Jeremiah Smith is founder of SimpleTiger, an SEO company that focuses on SaaS companies. This episode is going to kick off a miniseries about SEO and I’m happy that Jeremiah is starting it off. He offers so much incredible advice about SEO and life in general. I love his story, and I think you will too.
Check out my new show, Creator Toolkit and join our Facebook community. Question of the week: What’s the best piece of SEO advice you’ve ever gotten? Let me know on Twitter at @jcasabona or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intro: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 90(!!) of How I Built It. In today’s episode I get to talk to Jeremiah Smith, founder of SimpleTiger. This episode is going to kick off a miniseries about SEO and I’m happy that Jeremiah is starting it off. He offers so much incredible advice about SEO and life in general. I love his story, and I think you will too. We’ll get to all of that and more, but first…
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Joe Casabona: Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” Today my guest is Jeremiah Smith of SimpleTiger. Jeremiah, how are you today?
Jeremiah Smith: I’m doing awesome. Thanks for having me on the show.
Joe: Thanks for being on the show. I really appreciate it. When you guys reached out, when your company reached out there were a few suggested topics. And I think we’re just going to talk about how you created a SimpleTiger today, is that right?
Jeremiah: Yes sir.
Joe: So why don’t we start off with who you are and what you do, and how you came up with the idea?
Jeremiah: Sure. My name is Jeremiah. I’ve been in the SEO industry now for about 12 years, and I pretty much discovered SimpleTiger. It was a marketing agency where I used to offer a whole bunch of different services. From building websites, to designing logos, to actually even printing business cards. I did everything. I thought I could do everything, at least. And I stumbled across Search Engine Optimization through building a website for a client. And after building their website, showing it to them, and they’re like, “This is awesome.” And then a day later they’re like, “OK. Can we get it in Google?”
And I just thought that it was filling out a web form and submitting it to Google, and then you’re done. But I didn’t even realize there’s a whole industry underneath that has so much to do with keeping your site to show up well on Google. So when I discovered that I was immediately like, “This is intriguing. I want to do this for this client. But I can’t really sell this yet.” But they agreed to have me do it as a full-time job for them so long as it worked.
That was their thing. They were just focused on results. And so I had this immediate desire to start learning SEO by doing it. But my goal was obviously to yield results for this client. So that’s when I dove in and it actually worked extremely well. Their company grew massively in a matter of six months and I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe what I had just learned. And I knew that if I’d just done all of this by learning it, imagine if I knew how to do it and was able to do it for clients.
So I parlayed that into a career in SEO, and went to work for some big ad agencies, and really learned how the big boys do what I do now. That started this side business of SimpleTiger being focused on SEO and consulting, and just got rid of all the other junk I used to do. Building websites, designing logos, printing business cards. All that had to go. I wanted to focus on a SEO. So that is where SimpleTiger was born.
In those days though it was a consulting company, where I didn’t have the personnel to do campaigns for all these huge clients. So I just spent my time consulting them. And that was pretty much how it started.
Joe: Cool. Very cool. Learning by doing is something that I preach all the time. And I’ve said to people, to make them feel better, “You never learn something as well as if you break a client’s site and then have to fix it.” I have always learned the best that way, or at least the fastest.
So what was it like, learning by doing, as far as SEO goes? Because you don’t necessarily see results right away. If I write a line of code and it breaks, I see immediately that it breaks. But with SEO it’s a little bit of a longer game, right?
Jeremiah: Yeah it is. And that was a bit of a challenge. Now what’s awesome is when I was learning SEO, 2006 through 2007, that was the very beginning for me. So when I was learning, those days SEO was much easier than it is today. The tools at your disposal were really good. The stuff that Google gave you access to in regards to keyword data, and things like that, were fantastic. In those days you could you could change a title tag on the website and immediately start ranking better.
That’s totally different nowadays. It’s much harder to rank in Google nowadays. And so I actually was blessed to have that, because it was a good teacher. It allowed me to quickly learn things in those days. But you’re right. SEO does take a little while to take effect. And sometimes that can be a challenge especially when you’re trying to learn something.
