You're blogging - check. You're doing your keyword research and focusing on competitive keywords - check. You're optimizing all of your blog posts for SEO - check.
You're probably doing all of the above, but you're still not ranking in Google - why?
That is exactly the situation I was in until I embarked on doing some research. And from that research, I have come to some conclusions.
The final frontier of SEO and ranking in search engines is in generating backlinks. And if you want to generate backlinks you need to be proactive in doing so.
This episode will hopefully be an eye-opener for you as I introduce my own research and methodology so that you can maximize your own social influence.
Episodes Mentioned in the Show:
[02:46] The Three Pillars of Digital Marketing That Every Company Needs
[03:24] Site Usability and Interface
[04:52] Three Areas I Recommend To Rank for Your Blog Posts
[06:00] Understanding Keyword Research
[07:34] The Primary Purpose of Blogging
[10:12] All About Backlinking
[12:47] How to Do A Backlink and Domain Authority Analysis
[13:29] Ways to Get Backlinks
[14:52] Three Different Areas Where High Domain Sites Get Backlinks
[17:51] What Does Linking Out Do?
[18:30] Blogging Outreach
[23:45] What Is A Link Swap?
[25:26] Why You Need to Focus On Your Site's Influence
[29:25] Paid Approach
Reference Links for Neal Schaffer:
Yes, you're blogging. But are you ranking? Yes, you might be ranking. But how do we rank even higher? I believe based on my own experience, the way to truly rank higher on Google is through what I'm going to teach you today. Stay tuned for the next episode of the maximize your social influence podcast. Welcome to the maximize your social influence podcast with Neal Schaffer, where I help marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners grow their businesses using innovative marketing techniques, leveraging the concept of digital influence throughout digital and social media. Hey everybody, Neal Schaffer here. Welcome again to the podcast. We're on episode number 183. If I sound a little bit different, it's because I should as promised from my last episode, I safely made it here to Tokyo Japan. I am here on two week quarantine. So I am self quarantine in my well in Japanese standards. It's actually not too bad but in western standards, it's like a studio apartment in Manhattan. But I got a little refrigerator, a little microwave oven, even a little washer dryer combo unit. So you know I have everything I need. And guess what I brought my Tascam portable audio recorder with me. And here we are. So I literally just got here yesterday. It's just I'm literally sitting here in the hotel room obviously recording this raining outside. Interesting upon arrival of there was a though it's kind of anti Gen Coronavirus test that I had to take where you need to spit out a lot of saliva, which was very difficult after being dried out from and dehydrated from a long airplane flight. And of course before that, within 72 hours, I had to take a PCR Coronavirus test. And then before that, I actually had to ask the Japanese Consulate for permission to go to Japan. Because right now, not everybody's allowed in, I have visa status here, which is why I was able to come. So let's move on to the subject of today's podcast. Now this is going to be another one about blogging. But obviously we're going to talk about the SEO and I want to talk about something I've been promising you if you've been an avid listener that I would talk about, and now's the time, today's the place. So as you know, and as I hopefully over the next two weeks make progress in my next book. We need to be digital first as companies. And this means if you see me speak, you've probably seen the slide of mine that has three, you know recreational vehicle RV camper cars, on a cliff by the ocean, it comes down to search, email, and social. Those are the three pillars that every company needs for digital marketing. So today we focus on the search side. And if you've heard me talk before, one of my favorite podcasts is the blogging Millionaire podcast by Brandon Gailey, I'll link to in the show notes, but I highly recommend you check it out. He talks about blogging, if you want to get really good at SEO blogging, he talks about three really, really critical things. Now I'm going to add in a fourth, because Neil Patel, another excellent podcaster. And overall marketer talks about a fourth one. So let's start with the fourth one, because this is critical, it's part of your infrastructure, you need to have a certain usability of your site in order to rank. So in addition to your content, and all the other linking factors, obviously, you need to have a site that displays on a mobile device, obviously, you know, from a usability perspective, it has to have a minimum type of speed performance. So speed and mobile usage are really two key things that Google continues to talk about, and we believe continues to be looked at in an important way to become heavier weighted with each update of the search algorithm. So it goes without saying that you really need to start there. And I tell you, if you haven't done it, you know, I recommend my customers every year to just look at the user interfaces of other of their competitors of other web sites. And undoubtedly, if you haven't been if you haven't been revising your site, you haven't revised your user interface in a while, you're going to notice some differences. So there's some easy ways to find how you can make your website from a usability perspective, more compliant to where it is today. There's additional usability things we could talk about, I believe it's something called ADA compliance where even people