Steve Specializes in strategic planning for multi-location and franchise brands as the founder of Wiideman Consulting Group. He also considers himself a scientist and practitioner of local and e-commerce search engine optimization and paid search advertising. He is the author of SEO Strategy & Skills, a college textbook through Stukent. Wiideman has personally played a role in the inbound successes of brands that have included Disney, Linksys, Belkin, Public Storage, Honda, Skechers, Applebee’s, IHOP, Dole, and others. Many of the mentioned projects with an emphasis on strategy, planning, and campaign oversight. While serving as an adjunct professor at University of California San Diego and California State University Fullerton Steve is also building the Academy of Search, while volunteering time to help improve transparency and industry standards as an agency trainer.
[00:01 – 07:05] Steven’s Path to Becoming an SEO Expert
- From the Military to an SEO strategist
- The Wiideman Consulting Group
[07:06 – 21:51] Where to Start for Organic Google Traffic
- SEO Principles 101
- Choosing the right software to manage your website
- Prioritize tech, content, visibility
- Content strategy
- Marketing content
- The importance of user behavior signals
[21:52 – 50:13] SEO and Website Traffic is the Long Game
- Realistic goals for getting solid traffic
- Want some Amazon refunds? Check out Getida
- Promo code: FTM400
- Small business owner budget allocation for website
- Recovering a website with low authority
- Where to start
[50:14 – 53:11] Closing Segment
- Know more about Steven in the Fire Round
- Final words
- Connect with Steven using the links below!
“Ask your customers what you can do better. Instead of asking a marketing person who doesn’t know your customers, instead of asking a salesperson who is trying to close the deal. Ask your customers,” – Steven Wiideman
“You don’t have to do extraordinary things to be successful, you only have to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.” – Jim Rohn
- Tools for Marketing Content
- Steven’s favorite book: The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara
- Podcast Offer: https://courses.wiideman.com/
- USE CODE: SEOSTEVE (complimentary access)
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Steven Wiideman 0:46
Users you know we know what they want, they want to know the price. They want to know how quickly you can get it shipped to my house. So having those in the title and the description can actually help your click through rates. And Google will see that over time, they’ll see that more people are choosing you than the competitors. And as long as they’re staying on your website not going back to Google and choosing a competitor’s page, you should continue to see that growth. Approach one is reference, if I can get them to reference something, some study I did, some data, some sharing about our clients that the industry might be interested in sharing, getting them to reference something first because that builds authority that drives referral traffic. It’s a really good link. It’s a reference link. Next, I’ll do something a little bit more around collaboration, like hey, I noticed we’re in similar industries and we don’t sell the same products, would you be interested in kind of teaming up to do some content pieces together? Maybe a podcast, a webinar or a fun video that we can do and publish on both our websites? Is there something that we can do to collaborate and work together? You know, where we can help promote each other? And that eventually culminates into that link that you want as long as it’s in the back of your mind and you don’t forget about it. So that made a difference. And that was the first starting point was ask the customers what can we do better? Instead of asking a marketing person who doesn’t know your customers, instead of asking a sales person who you know is trying to close a deal, ask your customers, I think that’s where I would start and start to build a list of what you can chip away at.
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you’re capable of more, then join us. This show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your hosts, serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast, on today’s episode we are joined by Steve Wiideman. Steve specializes in strategic planning for multilocation and franchise brands as the founder of Wiideman Consulting Group. He also considers himself a scientist and practitioner of local e commerce search engine optimization and paid search advertising. He’s the author of SEO strategy and skills. A college textbook, sold through Stu-Kent, Wiideman has personally played a role in the inbound success of brands that have included Disney, Links, Belkin, Public Storage, Honda, Skechers, Applebee’s, Ihop, Dole and many others. Many of the mentioned projects with an emphasis on strategy planning and campaign oversight. Steve, we’re very excited to have you on the show. Welcome.
Steven Wiideman 3:24
Thanks, David. Great to be here. Definitely have had some fun experiences. And the journey has been amazing. And I’m very excited to be on the show and share some of that experience with you guys.
Definitely. So first things first, let’s talk about your path on the way to becoming an SEO expert.
Steven Wiideman 3:40
Sure, well, definitely been doing this for some years. I was in the military in the 90s, and still had a passion for computing. I love computers. And right around that time, the Internet came out and I started building websites for fun. I thought it was just super exciting, this new world where we can communicate with anyone anywhere at any time. And so I started to help small businesses that were friends who had DJ businesses, and eventually local limousine drivers and just all sorts of small companies. Because I enjoyed it, I did it for free. And then some of them started offering me money for it. And I thought, wow, that’s cool. I can make some money doing this. I really enjoy it. And the challenge was, you know, Hey, we love our our beautiful little websites with the scrolling marquees and the beveling embossed buttons and drop shadows, but we’re not making any money from it. So out of necessity, I had to learn digital marketing to sustain my little freelance business that I had going on the side. And so I just developed a passion for digital. At the time, when I got out of the service I had a couple fun small positions here and there, but I landed at IBM. I was working for IBM Global Services for the good part of six years and did the cubicle days in corporate like a lot of us older guys have and I kept telling myself while I was there, one day, I’m gonna own my own business. And when I do, I’m not doing that. I’m not gonna treat people like that and you know, just taking all these notes about what would I do? How would I do it differently? And you know, went back to school, I got my degree in e-business management, working on all aspects of what goes into the creation of a website, from the server being set up to the type of content management system that you’re using, to databases, and SQL and MySQL, to the project management piece that pulls the design and the IA and all that kind of stuff together into what eventually becomes a, you know, a website. So you know, from there, I picked up a pretty exciting job at Disney. I was the SEM Account Manager for disneyland.com commerce and marketing, as well as a new brand called Adventures by Disney, which is not new anymore. But at the time, it was this beautiful flash based website. And my boss Terry said, you know, hey, you know, your job is to make sure every month that we’re improving how many people are going to the site and taking action. I’m like, well I can’t track anything because it’s all flash, could we perhaps move it to HTML, so we can create some pages for all these great Disney Family Travel things? And he’s like, well, show me that you know SEO, and we’ll talk about what you can do for SEO and help these brands. And so I showed him at the time, like look, check it out I’m already ranking for Orange County SEO expert. And he’s like yeah but nobody searches that, this is 2006. Show me you can show up for SEO expert, and we’ll talk. So I build a web page, I optimize it, you know, with SEO expert in the title and SEO expert in the heading and use images and videos that are really emphasized around Search Engine Optimization specialist experts, etc. I get to the first page and I’m like, Terry, check it out. I’m on the first page of Google for SEO expert. And he’s like yeah, but you’re not number one. And I’m like, Oh my God, here we go. So I go back out, I do some public speaking, I get in some articles, you know, and do some interviews. A few months later, I do get that number one spot, I’m able to help the brands do some SEO work, incorporate seo into our content on our pages, talk about using words like tickets and not passports and, you know, creating specific pages for the ways that people are searching, had some incredible success. My department had moved to Celebration, Florida and I decided I wasn’t going to do that move. So I said, you know what, I’m gonna stay back and do my own thing and be an independent consultant. And from there, I’ve helped build this small little group here in La Mirada, we’ve helped some pretty exciting brands, we stay small and nimble and are very selective of the clients that we work with so that we know that we’re going to enjoy what we’re doing with the people that we’re working with and not be micromanaged, knowing that SEO is this long thing, not a short sprint, and it’s just been an incredible journey. That was a lot. But anyway, I’ll let you pick it up from there.
