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Ep 6: Brian Dean. SEO legend explains the basics and how he went from zero to $10k MRR in four months

Ep 6: Brian Dean. SEO legend explains the basics and how he went from zero to $10k MRR in four months

Host: Sean Tierney | Published: September 28, 2019

Brian Dean is one of the foremost experts on Search Engine Optimization. His site Backlinko.com gets over 200k monthly unique visitors and he’s been dubbed by Entreprneur.com as “an SEO genius.” In today’s episode Brian shares his process for analyzing a site, what he knows about the Google Rankbrain algorithm, featured snippets, FAQ schema, content pruning, his advanced “ghost post” technique and a boatload of tools for dialing in your SEO. Visit the link above if you have a question for Brian.

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Show Notes

0:00:31   Welcome and context
0:02:13   Can you give us a little context from the early days of how you got into SEO?
0:05:31   “I went from zero to $10k/mo in revenue in 4 mos. It was just madness.”
0:06:27   If you’re coaching someone from the start, what should someone be thinking about SEO-wise?
0:07:01   “Move quickly. Throw strikes. Keep the ball down.”
0:09:45   What do you know of Google’s algorithm about how it ranks sites?
0:10:57   The Google Rankbrain algorithm
0:12:09   Is Google marrying Analytics data (server) with Chrome data (client) to get the full picture?
0:14:27   How as a content provider do you be more of what Google wants in search?
0:14:53   Featured snippets: an opportunity and a threat
0:18:11   FAQ schema:
0:19:17   We saw a 5x increase on our knowledge base traffic after implementing the FAQ schema
0:22:11   At what point do you shift emphasis from on-page SEO to outreach for securing backlinks?
0:24:55   Can you talk about your “ghost post” technique?
0:28:05   What are examples of SEO anti-patterns (things people should def not do)?
0:30:45   When is content pruning appropriate?
0:36:53   What tools do you yourself use daily?
0:38:51   Is there anything WP-specific that our listeners should be aware of SEO-wise?
0:40:25   Let’s talk about your nomadic travel experience
0:42:23   Anything you learned from nomading that you’d recommend for productivity?
0:46:21   Can you talk about the “money or your life” Google quality rater guidelines?
0:49:21   EAT: Expertise Authority and Trustworthiness
0:51:13   This is scary for content creators: Google is brushing up against censorship with EAT
0:54:41   Thi is the ultimate case for building a recognizeable brand to cut out Google
0:56:09   What is one book that has profoundly affected you?
0:28:36   What is one tool or hack that saves you time/money/headaches?
0:57:23   What is one musical artist that speaks to you?
0:29:16   One person you’d love to have dinner with?
0:29:29   What important truth do very few people agree with you about?

Show Transcript

Sean: 00:31 All right. Hey everybody. This is Sean with the PressNomics podcast. I am sitting across from Brian Dean. He is a search engine optimization expert and founder of the Backlinko blog and youtube channel. He’s been dubbed an SEO Genius by entrepreneur.com and a brilliant entrepreneur by Inc magazine. He has an award winning blog, backlinko.com that was listed by forms as a top blog to follow in 2017 success magazine has referred to him as the world’s foremost expert on search engine optimization due to the influence of his blog, which now reaches over two and a half million people every year. And I’m just gonna read a few of these quotes. Brian from your, if you’re in your website, Brian’s SEO knowledge is insane. If you want higher rankings, you need to read his stuff. He is a Unicorn amongst a sea of donkey SEOs. That’s Larry Kim of wordstream, which is a popular tool.

Sean: 01:21 And also Backlinko is one of my favorite goto resources for actionable SEO content marketing advice. John Jantsch and he is the author of duct tape marketing. So Brian, welcome to the show.

Brian: 01:31 Hey, good to be here.

Sean: 01:33 Awesome. All right, so just some quick context for people so they know how we met. Uh, we’re here in Lisbon and I met you at a talk that you gave at Selina. You are doing basically a talk on SEO and we just kinda chatted afterwards and I invited you to the podcast. But, uh, I’m super excited. I didn’t realize how huge of a deal you are. So I’ve been reading your blog and going through stuff and I’m like, okay, this is awesome. So we’re gonna have a good time. But, um, I wanted to lead off with a question here. Can you go back to the days, just like how you got into this space? Like I know you’re backpacking and Sylvia and you shared some pretty interesting stories about like, you know, the panda update comes out, comes out and just like wipes you out and then you like figured out how to adapt and then go into that. But can you just kind of like talk and give us a little bit of like context here for how you got into it.

Brian: 02:17 So I started this whole SEO thing. My dream was to create this empire of these little one-page websites and they would all rank on the first page of Google and all make money from adsense and I’d make passive income. Like that was a dream and that was a dream of a lot of people back in. I think I locked my first like little mini empire like this in 2010 and there are a lot of people doing this and it was working. So then kind of word spread and more people were doing it and then people write about it on forums like and I read it and it worked for awhile. And then in late 2010 there was an update called panda that you referenced that wiped out all my sites and at that point I was starting to scale up. Things are going well. I had 200 different websites, all like complete garbage written by people who barely understood what they were writing or English just no like subject matter expertise, barely any English.

Brian: 03:09 It was all about like that exact match domain using the keywords on your page. And Google was like, hey you go first page. Um, what was your domain bill if you don’t mind me asking. It was a lot cause it was, I eventually found this cheat cause I was one of the first things I realized was like you know 20 bucks a month, 20 bucks a year per domain. It adds up pretty quickly when you have 200 especially cause I had my eye on a thousand and I was like cause my, cause your thing is like naturally you’re going to scale up not realizing that this was completely building I quicksand, well my, in my minds eye I was going to be 80 chillin with these million websites or whatever it scale to then just like making all this passive income. Of course it never happened. So I found some domain registrar that was like eight bucks a year or something.

Brian: 03:53 It just so you know, pulled them from go daddy to their planting my empire of a thousand. But before I could get there, they all get wiped out and I realized okay well Google is a little smarter now. They probably have something in their algorithm that’s like, these one page sites aren’t going to work anymore. They want some like bigger sites. So I started creating sites. They’re a little bit bigger. We’d be like five or 10 pages and they were a little bit better. There are still exact match domains. They still had the same like no people were writing them, had no idea what they were doing. They’re all keyword, overly keyword optimized. A lot of times they’re just kind of garbage, shady backlinks like no real back links and then 2012 that was the severe, that one got wiped out. That was like another one day to zero.

Brian: 04:38 That was a penguin update and that’s, that was what made me realize like, okay, Google is changing and if I’m going to keep, I can’t keep this cat and mouse game going forever. Like my first instincts from doing this so many times where it’s like, okay, what’s the next shady thing to get into? You know, what’s the next loophole I can find and I realized this is a cat Mohs came that I am not going to win. Like, it’s Google against me in a hostel. Like what chance do I have here? I’m going to get destroyed. So why not just give them what they want? How hard could it be to create like a legitimately, really good site. So I went from like 200 sites to five sites to one site and I built that site over the summer of 2012 and it grew like a bean stock.

