In this episode, we bring you Part 1 of Joe's interview with Michael Rarick, CEO of Media Berry, in which they delve into the concept of relationship-based link building, Michael's area of expertise.
MediaBerry is a hands-off link-building agency that uses relationships and content to build awesome backlinks for SaaS clients.
How Michael got started with Mediaberry
What relationship based link building is all about
What people commonly get wrong with link building
The advantages of niching down with SaaS
How Mediaberry increased their client's traffic by 2700%
Setting expectations with clients
People and Resources Mentioned
Hey everybody it's Joe Troyer here, and welcome to another episode of show me the nuggets. I'm excited today to be talking about something that's near and dear to my heart, and is intriguing, we'll say for a lot of our audience, and we're gonna be talking about link building and SEO. And our guest, Michael is doing this at scale with some really big brands. And I know you guys are gonna absolutely love our interview here together. So Michael, without further ado, welcome to the show. Yeah, thanks for having me. So Michael, you run a company called Media berry tell us a little bit at the highest level what media value does?
Michael Rarick 1:30
Yeah, absolutely. So media Berry is an SEO agency. We work primarily with b2b SaaS companies to help improve their SEO marketing. So we do that through off page SEO, which would be you know, link building, and then we also do it through content creation as well.
Perfect. So can you tell everybody a little bit about now that they know about media media, Barry, how like you got into this crazy world of digital marketing and stumbled into media bear?
Michael Rarick 2:01
Yeah. So I will say that, when I began my career, marketing was not really at the forefront of my mind. So I actually started off working originally, for a SaaS company that did data analytics for banks and credit unions, very specialized kind of field of what they were doing. But you know, I didn't really understand what like SAS business was. And so that was kind of my first exposure that also pretty good exposure to data analytics. So moving throughout my career, I had moved into other jobs, that different different things, but I definitely had that itch. I think, as a lot of millennials do to have that side hustle, right? So I started my own business, I was running like an E commerce shop. And from there, I really learned the value of marketing and the different things. You know, I have all these competitions. So my first business that I ran was a CBD business. So this was back in like, 2018. This was, you know, when it was very gray area, people were like, is this legal? Is it not, you know, so like, I mean, I got so much headaches from doing that one, because, because it was kind of in this gray area, like, I kicked off a PayPal, you know, as a payment processor, which I actually think is pretty hard to do. But they were like, Yeah, we're not doing your business anymore. But I learned from the value, because it's like, I don't have the marketing budget to go compete against these huge brands that are trying to enter into this space, because everybody knows it's about to pop. So I really got like, kind of burned out just because all these other people were out spending me and so I was like, I need to figure out like a little bit better way to one up my business. So that was where SEO and marketing really came into play. That business ventually, you know, became other things. And then but I never really stopped wanting to, you know, have my own business. So eventually, I was able to come in and step in, to own this business media very. So I'm not the original founder, but the original founder, his intent with the business was always to be able to provide top level SEO abilities for some of these huge name clients, because, you know, they need it, but then also be nimble enough where we can, you know, help the startups as well, because like I said, you know, I've been there and, you know, you're always looking for some place to improve what you're doing right now.
Unknown Speaker 4:24
Yeah, I love what you guys do. Can you can you maybe clarify a little bit like what what you really mean, when you talk about relationship link building?
Michael Rarick 4:33
Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, if you're a little bit unfamiliar with link building, if you're looking at like a blog article, you're reading through, there's like a hyperlink in there. So like, let's say you're looking at, you know, best marketing agencies 2020 you're scrolling through and then there's a hyperlink that says media very says X, Y, and Z and media berries in blue, you click it and it goes back to our site. You just saw a backlink right? So it's using a third party site is authoritative and it's going to be right thinking well to help promote your own site. So I also like to tell people that it's kind of like if you're, if Google is walking into a room, there's nine, there's 100 people on there 98 People are pointing to company a saying, you know, I'm the expert at marketing and your company be saying, No, it's me. Who do you think that person walking into the room is going to trust, you know, the 98 people, or the one person that's pointing to themselves, so you can get more of those people pointing to you. And even better if you can get the people that have a higher authority in those, you know, has like has more clout, if they can be pointing to you, that's going to help you rank up and then, you know, eventually, you're gonna be able to be at the top age. So there's different ways to do link building. I think a lot of people have probably seen the negative side of link building where you go on pages like Fiverr, or some of these other freelancing sites where they're like, yeah, we'll get you 500 backlinks and 24 hours, you can guarantee that those are terrible backlinks. So they're just going to be, you know, just available, they just push a button there, you know, probably a PBN, or anything else, that's not really going to help you rank. So that's not what we like to do. Ours is more like we say, relationship driven. So we are actually building a relationship with the webmasters or the editors or somebody on the site. So we're have a whole team that does outreach, trying to, you know, get our foot in the door, essentially, we build a relationship with them, they begin to trust us, we're giving them high quality clients, we're following their instructions, doing all these different things. And in return, they're allowing us, you know, maybe preferential spots in sites that not a lot of people can get. And then if they, you know, maybe it is that they allow other people, you know, maybe we can get into some of the articles that are ranking better than other people. So we have the ability to do that. Where it might not be as fast and easy as some other people are doing it. But it's more of a quality versus quantity for us.
