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How to Apply Search Marketing to Your Business with Dan Shure

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Advertising online usually has keywords attached to the process that attract search users to your website. While your positioning on the search results page is valuable, if users aren’t finding the answers to their problem on your page, they’ll bounce.

Dan Shure is an SEO Expert at Evolving SEO, and he’s sharing how B2B businesses can utilize SEO to market themselves more effectively online. Bringing his expertise and personal experience with search marketing, Dan offers valuable insight.

In this episode, we cover:

  1. The benefits of creating content that starts at the beginning of the funnel

  2. How to build trust and relationships in a matter of minutes

  3. Community building over SEO

If you’re trying to pop up on the results page for a transactional search, it may be wise to make sure you’re putting content-based material for users to see. You want this content to address the wants and needs of buyers, not the product or service you are offering to them. Show them how you can solve their problems as a thought leader.

Through the content you publish, users will see that you’re offering a service that will help them, and they’re much more likely to trust you and your word. Personable efforts and approaches to content add a human element to content marketing, making the user feel more comfortable to start forming a relationship with you.Once that trust is solidified, it’s easier than ever to build communities online through the content you’re sharing. Responding to questions people may have, or posting blogs centered around what people are talking about online will connect you to so many users that will, one day, need your services.

To learn more about Dan and Evolving SEO, visit the website

Be sure to follow Dan on Twitter

Mentioned in this episode:

Evolving SEO
LinkedIn Prospecting with Jake Jorgovan

For more information on remote selling and a complete list of links mentioned in this podcast, visit this remote selling article on our website.


How to Apply Search Marketing to Your Business with Dan Shure:

Full Transcript

Liston Witherhill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners and sales people looking to have more and better conversations with your perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics and sales studies to help you create win-win relationship. I’m your host Liston Witherill and I’m pleased to welcome you to Modern Sales.

Liston Witherhill:
Hey there it’s Liston and really quickly before I get into today’s episode, I want to let you know that I had Dan Shure on the podcast. He’s an SEO expert. One thing that I forgot to do, just in case you’re not totally sure is to define SEO. And that stands for search engine optimization and that is the practice of getting your online content to rank in search engines like Google. So to help you be found online. So that’s all I want to say and now my interview with Dan Shure.

Liston Witherhill:
In today’s episode, I am ecstatic to have Dan Shure, who I think I can call my friend, but he didn’t approve that, Dan Shure of Evolving SEO podcast, as well as his own business, Evolving SEO. Dan is going to talk to you about how to apply search in your own marketing as a service business. As a service provider, he knows all about this. Dan welcome to the show.

Dan Shure:
Liston thanks for having me and I absolutely approve you calling me a friend. I appreciate that.

Liston Witherhill:
I backed you into a corner there. It’s one of those things I should have vetted first, but thank you I appreciate it.

Dan Shure:
Absolutely.

Liston Witherhill:
So Dan, why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about you and how you got into SEO in the first place and why in the hell we should be paying attention to what you have to say.

Dan Shure:
Sure. So I’ll back way up just for a quick second. My degree is in classical piano performance. It’s a worthless degree in terms of getting a job, but also, you might be asking what does it have to do with SEO and being a consultant. One, I graduated in 2001, I needed websites for my band, for my teaching studios. Then I was even helping my dad build websites for his businesses. So, all throughout the early to mid 2000s, I was building websites on like Dreamweaver and HTML, et cetera. Of course, I needed to grow business for all of those, for my teaching business and then for my dad’s businesses. The biggest way I was able to do that was with SEO. I bought books on SEO and read some of the earliest Moz Beginners Guide, an SEO book, website at the time. Just taught myself SEO alongside building websites.

Dan Shure:
At a certain point, I knew I wasn’t a good designer. I’m colorblind and I’m not really a fan of coding. I could do some of it but it wasn’t really what I was passionate about. At a certain point I realized, wow, there’s people actually doing SEO full-time. It’s their job. It hadn’t occurred to me before. When I realized that, that’s when I decided that I wanted to stop teaching music. That I wanted to basically quit all of the work I was doing at that point and transition to being a full-time SEO consultant. That basically happened around 2012 or 2013, is when I shut the door on my last piano lesson and then went full-time with SEO and I’ve been full-time since then.

Liston Witherhill:
What is it about SEO that is so fascinating to you. I’m curious because it seems like really technical, really sort of away from the user experience. So, as someone who’s done a lot of marketing myself, I’m so focused on people and I’m wondering, is that a big part of your thought process and the way you approach it?

