SEO is constantly changing and the people who are making money are the ones who are staying ahead of the curve. Over time, SEO is still is where the power is, and out-of-the-box thinking is a pre-requisite for successful SEO. As an SEO expert, consultant , and bestselling author, Stephan Spencer knows how to take what you know with SEO and help make stuff sell. He says that building an audience in podcasting is a wonderful thing in and of itself, but getting the most out of it to make a blog post for your website has real value. Stephan shares a few tips on optimizing SEO podcasting and what is most important today in the digital marketplace.
We have a great interview to share with you with someone who is an SEO expert. In fact, he’s a published author on the subject. He’s written the book on SEO. It’s called The Art of SEO. It’s in its third edition. Back in 1994, he wrote the first one. This is pretty comprehensive. It’s quite an intense book. It’s got lots of tech to it and also lots of the art side of it. He is not just an expert, he’s a consultant, best-selling author. He is also the co-author of Social eCommerce, so he knows how to take what you know with SEO and help make it shoppable, how make stuff sell. He was introduced to us by Dustin Mathews, who we adore, who is an amazing expert on all things; getting your market, getting your leads. We think these things are tied together well; SEO and podcasting.
He’s also the host of two podcasts, so he obviously has already seen the power of podcasting. He is the host of The Optimized Geek and Marketing Speak and they are quite different but quite interesting each in their own. We’ll let him tell you some about that as well, but he has discovered like we have over time that SEO still is where the great power is and that’s why we wanted to have him on the show because this is someone who has gone through iterations of it where we are, I would say, relatively new to the SEO world. It’s not like we didn’t know about it, but the SEO world is newer to us than the content development world than making great products and great content and making a great podcast. We didn’t approach it from the SEO side, which many, many people did and he did as well. We approached it from the other direction. It’s nice to have someone to validate all the things that we have built in to what we do here at Brandcasting and Brandcasters.
Sharing a few tips of what is most important today because as you’ll hear him tell you, it’s always changing. Let’s go to the interview and then we’ll I’ll talk with you a little bit more on the other side.
Listen to the podcast here:
Power of SEO Podcasting with Stephan Spencer
Stephan, thanks for joining us. It’s so great to have an SEO expert on board.
It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.
You’ve got so many things that you’ve done over the years and you’re a podcaster now, but you’ve been at an SEO expert, sold the company. There’s a whole bunch of history we’re going to get into, but what I’m interested to know is, is SEO really dead? Because we hear that from people, so let’s dive in with the tough part.
People bait you with that. It’s ridiculous. It’s just to get a rise out of you. You could say that about any particular marketing vehicle or activity just to get controversy going. “Billboards are dead.” “I still see billboards on the freeway. I don’t think so.” “Television is dead.” “No, I think people are making good money still off of advertising on TV.”
What are you seeing with SEO still being indicators that it’s still viable and it’s still making people money?
The people who are making money are the ones who are staying ahead of the curve because SEO is constantly changing. It’s not stagnant and the best practices of yesteryear are not going to get you through next year and the next five years. Google is powered by so much machine learning and it will be even more advanced. There’ll be artificial intelligence. If you are going to try and outsmart an AI, good luck. The only way that you can outsmart an AI is what do you think?
The only way you can outsmart and AI with bad data.
No, with another AI. If you’re not playing around with machine learning and eventually artificial intelligence, how are you going to stay current? You’re going to be optimizing your title tags and doing keyword research, which is all good blocking and tackling and I recommend it, but that’s not how you win. That’s how you just don’t get completely decimated.
This is true especially true in eCommerce world, which I want to dive into a little bit later, but let’s back up and let everyone understand why you’re such an SEO expert over the years too, which is important and that’s what I wanted to set up by that question. Tell a little bit about how you got started.
I was studying for PhD in biochemistry in 1994. I met one of the original guys from Netscape, a guy named Rob McCool. He’s the guy who invented Apache, which is the web server that runs most of the web servers on the internet. I met him at the second International Worldwide Web Conference and I was enamored by the whole internet world. I was developing websites for fun on the side while I was studying for my PhD. I realized like, “I could make a lot of money.” That was the first time I had never heard of Netscape and he was one of the early guys who created Netscape enterprise server. I quit my PhD within a few months and I started building websites and then eventually playing around with SEO.
Back in those days it was SEO for Infoseek and WebCrawler. AltaVista is such different. You do stupid stuff that I didn’t want to do. Essentially, the same page eight times for each of the major search engines. I just thought that that’s not sustainable and that’s not good user experience and so forth. When Google came around, I was very excited. I wanted to reverse engineer everything about how Google worked and I did a pretty good job of that. Figuring out what worked and what didn’t work and how to optimize for the Google algorithm. One of the things for example that I had figured out that nobody else had was when you used to see indented search listings in Google. You’d have two listings from the same site and the second listing would be indented.
