#36: Ian Howells

Episode Summary

We talk with Ian Howells, long-time SEO and one of the partners at Traffic Think Tank, which is one of the best private SEO communities in the world.

We discuss:

  • How he began building websites in high school as part of a class project
  • How his early experience led him to building affiliate websites and making money online at a very young age
  • We discuss his foray into marketing and optimization in the adult and online poker industries
  • How a federal law forced him to change his career arc, which eventually led on to various agency and in-house roles
  • The founding of Traffic Think Tank
  • What it’s like to run one of the most well-known and reputable private SEO communities
  • Coordinating the Traffic Think Tank Live conference
  • The news that Bing says 2020 will be the year where keyword research becomes obsolete (while Google says it isn’t)
  • The rise of DuckDuckGo
  • Deep dive into Affiliate Sites

And much more.

Episode Transcript


00:00:02.730 –> 00:00:15.299
Jacob Stoops: All right, everybody. Welcome to the Page 2 Podcast I am your host Jacob stoops and I am here with Mr. Jeff, Louella Jeff. How’s it going?

00:00:15.750 –> 00:00:17.340
Jeff Louella: Going well how’s everyone doing out there.

00:00:18.630 –> 00:00:19.650
Jacob Stoops: They can’t answer you, Jeff.

00:00:19.740 –> 00:00:21.480
Jeff Louella: Ah, I was trying this time.

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Jacob Stoops: No.

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Jeff Louella: Not respond on Twitter. How you doing,

00:00:25.290 –> 00:00:32.970
Jacob Stoops: Yes, please respond on Twitter and we are joined by Mr Ian Howells. Ian, how are you doing?

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Ian Howells: Good man, Jacob. Jeff, thanks for thanks for having me on. We

00:00:37.680 –> 00:00:38.640
Jeff Louella: Are very

00:00:38.910 –> 00:00:56.100
Jacob Stoops: Very excited and I don’t want to bury the lead. But if you don’t know, Ian. He is the one of the partners at Traffic Think Tank. And we’ve already had one of his counterparts on I think about 10 months ago, Nick Eubanks who also

00:00:57.210 –> 00:01:09.030
Jacob Stoops: Founded Traffic Think Tank. They’ve got a lot of really awesome stuff going on there, which I’m sure that we’ll get into and then he and I believe you. You’re also, you also have a day job at a soft landing tree.

00:01:09.420 –> 00:01:17.130
Ian Howells: So I did previously. Up until the end of August of 2019 I was leading the the SEO team at lending tree.

00:01:18.150 –> 00:01:23.820
Ian Howells: Yep. Now just affiliate stuff consulting and Traffic Think Tank are kind of the three legs of the stool and

00:01:23.850 –> 00:01:28.440
Jacob Stoops: I had that in my notes and I completely glossed over it. We do take notes here.

00:01:28.680 –> 00:01:29.160
Ian Howells: Before we

00:01:29.400 –> 00:01:33.120
Jacob Stoops: Find people and then I just get on and I just messed them mess them all up or

00:01:33.540 –> 00:01:34.800
Jacob Stoops: In one case I butchered

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Jacob Stoops: Somebody somebody’s name.

00:01:37.950 –> 00:01:45.960
Jacob Stoops: Almost immediately, I believe that was Jamie, I called her out Jericho. It’s Alba Rico and she definitely called me on that.

00:01:47.070 –> 00:01:49.590
Jacob Stoops: Yet Lee, which was a little embarrassing.

00:01:50.010 –> 00:01:54.300
Ian Howells: I mean, it’s better to call better to call a name mispronunciation out early. Right.

00:01:54.420 –> 00:01:57.060
Ian Howells: Rather than it happening over and over and over again.

00:01:57.360 –> 00:02:05.790
Jacob Stoops: The whole thing. It’s like that episode of Friends were Chandler gets called Toby at his workplace and he never corrects them and then you Toby from there on for like six years.

00:02:07.590 –> 00:02:19.350
Jacob Stoops: And he anyways. So in today’s episode. For those of you that have listened, you’ll kind of know what’s coming for any first time listeners. Let me just tell you kind of what we’re going to do.

00:02:20.100 –> 00:02:33.090
Jacob Stoops: The hallmark of this show is kind of the origin stories of great SEOs SEO is not a very old industry and in our experience, nobody tends to get into

00:02:33.390 –> 00:02:41.940
Jacob Stoops: Especially if you’ve been in it for a while, into SEO on purpose. A lot of people come from other places. And we’re interested in figuring out

00:02:42.240 –> 00:02:47.880
Jacob Stoops: What are those other places, and how, how did how did people get into SEO in the first place, and what are their

00:02:48.510 –> 00:02:52.290
Jacob Stoops: What are their backgrounds and even more importantly, we’d like to talk about

00:02:52.860 –> 00:03:00.960
Jacob Stoops: Successes failures, what it’s like to be an SEO day to day. It’s kind of it can be kind of a grind and we like to kind of get deep on

00:03:01.410 –> 00:03:09.840
Jacob Stoops: What people experience on a day to day basis. So that’s kind of part one. Part two. And this is something that we’ve added in Season two is we like to

00:03:10.620 –> 00:03:22.230
Jacob Stoops: We like to talk about what’s what’s in the news kind of current events in the SEO world, which usually ends up with me just yelling about various SEO topics and ranting and complaining, but that’s it. That’s okay.

00:03:23.250 –> 00:03:29.250
Jacob Stoops: Jeff kind of runs runs that section and he kind of balances ME OUT HE’S KIND OF THE even keeled person and I just go off.

00:03:29.250 –> 00:03:32.040

00:03:32.220 –> 00:03:40.140
Jacob Stoops: Well, Jeff, I want to, I want to hear just for one wants me being maybe the even keeled person and just being cool and you just

00:03:40.320 –> 00:03:43.200
Jacob Stoops: I want to know what you want to rant about at some point I want to see that.

00:03:43.290 –> 00:03:46.950
Jeff Louella: So all right, I will do some topics, the data Jeff will ramp.

00:03:47.940 –> 00:03:59.040
Jacob Stoops: And then the third, the third leg of the stool in our, in our episodes is typically a deep dive and today’s deep dive is going to be on affiliate sites.

00:03:59.670 –> 00:04:12.570
Jacob Stoops: Which we’re excited to talk about. So if you’re in the affiliate game or if you’re not in the affiliate game and you’re thinking about it. We’re going to deep dive into that topic at the towards the end of the episode so

00:04:14.070 –> 00:04:14.520
Jacob Stoops: Ian

00:04:15.870 –> 00:04:22.890
Jacob Stoops: Let’s jump into kind of the first phase, who are you, how did you get into SEO, what, what’s your story.

00:04:23.430 –> 00:04:35.400
Ian Howells: Cool. So, like you mentioned up top. Ian howls co founder and partner at trek think tank which the short version of that is a 700 plus now person community.

00:04:35.940 –> 00:04:48.120
Ian Howells: Community portion happens in Slack all of the educational kind of training material and resources are all within Traffic Think Tank calm. So think of like distilled you accept not five years out of date now.

00:04:49.980 –> 00:04:55.170
Ian Howells: Is the website portion and then the community. I think is really one of the the big strong

00:04:55.680 –> 00:05:03.450
Ian Howells: Assets for it because folks can ask questions get feedback on campaign ideas that they’re going to have more if you just get stuck on something that’s a good way to

00:05:04.110 –> 00:05:13.710
Ian Howells: Just kind of stop smashing your head against the wall, have a problem and get feedback from from other folks, kind of in real time. But in terms of

00:05:14.520 –> 00:05:21.870
Ian Howells: Getting started in the the industry. I built a website when I was in high school, my cousin and I actually started

00:05:22.470 –> 00:05:30.390
Ian Howells: What would be now called a blog, but then was not called a blog because at that point blogs were literally just

00:05:30.810 –> 00:05:40.680
Ian Howells: Like an online Diary of like what your day was about. So at that point we hated the word blog like rebelled against it completely because that sounded like

00:05:41.160 –> 00:05:50.400
Ian Howells: Stuff that like children, but would do. Right. And we were all a 15 at that point. So like we were obviously, way, way too cool for that.

00:05:50.940 –> 00:06:05.670
Ian Howells: So today would be called a blog started that in December of 99 when I was, I think, a freshman in high school. So, you know, like all cool kids in high school I was sitting around learning HTML.

00:06:06.420 –> 00:06:15.240
Ian Howells: So that was, that was fun, really good for your social life being the kid that you know is figuring out how to build websites but worked out long term so

00:06:16.050 –> 00:06:16.680
Ian Howells: That’s all right.

00:06:16.980 –> 00:06:22.440
Jeff Louella: I was the kid with the Commodore 64 so myself a little bit more, but we would trigger games on the bus.

00:06:23.100 –> 00:06:38.850
Ian Howells: So what’s funny is like I wish I went back that far. We didn’t have a computer in the house until 98 my parents got a gateway and they make splurged and went crazy and got like the six gig hard drive and the 64 Meg’s around like it was

00:06:39.180 –> 00:06:40.320
Ian Howells: It was a dream at that

00:06:42.270 –> 00:06:49.680
Ian Howells: But I built the site with my cousin as a hobby really because other guys in high school, so I took art.

00:06:50.100 –> 00:06:56.100
Ian Howells: In high school, and there were juniors and seniors in my class because like art was just an elective it wasn’t part of a track or whatever.

00:06:56.790 –> 00:07:07.680
Ian Howells: And these guys had built their own website and they were hilarious and it was basically like online short skit type things written out

00:07:08.460 –> 00:07:22.860
Ian Howells: And I wanted to be a part of it. But I was this like dumb freshman. So I was like, well, screw it like we can just make our own. So we built a website and just run it as a hobby for like two years and then I was in

00:07:24.630 –> 00:07:32.100
Ian Howells: Some webmaster forum. I can’t, I can’t remember which one it was. But one of the guys that were on there. This guy, Aaron.

00:07:33.360 –> 00:07:41.130
Ian Howells: He has since legally changed his name to sunshine Megatron he he built t shirt hell calm.

00:07:41.610 –> 00:07:48.870
Ian Howells: And T shirt hell had an affiliate program. And so he painted a bunch of people from the forum and was like, hey, do you want to join my affiliate program.

00:07:49.380 –> 00:07:59.550
Ian Howells: Was like, I have no idea what that is, but maybe so he gave me like the 92nd elevator pitch of what affiliate marketing was. It was basically like just make an account. I’ll give you a wink.

00:07:59.940 –> 00:08:15.270
Ian Howells: Put the link out to your website, if somebody clicks through that and buys a t shirt. I’ll give you five bucks for each shirt that they buy it was like, well, you can make money on the internet like i can i can make money for my website. Tell me more.

00:08:16.380 –> 00:08:16.560
Ian Howells: Well,

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Jacob Stoops: Not only could you make money, you basically had a person with the name of a transformer

00:08:22.710 –> 00:08:32.760
Ian Howells: Not yet. But he was still just Aaron at that point he is a crazy person. I don’t know if he’s like in a bunker somewhere if he is still accessible that you’d be

00:08:33.330 –> 00:08:45.240
Ian Howells: Talk to him but interesting life story, I’m sure. But this was in 2001 so like for two years just built a website as a hobby and

00:08:46.080 –> 00:08:55.770
Ian Howells: That was kind of it and then 2001 was introduced to this whole affiliate thing. And I was like, Okay, this will be great. So put some banners on the site.

00:08:56.160 –> 00:09:09.300
Ian Howells: First month sell like 30 T shirts and make 150 bucks. And I was like, Oh damn, this is amazing because at this point I’m 17 right so the option is either work every Saturday for the like.

00:09:09.630 –> 00:09:21.120
Ian Howells: $5 and 25 cents an hour. I think that minimum wage was at that point, or just screw around on the internet and make the same amount of money each month. I was like, this is beautiful.

00:09:21.660 –> 00:09:29.760
Ian Howells: And then the second month hats and we sell like three t shirts. And then the third month hits and we don’t sell any news like ah shit.

