What Steve Wiideman Has Learned Doing SEO Since 1999: SEO Consulting, eCommerce SEO, and Affiliate Marketing

By Spencer Haws |

Today, I'm excited to share with you an interview I did with Steve Wiideman from

Steve has been in the SEO industry since 1999…a dinosaur in internet years!  His first job out of college was doing SEO and search engine marketing.

So, Steve brings all of his SEO knowledge and experience to the podcast today.

In particular, we discuss how his SEO consulting group is working with clients doing local SEO, eCommerce SEO, and much more.

During the interview we discuss specifically how the Wiideman group helped Bob's Watches:

We also discussed his view on affiliate sites and how it relates SEO. 

Steve is also a professor at Fullerton college and UCSD where he teaches SEO and online marketing. 

He's put together lots of video materials that he is giving away for free.

If you want to get free access to Steve Wiideman's SEO videos you can go to  Use coupon code SEOSteve to get free access.

Get Academy of Search for Free

Free Access with Coupon code “SEOSteve”

If you'd like to follow along with Steve, be sure to head over to:

Watch Entire Interview with Steve Wiideman

Read Transcript

Hey Steve, welcome to the niche pursuits podcast.

Steve Wiideman: What's up, Spencer, how are you doing? I'm doing really good.

Spencer Haws: It is great to connect and connect with an SEO veteran. You've been in the industry 

Steve Wiideman: for a long time. 

Spencer Haws: I do what I can and to know, but some of our listeners, maybe aren't aware who you are. Right. So why don't you give us just a quick background, who you are, what you've been involved with professionally.

Steve Wiideman: Of course. Yeah. So I started in digital, around the late nineties. I was freelancing doing some web design work for friends and family members. And. Really discovered a passion for it. One of my jobs, my I, my day job at IBM global services was to migrate data from what was going to printers and mail rooms to be online.

And I had this epiphany. I'm like, you know what? I'll bet every business is going to have a website at some point, you know, and we're talking late nineties, there were some sites didn't even exist yet. Google didn't even exist yet. And so, you know, I had that epiphany, I went back to school. I got a degree in e-business management.

You got to learn everything from database networking, graphic design, and pulling it all together through project management. And my first job out the Gates, my first professional job out the gate was as a search engine optimizer for a local. it's more at the time it was more of a national, but I had a, brick and mortar location for monitors and that sort of thing.

And what year was your first job? Oh, geez. That was professionally. It was probably 2004, 2005. Okay. So before that I was just freelancing and going to school and, yeah, so 2000. Late 2005, I get a phone call saying, Hey, this this little company ran by a mouse, wants to hire you to manage paid advertising with this Google ad words and, and MSN ad center thing.

You know, could you, could you see if that's something that's a good fit for you? And I'm like work for Disney? That'd be amazing. So, I ended up actually being the STM account manager for, marketing and commerce marketing, you know, new Nemo ride grad night, commerce tickets, packages, reservations, and a new brand that they created called to adventures by Disney.

And that was an all flash website that couldn't even be crawled or, you know, with no pages to index, there's just a Swift file. So, you know, my, my role there, was mainly paid and I convinced my manager to give me a shot at this SEO thing. he, wasn't very impressed that I ranked number one for.

Orange County SEO expert. And he said, tell you what show me that you can rank for SEO expert and we'll talk. And so three months later after creating my SEO expert page and doing some promotion for it, adding video, getting some links to it. I'm on the first page. I'm like, like, Hey Terry, check it out.

I'm on the first page of Google for SEO expert. Let me do some SEO on these websites. And, and it comes back and goes, well, you're not number one, few months later, I got the number one spot. I held it for 12 years, until I realized that my peer group and you know, that the community thought that it was bragging.

And I got blacklisted from a lot of speaking opportunities. the moment I dropped that some three years ago now. now I, I get the most amazing adventures with some of these peers that, that, before I thought I was just this guy that bragged about being number one for SEO expert. And now I get to go camping with these amazing friends and it was so worth it.

So that's interesting. 

Spencer Haws: So you think people didn't like you because you ranked number one for SEO 

Steve Wiideman: expert. And in fact, I, I saw lots of hate and blog posts and things back in the day that. It's like, you don't even know me. I, a few times I actually found the contact information of the people who wrote things about me and I'm like, Hey, let's, let's talk for a few minutes.

So you get to know who I am, you know? And then afterwards they post this guy actually had the audacity to call me. And, but it turns out he is actually a pretty cool guy, you know? 

Spencer Haws: So I think that would be a good thing if you're ranking for SEO expert. 

Steve Wiideman: Well, I would just 

Spencer Haws: ignore the haters. 


Steve Wiideman: didn't know what they were talking about anyways.

Yeah. Well, those, those haters now are my best friends and they're so supportive of me. And when I get stuck on a really difficult technical or, or contextual SEO issue there they're right there for me. So. we have some pretty exciting, amazing, you know, brands we get to work with now, a few restaurant chains, and I didn't have that peer group around me, folks that were.

