Ep 157: Increase Traffic By 1300% In 12 months with SEO Nathan Gotch

Most online business owners fail mainly because they can’t get enough website traffic. Just like in a brick-and-mortar business, no customer visiting means no business. So, this is where having a concrete SEO strategy is so crucial.

Nathan Gotch from Gotch SEO Academy has helped entrepreneurs with content creation, keyword research, setting KPIs, and other SEO strategies that leveraged their businesses. 

We have discussed how Nathan was able to increase website traffic by 1300% in 12 months. How to create a killer copy that converts, how to build a backlink strategy, and what KPIs should be tracked.  We also talked about the best free and paid SEO tools that you can try. 

If you’re someone who wants to create an amazing SEO plan for your content website, then this insightful podcast episode is for you!

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Episode Highlights

03:17 SEO is evolving

13:09 Content quality

17:20 High-intent keywords

26:49 Intent, relevance, and trend

29:58 How to start publishing velocity of content

35:45 The biggest mistakes

38:33 Keyword ranking

41:35 Tracking

43:53 TOP SEO Tools

Courses & Training

Courses & Training

Key Takeaways

➥ Nathan Gotch emphasizes the importance of not chasing algorithms and instead focusing on creating real value in SEO. He shares his experience of previously engaging in sketchy and manipulative SEO practices, which caused stress. He then realized that the key to long-term success lies in following the core pillars of SEO. 

➥ Nathan advises against acquiring businesses that employ gray hat SEO tactics, as they may lead to negative consequences in the future. Nathan’s philosophy is centered around making content the foundation of SEO strategies. 

➥ As Nathan mentioned, it is important to understand the intent behind keywords to guide you in content creation and optimize conversions. Starting with informational keywords at the top of the funnel, the focus is on educating and providing valuable content. As users move down the funnel, the keywords become more transactional, indicating a higher likelihood of conversion.

 

About The Guest

Nathan went from $40,000 in debt to building a 7 figure SEO business and now is the head coach & trainer inside his SEO program, where he has helped thousands of businesses achieve first-page rankings on Google.

Connect with Nathan Gotch

Transcription:

Jaryd Krause:

Nathan, thank you so much for coming on the Buying Online Business Podcast. How are you?

Nathan Gotch:

I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me on.

Jaryd Krause:

We just had a great little chat prior to hitting the record buttons, and I'm excited. I'm excited to chat with you about SEO and some of the things that you've done, seen, and helped people with workarounds because SEO is like an ever-evolving thing. And there are always things to be changed, right?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, as far as you breaking up a little bit, but I'm assuming you said SEO, correct? Okay.

Jaryd Krause:

Yes, yes.

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, yeah. So SEO, I mean, obviously it's, and I've been doing this since 2011. So I've been through many cycles as far as algorithm changes and all kinds of fun stuff. And, yes, things change, but a lot of things don't change at all. And that's what I've kind of found. There are just certain core pillars that don't, and they've pretty much stayed the same since I started this game, so we can get into what those core pillars are if you want as well.

But one thing I'll say is, you know, not chasing algorithms has been one of the best decisions I've made in my career. So, yeah, I used to, you know, play that game for a long time. And when I stopped doing that and just focused on actually creating real value, I've never lost any sleep because of SEO any longer. And I used to lose a lot of sleep because of SEO, mainly because I was doing pretty sketchy stuff.

Jaryd Krause:

We're talking about blackout stuff.

Nathan Gotch

Yes, absolutely.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. It's funny. It's funny when you put yourself in a different mindset around SEO when you can be so in the game of having to try and win the game and have to work really, really hard to do all these tricks and tactics. weird strategies to get as much as you can from the game, but there are other things in play outside of the game that allow you to play at a different type of game, the long-term game, and win with a lot less work and a lot less stress, right? And I see that in all areas of business and all areas of life.

So tell me about that, because I do want to get into some of the things that you've done and then case studies, to increase people's traffic and all that sort of stuff that people want to hear. But I think this is quite critical and quite key, especially for people that are looking to buy a business and get sucked into the whole of the SEO world and just end up ripping their hair out.

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, I mean, if you're in the business of buying businesses and your online business in particular, which I'm assuming you're talking about, a website that has organic traffic is extremely valuable. So, if we think about any other type of traffic that you can have, organic traffic from Google or organic traffic from YouTube in particular are two of the best traffic sources that a website can have.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-mmm.

