Enterprise Marketer - Make Your Marketing Matter.

In this episode, Andy Crestodina and Jeff Julian address some of the common misconceptions of SEO to help you understand what priority you need to have and what things you can put aside to rest easier.

Here are some of the questions Andy and Jeff address:

  • If you didn’t do anything to drive better SEO, would Google index your site?
  • If your site has more than one way to reach your content, will there be a duplicate content penalty?
  • When you change your site, or Google changes their algorithm, do I have to make adjustments immediately?
  • How come we are not number one for this keyword? My CEO is confused and demanding results.
  • Do social media links help my SEO link count?
  • How should I promote my content to get more SEO benefits?
  • Can I sprinkle keywords all over my posts to get better results?

Also, in this episode, Megan Zander introduces us to Ramp and the way they changed their results by personalizing their email campaigns with data and rich media.  This is part of her new segment called, Tactic of the Moment.

Ramp T-Shirts is winning over hearts and minds with cold emails. For marketers that still use cold emails as a way to reach new prospective clients, we know that this is no small feat. This (now-exploding) startup t-shirt printer recently designed a personalized email campaign that would pull in a company’s information and logo to personalize their cold email experience. The campaign continues to perform well-above industry benchmarks, netting 10’s of thousands of dollars in revenue with a consistent open rate above 50% and a CTR above 25% in some segments.

That's right guys, don't hold back, it's Explicit Content, it's all fair game. Ask us anything, we aren't pulling any punches here, direct to the most impactful advice, including this topic, which I loved, right? Let's break it down and dispel the myths.

Thanks to our sponsors


Thank you to Rev.com for being our new transcript sponsor for the Explicit Content Podcast - Get $10 off Your First Order and See What All The Buzz is About

Jeff Julian: Welcome to the Explicit Content Podcast. Here are your hosts, Jeff Julian and Andy Crestodina.

Well, we're here, and we're excited 'cause we're launching a brand new show, and I'm here with Andy Crestodina, who is my co-host for one segment of this new show, and we're gonna cover SEO, but Andy, how are you doing?

Andy Crestodina: I'm good. I'm glad to be here. This is a big day for us.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, it's been in the planning for a few months now, three or four, we've tried to keep everybody at a leisurely pace as we get this thing going, but I'm so excited about Explicit Content Podcast and what we can do with it and where it can go.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, we're filling in a gap. I think this is needed. There's been some shows that we all love that have kind of dropped off or dropped in frequency, there's a lot of medium quality stuff out there, and we're going to jump in with something that's a bit more direct than what a lot of people might hear, and we're obviously covering all my favorite topics, so this'll be great.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, I think our hosts that we have, the community that we have and the way we'll be able to interact with them, and then the different types of content we'll be able to produce, it's just gonna make this thing killer.

But our show is about SEO and data. And so, we both are the nerds in the room when it comes to content marketing and digital marketing. And so whenever I reached out to you, I was like crossing my fingers, hoping you'd say yes, because we have some of the best conversations when we're together at conferences and I think this is a needed gap that's been missing in the space, like you just said.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, this is one that's a giant question mark for a lot of people, and not really a ton out there that breaks it down in simple terms.

And the specific topic for today's show is a great way to kick off, because Jeff, you and I know there's a lot of misinformation out there on this topic of search.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, absolutely. It changes enough and time passes so slowly in the digital world that it's confusing to understand what works and what doesn't work, and to try to even figure out when you're being sold to or when somebody's truly sharing knowledge.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah. And the SEO blogs are always looking for new stuff to publish and they've gotta kinda write something even if there's nothing new out there, so it's sort of like, how do I filter that out, there's just like so much content posted in these areas where a lot of it is just best practices and things you heard before and stuff you can find anywhere.