Dan Shure:
It’s actually extremely people focused. Way more than people realize. It is technical, but I think you kind of answered it. I like it because it’s both. Being a musician, especially a pianist, you learn to be whole brained, right. Right brain, left brain. Linear and non-linear. That’s what I really love about SEO is you get to be technical and deal with search bots and accessibility and technical issues like site speed, but then on the other hand, you have to consider users when it comes to the intent of the searches that they’re doing in Google, to the psychology of the human being behind the desktop or behind their phone, to delivering the right content based upon what will satisfy a user’s needs. So, that’s probably the biggest thing that I do love about it, is it touches upon all of that. In addition to that, you don’t need a degree at this stage to be an SEO, which thankfully, like I mentioned earlier, my classical piano degree is not helpful in the job field.

Liston Witherhill:
A lot of people ask me about email marketing and automation and sales, CRM and all the other tools that we use, right, to run our businesses. You talk about having a degree and I think it’s really funny because the model of going to a school for four or five, 10 years, depending on how far you want to go, it’s not possible to do that with the way we do business on the internet now. Because by the time you get out of there, everything you learned is out the door. That’s old news.

Dan Shure:
You’re absolutely right. I mean, that’s all. I don’t really have much to add. In fact, I just interviewed somebody for my podcast, it’s not out yet, but one of her biggest issues with universities now, is they try to teach SEO, but it’s so outdated, it’s so incorrect, it’s so not relevant to the SEO we in 2018. I mean, I was just telling somebody earlier today that there was a big Google update in August and all the strategies I was doing up until then are now, they don’t work as well anymore. So, even a few months later and you’re kind of out of date when it comes to SEO. Just by nature it’s not something you can adequately teach in school.

Liston Witherhill:
Well so for your benefit dear listener, it is December 10, 2018. So you can know exactly when we’re having this conversation. As of this date today Dan, how do you think about SEO for your own business. As a service provider, you’re not selling a product or a widget or you’re not even selling a Bluewolf or McKenzie or a company with a bench of thousands of people who can go do the work, how do yo think about it for yourself? How do you apply SEO to your own business?

Dan Shure:
I’ll explain this with a quick story. I kind of stumbled into it by accident. Along the way as I was doing SEO, I was blogging about SEO. I was blogging about tools and strategies and tactics and techniques. My main motivation for blogging at the time was to share things with the industry. I loved to publish something about SEOs and have Rand Fishkin formerly of Moz and all these people that I respect about SEO read my content and tell me they like it. I mean, honestly that’s the core motivation for me, is my peers liking my work. But, what I saw happening after that was I was generating a handful of leads through this content.

Dan Shure:
So one specific example is a few years ago, or maybe a little more than that now, I did a post comparing the Yoast SEO plugin versus the All in One SEO plugin. It was the most thorough, detailed review at that time. I think some more have come out since then. That post alone, and I know this attribution, because they told me via word of mouth, resulted in two or maybe it was three clients that at least have driven five figures of income, if not six, accumulatively, lifetime value of each client. Each respective client found me through that post, because they were trying to solve a problem they were having with their website with the Yoast SEO plugin. They saw my post. They saw that I was knowledge and that I was answering questions. Then I think they probably realized, I’m in over my head. I need to hire somebody to help with this. Because I was showing that I could solve those problems in that content, I was the natural person they reached out to.

Dan Shure:
So in hindsight, they have what is that called survivor bias, where you attribute something afterwards, right? So if I claimed that I was cleaver and knew what I was doing, what I would say in hindsight is I positioned myself as an individual, a person, a single consultant. When somebody lands on my blog, you will see. I have my headshot right on my right hand side. Everything’s very personal. I have my name everywhere. My intent is that somebody finds me the person. Sees the content that I’ve published and then through that content on the blog or just a podcast or form of content marketing, they feel like they have, even just for a short minute, a relationship or they know me or trust me. So, that’s really what I’m going for with selling a service. So for all the listeners out there as well, it’s not about ranking for web design consultant, or web developer, freelance person, whatever it is. You don’t really need to ranking for those so called transactional searches.

Dan Shure:
What I would focus on being visible for in search are the things that are mid or maybe top from funnel, that are content marketing based where you’re putting out your thought leadership or you’re solving a problem. These tool posts work really, really well. So if you’re in any sort of industry that has tools, whether it’s sales or CRM or any of that kind of stuff. If you can write your reviews, or tool tutorials, or thoughts comparing two tools, those work really, really well, because the person that’s searching for a tool, they’re probably one step away from needing a consultant in many cases. So I think that a really good kind of mid funnel search. So, that’s really how I think about my content marketing now and largely my content marketing last year has been the podcast rather than the blog, but on the rare chance that I do get to blog, that’s how I think about it as well.

Liston Witherhill:
You just opened a can of worms, because I have all kinds of questions about why the podcast versus the blog, but before we go there, I’m curious about magnitude. So, I think when a lot of people think about having a website or doing a blog or writing content of any kind, one question they often have is how many people do I need to attract before this becomes a meaningful source of business? And of course the answer is, it depends. But how do you think about that question?

