Fireside Chat with Jon Bennion

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Joe Casanova 

Awesome, what is up! Welcome back furlough community to another awesome session here at the Feature Fridays. And this week, we have taken a nice pause, we slowed down to do some housekeeping items here at Furlough. And I’ve got to say we’re very excited to be back for this session, specifically a Feature Friday session with none other than Jon Bennion. But before we bring him out, I want to go ahead and bring in my co host, none other than of course, you guys know, as one and only, Ophir Gadot. How are you doing, Ophir?

 

Ophir Gadot 

Hello, beautiful Friday. How are you doing brother?

 

Joe Casanova 

It’s such a beautiful Friday. It’s such a beautiful weekend, you and I had the privilege of actually speaking to Jon, one on one and having these conversations especially in that SEO ecommerce world. And I’m pretty excited to hear about that. I’m just curious what type of stuff you’re going to go ahead and pick his brain about, and try and get out of this session?

 

Ophir Gadot 

So obviously, SEO is a big thing. But I think because of the nature of our community and our members, picking his brain into agency management, starting your own agency and stuff like that, because of the Cornerstone is in his life, and his career. It is definitely something that will be valuable to everyone.

 

Joe Casanova 

Of course. So with that being said, I think we might as well go ahead and bring the man, the myth, the legend himself. Here we go. Make some wonderful noise. Hey, there’s Jon. How you doing, Jon?

 

Jon Bennion 

Hey, guys. I’m doing well. How are you all doing?

 

Joe Casanova 

Fantastic. I know you’re a busy man. Glad you could carve out time. Last week, we had to reschedule but now we managed to get you sitting in a car Mobile-ready, audio everything’s great. So definitely…

 

Jon Bennion 

I’m sitting in the car outside of Disney World. So, uh, you know, and it’s one of my favorite things. My wife, she didn’t even like, she’s like, Yeah, go, you got this meeting? Yeah, go, we got the kids. Go take care of business. And, you know, just join us when you can. So that’s the life of a…

 

Joe Casanova 

life on the road, right? Life’s moving, I guess. Great to have a partner that has your back over there. That’s amazing. There’s so much to unpack here. Because I know from our conversations, it’s funny because you and I, we were… I feel like we’re one of the same in the sense that in our conversations, we just want to bring value and so much value to the table. And that’s kind of what happened when we first met. And, you know, we came across because I went to AdWorld, you were one of the sponsors. And I got lucky enough to get matched by checking out you know, online marketing gurus offer and then we just started going deeper into SEO. So let’s just take it way, way back all the way to the beginning. And you know, definitely, you know, SEO has evolved, and it’s always changing. And even today, someone was talking about backlinks. And we all know, backlinks used to be important right now not as important. So definitely want to hear how you really started? Got your foot into space? And you know, we’ll just take it from there.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, that’s really good. It’s a good question. I’ve been in space for a little over 11 years, but it’s a fun story. I’m here. Because 11-12 years ago, I was working for a rehab, and we’re not talking like “I broke my knee, physical rehab”. No, we’re talking like drug and alcohol rehab. It was my job to help facilitate that people who are having trouble needed some help and get them in. And I thought to myself, like how the heck am I going to do marketing for a rehab? And so I thought this is really not something that you’re going to ask your friends or your family you know, you don’t go to your neighbor and say, “Hey, neighbor, you look like you have a past you know, you got like a good rehab for me?” I thought it was gonna go online. Right? This is something where they see their loved one, you know, walk in drunk for the 1,000th time. They’re gonna go online. And so I thought, Okay, I gotta do digital marketing. So I didn’t know much back then I hired an SEO agency. And honestly, it was just like the worst experience. It was the worst. I remember. After like, a couple of weeks, I’m like, “Hey, guys, like, what’s the update?” No, no, answer my email, call them voicemail. I can’t start to count. It was six emails. I was six emails in almost 30 days later, no kickoff call, no roadmap, no, no anything. And I get that this is kind of a particularly bad experience. But I also think this is way more common than what we think. But eventually, I got a screenshot of my Google Analytics page, which I had set up myself. And then like a basic email about some, you know, some content that I needed to write, and some link building. And I just thought this cannot be what good SEO looks like. So fast forward a few months after that. My relationship with that agency did not last very long. I was playing a game of pickup basketball, met this guy named James. You know, we’re getting along and having a good chat. And I asked him what he does. And he says, Well, I do SEO, and I just let… poor James, I just let him have it. I told him what I thought of him, his industry, his space, SEO in general. And he just kind of sat there and listened and was like, aha, like, I’ve heard this before. I’ve heard this before. And we ended up, you know, I actually ended up giving his agency a shot. And they, they killed it for me, you know, and, and they provided good reporting, they provided good account management, they provided clear structure, they provided accountability, they had dashboards, so I used that agency, and then I actually ended up working for them. When I went to, I decided that, at this time in my life, I got married, made a decision to go back to school. So I was looking for something like part time. I left the rehab world, this company had developed pretty good rapport with them. And they offered me a job. And that’s… I started off as a part time sales guy. And, and then, you know, I’ve been in digital marketing ever since. That’s how I got in, it’s a bit of a long story. But you know, I like that story. Because I have perspective on what good agency experience is like. I have perspective on what really bad experiences like. I’ve got the client perspective. And then I’ve had many different seats, you know, over the past 10 years, anywhere from sales, to management, to running all everything. And so it’s been a great journey for me. So that’s how I got started.

 

Joe Casanova 

I love it. And, you know, I do have to say, from our conversations, I feel like there are certain things that… There’s definitely more to this story, especially because I want to hear more about that Neil Patel experience, but we’re getting there. It seems like a, you know, Ophir and I know for sure, we resonate with what you’re saying, especially with agency side, and that agency experience and what you’re doing where you’re wearing many hats, you kind of see all sides of this coin, and ultimately became a service provider in this space. And, you know, solving, I guess, problems that a lot of people have, right? And where do you do SEO work, as I stated before, backlinking has, you know, kind of become not as important when it was dominantly the most important thing? Where do you see the space going?