00:09:30.900 –> 00:09:49.080
Ian Howells: Okay, so turn. Turns out we have like the same hundred to 200 visitors to the website every single day. So by month three of promoting literally one thing everyone saw it already. So like if they were going to buy one of those T shirts, they already bought it and we were done.

00:09:50.790 –> 00:10:09.090
Ian Howells: So then it was like okay well I need a lot of traffic and I need a lot of new traffic. And if you ask any 17 year old guy on the internet. What gets a lot of traffic on the web is answers probably going to be the same. It was an adult websites will will say to use the

00:10:09.360 –> 00:10:10.410
Jacob Stoops: Horn, it’s for

00:10:10.440 –> 00:10:12.570
Ian Howells: Clean important. Yeah, yeah, it’s probably part

00:10:13.500 –> 00:10:13.980

00:10:15.930 –> 00:10:26.340
Ian Howells: So that it was like Okay, so here’s how dumb. I was, I had a shared hosting account that was running me like 20 or 30 bucks a month at that point because hosting this still pricey.

00:10:27.810 –> 00:10:38.700
Ian Howells: And I go to one adult site, they don’t even I think they still exist, but they’re not really a thing anymore. They were called T GPS thumbnail gallery posts.

00:10:39.060 –> 00:10:49.050
Ian Howells: Which was basically a big just text list and every day, there’d be like 50 or 100 new links and it’d be like an eight word description and you would click through.

00:10:49.560 –> 00:10:58.800
Ian Howells: And then all of the most of the listings were like third party external people sites and you would build a single page photo gallery with like

00:10:59.280 –> 00:11:07.530
Ian Howells: 10 to 15 thumbnails and then two or three calls to action to try and push people to a pay site to get them to sign up is that the short version of how it worked.

00:11:08.070 –> 00:11:16.620
Ian Howells: Here’s how idiotic. I was, I went to one tip there were two big ones that I knew about through, you know, recreational internet usage, let’s say,

00:11:17.730 –> 00:11:27.720
Ian Howells: I went to the first big one that I know about click through to one of the galleries downloaded all the photos built my own gallery and submitted it to the second

00:11:28.260 –> 00:11:38.310
Ian Howells: Big tip site that I knew about. And instead of pushing an adult site with adult content. I tried to sell them offensive T shirts from t shirt health so

00:11:39.030 –> 00:11:46.620
Ian Howells: Total copyright infringement, because I just stole, I had no right to use those images whatsoever just downloaded them and through them back up on a new page.

00:11:47.100 –> 00:11:58.860
Ian Howells: And then took people that were looking for pictures of naked women, and then said, hey, want to buy a t shirt. So that was about as well as you would expect.

00:11:59.040 –> 00:11:59.550
Ian Howells: To go

00:11:59.820 –> 00:12:01.140
Jacob Stoops: It’s a logical jump, I guess.

00:12:01.350 –> 00:12:12.630
Ian Howells: Right. Because, because I didn’t even like it had not even occurred to me yet that like affiliate programs existed for other things I just knew about this one. So when you only have a hammer.

00:12:13.050 –> 00:12:21.030
Ian Howells: Everything looks like a nail. So I was like, well, okay, I’ll just get a bunch of traffic to look at this banner and surely someone will buy a t shirt.

00:12:21.960 –> 00:12:32.430
Ian Howells: Turns out, no and turns out a small shared hosting account cannot withstand like 70,000 visits in a 24 hour period, at least at that point.

00:12:32.910 –> 00:12:42.900
Ian Howells: So my hosting crashes, the host wasn’t a huge host. So I have the actual guy who owns the company emailing me basically saying like, what the hell are you doing

00:12:44.490 –> 00:12:54.030
Ian Howells: So that was great. A nice bandwidth overcharged that I’ve been had to come up with. But that was my first kind of exposure to

00:12:54.720 –> 00:13:08.430
Ian Howells: Holy crap. There’s way more traffic than, like, I realized, one could get to there were like 70,000 people in a day before the hosting crash. So like it could have been over 100 for all I know.

00:13:09.030 –> 00:13:25.620
Ian Howells: And then, you know, kind of the head smacking like maybe I should try and sell somebody. The thing that they are very clearly looking for not trying to divert them to another. So it was a good lesson, even though it was like a $200 bandwidth bill that I had to

00:13:26.550 –> 00:13:27.120
Jeff Louella: Pay for

00:13:27.330 –> 00:13:30.450
Ian Howells: Which one, you’re 17 is not, you know, super, super fun.

00:13:31.140 –> 00:13:41.340
Jacob Stoops: I think the question that I wanted. So how long did you stay in the in the porn game in terms of, like, working, working on the those types of sites.

00:13:41.610 –> 00:13:50.700
Ian Howells: Until I met my now wife in 2005 okay so that’s so almost four years, four years, yep.

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Jacob Stoops: So you’re 17 at the time and you

00:13:53.430 –> 00:13:53.910

00:13:56.160 –> 00:13:56.310
Jacob Stoops: The

00:13:56.430 –> 00:13:59.610
Jacob Stoops: The only thing I can imagine is a lot of giggling

00:14:01.200 –> 00:14:01.920
Jacob Stoops: And not only that,

00:14:02.370 –> 00:14:04.620
Ian Howells: The novelty wears off pretty quick.

00:14:04.800 –> 00:14:06.660
Jacob Stoops: Well, that’s what I was gonna ask one. What’s it

00:14:06.810 –> 00:14:11.880
Jacob Stoops: What is it like having never like done work for a porn site. I know that there are

00:14:11.880 –> 00:14:19.470
Jacob Stoops: People that do that. And then, especially being that young, how the hell did you explain that to your parents or did you

00:14:20.460 –> 00:14:30.180
Ian Howells: So they knew I was running websites because at the time. I still had to literally like use my mom’s credit card to buy domains.

00:14:30.180 –> 00:14:32.280
Ian Howells: Because I’m 70 like I didn’t

00:14:32.490 –> 00:14:39.750
Ian Howells: So I would literally give her cash and then she would punch her credit card number into I.

00:14:41.700 –> 00:14:45.660
Ian Howells: I can’t remember in my domain GoDaddy. I can’t remember the first place I bought a domain.

00:14:47.520 –> 00:14:54.630
Ian Howells: But they were like $30 a year at the time, like when I first bought a domain, like now it’s a joke it like there’s

00:14:55.200 –> 00:15:00.480
Ian Howells: Some deal. These are like a buck 99 or 99 cents. It’s not ones you want, but still

00:15:00.900 –> 00:15:08.130
Ian Howells: Like at that point 30 bucks a year for your domain plus 20 or 30 bucks a month for hosting like kind of bar was was a lot higher.

00:15:08.490 –> 00:15:20.850
Ian Howells: And so they knew that like this was a thing. And mostly about the hobby site that was that I was running with my cousin until check started showing up at the house and then it was like, what, what the hell is this

00:15:22.950 –> 00:15:29.670
Ian Howells: Yeah, about that. So I think they were thankfully they were super cool about it. They were

00:15:30.420 –> 00:15:39.360
Ian Howells: I guess a good point of context here when I was 17 my parents were 35 and 36 they were 18 and 19 when they had me

00:15:40.140 –> 00:15:52.140
Ian Howells: So they were my age now basically so me having a 17 year old kid. So they still remembered I guess the point is they still remembered kind of being a 17 or 18 year old because

00:15:52.470 –> 00:16:00.990
Ian Howells: They were like 15 months away from accidentally getting pregnant with yours truly. So of all the things that I could be getting into, I think, was their

00:16:02.010 –> 00:16:17.700
Ian Howells: Perspective. This was like that that big of a deal like okay if you turn a 17 year old kid loose with a cable internet connection. He’s probably going to look at porn. Anyway, like screw and if he’s going to make money off of it like it’s not illegal, like what the hell.

00:16:18.810 –> 00:16:19.050

00:16:21.720 –> 00:16:22.860
Jacob Stoops: So where did you go from there.

00:16:24.000 –> 00:16:35.730
Ian Howells: So did the adult thing for a while. A big regret is that I did not push harder on that front. Right. Because once I got to the point where I was making a few hundred dollars a month.

00:16:36.450 –> 00:16:45.600
Ian Howells: I then just got super lazy like being a kid still at that point, like I didn’t have a concept of hey, if you work really hard.

00:16:46.110 –> 00:16:54.960
Ian Howells: And do a lot of effort into this like this can become like a big, full time income level type situation.

00:16:55.800 –> 00:17:03.960
Ian Howells: Like I just had no awareness of the fact that that was even possible, right. I’m like 18 months removed from. Oh my god, you can make money on the internet.

00:17:04.290 –> 00:17:08.880
Ian Howells: So the fact that, like this could be the way somebody supports themselves full time.

00:17:09.630 –> 00:17:16.950
Ian Howells: Just didn’t even seem like a plausible thing. So I would work to the point where I was making like six or 800 bucks a month.

00:17:17.490 –> 00:17:25.890
Ian Howells: And then we’re just kind of let it coast and then if like if money started falling off, I’d build a couple more pages or free sites at that time they were called

00:17:26.640 –> 00:17:34.140
Ian Howells: And get it back to the point where it was up in that six $800 range again and then like repeat just over and over and over again because

00:17:34.800 –> 00:17:40.770
Ian Howells: You know, as long as I was buying video games. And then in college like beer money like

00:17:41.400 –> 00:17:55.170
Ian Howells: It didn’t, you know, it didn’t seem like a pressing thing to you know forgo going out for the night to sit at home and you know Peck away and dream Weaver and make new new pages look. What is the quote night in

00:17:55.230 –> 00:18:10.200
Jacob Stoops: The movie The Social Network. I feel like it’s Justin Timberlake character that that says something to the effect of, you know, what’s cool you think or something like you think a million dollars is cool. Let me tell you what’s really cool a billion dollars.

00:18:11.580 –> 00:18:12.870
Jacob Stoops: If you needed that mindset.

00:18:13.020 –> 00:18:13.920
Jeff Louella: Yeah, I

00:18:14.040 –> 00:18:17.610
Ian Howells: Did not did not have that, I guess, unfortunately, so

00:18:18.960 –> 00:18:31.170
Ian Howells: I kind of plugged away on that for you know, while until 2005 when I met my wife ended up selling the the few sites that I had that were worth selling at that point.

00:18:31.740 –> 00:18:40.500
Ian Howells: The ones that had kind of their own traffic and wasn’t just the hamster wheel of like submit a page get listed get traffic. Three days later, it’s gone. And you just kind of repeat

00:18:41.490 –> 00:18:51.750
Ian Howells: And moved from the adult industry into online poker. So, you know, again, just sticking with like vice marketing, I guess, and going with stuff that

00:18:53.910 –> 00:19:01.200
Ian Howells: I knew from my own internet usage, let’s say, and stuff that had attractive payouts right because the

00:19:01.680 –> 00:19:13.170
Ian Howells: The attractive thing about the adult industry was a a sign up, it’d be worth anywhere from 30 to $50 one time CPA and there was just

00:19:14.070 –> 00:19:30.060
Ian Howells: an absurd abundance of traffic to be had. Right. So, like, getting to the point where you’re doing like I said that six $800 a month level was not hard, like I did not know anything, and was doing that as like a 17 1819 year old kid.

00:19:31.080 –> 00:19:50.220
Ian Howells: So went from that to online poker only really pushed an online poker for like a year because in I think it was October of 2006 the safe port act passes and online gambling in the US, almost disappears overnight.

00:19:50.220 –> 00:19:53.490
Ian Howells: Because all the major credit card processors lose the ability to

00:19:53.820 –> 00:20:07.590
Ian Howells: Run charges for these gambling sites. So I had a good year primarily promoting poker room calm the big draw. There was, it was now $100 like if you got a real money.

00:20:08.280 –> 00:20:19.560
Ian Howells: Verified deposit player you get 100 bucks so started out really simple and kind of scam me were like the weekly poker game that me and my friends did on Tuesday.

