DOES SEO STILL WORK TODAY?

Tips From Phil…

  • Does SEO still work today?
  • Good SEO is as important as ever
  • Podcasting and all of the things that go with (like this post) are great for SEO!
  • See below for a review process that will improve your SEO
  • Writing your own book can open a lot of doors

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Doug Morneau: Well, welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today, we're going to talk about something that we should, as entrepreneurs, all be paying attention to, and that is SEO for growth, so how to grow your business, taking advantage of all those people that are out there, looking for a solution to their problem. Today, I've got Phil Singleton joining me, and he is the self-described SEO grunt obsessed with tweaking websites for search engine optimization and functional performance. He is a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, and he holds a BS in Finance from the Fairfield University and an MBA from Thunderbird, the Graduate School of International Management, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Phil is a co-author and award-winning Amazon bestseller for his book, The Small Business Owner's Guide to Local Lead Generation, and the author of another Amazon bestseller, How to Hire a Web Designer: And Not Get Burned By Another Agency. In addition to inbound marketing consulting services to companies across the United States, Phil provides custom SEO-friendly websites, under the brand Kansas City Web Design at kcwebdesign dot com, an online marketing search engine optimization under the brand Kansas City SEO. Phil is an active blogger, and he's active as a guest on other podcasts, as well.

He works with the Duct Tape Marketing and FreshBooks SEO … SEMrush. Phil's an active blogger, and his content has been featured on Duct Tape Marketing, FreshBooks, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Advanced Web Rankings, Webdesigner Depot, and many local Kansas City Midwest regional print publications and websites. Over the course of his career, Phil has helped dozens of startups and tech companies raise millions of dollars of strategic venture capital and cross-border licensing agreements in Asia-Pacific region, run the globe on retail and online sales divisions for a best-selling line of consumer products, and started a software company in Asia raising over a million dollars in venture capital, drawing it to profitability with over 25 employees, and then selling it three years later.

The latter experience is what got him into SEO and internet marketing. In short, he followed the ROI trail to SEO. Phil is fluent in Mandarin, so we're going to have him do half the podcast in Mandarin.

Phil Singleton: I'm a little rusty.

Doug Morneau: Okay, well, maybe 10%. You've lived and traveled extensively in Asia over the last 10 years based in Taipei, Taiwan, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. He moved back to the United States in 2005 and currently lives in Overland Park, Kansas, with his wife Vivian, and their two sons, Eli and Austin. In 2016, Phil released a new WordPress plugin called WP SEO Structured Data Schema. With this free plugin, it has only been available for a few short months, has been downloaded over 40,000 times. Thousands of internet marketers and web-savvy business owners are using this new plugin as part of their search engine optimization tool.

So with that great, long introduction of this really smart SEO guy, I'd like to welcome Phil to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that's like my whole life. I'm so glad to be here. Thanks for having me, Doug.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, no problem. It didn't take too long. Once I transcribed your bio from Mandarin, I just got it shortened down, so we could read it.

Phil Singleton: Oh nice.

Doug Morneau: And you've also released another book, in addition. I don't think that is in your bio.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, SEO for Growth is one that I wrote, with John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing. So that's been great for me. It's opened a lot of doors and kind of been more of a career milestone I should say. And yeah, it's really enabled me, because the first couple ones I wrote were part of projects and really opened my eyes to the power of writing and getting it out there and using it to launch other businesses, and really, as a way to increase authority, open doors and develop personal branding, all that kind of good stuff. But it was pretty funny, because the first time somebody's dropped a book, I was actually in the Duct Tape Marketing group.

The first meeting I went to was an annual summit, and one of the guys that had been there for several years dropped a book on a table to me and that he had just written just released. I was like, “That's so cool.” I hope one day, as kind of a career bucket list type thing, I'll be able to write my own book. And six months later, I had my first bestseller, because that same guy invited me into a book writing project with six other guys, and I just didn't realize how easy it was to get out there. And ever since then, it's been like, you know, I've been like a content book-writing machine.

Doug Morneau: That's really cool. So, do you want to share with us a bit about your SEO strategy? I hear in my marketplace … I'm one of the marketing consultant guys. I'm hopefully not the one that you say not to hire, not to get burned by another agency. But you hear people talk about SEO and you hear two sides. One is, well, it's free, and obviously, it's not free because there's work, and other people say that SEO isn't working as well. So what's your take kind of on this space today?

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Phil Singleton: Yeah, it's free or it's dead, are the two popular things, right? Well, I think it's more relevant than ever. You go back about four years ago that one of the big quotes was when Google released some of their traffic data, 3.5 five billion searches a day, I think last year when it came out, it's 5.5 billion searches per day. So the searches are getting more, you know, there's more and more info that's coming online every day. Someone out there has got to be the way to search and find things, and Google has like a monopolistic hold and almost like the gateway in terms of how we find information that's been archived on the Internet, right?

And any other things that can become more and more popular like, you know, obviously, voice search and things like that, that are getting really popular. Again, a derivative of, I think, search engine optimization and organic search. So, to me, it's super relevant, but what's changed a lot I think is the old way people viewed SEO and what it is versus what actually works today to move the needle and be sustainable. The old definition, the old, to me, what really drove the whole SEO industry from when Google started in '97 or whenever it is, up until about five or six years ago, was all about just trying to find those loopholes and trick the search engines by way of manipulating things on your website and really trying to create content on your website for the purpose of the search engines.

One, that was the first, and the second thing was, volume-based backlinking, trying to get as many as you could, paying whoever that you could to get it, not worrying about the quality or the relevance, just getting as many as possible.

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Phil Singleton: And those are the things that move the needle for like 15 years. There's a cat-and-mouse game between Google and the internet marketing SEO industry, where they would try and tweak things and fill in a loophole here and there. But it was largely more of a reward-based system where you threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall, the stuff that sticks, stuck, Google would give you credit for. The things that fell down to the ground were just kind of fell to the ground and there was no other penalty for that. Of course, and again, five six years ago, Google comes out starts making things more punitive in nature.