So the hard part for me in those days is probably knowing exactly what to do. I didn’t have the experience to filter out what I was reading from what might work and what might not. Nowadays I have that experience and I can quickly tell what I need to do. But that was probably the hardest part in those early days.
Joe: Gotcha. That’s really interesting. That makes a lot of sense, and it was probably easier back then. Because I know when I made my first website I would get links and I would get e-mails all the time, “I’ll trade you link for a link.” And that was the strategy in 2003.
But I mean, 2006-2007 is when Twitter started and then a few years later it started to get big. And the Google algorithm changes quarterly. And because it changes so quickly, what kind of research do you do to stay on top of SEO? I know that there are some big names out there. Matt Cutts used to be a big name, and I think Danny Sullivan. I don’t know if he’s still doing that.
Jeremiah: Yeah. He’s still around. And I definitely recommend people follow Danny Sullivan. He actually left Search Engine Land and joined Google, which is really cool. So now we’ve got somebody who is really involved in the SEO community for a very long time on the inside at Google, which is awesome. I love that. Of course he’s limited with what he can talk about, but he does throw us a bone every now and then.
So I will say following him is a great idea. But if you really understand what Google’s “Why” is, why they exist. And you understand their ethos. If you’ve built a relationship with Google over time like I have, then you can to a large degree predict what they’re going to do. You don’t really need to follow all the news and hype so much.
And that’s one of the biggest filters for me, is I look at the commercial interest that Google has and everything they’re going to take a step in. Because Google’s not going to try to quit making money. They’re going to try to make more. We have to keep that in mind as they move and as they operate. And to a large degree what I’ve learned, and this is the big secret that’s not really a secret in the SEO community, but I want everyone to know about this because I think it’s important.
Be authentic with everything that you create. And if you’re always doing that, you’re doing it creatively and you are doing it prolifically, and you’re creating large pieces of content and several of them. And you’re consistent with that. You’re going to have a fantastic future in search, insofar as Google’s concerned. Because their algorithmic updates are looking for your kind of stuff to promote, and other kind of stuff to disappear.
They want a better index. They want better content to wrap their advertising around. They make more money off of that. So keep that in mind as you build things, and then that will help you predict what Google is going to do next.
Joe: Wow, that’s fantastic. It’s almost like if you want to run a TV ad, you’re going to want to run it either during the Super Bowl or a really popular show, and not just any old thing that some smaller network is putting out. Right?
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Jeremiah: Yeah, pretty much. It’s being creative about what you’re doing. But at the same time understanding that you’ve got to provide value at some level. And being creative is interesting because you bring up a great point. Super Bowl ads are your most creative ads all year, and they’re so exciting to watch. I love it. That’s my favorite part of the Super Bowl, actually. It’s awful.
But I remember that, not this past Super Bowl but the one before that. Miller bought a one second spot because a Super Bowl ad costs a hundred thousand dollars per second. And so they bought a one second spot and it was just a guy for the miller factory wearing a Miller shirt standing in the factory with all beer behind him, and he just goes “High life.” And that was it. It was just a one second thing. And it was it went viral, it was so huge. And that was the cheapest Super Bowl commercial of all time, proportionally speaking. That’s a guerrilla technique of being very creative in capturing your audience, who are very occupied.
And I thought that was cool. I really dig that. But when it comes to SEO, there’s a common misconception. And this is another thing that I try to teach and promulgate this throughout the web. But a lot of people compare SEO to advertising. And that’s the worst mistake you can make because it’s so different. If I were to really explain what a SEO is to you, insofar as what we do in Google, it would be reverse engineering another company’s intellectual property– Google– in order to leverage it to your business’ benefit. So it’s really strange. It’s not advertising.
Joe: Right. I mean, you can throw money at advertising reasonably, and eventually do well. If you have an unlimited amount of money for Google or Facebook ads, eventually you’ll start to convert. But SEO, you need to actually understand the problem that you’re trying to solve. I mean, “optimization” is in the acronym.