00:20:19.890 –> 00:20:25.590
Ian Howells: I just got the other nine guys to sign up through my affiliate link and then it was like, okay, sign up

00:20:26.040 –> 00:20:37.110
Ian Howells: And then get on aim and let me know your name in poker room, and then we’ll start a heads up match and I will just intentionally lose $50 to you.

00:20:37.410 –> 00:20:45.840
Ian Howells: And we’ll call it. Even so, like you sign up for me. I got 100 bucks. I’ll purposely dump 50 bucks to you in game because we can just talk on AIM about like

00:20:46.260 –> 00:20:58.350
Ian Howells: What cards we have and figure out how to how to make this work. So like a a in incentivize traffic, I guess, through real life and then just started building out

00:20:59.250 –> 00:21:16.650
Ian Howells: Fairly simple sites through recounting what I actually did was just word count games that I would actually play online and made like a online poker blog basically just talking about playing online and then having poker room calm ads all the hell over the place.

00:21:17.910 –> 00:21:27.150
Ian Howells: But only got to do that for like a year, which is unfortunate because hundred dollar payouts were really good and in like 2005 2004 or five, six, like right after

00:21:27.780 –> 00:21:36.480
Ian Howells: Chris moneymaker basically made online poker exploded in popularity, there was kind of lots of traffic and referrals to go around.

00:21:37.680 –> 00:21:47.460
Ian Howells: But then it all disappears overnight because of a bill that the Senate passes so I’m near the tail end of college. At this point, I was on the five year plan.

00:21:48.090 –> 00:22:00.540
Ian Howells: I majored in graphic design and I figured like, hey, I can just like I’m already building websites for myself, like maybe I can just get a job building websites for other people. So that’s how I ended up picking graphic design as my

00:22:01.230 –> 00:22:08.610
Ian Howells: As my major. Again, it did not occur to me that, like, oh, I could just work for myself or I can just build sites that that earn money.

00:22:10.110 –> 00:22:18.930
Ian Howells: And so I’m in what was supposed to be my last year of college turned out to be year year four of five.

00:22:19.980 –> 00:22:31.170
Ian Howells: And it just, you know, the bottom falls out, like the all the sites I have are now completely worthless. Nobody will want to buy them because they can’t monetize the traffic either

00:22:31.800 –> 00:22:37.110
Ian Howells: So that kind of reinforced for me that, like, yeah, maybe this whole

00:22:37.830 –> 00:22:44.130
Ian Howells: You know, trying to make money on the internet thing, definitely. It’s not a thing that you should do as your attempt at full time income because

00:22:44.370 –> 00:22:51.300
Ian Howells: Stuff like this could happen where one day you just wake up and because of something that has nothing to do with you all your money is just gone.

00:22:53.340 –> 00:22:59.490
Ian Howells: So the following year in 2007 I am getting ready to

00:23:00.510 –> 00:23:07.950
Ian Howells: Coming into college and as a graphic design, Major, you have to do a senior show with like your art portfolio. Right, so I need a printer.

00:23:09.000 –> 00:23:26.010
Ian Howells: Locally to print all my stuff. And so I pull out the Yellow Book, like the physical Yellow Book. I don’t know if you’re our younger listeners here. Oh remember what the hell it was but there used to be these books that were like 300 pages and had phone numbers for everybody.

00:23:26.100 –> 00:23:26.550
Oh, yeah.

00:23:27.630 –> 00:23:41.220
Ian Howells: So I’m flipping through the Yellow Pages looking for a printer and I come across a listing for pepper jam Internet marketing in Wilkes barre Pennsylvania and I’m 20 minutes north of Wilkes barre in Scranton PA at this point.

00:23:43.290 –> 00:23:59.430
Ian Howells: And I was like, What the hell, there’s an internet marketing company in Wilkes Barre, so then that leads me to their website, it was hilarious. The bad. It’s a super like 19th looking website if you go through the Internet Archive and look at what pepper jam calm, but I think it was

00:23:59.460 –> 00:24:00.360
Ian Howells: Pepper jam search

00:24:00.420 –> 00:24:04.440
Ian Howells: Com. At that point, looks like in like 2007 but

00:24:06.150 –> 00:24:11.910
Ian Howells: I ended up emailing the VP of search can moan with just like, hey,

00:24:12.600 –> 00:24:32.100
Ian Howells: I mean, how’s here’s some stuff that I’ve done, and just talk about like selling subscriptions to porn sites and poker online, not even thinking for a minute that like, hey, maybe this is kind of weird and like that and not the way to get a response from like an actual company doing

00:24:32.160 –> 00:24:33.030
Ian Howells: Internet marketing.

00:24:33.960 –> 00:24:39.360
Ian Howells: Turns out, though it was a great idea because they later told me like that was the reason that he answered the cold.

00:24:39.630 –> 00:24:46.140
Ian Howells: Email was like, Oh, somebody has built affiliate websites before and like gotten traffic through search and monetized it

00:24:46.560 –> 00:24:54.930
Ian Howells: And so had I not mentioned it, and was just like, oh, I’m a local college student at Mary, would I was wondering if there were internships or whatever he probably would have completely ignored me

00:24:55.920 –> 00:25:07.740
Ian Howells: But that got me a phone interview in person interview then internship my last semester of college and then college graduation was a Sunday that Monday I started at pepper jam full time.

00:25:08.970 –> 00:25:17.730
Ian Howells: Six months later I was running the SEO team at pepper jam in fairness, it didn’t even really exist when I got there was basically can the BP in one writer.

00:25:17.940 –> 00:25:26.490
Ian Howells: So he looked at it, it’s like, Okay, great. Here’s somebody that knows SEO like let me just dump this chunk of work off on him and he can run with it.

00:25:27.600 –> 00:25:38.580
Ian Howells: Short version three years later pepper jam cells to gtsi commerce down in Philadelphia. That’s where I meet Mr. The Willa. And my boss for like the nine minutes that he stuck around

00:25:40.140 –> 00:25:44.250
Jeff Louella: And though that was interesting times. I mean, Pepper jam. When we we bought

00:25:45.510 –> 00:25:57.480
Jeff Louella: We bought pepper jam for its affiliate network. Yep. And then it was interesting. And then like learning when we peel back some of the skins on the onion, see what’s behind there there was some fun things we found, but

00:25:57.540 –> 00:25:58.920
Ian Howells: Oh, it was garbage.

00:26:00.210 –> 00:26:03.030
Jeff Louella: Yeah, I think they had, like, once they got in there like crap.

00:26:03.240 –> 00:26:13.710
Jeff Louella: We bought, but it’s still around today and it seems like it’s it’s gotten better. But I remember just getting I come into the office and my boss at the time was just like

00:26:14.370 –> 00:26:22.800
Jeff Louella: Hey, we bought a company and they have an SEO team just drive up there and meet them and see see who you want to you know who you like up there and things like that so

00:26:23.550 –> 00:26:30.540
Jeff Louella: Me and Bill Sebald drove up there. I don’t know if you remember that day, but it was kind of it was fun. I think it was meet you, Eric and Todd.

00:26:32.310 –> 00:26:42.390
Jeff Louella: I think that was really the three they might have been someone else or two, but no, it was, it was interesting time and right there. Like, I think we all got kind of got along really well and

00:26:44.100 –> 00:26:51.720
Jeff Louella: And after that, you kind of taught me some things about affiliates and I think we use some or at least I used I’ll say some auto blogging tools that

00:26:52.440 –> 00:26:55.890
Jeff Louella: Got me a little bit of money that I learned I was because I always want to learn to kind of the

00:26:56.640 –> 00:27:10.890
Jeff Louella: The darker side of SEO. And at that time I was I was still somewhat newer I was a developer who moved into SEO when I was at Razorfish, and then right my second job was at GSA and you will learn that a deal size network. He couldn’t do much on

00:27:11.970 –> 00:27:16.920
Jeff Louella: The and every time I would go to a client. So you have to fix this, this and this and they’re like, well, we can’t because our platform is bad.

00:27:18.150 –> 00:27:19.920
Ian Howells: And by the way, our platforms you

00:27:20.460 –> 00:27:21.090
Jeff Louella: Yeah, exactly.

00:27:22.830 –> 00:27:23.730
Ian Howells: slightly awkward.

00:27:25.290 –> 00:27:31.500
Jeff Louella: So that that was always an issue there. But we, but yeah. When I got to meet you at that point it was, it was awesome. And then

00:27:32.010 –> 00:27:38.880
Jeff Louella: I just, you know, was hitting my head against the wall bunch of times there and you had some falling outs between me and some of the

00:27:39.540 –> 00:27:46.110
Jeff Louella: I’ll say I was in a weird position because I wasn’t leadership, but I reported all to the like the major leadership there.

00:27:46.770 –> 00:28:00.510
Jeff Louella: But then with the people in my life I was the only one who wasn’t like a VP or director level with all in all, the VP meetings. And then when I would go back to everyone who was like the same level as me. They wouldn’t want to talk to me because I thought I was a snitch.

00:28:02.760 –> 00:28:04.290
Ian Howells: The plant the leadership.

00:28:05.310 –> 00:28:05.610
Jeff Louella: It.

00:28:06.120 –> 00:28:14.430
Jeff Louella: Was I was caught out that one time in a meeting. They said, like when I was in there like they thought I was the leadership, like a snitch on the leadership. And I’m like, I’m the opposite of that. Like, I’ll tell you everything they’re doing

00:28:15.780 –> 00:28:16.320
Jeff Louella: It but uh

00:28:16.440 –> 00:28:17.040

00:28:18.180 –> 00:28:21.780
Ian Howells: Guys, don’t get me wrong, I’m a terrible employee. I’m not helping them.

00:28:23.850 –> 00:28:31.590
Jeff Louella: And those meetings were just all insane anyway. But, so I would go through things and eventually I just told Bill as I go. I had to leave.

00:28:31.980 –> 00:28:38.310
Jeff Louella: And at that point, they decided that they were going to make be part of the leadership and like, Well, no, that’s not like I’m already made my decision.

00:28:38.970 –> 00:28:46.080
Jeff Louella: But the fun part was I had to the person who was in charge of the platform come to me because I always complained him about how bad the platform was

00:28:46.500 –> 00:28:54.330
Jeff Louella: So like they were coming out with like platform 11 or something and he they tried to get me to stay and become part of the platform team to make the platform or SEO friendly.

00:28:55.170 –> 00:29:06.750
Jeff Louella: Because that was always my plan was like you make the platform better every client, we have on it is better. Why are we trying to sell our clients SEO when we can fix our platform. And we got a percentage of all sales. We could have made it better.

00:29:07.890 –> 00:29:21.120
Jeff Louella: Than I heard like that platform didn’t really do very well and then eBay bought everybody and then it became like, then it was like an interesting I saw how they merge everything packaged it like fanatics com came out from that and then

00:29:21.450 –> 00:29:37.440
Ian Howells: Man, Michael Rubin is like, just like God damn. I don’t know how the hell he talked a bay and the letting him keep fanatics and the official league stores out of that deal and still walked away with two two or two 4 billion.

00:29:38.640 –> 00:29:39.120
Ian Howells: Amazing.

00:29:39.960 –> 00:29:42.120
Jeff Louella: And I see, I’m a big Sixers fan.

00:29:42.630 –> 00:29:47.910
Jeff Louella: And I see him sitting on the sidelines and next to like Allen Iverson and Meek Mill’s and I’m just like,

00:29:48.240 –> 00:29:54.120
Jeff Louella: Not bad. Not a bad job because, I mean, I’ve got, I had a couple meetings with him, where I got the pitch and he was

00:29:54.690 –> 00:30:01.140
Jeff Louella: He’s a smart dude. He was very energetic, you know, and I was great. But it was interesting time where it’s like, once he sold them like

00:30:01.650 –> 00:30:09.570
Jeff Louella: Hey, you started some sneakers out of the back of his mom’s car is kind of like a Amazon story in a way, you know, not as big, right. He’s not millionaire, but at the same time.

00:30:09.930 –> 00:30:11.160
Ian Howells: Thanks. All right, I think.

00:30:12.450 –> 00:30:13.500
Jeff Louella: For billions. Not too bad.

00:30:13.800 –> 00:30:18.000
Jeff Louella: You know and and become a minority owner of the Sixers and running.