Just as experienced or veteran is as you call an earlier, you know, I don't know that I'd be as successful. So I think it was worth it to, to move on from that what we're going to hold list of new keywords. We're going to try to tackle, but, I don't think SEO expert is going to be one of them. Okay. 

Spencer Haws: Well, so how did you actually end up making your first dollar online?

So you're ranking for SEO expert. Was that kind of the first way you were getting clients or. Just curious. Yeah. How did you make your first 

Steve Wiideman: dollar online? I think I started some of our own websites around 99 in 1999. I started to create some web directories. I had some web directories for, DJs and limousine drivers.

And at first it was just to help my, my friends and, and, you know, freelance clients that had those businesses. And then it evolved to something where I had people subscribing to my online directories. They pay an annual fee or monthly fee and. that was probably where I made the first dog was really just kind of creating my own line online directories.

All right. 

Spencer Haws: that's very cool. so what are all the businesses that you're involved with now to kind of catch people up? You know, you've kind of given some of the history now, but, but what are you involved with now? is it just the one business? Wait a or. Is there 

Steve Wiideman: portfolio there? I think, I think all of us, as we get started, you know, we, we get to a place after a couple of years, we own 500 domain names and we want to do something with all of them.

And we've got all these great ideas of what we want to do. that list has gone down, you know, it's probably less than 70 domains that I own now, of which I probably use 10, some of which, are projects that I worked on with, students at some of the colleges I was doing guest speaking for and some mentoring for.

but the only two sort of companies or anything that I'm doing at the moment, one is just running our small group here at Wayman consulting. You know, we've got nine employees now and. we support everything from, you know, your local HVAC company to, you know, one of the largest restaurant, casual dining chains in the country.

and the other, the other sort of role I'm taking right now is an adjunct professor at Cal state Fullerton, UC San Diego. I'm not teaching six classes at Portland community college. So when everyone else gets off the clock and they go home and eat dinner and. You know, and watch the very entertaining news right now.

no I'm being sarcastic. I'm not, I'm, I'm putting courses together and helping students and helping the next generation of SEO so that, you know, in five, 10 years from now, You know, the, the, hopefully there'll be more transparency, more ethics and more strategy and less, tactic, less, black hat and, you know, things that, that manipulate search results.

Instead, we're building good foundations on how we, you know, how we handle digital marketing. So collectively I think I have. just over about 160 students. So, you know, it's, it's, because it's an online course for digital certificate programs. Some of them are only one unit long. it's not that challenging, but there are days where I'm like, I'm not going to get home tonight.

It doesn't do things I'm doing, I'm running that demand at the moment. And, and with, wait a minute, we've got, you know, our, our training programs and our digital programs. And then I have the teaching side and the teaching side actually helps build a weight of insight. As we reinvent our website over the next month or two, it's gonna be very educational and it's going to leverage a lot of the content that I've created for the students.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. You know, I think it's very cool that you're teaching in college and the fact that there actually is a degree or courses for SEO and search engine marketing, that didn't didn't exist when I was going to college. I was actually surprised to hear that there was an E business, Degree when you graduated.

I didn't know that existed back in there, but 

Steve Wiideman: I got that postcard. I'm like really? Wow. I'm not going to say no to that. And then I saw a full sale, had a, an actual master's degree program, like, Hmm. Should I go back to school and get a master's degree? And, an e-business and I just never did. So did you graduate in, like, what 

Spencer Haws: was it?


Steve Wiideman: 2004, 2004? Yeah. Okay. All right. So, 

Spencer Haws: I hate to admit it, but I might be older than you. I graduated in 2002 and they didn't have any online business courses that I was aware of. At least 

Steve Wiideman: this was through Westwood college of technology and that's awesome. It was a tech school, but. I also had a bit of a break between high school and college.

I had, you know, three years where I served in the us army in Fort hood. and then, you know, came back and did the work grind for a few years before I went back to school. So. Gotcha. 

Spencer Haws: Very cool. So we did a brief call, before hitting record here and we kind of talked a little bit about what I'm involved with.

I mentioned that a lot of my listeners are building affiliate sites. I built a lot of affiliate sites and sort of in that discussion, you mentioned. Sorta that you don't do your, your group doesn't do a lot of consulting. I essentially asked you have any clients that are doing sort of affiliate marketing, you said no, not, not really.

and you sort of mentioned that, oftentimes, you know, affiliate sites are building a lot of doorway pages and, it's just Google. Doesn't really like that very much. It's I'm 

Steve Wiideman: paraphrasing. Yeah. A lot of, a lot of our effort is around lower funnel content. How do we drive customers? To our clients, you know, that the brick and mortars and the small stores and restaurants and some online, you know, e-commerce websites that we support where there's an actual sale or a product.

