Welcome to episode 012 of The Blogger Genius Podcast. My guest is David Christopher, Director of Marketing and Growth at Tailwind, and an SEO and digital marketing expert.
David and I talk in depth about what bloggers need to know to win at SEO, and how there is serious traffic to be had on Google, if you just understand certain SEO strategies.
If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this episode, it is that you don’t need to be technical or geeky to do SEO well, and it doesn’t even take a lot of time.
In this episode, we discuss what exactly Google is looking for, and how easy it is to give Google exactly what it wants. This episode is filled with quick, actionable steps you can take today to get free traffic to your site.
Some of these links may be affiliate.
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Intro: [00:00:02] Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian: [00:00:10] Hello, everybody. Welcome to the show. Today, my guest is David Christopher. David is the co-founder of Big Wing Interactive, which is a digital marketing agency. It is on the most recommended list of SEO companies and currently, he’s the Director of Marketing and Growth at Tailwind.
Jillian: [00:00:32] For those of you who don’t know, Tailwind is a… well, actually, here, David, why don’t you share what Tailwind is because we use it, and we would be nowhere without it? So welcome.
David: [00:00:44] Hi. Yes, so Tailwiind is a Pinterest and Instagram scheduling and analytics platform. Our mission is to make world class marketing easy for everyone.
Jillian: [00:00:55] So we use Tailwind everyday to schedule all of our pins, to watch our growth, to be strategic, and we’ve been using Tailwind for years now.
Jillian: [00:01:08] Anyway, David, we met about a week ago at Social Media Marketing World, and it’s a very big conference in San Diego. David, you were my first friend. I was there. I was overwhelmed, and I met you and you were like this breath of fresh air.
David: [00:01:28] So I’m a one-in-4000 kind of guy.
Jillian: [00:01:32] Yes, you are. So the reason why I invited you on the show today is to talk about SEO, which means search engine optimization. Which is how you put content out, Google finds that content, and then Google serves it up to people who are searching.
Jillian: [00:01:53] For bloggers, I would say, SEO, it just seems so abstract and difficult. Google seems like this black box. I want us to really dig in on how as a blogger, who might not be very technical, how you as a blogger should start to think about SEO.
David: [00:02:17] Yes, I think that’s a great topic, Jillian. I’m excited to talk about it. A lot of what I’ve been doing over the last many years is trying to make that specific topic more and more simple, both for myself so that I can do better at it, and for other people whom I work with.
David: [00:02:36] Having to run an SEO team and a team of content marketers and tried to sort of bridge that gap. I’ve put a lot of energy and thought into this, so I’m excited to kind of boil it down.
Jillian: [00:02:49] Great. Somehow, SEO does not seem anywhere near as sexy as posting on Instagram.
David: [00:02:55] No, it’s not. It doesn’t, does it?
Jillian: [00:02:59] And I know a lot of bloggers who therefore go, “I’m not going to dig in there. I’m just going to work on my Instagram.”
David: [00:03:05] Yeah. And unfortunately, the truth is that there is a ton of traffic to be gotten from Google. There’s a ton of traffic, and it’s extremely motivated traffic as well, because this is traffic that has a specific question, but it’s turned to Google to get the answer to that question.
David: [00:03:36] Google has crawled the web and it says, “Well, here are the 10 best answers to your question that exist on the web.” And of course, if you’re the first best answer to that question on the whole world wide web, then tons of traffic is going to come your way.
David: [00:03:55] That traffic has already basically been validated that your article is awesome. So it’s really a fantastic source of traffic. Those who are using it for traffic and getting traffic from it know that. What I’d like to kind of talk about is where does that start.
David: [00:04:16] How do you find your way into SEO into Google traffic? The way that I find my way in is… I think of Google, I think of those people who are approaching Google. What are they asking, the questions that they’re asking that I can answer. It’s as simple as that, really.
David: [00:04:39] And there are a few different ways to kind of come across an answer to that question. The first is by instinct. If you don’t even want to touch a tool, you can do good SEO without doing any research or anything like that, just through really thinking about the kinds of questions that you hear people ask in your space.
David: [00:05:06] It can really be as simple as that. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of people ask, for example, how much traffic Pinterest can send me because in Facebook, traffic is going down because they are limiting the reach of businesses.
David: [00:05:23] So people are turning to other networks. Pinterest is one of the networks that is known for sending traffic. I know that people are asking the question, “Do I really need to do keyword research to validate that?” Not necessarily. I can just say, “I believe that that’s what people are searching for.”