00:30:18.240 –> 00:30:19.440
Ian Howells: fanatics and still

00:30:19.530 –> 00:30:24.450
Ian Howells: crushing it just that even if he had nothing else in the past. Just that alone like he’s

00:30:24.840 –> 00:30:28.830
Jeff Louella: Good at anything by rue La La are also some of those others flash sale site.

00:30:28.860 –> 00:30:30.600
Ian Howells: Yeah, real law was rolled in.

00:30:31.770 –> 00:30:42.600
Ian Howells: Mostly for the the email. We bought we being gtsi while I was there CLEAR SAILING so order attribution company out of Ohio. I think in like

00:30:42.630 –> 00:30:42.870
Jeff Louella: I was

00:30:42.990 –> 00:30:44.280
Ian Howells: Out in a lemon

00:30:44.520 –> 00:30:46.440
Jeff Louella: I was the person to introduce them all.

00:30:46.560 –> 00:30:53.790
Jeff Louella: Because I was a I was friends with some people over CLEAR SAILING and they asked me to introduce them to the analytics team.

00:30:55.020 –> 00:30:56.310
Jeff Louella: I was hoping I got a kick, but

00:30:57.360 –> 00:31:00.000
Jeff Louella: I left before that even like fully materialized but

00:31:01.020 –> 00:31:08.640
Ian Howells: But no, that was I guess just to complete kind of the, the career arc overview here gtsi

00:31:09.540 –> 00:31:23.700
Ian Howells: Jeff left very shortly after I got there, Bill Sebald was running the team. Start of 2011 bill Sebald decides he’s had enough. And he gets out of there. So then the hot potato goes to me run the SEO team inside there.

00:31:24.030 –> 00:31:34.830
Ian Howells: Jeff and I were talking before we started recording here. It had like 19 names because they kept hired new creative directors and day one every creative director wanted to rebrand the agency.

00:31:35.640 –> 00:31:47.160
Ian Howells: Eventually eBay buys the thing I lose interest pretty rapidly after we become part of eBay, like HR turned into, literally, here’s a phone number for a call center in Utah.

00:31:48.810 –> 00:31:57.900
Ian Howells: Call them if you need anything, right, like when you have that many employees, like, yeah, you’re not going to have big HR teams in each office, it would be crazy. So it makes sense, but

00:31:58.560 –> 00:32:06.570
Ian Howells: Wasn’t wasn’t for me and to 2012 end up going moving down to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I still am to work at Red ventures.

00:32:07.380 –> 00:32:21.570
Ian Howells: Ran, one of the the SEO teams in there until 2016 left RV in 2016 to head up the SEO team at lending tree and did that from 16 until

00:32:22.140 –> 00:32:33.720
Ian Howells: August of 2019 like I like I mentioned briefly before and now in the meantime affiliate stuff consulting launch Traffic Think Tank two years in a couple months ago now.

00:32:34.410 –> 00:32:39.270
Ian Howells: So always had kind of stuff going on outside of the main full time job. But that’s kind of the

00:32:39.870 –> 00:32:48.510
Ian Howells: The rough shape of the full time work with small agency with pepper jam get bought by a bigger agency in the form of gtsi eBay nine other different names.

00:32:49.470 –> 00:32:55.860
Ian Howells: In house to red ventures, which was a really interesting blend of in house and agency, because at that point.

00:32:56.400 –> 00:33:06.540
Ian Howells: RV didn’t really own their own website properties. It was licensed like it would be branded domains for DirecTV or ADT

00:33:07.470 –> 00:33:16.020
Ian Howells: So it was in partnership with large companies. So we were kind of an affiliate, but kind of in house because all the dev and tech and everything happened internally.

00:33:16.560 –> 00:33:36.660
Ian Howells: And then in house at back to a public company in house a lending tree and kind of getting reacquainted with the pros and cons of being at a large public co with, you know, the pros being most things comp related and the cons being the general speed at which things can get done.

00:33:37.650 –> 00:33:38.310
lack thereof.

00:33:40.380 –> 00:33:52.800
Jacob Stoops: So let’s talk about Traffic Think Tank, you guys are two plus years into that. Now, what led to that. Like what’s behind the idea. What’s it like today in terms of running that

00:33:53.400 –> 00:34:05.370
Ian Howells: Yeah, I think what led to it really Eubanks So Nick, did traffic thing tag. The one I guess you would call it on his own. So it was

00:34:06.450 –> 00:34:18.330
Ian Howells: Similar and very different at the same time. So he limited to I think 12 people but higher price point. It was 500 bucks a month.

00:34:18.780 –> 00:34:24.090
Ian Howells: But you had to sign up for the year. So basically he got 12 people to sign on for six grand

00:34:24.630 –> 00:34:34.020
Ian Howells: And then it was a Facebook group at that point. So like a 13 person Facebook group. So these 12 people and Nick. So, a lot more

00:34:34.380 –> 00:34:41.850
Ian Howells: Kind of deeper one on one individual consultation, because there’s only 12 people right like that’s a decently manageable.

00:34:42.540 –> 00:34:54.420
Ian Howells: Number to kind of go more in depth with with every single person. And part of what he did was each month he would do one like guest webinar on zoom right basically just

00:34:54.930 –> 00:35:02.490
Ian Howells: People, he knew from the industry through his own network would just ask, like, Hey, would you, would you be cool with coming on and doing a webinar for these folks.

00:35:03.390 –> 00:35:11.850
Ian Howells: He bought me some really good mine in exchange for doing it, which I didn’t know what was gonna happen when I said yes but like was a very nice Park afterward.

00:35:12.330 –> 00:35:23.100
Ian Howells: So I had done a webinar for him. And then he was starting to kind of come to the end of the 12 months, I think it was in like month nine or something.

00:35:23.700 –> 00:35:26.310
Ian Howells: And I had just made like a very offhandedly like

00:35:26.940 –> 00:35:39.510
Ian Howells: Hey, if you’re going to do TGT again like let me know if you know there’s a way for me to get involved or whatever, like something benign and kind of off the cuff. I had no Nick at that point.

00:35:40.050 –> 00:35:50.940
Ian Howells: Nick and I met into late 2010 or early 2011 through the Philadelphia SEO meetup SEO grill, which was phenomenal and like

00:35:51.600 –> 00:36:03.270
Ian Howells: Just an absurd roster of people. So we can go into that in a minute to so I didn’t know Nick for several years at this point. So just kind of threw that offer out there like, hey, if you’re looking to do more with this thing. Let me know.

00:36:04.500 –> 00:36:12.120
Ian Howells: And he had gotten back and was like, actually. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Like, I think the model makes sense.

00:36:13.290 –> 00:36:23.160
Ian Howells: If it scales up like I think we could scale up membership and bring down the price. So it’s not like you got to sign up for six grand for a year, right off the bat.

00:36:24.000 –> 00:36:32.490
Ian Howells: And kind of reach more people because at that point, you know, and I’m talking about like a history. It’s two years and four months ago, or whenever

00:36:34.650 –> 00:36:44.220
Ian Howells: You think about SEO book in that community kind of getting shuttered because Aaron had decided that he was going to kind of step back from doing that.

00:36:44.580 –> 00:37:03.150
Ian Howells: So that left kind of a void where. Okay, there was a paid SEO forum that ran. I think it was 99 bucks a month. So like not a in substantial price point, like a good gate to make sure that everybody in there was serious, so that it kind of left a void, and then

00:37:04.380 –> 00:37:07.020
Ian Howells: The mas community at that point was in a

00:37:07.860 –> 00:37:18.000
Ian Howells: Let’s call it a bit of turmoil. Right. Eventually, like they end up having to do layoffs and all that stuff that’s part of mothers history now that we don’t have to go into. But there was generally a

00:37:18.390 –> 00:37:30.720
Ian Howells: A lack of I think outside of Twitter but Twitter is very noisy and chaotic. There wasn’t a great like single point of community at least that I was aware of

00:37:31.770 –> 00:37:33.570
Ian Howells: So that felt like

00:37:34.620 –> 00:37:39.330
Ian Howells: To nick that felt like a big opportunity and I was less certain.

00:37:39.870 –> 00:37:51.480
Ian Howells: Matthew Howells-Barby, same kind of general opinion he did a big LinkedIn post about kind of the, the formation of traffic think tank where he says, much the same thing that like he wasn’t as confident as Nick was

00:37:51.960 –> 00:38:07.440
Ian Howells: You had Nick on already. I think one of the things that became probably very clear within the first few minutes of talking to him is that super high energy will make decisions quickly and then once he decides he’s going to do a thing like he’s he’s going to do the damn thing.

00:38:08.580 –> 00:38:19.710
Ian Howells: So he was kind of more bullish on it. I was like, maybe we’ll get 100 members like we can probably get 100 people that are serious enough that they’ll pay 99 bucks a month to join the thing

00:38:20.820 –> 00:38:31.440
Ian Howells: And I guess short story long. It went over a lot better than I initially thought. And it wasn’t until like month three where it was like oh shit like this could be

00:38:31.980 –> 00:38:41.640
Ian Howells: Like this could be a real thing. Like there is more appetite for this than I thought. I think what I discounted incorrectly. In the beginning was the

00:38:42.270 –> 00:38:52.740
Ian Howells: Amount of people that are individual affiliates and are just kind of like sitting in a home office by themselves all day grinding away doing their thing.

00:38:53.280 –> 00:39:06.540
Ian Howells: And people that are like the one online marketing person at their company right like digital is this one person and nobody else in the company knows what the hell they do.

00:39:06.930 –> 00:39:23.730
Ian Howells: They don’t have anybody to bounce ideas off of because again, nobody knows what the hell they’re doing all day and I think I just had a general lack of awareness of how many people find themselves in that situation. And I feel like that’s a need that we ended up filling

00:39:25.800 –> 00:39:27.750
Ian Howells: Hopefully, very well. So

00:39:28.050 –> 00:39:37.920
Jacob Stoops: One thing that occurred to me especially when you mentioned initially. Now, obviously, it’s much lower. Now it’s that initial $6,000 price point.

00:39:38.370 –> 00:39:53.340
Jacob Stoops: And I guess for for me thinking about like fine running that probably Nick being a more confident person than I would be like, Nope, I got this. Is that a lot of money to ask for people and it’s like

00:39:54.660 –> 00:40:04.890
Jacob Stoops: How do you bring enough value to justify somebody paying you that much money with with what you guys are doing that would feel like a lot of pressure.

00:40:05.640 –> 00:40:12.930
Jacob Stoops: Pressure to me. And I just wonder, how do you guys kind of manage that on ongoing in terms of making sure that the value is is there for the for the members.

00:40:13.350 –> 00:40:22.500
Ian Howells: So in the the first iteration. And again, this was 100% next on semi speculating here, but I’m fairly confident, how he basically positioned. It was like

00:40:23.190 –> 00:40:32.220
Ian Howells: Almost like your pre buying consulting time with him right so like it was the original 12 members if I’m remembering correctly. We’re all

00:40:32.940 –> 00:40:46.470
Ian Howells: people that own their own econ business or Legion business right like it wasn’t affiliates. It wasn’t the one full time marketing person at a company. It was the owner of a very small digital company.

00:40:46.950 –> 00:40:55.140
Ian Howells: That basically viewed this as I am purchasing $6,000 worth of strategy consulting from this person who knows what they’re doing.

00:40:55.500 –> 00:41:10.170
Ian Howells: I have a junior person or I can do like I have execution figured out what I need is guidance to make sure that I’m not shooting myself in the foot and that I’m doing smart things, I think, was basically the the rough

00:41:11.040 –> 00:41:20.910
Ian Howells: Outline of positioning there, which in that light, it makes sense, right, because if you think about an hourly SEO consulting right 500 bucks a month is a joke right so

00:41:21.330 –> 00:41:35.160
Ian Howells: I think with that angle it made sense. And then for him. I think attractive 12 people same 12 people, you get to go pretty deep with everybody. So you can kind of have more meaningful connections and results.

