the zip local podcast ep 5
In this episode of The Zip, I talk local content creation with Brian Chappell, a former colleague, and the current founder and CEO of Big Fork Content. Brian has some great theories on organic SEO tactics, including ways to use local event marketing to boost local search ranking. He also has experience working for an enterprise brand who needed to rank locally all over the US, which is a frequent concern for ZipSprout clients. Enjoy the episode, and make sure to follow Brian on Twitter @brianchappell.
Megan: Welcome to the fifth episode of the “Zip”. In this episode I will be speaking with Brian Chappell, a former colleague from my very first job out of college. So he knew me back when I Tweeted for a living and ate Cheez-its and wine for dinner every night. Don’t worry, nowadays I eat popcorn for dinner every night because I’m a grown up. Anyways, Brian is currently an industry peer founder of his own agency, Big Fork Content. If you’ve been listening to every episode so far, first of all thank you very much and secondly, you may notice that my conversation with Brian has a similar theme to the conversation in the Zip’s first episode with Garrett French. Both Brian and Garrett come from the SEO world and they’re both very analytical with a mind for experimentation, which I think is par for the course in this industry. Brian, like Garrett, will also mention the need for content development when building local SEO. Though, unlike Garrett, Brian argues for a more niche focus on content development. In parallel these two conversations show how even industry experts can have opposite approaches to local marketing. Another interesting part of this conversation that I just want to bring up is that during our conversation on grass roots local marketing, Brian brought up the need for a tool just like ZipSprout. I promise, I didn’t ask him to do this but it also showed me that I may not be explaining the startup behind this podcast as well as I should be. Just something I’ll be working on over the next few episodes. In essence, ZipSprout is a agency with a tool that helps businesses find local grass roots marketing opportunities at scale. Thanks so much for listening, please follow @ZipSprout or me @mahannay on Twitter and let’s head over to the podcast. We’re talking local content and event marketing with Brian Chappell who I actually met at my first job out of college at a social media agency. But in the handful, let’s say of years since, we both moved on to other projects. So Brian Chappell has been a Search Marketer for over ten years from his start at GoTickets.com which he was about to grow by over five hundred percent and see it through to exit. So taking Ignite Social Media from a five person social media agency to over a hundred employees to his latest exit where he founded, operated, and sold an SEO agency. He’s done a lot of things. So, Brian we’re really glad to have you on this podcast.
Brian: Oh, thanks so much for having me today, Megan. It’s great to be here.
Megan: Yeah, so Brian is now combining years of experience into his new agency Big Fork Content which focuses on content development and optimization for business. So Brian, just to start out, what in the first place when you first started out, what drew you to digital media and what was your… I guess your first job was at GoTickets? How did you get started in that and what drew you to that?
Brian: Yeah sure, so it kind of went back to being in the right place, right time you know. Coming into the era of, you know the AOL days just getting on the internet. You know, and getting on chat rooms and being to talk to people around the world that was just very interesting and new to me and just being of the age, you know where I had ample free time. You know, and going into college you know, with even more free time. I continue to kind of you know, looked up how do I make money, how do I subsidize, you know my day to day activities with this internet thing? To me it was something that I needed to pay attention to. It seemed like there was ways to make it work and being into marketing there was a pretty easy fit. You know, cause I went to school for marketing, but that you know, in the early 2000’s there weren’t, there wasn’t a lot of schooling necessarily that could teach you, you know, how to make money on the internet really, cause it was still kind of being defined. So a lot of it was just kind of having time and some willingness cause I came into the internet stuff more or less from the design, kind of braining side.
Brian: Pretty heavy into Photoshop and things like that. But I realized I didn’t necessarily want to be a web designer for the rest of my life. So you know, that worked well because then I was able to, you know create some basic web sites. You know, in the early days, 2003/2004 and was able to experiment and see what would happen when those things started to rank and I remember the day I got my first backlink, one of the properties.
