The Ultimate Ranking Recipe: Content, Links & The Power of Persuasion

The Ultimate Ranking Recipe: Content, Links & The Power of Persuasion written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Tim Brown, founder of Hook Agency, a leading SEO and web design firm specializing in home service businesses such as roofing companies, HVAC, and plumbing services. Tim shares his expertise on the ever-evolving world of SEO, […]

The Ultimate Ranking Recipe: Content, Links & The Power of Persuasion written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Tim Brown, founder of Hook Agency, a leading SEO and web design firm specializing in home service businesses such as roofing companies, HVAC, and plumbing services. Tim shares his expertise on the ever-evolving world of SEO, shedding light on the crucial components that contribute to successful online visibility and rankings.

Key Takeaways

Tim Brown underscores the pivotal role of quality content and strong backlinks in SEO success, emphasizing the importance of creating original, engaging content tailored to the audience’s needs while acquiring reputable backlinks. Additionally, he highlights the power of persuasive messaging and consistent collaboration between teams to drive engagement and conversions. By leveraging technology while maintaining a human touch, businesses can optimize their SEO efforts and achieve sustained growth in today’s competitive digital landscape.

Questions I ask Tim Brown:

[00:33] What are the big things that have changed in SEO?

[02:03] Would you say Content and SEO go hand in hand?

[02:49] How would you explain the foundation of SEO to a beginner?

[04:30] What about people who have doubts about links?

[07:28] How do you create effective networks?

[18:16] What KPIs should be considered to measure performance and SEO efforts?

[21:47] Where can people connect with you?



More About Tim Brown:


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John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Tim Brown Hook Agency, a Google paid ads, SEO and web design firm that focuses primarily on roofing companies, HVAC, companies and home services businesses. Some of my favorites. Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim (00:28): Thanks for having me, sir.

John (00:30): So I guess let’s start really broad. What are the big things that have changed in SEO? I don’t know, let’s say over the last couple of years?

Tim (00:39): Oh, yeah. So navigating AI is one of the biggest difficult things that a lot of people are trying to figure out. And I would say the continuing push to push more and more ads onto the front homepage of Google, or competing more and more with paid ads. And it’s the scaling content thing, and I guess it’s Google’s competition with chat g BT that are some of the biggest ones. And I think a little bit more emphasis, it kind of extends outside of SEO now, and people that didn’t have strategies that extended outside of SEO or people that were just SEO specialists should be looking at the other components that relate to marketing. I think it’s just not that SEO is going away. We don’t know. You know what I mean? People ask me that all the time, what’s Google Shelf life and stuff like that. We don’t know. I would say SEO will be around another 10 years, but I’m in the profession, so it’s hard to know. But I think it’s just trying to figure out how to work the other things that interrelate to SEO and work with them together. I think that’s kind of a big thing SEO people should be focused on.

John (01:51): Well, and the biggie of course, I mean, I still fight this battle today. People are saying, yeah, I need somebody to SEO my website. And it’s like, well, there’s no content. There’s nothing there to SEO, so to speak. So I mean, you talk about these related things. I mean, content clearly is married to SEO, right? Oh yeah.

Tim (02:06): Yes, absolutely. And content marketing almost. That could be if you’re an SEO, that could be your intro to really getting into things that are adjacent to SEO, but not technically. SEO in that content is, and it goes outside of SEO because there’s content that we make that has nothing to do with that SEO, but it does generally positively affect SEO when you’re doing good content.

John (02:36): So if you’re trying to help somebody get started, I know you work with some of the, and this may sound stereotypical, but some of the trade professions, they know their business, they know a little about marketing. And so if you were going to try to tell somebody who didn’t know much about SEO, how would you say, here’s the foundation, here’s the elements you need to understand.

Tim (02:57): Yeah, I usually just talk about content and links. So content and links are the two biggest ones. And then when I pepper in the technical or traditional SEO, it’s like your website needs to be fast and well ordered, and it needs to have templates for certain types of content, like with local SEO local landing pages for different cities plus service. So if they’re a roofing company or an HVAC company or plumbing company, plumbing plus Indianapolis, we need those pages and all the suburb pages around them. But it’s a matter of getting those pieces of content out there and then links from other websites. I mean, they don’t know what that means half the time. And I’m so used to dealing with contractors, though I’m used to using the non-technical terms, but it’s just getting a link from other websites back to yours from other, usually they should be in your niche or your locality. So you’re looking for home service or construction related websites to get links to your website. There’s easy ways to do it. I mean, obviously a lot of your audience is probably more advanced on this, but it’s figuring out, for me, it’s figuring out how to, why do I need that stuff? Well, Google needs to know that your website is legitimate, and this is one vote. Every link from a legitimate website is a vote for your website, that your website is important. So that’s kind of one of the ways I talk about it.

