As much as we advocate the Customer First Approach, once you have a solid product and paying customers, you want to get more of them by increasing your website traffic.
But getting just any sort of traffic won't cut it.
If I send a thousands of middle-aged men to your local lingerie store, some might buy something, but most of them would leave empty-handed. It's the same online.
No, you want quality traffic. People who are actually interested in your services and want to hear more about you, purchase from you, tell your friends about you.
How can you find these people without spending a fortune on ads or a skilled marketing team?
If you're new to SEO, read this article before listening to the podcast!
Shane Melaugh: Hello, and welcome episode 39 of the Active Growth Podcast. This is part two of our traffic series. In this series we're looking at the best ways for you to get free traffic to your website. Once you're at that stage where you have your business sorted out, you know what your business idea is, you know what your product is, you've validated your market, you've got something to sell, now is the time to start driving visitors to your website and start turning those visitors into leads and customers.
Shane Melaugh: In this series we're focusing on quote unquote free traffic, which isn't to say that generating this traffic will cost absolutely nothing but it's traffic that you can generate by investing your time rather than having to pay for ads and things and it's traffic that doesn't scale in cost with how much traffic you get.
Shane Melaugh: One such example is what we're exploring today with one of the leading SEO experts in the space, Tim Soulo of Ahrefs. In today's discussion we're specifically talking about how to use SEO, Search Engine Optimization, to gain traffic for the type of low budget bootstrap business that we have been talking about on the Active Growth Podcast. This is not the kind of SEO where you have to a whole of team of people that you have to pay. It's not like the high end enterprise level SEO. This is the kind of stuff that you can do by yourself as a solopreneur with limited to no budget.
Shane Melaugh: As you'll see this is quite different from what you probably associate with the idea of SEO. We're looking at a much more proactive and much more personal approach to SEO. There's a certain human factor in getting organic traffic that is usually overlooked and Tim really goes into detail on how to make use of that.
Shane Melaugh: You'll also discover how to get what Tim calls second hand search traffic which is especially important for new website. And of course we're also into specifics so you will learn specific strategies that you can start using right now to get more traffic to your website.
Shane Melaugh: Now, a quick warning about this. This episode requires some basic understanding of SEO. If you know nothing yet about SEO then this will be quite difficult to follow. Check out the show notes if that's the case. We will link to some beginner resources, some stuff that you can basically read through first and then you'll be prepared to understand what we're talking about here. It's not a super-advanced thing but you just have to know the basics of search engine optimization in terms of back links and so on, what those are about.
Shane Melaugh: You can find the show notes for this episode, links to resources we mention and a short video tutorial that explains one off the strategies discussed in more detail by going to ActiveGrowth.com/39. That is ActiveGrowth.com/39. With that, let's get started.
Shane Melaugh: Hello Tim and welcome to the podcast.
Tim Soulo: Hello, pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting.
Shane Melaugh: To get started let's set the scenario here, is that if someone's followed the advice on this podcast up until this point it means that our typical listener, first of all, is like a solopreneur. They're someone who is working by themselves or maybe with a very small team. They would typically have a small budget. At this point following what we've talked about on the Active Growth podcast they would have a product. They have a product that they know there's a need for that solves the problem. They've got that ready so that's the basis of their business and now they need traffic. They need traffic and exposure.
Shane Melaugh: My first question to you is, is SEO, is getting organic traffic through SEO, is this a viable strategy for this kind of person?
Tim Soulo: I think it's probably the best way to sell your product. It's not just a viable strategy but for people who are bootstrapping their business or starting out I think this is the best thing they could do. I've been on both sides. I've tried to bootstrap my own small projects while having almost zero budget for that where I was doing everything myself. And I am now also working with a team of people who help with content, promotion and all this stuff. In both scenarios I was using SEO and it worked perfectly for me.
Tim Soulo: Just the other day I was reading an article from two people from Silicone Valley who are bootstrapping their, I think it was video meme production software. They tried a bunch of stuff like all those different strategies, I don't know, guerrilla marketing and all that stuff and they ended up thinking that SEO is the best use of their time.
Shane Melaugh: That's interesting to hear because I think there's a perception that SEO has over the years become basically more and more difficult and more and more prohibitive to small business, right? I think there's this perception that any good search term is just going to be dominated by large companies with deep pockets and the little guy can't really do much unless you have your whole content marketing team and so on. What's your take on that? It seems like your opinion is very different from that so I'm curious to hear more about that.
