Podcast 170: How Kyle Roof Performs SEO Tests and Optimizes On-Page Factors
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Kyle has been involved in SEO for a long time and is well known in the industry. In particular, he is well known for performing SEO tests to see what actually works for ranking in Google as opposed to just taking other people's words for it.
Here's a few things that we discussed during the interview:
- Matt Diggity
- Traveling and teaching English
- Starting a web design business
- Performing SEO tests
- Page Optimizer Pro
- Thinking about small niche SaaS sites
- Google can't read
- Dr. Axe
- Internal Linking
- Silo structure
Read the Transcript
Hey, everyone, . I’ve got another interview for you today. It’s with Kyle Roof from internetmarketing.gold and pageoptimizer.pro.
Kyle is a really smart SEO. He specializes in search engine optimization and what I find really unique in what he shares during this interview is that he’s all about doing your own SEO test. In other words, he likes to see the data. He doesn’t want to just read what other people are doing and how that may or may not be actually impacting search engine rankings for Google.
How do you go about performing your own test? If you want to know if I change the title or if it matters if I remove all the images, add more images, or do all sorts of minor tweaks on-page on your site, how do you test that? Kyle is going to run through the test that he’s done and how you can set up your own test.
One thing that I found really interesting is just that Kyle makes it very clear that Google is a robot. It needs to satisfy certain algorithms, certain things. It doesn’t actually read and truly understands what’s on your page, but it still looks for things like keywords, images, other meta tags, alt tags, and other things that a robot can understand what your page is truly about, where it should rank that page.
We go through all sorts of things talking about on-page optimization and of course we talked about his tool, Page Optimizer Pro, which you can definitely check out. And just a lot of really good things that hopefully, you can implement into your own sites to start seeing them rank better and generally just get some great motivation to do better in your business. So, here is Kyle.
Spencer: Hey Kyle, welcome to the Niche Pursuits Podcast.
Kyle: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it. Happy to be here.
Spencer: Definitely. It’s good to have you on the podcast. Matt Diggity actually recommended that you come on. I just interviewed him a little while ago. I know you guys have known each other for a long time. I think you spoke at his conference in Chiang Mai, right?
Kyle: Yeah. I’m here to say that man is a complete fraud and anything he told you is untrue including his recommendation of me.
Spencer: You want to correct the record on that.
Kyle: That’s why I’m here, really.
Spencer: Exactly, right. We’ll undo whatever damage he did on his interview.
Kyle: That’s actually my whole mission in life, is just to correct Matt’s mistakes.
Spencer: Just clean up his messes, yeah.
Kyle: I did speak in Chiang Mai just a couple of months ago. It was a fantastic conference. It’s hard to be going to Thailand just in general, and then to have a conference, I think there were 800 people there, it was massive. It was really nice to be with like-minded people because you don’t have to explain your job. You’re in the hallway and like, “What do you do?” “I do this,” everyone’s like, “Oh yeah. Of course.” Instead of like, “What is that again?”
Spencer: It’s a lot like talking to family members that have no idea.
Kyle: I explain to my mom about 37 times what I do. I just wanted to say I’ll tell her it’s computers. It’s computers, mom.
Spencer: If you have a computer problem, call you, right? That’s my love, yes. I would like to give our listeners a little bit of your background. Can you give us some of your work experience, business experience previous to building online businesses? How did you get your feet with?
Kyle: I was actually a lawyer in the previous life. I was a trial attorney and I really did not like that. I took a year off and moved to South Korea, which is I think a normal path for most people. One year off turned into five years living in South Korea.
While I was there, I got into web design and development. Then that transitioned into getting recurring income through digital marketing and SEO. Some twists and turns, but then I landed on the agency that I have co-founded with Andrew Steven, my business partner.
That process, cleansing myself from being a lawyer and then into something that I actually really enjoy doing in digital marketing. From there, that’s where Page Optimizer Pro came from, the work that we’re doing, the agency fund from those processes that turned into the tool.
Spencer: I’m sure there's a huge back story to becoming a trial attorney and deciding not to be a trial attorney, et cetera, but why did you choose to go to South Korea? What was the draw there?
Kyle: My wife is also a trial attorney. We met in law school. She was also burned out and she said, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we moved to Europe and taught English for a year? Just kind as a whim.” I was like, “That would be hilarious.” And then I was like, “Let’s do it.” That was the action plan. We’re working 80-hour weeks and completely burned out. I was like, “It would just be really hilarious to work a 9-5 kind of job and teach English in some random place and travel.” The biggest thing was to travel. Once we were able to do it, it was great. You can’t do that as a lawyer. Or most jobs. You can’t just take up and go.
