On this episode of Internet Marketing Insights, I am joined by Kevin Pike, the Interactive Marketing Director at Sweet Spot Marketing to discuss Onsite SEO.

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DAVID: Welcome to Internet Marketing Insights. Each week on our program we choose a theme related to internet marketing, bring you different guests to speak about and help you understand those themes. This week on our show: On page SEO. My guest, Kevin Pike, is interactive marketing director at Sweet Spot Marketing. Welcome Kevin.

KEVIN: Thank you for having me Dave.

DAVID: Thanks for coming. Tell us a little bit about what you do and tell us a little bit about Sweet Spot Marketing.

KEVIN: I’ve been in online marketing since 2004. Started off with pay-per-click, doing advertising that way. Migrated into SEO in about 2007 and been doing SEO ever since. I work for a company called Sweet Spot Marketing; we are based in Kansas City. And we do the full online marketing suite: social media, pay-per-click, SEO.

DAVID: And you specifically focus on the SEO portion of that, right?

KEVIN: Exactly.

DAVID: About how many clients do you work on their SEO for, just to give our listeners a feel for – is it three, is it thirty?

KEVIN: Thirty-five, give or take.

DAVID: Thirty-five?

KEVIN: Yeah.

DAVID: And you have small local clients all the way up to some big name brands that we would know, right?

KEVIN: Exactly.

DAVID: Okay. And I’m your host David McBee of DavidMcBee.com. I’ve been helping business owners with their internet marketing for several years and I write the blog “Let’s Translate: Making Sense out of Internet Gobbledygook” where I do my best to simplify complex internet concepts for anyone to understand, very much like we do here on IMI. So Kevin, let’s start by explaining to our listeners exactly what we’re talking about when we say on page SEO. Because I want this to be for business owners who have never heard that term, how would you describe on page SEO?

KEVIN: Quite simply, on page SEO is strategically coding your website to improve your website’s position or the [inaudible] rankings you are ranking for. There’s a lot of off page SEO in the community today, a lot of other things you can do, but on page is really about what you can do with your website.

DAVID: Okay. I often use an analogy when I’m describing to business owners what on page SEO is. I let them know that their web page is kind of like an ice cream sundae, and they want to make that ice cream sundae good for Google to come and eat. And the yummiest ice cream sundae, so to speak, is the one that will appear high on the search results. So vanilla, a plain old bowl of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be that interesting, nor would a plain old boring website that just has five pages of boring content. But then when you start putting on cherries and chocolate syrup and sprinkles, things like title tags and good clean URL’s and fresh content – things like that – those are the things that make Google happier about your website or like your website more. Do you agree with that analogy?

KEVIN: 100%, it’s a great analogy. Title tags you mentioned, URL’s, Meta tags, alt text on images, you know, H1 tags. Making sure simple things like your image files have good names. What is X3J57.jpeg or what is icecream-sundae.jpeg. Google can pick up even that kind of minutiae in a code so it’s important that you look at a lot of those on page strategies.

DAVID: So back up. Tell us a little about each of those and what they are. You don’t have to explain in great detail for someone who is never going to touch HTML optimization. Tell us a little about – we hear Meta tags and Meta descriptions a lot in the SEO community and some folks don’t know what those are.

KEVIN: Right. Those are the two big ones. Your Meta description and your title tag are the big ones because those are the ones that show up on the search results. The title tag is what you click on in the search result. The description underneath it is your description tag, so you put in the code. Typically nothing you’re going to see on your website. At the top of your browser in that blue internet Explorer bar’s where your title tag will show up but that’s it. This is kind of code behind the scenes and that’s – again, going back to your analogy.

I see it as kind of a filing cabinet. Every page on your website is in a filing cabinet, and the little tab on the folder has to be unique. You need to have a different name for each folder in your filing cabinet and then that’s where Google starts when they come to your website, they want to crawl and look at those folder tabs. All the content and all the code you put in that page is the piece of paper in the folder. But if you don’t have a good title tag on every single page Google looks at your site as one big filing cabinet folder of mixed up paper and they’re like “What is this site about?” It all starts there.

When you start getting into the other minutiae, the stuff on that piece of paper inside the file folder, again, all text is something that, again, no one ever sees on their browser. Everybody pretty much has their browser set to display the image. But behind that image there is behind the code a place where you can put alt text. So if I have a picture of an ice cream sundae, that’s great for the user. If I have alt text that says “This is an ice cream sundae” Google goes “Oh, that’s a picture of an ice cream sundae.” That can help you with image search, that can help you with other things as far as getting your website ranked for normal, ice cream sundae type of keywords. So those are very important.

