In just four years, Jonathan Kiekbusch transformed a substandard content writing company into a highly successful SEO solutions provider. He had to overcome a lot of tough challenges throughout the process, but with his commitment to innovation and product quality, Jonathan reached a measure of success only a few people achieve.
In this episode, Jonathan shares the blueprint for building and rebranding an agency. He also walks us through the tactics he used in dealing with the challenges that came in scaling his business.
You will be notified everytime I have something valuable for you
Joe: 00:00:05 Hey guys, Joe Troyer from digital triggers and show me the
nuggets. I'm super excited today to be joined by none other than Jonathan Kiekbusch of SEO Butler. I'm sure you guys have heard of SEO. Butler a, these guys are doing some awesome things in the SEO world. And he's also the managing director of ITW, which we'll get into here in just a couple of seconds. But without further ado, man Jonathan, welcome to the show.
Jonathan: 00:00:31 Hey, thanks so much for having me, Joe. I'm super stoked to be
Joe: 00:00:36 Awesome brother. So tell us a little bit about how you got
started in digital marketing and give us a little bit of the background before SEO Butler, if you will.
Jonathan: 00:00:45 Sure. you're gonna I'm going to have to try and keep this really
short and crisp because I ended up going on the, the, the two hour rant of the the, the, the Prequel, so to speak. OK, so I hide this really well in my super beautiful, fake British accent, but I am fully born and bred in Germany. I'm German. I have a German passport. And I grew up in Berlin and never had anything to do with it or with the digital world. Didn't even, I don't think I actually got access to a computer until I was like 12 or 13. And I, I actually, I left Germany when I was about 16. And the, the reason why I left was I dropped out of school before I finished high school and I didn't really know what to do with myself.
Jonathan: 00:01:39 Right. So I needed to find something to do that was not joining the military because I knew that if I joined it would be a career and I wanted, and I would have wanted to like stay forever. And the options there didn't look too great for me. And so it was either that or leave the country. And so as you would, I left and moved to India at 16. I don't know how my mom allowed me to do this. But she was like, yeah, see Ya. I I moved to India, no plan, no, you know, real contacts or anything, just went out there moved to a small French colony or what used to be a French colony called Pandya Cherry. Absolutely loved it. And started to get introduced to the world of like web development and web design back then we're talking like the stupid ugly irritating flash websites.
Jonathan: 00:02:34 Right. And I got introduced that fell in love with it because I was like, oh my God, even I as like the least creative person with sun can create stuff here. It's really cool. And started doing that and to just sort of fast track forward within those three years, I then joined m and a outsourcing company and became one of those really irritating people that would like cold call, cold email
businesses in Europe to try and get like their web dev work to outsource it to us. And I learned a tremendous amount about bridging the gap between like Asia and Europe and the states. And it was really, really forming for me because I I got the opportunity to kind of learn how the Asian, like it side worked and how the European and American businesses work that we're trying to, that we're trying to like cut costs so fast tracking forward 2008, that bomb blast in the city that I'm at in India, I decided I'm out, I'm done.
Jonathan: 00:03:38 And I, I peace out and I go, oh, I go back home to Germany. At
this point though, I've been out of my mom's house for like three years. Right. So coming home is awful. Not because I don't like my mom, but just because naturally she's like, where are you going? When are you going to be back? What are you like? Right. So, all right. Okay. I have to find something to do ASAP and you know, if you know anything about Germany, Germany is super well known for like it's bureaucracy and everything. And for a, like 18 year old kid with absolutely zero qualifications, it's not exactly like a bias market. Right? I like to tell you how dramatic it is. I was underqualified to get a job at McDonald's, right? Like they wouldn't go hire me. So I I started applying for these jobs and I actually got in touch with somebody in the UK who was the managing director for a company called human factors and they did usability testing and these guys said, look, we're looking for an account manager and we're looking for something super particular.
Jonathan: 00:04:44 We're looking for somebody that can work with the daksh
countries, which is Germany, Austria, Switzerland, ideally somebody that can speak German who understands tech and also who is able to work with an Indian back office because that's where our well operations are. And I'm like, oh my God, this is me. Right. Meet these guys. They say, okay, when can you start? But you have to move to the UK. I moved to the UK, never leave one and a half years later, get made redundant. A worst, worst thing that ever happened to me in my mind back then because I was making a load of money and got to travel Europe and started a security company right. As as you would have natural progression. So I started security business and I was security business was a physical security business. So I looked at the market and I understood that what was going on was you had all these companies that had, you know, big burly guys, scary looking, doing event security doors you know, closed protections or body guarding stuff.
Jonathan: 00:05:48 And there was kind of a niche in that market or niche, if you
will, that identified, which was like this, the smarter, more
eloquent kind of like boutique security. And that's the route that I went. I decided to try and hire people that were a little smarter, that were able to carry themselves as, you know, ex police guys, ex-military guys that kind of knew how to carry themselves a little bit. And we did really well with that. Over the three, almost four years of running that we started doing stuff like providing the security for like the queen's Polo, right. And doing stuff like bodyguarding like American billionaires that were coming over to do business deals and that needed like kinda espionage, espionage and a surveillance teams and stuff like that. So we did a lot of fun stuff.
Jonathan: 00:06:41 But that was a a definitive moment where I really realized that it, it wasn't for me anymore because, you know, I was working stupid hours and not making that much money and I didn't have a home life. You know, the home life was based around doing your own laundry, trying to get some sleep and trying to run some errands and then you would go out and if you went out on like a a body guarding Gig, you would be out for as long as they're out, which could be a week or two weeks and you would be working 18 hour days, you know, absolutely no personal life. And when you then have that realization that you're not actually making that much money and you're not that happy, you're like, okay, something has to change. So I I ended up starting a little project with a friend of mine which at the time was called Article Writing Ninja.