David: [00:05:45] The next question is, “How are they searching for it? What words are they using?” And the answer to that is, “What was it that they used when they asked you about that question? When you’ve heard that question posed, how do real people talk about this?”
Jillian: [00:06:00] Okay, so let’s say I am a food blogger. Let’s say I am a niched food blogger. Let’s say I am a vegan food blogger. So what I do is I sit in my kitchen, and I come up with cool vegan recipes.
David: [00:06:17] Yes, so you’re sitting in your kitchen, you’re coming up with cool vegan recipes, you’re thinking specifically about vegan food, and you’re thinking about the kinds of things that people would be interested in.
David: [00:06:32] It might be vegan chocolate desserts. It might be vegan bread and vegan this and that. All the different kinds of things that you know are popular and the words that people use for them.
David: [00:06:48] When you’re thinking about your vegan chocolate cake, you’ve been calling it a vegan Chocy Puff Puff. Kids love that, right?
Jillian: [00:06:59] Is that a British thing?
David: [00:07:01] It’s not. I just made that up but it sounds frou frou.
Jillian: [00:07:05] It sounds fun.
David: [00:07:07] Yes. So the Chocy Puff Puff, the vegan Chocy Puff Puff, when it comes time to write your recipe up and name it, you’re not necessarily going to want to call it the vegan Chocy Puff Puff everywhere because people won’t be searching for that.
David: [00:07:27] Because you made that up until such times as this thing really takes off, and everybody is talking about the vegan Chocy Puff Puff.
David: [00:07:36] When it comes to search, SEO, for Pinterest too because Pinterest is a search engine in many ways, you’re going to want to use the words that people use. You look at your vegan Chocy Puff Puff, and you think, “How would somebody describe this?” If the answer is, “It’s a vegan chocolate cake”, then you have to use those words for both the naming, the title of your recipe and throughout your recipe.
David: [00:08:10] One way in it is, “I want to make my vegan Chocy Puff Puff. I want to put that out there.” That’s one way, but the other way in is, “What are people really looking for right now? What are they really interested in?”
David: [00:08:29] That way, you start with what’s called keyword research. I already talked to you about instinct but there are other very simple ways to give you a little bit more of a leg up.
Jillian: [00:08:40] Could you just very briefly describe what a keyword is?
David: [00:08:46] Okay. Yes, thank you, Jillian. Keep bringing me back to this. I like that. Okay, so a keyword is simply a word that you have identified as being key to some kind of search intent.
David: [00:09:04] So somebody is searching for a thing. Let’s say that your title for your recipe now is vegan chocolate cake. Well, I forgot what it was – chocy puff puff, delicious Chocy Puff Puff. Now, your keywords here are vegan chocolate cake because those are the ones that people are going to search when they’re looking for vegan chocolate cakes.
David: [00:09:34] Your Chocy Puff Puff, that’s more of sort of a branded term. Those aren’t really keywords because nobody else will ever use them.
Jillian: [00:09:45] Got it.
David: [00:09:45] So keywords really are words that have search intent behind them.
Jillian: [00:09:53] Got it.
David: [00:09:54] So we’ve figured out some topics based on instinct, what we think people looking for. Another great way in to finding new ideas for keywords in different plays on things is with a tool called Google Auto-Suggest.
David: [00:10:13] All that is is you load up google.com, and you start typing the words that you think people are interested in. If I was to load up google.com and start typing, if I was to start, let’s try it. I’m going to load up google.com right now. I’m going to start typing vegan.
David: [00:10:42] What it’s showing me is a bunch of searches that people have done. It actually orders them based on how popular those searches are. So the first thing it’s showing me is vegan recipes.
David: [00:10:53] It says vegan diet, vegan cheese, vegan pancakes, vegan food near me, vegan breakfast, etc. This is rudimentary keyword research. It couldn’t be easier. All I did was started typing a word and Google’s telling me, “Here are other things that people commonly search when they search for this.”
Jillian: [00:11:14] So just based on that, this is the way that I think about it, I would immediately get in my kitchen and start making vegan pancakes. Do you think that’s a good idea, or do you feel like vegan pancakes, because it is one of the first options or suggestions, that it is such a crowded space, that I shouldn’t even try to make vegan pancakes and try to rank for that in Google?
David: [00:11:42] Yes. So a part of this will depend on how strong you think you are as a content creator, and how strong you think your website is compared to other people’s in this space.
David: [00:11:55] Now, I wouldn’t worry too much about that second one, how strong you think your website is. Because ultimately, if you can do the first one right, be the best content creator out there, then Google will, in time, respect your website and send you traffic.