Tim Soulo: I would say that it's not about SEO being competitive it's the industry that you're entering as being competitive. If you're launching a project in an industry where there are a lot of people who are already dominating the market then yes, SEO will be competitive and so is advertising and so is customer acquisition. Anything will be competitive. If you're launching a product that is something new, if you're entering a fresh market or if you're creating a market yourself which was the case for me with one of my products, then no, this won't be too competitive and you'll be able to get results rather quickly and without investing too much effort, without struggling a lot.
Tim Soulo: One example is I had a plugin for Word Press for creating the so called content upgrades. Content upgrades is basically, I think a lot of people know about it already but it's basically where you create some bonus material to embed in your article and if people want to get it they will have to leave their e-mail, so they will get it by e-mail so this is a good way to collect e-mails. Then I created a plugin for this and I think three years ago or something when almost no one knew that it existed.
Tim Soulo: So basically no one was searching in Google for content upgrades and all that stuff so basically first I bought a domain. I think it was ContentUpgradesProd.com or something like this, so it was exact match domain, which was easy to get because no one knew about this strategy. Then I was doing some guest blogging to educate people in blogging, in marketing industry that this thing exists, that there is such a thing like content upgrades. People started searching for it, content upgrades plugin, content upgrades, how to create content upgrades. I was one of the few people in the entire world who had a website about this and who was creating content around this. It was super easy for me to get the traffic.
Tim Soulo: Another examples is I also had the Word Press program for creating tweetable quotes. I think many people are familiar with click to tweet service where you create a message, like canned message, and you want people to tweet that messages just by clicking a link. So it's ClicktoTweet.com, I believe the website. I created a WordPress plugin and this more tough because there was already competition for click to tweet quotes, click to tweet plugins. There were quite a few of them so it was harder for me to get traffic. I had to be a little more created about what kind of content I had to create on my site to get relevant search traffic and convert it into customers. Yeah, like I said, how hard SEO would be for you depends on the market you're entering and on your product, how unique it is and how many similar products are already on the market today.
Shane Melaugh: Those are interesting examples. I'm wondering now, is the key to making this kind of thing work is kind of spot a trend early? I'm guessing that what happens is that you do the content upgrades thing and it relies on content upgrades then becoming popular. It's the kind of thing you can ride a rising trend, right?
Tim Soulo: Well, in my case I felt that I was creating the trend because I didn't see many people promoting it and I didn'tsee many people referring to it as content upgrades. There are many names like, LitMagnet, e-mailed and formed like embeddable or something like this. Of course riding the wave and spotting the trends early helps a lot but in many cases if you're entering a competitive market it also helps to find the kind of unique angles or topics that don't have a lot of competition but still they are closely related to what you do so you'll be able to get rankings without much work and these rankings will actually convert to people.
Tim Soulo: Another great example that I like to show people is I think everybody knows about Hubspot. They have a super popular blog. I think it gets a few million visitors per month and their top performing article, the articles that brings them the most traffic from search is how to make a .gif image. Yeah, so this is a super popular topic. There is a ton of search demand around how to make .gif and there are a lot of search queries that people put into google, how to make a .gif, how to make a .gif image, .gif image maker, how to make .gif tutorial, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah. So a lot of people are searching for it. So they wrote an article about this and they rank at the top and they get all the search traffic to themselves. Then Hubspot is marketing software. And what's the road of the person who is looking how to make a .gif image to purchasing marketing software?
Shane Melaugh: It's a bit of disconnect there, yeah?
Tim Soulo: Yeah, yeah. So you have to have a really, really great sales team to be able to convert that lead into a customer.
Tim Soulo: What I am saying is that you need to find the kind of topics that would have decent search demand so you know a lot of people are searching for it. At the same time this topic should have what I call business potential. Is your product an irreplaceable solution for what you're going to do? If HubSpot were selling some kind of super easy .gif maker for, I don't know, five bucks, I think they would make a ton off sales because it would be almost irreplaceable solution for making a .gif image.
Tim Soulo: So, yeah, it's all about figuring out if there's a search demand for a certain piece of content, if you can plug your product or service or whatever you do there and if there's a lack of competition in the search also of this topic so you'll be able to rank fairly easy.
