How to Choose the Right White Label SEO Partner

Choosing a marketing partner can be a laborious process. This can be especially true for white label SEO firms. It can be hard to know who can deliver and who will fall short. Because your white label SEO partner will reflect heavily on your business, you want to find the very best.

Offers the Right Packages for Your Clients

The first step in choosing the right white label SEO partner is finding a white label SEO provider that can fulfill your clients’ needs. 

You require an agency that can work within each client’s budget. 

Your white label partner needs to understand the differences between local and international SEO campaigns. 

They must also understand how to work with each client’s business model. For example, ecommerce SEO is very different from service SEO.

Understands Best SEO Practices

The SEO professionals you work with must be fluent in SEO best practices. Your clients will achieve higher internet traffic when your SEO partner delivers image optimization, page speed, powerful meta descriptions, target keywords, internal links, and more. 

They should also be current on SEO trends, including core web vitals and structured data.

Communicates With Your Client

You know you have found a diamond in the rough if you come across a white label SEO firm that will manage all client communications. Most white label SEO providers will not directly communicate with your clients, instead opting to work behind the scenes. 

If you opt for direct client communication, make sure to set up your white label SEO partner with private-labeled email addresses and phone call routing that represents your brand. 

How your white label SEO partner communicates with your clients will reflect on you, so make sure that your communication policies are aligned.

Offers Transparent Reporting

Everything your white label SEO partner does should be transparent. The firm should offer regular reports that indicate the performance metrics of the accounts they manage. This should include keyword rankings, backlinks, and website analytics. These reports, as with everything, should always represent your brand.

Experience and Competence

One of the best indicators of a qualified white label SEO partner is experience. You do not want to work with a fly-by-night agency. As you go through the selection process, ask your potential private label SEO partner to provide you with the following information: 

  • Years in business
  • Average client retention rate
  • Case Studies

They should demonstrate other successful partnerships and show examples of their work. Be sure to read reviews and ask for references.

Credibility and Integrity

As with any partnership, you need a firm that can be relied on for accuracy, credibility, and integrity. One of the best ways to determine whether a candidate has these qualities is to observe how well they follow their commitments. This information can be gleaned by asking the right questions. Once hired, you will know that your SEO partner has integrity if they consistently do what they say they will do.

Do your due diligence and find the best partner or partners possible. Do not let an overworked, under-skilled SEO partner reflect poorly on your brand. When you know what you are looking for, it is always easier to find what you want. If you are looking for top-of-the-line white label SEO, learn more about our white label SEO services.

What Are Linkable Assets and Why Are They Important?

As a marketing agency, you are tasked with helping your clients boost their SEO, site traffic, and link building. However, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of your content doesn’t generate many backlinks. Not all content is equally effective at attracting backlinks. The content that is effective is content rich in “linkable assets.”

What Are Linkable Assets?

A linkable asset is a type of content that is published online specifically for the purpose of attracting links from other websites. By creating your own linkable assets, you can improve the ease of generating high-quality backlinks and thereby improve your search engine rankings.

Why Are Linkable Assets Important?

Linkable assets can bring a lot of natural, organic attention to your client’s website and written content. Linkable assets can be very beneficial for you and your clients because other sites are more likely to link to them, which increases your page’s authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines. More authority means better rankings. Better rankings mean more traffic, increased brand awareness, and more sales.

Examples of Linkable Assets

When creating linkable assets for a website, it is important to use content that will fit your aesthetic and the goals of your business. Many different kinds of content can become linkable assets if used appropriately and included in the right way. Here are a couple of helpful examples to demonstrate the different kinds of linkable assets. 

Statistics

Statistics are great to use on your website as a linkable asset because research-based statistical numbers often attract a lot of attention. People want to link their readers to solid information that will be attention-grabbing, and statistics are perfect for that function. As you include statistics as linkable assets on your website, make sure that they are accurate and up-to-date, and you’ll be able to attract a lot of additional links.

Quotes

Quotes also make for great linkable assets. Exclusive quotes from well-respected influencers work best. Even if a quote isn’t by someone famous, as long as it fits your niche and your audience’s interests, it is a great one to use. Powerful quotes are commonly linked to other websites since they are attention-grabbing and can add credibility to written content.

Claims

Similar to quotes, notable claims on relevant subjects are also valuable linkable assets. Claims and opinions often attract a lot of interest and traffic to online websites.

Recommendations

Another great type of written content that can be used as a linkable asset is a recommendation. When people have questions, they often do an internet search to find the answer. If you cater your written content to popular questions that arise in your niche, you’ll be able to give valuable recommendations that will answer those questions.

Infographics

Infographics also attract a lot of links from other websites since they are easy to use in presentations, social media posts, and other online features.

Free Tools

If your client’s website offers free tools, they probably count as valuable linkable assets that other websites can link to. This could include anything from a mortgage calculator to an online metronome. No matter what your niche or specialty is, there are bound to be helpful tools that a lot of your audience would like to use.

Primary Research

If your audience wants information to back up their decisions, including primary research as a linkable asset could be great. White papers, eBooks, and similar publications are an excellent way to attract attention and generate links because it can be cited and used in additional research.

Free Guides, Courses, Tutorials

Keep in mind that any kind of free guide, course, or tutorial is also bound to attract a lot of online attention. This would be the perfect kind of linkable asset since it could also be linked to many other websites by readers who would recommend your free guides, courses, or tutorials.

Linkable assets aren’t just any kind of online content; they are explicitly created to gain a large number of links from other sites. As a marketing agency, you will need to invest time and resources in helping clients create linkable assets. By doing so, you will increase the traffic on your clients’ pages and aid them in improving their SEO and growing their business.

For more information about how link building can supercharge your SEO, check out our premium link building service.

What’s the Best Anchor Text for Link Building?

Link building is essential for your SEO. While generating high-quality backlinks is obviously important, many people don’t know that the anchor text itself can play a significant role in the effectiveness of the search engine’s algorithm response.

What is Anchor Text?

“Anchor text” is a word or combination of words that are hyperlinked (i.e., when clicked, they open a linked webpage for the user). Anchor text is usually highlighted or underlined or both. This link “anchors” two sites together; therefore, the words used in the anchor text should suggest to the user the kind of page that they will find on the other side of the link. 

