Search Engine Optimization is a critical part of marketing your business. Sure I’m biased. Nonetheless, SEO gets you into the consideration set where your market and your competitors are. Without it, you’re a ghost, invisible. Yet, many business owners are not savvy enough about SEO to even make a good hiring decision to bring on the right person or agency to optimize their website.
It was great to be on David Newman’s Do It! Marketing Podcast and share my knowledge on SEO. In this episode, I gave a crash course on better SEO practices and where it should be applied. I also shared how I structured my business and service offerings to tailor toward clients of different sizes, budgets, and needs.
This episode is filled with great information to help you jumpstart your organization’s SEO. Or take it to the next level. Enjoy!
In this Episode
- [00:21] – Stephan appears on The Speaking Show with David Newman. In this podcast, we take a crash course on SEO practices and how to put them into practice.
- [01:38] – David asks Stephan how he became an SEO expert.
- [03:05] – Stephan has been authoring and co-authoring powerful SEO books. He shares some tips on what he does to prevent his books from looking outdated and becoming obsolete, as well as how to keep them in demand. David asks Stephan which of his books came first, and Stephan gives a few tips on how to make them current with people.
- [06:23] – David mentions Stephan’s free resource, which can be found on his website entitled, These SEO Myths MUST Die!. Stephan discusses some of the issues that come to mind, such as putting content in the wrong places and thinking it will increase search engine rankings. Furthermore, he discusses the need to future-proof websites and not become spammy.
- [13:26] – Stephan describes the importance of using effective and efficient strategies to optimize your podcasts, YouTube channel, and Facebook page. He shares an article he wrote as an example, Youtube SEO 101.
- [16:35] – Stephan explains how his marketing niche works and who his ideal client is. They also discuss some companies’ situational SEO strategies and how SEO experts come into play.
- [22:43] – Stephan takes David and the listeners to the beginning of how he created the ladder toward the products and services he is offering. He mentions his programs and their costs.
- [38:50] – Build link-worthy content with Stephan’s advice. He also recommends Andy Crestodina‘s evil-twin technique. For more SEO strategies, Stephan invites everyone to visit his main site.
- [41:50] – David asks Stephan for his top three tips before ending. This is what you need to ask yourself: what intrigued, concerned, and surprised you?
This is The Speaking Show. I’m David Newman, and you’re tuned in to the number one podcast for speakers, consultants, and experts who want to speak more profitably.
Get ready. I hope you’re sitting down. We have here my special guest, Stephan Spencer. Welcome to The Speaking Show.
Thanks for having me.
You are a guru of all things search engine optimization. SEO is—let’s be fair—one of your areas of expertise. How did you get into that? How did that come to be your thing? Give us the professional journey that brought you to where you are today with your previous lives and previous careers.
It started when I was in graduate school studying for a degree in biochemistry. I started building websites on the side just for fun, built one for my department, built a couple of websites just around passion projects of mine, and I realized, wow, this is an area I could just specialize in.
I dropped out of my Ph.D., and I started an agency. That was in the mid-90s, so a long time ago. Then, SEO came around shortly after that and I started focusing on that. I started doing SEO as a standalone offering in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, but before that, we built SEO into the websites we created for our clients.
Four years into this business, I decided I could do this Internet thing from anywhere and moved to New Zealand. I’d never been there before, but I applied for residency and got in. Apparently, you can do anything from anywhere. I did it for almost eight years, so it was really fun.
How about that? And along the way, you’ve written some fantastic books. You’re the author of Google Power Search, the co-author of The Art of SEO, and then the co-author of the Social ECommerce book. All of whom are O’Reilly, correct?
These aren’t little, self-published vanity projects. This is a serious mainstream Internet publishing authority book. Which one came first?
The Art of SEO. Now, if you would have told me back in 2000 and whatever that I was going to be an O’Reilly author, I would have said, no way. That would have been a dream for me because I taught myself Perl programming in 1992 from an O’Reilly book.
I think you are—as some of my other friends—in this dilemma in that you are constantly updating your expertise because SEO changes constantly. Any book you ever write must be incredibly frustrating because the moment it goes to print, one or more pages are already out of date, correct?If you follow the best and most basic SEO practices, you're in pretty good shape. You're not fully optimized, but you're ahead of your competitors. Click To Tweet
Yeah, that’s true. But if you plan this in, you can avoid the stuff you know will just go obsolete so quickly. The more third-party tools you screenshot and include in the book, the more likely it will look obsolete quickly.