The other thing you want to make sure is your URL. Again, /XKJ3.html, nobody knows what that is, including Google, including users, so that can affect your click through rate on the search result. But if you put in davidmcbee.com/icecreamsundaes, I can see that in the search results, Google can kind of go “I’ve seen that word before. Ice cream sundaes. I can probably anticipate that that’s what that picture is about.” So those are important, file names are important, Meta tags are important. The other thing you want to think about is the content. We all know content is king, so formatting your content. Using H1 tags, using H2 tags. You know –

DAVID: What does the “H” in H1 stand for?

KEVIN: Header.

DAVID: Okay.

KEVIN: Very simply, you can bold, italicize, text, there is a standard H1 through H6 that Google can pick up on as kind of an enhanced piece of content above just the normal paragraph type of content. So use H tags as well.

DAVID: I’m really loving this file cabinet analogy of yours. So I’m actually seeing in my brain this piece of paper inside there and it’s got different headers, if you will, header 1, header 2, breaking up the content instead of just – like, my twelve-year-old will write a 500 word essay and it will all be just one paragraph, or one sentence sometimes, you know? But what you’re saying is when you break that up, have bullets in there, have different headers, then that’s the same things you need to have on your website. And maybe paper clipped to that piece of paper is an image of an ice cream sundae and someone wrote on the back “ice cream sundae, 2012” or whatever it is.

KEVIN: Exactly.

DAVID: So I love your analogy; that’s really going to make the process of onsite SEO real understandable for our business owners. I like that.

KEVIN: Great.

DAVID: You mentioned something to me the other day, you said you were looking to hire someone to help you out with SEO and you had a couple of folks come in that claimed to be SEO experts and you asked them just a handful of questions and you could tell right off the bat if they knew anything about SEO or not. Does that fit into our conversation at all? Is there anything from that experience that we could share with our business owners that could help them maybe understand who to hire or what to look for?

KEVIN: That’s what I was thinking. When I’m hiring SEOs to help with SEO marketing, you’re also – from a business owner’s standpoint – looking to hire SEOs to help your own business. There’s a – we all know there’s a myriad of SEO companies out there. If you have a contact form on your website you’re probably getting spammed right now with “Hey, I can help your website rank better!” We all know they’re out there. One of the things that you really want to pay attention to is what is the noise, who are the people who are just looking for those kinds of spammy tactics to get your business and who actually cares about you? So go out there and do some research.

One of the things that you want to ask them is, you know, what kind of SEO do you do? Do you do on page? Do you do link building? If they’re like “Well, we just want to sell you links at ten bucks a link all day long”, run from those people. If you want to also, look at their own blog on their own website. Make sure they actually can back up what they say. If they’re not blogging regularly and adding their own fresh content to their own website, SEOing their own website, probably a red flag.

So there’s some things out there that you can do from a research standpoint. And you know, there’s plenty of blog posts out there right now, if you went and typed in “How to hire an SEO company in 2013” there will be a lot of good help out there for you.

DAVID: That’s good advice. Good advice. Now, are there on page SEO tactics that you feel are irrelevant today in 2013 that people are still using that they probably should just stop? Like, quit bothering with that?

KEVIN: Right. And going back to the hiring process, if somebody said “Yeah, we’re gonna go through and do your Meta keywords and make sure your keywords are all right”, I’m like, red flag. Meta keyword tag is irrelevant; we don’t really care about that. If you want to do it, great, but don’t lead with that as your SEO strategy.

DAVID: Why? Tell us why Meta keywords are – I mean, people over abused that strategy?

KEVIN: Yeah. Early on, early days of SEO, you put in your content, you just repeated your keyword over and over again and you put it in your Meta keyword tag and you repeated it a hundred times and whoever repeated it the most times won.

DAVID: I have a confession to make. Back when I was doing online yellow pages and we’d create the little profiles, boy, if you could get the word accountant in their twenty or thirty times, boy, you’d get that guy ranking for accountant. It was a cinch.

KEVIN: Yeah. That was back in 1999 when we were all using Netscape or whatever that old browser was.

DAVID: Pre-Google.

KEVIN: It was pretty ugly. Obviously the algorithms have caught on to those techniques. So going in there and using your Meta keyword tag and saying “Okay, I’m going to put these keywords in there” and expecting any results out of it, you know, publicly, people like Matt Cutts from Google, the authority, goes “Don’t use that tag anymore. It’s been abused too much. Don’t waste your time.” But you know, that’s kind of where we are with that. So there are some red flags like that, there are some wasted times out there that people are worried about those kinds of things.