Spencer: You took a break from being a trial attorney to figure out what your next thing was? Was that the idea?
Kyle: That’s exactly it.
Spencer: Okay, let’s travel, let’s make a little bit of money to live for a year or two and then let’s figure it out later.
Kyle: That’s exactly it. I actually thought I would always go back to law. It’s a nice backup plan. In the worst case scenario, I can go be a lawyer. It’s nice to have in my pocket.
Spencer: Fortunately, you haven’t had to do that quite yet. It sounds like the first online business idea that you created was web design, that has led to doing more SEO and client work, of course.
Kyle: Yeah. Actually, I started a business in South Korea. It required a pretty technical website. It took a lot of time to find developers that could actually do it. Once I assembled this team, I was like, “I got a pretty crack team of developers here. I bet I could subcontract website development.”
Kyle: I got into it, then I started doing that, and that actually went pretty well. I brought my brother into the company, he does web design and development. We had these contractors and they were all in different places in India. I told my brother, I was like, “Here’s what we need to do. We need to go to India, open a company there, we can bring people in, it’ll be more cost effective, and we can get more work out of them because they’re not freelancing. They’re our employees.”
Kyle: So we do that. My brother was in India, I was in the US, and I was about to fly out. We were told we’re going to get a shakedown from the police because that’s how it goes. And we did it. The police knocked on the door, my brother was there, he opened the door, and they’re like, “We need to see your papers. Your business papers.” He shows them the papers and they’re like, “These are the wrong papers.” He’s like, “I promise they are the right ones.” “No, they’re not.” We had cash on hand for this and instead of asking for a bribe, he put him in handcuffs and threw him jail.
Kyle: He gets in front of the chief of police and the chief of police is like, “Well, this could be the right papers, I don’t know.” It’s his choice, “You can leave town tomorrow or you can sit in jail and wait for the magistrate to come and the magistrate will sort it out.” My brother said, “When will the magistrate come?” and the chief of police is like, “I don’t know.” My brother goes, “I think we’ll leave town tomorrow.”
Spencer: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Kyle: Of course, our employees don’t want to be involved. They’ve scattered. After my brother left, we actually were friends with the neighbor next door. He has a business on the first floor and there are apartments or rooms on the same floor as we had in the same building.
We became friends with them and they said that basically, the police came in and took all of our stuff. All the computers, all the furniture, just everything, and then the landlord had a new tenant in three days later. So, this was very coordinated. Also, you have to put a six-month deposit down on your rent, so we did not get our deposit back.
Kyle: Yeah, that was not fun. So, we’re hemorrhaging clients and my brother who does web design and development was like, “Why did he take these four? I can do these four projects,” and we had just started doing SEO for recurring income. We didn’t have SEO people, but we had SEO clients, so that I could pay my own rent the next month, I had to learn SEO that day, and that’s basically what I did. So that I could actually have clients and pay my own rent. I had to then learn the job that I had already tasked to other people and to keep those clients.
Spencer: Where do you go to learn SEO in a day?
Kyle: That’s the thing. I’ve told this joke before, but you search online “is this a ranking factor?” and you get three answers that say yes, three that say no, and three very learned answers that say maybe. You realize that that’s not the way to learn SEO. That’s an impossible way to learn SEO. What occurred to me is that people are running their own test, so that must be what they’re doing. I started putting up test sites to run real quick because we can’t test a client site. That’s what I started doing is running my own test.
It was 2015, I think, when I had my first public speaking opportunity. I spoke on setting up an SEO test and it was a room of very high level SEOs. I assumed that that’s what they were doing. I was going to maybe give a couple of insights or maybe a couple new twists. I realized that nobody is doing that. Nobody is running SEO tests. A lot of it is just experience more so than anything. They aren’t going out and finding out what is.
That’s when I realized, “Oh, I got something here. The people aren’t doing these sorts of things,” because setting up an SEO test is not easy. It’s not fun, you make tons of mistakes, and most tests don’t work. Then I realized, the education that I got by doing these tests, I’m actually onto maybe a better way to do SEO. All the tests and all that goes into my agency, but then that’s also the genesis of POP as well. It’s based on those on-page tests like what is a ranking factor, what isn’t, and how can we evaluate that.
Spencer: It’s a super interesting story of you evolved. Not even being involved in SEO at all to becoming an advanced SEO tester, coming out with tools that help, and having an agency. I do want to talk about some of the tests here in a little bit that you’ve run and how to run tests, et cetera, but first can you just catch people up to what you are doing now in terms of what is your business? Are you running some of your own sites? Or you’re only working with clients? You mentioned Page Optimizer Pro. Give us a sense of your overall business and what’s involved there.