Shane Melaugh: Okay, so let's try to generalize this a little bit or let's try to expand on this scenario that I was talking about. We have someone who has a product. They have already done some customer research so they know that there's a demand for this. I think the typical case is probably that it's not like a product that is totally new and unheard of with no competition but it's more like it's a thing that already exists but it's a new angle on that thing. It's basically a product with a strong unique selling point where you can have a clear example of, here's why you should use my product or my service. It's not that no competition exists but here's what we do differently that makes our thing better.
Shane Melaugh: If that's the scenario where would you start? What's the first thing you would do if you said, "Okay, let's get some organic traffic here."
Tim Soulo: Well, one of the first things I would do is create a kind of SEO landing pages for every unique feature, for every unique case that you have. Like you said, if the piece of software, if a product that people are selling is somehow unique I would totally create a specific page for that unique use case or for that unique feature and explain what it does because the chances are some people in the world are searching for this specific use case. There might be not so many people that do this but it might be enough for you to get some customers and to pay your bills. This is the first thing I would do.
Tim Soulo: Of course the more obvious way to find things that you could rank for is to analyze your competition. What are the website, what the competitors that have similar products or services are doing, how they're getting traffic? Ahrefs is super handy here because it can pretty much plug any website of your competitors and see which pages bring them the most traffic from search and which keywords these pages rank for. This is pretty obvious but of course if you do this you will often kind of piggyback from competition and they're already ranking there and they already have some back links so it might be not so easy for you to rank there.
Tim Soulo: Another way is to simply dig into your industry. Have a lot of conversation with your customers. Hang out where they hang out. Read the stuff read and figure out what bothers them and see if there's an opportunity for you. When I was at the airport waiting for my flight I saw a magazine in the bookstore. It was named something like, "How to Launch Online Business in 2016" and I thought that our target audience at Ahrefs is probably reading stuff like this. They want to launch online business. They want to understand how it all works, how to configure it. So I immediately bought this magazine to see if I will be able to dig any great topics that we could target at Ahrefs blog.
Tim Soulo: In that magazine I saw a topic about how to submit your website to search engines. I would never think of this topic myself because I know SEO fairly well and I know that you don't really have to submit your website to search engines. Search engines will find it on their own. But by reading this magazine I figured that this topic might be interesting to people so I opened our research tool in Ahrefs and I entered these search criteria like How To Submit Your Website to Search Engines. I looked at the top ranking pages because it's not only about the search of the specific search criteria that you're entering but it's about the global search demand.
Tim Soulo: How many other ways to put this same search query into Google? How to submit your website to search engines, how do search engines index your website. There are a ton of ways to ask for it. Google will rank almost the same pages for all these search queries. When I looked at the top ranking pages I saw that are getting a lot of search traffic. So immediately we created an article about this for Ahrefs blog and now if you Google for how to submit your website to search engines I think we rank somewhere in top five with Ahrefs.
Tim Soulo: Like I said before, you don't only want to create content for the topics that people are searching about to get some search traffic but you also want to sell your product. In our case if people are looking to submit their website to search engines their end goal is to rank in search engines and get traffic. This is where Ahrefs is almost an irreplaceable tool so within this article we pitch Ahrefs. This is a good illustration of how you find topics that don't have a lot of competition. They have a lot of search traffic and you're able to pitch your service, your tool or whatever you have there, your product.
Tim Soulo: I don't think I have any specific tips on how to find those topics because they can really come from anywhere. You just to have to know your niche well. You have to read the books, read the magazine. You have to hang out on relevant [inaudible 00:16:48]. You need to go to niche conferences and of course when you have those ideas of uncommon things that might bring you customers you need to research them in your keyword research tool of choice. Another cool takeaway is don't just look at the search volume of a single search query that you're entering. Look at the top ranking pages and see how much traffic these top ranking pages get in total, because a page rarely ranks for one keyword alone. It will rank for a lot of, a lot of relevant search queries.
Shane Melaugh: There's a couple of interesting things there that stand out to me. One of them is, I should mention this for our listeners. We didn't talk about this advance. This is not a conspiracy of mine to get my guests to confirm the things that we've already said but it's quite interesting to hear you talk about how you need to know your market. You need to get involved, to talk to people and so on and so forth. This is exactly what we talked about in great detail already because it's the exact same thing. Our emphasis is on creating products and we say the exact same thing. If you want to know what product to create and if you want to make a good product you have to really know your market. You have to have one on one conversations with people. You have to read the books and so on and so forth.
