For the tenth session of the Content Champion Podcast, I was lucky enough to speak for an hour with Brian Dean, the SEO expert behind Backlinko – my new favourite blog.
This podcast is a step by step resource on how to build, rank and profit from authority sites – and isn't the same tired old advice you've heard everywhere else. In fact, the content is so great I even thought about releasing this as paid training, but of course I changed my mind 🙂
Brian is bubbling with ideas on how to build authoritative websites and attract relevant, high quality links – and as you'll see from the title of this post – his sites make real money.
In our 60 minute discussion on building authority sites that can grow into a sustainable online business, we covered a lot of ground, including:
- How to select profitable niches
- How to conduct keyword research
- The importance of a brandable domain name
- How to really create high quality, valuable content
- How to structure and build out your sites
- How to stay on the right side of Google
- The role ‘freshness' plays in rankings
- Why you need to invest in one site at a time
- How the ‘flywheel effect' can help your rankings
- Why you need to create ‘spotlight' content on your sites
- How to build potent and safe links to your authority sites
- Why brand signals are important to your success
- How to attract links from the ‘linkerati' in your sector
- How to use the ‘skyscraper technique' to get authoritative backlinks
- Deploying the ‘inception technique' to build powerful, relevant links
- The importance of Google Authorship and social media in ranking your sites
- Why quality design is essential to your online brand and link prospects
- What on-page factors are important in gaining higher rankings
- Why list building is not always necessary in every niche
- Why conversion psychology is crucial to your success
- Other forms of traffic other than SEO
- Why you should just get on with it and not worry about Google
- How long it can take to make money with your authority sites
- What to do when your five year old son interrupts your podcast holding a Venus Fly Trap
Plus! The PS Question! Brian gives us two advanced link building strategies for the price of one! You don't want to miss this!
Items mentioned in this edition
- 4 Hour Work Week
- Offer Vault
- Market Samurai
- SE Cockpit
- Long Tail Pro
- SEO Quake
- Moz Bar
- Open Site Explorer
- All Top
- Buzz Stream
- Quick Sprout
- Nerd Wallet
- Money Supermarket
- UK Vineyards Infographic
Where to get The Content Champion Podcast
You can listen to the latest edition of the podcast below, or join my feed directly here: https://www.contentchampion.com/feed/podcast/
Alternatively, you'll find the podcast on iTunes and Google Play.
Thanks for listening – please leave a review on iTunes if you like what I'm doing!
Loz James: Hi, folks. Welcome to session ten of the Content Champion Podcast.
Now, in this week's show, I am really excited to be talking to Brian Dean of Backlinko.com. Brian is a creative and innovative SEO expert and I talked to him for over an hour about how to build and rank authority sites that really make money. One of Brian's owned authority sites makes over $9,000 a month, so you really want to listen to what he's got to say. Without further ado, let's jump straight in.
Thanks very much for coming on today, Brian.
Brian Dean: Hey, thanks for having me, Loz.
Loz James: Now, this podcast is all about creating high quality authority sites and you're a great exponent of this at Backlinko.com. Could you start by telling us your story and how you became an SEO expert please?
Brian Dean: Sure. I started my professional career as a dietician. Then, I got my Master's in Nutrition, and I was studying a PhD, and it was awful so I left, but it actually was probably the best decision I ever made in life because I stumbled across the book, the Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I had never really been exposed to entrepreneurship before. I always wanted to be an employee, and my own family or employees that have one entrepreneur anywhere and my family right, left, up, and down. The concept of starting my own business was very foreign to me.
When I read this book, my favorite part about it was that it was very empowering. It's basically saying you can totally do this. I started an information production in the nutrition niche, and it didn't really go well because that's one flow of the Four-Hour Work Week is that it doesn't really give you a step-by-step plan on how to watch a business which is not a crisis within the book. That's really hard to encompass in a single book.
Then, I started doing that and I had a real job on the side. Then, I started freelance writing. I had a specialty of nutrition, so I was writing a lot of health and weight loss-related articles. On the side, I was launching these sites, these little niche sites and try to rank them in Google, and make some money from ad sends, and that kind of thing, and that is when I learned SEO just by messing up a lot. I would say about two years ago, I started to get the hang of it, started to get consistent results, and that's when I started doing SEO full time.
Loz James: That led on to your blog Backlinko.com which is just fantastic of an example. Your article is just a great resource if you want to learn about step-by-step SEO strategies and techniques.
Brian Dean: Thanks, man. Yeah, I started that about in December, so about nine months ago. It's been a wild drive. As soon as I started, I promoted it, and I got some good feedback. That is my number one project right now. I just put it up when I saw the opportunity there. That's what I am doing most of the day.
Loz James: The thing I want to talk about today is obviously this feeds into the content you're putting on, on Backlinko but also, your building of authority sites, the niche sites you just mentioned in intro there and how you learned how to rank these sites because that is really interesting to my listeners. The idea of research, and creating, and promoting authority sites. Could you outline how you go about choosing a profitable niche and how do you make money from those sites or search those niches in the first place?
Brian Dean: There is a couple of places I go, and I should say this that I don't do it that often because I am not into launching a bunch of sites. I am all about creating one site and focusing on one site at a time. That would be one thing I'd recommend because that's a mistake I made starting out and I still get a lot of e-mails from people who say, “I started eight sites last week. How do I rank them all?”
It's very difficult to do that because it's better to do one thing whole ass than two thing half ass. If you take that to its maximum and you have ten sites, it's difficult to do that. As much as this process is repeatable, it's not something that I've done in a long time because I am basically focusing on my … I have two authority sites, Backlinko and another one. That is in a different niche.
This is how I go about it. I basically look at where the money is. I look at what type of traffic and leads people are already paying for. That is huge. It all starts there because another mistake I made – one of many – was launching sites that are difficult to monetize. I'd like to start with the money. I don't look at keywords. I don't look at traffic. One place I like to look is called OfferVault.com and another place I recommend is ODigger.com. Those are both sites that aggregate CPA offers which stands for Cost for Action, and that is how I monetize my authority site.
CPA offers are basically similar to affiliate marketing. Someone clicks on your affiliate link. They go to an offer. The difference between CPA and promoting a product in Click Bank is that these people usually don't pay. It's usually for a lead. That really segments the market into demographics because if people are willing to pay for this person's contact information, that says something about that source of traffic versus a Click Bank product where it may target a specific demographic kind of, but not really.
If you go to Offer Vault and you see, for example, that there is a lot of offers for, let's say, leads from people who want a nursing degree that gives you an idea that that traffic is so valuable and someone is willing to pay $20 just for a lead. That might be a niche to look into.