Nathan Gotch:

And so, and I'm speaking from experience, you have your own business, like most of my mind, which comes from Google and YouTube. And so, if you have a situation like that where a business has both of those channels working, you're doing pretty well. But yeah, I mean, one of the key things is, if you're analyzing a business and you're trying to vet a website that you want to acquire, you need to see how they got that organic traffic.

And people who are doing Gray Hat SEO, if they're doing it well, are not going to tell you a lot of those things that are going on behind the scenes. So, for example, If they have a private blog network that they've been using to drive performance, if they've done a good job, they'll hide all crawlers from accessing, you know, those websites. So, for example, you could throw that website into hrefs, semrush, or any of these tools, And it won't show that they have bad links or artificial links because they've blocked the crawlers. So, um, so, but then, you know, as you get into the vetting discussion, you'll probably learn, like, oh, yeah, we have been using a private blog network. So if I were acquiring a business, I would never acquire it if they were using Greyhat SEO.

Jaryd Krause

: Mm-hmm

Nathan Gotch:

Yes, that organic search traffic might be there right now, but in a year, two years—who knows how long it will take—that could fall off a cliff. And eventually everyone gets caught, right? It's like all criminals. Pretty much all criminals end up getting

Jaryd Krause:

I know.

Nathan Gotch:

Eventually, they may get away with it for a long time. I'm not saying it's a criminal practice to do grayhat SEO, but still, the analogy is that you eventually do get nailed. I've been nailed many, many times, and that's why I got away from it. In fact, in 2015, there was a big, big update where Google basically targeted private blog networks specifically, and it destroyed a lot of people, especially me in particular, because I had a network of, I don't know, maybe 150 websites that I would use to link to our niche sites and to our client sites.

I left massive footprints, and I was good at it. I was good at hiding it from crawlers; I'm doing my best, but I got lazy and started linking to a lot of the same sites on these networks. And literally, I woke up one day, I looked at my phone, and I was like, Oh, wow, I had manual actions from Google and Google Search Console on all of my client's sites, my business.

Jaryd Krause:

Oh.

Nathan Gotch:

The site, like everything, is manual action, manual action, manual action. I was like, I'm done. I was about to just pack my bags, shut my business down. I was like, That's it. Like, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? I was, and I literally thought I was done for. I stressed out for a while, but then I got down to work. I was like, How am I going to fix this? And the first thing I did was declare that I'm not doing this ever again. That was the first thing.

Jaryd Krause:

Right.

Nathan Gotch:

So, you know, there's this quote from Warren Buffery. He's like, If you want to get out of a ditch, how do you get out of a ditch? Well, you stop digging. So that's for me, that was like the first thing. Like I'm going to stop digging a hole. That's step one. Step two is to figure out how to get these manual actions removed. And fortunately, I was able to get all of them removed. single client, believe it or not. And all I did was literally remove all these PBN links from all of these websites.

And I saw a decline in performance, obviously, because losing any type of link can be detrimental. But yeah, I mean, that was really the game-changing experience for me to transition to what people would deem more white hat SEO. I don't really believe in the whole, you know, gray, black, white hat, whatever. For me, my philosophy on SEO is really about making content the foundation of everything that we do. And so making that transition was not easy because I had no clue how to actually do SEO. All I knew was how to manipulate an algorithm. So it took me a long time to figure that out, but now obviously we can talk about it.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, it's funny. You use the criminal analogy to try to game the system. And if you, you know, if we think about a criminal, they're trying all the things they can do to get away with it—to just get away with illegal activity and not get caught. Whereas you could do that, say, if you are a criminal and you could make money, but you've got this one big cloud that's going to come and get you, and you could take yourself out of that, right?

And if you think about the law being Google Because you're playing by their rules, I would say that usually if you give them what they want within their rules, You don't have to worry about that, and you can end up making far more money with less stress. Is that what you're sort of hinting at?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, obviously, you know, I walk a fine line, I don't give Google too much power.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm.

Nathan Gotch:

I believe that they're the gods of what I should be doing.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm

Nathan Gotch:

Right? I mean, we're using Lewin's Google algorithm.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah.

Nathan Gotch:

Traditional SEO, just like even finding a keyword and creating a piece of content around a keyword, is technically, you know, kind of tapping into their factors. Of course, you're not doing anything unethical or whatever.

Jaryd Krause:

Hmm.

Nathan Gotch:

But still, we're all kind of playing that game a little bit.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah.

Nathan Gotch:

that game?

