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Effective SEO Strategies that Ensure You Always Stay on Top

In conversation with Nathan Gotch

For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, we have a globally recognized SEO consultant, Nathan Gotch. Watch Nathan reveal his go-to SEO strategies and tools and thoughts on the most effective and overrated SEO practices.

You can optimize schema, and microdata all day but if you don’t have any authority, you’re not going to rank.

Nathan Gotch
SEO consultant
Hello, everyone, welcome to Ecoffee with Experts. I'm your host, Matt Fraser. And today on the show,w I have a very special guest, Nathan Gotch. Nathan is a globally recognized SEO consultant who has helped 1000s of businesses achieve number one rankings on Google, through his services, training blog, and YouTube channel. He went from being a broke security guard with $40,000 in debt to building a seven-figure SEO business without funding or entrepreneurial experience. His motivation is his family and a burning desire to help as many people as he can reach their goals. Nathan's unique ability to simplify complex topics has made him one of the most sought-after SEO consultants in the world. Nathan, thanks so much for being on the show. A pleasure to have you here.

Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

So, have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

That’s a great question. No, not. I don’t have that kind of a cliche background like selling lemonade when I was a child or anything like that. I had no desire to be an entrepreneur at all. It just kind of happened. My grandpa did have his own business. And I worked for him in his business. He had a construction business. I saw him running a business, but I never thought that would be me. I just kind of stumbled into it. And honestly, when I was in college, my goal was to be a lawyer or go into law enforcement. So I was going to do one or the other. And I had studied to be a lawyer. So I took the LSAT, and I went through that whole process. But while I was studying for the LSAT, I was like, man, and this is not for me. I was just thinking it through the whole time. And honestly, your family likes to push you in a certain direction. That’s kind of like, let’s say, the safe path. But I knew that wasn’t the path I wanted to go. I had always been super interested in the internet. I had played online video games for a long time, like first-person shooters, Counter-Strike, all this stuff. I was playing in middle school. I’d go to these lands, and I’d be able to play these games with 30 other people on land. I was obsessed with the internet and remembered the early days of YouTube before Google even owned it. I was involved and just obsessed with all that stuff. But little did I know I’d be involved in actually creating things in this environment. I was a senior in college, and I decided I needed to figure out a way to make money online. And that’s about summer 2011. So I started searching all this stuff to make money online through Google. And I stumbled upon all kinds of weird things. One of them was doing paid surveys. So my wife, at the time, was my girlfriend, but she would get so mad at me because I’d be doing these paid surveys like crazy, wasting my time. And I’d be making like; I don’t know, 30 cents an hour, doing paid surveys. And it was not scalable. And it was like, this is not going to work. So after a month or two of doing that, I started trying some other stuff. I started writing articles for Ezine Articles, trying to make money that way, just like writing articles. And that didn’t work out super well, either. So then, eventually, I stumbled upon the fact that many people were making money blogging. So I was like, well, I guess I can try blogging. So I set up my site on WordPress, and I had to figure out what I would blog about. And at that time, I was a senior in college. I was like, what do I know how to do? What do I have any expertise on? And it was pretty much nothing. So I decided to play baseball on my college baseball team. So why don’t I just talk about baseball pitching? And so that’s what I did. I started a blog on the only thing I knew how to do at that time was baseball pitching. And that became the breeding ground for everything that I do now. I spent the first like, let’s say, three or four months, I was writing content like crazy. And I had no traffic. I was getting no traffic because I had no idea what I was doing. I was just writing good content. I listened to all this stuff, like content is king and all this stuff. That makes sense; why don’t I just write some content, and I’ll get rewarded. It doesn’t work out that way, of course. So then, I eventually stumbled upon SEO as a means to grow my traffic. And so, I started obsessing about it and using everything I learned on that blog. And then, eventually, I grew the traffic on that blog. I started making my first affiliate commissions. I still remember the first affiliate commission I ever made. It was my senior year of college, and we were just about to go out. The school was going to a big bowling thing, and I looked at my phone, and I was like, Oh, my gosh, I committed. I was shocked. It was like 47 dollars or something. That was all it took for me. I just proved that I could do this on my own. And that’s all it took. I was like; this is it, this is what I’m going to do. And I will figure out how to make money doing this in one way or another. So then, I built up that blog, and I just started creating blog after blog. I had one of the under-counter ice maker reviews, Dino T- rex reviews and Bowflex reviews. I just tried to go in all these different verticals. Some did better than others. I’ve told this story before. If anyone’s listening, that’s heard me talk about this before, but I was honestly creating the sites just to learn SEO. I just felt like I wanted to get exposure to many different verticals. And I wanted to understand how to rank websites, ultimately. Fortunately, it helped me learn, and then eventually, I had gotten so good at it that I was like, Well, I could offer this to businesses, and they could pay me to do it. And then that’s when in 2014, I got my first client who paid me $100 a month. So pretty brutal. And to put it in perspective, my minimum retainer is 5000 a month. So you know, I’ve come a long way since that point. But at the early stages, I was just trying to take whatever I could, honestly. So that’s how everything started, honestly.