So we can actually calculate ROI. One of the. One of the things that we really enjoy is geeking out on analytics and being able to say, Hey, you invested X, thousands of dollars in SEO this month and generated X dollars of revenue. It's really to do that. Or you're really easy to do that when you have an e-commerce website or a hybrid, if you're a brick and mortar and you can place an online order, especially now during the pandemic, but can't you do that with an affiliate site to some degree?

Yeah. I mean, you could do it where you're, you're calculating and importing data back. If you're doing some. online ads to promote your, your page from an organic perspective, I suppose. Depending on how you're doing it. If you're doing it through a third-party network tying in which, which keywords generating traffic and that sort of thing can be a little more tricky with affiliate when there's not a sale on the site itself, unless you're drop shipping.

Of course job, ship's different. Cause they're still ordering on your website. I see. 

Spencer Haws: When you, when do you want to get that granular data, right? You want to see that you ranked number one for this 

Steve Wiideman: particular keyword. You want to see 

Spencer Haws: how much this particular product sold from that page. cause, cause certainly we're doing a lot as affiliate site owners, we're doing a ton of analytics, you know, cause, that is the primary driver of traffic for affiliate sites is SEO.

Steve Wiideman: Right? Right. So if you were to perform a query right now for a product, with an intent to purchase, most of the results are going to be your, your Amazons and your, you know, your online stores. if you were to do a longer sweat, so query how, where compare versus ideas, strategies, tips, lists, right?

Those are the, the, the obvious opportunity for affiliate sites to create really rich long form content. Right. You'll make recommendations within that content to, you know, to drive affiliate. We do have two affiliate clients that, that are in the medical industry and they're selling like essential oils and those sorts of things.

And, and they're doing really well because they create amazing content. They've got these great videos and like, hi, I'm Dr. So-and-so. And this is my wife, Dr. So-and-so and say, we're going to be talking about backs, the unboxing, the YouTube videos that you know, that people are looking to decide whether they want to buy a product that.

You know, the, the product review keywords that you're going after. I think there's a huge opportunity there for affiliate marketing. but our, our forte has always been focused around, you know, direct sales and, you know, we really don't have a lot of affiliate clients, but that's not to say I don't believe in it.

I think, I think affiliate's amazing. And I think any, any entrepreneur, who's not doing something to, to drive affiliate revenue. I mean our whole, our whole new website that we're launching has a section for partners and folks that we recommend where the goal is to of course have affiliate relationship there.

So you'd be, you'd be silly not to diversify your, your online income streams by not doing a little bit of affiliate marketing. Right, right. 

Spencer Haws: Yeah. No, and that's, that's good to hear just. To clarify for listeners, because most of them, that's what they're doing. You know, sort of those opportunities that you laid out said, Hey, there's great opportunities for the comparison, the reviews, the lists, the all that, that, that's exactly what I teach, and have been teaching for 10 years, right?

Is, is building these sort of niche affiliate sites. You write really in-depth content. You rank number one for Google for best XYZ product or. X versus Y product or whatever. and a lot of people built, you know, that's their livelihood, you know, people do this full-time and they're making really good money doing 

Steve Wiideman: it at the equipment in my room was supposed to because of recommendations that I found likely.

Yeah. Ended up on BNH or somewhere else. 

Spencer Haws: So just to clarify, you think Google is happy and, and they're okay. Ranking this type of content affiliates that are building this in depth type of content that we just mentioned. Shouldn't have to worry. 

Steve Wiideman: No, not at all. I think, I think where they would have to worry is if, if they were trying to compete against a very behavioral targeted query, like by purchase order right out the gate, if you're doing, you know, buy.

IPad case, you know, and, and I, I definitely encourage anyone who's listening and watching to that, to do some of these queries where they're using words like buy purchase order, reserve book, those, those types of call to actions, you know, really are conducive to somebody who's in the, I need to buy now.

They're not really interested right away to read an article. Their intent is I know what I want. I'm going to buy it. But if they're in sort of mid funnel or upper funnel, it's great. The greatest catalyst I can imagine. It's more, you know, driving income through affiliate. back my, one of my first eBooks that I wrote in the two thousands was called SEO in a day.

And I went after, is it Monety or the little how'd you call it? It's a saw you drink, right? Oh, I saw that they weren't doing any, any sort of digital marketing for themselves and I'm like, all right, I'm going to pick, I want to pick one of these MLMs and just create a, a affiliate site and show that you can do optimization and get.

traffic and revenue in a day or less. And so we went through with this whole WordPress walk through our board, a little video on how to do it and create a content was up to like, you know, 10 o'clock at night creating content. The first thing that I optimized for was the thing that I had the most trouble with.

I couldn't sign up. To become an affiliate without talking to an affiliate. I'm a tech introverted, you know, guy. I don't at the time, I didn't want to talk to anybody. So I did this search for Mondavi distributor ID, and I just wanted to set enters through your ID to sign up. I'm like, crap, I don't have one.

