for disneyland.com adventures by Disney. So on the Disneyland side, I had commerce and marketing different departments, one based outta Burbank, one based out of Anaheim. So my, my role there, of course was to try to maximize the visibility and search, um, for the marketing team and sell as many damn tickets as I could for the, for the commerce team. And, um, and sometimes working with both groups to see how we can allocate budget and say, you know, our paid search budget runs out on tickets around noon. Perhaps we can reallocate some of this marketing budget that you're just throwing away on search impressions to see if we can get a little bit more ticket sales. Um, and also to protect keywords like, um, you know, the, the keyword, Disneyland, for example, was one of the top performing keywords for pay per click.
Speaker 0 00:04:53 And when Disney Parks came in and said, we're gonna do disney parks.com and, um, all this amazing thing, things that we, we wanna do for marketing. And I said, well, hopefully you're not gonna take these really high converting, you know, conversion terms. And they're like, yeah, we wanna use the word Disneyland and poach that from your campaign for marketing purposes. And I'm like, so you're looking at, I don't know, two, $4 million a month of lost revenue. You sure you wanna do that? You know, and so my job part of that was to protect, you know, the, the important keywords from being thrown around into marketing when they really worked well for commerce, because Disney Parks wasn't a site you could buy tickets on. Um, the other part was Adventures by Disney, which was this new brand that Disney had for family travel. So family travel to, um, you know, to Ireland family travel to China, all sorts of really, um, uh, travel related keywords that were meant to, uh, hopefully give them to, uh, give them more customers.
Speaker 0 00:05:49 And what the challenge was at the time was that it was a flash based website. And so I said, Hey, hey boss, can I, can I please, can I please work with the dev folks and make this page crawlable so that search engines can actually read the words that are on the page, not just see a Swift file from, from Flash and, and make it an actual website, not just a flash thing. And I had to prove to him that, that I could do it. And, and part of that process, uh, was showing him that I could rank organically for something, and he challenged me to rank for SEO expert. And so, you know, I went out, built up little five page websites and did all the things, titles, descriptions, headings, image names, video, um, got some links from the, the school that I went to and, um, you know, some other, uh, really strong trustworthy sources.
Speaker 0 00:06:33 And sure enough, I get to the first page and I walk up to my boss and I'm like, now I can take this to, uh, to HTML from Flash, because I'm on page one for SEO expert. And he goes, no, you're, you're not number one. I'm like, you kidding me? So I go back, I do some talks, I ask people to search for where I am. I ask for a show of hands of people who, who actually clicked on my listing. I thank them, uh, because they played a role in helping to show the search engines that I was the best result by their search behavior actions <laugh>. So between the, you know, the, the relevancy side of creating an SEO expert page, the, um, off page side to get Google to find links to crawl to those pages and rank them, and the user behavior signals of users actually clicking on them. Um, I got to that number one spot and I held it for 12 years. Before that, the industry finally told me the reason we're blacklisting you from speaking at all of our events is because we think you're a bragger for being number one for SEO expert. I'm like, well, you're gonna wait this long to tell me
Speaker 2 00:07:29 <laugh>. So
Speaker 0 00:07:30 I finally got rid of the page and now I'm, I'm a big part of the community and I'm just embracing the friendships and the relationships and the experiences that I get to have. But, um, adventures by Disney did go each tml, and we did get the, the traffic we needed. We augmented paid with organic, and it worked like a champ there.
Speaker 2 00:07:47 Excellent. Oh, what a, what a great story. What a great story. Uh, I'm, one of the first websites I built was for a, a cinematographer friend of mine here in Melbourne, and of course it was in Flash, and it was fabulous. And he came back to me about 12 months later and he said, and I didn't charge him for it because we were buddies back then, and I didn't know what I was doing. And he came back about 12 months later and he said, Hey, listen, I want you to build me a proper website. And I was offended. I was like, what do you mean I did build you a proper website that's gorgeous. And he said, no, no, no one that people can actually find. I'm like, oh. And so I had discovered the, you know, back then it was, I don't know, 2000 and
Speaker 0 00:08:21 Whatever, he's site operator and you're like, there's one URL in the search results.
Speaker 2 00:08:23 Yeah, <laugh>.
Speaker 0 00:08:24 That's right. We need to have like a hundred pages in the search results, not just one that says s swf in the description.
Speaker 2 00:08:30 Exactly. So I had to learn how to build, how to take, how to take all my websites outta Flash and put them into HTML and CSS and realize that I had to kind of give up on the dream of having the, you know, being a web animator because nobody cares. They were the good old days, weren't they? But
Speaker 0 00:08:47 It was so fun. It was so fun to play at a flash though.
Speaker 2 00:08:49 So much fun. I remember the first time I, I, I viewed the source code in a browser. This, I'm talking Netscape navigator a long time ago. I viewed the source code in the browser. I'm like, what? I can view the source code that built this website. This isn't, I felt like I, I was sure the police were gonna knock on the door any minute and go, Hey, what are you doing? Like this is, this has gotta be, this has gotta be illegal. Um, but you mentioned something about the community. That's the one thing that I've really enjoyed over the years being heavily involved in the WordPress space, is that the community of nerds is pretty cool, isn't it? And they've, and they've, we've, I find mo for, for the most part, a very sharing community, just wanting to help each other out and, um, you know, relatively Yeah, right, relatively egoless. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:09:40 And, and when we all wanna see each other grow and there's enough, there's enough business out there. Every business needs a website and needs seo. So there's, there's plenty of work for all of us. Yeah. And the more we learn from each other, the better we all get. So I'm, I'm all about that.