DAVID: Okay. I actually want to bring up one as well and that’s keyword stuffing. And I know it’s very similar to what we just talked about but I still see it today when people blog. They will write a blog post about a particular product they sell or a service that they’re trying to provide and the blog article might be three or four hundred words, and they’ve got that keyword in their ten times. You know? And to a reader it looks silly. “Why do they keep mentioning landscaping in Kansas City?” or “Why do they keep saying ‘I’m a pediatric dentist’? We get it, we get that you’re a pediatric dentist!” And I still see people doing this. Sadly those are the ones that – it’s harder for them to learn that this doesn’t work anymore. I even have one client who hires out her blogging to professional bloggers and still does this. So it drives me nuts.

KEVIN: Yeah, I agree. Just last week I had a client who was like “I’ll handle my own blogging, thank you very much. We don’t need Sweet Spot for that.” So I said “More power to you. If you can write about your business and do a good job, go for it!” Couple of weeks went by and I was checking up on his blog posting and, sure enough, he – and I warned him, you know, don’t overstuff your keywords. And he did a pretty good job; he didn’t overstuff. But he just had a random boldness. On top of keyword stuffing people will just randomly bold stuff in the middle of a paragraph that makes no sense, no rhyme or reason for it.

So I totally 100% agree with you. The people that have the keyword written five times in a hundred words totally look weird. And they’ll also at times randomly bold it just because they think “Oh, if I bold it it’s going to help me rank better!” Epic fail. Write for the user; write for the person first, write for your readers. The search engines come second.

DAVID: Great. Alright, so one of the other things we wanted to talk about regarding on site SEO was WordPress. When we were having lunch the other day we were talking about how you used to have conversations with clients about converting their built-from-scratch website to a CMS. It kind of like goes back to your filing cabinet analogy. They had this mess of papers and you’re trying to get them organized. Tell us how WordPress plays into that.

KEVIN: You mentioned how we had lunch last week and we talked about it and after our lunch I did go back, I just kind of wanted to see if I had any data on WordPress.

DAVID: Wow, you’re prepared and everything!

KEVIN: I kind of prepared for that one! I was curious. I actually remember reading an article about it but I couldn’t remember at lunch. But it was a 2011 Tech Crunch article and they said “WordPress now is powering 22% of all websites that are going live.” Now in fact 2011, I think 2013 that number has done nothing but go up so it could be in the 30s or 40s for all I know now.

DAVID: Right.

KEVIN: But every new website that is created is powered by WordPress. That’s huge. You know, I think back three or four years ago and the pretty fair fight between WordPress, Joomla, Droople, you know, those were all fighting for CMS supremacy and I think the war is over. I think everyone’s going towards WordPress.

I love WordPress. It’s very SEO friendly and I think when you go to the SEO conferences and you hear people talking about website optimization it’s like “Why aren’t you using WordPress? You could do this with the click of a button”, versus having to go through and hand code a template or something like that. So WordPress is going up and up and up. And we see a lot of sites ranking well that use it and that’s not just from a development coding standpoint. But it’s backed up in the search results. Another stat to throw at you is, 15% of the top one million websites that rank are built in WordPress. It’s just – people are going that way. It’s just a great system, I think.

DAVID: I was trying to explain to a client the other day how important a WordPress site could be for her and she – the big takeaway was, she wouldn’t be handcuffed to her web developer forever. Once you build the site, if you ever want to make changes to it you can do it yourself.

She said “I don’t really know anything about HTML, I don’t know anything about coding” and I said “You don’t really have to. Knowing those things can be helpful to enhance a WordPress site, but you can put a Facebook plugin into a WordPress site in about two seconds. Building that into an original piece would be ‘call your web designer, tell him you want a plugin, tell him he’s gonna have to rewrite it, he’s gonna charge you hundreds of dollars’.” Plus all of the SEO plugins. There’s several SEO plugins. Do you have a favorite?

KEVIN: I have a couple. Yost is very popular right now. It takes care of a lot of your title tags, Meta tags; xml site map, your webmaster tools and verifications are all built into that. I also like using the Google Analytics plugin because then it takes all the special – if you want to track outbound clicks and not just internal traffic, that’s all built in to this thing well, so you can do a lot of customization with your analytics through that plugin. Those are the two that I recommend.

DAVID: Let’s back up a little because I’m reminded that this podcast is for newbies; absolutely green business owners. Let’s explain what a plugin is in WordPress.

