SEO Coaching

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

558
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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01:19:55.830 –> 01:20:06.960
Jacob Stoops: Speaking of agencies Jeff and I worked for one search discovery. So if you are one of those people looking and coming out of college we do college hires every single year.

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

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

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01:20:26.970 –> 01:20:27.270
Right.

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

565
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.

566
01:20:35.100 –> 01:20:50.310
Ian Howells: So on Twitter, just at Ian Howells Real original and creative with the Twitter handle there otherwise I don’t like I’m the worst solo SEO in the world. Like, I don’t have

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

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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 

#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,

6
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Jacob Stoops: Hey, like out. What is it out Borland

7
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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.

#30: Alicia “AK” Anderson

Episode Summary

Today we talk with Alicia “AK” Anderson, former Associate Director of SEO at WebMD, former head of SEO at Hipcamp, and currently a freelance SEO.

We discuss:

  • Her path to SEO
  • Her pursuit of a PHD in mythological studies
  • SEO news including page speed
  • Google’s acquisition of Fitbit
  • The importance of SEO education
  • What makes a good SEO teacher

And much more.

Episode Transcript

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Hey everybody this is Jacob stoops and we are back for the 30th episode of the page to podcast we somehow have managed to stumble our way to 30 episodes. I am here with Jeff.

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Louella.

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Who we forgot to introduce last time. And I want to make that mistake again. And we are also here with Alicia AK Anderson. How you doing, Alicia.

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doing really well.

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And Alicia is right now she’s a contractor, but she’s a former head of SEO at hip camp as well as an Associate Director of Web MD. So a lot of really, really amazing experience coming from from Alicia side.

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Thank you for having me today.

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You’re welcome. So I here by reading your Twitter bio that you are a storyteller. So tell me a story, tell me a story. How did you get into SEO. Tell me about yourself. Let the listeners know who are you

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So I’m in the early to mid, mid 2000s.

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I was working for both south, which if you don’t live in the South. It was originally take it was taken over by at AMP t

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And in that time period.

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I was a billing manager and I was doing data analysis sequel database queries and dealing with data at a very minute dollars and cents level to the point where the

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Big project I did was how to round or truncate your minutes into dollars it’s. It was ridiculous. Lee detailed um I made the career decision that I wanted to work more in Word and Excel. I said, I want to write. I want to do something that’s creative, I’m tired of all this data, which is

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Because I then ended up in SEO.

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But where I ended up going with that urge was this was in the the the era of the bygone days of pre Panda of content firms and you could write content on the internet and make like a pittance for any number of sites and it was how I went about gaining work experience in SEO.

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Because what I was able to do was create web content and then track how it performed

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And one of the specific sites actually had SEO training and SEO experts working for them in like the forums and stuff like that.

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And they actually taught us how to do keyword research how to track our progress, how to use keyword information for content strategy like basic keyword information that I’m in 2007 was kind of avant garde and I discovered this whole realm of SEO as a job.

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At that time, the at AMP T takeover happened at both south, which is essentially the Jetsons taking over the Flint, or the Flintstones taking over the Jetsons is is how I would put that

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I did not want to go to the Stone Age and so

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I took a package I left. And with that extra money I freelanced and basically worked my way as a web copywriter into learning SEO from agencies.

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And then I started working in house from there. I’ve been working in house for. So I’ve been in SEO for 12 years going on 13 years which I’ve seen everything from hummingbird to like I’ve seen all the big updates.

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Which is kind of insane. And I actually focused on global SEO really early in my career, which is how I ended up at Web MD, because they needed somebody who understood global SEO for their UK Cobra and

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I was at weapon D for six years, and

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Then I actually got a chronic illness and couldn’t handle the stress and couldn’t handle like the massive amount of work that was

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That was happening there. And so I scaled back and I took on the job at hip camp as their head of SEO for a year and a half, as a remote job, which was fantastic. And it was exactly what I needed.

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At the same time, because I don’t know how to like set limits. I, I also started grad school.

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And so I was doing grad school and hip camp for a couple of years, and now I’m contracting and doing grad school. At the same time, I’ve earned my masters. I’m now in the PhD program again because I don’t know how to say slow down.

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And yeah, I’m contracting and

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Enjoying it I’m I have about a dozen clients right now. Some through an agency that I work with, and some through personal contacts.

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And it’s been really, really interesting.

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We were talking earlier via email about my passions and what I found is that in the last three or four years or so, I’ve really found a passion for training and teaching SEO and using training and teaching to get buy in with stakeholders and to

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You know, create SEO as part of the DNA of a bit of a business, instead of just kind of an afterthought.

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So let me ask you something. And I’ve got a lot of there’s a lot there. The

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Question that I have, um, I do. First one to ask about mythological studies.

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You’re, you’re getting a PhD in mythological studies. So for those people, myself included, that don’t know what that means, explain it to us.

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So, um, my program is the is of the lineage, the academic lineage of Joseph Campbell.

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Um, which is a concept of comparative mythology cross cultural comparisons of mythologies, as well as

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Kind of the underpinnings of what makes this culture way over here and that culture way over there have very similar myths.

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And understanding did the myth just travel and they’re telling the same myth or did it arise separately, and this is a part of the human condition and a part of our psychology

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So that’s essentially what mythological studies is it’s a global cross cultural psychological look at

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At myth.

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So I find it fascinating that in SEO is studying myths and mythological logical stuff. Um,

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I guess I have to ask, what’s the biggest SEO myth, you’ve come across

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Um,

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Biggest SEO Miss I’ve come across. Honestly, I have an entire shelf that is nothing about but that crossover like technology as symptom and dream is the book I’m staring at an internet dreams, um,

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I think that

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As Google is attempting to meet human needs by using AI and an algorithmic answers, they’re attempting to

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mimic human behavior and understand and breakdown human behavior online. And one of the myths that I think is happening is that the whole like

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You know, SEO and UX side where people are saying, um, you know, if you solve for you actual software SEO hundred percent of the time, I believe that that’s

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That’s like kind of my answer of if it comes down to doing this for the user doing this for us to do it for the user. But at the same time, I feel like Google is not necessarily all the way there yet. And sometimes you really do have to spoon feed the Googlebot just a little bit.

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Because solving for you. X 100% still isn’t going to get you there.

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At the same time, I do think that Google is really trying to emulate the human response. And so isn’t

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It doesn’t make sense to speak to it as if it’s a robot either. So it’s like you’re talking with, you know, an Android or data from Star Trek The Next Generation or something that has like somewhere in the middle.

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Yeah, I think this, it’s, it’s interesting. We

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Live in an interesting time in space within within SEO. Right now we are on one side. Things are getting really, really advanced in terms of Google and other search engines, but mostly Google

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Their use of AI and their ability to render websites to understand the difference between very similar similar queries. And then on the other side we’ve got

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Sites that I get. I don’t know. Jeff, you tell you tell me, and Alicia. You tell me. Like I feel like a lot of the stuff I run up against when I’m helping clients is still incredibly, incredibly, incredibly basic. Like we’re helping them like learn how to walk when

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Over here you know Google is, is, you know, very focused on to use an analogy I guess running. They’re focused on on running when there are many, many websites out there that are still just struggling to walk. And one of the things that I see very often is

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Things as simple as, like, your UX can be really, really great. And you can have a beautiful website.

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That consumers like but if you’re missing the content that people search for

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You don’t have a lot of chance to be successful, like your site can be technically, technically well optimized. I work

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With a client that is that is exactly this way. They’ve got a really good brand. A really technically well optimized site.

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But there. They have been missing some key content and until they’ve added that key content. They’ve been like we don’t we don’t get it. Why is an SEO quote unquote working well, sometimes in order to rank for something you have to have a page for it. I know, it’s crazy.

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But if you’re

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If you’re designing for customers most customers don’t like to read. I mean, if you

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If you’re looking for a research paper. Yes. But when you’re looking at a product. I think it’s like you want a couple points about it. And I think most of the time you’re probably reading reviews but

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But at the same time it’s it’s interesting because to design folks don’t like to put lots of words on the pages because again, people don’t be bogged down with all this content though Google needs it to read. So I think it is one of those

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Thought, I’m not gonna say a battle. It’s really becoming everyone get on the same page, like we have goals. We need to have traffic.

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These are some things that Google needs at the same time we have, you know, design needs right I again. If it was up to SEO is I think most of our websites will look like Wikipedia.

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Which is because it were like a great here’s a whole bunch of content. So we need to have that that balance there so

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Yeah, and I find with like B to C customers specifically right now. What I’m bumping up against is the, what is it,

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So many of the head terms the ranking is educational. It’s a what is query. It’s an informational query. And that’s where you want that Wikipedia page that is like

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A big long list of all the things you ever needed to know about this thing.

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And the issue is that most of these companies that are B to C are going that their decision makers and the people who are searching for them.

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Are people who already know what it is. And so to convince them that they need a, what is it page.