So the things were actually dropping to the ground. They're actually deducting points for you and penalizing you for. So, the first really big earth-shattering one was Penguin. I think we're in the fifth, five or six years out from that one. I'm sorry, Panda, and there have been tons of different ones that have all sorts of different nicknames. But, the first one that really changed the entire internet I think, but for sure the SEO industry, was the Panda updates that came out. So for a lot of guys that had lots of content and affiliate-driven websites, I mean, big websites that just basically for all intents and purposes fell off of Google.

Doug Morneau: Whoops.

Phil Singleton: And the money they were making was gone, so it was almost like entire businesses were just kind of have fallen off of the planet or off the internet anyway. And then that really hurt. That changed a lot of things. It was a seismic thing. It really changed … People complained. People lost businesses. It was a very, very painful series of dozens of updates where that Panda was eventually rolled into, you know, the everyday algorithm. It's not separate now. It's just part of the core algorithm. Then a couple years after that, they came and started attacking the off-page things, namely backlinks, with the Penguin updates.

So I didn't really feel for myself or any of the clients that I had. I never felt Panda at all, because I wasn't in that affiliate niche where people are really trying to create lots of pages and things, to try and rank for things, so that they could get like affiliate Commissions or big ecommerce websites. I think that was a big part of who initially felt that giant wave. But the Penguin ones was where everybody was working on backlinks no matter what kind of site you were. So, eventually, that first, second, third, fourth, fifth Penguin update, we all felt it in some way, shape or form.

So again, it was another one of these punitive type things where Google came out here and, “We're changing the game. We're changing the way people do things.” I think it was very painful for those first couple years that those punitive algorithms came out, but it totally changed behavior. They were talking about for years about content being keen. We all snickered because you didn't have to concentrate on content or social media or anything. None of us paid any attention in the pure SEO space to people that are out there that are now like the leaders in content marketing.

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I mean, I didn't know who John Jantsch was or Brian, Copyblogger, all these guys. People just really didn't pay attention to if you were kind of just a core SEO person. But sure enough, they made these changes that changed the whole SEO industry and change behavior and made it more of a consulting-based service, brought a lot of that offshore stuff that was going on back on shore and people started focusing on I think what ends up being good, holistic internet digital marketing in general. So now, the light … You start talking about SEO people or content marketing. It's all kind of merged into this strategic almost digital marketing thing.

So, the guys that were content marketers are now perceived as more along the lines of almost SEO experts, right? because that's the stuff that's working. So that's what's really changed a lot. The whole, I think, pie of SEO was a two-sided pizza. Half of it was on-page SEO, and the other half it was off-page SEO. So on-page stuff and then backlinking. Now, those two things are still really important, but they're just slices of the pie. What really makes it work on Google now is having a holistic marketing approach where your website is optimized and becomes the referral source for all of your content.So, you're archiving your body of work on your website. I think a big mistake people make is they still put a lot of their best stuff up on social media where it dies instead of archiving on your website and then sharing it out. But other things are really counting, too, like social media participation, online reviews, reputation management and all these little segments, where that you tie them together with your website kind of as the center of the hub. Those are the things that really start to count on Google, and that's what SEO really looks like these days.

It just looks like a good, holistic digital marketing approach that's got a good strategy behind it, where you're doing your keyword research, and you're looking for topical research on things that are trending and baking that into a website that becomes a referral source for all your content, and then sharing those things outwards, so everybody has to come back to your website, where then, you can then pixel them and re-target them and offer them all sorts … You get them into your education and your sales funnel, that kind of stuff.

But the biggest mistake I think people in businesses still make is they still treat their websites as static brochures or just static websites, and if they do anything at all, they'll post to their social media accounts where that piece of content kind of runs through under the bridge and then dies, so to speak. It never becomes archived somewhere where it can be searched on through Google to be an answer to somebody's question or a solution for somebody, where they might want to buy a product or service. I think that's still a huge disconnect from bigger companies all the way down to the small businesses, where the website almost becomes this little forgotten stepchild of the business, versus making it, like, the marketing hub type of a deal.

When you sync all this stuff together, I know I started to talk like, “It starts a lot like marketing or digital marketing,” but when you develop an SEO mindset and start looking at things that Google's looking at to try and rank you, it is all these pieces, and to the extent that you don't do any marketing. You don't want to do I think any marketing or any content or anything solely for the purpose of SEO or Google, but on that same other side of that coin is I don't think you want to be producing any content or doing anything unless you've got Google in mind, because when you do all this stuff together with an SEO mindset, then you can get I think 5 or 10X versus like 1X out of your marketing effort.

Doug Morneau: Well, how do you think, or do you believe that the content has changed or needs to change to follow kind of where you're saying, where it all needs to have … Google is part of the big picture, but realizing that search engines don't buy anything. It's still people that buy things.

Phil Singleton: Right. Well, I think … I mean, I think it all comes back to trying to make sure that … People these days want to make sure that they're buying from the source, the influencer, the expert, the product or the service, right? because we're all going out, especially when we're buying stuff. I mean, Google still no matter what people say about, you know, “Is it dead or is it relevant?” To me, it's like, it's beyond a marketing tactic. I think Google and google-ing have almost most become part of the purchase process.

There's very few new product searches or even product searches of any … once you start getting into higher ticket values … that doesn't involve some type of a follow-up Google search, right? So, having that piece, and since that's going to be part of the modern purchase process, making sure that your website has a chance to be an answer or a part of somebody's research I think is more important than ever. So making sure that whatever you do I think is documented on your website is really important. But before you start archiving or creating your website as a content resource, to me, what a lot of it comes back to is, one, knowing who your ideal client is, so that gets into like the Duct Tape Marketing and I think all sorts of modern marketing, where people are developing personas and making sure that you know who your ideal client is.

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Doug Morneau: Sure.

