It’s a given, with the internet age everything is ever-changing. How does your business keep pace to make it visible? Most of all, how do you keep yourself relevant even when you are searchable?
Spartan Media CEO, Jeremy Knauff, gives us a glimpse of his expertise in digital marketing including web design, social media, and SEO. His first advice – don’t be average. Knowing that Google and social media algorithms are constantly changing and are becoming insanely complex, much effort, initiative, and thought should be applied in different aspects of your digital presence.
Jeremy adds that it’s so little about meta tags or coding, not even just about the keywords used. Today, it is more like looking into content and user experience plus a hundred more factors. In other words, you have to provide answers and not just promote business.
This episode also tackles the following:
-Is there such thing as oversharing of content when you are an expert?
-Factors that drive traffic to a website which already appears good and relevant.
-How to use data and analytics to track the quality of audience engagement.
Listen on and learn very practical and surprisingly easy to understand tips.
Jeremy Knauff is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, author, proud father, husband, and a US Marine Corps veteran. He is the CEO at Spartan Media, a digital marketing agency where we provide web design, SEO, social media, and PPC marketing services.
Their approach to digital marketing with the kind of commitment, attention to detail, and initiative that you would expect from a business that’s owned and staffed by US military veterans.
Virginia: Hello and welcome. Yes You Can with Virginia Phillips. I am Virginia Phillips your entrepreneurial coach. If this is your first time listening to Yes You Can this is where entrepreneurs get inspired and get insider tips for generating leads, creating sales, and building healthy profits. As you know, we bring on some of the best of the best and today is no different. We have Jeremy Knauff a digital marketer, an author, a proud father, a husband, and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
Virginia: I love our veterans love them, love them, love them, but here he is the CEO of Spartan Media, a digital marketing agency, where he provides web design SEO social media support and PPC marketing services. His business and his team provide the exposure that you need to build the business you deserve.
Virginia: Welcome Jeremy to our podcast.
Jeremy: Thanks for having me Virginia.
Virginia: And I know we’re are taping this early in the morning. We usually put these out on Friday mornings. So, tell me what do you have going on in your business right now to prepare for 2019.
Jeremy: Well we’re obviously keeping close tabs on everything that the search engines are doing. You know as you know they’re constantly changing constantly evolving so you have to kind of keep pace with that so that you can market your business. And in our case, our clients businesses you know if you’re not keeping up with what works and what doesn’t. Then you’re going to fall behind and really get no exposure in organic search. So that. And then of course social of course social changing constantly as well so we’re keeping tabs on basically all of these things and in the digital marketing landscape yet pack that in for us right off the bat which I love.
Virginia: So when you say we might be falling around a falling back behind in the digital marketing search area what does that mean for the average business.
Jeremy: So first of all would you talk about the average business. I want to go off on a tangent on that real quick. Don’t be average. Like you should never be the average business. But that being said for your typical business owner, somebody who like they’re out there they’re doing their thing. They’re running their business like you know you you’re doing all this coaching. You’re meeting with people, you’re helping them solve their goals. You don’t have time to keep up with these kind of things that are constantly changing. So what I see is I see a lot of these business owners these you know whether it’s a one person show or even you know a larger company. You know a lot of our clients are are significantly larger and but they’re still tied up in their day to day. They’ve got their own world. They’re dealing with. So they don’t they don’t keep up to date on these things. So they they have a lot of misconceptions about how things like this work. You know I was talking to somebody at an event not too long ago and when we got on the subject of search, he’s like, oh yeah, like you know how to do like the meta tags and stuff and I’m like that’s not really what search is like. It hasn’t been that for like 20 years. So they don’t really understand what goes into it.