Jaryd Krause:

And how much emphasis do you put on that in terms of like, do you wreck your content and the quality of it just for SEO? Right?

Nathan Gotch:

Right. Yeah, yeah.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah.

Nathan Gotch:

We can get into that, obviously, what, what quality looks like an SEO, but I'll let you keep going.

Jaryd Krause:

No, well, that's where I do want to get into it because you've said before, your main focus is on content, right? And if you're gonna give a great service to people, you're gonna put great content out there, you're going to be rewarded by the universe by making more money and helping people more, right?

So the direct correlation of like, how much you serve you get back as well. So let's talk about quality content. Let's use it in the sense that we refer back to one of your case studies that you mentioned to me before we hit the record buttons. You said you've been out of you've got lots of case studies which is excellent and congratulations.

Nathan Gotch:

Thank You.

Jaryd Krause:

Particular one that you've been able to help somebody increase their traffic over a thousand percent. Now there's a few things that you did to do that. Let's talk about what you used and then we'll move into some of the other things.

Nathan Gotch:

Sure, yeah. So it's actually that I didn't mention one part of that when we were initially talking about that campaign. But when we first brought this client on, just to give a little bit of background, this client is a media company in the legal space, which is very competitive. Anything in regards to the law is just very competitive from an SEO perspective. So their website was interesting because they had 5,000 pieces of content when we first started. So they had 5,000 pieces of content on their blog.

Jaryd Krause:

What?

Nathan Gotch:

Is that possible? Yes. So it's a very odd thing because all of the content was just, for lack of a better word, trash, you know, not built for SEO, not adding value, just so many problems with it, thin duplicate keyword cannibalization, every possible thing you could identify in a piece of content to just prune everything. We're just going to start fresh, basically, as was the philosophy. So that's what we did. We ended up deleting, I think, like 90% of the content. So we deleted like, I don't know, 4,000 pieces of content in about a couple months.

And so that was stage one. It was like, Let's start fresh. Okay, so we're going to start fresh, we're going to work with a good strategy, and we're going to do it the right way. So clean that up, prune the content, let Google crawl and re-index all that out of the index, and make the website more lean. So that was the first step. The second step was that we needed to make the website incredibly fast. And that's because it's a media site. They're content and content centric, like we're talking about here.

So the content needs to be delivered quickly and have a great user experience. So all we did was just use Google AMP, which we talked about as accelerated mobile pages. But we did it in a unique way. We didn't just do it for mobile. We did it site-wide for desktop, So no matter where you land on that site, whether on desktop or mobile, it's still an AMP-based website. And so just by doing that one implementation, they went from, you know, Google Page Insight score, core web vitals, from maybe 30 up to 100, like a solid 100 on, across almost every page.

So that was kind of the foundational stuff, like clean it up and get it fast. And now we talk about content. And content for us, we have, you know, a process built. For that, as you know, the keyword research process is absolutely critical. So we start there; we find keywords that have really good intent. We like to start kind of at the bottom-of-the-funnel and work our way up as far as intent.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm.

Nathan Gotch:

We can talk more about intent if you want to get more granular. But then, once you figure out the right keywords to target based on their website authority, based on their intent, and based on how many links we're going to need to rank, we can actually create that content. And so, you know, it's just a matter of creating it, and ultimately increasing the publishing velocity. So over time, we want to publish more and more pieces of content.

The more content we can get out there, the more topical authority and relevance we can build. In theory, we will get more organic traffic. Now, if you just do those three things and do them really well, you can improve your SEO performance and get more organic traffic. You've got to have that last piece, which is the link building. So a lot of people can do those three things pretty well, but if you don't have the link building, it's going to take a very long time. So the link building is like pouring gas on the fire.

And that's what we do is we go and start acquiring editorial links to this new content every single month. And the result is that within the first six months, we grew the traffic by like 500%, and now they're up, something insane, like 1300% or something at this point in a year. So that's from not getting organic traffic for five, six years, a pretty big increase, and we didn't do anything super crazy, so we can get into that.

Jaryd Krause:

So I do want to come back to intent because I understand the concept of intent, but I'd like to hear it from you in terms of when you're looking for a high intent keyword. The ideology around it is that the person searching for that type of keyword has a high intent on solving a problem or purchasing a product, right? So what sort of route would you explain if they needed a high intent keyword?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, intend is a huge piece of our keyword research process. In fact, it gives us a direction for how we're going to go. So within our keyword research process, depending on the intent of the keyword, if it has good commercial or transactional intent, it will get a higher score compared to if it just has informational intent. So let's do something more like a practical example here. So let's say it was a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. Okay.