Phil Singleton: And then, also, a big part of this to me is doing your keyword research. It's more important than ever. Knowing how people search for products and services, especially your ideal clients, and then somehow trying to develop a target list of your ideal client's search behavior, and then using that as a way to structure your website. So, basically, reverse engineering a website around search behavior, and then also using the same lists and targets to know how what pages should be on your website, and even further than that is using it to develop a content calendar.

Then, you can go about in terms of having your own expertise. You know you need to write about certain things or certain topics, but if you had that source keyword list and you're thinking about, “Okay, how is this going to also benefit me on Google?” you can bake that stuff and serve I think two purposes. One, trying to make sure you've got the highest potential to show up on Google for your keywords that you're going after, but also, making sure that you're presenting the right content that helps people convert when they end up finding it.
So yeah, so the answer to that is, going back to the basics to some degree, realizing that your website is super important part of your whole marketing strategy and is, in fact, the hub of, as far as I'm concerned, and then making sure that you go and apply basic SEO practices on your website and do that keyword research. I mean, so many people just don't do any keyword research, and I think a lot of people and businesses don't even do the fundamental parts of search engine optimization. I'm going to take this even to a little bit more of an extreme because you mentioned in my bio, okay, I've got a WordPress SEO schema plugin, and what that is, is it's just another way for people to easily add an extra layer of SEO code to their website.

The code, what it does, is it enables you to tag a webpage in a way that gives the search engines more context to the content that's on the site. So what is that? It sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, but when you break it down to what a live example is, you say you've got a blog post, and within that blog post there, somebody's giving you a review in it. Well, Google is not going to crawl that blog post or that page, and just because it looks like a review, use the data that's in there and take a guess that's actually a review.

If you go in there and use this extra layer of code called structured data and schemas, the vocabulary used for, and actually tag that review inside the page as a review, then Google has more confidence and has more context of what the meaning of that content is, and they'll actually start … They'll start pulling that information up in the search result. So, how does that manifest in the search results? Well, we all go into Google now, and when you search things, you see a lot more information than just the blue link that goes to the source website and the meta description underneath in the green link. You're starting to see things like star ratings, right?

Doug Morneau: Sure, yep.

Phil Singleton: And event times and knowledge boxes and company boxes and info panels. All, a lot of that stuff is a derivative of people going and adding that additional tagging on their pages, and that's another thing. It's just wide open. I mean, it's such a small percentage of people, or even adding this little extra code to the website, which is I think of it as another layer of what you would normally do, if you've got a WordPress website and use like Yoast SEO, where you go up there and you can actually add the browser title to your webpage and put a little meta description in, so that you can customize what shows up in the search results of the page it shows up.

There are all sorts of little extra tags you can now add on, which increases the chances that you'll have extra data showed up in the search results. When that happens, when you see these search results come up with like star ratings or a knowledge box with a picture, and that position zero is what we're calling it now, when it comes up to the top. Before the first ranking, you actually see a bunch of text or an answer show up at the very top of the page. Those types of extra … The search results or the extra information, the click-through rates on those go through the roof. You get way more clicks on the one with structured data and those little extra … that extra information, the rich snippets that you do a regular blue and gray text type of thing.

So, just going through your website and looking at it as the archive of your work and the place where you want to document everything and making sure that you know what your keywords are and baking them into your website and having just like the normal discipline, which doesn't take a whole lot of extra work, but just doing things, like, using your Yoast plugin for SEO, if you got a WordPress website, and using a plugin to add structured data. If you've got a recipe on your website or a blog post or there are all sorts of schema tags that you can add to communicate to Google.

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Just by making this kind of part of your routine doesn't take a whole lot of extra time increases the chance … increases the ranking potential of your website many times over than not doing it at all. So that's one of the big things I think, kind of a big circular answer to your question there, Doug, is I think just going back to your website and looking at it as a way to, “Let's make sure that anything I do online is documented on my site and make sure that anything you put on your website, you've actually thought a little bit about the keywords that make sense in here.” So, you got a chance to rank for some of those.

And then just make sure you apply some basic, on-page SEO through page titles, meta descriptions, and even adding some structured data tags on there as well.

Doug Morneau: So digging in a bit deeper when you're talking about keyword research and ranking and the fact that people go and Google's kind of what people do, that's where you go for research. When people go search, they come in different stages of the buying process. So, they might be just starting to look at which brand. So for example, let's pick something very basic and boring, a washing machine. You're going to buy a washing machine. You're going to go maybe search and figure out which brand. You're interested in before you're going to start looking at the particular brand.

So, you might go to a rating site. You might want some basic information, and then you're eventually going to move down to, okay, this is the brand I want. And then at the end of the food chain is the store that actually is selling that. So, do you think that business owners give any thought to people hitting their website or searching on Google, in different buying stages? Do you think that … I'm guilty of this. I'm just thinking of the end, the end where they're going to show up with their credit card, and I've forgotten all the research they've done to get to that endpoint.

Phil Singleton: I think it does get … That's an important part, like, obviously, thinking of what the end transaction is. But, I also think, for me, what takes a lot of guesswork out of knowing what content to produce is doing that basic keyword research. And so, one of my favorite tools to use, and there's a lot of them out there. But the free one I think that's got the most information that I would look always for every client would be to go to the source and use Google's free AdWords Keyword Planner.

Doug Morneau: Right. Okay, yeah.

Phil Singleton: And the reason why this is important, and I guess to your question, is … and I go through this a lot with even my own clients, where you're trying to go through and figure out, well, what should we be going after? What kind of content should we be writing? What words are people searching? The first thing I think people do is they just think how they do it and then they guess.

Doug Morneau: I call it a survey of one.

Phil Singleton: Exactly, right, but a lot of it's guessing and a lot of it's … But the cool thing is when you can flip it on the other side and say, “Well let's take the guesswork out of this,” and Google's really cool about this, if you got an active AdWords account, because they give you this keyword planner, which to me is still like the gift that's been giving for years and years and years. You can go in there, type three to five words in the planner, and they'll give you back 500 words and give you all sorts of words and phrases that give you all sorts of data on the competition level and even the suggested bid price, what people are paying.