Speaker 2 00:09:52 That's a great mindset. Um, at what point did you have the confidence to start your own agency and to leave corporate life and go out on your own?
Speaker 0 00:10:01 That's a good question. I, I'd kind of been taken advantage of a bit because of that ranking position that SEO expert position agencies wanted that, um, uh, you know, other, other businesses that we working with at, at the time. They, they all just, I don't know. Um, it got to the point where one of the agencies I was working with was, was taking advantage of me really, really bad. And I'm like, this, this sucks for the drive I have to do and the hours I have to work. I've got two little kids at home that I wanna spend time with. And, um, I just said, you know what? I'm frustrated enough, I've got enough freelance work that I can survive for a few weeks while I go drum up some more business. And, um, and I took a chance and I, I literally walked the neighborhood the same block that we lived on in, in Buena Park at the time.
Speaker 0 00:10:48 And I went to a photography shop, I went to a few car dealerships and I just said, you know, hey, I'm, you know, I'm Steve. I, I live a block away. Um, I just, you know, got done with the tour of working with Disney and IBM and some other really fun brands. And I'm just kinda looking to see if there's any businesses that are doing digital marketing that I could, you know, provide some support to. And what are you, what are you doing at the moment? And can you show me your website? Is your website driving traffic from Google? You're not sure? Do you wanna sit down and look at it? And so we just sat down and for some of 'em, for as many as two or three hours just talking digital marketing. And by the time you're done, you know, looking at their account and giving 'em suggestions, they're like, I need to hire this guy.
Speaker 2 00:11:27 Yeah, yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. What a great strategy. What a great, there's a couple of, there's a couple of things I wanna park here for a second. There's a couple of things here. You had social, you had social proof because you had experience with Disney and ibm, right? So like, excuse me, while I pick those names up off the floor, cuz there, I mean, that's well done. You've leveraged that credibility, but you also are pounding the pavement, walking in the street, introducing yourself as a local part of the community. I'm Steve, I live a few blocks away, so all of a sudden we are part of, of the same tribe. You have credibility because the IBM Disney experience, uh, and then just offering to give them some, some free advice knowing that the law of reciprocity, they will say, well, first of all, you know what you're talking about. I, I could really do with some help. And you are obviously the right person. That's super interesting. How long did it take you to drum up enough business to go, okay, this is a thing. I'm, I'm gonna start this full time and go pro,
Speaker 0 00:12:16 It took a whole month and, and it was 17,000 was what I, when I was able to drive a very first month and it, it blew my mind what I was able to do. And it got addicting. By the end of the third week I was out just, just selling. I was like a full time. I was like, oh my God, this is working. You know? And um, and then I had this dilemma. I just drummed up, uh, a month's worth of, of business and I haven't even started it yet.
Speaker 2 00:12:40 <laugh>,
Speaker 0 00:12:41 I had to do all the work that, that uh, fifth weekend, that first week of the second month, and I was exhausted. I was doing like 20 hours a day just playing ketchup from that whole month of sales. Wow. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:12:52 Were you, uh, were you, were you ever nervous at all that you wouldn't be able to get results for clients? Of course. Or is this, yeah. So how did you manage that? I mean, I I'm sure that, you know, everyone's experiencing imposter syndrome at some point and, and continues to do so throughout their life. And I'm sure that was probably one of those moments where you were like, well, I've bitten off more than I can chew now I really have to deliver on the promise. Did you, I mean, were these back in the good old SEO days where it was relatively easy to get rankings? Or were you still kind of, did you take on any client, I guess the question is, did you, did you say no to some clients because you just knew that you couldn't get them results? Or were you just like, I'm gonna take everyone on and then figure it out?
Speaker 0 00:13:29 <laugh>, that was pretty much, it took everyone on. It was 2010, so it was pre, you know, some of the, the big updates that Google made and expand filters like Panda and Penguin and so forth. So, um, so we had, we had a little bit more of a wild west to play with practices that definitely wouldn't work today, that, that were part of the, the mix of things that we would do. But, um, I wasn't as worried about it. I I, I had to keep reminding myself, I ranked number one for SEO expert, you know, um, I, I know what I'm doing. I've, I've been doing this for some, some really exciting brands. I've written eBooks. Um, I, I host the largest Orange County meetup group with over 750 members of it. I got this, I can do this. You know, and, and so I just went in with that attitude and um, and yeah, there were times where, where I wasn't able to be successful, but most of those times were because the clients wouldn't engage with you when you said, okay, I figured it all out.
Speaker 0 00:14:22 Here's the content we're gonna need to help you to get the results you want. Yeah, I need you to help give me this content. Right? And they're like, yeah, that's, that's not my job. Your job is to make the phone ring and my job is to is to pay you <laugh>. And I'm like, well, I don't know anything about plumbing. I don't know the first thing about, um, car sales, right? So I need you to give me this content. I'll put the pages up, I'll optimize them, I'll get the keywords in for you. Those content sheets, I, I must have handed out, I don't know know hundreds of them over the years, but those first couple years, getting clients to give you back content was virtually impossible. And there wasn't really like text brokers back then, and no, there were some agencies that got in trouble for the way that they were brokering text for SEO that, um, that charged 2000 a page or whatever, or at least lease the pages, but don't sell them to, but there wasn't really like a, a network of writers.