00:41:35.910 –> 00:41:44.430
Ian Howells: But now for us. I think the the responsibility part is interesting, I think, as the community has gotten bigger

00:41:44.940 –> 00:41:51.090
Ian Howells: We’ve gotten less and less reliant on me, Nick and Matt right because like first 50 members like

00:41:51.600 –> 00:41:58.980
Ian Howells: Munich and Matt one of us had to answer every single question that came in and slack. And I think as the community has grown

00:41:59.670 –> 00:42:08.340
Ian Howells: It’s now gotten to a point where, by the time I see a question come in, there’ll be three or four answers in a thread already from other people who

00:42:09.090 –> 00:42:16.770
Ian Howells: All know you know what they’re what they’re talking about every once in a while they’ll be like an idea for another whatever that will come in and be like, and maybe

00:42:17.880 –> 00:42:23.880
Ian Howells: Maybe don’t do that exactly but like Core Kernel of the idea is good. Like I would do XYZ

00:42:24.480 –> 00:42:33.150
Ian Howells: And so I think the the kind of self reinforcing aspect of the Community has been super exciting to watch kind of take take shape and continue to grow.

00:42:33.870 –> 00:42:41.850
Ian Howells: But it is. I think it is a responsibility on us to make sure that we continue to produce you know stuff that’s

00:42:42.270 –> 00:42:51.840
Ian Howells: Timely and useful in a variety of situations. I think that’s probably the hard part is trying to make sure that you’re creating guidance and resources that is

00:42:52.800 –> 00:42:57.000
Ian Howells: That are applicable to people in a variety of roles, because we have

00:42:57.720 –> 00:43:09.480
Ian Howells: Members in I think 21 of the 24 time zones working on every industry, you could imagine, right. So you have to try and make sure that you’re really hitting the, the core

00:43:10.050 –> 00:43:18.360
Ian Howells: Of a concept or idea and make sure that it’s actually useful for the community at large. And then the other piece is just ensuring that we continue to tap

00:43:19.950 –> 00:43:26.220
Ian Howells: Other experts in the community come on and talk about the stuff that they’re good at, right. So like having Hamlet. Come on.

00:43:26.700 –> 00:43:31.740
Ian Howells: And do a Python webinar was like extremely useful for a bunch of folks so we try and make sure that

00:43:32.160 –> 00:43:49.290
Ian Howells: You know we we keep our finger on the pulse of what what sort of stuff does the community want and then go out and see, okay, if that’s not like I can’t write Python to save my goddamn life. So when it’s something that like we can’t do go find somebody who can and bring him on so

00:43:49.440 –> 00:43:58.290
Jacob Stoops: Last question I want to ask in it’s not as much of a question is more of like, what’s it like in before we move on to the news.

00:43:59.160 –> 00:44:09.330
Jacob Stoops: You guys are. I think it’s your second event Traffic Think Tank live, which by the way it is. On May 16, it is not in Philadelphia. It’s in Miami.

00:44:10.050 –> 00:44:28.290
Jacob Stoops: For and I’m going to give you a quick promo for non members. It’s $349 for members traffic thing take members. It’s $149 for a ticket. So go bye bye bye attend attend attend, but I want to know. And I asked, Nick, the same question. What’s it like to put on an event.

00:44:28.650 –> 00:44:38.610
Ian Howells: Though was dumb. It was like it was so much more like when you talk like I’ve said a few times. Like my general lack of awareness like

00:44:39.060 –> 00:44:57.480
Ian Howells: I think all three of us were inflicted with that on this one. It was like, Oh, how much work. Can it be into a one day conference, like what could possibly be involved in this. Turns out there’s a dumb amount of work involved in running a conference we did the first one by ourselves.

00:44:58.920 –> 00:45:08.100
Ian Howells: Mistake. I don’t know. It was good that we did it because we realized very quickly. Like, how much is actually involved and how

00:45:08.100 –> 00:45:17.010
Ian Howells: Like, you should just hire a professional. If you’re gonna throw an event like just hire an event planner. And so we had

00:45:18.030 –> 00:45:24.360
Ian Howells: Yeah, it was hectic. So like literally 10 minutes before registration started the morning of the conference.

00:45:24.750 –> 00:45:32.010
Ian Howells: We were still working with the AV guy from the Hilton to try and get us to the point where slides would project onto the screen like

00:45:32.760 –> 00:45:42.510
Ian Howells: Everything was just going wrong like anything that could go wrong went wrong, like it was a good kind of intro, you know, kick in the face for

00:45:43.110 –> 00:45:55.020
Ian Howells: For running an event. But now, you know, thankfully, it still went over fine the presenters, all you know stepped up and delivered and talks were really good getting

00:45:55.410 –> 00:46:05.940
Ian Howells: I think the really great thing was getting all of these people that are used to interacting and slack together in person was awesome, right, because now all of a sudden

00:46:06.390 –> 00:46:15.900
Ian Howells: You have all these conversations happening where then light bulbs are going off, like, Oh, you’re a bubble. Like I recognize your, you know, Avatar and whatever, like you have all these folks who were talking online.

00:46:16.170 –> 00:46:21.390
Ian Howells: Now, getting to meet in person. So that was, that was awesome. And then this year.

00:46:23.160 –> 00:46:33.150
Ian Howells: Version we hired an event planning company they had done one of the earlier mas cons. So not only used to event planning, but also for our particular industry.

00:46:33.840 –> 00:46:48.870
Ian Howells: And that is worth every single penny that a good event planner will charge you because there’s so much stuff that we just had no idea about that she is just breezing through and it makes life a million times easier.

00:46:49.230 –> 00:46:57.600
Jacob Stoops: I feel like it probably gives you guys more of an opportunity to focus on the the content in the in the speakers and the and the quality and not worry about the minutia.

00:46:57.690 –> 00:47:07.530
Ian Howells: And that’s basically our only job this time around, which is great that we don’t have to get on the phone and talk about like Wi Fi connectivity in the room and chair covers and nonsense like that.

00:47:08.040 –> 00:47:15.750
Jacob Stoops: was awful. It’s like when you get married, you have to think about things like paying half people cut your cake for you or just

00:47:18.330 –> 00:47:18.840
Jacob Stoops: God

00:47:19.530 –> 00:47:20.340
Jeff Louella: It was a wedding planner.

00:47:20.970 –> 00:47:21.780
Jacob Stoops: Right, exactly.

00:47:21.900 –> 00:47:23.220
Ian Howells: Right, same, same idea you

00:47:23.460 –> 00:47:30.660
Jeff Louella: Know, I mean, it’s funny, thinking of the same way. So I used to run a homebrew club and we started off and it was

00:47:31.380 –> 00:47:43.290
Jeff Louella: Kind of out of just wanting to meet people in the industry. Next thing I know, we have like 300 members and like, I’m just, I ain’t got overwhelming for me to an extent, especially since I at that time recently had twins.

00:47:44.220 –> 00:47:49.650
Jeff Louella: Which, you know, adds a little, you know, cramped to going okay I’m going out drinking from a with a bunch of guys

00:47:51.510 –> 00:47:52.080
Jacob Stoops: With my kids.

00:47:53.190 –> 00:47:58.800
Jeff Louella: But, uh, but it was like everything they’re just setting it up. And that was just like one night a month and like I

00:47:59.100 –> 00:48:09.030
Jeff Louella: But I always did it kind of like this podcast right we we always wanted to have a good guest. So I was always trying to get like head brewers for all the local breweries and in Philadelphia, that time.

00:48:09.390 –> 00:48:15.510
Jeff Louella: Which there were a bunch and we would come in. We’ve talked about brewing have them like how that kind of like this podcast, how they got into it because

00:48:15.960 –> 00:48:24.690
Jeff Louella: As a home brewer, like a lot of people have dreams that open up their own brewery one day and real brewers will talk you out of it. They’re like, hey, do you want to be.

00:48:26.340 –> 00:48:33.870
Jeff Louella: Do you want to actually be a janitor because 99% where you are when you’re abroad because brewing beer is 5% of actually owning a brewery so

00:48:34.650 –> 00:48:39.450
Jeff Louella: But it was interesting that way. And I always want to being part of SEO grill.

00:48:40.230 –> 00:48:49.380
Jeff Louella: Like I kind of now being in Atlanta. Like, we really don’t have that close connection and I’d love to be able to like build one down here and I just know the amount of work. It’s going to take

00:48:49.830 –> 00:48:56.670
Jeff Louella: And, and, you know, I couldn’t imagine trying to actually have like 5000 people come in for a conference and how much work that actually takes

00:48:58.590 –> 00:48:59.460
Ian Howells: Yeah, it’s

00:49:00.540 –> 00:49:01.740
Ian Howells: It’s funny, like the

00:49:03.240 –> 00:49:15.960
Ian Howells: The finding good speakers and getting people to come and talk and like the logistics of that actually isn’t hard. The hardest part is when you get down to like we can have five

00:49:16.500 –> 00:49:27.360
Ian Howells: Who are the five people that we think are going to get on stage and like deliver something new that hasn’t been rehashed at 50 other conferences already right and so

00:49:28.140 –> 00:49:37.440
Ian Howells: And that’s the like the hard part on the, the speaker side, right, I think, thankfully, we’re in a community where like, generally, people are looking to

00:49:38.040 –> 00:49:49.380
Ian Howells: To share and talk about the stuff that they we, you know, have learned over the years, I think, you know, Nick Matt and I fortunate that we’re connected to

00:49:49.980 –> 00:50:02.790
Ian Howells: Folks like Jon Cooper, who generally don’t do the conference speaking thing like he’s not out there that’s an accent se es every season, you know, given it is same presentation over and over again.

00:50:03.840 –> 00:50:15.600
Ian Howells: But when we hit him up and we’re like, hey, we’re bringing a conference basically to your backyard, you’d like two hours away. Do you want to come speak like he’ll say yes and come to it.

00:50:15.600 –> 00:50:16.560
Ian Howells: So I think we’re

00:50:16.620 –> 00:50:31.140
Ian Howells: fortunate in that respect to it’s really just all the the minutia of like the actual logistical of event planning portion of it. That’s the hard part. And like I said, hiring a pro to take that weight off of our shoulders is

00:50:32.190 –> 00:50:32.790
Ian Howells: Amazing.

00:50:33.870 –> 00:50:34.350
It’s awesome.

00:50:35.910 –> 00:50:36.630
Jacob Stoops: So Jeff, what’s

00:50:38.130 –> 00:50:48.090
Jeff Louella: Cool. So it wasn’t really any major I’m going to say news is sweet, but there’s a bunch of little things. And a lot of times you know NEWS TODAY IS LIKE WHEN JOHN MUELLER says something

00:50:49.380 –> 00:50:57.180
Jeff Louella: So there was a lot of that because of his, his little town hall things that he runs, there were. So one of the big things.

00:50:57.930 –> 00:51:06.390
Jeff Louella: Was, you know, search engines get as search engines get better at intent, he basically said like keyword research is not going to go away, which

00:51:07.170 –> 00:51:17.670
Jeff Louella: You know, I look at it all as as much as Google comes out with Burt and all these different machine learnings. It is really based off the data that you’re giving it and that data is content.

00:51:18.630 –> 00:51:23.910
Jeff Louella: And, you know, knowing what search engines. You know what people are typing. It’s still always going to be important.

00:51:25.620 –> 00:51:30.660
Jeff Louella: And even I know like having different affiliate sites out there like and being very nice like

00:51:31.320 –> 00:51:38.340
Jeff Louella: Doing that keyword research are doing that, like research and gentleness, a keyword in an industry is ultra important to be able to

00:51:38.790 –> 00:51:53.430
Jeff Louella: Like if you’re going to start a site on something where no one is searching. There’s no nothing about it. Like, what’s the point of doing that right so so research is super important. I don’t know. I mean, I guess that it’s probably not much to go deeper into that one. But it seems like

00:51:55.500 –> 00:52:05.790
Jacob Stoops: This is where a yellow, yellow about things. So, so if you’re looking at. And this is an article on search engine roundtable THIS WEEK FROM WHAT IS IT THE 10th. It’s from yesterday. Yeah.