John (04:30): And a lot of times, I know a lot of people will say, well, why would somebody link to me? You think about the contractor world, I mean, they work with a lot of subcontractors. They work with suppliers of faucets or plumbing of some sort. They all belong to nri and groups like that. Those are the first places to go get links. They

Tim (04:52): Absolutely, yeah, if you’ve got a distributor or a manufacturer that you have certifications from, if they have a directory of contractors, make sure you’re on that. And you mentioned remodeling one. There’s other ones obviously in different trades. Yeah,

John (05:07): Obviously every industry, yeah,

Tim (05:10): There’s local ones too, right? Your chamber of Commerce that you’re part of should be part of, and you should get that link too and just make sure they’re linking to you. And then if you’re part of a B nine group and they have a website or wherever, all these networking things, and that’s another reason why I say this. SEO effort kind of extends beyond what we’re doing just in SEO, because as we network, we get more opportunities to get links as we do real business, we get opportunity. If you have a manufacturer certifications for manufacturers, those are real opportunities for links too. So a lot of times it’s kind of finding the natural links that would come to you from all the people in your industry. Actually, Tommy Meow, who’s a big home service industry, he’s an awesome dude, and he has a business called the Home Service Millionaire.

(06:01): But he told me this strategy and I did it. He said, go into your QuickBooks and look at everyone you’ve paid in the last three months, and then send them a message, a little quick email or a little video message and text ’em or whatever, and say, Hey, could I do a video testimonial for you? Or could I give you a testimonial? If you’re happy with their services, could I give you a testimonial? Would you consider linking to me on your homepage? And I’ve done that and gotten ones from very big websites. So a lot of times we want to follow the existing relationships and organizations that we’re in and get links that way, and that’s probably untapped for a lot of local home service businesses.

John (06:44): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m glad you mentioned the word networking, how I’ve always talked about it as well, as opposed to it being sort of scammy feeling. It’s a very legitimate thing. I want to go back to the location service pages that you mentioned, because that idea, particularly with home services, particularly with local businesses, is a way for them to get found in suburbs, but it’s also very spammy. I mean, it’s been very spammy. I’m not talking about the approach in general. A lot of people have spammed. You go to somebody’s website and it says basically it’s the exact same content, the exact same photos, it just has a different name of a suburb or neighborhood. How do you create those that are actually effective because Google doesn’t like that kind of content either. So how do you create those that are truly effective and useful as opposed to being spammy?

Tim (07:34): Yeah, so I’ve tried that in the past. I think every long time SEO has, I honestly tried to do it with code where it would inject. I put the name in once and then it would put the city name in every, I’ve tried all types of things, and I’ve tried them and failed at them so you don’t have to, so it doesn’t work, or it works for a very short amount of time and then gets devalued. So this is why we’re trying to go for long-term useful content, SEO, because it’s less likely to get, we do a bunch of work and then three years later everything goes down. So we try to make stuff that references real things in that town or city. And I also don’t think it’s the worst thing. It should be original content, but I also don’t think it’s the worst thing to put out 15 of them and then a couple of two or three kind of take off. And then you keep on building into them. You keep on adding more actual local photos. You keep on building out more local focused content. So it’s okay to do 15 all original content, but maybe you’re only doing 500 words or something like that. And then over time, you can really push into them and try to make it more comprehensive.

(08:47): We have the same FAQs on a lot of different pages, but you could also answer them again in a different way. I could answer the question about what is a backlink 25 times a plumber could answer the question, what’s the quickest way to get a toilet unclogged with infinite number of variations around the language that they’re using? So there’s nothing wrong with answering the same questions in a new way. And I think ultimately the content, the more and more you can make it original, the better. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with starting with lower amounts of content. Then as something pops off, I think about minimum viable content. We need to get a lot of content out there, and a lot of times, and that is the game right now, right? We’re putting out a lot of content and we are AI assisted. We always have every single human, every single piece of content has human edited, and there’s a lot of different opinions in the SEO world about what’s admissible and what’s appropriate and all these different things.

