As a full service digital marketing agency, SEO Locale offers specialized local search engine optimization, national search engine optimization, web design, web development, paid search management, social media management, mobile app development, reputation management, content strategy and optimization and email marketing.
In this episode
Content isn’t king when it comes to doing SEO for your website says Marc Brookland of SEO Locale. There are a lot of factors like your backlink profile, how many trustworthy websites that you have that are talking about you and linking back to you, your on-page SEO, title tags, meta tags, headings, your internal linking strategy, and many more besides. SEO is no longer a game that casual amateurs can win at.
Marc points out that even large companies, like Hubspot, sometimes get it wrong. They had to delete over 3,000 outdated blogs on their website to reverse a traffic decline. A robust SEO program considering a wide range of factors is often essential to being able to withstand the frequent changes Google makes to its algorithms.
Comprehensive keyword research and competitor analysis is fundamental to creating an effective SEO strategy. Marc suggests a free tool you can use to do this work yourself. Listen to the end for how to claim his gift of a free technical audit for your website.
A glimpse of what you'll hear
01:55 Content isn't king when it comes to website SEO
02:43 What is important if you want to rank high on Google
07:23 Surviving a Google core algorithm update
08:48 Getting nailed by a Google algorithm change
11:15 Implementing an effective SEO strategy
12:48 The importance of competitor analysis when doing SEO
13:35 Learn about Marc. Email Marc at email@example.com
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)
Centricity Introduction 0:04
Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a b2b services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of centricity, Jay Kingley.
Jay Kingley 0:43
I am really pleased today to bring on one of Centricity participants, Mack Brookland. And Marc is the founder and CEO of SEO Locale. It's a digital marketing agency based in Yardley, Pennsylvania. And for those who aren't familiar, Yardley is a suburb of the Greater Philadelphia region. SEO Locale focuses on serving the CEOs of small businesses across the United States, Marc, welcome. And I want to get right into it. I mean, everybody these days has a website. And everybody is told you have to SEO your website so that you can be found on Google SEO, by the way standing for search engine optimization, but everybody talks about it. But it is so contradictory. And there's so much noise out there, you are a recognized expert in this field. So I would love to hear your perspective about what people what business owners aren't getting right, when it comes to the website and SEO.
Marc Brookland 1:52
Thanks for having me, Jay, for the intro. And the one thing, the big thing out there that everyone preaches is that content is king. And it is my belief, based on my experience and the work that I do that content is not king. While it is important, there are a lot of other very important factors where there is no king.
Jay Kingley 2:17
So if there's no king, there must be sort of a bunch of let's call them Jack's, right. We got to be in the face card somewhere,
Marc Brookland 2:26
Bunch of princes.
Jay Kingley 2:27
Right these bunch of princes, and even better. So Marc, if content isn't king, tell me how people should be thinking about SEO, what are the factors? What do you need to think about in order to rank where you want to on Google and other search engines?
Marc Brookland 2:45
Yeah, there are several factors, several major factors that go into how well your website ranks, one of them is your backlink profile, how many other websites around the interspace, the interwebs are linking back to your website. And the more trustworthy websites that you have that are talking about you and linking back to you, that's a big factor and how well you rank. Another major factor is what I call your on page SEO optimizations. It's everything that you're doing within your own website, to build relevance between the target keyword list that you want to go after, and search engines. So those are things like your title tags, your meta tags, your headings, and you also want to make sure that you have a very strong internal linking strategy. So this is utilizing content within your within throughout your website, where you are identifying certain keywords that belong on a specific landing page. So for example, if I have a homepage about search engine optimization, and I want to talk about web design and development services, I would internally link web design and development services to the web design and development landing page to help like Google know, this keyword is really relevant for this landing page. So when someone is searching for that keyword, this is the landing page that they should be found for.
Jay Kingley 4:11
So Marc, I know you're not saying that content is not relevant. It's just one of a number of key factors that you have to consider. But let me ask you, do you know of any websites that rank well, where content isn't really something that's a key part of their strategy?