They don't want to talk to anybody. Five by pages into Google. I find a distributor ID and someone's thread on some other website. And so I grabbed that and the very first page I create is Mondavi distributor. I need five, six, whatever, you know. Right, right. In the title of the page. And, you know, with, within a couple of weeks, I started getting calls from mom and be like, what are you doing?

You're getting more downlines and more orders than like any of our affiliates who you working with, this, this person isn't even responding to our emails. And I'm like, I don't even know who the distributor ID was. I grabbed, I, I just, you know, I knew what I wanted. I was trying to find it and I optimized for it.

And so, yeah, four months later I'm getting checks from people who are buying this product and. so it was called STO in a day and it's totally outdated now because it was pre Google penalties, like, you know, their penguin link penalty and they're Panda content penalties. So a lot of the suggestions in there and the methods that I used to get links to the site quickly, you know, were obsolete.

But, but yeah, I love and passionate about it. Affiliate is I'm sure. All of us are awesome. Not 

Spencer Haws: very cool. So, now you're focusing more on, at least through Wiedemann group consulting. You're more focused on local companies. e-commerce companies, those, those that, you know, they're, they're making purchases either on their side of they're trying to drive foot traffic into their business potentially.

Steve Wiideman: Right, right. And part of it's because you know, it, it gives us more of a challenge. You know, when, when we get a large corporate client who comes in and says, we're on this really wonky CMS system, and we're getting beat by all these competitors, what do we do? It gives us the opportunity to really challenge ourselves.

you know, the best could that competition and really big industries and, and, and explore and pioneer new areas of search. So, you know, for one of our restaurant chains, for example, we did a study recently of some 300 local pages. You know, if you have a brick and mortar company and you've got multiple locations, you're going to have multiple pages or those locations.

And so we got to study all of those different pages and their attributes. What's the difference between one that's ranking higher and one that's not, you know, and, and in doing that, you know, we're, we're creating and we're building data and best practices and sort of the anatomy of a local landing page.

And, and that's exciting because now, now you're a pioneer now you're. You're someone who's, who's looked on as the guys who, who love to research and discover things and people will pay for the information. That's the best part is we, as we do, you know, push a lot more of our educational stuff and the road, you know, the, the, the sales part of that and how we really generate revenue is when they purchase, you know, some of the research that we built.

Spencer Haws: So I wanted to ask a little bit about that. Just kind of how, your consulting group is set up. I understand that you're not an agent agency, but you are a consulting group. So can you clarify that? And, and why is 

Steve Wiideman: that? Sure. You know, I, I didn't have a good experience in agency when I left the corporate world, 2008 or so I did two years in the agency and I was miserable.

I didn't like it. How, how agencies treated clients in general. I didn't like that. Yeah, the way that they they've really tried to have their secret sauce of what they do. And instead of being transparent, you know, when I, when I went off on my own and, you know, decided to be a freelance consultants, you know, late 2009, it was built around transparency.

Hey client, here's all the things we're going to do together. I'm gonna load it up into our project management system and we're going to work together to get it done. And they're like, wait, you're giving me everything you do. Are you afraid? I'm just going to do it all myself. I mean, you're looking at all this, so you really, you really want to do it all yourself.

Like no. So, and those clients that are DIY, they're going to figure it out one way or the other. Anyway, those people who know and trust your expertise would feel better knowing that you're their wing man. So we're, we're, we're using a model that, that allows us to, to really help. Businesses to bring in their own SEO team, their own content writer, their own technical, you know, resources managing the tech side of SEO and their, their own outreach and link building digital PR teams.

And now all the things that they're doing have the brand voice on them. And they're, and they're saving so much money. Once these resources get trained up and, and are able to do all the same things, agencies do. They get to save so much money in what would have gone to overhead and leadership and, you know, and, and, other costs.

Right? So, so we love that model because it, it, it's something that's that gives us a smaller window to work with and like, have we're going to have this fight forever, even though some clients choose to stay on with us for a long period of time, our hope is that clients are our independence and able to run on their own within a year.

And, what happens after that one year is. They say, we want to come back every six months and do a, a Delta report on our performance. And Oh, by the way, I just referred you to six other companies that we work with that, you know, that could really use your help. So it's, it's been a, it's been a great journey, but you know, when you've been, when you've been on phone calls, six to eight hours a day, sometimes, you know, clients have the right title and description tags in internal links.

It gets to a point where you're like, you know, I. I really want to do something greater. I want to do something better. I know the teaching part helps with that because now I feel like I'm getting back, but, I've got whole lots of tutorials and training and being able to take a lot of those same repetitive calls and put them into videos and put them into how tutorials.

That's that's where we really want to go. And we've worked with so many specific industries like law chiropractors, rehab centers, cosmetic surgery that we know exactly what the information architecture and site maps should be. You know, exactly what websites they need to be earning links then, because we've done it so many times.