Kyle: The main source of my income is still my agency. I’m in Phoenix, we have an office in Phoenix, we have an office in Berlin (which is our main office), and we have an office in Melbourne. We’re actually an Australian company, but the Melbourne office is actually the least staffed of all the places. Berlin is our main location. We have 80 clients doing local to national and international SEO. Everything in between, we have about 16 employees.
It took me a while to realize what a real company was. There are stages of a real company. When you start off and you have two clients, I think that’s a well-paying hobby, but when you get to the point that you’re taking a salary. Business fluctuations always happen, where you have more clients, you have fewer clients, but when you’re at a point when you can take a salary and it doesn’t matter if you gained or lose a client that month, that’s when I start to realize that I think we’ve got a company here. When people are working for you exclusively and not just of VA-type of person, but somebody that they are now considering as their job and their vocation.
The next real step was now we have insurance that if I were to die, the company actually gets money to replace me. You go through stages of what might be a real company. I think we’re at a point that we actually have a real company. That’s liberating because then that allows me to pursue other things that I’ve wanted to pursue. Mostly, all my focus is on POP (Page Optimizer Pro), but we’ve actually then started acquiring digital properties.
There’s something that I’ve always thought about doing everything about doing affiliate, but I had the agency and that was so much of my time, I couldn’t imagine running another website. But now that I’ve done the agency to a point that I can really step back a bit from I’m not doing the day-to-day running of the company. I’m in strategy meetings, which is great. It’s all that, but somebody else is actually then doing that implementation, that’s actually allowed me to get into, because I always feel like, “Why aren’t you doing your own sites?” I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t have time.”
I’m building out an agency, and now, I actually have the time. But I had a thought about affiliate in that I don’t want to play somebody else’s game, where I’m doing some form of an affiliate thing where I’m battling other affiliates, I’m battling Amazon, battling other things. I’m pretty good at building a software business and I realize that I can create small SaaS sites.
That’s actually what I’ve been doing for the last six months, is I’ve built two smaller SaaS sites and they’re going to launch in a couple of weeks. But taking the idea of affiliate where you can have properties that you own that are income properties, but doing something slightly differently. I think this might be the next era of affiliate, is in small-scale SaaS.
The concept is to solve one problem. Solve one problem that somebody would pay $20 a month for that problem to go away. You’re not building POP, you’re not building out a massive tool. It doesn’t have to be in digital marketing. It can be anything combining two tools together, basically doing a glorified ZAP. Something where somebody has a spreadsheet that they’re dealing with and then you can just do one thing that will make their lives better. It could be industry-specific. In law, education, engineering, or whatever.
Then you solve one problem then somebody like, “Yup. Here’s $20. I don’t want to do that anymore.” If you can get 100 people to pay you $20 a month, that’s $2000. It’ll probably cost you $300-$400 to run the site and a $20 promise probably between $5000-$10,000 to build. At the low end, you’re ROI-positive in four months. Then you got an income property from there to go. If it takes off, then that’s great, if not, if it stays at that 100, that’s fine. You’re clearing $1500 a month.
That’s what I’ve been focusing on, is finding those opportunities. I’ve got two that I like a lot. That’s what I see myself doing in terms of smaller properties that I own, is to get these things. […] is a big thing. You don’t advertise for that 100. You need to be able to tap into a 100 people word-of-mouth. Basically, you tell somebody, then they tell somebody, and people are like, “Yes, this is exactly what I need,” without having to do some massive marketing campaign to educate the market. You need some way to tap into whatever that market is, through word-of-mouth.
If you can do that kind of strategy, you could start building out several types of these properties and then get out of the mainstream affiliate game. Now you play a game that it’s your own rules because it’s a market thing that you are in. You control the whole market, you’re solving this one problem that other people aren’t.
Spencer: I love it. That brings up lots of thoughts and questions for me. Are you willing to share what your small SaaS ideas are that you say you got a couple or are you going to save that till you actually launch those?
Kyle: I can tell you. One is actually from my law days. I was actually talking to a lawyer that I know. He was talking about a brand new form that is a real pain in the ass to fill out. It sucks. He said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just input this information to one spot, then just click and it would print out the form?” and I was like, “Well, I can do that.” It’s a glorified form fill.
We’re going to launch it and because it’s law and lawyers will pay a little bit more, I think we can do $50 a month for this. If 20 lawyers (and it’s just one jurisdiction) do it, that’s $1000 a month. We built this whole thing for about $4000, so that it looks pretty. That’s nothing if it takes off and 100 lawyers are doing it, that’s not a bad income property at all. That’s only one jurisdiction.