Brian: 05:19 It was a f because so many of the webs of websites in general, but especially in that space and personal finance got wiped out by penguin. So anything that was legitimately good just was just rise to the top. I don’t think it’s easy to recreate the successes. So I had like, I went from zero to $10,000 a month in revenue in four months. Like it was just madness. Um, it was actually more like three months and then it just kept going up after that. So that was a really unique time. But the point was, it sent me a message like this could really work. So that’s how I got into this whole like white hat SEO approach. And I’m glad you brought up, I have notes here. Uh, I

Sean: 05:58 was gonna talk about just like this perpetual arms race because it seems like I see like, you know, as soon as you find a loophole then they’re all about plugging it and you know, you’re never going to out smart Google like they just have all the resources there. So use like the advice that I commonly hear is just like the ultimate SEO is just produce killer content, right? Shareable, amazing, compelling content and that is the best advice. But beyond that, I’m assuming there are like best practices and things that you need to be thinking about. So like what do you like if you had 10 minutes to sit down with someone, like what do you say to the, if you’re coaching someone who’s starting out and they’re just getting into this stuff, like what should they be thinking about in terms of approaching this? And you have to go like too deep on like tips and tools and stuff but just like high level strategy wise.

Brian: 06:39 Yeah. I’m glad you asked that cause that’s, that’s a smart question that smart people ask when they’re getting into something new. Cause a lot of people when they get into something new, and I was guilty of this is like what’s the tip I can use? Like most thing, but the most important thing is like what is like the high level thing or when in doubt do whatever. You know it’s like you’re an American so you know baseball, they always say to pitchers when they’re first starting out, like move quickly, throw strikes, keep the ball down. Like if you can just kind of focus on that stuff. And in the SCO equivalent of that, like little bit of advice would be to create content or on specific keywords that people search for, make it the best result for that keywords and then get links to your content.

Brian: 07:22 So creating the high quality content part. A lot of people I would say it’s over overlaps overemphasized because first of all there’s a lot of high quality content. It’s the bar of that. Like, it’s Kinda, it sounds hard to create it, but it’s really not. The tricky part is creating stuff that’s really a good match for what someone is searching for. So for example, if you have someone searching for like s like podcasting tools and your podcasts, uh, and you create something like top 10 podcasting tools, um, that’s probably going to be aligned well with that search. Even if it’s not amazing like it just get it just what that person wants in Google can bubble it up to the top. And if it’s optimized around keywords that people search for, you can get traffic to it. The tricky part is creating content that is really good optimized around the keyword matches when someone is searching for and get links to it.

Brian: 08:15 Like it’s that, that it’s, it’s almost impossible. So lately what I recommend people do if they’re just getting started out, you want to create two different types of content when it comes to SEO. You want to create stuff that’s that podcasting tools, whatever’s the best fit for that. If someone wants to a hundred that’s social and Google, give them a hundred if they want 10 give them 10 if they want 20 give them 20 but understand that something like that, it’s probably not going to get a lot of links and links are really important for SEO. So what a lot of people do when they’re starting out, they create all this high quality content and they doesn’t work cause they don’t have any links and if you don’t have links you’re not gonna rank. So you need to create that sort of stuff. And then also create stuff just like mind blowing. Amazing content that’s designed specifically for people to link to. And that’s what I’m talking about. High quality content. It’s like super, super high quality content. The type of stuff that people would link to share on Facebook, share on Twitter, whatever niche you’re in. That’s the advice I would give to someone that’s just starting out.

Sean: 09:12 Cool. It seems like, I mean, back in the day when I was like first a programmer and getting into just like web [inaudible] advice was things like medic keywords and this like stuff that you don’t even see and like tricks about, you know, making, you know, white font on a white background, like stuff, stuff that, that Google will find. But it sounds like Google these days is more using almost like human behavior as a proxy for what’s good. They’re not even necessarily like trying to algorithmically like look at the content itself and figure out what’s good, but it’s like how do people react to it. Um, can you talk about like what, you know, obviously you can’t know their algorithm, but what do you know of what Google’s doing there in terms of how they decide what’s good?

Brian: 09:52 So they’re using a couple things. The, the, like you said, the, how they’re looking at the page, it’s not real. They’re not necessarily looking at the page for quality signals. They’re looking at it more relevancy. Like it, like if you’re searching for, uh, like Kito Diet tips, they do want to see kito diet tips on the page. It’s not like the old days where it needs to be in the Medicare words white font a thousand times on the bottom, like, you know, but they do need to see that on the page to understand that it’s about that keyword. But, and they also need to see that people link to it. And so then, or link to your site as a whole. So it’s considered an authority that’s stuff’s the same as when you start it as now the big difference like you alluded to is how people, they, they’re paying much closer attention to how people interact with your site and the search results.

Brian: 10:37 So for example, if you search for like Kito Diet bars and the number of three results usually gets 10% of all clicks, but for some reason it’s only getting five or four, Google is going to say something’s weird about that result. Like just people aren’t interacting with that. Something’s wrong with it. They don’t even understand why. Yeah, let’s does down rank it. They have a algorithm called RankBrain, which is an AI algorithm that does a lot of this stuff automatically. Um, that can dynamically change, uh, the, the search results based on these user interaction signals and it’s real time. So you know, if you search for like a good example is like right after the Superbowl, if you search for patriots like the day before the Superbowl, it’s going to be a lot of like, it’s going to be like the Wikipedia entry for the Patriots. It’s going to be all this different stuff.

Brian: 11:22 And then the day after, if they win, it’s going to be like news results, blog posts that just came out. It’s going to be a lot fresher stuff because when people are searching for it, they’re skipping over Wikipedia and the usual number results, clicking on all this new stuff in Google knows that and they’ll bubble it up to the top. So they, that is like the huge point of emphasis now for them because it makes sense if like you can have the best keyword optimization, the best links. But if you put something out there that people just clearly don’t like, Google is going to know that and they’ve made tons of public statements, many conflicting that they don’t use it, they do use it, but there’s a lot of evidence from internal Google stuff that they do use it.

Sean: 11:59 Do you know if Google uses uh, like you know chrome browser, obviously they own that and then Google analytics install on the sites. So it’s like they have the user side of it, they have the server side of it. Are they marrying all that data or do they only use like when people go through the search engine, clearly they know like the click through at that point. But are they like marrying all these data points up in the background or

Brian: 12:22 have they’ve been more consistent on this like they, in terms of like whether they measure how people click on their results, whether they hit the back button after clicking on it. They’ve been somewhat like mixed messages on that. They have been very consistent that they don’t use Google analytics. I don’t use Google chrome data. And the reason for that makes, makes sense. Because like for a analytics we think like, oh everyone uses it, but the, a lot of websites that don’t, so you don’t want to have something, an algorithm where there’s a hole that like what do you do if one site doesn’t have it? Do you give them a 10 out of 10 score for Google analytics? So wanted a 10 zero do you just disregard it? It’s Kinda difficult to have one variable for Sur, a pretty significant proportion of sites that don’t have it.

