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From Pandemic Hit to Growing Family Furniture Business: Charles Floate Shares SEO Tips & Strategies

By Colin Linnett |

Today's guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast is Charles Floate, an SEO expert who has been in and around the SEO space for 14 years.

The conversation starts with Charles talking about how the last couple of years have been for him during the pandemic and how he has pivoted his time to focus on a family eCommerce business that sells furniture.

Charles talks about the importance of treating your website as a real business and provides valuable insights into the strategies used to get a website back on track and thriving again.

The talk then moves nicely into how he is currently spending his time with SEO and websites. The pandemic caused his websites in the travel space to take a significant earnings drop due to the restrictions on travel, and Charles shares the thought processes and earnings drop regarding these sites.

With this, the chat evolves into the strategies that he uses today to grow, monetize and sell websites. In addition, the conversation also focuses on the strategies he uses to maximize the value of a website.

The interview comes to a close with Charles predicting how he thinks Google will progress with the subsequent algorithm updates and shares which huge website had its home page de-indexed due to a recent Google update.

Other things discussed during the interview include:

There are plenty of value nuggets in this episode, so like always, it is recommended to take notes — enjoy!

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST:

Watch the full interview:

 

Read the full transcription:

Jared: My name is Jared Baufman, and today we have Charles float with us, Charles. Welcome.

Charles: Hey good to be here.

Jared: Thanks for coming on board. I know we're both recording here at a different far reaches of the day, so glad we were able to make the schedules work and we're both going to be able to make this happen.

Charles: Yeah, I'm glad that we can now we've got the technology allows us travel. The opposite ends of the world still still allows the podcast to happen.

Jared: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. If either of us want to do this during the middle of our day, the other one would need to be in bed to make it happen. So,

Charles: yeah.

Jared: Well, so I mean, so many things that we can, we can discuss today.

You're a veteran of the SEO space now for quite a while. Why don't you start by giving us some background and then we'll dive into a bunch of the topics we haven't yet.

Charles: Yeah, for sure. So I've been doing SEO for 14 years now. I think it is, which is, you know, literally half my life at this point, which is scary to say, but yeah, I've so I've been through the industry and I've kind of failed.

Like I've been through the most turbulent time in SEO. Oh, you know, the exhibitor penguin, Panda, all those major algorithms. And then the changes in P in the last few years and stuff, it's been a very hectic time, but I feel like I've been able to run so many tests and run so many experiments and things that I've been able to get quality data to the point where I felt comfortable with any changes that you will make to the next, at least five to 10 years and feel comfortable that I've got the experience now and build handle it.

So I feel like it's the best time to make money there. So industry has grown so much over the last 10, 20 years is now worth 80 something billion dollars. And I do feel like you're quite lucky to be a part of the growth that it's seen over the last 10, 20 years. Do you

think that Google cause you talk about referencing all way back to Panda penguin and then, you know, the last couple of years and stuff, I think it's safe to say.

The number of, you know, Google updates that are happening are more frequent, the changes to the algorithm, more frequent now than ever before. What I mean, what do you think for someone who hasn't been in this industry for quite a while? What are the biggest changes that have been happening over the last decade or so in terms of the way things are working with Google now?

Yeah, so I would definitely say the quantity of, of our updates has been. Just three debrief recently in the last two years, especially I felt like they'd been going actually hammered. You can't really go a week without seeing some kind of change and update in the argument in the algorithm that being said, I said, quantity for a reason.

I don't necessarily think the quality of the are even changes are as impactful as they have been in the past. Things like the medic update, the page, that first payment, when second role in penguin, the ponder update, all of those things were, in my opinion, even more impactful in that singular update then whole months or in tight quarters have been in the updates they've been rolling up recently.

So most new Axios in my opinion, will struggle much shift from the amount of information overload that's out there. The conflicting opinions that are out there as well as just the sheer number. It can seem scary, but I'll tell you for a fact that it's not as scary as some of the argument dates that have been dropped over.

Yeah, the old ones, the old ones are different than the new ones. That's what I mean, it feels like, I mean, we're recording this around the start of 20, 22 and it certainly feels like they ended 20, 21 with just this, you know, rolling episode of updates. And then we had the summer of 2021. It was like you said, just the quantity of updates with.

Yeah, it was crazy, especially towards the end of the year. Like you said, I think we have four court dates in quarter four of 2021, which is unprecedented, literally in the history of SEO. I've been following updates like that for 14 years at this point. And the quantity is just unfathomable in the last year

I run a marketing agency and one of our clients that we're doing SEO on was wondering about how their website was doing through the update in December, because they were definitely getting some, a bunch of turbulence and I kept having to go back to them and say, we can't really the dust hasn't settled yet.

The updates still happening and it's still happening and still happening. It just went on and on. Yeah. So.

A ton of clients. Oh, sorry. It's an agency. Folks had a real struggle due to the November court date because Google decided to roll it out three days before black Friday, which is awful for most clients.

I mean, if you get affected by that three days before the beer shopping period in the year, that could be a death sentence. Especially after the pandemic, it will be the effects on business and retail and stuff. That's happened. Just putting another ball in the business owner's court to try and deal with is not the most fun things to do.

Jared: We can do an entire episode on just that. Let me tell ya, Hey, I understand that. Well, good. Let's talk about what you're working on right now. What are you doing in terms of your own SEO and where are you spending your time? What type of projects are you working

Charles: on? Yeah. So the majority of my time in, so I've kind of gone away from SEO, if anything, which sounds weird for the last kind of two or three years, generally, when the pandemic happened at the end of 2020, my family business was hit quite hard because we were dealing with the pandemic and then Brexit, and just a bit of a backstory.

We manufacture furniture in the UK. So we actually have two factories, one in Wales and one in England and we manufacture furniture, handmade furniture, and we ship it across Asia and Europe and to Mexico as well. But the problem is. We had obviously is Brexit just came in and kind of took out a lot of our European clients because we were no longer competitive with the market.

And then the pandemic happened and people just stopped spending money. And a lot of our customers stopped spending money with us. So I had to kind of reanalyze my focus. I also kind of noted that the SEO space took quite a big hit from the pandemic and especially a lot of my affiliate websites, unfortunately, in the travel space.