The thought is if it takes off, then we can do different areas and continue to grow. In law, it goes state-by-state. You have to pass the bar exam and it goes state by state. Each state probably has a similar version of this type of form and we could just expand out to those states that have that.
Spencer: To market the product, you talked about word-of-mouth, but would you take an SEO approach? Just build out a site and try to rank for keywords that are related to whatever keyword somebody might be typing in?
Kyle: Sure, but again, you have to get to that MVP word-of-mouth thing. I know lawyers. And then also, the lawyer that was like, “Hey, this idea, we’re JVing on it,” but he knows at least 100 lawyers. The concept of getting to that minimum threshold. That’s what we’re going to do. He set up a little lawyer meetings. He’s going to run a few of those to get to that minimum point.
At this stage, I don’t want to spend any more money out-of-pocket. The tool needs to sustain itself. Once we get that minimum number of people and it is a viable thing, that’s when I would then start investing in SEO, in PPC, or those other market channels. But the tool has to be self-sufficient. I’m not going to continue to throw money at it unless it can take off on its own. If it takes off on its own, then that’s where the investment comes in.
Spencer: I love it. It’s just another example of how you like to think differently. You’re looking at how I can build a little website to earn some money. A lot of people out there are building niche affiliate websites. Everybody is doing that, everybody is writing articles on the best whatever products that Amazon sells. You’re thinking, “How can I do this differently to build a small business?”
That comes back to how you do SEO and how you approach SEO as well. You’re trying to take a step back, actually dive in, do some tests, and see what actually works, instead of, “Here’s what everybody says works.” How do you go about running an SEO test? And maybe how could somebody that’s listening run their own SEO test?
Kyle: It’s devilishly simple to run an SEO test, but you run to a lot of issues. The easiest way to do it is you create five identical pages. They’re in the same domain. You get them to index and you optimize them for a fake keyword. A keyword that does not exist in Google’s index.
I don’t know if you’ve ever typed something into Google and it says, “We did not find any records that match this.” That’s where the sidewalk ends. Google doesn’t have that term. If you optimize pages to that term, you control the entire environment. That’s the idea.
Index five pages, they’re all in Google's index, and then change one thing on one page. Typically, I’ll choose the one that is indexed into the number three spot. Change one thing on that page and then if the page moves up, you have found a positive factor, if it moves down, you found a negative factor, and if it doesn’t move, then it’s a nonfactor. That’s the easiest way to do where things run into promise is you need the test to be repeatable.
You need to run that test 3-5 times. You need to get the same results. When you feel good about that, where it gets a little more complex, is you need to run the test in the inverse. You should get the opposite result if you tweak one, two, four, and five, and leave three the same, if you get the opposite result of what you got.
Once you’ve done that and you feel really good that you have found a ranking factor, it’s a moment in your life where you’re to feel like you just created fire, you just invented it, and you now know something about Google that nobody else knows. It’s an empowering feeling and you can then see from a position of authority because you didn’t read a blog in Moz, you actually witnessed it happen, you created it, and now you know that that is now a ranking factor.
Spencer: Over the years, you’ve run a number of SEO tests. What are some SEO myths or what were some big aha things for you on some of the tests that you’ve run, maybe myths that have proven wrong?
Kyle: The thing that I’m making the most hay out of continually is that Google cannot read. Google is not a human being. It’s so powerful and it’s so amazing. It’s perhaps the most powerful thing ever invented, but it is not a human being. It’s an algorithm. Because it’s so powerful, we want to give it human qualities. We want to say that because it’s perhaps smarter than our combined knowledge, we want to then think that it’s also a human being, and then it would read and understand things the same way that we would, and it simply does not.
One of the interesting things is that grammar is not a ranking factor, spelling is not a ranking factor, reading level, the Flesch-Kincaid scale or whichever scale you like, those are not ranking factors. It seems counterintuitive to a lot of people when they think, “Well, this is the smartest thing that’s ever been. How can it not see that this content is good content?”
It’s clearly better content than what’s there and it’s because Google isn’t reading it. It’s reading it the way an algorithm would read and it’s looking for math, it’s looking for things that it can identify, objects that it knows, it’s putting them into little buckets, and then scoring things that way. It’s not actually sitting down like, “This is much better content than that content, I should rank this one.” It can’t value judge content, it can only score it based on a way that an algorithm can score it.
That has been one and continues to be one of the ground-breaking things. I have to reintroduce this concept to people constantly, that Google can’t read. When you want to write your content, it doesn’t matter if you just wrote Chaucer compared to somebody’s Calvin and Hobbes. Google doesn’t care. It doesn’t care that your content is vastly superior because it can only look at the way an algorithm can look at it.