So what were some hard choices you had to make to get from $100 a month as your first retainer to where you are now, which is five grand a month?

Oh, man, so many hard choices. The first was that while I was doing this, I was still working a full-time job, as you mentioned, as a security guard. And I was doing a subset of security, which is loss prevention, and I was doing it in Beverly Hills. I was working at this high-end store, and I would spend every single open minute working on my online business. So I lived outside of LA, so I had to drive from my mom’s house. I would leave at like 4:30 in the morning. I’d get there early to miss the traffic. I would get there about six or so. And then, I would work on my online business from six to nine before I had to go into my actual job. I would work in Starbucks. I’m sure if I went over there, people would still know who I was because I’d be there every morning working on my laptop. And then when I would have my lunch break, I would just go into Starbucks again and work on my online business during my lunch break. I go back to the job. And then this just sounds kind of psychotic; when I finish my work at about five or six, I will stay in Beverly Hills just to keep working on it to miss the traffic. Because if you know my traffic, LA traffic’s insane. I mean, you’ll sit three hours in traffic. So I was like, why would I waste my time? I could stay here, get a little food and work on my business. I’d work from six to nine. And then I would drive back home. And I did that for a year straight while I was building up the business. So that was painful having to do all of that, and I was like, this is the motivation for me to want never to do this again. Like my motivation was never to have to sit in traffic ever again. One of my key things. Most people would say this is a bad thing, but I will say it for me. Fortunately, I got laid off from that job. I had to make a decision. And I decided to stay in LA and try to get a job and keep doing what I’m doing or just move to St. Louis to be with my current wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and just be here. And I decided to come out here and apply for every SEO position in St. Louis. Every single one. I only got one interview. Only one person responded, and only one company responded. They gave me an interview. I did not get the job. And so from that point, I was like, Okay, I guess I’m going to do this on my own, because if I can’t get hired, then I’m going to have to get my client. So that’s what I did. I just decided like I’m going to do this. So I just went all in. And I guess the rest is history, as they say. I wouldn’t recommend that for most people. It was a pretty intense thing to do. I mean, my funding for my business was a credit card with a $500 limit. That was it.

Wow, that was, so you were like, make it or break it? Exactly. Like your back was against the wall, there was like, yeah.

There’s a watch. Yeah. And, and I was young, too. So like, I could take that risk. Like, now I have two kids, am married and have a house. You know, like, there’s a lot of like, the risk levels are much different when you have more obligations. But at the time, my only goal was not to continue living in my mother-in-law’s house; I wanted to get out of her house. So I would be able to do my own thing. And my goal at the time was that I only wanted to get to like 3000 a month. So if I can get to 3000 a month, I was like, Man, I’ll be the richest person on earth if I could just get to 3000 a month. Fortunately, I got there pretty fast and then went up much higher, but I didn’t have a huge goal. I just wanted enough money to be able to pay a little bit of rent and be fine. And fortunately, I did that. So yeah, that’s bad.

So, how did you get clients? What was your process for finding people to work for?

Yeah, I did a lot of things. And some of the things I did back then would not apply today. So like one in particular, I got my first pool of clients from Craigslist. It’s very strange. But I would go into the gig section of many different cities. And I would just look for people who were looking for SEO help. And I would respond to all these gigs. And I got some decent clients from that. I got my first pool of clients that got me up to like; I don’t know, five or 6000 a month, just from Craigslist alone. And then I went on to Quora. I started answering some questions on Quora, and I got clients from that. And that was early before Quora became bigger, it was early days, and more people weren’t engaging with it. Now, it’s kind of like not a whole lot of engagement there. But those were the two kinds of inbound techniques. And then the last one, the number one by far, is SEO. So I went through, and I ranked for St. Louis SEO. I ranked for Santa Monica SEO. I rank for Beverly Hills SEO and Glendale SEO. I just ranked these specific pages for people looking for SEO services. And then that St. Louis SEO page is the single reason why I was able to take it to the next level. All my best clients came through that. So that was probably the best decision I made to use my skill to get to practice what I preach, and it works very well. And so, even today, I’d say 99% of my leads come through inbound. Now, of course, I have more channels. Now I have YouTube and other things, but it’s all inbound, like 99% is inbound.

