Missions and Marketplace Podcast
Interview with Dan Shure
Hello everyone I’m Priest Willis and this is Missions and Marketplace podcast episode number 35. Today I’m joined by Dan Shure. Dan is the owner of Evolving SEO, a boutique SEO company located in Massachusetts. Dan’s been heavily involved with SEO after starting in helping this father establish his business online. Dan who went to college originally and graduated with a degree in music, switched gears after doing some side work in music and started his own business and this is where his journey and evolution begins. Dan was awesome for the Missions and Marketplace community because we’ve never had an SEO expert on the podcast before and it’s fitting that we would have Dan on; he has an amazing, great content on his website Evolving SEO. But more importantly whether you’re a beginner to an advanced person, I think you’re going to glean some stuff from this you’re going to get some tools, tips and tricks like anything else to help you build and establish your business. If you’re a blogger or someone that is creating content and you haven’t quite figured out how to get it out to the masses, you definitely want to stay plugged into this one because this is going to be the help that you need. Without further ado, here is my man Dan Shure.
Welcome to Missions and Marketplace podcast. Join us as we talk to business and thought leaders to discuss their passion in and outside of business and how it drives them to give and be citizens of goodwill. Let’s get started.
PW: Hey Dan welcome to the program.
DS: Thanks for having me Priest. I appreciate it.
PW: I’m excited to have you. You’re a good dude. You and I talked on your podcast which was a pleasure for me so I’m excited to have you on give the audience little bit about you.
PW: So, Dan, why don’t you tell us a little bit of much self?
DS: Absolutely. So, now I do SEO. I have an SEO company, Evolving SEO and about three people. I also run a podcast called Experts on The Wire. We had you as a guest, it was a lot of fun. Leading up to that though, I was not really a huge computer geek or a computer nerd, not even really into marketing. I was a musician and had played piano since I was four years old. My degree is in classical piano performance – probably one of the most useless degrees you can get other than sounding cool when you tell people. Sometimes it impresses people. And I just kind of stumbled into SEO because I was doing it for my music lesson businesses, for my dad’s businesses; really just as a way to improve the business, to grow, to get customers and honestly a little bit of survival because when my wife and I got married, we moved back to the area that she grew up in. And I had no contacts, no connections, no work, nothing in the Central Massachusetts area where I’m living now. And so, I had to use SEO as a way to get my first piano students at that time. And so, it really started from a business and marketing need for me and then that slowly transitioned into now. We’ve got a small boutique company. We provide SEO services for e-commerce companies, software companies, B2B, B2C, content sites and the whole thing. So, that’s kind of the short story of it.
PW: That’s really cool. So, you brought up having a useless degree and I wanted to ask you about that a little bit. So, what do you think about, there’s an argument out there in the atmosphere that degrees are just useless, period; regardless of what kind you have. What’s kind of your take on education? We’re not here to knock it but I just wanted to get your take on just people that go to school versus you who seem to jump in SEO – something totally unrelated to your degree. Do you think people should just kind of bypass college and get right into it or what’s your take?
DS: It’s a great question. Like many things in life it’s very nuanced. So, I don’t look at it as black and white but what I would say is I wish that colleges and higher Ed institutions would teach more of the skills that are necessary for us in 2016 and beyond. We don’t need to memorize facts anymore. What we need is to know how to be critical thinkers. How to, especially – you know I hate to bring up the election but with this whole thing that just passed and this whole idea of fake news, nobody is questioning what they’re looking at anymore. Nobody’s taking the time to stop and think. And the parallels in the SEO world, right, people publish these rankings studies but no one takes the time to stop and question the data, the research, the expertise that went into that. And I wish colleges did a better job at instilling critical thinking in us and also the ability to – I think they surface level say that they tried to instill collaboration working with groups of people- but at least my experience was not. It was OK, it was not great in that regard, I wish they did more from that. Of course, I’m many years out of college now so I don’t know what they’re doing now. And then lastly creativity. I wish they would teach the aspects of being creative. I think creativity is one of the most valuable assets to have in 2016 and beyond. Because we can look at many facts, we can go to Google and, ironically, maybe we should fact check the facts that we’re looking at.
PW: I was just going to say, who’s monitoring the fact checking of the fact checker, of the record checker.
DS: [Chuckles] Yeah, it’s a very interesting question that you ask and how it all ties back into SEO, in the election and everything. The other thing that I would say about college and I know this more anecdotally but the fact that you have to get a loan that’s thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars; that you can’t claim bankruptcy on, that takes six, seven, eight, I don’t know how many years to pay back – ten years.
PW: Oh yeah.
DS: With the expectation that that degree that you’ve paid so much money for is going to be able to allow you to pay back that loan. I think that system is pretty messed up as well and I don’t think the idea of college is bad. I mean, one of the best pros of college is the networking and some of the life lessons that I learned in moving away to school and having those kinds of experiences. So, I think there’s a lot of value; and a lot of my first jobs that I got came out of who I knew from school. So, there’s a lot of pros to it as well. So, I think it’s definitely a mixed bag.
PW: Yeah. And the one reason why I ask is because it really is a recurring theme that you know people go to school for one thing; even though you think it’s a useless degree but you know it’s almost a level playing ground at this point where a lot of us who went to school at a certain period. I mean, by the way, so I’ve been out of school now for a long time and I still have six thousand left on my loan. So, it can go past ten years depending on how you shaped it up. But the recurring theme is that we all have degrees that don’t necessarily fit into areas that we now work in, which mine is obviously affiliate marketing, yours is SEO which I kind of want to get into. But just interesting the past seem to wiggle through. And there is a critical thinking component that is lost and that’s why this debate with fake news and all this stuff is up because there’s so many people that buy into that. You almost don’t know what’s real anymore.
