Agency SEO

#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

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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?

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Jeff Louella: Going well how’s everyone doing out there.

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Jacob Stoops: They can’t answer you, Jeff.

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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,

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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

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Jeff Louella: Are very

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: So I did previously. Up until the end of August of 2019 I was leading the the SEO team at lending tree.

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Ian Howells: Yep. Now just affiliate stuff consulting and Traffic Think Tank are kind of the three legs of the stool and

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Jacob Stoops: I had that in my notes and I completely glossed over it. We do take notes here.

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Ian Howells: Before we

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Jacob Stoops: Find people and then I just get on and I just messed them mess them all up or

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Jacob Stoops: In one case I butchered

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Jacob Stoops: Somebody somebody’s name.

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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.

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Jacob Stoops: Yet Lee, which was a little embarrassing.

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Ian Howells: I mean, it’s better to call better to call a name mispronunciation out early. Right.

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Ian Howells: Rather than it happening over and over and over again.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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Jacob Stoops: What are their backgrounds and even more importantly, we’d like to talk about

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Jeff Louella: Sometimes, AND I KNOW HOW TO TOSS THINGS UP TO YOU, TOO.

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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

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Jacob Stoops: I want to know what you want to rant about at some point I want to see that.

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Jeff Louella: So all right, I will do some topics, the data Jeff will ramp.

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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.

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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

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Jacob Stoops: Ian

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: Is the website portion and then the community. I think is really one of the the big strong

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: Getting started in the the industry. I built a website when I was in high school, my cousin and I actually started

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Ian Howells: What would be now called a blog, but then was not called a blog because at that point blogs were literally just

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Ian Howells: That’s all right.

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

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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

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Ian Howells: It was a dream at that

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: He has since legally changed his name to sunshine Megatron he he built t shirt hell calm.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Jacob Stoops: Horn, it’s for

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Ian Howells: Clean important. Yeah, yeah, it’s probably part

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Bronze

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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,

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: To go

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Jacob Stoops: It’s a logical jump, I guess.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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Jeff Louella: Pay for

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Ian Howells: Which one, you’re 17 is not, you know, super, super fun.

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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.

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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

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Ended

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Jacob Stoops: The

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Jacob Stoops: The only thing I can imagine is a lot of giggling

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Jacob Stoops: And not only that,

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Ian Howells: The novelty wears off pretty quick.

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Jacob Stoops: Well, that’s what I was gonna ask one. What’s it

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Jacob Stoops: What is it like having never like done work for a porn site. I know that there are

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: Because I’m 70 like I didn’t

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Ian Howells: So I would literally give her cash and then she would punch her credit card number into I.

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Ian Howells: I can’t remember in my domain GoDaddy. I can’t remember the first place I bought a domain.

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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

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Ian Howells: Some deal. These are like a buck 99 or 99 cents. It’s not ones you want, but still

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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.

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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

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Ian Howells: Yeah, about that. So I think they were thankfully they were super cool about it. They were

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: So where did you go from there.

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: And do a lot of effort into this like this can become like a big, full time income level type situation.

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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.

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Ian Howells: So the fact that, like this could be the way somebody supports themselves full time.

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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.

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: You know, as long as I was buying video games. And then in college like beer money like

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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

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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.

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Jacob Stoops: If you needed that mindset.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, I

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Ian Howells: Did not did not have that, I guess, unfortunately, so

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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.

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: I knew from my own internet usage, let’s say, and stuff that had attractive payouts right because the

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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

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: Because all the major credit card processors lose the ability to

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Ian Howells: So that kind of reinforced for me that, like, yeah, maybe this whole

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: So the following year in 2007 I am getting ready to

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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.

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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.

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Oh, yeah.

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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.

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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

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Ian Howells: Pepper jam search

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Ian Howells: Com. At that point, looks like in like 2007 but

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Ian Howells: I ended up emailing the VP of search can moan with just like, hey,

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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

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Ian Howells: Internet marketing.

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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.

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Ian Howells: Email was like, Oh, somebody has built affiliate websites before and like gotten traffic through search and monetized it

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Jeff Louella: And though that was interesting times. I mean, Pepper jam. When we we bought

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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

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Ian Howells: Oh, it was garbage.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, I think they had, like, once they got in there like crap.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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Jeff Louella: Got me a little bit of money that I learned I was because I always want to learn to kind of the

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: And by the way, our platforms you

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, exactly.

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Ian Howells: slightly awkward.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: The plant the leadership.

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Jeff Louella: It.

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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

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Jeff Louella: It but uh

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Awkward.

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Ian Howells: Guys, don’t get me wrong, I’m a terrible employee. I’m not helping them.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: Amazing.

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Jeff Louella: And I see, I’m a big Sixers fan.

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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,

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: Thanks. All right, I think.

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Jeff Louella: For billions. Not too bad.

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Jeff Louella: You know and and become a minority owner of the Sixers and running.

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Ian Howells: fanatics and still

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Ian Howells: crushing it just that even if he had nothing else in the past. Just that alone like he’s

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Jeff Louella: Good at anything by rue La La are also some of those others flash sale site.

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Ian Howells: Yeah, real law was rolled in.

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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

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Jeff Louella: I was

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Ian Howells: Out in a lemon

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Jeff Louella: I was the person to introduce them all.

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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.

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Jeff Louella: I was hoping I got a kick, but

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Jeff Louella: I left before that even like fully materialized but

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Ian Howells: But no, that was I guess just to complete kind of the, the career arc overview here gtsi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: So always had kind of stuff going on outside of the main full time job. But that’s kind of the

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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.

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

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Ian Howells: RV didn’t really own their own website properties. It was licensed like it would be branded domains for DirecTV or ADT

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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.

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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.

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lack thereof.

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: But you had to sign up for the year. So basically he got 12 people to sign on for six grand

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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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: And I had just made like a very offhandedly like

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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Ian Howells: The mas community at that point was in a

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: So that felt like

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Ian Howells: To nick that felt like a big opportunity and I was less certain.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Ian Howells: Hopefully, very well. So

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: But now for us. I think the the responsibility part is interesting, I think, as the community has gotten bigger

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Ian Howells: We’ve gotten less and less reliant on me, Nick and Matt right because like first 50 members like

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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

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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

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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

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

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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.

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: That are applicable to people in a variety of roles, because we have

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: And do a Python webinar was like extremely useful for a bunch of folks so we try and make sure that

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: Yeah, it was hectic. So like literally 10 minutes before registration started the morning of the conference.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: Now, getting to meet in person. So that was, that was awesome. And then this year.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Jacob Stoops: God

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Jeff Louella: It was a wedding planner.

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Jacob Stoops: Right, exactly.

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Ian Howells: Right, same, same idea you

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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

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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.

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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

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Jacob Stoops: With my kids.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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Jeff Louella: But it was interesting that way. And I always want to being part of SEO grill.

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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

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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

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Ian Howells: Yeah, it’s

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Ian Howells: It’s funny, like the

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Ian Howells: So I think we’re

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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

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Ian Howells: Amazing.

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It’s awesome.

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Jacob Stoops: So Jeff, what’s

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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Jeff Louella: And even I know like having different affiliate sites out there like and being very nice like

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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Jeff Louella: Which it’s coming.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Ian Howells: Well, I mean what smart.

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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.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah now. And it’s funny because there’s another news article out there about being loses out to duck, duck, go.

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Jeff Louella: In Google’s new kind of Android.

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Jeff Louella: They came out of, like, a search ballot and asks countries in Europe, because they’ve

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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

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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

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

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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,

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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

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Jacob Stoops: I will say I like what DuckDuckGoes trying to do. I like their style.

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Jeff Louella: But when a duck, duck go shirt on. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: Right. Oh, you do have a duck, duck, go.

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Jacob Stoops: I don’t know where you would purchase such a thing. Maybe on affiliate site.

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Jeff Louella: On DuckDuckGo

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Jacob Stoops: But, um, I think the big advantage that being still has is their

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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.

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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,

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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,

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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.

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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.

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Jacob Stoops: Like the anti Google

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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

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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,

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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.

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That the

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Jacob Stoops: CEO of Google, I think.

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Jeff Louella: That

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Jacob Stoops: They start building a Death Star. Then I’m going to be really well.

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Ian Howells: Yeah face fours.

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It’s coming better

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Jeff Louella: Well, when they, when they bought Boston Dynamics right and it’s like they have AI and then they have robot.

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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.

420
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.

421
00:59:44.970 –> 00:59:45.990
Jacob Stoops: Jetsons or

422
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

423
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

424
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.

425
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.

426
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.

427
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.

428
01:00:36.990 –> 01:00:39.240
Ian Howells: I mean like a half here in the gym first before I

429
01:00:41.640 –> 01:00:43.050
Jeff Louella: Don’t want to be the old vampire at the

430
01:00:44.040 –> 01:00:46.920
Jacob Stoops: Subconscious and then by be. Oh my god.

431
01:00:48.090 –> 01:00:48.630
Jacob Stoops: Okay.

432
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

433
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

434
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

435
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.

436
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.

437
01:01:51.600 –> 01:01:53.100
Ian Howells: So I think there’s

438
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

439
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

440
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.

441
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.

442
01:02:33.150 –> 01:02:36.240
Ian Howells: Because you have to think about everything right like now.

443
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.

444
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.

445
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

446
01:03:12.120 –> 01:03:12.840
Ian Howells: Before

447
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

448
01:03:19.920 –> 01:03:22.830
Ian Howells: You have to get better at keyword research and planning.

449
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

450
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.

451
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,

452
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

453
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.

454
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

455
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.

456
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.

457
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.

458
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.

459
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.

460
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

461
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

462
01:05:24.540 –> 01:05:26.280
Jeff Louella: It’s, it’s funny because I

463
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

464
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

465
01:05:47.820 –> 01:05:48.660
Jeff Louella: I was a little early, and

466
01:05:49.680 –> 01:05:50.400
Ian Howells: Just early

467
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.

468
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

469
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

470
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

471
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

472
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.

473
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.

474
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

475
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.

476
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

477
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

478
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.

479
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

480
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.

481
01:08:18.390 –> 01:08:21.720
Ian Howells: So I think it’s interesting. There are

482
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

483
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

484
01:08:49.680 –> 01:08:51.030
Ian Howells: A lot of affiliate marketing.

485
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

486
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

487
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.

488
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

489
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.

490
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.

491
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

492
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.

493
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.

494
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.

495
01:10:39.300 –> 01:10:40.740
Jeff Louella: How do you go about and

496
01:10:40.950 –> 01:10:41.250
Like

497
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

498
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.

499
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

500
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

501
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

502
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

503
01:11:26.070 –> 01:11:27.600
Jeff Louella: Click the link on my website right so

504
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

505
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

506
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.

507
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

508
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.

509
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

510
01:12:29.880 –> 01:12:33.120
Ian Howells: The site is not going to do anything. And it’s first 612

511
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

512
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.

513
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.

514
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.

515
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.

516
01:13:27.870 –> 01:13:28.320
So,

517
01:13:29.580 –> 01:13:31.680
Jacob Stoops: You said keyword research is still relevant.

518
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

519
01:13:50.040 –> 01:13:51.240
Jacob Stoops: So, suck it being

520
01:13:53.070 –> 01:13:54.990
Ian Howells: That they’ve been doing that for years already there.

521
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.

522
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.

523
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

524
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.

525
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.

526
01:14:42.450 –> 01:14:47.610
Ian Howells: To filtering up. Who are the domains that are kind of owning this space.

527
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.

528
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

529
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

530
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.

531
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.

532
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

533
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.

534
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

535
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.

536
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

537
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.

538
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.

539
01:16:47.250 –> 01:16:48.660
Ian Howells: And so, it all goes to them.

540
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.

541
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

542
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.

543
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.

544
01:17:38.430 –> 01:17:40.590
Jeff Louella: You just need Hamlet write you a script and play.

545
01:17:43.140 –> 01:17:43.500
Ian Howells: Button.

546
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.

547
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.

548
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

549
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.

550
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

551
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.

552
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.

553
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.

554
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

555
01:19:22.560 –> 01:19:26.460
Ian Howells: You get a little bit pigeonholed into one way of doing things.

556
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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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Jeff Louella: Anyways, rent.

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Right.

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Ian Howells: Yes.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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,

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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.

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Jacob Stoops: That’s awkward. That’s

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Jeff Louella: The Rings Kelly appreciate

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Jacob Stoops: It was a great discussion.

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Ian Howells: Now awesome I fun. Thanks for having me guess. Awesome. Thank you.running 

#35: Sarah McDowell

Episode Summary

In this episode, we talk with Sarah McDowell, SEO Specialist at LikeMind Media and Co-Host of the SEO SAS Podcast, a podcast that delves into individual SEO issues each week.

We discuss how she went from a background in dance to a digital marketing role focused on link building and then eventually into a career in SEO, her experiences going between agencies and in-house roles, founding her own business and eventually shutting it down, the challenges and psychology of getting stuff implemented, and more.

In addition, we cover and share our perspective on a recent SEO “kerfuffle” around the subject of hiring for SEO and interview questions which stems from a tweet put out by Bill Hartzer which caused a few side-eyes in the industry (here, here, here).

And to round out this episode, we dive deep into what went into founding her podcast, and we share our experiences on what it’s like to run an SEO podcast, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a podcast come to life.

Episode Transcript

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Jacob Stoops: Hey everybody this is Jacob stoops and we are here for another episode of the Page 2 Podcast. Hi, Jeff. How’s it going?

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Jeff Louella: It’s going well. How you doing?

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Jacob Stoops: That’s, I feel like our bit, Jeff. You’ve got it. You’ve got to come like…

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Jeff Louella: I gotta come stronger.

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Jacob Stoops: Well no, you come the same way every week and I feel like you got

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Jacob Stoops: To like keep

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Jacob Stoops: me on my toes in terms of I’m not very good at figuring out a great way to introduce it’s you. Maybe I’ll just do the introductions and you introduce me

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Jeff Louella: We’ve got this. Come up with my own recorded drop and it’ll be like a mega like coming soon.

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Jacob Stoops: And we also have as a guest from across the pond Sarah McDowell, SEO specialist at LikeMind Media, and you might better know her as the host of the SEO SAS podcast. How’s it going, Sarah.

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Sarah McDowell: I am thrilled to be on your podcast. So things are going really well for me. How about you guys?

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Jacob Stoops: Pretty good, pretty good. It’s getting as my kids are reminded we’re about two weeks away from from Christmas and Christmas time and holiday time in agency world is. It’s crazy, man. It’s, it’s been crazy

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Jeff Louella: It’s crazy that it just dies. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah. And everybody goes on PTO

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Sarah McDowell: See, for me it squeeze in the same amount of work that needs to be done, but in less time. So obviously, instead of I’ve only really got two and a half weeks to still do all the jobs that I need to do. So it’s a bit of a headache, but yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, it’s the life we live, it’s nice to have another podcaster on with us.

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Sarah McDowell: Likewise, it’s nice to talk to a fellow podcaster,

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Sarah McDowell: Is

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Jacob Stoops: Before we jumped on that this was the first podcast where you’ve actually been a guest.

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Sarah McDowell: Yes, so please be kind and please be gentle with me. Haha.

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Jacob Stoops: That’s what the that’s what the last people said, I’m wondering if we’re

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A reputation. That’s funny.

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Sarah McDowell: Cuz I’ve been listening to your podcasts and yeah, I’ve just got em. It’s a good one. So one night me as a guest. I want to do well. So, yes, but

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Sarah McDowell: It’s my first time and but after today we have been invited to be on another one. So I think so and but yeah it’s weird to not have control of the podcast, I’m not gonna lie.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, if you’re if you’re a can. And I’m not saying you’re a control freak. But if you are a control freak. This is probably really difficult.

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Sarah McDowell: Patient comfortable now. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.

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Jacob Stoops: So I especially with with your podcast. Obviously, I, I feel like the the way that we booked guests has been very, very organic in terms of like

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Jacob Stoops: There are people that are known. I feel like commodities and have been for some time in the industry and, and when I sat down, about a year ago and tried to figure out, okay, like what do I want to do with the podcast, who do I want on

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Jacob Stoops: In even this year there are definitely names that I feel like they come up and all the conferences like the you, you know, you can bet you could almost like

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Jacob Stoops: Put mug shots or whatever, whatever. And but one of the other things that has happened that I’ve noticed and why I say it’s very organic and not really

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Jacob Stoops: I don’t really think the way that we put guests is stale is if you’re if you’re following SEO on the on the Twitter. I feel like especially recently there been a lot of newer people that have come across my

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Jacob Stoops: Feed that I have found very interesting and when I find that to be the case. I say, I think I want to talk to them.

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Jacob Stoops: And you happen to be to be one of those people that I would say is a little bit and I don’t know how long you’ve been doing this. We’ll get into

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Jacob Stoops: Into that. But as far as it relates to me, noticing your presence on Twitter. Um, I would say that’s been more more recent and especially because you’re a fellow podcaster, I was like, I really think it would be great.

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Jacob Stoops: TO HAVE YOU ON so that’s that’s why you’re here and you were gracious enough to say yes and to to come on and I think we’re really interested to hear your story.

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Sarah McDowell: Okay, so, um, how do I start. That’s the question. And so, I mean, I, I sort of fell into SEO to be to be completely honest, so I sorry

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Jacob Stoops: Yes. Does everybody

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Sarah McDowell: Well, actually, I got a degree and dancing and realized that it was far too competitive and the best. I was better at African

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Sarah McDowell: And then any of the principal and then I couldn’t make a living. So I was like, right, what can I do

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Sarah McDowell: And I basically applied for a reception role as an SEO company that had been filled but they wanted to grow their link building team. So that’s where I started. And that was 2012, I believe. And so how many years ago. Is that, is that my six or seven. I’m not very good with math.

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Sarah McDowell: And so, so yes and i i was working in that agency for a good few years and I learned everything on the job. So I started from the bottom sort of link building

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Sarah McDowell: And and then I did content and content outreach and I just was there for about four years and I grew in the company sort of thing.

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Sarah McDowell: And then after been there for about four years. I then went to work in house because I was like, Okay, so I’ve got agency. I want to know what it’s like to work in house and how different that is obviously with agency, you’ve got the sort of

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Sarah McDowell: Different companies that you’re working for different industries different challenges. So I was like, Okay. Wonder if it’s less of a headache. If it’s just internal. And so, yes. So I did that for a bit.

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Sarah McDowell: And then I did that for a couple of companies and then I finally so I did have my own

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Sarah McDowell: Sort of marketing digital marketing agency for a bit and I got lonely. To be completely honest and and pull my boss.

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Sarah McDowell: I sort of knew like he was a friend and he was like, Oh, why don’t you just join like mind media and which is where I work. Now, and and he bought me in so

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Sarah McDowell: Whenever we hire someone he wants to hire someone that has a specialism in some sort. So obviously I came in with my SEO and and I sort of

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Sarah McDowell: Went with him, like all I’ve got an idea to do a podcast and i mean i don’t know if I’m like jumping ahead a bit ahead of myself better. And can I go in and talk about how the podcast came about is that, does that make sense. Let’s

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Jacob Stoops: Let’s leave that to the

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To the end because I

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Jacob Stoops: Questions for you and I definitely want to deep dive on the on the podcast, towards the end of the episode. So let’s let’s let’s wait on that one will get back to it and let’s talk about you outside of the podcast.

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Sarah McDowell: Okay well me as an individual in the SEO world.

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Sarah McDowell: Okay, well, yes. So I basically am so like I said, I fell into and I just love it because I mean this is the cliche, but we all know that Google is changing.

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Sarah McDowell: Like what worked 510 years ago. Doesn’t work now and i i can get quite bored as a person. I’m a bit flaky and friends reference there.

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Sarah McDowell: And so that so SEO kind of suits me because it’s always changing and you’ve got to sort of be ahead of the game, haven’t you, you’ve always got to

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Sarah McDowell: Be reading what’s what’s what’s going to industry events and stuff and and day to day activities. Wow, it’s like

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Sarah McDowell: Every day. So how I sort of work with my clients. So how clients come on board is like, Oh, I’ve got an issue with something

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Sarah McDowell: And they reach out and then they say, well, what, why is this. Can you help me. So then it’s finding what the reasons why basically behind if I if I’m making sense. And so I like to sort of diagnostic

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Sarah McDowell: And put in my sort of investigators hat on and also just trying stuff and

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Sarah McDowell: Like tried and tried and things on a client’s website and seeing if it works. If it doesn’t work, then we always transparent and say why we’ll try something new.

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Sarah McDowell: But at the same time, it’s great when you try something and it does work and they get an increase in traffic or they get an increase in rankings or the type of traffic is better for conversion sort of thing.

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Jacob Stoops: So I have to ask, you’ve been in what I call agency world three times, but you also dabbled in house which which do you like better, and why

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Sarah McDowell: Oh right, I’m going to say agency, just because and with agency, you get to work with lots of different industries.

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Sarah McDowell: And with different industries comes like different sort of challenges and problems. And so when I was working in house. Yes, you get really good and you can nation and industry.

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Sarah McDowell: However, and so when I was working for in house. It was for assistance firm and however I prefer more agency, because it’s more varied and you get to try new things out.

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Sarah McDowell: And and especially when it comes to SEO and things that I can dabble and try as agency. Where is if I’m just stuck in house working on one service, for example, and I don’t get to try new things as much

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, I feel sometimes. So I’ve always worked in agencies and never worked in house and

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Jeff Louella: Sometimes I do, I feel like I hit a limit on the agency side where

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Jeff Louella: You know, I’m giving recommendations to my client who either has a development team or has hired a separate development team.

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Jeff Louella: And sometimes they have different priorities right so now i don’t i’m always the outside person looking in. And a lot of my companies that I’m working for where I feel like if I went in house.

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Jeff Louella: I could be in there badgering them every day to get installed. But then once it’s implemented, you’re right. I think after a while you just like after working on the same site. And I think it’s why I’ve always stayed at agencies because

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Jeff Louella: Like I have a team and I can do a lot of in house people you’re one person.

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Jeff Louella: And you know you have a team we we actually get to definitely work on different things, all the times and and clients really like to mess up their sites, a lot and and we’re there to that we’re always there to be able to help and I feel like I get a lot more

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Jeff Louella: I get exposed to a lot more

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Jeff Louella: Being at the agency level, but sometimes I don’t feel like I get as deep as I want to get where you could probably get in house but

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I think yes.

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Sarah McDowell: Yeah, that’s a really good point, actually. So obviously, if you are in house. Then you’ve got sort of one focus and you can spend more time.

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Sarah McDowell: Because the one thing with agency and is you’ve only got a finite amount of time and we could all do with one more day and also it’s sort of juggling

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Sarah McDowell: What the client sees as a priority and what really is a priority. And so I have conversations with clients quite a lot of time where they deemed something more important.

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Sarah McDowell: Than something else that I want to work on and it’s the challenge of sort of proving okay what you want to work on is important, however, and

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Sarah McDowell: That, for example, when when when the medic update that was quite a while ago now as first day that I could think of the top of my head.