I always wanted to figure out like, “What is the true position of that?” because I knew that those were being grouped together. Back in the day it was called host crowding. That’s what Google engineers refer to it as. Let’s say you see a competitor, position one, and then you see an indented listing at number two. That wasn’t their true position. Maybe there were a position one and position ten. I was thinking, “If only I could know what the true position is like if it is number ten, instead of how it appears visually as number two, I could go to page two and the research results and give a little boost to some innocuous website that wasn’t a direct competitor to me. Push them onto page one and knock my competitors, indented listing off the page.” That was pretty ninja and that’s the stuff that I figured out by tinkering, by poking and prodding at the Google Algorithm.
In fact, it was that particular secret that I shared at the first SMX Advance Conference that got a lot of people’s attention including Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, formerly SEO Moz. The next conference at SCS Toronto, he came up to me in the speaker lounge and gave me a big hug and I’d never spoken to him before. That was pretty cool. We had a great conversation, and in that conversation we decided to do a book together. We got a book deal within a couple of days with O’Reilly. We were going to write the SEO cookbook together and then the publisher asked us to shift gears and do The Art of SEO instead. The rest is history. We are now on the third edition of The Art of SEO. Rand is no longer involved in the book, but I’ve got two other great coauthors. It’s a thousand-page book now.
We noticed that. Normally, I like to read a book before I interview someone. I was like, “I don’t think I can get through that in the amount of time since we booked this before.”
It’s overwhelming pretty much. When I tell people, if I give him a copy of the book like at a conference, I’ll say start with chapter seven. Chapter seven is not overly technical. It’s a lot of fun because you get to think about content marketing and link-building and how to be different and how to stand out, how to be remarkable with your content so that it gets great links and how to do outreach and how to get the attention of influencers, the linkerati. Those website owners and bloggers who have so much authority and trust in the eyes of Google. Just one link from them would be worth a thousand links from lesser sites. How do you do that? It’s like trying to put on the hat of an ad agency creative director and think like, “How can I create the next dollar-shave club commercial?” or something. Something remarkable that everybody wants to talk about and blog about. That outside the box thinking is a prerequisite for successful SEO these days. It’s a lot of fun to think about how to be different and increase the note worthiness of your content. That’s where I tell people to start.
It’s interesting to talk about where you started in the ’90s and in the late ’90s, we had our own business we had to code our own website or have somebody do it for us. We weren’t coding, but all websites were coded the hard way. Even the shopping carts, there was no plugin, no WordPress. It definitely has changed. It was interesting about having to make a page for each of the eight different search engines. Those probably in the days of AltaVista and search engines that were out there besides the one today.
Today, it’s Google. Even the few other search engines that may still be out there, they’re following Google pretty much. You mentioned something about poking at the Google algorithm to figure out what would work. Here’s where my next question lies is does anybody outside of Google know? Can you analyze the Google algorithm, like looking at the code or is it all trial and error in terms of figuring out what works as Google changes things? Because we all know it changes month to month, year to year. In terms of what they’re looking for and what they’re ranking and how they’re doing it.
The way I like to think about it or frame it is not trial and error because that sets you up for a lot of demotivating, bad experiments. I like to think of it as the scientific method. You have a hypothesis, you have a control group, you have an experiment group and you test stuff and you see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a science experiment. Everything’s a science experiment. Even though I have a book called The Art of SEO, which is ironic that I think it’s very much a science more than an art, the art part of it is creating something that’s remarkable, worth remarking about. The science is you test everything and see what works and what doesn’t work.
Let’s say that you hear from somebody that H1 tags are really important for SEO. You can test that. You don’t just have to read somebody’s blog posts and take their word for it, that it is important or that it’s not important. You simply design an experiment and it’s not a valid experiment if you just add H1 tags across your entire website. Because if you didn’t have keyword-rich headlines before and you add them and you happen to wrap them with an H1 containers, you’ve made two edits. You now have two variables you’ve introduced. You can’t do that. Now let’s say that you already had H1 tags with headlines and you want to test the opposite to see if removing H1 tags will have any deleterious effect or you could change that H1 to a font tag or an H6 or whatever you want and see what the impact is. As long as you keep that headline there and now it’s in a different container like H6 or a font container or something else. You can see did it go down in the rankings and it won’t. H1 tags don’t matter.[Tweet “While you’re trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not working for your SEO, you have to take a scientific approach.”]
