It was the height of the Dot Com era. New businesses began to embrace going online and getting a website.
Like many others, Dan began into the world of internet marketing out of necessity. He began to build websites for his band and his dad’s sculpture studio. People began to come to Dan, asking how they could get more visibility and traffic from Google.
One day, Dan was sitting in his car, listening to the SEO 101 podcast, when it finally clicked: there were people who were doing SEO full-time. Suddenly, Dan was bit by the SEO bug.
Since then, Dan bootstrapped a boutique SEO agency, Evolving SEO and is now the host and producer of the Marketing Podcast, Experts On The Wire (my favorite episodes are The Strategies Behind Orbit Media’s 1200+ Backlinks, Backlinko’s Content Process Revealed, and 300+ Links From One Piece of Content in a “Boring” Industry).
He has been a Moz Associate since 2012, writes for the Moz blog and has spoken at dozens of marketing and business events such as SMX and Affiliate Summit.
In this episode of the 80/20 of Growth, I interviewed Dan to find out the key elements to growing your site exponentially with SEO.
Jason’s Notes With Dan Shure
What Are the Basic Building Blocks of SEO?
Mainly people forget this first step, and instead focus on getting rankings from Google. You need to start with a business model to know the overall idea of what you are doing.
Second, you need content. Are you going to have a blog? A podcast? A product and service page? What is the main action you want people to take?
When Dan started offering SEO, he started by going local, targeting Worcester, Massachusetts. This helped get his foot in the door.
How Do You Start Getting Content Ranked in Google?
It’s all relative to your competition and your market. The landscape will be different if you are competing in a ride-share platform against Uber, Lyft, and Skurt, compared to something like escape rooms, which is an industry that is on the rise.
It starts with thorough keyword research to understand the landscape. What are your customers searching now? Possibly in the future?
Use tools like Google trends or Google correlate to know the foundation. What are the buyer-intent keywords? What are the top-of-funnel keywords you should targets?
There are 3 phases, each that have tools that you can use to help you:
- Research – Google Adwords, SEMrush, KeywordTool.io, and Answer the public.
- Management – You need to catalog and manage your keywords. Use Excel spreadsheets as a mission control of opportunities, what you’ve written about, what you are ranking for, etc.
- Analysis – Search console
I use Dan’s keyword research plan to grow an eCommerce business from 0 to 50,000 visitors/month. More details on my content strategy here.
How Do You Find Prime Opportunities in the Search Results?
Start by making it a habit to ask yourself why something ranks whenever you use Google. Use the Mozbar to help guide your analysis.
If you see results from these sites, it’s a good indicator you can rank quickly – Quora, Slideshare, Entrepreneur.com, Forbes. The biggest advantage over these sites is your domain has greater relevance to a particular target.
Then, evaluate the content to see where the gaps are and as cliche as it sounds, write the best content for it.
How Can a Smaller Site Be Able to Outrank a Bigger Site?
There are two paths:
- Brian Dean’s method – Start by creating 10x content. Then, follow up with manual outreach and a ton of link acquisition. Shoot for the top, get everything underneath.
- Find the long tail (Dan’s preferred route) – find phrases that are 3-5 words long. They might only get 10-100 searches/month according to Adwords.But you’ll get more traffic than you realize because:
- There are other keywords you’ll rank for
- The keyword tool doesn’t give all information
What Are the Biggest Wastes of Time Pursuing SEO?
- Focusing on tactics and forgetting to provide the user value.
- Is your content solving an user’s problem? Or just simply attacking a keyword?
What Is Your System in Getting Rankings in Google?
- Keyword research. Do a data dump of all the keywords.
- Use a content calendar to plan your approach. Consider seasonal trends, how often you can post, the order you should publish.
- Go to town and create the content.
What Is a Skill in SEO That Someone Should Hone in and Master?
Learn how to capture and hold someone’s attention. Is it a promise you make in the title? An emotion you put forth? Is it the image? Twitter is a great way to practice this.
Think about content from the top-down. What does the headline say? What is the first image they see? What is the first sentence they read? How do you keep people engaged, all the way through?
If you are getting organic traffic, what should be your priority: improve something ranking near the top of the search results or content that’s getting little-to-no results?
Aim to improve the mid-chunk: Bump what’s performing okay, but not great. Then look towards the content that is not performing.
Ask yourself – What’s in common with posts that are performing well? What’s in common with posts that is NOT performing?
Read The 80/20 of SEO.
What Tool(s) Should a Marketer Use to Optimize Their Content Better?
Compare this to the search console results. Is it getting impressions? What’s the average position? Then use that data to decide if you should combine articles, upgrade it, or create another article entirely.
How Do You Get in Article from Position 20 to the Top of the Search Results?
Is there are keyword relevance match for this article? What keyword could the article rank for? How do you get an alignment with the keyword user intent and your content? Is your content truly better than what is already out there?
It could be your domain authority is not high enough. In which case, you may need to get into doing some outreach or promotion. Even just using paid Facebook ads can also work too.
Read: Link Building Tactics – The Complete List by Jon Cooper
What Else Do You Believe Would Be Beneficial for an Entrepreneur to Know About SEO?
A core skill is to be aware of what is happening with search engines.
For example, Google is focusing a lot on featured snippets (check out Seizing the Featured Snippet Gold Rush W/Rob Bucci). Another area is accelerated mobile pages (check out John Mueller On AMP Pages, Crawl Budget, Podcasting SEO).
Follow people and blogs like SEM Post, Moz, Search Engine Land, Barry Schwartz, Jen Slegg, Glenn Gabe, Marshall Simmonds, Marie Haynes, and Bill Slawski. You will discover new opportunities and how to make the most of them.
What to Do Believe True Related to SEO That You Think Most Do Not?
There is far more value in the long-tail than people realize.
One client did an article on “Sales Team Names,” which had 990 searches/month. Within a month, they were #1 and getting tons of traffic.
Another client, we did an article on using an iphone to take photographs. At the time, Google said it had 10 searches/month. Two years later, he had got over 110,000 unique visits, from a random trending topic.
Don’t neglect the long tail.