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Mark: Hello, this is Mark Mitchell from Whizard Strategy. Welcome to this episode of Building Materials Sales and Marketing podcast and today we’re going to talk about search engine optimization, SEO, and how to get more people to get come to your website and how to increase your traffic and use that as a competitive advantage. If you’re the big guy, how you can be even more effective and if you’re a small guy, how do you can kind of outsmart and out think the big guy rather than trying to outspend him.
Frequently when I work with clients, we sit down and go through their marketing budget and I will see this lined item called SEO and I’ll say, “What’s this?” And they’ll say, “Oh, that’s our SEO budget. We have a firm that does our SEO and it cost this much per month” and I say to them, “And what are they doing for you?” And they go, “Well, we have to have an SEO firm. If we didn’t, oh my gosh and they send these reports,” and I kind of look at them and I’m like what are they really doing here, okay. You know I wonder what would happen if you didn’t have them. Would the world end? Is there a smarter way to go about this?
And that got me curious about when I saw this so frequently where I felt people were incorrectly using SEO. I’m not saying it’s not important but they were incorrectly using it and it was kind of like a black box where they hired some firm or maybe their agency who told them they needed it and of course, they felt they needed it and so they signed up for but they really didn’t know what they were buying and it seems like the firms don’t do a good job of keeping it simple.
And so, I found a firm here in Boulder, Lead Generation Experts. I found them and I started working with them and I found that we really thought the same way. They are a small firm and they are kind of used to working with smaller clients where they have to think really smart and we started working several years ago on a number of building material companies and it’s been amazing, the results that we’ve gotten together by having a good content and a good SEO strategy and working together.
So today, I have a guest speaker here, Matt Lee, who I call my secret weapon in SEO and I’ve asked Matt to come on and share some of his knowledge and help you do a better job in your SEO area. So Matt, welcome.
Matt: Hi, Mark. Thanks for having me on. I’m really excited to be on here and talk about SEO.
Mark: Okay, well great. Well, let’s you know… I brought up that point about where I see so many building material companies wasting money on SEO. In working with me now and other building material companies, you know what do you see the way they’re wasting money on SEO and what suggestions you have about how they could fix it?
Matt: Sure, yeah. You know I see a handful of ways that they’re kind of wasting their money on SEO when they outsource to certain agencies or when they try to do it in house. I have to say the first one is companies that have a static website, meaning they have a website that doesn’t have or that doesn’t include fresh content or they don’t have a typically have a blog and they’re not producing any new content. That’s pretty tough to actually do SEO the right way and progress your website because one, you’re limited to how many keywords you can target on your website. It’s hard to take up much search engine real estate without more content pieces.
Another reason would be that a blog gives other websites a reason to link your website. We can talk a lot about why that’s important for SEO and also one thing that search engines are starting to do is examine how visitors to your website interact with your website and having good content in a blog helps with those metrics such as average time on site and how many times people click through your pages of your website to other pages and that kind of thing. So that’s one of the big what I would say SEO mind wasters that I see out there just not having a blog.
Another one would be assuming that companies that assume they know what their audience is searching for so you know just taking a wild guess at what customers might be searching for and trying to optimize those on their website and there are tools such as the Google Keyword Planner that’s within the AdWords platform that they can use to kind of get a better understanding of how much search volume a certain keyword have rather than taking a wild guess.
Another one I see and I see this often is the post and pray approach. So this is when you know companies will create a really good content piece or any kind of content piece and they just kind of publish it and maybe they put it on their social media profiles and then that’s kind of the end of it. And if you have a really good content piece, it’s important to take you know a little bit more time with promoting that for instance within let’s say LinkedIn groups or maybe within industry forums or even with some email outreach letting industry publishers know that the content piece actually exist.
Another one would be leading your SEO team whether it’s your in house team or an outsource team of some sort to just fend for themselves. I think that’s really scary when you do that. A lot of times, how most SEO companies work is they will close a deal with your company and then they kind of go off into hiding, right? I mean we’ve seen that many times. They kind of go up into hiding and then they come back with a report and the report that really doesn’t make sense and has a lot of flop to it.
