May 27, 2022
This week's episode is an especially exciting one for us - it's the first to mark the June launch of our new Search Marketing course created in collaboration with Neil Patel. We're joined today by one of his expert team, Matt Santos, who is VP of Products & Strategy at Neil Patel Accel. He has a breadth of experience across organic and paid search and in this episode he brings his expertise to a clear explanation of SEO strategy and techniques, and how an omnichannel approach to SEO can only be a win-win for your digital marketing.
Check out our webinar on GA4 Essentials, presented by another Neil Patel expert, Chris Coomer.
And if you enjoyed this episode please leave a review so others can find us!
"If I'm doing radio ads or if I'm putting up billboards on the freeway, how do I create a consistent message so this segment of audience who came from a billboard ad is having the same experience with my brand as this segment over here who came from an email marketing campaign?"
- Matt Santos
Will: Welcome to "Ahead of the Game", a podcast brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute. I'm your host, Will Francis. And today, we’ve got a very special podcast episode, to celebrate the launch of our new Search Marketing course in partnership with none other than Neil Patel. So I’m going to be talking to Matthew Santos all about SEO and its role in omnichannel marketing. Matthew is Vice President of Products and Strategy at Neil Patel Accel. He initially built the four major product offerings they provide to customers there, and he continues to oversee three of them, SEO, search engine optimization, CRO, conversion rate optimization, and email marketing. He's been in the industry for almost 10 years primarily focused on earned media digital tactics. Hey, Matt. Welcome to the podcast.
Matthew: Thanks for having me, Will. It's an absolute pleasure to be here.
Will: Yes, it's a pleasure to have you. You're working in a very interesting company. I think a lot of our listeners will have heard of Neil Patel. He is and has been for so many years a key influencer in digital marketing and particularly in the SEO space. So, just give us a bit of background. What does NPAccel specifically do within the kind of suite of businesses that he heads up?
Matthew: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, like you said, Neil Patel has been an industry titan for years. I think he's been a thought leader, he's been a venture capitalist, he's dabbled in several different industries, he's done a lot in marketing and software. And so about six to seven years ago, he decided, "Look, I have such a large following. I have such a large audience." And people constantly reach out to him asking for marketing help. They're like, "Look, I love your content. I watch your videos. I've done a lot of the do-it-yourself information that you've provided and I'm starting to get to a point where my business is taking off and I cannot sustain running a business and doing all of these marketing tactics myself."
And so, Neil decided, "Look, I gotta start some sort of agency presence to account and support the small to medium businesses as well as the enterprise." And so, he started NP Digital. And NP Digital is kind of our umbrella company. It's what spans across the globe. And NPAccel is kind of a subset of NP Digital that just caters to the small to medium business brands. And that was a segment of the market that hit close to home for Neil, specifically, because growing up, his mother was an entrepreneur and she was somebody who was obviously within the small to medium business category. And he saw her kind of go through all the different struggles of being a solopreneur trying to make things happen for yourself. So, for him, creating NPAccel was, like I said, hit close to home.
Will: That's interesting. And what is the typical brief there? Kind of what are you mainly focusing on for a typical client?
Matthew: So, at NPAccel, we started off within our first... Like, our first couple of years was very, very focused on SEO. So, search engine optimization is our bread and butter. On top of that, we have layered on paid media. So, we do handle all forms of paid media advertising on Google, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Amazon. Most platforms we can handle the campaigns. And then on top of that, we do a lot with conversion rate optimization and email marketing. So, with those four core offerings, that's what we bring to the table for small to medium businesses.
Will: That sounds great. I mean, they are definitely the things that move the needle most dramatically for a small business, for sure. When we chatted before this podcast, you talked about...you raised quite an interesting idea, this idea that SEO is so fundamental that it perhaps acts... So, maybe I'm paraphrasing you a bit here but it acts as, like, the heart of what you call an omnichannel approach to digital marketing. We've heard lots about omnichannel in recent years but I'd be interested to hear what do you think that means for your average small to medium size business?
Matthew: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So, I guess first and foremost, for individuals listening to this who have never really heard that catchphrase or that term, omnichannel, it's definitely a buzzword. It's come about in recent years. A lot of us are starting to use it a lot more to describe a marketing tactic that is cohesive, first and foremost, between, like, traditional marketing tactics and digital marketing tactics and just creating synergy between all of them and not just feeling like as a business I need to put all of my marketing dollars or all of my eggs in one basket. As a business, you need to start thinking about all of the different touchpoints through different marketing mediums that your different segments of audiences can reach you from, you know.
And so omnichannel is really understanding how can I create cohesion between my email marketing campaigns, my paid advertising campaigns, my search engine optimization campaigns? If I'm doing affiliate marketing, if I'm doing online reputation management, if I'm also...in the traditional sense, if I'm doing radio ads or if I'm putting up billboards on the freeway, how do I create a consistent message so this segment of audience who came from a billboard ad is having the same experience with my brand as this segment over here who came from an email marketing campaign? You know.