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, it’s a really good question. So when I started, you know, doing SEO, I remember this agency that did a great job for me that I ended up working for, for years. We mostly did backlinks. And this would have been like 2010 11, we were mostly providing backlinks. Within a few months of arriving, we started to create, like this PDF document of on-site edits that we wanted clients to make, we noticed that there was a correlation between clients that had stronger on-site presence and their rankings. And so, you know, with links, specifically, I’m going to touch on something here, just real quick. I’ve been doing this long enough, I’ve seen links, be the hero, be the enemy, be the middleman watching, back to the hero back to the enemy. What I want to say about links is that they are not nearly as dominant as they used to be. However, good strong link building has and in my opinion will continue to work for a long time. It’s the order of priority that has got to be set, you need to have good technical SEO. First, you need to have good relevance, good content first. And then links are one of those ranking signals that as long as you’re doing it right, it should work and continue to work for you to make sense. Here’s how I look at it. A link what you’re really trying to do with a good link is to send Google a trust signal. And if I have a website that gets decent traffic that gets decent viewership, you know Google’s built their whole business off of links, not link sorry, off of ads and off eyeballs on the internet, right? And so when I have a link on my site that goes to you and to your site, when I’m telling Google’s I’m okay with my traffic eyeballs, which is so valuable to them, they see that as a super valuable thing. I’m okay with that traffic clicking on that link and going to you and to your site. So that’s why they’re important. It’s a great trust signal, it means that I value your product or value or service or, ideally, it means that I’m referencing you as an expert or as a source. So yeah, but no joke, we used to just build links. I mean, it used to just be that easy. And I’m actually really glad that Google has, has cleaned up that space. We all remember Penguin, penguin 2.0. I remember for a Halloween party, one of my co workers wore a giant penguin costume. And he won the scariest costume, you know, he won like 200 bucks because he had the scariest costume. So as you know, if you’ve been in SEO for a long time, I think I think we all remember when that algorithm started to roll out and we just all had like this. What are we going to do? You know, good news is I think a lot of us have come out better for it.

 

Joe Casanova 

I gotta say, the type of parties you’re going to where the penguin is the scariest costume. That’s great. I love what you said, with the trust signals. You know, whenever I talk about this with social media, you know, I guess influencers or concentrators in this space, I talk to them and tell them that, you know, we’re, you know, backlinks is basically someone talking about you, right! Like a website saying I trusted him, I speak for them. Referring domains, or how many people are talking to you, backlinks are how much they’re talking about you. And it’s so when you take a step back at, you know, the space is in digital marketing, it’s crazy to see how similar a lot of it is. And especially now where you know the authority, it’s still important. Of course, if you have all these top publishers or or top influencers talking about you Instagram or Google, whichever it may be, they’re gonna recognize that, but we’re kind of moving now more to a content rich space. So with this shift, what’s kind of that top priority of where you know, you kind of tell people, this is the focus, right? It’s so… The technique is 100%. That’s like the first entry point or what I would love to hear more about your approach.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, technically… Look, there’s a couple of things. Here’s where I see the technical going. The good news is I actually think that this is way easier than it ever has been, with some of the newer Google updates the way that their machine learning works, the speed to which they can index and and, you know, cuz think about it, like the reason we use Google, and not Yahoo, or not Bing, or whatever else is out there. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, it’s, you know, of course, we use this every now and then. But like, the reason why most searches done on Google is that Google does two things exceptionally well, the first one is that they are constantly scouring the internet for new information, it is to their benefit, that they can index and find information. Okay, so they’re going to make this part easier for you because they’re constantly looking for new information. So they can do their second job, which is to provide us the users with the best possible answer. And so you have to remember that Google, they want your content, they want your information, they are desperate to ensure that they’re providing good information to their user. So indexing, I actually think that it’s, it’s easier said than sometimes we make it out to be but there are some major issues that I still see, one, site speed. So site speed, especially in the eCommerce space, where you’re where you have a visual element when you have lots of products, images, look, you run an SEO audit, you do a site speed test nine times out of 10, the biggest issue you’re going to have are are your images are still too large. And you know, I hear people say, Well, I’ve resized them. And I asked when, a couple years ago, okay, well guess what, there are next-gen formats, there are better compression technologies, you should be resizing and trying to make your site faster, often, I mean, like at least twice a year. The other thing is that, look, we don’t get updates. Google does not often tell us what they’re going to do with core web vitals. They told us they warned us they gave us over a year, they delayed the onset of that algorithm update by months. And my personal belief is that it’s still not fully out there. Because I look at websites all week, and nine out of 10 are still failing, the core web vital stuff. And so I’m not a developer, I won’t pretend to be a lot of that it still has to do with site speed. There are three major elements of it. Get with your web team’s people and figure out how to pass that test. Because eventually, I do think Google is going to be a little bit more strict with it. And it’s like, you know what, I worked with social media teams that summer, and now I should be doing reels because Instagram wants reels. Google is going to want web sites that pass core web vitals and that are fast. So that’s what you should do with technology now. Sorry, I’m long winded. I got long answers. But your question was, where do I see technical? That’s where I see it.

 

Joe Casanova 

Beautiful and really quick. Want to take a moment? What’s up? Joshua B, I see you here. Glad you’re with us. And same with you, Eric. So of course, guys questions at any time, we’ll go ahead and filter. But for the time being, I’m going to keep picking John’s brain unless Ophir you want to jump in.

 

Ophir Gadot 

I have a couple of questions and then actually goes back to the linking, also into the core vitals. It’s like, from what I see. And I’m far from being an SEO expert. There is like a trend in SEO going from quantitative metrics to natural metrics, meaning, it’s all about not us kind of playing with algorithms and kind of aiming towards satisfying the algorithm. So how do you kind of summarize your experience in that sense?