Jeremy: You know it’s not you’ve got the kind of the behind the scenes aspects like the the the meta tags play a very very minimal role and like for example the keyword tag has no impact whatsoever. But when most people think of SEO they think of the behind the scenes stuff how the Web sites coded things like that. And that’s actually only a very small portion of of search today. Google’s algorithm has become insanely complex, so it’s looking at the content on your Website. It’s looking at the links from other Web sites the point to yours. It’s looking at how people are interacting with your site. Right. One of the big factors is user experience so let’s say a visitor goes to your Web site and they don’t find what they look for and they go back to Google and they’re refining their search there they’re modifying their their terms a little bit to Google that’s kind of a sign that they’re not getting what they need out of your site. So your site’s going to tend to perform worse in organic search you’re not going to show up as much in future searches. So things like that like all of these it’s really a complex system where all of these different hundreds and hundreds of factors play a role now.
Virginia: And if you are not ingrained like yourself or other experts in the field it’s really difficult for the typical business owner whether they’re the one person company or they are much bigger than that to even have any idea where to start, Jeremy. So absolutely. If we’re looking at 20 19 and we think where do we even start with our our digital marketing in our SEO. Where do we start.
Jeremy: So when you’re trying to figure out where to start what you need to first decide is is this something you’re trying to do yourself or is it something that you’re going to outsource. Right now, if you’re a brand new startup you probably don’t have the money to invest into a proper campaign. Right. Most most campaigns you’re gonna be looking at a minimum of a few thousand dollars a month. Right. And that’s outside the budget of a lot of these smaller startups you know you’ll see a lot of these so-called SEO professionals offering services and it’s you know a couple hundred bucks a month. The fact of the matter is that’s what they’re offering is either not going to get any results or it’s going to actually harm your website. They’ll be using tactics that might work in the short term but will end up getting you penalized. So if you’re on the smaller end of the budget you’re usually better off trying to learn a little bit and do some of these things yourself. Now if you’re in that boat, a publication called Search Engine Journal, which is one of the top publications in the SEO industry, they actually have a great beginners guide. I’ll shoot you a link over if you want to drop it the show notes. But Danny Sullivan and the team over there they put together a great guide. Basically this comes from all of the other top experts in the field and they’ve each contributed a chapter to it and it talks about all these individual facets of search and what needs to be done how it’s how it’s done how it fits into the overall strategic picture.
Jeremy: So if you’ve got the time and you know you’re moderately technically inclined you can do this yourself. Now that being said it is going to take a lot of time because you have both to learn the stuff and then to execute it and the execution does take a significant amount of time. You’ve got like I mentioned before you’ve got the three aspects you’ve got the on page content are the the technical factors how the Websites coded all of the behind the scenes stuff which has to be buttoned up and up to the correct standards. But then you’ve also got to write the content and that’s an area that a lot of people either are not good at or think they’re not good at. So they kind of convinced himself that they shouldn’t do it. You know you need to write content that’s going to be useful to your visitors to your target market things that are going to answer the type of questions that they have. Now, I will say that this is an area that a lot of people kind of they have the wrong approach to it. They think that well if I put this information out here then like my customers won’t need me. And that’s really the wrong approach because I don’t care.
Jeremy: You could write 10 books and you’re still only in scratch the surface on whatever it is that your specialty is. Right. Like if I wrote an entire book about search engine optimization there’s still going to be a ton of things that are not mentioned in there. There’s still going to be new things coming out all the time. So my clients are always going to need me. It’s the same for everybody else out there if you’re if you’re sharing your knowledge and your information despite how much you may share on your Website there’s still going to need you because in the real world things operate differently than you know in a purely academic sense. Right. Like if you tell somebody how to do something maybe it changes a little bit in their situation maybe it changes in their area or based on you know their target market or whatever the case may be. So don’t be afraid to share as much information as you can because what that’s going to do is aside from the search aspect is it’s also going to present you as the expert the authority on that particular topic which helps to build trust and earn those clients and then the other side of it is the links like we mentioned earlier. Now these are links from other Web sites pointing to yours but it can’t just be any links you can’t just go out and buy a bunch of links or ask your friends to link to you they have to be Websites that are relevant to yours.