Yeah, no, that’s great. And, um, yeah. So Steve, I would say you have like an architect level or a principal level understanding of like a webmaster, you know, SEO, design, the whole gamut. So that’s really cool to have you on the show. Like we talked about before the show, the listeners, you know, most of our listeners are ecommerce sellers. They’re in Amazon, they might be in Walmart, and they may or may not have their own website, and the ones that do have their own website, it’s likely a Shopify or WordPress. David and I, we use WordPress on our sites, can you kind of walk through like, basic level, okay, if you do have a website, you know, what to start with first? And to get that traffic, you know, the organic Google traffic maybe get ranking? And what should people be focusing on?
Steven Wiideman 8:21
Sure. It’s a great question. I know with Amazon and Walmart, it’s a pretty competitive marketplace. And there are some things that you can do there, you know, to amplify your visibility in searches that are happening there. A lot of it stems from SEO principles like using the right search terms or keywords that people are looking for. So as we get into the traffic that you’ll get to your own website, not necessarily your Walmart or your Amazon listing, but your own website, you know, that all starts with what are you going to use to manage that site with? Are you going to use a Magento system to manage your website? Are you can use Salesforce CRM if you’re a larger brand? Or maybe we are a smaller brand, and we’re going to use something like a Shopify or a circuit networks. Circuit networks is kind of an unknown, smaller brand that we’ve worked with over the years, that also does a really good job from an E commerce standpoint. It actually started out with the name SEO cart, just to give you an idea of how SEO influenced that whole system is. So, circuit networks and Shopify are probably your starting point. Here’s where we’re going to host all these great products and sell online. What are we going to do next? Well, if we want to show up in search results, we need to pay attention to three specific areas. We need to pay attention to tech, content and our visibility off our website, because that’s what the Google bots and the Bing bots are going to be looking for. Are we providing a great experience when the user gets to our webpage? They want to show results that are secure, that emphasize privacy and security and accessibility, that are mobile friendly and beyond mobile friendly, that they’re optimized for mobile, which is something my old boss at Disney used to say all the time, it’s not just about being more mobile friendly, it’s about being optimized to show up in mobile results. So from the technology standpoint, those things are really fundamental to making sure that we’re providing a good experience. Next is going to be our content strategy. So with E commerce, we have two really important templates that we have to pay attention to. One is our category pages, right, our broader search terms that don’t convert quite as well, because they go after the broad category of what we’re targeting. And they’re very competitive, the keywords that we’re optimizing for on those categories, there’s 1000s of other retailers and resellers and brands that are competing for those same broad search terms, and business owners who are very myopic around traffic and their rankings for those broad keywords. And it’s unfortunate for them, because those of us who’ve been doing digital marketing know that the best customers are those that type in specific longer tail keywords, who are ready to buy. Those are the fun clients, those are the ones that bring in the revenue. And those are the content strategies that play a role in our actual product detail pages. So thinking about how our site’s structured, you know, we’ve got our categories, and then we’ve got our product detail pages. And we’re going to emphasize optimization at scale for both of those, and maybe even do a little bit of manual work on those categories and those products that we know drive the most revenue for us. One example, if you want to sort of cookie cutter, a website that’s done really well over the years went from, you know, non existent to a $74 million a year business is Bob’s watches. If you go to www.bobswatches.com, and you look at their Rolex categories, Rolex Submariner YachtMaster, really, really study the different attributes that you see on that page, look at the titles and the headings, look at the paragraph or the short paragraphs that are being used above content, above the products, look at how the product names are used. Look at the product image names, look at the content that’s below the product listings, really study what Bob’s has done, if you want to get an understanding of what has worked to get us to rank for competitive keywords. Those product detail pages, those need to be the most helpful of anything on your website, the most detailed. And the easiest way to do that, if you can’t scale, if you’ve got, you know, 1000 products, and you’ve got three people at the helm in your SEO office, is to use user generated content, those people who purchased a product that you’ve got more than one of, Rolex might be a little bit different there, because there’s usually some specification that would make that watch unique from another watch. But in a normal ecommerce environment, you’ve got an inventory of the same product. So why not drive the user back to the page where they made the purchase to leave a review about what they liked about the product, what they were looking for? Just offer them a simple field of you know, Hey, did you have a good experience and like what you had? Great. Would you be willing to send us more? And a lot of people won’t. But if they do, the ones that do, will give you a lot of really good custom content that you can put on your actual product detail pages. And yeah, you’ve got to have somebody there to vet it, someone’s got to make sure that they’re not saying something that contradicts what your intent is to get somebody to buy. But if your users can do that, and you can guide them when they’re leaving reviews to say, what were some of the product specs that you were looking for when you made this purchase? What made this product stand out from something else? Really ask questions that will get you the answers you need to create the custom content for you. So that you’ve got unique local or unique product detail pages that will help consumers to get more information about what users are thinking and for web crawlers to find all those juicy keywords that we want those pages to rank for. And that’s where you’re really going to dominate. If you can get, in an ecommerce site, if you can get all of your customers to leave a specific product review, that’s very detailed, that has a lot of their own opinion of it, and have that automatically added to that product detail page, you’re going to stand out so much more than the competition, you’re going to appear for a wider array of keywords with every new review that’s added to that page, and you’re gonna see your search results just continue to grow over time. So that’s on the lower funnel side, right? Those are the customer driving pages. But the customer driving pages don’t help us with our Off Page visibility, criteria number three in SEO. They only help us to make sure we’re providing a good experience and that search engines can test us for keywords that we think our pages should rank for. But how do we get other websites to link to us? Well, that’s where the content marketing piece comes in. That’s where the upper funnel, authority, trust building, link attracting content comes into play. And