00:00:12: Christoph Cemper here again with my link building and SEO podcast and I'm super proud to have our first
00:00:20: show guest in the interview here: John Doherty.
00:00:24: If you don't know me, my name is Christoph Cemper doing SEO and link building since 2003. I am the founder and CEO of LinkResearchTools. I invented Link Detox in 2012 as an answer to the Penguin penalty. This is why I do a link building at link audit podcast.
00:00:39: John Doherty who are you? What is your background? What is your history?
00:00:43: Christoph, thanks for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. So my quick background is I work all over the place. I work agency side, I worked for Distilled in New York City for two and a half years, I worked in-house
00:00:54: doing marketing, inbound marketing, growth on a couple of Zillows brands, hotpads.com and Trulia rentals. Now I am two things: I do consulting for enterprise-size websites. Not really enterprise companies, but websites with over a million pages on them,
00:01:09: and I am also the founder, creator, chief everything officer for getcredo.com which is a platform that connects people who need digital marketing work -that's SEO, site audit, PPC, link building or link audit,
00:01:22: people who need those, with the people that provide that provide those. I've been in the industry for about eight or nine years now.
00:01:29: Wow! So what your company actually does is connect buyers and providers, consultants and agencies or brands and agencies, right?
00:01:42: Yeah absolutely! So I have about 60 to 70 SEO and digital marketing providers on my platform.
00:01:50: I started it because I saw a need for smaller businesses that don't have a huge budget. Businesses that have $10,000, $15.000 to $20,000 a month to spend, they can find an agency, no problem.
00:02:01: For businesses with less than that, it's very hard to find a quality person
00:02:08: to do work for them because they're constantly bombarded with the super low-quality email spam outreach. So I wanted to create a place that kind of that met that need.
00:02:17: I connect people that are looking for for high-quality work for a reasonable price with the people that do that good quality work for those reasonable prices.
00:02:28: So that means it's not like I go to Fiver or UpWork where I can get the work done so much cheaper. This is what I hear a lot. Why should I pay all the money if I can get these thousand links for $20 on Fiver?
00:02:42: Exactly. And you know my answer to that always is: an expert seems expensive until you hire an amateur. You hire an amateur
00:02:51: and they screw everything up and then when you hire a professional they're going to charge a lot more in order to get you out and it's going to take longer. So that that was one of the reasons why I started this business. I saw my friends that had small businesses, that are hired,
00:03:05: bad link builders, honestly, and they were hit by Penguin or got manual link actions.
00:03:10: You know, they're paying $200 a month and it cost a lot more for me to come in and fix it. And we did, but you know, in long-term it was bad for the business.
00:03:18: Yeah, absolutely! So what's going on from a link building and link audit stand? What percentage would you say, what kind of percentage on the marketplace that you have, of all the deals is this? You know, with all the digital marketing work.
00:03:33: So I would say that I get probably about 10%, 5 to 10%. So not a huge number are dedicated SEO or dedicated link building, link audits, content marketing sort of projects. Often what I get is people coming
00:03:47: that understand inbound marketing, SEO, etc. A holistic approach is what ends up waiting for you.
00:03:55: They're looking for the technical, they're looking for help with content whether that's strategy or actually producing content for them. And that content relates to links. I definitely have gotten a number, actually just got one the other day, that they came in and said that their traffic got a huge hit
00:04:09: a couple months ago and they received a manual link penalty.
00:04:12: In that case that's an end up link audit. Someone going in and checking what's wrong. I'm kind of putting together the strategy to get them out of that.
00:04:21: It's been interesting actually over the last 18 to 24 months as I've been
00:04:25: really investing a lot more into this company, into this platform and kind of seen just over the years that there's been a shift. I know that you've seen this as well Christoph
00:04:35: that in the past there's so many talks about link building, just like how you build links this way, and that way, at all these conferences.
00:04:42: Now it's a much more holistic approach to building a business and links absolutely are still the currency of SEO. They absolutely still matter I tend to actually knock on link building,but
00:04:54: man when you build those those quality links that matter and your traffic starts to hockey-stick, like okay: this this stuff really still works. But I've seen a shift away from the dedicated
00:05:05: link projects in a lot of ways.