And really instead you should be communicating, you should be you know asking questions understanding what kind of tasks they’re doing on a monthly basis and also getting them involved with some of your other parts of your online marketing efforts. SEO now is starting to really interact with a lot of different digital marketing efforts like email marketing, social media, and etcetera.
And I think the last one that I see is as a link building strategy. When you talk about what link building is share a moment but companies that hire SEO companies that just certainly submit directory listing links and they actually don’t create content to actually generate links to their site and they’re more of a submission based link building team where they just sign up, sign many factors up with directory and that can actually… doing too much that can actually hurt your SEO efforts instead of helping.
Mark: So I think those are all some good thoughts. I want to be clear also to our listeners. One is there are a lot of good SEO firms out there, okay. So we’re not trashing every SEO firm in the world but it seems that building material companies in my opinion too many of them haven’t really moved totally into the online world.
They still see their website as something like a brochure that happens to reside online that every couple of years gets a refresh and when a part number changes, you go in and change that or there’s a new color but for the most part, it’s pretty static and when you’re operating that way, your SEO, you’re really tying your SEO firms hands behind their back and this is where I kind of look to say if the SEO firm isn’t arguing with you about having fresh content, I would question whether or not they are the right SEO firm for you to do because I don’t think you’re probably getting your money’s worth from an SEO firm if you aren’t generating new content. Now…
Matt: I totally agree with that.
Mark: Yeah, and so sometimes you say okay I got my website done, I’ve accurately described my product, how can I refresh the content and one of the most powerful and effective and easy and reasonably priced ways to do it that I found and Matt has helped me also to realize how to optimize is a blog, start a blog and that’s I found a great way to do it. So Matt, why don’t you talk a little bit more if you would about why a building material company needs a blog.
Matt: Right. So we kind of touched on this just a little bit before but one of the primary reasons is if you have a static website, if you only have so many pages to your website, you can really only target so many different search queries or keywords, right. So having a blog allows you to come up with fresh content which then allows you to target additional keywords that your audience is actually searching for and the more you do that, the more search engine real estate in the search results that you’re actually going to take up which is going to a lot more traffic, right.
With SEO, there’s really two primary things that you should be focusing on and one of the things is what happens on your website so creating content to target certain keywords to rank for those keywords and then you should be focusing on what happens off your website that really if that’s hard to control and that’s the link building effort and anytime you get a link from a relevant sort of a website, Google looks at that and that kind of almost like a vote up that your website should probably rank a little bit higher than it does or that they may trust your website a little bit more.
So having a blog gives, it allows you to create content that gives other industry publishers and people that follow you that have websites an actual reason to link to you because if you have great content, people want to reference that and other websites want to reference that content. So that’s huge. It’s really hard to do a really great effective link building campaign without a blog and as I mentioned before too, the blog will help your overall user experience, right. It will help keep visitors stay on your website longer and click through to more pages and all those are signs to Google and other search engines that your website is a trusted source for information in your industry.
Mark: I think that’s a great way to look at it. Now, I want to ask your opinion for a couple of things. So the first one is that if I only had so much money and I had…
Mark: I could afford I thought either SEO or content, I myself would up for content.
Mark: Because I believe content alone, good content alone, will actually do its own SEO. Now it can always be better with the help of an SEO firm that knows what they’re doing and they can help you by suggesting subjects. They can optimize your posts usually better than you can. Even if you think you know what you’re doing, they usually know better but I think the number, the most important thing to me out of this that we’re talking about is good content and do you agree with that?
Matt: I do agree. I think there’s really no… they’re not really doing any kind of SEO efforts, any kind of good SEO effort without good content, without great content and without frequent content. So I would agree with that. That’s kind of the cornerstone nowadays within the past if you send off do you like that but with the recent algorithm changes with the search engines, content plays a much greater role with SEO. So yeah, it all really starts with good content and the right type of content.
Mark: Now, the next thing is I look and say if I am the largest siding company or door company, I should be high on the first page of doors for example or residential doors, replacement doors, whatever those mean search terms, I better be up there.
Mark: Okay. Now if I’m the number three, four or five brand, I’m constantly… I think I want those search terms but I have to, they’re going to be hard for me to outperform the big guy and so I may if I really want that, I might have to resort to pay per click in order to get at the top of the page. And so one of the ways that I found and you and I have worked together on this before is I think you called it long tail.