Jeremy: So for example you know you mentioned you work with a lot of health and fitness folks. So maybe a nutrition blog might be a good place to get a link from or a holistic doctor or somebody that sells the what are those oils the essential oils right things like that where it would be relevant for that link to point from their Web site to yours. It also has to be authoritative. So you know if you get a link from some Website that really has no traffic it doesn’t have any links pointing to it. That’s not going to carry much weight. Whereas if you got something from say Dr. Neil Perlmutter I think it’s this name like that would be authoritative because he’s he’s a huge name he’s you know cited left and right by all kinds of publications. So that would be an authoritative link versus you know Cindy’s soccer mom blog that just started last week and then the other the other aspect of the links is that it has to be… the links have to meet Google’s guidelines so you can’t pay for it. You can’t trade services it has to be basically a natural editorial link that they’re linking to your Web site because the quality and the content is something that they want to share with their readers. Does that make sense.
Virginia: It totally makes sense and that’s why I think podcasting and being a guest on podcasts is great because you know at the end of this show I’m going to offer to put links to Jeremy on my site and it’s it’s a natural way for us to do business. He’s come on here he’s giving you all a ton of great information and I’m going to put links on my sites to him. That’s what I understand Google wants to see.
Jeremy: Absolutely and on the flip side of that you know as you’re interviewing people, of course, they’re going to link to it from their site. Right. So I’m pretty sure we’ll drop a link from our site to yours to ours to that particular episode. So that’s a great way. Which is a great reason that a lot of people start podcasts is because basically all of your guests they want to get out there and share their knowledge and experience. And then since they tend to be experts in their industry they tend to have authoritative Web sites. They’re generally going to link to your podcast site as a result of you having them on as a guest. So that’s a great way to build links to me.
Jeremy: I understand that we don’t want to completely overlook the soccer mom with the new blog because Google also wants to know we’re in touch with our are our local people and we’re in touch with those potential clients of ours. Tell us how the soccer moms blog helps us with our SEO.
Jeremy: So I look at it from a little bit different perspective. A lot of people won’t really pursue those those lower value links because it doesn’t move the needle as much right. So it kind of works on a I never can remember alogarithmic I think is the term. So basically you know these sites will say in Tier 1 are of a particular value. The next level it’s like you know 10 times that and then the next level is 10 times the second level and so on so forth. Think of it kind of in that context. So a lot of people won’t chase these lower tier links. They’ll only go after the you know the ones that are going to really move the needle a lot more significantly. And I think that’s a mistake because what you’re doing when you go after some of this lower hanging fruit is you’re getting into these sites when they’re not necessarily an authority site yet but one day they may be. So your link today may have very marginal value but a year two years five years down the road it could be really significant and not just in terms of search but also in terms of just traffic people seeing that link and clicking on it going and visiting your site which is why we really want to focus so much on the relevance if the people who are visiting that site are very relevant to your audience then when they arrive on your Web site they’ll be more likely to become a customer or at least a repeat visitor on the other side of it is you’re able to get these more easily and that creates a larger number of overall root domains link root domains linking to you. So you’ve got rather than having you know 10 very powerful links maybe you have 50 maybe you have one hundred. That creates a lot more diverse link profile makes it more difficult for your competitors to basically create the same profile and and outcompete you. Hmm.
Virginia: And it can help to create a hell of a lot more traffic and for the listeners I want to be sure that they understand that SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is a constant long term game.
Virginia: There are things that you do today that might not pay off for you for two three four or five years that if you don’t put that pin in play it’s not going to be there when you need it three or four or five years down the road in an expert like you can help us decide which pins are worth collecting and and putting a part of our SEO?
