How would you like to replace your full-time income from a regular job with the revenue you generate from affiliate and display ad websites?
That's the story of Marty McLeod who joins us on the podcast this week.
Because he was earning a good income from his niche sites, he was able to quit the job that he found “soul-sucking” and move to Europe where he now works on his own business.
Marty accomplished this goal in large part because of his determination. He knew he wanted to quit his job, and decided it was going to be through building out websites. This was what he focused on and made happen.
One of Marty's quotes from the podcast is ‘Have a plan and take action.' It's good advice.
Other topics include:
- When to quit your job
- How to pick a niche
- Some of the mistakes Marty made
- How to identify competitors
- Keyword research tips
- How to find low competition keywords
- How to use various operator tools
- Page speed improvements
I'm sure this interview will be a great encouragement and motivation to all online marketers or those who would like to get into it. Watch, read, or listen to the interview below.
Marty McLeod Interview
Resources and links mentioned in the interview:
- Doug Cunnington interview – Doug's most recent appearance on Niche Pursuits
- Best SEO Chrome Plugins – Marty mentioned ‘SEO Quake'
- Asset CleanUp plugin – to help with page speed
- WP Show Posts – can also help with speed
Read the full transcription:
How to replace your full-time income with the revenue you generate from your websites, quit your job and move to Europe. Well, that's exactly the story of Marty McCloud, who we have joining us today on the niche pursuits podcast.
Marty has a wonderful story, which he goes through for us one, which starts with him mired in a full-time job. They did not like wondering about how he would spend his time. And he sat down and he purposed to use websites as the tool to get them out of the the path he was on. And so Marty walks us through the process.
He went through through several of his initial failures finally to landing on the sites that he has in his portfolio. Right. Again, where's he at now? Well, he's been able to leave his full-time job. He's been able to move to Europe, and now he has a full-time website builder who relies exclusively on his websites for his income.
Marty outlines, a lot of really, really wonderful insights about how to pick a niche and how to avoid making some of the mistakes that he made in his initial couple of website failures. We talk a lot about how to validate a niche and how to identify who is a competitor and who what makes a competitive niche.
We go through keyword research primarily looking at low competition, keyword research and some different tactics to find those low competition keywords. We talk about how to use various operator tools, like all entitle to find the keywords that are easy to rank for. We also spend a good amount of time talking about page speed improvements that you can make, what the primary drivers are, that affect page speed and where you can get the best bang for your buck.
If you're looking to make your site a lot faster along the way, Marty's just a huge encouragement and has a lot of really positive things to encourage those who are at various spots, a longer journey when it comes to website building, think you're going to like what Marty has to share. And I'm looking forward to sharing the interview
Jared: welcome to the niche proceeds podcast, and I'm joined today by Marty McLeod, Marty, how you doing? A
Marty: pretty good how's going
Jared: good. Good. Good to have.
Marty: Thank you.
Jared: Bye spear. Yeah, we've got a good one here. I am. Especially interested in hearing, not only your story, but also your background in terms of where you've started and where you are now.
I think everyone's going to get a lot out of this interview. Give me a lot that's applicable for everyone. For those listening all the way from just thinking about entering the website space, all the way into people who are building websites, maybe have more than one website are looking to grow them.
Let's let's start off. Let's hear about your journey, you know, tell us where you started and tell us where you were at before you got interested in website building.
Marty: Sure, absolutely. So I'm like a lot of people, there's a lot of people out there who may not mention it out loud, but, or I was one of the very same people who were just daydreaming and finding a better way.
Cause I hated my job so much. And eh, or just the daily drudgery, the routine was, you know, I know it sounds like a cliche, but soul sucking is what people say sometimes. But basically I was an electrical engineer. My degree is in electrical engineering, but I also studied electronics and some things like you know, microcontrollers, small scale CPS and stuff like that.
And on my, as a hobby and I ended up working in that professionally later, the problem I ran to his cause and I changed companies several times was that even though eventually you can get to a good rate of pay the kind of work I was doing made me miserable a lot of times. And our problem that I ran into sometimes was may, I don't know if that's just engineering or if it applies to other career fields to other types of businesses, but more than once I've had, I worked under a boss or someone like that, who typically was an older guy who was a very smart person.
Unfortunately, he made my work so hard because there, they felt that their way of doing things was the best way. And they would re try and reinvent the wheel so to speak. And it just made my life just that much harder. Technical stuff is really hard to work on sometimes, especially I would struggle at my last job.
I would struggle just fighting to get the tools to work just so I could get back to actually doing the work. And on a really bad day, there was three levels high. It would be my work and the tools. There's something related to that. So I would do, this was something that would happen every so often plus long hours and stuff, because fortunately I wasn't given the ability to input into some design decisions and it made what we were trying to do, which is kind of shoe horn, something into way.
It wasn't really originally intended to use when there were other alternatives. In my opinion, it made things so much harder. And I thought to myself, you know, here I am again, and I'm not very happy. And sometimes I'm working here by myself in his dark house. Struggling with this stuff. And, you know, after stuff like that happens after a certain amount of time, number of times you start thinking, you know, is this really how it's going to be?
The rest of my life is this, this is going to be it. For example, I used to work in the same city where Doug Huntington originally used to work, where he went into affiliate marketing, which is a Alpharetta Georgia coincidentally. And so back about that time is when I first started thinking, you know, I remember going outside one day and the sunshine in my car, just taking a break because that was my escape from the drudgery of the day.
And it was kind of sad, but that I would go outside and see this wonderful sunshine to people out leisurely doing their things. And I thought, wow, just imagine what that must be like to have the freedom to go out in the middle of the day. I have no, I had no idea what that was like. I got curious to start searching online about how to make money online.
And then, you know, like a lot of people, I drug my feet a little bit, but they done did eventually try for a few different things. Take the first three did not work. One was like a first two, a two, four A's and trying out drop shipping of two different times. My first niece, first Nisha, I picked the wrong name because I didn't know what I was doing.
And at flopped right away, I could tell that was a bad idea. So I didn't give up. And I stayed motivated because you know, whether you have positive motivation or negative of automation, negative motivation, sometimes even a negative motivation of some of the strongest, because it you're so uncomfortable.
