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Content Marketing: How to Produce the Content Searchers are Looking for with Richard Garvey Founder of Acer Inbound

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June 16, 2020

ANNOUNCER: [00:00:05] Welcome to the Search Talk Live with search engine optimization and marketing experts Robert O’Haver and Matt Weber. Brought to you by Pixel Cut Labs.

Robert O’Haver: [00:00:07] All right.Welcome to another episode of Search Talk Live. With me today is the CEO, co-founder of ROAR! Internet Marketing, Matt Weber. How are you?

Matt Weber: [00:00:31] I’m doing absolutely fantastic, Robert. It’s a great day to be talking about search engine optimization.

Robert O’Haver: [00:00:36] Staying healthy?

Matt Weber: [00:00:37] Yeah. So far, everybody’s healthy. We’re strong in the company, everybody is healthy in the company. Of course, we’ve been following the rules, keeping a safe distance, wearing masks where we should be wearing masks. And so far that’s been paying off. And let’s hope that that continues.

Robert O’Haver: [00:00:51] Nice. Well, today we’ve got in store for everyone – we’re going be talking some more SEO and content marketing. It’s a vital piece of everyone’s strategy. And I think it’s something we should always keep front of mind in our quest to rank, and in our quest to bring in new clients. That’s where it all starts.

Matt Weber: [00:01:14] Yeah. And I think for a lot of the folks listening to the show, and Robert, you tell me if your experience is the same, I think the average business eventually gets some of the technical things we talk about on the show: load time, metadata, et cetera. But I think one of the things I struggle with the most is that content piece. How do they write good content that acts as good inbound marketing?

Robert O’Haver: [00:01:35] Yeah. And, you know, you hear from a lot of different podcasts. You know, everybody says quality content. Well, what is that? What does that mean?

Matt Weber: [00:01:44] Right. Right. It’s like, you know, people that cook their own food. Right. You gotta have quality food where he thinks the food that they cook is a quality. But we’ve got to look at a different standard to find out what’s quality. I think that’s what’s exciting about today’s show.

Robert O’Haver: [00:01:56] So our guest today is an expert in SEO and content. He’s going to tell us all about himself. Richard Garvey, how are you?

Richard Garvey: [00:02:03] Good. How are you doing?

Robert O’Haver: [00:02:05] Good. Keeping our distance. We’re not recording in the studio today, so we’re following the guidelines. So why don’t you tell us about yourself, Richard?

Richard Garvey: [00:02:14] Yeah. So like you mentioned, the founder of ACER Inbound, which is a search agency, we specialize in SEO and creating really, really high-quality stuff. So our mission is to make the Internet a better place. And we do that through search. So, you know, we all understand the experience, that visceral experience, of searching for something on Google and finding exactly what you’re looking for. And you go to the site that looks great and gives you all the information you want, plus more. That’s really what we aim to do with all of our clients and Matt, you made an interesting example there with quality food. So from our perspective, it goes. It’s more than just making the quality food. So if you go to a restaurant and you have an awesome dish, go, that’s great. But it’s really about the whole experience. It’s about your service. It’s about walking in, the look of the plate and how it’s plated, and how the restaurant vibes are. So that’s how we sort of like to think about content. It’s more than just written in there. It’s how it looks, it’s how it feels, it’s how it’s presented from the point you search to that title you click on in Google all the way to the images and the copy and having people engage in the content and all the stuff that goes along with it. So that’s really what we’re talking about and what we do at Acer.

Matt Weber: [00:03:28] Yeah, I think that, and Robert, tell me if you agree that I think that “user-centric experience” will become the most despised SEO buzzword of 2020. It’ll be the most overused. It’s something we’re going to talk about all the time. Deservedly so.

Richard Garvey: [00:03:43] Content is t-e really, you know, that user-centric experience. I’ve never used that phrase. But, you know, I love it. You know, I don’t think it can possibly be overused enough because that’s really what everybody has to think about when they’re creating content. And you mentioned that some sites, a lot of sites are going to get on the technical side, the load speed time. I think a lot might be an overstatement, you know, working with a lot of people, it’s shocking how many have no idea how to use their Web site the right way, even though a lot of people just think, you know, my Web sites there just in case someone finds it. So it’s more like social proof that we exist and are a real thing. But they’re not using it as a place to create content that that helps build their business. You know, I might support their business as far as having, you know, and about US page or a piece of content here and there that their sales team can send out. But it’s such an incredible tool and we really are, even though it feels like we’ve come such a long way, even as far as in technology, as a human race were at the beginning, and the technology as far as SEO, even though it’s, you know what, a couple of decades old, it’s really just getting started. And Google is getting smarter and smarter and the way to create a positive search experience is just to create better and better content. So I think that good for everybody. You know, Google’s mission is to create a better experience for everybody, and that’s what SEO’s experience has to be. And I think that a lot of the time it’s backward. You know, people create content based around keywords and SEO and they really have to – we do it the opposite way. We focus on what’s going to provide the target audience with the most value and then we map that out. We map that out and then we layer over. OK. And how is this going to work from an SEO perspective? What can we maybe tweak here and there as far as the headers and titles and meta descriptions and alt tags and all that fun stuff to cover those bases? But the primary objective is just delivering as much value as we can to the target audience.

Robert O’Haver: [00:05:49] Very nice.