00:52:06.180 –> 00:52:12.540
Jacob Stoops: This so John’s response didn’t just come out of the blue. Right. It came in response because it’s

00:52:13.020 –> 00:52:24.690
Jacob Stoops: Beginning of 2020 so everybody’s making their big 2020 predictions. I’m Rick debut. Debut I doubt i’m pronouncing his name wrong and I’m and I’m going to go on record as saying that

00:52:25.140 –> 00:52:43.140
Jacob Stoops: This guy is probably way smarter than me. So maybe I have no fucking clue what I’m talking about. But he is. He is the person in charge of beings overall course search team and he is has essentially predicted predicted that this is the year that keyword research becomes obsolete.

00:52:43.680 –> 00:52:44.850
Jeff Louella: Which it’s coming.

00:52:44.880 –> 00:52:58.710
Jacob Stoops: And it’s just funny. The difference between what people have been you’re saying what people Google are saying and I agree with Jeff and I will say there. I wish there would be more times where we have disagreements, but we seem to be like

00:53:00.090 –> 00:53:12.600
Jacob Stoops: I don’t understand how researching and understanding if the data is available, what people are searching for when that becomes obsolete, like, in what way just because search engines are better.

00:53:13.200 –> 00:53:21.840
Jacob Stoops: At surfacing up a matching content to the particular queries like, Why the hell, wouldn’t we want to know what people are searching for, like, that’s

00:53:22.560 –> 00:53:30.990
Jacob Stoops: Data. Like, why wouldn’t we want that data. Why would we stop looking for that data, all of a sudden, just because search engines are good at matching. It just doesn’t make any freakin sense and it makes me wonder where the

00:53:31.320 –> 00:53:38.340
Jacob Stoops: Where the hell is their head at on the big side that they’re like coming out and saying stupid stuff like this. So I don’t know.

00:53:38.670 –> 00:53:40.200
Ian Howells: Well, I mean what smart.

00:53:40.320 –> 00:53:58.590
Ian Howells: smart decisions on search from bang would be a whole new frontier for us right so I you know bad takes coming from the big team is not something that expands incredible surprising here. Enjoy your 3% market share and continue with your hot takes, I guess.

00:53:58.950 –> 00:54:03.750
Jeff Louella: Yeah now. And it’s funny because there’s another news article out there about being loses out to duck, duck, go.

00:54:04.800 –> 00:54:06.900
Jeff Louella: In Google’s new kind of Android.

00:54:07.920 –> 00:54:11.700
Jeff Louella: They came out of, like, a search ballot and asks countries in Europe, because they’ve

00:54:12.630 –> 00:54:18.690
Jeff Louella: They got sued. You know that because they promote Google on Android devices, you know, makes sense that they would do that but

00:54:19.320 –> 00:54:30.120
Jeff Louella: You know, it also makes sense that that’s kind of, you know, playing a little bit of monopoly, so they they put out a ballot to people in different countries through the EU or what search engines. They want listed

00:54:30.750 –> 00:54:47.280
Jeff Louella: At like that you can change to besides Google. So the idea is like Google is probably going to be default, but if you want to change it. What ones get listed on there. And for most of Europe DuckDuckGo is well actually DuckDuckGo is number two, and every you country.

00:54:48.630 –> 00:55:00.990
Jeff Louella: And being is only in a certain amount of info.com and Queen and privacy Waller all before being so the only one that being kind of beat out DuckDuckGo

00:55:01.290 –> 00:55:06.540
Jeff Louella: Or any of the other ones was in the United Kingdom and we know everything with Brexit. Now it’s a

00:55:07.050 –> 00:55:20.460
Jeff Louella: It’s one of those things where it’s like every other country, you know, Italy, Lithuania, Iceland, Greece, everyone picked up. Don’t go in there. I’m not saying there’s the writing on the wall for being or anything like that, because being is is

00:55:21.480 –> 00:55:29.640
Jeff Louella: It’s funny because we compare them to Google, which is like 90% of everything well being, is it can the rest of world is still a leader to some of that but

00:55:30.210 –> 00:55:36.810
Jeff Louella: It is an interesting approach. What’s going on these days and DuckDuckGo is really pushing privacy, which I think is

00:55:37.560 –> 00:55:44.370
Jeff Louella: It’s interesting. I tried to stop using Google and use duck, duck, go for a couple months and then when I switch back to Google. I was like,

00:55:44.790 –> 00:55:55.230
Jeff Louella: Oh, all these things like complain about as an SEO, like, as a user, I are actually really good. It’s like, you know, pushes my 10 blue links down to the bottom like I missed that. DuckDuckGo does not have that so

00:55:56.640 –> 00:56:01.200
Jacob Stoops: I will say I like what DuckDuckGoes trying to do. I like their style.

00:56:01.620 –> 00:56:03.870
Jeff Louella: But when a duck, duck go shirt on. Yeah.

00:56:03.900 –> 00:56:05.640
Jacob Stoops: Right. Oh, you do have a duck, duck, go.

00:56:07.200 –> 00:56:09.990
Jacob Stoops: I don’t know where you would purchase such a thing. Maybe on affiliate site.

00:56:10.020 –> 00:56:10.740
Jeff Louella: On DuckDuckGo

00:56:12.240 –> 00:56:18.300
Jacob Stoops: But, um, I think the big advantage that being still has is their

00:56:18.870 –> 00:56:30.960
Jacob Stoops: inroads into other markets, similar to Google, like Google builds phones Google Now builds computers. Google does all kinds of shit. Well guess what, so does Microsoft. They have a massive browser with a lot of people still using it.

00:56:31.320 –> 00:56:46.200
Jacob Stoops: They do computers. They do all kinds of stuff. And guess what they’re going to make you use Bing on all of those things. It’s actually surprising, given the amount of users that they have that being isn’t representing representing more of a marketing share but that’s, I think,

00:56:46.770 –> 00:56:57.360
Jacob Stoops: Because Google has basically become so so big that they’re almost a verb. Now I don’t search something I Google it. I don’t DuckDuckGo it I don’t bring it I Google it. So,

00:56:58.020 –> 00:57:11.040
Jacob Stoops: Yeah, that’s it’s, it’s interesting. I don’t know if DuckDuckGo can ever overcome. You know, the advantages that those other two big players have with respect to the business, but I do like their style and I like their tenacity.

00:57:11.730 –> 00:57:19.350
Jeff Louella: And I don’t think their goal is to be bigger than Google, right, because I’m guessing there. I feel they’re pulling stuff in from Google. I don’t know exactly how they get the result.

00:57:19.380 –> 00:57:20.550
Jacob Stoops: Like the anti Google

00:57:21.300 –> 00:57:30.900
Jeff Louella: Yes. And there’s gonna always be a group of people who will enjoy that. Right. So as Google gets bigger and, you know, evil or

00:57:31.830 –> 00:57:43.050
Jeff Louella: And like basically the benefits of them sharing all my data between all the tools is convenient to some things, but some people don’t want all that data shared so DuckDuckGo would be great for that. So,

00:57:44.580 –> 00:57:52.650
Jacob Stoops: We, who is Sundar Pichai is he basically Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Is that is that who he is now.

00:57:53.940 –> 00:57:54.810
That the

00:57:56.070 –> 00:57:57.210
Jacob Stoops: CEO of Google, I think.

00:57:57.210 –> 00:57:57.570
Jeff Louella: That

00:57:57.690 –> 00:58:08.340
Jacob Stoops: Those missions is don’t be evil, but I feel like increasingly they’re becoming they’re becoming a little bit more evil, just like Facebook. And I just wonder if maybe Dr. Evil running both of those.

00:58:10.170 –> 00:58:19.650
Jeff Louella: You know, I feel, Google. It’s when you have so much data. Right. It’s like, there are certain like they have more data than anyone probably in the whole world right now and it’s

00:58:20.070 –> 00:58:27.870
Jeff Louella: Just being able to make things more convenient kind of seems evil. I remember when they started running ads inside of Gmail and part of it was like

00:58:28.500 –> 00:58:34.080
Jeff Louella: There would be a something that would read your email. So that would give you an ad based off the content inside of your email.

00:58:34.440 –> 00:58:40.920
Jeff Louella: And the world flipped basically like you’re reading my emails and it’s, you know, just like, shut it off right now but Alexa

00:58:41.910 –> 00:58:55.680
Jeff Louella: You know, when we, you know, they’re always listening, but like, are they fully listening or they just listening for the word Alexa, I think some people jump on the evil thing very quickly does not necessarily. I don’t think they’re evil, but I also think that

00:58:57.030 –> 00:59:07.980
Jeff Louella: They can be very easily. Right, and I think they remove that whole, don’t be evil thing out of there. Yeah, so it’s those where we feel you’re not you’re not evil, but you’re also not

00:59:08.760 –> 00:59:17.190
Jeff Louella: You know it, you’re not planting trees where if you search that like other people are doing right and and things like that. So they are definitely a for profit company.

00:59:17.880 –> 00:59:21.420
Jacob Stoops: They start building a Death Star. Then I’m going to be really well.

00:59:21.420 –> 00:59:22.740
Ian Howells: Yeah face fours.

00:59:22.800 –> 00:59:23.550
It’s coming better

00:59:24.630 –> 00:59:29.550
Jeff Louella: Well, when they, when they bought Boston Dynamics right and it’s like they have AI and then they have robot.

00:59:30.630 –> 00:59:39.690
Jeff Louella: It would. That’s where I kind of got, like, oh, but then they sold off Boston Dynamics, but they still, it’s a little creepy, because their AI stuff and putting it in those robot dogs.

00:59:40.080 –> 00:59:44.190
Jeff Louella: Is like things in my dreams and I get like not my dreams my nightmares.

00:59:44.970 –> 00:59:45.990
Jacob Stoops: Jetsons or

00:59:46.650 –> 00:59:51.630
Jeff Louella: One of the two self driving cars like they’re everywhere. They’re doing a lot of things and it’s. To me, it’s

00:59:52.560 –> 01:00:02.310
Jeff Louella: Great because it’s pushing humanity forward to an extent it’s merging us with machines. So we all become cyborgs. But I just don’t want to, like, you know, have all my brain power, run by Google right now so

01:00:03.210 –> 01:00:07.620
Ian Howells: I don’t know, I’m ready to be a cyborg man my hairline is garbage, my eyes are trash.

01:00:07.620 –> 01:00:11.220
Ian Howells: Bring bring out and cybernetics. I am. I’m here for I’m. Let’s do this.

01:00:12.930 –> 01:00:21.600
Jeff Louella: I am also not the singularity is one of those things where it’s it’s coming. And, you know, if it can make me live. I always wanted to be bit by a vampire.

01:00:22.050 –> 01:00:35.190
Jeff Louella: So that can live forever and see like where technology goes. So if I can be on a cyborg. And the same thing happens. I think another way of doing it. The Vampire part like I’m old involved. Like, I don’t want to be a vampire forever right now.

01:00:36.990 –> 01:00:39.240
Ian Howells: I mean like a half here in the gym first before I

01:00:41.640 –> 01:00:43.050
Jeff Louella: Don’t want to be the old vampire at the

01:00:44.040 –> 01:00:46.920
Jacob Stoops: Subconscious and then by be. Oh my god.

01:00:48.090 –> 01:00:48.630
Jacob Stoops: Okay.

01:00:49.230 –> 01:00:58.200
Jacob Stoops: So I want to do a time check. Um, let’s move into phase three, and we’re going to deep dive into affiliate sites and I’m just gonna, I’m just going to

01:00:58.650 –> 01:01:06.030
Jacob Stoops: Caveat this by saying this is one of those places in SEO. It’s such a broad area that

01:01:06.750 –> 01:01:18.300
Jacob Stoops: You should have a base in everything but I feel like the longer that this in the older that this industry gets, the more opportunities that there are to specialize in the chances of you not

01:01:19.200 –> 01:01:33.240
Jacob Stoops: knowing everything is is is high, Python, that’s something I have no freakin clue what it is and I’m going to say affiliate sites, we’re going to talk about it, but I have. I’ve never done it. I have no clue. Not a damn clue.