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, I think that that’s a great summary. I think it’s fair to say that SEO in the past was about gaming it or trying to trick it. And I think good, good SEOs right now are trying to… like that they’re trying to satisfy they’re trying to actually, like, when I explained what my job is, I’d say that, you know, Google’s job is provide people with the best possible answer my job as an SEO practitioners to make sure that my client looks and is the best possible answer, okay. Because at the end of the day, it’s still algorithmic, it’s still math. And so and so but But what what’s really interesting is I do think Google is getting better and better and better at using their math to identify what the users want. So for example, I’m a huge proponent of more content, even on like product, heavy pages, even on image heavy pages, I’m a huge, I just believe that more content, more answers more information is nine times out of 10, the thing that you need to be doing like,  almost almost everybody that I talk to, when I audit their website, when I look at it, if I had to, you know, there’s hundreds and hundreds of things they need to do for SEO, but almost always at the very top is you need to add more homepage and categorical level content. And I believe that that’s because there’s a lot of users, I’m one of these users I like to read, I like to get my answers. I like to figure stuff out. I am stubborn, I will watch a YouTube video if I have to, after I’ve read and can’t find the answer, right? Because I’m actually faster at reading than I am at trying to figure out where in this 20 minute YouTube video is this like the 32nd spot that I need? Because I’m doing whatever I’m trying to do. But anyhow, so you got to be creative with that, though how either the question then usually becomes where do I add this content? I know a lot of people are going to be doing it on a mobile phone. How do I make it so that it’s not ugly? And that’s a lot of the advice that I give out as well. You know, use accordion menus, use drop downs, you see more buttons with Google’s, you know, mobile first index, these are things that are no longer frowned upon at one point they might have been, it gets a little close to some tactics that I saw. I mean, did you guys ever see a website where they had like the wider black banners kind of on the side and then and then if you knew what you’re looking for, you could see content written in those white spaces, the content was also in the color was the same as the background. So…

 

Joe Casanova 

My favorite thing they would do is get the keyword you’re ranking for and just turn that text white and just paste it 1000 times and things like that. And I love the conversation we had where you were telling us that you kind of kick the homepage rich with all this content, but you hide it by using the read more and still indexes. And that was fantastic information. I do have a quick question. And this is from Susie: is running the lighthouse SEO Analysis on your page good enough to determine what changes we need to make to our site for SEO? Or is there a better tool in your opinion?

 

Jon Bennion 

Ooh, so this is a great question. It’s not, and but I will say that there isn’t really a better tool either. There are a lot of great tools for specific things. But every single SEO tool is going to have the exact same problem. It will tell you everything that’s wrong, okay. Or it will tell you if something is compliant. But I can’t tell you if it’s good, for example, there’s a lot of tools that will tell you if you have, you know, good title tags. It’s not actually telling you if it’s any good. It’s telling you if it’s the proper length. There are other tools that will tell you, does that make sense? I hope it makes sense. All the tools have the same problem. They can’t differentiate complaints from good, alright, and they can’t prioritize very well. And I know this because, you know, a lot of what Neal was working on with Ubersuggest was trying to figure out how to use AI and some automation to give priority and while that tool has come a long way. And you know, it’s not bad, it still runs into the same issue. It spits out hundreds of hundreds of things that you need to do. But it doesn’t tell you which one’s actually going to make the biggest difference. So again, that’s not a bad tool. I personally don’t use that one. But most of the tools that I use are not for management of a specific website, it’s to audit and to look at hundreds of different website sites. So to be totally honest with you, I don’t have a ton of experience with that. But I can tell you, though, what really makes a difference is to have an asset, having somebody who can look at that information, look at what the tool is telling you, and then actually digest it and turn it into actionable prioritizable insights.

 

Joe Casanova 

Amazing. Susie says yes, absolutely. Makes sense. Thank you for that answer. And you know, while we’re on the topic, I can imagine the tools that you’re using are SEMrush SpyFu, Ahrefs, any other ones? Maybe Uber suggests and and you’re like, Ophir,  SimilarWeb in there.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, yep. Similar web, Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog is not one that I hear about a lot. But I really wish I would hear a lot more from experts, because I think it is one of the most robust tools out there.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Personally, a big fan of Ahrefs as well, I think it’s phenomenal. But again, it’s everyone with his own favorites. You know, I mean, it’s, I don’t think there’s like a go-to-tool. I think it’s a combination of those.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, that’s correct. I use, you know, and also, I’ll tell you what I use different tools for. I use SEMrush for keyword data, I find that the keyword data there is pretty good. The top page data there is pretty dang good. I don’t use it for their backlink or site analysis much. I love to use it for competitive keyword research as well. I’ll plug in, you know, six, seven competitor websites. And so that’s why I use SEMrush. I use Ahrefs for all things backlinks, I find it to be one of the most valuable backlinking tools. I use it a lot more today than I used to for keyword difficulty. So when I’m trying to come up with either a budget for a client or when I’m trying to figure out what to help them rank for the Ahrefs keyword tool has quickly become one of my go-tos. I love Screaming Frog, I use Screaming Frog quite a bit for content, it has a really good crawler that’ll tell you how much content is on page. I also use it for what I call the SEO like hygiene or SEO one on one stuff, Title Tag, meta description, alt text. And by the way, Screaming Frog, also, like they should pay me to promote them. You can use Screaming Frog, it’s either 50 or 500 URLs that they’ll crawl for free. And you get most of their data. So it’s one of the better tools that has a free version.

 

Joe Casanova 

Absolutely. And there you go, Susie, I see you asking for those tools and those links written down. Thank you for sharing them. So I definitely keep hearing you teasing Neil stuff, I gotta hear this. Give us a story. I know, I want to save it a little bit, but I’m too excited. So I definitely want to hear about that experience and what you learned, you know, through the beginning stages of what was going on in space?