Shane Melaugh: It's really interesting to hear you say the same thing. It's like, okay, the same is true for SEO. You have to know what's going on in order to have an idea of what keywords to target and so on. I think that's great because anyone who's followed the Active Growth Strategy to this point has basically already done that homework and you can go back through your notes and mine all that same stuff. All your interviews, all your notes and so on, you can mine that for potential SEO keywords or questions to answer and so on as well.
Tim Soulo: Yeah, but then you need at all times to check the search demand. You might read books, you might read reviews of the books on Amazon, all these tips of getting in the heads of your customers and understanding what bothers them, what are their problems, what kind of things they might be putting into Google. Then you have to plug those keywords, those search queries in a keyword research tool and see if there's any decent search demand that might send you enough traffic for you to convert into paying customers.
Tim Soulo: Like I said, a very important thing to note is that you shouldn't rely on the search volume of a single query that you're testing. One search query doesn't mean anything. What you need to do is you need to take the top ranking page for your search query and put it into like Ahrefs that reverse engineers all the keywords that a page will rank for and will reverse engineer the estimated search traffic that this page is getting.
Tim Soulo: You'll see cases where a pretty popular topic might not be sending a lot of traffic to a top ranking page because there's no other ways to put it. A good example is Squeeze page. So how do Google for something like Squeeze Page, there's not too many relevant search queries. Squeeze Page, what is squeeze page. I can't even think of any more. This is why if you test the search volume of keyword squeeze page it might seem high but the total search demand of all relevant search queries to squeeze page will not be so big so you won't get too much traffic if you rank for this topic.
Tim Soulo: Take another topic like the one I just explained, how to add your website to Google. There are tons of ways to ask this question to Google. There are tons of search queries that people enter into Google and the same page will rank there. So each individual search query, how to submit your website into Google, how to add your website to search engines, it might not have a lot of search volume so the topic might seem not super popular but when you add the search volume of all those relevant search queries where the same page will rank you'll see that the page will get a lot of traffic in total.
Tim Soulo: People should take an extra step other than looking at the search volume of individual keyword. They should take the top ranking page and put it into Ahrefs. Within our keyword research tool we do it automatically so we pull the top ten ranking pages for any search query that you enter and we show the estimated total traffic to each page which helps a lot. These days I don't really trust the search volume of individual keywords. I always scroll to the top ranking pages and see how much traffic those top ranking pages get.
Shane Melaugh: Right. I also want to mention quickly, for some off these more technical things it might be a bit different to follow on a podcast, especially if you're maybe out jogging or something. Are you going to remember this by the time you get back? Just for anything like this what we will also do is we'll create a quick video tutorial for this process that you just described, Tim, and we'll add that to the show notes. We might make a separate post or something but basically you can go to the show notes of this episode to get a visual instruction of how to do everything that Tim just described in Ahrefs as well.
Tim Soulo: That's cool.
Shane Melaugh: Let's say we've done that. We've done this keyword research. We've found some opportunities. Like you said in the previous step we're creating these individual SEO landing pages. We're creating a landing page for every individual feature or aspect of our offer. We're creating some landing pages to answer these questions that we might have found as opportunities. Okay, what next? Probably I'm going to publish these landing pages. I'm not going to rank right away. I've got to do some more work before I get all that nice organic traffic.
Tim Soulo: Ahrefs.com, our home page, doesn't really rank for anything but our branded terms but we have landing pages for features like site audience, back link checker, keyword difficulty, broken link checker. These are the things that we do and for each of these things we are creating separate landing pages. People can go to our website and I am sure they will find them quite easily because they are linked from our main menu. This is what I'm offering other people to do. Try to create separate landing pages for different use cases and different features that your tool does.
Tim Soulo: The next thing we have is help section. Help section, you can visit it by going to help.Ahrefs.com. It is done by Intercom so we're using Intercom. This is a nice piece of software. They love you to create a help section. You just need to write content and all the kind of technical side is taken of. Help section is also a very great way to get some long trail traffic because in this help section we explain a lot of things that immediately relate to our tool and not like super relevant to our tool, so immediately relate it. How does Ahrefs calculate back links, or something like this. We have this answer in our help section. If a person will search for this Google they will find us. This is pretty cool because quite often people might be searching in Google for things relevant to your business. They won't use your help section, they will not find it, but they will use Google for that. And if you don't rank there you're wasting opportunity.