that can't hear or can't see need to be able to use your site. That's going to notch it up an entirely different level. This is something that's recently been passed from what I understand, but this episode we're going to stick to from an SEO perspective, a look at your blog content. So we have the visibility. Then we have we get into the traditional three areas that I recommend in terms of being able to rank for your blog posts. The first is keyword Research and, man, I see just so many blogs fail at this. You wonder why you do a search? And you're like, why is this post even ranking for for this, it's it's not a lot of content, it's bad content well, they've done their homework. And they know what needs to be done. In order to rank from a keyword perspective, they look for keywords that are competitive, that are relevant to their site that they feel they can rank for. And many companies do do this right. Once you have authority in Google's eyes on certain subject matter, you can rank very quickly, I've seen top 10 search results, I've seen pages with authority rank, in a matter of a few days, like rank number four. Recently, I witnessed this. So even on my own site, I've noticed that I can rank not necessarily top 10. But definitely, with those areas in which my site has authority, I've been able to rank pretty quickly, at least on the second page, and obviously, I'm hoping to rank more on the first page for more and more keywords. So that's the first thing before even writing blog content is to understand the keyword research. It starts with the keyword research for your website, you have one main page, what is the title? What is the description? What are the keywords you're targeting, then it falls into your major, you know, pages that are in your menu. And then there's all those other keywords that you want to rank for that are related to your products or services, right, you can only rank for so many keywords, if you just have a few pages of content. And that's really where the role of blog content, it has many other uses, obviously, but really, that is the way in which you can go to rank for more and more keywords, instead of just trying to rank for the top five or 10. You try to rank for the top 50 100 200 Really. And even more really, depending on how many people are searching for keywords related to your product or service. If you're very niche b2b, it's going to be very different than if you're targeting a major consumer sector, where there's just a lot of people searching for keywords and related keywords. So once we have the keyword research done, we then write out our blog content. And the blog content is written out, SEO optimized and optimized for those keywords that we did in our research. I know it seems kind of weird. But when you're blogging, yes, there is a social media audience that you're going to share your blog to. And you are probably going to share your blog to your newsletter as well, perhaps through a daily update through RSS, or maybe in your weekly or monthly newsletters. But really, the primary purpose of blogging is for the audience that are searching for information on search engines, primarily Google, it took me a while to really grasp and internalize that point. And I think it takes a lot of people while as well, because we feel like oh, this is something important. We need to talk about it. We just we write a blog post, we put it out there. Yes, we may get some traction and social Yes, it might get shared Yes, we might get some comments. But at the end of the day, the traffic is here and gone. I have noticed that I've had a blog since 2008. Every year, overwhelming majority of traffic comes from Google, it is a marathon not a sprint. I don't expect traffic overnight for my blog posts. I do expect traffic over long term, as they hopefully rank higher and higher and surpass those that have worse content than mine, or perhaps those that have less or worse authority on the subject or just domain authority in general. Now, that's pretty much where I have been is at you can call it stage number three of a four part sort of series of how to rank higher in search engines. And that's where I've been stuck, because I believe that through my content and those of my contributors, we have certain guidelines, I personally am now reviewing 100% of the content. I used to have someone that worked under me that was an editor, but I decided that just these SEO aspects were so important to my site, I wanted to really take full control, at least for now, who knows what'll happen in the future. But it really came down to not just the SEO optimization really looking at every single link, not just internal links, but External links to did every single link, add value to my reader, and did every internal link add value to my reader as well. So, you know, I write content. It's keyword optimized, and yet, my rankings are still limited. Right. And I know a lot of you have gone through the same thing. I've had clients that, you know, they write content, and some of it doesn't even get indexed by Google, you literally do a search. If you don't know how to do this do site, colon, your domain name.com space, and then put the title of your blog post into quotes and do a search on Google. And if your post doesn't show up, you're not being indexed. And this is what recently happened to one of my clients and I talk about this on episode number 177, the 11 blogging mistakes that your business might be making. So, now we get to step number four. Step number four, is all about backlinking. Right? If Google once your content your website to be seen as having more authority, it expects that others would link to it. Right? It makes