Speaker 0 00:15:15 So I always depended on the clients to provide the content. So that was, that was probably one of the challenging parts. And, and there were times I found myself a content writer for a car salesman, or I found myself a content writer for a plumber. Um, you know, cuz you do what you have to do sometimes if you're not getting the results you want. And plenty of, of two ams in the morning. And now I'm, I'm, I'm pretty well versed in so many industries, not because I wanted to, but because the clients just will never give you content.
Speaker 2 00:15:40 Yeah, oh, totally. There's a whole industry that's grown up around that. There's sas SAS platforms like GA content and content snare that are designed to help make it easier Yeah. To get content from clients. But at the end of the day, how do you solve that problem now in, in having know, knowing what you know now, how do you solve that problem for clients in today's?
Speaker 0 00:15:57 Sure. Um, well in our, our agreements now, we have three blocks that we make them initial, like, I agree that this program requires a web developer, right? And, and that web developer needs to give us at least, you know, two to five hours a week of their support. Um, I agree that this program needs a content writer. Uh, Weedman is gonna, you know, give you the list of search terms, how to organize 'em on the page, um, you know, what, what markup to use for that page. Um, all the, the different clues of what could help to make sure that that page appears for the widest array of keywords that it can. And, um, and we just make sure that they, um, they fill in the blanks. That's all they have to do. And so there's been times though, even, even though they initial it where we will still provision a writer for them. So we do have, you know, several writers now on our team if, if we need to, um, you know, to, to fill that gap for them. But we, we definitely charge a premium for it. And it's to their advantage, you know, to bring somebody in who can get some training and knowledge transfer from us to do the actual writing work.
Speaker 2 00:16:56 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, now I, on your website, I was doing some research before this call and doing some stalking. Um, I wanna understand, I was actually on a boat in Tasmania the weekend just gone, which is a whole other story I won't bore you with, but, uh, one of my, uh, one of my best clients who's in our mastermind was there, and he's an SEO agency and there's a lot of other guys there who are, who have basically grown up in the digital marketing space and are now entrepreneurs in different types of business. There was a guy there who sells biodegradable doggy bags called, oh Crap, it's got a great e-commerce business. Um, there were, you know, there's service based businesses there, there are authors and coaches there. And, and we were talking a lot about search and we were talking about the, the difference between SEO and ads.
Speaker 2 00:17:42 And I just wonder if you can talk a little bit about, you know, the, the challenge that I think a lot of us have is that SEO takes a while, it takes a minute to get results, right? How do you, do you use paid to get the client quick results and get them a quick win while the SEO kicks in? How do you manage the client's expectations through that, that the fact that SEO's gonna take some time? And how do you see paid fitting into the overall search strategy? I know that's a big question, but, um, I just kinda wanted to unpack that for a bit.
Speaker 0 00:18:13 No, it's a great question and, and it's important. Yeah. I, I think, I think it's, it's always best when you can do both. If you can do paid and organic, start building out those, those super competitive, um, uh, keyword rich pages in the beginning and then build helpful, supportive longer tail content underneath them while you're waiting, the paid is great because it gives you the data if you can get into paid right away. And so setting the expectation with the client, you say, here's, here's what we're gonna do. And, and we don't do paid anymore, but if we did, um, other than just provide advice and strategy and audits, um, if we did, we would say, let's, let's focus on a 90 day sprint, um, with, um, with whatever budget you can afford to, to really build out a strong paid search campaign. And then let's take the data from that campaign to help augment our organic SEO strategy.
Speaker 0 00:19:04 That way when someone asks the question, why are you optimizing for this keyword? We can say, because the data show that that keyword generated revenue for us. You can't do the same thing on organic to paid, because Google hides that keyword behind a not provided, it's, it's not something that you can do. So being able to, to look at that. And then, so that's on the content side, on the, the link building side. If you're doing display advertising in paid search, you can, you can actually see which display sites, uh, the, the placement reports, uh, what, what actual links are sending good qualified referral traffic, um, or revenue. And then put that as part of your link building strategy. Why did you go, why did you try to build links on these sites? Because these sites showed through our display advertising that their top converting placements and we'll actually send business.
Speaker 0 00:19:51 So that way you're, you're really using your paid strategy to your paid results to build your organic strategy in many ways, or at least augment it in terms of setting expectations with, with clients. On the organic side of things, the way that we've always tried to articulate it is that the, the content, the first thing that we do to create that, that, um, those initial pages of content take probably about two to three months to show up somewhere on the top three to four pages of the search results. If we did a good job, excuse me, the links can take somewhere between that, that three month to nine month period, you know, before Google recognizes that those links, those votes, you know, are, are credible and, um, and should count toward our rankings to move us to maybe the, the end of page one or the top of page two of the search results.