That's just a good place just to pop around and see what's up for brainstorming. Then, from there, you take those keywords that you see in Offer Vault and you put them into a Google keyword plan act tool, and you check out search volume and things like that, and I can talk about that step of the process but it begins there, I think. In my opinion, that's the best place to start looking.
Loz James: Start with the money, build out the keywords from there.
Brian Dean: Exactly.
Loz James: As we're talking now, it's the beginning of September 2013. Google have just changed the keyword tool into the keyword planner, haven't they?
Brian Dean: Correct.
Loz James: We, then, feed that keyword into that, and what's your process then?
Brian Dean: My process is to find between 50 and 100 keywords that are very tightly related that I can build a site around. That's my process because I use this and just look for one keyword. It would be like nursing degrees, and I would pin all my hopes and dreams on this one keyword, and ranking for the single keyword. I've changed my process quite a bit and the authority site that I've built has done well. It has about 60 pages in content on it. That site has about 100 keywords that I target, and I draw up about one post a month on that site.
That is what you want to look for. You want to look for less of an … Niche is actually accurate but niche sites typically are keyword sites. They are not really niche sites. Most people, it's going after one keyword but I prefer to make a true niche site that covers one subset of a niche very well. You'd have a topic like online degrees. That's more of a broader topic and then, within that, you have something like nursing degrees and that's more of a niche.
Loz James: We're looking at really what Google wants now, authority sites. I know a lot of my listeners and me, personally, as well used to build the one keyword sites and had some success with those before the Google changes. A lot of people are going to be terrified about building a 50 to 100-page sites and Google dumping it despite them trying to do white hat techniques for link building.
We're going to move on to that later but you've got your keywords mapped now from what sort of keyword metrics are you looking for when you put them in in terms of competition? How does that all work?
Brian Dean: That is a good question. I don't go nuts about competition because first of all, it's really difficult to estimate accurately. It's funny because Google uses 200 ranking signals to rank pages, and if you look at any of the keyword competition software, it usually looks at four or five.
Now, of course, they are not all weighted equally and the four or five that those tools tend to look at are the most important ones. There's some value to the hat from looking at competition using tools like Market Samurai, or SE Cockpit, or Long Tail Pro, or something like that, but I don't like to go crazy because then, you start making arbitrary metrics like it has to have a competition score of whatever. It's more trouble done to work.
What I'd like to do is take, let's say, if you have 50 keywords. Look at the ten that you really want to rank the highest volume keywords in your list and actually look at the top ten. If you want to make it easier, you can install SEOQuake in the browser or Moz Bar. What that does is it has something called a surf overlay. That shows you the metrics that basically the tools show you anyway on the Google top ten.
You can see like if you put in a nursing degree, for example, and the top ten is seven EDUs, US News and World Report, and CNN.com. Don't go after that keyword. That's maybe not the best idea but if you see that at maybe other niche sites, or like easy in articles or something like that. That's where you know there is some opportunity there.
I just look at the top ten and give it a once over, and if I see that it's smaller brands that are ranking, not like Fortune 500s, and some smaller site, maybe some articles on larger sites that don't have a lot of page authority, that's where I see opportunities but I don't have any specific metrics because it totally depends on the niche too. That is why I don't get search find stuff because if you have a site about car insurance, you can make a lot of money from ten visitors a day but if you have a site about watching Breaking Bad online, you need 20,000 visitors a day to make a dime.
It's hard to give any specific data but you definitely want to take competition seriously. I don't mean like, “I don't care about competition. I am a ball. I can write for anything.” You don't want to obsess over it. You want to get a broad idea about where you can enter the space and how you can rank for those keywords. It's more like market research than keyword research.
Loz James: That feeds into, then you've got your keywords, you've done research on them, you picked a great good quality, word press thing that would fit that audience, add value, and then you start producing your content. How does that roll out?
Brian Dean: First, I would create a brand. I'd create a branded domain name. That would actually be the next step. I look at these 50 to 100 keywords from my niche authority site, and say, what's the brand name that may or may not include the keyword, probably not, and would really be memorable and would also be something that people would type into Google.
That's really important brand signal is that people type your brand name into Google, and you don't have to be YouTube or Skype to get people to do that. If you have any presence online, all people would do that but they'll only do it if you have a memorable, unique domain name. If you're trying to like Samsung microphone, you don't want to create SamsungMicrophoneHQ.com. That's from free Penguin type of thing. You want to create something like Microphone Headquarters or MicsMics.com. Something clever. Then, people would type that into Google more often which would give you a little brand signal boost and just keep things memorable which is important. Then, that is the next step.
Then, to roll out the content, I usually just have five or ten posts ready to go in day one, and then I just drift them out in whatever velocity I can handle. Let's say there is a 150, somehow you are able to find 150 keywords in your space, you'd want to drift them more frequently but in my particular case, the authority site that I have in the other niche, I am already running out of keyword. I have 60, and there is maybe 20 that are even okay, and then ten that are super long tail that I am afraid to even post because they might get hit by Panda, so I don't even have content around those keywords.
Definitely, don't just drift for the sake of keeping your site up to date. Google doesn't care about that, so I just have the ten posts ready to go, and then drift them as fast as you can if that makes sense for your site.
Loz James: This freshness stuff, could you just explain a bit more what you're saying about you're afraid of getting penalized for doing those longer tails searches. Is that because it just looks like you're desperately trying to rank those pages?
Brian Dean: Kind of, yeah. I haven't been penalized but I am very cognizant of that fact. I am very careful about it but I've seen other clients that have got hit, and in some ways, it's harder to get out of a Panda penalty. For those of you that aren't familiar with it, Panda is like this penalty that roll out before Penguin that targeted sites that have thin duplicate content on their site. Not duplicate in a sense that it's exactly the same but just a lot of overlap and a lot of low quality content. How they're able to discern that with an algorithm? No one knows but they are actually pretty good at it.
If you have a keyword, let's say like “How to Choose a Nursing School, that's your keyword, you don't want to create another article even if the keyword is separate like “How to Pick a Nursing School.” A lot of people still do that and a lot of people did that and got burned. If you do go after both keywords, definitely make the other article like totally different. Totally different than the other one, and you're safe, but I find that the more long tail you get, the more it tends to overlap with the content that's already on your site and it's difficult to create something new. In terms of that, that's what I'm worried about being penalized.
In terms of freshness, freshness is definitely important for certain keywords. I don't know how they figure it out either but certain keywords are given a freshness label, and then fresh content tends to get a temporary boost while it's still fresh, but that is not the case for most keywords.
Loz James: Most keyword is more static.
Brian Dean: Exactly.
Loz James: If someone new were to do this, the more fluid is it …
Brian Dean: Exactly. Maybe people are searching for … I don't know. For some reason in Google, on page SEO, I am ranking for that keyword so I know that is more of a freshness one. Then, something like link building doesn't have that. Why? No one knows but obviously, some topics that are being written about a lot especially in Google news sites got to get more of a freshness, a huge freshness boost actually. Then, those that don't, it's not something you have to worry about too much although it's always good to go back to your content, and change some things around just to make it look fresh but it's not that important.