Anchor text also serves another vital function—it suggests to the search engine what kinds of content your webpage contains. Today, search engines can scan and analyze the anchor texts on your webpages and determine the value and relevance of your backlinks. Your content, anchor text, and link value will determine how a search engine will rank your page in user searches. This is why it’s so important to choose your backlink anchor text strategically.

Anchor Text Styles

Your anchor text can be “styled” in a number of ways to increase clarity for the user and maximize SEO potential. Here are a few examples of those styles.

Exact Match

Your anchor text can match exactly the word or phrase you intend to rank. For example, if you were to reference a specific tool like a “carb counter,” you can link the page directly to the actual name of the tool.

Partial Match

In a partial match style, the anchor text contains some of the phrases in the keyword for which you want to be ranked. So “tracking your carbs” could be linked to the same page as your exact match referenced above.

Branded

Branded anchor texts link the brand name or sponsor to the intended page. So “Carl’s Carb Counter” would link “Carl” rather than “carb counter” to emphasize the authority of the brand itself.

Naked URL

A naked URL is simply the web address of your target page displayed on the linking page. Naked URL anchor text is often seen in reference sections or below a paragraph of text.

Generic

You can also use generic phrases for your anchor text and leave the suggestion of what kind of page you’ll go to in the remainder of the sentence. For example, generic phrases include “click here” or “try this link” or “this site.” Generic anchor text leads the reader to a new page but excludes information on the linked page’s content from the anchor text.

What’s the Best Anchor Text for Link Building?

The most effective anchor texts for link building are relevant to the linked page without over-optimizing or sounding spammy. Search engines like Google will penalize your rankings if they believe your page looks like spam. 

To avoid spammy anchor text, build backlinks with neutral, natural anchor text. Make links and anchor text genuinely valuable for your users, and place them in sentences that are clearly, contextually relevant to the linked page. If you’re building multiple links to the same target URL, vary the anchor text styles so the overall backlink profile looks natural. 

As search engines get better and better at understanding page content, the importance of backlink anchor text has declined. But it’s still an important consideration when planning your link building strategy. If done poorly, spammy anchor text runs the risk of having your links discounted or your site getting penalized.  If done well, a natural anchor text distribution can boost your SEO results.

For more information about link building, check out our premium link building service.

How to Optimize a Page for Your Target Keywords

Your target audience regularly uses search engines like Google to find the products and services they need. You need to show up in those searches! That means that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of your business’s success. Figuring out how to optimize your website for your target keywords can take some practice, but when you know the basics, you can make good things happen.

What ARE Your Target Keywords?

Before you can even start thinking about how to use keywords effectively, you need to know what keywords you should be targeting. Deciding on your target keywords is tricky business! You want to rank for the search terms that people are searching the most, of course, but it’s complicated; the higher the search volume, the more your competition will be trying to rank for that keyword, too. Further, Google tries to match the results with a keyword’s search intent, which means you can only rank certain kinds of pages for certain categories of keywords.

Longtail Keywords

For small businesses, the shortest road to success is to identify keywords that are related to your industry, but also that are under-utilized by your competition. These are called “longtail keywords.” These keywords are more specific and are usually composed of longer phrases that people are likely to use when searching for products and services like yours. The goal here is to find longtail keywords that are not being targeted by your competitors, but that your potential customers are likely to use when they look for things online.

There are special tools like SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs that can help you identify high-volume, low-competition longtail keywords. However, if you don’t want to invest in those tools, you can use Google Trends to see the relative search volume of different keyword variations. You can then search these keywords and see whether businesses your size are capable of ranking on the first page.

Search Intent

When researching keywords to target, it’s important to understand the concept of “search intent.” Not every searcher is looking to purchase your product or service when they hop on Google—some are looking for a particular brand, some are looking to compare products and services by quality or price, and some are just looking for helpful information to solve their problems.

You can (and should) make educated guesses about the reason someone might type a keyword into Google. Let’s imagine you’re an ecommerce store selling cashmere sweaters. Here are the categories of search intent that you might think about when doing keyword research:

Transactional

These keywords are searched when users are looking for a specific product or service that they intend to buy.

Examples

  • cashmere sweater for sale
  • buy cashmere sweater

If you are trying to optimize a product or a service page, you should target transactional keywords.

Local

The second type is local keywords which are helpful when clients are looking for products and services in a particular area. 

Examples

  • cashmere sweaters near me
  • cashmere sweaters los angeles

It can be tricky to optimize a page for these keywords without coming across as spammy or keyword-stuffed. Even for local SEO campaigns, it’s generally best to optimize your pages for transactional keywords. You can then use tools like Google My Business to signal to Google where you want to rank for those keywords.

Preferential

When your customers are looking to compare products and companies across dimensions like price, durability, quality, or other important features.

Examples

  • how much is a cashmere sweater
  • best cashmere sweater
  • cashmere vs wool sweaters
  • which company has the best cashmere sweaters
  • cheapest cashmere sweaters

Ranking for “best cashmere sweaters” would be awesome! but if you look at the pages that Google likes to rank for that keyword, most are blog posts or review aggregators that list several different brands—not product pages. Unless you’re trying to promote such comparison posts, it’s tricky to optimize for preferential keywords.

Navigational

Other keywords are navigational (help clients looking for a particular site). In other words, these are branded keywords—your company or the brand name of a particular product line.

Example: emily’s cashmere

Ranking for these keywords is usually pretty easy, even without doing much work on your SEO. Unless there’s an unusual challenge (for example, another company with a very similar brand name crowding you off of your branded keywords), you probably don’t need to intentionally optimize for navigational keywords. 

Informational

Users search these keywords when they want a question answered or helpful information to solve a problem themselves.

Examples

  • what is cashmere
  • does cashmere need to be dry cleaned
  • what is cashmere made of
  • what goes with a cashmere sweater
  • how to wash a cashmere sweater

Informational searches usually return information-rich articles. It’s difficult (and usually not desirable) to try to rank product and service pages for informational keywords. Informational keywords can be useful to help you understand the questions your audience has and what to write about on your blog. You can then link your blogs to your product or service pages.

How to Optimize a Page for Your Target Keywords

When you know what keywords you want to target, you need to know where to put keywords in each page for on-site optimization. The positioning of your keywords on each page can make a big difference in your keyword rankings. 