So they went from, you know, five figure earnings to earning $5 a month. Like it was horrible, but it was, you know, it's the life lesson that you have to kind of deal with. And it's an eventuality I kind of had to deal with as well. And I actually noted as well that there was an opportunity that you could deal with a lot of problems that you didn't have to previously.

So that's why it allowed me to go into our family business. And I started automating a lot of the processes, making a lot of the machinery, able to be operated remotely, which a lot of our competitors. So we ended up coming out of the pandemic a lot bigger than we were prior to it. And a lot of that is just down to the technology, technological aspect and dealing with lockdowns.

We never had to shut down the factory because in the lockdown we could operate remotely and all of that stuff. And so I felt like in the last, in the last couple of years, it's been a lot of challenges, but it's been once you've overcome the challenges it's actually put at the business and my business in a better position than it was previously.

And it's allowed me to kind of influence other people around me as also do similar things. So a lot of things. Needed, in my opinion, this kick up the ass to diversify. And it kind of, if, if anything, it helped me more than ever do that and it forced me to do it. So in the last few years, I really just spent my time working on the family business, not really doing the SEO side, and then just diversifying all of my affiliate sites.

You know, I sold quite a lot of flip projects that had just kind of got killed off. And then I reinvested into diving, into diversify my niches, making sure that I covered all my bases and stuff. And then I also made it managed to diversify into different countries as well. So previously I was just doing a lot of English language SEO.

I had like a few foreign websites now I've got like a twenty-five foreign language sites and stuff. So it's pretty interesting time. And I feel like it's been a pretty good time as well. Overall, maybe not so personally, but financially business wise, it's been a great.

Jared: It's funny because so many people will talk about treating your online business, whatever it is.

If it's an affiliate website, if it's a SAS business, if it's a bunch of e-commerce skews or even some people, you know, doing FBA, treating it like a real business, right? Like it's not like this business that we just operate online, but actually treat it like a real business. And, you know, I mean, w what did you learn?

You something, you got a crash course in e-commerce by running or diving back into your family business and having to actually get into the details of automating a bunch of processes and whatnot that those are real business steps, not just online steps. I'm curious. You know what your takeaways were from some of that deep dive in.

Charles: Yeah. So the number one takeaway is don't take away is the lack of technological ability that the general population has is quite amazing because when I first went in, you know, I was of the mindset and that it was probably cheaper to me that, oh, you know, everybody's going to be able to turn the computer on.

And that turns out not to be the case. You know, some people needed help finding the power button for their laptop that we'd give, gave them and things like that. So it was. Challenge converting, you know, normal kind of factory staff and factory employees and things into this technological thing, putting an iPad in their hands to stock management, putting a remote software online and making sure that they can operate it from the home computer.

All that kind of stuff is the hardest part of it is the training side, in my opinion. Anyway, that was a big wake up Kuhn into kind of not, I don't want to say dumbing down because that's very bad, but like making your training and making your advice more simplistic. That helped me a lot with not just the factory side, but also the SEO side.

When I have somebody coming to me that is a general beginner in SEO. I feel now I actually have a better understanding and a better ability to teach them than I did before. Just because I have that ability is not a simplify it and make it a better explanation. The other kind of takeaways that I had are Amazon are not as amazing as everybody makes it out to be.

We supply Amazon with quite a lot of stock. And there are pain in the ass to deal with. Wayfair are awesome. On the other hand, they're amazing. They have an awesome tech team and an awesome backend system and things, and they are going to beat Amazon and the home space 100%. I have confidence in that and yeah, so I feel like a lot of the, a lot of these big corporations in their companies and stuff, when you actually get to deal with them quite, quite messed up in size and don't have nearly as much lean and efficiency as people make out to be

Jared: So it brings up an interesting question that maybe I'll throw your way because a lot of people spend time focusing on SEO, building websites, through SEO, driving traffic, through SEO, monetizing through affiliate ads, these types of channels, maybe private affiliates, Amazon, you mentioned.

There's also a lot of people that go down the FBA route right fulfilled by Amazon. And they work on, you know, building a product, maybe sourcing it through, through Asia, through different areas, white labeling it. I could go on and on. I don't want to say the standard opposition, because certainly you can combine both, but it does seem like most people start and kind of end up down one path or the other, you sound like you have your hands and feet involved in many ways, in both, any advice for people thinking or just thinking about which way to go or for people trying to combine both in our business right now.

Charles: Yeah. So FBA is a great model and in our business, we've actually transcended FBA now because we're an Amazon original supplier. So we don't even do FBA. We actually supply Amazon originals directly now. So it's, that's a whole different ball game as well, because instead of doing orders three Amazon's FBA and putting an API into our stock system things, we now just got a bulk set number of orders that we have to send to Amazon's warehouse itself.

So. The original start of FBA was quite difficult because there's quite a lot of challenges that come with it. And just kind of, there's lots of hoops that you have to jump through and all these fees that Amazon are trying to get out of the, you know, even just a lot of people don't know that if you want to stock in their warehouse, they charge you to hold their stock and things.

So all of these little, extra stuff and extra fees can be quite, quite hard to pull the profit out of your product. So it's, I always tell people if you can sell it yourself because you're going to save all of those middleman fees are going to be so much better off than you are on any of the platforms.

The only thing is those platforms got crazy reach and trust. You know, the conversion rates on Amazon and on Wayfair and things like that are going to be a hell of a lot higher than your own website is probably ever going to be just because of the psychology and the branding and trust that users have got in the, in those systems.

I'm also coming from the other side where I've done affiliate and sites, like you said, as well, don't do Amazon affiliate. I strongly recommend against that. They sound as well. Like I'm paying an Amazon, but they are a good company. They are a good company to work with. They just have a lot of issues and they are.

Maximize in the gods, if you will. And they will juice every kind of last cent allergy, and that's probably why they're being successful. Right. But I think that in the end, you want to try and maximize your affiliate commissions in your returns and that kind of things as well. And the percentages that you get from Amazon are just nowhere near the level that you'll get from other people.