Megan: You were like ‘What? What is this thing? This is awesome.’
Brian: Yeah, and that was the light bulb moment, right? Was like ‘Oh, OK, cool.’ You know, in this case it was a Spyware removal software program review site that I put together and I got one link off a testimonial from one of the, you know, removal services that I gave a pretty positive review for and they gave me a link and then it shot up pretty well too, for that, you know kind of the, that was in 2004 and kind of the rest is history. So, you know that, from then, you know working at GoTickets, that’s where a lot of my experience and street credibility kind of came from, so.
Megan: Yeah, so with GoTickets were you more, cause I kind of think tickets I think of like, you know you guys probably wanted people say in LA to look for LA tickets or people in Atlanta to look for you know, concerts in Atlanta. So did you have to do a lot of local SEO and local visual marketing to help GoTickets?
Brian: Yeah, I don’t think it was, local was definitely a huge thing so I have, you know some thoughts towards what I did to optimize towards local, you know local venues and things like that. But frankly, it was a national play. So we would more specifically go after specific events. And so early on, one of the things I would kind of pride ourselves on, because you know I was just pacing myself at GoTickets. I was just competing against other sites that I knew had teams of individuals, so one of the things early on we tried to do was basically just stay on tap, on top of new events like new upcoming, you know if an artist was going to go on tour.
Brian: We would try to, you know we would want to know this, like immediately. Like if there’s any possible chance of this happening, that way I can get out and get in front of it from the optimization standpoint, you know and do what I can to get the page to rank high. That way when it does go on sale, you know we’ll basically have a backlog of people would be interested in it from colleting emails over the course of time and then once it’s on sale, obviously, you know being able to invest in PBC and SEO at that point we would kind of already be there. So, but, to say on the local side it was interesting one of the kind of content, you know optimization things I did, I guess you could say early on, was a lot of the pages and a lot of the brokers out there who were doing the same thing as we were, they wouldn’t put their listing data, like the dates and events and the venue information actually on like the main landing page.
Brian: I’ll tell you why, basically everybody was using syndicated type like network I don’t even know how to explain it. But basically, people would…
Megan: Like automated?
Brian: Yeah it was quite automated, so people would plug and play the listing data so by then by the time you clicked to buy the tickets you’d go to another page.
Brian: And that page is where all the listing data was. But that page that you ended up pointing to, nobody really like ranked those. Namely because they’re all listing content and also they’re on these, the types of pages that were on weren’t going to rank them.
Megan: So from an SEO perspective that was like, bad, bad practices for them.
Brian: Yeah and this is 2005 you know, pretty not everybody is kind of, you know you’ve got to remember not everybody was up to these types of things. So one of the first things I did was try to kind of bring that content back to our main landing page. You know, in mass, right? All of the events we would possibly sell to, all of the sudden would now have, you know here’s where, here’s the venue, here’s the time, and you know I remember kind of just watching, this is back when you could see keywords, but watching kind of the number of big keywords bring traffic to the site. Over, you know the six to eight months, you know after doing that across the site it just kind of doubled, if not tripled the amount of keywords that were being found for us. It was a relatively I guess easy, like I wish I could, things were so easy nowadays.
Brian: But not quite so much, but that was a, you know local, you know is definitely big and fast forward to now, right? When you look at the ticket rankings, right? There’s an enormous amount of effort on Google’s part, you know just looking at what’s ranking to actually surface, localized, like venue ticket listing…
Brian: Data, which like, I can’t necessarily argue with versus say, showing the same ten ticket brokers who have a lot of the same inventory. Google’s now actually starting to surface, you know the actual venues them self to whatever like hyper local type site. You know, forum posting, you know whatever really like basically whatever hyper local type initiatives that they can, they see, and you know that they’re ranking those nowadays.
Megan: Yes. So if you were working at a company like GoTickets, now versus in 2005, how would you help them compete against, you know and to rank well in each city that say, Beyoncé is performing in?