Marc Brookland 4:32
Yes, I have a few examples of where the content was not a major, a major factor. There was one client that I worked on, who serves as a hub of wedding venues and wedding vendors. And the first thing that I noticed when I was evaluating what they needed, was they had tons and tons and tons and tons of content infinite content but they were missing a huge piece of the technical aspects of SEO, which are, they had duplicated meta titles everywhere throughout the website duplicated meta descriptions everywhere throughout the website. So it took us months to go through every single one of these pages, write unique meta titles, meta descriptions implement an internal linking strategy. And this boosted their organic traffic year over year over 25%. That's only one that's only one example. Another example that I read about was HubSpot. HubSpot got major, a major dent in their traffic. And what they had to end up doing was actually delete over 3000 blogs that they wrote on their website, because they were outdated. They didn't make sense anymore. And it was negatively impacting the traffic that they are able to bring into their website.
Jay Kingley 5:56
So what I'm hearing you tell us is that content can be an important piece among many pieces. But content not in the generic sense. I think that HubSpot example is really fascinating that if you don't get the content strategy, right, then you could actually hurt yourself, not help yourself. And I think your example of that party planning business, I think, illustrates fairly well that there are many other critical variables, besides just content that can be as important, if not more important, in certain circumstances, to ensure how you rank
Marc Brookland 6:36
Absolutely. It all depends on your individual website and what you currently have in place. In some cases, content may be the big thing that you need to improve. But there, like I said, are several other really, really important factors that determine how well your website's gonna rank.
Jay Kingley 6:55
So Marc, if you took a say, a typical small business, who probably doesn't have the optimal SEO strategy, and you know, they've done some things, they made some mistakes, they've ignored a bunch of things. Now, if they can get their SEO to a far more optimal situation, what kind of benefits do you typically see for their business?
Marc Brookland 7:20 It's, a much more longer-term sustained top rankings on search engines, you're much more likely to be able to undergo what I what Google calls, core algorithm updates. So every so often, throughout a couple of times each year, they will update their entire search algorithm. And it's how they read, understand and rank websites in regards to queries. And if you are doing everything the right way, not just content, not just the technical SEO items, or not just building links, doing everything the right way. And you will have a much easier time navigating through those core updates because they're going to see that your website has been doing all the right things. And they want to promote those websites higher for the end-user.
Jay Kingley 8:12
You know, I know a lot of people whose business is really important. There's really driven by people finding their website, and in many cases, transacting on their website or setting important appointments to the website. And every time Google makes what you've called this core algorithm update, these folks aren't sleeping at night, because we've all heard the horror stories of people whose businesses were ranking really high. Google changes the rules, and they just vanish. Right? And I can't imagine what that feels like, what have you seen with clients that have gotten nailed and how that impacts them, including their ability to sleep at night?
Marc Brookland 8:57
Um, yeah, I mean, when these algorithms come through, and you think you're doing all the right things, and then there's maybe one or two of those major pieces that you've missed, it can really hurt you. We had a client who was ranking at the top for a very long time in his industry. One of these algorithms came through and there was an oversight in his backlink profile and he dropped significantly, it took six months to build him back up to clean his profile. So it's incredibly important that you're paying attention to all these things. The joke in the SEO world is the best place to hide dead bodies on page two of Google so you know if you're not on those, that first page and even the top five, where over 75% of clicks are taking place. You know, you're really not you're doing yourself a disservice you're not giving your business is the opportunity to bring in new clients
Jay Kingley 10:02
Marc, clearly, there's a whole range of businesses whose entire revenue stream is dependent on people being able to find their website transact on the website. There's clearly there's another group of businesses out there, I think, where their website is important to their marketing, not necessarily to sales, which is the transactional component, but the marketing, which gets them qualified leads, which they then close through a more traditional sales process. And I'll grant you, there's another group of businesses, I'm pretty confident to say they're in the minority, where the website really isn't that important to them, it might be more of a due diligence thing, I don't really use it for marketing, I don't really use it for sales. But if I've already interacted with someone, someone may want to then check out my website. So SEO for them, it's probably not that important. But certainly for the first two categories where it's critical, and very important. It sounds to me like I can remember, way back in the day when websites first came out. And the idea of SEO was pretty simple. It is gotten a lot more complicated. I think it's really difficult for your average amateur, to do SEO really well and stay on top of it. But if you were going to tell someone you know, you made such a compelling case, you're going to tell someone so tell a business owner, what is it that you need to do to continuously rank high on Google for your target keywords? What advice would you give them,
Marc Brookland 11:36
If they're going to do it themselves? I would recommend looking at the basis of this conversation, looking at your strategy as a whole review each on-page throughout your website, make sure all of your title tags are unique. And make sense for whatever that page is about. Make sure that the description talks about what that page is about. Make sure you have an internal linking strategy to make it easy for users to read content, and then be able to click on a link and they'll find some more relevant content, make sure that the content supports the keywords that you vision. When a user lands on this landing page, they're going to find the information that they want to read about. Make sure that you are able to partner up or find relevant external websites that find your content so interesting or find your website so fascinating that they're going to want to link to you and talk to you and talk about what you have to say. If you're doing all of those things. You're going to be successful throughout any of these algorithm updates.