Loz James: Really, in terms of content, informed by our keywords but then, we're going to go into the top ten, and we're going to say, “How can I add more value to real viewers for these subjects?” If the keyword is How to Train to be a Nurse, whatever it is, how can I write better content that gives more value to the other sites ranking the top ten around that search.
Brian Dean: Yeah.
Loz James: Is that a process?
Brian Dean: That is basically the process. You don't have to do that for 100% of your keywords. If you're targeting 100 keywords, you don't have to create 100 mind blowing pieces of content. That's not necessary. It would definitely help but what you want to do for those really competitive ones, look at the top ten in your niche ranking already, and then make something better, but I notice a lot of people like, “My content is better than what is out there that e-mail me or that's put on industry forums like Warrior Forum, and it's like, “My competition, their article is like 800 words and mine is 900, so much better. It should be ranking.”
The mentality we really have to have is that if you want to rank in the top ten for something competitive, you have to create something that is really objectively better than what is out there. If you showed it to a 100 people, 99 people would agree that yours is the best. To do that, you can't just one of them at them a little bit, you usually have to blow them out the water because they have a huge advantage that are already ranking.
Just by ranking, it's something called the fly wheel effect where when people … You've ranked your content, then people see it, and they share it on social media or they link to it which makes it go higher, and more people see it, and they share it, and they link to it. They have a huge advantage that you don't because you're invisible at the moment. You really have to blow them out the water with your stuff.
For really competitive keywords, that is what I recommend doing. Look at the top ten and see where is there a content gap, where can I make something even better than what is out there, and you just rinse and repeat that process for your more short tail keywords that you have in your list.
Loz James: You did this, didn't you, with your 200 Google ranking signals? That's one of the things. Wasn't it you said that the other guy had 50 of them and you thought, “Right, I'll try and get all of them”?
Brian Dean: Basically that's what I did. Exactly. In that case, it was easier to figure out where I could fill in the gaps because it was an objective number. This guy, he had a 100 of the 200 ranking factors and then, maybe another one, I think, had 120 but no one touched 200. Actually, halfway through that thing, I really didn't think I was going to be able to hit 200. It was really a lot more work that I planned. It was crazy, but once you hit 150, you can't go back. You have to go all the way.
Yeah, I reached it, but the important thing for that post was I didn't just create 200 and they had 150 or 100. I knew that they had the first mover advantage and I had the fly wheel effect in their favor, and I didn't, so I also added value in a couple of other ways. Usually, they just listed the ranking factor. It's just like in bullets. I made sure on each one to expand upon a give it a little more detailed information on each one. Then, also made the design look a lot better than theirs.
You can beat their content on multiple levels and you know how to promote your content, you will be first but if you're not planning on creating one of the top ten pieces of content for competitive keyword, then you would not be on the first page.
Loz James: Is it literally that you look at the top ten and you gauge what is working really well, and you just don't, as you say, just go beyond that, you blow it out the water but we don't wheel in to an arms race with content where I've got a link back to, I don't know, all the different nursing resources to use that, example of, how to train to be a nurse. Then I've got an interview with a Chief Nursing Officer. Then I've got video series. Do you see what I mean?
Brian Dean: Yeah.
Loz James: You have to stop somewhere, don't you?
Brian Dean: I guess you do but the fact is, Loz, it is an arms race right now out there with content but it's like you have to keep up or you're going to be buried by the people who are just going crazy. If you look at someone like Neil Patel from Quick Sprout, the stuff he is publishing is unbelievable.
Loz James: 40,000 words and stuff.
Brian Dean: Yeah, 40,000 words, all custom designed, encoded. It cost him $50,000 to produce a piece of content. That, if you're in the marketing space, is your competition. If you're not willing to keep up with that, then you'll just be invisible. It sounds awful to say but it's the case right now but you can beat them by being creative. It doesn't have to be an arms race where you're trying to produce more than there are or make it better. You can also beat them with creativity because a lot of these big businesses that you're competing with, that's their huge disadvantage that they are slow moving and they are not creative.
If you wanted to create something in the nursing space, how about an infographic. I don't know the space very well but like an infographic about how to choose a nursing degree that is like a flow chart. Do you like working with people? Yes. Move on to the next part of the flow chart. How much money do you want to make? More than £50,000 a year? Yes, move on to this one.
If that is something that you can make for 250 bucks, and you could potentially leverage that to the first page. You don't have to get into this. You're right, you don't have to get into this arms race and if Neil puts out a guy with this 50,000 words, you have to create 100,000-word guy, that doesn't makes sense. You're right in that sense.
Loz James: I think a lot of people underestimated Google because to do that algorithmically, they're obviously not sending a manual review to each and every site. That would be impossible. To manually look, to algorithmically look at the top ten and be able to identify how that content is better is a pretty mean piece of programming, isn't it?
Brian Dean: It is, man. It was millions of dollars and they hired geniuses to work on it all day. You can imagine that like the best of the best coming out of Stanford and Oxford, they are getting recruited by Google, but the beautiful part of the Google algorithm and the reason it works so well is because they are not actually doing the work. What they are really doing is looking at signals that are created by the masses and just interpreting them.
A link is really just like a vote from another site. They don't have anything to do with the link. They just interpret it in a certain way. It is a mean piece of programming because there's 200 ranking signals but 100% of those are coming from other people. They are not doing the work. It's a total democratic system of who gets in the top ten.
Loz James: The little guy can still do this?
Brian Dean: Absolutely. Yeah, man. I didn't mean to say the little guy but you can't be the … You can still be a little guy but you can't be a total little guy with the $50 budget. It just isn't happening anymore. You really do need to invest money in the site like it's a real business because I've done it both ways. I have done the little one key word niche sites and I've done a real site that I invested a lot of money into, and I can tell you that it makes a lot more money when you invest into it.
That is one of the advantages of having one site versus several is that it actually cost about the same amount and you just make a lot more because you're focusing that money in one place.
Loz James: You got to be sure if you're starting with the money, you got to make sure that money is in that sector first. Otherwise, all your work will go to waste because there will be no way to monetize that ultimately.
Brian Dean: Exactly. I made that mistake. I had a site once that got 2000 uniques a day from Google. I think I was making like 25 bucks a day from ad sends. It was awful. I've been there. Then, I have sites that have made $1 per visitor. That is why you definitely want to start where the money is at.
Loz James: It makes sense really because I've been copywriting for 15 years. My main site has always been my copywriting site, and that pays the mortgage. That's just a website selling services but because it's made personally, I put my heart and soul into that, and that is really the way this algorithmic changes have gone. Google is saying, you got to do that to everything you put online; otherwise, we're not going to reward you with good rankings.