And honestly people just sort of regurgitating what you'd find on the Google Webmaster blog. And then there's those jewels, and that's what we're gonna do, we're gonna bring out the jewels and really make sure that each piece here is simple and practical and valuable to the listener instead of just another medium quality content marketing podcast.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, exactly. And it's just this, the term webmaster used to actually mean something, you know, it used to be a role in your organization, it was the guy who knew the most about the website, and they were always in charge of SEO, but now that's no longer there.

Your development teams tend to know less about SEO than your marketing teams, and so there's so many gaps that are left and so many holes that are left in websites that the marketing team has to do the due diligence of digging and finding. And I think that's where a lot of good fusion comes in.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, I mean, what ranks content? Content is a rank, and you know, there's a technical aspect to search and a lot of people put a lot of emphasis on the technical piece, but I could tell you so many stories about people who spent hundreds of hours mitigating all the technical SEO warnings and errors without seeing a lift at all, with no implication.

So that's one of the things that we can touch on here is just balancing the marketing and content piece with the technical and developer pice.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, exactly. Most SEO advice is just I would say plain bad, that it's to get your eyeballs on an article, to drive some sort of awareness to a product feature, or just to oversimplify the problems to make it fit within 800 words so they can push out another blog post.

Andy Crestodina: So true, there's so much of it. It's just so much. It's amazing how much content there is out there on this topic of search, and how similar a lot of it looks.

So I think that creates a problem for the person researching the topic or studying it, it's like, how do you filter through that, even [inaudible 00:04:44] blog, these are famous blogs that I could name names, we all know the names, where you just didn't walk away with any new understanding or any new practical application, not to mention the SEO device that is wrong.

I see things out there that I just, I would argue against, and that there's ... people are hearing things and acting on things and responding to things that, for which there is zero correlation data, and really it doesn't even pass the smell test if you stop and think about it.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, and it's all information that changes so frequently, but the impact is never as much as people make it seem like it is, like the way it's promoted is, if you don't have meta tags, if you don't have something or other, you won't be indexed.

And that's just so not true. You could have one of the worst sites in the world as far as SEO content or tagging meta descriptions or meta schema language, and Google will figure it out of it's great content. You're just giving hints.

Andy Crestodina: Good way to put it. I have a debate, an ongoing debate with some SEOs I know who talk about best practices for URLs, so a good URL for SEO, that's a keyword an it's not too long and it doesn't contain too many slashes, and it's like, yeah, as if there's a right way to do URL best practices.

And there's SEOs that will tell their clients to go reprogram their websites to change the URL structure so that content that was previously in a directory is now moved to a different place, when we all know, just look at your address bar, click around on the most successful, profitable websites on the internet, they do all kids of crazy stuff in the URL. And Google figures it out.

So yeah, the rant begins. A lot ... I'm gonna totally agree with you 100 percent. Most SEO advice is just plain bad.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, there's just so many things that people want Google to od, they want them to care about all these pieces or site maps or different ... THere's so many different avenues to go down, but Google will just, they'll figure it out, they'll do whatever they need to do to make it go.

And so let's kick it off, let's talk about maybe four different items today. But let's start out with one of the worst. Where would you point people to a myth or a misunderstanding?

Andy Crestodina: The so-called duplicate content penalty is one of the most common misperceptions in all of search, and I had a big conversation about it this morning.

All of our examples by the way on this show, [inaudible 00:07:32] ... talking to people like me and Jeff, can be from like extremely recent history, like examples from today or like last week.

So just this morning I'm talking to someone who's asking me about how to avoid the duplicate content penalty, which, brief history, became a fever pitched craze probably 2012, right?

You didn't hear about it before then, when in fact every search engine has handled duplicate content since the beginning. Of course, because there's lots of instances online where one thing appears twice, and a search engine figures it out.

So why people starting ... you know, five ten years ago started to panic about duplicate content, I have no idea. But just stop and think about it for a minute, think about the purpose of search, Google wants to deliver that searcher the best piece of content on the internet for the topic.