Nathan, what process did you create to filter out clients? Because I've talked to other people, and they would say that, like, I'm not going to say his name, but he doesn't care about ranking for SEO because he says that most of the clients that are searching aren't high-value clients that are looking for what he has to offer. And so is there a process you use to filter out, for instance, the $100 a month client? I don't think you would take them on now? Was there a way that you used to filter out your ideal client from people that weren't your target market? Or me, you can't help someone with 100? I don't think you would take somebody on. I would refer them to a membership site where they could get help for 100 bucks a month and figure it out on their own. So yeah, is there a process you created for doing that?

I’ve heard that argument before that those ranking for those types of keywords like St. Louis SEO or St. Louis SEO company doesn’t drive good leads, but it’s just not accurate. I have proof that is not true. Just to clarify, like ranking for just St. Louis SEO, that type of variation will not drive great leads because the intent is usually just another SEO search. But if you modify the intent a little bit to St. Louis SEO company or the best SEO company in St. Louis, knowing the intent becomes much different because now those are real business owners searching for that. So it’s nuanced in that way. Or even just like something as simple as an SEO consultant in the city you’re in, so good for an SEO consultant or something like that, modifying that intent is critical. Like that was something I had to learn, kind of.

Because I used to be obsessed with ranking for St. Louis SEO, it had high volume, but I was like, wait, this doesn’t make sense. So then optimize my site more for St. Louis SEO company or list posts. Now I have a bunch of list posts where it’s Fort Lauderdale SEO companies, right? Because I know that the intent, although the volume is lower, I know the intent will be better for the quality of the traffic. So that’s one part; getting the right traffic in the door is the first thing. And then as far as the qualification, yeah, I mean, the way I qualify now is very different from how I would qualify before. In the beginning, I didn’t care; I was going to take whoever came in. I did not care because my retainers were so low, $500 a month, $1,000 a month. I would just bring in everything I could get, and not saying that’s a good idea. I learned a lot from that. But in those early days, my qualification was like, can you pay me? That was my qualification. So it’s very different now. I only work in certain verticals now. I only work with businesses that are established. I only want to work with businesses already doing well without SEO. That’s like my dream situation. Because they don’t need SEO to save them, they need SEO as fuel in the fire for something already doing well. And the real magic happens. You have a brand; they already have a brand and have a lot of good things going for them. And then you just come in with the SEO, making everything much easier. So yeah, there, I have a lot more stringent criteria now, but at the time, anyone who would come in that I’d take.

Not that I want to reveal your secret sauce. Do you use a survey funnel or anything to filter leads?

I just see this straight application. So if someone wanted to reverse engineer what I do, you just go to Gotch SEO, to my service page, and just a simple survey, or it’s an application. I call it an application. But it’s just asking specific questions. And based on how they answer, I can tell if it will be a good fit. I can see the type of business that they’re running. If they’re running some, let’s say, affiliate business about, at best, power drills, it’s not going to be a good fit. They will not be able to get a return on investment for the retainer that I require. So for me, it’s all about if we were to work together, would I be able to get the return on investment for how much I’m requesting for them to work with me? And I would say I’m on the higher end for most SEO services. But that’s because I have no interest in working with hundreds and hundreds of clients. I don’t want to or need to do that. So I’d rather work with businesses I enjoy talking to and am friendly with instead of just doing it all for the money. I’m past that stage of just doing it all for the money.

You're also well-established and recognized experts. So it's no wonder that you can do that. So it makes total sense. On Twitter, I noticed you talked about principles like The Pareto principle and applying them to your business and SEO. So what are some of the top things I mean, for everybody watching this and don't know what the Pareto principle is if that's even how you say, in the sense of focusing your top 20% of your effort will yield 80% of your results. How do you apply that to your business and SEO for clients and campaigns?