this is where we can have a lot of fun, we can be more casual. We don’t have to follow sales principles like urgency and scarcity and trust and authority. We don’t need all of those sales principles in our marketing content. We can be fun and casual and helpful. Maybe even a little goofy, maybe even a little sexy, maybe even a little controversial. One of the things that I know that users, search engines and industry folks really are attracted to is data. So if we know something about our customers that nobody else knows, and we can share that in some sort of an upper funnel content piece, that’s something new sites will pick up. That’s PR worthy. So something like if Apple said, what’s the number one app that iPhone users use? Would you be interested in knowing? Probably, it’s curious, right? Curiosity makes you wonder what is it? I want to know what it is, because I might want to use it. So coming up with stats that only you know about your customers and sharing that content to find out what keywords people are using that correspond to those types of data sharing, you might use some free tools like www.answerthepublic.com. If you’re using an SEO platform like sem rush, or conductor search light, you can punch in one or two words of whatever that is that you’re planning on sharing, to see how people are searching using those words, and then place those terms into the copy as you’re starting to write it. That way the page not only is helpful and linkable and shareable, but it’s optimized to appear for the different ways that people are searching. So that’s where I would start with a content strategy, and I wouldn’t put that on your blog. The blog seems to be a default way to just shove our greatest content somewhere on our website. It’s easy, it’s simple, it doesn’t require thinking just shove it on the blog. Problem with that is that you’re not using it to support your ability to rank those really competitive category pages. So if instead, we started to nest our best content under our categories, so that our category isn’t just a category, page and products, but helpful supportive content, like the history of the product, whatever it is, the benefits, the uses, the examples, the photos, the user reviews, all of that different supportive content can fall underneath the silo that’s beneath that category. Shopify doesn’t allow you to do that yet. They’re working on ways that you can create custom permalinks. But Shopify forces you to put your best content, non product content, somewhere else on the website. So there’s the challenge that I’m sure their product departments working through. I did talk to Kevin recently about that. And Kevin’s SEO at Shopify, and he said there are some things are working on to give you more control over how you’re structuring content on your website. So fingers crossed that they implement that. But every time that we do this, every time that we create supportive content underneath the section of the website, thinking about the the web address forward slash, the category, forward slash the content, right, in your address bar, as opposed to blog, dot, you know, your site, dot com, gives you the ability to create a silo or a taxonomy that’s conducive to helping your broader page to rank better. Not just because it’s underneath the folder in the URL, but because you’re going to use breadcrumbs in your site homepage, category, and supportive page and those breadcrumbs will contain links back to that category page to help that category page to rank better knowing how important links are. So I think we addressed a couple different things, right, we talked about, you know the technical component of making sure we’re on the right system, and that users are able to have a safe, secure, and fast and mobile friendly, mobile optimized experience. And that our content is really keyword rich and driven by user generated content on the lower funnel side. And on the upper funnel side getting really creative and solving problems and answering questions that our users have or might have, that could attract links to our site on its own. I think those are really fundamental toward, you know, our basic SEO, our technical, our content. And then hopefully, that content drives are off page so that we don’t have to pick up the phone and say, Hey, will you link to me because my competitor has 1000 links, I only have 11. If we can create some great things that people are searching for people will link naturally. And I know this, because we just did a study a few months back. And we’ve never really asked anybody to link to it. And yet, we’ve earned nearly 400 links to this page. And it was just a study on local pages. It was really kind of a fun little goofy thing that we did to better understand higher ranking local pages. The one thing we didn’t talk about, though, David and Ken, is user behavior signals, and how important they are. So what if you’ve got the best content? So what if you’ve got the most links? If there’s 10 listings for a user to choose in the search results, and your listing doesn’t stand out, nobody’s gonna click on it. So what’s the point of ranking if you’re not going to get clicked on? Our goal is to make sure that when users do see us that we’re using some really click enticing copy, and maybe even using some rich results. Google has this really, really fun gallery that you can explore called the rich snippets Gallery, and it shows you all the different ways that you can make your listing stand out in search results. For products and thinking about e commerce, we could probably get a product thumbnail, a picture of our product, or even a video thumbnail if we’re able to put a video on our page as well, so that users on a mobile device, since most our users are on mobile devices, won’t just see a blue link and black text. They’ll see a blue link, black text right next to a thumbnail, or better a thumbnail and some star reviews since you’ve got those ratings on your page as well. Now you really stand out. Now you’ve got a thumbnail, you’ve got some star ratings. You’re not just a blue link and a black text, you stand out In the search results. And if you’re practicing price transparency, you might even have the price of the product or starting at the category level, in your actual title tag. Users, you know, we know what they want, they want to know the price, they want to know how quickly you can get it shipped to my house. So having those in the title and the description can actually help your click through rates. And Google will see that over time, they’ll see that more people are choosing you than the competitors. And as long as they’re staying on your website, not going back to Google and choosing a competitor’s page, you should continue to see that grow. So let’s just say our content gets us to the second page of Google. The links and the visibility and the mention of our brand and our types of products off the website, get us to page one, and we’re stuck there at the number 10, number nine position. It’s going to be that user behavior from say, month six until forever, that’s going to determine whether Google is going to stick us there at the top or not, eventually, the content and links don’t matter as much. It matters whether users are finding us helpful, and more helpful than the competing results that show up. So that’s where I’d put the rest of my emphasis, once I know my content is great. And I know that every month I’m earning links, I’m going to focus on how can I make my listing standout. And then the only other thing I would do after that point, if you’re doing an organic SEO strategy, is look at all of the other ways that I can take over that first page. I know my listing is there now, what about that