And so that's kind of the approach that we're talking about with omnichannel. Now in regards to the comment that I made to you, Will, about search engine optimization kind of being the foundation or the heart of all of that, that kind of props it all up. The reason I say that is because think about the last time you interacted with a brand that you felt you were about to make a transaction with, right? It wasn't most likely a one-touch scenario, meaning you didn't just see them for the first time and that moment you made a transaction. Nowadays, it takes at least seven touches with a brand to feel like you have enough trust with them and then make the decision, right? And those seven touches aren't always going to be in the same fashion. The first one maybe you're just browsing on Facebook one day after getting off work and you happen to come across an ad that piques your interest. And so that was the first touch with the brand. And so that was the first time you ever saw that logo or ever saw that message and it kind of, again, piqued your interest but you didn't take action.
You maybe didn't even click on the ad. You just kept scrolling. Second touch. Next thing you know, you're reading your morning newspaper online, and again, the ad pops up one more time. You're just like, "Interesting. I just saw that the other day. It's now new imagery but same messaging, same company, same brand. This time I am gonna click on it. Let me go see what this is about." And so that's now your second touch. You end up on their website, and by going to their website, you maybe trigger some cookies or start getting some data tracking. And then your third touch may be a push notification or another remarketing ad, and over time, you start realizing, "I need to start doing a little bit more research about this." So, you go to Google and you start doing your own research, and that's where SEO comes into play. It's one of the most trusted mediums where people feel like they have taken control and they can gather whatever information they want to gather to move themselves down the sales funnel. And so search engine optimization kind of is the foundation to all of those other marketing mediums.
Will: Because ultimately, it's the root to your central home on the internet as a business is the way that people decide to come to your central destination on the internet. But I suppose that raises the issue of attribution. And, you know, I mean, we know in digital marketing that it's the classic thing of the PPC. The person doing the PPC, they look great when all this other activity is happening and they're like, "Oh, my PPC is working really well." And it's like, "Yeah, we're running millions of pounds worth of TV ads and we're doing all these social ads and other stuff and..." When people are actually deciding, "Yes, I think I'm going to go and convert," they google it and they hit an ad.
So anyway, how do you kinda deal with that? How do you play that back to your clients and help them understand that it's not just the final touchpoint that did all the work?
Matthew: You bring up a very good point, Will. And I think that is kind of an age-old situation that as an agency, we always have to deal with because there is a line in the sand, and that line, basically, is a demarcation between the enterprise which are your tens of millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in annual revenue type of companies. And then you have your small to medium businesses which are typically below $5 million or $10 million a year in annual revenue. And the reason why I bring up this line in the sand is because the enterprise definitely has the budget to put towards incredible data tracking campaigns to have proper attribution models to see. Like I said before, the average conversion point is about seven touchpoints, right? And so on the enterprise, a company like Adobe, for instance, they have the luxury to have attribution models set up. They have URL parameters, they have trigger points, they have webhooks, they have everything set up so that if you came for the first time to an email campaign and then clicked on some advertising and then you did your own research on Google through search engine optimization and then you finally made a decision, they can see all those touchpoints and realize, "Okay, it wasn't just SEO that got all of the attribution, it was all of these other ones get kind of equal split, right?"
So, on the S&B side of things, it does become a little bit difficult because they don't typically have the budget to track all of that. So, what we try and discuss with our customers is a little bit more of, like, what I would call maybe a term like average ROI. And what I mean by that is basically saying, "Look, take into account the fact that you're spending X amount a month on email, you're spending X amount a month on paid advertising, and then you're also spending X amount a month on search engine optimization." Look at that as kind of your overall marketing budget and then look at the total number of conversions you received and then do some math on that to understand, "Okay, even though I can't 100% say that this 20% of my ROI came from email, 30% came from PPC, and then 50% came from SEO, I can at least see that, in aggregate, my ROI is great because of all of these different tactics that I'm investing in." You see?
So, it does become a little bit difficult on the S&B side. But the main thing we try and do for our customers is ensure at minimum they have goals set up within Google Analytics. We have Tag Manager and other pixels firing so that we can trust our data sources. And then from there, we do our very best within each campaign to set up, like, URL parameters, UTM tracking so that we can attribute certain factors to different campaigns so that customers can get a rough idea of where their ROI is coming from.
Will: Yeah. I get that and I see that problem myself. I suppose it's just that leap of faith. It's something inherent in marketing and always has been for decades. I think what happened when digital marketing came around, a myth circulated that you could suddenly track everything and everything was 100% trackable. And I think some people kinda come with that expectation. And they don't understand that actually, in some ways, marketing is a bit like it was in the Mad Men era of advertising where the old saying was something like, "We know that half of our advertising is working. We just don't know which half." That's what people always would, you know, say in agencies. And yeah, you're right, unless you've got very good and probably really expensive technology. You do kind of have to.
