Top Takeaways 2022 Year End Recap Part 2

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In this episode, we bring you the second installment of our Top Takeaways 2022 Year End Recap. Part two features Joe’s interviews with reputation experts, Tim McGarvey and Eric Herman, cold outreach specialist Matt McQuinn, Whitespark Founder Darren Shaw, and link building expert Michael Rarick.

Topics Discussed

  • Reputation as leading ranking factor
  • What’s working and not working in cold email
  • Top SEO Myths and the truth about keyword stuffing
  • Relationship Link Building

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Joe 0:34
Yeah, I mean, I've seen personally with some sites, helping clients that like I've been able to get in the three pack, right. But if they didn't have reviews, and it used to be a strategy that I didn't really help people with, if they didn't have the reviews to back it up, I could get them in the three pack, but it'd be really hard for me to be able to stay in the three pack. But also they wouldn't actually get that many leads if they weren't dominant in terms of their reputation, right? If if they have the least amount of reviews and the worst overall score, just because you get there doesn't mean that all of a sudden, you know, the phone calls are just going to start ringing off the hook.

Tim McGarvey 1:09
Right. Right. There's there's so much emphasis now in the market and clients understand to a point that you need SEO. Yeah. Right. And they're like, Yeah, we got to rank we got to rank we gotta rank. Guess what, right? You got to have the reviews. It doesn't matter, like you show up on on the first page, and people look you up, and you don't have reduced none. I guess we'll get into this, but not just any reviews? For sure. I like this guy. That's No. Great office, like come here all the time. No, five stars? No, we're not talking, not talking about that. Right? Yeah. So like SEO isn't going to save you. If you're really in an area where you want to make a good living, right? It's not gonna save you. It's a combination of things. And you got to start with gotta start with a reputation. Now I don't have any indication necessarily that SEO is easier. Because you you have great reviews. But what's that?

Joe Troyer 2:13
I believe it is, really, I think that the the click through rate, manipulation, we'll call it whether whether your your count of reviews is a factor or your click through rate being manipulated, because you have better reviews than everybody else, one of those as a factor, right. And if if I have more reviews, and I'm in the fourth spot, I'll end up climbing to the top three, just because I have better reviews than the people in the first three. Right. And it doesn't mean I'll always be number one, but I will outrank and I'll hedge myself into the three pack just with more reviews. So when you think about reputation, and you think about selling a prospect or serving a prospect with reputation, like what does that what does that mean? In your eyes? I think, you know, when I've talked to different people and interviewing different people, everybody's concept of reputation management, and what they believe is involved or should be involved or important, seems to be vastly different. Very much so.

Eric Herman 3:14
So the way I look at it is, you know, I mean, I'm dating myself, but you know, when I was in business early on, it was truly referral marketing, right? There was no online component. So you would, you would ask people to refer you around. And it was always, even today to try to get someone to refer you without a program is difficult. But what I try to explain to businesses is you no longer have to do that. What you need to do is spend your time and effort in making sure what somebody sees, because whether you keep it up or you don't, you're you're everybody's comparison shopping, right? They go right down Google, and they can see what other people say about you. So it's, it's like an additional salesperson that needs to be accounted for in your business, you've just can't get away from it. And I think what people that when they get it that way, they you know, the problem they have is how do I do it? How do I do it without having to have a full time person, you know, supporting that part of my business, but they get it that when you say it to them that way?

Joe Troyer 4:19
Yeah, it makes perfect sense. You know, so many businesses were built on referrals. And I think people can certainly understand that, that that analogy, and you know, nowadays, it's not done that way, right? It's done through reviews, and instead of getting a referral, you ask for a review, that's going to boost your reputation that's going to get you better reviews, more, you know, highly seen on Google more sought after. I think that makes a whole lot of sense. Yeah.

Matt McQuinn 4:43
Yes, absolutely. Yeah, top things that I see working cold email or this. I'll tell you something that I don't see working as often and that probably a lot of people are doing right now. And that is this. A lot of people are used to being able to send or being taught that they can send 3000 emails mails out to 3000 companies and grow their business. And this is this is a twilight of of opportunity, it's closing.

Matt McQuinn 5:09
And it's getting darker and harder to do because every cold, every email platform provider is working harder to eliminate that feasibility. And so agencies if you're listening to this, and that's what you're doing for your clients, you should be scrambling to figure out what you're going to do next year, because it was two years ago, it was getting harder this year, they cracked down again, and it's just going to keep happening because blasting spam is not something that's good for platforms.

Matt McQuinn 5:33
So if we do that at scale, that's something that's really hurting people and the people that are coming up with these crazy campaigns. And it's probably not what everybody wants to hear. But it's actually the people that are doing the things that aren't super scalable. When you actually look at what those scripts are that are doing very well. They went and did the things that we've been talking about, they went and found something common ground, they had somebody research and it's genuine.