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Sarah McDowell: And there was quite, quite a few of my clients, where they needed to, especially the clients that we’re working in like given many advice medical advice there was work to be done there on sort of

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Sarah McDowell: On their about page and on the team page and getting the expertise across. And that’s what I wanted to work on, whereas they wanted to work on other things like the fluffier stuff that looks good to you. I mean, and

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Sarah McDowell: That’s the challenge really isn’t it is managing clients expectations and getting the point across that this is what needs to be worked on. And this is why

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Jacob Stoops: I always feel like, Well, I’ve said it, like many, many, many times. The hardest part of SEO is implementation, and I believe that that occurs.

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Jacob Stoops: Whether you’re in house or whether you’re at an agency.

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Jacob Stoops: I think the benefit of going in house and like sometimes when I’m at an agency, because I’ve jumped back and forth a couple of times you’re

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Jacob Stoops: You’re sometimes always yearning, a little bit for like the grass is grass is greener and sometimes when I’m when you know when you’re getting bombarded with a bunch of different industries, a bunch of different clients sometimes crazy work hours.

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Jacob Stoops: You’re always like, Man, I wish I could just for once, focus on one site for a finite amount of time and

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Sarah McDowell: See it

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Jacob Stoops: Through but then when I get there, I realized just like Jeff said, I’m the only one of my team. And at a certain point, like, especially if you’re having difficulty getting things implemented it gets quite

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Jacob Stoops: Boring. So I’ve found over the years that I just for in again in house SEOs are awesome. But I found for me.

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Jacob Stoops: The agency side tends to work a little bit more. But what I was getting to

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Jacob Stoops: Is the idea that sometimes implementation is really hard and it becomes an exercise in psychology. And what I mean by that is, how can I convince this third party to do

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Jacob Stoops: What they what I need them to do in order to make myself my agency their site successful and sometimes you really have to think about

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Jacob Stoops: Psychologically, what can you say to them to make them or what can you show them to make them want to change their minds which can be difficult because people don’t like

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Jacob Stoops: Change and there’s often egos involved in different priorities and that’s part of the fun, especially on in quote unquote agency world being kind of on the outside.

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Jacob Stoops: Looking in making the case to get your stuff implemented because you do have a short time window. It’s one of the greatest challenges we all face.

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Sarah McDowell: And it does at a date. Now, if you guys and what strictly Strictly Come Dancing or, you know, the UK strictly and but there was a judge on that she’s not anymore but darcey bussell so the

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Sarah McDowell: ballerina and this will be relevant, I promise. And when she was given feedback to dances. She’d always give the darcey bussell shit sandwich. And were you sort of

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Sarah McDowell: So you start with the positive, then you go with the negative and then you go with the positive again and I sort of. That’s how I sort of approach clients and stuff. So say for example, a client has just

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Sarah McDowell: They’ve got a new website and then they’ve come to you to SEO it. Yeah. And in that, and that’s what they actually say, oh, can you just SEO. This sign is that okay

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Sarah McDowell: Yeah, I’ve got issues with you to say that, but hey, I will will get over that. But yeah, but it’s sort of say, and you realize that the site isn’t

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Sarah McDowell: technically sound for SEO and that’s where the shit sandwich comes in. So I always try and find a positive to say. So if I can find something about user experience or page speed, for example, I’ll start with that.

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Sarah McDowell: And then I’ll say. However, this is not so good because this is the reasons why. And this is the opportunities and and yeah and then now end on a high as well. So there you go. The Darcy associate sandwich.

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Jacob Stoops: So I actually know more about dancing, then you might think

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Jacob Stoops: Said, I’m not a drama terrible dancer. My wife grew up as a as a dancer and why that’s relevant. Now it’s because you mentioned like one of the only dance shows that she probably doesn’t watch

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Jacob Stoops: But she watches literally every dance reality TV show. Well,

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Jacob Stoops: I’m sure that there are more than this, but like we have watched dancing with the stars like every season since we’ve been together, which is going on like over a decade.

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Jacob Stoops: Now, and also. So You Think You Can Dance. I’m pretty well versed in dance reality shows and I’m actually surprised that I did not know that one.

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Sarah McDowell: Straight king. I mean, yes, I mean it’s the UK one. I mean, it’s coming to an end. Now, but that’s been on everyone’s wow that’s what me and my girlfriend watch

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Jacob Stoops: favorite type of dance.

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Sarah McDowell: Oh,

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Sarah McDowell: Well, I’ve not dancing, very long time. But when I was at university studying it. I preferred African peoples dance. So my course was dancing culture. So you got to do five different principles.

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Sarah McDowell: So we did African Khattak which is a Indian style of dancing ballet. I was rubbish at ballet, because it was just too strict can get on that and contemporary and cartography so African peoples dance was the form that I enjoyed the most

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Jacob Stoops: So I would say I think contemporary is the one that always in and I, my wife is a major crier. And I’m like, I would say I’m a minor crier like I get. I get a little bit emotional and I feel like contemporary always kind of brings that brings that out.

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Jacob Stoops: But then I would say in terms of like just really cool to watch. Um, it’s called POP POP locking

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Jacob Stoops: I can’t remember the name

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Sarah McDowell: But it took a night sweet so

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Jacob Stoops: Walking like quick robotic movements. I always find that fascinating.

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To watch

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Jacob Stoops: Jeff, can you pop luck.

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Jeff Louella: I could do the robot like it’s like

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Sarah McDowell: Me you

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Jeff Louella: Know, I am not a good dancer whatsoever. I do like to dance to embarrass my kids.

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What’s a good

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Sarah McDowell: One.

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Jacob Stoops: Fact in the, the only other dance thing that I’m that I’m going to talk about if you search YouTube for Jake and Gina wedding dance.

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Jacob Stoops: I’m all over that we actually did a choreographed dance at our wedding with

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Jacob Stoops: Something like 18 total bridesmaids and groomsmen

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Jacob Stoops: flippin oh yeah it was it was crazy.

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Sarah McDowell: I’ll be checking that out straight after this podcast.

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Jeff Louella: Check it out right now while we’re on it.

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Sarah McDowell: Multitasking is fine.

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Jacob Stoops: Fun. Cool.

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Jacob Stoops: Awesome, man.

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Jeff Louella: No, I don’t know much about dancing, but

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Jeff Louella: No, I mean, I

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Jeff Louella: I’m kind of been going through some of these new things and wanted to think we should jump into one of those or

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Jacob Stoops: Hold on, I wanted to ask, I wanted to ask about link building and what it’s like, because we’ve had. I feel like a lot of the people that we have on tend to lean technical

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Jacob Stoops: More so than more so than anything. And we’ve had a few that have come on from the content and link building

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Jacob Stoops: Side of the house. And as somebody that’s been doing that for a long time. I guess I would ask you, Sarah, what’s, what is that like, and how do you feel like that has shaped your

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Jacob Stoops: Perspective on the available, I would say the available options to you as an SEO because I feel like there are some people that just don’t do link building because they either think it’s bad or risky or just not something they’re comfortable doing so, like, how is

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Jeff Louella: None of them.

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Sarah McDowell: Oh really, well, I mean, so obviously when I, when I first got into SEO and I was doing link building. I am going to put my hands up and say that I did.

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Sarah McDowell: And I mean I don’t do it anymore. But I did tend to do more with the

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Sarah McDowell: The bad, sort of, well, not the bad but like them, you know, the more spammy ways of lie on a forum and you get like a link and somehow or you just go on that directories and and you know like back in the day, sort of,

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Sarah McDowell: link building that worked. Where is now. And Google has sort of Google is prioritizing sort of quality and value of the link and relevancy as well.

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Sarah McDowell: And so I have found so obviously because of that link building nowadays. It takes a lot more time and a lot more effort needs to

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Sarah McDowell: Go into it, but you do get rewarded and link links are always going to be the bread and butter, because that’s you hear that a lot of data that or you don’t need to link build anymore.

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Sarah McDowell: That’s not SEO. You don’t need to. But you still do, it’s still going to be one of those fundamentals, it’s still going to be one of the things that Google looks at

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Sarah McDowell: And and there’s different ways that you can go about link building. And so, for example,

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Sarah McDowell: One way that I will always do is I always do competitive research at first. So using tools to find out where where competitors have got links and seeing where I can

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Sarah McDowell: My right like opportunities for my clients. And I also think of content. So obviously, and creating high value content that shareable and it’s not just like a boring.

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Sarah McDowell: Boring Stuff, but things like content that’s actually going to make someone stop and read and think, Okay, this is going to help me so I don’t know you doing original research or doing something that that’s emotional. So whether it’s funny. If it’s and makes you cry sort of thing.

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Sarah McDowell: And so obviously when you’ve put your time aside to put together this content. It’s then reaching out and to then get people to link to it. Also, there’s another way. So say you’re doing an expert piece and you could invite

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Sarah McDowell: Seven experts in your industry and to contribute to a piece you then outreach to them and let them know because they’ll link back to you sort of thing. And I mean, I do think

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Sarah McDowell: There is a tendency that some companies will think, oh, if I make content that is really valuable and really good links will just come to me.

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Sarah McDowell: Where is is as idealistic as that is, you do need some work. And you do need to put it in front of people and tell people about it.

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Sarah McDowell: And but yeah so but you could also do something that’s a bit PR and so Brighton SEO and there was a talk by Oliver Brett who works at Screaming Frog.

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Sarah McDowell: And and he was like showing how you can sort of use fake news. Now I know fake news sort of gets a bit of a bad rap. But there is times where you can

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Sarah McDowell: Buy fake news as. Okay. So, for example, and like, I don’t know. And there was a football game and championship game or something and

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Sarah McDowell: And it was a it was England vs FRANCE, IT WAS THIS T shirt that would have the England flag. But then when you’re around people from France In France supporters, it would turn into a French flag.

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Sarah McDowell: And they put this product on the website, obviously it wasn’t a real product. It was just something fun.

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Sarah McDowell: And and yeah they got that into the news and people wanted to link build to it and another good example that I’ve seen. And so, Carrie Rose, who heads up an agency link building agency and who has been a

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Sarah McDowell: guest on our show. And so there’s game in the UK and they came up together they came up with a Christmas, Christmas dinner so is Christmas dinner.

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Sarah McDowell: All in a can, for gamers and and then I optimize the site for that and did a vegan and veggie virgin version and then reached out to

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Sarah McDowell: The PR and newspapers and stuff like that and like the genome or large Bible and again they so I don’t know, I feel like I’m blabbing but I don’t know if that’s given some insight that yeah

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Jacob Stoops: I think the key is in today’s world, like the the easy stuff. It just doesn’t work. It’s the stuff that you had that it’s hard and link building shouldn’t be hard in in any links that you’re building should be hard one. And you should have to be creative and I think

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Jacob Stoops: Those tend to be the ones that at least Google says that they value, more so than the ones that are a little bit more artificial in spammy. But one thing I wanted to say is when people talk about link building a lot of folks really think about it from an external

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Jacob Stoops: Standpoint, in terms of third party site linking to your website. And when I I think about link building. I think one of the most underrated aspects of link building is internal links.

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Sarah McDowell: Yes.

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Jacob Stoops: Or no link building right

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Sarah McDowell: A lot of

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Jacob Stoops: I’m dealing with a situation right now where we’ve got on one of my clients. We went from not having a lot of pages that talked about their product to over the course of this year, building those out.

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Jacob Stoops: The problem exist is exists is that they talk about their product on their on their blog quite a lot, but because these product pages are so new, they don’t have a lot of links within the site.

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Jeff Louella: Yes.

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Jeff Louella: Okay, let’s take this these

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Jacob Stoops: thousand or so blog pages because you’re not putting these product links in your navigation yet so they’re not site wide. Well, let’s increase the importance by

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Jacob Stoops: Looking at any time you’re mentioning the product in your blog post, but it’s not linked and you can pretty easily use screening frogs not

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Sarah McDowell: Interaction search feature to go and look

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Jacob Stoops: For any instances of where you’re mentioning a specific word or phrase across your website and boom, those are unlinked dimensions within your own website easy and there’s

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Jeff Louella: A there’s actually WordPress plugins that would actually if these were

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Jeff Louella: Just as your blog that would, you would automatically just say these are the terms link here and it anytime a blog post was written.

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Jeff Louella: It would do that at Zappos actually used to do that internally when foot product reviews.

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Jeff Louella: Anytime. If you would say like these Nike sneakers are awesome and they would just highlight Nike automatically in a review like as a reviewer. I’m not linking to that page.

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Jeff Louella: I think they recently stopped doing that probably little spammy but but it was internal so there was one of those where they weren’t linking out there, creating internal links that way. So,

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Jacob Stoops: Let’s go. Oh, go ahead. Sarah.

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Sarah McDowell: No, I was just gonna say, I think a lot of businesses, Miss, miss a big opportunity with their homepage with internal linking

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Sarah McDowell: And especially like seasonal and opportunities. So if you’ve got a Christmas promotion or Christmas products that over the Christmas season, for example, or that’s all the way around, or maybe

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Sarah McDowell: You’ve put together this really good bit of content that is adding value. It’s got research. It’s got experts and people just forget to use the homepage to link to it because

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Sarah McDowell: And so, Hannah co host of the SEO SAS podcast came up with a really nice analogy. So when you’re thinking of like internal linking. You got to think of the homepage is the trunk. So that’s the core. And that’s the structure

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Sarah McDowell: And then you’ve got the branches. The first lots of branches and that’s sort of like your first

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Sarah McDowell: Two pages that are coming off that and then you’ve got a leaves as well, which you child pages. And I thought that was a nice way to think of how like how you sigh in the sort of how you can use it sort of thing.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, and and it that actually as you were saying that reminded me of some of the newer visualization tools that some of the crawlers have come out with. And I’ve never thought of it as like an actual tree, but

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Jacob Stoops: Start thinking about it.

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Jacob Stoops: That way.

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Sarah McDowell: It just makes sense because like your home. I think people forget and I mean this is a bugbear of mine is when people don’t like we don’t need much text on the homepage. That’s just have like put your pictures and it’s just like now.

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Sarah McDowell: That is just a missed opportunity there. And yeah, so I mean

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Jacob Stoops: Most powerful page people

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Jacob Stoops: What people can’t see is me shaking

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Jacob Stoops: Not actually shaking myself but shaking up a fake client.

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Sarah McDowell: And one more. One more point on this is some people. I did have a conversation with a client. And they were just like they didn’t. They were worried that

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Sarah McDowell: Their homepage was going to be too long, like scrolling wise and it was like that is the that’s the wrong point here that it wasn’t even that long at all. But yeah.

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Jeff Louella: It was funny. A check our website that had like this gigantic like look like an HTML site map at the bottom of their homepage.

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Jeff Louella: With like every link to their whole site. I just went to go pulled up the kind of talk about it, and it seemed like they remove that it might have been just for the holidays. They put that in there so

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Jeff Louella: It was a company off of Amazon own called eating. I like to go in Amazon’s footer and look at all the companies they list every company, they kind of own or work with at the bottom and

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Jeff Louella: It was one. I was like, I never heard of this one. And I clicked on it and it, it literally was a hero image and then like an HTML site map underneath it for every single like category product page they had

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Jeff Louella: Which I kind of liked because it got me through the site as quick as I could.

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Sarah McDowell: Again, no point in being

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Jeff Louella: You and I think that’s probably why they did it. So it was interesting. It’s not there now.

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Jacob Stoops: Jeff, I, I, I’ve got one more question, because I know you’re chomping at the bit to get to the news and I know that I also have a rant. So I want to get to that.

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Jacob Stoops: But Sarah, you mentioned you were, you were at an agency, not at you created an agency and then you decided not to do it anymore. Like what, what went into into that.

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Sarah McDowell: Okay, so basically I’m always up for trying something new, which is why I do a podcast. That’s how I got into roller derby. And so I’m always if someone says. Also, why don’t you try. I’m gonna try basically so

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Sarah McDowell: It was after a conversation. So when I went at my last service in house. For this list, as I mentioned earlier,

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Sarah McDowell: And they were mentioning that they were going to get rid of internal marketing and outsource at all. So obviously I had to go and find myself for the job and I, my boss at the time, not the boss now, but he was really

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Sarah McDowell: It was just quite an inspirational because he he was just like Sarah, you’ve got so I obviously had some connections still

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Sarah McDowell: And with the clients from that business because even though. Yes, I worked internally for DHL we also had like another branch which offered external marketing services.

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Sarah McDowell: And I saw and I had good relationships with the clients and and my boss at the time, just like you should try going on your own.

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Sarah McDowell: When you go on your own. It’s not like you have to start from scratch. You’ve already got it was about three or four clients to start with.

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Sarah McDowell: And when I approached them and said look, and the company is closing but I decided to go on my own. And would you

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Sarah McDowell: If I, if that’s the case, which would be happy if I carried on. And everyone was supportive and they’re like, Yes. And so, yeah, I did that for a bit and

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Sarah McDowell: The company, may I made profit which I’m told in your first year, not many businesses do

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Sarah McDowell: But because it was digital. I didn’t really have that many costs, overhead costs. So it was quite lucrative isn’t it is the word is

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Sarah McDowell: And and yeah and it just got to a point where yes, I was making money and I could pay the bills and I had this flexibility. I just got lonely and I because I’m

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Sarah McDowell: I like being part of a team and I just felt like I missed having conversations with that because obviously I could have conversations

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Sarah McDowell: online or at live events and stuff but I missed the live internal conversations where you also have

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Sarah McDowell: You care about this one thing that you’re working towards, and it was if something bad happened and which is part and parcel of owning a business that failed on me something good happened. It was like a one person party.

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Sarah McDowell: And yeah, it just got to a point where I just decided that being a savvy business, business woman wasn’t for me and and yeah decided to but and I did speak to. So when I was going through that and running my business.

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Sarah McDowell: I did know my boss now at my my media Paul and I was always honest with him. And that’s when he was like, well,

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Sarah McDowell: You can come and work for, for me, and you still have the flexibility but you have the support and you’ll be working with a team and and that, so. So yes, I can say that I’ve tried it, but it wasn’t for me basically

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Jeff Louella: It’s, it’s tough. I mean, even just running a team can be tough, but let alone having to

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Jeff Louella: Deal with people live people’s livelihood and things like that. It’s I it’s funny. I always had the in my head, I’m like, I always want to start a business.

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Jeff Louella: And then I get to positions where I need to like I’m in charge of someone like whether they have a paycheck.

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Jeff Louella: And things like that and it gets a little scary sometimes and I realized like, you know, I, I’m really great at solving problems and solving like

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Jeff Louella: Technical issues on SEOs for SEO and things like that. I’m not great at HR, that is the one thing that you really need to be to

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Jeff Louella: To to run a company right it’s more you have to be a people person and and sometimes I just don’t have that empathy and me when the little I’m just like, Is your work done know and it’s like, well, I don’t care about anything else. And it’s not the right way to do it because

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Jeff Louella: I know like I need to connect a little bit better with my co workers, let alone if I was actually the one in charge of everything in there so it. I totally get wanting to go back and being part of part of the team and

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Jeff Louella: There’s a special breed, to be able to run it all.

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Sarah McDowell: And it’s like when because when you’re in a team. You can you can stay up to date with stuff that’s happening more because you have conversations date. Yeah. And or say you want to try some new

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Sarah McDowell: I’m always like, I always think it’s good to get a second opinion or just wouldn’t do ideas with someone else or get get someone’s the perspective or the point of view. And I just felt like I didn’t really have that when I was on on my own. I mean, get your small violin out for me.

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Sarah McDowell: I’m much better.

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Sarah McDowell: Rather than yeah I’m about to be in part of a team and having security of not being my own boss.

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Jeff Louella: Right. I think my part of my issue is I treat everyone equally. And he can when you’re in equally as in like mean you can do the same amount of work or same everything and

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Jeff Louella: When you’re the CEO, I would expect everyone to be CEO.

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Jeff Louella: So that’s it for part

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Sarah McDowell: One of our one of our clients and that they one of their things that they say is that they don’t have a business hierarchy, which I think is

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Sarah McDowell: Quite interesting so it’s like a flat structure. I think it’s a trend that businesses. Try and know how it’s like over the pond sort of thing.

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Sarah McDowell: And this idea that everyone is the same and, naturally, you do get leaders, don’t you, but the fact is that everyone is sort of treated equally, as it were, and and yeah I thought that was really interesting to have his case, we

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Jeff Louella: Were in a fairly flat organization Jake and I, and it has its pluses and minuses. And you know, I think when it comes down to if everyone is equal, then yeah, you need to have those natural leaders come out to to be able to run things and

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Jeff Louella: Though I think when your natural leader at that point. It’s like, you like to be crammed a leader in a way and edify the organization. You’re not so it’s

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Jeff Louella: I think there are some people who are definitely we have different titles and different levels.

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Jeff Louella: But when it comes to like reporting, we have two major departments with two major department heads and they kind of are in charge of all the direct you know raises and promotions and things like that everyone else is pretty much equal underneath there, even though there are levels of

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Jeff Louella: Positions, it really comes down to, like, what kind of work, you’ll be doing and

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Jeff Louella: But when it comes down to the HR type of stuff. You are all equal. So

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Jacob Stoops: How much scratch you’re making. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: And let me tell you in flat companies like don’t let anybody fool you, everybody’s not equal.

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Jacob Stoops: The CEO and the upper level people like they’re making the most scratch. All right, they’re making the most money. So I’ve got my. I’m not going to go on a rant. Here I’ve got my problems with flat organizations like

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Jacob Stoops: I don’t have a problem with search discovery and their, their format. It’s much more hierarchical than the last place I came from, in which I had a real real big problem.

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Jacob Stoops: With the level of flatness in the organization and the lack of advancement and money advancement opportunities. So anyways, yeah. Let’s go to the news.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, and I’ve kind of flows right into this. You kind of HR owning an agency being in charge of hiring.

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Jeff Louella: I don’t know if everyone’s seen, but Bill hearts are kind of put out a question on Twitter yesterday.

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Jeff Louella: Basically saying if I was hiring someone for an SEO position. What questions what I asked him, and then he goes and says he’ll start and his first question would be,

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Jeff Louella: What is the Google Florida update and why was it so significant part of the SEO history and basically says if they can answer that he’ll hire the wrong spot and followed by a million responses about how he’s old school and a boomer

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Jeff Louella: And different things in there, but I guess question would have, like, you know, if it’s a good question. In general, and I think we all have different ways of of hiring and you know me personally when it comes to

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Jeff Louella: When I am kind of in charge of hiring and when I’ve had positions where I was.

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Jeff Louella: Solely in charge of hiring I’m, I’m a very

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Jeff Louella: Like I say bad, but I am. I’m not gonna say thorough either but I make people do presentations.