It’s so important according to a lot of old school SEO, and it’s not. What matters is the keyword prominence. If you have an important article about SEO for podcasts, I have a great article on that. It’s on Search Engine Land. Let’s say you wanted to rank for SEO for podcasts and you don’t mention it until the last paragraph and it’s a thousand-word article. “I forgot to tell you, this whole article was about SEO for podcasts.” Probably not going to do so hot. If you start with the important prominent keywords and it’s visually prominence with the large font and right front and center, you don’t have to scroll to see it, it’s probably going to get a lot of emphasis as far as Google’s concerned too. Not just for users because there’s this patent that Google filed called the reasonable surfer patent and it applies not just to links. If a reasonable hypothetical web surfer is unlikely to click on the link because it’s so buried, it’s so tiny, it’s imperceptible to the user, then Google shouldn’t count it either.
That same idea applies to content. You put some great technical specs together, you put it on a tab on the product page. I have to click on a tab that says tech specs, and then I can see it. You doomed all that wonderful copy to get demoted in the eyes of Google. Same thing with reviews. I call that customer review content. You put it in a separate tab instead of making it visible by default on the page. It’s like, “It’s so much cleaner this way. It’s tucked away. You just have to click this tab and then you can get to all the great user generated content.” You’ve told Google that’s not that important. It may not get completely discounted, but it’s going to get partially discounted. You’ve got to think like an algorithm. While you’re trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not working for your SEO, you have to take a scientific approach.
The lesson here is don’t bury the lead. We’re not big lovers of the model of doing SEO for articles and writing. I am a columnist for Inc. and thought that the content was more important. You think that, “What my readers want to read and what the topic should be is important and we never bury the lead.” That’s part of why you have a leading paragraph. You don’t do that in good article writing, but the issue is that you also don’t think about how an algorithm’s going to read the terms that you put in. You utilize what is normal language, you use different words combined in there and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you remove them out in a well-written article. Over time, what I’ve discovered is that Inc. doesn’t want good journalism. They want good SEO and they don’t care when you switch it up. It is shocking to me.
Shocking to us too because this was not from day one of Tracy’s journey as a columnist at Inc. This came eighteen months into it.
I realized that they were totally trying to shift me over time and but never say, “Just violate every journalistic practice you ever learned and do this.” Over time, that’s what I’ve discovered, that that’s exactly what they want. It’s exactly what they want and headlines too. There’s this written policy that you don’t want to be clickbait, but when you see the top ten headlines that they push out to you in a competitive way every month, they’re all clickbait. They’re the same clickbait after two years. They gave to us the top 100 headlines year after year for the last ten years and I could have written that the headlines from ten years ago are the same today.
Here’s the challenge, you need to write for the search engine algorithms and you need to write for humans. As the search engines evolve, they’re going to be more like humans and less like robots. They’re going to look for readability. They’re going to look for good journalism and fact-checking. Not mixing metaphors or doing stuff that would get you an F in English class. You think that this is not important, but if it’s bad for the user, it’s bad for the search engine and writing copy that doesn’t read well, that is clunky, that feels stuffed with keywords. Keyword-stuffing is never okay. A surface level article, that’s just repetition of key words without being a comprehensive review of the topic is a bad article.
If you want to future proof your article writing or any content creation that you’re doing, you need to think about, “How am I serving the user?” because user engagement signals will suffer if you don’t, thus your rankings will suffer. The machine learning algorithms that are getting better and better at reading articles as if they’re humans will put a big red X on your article because it wasn’t written in a very journalistic. If you want to use a tool that will help you to ideate what to write about and get a comprehensive review of that topic space, of what Google would refer to as the entity, just think of it as a topic.
Let’s say the topic is lawnmowers. If you wanted to write an article about lawnmowers or let’s say it’s a product page about lawnmowers or category page probably, you don’t want to just talk about lawnmowers and then more about lawnmowers and lawnmowers and by the way, the lawnmowers. You want to talk about grass and about the lawn and about lawn furniture and about the garden and weed wackers and maybe a ride-on lawn mower versus a push mower and summer and all sorts of different keywords in a way that it adds a lot of value. It’s a comprehensive review of the topic of lawnmowers. If you don’t do it like that, you have a short-term strategy that if at best will only work for a time and it very likely won’t even work currently because the algorithms are pretty darn sophisticated already.
Is that why you’ve headed into podcasting like we have?
I started podcasting in 2007 and then I stopped. I pod faded after about a year and a half, but I’m back with a vengeance. I’ve been podcasting with two different podcasts for the last almost three years now. What got me back into it wasn’t because it was good for SEO, it is good for SEO, and great for getting links and great for authority building and all that. It’s great for all that. For me, I wanted to create a New York Times best-selling book on personal transformation because I went through a big transformation myself.
I’m literally unrecognizable from the guy I was ten years ago. I look twenty years older than I am now ten years ago, which is pretty crazy to think like, “What the heck?” This is like a real-life Benjamin Button. There’s some secrets to my success and I share that in my podcast, The Optimized Geek. That started as a book, The Optimized Geek book and I had a ghost writer, a very expensive one helping me with the book because. I believe in getting a lot of help when you want to do something well. You get an incredible team and I’m not one to just try and do a huge book by myself. Like The Art of SEO, I have two coauthors. I had three when we first started.