I just call it gee, if I’m a consumer or contractor or builder or architect, what am I typing in, what are the search terms, what problem am I trying to solve, okay, and look at those terms and going to look at what pops up on Google and surprising how many times none of your competitors are showing up on when it’s time to replace a door, how to replace a door, how to find a door contractor, most popular door designs, most popular door colors.
I’m just making this up but it’s amazing to me how you can quickly go through and come up with 30 to 50 ideas of what a person might be putting in there and go check them and see how none of your competitors are there and if you would write content to those because there isn’t anybody else really providing good content, there’s a good chance you’re going to rank very high in those search terms. Am I going down the right path here, Matt?
Matt: Yes, you are and I think it might be important that we kind of talk about three types of keywords just so everyone has kind of context on long tail, what is long tail keywords, what are medium tail keywords, and what are broad keywords. I think it’s kind of important too that we may discuss that and I can do that now if that’s…
Mark: Yeah, go ahead.
Matt: So there’s basically three types of SEO keywords. One would be your broad keyword. These are one to two words phrases for instance like vinyl siding. That’s kind of a broad keyword. It gets lots of searches but the difficult, it’s very difficult to rank for it unless you have a very strong website, strong brand right. Then you have your medium tail keywords. These are two to three words keywords or maybe even two to four let’s say words or phrase and those are going to get a little less search volume than your broad keywords and they’re going to be mildly competitive.
And then you have your long tail phrases and these are typically three to let’s say six or seven different words within a phrase that people actually search for and those are typically less competitive and you can get some really quick lens with that. So I think it’s important that maybe you have your broad keywords and your medium tail keywords at kind of a, that something to look for towards you in the future and to work towards now but immediately you can really get started with a long tail keywords and give ranking for those pretty quickly and you’re right, they’re often overlooked. Most people are going out to the same search terms and they’re not trying to find those little hit engine keywords, the longer tail keywords so there’s a lot of opportunity there.
Mark: Yeah, so it’s kind of… how I look at it is let’s say that there were three terms that got, I’ll just pick a number here, they got a thousand people a day looking for them so everybody goes oh my gosh, look at these three terms. So there’s 3,000 people a day and I look and say gee, here are 30 terms that only get a hundred a day okay but when I take the 30 times a hundred now I’m at the same search volume or maybe more, okay. Now that’s how I kind of and I think people don’t look at adding up those lower volume search terms in total and see what they do for them. Does that make sense Matt?
Matt: Yeah, that’s correct. You’re right.
Mark: And back to this idea of a static website. I think if you have a competitor that has the ranks very high and they have a static website, I believe that you can literally just write enough content that you can unseat them from, you can knock them down a few notches. It’s not maybe write one blog post or one piece of content, it’s going to happen. You might have to write five or six but eventually you’re going to hit on the right one that’s going to be more popular than theirs because you keep being fresh. Does that… Matt, once again am I right?
Matt: You’re right. So you know that if they have a static website that the number of keywords that they’re going to be targeting especially on the long tail end is probably, they’re probably going to have trouble with that so that does leave a huge opportunity for you if you do have a blog or some way to produce regular content definitely for sure.
Mark: Yeah, and the other one that I noticed while I run this subject here is I see people say okay, I get it I’m going to add a lot of content and all their content tends to be promotional. It’s like look at this new building using our product, here we are the company picnic, here’s five reasons why our product is better than anybody else’s, it’s all promotion, talking about me and things like that, sure it’s content but I find the most valuable content is helpful educational content mixed in with some of those others and I probably prefer like a ratio literally of like five educational posts to every one promotional post.
A good firm to follow or go take a look at is called Exteria Building Products and if you put in exterior building products blog, go look at their blog and look at all the helpful information they have for builders, siding contractors, home owners looking for new siding or decide a new house deciding what type of siding to get. It just has great, great content. And here’s this relatively small company that to me it’s doing a better job than the biggest vinyl siding the biggest fiber cement companies and they’re doing it by having a lot of great content. Matt, what’s your thoughts about that mix of the type of content?