So we're, we're repurposing a lot of, of that knowledge into sort of out of the box programs. So that clients, when they feel comfortable with it, they can bring it in house and just follow those steps and not have to worry about someday someone turning off their analytics, someday, someone taking down their website, you know, some days someone doubling their fees because they feel like they're worth it.

you know, not that I don't love agencies and you have a lot of agencies that we support and we white label for many of them. but unfortunately in the SEO world, as I'm sure a lot of people, you know, understand this it's. you know, there's, there's a lot of businesses taking advantage of naive business owners and, you know, our hope is we can build some transparency and improve the industry a little bit.


Spencer Haws: is your plan with some of this training, some of these, programs that you're creating, to, to sell those. 

Steve Wiideman: and, and that's going to be kind of the 

Spencer Haws: new, or an add on revenue stream to your consulting 

Steve Wiideman: business. I think it's the, the first step, the first step is, is building. You know, you know, a lot of enrollments and getting, getting.

as many business owners and, and their marketing teams, you know, taking some of these courses, I think the bigger picture is when they come back and they say, you know, what, what do you recommend for this particular software? What do you, what do you suggest we do about this? those types of questions when they start coming in and volume, you know, segue into referrals and they segue into affiliate relationships into much larger, you know, financial wins for us, but.

The starting point is of course, building a reputation around being a good training provider that speaking of which I know we talked a little bit before the call, on the wisdom site or you actually just go to Academy of search is a abandoned domain we created, and it takes you to our courses that, that website.

I'd love to give all of your listeners free access to the same course that mimics. my Cal state university Fullerton course that's on strategy and it includes a lot of our templates. So if you'd like visit, Academy of search and use promo code SEO, Steve, and you can take that course for free.


Spencer Haws: Very good Academy has and SEO. Steve is the coupon code. Very good. Cool. Yeah, we'll let people, check that out. I think that's very cool. This shift that you guys are making. I'd like to kind of jump into maybe a success story, a client that you've worked with that you helped, you know, did some consulting for and that they saw big results.

you know, just, yeah. Why don't you kind of walk us through maybe, an example that, you've done that can provide our listeners kind of an idea of what you guys do and some of the successes. 

Steve Wiideman: Yeah. And I, and I think we, we had talked about one of my favorites, prior to the call was our friends over at bombs watches.

You know, Paul had the safe Rolex's and he's like, what do I do? you know, and so we decided we're going to create a website and, you know, we're going to start with one, that's already been online, selling watches for a while so that we don't have to wait for Google to start trusting our, you know, our content.

we built a, a really strong information architecture, or, you know, what we call in the SEO world at a site taxonomy. we looked at all the competitors. We looked at how they were doing their content. We looked at titles, headings, descriptions. McKean inbound linking. we looked at all those different areas of search before we even launched the website.

And then when we launched, we launched with a really solid foundation. for SEO in the first year, that little safe of Rolex's idea turned into about, about $123,000 of revenue, extra revenue for a business that didn't even exist last year, they made over $40 million in sales. Wow. To have started, you know, 11 years ago almost.

Yeah, almost 11 years ago, at zero and see a company evolve where majority of their traffic comes from organic search. I see them tackle really hard categories. Like just the phrase, Rolex watches or Rolex, submariner, and Rolex yacht master to see them on the first page of those queries, knowing how competitive it is, you know, is, is probably our favorite success.

And I remember one time going in to get a watch from my wife and, you know, and I was like, Oh, I really can't afford this kind of thing. You know, I'm, I'm a digital marketer. I'm not rich. And so I, I go to Paul and I had him help me pick a watch and I'm like, so can I make payments on this thing? And, and he looks at me and he's like, your money's no good here.

And so I was able to get my wife, a Rolex for our anniversary, and didn't cost me a dime because of that case. And that was. To me, that was my own personal, you know, winners success that I had. I had helped a business so much that they just wanted to give me, you know, a very expensive watch. And that was amazing.

Yeah. So very 

Spencer Haws: cool. So it sounds like you were there on the early days. At least started in the early days. I them get online and get their site structure all set up and working properly, so it can do well in Google. What were some of the maybe specific SEO strategies that you consulted with them on?

You know, it's sort of once they have the site up and now they're trying to actually rank in Google for these more difficult terms, you know, like Rolex watches and some of the other things that you 

Steve Wiideman: mentioned, right? well, let's, let's start with technical on the technical side, you know, we have our own little technical audit that we run.

We look at page speed, accessibility. we look at user experience. We look at, privacy. Right? We want to make sure we're addressing all those sort of core fundamental areas. Page speed, mobile experience, being the most important, you know, the big pivot in 2013, when we started to move away from, you know, a desktop into more responsive and really emphasizing our mobile experience.

that was a big part of it. We had to sit down and really design out mock up what that mobile experience should look like and how we can make it as, as quick to make a purchases as possible. I think that was a big one. The other, the other thing we started to learn about was in the internal search, the search bar that was on the website.