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In order to round out their content portfolio when their clients and customers and the people who are landing on their site already know what it is it that’s that balance that’s that, like, okay, but you kinda still need a, what is it page.

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Very high funnel low conversion stuff introduce her content. I like to call it, but not necessarily transactional

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Hi. Well, and that. And the thing is is that that’s not that’s not where their their their customer is um but it’s where the search traffic is so it’s a very

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It’s, it’s absolutely something I bumped into constantly

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Yeah, I see that type of content. And when I’m when I’m trying to sell it. I try to sell it obviously for the the

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That’s where the search traffic is. And the question I get is, Do I even want to rank for this. And for me, like, for the most part, the question is yes because you’re potentially

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You know, running exposing your brand to a lot of different consumers and maybe one or maybe two or maybe three of those consumers will later on down the line. Maybe not immediately.

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Turn into customers because they weren’t aware of your brand before and now they are because they’ve read that piece of content but part is everybody that gets that piece of content going to be a converter. No.

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I think that there’s a there’s definitely a brand element. There’s a marketing element to the brand there. The other element of that that I see and I see it even more now is

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Contextual ality we each site has an about notice it has a context. And what I find is that

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You have to have that. What is it, and you have to have that that established expertise in your field.

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For that contextual reality because ranking well for the, what is it, even if those visitors aren’t converting will help you rank well for the things that the, what is it is linking to

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Yeah, and so I find that contextual ality tends to be more of a play there as well. And a lot of those spaces, especially when it’s a really complicated thing.

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You know, we’re the experts in this 50 word saying, it’s like, Okay, well, we need a, what is it that

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I think this whole discussion really comprises and I hate this word, but the at expertise authority trust. Yeah, I think that building that full portfolio is all about establishing UT which I really hate that I’m using a buzzword but i but i am i’m

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Going to go back. I do want to go back because I we got way down in the weeds and that’s cool. I love getting in the weeds, like my favorite thing to do.

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But you mentioned stress and I think on the agency side like it’s a big giant ball of stress. Stress all the time. Especially now in the holiday in the holiday season.

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Um, I also find it ironic that you were working at Web MD, when you were having this stress in the in the in the in kind of the medical condition that you

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That you could that you mentioned. So I guess. Talk to me about the process of what was working at Web MD, like, and I’m just also thinking about other people that might be going through this. How did that stress kind of come up for you and how did you deal with it.

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The stress was absolutely um

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You know, a joint a joint effort in terms of my own inability to set limits and

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The demands of the company.

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You know, I work, I work a good bet on the agency side right now and I find the stress levels, very different.

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I find the stress the words very different

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On the in house side. What I find it’s funny you said the irony about working at Web MD and that that I was having health problems because of it.

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In psychological terms every basically the concept is every time you invoke one thing you also invoke its opposite. So Web MD invokes health and also invokes ill health and and i think that that’s that’s part of what happens in the office culture.

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You have to really have super strong boundaries and really set limits in any in office environment. I’ve worked in so many corporations, where the the corporation will eat you alive if you let it

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And and i think that’s true of any employer these days with, you know, the way that our world works.

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And I believe that part of it is about is about that setting of limits.

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One of the issues that I bumped into was adequate resource planning.

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Because I was

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The, the cycle of hiring help is so long. It’s such a long ramp and Jeff knows this. The Atlanta market is we’ve got kind of a weird mix of people who have SEO experience. And so getting the right person to hire in the Atlanta market is is tricky as well.

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So that long rep of resource getting the right person in often happens, eight months after the project started.

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And then you’ve got to train them and they have a six month ramp up and now the project is in full swing. And you’re like, good, allow me to overwhelm you.

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And I think that that honestly my own you know that just the resource planning of understanding where the business was going so quickly and then having that kind of lead time for resource planning was a big part of it.

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Another big part of it for me specifically was there’s a battle. I’m especially with a publicly traded company Wendy was taken over and is now privately owned

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In since I left, but at the time it was it was beholden to the quarterly shareholder reviews and it was a publicly traded company and I find with publicly traded companies that that quarterly shareholder review. We’ve gotta show what we’re doing to show our value and show our growth.

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Every single time is actually incredibly toxic. Um, the, the stock, the stock shareholder kind of market of of growth for growth’s sake.

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Always be growing is is not sustainable.

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That’s why you have mergers and acquisitions. That’s why you have like all of these other things. And I feel like it’s cancerous.

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Growth for growth’s sake, without really carefully growing where you want to grow is is the definition of cancer, um, which again haha Web MD.

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Funny side note, just so you know.

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While I was there.

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They. It was a I’m going to say this publicly and I’m far enough gone. They can’t hurt me. Um,

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It was a massive PR fail on their behalf on their behalf, because they did not own the memes um they redid the symptom checker symptom checker 2.0 happened while I was there, and prior to symptom checker 2.0 the symptom checker when you plugged in your stuff with alpha, alpha baptized

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So cancer came above everything because it was at the top of the freaking alphabet.

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Now it’s done by prevalence and now you’re can get common cold and flu above cancer because it’s done by prevalence

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And so they recreated symptom checker to make it so that cancer wasn’t at the top of everything. And this is like seven years ago and they never like owned it and said, hey, you’re not gonna have cancer anymore.

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They never like played with it and said, this is what we can do, like we sometimes use checker 2.0 it’s not alphabetical anymore. Like for me as as like an internet marketer. I’m like, oh, that’s such a loss like it’s such a waste to not just own the funny and go with it.

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But anyway, that

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The, the growth for growth’s sake model is really, really hard for any SEO team.

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Because first of all, SEO takes time. A lot of our efforts. It’s like, yeah, you’ll see that effort in three quarters. So what have you been doing this month. Well, what I did a year ago or what so and so screwed up two years ago.

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So you see that growth pattern for for those traded companies can be the source of so much stress when it’s unrealistic.

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And then it comes down to messaging and it comes down to. Can your C suite hear those messages. Can you adjust what you’re saying, how do you talk about those things like that that becomes a whole nother another bollocks. I’m

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Getting out of that pattern for me was really, really important in terms of stress, just getting out of the not having enough help in the right time.

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And getting out of the pattern of the growth for growth’s sake was really, really important. Um, I, I used to prefer in house because I liked seeing the long term results and right now I’m really enjoying agency, because I can go here’s all of the things that you need to fix.

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And I don’t have to wait for that. But we’re not growing every quarter.

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Which is actually quite a relief, honestly.

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Yeah, I mean, it can be a relief I I do sometimes want to see things all the way through to the end and on the agency side if the clients don’t necessarily see that growth or at least are aligned with your vision of when the growth will happen.

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Have plenty of clients that have been like

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You know, cut your contract because we haven’t seen the growth. We wanted to see. So like stressful on the agency side but

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If you’re aligned with the client and and i think i think is the best side of things in the agency world just because

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When you get to do a whole bunch of different like you get problems thrown at you all the time and you get to, you know, try to solve those problems, which is great.

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But sometimes I do feel like I walk on eggshells a lot with clients because one. You don’t want to call someone else’s baby ugly.

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Know, even if they’re paying you for it. And I’ve worked at some large agencies where we made the ugly baby and and I gotta then tell them that our team. We made the ugly baby.

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It is interesting that in that approach to so

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You guys are touching on kind of an interesting point that I feel like we do with all the time. So, like, I’m just going to give a little bit of kind of a case in point. So I’ve got two clients, one of which

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I don’t want to give away too much information, but I’ll say client a we’ve been working with for a while, often on by their choice and their traffic because of our recommendations is growing wildly, but because they they

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Don’t even know exactly what like can’t see it, like they can see their traffic growing wildly, but I think that there’s

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A belief that maybe it wasn’t due to us or our recommendations or all of that. So there’s that.

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On one side, and on the other side. There’s another client where we’ve had a very successful year and we’ve overcome a lot of challenges and their team is very, very small.

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But we’ve made progress, but it’s not yet the type of progress that has produced tangible results from a traffic standpoint, it’s a lot of

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Coming out of nowhere and getting right on the cusp of doing great things because you were nowhere before and the next phase is going to be moving from being on the cusp to

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Pushing it into a position where the tangible results will start to show it’s a lot of stuff happening below the surface.

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And I have a great relationship with that client and like there’s no doubt that they’re going to continue to work with us and it’s just the juxtaposition client a

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Doesn’t really want to work with us and they’re getting great results client be results aren’t there yet loves working with us. We have a great relationship. And it’s just like

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This world in that we live in is is insane. And sometimes the the thing that you think should be true is not always true. And it leaves me kind of with the question, how do you

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Best come in this deviates from the stress question, but how do you put in this actually does stress me out and keep me up at night. How do you do a good job of messaging.

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The real story of what’s actually going on when the C suite only looks at vanity metrics and sometimes doesn’t even look at that.