Matt: Yeah, I really like that. I think that it has a lot of opportunity that some of the bigger players are potentially missing out on by not fixing regular helpful content. I agree, I see a lot of promotional content and that’s really not going to move the needle as far as driving more traffic to your website or helping you out in any way with fear of content marketing. So I completely agree. Exteriors is good example and one thing that we could reference to them is the citing critique that we recently did on your blog and people can kind of learn a little bit more about the… about exterior and some of the stuff that they’re doing and some of the other websites.
Mark: Well that’s good, yes so if you go to my website see the wizard.com and in the search function if you would type I think just the word ‘citing’ you will find a blog post that Matt and I and Zach William’s put together in which we critique eleven different siding companies online efforts. And doesn’t matter if you’re citing or not, if you read it you’ll go oh, are we doing that? Could we do this? Could we do that? Who’s doing a good job? How are they doing it? And I think that’s a great suggestion; it’ll be a great way for any company to go and find out how they can do a better job.
Before we get on to talking, Matt has some more subjects; just talk about but I also want to mend; many times I talk to a client they go okay Mark, this makes total sense. I understand what you’re talking about now about using content, having fresh content, continuing to add content but who the heck is going to do that? We don’t have time. Nobody on… the staff maybe has knowledge but then they’ve time they’ll be writing blog posts? And so I would tell you like in an ideal world it would be written internally but that’s many times not practical unless the company is willing to make the investment in literally having a person that that is all or substantial part of their job.
And if they’re not willing to do that then outsource it. And of course one place to go is to your agency. You probably have to work with them and say look you know the cost of a blog post needs to be very competitive. They’re probably are used to charging you more for something that to me starts to make the blog post not cost effective. You can also… it’s surprising there are firms that you can outsource your blog copy to. Just like these crowd sourcing sites like that you can get a logo design for $ 99.00; there are blog content companies.
One that I use is called Blog Mutt and Blog Mutt has eight thousand writers in North America who are writers and you can tell them if you want one blog post a week or more it can be from three hundred fifty words to twenty four hundred words. And I’m amazed at how good writers they are. And so sometimes if I’m too busy or something, I will have them write some things and I’m amazed that how good they are.
I usually have to go in and spend twenty minutes editing or tweaking a little bit. But it works really well. So don’t let that challenge about who’s going to develop the content get in the way of putting these together. So Matt you were going to talk a little bit I think about how to you know you call it super charger your blog you know get things to go even further. You want to share that with us?
Matt: Right, yeah. So a lot of companies they kind of want to share SEO efforts to the next level maybe they’ve taken your advice and they’ve implemented the blog and they’re carting those long tail key words successfully. And I reckon that all the way starting with that baby steps getting doing it walk set up writing content getting used to getting in that flow of producing content regularly. But you know this is for those that kind of want to take their content marketing to the next level in their SEO efforts in the next level.
And this is for those that really want to target those broad to media type key words. And one way that I like to do that or through what I call linkable assets and basically a linkable asset is a proven content type that’s the design to do the following things. Two things; one, the acquired quality back links. So quality back links are links from publisher websites in your industry and two, would be to increase social shares in by linkable assets; they work so well is they provide a lot of utility to your audience. So they give other websites publishers in your industry; bloggers in your industry a reason to link to your website. Does that make make sense Mark? We’re going and give examples of linkable assets but are there any kind of questions on that?
Mark: Well I think a way that I would put it Matt is if you think about I write a blog post that literally is a commercial for my product. A magazine; a builder magazine, architect magazine, lumber dealer magazine, whatever; they’re going to look at and say oh, that’s promotional content. They should buy an ad from me. Okay.
But if you write something about eight ways a roofing contractor can differentiate themselves. They’re going to look and say wow that’s some good editorial content that I want to put in maybe my online newsletter that then gets linked back to you. So you want to me when I think about trying to get people to link to me I’m trying to go- How do I write something that they’re going to see this is of value to my readers; I look good because I’m sharing with them. And sharing a commercial for big product doesn’t do that. So that’s my thought.
Matt: That’s a great point and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do with this linkable asset content type is if they create so much value that people can help but reference them on their own website. Okay. So there are four content types that I see now work really well for building materials companies and we can get into that right now. The first one is, ‘In-depth How to guides’. So ‘in-depth how to guide’ if something that covers a subject from head to toe it’s not your regular three hundred four hundred five hundred word blog posts.