Matt Weber: [00:05:50] So let’s start with that plan because you actually have blog content. And I think in one of your recent blog posts, you talk about a plan and midway through the blog post, you reveal that this blog post has a foundation of some of the research you did, and that’s why you did it the way that you did it. What’s the beginning point for the average person listening to the show to produce content? Where does it all begin?

Richard Garvey: [00:06:11] It begins with understanding your target audience and taking a deep dive and just taking maybe an hour. Sit there and think and brainstorm and say, “OK, what is the goal of this post and what do we want and what do we want people to say?” And you have to map out that long-term strategy. So you’ve to understand the buyer’s journey, what their problem is, what your solution is, and how it fits that. And then you create the content based on that. And maybe you brainstorm a ton of ideas and say – this is what we do. We talk to the sales team and the owners a lot just to understand what the pain points are of your customer and what they’re gonna be searching for, not necessarily your solution. So, you know, if you’re a manufacturing company, producing conveyors or something, they’re not going to be searching for the best conveyor, they’re going to be searching for, “OK, my bottles keep breaking. How do I fix it?” And then you have to find the solution that way. And that’s just one specific example. But you have to understand their problems. And then once you understand their problems, then you can start creating a content plan around that.

Robert O’Haver: [00:07:15] You know, I see this hole that some content writers fall into and they think that content is a one-size-fits-all and it really isn’t. There’s, you know, you have content for sales, you have content for creating an authority. You have content, you know, there are different types for all different scenarios, really? Wouldn’t you say?

Richard Garvey: [00:07:43] Absolutely. That’s what that – comes about. So we use a lot of tools for keyword research. Like AHREFS and SEM Rush, and sometimes Uber Suggest and some things like that. But once we have the keywords we want, so we know there’s some sort of volume there. And that’s another issue, another trap that people fall into. They say they won’t write for something if there’s not a lot of volume there. So our job as SEOs and content writers is not to create demand, it’s to meet the demand. So, if I have a client that has a product and what they’re offering, only 50 people are searching for a month. I’m not going to go after a different topic that has 5000 because, A, we won’t be able to rank for it because the search intent won’t match. And B, you know, we want to provide the value to the people that are searching for that product. So if we have to create topics and content around what the page actually solves and then. OK. So once you have the keyword research that’s done, then you just have to dive into the Google results and see what’s there. So you have to determine what type of content’s there, what’s on the page, what questions are being answered. And Brian Dean does this with the skyscraper technique, so it’s just a variation of that. And just figuring out, “OK, what’s Google searching for or what’s Google showing now that people are finding? Then how can we make it better?” So, you know, look at the number one, two, three, four results. What’s the same in there, and what’s different? What do we like about this and what do we not like about this one? And then build out the content outline – a really, really thorough outline that’s outlining the way that the page is going to be built.

Matt Weber: [00:09:23] And as Robert mentioned, sometimes you have to write longer content to be better than those other sites that you just mentioned and those people ranking ahead of you. What advice do you have to balance the need potentially for longer content with users’ short attention span?

Richard Garvey: [00:09:37] Well, A, I would never add content for content sake. So it has to be valuable. One hundred percent. We go through this, I proofread everything. So when the outline comes through, if there’s a section that I don’t like or doesn’t seem interesting, we take it out. If we write something and it seems redundant or if it doesn’t add value, we take it out. So we don’t add content for content’s sake, but once we have – But you can write a lot about anything. So there’s always more you can add. You just have to do a little bit more research and digging to find that true value there and write through and make sure it’s interesting throughout the whole thing. So making sure the header is interesting, making sure the intro is interesting. Making sure every subsection is interesting and the headers are written well, and then breaking it up. So you have to have – at least our strategy is you have to have a lot of visuals. So it’s more like that backlinko strategy where there’s a lot of visuals, but again, not visuals for visual’s sake. If you’re putting in stock imagery if you’re putting in random images just to break out the text. It’s not going to keep people’s attention because they’re to go right over it. But if you have visuals that are accentuating the copy that’s written in the articles, if they’re adding more value, if someone, I like to think of it, if you can look at every picture and article and have a good understanding about what it’s about and learn something, then they’re good visuals. If you can just scroll over them, it’s someone you know, it’s a random computer monitor or if it’s some stock image of a model smiling, it’s not going to provide any value and it’s just not worth having in there.

Matt Weber: [00:11:06] Would you agree that the headers then kind of play a role in helping the reader find what part of that content is most relevant to them? The headers allow people to skim the article quickly, get to the part that interests them and they play a very important role. They shouldn’t be just secondary thoughts when you write the copy. Would you agree?

Richard Garvey: [00:11:24] Oh, a thousand percent. So when you’re writing content, you have to write it to two audiences. So one is the users that are going through it and the second is Google that’s reading it on the back end. And they kind of read the same way. So when you’re looking at an article, you look at the title first, then you look at the headers, then you look at the copy. So Google does that to create the hierarchy of what it should rank for, what it thinks it should rank, what they should put on the search results page to give it a chance to rank, and then users do the same thing. So another thing you can do is have all the sub-topics at the top of the article so they can click and go straight to that section if it’s a long post. And also have the subsections all very distinct, very interesting. So treat them each as, you know, the title tag that you spend a lot of time making, and the SERP title, and the title of the page that you have to, you know, 80% of the people read the title and then leave or decide to read the title based on sorry, decide to stay on the page based on reading the title. And a lot of the same goes for the header. So you have to spend a lot of time making them really interesting and giving the person a reason to read it. So a good rule of thumb is if you don’t think it’s interesting, the readers won’t think it’s interesting, so write something until you like it.

