SEO with Chase: The top on-page SEO changes for client success
- A Template for SEO Fundamentals
- The Importance of an Opt-In and Building Engagement
- Why Are Engagement and Community so Important in SEO?
- Omnichannel Marketing and SEO
- Moving Away from Content Without a Real Purpose
- Do SEO Basics Still Matter?
- Should You Invest in Links?
- How Can a Local Business Generate Engagement?
Jason: Hi, and welcome to this SEMrush webinar. I'm Jason Barnard, Tristan couldn't make it today, unfortunately, he was ill. I'm filling in, me and my red shirt. And we're welcoming Chase who I've never met before we exchanged emails a wee while ago, now we get to meet, terribly pleased to meet you.
Chase: Thank you, Jason. Yeah, I'm super stoked to be here. I was pretty excited to get on and was a little bit nervous, but I think it'll be okay.
Jason: Oh, I'm sure it's going to be okay. You've just given me a little filler in what you're going to be talking about, and I know it's going to be okay, 100%.
Chase: What we're going to be talking about today, is how you can build reviews, build an audience and build a community that's going to actually support you and help grow your traffic wherever you're trying to rank online.
Jason: I love the idea of views and you're talking about content and what struck me is you're saying, “backlinks; who cares anymore?” You didn't quite say that I'm paraphrasing in a terribly, terribly unfortunate manner, but I agree with you, people going on about links, it bores me senseless. I don't think it's important, it obviously matters, but it isn't the principal thing, and I think that's what you're going to be digging into.
Chase: Yeah, so I mean, a couple of years ago when I really started getting into SEO, I decided, look, I know all these people are doing link building, but for me, it's just not really my thing. I'd rather figure out another way to do this. It seems like I'm going out and asking people for things that maybe aren't going to really help my audience, and I'd rather just work on things that really people can see, things that people can appreciate.
That's why I spend so much time on building templates and building kind of these processes and YouTube videos on my channel so that people can really see value and I can kind of grow my authority naturally.
Again, what I'm going to be talking about today is kind of how can other people build their authority naturally for their clients? What is the best way to get results for your clients? Bringing them into doing SEO, but then giving them an ongoing authority building strategy.
Jason: Yeah, brilliant stuff. I love the thought, you're talking about authority. You're talking about audience, you're talking about engaging content; this is exactly where I'm coming from.
Chase: Yeah, and again, that's kind of where I've always worked towards, is how can I build this natural audience that will support anything I do. If I make a blog post, and let's say, I want to rank that on Google, how can I get a bunch of people over there talking about it naturally, how can I get a natural backlink? How can I get people going and commenting on it so I can get those user-generated comments on my page?
I've never really been the type, again, to focus on a link because I think that is more of a liability, you're worried about what's going on other people's websites, I'd rather worry what's going on in mine.
Jason: Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, love that. Focus on what's going on at home and not what's going on next door. We're going to move right on into it because I'm really excited to hear what you've got to share.
A Template for SEO Fundamentals
Chase: All right guys, so what you're going to see here is a very undesigned template. Now, my specialty has never been in design. I'm not a web designer, I'm not, as you can see, an Excel designer. But I can tell you that the process that I've created with this template is something that I've been able to replicate results with for multiple clients, whether it's on a local level. I’ve been able to rank my own iPhone repair website number one, and I wound up selling it
Just a disclaimer, pretty much everything I ever do for a client is on my YouTube channel. My YouTube channel, I basically do live streams for every client I work on, that way people can see what I'm doing is transparent.
This checklist here, I basically made to kind of streamline what I'm doing. This is like a priority checklist. Again, it's not designed well by any means, but it works very well.
I've pretty much created a checklist where I know if I do these things in order, my clients will basically rank very well and not only just rank, but they'll also be able to build an audience. For me, here's the big thing: if you can't build opt-ins for your website, if you can't get people to go in, if you can't capture your traffic, then what's going to happen, is the people who go to your website, they're just going to leave.
99% of the people who go to your website, they're not going to buy from you. You want to try to build a relationship with them. That's kind of what the new backlink is for me today is, you want to think about how can you build relationships with people online because the people who you build relationships with are the people who are going to promote your brand.
The more you get people talking about your brand, basically the more "backlinks" you're getting.