Try to include your target keywords (or close variations) in your <title> tag and <h1> headings. Make your page URL short, readable, and try to work your target keywords into the URL. Get your keywords into your page’s <meta> description. Keyword-optimize your image alt tags. You also want keywords in your page copy, so that the text of your pages matches up with the keywords you are wanting to use. 

Whenever your blog posts are relevant to a product or service, you should link those posts to the appropriate product or service page. Ideally, those links will contain or co-occur with your target keywords or close variants.

Finally, you want to build backlinks to your important pages. Those backlinks should come from relevant pages, and have relevant anchor text, which ideally should (at least some of the time) contain or co-occur with your target keywords.

To Stuff, or Not to Stuff?

Some brands have focused on making sure that every page is completely full of keywords—so full that it’s awkward to read. And while this might seem like an attractive SEO tactic, it isn’t a recommended way to get the attention of potential customers. Keyword-stuffing your pages might seem like a good fit for the search engines, but it can alienate your audience. Search engines are always getting better at identifying this kind of spammy content and suppressing its search visibility. 

Instead of stuffing your keywords unnaturally into your page, it is better to incorporate keywords naturally. You should provide information that is relevant, easy to read, and compelling for your audience. By choosing to focus on your users, you can actually help your site to better meet the requirements of the search engine’s ranking algorithm.

Mastering SEO is a skill that takes time and effort to develop. But once you have a sense of how to use keywords in the best possible way, you can improve your search engine visibility and scalably increase your revenue.

Longtail Dragon’s Mission and Values

At Longtail Dragon, we live to help small businesses succeed in the modern marketplace. We believe that small business represents the best of this country, and the greatest possible social good for individuals, families, and communities.

We aspire to that mission by conducting business according to the following core values:

ACTING WITH RADICAL INTEGRITY

(1) the quality of being honest, fair, and principled; moral uprightness.

(2) the state of being whole and undivided.

(3) the capacity to endure pressure without breaking, buckling, or yielding.

BELIEVING WITH UNSHAKABLE FAITH

(1) The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

(2) A hope for things which are not seen, which are true

INNOVATING CONTINUOUSLY

(1) Improvements in efficiency or productivity produced through small, creative iterations of systems and processes

(2) Finding solutions to benefit nonconsumers (people for whom no adequate solution presently exists)

SERVING SMALL BUSINESSES

(1) the action of providing meaningful help or assistance to businesses with a soul

BEING BASED

(1) The courageous determination to live our beliefs regardless of the pressures of political correctness or social expediency.

This is who we aspire to be. This is what we care about.

How to Add Managers to Your Google My Business Listing

As a business owner, there are lots of tools at your disposal to make your business as successful as it can be. Google provides excellent tools to help you promote your business and make it easier for consumers to access your products and services. The My Business Listing that Google provides is a great way to make this happen. And, if you have a lot on your plate, you may want to make it so others in your company can make adjustments to your business listing on Google.

What Is a Google Business Listing?

Let’s start from the beginning with what a Google business listing is and how it works. Google calls a business listing a “business profile” for the purpose of your account. These profiles provide potential customers with information about your company. Since most people learn about businesses through the internet and search engine searches, it’s essential to update your business profile with accurate and up-to-date information.

Even if you don’t have a Google business listing, your business will likely be represented on Google. However, the information they have may be inaccurate or even harmful to your company. By setting up a Google My Business profile, you can be in control of what people learn about your company when they search for it online. It will also help your business show up higher on the search results page, which is great for any business.

What Are Managers?

On Google My Business, only certain people are authorized to make changes to your profile. These people are called managers, and they will be able to edit information and make changes on your behalf. If you want a manager to be able to make changes to your profile, you must authorize them. Below you will find the steps to set up managers for your Google My Business listing, so you know that it will always be up to date, even when you are busy with the other elements of running your business.

Who Can Add Managers to Your Google My Business Account?

As the owner, you are the only one who is able to add managers to your Google My Business Account. This is true even when you have added a manager to the account. While that manager will be able to edit much of the account, they won’t be able to add or remove other managers. If you need to remove a manager from an account, you will need to take care of that as well.

If you add another person as an owner, they will be able to make changes to managers on the account. But it is important to note that since owners have more power than managers within the account, you want to be smart about who you add in what capacity. As the primary owner, you will be the only person who can make changes to the primary ownership of the account on Google.

Who Can Be a Manager?

When it comes to who can be a manager of your account, it is up to you for the most part. However, Google doesn’t allow you to add a Google Group as a manager. Instead, they require managers to be individuals. Make sure that you choose trustworthy managers to provide accurate information for your Google listing, especially since this listing is so important to small business SEO.

Adding a Manager

You can add a manager to your Google account in a few different ways depending on your device. You can do it through an Android device, an iPhone or iPad, or on your computer; which to use is really up to your preference and how you like to manage your business. It’s also an option to have both a mobile device and a computer connected with your account so you can make changes to managers whether you are in the office or on the go.

On an Android device, iPhone, or iPad

Download the app from the Google Play Store or the App Store if you are on an iPhone or iPad. 

Open the app and sign in with your account information.

Navigate to the “Menu” button and select the “Manage Users” option. 

You can find the option to add a user in the top right of the page; it will be a plus sign icon. 

You will be prompted to provide the new manager’s name and email address. 

Choose whether you are adding them as a manager or an owner. 

Finally, you will need to retype their email address in the appropriate spot to confirm and hit send to complete the process. The new manager will be sent an invitation, and once they accept, you will be notified.

On a Computer

If you are working from a desktop or laptop computer, you will need to follow a slightly different process to get the new manager added. 

Log in to your Google My Business account online. 

Navigate to the “Menu” and choose the “Users” option. 

You will see the option to invite on the right-hand side of the page. 

Put in the name or email of the person you wish to make a manager.

Choose whether you want to make them a manager or owner and click invite.

They will then receive an invitation at their email, and you will receive a confirmation when they accept the invitation.

Managing Managers

If you ever need to make changes to managers in the future, you can always return to that same page (“Manage Users” in the mobile app or “Users” on your computer). From here, you can see all managers and make changes to their status as necessary. This is helpful when someone is no longer employed at your company, so you can easily remove them from management status in Google My Business. This is also important if you want to grant someone temporary access when you need something changed in a hurry, but you don’t want them to continue having that access under normal circumstances.