And I suppose the next question from that is, well, okay, if you're bundling everything together, their spending per month and then kinda deriving an ROI from that, I suppose there has to be some acknowledgment that at the end of this month... We're not gonna see the results of this month's work on things like SEO and social, organic social anyway because some of these things take months or years for results to materialize. So, is there a bit of a leap of faith required there like, "Look, just give us, you know, at least a few months?"
Matthew: Yes, 100%, Will. And I think that's part of our sales process. That's part of setting expectations for customers is really making sure that we are not giving them any sort of guarantee. Obviously, we wanna do our own number crunching and understand as best as possible other customers that we've worked on in the past within your industry. This is a typical range of success that we've seen within this specific timeframe. But setting expectations for customers so that they can work with us for a long time is absolutely vital at the beginning of a campaign. So, what we typically tell individuals is, "We need your patience, specifically for an SEO campaign, for a minimum of, like, seven to nine months for you to start to gain traction. And then around a year to, like, 18-month mark is where you should really start to see a lot of traction, and if you really stick to this over time, these effects compound and you will start to gain an incredible amount of brand awareness, market value, whatever you wanna call it, but it does take time."
Because you're right. Organic social and search engine optimization are two that take a long time to generate results from, but the beautiful part about them is that if you take evergreen tactics, you don't always have to spend such an aggressive amount on those tactics because what you did last year can still pay dividends this year, unlike paid media. When you stop paying on an ad platform, everything stops at that moment, you know. It's not like that in SEO. If you ever stop paying for SEO, you're still gonna have results and new keywords ranking, and different things occurring for you for months to come if you take the right tactics.
Will: Do you ever find your clients becoming over-reliant on paid? Because paid is very attractive, you know. Like you say, you can turn up... I can get the ads running this afternoon to any target group of audience that I choose, but, of course, once I turn that tap off I'm invisible again. But you do find some people get quite hooked on that, particularly e-commerce. Do you get much of that?
Matthew: We do. We definitely do. And I think the times that that happens, Will, is when certain customers have an incredible return on ad spend. So, if they're operating at, like, a 4x return on ad spend or as we call it ROAS, or if they're operating at a 6x or 8x ROAS, they do kind of get a little bit lazy with other tactics because, in their mind, they're like, "Look, for every dollar I spend, I'm getting $8 back."
Will: Let's get every single dollar that everyone we know has got and put it into this thing, right?
Matthew: Put it in, pour it in. And for them... Obviously, we wanna make our customers happy. We wanna feel like we are a team and we are working in tandem from a strategic standpoint. And we obviously appease to that for them. But at the same time, we're constantly trying to convince them on, "Look, I know this is great right now. I know at this moment you have a 6x return on ad spend but, to be honest, this may not be forever." So, you can't count on that to be the new norm forever. There could be a change in Facebook's ad algorithm next month. There could be a shift in the interest in your audience. There can be a major change in your industry. You don't ever know. You can't predict the future in marketing, and so you can't put all your eggs in one basket and say, "Look, forget SEO, forget email marketing, forget organic social. I'm putting all my dollars into paid media and betting big like the lotto." It's not safe for a brand.
Will: That's really interesting to hear that. Yeah. And so, it's a really good way of explaining it.
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So, kind of what are the low-hanging fruit for your average small business?
Matthew: Yeah, it's a good question, and I do get it all the time. And what I try and tell individuals is at face value, SEO can seem pretty daunting. It can seem incredibly manual. It can seem like it requires an incredible amount of time and patience, and it does. I'm not gonna bypass that. But what I do try and explain to people is that it all requires the right mindset. And what it requires is starting to kind of break things down into digestible chunks so that you don't get overwhelmed, you know. So, what I start telling people is, yes, Google's algorithm is changing on average I think over 3,000 times a year. They're constantly making small tweaks to the algorithm to just make it the best possible experience for anybody pulling up a Google browser and typing in a query into that search bar, you know. And so, it's taken thousands of iterations over the years, and for years to come, it will continue to take thousands of iterations. They're never gonna stop tweaking the algorithm.
And so, us as SEO experts, we can't ever stop understanding what's going on. And so, what I try telling individuals is, "Look, even though all these changes are happening all the time around us, there are still some constants that Google is always going to uphold above everything else. Don't get caught up in the fads. Stick to the constants. Stick to the evergreen tactics." And so those evergreen tactics are the low-hanging fruit that you're asking about, Will. And so, what I try and understand or what I try and impart in people is, first, try and break it down into three segments, okay? So, you have technical, you have onsite, and you have offsite SEO. Those are gonna be your three buckets that I want you focusing on month over month. And you don't have to focus on all three at the same time. They can be a little bit sequential. So, the first one that I try and get people to focus on is technical SEO.