We dodged a few bullets at different points between rebranded editions, so it became Bing. Before that, it was Live Search. We had all these Live Search screenshots, and they’re like, uh-oh. We almost missed the deadline for that, but we were able to sneak in those new screenshots just before printing, so that was good.
Do you do some supplements or updates? How do you keep these books current with people who might subscribe to the O’Reilly newsletter or end up on your email list?
I’m trying to create a book that’s more tried and true best practices, not a flash-in-the-pan sort of stuff.
I continually publish blog posts and articles and write for Search Engine Land, Ad Week, and so forth, so I’m always putting new stuff out there. But like I said, I’m trying to create a book that’s more tried and true best practices, not-flash-in-the-pan sort of stuff, so 95% of what you would read in the third edition of The Art of SEO (I think) is still going to be valuable and relevant.
There will be new stuff that won’t be in the book, the latest algorithm update and so forth. You can’t constantly be updating that sort of stuff, but if you follow the best practices around keyword research, content marketing, link building, technical on-page SEO, things that involve best practices, using canonical tags, 301 redirects, not overly long, overly complex URLs with lots of ampersands, and so forth and if you get the basics right, you’re in pretty good shape. You’re not fully optimized necessarily, but you’re ahead of many of your competitors.
I always tell people, “Dudes, what’s up with the canonical references and the 301 redirects?” I’m saying that to people all the time. Of course, I’m kidding because I barely know what some of those might be, but you have a fantastic free resource on your website. It’s not just SEO myths. It’s These SEO Myths MUST DIE!
Whether we’re an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a small business owner, or a big Fortune 500 company—and (again) with your client base and the folks that you serve—what are some of those big myths, even the ones that you wrote about in the fabulous ebook or just other myths that are just common missteps and mistakes that you see people make when they’re trying to optimize their website for search?
There are so many. I actually covered 72 in that ebook. I won’t go through those.
Give us the greatest hits.
Often, folks will put content in the wrong places, thinking this is good for SEO, and it shoots them in the foot.
I’ll just randomly pick some that come to mind. A lot of times, folks will put content in the wrong places thinking that this is good for SEO, and it actually shoots them in the foot. For example, they’ll put stuff on a third-party site where they get no link equity from it at all. It’s like, oh, this is a piece of content I’m really proud of. Rather than posting to my blog, I’m going to post it to an (insert-in-the-blank) famous website or whatever. It used to be that the Huffington Post was a popular platform for folks, but now, they do away with all third-party contributors from HuffPost.
I used to contribute to them too, but you have to recognize that many of these third-party sites are not following their external links, meaning that you don’t get any juice if you have a link in the article or your byline, no juice for you. Have you ever seen Seinfeld? Or they will put it on a site where they haven’t done their due diligence and figured out that it has low metrics for authority, trust, and importance and they haven’t pulled up a tool like Majestic, Link Research Tools, or Ahrefs to discover the domain rating (DR), trust flow, citation flow, and these sorts of metrics that will give you a sense of, is this even a good site—from an SEO perspective—for me to put it on? Is it much higher authority than my own site?
A lot of times, you’re better off posting something to your own site and building up the reputation of your site because that’s something that you get to take with you forever and ever. You can get the rug pulled out from under you by sites like Huffington Post, where they’re like, okay, we’re not taking outside contributors anymore.
Forbes went from followed links to all no-followed links externally. You might have gotten some link juice that way, and all that got cut off at the knees sort of thing. You have to be cognizant of these issues. You have great content, but you can’t just assume that it will do wonders for you. Great content on its own is only half the equation. The other half is where do you place it, and how do you leverage it?
I know that back in the day—and I apologize for being out-of-date with some of this terminology—at the big picture macro level, people say, well, there are two things that you have some influence over. There’s on-site SEO, and there’s off-site or on-page and off-page. Even when people do a good job on their website, put things in the right place, do it in the right way without being spammy or weird, really help Google, follow the rules, and help their ultimate visitors find things of relevance and value, the whole off-page thing is a mystery. Would you say that’s another big missing piece people just totally ignore, or they’re oblivious to all the other off-page factors being found online?