sense. You're you're part of the world wide web. It's like being in a room of, you know, the population of the earth and talking and no one's listening. But when people are linking to you, it means that they're listening, and they're paying attention. And as more and more people pay attention to what you say, you theoretically should get more links back to your property. And therefore Google sees you have a lot of authority. This is why Wikipedia pretty much ranks number one for most of the keywords for which it has pages, it makes complete sense. So this is an exercise that you should all go through, find one of your competitors or find multiple competitors, but I really recommend you find one competitor. Use an SEO tool, the three leading tools, you know that I use sem rush, but there's also Moz, there's also R refs. There are other tools out there as well, every SEO er has their own favorite tool, I prefer sem rush, sem Rush has a backlink analyzer, type in your competitor. Now your competitor should have a higher domain authority from you, and ideally get more search traffic than you. Once again, this is something that sem Rush has a domain analyzer, which gives you a domain authority number Moz, Sc, Rs, they all have their own numbers. This is sem Russia's own number. And based on their analysis, they also estimate how much traffic that these sites get from search engine. So it's it's really fascinating to look at your competitor, see how much traffic they get from search engines, and what keywords that they rank high for that probably drive this traffic all available in the tool. It's amazing. But we're going to look at the backlinks, we're going to look at the backlink analyzer. So you can find all the sites that have linked back to your competitor, you can find all the sites that have linked back to you, I highly recommend you go through this process. Sem rush allows you to download the entire list in a spreadsheet. Do it download it, now you download your competitors list in a spreadsheet, you're now going to sort by domain authority in descending order. In other words, I think that every website naturally is going to get some links. And in general, the links you get are from sites that have domain authority lower than yours, it's almost like a pyramid the higher the domain authority is, the fewer the site's there are, the harder it is to get that backlink. So we're going to do a little analysis as to take your domain authority in SEM rush, like in Moz. It's like a 74 or something but an SEM rush, the domain authority for Neal schaffer.com. And I'll I'll just do a a refresh just to see if it hasn't changed overnight. But it should be a 55 Oh, and guess what my domain authority actually dropped one to 54 That's not good. Okay. We're now looking look into that. But I basically chose one competitor that had a higher but similar authority score to me and that was getting more organic search traffic than me and looking at where are they getting backlinks from? Now, the other way to approach it is what a lot of bloggers say hey, if you want to get backlinks, register and directories you know, guest appear on podcasts, I don't recommend your guest appear on podcast just for backlinks. But it is a way to to receive a backlink in many cases, subscribe to Harrow Help a Reporter Out There are lots of opportunities for you to interview and therefore, you know, potentially get a link back to your sites, you know, reach out to other websites when they're looking for, you know, the these roundup posts, perhaps you can apply to become a guest blogger. And I think guest blogging is really one of the great ways to naturally acquire backlinks when most websites when you guest blog will allow you to link back to your website. But I took the other approach. Anything that this website is creating backlinks from they may be doing a lot of that but I want to see what are the exact links coming from what domains written by who are actually giving them this link juice, right. So in descending order of a domain authority, I juxtaposed their results with my results. Now, there was some high domains 70s 80s 90s that I was getting backlinks from that they weren't but obviously there were a lot more where they were getting backlinks from that I wasn't. And what was really interesting was when I dug a little bit deeper into those exact sites. Now as I suggested, what I saw were three different areas where they were getting the majority of the backlinks Number one, yes, definitely being a guest on podcast not as frequent of a guest as I've been recently. But, you know, having your own podcast and being a guest on a podcast, a podcast generates a heck of a lot of links. Once you register your podcast and all these directories, and you let them know that the website for the podcast is your website. This alone generates a lot of high domain authority links. And, of course, once you guest on other podcasts, that it creates links from those as well. So podcasting definitely was one area in which this site was getting a lot of backlinks. The second area where they were getting a lot of backlinks was guest blogging, they were doing an incredible amount of guest blogging. You know, there have been times where people say guest blogging is dead, and what have you, when you guest blog for a relevant website on a relevant topic, like you're part of one of these four fee coaches counsels on Forbes, or you, you know, you guest post on a blog, like Neal Schaffer calm or other similar blogs out there. Yes, guest blogging is not dead, it is very valuable to the website that is hosting your blog to you as having an authority on the subject and to the reader. So when done, right, guest