So a transactional bottom on the funnel keyword with high intent would be Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, or Los Angeles car accident lawyer. That would be, you know, the bottom, middle, and bottom of the funnel. It's technically not all the way down and transactional because it's not brand specific. So actually, let me do a different example because if you have a little bit easier. So in the case of SEMrush, we'll start at the top and work our way down. So top of the funnel keywords for Semar Show would be really valuable. What is SEO? Okay now that's an informational intent based keyword. Yes it's relevant to what they do but it's not going to drive direct conversions. Very rarely do the informational keywords drive direct conversions. You're looking at sub 1% conversion.

Jaryd Krause:

I want to pause there and add to that reason why it's not a high intent keyword for people listening, and this is, I think, quite critical, Nathan, and I apologize for jumping in, but the reason it's not a high intent keyword is because the person that's searching for that keyword is at a different stage in their journey, they're basically finding out what SEO is, whereas when you get to the different part of the funnel of keywords with higher intent, they're going to be people that are closer towards purchasing or working with SEMrush. Would you say that's correct?

Nathan Gotch:

Exactly. That is correct. Yeah, and the reason why it's so important to understand is that I'll kind of walk through the funnel of how that would look, depending on the intent, which allows us to decide what that page should look like, right?

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-mmm.

Nathan Gotch:

So if it's what is SEO or how do I do SEO, we're going to deliver blog content that is informational in nature and educational in nature because someone at that stage is not ready to buy anything. They're just trying; they're in the learning and the education now. Once they get to the site, you can move them further down the funnel. But as far as looking at it just from pure organic search traffic, they're just at the top of the funnel.

More than likely, they'll bounce, right? So, like, % of visitors never come back to a website, right? So that's why there are other things we can talk about, like maybe she has retargeting in place and XYZ, try to get them on your email list, things of that nature. But go back to SEO, you know, we have top of the funnel information. Next phase of this process. or in the investigative phase, right?

So maybe what they do is, after they search what is SEO, let's say it's a business owner, they search what is SEO, then they find out they're like, oh, well, so like there are tools that you can use for SEO, I didn't know that was a thing. So now they search for the best SEO tools, okay?

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm

Nathan Gotch:

Now they're starting, now we're getting somewhere, right? Now we're starting to get closer to what SEMrush actually offers. So that's in the investigative phase. Now, the next two phases are where the magic really starts to happen, is comparison and then transactional. So comparisons are really, really good queries because now it's gonna be brand specific. Because what will happen is when they land on, let's say it's a blog post showing the top 10 SEO tools, you know, it's gonna show SEMrush, it's gonna show Hres, it's gonna show Moz, and now they're brand aware, right?

So before they weren't brand aware, they just knew about the general problem that they were trying to solve. Now they're brand aware, so the next phase is, the clear next phase is, okay, SEMrushReview, those types of queries which are more review-like or comparison-like. Now we're really getting towards the bottom. Last phase of this, which is now they've decided that SEMrush is a good fit for them, they're going to look for SEMrushFreeTrial or SEMrushCouponCode. At that point, we're at the very bottom of the funnel. They are ready to go.

They are blazing hot. That's the way that we try to map it out. Every industry is different and depending on the business model. So like that was a SAS model. The way it happens in e-com, like if you're selling shoes, it'd be very different. It's always going to be different, but the general concept of the funnel from an organic search perspective is game changing, honestly. So using that same method of keyword research, top of funnel, middle funnel, bottom of funnel, but you could incorporate that know what a silo is, basically a structure of how you create your content with a pillar pillar article and then different articles around it that can be supporting articles as different names and different terminologies that people use.

So depending on what you know, people click with what I've just said, which is why I've thrown out a bunch of different terms. But my question to you, Nathan, is that when you go through this process of finding the different intent keywords through the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom of the funnel, Can you, you'd say the first keyword that's not so high intent is what is SEO? Would that be a pillar article and then as you go through those other articles that you just go down with the higher intent, would they be more supporting articles that would be internally linked from that pillar article that is a low intent keyword?

Jaryd Krause:

I know

Nathan Gotch:

But what you're describing is really the concept of what I call clustering. You know, a lot of people call it siloing, but I call it clustering, and the reason for that is that visually, it makes a little more sense to me. So, for example, if we looked at, let's just say, the topic of SEO, First of all, none of us would be able to rank for SEO at this point. It would be an impossible task, and it's a bad keyword to target. But let's just say SEO is in the middle, okay?