The off-page factors are very misunderstood and not addressed. The worst thing you can do is address it in a spammy or engineered way that looks unnatural to Google. If you leave things alone and links happen naturally because you have great content, you’re out there in the world adding value, your conference is speaking, and so forth, you’ll get links.
But if you’re creating engineered, unnatural links by buying links or doing backroom deals and stuff that Google’s able to figure out and then you end up with a penalty, that’s very hard to get out of either manual or algorithmic, so you want to be completely above board that makes you much more future-proof against further algorithm updates where they try and just wipe out all the spammers, unnatural linking patterns, and everything.
Be clean, white hats, if you are going to try and outreach for links, which is a good strategy if you do it well and you’re completely above board because creating great content and just letting it sit out there isn’t going to fill the dreams where you build it, and they will come. That doesn’t happen online.
If you do outreach in the right way, you add value first, and then it will be a give and get.
If you outreach in the right way, you add value first, and then it will be a give and get. It’s what can I do to collaborate and to add value to your audience and onto your mission versus hey, I’ve got a great piece of content that I would like you to post to your site, get your followers, readers, and visitors to come over to my site, and also send some link juice my way.
It’s all about you then. You’re not really thinking about them. I get all these offers for free content constantly via email. My team deletes all of them. I don’t even read my inbox. It’s so icky. Don’t be icky like that.
Don’t be icky. There’s a new hashtag. I like that. Don’t be icky.
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The other question, Stephan, is that people think, okay, SEO is all about my website. Are they overlooking other things they might want their customers or prospects to find? Things like their podcast. You have two fantastic podcasts, Get Yourself Optimized podcast and the Marketing Speak podcast. Do we do any work to get our podcasts found? Do we do any work to get our YouTube videos found? Do we do any work to get our SlideShare slide decks found? What other things would be good to optimize?
All of it, of course. You don’t just set it and forget it like, oh, I posted a YouTube video, and I’m done. In fact, if you do that, you’ve destroyed your chances for that video to really spread because the first (say) 24 hours is a critical period. If you show some momentum to the YouTube algorithms, then it’s going to be part of the recommendation engine, and it’s going to be shared with other YouTube users.
You really have to think that through before you hit publish, go live, or whatever. You need to think about this strategically indeed. If you want to go live, there are different implications for which platform you use, whether it’s YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or whatever. There’s a lot of thought that needs to go into this. It needs to be looked at strategically.
Whatever sorts of content repackaging and repurposing you do, it’s got to be done strategically, or you’re just making a lot of noise.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book, The Art of War. There’s a great quote in there I love. “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Amen. For sure.
There’s a lot of tactical stuff you can do with your SlideShare decks, YouTube videos, and live streams. If you do infographics, viral videos, or Whatever sorts of content repackaging and repurposing that you do, it’s got to be done strategically, or you’re just making a lot of noise, you’re out on the battlefield firing off fireworks, and you’re just going to get slaughtered.
I’m imagining that you could do a whole episode on each of these topics—how to optimize your YouTube channel, how to optimize your podcast, and how to do this. I’m imagining that when people go to your website, check out a webinar, get a download, get a checklist, get a cheat sheet, and sign up for stuff, exactly the content that you put out on a regular basis are all of these different methods and media that people should be looking at and should be optimizing.
Yeah, for sure. For example, on YouTube, there’s some strategic stuff and a lot of tactical stuff that I cover in an article I wrote called YouTube SEO 101. I published that on Search Engine Land.
Yes, we’ll link up to all the goodies and all the resources that you want to share that’d be super helpful. Thank you. That’s when people go to thespeakingshow.com and look up the Stephan Spencer episode. That’s when you’re going to get all the goodies and all the links back to Stephan’s world. There’ll be follow links, by the way. We’re not doing this no-follow nonsense around here. We always like to send some fun Google juice to our smart guests, especially if they’re in this business.
Talk a little bit about your clients. I’m seeing all these fantastic client logos on your website from some of the big, large corporations, CNBC, Sony, you name it, pharmaceutical companies, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Bloomberg, all the way into the smaller, entrepreneurial size companies. Do you have a certain niche or a target market that you specialize in?