Makes a lot of sense because you have the perspective of understanding how being in the weeds every single day benefits. Being able to do that scientific method, being able to test out what’s working and what’s not makes you more valuable to your clients and to the people that you serve. Why not hire experts who are doing that every single day and getting bestsellers onto the New York Times list?
This was a ghostwriter who ghost wrote the boxer, Holyfield. A great guy and he was going to interview all these subject matter experts for my book because I had this who’s-who list of people who have changed my life and I wanted them all to be in the book and I’m like, ” You’re going to interview these people that I would die to talk to.” Some of them I knew, but some of them I had not interacted with before. “Then you’re going to throw away the audio.” You’re just going to take a transcript of it and you’re going to take little pieces of it and you’re going to work that into the book.
I hate that idea. I’m cringing over here because wasted content drives me insane.
I was just like, “That’s a big no. That is not how this was going to go. I will do the interviews and I will save those audios and I will turn that into podcast episodes and this is going to be an incredible podcast if nobody reads the book, but they just listen to the podcast. I will change their lives.” That’s what I’m doing and I’ve been doing it for almost three years. That’s how I got back into it. I started with The Optimized Geek and then four months in I’m like, “My bread and butter is SEO and online marketing. I should get back into podcasting about that too.” Then Marketing Speak was born less than six months later and I’ve been doing that podcast for over two years now. Both are incredible, I’m passionate about both and I’m sure I’m changing people’s lives and changing their businesses through those two shows.
I’ve heard both shows. I’m a fan of Marketing Speak because I learn something new from every one of the episodes that you do. Your journey on Optimized Geek is interesting too. You’re telling so many great stories there.
You mentioned Dave Asprey and I’ve said we would get back to that eCommerce tie in. For those of you who don’t know, he’s founder of Bulletproof. If you’ve ever heard of Bulletproof Coffee and he has a Bulletproof podcast and books and all kinds of things but eCommerce, I think in a way that tie in between content and eCommerce. He’s part of the reason that explosion and connection happened.
He’s put bio hacking on the map. People are experimenting with their bodies now like we should be experimenting with our websites. It’s pretty exciting. I’m wearing an Oura Ring which is tracking my activity levels, my heart rates, my sleep, and it syncs with my app on my phone. Tells me if I need to get up and move around more, if I didn’t get enough deep sleep last night. I want to track everything. It’s called the quantified self-movement. I also want to work on my longevity and adding not just more years to my life, but more life to my years. My wife and I went to get stem cell therapy with Dave Asprey’s stem cell doc, Dr. Harry Adelson. He was a keynoter at the last Bulletproof Conference. He became a client. We signed up to get the stem cell procedures and then on the initial consult call at the end, he’s like, “Stephan, you have a few extra minutes? I want to talk to you about something completely different.”
That happens the same thing to us all the time where they’re like, “Can we have a few minutes at the end so we could talk about you producing our podcasts for us?” We’re like, “We’ll make time for that.” Let’s talk a little bit about the SEO tie in for eCommerce. You were talking about before that burying the tech specs and the reviews and all of that. It’s different if you treat your eCommerce is searchable.
It’s also a rabbit warren potentially, if you have typical eCommerce features like faceted navigation where you can narrow down the product catalog by things like price range and size, color, brands, and you start clicking around. Googlebot can click around too. It can start exploring by refining by price range and by color and by size and all that stuff. You end up with all these different facets and you might have thousand products, but you might have 100,000 or a million facets and Googlebot doesn’t stop. It keeps going and going and going. Then you end up wasting all this what in the SEO world we call crawl budget on these low-value pages that are just a rehashing of the same thousand products over and over and over again. You’ve got to be very, very careful to put your content that’s awesome, front and center and stuff that is thin content or duplicate content or near duplicate content because it’s a reshuffled version of the same content. Ideally, just make that not visible to the search engines.
We’re looking at a lot of things like that as we’ve been working towards how we utilize the excess content from our podcast and things like that as well. What is important to the user and the user interface and balancing that out with what’s important to Google. You have the two models of things and when you were talking before about designed for machine and human, we’re always on the forefront of that on the product side of things. That’s been our business for a long time and at the end of the day, that human matters more because the buying decision is a human decision. You do have to have a weeded value to that, but that other stuff, you could bury it and you can keep it, you can still utilize it. You just don’t need to present it in quite the same way.
