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4 Unorthodox Ways Of Scaling Your Traffic In 2020




Tristam: Good afternoon, good morning, or good evening to wherever you're tuning in today. It's another SEMrush Live. I'm your host, Tristam, and today I'm being joined by the awesome Eric. Eric, how are you today, man?

Eric: I'm doing well. Thanks for having me, Tristam.

Tristam: So Eric a couple of ice breaker things I've found about you, you currently are running two podcasts, you're the CEO of Single Grain, and I hear that you're a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. What else have you been up to, if that's not enough?

Eric: Mostly I focus my time on kind of continuing to build audiences and investing. We do have an operator that runs the agency and then I have a SaaS product called ClickFlow as well. 

Tristam: Awesome. And I take that you find time to sleep in between all these projects and businesses.

Eric: I try. It's tough though, but yeah, we'll make it work.

Tristam: Yeah. Eric, if you could just intro us into what you're going to be presenting today whilst we're still waiting for a few folks to roll in.

Eric: We're going to be talking about a couple of ... unorthodox growth approaches for SEO, thinking about 2020 and beyond. We try to keep it tactical for this one, give you something to do, and hopefully, you get some value from it. What I'm really trying to do here is I'm trying to take elements from the tech community, also the software as a service community as well. And I've layered on with SEO. We're trying to basically bundle things together for this training.

Tristam: Eric, if you're happy I will hand over the reins to you, my friend and let you start presenting.

An Important Mindset Shift: Marketer to Investor

Eric: I appreciate the intro. Today, we're going to be talking about four unorthodox growth tactics that you can be using. I think one thing I want to get you to think about as a marketer or an SEO is to be thinking about...how can you as a marketer think like an investor? In a lot of scenarios, that's where you're going to get a lot of your growth.

I'll give you an example. This company Single Grain, I was able to purchase this company for $2 out of pocket, right? This originally was a failing SEO company. This is years and years ago. We're talking seven, eight years ago. In today's day and age, this is also known as seller financing.

A lot of people think buying a company, investing in a company, mergers and acquisitions, they think it's a very complicated thing. To me as a marketer, I just think it's another channel, right? It's another channel that you can be attacking. 

You, as an SEO, you have unique knowledge here where you can use a tool like SEMrush, look for websites that have a high domain authority and look at acquiring these websites. You can buy it for pennies on the dollar. 

But the first thing you got to do is think about what should I acquire? Then you use a tool like SEMrush to go out and evaluate which websites have a high domain score, which ones are worthy of reaching out to. And then you can use a tool like SEMrush to prospect for them. That's a little more advanced.

Product-Led SEO Growth

Product-led growth, this is the first thing I want to talk about. It's something Neil (Patel) and I, we talk about quite a bit on the Marketing School podcast. What I want to call out here is this product, Ubersuggest. To me, it's a simple version, it's a simple SEO tool. 

But the story I want to call out here, it’s kind of similar to mergers and acquisitions. Product-led growth in the tech world what that basically means is you lead with a product first, right? Because back in the day if you produce an infographic or you produce an ebook, you might get a lot of links coming from that for SEO purposes.

Now, everybody does infographics, everybody does eBooks. I'm not saying those tactics are dead, but your moat, it's not as defensible anymore when you build that. But when you build a product or you buy a product; you buy a product and then you just give it away for free. What you're able to do then is you're able to acquire a lot of links.

Not only that, but when Neil made this transaction Ubersuggest itself, the website had a lot of links pointing to it already, right? Once you build something like this, it is defensible. People are going to search for this brand as well. 

It goes a lot further than just saying, "I'm just going to try to build links by reaching out to people." That to me is kind of bottom of the totem pole. I'm not saying don't do it, but if you want to think about building leverage you look for these high domain authority websites, products out there, and then you can integrate it into whatever you're doing. 

When you build something and you make it better and better, what starts to happen is Ubersuggest is in blue over here, but it starts to overtake kind of the other tools in the space, right? It is very strong from a branding perspective as well.

One thing I want to call out if you're starting out right now, you might not have a lot of budget to play with. There are a handful of websites that you can go to where you can buy these projects. There's a website called 1kprojects.com. I believe it's since then been renamed, but you can go here and a lot of developers go to this website and they sell these side projects that they're no longer working on. 

You don't necessarily need to build a product yourself. You can just go to a website, like 1kprojects.com and then you can get this done. All right? You can also go to codecanyon.net and there's different plugins or scripts that you can buy. 