Even if the conversion rates match up a 3%, a 3% commission versus a 15% commission isn't even in the same league. So even if you get to two times, three times conversion rate, you're still better off sending them to that higher commission author. And that has been the kind of instinct that we've had over the last couple of years is to just move every seller off of Amazon.

So any Amazon sites we had got, we either sold or contacted the suppliers directly and tried to get some kind of direct affiliate offer through them because you just got a life set of crazy difference in the commission rates that you would get directly with suppliers rather than farmers in the.

Jared: Let's transition and talk about, you know, your sites and you talked about having this I'm being dramatic, but this Exodus of getting rid of sites from spaces previous to the pandemic and kind of diversifying your portfolio.

So it sounds like you were, you're selling a lot of sites in the you're, either buying or starting a bunch of new sites over the last couple of years. Is that pretty accurate?

Charles: I've been selling a lot of sites, um, or I've been like flipping them in straight into other investments. But I haven't really started many new sites over 2021.

I think I've started like four or five. I started to for the family business as well. That's still a

Jared: good number. You know what I mean? Maybe not in comparison to years past for you, but that's still a good number.

Charles: Yeah, exactly. Like seven sites is not that bad. Right. People are like, oh, what only did one thing?

Yeah. Yeah.

Jared: I started one the last couple of years. All right. You're doing just fine.

Charles: Yeah. It's pretty, it's just bad for my team. Should I say like, I should have given them more meat to go after and things like that. But that's another thing, right? That people don't realize is when you scale to a point, you, you, the, the highest that you make, even in the affiliate space, they're already important because if they're going to be with you, then you want them to be with you for the long run, and you want them to improve over time and you want them to have all these other things as well.

So that's been a massive part is just giving my team goals. I feel like instead of starting new projects, which I was probably bad for in the years gone by, you know, just getting them, we're going to do this new website and the next week I'm bored of that. Let's do another spot. So that was very much my mentality for a long time.

But yeah, I feel like coming in and giving them all these goals and making them goal-oriented around certain websites and then giving them a return on that, on them hitting that goal. Because obviously if I'm making more money than my teams would making more money as well. So. Adding that in more than doing the new websites has been a dramatic shift in the success rate of my sites.

Like I said, though, in terms of transitioning sites as well, I really hated Amazon. So all of my VC partners, I just said straight up, sorry. All of my VC, all of my JV partners. Okay. I'm sorry. I just. I'm not doing it anymore. We're going to sell, or you can buy me out or we'll just completely change Amazon as a platform because we, number one got banned off Amazon a few years ago and they held over six figures of money and never paid us out.

And then that was for a terms of policy update that. That we didn't, they didn't email or note finally affiliates that they changed the policy and we broke it the next day and they bundled like three days later. So if within a four days of them changing the policy, which they never dated anybody about or notified affiliates by email or anything, we were suddenly in violation and just got, you know, over a hundred thousand dollars stolen.

Basically

Jared: they keep all the money that you have

Charles: paid down month payout or something. It depends on what tier you are or something can always move stuff. But then, and also with Amazon, their affiliate customer service is non-existent like, you don't have an affiliate manager, you don't have an affiliate phone number.

You don't have anything. So it's just, you know, good luck of getting a reply to an email and hope that they ever pay you. What are you going to think they did for us? So that's why we kind of got rid of them. And then

Jared: when it comes to flipping sites, What have you learned along the way? I mean, website flipping is a much talked about topic here on this podcast.

I know on a bunch of other, you know, a podcast and whatnot, you know, what types of things are you learning in flipping sites on and moving on from projects and most notably, I think one question I have that's a little bit more detailed is how do you, how do you know when it's time to move on from a project?

You know, I mean, you talked about Amazon and diversifying out of Amazon, but are there any other reasons to move on from a site? Even if it's something that a year ago you were really excited about or something.

Charles: So the number one reason. For me to move out of site is I feel like I maximized this site in terms of what I can do for it.

So the, in, when I'm actually website flipping, and I don't often do the flip side, so I don't go and buy a site from somebody else and then sell it just because in general, I prefer to have the whole troll over the entire process. I've bought sites before, and I haven't done this tiny little bit of due diligence, and that was the bit that screwed me, you know?

So it's just stuff like that, where I'd rather have the whole control over the project. And it allows me to control the branding control the start of it, the whole link campaign, the content there's nothing. If it goes wrong, it's on me. Right. There's nothing that I can't do about it to change along the way.

And there's lessons a lot less costly when you're doing site from scratch. Then if you go and buy a hundred cartoons day site, right? So it's one of those, but in terms of the actual flipping, the best way I did see it was just maximizing the value add. So if you see a website as a very good example, because I'm in the travel niche, I have Airbnb affiliate, right?

There's two programs in Airbnb, there's Airbnb partner program and Airbnb affiliate. Maybe affiliate because you have to have, you're supposed to have a minimum of a million visits a month to your travel websites, right. To get on Airbnb affiliate. Otherwise you just be an ABB partner program, which doesn't give you much credit to Airbnb and stuff like that.

Um, whereas if you have affiliate and you get a 60% plus conversion rate on clicks, 60% plus, which is just mental. Right. Um, and yeah, and the, you get a 50% of that fee. So the fees are very expensive and it's a 30 day cookie. So if you get super lucky and somebody booked five trips, once off the one click that they've done it through you, you get all of them.

Right. So it's, so I love the time. What I'm going to do is I'll go find travel blogs that are doing very well, but they don't meet the requirements to get an Airbnb. So I, whereas I do, and I can just go and add a new website with a click of a button where I get it approved quite easily through my affiliate manager and things.

And then I can go and. I put it on put, having be affiliate on it. And it's suddenly five X is the revenue of the side. Right? So it's one of those is the only real way where I see where I can instantly add value is the only way that I'm really buying websites at the moment. The other side is that on the, if you're very good at things like CRO, if you're very good at CRM, if you're very good at email list management, if you're very good at design changes, if you know that you have hit the SEO nail on the head with this people like Rick Lomax or Marie Haynes, who are very good at penalty removals, if you can find a site that is penalized and you can, you know, for a fact, you can remove that penalty.