Jeremiah: Absolutely. And the funny thing for us has actually been, I would say the hardest challenge for me growing this business over time, has been pricing things appropriately. And the reason being that our inputs are pretty much the same almost no matter what client we work with, because there are certain things that have to happen every single time. Content has to happen. Links have to happen. Things like that. Of course there are more difficult industries than others, but we’ve niched down over time and we figured out our target market.
Because of that, everything looks the same. Almost every campaign we get into there are the nuances and the differences there, but because of that I can build a pricing model that works for what we do. But what’s crazy is what comes out the other end for the client is vastly different in regards to scale and in their industry. So with advertising, that’s not quite the case. Advertising’s got a flat fee for pretty much flat return.
Whereas with SEO, you can scale dramatically. Of course it might be expensive in the beginning when you’re spending $5,000 bucks a month and you’re not getting a lot of results out of it. But a year from now, you might have so much business coming from search that we’ve actually had some clients tell us we have to stop working with you for a little while. Because we’ve got to re-engineer parts of our company to handle the business we’re getting. And that just shows you what kind of power is in SEO.
Joe: Wow. And again it lays credibility to the fact that it’s a long game. I think a lot of people in general believe that the internet could be a get rich quick scheme. Like, “I’ll set up a site. I’ll start a Kickstarter, I’ll start making money. I’ll just SEO my site and I’ll start making money.” But it’s a game of patience.
And I fell into that trap too, when I started my online courses I was like, “I’ll release a course and people will buy it, because people want to learn this.” No, not at all. Why would somebody buy a product from me if they don’t know me? So that’s really interesting. I also like to ask if you’re the mastermind, if you get business advice from folks. And I do want to hear the answer to that question.
But I’m also interested in the discovery process for a client, because you come up with a pricing package, but you said the results could be so different. What kind of stuff do you look for? Do your clients know what they’re looking for when they first come in? Or do they just say, “I want to be number one in Google.” what’s it like?
Jeremiah: Good question. I love that question. I can go deeper on that. It took us a long time to develop the new process that we have for client intake, but this new process is fantastic. We do something in the very beginning that I recommend, pretty much any company that’s offering a service, even down to just building a website. Highly recommend you do. And it’s basically just an intro phase to a project. We call it an opportunity assessment.
With SEO, we’re going to assess your opportunity in regards to search. A lot of SEO companies out there do something similar, but they don’t do anything quite like we do. And there are few agencies that do. And what I see them do it works so well. So we jumped on board with this. The opportunity assessment allows us to check all the different areas that are going to impact them from a SEO perspective, and see how they stack up. Where their strengths and their weaknesses are.
Because what I don’t want to do is try to take some cookie cutter approach to every client and say, “You always need technical optimization. You always need new content. You always need links.” While that may be true that they will always need some amount of those, those proportions may vary dramatically. We’ll deal with some client websites where from a technical perspective, the thing’s built on WordPress, they’ve got all the right plugins, it loads really fast, it’s very clean and smooth. Good user interface.
They don’t really need any technical optimization. Let’s not sell them that. Let’s say, “A lot of companies do need technical optimization. But you guys check off that box, so we’re not going to invoice you for that. Moving on into content. You might need a little bit of content. But where you guys really need help is in your links area.” So we’re going to do a proposal that’s heavy on the links side of things, that’s medium on content and doesn’t include technical. But that’s our full suite.
The opportunity assessment allows us to see all that ahead of time. Now what’s different for us, and we have strong business reasons for doing this. We charge for the opportunity assessment, whereas a lot of companies do it for free. We used to do those for free. But what I found, and this is a nugget that I’m giving your listeners here. What I found is you’ll get a ton of tire kickers coming through and people that want to get this assessment for free. And Our assessment carries some value in it.