I like to go across many different niches because you can learn stuff from one niche that you can apply to another.
I specialize in really interesting clients. If they’re trying to solve interesting problems, add value to the world, and are willing to be nimble and go outside their comfort zone, that’s the ideal client for me. I like to go across many different niches because you can learn stuff from one niche that you can apply to another.
It’s very easy for companies to get myopic in their viewpoint. They take all their SEO in-house, and they never look outside of the competition. They don’t think, well, how can I apply some of the best practices that (let’s say) file-sharing and video-sharing types of sites are applying to increase time on site and session lengths? How can I apply that to what I’m doing with my ecommerce site and get more SEO value, more orders, average order value, lifetime value, and so forth?
You can learn a lot across completely different verticals, so I love that. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one box with Stephan, the SEO ecommerce guy, so he’s all about online retail and maximizing that for SEO. Sure, I know a lot about that, but I also work with big publishers.
I work with CNET, Bloomberg Businessweek, CNBC, and digitaltrends.com. These are all examples of big publishers with lots and lots of content, so if you’re a small ecommerce site with only (let’s say) 100 products or something, there’s a lot you could learn from the best practices in terms of SEO that a publisher uses which have been around forever.
Absolutely right. I know you’ve been in the agency business for quite a while, so you may have already answered this question decades ago. I saw Volvo, for example, on your website. When a Volvo comes to any speaker, some (perhaps) less-than-educated or less-than-enlightened buyers might ask you, well, Stephan, how many car companies have you worked with? If the answer is zero, but you have this tremendous expertise—maybe it’s your first car company—what’s the talk track to get them focused on the right question and not so married to that wrong question?
Yeah. They want industry expertise. That’s misguided because they think that the competitors know all the right stuff. Oftentimes, the competitors are not the ones you should be copying or R&D-ing (rip off and duplicate) from.
Let’s say that it’s a car company. Actually, the Volvo division that I worked with is the construction equipment side of things. You probably didn’t even know that you can get things like excavators and stuff from Volvo.
Are they the safest excavators on the market?
I’m sure they are.
They have extra airbags, maybe?It's very easy for companies to get myopic in their SEO viewpoint. They take all their SEO in-house and never look outside the competition. Click To Tweet
That I don’t know. But anyway, if the prospect is asking for industry expertise, I do have hundreds of clients that I’ve worked with over the years because I’ve been in this game for so, so long.
But let’s say I only have one or two examples in their industry, and they’re like, well, here’s a company that we’re talking to that specializes in it. I could pull up—if they’re willing to share with me—the name of that agency they’re talking to, and I can poke holes in their SEO strategy and major screw-ups they’re making just with their own website, and that agency might say, well, in our defense, we never have time for our own website. But in reality, if that’s your main marketing face to the prospect online, it’s your website, and you don’t have the time to even properly SEO it, that’s not a good look.
It’s not about the industry. It’s about the depth of experience and expertise across SEO in the areas of SEO that matter to you.
I can easily poke major holes in the competition just by looking at some different tools, pulling up the HTML code, looking at robots.txt, or looking at redirects they have in place. Oh, look, they have redirect chains of four in a row and this is a company that you’re going to rely on for SEO advice. Probably not a great idea.
It’s not about the industry. It’s about the depth of experience and expertise across SEO in the areas of SEO that matter to you. If you’re not really that interested or focused on local SEO because you’re a big brand, then you don’t need a local SEO expert, and vice versa.
That’s great. It’s really about tailoring the answer to that question based on the information they’re presenting to you, and then having a good, intelligent, authoritative comeback to, well, maybe you want to think about this or think about that. You don’t need this, but you do need that.
Let’s talk a little bit about inside baseball, if you will. You started out in the agency business, but now, you have all these other ways that people can tap into your expertise. There are courses, coaching, and masterminds. How did you build that portfolio of services and offerings? What came first? What came second? How did you add things up?
Let’s say someone listening to this podcast says, man, I could really use Stephan’s expertise in our company. When you have an exploratory conversation with someone, what do you listen for that would indicate, oh, this is a project client versus this a one-on-one client versus this might be a mastermind client? How do you plug people onto that ladder?