David: [00:12:14] The answer to that for me is you Google the thing that you’re thinking about creating. Now, we’ve decided “Alright, we were going to do a chocolate recipe but vegan pancakes sounds really interesting. It’s saying that there’s tons of traffic for this so we’re going to Google vegan pancakes.”
David: [00:12:40] We’re going to look at the results. What we see is a five minute vegan pancake recipe, All Recipes vegan pancake recipe, light and fluffy vegan pancakes, how to make easy vegan pancakes without eggs and milk, and whole grain vegan pancakes. Those are the top five results.
David: [00:13:08] That’s what I would tell you to do. Look at the top five results because most of the traffic will go there. In fact, around about 20 percent of the traffic for that keyword search will go to the first results.
David: [00:13:24] Each one down will get about half as much traffic as you go down that page. Those top five are where you really have to be if you want to get a good amount of traffic. I described each of those titles for each of the pieces, and did you notice how each one was slightly different? They each had something going for it, didn’t it?
Jillian: [00:13:43] Yes.
David: [00:13:43] One was a five-minute, sounds nice and easy. One was light and fluffy. One was how to make easy ones without eggs and milk, specific about not being with eggs and milk. The other one was whole grain.
David: [00:13:56] They’ve all got something going on. The question that you would then have for yourself is – It’s like any marketing question really – “How am I different? How’s my content different? How’s it going to stand out here?
David: [00:14:10] Can I make something that really does stand out that nobody else has done here, but I know that people who are looking for vegan pancakes are really going to love.
Jillian: [00:14:19] So would you say that words like easy, five-minute, those kinds of things, are part of your keywords like when you’re coming up with what your vegan pancake recipe will be, that you should really be thinking about, that even the word easy can be beneficial?
David: [00:14:42] Yeah. So I would differentiate them from keywords because they likely won’t have a ton of search intent. People might be searching for easy vegan pancake recipes, and if you believe that to be the case, then easy is then one of your keywords.
David: [00:15:01] You are deliberately going to try and rank for easy vegan pancake recipes. If that’s not the case, and really just going for a vegan pancake recipes, then the easy part or the whole grain part is more about positioning.
David: [00:15:19] It’s more about saying, “This is what I think people will be excited to click on when they see this list of recipes.” We often see that with things like the ultimate guide to -.
Jillian: [00:15:29] Yes, best, top, those kinds of things, I never know whether I should be using those words in my titles.
David: [00:15:38] Well the answer to that is – I’m going to now explain how Google decides where to rank your piece of content. Okay, so let’s say we’ve actually finished our recipe.
David: [00:15:56] We’ve typed it up on the blog. We’ve done the very basics of SEO which I can’t like neglect. I’m going to say them now and they are use the keywords in the title of the post. That’s essential. If you don’t do that, you won’t rank.
David: [00:16:14] It’s as simple as that. The second one is you use your keywords throughout your post. Simple as that.
Jillian: [00:16:23] Now, here’s one question which is, it used to be that you would want to repeat the exact keywords like five times in the post and then I’ve read that Google’s smarter than that and then ultimately you can mix it up a little bit.
Jillian: [00:16:37] Let’s say it’s easy vegan pancakes that you might say these vegan pancakes are the easiest. You don’t have to say easy vegan pancakes five times in your post.
David: [00:16:51] Yeah. I would say that yes, the truth now is that Google’s very smart at telling what your post is about. The most important thing that you can do is to actually write a post that is about that thing.
David: [00:17:09] If your post really is a recipe for easy vegan pancakes, then it will be very difficult for you to write that recipe for easy vegan pancakes without the word easy, vegan and pancakes.
David: [00:17:23] You don’t have to worry too much about using your keywords. When you’ve finished your post, you might just want to check over it and make sure that you are using those words. It should be very organic, and the biggest thing that Google’s looking for is that yes, the words are there but that’s ultimately not what’s most important.
David: [00:17:46] What’s going to be much more important is how people respond to your post. I’m going to get into that in a minute. You use those keywords, and I just boil it down to call a spade a spade. It’s as simple as that.
David: [00:18:03] Just write your post. It’s about what it’s about. Just write it. And when you’re finished, just look over it and just say “Is it clear that this is what this is about, and we’re using the words? I am? Okay, that’s good enough.”
David: [00:00:00] Don’t worry about any formulas for how many times you should use this word and that word and getting the exact phrase match and things like that. Don’t worry too much about that. That’s not what’s going to really determine whether or not your recipe ultimately or your piece of content is in ranks.