00:05:07: Yeah, which was kind of overdone. Especially the German market there's an interesting effect where we saw
00:05:14: after everyone doing only link building in the past, now for a year or so in 2015
00:05:19: everyone was doing only on-page, only fixing the website, making it faster in the SSL, which is all great and important and all. But they totally stopped doing link building for a couple months just to find out that either they got some bad links built by their competitors as part of a negative SEO campaign,
00:05:35: or that they simply fell behind
00:05:39: with what the competitors did. This holistic approach that you describe is something that I try to communicate and,
00:05:46: preach for over 10 years now. It's this one thing if you have a landing page that gets all the traffic, but it doesn't convert, what was all the Links at all the traffic worth?
00:05:55: in the end we just want to make the sale, we want to get the leads, we want to drive traffic to make money or the conversion on the website. Therefore
00:06:07: I think it's also because people on your platform are then aware of this overall
00:06:13: scope of all the things involved and not just a quick fix, which makes them go to you and ask for someone that sees the full picture, instead of a quick fix here or a quick fix there, which was certainly possible
00:06:26: in the past. Okay, cool.
00:06:30: Do you have one specific tip or takeaway that you can share for people doing SEO or link building or link audits by themselves? Maybe just starting out as a beginner tip, as a learning that you learned the hard way or something that you would say wow this is
00:06:45: actually close to a secret, but I'll share it anyways because I'm cool John.
00:06:52: I don't know that I have any secrets that smart people like yourself haven't already discovered and shared, Christoph. But
00:06:59: I work on when I do my own Consulting with a with clients but the sites that I work on are massive, absolutely massive. Million plus pages for the most part.
00:07:12: The thing that I've seen work... So over the last couple of years we've invested in technical SEO,
00:07:22: dedicated link building as well. Especially on one
00:07:27: of my clients and we've seen a great movement forward for specific head terms. And we're talking 200k searches a month.
00:07:33: You can go from ranking number 8 or 9 like they were and now they're sitting around number 4
00:07:40: just from link building. That can be that can be really massive for them.
00:07:47: I always like to caution people so they don't stop there. Don't just keep slamming links to specific landing pages, especially if it's not like this is the marketplace that I'm working with and they're going up against our sites dedicating in this one vertical.
00:08:00: Versus of my client they're across like 6 or 7 different verticals. Competing against these sites that have a partial-match domain or even exact match.
00:08:12: Super, super top. We're not going to win just by getting this one keyword ranking.
00:08:17: But actually don't just think about how you build external links. As we talked external links absolutely matter.
00:08:23: But also make sure that you're also auditing your site architecture and going to that longer tail play as well. Using
00:08:31: the link power that you're driving and those specific head turn-pages and figuring out how you take that down to the site and getting the whole long tail of not just widgets but also getting blue widgets
00:08:42: and red widgets all those following terms actually end up converting better. Those pages are gonna be harder to build links to.
00:08:50: in quantity and quality but by being smart about your internal linking as well, and your internal site architecture, that's how you really win the game long term.
00:09:02: That includes the internal links right? On that domain?
00:09:09: The rel=canonicals, the redirects.
00:09:10: 100% and honestly one of the biggest things that I've seen hurt
00:09:16: is huge website design. I'm costly coming across an internal link to a page that redirects and redirects to a page and then canonicals somewhere else.
00:09:25: It's really easy to pull apart like okay we have 3 redirect hops, multiple redirect hops and eliminating
00:09:33: two of those are getting it down to just one redirect often show big progress for these sites, but canonicals are the sleeping giant when it when it comes to saving link equity.
00:09:44: < That's what I go in and I look at first when I come to one of these sites is looking at okay where are we changing canonical's?
00:09:52: that sounds like you don't even have to build any new links You're just saving link equity in and everything goes in the right direction.
00:10:01: Quick question I actually,
00:10:04: recently came up with the idea of calling everything outside of a URL of an article offpage because what you're talking about is the links inside one domain.
00:10:15: are basically of that page. In other situations where we have an international brand that has 50 different domains in 50 different countries
00:10:23: they're interlinking them. Technically that is an external link, but you know from a logical standpoint that is a link in their network that they
00:10:33: control and
00:10:34: I would call this an internal link as well. So I kind of got confused with the wording of on-page and off-page because suddenly off-page means within my same domain or within my network of domains and also of course really external like really
00:10:49: domains that I don't know about, that I don't own.