So unhappy with something you're supposed to be extremely driven to continue. And that was part of what they did for me. So it was a little bit of both, I'd say. So eventually I, in 2017, I took Doug. Covington's a five figure niche site course because I said to myself, okay, you know what, maybe I should give this a shot and try and learn from somebody who's already done.
And Doug wasn't one of the quote unquote gurus out there because it's, you know, back to the time there was so much noise out there and so much junk, in my opinion, it made us whole little bit better now. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but so it was a good choice because I learned I started off the KGR or keyword golden ratio approach.
And then I started my first website and I think it was less than a year later. I started a second one, which is the one that's earning the most, most of my money these days. And so at the end of 2019, I had come back. Let's see. So, so it was, it's only been a little bit over a year and a half. I finally get to the point where I was making enough money originally from Amazon affiliates, and then later, somewhat from a display ads.
Also, I was able to get the point where I had to make that decision. Am I making enough money to get by? Maybe it's time I should leave my job. And I did it. And so. Wow.
Jared: Wow. Debts. And so you are a, full-time a website builder affiliate market right now, right? Yes. That's right. See, you walked away from the job and the career that you had.
I mean, basically spies.
Marty: Yeah. You know, and it's sad because am I, I think my mother and my whole family tree is the only person with a college degree, but she never worked professionally. She worked different jobs, but she rose a family re also that raised a family that so, you know, I, I, it was really hard to get point of earning my degree.
I worked very, very hard to get that. And then to find out that your, the things that you thought was so fascinating that you want to work on professionally, that in reality, the rally of the job unfortunately means it's not going to be like that at all. The day-to-day grind can be very depressing. Sadly.
I hate to say that, but it's just the reality of how things are in the world. Sometimes I'm sure not in every case. And I, I, they were nice people where I last worked at and I'm grateful for the opportunity, but I just kind of found myself in a different flavor, a different version of the same thing you could say.
So as much as I enjoy the people and stuff, I just was, I knew that my dream was to have control over my own destiny and my own life. And especially with the inspiring stories out there by from Spencer Haws and Matt tickety, and a lot of the top guys who are extremely successful, it shows you what's possible.
And when that, when you, your mind is open enough to say, Hey, this is possible. And not instantly, you know, the right and say, no, I'm sure I could do that. But if you feel like you just know something's possible and it can be done, you can say, wow, you know, things go, well, I could, I could do even better than it ever did before.
So sure. There's a little bit risk making a big decision like this. But there's so much more, the upsides are so awesome. You know, you have to get to the point where you can, do you know that you had to make a personal decision about what you're really wanting to do or not? Because I try to tell people that are beginners because I started my group when I started, they were, I don't know what, maybe 25, I don't know, not even at 30 people, but in every case, when I've been in a group of people who are getting started in this line of income at the end, and only two to three months, there's such a tiny portion of those people still remaining.
So pushing forward. So I try as hard as I can to try to encourage people and to make them think hard about their decisions before they give up. And I, I always try to tell people, listen, it's, it's not always easy, but I try to Saudi examples and say, if these people failed 10 times and then they were successful, wasn't it worth it?
And that's what you have to plan for. And I try to say, you know, listen, I, how badly do you want it? If you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to make it happen. To mention
Jared: touching on that. Because I think you, you touched on something that is a prevalent challenge with website building, which is that it takes so long for not only the payoff, you know, and so long.
I mean, it depends how you put it, but it takes a year typically. We'll just say before you really start seeing some real. Tangible results that you can kind of start to bank on, and then you have to learn along the way. You know, you talked about your first website, I'm right there with you. My first website, I thought I had it all figured out with all the podcast I've listened to and it didn't go well.
I made every mistake in the book, I think, but I mean, with all these factors at play, do you think that in your case, you needed to Drudge along and your job for that length of time to really build the desire to push through in website, building on the side? Or was it something where you arrived in a moment and it was the arrival and the culmination of things that allowed you to push through?
Because I think it's important to touch on people don't finish when they, what they start in this, in this, in this area of the world. And, and I think you're touching on something and motivating people to do that is really.
Marty: I would say that I know that everybody's situation is different and it's impossible to account for all the variables and, you know, going on somebody's personal life or work life, personal life, whatever.
But I can say that I think it was a combination in my particular case, because doing the daily thing was a constant reminder of why I wanted to keep going. So I had that constant reminder every day and originally I hoped to leave my job sooner, but I also had a plane because I, what I like to do sometimes if I don't know something and I feel like I should get a second opinion.
I asked two guys who were very successful in line and had been well-known on the internet. And I said, Hey, you know, I've read that I should get the income to, to X point and have some savings too. And they both said, yeah, that's the best way you don't have to do that way. That's the best way. And I thought to myself, I'm going to try and do this the right way.
So I set my plan. I would, I would hang in there until a, I met the first income goal, which I did. That was fine. But then I said, I'm going to go a little bit further and make sure I can get by for say one, two years, depending on where I live, what country I live in, maybe even more. So if I had to start all over again, the bottom falls out, I can do it.
But that was one of those best pieces of advice, pieces of advice I've ever heard. So, so in that case, it was a combination of things, but definitely, yeah, yeah, definitely the motivation to get out. But one of my things on my list was to be the, be the ability to finally be able to travel somewhere and not have to go back in seven days.
Like when you have a pregnant job, you don't re I didn't get many vacation days unfortunate, like some other people. So it always sucked when I was going somewhere. I had a great time. And then seven days when you first saw, when you finally get started, get you from you're finally getting comfortable and even speaking some language, guess what?
Sorry. I got to go get on my plane tomorrow, you know? So so
Jared: the day seven's about when I stop reaching for my phone, you know, it's like, it takes me about seven days to like, not have that knee jerk reaction to check something on my phone or something. And then, and then you're heading home. Yeah.
What are some of the mistakes, you know, just rapid fire. Like what are some of the big mistakes that you made in some of your first websites? Like I said, we've all been there, but I'm just curious. What, what, like, what are some of the big mistakes that, that kind of barrier that first site?
Marty: Well, I'm sure it could go down along this, but I'll try to catch the main bullet points.
So this, without question, my first site that reminds me there were actually two sites. First one, I did myself. I think the wrong niche and while there's an enormous amount of mostly search volume, it was, as you probably could guess. Hyper-competitive so for a brand new start aside, trying to compete in that it is especially for a beginner who doesn't understand the ins and outs and had the see patterns like you get with experiences, the keyword research, yada, yada, that wasn't a good idea.