Knowing that, start from that premise and things will begin to make sense. Now imagine that there's a version of content on site A and suddenly a version of that same content appears on site B, does Google now no longer believe that that original version is a good piece of content because there's another instance of it somewhere? Why would that affect Google's perception of that being good or bad?

In fact, if that did affect Google's belief that the content is good, then if I saw Jeff ranking for something and I wanted to hurt his ranking, I could just copy and paste that page onto another website and then Google would penalize him, right?

Jeff Julian: Absolutely.

Andy Crestodina: Then negative SEO would be a thing. And it's not really a thing, it doesn't really work, or else the internet would be must worse.

So no, duplicate content penalty, I wanna disabuse our listeners of that notion, it's kind of a ridiculous thought. There's estimates where as high as 30 to 40 percent of the internet is a duplicate or duplicative of itself. Not weird, totally normal, there's a narrow edge case where you could get penalized in a manual action for extreme examples where something suddenly looked like it appeared millions of places, you know, press release type stuff.

But for the most part, no, it's ridiculous to think that Google will determine that page A is no longer a good page just because it suddenly appeared somewhere else.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, I think it was ... When people started to look at the canonical link and that was driven because the idea of www as the main domain, it just made everything long, it made everything crazy in print when you were sharing links and things like that, so everybody wanted to cut it out.

And so when they cut it out, there was two ways to get to every page. And then when security became a big nightmare, then now there's four ways. There's the http with www, or https without www.

So it just became this kind of monstrosity of ways to get in there, and I think the fact that people put a canonical link saying this is the main link scared them into thinking, oh no, what if Google thinks the other link was the link.

But if you do any search for a how to that's been answered by something either like Stack Exchange or Quora or something like that, you'll find a site that's ranked two or three on that same topic that copied and pasted, and all they are is a host farm for ads. And they're ranked four.

So obviously you can steal people's content, put it on the web, and Google will still rank you highly.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, Google's job is to find the best page for the topic. So just because there's two versions of that page, of course doesn't mean that it's gonna ... that neither will rank all of a sudden.

So the canonical thing, I think one of the reasons why this keeps getting perpetuated is because it shows up in audits and tools that you and I use and told that I love, right? [inaudible 00:11:33] a report that shows these are duplicates. And there are examples where, you know, if you have two pages with the same title tag, it shows up in an audit, yeah, I mean, maybe you're missing an opportunity, maybe those really are different pages, maybe you should have keyword focus and both title tag, but that's not a penalty, that's a missed opportunity.

A penalty is a minus one, a missed opportunity is a zero, right? So that's ... the fact that these show up in all these reports and all these audits and on everybody's checklist and these SEO drones and these kids who think they're doing great search by just running reports and forwarding spreadsheets, that isn't prioritization, that isn't the declared understanding, that isn't ... The work to mitigate those issues from those audits doesn't necessarily have any ROI whatsoever.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, and I think that's the big driving factor is where should you invest your time to do this, because you ... No website will ever be 100 percent perfect. You can pull up some of your favorite websites, hit F12 and see Java Script errors galore. It's just the ... It's the way the web works, it's just open standard that everyone's been patching for a quarter of a century, and we're still trying to make the thing work.

And we're doing it in ways that [inaudible 00:12:55] have to work on so many different devices now, it's ... And Google is threatened by everyone just going straight to the website, they still wanna be the home store. So they're not going to cut their tail off because they don't want to put duplicate content on their search engine.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, it's ... Google was invented by library scientists. And like you said, they're smart, they'll figure it out. We should just make an SEO podcast called They'll Figure It Out.  2000 math PhDs on staff, they're pretty good at this stuff, they'll crawl your URLs, and if your content is good, they'll add you to the index. Focus on the quality, which we'll get to in a minute.

But yeah, that one I think we gotta start out with, because duplicate content penalty, relax people, it's gonna be fine, just relax.

Jeff Julian: Exactly. And so the next one, I'll take, I think there's this misunderstanding of how Google actually, how fast it works, how impactful your changes are to the engine in an immediate basis, because we've all searched for a news topic, like if it's a school shooting, or something happened in Congress, and we see results instantly.