DS: Yeah it is a little frustrating. And yeah, absolutely, so many people have degrees in something that is not what they’re doing now. I started college in 1997, graduated in 2001 – SEO barely a thing at that point.
PW: That’s right.
DS: So, in a field like yours and mine – there’s no affiliate marketing degree or SEO degree. So, that’s another aspect of how quickly technology is moving and communications – there’s new things all the time. So, that I think has interestingly provided opportunities for people, like you and I as well, that didn’t get a traditional background in law or dentistry or science or whatnot because we can jump into these things that the internet provided us.
PW: And I think one of the cool things where your story picks up here is that you did plug in some other stuff. So, if I’m correct you originally got your SEO start, if you will, kind of helping your dad out with his business. Is that how that kicked off?
DS: Yeah absolutely. So, in parallel to me being a musician and teaching music lessons on and off, I was working for my dad especially when I first got married ten years ago. We had no money. We were shut off at our apartment – we were in a bit of a bind financially. So, even my parents loaned me money to pay off credit cards and to pay off a car loan and I worked that off by hours. My dad wouldn’t pay me cash, I was working him to pay off the loan in a large part. So, he has two sculpture businesses; one’s e-commerce, they sell sculpture reproductions the other is very high end bronze monuments and he’s the artist and he sells that. He sells himself as an artist. So, that was a great experience as well. I mean I built his websites from scratch; HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL.
DS: The whole thing. That experience was great too. I mean it was a little bit before WordPress was solid enough to comfortably build eCommerce on.
PW: And there wasn’t Shopify, obviously there was no…
DS: No Shopify. So, having that experience was super valuable because now doing my day to day SEO work I have at least some of that tangible experience of doing some programming. I’m a bit of a hack at it but at least I can talk to developers and understand what they’re experiencing and I think the empathy part of that is really one of the most valuable pieces from it.
PW: Yeah, get it for people that are entrepreneurs and they just don’t have time to get in to those nuances of learning how to be developers/designers and all that stuff. I know Photoshop, I know a little bit of development myself – not much. You definitely had me on SEO and all that stuff but I know enough to sit and chat with you, right. And I think people that create these Shopify sites and WordPress sites, they kind of lose that knowledge of the backend and how things work. I mean don’t you think even if somebody is running a Shopify site or WordPress site that they can simply put a plugin, they still should maybe go to their local development 12-week boot camp or something along those lines?
DS: Yeah, it’s valuable. I mean you just know it’s possible, you know how long things might take, you know when a developer might be trying to twist your arm or tell you they can’t do something when they really can – they just don’t feel like it. So, it just arms you with knowledge them. I think the biggest thing, one of the biggest lessons I try to share with everybody; business owners, marketers you need to learn a little bit about technical SEO, a little bit about – go read Google’s webmaster guidelines, go watch the classic Matt Cutts videos when he used to be at Google. I learned so much from those and I think the more you arm yourself with knowledge whether it’s SEO, or affiliate marketing, the election, whatever it is – that gives you strength because now you’re not relying on somebody else’s opinion and then you have to worry about if you can trust them. At least you have some inner knowledge of your own that you can rely on.
PW: So, you must really have believed in yourself to go from helping your father out, kind of get involved in SEO and all that other kind of stuff – search engine marketing or search engine optimization, that is, for the people listening. But then you decide 2011 that you want to go full time. So, you went from a place of struggle to now believing in yourself. So, you must have hit a nice financial flow where you like “I think I can do this full time and completely not work for anybody else”.
DS: Yes, interesting. When I think back to what causes me to make decisions to pivot or to change direction, it’s really more of an area of just being excited about something. I’ve always been curious, I’ve always like to get involved in new things and not stick with the – the only thread of consistency through my entire life has been music and piano. Other than that, there’s no consistency really. What excited me at the time was just – when I was listening to the SEO101 podcast then I realized that these guys, the hosts, they did SEO full time as their job. Then a light bulb went off and I said I want to do that full time because I like the website stuff but I I’m not a designer, I’m colorblind so that’s a disadvantage and I thought some of the analytics was OK, I thought some of the development was OK, but as I said I’m kind of a hacky developer. But when I realized that SEO was like a thing, that that’s all they did, that’s when the light bulb went off and I said “that’s what I want to do all the time”, is just the driving traffic part of it. Yeah, it wasn’t so much believing in myself. There’s always been a bit of self-doubt kind of always running in the back of my mind for no matter what I do, more just the excitement of it and really believing that I can help other people the way that I helped myself with my business and my dad’s businesses.
PW: That’s really good. So, let’s talk about Evolving SEO which you are the president, founder, main man in-charge. Let’s talk about it. What do you provide? How does the business look today?