And we started to look at how people were looking for content. And some of the quarries are really interesting. Some of them were queries such as how to find my Rolex serial number and, you know, some of, some more question-based quarries that people were asking where their intent was really to sell their watch.

And so in looking at some of that week, We started to create some really rich video content. you know, some videos have like hundreds of thousands of views. you know, how to find your role at serial number, how to find your Rolex model number, how to tell if your Rolex is fake or real. You know, we, we built a lot of content based on what we knew our users were looking for, where we knew their ultimate intent was to try to sell or, or to purchase a watch.

and that, that was huge. So, you know, creating that content and driving to the website, because it's not in an industry that, that Google restricts it on. We were able to do remarketing, bring them back to the website, get them to opt in, build our newsletter list. And now, you know, convert a lot of users through email marketing.

So it all sort of plays together. And that, that bull, you know, you know, holistic game of, of looking at inbound marketing and our entire marketing automation suite to take. All of those different mediums, including paid search and organic search and, and remarketing, and turn it into, you know, a loyalty base, that, you know, that, that becomes our customer base, that, you know, becomes the books that share all that great content when they get our newsletters and, and forward it to friends who then opt into the newsletters.

So it, it was, it was a real, there was a real fun and he's got successful accounts, driven strongly by, by SEO and, and a lot of that, that research. the other, I think the most challenging part of that business is the link side of things is, you know, links are signal for SEO. Yep. And then getting links to stores.

Isn't always the easiest thing to do. So. the business had to, you know, delegate someone on the team to be basically a relationship manager. And they, they went out and they built relationships with some of the largest, you know, watch blogs and watch forums that are out there summit at really high costs to build those relationships.

And, you know, that transcended into the referral traffic and, you know, great, you know, do follow links to the website, but that was probably the most challenging of anything is skidding. getting somebody to own that role and to hit those sites that are going to provide the most, you know, link volume.


Spencer Haws: So I glad that you hit on links. Cause I was going to ask about that, what the strategy was there, because I know it can be challenging for e-commerce sites. And so when you say they had a relationship manager and. The building the relationships with some of the bloggers was, kind of expensive or difficult, were they paying for links where they, or he just mean expensive in terms of time and energy?

Steve Wiideman: A lot of it's time and energy and effort. You know, we, when we wanted to watch reviewed, we'd have to find and wait or purchase the watch that they wanted to review and get that watch over to them. you know, in, in many cases we'd become a sponsor. on the site, just, just so that we built that advertising relationship with them first.

And then when you do go back and you say, we, we get you to review one of our watches and do something where we get a little bit, something more organic on your site. They're more compelled to say yes, you know, because they don't want to lose the advertising business, but you're not paying for the links you're paying for their relationship, you know, to, to make them feel a little bit guilty to say, no, you know, when you do ask to do something that results in more of an organic link.

But it's a football as, you know, task billing. So you just never do that. You, you, you build the relationship in the way. And then sometimes, you know, when you're, when you're doing a brand name link claiming it'll be, you know, the message will be, Hey, that's so awesome that you mentioned this. However, whenever I try to click on our, our company name, you know, it doesn't go to our, our website for people to learn more about us.

Can you, can you make. You know where our name is clickable, right? So you there's there's language that you use because, you know, everyone is learning this SEO stuff. Everybody gets part of it. And those people who are in those really competitive industries, like Rolex. you know, we'll call you out in a heartbeat.

If they get an email or a direct message, you know, with, a message that says, will you link to me? And, and those that, that are working with our competitors, we'll send that straight to John Mueller or to somebody else. You know, and then we get a manual review and that's not fun. So you gotta be careful on how you do that.

Outreach week, we use four different approaches. One is, is try to get someone to reference our content. We have lots of data, lots of charts, lots of lookup tables, lots of how tos, right. We get that referencing. We can get them to reference something. That's awesome because it helps build our authority.

Second is cross-promote. We look at similar brands in different verticals. Maybe you don't sell raw Rolex's but you sell. diamond rings or something, and it's still a luxury thing. You figure out a way that you can collaborate and promote each other, in a way that ultimately ends up, you know, getting some links back to the site and some referral traffic.

the next one is contribution where we'll go out and we'll actually contribute something. I mentioned, lending Rolex is out to, you know, these folks that review watches. You know, you send out a $10,000 watches, somebody that's, that's a risk, you know, but you're contributing because you're giving them something that they can use that results in reciprocity and getting something back.

the last one, you know, is, is the red flag is a sponsorship thing. Maybe there's, there's watch conventions that you sponsor and you get a link from that sponsors section. You gotta be really careful with that because it is still like buying a link and even more recently with, the rally equal sponsored, you know, attribute.