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Or when the C suite doesn’t know the full story and is coming to you with whatever they believe to be the truth, whether it is or not, like, how do you deal with that. How do you get them to see the light. How do you build that build that dam and build that relationship.

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Um,

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So one thing that just that is a little bit tan gentle about your question or the about your what you were saying is that the client that you’ve got that you’ve got that great relationship that is not showing results yet.

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I have one like that, that I worked with for six months and what I do because this was my personal client, not an agency thing.

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Every six months I checked, I go back into all of their metrics and check everything and send them an update and go, this is what you’re working on. This is what you should do next, like, and I do it for free.

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You know, because they can hire me to help them with those action items but it allows me to, you know, a little bit selfishly, look at the data and go. Hi worked

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I get that little that little boost of dope. I mean, um, but also it’s a great way to to kind of resell to clients that do work well with you in that kind of agency world.

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In terms of getting C suite on board when they only look at vanity metrics.

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So,

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That’s a combination of two things. One is you give them the fucking vanity metrics.

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Um,

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And

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If you can get other stuff that really has to happen in order to give them those vanity metrics, great. Um, one of the things that I’ve spoken about on multiple occasions is translate your, your goals into their monopoly money.

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Like, do a currency conversion if their vanity metric is something you don’t care about, but you can currency convert your metric into there’s do it.

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And I say to do this. This is what I did across departments, I did this across clients, um,

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If this department really only cares about lead gen and you know this one specific form, then I am going to use approximations and percentages and ratios to say

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If you let me do this project. It’s going to give you five lead gen forums on this forum for every you know widget. We move or whatever, I’m

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Just kind of backing into those metrics that even if they’re a little nonsensical just using percentages to keep like getting there. Um, the other thing about the vanity metrics. I guy. I have a lot of clients that want to rank for kind of

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Ridiculous.

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keywords that are not that are important to their marketers, but our sales team, but are not important like they’ve got 50 searches a month or something like like less than that. And you’re like, really. Okay, let’s go spend all our time on that.

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And honestly, the way that I would do that is looking for those wind winds of, okay, we’re going to try to rank for this thing, they really want to rank for that is kind of ridiculous.

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And we’re going to simultaneously make these lesson learned worked over here where it actually is going to move the needle, um,

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Sometimes it is about education. Sometimes it is about teaching the C suite what’s going on. Um, I’ve done more than one high level to four slide long presentations that are. This is what’s happening here are the numbers. This is why I’m telling you this is what matters.

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Because sometimes it is your job to change the focus. Sometimes it is your job to educate and and that’s that’s super challenging. It’s super challenging to

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Take somebody that has the like my nudist amount of attention span and you’ve got their, their attention for like five minutes and you’ve got to go. What you think matters. Doesn’t matter. Here’s what matters in that five minutes. And that’s I’m

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Very, very, very difficult. And I think that’s where the, the difference between an SEO specialist and an SEO manager comes in.

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People with management skills and people who are at the management level are going to be able to drill down a bit more rapidly in that way.

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Yeah, I always say

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Finding the things to fix is it’s not the difficult part getting things implemented is the difficult part and the even more difficult part is proving your, your value when, in some cases it’s it’s not clear, or telling your story and I feel like

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Talking to executives and sea levels.

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Or VP of whatever higher ups leadership within, within a company is something that like

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I don’t feel like anyone starts off as a natural at doing doing that. I think it takes a while, and I find myself even kind of

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Deeper into the into the experience side of things like I’ve been doing this for a long time. And there are times when I still just

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Don’t know what I need to say to make them understand it. It almost becomes a bit of a psychological

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exercise where you have to play out different scenarios and put yourself in their shoes and try to predict what they want to hear from you. That will turn them in the way that you need them to be to be turning so

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My hack for that. Yeah, I was, uh, because I always I was known for writing emails that were way too long. I was known for writing these like novel emails and you guys are both laughing and I know that you you totally understand.

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Those

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Those like super, super long emails. So, I will write that email with all of the because this and here’s the data for that. And here’s this and here’s that and then I will write the TL Dr.

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And put that at the top like because we’re used to doing that right that’s like part of our world is doing the TL Dr. Right. Then I will take that entire email and save it to word

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And send the executive only the TL Dr.

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And that tends to be exactly what you needed to say and then often they’re like, do you have further data about blah, blah, blah. And you’re like, Yes, I do.

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Because you’ve already done all that homework.

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That’s great approach.

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So Jeff, I wanna, I want to put a pause on this and then I want to get back into kind of the teaching aspect, what’s in the news.

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Cool. So one of the big things.

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Will be okay. It’s one of the big things we have this week is Google. I mean, Google is really been focusing on Page Speed, right, so last week and probably the week before we talked about PHP going into Google Search Console.

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But now they’re actually looking to build badging into Chrome to let people know that sites are slower or faster than you know the average bear, I guess.

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So it’s, it’s interesting because, again, I’m always trying to push my clients to be faster. And this is another approach that Google is taking to say

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Hey, your sites aren’t fast enough. Now we’re going to alert the world just like to do with HTTPS and you’re not secure

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So again, another thing I can show my clients to say like, this is really serious. This time I know before it said it was serious. And then now like but you know nothing changed. Now that you know it.

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Really seriously and

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That was really serious because

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Now you’re going to get like a red X next year site or something that says that you’re slow so

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I really do think that PHP is important. And I’m kind of running a study now trying to look at a whole bunch of e commerce sites and where they are in page beads

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Those sometimes it’s hard to get those metrics. Right. So I hope that when Google get tell somebody that their site is slow that they actually get the right metrics there because

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I am noticing about out of 150 e comm retailers that I’m looking at there are about 20 of them that are giving me inconsistent data inside of Google page speed insights

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Using their API. Sometimes I’ll get 100 and I’m like, why is this like giving me 100 right now. And that’s because they got a page that was blank.

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And like, hey, we have no JavaScript this page must be fast. But then I rerun it. And then I get a 36 so I am just hoping that we get those metrics down before we actually start putting people on blast.

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I have a question for you guys about page speed. This is a actually something that’s come up multiple times.

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You know, the whole is it important, is it really important, is it really, really important. Now, however, no site. I’ve been on has cracked the nut of actually having a fast site that does all the things they want it to do.

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Um, my question for you guys is one of the things that I’ve been feeling for a while, is that it really depends on the competition.

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That it that benchmarking the Page Speed across the competition is more valuable if everybody in your competition is a 35 and you have a 40, you’re probably okay.

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Um, if everybody in your competition has a 75 and you have a 30 you need to pay attention to it. Right. Um, that’s been my approach. More recently, what do you guys think in terms of the fact that nobody’s going to have a perfect score.

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Right, so that’s actually part of the reason I’m kind of putting together this little study that I hope to have

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One, it’s holiday season. Everyone thinks about e commerce, but so many of my e commerce clients deal with kind of go that route. Right. I

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I run a report. And I’m like, you got a 45, you know, we can, we should be at least by the 80s and then I run it against their six competitors and they’re doing better than their six competitors, so

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And e commerce is also tough right because you have lots of images and if you know for we’re designing for customers. Customers don’t want 10 products on a page.

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You know, they want to have more because they don’t want to have to click keep clicking next. So it’s one of those where I think industry specific. I also think it’s his competition specific

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Though I have found a couple that were, you know, put one out there IKEA. They’re getting like close to 100 all around with their reports and I gotta dig a little bit deeper into them. Like, why are they doing that.

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But it’s if they seem to have really great scores. While some other ones like I was kind of laughing, but like dollar tree gets a one and it’s like $1 so so it’s kind of a it’s ironic there.

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But in general, like

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I think the industry somewhere in the middle right you have those outliers, but for the most part, everyone’s getting between a 40 and 60 or something like that, where no one’s crushing it. Um,

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But yeah, I think, again, as a consultant. We’re always like, we want to be the top of the bunch, where we get the benefits of it.

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Right before everyone put scheme on their website, you had that big benefit of getting some, you know, stars in your reviews.

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Now everyone’s doing it and Google’s cutting it back because they can’t have everybody have an enhanced listing right so

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It’s one of those things where I think getting ahead of it is one great for your customers, but you’re not even thinking about rankings thinking about like your customer experience.

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You know that it’s really great that way. But on top of that. Now it’s a ranking factor and Google’s really trying to

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Push that inside of the search, you know, this is one of the ways doing it by having it again. It’s just in Chromium right now, but they’re one of those things like once it gets pushed live. You’re just like could be put on blast. So watch out balladry

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I’ve been the thing I’ve dealt with and I’ve been like fighting this uphill battle for years and I don’t know how many more hints

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Google can possibly give to say that it is important. I mean, they’ve made it even a ranking factor, and now it’s obviously not a big ranking factor, but it’s a factor nonetheless.

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I just don’t know how many more bones, they can continue to throw before people decide

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Or finally come to the realization that it’s that it’s actually important and take it seriously of the thing that I even still, to this day, run into is just a high level of skepticism.