Dan Shure:
I honestly don’t. I never set forth a goal of like, oh, I need X amount of traffic. Or I think if I attract a hundred visitors one of those will be a client. My main goal and approach when I’m thinking about content is number one, is this a topic that I can be the best at solving a problem for somebody, or answering a question. Or am I the only person to have really covered this at this depth, or at this quality, or this recently. Number two, is applying SEO to it, I want to see that there’s some demand for this topic. So the most basic way that you can do that, let’s say your topic is the Yoast SEO versus All in One SEO plugin, like my example. You would simply get search volume on that keyword. In general, even if you see a couple of hundred searches a month for a keyword, there’s enough demand around there to consider publishing a piece of content. So what I try to look for is demand rather than project X amount of traffic on the backend of that. If I see demand then that’s all I really need to know or care about to then go ahead and publish something.

Liston Witherhill:
And you’re looking for the problem first. You’re not following this advice where it’s like, go put in your keyword to Google Ad Words, keyword planner and figure out what are people searching for and then write content about that?

Dan Shure:
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a slight difference in how I go about doing SEO for myself versus how I do it for other clients. So, there’s a couple of approaches. One, since I’m the topic expert, I don’t need to do quote unquote keyword research where I’m having to learn about an industry and try to figure out what are the industry lingo terms that they’re using. I just know what they are because I’m in this space. So once I know that topic exist like for example progressive web apps for SEO. I already know about that, so if I see search following, if I know no one else in the industry has written about it, then I can cover it.

Dan Shure:
But if you want to do so called keyword research, what I would do is make a brain dump of all of what I call the seed topics around your industry. These are just sort of broad topics. So in sales, it might be like cold calling, or cold emailing, or email signature, or email subject line. Stuff that represents broad, but not too broad and not too specific topics in your space. Make a big list of that, then go to Google and install the Keywords Everywhere plugin. It’s a free plugin for Chrome and Firefox. When you search things in Google, you will now see search volume along with every search that you do. In addition to that, you will see search volume on the long tail auto suggest results that populate as you start typing.

Dan Shure:
So, let’s say it’s cold calling. If you start typing cold calling in Google, then you’re going to start seeing the long tails like cold calling tips, cold calling strategies, cold calling statistics, et cetera. Start looking for terms or phrases that have maybe 100 to 1,000 searches a month, is generally a good sweet spot. Look for that as ideas of topics you could then publish around. Do that with all of your seed terms that you come up with when you’re doing your brainstorming. That’s super 30 second explanation of what could be easily be an hour tutorial and I do have videos on YouTube that explain that process, but that’s what you should do if you’re not already and industry expert and you don’t just know what the topics are.

Liston Witherhill:
So, another question you must get all the time, which is, I take the time, I have a question that I keep hearing from clients over and over again. I write a long article about it. In depth, not necessary an encyclopedia entry, but enough to tell a novice or maybe someone whose mid-level knowledge enough about that topic to really make a difference for them and Google sends me zero traffic. What should I do?

Dan Shure:
There’s one of two reasons basically that could happen. One, you chose something that is too competitive. So a quick lesson on competition. So if you search cold calling stats in Google, and you turn on the Moz bar plugin. So you can go to Moz, download the Moz bar plugin for free. What you want to do is look at the domain authorities of all the sites that are ranking. Domain authority is a one to 100 scale. One the lowest, 100 the highest. Facebook’s 100, a brand new website is one. If all of the results rank in there already are higher than your domain authority, especially much higher. Let’s say you’re at 40 and you see all 80s, 90s, 100s, et cetera, that’s way to competitive most likely. There’s probably not a chance you’re going to rank for that.

Dan Shure:
The other thing you want to look for is, are there already relevant results ranking. If you do cold calling statistics and all 19 results are literally in the title, you see cold calling statistics over and over and over again, well there’s no relevant gap there for you to be visible. Everyone’s already covered it already. Then finally even if there’s no authority gap or relevance gap, if there’s low quality results ranking, which is a quality gap, you could potentially out rank existing sites if you just come along, you’re newer, bigger, better, more detailed, have better photos, whatever it is. So you can sometimes win on quality. But, that’s the big first reason is a lot of people miss judge the competition and their ability to rank for something to begin with.

Dan Shure:
So my biggest advice for the end of 2018 going into 19, is look for that thing that barely anybody has talked about. Or if people have talked about it, it hasn’t been recently. Your biggest bet in search is to cover something that nobody else has covered before. Don’t be afraid to get specific. So if it’s cold calling statistics, maybe it’s cold calling statistics 2019, right? Maybe there’s another long tail modifier after that three word phrase. So don’t be afraid to get specific, but you should really try to be the most relevant, or the only relevant result.