Jonathan: 00:07:36 And we basically introduced a Filipino writing service to
marketers looking to buy loads of content really, really cheap for things like PBNs and all of that kind of stuff. They wanted to just like get loads of dirty content as quickly as possible and as cheap as possible introduced that it started taking off. And then we migrated into the brand called PBN Butler at the time, which started offering services like PBN builds and stuff like that. And then over time I bought my partner out of the business, decided that had to be an abrupt change in how we do things, change the brand from PBN Butler to SEO. Butler got rid of all the cheap dirty services and just went all the way to the other spectrum and just like quality, quality, quality. And here we go. And that is my the, the little intro of how we got here.
Joe: 00:08:39 So that's awesome. So you guys are primarily doing content and guest posts and social signals, press releases, citations, that kind of stuff. Right?
Jonathan: 00:08:47 Exactly. Yeah, that's exactly right.
Joe: 00:08:50 Cool. And so you have that, you have the SEO Butler brand. And
tell me a little bit abouti2w
Jonathan: 00:08:58 Sure. So ultimately out of SEO Butler, we started getting a lot of
inquiries by people saying, look, you know I love ordering all these bits and pieces for my campaigns with you. I really like the quality. I like the support that we're getting. Is there any way that I can get more of that? Right? Like I want to do less and I want to make lots of money but I don't want to invest loads of time into it. And so we slowly but surely started taking on both direct and white label clients. And so that's where i2w was born. It's ultimately our agency, i2w is split into two parts. We have the agency that basically does work for clients no matter if it's on a direct basis, on a, on a white label basis. And then we also have like an investment wing. So this is where we buy up properties on the Internet no matter what they are off their affiliate sites, if they are stores, if they are traffic sites, and then we basically apply all of the stuff that we already have to them to grow their potential and then flip them.
Joe: 00:10:05 Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. It seems like everybody these days, not everybody, but a lot of really smart people are focused in very similar things, buying, flipping versus starting from scratch. So how long have you guys been in that world of kind of buying and flipping and, and growing so to speak?
Jonathan: 00:10:25 So about, I would say about a year and a half. You know, we've
only really started taking it very seriously in about the last 12 months. It took us some time to restructure our thinking from, you know, being in that kind of somewhat limited mindset of the agency. Where you kind of limited to what your client wants to do and limited to what resources they have available. To this kind of playground where you own the property and you can do whatever you want, you know, and, and invest however much you want. And the thing that's really given us an edge, I would say at least in that is we try to apply like a multidimensional way of thinking to it. So rather than just growing it through, say, a SEO, which is our speciality, we try to grow it through all the different channels available to us. So be it, you know, PPC be a Facebook ads, be it by renegotiating deals, our buying up the supplier that we're driving traffic to in order to basically own the whole food chain. Right? All of these things really changed the way that we look at these investments because you can technically, if you're, you know, if you have either the resources or the skill, you can dominate in small niches that way, or niches by just buying up everything that supplies traffic and then owning the supply. [inaudible]
Joe: 00:11:56 Yup. 100%. It's really interesting too, if you start to look at
valuations and the multipliers when you're at different revenue numbers, right? So we're looking at, and I was speaking with a gentleman that doing an agency roll-up right now, so he's buying digital marketing agencies, was chatting with him in New York, and he's saying that from anything up to like $3 million for an agency, you're really only going to get like three x on EBITDA, right? But if you can get that to like 5 million, you can get up to five x on EBITDA or six x even on EBITDA. So he's going in and ultimately orchestrating a roll up and offering people three and a half or four times in a contingency type of deal, right? Where he's going to end up getting a point and a half or two points or a multiplier on EBITDA just by orchestrating the deal. So I think that's super interesting as well.
Jonathan: 00:12:49 Oh, for sure. And I think the other thing is, and you know, I
don't, I don't mean to SAP to come across as like condescending or something, but a lot of people that are, especially in the affiliate game are very narrow minded and just focus on one particular skill set that they have. And so a lot of people don't look at renegotiating deals, right. And so they might have a site where they're getting paid your 50 bucks a conversion and they don't, they just think, oh, I need more traffic, which then generates more clicks, which generates more 50 buck conversions where we go in and we take the same website and before doing anything, we'd go to the supplier and we say, well, we need 75 bucks a conversion now. And more often than not, they go, okay. You know?
Joe: 00:13:37 Exactly, yeah. It's, it's crazy how many people will stick with a
traditional affiliate program and their terms as well. Versus just asking if they can have more, I think as one of the big takeaways, right. All these programs are kind of canned by default. And if you don't ask for more, chances are you're not going to get more. But like you said, 75% of the time you're finding that you can get more just by asking for it. So,uhow long have you been running SEO Butler now?
Jonathan: 00:14:09 So in all versions of the brand, we are just coming up to five
years now. So SEO Butler's coming up to its second year as that brand. But PBM by land this year, Butler just shy of five years.
Joe: 00:14:23 Okay, great. And how big is the team?
Jonathan: 00:14:25 So we have eight people here in the UK office and a physical
location. We have then a team of just shy of 50 in the US they're very spread out. We have some concentrations in Florida, in Tampa, Florida and then in Lexington, Kentucky and a couple
out in California. And then we have a couple of experts that work for us from from Asia. So we're quite spread out. We're just in the process of looking at a US location for an office. Something that we hadn't thought about so much for, you know, not for a long time, but then all of a sudden we're getting such an increase in, in, in business and then traffic in the U S and we're like, let's go.