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And when you go to a client and say, Hey, your page is getting like a 40 on mobile page speed, they really look at me and it’s almost like a. So, what

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What does that really mean. Or where was that test from because everybody knows Google uses a lot of lab.

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In industry industry data. So like, you don’t get to specify like device type or location that you’re testing from like you can with a webpage test and even with that they’re, they’re still skeptical.

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So there’s for whatever reason a lot of skepticism. I will say that in the few times that I’ve been able to convince

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Clients that this is the right thing to do, it came down to money and putting the putting the money like very clearly on the table and showing them how much money they were losing by not improving. There’s any number of studies that talk about the effect of the

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Inverse relationship between load time and conversion rate in revenue, the higher your load time goes the worst of the worst your conversion rate is and the less revenue that you get in the door. And I remember like

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clear as day sitting in a meeting with a huge hospitality client at another agency in telling them, and even when I made these numbers up. I felt like

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These are ridiculous numbers. But then I realized like the scale know this could actually be this could actually be right.

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I told them, like, Hey, your conversion rate is here and this is how much revenue you get from that.

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I think by increasing your speed, your conversion rate could be here and should be here and this is how much revenue you would gain and it was in the realm of millions and they laughed me out of the room and didn’t take me seriously. And I was like I was so mad. Let’s stop serious

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But then they partnered with a

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vendor who specializes in speed and helping people fix speed because they finally started to think, maybe there’s something to this. And the vendor who does this all the time for a living.

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Actually said that estimate was actually low, it’s worth more. And finally, they started taking little old me seriously and a lot of other recommendations went through a lot of

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You know way easier. But it was it was nice vindication but for whatever reason, like I just don’t get it. People don’t take this seriously, it’s really hard. Don’t get me wrong, speed is really hard, really complex, but like, people don’t take it seriously and I don’t get why I

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Think that you just nailed it on the head, that it’s really hard. It’s resource allocation and you have. So going back to my hip camp days.

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We had an engineering team of, you know, between six and 10 engineers at any time focusing on any number of projects and to focus on Page Speed would take away focuses on

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You know, fixing the shopping cart or the mobile site or this part or that part or, you know, this new thing that we’re creating

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And that conversion into money, putting it in the in the monopoly money that they care about that conversion into the dollars and cents that they care about still isn’t enough.

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To warrant taking that engineers. Time to because the. The other thing is, is that the engineers are looking at, like they do all the low hanging fruit. Right.

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And then they look at the stuff that’s left

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And they’re like, that’s going to take weeks.

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And the person who’s running that team goes, I can’t have a person tied up for weeks on Page Speed when we don’t know what the ROI is and we don’t know what this is. And, and, like, how was that worth it and and then it just comes down to the ROI equations really

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Having the inverse relationship of conversions absolutely is a huge part of it. Also the bounce rate is a huge part of it. That’s part of what I use to talk about it.

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You know it, but it does often come down to not that they don’t take it seriously, but that they don’t

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That it’s not as serious enough to allocate the resources that it would take to fix it.

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Because it is so site wide it is so endemic. It’s not like you can just fix one page. It’s not like you can just like pull a couple of levers, these are these are like you’ve got a restructure your JavaScript have fun.

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Go over some basics.

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Ages and all of them have giant images.

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Here to have fun. Go fix them all.

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And there are some things you can do that are basic like giant images. I have no one client who continually

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In their main navigation. They have a drop down where they put a little image on the bottom of the drop down and it changes monthly

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And it’s, it’s always two or three megabytes in size, for some reason, right, and it’s on every single page throughout the whole site and once like I put a ticket into the ticketing system, we get a fixed next month designer uploads and other one. That’s it.

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So without training and processes.

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So so valuable.

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Exactly and education is awesome because a lot of times I’m personally dealing with so and so, who works in this department.

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Sometimes it’s the tech team sometime it’s the marketing team. Never. Is it the design and like design team. So it’s like one of those where and designers. Nobody wants to really

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be told what to do. I used to be a developer in SEO is used to come to me with

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Their list of keywords and title tags and I was like, get out, like, you know, I’m trying to solve the world here, you know, by coming up with new fancy ways Dakota site and

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Then, once I moved over to the SEO world. It’s like, oh, you know, I mean, that’s, again, things that we need to do, but there’s so much other things and

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I wrote like a 27 page document for my one client who kept on having those issues just about image optimization in general.

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And I kind of white labeled. It’s like, give it to any client, but at the same time. It’s like this is one thing we can do on our site which shouldn’t take any tech time. It’s just once we learn that process, we can update our images and we’ll save three seconds or whatever that would

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So this is

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I’m glad that there are services like cloud flare and cloud and airy. It’s another one that are beginning to take this out of the designer who doesn’t give

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A shit about page speed or anything. It’s just trying to do their job, which is designed a beautiful sight and a beautiful image, whatever it is.

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There are there are now tools that begin to automate that and I can’t wait for them to become more pervasive within the way people manage that pervasive probably not the right word, but to expand into into the reality of the way that more people manage sites.

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I think that automation and processes, a very big important part of that, however.

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One of the things that I learned was

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That empowering people to help you and to have them help you with your problem solving is probably the most effective thing you could do. So going back to Web MD, you know, it’s a site that is really dependent upon SEO traffic. And so our, our department had

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A little bit of clout and so I was able to kind of swing that very gently into providing an SEO one on one for

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Any new hire coming in the door, because basically the the office where I sat in Midtown Atlanta had about 200 300 people and every single one of those people touched SEO in some way, shape, or form they made my life, good or bad depending on their day.

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And I needed them to know that I needed them to know that they were doing SEO regardless of whether they knew it or not. And so I did a little, um,

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Top Hat And Tails gig for new hires every couple of weeks, I would, I would go in and do this hour. And essentially, the whole hour was where our jobs intersect where you’re doing SEO and I’m

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When to call me and hi I’m friendly. This is what I look like. Say hi to me in the break room. And I’m such an introvert. It was really, really funny that I knew, like the entire company because of this.

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So, um, the way that that shook out was that the managers of these teams would sit in on these on these classes and they would go, Oh, this is amazing. I want this for my entire my entire group.

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And then I would get invited back to do a lunch and learn for the engineering team that was SEO for engineers or a lunch and learn for the design team that was SEO for designers and then I’m in the room with the entire design team for an hour.

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And the, the being able to show them. Okay, file size. This is what the difference in file size does this is what the file type and the way you’re saving it does. Please do this, but this is what file image naming conventions matter.

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You know, and this is why this is what I keep asking you to do.

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This is how this actually integrates and works on the site. And then this is how you’re succeeding.

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The key to all of it was not just this is how you’re making my life difficult but also this is how you’re winning and something you can put in your performance report.

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And I became the go to person for everybody to go, what can I put in my performance report about image sizes and image search and

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You know the improvements in Page Speed and and like I literally had one of the engineers. Buy me a steak dinner because she was like

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You, you just completely got me my bonus because you gave me all the metrics that I had no access to otherwise because I don’t understand how nature works. And this was awesome. Thank you.

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And so that was actually like I became their source for those metrics and so I’d be like okay so image search. This is where your images are showing up in search results and show them the Search Console report.

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And let them see which images are kicking ass and show them the the searches and actually show them what the search results look like or the image carousels where those call outs were

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And suddenly, they’re like, they’re like, oh, this thing I’m doing is actually visible on Google and they can, like, go home and show their kids, you know,

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And believe it or not. They do. They go home and show their wives and husbands that this is what they’re doing, because they’re like, I learned something new today.

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And they get excited about it and then all of a sudden you have buy in, you have cooperation, you have, you have a teamwork that is cohesive

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And then you can say, hey, as far as process improvement goes, Can we, you know, make saving files, the smaller thing as part of your process and then they like you and they’ll do that.

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softer side of evil.

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So this is how, why I’m passionate about training.

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Very important, very important.

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Cool.

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We just beat the shit out of Page Speed

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Yeah, I know. So

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That’s one.

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Thing that I kind of think ties into, you know, with MD, in a way, though it’s not really Web MD, is that

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Google just bought Fitbit and I know with Apple

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And I know with Apple, you know,

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Apple just, you know, with their Apple Watch. They do the ECG stuff and they also now.

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Just released their research apps where you can submit all your data to Apple and just for general research because their goal. And Google has the same goal.

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They want to figure out, health, while it’s happening. And hopefully by wearing a device they can say, like, hey, you’re about to have a heart attack, you better, you know, are all signs are pointing to this better go to a doctor.