Many business owners aren’t sure of the value of SEO for small business, but it is essential to your success. With a Google My Business listing as part of your larger SEO strategy, you can improve the searchability of your business and make it easier for customers to find you.

All Things SEO (Monarch Social Podcast)

On Friday, April 2, 2021, our SEO Manager Tobes had the opportunity to be a guest on Monarch Social podcast. Monarch Social is one of our digital marketing partners. IIn this interview, Tobes discusses how he got started in SEO, as well as several misconceptions about SEO and its future in the digital marketing space.

You can read or watch the podcast episode below.

We’ve also distilled this discussion into a few easy questions and answers for your reference. Check that out on Monarch Social’s blog.

Introduction (0:16)

Morgan:
Welcome back to another episode of the Monarch Social podcast, where we discuss all things digital media marketing in hopes to give the viewers at home a little inside glimpse into this digital marketing world. I’m your host, Morgan McKell. Today I’m flying solo…

…mostly because we needed three microphones and I only brought one…

So, that being said, my beloved co-host Makoa will not be with us today but I will try to hold the banner in his honor.

The last time we spoke with you guys, a lot of things have happened and I’m going to jump into some of those cool things. The big thing was we actually did have our event. We hosted a huge digital media marketing event where we taught some of our tips and tricks of social media, marketing, and advertising. We stomped on some of the gurus out there that we think are just big phonies. We taught some real marketing. We had a great turnout, it was super fun. It was super successful and we can’t wait to do that again. And we’re probably going to do them quarterly.

The last podcast that we did, Makoa and I were talking about websites: what makes a great website and things to look for. And then we started touching on SEO, search engine optimization. And we told you guys, you guys listening, we wanted to bring on our guy. And so that’s what we did for you today. We brought in the big guns.

So, our guest today is none other than Mr. Joshua Tobler. He is the owner of Dragon Tail SEO, right?

Tobes:
Longtail Dragon.

Morgan:
Oh, my gosh. I already screwed it up. Longtail Dragon SEO, right?

Tobes:
Correct.

Morgan:
Josh actually works directly with us and he is our fulfillment center for all of the SEO that we provide. And so I thought, no better guest to have than our guy. So Josh, welcome to the show.

Tobes:
I appreciate the invite!

Tobes’ Story: How Did Longtail Dragon Start? (2:20)

Morgan:
I am so excited to have you here. First of all, tell us your story, who you are, what you’re all about. And then how did you get started in the SEO world?

Tobes:
Sure. Yeah. How much detail do I go into?

Morgan:
Yeah, it’s up to you.

Tobes:
My interest in business goes way, way back. I remember being in the fourth grade or something, we read this book about some kid who makes it big selling toothpaste. How interesting is toothpaste? But the idea fascinated me that like, here’s this kid my age who hustle and grinds and generates his own source of income and this idea just stuck in my head like a mind virus. I could not get this idea out of my head.

Morgan:
How old were you?

Tobes:
Oh, I don’t remember. Third grade, fourth grade.

Morgan:
And there was just this random kid slinging in toothpaste down the street, or at school.

Tobes:
Yeah. I think the book was called The Toothpaste Millionaire or something like that.

That interest is probably what led me to study business in college. And as luck would have it while I was in business school, they developed a digital marketing track. So, it wasn’t exactly a major, but you could take these classes and they gave you, I don’t know, a gold star on your diploma or some crap. I don’t know what it was. But I took all those classes, and I fell in love with it!

That parlayed me into a job in an SEO company doing link building. For those who don’t know, link building is one of the most important (but also the most difficult) parts of getting your website ranked in Google and other search engines. I cut my teeth doing some of the hardest stuff in SEO.

Eventually they put me in charge of the full service SEO service line. And so I was, I learned how to do the keyword research and the technical SEO and the onsite SEO and all those things. I was the guy, I was the account manager. And that was way fun. That was a great learning experience.

But that place did not survive Covid. Or at least that product line didn’t. So I got laid off.

But about a month after I got laid off, I started getting phone calls from some of my old clients saying, “Hey, they didn’t really replace you and we still need SEO. You want to be our guy?”

Morgan:
Yes.

Tobes:
I said, “Yes, I do.”

So, I got the tools I needed and set up shop and I was off and running.

Now, the thing is, I couldn’t make a living with just those clients. So, I did what any business owner should do and I hit the prospecting super hard. And that’s how I bumped into you.

And as luck would have it—and you can tell your side of the story—but I just hit you at just the perfect time because you were looking for somebody to fill those shoes. And so we got talking and I got integrated into the beautiful Monarch ecosystem.

Morgan:
Yeah. So, it was the last part of the year, last year, the end of the year. We had been discussing, adding SEO as our services because it was such a natural fit.

I met with two or three people that I wanted to work with, and they just convoluted the whole damn thing. And it just really put a bad taste in my mouth. I was like, “Screw this.”

And then lo and behold, Mr. Tobes slid into my DMS on LinkedIn and he say, “Hey, yo, I want to do some SEO with you.” I waited till after Christmas and I randomly messaged him back and I said, “Yeah, let’s actually do it. Let’s set up a meeting.”

And then the rest is history! We launched our SEO services with you in January and we’ve just been rocking ever since. And so that’s how that happened.

Awesome story! So, when did you start? Was it right after Covid last year? Or was it fall? When did you start your, “Okay, this is where I’m going full speed ahead with this.”

Tobes:
We were hanging on at that other company for a while. I was trying to do sales and whatever I could do to keep things together. So, I think I got laid off in June. And then by August I was, I was up and running. So, that’s how fast after they shut down that I got the phone call.

Morgan:
Yeah. Because SEO is such a huge thing! I know there’s going to be clients out there that are doing SEO. And then if you just turn that off or just stop doing it, they’re going to be like, “Nah, we got to keep doing this!”

What is SEO? (6:47)

Morgan:
So, one of the big questions I wanted to have you answer, we tried to answer it in our best way last time, me and Makoa. When you’re working with someone for the first time, like when you’re talking to a business owner, how do you describe SEO? What is your, not necessarily your pitch, it can be, but how do you describe SEO to someone that they think they know what it is, but maybe they don’t understand all the facets of it? What’s the easiest way to describe what SEO is for a company?