KEVIN: WordPress, fundamentally out of the box doesn’t have a whole lot of plugins. Like one I use is the Askimet one to keep my comment spam out of my blog. But other than that you’re basically just operating on an add a page, copy paste my content, click publish and then I can add a new blog post. And that’s fun; that’s great. It’s what it’s built for. But you start adding plugins to it and you can start doing a lot of things. You can do an image gallery.

DAVID: Wait, back up. What is a plugin; where do these plugins come from?

KEVIN: WordPress themselves has a site, WordPress.org. Wait; let me back up a little bit more. There’s the website WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The dot com is I can just go set up an account on WordPress.com and start blogging tomorrow. And they host me, they take care of me, they have plugins, I can click plugins, add new, and go from there.

Really, what we like is to have WordPress.org where you download the entire content management system. Install it on your own URL, host it yourself, then go to WordPress.org and then click on extensions or plugins or whatever they call it and go – just do a simple search for SEO plugins. You’ll see a list of probably a hundred. The one I like is built by Yost, I have that one. But you click download and it installs it for you. It’s the click of a button and then you can add more and more features. Like I was saying, there’s an e-commerce extension, there’s photo gallery extensions, and then there’s SEO extensions.

DAVID: And all these plugins are written by independent developers who have uploaded them and a lot of them are free and they kind of hope for a donation. Some of them are paid but I don’t see a lot of those, to be honest with you.

KEVIN: Nope.

DAVID: But really it’s like the whole internet community, all these great minds are creating the pieces of a puzzle that you can just add to your own website without having to hire that brilliant person yourself. This is a brilliant plugin; I’m just gonna add it on to what I’ve got here.

I mean, some real basic examples that our listeners might relate to are a form creator. WordPress itself doesn’t have a nice button you can push to create a form but you can download a plugin and it’ll add a form to your website so people can put their name, phone number and email and it sends an automatic email to you.

So – but the question here is onsite SEO. If 20% of the World Wide Web is WordPress, Google has to create algorithms that understand how to read WordPress. And do you think that WordPress is like the future? Is there gonna be something else? Five years from now – the guy who builds a website right now, five years from now, is he gonna have to build something brand new, from scratch with whatever’s popular five years from now or is WordPress gonna grow with him?

KEVIN: The power of open press software is it’s always going to grow. The development community is so large that it’s going to grow. It’s one of those things where one person drops off and says “I don’t wanna do this anymore” there’s probably a hundred behind him willing to make their own plugins and move on from there. So I think WordPress will keep up.

I don’t think Google cares so much what it is. End of the day, Google comes to your website and they crawl html code. They don’t care that it’s built in Joomla, they don’t care that it’s built in WordPress, they don’t care if you hand coded every single bit of html on the page. They just wanna see good clean code with unique content, and if you’ve optimized it with your titles and your H1’s, even better. But that’s what they care about. They’re not really building their rankings on how did you build your site. It’s the platform that you built your site on, how does it spit out the code. And everybody can go to their browser, right click “view source” and it spits out that html. That’s what Google cares about. The platform behind doesn’t really matter.

DAVID: Good to know. So one of the things we planned on discussing was off page SEO, because if there’s an onsite, on page SEO that implies that there’s an offsite, off page SEO. Let me just tell my side of this real quick and then I’ll get your input.

The off page SEO is really all about links. It’s about how Google looks at what the rest of the World Wide Web is saying about your site. And this happened because back in the day when they guys at Google were in college and they were trying to figure out how to make their search engine different, they looked at the papers. You know, in college there’s all the papers and people refer to other peoples’ papers – they call them citations. They looked at the papers that had the most citations; the most people had referenced those papers. Those were the most popular papers. Those were the best papers. And Larry Page’s concept was what if we can take this to the web? What if we can figure out who’s talking about these websites and we’ll go from there, we’ll figure out who’s most popular based on that. But no one had ever crawled the whole web before.

In fact, I remember reading it in Steven Levy’s book, he talked about the name of the system was called Backrub because it was the first time they were going to try and go backwards from a website. And what they were gonna do was download the whole world wide web onto discs. And he just kept going back to his professor saying “I need more disks. I need more disks. I need more disks.” And they just didn’t realize the kind of data that was out there. But they could crawl all these sites and the result was, they could start seeing how different sites talked about each other. And they could see how the links would go back to a certain website.

And so the website that had the most links were considered the most authoritative or the most popular. And that’s when a little device called Page Rank was invented. And most people think that’s named after the rank of your page but it’s actually named after Larry Page. A little tongue in cheek. And so today offsite SEO continues to be very important but it’s all about those backlinks. And I want to do a whole show on backlinks but I did just want to cover real quickly why on page SEO is called on page SEO when there’s obviously something called off page SEO. Did you want to add anything to that?