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And a little bit of me and there’s like, you know, it’s not right away, of course. But what if

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They can also affected like you went for a run and Google knew you and for running, you get back. And now you have an ad for Gatorade because hey you’re parched, or if you’re

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You know your heart rate is up and it’s nighttime. And, you know, pay. Here’s an ad for melatonin. Maybe you’re having trouble sleeping, because we can track you know

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It, it’s to me. It’s kind of open that up like not that Google is looking at it to be even. I think they are evil. I think they’re really looking to

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To figure out kind of health because anyone who can figure out house like that I think makes a ton of money. But Google is also known for advertising and

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Being able to to pull ads around your Fitbit I think would be an interesting dilemma. When it comes to privacy. I mean, hopefully, that there is privacy laws that prevent this, but

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I think there’s always ways to figure that out. And I think coming from the talking about stress doing everything like this. Like there’s going to be devices and there are devices that track all that and they profit.

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00:52:15.780 –> 00:52:23.970
It depends on which letter of the alphabet has access to the data. Yeah, quite frankly, um, interestingly, I

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I won the lottery. Have we had big meetings that my boss and I both had to get somebody had to go to at the same exact time and one was in Mountain View and one was in Minnesota.

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And I won the Mountain View, visit

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00:52:42.360 –> 00:52:47.400
Which was was really exciting. My boss had to go to Minnesota and

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I went with a team to the Google offices for this like SHOW AND TELL day between Google and Web MD, they like, did the Web MD cook cupcakes and everything.

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And they were showing us they had people coming in from the various letters of the alphabet to show us the various things that they were doing in the health space everything from the human genome tracking to

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And they wanted to like sell us Big Query and stuff like that before they rolled it out and stuff like that. But, um,

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You know, it was also exploring. Is there a way we could be working on like their image recognition and the symptom checker and like actually exploring. Could we work together in in ways to kind of build some of this information.

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00:53:26.040 –> 00:53:34.680
Because at this point, um, you know, this is three, four years ago. But at that point, the CDC was actually using the symptom checker data to figure out flu outbreaks.

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Because we had faster data because people were plugging in their zip code as they were plugging in flu symptoms and then the CDC was able to go, oh, this is a code is having a flu outbreak.

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And and so it was that kind of real time information that we were talking about with them and quite frankly they had basically everything that you would have on a Fitbit

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On your Android device at that time. This is three, four years ago, they already had that anybody who had an Android phone. The same way that Google Health. I don’t have an Apple Watch, but I still have my steps in my phone whenever it my phone in my pocket.

337
00:54:08.700 –> 00:54:16.890
Um, and they had already cracked the code of figuring out, okay, this is a person walking on a sidewalk versus a bicycle versus a car.

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Based on where you were in the map on like GPS data.

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And your rate of speed, like, Oh, you’re on a scooter. We’re not going to count that as a step, they’ll actually be able to tell that based on your accelerometer and where you are, like, on the sidewalk or on the road. These are things that they could do years ago and so

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With Fitbit being monetized my feeling and and that data being available to be monetized. Really, it literally depends on where that that data can go

341
00:54:47.940 –> 00:55:00.210
Um, HIPAA as a privacy act and PII kind of information that can support that can protect this really honestly can’t protect you all that much. Um, it’s

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It can’t protect you from like ad retargeting and the reason why Web MD won’t do ad retargeting on the stuff that you look up is because it’s incredibly hot button.

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Because can you imagine like do I have an STD or. Am I pregnant. And then, you know, having those ads following you around. That’d be really, really awful.

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When you’re doing a presentation for a client.

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Right, right.

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Or if you’re 15 you know

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True to 15

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And so it’s just one of those like that’s a. It wasn’t that they couldn’t. It wasn’t that they legally, couldn’t it was that they wouldn’t because it was a bad idea.

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And so, um,

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I think Google already could do all of those things if they wanted to, um, and yes, they are absolutely trying to crack the nut. They’re doing a massive study with

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University of California in Berkeley, I think, um, where they have a clinic and they have like this lifetime study of people that they’ve taken every blood test known to man.

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And they go in and do these like massive physicals like all the tests that you like never run like that your doctor just doesn’t bother with unless you have a symptom.

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They run all of them. They also run all their DNA markers. They also run all of this stuff and then they watch and wait and see if they get sick.

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And then if there’s anything from that data that can actually be an earlier prediction of some sort of illness.

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Whether from the genetic side or from like you had a blood test that was off for this vitamin when you were 12 and now you have this, you know, and that kind of thing. And they’re using they’re attempting to use the big data concept to to manage human human health.

356
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Will they use it to gain financially.

357
00:57:04.260 –> 00:57:12.600
Oh yeah. Um, but I don’t think that’s a right away. I think that depends on who’s where the walls are and within the company.

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I’m looking at statistics in take this for what you will. I’m big data by 2020 is projected to be a $56 billion industry. And if you take that out by 2027

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00:57:30.390 –> 00:57:48.030
It’s expected to almost double 100 and $3 billion. So like when you look at Google and you look at Amazon and and of course my Google Pixel just went off so Google’s listening to this, so they know what I’m doing. And I’m going to turn that off because that’s creepy.

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I don’t want any Amazon result.

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Every time I say seriously Siri was clicking on and I had to like turn off all of her microphone settings for that.

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00:58:00.060 –> 00:58:17.880
So anyways, so Google being creepy that’s and it’s funny. It’s funny that that happened because that’s exactly what I’m worried about and I in. I don’t know if you guys feel this way but like everybody knows one of Google’s big internal credos is don’t be evil.

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And when I

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Don’t forget you.

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00:58:21.150 –> 00:58:23.790
You are calling on the equal and opposite.

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00:58:23.940 –> 00:58:25.350
Right. Right. And when I

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00:58:26.190 –> 00:58:36.510
When I when I heard about this acquisition. The, the first thing I thought was they, I don’t know that they necessarily care about Fitbit as a company

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They just want their data. And it’s the same with with Facebook. It’s the same with Amazon is they go through the process of

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Consolidating and acquiring all these companies and it kind of just seems like an arms race between some of these big companies.

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To just acquire as many companies as they can. And I don’t know that they care about the companies.

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But because data is projected to be such a massive, massive industry, the one who holds all the data is the one who can dictate the terms of whatever whatever is going to be in the next

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00:59:12.660 –> 00:59:24.960
10 years and I do feel like at some point, like because of the nature of Google Google’s of business and like you said earlier, they’re beholden to shareholders. So they’ve got to turn a profit.

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So You’re damn right, they’re going to use this data to their advantage in probably in some ways that are not in my opinion, probably entirely ethical

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00:59:36.660 –> 00:59:37.650
guys feel about that.

375
00:59:38.550 –> 00:59:56.100
Well i mean the the trick with big data, um, has been up until recently, very recently, um, the trick has been that very few companies have had the bandwidth and the ability to do anything about it.

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00:59:57.180 –> 01:00:08.100
It’s like they could collect all the data they wanted. But it was so much noise because how, how the hell were they going to parse it and understand it and do anything and and pull any learnings out of it.

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01:00:09.120 –> 01:00:23.220
Google, Apple, Amazon are probably, you know, maybe, maybe, Microsoft, um, are the ones that I feel like have the capacity at this point to actually do something with their big data.

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Because you have to have both like the speed and the storage and the ability to actually now analyze it.

379
01:00:33.900 –> 01:00:42.150
And I feel like that. You’re right. They are just gathering their Scrooge McDuck in the gold in the house, you know, in the silo full of gold.

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Going, we don’t know what we’re going to do with it, but will swim in it for now and then figure it out later and. And yeah, I totally feel like that’s what they’re doing.

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01:00:50.940 –> 01:00:57.360
I think that’s what’s happening with the echo in the pixels and all of that. Just and Siri, just having the microphones on all the time.

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01:00:57.750 –> 01:01:11.850
Facebook is the only one that’s used his microphone data in a way that people are going, I just talked about that. Now there’s an ad EU and like it. They were just too transparent with it. Like they they literally were just too obvious. Everybody else is like just playing it. Cool.

383
01:01:14.040 –> 01:01:23.820
Yeah, and we are all the lobsters in the pot and all these companies are slowly raising the temperature and we’re all boil before we realize what’s happening exactly

384
01:01:24.540 –> 01:01:31.440
Oh, so let’s um let’s move out of the news to me last topic or to then kind of the deep dive.

385
01:01:32.130 –> 01:01:49.650
I also want to be respectful of respectful of time, but today we wanted to kind of deep dive into teaching Alicia, you have a passion for teaching. So I, I just wanted to dive into like what’s behind your love for teaching others teaching SEO, so on and so forth.

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01:01:50.880 –> 01:02:11.610
Um, well, like I said earlier, I believe that the most important way to get buy in from other parts of the company from clients that have that are resistant to see sweets that are resistant to getting an allocation of resources is education.

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I think that teaching somebody in a way that is accessible to them and that matters to them that speaks their language is the number one way to get what you need to get done. Done.

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01:02:25.440 –> 01:02:33.450
My boss at Web MD actually had a really good thing that he used to say, which was we don’t actually do any SEO. We just convinced everybody else to do it for us.

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Which is pretty accurate because we had like some control over page titles. But like we had to have editorial team right a thing. And then the doctors review it.