If somebody else’s content satisfies the algorithm better, they will win. It doesn’t matter what their site looks like, it doesn’t matter how many grammar errors they have, or how atrocious their spelling is. They will beat it because they have satisfied the algorithm. That’s the whole point. That’s what it really comes out to. Good content is content obviously you need to convert and get users to enjoy it, but really, what it comes down to is good content is that it satisfies the algorithm.
Spencer: Follow-up question. How do we determine how the content or what part of the content is fulfilling the algorithm? Are we talking about the number of keywords used, related keywords, et cetera? What is important if good grammar and all these other things that mentioned are not important?
Kyle: There are very specific signal areas that Google looks at. The meta title, your H1, those are the two biggest. And then paragraph content. But then even down to […] of bold and italics. Those things are counted. Really, what it comes down to is the secret is hiding in plain sight. Google is showing the sites that it likes. Keep in mind that it didn’t like them because it’s a popularity contest or a beauty contest. It likes them because these are what its algorithm wants.
You can go into each of those specific signal areas and count how many times they have used the target keyword. You can count how many times they have used variations of that keyword. You can count how many times they’ve used contextual terms, LSI, if you like that term. You can count that. And then you can actually put it in and give Google the site that it wants. You can find the range the Google’s rewarding for each of those signal areas, give that to the algorithm, and then you will rank very well.
Spencer: Is this essentially what you discovered and why you created Page Optimizer Pro?
Kyle: That’s what we were doing internally when I was running these tests. I realized, “Oh, we can just count these areas.” We actually had spreadsheets for a couple of years where we literally just sat down and counted. We look at the top 10 results and we would actually just count it. We’re like, “This is awful.” We knew there had to be a better way.
We got into Python, we wrote a script for this, we are doing internally, and then I casually threw it to a couple SEOs that were agency people. I was like, “Do you find this viable?” I was like, “We’re kind of crushing with this, but I don’t know. Will other people be able to use this?” and then I was like, “Please give that to me.” That’s where POP came out.
We ran POP for eight months or so for free. It was on the back end of our agency site where you can just put in some information and we would actually email you a report. Then, we started taking a dollar per report when we launched it as a standalone site, and now we’re into a subscription model from there.
You don’t need POP. You don’t need any tool. You can actually count these things, but what POP does is that it actually does the counting for you and then makes suggestions on, “Okay, these are what the numbers look like from what Google likes. This is what your site is, you can add or subtract from here.”
Spencer: Can you explain anything else that Page Optimizer Pro does? I assume you punch in a keyword that you’re trying to rank for, and it pulls in the top 10 results and pulls back the keywords there or how many times they’re mentioning this specific keyword, keyword variations, LSI terms, et cetera. What else does it tell you?
Kyle: Those are the big things. We are tapping into Google’s NLP API now. That’s the only API that we have. Everything inside POP is internal, but we do pull that in so you can actually see entities, content, and classifications. You can choose your competitors if you want. I will recommend the top 10, but you can put in any competitor. You could actually do one-to-one. “This competitor is kicking my ass. What are they doing?” You actually just put them in and get all their data.
We pull on the entities. How Google classifies the content and what the entities are, entities are things, for some place, object, and in Google’s case, events that Google can identify. We also pull in the page structure. If you’re starting a page from scratch, this is actually how I do my SEO. I look at what kind of page Google wants. You can see that from the pages that it’s rewarding. Look at things like, “How many images do we need on here?” “We need five-ish.” So then, I’ll start to place five on a page. “How many […] we need?” “They’re averaging about 5-7. Okay, I need about 5-7 sections on this page.”
I start to outline a page based on the structure and then you end up with a page that Google likes. But then, you also end up with a page that humans like because this isn’t usually the first time that somebody’s done that search. They’re looking for a particular type of page. You don’t want to try to teach Google or humans what the best page is. You want to give them what they are expecting, so you can outline a page around elements, around things that then would create a good structure.
We also just launched a medic or EAT evaluation. We’ve got around 70 data points of what might make a site trustworthy, things that an algorithm can identify. That’s been my funnest point. Again, Google can’t read. Google can’t look at Dr. Axe which famously got slapped. That is a very beautiful man, that is a great looking stock photo. I don’t know if that’s a real person, how can an algorithm know if that’s a real guy? You can read the site and be like, “Oh, this is pretty legit,” but it’s because you’re reading like a human. Algorithms can’t do that. It sees an image, it sees text, it needs to know who owns the site.