Brian: 13:06 Um, there’s also the ethical issues and whatnot, but I think it comes down more practical. Like if you visited a site, like you go to Backlinko through your chrome browser and you spend an hour there and you’re like, this is the best, this is great Bob. While you bookmark a bunch of stuffs and chrome can measure all that in my Google analytics is showing your love in it, whatever. But, but then the next day, if you’re searching for like the best SEO tools and you click on one patient Backlinko and it’s not where you’re looking for like it’s the list is too long or it’s too short, it’s not thorough enough or whatever. You don’t like the writing and hit your back button. Google is much more concerned about that than how you spent your free time. Like they want to satisfy the search intent for that specific keyword. So what they w w basically to answer your question, they pay much closer attention to how people interact with every result for one particular keyword. So if one keyword people are loving your page and another keyword, people aren’t loving your page, the one that they love it, it’ll increase your rankings will increase in the other, it’ll decrease. So I don’t think they use that stuff because it’s not that helpful for the ultimate goal, which is to give people the best results

Sean: 14:12 and that is their ultimate goal, right? Like Google is happiest when people are finding what they came to find basically. That’s Kinda the measure of like the litmus test for when Google likes you. Right. So just I guess like the question is how do you be more of what Google wants?

Brian: 14:29 Yeah, that’s a good way to look at it. Um, yeah. If you give Google what are wants makes everything, cause you still have to like promote your site, you need to get links. Uh, so the Google sees your site as trustworthy, but it just makes everything so much easier if you look at it from that point of view, um, of giving Google what it wants versus tricking it or trying to use a loophole or whatever, just things go a lot smoother.

Sean: 14:52 Right. Um, can we get into some of the, like I, I’ve noticed as a trend that there’s a lot more, uh, I don’t know what you call this as a technical term, but bubbling up things so you don’t even have to leave Google. Uh, is there a name for that practice or ah, or like rich snippets or feature snippets? Yeah. Yeah. So I mean I’ve seen this more and more where it’s like, oh look something up. And then like the answer I want, you have to leave Google. Like the answer will just be like a definition. It’s like right there in the search results. Um, what, what is your advice? Is that a good or bad thing? I guess that’s kind of irrelevant cause it’s happening regardless. But like people roll with the punches. Like what should we be doing? Right?

Brian: 15:26 It’s, it’s, it’s an opportunity and a threat. Okay. At the same time it’s an operative, it’s kind of like an NFL. Like the head injuries are so bad, but football players are still playing and hitting each other. It’s like the same thing with this. The feature snippets are great for getting traffic and stos or fighting each other, trying to get into that spot. But you can look at the longterm and see it as a threat because you can see the direction Google’s going. Like it’s some point we never have to leave Google and it would be their ultimate goal. Right. So it, it’s good for users to, that’s the part people get mad at Google for doing this stuff. But when you looked at whatever that was up and you got your answer without having to click on anything, that’s good. Right? So the Google is in a tough position because they want to give people those what they want, but at the same time they don’t want to totally spurn content creators and website owners who are giving them all this content.

Brian: 16:21 You know what I mean? So they’re in a tough position. So I say in the short term, like you said, there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m in this, I have the same mindset you do, might as well take advantage. So I’ve been trying to get into more featured snippets and over the last year or so we had, I was terrible at it like just by by accident, gotten like two but I realized it’s one of those things you really have to optimize for if you want to get in it. And now we’re in like 150 and the click through rates is just amazing because it’s just this huge above the full thing and you think, oh you get your answer. Which is true. But there are a lot of people that want more information. It depends on the search. Like if you’re looking for how tall is the empire state building, right?

Brian: 16:59 You’re not going to click, you got it. Right. But if you’re looking for like SEO tips for example, they have a featured snippet for that result. If you Google it right now, um, I’m not in there but I’m saying they have a feature snippet. So, but if you read it, it’s kind of like, yeah, okay, it’s nice to have this bulleted list of tips like optimize around a keyword, blah blah blah. But your end, you’re going to click to something to learn more and it will probably be that result cause it’s just so prominent. So it’s an opportunity. But the threat yet longterm is that Google may become more of this like answer engine and not so much as search engine. And where does that leave us as content creators and site owners?

Sean: 17:38 No, I mean it seems like the Google search results itself almost could become a browser at some point. If you think about what a browser is in terms of like never having to leave that, um, it’s like bubbling up the web into the search

Brian: 17:50 results depending on how to what degree they are, they intend to do that. But like, like if you take that to the extreme then yeah, like at some point than every webpage just lives in the research results and you can drill down and you know, it’s all straight. There’s a new thing. It’s funny you mentioned that there’s a new Schema, which is like code you can put on your page to, to mark up your page and tell Google like this is an FAQ section called FAQ Schema that they’ve had it before but they actually implemented a new thing where if you have an FAQ section on your page, you can mark it up and then in the search results underneath the result, it has all the questions and you can click on one of the questions and it expands out and gives you the answer. Yeah.

Brian: 18:30 And you could just read it, read an entire FAQ page, like in Google results. That’s scary to me. But at the same time, the other issue is nothing we can do about it. And the other issue I have is what’s better than like what do you suggest going to like Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin? Like these are jokes compare to Google. Like the, there are studies that show the where of referral traffic comes from and it’s like 75% is Google. So even if it goes down a lot, it’s still going to be the number one source by a mile. Right. So social media is like compared to Google, it’s nice. It has its place, but it’s kind of a joke. So even if it gets, it goes down a little bit, it’s still going to be like the number one way to get traffic to your site.

Brian: 19:14 So we ironically just did a, what you’re talking about Schema, I didn’t know what that, what it’s, that’s what it’s called. But we just implemented that on our presales knowledge base for Pagely and we saw a five x increase in traffic, which is really interesting. Like we didn’t know, like I was looking through it. I’m using the tool, we use some knowledge base wordpress plugin thing and I’m looking through the graph and I’m just like, what the heck? Like what do we do last month? Because it’s just like this chart like this and then boom, five x. And so we dug into it and it’s like our CEO went through and actually did the scheme of thing and applied that to the knowledge base just to test it out and it had crazy beneficial results. But that’s interesting because you’re saying like it bubbles it up so you can never leave the search results and yet it has that other factor that you were just saying before.

Brian: 19:59 It’s almost like a business card that gives you a little credibility and maybe they just decided, okay, I want to click through to this to actually hear them. Yeah, and it makes you’re in the results. Like it’s huge. It’s like a normal result with like four questions underneath it so it makes it more prominent. So they might, you know, it’s going to increase their click through rate, but it’s, so today it’s good in five or 10 years if that’s everyone. Does that, then everyone does that. Then there’s no reason to visit our webpage. But at the same time, like people, I think people might over worry about this because Google is huge, but they really rely on people like us to create content for them or else there’s no point of having them. So if they just shut everyone off, who’s gonna there, why would you write content? Right. You know, so they’re, they’re never going to just totally spur content is all together, I don’t think.