DS: Today we provide a whole variety of SEO focused services. And so, the glue that really ties everything together is people come to us when they want something from the search engine, they might want more traffic, maybe they’ve run into a penalty issue, or a problem they can’t solve with the website, maybe Google’s not indexing certain parts of their site. So really anything touching the search engine and involving the traffic or the client’s website. From there that’s when the services really get tangible because depending upon what the need is and I’m sure you experience this with affiliate marketing, it could be you know not every tool is appropriate for every scenario. So, for some clients we’re doing more heavy duty technical auditing of websites, others we might be keyword researching to feed them topics for their blog, others we might be helping the maintain their old content or uncover opportunities to repurpose old content, other clients we might be just be looking for more growth hack – things that look like growth hacking where we’re just trying to know fine tune everything, maybe they got stuff to a certain level but they’re trying to take it to the next level so we might be looking at optimizing title tags or optimizing the content for scroll depth and any variety of things like that. So, the services really look different across the board but the glue again that ties it all together is that we’re trying to solve a problem for the client with the search engine.
PW: Now when you talk about optimizing the title tags and the content within the page, are you actually someone that would go in and do some of the editing of the page to make more sense from a SEO friendly perspective? Or how does that look for someone like yourself to work for me who may have a blog and I need my blog to be more SEO friendly?
DS: Great question. So tangibly if it’s a smallish site – twenty pages, maybe fifty pages – we’ll hand write the titles because every page is super important when you only have fifty. We’ll hand write them, we’ll either give them to the client in a spreadsheet and they’ve got somebody that just puts them into the site; or if they have WordPress and we can easily get in there, we might just go in and put the titles in ourselves. But if we’re talking about a client site – so I have a I have a client that I’ve been working with for a long time. It’s like an audiologist directory. So, it’s kind of like they’re the Yelp for audiologist and hearing aids. They have ten thousand, twenty thousand pages. They list every audiologist in every city across the United States. So, we can’t go in there and manually tweak twenty thousand title tags so what we do is we design templates for them where their programmer can algorithmically decide what the title tag should be. The formula might be, you know, audiologist in City Name-brand name. We might algorithmically list how many audiologists are in a certain city. So, in a very large site like that we’ll give templates and then the development side of things will be implemented from there. And if they have specific pages that are really important to them we might do some custom title tagging for those specifically.
PW: So, I’m just somebody that started out, I created a blog, I have my domain name, I’m already hosting or just started hosting, I have a couple blog posts up, what should I be considering with those blog posts? And what should I be considering moving forward as a beginner from an SEO perspective?
DS: Yes, beginner. What I would try to do is I like to break this into two pieces. One is your commercial side of your website, your products and your services. In the other is content. So, whatever it is you’re selling – the product, the service – you want to make sure that those pages are appropriately targeted to what you’re doing. So you, for example, whether it’s affiliate marketing in the location you’re in or a certain niche of affiliate marketing, affiliate management. You want to make sure that you have a page that’s aligned with that service that you’re providing. That’s sort of SEO101. The mistake I see a lot of people make, a lot of businesses is they design the services section of their site around their perspective, not their customer’s perspective.
DS: It’s of course a knowledge thing, right. They’re going to use industry lingo, they might not divide up pages that should be separate. That’s one of the best things you can do; whatever your core website is, make sure you’re targeting the products and services or your offerings of whatever you’re trying to provide. And then beyond that, if we’re talking about content, maybe affiliates are more concerned with content because oftentimes, as you explained to me, they’re driving traffic through maybe product reviews. And so, what you really need to do there is; what I say is 90% of keyword research is deciding what page to create to begin with, not trying to twist a page to target something, the topic you would come up with prior to that. What you really want to get good at as somebody creating affiliate content is finding those keyword gaps and we can get into a lot of details for how to do that. But if we’re just talking SEO101: Starting Out, just know that sometimes you might create content that will rank for stuff accidentally just completely organically and that’s great. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times but the best way to think about SEO is to do that intentionally. Have it in your mind that you need to decide what topic you want to write about first and then design the piece of content around that and maintain that targeting throughout the creation of that content. The other mistake I see people make is, we’ll give them a topic and then they slowly twist that topic accidentally into something else and it goes in a different direction and it doesn’t any longer target the original keyword we gave them. That’s a bit of the art of it as well.
PW: Got it. So, I’m somebody that may not know a lot about SEO. You just told me to think about as I build out my blog how I should focus on my keywords. If I’m somebody that’s taken a step back a little bit because I have a blog, I don’t have ten thousand pages but I have a hundred and I hear you talking and I’m going to probably work on all that stuff but I don’t fully know what a search engine friendly website looks like or even a page post, whatever that may be. In a nutshell, what can you tell me to look for to let me know that “OK I at least have the bases down of a search engine friendly page”?
DS: Yeah. The beauty of it is, now in the days of CMS’ we’re eighty percent there. If you just install WordPress and install the Yoast SEO plugin, you’re pretty close to that.
PW: That’s true.
DS: What I can tell you is, let’s talk about Yoast for a second. There’s a few settings that you want to set in Yoast. I’m sure a lot of your listeners, most of them probably are on WordPress. So, number one install the Yoast SEO plugin. If you are already using the All-in-One plugin, I have a video and I can send you the link of how to transition from one to the other. From there, there’s a few settings. There’s one that says noindex subpages of archives – all that means is you’re not going to index page two, three, four, five, six if you have a category page that paginates. There’s no reason for those to be indexed. Another one is if you go into the titles and metas section, you can noindex tags. Tags are usually worthless landing pages that don’t need to be indexed as well.