It's less valuable now I think, than it ever was. But, you know, we used to use sponsoring local community clubs and soccer teams and industry conferences. And now those links just aren't as valuable. Nope, no one ever links to those pages themselves. Anyway. So we, we try to focus on those three approach types, you know, They referenced the cross-promotion and the contribution.

Yeah. Yeah. 

Spencer Haws: Now those are some good tips that I think listeners can take note of and perhaps apply into their own business. what are your thoughts on guest posting? you know, it's pretty common. I think all of us, at least that have websites probably get two or three emails a day saying, Hey, I'd love to.

A guest post on your site. that usually we don't respond to, but on the other hand, I know a lot of people that do really, really well with guest posting and a lot of times that comes, you know, building a relationship, but then just saying, Hey, I'd love to contribute to your site. Is that something that you guys, implement, 

Steve Wiideman: through your consultants?

Do you think if you think you can provide add value, then it's worth it. And if you're thinking you can provide content, that's going to get linked to itself because the content is that great. And it's not just an article, you order from some crap website. Our industry's a little bit challenging because, you know, there's, there's very limited number of, you know, of a veteran SEOs that, that can rights.

content that somebody hasn't already read. I did a guest post recently for a bright local, if you do a search for how to rank in Google maps, I think it's like number four or five right now. Okay. And the, the advantage of me giving that content to them was, was it supports, helping build brand authority helps my, my personal brand.

When people see that, it's my name, my picture next to it. That that wrote the content. Yeah. It drives traffic to them, but it also helps me, because it, it mentions our name. It mentions. SEO, you know, multi-location SEO specialist, right? So, so there's lots of benefits to doing guest posting where there's a need.

If you can provide something that's genuinely like the best content for that site. Like the, you know, by local does local SEO. And for me to do a post on how to rank in Google maps, that's beneficial. But the challenge that I see is that a lot of the blog. Guest posting that I'm seeing going on is very generic.

It's very, you know, thin or it's, it's regurgitated content from other websites. And it's just not very helpful. There's no graphics, images, video. There's nothing that that's enriched media it's its sole purpose is to get a link. And I think Google has figured that part of it out. So I think guest posting where you're providing real value and you get a link out of it without asking, is creates.

I love that. But guest posting for the point of trying to get links. I think that's passe. I think if you're doing it to try to get links and you're just creating some generic regurgitated stuff that they can find anywhere, I wouldn't waste your time. It's an interesting 

Spencer Haws: discussion because a lot of people are putting a ton of time and effort into guest posting.

And, you know, I can hear my listeners also saying that well, how, how do you create something that new, that isn't being regurgitated? 

Steve Wiideman: I mean, essentially use your own data. If they're an expert at it, you have your own data. When I did. There you go. There's a good point. It was based on information that only I knew that only I researched that research that I mentioned earlier about, multi location.

A lot of that eats into the content. It's something that nobody's. seen or read or heard before, because it was data that, that, you know, I, I grabbed myself and that's why working with a lot of the brands is easier because those brands have data like public storage has tons of data about how often their customers do X, what type of things their customers are looking for.

Only they have that information and they can share that, you know, and, and create really unique content. so yeah, I get the conundrum there. It's tough. It's like, how do you come up with something that's. That's unique and original. Sometimes it takes some creativity. Maybe you use design pickle to, to come up with some graphics to make your page, more humorous or standouts or informational.

Maybe you'd go to mechanical Turk and you run a survey and you added some charts and graphs to support some of the points that you have. you know, that are in your thing. We did that when we did a post on how important our Yelp reviews, you can find that usually number two or three as well, and you'll find lots of charts and graphs, and a lot of which came from mechanical Turk surveys that I ran to see what people thought.

so I think there's, there's a lot of ways that you can create really true unique value and where you're creating concept. Remember, there's, there's three criteria to look at before you even waste your time. One is what's the likelihood of people actually linking to this page over time. By contribute this blog post.

Is it going to get buried in their feed and just eat some generic posts with the link on it? Or is this going to be something that, that, because they have a lot of subscribers and followers is going to get shared and linked to itself too, what's the likelihood I'm going to get referral traffic. You know, I'm not going to go to some car website and say, here's an article on how to rank in Google maps.

I'm going to go to Google maps website and say, here's an article. and the third criteria is going to be more around brand awareness. If I'm, if I get mentioned by goes on, on Yahoo news a week ago, and you know, we got tons of traffic and great brand visibility, but the page might not get links up its own and it might not generate referral traffic because it's an a news article.

but I get enough enough eyeballs on it on, on a very influential site that gets crawled very frequently, that it makes it worthwhile. So look at those three criteria before you guest blog posts. The likelihood of someone actually linking to this page and more people over time linking to it. So it doesn't get buried.

you know, that. Likelihood of sending referral traffic and the likelihood of it being seen by potentially thousands of people. If it doesn't hit one or more of those criteria, I wouldn't waste your time with it. 