390
01:02:44.370 –> 01:02:56.430
And then, you know, we could like stare at it and go, Hey, can we change this word, but we didn’t really have a lot of control, all we had to all we had at our disposal was education and

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01:02:57.510 –> 01:03:08.250
You know, buy in from the 200 people in the building with us. And, um, I find that that approach in the agency world actually really helps.

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01:03:09.390 –> 01:03:14.580
Because by giving education buy in and success reports, what you get is

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People who are much more invested, you get clients that are going to renew you get like the you get those clients that even if the results don’t show up.

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01:03:23.430 –> 01:03:26.340
They start seeing like the little wins, because they’re educated

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01:03:26.790 –> 01:03:32.520
They start understanding that this is stuff going on below the surface because they’re educated if they understand the CTR hockey stick

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01:03:32.820 –> 01:03:43.710
And what that graph looks like. And I go, yeah, SEO traffic is low because we’re ranking number nine. And we have a point 3% click Ctr. I get that. Here’s what it looks like when you move up the page.

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01:03:45.000 –> 01:03:54.420
Know, and they understand what that hockey stick looks like when they really can get that, then they’re like, All right, let’s go for number seven. You know, like they get all in and that’s

398
01:03:54.690 –> 01:04:03.180
That buy in is what makes us move the needle. That’s where you get the resource allocation. That’s where you get the people taking you seriously when you go really seriously page to be matters, y’all.

399
01:04:04.620 –> 01:04:13.020
Um, one of the things that I found that helps the most is speaking in terms of metaphors.

400
01:04:14.970 –> 01:04:20.790
I honestly believe that a lot of the issues that come with SEO in our world.

401
01:04:22.080 –> 01:04:30.510
Is that people get stuck in the jargon and they don’t explain it in simple enough terms to make the other person actually understand they’re very

402
01:04:31.170 –> 01:04:41.220
Very concerned about sounding smart and being correct and not worried about the other person truly understanding which I were just were like my teaching hat comes in so much

403
01:04:43.050 –> 01:04:55.050
Because I prefer not to use the jargon, like you were, you were like, I don’t want to use EA t. And I was like, Yeah, exactly. I like I won’t use the at I’ll say the context of your site matters.

404
01:04:56.640 –> 01:05:04.380
And, and, like, I’ll take it all the way back to to like when you were in third grade, and you were learning from context clues. How to Understand a sentence.

405
01:05:04.710 –> 01:05:08.610
And you came across a big word. And then your mom’s like, figure it out and

406
01:05:09.270 –> 01:05:15.840
You know, like I take them to the third grade with that. And then I walk them through understanding context clues as a Google bot.

407
01:05:16.260 –> 01:05:27.990
And then I’m like, now understand good Googlebot you know with hummingbird they became like a a college freshman of understanding context clues and I was like a now they’re like smarter than us.

408
01:05:28.920 –> 01:05:38.370
So, so it’s the idea of contextual reality and then I’m talking in terms of context and not talking about you. I’m really talking about it.

409
01:05:38.910 –> 01:05:50.040
But I’m not using the jargon and I find that using that kind of teaching methodology tends to win people over and get them on board a hell of a lot faster. Um,

410
01:05:51.510 –> 01:05:56.400
Other stuff that I taught. One of the things that is really funny is my people at women D, the

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01:05:57.240 –> 01:06:09.840
Metaphors and phrases that I’ve coined they thought were industry terms, so much so that they didn’t know when somebody else didn’t know it that that was like they were like, oh, clearly you have nothing. You know nothing about SEO.

412
01:06:10.650 –> 01:06:23.490
Because I made it up. I’m the editorial team at Web MD thought that keyword cannibalization as a term was Ag, so I called it sibling rivalry and told them to pick a favorite child.

413
01:06:24.750 –> 01:06:26.520
It’s the same thing.

414
01:06:28.710 –> 01:06:34.950
But they all thought sibling rivalry was totally, totally an SEO term like all over the world.

415
01:06:36.540 –> 01:06:45.270
And so it’s the same concept. I’m like, the kids are arguing in the backseat. You want one of them to be in the front seat. So, you know, shove the other one off into the ditch.

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01:06:50.070 –> 01:06:56.130
And, and, like, it’s that concept of humor and like visual images where they’re like, okay, I’m going to pick a favorite child.

417
01:06:58.950 –> 01:06:59.700
Great analogy.

418
01:07:00.570 –> 01:07:06.840
And talking in those metaphors, is I find really really helpful.

419
01:07:08.070 –> 01:07:18.510
I use them constantly I’m one of the ones that the that I know a lot of my team is sick of hearing, but it works so well.

420
01:07:19.800 –> 01:07:24.780
Is I talk about 301 redirects are permanent address changes with the US Postal Service.

421
01:07:26.010 –> 01:07:37.440
And how, if you’ve moved around a lot, and done a lot of those through a lot of address changes with the Postal Service, you know that if you do too many and too fast to time, you lose bills and possibly checks.

422
01:07:38.910 –> 01:07:44.460
Like that the Postal Service doesn’t know how to find you, things don’t get forwarded to the right place. Every it’s mayhem.

423
01:07:45.060 –> 01:07:53.070
And so you want to do them with great care great deliberation and probably no more frequently than every six months and

424
01:07:53.910 –> 01:07:57.390
Comparing it to just an address change, which is what it is.

425
01:07:57.720 –> 01:08:07.890
But actually making it something that is real life that they can hold in their hands like you can actually hand somebody that you still US Postal Service envelope and go, this is the thing you’re doing with that 301 redirect.

426
01:08:08.580 –> 01:08:18.540
And if it’s a forum for it just means you moved in didn’t fill this out you know and and you can like really explain server hundred responses by Houston. This wasn’t stupid form from the post office.

427
01:08:20.250 –> 01:08:29.070
But it’s tangible and it’s something they can think about like they can think about bills and checks coming in, they can think about like they have this tangible relatable thing.

428
01:08:29.400 –> 01:08:33.420
They don’t care what the numbers mean. They care what the actual effect is

429
01:08:33.990 –> 01:08:46.920
And so that’s the kind of thing that I use when I’m doing client education as well as when I’m when I’m talking to C suite I use the same like I’m not talking down to a person. I’m just assuming they don’t give a shit what a three or one is

430
01:08:49.050 –> 01:08:50.430
They don’t care.

431
01:08:51.900 –> 01:08:57.480
They don’t care what acronym. I’m talking about. They just want to know what what they need to know

432
01:08:59.430 –> 01:09:09.300
So those are the kinds of metaphors that I really, I get into using and people laugh that I do it, but quite frankly, I find it is incredibly effective

433
01:09:11.130 –> 01:09:15.360
Because you have people who understand. Oh, we don’t want to do too many three ones will lose bills.

434
01:09:19.440 –> 01:09:30.120
Questions question. So there’s like, you know, we don’t learn this in college right SEO in general is not being taught in schools, maybe there’s a class or maybe there’s like some high level stuff but

435
01:09:30.660 –> 01:09:50.370
We’ve learned, like I’ve spent countless and endless nights learning trying adding stuff failing getting stuffed good at reading doing all this stuff to to get to where I’m at and been doing that for the last 10 to 15 years and doing that. And I have a ton of experience doing that.

436
01:09:51.390 –> 01:09:52.680
I mean, you feel there’s like

437
01:09:54.300 –> 01:10:01.680
An ethical responsibility for me to teach the lesson experience. I mean, I feel like I’ve learned a lot of it on my own.

438
01:10:02.130 –> 01:10:07.140
But in general, I mean, is there like that pay it forward mentality that would like

439
01:10:07.800 –> 01:10:14.310
I should be sitting down with more junior telling them everything teaching them everything I’ve learned in there. I was in the SEO world there’s

440
01:10:14.790 –> 01:10:23.520
Are some people who hold on to their knowledge and there’s tons of people who share it and and i think i do share a good bit about it. But I think there’s sometimes I’m just want to say

441
01:10:24.270 –> 01:10:31.290
Go, you know, hey, go build a website and then you’ll learn how to do a redirect or you’ll learn that something’s you know

442
01:10:31.770 –> 01:10:43.020
when something breaks, like you’re just not constantly having to call me even though I do like being in that position where people call me it’s like it’s a weird thing. But I was wondering, like, kind of what you feel about some of that.

443
01:10:43.980 –> 01:10:52.770
So, um, I’ve been exploring the idea of like creating a training program like doing kind of like an online training kind of community.

444
01:10:54.390 –> 01:11:00.750
And part of what I’ve explored with that is, what are the skills that an SEO really needs to know.

445
01:11:01.950 –> 01:11:06.840
I had a kind of an apprentice. We did an apprenticeship. He’s now a journeyman

446
01:11:08.520 –> 01:11:14.250
Is not yet a master, but he’s a journeyman he’s off traveling and doing his own thing with other masters, um,

447
01:11:14.910 –> 01:11:29.130
He and I talked a lot about what skills do you need to know. Yeah. You need to know how to use the tools you need to know which tools to use when and like the basics of what a client would expect. But the real key.