KEVIN: No, I think you did a great job on the explanation of how it got its – the algorithm on Google was revolutionary. Its genesis was “We’re gonna be different because we look at links and we’re not just gonna look at the content.” So that ended things like keyword spam and stuffing and all those things; it really did go off that. So yeah. And that was early on, 90s, early 2000s. You can really do a lot with links now. To date this podcast a little bit, we’re in a Penguin 2.0 world now and some of the link strategies that you will probably talk on the next broadcast; we’ll kind of talk about how to build links and what you should and shouldn’t do, but great story there.

DAVID: That’s a perfect segue way because the same things that happened with your keyword stuffing and the Meta descriptions, those happened in the link world. And people abused it when they figured out “Oh, if I just get a million links then I’m gonna be number one!” And they abused it and over the years that abuse continued and Google got smarter and then the link building changed and Google got smarter again. It’s a bit like the radar detector and the radar gun. Here’s a radar gun, here’s a better radar detector, here’s a better radar gun, here’s a better radar detector. And here we are at Penguin 2.0 which the whole point of is to determine good quality links versus spammy garbage links.

KEVIN: Yeah. Can I talk about anchor text for one second?

DAVID: Yeah, definitely.

KEVIN: One of the things we haven’t talked about yet was – anchor text and the radar gun, huge from the external side. From an on page SEO strategy there really isn’t a radar gun. So when you’re talking about having your site optimized and writing good, unique original content, you know, if you have a tier three page, link back up to that tier two category page with good anchor text. You know, if you have a tier two page, link back to your home page with good anchor text for that primary keyword that you want to write for.

So one of the strategies that we didn’t talk about yet with on page SEO is using anchor text within your own website. I don’t think you can over – I mean, there probably is an overdoing it but you could see, wow, that’s really overdone. But as long as you’re thinking about it and doing it, that would be a great strategy as well is internal linking your own website.

DAVID: So what you’re saying is, if a landscaper writes a blog article about preparing your lawn for fall and he links back the words to his page about lawn preparation to a page of his site that’s a little higher up, and where it says “Services”, lawn preparation is one of them, that internal link tells Google “Hey, these kind of talk to each other and they’re relevant to each other.”

KEVIN: Yeah. Exactly. So you link that post back to that service. Then you write a post about stump removal and you link it back to your stump removal services page. Everything needs to kind of have a tie in back to that main service. You don’t just want to write dead end blog posts.

DAVID: Yeah, you want to tell your readers where to go next.

KEVIN: Exactly.

DAVID: Okay, perfect. So onsite creates content though, onsite content creation is still super important. We’ve mentioned blogging. How important is it to keep your site fresh?

KEVIN: It’s very important. It’s one of the most important factors I think, coming out of the Panda era.

DAVID: Whoa, whoa, back up. Panda?

KEVIN: We all know Google came up with two algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin.

DAVID: The next one is porcupine, by the way.

KEVIN: Really?

DAVID: No. I really don’t know!

KEVIN: I thought it was zebra.

DAVID: No, it has to be something that starts with a “P”. Porcupine, it could be – what else could it be? Pottamus? Like hippopotamus? Alright, sorry.

KEVIN: So Penguin really focuses on your off page SEO, your link strategies and what sites point to you. Panda really was kind of the on page. If you had bad, thin, duplicate content sorry buddy but your website is gonna come down off this ranking. That’s the Panda. So what we wanna talk about – what we want to do is talk about – I’ve lost my train of thought.

DAVID: We’re not editing this! No, we’re good. Did the “P” animals throw you off?


DAVID: Alright, let’s talk about content. I’ll take over for a bit. How important it is that the content is robust, fresh, unique. That’s super important! You can’t take someone else’s content and use it anymore and there was a lot of that. And you said something else, thin content. I like that one too because I still see a lot of it. People will write a two or three hundred word blog article and it doesn’t even say anything. Just because someone told them “Hey, you’ve gotta have fresh content on your site!” And they said “Alright, I’ll write another blog article about this!” Or they’ll go find a $17 article that someone wrote and rewrite it themselves. Or they’ll thin the content.

So yeah, onsite content needs to be awesome. It needs to be robust; it needs to tell the user something. Ask yourself, if you read this; are you better off having read it? If not, take that stuff down and put something good up because honestly, there is way too much internet pollution going on. There is so much garbage out there that people are putting on their website for the sake of fresh content that – and it’s gonna make everyone’s lives more difficult, Even Google. They’re trying to figure out what’s garbage and what’s quality.