Tim Soulo: There are some things that are not immediately related. People might search for things like What is domain authority? How to calculate domain authority? You could answer all these things in your help section with short and sweet articles. You can create a lot of them so in total you can get a lot of long term traffic.
Tim Soulo: Those are two things that can do. First, landing pages and second help section which you can fill. Every week you can add one or two articles to your help section. Again, you can put our help section into our tool and you can see how the search traffic our help section is growing. So it does work. I'm not making stuff up. This does work. This does attract traffic to your website.
Tim Soulo: The third thing is obviously blog. We have three different ways to get search traffic. Blog is self explanatory so I won't go too deep into it. The first is feature pages, the second is help section and the third is blog.
Tim Soulo: Another hack is if your website is fairly new and you don't have a lot of back links pointing at your website which is one of the kind of indispensable things that you need to have in order to rank well. You could actually get the so-called second hand search traffic. Second hand search traffic is if you have a great topic where your product fits amazingly, where you know if you rank for this topic you would sell a lot of copies of your product. What you can do is not publish an article or research on the topic on your own website. You can submit it as guest article or guest research to some high authority website. Your article, your guest article on the high authority website has much much better chances of ranking high in Google than on your own newly created website. This website with your article will rank high in Google. They will get all the search traffic but because the article actually mention your solution, your product, you will get customers out of this.
Tim Soulo: We call this second hand search traffic and it is a great thing. Doing that you're kind of doing a lot of stuff right. You're getting second hand search traffic which you wouldn't otherwise get with your own website. You're getting a back link to your website. If your website is fairly new it would appreciate any back link that you can get from it. You're building relationships with a person who is in charge of this high authority website because everyone wants great content and if you create an awesome piece of content, amazing piece of content and suggest it for free to someone else who already has high authority website this is a great way to start relationships. From there you can build your relationships to something more. They can become your affiliate or you can cross promote each other or whatever. By doing this you're making a lot of things right.
Shane Melaugh: Right now with this example of second hand traffic, that's the first off site thing that we're talking about, right? This is where you start getting back links which also help your other content rank if you do that a couple times. Is that the thing that you would do first in terms of getting back links or whatever, off site optimization you might do?
Tim Soulo: Yes, guest posting is probably the best thing I can suggest to people who are just starting out. If you just created a website with your product, if you created those feature landing pages, if you have a few articles on your blog, if you have a help section but it's not generating traffic and you need to pay your bills, you need to pay to developers who are creating your product for publishing updates you need to build back links so that your own search traffic will grow. You need to get sales somewhere. If you publish guest articles you're not only getting second hand search traffic which is passive and consistent so you will be getting this passive search traffic every single month.
Tim Soulo: Some people will come to your website from a relevant article every single month and some of them will buy your product but you're also tapping into the audience of that person. If you will be able to publish a guest article on a blog that has a huge audience you will get a lot of immediate attention to your piece of content and to your product and you will be able to get a lot off immediate sales. You're not just getting a back link to your own website that will help you track well but you can make immediate sales and then that article might rank well in Google and you will get consistent second hand search traffic every single month and convert the traffic into customers. This is just one guest article. Then you can publish another one, get another spike of traffic from tapping into the audience of another website and then that article might also rank well.
Tim Soulo: Again, in order for your guest article to rank well while being published on other website you have to do all those other steps. You have to come up with a topic that has search traffic potential. You have to write a great article for the topic. You might also help this person, this blog to get some links to this article. Basically when you publish your second or third guest article what you can do is link to your previous guest articles which will help them to rank well. You've basically created your little empire of guest posts that will rank in Google and bring you second hand search traffic while also building your own back link profile at your website while also helping all your resources rank well. This is pretty cool. This is what I was doing back in the day. This is definitely something that I would do if I were to bootstrap another project right now.
Shane Melaugh: All right. That sounds like a pretty awesome strategy. So they've got to create a lot of content, right?
Tim Soulo: Yes.
Shane Melaugh: That's a big part of this. We need to be cranking out a lot of content. One thing I'm wondering if we're thinking about a solopreneur, boot strapper can't necessarily pay for content creation. One of the things we often encourage our listeners to do is to approach their work by laying out specific time constrained challenges for themselves. If someone's been listening to this and they're thinking, "Okay, maybe this SEO thing could work for me but I'm not that sure yet. What I'm going to do is I'm going to do a 30-day challenge. For 30 days I'm going to follow the Tim Soulo strategy." How would you lay this out? What should someone do for 30 days and how do they know at the end of 30 days whether it's working and they should continue or whether they should change gears somehow?