Tobes:
Well, I mean, from the company’s perspective what matters is getting ranked. So you’re getting seen, getting web traffic, right?

They used to tell you all the time, what matters in business is location, location, location. Well, that’s true, but the location is just digital now. That’s where people are getting discovered.

So there’s a lot of levers that can be pulled in the back end, but what matters is what the visible result is and that’s improved search rankings on the correct keywords. Fundamentally, that’s what SEO is.

Is SEO Worth It? (7:44)

Morgan:
I was reading somewhere that SEO is still one of the biggest budget verticals in the digital marketing world. It’s one of the highest spent. There’s a word I’m looking for. It’s one of the highest paid services out there right now, because it makes companies so relevant.

I know that there’s this back and forth right now where some people say, “Hey, SEO isn’t relevant anymore.” And then there’s other companies that, they doubled down on SEO. What’s your perspective on that?

Tobes:
I think SEO is here to stay.

Morgan:
Same.

Tobes:
I think that it’s just like probably everywhere in digital marketing, that the technology is changing super fast, that the whole environment is changing super fast. So the nature of what goes into SEO is likely to change month to month, say nothing of year to year.

But as long as there is an internet, people are going to use it to try to find the products and services they want. And as long as they’re looking for that, somebody is going to need to help businesses get in front of the right audience.

Morgan:
Yeah, I think it’s just a no brainer how it works.

On one end of it, I think where they were coming from, when people are saying like, “SEO isn’t relevant.” It was kind of how me and Makoa were thinking when we first started. When we first started our company, and I can’t remember if we said this on the podcast or not, we told it at our event, but when we first started, our whole mentality was, “Why do SEO? That’s going to take six months plus. Or we run Google Ads and I’ll make you number one every single time.” Right? That was kind of our mindset.

The thing that happened with us is we look at our oldest client right now, the one who’s been with us for two over two years, right? If they were to stop working with us right now, where do their leads go? How are people even going to find them?

But if we had been doing SEO for the last two years for them and they stopped working with us or stopped using us, they were going to be so much more benefited from doing SEO rather than just doing Google Ads with us.

And that’s when our perspective shifted from short-term versus long-term.

Yeah, short-term, we can probably generate some leads quicker by using targeted ads and PPC stuff. But, if you’re going to be a company that’s planning on being in it for the long haul, you’re going to want SEO, because that’s going to benefit you for so much longer. It’s that longer game. And so that’s how our mindset shifted.

How Does SEO Fit Into Your Broader Marketing Strategy? (10:19)

Tobes:
And I think that’s the best way to think about it.

The fundamental question here is, “Okay, I’ve got I’ve got a new business, I need more customers. Where do I put my marketing budget?”

I think you’re thinking about this the way people should be thinking about this: Well, you need leads today. So going all in on SEO might not be your best bet. You probably do want some social. You probably do want some search ads. But at some point you need to get a permanent presence.

Ultimately, once you have search rankings, it’s one of the lowest cost-per-acquisition, highest-yield marketing channels. But what you pay for that is a bunch of investment on the front end before that really starts paying off. And that’s hard.

Morgan:
I think the hardest part with marketing digitally in general, is there’s so many different avenues to do it and it can be overwhelming. It can get expensive quick.

You have to take a 50 foot top-down view of like, “Hey, what’s your end goal? What are we really trying to do?”

When a company comes into us and they say, “We just want to do everything,” I’m like, “Okay, hold your horses! Because that can mean a lot of different things! Like we’re talking to some big bucks!”

And then other companies come in and they’re like, “Oh, I needed leads yesterday! I just need leads right now!”

SEO is a spoke on the wheel. Social media is a spoke on the wheel, PPC, having a great website, videography, photos, original content, a marketing funnel—you have all these different spokes.

SEO is a huge spoke for long-term success, I truly, truly believe. Any company that wants to stay around or plans on staying around for a while, that should be a big spoke in the wheel that they should focus on.

Earned vs Demanded Attention (12:24)

Tobes:
I think you’re right. And the reason why it’s such a big spoke and the reason why it’s here to stay is—moving up a layer of abstraction—there’s a difference between earned attention and demanded attention, right?

Ads—I’ve got nothing against ads. We do ads. I do ads—but you’re inserting yourself in somebody’s experience and demanding their attention.

That used to work a lot better than it does today. Because with ads, you become part of the noise. Because everyone is doing that!

And people don’t want your banner ad. They want to find the stupid “X” and my fingers are too fat and you always miss it. People want to move on and get to the content or the experience that they wanted anyway. You are interrupting that process, and people don’t like that that much.

Versus: if you can get in front of people who already want what you’re selling. No wonder that’s a higher yield avenue!

And so this is the way to think about content marketing, this is the way to think about SEO: can you earn attention by just being the best and getting in front of the right people, rather than demanding attention?

Although in this environment there’s certainly room for both.

On-Page vs Off-Page SEO (13:52)

Morgan:
One of the things I wanted to do, Tobes, was this. When we start explaining SEO, there’s these typical questions that come up, and I don’t feel super equipped to answer them. But I thought it would be great to have you.

The first one is: what’s the difference between on-page versus off-page SEO? What does that mean? We hear that term around, “Hey, you need, on-page SEO. You need off page SEO.” Help us through that.

Navigate us through these waters, Tobes.

Tobes:
Well, the simplest answer is that on-site SEO is everything you do on your site, and off-site or off-page SEO is everything you do elsewhere on the internet that impacts your search rankings.

Morgan:
What’s more important?

Tobes:
You need both. Everybody needs both.

Morgan:
So it’s 50/50. You can have the best site in the world but if you’re not in other places on the internet, SEO is dead.

Tobes:
Yeah. So maybe let’s start with off-page SEO, because that’s going to be the part that people struggle with the most. Because, by definition, off-page SEO is dealing with a part of the internet that you don’t control, right?

The genius of Google, for people who are old enough to remember. Do you remember Ask Jeeves?

Morgan:
Oh yeah, for sure.

Tobes:
And then people kind of figured out how they did their thing and they gamed it. Then you couldn’t find what you were looking for.

So, everybody moved to Yahoo. And then the same thing happened to Yahoo.