Brian Dean: Absolutely. It's a simple fact. That's just the way it is. There is a lot of people that … But I like that personally. I like that it's harder to get into and there is a higher barrier to entry because that one is competition. Before Penguin, it was just insane. I remember when the site that I spoke of that had 2,000 visitors a day, I remember I was number one for the keyword, and then a week later, I was number two. The top ten is just in constant flux with all these many sites including my own that were ranking. I realize that anyone could just get into this. Now, it's not like that.
Whenever someone asks me, “What's the first thing I should do? I want to get into SEO. I want to launch a site, and make money from the site.” I always tell them, save money and have a marketing budget. It doesn't have to be huge. You don't need ten grand but you do need some money for a custom design, a logo. This is fundamental stuff that used to be a big part of launching a site but there was this brief dark ages where anyone could rank any site with any ugly theme and awful content, but those days are really gone. I recommend that people do what they have to do to invest in their site, even a niche site.
Loz James: I am quickly forgetting all my review sites that I had a few years ago because they fell into that. Moving on, you've mentioned links. You are the author of the great new block Backlinko.com. We really obviously can find out a lot of what you're doing by going there but for the purposes of today's podcast, how do you start off linking to these sites because a lot of the people – me included – are going to be terrified of going too fast, tripping some algorithm? How do we do this and stay on the right side of Google while getting some rankings?
Brian Dean: That is a good question. It's okay to have a little healthy fear, I think, about the algorithm because one of the reasons that a lot of sites got penalized including some of my spammer sites is because they just had no fear. I felt like I can get away with anything and I would never get slapped, and now, that is obviously not the case. It’s okay to have a little bit of healthy fear because what that does is it puts you in the perspective of “Okay, how can I build really good links?”
Actually a good rule of thumb that you should take –I'll go into specifics in a minute – but a good rule of thumb that I read in a forum, it's like a golden piece of advice. That is when you build a link, before you do it, ask yourself, “Will I still want this link here in a year from now?” if the answer is no, don't build it. That is a great approach to take because that basically eliminates a lot of the link packages and blog networks and stuff like that that really doesn't work so well anymore but even if it does, it's just temporary.
The first step is to create one piece of content on your site that you can leverage for links. Like we're talking about before, you look at the top ten and then, you create a piece of content that objectively beats what's already out there. Like I said, you don't need to do it 100 times but if you have one piece of content that is sort of your spotlight content that you can sh0w off, you can leverage that from links using a few different strategies that I can talk about in the podcast but that's definitely step one because if you have a site that is just like, “Eh, okay,” it's really hard to build links to because what we're basically doing is reaching out to people who run sites in the industry and asking them to link.
Now, there is more nuances in that but that is the fundamental approach that I take to link a link because it works really well but you do need that content to leverage. If your site is just like “eh” or pretty good, it's probably not going to do well with manual outreach. If that's the case, you're better off doing something like guest posting where the quality of your site doesn't matter as much.
Loz James: Just a quick aside on this, do you outsource your content or do you outsource it or do you do it all yourself?
Brian Dean: For Backlinko, obviously I write all myself.
Loz James: Yeah, but for an authority site, you maybe outsource?
Brian Dean: For authority site, I use to write it myself but I've just been too busy so I started outsourcing it.
Loz James: Looking at some specific strategies that a number on your blog that is just fantastic, what are some of the things we can do to get this link-conducing content?
Brian Dean: I think we spoke to the idea of looking at your top ten. That is not the only way to do it but it's a great way to see content that is proven to generate links or at least topics that people are interested in your space, and I just posted a case study on the site of a guy who ran this blog, and for months, he was just posting every week and he wasn't getting any results.
Then, he saw something I published at Quick Sprout, the Advanced Guide to Link Building, and he saw something in there, and he thought, “This is a piece of content I can use to stand out.” He tripled his search engine traffic in a week. He also got a ton of referral traffic from social media, and blogs, and forums and stuff like that. It was a huge, huge piece is that it was a huge success for him.
That is what you need to do. You want to create one piece of content that you can really show off and really put your site on the map. I think that in addition to the links and all the social shares you get to that content, I think that Google is paying a lot of attention to user interaction signals and brand signals. If you have that amazing content right off the back, it really does send a great impression to Google that your site is legit. That would be step one.
Loz James: Carry on to step two.
Brian Dean: Once you have it, it's a bit tricky because content is such a broad word. It's so vague, but yeah, something like … it depends on your niche. That's the thing. It's really hard to come up like you should do this because it totally depends on your niche. This guy that I referenced is in the link building niche. He didn't expert round up where he asked 50 link builders what their best link-to-link tools were and they collected all the people's opinions and wrote a blog post about it, and he is very successful. If you're in a niche that is kind of obscured or weird, there aren't going to be 50 experts you can ask. In that case, you want to do something different.
I had someone just reach out to me the other day and he is in a marketing agency and one of their clients is a winery in the UK, as a matter of fact. I didn't know a winery is there but apparently there are. It basically is a very amazing info graphic that is a map of the UK but with all the wineries on it. It's really cool. You can maybe link to in the podcast.
Loz James: Yeah, I'll do that definitely.
Brian Dean: It's very cool. It's not your typical info graphic. It takes up an entire page from all the sides and it's just very, very done. That's an idea. That is something that they can leverage for links so easily. He told me using some of the promotional strategies I discussed in the site, you got a lot of links to that info graphic. It does depend on your niche but you definitely need that go to content because without that, it's going to be very difficult.
Your next step would be to find the linkerati in your space. Linkerati simply are the people in your niche who own websites. If you have a website, you have basically two people that visit your site. You have people that own websites in your niche and people that don't. At Backlinko, someone like Loz, he is obviously part of the linkerati because he runs a website that's niche related and obviously, I am getting a link from him from this podcast. That is someone who you could get a link from.
Now, versus someone who just heard of SEO, and just Googled it, and like, “What is SEO?” They find my site and they go to it. They're not part of the linkerati. They are still a valuable piece of traffic potentially but they are not part of the linkerati. You really want to find who the linkerati in your niche is. Then, you can get your content right in front of them and a great place to go for that is AllTop.com.
AllTop.com is like a directory of blogs that's curated very, very carefully. It's usually the cream of the crop in every industry. Just go to AllTop.com and put in your keyword like wine, or whatever, and it will give you a list of high authority blogs in that space. Then, from there, you can develop a hit list of people that you want to get links from.