(09:53): I found that I was using AI to create content myself and then modifying it and making it better and using it for research and using it for different things. And I felt like if I’m not doing that for my clients, then I’m almost being like I’m holding them back when I truly believe that this is making my content better because it’s making me quicker on research and on different things. So I felt like it was appropriate based on that to actually move into ai. But there’s different opinions on that, and people that are going full AI with no editing are getting hammered and hurt in the SERPs right now. So search engine result pages. So basically watch out, and this is dangerous, but it’s still effective. So it’s figuring out how to effect

John (10:44): A couple really practical uses there. You talked about having different versions of the same answer to a question. If you write a good solid technical answer and then just take it to AI and say, give me eight variations of this, that to me is a super good use. And certainly if you write a good blog post, asking AI to create title and metadata, meta descriptions, it’s better at that than you and I are once it’s got something good to work with, it’s my pleasure to welcome a new sponsor to the podcast. Our friends at ActiveCampaign, ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with a must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. We’ve been using ActiveCampaign for years here at Duct Tape Marketing to power our subscription forms, email newsletters and sales funnel drip campaigns. ActiveCampaign is that rare platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and capable of handling even the most complex marketing automation needs.

(11:43): And they make it easy to switch. They provide every new customer with one-on-one personal training and free migrations from your current marketing automation or email marketing provider. You can try ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days and there’s no credit card required. Just visit tape. That’s right, duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners who sign up via that link. We’ll also receive 15% off an annual plan if purchased by March 31st, 2024. That’s tape. Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today.

Tim (12:30): I also like the get the transcript from YouTube. Let’s say you made a video that was about something very technical and you have subject matter expertise in that video, using the transcript and turning it into a blog post, still customize it, make freshen it up, make sure it’s human readable and feels good, and then embed the video at the top of the post. And if it wasn’t your video, make sure you’re linking to their website. But I think if it’s your video, ultimately you could rep content repurposing, I think is kind of what you’re getting at there too. John is like, AI is so good at content repurposing, and I like anything with ai, we’re using a smaller data set than just the entire internet. I feel like the entire internet is full of garbage. If you really mixed it all together, it’s just a garbage soup. But if we fed it, let’s, let’s say you’re an HVAC company and you’re a carrier dealer and you fed it their manual and you used it to build up for carrier products that way, that would be an incredible use. Basically, smaller data sets better information.

John (13:45): And the thing I love about video or audio transcripts too, is you automatically get the voice and tone and style of the speaker, which is something that again, really informs the AI to speak like you do. And I think that’s a really important element of it. So

Tim (14:01): As people get, lemme do one last 20 seconds on this topic. People get more and more focused on ai. There’s an opportunity to return to the fundamentals of marketing, especially if AI is automating some busy work for you. So return to the learn about persuasion in the fundamentals of marketing, and it will inform everything you’re doing. So it’s great to use ai, but it should free up some of your time to then go back and get better at persuasion.

John (14:33): So we started talking a little bit about video as it relates to other content creation, but how about just video itself? Do you think that today, the world we live in today, everybody should have a YouTube channel. They should be creating video content, they should be publishing it in all the places you can publish.

Tim (14:52): I’m long video. I’m long video, and you know what I like about it? I like that it teaches me things about attention and grabbing attention. I love SEO, okay, we get a lot of leads from our own SEO, and I believe in it for if 70, 80% of the clicks on Google are going to organic, then you shouldn’t neglect it, even if it’s hard. Some people want to watch video, so I incorporate it into most blog posts. We’re incorporating some kind of video. And then I think the short form video stuff, the TikTok Instagram stuff of the world, it’s showing us how to grab attention quicker, getting better at it. In the last two days, videos on our TikTok and Instagram have gotten over 2 million views, and this is niche stuff. This is roofing. So it is crazy what’s possible. And it also teaches you things about how quick everybody’s attention span is these days and how can we feed that a little?

(15:56): How can we be part of it? I’m not trying to create the problem, but I’m trying to ride the wave. If that’s what’s happening, then I’m going to try to learn it, and then I think you could apply those principles to your other content. I believe most people should be experimenting with video, and I think it’s okay if you’re considering it experiments, and I think it’s great to fail at it a lot and you still get better. We all get better by failing at it a lot. And it is, but I don’t know if everyone should be chasing virality. Local home service businesses should not be chasing virality. They should be chasing sales enablement video content, and then entertainment. Entertainment though sometimes goes viral. So the point is is I do think home service businesses should not just be informing, they should be also entertaining their ideal customers.