Dan Shure:
Now, if you didn’t misjudge competition, and you do deserve to rank based upon those factors, maybe you didn’t create the right content. A lot of people misjudge the content they should create. They see cold calling tips, but then they begin their article with what is cold calling, why do you need it, and they go into five paragraphs of stuff before they get to the actual tips. The [inaudible 00:16:20] there, is deliver what the user wanted at the top of the content. So a lot of this is knowing how to structure the content and what to actually create to fulfill what that user wanted.

Dan Shure:
We could do 10 podcast episodes in order to teach everybody this stuff, but the biggest take away I want people to know is it takes practice, right? So as you start identifying these topics, you’ll learn by doing. It’s like they say, you can read about doing pushups, but you’re not going to get bigger muscles just by reading about it. You have to actually have to do it, right? So I think that’s the biggest advice I have to everyone here is do it and learn and taste how SEO works first hand, by trial and error.

Liston Witherhill:
You work really hard to come up with an idea where there’s a quality gap or maybe no one’s written about it yet, which honestly seems implausible at this point in the internet’s life span.

Dan Shure:
So let me just give you an interesting fact. I think, what is it, like 80% of search queries have never happened before. So there’s thing in search where six years ago no one was searching for influencer marketing. What you want to look for is in every industry there’s new topics there about to pop. So that’s what you should look for, because yeah, everyone’s written about cold calling, but what’s the new thing in sales, or the new thing in consulting or whatever it is. What’s the new software coming out, no one’s written about? So, sorry to interrupt there, but that’s the side door in is to find the stuff no one’s talked about yet, because it’s brand new.

Liston Witherhill:
How dare you Dan. Don’t you dare interrupt me ever again. So let’s say, okay you find a topic. You write an article. You start getting search traffic. What then? What’s your website’s role in now delivering leads to you and how do you think about that part of it, where someone’s there, let’s say by some stroke of luck and cosmic coincidence, they read the whole article and they’re extremely interested. How do you think about turning that person into a lead?

Dan Shure:
Great question. I full admit I’m not a big hard core CRO person, or AB tester or anything like that. What I try to do is just put elements in that content that instill trust and that show that I know what I’m doing and give credibility. For me one thing I’ll do is like I said, I put my headshot right on there so the person doesn’t need to think, they just see, oh, here’s an individual behind this entire website. And I’ll put testimonials and I’ll put links that are very noticeable that will drive people to case studies or to examples of work I’ve done. So my website, I have very few menu items, but some are case studies. Some are testimonials page I think, and my story, things like that.

Dan Shure:
So my goal is for people to see that I’m a human being. That’s there’s something a little bit different about my website. I’m not just any random SEO agency, but here’s this unique guy Dan, he’s in Massachusets. He has a unique story. He has a unique approach. But I try to counter all that uniqueness by establishing credibility and naming some names and clients that people might recognize. So a lot of it, it’s just sales oriented and thinking with a sales mindset at that point, and just putting those elements on the page. Also, choosing not to include certain elements. So, I try to limit menu items. I try to limit extra choices when possible. I know that’s a common approach in CRO. But that’s how I think about it. I’m not super calculated after that. Quite honestly on my website, I’m not really tracking. I have goal completion set up, but I’m not really actively looking at them. I just, my experience when people land on the site, and they see all of those elements, that they’ll tend to want to reach out and contact me.

Liston Witherhill:
I see. So you’re really in some sense hoping that the article itself is influential enough and that you’ve done enough on the rest of the website to just drive maybe an obviously decision that if they want to talk to you, you’re going to make it really easy.

Dan Shure:
I take the philosophy of you can’t really sell the unsellable. Maybe a lot of sales folks will disagree with me, or maybe-

Liston Witherhill:
No. No. I agree with you.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, so I take that approach. But then, I leave secondary things, if people land on my site and they’re not going to be a client right at that point, because let’s be honest, to sell and SEO service, it’s a high priced service. It’s not like something where I’m selling just a simple ebook. So it’s not high conversions. I’ll make sure people can usually find my podcast in my social profile. So that way, at least they’re following along. They’ve signed up. They’ve subscribed somewhere. So now I can keep in touch with them and then that transaction might take 12 months. Or I’ve had people literally know me for five years before they became a client. So just that sort of keeping in touch with somebody is really, really important too.

Liston Witherhill:
Another overnight success, right Dan?

Dan Shure:
Exactly.