And I see a lot of other beginners make the same mistake to something is just too competitive or there aren't many keyword opportunities out there that you're going to realistically rank for without a lot of investment of time, possibly money to, it's just not a good plan. In my opinion, you know, second one I bought a pre ready-made site that, you know, quote marks should have been a good one because supposedly.
It was a, a good, you know, the assumption was when these are sold and I won't name any names, but that it was, it was, it was a niche that is going to be lucrative, but I held onto it for a while and I went back and once I got some experience, I went back and start looking for keywords and guess why there was so few lower competition ones out there that I said, you know, I think I need to make a decision.
I think I could pick something better. And so that's what I did. I got rid of it and just moved on with it, my two main sites and then the news. I
Jared: have also picked up a pre-made site before, back in the early days and had some more experience. Yeah, it's really, yeah. It's I mean, it, it, I think you're right that the, in general, the keyword opportunities were there, but there wasn't much, in terms of low competition, at least with a particular niche that I ended up getting into, it ended up being a very competitive one.
And I'm sure now I would have been able to do better with it because I have better chops keyword research. But like you talked about, if you don't know how to find the low competition keywords, you have to put it in quite an investment of time and money to get that. I totally, I understand that,
Marty: you know, being able to look at the big picture is really so crucial sometimes, you know, and I've had people it's been a while, but I've had people say, send me, they'll have a website with, gosh, one time.
It was like a, let's say 59, 60 posts. And another guy had one with a hundred or more posts. And I went through the list. I ran them through HRS. Now, and these things are so competitive and they weren't ranking for any of them on the first 20. I doubt they were even getting past second page. So that last rough, and that was a red flag.
And I, and I remember just several times random night Lewis, I asked a bad news, sorry, but these are all too difficult for a site is young as yours to rank for. I, I would suggest you go about this a different way. So yeah, it's, I guess the point is don't feel bad if you make mistakes because it's part of the process.
Right. But certainly don't recommend going all in. So you feel a little bit more confident.
Jared: What you're saying is don't quit your full-time job. Don't quit your day job until you until you have some, a pattern of success. I bet that also made it a lot. It made it a lot less anxious when you did get around to, I think you said 2019 walking away from your, your full-time job and being able to commit yourself fully to building websites that.
Marty: Yup. That was, oh, go ahead. Definitely. I was just going to say, yeah, definitely. The,
Jared: I mean, so you got w when did you start the site that is doing well? Now you talked about how you had a couple of failures and then you had a site. You have a site, you have it still on stage. Your main moneymakers is what you were saying.
When did you start that
Marty: one? Well, I have to, technically I have to, so I called them on main sites because they're, those are the ones I wrote the content on, at least almost all of it. Maybe on one of them, only 10. I didn't recently sorry about that. What was your question? I was just
Jared: wondering what, you know, when you started these sites that are now working, that are now that, that, that you, you turned the corner and these sites are now successful.
When did those start?
Marty: Okay. So the first one, because it was the second one didn't exist at the time it took me, it was something like seven, eight or nine minutes before I even started seeing some pennies rolling in. Granted I could have gone about it. If I knew then what I know now it would have been faster, but sometimes it just, it does just take time for stuff to traffic start rolling in.
And at the time I wasn't getting out content as well, because I was still a beginner and riding was harder for me at the time. So that by the time, by the middle of the next year, it was, I think it would, at that point it was making a couple hundred dollars and it didn't take long for the second one to make too much either.
It took my second one for some reason, took a little bit less time to come out of the sandbox. And I also started off with 20 posts. I even took a week's worth of vacation days and knocked out the majority of the posts for the sandbox content for my, my second site, when I made it kind of going by what I learned from my first one.
And so it was making it didn't take too long. First site was making a, it was, let's just say it was a, roughly two years before I got to the point between the two that I was making enough to say, okay, I'll be all right. I can leave my job. Okay. Okay. Yeah.
Jared: Now you talked already about how one of the bigger mistakes with the first one.
So failures was nice selection, picking a niche it's too competitive. What, how did you go about picking the niche for these two sites that are successful now and w you know, what kind of tips do you have for people in that stage of, of picking
Marty: a website? Yeah. And then same applies to my new project too, which is a a new site I started.
So what I do was I go through, and I know that not everyone has the same tools, but ideally you'll go through either with the tool or manually and look out, you'll do some keyword searches and you'll note make a note. You know, I do it in a spreadsheet. I'll make a note of the competition of very similar domains, websites out there and make a record or their domain authority.
And, you know, we're not trying to get perfect numbers here. We just want to have a general gauge and make it start going through until you get a long list, let's keep going and iterations of more and more and more. And after a while you have a list of say, ideally, you have at least 20 competitors out there, you know, and you can look at that group and say, is this a mix of high authority, very competitive ones, or is there some lower weaker ones in there too?
And if there's at least a relatively fair amount of a weaker sites or even new sites in there, then I see that as one of the criteria is, is okay, it's green, green light on that. And then I go through and try to do a lot of keyword searches. See what keyword opportunities are out there that it looks, look, it looks to me like I can realistically rank for it.
And I based that off of this, in the serfs and the search engine results page first page of Google using, I use a SEO quake extension for Chrome, and it'll give you some of the stats of the, of the, of the ranking URLs and the websites. And you can look at that first page and say, are there any weaker sites ranking?
And if so, that's opt in often that's net, nothing's a hundred percent, but it's often an indicator that you stand a chance as well. So I go through and make a list of those pluses of search volumes. So I say, when it's all said and done I'll have an idea about what the competition was like. Is it, is it weaker?
Is it medium or is it very strong and are the keyword opportunities out there that I think that I can rank for yes or no? And are the search volumes. Okay. Is this nucleon dime stuff? Is it like teeny tiny surgical items all across the board for the most part? Or is it some low ones, some high ones, you know, like a normal niche you might find.
And that, I think those are some of the baby, basically the biggest criteria, but I, you know, I, you can do, and I've heard other people say the same thing. It's just a matter of doing your homework. And I think that a lot of people I've noticed a pattern over time and it's not just niche sites, but it could be e-commerce and other stuff, but it tends to be that people are starting, who are starting.