When you have great content, you can always find ways to repackage that, repurpose it, and build on it. If you have a winner, you don’t just shelve it and say, “Moving onto the next podcast or the next product or the next article,” or whatever. A past client of mine, Zappos, they had set a Guinness World Record, which is pretty cool. It was the most simultaneous high fives and they did nothing else with it. I’m like, “What a tragedy and what a travesty that you didn’t do anything further. You could have repackaged that and all sorts of spin-offs on it like infographics about hand gestures in different parts of the world and what they mean. You could do a viral video of a man on the street interviews. Tell me what this means.” It’s like, “I don’t know, a thumbs up.” Tell me what this means, and it’s an okay symbol. In different parts of the world, these are quite vulgar or not very nice. To get people’s reactions and then turn that into a viral video to create SlideShare deck of the top ten misused and misunderstood hand gestures and what they mean and how they might end up getting you shot in different parts of the world.
You could repurpose and repackage and spin-off. Start with something that’s a winner and keep going with it until it runs out of steam. You’re not just rehashing the same thing over and over again. We’re not talking about duplicate content, we’re not talking about copy and paste. It’s taking something and turning it into something new. It’s like when you have a great flower and you’re a geneticist or you’re growing flowers and you’re like, “This is unique. I’m going to create new hybrid, grafting. We’re going to try all these different things,” because you picked a winner. Do that with your podcast. Every episode that I do of both of my shows, we do a checklist of action items and that’s available both as HTML and as PDF download. I do a transcript of every single episode. I do an episode art cover for each episode. I do click to tweets. The show notes with timestamps and everything. It is a complete resource. I’ll even create oftentimes articles pulling the highlights and submitting those to various sites. You could do one for Inc. Magazine on a particularly powerful podcast like this one for example.[Tweet “When you have great content, you can always find ways to repackage that, repurpose it and build on it.”]
I can’t because I write in the innovation section, but I did that. We do exactly that. We do all of those things but part of it came out of us hating to waste content and then part of it came because all of a sudden, we saw the power from it. We didn’t know why. We just saw the power and we were like, “We’re going to do more of that.” That’s how that came about for us quite a few years ago. What you were saying about the topic and diving deep into them, our 3D print podcast has over 530 episodes or something. A podcast on something as techie and geeky as 3D printing, it gets hard to talk about that same thing the same way all the time. You have to be different and it keeps you excited and interested in it.
To me a little bit of the brilliance of podcasting is you get outside perspective through the interviews which leads you to thinking about, “Another spin off topic that I can talk about.” It helps build on itself and it keeps you in that moment where if I sat at my computer to try to write my column and just said, “What can I write about product design this week?” and I’m all alone. It’s a very different model. It’s not dynamic enough and it can’t keep the interest and it can’t keep on the cutting edge and it’s not future proofing your content and future proofing your site and your business. I want to dive into some of these SEO myths because you have a great little free SEO myth thing, but do you have any of those SEO myths that relate to podcasting?
If we start with a social media and how that ties in to SEO and podcasts, so many people think that all the social stuff they’re doing is directly affecting their SEO. “I’m going take my podcast. I’m going to push it out on social. I’m going to ask my guests to push it out on social.” It’s all social, social, social. The problem with that is not helping your SEO. If it is, it’s only indirectly helping. Social signals are not an SEO factor. It’s not a ranking factor in Google. If you get a link and a tweet or a Facebook post or it’s in the description of a YouTube video or even it’s in a Wikipedia article, you’ve got to create link to a podcast episode. “That’s awesome. That’s so exciting.”
That’s nice for the social media impact that you get, but there’s no SEO impact. If you get an SEO impact, it’s only because some blogger, some website owner saw that tweet, saw that Facebook post or Instagram post or whatever and said, “That looks interesting. I think I might blog about that. I think I might link to that podcast episode, to that show notes page or episode page.” Now you get the SEO benefit. Instead, if you let’s say, ask the guest to not just share on social, but more importantly, “I see you have an interviews page on your site. You have a media page. That’s cool. If you could, would you be willing to put a link on that page.”
We do that for all our guests. We have this thing we refer to as ego bait, where we’re providing an embed code to every guest that populates an image for the show and links back to the blog for the episode on our site. It’s easy for them. They can’t mess it up if you give them the HTML code. They just have to put it on the press or media page. If somebody posts about it on social media and they put a link to your blog about your podcast episode on Facebook or Twitter, is that link haven’t no value?
No value. It’s a no followed link. All social networks, no follow external links. Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, they all no follow external links and that’s because the spammers would have a field day putting all sorts of garbage on those social platforms. They do anyways, but they get no benefit from an SEO standpoint for doing so. Their incentives are less.
Only to the extent that that link might be driving some traffic to your site of people that are genuinely interested to write a blog. Traffic you said is different from the link value of a blog somewhere, but other than the traffic value, or the exposure value, there’s no SEO and link value.