Speaker 0 00:20:40 And then in the last, you know, three months of the year, it's really about how users are interacting with that listing. Like we were talking about before, how to rank SEO expert. Um, so when, when that user behavior activity kicks in and Google says, okay, I've got a year now of watching this url, I watched as, as it became more and more relevant to different keywords, I tried it from, based on the words I found on the page, I saw more and more other external websites linking to the page. And there was a pattern of growth, not just a spike because I paid someone for a link and then it went away. But a pattern of organic growth and visibility. And I've been watching how users interact with the listing, and maybe it's because you've got a really rich result with a thumbnail next to it, or star ratings or questions and answers that are getting people to click.
Speaker 0 00:21:28 But boy, people are clicking on your listing, and because your developers paid attention to our page experience requirements, your pages are loading really well and people are staying there, and the final destination of their query is your page. So a year later you have this, like, this little flat line growth, and then all of a sudden you get the hockey stick at the end. So I always set the expectation that a, a reasonably competitive page could take you a year to get into the top search results for a keyword. Um, for something like Rolex watches, it took about two and a half years to get our client into the top position for that one. It was a tough one, and it's a lot of work, but, um, but it is the long run. And as long as you set the expectation with the client that you're really gonna feel this beginning a year from the day that you start.
Speaker 0 00:22:14 But up until that year, you're gonna be a little bit frustrated. And, and I actually remember one of the agencies, one of the reasons I I quit the agency world was a client came in and literally yelled at me four months in, spent four months, we're paying $20,000 a month. This is crazy. This is never gonna work. You're supposed to be this big expert, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And, and then, you know, we get into, I think it was somewhere on month six or seven, and he comes in with a gift basket and he's like, like, dude, I was a total jerk. And, and we're already, we're already poised to make $110,000 a month now that we weren't getting before we started with you. And we're now, our online is like now a million dollar business. Wow. And that was a total douche bag to you.
Speaker 0 00:22:55 And so I said, I get it. It's not advertising, it's marketing. It takes time. It takes to unroot a listing that Google's had at the top of the search results for sometimes a decade. You know, it's, it's not just some magical thing that you have to do. You have to prove that you deserve that position to be able to unroot that listing. And that means better content, better user experience, cross browser, we're talking privacy, accessibility, security, um, and then visibility off the website by showing a pattern of new links and mentions and curation. And then eventually it's all about how the users interact with that listing. And that doesn't happen overnight. So, you know, setting a year expectation is the best thing I think you can do as an agency.
Speaker 2 00:23:35 So you, so just clarify, you're no longer in the agency game?
Speaker 0 00:23:39 No, we still, we still support a few of our clients that, that need an extra set of hands, but, uh, we, we really enjoy being the guides and the strategists. And if we get too much into the trenches, we can't be as innovative. You know, we can't be exploring all the, the different new things that we wanna do. And, you know, when, when one of our, our restaurant chains says, how do we get our location pages to appear for specials and catering and delivery and, and takeout, we say, Hey, let's, let's run a study and look at 300 different location pages across the biggest restaurant chains. Your client's not gonna pay you to do that if you're an agency, but if you're a consultancy, you know, they're more than happy to. Cause now you're gonna do the, the research that no one else is gonna take the time to do.
Speaker 2 00:24:20 So you do the consulting and the strategy and then the client implements or you partner with other agencies.
Speaker 0 00:24:26 Sometimes the client, sometimes an agency, sometimes it's a freelancer, sometimes it's even been interns from some of the, the students I teach at the university. So, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:24:36 Interesting. It varies. Um, I wanna talk about link building for a second, or actually specifically, I wanna talk about link buying for a second because, um, this still feels to me like I'm back in 2009, 2010, and it's a bit of the Wild West. It's against Google's terms. Everyone does it. Like, can you just straighten me out here? Like, isn't this whole thing still a popularity contest where I can just buy my way to the top? Yeah,
Speaker 0 00:25:01 Unfortunately, the, the, a lot of the filters have, have lost their power right now. I hope. I hope they bring them back. I was just at event a few weeks ago, some of my peers and they were talking about how, remember all those old school things, we used to do private blog networks and link wheels, and they're all working right now for some reason. And I'm like, but what's gonna happen when they fix it again? They're gonna look back and they're gonna say, whoa, you've got, uh, you've got some, some explaining to do and it's gonna go on your permanent record for that url. Are you sure you wanna do that? Are you gonna take the risks? Um, for us, you know, we, we don't like to, we, we like to, you know, focus around strategy, but I remember what you meant back in the, in the heyday of, of link building.
Speaker 0 00:25:39 We would do the, one of the first ones was something called Internet Business Promoter ibp. And I'm gonna create a directory on our website of all the, um, you know, the businesses that are in different industries. And then I'm gonna go to these other websites that have directories and we're gonna cross link to each other and that be reciprocate links and oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna pay $200 a month and be part of a three way link network and we're all gonna link to them, who's gonna link to him, who's gonna link to him? And we're all gonna just create all these links to see what we can do. And the problem with that is that, that it doesn't satisfy the, the three basic requirements of a, of a quality link. And that that is, you know, is this link likely to, to send qualified referral traffic to our site?