You know, eight minutes ago, it'll say, "This was updated," until we believe that this thing is constantly changing and every topic out there is up or down, you know, like the stock market. And that's just so not true with most keyboards.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, it's ... There's people who ask me this question, you know, how do you keep up with all the changes in search? And I'm never sure quite how to answer. It's like, well, my approach to SEO isn't that different, I mean, it has changed, but it isn't that different now than it was ten years ago. I mean, these are not ... What's changed is, you know, a search results page now has more features, Google's trying harder to keep people from clicking now that results are really crowded visually, but the tactics of how to appear in organic search, yeah, I think that there is a big myth, you know, that famously Google changes its algorithm 200 times a year or some 500 times a year, whatever they say. How often do you change your SEO tactics?

Jeff Julian: It's constantly evolving but making minimal changes in course direction. And something that will be announced, something like, hey, secure pages will give you better page rank, that'll be announced six years ago and it'll take that long for people to actually start seeing some effective changes in that way.

And it's something that you can watch the horizon, you can see where things are going, but just make strategic decisions based off of the way people use your website and what devices they're using, and respond to that more than responding to what Google wants.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, I think that there's ... This industry has a bad reputation for jumping every time Google puts out a press release. I mean, those are basically press releases, and I don't recommend ever changing your strategies and your digital marketing based on a press release, even from Google.

So the Mobile First index is coming, okay, does that change visitors' intent, does that change the quality of my content, does that change the volume or search volume for any key phrase, or ...? I mean, I can ... These are important things, you know, accelerated mobile pages, these are important things, these aren't trivial changes, but the fundamentals have not changed.

The reason why people go to websites, the reason ... The ways in which content can satisfy an information need or not, or you know, the core ranking factors of the algorithms, the links and relevance, I think ... This one I think is driven partly by the big SEO blogs, which need a topic, they need something to talk about.

So these people have huge subscriber lists and daily publishing calendars, so what are they gonna write about? They kinda gotta beat the drum, and that perpetuates this idea that SEO is changing so fast, because the SEO blogs are trying to keep your attention, so they gotta make some news out of something.

But no, SEO doesn't change 11 times a day, no, it's a crazy idea.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, and I think a lot of agencies too perpetuate this, because they wanna sprinkle nuggets into their clients whenever they meet. So what's the latest from the wizard of SEO, and the guy comes in, you know, [inaudible 00:18:24] up the cauldron or looks to the mirror ball and says, "Oh, this is on the horizon."

It's very important because it's an engagement, it's a way to keep agencies, either they're on an SEO retainer and every month they have a certain number of hours they have to spend, or they're trying to get a website deal out of you and have you rebuild or completely rethink the way you're doing your content. And a big scare is SEO, to get people to go, "Oh, I wanna be the best on the web, so how do I do that?"

Andy Crestodina: I think you just nailed it. I think that there are clients who want to get the next dose of pixie dust, and there's firms that want to justify their monthly retainer.

And as such, I think that a low information buyer, which is the classic SEO buyer, and the provider of services in an uncertain world, like a black box like Google, it makes it very easy.

I mean, I've been at meetings when people have said, "Hey Andy, what's the latest in SEO?" And I'm like, you know, "You gotta, kind of the same as it was, you gotta be, you know, links and relevance and authority and quality and user intent and user interaction."

And they're like, "Oh," like they seem disappointed [inaudible 00:19:41] ... have some new spell to cast for them, or some way to wow them with ... I think I disappointed them, but they wanted to be ... I mean, people pay for that information and that feeling like they got the inside track on this secret practice, this dark art of search.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, exactly. And it's the same meeting, completely different conversation, but the same intent and response from the agencies when you come in and somebody has a 150 million dollar company and the CEO says, "I went and searched this, and we were not number one, we weren't even on the first page. How do we get on the first page?"