Joe: 00:15:15 Yep. 100%. So when you look at that team, how's the team
really broken down high level in terms of job categories or titles? Is that mostly content? Is that, you know, half content and half people then taking that content and doing some something with it? Or how would you categorize the team at the kind of the highest level?
Jonathan: 00:15:34 Sure. So right now we have about 30 writers that are actually, I
totally forgot to mention this because it's so new because we weren't allowed to do it. We also now have a UK freelance writing team. There's a lot of red tape in the UK around freelancers working for you on a weekly basis. So we had to spend a lot of time researching exactly how to skirt that red tape and not inadvertently be creating employees anyway. So we have we have a lot of writers in the US we have a bunch of writers here in the UK and that team's growing now. Other than that, we have the pretty much the entire UK team here is managerial and operational. So these are all the guys that are basically monitoring that everybody else around the world are doing their part. And then within that there's almost like a 50, 50 split between the content that is very, very heavy on management to keep that quality assurance. Right. And then the rest is technical as far as the SEO side of things and implementation. And then you have a couple of guys that are just doing, you know, support for the brands, I guess SEO Butler and all the management and that sort of stuff.
Joe: 00:16:53 Makes perfect sense. Yeah. Awesome spill. What's really
interesting to me, Jonathan, is that you have kind of the SEO Butler brand and then you have the I2w brand. Going back in time, would you change that and start with I w like you almost have like a retail frontward facing full service agency and then you have a very confined productized agency. How do those work together or don't they work together? Can you kinda compare and contrast, if you will?
Jonathan: 00:17:26 So the only reason why I wouldn't do it the other way round is
because while on SEO Butler, the margins are slimmer because we try to be super competitive and while it's a huge amount of work to deliver on an ongoing basis and on time and deal with
customers, we build SEO Butler for ourselves. A lot of people don't realize this, but we built it because everything that we sell, we need to fulfill the services in the agency. So by developing out the prioritized services, we have everything created to deliver for our agency clients and our investments at scale. So now I'm in a position where I can go, oh, we brought up this new site and it needs 50,000 words of content. And where in the past we would have had to go to a supplier to do that. We didn't just say, Oh yeah, we have the resources to roll that out.
Jonathan: 00:18:23 And so that's really the only reason why I wouldn't do it the
other way round. I think that if I if I, it depends on how I started, right? Like if I started with absolutely nothing, I think prioritized services are the way to go. Just because I think it's so easy to level up and basically just say, you know, hey, I know this one product or service, roll that out, make some money, add a team, start scaling that, start adding other services. If I started with resources, I would probably go down the the agency route more on a service like PVC or or, or ads because you don't need as many resources initially to take on like those one or two clients. Whereas with SEO, you're always have so many moving parts that it can quickly become tricky.
Joe: 00:19:16 100%, a hundred percent. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I
think definitely every SEO business agency business should start in a very productized manner. Personally I agree with you, start with something and keep building and refining the process by all means. But I see way too many people jumping from Facebook ads to SEO to local to like just all over the Frickin map. And then they wonder why it takes them so long to fulfill. And it's like, man, like you're reinventing the wheel with every single customer. So definitely a big component like you to, to productizing.
Jonathan: 00:19:54 I think. I think the other thing too is that one, a lot of people
don't realize, especially when they start, is that especially with SEO to do it right. It's not easy. You know, it's, it's a lot of work and it's actually a lot of ways really unprofitable if you don't know what you're doing because it takes a lot of man hours. If you want to take big retainers, you're going to get big websites, big websites, take a lot of man hours to research, review, improve, you know, implement changes. If you're working on small websites with small retainers, the problem is that it'll probably take you awhile to get results because you're so restricted by the resources provided to you by the client. And so you, you kind of in a catch 22 until you have the resources to fulfill those larger clients at, you know, at some sort of scale.
Jonathan: 00:20:50 And when you can afford to have, you know, 10 or 20 clients on
board that are paying you, you know, two to five to 10 k a month, you're really going to struggle in that, in that thing unless you're doing arbitrage. But if you're arbitraging hours and you know, you're just working by buying like really small SEO packages, which is something that I see a lot of people doing, then you're not really in control of those clients and you're probably going to have a really high churn rate.
Joe: 00:21:20 A hundred percent. I see it all the time. I'm sure you do too.
Yeah. So when somebody comes to you, Jonathon, and they're like, Jonathan, if I had to build an agency, like what advice would you give me? What do you tell them? I'm sure you see it all the time at SEO Butler.
Jonathan: 00:21:35 So if somebody wants to build an agency, I think the first thing for them to do is to understand the craft that they're trying to sell, right?
Jonathan: 00:21:44 Like I think that it's really important that you have a solid
understanding of the the, the product or service that you're going to sell in that agency. Once you've done that, I think the most important thing really is to identify what you're not good at. Right? I think that too many people start by just trying to do everything and get really overwhelmed really quickly because you start getting lost in the day to day of what you need to get done. And, and let me elaborate on that. Initially, you don't have any clients and you're really confident in what you do. So you do loads of outreach and you're trying to get clients. Okay, great. So you can devote 100% of your time to that and that's fantastic. And then before you know it, you get a client we get two or three clients and the amount of time that you can spell a spend on reaching out and generating new clients is now limited by the amount of time that you have to actually spend on fulfillment.