Robert O’Haver: [00:12:43] Especially the title. The title has to be catchy because, you know, because someone scanning through, you want to have something that stands out.

Richard Garvey: [00:12:50] Yeah. There’s a reason that all of us click on those clickbait headlines, even though we know they’re trash and because they’re really interesting. It’s like, you know, maybe this one’s different. Maybe it is the most exciting thing I’ve ever read. They’re usually not. But that’s another thing that makes for the number one ranked content is that the value of the page matches the value that you think is going to be in there based on the headline.

Matt Weber: [00:13:18] Yeah, I think one of the best old school, if you’ll forgive me for using that term, techniques that I learned in elementary school and middle school that shows up big in digital content world is outlining. And people just have forgotten how to outline and basically create a structure for content that is based on subtopics related to larger topics. Just that very fundamental skill becomes very useful in creating content digitally.

Richard Garvey: [00:13:49] Absolutely. And it just saves so much time. If you take more time creating the outline, especially when you’re working with clients that have to approve the content, and everything is so subjective when you talk about great content. So, no matter how good it is, a lot of times a client would have said it differently or something like that. So it’s really, really important to have their input throughout the whole way. And one of the big things we do is creating a really thorough outline that that goes over the sections, the subsections, what we’re gonna include in each, you know, maybe links we’re going gonna put here, visual recommendations and all the keywords that we want to include in the article. We don’t start writing until the client says, yes, I love it. This would be perfect because then instead of having them rewrite big sections or saying, we don’t like this, take this out and rewrite this, it’s just the one – the first draft is usually really solid and there’s always some revisions that need to be made. But there’s nothing major that would result from not having that outline, having them scrapping it a piece entirely or having a rewrite, you know, two thousand words or something.

Matt Weber: [00:14:57] Yeah. And particularly, if you’re listening to the show and you’re running a shop, that’s great advice, because if you’ve projected a project fee for this job and you’ve got a flat fee coming in, then you’ve got to control your labor costs. And the way to do that on the copy side, which is one of the harder places to control the labor cost, is to get that outline approved first.

Matt Weber: [00:15:15] So that not only, as you described, Richard, you’ve got an acceptable level to begin it, but you’ve got something to compare it to, if they do reject a piece of copy downstream, you could say, well, you told us beforehand that it should do this, then it makes those discussions faster and easier.

Richard Garvey: [00:15:31] Absolutely. Exactly.

Robert O’Haver: [00:15:34] So what would your advice be to, let’s say, a small business? You know, we have a lot of small business people listening to us, too, especially during the time of the Coronavirus where, you know, they’re having to shift gears and change their whole way of thought on business. What would your advice be on someone that doesn’t know how to do keyword research, but wants to write something about their business to draw attention?

Richard Garvey: [00:16:02] So the thing about SEO in and creating good content is that it’s very, very simple, but it’s hard and expensive. So the way to create great content for a small business would either be to invest more than you’re comfortable with and in an agency or content or something like that or invest a lot of time to learn. There are a ton of free tools out there for SEO that you could use like Uber Suggest and some of the great blogs like Backlinko and AHREFs and MOZ and all these places where you can learn a ton about this stuff. So, I would recommend learning first, which is, you know, critical to anything in life. If you want to get good at something, you to have results, there’s no sort of cheat codes around hard work and expertise. So learning a lot of that stuff and then creating the content that is interesting to your audience, like I mentioned before. So there’s a lot of elements to SEO that you have to do on the back end, but it all starts with writing great content. And once you do that, it’s a lot easier to do all the other stuff. So developing or gaining backlinks and gaining exposure and pushing out to your social networks or e-mail subscribers or getting people to come back is so much easier when there’s good content to support it. So, yeah, you have to do that or else you’re sending thousands and thousands of emails and getting, you know, a one percent return rate. It’s a lot easier when you generate all that stuff organically.

Matt Weber: [00:17:42] Richard, do you test a particular proposed keyword phrase via Google ads before committing an organic content strategy to that phrase?

Richard Garvey: [00:17:51] I think with every company I work with, there is a Google Ads manager also that we work with so we don’t do a Google Ads. So we chose to specialize specifically in SEO because when we did start branching into other things like e-mail marketing and paid ads, it just spread us too thin. And that’s not where our sole expertise lives. So we decided to focus on that. But I work very closely with companies that run the paid ads. So we make sure all the keywords make sense and have true volume behind them because you can get a lot of information from AHREFs and SEM rush but some of that keyword stuff is not exactly accurate. So, it’s close, but the only way to really get that information is through Google ads testing because you’re paying for clicks, and you’re paying for volume, and searches, and impressions and all that, so we do double check that there is volume there, but a lot of times we do not check that. So we just trust AHREFs and SEM Rush that there is a significant chunk of volume there to create the content around. And once we have the topics outlined and confirmed with the client, so what we want to focus on, we’re pretty comfortable with them because there are so many secondary terms that go into them as well, that sometimes we’ll write the content for a target keyword and then we’ll see it’s starting to rank for a different keyword and then it’s more volume and it’s more valuable and we’ll sort of make optimizations on the fly and change around that. So we’re very, very flexible with how we build out the pages and the content. But it’s never like a drastic change. But sometimes we’ll make a few tweaks here and there after to optimize it further.