00:10:52: I like separating,
00:10:55: on page elements that you were talking, the basic of SEO of H1 and H2, schema, the structured data and people like to poo poo that, but man that stuff really works.
00:11:10: Separating that, I think if you actually start talking off page in that more holistic way like you're talking about it, would be better for the industry overall. I like that a lot actually.
00:11:19: A quick question regarding the site audit that you mentioned with a million pages. When you look at that, you know that's a lot of pages to crawl and even more links. If each of those million pages has a hundred links, we're talking hundred million links.
00:11:34: How do you audit a hundred million links on a domain like that? Do you have a solution, a product for that already that you using?
00:11:39: There's a multitude of them that I use. I mean the interesting thing is that on sites that are that big
00:11:47: that's not a million different templates. There's often like 3 or 4 different templates. So there's your homepage, your category pages, your sub-category pages, your product pages.
00:11:59: Often I'll just jump in and use Screaming Frog to start off with.
00:12:06: And looking at auditing a section of the site and then you can kind of extrapolate that out a lot further,
00:12:13: so you know I recently started using Ahrefs which I think is really useful as well, but you know I honestly haven't invested down to get a membership to,
00:12:23: DeepCrawl or something like that.
00:12:27: Often it's up to just getting a crawl of the subset of the pages if you can just crawl a hundred thousand of the pages that they have on the site.
00:12:35: That's going to do a lot towards getting you that the quick wins for the the number of months that are going to show great progress.
00:12:45: Okay and in regards to external links, do you also try to audit external redirects and external rel-canonicals?
00:12:54: I do not, to be totally honest with you. That's not something that often is encompassed with the work that I'm doing. I've done itin the past, reverse engineering
00:13:04: a competitor's rankings, but external rel-canonical I have never really taken a second look at that.
00:13:12: Yeah the thing is we didn't even have proper data for that and so in the last
00:13:18: year or so we built something that could maybe answer some of these questions that arise when you actually don't know what's out there in regards to rel canonicals or redirects. Some of the insights these thoughts regarding a off page look, looking at off page in a more holistic way, conme out of the development
00:13:37: of this new feature or product whatever you may call it. It's actually, I would call it a separate product to LinkResearchTools because it does so much more than what you know LinkResearchTools for in regards to the link audits
00:13:53: and the link building, and in the competitive research.
00:13:56: Totally! That's a tool that I've wanted for a long time and it's really great to know that you have it because
00:14:02: often there will be competitors that are like "why are you ranking so well?" and I wish that there was a good way to go back and look at like what domains have they bought and redirected in and that sort of thing. It's kind of like finding a needle in a haystack.It's how it's been historically. So that's awesome to hear that you have that.
00:14:17: Well it's still in Beta phase with a couple of large clients that have in the hundreds of millions of links.
00:14:23: Auditing hundreds of millions of links is another challenge and you can look at a sample of the data but you
00:14:32: can extrapolate from there because you don't know which other hundreds or hundreds of thousands domains are also linking to them because you extrapolate the name of the domain
00:14:41: but you you cannot,
00:14:42: extrapolate your disavow file from looking at a sample, so for very large companies, for very large backlink profiles, this was something that we basically had to build to handle that,
00:14:53: what kind of size. If you want, I can give you a demo or maybe after the recording here quickly show you around,
00:15:01: We can talk about that anyways more, but your feedback would be of course appreciated.
00:15:07: Yeah it would be awesome to take a look at.
00:15:10: Alright, so we're 15 minutes into the podcast. Actually I only planned 5 to 10 minutes and well, I will say thank you very much John for this. I look forward to follow up on this, maybe with more learnings or with more insights at a later point of time.
00:15:27: Would you like to come?
00:15:30: Absolutely. Would love to and then I got to get back over to Vienna, so maybe we can do it in person.
00:15:35: Oh yeah, so sorry I missed you that day.
00:15:39: Yeah you should cme. All right, thank you very much. My name is Christoph Cemper. We had the pleasure to talk to John Doherty and I hear you very very soon. Have a great day. Bye, bye!