David: [00:18:38] What’s going to decide it ultimately is how people respond to it. This is how Google has really changed in the last few years. Now, what they’ll do when you launch a piece of content is they will shuffle it around in the rankings. They’ll sort of show it briefly on the first page, and they’ll see how people respond to it when they click through it.
David: [00:19:03] And here’s what they’re looking for. The two basic things that they’re looking for is the click through rate. When your post is in a search result, do people click on it? Do they think it’s a good answer, that it sounds like a good answer which is a big part of why we spend that time thinking about what’s the best position for our piece of content in amongst these other pieces of content that we know already do well?
David: [00:19:37] Now if you don’t have that, if yours is the fifth easy vegan pancake recipe in the list of easy vegan pancake recipes, then you are not going to have anything compelling enough to kind of shoot you up the list. You just can be another one of all of those. But now, let’s think about that same list of five easy vegan recipes. What if one of them was a one minute vegan recipe? That’s different. That’s really easy.
David: [00:20:08] What if one of them was a waffle pancake? It’s an easy waffle pancake recipe. How are you differentiating? How are you going to be the one that they click on? Because what Google does is it knows the average click through rate of all the different positions. Let’s say it’s put you on position 2 but it’s observing that you’re getting more clicks than the guy who’s in position 1. Well, you need to be in position 1, and so it moves you to position 1.
Jillian: [00:20:44] Wow. So it is constantly testing out your content.
David: [00:20:51] That’s right. It’s constantly shuffling its search results to see if there’s a better result, basically, all of them in the order of how well people respond. The second part of this that I definitely want to talk about as it relates to exactly what I’m kind of talking about right now, is how people interact with your content, right?
David: [00:21:12] So one of them is click through rate. That’s whether they click on your content when they see it in a search result. The other one is dwell time. Google knows when somebody click through to your content. They know when they click back out to the search result. They obviously own their own property so they can see it.
David: [00:21:35] If someone comes over to your recipe, comes back, goes and looks at a different recipe and stays there longer, that’s a good sign that that other recipe actually was the better answer for them. The sort of flipside to that is if they could go over to your piece of content and they spend a long time there before either coming back or coming back and doing a different search, then that suggests that your content was really good.
David: [00:22:05] The other thing that Google knows is how long people spend on your content. Do they take a long time reading it? That’s also a big one. And if they do it, if people spend twice as long reading your content as the other results on the page, then Google will favor with your content, and you’ll find it raised or rising up in the rankings.
David: [00:22:30] Now, one thing that we do to help with that is videos. If you have videos on the page, it tends to increase the amount of time people spend on your content but also just creating really definitive answers, really great pieces of content and also pieces of content that have related pieces of content that you can go on and keep kind of exploring out on your website or elsewhere.
Jillian: [00:22:57] And I was just reading an article about this. I forgot the term but it’s this idea that if you are answering the vegan pancake question and you have this great vegan pancake recipe but then you had done a vegan crepe recipe, that within your vegan pancake recipe, maybe at the bottom, you say, “Hey, if you did this easy vegan pancake recipe, check out my vegan crepe recipe.”
Jillian: [00:23:26] And the idea is to continue to answer the question or to continue to peek the interest of the reader with more relevant content.
David: [00:23:35] Yeah. I think it’s an excellent idea both in terms of recycling traffic that you already have. So you’ve gotten traffic and now, you’re going to get additional page views from that traffic and build additional loyalty from that person.
David: [00:23:48] Perhaps they’ll pin that and that other recipe as well, but also in terms of that’s a person who’s not going back to Google. They’re staying on your website so it’s a sign to Google that this is a good website, that people like it there.
Jillian: [00:24:02] Isn’t the word authority, that Google sees you’re having authority in that area?
David: [00:24:13] Originally, there is this stool you might think of. Originally, it had one leg. It wasn’t very stable. That leg was relevance . Google would look at your website, and it would say, “What does this website tell us it is?” and we’ll rank it accordingly.
David: [00:24:32] Obviously, that’s open to spam. Anybody can say anything is anything, and it’s not really that. So they made another leg, and it’s authority. Authority is: “What do other websites say about my website? Who is linking to me, and what do they know?”
David: [00:24:49] If I’m a vegan blogger or a dozen other vegan bloggers linked to my recipes, then that tells Google that I’m respected within the world of vegan bloggers. That’s important still today, the authority of your website, and you’ll discover that Google respects you for certain topics.