Go to Dr. Axe and tell me who owns the site? You don’t know. I promise because I’ve gone to look, but please go and take a look. Who owns it? If you have a problem with the advice that you followed, where do you go? Who can you contact? They have a form, like a contact us fill out form and one email address. There’s no difference between that site and a horribly put together affiliate site. There are data points on sites that an algorithm can look for, to find, is this an actual site? Is this a trustworthy business? Put Dr. Axe into Factual, which is a data aggregator and it doesn’t come up with any data. That’s a bad site.
Within POP, we identify these data points of things that an algorithm can find, that would make the site trustworthy, and then you can actually look and see how you compare against your competitors.
I think this is important in the affiliate’s face because really, you want to make sure that Google thinks that you’re an actual site, that you’re an actual company, that if somebody has a problem, that they can actually contact you if something goes wrong, how can they get a refund, or the wrong product was shipped. Those kinds of things that always come up, they want to make sure that the sites that they’re putting into search results can solve those problems.
You’re in a position to do. It’s not a fly-by-night company. They won’t do that. Though there are things you can go through to look to see, “Am I a real site? Well, Google thinks I’m a real site.” We put that into POP as a test that you can do or a check that you can do to make sure that within your niche that you’re hitting the same trustworthy points than your competitors are, the ones that are ranking.
Spencer: When you work with most client sites, do most of them have a bigger on-page problem or an off-page problem? Link building-related problems when you look at those.
Kyle: That’s a great question. Honestly, everyone’s on-page is terrible. It is awful because they wrote it like this is the best content. I’m sure that it is. I’m surprised that Pulitzer hasn’t contacted you at this point. But Google won’t care. Unless you’re hitting the points that Google wants to see, it does not matter how great that content is.
There’s also a supreme lack of proper internal linking on most sites. What most people do is they write one page of what they consider great content, they send it off into the universe, and then they ponder for a minute why it’s not ranking. Then I think their next thought is, “Let’s write a blog post.” They write a blog post, and it’ll be an amazing post. But who cares? It’s not even linking back to the target page. Like, what are you doing? You’re hoping and praying that Google likes this target page for some reason and gives you bonus points for a blog post that you wrote. How could Google possibly make the connection? We had the rules on the same domain, but what’s the connection between these two? For some reason, a lot of them don’t even think to link between them.
On-page and internal linking is always a problem. You always hear the, “I’ve done everything. I’ve done everything and it’s not working.” I’m sure you as an expert look at it and you’re like, “You’ve done nothing. You haven’t scratched the surface of the foundation yet.”
This is what my talk is going to be about in 2020, is the I’ve Done Everything. But they haven’t and then I’m wondering is it because they don’t want to or is it because they don’t know what to look for? I think it might be the bigger issue. It comes with experience, it comes with study, it comes with testing. You have to know what to look for foundationally in order to be able to see a problem and if you don’t have that knowledge or you don’t know what to look for, you’re never going to see it. That’s what I’m playing […] as a talk concept.
Spencer: I think it’s a little bit of both in terms of I’ve done everything that some people maybe don’t know, but I think a lot of people know that still don’t do it simply because they feel like they’ve got the big stuff done. They did the keyword research, they wrote the article, they got the images, they got it up with their affiliate links. It’s a ton of work to get a great-looking article up. Then they go, “Phew, I’m done. Let’s move on to the next one.” Specifically with internal linking, they just either forget about it, I think they probably know, but it’s not the big stuff. It’s a little thing that they’ll get to at some point. That’s maybe the sense that I get.
Kyle: It’s the grind that you have to do and the grind isn’t sexy.
Kyle: Getting their article up is sexy. I can see that.
Spencer: Internal linking is a big part of what I’m doing right now. I actually don’t know if you know, but I just launched an internal linking WordPress plugin called Link Whisper a few months ago. You can check it out later. It helps speed up the process of doing internal linking.
I’m always curious to hear about thoughts on internal linking and the importance of it. Do you have a specific approach? Do you try to keep a silo structure? These articles in one specific category only link within that category. Or you more of the opinion that if it’s relevant across the site, just internally link to it, it’s important?
Kyle: These soft balls. I love this interview.
Spencer: That’s what I do best.
Kyle: For those listening, we did not coordinate any of these. If you’ve been to those interviews where it’s just tedious to get answers and questions out, whether on either side of it, is just the worst. Just the worst. This is great.
This is actually something that I teach. It’s a virtual silo structure. The concept is you can have a lot of pages on your site. They can link here and there, and that’s fine. But when you have a target page—by target page, I mean something that you want to show up in Google—you want this page to rank for this keyword and its friends. You need to have pages that you have consciously chosen to support that target page. It has to be an intention. It’s not wishful thinking, it’s not random internal linking. These 3-5 or whatever the number might be are there to support this target page. That forms the basis of your silo.