And the example that I try and give people is you can have the most gorgeous website aesthetically. You can have the most high-level content that is so incredibly engaging that if anybody reads it, they're guaranteed to convert, but if your website doesn't load or if Google cannot index those pages so that when I go to Google and type in a query I see you come up, then none of that matters. The aesthetics don't matter, the incredible content don't matter. So, technical SEO kind of underpins everything from the get-go, okay? So, some of the technical SEO quick wins that I try and tell people is, first and foremost, try and go to Google Search Console, set that up, let it run for a couple of weeks, get you some data back in regards to their coverage report, their indexation report. Try and understand where are the pitfalls in your website that Google is having a tough time indexing? Because again, if they can't index it, no one's ever gonna see your page when they go to Google. So, that's one of the first low-hanging fruits.
Will: And I'm an Ubersuggest user, can I just say? I love Ubersuggest. I really do. And their site audit on Ubersuggest is pretty good for that as well and it gives you, obviously, lots more information.
Matthew: Yeah. You bring up another great one, Will. And I think Ubersuggest is excellent in the sense that it kind of tries to go above and beyond most other SEO tools with a technical audit because I promise, anybody who runs a technical audit, you will feel overwhelmed when the results come back and you see there are 1,400 issues with your website. You're just like, "Oh, my goodness. What am I gonna do with 1,400 issues or errors or warnings, right?" And so what Ubersuggest does is it kinda sifts through the noise for you and it tells you out of all these issues, which ones are gonna have the biggest SEO impact so it prioritizes them, and then also tells you which ones are gonna kind of be a little bit easier to tackle than others. So, you kind of have this cross-indexation of what's gonna have the biggest impact, and what's gonna be the easiest for me to handle? Let me tackle that first, you know. And so broken pages and setting up 301 redirects with some sort of plugin, that can be a quick win for indexation purposes and user experience purposes.
Trying to solve site speed issues. Site speed is another massive one that is low-hanging fruit. Some people think it takes an incredible amount of coding, and it can. If you wanna get very in-depth and make your website as optimized as possible, it will require coding, inevitably, but before you get to coding, you can leverage plugins to compress your images, or you can leverage content delivery networks like Cloudflare or some of the other free ones out there so that you don't just have one server that the whole globe is pinging when they wanna pull up your website on a browser. You can use a content delivery network so you have servers around your country or around the world so it delivers a quicker experience to your users from wherever they're trying to pull up your website from. So, indexation, site speed, these are two very quick wins for websites on a technical standpoint.
And then the other one I try telling people is nowadays, one of the biggest algorithm updates that Google has made to date was last May to June with the Core Web Vitals update. And so, this is the new world that we live in is Google is trying to create the best user experience when users land on your website. So, they wanna make sure, again, your website is loading quickly, there's not a lot of popups and distractions, there's no shifting of your layout when people go to click on stuff and causes a poor user experience. And so that's one that I want people to be conscious of, but they're probably gonna have to outsource to get those things fixed unless you know some deep elements of programming to do it yourself. But other than that, I would suggest hiring a professional because you don't want to break elements of your website trying to do it yourself.
Will: And Core Web Vitals, you can look at that information in Google Search Console, right? Are there any other tools or is it just Search Console?
Matthew: So, Search Console can be your home base since there's obviously a script on your website constantly tracking and giving you information back. But there are some other tools. I know we as an agency, we do use Lighthouse, which is a great plugin to use and it can give you some great actionable information. And then on top of that, the other tool that's very useful, again, it's another Google tool is Google PageSpeed Insights. Google PageSpeed Insights can give you a specific breakdown on very specific URLs and let you know what are the elements that you need to tackle first from a Core Web Vitals standpoint.
Will: Yeah. Do you know I worked on my PageSpeed Insights for so long and I tried loads of caching plugins to WordPress? I used Cloudflare. I did everything. And then I just ended up paying for a plugin called WP Rocket. It's the most popular paid-for caching plugin. And suddenly I have, like, amazing scores on Google PageSpeed Insights. So, I don't know what they're doing at WP Rocket but it just does everything that all the other plugins seem to promise, so free plug for them there, but I just thought it was great. But you have to pay for it and I think that's a reality for a lot of these things, you know. It's so worth the money. I think it's something like $45 a year or something, but people are sometimes put off by paying for these tools but it's money so well spent. Something like that.
Will: You know, I always tell people, like, "Put Amazon, put Facebook, put New York Times, any of these massive websites, put those through those tools. They're not perfect. They don't get green lights all the way down so..."
Matthew: I think that gives me a great segue into the next section of what I tell individuals when they ask me about how to go about leveraging search engine optimization. So, we've, obviously, in the last several minutes covered technical. And those are some great low-hanging fruits we've talked about up to this point. So, moving on to onsite. From an onsite perspective, what we mean when we say onsite is, obviously, what are the elements that users are gonna interact with on your website, like, when they actually pull up your website on a browser? So, that's gonna be your pages, your content, your elements that individuals can interact with. So, from an onsite perspective, there are a couple of quick wins that I tell individuals. So, obviously, from an SEO standpoint, still to this day, you have to optimize consistently your metatags, okay? So, your title tags, your meta descriptions, your header tags, your H1s, your H2s, all of those header tags, and also all image tags. Like, even though those may have been devalued over time as, like, ranking factors, they still affect user experience. They still affect you standing out in the search engine result pages and getting somebody to click on your listing as opposed to a competitor's listing, you know.