John (16:45): Yeah, I remember we have a client that’s a home remodeler and they’ve been in the video for a long time, and the video that to this date got them the most attention and the most clicks was a couple guys were taking a deck, they were going to replace a deck on the back of a house. They were taking the deck off and there was a whole family of raccoons in there, and they videoed that and then shared that. And of course, it didn’t have anything to do with the business, but everybody loved it. And so I think it does. I think actually, like you say, showing the human side is great, but I totally agree with you. I mean, what you really want to get is business objectives.

Tim (17:19): Absolutely. And so it’s kind of trying to mix those together when possible. And you’ll notice if you tried to go, let’s say if somebody tried to get a ton of views for a year in a row, I did it for a year every single day trying to go viral. It took me seven or eight months to finally do it. And I was like the first five things that got over a million views were not good for my business really. I just started just slapping my logo on there just to try to get some kind of brand positive stuff from it. But I think you learn, that’s why it’s experiments and learning. And most businesses though, should not, I don’t know if you should do that every day for a year to learn, but it’s fun. It’s fun. Have fun with your marketing if nothing else, have fun with your marketing. Yeah.

John (18:02): So let’s jump to the one that a lot of people have trouble expressing a lot of, I’m sure not you Tim, but a lot of SEO folks don’t really talk about ROI necessarily. What should somebody be looking at what KPIs even should they be looking at to really truly measure the performance and their SEO efforts?

Tim (18:25): That’s a big question, John. That’s a great one. I look at the upward swing of keywords and backlinks over the first six months. I think the first six months we’re really talking about these very light, it’s kind of soft stuff. And we have to explain to our clients why that’s good. Why is me ranking for more keywords, sometimes not even high intent. I think that there’s an element though of, I was doing air quotes there, I realize this is audio, so high intent being like they’re likely to purchase. And we’re just talking through that. We’re like therapists for those first six months. And it’s tough because it’s unclear. And PPC gets to just be like, Hey, we’re over here making money. And SEO has to be like, okay, well we’re going to make money someday. And that’s what we struggle with back and forth. It’s not an easy job, but it is easier when you show them deliverables, when you show them specific things that were completed on their behalf.

(19:28): So that’s what we focus on. And then we talk them through why more link, we educate. We have to educate. SEO just inherently has to educate more. So here’s why we’re getting you more backlinks because every backlink is a vote for your business’s website. And the more backlinks we have, the more likely you are to rank high. And with content, the more we’re ranking for one, those are linking opportunities because every single blog post out there people could link to, especially if it’s a good blog post, but it’s also giving topical authority. So we talk about topical authority even with our blue collar trades focused industries we’re talking about you have to cover a topic more in depth, and then obviously the location pages is a little bit easier to explain, and we show them those rankings over time. And then as ROI is really a year to two years, and that’s the hardest part about SEO.

(20:25): We’re talking about long-term plays with compounding benefits. And then if you keep on going, it gets really good. And sometimes that sounds like lies to home service business owners and small businesses in general. So it’s learning enough. I think as a contractor or any kind small business owner that’s trying to hire SEO it, try to get somebody that has a lot of five star reviews, try to work with an agency that actually has track record and case studies, but it’s really hard, dude. It’s a hard thing. How am I supposed to trust you? And it’s still hard, even if you find a reputable one because SEO is hard and some people, this is what most people don’t want to say, but some people shouldn’t even do it. If you’re not going to go hard on SEO, if you’re not going to actually go hard, you shouldn’t do it. It’s really a waste of your time and money. Even if you’re spending a thousand dollars a month, that might be complete waste to your money. What’s worse five KA month and somebody’s actually going hard on your account or one KA month and they’re not doing anything. You can see it’s a scary thing to hire. And I think if you’re not going to go hard, just save your money and spend it on sponsor a t-ball team.

John (21:44): Well, Tim, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. So you want to invite people to where they might connect with you and find out more about your work.

Tim (21:51): Yeah. Should I go too hard there, John? Anyway? No,

John (21:55): At not all. We’re just out of

Tim (21:56): Am I still plugged in here? There we go. Yep. Yep,

John (22:00): You’re

Tim (22:00): Good., hook agency all over social media hook better leads with the Google specialized team that’s totally focused on roofers, plumbers, and HVAC tech companies. And we really appreciate these industries. We love you guys. Thank you for being cool to us Hook

John (22:17): Awesome. Well again, appreciate you stopping by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

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