The idea is that those pages that you have constantly said, “These are my silo pages. They will only link to each other.” I don’t disenchant them, but I link them like an ABCD sort of thing where they link back and forth to each other, almost like a next and previous, but done intentionally in the body content. Then they all link to the target page. They don’t link to any other target page because I’m building them with the idea that they support that one page.
What’s nice about doing a virtual silo is that it doesn’t matter where they live on the site. They can be in any blog category, they can be pages, they can be posts, it does not matter. Unlinking them within the body content and specifically targeting one target page. These silo posts support that page.
From my human perspective, these are just regular pages on the site. It does not matter. But from Google’s perspective, I now have these targeted pages that are now internally linking to by these silo pages linking to my target page. What I like to do is those silo pages are often things based up that I know that I can get links to. Things that are shareable, things that people might actually want to link, because if your target page is something, a page where you’re selling a product or a service, nobody will link to that. Why would they? They’ll tell you […].
But if you wrote good content (for lack of a better phrase) about it, like how to’s, things to avoid, tips on this, cool infographic, or a video series, whatever is easy for you, people will link to that. They will actually share that. It links but it’s also they got to think that you could use this as part of an outreach. Remember that that piece is only supporting one target page, the links that you get in and the internal link that you specifically done, will then pass the juice up to where you need it to go.
That’s how I handle my internal linking, is through very intentional, very conscious, very specific pages that I’m going to use to link to each other, then to my target page only, and then I like to do it where it’s not just willy-nilly, it’s a page that could actually get links to it because it’s something that people want to link to, it answers a good question.
The people also ask their niche forms and just answer that question. It also ranks on its own (usually); you could do that. Just some long-tail question where you only need to put in the meta title and the H1, it will rank and just answer it. Also, you’re getting traffic into your silo because people search, they look for that question, they click on your thing and then all of a sudden, now you are getting traffic. If you properly link, now, they’re going up to your target page because you, “Hey, check this out, this is the thing that solves that problem.”
So don’t fake it, but be intentional is how I handle it. If you’d actually do real content to support that target page, all the better. You actually end up with an effective SEO strategy, an effective marketing strategy.
Spencer: The one question you brought up that I think you answered, but maybe you can clarify is that the reason that you don’t link out from those silo pages to any other pages, specifically you’re only linking to your main target page, target keyword there is really just so that all of the link juice flows to that page. You could internally link to some other page outside of that silo, it just would dilute the SEO juice a little bit, right?
Kyle: That’s exactly right. It’s not your entire site. It’s not your entire blog catalogue. I do them in sets of three because that’s manageable when you’re putting […], but pick three pages. If you don’t have them yet, then those are the three that you’re writing, that’s your task for this month is to write your pages, but it’s possible they already exist on your site.
More often than not, they do throw them into something like Ahrefs and find your blog post that have accidentally gotten likes. That’s a power page for you and you can instantly pass the juice to a target page. It doesn’t have to move. A concept that a lot of people miss is that by placing that link in the body, you have created a virtual silo. So it can still live where it lives. But you’ve moved it virtually into a silo by reworking how the internal links structure works within the body.
Spencer: Right. That makes perfect sense. Are there any SEO tests that you’re doing right now? Do you have any live test that you’re trying to learn and determine what works?
Kyle: I recently started a series on images. James Dulley, I don’t know if you know him.
Spencer: A little bit familiar, yeah.
Kyle: Nobody’s doing any work on images. I was like, “Who cares?” But he was […] that there’s a lot to it, there’s a lot of industries where images get a lot of searches and a lot of clicks. And he was like, “How can we show up better in image search?” I was like, “Oh, that’s a great question. I have not thought of that.” So, I started doing some image search type things. I have two that I’m about to publish and honestly, my mind went blank on what I’m about to publish. That’s not good.
Spencer: That’s not right.
Kyle: As soon as I get some new traffic, so maybe they were working the other way.
Spencer: Maybe so. It sounds like you’re constantly testing and learning. Is that part of your agency? Are you guys always just thinking about what are some additional things that we could be testing out and helping clients with?
Kyle: You know what, that’s actually a great point. A lot of tests that we get to actually come from a client question. There’s no point in having an opinion about something. Really, anything is testable if you think about it the right way. One of the reasons that people don’t like tests is because they can’t imagine how to test it. That’s just a lack of imagination, that something is not testable.