Liston Witherhill:
So you have this article. Let’s say you write an article. Let’s go back to that point where you write an article and you know that this addresses something that keeps coming up over and over and you know the other information or maybe even the prevailing wisdom of the industry is not contained here. You have something to add to this conversation. I had Benji Hyam on the podcast recently of growandconvert.com, who’s awesome. If you don’t know him, I should definitely introduce you two. But he’s fantastic and his advice is, don’t wait for Google to send you traffic. Go find pockets on the internet where people are already having these conversations and contribute to that conversation with your content. Do you see that, that can accelerate the time to search ranking in the amount of traffic that people can get?

Dan Shure:
I’ll pick that apart. Can that accelerate your actual ranking directly? It can sometimes. It depends out there where you’re linking to the content. I do think there’s some potentially some soft, lightweight signals. If you’re linking your content up in LinkedIn or CORA or tweeting it even and that’s creating visibility. I think the extra visibility can definitely help. Now the prime thing that’s going to help with rankings, is going to be that really nice quality link in the New York Times or on marketingland.com or something like that. So there are nuances to this. I think any exposure, I’m a huge fan of that. So I have a video where I talked about, I spent two hours on CORA on a random Friday night, and I got 2,000 impressions in one week on my answers.

Dan Shure:
So I love platforms where you publish the content and then they do the work for you. LinkedIn is like that right now I think. Anybody listening if you don’t know that now, I mean, I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but LinkedIn is such the case where if you post the right thing you’re going to get visibility just be of how the algorithm works. That traffic it sends back to your site can indeed help your SEO. Is it a direct thing or indirect thing? I think it’s more indirect at that point. But yeah, I’m a huge fan of not waiting around. I mean, I think that’s why I and yourself we have podcasts on other channels that helps push content out there and gives you a reason to promote and push your content out there and not just sit around and wait for Google.

Liston Witherhill:
Right. And if you’re fortunate enough to get the content in front of the right people who then link to it just because it gets passed around and someone says, “Man this is amazing. I want to share it.” I’m always surprised Dan, this happened to me yesterday, I tweeted something and then someone on LinkedIn just copied the tweet and posted it verbatim and mentioned me in it. I have no idea who this is. I mean, other than just publishing a tweet and hitting send, or what ever the call to action is on Twitter, I didn’t do anything. This guy found it and took the time to republish it, which is amazing. So, I think that, that’s where Benji was going is, it sort of not only drives traffic directly to the article, but increases the chances that someone would find it valuable and link to it.

Dan Shure:
Absolutely. I think for anyone out there listening, if you don’t feel like you have an audience anywhere yet, what I did in the past that worked really well was focused exclusively on one channel for the most part and really built an audience there. But if you feel like you don’t have a lot of time or you’re at the beginning stages of building that audience to be able to just hit tweet and have something happen, I would focus on one maybe two channels and a time and really get that moving before you try to do too many. That’d be kind of my approach to it.

Liston Witherhill:
Interesting. I recommend choosing three total channels. Having one that is always working for you the best, you’re always going to keep that one. Then replace the third one every quarter, or every six months to see kind of what happens. By the way, I do have an episode on LinkedIn and you and I could probably talk for days about LinkedIn and how to use LinkedIn. But I had Jake Jorgovan on the podcast. Go back and listen to episode 13 if you’re interested in LinkedIn prospecting in particular. If you’re interested more in LinkedIn content promotion, just email me, liston@liston.io and I can tell you all about that.

Liston Witherhill:
So Dan, you’re an SEO guy, but you’ve gone away from blogging and here you are publishing podcasts. Tell me about that.

Dan Shure:
It’s really a personal thing for me. So I like blogging. I can do it. I can write. But it’s arduous. It takes me forever. I end up having a couple of sleepless night doing it. I’m not somebody that can sit down and just crank out an 800 word blog post and feel happy with that. I tend to start a blog post and it could end up being a book, pretty much ever time. I’m a strategic thinker so my though process is always like I have a hard time picking one focus and limiting to that. So, a lot of it is a time thing, and then compare that to podcasting, I love to talk. I find that enjoyable. I like to ask questions. I really like learning from other people. My podcast is interview based. I find it to be much easier for me with much less friction to publish a podcast to do something in audio format. So as I mentioned, I’m a musician, so I already knew all of the audio production stuff as well, so I didn’t have any of that learning curve.

Dan Shure:
So, I’m lucky in that podcasting was still on the rise. When I started mine almost three years ago, I thought it had peaked then, and it still keeps going. So I think I’m lucky because the content format that I like the most at the moment is a great on still full of opportunity. It’s not nearly as saturated as blogging. So a lot of it is a personal thing. I like creating audio content and find it much easier just to hop on a mic rather than be up for three nights writing a blog post.

Liston Witherhill:
So do you find that you’re able to optimize for search, or that search is a significant way that people can discover your podcast? Or do you even think about that?