Jeremy: Yeah. And that’s that’s one of the things that a lot of people don’t realize is you’ve got all these different factors and they constantly have to be. Taken care of if you’re not doing it somebody else is going to write like you may be comfortable with your position in your industry whether that’s you know a national thing or a local thing whatever it is you may be pretty comfortable where you are. So you think well we don’t have to. We don’t have to do this because we’re like everybody knows who we are and everybody already does business with us. But there’s somebody who’s not getting that business right now who’s hungry and they’re going to put in the work they’re going to do whatever they have to do to take that business from you could be somebody smaller who’s just gonna put in the grunt work and make it happen. Or it could be a bigger competitor from another area and they’re just like well we want to come in here and dominate this market too. And they’ve got the funds to throw at it and they’re going to they’re going to displace you. So if you’re not constantly going after this you’re going to start to lose ground eventually it may not be today but it’s gonna be at some point time. I like to compare it to exercise right. Like you’re not going to go to the gym do a bunch of pushups do watch a bench press and squat whatever and suddenly be in shape and be like OK I’m all set now. It’s something you have to continually do on an ongoing basis.
Virginia: So Jeremy talk to us about why this is a a long term game why we need to be hiring somebody like you to help us decipher which which pegs to put in for the long term game.
Jeremy: So if you’re going to hire somebody the reason you’re going to do that is because they have a different level of expertise it’s the same reason I’m not going to pull my own teeth out I’m going to go to a dentist because he knows what he’s doing and I have a pair of pliers. Like it’s not even comparable. So when you hire somebody who is a professional and they know what they’re doing what you’re getting is you’re getting a fast tracked result and you’re avoiding the mistakes and the problems that can cause you harm. There was a while back an update to Google’s algorithm that was called Penguin where you know people were building links using all kinds of methods that were a direct violation of Google’s guidelines. And eventually the algorithm just came out like this scorched earth policy. And there was Web sites they got penalized. The point of the entire site was de index from Google which means even if you search for the company by name you could not find them. And a lot of these sites they were gone for years. So this ended up making a lot of companies have to just basically start over from scratch and you know some of them never recovered they ended up going out of business because of that.
Jeremy: Now some of some of this was people who were just doing their own thing. Right. In our case we did we did some sites that way. And you know with sites that we owned so it was OK we were OK with that risk because we knew what we were getting into. But a lot of people in the industry see this kind of goes back to what we talked about about the pricing and going into finding so-called professionals who are offering these ridiculous cut rate prices what they were doing is they were using these linked building tactics that were a violation of Google’s guidelines and they never told their clients what they were doing the clients had no idea the risk they were being put into. And a lot of them got screwed over because of this. So this is why you want to go to a real professional somebody who is trustworthy and has a positive reputation in the industry so that you can do things the right way so that you’ve got long term results out of it and you know you talk to us about you know getting these links and getting the content right and getting the coding right.
Virginia: And a lot of people don’t even have any clue about what coding goes into Websites. But but you see Websites is a big caveat to moving businesses forward.
Virginia: I know there are a lot of Websites out there that aren’t even generating the traffic.
Virginia: So how do you begin to get the folks generated to these Websites that have built these back links that have this content that have the right coding and I’m sure beautiful design like your staff does and you do. Thank you. How do you drive that traffic to the Websites with some of this social media that you do.
Jeremy: Well it’s you’ve got to take the same approach as anything that you’re producing whether you’re talking about a Website whether you’re talking about articles you’re publishing on your Website or on other Websites or videos. You need to think about what your audience wants. The type of questions that they need answers to and delivered in a way that they want them not just this purely promotional crap that I see people producing right. Like you see these people who are like oh we need to go out and write some articles and they’ll write articles like hey here’s ten reasons why you should hire us. Nobody cares about that. Nobody’s going to read that except the owner of the company. So all of these things you need to put the customer first put your client first make the Web site basically all about them solve their problem solve their needs and that’s true whether it’s Website design whether it’s the content you’re producing whether it’s social media so get out there and just do things that are going to really engage them. You know when we talk about social media some really good wants to look at is you’ve ever followed any of Wendy’s social media profiles?
Jeremy: Like Wendy’s the restaurant.
Virginia: No I no, I have not.