video carousel? Can I get my video into that by doing some optimization and getting into other playlists and getting people to link to my video? Can I get into the image results? Maybe there’s a few images that show up as well? Can I optimize my images well? Maybe use the newest image format, web P, maybe name my image with my product name dot jpg, instead of just IMG 00156 dot jpg. What are some things that I can do to be in all of those different results. So now you’ve got the shopping ads, you’ve got the image carousel, the video carousel, and you’ve got your rich results in the organic search results, you’ve taken over 50% of the real estate that’s available on a search. And now you’re thinking about universal search results, and not just how people are searching, but what they’re looking for when they search. I think that’s, if you’re putting together an SEO plan, those are the features that I would pay the most attention to, that tech, that content strategy, the Off Page strategy, as well as trying to affect and test user behavior signals over time. I’ve been rambling on and on and on and no one’s interrupted me. David, Ken, anything you want to throw out there?
This is no, this is wonderful. This is a lot of really good stuff to dig into and set the stage for our next round of questions. You know, one thing that you mentioned at the beginning was that SEO and website traffic is the long game. And I am curious, like when you’re talking with your clients to set expectations, what is a realistic goal or target for getting solid traffic to a website? How long does it take? And at what point do you reach and do you say after a year this is a failure, or after two years this is a failure? Or how long do you wait to kill a project?
Steven Wiideman 23:09
I think I don’t believe in failure, personally. I’ve never had a client or project or something that I couldn’t execute on. And if you do all the right things, now, Jim Rohn has this thing that I really enjoy and and I use this a lot, is that you don’t have to do extraordinary things to be successful, you only have to do ordinary things extraordinarily well. And if we’ve addressed all of those principles of SEO, and we know our page is the most helpful, we know that our content is better and more helpful than the competition, and we know that we’re getting more off page visibility every month, there’s, and that we’re testing our search behavior focal points, there’s no way you’re going to lose if you’re working in nurturing those things over time it’s water and sunlight. You know, water and sunlight don’t kill your plants. They they grow them. So I’ve rarely seen it not work. The only time it doesn’t work, and I don’t want to throw business owners under the bus, but the only time it doesn’t work is when the business owners won’t approve, or they delay approvals on things that play an impact on our rankings. Yeah, I know that can help SEO, but I don’t like it I don’t want to do it. Right. Yeah, that’s important and yeah, I know how to put I need to put some budget into it, but I’d rather focus on something else. Right. It’s when they start saying no and kicking back on things that are part of that roadmap, that become the hurdle to seeing those results. It’s already been six months. I don’t think this is working, I want to give up, right? It’s like you don’t give up on your garden. Right? It might be slow growing, but you don’t give up on it. And that’s where those folks that do get those top positions succeed, is they continue to chip away and nurture, you know, their version of the page that they want to rank. And sometimes it does take two years, for really competitive keywords it could take as high as three or four years. But is it worth it if you can generate $24 million from a Rolex Submariner page per year? Is it worth it? You know, to put 2 3 $4000, here and there into new tests to make our page better, to get the user through an experience, where they only have to use their thumb, better. Where they get through an E commerce experience with just voice assistant technology. Right? I think there’s a lot of ways that businesses can be successful if they’re willing to have patience, and tolerance for how long that long game is. In some cases, now every industry is going to be different. If you’re doing underwater basket weaving kits, right, there’s not going to be a lot of competition. And you’re probably going to rank very quickly, if you’re able to create some really good content and great images of your products, and maybe even some product videos, you could probably rank pretty quickly. But if you’re going after something competitive, like iPhone 13 case, right, if you’re Linksys, you know who you mentioned earlier, when you’re going after something like that, or Belkin, and you know, there’s 1000s of websites that are all going after that broad search term, it’s probably going to take some time and some real creativity. And sometimes you’ve got to come up with something that no one’s ever thought of, something innovative. Maybe create a persona, or a voice, or a special brand just for that type of product, that goes viral. And everyone’s searching for that particular content, not necessarily the case, but the content because they thought that was that interesting. Like, hey, did you ever see the commercial for such and such that was the funniest thing ever. And they remember that and they search for it, and they land on your website, you get that authority, you build those links, you become the name that’s semantic to the product, and people are talking about you off the website. And suddenly your page starts to rank because Google’s finding all of that content with the keywords, and your name, even though they’re not specifically about buying a product, you know, you just have to get really creative sometimes. You know who’s done really well with that is Old Spice. If you look back at their YouTube campaign, they didn’t just, you know, create, this is a deodorant brand of all things who’s going to link to or share or engage in that kind of content? Turns out millions of people do because they created a fun, engaging internet responses campaign. Old Spice guy got on a video with some flowers in his hand and a pen, and he says, Alyssa Milano, I’m writing you a love letter, right? And he gets her to respond, she responds in her video and says, and with a towel on and everything with the flowers in the background, Old Spice guy, I have your flowers, and I have a challenge for you. You know, the internet blows up, everyone’s talking about Old Spice and Old Spice guy. And you know, it’s just, you have to think out of the box a little bit sometimes when it comes to our off paid signals and how much they could benefit us. And that’s something a lot of companies don’t do. The business owners are very bottom line driven sometimes, revenue, revenue, revenue revenue, forget about brand awareness, forget about creativity, we need to sell product. And if you’re that business owner, you’re gonna fail at SEO long term. You might rank in three to six months and do okay. But eventually you’re going to drop, because your attitude and perspective toward what SEO can do for you are off. If you’re able to say hey, I’m going to spend, you know, 50% of my time really nurturing that lower funnel content, making sure it’s better and it’s growing, and it’s converting better. And 50% of my time coming up with creative ideas, you know, to try to attract links and build our brand beyond just what we’re doing with our products, you’re gonna crush it. So I don’t know if that answers your question. But that’s kind of the perspective that I’ve had and the experience that I’ve seen when it comes to buy in, for sure.