And you're just ... There's so much work that goes behind turning something around, like not ranking to get ... But they want that magic button, they just want you to spend six months, take some stuff, move it around, and then all of a sudden they're the best because they're the biggest, or they're the most known in the industry. That doesn't mean anything in the search world.

Andy Crestodina: No, no, that's the vanity metric. And I think we gotta call them out, that is a classic vanity metric, my ranking for one specific phrase that I care about, that is not an SEO strategy, that's not strategic in any way.

So let's get explicit about this one, the executive who walks into the room and says that they wanna rank for one specific phrase, first of all, that's not what search is really about anyway, it's about intent and it's about semantics and it's about topics, not a specific key phrase.

And that CEO doesn't know the search volume, doesn't know the competition, and if you, let's say it worked, and let's say you did rank for that, what would be the impact on the business? See, a lot of requests are for phrases that wouldn't even affect them [inaudible 00:21:34] ... anyway.

So I've been in those meetings, I know that people who ... And sometimes they even admit it, they're like, "I know it doesn't make sense, I just can't let go of it, can you please just help me rank for x?" And they actually realize, they'll be up front about the fact that it's an irrational request, but they want it anyway.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, and I mean, if you're serving up content, then ranking number one on that content doesn't have a huge impact on the business. Your bounce rate probably will go up, but if you're an e-commerce site, or if you're somebody who sells services or products, if that magic button did work, you would probably tank your business, because you wouldn't be able to fulfill the volume.

If somebody wanted a 2011 Audi and you had one in stock but you were number one search results on it and you had to tell them, "Sorry, we ain't got it no more," then all of a sudden you've just taken that brand reputation from none to, "I don't like them anymore."

And so, if you look at the wishes of ... It's probably better off that they're ranking where they are and it's a slow move. I heard a church planner once said that he wanted so many people to come to one of his new ... their service, and they were used to getting like 50 people, so they had like ten volunteers and they mailed out 10,000 direct mail offerings to people in the surrounding area about this upcoming series on mental health and all these other things.

He said, "The thing I didn't think about was what happens if it works," because it did, and they had like near 1000 people show up and they were all messed and wanting help, and they had ten volunteers there. He said it was a disaster, the worst thing they could've ... because they weren't prepared for it to actually work.

Andy Crestodina: And if it works, that's a good question, plan for success. This is one I also got asked about today, where you explain to people, it's actually extremely common. Okay, so you're teaching someone search, breaking it down, one of the primary search ranking factors is authority, as in links from other websites, all things being equal, a site or a page, a domain with more links to it will have more authority and a higher tendency to rank than another page, a less authoritative page, so links matter.

The next thought in that person's head is how about I link to myself on Facebook? Can I just link to myself on Facebook, will that help my rankings? And this one actually, it's almost, if you just think about it for another two seconds, you would realize, like, wait, if linking to yourself from Facebook helped your marketing, helped your rankings, then wouldn't every SEO just go bomb Facebook with millions of links and just dump truck loads of links in there, and then that would artificially affect all of their rankings.

And an hour later Facebook would be horrible and Google would be horrible. It would ruin both platforms.

Jeff Julian: Absolutely.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, so that is obviously never gonna work. And there's a quite of a technical reason why it doesn't work. It isn't even necessarily true that Google treats Facebook differently than any other domain, but there are so many trillions of URLs, technically every post has a URL, that the value of a link from any specific URL is virtually zero.

Even if Facebook has a massive authority, a link from Facebook to you is on of a trillion URLs, therefore it passes like one trillionth of its authority to you.

Anyway, so yeah.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, yeah, and the little thing that I've never got a friend request from the Google bot, so it probably can't log in and see my content, because that's how Facebook secures it. Or I've never got a like.

It never said, "Bing Bot likes you."

Andy Crestodina: I wish.

Jeff Julian: Oh, I'm gonna win now.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, can it even be crawled? Should it be crawled? Why would they bother crawling that? And if they did, what kind of value would you think that link would pass to you?