So that kind of leads us to the next thing we’re gonna talk about which is social signals. And I think social signals are a great way for Google and other search engines and even users to know if this article is worth reading. Does this article have three or four or five comments on it? Well, somebody was interested in it enough to say something about it. If you’re on Yahoo! News you’re gonna see hundreds of comments because those people never shut up.

But you get to a page that is all about plastic surgery and they’ve got an article about tummy tucks and they’ve got an article about weight loss and they’ve got an article about nose jobs. And there’s not a single comment on any of those articles. What’s going on? What is that page all about? That page is just built to sell links or something like that. No one even cares about that content because it’s thin, it’s garbage, it’s crap.

KEVIN: Yeah, it is. Social signals are going to be a huge factor moving forward with Google and the algorithm and all that. So social media and social marketing is not just putting your Facebook status out three times a week and seeing what happens. Putting those buttons on your blog, the share buttons, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

DAVID: Don’t forget Google+.

KEVIN: Google+, sorry, Google+. Don’t forget that! You’ve gotta have those. And that stems into Google authorship and that’s very important as well, so Google+ as well. Those buttons are gonna be picked up on to say, okay, here’s how to make your bed. You’re writing for how to make your bed. Or let’s use your analogy, how to make the best ice cream sundae. Somebody might want to rank for that. So Google goes okay, this post has five hundred words, this post has five hundred words, they’re both pretty well optimized domain authority, all that’s kind of the same. In the near future if not already, they can pick up on this post has twenty Google+ plusses, fifteen Facebook likes and thirty tweets.

DAVID: Or three thousand.

KEVIN: Or three thousand. And this guy’s got zero. What do you think is going to make them rank? It goes back to your citations analogy and the whole reason Google looked at links in the first place; it’s just the evolution of that algorithm.

DAVID: So are social signals the new links?

KEVIN: Some people say yes. Some people say they’re coming, some people say they’re already here. So I think it behooves anybody who’s building a blog or a WordPress site or anything for that matter to put those buttons in, get them going. It can only help you; it can’t hurt you.

DAVID: What happens when people start to game that? You can get on Fiver.com right now and get a hundred people to like your host or hit that Google+ button.

KEVIN: Google’s gonna build a better radar gun, like you said. They’re gonna figure out “Okay, who are those fifteen likes? And are those fifteen likes real people or are those bot people? And on those thirty tweets, do those people have any followers or do they just follow a bunch of people and have a hundred tweets a day?” I mean, those kinds of social signals are in their infancy right now, so I don’t know if Google’s going to commit to make that next radar gun, but it’s important that you don’t try to game it either. I think it’s kind of like going out and getting a thousand links for ten bucks. Stay away from that.

DAVID: I think you could game it like crazy right now; I really do. Because I don’t think Google’s watching for that, I don’t think people are trying to game it enough right now that it’s part of the algorithm. But if you do, it’ll come back and bite you in the ass.

KEVIN: As Google turns up the dial to say “Okay, we’re going to use this as our algorithm” be sure that they’re gonna have that system in place to monitor that. They’re gonna turn those dials at the same time. So yeah, you can game it now –

DAVID: Cause they learned from the whole link building.

KEVIN: But they’re not gonna put it in as a big algorithm factor until they have that secondary – I think that’s the way it’s gonna roll out.

DAVID: Well, if they don’t they need to listen to this podcast. That’s it, right there. Okay. What are some of the things that we would want to consider – we were gonna do – and we’ve covered some of this – but if we were gonna do SEO ourselves. I’m a small business owner, I’ve got a little WordPress page – maybe it’s a big WordPress page – and I don’t wanna hire an SEO. What are some things that I can just do myself, and we might be recapping some of the things we’ve already said?

KEVIN: Well, I just mentioned the Google authorship, which I didn’t really touch on too much. Google+ is not just another social media network. It actually is becoming a lot more for Google. So go on to Google+, get your account, get your pretty authorship photo uploaded, and start telling Google where you are going to author original, great content that they should be concerned with, i.e. your website, your company blog. And that’s gonna be a great DIY tip for you there.

Make sure you kind of own that content. If someone else came along three months later and tried to rip it off, at least you have that anchor of “No, this was my content first.” That’s a good tip. Webmaster tools, again with the plugins on Yost and stuff like that for WordPress, those are already built in. Even if you had to manually do it in your code, get your webmaster tools verifications in on Google and on Bing. They will diagnose problems for you; they will tell you if you have 404 errors.