David: [00:25:08] If you are a vegan food blogger and then you try to write about a lesson plan for a mathematics course, you’ll find that you’ll struggle a lot more to rank for that because Google looks at your website and says “What do you know about mathematics?” It doesn’t respect you yet for that until you’ve got authority there.
David: [00:25:34] So authority is an important part of it as well. The challenge with authority is that it’s very difficult to sort of fake or get a leg up beyond because it’s based on links, and links are difficult to get.
David: [00:25:56] Often, the best way ultimately to get links is to be notable and to do great work because once you’ve got that vegan pancake recipe up the top five vegan pancake recipes on Google, you are going to be getting thousands of people looking at it.
David: [00:26:16] They’re going to be searching. They’re going to be sharing it on social. They may be linking to it from their own blogs when they start to write about other recipes. What we find over time is that the stuff that ranks, attracts links and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. And so a rising tide lifts all boats, and your blogs suddenly becomes respectable by Google, and you find everything starts ranking.
Jillian: [00:26:43] Now, here is a question. I talked to a lot of bloggers, and one strategy bloggers are using is coming together, working within their niche, befriending their competitors, that kind of thing, and then doing this thing where they are sharing links.
Jillian: [00:27:03] So let’s say you and I are both vegan recipe developers, bloggers, and I have a pancake recipe. You’ve got the chocolate cake recipe. Let’s say somehow, I say, “Well, you can turn my pancakes into chocolate pancakes. In fact, you may even want to check out this chocolate vegan recipe on this other site, on your side. I put a link to it and then you put a link to my site on your blog.”
Jillian: [00:27:33] Do you think that is a good strategy, especially if I know that your link is high quality? I like your recipes. You like my recipes. Should we start working together?
David: [00:27:42] Yes. That’s sort of the very best way to go about it. That’s very organic. That’s two people who know each other, who respect each other’s content, sharing their audience with each other. That’s exactly what Google is looking for when it looks for authority. It wants to know that you have relationships with other bloggers and that you respect this specific recipe of theirs enough to send your readers over there. So that is absolutely a great way to build authority.
Jillian: [00:28:17] So as a blogger, you can be very intentional if you have a group of friends who are doing what you’re doing, that you guys can work together to help each other with search.
David: [00:28:28] Yeah. You can absolutely. You can even get to the level of sophistication where you’re aware of all the things you would like to rank for. You’re aware of where you rank for all various different things. You are reaching out to your friends to say, “Hey, I have this great vegan pancake recipe. It’s stuck at number 11 at the moment. I just need a couple of links. And I think it’ll be in the top five. And from there, it’s the best. It will rise up like a good cake.”
David: [00:29:11] You can even get that deliberate where you’re cherry picking the things that you want people to link to and then can using those relationships in that way.
Jillian: [00:29:22] Let’s say we have a post that I think is terrific. On our site, for example, we have a unicorn Easter bunny printables. They’re super cute, original and I want a rank for them. So I would go into Google, and I would search for Easter Bunny unicorn printable, see where I organically am coming up. It’s just like search for it and see if I am on the third page or the first page.
David: [00:29:55] The thing is I would go incognito before you search for it. Google is aware of your search history. I know, Jillian, that you really like the Catch My Party website. So it’s going to say, “Oh, well. Catch My Party has a piece about this, so Jillian is going to like so I’ll show her that one first.”
Jillian: [00:30:14] That’s good.
David: [00:30:15] So you want to go incognito to get a more realistic view of what other people will see.
Jillian: [00:30:21] Okay, so let’s just go back for a second. An incognito window is a window that has no cookies, no history. Google does not know who I am. If you don’t know how to open an incognito window Google it with your browser. I use Chrome so I know how to open an incognito window in Chrome. If you use Safari, just Google it. It’s very easy to figure out.
David: [00:30:50] That’s right. Yes. Yeah, exactly. But you’re right. Search for the thing that you’re interested in ranking for. Look at where you currently rank, and look at the competition.
David: [00:31:03] Ideally, you’ve done all that before you even wrote the piece of content because you were aware that there’s a bunch of pieces of content out there that are about one aspect of this, but they all neglect this important aspect that you could put in your post and therefore, make it more appealing in those search results.
Jillian: [00:31:25] So we’ve got the Easter Bunny but then we add the unicorn to it. And all of a sudden, wow, okay.
David: [00:31:33] There’s the little element of magic.
Jillian: [00:31:35] Yes. Okay. So then I see this post and let’s say after we get off the call, I’m going to go look but it’s on page three. I would like to get it up to page one. So then I would reach out to some of my friends and say, “Hey, I’ve got this post. Do you think you could add a link to your blog somewhere, and I will then add a link to whatever you want on my blog. I’ll find a relevant piece of content, and I will then attach, add it organically within the post someplace else on my blog.”