DS: The only exception to this is if you have an old site that has existed for a while, go to your analytics and make sure that a random tag page is not driving traffic – maybe you didn’t know about it. And you can individually let certain tag pages remain indexed but just noindex on the other. So, go into titles and meta and you go under taxonomies and then there’s a section that says ‘tags’ and you just check the box or now they’ve got those little switches – you can set it to noindex. The other thing to utilize in Yoast, and these are global websites settings, but go to the social media section, the social section, and plug in all your social profiles and check off the boxes where it says to use the Google+ metatags, the Facebook Open Graph text. What Yoast is doing here is just automatically adding all the social metatags to the site. So, when you share your content in Facebook or in Twitter with the Twitter Cards or Google+ or Pinterest you’re going to get a little extra juice, a little extra visibility in those platforms when they’re shared. So, one last little tip is in most cases you don’t need all your specific image URLs accessible especially in larger sites. What happens is, let’s say you have a blog post that has five images, every image that you attach there has its own unique URL and own webpage. I’m not talking about the image file, how you can open up an image file.
DS: These are actually separate, unique image URLs.
DS: And those are typically not needed as well and Yoast has a setting under the Advanced Section where you can check off redirect attachment ID’s to the post. I forgot the exact wording but you’ll see it in there. It’s a little checkbox under Advanced or under permalinks, they keep moving around. That’s a quick little setting and that’s the beauty of Yoast that you can just use a plugin to make some global settings. I know there was a lot of steps that the listeners might want to go back and rewind it. I’ll give you a link to a post I did on Moz about setting up the Yoast SEO plugin and you can link that as well. And then people can go read that for all the Yoast settings. Now to get into the specific pages which I think is kind of what you are asking about.
DS: When you create a piece of content around a keyword there’s really only a few areas that you need to maintain that keyword in – the title tag and the slug or URL. And maybe a few times in the content. The notion of stuffing keywords into your headers and into your paragraphs and bolding them and italicizing them – that’s sort of an old thing.
PW: Is that because Google just got wiser about the whole deal? And they’re kind of saying “we’re going to pay that much attention to what’s stuffed in the body anymore” because people used to just stuff keywords.
DS: Yeah. Anything that’s easily gameable is probably not a ranking factor and should you try to have keyword variance in your content – yes, but that’s because that correlates with a good piece of content. So, if you’re talking about marketing automation software, you’re probably going to use the phrase somewhere maybe “software that automates marketing” or you know I mean. You’re probably going to use the various long tails. Now this is beyond just Word Press – any piece of any platform, any piece of content, try to maintain your main keyword target in the title tag and in the URL and that’s it. Otherwise the top heading should grab readers so they want to go through the content. The rest of the title tag around your keyword should entice users to click on it. We can talk about click-through rates stuff and then the URL; what I usually do for the URL is if I have a title that’s seven words long, I’ll try to come up with a little more compact version for the URL that still has the keyword in it. That still gives users a little bit enough about what’s going to be in the post. But the URL, you want to try to keep that nice and compact. Not as long as a regular title.
PW: So, you literally, for WordPress, you go inside those posts for example and you edit that URL to whatever the keyword is so you don’t leave this long-hyphenated Dan-Shure-SEO-Evolving, you don’t leave that in the URL?
DS: That’s right. And just to put it in context, this sort of stuff we’re talking about in the grand scheme of things won’t make or break. There’s so many people that don’t know about this stuff and their content ranks just fine.
PW: That’s right.
DS: They’re doing really good content. So, this isn’t like some magic trick but it’s a good practice.
DS: When you do it in aggregate over hundreds of pieces of content, that should add up to a little bit better success. The way I think of it is – I have the main heading of the title of the post that goes on the page itself, that’s what I want users to see when they land on the piece of content. That also might be what shows up when people click the Twitter button and then share in Twitter. Then there’s the page title tag. That’s the setting that you add it in Yoast down below the content, down below where it is in WordPress – that you want to be under sixty characters because Google is going to cut it off otherwise. You want that to be your SEO title. That’s what’s going to show up in search results. That’s what’s going to show up on the tab in Chrome or whatever the browsers you use. And that’s the one that’s your SEO title. Lastly, I’ll edit the slug or URL to a little shorter, more compact version. Some people go extreme to have every piece of content they do right on the root level, so demand.com/marketing-automation. And some people go super extreme and just literally, every piece of kind of they have is just the keyword they’re targeting and that’s it. And I think that’s a little extreme. It’s a little minimalistic. I like to hit it somewhere in the middle.
PW: Yeah. Good advice for those that are creating a blog or maybe already have a blog as you start to launch out on SEO. And the reason Dan why I’m definitely glad to have you on is because we get feedback from our listeners of people that want to learn a little bit more about SEO, don’t understand enough about affiliate marketing obviously. And these are stay-at-home home mom and dads are kind of peeking in. And one of the questions that we had was they couldn’t afford a Biz Dev person so they wanted to create leads. Oddly enough, I know you did a conference talking about how to generate leads with SEO. So, if you could briefly just talk about how that person and just anyone else listening could literally use SEO which obviously takes a little learning – Dan is here, I mean it took him sometime, can take you sometime – what is a good tactic that that person can use to generate some leads with SEO?
DS: It’s a great question. It depends what we’re talking about with lead, so I’m going to assume maybe that’s a business lead?
PW: Yup, that’s right.
DS: Yes. Maybe they’re trying to get somebody to fill out a form or call them or e-mail them.
PW: That’s exactly right.