So that’s kind of a two-pronged question. So let’s start with the SEO side of things, which I think is the most applicable here. There’s a lot of stuff you can do in SEO. There are a million different things that you can focus on. And if you’re not careful, you focus on things that aren’t going to drive results. And so that’s why, as I learned, I want to focus on those things that will move the needle. And so, for me, there are only a couple of core things that are going to move the needle. User experience- Delivering the best user experience possible, typically through page loading speed, mobile experience, design, and ensuring that everything is in a good place. And then there’s, of course, more kind of granular user experience, stuff that you can get into. But overall, if your website loads fast, you’ve handled about 80% of the user experience problems, in my opinion. Then we have user experience slash technical- there’s a lot of technical stuff on SEO that you can do, but most of it on its own will not yield great results. It’s more like the culmination of doing these things. So that’s recapturing loss link equity from four of four pages. So if you had a bunch of four pages with backlinks going to them, you’d want three to one, redirect those pages on the site to recapture that last link equity, small things like that. And then the more heavy hitter things, content is big. Content is the number one pillar, in my opinion, because if you don’t get that right, everything else you do will not matter. So I think for me, content is the lead domino for everything. And then On-Page SEO to ensure that content is structured so that Google can crawl it and understand it in the best way possible. And then, of course, the biggest one of all backlinks. So those are the categories that 20%, like, needs to get the most focus on, everything else just kind of finds its way in there. But as long as you have a high level, as far as those pillars, that’s really where you need to be. But the thing I try, like with my team, I tried to get them to think about is, Don’t get obsessed with stuff that does or isn’t going to do anything. So like, for example, like meta descriptions, like, I’m going to spend the next week just like writing meta descriptions. And I’m like, no, we’re not going to do that because, first of all, Google rewrites half of them, and second of all, just doing that alone is not what’s going to be the difference-maker for us. So it’s important to know those things because otherwise, you’re going to invest your time in areas that aren’t moving the needle. When you’re working with clients and you have a strict budget that you’re working with, you don’t have the flexibility to make a lot of mistakes like that. You need to focus on what matters. You need to be able to drive results pretty quickly because the client wants results. Let’s be honest. So you can’t be tinkering around with little stuff. That doesn’t matter. So that’s where that stems from. I just tried to focus on the high-impact actions. And, in a more practical format, we do pay audits when we do our audits. We will take everything we found and put it into just a simple categorization, level one, level two, and level three. Level one action means you must tackle this immediately because it will have a big impact. Level three action is like, if you get around to it, it might be a little bit. Laying some broken links here and there. It’s not going to do a whole lot on its own.

Thanks for sharing that. Are there any SEO actions you talked about that are the most effective but are some overrated? For instance, you mentioned meta description, not focusing on this. Are there any SEO actions you see that are overrated or ineffective?

Overrated? The thing is, getting SEO results is not usually just one thing. I mean, it’s a compound effect of all these things you’re doing kind of at the same time. Sometimes, it’s difficult event isolate what variable caused the performance you’re in. I’m more focused on what is known to drive the results, and they’ll just ignore everything else. Oh, yeah, I can think of one that people focus on a lot: schema markup and microdata. Some people obsess about that, like it will cause these huge performance gains. You can optimize schema and microdata all day, but if you don’t have any authority, you will not rank. That on its own is not going to drive rankings. It can be useful as far as driving organic CTR once your ranking. But if you don’t ever get to the first page, what’s the point? And it’s not to say that it’s not important. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. As far as something that maybe some people obsess a little bit too much about. I would say that’s in that category.

Okay, fair enough. Yeah, that's interesting. So like, on this scale of level one and level three, if you don't have authority backlinks coming to you and the authority, focusing on schema and microdata is probably not something to focus on?

It’s the classic thing of majoring in the minors. I try to avoid that at all costs. There’s even some other stuff like on the local level. People focus on these like little micro things on the local level. Like making sure that the images have the keyword, they’re trying to rank or in the file name. They’re trying to keyword stuff. And like all this stuff that doesn’t make a difference. The things that make a difference, at least on a local level, are reviews. You need to have a lot of reviews, and then your actual location, your physical location that you’re in, is what’s going to drive the results. So you can do all these little fancy tactics. But if you’re not in a location you’re trying to rank in; you’re already fighting an uphill battle.

In other words, if you don't have a physical location in the location that you're trying to rank in, for instance, St. Louis plumber. If you're not in St. Louis, you're maybe in Chester, an area outside - A little town outside our city. That's outside of that little area. Good luck ranking.

Because I mean, that’s the first step. You need to have an address and location. Suppose you don’t have that; you’re already starting to dig yourself out of a ditch. So it’s not going to matter what you do ultimately.