Dan Shure:
I don’t think about it at all. The only way I think about it is showing up in podcast lists that rank in Google. So, if you go to Google and do SEO podcasts, one thing I did early on, was I contact a bunch of people ranking with podcast lists. There’s a site called UpCity, I believe. Here’s a little tactic for anybody, if you have a podcast or any asset at all, like a broker podcast or a video show, find these lists, run a little link checker on them and find any old shows in the list that are out of date or broken or whatever.

Liston Witherhill:
Ah, the old broken link strategy.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, and it works well because I found one on this list in UpCity. It was the last one on the list, the 20th one. And I said, “You’re linking to a show that doesn’t exist anymore. The website’s gone. How about you replace it with my show?” I just wrote the text and gave them everything and made it super easy for them, and I already had a contact there too, so that kind of helped as well. But yeah. That’s the way that I’ve focused on quote unquote SEO for podcasts.

Dan Shure:
I also did try to do a little optimization for iTunes rankings, but as we were chatting before we hit record, it’s a black box and it’s very hard to understand why things are ranking there. I did hear one theory that I think is true. I think it’s the velocity of subscribers, that kid of goes in a rotating or rolling basis. So if you have a way to push a lot of new subscribers by running a contest, or you can get mentioned on another podcast that has a lot of listeners, or get out there in an email list that has a lot of listeners or readers. If you can really increase the velocity of your podcast subscription, that’s supposedly how you can rank. And by the way, when I say rank in iTunes, that’s in the category section. That’s not a ranking where you go to the search bar and type SEO podcast in iTunes, and the new and noteworthy section as well.

Dan Shure:
So yeah, other than that, I haven’t focused really on SEO for the podcast. It’s really been more community building and community driven. One thing I used to do a lot early on was every episode I would write a unique title and description and post it in inbound.org, which doesn’t exist anymore, GrowthHackers and Product Hunt, when they used to have podcasts. Now they don’t have it anymore either, so it definitely seems like a problem somebody needs to solve, is this podcast discovery problem. But I would leverage communities and publish in there as well. Then, like I was saying before we hit record here, I think being one SEO podcast out of only a handful of any that are of decent quality really helps as well, because once the word gets out there, SEO is a pretty big space now and people are just craving quality content.

Liston Witherhill:
So if someone were looking to either start blogging, or I think more often what I find is a lot of my clients started and then kind of gave up, or just were inconsistent. It sounds like focusing top or middle of funnel is part of your advice, but what would you say to that person in order to really give it a good go in terms of initial strategy A, and B what is their minimum commitment to really give it a shot and see if it’s going to work?

Dan Shure:
So I’ll answer the second one first. I don’t have any blog posts. I have maybe 20 or 25 if that across this is now like seven years or something like that. And I’ve published a lot of guest content on Moz and on other tool websites. So that’s another piece of your blogging strategy, but this is not a quantity game. This is a game of two or three super high quality really well done blog posts a year can get you traction. It’s about the raw number of traffic, not the number of posts. So I have a video where I talk about the 80/20 strategy for blog growth. All I mean by that is focus on topics that have a high traffic potential. Would it be better to have one post that drives 5,000 visits a month, or five posts that drive 1,000 visit a month in terms of the ease of creation, right? I’d rather push the easy lever where I could do a little bit less work and have more traffic. I’m always looking for that 80/20 principle and then multiplying that. So it’s not a quantity game. So that’s what I would say, right? You don’t have to go into this thinking, oh, I’ve got to blog every day or once a week, or even once a month. I could be four posts a year as long as you’re doing them very well targeted and very high quality.

Dan Shure:
To the first point, like I said before, I don’t try to sell to the unsellable. So, for me I found a motivation other than, oh like the lead, that might be the light at the end of the tunnel. For me the motivation was getting content out there and networking with my peers. Because another thing happened with that, that wasn’t a direct lead, but by writing blog posts like I did in early 2012. I wrote a bunch of blog posts at the beginning of 2012 that got on the radar of Rand Fishkin for Moz, Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive, a bunch of people in the SEO space. They sent me referrals because they saw the content that I was blogging and they really liked what they saw. So that’s another way to get referrals without having to wait for traffic. Is if you write content that your peer see and it’s the type of industry where referrals happen a lot, that’d be another way to get leads. But for me, it was really having another intrinsic motivation that I just wanted to do it. To get out there with my peers.

Liston Witherhill:
Let’s take a quick turn here. So Dan, you obviously are great at getting traffic. You’re an established podcaster and you have a lot of attention coming into you and your business. I’m curious, at the same time I see that you’re not scaling your business or really trying to build a large team. How do you think about the right size and why have you avoided too much growth?