Let’s first talk about the ladder of products, services, and programs and how that came to be. Then, I’m also curious about a new prospect coming in over the transom. What’s your admission or placement process to get them into the right type of offering?It's better to post something to your site and build up its reputation because that's something you can take with you forever. Click To Tweet
We’ll start with what the ladder looks like and how I built that. I’ve been doing SEO since the ’90s, as we discussed. One thing that was painful for me was turning away a lot of potential businesses because they couldn’t afford to work with my team and me. The scope didn’t support it. The budget didn’t support it.
Once I sold my agency in 2010, I didn’t want to recreate that all over again, so I decided I wanted to work more hands-on with a small number of clients because when you have an agency and you’re the main thought leader and figurehead, there’s no time for you to get in the weeds with individual clients. I would just hand these new clients over to the team, account manager, analyst, and consultants, and I would say, I’ll see you around, which is very frustrating.
When I sold the agency, I didn’t want to recreate that, so then I can only take on a handful of clients at any given time at that level. There’s just not enough of me to go around. It was at that point that I was really motivated to retool in a way that allowed my IP and my expertise to scale across many more potential clients and smaller businesses as well who couldn’t afford my consulting services.
You could pay me a fair amount of money to do an SEO audit, but you could do a lot on your own if you know the tools to use, reports to run, insights to glean from these different tools, and the actions to take to remedy these situations.
I started playing around with information product marketing, creating online courses, and that sort of thing. My very first course was an SEO audit online course so you could learn how to do your own SEO audit. You could pay me a fair amount of money to do an SEO audit, but you could do a lot on your own if you just know the tools to use, reports to run, insights to glean from these different tools, and then the actions to take to remedy these situations.
I walked through, in a six-module online course, how to do your own SEO audit. Then after that, I decided, all right, I’m going to create some more courses because they didn’t cover things like content marketing, conversion optimization, social media marketing, and so forth and so on. Keyword research is only covered in one module of the DIY SEO audit course, so I created an entire course around keyword research. By the end of it, I had six online courses. That took me a couple of years to get that filled out to six courses, and then I decided, well, I’m going to create a membership site so that people can get an all-you-can-eat buffet of all my online courses, group coaching calls, and so forth, and my membership site was born.
Just to set the context because it’s fantastic, you as a consultant are really premium-priced—as we all should be, hint for folks listening. These courses are also not cheap, correct? What’s the price range of most of the courses?
They’re typically $2000. $4000 would be more for the top-end. $4500 is what the SEO audit courses cost. I do offer some discounted pricing, but it’s for certain venues, webinars, and things like that.
Do you also do the launch model where you proactively launch every couple of months or not really?
No, I don’t do the launch model.
That’s a whole exhausting hamster wheel too.
I want to stay focused on my clients and I speak at a lot of conferences and stuff, so I don’t want to be trying to create scarcity and all that on an ongoing basis. I just want this value to be out there in the world. If a client can’t afford my premium pricing, I also consider value-based pricing. I deliver massive value and great ROI for the investment in working with me directly, but yeah, I’m not for everybody.
Done-for-you consulting is, I think, the ideal, but done-with-you in terms of the coaching arrangement is a really good starting point.
My retainer starts at $15,000 a month. When folks want to work with me one-on-one and they can’t afford that price point, I turn away so many different clients. They don’t necessarily just want to learn SEO on their own from courses. They want to have their hand held through the whole process and have access to my brain, so I decided to start offering coaching. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. That is around $5000 a month price point, but then they have to do all the heavy lifting. I give them a bunch of insights, ideas, strategies, and so forth, we’ll troubleshoot on calls, I’ll pull up all my raft of different tools that I use, find amazing opportunities for them, and then they have to implement those recommendations. If they don’t, there’s no ROI there.
That can be a steppingstone towards consulting because done-for-you consulting is I think the ideal but done-with-you in terms of the coaching arrangement is a really good starting point. They get the ROI from that, and then they have more budget to invest in consulting and can be upscale to that other level.
You bring up a really great point. I talk about this three-level model that we teach it, we coach it, or we do it for you. There’s teaching which is like a seminar-webinar course. There is coaching which is what you said done-for-you. I think the difference is that done-for-you is a guaranteed outcome that you will do the work the right way and it’s a much greater chance of getting the results. Done-for-you depends on your skill and talent. Done-with-you depends on their skill, talent, and willingness to implement.