Yeah, sure. I think it's really interesting these days, when you look at like, really the quality over the quantity, you know, you got big sites. And, you know, I don't care what industry, every major industry, and if you really look at just like the number of good quality, like in content links, Dr. 70. Plus, it's like, you know, they really don't have that many links, like I was looking at, like, there's a famous blogger, Adam and Froy. It makes like 400 grand a month affiliate blogging, I'm looking at him, right. So he's doing a ton of guest posting. They're doing like 400 grand a month in affiliate commissions. And he's only got like, and I say only it's still a lot, but he's got like, 400 Dr. 70 likes, right? Like when you think about that, versus you know, the the 40,000 backlinks that H refs shows, right 400 is a lot more obtainable, right? And when you really think about quality, right, like, you could get there in a couple of years. No problem.
Michael Rarick 7:55
Yeah, and I think that's what a lot of people kind of misunderstand about the link building aspect is there's, you know, yes, Google does take into account the number of backlinks that you have, right, that is a factor, if you and I are both have the exact same website. And then you know, we're backlinking to 400. And I have 401, you know, I'm probably going to go a little bit higher than you. But you're need to make sure that it's going to be that quality as well, because you could have 10,000 backlinks that are all, Dr. 10 or, you know, if you are like a banking industry, right, and you're linking to some of these, like adult sites, gambling sites, you know, different things like that, that have nothing to do with banking, then you're not going to be ranking in that factor. So I think people kind of misunderstand, or it's like, yeah, if I just get all these backlinks, I'm just gonna rank up really quickly, where it's, you know, is reputation management essentially, like, do you Who do you want to be representing your brand on their site? And is that going to help or hurt she'll? Yeah,
yeah. The old Safe Neighborhoods analogy, is that a safe neighborhood? Would you want to show up in that neighborhood, and you're linking out to casinos and gambling and porn, and you know, you, you probably wouldn't want to be. So, in your business model, I can only assume that like, you guys are doing lots of guest posts and links, flops or rotations, Link assets, talk about, you know, kind of maybe some of the top three, four types of things that you guys do and go as as, as far as you want. Michael, like, by all means, don't feel like you need to give away all the sauce.
Michael Rarick 9:31
Yeah, so I mean, in the first iteration of the business, that was definitely the way it was, everything was through guest posts, or it was through exchanging. And that works really well. And so it helps build that relationship because there's a lot of these sites that I mean, they're not gonna say like, Hey, like, we're not here to, you know, make a profit off our blog. It's supporting our other business. So if you want to get these placements on our site, then we can definitely do that but in return Ernie need to help us improve our SEO as well. So they want that exchange. Or they're like, Hey, I mean, you know, we have this blog, but it's running well. And we can always, you know, we'd love to do guest posting as well on your site, or you can write an article for us, you know, some of these kinds of favors, right, that you can exchange. So I think that works really well, in a small scale. So if you have like a few, you know, a handful of clients, and you're only doing a few amount, trying to maintain that, that list of exchanges in the background is a lot easier. And so what we've seen now is the next iteration, where it's like, Okay, now that we're growing, we're getting all these clients, that list is getting huge. We're calling all these people links, we're trying to figure out how to do that. And so that's where that relationship comes into play. So now, we have the relationship, we've done a lot of these things now, with these sites, we can ask them, you know, there's other ways that we can get the spots on there. But we can only do that, because, you know, we built the relationship before.
They're 100%. Yeah, makes a lot of sense. Yeah, I found like, I got to stage one, I guess you could say, with mommy blogs, right, helping my local clients, I found that like, you know that mommy blogs were the easiest, because they don't make very much money, their monetization is really bad typically. And they want more content. And if it's good content, they want the content. So it was a lot easier for them, for me to pitch them than most of the other niches out there and get like, get a good quality guest post published that, like you would be paying hundreds of dollars for on any of the marketplaces out there, right. And us to not have to pay. And we we got up to doing about 150 of those a month. And like, Man, I wanted to kill myself, like it was right, like 150 a month. And so yeah, we ran into some major major scaling problems. And like, we really, really backed off that as a method. So I can definitely see, you know, what, what, you guys have kind of transitioned the business to a little bit of a different model as well.
