Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!
We recently interviewed Dan Shure for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Dan and here’s what we discussed about –
1. The 80-20 rule of marketing
2. How acquiring SEO knowledge can change your life
3. Why getting buy-in and support from web development for SEO is not that important
4. Is the new Google Helpful Content Update helpful at all?
5. Aging of platforms like Facebook and Instagram
6. On user data management audits
About our host:
Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co. He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by the means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.
About our guest:
Piano teacher turned SEO expert Dan Shure is an SEO consultant with more than 12 years in-depth experience. Dan has previously worked with clients like GBH (Boston’s NPR), Harvard Business Review, NYTimes R&D, Gartner, Drift, Ring Doorbell and a lot more. He also runs a popular SEO podcast named Experts On The Wire and how it has grown over the years.
EPISODE 083: B2B Marketing Strategies for SEO to Outrank Your Competition
Saksham Sharda: Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda, I’m the creative director at Outgrow. co. And for this month we’re going to interview Dan Shure who is the owner of Evolving SEO and Experts on the Wire. Thanks for joining us, Dan.
Dan Shure: Thanks for having me.
Don’t have time to read? No problem, just watch the Podcast!
Or you can just listen to it on Spotify!
The Rapid Fire Round!
Saksham Sharda: So Dan, we’re going to start with a rapid-fire round just to break the ice, you’d get three passes. In case you don’t want to answer the question, you can just say pause but try to keep your answers to one word or one sentence only. Okay?
Dan Shure: Great.
Saksham Sharda: All right, so the first one is at what age do you want to retire?
Dan Shure: Never.
Saksham Sharda: How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
Dan Shure: Too long
Saksham Sharda: The most embarrassing moment of your life?
Dan Shure: When I met Ben Folds, I was super awkward. Ben Folds is a famous musician.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, your favorite color?
Dan Shure: Blue.
Saksham Sharda: What time of the day are you most inspired?
Dan Shure: 10:30 pm
Saksham Sharda: Fill in the blank: An upcoming marketing trend is ____________.
Dan Shure: I know the ticking is going, a marketing trend is TikTok.
Saksham Sharda: The city in which the best kiss of your life happened?
Dan Shure: Dover, New Hampshire.
Saksham Sharda: Pick one – Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey?
Dan Shure: Jack Dorsey.
Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?
Dan Shure: Music.
Saksham Sharda: How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Dan Shure: When I’m drinking coffee, three to four. When I’m not, none.
Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate?
Dan Shure: Talking too quickly.
Saksham Sharda: The most valuable skill you’ve learned in life?
Dan Shure: The 80-20 principle.
Saksham Sharda: Your favorite Netflix show?
Dan Shure: “The Office”.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, well that’s the end of the rapid-fire round.
The Big Questions!
Saksham Sharda: Tell us about the 80-20 principle, what was that?
Dan Shure: So it’s a principle that means that 80% of your growth or results come from only 20% of the input. It’s an imbalance, The Pareto principle. So if you apply that to SEO and traffic, you can realize maybe 10 of your blog posts out of 100 or 1000, contribute to 80% or 90% or more of the traffic, or maybe 10 of the items you do in an SEO audit, two of those contribute to improvements in growth. So if you can figure out what the minimum is that’s creating the large output, you can be more efficient, and you can grow traffic better and more quickly. And 80-20 is something I apply to every single thing I do in marketing and SEO in my life in general.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, yeah. And where does it come from, like the principle?
Dan Shure: I first heard of it from Tim Ferriss years ago, he tweeted a great article about it. And then somebody wrote a book called “The 80-20 Principle”. And he didn’t invent the principle. It’s called Pareto’s rule. And I think it originally came about from an Italian mathematician that realized that there was this rule, it’s almost like a law of nature that’s around us everywhere. And once you discover how to tap into that, and think 80-20, and analyze 80-20, it will change your strategy, how you approach being efficient, being productive, it changed everything for me when I discovered it.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, so let’s talk about the beginning of your discovering things. So you were a piano teacher for almost half a decade. So what caused you to transition into the world of marketing and SEO?