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, no, it’s, uh, where do I start? So I met Neil, I want to say this would have been back in 2014, or 15. This was a while ago, this is when he was promoting. He was associated with Quicksprout. I can’t remember the other the other site that he had, but, but long story short, Neil approached the company that I was with, and he was looking for a place to, to that he could send some leads to he was generating a lot of leads, he didn’t have an agency at the time. And so he was basically generating all these leads, and then they and then they would, you know, outsource them to different agencies to facilitate you know, like selling them a package and then he would get an affiliate cut. And so I did that with him for a couple of years. It was great. You know, I learned a lot of really cool things from Neil. I know in the SEO space, he can be a bit of a controversial person. And that’s totally fine. But I learned a ton. Something that I learned from him. You know, he’s always so quick to respond. You know, you’re almost never waiting for Neil. And he, you know, he really, he does practice quite a bit of what he preaches. But you know, fast forward a few years later, he approached… So back then I was with a coworker his name’s Kelly. And he was the head of marketing. I ran all things sales for that agency. He gave me a call one day and said hey, Neil’s calling and wants to know if we want to start an agency with them. And I said, Yes, let’s do it. So this would have been, what was that? 2018 2019. He had already started his enterprise agency called Neil Patel Digital out of San Diego. And we and Kelly, with their assistants, started a company called NP Excel. I believe they’ve rolled into one now at this point. But yeah, that was That was crazy. I mean, it was literally the two of us from and Neil’s leads, so we have a ton of leads. So I mean, I don’t know if you really understand just how good he is at lead gen. Like I’m gonna say a ton. What do you think that means? Joe? What’s a ton?

 

Joe Casanova 

I can imagine 1000s? Yeah, it’s

 

Jon Bennion 

1000s and 1000s, and 1000s. So as a sales leader, one of my first challenges was, how do I assign these out? How do I get these people? How do I figure out filters, methods, ways to get them in front of our reps, so that we can call them? So I mean, but that is? So that’s how, and I was there for about a year and a half. There were all kinds. There’s all kinds of stories to unpack there. So I guess I’ll just let you ask questions.

 

Joe Casanova 

I will defer the questions over to we got Diogo Fraga over there in Portugal, Diogo asked: how do you go about outsourcing quality writers? I find it difficult to find good writers, especially technical ones, and the technical niches. Great question.

 

Jon Bennion 

Okay, so yeah, no, that is a good question. And so what I’ll say is that I… can you hear me? Are we good?

 

Joe Casanova 

No, I was just commenting that I struggle with the same issue. It’s a very great question.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, so what I’ve done and so you gotta remember some of my background is scaling. Right? So how do we scale this sort of stuff? And I’ll tell you that the one of the very first things you have to do is separate your content, you have to put it in buckets, there’s content that you’re going to acquire for the purpose of link building, there’s content that you’re going to use to write and, and use for on site content. And then there’s even that which needs to be separated. Typically, when I do content, I focus it on two areas, there’s what I call content refresh, where I’m going in and expanding, making current content better or better for SEO. And then there’s brand new web copy, brand new, fresh content, my best advice with if you’re writing copy, for somebody’s website, some of the best advice I can give you is be very open and transparent with your end client, that it is a process that you need their help with, one of the best things I’ve ever done is that is that I will typically tell clients look, the very first time we write a piece of content, you will not like it, I want you to expect that because I need your feedback. Where did we mess up on the voice? What sort of technical issues did we get wrong? You know, what sort of Product Descriptions aren’t, aren’t true or aren’t accurate, like when we describe how this is made, is that really how it’s made, like I need you to go through it. And and, but if I don’t set that expectation, they’re gonna get the first piece of content, they’re gonna hate it. And they’re going to be super disappointed. So I actually set the expectation that in order for our content to get better, we need to work back and forth. Now that said, I will almost always try to bring on-site content in-house as soon as possible. Because it’s too important, you gotta find either a group that is really good, and it’s going to be more expensive, that’s just the way it is. Or you need to bring in somebody in house which can also be challenging. Or you have to commit the time to do the QA or someone that you trust to do the QA. The last thing that I recommend for the on-site stuff is you can do what’s called… for some of our clients, especially if they have a really technical product, if you’re never, you got to just look at it be honest, you probably never going to really be able to write about it as well as they are. So give them a brief instead, like give them a recipe on how to create amazing content, or take the first stab at it and then have them go in and fix it. Or vice versa. They take the first stab, you SEO it. You take the first step. They make it, you know, more appropriate or better. So that’s not the best answer. And I’m sorry, but it is the honest answer. It is very hard to write content for somebody on their webpage. Now, for backlinking. Like if you’re doing some backlinking if you have a decent outreach team, or if you’re trying to provide better blogs, that stuff’s easier. You can use one of the many services that are out there, and then have the right bulk content. And then same thing, somebody on your outreach team or yourself, you probably want to QA it, edit it. Make sure you tweak the links or whatnot and then and then and then publish it but I usually have different writers for on site content and then off site content.

 

Joe Casanova 

For sure I resonate with that, because it’s been a struggle finding some technical writers that are, can deliver consistently, especially when you’re talking about like an agency model where they might be servicing different industry, having someone that is proficient in writing about, you know, fashion versus someone that’s great at writing about beauty. But yeah, absolutely. When it comes down to off-page content with backlinks, you don’t need to be so rich about it. Because the main goal of that backlink and I content was to link back to you versus ranking organically in the search engine. So I know that it might not be the answer you guys are looking for. But if we had those answers, I think we’d be way better off as well. Those are some questions that we’re asking, right? Where can we deliver?

 

Jon Bennion 

And look, message me on… Whoever asked that question. I apologize. If I missed the name, message me in discord. And I know a few people, I can get you connected, there’s I actually have a few. And basically, my thought process is that there’s no one size fits all, when it comes to on site content, it really depends on the project. And there are a few different resources that I’ve been able to work with now. And in the past that I could probably steer you in the right direction. If I have a little bit better insight into what type of content you’re looking for. So good question.

 

Joe Casanova 

Amazing. And we have another question that is, but Ophir, I’m going to give you a chance.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Just take the question from the audience. I’ll continue afterwards, no worries.