Speaker 0 00:26:21 Um, is this link on a page that's likely to earn links of its own? And that's where the directory failed because who would link to a directory listing page? That's silly, right? Um, and then three, is it likely to be seen by, you know, thousands of people? Is it, is it something where I'm gonna be a Yahoo Finance article or something and, and get some brand awareness out of it. So those kind of the three criteria, and if you look at as you're earning links, um, does it fit into that? Is it, is it something that's gonna be seen by a lot of people and build brand awareness? Is it something that's going to, um, uh, to earn links of its own so it passes genuine page rank, not just, you know, an orphan page linking to us. Um, and is it likely to actually send business our way?
Speaker 0 00:27:02 Um, the way we approach a link strategy and, and we have, um, we have this kind of simplified process for it now, is we start with quick wins and then we go into longer term, um, strategy. And the, the quick wins are something you could do today, right? Is first go into your Google Analytics and, uh, drill into your content reports and look for anything with the title that says not found right? And take all those in the last 90 days or so, uh, map 'em out in a Google sheet and figure out where they need to go, where it makes the most sense. Fix those broken links, right? Um, look at the links from, uh, third party tools like a reps and SCM rush. Figure out which links that are going to you are, are being for forward that can redirect and go somewhere else.
Speaker 0 00:27:45 Or you can do some outreach and get them to fix that. Uh, the next one's something like unlinked mentions. You know, anywhere that, that someone's mentioning your name. Cause I'm sure everybody is getting a Google alert for their business name and quotes. That's what we do, right? We pay attention <laugh>. So when they mention us and say, Hey, thank you so much for mentioning us, that, you know, it would be amazing is if if if someone were to click on our name, if they could come visit our website and learn more about us, could you make our name clickable? Uh, just a thought. So getting those unlinked mentions is another really quick win for, for links. Um, the next thing that we do is we jump out the quick wins as we jump into, um, a really strong strategy. You think about the, the internet being a spider web and at the center of that spider web is, uh, is the, the center of the, the topic or the industry that you happen to be in.
Speaker 0 00:28:30 And if all of your competitors have links that are pretty close to the center of that web and you're getting links way off in the, you know, the far horizon from a semantic standpoint, Google might not think that you're categorized correctly for the keywords that you want to appear for. So maybe we start where all the competitors have earned links. So we, we like to do the, the link intersect and there's, there's a tool in, um, a HFS where you can do this and you can do 10 at a time and it'll tell you exactly, you know, of those 10 competitors minus us, here are the, uh, the most frequent links that the industry tends to earn. But 10 is not enough for me. I like to do somewhere between 30 to a hundred in an industry, cuz then I get a really strong industry, um, analysis of where the top links are gonna be, um, for that industry.
Speaker 0 00:29:17 Um, and there's gonna be a lot of garbage in there because for whatever reason, these tools, after some of 'em more than a decade of being online, haven't parsed out the scrapers and the useless websites that, that don't benefit us. I dunno why, but you gotta go through one by one, delete, delete, delete, do a little bit of filtering based on some of the scores they give you. They have their own score and then authority scores and so forth. And having that link intersect gives you competitive opportunities to get links that are driving traffic to your competition. And that's a double win because you're in the link, but you also get traffic from sites that are normally industry related because now you've got the overlap from what the competition has. Um, then we get into things like link bait, right? One of the, the best link bait campaigns that Applebee's does every year is Veterans Day. And so for, for Veterans Day, they give free meals away to to veterans. And, um, sites like va dots.gov and military.com are all now linking to share this type free meals thing. Give something back to your, your community or industry to the, to the things that you believe in. And, um, you know, the, the reciprocal benefit of it is people are gonna share that and you're gonna get links from it organically. But, um, anyway, so those are, those are kinda the two approaches, the quick win. And then kinda that long term planning, it's, I
Speaker 2 00:30:34 Wanna talk about how to get links without buying them, but it's, it's, before we do that, it's, it's like, just like old school, be a good community citizen and people will talk fondly about you, right? And in today's day and age, that is, it manifests as a hyperlink, right? Hey, mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Steve Weidman's a good guy, go and talk to him about search strategy. He was on my podcast. We're gonna put a link on our site to you because you've given some value to our audience. It's like, it's basic bananas stuff, isn't it? But everybody wants the cheat, everybody wants the fast way and the hack. How do you, if once you do your link, link intersect thing, how do you, you then say, okay, well here are 10 links that we really want that are working for our competitors. How do we get those links? How do we reach out and get those links without buying them and, and also without just being an annoying person in the inbox speaking for a link.
Speaker 0 00:31:23 That's a great question. So, so we use a tool called Buzz Stream bu Z Stream, and it's basically just a crm, but it's designed to really help you organize and manage your, your, um, your outreach, right? And, excuse me, what we'll do is we'll set up, uh, we'll set up work queues using filters so that we start, when we log in, uh, we start with those that have already agreed to, to link to us and mention us, and we follow up with them. And then we go into the third outreach and second outreach, and then initial outreach and then qualifying a link that we found through their, their system or through ours. Um, there's four different approach types that we like to use. We like to use reference first. If we can, excuse me, if we can get the link partner to reference us, then that's, it's a double, double win again, because now not only are we getting a great link, but when Google's reading that page and it says, if you want to learn more about this topic or further reading or additional resources, go to this site, it, it sends, it sends a message to the search engine that, that we've got really helpful content.