Once you have your All Top list, you want to reach out to all those people on your list in a very, very non-sales and non-pushy way. There is a few ways to go about it. The first is to just send them a message to say, “Hey, what's up? I just really like your stuff.” That can work surprisingly well. That's actually how I started working with Neil Patel at Quick Sprout. I just sent him an e-mail saying, “Hey, I really like your site because I really do like your site.” Then, he looked at my site. Then, we started working together on a couple of projects.
That's one way. You can just reach out to these people, and you can keep a spreadsheet that keeps track of who you reach out to and when you did, or use a program like Buzz Stream which can automate some of this, or you can do the, “Hey, what's up,” or you can just send them your content. You don't want them to share it in any way or ask them to do anything with it but just get it in front of them. Usually, if you get it in front of the right people like I know Neil Patel, he tweets out 50% of the people that ask him to tweet stuff. Maybe that twit isn't going to be so valuable from an SEO perspective but what it can do is you can get it in front of people, then they'll see it and then, they might link to it.
You would definitely want to get it in front of the influencers in your niche and that is one of the reasons it's so important and that it is outstanding because when you show it to them and they see that it's great, they're going to have no problems sharing it. Then, some of the people that see … When they share it, some of the people that see it will be part of the linkerati and they will link to you.
That's one of many strategies. It's not the best because you're relying on luck in a way for people just to see it and hopefully link to it but that is one way to at least get some exposure for your content right off the back.
Loz James: At this point, I also mentioned, is it the skyscraper technique?
Brian Dean: It's the skyscraper technique, yeah.
Loz James: That is just amazing on Backlinko.com, your blog. You mentioned basically producing content like you've outdone someone, you're blowing them out the water with your content, and then you go and find the type of people who link to content like that that you've just bettered. You use something like Majestic SEO or something and you get all those people that have linked to that, and you just casually approach them and say, “You linked to the 100 Google signals. I've just done 200. Do you want to link to this as well? That is another great strategy to outline, isn't it?
Brian Dean: Yeah, you can't beat that. That's reverse engineering. That is the best because you're looking at where your competition already gets links from, and you can try to get the same links as them and that's one of the best ways to do. It's to beat their content and then, reach out to those same people who links, and just give them a heads up about it. You don't even have to really ask for a link if you framed your outreach the right way.
Let me explain what I mean by that because I've been doing this a lot lately and when I first started doing outreach for links, I would ask for a link. That doesn't work. It turns people off which is understandable. No one wants to be pushed into doing something. Then, what I started doing is changing the wording, so when I reach out to those people say, “Hey, you linked out to the 100 ranking factors post. I am wondering if you'd consider mentioning mine.” Just changing the word from link to mention made a huge difference because obviously, when I mentioned it, they're going to link to it. That alone made a huge difference in the success rate.
Now, I am even doing what I'd like to call the inception technique which is where you make it like they came up with the idea to link to your content. What I do is when I find those people that have linked out to my competitor's content, I reach out to them but I make sure that I say I found them by searching on Google and I found the page that my competitor's link is on. I was searching for Google for, let's say, nursing degree information today and, “I saw your post about How to Find a Nursing Degree Program that is Right for you. It's really great. I couldn't help but notice that you linked to whatever. I also think that post is great. By the way, I just published something that you may want to check out.” Sometimes, I put the link in there but usually ask them if they want to see it because that helps increase their engagement.
Then, once they say they want to see it, they're invested a little bit and then, you send them the content. If they like it, they will usually add it to the page because unsaid but understood that that's the next step for them. If they don't, you can always say, “It would be great if you could mention it on the page.”
Loz James: These are great techniques. You're literally getting your fantastic quality content that trumps everyone else's in front of the people that have already linked to that kind of stuff. You're not selling them the link. You're not pushing it down their throat. You're saying, “Look, it's here.” Then, making the next step themselves psychologically which I guess is a great sales technique because you're convincing them to do it off their own back without really being too aggressive about it.
Brian Dean: Exactly, but the important thing is to make sure that you frame it within that page that you want your link on because then, it puts the inception seed in their head. If you just said like, “Hey, I was searching around online and I found your site today, it wouldn't have the same effect. I don't know why exactly psychologically but I've been trying this a lot lately and it's working where I just say like, “I found this page,” and I make the conversation within the context of that particular page. Then, when I send them the content, it's like they think, “That page, this content, I have an idea. I'll link to it.”
Loz James: Devious.
Brian Dean: That doesn't always work. I know, it's pretty devious. It's the little world we live in, my friend, but the great part is that they don't put two and two together. You can always not push but suggest…
Loz James: Give them a nudge.
Brian Dean: You give them a little nudge and that's when you say the “mention” thing. “By the way, I'd really appreciate it if you would mention my guide on your page.” It's so non-intrusive to say something like that. Just mention it. It's really hard to say no to that kind of request. That will be the follow up.
The conversion rate for any sort of e-mail outreach. I don't want to make it sound like for listeners who haven't tried this before that you're going to e-mail 100 people and you're going to get 99 links. It's more like you're going to e-mail 100 people and you're going to get 10 links. It's really the conversion rate for any start of outreaches really, really well. That is just the nature of the beast even if you have the best scripts in the world.
Now, in this case, the skyscraper technique that Loz mentioned, I got a 17% conversion rate but that was really high. That was basically because the content that I had was just so over the top that it converted really well.
Loz James: Let' be clear about this. The links shall go into those ten links trumped every old fashioned spamming link building message you could try. These ten links are absolutely fantastic, aren't they?
Brian Dean: Yeah. These are exactly the type of links that you want. They are links from niche relevant sites that are typically on pages that have authority, the best links that you can get pretty much. Now, that's the thing. It's quality over quantity. If you get ten links, ten links can be enough to rank for certain keywords depending on the links and the keywords. Yeah, it's a good point.
Loz James: Can I just tell you that my five-year-old son is trying to get into my office.
Brian Dean: No worries.
Loz James: I am just going to say, “Can you leave me alone for another 20 minutes, and I'll be right back with you.”
Recording: You're listening to the Content Champion Podcast showcasing high quality content across the web.
Loz James: Sorry, Brian. I am back again.
Brian Dean: No worries, man.
Loz James: I just bought him a Venus fly trap and he wants me to go and feed it flies.
Brian Dean: Oh, man. I had one of those. I had those when I was a kid. That is the greatest, man.
Loz James: Yeah, it's really cool.
Brian Dean: Absolutely.
Loz James: Anyway, of the factors that play into this, the structure of the authority site, do we have to link up to our Google authorship and ask social media profiles and everything else to go hand-in-hand with this high quality link building we're doing as well?
Brian Dean: You don't have top but I think it's a smart move because links are always going to be the foundation of the Google algorithm in my opinion but that being said, they are only becoming less important as time goes on because Google's job basically right now is to diversify the algorithm as much as possible. They have 200 ranking signals and maybe 75% of those are all link-related.
