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Growth Machine – SEO Case Studies, Results & Tips w/ Amanda Natividad

Growth Machine

amanda natividad growth machine

Growth Machine is an SEO agency that helps create content and direct SEO for businesses that want to increase their organic search ranings and presence.

The Head of Marketing for Growth Machine an SEO-focused content marketing agency, is Amanda Natividad.

Most recently, Amanda headed up marketing for ticketing company Liftopia, and helped build out B2B marketing for Fitbit. In past lives, Amanda was a tech news journalist and a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. You can follow her on Twitter at amandanat.

Amanda Natividad talks about Growth Machine as an SEO agency including going into some SEO case study details and other best practice SEO tips you can learn to help your website gain organic traffic.

Growth Machine podcast

NOTE: The Cup & Leaf case study we reference in this episode is still live but the website was recently sold to Sencha tea, so that is it no longer live and now redirects to the Sencha tea site.

The redirection to another tea blog page is a common expired backlink redirecting SEO technique that is semi-gray hat depending how you look at it. Looks like Sencha Tea wanted some extra authority and link juice so they used the Cup and Leaf blog purchase to do that.

We talk about the case study during the episode, so it is interesting to know how it turned out into a sale that happened right after the episode was filmed.

Amanda Natividad 0:00
When you’re marketing, I just think it’s important to focus on the value you can bring to people. And I think once you focus on that kind of value, customers or users will see that over time.

Stacy Caprio 0:13
Hi, and welcome to the Hurst SEO podcast with Stacy Caprio. The best advice comes not from your critics, but from those who are already where you want to be listed along with Stacey tweak to learn from those who have already built their dreams so you can learn how to build your own.

In this episode, we’re talking to Amanda Natividad, who is the head of marketing at growth machine. She has a great understanding of SEO, and she’s great at implementing processes to help avoid growth and to help.

Amanda and the growth machine team actually do the opposite of avoiding growth. They have great processes and methods in place to help their roster of client sites experience large organic traffic growth. In this episode, we get to dive into some of their techniques, as well as the tools and spreadsheets they use to facilitate organic traffic growth. Amanda also goes into a client case study, and we get to peek inside the growth machines own t blog case study. This is a great episode for anyone interested in starting to learn about SEO, as well as more about what you can do to get more organic traffic to your own site. Thank you so much for coming on today. I was hoping we could start with going over your background and what you do at growth machine.

Amanda Natividad

Amanda Natividad 2:52
Yeah, I thank you for having me, Stacy, my background and what I do at growth machine growth machine. Now I head of marketing for the company. Prior to this, I headed up marketing for a ticketing business called liftopia. And then prior to that, you know, I spent much of my marketing career in content marketing and communications, where I built up the content marketing program over at Fitbit on their b2b side. And then I also built up Content Marketing and Communications at the direct to consumer snack company. naturebox.

Awesome. Yeah, that’s really cool. Background with marketing and SEO. I also wanted to go into what plans does growth machine currently offered to clients? And what do those include each month, or plans for growth machine clients are really we’re an SEO and content creation agency. So we work with our clients on their overall content strategy and new keyword strategy, helping to optimize their SEO efforts and also working on their link building. So you know, once once they have a blog set up, or once we help set up their blog, or they already have a blog. We work on their link building so that other sites are linking back to them. Awesome.

Stacy Caprio 3:01
So do you guys focus on content and link building or mostly link building?

Amanda Natividad 3:08
Oh, we do both. I would say that we know we really do focus on content creation. We have an in house editorial team, who I mean, they’re a great team. They’ve been writers and editors for years. And so every every piece of content that we publish for our clients has been, you know, written by an SEO trained writer, and then reviewed by at least two editors before it gets published. Our link building services are great. We really are strong with content creation.

Stacy Caprio 3:37
Awesome. Yeah. And I know that you guys sometimes reach out to very specialist writers, even if they’re not full time employees, because I was on the list for a marketing writing for a while, but I think I unsigned up at some point. Oh, what would you say is the most important part of your clients, SEO strategies.