Tim Soulo: I think that if you're doing it first time, if you're trying to write your first guest article or if you're trying to write your first article for your own blog it's going to be awful, most likely. I remember my own first attempts at guest writing and of publishing articles on my blog. It was awful. The chances are even if you do the challenge, of course by the end of the challenge you'll get a lot better at it. You'll figure out a lot of things that will now seem obvious but weren't so obvious back when you were starting out.
Tim Soulo: My guess is that if this is the first time you do it you're going to struggle. You're not going to see a lot of results and you just might give up. Another strategy that I would suggest other than creating a lot of content is outreach. If you're confident that your product is awesome, if you're confident that your product really solves an issue that a lot of people have why don't you find a lot of those people, better if these people have some nice audience and pitch your product to them or even give it out for free.
Tim Soulo: For example you can search in Google for any keywords related to what your product does. You can see the articles that come up mentioning those keywords or talking about those topics and you can get in touch with the authors of those articles, with the owners of these websites that cover the things and try to pitch them your product. It is the art in itself to make a random person interested in a product out of the blue but if you do it a couple times you'll see what resonates with people and what doesn't. Better if you see that a certain person has the issue that you consult with them and you show how to do it with your product. This might work and you will get a lot of feedback from people if you really will be able to help them solve their issue.
Tim Soulo: If this is the case, if you have solved a pressing issue, something they were struggling with they will talk about for you. Sometimes you won't even have to create all this content. You won't even have to publish guest articles. These people will start writing about your product. For that your product should be really good. It is awesome strategy regardless even if people will ignore your outreach e-mails or even if people will say that they're interested. That is already something to work with. If people are not interested then something is wrong with your product.
Tim Soulo: You can try asking follow up questions like, "What kind of product are you using right now to solve this?" Or "Why are you not interested in solving the problem" or something like this. Quite a few people will be generous and will take time to provide a little bit of feedback in regards to your product.
Tim Soulo: Again, this is one of the strategies I was using back when I was bootstrapping my own plugins and I managed to get quite a few bloggers interested in my solution and I saw them mentioning it in their articles and I saw them using it. I saw other people asking them, "What is this thing you're using? How is it called?" and they were answering in comments. So this works and you don't even have to create content. You just have to make people who are creating content interested in your product. This is done by doing outreach.
Tim Soulo: Again, I might plug one feature in Ahrefs that we have for this. We have a content data base of nearly one billion articles which you can search the way you search in Google. For example, if you have an product related to parenting what you can do is you can enter the keyword parenting into content explorer and it will return all articles from the entire web that mention the word parenting somewhere in their content. Basically if some website is mentioning the word parenting in their content they're somehow related to what you do. Then you can export all those website, find their content information, reach out to them and show whatever you have. Is this kind of a new parenting course or new parenting book or whatever and build relationships with people, get their feedback, improve your product and you will see these people will start writing about you.
Shane Melaugh: This is great stuff. Again, I have to say, I didn't plan this. I didn't know that you were going to see this but this is super in line with the Active Growth Strategy that we've talked about. Again, if you've been following our strategy here through the podcast series, if you look at your notes look at the stuff about the free coaching offer that we talked about and also linked to those relevant episodes in the show notes.
Shane Melaugh: This is almost like a variation. This is almost like a next level of that, right? You start by reaching out to your potential customers to develop your products and product ideas and then what you were just talking about, Tim. It's like a step up from that now that you already have your offer fleshed out. You have your product. You're starting to reach out to people who are influencers on some scale, right? They have a blog about something. They publish content about something. Getting their attention and getting them to buy in is going to be a bit more difficult. Their attention is a bit more expensive to come by basically, right, but I think this is the perfect next step. You've already practiced on the non-influencer, on the quote unquote normal people and now you can step that up a little bit.
Shane Melaugh: I actually think this is great. I would say that this is almost a better next step than going straight into the content creation thing. I think this is a super valuable thing because like you say, not only can it get other people to write for you and can get you exposure and so on, it's also a further step in the process of refining your product, refining your pitch and so on. This strategy is brilliant and is perfectly in line with what we've already been talking about.
Tim Soulo: Yeah and it doesn't really sound like SEO, right?