So you said one of those cities was Chesterfield? Is that what I heard? So if someone was in that city, what would you recommend they do, like, for instance, satellite-like virtual office addresses? Is that something to consider? Or is that I need to get a physical address?

I’d first focus on their location. So okay, if their physical addresses are in Chesterfield, but they’re trying to get clients from St. Louis. I would say, first, let’s just dominate Chesterfield before we start talking about St. Louis and other surrounding cities around it that maybe we could capture because it’s not super competitive. But as you start venturing into the metropolitan areas, it gets more competitive, and you can’t play that game. So you need to have an address. How do you go about getting an address? There’s a lot of debate about that. But the general rule is you need to have a physical address in that specific city you’re trying to rank in. So like I said, that’s just to get into the arena; that’s the bare minimum.

What are the best long-term strategies for effective SEO?

Long term? So everything starts with the short term and then goes into the long term. So short-term would ensure the site is built well for users. If you do that well, that’s pretty much a one-and-done activity. You should still audit every three months to ensure things are still clean. And because sometimes websites, over time, just start to collect some nonsense. So that kind of the first thing is the foundation. In but long term, it becomes a game of optimizing existing pages, creating new content, and acquiring more backlinks. So you have to do that consistently over time. And I wish I could say there’s an end to that. But it’s just, that’s the way, that’s what we do with our clients. I will optimize existing pages that they already have early on, but once those are optimized, then what we’re left with is just we need to accelerate our content publishing, targeting new keywords to bring in new organic traffic, and then make sure we’re supporting those new pages with links. So that’s just a consistent month-to-month thing that has to happen.

So, is there a formula or a process you use for determining how much content a client should create on an ongoing basis?

Well, from a client SEO perspective, it will be based on the budget. So if we’re creating it for them, or guiding them, then it’d be based on the size of the retainer. I was going to say if money were no object, then it would be as aggressive as you can be as fast as possible to accelerate that content publishing. So yeah,

So let me put it another way: do you look at the content where the competitors are at and then determine, Okay, this is where they are. And this is their link velocity. And what I mean by link velocity, sorry, it's how many links they're building that I can tell how many they have. And you look at how much content they're publishing and going, Okay, if you want to close the gap, so to speak, this is what you got to do. Is that realistic? Again, I'm just thinking of this on the top of my head.

Right, no, no, that’s actually what we do though at the beginning of the campaign. So we measure the gaps between the client and the competitors. So look, and actually, you mentioned the exact two gaps we’re looking at. So one is what we call the keyword gap. So looking at like, what are they ranking for, that we’re not ranking for? So you can easily find that data through Ahrefs or SEMrush. And then the other one is just the link gap. And we’re looking at two different things on the link gap, which is we’re looking at the domain level. So, how many links do they have on their entire domain relative to us? We need to see if that gap is huge. We know we’re going to need a lot of links to make up this gap. And then the other one is actually on the page level. So once we’ve done all the keyword research, we’ve identified the keywords that we can compete on given their current authority, then we look at the backlink app on each page. So from wanting to rank for and how to get backlinks. And let’s say the competitors have 75 referring domains to their pages; we know we need to get 75 referring domains. But of course, it’s not that simple. Because you also have to consider the overall website authority. So, you know, you could if you had a website authority of, let’s say, zero; getting 75 referring domains may not necessarily get you to the finish line because your site just isn’t strong enough overall. We’ve just found that, like building website authority, you can’t do that as an isolated activity because it will always stem from building the authority of individual pages. So you’re always driving links to individual pages, sending the link equity around the site, which then grows a site authority. So it’s we are measuring those link ads is very, very important to establish those benchmarks early on.

I appreciate you sharing that. Some say you can guarantee SEO results, and others say you can't because you are not in control of Google. When you take on a client, do you think it is wise to have a disclaimer saying - Hey, we can't guarantee or hey, we are going to get this? What is your approach to that?

I don’t guarantee results because it doesn’t make sense legally. It’s like an investment advisor guaranteeing returns on the market.

That is a smart way to put it.

They can’t do that even if they have a formula that has been proven to work for many years and decades. You just can’t do it. The SEO industry isn’t as regulated as the Financial Services Industry, but maybe it should be. I don’t guarantee it, but I believe you can rank for almost anything with any budget. As long as you have the right budget, you can do it depending on what we are discussing here. If we are talking about payday loans, you will need a big budget. 100k per month or more to even make a dent. As I said, you can rank for anything as long as you have an unlimited reserve of cash to do it. More often than not, I won’t take on a client if it that is going to be insane. Unfortunately, some businesses have unrealistic expectations.