That’s a big thing that I’m finding today with a lot of my site audits. People have, quote unquote, SEO’d their website, you know, they think they should be ranking. “My content’s good!” But they don’t realize they have 200 broken java script css something is broken in their site because of load spine in their browser but there are some of those hidden elements that Google can kind of tell you about. “Hey, you’ve got some broken links.” Those are great DIY tips.

Also, if you are a local company or service provider, local’s huge too. Get out there and make sure you have – you may say “I don’t want to do Facebook, I don’t want to do Twitter, I don’t care about those.” Get them, claim them, own your name, link them back to your website. If you’re on Yelp, claim your listing on Yelp. Yellow pages, just go out there and claim your listings on your own stuff. That’s the best DIY tips I can give.

DAVID: We’re actually going to do a future show on local SEO specifically so be on the lookout for that.

KEVIN: Okay.

DAVID: I wanted to add to that. I think it’s absolutely vital that people blog or have a news page or something where they add fresh content on a regular basis.

KEVIN: That’s not even a recommendation, that’s just a given for me.

DAVID: But see, there’s so many that still don’t. You’ve got a business owner and they’re like “Well, I don’t have time to do that!” Or they think their industry is too boring to write about. So I really spend a lot of time convincing them, “Hey, you need to write a blog, at least once a week. You know, if you can’t there are resources where you can get somebody to do it for you. But you need to appear the authority.”

You know, if you’re a pediatric dentist you need to be writing articles about how soda and Gatorade rot your teeth. Or at what age your kids should start seeing the dentist. Or when they can start looking to get braces, or whatever that may be. Because those are the things that people actually Google. They may not even Google “pediatric dentist in Kansas City”. They may not even be looking for a pediatric dentist. But they might Google.

I’m a brand new parent, I’ve got a six-month-old or a one-year-old, the teeth are starting to come in and I’d say “When are they even supposed to start seeing a dentist? I don’t remember when I started seeing a dentist!” So you go to Google and say “When should a child start seeing the dentist?” And you have a freaking blog article with that title? You end up showing up for that and “Oh, this guy obviously knows something about that so he’s the guy I’m gonna take my kid to.”

And people forget that users, potential clients, don’t always go looking for a business as much as they go looking for an answer, and blogs give them that. Blogs give them the answers to their questions. So if you’re in a boring business, if you don’t know what to blog about, just write down the ten questions that potential customers ask you all the time. And write the answers to those as your blog articles.

And you’re right; it is a given. If you’re not blogging, shame on you, put your hand up right now. I’m going to give you a virtual slap. Get to blogging, I think, at least once a week. And don’t put in thin, garbage content just because someone said you could blog. Write something worth reading. Give your readers something educational, give them a call to action, make them laugh. You can even write stuff that’s controversial because that gets a lot of social shares too.

So – alright, let’s say that the business owner that’s listening to this says “Okay, I don’t have time to blog, I don’t have time to do html or add a Yost plugin, I don’t have time for that. I’m running a business. I’m going to hire somebody.” Without talking too much about – let’s not make this commercial, obviously, but what should they look for if they want to hire someone?

KEVIN: Right. First thing I would say is look at their past work. If they can provide case studies and tell you, “Look, this is what we’ve done in the past. This is how we’ve helped company X and this is how they’re doing today” and you can go on Google and back it up and say “Yep! That’s where they’re ranking; they must have done good work.” That’s the number one thing. We talked about don’t just go with the guy who’s been spamming off your website the last five years. That guy’s probably not gonna help you.

Also, ask for details in the plan. In the first phone call, probably not. But if you’ve built that relationship, they’ve come back with a proposal and you’re really thinking about going with them kind of nail them down and say “Okay, what exactly is it that you’re going to do?” If it’s not already spelled out and they’re telling you it’s some kind of secret formula special sauce, red flag. Run the other way. There’s no secret juice, secret sauce, secret something out there.

I mean, we’re very transparent at Sweet Spot Marketing. We try to tell you what we’re going to do before we do it. And we partner with you in that relationship. We don’t just say “Trust us, write us a check and we’ll make it happen!” We want you to know what’s going on. That’s another big thing.

And then again, look at their own website; see if they are who they say they are. If they don’t have a blog that talks about the things that we’ve talked about on this podcast about on page SEO then they may just be regurgitating something that they read in a magazine one day and they really are not trying to back it up on their own website. So those are the three things, you know, that I would look for.

DAVID: What about expectations?