Sean: 20:49 Yeah. Yeah, that’s super interesting to see. Just like the, the game theory of this really like, you know, the motives and Google and rewarding people and

Brian: 21:02 yeah, we’re kind of like adversaries, you know? But we need each other. We need each other, the, the relationship, each individual creator, Google isn’t need them, but as a community as a whole, they need us more than we need them because you can create a whole, like, you know, wait, but why the blog, Tim urban like he built like, or any huge Tim Ferriss blog, whatever. Yeah. Like they do in that case, they don’t need Google that much. Like people just go directly to that website, they know them, they really know what I mean. So it’s possible to create an amp, a little mini empire without Google being involved. It’s easier if you get Google involved, but Google will crumble without content, you know what I mean? They need people to create it. And one of the reasons that the content has gotten so good online is because people want to rank in Google. It’s a zero sum game because it’s only 10 results and everyone’s stepping up their game and that’s why content is so much better than total net win for the world compared to when I was putting out 200 crappy websites making people dumber by reading it. It’s definitely a net win.

Sean: 22:04 Yeah. Yeah. Cool. That’s interesting man. Um, alright, I want to shift gears here a little bit and talk about more tactical stuff, but like the proper mix, you know there’s on-page SEO things you do to the website itself and then there’s obviously like getting the backlinks and I just read something in your post where backlinks is actually just a piece of the puzzle. There’s actually a bunch of other stuff that you do, but how do you determine like when you work with someone or if you’re doing a site yourself, at what point are you shifting emphasis for like the content is good enough. Now I’m going to go out and hunt in like find ways to do outreach and promote it. Like what’s the mix there? Usually like

Brian: 22:39 I like to start with the backlinks for focusing on backlinks first. The idea behind that, it’s a little bit weird because most people would take this approach and I used to do this where you create a bunch of content and then you’re like, okay, now let’s promote it. The promotion part is trickier now because like to promote your content, to ask people to link to you, it’s a lot harder than it was even like four or five years ago, even two or three years ago because there’s so many mass spam outreach, outreach tools, so your content needs to be really, really great and your outreach needs to be really personalized. So what I recommend people do is create one or two really amazing pieces of content that are designed specifically to appeal a to bloggers and journalists in your space. So if you’re in the health and fitness space you’d want to study what are people already linking to?

Brian: 23:28 What are these bloggers and journalists like to write about? What did like to cover and write stuff just for that. I wouldn’t even worry about my target audience because they’re not going to read it. They’re going to see it anyway. Like if you don’t have backlinks, it’s not going to rank. So the, I recommend starting with a couple pieces of content like that. Focus on promotion, focus on getting links to it from the right people, and then once your domain has authority, you can start pumping out content and then it’ll rank because of the links you’ve got originally. But if you do it the other way, it’s a lot harder because if you create 50 pieces of high quality content for your target audience, well guess what? Your target audience doesn’t run a blog. They don’t have a Facebook page, you don’t have Twitter. Then how are they going to promote your stuff unless you happen, you know, if you’re a dentist or what a lawyer, your target audience, they don’t have websites. So you got to create stuff specifically for this group to start with. Then once you domain has the authority, then you can scale up, create 50, a hundred whatever amount of posts and those will rank higher because you have that domain authority.

Sean: 24:26 Got It. That’s super interesting. And that’s like this is worth the price of admission right now just for that tip. Cause I’d never thought of targeting journalists first given that they have like the backlink juice that you want. That’s, that’s a really awesome tip. Um, cool. Um, there’s something that you mentioned that I wanna uh, these other factors that like organic click through rates, search intent, page speed, mobile friendliness, some of these other things that affect, you know, the algorithm there. Um, you had a technique that I thought was really fascinating called the ghost. What was it that goes, goes post or, um, can you talk about that and, and how that works?

Brian: 25:03 Yeah. So it goes posts is something, it’s more of an advanced technique. I would definitely only do that actually. It will only work if you have some domain authority to start with. So some of the pages we could obviously do, um, cause they have a lot of authority already. But um, the idea is instant. If, if you’re looking for keywords you’ve ran into this issue, which is which one do I pick? Cause there’s so many tools now that are good, you can easily get like hundreds of keywords that are all pretty good in different ways. Some have higher authority, some get more searches, some get higher cost per click, you know, more competitive. And there’s like, it’s kind of dizzying to be like, okay, which one do I actually pick? And then what a lot of people do and what I used to do is rely on keyword difficulty scores that the tools give you.

Brian: 25:50 So they’ll say like this one has a keyword difficulty of 10, this one has 50, this one has 60. And those are all based on backlinks. So which is good because it does tell you in general how competitive a keyword is is not totally inaccurate, but it’s not that precise. And more importantly it doesn’t tell you how w how all of a chance you have to rank it. Just in general, that keyword is really competitive. So the issue I was having was I’d find a keyword, it would say, you know, keyword difficulty 20 I’d be like great. And a creative piece of content and it wouldn’t rank. And then I would input, you know, 20 hours into the content. And then I have another one keyword difficulty 85 I created a piece of content and it would rank and I was like, what the hell is going on here?

Brian: 26:34 You know, this keyword difficulty score is totally off a lot of times. And I realized this because it doesn’t take into account you, it’s just a general measurement. So this goes post idea was, well instead of just relying on these tools and then spending a lot of time and energy on content and it doesn’t rank, you put out a bunch of Beta versions of your content and see which ones are doing well and then double down on those and just ignore the rest. Yeah. Um, and that’s been working well for us. It’s a lot faster to put out stuff that way than waiting. Uh, putting all this effort in and you’re able to no put your resources into things that are gonna work.

Sean: 27:12 Yeah. That’s awesome. I mean it’s like, I love things that roll up into higher level principles and like to me, this reminds me of this thing I heard. Um, I mean I call it trial balloons or like, that’s like the mental concept that I use for this. But like, um, back in the day, I guess like cal poly had a new construction at their campus and they didn’t know where to put the sidewalks. And there’s like all these people arguing over where the sidewalks belonged and so they were brilliant. Instead of doing it, they planted grass the first year and they just watched where people walked and they took an aerial photo and literally that became the design plan for where to put the sidewalks in across the camera and it’s just like, it’s similar concepts. It’s like, no, don’t speculate and then waste all this energy following something that’s not going to work. Like literally just let the data speak and like throw a couple trial balloons up and see how it plays out. So that’s an awesome goes post posts and I’ll link in the show notes to the post that you just did that kind of explains more about that. Okay. What are, here’s a question like what are anti-patterns? What are some things that people should definitely not do or mistakes that you’ve seen made commonly when it comes here?

Brian: 28:14 Yeah. The biggest mistake I see people make is focusing on quantity over quality. And this is a huge mistake because especially in the blogging world, as someone that had a blog back in the day, you know how helpful it was to publish on a regular basis. It was like that was a blog. That was what you did. Yeah. Um, the problem is today it’s such a commodity to publish all the time. There’s just so much content. Like there’s, there’s no competitive advantage of publishing once a week, once, twice a week, whatever. Um, the most important thing is to create stuff that really stands out, gets attention, gets people linking to it, gets people sharing it. Um, and it’s a lot harder to do that usually then to create a bunch of content. So I see a lot of people when they’re starting out, we’re going to create a hundred posts.