Matt Weber: [00:19:37] What’s your sense, Richard, of the action that you designed for people to take on that page and how it has to be aligned with what they are expecting to do in your industry? Maybe it’s to get a quote when in somebody else’s industry, maybe it’s to get a price or get an estimate. How important is the alignment of the action that you desire on that page that you’re creating with what the user is expecting?

Richard Garvey: [00:20:01] Oh, it’s huge. So like I mentioned earlier, you have to think about the customer journey. So we try to create content that’s catered to each one. So, for example, one of my clients is a marketing platform that does texting. So one of the pieces we created was the ultimate guide to text messaging for business. And that’s really just informative educational content that doesn’t really have any pitches in it because when someone’s searching for that, they’re just learning. They just want to know what it is. How is the viability of it? What goes into texting for business? What can be done with it? You know, is it just for sales? Is it for operations? Is it just for marketing? Is it all this stuff? And then once they get to the end of that piece, we want them to have a full understanding of the capabilities, what that is. So they’re now an informed customer that can then go to that second stage of the journey, which is those how-to guide, you know, how to create a text marketing campaign step by step. And that’s when we start getting into some of the more sales type stuff. So we talk about how to do it from a broad perspective, you know, creating the target audience and making sure your goals are aligned and KPIs.But then also some of the specific actions you can take on their platform and how it’s a superior platform to some other of the competition. But we’re not trashing the competition. We just say, hey, if you want this use case, this is better, if you want this use case, maybe use us, and then we have to optimize, of course, the core pages. If someone’s searching for their brand, they have to find them. And a lot of times branded searches are overlooked, but you have to make sure those pages are fully optimized as well. So if someone’s searching for them, they need to know how they can buy, a very, very clear page, what the prices are, hat are the next steps? Have those all over the page. So really understanding the journey of OK, thinking they have a problem, what’s a potential solution? OK, I know how to solve it. How do I do it? Who should I use? And then OK, I want this company. How do I buy it?

Matt Weber: [00:22:05] A lot of folks listening to the show may say, you know that’s all great stuff but I’m just not a writer myself and they’re good to go out to the marketplace. They’re going to look for a good content writer. And as soon as they do that search content writer, content writer near me, you’re gonna see a whole lot of folks ranking for that. How does someone choose between a variety of writers to find out if they’re a good fit for their industry and that they’re good content writers?

Robert O’Haver: [00:22:30] Great question.

Richard Garvey: [00:22:30] I wish I had a great answer. That is very, very hard. And especially, especially for small businesses, including my own, because I am not a great writer. I fall squarely into that category. I love the outlines. I can edit pretty well. I have the ability to tell if something’s bad. So like most people, it’s a lot easier to go to a page and say, you know, something doesn’t feel right about this page, than creating awesome content. But it’s so hard for a small business owner to find great content writers because getting dependable, high-quality content is really expensive, which is why it’s hard to scale really good content, which is an issue that we face. You know, how can we scale creating awesome content on a massive level, which is, I don’t even know if it’s possible yet, but we’re gonna we’re gonna try to do that because it’s just really hard to like you mentioned, it’s a fixed price a lot of the time. So it’s hard to fit a lot of revisions into that. And it’s hard to trust someone to create even that first draft content. And if you say, OK, we want 4000 words that come back and 4000 words you don’t like, then you just sunk a lot of time and money into that. So I think the best way to go about it, which is what I did, is trying to find writers that you can test, you know, maybe half price for a piece of short content. And then once you really like them, you’ll probably have to go through a bunch. Then you can try to work out something more long term with them. And especially if your small business owner using a freelancer, the prices can be pretty competitive if you find the right person. We use Upwork a lot, so writing really descriptive job post about exactly where you want to be, exactly what skillset they’re looking for and maybe the expertise. So if you want a marketer or a writer that can write about marketing, they can write about tech, they can write about, you know, law or something like that. Having that in the outline of the job proposal and then just cycling through until you find someone that you like and that fits your brand.

Matt Weber: [00:24:44] Yeah, I’s say to anyone listening to the show. There are two things you should have before you hire a writer. You should have your own company’s list of do’s and don’ts. And I’d love to say every company should have a brand book, but that’s just not going to happen. But you could have your do’s and don’ts, which are part of almost your everyday conversation, your company. Hey, we never use the word killer. We never compare ourselves to another company or we never refer to ourselves in the first person. These are things that have come up almost every week in your company and you should just jot them down. And the second thing you should jot down is just a list of acceptable facts, numbers. I kind of call it a numbers catalog and just have nine things that you agree on statistically about your company. We’re the largest of the blank. We were started in this. We produce over twenty thousand widgets per year. So that the writer isn’t going back to you with all of these questions and you give them a starting point with things that you already agree on. And in some cases don’t agree on and that way you’ll reduce the number of revisions as well. But you should have your list of do’s and don’ts ready before you hire a writer.

Richard Garvey: [00:25:46] Absolutely. And once you find a good writer, I would invest more in keeping them because you can have the brand book, you can have all these guidelines. But having the same voice is very, very difficult. And it takes a lot of edits and revisions. And no matter how many of those you can do, if you have different writers for every piece and you’re trying to keep that same voice. It’s difficult. So when you find someone you really like, you stick with them. So you have that consistent feel throughout all of your content.

