This blog is based on an interview with Robbie Richards that originally appeared on the Stream Creative Marketing Blog.
Referred to as the MacGyver of online traffic generation, Robbie Richards is considered an SEO guru, helping even smaller organizations outrank global brands. Originally from Australia, Robbie now resides in Boise, Idaho, where he’s Director of Marketing at Virayo, a company that specializes in SEO and search marketing for B2B industries. He’s also founder of RobbieRichards.com where he has his own blog and offers his expertise, services and SEO courses.
Robbie also shares his SEO knowledge as a speaker at numerous digital marketing events and will be a featured presenter at this year’s Experience Inbound marketing and sales conference being held June 5th at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and June 6th at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. In anticipation, he shared a glimpse of what attendees can expect in this interview.
For mid-level marketers looking to boost their rankings and put together a marketing plan, where do you start?
Most of the clients we engage with already have some sort of online presence and some existing content. Where we always start is going back to the foundation with a technical content audit to look at all the assets they already have that could potentially be driving traffic to their website. This is typically for sites that are a little bit larger, say 500 or more pages. We identify any content that could be ranking a little bit higher or already has rankings, but just isn’t converting really well. Those are usually the assets we’ll target first so we can get some quick wins.
We also do a lot of competitor analysis and benchmark where a company’s at in terms of its top competitors. We usually identify a lot of important gaps as well — whether that’s in their content or PPC strategy. I feel like a lot of times when it comes to SEO and any type of digital marketing, a lot of companies try to reinvent the wheel and go for the next biggest thing. But just by looking at your competitors, you can usually uncover a gold mine of information that can help you build upon your ongoing efforts.
Do you have an example you can share?
We worked with a defamation attorney last year and he had a bunch of content on his site, but a lot of it was ranking on page two and it even had some keyword cannibalization going on. We ran an audit and identified opportunities and started relaunching the assets that had higher rankings, as well as the content pieces that were kind of competing with each other and going after the same keywords. A lot of marketers will do that by mistake and think they have to create more and more content around a topic, but they end up actually hurting themselves or diluting their ability to rank for a certain term instead of just having one authoritative resource on a given topic.
We started consolidating all those resources and really worked on that for the first 30–60 days. Without building any new links or writing any new content at all, we almost doubled his organic traffic and the number of leads coming through within a three to four month period. Once that technical foundation was built out, then we started relaunching more of his content and looking at his competitors to find out what topics he wasn’t targeting. We identified a couple valuable service areas he wasn’t targeting on his site, so we started incorporating those into his website and built up from there.
Businesses are constantly told that SEO takes a long time to get results and that you need to stick it out. True, but when you work on those foundational elements, look at your competitors, find gaps and get some quick wins for a client, you’re instantly building trust with them and setting the stage for ongoing engagement. It’s another reason to start there rather than trying to jump right into a massive keyword research document and doing a lot of longer tail efforts.
Each client and website is different. How customized is your process, and what are some tips to make the process more repeatable?
That whole struggle is the reason I started my website and created my course. Up until a couple years ago, we were just a small agency with a handful of clients and were able to take the time to figure things out. But as we started to grow and bring on more clients, build our team and scale our business, not having those processes in place meant we were working longer hours and our performance was slipping. We were running around trying to be so customized in everything we did that it became a huge time suck.
Now, we’re focused in on a few niches and mostly work on the types of services that we prefer that generate more value, and we have very documented processes around all of those things. While they do vary a little bit, for the most part, we’re able to replicate those across almost any client and any size website now, which has allowed us to work much faster and drive a lot more consistent results for our clients.
Can you explain part of your SEO strategy for increasing conversions on a page?
A definite part of the process is looking at how we can optimize existing high traffic assets. One of the ways that I like to do that is I go into SEMRush and I look at any of the top competitors that are bidding on those bottom of the funnel service or product related keywords. I’ll specifically look at the PPC reports and try to dig in to see what kind of CTAs they’re using or how they’re framing the messaging around them.
Then, I go back and see what my client is missing or what could be improved. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I can go back to competitors to see if there's anything they're doing, because if they are spending a lot of money to drive traffic to those assets, it could show that we're actually converting pretty well. It just eliminates the guesswork.
We're always prioritizing based on search intent funnel positions. Anything bottom of the funnel or middle of the funnel always takes priority. If we can improve rankings to those assets, they’ll usually generate more conversions.
You mentioned SEMRush. What are some of your other go-to SEO tools?
I use Ahrefs because we do link building for clients as well. It's pretty much exclusively what I use for backlink analysis. I also use it quite a bit for organic keyword research just because I love how they pull in back link data so you can get a really strong indication of the competitive rankings for keywords and topics. The keyword index has grown exponentially over the last twelve months, so I’m using that a lot more now.
I also use Screaming Frog when it comes to doing site crawls and content audits. I use URL Profiler to pull down data points from different third-party sources, and then I also use Mailshake for running my outreach. I used Buzzstream in the past, but I found that the scale of the campaigns we were running didn’t really justify the added expense. It’s a great tool, though.
For tracking and measurements, I use Google Data Studio quite a bit. It allows us to pull data in from a lot of other sources outside of just the normal Google suite. Google Data Studio has been very helpful for us in creating clean reports. We try to stay as bottom-line focused as we can because a lot of clients get really fixated on vanity metrics. But it’s leads and the quality of those leads that matters most.
We’re excited to have you speak at Experience Inbound in early June 2018. What can attendees expect?
Yes – I’m looking forward to it! I'm going to be talking on some of the stuff that we've touched on here, but we'll go a lot deeper. I believe people who attend will get some good takeaways from it.
Want to hear more from Robbie about SEO strategies? Watch the entire interview here, and join him at Experience Inbound held June 5th at Miller Park (Milwaukee) and June 6th at Lambeau Field (Green Bay).