Jay Kingley 12:46
But you also I think, need to stay on top of it. Because the world is not a static place. Which leads me to another question for you. Do you recommend when you're thinking about the keywords that you ought to be trying to rank for that you should look at your competitors? Are there tools out there that help you understand what your competitors are doing? Or do you say look that what the competitors are doing is irrelevant, you just need to stay focused on what you think is the right approach?
Marc Brookland 13:15
Competitor Analysis is extremely important. It's one thing that we do for every single account that we're working on. There are free tools available. One is from Internet Ninja it's a side-by-side tool that compares your website you can compare up to I believe it's five different competitors. And that'll tell you, here's what your title tag description, what your headers are, what keywords are most used in the content for a specific URL, and it will tell you all these pieces of your on page strategy and compare it side by side to each of those competitors.
Jay Kingley 13:53
I appreciate you sharing your expertise with our listeners. But I want to get to a little bit of SEO Locale now. So you obviously have a fairly extensive client base, where you're doing this type of work, but give us a broader sense of what are the key issues that you tend to get involved with when you're working with your clients.
Marc Brookland 14:15
One of the big ones is clients come to us and they say I've been working with this agency, they never show me a report. I don't understand what they're doing. For me, I'm reading this thing. It looks like Chinese and transparency and making sure that our clients understand what we're doing and why we're doing is doing it is extremely important to us. We have a custom client dashboard that they can access 24/7. And we have short, sweet to the point monthly reports. They're only four pages long. All it shows you is here's where you were this month. We compare it to the last month last year, last quarter, whatever data we have available. Another thing is that they show me that I have all these rankings but I'm not getting any traffic. There's no traffic to my website, but I'm ranking number one for all these keywords. And this is a good segue To know what makes us so great, a lot of times, agencies are targeting these keywords that make no sense. Or they're just so long tail, there's nobody searching for these keywords. So if you're, it's great to hear ranking number one for this keyword that's 10 phrases long, but nobody's going to search for that. And nobody's going to be able to find you, it's not going to generate any traffic, you have to identify keywords that are going to bring in traffic and bring in traffic with high intent. So the likelihood of them converting is much higher than, than someone who's not.
Jay Kingley 15:37
So what I'm hearing you say is that one of the things that you're particularly good at and really makes you stand out, it's about being able to target the right people for the right reasons, ie the right keywords, which will give you the traffic but not just traffic for the sake of traffic, but traffic for the sake of intent. And you know, your intent may be commerce, your intent may be to generate a lead and capture that information. So your sales team can follow up. The intention may be brand awareness, but whatever that is, you're able to custom tailor from start to finish how that works.
Marc Brookland 16:14
Yeah, absolutely. One of the what I pride ourselves on and our strategy on is being able to identify what exactly these keywords are. And a lot of times, they're not what the client thinks, what the client expects, but, you know, that's, that's okay. Sometimes they are. But the point is that you have to make sure if you get that keyword research wrong, then the entire strategy doesn't work.
Jay Kingley 16:41
Fabulous. Now, Marc, I know you're not a newbie into this world. And I encourage people to look mark up on LinkedIn, connect with him, and you'll see his few will resume. But what I'm interested in Marc is how did you get from getting out of college to starting your own firm SEO Locale and building it up to be a significant player in this marketplace? What were those key milestones for you?
Marc Brookland 17:06
Well, to be honest, it was kind of an accident. I graduated, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought social media marketing
Jay Kingley 17:16
Where did you graduate from?