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Jeff Louella: I like to give them a site and say whether it’s your first SEO job or you’re coming in as a director. I like to give you

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Jeff Louella: A project and basically say, because I’m going to learn. Way more than your resume shows me

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Jeff Louella: When you sit down and tell me what’s wrong with the site and I’m never saying like, give me a two hour presentation. It’s always like 30 minutes

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Jeff Louella: If you are for the brand new in SEO. Maybe it’s give me you know presentation on five reasons why contents. Good.

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Jeff Louella: Another one, like if you were coming in more advanced, I will give you a site that I know not only ever use my own clients, cuz I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to get free work.

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Jeff Louella: But I’ll pick a site out there and just say, Hey, here’s a website, you know, give me a quick audit and then present me your findings and that way I can see your thinking behind everything

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Jeff Louella: So I actually before even as questions that I like to have a good presentation. Like, I’m like client, because then I know if I could stick someone in front of a client.

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Jeff Louella: But when it comes to questions like, What kind of questions do you all ask

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Sarah McDowell: Oh, is it is it me fast.

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Jeff Louella: There you go. We’ll go you first, sir.

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Sarah McDowell: Hey, I am so, so just confirm the question. So what so

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Jeff Louella: You know, if you were when you were hiring someone what kind of questions would you ask them.

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Sarah McDowell: Okay, so I would ask and first and foremost there. So if life experiences.

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Sarah McDowell: And and what what they’ve done in in SEO sort of thing. And what what what what are the challenges that they’ve found just just talk to them and have a conversation, because I think

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Sarah McDowell: When you have a honest face to face conversation with someone, it’s quite obvious straight away, whether they know what they’re talking about, or not.

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Sarah McDowell: And so a thing. And then I also am so depending when the conversations happened I might bring up like the latest updates that have happened.

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Sarah McDowell: Because obviously, Google is always updating its algorithm. And it’s constantly changing and the times where an update will be given a name is because it’s affected or this is my understanding, though.

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Sarah McDowell: But it’s affected enough sites that there’s been enough chatter chatter in the industry.

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Sarah McDowell: And then all of a sudden, we’ve got a name for it sort of thing. So, so I’ll have that conversation and see. Okay. Because if you are passionate about SEO. And one thing that you’re going to be on the lookout for is how it’s changing you I mean

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Sarah McDowell: And and other things as well. So not just Google’s core algorithm, but other things. So, for example, bet and how

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Sarah McDowell: How Google can now use that to better understand and users intent and keywords and stuff like that. So having conversations like that.

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Sarah McDowell: And I’d also ask them sort of their, their goals and their aspirations sort of thing and where they want to be and what they want to do.

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Sarah McDowell: And I’d like some proof like some. I don’t know if they could come to the interview and sort of say, this is what I’m really proud of this is, this is what I did for a client.

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Sarah McDowell: And this was the results. And this is why it’s so good sort of thing. Because I think if you’ve got proof of what they’ve done. And because there’s a lot of people who can talk the talk isn’t there.

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Sarah McDowell: But when it actually comes to doing it. So it’d be good to actually see some proof of that. And, and I don’t know. I mean, maybe check them out a bit before so I see if they’ve got like a Twitter profile or a LinkedIn profile or and just see what sort of

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Sarah McDowell: If they’re getting involved in SEO to to chatter or and things like that.

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Sarah McDowell: And I don’t know, and

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Jeff Louella: No, that’s great. I think

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Jeff Louella: It’s funny, I take an approach like that to an extent where I get to try to just know the person because I know if I am working with them. I need to at least like them so they might have all the answers.

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Jeff Louella: And might be an amazing at that. But if we just don’t click. It’s not going to be fun for everybody. Right, so

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Sarah McDowell: No date you straight off, whether you’re going to click with someone

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Sarah McDowell: Or not.

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Jeff Louella: And within

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Sarah McDowell: A few jokes now.

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Jeff Louella: Time for bed dad jokes to so

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Jacob Stoops: The thing about interviews is like, I find it really difficult to assess somebody’s quality.

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Jacob Stoops: In a 30 minute interview or even an hour interview right you often don’t know somebody real true quality in terms of how they’re going to perform at work.

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Jacob Stoops: So you’ve worked with them for quite a while. So the for me. The, the basis of a, of an interview is do they seem to know what they’re talking about. Do they click in terms of their, their fit within both the role as well as where they’re going to be working

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Jacob Stoops: Are they, and I think this one’s really important are they naturally curious, do they want to learn more.

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Jacob Stoops: Do they have ambition. Are they competitive. Do they have Dr. Sarah. I also think, is it, it’s really important that they show

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Jacob Stoops: In this is what I find missing from most resumes that I look at actual tangible examples that prove out the results that you’ve actually driven results because you’re right.

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Jacob Stoops: Some people do talk a big game and then you get them in and you find that they’ve just got no clue. And they’re just faking it until they

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Sarah McDowell: Take it.

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Right.

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Jacob Stoops: I will say that this um so this tweet from Bill. I don’t know if he meant to like set off.

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Jacob Stoops: Set off the the Twitter swarm that can sometimes

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Jacob Stoops: Eat its own eat its own younger. Sometimes you have to watch out for SEO Twitter, man. If you say the wrong thing. They will

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Jacob Stoops: They will come after you. And so I want to be very clear. I don’t want to be

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Jacob Stoops: Perceived as like coming after Bill BC. So I’ve never met him, but he seems like a nice guy.

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Jacob Stoops: The question. So what is the Google Florida update and why was it such a significant part of SEO history to me in 2019 it’s like asking

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Jacob Stoops: A high schooler about a rotary phone like and why it’s so important to cell phones today and it’s just like, Okay, like I love history. I’m a huge history buff and and I’m a believer that if you don’t, if you aren’t aware of history, you’re not going to recognize it when it is

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Jacob Stoops: Coming back around in today’s age. However, this is not the same thing. This is apples to oranges in the Google Florida update. Not only has never played a role.

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Jacob Stoops: In in terms of my SEO work. I will say that it’s kind of like what is it back to the future with the timeline. So like if Google Florida update doesn’t happen then Google Panda in Google Penguin and all of these other

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Jacob Stoops: Needs never happen. Right. So it had to happen. And I’m glad it happened. But this thing happened in like the early 2000s before like 95% of the people that work in SEO are were even even thinking about SEO.

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Jacob Stoops: It was barely a thing. So like to ask somebody

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Jacob Stoops: If they remember that it’s like, Well, no, because I was in college or high school like no no not relevant, how they do their job today.

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Sarah McDowell: Show me. It’s better if someone can demonstrate like things that are happening now, or kitty chatter about what’s going to happen in the future and being hung up, and I think it’s a bit like traditionalist, isn’t it, I suppose, if that’s the right word to use.

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Sarah McDowell: But I do think some SEO is do you get a bit caught up on. I don’t know, like knowing your stuff and

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Sarah McDowell: I mean, I couldn’t sit and tell you, like all the updates that have happened you know i mean like

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Sarah McDowell: I do understand that and I’ve looked into me search how Google has an search engines and the internet has evolved because I find that interesting and but getting hung up on putting someone on the spot and being like, Tommy, what this is right now. Do you know what I mean, it’s just

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Sarah McDowell: It doesn’t feel. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: The last thing I’ll say, and I do want to move into the, into talking about the podcast is like

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Jacob Stoops: It’s not a freakin pop quiz. Right, we’re doing SEO, and for the most part, like, very few of my clients have ever been significantly impacted by

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Jacob Stoops: An algorithm update. And not only that, like my clients their problems tend to be way, way, way, way, way more basic and way more fundamental than

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Jacob Stoops: All of this stuff, especially Google Florida in which one no client has ever asked me about that and to I’ve only ever heard one other SEO outside of maybe SEO Twitter a few times actually mentioned it to me in an office setting.

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Jacob Stoops: And he mentioned it to me because he was reminiscing about the old days.

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Sarah McDowell: It just

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Sarah McDowell: It just fine today.

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Jacob Stoops: And that was it.

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Jeff Louella: So neither of you are getting hired just telling you because

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, suggested that they would walk out at the interview and I don’t think that I would do that but

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Jeff Louella: I mean, I honestly I think the answer is, hey, there’s been a million of them. I’d have to look that one back up but i mean i i was in the business that time but I I’m lucky I haven’t gotten hit by a couple algorithm updates, but only a couple over the last, you know, 1015 years so

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Jeff Louella: Nothing there was

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Jeff Louella: Nothing was irreversible and you know it’s like a lot of times it’s like hey your site’s not the quality like i mean i

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Jeff Louella: Don’t I didn’t even look up, Florida, but I can tell you, like that. It’s probably something to do with your site was not great quality or the links pointing seems like that’s what it is about

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Jeff Louella: So,

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Sarah McDowell: I do, I do have to believe them. And that same figure. So every time that Google was out a new update or changes the algorithm or do something different is all about make it better in the experience for the user.

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Sarah McDowell: As long as you’re doing that with your website. And that’s your goal, you should be all right with like penalties and stuff like, don’t get me wrong, you

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Sarah McDowell: People do get hit, and it’s completely unintentional because yeah like just happens, isn’t it, and the SEO world. But if you’re there, providing value.

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Sarah McDowell: Your website is accessible. You’re not deceiving Googled you know i mean like the key things if you’re always doing those those sort of things, then you should you should be okay.

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Sarah McDowell: You should. I mean, it’s a big should lie, but yeah.

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Sarah McDowell: So,

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Jacob Stoops: Tell us about your podcast, because I want to make sure we’ve got about 17 minutes left. And I’m going to apologize to the audience. I have a hard stop and that was bad planning on my part, but I want to make sure we talked about the SEO, SEM podcast.

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Sarah McDowell: I’m okay. Okay, well, yes. And so the SEO SAS podcast. And so it came on, it was born. And because me and my friend Hannah and I actually worked with her. So I know her.

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Sarah McDowell: And but we, it was a couple of years ago, and we were at Brighton SEO and like the big conference in the UK. And we saw that the SEO so of so attendees and speakers at the time.

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Sarah McDowell: Tend to be like male orientated. And that seemed to be like if you look to the ratio between male speakers and FEMALE SPEAKERS mayo.

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Sarah McDowell: Attendees and female attendees. It was more. So the males, it was, it seemed to be a male dominated industry at the time, obviously it’s getting better and better as time time is going on.

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Sarah McDowell: And but at the same time, you also saw a niche for a female lead SEO podcast and because we because after

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Sarah McDowell: After we went to Brighton SEO and we had this conversation. And then when I looked into podcasts. I had a conversation with Hannah was just like we’ve got an opportunity here.

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Sarah McDowell: And there’s there’s not that much female lead SEO really like just SEO podcast. And I think this is an opportunity and and I was quite passionate about it because

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Sarah McDowell: I wanted to like showcase other amazing females in the SEO community. And I also wanted to I think SEO gets a bad rap for being boring. And that’s the joke in our office anyway.

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Sarah McDowell: But yeah, and I wanted to sort of be like, no, it can actually be some sort of furnace in inspiring and yeah and it doesn’t, it’s not boring at all.

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Sarah McDowell: And and yes and what and why why outs, I think, Well, yes, we just thought we needed. We just needed to do it and we love to talk about SEO as well. So we thought why don’t we put together a podcast. And yeah, as I explained it enough that

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Jacob Stoops: It’s kind of like what I think is interesting about SEO podcasts if if clients or if if you’re somebody that needs SEO. If you want to know like how the SEOs talk if you were

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Jacob Stoops: If you wanted to be like a fly on the wall and you want to know how does an SEO talk about SEO to another SEO. That’s one reason I would think to listen to Sarah’s podcast, as well as to ours, because of

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Jacob Stoops: What we really think when and when that sometimes comes comes through to you as a as a client or in house to whoever we’re delivering the recommendations to it’s kind of a filtered version of that. And this is a little bit more on filtered, I would say.

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Sarah McDowell: Transparent we

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Sarah McDowell: Transparency and yeah and I mean it’s just about having a bit of fun and educating people because as well and as a lot of businesses, small businesses that don’t have the budget to have a marketing team or high marketing. So

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Sarah McDowell: There are some things that you can do like nine times out of 10 leave SEO.

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Sarah McDowell: And SEM professional likes you don’t want to break stuff, but there are, if we can at least be educating businesses and they can start thinking about it because

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Sarah McDowell: There’s a lot of businesses that have thought about all or they’ve heard of the term SEO or they know that they need to do it, but they don’t really quite understand it. They don’t quite get it. So we like to sort of present it in a way

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Sarah McDowell: That is accessible and it’s all I could do that or that makes sense to me or no that is a priority, I need to prioritize this for my website.

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Sarah McDowell: And and we’ve had some really awesome conversations. And don’t get me wrong. We do I know I said about like getting it was a female lead wanted to showcase females, but we do invite and males on as well. Don’t worry.

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Sarah McDowell: Just had amazing people on who are just the people that we get on just want to share knowledge or share their experiences and that is so priceless in this industry and we’ve had

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Sarah McDowell: So today I actually recorded a podcast with a lady Claire Carlisle who helps her thing is helping small businesses grow by making the most out of local SEO.

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Sarah McDowell: And and it was just so just having a conversation about the possibilities of local SEO and Google my business pages and stuff. We spoke to carry Rose who

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Sarah McDowell: Is awesome at she’s a creative SEO agency and their thing is about getting links by doing awesome creative content and some of the things that night talking to her was just amazing as well. We’ve had Sophie Cali on who

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Sarah McDowell: Talk to us about search listening. So the idea behind not getting caught up on keywords and search volumes, but more. What is it, what is it that people are

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Sarah McDowell: Wanting to know about what are the topics sort of thing and and biting content that sort of answers those questions. We’ve also had a lady on who talked about gamification and how

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Sarah McDowell: How that can help with links to your site. And another way of creating really good content. And then we had the lady merely king who came on, who gave talks obviously site speed Page Speed is a big factor with SEO.

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Sarah McDowell: And she came on with life. So she wrote for search engine watch a piece with practical tips and tools to how to do it. So,

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Sarah McDowell: We’re all about like inviting people on to talk about stuff. And we don’t. Sometimes it’s just me and Hannah, who will debate stuff. So, for example, or debate, the

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Sarah McDowell: ongoing debate of what’s better long short long or short content sort of thing. And we’ll talk about internal linking we’ll talk about competitive research. So it’s a bit of a generalist podcast where we just discussed. And yeah, basically.

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Jeff Louella: That’s awesome. So I’m kind of lucky that I came in on season two. Because Jacob really did a lot of the getting things off the ground and and just starting from zero, right. So I got I got the come in and

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Jeff Louella: All that stuff was already set so that that was, you know, easy for me. Of course, because it was easy to say yes.

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Jeff Louella: Because I’d have to do all that groundwork. So what are some of the things that like learning and challenges that you had from just like starting the podcast from zero and getting it to where it is now.

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Sarah McDowell: Yes, and listeners.

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Sarah McDowell: Yeah, and I say to you put. So obviously, we had this brain wave and maybe we may have had a few wines, remember that. Oh my god, this is amazing idea we’re going to get loads of listens on our first episode.

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Sarah McDowell: And it doesn’t I and it took some time. I mean, wear a year on now and we’ve reached I think we’ve just been 7000 total downloads and we get, I don’t know, this would be being very transparent and I don’t know about your guys numbers, but

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Jeff Louella: And millions, millions

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Sarah McDowell: Millions admit that same as

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Sarah McDowell: We get around 150 to about 300 people

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Sarah McDowell: per episode sort of thing and and it has been hard to grow it. And at first it is just your mom listening and

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Sarah McDowell: Every episode. My mom would like what’s that mean okay podcast. I don’t know what you’re quite talking about but you sounded. Wonderful. Um, but yeah and so

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Sarah McDowell: It was it was hard, but we just put the time and effort into it and you do lie. You do have to think outside the box of how to get your podcast underneath people so

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Sarah McDowell: I spent plenty and evening, just on LinkedIn messaging people about the podcast or another way was like inviting people with whoever who already have a following to come on, because then you’re like okay there.

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Sarah McDowell: And that has helped I think peaks and valleys numbers and we mentioned recently did some research. So we did

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Sarah McDowell: Research based around local SEO where we were talking to those who market local businesses and we wanted to understand, like, day to day activities and challenges. And so we did a survey I have paid as well, like I did some paid advertising.

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Sarah McDowell: So yes, getting listeners is hard, especially at the beginning and

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Sarah McDowell: If I believe that if your podcast is entertaining educational people are going to just not shit, basically, people are going to want to listen.

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Sarah McDowell: And stuff and other challenges is so obviously it is a side hustle. So you have to factor in okay when recording editing and there’s the research that goes in as the

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Sarah McDowell: Sort of talking to your guests when they’re going to come on. So there is a lot. At first, I was a bit naive and I was like, be easy. No, it wouldn’t take much time at all. Just sit in front of a microphone do bit talking and jobs are good and I was wrong.

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Sarah McDowell: It’s a lot more than just that. And I’m say I’m guessing you guys can relate to that. Like the wackier

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Jeff Louella: I mean, I go, I go to iTunes all the time or the podcast app now and just type in SEO and then waiting for us to the show up there.

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Jeff Louella: In the top you know 50 at least. And I think it’s new to me in the SEO side of things, right, because it’s working on Google working on, you know, just search engines in general for a while that now trying to like get a podcast to rank in a podcast app.

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Jeff Louella: It’s not you know is I, I’m still learning right and we still haven’t cracked that nut to there’s some think there’s one podcasts that has like three episodes but ranks like number three in the podcast app for some reason on iTunes and it’s like, why are you there like you have

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Jeff Louella: Four years and you only put three episodes, only one of them had to do with SEO, but yet you rank up there so I’m hoping like the new podcasts how apples breaking it out, out of iTunes now gets a better algorithm that update those

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Jeff Louella: Those, I think, some are trash and there’s no way to really, I’m not going to negative attack and other and other podcasts, but the same time i like i you know we’re really trying to focus on getting our like hey, leave a review, you know, follow us certainly subscribe and things like that.

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Sarah McDowell: How awesome is it when I say when we got our first ever review. Oh my gosh, it was like champagne at the ready because

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Sarah McDowell: And that was, that’s a little bit. So when you first doing the podcast and you, you have no idea how

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Sarah McDowell: Like how it’s going really, like, yes, you can look at numbers. And how many people are listening, but it’s not until you get reviews or even like people reaching out saying I this is an awesome podcast I remember the first time we’ve got an email.

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Sarah McDowell: And I yeah i i lost. I lost it because I was like, Oh my God, but it’s like when people are saying good stuff about your podcast and that gives you more reason doesn’t it to carry on.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, definitely.

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Jeff Louella: So we’re gonna wrap this up and be respectful of everybody’s time but we used to. We usually ask a question at the end of every podcast and

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Jeff Louella: Would this is going to be the question this time. So it’s usually about what kind of advice would you give we usually make a general about SEO, but I want to make it more about podcasting. So what would be one piece of advice you would give someone who wanted to start a podcast.

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Jeff Louella: Tomorrow, you know, what was the first thing or the best piece of advice you can give them

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Sarah McDowell: Make sure is the topic that you’re passionate about and you really can get your teeth stuck into it and you just going to live and believe it because if you’re not passionate about something, you’re just not going to make it work and

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Sarah McDowell: That is the top. And yeah, just make it, make it educational make it fun. Don’t be shared and yeah

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Sarah McDowell: A bit swearing.

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Jeff Louella: I already filled that I don’t

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Jacob Stoops: Care about. Don’t be no good life.

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Jeff Louella: Is good life.

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Sarah McDowell: And but yeah and I mean yeah and I mean I’m I would definitely recommend if you want to do a podcast, definitely do it because you just get like for this conversation right now.

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Sarah McDowell: It’s been amazing. And your gut guys podcast in is so good in I was a bit nervous when you invited me onto yours because I thought, Oh my gosh, I’m gonna have to really work.

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Jeff Louella: We don’t know what we’re doing. We’re just

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Jeff Louella: winging it all the time.

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Sarah McDowell: But yeah, definitely, if you want to start podcast tomorrow. Just make sure you’ve got a topic that you’re passionate about and you’ve got a lie and spend a bit of time on your graphic as well. I’d say that because you need that to like popped in here in the

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Sarah McDowell: Search and format as well. I think of a format. So we, for example, our format is we will have a feature it at the end to make it like fun, and it’s normally Hannah testimony on like my general knowledge which I have no no so

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Sarah McDowell: But yeah, I mean, I think I gave more than one bit of advice there. Sorry.

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Jeff Louella: That’s good bonus. Bonus material. Yeah. Awesome. Love. Love. The. I want to thank you for coming on the show. It’s been great. We’ve really enjoyed the conversation. I was typing the Jake eggs like I could talk to people from the UK all day.

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Jeff Louella: I just love it. But, uh, yeah, thanks for coming on the show and

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Jeff Louella: Everyone else like I’m not sure where this is coming out, but I’m happy holidays. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: It’s gonna be coming out in a few weeks. We’re trying. We’ve had some scheduling snafu we’re trying to space out the the episodes. So we’re recording three episodes in one

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Jacob Stoops: Week. But nonetheless, go and connect with Sarah go find her podcast. Listen, listen, listen, Sarah. Thank you so much for coming on.

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Sarah McDowell: Thank you very much for having me.

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Jacob Stoops: All right, bye everybody. Thank you.

#34: Casie Gillette

Episode Summary

We talk with Casie Gillette, Sr. Director of Digital at KoMarketing. We discuss:
  • How she got her start in marketing working for an online dating site in the mid 2000s literally handing out flyers in clubs, which actually led to her first SEO job which is ultimately where she fell in love with it
  • How she got to KoMarketing, how she left and then boomeranged right back
  • In-house versus agency
  • Her biggest SEO challenges
  • Convincing clients to get recommendations implemented
  • How she learned to be a confident public speaker
  • The recent SEO’s are assholes kerfuffle
  • The importance of SEO training and education

And much more.

Episode Transcript

1
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Jacob Stoops: Hey everybody this is Jacob stoops here again with the Page 2 Podcast and I am joined by Mr. Jeff Louella. Jeff, how’s it going?

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Jeff Louella: Hey everybody. How you doing?

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Jacob Stoops: Good. Jeff you changed it up that time.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: We, it’s like, Hey, how are you, hey,

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Jacob Stoops: Hey, like out. What is it out Borland

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Jacob Stoops: And yeah, that’s funny. We’re getting better.

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Jeff Louella: You’re getting better. And now I’m trying to figure it out.

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Jacob Stoops: And we are also joined by Casie Gillette, how’s it going, Casie.

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Casie Gillette: Hey, howdy, I think you’re too old time reference might be overlooked.

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Casie Gillette: Cast. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, Jeff reminds of Al Borland

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, his

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Jacob Stoops: Side hobbies, and he’s do-gooder.

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Yeah.

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Jeff Louella: Just like out

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Jacob Stoops: Um, so, Casie is the Senior Director of digital at KoMarketing and is really awesome guests. I’ve said this, I think, to a few guests. So I don’t want you to feel like you’re not at all special because you are special and

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Casie Gillette: You sound like my mother.