We’ve got the technical SEO, which is, you're thinking about your analytics, you're thinking about your web design, your page speed, you're thinking about your indexation. That's all things that are going to affect your basic level of SEO. I call this basically, foundation SEO or foundational SEO.
Building your stories has to do more with your content, it has to do with your keyword research, and it has to do with your social strategy or whatever the way is that you distribute your content, could be email, could be ads, could be whatever you want.
But that's basically the two things we focus on at our company. We focus on, again, foundation and then we focus on the content and adding the next stories to it.
With this form, with this spreadsheet, which by the way, it's on my website, I don't want to promote really anything that's paid, this is a free template. First thing I want to do is I want to ask a bunch of questions. Part of being really good at auditing and prioritizing what you're doing with your implementations is being able to ask questions and set expectations.
We just ask basic questions like what's your website URL? Can you get Google Analytics access? What are the top 10 competitors that they can think of? They might not be able to answer all of this stuff, but if they can, great.
You start with analytics. The way this works is when you start auditing a website, all you're really doing is you're putting an X or you're putting a Z. The reason why it's X and Z instead of like yes or no, it's just because it's a faster key to type. What you can do is you can sort at the end from Z to A and you can find all the things that are wrong really quickly.
I go through all these different things. The reason why I do Google Analytics first and Google Search Console is because this is the first thing you really want to know. You want to know what’s their traffic look like? If you're going to go fix their website, you want to make sure that it's being tracked. You don't want to just go fix a bunch of stuff on a website and then not be able to explain, "Oh, look at the website when the traffic went up or it went down."
Reporting is very important because if you can't show the changes that you're making, not just through a deliverable. Because the cool thing about this template, is you can also show people a deliverable, but you can also show them how that deliverable led to a result.
That's also why conversion tracking is so important. There's so many websites out there that aren't able to track their conversions. If you can't show how your SEO is leading to an actual opt-in or a lead, that's bad.
Analytics? Done. Web design; so again, if you don't have a responsive website, if you don't have your basic foundation, you don't have a web designer, if you're not doing the web design, you can test that really easily with the mobile-friendly test on Google, you need to stop here.
It's all prioritized. Again, this is just the basic SEO, this doesn't have anything to do with building authority. It doesn't have anything to do with the stuff we were talking about, like building the reviews early on, that comes after all of this.
A lot of people, what they do is they'll do some keyword research...and then they'll find out that, "'Oh I could rank number one for this keyword." But then all of these other things from a foundation perspective are not set, all of this is just wrecked.
They have a terrible website; that it loads in 30 seconds, they don't have any analytics. Then they're trying to rank clients because they think that rankings are the only thing that really matter, when in reality, SEO is about a lot more than just ranking. It's about being able to generate leads, it's about being able to show what you're doing, it's about being able to set an expectation.
When you really look at SEO from a marketing perspective, you realize that clients care a lot more about the actual relationship. Again, bringing it back to the relationship that you're building with them. You being able to communicate what you're doing by showing deliverables, by showing actual results through this system.
Next we've got technical SEO, so we want to make sure the site redirects the preferred version, we want to make sure there's an SSL certificate installed. Not everything in here is something that Google has said that but I can tell you something like SSL, they have straight out said if you have an SSL certificate, we're going to give you a little bit of a boost. If you have a fast loading website, under two seconds, we're going to give you a little bit of a boost.
Going through here all technical stuff, are we internally linking? Do we have a meta-keywords tag on the page? Are there any broken links? Do we have an XML site map?
Once I do an audit, when it comes to web design, when it comes to page speed, when it comes to citations, when it comes to a lot of stuff, I just pair with other companies that build this stuff well because I want to focus on the customer relationship, I want to focus on building relationships online.
All of these things that you're looking at here, they're all really easy fixes for websites that can really help improve the bottom line of that company. Again, super important to focus on the priorities versus on just a bunch of shiny objects.
I don't want to spend too much time on this audit because I could really dive deep in this and it would take forever, I'm just giving you guys a basic overview, again, of what kind of the foundation should look like.
The Importance of an Opt-In and Building Engagement
After you get all the technical done, once you go through the priority checklist, you really want to think about your opt-in, and this is the most important thing. The first 20 minutes of what we talked about today was the technical. The next 20 minutes, before we go into questions, is going to be the opt-in. This is really where I spend most of my time.