Matt Weber: [00:26:14] Yeah, because you’ve got the cost of acclimation, which doesn’t show up in your profit and loss statement. Every time you hire a new writer, you’re going to lose time. You’ve got slippage and trying to get that writer up to the same level of speed where the previous writer was. Somebody who knows your voice knows the brand, understands your dos and don’ts, definitely pay them a premium because you’ll save it on the back end.

Richard Garvey: [00:26:33] Yeah. And you have to consider the long term value of the content. So even if it costs you more upfront, it’s going to make so much more having really, really high-quality content over the course of six months to, you know, a couple of years. Just understanding and investing in the future, which is, you know, a conversation as SEO we have to have, you know, all the time with prospects like, look, yeah. You will be paying for no results for a little while. But just trust us and it’ll work in the end.

Richard Garvey: [00:27:03] Good. Well. We got to take a break. But before we break, when we come back, we’re going to have what is called, “Who influences the influencer?” We want to know, Richard, who influences you.

Richard Garvey: [00:27:15] All right.

Robert O’Haver: [00:27:15] After these messages. We’ll be right back.

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Robert O’Haver: [00:30:30] All right, we’re back.So, Richard, who influences you? Who are the who are the people you follow on maybe social media or around the Web that kind of keeps you up to date and influences you?

Richard Garvey: [00:30:47] Well, it might not be common but I actually don’t really use social media that much. I’m on it. But it’s been now about six months or so I haven’t gone on. I thought it was, you know, not the best place in the world. So I stick to more just Google searches and blogs. But the people that I follow are pretty much who everybody follows in the industry. So, you know, Neil Patel. And Backlinko, Brian Dean, and Moz, and all these places. And also, when just doing research, I love just scouring the web for, you know, looking for articles about top SEO or whatever we plan to write about, reading some of those pages. So, you know, if Google ranks them number one, they’re pretty good. And also listening to podcasts like this one and others, always just trying to soak in as much information as possible, because in this industry, if you’re not constantly trying to stay up to date, you’re going to miss a lot of stuff.

Robert O’Haver: [00:31:43] Yeah. Absolutely.

Matt Weber: [00:31:45] Let’s talk about a little different type of writing. Let’s talk about writing descriptions, because people will say it’s one thing to optimize a piece of content, but now it’s about optimizing the Google search engine results page because it’s one thing to rank, it’s entirely another to get the click. So what is your tip for writing a good description to get that click?

Richard Garvey: [00:32:04] So a description outside of the title?

Matt Weber: [00:32:07] Yes.

Richard Garvey: [00:32:08] So the good thing about meta descriptions is that they don’t need to be really SEO optimized because, from all the things I’ve read, they’re not really huge ranking factor as far as the keywords that are in there or anything like that. But the click-through rating is obviously very, very important for SEO. So what we try to do is try to be informed about exactly what the post is about, but also have some sort of teaser in there to make them want to learn more.So that’s basically our structure. So in a short sentence about, you know, what the post is about, a teaser about what is in the post that they have to know, and obviously make sure that is covered in the post, and then just a quick “click here to learn more”, or something along those lines. So when you’re writing these meta descriptions, they have to, I think it’s like 165 characters you have to stay within, there’s a ton of articles, there’s a ton of research about what goes into making a great meta description. But the gist of it is, make sure it’s interesting, make sure it’s there – a lot of the times people will write a piece of content, or especially if it’s a core page on the website. Not exactly a blog. They’ll just overlook the meta description entirely. So number one, make sure it’s there for every single page you have. Number two, make sure it’s interesting. Spend a lot of time writing those and making sure that it’s something that you would want to click on, and you’re thinking about the search intent. So make sure whoever is looking for that term, make sure it’s relevant to exactly what they’re looking for, and then have that teaser in there and then just give them a CTA to click and find out more.

Matt Weber: [00:33:45] Yeah, I think you said a keyword there. And Robert, I know this is part of your passion as well. It’s a tease, but let’s address it for what it is. It’s a tease. And you have to convince that reader to do the click, take the action, move the mouse. Don’t just state the obvious, but tell them what they’re going to gain after they do that click. It’s a tease.

Richard Garvey: [00:34:05] Absolutely.

Robert O’Haver: [00:34:06] Not just for blog content, but maybe it’s a product or a service. In some sense, you’re writing almost like you would Google Ads presentation. You know?

Matt Weber: [00:34:16] That’s a great way to put it.

Richard Garvey: [00:34:17] And that’s actually a great place to find inspiration. Certainly, if you’re doing keyword research, looking at the titles and the and the meta descriptions of the ads, because you know that not only are they good enough to show up in the first spot, because that’s pretty much a search engine within a search engine at that point, because the quality score and everything, you know, they paid a lot of money for it. So they spent a lot more time probably than the people in the organic results. So seeing what they’re writing in their in their meta descriptions and then and using the skyscraper strategy based off of that is one of the key techniques we use to write those.

Robert O’Haver: [00:34:56] Very good.

Matt Weber: [00:34:57] Richard, you wrote something in one of your most recent blog posts, “Don’t Fear Zero Click Search Results.” And in this show today, we’ve talked about, satisfy the user’s journey, answer their questions, make sure you’re answering their questions. If you do that well in a blog post or piece of content, you may show up as a featured snippet, which therefore means you may not get the click because the click isn’t available to you. Why should we not fear the zero-click search result? Because we don’t benefit from a click if that’s what we end up with, with this great content, because that’s what.