David: [00:32:11] Yeah. A challenge there that you’ll come across is where will they link to this from that will make sense for people. If you want to try to broker that kind of relationship, it often pays to have figured that out for them.
David: [00:32:29] I noticed that you wrote about a unicorn party recently, and I have this cool thing about Easter and unicorns. And so I think this will be a great piece of content for you to link to whereas if you approach your chartered accountant blogger who has a finance blog, there are going to be like, “I mean that sounds great but I really don’t understand how I can make that happen for you.”
David: [00:33:01] The ultimate answer to how to make that happen for yourself is guest blogging which a lot of people use. Essentially, you say, “I’d like to come onto your blog to write a post for your blog.” And this kind of usually an understanding there that in that post, there will be a couple of links to your content. It will be a post that will in some ways explain to their audience who you are and what you do.
David: [00:33:31] So if you were to approach your finance blogger friend with a post about how to throw cheap parties that won’t break the bank of any family, that might make sense to them. In that post, you can mention your really affordable Easter party since that’s coming up, and you can mention maybe a couple of other things that need a little bit of little love.
Jillian: [00:34:04] As a strategy though, is it more powerful for those links to show up and say up another party blogger’s blog or my accountant’s blog? Does that matter?
David: [00:34:14] Party blogger’s blog if possible. The reason behind that being that Google is aware of what your friend’s blog is about. It will send more authority to you for party related topics if it’s a link from a party related website. However, all links are good.
David: [00:34:41] Another thing you should know about them is that there are diminishing returns for links from the same domain. So what does that mean? What that means is if you had the option of getting 100 links from one domain from one of your friend’s blogs or 100 links from ten different friend’s blogs, you should definitely go for the ten different friends because each time Google says, “Well, clearly, I already know that this website likes you. I care less about this second and third and fourth and fifth link than I did about the previous one.”
Jillian: [00:35:18] Right. Now, here’s a question: Does it help? Let’s say I link to your blog. Does that help me at all? Let’s say I happen to link to your blog, and it’s not quid pro quo. Does that at all affect me or am I only sharing the love with you?
David: [00:35:37] Yeah, you’re sharing your traffic as well and you should be aware of that. A certain number of people will click through that link and may never come back.
David: [00:35:47] But other than that, it doesn’t affect you to the detriment at all unless of course, you’re helping your competitors to outrank you for things that you’re trying to rank for. For example, a very bad strategy is to Google the thing you want to rank, read the top 5 articles and be like, “Well, these are all brilliant. I’m going to link to all of them and then send lots of authority to all the things you’re trying to beat.”
David: [00:36:16] That’s probably not a smart way to go about it, but in general, there’s no real downside to linking to somebody else. I want to just mention one more way to kind of grow authority that it’s in many ways the most powerful and the best.
David: [00:36:34] That is to create unique pieces of content that are uniquely useful to people so much so that they can’t help but reference them. So for example, we created a piece of content. We noticed that there was a really good answer out there for how often to post to Instagram, so I used our member data to answer that question.
David: [00:37:01] We discovered that you get more likes, you get more followers, etc., if the more often you post. You need to post at least once a day to Instagram to really grow effectively. We had all this great data. It’s a great post and so it started to rank well.
David: [00:37:23] Then because everybody would google that, looking for statistics about it, looking for hard evidence and there wasn’t really hardly any, and ours was the best piece for that, we started to get a lot of links. For that one piece of content on the Tailwind blog, I’ve never reached out to anybody to get them to link to it but we have links from Buffer and from entrepreneur.com, HootSuite, Ink.com.
David: [00:37:46] We have all these great links just because it’s the right piece of content that lots of people need to reference for other pieces of content they’re writing.
Jillian: [00:38:01] So if you can answer a question that nobody else can answer or nobody’s thinking to answer, that is a sweet spot to be.
David: [00:38:10] Yeah, or just answer it in a better way. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a question that requires data. It can be all sorts of different things. But yes, that is a very solid way to build authority.
Jillian: [00:38:25] I love that. So can we talk about tools? Can we just circle back to Yoast for example which is something that many bloggers use. It’s Y-O-A-S-T.
David: [00:38:36] Right. Yes. So WordPress is built today in such a way that your website will be search friendly. In the old days, this was not necessarily true. The title of your blog post would be your URL and your H1 and you’re all of this technical stuff.