They tend to be dropped at the same niches for this for some reason. And I was guilty of that as well. I really, really, really strongly recommend you make a long list. And then you have potential ideas and you're just going to take you time it, but it is important and just go through and evaluate those.
And even if that list, you can't find a good one to start thinking outside the box, go in a store, take notes, and you're out and about if you get an idea that you could research a lighter, go into a store and look it up, you know, for product ideas or niche ideas, swap, walk around and be open-minded. You have to kind of get out of the consumer mindset and more into opportunistic mindset.
Like instead of I'm looking for something specific or I'm opening to seeing different things, I've noticed I had to do a little bit of a change there. You get
Jared: stuck as well. Thinking about passionate about exactly. Yeah.
Marty: That's yeah. That's right. And
Jared: you talked about low competition, right? And you talked about how you evaluate these.
Just to put like a, maybe somewhat of a definition for people listening, what would you, what would you call like a lower competition score? I mean, I heard you use domain rating and those kinds of things, but like what would be a low competition threshold for you to consider it to be okay? That's something that meets my criteria as you know, lower competition from a, from a domain standing.
Marty: I don't really rely, I don't really rely on a keyword difficulty score as a, as a quote unquote real filter quote unquote. I use those occasionally just for general motors. And there's a reason why I don't use them regularly, but to me look competition would mean something that when I check, when I look, when I, when I export my keyword list and it goes through potential, low competition keywords, and to evaluate, I look at things like one of ideas you can use to all entitled value, which is a crown, or you can use a Google search to return.
Roughly the number of other URLs with that same keyword in it, to give you the ideas, to get a ballpark idea of how many sites there are out there with that you might compete against. Also go through. And like I mentioned earlier, also check the search results directly for that in open incognito tab.
And how do you use a VPN here? Cause I'm not in us, but such in USA and I search and I see why, how strong the sites are that are, that are ranking for that term. And if it's it's not as much now, but in seeing them years ago, they used to be a lot of web pages for where they were when it was a keyword with almost little or almost no legitimate pages ranking for it.
There might be some garbage websites for these strange, they're just jammed with keywords. They're not a real website per se. If I see those ranking that usually tells me or, or a format. Things like that, that tells me that there's not a good that the algorithm hasn't found a better one to rank above that and that this is very likely a good opportunity.
So I actually don't really these days, I don't, well for my new project, I don't really pay as much attention to search a lot either because some are quote zero or zero to 10, or even have not enough data listed. But they, as some people may already know that a lot of your posts, you know, you're going to rank for multiple keywords.
And I tried to do a good job of the content. So just because a keyword says has estimate certified by zero or 10 or whatever the case might be, it doesn't mean you're only going to get in that ballpark. A lot of times it'll go to several hundred or even more, much, much more as a matter of. You know, so that's something to bear in mind, you know, it's nice to go after very high search volume keywords.
Yes, sure. It is. But it comes with a price because there's also, usually, there's almost always somebody else going for it too. And they've probably been out there for years. And if you're starting off, you have to compete against that. And then you might have to build back links and how much money and time you're gonna spend on that.
And yada, yada yada. So the alternative is to do go after these long tails where there aren't any competitors ranking for it. If at all, sometimes there's not any. And even though they may be. Low search volume. They're all, a lot of times you're great opportunities. I heard a story
Jared: recently and it, it, it really unders it really piggybacks on what you're talking about.
I heard a story from someone who now is really successful in owning a portfolio of websites. One of them making five figures a month, you know, so doing very well, their first site looking back on it was one day started and they, they did target very low competition, a very low competition niche, and a very low competition keywords, very long tail keywords.
And what they ended up doing was as a result. Too low, you know, it was, it was too small of a niche and it was too low of competition, almost the exact opposite of what you talked about, mistakes being, which is going after something too big and too competitive. And in the end though, they were still very successful with that first website and they did hit a ceiling, but then they sold it and took those funds from selling it and used it to start their next project now that they knew and understood more.
And they were able to go after a little bit more of a broader niche. And it sounds like both of us had, have had failed ventures where we started something too big and really weren't able to salvage it. Right. It's it's just not writing anything. And so it, it almost underscored the point you're making, which is that, that low competition is such a great approach for each selection, especially if you're just starting out.
Marty: Yeah. And you know that they, I know, I know one lady she doesn't really well. She has it. She does have one time. She's not. Well known on the internet or anything, but she is originally from Israel and mad respect to her. She followed the same pattern and approach at John Dix for the fats fat stacks guy.
And I've been following him for a long time too. So my new project has kind of been doing the same thing, but she also is extremely successful. Now just doing the same thing and it's a niche let's say her one of her original size, isn't a niche that is broad enough that if you, you can just keep knocking out those lower competition keywords.
So again, that re reaffirms the point that the niche is important. Like you said, I mean, what if your, your goals weren't as lofty? What if you say I would like to make a few hundred dollars per month then, you know, if you, if you're going to be limited to a small site, you know, maybe that's okay. I once saw a birdwatching site and flip thought it was a legit site.
It wasn't one of these really. Low tier, not cycle. You see a lot on there, but when I did my homework and looked into it while there was nothing wrong with it, I could just could not find the keyword opportunities I would hope for in order to grow it. If I didn't intend my growing and a lot more, you know, Hey that's okay.
But I, for me, that, wasn't what I had in mind. So I passed them. That meant hopefully for someone else are doing great with it. But you know, like you said, you know, if you know, what is your goal, you can always sell it later, use that money, put it back in. Or
Jared: what else do you want? Well, you touched on keyword research.
It sounds like cute roll keyword research in, in some ways with your niche research, how you select a niche and what now you're kind of looking at the keywords along with the niche. How else do you do, you know, talk through keyword research, at least as it related to these, these successful sites you have and what are some key, maybe key things you do that are unique and that you think are important in your keywords.
Marty: Okay. So why don't I just trying to keep it in a scope of the typical keyword search, because I'll keep the massive list of keywords for a separate topic or something like that. Okay. So I use my, I find a CT word this, by the way, a lot of times those come about accidentally, maybe at the bottom of the page and Googles, or, you know, other people search for, or I happen to run across it or pops into my head.
And I make a note on his phone to check writer. I use that CT word and I'll go through. And in my case, I'm using H reps these days, I started the keyword keg originally and started moving up and tools, but I prefer to use age routes. So I go through, I, I used some keyword filters to kind of get rid of the junk and the e-commerce stuff.