Richard Garvey: [00:35:28] As SEOs, our goal is to create the best experience for the users. And if that means we can get them the answer they need without clicking on our Web site, you know, it’s sometimes, so be it. That’s how it is. That has to be our number one focus. So if we’re only focused on driving people to the Web site and making conversions, then you’re going to lose ultimately. So I think, ultimately, you need to focus on providing as much value as you can and you’re not going to get nothing from it. They’re going to see your URL there and they might, you know, not notice it every time, but they’re going to say, OK, that’s a good answer. Maybe I’ll come back to that next time. And also, if it’s a featured snippet that they can get everything they need from that search, it’s probably not a super high quality converting search in the first place, because if you’re trying to convert someone, it’s going to need to be a lot of content. So if they can get everything you need from a paragraph, probably not the user you’re trying to find anyway. If, you know, someone searching for, you know, how tall is Tom Hanks and they don’t have to click on your site, they’re probably not going to be that valuable anyway unless your goal is to get traffic and convert and monetize ads. But then you just gotta create better content. So we have to be on the same page as Google as providing the top experience for users no matter what. So if that means they don’t have to click on the site, so be it. Create better content that they need to learn more.

Robert O’Haver: [00:36:51] And if you’re writing the content in a way that, I mean, let’s say it’s a service or a product. If you’re giving the answer in a way that it gives them everything they need in that situation, you really want them to click through to your site. So you want to make sure that you leave them hanging a little bit.

Matt Weber: [00:37:11] And it really talks to, Robert, your point at the very beginning, different types of content for different purposes. And that’s where having a content plan comes into play. And just trying to attack these on a one-on-one kind of one-off basis as they come up isn’t going to yield as much result as if you had a somebody figure out the plan for you. What kind of content do we need for what kind of query and map it out and then it progressively work?

Richard Garvey: [00:37:36] Yeah. And as it comes to, you know, providing the answer once they click into the article, I like to answer the search query pretty quickly. Usually in the first paragraph to optimize for that search snippet. But then it’s our job to make them want to learn more. So if they get everything they want in that first paragraph and they’re not interested in reading on, that means it wasn’t a good intro paragraph and we need to do a better job. So the purpose of every line of every sentence is to get someone to read the next sentence and to do that, you need to provide awesome, interesting content. And that like goes back to what we’re talking about with the header sections and making sure that each section is valuable, is more valuable to the last, or at least equally valuable to the last so they can read all the way through and get the intention that we wanted them to get out of that article. If we want them to learn everything about texting for business, we want them to read the whole thing. So then they can take the next step and try to learn more about the intricacies and how that company can help them do that. So the meta description is definitely a tease to get them to click in but then once they’re in there, I like to provide as much value as quickly as possible and just keep them keep them going through the article by adding even more.

Robert O’Haver: [00:38:55] Honestly, that brings up a valid point too. Those of you that think that you can just throw something out there in an SEO world, there’s always tweaking and testing and tweaking and testing to make those things better.

Matt Weber: [00:39:09] We’re on the same page for sure. I was going to ask the same question, because, Richard, you talked you talked earlier in the show, just like Robert had in his mind too, you had a piece of content and you looked at it, and then you realized it wasn’t ranking for A but it was ranking for B and it needed to be tweaked. So how can you guide somebody listening to the show? When do you look at that content and when do you know it didn’t do what it was supposed to do? And how do you know when it should be updated?

Richard Garvey: [00:39:35] We typically don’t look at the content until about a month after it’s posted so it get some traction. And then when we doall the research it is usually through search console. So we look at, OK, what is it ranking for? Hopefully a lot of stuff. And where are those rankings within that top 100, which is potentially leading the most traffic to that page and then maybe we can optimize there, and also looking at the click-through rate relative to the title? So we have a rough idea about what the click-through rate should be in each position in Google. So if we see it’s in the third position, but it’s not going to click-through rates it’s opposed to, then we have to relook at that title. Or if we see that it’s in the eight position, but it’s getting, you know, fifteen percent of the clicks. Well. OK. It’s just a matter of time that goes higher into the rankings. So let’s not worry about there. So we have to make sure that all of the click-through rates are roughly matching what they’re supposed to. And if they’re not, then making those changes, but it’s also a delicate balance that you don’t want to change too much to lose rankings that you currently have. So sometimes, in the past, it hasn’t happened too much recently since we stopped making drastic changes. So where we would say, oh, this is ranking for this, let’s change the content and then it would fall off the rankings altogether. So, well, that was a mistake. So we have to be really, really careful about not changing the intended all of the article, not changing what’s provided, but just slight tweaks to the title and slight tweaks to the tags and the headers within can make a big difference.

Robert O’Haver: [00:41:05] Well, let’s talk a little bit about getting more content seen. Like, for an example, you have related posts, stuff like that, so that you can lead people deeper into your site, you know, internal linking, that type of thing.