Someone starts a new business in the SEO tool market, and they want to rank for best SEO tools, and I am like, you are not going to rank for that unless you spend a lot of money and dedicate fifteen years to build your business. Realistically and mathematically, it’s not going to make sense because they will be in the red for so long, so just to be able to make up that gap, and even then, I am just using the SEO Industry as an example. Hrefs and SEM rush. It’s not like they will stop marketing just because you are doing SEO. Their brand equity continues to grow. And it becomes more challenging, and their mouth gets bigger and bigger from a marketing perspective that it is so difficult. So for me, I don’t want to take another client where I don’t have a high probability of success.

With that being said, even if it's been around for some time now and link building in general. You mentioned SEM Rush and H-Refs. Does it then become like no way to go into that market, like those markets are too guarded or impenetrable? Think of another business idea.

I think there are certain markets you would have a death wish to try and go into. I do think that. The thing is, the SERPs are always fluctuating. So maybe an SEO toll goes out of business. So now that opens up. There are other ways that competition can change, not just outside of SEO, but Moz, at one point, was the dominant force as far as tools. They were ahead of everyone, and now it’s gone down a few notches. And I am not trying to say anything negative about them, but two other big competitors have come in and taken over. Now it’s Hrefs or SEM rush. Moz is still here, but I think they got acquired by some other company. Things change in a business environment a lot, which can also change the SEO environment. There are certain verticals like having a big bankroll if you want to get in there. It’s not just the bankroll but the time. You need the time too. It doesn’t matter if you are investing millions of dollars; you need the time also. You need both, and there are not many companies that have that. Some don’t have much of that; they are just going through based on their funding. The answer is yes; some would be dangerous to get into. As I said, you can do it, but it will take a lot of time.

Would you say that PPC would be a way if clients come to you? Would that be a recommendation? Even if you need a budget.

And also competitive vertical and SEO, and maybe Competitive Vertical and paid too. It’s the nature of answering Competitive Verticals in general. So yes, it will always be based on the budget you have at the end of the day. I will say this; there are ways to break into Verticals, let’s say, through the back door. The worst thing you can do and we are going to stick to the SEO example. You create a new SEO tool; it’s revolutionary. You can go the hard way and be like-; when you direct the best SEO tour, that would be a very difficult path, or you could take one row of features you have and dominate that instead. So, if you have a keyword research tool within your tools, it might be easier to go after a keyword research tour. Maybe a competitor analysis tool or something that is a more sub-set within that vertical, you might be able to make a dent. For example, Surfer, the on-page SEO tool, has done that very well. They focus on on-page SEO. They did not try to compete with SEM Rush and Hrefs as a comprehensive tool. And they are doing very well. It can be done, but you have to niche down when it’s a super competitive vertical.

What do you think about Surfer? Is there a tool you recommend?

I am a very big advocate. Disclaimer: I am affiliated with them; we use their tool daily. We integrate it within our process as far as our content. I love it; everyone has their opinion about the different SEO tools. There are about five or six that are doing very well. Maybe I am just set in my ways. I like their interface. I like the way it is. I think it does the job well.

It's a great tool. There are others. What is a commonly held belief about link building that you passionately disagree with?

About link building? There are a lot of beliefs about link building out there. There are some common ones that most people would agree with, like more is not better. Sometimes we get this idea that we need to get as many links as possible, and quality doesn’t matter sometimes, and that is a dangerous path to go down. But also, there is the reverse, where people take it overboard and only try to get the best links possible, which is also a mistake. For example, some clients will say, “we want to get links on Forbes and help in stores”. And I am like, ok, yes. We can get you those links, but you will have to pay three or four grand to get that link when we could have gotten you a hundred referring domains for the same price. I would take a hundred referring domains any day of the week over one link from Forbes. You have to know the difference is there on that front. Then there are all kinds of stuff about old links building practices that people still use web 2.0 links, and there are people still using web profile links. That stuff can work short-term, but for the most part, it is very ineffective these days and dangerous. You cannot believe the number of penalties that I have removed for web-2.0 links specifically. Google said to us, like, you are being penalized because of these links. And they showed all the web-2.0 links and confirmed that that is an action trigger. We have had a lot of links removed just by removing those links from the profile.

That's amazing that people are saying that. I know one prominent SEO who talks about using our SS feeds to syndicate your content on web-2.0 sites. So you're telling me your brand and using it on the web-2.0 sites, quote-unquote, because it looks natural, but you are saying the opposite; where is it a manual penalty?