Obviously then that's going to be pennies on the dollar for a domain that could be worth a hell of a lot more in a year's time. So any times where you know that you can value out, that's when I would go all in and try and get it. But otherwise I'm very skeptical of buying websites just because I like the control and I have been.

Previously or not doing a 100% due diligence or just getting lied to, and the marketplace is not doing the right job. And then it's a tough job for the marketplace is like, you know, flicker and stuff for that, for them, there's no due diligence on flipper that as an example, if there was, you know, then it's very hard for them to do it in the first place, because you've got to have a CRO expert, SEO expert, a PPC expert, a branding guide, and they've all got to do their due diligence report.

And realistically, that's not going to happen. You're going to have one guy that it's their job to look for things. All right. So I just have this lack of trust and ability to go and buy websites and stuff at the moment for myself anyway. So I prefer to do the starting fresh from scratch method.

Jared: It's a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, you know, I mean, it's there, but how affordable is it for some, for a brokerage maybe to pay for someone to dig and dig and dig and well, you put out a tweet recently.

I think that talked about, yeah, I think it was a survey. You asked people, but in the end you were sharing that you build primarily on exclusively on fresh domains these days. On aged domains and, you know, drop domains and so on and so forth. I feel like a lot of the conversation nowadays certainly is about, Hey, let's skip the sandbox.

Let's build an aged domain. Let's go buy an aged domain. Once it runs between an aged domain and an expired domain, a dropped and all that, you're focusing on fresh domains. Why is that? And what's the thought process before.

Charles: Yeah. So I actually, this whole thought of the sandbox is actually my reasoning behind it.

That there's a sandbox with age domains and especially with expired domains, I'm not a fan of in general, just because that so hit or miss, like the success rate. When we run tests on the expired domains, the success rate of actually getting the juice from the domain previously was like 10 or 12% really of domain.

So yeah, literally it was 10 or 12% of domains were actually passing juice. And when you say expired, it's just previous links

Jared: just drop for even just a day. Does that, would that count

Charles: for any level of expiration? Is it's the it's basically the day created date gets when that changes. Right. So the date created date changes that's when it's classes expired again.

So, and any expired domain seems. A different kind of treatment. The one thing I will say is when you're dealing with foreign SEO or, you know, it's national SEO, non-English language stuff, they can be a lot of ways to use PBMs, to use a site that you just kind of spam content, things like that, but obviously foreign SEO and it's national.

So it's a whole different ball game anyway. But you can't use smart amaze that I just dislike them for any English language, SEO tool, age domains. On the other hand, have this repurposing sandbox a lot of the time. So you can get them where about 5% of the time or so it won't have it, but 95% of the time, you're going to be running into a repurposing sandbox, which is basically when you take the domain, even if it was previously.

Okay. A domain that was, you know, on the topic that you're doing now, just because you've slightly changed the keywords that it was previously ranking for means you're going to have to deal with this repurposing sandbox, which basically means for the first, I would say one to nine months, it's going to be really slow indexing.

It's going to take a while for the pages. Your index is going to take a while for Google to analyze cruel and update the relevance of the pages or that kind of stuff. There are ways around it, but they're expensive. You know, it's not that cheap to go and do all that extra stuff on top. Whereas if you just build off a FRAX domain from scratch, there's basically it's a clean slate.

You don't have any reason for Google to go after you or treat you any differently. Mean you can do things from scratch. Which they hadn't done on the Asia mains. So there's lots of trust, signal based tactics and things that you can use to get your authority and get your trust signals and your trust within Google.

A lot higher from day one straightaway. And have that in Google from the entirety of your website, like your trusts and authenticates and verifies that the authenticity of your website, basically. Yeah, a

Jared: lot of what you're trying to do with an agent domain is trying to convince them that what you're doing now is more relevant.

And so you're talking about how with the fresh salmon, you don't have to go through all that convincing process and Google, let me hit you with a couple of specific scenarios then with the, with these types of things. So one another, I'll say common. I don't know. Another tactic that's talked about is build your site on a new, fresh domain while you have the age domain, and then move that content over after several months or after six months or something.

And what do you think about that? Is that going to help skip that sandbox problem? Or is that just as.

Charles: Yeah. So I've actually seen people do it both ways, right? So they, so they'll do it from the age domain. And then there'll be like, as people's side, move in search console to a free domain and try and get all of the agent authority and stuff.

That way I've seen it the other way as well, where they do it, a fresh domain and try and move it to an aged domain to, to kind of re to get past the Repubs in sandbox. So that is. There's two ways. I just, again, I feel like it's all of these extra things or giving yourself when you don't really need to.

Right? Like you can, if you start from scratch and you've got everything on point and it's, every link is good and every content piece is good and there's no problems at all across the campaign, then I don't see why you would give yourself extra headaches. I know a lot of people are like, oh, well, because I want it faster.

Right. I need it now. I need it now. But I, you know, I can rank sites in six months of fester and in three months, if it's a low competition first site and I might potentially be in a sandbox for three months on an HMO. So it's in my opinion, a better and a more efficient and cost effective trade just to go with the one singular domain.

And it's always a gamble when you're doing site moves and three ones and all this stuff where there might be that 1% chance. Deals Cruz just completely mess it up and they don't pass juice and they don't do stuff like that. And it does happen. And even recently, Google has been dealing, especially last year.

I feel like they've dealt with so many issues, especially around indexing and things that, that I don't feel that it's necessary to add on more problems for them to potentially have with your indexing. Right. So just give them what they want, give them what they need from day one. And you shouldn't really have a problem.

So what about



Jared: if you have a site right now that's established and you see a site. And you have, you're able to get access to a domain, whether it's an aged domain, expired domain, let's assume it doesn't have content that you're not buying an actual website. Let's take your travel site for it. As an example, let's take one of your big travel sites and you have an opportunity to go buy an aged domain in the travel space and just straight 3 0 1, it to either your website or you rebuild some of the old links or you redirect it maybe to just one of your categories.

What about that as a strategy for using age domains? Not actually building on them, but just straight 3 0 1 and try to capture some of that power.