So the idea of SEO value and authority value being passed directly from a social media link is a ridiculous idea.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, social media has been one of those things that, it's disappointing to see how much marketers have embraced it as their main way of sharing their content and content promotion, especially in the B to B space, and how little the true understanding of how links work and what the value of a retweet and a like is compared to somebody posting a link that is crawlable to your site. The vanity metric will get somebody excited because it's been shared 100 hundred times, but nobody ever clicked on your website and nobody ever put a link on there.

And I still remember the day when I first heard about Twitter, and it was this micro blogging community, and I just sat back and go, there's no way I can get a track back, a ping, or that this web, and it's called a web because it's truly a web of content that links together like a spiderweb, it's like there's no way this is going to work for the way we share content.

And it took, I feel social media took the web and it reversed direction rather than progressing where we were supposed to go.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, you make ... Our conversations come back to that sometimes, and some of the things that you've said to me in different places have stuck with me in that way, like just being so forthright about that, you know, links are how the internet works, or links are what makes the internet work.

Social isn't really about that in that way, so I think the best benefits of social media are more about the networking than about trying to drive traffic. That's been the fun part about social for me is finding interesting people, building relationships, connecting, sharing, you know, those are ... The indirect benefits of social are by far my favorite. And it does have strong indirect benefits on rankings.

But there's definitely a big confusion about why SEOs do social, or why you hear this, you can't do search without social. That one's a big misunderstanding that if you just stop and think about it for a few minutes, it starts to make a lot more sense.

Jeff Julian: Social media, when people get a bunch of followers or they'll weigh somebody by their follower count or the fact that they're verified or not, it's like, go look at the followers they have, I bet ten percent of them are who they actually want, and the rest are bots or something that's followed them.

And we get so impressed with the social media impact of some of these brands, especially some of these upcoming brands that are like on YouTube and Instagram that, if they're not converting customers toward you, then all they're doing is brand awareness.

And if brand awareness is what you're gonna pay your mortgage with, or has any impact, then sure, go with it. But if it doesn't, do things that work.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, I think that's a good point. Take that influencer that you're hoping to schmooze and go look at their followers.

Jeff, I'm gonna ask you this, what do you think of this exchange rate? It's better to have one email subscriber than 100 followers, and it's better to have one link than 100 email subscribers. Do you think, like would you ... I mean, obviously the numbers are kinda arbitrary, but if that's true, then you'd rather have one link from someone than maybe thousands of followers, right? Isn't the value actually ... I mean, assuming the followers are real people and the subscribers are real people and the link is a real, authoritative link, like just general quality is across the board decent for whatever that category is, but it's something like that, isn't it?

Jeff Julian: Oh, absolutely. And then when you get that link, it's like, how much free SEO advice do you wanna give your fellow marketing influencers to get their pages ranked higher just so that link actually means something?

We posted so many podcasts with guests, and they'll send a link, and then I'll get reports on their domain rank, and it's like, oh wow, how are they getting leads? How are they getting ...? No one's actually on their site, no one's coming through there.

It's like, let's help them so that everybody can win, because it's so bad how people's websites have become such a second thought when it comes to building a strong, link rich website.

Andy Crestodina: That's your only chance, it's your only chance to create a steady stream of demand is to have an authoritative site that ranks for the commercial intent key phrase. That's the main point of content.

I mean, I could argue that that's the main goal behind all of this content, behind the publishing, right, is to attract the links that make your site authoritative enough to rank for the commercial intent key phrase. Now you've got a chance of converting that person and generating some actual demand in revenue.

Jeff Julian: Exactly. So every social media post that you put out about your content, think about something you can link to and think about something that you could get a link from, and make those connections.

Andy Crestodina: Exactly, that's right.

Jeff Julian: Cool. And so the final one I think we should talk about today is this idea of sprinkling content ... or sprinkling keywords all over the place, just a little bit of sugar with this word, a little bit of sugar with this word all makes the SEO go down.