Michael Rarick 12:01
Yeah. And I think, you know, there's nothing wrong with doing it. The you know, the original way, I think, is really helpful. But like you said, I mean, if you're just doing it for your own site and doing an exchange, Oh, absolutely. You know, that's great. But if you really want to get to scale and start doing a lot of these things, you have to find other methods that might be a little bit different, but it's still maintaining the same standards, right? You know, just because we're going to be doing a little bit different doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to just accept any blog into anything with like any der and the spam score is ridiculously high, things like that, right? I mean, you still need to maintain that those standards at the end of the day, on your site.
So let's switch gears for a second, let's talk about sass. So like, at the end of the day, like you're an agency, right? And like you, you focus down, you guys niche down on SAS, let's talk a little bit about that. Like, why, how'd that happen? Why did that happen? Are you guys happy with that niche kind of agency?
Michael Rarick 12:57
So that's a great question. So our original founder, he was like a freelance writer. He was working for some really big publications like Monday, HubSpot different places, you know, these these names that you know, in SAS, and so that was a field that he was very comfortable in. And so when he was seeing the need in the market to do quality backlinks, because as a content writer, you're putting these links in anyway, so it's like, you know, why am I not kind of double dipping on this. And so he built an agency around himself, and you know, that was really, really focused on, but then just because he was comfortable, that doesn't mean that's, you know, the best market to be in. But what we have found is that, in the SAS realm, you have a few different things that are positive for you. So number one, you have the ability to not just be local, you can be nationally, you can be international, as well. So if I'm doing data processing, right, that's my business, I can take a client anywhere in the world to do that. So that gives me greater availability, that also gives me a lot more competition. So I mean, just because, you know, the local plumber, you know, in, you know, I'm in Dayton, Ohio, so like, in Dayton, Ohio, like, there's probably only going to be a handful of them, right? And so I know everybody whereas I'm doing, you know, data for the entire world, I could be competing at somebody in India can be competing as somebody in Hungary, right, you know, so all these people. So there's that where you have the ability to kind of go anywhere to like I said, there's a lot of competition in SAS right now. So people are trying to figure out different ways to level up on their competition. So there's a healthy level of competitiveness, which means that, you know, for marketers, it's a good way to capitalize on that appetite. And then finally, it's just good to always specialize in something right, the further you niche down, you are able to really be the authority in that site. So I mean, we could definitely go into, you know, any field that we really wanted to but specializing that means that my team and understands that realm, they understand we've had other clients that do maybe similar things to a new client coming in. So it's just easier for us to do that. But at the same time, you know, we're still open to bringing on other clients, as long as it's like, relatively close to what we do. I mean, we've tried to bring on completely other random ones. And it just, it never works well, in the long run. So you know, just sticking with what you do really well, is beneficial, I, I heard this thing I might be butchering the same, but it's always stuck in my mind about like drilling for oil. So like, you can drill down, you know, you have a field of oil. And so you're putting 50 wells in there, and they're all going like 10 feet down, and some of them might be tapping it, but then you're just keep putting more wells in there just trying to find oil. Whereas if you had two or three, that just keep going down and down and down, might hit this huge reservoir, right. So it's which approach was your attitude be really broad or be very narrow and go deep?
Yeah, sure. Definitely a lot easier for fulfillment as an agency to go deep. 100%
Michael Rarick 16:00
Yeah, right. I mean, especially if you're working with these sites, right, you know, you have to constantly find sites to work with. So if you're trying to do everything for everybody, like my, my sightless would be, you know, ridiculously long, whereas if I'm just doing SAS, and I can be, you know, a little bit more narrow.
I'm surprised like, that you didn't mention valuations with SAS. And, you know, I think that that's a big thing that, that you guys have going for you right, being in the SAS world, you know, people have to invest in marketing. And I think, in SAS, especially average customer values, lifetime values people are obsessed with, but they don't always have the cash up front, right to really invest all that money. It's expensive, right? With fake media. They, you know, and that's why a lot of them go after VC money and they go after, you know, on, you know, short short term capital or non dilutive capital, to get that money to be able to grow, right. And so I think search search, and what you guys do is a no brainer, right? In the long term, it's going to take money up front, but I don't think they'll probably have any other channel that compares and ROI to search.