So, you still have to optimize them. You still have to make them engaging. You still wanna include keywords. So, there's definitely low-hanging fruit there. Also, from an onsite perspective, what I try telling individuals is don't get caught up in trying to compete for incredibly competitive terms. Still, optimize around them but go for longtail keywords. I think that's something we've talked about for a very long time in SEO, and still to this day, that's a tactic that works incredibly well for small to medium businesses is don't go after the term that's like men's hats. Go after a term that's a lot more longtail that the big brands like Amazon or other retailers are not gonna be targeting because the volume doesn't really make sense for them. But for you, it can make all the difference in the world. So, try and go after a term like gray fedora size 10, you know. Like, that's something that is going to be more specific to your product, and also, it's going to bring somebody to your website that's more ready to purchase now. You're actually bringing people who are further down the sales funnel and ready to convert a little bit sooner. So, there's definitely a lot of positives with that tactic.
Sure, the term may only have 10 search volume a month or 100 search volume a month, but what I tell people is that's only one keyword. And what if I brought you 10 people to your website who are ready to purchase now? Would you disregard that? You know. And again, like I said before, if that's only one keyword and over time you're ranking for hundreds of keywords, these things stack and multiply, you know. So, that's a tactic that I try telling individuals, leverage longtail keywords, try and inject them within the metatags, try and inject them naturally within your content.
And then the other tactic that's working extremely well for us and a lot of brands to date is what we call content refreshing. So, obviously, it's still a positive to this day to produce content, to produce blog content on a consistent basis, find the cadence that works for you, don't overwhelm yourself, don't inundate your audience with, like, 30 blogs a month if they don't care to read for 30 blogs a month. If they only care for two blogs a month, then give them two blogs a month, you know. Whatever cadence works for your audience, go after it. But not only creating net new content is what works well in the search engine today but also going back to old, stale content and refreshing it.
So, like we said before with the paid media example, Will, things are gonna change, right? Your industry will change. The algorithm will change. New competitors will jump into the market and shift messaging and make people think about things in a new way that they've never thought about before. Take advantage of those moments. Go back into sections of your website, your blog posts, your product pages, your service pages, your homepage, and refresh that content with these new buzzwords in your industry or these new topics or these new thought streams. And that's how Google is starting to react extremely well to small to medium business websites, okay?
What we call it here, like Neil and myself we kinda call it the Wikipedia strategy. What we tell individuals is we studied Wikipedia. Why? Most search terms you put into Google, Wikipedia is on the first page, right? There's a reason why. There's a method to their madness. Wikipedia throws up a page, and pretty much unless that topic becomes absolutely irrelevant, they're never gonna take that page down. And also, on top of that, what they do every time something happens with that topic, they have users go back to that page and add to it and refresh it and strip things out that are no longer relevant, and then inject new things that are now relevant, you know. And so, Wikipedia is constantly refreshing its pages through user-generated content. And it showed us that Google reacts incredibly well to that tactic within their algorithm, and so we should be leveraging that for ourselves too.
So, for example, on the Neil Patel blog, we may produce about 20 to 30 new blogs a month because that's what our audience asks for, but we are on average, refreshing about 70 to 90 blogs a month. So, that gives you the ratio of, like, how much we need to create new content but then also go back and refresh old content. There's definitely a ratio there that we stick to, and that's why Neil's website receives so much traffic and so much love from an SEO standpoint.
Will: That's very interesting. You've raised some questions there. I've been racking up a list of questions as you've been talking. Because I know I run workshops and seminars and things about this stuff and I get asked questions like should you put a date on when it was last updated? Should you communicate that to the audience.
Matthew: Yes, I think you should. And there is a tactic to it, though. So, first of all, try your best to never allow the date to be in the URL. And the reason why is because if you're changing your URL constantly and then redirecting it to the new dated URL, you're gonna be losing link juice and kind of resetting the algorithm to reindex that page. So, don't put the date in the URL. But it is valuable to put the date within the body of the content, you know. And literally put last updated so that not only does the algorithm and Google's robots know that you're updating it consistently because they're definitely gonna notice it, but we as users will pick up on that because when it says last updated, we subconsciously realize that, "Wow, whoever is running this website is on top of it. I'm not reading something from four years ago. I'm reading something that may have been written for the first time four years ago but was just updated again two weeks ago because the owner cares that much to make sure that I'm in the most recent version of the context of this article, you know." So, it sends some great messages.
Will: It does. What about pruning content, then? Deleting old content. What do you think about that?