Dan Shure:
It’s a very personal question. I think it comes down to that. So we did hire an employee for about 18 months. For a little while, I thought I might head down that path of becoming a five or 10 person agency. Though the experience of having an employee, I’ve realized that just personally it wasn’t really for me. I felt uncomfortable. I felt as if I wasn’t necessarily a great leader. I’m more comfortable being collaborative with people, that’s why I like working with clients, but not so much being a boss. So, I think really just because of that personal element of it for me, we rolled back and the company is now just my wife and myself, a two person company. That’s probably the biggest reason why I have not grown, is a personal reason, but I think to make it relevant for everyone else.

Dan Shure:
So I think a lot of people scale because they think it’s going to grow their income, quite honestly. They think, oh, I’m going to hire and this person is going to do what I was doing for 50% of the cost, whatever it is. And they think, I’m just going to rake in all that extra cash. And I actually think the opposite is how you scale income. I actually think that by getting really good at doing a few core things and refining your process, refining your literally your templates, all of your deliverables around those few things, that’s how you scale financially in my opinion. That’s what I’ve seen. I think if people want to scale, because they think it’s going to get them more income. You might want to second guess that. I think you can get more income without scaling.

Dan Shure:
But I think if you have other motivation to scale, because you want to lead, you want to have employees, you want to run a company, you want to build a culture, those are great reasons to scale in my opinion. The people that are best at owning an agency are the ones that really, really love having their team and being the one to grow that and to help nurture their employees. So I think if you’re doing it for money it’s probably the wrong reason. That’s what I’ve seen as well.

Liston Witherhill:
I totally agree with that, because I think there’s lots of opportunities, especially now as cheap as it is to sell a course or bottle up any information you have that could be sold and is extremely valuable, but you don’t necessarily need to be there to deliver every single time and to every type of client. I think there’s lots of opportunity. I think you’ve done a course on Conversion XL or somewhere. Tell us about that.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, two years ago. I’ve known Peep Laja there for many years. He was one of the first people I followed in the CRO space before his blog was big. And yeah, he asked me to do one. I think it was the first course they ever did actually, it was their course. I did eight weeks on SEO and Jonathon Dane from Client Boost did eight weeks on PPC. And yeah, it was a lot of fun. Again, I think if you’re a consultant or you’ve got a small agency, if you haven’t done a lot of teaching or doing a course, I highly recommend doing it, because for me the interesting thing is, I like to teach, so that was great. But, it resulted in a lot of other things I didn’t expect. Number one, out of that course came actually a bunch of templates and deliverables that I still use for clients now. So I have an SEO content creation checklist that I give to almost every client. I customize it for them a little bit. But that was one big thing that came out of it.

Dan Shure:
The other thing that came out of it, is I became a lot better of a practitioner. They always say if you want to learn something teach it. So, by teaching some fairly complex SEO things in this course, I became much better at it, because I had an understanding at a new level and so I think even if you don’t want to teach all the time, I’d recommend anybody to do a little bit of teaching or do a course or two, because the other benefits that come from it are really huge.

Liston Witherhill:
Yeah, I totally agree with you and one of the challenges in teaching a course is you’re not going to be there in the event that they don’t get it. Or it’s not clear. So you really have to double, triple, quadruple check everything and just ask yourself over and over again, is this making sense? Is it the right level of information? Is this graphic clear? Do these slides, are they self-evident? All of those kinds of questions, I think I totally agree with you, make you better at your job.

Dan Shure:
And interestingly to me, sales and teaching are like cousins. They’re almost the same thing. Whenever I feel like I’m not doing a good job selling a new client, I just switch to teacher. I turn open a join.me link and I start showing them things. That nine time out of 10 turns somebody around.

Liston Witherhill:
Well and I would say it’s not only teaching, but it’s demonstrating. So I could tell you I’m the best at this. I have the most experience. I have the best quality, which is usually how consultants or service businesses sell themselves. However, if you just forget all of that crap and show people, here’s how I think about these problems and here’s how I might approach it if we were to work together. That is so much more illustrative of your experience than anything you could say about it.

Dan Shure:
Yep. Exactly. I’ll show potential new clients deliverables that I’ve done, like older ones. I try not to hide anything when I do that, because I think they really appreciate having the curtain lifted, especially in SEO when everyone feels like they’re being hidden from something. That, it works so well, just to show an actual deliverable, or show a result or open up analytics or something. So yeah.

Liston Witherhill:
Is there ever a time when you feel like you might be giving away too much during your sales process?

Dan Shure:
I have given away too much. So a quick funny story. I did a sales call about a year ago with a potential new client. I walked them through my content strategy. They did not hire me. Two months later, I saw a post on LinkedIn that was talking about, oh you don’t need SEO. You can just publish great content and blah, blah, blah. I stopped and I’m like, “Wait a second. I know that name.” I searched my email and it was the founder of this company I talked to two months earlier. And I gave them my content strategy process. Like my philosophy. I go to their blog and I see they used a couple of the ideas I gave them. They were kind of using some of the things I told them in the sales process. But here he is on LinkedIn saying, “Oh, you don’t need SEO, Blah, blah, blah.” Yet they just emailed me two months prior to that saying, “We really need SEO. We need to grow our blah, blah, blah.” And then they were using the steps.