 

Joe Casanova 

Okay. Susie asks, Can you talk more about the role of off-site content? And what do you mean there? Like do you mean writing guest posts for other blogs, or social media content? I mean, that’s a nice little layout for you Jon, you take that one.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, when I say off-site content, I am referring to content that’s going to be used for Link generation. Now, I will say for for backlinks, the absolute best type of backlink that you can get is an organic backlink meaning that you have such great content, you have such good information that somebody can’t help or such a good product or service that someone can’t help but talk about it, link back to reference it. That is the absolute best way to get good backlinks. Now that said, there are lots of really boring products out there that they’re just never going to get and so what I do is I do quite a bit of guest blog posting. And the same thing I try to set really good expectations that when you do a good guest blog post, I’m less interested in… today, I’m less interested in domain authority. And, you know, DA DR, I actually love to look at traffic metrics of websites. Those are some of the better links. And then I actually like to look at the website that I’m planning on publishing on. Does it look like a good website? Or does it look like a crappy one, there’s still a lot of crappy websites out there that have a good DA, good DR. But the idea behind a good guest blog post is that you are supposed to be referenced not about the company, it’s not about the product is where a lot of people get wrong. It’s actually it should be about I guess it can be about the product, but it should be referencing the client’s website as an expert or as a source of information. Okay? It is not PR. PR is different. In PR you’re going to anchor text the name and it’s going to be a really high domain authority. And that’s what you’re going for. But with good guest blog posting, you should be referencing the end website as an expert or as a source for the information that you have that you’re writing about. And so and so that’s what I mean by off-site content in many cases, I have to write a lot of content for clients that are not going to be getting a lot of natural organic backlinks.

 

Joe Casanova 

Oh, that was spot on. I mean, I love the reference of you know, that the off site article content should be referencing you as an expert and not be so heavy the I guess like promotional trying to squeeze every single backlink or 10 backlinks an article. What’s the ideal when it comes down to backlinking? I know that changes at the time when I was doing it. We aim for two, what’s the ideal amount of backlinks you want to see on a site from an article to best practice?

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, two is fine. And you really want it in the first or second paragraph, okay, like the earlier up. And then you also want to have others in there as well. And you may not be their direct competitors. But an article that only has one backlink to one person that’s just a perfect keyword on the anchor text is just as all get out. So If you’re going to write a try to make it an actual like good, helpful article, okay, and B, yeah, twice is fine. First Second paragraph is the best placement for it. And then make sure you’re linking to a couple of other places as well. You don’t want your client to be the only source and I said I don’t double dip. I don’t use one article to link to multiple clients. It is a bad idea. Don’t do it. But you do want to…

 

Joe Casanova 

I have done that. I couldn’t help it because they weren’t competing. It was like fitness. I was like, okay, we can do this.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah. I should ask my backlink team. Maybe it’s happened. I’m not sure. I hope not.

 

Joe Casanova 

But it’s really great. I’m just gonna comment on that. And then Ophir will go. It’s really great how you said, Don’t backlink to just one. And at least some of the best practices I’ve done is kind of I don’t know if this works or not just kind of the best practice I take is I will link to other high DA references, so that it kind of tells Google like, oh, this website’s similar to that high DA one even though this is only one you’re trying to boost for. So I love that. And yes, Ophir, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Jon, do follow or nofollow. And what trends are changing in the space of SEO?

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, um, do follow 100%. Like, every time. That said, every once in a while the publisher, the end publisher might insist on a nofollow. And if I’ve already gotten that far, where I’ve gotten an article approved, it’s been published or ordered, it’s scheduled to be published at the last minute, they say, Hey, I’m going to make this a nofollow. I’m okay with that. I will give the client another follow. They are, you know, I look at as a personal integrity thing, like they’re paying me for a do follow link. And there’s definitely a way better link improvement rankings improvement with the following. Now, you know, when was it! About a year ago, Google wanted you to tag links with all kinds of different things. I’m not doing that. I don’t think very many people think anybody is. And…

 

Joe Casanova 

I’m sorry, you’re referring to the tagging with do follow nofollow, sponsored, UGC? Right? Yeah. I haven’t I’ve never met anyone that actually implemented that.

 

Jon Bennion 

Me neither, you know, it’s like, look, we have a lot of stuff to Google. And we’re not going to do this. But that may play a bigger role. I think that there are links. I just can’t think again, it goes back to the fundamentals. It’s the trust. And I think what’s gonna happen is Google is going to get better and better and better at identifying. Because there’s the truth, is there still way too many blog networks, there’s still way too many spammy links. I think what we’re going to move into is genuine, like, really good websites, owners, website hosts, they are going to more and more ask for some sort of fee or placement. And I think that’s fine. Like if I have a great website, and someone wants to post a good piece of content, I’m okay with that. I don’t want to charge someone 20 bucks for it. But at the end of the day, I think Google would nofollow follow whatever other tag, I think they’re going to get better and better and better at identifying what websites are good and have good traffic or not spammy or not blogs, blog networks, is the links from those are going to become more and more valuable.

 

Joe Casanova 

Beautiful. We have a couple people that just commented on that. So we have some follow up questions. I just want to give my two cents . If you look at platforms like social media platforms, they automatically send that nofollow link. And Google, of course knows that wow, you have a million do follow links, but no one in social media is talking about you’re linking to that’s a little sus, right. So there is definitely balancing importance with the nofollow. But if you’re doing a great job with do follow and as a brand, you shouldn’t be naturally getting these nofollow links. So really quick here we have Susie commenting on the guest posting. I’ve never outreach to another site to attempt a guest blog post before. How easy is it to get another site to accept the guest blog posts? And we have a follow up question. Should spot blog posts be a nofollow or do follow?