And we build out these supporting assets around SEO that go deeper and deeper into the sales funnel. So you would have maybe SEO strategy, link building, backlinks—all of these different supporting topics to build upon. But what we do—one huge mistake that people make—is that they look at the funnel, and what tends to happen when people do SEO is that they immediately go to the top of the funnel and start focusing on brand awareness based keywords. Big mistake. That's one of the biggest mistakes that people make. because the goal of doing SEO is to make money. Okay, so at least for most people.

Okay, of course there's reputation management and other disciplines within SEO, but for the most part, most businesses are doing SEO because they want to get an ROI; they're like, That's why we start at the bottom of the funnel, because if we rank for those keywords, they're going to see an immediate increase in revenue, which is really what we want. In the case of, you know, SEMrush being our client, we would live and breathe at the bottom of the funnel until we completely got it nailed down. But with that said, what's fascinating about doing that is that what tends to happen is that, let's say, we want to rank for the best SEO tools.

That's a keyword that we want to target because it's super important to us. If you want to rank for that, you're going to have to create supporting assets to make it topical. Even when you do everything to target the middle of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel keyword, you still have to go up the funnel anyway to build out those supporting assets like you're describing as far as clustering. So these things are all intertwined, but as far as internal linking goes, everything should be linked together, as much as possible. So that helps as well. So that helps as well. So that helps as well. So that helps as well. So that helps as well. So that helps as well.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, because that's another piece of the puzzle. Like there's so many pieces of the puzzle here when we talk about doing keyword research, people may find a keyword, but they can't actually create a piece of content for that, and they weren't ranked for that because their site doesn't have the authority or the big enough brand or whatever you want to call it in that niche or space to be able to rank for that compared to what, say, a competitor that does have the authority would. So that's, that's a very, I'm glad that you brought that up. So, go on.

Nathan Gotch:

I was just going to mention one point on that because you brought up something very important. I don't want to give misinformation because I'm focusing heavily on intent, but intent is just one piece of the keyword qualification process. Intent is just giving us the direction that we want to go and our way to score these keywords. But in my keyword research process, we have the IRT score. Intent, relevance, and trend.

That's the first thing that we look at. So what is the intent? If it has good transactional intent, it gets a higher score. If it has informational intent, it gets a lower score. Then there's the relevance, So that's very important. It's not the relevance of the keyword to the business; it's the relevance of the keyword to what they offer. So in the case of my business, I sell SEO training. So anything like Boston SEO training or local types of training like that is extremely relevant to my core offer. Now, are SEO tools and the keyword relevant to my core offer?

It's not directly relevant to what I offer, but it's generally relevant in the same vertical, so it would get a lower score. So it's a very important distinction. And then obviously trending as well is looking at, like, okay, if you're trying to figure out what keywords best to go after, and they're kind of even on those two first pieces, the one that's trending upward obviously should get the priority. That's literally just the first phase of the process, because after that, what we have to do is actually see how many links rank, which is one of the biggest variables.

Because if it's going to take 300 referring domains to rank for the keyword, it's going to be a money pit. And that's what you've got to be really careful of. So there's a lot that goes into this process of just identifying the right keywords. And for most people, keyword research is like throwing a website into heavy mode and saying, Hey, this one's got good KD. Let's go and create a piece of content. But it's not the way it should be done, honestly. So yeah, I could spend all day talking about keyword research, but we'll move on.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, I think maybe we'll come back and break down some of these in further podcasts if you're open to it.

Nathan Gotch:

Sure.

Jaryd Krause:

There's so much, like, when I hear you say one thing, it's like, That's another universe that I could open up.

Nathan Gotch:

Right. For sure.

Jaryd Krause:

And we could go on for an hour on each one. So let's make this like a low intent keyword, but cover a lot of broad things broadly in this podcast. So once we've got the keyword research done, say we've gone through that whole process and we've added all the pieces of the puzzle within the keyword research together, we can move on to creating that piece of content.

You mentioned to me that you increased the velocity of publishing. What does that look like? So for this person who went from increasing their traffic within six months to 500, they're up like 13.9% over a 12 month period. How did you start increasing the publishing velocity of content? Why? And then at what stage did you increase it, and by how much?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, I mean, it's just a matter of resources, typically. So it depends on the budget that we're working with, with the client. It also depends on the infrastructure of their team. So in the case of this particular client, he has a lot of subject matter experts that can write content. So we kind of had an advantage in that way.