Google on the paid … again, on the paid AdWords platform, but this like money for search and optimization, because they're giving you all this data on overall search, so that you can create the best AdWords ads possible, because we got to take a step back to understand that all the things you read about Google, all the cool of the self-driving cars and Google Fiber, over 90% of their revenues come from AdWords, pay-per-click, and pay-per-impressions.

Doug Morneau: Yeah.

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Phil Singleton: And all that is a derivative business off of organic search. So, Google wants you to go to their AdWords to create. You get every tool that you need possible to make the best ad as possible so that it can compete and steal a click away from organic, right? And still, only, you know, there's probably only around 20% of the overall clicks, which is still a lot to make a $600 or $700 billion company. But still, most of the action is still in the organic, but you can go into AdWords and they're giving you basically all the answers for organic.
As you go in there and they're going to say, “Okay, let's take … ” We can go in there and say, “Let's take the guesswork out of what we should be working on,” and they actually tell you this. There are all sorts of other ways, you can go back and recheck things and things like that. But when you can go in and zero in on that and see words that have like average bid cost for this phrase that helps you figure out what the commercial intent is for that word, it's just such a goldmine to be able to see … You actually go in there and look into the minds of the searchers when they're doing it and then actually be able to kind of apply that to your website or how you're doing it.

So, to me, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of that piece, because if you go into Google and do a keyword study and you're able to see what words are generating the most action, that is the highest volume and the ones that maybe have the highest suggested bid price. We know those have a lot of commercial intent on that and we can start to focus. And the ones that are clearly related to our business, we can figure out where the best … to kind of work them into our pages, so that we got a chance to rank for them on search. That, to me, takes a lot of the guesswork out of that whole process versus, “When we do it, let's just focus on where Google says people are paying the most on,” and then the market's basically telling you, “We're paying more for this word because it converts a lot better.”

And then that is to me the answer of it and that works. There's a lot of these tools that go out there, like, you talk about Keyword Planner. I love to use SEMrush and Ahrefs, and both of those have one of my favorite SEO metrics of all time. But SEMrush had it first and Ahrefs has it now, but they'll give you the monthly organic value of your traffic basically based off of what it would cost you to get in AdWords. So you can pull up a website, and then all of a sudden, they'll give you a metric and say, okay, your organic traffic is worth $30,000 a month,” or whatever it is.

“You'd have to pay for this … ” which you're getting for free, “This what you'd have to pay to get the same visibility through AdWords.” That's an awesome, awesome metric. You see a lot of people that work for traffic and their traffic numbers, even their rankings will go up. But if you can't assign like a commercial value to the traffic, then to me it doesn't mean that much, and you can actually see this come from leads and sales. So, like my web design site that I have I think has a fit … It's a small Kansas City web design site. Kansascitywebdesigner dot com, but I focus on optimizing for the words that generate the most clicks and sales.

And even though you see a lower traffic volume, you see the commercial value of my traffic's like, worth like $20,000 a month. Well, how is that possible? It's because I've zeroed in on those terms through AdWords that are worth the most, and that's kind of how you focus in. And so, it's actually trying to zero in on the words that have the most commercial intent and making sure that that's where your bullseye is. And then it takes the guesswork out of like you were saying, like kind of in that funnel piece. But I do agree with a large amount what you're saying is when somebody … When you get in, and you're able to rank, and somebody comes to your website, because you don't know where they are on the purchase process, you have to do an awesome job.

This is something I didn't realize until later on because the organic stuff brings the horse to water, but it doesn't get them to drink, right?

Doug Morneau: Yep.

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Phil Singleton: So what you want to do when somebody lands on your website is provide so much compelling evidence that it basically stops with you, right? Because you've given them so much info that it's like, “Okay, I found the one. Let me start the purchase process here,” versus going out and finishing, and I think that's a huge thing that people have I think worked on really a lot over the last year or two, is conversion optimization and making sure that you're giving people all the evidence they need to pull the trigger, or at least give up the lead, so that if they do go out and continue the research, you're able to follow them or stalk them or email them before they make that final decision.

Doug Morneau: Yes.

Phil Singleton: And that's my answer. Man, I still … people talk about SEO being dead and even almost keyword research being a deprecated tactic, but I think it's more important than ever. You do a voice search, you're just talking about words, right?

Doug Morneau: Yeah, absolutely.

Phil Singleton: Put a picture up on the internet, there's a word associated with it. Everybody's still typing in two or three words into Google, and they're doing it more and more every day. Since that's the way people search for stuff, I don't think we can ever just discount that and say it's not important anymore.

Doug Morneau: Well, I want your feedback on a different question here as it relates to AdWords. So, this is my assumption, and feel free to say, “Hey, I think you're way off base.” My assumption is that if you're writing good content and you've got your website structured based on good solid research like keyword research, and you're benefiting from organic traffic, because you've done all the right things, that you'll have a lot higher conversion if you do buy AdWords, because your site has inherently been structured and presented to your audience, your searching audience, to satisfy the answer to their question.

Phil Singleton: I do believe this, and I don't … We do quite a bit of AdWords research, and there's a lot of us that think that AdWords has … Some people think AdWords has a direct relationship to organic rankings. A lot of folks like myself are positive that there's an indirect relationship to it. But I definitely think to the extent that you've done your keyword research and you get people to stay on the page and the engagement's high that that does help you with AdWords. Then there has to be a direct correlation in terms of the AdWords because there are measures within AdWords, where they're trying to determine if the ads and the words that you're going after having a good … The site's got a good quality score or it's relevant to the ad and the word that you're going after, right?

So, they're measuring the word you're trying to bid on, the content within the ad, and how that adds syncs up with the actual content on the target page. The content on the target page, in most cases, I think if you're doing marketing right unless you just created the page only for AdWords, is affected by SEO, for the people that are working on, right? because they try to optimize the page and make sure it's all on there. So yes, I think it's very important and very relevant. I think that's where one of those places were, AdWords and SEO collide together on a webpage.