Charles: So it does work that, you know, three wanting domains to specific pages does work. I just, I, I like this, not really his method, but Brian Stewart kind of popularized it where you basically.

Buying domains and Asia, amazing things. You buy that the page level. So you basically go and buy a piece of content that you potentially wanted already from a blog that is kind of decaying or doesn't really utilize the piece very well. Or the authority, like you said, if you have a high authority domain, this is where it really comes into clutch is you go and buy a piece of content that is amazing off of a da to blog that can't rank for the piece of content you throw on the page and put the content on your page and suddenly you're number three for the post.

That was number 23 on the old domain. Right? So that's a very good one where you're doing outreach to bloggers that have high-end content that you want about a piece of, about piece of content that you're going to make anyone potentially has links and how social shares and has all that other stuff as well, which can help your site even more.

So I liked that method more than I like buying a domain and just sticking it straight up the site, just because there's, again, there's other issues that can arise into, and it's always a gamble. That's the problem. I am, despite me being a bit of a gambler in terms of personality and stuff, I'm quite risk averse in terms of SEO, just because I, I, I try to make sure that Google can't catch up to me because I'm also kind of paranoid, right?

Because I say all this stuff online and it's kind of maybe potentially worthwhile considering Google have come after me twice at this point. And like D index, multiple domains and like bad my analytics account, my tablets and my blog is like, it's, it's insane. Yeah. It's, it's crazy. So it's stuff like that is where I'm.

I feel like the paranoia is slightly justified. And also I run into Gary Ellis. Who's like the, a Google engineer. And he was like, who are you again? Show me your Twitter handle at this conference in Bali of all places. And I showed him and he goes, oh yeah, I know who you are. I was like, dammit,

Jared: all the places you

Charles: don't want.

Exactly. And I've just got the, like the head Google engineer telling me about this. I was like, okay, well, we'll leave it there then. And yeah. And so I, I do feel like my paranoia genuinely kind of allowed to the point where like a lot of the time when I'm doing work on my sites and stuff, even from my own laptop, I would like connect to a VPN.

Jared: I was about to say, well, you must be a pro and VPN. We can do a whole podcast on VPN. It sounds like

Charles: RDPs and things are my go-to right now for me.

Jared: Well, I think it's also to be fair because you're skilled enough to not need maybe some of these crutches, right? Like, I, I don't think I need you domain necessary as a crutch.

It's an, it's a way to get an advantage or it's a way to shorten the process. I mean, you talked about indexing challenges, but you clearly are able to easily do it in a fairly quick amount of time because your expertise, I think a lot of. Are not, you know, don't have the same level of chops. Don't have 14 years of experience.

And so it offers a shortcut, but it offers risks along with.

Charles: Yeah. And like, I'm not even going to say it's on me. Right? Like, I wouldn't say a lot of that. A lot of it is down to the fact that I built a team over the last 14 years where I have a designer, that's got like masters in 3d art design that can do stuff like that, you know, and beyond my design abilities and, you know, I'd get a cheap picture of Google images and he makes me the Mona Lisa, like it's insane.

So building an expert level team around me is where I feel I've got an edge over some people, but just because I, even if I copied it out myself, I can get it done within an hour or two hours, three hours, you know, we can put sites live and put domains live within minutes and you know, if I really need to.

So I feel like a lot of it is down to who you hire, making sure that it's the best, highest possible for the job because I'm making. You're trying to get them to stick with you for five, 10 years. I've been able to do, and they've grown so much over that time as well, to the point where I can tell them a message on WhatsApp for 30 in 30 seconds, and they'll build me an affiliate website.

Like it's crazy, right? So

Jared: our F team, can we tie this isn't on our agenda, but can we talk about, you know, strategies for getting sites ranking faster in terms of, especially these brand new websites that you're, you know, kind of getting out of the sandbox a lot quicker than most, or, and then there's all these indexing issues right now that people are having, especially with fresh sites, with new sites, getting Google to crawl it and actually index it.

I think we've all gone into Google search console at some point last year and seen the fail faded discovered, but not indexed a message. I mean, what are your tips for getting sites out of the sandbox quicker for getting fresh sites to start ranking and making money quicker?

Charles: Yeah, so. It's all about trust signals.

Basically trust signals are baked into deals, are rhythm. That basically are, this is a extremely simplified analogy of how it works, but imagine a checklist of things to basically authenticate the validity of a person, you know, that date of birth, their address, who they were, their parents or this, and the thing, the exact same goes for a website with Google.

So Google is looking to make sure our website that is especially new can be trustworthy and is validated and is authenticated as a real entity and is a real business and a real company. So having things like an EBV SSL certificate, where you actually have to link a physical business entity to an LLC or an LTD in the UK to the website and to the SSL certificate.

Well, you have things like Wikipedia links, even though they're no follow and no follow became a hint they're active and they still potentially Deepak Jews, they do 100% pass a trust signal because it's passing off topical trust around a piece to your website or to your page having citations and a physical address and reviews from actual customers on websites and things like that.

They, again, they all could be manipulated because that's what I do all day long. But these are the things that Google checks beforehand that if a website is real or not, and a lot of the time people are getting in their sandbox because they're not doing all of the actual business building stuff that every local business or every physical business does do in the first month for the first three months of building a website.

So just checking all of those boxes and potentially checking any boxes that might be a trusting all is what I try to do just to get sites working as fast as possible. And then even adding in a little extra bits, like a lot of people think that press releases are really. Idea, but you can get a press release on like associated press, which gets dripped around the Yahoo news and Yahoo finance and all these massive websites and things.

And you can get them for like $300, $400. If you can stick your physical address, if you can embed your Google maps thing onto that press release, which you can do. And that's another way to get your trust signal boost around because it's, again, validating the authenticity of the address and there's this whole thing around.

Which is your, which is from local SEO, but I feel like it's actually should be more of a general SEO thing because it's a very good analogy for the consistency of your business and the consistency of your authenticity. Google, want your phone number, your address, and your information to be all of your business name, to all be the exact same everywhere every time, right?