Amanda Natividad 4:03
It really varies for each client. A lot of people, I think, have this similar end goal of you know, ranking higher for desired key terms, getting more organic traffic leads that varies by client to client and clients are people who they’ve already had established blogs or existing websites. And so there may be a lot of our focus is making sure that their existing content, still high quality and is set up correctly. on the technical side, sometimes we’re launching a brand new website for a client. And so in that case, we really want to make sure we set up their site for overall SEO success. And then we also just overall just want to make sure that the all the work that we’re doing for our clients is really high quality, in terms of high quality writing, ranking for the keywords that they’re looking for. And making sure these keywords are words that people or users are actually searching for already making sure that people who are looking for this kind of content are seeing it sounds

The SEO Sandbox

Stacy Caprio 5:00
Like a great strategy, do websites that start out with higher authority and more content versus the brand new websites? Do you find you’re able to rank them faster? Or is it a similar process? For both?

Amanda Natividad 5:16
It’s a good question, because it does make a difference when they’re when a site has existed for quite a while, and it already has domain authority. Sometimes in those instances, all we have to do is go back to some of the existing posts, and then just make sure that those posts are linked to each other where it makes sense, or making sure that information is up to date, I can help improve client’s overall ranking pretty quickly, it could be a matter of a month or weeks. And then in the case of a brand new website, it really depends. It depends on how much content that person’s publishing, it depends on the search volume of this keywords. In general, we like to just kind of say that a good rule of thumb is to wait about six months before you expect a brand new website to just start seeing some traction, or meaningful traction.

Stacy Caprio 6:03
Exactly that in all the SEO groups online People often say the six month sandbox period. So that makes sense. I was also wondering, what do you think that your clients and others tend to overemphasize when talking about SEO, that you haven’t seen? get results?

Amanda Natividad 6:27
That’s tough. I don’t know that there’s any, you know, one common thread. It just takes time and experience when I’ve worked in house, I’ve dealt with some frustrations, where people felt like, Oh, no, we’ve been producing great content for, you know, three or four weeks now. Like, why aren’t we seeing what why isn’t the needle moving? You know, and I and I get that a month can feel like a long time, especially when that means that you’re you have produced like 10 or 12 different articles. But I’d say patience is really important. I’ve seen people say that they want to rank number one for a certain keyword. And maybe that keyword is super broad. For example, you’re launching a health and wellness focus site, and you say I want to rank number one for health and wellness, well, that’s pretty much impossible. That’s a very, very broad topic, there are a whole bunch of other websites or authoritative figures in that space. So that would be pretty much impossible to rank for. However, if you’re able to define that specific niche, within health or wellness, maybe it’s about, maybe you want to launch a blog, that’s about a subset of a certain kind of diet, or a certain kind of nutrition aspect, then that might be something that you you would be able to rank for a lot more quickly. I think a big key is to really look for that niche.

Stacy Caprio 7:47
That’s a great point. And I think you would also see higher conversion rate when you really niche down to what people are actively kind of looking for there. So it’s probably a win win in both ways. Another thing that I was curious about is has growth machine ever seen a client get penalized or had any big obstacle? And when that does happen? What have you done to work through that?

Amanda Natividad 8:17
Last summer, I think it was August 2019, Google updated their core algorithm. And I think I think people refer to that as the medic update. And so the goal of this update was just to make sure that truly credible websites, were ranking higher for health content for the average user and other consumers. I think it’s super important, right? You want to make sure that if you’re reading about health content, that it’s from credible sources, and that it’s true information. There was also this effect, where I’ve seen certain health and wellness oriented websites get dinged on that broadly fitness oriented website where they you know, maybe they’ve made certain claims about health and it doesn’t have to be anything controversial, right? It would be something like, Oh, you know, working out is really good for your cardiovascular health. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. But because that blog, not considered an authoritative source, that kind of blog saw a hit to its traffic, so that we’ve seen and I think, and that kind of instance, it’s a good idea to lean into your niche even more in a way that’s less focused on overall health. So maybe, example that fitness blog would have made sense to start creating more content around different kinds of workouts or different kinds of workouts to do while you’re traveling or on vacation, or just other kind of areas that speak better to your expertise without trying to be without trying to get too far into the health focus.