David: [00:39:02] But today, it more or less is a should, and Yoast will kind of give you a little bit more control and a little bit more assurance that that is taken care of for you on your WordPress blog.
David: [00:39:15] We use it, and it gives you a little bit more flexibility as well. There are some different things you can do but it’s not the answer to how you do great SEO.
David: [00:39:26] The answer to how you do great SEO and rank well is that you’re writing about the things people are interested in or yours is the best piece of content out there so Google can’t help but rank you at the top because it wants to send people to the best. Those are the two main things.
Jillian: [00:39:44] So Yoast is like guard rails but the real thinking is before you even write the post.
David: [00:39:54] Yeah. Yeah.
Jillian: [00:39:56] Yoast will keep you within the parameters of like, “Yes, all the keywords are there.” But it’s really you being that person stepping back and saying, “What are people searching for? What kind of content should I be creating?”
Jillian: [00:40:12] And this is, I think, a really good thing to highlight which is if you are a vegan food blogger, yes, you should be blogging about those things that are really interesting to you. You love chia seeds and so you’re going to blog about that but also to step back and go, “Okay but I have a community of people. What are they interested in?” It’s a combination between what I’m interested in and what they’re interested in.
David: [00:40:44] Exactly. Yes.
Jillian: [00:40:45] Because otherwise you’re just blogging in a vacuum.
David: [00:40:49] Yeah. That’s exactly right. Yeah, and ultimately, kind of where we are now is that SEO is informing our strategy in a big way.
Jillian: [00:41:04] What do you mean by that?
David: [00:41:05] What I mean by that is that we have a very good understanding of all of the things that people are looking for in our space. We often write to fit those needs. We also sometimes write because we think people should know about this or this new thing happened. It’s not all about the search traffic but the search traffic tells you what people are interested in. I mean, you would be crazy not to pay attention to that.
Jillian: [00:41:41] What tools? I know that there are some expensive tools. One is SEMRush which has been recommended to me by you and others but that is a really expensive tool. I think it’s like $99 a month. But are there cheaper ways to 80-20 this, to get at the stuff that’s really going to help you?
David: [00:42:04] Yeah. So I mentioned Google auto-suggest and of course, Pinterest also has an auto-suggest tool where you start typing keywords in, and it will suggest other keywords they’re related. So those two are very simple and very free. Google Keyword Planner is another tool which is essentially free although you need to have an active campaign, an active Google Adwords campaign, which basically means creating one and pausing it.
David: [00:42:34] You’re actually using Keyword Planner Tool. It used to be free. That’s not great but there it is. It’s a bit of a bare back tool but essentially, what you do is you type in a keyword and Google will say, “Here are a bunch of keywords that we think are similar to this keyword and how much traffic they get every month.”
David: [00:42:59] So it’s best in my opinion for what your idea is but you’re not quite sure which way to go with it. So I know that this is a vegan pancake recipe. But should I go for vegan waffles recipe or vegan pancake recipe because I think both are good and really this could be either? Which has more traffic? Google Keyword planner will tell you, “Well, the pancake recipe one has a thousand searches a month and the waffles have 50 searches a month.” So you should do the pancakes.
Jillian: [00:43:42] Got it. Even though that will be probably more competitive.
David: [00:43:46] Yes that’s right. That’s a decision for you to make. You could maybe look at the waffles, and nobody’s written about that. You’re sure you could be number one. Get a little bit of traffic. That’s kind of a choice for you.
Jillian: [00:44:02] Oh, wow. Well, I love that you’ve been able to get in the mind of Google, because again, I think that SEO, as a blogger, can feel scary. Here’s a question which you hear about: The algorithms are changing. Has it stayed consistent in terms of how to think about creating content or is it ever-changing kind of like a Facebook algorithm or those kinds of things? Given that you’ve had experience for a while now in SEO, what would you say?
David: [00:44:38] Yeah. So after 10 years of this, there was a time when things were very different. I mentioned that stool. I was building that stool. We got two legs. In the third leg is what I was telling you about how people engage with your content, the click-through rate and the dwell time.
David: [00:44:58] That’s a new leg to this tool that happened probably four years ago now. But since then, it hasn’t really fundamentally changed. Now, it’s dual. It’s there. It’s sturdy. They don’t really need to change it. Today, because they dialed right in on, they managed to dial right in on, what’s the best piece of content or what piece of content are people responding to best? That’s pretty robust.
David: [00:45:34] They don’t really need to change that. That makes it really simple. I actually think that it’s a wonderful time to do SEO. Not if you’re a technical kind of nerdy, trying to hack the system kind of guy, but if you’re, “I want to create something really valuable for people, and I want to do great content.”