448
01:11:30.660 –> 01:11:33.000
Thing that I think

449
01:11:36.210 –> 01:11:52.290
Needs to be taught in school needs to be taught in college needs to be taught to our junior SEOs and honestly if I’m going to write a nonfiction book about SEO. This is going to be the topic, um, the concept is of information.

450
01:11:53.310 –> 01:12:15.270
validation and understanding and being able to to understand your source and to think skeptically and critically about it. Um, because what you just said was that you went off and you read a whole lot and you test it a whole lot and you tried a whole lot. And that’s how you learned it.

451
01:12:16.440 –> 01:12:23.130
Um, that is information validation selection and and critically thinking about it.

452
01:12:24.180 –> 01:12:44.340
What we have in the age of the Internet is an information overload. But it’s of all varying degrees of validity and value and usefulness and like we’ve got their SEO articles that people are still citing that are from 2008 and it’s like, Oh, honey. No.

453
01:12:46.230 –> 01:12:47.640
And the thing is is that

454
01:12:47.670 –> 01:12:48.210
Cut said

455
01:12:49.950 –> 01:12:50.550
Exactly.

456
01:12:51.810 –> 01:12:59.310
And so how do you, how do you assess that information and its validity, because it could be about a best practice, it could be

457
01:12:59.670 –> 01:13:08.730
Something that legitimately is still correct there are things from 2008 that like you know you should maybe have an old time first screen reader that is a couple of words long about that image.

458
01:13:08.940 –> 01:13:15.060
Like there are things that they were saying in 2008 that were not wrong. Matt Cutts still said stuff that wasn’t wrong.

459
01:13:15.360 –> 01:13:25.830
The problem is applying that critical thinking to. Okay. How is that different today. How does that matter to me. Where does that come in. I feel the same way about reading anything that comes out of Google’s mouth.

460
01:13:27.750 –> 01:13:32.250
Because there’s a layer of, okay, here’s the best practice. This is what they want. This is their desired state.

461
01:13:34.860 –> 01:13:43.380
How does that actually reflected in reality because they can say Page Speed really matters, but does Patriot really matter. I need to know myself.

462
01:13:45.240 –> 01:13:50.070
And how is that reflected in reality because they’re not saying where the money is.

463
01:13:51.900 –> 01:14:01.530
Because if you think about page speed as a factor and they want everybody on AMP. They want everybody to do this. They want everybody on that they want everybody on Google Cloud services so that you can have your page speed and eat it, too.

464
01:14:02.160 –> 01:14:06.930
The thing is, is that the money is in everybody’s data going on AMP.

465
01:14:08.610 –> 01:14:13.050
The money is in everybody hosting on Google because it’ll make their pages faster.

466
01:14:13.860 –> 01:14:29.490
The money is in all of these other things that is not necessarily PHP matters to users. Whoo. We’re not evil and being able to see through those layers and articulate those layers of

467
01:14:30.030 –> 01:14:39.900
Of reality. They’re not wrong PHP does matter users, there is no human being that’s ever gone GEE, I WISH THIS website were slower, but at the same time.

468
01:14:41.010 –> 01:14:50.280
You’ve got to read. You got to read between the lines that Google is a money making apparatus and this is capitalism and you know they’re going to make a buck somehow

469
01:14:51.000 –> 01:14:56.010
And so if if that’s and so it’s like okay so let’s follow that money wherever it goes so

470
01:14:57.000 –> 01:15:05.400
Understanding and being able to tell. Okay. Is this a trusted source of information that’s why one of my SEO interview questions is always, what do you read to stay up to date.

471
01:15:06.300 –> 01:15:13.260
What news. Do you read to stay up to date and SEO because if they tell me a website that I think is complete malarkey. I’m going to be like, hey,

472
01:15:15.570 –> 01:15:26.250
Or I’ll say, okay, why, why are you reading that website. What is it about that website that you find useful because they might be like, oh, it’s complete Malarkey but I read it for the comedy value like i mean

473
01:15:27.480 –> 01:15:29.550
It. There’s, there’s a lot of reasons why.

474
01:15:30.360 –> 01:15:36.660
Somebody might look at those things, or I read it because there’s black hat tips in all of the comments or whatever. I don’t know.

475
01:15:37.140 –> 01:15:45.450
Um, but the thing for me is it’s about information evaluation. And if you’re going to teach somebody anything that’s teaching a man to fish right they’re

476
01:15:46.350 –> 01:15:56.160
Teaching them to because we’re all skeptics every, every SEO that has like an old salty SEO that I know is skeptical and paranoid every last one of us.

477
01:15:59.010 –> 01:16:02.100
The older and salty or we are, the more skeptical and paranoid. We are

478
01:16:03.810 –> 01:16:05.460
We’re experienced, we are

479
01:16:11.520 –> 01:16:17.640
We are skeptical and paranoid and and i think that the worst SEO is a gullible SEO.

480
01:16:19.410 –> 01:16:36.300
And if you feel compelled to train a junior up. I feel like that is the skill to train them. That is the thing that is the thing to hand on to if you want to be Yoda. That’s what you give Luke because he’s gonna run off before you’re done training them anyway.

481
01:16:37.770 –> 01:16:46.860
Buddy and and the thing that my apprentice kept running into was, I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know anything about that. I was like, I run into shit. I don’t know how to do every day you learn how to Google it.

482
01:16:48.090 –> 01:16:58.560
You learn how to look up 17 sources on that one topic and like do a complete brain dump and then go. Alright, this is how I’m going to test this. And that’s how you learn.

483
01:16:59.820 –> 01:17:00.480
So I think

484
01:17:00.540 –> 01:17:16.050
The, the overarching question still remains, you’re a person that has a lot of experience. Should you not, maybe not. Can you teach somebody else should you should you, is it worth your time.

485
01:17:16.950 –> 01:17:18.240
I think that depends on the person.

486
01:17:19.500 –> 01:17:22.980
I think it depends on the person, because I’m

487
01:17:25.560 –> 01:17:45.510
Are industry is so rife with weird complex battles and drama and so much of the like old stuff still getting sold and the snake oil still getting done. And I can’t tell you how many people go, oh I hired for somebody for SEO and I got really burned by it.

488
01:17:46.530 –> 01:17:50.040
I mean, I hear that daily and

489
01:17:51.090 –> 01:17:52.380
Is it our

490
01:17:53.970 –> 01:18:01.050
If we are passionate about this as a as a effort as a career as a vocation.

491
01:18:02.070 –> 01:18:10.230
Is it our calling and requirement to build others who are not shoddy snake oil salesman, you know,

492
01:18:11.610 –> 01:18:12.240
Um,

493
01:18:13.950 –> 01:18:23.550
I honestly believe that that’s a, that’s a personal question. Um, I personally was really burned out. I still am kind of burned out on SEO.

494
01:18:23.970 –> 01:18:37.560
And I find that teaching and training is a way for me to tap into a passion and be excited about it and feel like I’m doing good in the world. Instead of just get more Google visitors to this website like it’s

495
01:18:39.570 –> 01:18:41.070
It’s a way that gives me, meaning

496
01:18:42.120 –> 01:18:47.790
And I think that if it’s meaningful for you and it does give you meaning then. Absolutely. You should um

497
01:18:48.930 –> 01:18:50.160
Should everybody

498
01:18:51.780 –> 01:18:52.350
I mean,

499
01:18:56.670 –> 01:18:57.600
Probably not.

500
01:19:00.630 –> 01:19:01.770
I guess. Why would you say that

501
01:19:03.150 –> 01:19:03.690
Um,

502
01:19:07.830 –> 01:19:13.380
I mean, not everybody is going to be a good trainer teacher and they might teach

503
01:19:14.520 –> 01:19:18.480
Not wrong things but they might they might teach things that are

504
01:19:20.100 –> 01:19:21.630
The service to others.

505
01:19:23.190 –> 01:19:33.420
Um, I mean, not everybody set up to be a guru. You know that’s that’s the whole self proclaimed guru thing, isn’t it, I let me be your master like it’s ridiculous.

506
01:19:35.190 –> 01:19:40.380
Not everybody has that has those chops. Um, and, and to know what like

507
01:19:40.740 –> 01:19:48.180
Like I was saying, the difference between teaching a person to fish versus, you know, having them come back to me every time having this apprentice. That was sitting here every day.

508
01:19:48.780 –> 01:20:00.300
Um, I needed him to know it was okay not to know everything, and how to go find that out more than I needed him to know here’s the checklist to fill out for these 10 steps to do this thing.