blogging is extremely impactful, and can really help the SEO of your own blog posts that you link to, assuming that you are allowed to link to them. And this is gonna be different, obviously, for every single website that you might guess blog for. On a side note, you're gonna have to excuse the clink of the spoon in my coffee cup, I don't have my espresso machine with me here in Japan. So it's drinking instant coffee and constantly stirring it to make sure it's fully dissolving those frozen crystals. But anyway, so the third area where there were a lot of things was really, really interesting. This is where they were not guest blog posts, and they were not related to podcasts. But this website was just getting a lot of links. Now, on some of this, I have a theory. When I'm blogging, and I want to link outside, I'm looking for some resource, you do a Google search, you see what's in the Google search results. You go to the first page, you open up a bunch of links, you look you find the perfect article that you source from, and then you add the link, meaning that once you get to the first page of Google search rankings, especially when you're in the top three, you naturally get backlinks from other articles linking to you, because you're literally the first resourceful content that they find on the subject. We all know that linking out is very important. I'm going to give a shout out to Cyrus Shepard who is on my podcast. He is an advisor at Moz. He was on my podcast several episodes ago. But I want to point out, you should definitely listen to episode number 160 as well, where I interviewed him. And I sort of you know, I sort of attacked that notion that you need to freely link out. But you know, what he said was that based on a lot of analytics, those posts, those websites that link out a lot, tend to perform better in search engine rankings. So this is what fuels a lot of people linking out. And guess what, if you're high in Google Search, you're going to get more and more backlinks, which I think explains why sometimes you find very old and not so good content up there. But they've just amassed so many backlinks that and you know, as soon as people go to the content, so long as they're staying on the site, they're not bouncing quick enough, then Google just remains, you know, they let those rankings sit. So I then did a further analysis, man, there were probably like 300 different domains, which this website had links to that I didn't, that were above my domain authority, which now is 54, but at the time was 55. So I really focused though, on sort of, in the 90s 80 7060. There weren't really that many in the 90s. But what I noticed was really interesting. There were a number of sites where they were linking to an article from this other website, as if it was an authority on the subject. And as I was looking through a lot of these websites, I realized that some of them were the same writer. In other words, the same writer was guest blogging on a number of different sites. And on each of those, I'm sure that the guest blogger does it doesn't do it every time. But there were definitely several occasions where there were multiple writers that were embedding links back to this book blog post on multiple sites. Now, we all know that a lot of companies outsource content creation. We also know that a lot of companies invite guest bloggers. So what you have now is an entire industry. In freelance writers, sometimes these freelance writers write content, they're basically ghost blogging, and the website uses the content without using their name. That's one way of doing it. But a lot of freelance writers are actually guest blogging on other sites, I get a lot of freelance writers that have guest blogs on my site, I'm not going to name names, and probably some of them right now as well. But what happens is that these freelance writers put in whatever links they want, obviously, they link back to their own freelance writing. And some of them have their own content marketing agencies or their own, you know, marketing agencies. So the link back to themselves. But obviously, it's best practice to do a lot of external SEO links. And unless you look carefully, you might miss the fact that some of those links might be unnatural. So this is where I have come to the conclusion. And I've seen this person, this person's website, I should say, do really, really well on a lot of different rankings. And I noticed that those rankings that do well tend to have these backlinks coming from other authoritative paid of sites, some are through guest blogging, some are through podcasting, don't get me wrong, but a lot of them are coming from other writers that are linking to their site. Now, it could be that once again, the contents appearing high in search engine rankings, and therefore it is a natural link. But when I see the same author, on multiple sites, linking in multiple articles, and guess what I saw a few different authors that were doing this, I came to another conclusion that we talked about influencer marketing, for, obviously, social media. But guess what? Influencer Marketing exists in blogging as well, it exists in SEO, because a lot of companies probably reach out to you if you're a blogger, to try to get a link to your site. So I have so many people, I can't tell you how many on a daily basis, either asking for a backlink, or hey, here's an infographic we created. And by the way, the guest Oh, graphic approach is something that this website did as well, in which they're getting a lot of ranking. So maybe that's a fourth that I should add, because I definitely saw that. And that's why infographics have value from an SEO perspective, if you do