DS: The first thing, it’s general marketing. It goes back to who is your customer? Who you want to get a lead from? First think of that; if it’s a certain person in a certain location whatever, you need to know that person. I assume, hopefully, a lot of people know that first. Then it all comes back to keywords after that and the content you have targeting those keywords. Then you need to find a way to attract them to your site – again, just basic marketing. Now the SEO piece comes in where the mistake a lot of people make is they think “if I’m a sales recruiter then I need to just drive traffic from people searching sales recruiter in Google”. But you can attract the right people by thinking outside of that box and maybe a little higher up in the funnel. As to what other problems do those people have that they’re trying to solve. That there’s also a keyword opportunity for. So, think of it as like a two or three-circle Venn diagram where you’ve got the person searching in Google, you’ve got the potential for them to be a client, and then you have the ability to create that content. So now we get into keyword research. There’s a few other myths or mistakes that people make here. So, the short answer to the question is, you target those people with content, you figure out what they’re reading, what they’re interested in that relates to what you’re selling and create the content around that. That short answer is easier said than done as you insinuated to. The next step is to get really good at finding the content opportunity gaps and I have some content out there talking about this. I’ve got some slight shares and whatnot I can send to you. But the first thing I would say, everyone should bear in mind four things: (1) Relevance, (2) expertise, (3) link authority, and – what’s the fourth one? I always mess this up. I always get fourth – let me start going through them and then I think trust is maybe what I meant or a niche, we’ll get to it.
First of all – relevant. So, the example I always give, let me put this into context. What we’re doing here is developing a skill where you can recognize, in Google, in a particular search result that there’s a content opportunity gap that you can solve. Imagine you’ve just done a search in Google and now we’re analyzing the results and here’s four ways to analyze it. Number one, and the example I always use is – we did a search, I was giving a presentation, looking for examples, and we did a search and we found a keyword – kittens attacking feet or cat attacking feet.
PW: [Chuckles] Oh, don’t bring that up. That brings back nightmares to when my wife and I first got married and we got a cat.
PW: And I used to wiggle my feet to go to sleep. It helps soothe me I guess. This cat used to just launch the hell out of my feet and it was horrible. You just brought it back.
DS: So, it’s a real thing, right?
PW: It’s a real thing.
DS: Yeah. The funny part is, and this was a year ago, I don’t know what’s in Google now but none of the results actually in that; you could scan the results, in the title or in the description, none of them addressed a cat attacking your feet specifically. They were all broadly around misbehaving cat or cat attacking you or cat attacking another cat but the relevance match was not there. That’s one of the biggest things to look for because, in many cases, even if all the other sites their ranking are very high authority, they have a lot of links, Google is always looking for the highest relevance match. That’s one of the number one thing search engines do. And so, if you can come in and create content that’s more relevant to that search, then you have a pretty good chance of ranking there. An example I gave for affiliates that I spoke about at the Affiliate Summit East was, I like to take – you can see my photos behind, me I’m a real hobbyist photographer. I have a Fuji X-E2 something or another camera, I don’t know the name of it. But what I discovered was people were searching for reviews of all the lenses for this camera. I think the key word was to Fuji X-E2 lenses, just something like that but there was no content that was addressing that specifically. There was content about the Fuji X-E2, there was content about lenses in general. So, that’s another area where if you get really good at analyzing the search results, you can find a gap and this goes back to the critical thinking. We talked about at the very, very beginning. Beyond that I can’t teach somebody more – you just need to get good at doing that. You need to ask yourself “is this content about what the search is about”? So, that’s number one – the relevance gap.
Number two is link authority gap. You might see content ranking that’s a relevance match but if you use something like the Marsbar, the extension, and then you get the domain authority of all the sites ranking in search. You might do a search and see that things are relevant but maybe everything ranking there has a low competition for domain authority. By low competition, typically if most results are under forty maybe even under fifty sometimes, you have a pretty good shot of showing up there because once the majority results start getting over fifty, sixty, seventy domain authority that’s when it gets super competitive. But if sites are ranking and articles are ranking that are relevant but low authority, you have a chance of showing up.
That brings me to the third one, content quality. Even if the relevance is there, even if they have good domain authority, click on the content. Is it good? Are you an expert at Fujifilm cameras? And did the person that wrote some 300-word review about that is that good? If not, if you as the expert of that topic can clearly see this is a terribly written review, you can still do something better. Google is looking for quality. Yes, they’re looking for relevance. Yes, they’re looking for domain authority which indicates an authority in the website. But they’re also looking for the content quality. Is it written by an expert? Is it thorough? Is it honest? The biggest one. And you see this all the time in affiliate – “The truth about X” or “X scam”. These things rank because people assume there’s a level of honesty to it. Because if you’re talking about something negative, you must be being honest.