There is nothing wrong with syndicating content across your owned assets. Suppose you own the assets under your brand; that is fine. That is not going to cause any problems. What is more concerning is when you go to WIX and create losangelesplumber.wix.com. that type of stuff. Keyword-rich, clearly an attempt to manipulate Google. I won’t name names, but some SEO link-building providers provide these web-2.0 links. And they are so easy to identify at this point like. If I can identify them, then Google can too. What do they look like? They look like the bestseotool.com. Then the actual page will be some auto-generated article about the best SEO tools, and they will jam a link to the client. A link to Wikipedia and a link to whatever. It’s always the same format because it is pretty much all systemized. Those are very easy for Google to identify.

So what you are saying is if you use exact match keywords in that web2.0 site and it's obvious what you are trying to do. If you use your brand, Acme Supplements, just made that up. They had Acme Supplements on WordPress.com, and you were Syndicating your content to that site or Joe Smith, who was the founder of Acme Supplements, and you were syndicating your content. That is a way to utilize those two properties instead of going for the keyword in the web-2.0 property and trying to quote-unquote in the search engines. Is that correct?

Yes, I think the syndication will not cause any problem. Usually, when you are looking at the web-2.0 that I am describing. The keyword-rich sub-domain. And on top of that, you also have keyword-rich anchor text. So you can use that combo. It’s a page that doesn’t have any editorial basis. It’s just created by someone trying to manipulate Google and doesn’t have any traffic either. The reason why and maybe I am slightly guilty of this because I pushed this in the early days when I was doing grey hat SEO. I was the guy who was pushing web-2.0 a lot. But at that time, they were so effective because you were piggybacking off that root domain. So we were piggybacking off of WIX, and it did work. But now I think Google knows. Sub-domain, no authority, no trust. And even if you do it on your website, gotch@seo.com and I want to create abc.gotch@seo.com. That new sub-domain is going to have no authority. Google doesn’t transfer that authority from the root domain to the subdomain. That is why we always recommend clients go into a folder instead of a sub-domain when trying to build out new sections on their site because they can’t transfer the authority.

My next question, I think you may have answered already, but I will ask it anyway. What should people do instead of trying to acquire web0-2.0 links?

Get links on real websites. That’s what we do. We try to get editorial links from real websites that have solid authority. They have some organic traffic coming in . Try to avoid a site with no traffic because it just doesn’t look very good. Not to say those links have no effect. But just in general, it is a quality standard, and they may have a little bit of organic traffic coming in. Make sure they have at least a decent editorial standard. I don’t want to see my link next to a casino link. If I see that, then that’s very bad. You don’t want your link to be living in a bad neighborhood. That is against a quality standard. Look for sites that have some editorial standards, and they are real. That is the basis.

Thanks very much for sharing that. It was some great advice. What do you think is the future of SEO?

Oh wow. The future of SEO?

Or I can give you a, for instance, if you would like. For instance, what part do you think Artificial Intelligence will play in SEO?

It’s already playing a part in some ways, and then as far as content creation is, it is playing a part right now. We have been doing a lot of testing with AI-generated content, which outranks manually written content all the time. It is hard because you only pay about $50 to $100 bucks per month for a tool to create this content for you compared to paying $250 for a 1500 words article. You have to do the math. And when you look at the math, you are like, “Wow. This looks a lot more attractive to use this tool to generate 10 to 15 articles per month for $100.Now, keep in mind when we are doing it, we are following the same editorial and optimization process that we would follow with a manually written article. We are not just going into a tool like, I’ll say Jasper because that is what we have been using a lot for testing. Go to Jasper and hit the button, and let that thing generate. We don’t do that. The effectiveness of these tools is completely based on what you feed them. So you need to feed it the right inputs to get very good output. If you don’t do that, you will get some piece of junk. The junk that people say is the reason why people say you shouldn’t use AI-generated content. And that is why you hear many people say, “That’s the worst thing you could do in the world”. The funny part is I have done a lot of tests, and I have asked the people in my academy if they can tell me which one of these is AI-generated. You cannot tell the difference, and technically right now, human intelligence is still higher than Google’s algorithm. If the human cannot tell the difference, then Google’s algorithm cannot tell the difference. That’s one thing that is going to make a difference. It’s here; it’s not coming. It’s like anyone can drive a car, but not everyone will be a NASCAR driver. It’s the way you use the tool that delivers the results.