01:01:33.870 –> 01:01:49.890
Jacob Stoops: What I’m, what I’m doing. So I’m going to rely on you as an expert and Jeff you as an expert to guide me through what’s it like what do you need to think about if you’re in 2020 and you’re trying to run an affiliate strategy.

01:01:51.600 –> 01:01:53.100
Ian Howells: So I think there’s

01:01:54.510 –> 01:02:01.830
Ian Howells: There’s probably two two different paths to to answering. This one is for folks that are maybe

01:02:02.520 –> 01:02:15.840
Ian Howells: Either newer in their career or have been in SEO or digital marketing PR bit in like an agency setting where you’re in, like you mentioned, a very specialized function and then there’s folks that are kind of

01:02:16.980 –> 01:02:25.260
Ian Howells: I guess further in their career, for lack of a better explanation and kind of deeper in their knowledge already for the new folks.

01:02:26.340 –> 01:02:32.550
Ian Howells: It’s great. And I recommend it for everybody that’s working at an SEO agency in that capacity.

01:02:33.150 –> 01:02:36.240
Ian Howells: Because you have to think about everything right like now.

01:02:36.540 –> 01:02:50.160
Ian Howells: The, the horseshit with oh the client will do this and like their pricing is higher, the content that competitors. So like, that’s why they’re not making money. And, you know, on and on and on and on every excuse is gone, right, like it’s just you.

01:02:50.700 –> 01:02:55.770
Ian Howells: And typically WordPress right like it’s you and a content management system and a domain.

01:02:56.160 –> 01:03:12.120
Ian Howells: And if it flops. It’s because of you. And if it does. Well, it’s because you did good things, right. So it kind of is a bit of a put up or shut up for for folks to put themselves into which is great because that’s when you learn stuff that you didn’t know

01:03:12.120 –> 01:03:12.840
Ian Howells: Before

01:03:12.900 –> 01:03:19.620
Ian Howells: Right, you have to get better at pre selling and copywriting otherwise you’re going to get traffic and it’s not going to convert

01:03:19.920 –> 01:03:22.830
Ian Howells: You have to get better at keyword research and planning.

01:03:23.130 –> 01:03:29.880
Ian Howells: Because you’re probably a small new site. So you’ve really got to pick your battles for what you’re going to try and go do

01:03:30.060 –> 01:03:38.820
Ian Howells: Because you’re not going to go outrank the wire cutter or credit cards calm for you know best, small business credit cards or something like that. Right.

01:03:39.210 –> 01:03:53.070
Ian Howells: So it kind of top to bottom through the process forces you to get better at each piece because everything has to work or the end result is not going to happen. Right. And again,

01:03:53.520 –> 01:04:03.360
Ian Howells: You’re the only reason right you you are the lever on every step of that process. So I think it’s a really good thing for for folks to do

01:04:03.780 –> 01:04:09.270
Ian Howells: And then even just taking the like you should want to learn and get better and do new things out of it.

01:04:09.720 –> 01:04:18.930
Ian Howells: It makes you absurdly employable. Right. Like if you are a junior SEO in your first gig and an agency and you’re 12 to 24 months out of school, call it

01:04:19.650 –> 01:04:30.510
Ian Howells: building your own site and putting that on your resume, like, hey, I made this website. It ranks for, you know, a few hundred keywords and gets 1000 visits a month and makes me some money.

01:04:30.810 –> 01:04:39.270
Ian Howells: Your resume is immediately at the top of the pile like as somebody who was a hiring manager at a large mid cap public company.

01:04:40.230 –> 01:04:53.730
Ian Howells: There are like so many resumes come in when we put out a job posting will get like 300 resumes. Right. And I had to get the recruiting team like three things to look for, like, if you see resumes with any of these three things.

01:04:54.840 –> 01:04:59.310
Ian Howells: shortlist like those are the resumes that I want to see in one is they built their own website.

01:04:59.850 –> 01:05:06.060
Ian Howells: Like that just immediately gets you through the hundreds of other resumes into the front of the line.

01:05:06.480 –> 01:05:11.610
Ian Howells: It’s going to get you on the phone. And then if you barf all over yourself on the phone like that’s the end of the road, but

01:05:11.940 –> 01:05:23.370
Ian Howells: You know, if nothing else, like if you’re applying for jobs and not getting a call back as an SEO and you haven’t built your own website and put it on your resume. That’s like the biggest lever. I think you can can pull

01:05:24.540 –> 01:05:26.280
Jeff Louella: It’s, it’s funny because I

01:05:27.540 –> 01:05:33.660
Jeff Louella: I totally the same beliefs and things like that and I you started off building websites myself started

01:05:34.470 –> 01:05:46.380
Jeff Louella: Yeah, I was a DJ went to promote promote myself as a DJ built websites doing that I learned how to use like real audio back then to do streaming. Unfortunately, everybody had like 14 four modem at that time and if

01:05:47.820 –> 01:05:48.660
Jeff Louella: I was a little early, and

01:05:49.680 –> 01:05:50.400
Ian Howells: Just early

01:05:50.820 –> 01:05:58.980
Jeff Louella: Exactly. And then, so things like that when great. But actually when I when I met you and we started, you know, I started learning more about affiliates self.

01:05:59.400 –> 01:06:09.510
Jeff Louella: I’m trying to start up those niche affiliate sites. I think I started one called like barbecue pit man calm and I was selling, you know, talking about barbecue grills on there and

01:06:09.900 –> 01:06:16.200
Jeff Louella: It actually I had a couple different ones. I had one about music, because I love music realized that music wasn’t a great affiliate

01:06:16.590 –> 01:06:32.190
Jeff Louella: You know area because CDs. At the time, like you would get like a nickel or dime off of it while an $800 barbecue grill, you know, and if you’re using Amazon affiliates, you’re getting like 7% so it’s like a, you know, same amount a lot more money and

01:06:33.330 –> 01:06:45.570
Jeff Louella: You know, and then of course you get a little greedy. Sometimes when you start getting some traffic and you start getting a little more spammy to get that more traffic and then eventually, Google, you know, get you get you get on their shortlist, and then they

01:06:46.650 –> 01:06:56.370
Jeff Louella: Then you get banned from it and I’ve learned a lot about that too. So actually, for me, kind of making affiliate site being a little more spammy on it learned a lot more about penalties.

01:06:56.610 –> 01:07:05.130
Jeff Louella: And I did learn a lot about things there. And I say that, you know, when I am interviewing somebody I always say, like, hey, you make a website, even people on my team.

01:07:05.550 –> 01:07:13.650
Jeff Louella: That don’t have like even if you don’t build the website from scratch. But just like the art of getting traffic to your site and natural is like is important and

01:07:15.330 –> 01:07:23.610
Jeff Louella: Doing it to incentivize like hey I I made money off of this now gives me more the incentive to actually try to make it even better.

01:07:24.030 –> 01:07:30.240
Jeff Louella: And that’s kind of where I feel like affiliates are at a lot. I mean, there’s a lot of good affiliates out there. There’s a lot of bad ones, and I think

01:07:31.080 –> 01:07:38.010
Jeff Louella: The bad affiliates especially what I did with that barbecue site was, you know, did a lot of spinning content and things like that that I’m not proud of but

01:07:38.940 –> 01:07:51.030
Jeff Louella: I think in affiliate world there are the good and bad and I, IT’S KIND OF WHAT I WANT YOU KNOW WHERE MY QUESTION IS GOING TO GO. It’s, um, do you think affiliates have a bad like SEO. In general, they might have a bad name and marketing industries because SEO.

01:07:51.120 –> 01:08:01.620
Jeff Louella: Or spam your overall, you know, not me, of course. But other people and in the SEO world there’s affiliates and affiliates kind of get that that more of the

01:08:02.220 –> 01:08:17.850
Jeff Louella: Black Hat aspect of things. So I think there was a lot of affiliate like black hat networks and syndicate and things like that. So where do you feel like with affiliates like as it getting better or is it actually still a world of spam and junk out there.

01:08:18.390 –> 01:08:21.720
Ian Howells: So I think it’s interesting. There are

01:08:22.980 –> 01:08:32.940
Ian Howells: There are obviously different perspective right on affiliates. I think now within the SEO community. I don’t think affiliate has a bad reputation because like

01:08:33.150 –> 01:08:49.620
Ian Howells: How the hell else are you making money, right, like for people that run their own sites like that’s kind of like, unless you’re just running AdSense or display ads like. And I would argue from the display of that I see they deserve a worse reputation than

01:08:49.680 –> 01:08:51.030
Ian Howells: A lot of affiliate marketing.

01:08:52.320 –> 01:08:59.700
Ian Howells: So I think within the industry, you know, pretty widely accepted. I think you’ll have very differing opinions from

01:09:00.120 –> 01:09:11.250
Ian Howells: When I think back to the GSA commerce days like folks that are in house at an e commerce store will have very different opinions about affiliates based on how their network has gone right so i think

01:09:11.670 –> 01:09:21.930
Ian Howells: Some will basically equate if you’re an in house at an E calm place and like digital marketing is not your thing. You’re a product merchandiser or something, an e commerce store.

01:09:22.410 –> 01:09:35.040
Ian Howells: Your exposure to affiliate marketing is probably heavily dominated by coupon sites. Right. And in that view like through that lens. You probably view them as a parasite right because

01:09:35.340 –> 01:09:42.990
Ian Howells: They just rank for my store name plus coupon or coupons and all these people that I would have gotten any way.

01:09:43.320 –> 01:09:51.090
Ian Howells: Are now clicking through here just to get a promo code to put in. So I’m losing money on the ARV because now they’re all using the 10% coupon.

01:09:51.540 –> 01:10:01.200
Ian Howells: And now I’m paying a whatever five 6% commission to this, you know, parasitic affiliate site at the same time, right. So I think there’s still pockets like that where

01:10:01.440 –> 01:10:09.630
Ian Howells: Because a lens that affiliate marketing to view through can be very specific to certain stuff you can come away with a bad taste in your mouth.

01:10:10.140 –> 01:10:21.450
Ian Howells: I think the the flip side to that would be seen stuff like wire cutter getting bought by the New York Times, right, like the name in the US for news, generally speaking.

01:10:21.900 –> 01:10:37.140
Ian Howells: Buying an Amazon affiliate website for almost 100 million dollars i think is a a good temperature read for life okay yeah affiliates, not a joke and like large companies recognize the value and potential that’s there.

01:10:39.300 –> 01:10:40.740
Jeff Louella: How do you go about and

01:10:40.950 –> 01:10:41.250

01:10:42.840 –> 01:10:49.470
Jeff Louella: Not going to ask what your affiliates are or think that, but how do you go apart like and just figure out how to

01:10:50.160 –> 01:10:54.180
Jeff Louella: Pick an affiliate that you want. So you’re going to go, you want to start a new site.

01:10:54.780 –> 01:11:00.030
Jeff Louella: You go through the process of doing your research and things like that. Like, what are some of those steps in that process to

01:11:00.450 –> 01:11:08.520
Jeff Louella: Pick an industry or find out like information about that industry and whether it’s worth to. It’s a lot of work, you know, to build up a site so

01:11:08.880 –> 01:11:18.150
Jeff Louella: You know you don’t want to go into something like, like I said, with music and realize they have zero like even if someone buys something, you get a dime compared to where you get

01:11:19.590 –> 01:11:24.960
Jeff Louella: To ask yeah yeah right where your poker sites that like when you got $100 each one. Like, that’s awesome. I wish I get $100 a

01:11:26.070 –> 01:11:27.600
Jeff Louella: Click the link on my website right so

01:11:27.840 –> 01:11:38.640
Ian Howells: So there I think to two ways. Basically the framework that I use for picking affiliate spots three I line already and backtrack and so the first way would be

01:11:39.210 –> 01:11:46.080
Ian Howells: An industry that I already know is high volume and high dollar right so home security being a good example. I got

01:11:46.470 –> 01:11:54.690
Ian Howells: Cheated On that one because I got exposure to home security when I was at Red ventures. They were. And I think still are a very large ADT dealer.