Brian: 29:00 We’re going to do this, we’re gonna do that. We’re going to grow 200 posts. And it doesn’t usually work because it just goes into the ether. Like according to wordpress, there are 12 million blog posts published every month. So if you just publish a blog post, just going to get lost. You know what I mean? And if you do that, it doesn’t matter if you’d do it twice a day, three times a day, there’s just so much content now. It’s insane. That doesn’t even count youtube videos. And all the Instagram photos, like there’s just a lot of content that’s coming out. Yeah. Terabytes like a minute. So if you are just creating blog posts, not going to work, you’ve got to create something really unique, really different and really high quality in order to stand out. So I’d say the number one thing would be if you’re just starting out, like when you asked me about star starting from scratch, I was talking about literally one or two posts to start with.

Brian: 29:48 And the other good thing about that is it helps you just like focus on making those too great. Like we need to put everything into that. I remember when I first started Backlinko I, I made a rule I’d only publish once a month, once every four weeks and I, and it helped me step up my game cause I was like damn if this better be good cause people been waiting a month for this. Yeah. So I couldn’t put out crap. Like it put a lot of pressure on me in a good way to make sure every post is really good. Now that I have a team and I have help, I can scale more and put up, we publish twice a month instead. It’s still not that really that often. But back in the day, it was once a month for the first like five years of the block. And I remember thinking like, man this is a whole month. People will assume I’ve been working on this so it better be good. Um, and that helped a lot. That would be the number one thing that I’d recommend for people

Sean: 30:37 emphasizing quality over quantity and less is more. Got It. On that topic, um, cause I know in the Selena talk you mentioned the value of pruning old like non-performing content. Can you talk just a little bit about like, I mean why do that, cause it counter-intuitively you can, you know, you’d think the more the better, but it sounds like there’s some reward for pruning back when there’s a page that is not ranking and is not yielding any value to you or your visitors or Google or anyone. So like what, can you just talk about like content printing as a practice?

Brian: 31:07 Sure. So concept pruning is definitely like if the ghost posters would advance, this is like super advanced, you know, have adult supervision. Uh, you know, it’d be wear gloves, wear eye protection like this can easily go sideways really fast but it can also be really helpful. And it’s one of the few things in SEO I’ve seen that when you do it right almost always works like SCO. It’s, it’s like half are half science, you know, you can do you credit great post, its optimized as perfect low competition keyword and it doesn’t rank and you have no idea why. And you could ask a Google engineer and they’d be like we don’t know. Like it’s just the algorithm. This is something that’s a lot I’ve seen work more consistently. So, and Google has even said they, they haven’t really said content pruning but they’ve basically said they prefer sites that are smaller and higher quality to have fewer pages and they recommend that you improve those pages.

Brian: 32:01 But if you can’t improve them then it’s okay to delete them. And the reason this works, in my opinion is one that Google has some sort of site wide quality score, for lack of a better word. Like you know, it was page rank back in the day and but that was still each individual page. Now it’s like more sophisticated. It’s like what is this site’s quality score? And if you have a bunch of low quality pages, it’s gonna bring down that quality score, which can hurt all your pages rankings. The other is just old school link page rank that if you have a hundred links pointing to your site, that juice gets diluted across all your pages just to kind of like the law of physics. Right? Right. And if you have a thousand pages, it gets diluted a little bit more and 100,000 in a million.

Brian: 32:49 Each page has less and less page rank. So it’s gonna not going to rank as well. And sometimes that can be counterbalanced by like you have more pages, so you have more opportunities to rank. But a lot of times those pages aren’t very good, so they don’t rank anyway. So what content pruning is, it’s kind of like an audit you do with your site and you say, okay, which pages on our site are just not getting any traffic? The knock, bring in any customers that they’re not providing any value to us, to Google, to visitors, to customers, to anybody. So we can delete them. And you just repeat that process for as many pages as you can. The easiest way to get started with this, I recommend doing site colon, your site.com and Google. And what that does is it shows you all the pages Google has indexed and nine times out of 10 if you haven’t done this before, there’s going to be pages that you don’t want index in their deck search results pages or an old press release or an event that’s three years old or whatever.

Brian: 33:42 And those are the first ones I’ll start to leading. Just kinda getting the hang of this whole deleting thing. And if you want to scale it and you feel like you have a lot of pages that are in this category, um, you can go to Google analytics and just sort by page views over the last whatever amount of time you want to do and just start with those pages and say, okay, this one’s not good or this one could be improved or we could combine this one and this one together. Um, and that’s basically the process you go through. But yeah, ideally like Google even says you do want to improve the page if possible, but there’s a lot of pages, like a search results page that you don’t want index to begin with or an event that happened or hired someone got hired like five years ago on a press release or whatever.

Brian: 34:22 You just product you don’t support anymore. There’s a lot there usually a lot of opportunities for just straight up deleting them. So there’s, so there’s some mix here of outright deleting them in like the no index thing where you just don’t want it to appear in Google but you still want the page around. Um, and then when is it appropriate to do like a thrill, one redirect versus just get rid of it entirely. So if there’s another page on your site that’s very similar, then out with three one redirect. A lot of people what they do is they kind of wholesale three Oh one redirect and they, because I don’t want to lose whatever authority, but these pages generally don’t have any authority anyway. Plus it’s kind of, it’s actually spam to do that. Google has said they don’t want you to do that cause three Oh one redirect means this page moved.

Brian: 35:05 So if your three one reacting 300 pages to one page, they didn’t move there. No, that’s not, no, it’s abusing the what that is like. And they’re pretty liberal like a lot of times, like if you have one page about chocolate chip cookies and another one, even if the page didn’t technically move there and you’re just redirecting it, that’s fine. You should do, that’s actually smart. You should do that. But if you have 500 of them and you’re gonna say, wait, all these pages move there and none of the content move, they’re just the pages. Um, so in that case, I would recommend deleting them. A lot of people disagree with me on this, or they say add the no index tag, which is useful. Like you said, if there are pages that users need, like customers or whatever, even internal staff, but you don’t want search engines to find the problem with just no index in these pages.

Brian: 35:52 They’re still there. They don’t go away. They’re in your Google analytics. If you run a a site audit tool like screaming frog or raven tools that still show up, like they’re just like, they’re kind of like this ghost that you don’t do, you want out of your house. So I usually just recommend deleting them. And I’ve seen people have the best results with that when they do it right. And if you’re afraid to do this, I understand. Um, it’s scary to just delete a bunch of pages. So first of all, I would recommend slowly rolling this out and seeing how it goes. That’s usually the best pro, like as opposed to deleting half your site and then crossing your fingers, like do it over, we’ll do a backup before you do anything. Right. Exactly. Do a backups, you could roll back and just keep deleting over time. The other thing is these pages are bringing in a traffic or visitors or money or anything. So there’s not that much downside. You know what I mean? They basically kind of don’t exist anyway. Right. Um, so that’s Kinda how I look at it from the mental scarier part, which I can understand too. Yeah.