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Right.

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Jeff Louella: Very special

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Jacob Stoops: But know when we were setting out to when I was setting out over a year ago to do this podcast. And when we kind of sat down for for season two.

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Jacob Stoops: You are definitely on the on the list of people that we wanted to talk to in in there’s a there’s a massive like we basically want to talk to everybody in SEO, but but

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Casie Gillette: It does really, really making me feel good here.

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We’re definitely

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Casie Gillette: I made Season two. That’s exciting. Thank you for having me. Yes. You made it to season to

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Jeff Louella: Meet you in

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Jacob Stoops: Season Season one was entirely just me trying to figure figure stuff out live on the internet. So anyways,

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Casie Gillette: That’s our job. That’s our job is search marketers anyway.

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Jacob Stoops: Well, yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s basically 25 hours of me just gabbing gabbing online and I decided to bring Jeff in to talk with me so

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Jeff Louella: Just for my intro

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah. So in terms of what we’re going to be

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Jacob Stoops: Covering today. So we’ve got a great agenda, first and foremost, we’re going to talk to. Casie about her background and then we are going to cover a little bit of SEO news, surprise, surprise, there was another kerfuffle in the industry.

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Jacob Stoops: Always industry seems to always have a kerfuffle probably once or twice a week.

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Jacob Stoops: That will talk about a little bit of drama and then at the end of the show. If anybody has stuck around to the end.

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Jacob Stoops: We’re going to talk about building a team and SEO training and how to go about that and the importance of doing that.

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Jacob Stoops: So definitely, definitely a great agenda today so Casie, the hallmark of the show, kind of like we’re superheroes is the the origin story of great SEOs and the the backgrounds, the trials. The tribulations. Um, so tell us about yourself. How did you get into SEO and just, who are you

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, loaded question. Um, you know, I was one of those people who didn’t know what SEO was we didn’t know what it was in 2005 I’d never heard of it. You know, I was out of college, I was bartending.

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Casie Gillette: thought, gosh, I guess I should probably get a job in marketing. My parents paid a lot of money for my college education.

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Casie Gillette: And a guy that I knew that that I had just met through the bar had approached me about this job in marketing. I was like okay well what it ended up being was. It was an online dating site.

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Casie Gillette: And but this is 2005 so like online dating wasn’t really a thing. And what we had to do was go out to clubs and hand out flyers for

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Casie Gillette: Dating site, which is awful. Right. That’s just an awful job but fast forward about six months I had stopped doing that, after

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Casie Gillette: Month, I think. And he reached back out and said, Hey, I have this job. We have another job doing SEO. Are you interested. And I said, I don’t know what that is but sure.

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Casie Gillette: And that was it. You know, I was so fortunate because the company that I ended up working for at the time was huge. They were about 150 people in it had people like Jenni Halas and Garrett French and Andy Beal

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Casie Gillette: These people in JP Sherman these people that you know

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Casie Gillette: As these you know industry thought leaders. Well, that’s where they also started out. So I had these amazing people to train me and to teach me. You know what SEO is and

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Casie Gillette: I think like most of us, I just fell in love, you know, you start doing it like, Wow, this is this is exciting and it changes and that’s cool. And, you know, here we are 1314 years later, whatever year it is. Now, I don’t know.

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Jacob Stoops: I hear that it’s going to be 2020

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Jacob Stoops: Oh, that’s

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Jacob Stoops: A new decade or still the same decade people

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah.

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Casie Gillette: No, no, it’s tricky.

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Jacob Stoops: So how did you get to KoMarketing and not only then, how did you kind of climb the ladder to senior director

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, well, just run

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Casie Gillette: I had when I was down in Carolina. I was ready to move up, back, back up north. I was like, I gotta South here.

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Casie Gillette: So I applied to a job at KoMarketing actually and I just, I loved what I loved what they had to offer. Well, at the time, there were only three other people

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Casie Gillette: So I ended up moving up here. There were four of us in total just really small, which was so fun. You know, it was a whole new experience. I went from this big company to a very small company.

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Casie Gillette: And that was really exciting. Now that happened around 2009 2007 2008 right before the economy collapsed.

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Casie Gillette: And you know, we started to lose a lot of client, right, we just didn’t have a lot of business and I was approached to go in house.

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Casie Gillette: Start, you know, start an SEO team there help run the digital marketing team and so

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Casie Gillette: I went and did that for a couple years. And that was really cool. I never thought that I would want to go and house because

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Casie Gillette: You know when you’re on the agency side. It’s so fun right there. There’s all these different things always happening.

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Casie Gillette: But the opportunity was really great. You know, I got exposure to like running TV ads and radio ads, you know, building a social team building a community team so that stuff was really fun.

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Casie Gillette: But I stayed in touch with the marketing guys because they were so fantastic. In a few years into that they said, you know, do you want to come back.

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Casie Gillette: I don’t know. And, you know, Derek, who, who runs KoMarketing was like, well, moving the office downtown. I was like okay now I’m listening.

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Casie Gillette: You know, I live in the city. And I always had to drive out there and my whole dream of moving to Boston was I didn’t have to have a car and I didn’t have to drive. Anyway, so he was making my dream come true.

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Jacob Stoops: There it is.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, so I mean that’s, you know, I’ve kinda, you know, I’ve been at KoMarketing twice. Now, I’ve been back seven years. So a total of 10

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Casie Gillette: And you know, it’s just, it’s been fun to watch. It’s been fun to help grow the company, the guys who run it are fantastic. We have such great people on the team. We’re really meticulous about who we hire and how we hire and I think because of that we’ve been able to be successful.

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Jacob Stoops: So I’m going to apologize in advance because I’m, what I’m hearing is so you were at KoMarketing in then went in house somewhere and then back to KoMarketing.

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Casie Gillette: Correct.

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Jacob Stoops: Okay, because I was thinking I was like wait, you’re at KoMarketing, but you’re also in house.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, I’m very to I’m multitasking. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: OK, so the, it seems like the first time you were doing a lot of off offline TV and radio and and then a little dabbling in in the social space and

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Jacob Stoops: I guess what is so different outside of being downtown different this time in terms of like your role.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah. Well, I think one of the things that was really exciting to me was I got to come in and build a team. And that’s honestly one of my absolute favorite things about my role about this industry.

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Casie Gillette: You know, I do a lot of speaking events. And the reason is, I love that part. Like I just love when someone comes up to you and says,

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Casie Gillette: I’ve never thought about this this way or like, Oh, this is so helpful or, you know, you write a blog posts and someone says,

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Casie Gillette: Oh, I use that and I sent it to my team like it makes you feel like, okay, I’m doing this for a reason.

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Casie Gillette: You know, there’s a rewarding element to it. And as part of coming back. My role here was to build a team who you know we got, I get to teach them SEO. I get to teach them marketing.

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Casie Gillette: And you get to watch them all grow up and become really good marketers and I love that. I think that’s really fun and exciting.

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Jacob Stoops: So have to ask always have to ask this comes up, like every episode, I’m in house or agency.

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Casie Gillette: So I am an agency girl.

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Casie Gillette: I do have to say like there are benefits of being in house one a lot easier. You know you you’ve talked to people who work at agencies I. In fact, I remember when I was coming back to the agency world and

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Casie Gillette: I know it’s like, well, how could she

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Casie Gillette: Like, why don’t you do with clients, but I don’t know like I don’t know about you guys, but I love the challenge, right. I feel like there’s always new challenges and like

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Casie Gillette: When you’re in house you’re only exposed to a minimal amount of things, whereas on the agency side, you know, I have 10 clients. And so I’m seeing all of these different situations.

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Casie Gillette: Just the learning element in the space. We have to keep up. You have to be constantly learning. And I think at the agency side, you get a little more exposure to that because you do have the different things. So for me, if agency, but I certainly understand why people like being in house.

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Jeff Louella: Do you ever feel that you can’t get everything you want to get done.

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Oh, yeah.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah.

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Jeff Louella: We have a set amount of hours where, you know, not sure what that is but you know every

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Jeff Louella: Client is different, but

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Jeff Louella: They’re my I’ve always been an agency. I’ve never been in house and the one thing I always dreamed about was actually being able to just

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Jeff Louella: Sit there and like being internal meetings and hammer own like I have one client who’s blocking right now blocking Google

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Jeff Louella: And and they have been for the last six weeks and their dev teams like, well, we’re just trying to block acts like during the holidays, they’re blocking extra crawlers coming to the site because they’re so fragile.

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Jeff Louella: So sad.

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Jeff Louella: And I just wish I can be in those meetings every day and showing them and I do send reports as don’t know if it gets to the dev team because I’m working with marketing team and

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Jeff Louella: The thing. So sometimes I do dream about being in a house, but, um, but, as you said, like we have 10 different clients. So I just focus my time. Other places where I need it but

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, well, and I also found that, you know, working in house was cool because it’s like, hey, I want to do this. Okay, I’m just gonna go do it.

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Casie Gillette: And if you have that autonomy. That’s fantastic. But I was there for three years. And so, and thankfully I did have three different websites that I was working on. But like

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Casie Gillette: If you’re only working on, let’s say one website. And it’s not like a giant e com site. It’s just a, you know, maybe it’s a B2B site, whatever it is, like, there’s only so much you can do.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah.

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Casie Gillette: There’s only so much for me. I started to get a little bored and it was nice because like I said I got exposure to these other things, but it can get a little enough. Yes.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, I’m sure. I think like you, like you said, You’re an agency girl, I think, like, I don’t know what it, what it is, but I feel like it’s just

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Jacob Stoops: bred into your personality in terms of which side of the fence you you fall on

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Jacob Stoops: Some people tend to lean in house. Some people tend to lean agency for different reasons I’ve said many times I’ve been in both situations and

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Jacob Stoops: For whatever reason, I just tend to thrive more in the agency lifestyle as crazy as it is, it can get. Sometimes I’ve been in house, a couple of times. And each time I, I just, I really didn’t like it.

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Jacob Stoops: Made me. It was a function of just the particular opportunities and what was going on in house at the time.

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Jacob Stoops: But there have been times in my agency life where I’m I think just like Jeff like man, the grass looks really, really green, it would be great just to just to work on one web

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Jacob Stoops: All the time and do it really, really, really well. And then you get on the you get on the in house side and you’re like, Okay, I’m working on this.

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Jacob Stoops: And now what do I do with the rest of my time.

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Casie Gillette: Right, but

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Jacob Stoops: It is nice to be able to like have in developed close relationships with a lot of different stakeholders within the, within the company like it’s nice to

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Jacob Stoops: For example, in my last last role, I was able to just get up and walk two desks over and say, hey,

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Jacob Stoops: Aaron, who was a developer, like I’m trying to get this thing implemented, but like, I’m seeing this error and he would fix it on the spot and go okay great that’ll get pushed live tonight and stuff like that was

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Jacob Stoops: Invaluable. And not only that, but just walking down to to another floor to talk with one of the other teams.

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Jacob Stoops: And get an understanding because they handled customers directly and like working directly with them. I mean, there were a couple of times where we work directly with them to actually create pieces of content.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah subject matter.

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Casie Gillette: That’s like one of my favorite things I talked about that a lot is like when I was in house we talked to the customer support team every week.

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Casie Gillette: Right. And it was so awesome. Knowing here’s what people are asking for. Here’s what they can’t find like here’s what the second yeah so that there are those benefits. Yeah, but

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Jacob Stoops: Like I said, I just, I made for agency. I like the I like the challenge. I like the diversity and I feel as if

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Jacob Stoops: The competition with other agencies.

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Jacob Stoops: In addition to the competition with your clients and their competitors. Yeah, really.

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Jacob Stoops: Really drives me. I come from a sports background so I’m super competitive and not to say that if you don’t come from other backgrounds. You’re not competitive, but I feel like for me that’s

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Jacob Stoops: Plays plays into it. So like I i like to win. And for me, I can see is giving me the best chance to kind of

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Jacob Stoops: Scratch that competitive edge.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.

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Jacob Stoops: So you do public speaking. What’s, what’s that look

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Casie Gillette: Like

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Casie Gillette: Well, no, it’s fun. Honestly, um, I don’t know. I don’t even remember how I got into it, or why, but I just know like once I was up there. I was like, oh yeah, this is for me.

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Casie Gillette: There’s just something to be said about

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Casie Gillette: You know, you’re being in front of your peers and having them listen. It makes you have to up your game. I never ever ever want to go to a conference and disappoint people

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Casie Gillette: And because of that, I think it’s really forced me to make sure that I’m talking about the right things. I’m learning the right things. I’m focused on the things I’m passionate about. I think that’s a huge one.

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Casie Gillette: When I first started speaking I talked about link building about a year into that. I was like, if I have to talk about link building one more time. I’m going to jump off the stage. Like, I can’t, I can’t talk about it anymore.

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Casie Gillette: But I needed to find something else that I was passionate about right and and also you have to find something that not everyone else is saying, although there’s a lot of it right

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Casie Gillette: That in the space, and I’m sure I’ve done it, too. But I just, I just love it. I love what the camaraderie of conferences.

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Casie Gillette: I will say that I have made some amazing friends through conferences that I go on vacation with now that I talked to you in real life that have become like close lifelong friends that are never would have gotten to do that without speaking. So it’s just fun. I just really like it.

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Jacob Stoops: Have you do you get nervous or you just one of those natural, natural because like I feel like it was

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Jacob Stoops: All a couple of couple of guests ago I can’t remember exactly who it was. Alicia or Leisha Anderson or Andrea Bergman, it was like, Nope, I just stepped right up there and it’s it’s easy.

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Casie Gillette: It’s nice. I get nervous. Yeah, there’s a moment not I’m not nervous like

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Casie Gillette: A day before I’m nervous for like that 20 minutes before, but the moment that I’m on the stage. It’s fine. Totally fine. Like the moment that I’m up there. Your adrenaline’s poverty, like, all right, I’m in

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Casie Gillette: And you can’t be nervous up there. So, but, yeah, there’s about I usually don’t eat before I can

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Casie Gillette: Just gotta go.

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Jacob Stoops: It. Go ahead, Jeff.

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Jeff Louella: I’ll just say I don’t speak a ton bone. I do. I usually start off with the dad joke.

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Jeff Louella: When the crowd. As soon as I get them the laugh. And I’m like, all right, I’m good. But, but if they don’t laugh. I’m like, Oh, no.

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Jeff Louella: Luckily I’m so good. They always

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Jeff Louella: Get the greatest dad. Exactly.

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, I have this I have this thing and it’s sometimes applies to speaking, but mostly singing in public, where

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Jacob Stoops: It’s literally like, like you said 20 minutes before I’m set to like go on and go on. It’s not like I sing in like these massive arenas or anything. My wife and I sing it a benefit concert every, every color. Yeah, yeah, it is cool.

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Jacob Stoops: But even as small as the as the venue is I have this thing where, when I go on for about the 20 minutes before and even sometimes as

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Jacob Stoops: As close to performing as literally like the song comes on and I’m about three seconds from having to open my mouth. Forget all the lyrics, they just go out of my head.

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Jacob Stoops: Really, yeah. Yeah, it’s like a complete blackout really like scary because like there are times when I’m standing out there. And all I’m thinking is not how well I need to sing more like what do I say

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Casie Gillette: What am I even thinking

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Jacob Stoops: What am I singing and then then the music comes on and I’m still I’m starting to panic. Now, like Panic, panic. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. And then finally,

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Jacob Stoops: I remember like it was yesterday. I opened my mouth words came out and they were the right words and I went along by I went along my merry way and

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Jacob Stoops: For anybody that has that kind of public phobia. The idea of public speaking can be nauseating like nauseating. So I guess what advice would you give to people that struggle with the idea of getting up in front of their peers.

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Casie Gillette: Well, what I was gonna say was, I mean what you just talked about is just the benefit of muscle memory, right, like we talked about practicing. I know there’s people who will say, like, you know, I don’t practice my presentations. I do.

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Casie Gillette: I run through them like you know me I don’t I try not to go, word for word, but like

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Casie Gillette: I run through that thing 20 times because I want to know that when I get out there that if something goes wrong, right, if I can’t see my slides. If there’s technical errors or whatever’s going on, you know, whether it’s fear or whatever that I still know my materials.

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Casie Gillette: But one of the things we do here is we start getting people like some of the trainings that we do involve people giving presentations.

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Casie Gillette: Because you’re only in front of maybe five people or 10 people or whatever it is you start small.

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Casie Gillette: I tell anyone you know who’s looking to get into public speaking. Look at a local event like I started just doing word camps that were here in Boston.

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Casie Gillette: Events like that, or just like local SEO meetups where you know people give you an opportunity new speakers, they’re expecting new speakers, where you don’t. They don’t care if you mess up, right. Those are the things that that for me, it’s like know your material and start small.

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Jeff Louella: You have done a couple when I used to live in Philadelphia and we had a pretty vibrant SEO Meetup group. They’re called SEO grill and

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Jeff Louella: I got to speak there a couple times and I do small events. A lot of times I used to run a homebrew club making beer.

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Jeff Louella: So I would I would do presentation. Yeah, you know, a it was funny when I decided to start a club. I was like, I don’t want to do work after work.

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Jeff Louella: And I enjoyed the air and me, my friends who started brewing were like, you know, we want to meet other people to do it. And then we started a club and then that grew to 300 people

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Jeff Louella: My guy, and it was insane. Like we were just at this one bar on the Tuesday night would just be packed to the gills.

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Jeff Louella: The guy would never have any traffic on the Tuesday night before, and so it was a good time. But from there. I learned a lot of just, again, if you know your material like if I talked about SEO or if I talked about home brewing, I can. I don’t need slides, I can just talk about it, but

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Jeff Louella: But yeah, when you’re in front of a bunch of people, it can be be scary. So, but where did you get from like

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Jeff Louella: The confidence. You know, you start off bartending. You’re saying, and then now 10 years later, you’re in stage, you know, Mosque on

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Jeff Louella: And then there’s many of us who’ve been doing SEO just as long. And, you know, haven’t gotten past the meetup groups.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, so

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Casie Gillette: Honestly, I again I’ve just been really lucky, like the support of the community, I would say. So even when I first started doing like I did an SMS show and it I

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Casie Gillette: One of the benefits. I was working in house right and I do think there’s a benefit when you’re in house that if you’re looking to speak, they’re more open to having you right

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Jeff Louella: Now big brand behind. Yes.

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Casie Gillette: Yep. And so that was really helpful. But at that show I met a couple people, you know, Elizabeth awesome Alaska who worked for third door for a long time. Greg Finn.

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Casie Gillette: There, people who just became my friends, but they also were these huge support systems. And so they were encouraging me to start writing for Search Engine Land. Right. So they got me doing that.

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Casie Gillette: You know, they would encourage they would help me with my pitches. Right. So I’ve just been really lucky I think in that the people that I have surrounded myself with or gotten to know have all been so supportive

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Casie Gillette: You know, even I was doing. I got invited to do search love one year in London.

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Casie Gillette: And a friend of mine, Aaron Friedman, who I had met through another show like we spent the night before our sessions just practicing with one another.

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Casie Gillette: And so, those kinds of things. Just, just really help. I don’t know. I’m not a shy person.

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Casie Gillette: I think that that makes the biggest difference is I know people in the industry will talk about, you know, I’m very introverted, or I’m very extroverted like I am an extrovert. I just very much am I enjoy being around people.

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Casie Gillette: I like conferences, I’d like being in crowds. So that part I think certainly helps because you know when you’re just out there just being loud, like I am. I don’t know if that helps or not, but

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Jacob Stoops: Funny. My wife is exactly like that, and I am. She is like the type of person that never met a person that she couldn’t talk to and like immediately make them like her, and be her friend and I am like, I’m a nice person, but I am

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Jacob Stoops: The opposite where like when I get into big crowds situations. It makes me like twitchy uncomfortable super uncomfortable.

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Jacob Stoops: Which is the yeah I then find it odd that I choose to do a

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Casie Gillette: Podcast right out there.

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Casie Gillette: Talking to people. I mean, I will say this, like, I don’t love I’ll be the first to say that I don’t love networking events like where you’re just with a whole bunch of strangers, but like

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Casie Gillette: I just like myself up for it. So you just, I just get mentally prepared and then you’re just you’re in, you know, I’m fine. Once I’m in it, but

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, I mean, it was tough moving like

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Jeff Louella: I know you. It seems like you’ve moved around a little bit, but I lived in Philadelphia for 42 years

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Jeff Louella: Wow started to move to Atlanta and pick up the family and move and it was really tough for my wife at first.

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Jeff Louella: But she is that type of person to you can put her in a room, she starts chatting with people and I think she’s actually impressed herself with how she can. She’s like 1000 friends now.

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Jeff Louella: And and the ones in there going, like I have a couple people. I kind of talk to you.

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Jeff Louella: I’m still I’m like texts with my friends back home, but it’s and she’s out every night, so it’s it’s interesting how

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Casie Gillette: I

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Jeff Louella: Put yourself in that position, and then you can like, get out there. Yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: You don’t it, Jeff, you’ll have a few more friends.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah. That’s what the internet’s great

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Jacob Stoops: So Casie, what are some of the biggest challenges that you run into operating in the agency world.

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Casie Gillette: Um, I mean, I do think, you know, it just thinking about the team, you know, thinking about hiring. It’s so competitive right now, you know, especially, you know, we’re a smaller agency. There’s a little under 30 a few of like 30 of us.

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Casie Gillette: And when you’re trying to hire that like 123 years person. It is like just a battle.

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Casie Gillette: Axe and especially here in Boston, where there’s a ton of companies and a ton of tech companies and even just a ton of agencies, right.

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Casie Gillette: A lot of the big digital, you know, the big agencies, you have like digital us and you know those places who are now trying to get in the game, and they’re willing to pay a lot more

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Casie Gillette: To have those 123 years like I think hiring has certainly been a challenge. And we’ve been really lucky.

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Casie Gillette: Make our team is amazing. We’ve been able to get some really good people in, but then you have people who are constantly recruiting them away.

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Casie Gillette: So it’s like a battle. It’s like such a battle right now from that perspective.

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Casie Gillette: But then you have clients and you know to Geoff’s point earlier, there’s only so much time right there’s only so much time, you only have so many resources. I have a client right now that I adore. I love them to death.

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Casie Gillette: Unfortunately, when the search results changed in June with that big update. They weren’t penalized. But what happened was the search results themselves shifted so much

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Casie Gillette: That they went from being in you know the position one at the top of the page that didn’t have a lot of elements to now they’re

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Casie Gillette: In position to be ahead of them are now sponsored products and a map and the Knowledge Graph and people also asked box and so their traffic just tanked. And when you see that like

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Casie Gillette: It’s just gut wrenching because, you know, like I’m doing everything I can to help this client, but I can’t get them back there, right, like unless those search results change like I can’t get them back there.

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Casie Gillette: So that stuff is is just, it’s so challenging and frustrating because you have these clients that you love and you want to help them but

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Casie Gillette: Sometimes you just have to say like we have to change our, we have to change our strategy right and i mean like a complete one need to change our strategy. So I think that that’s a tough one.