These are typically five thousand plus words. And they cover a topic from start to finish and a good example would be at if you ever read ‘This sold house’ they have a guide that’s the kitchen remodeling guide and it appeals- suppose their audience and other publishers in their industry and because it’s just… it’s about five chapters; it’s just such great information. They got three hundred plus social shares with it and over thirty other websites linked to them. And now they rank really high for kitchen remodeling; kitchen remodeling guide and some very tough keywords because they got so many links to that website so. ‘How to guides’ within your industry are great and they typically drive a lot of traffic and can rank for those broad and medium type key words.
Mark: And I think people of I think you easily think about oh, ‘How to Guides’ Bob Villa that’s written to homeowners. You can write- How to guides about how architects can better specify waterproofing. How roofing… how signing contractors can get more builder business. There’s like ‘how to guide’ can also be business to business. It isn’t just have to be a business to consumer when you’re doing.
Matt: And it’s helpful to make these how to guides as evergreen as possible because these are going to be really assets for your website; people are going to bookmark these and go to them over and over and share them with their friends and etc. so I think the evergreen aspect of it is really important if you can and if you can. The next type of linkable asset content type that I like to use is long form or extended list post. So this is when you see those list post of twenty five; thirty; fifty even quarter.
A good example is Build Direct; they have a block that’s called ‘ 31 Genius ideas for re-imagining home core’ and just the sheer volume of ideas they have thirty one ideas on this page; kind of creates an off factor when everybody hits that. They see so many ideas. They think it’s a great resource and the content piece got one hundred fifty plus social shares and over fifty different back links. So it was truly a linkable asset for them. The next type of content piece that works well is curated content pieces. So a curated content piece is basically where you interview people in your industry.
You take their thoughts on something. You put into one post and another an example of this, it’s from builder; Build Direct again. They created a content piece called the ’25 Best Interior designers in Los Angeles’ and this is a really great piece for because it really provided a lot of value to their audience; the interior designers because it stroke their ego and has it did all those interior designers link back to the article. Right. So this article got over a thousand social shares because all the interior designers mentioned in the post shared it and then they also received over thirteen back links because of many of the interior designers linked to it. And now they rank for interior designers in Los Angeles. That’s their target market so they can actually drive traffic to some of the interior designers that they sell to which is always good. You know helping your contractors and helping your customers is a way to great thing.
Mark: You know another if I jump in about curated; the another thing that I found; you can look at like online there’s certain online news sources like Huffington post which to me is ninety percent curated. They’re just going around picking up other people’s news that they think their readers would like. But another way that I have quite successfully found is I will find somebody who has written a very good article about a subject and then I will go in and say – this is a powerful article. What does this mean to kitchen and bath- Okay. And I will go in and write. I’ll say- ‘hey, there was a great article I saw. Here’s a link to it. Let me show you what this means to you as a kitchen dealer and so that’s another great to me source of curated. I always link to it. I always give credit to the author. I’m not ripping things off. But I’m taking it and tailoring it to the particular audience.
Matt: And that’s a great idea because you’re taking proven content pieces and you’re kind of re-purposing it for your industry and that’s a great not to find when you’re kind of not knowing what to write about, that’s always a great idea to kind of turn to with those proven content pieces. But then, the next linkable assent the content type that I really like for building materials companies is online tools and online tools are obviously very useful especially when you make them for your target audience.
And a good example is Georgia Pacific. They have a simple [inaudible] or calculator on their website and it’s extremely useful to contractors. So contractors like to link to it. Publishers and the- they have right contractors like [inaudible] because it’s such a valuable tool for their readers and it’s acquired over twenty plus back links and I know that keyword which they rank number one for drywall calculator; it’s over ten thousand search as part month.
So that’s their way that without creating that online tool, it’s been really hard for them to rank for that broad keyword DryWall Calculator which drives a lot of traffic. So if you really want to target those medium type or that broad to medium types keywords that are really competitive, you kind of have to create an asset on the content asset on your website that’s very robust or that has some type of utility that it provides to your target market and that way you can get those back link that you need actually get that page rank for those keywords. So I really love those four content types and I recommend trying those out after you kind of get your blog polished up.