Jonathan: 00:22:40 And so if if at this point you don't innovate and you don't start
getting the right people in or the right suppliers or the right supporting staff, you're instantly screwing yourself. Because before you know it, you're either spending all of your time fulfilling or you're spending all of your time still trying to do sales, but you're not actually doing the fulfillment. So your churn rate goes through the roof. And so for me, what's really, really important is to immediately identify what you're best at and what you're worst at. And then basically hiring people to fill the void. If you can't afford to, then maybe work with outside suppliers. So people that can work either on a white label basis or we can work on an hourly basis in order to fill that void and
to help you scale. And then over time, maybe you can bring them on board full time or you know, whatever. But those are really the most important things for me. I think that having a really good understanding is really important. And sure you see this all the time, Joe, but you get a lot of people, especially in SEO and I'm showing other trades too where people are great sales people but they don't actually understand the they don't understand the craft and so they miss sell the product and end up having a higher churn rate because customer expectations aren't being met
Joe: 00:23:59 100%. Yeah. I think that's why productizing almost to me is
important too. I see that setting expectations is one of the biggest disconnects with, with most agencies. And I would, I would definitely say the highest reason for churn. I would agree.
Joe: 00:24:15 And I think that most of the times it's actually not being an
expert in the vertical. So because of that, it's like, I don't know. And the agency owner or the SEO, you know doesn't understand what a return on investment is going to look like. They don't understand the business, they don't understand the keywords. They've never been in that business before. They don't understand your conversion rate. And so they just look at it and they just shoot from the hip. And they set expectations. Yeah. In 90 to 120 days, this is what your return is going to be look like. And they really have no clue. And, and I see that that's really the issue in most of the time I would say like just quadruple your timeline and you're probably a whole lot closer to providing an accurate scope.
Jonathan: 00:25:03 100%. And I think that what's even, what's even worse though is
the majority of people that that I've spoken to that are starting out are really struggling to understand the concept of what is actually ROI for their customer. Right? So they try to focus like, let's, let's just keep using the s a SEO as an example. They're like, oh, we'll get you these rankings or
Jonathan: 00:25:29 Oh, we'll get you this traffic increase and all of that as well and
good and can be built into your KPIs. But realistically, there's only one thing that the business owner cares about and that is that their ROI positive, right? And if you frame that right and you interview the business owner, right, then you can understand how soon they need to be ROI positive. You know, how deep is that pocket and how long are they willing to work with you? Because SEO does take time and it does take time to achieve results and we all know that. But you need to be really realistic about, you know, what is the lifetime value of those customers that you're bringing them? What products or services
does the customer need to sell in order to actually get that Max ROI? Right? And so I think it's so important to really interview your prospect to identify if they can actually be ROI positive, right? And then it's also important to review with them if they are even if they're good at selling because ultimately you can get them as many phone calls as you like. If they suck at closing those phone calls or closing those email leads or whatever it might be, then they're to be ROI negative no matter what you do.
Joe: 00:26:48 100%, a hundred percent. And I think just to add to that, like
you got to ask about capacity, right? Because if you're doing a good job for them and you blow up their marketing like they ask you to, you could very well bury the business. I'll never forget, probably within my first 10 clients. I, I basically put, put a lady out of business where she was doing well. We are managing our Adwords and she came to me and after we had like quadrupled her traffic, she came to me and was like, Joe, I need you to double the business in the next six months. I don't really know how that's possible. But I came back with a plan. We got damn near close and we basically put her out of business because we made every little microscopic problem. Like we magnified that and it just blew up in our face. And it was an utter nightmare. So I think I agree with everything you said, Jonathan. I would say that you got to also figure out what the constraints are in the business so you can try to help the business owner avoid those or it can really go bad.
Jonathan: 00:27:49 Well, and, and how willing they are to change. You know, this is
one of the reasons why as an agency we don't take on reputation management clients is quite simply because a lot of business owners are not willing to change because, you know, and I'm sure we've all been there, we know everything better, you know. And so in rent management, I found it very frustrating that people would come to me and say, look, I need to burry this piece of news. And we're like, okay, that's fine, but have you actually changed? The thing that's led to this piece of news being in, in the search results are like, no, not really. Like I just want this to disappear. And it's like, yeah, but that's, that's kind of frustrating because you know, you're just going to basically be an asshole to other people, you know?
Jonathan: 00:28:34 So that's it. And so for that reason, I think that sort of coming
back to the agency model, I think it's really important, like you said, to and identify how willing they are to scale, but also how communicative and how, how willing they are to scale. You know, once things get tough and they need to put some extra hours in, in order to fulfill the demand that you've created as a
marketer, no matter what type of marketing you do, it's really important that they are willing to work with you to to make those improvements. But I also think that if you are highly communicative and you are super honest with your prospects or your clients, then you know, you soon find yourself in a position where if things don't go to plan, you can actually work with that client to improve things and they won't just abandon you and drop off.
Jonathan: 00:29:33 You know, I, we have a complete like no bs policy and our
business and we try to always be as absolutely and honest as we can and when things don't go our way, like, you know, you sign on a client and in the first 60 days of the campaign they get hit with an Algo update and lose half their traffic. You know, we, we had that happen actually in the, the, the June update we had a couple of lines on the medical field, lost half their traffic. And at that point we have to be super realistic with them and say, look, this is going to take some time to to repair and it's gonna hurt, but we're going to do everything that we can to help you get back to that. And you know, if you're willing to work with us, then we might be able to rebuild that. Now the alternative is to just basically hide and just say nothing and just send the report over that has the massive red arrows and just pray for the best. And before you know it, those clients have gone to a different client, to a different agency. In reality, you know, it's probably outside of your control, what happens to a website? Often I'll go update on a brand new signed up client. But the communication was really ultimately what's going to keep them on board a.