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Jeff Louella: I mean it’s tougher all these days with Google putting so many other elements on the page. Besides that, besides just organic and it is surprising. Sometimes when I still do well. And there are other things on that page.

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Jeff Louella: But you know Google’s tracking all that, too. So they’re also going to be changing those features around a lot. Yeah. And I do

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Jeff Louella: You know, I think it’s really important to start spreading out into other mediums.

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Jeff Louella: Cuz you’re going to have video links are going to have image links and it’s like if we don’t optimize our images or maybe add videos like those are areas we can get to

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Jeff Louella: I think figuring out a track it all is another aspect. Um, but, but one of those is like there’s gonna be 10 listings above you, that are just not organic. And how do we get into those listings

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Casie Gillette: Right, and even, like, you know, for that same client. I mean,

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Casie Gillette: One of the first things we did. We’re like, All right, let’s get like FAQ schema on the site right like they have FAQs the search results are showing FAQs. Like, let’s get this up. Let’s test it. Let’s see what that can do so.

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Casie Gillette: We’re really trying everything we can think of here to help with that. But sometimes you know there’s there’s only so much that we can do. But yeah, I love your like, but like you have to diversify. Some people just don’t want to hear that, though.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, and it’s hard to diversify. Right. I mean, one reason when Jacob asked me to come on to the podcast was like something I always wanted to do, but I know it’s a lot of work to do it.

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Jeff Louella: And it’s like there’s a whole bunch of new algorithms. I got to learn because it’s like to get your, you know, a podcast even

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Jeff Louella: Show up like it’s learning right it’s like you on iTunes. We don’t show up yet. But there’s ones out there that haven’t been talked like having the three episodes and haven’t been uploaded in 10 years entered like number four.

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Jeff Louella: It’s like why so that’s not the that’s not Google. I feel like if it was Google. I don’t understand it but

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Yeah.

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Jeff Louella: Exactly so. So

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Jacob Stoops: When people don’t want to hear it. How do you approach that because I feel like I’ve said it like 80 million times the implementation, especially on the agency side is our biggest problem and then

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Jacob Stoops: Changing hearts and hearts and minds and figuring out from a psychological perspective, what can you do or say to get people to kind of come around to your understanding of a situation or the reality of situation, how do you, how do you go about that.

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Casie Gillette: I mean, one thing that I take a lot of pride in. And that, you know, specifically here at KoMarketing is like we have really good relationships with our clients.

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Casie Gillette: You know, I have a client that I’ve worked with since I started here and she’s like her fifth organization and she just brings us with her everywhere she goes, it’s so awesome.

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Casie Gillette: But because of those relationships we are able to be very direct about it, right, like, one of the things that I really do pride myself in is

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Casie Gillette: I’m not. I’m never gonna lie to my clients right so like that example that I told you where search results shifted

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Casie Gillette: You know, I said like, look, we can keep trying to get back, we can keep trying to get back for this keyword all you want, but unless this changes.

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Casie Gillette: There’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do. But here’s the data that shows here are the other things that we can do right so

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Casie Gillette: In fact, one of the one of the girls who works here put together this sheet yesterday, this data set for this client that specifically looks at their competitors.

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Casie Gillette: We’ve been trying to get them to do a couple things.

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Casie Gillette: They’ve been a little bit hesitant to do it. She pulled all this data that’s competitive data search volume data like potential revenue data that now we take that and we present to them like here’s the actual financial impact of doing this.

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Casie Gillette: And I think that helps the one thing I always tell people I’m like just show them competition just show them their competitors.

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Casie Gillette: Like, especially when you’re talking to the C suite. If you show them like here’s what your competitors are doing. They absolutely are always like, Well, why aren’t we doing that.

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Casie Gillette: So I do think that helps is, you know, just just being honest and direct, you know, using the data you have, and, you know, if you can get buy in from from the upper level that that goes such a long way.

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Jacob Stoops: Do you find that they believe their data or the data that you provide them.

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Casie Gillette: I do it. But, you know, the one thing I do like is I think our clients are very smart. That’s actually something that’s changed that’s gone wrong.

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Jacob Stoops: Like I wanted to rewind that the

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Casie Gillette: The one thing that has definitely shifted over the past, you know, seven years, specifically for me being here is our contacts weren’t always

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Casie Gillette: Search savvy and now they are much more savvy when it comes to understanding SEO paid search, whatever it is. So our clients, not only they will question the data if it’s if it’s wrong, or if they have questions, but they understand it. And I think that is really, really helpful.

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Jacob Stoops: What do you think is led to that higher degree of understanding

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Casie Gillette: I mean, I think, just as the guy was so much more well known.

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Casie Gillette: Right. I mean, there’s still people who don’t necessarily know, but you know 10 years ago was like this little thing that maybe someone did. And it was such a niche. Whereas now, it’s a thing that they teach in college, which is amazing.

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Casie Gillette: But I think there’s just so much more awareness of it and people who who need to understand it.

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Jacob Stoops: You guys ever like I like even five years ago, I had never once on in like a traditional medium heard anybody like refer to SEO. So it was like the thing that I do for my living is like this super

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Jacob Stoops: Secret sort of thing to the to the public. And now, like I’m driving around done listening to in I’m in Columbus, so it’s 97 when the fan my sports radio and when you start to get the commercials in the ads there a company’s advertising SEO services. And I’m like,

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Jacob Stoops: Holy crap, this is becoming more mainstream whereas five years ago, like, no, you never saw it. I even today I’m ups. I’m upstairs and I’ve got a TV.

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Jacob Stoops: That can play I can play the YouTube and YouTube ad came on and it was for a digital marketing and SEO company. And I was like, well, about a year ago, I didn’t see much of that going that going on.

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Jacob Stoops: So you’re right it is becoming a little bit more, more.

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Casie Gillette: What we do it was on Jeopardy jeopardy. We’ve made it. Yeah.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, one of my

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Jeff Louella: Favorite my favorite podcasts is a radio lab. And for the last two months or three months they they’ve been brought to you by wicks

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Jeff Louella: And all they’re talking about his mixes SEO capabilities.

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Jeff Louella: And I’m just like, oh, this is my favorite pocket. Like they their whole podcast is about like breaking things down. I wish they broke their average

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Jacob Stoops: Amy and knowing them, which just shelled out $25,000 to Marie Haines bolting like for winning the the wicks SEO contest and

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Jacob Stoops: Like

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Jacob Stoops: I was like holy shit if I didn’t know there were, there was 25 grand on the line, I would have been like, all right, I’m in. I let me let me get in there but

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Casie Gillette: I you know I appreciate it, that it goes to someone like her, though, who actually knows what she’s doing. Right. That, you know, I think she made a comment today, like, you know, she had eight people working on it for six months or something like

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Casie Gillette: But, you know, you see someone, it’s like okay this is a person that I know is smart. I know knows what they’re doing like better than some, you know, shady person.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah, well, when they ran a competition. Last year I know with a Patrick stocks, he like it was it came down to between him and someone else and

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Jeff Louella: You know, there was a lot of shady stuff going on on on some of those people were being bought and and and that was part of the rules and he couldn’t buy links so i know i don’t think Patrick was I think the guy who won.

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Casie Gillette: The other guy did yeah and it’s

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Jeff Louella: So it is an interesting thing. I give wicks credit because SEO is love like that again, there were competitive so

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Casie Gillette: That they’re on it to

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Jeff Louella: Totally like if we’re not in it. We’re crap.

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Jacob Stoops: I couldn’t believe the size of the font, though, man. I was like,

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Jeff Louella: That

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Jacob Stoops: You’re serious about this 25 G’s. Cool, man. So Jeff,

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Jacob Stoops: Let’s move to the next segment. What’s in

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Jeff Louella: Right.

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Jacob Stoops: Let’s get to the drama.

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Jeff Louella: Yes, more Twitter drama. So there was a post by think I’m gonna probably announce it will just say, Holly cuz she what’s her name on there but

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Jacob Stoops: I think you’re

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Jeff Louella: Blocked yeah girl Ziploc

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Yeah.

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Jeff Louella: But she pretty much came out and was saying in the first two pages of Google never surface any personal blogs or personal websites anymore.

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Jeff Louella: And everything it’s worthwhile like a question, you look at

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Jeff Louella: You know, it’s just being optimized bunch of bunch of SEO assholes. And that was a word to use, and I thought it was awesome. But at the same time right there was like you know as SEO assholes were kind of going out and saying there was a lot of different post out there so

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Jeff Louella: I know someone like Joe Hall, kind of like some of us aren’t assholes. And we took the time to learn the algorithms and stuff. And I think there was a lot of battle going back and forth between

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Jeff Louella: Is someone who is not so familiar with SEO and if I could see you know like you type in

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Jeff Louella: Anything and not anything but anything that’s like a probably a broader keyword. You can have a major company show up for it.

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Jeff Louella: Especially if it’s like something you’re trying to sell you know if you’re typing in iPhone or something like that. Like, you’re going to get a big brand, whether it’s apple or BestBuy or somebody there. And yes, they all have SEOs working for them.

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Jeff Louella: But it was the outrage was kind of interesting with it, where I mean john mule Mueller posted about it like you want to know what people thought

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Jeff Louella: You know bills. Yet all the big name as you guys out there, Bill slough ski, um, you know, there was an interesting conversation. I don’t know what your take, was it on

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Jeff Louella: Jacob, but it was really interesting kind of post between it because I really feel that, yes, there’s big brands out there. I think I understand why there’s big brands out there. I don’t think it’s anything. It could be. It’s not shady. It’s a grower trying to optimize for that.

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Jeff Louella: I do feel like there are some bad SEOs out there and they probably are doing bad things. But overall, we’re all trying to make our clients site more for the customers.

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Jeff Louella: And that’s why Google showing them over other people and that’s kind of what I feel that’s going on but I get her pain.

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Jeff Louella: Why, she’s, she’s like, if you don’t know that. And you’re just a blogger and you wonder why your blogs loss efforts traffic or isn’t getting the traffic. It means like, of course, you’re just gonna blame the people who specialize in that so

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Casie Gillette: I mean, at the same time, though, if you’re just realizing, like you’re so behind

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Casie Gillette: That’s why you’re not showing up anymore. Right. I

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Jeff Louella: Mean

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Casie Gillette: This started changing how many years ago, I personally don’t have any patience for that so

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Casie Gillette: I just don’t like one. I try to stay out of the SEO dramas, just like again I just other things that I’d like to do

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Casie Gillette: And usually it’s just people I think sometimes people like to argue

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Casie Gillette: I do think in one of the things I do

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Casie Gillette: Love about the SEO space and the people in it is that people are very protective of it right and it goes back to what we were just talking about were five years ago, people maybe didn’t know as much about SEO as they did. So I do think people are very

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Casie Gillette: protective of the Community as a whole, protective of what we do because we’ve always had to be a little bit defensive about it because let’s be real, like when I started the ship were doing was not like well as shady. Right. You’re just buying links and

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Casie Gillette: And it worked. And it was awesome. And you know there are people who are still figuring out how to game the system and at the

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Casie Gillette: End of the day, like, yes, like we’re not personally. It’s not like I’m doing over here doing anything shady, but I am working really hard to innocence game that algorithm. Right. I want my client site there and so

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Casie Gillette: What does that mean, well, it means you have to have a brand presence and it means you need to have content and, you know, yeah, these personal blogs don’t necessarily have that. So maybe they shouldn’t show up.

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Casie Gillette: And what are you trying to show up for so

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Jeff Louella: I don’t know i just i and i can show them like I didn’t want to get into because I’m anti drama myself, but I can show her where there’s personal blogs meeting some of my clients that

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Are driving. Yes.

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Casie Gillette: And it goes to the it goes to the sense of diversification exactly what we were just talking about, you know, for people who maybe you don’t have a big brands like you need to be looking at, you know, social or whatever it is, or medium or these

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Casie Gillette: Other platforms where you can gain

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Casie Gillette: Visibility because, I mean, even for my clients. I’m like, look how much time you have left in Google here, right.

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Casie Gillette: Time is limited for alive. So, you know, whether you’re a blogger not have enough people to sell things to complain, but

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Jeff Louella: What I find interesting.

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Jacob Stoops: About this is like, just like you guys said there are certain queries like across some of my clients were like

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Jacob Stoops: Half of the results are product pages and half of the results are articles.

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Jacob Stoops: blog articles resource articles, things like that. And as an SEO. It’s like it’s really interesting to try to figure out what Google thinks the real intent is. Is it informational is it transactional

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Jacob Stoops: But I would say to like the first comment about how, like, okay, Google never almost never surfaces blogs and personal websites what and my Google Pixel is going up as I’m saying saying this, so I’m

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Jacob Stoops: Always listening Google

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Jacob Stoops: It’s let’s just actually in inaccurate and I’m for, you know, I hate to to rail on this particular person. I don’t know what search that they were doing, but like honestly the last place I worked like we grew our traffic in about a year by like 100% and almost all of it was like

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Jacob Stoops: A blog. Yeah. And that brought in a lot of business. So like, there’s that.

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Jacob Stoops: The second part of this is the, the kind of more kerfuffle were like, Okay, well, just because there are people online that that optimize things to show up. We’re, we’re all assholes. Well,

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Jacob Stoops: Now you something like I feel like there are some because there are two sides of the fence one on one side of the fence. You’ve got people

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Jacob Stoops: In I think rightfully so, defending the industry and the people in it as not all assholes. Okay. And that and that’s true. Like, we’re not all assholes. But there are some assholes. It’s just like other place on Earth. There are things in there. There are not assholes in any profession ever

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Casie Gillette: So, you know, there’s people that are in this industry that I like very much but they’re still assholes.

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Casie Gillette: Right, yeah.

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Jacob Stoops: There’s, there’s even that. But then there are

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Jeff Louella: People on

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Jacob Stoops: The other side of the fence. And this is where I feel like for me in terms of my opinion because I believe that when

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Jacob Stoops: We’re all being generalized as assholes. We have a right to push back. But there are people on the other side of the fence and

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Jacob Stoops: I don’t understand it quite as much and I’m trying really hard that in one case like Tom Raynor who was a was a previous guest on the show and sometimes has

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Jacob Stoops: Some, some opinions on this, this type of stuff basically getting upset at the people for defending the industry and pushing back on on this type of stuff in there were other people saying, hey,

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Jacob Stoops: You’re missing the point. You’re missing the point. And I agree, like, okay, what what’s great about this country is that people are allowed to have

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Jacob Stoops: Opinions and there is freedom of speech and that’s awesome, but there’s not freedom from accountability. Right. You have the right to say whatever the hell you want

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Jacob Stoops: And so to other people. And you mentioned earlier that Twitter is great for our Twitter wouldn’t exist if people didn’t arch. You didn’t argue

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Jacob Stoops: Yeah, absolutely. So anyways,

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Jeff Louella: Okay.

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Jacob Stoops: Anyway, so let’s so let’s move on. Let’s

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Casie Gillette: We can hang with us all day.

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Jacob Stoops: Let’s quickly. Let’s get into kind of the team building want to be respectful of time. So let’s jump into the team building component and deep dive on that really quickly. So, Casie. How do you build a good SEO team.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, so this was something that I was asking.

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Casie Gillette: You know, five years ago, six years ago, like I said, when I came back to KoMarketing. Um, there were probably about eight people eight or nine people that were here at the time and you know we were growing and I realized that once you hit that 10 to 12 mark.

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Casie Gillette: You need things like processes which like I hate my life just like God, like, all right, we need to do something like how do we actually make this scalable.

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Casie Gillette: And so I started talking to just different people in the industry about how they have grown their teams, you know, I was talking to will Scott

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Casie Gillette: Talking to Mike Arneson about like what they do for training and, you know, just thinking what these people were telling me I was like okay like

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Casie Gillette: What we actually have to do is, is give people the tools that that are going to make them successful but also you have to give them the process to lead them there. And I think that’s something that I struggled with a little bit

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Casie Gillette: Because I just don’t love having to tell people to do something a certain way because especially with search. There’s so many nuances, you know, and I see people who are like, Okay, well, you told me that I have to have 60 characters. And so I have 16 and I’m like, Oh, no.

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Casie Gillette: I just had

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Jacob Stoops: Somebody today asked me how important the little green bubble is in the Yoast SEO plugin.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah yeah yeah yeah that’s fine. So like you have to consider all that but I mean one of the things that that we realized is

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Casie Gillette: One. You just have to we start people slow

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Casie Gillette: But we also give them that you know we give them templates for things and we give them the tools they need and we give them the information they needed and

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Casie Gillette: You know, now we have managers who are helping and there’s people above them who are we’re guiding them through the process, especially people who they don’t have any experience with SEO. Right. They don’t know what it is. So I would also say the one thing that we have certainly changed.

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Casie Gillette: Is focusing on the user. And that’s one thing that I tell people the team now especially new people.

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Casie Gillette: When it comes to things like keywords is I always tell them like think about the user first. And that’s something that even that I feel like has changed.

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Casie Gillette: But you have to really think through all of the nuances that come with search and and that’s tricky, but I think when you’re building your team, you know, you learn it as you go. I’m still learning new things every day.

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Jeff Louella: Yeah. It’s funny, I always tell

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Jeff Louella: There’s different everyone has different ways of doing things.

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Casie Gillette: Right.

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Jeff Louella: When it comes to the title tags. Like, I’m kind of the anti like pipe between like keyword pipe keyword pipe.

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Jeff Louella: And just I’d rather it read something better and. And at the end, it’s not even like I don’t like pipe client I like you know by client or something, some so read, you know, it’s like

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Jeff Louella: A new Nike sneakers. But, you know, from whoever and it’s

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Jeff Louella: And it just little things like that were getting people in brand new and SEO and they read a lot of articles you just end up seeing it, like, way more robotic than it needs to be. And

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And yeah.

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Jeff Louella: Jake’s working on a lot of training stuff where and our work and it’s kind of, it’s tough to get the full gamut of everything you do.

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Jeff Louella: In there, so we’re trying to build a slow kind of library of videos and that when someone new comes in, they can go through them.

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Casie Gillette: It’s a great idea.

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Jeff Louella: I think just the relationships between

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Jeff Louella: People senior people and junior people is where I think a lot of team building needs to come from. So

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, and I mean even thinking about

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Casie Gillette: Like, how are we starting them so like we don’t just immediately drop someone into like doing keyword research. For example,

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Casie Gillette: But what we might have them do is optimize a page which forces them to figure out like how do I find the right keywords and how do I make sure that

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Casie Gillette: I’m you know I’m whatever I’m changing still relates to the user. But it also forces them to go look at search result so

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Casie Gillette: You know, kind of easing them into all of the elements before saying like, all right, like I’m going to have you go do this, this full scope of keyword research or whatever it might be.

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Jacob Stoops: How do you when you’re bringing people into the team, right, there’s

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Jacob Stoops: Just like in sports, right, there’s, there’s the X’s and O’s. Right. But then there’s also an element that’s a little bit more on definable called chemistry right and fit.

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Jacob Stoops: Within the team structure. So when you’re bringing people in and it doesn’t just have to be intro people, it can be mid level and senior people

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Jacob Stoops: What are the characteristics of a person that you look for in terms of that person’s fit as you’re constructing your team. Yeah.

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Casie Gillette: We said, I mean as an organization, we sat down about two years ago.

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Casie Gillette: And it tried to answer that question because we were we, you know, we really wanted to take hiring, we really take it seriously because again we’re a small team. So the people that you’re hiring. You’re putting a lot of investment into that person.

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Casie Gillette: And what we figured out is the people that were looking for, they have to be self motivated. I think that’s the biggest thing is like, we don’t have time. I don’t have time to micromanage people and also who likes that. Like nobody

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Casie Gillette: Can nobody likes that. So you have to be an element of being self motivated and in this industry where things change, like we’re talking about, you need to go figure. You have to be curious. Right. You have to go figure out

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Casie Gillette: Well, I looked at the search result yesterday, and now I’m seeing something different, like why or like last week, my client was here and now they’re not why

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Casie Gillette: So I think between being self motivated and curious. Those are such like key elements for us in the desire to learn is a big one, a really big one. So I love when we interview someone

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Casie Gillette: Excuse. Excuse me. I love when we interview someone and they say,

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Casie Gillette: Yeah, well I’ve been doing this but I’m really interested in this. So, you know, I went in took like the Google Analytics test because I wanted to learn about it right or

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Casie Gillette: I went and looked at HubSpot x because I wanted to learn about it. That’s the stuff that really intrigues me and I’m like, all right, this person, this person is going to be a good fit. So

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Jacob Stoops: Are there ever and I want to be. We’re running out of time so I’m squeezing squeezing questions. Are there ever people that check those boxes, but then come in and still are in a culture fit and how do you, I guess. How do you figure that

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Casie Gillette: We, we haven’t we haven’t had that honestly it we’ve been so lucky. I met. Oh.

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Casie Gillette: But we do like when the people come in, like, we’re very we work in an open office.

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Casie Gillette: Right. And I’m very just apparent like the questions that we ask are, you know, the questions I asked her what type of environment. Are you looking for. How do you like to be managed. How do you learn

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Casie Gillette: You know what, what is your, your dream job. What you know those questions, kind of, they can give you a lot of insights into that.

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Casie Gillette: But we also will have, like, it’s not just the leadership team who’s interviewing these people. We have their peers come in and talk to them.

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Casie Gillette: We have a, you know, middle managers come in and talk to them. So, you know, at the end, we’re all deciding does this person seem like a fit. And I think that helps

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Casie Gillette: Okay, we’ve had like one, maybe, maybe there’s like one

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Casie Gillette: So we’ve been lucky I guess.

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Jeff Louella: Awesome. So if you know you ain’t got a couple drinks and you’re talking to the bartender and the bartender says

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Jeff Louella: Hey, I want to follow the same steps that you did. I want to get into SEO. What kind of advice would you give them to go like come from, like, you know, bartender waitress or, you know,

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Jeff Louella: Any type of job into the SEO world.

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Casie Gillette: I tell people all the time. Start build a website.

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Casie Gillette: Even though they’re not showing up in search results.

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Casie Gillette: You know, start playing around with WordPress. I think WordPress is the easiest place to start.

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Casie Gillette: But just building your own site. I think that’s your best test environment you’re never going to learn more. That’s how, like, I didn’t know HTML. When I was coming out of school.

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Casie Gillette: I just started playing around with it. I started building my own websites. I’ve read like I got like HTML for dummies. I own I bought SEO for dummies.

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Casie Gillette: Me.

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Casie Gillette: You learn this stuff by doing it.

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Casie Gillette: And that’s never in that goes

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Casie Gillette: Back to the start of our conversation on being in an agency where you have these different places to play and explore and

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Casie Gillette: I would say just go and I tell the team here. Like if you want to learn. People are like, oh, I want to learn HTML, you can, it’s, it’s not really that hard.