Speaker 0 00:32:24 Um, so reference number one. Number two is cross promotion. If we can, if they won't reference you, you can say, Hey, can we do something together? Um, we noticed that you're really weak on the content side for this particular topic. Um, so we wrote something for you, it's attached to this email. Let us know if, if you'd like to use it. If not, no big deal. We can probably just give it to so and so your competitor
Speaker 2 00:32:46 <laugh>. Um,
Speaker 0 00:32:46 But we really want you to use it because we love your site. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? And, and vice versa. And there's something that we can promote for you. And so, um, that cross promotion's usually number two. And if they won't cross promote, then you contribute. And that's where you, you know, again, you send that email and you say, here's here's where, um, we can help with something that you're missing. One of the things that, um, that we do a lot is we collaborate with other brands and, and platforms in our industry, and we'll say, could I do a, a webinar with you? Could we do a event together? Could we figure out some way to, to contribute our knowledge, expertise, or time to support you? And then the last one is sponsorship. And that's one you gotta be careful on because it almost looks like you're buying links, but what you're doing is contributing to something that's important to you sponsoring something where you think you're gonna get referral traffic.
Speaker 0 00:33:38 Cause I mean, even if you don't get the link, you go back later and you say, Hey, I've been advertising with you and sponsoring this page for three months. We've love the traffic we're getting, we'd love to do something organic with you. And they're gonna go, well, crap, if I say no, maybe they'll stop advertising and I don't want 'em to stop advertising. Sure, you've been advertising this for a few months, what do you wanna do? Oh, could we do a blog post together and, and, you know, share some data and some insights and some diagrams and study stuff that we did. And, um, and that works. We've, we've done that a few times. So reference cross promotion, contribution and sponsorship, um, all in that order and how we work through that, um, outreach approach.
Speaker 2 00:34:16 What was the second one? Reference
Speaker 0 00:34:18 Cross promotion.
Speaker 2 00:34:19 Cross promotion, contribution sponsorship. Ladies and gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we just got the Weedman Masterclass on strategic link building. That's fantastic. I hope someone on our team's making notes because I'm gonna ask, ask someone on our team to start implementing that. It's great. The sponsorship thing never really occurred to me. The the contribution thing is, is obvious. We get emails every day of the week from people wanting to contribute to our blog. Most of the time we say, no, tell me about being foolish. Should I be accepting more of those, more of those articles?
Speaker 0 00:34:52 Yeah, those, those guest blog posts are really, um, they're, they're, it's kind of a faux pa, right? So we don't, we don't, that's why I didn't mention guest blog posting. Um, but if you wanna contribute content and contribute something that you, you wrote that will help benefit their website and in the author area, get a link, great. But, um, guests posting as a SEO is, it just doesn't work. And so here's, here's what's gonna happen when you do go to a link building company is they're, they're just gonna run a simple query for, um, uh, submit a post, right? Or guest post, and they'll put that in quotes into a query, and then they'll put in your industry and they're gonna find all those industry blogs that accept guest posts, and then they're gonna charge you, you know, $500 for a link that, um, that they got on a site that, you know, would've probably done it for free.
Speaker 0 00:35:40 Um, but they just simply ran a search to find those. And, and most of 'em aren't really gonna benefit you. In fact, if you just, you know, do a, a search for guest posting and, and SEO and just look at the last week or so of, of conversations that are happening, um, there's still a lot of Googlers that are saying, don't do this. And there's people that are saying, we just spoke with, you know, multiple Google reps and they say, do don't use guest blog posting as an SEO effort. Now, I still would use it though, as, as a way to get my featured answer. That would be a cool thing to do, but I wouldn't do it for links.
Speaker 2 00:36:11 Right? A way to get your featured answer. Can you walk me through that?
Speaker 0 00:36:15 The featured result in Google, like if you wanna be position zero there at the top, got it. Um, by getting your, your specific answer to a problem or question or, um, something that somebody would query if you get that syndicated across enough websites mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, a subheading of, um, how to do X, and then there's a paragraph about it that gets shared and syndicated through multiple sites. Um, Google could award you that, uh, position zero, which I believe accounts for 70% of the voice answers on your Google Assistant. And I heard some good news that Alexa's kind of dying a bit and Google Assistant might be taken over soon. So Google
Speaker 2 00:36:50 With the link buying thing, right? I mean, is it just the recommendation that you just don't buy links that you, because everything, that's what I was gonna say. Everything that you've described to me feels authentic. It feels like the same approach as if the internet didn't exist, right? You go to a networking event, you have a conversation with someone, they have a conversation with someone else, and they mention, Hey, I was talking to this Steve Weedman guy knows a lot about this SEO thing, and then all of a sudden you get a call from the local mayor who's like, Hey, the, you know, the principal of the local school said, I should talk to you about the thing. And it's, it's, it's, it's organic authentic referral because people are doing good work and adding value. We are just using the hyperlink to accelerate that. So it kind of feels to me that if you were buying referrals offline, that that's not sustainable and it kind of feels the same about the hyperlink, right?