So, everybody moved to Google. And I’m old enough to remember the first time I used Google. It was magic! You got exactly what you were looking for on the first page! Every time! It was magic!

Well, part of the magic was that they figured out how to measure not just relevance, but also authority. I think it was Larry Page that wrote a paper about it in college. He talked about it like this:

If you’re just going to index the entire internet anyway (which is basically what Google is; they just downloaded the internet. That’s why they can serve up search results so fast) then you could count references to different websites across the internet. Those are backlinks. People link to your website. That will give you a rough approximation of how authoritative a site is. It’s a brilliant innovation!

So that’s one thing that you need to do: you need to generate some of those links to boost your authority. Very, very few people can get away without doing that and see good results. That’s usually the missing piece in most SEO campaigns.

Morgan:
So not only does your website need to be strong, but Google needs to know that you’re legit elsewhere on the internet and people are referencing you and talking about you in other places.

Tobes:
Correct.

Biggest SEO Mistakes and Misconceptions (16:36)

Morgan:
What are some of the biggest mistakes or misconceptions there are about SEO that you deal with with business owners?

A lot of our listeners and viewers are business owners—people that are entrepreneurs starting a business, want to start a business, or do have a business. So, what are some of the biggest mistakes of SEO that you see and what are some of the biggest misconceptions of SEO that you see?

Tobes:
Well, the biggest misconception I see is that people just don’t do it. I’ll come to a site and the technical side under the hood is all messed up, and they haven’t looked at that.

Another big misconception is a lot of people try to optimize their site for the algorithm. And the problem with that is—first of all, they’re underestimating how good Google and other search engines are at recognizing human language. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting really, really ridiculously good!

Besides, we don’t have Google reverse engineered. So, you’re guessing at what you think the algorithm wants, and then you’re optimizing for that.

Plus, the algorithm is changing all the time!

So, you’re taking a snapshot of what you think the algorithm looks like today and trying to optimize for that. That’s probably a poor strategy.

A better way to think about it is: Google wants to serve up authoritative relevant results. So, be authoritative and relevant. Optimize for your audience’s ideal experience. Google is trying to approximate that with its algorithm and it’s getting better at doing that.

Morgan:
So, maybe this is more for the agencies then. Because—I’ll just be real—the majority of business owners that I know, if they’re not hiring an agency to build a website for them, they’re building it on Squarespace or Wix, or … They don’t care about the algorithm. They’re just like, “Oh, cool content. Here’s my product. Here’s my logo. Okay. Let’s go.”

Tobes:
And honestly, that’s probably more of an advantage than a disadvantage.

Morgan:
So, with agencies that are hired then are you saying that … Let’s say agencies that build websites, are they trying to build it for the algorithm? And is that where there might be going wrong? They’d be more sophisticated people that are building websites?

Tobes:
It’s the people in SEO who have been around for a long time.

Anywhere else, if I hire an HVAC guy and he says, “Oh, I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” I think, “Great! You’re an experienced guy!”

If you’re an SEO and you say, “I’ve been doing SEO for 20 years,” I’m like, “Yikes, okay. SEO looks really, really different than it did 20 years ago.”

Not that HVAC doesn’t change, but it doesn’t change anywhere nearly as fast as this ecosystem.

Morgan:
Yeah, it could be completely different. It is completely different.

Tobes:
It’s some of the old timers who have been around for a little while that are still, they’re optimizing for a version of Google that hasn’t existed in 10 or 15 years.

How Expensive is SEO? (19:43)

Morgan:
Yeah. The next thing I wanted to tell our listeners is: one of the biggest misconceptions that I have seen is how expensive SEO is, right? Any time I mention it, it’s almost like, “Oh man, SEO, it’s so expensive!”

I think it’s on a sliding scale. You can get started for super affordable, all the way up to full-blown a lot of money a month, okay? You can go as little as people want or as big as people want.

And so one of the misconceptions that I’ve seen working with business owners is, “Oh man, that’s going to be thousands of dollars every single month!”

And I just want to say, “That’s not the case. It’s a sliding scale.”

Tobes:
Yeah, it’s not necessarily the case—although a lot of SEO agencies won’t take smaller accounts anymore.

Part of the reason for that is because, what increased budget really buys you is pace—how fast you can get these rankings.

Morgan:
That’s the same with us with anything that we do PPC or social media. If you want to dump thousands of dollars into Facebook Ads and you want to be on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and we want to do a full blown scale. Well, yeah, that’s going to cost a lot of money. But if we need to start small and let’s just say run Facebook Ads, it’s going to be a very different price.

And so I think that’s with anything though, like with SEO, yeah, you can go as fast and as hot as you want if you have the budget. But that shouldn’t deter you from at least starting now fixing things on your website, fixing some of your backlinks and the things that are going to rank you. And we can relatively do that for a pretty affordable budget with Monarch and us and our relationship.

Tobes:
Yep. With smaller budgets, it’ll be a little while before you’re seeing your ideal results realized. But yeah, there’s absolutely no reason not to at least get started on that level.

How Fast Can You Reasonably Expect SEO Results? (21:38)

Morgan:
And speaking of timelines, what’s a normal timeline? How does SEO work with timelines?

Is there a build-out phase and then it’s just monthly maintenance?

Tell us what a typical timeline is. When can people expect results? What do the results look like?

Tobes:
You ready for the most disappointing answer ever?

Morgan:
Yeah. Let’s hear it.

Tobes:
It completely depends.

I’ll tell you what it depends on; it depends on how competitive the keywords are that you’re trying to rank for. If you’re trying to outrank Home Depot on hardware, you’re screwed, right?

Morgan:
Or you’re going to need a huge budget.

Tobes:
Or you’re going to need a Home Depot-sized budget.

But if you’re only trying to rank locally in your area, for example, that’s a much smaller market. There’s not as many competitors. That’s going to be easier to pull off.

That’s one of the things that we’ve tried to do on these more budget-level campaigns. I’ve gone really far out of my way to try to identify keywords that are not particularly competitive, but are still relatively high yield. That way, you’re getting in front of the right people, and it’s not going to take a really long time.

Even under those ideal circumstances, the fastest I’ve ever seen anybody see visible movement on their rankings is three months.

And that’s the best case scenario. And that’s just rankings improvements. Traffic improvements follow that.