Brian: That’s a very good question. So first, yeah I mean the game is completely different. So first off I would say I probably wouldn’t be able to get it, you know not to say there’s not sites that haven’t done an effective job of coming up in the ranks. But it’s going to be very hard basically do kind of what we were doing then, today, right? That the game has definitely changed. So, you know this is where I think, you know a bit of, you know there could be a play to having some grass roots efforts and really maybe focusing on certain locales and just dedicating, you know like effort towards those locales. Because what can end up happening is, if you’re just, like if you end up turning into more of like a local, locally focused, you know broker in a sense, then there’s ways to pick up signals from Google that could allow you to rank. Like I said, like I alluded to a little bit, in terms of trying to be a local. Like, winning because you’re local.
Brian: Because there’s signals that Google sees, people are searching for you on their mobile phone in that geographic area. They’re searching for your brand name, they know your destination and they’re seeking you out. Those are, these are signals that could bleed back into that rhythm that could help, help you rank. And then, you know obviously doing real work and do real effort around your locale. So doing grass roots marketing and partnering and, you know getting, you know having feet on the ground and doing what you need, you know like effort, like real effort. You can’t basically just ‘splot’ content on a page and call it a day, you’ve got to things that, you know a lot of traditional businesses might have been doing. You know, there’s, I see a big parlay of like traditional based, like marketing initiatives in some capacity bleeding back into search rankings. If done in a somewhat…
Megan: Wait, can you be more specific on that? Like what sort of traditional methods are actually helping people rank well? Cause it seems almost counter intuitive, cause that’s like real world stuff. So how that go back and affect how people find you on Google?
Brian: Sure, so one, one, one example might be, you know if you, if you do an event or something locally and let’s say you’re, you’ve, you’ve got a, you know you’re putting out press, you’ve sponsored, you’ve sponsored, you know something at this event, you know, whatever you can do really to entice the customer base to seek you out in that locale. To, you know, I’m a b-, I’m a, I don’t, I don’t I don’t necessarily see this talked about too much, but name it because it’s kind almost impossible for kind of SEO’s and marketers to gauge really the effectiveness or like “Hey this is working”.
Megan: Right the returning.
Brian: Right, right yeah you know. I could put content up and see the keywords, you know, you know the keyword count go up “Ok, that’s working.” right? So in this case, like, you know if you can entice people to, to basically search with your brand name plus, you know just in certain areas and then can stick around and then engage with your content aligned, so if you’re able to basically create action back on, in a digital format and one nuance to this that I, that I have a theory on is, you know now that we all have mobile, you know computers in our pocket right?
Brian: And you know, Google owns, you know Android, you know they’re going to have a lot of data to be able to like, pretty accurately like, pull back in and leverage in some capacity. So, you know if you’re, if, if, if Google sees people searching for commercial type terms and then sees you know, you searching for a brand name, you know and then there’s a, maybe a spike of those types of searches in certain like geographical areas, you know that’s something that they’re probably going to want to consider. /
Brian: You know, when it comes to localized rankings.
Megan: So you really think, cause this is actually something I hadn’t thought of before, is I guess this is just a theory on your part, but the theory is that if you’re doing local branding efforts in city X, such that people who are at a festival or who are out and about in city X see your brand and see it associated with your product. So they search for your brand name plus generic product on their phone or even go home and do it on their computer Google will see those searches and be like “Oh hey, people are already associating name of brand with product in this area so maybe we should boost their rankings.” it’s almost seems like an opposite of how we usually think about it. I see how..