David: [00:45:54] It’s a great time because you know that if you can create something really unique and wonderful that people are going to respond to, that if you can get it on that first page, Google will take care of the rest and kind of figure it out and push it up for you.
Jillian: [00:46:13] Oh, sorry. I have one last question which is how quickly do things change? I post my vegan pancake recipe. How quickly would it start to rank? Let’s say I ultimately get it into that number one spot. How long will it stay there?
David: [00:46:35] Great question. Yeah. So how quickly Google becomes aware of your piece of content? It kind of depends on how high profile it is. So if you have a high profile website, Google may come and look at it every day.
David: [00:46:58] Most blogs, probably every three days. So let’s say you post something, and you don’t do anything specific to alert Google to that. Within three days, there’s a good chance that your piece of content will be in Google’s index. And then how long will it stay ranking highly if you manage to get a ranking highly?
David: [00:47:21] Well, it’s Darwinian. It depends on how evergreen, how relevant it stays. It depends on whether other things come out there are better than it. If these things happen, then you’ll find your content slipping down the search rankings. The opposite to that, generally what I find to be the case, is when you’re investing in your content in a meaningful and consistent way.
David: [00:48:00] What happens is that a rising tide lifts all boats where now, you’ve got hundreds of pieces of content that are ranking in search engines across the board. Each of them is occasionally getting a new link which means a new link to your blog. Google is saying “Oh, this website’s kind of more important than it was before.”
David: [00:48:25] All of your content is sort of rising up the rankings. That’s sort of the ideal situation but once something is ranking well, assuming that nothing else jumps in that is far better than it, it can rank for years. That’s really the long term power of Google. It’s the accumulated traffic that you get by adding another piece of content that every month is going to send a thousand people to you and another piece and another piece. Pretty soon, you’re looking at tens, hundreds of thousands of people every month coming to old pieces of content through Google.
Jillian: [00:49:03] I keep saying this is the last question but this is mine. We have been at this for a long time. We have a lot of old content. Should we be going back? Let’s say it’s almost Easter, should we be going back to our old Easter posts and refreshing them, reposting them or doing something to them to hopefully get them to rank higher? Maybe, it’s like a lost piece of content somewhere. What is your thought about that?
Jillian: [00:49:35] Yeah, it’s possible. It’s all something that I’ve done a lot of. I’m just personally more orientated towards creating something new especially in a situation like yours where you have a big back catalogue. I think it depends on how much low hanging fruit there is.
David: [00:49:56] If you think you have a big back catalogue of stuff that is not using keywords for example, then there’s probably a huge benefit to go back in and kind of sort of work on them. But if for a long time, you’ve been aware of SEO and you’ve been using keywords to the best of your ability, then going back to visiting those posts probably isn’t going to have a lot of advantage to it.
David: [00:50:23] One thing that you could do is Google has a tool called Google Webmaster Tools which you can set up. You can google how to set that up. It has a dashboard that tells you all of the things that you rank for in Google, where you rank for them and how many clicks you’ve gotten from them. It’s very useful.
David: [00:50:46] One thing you could do with that is you can use that to say, “Okay, export of all of that. In a spreadsheet, I’m going to see everything that I rank on the second page for. Those might be low hanging fruit for getting links to them or maybe tightening up the SEO.
David: [00:51:06] Maybe you really didn’t use, maybe use one of the keywords but not the other one and really, if you’ve used both, you think maybe you could jump onto that first page break. So identifying the low hanging fruit is really the key if you’re going to start looking at your back catalog. You could drown in all that content. It could take forever.
Jillian: [00:51:26] Right. And if you’re in page 50 of something, to get it to page 49 is not going to help you that much whereas if you could get your content from page two or page three up to page one, the benefits are exponential.
David: [00:51:41] Yes. Thank you for spelling that out. That’s exactly right, Jillian.
Jillian: [00:51:44] Okay. Well, that is super helpful. David, I have to say, this has been so enlightening. I have learned so much. I thought I knew a lot but just you spelling it out in such an easy to understand way. I have so many ideas right now in my head.
David: [00:52:03] Oh, good. Wonderful. I couldn’t have gone better then.
Jillian: [00:52:07] I hope to have you back on the podcast so that we can do a part two and even dig a little deeper.
David: [00:52:13] I don’t really know anything else, unfortunately. I’ll have to learn something.
Jillian: [00:52:16] All right. Thank you for being on this show.
David: [00:52:24] Alright. Thank you, Jillian. I look forward to a follow up.
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