If there's any very anti, it tends to discount that part of the contribution. So if your sortation has the wrong phone number or a different phone number, it tends to disqualify the entire thing from actually effecting and helping a business. Whereas if it's all consistent, then that's a more positive sign, but that Google's got the right knack for information, because bear in mind, Google trying to authenticate things.

It can never actually authenticate. It's a machine trying to understand the various. Without seeing the real world. So, so you can, 100% do what I do, which has been very successful, which is just manipulate anything that Google is trying to see from the real world. And to the point where, you know, a lot of people say that the reviews on other websites, so non Google reviews, right?

Non GMP reviews, don't affect your SEO. But we do them anyway, because it might be an extra trust signal and it's definitely a user signal so that they are going to spend more time on the website. They spend more times, but again, it's just validating your authenticity over and over again in every possible place and location that you can.

That's where you will get a new domain off the ground very quickly.

Jared: If you already have a domain and you're

Charles: in year two N no, no tool. So it, SEO is always pragmatic. Um, so, and it's always kind of, if you can do it, you can do it. And there's always something to do. That's what I say. There's not many instances where I'm like, look, mate, your website's fucked, right?

Like there's nothing she can do to get this off the ground. There's not many of those cases. There's some cases where I'll say, look, you're better off changing and starting from scratch because you've messed up so many times along the way. But in general, there's so many different aspects of SEO and there's so many different ways to change things or alter the situation that you're currently in.

That there's almost, you know, a 98%, 99% time or chance that there's a way you're going to improve it. So don't always, don't just completely give up from projects because most of the time there's going to be something that you can do to get around it. Even if you've been penalized, there's tons of there's tons and tons of cases of affiliate websites, getting penalized, and then making a massive jump back after they've had the penalty.

Jared: And are those going back to trust signals? Are they something that can help you, you know, grow a website a year or two and it stagnated can help you recover from penalties? Or is it more just on the front end for six months, nine months when

Charles: you're building a site, it's all kind of levels and it will contribute to the success over time.

And the more trust signals you. The more dodgy stuff you can generally get away with. Right? So if you have got a few bad links that you build over time, and even if you've disavowed them and the disbarred hasn't worked, it's not picking them up. Sometimes it doesn't, then those trucks will offset that. So that's a lot of the time it's kind of a protective.

Around your website as well, where you're trying to stick a pin through a balloon, but the balloons made of led. Right. So you've made sure and covered every kind of surface aspect of it. So it's, it's a, it's kind of a multi tier aspects where I want it from day one, because it's going to mean I get by ranked quicker.

I want to indict too, because it means I'm going to break more consistently. I don't want to in day three, because it's, it's going to protect me versus future idiot, myself, doing some cheaper check the website. Right. Because a lot of the time, sometimes it's just up one mess up. Right. And I've had it before where I've ordered leaps off a vendor or, you know, I've done stuff like that.

And they've completely messed up the order to the point where I've had a site penalized because of vendor before, has I bought a PBN links off the vendor? And I won't mention names even though I really want to. Um, and they've put for some reason, right? I sent them a sheet in Excel with. I think there's like 25 different euros and the different architects.

And so they use 25 different URLs. They repeated the same text from the number one line on every leg to my website. So I'm like, oh my God. And obviously not two days, three days later, I got that penalty email. And I was like, oh crap. Yeah. So stuff like that can happen. Right. Um, I'm putting in that extra layer of shielding does help and it kind of offsets the chances that you're going to get.

Jared: I have clients sometimes ask me like, well, what, you know, SEO, it's this crazy weird run. We're talking with clients who don't really understand SEO at all. And you know, what is allowed, what is not allowed? What is the analogy I always give? Which it sounds very similar to what you're talking about. So that makes me feel better.

But you know, like when you first meet someone, you don't have much trust in them, right? Like you're not going to give him the keys to your car. You're not gonna let him drive you around. You're not going to let him in your necessarily, even in your home. Right. Obviously you compare that up against your best friend and, you know, you'd let them take your car for a month if they needed it.

And, you know, you'd let them move in if they had to. And, you know, the amount that, that Google trusts you is dependent upon a variety of factors. Just the same as every relationship we have is built on a variety of factors of trust.

Charles: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So it's it. You just got to tick the boxes and make you trust you even more.

And it, that, especially if you're on new website, you have to tick those boxes. Otherwise you're going to get some box or potentially not rang point of.

Jared: I feel like it's, you know, I mean, obviously out of the gate, so many people focus on producing a ton of content. They focus on, you know, when to start those backlink campaigns, where to put the backlinks.

And it's really good advice to think about some of the things you're saying, sharing. Obviously they work well, but obviously it's a little bit goes against the grain for what most people will talk about and focus their efforts on when I started this.

Charles: Yeah. And I think that I wouldn't, I don't want to call it again.

I feel like I'm just calling to be plan, but like in terms of the SEO space, I feel like a lot of the influences and the, I want to say keywords, but I don't want to say a lot of the influences, like say, um, over-complicate things. And I think it's potentially a part of their agenda because then they can sell you the secret sauce and stuff like that.

But it's not really, there's no secret sauce. Right? There's lots of things. Tips and tricks and stuff that do what, and if you can know them all and you can put them all together and stuff, then their work, but that's so much time and energy and costs. One thing goes down, your entire business goes down, right?

So make it just being consistent, diversifying and not over-complicating things, making it simpler, making it more simple in general has been in the bread and butter of my success. I feel in SEO, it's just not trying. And also a lot of the time as well, I have got attached websites talking about text to phone.

Whereas a lot of people don't realize they can set up a test blog. They don't need to be testing stuff on that $10,000 a month, Thomason backside. Right. There's people that have come to me at consultations. They're like, well, I dropped half of my revenue. I mean, not because I did this. So why did you feel the need to do that?

You know,

Jared: don't play on your adult play where you're making your money.

Charles: Exactly. Yeah. So, so set up the tests that are away from your bank, right? That's what I would always say, but don't, over-complicate things make it as simple as possible and that will also help inevitably your team and the people around you to make the whole process easier and better for them as well.