So I exclude a lot of stuff. I try to keep it it's because it gets so much data. I have to make it manageable. And then let's say I get a couple of hundred keywords and I'm going to go through those. So a lot of it is when I export my list, I go through manually and I look at those and if I've scraped all entitled by use, I can use that as a guide.
And I highlight the sell color to try to visually just quickly narrow it down to where I want to start, but let's just say I started a regular keyword list. I start going down through the list and I look for those that look like a topic that I can use to the best of my ability to rank for more additional keywords, as well as things that I think applied to my demographic of the site, my readers, because there was a reason they're on the they're on the website.
And if also it, you know, it's nice. If the search volume isn't too low say this one is, let's say one has made two 50 that's. Common, you know, I'll, I'll pick that and I'll use I'll turn on SEO, quake and Chrome and open incognito tab. And I'll do a search result for that keyword. And I'll see what's ranking and how strong the sites are versus whatever website I'm working on.
And if it's pretty close, I'll say, okay, this is probably this, it looks like it's probably a good one. Sometimes also, depending on how the search results are now, I'll be sure to check what is actually in the content, because what happens sometimes is let's say you're looking for a some kind of ranch in cells.
Unfortunately you think you're spiking once thing, but the algorithm sometimes Jensen different results. And the intent of those web pages is sometimes not what you expect. So you don't want to go into it blindly. You want to do what to say? What is this thinking that the search query is for. Well, what I'm planning on doing fit into this or not.
And if yes, then that's cool. We can go ahead. If it, if it looks like we can compete and rank, if not, maybe I should put a marker with orange and maybe come back another time. So I just kind of repeat that process. And I like these days, also my potential, once I've decided to keyword is one that looks like it's going to be a good fit for the site I'll and that I can rank for it realistically.
So I'll, I'll put it in a content planning spreadsheet and I'll make a note of the search volume. And so other little something like that. And then I can work on the content outline at that point. I, I tend to get like a group that was on and then try to plan out the next five or 10 posts. So I tend to do it a handful at a time, but yeah.
Jared: You mentioned at the outset about the KGR method for keyword research and, you know, I, I'll probably, I'm probably over summarizing it basically that that method of research tries to look for opportunities where a specific search query has been underserved in terms of the title and thus, you know, underserved in terms of just pages that are written about that topic.
And so the idea is that if you write about that topic and you, you include that in the title and you, you write a succinct answer, you can rank quicker because there's just a gap in the in the SERPs for that. Correct me if I'm wrong and you just points, but talk about how you use that as it relates to, to your keyword research.
Is that something you use maybe more at the outset or do you need to use that style as you go? Or how does that blend in with some of the other keyword research methods you use?
Marty: I use it when I was a beginner for a C as much as probably even a year. I'm just starting. I was still using KTR, but, it's.
Yeah, so it was just a and people. So I've seen a lot of discussions in those Facebook groups here and there. People are hell bent against it. They say, this is all this ridiculous. He, you know, that's nonsense at one thing or another, but I have to try to make the point. And I say that, whoa, you know, it's not supposed to be this golden formula.
It's the general a general rule that says that these based on Doug and you know, what some people knew at that time that notice a pattern where you're is likely to be that if these two criteria met, like if there's the all entitled values of low band for this rough search volume, 250 per month and a below that it was assuming all the other stuff, all things being equal that you stay on a good chance of ranking.
And I, you know, it was a rule of thumb if you will, because there's no, there's no such thing as absolute really in the, in this line, right at for sheriff. Yeah. Yeah. I think unfortunately, sometimes people learn that the hard way. So I used that originally and I, it was, and it made a lot of sense because, well, this w why did it exist?
It's because that once some money isn't beginner and they don't know what they're doing, they need some kind of plan because you need two things to be successful. And it's a good plan and to keep taking action. So if you don't have a plan you're just out there and you're, you, you see, you do exactly what I've seen happen over and over and over.
Somebody starts off starts off with fire in their heart. They start off a great looking site that going in, but they don't know how to go after keywords that can rank for, and they end up with the flop and that's really unfortunate. It discourages people a lot. And I hate to say. You know, it makes people want to give up.
So at least a keyword going ratio was a way to help people start off and follow a process and get some posts up there. Cause we, we were in Doug's group, we were doing sprints of 10, 10 posts. This is why he recommended. So we were going about it that way. And yes, I did have once I got out of sandbox period, I started seeing my articles ranking.
And of course my content was in at the time. But these days after having a lot more experience, I don't use it. I use, I use, I do still use the all entitle factors. Sometimes that's more of a, is a somewhat of a filter. If you will, to narrow down the scope of the keywords, I'm going to look at I usually go a, a bit of off of patterns that I've learned over time.
And the other processes I mentioned earlier, which is manual, you know, Madeline manually checking them and things like that. I noticed that a person gets better the more they do it. So some of these, some of this has actually gotten easier and I don't really need a, a rule of thumb per se, to do it. I, I try to use a more general process because when you depend on the mathematical formula of some type that when there are other influencing factors that these leads to potential problems, like on the case, Yar ratio one thing that I noticed I had seen this happen, what was really funny was I used to live only about two or three miles from where I worked at my last job and the service internet service provider from my workplace was different from my home, which is Comcast.
So what would happen was I would run, I was great all on top of, I use for TV or sometimes at home. And I was scraping them at work just a few miles apart, but they were different. So they were both United States. Yeah. Don't get me wrong. Yeah. I just want to clear that up because that definitely can make a difference.
But and I got curious about that. And so the time for the longest time, I just hung in there, but then I realized that, you know, what this meant was I was following this rule and I was filtering to start out by a 0.2, six ratio value, highlighting these and ignoring the others that meant all this time, because there is a leeway that needed to be added.
I'm an engineer after all. I think about math. Sometimes I can tell that man, that unfortunately following this criteria that didn't give me any wiggle room in that, that I probably ignored a lot of stuff out there. That was actually really good. So, you know what I did, I actually ran a test. I, I got some proxies and I got USA proxies and I run ran proxies from one or two.