 

Jon Bennion 

Okay, so, let’s answer Susie’s question. So it’s very hard. That’s why I have a job. People pay me to do that for them. It’s hard. And look, it’s easier the longer you do it, but there are ways that you can do it on your own. So Ahrefs, I’m trying to remember exactly how to navigate. Ahref has it’s called their long intersection. And I think one of you needs to mute because I can hear myself. How’s that testing? That’s better. Okay. So, thank you. So you use Ahrefs, they have a link intersect. And basically what you can, you can say is you can put in like three or four or five competitors. And you can, Ahref will generate a list for you, it’ll generate a list of websites that are linking to them, but not to you, you can then take those websites, and you can put them into some sort of email outreach, there are some automated tools, I can’t remember the one that my team uses off the top of my head, maybe you can send me a message in discord, I can get that information over to you. But there, we sent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails every single day to websites, you know, domain webmasters, and like 99% of them never get responded to like it can be a drag. The good news is, the longer you do it, you know, the more relationships you build, every website in the world wants more content, every in the world needs more content. So you just kind of have to be very persistent with it. And then you have to deliver good content. Even though I say that you can outsource that content, the QA still needs to be good. You need to give that web owner value, especially if it’s like a legit website and not one of these blog network type websites. It’s important to provide value but that is how you do it. You know, we develop these writer personas, some of them have experts in various industries. So that’s the way to get started, create a list of websites that are linking to the competition, but not to you. And then and then start to manually outreach. I’ve also had quite a bit of success doing outreach on LinkedIn. Sometimes it’s a little easier to get somebody to respond to a LinkedIn message than it is to just a random email. But yeah, there’s the answer. Now, the second question, again, I am always going to promote. I like what you said there should be you should have some no follows you should have do follows, like a good healthy website will have both. But if I’m doing a guest blog post for someone, I am absolutely going to be pushing very hard to make sure that that’s a do-follow link. As I mentioned before, if I get all the way to the end, I’ve gotten it approved. They’ve offered me good content. I will if the webmaster comes in says I actually need this to be a nofollow. I’m not going to shoot that down, especially when I’m already at the finish line. I will however, provide my client with another link that is a do-follow typically, for my own personal delivery. I’m delivering do-follow links. So everyone’s freebie. But you should be shooting for the following. They should get plenty of followers on their own. Okay. Ideally. And I honestly I’m trying to think of the last, I don’t, I can’t think of a client where I’ve purposely built nofollow links for like to balance out their link profile. That’s just not something I’ve ever needed to do because I haven’t run into that client yet. Always, I guess could be one. But I will say go ahead and always, always shoot for do-follow links with guest blog posting.

 

Ophir Gadot 

100%. Couple more questions. How about your strategy when it comes to anchor text? And how do you kind of incorporate it with your LinkedIn efforts?

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, good. I love it. We’re getting into the end of the fun technical questions. So look, anchor text needs to, I still believe that keyword based anchor text is going to be your best bet. You should vary your anchor text though, like if I’m doing a program where I’m building, you know, somewhere between four to 10 links a month, I’m not going to have all of them have the same anchor text, they are going to be diversified. They’re going to be different keywords or different keyword phrases, but you should still if you want to have an absolute safe bet, then the name of the company or the website that is your safest anchor text. I don’t do those, that’s PR and it’s not really gonna help that much unless someone’s typing in their name, which maybe they are. Branded search is important. But usually it’s going to be keyword-based. Usually depending on the vertical might even be a longtail keyword you know with more than four words. And then again, it should be varied. Your link building efforts should not all be the exact same anchor text key, you know, you should diversify it every two or three links should have a variation of that keyword text, anchor text sorry. So trying to think if there’s anything else there… That’s good.

 

Joe Casanova 

That was very good. Yeah, I was gonna say if it’s ecommerce, the combination of product page collections, the website name, long tail keywords, kind of keep it tight and try and make it feel as natural as possible. because Google’s smarter right, algorithms don’t change. Code doesn’t change. They’re building onto existing code. So it’s learning. So definitely a great answer, Ophir, you got any more over there?

 

Ophir Gadot 

I have a lot of questions. Yeah. But I just waited, I let you warm up, you know, it’s something we’re kind of debating internally constantly with ecommerce stores, especially not the very wealthy commerce brand owners. Should you go for a blog or just not?

 

Jon Bennion 

Not. Very controversial advice here. But it’s Look, let me rephrase not yet. Okay. Again, guys, please, please, if you take away one thing, and Joe already knows what it is because I mentioned it to him like 10 times. He’s heard this speech before but almost remember, this stat 93% of the blogs written, never make it to the first page of Google. And the chances of you having a magical amazing blog being in that 7% on a brand new website are almost zero, the blogs that 7% of blogs that are being on the first page of Google are because they’re on giant websites, where all of their blogs at the first page of Google, okay, the what you need is longer, better, more informative content on your homepage, what you need is more content on your category, and service and product pages. This is contrary to what I see a lot. I’m telling you, this absolutely works. If you take one thing away from today, go back to your homepage, add 1000 words, go back to your category pages, add 1000 words, be creative with where you put that content. But that is what Google needs way more than it needs a blog. The last thing it needs is another blog that it can bury on the fourth or fifth page of Google, it needs better information on your homepage.

 

Ophir Gadot 

100 percent. I also think that the commitment to create a blog for eCommerce Store and many times it’s not there. And I mean, they don’t have the resources. And doing it for the sake of doing it doesn’t make sense.

 

Jon Bennion 

It’s still happening. Like, it’s, it’s amazing that, you know, almost every website I look at has a blog of some kind, and has one to two or three posts in the last year or whatever, at least you know, and yet, and yet the homepage hasn’t changed since the day it went live.