What they want to do is get away from that so then, it is harder to gain the algorithm because if you have to, let's say, have an authoritative Google authorship profile, you have to have active and authoritative social media accounts, you have to have user interaction signals and you need those links. It's a lot harder to gain all of those factors than just put up a random site and just blast it with links. That is something that you definitely want to include in your strategy for sure.
Loz James: In terms of creating an authority site, you don't really want to be faking your own identity and things like this. You got to really stand behind the site as yourself like you say because it's going to become harder to gain. Is that what you do?
Brian Dean: I use a pen name for the other sites so maybe …
Loz James: We can still do that basically?
Brian Dean: Yeah. Use a pen name and I have a Twitter account, a Google Plus profile, a Facebook page; all of that stuff. He “guest post” on other sites and his authorship information sometimes. It doesn't have to be like I am whoever because the problem with that is that if you want to do two sites, how do you do that? I do like to use a pen name on occasion but for Backlinko, obviously, it's really me.
Loz James: Now, we've talked a bit about the look at the sites. Obviously, we're using high quality word press themes and things like that. Where are you putting your ads? We talked about the monetization, CPA, ad, and things. We don't want it to look too spammy. There is always rules about too many adverts above the folds, and all this sort of stuff. How do you make the sites look so that they get better conversions and still make money, so to think?
Brian Dean: That is a good question. You got to make them look super nice and super professional. There is no way around but you do have to hire a designer to make that happen because even the best theme, it may look good but it won't look branded. That will hurt your engagement metrics that Google is paying attention to those user experience metrics.
I would recommend hiring a designer to customize your theme to make it look really nice. Also have the same designer try to integrate to your ads as much as possible within your site but that depends on how you're monetizing. If you're building a list, you'd want a feature box in the homepage that stands out, and you want people to sign up. If you go look at SocialTriggers.com, he has a huge feature box at the top of the homepage or a lot of other sites have this, a blog specially.
If you're looking to monetize with a list, you actually want your monetization to stand out or if you had ad sends, you want your ads to stand out so people actually click on them but I prefer to monetize a CPA. That is my favorite way to monetize because I find the money is the best basically. If you do that, you want to integrate the ads into your site or if you promote products as an affiliate, you want to integrate the monetization into your site. It doesn't even really look like ads.
One great practical way to see what I am talking about is to head to any hosting review site. If you look at hosting review sites which are super competitive because each commission for hosting is $65. There are no dummies the way they set up their site. If you notice, none of them have content and banner ads. None of them. They all have a top ten list of sites and it just looks like a part of the website but it's deviously monetized because obviously, when you click on one of the links to go iPage or BlueHost, it's an affiliate link but the way they do it is really brilliant.
Another example or two others I can give you right now is NerdWallet.com. It's like a personal finance site and they do a great job of integrating their ads. It doesn't even look monetized but when you're on the site and then you search for a credit card based on whatever criteria, and you click on it, that's obviously commission for them. It's all monetized to CPA or if you are looking for, I don't know, like a bank account or an insurance quote, it's all CPA monetized but it was like within these tools that they've set up. It doesn't even feel like you're being advertised too.
Money Supermarket which is a huge personal finance there in the UK, it's actually a publicly traded company in the UK stock exchange, also just 100% CPA monetized and it integrate their ads. There is no way to do that without a designer. That is what I would recommend. It's trying to have a designer.
If you have a set of nursing schools, you'd want to have your homepage, information about how to find nursing school but also that ranks the top five as opposed to a generic looking theme with the banner ads that link to CPA offers. Your conversion rate will be like ten times higher if you integrate the ads into your site.
Loz James: It's all about first impressions, isn't it really?
Brian Dean: It is, absolutely. Design is huge because also, not only will this help your conversion but for link building. People go to your site and it's ugly, you can have the meaning of life on there and it won't matter. People won't link to it. Design makes a huge, huge difference.
Loz James: Moving to another factors that affect our ranking as well. I was always mocking around the Google speed test site tool thing. I got my personal website, my portfolio website out from a 51 which was rather along that to a 92. I just literally was playing around with one of these browser cashing plugins and manage to earn and scrunching my images and things like this. I got the speed up from 51% to 92% or whatever the metric is. Are these things important, fast service, quick loading images, all these type of thing? It has to be streamlined, isn't it?
Brian Dean: Yeah. It is important. It's not the end of the world. You can definitely rank a site with a 50 speed with enough links but it's going to make your job that much harder because not only is that a ranking signal in of itself but let's say you're doing outreach and you e-mail someone, and they are busy like a baller in your industry and they're actually going to look at your content, and it's taking forever to load, they may just give up, and move on with their life, and you just missed you a golden opportunity.
Also for user experience, that is a metric that Google will accept. If people will come in to your sites, it's taking forever to load and they just click away, that is not good. Also, for conversion. When people go to your site and it loads instantly, you’re basically putting the ads in front of their face as soon as they get there which is what you want. You want to see them as soon as possible, and if it's slow loading, you're going to get a high bounce rate, and obviously bounces aren't going to convert for you. Also people, they going to have less time on site, less page view. It's very important.
Loz James: Can I ask you something which might seem a silly question, but what happens if you go to CPA or you pick your nursing times ad, whatever it is, to go on your nursing training authority site and you design it around this, and they change the banners or the colors or whatever, and you'd have to …
Brian Dean: That is the thing. You don't have to worry about that so much because if you integrate it the right way, you're not really using the banners and stuff. For example, let's say that you are running a nursing school site, and you're promoting Phoenix University which is an online university. You'd put their logo and some information on the home page about them and have them click through. Just go to the hosting sites to see what I am talking about. If they change their logo, yes, , you have to go in and change the logo but that's not a huge, huge problem.
In my authority site, I had one of the sites I was promoting on that site rebranded totally, and it took my five seconds just to change the logo and change the name from name A to the new name, name B, because it's otherwise, exactly the same.
Loz James: We started with the money. We've done our keyword research. We've built out fantastic content. We started to do some link outreach, getting some good links in. We've linked in perhaps with a pen name, all of our social media profiles. We are active on those platforms. We then have our CPA ads built in to a fine looking website. Everything just reeks of authority with the most authoritative site in the space. How long before you start seeing some [inaudible 00:49:45] and cash come in?
Brian Dean: If you're at that point, you should already be seeing some cash come in. Maybe you're not at a positive ROI yet but you should be pretty close because if you're already … You have great content on your site, you've done outreach, you're getting exposure, all that stuff has already happened, the traffic should be there already coming in. Maybe it's not worth it. It should be or it's going to be but within … Like I said, this guy that I just talked about in his case study. His name is Robert. He's actually a British guy. His site went from … I don't know how many visitors but increased by 370% in a week. That was just search channel. He also got 3000 referring visitors from that one piece of content.