Dan Shure: To do music and piano teaching, I had also been creating my websites. And when I got married and moved to a new area, I lost all of my previous students and business. So when I moved to this area, I needed students. So I built myself a website and taught myself local SEO, to get probably half of my new studio, piano students. And then I started doing SEO for my father’s companies and some friends and my dentist. And I just realized that it was something I love doing. You know, I didn’t mind building the websites. But when I got to the part where I could optimize keywords and things for traffic, that was the part that I truly loved doing. And then went back in 2009, when I discovered Moz, Whiteboard Fridays with Rand Fishkin, and the beginner’s guide to SEO and all that stuff. And I saw that there was a big community out there of people that were doing SEO professionally full time. And then I also discovered the SEO 101 podcast way back then. I mean, it was the only SEO podcast back then. And unfortunately, one of the hosts recently passed away, John Karkat. But when I discovered those things then I realized, I wanted to shift my career from teaching into SEO, I viewed it as sort of stepping up into the adult world, so to speak. And part of it too is I didn’t mind teaching kids, but I just loved music. But teaching kids specifically was never a passion of mine. And so this gave me the ability to pivot into something where I was dealing with, you know, adults instead of children. So that was another big part of it for me.
Saksham Sharda: So how important do you think is getting buy-in and support from web development for SEO?
Dan Shure: This might come as a shock but I think it’s not important whatsoever. In my experience, when I work with clients, the people I need to buy from are the ones that are telling the developers what to do. Now, that might sound a little harsh, and I don’t mean to be harsh, because I need the official buy-in from the VP of marketing, or the CEO or the founder, to then tell the developer what to do. But you do need a bit of an emotional buy-in from the developer because their boss could tell them, you need to do these items on the SEO checklist. But they might do it quickly or do a bad job or do it with a little bit even resentment, even if I’m at least not respectful of their job and their craft and what they’re doing and delivering recommendations to them in a way that is clear and understandable. So it’s not that I don’t want to win over the web developer, it is important to get an emotional buy-in from the web developer because ultimately, they are the ones that need to execute the recommendation. So if I don’t at least develop a positive rapport with them, they might do something, you know, quickly, or not totally well, or even with a little bit of resentment. And we don’t want that to happen either, right? We want everyone to work together as a team. So ultimately, the official buying does need to come from the founder, CEO, Owner, VP, or whoever that is. But there does need to be an unofficial buy-in from a web developer as well. So I like to think of it as like official, and then more of an emotional buy-in and separated that way.
Saksham Sharda: And what are your views then on the new Google helpful content update? What do you think about Google identifying content that is designed to rank well in search, but is not useful to users?
Dan Shure: I think a lot of these updates for Google are PR, in other words. There’s been a lot of concern and talk lately from users in public about Google getting worse, and results not being helpful. You Google a recipe, and you land on it. I don’t know if you’ve seen a recipe website lately, but it is completely littered with ads and pop-ups and stuff everywhere. It’s practically unusable, not to mention all the rest of your writers thinking that they have to tell you a 2000-word story about their grandmother before they even get to the recipe widget which you can’t even find. And so Google’s had a little bit of a content quality reputation problem. So I do think for better or for worse, that sometimes these announcements like helpful content updates are a little bit for PR because when you think back to does anything make Google different from any other search engine, like Bing or DuckDuckGo? Like how do we know we’re getting the best result? And I think that we don’t necessarily, I think a lot of it is branding. And Google makes us believe through PR and marketing, that they have the best results and are sure they have some great features like Featured Snippets, widgets, and things like that, that help you find answers more easily. And they certainly innovated in that way. But if you break it down to just the 10 blue links, and a traditional result when it comes to a search engine, I don’t necessarily think Google is so much better than other surgeons that they deserve 90% or more of the market. So they’re doing this for PR because they want people to continue believing that they have the best results now. Are they going to D rank AI-generated content? Probably. Let’s hope so, will they D rank things that are excessively spammy or therefore keywords only to boost up affiliate links or whatever it might be? Sure, they’ll probably be doing that as well. But I do think that like I said, this update is very much a PR positioning thing for Google as well.