Are there situations where people might call you, Stephan, and say, listen, let’s do the done-with-you? You ask some more probing questions, and you say, well, given what you’ve shared with me—maybe it’s a very complex, very ambitious goal they have—I’m not here to upsell you, but I will be a better service to you at $15,000 a month than I will at $5000 a month. It’s a pretty clear-cut recommendation on your part.
Yeah, that happens fairly often. In that case, if they can’t afford the $15,000 consulting retainer, then I’ll refer them to my daughter who is also an SEO and trained by me. She’s very skilled. Different price points and different offerings, of course, but then maybe they are a good fit, later on, to work with me directly.
I want successful, referenceable clients, whether they’re coaching, consulting, or just taking my courses.
If they’re not going to get the outcome because they’re not going to implement, I’m not going to take them on as a coaching client. I want successful referenceable clients whether they’re coaching with me, consulting with me, or just taking my courses. I’m very picky in that way.
For sure. We all need to be because we really can’t afford to have unsuccessful clients. You’re either in and I’m going to help you win, or you’re not going to come in.
At the last Traffic & Conversion Summit, there was a great bit of wisdom that Ryan Deiss shared, which was that if you want to get references and referrals, don’t focus on creating happy clients. Focus on creating successful clients. It’s the successful clients who are referring business to you.
You might be a personal trainer and have somebody who’s really happy with you. They haven’t lost any weight and they’re 50 pounds overweight. Nobody’s going to ask them, what’s your secret? But if somebody lost 50 pounds in a 3-month time period, it’s like, holy cow, you look amazing. What’s your secret? They’re not going to say, well, I’m not going to tell you. It’s like, no, it’s my personal trainer. It’s the workout regimen and even more importantly, the diet they put me on and the accountability they give me to stay on that diet, and I’ve lost all this weight. That’s where you get your business. Successful clients are the key.
[What a great episode. Tell you what, if you want to ramp up your revenue as an expert who speaks professionally, you should really check out our free online training at doitmarketing.com/webinar.]
I want to hear about maybe the two ends of your business spectrum before we move off inside Stephan’s brain. You have a membership program which I think is your most affordable way of connecting with you, and you have your mastermind which may be one of the more expensive ways to access you, your tribe, and your personal genius.
Some folks would have a hard time saying, okay, I’ve got this thing. It was super cheap. I’ve got this thing up here. It was super expensive. In both cases, you get me. How do you differentiate? What’s the value prop of the membership? Let’s unpack that for a minute. Then, what’s the value prop of the mastermind on the other end of the spectrum? How do you unpack that?
That’s pretty straightforward really because if you’re part of a membership site, you’re a member who has access to recordings of past calls. You get access to online courses that are in an all-you-can-eat buffet scenario.
Is that included at no additional charge, or are there just simply savings on the courses they choose to buy once they become a member?
Once you’re a member, you get access to all, but the do-it-yourself SEO audit course included. Then, if you want to do the extra course, you have to pay the fee for the course. Let’s say you stop your membership. You immediately stop getting access to all those courses that you were used to getting, so that’s a disincentive to turn off the membership.
I also do these jam sessions where you’ll be able to get questions answered from my team. Those jam session recordings are also on the membership site.Great content on its own is only half the equation. The other half is where you place your content and how you can leverage it. Click To Tweet
There’s a bunch of things. You’re not getting much of any access directly to me though. It doesn’t make financial sense for me to spend much time on my membership site in terms of direct interactions.
Whereas with the mastermind, which is still in process—I’m in the process of creating it—it’s not that dissimilar from many of the other masterminds out there in terms of there’s a certain number of meetings that we’ll have a year, multiple-day events, you’ll get to network with high-level peers, you’re going to get to learn directly from me some ninja stuff, and we’re going to spend a lot of time mapping out implementation roadmap and learning cutting-edge stuff that you’re not going to have access to normally. That’s a high-level program.
There’s a lot of direct in-person interaction that happens and knowledge transfer that you can’t get over virtual means whether it’s a group Zoom call or anything really that’s virtual. It doesn’t compare with an in-person, deep-dive intensive.
Stephan, is there also a different audience for the membership than for the masterminds? Is the mastermind going to be for an SEO manager at Sony or a high-level marketing executive who’s responsible for this area, whereas the membership might be more for a solopreneur who just wants some do-it-yourself support and some insight?