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Casie Gillette: There’s plenty of places to do these things, but go start go start playing around and read. I mean, I read an hour every day. So every I pay attention to what’s what’s whether it’s on Twitter, whether it’s on my feed Lee feeds. I still read every single day to learn what else is new.

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Jacob Stoops: Reading is very, very important and underrated skill in this industry.

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Jacob Stoops: Well. Casie I’m know you’re running out of time and have a hard stop wanted to thank you so much for coming on. Where can people find you.

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Casie Gillette: Yeah. Thanks for having me. This was fun. You can find me on twitter at Casie G. You can find me. I always say this, I’m LinkedIn. I’ve never on LinkedIn. Don’t find me there.

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Casie Gillette: Find me at KoMarketing com

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Jeff Louella: Cool, thank you so much.

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Jacob Stoops: For coming on and I know our audience will will love your episode. It was a great, great discussion.

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Casie Gillette: Well, thanks. It’s good to talk to you guys.

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Jacob Stoops: Thank you.

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To talk to you.

#29: Kelly Stanze

Episode Summary

In this episode, we talk with Kelly Stanze, SEO specialist at Hallmark.

We discuss how she started in marketing, how it led her to SEO, and how she eventually made it to Hallmark.

We also discuss a ton of other topics including:

  • What it’s like to get laid off, how to cope with failure in a way that makes you stronger,
  • Agency versus In-House
  • Deep dive into Holiday SEO & Snowman poop
  • Talk about evergreen content strategy
  • Our thoughts on Google’s BERT
  • Google Search Console’s new page speed reports
  • Work life balance
  • Importance of relationships

And much more.

Episode Transcript

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Hey everybody this is Jacob Stoops and we are back with another episode of the page to podcast and today we have an extra special guest, and given that the

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It has turned into the holiday season. This guest is extremely appropriate to have on right now, but with us is Kelly stanzi search specialist at Hallmark. How you doing, Kelly.

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Good. How are you, I

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Am I am awesome and before we, before we kind of jump in. I’m Jeff. Say hi. Sorry, I forgot to introduce you

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Hey, howdy. Hey,

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We don’t care about Jeff.

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Yes, we do. Jeff.

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I appreciate. Thank you.

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We are. I was just gonna say before we kind of dive in. I don’t know if you guys have been noticing it like two events for me recently.

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Have triggered the fact that, and I can’t believe it, that it is holiday season, yet again, one happened about four weeks ago and it infuriated me when I walked into Home Depot and the Christmas trees were already up

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Like Sons of bitches. It’s October 1 like

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What the heck it and it just seems to be getting

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earlier and earlier and earlier every year and then yesterday I was in the line at Starbucks and I didn’t realize that it was the official release of their new holiday cups and

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Cups. Yeah, to put it in perspective. Like, I went today. I’m kind of a Starbucks fiend, and I went today and I went yesterday.

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Yesterday, I had to wait in line for like 30 minutes and it was insane. Today I went through the drive thru in under like under four minutes or five minutes. So it’s holiday season. So it’s really appropriate that you’re on Kelly.

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You know i i think i actually have one of the best holiday season stories ever as far as seasonality goes, I have an 11 MONTH OLD AND HIS BIRTHDAY IS NOVEMBER 27 and last year. Cyber Monday. Remember e commerce retail day job.

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His birthday was the day after Cyber Monday last year. So I actually checked into the hospital and started my maternity leave on Cyber Monday.

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Wow. Wow.

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Yeah.

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Give him to try me.

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No, no, no. And he was worth it and

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You know what a good deal. Yeah.

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We had absolutely amazing coverage like my team is fantastic but it’s just so funny that I

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My day job at least is at such a seasonally relevant

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Company and oh by the way I’m going to miss the busy season and I didn’t come back until the week after Valentine’s Day, which is also a huge holiday for homework. So that’s kind of funny. Um,

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But then, yeah, even, even on the freelance side the side hustle stuff I end up having quite a bit of seasonality, just because

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I do work with small businesses and nonprofits. So if you’re working with a local photographer, you know her busy season is going to be in October, helping people get ready for Christmas cards and

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Nonprofit nonprofits are scrambling to get their, their donation campaigns ready for the holiday season as well. So it’s like

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Q4 is the linchpin of the entire year.

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It’s the busy season.

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In a for any agency Q4 is always the busy season. That’s where you like. You definitely are expected to put in a lot of lot of overtime. So it’s just call it, it’s just it is what it is. It’s the busy season.

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So Kelly take us take us through your career. Like I feel like I’ve said this a million times. I’m going to say it again in case there are first time listeners, the hallmark of this show.

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Is telling the origin stories of great SEOs. And not only that, but talking about just the Trials. Trials and tribulations of what it’s like to be an SEO day to day in things that are

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Important like work life balance. The, the mental side of things.

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And I, and I kind of want to dive into that, but so take us take us through your career. How did you get to SEO. How did you get to homework.

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Well, I took the winding road.

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I actually started accidentally landing social media internships in college.

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And my degree was an interactive design. So it was loosely relevant like, Oh, I can make this meme. And I can edit this video and publish this podcast and build a landing page, but for the most part, I sort of fell into the social media space.

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And I got hired by one of the agencies that I interned for in their KANSAS CITY OFFICE. After graduation, so moved down here from the Chicagoland area and

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Started working for an agriculture agency and I loved it. Like I was in Florida and FFA and high school and now a farm girl living in the suburbs and

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Then, a year and a half after they moved me to Kansas City. They laid me off. So I’m 23 years old really only knew my boyfriend at the time was now my husband.

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And was trying to figure out what came next. And he was like, you know, the SEO team at the agency that I used to work for

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Actually manages social media for clients to so you should consider applying there and I did and I got it, but ended up realizing that I actually loved SEO way more than I had ever like I was okay at social media and it was cool. I got to brag about some fun projects.

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But I would come to work every day excited about.

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All the things when I was doing SEO.

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And just, I feel like I I found my niche there and ended up kind of

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Getting tapped for a really large clients at that agency had and got to enjoy the dedicated specialist life for a year, which

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Anyone that has ever had just one client at an agency knows what a big deal. That is, and really got to spread my wings.

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About two years after I started at that agency there was kind of a shift in the business model and the ownership and I decided it might be time to see if there was a new chapter on the horizon for me and I

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Kind of on a whim applied for hallmark and got it and I’ve been here for years. That’s a lot of Q force to serve.

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But I’m throughout that entire journey I’ve also been doing freelancing on the side with small businesses nonprofits niche groups I helped with a website for a pig show in Texas, one time.

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Because I’m one of the few SEO specialist out there that does have agricultural industry experience so that I keep coming back to that. That’s hilarious.

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Um, yes, I do have a poop question later so

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Okay, I can, I can probably answer that for you.

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As a mother, you should be an expert in that at this point.

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Oh boy.

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Um, so yeah, I didn’t. I cut you off there. I couldn’t resist the end to talk about poop.

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So you you got laid off. What was that like

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It was awful. Um, you know, I had

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My boyfriend now has been probably six months and I just remember like hanging out at his apartment was nothing to do just crying because I had always

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focus so much of my identity and my career. Up until that point. And even after that.

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I really didn’t kind of understand how to shift like my self worth, out of my career as much until I became a mom.

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But when you’re that invested in your career and your this young, hot shot that had this cool agency job and you are going to take the world by storm. And then suddenly you’re unemployed and a city 500 miles from your home, trying to figure out what you’re going to do.

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That’s scary. And I think I was more scared of not knowing who I was, or what my career was going to be than I necessarily was about being far from home and a place I’ve only lived for just over a year.

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Obviously I decided to stay and put my roots down deeper here in Kansas City. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, but at the time it was

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Just so much uncertainty and such a blow to who I thought I was because

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I was supposed to be taking the world by storm and and forging a path for myself and now I’m just like standing here like okay

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I can pay the bills for two weeks on my severance okay this is nice.

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And it worked out. It was actually I recently wrote a piece for search engine journal about kind of like the parallels between my

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Mental health journey and my career and like just the the deep intertwining between those two things and

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I made a note of calling out that the best things that have ever happened to me. Usually looked like a disaster at the time. So I really bad breakup in college, losing that first job fresh out of college and falling into a CEO and you know at the time that was

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I’m getting old now.

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I’m not even sure how many years ago that was

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At the time, no SEO or social media really only had like some surface level vanity metrics that you could look at and I got into SEO and looked at this, like depths of knowledge that you could get from Search Console and analytics, even though they had just switched to not provided.

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And that’s not even touching like the SEO specific

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platforms like mas and bright edge or conductor or a dress, you know, we all, we all know the list.

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So I realized that I was actually for the first time really using both sides of my brain. And that was something I needed.

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So yeah, losing that first job and being able to sort of tap into a piece of myself that I didn’t know was there and kind of needed to be fed and nurtured was actually like a happy accident and yeah

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I was gonna ask. So like you. You made an interesting point about like the things

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That at first look like disasters, end up turning out to be really, really good things in your, in your life, and I’m a huge in the same as for me, I’m a huge believer in

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In fate and being in the right place at the right time. And there have been a lot of instances of that in my life. So now,

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With kind of that new outlook when something big like that happens in your life. How has that experience, change the way you attack problems or how is it made you better. How did you pull yourself up by the bootstraps.

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Oh,

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Get to that good place.

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Yeah. Um, I think it’s really, it’s dependent on the chapter and the situation.

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You know the I’ve mentioned in passing a bad breakup in college. My coping mechanism for that was

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Okay, I’m going to take these out of state internships and like go live my life. So I got to spend a summer living in Sacramento, California. Now for a kid in the Midwest, like that’s a huge experience.

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And that’s the internship that ended up landing to here in Kansas City where I have this amazing, fantastic like said I love

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So yeah i i don’t know i think in that situation. It was like a

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Almost like a kind of juvenile I’ll show you type thing, but then when I got laid off, it was more about, like, okay.

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I think I can take a risk here because I have nothing to lose. I don’t. It’s not like I have a job to worry about. So I did go out on a limb and apply for an SEO team that did some social media, knowing that I would be stretching my my comfort zone. So

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If I had to distill it down to like one coping mechanism. It’s usually

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If I know something’s coming I stew in the dread for forever. And I get super anxious, but once I’m in it. It’s just like, Okay, what now. And yeah, you know, is this, is this a turning point. Do I need to pivot and typically when I have pivoted it’s ended up working out.

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Yeah, I think we’ve all

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Had to pivot at one time. I mean, I’m way older than both you guys so um I pivoted a lot in my career started off you know as web designer.

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It was interesting because everything to me. I think was a

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All luck. I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s interesting. I got it all goes because started off wanting to learn 3D animation.

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Really was bad at that but learned along the way was really bad design, but no one else did it.

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Learned code at the same time and moved into SEO, mostly because I was willing to take those chances and, you know, not many people were

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You know, doing this stuff at the time, and it wasn’t really a, you know, I lived through the.com boom and then bust. Right. I went to bartending school at that night because I was like, well, when the internet goes away.

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I’m gonna be a bartender, because at least I can make some money while I, you know, find something else to do. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

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I mean, I didn’t think it was gonna happen. But I mean, a lot of companies went out of business. At that time, and there was been through.

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A bunch of layoffs. Luckily not on the layoff side, but there were some companies I knew right away, like when it was happening and I was already on the lookout to go somewhere else. Because like you just some people were just sitting there.

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Yeah, what’s

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Next,

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So, so yeah, having kind of the insight and just having the bravery to be able to just jump and figure that out.

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Well, and I think there’s there’s something to be said for just when you’re in it. There’s certain level of like survival instincts that he can, like,

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I was, I was very fortunate in that I was only unemployed for two weeks.

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Oh, yeah.

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Yeah, most, most people don’t get that kind of that kind of luck following Ola, and I have not. I’ve

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See, I’ve been in the professional world eight years now and I have not worked at a company that did not experience layoffs while I was there.

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And luckily, I was one of those people only one of those times at one of those companies, but it’s just it’s a fact of the world like organizations re

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Organized they realign their budgets and it’s going to happen if you work in marketing or digital or agency side, whatever your role is client side or on the service side it’s going to happen. And I think a lot of people underestimate.

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Just that drive to just put your head down and solve it when you’re in it because that’s, that’s really where I was. And I remember a whole lot of those two weeks because I was in such like a

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Know the word I’m thinking like tunnel vision.

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For really figuring out what came next. Like I just remember for two weeks. I just, I went to interviews I filled out applications. And I went running. That was a that was only for two weeks.

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But then I did end up getting hired for that first job. And then I had this the first job after the layoff. And I had this like kind of moment where I was like, well, I’m probably not going to be doing what I’ve been doing. So then the survival mode kicked back in because it’s like okay

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Let’s figure this out. Sink or swim and it ended up being fantastic and I had wonderful mentors and that was years ago now and those people are still friends and mentors to me.

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So yeah, I just, I think.

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There’s just something to be said for the tenacity and the stick to witness to just get through it.

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And you underestimate your ability to do it until you’re actually in it. And it’s like, oh, I’m looking back and I survived that. Yeah, sometimes.

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You’re, you’re tougher than you think. Sometimes when you think

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So I’ve actually I’ve only worked on the agency side of things, it’s really been

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Interesting my career path. I’ve always wondered on like going in house, how would it be different than agency life. I feel sometimes

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I have it, like, oh, being in house would be a little slow because I’m only working on one website instead of 50 and then sometimes I’m like hey I would actually want to get something done working on website over 50. What were some of your experiences going from agency to in house.

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Um, it is never slow

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That’s good.

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I’m I’m never bored. That’s great. I think it’s

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Politically, it’s different priorities wise different resources, it’s different.

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But it also depends on the company. There are a lot of agile companies out there that feel a lot more like an agency. And then there’s plenty of agencies that because of the vertical they work in or

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You know regulations within their specialist fields or even just like massive size. They’re not quick and they’re not full of a ton of variety. So

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I and I hate to generalize agency versus in house because really, they’re all they’re all different. You know, my second agency was completely different than my first and

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My internship agencies were completely different than my big kid agencies.

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But at the same time, I think there’s the one big difference is kind of your sense of ownership.

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At the end of the day when your client side. Usually the buck stops at you.

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And you have all this extra risk and accountability that you’re taking on when you’re, you’re the client and you’re the last line of defense against whatever it is that could be going wrong.

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But at the same time, you also like have a way more ownership. I mean, some agencies, you can’t even tell people who your clients are

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So if you do something really cool. You can’t necessarily even brag about it. Whereas on a daily basis. I get to to be openly proud of what we’ve got going on and I can point at that website or the several websites. I’m involved in and be like, guys, I did that. That’s my project.

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That’s great.

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That’s a, you’re right. I think I have a couple of his studies that are just a

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Somebody in this industry to this.

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Yeah well and if I’m

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I mean it’s it’s weird because obviously there’s cons to any job I anytime I talk to a young professional now. Like what’s your, your, you know, major life advice I’m always like, there’s no such thing as a perfect job.

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Every job has its giant pile of poop. And it’s about finding the company whose giant pile of poop smells the least bad to you.

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But they all have good fit.

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And ultimately, like

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I can deal with most piles of poo, but I think

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my train of thought. We started talking about poop. And now I’m thinking about buying diapers later.

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Well, the funny thing is I always say to people like, don’t get me wrong. I like my job, but like if I had a choice. I wouldn’t be working, I’d be off on some island or, you know, who knows who knows where. And I always say like

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Nobody is going to be on their deathbed, saying, I wish, I wish I’d worked more

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Yeah, so that actually is really, really good advice because like I’ve had

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Jobs that I’ve hated and I’ve had jobs that I love. And for me, like, there’s always a reason to find a problem with a job. If you want to find a problem with a job and in something that I’ve had to learn over the course of

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My kind of professional experiences like sometimes you just have to be happy with kind of the imperfections of the job and appreciate all of the good points. And I, being a glass half empty sort of person struggle with that sometimes

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In yes sometimes you just have to like let certain things go and just be happy with the good points of have a job.

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Well, and I think SEO any job has its own

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unique challenges. But I think when you work in an ambiguous field that maybe outsiders don’t understand very well like SEO. I think there’s an added layer of challenge that

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People in other fields just might might not fully grasp, like I have joked in the past about

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Have A DOG BARKING

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I’ve joked in the past about how

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You know, like a third of my job or something like that was just like, explaining things to people and getting getting buy in both the agency and client side and

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Sorry we so little sidebar about me. My husband and I have 26 pets, most of which are rescues

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And one of them is very opinionated right now.

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Whoa. That is a lot of pets.

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Yeah, do you want to do something with elder. Thank you.

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Um, my husband works from home to

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Us.

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Hey, where are we, yeah.

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We were talking about. What were we talking about Jeff i’d coming up attention. Sorry, I was marking the time second cut that out.

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A lot about poop.

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$28 whereas

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Let me get started let me get us started back out or started back up. So in reading your, your account I followed your account for a while and I didn’t realize until today.

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That, like, here I am thinking I tweet a lot, and I’ve got like a couple thousand tweets you you have 51,000

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Or 51 point 4000 tweets, which I was like holy shit, that’s a lot of tweets and then the, the one that caught my eye today.

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As I was doing a little, a little pre show research and I just want to read it because I think it’s funny.

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If anyone’s curious what it’s like to work in e commerce for for hallmark I got an email and the only content that showed in the preview outlook provided was snowman poop. And I had to ask about the snowman poop. So tell me about the snowman poop.

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Apparently there’s wind up toys out there that poop jelly beans and we will have a snowman shaped one as a stocking stuffer. I guess.

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Wow. So now I know what I’m getting my kids as a stocking stuffer this year.

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Yeah, last year we had reindeer. So I think this year, we have a snowman.

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Kids have the reindeer.

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You have

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Your poop.

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Or just know it’s Ranger the poops. Okay. Yeah.

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There’s a little brown jelly beans. Yeah, I assume this no man’s will be like my jelly beans.

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Never thought about that. I’m so sorry to the outside of all the poop. What’s it like to work at hallmark

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Really jolly Christmas tree started going up this week. But the biggest thing is Hallmark is a privately owned company and I have a very extensive NDA.

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So,

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You don’t get to share all that goodness

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Yes, it’s a must tell you that my job is absurd. A lot of this.

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Yeah, it sounds like a lot of it is based around I’m immediately thinking with my SEO brain on it’s based around probably optimizing for a lot of these these brands in these

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This kind of different, different series and obviously I’m a huge Harry Potter person.

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Which is weird, because I’m a 37 year old man, and I’m into Harry Potter. So it’s not the most

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What’s your house.

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Huh.

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What’s your house.

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Oh, of course. I’m Griffin door, of course.

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Oh,

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The hero. But although I will say, I took a test. A couple of years ago and it placed me in huff and puff. So I don’t know what that says about

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A hopeless. Yeah, we

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Are the house of hard work and loyalty and snacks and that is where I go. Haha.

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There you go, well, yeah, there you go, that I think that actually does describe me pretty well. So I kind of get it but always want to think of myself as a griffin door.

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Yeah, and are so yeah there’s, there’s a lot of work that goes into optimizing for our licenses. But one thing that people maybe don’t realize is, like, I’m starting work on Christmas and like March.

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Because we actually have highly collectible stuff that launches on the site in April, that are most passionate customers will go after

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And it’s hilarious because I’ll be sitting at my desk, listening to Christmas music in the middle of the spring, because what I’m working on, guys. Might as well get in the mood.

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Christmas in July. So let’s let’s save that, because for those people. We don’t often

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Talk about at the beginning of the show. What we’re going to deep dive on but Surprise, surprise, we’re going to deep dive on holiday and seasonal SEO, but before we do that, Jeff. What’s, what’s in the news this week.

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Cool. So first up, I’m not really brand new news, but it’s been something that’s been in the news, since it’s been released, and that is Bert, the new natural language processing.

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Algorithm. I guess we’ll call it that is brought into Google, Google said it was actually the biggest update to their algorithm since rank brain. I think that came out five years ago.

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But it’s been interesting because we haven’t really seen any changes. I look at MA’s cast and Alec have ruined.

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Everything actually looks better than normal because it’s usually like a little bit of a stormy day. It seems like it’s a nice spring weather with all those

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Kind of casters right now, it’s, it’s an interesting approach. I thought it was something Google has been doing forever anyway.

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Maybe not naming it Burt but they have really been always talking about, you know, they’re trying to find the information, trying to find the the context between everything

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Schema has been a great part of that like trying to add meaning to stuff it just seems like now we just have a fancier algorithm to do that.

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Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on it. And at the end of the day it’s it’s not something we can really optimize towards though I did read an article where New York Times says that they since birth has launched they’ve lost a lot of traffic.

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Not sure if that’s, I haven’t seen any of my clients or anything like that. I don’t know. Kelly. If you’ve seen anything since the launch of Burt positive or negative with it.

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Honestly, I haven’t seen significant change anywhere. Um,

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I i think the irony of New York Times, saying that losing traffic is virtually supposed to negatively impact 10% of all searches and the ones that are supposed to impact our websites that don’t write for human consumption as well.

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So it’s, it’s definitely interesting to see that, you know, in this first wave, you know, one of the most world renown media sources there is is is one of the ones discussing penalties, but

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I think we’ve still got a lot to see as far as Burt’s impacts. I think this this season is one of search volatility.

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In general, just because user habits are changing with holiday shopping and that sort of thing. So I think

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When things sort of settled down in the new year. I think will maybe see a more mature version of of bird arise, whether that’s through updates from Google, or just

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The new normal kind of settling in. Right. But I also am of the opinion that if you’re writing good content that’s people focused, you’re going to be fine. No.

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I agree. I think when we look at it. The reason we have a website right it’s, it’s, we really want to be able to write for our customers. And I always have a little thing where I

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To little nitpicky thing but like I don’t call my customers users and it’s I don’t say very for users. I’m like writing for customers and running for people because it just

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backs that up. I was like, who I’m actually writing for I wouldn’t be like a my, my favorite user, you know, it’s like

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You know, it’s a something dumb that I always kind of pick on that, but I really do feel like if you’re just not trying to write to rank and you’re actually trying to inform it’ll be the most beneficial thing you can do for your side. Yes, and

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And honestly, like that’s that’s the core of SEO to begin with. Like I part of what I evangelize.

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And all of the the arena as I touched from a search standpoint is

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SEO is actually a form of customer service. If you do it right, you are there to fulfill a need or answer a question and SEO is just making sure that you are detail oriented about how you position yourself to fulfill that need

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So as long as you keep that mindset, you are probably going to be fine with Burt that said

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We all know that major algorithm updates can cause some blips and some destabilize stations and like I said, I think we’re probably going to see more stable and mature version of it early next year.

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So the funny thing about Burt and for me about algorithm changes in general is like honestly I’ve only been a part of one website.

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Well, I shouldn’t say that, but one one where I knew for sure that it was an algorithm change and that Google had just throttle.

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The site down and then later on when they made an update it throttled it back up and like for me. I’m a very bottom line person and like

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I think about birth, and I think about in that instance when I know that it happened as a result of an algorithm update like what do I change.