When we do that technical chunk, we list the top 10 things that could go wrong from a technical perspective and whether or not they’re wrong on the client’s site. And then we dive into some content strategy and we dive into some offsite strategy. We’re actually providing value in this. So first of all, we charge for that. But second of all it limits the amount of people who are trying to get this free opportunity assessment, down to the ones who are serious and they’re ready to invest in SEO.
And what’s crazy is we charge $200 bucks for our opportunity assessment, which is super-duper cheap compared to the $10,000 dollar Phase 1 project that we’re going to do next. But what that does is that warms them up with a buying relationship with us, and then when it comes to the proposal they’re so much more ready to continue working with us. Because we already feel like we’re engaged in a business relationship. So it works really well for that.
Joe: Very cool. I love that. Because you’re right. You do get a lot of tire kickers. It’s like the people who say, “Design me something, and if I like it I’ll pay for it.” Like, OK. “Give me a meal and if I like it, I’ll pay for the meal.”
Jeremiah: Right. You got all the time in the world.
Joe: Yeah, right. And $200 bucks, to be honest, is not a very high barrier. But it definitely weeds people out. My friend Erin Flynn recently changed her membership model. She used to have this free membership area that she decided that she was going to charge $12 dollars a year for. And what that did was weed out the trolls. The people who were just there, not providing value, being jerks to the community. And she immediately saw an increase in the community, because $12 dollars a year is not a lot of money.
If people answer one question that you post, you have that value. But the people who don’t want to spend any money and get all the free advice are the ones bringing the community down. When I was at Crowd Favorite we did the same thing with that, we charged for the discovery phase because we put real resources into it. We didn’t just look at the website and go, “I think you need this.”
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Jeremiah: Right. We noticed a couple of immediate things that happened after doing that. The first thing that happened was, first of all my sales were up. I spent probably about a third of the amount of time doing opportunity assessments, because now I don’t have a ton of people signing up for these free assessments.
The second thing was our close rate from opportunity assessments increased dramatically, from 20% to 70% to 80%. And it was like, “Heck yeah. Now we’re getting somewhere.” And then the third thing was what you just said. The quality of clientele that we started getting was fantastic, and the retention rates were so much better because we put them through a strict vetting process before we ever began a serious relationship with them. Figuring out all that stuff in the beginning, because SEO is quite frankly, and I hate to say it but It’s very complex.
There’s a lot to a good search engine optimization campaign. I’m not saying smoke and mirrors, I’m just saying there are a lot of things to it that need to be figured out ahead of time. And doing that allows us to figure out a lot of that, instead of just the right campaign for them. To where when we pitch that campaign, and we walk them through the parts that we’re recommending, it all just makes sense. And then they understand, they know, they learn something in the process and they’re ready to buy.
Joe: again, that’s fantastic. I keep saying the same thing over and over again. But you’re making a lot of really good points.
Jeremiah: Oh, good.
Joe: I just thought of a random question that you probably get a lot. This is maybe not usually what I ask, but it is very complex. We talk a lot about Google. Google is always the one that you’re optimizing for. Do you optimize for other search engines? Or is it basically, “I’ve optimized for Google, so I’m pretty much optimized for everything else.”
Jeremiah: Great question. I love this. Side note here, I’m actually teaching at the University of South Florida. I’m teaching senior level marketing students. I taught a class last night, it’s a nice three hour class to give them a deep dive into search engine optimization. And in that class, I got the same question. And I said, “When I’m teaching this stuff and when I’m working with clients, 99% of the time it’s Google. They are the 600 pound gorilla.
And in regards to general commercial web search purposes. But when we really take a step back, Search Engine Optimization is agnostic from a platform perspective. It will work in Amazon. It will work in the Apple iTunes store. If you’ve got a podcast, or you’ve got an app or a song, that kind of stuff. It will actually take effect there. Heck, even an eBay SEO works. So it’s amazing.
I’ve seen eBay stores do really well by having a good SEO strategy for the eBay platform. Everything that applies to Google in regards to how you optimize for Google, does not necessarily apply to Amazon or eBay, of course. Because in Amazon we’re not talking about websites anymore, we’re talking about listings or product listings that you’ve created, and stuff like that. So different rules to the game but the same concept still exists there. But to answer your question, yeah, what we do is primarily for Google.