Matt McQuinn 5:57
And it's more than one point of common ground. And and there's so much going on there that you just can't can't deny the reason to communicate with that other party. And if you can find that compelling reason, it doesn't matter what it is, those are the people out there that are getting more results. Two years ago, if you were to say personalization is going to put you way ahead, I would have agreed. Right? It did initially.

Matt McQuinn 6:20
But that's because everybody was generic and spamming. And now we all get the generic personalizations. So now what's going to happen like what's the next horizon for cold outreach, and it's actually genuine connections with people, especially as we move into an era of AI and web three, where people are wearing their technology. And there's computers that are hard to tell, apart from people like there is an ever growing need to be genuine and form valuable relationships in a way that might not seem scalable to you.

Matt McQuinn 6:49
But the difference is guys, and I think this is something everybody seems to forget. Just because in the past, we had to send a whole bunch of contacts, I had to do a whole bunch of something to get a result doesn't mean the value of what you're doing has changed, it's actually increased drastically that if you can still do that and get results Well good for you, you're probably super high margin, because you're not doing the super unscalable things. But the reality is if you can produce results in a way that other people can't, and it's getting harder and harder to the value of your service goes up with that.

Matt McQuinn 7:19
So don't sleep on the fact that if you're delivering results where other people can't, you're providing a service and doing something that's worth more than 1000 bucks a month, like don't just set your bar and say I this is what I'm worth, you need to know that what you're doing is something difficult. If you're winning with cold email, you're doing something 99% of the other agencies are failing at and gave up and said it doesn't work or never even tried. So you need to value what you're doing and understand just how much of a catalyst this can be for you. And your clients to Don't Don't sleep on them.

Joe Troyer 7:52
And I love the the blasting of the emails like so agree with you. For me, like I've always found even when I when I make the copy work, and I start blasting, I get too much response I can't keep up with I can't make the most of it. And then like my marketing's like this too, right? So for me, they're flooded with way too many appointments. I can't keep up with the demand. have too many conversations. I'm not managing it well. And so I don't like the blasts. Right? Like they're uncomfortable.

Joe Troyer 8:26
Right, like, so I like easygoing, I don't want to know what to expect. And I want consistency. Right? I don't I don't want like feast and famine. So in my marketing agency, I'm always working on building a campaign that works. And I'm looking at building it with no volume, right? Like super small lists really small, really tight. Get proof of concept. Get three, four, follow up emails in there, make it work really, really well.

Joe Troyer 8:55
And then I can work with somebody like you and just say, all right, like literally every week, I need to do the math. I need 30 prospects every week that fit this criteria. And I need you to you know, build this list for me. And then I'm gonna dump it in the front of it an out the back every week like clockwork, it's gonna give me seven or eight appointments.

Darren Shaw 9:16
Oh, yeah. So I asked the question, What factors do you think absolutely do not impact rankings. So these are these are the mythbusting. So here's my favorite one top of the list. This is the one that comes up all the time. And there's a lot of snake oil in industry about this particular myth. geo tagging your photos before uploading them to GMB. Oh, my God is sold by SD software companies. And you see on the landing pages of agencies or we're going to geotag your photos. Oh my god. So that's that's another thing. What happens is when you upload a photo to Google, it strips all that data. So it's like there's absolutely no value in in doing that. Don't bother. Don't waste your time on geo tagging photos and this has been tested. by a number of practitioners, they geotag the photos. So no ranking benefits on no benefit whatsoever. So geo tagging photos, number one topic list, another one that people think is or do you want to say anything about geo tag? I

Joe Troyer 10:12
just love that. I think like back in the day when it was still Google Places, right? Like I remember definitely geo tagging images. But I can't remember man, how long how many years? It's been since that, that kind of went away in my own practices. But yeah, I think that's definitely a big one for sure.

Darren Shaw 10:29
I'm with you on that. Actually, back in the day, I was so excited when I discovered that I could stuff keywords into the EXIF data of images. And then I was like, This is it. It's my ticket to rankings, but has no impact. So another big one that people are not aware of a lot of people aren't aware of this. Is that putting keywords in your description in your Google business profile? no impact on rank? And the reason is Google does not factor in the Description field into the ranking algorithm. It's completely ignored. And I suppose it's like, you know, you can try and tell us what you do.

Darren Shaw 11:06
The categories huge, right? That's has a massive impact on ranking and keywords in the business name. I just did a video on that. That one's that one's a spams Ville, USA, because it works so well. But keywords in description, no, nothing keywords in your products now has no impact on running keywords in the services? No. So there's no sense in stuffing those, write them, like you're writing ad copy, you want to. You want it to be compelling.

Darren Shaw 11:33
And you're writing it for conversions, not for rankings. So that's an important one I think people need to be aware of is that the only play the only fields in your your Google profile that have an impact on ranking is keywords in the business name. Don't spam it, you should actually change your name. You could potentially get penalized, but Google doesn't police very well. Keywords are your primary category. Huge. It's like number one, I think last year was the number ranking factor. Your secondary categories, add any additional categories that you can think of that that that your business is related to because it's like, okay, now I can rank for that term too. But anywhere else on your listing doesn't really impact ranking.