Joe: 00:30:52 Hundred percent. Definitely. So I'm gonna switch gears for a
second. Jonathan. you said something earlier about moving operations outside of the Philippines and rebranding from PBN Butler to SEO Butler. I'm curious what made that shift happen. I know that you said earlier you said that it was very clear that you had to make a change. I'm very interested to hear why that is and why that change happened so, so rapidly for you guys.
Jonathan: 00:31:17 Sure. So we, the way that we built up the business initially was
that we had quite a few people writing for us in the Philippines. At some point it was like 40 writers. The way that we had done that was the work pretty well. We had hired a local lady whose sole job it was to recruit and find and train these writers. Excuse me. And what we also did is we actually traveled to India and we open up a physical, oh, excuse me, a and opened up a physical office over there. And that's where we did all of like the PBN builds and stuff like that. One of the problems that I identified was after buying out my, my business partner out of
the business, I noticed that whenever we left India, the productivity would go down.
Jonathan: 00:32:12 And it was just sort of that, that kind of effect of like there's no
one there to like help and train. And one of the really big mistakes that we had made was that we had opened the office in a really nontechnical city. So the average skill level of staff available to us was far lower than had we gone to like one of the big tier one tech cities, like, you know, a Bombay, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, et cetera. And because we didn't do that, we really needed to be there almost all the time to like skill people up and train them up. And whenever we weren't there, mistakes started happening and we started having more problems and people wouldn't show up to work and, and all of these kinds of things. So when we ought out my, my business partner, it was a very emotional kind of thing because, you know, we ultimately we, we, you know, we didn't part ways contentionally but we, we kind of, we just decided that it was time for us to, to part ways and not to work together anymore.
Jonathan: 00:33:20 And one of the things that went through my mind during that
entire period was like, if I'm going to invest myself, I'm going to invest my money into buying this other portion of the business, then what will that do? And one thing that I knew is I didn't want it to stagnate. I didn't want it to just sort of like keep going along this kind of level. I wanted it to just like mushroom and just grow rated really aggressively. And so, you know, all to having a lot of conversations, interviews with different team members and stuff, we were like, okay, screw this. We're just going to close it, right? And we're going to close it. We're going to massively skill up everything that we do. We're going to hire people over here in the UK, which is going to be vastly more expensive.
Jonathan: 00:34:09 But we realize that considering how we had set up the Indian
office and how we had set up the the Filipino operations, that we would probably be able to hire less people in the U K to do the same job of the I think it was 14 at the most people that we had in India. Right. And as far as the content was concerned, we had so little margin on this, this Filipino content that it just didn't make sense to go through all of this effort to create something that made us so little money. Right? And so we started introducing this American written content and it just took off, right? And we started bringing in like a real structure around the content, which really improved the quality and we were like, okay, we're going to have to raise our prices in order to fulfill this and have like a content manager and editors and all of this. And so we increased our prices and with the increase of
the prices, the orders increased, right? And so it just kind of kept growing out from there and it was just kind of the validation that we needed or the vindication even thene needed that set us on the path to continue to grow this brand into more of like the SEO, Butler white hat, high quality round that is in today than where we were when we were on the PBM bubble.
Joe: 00:35:39 Well, 100%. So it seems like definitely a massive shift towards
quality as well. And it seems like based upon when you did it as well, definitely more cracking down on the gray hat, black hat type of a tactic as well. So obviously you shifted towards a wider approach that's going to serve you and serve SEO Butler, serve your employees and the entire team for, for decades to come obviously as well.
Jonathan: 00:36:09 Exactly. And you know, for me it is all about being ethical and like, you know, I'm not, I'm never going to be the person that says that the, the black hat strategies don't work because there are tons of people that are using them on a load of staff. But for me, what it comes down to is can I ethically sell them to somebody that probably doesn't know what the risk is that's involved with it, who's actually potentially hindering their livelihood on it. And, you know, I never want to be the guy that gets the phone call to say, Hey, you know, my site's been penalized. And it, it's no longer index and Google and all my phone calls have stopped. I don't know how to pay my mortgage. You know, and that's obviously a very dramatic picture that I'm painting, but I just, I just never want to be in that position.
Jonathan: 00:36:57 And so for that reason, we just chose to go the other route
commercially. It also makes a lot of sense because of course, by going down the white hat route, we're able to serve bigger agencies that can really be seen to be buying from somebody that's associated with the, the, the blackout products. It doesn't matter if the product, like our American written content is exactly the same on a, no matter what the domain is a, that we're selling it, but just for the fact that it's sold via PBN, butler, big agencies wouldn't be able to work with us, right?
Joe: 00:37:30 Yup. 100% yeah. That makes perfect sense. Much more
commercially viable. Yeah. 100%
Jonathan: 00:37:38 Yeah. And that and that we're framing makes a huge difference.
Joe: 00:37:42 Yeah. 100%, a little tweak. There goes a long way in your
viability to work with a whole new audience. Hello. Yeah. Cool man. So
Joe: 00:37:52 Talk a little bit about SEO, Butler and the services you offer. I
think that there's definitely a ton of people that are going to be listening to this podcast, Jonathan that, that do SEO and are always looking for good vetted vendors. And so I'd love to hear you chat about kind of what you think is important these days on kind of the top five categories that, that you guys serve. Like what's the 80 20 of content? What's the 80 20 of guest posts? What's the 80 20 of social signals, press releases, citations. And, and how do you think that our audience and digital triggers can really leverage these five different categories?