Back to ego bait, we developed ego bait because I was doing all these great Inc. interviews and writing articles about pretty high-profile people and I couldn’t get them to put the article link like you think, “It has the Inc. logo. I was featured in Inc.” but there’d be no link back with that. I was like, “Why are you not sending people to the article? It’s an outside party endorsement of you and your business. Why aren’t you doing this?” It took me awhile to get to people and find out why they weren’t doing it. In the process I found out is that they don’t know how to use their website and they don’t know how to put stuff in. We made it so stupid simple that it’s like dropping in an image basically. All they had to do was copy and paste everything and say, “Just drop this in, it’ll be fine, or give it to your web developer and they’ll drop it in and it’ll be fine and put it on this page.” We started doing that and that’s how ego bait was born so there’s a graphic that goes with it. That’s what Tom had mentioned.
The HTML code populates a graphic and links back to the post.
They can’t screw it up. It goes to a sub page, not even the homepage. A lot of people would do, “Inc.com,” that’s not helpful either. You’ll never find your article in there when it’s three months old. We had to get them to link to the direct pages, and then we started doing that with our podcast and with all of our clients and all the Brandcasters.
You can do that same approach or similar approach with things like infographics where you, you have an HTML embed code. If you go to OptimizedGeek.com and then you look at the Are You A Geek? page, there’s an infographic on that with a quiz and everything. Right underneath the infographic is some HTML code that you can embed and includes a text link. The attribution is right there. It’s just super simple. Another thing that might be helpful if you think about people linking to the Inc. article, while that’s cool, that helps Inc. out, it mildly helps you out, but it helps Inc. out. Wouldn’t you like to figure out a way to help yourself out just as much?
A great analogy for this is let’s say that you have a YouTube channel and you’re crushing it on YouTube. You have incredible videos and then journalists and bloggers are writing up about it and linking right and left to your YouTube channel. You’re helping YouTube out. That’s very generous of you and I’m sure they appreciate it, but if you want to help your business, figure out a way that it just is obvious and important for the journalist or the blogger to link to you on your site just as much as it is to link to the YouTube channel. If you think that same approach like, “How can I get people to link to my website as well as the Inc. article?” Let’s say it’s somebody that you write about in this Inc. article, it’s the feature for that particular column for that week. That’s great, what if you did a behind the scenes of the interview, like the stuff that we didn’t share in the Inc. article that’s even more interesting. It’s like that show on MTV, Behind The Music.
You go behind the Inc. column and then you give them both links. If you have a YouTube channel and you want people to link to your site as well, you could do what Blendtec did. Blendtec has this Will It Blend? videos. Very, very successful marketing campaign that transformed their business because the founder, Tom Dickson, would blend all sorts of crazy stuff on video inside of these blenders like golf clubs and rake handles and then iPods, iPhones, iPads and stuff. They went viral. It wasn’t all about getting traffic to the Youtube.com website, it was about getting traffic and links to their site. What they did that was very clever, they set up a microsite, WillItBlend.com. If you go to Blendtec.com and there’s a Will It Blend? section, it’s not going to be as enticing to journalists but WillItBlend.com, that would be perfect. As a journalist, I’d rather link there than to the YouTube channel. The journalist was scratching their own itch. You didn’t even have to ask for the link. That’s the kind of opportunities that you should start dreaming up as you’re creating your marketing campaigns.
So much thought about what you can do and how exciting this is. We appreciate you coming on the show, Stephan. Sharing with us all sorts of ways to future proof our podcasts, future proof our blogs, future proof our businesses in general and looking at the power still have SEO and some of the things that we’ve got wrong.
Thank you. If your listeners want to take a first step in SEO, I would recommend chapter seven of The Art of SEO and I’m happy to give that for free to all of your listeners. Let’s send them to MarketingSpeak.com/FeedYourBrand.
Power Of SEO Podcasting – Final Thoughts
Stephan is such a great guy. I enjoyed talking with him and all of his insights. I did learn something that I didn’t realize. I always knew it wasn’t as important, but to know that all social media posts are no follow, no index posts, I didn’t know that. Maybe I should have. I know there’s power in putting a link to a blog post of yours or somewhere on your website out on Facebook because a lot of people see it, and then a lot of people may come to your site. The site traffic you may get from that would be real, but as a back link, it has no value whatsoever.
If you look through the analytics tools and on the technical side of things, you can very clearly see that that’s not the case that you are getting very little of your traffic comes from Facebook or LinkedIn or referrals through there, but that doesn’t mean that somebody doesn’t then type in your website because they saw you on social media. You don’t necessarily see the link through happening on a high and consistent basis unless you’re running a program, unless you’re running a lead gen program and typically you’re not sending them to your website, you’re sending them to a lead pages or ClickFunnels page, any one of those type of things. I don’t see the value in that on the technical side of things from what I see in terms of marketing, but I spent a whole lot more time on social media than you do and watching the analyticals. It’s a different way of generating and qualifying traffic I think you have to look at it. No technical value, it doesn’t surprise me.