Speaker 0 00:37:45 Yeah. And, and worse, if, if somebody takes a screenshot of an email or communication, you know, where there's talks of, of links involved at all, um, you know what, what happens if, if the person that you are, um, coordinating with later on finds out that what you were doing was to try to build a link to help your, your seo, when they learned that and maybe learn digital marketing, they might go, oh, crap, I just got taken advantage of. Or they just really wanted the link. They didn't care about the, the relationship. Uh, they could put you on blast and submit, you know, um, you know, a form to Google and say, these people are buying links. Here's my proof. Upload the email and you're done. So, or, or worse, you know, um, you could be on the New York Times, like, uh, JC Penney and Overstock did when they were incentivizing college students to, um, you know, to add a link to one of their college pages and, and get 10% off a vacuum cleaner or something, you know, they all sorts of shady stuff to, uh, to get in trouble. And, and, you know, the industry found out and they got hits and they lost millions of dollars and organic traffic for the period of, you know, um, you know, what, what they're having to do with is awful
Speaker 2 00:38:55 Curve ball for you. What happens when a client comes to you and they have a great product that nobody's searching for?
Speaker 0 00:39:01 Depends on the industry. You, you build brand awareness by, by becoming an expert, um, at the industry. So, um, if you were selling, I don't know, let's just say purple widgets or something, right? And nobody's searching for purple widgets, but, but, uh, you know that there's a, a high interest in purple and a high interest in widgets. You can build a lot of supportive content for people who have, have those kind of needs. If, if, uh, me get a better example, let's say you have a, a pet product. Remember when the, the pet chips came out and, and people were, were putting the chips together and you could track your dog anywhere they went. No one was searching for that, right? No one even knew that kind of thing existed. But if I had, um, a thousand pages of supportive help train help, uh, dog training product or, uh, dog training videos and tutorials and um, uh, dog diets and a whole section, and I bought a pet nutritionalist who came in and just wrote a ton of content, now all of a sudden I'm getting 50,000 visits a month, my website around content that's perfect for my target audience, and I can introduce 'em in the sidebar or otherwise, um, or through remarketing, you know, back to our brand.
Speaker 0 00:40:14 So I, I think there's a lot of ways that you can, you can build brand awareness by, you know, becoming an expert at the industry, even if people don't know who the, what the product is
Speaker 2 00:40:24 Yet. So I'm on your website, there's a whole section called Learn SEO s e m, and there's lots of, there's lots of content there, uh, where you basically teach what it is, you know. Now, um, this is, is is this, this play? Like do you have product that you sell, like courses that you sell? Or is this just a content play to bring people in?
Speaker 0 00:40:45 So, so yes. Our, um, our, our new website's supposed to launch in February. The one you're looking at, it's been around since 2015, uh, cobbler story, right? So taking care of your clients for so long that your own psych gets neglected. But, um, but we do, we actually have, um, uh, if you go to academy of search.com, it's a teachable course. You can take the, um, the mastermind class, which is like three hours, uh, for free. Um, we also have a six, excuse me, a $600 search optimization class. Um, if your listeners want free access to that, just use code seo, Steve, s e o s t e v e, and you get the, the course. Now, the course emulates what I, I teach at Cal State Fullerton and it walks you through how to create a search strategy, gives you a little bit of history on, on how search works and crawling and indexing, and, and then we get into technical SEO and then content strategy off page, and then how to track and manage, you know, a search campaign, what, what tools to use and, um, and the templates to be able to do it so you can actually create your own SEO strategy after this, this course, it's, uh, normally it was like an eight week course at Cal State Fullerton, but I had a, I had a student, uh, do the entire thing in a day from like 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM and they got their certificate at the end, which was like, dang, you did the whole thing in a day.
Speaker 0 00:42:01 So I know if, uh, one student can do it, anyone can do it, but, um, feel free if you wanna share that to your listeners,
Speaker 2 00:42:07 And thank you. Appreciate it. Uh, s so SEO Steve, right? Is the coupon.
Speaker 0 00:42:12 You got it. Academy of search.com is our landing page we created, it'll basically just take you to courses.weedman.com and then choose the SDO course.
Speaker 2 00:42:20 Got it. And it's also available in Portuguese?
Speaker 0 00:42:22 Yes. Yeah, one of our business partners Wow. Is, uh, runs the office in Brazil, inops.
Speaker 2 00:42:27 Fantastic. We will definitely drop some links in the show notes about that. Awesome. Hey, this has been amazingly I could do this again. In fact, I think we're probably gonna reach out to you and ask you to come back for part two because I just wanna unpack more of your brain around, uh, search, um, parting thought. We have a lot of people here in our world who are, who come from the web design history, right? They come from building WordPress websites for small business owners, and they know they need to do SEO at some point because their clients are asking for it, and they're terrified of getting into this rabbit hole because they don't know if they're gonna be able to get results. They're riddled with imposter syndrome, but they know it's a great opportunity for recurring revenue. What, what advice would you give to someone starting out and say, Hey, if you're gonna get into the SEO world, do this first, and this is gonna be a good foundation that's gonna set you up for long-term success?
Speaker 0 00:43:19 Sure. I, I do think building up strategy is a perfect way to do that. You know, do it for a, a small local client for fun, for practice. Mm. That, um, that course I was telling you about does go through everything from beginning to end, and it is an end to end course for, you know, mastering the basics of seo. It's not, um, it's not the 15 chapters, you know, in the, in the textbook that, you know, my, my co-author Scott Callie and I wrote, but it's still, um, it's very video rich and it's very, um, uh, example, um, heavy. So, you know, we share examples of, of exactly what we're talking about. So it's not, it's not theory, it's not, um, textbook, it's, it's really kind of hands on. Um, so I would say do that, take, take a course and, and just really acclimate yourself to it.