Mark: Excellent. Another thing I forgot to share is, if you think about… if you think of a blog even if it’s educational as an advertisement for you because it’s bringing people in and they’re kind of looking and saying while these people are experts. These people also I like how they’re trying to help me solve my problem not just shove a product on my throat.
And if you compare that blog post to an ad you will pay an agency to do the creative for an ad. Then you’ll pay the publisher of the magazine whatever medium you’re using; you will pay them to run it. And then it’s over. It’s gone. And the beauty of a blog is you invest in the content which is usually is a lot less than something like created an ad and you pay nothing literally for the media and the life is forever. I’m a strategic consultant but I’ve been on this bandwagon about content so long that now I manage a number of companies’ blogs and online content.
My goal is to teach them how to take them over and do it but I’m setting them up and getting them and going in it and it’s amazing how blog posts that we wrote three years ago still get tremendous traffic and readership. It’s like someone finding a magazine that you ran an ad in from three years ago on a night coffee table and stumbling across it. So I think their people, they think about I write a blog post and I put it up people read it and it’s done like an ad and that’s not the case at all. Once again, Matt, do you agree?
Matt: I completely agree. Its content on your website is a lifelong asset. It’s something that doesn’t go away and it’s something that once you it there and you keep promoting it. It’s going to be an asset and it’s going to be a free asset and deliver more ROI month after month.
Mark: Correct; yeah. So Matt, if you were to kind of in your mind summarize one of the key takeaways if I was a building material manufacturer and listening today; what are the key takeaways that you think they should take away from our discussion today?
Matt: Sure. Well the first thing I would highly recommend is if you don’t have a blog and you’re not… or you’re not posting regular content that’s the first thing that you should do; go to set up a blog on your website. There’s a lot of easy free tools out there to keep the blog going. Set that up and start creating a content schedule that you can actually follow. If you can’t post every day, don’t- and you know that you’re going to be able to post every day; don’t try to do that.
Take baby steps. Start with even once a month that you have to then go to once a week and then maybe a handful of times a week. But first create blog that’s my first step that I always take. Next would be to do look over those money wasting… wasters that we were talking about.
One is assuming you know what your content your customers are searching for, you definitely have to do keyword research; you can’t just assume utilized tools like Google keyword planner to understand how much search blind each kind of keyword that you’re targeting gets. Another one would be don’t just post a blog post and leave it. You got to promote that. Promote in industry groups like linking groups promoted to forums. Email it to industry publishers. Get it out there.
Don’t just put it on the website. Actually post and get the word out about it. Next would be, don’t keep SEO companies offensive themselves. Ask questions. Make sure you know what they’re what they’re doing. And finally if you’re really interested and ranking for competitive keywords; focus on the four types of linkable assets that we discussed today. And thank you. You’ll have a lot of success with that.
Mark: Okay. Thanks; thanks a lot Matt. Hey, Matt if someone is interested in talking to you more about SEO what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Matt: The best way would be to visit my website and the short URL to that is just Iwantleads.net. Visit that site, you’ll see my company regeneration experts. My email is in the ‘about’ section. Feel free to email me if you just have questions or give me a call. I’m always happy to answer any kind of questions you have or if you need any help with anything; but email, phone would be best way. Reach me at visitor Iwantleave.net.
Mark: Okay, so just in case someone is desperate to talk to you what is your phone number?
Matt: Yes sure. It’s 303-847-4946 and I’m typically available any time. Like I said, don’t be scared to reach out. I’m happy to answer any kind of questions you have.
Mark Mitchell: Excellent. Excellent. Well thanks again Matt for being here and I’ll…
Matt: Thanks Mark. I really appreciate to have me on.
Mark Mitchell: Good. And as always if you would like to talk to me about just your overall strategy to help you grow your sales, overcome a challenger or in this particular case to help you put together a Content marketing program help you get one set up designed. Please feel free to reach out to me. Mark Mitchell; and you can find everything about me at my website. See the wizard.com. And thanks for listening in. We’ll look forward to talking to you at our next episode.
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