Sorry to interrupt the episode, you may have heard Ken and I talking recently about a new tool that we’re using for Amazon refunds. Now I have used other refund tools like this. However, I can tell you in the first seven days, they scrubbed the back end of my Amazon account going back 18 months, and found $5,000 of refunds. And the nice thing about this is, it’s my money, Amazon made a mistake and they are just auditing my account. The other thing I really like about this tool is there is no monthly fee, they only charge a commission if they are successful in getting you your money. Go to www.getida.com GETIDA and enter promo code FTM for firing the man FTM 400. This is an awesome tool. I can’t say enough good things about it. Now back to the episode. It does, and you probably see me smiling over here, you just described a push and pull that Ken and I are going through currently as business owners. So just to kind of set the stage my background is I’m a CPA, my brain is organized into rows and columns. And Ken is very much the website guy, likes the creative content. And on a monthly basis, there’s a push and pull on how much budget do we allocate to blog articles? And yesterday, Ken reminded me about brand awareness. And so if you’re a counselor, alright, if you’re counseling Ken and I, you know, what advice would you lend? Did I, like and I’m not just asking for Ken and I, but like more broadly if someone’s wrestling with this in there mind like, I have a limited budget, I could spend it on all kinds of things. How much of that budget should they allocate towards their website and content? And how do you find that balance?
Steven Wiideman 30:11
Sure, I think having a roadmap helps to find that better than anything. I think if you take the time, and you look at your historical search term data from Google Search Console, and your Google ads search query reports, and then you take the competitive insights, you look at the keywords that the competitors are getting traffic from that you’re not, using tools like conductor and SEM rush. And then you take, I don’t know, two to three months, and you build out an actual content roadmap, using URLs and say, this is what our URLs are going to look like when we’re done with this. And it might be five years down the road when you’re finally done with it. But creating that roadmap first is a way for you to have some peace of mind in knowing what you need to create on your website to attract all of the people in all the ways that they’re searching for what you offer. I think having that roadmap is the first place that I would start. And then, if you’re doing it right and you’re using search volume metrics, those pages will also have a column next to them in whichever workbook you’re using, Excel or Google Sheets, with the aggregate search volume for those terms, obviously, you’re not going to create a sub page first if you don’t have a category page. So as you’re creating these silos and organizing your content strategy, you’re probably going to start publishing the broader category level grandparent pages first, before you start creating the parent and child pages later on. So I would start with that roadmap and those keywords that have the highest aggregate search volume, and work your way through it. Now, if you’re gonna, if you only have a budget to do one a week, then you do one a week. With Meineke Car Care, you know, as we started to think about how we wanted to attract links and get brand awareness, they said based on our resource constraints, we can probably knock out one per week. Fantastic. So let’s do this, Wednesday through Monday, let’s get some pictures done. Let’s do a video. Let’s do some research, you know, and come up with the best possible page for how to jumpstart your car battery. And then let’s publish it on Tuesday. And then let’s do a little bit of fast follow to get some other websites that talk about the same content to share ours, while our content team is working on the next page. So every Tuesday they launched a page of content. By the end of the year, they had 52 pages. In 18 months, they had driven nearly half 1,500,000 visits to their website, and they earned over 300 links. So, and earned they didn’t have to do any outreach to get those links, they earned them. So it was a pretty amazing case study of what a brand can do with a limited marketing team to create content, and you just put that calendar together and say, every Tuesday we’re going to launch this, you know, a content piece, it’s going to contain all these different checklist items. Like I’d mentioned images, video, charts, graphs, you know, bullet lists, anything that’s not just paragraph, paragraph paragraph, break it up with subheadings, break it up with a coupon deal or an ad or something if you want to just break it up. So the page has good flow and isn’t just a throw up of content that you ordered from some text broker. I think that’s the starting point in a way that you can get into it. And heck, heck, if you can do one a month, that’s still better than not producing anything, I wouldn’t focus on how much you can produce. If you do that you have the wrong mindset. If we just tons of content out there as much as we can, the content quality is going to go down, because now you’re focused on content for the sake of having content instead of content for the sake of having the best content. And I think that’s where the divide is. Now with the blog, as I mentioned, I would still use the blog to curate some of your best content and link to it, maybe even copy some of your best content and use that canonical tag so that Google knows what the actual version of that page that should be indexed is. I think you can do that. But I think the emphasis of the blog is really for company news, industry news, product news. It could be you know, something that’s happening in the world, that’s your company or your products relate to that you can talk about, because that RSS feed is going to get buried over time. People who subscribe aren’t going to want to read sales content, they want to see what’s happening right now. And what’s interesting right now. I think your best content, your how to, where to, your when, whats, guides, strategies, ideas, tips, checklists, all of that belong as evergreen content in supportive of your product categories. If you’re talking about ecom, I wouldn’t put that best content on the blog, I might share it on the blog, and link back to it and canonicalize it but I don’t think that that would be my strategy for content. So I think, you know, if you are a small business owner, and you’re thinking what can I do first, I would start with doing that roadmap, take that existing data, you know, put together a content plan in an Excel workbook of how you want to organize the content on your website based on the keywords that you found. It does take a few months to do it. It’s a lot of keyword research. But it’s worth it because that’s the end all roadmap now I know exactly what I need on my website to maximize my search visibility. And if my pages aren’t ranking, I’ll go to a consultant and say, what am I doing wrong? Why aren’t my pages ranking, and get some tips on how I can evolve what I’m doing to attract new organic traffic.