Andy Crestodina: It's hilarious, right? I mean, so again, bottom line, Google wants to deliver that person the best page on the internet for the topic. How does sprinkling fit into that? What do you sprinkle ... Sprinkling just doesn't, I think the word just implies something that is the exact opposite of the entire point of this game, right?

Sprinkling keywords around, and our site's about birthday cards, we're gonna mention birthday cards on all of our pages ... like, what? Why would that help your SEO to have spread out your key phrase on ... so it's a little bit everywhere, like, what do you want, like a lot of pages to kind of rank? No, no, no, no, you want one page to rank really well.

SEO's a game about focus, it's about focus. It's about making one thing that performs well, so sprinkling has no place in this conversation at all.

Jeff Julian: No. And I think the way you put it of be the best on the web for that particular piece of content, and I think if most marketers understood that the average site has about three or four pages that do really well and drive most of their content, and everything else is medium or low, it would make their kind of mind start to think about, okay, how would sprinkling content all over the place help drive traffic to this main page when I wanna keep the traffic that's coming there, I just wanna spread more awesomeness to new content?

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, another one I sometimes see is that, I work with a client, the client's all about this one topic, and therefore they don't want the topic to be a single page, they want it to be a whole section.

So instead of making a great page on this thing, they'll break it up and they'll have eight pages that are kind of about the thing, when really if you just fold those back into one URL and make it one tall page that answers every question about that thing, covers that topic completely, super detailed, super thorough, covers it from all angles, you are much more likely to get results in search if your content is very concentrated and that you don't chop it up into little pieces, or that the topic and subtopics aren't sprinkled around.

So a classic example is people make a section in their website called Services, and that page is a little bit about each service. Fine, but you also need to have a page totally focused on that service.

So if you wanna get in the right head space for search, and you wanna rank for a phrase, just ask yourself, what is the best page on my website for this phrase? Now look at the page and ask this follow-up question, why would Google believe this page to be the best page on the internet for that topic?

You need good answers for both those questions or you shouldn't have any expectations for getting traction in search.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, and I think if you sit down and if you think of a person who started a business that's a franchise, most of the time there's a boxed website that has all the content available. And if you stop and think about how Google would handle it if I searched for this town, this franchise, is the content good, does it meet the criteria that would be this particular topic which is a town, and this particular town which is what the person does, if that page is good for that, then great, but it doesn't mean it's going to be good for everything.

So you gotta start to look at the keywords that your customers are going to use, and see, are you the best answer for these particular searches? And like you said, 'cause five out of 100 times [inaudible 00:35:50] ... have a page on your site that is. And most of them just aren't, there's not enough information there, or somebody did it better.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, yeah, someone did it better. I mean, you should [inaudible 00:36:00] stand up, print it out, show it to your mom, and say, "Look what I made, look how great this is. I mean, this is ... I covered it completely, I included original research, I've got quotes in here from experts, I answered all these related questions."

And by the way, speaking of changes in search, it couldn't be easier now than ever before, if you search for the thing and you see a related topic, and you see in the search results page those questions, those little Q&A boxes, which Google puts there to keep people from clicking, and I get that, but as a content marketer, that is an amazing research tool.

So let's say I'm writing a topic, and I just did this recently, I think I was writing about like SEO basics or something, yeah, and here's a bunch of questions in the middle, how do you do SEO for a website, I expand it and closed it, expand the next one and close it, did that a couple times, okay, I'm looking at suddenly a list of ten related questions.

If I make an article that answers all these questions in detail, I've got a realistic shot at making something that I would subjectively but seriously consider to be a great page, maybe one of the best pages on the internet for that topic.

Jeff Julian: Yeah, absolutely. And that's a great way to pull up content ideas, to start to push things, and then you can vet those with your customers.