Joe: Gotcha. Cool. Sweet, I mean we are more than halfway through, I can’t believe how fast this interview is going. And I haven’t gotten into the title question yet. So let’s do that. We’ve talked about SimpleTiger, we’ve talked a bit about strategy and things like that. But how did you build SimpleTiger?
Jeremiah: Oh man. That’s a fun story. I mentioned at the beginning there how I did SEO for the one client and then decided that was that was it for me. I wanted to do that full time. I cut out everything else and focused in on SEO, put that on my resume. Knew that at the time I couldn’t just build an agency out of nothing, I didn’t have anything. I didn’t know how to build an agency. I didn’t know how to run an agency, I didn’t even know how to work at an agency.
So I thought, “I need to go work in an agency and really see if this is it for me.” So I got a job at a huge agency in Atlanta called 360i. And I love those guys, to this day they’re fantastic. They’re huge movers and shakers in the enterprise SEO space. And all of my clients there were Fortune 500 companies. Every single one of them. They were just massive. And I got to see how SEO works on that grand scale. And I quickly learned, that everything is exactly the same for them as it was for that little tiny mom and pop shop that I got my start with. It’s just scaled up.
If it’s content that needs to be created, they create more content. If it’s links that need to be built, they build more links. But the same rules still apply. The same techniques still happen. So I got to learn that and then do that for a lot of huge clients, and while doing that I’ve built my consulting practice on nights and weekends. Just consulting smaller businesses that would never fit 360-I’s budget, that kind of thing.
And over time I just built a bit of notoriety in the community for that. And then eventually I decided to venture off on my own. This was right around 2008-2009 when the economy got really tough, advertising was the first to go. So there was all kinds of shuffling around. I got let go from 360i because We had a lot of SEO people there and everything.
And I was so, at the moment, checked out and checked in to my entrepreneurial idea of building my own thing that it was really a good boost for me. And I’m sure they could probably sense that too, that I was ready to go do something of my own. But they are a really sharp company. They move their people up really well and have a strong tight knit team.
So I left there to go work for another smaller agency, because I still didn’t feel quite ready. And that smaller agency, I brought them an SEO department, basically by building something that they didn’t have there and getting a bunch of clients on board. And that really was where I learned how to take nothing and build an agency out of it, But for someone else. So I had the security blanket of a daily income.
And then I finally hit that that final straw. “I’m totally done working for somebody else, I want to build my own thing. I really want to take SimpleTiger and turn it into an agency.” So I left that last agency there, went off on my own, and that was a little bit terrifying for a moment. But there was actually a deeper, longer term feeling of fear that stuck with me for quite a while. That it was all on me. And so I dove straight into consulting and just picking up consulting clients left and right.
In those days I didn’t have a process put together or anything. I was taking anything I could get, in terms of SEO consulting work. And I had some awesome projects, I had some terrible projects. But after a little while I realized I made really good money doing it, but I was working myself to death. I realized, I’m going to have to build a team. I need people who can help me actually produce results and do the SEO stuff, so I can go out and sell it.
And so I brought my brother on full time. He was interested in SEO at the time, and I taught him a little bit about it. He went to work for another agency for a while just like I did. That was my rite of passage for him. I was like, “You’ve got to go through this. It’ll be good for you. You’ll learn it, and then I’ll be able to afford to pay you to work here because then you could pull some weight.”
And that’s exactly what happened. He came in all beefed up ready to go. He knew how to do it. And so we joined forces and took SimpleTiger from a consultancy to an agency, and started hiring employees and actually building a team. And that’s how we got from there to where we are today. Now our evolution as a company since we started hiring a team has been really fun and exciting. Way easier, and sometimes a little painful, but way easier than just being the consultant doing my own thing by myself. I love having a team.