Brian: Yeah that, I mean wouldn’t say this is like, this is like something “It’s so simple it will turn, it will give you the same kind of ranking tomorrow and everybody can do this.” but my, my theory is that this is a data point they’ve got, they have it, it’s very clean because it’s like it’s coming straight in through like if you’re doing this on your mobile phone, I mean you know, they’re get, you know, you’re not on say Iphone or something you know, you’re on Android I mean this is some data set that can over time they can accrue and then leverage against all of the, the totality of all the other metrics and variable things going on with that domain. So, yeah I certainly do think it can help I mean I’ve seen, I’ve seen examples of being able to manipulate, you know your, the auto suggestions that come up for names, you know? I did that just when I launched my new, my new name Big Fork Content is an example. If you, if you search for Big Fork con, C-O, and then put like and then, you’ll see a couple suggestions that will come up ‘Content Audit’ and ‘Content Planning’ like Big Fork Content Audit, Big Fork Content Planning and what I did when I launched the site is I actually went out emailed to my family I was like “Hey, I’m starting a new company, I’d like everybody’s, I’d appreciate your help here.” and I basically stated that like “Hey,” when you know “I’m starting this company, when you click on the site then also go back into Google on your, on your mobile device and search for something like ‘Big Fork Content Audit’, ‘Big Fork Content Planning’ when you do your searches,” you know with the idea of “Hey, let’s see if I can,” you know “get a couple of these mentions to kind of stick in the auto suggestion.” So, and it worked.
Megan: It’s interesting I’m wondering how you can scale that, just like beyond friends and family like how you can tell customers to, cause usually if you have a customer you just ask them to go to your website. So, it would be kind of weird, be like “Actually don’t go to my website, please search for me on Google.”
Brian: Sure, yeah. And so I’ve definitely, you know, I mean generally on era of experimentation with a lot of these things.
Brian: You know, it’s always a tricky balance of selling that clients you don’t necessarily want to sell, sell snake oil or something that’s going to get you in trouble or so. In this case it’s just more like it’s, you know I would package this together as, you know something to consider if you’re also doing like grass root, you know efforts and you’re, you know you have like a real play in some of these like, you know if you’re doing traditional things it doesn’t hurt in my opinion to call attention to it. To try to entice people to go back to Google. You know, another example I see people doing that is on through radio. Radio is a pretty good way to do this.
Brian: You can tell, I’ve seen, you know car dealers tell people to like Google their name plus review. It surfaces if you’ve got good reviews it’s great cause you can “Hey, don’t trust my word for it.” you know?
Brian: And you get what other people are saying. But it also can, you know start sending signals too, to Google, you know? Cause Google really is on a, is, is hell bent to get rid of like basically people who just like, businesses who are not going to, you know the free lunches, the free lunch is kind of over. I guess is kind of one of my big theories, you know.
Megan: But what counts inside of the free lunch? Like what is free lunch?
Brian: Like the guy who’s running a site out of his basement who does, who will never spend any money in paid ads, I mean those types of just generic informational rich sites, unfortunately today, just don’t stand much chance and that’s you know, the pattern of sites and things that I’ve seen.
Megan: That’s interesting because I feel like that, it, it, it’s, I guess that’s kind of remembering that Google is a business not a library. Because, you know in, if that guy running a website out of his basement and he’s like an expert in, World, you know like World War II and if, you know that’s all he writes about, this battle in World War II on his site. Like, in a sense of like, the internet being a big library that his, his information might be really useful. But if he’s never going to use paid ads to help people go to his site, if all he cares about is just sharing information. You think that that would, and that you know it’s not going to rank as well anymore. Because..
Brian: Well, well there are, there are, yeah. I got to be careful when I throw things out there like this, because I, unfortunately, it’s not like a ‘catch all’.
Brian: So, I would say there’s probably very, I mean there’s probably a little engineer who just got tasked with writing a specific algorithm to make sure that those types of sites are still found, OK? Cause it’s like Google can’t…
Megan: They can’t just..
Brian: They can’t just get rid of everything. I mean it, it would just, it would just …
Megan: You’re not PPC.. like “Get out of here!”
Brian: Right? So, so they would never admit this one, they would never want you to think this is going on, two, you know? But, but it’s definitely starting to happen and it’s just, and it’s, it’s… you know and it, I can go and find something where this isn’t happening, right?