Doug Morneau: Well I know people say, “Hey, I don't want to pay for AdWords. I want the free SEO.” And I'm thinking, “Well if you can get a conversion,” like you said, if you can figure out the value of your website based on the SEO, so you're saying your site's 20 or 30 or 50 grand, then you just run your AdWords, and if you can get a conversion at a price that makes sense, is very easy to crank up the volume, and you know, too, if you want to do seven figures, eight figures, just turn it up and let it go.

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Phil Singleton: Exactly. I also think even for myself, I mean, we do really well for a lot of the businesses that we have in terms of organic. But, I have my own AdWords program, and I do that, one because I want to dominate, but two, it's impossible to rank for everything. So, AdWords is a great way to fill in the blanks with some long-tail keywords and things like that. And also, just some of the other some of the other parts of their platform are really cool for the top cheap targeted traffic. So, I mean, I do a little bit of the remarketing stuff, but I think a goldmine for a lot of folks is to actually use the pure display advertising, where you can go in and create display ads, but then select the media.

I think a lot of people don't realize that you can go in and actually select the sites that you want your ads to show up on and that's really key. So, for me, I've got a bunch, like say, here in Kansas City, where I only want to be in Kansas City, or in the Kansas City metro or the Midwest, and I do an AdWords display campaign, which is the little banner ads come up. But I only want high-quality traffic from CNN and some of the top media sites. Because if you're not careful with that, Google will serve you up on all these crappy dating websites and stuff.

Doug Morneau: That's right.

Phil Singleton: And all of a sudden, if you don't see the return, you don't get a high-quality user. You don't get the right demographic. On the retargeting stuff, if they come through a good quality website, they hit my website, I don't really care if we re-target them on a lower quality website later. But I don't want low-quality site traffic coming to my website at all. So, I think display ads that are targeted, where you pick your top media sites are an awesome way to get good brand recognition and some good clicks. And also, I use a lot, the video bumper ads still, because you get … I've got one 60-second ad that I play, but Google only charges me for a view after 30 seconds. Well, 30 seconds of a video is a long time-

Doug Morneau: Yeah. That's a long time, yeah.

Phil Singleton: … to get charged. I'm getting thousands and thousands of clicks. I'm getting thousands of clicks for like $0.08 a click, but I'm getting lots more views on it, the uncharged views, where I'm getting a lot of brand recognition off of that. So there are some really cool, I think, cheap forms of almost just advertising and get off that platform and not have to pay a lot of money. I think my budget just for the video and for the display campaign, it's like an extra $200 or $300 dollars a month, and I'm getting millions of impressions and thousands of extra really cheap clicks. So I'm really not … that's still pure advertising to me, right? because it's not in the search process.

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Phil Singleton: Where somebody might pay $20 or $25 for “I want to hire a web designer” type of a click, they're only going to pay like $0.20 if they happen to see and click over because in average, it's kind of a mass-market thing. But still, it's the cheapest way I think to get onto some of these sites, or if you think about a magazine impression or … One of the reasons I did it, to be honest with you, I went to a top media site and asked them, “How much would it be for me to get a banner advertisement on your site if I pay you directly?” Well, they wanted like 5,000 a week. It was a business journal. It was the Kansas City Edition, a business journal. I was like, “Well now I get on their website for hundreds of times a month for pennies on the dollar, right?

Doug Morneau: Yeah, that's awesome.

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Phil Singleton: So, I mean, there are all sorts of ways you can go in there and leverage Google for that, but AdWords is key. I think it's a really important piece of … I think it's a great way to target and get great top-of-funnel stuff, where you can get good targeted traffic. But man, just nothing still beats AdWords and organic, because the people are in the purchase process. They're searching for something, so the ability to zero in on those folks I think doesn't change, and it's still the best way to get clients and leads right out of the gate.

Doug Morneau: We're seeing a really big shift right now for advertising budgets. So, clients that have a big budget to spend, not necessarily big, but they've made a decision that they want to spend money on advertising is in native ads. Native ads, really, in my opinion, is just … It's like a well-written organic webpage. It's a low key, not a buy-here button, that's drawing people in your brand, showing them your expertise, like you said, “Hey, I found the holy grail. This is the guy. My shopping starts here,” and natives just growing exponentially and it's the furthest thing from traditional advertising. It looks more like an organic blog post.

Phil Singleton: I love that. I love native ads. I think it's great, especially because … It's not like the old native ads that you would see … excuse me. They just felt a lot more like advertorials or infomercials. I mean, now, people get it, so they're like, yeah, I'm paying for this, but I'm also … The onus is on me to really have to sell by teaching basically and put something really valuable up in there, so people … because that's what they're going to bite on versus … I mean, I totally love it. I agree totally. I mean, a big part of what we're doing right now quite frankly is … I think this falls into almost podcasting and podcast guesting.

It's the same idea, where you can get … One of the things that we've done for our clients over the last year that was really serendipitous was I got into guesting myself. I think we're in like 60 shows right now, and the first one that I was on, I was like, “Oh my God. There are so many benefits to this. It started to like literally blow my mind, because at first, I was like, “This is a great way to get some exposure and maybe get some real true earned organic backlinks. Then I saw all these extra values and things we were getting off of it.

But what we've tied it into, and this again gets into that SEO mindset and I think a really holistic approach to everything, and trying to get 10X instead of 1X, is now based on this guesting campaign that I've done, I've almost totally changed the way we deliver services to our clients, and that's … one is, we bring it back to keyword research, always comes back to getting the website setup. It's the marketing platform. It's where we want to make sure the referral source, everything we're doing is. But a big part of I think doing well anywhere whether it's like you said advertising, even if you do these advertorials or native posts, they have to come back somewhere, right? They're not going to buy off of … They're going to be intrigued-

Doug Morneau: Sure, absolutely.