Nice. So Steve, we’re a little bit in the weeds here on one, let’s say a website, you know, the owners got the website pretty dialed in with SEO, they’ve got you know, they’re passing core web vitals, everything, you know, your technical, your content. And now you’re on the off site, specifically, you know, maybe the site has a low authority, it’s new, it’s, you know, six months old, a year old. What do you recommend in terms of let’s say, the site’s not attracting any links? Do you recommend outreach? What do you recommend to get to get backlinks to get the authority up?
Steven Wiideman 35:32
Sure. That’s a common question we get, it’s also one of the biggest challenges, I think, in search marketing, it’s not just taking the time to do all that crazy keyword research, it’s also figuring out how do we get other websites to link to us. One thing I don’t want businesses to do is get hung up on metrics. I don’t use domain authority, I don’t use any sort of names that href score, rank score, I don’t use those to measure my performance or my success. I might use them in doing a little bit of my link research in terms of knowing where I want to do some starting outreach. But I don’t look at the numbers, specifically, I just look at hey, is this number higher than the one that’s got zero or a 13 out of 100? When I’m trying to measure what sites I’d want to add to that list, so just try not to get hung up on metrics and focus on principles and just know if every month you’re doing those principle based things that it’s going to get better. Now, the way that I start with a link building strategy, first place I start is I’ll do a link intersect. Sometimes I’ll take 20 to 50 I’ve even gone as high as 100 competitors in a particular market space. And I’ll take all of those, run them through www.ahrefs.com, and find out where all their links are coming from run a pivot table to see the common links between all of the competitors. And if I’m under resourced, I might take all of the onesie twosies and just put them to the side and call them link expansion that I might look at in a year or two from now. But for now, I’m going to take all of those intersecting links that the competitors have earned and break them down by category. I’d look at, you know, these are industry portals, these are news sites, these are product review sites, these are coupon sites, take all of those and those become different projects for different team members. Maybe I’ll outsource to the Philippines or India, on some of the placements related opportunities. And some of the ones that require some outreach, maybe I’ll keep them in house and have, you know, a small pace of trying to go after the links that our competitors have earned. The reason I want to start there is because you think about the way that search algorithms work. And you think about categorization. And if we can be everywhere our competitors are, like every time a competitor is found, we’re also there, that tells the search engines how to categorize us and how to sub categorize us, and we’ll start to appear for words that we don’t even have content for, simply because we’re showing up in the same place as our competitors are. So I think that’s where I would start is that competitor intersect. And there’s a tool in www.ahrefs.com that you can use called the link intersect tool. It’s interesting, and it allows you to do 10 at a time, but I like to do the full blown, you know, link analysis and use a full industry study, not just 10 of my direct competitors, because then I have a much more broad picture of where I need to go. And I find a lot of really interesting industry websites that will also generate referral traffic for me and not just benefit my SEO. Next, I’ll look at broken links, go into your Google Analytics, go to the content section in your Google Analytics, click on title, and then filter anything that says not found. And if you see all of these pages that are not found, and they’re coming from external sources, let’s create some redirects and redirect them to the best corresponding page, not to our homepage, because Google is going to count that as a soft four error, we want it to go to the best corresponding page for the user so that search engines still pass that wonderful PageRank that they use when they crawl through links. So I’ll get all those broken links cleaned up, I might use a tool like Ahrefs and see where other links are coming from too. But the ones I care about the most are the ones that are actually sending traffic. So I look at the analytics first. And then I’ll use other link tools, maybe even find some links that are going to competitors that are broken, and say, you know, hey, I noticed you linked to a competitor that’s not around anymore, or that doesn’t have that product, if you’d like you can update your link and point to our products. You know, we’re definitely looking to try to grow our business and, you know, we saw that you had a broken link and thought we might be able to help you. That might be an approach you can go after as well. The next thing I’d look at is unlinked mentions. Anywhere that they’re talking about your brand, your company, but they’re not linking to you, you can simply reach out and say you know, it’d be really helpful to your readers if they could click our name and visit our website. Anytime you ask for a link, it’s like immediately you know, it’s there’s this stigma about it. So be really careful in how you’re going about outreach to earn links. Start with the relationships first, start with you know, the dialogue back and forth about the business and how we could work together. Don’t mention links in any initial outreach, the link comes after the outreach and getting the response comes from first. So if you get a response, then you have a much better opportunity of earning that link. But the moment you ask for a link in an email, it’s like I said, there’s a stigma about it, and people are really turned off by it. So I would just, you know, I get them all the time, like, hey, I can read your article, I think it’s great. And you know, I got a resource for it, if you want to link to it, I don’t even read it. It’s like, you don’t even know us, you don’t even you’re not even willing to take the time to get to know us to see how we could collaborate or work together, you’re just going after the links, you don’t care about me or my company or our page, you just want to link. So think about that, you know, in your outreach approach, and how we go after it. You know, what’s our strategy? What do we do? We like to use tools like Buzzstream, or Link Research Tools or pitch box, we can use them as CRMs. And I go after four different approach types approach one is reference, if I can get them to reference something, some study I did, some data, some sharing about our clients that the industry might be interested in sharing, getting them to reference something first, because that builds authority, that drives referral traffic. It’s a really good link, it’s a reference link. Next, I’ll do something a little bit more around collaboration, like, Hey, I noticed we’re in similar industries, and we don’t sell the same products, would you be interested in kind of teaming up to do some content pieces together? Maybe a podcast, a webinar, or a fun video that we can do and publish on both our websites? Is there something that we can do to collaborate and work together, you know, where we can help promote each other? And that eventually culminates into that link that you want, as long as it’s in the back of your mind and you don’t forget about it. The next one is contribution. What can I contribute? Hey, I noticed that you don’t talk a lot about this particular topic. We’ve done a lot of research on that, and we haven’t really shared it anywhere. We’re thinking about going to this other website, because they get a lot of traffic. But we’re big fans of your brand and we’d love to give you that content first. In fact, I’ve attached it to the email if you want to read it. And if you like it great, you’re more than welcome to use it just give us attribution in the author bio, you know, otherwise, let me know and we’ll give it to your competitor, this other website that we’re thinking about.