I don't know why I can't remember his name but forgive me, all you SEOs out there. The SEO guy for Google was saying that it is regarded as spam and is against Google's terms of service, And I am thinking, how the heck are you going to figure it out. I have used these tools. Full disclosure: I have used Jasper as well. I am using it on a site I am working on now. Without Jasper, I would never have the content on this site. It is amazing. I am not trying to puff myself up because I didn't make it. But I did figure out what you said, put in the right input to get the right output. In a million years, I could have written content this good, nor could I afford to hire a copywriter. There was an article written about Jasper on a very good editorial website. If I heard the name, I would recognize it. He wrote the beginning of the article using Jasper, and he took it to his Editor, and she was like, This is a better copy than some of the writers have brought to me. This is amazing. And then, he wrote the rest of the content manually.
I have heard people say that it is BS. That you shouldn't use it, and Google will be able to figure it out, and I think those SEOs are doing themselves a big disservice. Would you agree they are doing a big disservice by disqualifying tools like Jasper? Because you said, it's here. Do you think AI will open the door for more content to be created? Is there going to be an influx of content created, and therefore there will be more links created and more competitive? You spoke about the Moz before with SEM rush; it will build the mouth even bigger if they decide to use those tools. Here is another thought, can it be used to catch up even faster, narrow that gap even quicker?

We could dedicate a whole episode to this. There are many nuances to the discussion on why people like it and don’t like it. An obvious group of people does not want AI content to succeed. And those are writers. They will lose their jobs. I think I posted this on Twitter before. If you are a bad writer, these tools will replace you. If you are an exceptional writer, these tools are not there yet. They cannot replace an exceptional writer yet.

Would you say if you are a good writer, you can use these tools to fast-track your writing. I showed Jasper to a friend of mine, who is a very established copywriter. I will not say his name. He wrote the copy sold at a famous copywriter's house and other things. He saw it on a project we were working on, and he was like, this is amazing. And his words; "How the hell is it doing this"? We created headlines. We put hours into thinking, and Jasper just popped this amazing headline out. We were like, "Holy smoke, this is incredible."

I would say right now that one of the things it can’t do is replace direct response copywriting. A really good Direct Response copywriter they are going to have jobs for a long time. Because they add such nuance to their writing, you just can’t replicate that. The way they write is so unique that an algorithm at this point could not replicate it. Maybe in the future, with the AI, they could input Frank Kerns’s writing into the AI. And that is what I am hoping for in the future. Because then you could have it sounding just like Frank Hearns.

This is amazing. We should have you back on to talk about this.

This stuff is fascinated.

Can you imagine if they created a formula Like Jasper has a formula or whatever they call them, Templates. Can you imagine if they created a template based on Dan Kennedy's book The Ultimate Sales Letter? The ultimate self-writing formula? And you put in the input, and it writes the copy. They took Frank Kearns and Dan and Joe Polish and all these copywriters. Russell Bronson, Ted Nicholas. The one thing I have found in studying all these guys, the common thread and what they all lead back to, you said his name already, Dan Kennedy. It is amazing how many, Perry Marshall, have learned from Dan Kennedy. It's amazing.

You have not heard from David Appleby.

Yeah. David, my goodness. There is one guy I can't remember his name. He passed away, but he wrote a book called Scientific Breakthrough In Advertising.

I have that book on my shelf.

I want to buy that book.

Claude Hopkins.

Yes. Claude Hopkins. I would love to have you back on the show. Is there anything that I have not asked you that I should have asked?

You asked a lot of good questions. I think we can dive into any of these topics, maybe more in the future. The question about AI is a very good one. Some stuff on the horizon is going to be game-changing. As you said, it would be a big disservice not to pay attention to it or at least explore it. Just spend the weekend exploring it. It’s like how I feel about web-free. With everything that is happening over there. If you do not spend like a week just living in that rabbit hole, you are doing yourself a disservice because there is so much happening there. It’s the same thing with the AI stuff. None of these things are where they should be, of course not. They are still relatively new. But you don’t want to be behind the curve on these things because you will get left behind. That is for sure.

If people want to learn more about you, where can they go?

gotch@seo.com. You can, of course Google me, Nathan Gotch. I am on Twitter and LinkedIn. I have a Youtube channel, I think I have about fifty thousand subscribers or getting close to there. I have a lot of free videos there where you can learn SEO and a lot of free stuff.

Thanks so much for coming on the show. I would love to have you back. There are other things we can explore and thanks again. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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