Joe: There are two things I want to parse out here. Right at the beginning of this story You gave an incredible piece of advice that I want to make sure it lands with the listeners and that’s when you said, “I needed to go work at an agency. I needed to get experience in the industry.” Which is very clairvoyant for a young entrepreneurial person, because I was in that very same situation.
I got a piece of advice from a family friend who said, “When you get out of college you need to get a job at a company and learn how they do things. And then you’ll be ready to go out on your own.” And I being the stubborn New York Italian male that I am, thought, “I know everything. I’ve been doing this since I was 14. What more could I possibly learn at 21?” It was super low risk because I was living at home, I was in grad school for a time.
And it wasn’t until I actually got my first real job that I actually learned, man. I should have listened to that family friend right off the bat. I put myself back maybe two years, or three years. For people who are coming out of college that have the entrepreneurial spirit, you hear about Snapchat and Facebook who get the billion dollar IPOs and they’re college dropouts or whatever. But for most of us, get that experience and make those connections.
Joe: And that’s the other question I wanted to ask you, is that you went to a smaller agency after 360i and built out their SEO department. Did you bring your clients with you, or did you start from scratch there?
Jeremiah: Started from scratch there. There’s a huge thing in the agency space, and I didn’t have any real strict non-competes or anything like that in those days. But there was definitely a respectful line, where it is just like, you don’t do that. And I didn’t want to hurt my name at all. I really wanted to keep my relationships with everyone at 360i fantastic. It was purely a logistical reason that I got let go during that whole downturn, and so I wanted to keep those relationships healthy.
Because later on they ended up sending me business. Because believe it or not, 360i’s minimum budgets are massive, and sometimes they’d have some really cool companies come through and they’d refer them over to me and I was able to build my agency based on my past agency relationships. So that was awesome. But I think that’s one big part of it.
What you just said though, about getting a job in the industry, and all that. That is so huge. Because that one year that I did that, I mean it was just one year that I worked at 360i. It wasn’t a really long time. But I learned so much in that one year, I learned several things that I needed to do for my SEO agency. And then I learned a few things that I would probably never do for my agency by working there. And it’s nothing against 360i.
It was just learning my style and figuring out what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to build, versus what there already was out there. And I decided I wanted to build a boutique agency that grows very small, very slowly, very steadily. Very small amount of people that yield massive results. Whereas 360i was not lean. They were huge, we had a ton of people. But we also offered a lot of services outside of SEO.
And I really just wanted to focus on search engine optimization, and also just wanted one niche category of clientele. Because I learned that’s a fantastic way to make money. And I’ve only practiced that over the past year or so and it’s really paying off. I recommend people out there pick a niche. I saw you had a previous podcast of niching down, and I think that’s so powerful. Not enough people do that. But that was something I couldn’t do at 360i.
We had so many huge clients and so many diverse industries, it just didn’t make sense. So I learned all kinds of stuff through that experience and that relationship. And I also learned how to just deal with massive companies, and how at the end of the day, they’re all the same. The numbers might be a little bit different but don’t let that kind of stuff sway you. Continue doing your job based on what you need to do. And you can move the needle for a company as big as NBC or E-Trade. You don’t really have to get bent out of shape over the fact that they’re huge, or anything that. Don’t let that scare you.
Joe: Wow. Great advice. And I will link to the Sarah Dunn episode of niching down. I think that is more excellent advice, especially in software engineering. We call that “domain knowledge.” We want to have domain knowledge of the software system we’re building so that we can build a better system. We understand the users, and our user’s users. Understanding the industry and having that domain knowledge allows you to offer a better service, because you come in knowing a little bit, or maybe a lot, about what your clients need right off the bat. And you can ask those questions that a generalist might not know to ask.
Jeremiah: Right. And that’ll definitely help you close that business well, but that will also help you market your business well. So if we’re talking about search engine optimization again, and it’s for your company and you’ve chosen a niche. Let’s say for example, you’re a software as a service company, and you’re building a piece of software that’s maybe a piece of invoicing software. But your invoicing software just so happens to work best for maybe other software companies, and that’s the niche that you’ve decided to go after.