But the other thing too is a lot of the things that we're trying to build, let's say we're trying to build a calculator. We can just use a tool like Outgrow. It's outgrow.co I believe, there's a lot of different widgets, tools that you can build that are linkable assets. That's what you're trying to build at the end of the day. 

You're going to be way ahead of the other SEOs out there that are all doing the same strategy, they're all reaching out to the same people, right? You got something unique, you got a tool well, that's going to take you a lot further. Which is part of the reason why we ended up building ClickFlow in the first place.

Let's go back to Neil's Ubersuggest example over here again. Ubersuggest; he acquired it back over here in around 2018, but it had 15,000 referring domains going to it, right? You can use Domain Rating, you can use Domain Score, whatever SEO tool that you decide to use. 

But if you look at it at the end of the day, he paid $250,000 for this product, you get 15,000 links. You're basically from a link building perspective, it comes out to $16 per link, right? 

I know it's not black and white as that, but I just want to make it very simple for you to take a look at that. Once you start to build any type of volume with your business at all, you start to think about, "Okay, how can I reframe my mindset into that of an investor?" That changes things dramatically.

SEO Strategy: Getting More Value from Existing Content

Number two, what I wanted to talk about is the new way of doing SEO. We're always looking forward to new shiny tool, we're always looking for the new shiny tactics. I think SEO is continuing to evolve, right? 

A lot of people are already familiar with this graph already, but we already know that Google is the zero-click searches are actually now above 50%, meaning that the majority of people...that hit a search engine result page do not end up clicking. 

What can you do to defend against this? There's a handful of tools, I think there's SEMrush has a content explorer... you could just take a look at how often things are being republished, right? 

One of the key things now, when you look at companies like HubSpot, for example, they actually have a couple of full-time people that are specifically dedicated to upgrading, managing content they're tending to their garden, right?

What happens at the end of the day is when you do that, it starts to compound because there's millions of blog posts being published every single day. I think most people know about, yes, you should be upgrading your content. You should be managing your content. I think that's a tactic that's well shared. 

But what do you do specifically that can give you advantage over other people? There's a lot of different options out there, but this tool that we have I believe SEMrush also has this insight as well, but we have a content editor, which basically when you are creating a piece of content...we'll show you that the keywords that you should be adding as you're writing content.

We have this piece, this keyword that we're trying to optimize for SaaS trends, because again, we work with SaaS companies. But the cool thing here is, as we write it's just going to be like, "You should add customer acquisition, you should add SaaS industry to whatever you're writing." 

You can just copy this as HTML. Then boom, what happens is you're adding a lot of long-tail keywords to your post, and then you can send it off and then your writers don't need to do the research it's kind of done for them, right?

Title page, meta testing. A lot of people, we forget to tend to our garden. One of the highest impact things you can do with business is increase your prices, right? Now, when we think about SEO, one of the highest impact things you can do, if a piece is already ranking, you write a better title, you write a better meta description. 

As a marketer, your job is to bring people to click and then ultimately bring them to the point of sale. That's what your job is as a marketer. You can do this manually if you want. 

What you would do is you can use Google Search Console, you can use SEMrush as well, and you can just make a spreadsheet. You have an old title, marketing blog, here's a new title over here. Then you're just recording this, right?

Maybe you started this over here in 2020, ran it for 15 days. Here's the result. And here's the notes. You can do that the manual way. This is free to do. Anybody can do it, right?

I think the key thing is if you're getting decent amount of traffic, let's say, I don't know, 15, 20,000 plus visits a month, you should probably be looking at this because you're getting more bang for your buck, for the content that you're producing, right?

Tristam: When would you personally be looking at content updating and that would lead to whether that's blog content using something like you said with ClickFlow or with updating the titles and descriptions, because I had this conversation where I believe a number of people doing it, it's kind of a one time fix.

Eric: I think that's a good question. I think there's obviously diminishing returns at a certain point. You can't just keep optimizing, you have to think about innovating, right? That's the caveat I would add. 

Content Decay, again, it's free to use. You should be using that to see if you're losing traffic on your key pages. What I would do is I would keep an eye, I would look at my analytics and keep an eye or search console, keep an eye on my top 15 to 20 posts. Those are my stars, right?

You don't want to do this too early in the game. You probably want to be getting at least I'm being very conservative right now, 15 to 20,000, ideally over 50,000 visits a month before you start to think about putting more resources or hiring people for the upgrading. 

Maybe initially if you're writing the content, you do it yourself, but you don't want to do it too early and then you don't want to over-optimize. The thing I'll say then is you do want to be tracking at least your top 20 posts. If you're a little earlier, maybe your top five or top 10, and then just constantly adding to it because you want to be tracking each month, is it actually going up? 