Marc Brookland 17:18
Jay Kingley 17:20
Well known for their performing arts, I might add,
Marc Brookland 17:22
They are. They have an excellent and excellent theater department. Unfortunately, I'm not a great actor. So I guess I stumbled into a bachelor degree in business and marketing, which, you know, these days kind of needs us. And I got an internship at the Wharton Small Business Development Center. And God bless her, she kind of saw how miserable I was every day. And she tried her hardest to find something for me that I really liked. And I started working with a client there who was struggling with some social media issues. And I was actually enjoying it, got an internship at O3 world as a project manager, where I was assisting the head project manager at the time, they were really small, there were only maybe 10 of us. And now they're huge. They have 50 employees or so I love watching them grow. It's incredible, essentially what my job was to go through and QA websites that we were getting ready to launch make sure they were all working, I would help write user guides for the clients that if they wanted to make a change, they could easily make the change. And then the part that really got me into the SEO stuff was the data analysis. So once we would launch a site, I would review all the data, are most users coming through mobile, how's the mobile experience? Where are they dropping off? What were the accident rates, what pages are driving the most traffic, and I absolutely love that stuff. And it worked really great. Because Justin, who was my boss absolutely hated that stuff. I really got into doing all that data analysis. And he was just like, you need to go, you need to find a job like an SEO like this is what they do. And I asked him, What is SEO. So I read a little bit about SEO, and then I got a job at a small local agency. And that was 2013. Now, that's where I really got to learn. Everything from the ground up. It's where I met my business partner who ended up being my mentor and teaching me just about everything. I know what I'm gonna regret saying not on video. He's just gonna receive this but that's to learn everything about the link building strategy, the internal linking strategy the onpage recommendations, getting websites out of the penalty for doing will be called Blackhat SEO, getting yourself into trouble. And the most important thing was the value of reading and staying on top of digital marketing because there are so many updates that go on. So constantly reading to understand what this update update means and how it's going to affect the future. I left that agency and my dear friend, Nick, and mentor for a base selling cabinets. And I was there for a year doing this because I wanted to expand not just the SEO side, I wanted to learn, I wanted to force myself to have to do the content, and the social media and the website, going to be in charge of everything. And I was and I did really, really well. But I sat in a cubicle by myself all day every day. And I was so lonely. I couldn't take it. Right before I left, I registered the business. SEO Locale registered because I knew it was gonna happen. I just didn't know when but I wanted I wanted to. I wanted to steal your SEO Locale. Got another job at what was a college blog, essentially. I was there for a year I was optimizing their content and internal linking strategy and pivoted the business model. So they laid everyone off. And so I was getting two months severance package from then they called me about two weeks later and said, Hey, Marc, we were curious if you do SEO for us. I said, Are you mean hiring me? Or they're like, well, we'd want you as a contractor. I was like, okay, SEO Locale here we are. Now was the summer of 2017, almost four years ago.
Jay Kingley 21:33
But you've got tremendous expertise in a very complicated, ever-changing arena. You bring a lot to the table. I'm sure many of our listeners are going to want to reach out and chat. So what's the best way they can contact you?
Marc Brookland 21:48
Any way they want? Go to Seolocale.com. You can fill out a contact form, you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org. You can email me personally,
Marc m a r c at seolocale.com. You can call me or text me at 215 801 9427
Jay Kingley 22:06
For those who are just listening to the podcast and can't see Marc's company shirt, it's S E O L O C A L E, SEO Locale. There you go. All right, thank you, Marc. Now, Marc. We're going to wrap up here, but I got a little bit of a requirement for you. I make every guest on our video and podcast, do something for our listeners. I call it a gift. And I'm going to hold you to it. Right real-time. What are you going to do for our listeners Marc?
Marc Brookland 22:40
I'm only for listeners of this show. Because you're such a great guy. Jay, I appreciate you so much for having me on here. Anyone who reaches out and mentions that they listen to the podcast, I will do I'll give them a free technical audit on the website and show them where we can improve and what might be holding them back. And while my best recommendations are
Jay Kingley 23:03
All right, well, guys, I think that is a total no-brainer. Really encourage everybody to reach out to Mark. He is a true expert in this area of SEO which is so important to so many businesses. I love his perspective. I certainly always thought when you think of SEO, its content content content. That's about the only thing that you need to worry about. And I learned a lot from you today, Marc, I'm sure our listeners have learned a lot. So I want to thank you so much for being our guest. Until next time, guys. Take care.
Taz Sadhukhan 23:42
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