Brian: So, where there’s very niche like expert forums or something that have like really good back and forth feedback on a somewhat like pretty commercial term. That’s still ranking and that’s, you know maybe, maybe doing OK. But, you know for, for most businesses which is what I consult with, you know, if you’re a business and you’re just trying to do a lot of these shortcuts, you’re not trying to invest in ways today, like that’s not what I’d like recommend maybe, you know just based on the environment and where things are.
Brian: Compared to in the past. But…
Megan: That makes sense. So, you’re talking a bit about grass roots marketing, I think, I mean obviously ZipSprout that’s what we do so I know a lot about it but I also know that for a brand that it can be overwhelming from a strategy perspective. Especially if you are regional or national to,
Megan: Pinpoint locations or target markets, like how, how would you recommend, or how have you in the past gone about even just figuring out like what are the best opportunities or what is the best way to even find who you want reach?
Brian: Yeah I mean that would be where I would just do my normal… you know first off let me say like that’s not, I generally haven’t done that, because there’s been too much perceived work and or not knowing kind of what the perceived like return on investment might be. But, I mean this is, this is kind of the time, I mean today is the time really to venture off I think to some of these other areas, because there are transenant, transient benefits to it. So, that being said first, Secondly, I’m not sure, you know it would be a scenario where I’m going to be looking for local, if I’m looking for local events I mean, just managing, one of my concerns would be just trying to manage and negotiate terms for a lot of these things, right? I mean, a lot of times mark, especially national marketers, like you got to kind of got to have, there’s got to be some sort of process towards doing something like, if I’m expected to kind of just go off and do one off-type initiatives over and over and over again I mean it’s, it just, I don’t want to say categorically almost never works, but it’s just…
Megan: It’s a lot.
Brian: It’s a lot, yeah. It’s a lot, right? So to your point, right? That’s just, and then you do three of them and it takes four months and then it’s just like, you know, you know your time plus what it costs. So, I mean unless there’s some sort of way to kind of like know that like “Hey, I can into this town and do this and it’s going to cost about X and I’m going to, you know, it’s going to take about Y amount of my time and Z amount of my staff’s time and then I can kind of then set that up in some sort of process so I could then go through the different geographic areas, you know and then, you know be able to tee up ten to twenty of those over the next, you know six to twelve months. Unless I’m kind of able to do something like that, then it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s almost more for just like ‘Hey, let’s experiment and just try this one and see what happens,’ From, that’s kind of how I would take it. But, if there was a way to, you know kind of have, and I don’t know it’s almost kind of like it’s against our needs to be somewhat more of a network affect going on with pulling a lot of these localized events together.
Brian: Because then, then it could create that process that I’m talking about so then you could kind of go through it. But, yeah, I mean now is the timing, now is the time more than ever I think to look into those types of things, for sure. Like I said, just because of the, I mean I’m an SEO kind of quote on quote guy, you know up and down all day long so it’s, I still am attracted to any sort of transient benefits that bleed back into the digital landscape. Because that’s when you can kind of get the long term, like you know RY, right? If things can start like stacking long term over time.
Megan: What is, so can you like break that down? When you say things that lead, so transient benefits that lead into long term, like what is that mean exactly? Like…
Brian: Yeah, so I also, the new thing on the content side, right? With Big Fork Content, that I saw on that is when everybody sells like “Well, OK Great I put up that post. That post cost two hundred bucks, like do, you know, and then, and then your time and services and then after like a week we didn’t get much traffic to it and we didn’t get any attributable leads. Great, so that means I’ve failed and we shouldn’t be doing that.” And I say “No, that’s not kind of the mind to look at this. That’s not kind of how you, so like long term constant generation of a certain level of quality with a certain level of uniqueness and, you know unbiased approach and, you know can create a wall around your business and over time you can become a niche authority leader in that, on that subject. But, the day you’re having to count like “Hey, we put up these five posts,” you know “it didn’t bring back the money, let’s go invest it elsewhere.” I mean it’s, so that, that these transient, like the long term transient benefit of that, right? In my opinion is, Google’s evolving their algorithm… you know, and they have machines even evolving the algorithm on their own now. So if you’re not doing that, you know then it’s, then it’s, and your competitors are, then it’s going to be something that’s, so I mean the transient benefit back into your company is, long term, is going to be sustained rank. Like continuing either the rank that you are and ideally ranking better, for a lot of your terms. I, this is kind of one of the reasons I’ve kind of doubled down into content, is because the businesses I’ve worked with over the years who’ve really like literally try to be the source for this subject are the ones today, who are really winning., The ones who are just like looking for the shortcuts just, I mean, you know.