Jeremy: All right so I highly encourage you to go check it out after we get done here. They are just constantly and it’s not even about their product. That’s that’s an area where most people get it wrong. You know they’re like oh well we we have to tell people about this stuff that we have and why they need to buy it and it’s not effective. Like you’re just out there constantly being like hey you need to buy this stuff and we have the best stuff and ours is better than everyone else’s and it’s the best price or whatever you’re going to turn your customers off. What you need to do is engage with them like people. Right. Just like you would do at a networking event or meeting a friend or whatever you have to engage with them on a level that that they will actually care what it is you have to say. So if you look at Wendy’s they they have one of the funniest profiles I’ve ever seen. They’re constantly out there busting on you know everybody else Burger King McDonald’s all of these other restaurants use these food restaurants and it’s hilarious. So people follow them because of that but that creates this powerful brand recognition and people follow them and they listen to what they have to say because it’s funny it’s engaging it’s not this boring. Hey we have the best hamburgers and you know we cook our stuff this way and we do that. It’s just it’s funny. So they’re not doing it purely as a promotional aspect they’re doing it to engage with their audience. Does that make sense.
Virginia: It makes sense to me and I think that’s the piece that many of us miss.
Virginia: I hear it from entrepreneurs and business owners all the time I have to explain to them about this feature I’ve explained to them about that feature I have to do this do that explaining to them why they should buy and you need to engage first is what I hear you saying with the customers and clients and folks will engage with you if they’re entertained.
Jeremy: Entertainment is a huge way to go with that. You know it’s connecting with people on a very primal level. People like to laugh. They like to feel good. So that’s a great way to build engagement. Another way is just sharing very informative content. So whether that be producing articles that that answer questions that prospects tend to have or producing videos that are answering their questions. You know basically what you’re doing is you’re solving their needs like everything that you’re doing should be beneficial to somebody in some way whether or not they ever become a client of yours.
Jeremy: I love that some of the people that I follow you know they just they give all kinds of information to help people solve their problems. And and I don’t think they’re sitting back there wondering how many people have watched this video and how many the most folks are turning over because that video was just about them going out and giving to the world.
Virginia: Do we do we need to be tracking our stats with every single video team or post to be sure that they’re hitting the mark with engagement.
Jeremy: Absolutely. If you’re tracking the stats what that’s going to do is it’s going to tell you what kind of content is really engaging with your audience. So you know you can look at things like how many people viewed this video that I produced or how long did they watch the video. You know if they’re watching it for 10 seconds versus five minutes that tells you two very different things. So you want to look at the stats. I mean the more data that you can collect the more informed decisions that you can make. And within each of these social media platforms there’s varying levels of analytics that are available Facebook getting pretty good these days. You know on the Web site side of things you’ve got Google Analytics which. Collects a mind boggling amount of information but when you have all of this data when you’re collecting in analyzing it that helps you to better determine what’s going to resonate best with your audience.
Virginia: And when you say resonate I also think that the that we need to be focused on what the intent is is the intent engagement or is the intent engagement for sales. Because I think those are two different things and from what I understand from experts like you we sometimes need to be focused on both of them.
Jeremy: Most of your stuff that you’re putting out is generally going to be just to kind of build brand awareness and position you as you know the expert the authority in your field the sales side of it. You have to be very what’s the word I’m looking for. Just don’t be heavy handed with it. Don’t. If you’re putting out promotional messages too frequently you’re going to turn off your audience if you’re usually putting out you know funny content or or very informative content or things that are newsworthy. Then you’re going to keep an engaged audience. But if you’re constantly pushing out hey we have this great product you should buy and now here’s this sale and here’s this thing that’s going to turn them off pretty quickly. So keep it pretty minimal. The main thing you want to do here is build brand awareness. Stay on top of their mind so that when they do come to a point of making a buying decision you’re going to be the first company they think of.
Virginia: And you know I could talk to you all day dear me and about all of this. I have 80,000 more questions but I’ve looked at the time here. I want to give you a couple of minutes to talk about something that you think our listeners need to hear.