 

Ophir Gadot 

I’ve been consulting business owners, which told me like let’s just post something, whatever it is, I want to have a blog and they run their team around stuff that makes zero impact on their traffic or website experience. So definitely, I’m with you on that. And then happy that this is your response. Few more questions if you can…

 

Joe Casanova 

And actually, Ophir, I’m sorry. I have a specific one on this exact topic, and it’s fairly late. Now I’m very curious, because obviously, eCommerce and blogs aren’t necessarily not really. And we have a suggestion for one of our clients where they’re an athleisure brand and rolling out the new year, we’re going to be doing a free workout program because email marketing, we believe shouldn’t always be promotional, should be educational, content focused content rich, and kind of get them opening and being a part of the brand. Now one of the things that we wanted to do is include the actual workout like a gift showing each exercise that we do, but putting in an email will be so heavy. So our approach is like maybe we should do a blog so that each week is the workouts there. And our goal isn’t necessarily SEO for that. It’s really just to get them from the email, not be promotional and send them content. And then when they click through the content, and they get to the blog, now they’re on the site, they have a higher chance of converting by clicking through an email versus just seeing and so I’d love to hear your thoughts there. And if it’s a hot take, I definitely want to hear that too.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, so when I give advice, in many instances, it’s very skewed to what I want to do, which is help someone rank better on Google, you can use a blog for a lot of other reasons. This seems like a very appropriate great use of content creation. And bottom line, as long as you have proper interlinking. There’s some things you can do with this to help rankings as well. That sort of thing is fantastic. You should do that. That sounds like an absolutely great idea. But for most people, like I’m guessing that this leisurewear company already has traffic or maybe already has an email list or already has a customer base, you know, if you had nothing if you had none of that, and this was what you were doing, that is not what you should do. You should focus on category level content that is long form that’s longer than the people that are ranking on the first page already that answers questions better, that has, you know, just more robust and better information. That’s what will excite Google and help you to rank. Now that said, your use case, different scenario. sounds totally awesome. And you know, it’s very appropriate.

 

Joe Casanova 

Okay, Ophir, there you go.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Just about YouTube SEO, I don’t know if this is something you’re experienced with, but definitely something that brings value to everyone in here. So I’d love to hear your take on this.

 

Jon Bennion 

You cut out there for a second, but I think you said YouTube SEO,

 

Ophir Gadot 

YouTube SEO. Yeah. If you could go just give an overview of your experience and best practices of YouTube SEO.

 

Jon Bennion 

Let me see if it’s in the back somewhere. Yeah, no, I don’t have a lot. So look, I have some YouTube, I’ll tell you, as I don’t ask for when it comes to YouTube SEO,  there’s a couple of people that if you’re looking for help, if I can refer you to, I do know enough to be dangerous. A lot of it’s the same thing, you need to have good descriptions of what the video videos are about. I like to host them, I like to have a website that has a whole transcript, if you’re going to make a video have a website associated with it. But a lot of what will make you successful is actually your subscribers, your view count, and especially the immediate, you need views right away, it seems silly, but if you want your video to do better in the ranking of YouTube, then you almost need like, a little following. You got to really promote it, you got to get it out there. You got to get people to subscribe to it. And then you have to have people watch it. I don’t remember it exactly. off the top of my head. But there are certain metrics that if you hit, you’re far more likely to show up and rank, but almost all of them have to do with views and subscribers within the first couple of days. So that’s where most of you are going to fall into if you don’t have that yet. That’s what you need. It’s not my expertise. So I’ll defer other questions about YouTube SEO to another another day and another another expert.

 

Joe Casanova 

I just went through a rabbit hole of YouTube SEO for obvious reasons. And what I was saying earlier when we started this session of how you know applicable, what we were talking about the referring domains and backlinks as it pertains to social media influencers and mentions, I feel like the YouTube SEO is one of the same. And going back to what you said: Focus on your homepage content, which is basically your homepage on your YouTube, having the right playlists, making sure your channel tags and your playlists and individual content, your categorical content is tagged properly, right, keyword rich, heavy on the title, as well as the description. And one of the most important things as you said was, was the immediate views subscribers, yes, but it’s average is a view time. And if you have a high view, YouTube’s whole goal is to keep you on that. That’s why when you finish a video, they recommend you another video. Turns out 70% of all videos are watched on YouTube or recommended by YouTube. So having that long, average wait time, encouraging people throughout your video to stay to the end, we have a special surprise that increases average watch time and then increases the chance of YouTube actually supporting your growth efforts. So I felt like I should jump in and chime in when the opportunity was there. So right back to you, Ophir. You got a few more. Just a few more minutes left.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Here, comment about YouTube SEO. What are the most important engagement metrics for SEO performance?

 

Jon Bennion 

So I sort of categorize that in user experience, which user experience does, and it’s increasingly having more to do with SEO. But look, there are going to be things like bounce rate, time on site, how many different pages do they go to, conversion metrics. Those are things that I personally look to and try to track. When I’m working with SEO, I believe that good SEO is not about keyword rankings. That is the first step of good SEO. Good SEO at the end of the day should help your client make more revenue. Should help them make more sales, get more leads, get more customers. And so the conversion metrics are going to be important, but they’re going to be the conversion metrics that were that we associate with a good campaign, which is how many conversions did I get? Now? Again, you kind of have to backward engineer it. You need to diminish the bounce rate. You need to spend more time on websites. Something from an SEO perspective canonicalizing your pages and using canonical tags. This is something that almost no one I mean, geez, we’re almost out of time. And we still need to talk about our favorite thing which is schema but we’ll talk about canonical tags. You can do one of my favorite things to do and I need to come up with a better name for it. But it’s called a keyword cannibalization audit and basically what I do is I look at pages on your website. that are competing with each other that are ranking on the third or fourth page. And then the fifth and sixth page of the SERPs for the same keyword or keyword phrase. What that tells me is that you have two pages that Google sees as an okay answer, but not a great answer. And usually, what you need to do is canonicalize them and say, This is the main content, this is sub content or secondary content. And we should do a whole clinic on canonical tags. Because they’ve solved a lot of problems that a lot of SEO people had where, where product descriptions were sounding repetitive, or where if you had multiple locations, but the same service like you know, used to have to be really take a lot of time to write like really unique content, you don’t do that anymore, you just have to tag it, right. So that use canonical tags. That’s one of the best ways because that way, you know, to come full circle here, you can use canonical tags to help them better page rank for the right term, so that you improve bounce rate so that you improve time on website.

 

Joe Casanova 

Amazing, we have just a few more minutes. I know Ophir has some more questions.

 

Ophir Gadot 

One important question, if I can. Last question that will take only a second.