Joe Troyer 12:16
So you talked about the the naming, right and keyword stuffing the name, right? So it used to be that like, only the black hats did that right? Like only the gray hats, the black hats, like that was? That was classic spam 101. But it worked. So well. You saw why they did it. Yeah, I feel like today, it's kind of a confusing thing for a lot of actual SEOs. Can I do this? Is it best practice to do this? Is it? Is it me being gray hat or black hat? If I use this? I don't feel like anybody really knows where the line is right now. What's your thoughts in terms of that?

Darren Shaw 12:54
Yeah, so this question is so great, because I have just been, I just wrote my script for the video. I'm gonna record today on answering that question. It's amazing, because I just released a video last week, because after the vicinity update that happened in December, the vicinity local algorithm update, it was identified that it seemed like keywords in the business name had less of an impact. Local SEO is rejoice. It's great. Google finally solved the spam problem. But I didn't really I didn't know if it had been like completely wiped out. Some people actually thought that keywords in the business, they might hurt your ranking.

Darren Shaw 13:33
So they're like, oh, I should take the keywords out. My rankings dropped. Oh, no. Should I take keywords out of my business name. And so my advice was to not take it on. I wanted to test it. So I was like, okay, post vicinity, I'm going to add some keywords to my my business name. What happens and so I'm measuring this in the in our Whitesburg local Rank Tracker. And it's like, oh, 2020 position jump overnight, it still works like a charm. It has a massive impact on ranking. So yes, keywords in the business name still very impactful for rankings.

Darren Shaw 14:05
Now, your question is, Should I do it? The answer that question is, it's really related to your risk tolerance. If you do it, you will get the ranking benefit. Will how risky is it? How likely is it your listing will get suspended? It's fairly unlikely. It's good to know that because it's like the most likely thing that will happen is in the case that someone doing spam fighting reports you. Google will be like, Thanks for the report. And then they take the keywords out of your business name and life goes on. It's like Alright, cool. Moving along, no problem. If you get reported multiple times, multiple infractions, and then a Google product expert escalates it and says, Dude, you got to suspend this guy. He just keeps infraction after infraction after infraction. Then Google's support team, their arm will finally be twisted, and you'll maybe get suspended. It's hard to get suspended. It's hard to suspend someone, anyone that does spam fighting knows how hard it is to get this damn stuff taken off from Google.

Darren Shaw 15:13
So that should give you a sense of how risky is it to put the keywords in a business name. So now you got to say, well, am I going to make 10 million more dollars a year because I now ranked number one with the keyword and the business name, some businesses might see that benefit, right and so take the risk, but there is it, there is a surefire way to put keywords in your business name, and not incur any risk whatsoever. And that is to rebrand. We did a rebrand for a business.

Darren Shaw 15:40
That before it was just like, you know, nondescript business brand name. And then we're like, your, if you get these keywords in your name, I'm telling you, it's gonna have a huge impact. So we worked with them to actually change their name with the Secretary of State, we worked with them to change it on their logo, their website, their signage, their T shirts, like their business cards, their utility company. So like, you know, a lot of people overlook this. And then, of course, we do a citation update. So we worked with them, of course, through our listing service to update all their citations. That the amazing thing is you can't get suspended if it's actually a business name. So there you go. That's your risk free way to reap the rewards of how strong of a ranking factor this is.

Joe Troyer 16:26
Yeah, definitely a very strong ranking factor. Thanks for the clarity. I love the client example, too. I have a friend that does marketing local SEO specifically for dentists. And he only works with like a dozen dentists. But he requires them to change their business name and helps them through the process. If

Darren Shaw 16:46
you want to rank you better change your name, that's part of our it's just like, you got to do it.

Joe Troyer 16:50
Here's my track record, like 99% of my clients have gotten on page one for the primary keyword phrase. Totally. Like so. It definitely works, obviously very big commitment, though. On the flip side,

Darren Shaw 17:03
I wasn't one other thing about it. It works now. So if you did this full rebrand, you might find that okay. Oh, man, the August 2022, Google Local algorithm update hit. And Google decided we're going to stop giving any credit to keywords in the business name. So now you've you've renamed your your business to Denver dentists near me. You've got a stupid looking brand name. So that that is that is something to consider?

Joe Troyer 17:31
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 17:40
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 and blue, you click it and it goes back to our site, you just saw a backlink, right?

Michael Rarick 18:02
So it's using a third party site is authoritative, and it's going to be ranking 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 in 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 gonna 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.

Michael Rarick 18:46
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'd like to do.

Michael Rarick 19:16
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 the quality versus quantity for us.

Joe Troyer 20:03
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, he 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 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 21:01
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 der 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 you?

Joe Troyer 22:01
Yeah. Yeah. The old Safe Neighborhoods analogy, is that a safe neighborhood would you want to show up in that neighborhood and you Everyone get out to casinos and gambling and you probably wouldn't

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