Phil Singleton: … but you got to create an ad, but you have to send them someone so they can get more. You wet their whistle what has to be back to your website or a funnel, but I think it should be back to the website, the property you own. So, one of the big things that we do is, I think blogging really has to … It's the cornerstone of inbound work marketing and it's never … I don't think is really ever going to change. It's the best way to add educational stuff to your content, to grow it, to target long-tail keywords, grow your website organically.
But one of the things that we do is we never really go out and do like one-page blog posts anymore. We're trying to create blogs in a series of 10 or 15. So, you do 10 or 15 and then brainstorm with you or your client in a way that you're saying, “Okay, these are going to look like a table of contents. Got 15 blog posts. We post them out one a week. They get shared on social media. People have to come back to the website.” Okay, that's pretty standard. And in 10 or 15 weeks, you stitch these together. You turn them into a nice ebook.

Again, the ebook's up on your website, advertised, launchable piece of content. Something you could maybe do a press release on or a little call-to-action on your website. Again, pretty standard stuff that's been in the inbound marketing thing for a long time. Then you take it to the next step, and we spin these things for our clients now up into Kindle ebooks, right? So that really becomes really kind of a shiny, interesting thing for a client, where they go from a boring, old blog post into, “Okay, the e-book's kind of a cool idea, but that might work,” to all of a sudden, now, you're going to turn them into an author with an ebook and give them an Amazon author page.

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It starts to get a little bit shinier, starts to play in the building up authority and the personal branding, gets maybe the leadership and the company type of thing. So, get that posted up, put them up on eBook and get the author page up on Amazon. Launch that out and then they become an author. You're part of their, you know, almost kind of like a career milestone to some degree. Then we're taking those ebooks and then trying to use them to launch other campaigns. The big one that we're doing now is guesting campaigns on podcasts, right?

So now, they're an author, they've got their story, build them up a nice little one sheet, and we're getting them booked on shows. Now, the coolest thing about this part is you start getting people … and again, it's all coming back to like this … It's just if you do like a blog strategy and do one blog and post it out, you can't do the rest of this stuff because you can't compile 10 random blog posts.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, that's right.

Phil Singleton: And do an ebook and then roll it in to make yourself an author. It just doesn't work that way. But if you put a little thought and strategy behind it and have a planning, all of a sudden, for a little bit extra effort off that investment that you're making on growing the webpage up, you get all these other things. You're going to get so much more payback. Well, the coolest thing about the guesting thing is everybody talks about, okay, it's a great thing. You get out there and you can reach a new audience. That's true. Tons of SEO value on it, right?

Doug Morneau: Yep.

Phil Singleton: Because you get posted up on the show notes page, and all of a sudden, you get natural organic backlinks. You get access to an audience where the people really trusts the host a lot. That's huge. Then you also get that cross-promotional thing that we were talking about in the green room before the show, where I was on your show, I promote you in my channel, you promote me in mine type of thing. And then I've done some things, like you, Doug, I know you do something really smart, which is you do your show notes and you also transcribe and put them on your … find your webpage.

Now, most of the guests that I had haven't done that. So what I always ask the guests that don't do it is like, “If you're not going to transcribe them, let me transcribe them.”

Doug Morneau: I'll transcribe them, yeah. Absolutely, yeah.

Phil Singleton: I've been posting it up on my blog post and then I'm turning them into long-form posts because I don't just slap them up there. I've actually put a picture up, custom graphic. I'll put subtitles in. I'll put links and make it look like a blog post and that kind of stuff. I'll get it up on rev dot com, so it's not like one of these Temi things that's like automated. I mean, those guys do a pretty good job at rev dot com, because it's human edited. I've done that. I did this one, the first one that I was on. I was on the WP Chick. She didn't transcribe it. I transcribed it.

I put the same transcript on my website, except I thought about how I was going to optimize it. She optimized her title for the show the way she thought it was going to resonate with her audience. I took that same transcription and thought about what I wanted to rank for, and in that case, I changed the title. In my case, for the show, when I re-posted the transcription notes, I called it the SEO Benefits of Podcasting. And sure enough, like two-three weeks later, ranks number one globally for podcasting SEO benefits, SEO benefits of Podcasting, just because I recycled the transcription that was never going to be done in the first place.

So, you see all these things, you all of a sudden, you do this stuff, where you go out there and you start with blog posts on a website and you thought about your keywords. Roll it into this campaign where you're actually truly repurposing some of the content your way, in the way that helps you build authority and stuff, and then all of a sudden, go into things like podcast guesting, which you can get all these additional benefits I think a lot of people don't. And in my case, when I got my clients doing it, it's almost like I'm getting my clients to do some of my homework for me.

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We're getting them booked on shows, which is a really sexy thing, right? You almost become like their virtual publicist. They're the ones going out there and sharing their story and actually getting this stuff published and then doing some of the work because they're the ones getting booked and then it comes back. One of the things that we've also done that's really been huge for me, I think is worth it all and of itself, is at the end of each show that we get guested on, I send the host, which you will get too, Doug.

REVIEW FUNNEL

I send them a review funnel, which asks them, “Hey, can you please rate me how I was in terms of being a guest on your show?” So, in 60 shows that I've been on last year, I've gotten like 50-plus reviews. It has jacked up my Google Plus ratings well over a hundred, which has pulled me up into the maps results more than anybody else in my city, because I already had a bunch of it from my natural clients, but now, I got a bunch of these other podcast hosts, some of them that liked what I had to say [inaudible 00:41:51] contribute.

They rated me, and of course, I reciprocated by rating them on LinkedIn or iTunes or whatever. Another benefiting I think people don't think, they didn't think the SEO piece of the reputation management strategy. But all of a sudden, again, starting way back at the blog, you roll this out and have an SEO mindset for not a whole lot of extra work. You get all these tons of benefits. And that, to me, to come full circle in that campaign that I just described, that's what SEO is now. It's not about just focusing on that backlink piece or trying to trick the search engine, with just a little piece of content or making a thin page on your website.