Megan: Right. So, yeah no that makes.. so, when you do start let’s say there’s like a company and since this podcast is more about local, I’ll say company that either, you know enterprise but locally focused or just a local business that wants to, they’re like “OK, we’re going to do some more content,” you know how do you even, again like, with the event question, how do you even start? Like what, is there I guess from a strategy perspective how do you know where to begin in kind of when you’re trying to focus on getting a very particular geographic region?
Brian: Sure, so I think that the ‘geographic play’, like let’s say you’re local, you’re a tattoo removal shop, right? And you’ve just opened up. So you sell tattoos, like you remove,
Brian: You remove people’s tattoos, right. So, that’s, I like this because it’s very, very niche. You’re not maybe an aesthetic day spa that kind of does everything.
Megan: And you could have some fun content with that too,
Brian: Oh, Absolutely.
Megan: Like, ‘Worst Tattoos Ever!’
Brian: Well or even partnering with, with a, you know partnering with a local, a local group, would you know folks who are getting out of jail. Doing like removing their tattoos for free or for cost or something. So that for like the local kind of, you know play. Can come in, to help support your SEO.
Megan: Yeah like a goodwill, nonprofit sense of… of for business, yeah.
Brian: And then, on the content side, really dedicating like “OK, this is all we do. This is a very specialized niche that we’re in, we’re not over here writing content about a wide variety of things.” So in today, in today’s model, it definitely helps to be very, very niche, if you’re trying to rank. It’s, it’s fairly easier to start up something new, if you can go create a corpus of content that is deeper than anybody else in your local market had, that anybody in your local market has. Those are the types of things I’ve seen rewarded. So, it, but it’s, but you got to, you got to like be, be reasonable, you know? You’re, you’re trying to maybe put up two articles a month, you know? At the beginning. I mean you’re not, you’re not trying to blog all the time, you’re, and you’re and the types of content you are creating, you know need to support, you know, it’s almost like, you know I guess this is where the storytellers come in, the communication PR pros would say “Yeah, create a story, follow the story, go through it.” and that’s where, you know the local, on the local side, you know, the, to me you should have some local PR like event based initiatives, at least once every six months or so. I mean you got to get out there and then you got to do things for the community and then you’ve, you know, you know this is just wrapping kind of all of this around a kind of localized business today, is what can create success long term. But really focusing is critical, and being, you know reasonable with what you can get done on a monthly basis. You know, just staying in it for the long haul. Hopefully your business is somewhat profitable, if not there already. The businesses that need to create profitability immediately through internet marketing, a lot of times can be in some trouble.
Megan: Yeah unless, I mean unless you have a great like PPC plan that can just like bring, you know turn over customers really quickly. But yeah, yeah I agree for content creation it’s much more of a long play. And speaking of that like when, you know how can… when you’re creating digital content and, you know over time are you looking for just the SEO returns or looking for social? Like what are you measuring to make that “Hey,” you know “what I’m putting out there in this local area is getting the attention?” you know what I’m talking about, tattoo removal in, I don’t know, Poughkeepsie. Like how do I know this is working, are you just looking at the keywords that are coming in? Or are there other ways?