Actually, I’d say the marketing manager at a big brand would probably not even be in the market for a mastermind. They’d probably just want done-for-you. Just be my agency, be my SEO consultant, and create my audits, keyword strategy, link-building strategy, and all the different deliverables that need to be produced. I don’t want to have to worry about any of it. Just take care of it for me, and then help me with the execution and implementation of all that.
Whereas let’s say it’s a business owner who lives and dies off of their website, they want to be cutting edge, and they want to see what’s coming. They’d be a good fit for the mastermind. They’re going to learn from their peers as well as from myself and folks who are a part of a membership site or online course. Those kinds of folks are more the implementation people. They’re either consultants or coaches themselves or they are just getting started with their own business and they want to learn by doing it. They’re probably not going to ascend to the mastermind or to the done-for-you consulting level.
It’s a tough choice to make. Like am I going to focus some of my time on a completely different market that I don’t see an ascension path to but yet I want to make a difference for a lot of people?
Very few people make a lot of money off of writing a book, so it’s maybe minimum wage for most of us who write a book if you do all the math at the effective hourly rate, but why do we do it? Because we want to add value to a much larger audience and even people who couldn’t possibly afford to work with us one-on-one.
Yes, absolutely. Now, I’m imagining that the courses, everything is streaming, and nothing is downloadable.
Yeah, it’s all streamed. Even if somebody could figure out how to download the videos, it’s not a good way to go to try and download this to your computer because you’ve got a snapshot in time. That’s the same problem with a book, the obsolescence factor. With an online course, if you’re not part of a subscription program update, you’re not going to ever see if there are major changes to a Facebook algorithm or whatever. That completely changes module number three and how you implement that. You need the latest information. When those courses get updated, you’re going to want access to all that.
I think the most important thing is probably the community.
Although a community of do-it-yourselfers who are all learning is only of somewhat small value, in my opinion. It’s great to have a community of people. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. If you’re part of a community where they’re all beginners and learning by doing DIYs, you’re probably in the wrong room.
I think that’s the difference between a do-it-yourself type of value prop versus the connect-with-Stephan value prop where they’re less concerned about the other people in the room and it’s more like a hub-and-spoke that they want to stay connected to you. You might be answering a question in a fishbowl-type group setting, but then that just adds value to every single person, not just the person asking the question.
Yeah. If it’s a one-on-one situation or a small group situation, it’s highly curated either way. If you’re a mastermind in mind or you’re doing one-on-one coaching or consulting, it is highly curated. You’re only dealing with people who have been vetted by me and are top-notch.
Exactly. How people can get connected and stay connected to you, but before we get to that, if folks were to take one central idea from our conversation today either about the SEO fantastic content that you shared, about the inside baseball, and how you built the business, what would you hope that one overarching idea would be?
Create content worthy of shares, links,, and potentially spreading virally. It’s got to be link-worthy content, and for that content to find the most appropriate home.
It’s to create content worthy of people sharing and linking to it and spreading virally potentially even. It’s got to be link-worthy content, and for that content to find the most appropriate home. That means potentially on your site and potentially on other people’s sites.
You could even apply what Andy Crestodina calls the evil-twin technique which is to create one version that you publish out there on a third-party site that’s high authority, and then you flip it on its head and you do the opposite of that idea or article headline for your site or blog.
For example, if it’s the 7 Best Practices for SEO in 2019 and you publish it on Search Engine Land or something, you do the evil-twin of that, which is (let’s say) the 7 Biggest SEO Mistakes That Business Owners Make in 2019. All the same research, but you’re not just paraphrasing little bits and pieces here and there. It’s a restructuring and repositioning of that article so that if Search Engine Land sees that you publish your evil-twin version on your blog, they’re not going to feel like you just skirted the rule that they have of not republishing the content you submit on any of your own sites for a period of whatever time period it is.
Exactly. Wow, brilliant, brilliant strategy. Talk to us about how we can get connected and stay connected to Stephan’s world, guides, white papers, emails, downloads, checklists, and cheat sheets. Give us the whole gamut.