DS: I think that’s a huge element that people need to be putting into their reviews if that’s the type of content they’re doing. And the fourth one – I knew I’ll remember as I go through all these – the fourth one is the relevance match of your domain. And this is a huge one. And this goes to the beginning of somebody deciding what site to create to begin. What niche site to attack. If you’re searching around certain semi-broad topics like Fujifilm camera for example, what you want to look for is a lack of domains that are specific to that topic. So, when you think about the New York Times, they cover thousands of topics yet their authority is super high. That’s why they can rank for detox recipes or something super specific. But if there’s no specific domains that exist around a topical area and you create one, now you can stand out because you can be the website that’s only based around this one super niche topic. And I think this is something affiliates get, maybe even more than some SEOs, is going after that niche. For example, I was using a tool called Google Correlate. Your users should to check it out. I think they’ll love – this is a great tool for affiliates. I found so many domain names that nobody has discovered yet with this tool. So, Google Correlate, it shows the trends of searches but you might type winter gloves and then it shows you all the other searches that have the same seasonal trend with that. And then you could see winter hat or you could see Christmas gifts. So it gives these really interesting seasonal trends but a little hidden tool in there is where you can do draw. And what you do is you draw the trend and then it spits back all the keywords that match that trend. So, what I do is I go in there, and where you draw is like a little graph, and I draw a sharp line up that’s roughly the last six months what I’m looking for. What new topics have totally exploded or popped in the last six months or a year. And then it’s going to show you all of the topics and keywords that have exploded.
PW: So, this out how you find trends and hot topics?
DS: Yes, it’s one way. I think I told you on my show, I own minioncupcakes.com. Now it’s a big movie but it was just the cupcake character in Despicable Me I think. And I own, I didn’t buy this one, but I found palletcouches. All these things where people are reusing pallets to build furniture, it’s like a huge thing now. And I think as we get more into urban culture and recycling, that’s really going to pick up and I think palletbench, palletcouch, palletfurniture.com – all the .coms are available and I found that by drawing a stupid little line in Google Correlate.
PW: Are you building this out or you’re just buying these domain names?
DS: Yes. If you’re a domainer or you just buy the domains, maybe they’ll be super attractive at some point but. I bought one that I tried to sell on I think Flippa or something or one of those places and nobody bought it. But it was a trashcandrink.com and I’m not a huge drinker but I guess it’s this drink where they pour Red Bull upside down on top of it or something. It’s popular now apparently for whatever reason.
PW: I just bought mensgroomingden this week.
DS: Oh yeah?
PW: Mensgroomingden which I bought; my wife was like “that name sounds like it should be taken already”.
DS: Right, right.
DS: And I think the last one I found was a laceuptop. It sounds kinky but it’s not. It’s just a new style of women shirt apparently. But the thing had ten thousand searches a month and nobody had bought it. Actually, if one of your listeners wants to buy that one, I don’t think I bought that one. But I’m telling you, this is just me going in there for half an hour. There’s probably endless. If somebody wanted to make a whole side thing out of this, just finding these new trending domains and flipping them, you could probably do that. Even make some extra cash in that. But anyways, I digress a bit. When it comes back to the content and ranking it for SEO to attract your leads or your customers, I mean that’s the name of the game. I can teach you the concepts of what to look for and we can get some tools and actual tricks and tactics for finding those gaps, but at the end of the day you using your critical mind you need to ID that opportunity.
PW: Yeah. That’s really cool stuff. And that Google Correlate, guys, that to me is a huge one. I actually wrote it down, I’m going to play with it myself. I heard recently, I believe it was from Pat Flynn, Nick Loper – names that some people may know, some people may not – where they talked about deleting old blog posts and all of a sudden, their site was immediately shooting up in the rankings.
PW: Is that true? And how is it true?
DS: To answer just quickly, yes, it is true to an extent. Again it’s nuanced. So, I think people shouldn’t just go randomly deleting all content. You don’t want to just blindly do this thing. The truth to this is, as content builds up over time to explain it very simply, what Google’s looking at is how much total content do we have indexed for your site. Let’s say ten thousand pages. How much of that actually gets traffic? And actually, gets traffic that’s valuable for us to send people as the search engine? If you have a really mismatch ratio there, you’re only driving traffic to five thousand pages out of ten thousand or five hundred pages out of ten thousand; you’ve got some content clean up to do. This is just good content marketing, good maintenance of your website. What’s happening there is because you’re clearing out the stuff that is just holding down the site like an anchor in Google, because remember it costs Google money and resources to keep your pages indexed and to crawl them. So, they’re always looking at the whole trust and authority of your domain in general. If they’re sitting there going “well this site only drives good traffic to 10% of its content”, then we might lower your quality score over all. What’s happening there, what Pat and everybody is talking about is, they’re just cleaning out all the old junk that’s not performing and casting just a bigger light on the stuff that is working.
PW: How do you know what that old junk is? We talked earlier about those starting off in blogging, this would be directed towards those that have been doing it for a while. How would that person know what that old junk is? Because Google, there’s something behind the curtain so you don’t really know what they’re avoiding. How do I know that?
DS: It’s a great question. So, you pull together what’s basically called a content audit. And you can search around, there’s a lot of methods for this. The end result of a content audit no matter what tool you use is just a big spreadsheet. Every row is the URL of your piece of content and then you have data about that. You have is it indexed? How many search impressions does it get? Does it get traffic? Does Google crawl it? So, you just pulled together all these data points for every piece of content and the bigger the site the more heavy lifting it you need technically and I can name some tools. But essentially all you’re doing is you’re just getting that data and then I would start with simply what’s the content that gets zero traffic, no impressions, nothing. Just look at that and you can usually pretty quickly tell by looking at the URL “yeah this is old, this is crappy. Oh, I did that when I was like trying this thing and I don’t do it anymore”. And that’s the stuff that’s easy to cut. Now if people want to be conservative, you can simply noindex all that content. And by noindexing, it can still exist on your site, it’s not going to break anything on your site but it’s just going to stop it from showing up in Google. And that’s sort of a conservative first step to take. What I think Patt’s talking about there is actually deleting that content entirely. And the other mistake a lot of people make is they think that “oh, I deleted this, let me redirect it to something else”, but the problem with this is you should only be redirecting content that’s an actual match in topic or in content. So, if I have an article about Apple’s I’m not going to redirect it to something about an iPhone – that was a weird connection, Apple iPhone.