Matthew: Hundred percent. So, if you heard me before, sometimes refreshing content isn't just adding new content. Sometimes it's going back and realizing, "Wow, when I wrote this two years ago, I was incredibly longwinded and I said the same thing over and there's so much fluff in here, you know." So, pruning content can also have incredible value because Google's not going around with some sort of rule or saying, "In this industry, for us to rank you, every blog needs to be 2,200 words." Like, if you can say what your competitor is saying in 2,200 words in only 1,500 words but it was more to the point and more impactful and created a better experience, you're gonna outrank your competitor, you know. So, pruning content sometimes has just as much of an effect as adding to the content.
Will: Yeah. I mean, Google's got one job, hasn't it? Google is just trying to be as useful as possible to its audience and when someone makes a query, a query literally is a question, is a query, and Google wants to serve up the best information and it will reward the sites that provide the best information in the best format I suppose. And that's why I always tell people, you know, because people often expect, like, hacks, SEO hacks. I'm like, "There's one. There's only one hack. Be as useful as possible to your audience and be more useful than your competition. That's the hack, right?" Would you agree with that?
Matthew: Hundred percent, 100%. I always try and make things as simple as possible for people. And when they ask me to do, like, a light audit of this page and say, "Matt, why is this page not ranking?" I try and distill it down to the simplest thing of literally what you just said, Will. I was like, "Look, think about Google. What is Google's number one goal? If I as a user come to Google today, they want me to have the best experience possible. So, therefore, that translates to your page. How can you create the best experience possible?" If I'm looking for an answer within the above-the-fold section of a website, don't force me to scroll all the way down to the bottom through 4,000 words of text. Don't do that to me. Like, put it right at the top. Only give me 100 words of text if that's what I'm looking for in this moment, you know. So, you're completely correct.
Will: That's good to know. Good. Thank you. So, is that on-page dealt with, your kinda key go-to? I mean, there's lots more to talk about but that's your kind of low-hanging fruit in terms of on-page. So, the other bit then is off-page SEO. What are the kind of low-hanging fruit there do you think?
Matthew: From an offsite perspective, Will, normally, what people think about is building authority, okay? So, Google's algorithm focuses still heavily to this day on authority and what type of authority does your brand have within your industry and within the internet. So, the way that Google still to this day calculates authority is through several different tactics. So, one of them that is the heaviest is through links and what your link profile looks like. Other ones may be through brand mentions, through your social media presence, through public relations and PR campaigns that you may be using. But from an SEO standpoint, link building is still one of the most impactful tactics to use to build authority. And what I try telling people is that if you start doing research on link building on not only your competition but also just out there to learn about it, you're gonna get overwhelmed incredibly quickly because most of your competitors probably have been around longer than you. They've probably put more dollars into SEO than you have up until this point. And if you look at their link profile versus yours, you're gonna say, "How in one year with working with, like, a company like NPAccel am I going to get 400,000 links pointing to my domain? Like, how is that gonna be possible?"
And what we tell you very quickly is that's not going to be possible. It's not a numbers game anymore. You're not chasing your competition to match them one-to-one in regards to their link profile. It's more of a quality game now, okay? And so that is the low-hanging fruit is make sure that you are trying to link from super relevant websites within your niche that obviously aren't competitor websites but they can be publication sources, they can be syndication sources, they can be directories, they can be news outlets, they can be media outlets. Whatever's relevant within your industry, make sure that you're gaining links from those domains and you're pitching high-quality content to them. So, that can be through guest blog posting. That can be through tactics like competitor link building.
And what I mean by competitor link building is go to some of your most well-known publications in your industry, go through some of the articles that you feel are relevant to your product or service, and see if there are any links in there that you can click on and see if they're broken because it happens all the time. I promise you, broken links are everywhere on the internet. And if you find a broken link, reach out to that webmaster of that website and say, "Hey, I noticed that this is kind of a poor user experience. I wanted to go to this website. It was broken. I actually have a page on my own domain that suits that same purpose. Would you mind refreshing it with mine?" And so that tactic still to this day works incredibly well.
Will: That's a great tactic. And look, I have to say at this point and I know I'm starting to sound like, you know, you've paid me to say this or something but I use Ubersuggest for this as well because it's got a really simple interface for tracking backlinks. It tells you how many backlinks you've earned and lost over time, which pages are linking back to you, and also allows you to do competitor research, shows you which sites are linking to your competitors but not you. And I find that really useful as well. So, yeah.
Matthew: A great point. Very good point. And kinda monitoring your backlink portfolio is key for that because you're gonna realize that inevitably you're building links and also losing links. And losing links isn't a bad thing. It's just part of the internet. Domains expire, pages get redirected, webmasters change office. And so, things are gonna happen, right? You're gonna lose links. And so, you need to constantly stay on top of this. And then the second tactic that I mentioned as low-hanging fruit with link building is a lot of websites make the mistake of just linking to their home page. And while that's great, while that definitely does help the domain overall, that's not great for user experience, and it doesn't send link juice to your most important pages. When you're linking for a certain keyword, you don't always want your homepage ranking.