Now let’s just imagine for a second that you didn’t decide to go after that niche. The keywords that you would write would be things like, “invoicing software.” And you get to compete with the Intuits of the world with QuickBooks and FreshBooks and Zero and all those big names. But if you are invoicing software for software companies, the game changes a little bit. Your key word targeting is going to be software-based or “Software-focused invoicing software,” or “Invoicing software for SaaS,” or something along those lines.
And now your key word pool’s a lot smaller and your target audience is a lot smaller, but they are much more likely to do business with you because of that level of targeting and because of that domain knowledge, like you’re talking about, that you have. I don’t want to go too deep into that. I know you have a separate episode all about niching down, but I would just like to also throw my two cents in that, “Yes, it is very valuable, and it works really well.” Highly recommend it.
Joe: Fantastic. So you told your story and it was a lot of transformation. And we’re totally coming up on time here. I do want to ask you what your plans for the future are. Is it keep an eye on the pulse of SEO? Is AMP going to affect the way you do things? What are your plans for the future?
Jeremiah: Good question. There’s so much about the future of SEO, and that was my finishing statement to my class last night at USF. That was the one thing they wanted to know. “You’ve taught us everything up to now, what’s going to happen in the future?” And that’s such a fun question for me to answer. Because I love theorizing about this stuff. But I will say in regards to SEO looking forward, there’s a bunch of stuff going on that I think your listeners might be interested in hearing a little bit about from someone experienced, like myself, on the subject.
Just so they don’t get swayed by a lot of the hype. And I want to clarify this. Voice search is a big thing that’s happening right now. People are concerned about what that means. People are using the Amazon device, which I can’t say her name right now. She’s listening, and she’ll start talking to me and ruin the whole thing. But there’s that, and then we’ve got the Google’s home device and stuff like that, that are always listening. And those devices, in regards to voice search, those devices are primarily going to help you answer simple questions that just have a very clear black and white answer to them.
They don’t have as much commercial intent capability yet that’s being leveraged. As people I think assume will dominate, I personally don’t think I’m going to be buying a whole lot of products through my Amazon device. That’s just me. But I prefer to look at some things and read a little bit about it, and then click the buy button. Something about that process, actually I literally enjoy doing. So I don’t want a break from that too much, and I think a lot of people are actually a lot more like that.
We have to keep in mind that voice is just an input method, like the keyboard and mouse. It’s just another way of entering in a search query. And then the result that you get, if it’s not going to be on a screen, if it’s going to be vocal then it’s got to make sense to come through that medium. So just keep that in mind. Don’t let the news and hype about voice search throw you off, that “SEO is going to die because voice search is going to take over.” No, there’s going to be a whole new level to it there.
And that’s what that means. It’s going to filter out a lot of the garbage search from what you want, most likely. That’s one part. Another part gets into artificial intelligence, which I don’t have time to go over there. But I wouldn’t worry about that either. Just refer to my first note on SEO which is just be authentic in what you create. Create really good stuff for humans.
Artificial intelligence will learn that and will keep up and you’ll be fine. So those are a couple of things about the future of search. Insofar as my agency is concerned, and growing SimpleTiger, again my goals are just to keep it a boutique agency and focus on delivering the best results for our clients that we can. I don’t have any plans to just blow it out of the water. Of course I do want to see massive growth. I don’t want to grow so fast that it’s a flash in the frying pan experience for us and we have to shut down. That’s something that I fear. So I would rather just grow steadily and healthfully and always be around. So those are my plans for the future.
Joe: I dig that, and I appreciate and I’m sure a lot of the listeners appreciate you not saying the bigger names for the At Home Smart Devices. Awesome. And we’ll leave with this, though I think you just gave us a bunch. Do you have any trade secrets for us?
Jeremiah: I would say a lot of your listeners are probably very tech savvy, and in that regard when we do SEO we break everything down into technical, content, and off site.