And I think not enough people go out and ask their customers what they want, what content they want, what's gonna be relevant to them, 'cause like you said, back to the email list versus followers versus ... If you can make one customer happy with a piece of content, then the potential that you will get a sell is far greater than a random person putting something into the search engine and finding you.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah, I think that's a point worth making, and it keeps SEO [inaudible 00:37:50] context in general is that it's by definition, you know, high up in the funnel, search is a discovery tool.

But the farther down you are at work, improving, optimizing, maintaining, iterating, the farther down your funnel that you're doing the work in digital, the more likely you are to make a revenue impact.

So Micheal Aagaard, Unbounce, they tried everybody, right? Unbounce, it's an incredible story that Ollie tells with tears in his eyes, they tried everything they could think of to improve the conversion rates on unbounce.com, Michael Aagaard was the guy who did it.

How? He spent weeks interviewing the customer service team, interviewing the business development team, and talking to the customer success managers, until he knew the audience so, so well, right, talking to users themselves, he knew the audience so, so well that he was able to build a better page.

But he didn't do it through the lazy shortcut I just took a minute ago, by clicking on Q&A boxes, he did it by digging deep and interviewing the people involved, asking follow-up questions, right? I love search, I'm a fan, I'm an old school, about 18 years of SEO, I've done ... We've been doing this forever. But I fully realize the value of that conversation is gonna have far greater ROI if I can make that a better page based on my audience.

Jeff Julian: Absolutely. And so that's a great place to wrap up. And I'm excited to see where we take this show, because there's so many new topics that we can get into, and I can't wait 'til we start to dive into some of the data and the way analytics work, 'cause it is a whole ... It goes full circle with what we're talking about.

Here's Megan Zander with the tactic of the moment.


Megan Zander: Hi there content marketers, this is Megan Zander with your Tactic of the Moment, personalized email images.

Cold sales emails, everyone gets them, you know the ones, "Here's a deal you don't wanna miss, act now and save 50 percent." When you get them, there's a small chance that you'll open them up to see what the deal actually is, but most likely you'll ignore them, just like you ignore all of the other sales emails you get. You might even take the time to unsubscribe or report the email as spam.

Thankfully content marketers have gotten cleverer and improvements in data collection methods and analytics have made it possible to create real-time personalized experiences. TLDR personalization in email marketing is improving opening rates and increasing CTR as well as bettering prospect experiences.

Things like adding the recipient's name to the subject line or even personalizing special offers within the email are going to make it more likely that a recipient will open the email and do business with you.

But what if you could take that idea even further? What if you could not only automate personalized emails that make the opener feel like you've tailored the offer directly to them, but also help them see what their final purchase would look like?

That's exactly what Ramp T-shirts did when they designed an automated email program that would pull in a company's information and logo to personalize the email experience. The title would read, "I'm wearing a, insert your company name, T-shirt," and the email body contained an image of the CEO of Ramp wearing a T-shirt with the recipient's company logo on it.

The end results netted tens of thousands of dollars in revenue with a consistent open rate above 50 percent and a CTR above 25 percent in some segments. That's really impressive.

To learn more about exactly how they did it, read the personalized email images tactic of the moment on enterprisemarketer.com.


Jeff Julian: Alright, and so now we just kinda wanna wrap everything up, and we're excited to have you listen to the show, and we'd love to hear some of your thoughts, what topics you wanna hear.

Andy Crestodina: That's right guys, don't hold back, it's Explicit Content, it's all fair game. Ask us anything, we aren't pulling any punches here, direct to the most impactful advice, including this topic, which I loved, right? Let's break it down and dispel the myths. So, super fun, Jeff, thanks for having this.

Jeff Julian: Oh yeah, and we'll see you guys at Content Marketing World, if you're there we got the okay to have a presence again, and so we'll be creating some video, some audio content with most of the Explicit Content Podcast's hosts. It should be a great time.

Thank you for listening to the Explicit Content Podcast. For more information, check out enterprisemarketer.com.

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