Jeremy: So this kind of I guess ties everything that we’ve been talking about back together and this applies again whether it’s search whether it’s social or even just getting out and interacting old school, face to face with people. And that’s that you need to think beyond whatever the initial thing is right. So if they’re you know they have it let’s say you’re your customers typically have a question about I don’t know say the life of your product or how does your service work or something like that whatever it is you need to think several steps beyond that. Once you’ve answered that question what do they then typically answer. I’m sorry what do they then typically ask maybe three five 10 questions whatever it is you need need to also produce content on all of those things. Now for textual content the types of things that you’re going to post on a Website like an article or you can link all of those together if you’re producing video you let’s say you answer that first question and then you know that there’s 3 5 10 other questions that are related to that. Maybe you mention some of those. Obviously you don’t want to list off 10 questions in a video because that’s going to sound a little cumbersome but maybe you rattle off three or five questions that are related to that and talk about how you’re going to produce a video.
Jeremy: You’re going to release a video on that shortly and then basically you tie all these videos together. You do the same thing with podcasts. So all of these things you’re basically tying all of this information together in this great big web of of knowledge. It’s helping to answer all of their questions and showcasing you as the as the authority the expert in that field. And we’re seeing that take a bigger role in search as well especially with the advent of all of these personal assistant devices like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, they’re using artificial intelligence to figure out what because it’s not like the 10 blue links in Google anymore. They have to give you the best answer right off the bat and they’re basing that not only on that answer but also on what are you going to do next. So if they know that you’re going to probably after asking this question you’re going to probably book a flight. You know they’re going to probably give you an answer. That’s from a an airline’s Website. So you have to think of it in in the broader picture rather than just the you know the old school keyword centric type of thinking.
Virginia: And there’s again so much I could talk about those last statements but we are so we’re running short on time and I know you’ve got to get to another appointment. Can you give us two things we should be focused on for 2019.
Jeremy: Absolutely I would. I would be focused on and the supplies 20 19 and every year forward constantly adding value. So you know like we talked about answering the questions providing value to people whether they become a client or not. That could been producing great articles producing great videos lists of resources within your industry whatever the case may be. And then as another thing you can do is just really stay up on all the technology things are constantly changing. They’re getting faster than they’ve ever been. And they’re going to change even faster in the future. So stay on top of that. See what’s going on in your industry and see what’s going on in the industry as well as other industries as well as you know that relate to yours and keep an eye on what’s going on and just try to keep pace with it try is the key word in that statement.
Virginia: And one of the ways you can try is to work with experts like you it’s not in everybody’s budget but it is worthwhile for you to put in the time even if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere you’re further along than where you were yesterday and this is a long game so the longer it takes you to start, the further behind you will be. So start somewhere get in work with folks like Jeremy and his team.
Virginia: But Jeremy this is where I’ve got to say to our listeners I hope they’ve enjoyed the interview because we are out of time and they learn things like what are the things they need to focus on and 2019 that they need to look at three things when it comes to their marketing their coding on their Website their content on their Web site and their links on their Website. And it’s not necessarily all about them. It’s about adding value to those that might be coming and answering their questions.
Virginia: Those are a few things I got from you today Jeremy so thank you.
Jeremy: Thank you for having me today.
Virginia: Yeah. The full show notes links to the episode as well as our social media links can be found at AOEEnow.com/podcast. And Jeremy with Spartanmedia.com will be giving us all of his links his bio and I’m sure the link to Wendy’s like he promised us and the links to the search engine journal that he promised us.
Virginia: So you go can start getting educated on your own and get into Jeremy’s world a little bit.
Virginia: Please take five minutes to download subscribe and review and of course share your experiences with us and your friends and we will be back here every week on Fridays just for you listeners providing new value with wonderful experts like Jeremy. Jeremy Knuaff thank you so much for this.
Virginia: I wish you Happy Holidays in the most utmost success in 2019 and keep up with that growth that you were having in your business.
Jeremy: Thank you. Have an awesome day.
Virginia: Thank you.
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