Jonathan: 00:38:33 Sure. So let's start off with contents since we've already spoken
about it a lot. You know, we we actually just rolled out a huge site update to our website in regards to content, making it a little bit easier for people to follow with content. I think that one of the most important things for us is that customers understand how to how to order it really, you know, we, we kind of get the dichotomy between people just placing an article order with a single keyword and saying come up with an article and we get the dichotomy where they provide us with 700 words of instructions for a 500 word article. So really when it, when it comes down to content you know, how our content is written either in the u s only u k depending on whether you, it comes from we prefer customers to put a little bit of thought into you know, what, what it is exactly that they need and providing us with that information so that the content team can really meet those expectations.
Jonathan: 00:39:37 A great thing though with our content is that it grew through a
multifaceted process. So you ultimately have the order which gets sent to the writer. The writer obviously writes the order and then it goes over to our editing team who then reviews that content and make sure that it's not just grammatically sound, but also that it meets the expectations of the customer. So that second pair of eyes really helps with things like, you know, keyword inclusions keyword densities, making sure that if the customer's requested three h, two titles to be in there, that there's three h, two titles in there, right? And these things can just simply be missed by a writer sometimes. And you know, that's why we introduced this sort of editorial level to to, to make sure that that works. Then we have we actually have built our own writing management system, which automatically checks everything for plagiarism and the checks things like the readability score.
Jonathan: 00:40:36 And so what it does is it actually makes sure that the content
isn't too simple or too academic. And depending on what kind of content is being ordered, the actually makes a huge
difference. So, for example, when you're looking at a sales pages for like simple products and services, you want the readability score to actually be really, really, I guess low so that everybody can read it and consume it and understand it. Whereas if you are, for example, I'm writing for a, a lawyer's website or financial institution and stuff like that, you actually want it to seem a little bit more academic so that people feel that it's very trustworthy and that it's very you know, it comes from a, a reputable source. And so we've built all of that in so that the writers automatically get nudged if they're going too far into a direction, into a particular direction.
Jonathan: 00:41:31 So as far as content, I think that our kind of advantage is our
consistency of quality and the scalability that we have because we've built out these systems. I think that you know, other [inaudible] other products what's, what's really helpful is our guest posting product. For anybody that's doing SEO you know, it's, it's kind of exactly what you would hope from it. At least that's what I hope. You ultimately see when you, when you visit the guest posting page on our website, you ultimately see kind of a database of websites that we've built relationships with. We list a ton of different metrics, so from what topics the website covers to domain metrics to how much traffic it gets according to third party tools. And then basically you can actually purchase your guest post placement with these guys.
Jonathan: 00:42:26 And so what happens is you tell us what anchor and what your
rail you want to link to. And we then write the guest post for you in a way that it suits both the website that the content is going to go on to as well as the website that is going to point towards. And then we get all of that live for you and we send you the report. And that's basically it. It really, really helps people who don't have the time to do manual outreach themselves. But who obviously, you know, need links in order to rank their websites. Really helpful. And basically, you know does what it says on the tin. What, what other ones do you want me to cover? Do you want to go through all of them?
Joe: 00:43:11 Yeah, I mean if we can hit social signals and press releases and citations too, that would be great. Which is really all of them. I think too, just the comment, I think that you've done a great job on the content breakdown of how you do that order. I was just looking at Matt and that's that's brilliant. Exactly how you broke down that process. And I'm sure that because of how you've led people down that slippery slope so to speak, it just makes it super simple for them to place the order and also make sure at the out that they're getting the outcome that they want when
the order's delivered. So Man, well done on that ordering experience. That's fantastic.
Jonathan: 00:43:49 Thanks. Yeah, we, you know, to be totally honest with you, this
was one of those moments where I can say that I'm really happy to admit that we failed forward. You know, we originally had a completely different design. We then started working on the design for this website and we wrote it out and we totally butchered it. And we got a lot of payback from customers saying, you know, this is totally on the unusable. We don't like it is what we don't like. [inaudible] Yada, Yada, Yada. And the reality is that, you know, we are so prone to make assumptions based on what we think will work, that sometimes we get lost in translation. So what we started doing as we started doing all of these UX studies and interviewing users that were likely to be the exact type of user that we wanted to purchase from that website.
Jonathan: 00:44:45 And this is the without the result. And we've had some really good feedback. So I'm super, super stoked to have rolled this out. But yeah, I mean, you know, it's ever evolving. I'm sure that we'll make more adjustments and keep tweaking it to, to help people. But anyhow I'll, I'll crack on. So the, the next one I'll talk about is press releases. This is an interesting one. And I'm at something that we're actually currently working on to to slightly tweak, but I'll I'll tell you why. Our press release product is ultimately an SEO press release product that a lot of people that want to get press release press releases out there for various reasons. A, you can get a ton of links. You can get your naps, so your name, address, phone number out there, which really helps with the local rankings.
Jonathan: 00:45:39 You named diversify, anchor text, so on and so forth. Now the
problem is probably 80% of all SEO clients are totally not newsworthy. You know, Bob, the plumber and his plumbing service in Nicholasville, Kentucky has no news to share that would actually be picked up by the news. So what we do is we work together with syndication networks who have the ability to publish press releases on loads of news websites to do that because they can guarantee that the press release will go live. Whereas if you did what is a wholesome, proper PR campaign, Bob, the plumber would get zero links and zero exposure because he just doesn't have anything to talk about. So the way that that works is we get all this information from the client, we write a new story as newsworthy as possible so that it actually reads like a new story and then we send that to the client.