Shane Melaugh: No, it doesn't.
Tim Soulo: My personal opinion is that SEO is not disconnected from your product. It is very much connected. If you want to get links you have to make random people that have websites link to you. If you have a website about your product the best way to make people to link to you is have a great product. This is the best link building strategy you can do. If you generally have the best product that solves a certain issue people will link to you. This is SEO strategy: have the best product. To have the best product you need to talk to a lot of people. You need to see how people are using your product or why they are not using your product, why they're using competitor products, what they're liking in competitor's products.
Tim Soulo: You have to have super thorough, super deep understanding of your industry and make sure you have the best product possible and make sure you have something unique that people would want to share with others. All those influencers they're in the business of educating people on some new stuff that will help them. If you have something new, something awesome, something that works that will help their audiences, they will promote it for you for free because they do it for a living. They do it for a living. They help people by sharing awesome stuff with these people.
Tim Soulo: Your job is to create this awesome product. Have it on your website and pitch this product to these people that have websites and the links will start coming in. Then you will have those feature pages. You will have your help section. You will have some relevant articles on your blog and those incoming links will boost the total authority of your website and you will start ranking for a lot of relevant terms and get the search traffic to your own website.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, this is so much the experience I had as well. It's why I talk about product creation, creating your own products, creating your brands and so on. My experience when I started out as an entrepreneur was that I tried so many different things. The one thing that made a bigger difference for my SEO, for the amount of traffic that I got, for the amount of money my business made and so on was creating a good product, right? Creating a good product is the best traffic strategy I know. If you have a good product that solves a real problem and the kind of product, the way I think about is you want a product where an individual customer has a really good experience with it. Someone who buys your product is like, "Wow, this is so awesome. Finally someone's helping me solve this." Or, "Finally someone made this better."
Shane Melaugh: Having that makes everything so much easier. It makes outreach easier. It makes getting links easier. It makes everything easier. I can totally back up everything you've said here because that is exactly the experience I've had as well.
Tim Soulo: Yeah, why would you want to invest all our resources into creating epic piece of content if at the same time your product is lacking? The first thing you should do is make sure that you invest enough resources in your product to make it the best in the industry. If your product is already the best in the industry, if you don't see any competitors any solutions to come even close, then of course you can go ahead and invest a little resources, like design, awesome copy writers, content promotion team into content and also create the best content in your industry that would also attract attention and traffic. First, you need to work on your product before you work on your content.
Shane Melaugh: All right, that's awesome. Tell us a bit more about Ahrefs. Tell us about how our bootstrapping solopreneur can benefit from giving Ahrefs a try.
Tim Soulo: Ahrefs is an awesome tool to take action on the things that we've talked about during this podcast. I am head of marketing at Ahrefs and I can say that Ahrefs is like one of the few marketing tools that we are using to promote ourselves. Ahrefs has the two major use cases. The first is that for any website or any page that you put into Ahrefs you can see the search traffic that is coming to the page and the keywords that it ranks for.
Tim Soulo: This is awesome for competitve research and the things that we've talked earlier. If you want to know how your competitors are getting traffic, which topics they are covering on their website and which topics bring them the majority of their search traffic put their website into Ahrefs and you will see that.
Tim Soulo: Also Ahrefs has its own data base of back links which I believe is the biggest and of the better quality than other solutions. It is debatable, but excuse me for saying so. Basically for any competitor you have or for any relevant website that is relevant to your industry you can see where the back links are coming from. Who's linking to them? This is not only good for link building, for trying to get the same back links but also for outreach. If you have a competing product you need to reach out to a lot of people and show them your product.
Tim Soulo: Where do you find people to reach out to? People who are linking to your competitors are pretty much perfect outreach targets. Again, you can use Ahrefs. You can plug a website of any competitor or any article of your competitor that is somehow related to what you do and you want to know who links to this article or who links to this website. Ahrefs will show you all the links.
Tim Soulo: One final use case, the one I already discussed, is our content explorer tool, the data base of content which is also very large and regularly updated where you can enter any keyword related to your industry and it will show you all articles from around the web that has this keyword somewhere within their content. If an article mentions your keyword then this means that the author of this article is somehow interested in the topic which makes them a perfect outreach target.