Morgan:
So, you get ranked better and then traffic follows that? Traffic to your website?

Tobes:
Once you get onto the first page, which is roughly the top 10 results. Because nobody moves to the second page of Google. So you got to get those first page results. Once you get there, then you’re going to start seeing the traffic come in.

Then, assuming that you’ve got good conversion rate optimization, that’s when that starts turning into sales. Then we’re looking at positive ROI. But now we’re probably six months in, best case scenario.

Morgan:
So, business owners or people that are looking into SEO need to have a long-term mindset that says, “Hey, this isn’t an overnight fix. We’re going to have to fix a lot of stuff on the backend. Then we’re going to put some actual time and energy into a campaign to get you to where you need it.”

And it might be a year out. Hopefully sooner—maybe we’re six months to a year, but let’s say a year—mindset of dedicated SEO services.

But the whole point of it is: you’re going to be ranking better on Google. Your website will be more relevant and more searchable, and it’ll get more people to your website. You’re going to get more traffic to your website. And that’s how we have to tell people how to look at SEO. Right?

Tobes:
Correct.

Is SEO Still Relevant in 2021? (24:29)


Morgan:
So, I have this random question in here too, Tobes. I kind of asked it earlier, but for the people that say SEO isn’t relevant anymore, what is the Tobes response to that?

Is SEO relevant in 2021?

Tobes:
Yes.

Morgan:
All right. You heard it from him.

Tobes:
I don’t know what else to say about that. I honestly don’t know where that idea comes from.

As we move into a noisier and noisier media environment, earned attention is going to become a more important aspect of your whole marketing channel distribution. Not less relevant.

Morgan:
I completely agree. Like I said, my mindset had to get changed. When we first started, that was the mindset. And then all of a sudden we realized there was so much more value we could give to our clients if we just offered one more little thing.

And so that’s what changed our whole perspective. We’re right there with you. Monarch totally believes in SEO. It’s why we offer it. It’s a huge thing that we offer right now.

Where Can People Find You? (25:37)

Morgan:
Last thing. Tobes, you’re great! Thank you for being our guest!

Where can our listeners find you? Where can they see what you’re all up to or what you’re doing? Where can they find you online?

Tobes:
Well, at this point, I’m doing work for you for the most part. So, monarchsocialbrand.com is a good place to start.

Longtail Dragon has its own website that I have not kept up at all (because you keep selling these SEO accounts so fast you’re keeping me too busy) but that would be longtaildragon.com

Morgan:
Awesome!

Well, that brings us to my next point. Guys, turn on your alerts. I want you guys to follow us. Give us a subscribe. If you want, you can find us on Spotify, Apple podcasts, iHeart, we’re all over the place.

You can find us on Instagram and Facebook as well.

New episodes of our podcast drop every single Tuesday.

And thanks for being our guest today, Tobes.

Tobes:
Hey, I appreciate it. This has been fun. We can do this again sometime.

Morgan:
Let’s do it.

All right, guys, take it easy. Till next time.

6 POWERFUL PRACTICES FOR YOUR 404 PAGE

In an ideal world, your website users will never arrive at a broken page on your website.

In fact, one of the first thing we do for our clients is perform a technical site audit to make sure that–among other things–none of their internal links are pointing to broken URLs. If we do find any, we remove the link or point the problem URL to a working page.

But despite your best efforts, there are still times when a user might end up on a URL which returns a 404 NOT FOUND status code. When that happens, there are a number of things you can do to minimize the negativity of the interaction and maybe–just maybe–even make the experience a positive one for the user.

Build A Custom 404 Page

If your website users land on a URL that doesn’t exist, they’re going to see a 404 page. But it’s up to you whether they see their browser’s generic “can’t be reached” notification or a custom page you’ve set up for this very purpose.

A custom 404 page can minimize the user’s frustration at failing to find what they’re looking for.

It can provide an easy-to-use interface to point them towards the resources they want and need.

Most importantly, it can keep them on your site and get them back into the funnel rather than exiting and finding what they’re looking for on your competitor’s site instead.

Brand And Customize Your 404 Page

You’d rather your users don’t end up on a 404 page. But if they do, you might as well take the opportunity to facilitate another brand interaction.

Make sure your custom 404 page has the same colors, fonts, and logos as appear on the rest of your site so that users don’t feel lost or confused.

Use Conversational Language On Your 404 Page

One way to reduce the negativity of the 404 experience is to speak to the user as if she’s a human. Be authentic. Empathize. Apologize for the experience and offer resources that may help solve the problems she has.

Consider making your custom 404 page funny. This doesn’t work for every brand, but if humor is within your brand’s Overton window, it can be a great way to minimize the user’s negative experience.

Make It Easy To Navigate From Your 404 Page

The user isn’t where they’d like to be, so make it as easy as possible for them to get where they’d like to be as quickly as possible.

The easiest way to do that is by including your normal header and main site navigation at the top of the page.

Add Links From Your 404 Page

Adding links is another way to help the user find what they’re looking for. You may consider linking to some of your pillar content or money pages.

Install a Site Search Bar on Your 404 Page

Site search is another way to help the users navigate to the resource they’re looking for. Most CMS platforms have the ability to install site search functionality on your website.

One of the first things you should do when you begin your SEO efforts is to eliminate broken links and 301 redirect broken URLs so that users and Google’s crawler don’t end up on a 404 page. But just in case a user somehow finds their way to a page that doesn’t exist, a custom 404 page can do a lot to build your brand reputation with them.

If you’re concerned that you might have broken links on your site, use a free SEO site audit from Longtail Dragon to identify them for correction.

WHAT ARE LONGTAIL KEYWORDS?

WHAT ARE LONGTAIL KEYWORDS?

Longtail keywords are low-competition search terms that are easier to rank for in search engines like Google than broader “head terms.”

HOW TO FIND LONGTAIL KEYWORDS

Longtail keywords are generally variants of head terms.

  • They might have geomarkers in them (“nail salon near me” or “karate dojo minneapolis“).
  • They might be questions related to the head term (“psychological safety definition” or “does weight lifting reduce body fat?“).
  • They might be niche subtopics of the head term (“citrus derived cbd oil” or “addiction treatment center that does mental health counseling“).