Saksham Sharda: And what are the other search engines you think are kind of in the game?
Dan Shure: Unfortunately, in terms of market share, they’re not in the game at all. But in terms of being decent search engines, DuckDuckGo is good. I know I’ve tried using Bing on and off and the biggest thing that used to turn me off about Bing was it was ugly, and it was not a fun or pleasant, or good experience. But being just kind of copies whatever Google does. And Google is a nice-looking search engine. And that’s, I think one of the reasons why they’ve been successful is just, you know, you’ve heard the anecdote where Google once tested 30 colors of blue, for which one got the best click-through rate search results. So the testing they do is crazy. And the amount of detail and attention they put into their UX and design does, I think, impact how we feel about our experiences on Google. And Bing just copies that. So they end up with what I think now is a much nicer experience than they used to have four or five years ago. So if we were to put their results side by side, I mean, there might be some differences. There might be some things that we think Google is better at, or Bing is, the interesting thing, though, is how do you know what the best result is? I mean, their algorithms are just trying to rank the best piece of content. It’s really hard to measure as a human. Well, like, there’s a lot of unknowns. Like when I search for something, if I click the first result in Bing, and I get a decent answer, how do I know what a better answer would have been? Or that even a better answer exists? It’s a very interesting concept. And it’s very hard, I think, for us to gauge how we’re even measuring our satisfaction. So many of the other small search engines, I think, are there in the game, so to speak, even though market share doesn’t convey that.
Saksham Sharda: And there has been a rumor, I don’t know whether I read it somewhere, that Gen Z is now using apps like Tiktok more to like do their searches instead of Google?
Dan Shure: Yeah, so I think I did some research on this when it first happened. If you trace back to that, where that came from, somebody from Google was giving an interview. And he said, according to a study, “more GenZ’ers are searching Tik Tok and Instagram for a restaurant when they want to find something to eat.” All the headlines turn that into more people searching TikTok than Google. They took out Instagram, which was a piece of that percentage, and they took out the fact that this was restaurant searches only. And I’m not going to go to TikTok or Instagram and search for a doctor or search for how to change a flat tire. Right? I mean, maybe for these tiny niche little searches, there might be some things better or more appealing to somebody younger that wants video. But first of all, I want to know where that Googler got that stat, where’s that study? And then second of all, people inflate it to be like all of Tiktok searches are bigger than Google. And that’s just not the case.
Saksham Sharda: And so do you agree with the statement that Gen Z users have grown tired of constant pivots by apps like Facebook, causing it to drop out of the top 10 apps list?
Dan Shure: I think what happens is Facebook comes along. Every new platform that comes along appeals to younger people, college kids, etc. As their parents and grandparents start to join those platforms, like with Facebook, think of it like a place like a mall, right? A mall starts it all kids, then one of the malls’ demographics, and customers end up being parents and then grandparents, that kids don’t want to be there anymore. So they leave and go to the next thing. And so I think what it is, is an aging up of each platform, and it’s as Facebook aged up, they went to Instagram. And as Instagram aged up, they went over to Tik Tok. And I think that’s a large part of it. And then what happens is Facebook sees Instagram doing better and of course, Facebook bought Instagram. So they own both. But Facebook thinks we need to copy Instagram because they must be doing something better. After all, all the kids like it, and the Signups are increasing when it’s just people kind of jumping from one thing to the next to like get away from parents and grandparents. And that’s probably not the only reason, but I think that’s a large part of it. And then so those app developers, they keep pivoting because they’re trying to keep going to what they think TikTok is doing next. And I don’t think the pivots bother people as much. It’s just more like, that’s the natural progression of platforms.
Saksham Sharda: And what do you think is going to be the successor to TikTok?