Richard Garvey: [00:41:22] Absolutely, yeah. Internal linking is critical when you’re writing posts and having to push them around the site and having them open a new tab especially. And then so, yeah, you have to, when you’re writing about something, if it makes sense to add an internal link or to add to another page, absolutely do that. If it will add more value. So if we’re creating a piece of content that’s covering a lot of topics, but we have a different post that covers a sub-topic in enormous detail. Absolutely, it makes sense to link to that page. But just to – people get in trouble when they throw in links everywhere just because the word matches the other page or something, it has to be under the lens of adding more value to the page by allowing people to link to other places that have more information about what you’re talking about, even if it’s an external link. They’re also extremely valuable. And even if it’s a competitor, which is a little controversial to link out to them, but if they have a really great piece of content and it will help your user, then your user will appreciate it. And I think it always works out to act in your customers’ best interests to think about how you can help them more. And if you’re a competitor is better than you, just make a better product. So we don’t like to do that a lot, but we’re not extremely averse to linking out to other blogs that are written by people in the same industry.

Robert O’Haver: [00:42:55] Yeah, especially if they’re, you know, they’re localized. So if you link to someone, let’s say it’s a lawyer who’s in Orlando being linked to an Ohio-based blog post or something. That’s not going to hurt them.

Richard Garvey: [00:43:11] Yeah, it just always has to be through the lens of, like, OK, if if if the person reading this would get more out of that by reading this article, then so be it. And then, you know, maybe you can get a link back from them as well. But that’s not to say to ask for reciprocal lengths because those are not good.

Robert O’Haver: [00:43:29] I just had to throw that in there.

Richard Garvey: [00:43:32] Yeah. Just in case someone made a plan out of that. Don’t do that.

Robert O’Haver: [00:43:36] All right. Well, I think it’s that time, Matt.

Matt Weber: [00:43:38] Richard, it is time for, “Believe it or leave it.” One of the more popular parts of search talk live. We’re gonna give you three statements we found on the Internet. And we’re going to ask you to tell our audience whether they should believe it or whether they should leave it. Are you ready?

Richard Garvey: [00:43:51] I’m ready.

Matt Weber: [00:43:52] All right. Here’s number one. You should put a video on your most important landing pages because videos increase time on page and time on page is a user-centric ranking signal.

Richard Garvey: [00:44:04] You should put a video on your page if it will add value to the page, not because it will add time on-page. Time on-page is an important signal, but if you have a really great piece of content and you don’t have any capacity to make videos and you think you’re just going to film a video on your phone and say, hey, look, I add a video in there, it will not add time on-page. It will make people click on the video and then leave your page and leave you thinking you’re not a trusted source. So make sure your video is extremely high quality. Make sure it adds value to the content. And then, yes, I’d recommend adding video and that’s not saying you need a big studio or lights or anything, but make sure it’s a really thorough video that is adding value to your user. And then, yes, it will increase time on page, then I would recommend using video because it is really interactive.

Matt Weber: [00:44:54] All right.

Richard Garvey: [00:44:55] Believe it! Sorry.

Matt Weber: [00:44:56] So you want to do it well, not do it just to try to fake out the search logarithm. Do it because you believe in it and you believe in the content.

Richard Garvey: [00:45:05] Yes.

Robert O’Haver: [00:45:05] All right. Question number two, you should make your CTA’s click-to-call or a chatbot because form submissions are becoming a thing of the past.

Richard Garvey: [00:45:17] I’m going to say leave that. I don’t want anybody calling me. So I would definitely prefer people to fill out forms and schedule meetings because having people cold call me all day, even warm leads because a lot of the leads you’re gonna get are not going to be good. So I think, you know, waste a lot of time on the phone if you just if you eliminate forms. But I would recommend having an automated form of response to make people think there are a lot of people to engage with you right away, allow them to schedule the meeting if they’re downloading an e-book. So any form sort of form gated content, make sure it gets them right away, make sure it provides the value that they are seeking. But, yes, I would say do not get rid of forms because they are – I personally believe they are not a thing of the past, I don’t know what you guys think.

Matt Weber: [00:46:09] Google put out a piece of content a couple of weeks ago. And one of the effects of COVID-19 is that the ratio of mobile traffic to desktop traffic is now changing in a very significant way because people are working from home. And in turn, many sites are experiencing a shift back to form submissions, and away from phone calls, because most sites, many sites are seeing a higher propensity of phone call clicks from a mobile device, right? Because it’s just one action, you move your thumb and you click on it. Form submissions are more likely to come from a desktop. And now that people are moving back to desktop because of working from home, we’re seeing form submission’s gain, a little bit more traction.

Richard Garvey: [00:46:53] Yeah, I mean, I guess it all depends on on your industry as well. So if you are you know, if you’ve got a giant sales team and you’re looking to sell products and they don’t mind being called every day, sure, have your phone number on there. But if you’re a small team or a small business owner or an ad agency, it benefits me enormously to have more information going into a call. So if someone submits a form, I’m able to research their site. I’m able to look at some of the issues that they have from the SEO perspective, maybe to verify, you know, their budgets and their wants and their desires from the forms that we offer. So it benefits me enormously to have that information to improve the conversion rate once I get on the phone versus having someone, you know, cold call me and we can have a conversation in generalities about how our product can help them, but not specifics. And the specifics, I think, are what really is beneficial when you get to back that level of conversation.

Matt Weber: [00:47:52] Alright, so leave that one. Okay, last one. You’re doing great, Richard. Here’s the last one. An SEO technique is to test different meta descriptions to achieve a higher clickthrough rate because a lower position on a Google search engine results page with a higher clickthrough rate is easier to achieve than a higher position and weaker clickthrough rate.

Richard Garvey: [00:48:19] So you broke up a couple of times in there. What was the question of whether or not to test meta descriptions?