All right, stephanspencer.com is the main site to go to. There’s a whole resources area learning center with guides, white papers, webinar replays, videos, all sorts of great stuff, presentations that I’ve spoken at, and conferences. You’d be able to watch those videos, et cetera. That’s all stephanspencer.com.
I also have my two podcasts show websites, marketingspeak.com and getyourseloptimized.com. I actually recently rebranded The Optimized Geek to getyourselfoptimized.com. Those are fantastic resources as well.
Follow me on Twitter, @sspencer is my Twitter handle. Just stephanspencer.com and then YouTube channel, LinkedIn, and all sorts of great tips and resources. I publish a blog post every week as well. Sign up for my newsletter. It’s called Thursday Three. It’s really, really good. I get complimented all the time by people for that newsletter.Don't focus on creating happy clients if you want to get references and referrals. Instead, focus on creating successful clients. They're the ones who are referring business to you. Click To Tweet
Thursday Three. That’s three resources, three tips, and three ideas. What’s in there?
What intrigued me, what concerned me, and what surprised me. It’s something like that. I guarantee you’ll find stuff that’s really interesting, fascinating, and immediately applicable.
I like it. We can do a whole show on this, of course. Even though your information is fantastically in-depth and relevant, information is a commodity. What people are really coming to us for is our insight, opinion, recommendation, slant, and perspective. I love that newsletter format. That is a huge bonus right there. Thank you for sharing that. I’m going to sign up for it right now. We’ll see what you’re concerned about, what you’re surprised by, and what you’re excited by.
Awesome. Thank you.
That’s great. Stephan, thank you for being on the show. More adventures to come.
All right, thanks very much.
That wraps up another episode of The Speaking Show. Hey, tell you what, if you like us, rate us and review us on iTunes. Subscribe, tell a friend, and go grab the notes, downloads, and extras at thespeakingshow.com. See you next time.
LinkedIn – David Newman
Facebook – Do It! Marketing
LinkedIn – Do It! Marketing
Andy Crestodina – previous episode
Ryan Deiss – previous episode
10 SEO Myths
- SEO is a black art. SEO is not done in a dark room by some rogue SEO consultant without requiring the client’s involvement.
- SEO is a one-time activity you complete and are then done with. SEO is ongoing. Just like one’s website is never “finished,” neither is one’s SEO. The “set it and forget it” misconception is particularly prevalent among IT workers — they tend to treat everything like a project so that they can get through assignments, close the “ticket” and move on, and thus maintain their sanity.
- Automated SEO is black-hat or spammy. There is nothing wrong with or inappropriate in using automation. Indeed, it signals a level of maturity in the marketplace when industrial-strength tools and technologies for large-scale automation are available. Without automation, it would be impossible for the enterprise company to scale their SEO efforts across the mass of content they have published on the Web.
- Using a service that promises to register your site with “hundreds of search engines” is good for your site’s rankings.
- The number of top 30 rankings for your site is a good metric for success. Once you start talking about rankings at the bottom of page 2 or worse, it’s largely irrelevant. How often have you seen traffic significant to a page based on its ranking #26? Does that mean it’s folly to track rankings beyond the top 10? Not at all. It’s useful for tracking progress on efforts expended on a poor campaign.
- Spending lots of money on paid search helps your organic rankings. Maybe this one is too old and hoary to include here, but people still ask it. I still hear that all the time. Sometimes I wish it was that easy but no. The two are unconnected.
- It’s either SEO or PPC. Nope, both have their place, and both have strengths and weaknesses.
- SEO should be owned and managed by IT. While SEO implementation has its roots in most companies’ web development and IT departments, it’s a marketing discipline more than a web development discipline. Accountability for effective SEO might be multi-departmental in theory. Still, the reality is that most organizations budget, staff, and manage SEO programs as part of customer acquisition, i.e., marketing and sales. Do not let IT lead your SEO programs. IT is the wingman for Marketing when it comes to SEO.
- SEO is a subset of Social Media. There are plenty of intersections between SEO and social media, but SEO is no more a subset of social media marketing than public relations, customer service or media relations. Effective SEO can boost social network growth, and social media can facilitate link building.
- SEO is a standalone activity. Many facets of web design, hosting, and so on can impact your organic results more or less. People tend to think that SEO sits in a silo, and other things can go on around it without influencing the work required to increase rankings.
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