Going back to the example I gave you before with the gray men's fedora hat. If I type that into Google, I don't wanna go to your homepage and then go digging around for that gray fedora hat. Send me to the page that I can purchase the gray fedora hat directly from, you know. So, it's the same thing with link building. If I'm going out there and trying to gain a link to this hat page, don't send people to the homepage. Link to that deeper page because that's the page you want ranking, that's the page that needs the link juice. So, link building has a lot to do nowadays with, like, building links to deeper pages on your website, so those are the ones gaining the link juice. And then piggybacking off of that, kind of a quick third tactic is internal linking. So, that's also a linking strategy is making sure within your own domain you're making sure that these pages are linking to each other so that it's a great user experience and it's also sharing link juice within the domain.
Will: Yeah. That's a good point. And as a side note, when you internal link or you just include a lot of links in your content, when people come through from a search result to your content, they're more likely to kinda go down the rabbit hole, click on lots of things and a lot less likely to end up clicking back to a search results page which tells Google that maybe their need for information wasn't quite satisfied. So, you're right. That's good. Another thing I tell people about this is I think... Now, this is just my personal experience talking but I found that PR, the activity of PR is actually really good for link building. And my most authoritative links are from major news outlets where I've commented on a story to do with digital technology or media or something like that. And particularly knowledge-led businesses, I tell them, "You know, make sure you're on the list of people that journalists reach out to when they want a quick comment on your specific niche and make sure you ask for a link, you know, next to your contribution." Because getting a link from, like, yeah, "The New York Times" or a website like that is...well, you talk about link juice. That is one big bottle of link juice. So, what do you think about that? Is that an effective strategy for your clients do you find?
Matthew: It is. It is. And I think sometimes at the small to medium business level, they have this stigma that PR isn't for them. PR is for the massive brands, PR is for Walmart, PR is for Amazon. And sure, those massive Fortune 100 brands leverage PR all the time, but we can distill that down to this day to an affordable rate and leverage PR for our customer base. We do it all the time. And so what we try and tell them is, yes, leverage PR. Inevitably when we send a 2,000-word blog post to all these media outlets and get it syndicated, it's massive for brand awareness, which is one of the factors with authority. It's massive for link building because now if you get picked up on 90 media outlets, those are 90 backlinks coming back to your website from very powerful domains, you know. Some of them may be nofollow, some of them may be dofollow, but either way, Google is seeing that these media outlets are talking about you and picking you up, and so that means they trust your brand. So, inevitably, it's going to work incredibly well for you.
And then you even touched on another point, Will, with the reporter list. There's a great website out there, HARO, H-A-R-O, Help a Reporter Out. I recommend going to that website and signing up for their newsletter, trying to get in contact with individuals over there because it's like you said, reporters and publicists are always looking for more information, more news, what's hot, what's trending, and they want lists of people to reach out to to gain quotes from or to gain a piece of content from. And if you have those individuals constantly reaching out to you, then you're naturally and organically building links over time.
Will: That's there. That's a really good piece of advice. I'm sorry. You mentioned nofollow so I have to ask you because listeners will be wondering. Just explain that and explain, well, how much notice you think Google takes of it.
Matthew: So, there are now actually...technically speaking, I think there are four parameters. There only used to be two, but Google noticed that people are gaining the system. They want people to be a little bit more honest. They want better attribution to the type of link being built to your domain. So, the first two that always used to exist were dofollow and nofollow. Dofollow basically means that domain A is linking to domain B, and domain A has a dofollow link pointing to domain B, which means I want link juice to pass from my domain to their domain. I'm willing to sacrifice my link juice. Nofollow is basically saying, "I am gonna link to domain B but I don't want any sort of link juice to flow. But obviously, traffic can flow, you know, so there's still some benefit. And I still feel like this brand is authoritative enough for me to mention them on my website and link to them." So, there's still some value there from an SEO standpoint but there's no link juice flowing. So, it's not the ultimate value, you know.
So, I never discredit nofollow. What I try telling individuals is you want a healthy split. It's going to be organic. Like what you said before, run Amazon through any sort of link processor like Ubersuggest, run Macy's, run JCPenneys, run any major domain. You're gonna see there's a healthy split of, like, 70% dofollow, 30% nofollow. Sometimes it may be the opposite, you know, depending on your industry. So, you have dofollow and nofollow.
The other two that have come out as parameters are user-generated content and then sponsored content. So, those are two other ones that have come about in certain industries, like, for instance, Wikipedia. That would be a user-generated content link, you know. Or sponsored maybe. You're just telling Google straight up that, "I paid this domain to have my content on there and point back to me. And so, I'm being honest about that and there's nothing dodgy about this interaction and this transaction, but I'm telling you right within this link that it's sponsored. I paid for this piece of content to be on this domain." So, those are the four. Dofollow, nofollow, user-generated content, and sponsored.