So all we had to do was basically feed the machine, and they could start pumping them out the way that we wanted them to be pumped out. Right, so we're giving them the SEO content briefs. We're building those out, and they are handing those off to subject matter Experts to write that content, and then we optimize the content on the back end, right? So it's kind of like we're working together to get that published, and then it's just a matter of seeing how much we can do for the first month, okay?

That wasn't too bad. Now it's by a little bit, an extra piece a week, or it's just a slow iterative process over time to see how far we can go. But the goal is that we want to build topical authority and relevance as fast as possible. That's our goal—to build that up very quickly. And, at the same time, we get into link building, but we don't have the links to support those assets at the same speed. So yeah.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, okay. So you also talked, and I want to get into link building as well. You also talked about how, for each piece of content to get ranked, it may need a certain number of links. So a certain amount of authority is sort of injected into that piece of content with those types of links that have authority, right? So what would it look like for somebody who doesn't have that much resources, who has limited resources, versus somebody who has a little bit of resources? So people on their journey are listening, they're going, All right, I'm at this phase, and this is what I should be doing with my content creation velocity and links.

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, I mean, if it's a budget discussion, then let's say you don't have a big budget for link building, then obviously you're going to want to spend most of your time and effort on content, but more importantly, focusing on keywords that you can really rank for without having a lot of authority. So the easiest thing to do is find those keywords that have low KD because, with Ahrefs in particular, you can use Semrush as well.

They have their own KD metric. But looking at those keywords that are technically easier should be your focus in the beginning because it's hard to rank without links, especially when you start to get a little more competitive. And also, it's important to mention that, let's say you do have a little bit of budget, you can dedicate it to link building. Before you build any links, the very first thing you have to do is figure out what the gaps are between you and your competitors.

So a lot of people will go into Ahrefs, and see, Okay, this keyword has a five KD. So I'm going to need four or five referring domains to rank. Okay, yeah, that seems like a good idea, doesn't seem too bad, but they neglect the fact that the websites that are ranking have incredibly high website authority. So the Hress Metric, the KD, is just measuring the page, the links going to the page itself, the websites, and the pages that are ranking for that keyword. It isn't measuring the overall website authority.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah.

Nathan Gotch:

So we have to look at both. You have to see, okay, what is our website authority compared to our competitors first? So we need to see that first. If that gap is big, then you're going to have to acquire more links on the page level to make up that gap. Right? So it's not an exact equation with KD where, like, okay, I need five referring domains, I get five referring domains, and then I'm going to rank.

It does not work like that unless you have the authority already, which in a lot of cases you won't. So that's why you have to continually build the authority of the website at the same time, which can only be done through link building, of course, and acquiring more referring domains. So you have to look at both. And so when we're deciding, OK, is this a good keyword to target, we're looking at average DR, which is what we look at in the top 10 for the keyword.

So for average DR, we compare that against our target website. If the gap is really big, then we're like, OK, we've got some work to do. If it's not too big, then we're like, OK, we can probably be in the estimate that A-Tress is giving us, basically. Try to hit that target. Sometimes we get there based on that target. Sometimes we don't. But, you know, we can talk a little bit about what you do at certain stages, but ultimately, just knowing those two factors is really important.

A lot of people just focus on the page level. That's a big mistake. And that's why you'll see some people saying, I followed the KD, and I got the amount of links that it said. And then, but they're missing the biggest piece, which by far, I'd say, out of like, if I had to pick one ranking factor that mattered the most, I would say website authority is probably the most important. It's absolutely huge. It's huge.

Jaryd Krause:

It's funny that people will start a website, and then they'll just create all this content based on some keyword research, and they'll be like, Well, I've created all this content. How come I'm not ranking for it? You don't have authority, and you're trying to target keywords that you can't rank for unless you do have that authority, which comes from link building.

But you've got to have content to link to as well. building. So there are multiples; there's so much more to it than just, Oh, let's follow the formula that I've heard on a podcast. There's just so much more depth to it, right?

Nathan Gotch:

Yes, to say the least. And in fact, you know, the biggest mistakes are made in the research process because if you go and target keywords that your website isn't capable of ranking for, you're wasting your time. You're wasting your time, and you're going to waste your money. If you target a keyword that's too competitive and you didn't know it was too competitive, you're just going to dump money into it and you're never going to rank.