Speaker 0 00:44:06 Um, uh, I can also tell you that there are pet peeves that web designers and SEOs sometimes don't jive. Well, sometimes I wonder if web designers are out to get us <laugh>, like, did you really just wrap the logo in an H one tag? Now Google thinks the topic of every single page on our website is the word logo, you know, and, and I think they just do it for a laugh or to mess with us. Um, or they're doing single page applications like the, the Disney challenge I mentioned earlier. They'll create a single page application instead of a, a dedicated URL for every, um, you know, way that someone's searching for our product or service. So I would, I would definitely talk to some SEO experts and just kind of get their feedback on it. I do have a guide too. Um, I have two actually have an eCommerce guide and a WordPress guide. If it's helpful, I can show the links after the show. Yeah, that would be great. And there's no advertising or anything in it, but it's got a, a cool little basics of like a prerequisite if you're putting a project brief together for a website. Here are the SEO prerequisites on the eCommerce side for categories and product detail pages, and for WordPress on WordPress theme setup, uh, plugin use, and so on and so forth. So happy to show those with, with web designers that are really interested in kind of building a good foundation for seo.
Speaker 2 00:45:21 Excellent. Now final question, which is gonna divide the room, which I always love to do. Uh, favorite WordPress plugin, favorite WordPress plugin for seo?
Speaker 0 00:45:27 It's still Yost. I, I got to hang out with, with Yost in Austria a few weeks ago, and he's just, he's just as brilliant as ever and always working hard and being innovative. There are some other, uh, plugins that have come out recently that, um, that have some of which have stolen his code. Um, so for me, I'm, I'm, I'm very loyal to the, the guys who, you know, were the first ones to really crush it in WordPress plugin. So I'd say the Yos SEO premium for sure is, is the way to go add add on an extension for video SEO so that, you know, we can make our pages a little bit more rich and, and have a better experience and feed that straight to Google. So yeah, I would say the Yos SEO plugins my favorite. You definitely wanna get an HTML site map, uh, plugin as well. I think those have been really helpful for Google to be able to crawl to pages that might be orphan. So having that HTML site map can be really helpful. And, you know, keyword rich links where XL file doesn't really have that. So, um, I would say between those two, um, and maybe a cloud flare, you know, add on, um, I think, I think you'd be in great shape. So Cloud Flare, Yost seo, and then choose an HTML site map that allows you to list both pages and posts.
Speaker 2 00:46:36 Great. Very familiar. We've been yours premium customers for a long, long time. And I've also had the pleasure of hanging out with you several times at Word Camp and the mans, he
Speaker 0 00:46:44 Actually got the drink beer Octoberfest, it was So
Speaker 2 00:46:45 He's a legend. He's a legend. I love him. Uh, tech Stack, uh, must have tech stack tools for brand new, someone getting into seo. Is it ii rifs? Is it same Rush? What do I absolutely need to get started?
Speaker 0 00:46:57 Well, if you have zero budget, you're gonna be using Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools. If you have a little bit of budget, you might download something like Site Poll and Screaming Frog. Um, if you've gotten more to work with and you're kind of mid range and maybe you've got a few hundred bucks a month to throw around. Um, SCM Rush still my favorite. Um, HFS is great for, for deeper link building. If you wanna get into some of the, the more link intersects and so forth. I think their Link database is a little bit bigger. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> when we get into Enterprise, if you're a larger brand and you've got some budget to play with, um, conduct your search light is huge. It's super awesome. It's got so many great dashboards and, and gauges and KPIs and forecasting tools that you could use that are incredible.
Speaker 0 00:47:43 Um, and then we're using something called right R Y T E, which is by far the best crawler on the market. We've compared all of them from what used to be Deep Crawl. I don't know what their new name is. Um, and um, and Spotify and, um, on Crawl, we've tested all of 'em and Right, uh, by far has the best filtering to be able to get the data that you need and the actionables, um, that you can take out of it to give to developers to get stuff done. So, and, and you can give them all access so that developers can log in, you know, just to that one profile and explore the crawl issues and, and indexing problems themselves. And then you can just be the guide and let the dev guide do their job. So Right. R Y T E is just this incredible crawl tool. How
Speaker 2 00:48:26 Do you spell it? R
Speaker 0 00:48:27 R y t e
Speaker 2 00:48:29 R Y T e. Perfect. I guess.
Speaker 0 00:48:31 Great tool for the job. Right. Great.
Speaker 2 00:48:33 We will drop all those links in the show notes. I'll also grab the links to Steve's guides after the show and put those in the show notes as well. This has been epic. I have to tell you, this has been, um, absolute masterclass. Thank you so much for your Tom. I really appreciate your generosity and I'm definitely gonna reach out to you and we should do this again sometime cause I've had a lot of fun.
Speaker 0 00:48:51 My pleasure. Anytime.
Speaker 2 00:48:53 Awesome. Thanks Steve. All right, gang. That's another episode of The Agency Hour. You know what to do, subscribe, like, share, share this podcast with someone who you might think would benefit from it. You never know, you might just change their life. There's lots of gold nuggets here. I hope you made some notes. I look forward to seeing you all again next week on the Agency Hour. Until then, I'm Troy Dean. Have a great day.