the outreach, right. And a lot of people who do this will say, hey, I'll write you a 300 to 500 word post, if you publish, you know, the infographic and a lot of, you know, website owners looking for content, say great, but I really want to focus in on the relationships, the relationships between these freelance writers or just, you know, webmasters or writers from other websites, and you, so you can actually, you know, do this backlink analysis, find a lot of websites that are linking back to your competitor not to you, if they are blog content, pay attention to the writers. And when you see a writer on different sites have multiple backlinks, you know, I would assume that they have a relationship with that content creator. Now, this is what a lot of content marketing agencies do, they don't just write the content for you, they do outreach for you to get links onto other sites. And now what you have is you have agencies, you have writers, they write for many sites, they're generating backlinks from other sites, and they can help you get content backlinks back to your own site. And this is the reality of SEO in 2020. No matter how many times Google tries to crack down if your contents good. And I think it would be impossible to get like a million things overnight. So if it's done in a natural, organic way you're serving, at the end of the day, the reader looking for information, and hopefully your information is better than your competitors. And this increases the chance that they find your information. And it's a win win, win win. So it's something I really want you to think about. And here's the other thing. There are things if you have your own website, you've probably had similar requests, not only people requesting a link, but saying hey, do you want to do a link swap. And a link swap is basically saying, hey, all link to your website, if you link to mine, it's really funny. I remember in the very, very early days of my career as a marketing consultant, I went to a marketing conference, and Arne Quinn, great guy, CEO of a marketing agency called vertical measures. This is man back in 2009 to 2010, he literally at the end, saying backlinking is good for everybody, I want you to you know, I'm going to I'm going to give up these cards. If you want me to link for my website to yours. You know, I'm going to put it down there, all you need to do is link back to mine. And we'll increase each other's SEO. And that was in the wild days of SEO, I think that Google has gotten smarter, and they've looked at a lot of reciprocal links. And a lot of SEO experts will now say beware of reciprocal links. Google will not find any value in them or in fact may penalize you if they see a lot of them. But you know, it was actually an interview I did with Andy Crestodina. And I'm going to link to his book content chemistry. One of the 10 books I brought to Japan, by the way to read over the next two weeks his life This edition, so make sure you're following me on Instagram, I'll link it up in the show notes as well. So you can see all the action, see what the other nine books are. And in my conversation with Andy, he says, Look, reciprocal linking is natural, it's natural that you create relationships with other websites. And over the course of time, you find content on their site that you want to link to, and they find content on your site that they want to link to, it really is natural, so I wouldn't worry too hard about it. But here's the thing. I write about this in the age of influence how the more influence your your businesses, the easier it is to engage with influencers. And this is the same case, because when you when your site has more influence, right, it becomes easier to guess blog. And it becomes easier when other sites want to do a link swap with you, if you want to do this. Right? It becomes easier to actually negotiate for links of a higher domain authority, because you have a higher domain authority, you're giving them more Google juice, and they need to do that in reciprocal. And the other thing that happens here is because these are writers or agencies that write for numerous websites, it's not going to look reciprocal. Right? And with you, or your website begins to guest blog for other sites as well. You don't even have to offer a link from your own site, you can offer it by linking to one of their authoritative posts when you guest blog and another site. And this, my friends, we're not trying to dupe Google. Although it may sound like it, I suppose you know it. We're trying to create backlinks in a natural way. But we're adding a component of proactive collaboration to try to generate more and more backlinks from strategic websites. I think that Well, you may say Neil doesn't violate Google's policy, you know, we backlink for a lot of reasons. Like I said, I have gone out of my way to backlink to friends websites, because they were my friend. Now, does that violate Google policy? No. So when you create relationships with other websites, right, and you create relationships with other agencies and freelance writers, those links come as a natural byproduct of those relationships. And that's something I want you to think about, because I have already seen, and I've began this approach. And I've already seen results for those competitive keywords that I really want to rank higher for. I already begin to see some results. I'm still very, very, very, very new and very, very fresh. And I think it takes a lot of links to see massive results. But I know that with every new Backman generated, I know it's going to help my site rank for more and more things and get higher and higher domain authority. That is something I've definitely seen. I