When we do keyword research for our clients, we start by identifying the head terms, which will probably be the generic terms for their products or services. From there, we use proprietary tools to identify longtail variations.

Suppose you’re doing keyword research yourself and don’t have access to our technology. In that case, a good workaround is to Google your head term and look for the “people also ask” or the “searches relating to” boxes.

LONGTAIL KEYWORDS EXAMPLES

Let’s say you’re a personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City, and you’re trying to improve your search rankings for your car accident practice area.

Some head keywords might include “car accident lawyer,” “car accident attorney,” and “car accident law firm.” Each of those terms is queried thousands or tens of thousands of times a month in Google. But they’re tough to rank for because you’re competing with all the other attorneys who do car accident law.

So instead, you target longtail keywords that include geomarkers, questions, and niche subtopics. You might identify some of the following keywords:

  • car wreck lawyer northern utah
  • how many people die in car accidents every year?
  • chances of dying in a car crash
  • what to do after a car accident
  • car accident attorney slc
  • car accident statistics
  • lower back pain car accident settlement
  • should i get a lawyer after a car accident?

HOW MANY WORDS IN A LONGTAIL KEYWORD?

Longtail keywords are about keyword difficulty, not the number of words.

A common misnomer is that longtail keywords are called “longtail” because they contain more words in the search query. Longtail keywords indeed tend to have more words, but that’s not why they’re called longtail

The term actually comes from a statistical curve that plots the search volume against the number of keywords:

Long Tail Keywords And How To Find Them
Source: WordTracker

The graph’s far right consists of the long “tail,” where the lowest competition keywords live. The fact that those keyword phrases also tend to be longer than the head terms is irrelevant.

In other words, the question is not “how many words” does a longtail keyword need, but rather “how easy to rank for” does a longtail keyword need to be?

WHY USE LONGTAIL KEYWORDS?

If you’re a very astute observer, you may have noticed that almost all search volume is concentrated over on the left side of the graph. Way more people are searching for head terms than their longtail variants!

So why even bother trying to rank for those tiny longtail keywords?

Head terms are high-volume, but they’re also high competition. In a competitive space, you may be investing for months or even years before you show up on the first page of Google (and nobody goes to the second page).

A longtail keyword may only contribute a little bit of website traffic, but you can capture that little bit much faster! That means a lower cost-per-acquisition.

Additionally, you may be able to rank for many closely-related longtail keywords if you optimize your site effectively. Even if each individual keyword contributes less traffic, that traffic adds up as you accumulate more and more first-page rankings.

For small and medium-sized businesses with shoestring marketing budgets, you want to lean into this longtail keyword strategy hard, especially when you’re starting out.

Once your longtail strategy is generating enough revenue, you can think about trying to elbow your way onto the more competitive SERPs.

WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?

If you’re interested in learning how to start finding and ranking for longtail keywords, schedule a free consultation and we can answer your questions.

Alternatively, leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it ASAP.

SUBDOMAIN VS SUBFOLDER: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE FOR SEO?

BACKGROUND

Should you put your blog on a subdomain (i.e. https://blog.yourdomain.com/) or in a subfolder (i.e. https://www.yourdomain.com/blog/)?

This question has caused some controversy in the SEO world. In this post, I’ll try to sort it out.

SUBDOMAIN VS SUBFOLDER: WHICH IS BETTER FOR SEO?

The consensus among SEO experts is that most sites should host their blog in a subfolder rather than a subdomain.

Let’s examine why this consensus exists and why there is some controversy.

GOOGLE CAN CRAWL BOTH

Google’s own John Mueller was asked the subdomain vs subfolder question, and his response basically boiled down to “we crawl subdomains separately, but we can crawl them, so it’s mostly up to you.”

This answer, however, is misleading.

John’s statement makes it sound like there is no SEO advantage or disadvantage to either approach, because Google’s crawler can understand your content either way. Crawlability, however, is only one of many facets of SEO.

WHY SEOs PREFER SUBFOLDERS

Rand Fishkin explains why Google’s official word on this subject does not translate to viable SEO strategy in this popular Whiteboard Friday:

“I think one of the reasons [this question] emerged in the last few years is, unfortunately, some statements by Googlers themselves … basically saying, ‘Google has gotten much better at identifying and associating content that’s on a subdomain with the main domain, and you don’t need to worry about placing content on two separate subdomains anymore.’ I am sure that Google has actually made strides in this area, but this question still has the same answer that it did years ago. … From a technical operations perspective, some things might be easier [with a subdomain], but from an SEO perspective this can be very dangerous.”

Some things might be easier with a subdomain, but from an SEO perspective this can be very dangerous.

~Rand Fishkin

A blog post from Cloudflare contains a more detailed explanation of why subdomains are dangerous for your SEO:

“Keywords are diluted across subdomains. Each additional subdomain decreases the likelihood that any particular domain ranks in a given search. A high ranking subdomain does not imply your root domain ranks well. In a search for “Cool Blog”, bobtopia.com suffers from keyword dilution. It doesn’t rank because its blog keyword is owned by blog.bobtopia.com. …

“Subdomains also suffer from backlink dilution.  … [An] attribution to a post [on] blog.bobtopia.com does not help bobtopia.com because the subdomain is treated separate but equal from the root domain.  If Bob used subdirectories instead, Bob’s blog posts would feed the authority of bobtopia.com. …

“If you’re a startup or small business looking to optimize your SEO, consider subdirectories over subdomains. Boosting the authority of your root domain should be a universal goal of any organization. The subdirectory strategy concentrates your keywords onto a single domain while the subdomain strategy spreads your keywords across multiple distinct domains. In a word, the subdirectory strategy results in better root domain authority. Higher domain authority leads to better search rankings which translates to more engagement.”

The subdirectory strategy results in better root domain authority. Higher domain authority leads to better search rankings.

~Cloudflare

We agree with these assessments.

It’s not just theory, either. Evidence suggests that sites whose blogs live in subdirectories outperform sites whose blogs live on subdomains.

Hosting your blog on a subdomain isolates the potential SEO benefit of blogging to the subdomain, which is probably not what you want.

Instead, you want your blog (and any backlink equity your blog generates) to contribute to the SEO goals you have for your main site.

Interested in learning more about how Longtail Dragon can help improve your performance in Google searches? Learn about professional SEO services!