Sometimes upgrading is just adding a paragraph to it, but the key thing, I think for most people that they miss is they do not track it, they don't annotate it which is why we developed these tools to kind of make it easier for people.

Diversifying Away from SEO

Number three, I want to talk about, this is kind of more of a general marketing approach. But I've talked to way too many founders, way too many business owners that bet everything on SEO. 

Again, I look at everything as how you think about investing, right? If you're trying to de-risk yourself, you're not trying to put all your eggs in one basket because one day Google's algorithm might hit and then boom, you're left with nothing. 

I think as soon as you get SEO working, you want to think about diversifying because that's exactly what I did back in the day. When I first took over at Single Grain we're getting about 4,000 visits a month or so, now we get decent traffic about 300,000 visits a month.

Once we started getting up probably over 80 to 100,000 a month, we started to think about diversifying. "Okay, how can we go beyond that? How can we go omnichannel?" 

This is the Marketing School podcast that I mentioned earlier. We started this about four years ago and to date we're about 33 million downloads, last month was about 1.1 million downloads. We're trying to continue to grow it to hopefully about 1.5, 2 million downloads a month. 

I think these other content channels, when you start to diversify generally take about 1.5 to two years to get going. The best time to start is yesterday, but the second-best is today.

I think possibilities are available for everyone. The key thing is starting and consistency, but, and again, this comes back to going on omnichannel, right?  We started our YouTube channel probably five, six years ago. We're not growing that fast. I think we're about 38,000 subscribers now. But it's consistency again. 

Here's the key thing, you're probably thinking, "Well, okay, one second, you're doing blog posts, now you're doing audio. Now you're doing YouTube. How do you manage everything as one person in addition to trying to run these companies?"

The answer to that, we call this content sprouting and the process over here is let's say we start with a video. A video, the beauty of that is let's say I do a one hour interview with Tristam over here, the beauty of that is I probably have 10 different things I might talk about with Tristam, right? He might give me 10 nuggets I can chop those 10 nuggets into podcasts over here.

Those 10 nuggets can become longer-form blog posts as well. I can delegate it to writers. It depends on how big your team is. It depends on kind of where you're at. 

If you're kind of soloing right now, you want to obviously dial this back a little bit, but the key thing here is you want to think about how you can maximize the investment that you put into content. Again, you're an investor, right? 

Think of yourself as an investor because a lot of people they just, "Let's produce one piece of content, let's throw it away." They don't think of it from the mind of the investor.

Because as an investor, you have two jobs in terms of how you allocate resources. You have your team's resources, so human resources, right? You have financial resources. Those are the two that you get to decide how to allocate.

Anyway, if you're putting money into this, you're putting human resources into this you better make sure that you're getting the most of it because you're going to get more traffic that way.

We start with a seed, which might be a video. For you, it might be a tweet, it might be something else, it'll become audio, so we're sprouting it. We're sprouting it into blogs. We're pollinating it through promotion. 

Tristam: Awesome. It's kind of a different way that you could build a content strategy in a sense, rather than say by your more traditional way of doing keyword research, see what's out there and you build it out like that. 

We could have a conversation and then start to say, "That really resonated, well, we're going to start breaking that out." I mean, do you do anything, just because I was on a webinar previously and we were chatting about taking webinars, podcasts, stuff like that, and where there's real snippets of information breaking down an hour, two hour conversation into shorter consumables parts?

Eric: Yeah. Here's an example right here. These were previously YouTube videos, and then we just chopped them up into kind of a meme format for Instagram TV.

Tristam: Yeah, it's awesome. For anyone watching, who might be stumped with creating content or directions to move in. This seems like a really awesome avenue to grasp and run with, obviously within the time and remit and resource that you have personally. 

Leveraging Organic Traffic Leads

Eric: The fourth thing I want to talk about this is very powerful for people that have really optimized the organic traffic that they have coming to the website. If you're really good at SEO, you unlock other avenues that wouldn't be available to other people. 

Let's say you're even getting 25 to 50,000 visits a month, and then your business is working with B2B companies and you might be doing six to seven, eight-figure contracts. We've gotten six-figure deals, we've gotten seven-figure deals because we've been able to leverage the traffic. 

We don't get millions of visits a month, but a couple of hundred thousand is good enough for us to be able to pull information that we can use to kind of close deals.

Let me explain what a customer data platform is first, and then we'll kind of go from there. The way you should look at it is your single source of truth; it pulls from all your data sources. I might be pulling from our CRM like HubSpot, our sales enablement tool, Outreach. 