Jared: 80, 20, 80, 20, right? Yeah. Put, put 80% of your time to, or 20%. And I'm gonna mess it up, but yeah, you get 80% of the value from 20% of your efforts. And so focus your efforts on those areas. Every coach should learn my analogies before I start spouting them off on a podcast. Hey, while we move towards closing out, can you share maybe just, even if it's just rapid fire or if you want to deep dive one, one specific thing, but just tips to add value to a site, you know, clearly we've kind of danced around that in many different ways and touched on it many different ways already, but it's almost the, what haven't I asked you question like just rapid fire or deep dive, whatever you prefer, but tips to add value to an existing site that someone might have.

Charles: Yeah. So if you should always plan a site sale, you should never just be like, okay, I'm going to sell my site. You should always plan six months prior to selling the website, just because that's the industry standard for a timeframe of the profitability of the website. So some market place. We'll we'll do a 12 month due diligence timeframe, but the majority of them are six months to deliver the timeframe right now.

So it's basically the net profit. And then this happened the business expenses for the last six months. So that's when you want to that, that's when you want to plan, okay. The next six months, I need to make this website as lean as possible and as profitable as possible. So you want to be cutting out any shipping costs, any tool subscriptions, anything like that, that you're not needing for the website, maximize your profit.

So making sure that you're on the best commission program, making sure that you have all of the CRO done or. Stuff done previously is how you're going to get the maximum value at a, at the end when you actually sell it. And then in the timeframe before that, ideally you want to maximize the actual value of the website.

So you want to be making sure that you have an email list because you can oftentimes get upwards of a dollar per email for the, for having an email list, no website. If you're in the gambling space, you can get $5 per email. It's crazy. If you're doing a social pages, you can get money for their social profiles.

If you're getting Facebook pixels, you can get thousands of dollars for the audience data on the pixel data. There's all different parts of a website that are valued. But the number two points I think I'd make is number one, stop using BMDs and PMDs and things for your domains. Use a brandable domain, a brandable, a branded site, a nonspecific non niche specific site is worth two to three.

What a specific niche site is just because if your site is dog walks in manhattan.com, you can never to anything, but doc box in that goddamn area. So you want to make sure that you are branding to the maximum kind of niche and kind of the maximum generic NUS in your brand so that you can kind of inevitably cover anything that you might need to cover in the future and a brand

Jared: like a brand for that example of maybe like, maybe walk about.com or something, or, you know, something very brandable, but really not related to exactly what's happening specifically with what

Charles: your content is about.

So you want to make your, you can make it like. Related if it's a generically initiated thing. So, you know, if it's walking in the park or something, call it leaf, walk.com. You know what I mean? Something like that while you are covering all your bases within that niche. But even then I still like trying to just go with something generic.

If you can get a one word. And it's not actually a word it's just a brandable word kind of domain that is just completely generic. It makes walk, see.com. Exactly. Yeah. And like every

Jared: SAS company that is adding S Y on the end of some word

Charles: walks into IO, that's

Jared: exactly. or.co.

Charles: Yeah. So, so anything like that, where you're making sure that the domain is generic enough or is just, has the potential to cover any kind of point that you could do in the future.

That's the number one burning thing I feel. And a lot of site owners are like, well, why isn't my EMD worth a hundred thousand dollars when that one is well, because it's the EMD, that's why it's worth 11,000 and not hundred thousand dollars because the potential upside from an investment perspective is so much higher on the branded site than it is on the new site.

And then the second part is be pretty frugal and be pretty aware with your link building. So. PBN links. You have to disclose most of the time I tutor some marketplaces that get away with it. You have to disclose if you have got PBM links or not. And sites like empire flippers have spoken with me and they've spoken with like Matt diggity and people like that.

And they've hired us to help with the footprint analysis. So we've actually helped them improve their analysis in relation to a PBM. If you go and lie to them and say, no, my site doesn't have any PBMs and it's powered by PBM. You're not going to be a seller on their marketplace anymore. So stuff like that is a helpful from a investment angle, but also just be aware that it does affect your site in the long term.

And especially in terms of sales value, that if you're using certain link types, you will get a negative cost associated with the brand. But also it could be. It could there's. So there's so much potential harm in negative links right now that negative links and toxic links are just so much more negative than a positive link ever is that it's almost like a one to 10 or even sometimes a one to 100 scale, right?

You need like a hundred good links to offset. And the one toxic link that you built stupid at the site. And unfortunately, a lot of the league benders in the game are also. Toxic crap for $200 a link detergents always think it's mental and they are burning cloud sites. They're burning sites in general, and it can take 3, 4, 5, 6 months to recover from one toxic leak.

Even if you disavow it, even if you get it removed, it can still be, it can solve the ghost link effects, um, where it can negatively affect your site for months or even years onwards. So just be very careful, especially with new sites, especially with sites are going to, so with what links you're building, who you're buying them from doing all your due diligence, what kind of links they are.

That's my kind of second piece of advice in terms of making sure that you're going to be able to sell your site as best you can. Well,

Jared: I will tell you that was a, like drinking from a fire hose for the last 45 minutes or so we danced around a bunch, but I think, I think that it was one of those things where there were just so many good things that you were bringing up.

I mean, what an interesting couple of years you've had and just kind of recapping, but you, I mean, diving, you know, head headlong back into the family business and getting hit with so many problems with the pandemic on all your travel sites and, and yet coming through it all and, and changing up so many things.

I think I was really, it was really good interview. It was really good time to hear you kind of share some of the things that are working nowadays. We didn't get to talk about one of the big questions that I wanted to talk to you about, which is all these algorithm updates and some of your analysis on it.

Can you just give us as we go into 2220, 22 and beyond, and we'll close on this, what are, you know, what are the big things that site owners, you know, one big thing ciders need to do differently going forward because of some of these updates that have been coming out across the last couple of years,

Charles: Okay.

So I don't want to kind of toot my own horn, but I do feel like I've been pretty good at that kind of predicting how Google is going to be with algorithm updates. So when the November update caught when November court that came out, I did a whole video about it. And at the end of the video, I said, look, guys, there's probably going to be a December court date.