Jonathan: 00:46:45 They review it nine, nine per 9% of the time they're super
stoked because everybody's excited about reading news about themselves. They approve the press release and then we syndicate it out. Once it's syndicated out, you'd get a report with like 400 links in it. And those are all the sites that you've got syndicated out to. In addition to that, you will then also see that you've been picked up by Google news because a lot of those press release sites are included in Google News, which is also super helpful for like affiliate marketers who want to use the Google news system to get extra traction when a big event happens. So like a great example of that is when Pokemon go went viral for a couple of weeks there people were hammering Google news because they knew that even if they just stayed in Google news for like one of the top terms for like an hour, they would probably get 10,000 clicks from it.
Jonathan: 00:47:41 Right. so that's basically press releases. My personal opinion on
press releases is very simple. If your client is not newsworthy, use a press release service like ours. If your client has just, you know so solved world hunger and is super newsworthy, then go down the official PR route and work with a press agency, it will cost you more money, but the return will be far, far bigger. That's, that's my honest opinion. Moving onto citations. Citations are of very, very simple products. They are business directory listings ultimately. So a lot of SEOs specifically really want to get their clients ranking locally. One of the things that really helps with that is for Google to start seeing the business name and the website to be associated with a certain app and name, address, phone number. One of the easiest ways to do that is to register your client's business with tons of different directories specifically in the same country.
Jonathan: 00:48:50 So, you know, we'll get you on the yellow pages on you know,
Yelp on whatever on all of those sites and they don't issue your report with all of those listings. And another thing that's kind of Nice about that, that a lot of people forget that are actually people out there that still use directories to find suppliers. So a byproduct is that sometimes you actually get leads and clients through those. So it's, it's really good in that way. Another reason why I like citations for small SEO retainers is that local business owners might not understand how SEO works, but I tell you what, they understand that it took you effort to list them on a directory. And so if you order 15 or 25 citations every month, that campaign, it might only cost you 15 or 25 bucks to order that every month, but it's a really good deliverable to show that small business owner that now goes, wow, I'm listening to another 15.
Jonathan: 00:49:54 You know, some, some traction is going to come out of this and
that helps you look with you at the same time. So you kind of win across the board. Right. and so I just, yeah, I just think that they are really handy product. And then what have we covered? Oh, and then social signals. So social signals are an interesting one. Social signals ultimately are creative whenever a website's your relevance shed on a social media profile. And now there are loads of different ways to achieve this. The easiest is to take a URL and share on your Facebook and you've created a social signal, right? The same applies for Twitter and Pinterest and all of the other social networks. The way that we find that they benefit websites is actually by the fact that Google seems to under have a fairly good understanding of what is being talked about on social media.
Jonathan: 00:50:49 And that might be because of projects like the Twitter firehose
project where Google has like a direct link of, of scanning Twitter so that it can index important things as they become news. And I'm sure that the different integrations that they have with other platforms like Facebook and Pinterest, et cetera. Now what we find is that they work really, really well when it comes to validating link building efforts. So what we do in our SEO campaigns is whenever we start a link building campaign to a particular page, we also send social signals because by doing so, it might seem to Google that this page has just gotten really popular. People are talking about it on social media. Oh. And now some people are linking to in their content on their website, right? And so it tends to kind of reduce the lag time between placing links and then those links showing positive results.
Jonathan: 00:51:51 And I tell you what, a lot of people will be able to resonate with those who run a lot of Facebook, Instagram ads as well as doing SEO and saying, wow, like, I don't think I should be ranking for this particular keyword. I don't have half of the power of my competitors. Right? And this is just sort of that what we're trying to emulate. Yet another way that I really like to use social signals that, that might be a little bit naughty, but as when we're doing guest posting and you want to establish a relationship with that website, right? Your guest posts get it published and if they have one of those little social counters on their website, send 200 social signals to it. When that website owner sees that your blog posts, your guest posts has gotten a bunch of engagement on social media and loads of people have shared it, they are way more likely to want to work with you in the future.
Jonathan: 00:52:44 So those are all the products that we have. Right now we're
currently on in the progress of rolling out a a cro audit product, which is basically a, a productized cro audit. That's going to be really awesome. That's going to be out probably in the next 45 days.
Joe: 00:53:02 Wow. Yeah, that sounds like an awesome one. Very different
with your other products. Now I can see that coming from your other company and what you're working on in the background with your same team. It makes perfect sense. Use productizing something that you're doing all day every day and the other business.
Jonathan: 00:53:20 Exactly. And so the idea behind the cro product is basically that
we looked at the market and there are some phenomenal cro agencies out there that provide tremendous value. Now there are two problems with it. Cro takes time to create test cases, create review content as in like actually, you know,uan order sort of reviewing your website and giving you advice.
Jonathan: 00:53:47 And the problem is that the people that are actually really good
at it are gonna charge a bunch of money to run that test because well, they, they better. Right? And so what we've done is we've actually partnered with a really fascinating business that has created an AI that is able to analyze view ports of websites or mobile devices and to 92% accuracy according to MIT, be able to determine where the iPod would be when they engage with it, which is insane, right? So within a split second, we can run a visual audit of a viewport of your website or your ad or whatever. And according to MIT, that's like 92% accurate. But that wasn't really enough for me. So what we did is we're not just delivering those results because you can just go to those guys and get that. But what you actually get in the deliverable once this is launched is you actually get a approximately 15 to 20 minute video of a cro expert reviewing your page and the screens that we've grabbed from that and walking you through based on those heat maps, what you should, what they would recommend that you do.