It's like rolling out these strategies where you're doing stuff as … You're doing as little amount of work as possible and getting the most amount of benefits and then tying it together in a way where you can make it work with you on Google and all these other places.

Doug Morneau: That totally makes sense. I mean, I've spent most of my career working with guys that are spending money on ads, so, as a media buyer. I didn't realize the benefits I would get from the SEO of transcribing the podcasts, and quickly figured out that now became a third of the traffic to my website-

Phil Singleton: Wow.

Doug Morneau: … because it was natural. It was natural content. And like you said, send it to rev dot com for a dollar-a-minute transcription, comes back, and I've got a 6,000-word blog post.

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

Doug Morneau: So, if you knew me a bit better, you'd know I'm not a great writer, but it's a little bit easier for me to talk than it is to write. So, when we're done our podcast today, this will probably be over 7,000 words. It'll be a very long podcast. I guess I'll probably get a little feedback from you after you look at it to see if I've done a good enough job SEO-ing it to pay you credit for the time that you've invested sharing with our audience. But yeah, it's been huge.

Phil Singleton: And then the other thing that I love about podcasting in general … and that's one of the things I kicked myself because I went through this campaign where I've done 60 or so, and I just launched my own podcast earlier this year, and I was like, “Gosh. If I really was on top of it, I would have had my own podcast before I got started,” because here I am. I've been on all these shows, talking to podcast consumers. Surely some of what I said had interested a few folks, and I could have picked up dozens, hundreds, maybe a few thousand subscribers, which is also valuable, right?

Doug Morneau: Absolutely.

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Phil Singleton: Just if I would have had my own show to drive people to, which I didn't have, and now I do. And then the final thing I'd like to say about podcasting, and I could go on and on about it, but a really important thing that's happening in SEO or a topic that's been this way for last 12 or 24 months is, Google looking at what's called dwell time on a website.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Phil Singleton: So, people used to talk about bounce rates and say, “Okay, they landed on a page and they bounced off,” and that being a bad thing because it was like 100%. Well, that's not really true because if somebody just lands on your website and stays for five minutes and leaves, then you answered their question. They stayed a long time. That's a really good quality signal for Google, right? So dwell time is way more important than bounce rates right now and that's really one of the things that you see a lot of people in SEO, they're saying, “Do fewer blog posts that are longer and long form more. Try and make these posts a lot more attractive, so people are compelled to go all the way down and scroll more and have more interaction, more engagement with the post.”

Well, to me, one of the most killer things in terms of content is, like on your website right now, you've got your blog posts. You've got a nice attractive graphic that you make. You've got the embedded audio. You've got show notes with links and then you've got the transcript. Well, one of the cool things about dwell time on that is, if you go to video, I think is really important on websites for all sorts of different reasons. Video is great. But the problem with video is, a two-minute video is a super long time because it commands all your senses and it's just long, right? You're going to watch the video or you're not.

But with a podcast, you can actually start listening to one, especially if you're on a computer, and start doing other things while you're listening to the show, right?

Doug Morneau: Yeah, I do it all the time.

Phil Singleton: Right. This is more important on the site, again than on iTunes. A lot of people are going to listen to things while they do work on their phone, but you don't need too many people that land on your webpage and then click that embedded audio button and play it. If you get just a few people to stay on the website and stay five or ten minutes, that's a huge signal to Google. So just that rich media on there that has a chance to play a lot longer than, say, a video would, is a super strong signal. I've noticed this even for myself that it's really helping to pull some of the pages up because I'm getting the clicks off of it and people are just staying on the page longer.

And the whole amount of time average that people are spending on the site has increased a lot by having a podcast on it, which is helping my overall SEO stuff. It's just one of those things where the gifts I think to keep on giving with it, but again, I think a lot of people don't because they have that SEO mindset, they're not thinking of extracting all these things. I think a lot of people in digital marketing kind of get the one-dimensional, “Okay, I'm going to … ” just like a lot of podcast guesting services are. It's all about hooking you up with a guest and getting that interview out and launching it and then it's … There's not a whole lot of talk about these other things you can get out of it.
Well if you just spend a little extra time, you can get like 10 more benefits out of it, and I think that just comes back to the benefit of having rich media and an audio file on your webpage. It's actually a really huge thing to get a few people to click that and stay on it, because it will affect your dwell times, which will then help your overall rankings go up over time.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, you're right. I mean, people talk about the highlights, and they miss all the side benefits and the back benefits and the backlinks like you said, and the SEO. There are all these other things that go on behind the scenes that help your ranking. I think it's more about a marketing mindset. It's great to post on social media, but like you said, it disappears quickly. If you're not building an email list and you don't have a website with a blog, I mean, why are you posting on social?

Phil Singleton: Right, exactly.

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Doug Morneau: So I can't imagine we could get any … Well, I mean, we could just probably spend the rest of the day talking about this. You're obviously very passionate about this, and you shared a ton of information. I have a page of notes here and feeling rather guilty about some of the stuff that I'm not doing or have not done. But hey, listeners, I can't imagine that you haven't taken some notes, and if you haven't, make sure that you come back to the website. We're going to transcribe all the information that Phil has shared with us. I would suggest don't be overwhelmed. Just take one and get started. We'll make sure that his contact information is there. So, if you need some help, you can reach out to him and his team. So Phil, where is the best place for our listeners to hunt you down?

Phil Singleton: Well definitely take a look at kcwebdesigner dot com. That's kind of like where it all started type of thing. And also, take a look at it with a second set of eyes, because one of the things I did last year is … I want to make sure I send you this link too. There's an important document out there called Google Quality Raters Guidelines. That's literally like Google pays 10,000 or 15,000 people to go out, and they pay them like $10 or $15 an hour to manually check the quality of search results. It's a really cool document. They give it for free. It's up on the Google server. Anybody can download it.