have 400 Something blog posts. And if you listen to some of my other SEO related podcast episodes here, one of them was very, very recent about how to optimize your content publishing on your blog in social media. And another one was actually done last year, I believe. And it was episode number 137. How to optimize your blog posts for higher search engine rankings and stay ahead of the competition. So every blog post has a keyword. And I divide my blog, as I mentioned in that episode number 181, how to optimize your content publishing your blog and social media, I divide into several categories. And for each category, I have a number of keywords that I target. So what I have noticed is that for the let's see here, well, I'm actually targeting 546 keywords. So I'm going above and beyond the 400 blog posts, because I don't have a blog post for every keyword yet. But for the first time, I was ranking in the top 100 for 200 of those keywords in other In other words, there were 200 blog posts or 200 different keywords for each of my blog posts or my pages were ranking for. And that, for me was a first. And that is what I would like to attribute this strategy. Although it's still very, very early to to come to conclusion. I've also been blogging weekly, and even twice a week on some weeks for the last several months, perhaps that is helping as well. But regardless, I have seen in helping and I do know from the backlink analysis of my competitor that it does work. Now one last thing I want to say is once you begin working, or I should say creating relationships with content marketing agencies, or freelance writers, there is an organic approach, which is sort of this link swap approach. And there is also a paid approach. And undoubtedly, there are companies that are actually paying these writers for their time to write them content that's going to appear under the freelance writers name, but that generates a strategic backlink back to their site. So I'll leave you with that. There's a whole hidden A world of backlinking out there, my friends, it's taken me a while to find it myself, and to take a look at it in a very, very different way. But if you really want to take that SEO aspect of hearing and search to the next level for those keywords, you need to have a backlink strategy as the fourth pillar of these things you need for SEO. And you really need to think about this influencer marketing approach this relationship centric collaborative approach to backlinking. That is another way of generating backlinks. I'm not saying you have to do that. There's other ways of doing it. I plan to be doing a lot more guest blogging myself. But it is another area that a simple competitors analysis will yield a lot of clues for you. Alright, everybody, I hope you enjoy today's episode of the maximize your social influence podcast. As always, I really appreciate when you take a minute out of your day to actually not just subscribe to this podcast. But to actually write a comment I noticed the other day that we cracked the top 100 in marketing podcast for the United States market and apple and for you. I'm grateful, you know with every subscription every comments, or I should say not comment, but you know, review. I'm thinking blog posts comments, but whatever review on every podcast site, it really does help in the algorithm, more people to discover my podcast by showing it higher in the rankings. So I just want to give a shout out to Don Loper who recently posted on Apple podcasts and review of the maximize your social influence podcast, have known Neil for several years I've seen him speak in person read his books, and have now been a guest on his podcast when it comes to influence. He's one of the leading voices who understands it's not just standing in front of a Lambo in a big house telling people how they can make money, selling courses on how to make money selling courses. But that influences leadership teaching impactful impacting and really it's all influence. You might know everything but without influence. You can't do anything. Glad to see this podcast continuing in Neil's traditional of giving away huge value. Don, you are a rock star. Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it. You know, that's that's what keeps me going. That's what keeps me sitting here in a Tokyo hotel room, looking at the rain while I talk to you in complete silence. That's what that's what keeps me thinking of what I'm going to present to you every week. And really taking the time to prioritize to make sure that I get this information out to you because guess what, if I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, that blogging is for the search engines, podcasting for me, is where I bring to you my latest thoughts, my latest ideas, the podcast for me, is where I want to focus on my thought leadership and give you the freshest, best content. I hope after seeing some of my most recent new blog posts, you may agree with me, but that's the reality. And I hope that you'll continue to subscribe to continue to listen. I know there's a lot of great podcasts out there. I subscribe to a bunch of them myself. And I know you only have so much time in the day. So with every listen you give to my podcast, I'm really grateful. Alright, everybody. Well, it's day number two in quarantine. So I got a lot more time on my hands. Make sure to check out my Instagram feed to see all of my updates to see the incredible food that they sell at the supermarkets that I am eating here. You'll if you're a foodie, you're going to love some of the shots here. And hey, wherever you're on the world, make it a great virtual social de Neal Schaffer signing off from Tokyo, Japan. SEO nada