Sean: 36:47 Talking about tools, um, I know we don’t want to like [inaudible] I think that 90% of this sounds like strategy, but like let’s talk for a second about tools. Like what do you use? You know, I, I hear sem rush and Mas and uh, you know, h refs and all these things that are out there. It’s kind of overwhelming from a user perspective to like, what should I be using? But like, what do you use personally when you’re analyzing a site and trying to figure out what to do next? Like, what’s your process and what tools do you use?

Brian: 37:13 Um, well the tool is now more than anything is h roughs so I mean it’s just because it was originally just a link building tool, but they’ve added slowly added like different features that have eaten up. Other tools that I used to use. Like they have a keyword research tool. It’s really good. I still use SCM rush a lot. Like they both work well, but I’ve been using it a little bit more and more. Or like they have a site audit tool. It’s not as good as some others, but it’s kind of like good enough. You know what I mean? And their UX is really good. So it’s easy to use. That one I’ve been, I like when I do kind of anything SEO related, I find myself naturally using that more and more. Like I still have a million subscriptions to a million tools.

Brian: 37:55 I should probably cancel a bunch, but I’m kind of a tools like guy. Uh, that’s the one I use the most. I use STM marsh a lot too, especially for keyword research because it’s just great for like you could put in a domain and just see all the keywords that they rank for. But then again, h refs has that feature now too, so I don’t know if it’s out of habit or I like it. But the thing about SEO tools is that there’s like the kind of getting consolidated. I don’t use as many as I used to. I used to probably use like 10 by maybe now I use like four or five except for the stuff. I mean using, I mean I don’t use Yoast like it’s there in wordpress. I would say use it though. You what? I mean like it’s installed, but I don’t really like do anything with it. Yeah. Yeah.

Sean: 38:39 Well that’s actually a good segue like the listeners of this will largely be people who use wordpress. This is a press formance as our, I’m sorry. PressNomics is our conference that we do once a year for the business of wordpress. Um, is there anything specific to wordpress that, that people who have a wordpress site or blog that they should be thinking about specifically? Or is it just SEO is kind of generic regardless of what CMS you’re using?

Brian: 39:02 It’s, it’s like 99% generic. Like it pretty much applies no matter what you’re using. But if you use wordpress, the only other tricky thing to keep in mind are tag and category pages. So a lot of times I don’t even use tags or categories anymore, but if you do on those pages you can get indexed and that could be one of those, those pages that can dilute your site too. Yeah, sometimes the category pages can be helpful. Like if you know someone sends you for like Paisley, whatever resource podcast and you have a category about it that can be helpful for people to find. But if you’re finding that you have a lot of tag and category pages that are going to index, no one’s visiting them, no one even knows they exist. Those would be some that you can just, no index. He can’t really delete them and wordpress. So you’re better off just know index and then, but other than that, it’s basically the same. Cool.

Sean: 39:53 And you don’t use Yost, but is there anything that you do recommend internally?

Brian: 39:56 I do use those, but I mean it’s just like installed, but yeah, it’s kind of like wordpress. I use it, but, well no, that one actually use, cause you’re like clicking on stuff but yields this more or less like in there. Yeah. But I don’t really do anything with it. Cool.

Sean: 40:09 All right, well we could probably dig into like all kinds of things, but I kind of want to take this, uh, now in a different direction and talk about just like the nomadic stuff, like, cause uh, you at one point were backpacking around Sylvia and that, you know, I am still traveling quite a bit. Um, what have you just taken from the experience? Like why did you travel? What have you gotten from it?

Brian: 40:28 Well, I did because I had never really traveled that much growing up. So, uh, my parents didn’t have a lot of money, so we did like road trips around New England where I grew up. Yeah. That was basically it. Like I hadn’t left the country until I was almost 30, so I realize there’s a whole world out there and I’m like, I’m not, I haven’t seen it. So I, that’s one of the reasons that I started this whole like online journey was to do that. And it was great. Like, um, for pers personally it was amazing. I first place I went was Thailand and I planned to spend like a month there and I spent two years in Asia before I want to go home. Like it was cause I was like kicking a candy store. It was like this whole world, like it’s amazing. Um, but business wise it’s not great as you probably know.

Brian: 41:16 Like it’s hard. It’s not great was just, it’s not great. It’s just harder. Like I just will Asia particularly like how did you make that work? Hours wise? Business was a nightmare. It was a nightmare. Uh, so that’s what I had. I was doing like client work back then too. So I was like, Hey, do you want to hop on a call at nine? You someone in New York at like four. I mean, that’s not actually not that bad. It’s like I hit the edge of the days, feel like that’s not something new. Yeah. And I think about it’s not that, but yeah, there are tons of times. And then like even just like Skype and Internet is, it’s everywhere except when you need it. It’s everywhere. Like you think, oh, the Internet’s everywhere. I can work from anywhere. And then you somehow found the, the one coffee shop where it’s not working, you know, or the one hotel or it’s on the Fritz or whatever.

Brian: 41:59 So is great. Um, but I think if you’re like, as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to, you don’t have to like be in one place all the time, but it’s, it’s a lot harder to build something I for like hopping around all the time. And that’s something I learned a couple of years ago. So I started like curtailing that and living not more like slow matting. Yeah. But you’re basically based in Lisbon, but you’re still [inaudible]. Did you learn any, uh, any hacks or tools or resiliency from that experience of hopping around? Was there anything you picked up that you could convey to someone else doing it? Like, Hey, you do this to be more productive or don’t do that? Yeah, the number one thing I would recommend is to work in the morning. Cause what I, cause what happens is, especially if you’re staying in hostels, which if you’re just traveling solo starting out, I definitely recommend is you get up, you meet some people, hey, let’s go do something right?

Brian: 42:55 And you go do it. And then you come back and you’re like, oh, I’ll just work when I get back. And you get back and you’re like exhausted. It’s like 5:00 PM and you’re like ready for bed. So you chill for a bit. Then you’re all of a sudden is dinner time and then drinks and then you didn’t work. Maybe checked your email. So I realized one thing, and I still do this today, I make sure I have like an, at least a couple hours in the morning where it’s unfocused work time. I don’t check email. I don’t check social media and check my phone. It’s 100% usually writing now, but it doesn’t matter whatever you do, code or design just to that and then you can just enjoy the rest of the day. Like there’s, everyone’s day usually has like two or three critical things that if you could check them off, you can mentally be like, I did it.