SEO can take a lot of time but it doesn't have to take that much time because it's already ranking number one for the keyword link building tools. His site doesn't have a lot of authority. It's just that one piece of content. If you do the content and the outreach part, in a week or two, you can already start making some money.
Loz James: Wow, that's incredible.
Brian Dean: Yeah. Within a couple of days, he was ranked for link-to-link tools. Then, part of that was freshness. They gave him a little bump. Then, he dropped a bit. Then, he started doing outreach to build links to it, and now, he is number one. He's been number one solid for two weeks. He gets a ton of traffic. That is a good keyword too because that is like a buyer keyword. Now, someone link-to-link tool is someone looking to buy a tool.
Loz James: This is just a great point to mention that while your site is on Backlinko that you mentioned you're making over $9000 a month. This is sustainable business type opportunity proper business if you do it the correct way that you've outlined.
Brian Dean: That is right, absolutely, but it has to be approached like that from the start. It has to be approached like a real … That site that makes $9000 a month, when I first started SEO, I wasn't creating sites like that. The opportunity was never there. Once I started creating real sites that is when you can start making really good money.
Loz James: How long did that site take to reach nine grand?
Brian Dean: About four months.
Loz James: Wow. Speaking directly to listeners, Brian, obviously that is exactly what he is talking about. That is incredible, four months.
Brian Dean: I know and it's crazy. That's when I first launched I'd say actually. I didn't know as much as I do now because I am always doing stuff and I am always learning, right?
Loz James: Yeah.
Brian Dean: Now, the [inaudible 00:52:21] is much shorter side of it and you have it to be a shorter period of time, but one of the reasons that site has done so well is because it's like the perfect-sized niche. Like I said, I have 50 pieces of the content on that that are very good. That target keywords that are sort of medium tail, long tail, not super long tail and then, it have like 20 others in the pipeline. It's like the perfect-sized niche and that's what you really want.
That is really important because now, I am ranking for all sorts of keywords and that is why it gets so much traffic. It's not so much from these certain little keywords. It's not so much from the big keywords. It's from all the other pages that are ranking highly for these branded searches.
Loz James: I know the links of the content doesn't really matter because it can be authoritative in other forms. It can be a short piece of text and amazing video, or amazing infographic, or something like that but your text articles. They are pretty hefty, 1500 to 200 words.
Brian Dean: Yeah, I like to make them that long for SEO and for use experience actually. Like you said, there are some haikus that are amazing. It doesn't have to be long to be good but I've never been able to cover a subject in depth without hitting that word count. Now, if you're really good, maybe you can but I've never been able to do that, and I think from an SEO standpoint, it's better to have longer content.
Loz James: On-page SEO, you're just doing the standard in the URL, in the title tag, in the description, that type of thing.
Brian Dean: Yeah.
Loz James: You're not going too heavy on it.
Brian Dean: No, you don't need to. Basically, there's two purposes of on-page SEO. One is to let Google know what your page is about. That is the really straightforward stuff. That's putting your keyword in the title tag. I do a few other things that no one knows either makes a difference but it always works for me, putting the keyword in the first hundred words of the article which does makes sense because you're talking about nursing degrees. It makes sense that you would put “nursing degrees” in the first hundred words.
Then, the second part that a lot of people ignore is that you're also showing Google quality signals. Obviously, they gauge the quality of content using most links in social signals and user interaction signals but they also base it somewhat on your on-page. I always do things like include multimedia, use a lot of bullets, I link out to other resources. That really shows that the content is pretty good because if you look at a spamming site, they never link out to authoritative sites ever. They always had huge blocks of text. They never break things up. They hardly ever use video or images. They just collect a stock image in there. It's just another way to separate yourself from the rest.
Loz James: You're building a list with the authority site that is making 9000 a month. Is that something you're actively doing to … Neil Patel does that really well. You sign up. You get directed back into a close loop of more content and it drives interaction that way.
Brian Dean: I don't actually. It's one of those things where last year, once I started making $9000 a month, I was like, I am going to start building a list because the money is in the list but it does depend on your niche. That advice doesn't necessarily apply because the traffic that comes to this particular site is all over the map.
The real value of a list is that you have a very targeted demographic that you can market offers to. My site gets like 75-year-old grandmas and 15-year-old girls. Building a list doesn't make so much sense because then, besides the niche that the site is in and promoting offers within that niche which is definitely something I could try but I don't, there is not a lot of other verticals I could market to them. I actually don't. It's just direct CPA integrated just like I had mentioned, and I don't have any list building stuff on there.
Loz James: Your CPA offers pay. What was it? $25 a pop?
Brian Dean: No. that's for nursing schools and stuff. The niche that I am in, it pays between $1.50 and $4 per lead.
Loz James: You're getting massive traffic?
Brian Dean: I am getting good traffic but it's actually not that. It's only like 1500 uniques a day but the real value is that it converts really highly partially because a huge part of conversion that no one talks about is just the type of traffic you're getting. I have some keywords that just convert really well and some that don’t. The psychology behind which ones, it's hard to say but for some reason, this is a high converting demographic. It's not just one demographic, whatever. The offer, I get 25% click through rate on my CPA offers. Now, that would never happen if I ad spend to something like that. 25% will probably get your account in.
That is one of the other reasons it does so well is because the ads are integrated and they fit with what the person is looking for when they make the search. If someone is looking for nursing schools and you show them ten nursing schools, those are ads of course but it also fits in line with what they are looking for, and so the click through rate is going to be very high versus someone searching for how to become a nurse. They're not at a stage of signing up for a nursing school information packet. That is not going to convert as well.
Loz James: Thinking about in the keyword research at the beginning, obviously think about where the money is but think about when you look at those keywords in the competition, what perhaps the psychology behind that search, why they are putting that in really, why would you put that into a search engine, what would you expect to see if you landed there, and then drawing better the content that's already provided.
Brian Dean: Exactly.
Loz James: Yeah, because sometimes people just look at it as a pure algorithmic thing. I can rank for this too to 2500 exact map set for a month, and I know it is low competition. Then, you've got a list of quite irrelevant stuff on the page and wondering why it doesn't convert into anything.
Brian Dean: Yeah, I've been there. I've done that before. Yeah, I've been there and it sucks actually. It's really demoralizing because you think like I deserve to get more money from this because I rank the site number one or whatever in the top three.
You can objectively measure it somewhat by cost per click. If you look at ad words and you look at the cost per click that people are paying, that gives you a good idea of how well you can monetize the traffic. It's not perfect but you'll notice that if you look at more general information searches like how to pick a nursing school that has a much lower cost per click than something like best nursing school where that person is ready to sign up. That is traffic people who are willing to pay for it. That is another way you can check if you're not sure and just look at the cost per click and ad words.