Now, if you see this little notepad I made here, you'll see that I have a weird layout. It's called opt-in->landing page->website. Why would I have it set up like this? The truth is, is if you have no value you're giving your audience that you can frontload with, then your website and your content strategy is going to not be a great strategy. You're just going to be trying to rank for keywords, just for the sake of ranking for keywords.
What I'm getting back to really quick is that most people what they'll do is they won't do their foundational SEO. They won't really do technical. They'll go straight to the keyword research and they'll think, "Okay, I want to rank number one for SEO for estate agents, or maybe I want to rank number one for Santa Barbara SEO expert."
What's going to happen is they're going to go try to build a page, they'll maybe hire somebody for content. They'll hire somebody to build some links and maybe they'll get on the first page. But again, website's going to be slow. There's going to be a bad user experience, but worst of all, they don't have something that I think, again, is the new backlink, which is consistent user signals.
Why Are Engagement and Community so Important in SEO?
Why is engagement and community and as consistent user signals, such a new thing? Why is it such a big thing now? In about five years from now, the Google, and content, and even the social platforms are probably going to be about five times the content that they are right now.
That means the keywords that you're trying to rank for are going to be about five times more difficult. So what are you going to do? Build five times more links? Probably not because at a certain point, as we've been seeing Google kind of prefers to find people that have higher sort of reviews, a higher user base, higher engagement on their posts.
If you use your audience here, you have your YouTube channel, you have your Facebook group, you have the people that go to your blog and they all hit that one thing, what's going to happen is, generally, if you can get people to engage, even if you don't rank number one overnight, you'll probably more than likely start getting recommended in the algorithms, by Google, YouTube, wherever you're at. That's how the algorithms usually work these days is that it's not just a ranking algorithm anymore, it's more of a recommendation algorithm.
That's why you'll see on your search console sometimes you actually pop up to number one from nowhere. For one day, you'll go from position 400 to position one, you'll get like four clicks that people will be like, "Why did that happen?"
It's because Google and these other platforms, they see engagement, they see authority, they see user metrics and they go, "Ooh, let's try to match the person that just engaged with that thing to the next person that's similar."
You'll see a lot of websites that have large audiences, not just on their website, but on other places like YouTube, wherever, they will generally have very high organic traffic, and they'll have traffic, not just on their website, they'll have traffic on other platforms. Which is very important because if you only have traffic on one platform that is a major liability.
You don't want to just only think about Google. What happens if you get hit tomorrow by an update? You don't have to worry because now you have a massive YouTube channel and you can start repairing that traffic with your audience. You don't have to focus on things that you can't control.
If you have an audience of 30,000 people versus a backlink count of 30,000, what's going to happen is if you get hit, those backlinks, you can't go and message every single person and say, "Hey, please go change this for me." However, if you have a YouTube channel and you have 30,000 people on it and you go, "Hey guys, I just made a new blog post on this new website, that's not hit by an update, go over there and engage with the content, go leave me some reviews, go leave me some engagement." That is something that you can continually control. It's traffic that you can actually control.
Again, remember how I said the internet is going to be five times the size it was before in five years? If you realize that, then what's going to happen is content is going to be so available. When you build opt-ins, when you build an audience, you can use that audience as a way to build engagement.
One of the things that I do very well, actually, Jason, you brought this up earlier, Google my business, if you search my name, James Reiner, you'll see, there's like 560 five-star reviews. If you look at some of my other places as well, you'll see some of my Facebook posts have like 500 comments, a thousand comments.
Anything that I do, I give away value. Right now, anybody who gets my checklists if they go and download it, what will happen is they'll be taken to the checklist, they get it and about four hours later, I'll have an autoresponder message them and say, "Hey, could you leave a review on the checklist I gave you?"
I focus so much on them opting in and leaving the engagement because the more engagement I get on something, the higher chance it's going to rank. When you're building your content, once you understand what your opt-in is, building your content's a lot easier.
What I'm going to be looking for is things that are actually going to lead to that actual opt-in, the thing that I'm giving away that's the most value for my company. A good example would be if I just type anything with audit, okay, cool, we got SEO Audit we've got over 223 different suggestions over here, tools, free SEO Audit, audit checklist, technical SEO Audit. These are all things that I can build as content for the actual relationship that I'm building.
As you guys can see, I'm not concerned about rankings as much as I am building the value upfront to give to people on any platform I'm on. Then I build the content around it.