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In my day to day what what changes. And for me, like, really, it’s not a damn thing about what I’ve been doing, like, I’m not like

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I see a lot of people talking about other people who are writing about optimizing for birth and I’m

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And I’m just like, Well, honestly, like what I what I feel like Burt is really intended to do is to really break up and understand queries and understand the intent behind the queries and

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Hopefully divvy up the results by, like, hey, this query is someone looking for looking for information this query is looking for

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Somebody looking for support this query is looking for somebody who is looking to transact or buy something and to serve up the results based on that. Well,

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If you’re doing your job as an SEO, you’re already looking in. Maybe not at the level of a computer or a machine, but you’re already looking at all of these keywords that you want to target and you’re already thinking about the intent behind them in terms of what kinds of

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Web pages are being surfaced up and if you’re not doing that you should

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But for me, because I’m already doing that. It’s like, well, it doesn’t change anything. It’s like rank brain. It didn’t really change anything for me. So like for me.

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It’s kind of like a big buzzword in the industry and it’s something that everybody is talking about. And I just am like, yeah, doesn’t really doesn’t really affect me.

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Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. And I think the writing’s on the wall for this for a while, um, you know, Google has been very vocal about putting end users first whether their customers or just information gatherers or

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People doing research projects. Someone recently asked on Twitter. When was the first time you ever use the internet and I talked about doing a research project on beluga whales and like second or third grade.

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Just a little aside, I like that story, um, the thing is like micro moments were such a like hot buzzword for a while there. And really, I think,

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Burt is essentially placing a logic behind understanding those micro moments more if anyone is shocked that Google introduced a new layer of AI that helps people match their intent with their search results a little bit better, they probably haven’t been in search very long, in my opinion.

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It’s funny because we always see all of these knee jerk reactions. Every time there’s a an algorithm update and very, very rarely

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Is anyone actually one of those brands that tanks are suddenly spikes.

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And usually when it happens, it ends up course correcting at some point in time anyways so it’s still about the long game of write good content. Have a good site give the content, the technical structure. It needs to be able to be crawled and found and indexed and served

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This is, you know, for lack of a better cliche. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And I think the Burt rollouts IS JUST TO TURN ON THE RACE ROUTE.

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I think

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The person who comes out the worst. And this is actually the character bird because they use this image and everything. And it’s going to really

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Use image search

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How many birds.

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birds, birds, never got this kind of publicity. Yeah, exactly.

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someone tweeted that there are waiting to see what the cost of the domain Ernie SEO would be like in a week or so because people are trying to go after it.

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Crazy SEO.

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And

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Awesome, so do the other thing I haven’t news is kind of a just we talked about it before, but it’s actually officially rolled out now is the Google page, page report inside of Google Search Console.

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We’re really looking forward to this because I’ve really been trying to hone in a lot of my clients on PHP and just convince them like, hey, this is something at Google, like

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Here’s all these articles how Google says it’s important. Like it’s important for your customers. It’s important for search

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And still have a lot of customers who are happy, six, seven second load times

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And it’s like, no, no. We need to get better. And actually, it’s really hard to show when you have a million pages I give them like here’s a five page speed report or here’s 30 pages and

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It’s really hard to show a whole thing. When we look at, like, something like Google Analytics. We don’t have a great page report inside of there so

337
00:45:55.290 –> 00:46:02.460
I like the Google’s pushing this and kind of them, showing that they’re pushing it. You know, it helps me with my clients like look, now you can give us give

338
00:46:03.150 –> 00:46:15.810
Sorry, I’m getting tongue tied Google’s really like pushing this to show us that it’s even more important by giving it to webmasters and with anything make it an SEO factor and you have a slew of people that are going to push this just like

339
00:46:17.310 –> 00:46:25.710
Like everything else they put out like make your site HTTPS and just say it’s a ranking factor. Now SEOs are like making every one of their clients go HTTPS.

340
00:46:26.490 –> 00:46:32.730
It’s kind of amazing how we can push the whole internet to roll something out but page has been fairly tough.

341
00:46:33.120 –> 00:46:43.290
Because it’s not as easy as getting your certificate and making yourself, you know, secure, it’s a lot harder to accomplish. But some of the reports mean Jake were talking about earlier.

342
00:46:44.940 –> 00:46:50.310
I mean, I know this is experimental. I know it’s a first released, but there is a lot to be

343
00:46:51.510 –> 00:47:00.390
Wanted in the secret for it’s a, it’s great. We have a trend, but there’s not much else after that. So, Jake. I know you have an opinion on that.

344
00:47:00.840 –> 00:47:03.270
I have an opinion on everything SEO really

345
00:47:04.620 –> 00:47:11.040
Funny thing is like outside of my day to day job, like I’m so easy going and I don’t have an opinion, it’s like

346
00:47:11.580 –> 00:47:22.680
It’s like, hey, where do you want to go to dinner. I don’t care. And with SEO. It’s like, I have an opinion on every, every thing. And I’m now everybody’s got to hear it because I have a podcast. So let me tell you.

347
00:47:23.490 –> 00:47:24.750
The Page Speed reports.

348
00:47:26.400 –> 00:47:40.800
directionally they’re really awesome between both Google Search Console and what Screaming Frog has come out with the big problem. And the big, the big pain in the ass about page speed is just what Jeff said like when you’re trying to

349
00:47:42.120 –> 00:47:51.540
When you’re dealing with sites that are large and in some cases really large. There’s no way to give them enough of a representative sample of

350
00:47:52.500 –> 00:48:03.870
page load times to really kind of really make an impact. Right. If you give them 25 pages when they’ve got a million page website. Well, that’s like, that’s just dropping the hat.

351
00:48:04.560 –> 00:48:19.200
But in the same in the same breath, like you as a person. Don’t have the time to manually go through that many pages and pull down all of the metrics that tools like web page tests, Google page speed insights GT metrics.

352
00:48:19.860 –> 00:48:28.590
Lighthouse that they all provide they all provide really great data, but until this Google Search Console report and until things like Screaming Frog.

353
00:48:29.250 –> 00:48:38.970
It was really hard to go site wide and get a larger sweep of how page speed which trending on all pages of a website. Now here’s the here’s the flip side.

354
00:48:39.300 –> 00:48:51.720
I actually went in and tried to use the Google Search Console Page Speed reports today and I went so far as to send a screenshot to one of my clients who is struggling with Page Speed to say, hey,

355
00:48:52.500 –> 00:49:03.600
Here’s what Google is saying about your page speed and on mobile. I’m several thousand. I don’t even want to go into the page numbers but like 75% of your pages are deemed slow

356
00:49:04.260 –> 00:49:18.000
The other 25% are deemed average and zero percent of your pages are deemed fast and I sent them say go look at this, go look at this report and Search Console, Mr or Mrs client and

357
00:49:18.690 –> 00:49:27.450
I sent that and then like without absent mindedly like diving any further into the search Council reports. So that’s definitely my fault for not diving further before I sent it.

358
00:49:28.290 –> 00:49:33.390
I looked at Search Console and i and i clicked in like okay show more details.

359
00:49:33.870 –> 00:49:45.930
And I realized for the first time that like it is only showing a very small sample of if it’s saying like, you’ve got 5000 pages that are slow it’s giving you a sample of, like, five

360
00:49:46.410 –> 00:49:53.550
And it’s not even telling you what the issues are on a page on a page by page basis. So I was a little disappointed when I went in.

361
00:49:54.300 –> 00:50:09.750
It was a little bit of a wah wah moment and I’ll have surely have to explain that to the client when they go and look at it and don’t figure anything out based on the report, but it is directionally a move in the right step in the right direction. So I do

362
00:50:09.870 –> 00:50:12.480
Well, and I think the biggest thing that

363
00:50:14.160 –> 00:50:26.220
That report within Search Console and even the the paradigm shifts, we’re seeing in new search console in general is a new chapter in the relationship between Google and search engine strategist.

364
00:50:26.760 –> 00:50:33.510
Um, you know i i got started in SEO right as Google was taking away keyword data from Google Analytics.

365
00:50:34.230 –> 00:50:45.780
And even to this day I’ll meet with people and they’re like, well, what does our Google Analytics data say about our keywords. So I’m like, it’s not in there. It’s in Search Console, like I can get you keyword data.

366
00:50:46.380 –> 00:50:53.760
But it’s not in Google Analytics anymore because Google give us and Google taketh away. Well now it’s starting to give us more back

367
00:50:54.630 –> 00:51:02.310
And, you know, at one point in time we were all those people dropping and single URLs into the mobile page speed tester.

368
00:51:02.640 –> 00:51:12.720
And trying to use that to benchmark the page speed of our site and how we could perform and mobile and now you’ve got people like JOHN MUELLER everyone’s SEO dad who I love,

369
00:51:14.460 –> 00:51:23.640
Out there actually telling us how to answer our questions and solve problems and, you know, Danny Sullivan actually saying yes, there was an algorithm update

370
00:51:24.330 –> 00:51:41.640
So even if, at times, it feels like some of the reports aren’t as useful as we might like or you know there’s they’re still obviously experimental are in beta. At the same time, this is way better than the days when it’s like I don’t know my

371
00:51:42.030 –> 00:51:43.740
Query greatness.

372
00:51:43.950 –> 00:51:52.440
Yeah. And yeah, I feel like I feel like the, the, the little boy who complains on Christmas when he didn’t get enough great Christmas presents, but like

373
00:51:53.760 –> 00:52:09.330
I mean like if that’s actually that that theme aligns with what we’re talking about in a couple of seconds but directionally, like I said, it’s awesome. It really is. I’m glad I just can’t wait till like they add a little bit more behind the scenes and make me

374
00:52:10.560 –> 00:52:12.390
Allow me to be more lazy, I should say.

375
00:52:15.240 –> 00:52:18.270
Yeah, I’m definitely curious to see how it keeps evolving.

376
00:52:19.500 –> 00:52:26.550
Admittedly, pretty much every site I touch right now has load time issues.

377
00:52:27.570 –> 00:52:33.030
Or at least plenty of room for improvement, but I literally just sat on a webinar on Monday that was about

378
00:52:34.230 –> 00:52:36.810
WPS and amp and

379
00:52:37.890 –> 00:52:38.820
How

380
00:52:39.990 –> 00:52:55.620
Essentially, there’s no such thing as a perfect score for site speed. That’s always a work in progress. And even if you have almost instantaneous loading, there’s still going to be things that Google’s going to see and be like, hey, you can do that better.

381
00:52:57.660 –> 00:53:07.650
So I think it’s interesting, and obviously mobile really keeps the conversation on on Page Speed propelling forward.

382
00:53:09.540 –> 00:53:16.800
Don’t even get me started on how mobile cues end up impacting voice performance to since that’s on everyone’s mind as well.

383
00:53:17.520 –> 00:53:35.520
So we’re going to keep hearing about it. But I also think that we are still kind of immature in the space of Page Speed analysis and optimization were leaps and bounds ahead of where we were when I started in this field, but I think that’s like the next big

384
00:53:36.960 –> 00:53:41.190
Continuation of, like, what’s coming in tech SEO. Yeah.

385
00:53:43.260 –> 00:53:48.030
So Jeff, is that all the news, because I’m I’m chomping at the bit. I’ve got a story to tell.

386
00:53:49.050 –> 00:53:49.710
Tell the story.

387
00:53:50.640 –> 00:54:03.300
Alright, so we’re going to deep dive into holiday SEO and hopefully I can find some nice holiday music to delve over this section, maybe some Jingle Bells. But anyways,

388
00:54:04.680 –> 00:54:05.850
I have a story to tell.

389
00:54:07.290 –> 00:54:10.410
And it is, I think, very similar to

390
00:54:11.460 –> 00:54:19.140
Maybe an experience that Kelly might have been is not allowed to divulge as as much but my story is actually very

391
00:54:20.670 –> 00:54:21.720
Very much.

392
00:54:22.860 –> 00:54:27.480
In here, I’m going to edit that out. I just snapped food. I never do that. Um,

393
00:54:29.040 –> 00:54:42.330
Let me start over. I’ve got a story to tell and it is a bout a client who their name rhymes with bakery barmes. Anybody know who they are. Maybe, maybe not.

394
00:54:43.050 –> 00:54:59.340
And they are very interesting in that they make 90% of their revenue between November and December and basically their entire year is spent planning for a two month period.

395
00:54:59.760 –> 00:55:02.760
They’re busy period where they make all of their all of their money.

396
00:55:03.570 –> 00:55:23.910
And one of the interesting challenges, working with them that we ran into. And we worked with them. And this is a previous agency we work with them for many, many years, and I wasn’t always on the account. I was on it for three years before I ended up leaving leaving that ad agency and

397
00:55:24.930 –> 00:55:33.060
The problem was that they wanted a an SEO strategy and a paid strategy and it made sense for paid, but not SEO.

398
00:55:34.050 –> 00:55:42.150
Where they turn the lights on in September and when the season was over, they turn the lights off and they stopped investing

399
00:55:42.480 –> 00:55:50.490
And they essentially went dark. And when the new season came back around. They turn the lights on, turn the lights off.

400
00:55:51.120 –> 00:55:57.210
So on the paid side. Like I said, this is a great strategy because like Why waste all your money at the time of year when it doesn’t matter.

401
00:55:57.600 –> 00:56:03.150
But on the SEO side. This was a horrible strategy and no amount of us telling them that

402
00:56:03.810 –> 00:56:12.240
made an impact and till I got on the account and keep in mind I was saying the same thing. I didn’t do anything special. They just for whatever reason, were more ready to hear it.

403
00:56:12.600 –> 00:56:20.670
When I was saying the same thing. And they eventually eventually change their ways. But what would happen is, every single year.

404
00:56:21.210 –> 00:56:36.870
Our poor SEO teams would would be able to start in September and they’re they’re real kind of drop dead date for getting any they really honestly had about a month to a month and a half to get any recommendations that they wanted

405
00:56:37.710 –> 00:56:44.730
Into the system in time to make it on the site because implementation takes a long time. Well, the problem is

406
00:56:45.540 –> 00:56:52.620
Every year, because the this particular client didn’t invest the resources with turnover.

407
00:56:52.890 –> 00:57:03.330
Because you don’t have consistent work you’re working in an agency. They slot you where the work is so it would be new resources, they would be performing an all new evaluation. Every year the results.

408
00:57:03.690 –> 00:57:14.760
Would go up and as soon as soon as the season would would end, they would go down and you’d pretty much have to rebuild the damn every single year.

409
00:57:15.180 –> 00:57:23.610
And if you’re a if you’re a client and or if you’re somebody is working with an agency hell if you’re not working with an agency.

410
00:57:24.510 –> 00:57:35.700
I highly recommend against this and I highly recommend implementing what we just honestly we just called it an evergreen always on SEO strategy for the sake of them, but like a normal strategy.

411
00:57:36.420 –> 00:57:46.500
And luckily, we find it like we were we somehow magically ended up helping them, we were successful with them, and especially successful

412
00:57:47.130 –> 00:57:55.230
During my time on the on the account in terms of driving incremental gains in revenue. But the most success for me was when they decided

413
00:57:55.710 –> 00:57:57.990
To leave the lights on in January.

414
00:57:58.470 –> 00:58:10.350
And actually allow us to work ahead and have time to do things like work on technical and get those things in there already full development queue to launch evergreen content or

415
00:58:10.590 –> 00:58:18.060
Pages like Black Friday Cyber Monday and for oh by the way all of the other holidays that were big for them and to tell them

416
00:58:18.690 –> 00:58:29.730
Don’t turn those pages off when the season was over, because that happened to they would rebuild in a brand new black friday page every single year instead of just allowing it to

417
00:58:30.270 –> 00:58:38.040
Exist, they would, they would delete it and build a new one every year. Again, it’s not advisable. It doesn’t allow the page to age over the course of time.

418
00:58:38.340 –> 00:58:47.490
And it’s like sending a newborn out into the world. Every single year. So anyways, that’s my story. We were eventually successful we got them to keep the lights on.

419
00:58:47.790 –> 00:58:56.700
And that gave us a lot more runtime, which gave us a lot more opportunity to be successful. But now that that’s the end of my story. I’m going to let you guys jump in.

420
00:58:57.480 –> 00:58:59.070
Yeah, well. Oh.

421
00:58:59.130 –> 00:59:00.000
Did you want to go.

422
00:59:00.540 –> 00:59:11.520
Good um you know I mentioned earlier, it’s a marathon, not a sprint in regards to SEO that has to do with like the life cycle of content as well.

423
00:59:12.660 –> 00:59:30.630
One of the, the biggest struggles that any SEO has his lead time making sure that your content is online long enough before it’s actually supposed to be seen by customers for it to have built up at least a little bit of juice. And if you’re starting from scratch every single year.

424
00:59:31.890 –> 00:59:40.650
Google has no idea who you are or why it should care about what your content has whereas if you’re recycling the same landing pages, year after year.

425
00:59:41.670 –> 00:59:44.880
Google is familiar with you knows what you have

426
00:59:46.050 –> 00:59:51.870
You know there’s there’s authority assigned to that page within the domain, it costs you.

427
00:59:53.190 –> 01:00:11.070
Something about each acronym here because that’s another thing that everyone wants to talk about right now. Um, but you really don’t have the ability to build that rapport page by page with with Google, if you’re starting fresh every single year. So I think

428
01:00:12.270 –> 01:00:21.900
I’m actually really impressed that you’ve asked them to change their way is because a lot of a lot of clients are figure that out. Like, I still know clients at my old shop because

429
01:00:22.380 –> 01:00:30.990
Everyone’s still talks, um, that really take for granted the ability to keep evergreen content going throughout the year.

430
01:00:31.800 –> 01:00:44.400
And then, you know, when their, their peak season starts up there like little, why isn’t traffic picking up on me because you haven’t done anything to rank well for the last nine months. Yeah.

431
01:00:44.490 –> 01:01:04.020
And it’s really important. Like, I looked up some stats and like last Cyber Monday from last year was $7.9 billion dollars in online sales. That was just one day overall last year holiday sales were up 17.4% at like 120 $2 billion sold online.

432
01:01:05.100 –> 01:01:12.540
You know it’s if there’s so much competition. You have to do everything that you need to be able to you know to to do that. I have a client who

433
01:01:13.410 –> 01:01:28.110
Takes it down every year takes down their Black Friday takes down their Cyber Monday takes down everything comes back the next year with a different URL. Every time I don’t know until like four days before Cyber Monday, but it’s going to be. I try to get into that.

434
01:01:29.130 –> 01:01:35.040
Because I’m like I’m like I’m waiting to do a redirect and if I’m lucky if I get the redirect and sometimes

435
01:01:36.060 –> 01:01:49.350
Compared to another kind of major I think how major you are in retail that like people do see that and you know where they’re Black Friday is up all year. And they just take down the ads and put like come sealskin next year.

436
01:01:50.490 –> 01:01:57.930
Start making tweaks in that in July and August. Just to kind of make the crawlers know that that page is active and

437
01:01:58.440 –> 01:02:05.640
And we hit it with the big, you know, the big updates when it comes time for that. But, and then they see like even in the summertime.

438
01:02:06.390 –> 01:02:16.680
That page does very well. It’s interesting that you know you don’t think people are looking for Black Friday stuff, but they land on that page because it was just looking for deals, you know, so, um,

439
01:02:16.710 –> 01:02:22.950
It’s really fascinating. I was as much as where we’re focused in on on retail right now. I think

440
01:02:23.670 –> 01:02:40.320
It’s relevant to literally any vertical. So like in my agriculture days. If you haven’t worked in that space. You would never think of it, but there’s actually like a heightened season for cattle vaccinations.

441
01:02:42.150 –> 01:02:42.750
Yeah.

442
01:02:44.490 –> 01:02:53.700
And that’s those seasons align with when do farmers and ranchers have their calves born and when are they going to be needing to vaccinate their

443
01:02:54.120 –> 01:03:14.820
Little baby calves that need to be kept healthy and take care of. So, I mean, we can we can talk about seasonality in regards to all the crazy people standing in line on Black Friday, but honestly like these lessons about evergreen content, keeping your pages up they’re relevant to everyone.

444
01:03:15.870 –> 01:03:29.520
The relevant to the mom and pop shops selling candles that they make in their kitchen, they’re relevant to big box department stores, although some of them specifically a brand that has a bull’s eye logo.

445
01:03:30.690 –> 01:03:37.770
Is too big to fail. They could do everything wrong still outperform everyone else on on Google, but

446
01:03:39.030 –> 01:03:52.470
It’s really about understanding when your seasons hit and planning the rest of your year essentially around future proofing yourself before that season is even on the horizon.

447
01:03:54.210 –> 01:04:02.190
So how, how far in advance do you recommend planning for this. If you’re a seasonal business.

448
01:04:03.870 –> 01:04:09.300
I typically shoot for three months. If I can

449
01:04:09.840 –> 01:04:10.920
To have content.

450
01:04:11.340 –> 01:04:12.210
On the site.

451
01:04:13.590 –> 01:04:20.130
And if it’s a net new page my minimum is a month, unless it’s an absolute urgency.

452
01:04:20.430 –> 01:04:23.550
And my question is, why can you expand on the why.

453
01:04:23.820 –> 01:04:25.260
Oh yeah, um,

454
01:04:27.090 –> 01:04:33.690
So back when I actually started working on that sort of one to three month window.

455
01:04:34.800 –> 01:04:41.100
There was still the understanding that sometimes it took up to a month for Google to really fully index new content.

456
01:04:41.670 –> 01:04:59.790
After you’ve uploaded it, but that was before things like crawl requests were readily available now that 123 month window is partially to ensure that on the client side. People have plenty of time to see it in production and react before it’s relevant.

457
01:05:01.830 –> 01:05:07.980
There’s like even even now for a variety of the sites I touch. There are

458
01:05:09.150 –> 01:05:13.530
scrambles happening last minute after it’s already in pre production to make sure that

459
01:05:14.310 –> 01:05:27.450
This little otter, and is taking care of correctly. So that’s part of the reason the other part is it just gives me peace of mind that it’s out there can be seen it’s collecting a little bit of juice from Google.

460
01:05:28.830 –> 01:05:41.130
I know that it’s well documented and site maps. It’s not being accidentally blocked. It’s really just a safety net. At this point, wondering if maybe it’s a security blanket of sorts. I get that extra

461
01:05:41.610 –> 01:05:57.510
Month that I probably don’t need in there to feel better about the position we’re in in prep, but at the same time I would rather be ahead of the game and early and feeling comfortable, then you know crunching it in the final weeks before game day

462
01:05:57.840 –> 01:06:00.870
Right. You’re giving Google time to digest it also right it’s

463
01:06:01.050 –> 01:06:02.460
Going to be crowded indexed.

464
01:06:03.000 –> 01:06:07.740
But then the get through all those you know algorithms to help it gain that value.

465
01:06:08.190 –> 01:06:13.230
Yeah, so it gives birth time to think about it in between dealing with his pigeons.