 

Joe Casanova 

I’m gonna save yours. I’ll save yours for last because I have Susie here and others as well. And then we’ll go to Ophir. And if you guys have any questions, get them in now because I think we aren’t going to be able to handle any more. But of course, we have discord 24/7. But we got to let Jon into his family. Susie asked, my site is a user generated content site. So most of my homepage is just showcasing users’ posts. I also have a list of my recent blog posts. Should I revise my homepage to display the full blog content instead?

 

Jon Bennion 

No, you need to message Susie, you need to message me on Discord, we need to have a long conversation. But no, you actually need static content. That doesn’t change. That’s the advice I can give you in the time that we have. I’ll help you put that theory into action. Let’s go offline for that one. But no, one of the problems with a ton of user generated content eventually gets to a point where it’s massive, and it’s fine. But typically you’re going to need some sort of static or not changing content so that Google can have a better understanding of what it is what you do. So that they can help you to rank. And I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you why it’s important. Reddit is a perfect example of this. Reddit has such… One of their biggest problems is that they have the worst search feature of all time. Nobody uses the Reddit search function, you actually use Google to search what you’re looking for and then type in Reddit. Okay, cuz you’ll never find it on Reddit. And part of that is their inability to the static nature of their content. But okay, let’s go to the next question.

 

Joe Casanova 

There we go. We got Gotham over in Canada. He asked a question on core vitals, how much time should we spend on it? Should we consider it to optimize mobile page speed? Above 90?

 

Jon Bennion 

No. no, look, the average is like less than 30. So if you are, you’re doing Google PageSpeed Insights, and you have the mobile side clicked and you’re at a 90, your job is done. Congrats. Unless your competition is 92,93,94. They’re not well done. You need to spend time writing more content, you’re now the only Asterix their core web vitals and site speed I have seen don’t happen often. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 90 that didn’t pass core vitals. But those are two separate line items. You can have a high speed score and still fail somewhere at core web vitals; it’s not often, but it does happen. So make sure you’re looking at both. Next question.

 

Joe Casanova 

Amazing. And that’s it. I’m going to go straight to Ophir. Last question, Jon, hopefully closing remarks and maybe call to actions where they can find you. Of course, Discord. But Ophir please take it away.

 

Ophir Gadot 

So what we discovered on my side over the last few years has the biggest impact on organic traffic is branded search volume. And just want to hear your take on that. And if this is a metric you would recommend optimizing towards.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yes. So branded search volume. Oh, man, you had to ask this at the very end. And we still didn’t get to talk about schema, oh, well, no schema markup. branded search. So you should be optimizing for your name. And there’s lots of different ways to do that. But you should be thinking, How do I get more people to search for me in the first place? Okay. You should be ranking for your name. If you’re not, then that’s a whole other issue, then your SEO is probably not very good at all. But with branded search, what you need to be doing is thinking about how do I get people to search in the first place, and that is not really going to happen? On Google that’s going to happen in other channels, other platforms, other mediums but it has a massive impact and you’re spot on branded search, Google, they want to promote people that are already promotable, you know, they’re already getting some sort of online visibility. So social channels are a great way to do that. YouTube is a great way to do that. There’s, you know, podcasting is a great way to do that. It is important. So I’m glad that you asked. But again, a lot of that is not going to be as SEO related as you might think.

 

Joe Casanova 

Yeah, and maybe a little PR doesn’t hurt, right?

 

Ophir Gadot 

Competitors campaign, search campaigns, there’s many ways to boost search traffic. I mean, search traffic, I’m just thinking that from my experience, again, I figured search was the number one indication of brand growth on Google, as well as rankings. Once brand searches volume went up. Our rankings went up as well.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yep. So the idea then, how do you get your brand search to go up? That’s a great strategy.

 

Joe Casanova 

And for that, you’ll save that for next week. So Jon, of course, Jon Bennion over on Discord. You guys show some love. I mean, and I am actually I’ve been getting an email from you. And I’ve been seeing that you have a newsletter, I believe, is that correct? I’m, yeah, I’m getting it.

 

Jon Bennion 

Yeah, my marketing team probably does have one. Look, I’m actually, you’ll notice the theme about me. I like to work with agencies, I like to help them grow. I’m just about to end my tenure here at online marketing gurus and and, you know, for the first time I’m going to grow my own agency. Okay, so soon it’s going to be John with all the advertising. I’ve done this for a bunch of people in the past and I’m excited to do it for myself. You’ll notice a trend: I like startups, I like growth. You know the beginning parts of building an agency I think are some of the most exciting, so look, please reach out to me on Discord and then please do not be disappointed when I don’t get back to you today. I am at Disneyworld with my family. I stepped out to take this call. But I will probably be tied up for the rest of the day. So do expect to hear from me. You know, tomorrow. But thanks so much for having me. I love this community. You guys are fantastic. I appreciate the questions. Appreciate you having me on looking forward to engaging with everybody more in the future.

 

Ophir Gadot 

Thank you so much Jon.

 

Joe Casanova 

Thank you so much Jon. Enjoy Disney World, you and your family. Take care. You have a great weekend. And for the rest of you guys that have been part of this Feature Friday Fireside session, I cannot emphasize. Thank you guys for taking time out of your day asking questions. Great questions. Hope you guys took some gems as I can see from the chat. You guys are very excited about it. Lots of wisdom. Hopefully we can get John back in here so we could geek out some more about schema markup so we can hear about the future plans for all in advertising and Ophir what a session, huh?

 

Ophir Gadot 

Beautiful session and Jon can’t wait to keep on working with you. Like so many insights, I already learned a lot.

 

Jon Bennion 

Thank you. I feel the same about you guys. Really appreciate it. Alright, so take care now.

 

Joe Casanova 

Everybody else to take care. We will be in discord of course kicking it discord doesn’t close the stream. So that being said, make sure to show some love in discord to Jon. Tag him Jon Bennion if you love this session. And if you guys have any additional questions, please. If you’re going to ask him questions, do it in a public channel so that the others can benefit from those answers in that conversation. But that being said, absolute pleasure being here hosting this wonderful feature Friday. We’re back again Monday for a week kickoff. So all of you have a great week and weekend and take care. Cheers, everybody.