Brian: 43:39 You know what I mean? It’s usually not that much. It’s usually just things that require like focused work and when you get back from like a day out, you’re not. It’s just meant unless you’re like a bad ass. I’m not like, I’m like, I couldn’t do it. So one thing I learned is that if you can get up a little bit early and do your work in the morning and a lot of times at hostels or maybe traveling with people, people aren’t like up and Adam, they’re not like up at seven out the door, you know what I mean? Usually the hangout for a while, they have a coffee and you just have to be antisocial for a couple hours and then from then you can just do your thing. That’d be the deal free to cause I imagine ecological tool of even even if you budget for it and you’re like, okay, I am going to work and I am a bad ass, I’m gonna work at seven.

Brian: 44:22 But it’s like, I would imagine kind of curious some of that guilt through the day or like or like, yeah. And you’re kind of like mentally has like dreading. Yeah. And that that’s an interface, the whole purpose of like going out and experiencing it. So yeah. Yeah. Or another thing I used to do where these like insane alternating interval, almost like interval training, red backpack for like a month, not even look at my laptop and then I would stay in a place like I remember staying in Hong Kong for a while and just working like a mad for like 10 hour days. Like for like two weeks or three weeks straight. Yeah. That I would not probably recommend that, but it’s another way to do it if you’re so inclined.

Sean: 45:05 Yeah, I would, I would tend to concur that uh, like loading it all into a big stand. Like that is not necessarily the [inaudible]

Brian: 45:12 it’s not healthy. Exactly. It’s not healthy. I felt terrible. You’re drinking coffee like downing gallons of coffee. You’re in front of a laugh. It’s like bad for your back. Back for your neck. Yeah. And then you, you don’t socializing cause you just like the working all day or you know it’s not healthy.

Sean: 45:30 Did there, was there any value, like did you meet people that were useful in a business sense or was it more socializing?

Brian: 45:36 No, more socializing. Yeah. It’s tough to me entrepreneurs that are or, or just nomads. Like that’s why I know mad years. Cool that you did that, that you’re in this group because a lot of times when you’re just nomadic on your own, you meet people who are on vacation for like a week or a month or whatever, which is fine, but they’re not like doing the same thing. That’s true. Yeah, exactly. They’re just like, they have a regular job at home. So it’s, sometimes it’ll align and meet a nomad, but it’s a lot harder, I find going to no med specific things as a way higher success rate for that. Totally.

Sean: 46:09 I mean, just like meeting you at the meetup. Yeah, that was a nomad. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Cool. Um, all right, well then one last thing and then we’ll transition. It looks like we’re coming up on the one hour mark. Um, wanting to talk about this trend lately that you mentioned in your Selena talk with Google. Um, in terms of like clamping down on things that are fake news and potentially risky, especially those things that are like life threatening. Can you talk about what you’ve seen in that era? You know, if someone’s listening and they have like a health site or a financial related site, um, it seems like those are, tend to be the ones that are particularly affected by this, but can you just like talk about what’s going on there? Right.

Brian: 46:48 Yeah. So a couple of years ago, Google, let me, is it more like five years ago, Google, um, someone leaked to these things called the Google quality rate or guidelines and basically what it is is Google hires people to manually search in the search results and rate the results. So it’s kind of like quality control. They don’t have any impact on the algorithm or the rankings, but they help them figure out kind of what’s working, what’s not working in general. [inaudible] secret shopping. Exactly. Exactly. It’s like secret shoppers for searches. Yeah. So what’s interesting is that when someone leaked this document, it gave you kind of an inside look of kind of how Google wants the search results to look because they basically told them like, if it looks like this, it’s good. If it looks like this is bad. Right. And I don’t know if it was that original one, but now they release it publicly because they’re sick of getting it leaked.

Brian: 47:40 Um, but a couple of years ago they added this new thing called your money or your life, which is a category or searches that were like higher priority in terms of whether the results for quality. So you know, if you search for like best podcast microphone and the results are bad and you get a bad microphone, that sucks, but you’re still can live, you can live another day. Right? But if you search for like what do I do? [inaudible] exactly. And it says, no, just stay at home with fine, drink some tea and you die. Your, you know, that it, and it looks bad to Google for Google and Google, Eh, the, the funny thing is they don’t have a PR problem and they don’t want a PR problem like everyone Google for, for being a giant company, people really liked them and love and appreciate what they do for the world. And the last thing they want is like blood on their hands or people saying their results are bad.

Brian: 48:34 And they’ve got a lot of flack from in 2016 from fake news showing up in the results. And I think they were very cognizant of of that. So they’ve already put this, they’ve been on this your money or your life thing for awhile. I think fake news also added more emphasis to them. They need to really like work out what’s quality and what’s not. And they can’t just go by people clicking on stuff and people how much time they spend the page or whether they bounce or how many links are pointing to it. Like that stuff’s really good, but they can’t just use that anymore. Because if you have appendicitis and you search for results and it tells you to drink some tea and you close the and you don’t go back to the search results, Google is like, that’s a great result because the user liked it, but then you die.

Brian: 49:19 That’s not a good assault. So they’ve started to emphasize something in this Google quality rater guidelines called eat expertise, authority and trustworthiness. And it’s a fancy way of just saying like, is this site trustworthy and is the author trustworthy? So through the algorithm, through some crazy advanced stuff, they basically been able to figure out the author of every piece of content. And if they can’t figure it out, it’s a negative for that piece. And they’ve been able to figure it out whether that person is a domain expert or not. And if they are, you can get a boost and if not you can get hammered. Um, but it’s not as simple as that because it’s also based on some sort of, they want also consensus like is your uh, content like totally out there is everyone saying to do x and you’re saying to do y in some spaces that’s fine.

Brian: 50:15 But in health and stuff, Google doesn’t want to risk that even if you’re right. So for example, a website called, um, Dr Mercola, mercola.com. He’s like a doctor. I don’t want to get into like health politics, whatever. I don’t even know his stuff really. But he got hammered during the last update and a lot of people think it’s because he’s kind of against the grain with a lot of medical advice. He has all the traditional signals. He has a lot of links. The contents really well researched. It’s, it’s thorough. People interact with it. People search for the brand as brand signals, but it got hammered and a lot of people think because, and he’s a domain level. He’s a domain expert, he’s a doctor, he’s, you know, whatever. I don’t know his credentials really because I know he’s a doctor so, but the psycho hammered, a lot of people think it’s because he was going against the grain. So if they could figure this out with an algorithm, that’s pretty insane.