Geographic location, the east or the west coast, some of the east coast somewhere in-between for five locations in the United States. And I charted a spreadsheet, the different, all entitled values. I got back for those. And some of them was swung wildly. They were more or less in the same ballpark, but the main two main points were number one, they weren't exactly the same, which means that definitely can influence what happens when you, if you use a ratio.
Secondly, and some times a lot of them were extremely similar, but then there would be that one that was very different. And that right there, it means Joe blow over in Montana is not going to get the same keyword golden ratio values that me over here in Atlanta with that kinda made me feel better about thinking, okay, I'm going to go about this process in a more general way, relying on get in the ballpark and then evaluate it myself.
Rather, rather than narrow it down with a, a ratio first and then do it. I'll go through now and look through these.
Jared: If I were to sum up a big pivot that you've made, he can just hear it and everything. You talk about this focus on going after low competition, using different queries, different tools, different variables to try to find the lowest competition opportunities you can find.
But then also using your brain. And I think that that's, that's another area that when you're starting a website, it can be really challenging to not stop and think about the queries you're going to write about and think about if they're going to serve the reader and, you know, go even do the research and make sure the search intent.
And so balancing that really focused research approach that, that you're bringing with these low competition. You talk about all entitle. You talk about. Autocomplete, you're talking about, you know, really, really digging to try to find the lowest competition stuff out there. But also you talked about going to the syrups, actually looking and reading what it is, what it gives you thinking through if the query makes sense.
And that balance is also hard to strike when you're brand new, it's hard to do research, but it's also hard not to get so caught up in the research that you up, write a bunch of articles that are pointless, or that actually are the wrong or the wrong target for your market. So I just, I really liked the balance that you're bringing in that approach.
I think it's really good for people to hear and I wanted to just double down on it.
Marty: And can I add something to that? I'll say that listen, there's unfortunately it's not, I think it's my opinion is not as bad as it used to be, but there's still so much noise out there and bad advice. So it generally boils down to basic stuff, you know, honestly it does.
You don't have to be, you don't have to be a rocket scientist in order to be successful. I I'm in a, I'm a member of media vine, and I'm in the Facebook group. And you should see the people who are a lot mom bloggers and people who make cupcakes and they are kicking ass. So that should tell you, oh, nice.
So number one, any, any person could do it? He really wants to. Number two, if you just do the, go about it, the general general process, the basics, the right way. No, you'll be okay.
Jared: And yeah, you're so right. That's, that's a great example because I'm in that group too. And I'm just stunned sometimes by the amount of the sick people that are posting and their, their SEO knowledge.
Right. And again, I'm not trying to put it down. I'm just saying the comparison of so many examples of people that are making great money, really awesome traffic and have very little SEO knowledge and to a T it's because they are writing content that their users love and people love it and they come back for it and they, and they build the brand on that,
Marty: because exactly right.
I've noticed that myself too. You're right. Oh,
Jared: So your sites, you've got a couple of sites that are successful. Now. I will be honest. The first time I started really catching up with you was probably the last year or so as there became such a big emphasis on site speed with some of the Google's core by vitals and their updates on, I will be honest, man, you have the best responses in terms of site speed to questions to be online.
And they're always so thorough. I, I, I felt like asking you a question once or twice, but I didn't want to put you out because I felt like you can answer, but I'll ask you now. So that's the best part. Yeah, sure. Yeah. Let's talk about page speed because it's something I, you know, without bearing the lead there, you definitely put an emphasis on making sure you're excited to really fast and it looks like you've given yourself.
Through testing and through education, a real crash course in insights, feed and optimization it. Can you talk about some of the big influences on site speed today and maybe some tips for people on how to make their sites faster without needing a, a four-year degree in it?
Marty: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
And may I tell you this topic sometimes I don't even deal those threads because I see so much bad advice that a lot of the same stuff or whatever, but there are some guys who are pretty smart, but I actually so tech in a technically speaking, I guess you could say that in a way I started working in this last November you know last year, last November before the web model thing came into play, because I used to have a thing called rehab, which can do a variety of things.
If you, you know, it could be an aggregate pricing side, it could be a e-commerce site. I used the basic theme and it was intended to be a, for general affiliate sites or whatever you need. And it was a nice sign on that dog on it, man. I, I, when I did pay speed tests back then it turned out to be not very good, despite the ads, which is pretty typical thing, providers, you know, it's very fast amazing, but it's not actually, you know, and it has so much CSS loading.
Oh my gosh, it had all these features and that comes with a price, you know, because of the features and the styling and CSS is the coded as a styling for things like buttons and little dropdowns and short codes and yada yada. And by that time I picked out, I just in testing, I compared to Astra and generate press ended up settling on generate press.
And I changed my themes over, or my sites over from a rehab to generate press. I really glad I did it. Wasn't a lot of work. Yes. But they're much leaner and faster. They were much leaner faster, but it wasn't as great as I'd hoped for. So I learned the lesson that just changing your theme, even if you get an awesome one, isn't really the underlying issue.
There's more to the story. So it wasn't too long before. Okay. Yada, so it was like in January, I was in Metagene Columbia and I decided to start cracking down this inventory. I really should have been writing more content, but I'm a cure. I'm so curious about this stuff sometimes, but I started really digging in very, very deep.
And at the time I still used to have elemental pro I used it on my homepage for a variety of things and also some category pages and started digging any further. And by the time the page speed insights Google's testing tool rode around and more information was out there. I was having a better idea what I was looking for.
And I got some of those under control by using a, I use a there's one called perf matters. There's another plugin called asset asset to up pro the one I've heard of. Yeah. That's, that's what I'm using because it gave me a little bit more control over the because you, you recommended it. Yeah. It's not as user-friendly, but it's yeah.
So you're taking a hit on page speed for all the stuff. That's not a lot of times it's not even being used. What's even crazier is in some instances, you'll have a email, your contact form, like in your contact page, you would think they would only be using that on that page. But no, some of them will load all the way across your site.
So we're completely irrelevant pages and posts. I loving this overhead as well. So using plugin like asset cleanup, you can just disable, what's loaded based on you know, on all post or all pages are individually or with some really you can set up, which is pretty. So that made a big difference. So by that time I got, I was getting into the low to mid nineties and I was still with SiteGround at the time, which isn't really all that fast or when I was there, it wasn't, and I wasn't on the bottom tier either as a mid-tier SiteGround plan for hosting.