But it, basically, to me, tells you what they're looking for because they're basically having these laymen go out there and test the algorithm. All the answers are in this document, to me. I basically redesigned kcwebdesigner dot com  after I read that 160-page document because I was like, “Holy crap. This is the algorithm right here.” It's really simple to read because again, they're not trying to educate like rocket scientists. It's just like part-time people that they're trying to say, “Here's what we're trying to accomplish. Look for these types of things.”
So look atkcwebdesigner dot com, and then look through it, understanding that I actually designed that one according to the new Google Search Quality Guidelines, and then check that document out yourself. It's a fascinating read. Then check out seoforgrowth dot com. That's a book that I wrote with John Jantsch. We basically spilled out everything that we could do … what I've been doing the last 10 years, and we really tried to break that down. I got a ton of people asking us for help. I can't help everybody. Some people just don't have the budgets or whatever.

So I'm just like, “Here's the cheat sheet. Here's the book. Everything that we do on that and we charge people for is in there. You can do it yourself if you got the time or you can hire somebody else to do it or hire us to do it, but it's all there.” I really wrote that to try and educate and that it's not some kind of a sales trick. So, seoforgrowth dot com is there. I've got another site called KC SEO Pro, which is my SEO site. And then John and I started podcastbookers dot com. I've gotten so much benefit out of guesting campaigns that I was like, “I got to start offering this.”

So, now, we do that for a couple dozen people now, where we help them get guests. A lot of them of my own clients and some of our other folks. But, if you're thinking about going out there and building your own … and that's something people can do on their own. You know what I mean? You can go do your own one sheet and pitch yourself to establish podcast totally on your own. The fastest way to authority and great traffic, but there's other people that can help you out to do that too. We're one of them, but there's lots of guesting services and individuals out there that can help. But podcastbookers dot com is our guest booking site.

Doug Morneau: That's really cool. I always feel that somebody else can do a better job. I've got friends of mine who speak as well as I speak, and it's really tough to get on the phone with somebody to say, “I'm a really good speaker. People are sitting on the edge of their seat.” But, I could say that about you, so I think it's easier, right?

Phil Singleton: Right.

Doug Morneau: I could say that about you all day long and that's okay when I'm trying to pitch a one sheet or get somebody a speaking gig. So, it's worth considering for sure. In terms of the book, I mean, I think that's a great place to start. There's lots of times when I bought a book. So, I'm going to buy your book and read your book. I'll make sure I give you a review on Amazon. After reading the book, I found out, “Hey, this guy is really smart,” and then I've hired that individual for the services they offer, and I just looked at the book as doing a little bit of due diligence, spend the 10 or 15 or 20 or $30 or however much the book is and say, “Do these guys know what they're doing? Does it make sense? Is it logical for my company or my client?”

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If the answer's yes, then we phone them up and retain them, and they go, “Well, how'd you hear about us?” “Well, I read your book. I think you're really smart. I just don't want to do all that stuff, so I tried to just hire you to do it.”

Phil Singleton: Exactly. I think that works for everybody. It's definitely worked for us and it's helped us together, but it's also, like, you put as much value as you can in, because when we get a lot of people, they're just like, “God, I wish we could hire. We just don't have the budget.” I'm just like, “Well it's all here.” I mean, literally, it's all … a lot of it's in here. If you just do some of it, you can do it in-house and that kind of stuff. I think a lot of folks do it that way. But yeah, it is the same approach. Educate … Do it in a way, where people are like, “I see that you've done it, but you can probably do it for better, cheaper, faster than we can do it.”

But if not, I mean, you do get some people that they just want to get things started and roll up their sleeves. I think we did that, too, where it's like, it's not like there are any tricks in it. The worst thing that happened to me over the years is I've got a special place in my heart for small businesses or entrepreneurs. So it sucks to have to tell somebody on the phone, “You just don't have the budget for us. I'm sorry,” right? It's like, well, where are you going to send them? Especially in SEO, it's like 99% snake oil out there. There is nowhere to send … You got to do your own due diligence on that piece because it's really hard to recommend folks in that space.

But there are all sorts of ways to do it. Well, here's something where you've got, like in your case, Doug, or in mine, you've got something where you can just send somebody. Here's something where you can kind of self-educate and do some of it your own. So, you don't have to feel so bad when you can't work with somebody but still want to help them out. So yeah, I appreciate that.

Doug Morneau: Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate the amount of information that you shared. You just basically opened up and said, “Here are 50 ideas to get you guys moving forward. Take one of them and go.”

Phil Singleton: I hope, man. I'm really passionate about this, and I know I come off kind of ranting sometimes, but that's what ends up happening, is there's always so much you want to try and get out, and a lot of the stuff's helped me. But I really appreciate … I mean, I started to do these podcast guests, and I really appreciate it when somebody like yourself gives me the opportunity to talk to your trusted audience who trusts you, Doug, so I really try and bring my best stuff. I hope I did justice because I know your audience deserves this, but I tried to bring it, and I hope people … There are a few people in there that take action and it helps them grow their business.

Doug Morneau: Yeah, absolutely. I think so. So, thanks so much for listening to this episode. I'll make sure that all the show notes and all the links that Phil has shared and mentioned during our time together are up there. Make sure if you're not subscribed, subscribe to us on iTunes. Feel free to leave a review. Let us know how we're doing. I guess I would be remiss to not say, make sure you go to our website dougmorneau dot com and listen to Phil's episode there and read through the show notes. So, thanks so much again, Phil, and I look forward to following up with you and having a read through your book SEO for Growth.

Phil Singleton: Thanks a ton, Doug. I really appreciate it.

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Connect with Phil Singleton

Podcast: The Local Business Leaders Podcast    

Publications:  In 2016, Phil and John Jantsch, of Duct Tape Marketing, co-wrote the award-winning book, ‘SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers & Entrepreneurs’.

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SHARE THIS EPISODE: –
DOES SEO STILL WORK TODAY?
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Good SEO is as important as ever today.
Learn the process that will improve your SEO and drive search traffic to your website
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Links to other podcast and or blog posts:

Real Marketing Real Fast Podcast – host Doug Morneau – Episode #44

 

DOES SEO STILL WORK TODAY?

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