Tim Soulo: These are the most common use cases for Ahrefs but we also have tools for rank tracking, for auditing your website, for SEO issues and blah, blah, blah. In the context of our conversation we need to know how your competitors are search traffic, which keywords they rank for, who are linking to them and who you can reach out to. These things you can solve with Ahrefs quite easily. We have quite a few educational materials in our blog and in our YouTube channel that walk you through these things that I just explained step by step.
Shane Melaugh: That wraps up episode 39. Thank you very much to Tim for sharing his knowledge with us. You can find links to everything we mentioned including Ahrefs, that's Ahrefs.com in the show notes. You can go to ActiveGrowth.com/39 to find the links, to find the video tutorial I mentioned and to find some other learning resources if you want to dive deeper into SEO.
Shane Melaugh: Also you can help us out in making this podcast and this series in traffic generation even better for you. You can go and check out the first episode in the series, we'll also link to that in the show notes, to get an overview of all the different traffic strategies and tell us which ones you're most interested in or which ones you want to learn more about. You can go to the show notes and leave a comment. You can leave a written comment or click on a button in that post to leave us a voice message. Based on the questions you send in and based on the comments we get from you we will form the content of this series. We will make sure to answer any questions that come in regarding traffic generation and find specific experts to talk to if there are strategies you want to learn more about.
Shane Melaugh: All that and more is at ActiveGrowth.com/39.
If you're familiar with at least the basics of SEO, then go ahead and dive right into the podcast episode above. If you're new to SEO, you might find the interview a bit difficult to follow, so here's a quick crash-course.
My assumption is that you've heard of Google. If you're like most of us, you use it at least ten times a day, for virtually anything - from researching business strategies to figuring out the title of the song you've been humming all day. If you're like my brother, you Google "YouTube" too.
Here's another bold assumption: in 99% of cases, you never leave the first page of search results. Businesses that don't show up on the first page in your Google search barely stand a chance, no matter how good their service is. You'll just never find them.
For your online business this means: if your website gets listed among the first search results for something a lot of people search for, you can get a lot of traffic. This is often referred to as free or "organic" traffic, because you're not paying to get that traffic, your site just happens to show up in the search results.
On the other hand, if your site is not listed among the top results for a search term, you'll basically get no traffic from Google.
This is the aim of Search Engine Optimization (SEO): it's to optimize your pages in such a way that they will appear on page 1 of Google search results, for terms people in your market or niche often search for.
Here's a simple video explanation for beginners - the analogy used in the video will make it easier for you to understand. And they were the first hit for "what is SEO" in Google, which convinced me that they know what they're talking about.
Whatever you start, there will always be someone telling you that you're too late - "it was easier 5 years ago." (Did you notice it's always five years, never four or six?)
If you've come across SEO before, you've probably also heard that these days it's way too competitive because of all the big companies already using the great keywords and are ranking for them.
Tim Soulo disagrees: it's not SEO that's getting competitive, but the industry itself. If you're launching a product in a market that's already saturated, you will always have more competition than when you start something completely new.
On the podcast, we asked Tim what you can do as a bootstrapping entrepreneur with a product that's already been validated, but not entirely unheard of. How can you stand out of the crowd and rank for multiple relevant search terms?
Here are some of his tips that you'll hear in the episode:
In the podcast episode, you'll find the right tools to find great keywords, but before you get down to keyword planning, take a step back and look into your audience.
You will have a hard time knowing what they might search for in Google if you don't know who they are, what they like and how they think.
Tim suggests getting to know your potential customers as well as possible - getting on calls with them, hang out where they hang out, read the books and blogs they do. Go on Quora and Reddit, and look at questions that are relevant to what your selling. See what people struggle with, how they frame their questions, what words they use to communicate.
Only then should you open a keyword planner tool and see the search demand.
A tip for keyword research: don't just look at the traffic volume for an individual keyword. See what pages rank for a certain keyword and how much traffic they get in total for that page. Sometimes the same question people search for can be asked (and therefore typed in) in many different way, making a page rank for many different terms.
We created a tutorial video in case you're not sure how you can do this:
What has your strategy been to get traffic on your website? Have you been experimenting with Search Engine Optimization or you prefer other traffic generation methods?
Let us know in the comments below!
As always, we want your feedback, questions, tips and stories. You can leave them in the comments section or leave us a voice message by hitting the "Start recording" button below:
See you soon with another episode!
Alexandra is a traveling marketer. When she is not editing podcast episodes or writing blog posts, she's out there exploring a new city. She's the creator of the Morning Mindset daily mindfulness journal.
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