Most content online doesn't have a purpose except to sell. And most people, again, are not going to buy from you unless you get them to opt-in to a relationship first. Once you get them to do that, then you can trade them for engagement. That's pretty much the basis of this.
Omnichannel Marketing and SEO
Jason: I'm really keen on the way you're presenting this and the idea that relationships is the new link. Looking at SEO from a marketing perspective and thinking it isn't just on my site that I need to create content. I need to create content that engages my audience, who, interestingly enough, is simply a subset of Google's users.
And I want Google to recommend, and you use that word, I love that too, recommend my content. But you also push that out further than I've been pushing it. YouTube recommends, Facebook recommends.
Chase: The more you can focus on sort of omnichannel marketing these days I've found the better you can rank.
You're almost kind of hacking the system in a way because what happens is when people are focusing on SEO, they're generally just thinking about one thing they're thinking about Google.
But when Google thinks about you as a brand, they're not just thinking about themselves, they're thinking about how are you viewed as a resource, as something that people actually have an end goal of getting by how they're searching for you, by how they're engaging with your website, by how they're talking about you online.
I could have very little backlinks, but if I'm consistently getting user signals, hundreds, if not thousands of signals every single day, my rankings go up. It doesn't just go up in one place, it goes up on the YouTube video, it goes up on the Facebook posts. It goes up anywhere that I'm participating in and promoting what I'm doing.
Jason: Obviously, we want to rank in Google and Google's the big player in terms of actually getting people to the site and converting. But if my marketing strategy reaches out to audiences on all these different channels and I can communicate that, which is exactly what you're saying, communicate that engagement to Google, Google will pick it up and go, "Brilliant, this is a great thing to recommend to my audience."
Moving Away from Content Without a Real Purpose
Chase: Well, and the other thing, Jason, is that content without a purpose is generally what you find online. When you're searching for anything really, and you go and click on a result, most of the time, you can almost tell that the content was written for the purpose of ranking.
When you're trying to rank something, what you see most SEOs do is they're only trying to rank. They spend so much time having the perfect webpage, having the perfect keyword strategy, having the perfect content, but then they don't have the perfect solution.
When you actually think about what people want, they really just want a solution where they can go in and they go, "Hey, yeah, maybe this post is a decent post, but what I really want is I want to know what to actually do, and here's the step by step checklist for that."
When you spend your time on the actual end result, the thing that people actually care about, whatever that actual opt-in is, it doesn't matter how you get people to opt-in, it just matters that you're building a relationship with them that's a positive experience.
I've spent so much time on things like this top checklist to give away as much value for free, or doing all my videos for much free value as possible so that by the time somebody is talking to me, they're already like, "Hey, Chase, how do I sign up?" I'm not even trying to offer them in. If you can give them something that's valuable, they will trade that back.
For instance, if you give them a checklist that they think is really awesome, they're going to, more than likely, most of the time, leave you a review or do whatever you ask them for because they're going to feel like you helped them out.
Jason: Brilliant, and so engagement generates engagement. And I love the idea of saying, "Okay, I'm attracting these people, If I can sell, that's great. But in fact, the worst-case scenario is I’m getting free engagement which helps all the channels because that engagement will generate engagement."
Chase: Yes, and most of the time, the engagement's not even just going to be engagement. What you're doing is, you're also taking somebody that's in one place, let's say, they're getting your checklist off of Google and then they're going over and subscribing to you on YouTube.
The thing that's really great about that is when you're getting people from one platform to the other, the more they see you on multiple platforms, the higher chances that they're going to not only recommend you naturally, but they're also going to want to buy from you.
The point I'm trying to make here is that when you build these audiences, you focus on the audience. These people are going to help you naturally grow, not just by you supplying the content and the opt-ins, but they're going to go and actually recommend what you're doing, they're going to go talk about it with other people, they're going to help invite other people in.
You really focus on the community rather than the link or whatever the end result is, whatever the ranking is. If you focus on the actual community that you're building, that community is going to actually really help you in the long haul, they're going to help promote whatever it is you're trying to do.
It doesn't matter how you build the audience, it just matters that you build an audience that cares about what you're actually doing, and what you're providing them, and that you're not just focused on the sale, you're not just focused on, "Oh, here's my next course, or here's my next thing I'm trying to sell you." You want to really front load those relationships with as much value as possible, and that's the brands that really win.