So it actually kills your profit when you make mistakes at the keyword research level. It destroys your profit, so that's why we spend the first month of every campaign just on keyword research. We still do, you know, technical audits and all that good stuff, but the keyword research database is where my team knows they need to focus, and that's where they need to live for the first month to truly make sure we're not going to make mistakes. And it's like, I'm sure you forgot the quote from Abraham Lincoln, like, if he's going to chop down a tree, He's going to spend the first seven hours sharpening the axe, right?

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah.

Nathan Gotch:

So there's the same exact thing with SEO people and start doing like, and I understand that taking action is the key to success in anything. But in this case, don't jump in too fast. You've got to really make sure you're targeting the right stuff because it can be detrimental. It really can. And I'm speaking from experience, by the way; I've targeted keywords out of pure ego as an SEO.

I'm like, I can rank for that, no problem. And then, you know, a year later, I'm like, Man, I've invested like 20 grand into ranking for this keyword. I'm still like number seven. And it's just because that gap is too big. I couldn't narrow that gap. And it's like, It's just not worth it at a certain point. I mean, 20 grand, trying to rank for a keyword that I'm never going to rank for, 20 grand into YouTube ads. I mean, like, these are very, you know, I get a lot more value from them than that. So it's just, you know, you've got to be smart about these things. So, absolutely, it's huge.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. I want to say that people have gotten a lot from there, from the keyword research, and they're starting to increase their velocity to understand, you know, getting links to these pieces of content. Once we get these, once we've realized, All right, we've got a couple of good pieces of tracking, we've just bought a website that already has, you know, some of the top 10 pages.

How do you suggest, like, what are some of the KPIs people should be looking for in terms of, like, their ranking position, traffic, and what are some of the other things? And these can move into monetization with affiliate income, ad revenue, and stuff like that. But are there some key KPIs that people should be tracking for their top pages that they don't, so they can maintain those results?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, I mean, the most obvious KPIs in SEO, and I can only say as far as what we track, as far as clients go, and in our own businesses, but obviously individual keyword rankings is a good thing to do. People will debate this, but ultimately, it's a pretty tried and true method. You target a keyword, you put it into your ranked tracker, and you see the performance. Now, of course, it's not that clear because Google has all kinds of stuff going on in the SERPs.

They have personalization. They have local personalization. If you're logged in, you're going to see different results. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going on. So the ranked trackers are not 100% accurate, but they still give you a pretty good idea of where you are for that keyword. Now, that's stage one. Stage two is total organic traffic inside Google Analytics. To me, that is the most important, because at the end of the day, we're trying to grow traffic. And the most accurate tracking is analytics as far as organic traffic goes.

So those are two things. And then also, Google Search Console is another one that we use just to see broadly how we're doing as far as SEO, and it's not super accurate in a lot of ways, but it still gives you a broad idea. And it also allows you to look at CTR, which you can't get from anything else. So you can look at organic CTR. And if you're ranking for a keyword, let's say your position, we actually do this in our audit.

We find pages that have a low CTR. So we'll find out. If your ranking is number three and your CTR is below 1%, something is wrong there, right? Because historically, if you look at CTR data for, again, a keyword for informational keywords, you know, you're going to be roughly 40% for number one, and then it gets chopped in half to like 20% for number two, and then maybe like 15% for number three on average.

And also, once you get back to intent, it really changes depending on the intent. But let's say ranking number three is wrong, right? Something is wrong with your copy. Something is wrong with your title. Something is something that is not appealing to that searcher enough for them to click on your result. Now, it could also be another variable.

Jaryd Krause:

Because that should be, you should be technically getting anywhere from five to 15%, right?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, so we're looking at pages that have, you know, really below average CTR and then attacking those. But, I mean, there are a lot of things that affect it. So, of course, copywriting is a big one, but also, just like sometimes, you'll go into manual analysis in the search results. You're like, Oh, whoa, I didn't know there was a FAQ thing that's pushing us way down below the fold.

So, you know, there are other things that affect you that are outside of your control. But, you know, that's another reason why Google Search Console is so important because you can run tests and see, you know, organic CTR tests with Google Search Console data, which is a really big deal. There are also other SEO testing tools out there, but you can do it manually with Google Search Console. It's a little tedious, but yeah.