PW: I was going to say there is a connection there actually. [Chuckles]
DS: [Laughs] I thought of that because I brought an apple with me for snack and I got my iPhone sitting right here. That’s funny. But anyways the point is owned is…
PW: Oranges and iPhone, let’s…
DS: Yeah, oranges and iPhone there we go; oranges and iPhones. But the point is when you’re redirecting, make sure it’s a content match because Google’s not going to count that anyways. Back to the content audit. That’s how you tell as you need to – and if people don’t want to run this whole content audit thing you can go to Google Analytics and look at all your content that’s getting very little traffic at all or no traffic. Expand your Google Analytics to a date range of two years, three years, four years. Look at all the content that has completely dropped off the map that’s not getting traffic anymore. Now the few tools that you can do some of this with, that will do some of the heavy lifting; Screaming Frog SEO Spider, they now pull in Google Analytics and Google Search Console data into their reports. You can use a tool called URL Profiler, a content auditing tool. What you do is you just paste in all your URLS that you want it to crawl and they’ll go out and gather all this data for you and spit back out a spreadsheet. And the other thing that gets technical that I’m sure this might go a little bit beyond what your users might be up for doing but you can also look at Google Log Files. You can look at exactly what Google bot is crawling and that gets a bit more advanced but it is out there for anyone that’s a little interested in tackling that as well. There’s a tool called OnCrawl. And somebody just developed a beta plugin for WordPress which I’ll send you the link…
PW: Oh wow. Yeah please do.
DS: …where you can install a plugin in WordPress and then it puts all your crawl data in Google Analytics. Super geeky, super technical but it’s really good stuff. So, that’s basically how you decide what content to cut or to keep. And then the other option might be, maybe there’s content that’s old but it just needs a facelift. I mentioned in Evolving SEO one of the big things we do is content uplifts or upgrades for people. It is finding all the broken links on that content, fixing it, fixing outdated facts, fixing broken images, updating the date, updating the information, screenshots if your affiliates out there are reviewing software, update your screenshot. Software has updates, it looks different. If you have a review of Basecamp from 2010 it’s not going to look how it looks now. That’s all the kind of stuff that you can update.
PW: Hey guys, if you want to know about SEO this guy knows his stuff. You guys got to check out EvolvingSEO.com. I’m telling you Dan is the man. And a lot of tools that we talked about, whether you’re early or a little bit more advanced, he has tools on his website. We’ll have some stuff on our page to the kind of help you along. But Dan, just separately where do you want to go with your business? How do you want to scale? What’s your plans in the New Year?
DS: It’s a great question. I have admittedly not ever been very good about planning. But I have a slightly more concrete plan than I ever used to. And that is really with my podcast. I would like my podcast to eventually be able to make some revenue so it’s a client’s. So, I can swap out a client in the podcast – because right now we’re doing our podcast completely. We’re not making any money. It’s all extra. Plus, I’m really an entertainer and I like producing media. That’s kind of where my heart is. So, the podcasting fits into that and I was going to say you could probably tell I have my own podcast. I think you got in like three questions the whole interview. [Laughs] I’ve just been blabbing away the whole time.
PW: This is really, really good stuff and I think helpful for our users and listeners because one of the biggest things for them is SEO. So, you are the first guest that we’ve had on that talked specifically about SEO. I believe in you, I believe in the business that’s why I absolutely wanted to have you on because other guys say they’re “experts” but that’s neither here nor there. But I know for a fact you’re a player in the game so I really appreciate this.
DS: Appreciate it.
PW: And I really like where the business is going. Speaking of which, I think it’s a great idea in your podcast to plugin clients as you go along to be sponsors right.
PW: So, let’s talk about your podcast a little bit. Tell our listeners, do you have a separate name for it? I was on it. So, let me play like I don’t know what’s going on. Tell us about the podcast a little bit. What was the purpose of starting the podcast? Because I know you talk about more than SEO on there because I was on there. But just tell us a little bit about it.
DS: Yes, again when you ask me why I went to SEO, I went into podcasting because it seemed exciting to me. And again, it kind of pulls in. I did the music on my podcast, all the audio. Everything on there – I produce all the audio and do all the editing and everything. So, it’s first and foremost and I think I would recommend everyone out there, do something that you love obviously. We hear that so much but it’s going to make you more successful and that’s what it was for me. Just something I wanted to do for fun. Also, I love people, I love engaging in conversation. Obviously as you know, interviewing is a great way to meet new people, to stay in touch, to have great conversations, and to share that with the community. Also, specifically in the world of SEO, there’s not a lot of great as SEO podcasts out there or really many SEO podcast at all. I named one SEO101, that’s more if you’re in the beginning stages. There’s a few others out there, I’d name them but I honestly don’t really listen to them. I think people were excited to see that even though not all of my episodes focus on SEO but maybe the 50% ones that do, they’re excited to have a way to take in and learn SEO information beyond the blogs, beyond the videos, beyond the networking. They can do in their car and everything and take it in that way. The show is really geared towards I’d say at this point 50% SEO and 50% non-SEO. I don’t do much with paid advertising and things like that. We’ve done a little bit of it and I struggled with this for a long time and even now I’ll admit is that I felt like it was a detriment to the show to have a little bit of a lack of focus especially at the beginning. But I think what’s really happening is as SEOs and even as affiliate marketers, you need to know and be aware of all the other things that are going on in the digital landscape.