Dan Shure: I don’t know. I know if I had to guess it would be something like an AR or VR. Are your Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg going to be the people to do that with the metaverse? I don’t know. I think they’re working against that branding and that perception from younger people that are like I don’t want to do Facebook. But I do think it will probably be something VR or AR-related.
Saksham Sharda: What are your thoughts on Oracle beginning to audit TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models?
Dan Shure: I think it’s smart. I think that whether TikTok becomes a big search engine, it’s quite clear that they are the most influential platform right now. When it comes to how people are creating content, and how people are discovering new things, are you looking at Google, you look at all the Google searches people are doing to find things on Tik Tok, right? Whether it’s a trend or person or whatever it is, it just goes to speak, like search volume conveys how popular something is. So I think it’s smart. Thought three years ago, I was late when I started thinking about TikTok in terms of social media marketing for clients. And I still think maybe I’m a little late right now. But I still think in reality, it’s a little early. I think that you’re seeing a lot of B2C-type content on TikTok, but eventually, all the B2B stuff is going to be on TikTok as well. And I think that’s when you see things start to mature is when all the B2B content starts to move to a platform, which is sort of happening, but not quite yet.
Saksham Sharda: And what are some industries in which B2B content is doing well on TikTok?
Dan Shure: I think some people teach marketing on there, but I think they’re still teaching it to individual people. I don’t think that a VP of Marketing is on TikTok yet. Looking at that marketing content, I think the stuff I see in terms of marketing is still geared towards the independent blogger or affiliate marketer, and things like that. And I’m not enough in the know of other B2B industries to know what else is being successful there and TikTok, I’m only a little familiar with the marketing, and like I said, everything else I’ve seen successful there is more B2C oriented right now.
Saksham Sharda: But then in the case of Instagram, what kind of B2B has kind of established itself that now we are seeing the move away to TikTok?
Dan Shure: I’m less familiar with what’s being successful on Instagram. I go there, and occasionally I’ll post a photo or something like that, but I do very little actual marketing work on Instagram. I’ve ended up sticking to SEO, YouTube, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn are the three biggest platforms that I feel as a practitioner, that I know how to optimize for them and how to help companies to be successful. Their Instagram, I feel like is there your visibility is dwindling. They’re just like, it was in Facebook years ago, where your reach is getting small. So if a business comes to me, and they’re like, “Well, what should we do? Should we do YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or LinkedIn?” If they’re B2C, absolutely TikTok and YouTube, and Instagram only if they have extra resources. And maybe it’s a visually appealing product, like food, or fashion or something like that. And then if they’re b2b, and they’re asking about those platforms, I see LinkedIn, and YouTube and experiment with TikTok, maybe be early, maybe build your channel until more of the B2B stuff happens there. But I barely ever recommend Instagram to people.
Saksham Sharda: So going back to SEO, are you in agreement with the claim that increasing page ranking requires a high keyword density?
Dan Shure: Nope, I think a high keyword density might just happen by accident. Or as an artifact of trying to make a really good piece of content, the bigger thing to focus on is what I call topical completeness. The example I always give is, if you’re writing an article about New York City, you would mention the Empire State Building Statue of Liberty Central Park, all the commonly occurring topics and entities that you would expect to see in a high-quality piece of content about New York City. So I love and use a tool called contentaced.com. It’s developed by the sister of the developer of Keywords Everywhere, which is a really popular plugin, which gives you a search on Google. So same family, so to speak, and content-based if you plug in a keyword in your content, it will tell you all the topic gaps that are missing from your piece of content. And then you don’t want to just throw those in there like keywords, right? You want to think about, “Well, if I’m writing an article about silver coins, and it’s mentioning Thomas Jefferson like maybe that means there’s a Jefferson Nickel or something that I should be mentioning in this piece of content.” And you want to think about is the topic suggestion the tool giving me is this like relevant, or is that maybe something to kind of see. You need to think intelligently about it. Content is this little similar to like clear scope, which probably more people have heard of. But it’s this idea of being topically complete. And if you’re topically complete, then you’re likely getting a decent density of keywords. But I hesitate to even use that phrase because we know Google doesn’t look at that. They don’t use TFIDF, which is Term Frequency Inverse Document Frequency. They don’t use these older versions of information retrieval, like algorithms to look at the density of keywords. They’re going to use more of a topical completeness kind of thing because Google is trying to understand the content like we, as humans understand the content. So they’re much beyond keyword density stuff.