KEVIN: Good question. I forgot to mention a lot of empty promises are out there. “We’ll get you ranked at number one! We have guarantees on that!” That’s a red flag. Guarantees are a red flag because Google changes their algorithm, how are they gonna back that up? No one’s going to go out there and say “I can get you number one on this keyword tomorrow.” when Google’s going to change their algorithm tomorrow. They’ve publicly said in the past, they make more than one algorithm change a day.

DAVID: Every day. I know.

KEVIN: So guarantees are a definite run from those people red flag.

DAVID: One of the things that I like to tell folks is that they need to give the SEO agency time. They should not expect SEO results right away. You are not going to get immediate ranking jumps for your main keywords in the first thirty days, sixty days, even ninety days. But at the same time I don’t like long-term contracts. If they are not performing after six months you ought to be able to walk away.

So the guy that asks for a year contract, that is kind of a red flag for me unless it is written out clearly to me. “Your website is dog terrible, and it’s gonna take a year to fix it!” What are your thoughts on long-term contracts? I think if they’re not succeeding, if they’re not showing any progress at all, then you should be able to fire them.

KEVIN: Yep. I think it all goes back to the initial conversations. Expectations are huge. If you get a boilerplate proposal with a boilerplate expectation that’s another red flag. Every time we send out a proposal we try to look at your goals, what we think we can accomplish, and there is kind of that – okay, if you want to rank for the word “shoes”, okay, get in line behind Nike, Reebok, Payless and everybody else because that’s a very competitive term. If you want to rank for “the best pencil sharpening company in Kansas City”, okay, I can probably make that happen pretty quick because there’s no competition for that.

DAVID: Where did you pull that out?

KEVIN: I looked down at my piece of paper and I saw a pen and I thought, “Well, I’ll go with pencil!” So that’s just one of those things that everything should be unique and as a business owner you should probably understand what your goals are. May be hard, may be easy, but the SEO company that you’re talking to should be able to explain that to you. And if they’re afraid to tell you that you’re not going to rank for the word “shoes”, they just say “Sure. Go ahead and write me a check; I’ll make that happen!” then you should probably run the other way.

DAVID: They’re just trying to get a check from you for as long as they can.

KEVIN: Exactly. So yeah, on the long-term contracts I think typically a six month expectation or a six month agreement is probably the average. A year might be too long. Six months – you should have shown them within the first three or four months that “Hey look, I’m already showing you your keyword footprint’s getting bigger, you’re getting more traffic, those keywords you want to rank for are climbing, the long tails are almost there.” So by that six months everybody’s happy and we can go from there.

DAVID: I didn’t mean to suggest that it would take six months. SEO is ongoing.

KEVIN: It’s forever.

DAVID: It is.

KEVIN: Your competition is not going to stop, and if you stop you’re just leaving the door open for them to go around you, so it is a continual race. It’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint.

DAVID: Because when we first got into SEO everyone thought “Well, just SEO my site and I’ll be alright!” not realizing the algorithm changes every day, not realizing your competition is constantly improving their stuff. So yes, for any business owner that doesn’t get that I’m laying it out there. SEO is forever; I’m sorry, but it’s the case.

KEVIN: Blogging is a part of it. If I told everybody to blog for six months and then stop, well then, okay. At this time your content is 365 days old at best and you were starting to wonder why you’re ranking fell? That’s just an on page factor. So definitely want to think long-term for SEO. It’s like any other marketing. You can’t stop running the TV ads, you can’t stop the radio spot, you’ve gotta keep them going to kind of keep your name out there.

DAVID: Alright. Well, we’re about out of time so I’d like to thank you Kevin for joining us. Thank you Kevin from Sweet Spot Marketing.

KEVIN: Thank you Dave. It was my pleasure!

DAVID: Internet Marketing Insights is distributed by AMDG Radio. You can find out more at Blogtalkradio.com/AMDG. The music is provided by my brilliant musician cousin Scotty McBee. Thank you Scotty. And don’t forget you can visit DavidMcBee.com/IMI where you’ll be able to replay this episode, get a recap and even some visual aids. I think for this episode we’ll put in some pictures of some title tags and maybe some of those plugins for WordPress. And of course the contact information for both Kevin and myself will be there; we would love to hear from you on Google+ or Twitter or Facebook or wherever. And that’s about it for us. Thank you for joining us. Now, go do something awesome!


More episodes of Internet Marketing Insights are available at DavidMcBee.com/IMI and we’ll always keep you up to date at Facebook.com/DavidKnowsSearch and Facebook.com/AMDGRadio.

Thanks for listening.

David McBee