DS: I need to know about Affiliate Marketing, you guys need to know about SEO. So, when I bring in the guy that’s about Facebook ads or somebody talking about branding, I had Cynthia Johnson talking about branding, all these people. That’s because as SEOs, we’re naturally curious and it all impacts the work that we do. I had Rebekah Cancino just yesterday talking about content strategy and journey mapping. And that overlaps with SEO, it overlaps with UX. So, I think really the punchline to this all is that even the shows that aren’t about SEO literally, in a more abstract way they still are about SEO. Because to me as SEO is really one of the core fabrics of the entire web and the entire digital landscape. And you can escape it. You can’t artificially put up a wall and say “well if we’re talking about branding, we’re not talking about SEO”, but you are. Because big brands and branding elements affect SEO. So, that’s my semi-long winded answer to about the podcast.
PW: You know, you bring up a point towards the end that – I want to be clear, just obviously having a podcast myself – a podcast is an extension of who you are. You do SEO and you do SEO well but that’s not who you are completely. I mean we just talked about your musical background and you helping your father and having different skill sets and having dialogue and creating human conversation. Sometimes I think that’s fun in itself. Although you come out with an idea like “yeah I’m going to have a podcast that focuses wholeheartedly on- “. I mean Missions and Marketplace podcast was talking to business people that were going to have stories at the end that told us about Haiti and stuff. Well, we went totally away from that and now we’re just talking to tastemakers in business. And some of it, there would be good stories behind it, some of them may not be but the audience is still receptive, the podcast itself is growing as I know yours is. I think there’s something to be said about that in general and you have the name Evolving. We just have to be able to evolve at some level and accept sometimes we’re not going to in like we started.
DS: Yeah. I want to drop one really quick tip for your listeners.
PW: Yeah, please.
DS: A little gold nugget here in the end. So, SEMrush – awesome tool. There’s a report that you can do in there for amazing value for content ideas. So, here’s the idea, you drop a website into SEMrush – you probably need the paid version of it. Go to the pages report. You need a big website so start with something like Entrepreneur or maybe if you’re in the tech world TechCrunch. You can even use sites like SlideShare and Quora which is a little bit of a fascinating side. But go to the pages report, look for the content that they get the most search traffic from. Because oftentimes if something’s ranking really well on Entrepreneur.com and it’s been driving a lot of traffic for them, more often than not their content is old, it’s outdated, it’s low quality. And you can commit is a niche site and create something better. And so, when you’re in the pages report, it will sort by the amount of traffic percentage and by the amount of keyword; sort by the amount of keywords driving traffic to that content and you can even filter this by – if you’re trying to go through Entrepreneur for a specific topic, maybe it’s cameras. So, plug in Entrepreneur, go to pages, filter by cameras, sort by keywords. Look at their content that’s driving traffic for them. That’s probably going to lead you to search pages that have content gaps opportunities. Some of these sites, they have the year in the URL. I think TechCrunch or one of these does that. So, filter their content by the year, type in 2009, look for all of TechCrunch’s old content that still driving search traffic for them that they have ignored. Now they’re the ones not doing their content upgrades or content maintenance. Do that for them. Create a better piece of content for them. And this is something I’ve used time and time again to really quickly get good content opportunities. And the small side, plug in Quora.com. You don’t have to go to the pages report but just Quora.com, filter by your keywords or your topics – maybe its sales recruiting. Now you can find questions that ask about sales recruiting that rank on the first page in Google.
DS: Go answer those questions.
DS: Because now you’re sort of there on page one in Google. You got to do a really good job of answering the question. Sometimes there’s already a lot of answers. But this is a way to uncover – you can do this with any forum – the pianoworld.com if you’re in the piano industry. Find the forum pages that rank really well on Google and just go answer those questions. Now you’re present on the first page of Google as well.
PW: This is so big for those that want to become an authority in the space. Dan has just shared with you some really key pieces to kind of create that padding for you to become an authority. So you may have a blog out there. You may have a podcast yourself. You may have all these different things. But this is you kind of jumping on the back of the big guys and going for a ride. That’s huge Dan. Really good stuff there.
DS: I thought you might like that last tip.
PW: That is really good especially because our listeners obviously are people that are trying to become authorities, they’re affiliates, so forth and so on. So, guys that is – I may even put it doing right here. [Dings] Get real. Add a ding right there. That’s really good stuff. So, Dan, how can people reach out to you if they have questions, they want to follow you on Twitter? Share your stuff with them.
DS: Yeah absolutely. The biggest thing I’m really pushing right now is the podcast Experts on the Wire. It’s in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Player FM, all the places. You can go EvolvingSEO.com/wire which will just take you to my category page. I need to maybe develop a separate website for the podcast. Short of that, the next easiest place is my Twitter profile @dan_shure. I respond quickly. I mean I’m pretty interactive there. So, that’s probably the two best places for people to find me.
PW: Guys reach out if you want to do SEO the right way and find the authority in the space and the guy that I listen to and follow. Check out Dan Shure for real. Dan, it’s been a pleasure my friend.
DS: Yeah. Likewise. Thanks so much.
PW: Thank you
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