Michael Rarick 17:11
Yeah, I definitely agree. And I think, but there's also kind of the aspect of market condition, right. So right now we're going through a huge change in the market, everybody's very skeptical, and you know, scared of what's going on. So we've seen two different approaches. One, you have the people that are like, I'm reallocating my entire marketing budget now to sales, because that's an easier metric to measure. It's a you know, perfect ROI, because I can just see how much and then you know, I get this reward, whereas marketing is like a very long term thing, I might get more rewards down the road, but to weather the storm of, you know, a recession, I need to make sure I have cash coming in. Where and then you have the other people who are saying, you know, we saw what the last couple of recessions did, we just saw what happened, you know, for the COVID crash, and the people that doubled down and marketing are the ones that are now reaping the benefits. So we have those clients that are like, no, like, now's the time to really double down. And if Yeah, if you have VC funding, or you know, you are pretty profitable in the space, and you have the budget to do that. But even if you're not, and you're more in that startup phase, you know, having the ability just to invest anything into your marketing, or your SEO is just going to pay dividends down the road, you just have to be patient, and you know, make sure that it's an investment versus, you know, this direct sales approach. So, little bit, two different approaches there. Definitely. And
I can see both of those. I see that in most industries, right now,
everybody's a little unsure of what's happening. So yeah, I completely agree. So, Eduardo, the show's producer, while pulling together, notes for today was talking about a client, lead, leading software AI company, where you guys were able to increase their traffic by over 20 700% in six months. That's kind of a crazy accomplishment. Can we talk a little bit about that one?
Michael Rarick 18:59
Yeah, sounds cool. Yeah, I mean, that's one of our feature case studies. We try to, you know, just because SAS is a big round, but you know, a lot of people know, who they everybody is. So we, you know, try to keep our clients a little bit more confidential. But for that one, yeah, so they were an AI company, they have the ability to write blogs, you know, through their software and do whatever, but they weren't really seeing a ton of great results. I mean, I say great results, they were seeing like 9000 hits per month. I mean, that's pretty good. But you know, they wanted more and so they were like, you know, how can we take our traffic to the next level? So what we did with them as a very targeted approach as I you know, that's kind of the way we always do it. But you know, in our case study, we demonstrate that it's, you know, we were we weren't doing more than 10 backlinks per month. And then over the course of I think it was about six months, we were able to increase their domain rating their Dr. From I believe it was 46 all the way up to 65. Which is great. I mean, you know, having that bump up is fine. But what the real value was, especially for them, they went from about a 9000 hits per month up to a quarter million. And so that ability to scale that, you know, with just a handful of links per month, kind of really proves what we were talking about on that quality versus quantity. And especially in that one, making sure that we are doing that two step process where we're, you know, reaching out to the client, and then we were doing the exchange in the background there to make sure that we were getting these results was key to that success.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So you said you're only getting like 10 links a month, right? So again, it's quality over quantity. How long do you see like the delay is from getting the backlinks to kind of seeing the actual rankings improve? I know, obviously, that's a tricky question. It all depends. But is it like a 30? Day a 60? Day and 90 day like, what do you see like, or what? How do you set clients expectations? Maybe is a better question about what to expect. I mean, because you're not a magician, right? You can't play God. So how do you do that? Or what advice do you give?
Michael Rarick 21:09
Yeah, so I get this question all the time. Right. So it's always funny. It depends on the person's role, and the way that they ask it. So if it's like a, you know, growth manager, or it's the CEO, or somebody they're like, Okay, When can I see the results? And can I get it today? The answer's no, you're not gonna see it today. And if it's a marketer, that I'm talking to you like the head of the marketing team, that question gets asked, you know, maybe half the time because they know it's gonna take time. But for trying to understand how long it's going to take, we usually say that within 90 days, we should start seeing some results. So it does take some time, just because you can do organic backlinking, where you're kind of just putting great content out there. And people are citing you anyway. So you're getting these links. So some of that happens all the time. And so Google takes that into an account. And then once you really start piling on month after month, or seeing this growth are a lots of people are starting to link to you a lot of these sites that have a higher Dr. than us. So if I'm currently at the Dr. 50, and I keep seeing all these 70s 80s kind of coming in, it's like okay, well, maybe I should take into account that these people are, you know, putting some good stuff out there. And so I'm going to start to rank up. So we usually see some of the first results within 90 days, and then about six months, you'll probably see a really big difference from where he started at month one. And for us, we normally like to do like, we track all that, right, we're gonna see where you're at, when we get started. We're gonna look at your history now. So that way, you know, within 30 days within 6090, and then six months, you know, how are we progressing? And then where do we need to change direction as well, you know, because some of these links might be look really great on paper, and then it's just not ranking correctly for some reason. So we have to go kind of go through and you know, I love as I mentioned data so going through and understanding the data and trying to figure out well