509
01:20:02.430 –> 01:20:04.260
Um, and so

510
01:20:05.400 –> 01:20:20.190
It depends on where you are. I know that a lot of people really feel like they don’t want anybody else’s bad habits. So they want to like grow their own juniors from the start and be like, oh, I want this like fresh new mind to to mold. As I wish.

511
01:20:20.790 –> 01:20:29.970
Um, and that’s that is absolutely a valid way to go about things. Um, but I do find that you find blind spots in that

512
01:20:31.290 –> 01:20:37.950
Because that that new person doesn’t learn how to think in new ways without you. That’s why an apprentice has to go be a journeyman

513
01:20:38.070 –> 01:20:47.340
Often there, they might be your own blind spots. If you’re molding them to reflect who you are and you have blind spots. Well, if they’re going to have those lines spots as well. I have

514
01:20:48.540 –> 01:20:54.330
To use a Star Wars analogy because it kind of sounds like we’re talking about like six floors here but

515
01:20:56.790 –> 01:21:11.250
If you’re a paddle on and you’re looking at someone as your as your, your Yoda, your, your jet I trainer, how you know if you’re if you’re a person that you’re looking up to is completely full of crap.

516
01:21:12.240 –> 01:21:13.800
Is it a quiet gone or Apollo 13

517
01:21:13.920 –> 01:21:14.430
Right, right.

518
01:21:18.090 –> 01:21:18.690
Um,

519
01:21:20.280 –> 01:21:32.610
Yeah, well that comes down to that question of information. Information articulation and understanding, can you can you tell whether that person is completely full of crap or not.

520
01:21:35.310 –> 01:21:40.590
I’m a lot of people get sucked in by fake gurus all the time.

521
01:21:41.760 –> 01:21:42.450
Um,

522
01:21:43.500 –> 01:21:47.790
I honestly think that a junior SEO.

523
01:21:50.070 –> 01:22:02.190
The clearest way would be to talk to another master you know if if you’re talking to a colleague on chalk, talk to the OB one talk to the, you know, talk to you to talk to some of the other guys and see what’s going on. Um,

524
01:22:03.660 –> 01:22:05.940
And if they go, Oh, you’re studying with him. Hmm.

525
01:22:09.060 –> 01:22:18.480
You know, kind of crowdsource that information, but also I think understanding and and knowing how to look up that information for yourself and double checking it is really important.

526
01:22:20.010 –> 01:22:30.150
Yeah, I think I would I would tend to agree and I feel like I I’m giving you these questions as as playing devil’s advocate, I am one of those people that feel like

527
01:22:31.620 –> 01:22:34.980
The feel like we do as more experienced people have

528
01:22:36.030 –> 01:22:47.130
Maybe not an ethical responsibility, but some sort of responsibility to pay it forward, because there were people that felt responsible to pay it forward to me.

529
01:22:47.850 –> 01:22:58.410
early on in my career. So I think I’m, to some degree, always going to be trying to do that. But I also realize that not everybody’s passionate about that not everybody’s good at that.

530
01:22:59.190 –> 01:23:18.990
Not everybody wants to do that. I will say for myself. The in my career, more so than working with clients or any other thing, the area where I found the most fulfillment was when I was doing the the teaching and helping shape shape young minds, quote, unquote.

531
01:23:20.100 –> 01:23:27.810
Teaching them teaching them how to fish and even more happy for me was watching them then go out and fish and then

532
01:23:28.140 –> 01:23:39.780
Take what they started with me and branch off and develop it even further and then watching them start to teach other people how to fish like you have no idea how amazing for me.

533
01:23:40.860 –> 01:23:52.890
That felt like selfishly in not that i think i’m like super greater or anything, anything like that but it was for me, a real badge of honor to watch people that I

534
01:23:55.020 –> 01:23:59.490
helped to bring up helping to bring other people, other people up.

535
01:24:00.480 –> 01:24:08.280
But I will say that there there are people out there that are just, I remember early on in my career, there was

536
01:24:09.030 –> 01:24:14.760
A certain couple of people early on in my career I had created a blog that I call the agent SEO.

537
01:24:15.570 –> 01:24:29.610
As just kind of a way to well blogging was big at the time and I just, just like this podcast I had a creative itch and I wanted to get it out there. So I would post seo, seo content and they got so mad.

538
01:24:30.150 –> 01:24:36.630
At me for, quote unquote, sharing the industry trade trade secrets and I just never quite

539
01:24:37.320 –> 01:24:47.550
Understood. And these people were supposed to be my quote unquote teachers, and this was talking a lot about data. This was a data point for me that my teachers were

540
01:24:48.000 –> 01:24:56.550
Idiots completed, complete, complete and maybe they weren’t idiots. But like I just felt like they were off base. And for me that was a point

541
01:24:57.630 –> 01:25:00.930
A turning point for me in relation to my ability to

542
01:25:02.160 –> 01:25:09.750
To trust them, and I was never really able to trust them, but I also think, Okay, we’re thinking about this from the perspective of the people teaching

543
01:25:11.100 –> 01:25:21.480
In Jeff, you said an interesting. An interesting thing go build a website. I think that those folks coming up in the space have just as much responsibility.

544
01:25:22.080 –> 01:25:40.740
Like you said, Alicia to go out and validate and test and learn. They have just as much responsibility to go out and do that. And I have to admit, sometimes I don’t necessarily see the level of productivity that I would like with with the young folks coming up in the industry.

545
01:25:42.000 –> 01:25:46.140
Now that I’m one of the older folks, I would like to see more of that.

546
01:25:46.710 –> 01:25:49.980
Coming from folks that are that are new in the industry just

547
01:25:50.280 –> 01:26:01.950
You know, a curiosity or hey, I want to go try building a website just to just to break things just to see what will will happen and I fully realized that’s not for everybody, but I do think that as much as

548
01:26:02.400 –> 01:26:22.380
The experienced folks, the old guard has a responsibility to teach people, especially if you’re good at doing it the people coming up, have a responsibility to not just wait to be taught to go figure things out as much as possible, but that’s true.

549
01:26:23.700 –> 01:26:30.960
I agree with you that it is it is a. And that’s, you know, mythological studies going back to the to my grad degree.

550
01:26:31.890 –> 01:26:47.310
The guru relationship. The, the person who is the student does have that kind of responsibility, they have to go do their work in those real real situations, they, they have a lot more work to do, then, then the teacher does really

551
01:26:49.140 –> 01:27:01.110
You made me think of a thing that a manager said to me once, and this is way back in the bell South days and this manager took me aside and said,

552
01:27:02.520 –> 01:27:03.810
You have a lot of knowledge.

553
01:27:04.980 –> 01:27:05.640
And

554
01:27:06.780 –> 01:27:10.230
you’re mistaking that knowledge for power.

555
01:27:11.280 –> 01:27:13.800
But knowledge is only powerful when you share it.

556
01:27:17.370 –> 01:27:25.920
And that is kind of where I come from, on all of this is that knowledge is only powerful when I’m sharing it with other people.

557
01:27:27.750 –> 01:27:28.950
That’s actually a powerful statement.

558
01:27:32.910 –> 01:27:34.680
Awesome. Well, I mean, I think that’s

559
01:27:35.970 –> 01:27:40.800
Gonna be really careful of time because we’re pushing an hour and a half now. So

560
01:27:42.480 –> 01:27:43.710
Lots of editing homework.

561
01:27:43.740 –> 01:27:45.210
Yeah, no, it’s great and

562
01:27:45.960 –> 01:27:54.540
You know, I guess my final thoughts on that aspect was I really feel that I am willing to teach. But you have to be willing to learn and

563
01:27:55.350 –> 01:28:02.370
When you know some things are complicated, right, and doing any tips or coding or any types of tech I focus on technical side a lot. It’s

564
01:28:02.730 –> 01:28:17.640
It’s there are some people who just who always want to know it, but really don’t. There’s a lot of time. You got to put into doing it and it’s if I don’t feel that you’re 100% into it. I feel like I might be wasting my time and time is more, you know, valuable than than any of this. So,

565
01:28:18.660 –> 01:28:22.770
But I wanted to thank you for coming onto the show and I, you know, we’re gonna

566
01:28:23.880 –> 01:28:30.090
I don’t think we’re gonna have much editing. I think we have some really great content going on here and I’m hoping that the world gets listen to it all.

567
01:28:32.190 –> 01:28:34.530
Well, thank you so much for having me. It was it was a pleasure.

568
01:28:34.890 –> 01:28:36.030
A good way to start Friday.

569
01:28:37.260 –> 01:28:37.770
Yes.

570
01:28:39.150 –> 01:28:40.470
Oh, bye everybody.

571
01:28:40.800 –> 01:28:42.870
All right. Thank you, guys. Bye.

#21: Brian Gorman

We talk with Brian Gorman about going from a music career to SEO, link penalties, importance of developing an SEO specialty and more.

#15: Janet Bartoli

We talk with Janet Bartoli about in-house SEO, agency SEO, consulting, speaking, and educating others about search.

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