Jonathan: 00:55:09 And of course, all of those comes with a disclaimer that it is only
92% accurate. And that humans have the ability to go totally against all statistics and everything when they actually do engage with stuff. And that testing is always the best way forward. But you know what, if you don't have the budget to run a six month campaign with a cro company, maybe this will give you the knowledge and the tips to create that revenue to where you can work with that company in the near future. That's the hope.
Joe: 00:55:44 Yeah. So you get, you get the revenue in the short term and you
also understand how much work went into it and now you never want to do it again. Perfect reason to outsource it. That, yeah, I like it. Yeah. Yeah, definitely have to check, check that one out. You'll have to let me know Jonathan when that one goes live. Awesome, man. So we're just hitting the top of the hour. I want to be super respectful of your time. I really appreciate you sharing all the knowledge over the last hour or so. So I want to end and kind of recap with one question. So very similar to what people do a lot on podcasts. I like to ask for a book recommendation but we do a little bit different here at digital triggers and show me the nuggets. So ultimately what we're looking for is what's the one book when you look at Your Business or businesses has actually made the biggest impact on the way that you do business? Not like it was great mindset wise, but nothing changed in the business or it was great. It got me to take responsibility, but nothing changed in the business. Like what's the one book that has made the biggest actual impact on, on, on your business?
Jonathan: 00:56:53 Okay. oh man, it's, it's, it's really a tough one. I think that the
biggest shift in my business came when I read a book called leaders eat last by Simon Sinek. It changed my perspective of my role within the business and what I could do to enable the people that worked with me to reach their full potential, which is so, so powerful. That's awesome.
Joe: 00:57:33 Can you expand on that just a little more? Sure. So, so that was
brilliant in the book. The book has been recommended on the podcast before. I like to, I like to get everybody's that comes on. I like to really get everybody's outlook on the book and why they think it made such an impact. And so that was a great explanation, but could you take it kind of one step further, if you will?
Jonathan: 00:57:56 Yeah, of course. So in leaders eat last of assignments, Sinek
covers the, the partially the thoughts of the infinite game strategy, right? So finite and infinite games. And he kind of talks a little bit about, you know, the dif like how you build teams that that can, that can really reach their full potential and buy. And the way to achieve that, and this is super paraphrase, is by the leader working for the team and the teams serving the customer. And so instead of standing on a pedestal and being the boss and being the CEO, your actually doing what you can to enable people. And what it triggered in me is the realization that the, the, the ROI and the business and all of that is fantastic, but really it comes second to the people that make it all happen. And once you start treating people with, and this is
super important empathy that you are able to actually have a good time, enjoy what you're doing, have your team, have a good time, have them enjoy what they're doing and actually live a happy and fulfilled life.
Jonathan: 00:59:31 And it led to small tweaks of how we do things. So you know, some of the geekiest stuff, we switched all of our tables to sit stand desks. We allowed writers and like academic staff to work just what is it, seven hours instead of a because we noticed that there was a huge drop off after like, you know, the seventh hour because it's really hard to just analyze a lot of content or write a lot of content. We started having flexible working hours. So now the office is open from like six in the morning until like seven at night. And people show up when, when they need to show up and everybody gets stuff done and they have the understanding that we all need to show up when we need to show up. So like when black Friday hits and SEO Butler Butler absolutely gets hammered, people coming on Saturday, you know what I mean?
Jonathan: 01:00:30 And you order pizza and we have a party and we get stuff done.
But for me as you know, the, the business owner, one of the things that became very important through this book is wanting to understand how people are doing past the shallower sort of top level stuff of like, well, I'm dragging my sorry ass to work and I'm surviving through the day and actually caring how they are, like how their relationships at home going, right? How are they doing financially? Like, is everything okay? Do they need some help? And by doing so, starting to find out like different issues or things that we as a business could do to enable those people to do better. And you know, it's actually quite easy to achieve this in such a small business because all you have to do is actually care. And it's a lot harder when you have, you know, 500 people or a thousand people and you need to have all these HR managers and then find the ones that actually do care et cetera.
Jonathan: 01:01:40 But in a small business like I was like, it really doesn't cost
anything to just take one of your staff and go to, you know, have lunch or have coffee and just go like, hey man, how are you? You know, and that this just all the difference. I really recommend that book. Another book that I recommend, and I know I'm breaking the rules here is a thank your called the thank you economy by Gary V. Um, it's, I think it's one of his better books and it's actually quite old now. And it's hilarious to read today because he predicts a lot of the things that are happening in social and in tech in this book. And so reading it
today is Kinda hilarious because it sat, makes it sound like he knows what the future holds.
Joe: 01:02:30 That's awesome. I'll definitely have to check out that book. I just
saw Gary speak at the digital marketers agency expo. He was the last speaker and and it was great. But I haven't actually read that book so I'll have to check that. So thank you for the two book recommendations and really sharing as well, Jonathan, what it meant to you and why it was important and what made the change. I know that people are going to be able to see the nuggets and grabbed the nuggets from this episode, so thank you so much for that. So we'll make sure Jonathan, the link you up in the show notes, we'll link up SEO Butler and also i2w limited. Is there anywhere else that we should link up in the show notes for you? Man
Jonathan: 01:03:06 You can always find me on Facebook. I'm super happy to give that out. And I think that's, that's about it. I mean, just hit me up on Facebook, hit me up via the, via the site. You know, if you address an email to me via SEO, Butler always reaches me. I'm super, super excited to get back to people.
Joe: 01:03:27 Awesome, man. Thank you so much for the time. Really, really
appreciate you taking the time to jump on and everybody go check out SEO Butler. Definitely recommend you check out their services. Have an awesome day, Joe. Troy from digital triggers signing out.Joe: 01:03:41 All right, homie. Awesome.