Dan Shure:
So yeah, I mean, I’ve seen it first hand. It makes you stop and think, should I give away this much stuff? Should I kind of hold back a little bit? I just go back to not holding back. I just feel like you’re going to win in the end, in the long term. You can view that as short loss, but I see other wins come from that, that sort of outweighed those short term loses.

Liston Witherhill:
I would contend and obviously I have no idea who you’re talking about, though I’m so curious. But I won’t ask you, but I would content, that person was probably never really in the market to hire you. They were probably doing a research project and they were trying to extract as much out of you and everyone else that took the time to talk to them as possible. I think it’s a mistake then to say, “Okay, well I’m not going to give anything away.” And I know you haven’t said that Dan, but I think about giving away what I know in two different ways.

Liston Witherhill:
One is people will always pay for implementation. So I can give away all of my best thinking, but the people who really want to sit down and apply it, are still going to have the question, great, but what do I do about it. How do I make this work for my business? Then the second thing is, I could publish a series of 60 podcasts that contain everything that I know about selling and marketing and thought leadership, like full stop, right? It’s everything. But if I package that into a video course with worksheets and videos and interviews and maybe bonus content, that’s a totally different animal that’s more helpful, more structured, and that packaging adds a significant amount of value. So implementation and packaging I think are both huge arguments to not hold back what you know because the way it’s delivered and the way it’s applied are both enormous factors in how people will buy your service.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, absolutely.

Liston Witherhill:
Did I talk you out of an answer there?

Dan Shure:
No. Not at all. I was just chuckling, thinking about how people do that. I mean, I’ve seen it a lot. Where you know somebody is calling a bunch of different SEO companies and just piecing together the advice. Actually if remember when this happened, part of what I sent them was an email and a video where I actually have on video what I’m showing them and then it’s on their blog having not hired me and them saying on LinkedIn that you don’t need SEO, yet I’d made them a video of what to do, so.

Liston Witherhill:
Well Dan, I think we can all agree, that’s a dick move on their part and karma will call to collect the debt at some point.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, I think so.

Liston Witherhill:
Yeah, absolutely. When I think about packaging, I think it’s such a crucial thing. So you go on the podcast and you do interviews and you probably give away some of what you know through the process of your interview’s just like I do. And I do a solo post every Monday, but having it delivered in such a way, where it’s targeting a specific outcome, it’s so different. So dear listener, don’t hold back. Say what you know. The reward is much, much greater than the cost.

Liston Witherhill:
Dan, you have been wonderfully helpful. Wonderfully open. Certainly some people here listening to this right now are going to want to learn more about you and contact you. What should they do?

Dan Shure:
I’m most reachable on Twitter. Dan_Shure. I do have Direct Messages open, although I don’t always see all of them. But if you at me, I will 99% of the time reply. So if you have a quick question or you just want to say hello or whatever, that’s where I’m most accessible. Then I think my podcast is probably the second place. One thing I’m kicking myself almost three years later is that I named my podcast something different than my business. So I still see a lot of people calling it the Evolving SEO podcast, and so my actual podcast name is Experts on the Wire.

Liston Witherhill:
Oh, no. I did it wrong. Sorry about that.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, but you and half of the other people. And I even asked a couple of close colleague friend of mine in the SEO space what he thought of the name. He replied with a meme that was just a thumbs down. So, it was clear. But I named it that because to me, the wire is a physical representation of digital communication. That’s what SEO and digital marketing is to me. So I was trying to be all clever. In hindsight, maybe I would have just called it the Evolving SEO podcast, because keep it simple. But Experts on the Wire, or evolvingseo.com/wire. You can find the podcast there and we’re in Spotify now and iTunes and all the podcast places. So yeah, Twitter and the podcast. Then you’re welcome to follow me on LinkedIn too, it’s just I think Evolving Dan, or just find me by searching Dan Shure on LinkedIn. I try to post useful things in there like three or four times a week. Like new SEO tools or articles that I think will be helpful or the occasional tip or strategy as well.

Liston Witherhill:
And it’s Dan Shure, S-H-U-R-E, like the microphone Shure.

Dan Shure:
Like the microphone, yeah. No relation unfortunately.

Liston Witherhill:
Oh, too bad. You could have got some free gear maybe.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, nope. Not this time.

Liston Witherhill:
All right Dan. Well thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Dan Shure:
Yeah, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

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