Will: That's good to know. And just to be clear for our listeners, that is literally a tag that you include in the HTML of the link, rel="nofollow," etc. That's just a little note, isn't it? To Google to give it some context and understanding of the intention of that link, as you say. So, let's bring it back to omnichannel. Tell me how what we've talked about relates to and forms the basis of omnichannel marketing.
Matthew: There's a couple of different things. So, first of all, just try to put it in two separate buckets. So, the first bucket to bring it back around to omnichannel is put yourself in your user or your audience's shoes and think about the fact that we now live in a world of what some people call the empowered customer. And what that basically means is they wanna feel like they weren't sold at, you know. They wanna feel like they did their research, they came to an educated decision, and they approached a brand and decided, "Look, I did my research, I trust you, here's my credit card, you know."
So, thinking about that concept, there's a couple of examples I'm gonna give. So, let's say you're at a barbecue and your friend says, "Hey, there's this really cool website with this really cool product. You should go check it out." What you're gonna do right after you hear that is you're gonna go to Google, you're gonna type in that brand name, you're gonna go start doing your research. So, if you don't do SEO and all the tactics we just talked about and the low-hanging fruit, and if I after that barbecue go to Google and try typing this in and you don't come up and I can't find you, trust is already lost, you know.
Another example I'm gonna give, like what we said before with omnichannel and paid media. So, if I'm on Facebook or Instagram or just browsing the web and I see an ad and I'm like, "Wow, that's intriguing. Let me go do some research." I go to Google, start typing things in. Again, same thing as the barbecue example. If you pop up, trust is made. I'm gonna go start doing research about you. If you don't come up and I start typing in all different variations of your brand name, all different variations of your product or your service and I can't find you on Google's first page, I'm done looking for your brand. I'm gonna find the next brand that did show up, you know. So, this is how we can bring it back and say, "Look, email marketing campaign, paid media campaign, referral from friend to friend. If I saw your billboard on the freeway while driving and I go to Google and try to find you and I don't find you, it's gonna make it incredibly difficult to get that final conversion, you know."
So, the second bucket is your second part of your question, Will, which is how do we keep our teams thinking about omnichannel and creating this synergy? First and foremost, making sure that the teams are communicating with each other and saying, "Okay. If I optimized this landing page from an SEO perspective with these keywords and this language and these call to actions and this messaging, then hand that over to the email marketing team and let them know, look, these are the call to actions that we're noticing are converting incredibly well from an SEO standpoint so maybe leverage those same call to actions and buttons within your email marketing campaign. Also, this header at the top is the header that we're noticing a lot of individuals click through to. Like, they don't bounce back to Google, so maybe include a variation of that header within the top of your email newsletter," you know. So, those are tactics. Same thing with blogging. If I'm blogging on a consistent basis and I'm looking at my Google Analytics and realizing blog A is converting incredibly well and gaining a lot of traffic and taking off with keyword rankings, let's feature that blog in our next monthly newsletter, you know. So that's cohesion from SEO to email.
Cohesion from SEO to paid media is share the keyword data with each other. So, from a paid media standpoint, share with SEO the keywords that are bringing a lot of traffic and a lot of conversions and vice versa, and figure out how we can optimize pages around similar keywords so that our campaigns aren't fighting against each other but working with each other. Because if I show up two times on Google Search engine result page, that's twice the real-estate, twice the opportunity for someone to come to my website, you see. So, you can start to see how making these different teams communicate with one another to have cohesion can start to drive a more omnichannel better experience.
Will: I like that. The way you describe it. There are learnings being passed between the various channels based on data. That's great. But also, ideas and content. If this topic does well as a blog post, let's do a video about it. If this headline gets clicked on a lot in search ads, let's think about how we do our email subject lines. And understanding the audience, presenting them with a consistent experience, and further tailoring each of the channels to what we increasingly know about what the audience responds to and I think that is a very smart approach to digital omnichannel. It's good. It's very good.
Look, you've explained that so clearly. I absolutely love the clarity with which you clearly have to explain this a lot to people. I love the clarity with which you do that. Thank you so much for your time. I know that you're coming back to do a webinar, and we will put the link to that webinar in the show notes of this episode because it will exist by the time this podcast episode goes out. So, look forward to that. That's in June. And one final question for you. Just tell our listeners where they can find you and connect with you online.
Matthew: Yeah, definitely. So, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. So, that's one way you can grab hold of me. Also, connect with me on LinkedIn. You can find me directly on LinkedIn. I have my full name on there, Matthew Santos. So, send me an invitation. Let's connect on LinkedIn, shoot me questions. I'm always open to having discussions through there. But those are definitely the two main avenues to get ahold of me.
Will: That's great. Matt, thank you so much again for your time. It's been really, really insightful, and I look forward to chatting to you soon. Take care. Thanks.
Matthew: Of course, Will. Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure. Have a good one.
Will: If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about transforming your marketing career through certified online training, head to digitalmarketinginstitute.com. Thanks for listening.