And I dropped that video. And then three days later, the seventh day, so, and a lot of Twitter and stuff, even Perry Swartz was tweeting that Googlers were saying, there's not going to be an interview on losing and stuff. So I kind of felt in my soul, that was going to be another kick in the bowl was before the end of the year.

So I just knew I could feel it coming. And this year I kind of feel the opposite where I thought we were going to slow down. And the fact that it's now, you know, Getting to the board of the middle of January and there's been no major update and it's a good sign, but there isn't going to be, I've really hectic.

Yeah. You know, if Google had just come out, swinging up the gates and dropped something like the 7th of January, I would be a bit more nervous about the rest of the year, but I feel like they're going to be a bit more relaxed and especially they had so many issues last year. And there's so many complaints to the point where I don't know if you know this, but Reddit's homepage got de-indexed.

I didn't know. So, so someone did a DMC take down of Reddit's homepage and it worked, they actually got de-indexed to the whole homepage. So they have some, they have big companies that, that was one example, but there was several other major problems. And I, and I think that it's a bit different if they did index some random affiliate SEO in comparison to.

You know, the CR right. At folding them up and be like, it's barely got a website back. So yeah. So things like that, kind of where I feel like Google is definitely going to slow down this year, but there might be some seriously effective updates. You really never know that's the issue around what they're going to drop.

However, I feel like if you are a site owner going into the new year, don't be disheartened by last year. I know that a lot of people last year were like, oh, I'm giving up on SEO. This is just too many updates, too much stress about my wife's complaining that I'm talking about updates at four o'clock in the morning and things like that.

So, so don't be disheartened by last year because this year is familiar to me game it's a new day and it's going to be in my opinion in a lot less hectic and a lot more, a lot more willing to basically. Jump into the, the good nature of things. Like I said, if you do everything I said on this podcast where you're just consistent, you do good stuff.

You try and make your trust signals. Even if you are like, I do weight, you manipulate it. I just feel like that's such a negative connotation of a word, even though it's exactly what I'm doing, but it works right. You just want to make sure that you are manipulating the right places and you're being correct about your behavior and things.

And you're not, over-complicating it, you're not being too aggressive. You can be aggressive or you want your content to be a bit more common links and things, and you should be able to get to go and get your trust signals built out. And you'll definitely have the actual art shield and stuff around your site and stuff.

So I definitely think that 2022 is going to be a lot better. Fast CEO's a lot more successes is going to be seen. Then lastly, it was

Jared: and upwards. Let's see. So a couple of things as we leave, I mean, where can people follow along? And I also, I wanted to highlight that you have a number of different, I feel like a lot of people who are experts in this space have a course or something like that.

You've got a bit of a different direction and just created kind of these micro topic eBooks. I know I've picked up a couple of them along the way, one on link-building. I picked up one of yours on it and local SEO. And so where can people follow along? Whether it's Twitter or YouTube, these different places, and then where can people get access to some of these eBooks that you have available?

Charles: Yeah. So the majority of my social presence is on Twitter and just act Charles under understory SEO. I deleted my Facebook several years ago now, and I've never looked back to be honest because it's the best thing probably for my time management and my mental health. Ever, uh, not having 50 plus people message me every day.

It's just amazing feeling to not have to deal with. So, and then in terms of the eBooks and stuff, I do have some video posting things, but I saw it as a bit of an opportunity during the pandemic. That all of these costs like a thousand dollars, 2,005,000, $10,000, if your own two machines, for example, and that's way too much for the SEO information that they're giving out.

Right? So, and also pandemic, there's all this massive online learning curve that happens and they need to learn cheaply. So I decided I'd just match out all the SEO information that's in my head, put it into an easily digestible format, whether that be eBooks for some stuff, video, for more explanations and things and more advanced things, and then just kind of drop it individually.

So, you know, the, the maximum cost I have not to be fed nowadays a thousand dollars up from like $300 originally. And it's nine hours of video of advanced SEO video content. And then the cheapest one is like $19, $17 something. And then I have tons of free eBooks as well. So even if you don't want to spend any money, it's just Charles float dot dumb rhodes.com and you can get access to all of the free and premium training for SEO.

There's some Twitter marketing stuff. Do a copyrighting stuff. I'll try and diversify as well in the ebook game as well. Yeah, of course

Jared: you wouldn't be following taking your own medicine otherwise. Right. Well, thanks for coming on and sharing. I mean, I feel like an hour flew by and we probably could do several more hours, but in the interest of time, we'll, we'll stop here, but thanks so much for coming on and thanks for everything you shared with us.

Well, yeah,

Charles: I appreciate you having me on and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did as well. Susie is also speaking to you and kind of just letting out my thoughts for the year is a great start to the 2022.

Jared: Perfect. Yeah, this will be a good, and this will be a good lead in for 2022 for everyone. And we'll do this again.

Thanks again.

Once again, today's show was sponsored by H refs and all in one SEO tool set. Hey, so if you're sick of your competitors, outranking you in search results and you wish that there was an easier way to get more traffic from Google. One option is to go out and hire an agency. Uh, they're going to help you out, but probably on an ongoing monthly retainer, that's going to be costly.

Another option is to leverage a tool that tells you exactly what needs to be. That tool is H refs webmaster tools, and it's completely free. It's not one of those 14 day trial offers. It's just completely free. It's a super powerful tool. It's gonna do a full website audit for you, and it keeps working for after that.

So it's not like the access ends there. It's going to scan your site. It'll prioritize precisely what you need to do and what you need to fix to improve your results in search. Imagine how valuable you will, that knowledge will become as you discover what changes. You need to make, to increase your traffic on your website.

So it's time to start getting Google to work for you. And for your business, you can visit H refs.com/webmaster-tools. To get this free tool again, we've included in the show notes, but once again, it's dot com slash webmaster dash tools. Thanks again, to age reps for sponsoring today's podcast episode. .




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By Colin Linnett

Colin Linnett is a seasoned copywriter and certified content marketer who helps entrepreneurs and bloggers by creating engaging content to woo their readers.

He spends most of his time writing blog posts, emails, and researching the latest marketing trends online.

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