No SEO value is what he was saying. There’s search engine optimization there. Facebook posts are not going to come up in a Google search basically.
They’re not going to be predominant. The more interesting thing to me was it’s so apparent with the changes that are constantly going on in the nuances that are going on, and that’s what we say to people all the time is like, “You can follow our model of how we blog, how we build graphics, how we do all of those things, but unless you’re an expert in it and you’re going to stay up on the latest trends, every single algorithm change, every single little nuance and change that’s working for all these other podcasters as well, you’re getting anecdotal and late information.” That’s what I find. When I see a lot of the blog posts out there that, “These are the 101 Thing You Should Do to Launch a Podcast,” and I look at that list and I go, “I wouldn’t do 90 of them.” That says something because it’s a waste of time. Just like this thinking that you’re getting social value to your website from this, that you’re getting SEO value. It’s a waste of time if you were doing it for that purpose. If you’re doing it for another purpose, that’s totally different.
I don’t subscribe to the fact that a post on Facebook that links to a blog post on your website has zero value whatsoever and you shouldn’t do it. I don’t agree with that. You’re getting the word out that you have a new blog post and putting it on Facebook or LinkedIn is a good way to do it. A lot of people will see it and people that click it will come to your website. That traffic is real, that some people will click it and come to your website. It’s just that as a back link in terms of SEO, it’s not doing anything for your website.
I think you’re still not analyzing the social links. You see people as viewing and liking, but actual action that they take on it is so low that the question becomes, “Is it worth my time?” That’s where if you are going to do a marketing strategy on social media and you have a plan for that and you’re pushing that out, that makes sense in and of itself, but if you’re using it as a traffic gathering plan for your podcast, we’ve proven over four years that it doesn’t work. That it doesn’t work organically in and of itself, that the people who see the post don’t click on it and don’t come and listen to the podcast from there. It doesn’t happen, but they do come from Google, they do come from SEO.
I think more traffic comes to our websites from Google and SEO.
You have to think about it this way. In social, it’s being pushed to them and it’s only being pushed to a very low percentage of them. They’re like, “Nice to know,” but they weren’t looking for it, but when they’re typing into Google they’re looking for it.
It also depends on how big a following you have on Facebook for instance. Do you have real followers? Did you have a bunch of followers from other countries that you know you got very cheaply in a like campaign experiment, like we’ve done one ourselves. The real valuable likes of people that are in your target market are very hard to gather and more expensive to get. It takes a long time to get them organically or very expensive campaign to get them in a paid cents and if you don’t have that then you’re going to get fewer people coming through that link in a post on Facebook to your website, but anybody who does click it, is still going to get to your website.
The point that I was trying to make is that this is what happens when you’re absolutely in the midst of it, you know intimately what’s happened for decades and what’s happening going forward. You have a sense of what’s going on and being in that position makes Stephan so valuable and his consult so valuable and his advice so valuable. That’s why we have a partner that does a thousand revenue generating websites who advises us on what’s working and what’s not and what we should change and how we post our blogs. H1 tags, when Stephan mentioned that, we still follow the practice of using H1 tags, which is outdated evidently.[Tweet “Social signals are not an SEO factor. It’s not a ranking factor in Google.”]
We do it more because of how we compose a blog post. You want the headline to be bolder and stand out. It wasn’t necessarily done for SEO purposes.
We always thought that it did also have that value to it, so that was like another reason to standardize on it and do it. I agree with you, we should still standardize on it because visually it looks good and it makes it easy across all of our blog posts to make it that way. If there’s no actual reason for doing it and it no longer is designed-valuable, then why do it? We could take them away all together because we have the headline in the graphic. It’s almost redundant sometimes that we have them there. Thinking about those things, it begs to question your overall standard operating procedures on how you do everything within it.
If you don’t have an informed team working on that for you, who’s experimenting, who’s trying and who’s doing all of these things and testing out these variables one thing at a time, in a design of experiment as Stephan points out, which is so smart, then how do you know that what you’re doing is of value. That’s where I get to everything that we want to present here at Feed Your Brand, is we want you to stay in the element at which you do best. Where you can have the most value, where you do the most for your audience, you attract the most. You’re building your business better and stop trying to figure out and learn all this stuff that you’re not good at.
It is good to research and know best practices, more importantly to make sure you’re not doing something that’s going to hurt you. That’s probably more important than trying to dial in all the modern details. How many of us have time to focus on all those details? What we do know is that original content is what works best original content created for your website. We happen to believe podcasting is a great way and one of the easiest ways to create that content or at least repurpose the podcast as that content. We did an experiment and I don’t think we’ve talked about it on Feed Your Brand before. We talked about it on Facebook because we went live and talk about it afterwards, but this might be a good time to mention that. It’s a good example and this is what I mean.