Jaryd Krause:

So checking, say we've got our top 10 articles and we want to maintain those rankings. So you'd be checking organic traffic through Google Analytics, then using Google Search Console to check the CTR, and then using a rank checker to check their rankings. Are they the three main tools, and then are they also the three main metrics you'd be looking at, or are there other things quite valuable to be tracking as well?

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, I mean, those are important. Obviously, within Google Analytics, depending on the type of business, you will probably be tracking goals too. So, if it's like an affiliate website, it can be a little awkward. It's not really having any goals other than, like, outbound clicks.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm.

Nathan Gotch:

But depending on the business model, we'll be tracking things in there. But the other thing we also like to track, either with SEMrush or Ahrefs, is the total link profile growth over time. So you want to see a nice, steady climb of, you know, the link profile growing over time to see just, yeah, well, yeah, each page and just generally the website as a whole. I just want to see that the domain itself has steady growth.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm.

Nathan Gotch:

That's important because we've actually seen a correlation between a decrease in link velocity and a decrease in performance. And my speculation is just that Google is saying, Okay, well, yes, this website was popular at one point, but now it's not popular anymore. So now, you know, that's because we're thinking of backlink philosophy.

The other thing we'll do with SEMrush and A-Tress is look at just the total organic keyword footprint as well. So just seeing, you know, if we have 10,000 keywords ranking in SEMrush and the top 100, we want to see that that's growing over time. You know, okay, now we're at 11,000 and then 15,000. Not necessarily the keywords in the top 10, but just like, is our footprint growing? Because that's a good sign. So, yeah.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, awesome. Awesome. Wow, there's so much in that. I think we're going to have to get you back on for another discussion on one of these topics in far more depth. I wanted to ask you, because we talked about so many tools. What are your top two free SEO tools? And then, what are your top two paid SEO tools that you would recommend to people? I think we're going to have to get you back on for another discussion on one of these topics in far more depth. I wanted to ask you because we talked about so many tools.

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah, I would say if I had to pick, you know, if I had a gun to my head and I had to pick two, the first would be Screaming Frog, and SEO Spider would be number one by far. I love that tool. I've been using it for, gosh, too long. Let's just say that much. But it's like it's the key to running effective SEO audits and technical audits. Like it's absolutely critical.

They have a free version and a paid version. So the free version basically just limits how many pages you can crawl. So, but it's, I mean, it's pretty affordable. I think it's like $150 a year. So it's like, you know, it's a good business investment.

Jaryd Krause:

Mm-hmm.

Nathan Gotch:

So that's the first one. The second one is a TOSA because I would say, you know, either SEMrush or Ahrefs, you can't go wrong with either. You really can't. So if you're looking for something that's a little more high-powered and attacks a lot of different parts of the digital marketing process, then Semrush is probably a better option. If you're looking for something that's a little easier to understand, maybe a little friendlier for just SEO, Atrex is probably better in that regard. But as far as data goes on those two, it's a toss-up. It's a toss-up.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, yeah, okay. So they're your two paid ones, I guess.

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah.

Jaryd Krause:

You can use SEMrush as well. But guys, Sightliner is very valuable. In fact, I have a due diligence framework. If anybody is listening and they're going to buy a site, make sure you get my due diligence framework, because it has all these different links to free tools that you can use to check the website and the SEO profile of all websites prior to buying them, which is critical to due diligence.

Nathan Gotch:

Yeah.

Jaryd Krause:

So, guys, thank you so much for listening. Nathan, thank you so much for coming on. Where can we send people to check out more of your SEO content?

Nathan Gotch:

You can go to gotchseo.com. Obviously, I have my blog there, and you can learn there. And my YouTube channel just crossed a million views over there. So there's a lot going on. A lot of video content as far as SEO goes. So you could get a good education on SEO just from my free content alone.

Jaryd Krause:

Check it out, guys; that channel is valuable. Everybody listening, thank you for listening. I want you to think of two to three people who either have a website or are about to have one and understand that SEO is important. Please do them a massive, massive, massive favor and share this podcast episode with them. There's so much value in this. It helps them, it helps us, and it's going to be a win for everybody.

So please do them a massive favor and share this podcast episode with them, and I'll speak to you guys on the next one. Bye.

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Jaryd Krause is a serial entrepreneur who helps people buy online businesses so they can spend more time doing what they love with who they love. He’s helped people buy and scale sites all the way up to 8 figures – from eCommerce to content websites. He spends his time surfing and traveling, and his biggest goals are around making a real tangible impact on people’s lives. 

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