Sean: 51:09 Boy, it’s a little scary to me in that like this is where Google can start to shape thinking and like what we do. You know, like yeah, it, as long as it’s all purely algorithmic, then it seems like it should just naturally promote based on like human powered. But I don’t know. Something about this, it feels like China, you know, it feels like they’re now starting to shape and like, you know, deemphasize edge people that are pushing the edge with progressive research that maybe isn’t like in the Corpus of well-established, you know, science and medical stuff. But it’s important on the less, and if Google is somehow like deemphasizing that that’s kind of, I don’t know, I feel I, I understand why they’re doing it, but at the same time, and it’s also doesn’t feel right, so I agree. It’s Kinda, it feels like it’s not censorship, but it feels like censorship brushing up against

Brian: 51:56 the person saying no, they’re not redacting stuff, but it’s censorship in a way because it’s saying that anything outside of this is going to get, it’s not even like the emphasize like they got, they lost like 90% of the traffic. So it’s like you’re just not gonna exist on Google. On the other hand, it’s, Google is important, but the site still exists isn’t really censorship because they still exist. The Mercola or whatever, whatever, it’s like a hammer. They still exist. They still have their Facebook or whatever. We’ll still have them. So like they die. But it definitely hurts them. And from Google’s point of view, like you can kinda understand where they’re coming from. Like even if they’re right, they don’t want to risk that they’re wrong. Like, they’re not going to get in trouble by promoting like Mayo Clinic and yeah, or whatever. These boring and you know, the boring websites that are like low fat diets and Blah, but even if it’s total crap, no one’s going to die from it. It’s, and then even if someone does get hurt from this advice, they can at least say, look, it was the FDA’s website. Like, you know, so they have that co they have that, they don’t have the culpability,

Sean: 53:04 but that’s just an important bias I think to be aware of it to the extreme. And it leads to like hive mind, you know, a group think mentality, which sucks. But um, and again, like does this change what you do if you’re that guy? I don’t,

Brian: 53:18 I mean I think no, the problem is he came out as this rebel, right? And now it’s this whole brand. Do you put your tail between your legs and start being like mainstream? Yeah. I don’t know. That’s a decision only he can make and it will not even work. You know what I mean? Who knows? Maybe the algorithm has blacklisted because we don’t even know how it works. Maybe it’s not even the content of his stuff that’s outside the pail. It’s the sentiment online about him or the site. Maybe they’re also putting that into like they’re just monitoring conversations and realizing that this is a controversial figure and saying we don’t want that in the results when it comes to health and financial stuff, your money or your life. Um, no one knows how it works. They haven’t been any leaks, pattens statements, blah, blah, blah.

Brian: 54:06 So it’s all speculation. A lot of people initially were saying the authorship was a big deal. Like if you have a house site and you don’t say who the author is or if the author is a rare random freelance writer and not a doctor or a nurse or whatever, but it’s not as simple as that because there’s tons of sites that had that. They got hammered. So it seems, in my opinion anyway, it seems to be that Google really wants to play it safe with these searches, which does make sense from their point of view. Yeah. It’s just a fascinating, again, looking at the game theory of it all, it makes total sense why it evolved this way. To me, reading between the lines like this just emphasizes, uh, the why it’s beneficial to build up a brand like Tim Ferriss or this way, but why personally?

Brian: 54:47 Like if you can get people coming to your direct, then obviously you’re not beholding to the Google or the Facebooks or any of the people that control the traffic sources. So it really just speaks to like do rank, get noticed in Google, but then also spend some of your energy really developing that brand. Yeah, that’s really, that’s the best advice. A, it’s the ultimate super hack because then there’s no middleman, right? There’s just the browser, right? Like a good example, this is the other day someone had this on Twitter. It was like comparing the search volume, monthly search volume of email marketing software and MailChimp. And it was like email marketing software. It was like 2020 500 searches a month and MailChimp was like 300,000 searches a month. And it was like even if mail chips, SCO socks, they get hit by a penalty. Like they’re always gonna rank for MailChimp. All right, so the ultimate super hack has had this huge brand. And do you think they care if they rank for email marketing software? I think David knows there’s probably some, there’s probably someone in charge of as probably someone in charge of that who’s upset, but like in the big picture, they’re only, they’re brand is so big they can complete disregard a Google and be buying. Right.

Brian: 56:00 That’s, they rather have that than rank for some keyword. That’s awesome. All right, well I think that’s perfect point to kind of wrap up and transition. I have just one little last section of this world, just kind of rapid fire asks you some questions. Um, what is one book that has profoundly affected you? And it can be SEO or it can be unrelated. As you well know, there aren’t any good SEO book. Does that makes it, that makes it easy. Um, so the, the one that influenced me the most is definitely the four hour work week. I read that when I was jobless in my parents’ basement and it got me going. Cool.

Sean: 56:32 And that’s like a, probably the most popular book and most nomads of the people that I’ve interviewed, like pretty much every [inaudible] nomad society. Yeah, absolutely. Uh, what about what, what is one tool or hack that saves you time

Brian: 56:44 or money? Definitely to pomodoro technique. Okay. I live by that, so I know what that is. But yeah, it’s basically 20 to 25 minutes of focused work where you kind of stay a task ahead of time and you only work on that for the, that period of time. And then you take a break and you repeat that process. And I live with this site called tomato-timer.com that is 25 minutes preset. It’s just for this. Yeah.

Sean: 57:13 Yeah. That’s awesome. I had tried it at one point and I never stuck with it. I just kind of found my own way of working. I use rescue time, but um, good, good advice. What about one piece of music that speaks to you or a musical artist?

Brian: 57:28 Oh Man, I, I still listen a lot to, um, sublime from back in the day. I love them. I was so sad when Bradley knoll died and, uh, I find myself still listening to this stuff today.

Sean: 57:43 My brother actually attended one of their last performances. He, they, they played, uh, at his fraternity in the basement of the SAE fraternity at Santa Clara and they got to see like a ridiculous show. And I’m super jealous. I cover one of the songs that Levin’s what I got. I say yes, come on. Good. Good choice, man. Uh, all right. One dinner guests. If you could have dinner with anyone as a lie,

Brian: 58:06 it has to be Ilan. Nice. Yeah, it’s gotta be Elon Musk. He’s like the world’s most interesting, fascinating success.

Sean: 58:12 Whatever. Yeah, whatever you want to say. He’s that. Yeah. Yeah. The dude is like making us an interplanetary species and doing next level stuff for sure. All right, last question and this one, take your time with it cause it’s a, it’s a deep one, but what important truth do very few people agree with you about, oh, this is the PTO. The one question is, I ripped it off from Peter, but I love it. I think it’s such a positive

Brian: 58:38 job. Interviews. Yeah. Um, that’s a good one. I would say the most important, yeah, this is one is that the f the world is great and it’s getting a lot better. Not Worse. I feel like a lot of people think that the world is going to hell or the world we live in, look at this and blah, blah, blah. But if you look at the world as a whole, it’s getting like ridiculously better, really fast. Um, and the future looks really good. Nice.

Sean: 59:06 Have you read abundance by chance? Peter Diamandis or heard of that book? No. Yeah, I did read that. Yeah, that’s that. It was like very much along those lines about like how there’s always like every generation ever has always said like, ah, doomsday, this, the world’s going to hell. And it’s like literally every, it’s gotten better. So unless this year is operation, like we’re pretty much on that trend, so I agree with you. Cool, man. Well, how do people listening, if they want to get in touch with you on social media or like where do you want to send them? Where can people do the best place to go? I think we’d go to backlinko.com and then sign up for the newsletter because I send a lot of exclusive stuff that I don’t share on the blog. Cool. And it’s Backlinko, B, a, C K, l, I N K o.com. Yup. Awesome. Will do. Thank you so much for being on the show. Thanks for having me. Cheers.

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