For all of you podcasters out there and all of you Brandcasters that already work with us, the whole point is you’ve built an audience in podcasting and that’s a wonderful thing in and of itself but getting the most out of it to make a blog post for your website has real value. Whether you deal what you know, the H1 tag thing doesn’t work anymore or you have any other, specific details, we think we have it dialed in as to what works best for your blog post, but we always adjust it over time as we learn more. We did this, we recorded an episode about The Best And Worst Podcast Websites. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’ve probably heard that. The day that that episode published, it was a Friday. It published at 3 AM Pacific Time or 6 AM Eastern Time because we usually do that so that before everybody goes on their commute to work, if they’ve subscribed, that gets downloaded to their phone before they go to work and they can listen. We found out by about one in the afternoon or something like eleven hours later after it was published, maybe it was two in the afternoon, that blog post was already ranking. The blog post for that episode ranking on the first page of Google search for three different specific keyword search phrases that were highly relevant to podcast websites in one way or another.
The best, that worst, whatever showed up in a daily Google Alert to the point where one of the companies we talked about, somebody was alerted to the fact that we had this post and they reached out to us to talk about it. That is the power of the content we’re creating. As long as your website is indexed on Google, it’s not a brand-new website and they’re looking at your site every day for new content and when it gets up there, they’re going to analyze it themselves and figure out how to rank it and it can happen fast. That’s a good example of the original, the organic nature of using content to rank on Google and to market and grow your brand right there.
We’ve seen it with a lot of our other clients in Brandcasters happen within a day or two or two or three days where it ends up very high in Google search on that first page for certain terms. I’ve never personally seen it happen in less than 24 hours, but I haven’t necessarily been looking always within that first 24 hours. I assumed, “It may take a couple of days to get up there.” Regardless of the details, certainly I fundamentally believe if you’re recording and then creating new content for your website, there is real SEO value in that and I think that case study is just one example of it.[Tweet “Original content created is what works best for your website.”]
Stephan’s right, this is going to continue. It’s going to get more and more powerful no matter what you think about how it works. Machine powered learning is exactly the focus. It’s all headed that way. Everything is algorithmic base. Even when we are talking about our voice activation systems and all of those things are being geared and run by an AI. When you’re talking about what artificial intelligence is, it’s not as smart as we would like it to be. That’s got a lot of bad data in there and it’s going to take some time to get right, but if you want to do business in that world, you better understand how bad it is right now. You better understand what is working with it the way that it is and how it’s improving because it’s going to improve and when it improves, you don’t want to be still using old, outdated practices. This is what I find a great disservice to new podcasters out there. The marketplace of those teaching you how to podcast are doing you a big, big disservice because they’re telling you all these things that they did to experiment and a lot of them didn’t work.
A lot of it was ten years ago. A lot of it is old and a lot of it didn’t work then, doesn’t work now, and yet they tell you to do that and there’s more work in it that you need to be doing. That’s what I appreciate about what Stephan’s got and he’s got an offer for you to SEO future proof for your podcast. He’s got a document on that and I think it’s fantastic. These are the things that you should dial in because these are the things that matter the most. He’s given us a special link so that Feed Your Brand listeners can go get it. Go there, check it out, download it and be up on the latest and greatest.
If you’d like to follow us on social media, we are still posting there despite the conversation about its value. We’re typically only on Facebook and LinkedIn though. You can find us there @FeedYourBrand. Thanks so much for listening. Hope you enjoyed this episode as much as we did. We’ll see you next time. This has been Tom and Tracy on Feed Your Brand.
- The Art of SEO
- Social eCommerce
- Dustin Mathews
- The Optimized Geek
- Marketing Speak podcast
- article about SEO podcasts
- Tracy Hazzard’s Inc. column
- The Optimized Geek book
- Byron Katie – previous episode of Optimized Geek
- Dave Asprey – previous episode of Optimized Geek
- Alison Armstrong – previous episode of Optimized Geek
- Dr. John DeMartini – previous episode of Optimized Geek
- Bulletproof podcast
- 3D print podcast
- Are You A Geek?
- Will It Blend? videos YouTube
- Tom Dickson
- Will It Blend? section on Blendtec
- The Best And Worst Podcast Websites
- Stephan’s special link
- @FeedYourBrand – Facebook
About Stephan Spencer
Stephan Spencer is an internationally recognized SEO expert, consultant, and bestselling author. He is the co-author of The Art of SEO (now in its third edition), author of Google Power Search, and co-author of Social eCommerce. Stephan founded Netconcepts in 1995 and grew it into a multi-national SEO agency before selling it in 2010 to Covario. Stephan invented a pay-for-performance SEO platform called GravityStream that was also acquired and is now part of Rio SEO. Stephan’s clients post-acquisition have included Zappos, Sony, and Chanel. Stephan is the host of two popular podcast shows, The Optimized Geek and Marketing Speak.
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