And off site usually means link building. Your audience is probably going to be strong on the technical side of things and doesn’t need to do much technical optimization. I’m just going to assume that right out. So because of that I would focus on the meat and potatoes of SEO, which really are building good quality content that’s very user specific, it’s very audience specific. It answers their pain points.
So build that content on your site, and then go get links to that content from other relevant sites. Whether those are blogs or publications on the web, or friends’ websites or whatever. Get links back to that content and you will perform well on SEO. I can guarantee it. That’s the best course of action. And that’s something that you should constantly be doing. I would try my best to plan out some content in advance so that when you start working at it, you don’t have to stop.
Google likes to see fresh content and you will to see it when you start realizing that every blog article you stack up, if it’s part of a plan, brings a new chunk of visitors to your site that are keyword targeted and ready to buy from you. So every time you stack one of those up you’re just compounding the amount of traffic and business you’re ultimately going to get. I’d recommend that your audience just focus on building content, and building links to that content and They’ll do well.
Joe: Focus on building content. Awesome. Now I like to end with that question, but I can’t leave this follow up on the table. Which is, is there some magic publishing schedule? Three blog posts a week? Do I need to blog daily? Or is it just consistent, Good stuff?
Jeremiah: Tim Fair said something fantastic a while back. He said, “What is better? The strict diet that you will not adhere to, or the less strict diet that you will adhere to?” And I love that advice. So come up with a schedule that is not so strict that you won’t adhere to it, but is strict enough that you can handle it. I think that’s fantastic. Now on the opposite end of that, people like Nick Eubanks who are colleagues of mine and have been in SEO forever.
They’ll post case studies where they spent months developing lots of high quality content without publishing any of it. And then one day they’ll publish a hundred articles all at once, and they’ll publish all this stuff. And this is tests that he’s doing in the SEO industry. And he’ll show going from zero to 100,000 monthly search visitors in the span of like a month, after launching the site with all this new content on it.
So Google’s very sharp. Google can quickly determine what’s going on. A lot of crazy things can happen in Google very fast. And he was testing the edges of that. So you’re not going to publish content too quick for Google, I’ll tell you that. When in doubt, if you can publish faster, if you can publish more, do it. But not at the sake or at the cost of quality.
Because that is a big algorithmic indicator, is quality content that people are really going to digest. So longer form articles that go deeper into subjects and provide lots of steps and how to’s, and have some rich media with images, and some video links and stuff like that. That’s going to do way better than a 500 word article on a subject. So keep that in mind too.
Joe: Great advice. I think I’m going to have to change my content strategy a little bit right after we get off this call. Jeremiah, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Jeremiah: Awesome. I really enjoyed it and I appreciate the show. I love what you’re working on here, and I was just happy to be a part of it. So thank you.
Joe: Great. Thanks so much. And where can people find you?
Jeremiah: Sure. At SimpleTiger.com. You can also find me on Twitter. Twitter handles are @SimpleTiger, as well as myself, @JeremiahCSmith. So hit me up with any questions or anything, I’d be happy to answer questions for your audience anytime.
Outro: I’m so grateful that Jeremiah and I were connected because this interview helped me frame my content strategy, at a time where I needed it. His advice about needed to work in the industry first was some of the best advice I got in college, which I never took. I’m glad Jeremiah did, and I’m glad I eventually did.
And Thanks again to our sponsors Pantheon, Traitware, and GravityView. Their support is deeply appreciated.
The question of the week for you is what’s the best piece of SEO advice you’ve ever gotten? Let me know on Twitter at @jcasabona or email me, email@example.com.
For all of the show notes, head over to howibuilt.it/90/. If you like the show, head over to Apple Podcasts and leaving us a rating and review. It helps people discover us! You can also join the Facebook community over at howibuilt.it/facebook/. I want to build a strong community for this podcast, and Facebook is the place to do it. Finally, if you’re interested in the different tools and services I use to build websites, check out my new podcast, Creator Toolkit over at creatortoolkit.com.
And until next time, get out there and build something!