And there was definitely a large difference because as it turns out. There's a built-in feature and browsers like Chrome and edge Microsoft edge. They, if you right click with your mouse and go to inspect it, open a little developer stock window series of windows and things like that, you can see the code has loaded.
He could look at little elements and check the CSS and tweak it with it. You can also see the code is loaded and, you know, even show you how much is used or unused. And I had, like, I remember it was like 200 or 220 kilobytes of CSS code alone, uploaded by elements on my page. And it was like 95% was not even used at all.
And I thought, you know, I'm still struggling with it. I spent a lot of time on this. Just one thing after another working on this stuff, I gotten my sash very lean and fast, but this was kind of this last thing. And I thought, well, at this point, I might have to spend a lot more time and effort trying to maybe chip down these, these files and get it down to something custom.
That's very. Or I can just move on and get something that's easier that won't get me this problem. And besides I also, at that time, elementary had just increased the pricing too. And I thought, yeah, it's an easy decision. So I got rid of ELA mentor. I was very happy that I did that. I removed also removed a lot of files from, you know, from WordPress as well, by the way, when you remove a, you know, something like that.
So I did that and I used I did, I used, I actually used a plugin that's by the same guys who make generate press it's called WP show posts. So it is, so I replaced my other mentor, Postgres, my homepage and my nice looking little post-grads and stuff. I tried, I tried a lot of others out there. I paid, I paid versions a lot of out there and they were crap.
They were loading a lot of code they're using like an Ajax, which is another. I think it's a software framework, but and they were also, I took a big hit of page page with all those. I spent so much time trying and I went to WB show posts, man. Huge difference, very fast. I have tweaked it, customize it. I got, I even got it looking.
I got their help to help me make it look my original website before I had Ella mentor, which is really great. So now it's very, very lean. What was really interesting was my contact page because I used to use WP forms, which is a pretty well-known plugin and it's nice and all that. But if you don't use I've tried using honeypots honeypot feature in some contact forums to have, and it just didn't work.
You're committed at this point, I was committed. I was pretty committed because I made it this far. And what, you know, what I ended up doing was I got contact form seven, which is very, very lean. And I basically redid what I had done before, which wasn't very hard. And I, I got this idea. I remember I was talking to my friends when I was still in Columbia.
And I said, I guess I look at this. So I made my own show. So the, my caption is just a captured image that I made. And I've seen a pattern where they, they, they kind of use a grainy image that has the characters inside, but it's kind of grainy the ideas that a bot can't rate it like humanized can.
And I made an image like that. And contact form seven. You can have people enter a little quiz about. So I just had the quiz entry be the same text is what was in the picture. I guess what it worked in is super liked. So I got like a 99, a hundred and I'm like, oh, you
Jared: are such an engineer record.
Marty: You know what?
I don't know. It wasn't 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration or something. Yep.
Jared: Yep. Yep. Well, let me recap for those because I took notes. I mean, it sounds like the theme was a big deal for
Marty: you. It was a
You touched on page builders specifically Elementor and how you moved off of element or, and then you used wh WP Showpad. Which is, and Gutenberg now has their own built in blocks. Now I think I, right. I haven't used it myself,
Marty: but yeah, I've heard a lot of people talk about those block-based voters.
And I haven't used that personally, but I know people are happy with those things too. So don't, don't let me discount those things also, because those are in the same genre. Yeah.
Jared: Your big thing was moving off of basically a page builder, like an elementary. I mean, I know back in the beginning, like thrive architect was a big one that we, we all used it for a period of time.
And then you also touched on plugins and really a lot of, you know, focused on a contact form, but just in general, as a plugin weight that can come and have your not necessarily to target. Any other things that are important? I mean, I jot down some, some notes in terms of like how important is hosting, how important image, image sizes the fonts you're using caching, plugins, or even caching built in with your host.
How, how important is some of those things?
Marty: Yeah, those actually, that's actually a, really a really good question because that was another, a big factor. And I think I noticed a lot of, a lot of times people start off the hosting first or the theme and not really working on fundamental causes the root causes of the problem.
So in my case, I was had to get off site ground because like a lot of people know the renewal prices go way up. But anyway, I got done with cleaning up the underlying causes like a code overhead and things like that after a change things and getting rid of the elements. So at that point, my size were pretty fricking fast and pretty lane, but they start walking all the way they were like in a nineties and page speed insights.
And there's still a little bit of, I wasn't quite asking web models at the time. I was almost threshold. So what with traditional shared hosting what I've learned is that even when I wasn't using the bottom tier Tigran hosting, I was using a, was it a grow bag at that point? Is there a plan? Unfortunately even those even on the good company is shared hosting.
So there's all a huge amount of websites sitting on the same server and the performance is just not that great. So in, unfortunately the shared hosting intermittent delays are also an issue. First out are seeing this because I did such so much Facebook testing to, you know, trial and error that what I noticed over time was with these hosts.
And in my case site, grab it. I've seen it on others too, that sometimes it'll be pretty good. And then the next time it'll be really bad and it would be even be a severe delay over one second, sometimes sometimes two, some crazy number much bigger than that. So you can't really count on them for consistent performance.
And my time to first buy, which is you, you can look up that means on the internet, but it's one of the F when you first start getting data coming from the server to load in your browser it was like on average, somewhere around 330 mils, I guess, which, you know, 15 years ago, that would probably be considered good.
But these days that's, that's not very good. So I tested some other hosts I had in the past. I've had to BPS, which is still ready to be pretty fast. I tried this one, I tried that one and I heard about cloud ways. So I set up a site there. I actually forwarded it over to try it out and yeah. The, I did testing through page street in size or webpage test.org, as well as GT metrics, which I only use for the some fundamental stuff.
But, and guess what my time for by and low times were pretty consistent. And the time for spite was even on their entry level plan was like 90 milliseconds. So it was like, that's a factor that's almost four times as fast for the first load. So, because I had gotten the basics done, right. And I made a decision to leave side ground when I moved this Conway's and I made it a pass out.
I finally got past the goal line. I went bottles with degree. Yep. So it wasn't a big deal.
Jared: It was a big deal, but it might not have been as big a deal if you hadn't taken care of a lot of the other things. Exactly.
Marty: Because if you don't do the other stuff, right, how can you really tell what's going to make a difference?