Brian: Oh, yeah. Keywords are tough now. People are just so obfuscated that’s like…
Brian: That’s almost like
Megan: That’s true.
Brian: One of the last places, unfortunately I’m looking at. I mean you got to trust, you’re trying to trust Google’s data and can never, I’ll just never ever really
Brian: been able to fully trust it. So yeah, keywords, yeah, so I mean, in a local sense though, I mean, it is kind of visceral. So like you, you know if you’re advertising you should kind of feel a little bit of a somewhat immediate like return. I mean there should be some foot traffic in your door, you know for speaking for specifically like the local business trying to drive traffic into its door. I mean if you’re not seeing it for like three to four months, I mean I would say in that settings it’s pretty clear, like foot traffic’s not kind of doing anything, you know and we’re quote on quote investing in thousands of dollars a month in quote on quote online marketing. If things aren’t happening there, then it’s a pretty clear sign. I think most businesses will kind of have a pretty good gut feeling that things aren’t working. But, in terms of like “What should I be focused on first, what should I be focused on second?” it’s going to very much vary across business sectors. Some of the businesses that I operate with, we still do not have a Facebook page. I don’t want a Facebook page, because all that does is end up opening people to come over here and basically, and some of these verticals literally just like try to negotiate through Facebook and just literally throw out X,Y,Z reason for, so just ends up causing more harm than good. But in certain verticals like travel and passionate industries and…
Megan: Then that’s great for Facebook, Yeah.
Brian: Oh, it’s fantastic. Yeah.
Megan: Because then you put up a meme and yeah, people share it.
Brian: You’ve got to have a presence, and you’ve got to be there’s utility on the customer support side to just, the genuine, you know to show that you’re genuine company and you care about people and there’s a ton of use away from it. So, it really does depend, so I do have to say that. Because a lot of people /
Megan: Yeah! And also…
Brian: Yeah? Go ahead.
Megan: I guess a boost in rankings too, I mean that, like if you’re, just like looking up with using SEMrush or something and just seeing how your ranking for tattoo removal in city X , hopefully that over time would increase. Have you seen that increase with just content, or have you had to do like, you know outreach to get people to link to it, to really see a boost?
Brian: Yeah, it’s interesting. I do have sites where I just like, I’ve literally never done any linking just to see what happens. Like, I try to create a little bit more rich, richer contents say than my other sites that I know I’ve got. It’s a newer site, just got content on it and yeah there’s definitely like, there’s something going on there, I don’t, I think Google’s probably starting to realize that they need to get a little bit away from links like the sole kind of factor that really brings most of the web into its algorithm. So yeah, I mean content can, absolutely can pull rank I think. Similar to how links can but, really you got to be doing all of this. So I think there needs to be a healthy mix, right? So going back to this tattoo removal parlor, right? I mean you’d need to have some social, some social content, you know activity. You need to, you know have some kind of localized event based PR Initiatives, you know and as much as you can handle. And you do need to be trying to create content and be as useful and helpful to your user base as you can. And you know, creating content for your website is still something I’m going to absolutely recommend for most businesses.
Megan: Yeah, so for someone like you who’s very focused on creating content, and you know using that to build ranking and build traffic, how does your brain work? How does the brain work for people that are good at understanding how to strategize content and what do you see that maybe other people don’t see?
Brian: Well, a lot of times I’m looking for like holes or opportunities cause more often than not, folks aren’t coming to me specifically like “Hey, I need to build a successful business, help me build it. “If that’s the case, then the conversation usually is not like “Hey, I want to be a client.” it’s like “OK, well let’s partner up and let’s do this together.”.