Depth into your site, how many folders deep should you go, and does that matter? Actually I put this up and you can see it for free in Internet Marketing Gold, which is a group that Ted Kubaitis and I, and also my business partner, Andy, started. The idea is if I have .com/category/page that I want to rank, will that do better than .com/category/subcategory/page. It is how deep can you go and does Google care?
A lot of fun is launching two identical pages and then watching it where the one that was closer to the .com indexed immediately, the one that was one folder deep took almost 48 hours more to index. And then the one that is close to .com always beats the deeper one. Always.
Again, we’re talking about running a test multiple times. This is a little bit of a trickier test because you’re launching two things, but you have other variables that come into play. You have to run it multiple times and you scatter plot it is how you want to do it, scatter plot the results. The one that’s closer to .com will always win. It’s very interesting. You can launch the deeper one first, you wait a day, you launch the second one, or launch the one closer to .com, it’ll index before and will win.
Google doesn’t want to crawl deep into sites. This test concept came from we’re doing the site redesign. Our web design guy wants to do this and we saw these URLs were massive. I was like, “No, that’s an awful idea. You don’t want to go that deep. You don’t want to take the page that’s ranking and put it that deep.” And he said, “It doesn’t matter because of internal linking.” I was like, “No, I don’t think that’s how that works.” You can run those tests.
People get in flame wars on Facebook which is cancer, by the way. They want to argue about things in SEO. I’m always like, “Why argue about it? Why not put your heads together and run a test on it and see? Let’s take a look.” It might take a little time. Tests take time and we’re talking weeks or months, but you can sit down, be like, “Let’s sort this one out,” rather than argue about something that doesn’t need to be opinion-based. It can be fact-based. And the worst case, you can do a case study. There’s a lot that you can poke holes in a case study about, but still, at the end of the day, you’ve got something to look at. That’s where a lot of tests come from, where actual practical things. Should we do this or that? Let’s run a test and figure it out.
Spencer: That’s what I love is that you’re willing to dive in and when a client has a problem or you have a question, yeah, you just are running a test to figure out what the right answer is and actually base decisions on data rather than speculation. I think that’s super important, especially for people building out their own sites. They can certainly learn from you and from others that have done tests, but if they have a question on their own, you’ve explained pretty well how people can set up their own test and run an experiment on their own.
Kyle: One thing I would notice, don’t […] on a site that you love, by the way.
Spencer: Yeah. That’s probably a good point, definitely. Yes.
Kyle: Things go horribly, horribly wrong. Burn down something else. Some people are doing affiliate sites. I would always think that wouldn’t it be a good idea to run two affiliate sites? One that’s like your tester and the other that’s your baby and that’s what you love. So that you can run the tester and when people say, “Oh, this is a new technique,” or a new thing, do it on the tester. If it burns it down, well then it burns it down. They didn’t harm the thing that you love the most. It feels like a lot of people run one site without that backup way to figure out and then they are just running tests on that site. When they see a new technique or they see something […] one site, why not have two?
Spencer: Yes, I think that’s a great idea.
Kyle: Run a small one on the side so that you can do these techniques. Some things sound like great techniques and it’ll be worth doing, or split testing A or B, or running different offers, or testing out an email campaign, or testing out split testing PPC or Facebook Ads […] do it on the tester. See what works cheaply before bringing a two to one that’s actually giving you revenue.
Spencer: Right. Have your own sandbox so you can test it out and see what works and see what doesn’t. Absolutely.
Kyle, I want to thank you for coming on the podcast. You’ve shared a lot of information. I think there are a lot of tips that people can take and apply to their own sites as well. If people want to follow along with what you’re doing, where would you like to send them?
Kyle: Come over to internetmarketing.gold. That’s a site that we’ve launched and it’s really just a place for answers. You can come in, post questions, and get things answered. It really is what comes down to. It’s based around the test that I do and the test that Ted Kubaitis does. There is a premium section if you want to look at the test, but if not, there is so much in the free area. We just relaunched this week, too. It’s a brand new thing, you can join in, and honestly, I think you’ll just learn about SEO, you’ll learn about digital marketing.
Spencer: Excellent. People can go to internetmarket.gold if they want to follow along with Kyle. Once again, thanks again for coming on the podcast, Kyle.
Kyle: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Spencer: Thank you once again for listening to the Niche Pursuits Podcast. As a reminder, this episode has been sponsored by Ezoic. Ezoic is a Google award-winning technology that everyone from niche website owners to major brands use to grow and monetize their websites. Ezoic is a Google-certified publishing partner. It’s a platform that leverages artificial intelligence to help you optimize revenue and monetization on a per visitor basis and so much more. If you want to check out Ezoic, go to nichepursuits.com/ezoic. Thanks a lot.
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