I like to think of it is if you put a bunch of concrete blocks in the back of a car, maybe you're still dragging those cars around all over town. You should, you should ask yourself, why is this so slow? You should say, what am I doing that I need to, to get rid of the first and then worry about getting a bigger motor lighter, right?
Jared: That's a good analogy. That's well, I'm sure we could talk about site speed tweaks all day. But I, I mean, I think this was a really good punch list for people and if you're struggling with getting your site faster and yes, I think it's worth touching on, you know, core web vitals and the rollout and whether it impacts search rankings or how much it impacts her it's rankings that we'll debate on for, for probably years to come.
But even if you remove those topics, the, you know, just the, the better experience for your users and the ability to to get more people engaging in your website. I mean, you can't underscore that.
Marty: Yeah, I know. And you actually, you actually saved some stuff. For example, I don't need a CDN. I see. That's one of the things I see people always say that you should do, but I don't need a CD in at all.
It's not really necessary if you're, if you go, you know, maybe it doesn't apply to all cases, but for me, it wasn't even necessary to all pan. What also would happen was because I took it off so much stuff and also did some clean at work and some old files, mode, plugins, and WordPress. But I clicked, my, my bandwidth is actually lower now because there's less data moving because there's so much crap.
It's not there anymore. Oh no. So, you know, it's, my bandwidth has gone down, which means it's actually possible. Sometimes that side has like my, my second side has think at the time it had like a let's say it had 75 posts. I was, I, and I still had a lot of traffic The beginning of the year had like a hundred thousand visitors in my second side.
And even with that side, I was still able to fit my side and managed to use the basic tier, the cheapest hosting plan with cloud ways at the time, because he wasn't moving near as much data as you know, it used to, right. It was much my pace, couple hundred kilobytes for a page and that's with images and I asked Logan, wow.
Jared: with ads. That's a good point. This is media vine. Well, let's bring us back full circle here. As we, as we kind of come to a close let's talk just a bit about where you're at today. I mean, you're where you're, you're now full-time on websites. If you can share any data you're comfortable with what you know is how much your websites are earning.
Or traffic they're getting what part of the world are you? Are you are you, are you living in now? I mean, you talked about travel and my style being so important, let's bring all this back full circle.
Marty: Yeah. So I just recently came to it's my first time in Europe. So I'm in Tbilisi, Georgia. I have to clarify this.
Not all Americans have heard of the country, Georgia. Cause I'm from the state Georgia. I've got to say you're from totally different contests. Totally different, very different in different way, different language. So I guess it's, I did take a early this year, unfortunately on a second site, I took a little bit of hit in traffic.
So I'm building it back up. So I took a little bit of dip in income combat between I still have some Amazon affiliate posts, but majority main com is now display ad revenue. So let's see, I'm trying to remember off the top of my head. So it's, I don't know what this is say somewhere under, maybe it was around ballpark around $5,000 combined, you know, and I started a new project, which is just going to be informational site and I've already got 163 posts on that.
So that's my first foray into scaling up, outsourcing the writing. I still write my own content for my technically oriented posts, because that's just requires that level of knowledge, you know? And I'm, I care about what I put out there, but but from a new one I'm I spent a lot of time Plant doing content planning and it's about to start earning money pretty soon.
And then I'm just going to reinvest the money. So these, these principles I learned from very successful people like John Dykstra and others, and, you know, Spencer does something similar to, you know I'm going to follow what works and just repeat the process and trust the process. So it's, it's tough that I've been having last couple months.
Gosh, it's been six, eight months. I've been investing in over a thousand dollars each month just into two X number of posts per month. And I'm not trying to get the cheapest. I'm trying to get a good compromise between good quality and something affordable. So it takes a lot of, you had to stay focused and keep faith that this is going to pay off.
But yeah, I'm, I'm constantly taking action. I'm not stopping. So I'm starting to see the results of the traffic is rapidly rising in this new project and I'm just going to keep scaling it and then go from there. I've answered your question. I don't know.
Jared: You definitely did know that you did. I mean, I'll close by saying this.
I absolutely love having people like you on the podcast, because I mean, it's just a wonderful story. It's emblematic and it's not accidental, right? I mean, this is not, this is not something that you happened into. This is not something that, you know, you found yourself in a very frustrating position and you looked at yourself, but that's only the beginning of the story.
I mean, this is a very clear, I think we're the last hour where you've seen, you've been incredibly purposeful about every single facet of what you've done to change your story. And here you are now living in Europe, completely free of the things that were frustrating you from before successful and really an expert in this now, I mean an expert at what you're, what you're doing.
I mean, and it's just this wonderful learn from you. Equally as much, it's just really inspiring to hear your story. And that's what you become,
Marty: you know, it's very, very kind of, you appreciate it. On this note, I want to say that I've I always try my best to encourage people to listen to good, really good podcasts like this.
Cause this is a very good, well done podcast. And I tell people, listen, there's these guys are interviewing the people and they're asking you a real, you know, real questions that you'll learn something that you won't hear otherwise. And that's invaluable. You can't put a price on a guy who's making six figures a month saying, this is how I do it.
There's your answer. You've if you're willing to learn, don't pass up the opportunity. To get the right information, listen to the people who actually walked the walk, you know, and you know, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with people like you and I listened to the podcast too. And I enjoy it a lot.
There's always something more to learn. I never think I know too much. What's interesting is I just came to accept that learning is a part of the process and you're going to be a different person in six months when you were, when you started. And that's cool. It's cool. If you screw up, you could screw up 10 times in a row.
That's okay. If you say I didn't, I did something wrong, but I'm willing to learn what I figured out, what I did wrong and keep going forward. Really? That's that's the basic of what it takes me thinking like that, as opposed to, well, I can't do this or listen to people to, they tell you, you can't because I, unfortunately that happens.
I know from person experience, that's one reason I tried to be the voice of encouragement because I know how it is sometimes, you know, it's unfortunate, but it's just how the world is. There's a lot of negativity. So we need more of the opposites. My, my, my, my, my 2 cents.
Jared: I agree with you. And I think that you're living that.
I think you're living that out. So thanks so much for being here, Marty. I appreciate you joining us. It's been a great interview. It's been a great time to chat with you and thanks for sharing so much knowledge. Thank you.
Marty: I appreciate it so
Jared: much. Talk soon.
Marty: Okay. .