Spencer Haws: Yeah. Those are some great tips criteria that people can follow when they're looking at doing, guest posting.

And, so maybe just to wrap up the story with, Bob's watches, you know, you gave us some great tips. I, I really liked and actually maybe a follow-up is, they. looked at the search queries that were happening on their site and were able to find some, you know, long tail keywords. You mentioned, you know, looking for serial numbers, that sort of thing.

What about people that maybe don't have, aren't getting really much traffic to their site yet. And so they are not getting that onsite search, happening. How can they find, you know, long-tail search queries, question-based keywords. What would be your 

Steve Wiideman: recommendation there? there's, there's plenty of tools you can play with the free and most obvious is just performing a search and looking at the questions that show up and the related searches at the bottom of the search results.

That's a really easy way to get some information right away. you could also use, answer the public, you know, we finally upgraded and got a paid account and it was worth it. tons of great questions. Who, what, where, why pretty little charts, you know, we usually just go to the data tab and download everything.

and then we we've brought that into the Google keyword planner to see what the real search volumes are for those search terms. SCM rush. If you're an SCM rush client, they have a keyword magic tool with a questions filter. I love that. So you go straight to the questions below. So let's say you're near promoting a, you know, a kid's toy or, or whatever you, you put in the name of that into the keyword magic tool.

You click on questions and it shows you all the questions people ask around that product. Which is tons of content for you to put on your website? Some of it's probably gonna be more H2O is on the page. Some of them might have enough volume that they create their own page. And if you're more of an enterprise brand, you've got some real budget to play with.

I would say conductor, Searchlight and bright edge, both have some really interesting tools, right. Which has the data cube. And then a conductor has their own search tool that allows you to filter into more upper funnel. So it's not just who, what, why and how, but also strategies, ideas, tips, reasons why, right.

Things like that. That, you know, go beyond just the, you know, the, the, the question words. Yeah. No, 

Spencer Haws: that's great. great tools, great suggestions for people that they can check out. so I kind of cut you off in terms of just wrapping up the Bob's watches story. I was just going to ask any final, tips, or were there any final SEO strategies that you sort of implemented that, you saw 

Steve Wiideman: fairly well for them?

Yeah. Yeah. I would say continuing to nurture the category. And product detail pages. If you [email protected] and look at those same URLs, just to see how they've evolved, paying a lot of attention to sales principles, not just keywords. we did some really interesting things when we needed to sell more watches and we created an inline little thing that comes up, not a pop-up, but an inline thing that pushes the content down and says, Hey, buy this watch in the next 20 minutes and save $500.

Okay. So some really creative things that we did once the user's been on the page long enough for us to know that they're really interested in the product, then we started to use that, that urgency and scarcity thing. The other thing you'll notice if you look at some of the attributes on the page are things like five people are viewing this and an industry like Rolex watches, where you have a specific model and type in attribute and.

you know, maybe it's certain bevel or whatever, right? Those, those are kind of hard to find and it's collector's thing. So by putting five people are looking at this right now, if they genuinely are, you know, could, you know, could really affect the psychology of the page and get them to, to impulsively, you know, make a decision quicker.

Yeah, no, there's 


Spencer Haws: great tips and strategies as well. Steve, it's been great having you on the podcast here. If people want to follow along with what you're doing, where's the best place that 

Steve Wiideman: they should go. Sure. You know, we're, we're all over LinkedIn right now. You go to LinkedIn and you know, it's a search for me by name or even our, our team that wait a minute.

we're also on, on Instagram and Twitter is Weedman. W I D E M a N. you can share anything you want to there ask questions there as much as you want. Take that free course, you know, at, at Academy of search, you know, it's, it took a lot of work and it's a six week thing that I actually teach at the college.

I think you'll enjoy that. You enjoy the templates. you know, I, I appreciate all the feedback because it is sort of genuine for this thing. So. No, please take it, enjoy it. Watch the search history, videos and, and, best practices. And if, found it useful, let me know. I'd love to get your feedback. Yeah, I appreciate 

Spencer Haws: that again.

I mean, people that are listening in that really is a huge value. I mean, you could pay for a course and go to a college and get this stuff or you could get it for free. 

Steve Wiideman: and 

Spencer Haws: so. I would recommend people go get it for free. Steve's put this great resource together at Academy of search. And so go ahead and check that out.

I think that would be a great resource, to go through, that can hopefully give you a lot of SEO strategies that you can apply to your own business. But once again, Steve, thanks again for coming on the show. Really appreciate 

Steve Wiideman: your time. Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate it. 

Spencer Haws: Thank you. Once again, for listening to the niche pursuits podcast.

As a reminder, this episode has been sponsored by egoic. Egoic 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 niche. . Again, that's niche, . Thanks a lot. .




By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

You may also like

View all

Recent Posts

View all