466
01:06:14.430 –> 01:06:15.240
My goodness.

467
01:06:17.580 –> 01:06:28.410
Yeah I it’s not holiday related, but I have had a couple of experiences recently where in here’s, here’s the thing. Like, people still

468
01:06:29.190 –> 01:06:35.250
Especially non SEOs struggle to grasp this concept with respect to things they want to rank for.

469
01:06:35.880 –> 01:06:43.890
Sometimes, you actually have not sometimes all the time. You have to have a page targeting that specific thing and that’s that’s a struggle for for

470
01:06:44.190 –> 01:06:52.560
For some people, so when when we’re talking about holidays. You want to rank for Black Friday. You better have a black friday page want to rank for Cyber Monday, same thing.

471
01:06:52.950 –> 01:07:03.750
Outside of the holiday, the traditional Christmas holiday New Year’s season, all these other holidays to like you want to rank for them. You better have a page for them.

472
01:07:04.500 –> 01:07:10.440
But the thing I was going to say is that it does take time, like I’ve been slowly but watching

473
01:07:11.430 –> 01:07:17.490
A couple of new pages that were really important for some, some of my clients to different clients.

474
01:07:17.820 –> 01:07:26.790
And I’ve been watching the hrs report because it gives you a nice little trend line where you can watch the the rankings and see over the course of like two years.

475
01:07:27.390 –> 01:07:36.630
What URLs may have ranked in the, in the past, for any given keyword and these really important phrases for their business really high transaction stuff on

476
01:07:37.320 –> 01:07:47.670
This page launched launched in late summer and it’s just been slowly but surely meandering its way up towards the top. And it’s taken a couple of months for them to get

477
01:07:48.270 –> 01:08:05.460
From where they were, which was nowhere. And in, in the case of a lot of businesses. If you’re creating a new page you’re creating it for a reason because you’re nowhere and you want to be somewhere. It’s taken months to just meander their way up to the top so it takes time.

478
01:08:06.510 –> 01:08:22.110
We tend to refer to that process as the pages maturing um, you know, even if the code and the content doesn’t change one bit in the two months that it’s sitting on our site just doing before it seasonally relevant

479
01:08:23.130 –> 01:08:39.450
It’s still growing into itself. It’s still growing into Google’s understanding of it and you know it doesn’t hurt if people kind of stumble upon it, and suddenly there’s traffic stats that help Google understand that it’s an authoritative and useful page.

480
01:08:40.590 –> 01:08:53.700
So yeah I I tend to err on the side of get the content out there early and just make sure that it’s situated in such a way that if you don’t want it to be seen yet, but Google can still find it your bases are covered.

481
01:08:55.200 –> 01:08:55.590
So, yeah.

482
01:08:56.250 –> 01:09:04.080
If you’re, if you’re a technical SEO to and you’re working with your developers is especially if you’re in a seasonal business.

483
01:09:05.490 –> 01:09:17.430
They’ve got a lot of shit going on and they have a probably a roadmap that they probably built eight months ago that you’re trying to get into. So you need to be mindful of that, and

484
01:09:17.790 –> 01:09:27.570
Not only that, like if you want technical changes done. You got to know they’re not coming during the holiday because they’re going to go into what’s called a code freeze.

485
01:09:28.410 –> 01:09:37.260
For those probably starting before Black Friday the site will be locked down and the only things that will matter are making sure that the shopping cart stays up

486
01:09:37.890 –> 01:09:50.760
By the way, you should track that to to make sure that there’s no abandonment issues that was a big problem for the client, whose story I told at the beginning of this where people were dropping out of the cart and they didn’t know why.

487
01:09:51.930 –> 01:09:54.180
But luckily they had tracked the dropouts.

488
01:09:55.980 –> 01:10:06.780
But yeah, if you want technical things done those things need to be done many, many months before they need to be. You need to be working with the developer to get those in queue, because I can promise you.

489
01:10:07.260 –> 01:10:13.650
If you want technical things done. It ain’t getting done in the holiday season. No way. No way. Nope. No.

490
01:10:14.100 –> 01:10:23.850
And it’s also a good time and we were talking about Page Speed before but page speed will see each capacity is a big thing, right, because we want to have fast pages, but

491
01:10:24.540 –> 01:10:36.990
Black Friday sales. If you have a good sale, it can bring it used to be the go to Digg effect when you use to get your story on the front page of Digg and everyone come to your site and crash your site. That’s the last thing you want to happen to have your website during a holiday.

492
01:10:38.190 –> 01:10:42.150
gig is still thing. It’s not the same thing. There is no more dig effect.

493
01:10:42.210 –> 01:10:42.570
I used to

494
01:10:43.470 –> 01:10:47.400
Yeah, no I we used to have battles that we can get on the front page of it, which

495
01:10:47.730 –> 01:10:51.900
There is still a Reddit affect the read it as well.

496
01:10:52.380 –> 01:10:58.200
Oh, great. I run a forum on there. So it’s our subreddit tech SEO subreddit, get it out there.

497
01:10:58.440 –> 01:11:18.720
Oh, yeah. So it’s, uh, but yeah. Now there’s a big push that way. So wouldn’t be able to make sure you can handle the load, because I do have one client in general who caps it at like 10,000 users and then they have this nice little message that says we’re sorry we’re our systems are full.

498
01:11:19.950 –> 01:11:27.060
We didn’t this queue and you just sit there and wait until goes through. It’s not a good experience. I don’t think especially like since

499
01:11:27.510 –> 01:11:36.690
You mean you can throw money at the situation and get more server space and things like that. We don’t want anyone to not get to the products.

500
01:11:37.140 –> 01:11:42.000
Sometimes that might help with one of those like if you’re running a crazy sale and you know your number.

501
01:11:42.810 –> 01:11:55.710
800 line. You know, it might be like, something like that. But that’s not their goal. Their goal is they don’t want their servers to crash. So they put that in place, but I’m constantly telling them. Now we need to get that fixed for the holidays or we’re gonna have a bad holiday.

502
01:11:55.860 –> 01:12:00.720
Do you ever notice clients, not knowing when their site goes down in holiday.

503
01:12:03.360 –> 01:12:15.030
I notice I have a uptime robot on all my clients and many of my clients are some of them were thankful. They are very like I find out it goes down and let them know right away.

504
01:12:15.570 –> 01:12:22.830
It goes to my Slack channel and I just read it over to them. I did have one client who was not happy their development teams are happy.

505
01:12:23.280 –> 01:12:34.620
Because there’s so it was always going down, and I kept telling my client, which was not the tech team and the tech team kept on going like, why is the site down just keeps finding this so they asked me to stop monitoring it.

506
01:12:35.640 –> 01:12:40.260
Then they like we know we have problems. I’m just like, yeah, I stopped in quotes.

507
01:12:41.610 –> 01:12:47.940
But they’ve they have fixed all their problems in that way, but it was one of those where they just didn’t want me being the tattletale all the time, but

508
01:12:48.210 –> 01:12:56.820
For the most part, everyone is happy that a monitoring it. I even tell them, because it’s free. Go to uptime robot monitor your own site. That way you know it’s down because

509
01:12:57.240 –> 01:13:05.580
That’s the worst thing we can have. I mean, SEO side it’s for your clients, getting to a site that’s broken and it takes 30 minutes to get back up during the peak sale so

510
01:13:06.600 –> 01:13:11.340
So that’s actually a tool. I was not familiar with prior so I’m gonna go check that out. Thank you.

511
01:13:11.490 –> 01:13:16.260
Yeah, no. It’s awesome, it’s a it’s like I said it’s a free tool, you get. I think it’s free for 50

512
01:13:17.730 –> 01:13:31.050
Domains or URLs at a time, and I can connect to slack through it. If you use Slack do a hook and I get it right. I’ve like a for all my clients. I have also a Slack channel says, are they down

513
01:13:31.740 –> 01:13:35.820
So it gives me an alert. And anyone who’s on the team can join that and just say, like, if it’s down or up

514
01:13:36.690 –> 01:13:38.310
So it’s awesome, right. So,

515
01:13:38.580 –> 01:13:44.010
Speaking of sites going down in the holidays. Do you guys have any holiday horror stories.

516
01:13:49.980 –> 01:13:51.390
Don’t, don’t, don’t.

517
01:13:54.390 –> 01:14:02.880
Say, none that come to mind. But I think part of that may be because I’ve been up since 3am

518
01:14:06.210 –> 01:14:14.640
Yeah, don’t do that. Yeah, I feel like the holidays just end up being just this blur to me.

519
01:14:16.350 –> 01:14:20.130
And now, even more so because some planning a birthday party now.

520
01:14:21.870 –> 01:14:23.460
But yeah, it’s, it’s

521
01:14:26.100 –> 01:14:34.230
Maybe all that survival mode training from life’s disappointments. It’s what gets me up for I’m in it, just get through it.

522
01:14:34.560 –> 01:14:39.960
It’s the busy season. So I asked that question because I do have a story yet again. I have a story.

523
01:14:41.400 –> 01:14:42.450
Wasn’t my client.

524
01:14:43.620 –> 01:14:53.580
This happened probably six years ago that business, surprise, surprise, like they went bankrupt in we were doing at a previous agency some work for

525
01:14:54.900 –> 01:15:03.570
A retail a retail client competitor. I would say a Best Buy not Best Buy, but a competitor. Best Buy and

526
01:15:05.340 –> 01:15:13.410
We were doing quite well organic traffic was up things were going really, really well. Problem was business was still going downhill. Like there’s

527
01:15:13.830 –> 01:15:22.140
Only so much you can you can do with your marketing the that sometimes you just can’t make the business things work.

528
01:15:22.830 –> 01:15:37.260
No matter how well your how well you’re doing. But in this particular case, and I really feel for the team that was on this account because it really ruined their entire their entire holiday result. The

529
01:15:38.610 –> 01:15:41.550
I think it was the CMO I can’t exactly remember who it was.

530
01:15:42.570 –> 01:15:49.650
They had a they had a concern that the site was going to go down because it was getting too much organic traffic.

531
01:15:50.220 –> 01:16:05.730
So what did they do they disallowed it on purpose in the robots file on purpose. And luckily our team caught it. But our team didn’t catch it right away our team caught it maybe like a day or two days after it happened and got it rectified but like

532
01:16:07.110 –> 01:16:11.820
That type of stuff, especially if you really depend on the holidays. I mean, if you’re

533
01:16:12.480 –> 01:16:22.200
A business that depends on online for any any amount of revenue like that type of stuff costs in this case probably did cost people their jobs so

534
01:16:22.710 –> 01:16:28.890
It was crazy man. It was crazy. I felt so bad for for them because like they were doing great. And they were a great team.

535
01:16:29.490 –> 01:16:43.170
And then somebody steps in and does this without without their without their consent or approval or knowledge and completely tanked. The results for that entire season so like they were pretty bummed out about it, but that definitely happened and it just

536
01:16:44.070 –> 01:16:55.230
For me, illustrated the importance of continuing to educate people and continuing to educate the clients. And I just think I still don’t even understand the logic. Like, I feel

537
01:16:55.230 –> 01:16:56.850
Like that would be a good problem to have.

538
01:16:56.910 –> 01:17:02.070
But for whatever reason. Yeah, no man they did it. That’s a true story just

539
01:17:02.220 –> 01:17:03.660
Stop your server processes.

540
01:17:03.990 –> 01:17:05.190
You

541
01:17:06.600 –> 01:17:10.230
I just had my mouth just hanging

542
01:17:10.290 –> 01:17:12.900
Okay, sorry.

543
01:17:13.050 –> 01:17:15.000
Yeah, that really happened.

544
01:17:16.320 –> 01:17:26.850
No, I haven’t had any major ones, the one that would have almost been just like yours, where I had a client like tweak their application firewall.

545
01:17:27.510 –> 01:17:38.820
And we didn’t know that. And all of a sudden, like in Search Console, all these 500 Irby just started popping up literally a week before Black Friday and we’re just

546
01:17:39.690 –> 01:17:47.940
digging and digging and digging and I’m just like, what did you guys change nothing would something changed on the website because we’re having all these and after kind of digging it.

547
01:17:49.650 –> 01:17:58.500
One of my favorite things I like to do is run Screaming Frog get ridiculous amount of speeds, so that I get kicked off the website and I noticed that happens and

548
01:17:59.640 –> 01:18:07.410
It kicked me off and give me the same error. I was seeing and Search Console. And I was like, oh, did you change your protection or your firewall like

549
01:18:07.800 –> 01:18:17.220
Oh yeah, we were tweaking some of the settings in it was like, well, you’re blocking Google because they they allow Google through but they blocked the amount of

550
01:18:18.690 –> 01:18:29.370
The speed at which somebody can come through on the site. So they’re basically went from saying you can have 500 clicks a minute to 100 clicks a minute because they wanted to prevent BOTS FROM scraping their pricing.

551
01:18:30.480 –> 01:18:38.550
But at the same time, Google came through. I think the magic number was like 300 you know times a minute or something like that. So we tweaked it to like to 400

552
01:18:38.970 –> 01:18:51.780
And actually, everything cleared up. So it’s kind of like saving the day before the issue happened, but that was almost like one of my again a nightmare of a decision there. But besides that, like,

553
01:18:53.070 –> 01:19:02.940
I see paid side get crushed during holidays. I’m or because we get into code freeze and I’m like all right i’m planning for 2020 and then I see people

554
01:19:02.970 –> 01:19:08.760
Like crying and the quality time like that night and day. Like, I feel bad. This is one reason I’m not

555
01:19:10.200 –> 01:19:20.580
I’m never mad to be on the SEO side, especially because like they literally have to schedule themselves to where like on Thanksgiving. They have people that are on call and on duty.

556
01:19:21.180 –> 01:19:31.500
At all points in the day. Black Friday, whether you’re off you, and you’re not able to enjoy that time with your family because they have to have people on call all day every day.

557
01:19:32.310 –> 01:19:39.000
In Kelly. I like, I wonder, you know, especially with your work with hallmark if if that’s the type of schedule, you have to maintain. That’s crazy.

558
01:19:40.410 –> 01:19:45.750
Yeah, yeah. And we have multiple overnight pushes

559
01:19:46.770 –> 01:19:47.340
So,

560
01:19:48.360 –> 01:19:57.840
This is the first job I’ve ever had. Where I have overnight phone what conference calls, and it’s fine. It is what it is like a roll said it’s part of the territory.

561
01:19:58.860 –> 01:20:09.900
But there’s definitely this this idea that you do need to be readily available, maybe don’t be where you can’t get to a computer for several hours so like

562
01:20:10.530 –> 01:20:28.470
When we’re driving back to Illinois for my family Christmas and December, I’m probably going to want to make sure that I have like a Wi Fi hotspot with me so that while my husband is driving. I can make changes to robots TXT files or something if there’s an emergency.

563
01:20:29.790 –> 01:20:33.300
But that said, we also kind of fall into certain

564
01:20:36.840 –> 01:20:51.840
Pattern of auto time of year I’m you know I’m not completely hands off for SEO, but it’s more break fix triage and troubleshooting then really active strategy so

565
01:20:53.280 –> 01:21:01.830
Let me ask you this. I’ve got two more questions and then because you’ve been up since 3am want to send you on your way for the for the weekend.

566
01:21:03.480 –> 01:21:19.620
This kind of discussion brings to light a very important point. And you being the mom of a soon to be one year old and myself being a parent of three kids under six one is going to be six months old ones having a birthday this weekend. Yay.

567
01:21:21.780 –> 01:21:24.630
How important is work life balance for you. And how do you maintain it.

568
01:21:25.620 –> 01:21:32.400
Oh so important when I was talking about my layoff experience. I mentioned that

569
01:21:33.210 –> 01:21:48.270
I wasn’t always good about separating who I was. I my identity from my career. And honestly, becoming a mom has kind of it really gave me the final push I needed to to be able to kind of segment my life a little bit more

570
01:21:49.500 –> 01:21:55.350
Obviously as an as a newlywed I put more emphasis on family time with my husband.

571
01:21:57.480 –> 01:22:07.020
But there’s something about the only having two hours a day between the end of the workday, and the baby’s bed time to get to be a family together.

572
01:22:07.440 –> 01:22:21.420
That really makes you set more solid boundaries and work life balance isn’t. I don’t even really necessarily like that term because the two never fully separate it’s about

573
01:22:23.460 –> 01:22:35.070
It’s about finding a way to mesh them together. That’s constructive for you and allows you to care for the people you care about, but still fulfill your responsibilities to your work.

574
01:22:35.640 –> 01:22:43.440
And sometimes that means I get the baby down and then I open my laptop and I’m working again or it means

575
01:22:44.190 –> 01:22:49.290
You know, leaving work earlier coming in late because there’s something going on with daycare.

576
01:22:50.070 –> 01:22:57.900
Like he had his little Halloween party at school. A few weeks ago and I got to go and see him and a little Halloween parade.

577
01:22:58.200 –> 01:23:10.440
dresses and he was like, of course, I’m going to leave work early to go do that. But sometimes that means that you know the the late night time gets redirected it’s really just about

578
01:23:11.700 –> 01:23:23.790
Setting your boundaries, making sure that you’re in the trenches with good people because balance of any sort, is not a possibility. If you don’t have good peers and colleagues that have your back.

579
01:23:25.980 –> 01:23:26.460
Yeah.

580
01:23:27.570 –> 01:23:34.350
But I mean, working in the field. We work in anytime you work in digital there’s a chance that you’re going to have to be on call or

581
01:23:35.910 –> 01:23:36.360
You know,

582
01:23:38.010 –> 01:23:43.380
Some issues going to arise and suddenly you know your weekends gone because

583
01:23:44.400 –> 01:23:46.500
You’re fixing something that broke suddenly

584
01:23:49.170 –> 01:23:59.250
So you just you make it work. And do you take care of yourself and you prioritize your own well being and the well being of your family. My biggest

585
01:24:01.350 –> 01:24:11.040
My biggest like pet peeve with this is people who don’t think that they need to take care of themselves. In addition to taking care of everyone they care about.

586
01:24:13.290 –> 01:24:26.130
I’m a big advocate of you can’t pour out of an empty cup. So in addition to like this two hours and evening. Those are family time. There’s also a certain element of like

587
01:24:26.580 –> 01:24:33.630
Okay. Hey, since my husband’s already up and what’s the baby. I can sleep in a little bit because I need some self care or

588
01:24:34.080 –> 01:24:42.690
You know, here’s a half an hour to take a shower and like just sit for a little while. Just because we’re, we are in this crunch and

589
01:24:43.470 –> 01:25:01.740
If you’re, if you’re not striking that balance of like yourself, your work, your family, and any other obligations, you get burnt out, and then you stop enjoying what you do. Right. And I love what I do. I don’t want it to feel like a chore.

590
01:25:03.630 –> 01:25:05.400
And speaking of loving what you do.

591
01:25:06.720 –> 01:25:14.670
I’m sure that you do this with with people that you work with, especially new people. But one way that I want to start ending this podcast and we did it.

592
01:25:15.540 –> 01:25:27.930
A lot last season. We haven’t done it so much this season is asking the question, if you were to give advice to somebody getting into the industry literally today. This second, what would you say to them.

593
01:25:35.550 –> 01:25:36.660
Relationships.

594
01:25:38.790 –> 01:25:42.690
We may be working on robots all day and we

595
01:25:44.040 –> 01:25:53.190
May interface. Most of the time through computers, but everyone you work with as a person just trying to do their best and

596
01:25:55.350 –> 01:26:05.520
The partners that I’ve worked with at any job freelancing day job agency in house as a client as a vendor.

597
01:26:07.980 –> 01:26:18.690
The end of the day, the most successful campaigns. The most successful sites companies, whatever are the ones with the people that really have each other’s backs.

598
01:26:19.440 –> 01:26:30.090
And understand the value that each other, bring to the table. So I may be the only SEO strategist in my company, but I’m not alone.

599
01:26:31.860 –> 01:26:45.270
I’m I make a point to surround myself with people way smarter than me and I learned from them and I have all of these friends on Twitter because, of course, you make friends on Twitter. When you have 51,000 tweets.

600
01:26:48.750 –> 01:27:02.220
But like really really having strong relationships and being open to relationships with curiosity and empathy. That to me is the secret to

601
01:27:04.080 –> 01:27:12.330
Thriving in your career. And that looks different for everyone, but it comes down to being a decent human

602
01:27:14.430 –> 01:27:22.140
It’s, it’s funny that is different. It’s actually really amazing advice, but it is so different than what other people have

603
01:27:23.370 –> 01:27:25.740
Have said, and it’s very, very true.

604
01:27:26.460 –> 01:27:39.450
I mean I, if you think about literally everything that FCO ends up impacting across the the stream of a company’s evolution.

605
01:27:40.620 –> 01:27:52.650
Like if you’re working in retail. The way that product is name named ends up impacting your website. So then should you be building relationships with the people that name the product.

606
01:27:54.210 –> 01:28:04.860
You know, depending on how your structured, you may be doing the keyword integration yourself or you may be having to train copywriters to do their own keyword research, in which case

607
01:28:05.190 –> 01:28:14.070
They need to trust you and have a good relationship with you or if you’re an agency side or freelancer working with clients.

608
01:28:16.080 –> 01:28:23.970
If they don’t trust you. You’re never going to get anything done, especially if they’re handing over the keys to the whole kingdom to you so

609
01:28:24.510 –> 01:28:35.520
It’s, it’s really about relationships and for all of the digital we do at the end of the day it’s another person sitting up that other computer. Absolutely.

610
01:28:35.610 –> 01:28:50.850
everybody’s always everybody’s always dealing with something and empathy. Empathy is so hard in it, but such a valuable skill and relationships, it’s just good life advice. That’s what we’re. That’s what we’re given here on the page to podcasts life advice.

611
01:28:51.930 –> 01:28:58.800
Anyways, Kelly Thank you for coming on. I we totally appreciate it. We know you you’ve

612
01:28:59.940 –> 01:29:09.420
Extra appreciate it, in light of the fact that you’ve been up since 3am but really appreciate it was great conversation. Thank you so much and go. Have a good weekend.

613
01:29:10.050 –> 01:29:10.830
Gonna happen.

614
01:29:11.880 –> 01:29:12.300
So much

615
01:29:13.740 –> 01:29:14.730
This is great.

616
01:29:16.110 –> 01:29:16.590
Thank you.

#25: Ross Hudgens

We talk with Ross Hudgens about the founding of Siege Media, entrepreneurial challenges, video SEO strategy and more.

#15: Janet Bartoli

We talk with Janet Bartoli about in-house SEO, agency SEO, consulting, speaking, and educating others about search.

#12: Dan Eng

We talk with Dan Eng about how we went from SAT Math and selling insurance to SEO, agency vs. in-house, impostor syndrome and more.

#10: My SEO Story

I turn the mic on myself to tell my full and *completely unfiltered* SEO story. SEO by accident, impostor syndrome and more.

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