Brian: So that obviously doesn’t come through as much, most people are just like “Hey, I need internet working to grow my business so let’s, you know, let’s go seek out consulting or advice.” so more often than not, you are coming into a scenario where something’s been, you know operational, they got a business, they got four or five million dollars a year they’re making in revenue, they’re just trying to get it to kind of the next level. So a lot of times when you’re coming in, it’s kind of, you know the game today a lot is, you know looking for holes and like looking for opportunities. So, one thought that I’ve got is this theory that Google kind of understands a like sub topic, or like a bucket of topics, per se, that you should be ranking for. And they’re you know, through the last few years of algorithms changes they’re probably already giving you some of that traffic. Maybe they’re starting to rank like an interior page that barely even mentions a term but you’re like number seven for it. Because it’s a semantically related term to the term that somebody searched for that you might be ranking for. So, in that case, like we’re either going to come in and say “Hey, let’s build a better page than that, that better focuses on that term or that specific sub topic,” or it could be a scenario where like “Look, like that page is, we don’t even want that page to rank at all.”. So sometimes it’s a game of like “Well, get rid of that page. Come out and build another new page.” and then with the hopes that that page is just better optimized for that sub topic, so then it’ll start ranking higher. So, a lot of this it’s, where I typically start is what I call a Content Gap Analysis. And that’s where we come in and survey that your competitors, your competition, survey your site, and just see what, like what’s the level of content quality the other sites have versus you and then what areas are you kind of like on the crux of ranking better for and what terms you are currently ranking really well for and just taking all of that kind of together, mashing it together and that’s really going to define kind of like next step strategies versus just saying like “Hey, you want to rank for, you know tattoo removal in this area, you know go rank content on tattoo removal.”
Megan: Right, you want to find like cause if someone else is writing, already writing the content that you’re creating, it’s like well, and if they’re ranking better, it’s like do you really want to compete with them? Or do you kind of want to go into maybe a slightly different area of tattoo removal, whatever that would be, and try to rank for that? Is that…
Brian: Yeah, or add additional value above and beyond what they’ve created. Cause there’s no shortage of that, you know?
Megan: Info graphic on tattoo removal.
Brian: You know, an info graphic, yeah info graphics are interesting I’ve got some fonts on info graphics that they’re, you know they have a place in a fit. But, a lot of times it might come down to just adding additional, like additional, like, you depending on what, the article is, additional like, unbiased opinions or reviews. I think Google is very much featuring review style content something that’s going on a lot if you see the types of sites that are in some cases outranking pretty heavily commercial sites nowadays, they’re review sites. So, there’s specific types of content that I think Google is looking for, so a lot of times it might be a scenario where we might come in and make those recommendations like “Look, we have to, we have to at all costs focus really almost on this type of content and then figure out ways to inject it into the preexisting content that we currently have.
Megan: Yeah. OK, so final question, if you could do lunch with say any marketer or any content creator, who would you pick? In the whole wide world.
Brian: Oh, that’s a good question. I think, you know it would probably be Brian Provost at Define Media group and namely because, you know it’s just the types of clients they work with are so, you know they’re larger by scale. But they just, they have their hands on a lot of technical nuances and very like, you know they work with a lot of very large publishers so I think they have a lot of insights that, you know he shared some nuggets with me over the years. But, you know, a lot of times to pick up experience you have to be in types of certain types of verticals, you have to work with certain types of clients. So, I do know that they work with some of the biggest, largest clients in the world. So, you know their data set that they have, you know on tap, to the nuances that they’ve learned from, you know optimizing the New York Times,
Megan: Wow, yeah.
Brian: And other, you know other very large, you know like about.com, Business Insider. You know, just, you know I could just sit back, you know just listen the whole time
Megan: Soak it in. Yeah
Brian: Yeah, Right.
Megan: Yeah. No, that makes sense. He could learn about pretty much any client in that vertical that is maybe smaller. Or yeah and kind of see what they’ve done already. Well cool, Brian thank you so much for being on the podcast today, I really appreciate it and all of your insights and I love that you talked about a need for a sort of a database of grass roots local marketing opportunities cause that kind of what we’re already doing at ZipSprout. So, yeah.
Brian: Yeah, thank you very much then, I guess that’s, been a pleasure, you know best of luck.
Megan: Thank you!