Loz James: Just winding things out before we finish up with a couple of final questions. It's been fantastic sort of how to step by step building authority site. Just one thing worries me about this though and I guess it worries a lot of people. It's that you can do all this hard work. I think as Larry Page is talking about Google authorship into 2014 being something that they're only going to show sites that have bothered to install authorship, all this type of thing is becoming more to cone in the algorithm and what Google is looking for. We don't want to be in a position where we put in all this work and wake up one morning and the whole thing has been dumped.
Theoretically, that could happen but I guess, what do you do to things like that? Certainly in terms of offsite link building, keep a list of all the links you built in Excel Spreadsheet so you can say, disavow those links if necessary, and then you can make any onsite changes quite easily and try to get back in a good books. Is that what you would do? Is it sort of an insurance policy?
Brian Dean: I don't really have a contingency plan to be honest with you because if you do the stuff that I am recommending, that could always happen, of course, like you said, and that is a possibility for sure but you can't really mitigate too much because if it does happen, you can go from there. You don't really have to keep track of your links because you can always use a tool like HReps Majestic SEO and get your links later and disavow them if it comes to that but if you're building super quality links from relevant sites in your niche, your chances of being hit are like slim to none.
Of course, it can happen but I think the best way to diversify isn't to prepare for some Google penalty. It's diversify your traffic sources so that if your site does get hit, you're not eating dog food for six months while you create another site. That would be the best way. The way I wouldn't diversify is through multiple sites because that is a mistake a lot of people make thinking that is safer to have five sets in one because you're hedging your bets but after Penguin, people realize it's not the case because if you got 20 sites and they…
Loz James: They all go.
Brian Dean: They all go all at the same time. You don't hedge your bets with 20 sites. Actually, you're safer with the one site because you put more TLC into that site. Every link that you build is super careful. You make sure your accurate text isn't over-optimized. You're not tempted to just buy some cheap link package. Because of that, you're actually less likely to get hit by a penalty.
Loz James: It's like one site to rule them all.
Brian Dean: Yeah. You definitely want to do one site and I wish someone would really put that into my head when I first started because that took me years to figure out. One site, one project and just like balls to the wall with that one site.
Loz James: What strategies in terms of expanding direct visitors from other places? We're looking at perhaps, obviously, social media, forums, getting in front of great quality guest posting on a high value, high traffic sites within the industry like you mentioned at the top of the podcast.
Brian Dean: Yeah, that's it. There aren't so many traffic sources out there and that is one of the reason that SEO is so important is because right now, with Backlinko for example, search and traffic is a huge part of that. I got a third of my traffic from search engines. I don't know. That would be pretty detrimental if I just didn't even have that as an option. I just had to do guest posting of forums or social media.
Also the traffic from Google is just the best. It converts best. I know a lot of people who don't have a site that gets traffic from other places. You may not realize how poor converting social media traffic is. It's not a real alternative to search. There is no alternative to search and that is why it's so important.
You want to diversify with other traffic sources but they usually can't replace the quality traffic that you get from Google. You definitely want to stay on the safe side and not say, “Well, if I get hit, I'll do whatever,” make that like a debit and you almost want it to be like a devastating scenario because then, it will make sure that you do the right things. Do you know what I mean?
Loz James: What’s your take on Google being deliberately difficult with their own algorithm and ranking engine so I can get more people to sign up to ad words? Is that an old new way?
Brian Dean: I don't get into that.
Loz James: No, I don't really.
Brian Dean: I think it's a huge waste of time to worry about Google and they're making money and they're doing this. I can't be bothered. I noticed a lot of people in SEO who write about this. Google is flooding this way. Google is all about the money. Maybe. I just look at SEO as a way to drive traffic to a site that I can make money from. Another good quote from the SEO world is, “As soon as Google starts worrying about my business, I'll start worrying about theirs.” That's how I look at it. I don't get into the whole black hat, white hat debate. The whole, where is Google going. I just focus on what's working and executing because I think that it's true.
Google is making it harder but I don't think they have some malicious master plan where they are trying to drive people away from SEO into ad words, although who knows? Maybe that is a master plan. I think it was really to clean up the results. They were really bad before Penguin. The sites that I was able to rank before were terrible. Now, I couldn't do that with the same strategies. I don't think there is anything necessarily malicious going on but there is no doubt like you said but it's definitely getting harder to rank but if you do the right things, you can be good.
Loz James: Yeah, put the work in and the rewards would be there in the long run. Now, this has been a fantastic interview. I just want to remind everyone where they can find you online. I am a member of your mailing list. I am on your blog the whole time. It's just a fantastic SEO resource. Can you remind us where we can find you on the internet please?
Brian Dean: Definitely the first place is Backlinko.com. Head over there and definitely sign up for the newsletter because it's a lot of strategies and case studies and things that I don't post on the blog. That is only for the newsletter. Then, you can also find me on Twitter @Backlinko. Those are the two places that are best.
Recording: Wait for our listeners. Here comes the PS Question.
Loz James Now, this is the part of the podcast I'd like to call the PS Question or ask online marketing experts for their advance strategies in content marketing, SEO, and link building. I'd like to ask you, Brian, please if you've got any advance strategies for SEO or link building you can share with us?
Brian Dean: That is a good question, Loz. Let me think. It's hard to think of that. It's like someone asking you, “Describe yourself, what are you like?” It's one of those questions that is hard to come up with something but basically, I would say that in terms of an advance strategy would be to reverse engineer other parts of other people's sites as much as possible. Take it beyond just the links that are pointing to their site and reverse engineer their content by looking at what's done well for them by putting their site into open site explorer, and then looking at top pages, and see what's performed well for them. Reverse engineer their relationships. See the people that are linked in to them. That's one tip.
Another one is that if you want to find really good guest posting opportunities, go to any site and look at author bios that include Google authorship information. Someone that links back to their Google Plus profile. Then, when you look at the Google Plus profile, it literally will give you a list of places that the guest posted under their contributed to section. Head to their Google Plus profile and look at contributes to, and it shows a list of all the sites that they've contributed to because they have to link to them to complete the loop for the Google authorship. You can find unlimited guest posting opportunities if you do that.
Loz James That is a fantastic piece of advice. We got two tips for the price of one.
Brian Dean: Two tips. Reverse engineer and then, this is kind of reverse engineering but it's a little bit different. Just look at sites in your niche that accept guest post and if you see the same person posting on a couple of places or you noticed that they use Google authorship, look at their profile and scroll down to where it says contribute to, and that will usually be a list. I found a list the other day of 50 sites in the internet marketing niche that this person has posted on. It works.
Loz James Fantastic. Look, Brian, thank you very much indeed for your time today. I really appreciate it. Everybody, go and have a look at Backlinko.com. I recommend it, and good luck with everything in the future.
Brian Dean: All right. Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.