01:11:55.470 –> 01:12:08.250
Ian Howells: So was able to see firsthand like the amount of volume available in the space and what home security companies are willing to pay out because they’re getting you know that 3040 $50 recurring monthly

01:12:09.390 –> 01:12:20.910
Ian Howells: Purchase with like a 24 month contract. In some cases, right. So, like they’re dealing with real money. So bringing them a customer, it can be very lucrative for you. So what are those kind of large industries.

01:12:21.270 –> 01:12:29.850
Ian Howells: That are going to be around for a long time payouts are really high right those are basically where I make my long term bets like

01:12:29.880 –> 01:12:33.120
Ian Howells: The site is not going to do anything. And it’s first 612

01:12:33.150 –> 01:12:48.780
Ian Howells: Maybe even 18 months, but it’s a iron in the fire that you know I just keep going and the plan is, I’m still going to have this website five years from now, right. So stuff like home security web hosting like those big industries with high dollar payouts

01:12:49.710 –> 01:13:00.630
Ian Howells: The second would be pockets where I see week competition that generally speaking funnel to Amazon, right. So basically anything you can buy on the internet you can buy on Amazon.

01:13:01.200 –> 01:13:06.600
Ian Howells: The Commission structures there. You know what it is, the tracking is there, like, there’s not a lot of unknowns.

01:13:07.020 –> 01:13:18.360
Ian Howells: All you really have to be able to do is the keyword and competitive research and you’re good to go. Like I farm out all the content production I farm on a lot of the link production. So at that point, it’s just like a capital.

01:13:20.490 –> 01:13:27.060
Ian Howells: Application game of, like, where am I going to put funding and you know how, how big of a bet. Am I going to make on each one.

01:13:27.870 –> 01:13:28.320

01:13:29.580 –> 01:13:31.680
Jacob Stoops: You said keyword research is still relevant.

01:13:32.340 –> 01:13:49.860
Ian Howells: I did, I would venture to say for an affiliate, it is arguably the most important thing that you can do because you have to find keywords that not only have volume but have intent and have SERPs that you can crack with whatever site, you’re actually working with alright

01:13:50.040 –> 01:13:51.240
Jacob Stoops: So, suck it being

01:13:53.070 –> 01:13:54.990
Ian Howells: That they’ve been doing that for years already there.

01:13:57.870 –> 01:14:05.910
Ian Howells: And then the, the only other the, the kind of third that I backtracked my two part answer to, and turn it into a three parter.

01:14:06.420 –> 01:14:17.940
Ian Howells: Is just if I either get approached or see an auction for a domain where the price looks right. And then that kind of sends me down the rabbit hole of looking into that industry.

01:14:18.210 –> 01:14:28.140
Ian Howells: Trying to get the scope of how big can this be a trust is really like my go to tool like I’m, you know, aside from when it logs me out, which it does more than

01:14:28.950 –> 01:14:35.490
Ian Howells: I would like, but in general, there’s probably two or three hrs tabs open in my Chrome at all times.

01:14:36.240 –> 01:14:42.090
Ian Howells: Because it is the fastest way to go from like two or three seed keywords to a list of probably 50 keywords.

01:14:42.450 –> 01:14:47.610
Ian Howells: To filtering up. Who are the domains that are kind of owning this space.

01:14:47.910 –> 01:14:52.890
Ian Howells: And then being able to click through right to them and say, okay, they’ve got this many referring domains. They do this much traffic.

01:14:53.130 –> 01:15:03.450
Ian Howells: Let me see where those links come from. Can I replicate that like that becomes like a 20 minute process of being able to size up in industry and have a general gut feeling of

01:15:03.810 –> 01:15:09.660
Ian Howells: I’m way out of my league and there’s no way I’m getting in here. So, like this is either going to be a multi year bet or

01:15:10.050 –> 01:15:24.000
Ian Howells: Oh damn, this looks like there’s something here. There’s people all over, page one that are pretty weak that I feel like you know in six or eight months, I can replicate the mountain quality of content they have and the mountain quality of links that they have. Yeah.

01:15:26.100 –> 01:15:35.490
Jeff Louella: So when you get your, you know, your niche and you you build a site. I am guessing most of time. It’s a WordPress get there. I mean, because it’s just so simple.

01:15:36.150 –> 01:15:44.070
Jeff Louella: There is a lot of, you know, we need lots of content to be able to build that right so I’m guessing. The next kind of approach is

01:15:44.490 –> 01:15:58.110
Jeff Louella: Getting the site structure and start building out content. Is that something you’re writing yourself or is that something you’re kind of going not fiber. But, you know, some other place to get content written and then you just the editorial notes of that.

01:15:58.470 –> 01:16:05.700
Ian Howells: Yep. So thankfully, now I do less than, less than less myself. One of the things I focused on in 2019

01:16:06.510 –> 01:16:11.940
Ian Howells: Was bringing more part time folks on to help me with portions of it, right. So, now, thankfully.

01:16:12.240 –> 01:16:25.170
Ian Howells: I now have a reliable part time person who knows a trance knows how to do keyword research and they can basically build content maps for me. I give them an industry and two or three competitors to look at and they can just go

01:16:25.650 –> 01:16:35.610
Ian Howells: And then come back with a Google Sheet template that I made filled out with what keywords and then I know what pages. Do I need to make. What are the keywords that need to funnel into them.

01:16:36.180 –> 01:16:46.470
Ian Howells: I basically then take those Google Sheets and pass them over to word agents word agents calm and they right now all of my new affiliate content.

01:16:47.250 –> 01:16:48.660
Ian Howells: And so, it all goes to them.

01:16:49.110 –> 01:16:59.970
Ian Howells: The last missing piece I need to fill is then the, hey, we got a Google Drive folder, full of content from word agents, I need all of this in WordPress now and I need the internal links done and blah, blah, blah.

01:17:00.270 –> 01:17:09.540
Ian Howells: That’s the the piece that I’m still kind of rotating through some folks trying to find somebody that I really like that. I’ll continue to work with. But you can kind of

01:17:10.770 –> 01:17:26.340
Ian Howells: D scale each individual portion of the process and have different folks fulfill each part, right, because I am not going to sit here and pick out 800 words about, you know, this camping tent.

01:17:26.430 –> 01:17:37.710
Ian Howells: That and why it’s great. Right. Like there’s people who write for a living, that’s what they want to do. They do that from wherever the hell they want. That’s great word agents just takes care of the content for me now.

01:17:38.430 –> 01:17:40.590
Jeff Louella: You just need Hamlet write you a script and play.

01:17:43.140 –> 01:17:43.500
Ian Howells: Button.

01:17:45.690 –> 01:17:51.570
Jacob Stoops: between him and jr folks to build a search engine or machine learning how to auto produce the content, I bet.

01:17:54.510 –> 01:18:04.530
Jacob Stoops: So Ian on definitely want to thank you for, for your time. We always wrap up, or at least we tried to sometimes we forget and you’ve kind of alluded to, to it.

01:18:05.070 –> 01:18:12.120
Jacob Stoops: To building websites, being a good thing. So I’m going to ask you to maybe provide a different piece of advice, but we always end by saying

01:18:13.020 –> 01:18:24.150
Jacob Stoops: If you were a new SEO you’re you’re fresh out of college or you’re thinking about getting into the industry literally today this moment, what would be the advice that you would give to that person.

01:18:26.970 –> 01:18:33.510
Ian Howells: The, the biggie is building your own site. But you said that’s not that’s not an answer. I can do is I’ll take that off the table. I would

01:18:34.560 –> 01:18:42.990
Ian Howells: If I was still in college. I would look to get an internship at an agency. And if I had just graduated, I would do.

01:18:43.920 –> 01:18:56.760
Ian Howells: Everything that I could to make myself marketable on paper to get an interview at an agency and get a junior level role I hate on the agency model a lot. And there’s a bunch there that I don’t like.

01:18:57.240 –> 01:19:13.020
Ian Howells: But it is the fastest way to get in somewhere see a bunch of stuff happen and learn, kind of as you as you do. And I think starting out your career as a junior person in house somewhere.

01:19:13.830 –> 01:19:22.260
Ian Howells: I think kind of insulate to a little too much into the specific tech stack and the specific goals and like how monetization happens

01:19:22.560 –> 01:19:26.460
Ian Howells: You get a little bit pigeonholed into one way of doing things.

01:19:26.730 –> 01:19:35.460
Ian Howells: Whereas generally at an agency, you’re going to get exposed to multiple different CMS and platforms, you’re going to get exposed to different kinds of people. And if you’re going to be successful.

01:19:35.730 –> 01:19:47.250
Ian Howells: Have to figure out how to talk to clients and other stakeholders to actually get work done. There are a lot of skills that you can hone working in an agency, and I think it’s a good

01:19:47.700 –> 01:19:54.990
Ian Howells: Spot for somebody to spend their first call a two to three years in the digital marketing world doing that work.

01:19:55.830 –> 01:20:06.960
Jacob Stoops: Speaking of agencies Jeff and I worked for one search discovery. So if you are one of those people looking and coming out of college we do college hires every single year.

01:20:07.440 –> 01:20:20.730
Jacob Stoops: And in Ian’s right it is really great experience. You get to work across multiple verticals with a lot of different people that know a lot of different things, especially at search discovery. So I don’t want this podcast to be just like a

01:20:21.570 –> 01:20:25.650
Jacob Stoops: Major plug, but come work with us. We’d love to work with you and

01:20:25.710 –> 01:20:26.490
Jeff Louella: Anyways, rent.

01:20:26.970 –> 01:20:27.270

01:20:28.530 –> 01:20:28.920
Ian Howells: Yes.

01:20:28.950 –> 01:20:33.240
Jacob Stoops: Yes, let’s yell about things in person. So he and where can people find you.

01:20:35.100 –> 01:20:50.310
Ian Howells: So on Twitter, just at Ian Howells Real original and creative with the Twitter handle there otherwise I don’t like I’m the worst solo SEO in the world. Like, I don’t have

01:20:50.880 –> 01:21:04.560
Ian Howells: A website that like advertises my service. I think I NH media com is literally a logo lucky pixel calm is the BBA that I do my consulting on it’s again a logo on on the homepage. And that’s it. There’s not even a contact form.

01:21:05.220 –> 01:21:18.720
Ian Howells: And so really Twitter and inside Traffic Think Tank are like the two places that I hang out and network with with people in the industry. So Traffic Think Tank calm and Twitter at Ian’s house would be the best bet.

01:21:19.680 –> 01:21:32.610
Jacob Stoops: Awesome. I’ll say it again if you want to go to one of the best conferences about building traffic that is going on right now. Go to Traffic Think Tank calm, forward slash live

01:21:33.150 –> 01:21:46.320
Jacob Stoops: The event, again, is in Miami. So nice warm sunny place that most people want to go and it is on May 16 Ian I don’t know how many like if you guys restrict the number of tickets. But how many, how many tickets are left left at this moment.

01:21:46.440 –> 01:21:58.170
Ian Howells: We are, I think, right now we’re 64 65% sold. So there’s like 120 spots left, something like that. Cool.

01:21:58.530 –> 01:22:04.740
Jacob Stoops: Alright, so you hear that there are spots left this episode is going to release on on the following Monday we record ahead so

01:22:05.820 –> 01:22:10.980
Jacob Stoops: I believe that they might there might still be some spots left by that time, that’s only a couple of days from now. But, uh,

01:22:11.250 –> 01:22:26.880
Jacob Stoops: Yeah, go and go and buy a ticket if you want to meet some really, really great people and attend to, really, really awesome about. But otherwise, em, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate your time. Really appreciate the candor candor candor. Yeah.

01:22:27.930 –> 01:22:28.740
Jacob Stoops: That’s awkward. That’s

01:22:29.820 –> 01:22:31.020
Jeff Louella: The Rings Kelly appreciate

01:22:32.520 –> 01:22:33.390
Jacob Stoops: It was a great discussion.

01:22:33.810 –> 01:22:37.740
Ian Howells: Now awesome I fun. Thanks for having me guess. Awesome. Thank you.running 


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