I might be pulling in from Clearbit to enrich the data that we have coming to the website and what we might sync it up with other SEO data that we might be able to pull from, let's say Alexa, as an example, right?

Customer data platforms allow us to do things like this. We can uncover different IP addresses that are visiting our website. In the past, BlackRock, NetJets, Nike, Bloomberg, they're all visiting our site and we can see the content that they're visiting. 

What we do is we can set up automated sequence that follows certain rules. An example of this might be, let's say, two people from Nike visit our website in the last 30 days. They're anonymous. We can uncover where they're coming from, but we don't know who it is exactly.

Now, if they trigger that rule, if two people from Nike visit our website in the last 30 days or any big company that does over a hundred million in revenue, we will automatically uncover four people from their marketing team, right? We'll get their email addresses. 

You can see, we have their email addresses over here and we'll automatically dump them into our sales sequence where we'll say, "Hey, I noticed that you visited this page on SEO techniques. We actually have another resource here on SEO techniques I thought you might find it helpful." 

You're being either more helpful or you can try to hard pitch them. I typically like sending even more content just to be more helpful to them, but that way you're starting to build a relationship, and then they respond to you and that's how you get these deals done. Basically have a sales team that's doing the work for you in the backend. 

Here's an example right here. Someone from Disney visited our website. We say, "Hi, Kristen, my name's Eric one of the co-founders of ClickFlow and Single Grain, thanks for visiting one of our properties from Burbank. I saw on your website that you're using a CDN and your Alexa global rank is 4152." 

All you need to do sometimes is just personalize it a little bit. Then these will automatically go out. My point is, I'm just trying to plant the seed for you to say, "Look," once you start getting your traffic up to 25, 50,000 visits a month, you unlock the doors to be able to play the game at a higher level. From a marketing perspective, you do not get to play this game unless you know what you're doing with SEO.

Typically what happens is you have a lot of junk leads coming to your website, especially if you're getting over 100,000 visits a month, you're going to have a lot of junk, but you're going to have sales reps. You want your sales reps focus on the best quality leads, the rest you want to put into automated nurture. 

We're targeting like the Nike's, the NetJets, whoever hits our site, we're basically automatically doing account-based marketing. Because we're not only hitting at one person, we're now hitting an account of marketers on there. 

The other thing that I kind of gave you some insight on is whoever hops into our email list and we can see their behavior on our website based on pages that they visit, other behaviors, well, we can automatically reach out to them and we know they're a little more warm. 

We might say, "Hey, let's actually get on the call." This can be done automatically as well.The final thing here...is dynamic retargeting. Dynamic retargeting would be, let's say Coca Cola visits our website. We could actually automatically create a Facebook ad targeting them, and it does it on its own. Depending on the page they visit, we can also personalize that as well.

The Compound Value of SEO Efforts

Working towards wrapping up here Albert Einstein, he said, "Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it." If you think about how you do SEO, it takes time to compound, right? 

If you think about how I've done the podcast it takes time to compound, YouTube takes time to compound. Business takes time to compound, typically a two to three-year journey. Maybe even a little longer than that to start to get things to work. As long as you're patient with it, you should be able to drive your traffic up as you want it to hit your SEO goals.

I can tell you in the early days, I was really frustrated. I was looking at everybody else, like, "Oh my God, they're getting 80,000, 100,000 visits a month. Why am I not doing that? 

I just realized man, it just takes time to get there. There's a lot of people that have shot way past our traffic millions and millions a month. No reason you shouldn't be able to do it.

Again, we have our free tool you can just search for a Content Decay by ClickFlow. You can add me on Instagram, over here @ericosiu, you can email me, eric@clickflow.com and we can now open up for questions, Tristam.

Tristam: Awesome. I'm just going to jump ahead of a couple of questions that were sent in. But Greg has asked a question, how do you identify the URL of the visitor? I assume that's referencing where you were saying you were getting people coming from Nike and the Disney email that you referenced. 

Eric: Yeah. Great question. The first thing is the way we identify the IP address is using Clearbit. We have a sync with Clearbit and Clearbit will reveal the IP addresses. 

That's the first thing, the second thing is we have a pixel on our website that will show where those Nike people visited, which pages they visited, right? So it's not the most perfect thing because we don't know who the anonymous visitor is, but we can say, "We noticed somebody from their website or two people from their website visited this page on SEO techniques." 