Saksham Sharda: So what exactly are they looking at?
Dan Shure: So as I mentioned, topical completeness, other things they may look at is sentiment. So if you actually use Google’s natural language processing, free widget, and you plug in content there, it will tell you if that content is negative, neutral, or positive and sentiment. So like a storyline, a time ago, I was working for a client that was selling engagement rings, and all their competitor’s content was off the charts positive. Because if you’re getting engaged you are hoping that’s a most positive, happy thing that happens in your life, right? Or one other than maybe having a child or whatever. And, therefore your content needs to be super positive then. And if Google sees that your content doesn’t match the sentiment that people might expect or look for, that can also be a negative ranking factor as well. The other thing to look at too is the spectrum, so you asked about what are they looking at instead of keyword density, think about the spectrum of informational to transactional content and language. So if you’re writing a top-of-funnel, informational blog post, the language in that post should be informational, it should be about the What, the Why, the How to, etc. It shouldn’t have as many words as for sale and purchase and buy, it shouldn’t have product widgets. And Google is looking at where on the spectrum your content, informational to transactional, and your content needs to match the intent of the search query, right? So one of my clients sells precious metals. And they have these buyer’s guides, where they rank for things like buying silver, with a piece of content, not a category page. But that piece of content is very down the funnel and transactional. And it can’t just say buy silver in the title, right? Like your title tags, not going to fix a piece of content that doesn’t match the intent of the searcher. The other thing to think about, two, is writing clarity. So a tool like Hemingway app.com, I use all the time, it’s free, and you put your content in there. And it will tell you, it will highlight all very hard-to-read sentences, and will give you a rough reading grade. And I’ve had some clients just clean up the writing quality of their content and have it rank a little bit better. Because Google is trying to read content like a human, they’re trying to use natural language processing to understand what a piece of content is about. And if the writing is unclear, they’re gonna have a harder time understanding the content just like we do. So that’s something really important as well. And then one last thing I mentioned is thinking about the level of your reader. So if you Google SEO, you’re going to see beginners guides ranking there, because the Google Search SEO is likely somebody that’s a beginner, right, it’s not an advanced search. But if you tried to do an advanced guide to SEO, and you had language and content in the content itself, that was more advanced, you would have a very hard time ranking just for the word SEO, because it’s not targeting the right audience. So those are several things to think about way beyond just keyword density.
Saksham Sharda: And now switching to LinkedIn, do you agree that the depth of insight is critical, in addition to writing consistently to generate a high level of reader engagement?
Dan Shure: I think consistency barely matters on LinkedIn. I think, if you want to accelerate your growth, you’re gonna post there very often. So that might mean consistent, like once a day, or three times a day, or something like that. But I barely posted at all on LinkedIn for months. And then I did two posts, and each one of those got, I think, over three or 4000 impressions each, right? And I have a decent amount of connections and following that I’ve built up over the years on LinkedIn. But in other words, the LinkedIn algorithm still works for you. Whereas even if you don’t have a large following, or you don’t post often if you post something good. So the first part of that question being like, I think is it high quality and written by an expert and that kind of thing. That’s more important on LinkedIn. Because I see people post every day that just aren’t interesting. And they don’t do well, they might get a couple of thumbs up, or they might just be sharing a link or something like that. But it’s the quality of the posts on LinkedIn that I’ve seen make that is the number one thing for success there.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, well, that was the last question. Thanks, everyone, for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. That was Dan Shure, who is the owner of Evolving SEO, and the host of Experts on the Wire. Thanks for joining us, Dan.
Dan Shure: Thanks for having me. It was fun.
Saksham Sharda: Check out their website for more details and we’ll see you once again next month with another marketer of the month.