Matt Weber: [00:48:25] Yes. To achieve a higher clickthrough rate because the author theorized that it is easier to achieve a higher clickthrough rate without improving your position than it is to improve your position with your existing clickthrough rate.

Robert O’Haver: [00:48:44] Usually, though, if you get a high clickthrough rate, your position will go improve.

Richard Garvey: [00:48:51] Yeah, that’s exactly how I was going to say. So that’s an interesting one. I would say if you have a really good meta description, your clickthrough rate is high, just sit back and wait.

Matt Weber: [00:49:03] Yeah, he had some interesting data on this, and in particular he was talking about companies that have to compete with large directories like or Yelp, where the likelihood of jumping over them and positions one and tow, it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort. And so he’s making the case and says, hey, before you do that, try testing different descriptions and try to increase your clickthrough rate where you are. Which may be less resistance and less effort than trying to hop over some longstanding, well-established domains that are entrenched in higher positions.

Richard Garvey: [00:49:40] Yeah. If we’re dealing with some of that, if someone wants to rank for a term like that and I look at the search results page and I see Yelp. I see Angie’s List. I see, you know, Capterra, all these different citations. I just change the keyword. So that’s the primary thing I would do is go for a more of a niche long-tailed keyword that doesn’t have those citations or any of those big businesses on there because you’re going to be much more likely to rank. And when you talk about getting actual traffic, if that term has, you know, 5000 searches per month and a smaller term has 250, but it doesn’t have to compete with Yelp, then you’re going to get a much larger number than you would even if you optimize the page fully and you get into the number eight spot behind all these different things. If you’re in the number two spot in a less competitive term, you’re going to get way more traffic. So I would say shift your research and your keyword targeting. If you’re having to compete with those big companies or if you’re a massive brand trying to compete with them, then, yeah, maybe testing out a lot of stuff. I think you’re going to waste more time than you would shift your strategy.

Robert O’Haver: [00:50:56] Yeah. I was gonna add to that. At that point, changing your meta description is not going to make too much of a difference. There’s going to be a lot more that needs to be done.

Richard Garvey: [00:51:07] Yeah.

Matt Weber: [00:51:10] That does show the value of having a plan and being able to do that homework on the front side before you launch a piece of content in, really, what could be an unwinnable keyword before you go to all that trouble, make sure that you’ve done your research.

Richard Garvey: [00:51:24] Yeah, absolutely. Making sure that the search intent is there, the volume is there, your product matches it, and you’re not competing with some of these giant industries.

Robert O’Haver: [00:51:35] What do you do in a case where you have a client that believes that this is the absolute keyword he needs to rank for? But then you find out. No, it’s not.

Richard Garvey: [00:51:48] I really haven’t had too hard of a time with that surprisingly. Maybe, so we’re on the smaller side now. Maybe when we grow more, we’ll run into that problem. But exactly explaining what we just talked about and showing the numbers and showing the data and showing how SEO works and how that would be not a good idea. Most of the decision-makers, and the business owners, and the marketing executives I talk to do understand that. So that’s why we’re in that premium tier so we don’t deal with a lot of people with minimal understanding of how it works and how we operate.

Robert O’Haver: [00:52:27] Very good. OK. Now it’s time for Search Talk Live Tattoo.

Matt Weber: [00:52:35] Alright Richard, so we want to leave people with a really solid, short piece of advice they can remember, some of the great stuff you gave them in today’s show. Plus, it’s got to be something tattooable because Robert gets all these tattooed. What’s your Search Talk Live tattoo that you’re going to leave us with today?

Richard Garvey: [00:52:51] That would be, “Focus on the entire experience.” So going beyond the copy. Beyond the visuals. All of it. So when you search, have a great title, have a great meta description, have a great looking site they click into, have it fast, have it, you know, not being bogged down by all these different pop-ups and everything. Have it looked good, have the readability high, have the text broken up. So really focusing on the big picture of the whole experience and optimizing each little facet in there to focus on the whole experience would be the tattoo.

Robert O’Haver: [00:53:24] Ok. That’s going to cover my whole body.

Matt Weber: [00:53:32] But I do love the thought though. It’s, you know, making sure that the consumer experience is satisfied from the beginning to the end. We’re pretty selfish sometimes as marketers and we just want the click and we want the visit. But we really have to open our minds up to the full fulfillment in the full satisfaction of somebody coming to our site.

Richard Garvey: [00:53:49] Absolutely. Investing a little more time and little more strategy, a little more patience. And, you know, selfishly, you’ll end up with more traffic in the end as well.

Robert O’Haver: [00:53:58] Amen. So, Richard. I want to thank you for being on the show. It’s been awesome. Really great information. If someone wants to reach you, a listener with a question maybe or something. How would they do that?

Richard Garvey: [00:54:12] So they can find me on LinkedIn or they can go to our site, It’s a new site we’re pushing out right now and they can fill out the form on there. Don’t call!

Robert O’Haver: [00:54:26] I never tell people, don’t call me. Can you spell that out for the listeners?

Richard Garvey: [00:54:38]

Richard Garvey: [00:54:44] All right. Great. Well, thank you so much. It’s been great. And Matt, did you want to-?

Matt Weber: [00:54:51] That’s it. Thanks, everybody, for participating, great job. And to one from one Phillies fan to another, thanks for participating.

Richard Garvey: [00:54:58] I was gonna say go, go birds.

Robert O’Haver: [00:55:01] See you next week guys, or in two weeks.

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