The next one would be, it comes with kind of a red flag and that’s sponsorship, figuring out ways that you can sponsor local events in your community, in your industry. Those sponsorships sometimes result in you also getting traffic and getting a link back. But be careful, because when you’re sponsoring something you’re paying for that sponsorship, and Google might look at that as you’re paying for that link, especially if it says a list of our sponsors. Google knows that sponsors paid to have that link on that page, and that could count against you. And it really should have an attribute that says rel equals sponsored and not pass as much PageRank so that you don’t get in trouble for trying to buy links. That would be the last approach. So reference, collaboration, contribution, and then sponsorship is the route that I go starting at reference, want a reference, that’s great. You want to work together? No. How about we just give you something? No, well, maybe we can sponsor something on your site or you can replace your google adsense ad with our banner ad for a few months, there’s always an angle, don’t let anyone tell you, you’re never gonna get a link from this website. I love when someone tells me that because that’s when I get the best at what I do. That’s when I get really creative and really goofy. And then I come back a week later and like, remember when you said I couldn’t get a link?
Steven Wiideman 43:03
You know? So if someone tells you you can’t get a link, then you have the wrong resource.
Very cool. Yeah, no, I was I don’t know if you noticed or not, I was taking notes as you were going down there. So, a couple of those we do not do and so David, I got a project for next week, I’m going to need to help with your Excel pivot table expertise there, so.
Steven Wiideman 43:22
Oh, great. I’m gonna get an email from David about, thanks a lot, I was planning on enjoying the holidays. But, hey Wiideman.
So for our listeners that have say a nonperforming website, we have, over the course of this episode talked about a lot of different strategies, a lot of different ways to get traffic. And I think, you know, Ken and I have been nerding out all episode, absolutely eating all of this up. But to the listener that may be overwhelmed at all of the possible things to do, if you could give them a step one, here is on your roadmap, which I really like how you outlined that, here’s your step one, what would that be?
Steven Wiideman 44:05
Ask your customers, one in every 10 visitors get a little light box that says, would you be willing to give us some feedback? And ask them some questions. Questions could include things like, if you didn’t purchase today, what was the reason and what could we have done better? Right? What would you like to see on our website that would make you come visit and shop more often? And maybe even have some checkboxes like, it was price was too high or it was hard to read the text on the page, site didn’t feel as professional. If you went to another website and plan on going to another website and purchasing, what is it about that website that you like better that we can improve on? I think just asking your customers first what they want to see, your visitors, I think that’s going to be really crucial and if you’re getting like zero traffic and one out of 10 means one person, then you could still do it but you might instead run a survey I like to use Amazon Mechanical Turk. We did this with Jacuzzi, and we were trying to figure out why is Lowe’s and Home Depot constantly beating Jacuzzi when they’re the freaking brand? Right? What’s the deal? And we did this survey, we asked 1000 people, which of these pages would you purchase from and why? And we didn’t tell them which one was the client, right? It was Lowe’s, Home Depot, and jacuzzi. And then we took all that feedback, and we themed it. What’s this person’s answer? What’s the theme of their answer? Price transparency. What’s the theme of their answer? It’s hard to find what I’m looking for. What’s the theme of this answer? Site was too dark, or it seemed like a sales brochure site, not a place I can actually buy. So we took all of those, and then we ran another pivot table. So hate me again later, David. But we ran a pivot table to see what the common themes were from that study. And the common theme was price transparency, Home Depot’s pages and Lowe’s pages had prices, and jacuzzi didn’t. So now when you go to the jacuzzi website, even though their resellers don’t want them promoting prices, they still have a price feature now or a reveal price. So it was a lead gen aspect of it. But at least the price is available now. So that made a difference, and that was the first starting point was asking the customers, what can we do better? Instead of asking a marketing person who doesn’t know your customers, instead of asking a salesperson who, you know, is trying to close the deal, ask your customers. I think that’s where I would start and start to build a list of what you can chip away at.
I really like that. That’s genius. We do not use that right now and so I think, we have a pop up asking for an email on exit intent, so I think maybe we change that pop up that’s asking for an email on exit intent, maybe we ask them why they’re exiting. And so that’s, yeah.
Steven Wiideman 46:33
Rotate and tests, right? There’s no, let’s just do it, always tests. Let’s test, let’s roll this out in a percentage of businesses, you know, test everything. And I know tests seem complicated and hard. But as you start doing them, it gets easier and easier and easier. But I always think of these things as tests because it’s never gonna be just one thing. And it could be really scary if you roll out something, and it has a detrimental impact on conversion. So always test.
Absolutely. Yeah, so I could go in the weeds for hours with you, Steve on all this stuff. But I know we have time limits and so, one more question I have before we get into the fire round is, let’s say someone is doing everything we talked about right, they have all three of the game plans set up, everything is right. And they’re like, Okay, I want to pour gas on this fire. What is, in your experience with your clients, bang for buck ROI? Like, what do you suggest, you know, Google, Facebook ads, YouTube ads, more content? What do you think? What’s working?