An Example of Repurposing Content for Maximum SEO Impact

Tristam: Perfect. I guess what I'm kind of interested in is I guess, just furthering the conversation about taking some of the contents as we're just discussing, taking this webinar as an example. 

I don't know if you could break down a little bit more not too intricate, I guess, but the process that you might take or follow when if we've got this webinar, what would be your initial steps reviewing it and saying, "Right, what can I get out of this?"

Eric: Sprouting this piece, is that what you're saying?

Tristam: Yeah, yeah. What's your process of watching something back or going, "Yeah, I feel that was on the money. I need to develop this a bit more."

Eric: I think the easiest way is to look at the people that are doing it already...Joe Rogan, there's another guy named Anthony Pump, he's called Pump, but I forgot how to pronounce his last name. But they do a really good job of chopping up the pieces already. 

I think ideally what would happen is if you're doing let's call this a podcast, if you're doing a podcast, you ideally have someone that is the moderator and they're the ones that are spotting those key moments where it's like, "Oh, that's a good point to chop out. That's a good takeaway over there the nuggets." 

Because you, as the interviewer, you're so much in it. You're so in it that sometimes you just forget, right? You're just constantly you're in the zone, you're figuring out the right questions to ask.

Gary Vee does this as well, where the videographer used to, well, he's not doing this right now, obviously, but the videographer that follows him around is good at calling out those key moments and then those will be chopped up. And then what happens is those will go to YouTube and then those go to audio. 

Then the guy that's Gary's copywriter actually used to work for me his name's Rogoff and he actually will write the blog posts, he'll write the long-form LinkedIn, and then boom. It just goes everywhere. One piece becomes like 25 pieces, you know?

Tristam: Yeah. That's what I think was the beauty of what we're discussing here is. Where I speak to people, you hear discussions where it's I think a number of people still out there are really stumped for content and how to create content.

Impact of AI on SEO

We've got another question from John he's asking, has AI affected the way you do SEO? Do you know of any other SEO tools besides your own that provides SEO automatically by just providing certain parameters?

Eric: Yeah, I think there's a lot of tools out there. I mean, look at how much money Google is putting into AI, Facebook as well, all these big companies. So A, yes, AI is affecting how we do SEO. B, if you wanted to pick out some tools, MarketMuse is a cool tool. They have a lot of parameters there in terms of saying, "Hey here's a content plan that you can be creating for, it's basically created for your writer." 

Instead of coming up with a content strategy or a content plan for hours, or it might take you days to do it, they'll crank it out for you in a couple of minutes. And it ultimately saves you a lot of time and it's based on a lot of machine learning that they have going on there. 

Other than that, I'm trying to think of anybody else that really stands out right now. I still think we're in the very early days of AI, so there's nothing else that I'm like, "Wow, you got to use it."

Tristam: Yeah, I totally agree. I think we are definitely in the very early days of AI, it will be very interesting to see where it all goes in terms of just, yeah, certain people's day to day jobs and how that will be affected.

If there's one takeaway from today that you want to leave people with, what would it be?

Eric: I think it's going back to your mindset. Thinking of yourself, not as a marketer, but an investor will totally reframe everything. And you're going to think about the world in a much better way.

Tristam: Yeah. I really like that idea. Any more questions guys, whilst we've got Eric with us, if not, you're leaving me to ask him questions.

We've had one just come in, JD Shaper says, do you find LinkedIn to be a good way to promote your content? 

Eric: Yeah, I think LinkedIn is great. If you know how to get reach with it. What I mean by that is what works well on LinkedIn, from what I've seen is the text posts will work really well, as long as you're getting people to upvote it very quickly, probably within the first few hours. 

The carousels do really well when I post an image and you can actually swipe, those get a lot more reach. And so I like LinkedIn because it actually has yielded business opportunities and people are there with a business mindset. 

Tristam: Awesome. And do you have any videos or resources on promoting content through LinkedIn or?

Eric: If you just search for growth everywhere on YouTube, we actually have some videos there on LinkedIn.

Tristam: Perfect. There we go guys. If you want to up your LinkedIn game, along with what we've learned today, head over there. As we're heading towards the 50-minute mark, as I say, apologies, it's a short one today, but I hope that everyone's had an awesome time. 

Eric: Yeah. You can ping me @ericosiu, there's a O in the middle, SIU, on Instagram. You can email me eric@clickflow.com and then yeah, that's basically it.

Tristam: Perfect. There we go. Thank you very much, Eric, for joining us today. Thank you to the audience, you've all been awesome. I've had a blast. 

Eric: Thank you for spending the time here. And I hope you all have a good rest of your day or your evening or your morning.

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