Do SEO Basics Still Matter?
Jason: We've got questions about, “can I have the same H1 as a meta tag, as a meta title? Should I be looking at keyword density?” Are these things important at all in your world or do you not care at all?
Chase: No, definitely. I mean, there's a lot that goes into the checklist from the foundation that I could have gone on and on for hours about. What's the best way to optimize the title tag? Do you put your keywords to the left of the title tag and then you put some sort of qualifier to the right? Do you have your H1 match what your title tag is?
Whenever I think about this stuff, it always comes down to the user. You want to just match the expectation, that's what SEO is really about, that's what marketing is really about. It's figuring out what people are expecting to get, even with your content when people somebody is going to be getting your content, you don't want to just be somebody that's just doing content just for the sake of doing content.
You want to think about if I'm doing this content, what's the best thing I can give these people with this content? Is it just information or is there some sort of solution that I can actually forward them to?
Should You Invest in Links?
Jason: Coming back to backlinks, Ron Holst was asking right at the beginning that his organization is paying for backlinks, they're buying 10 per month and they're looking at domain authority. Do you think that's now something that's completely dead, is it a pointless exercise?
Chase: I'm careful about this because I know a lot of people do build backlinks and I'm not saying that links aren't a ranking factor. I'm not saying that you shouldn't go and try to rank on Google.
What I'm saying is that when you focus on the link, you kind of lose the person in a way. And so, for me, whenever I thought about link building. I remember I tried it a couple of times when I first started and I just felt like I wasn't really helping anybody.
My opinion is that if you could spend the money that you're spending on backlinks and actually use that to build relationships with somebody on a greater level, let's say you took that money that you're building backlinks with instead of you spilled some sort of micro tool that really helps somebody, that tool's not currently out there or something.
I mean, even if you look at SEMrush, you look and see what they're doing with the traffic estimator, you look and see what they're doing with the content gap I showed you guys earlier. You look at all the free value they're giving away. I mean, they even have a free trial.
I think if you could stop spending as much time thinking about rankings and actually thinking about the person, the end-user that's when it really becomes a smart marketing strategy, not just from an SEO level but from any level.
It used to be back in the day that you build some links, you build some content, you put some keywords in your meta keywords tag and you'd went and ranked very well. These days if you can really build an audience and get these people to really vouch for you by doing reviews, by doing all the signals that really matter, your company is just going to blow up. And that's why I would much rather focus on that than links.
How Can a Local Business Generate Engagement?
Jason: Brilliant stuff. And interesting question from Jonas Lund, it's great saying all that to create great content that helps our users, wonderful. But if I'm a local plumber, what can I possibly create?
Chase: And so, again, it's kind of almost changing your mindset of like, "Well, if I'm a local plumber, I only need local plumbing clients. Why would I target anybody else?" But the truth is that you don't have to be helpful just on a local level where you're just selling to people, think about anybody that could use your help with like maybe some plumbing advice. Maybe people are searching on YouTube. They're like, "Hey, how do I fix my sink or whatever?"
When you actually focus on what people need, which is real help, most people search for help before they search for a buy, they want to figure it out themselves. So if you can be the person that really helps people say, "Hey, here's how you do it, you just do this, same thing with my checklist, here's how you guys do it."
I heard a while ago that somebody said, "You really spend time helping other people's dreams come true and then your own dreams end up coming true." That's really been the case for me because I've spent so much time trying to help other people that all these people now are willing to vouch for me.
Jason: Brilliant stuff, yeah. Kind of what I've been hearing is your audience is your biggest asset, which is something you said earlier on, that audience vouchers for you by engagement or reviews or just coming to your site or wherever it might be. Then Google will then recommend you because it can see that you're looking great.
That was an absolutely amazing Chase, that was a brilliant, brilliant webinar. I love your approach. I'm 100% on board with you. Thank you very much. We've done an hour.
Thank you to the audience for joining and thank you for your amazing questions because it really did make the second half even better if I might say something than first half, sorry to insult you, Chase, because the first half was already brilliant. I love the idea that you can do an entire presentation with a Google spreadsheet.
Chase: Awesome, well, thank you guys for having me, follow our engagement and discussion, anybody that leaves a like would really appreciate that and I'll see you all very soon.