Steven Wiideman 47:32
I’m definitely biased on Google. I look at the analytics every day and even if paid social is doing well, organic is still the highest driver, especially for larger brands, is the highest driver of traffic. So for me, I’m all about Google and the most bang for your buck in terms of ROI, the paid ads, if it’s set up correctly, and not just kind of done in house, but you’ve got an expert who comes in and sets up your Google Ads campaigns, you’re going to get the most bang for your buck from that because the paid ads do perform better. And you do get higher click through rates when they see your brand more than once. So if they see a paid ad, and an organic ad, you’re going to get a higher click through rate in both from the competition because you show up more often. More importantly, because you’re putting money into paid ads and search, is you’re getting tons of data, the search term reports you know exactly what search terms produce customers. So you take those search term reports and you augment your SEO strategy with those search terms. Two things happen, your cost per click, cost per acquisition goes down in your Google ads. And you know, and your quality scores go up. Because now you’re addressing the search terms that you’re trying to advertise against, and you’re using them on the pages. So the Google Ads bot crawls the page to see if your ad relevancy score, or your landing page relevancy score is on par, they’ll be able to match up those search terms to the words that they find on the page and give you better scores. So having that data, and then same thing on the placement data, right, so we can, we can use with the keywords and search terms, we can use both to help both, use our search term reports and search console as keywords in our ad groups, use the search terms from our ad group converting terms in our organic strategy to bring in visitors that actually produce customers. The second part is placements. So the placement reports are really fun, not so much the remarketing when you’re doing remarketing, they could go anywhere on the web and your ads gonna appear. But when you’re doing specific placement targeting and saying you’re, we use the iPhone case as an example, so let’s go to TechCrunch and use that as one of our placements for our Google ads. So we go into our placement campaign we say we want to target TechCrunch and Mashable and some other tech sites. And we find out which ones of those are actually producing customers for us. Then we go back to those sites individually and we say hey, could we do something a little bit more native with you maybe do something where we have a sponsored ad and some banners, maybe swap out the Google ads in the section with our ad. And we’ll pay a premium for it because we’re getting customers, then you go back a few months later, and you say, hey, we’ve been advertising with you and spending money with you for a while, and we’d like to do something a little bit more organic. Would you be willing or interested in doing a content piece together? They’re more likely to say yes, because they don’t want to lose you as an advertiser. And then you get the organic link from it, and it might take a year to get there. But if you can get a link from, you know, a TechCrunch, or a Mashable, I mean, why not, right? So, I think that’s where I would start to get the most bang for your buck is doing paid search because you get so much data that can help augment your organic strategy, both at the content level and off page.
Perfect. One quick follow up on that. Do you notice better organic when you’re running Google paid ads?
Steven Wiideman 50:47
There’s not a direct correlation between the two in terms of one affecting the other.
Steven Wiideman 50:52
But there’s a causation attribute because of the higher click through rates.
Okay, gotcha. Perfect. So, David, any last questions for Steve, before we go into the fire round?
Let’s get into it.
All right, Steve, are you ready?
Steven Wiideman 51:05
Born ready. Let’s do this thing.
Let’s do it. Okay. The fire round, we ask four questions of all of our guests. What is your favorite book?
Steven Wiideman 51:13
My favorite book is, oooh that’s a good one. Actually it would probably be something really strange. It’s Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It’s a book about the Civil War. I’m a Civil War buff.
Awesome. What are your hobbies?
Steven Wiideman 51:27
My hobbies are traveling and writing and reading.
Very cool. What is one thing that you do not miss about working for the man?
Steven Wiideman 51:36
The most, the thing I do not miss the most is limited ability to use your skills. You’ve got a billion ideas, and they won’t take any of them just do your job and go home. That’s the one thing I will never miss.
Perfect. The last one. What do you think sets apart successful entrepreneurs from those who give up, fail or never get started?
Steven Wiideman 51:56
Who is around you, helping you. I think the people that are part of your business, that are helping you to grow your business and are bought into your vision, are going to be the most important part of it. If you’re going at it on your own, you’re going to fail. But if you get the right people around you to help you and support you even when you fall, you’re going to be successful.
Excellent advice. David, you want to close out the show?
Yeah, Steve, if someone wants to get ahold of you, what’s the best way?
Steven Wiideman 52:20
Sure. I’m everywhere on social my handle is SEO Steve. Also the team here, we love to help people, so if there’s something that we can do to look at your site or give you some free advice, our handle is wiideman WIIDEMAN, across all social channels. And if you want to learn a little bit more about this stuff, I do have a site called Academy of search. Your listeners are more than welcome to take the course for free. Similar course I teach at Cal State Fullerton, just use code SEO Steve and you’ll get free access.
Very nice. And we will post links to all of that in the show notes. Steve, want to thank you for being a guest on the firing the man podcast and looking forward to staying in touch.
Steven Wiideman 52:56
Likewise. Thanks, guys.
Yep, thanks, Steve.
Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s firing the man podcast. If you liked this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com and check out our resource library for exclusive firing the man discounts on popular e commerce subscription services. That is www.firingtheman.com\resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business. For that, head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at firing the man, and on YouTube at firing the man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer
and Ken Wilson. We’re out
Before you go, fun fact for all you Amazon sellers out there. When you start selling an international marketplaces, all of your reviews come with you. At the beginning of this year, Ken and I sat down and talked of ways that we could double our businesses in size and landed on international expansion as our number one initiative this year. We partnered up with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing e commerce and he has made the process an absolute breeze walking us step by step through the process. If you want to grow your revenue and reach new customers head on over to www.maximizingecommerce.com/fire and connect with Kevin Sanderson today. Now back to the show.
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