Stacy Caprio 9:41
So when you added more non health focused content that was still in that niche, did you guys see that type of traffic grow? Was it only the specific super health pages that were penalized

Amanda Natividad 9:57
was more so the super specific health pages that were hit by that I also just need to add the caveat that I wasn’t with growth machine at this time. So a lot of this is just based on my on my knowledge of SEO, and what I’ve just kind of seen overall in the industry.

Focus on Content Creation, not Being Perfect

Stacy Caprio 10:09
is there any common mistakes that you’ve seen some of your clients make or other SEOs in the industry make that you would recommend people stay away from,

Amanda Natividad 10:20
I would say that overall, it’s really important to make sure that when you tracking your content, key performance indicators, that you really make sure that you’re looking at things within the right context, and to make sure you’re not trying to over optimize for every single metric that you see. So one quick example that comes to mind is time spent on the website. That’s the thing you can see in Google Analytics, you can see how much time people are spending on average on your website. And certainly yet, you want your audience to be staying on your website for a long time, you want them to be reading all your content, staying and enjoying everything that you’re writing, of course, but at the same time, that can come at a cost. So if you spend a lot of time worrying about making sure all your posts are linked to each other and making sure that you’re going back to every historical post you’ve done, and then making sure that it’s linking out to at least three different assets. You know, on one hand, that’s important. But on the other hand, if you spend too much time doing that, that might mean that you’re losing time on just creating brand new content, where maybe in that instance, what you should be doing is just publishing more trying to rank for more keywords. And using that opportunity to drive more organic growth to your site, versus obsessing over the fact that, you know, time spent on page or time spent on your site is only five minutes instead of 10 minutes.

Stacy Caprio 11:40
That’s a great point. If you get too caught up in just those little nitpicky perfectionist details, I think you can kind of miss the bigger picture and doing things like creating new content where you see the actual growth. Yeah, that’s Yeah, really good to think about. So I know a big part of your job is creating the editorial plan. And the website content plan. I was hoping you could go over how you do that and how you execute it.

Amanda Natividad 12:11
Yeah. So when I think about content for growth machine, a lot of what I think about is how can I tell people how we do what we do? How can How can I create content that helps our clients? How can I help our sales team with showing our expertise in what we do? So those are all the things that I think about, and really trying to make sure that every post that we write, every post that we produce is the best version of itself. So recently, we did a blog post on the different kinds of Zapier automations that we use, to help us do our best work and things that I wanted to communicate in that we’re we’re pretty lean team. And we need to be really smart about our workflow, and we need to make sure that we don’t miss any tasks and a service like Zapier helps us do that. In that post. I also wanted to give people ideas for how they could use Zapier. It’s a really, really cool tool that can help you automate so many different things. Whether it’s automating your social media feed, automating how you send a certain email, helping you make sure that your CRM database is formatted nicely, like there are all kinds of little tips and tricks that you can do to help Zapier enable you for success.

Stacy Caprio 13:24
Awesome. And did you say that you can even set it up. So when you publish a blog post, it can also send an email to your list notifying it?

Amanda Natividad 13:34
Yeah, you can do that you can have it I think it integrates with MailChimp, for instance, that’s the only one I know offhand. But I’m sure you know integrates with a lot more than that Zapier has so many plugins, sometimes you’re able to make two different services talk to each other, without there being a native integration. So that’s also pretty awesome example would be, let’s say we kick off with a new client. We have, you know, Google spreadsheet where you just update one little cell, and then hit enter. And then that, in turn, will set up a board and a bunch of tasks in Asana. And it’ll assign all the all the tasks to key stakeholders, along with deadlines. So in that case, where it’s really helpful is, you know, if you’re doing something that has a lot of repeat tasks, like maybe you have a kickoff with the client, and then you start your keyword strategy, and then you pitch the strategy, and then start writing blog posts. Those are all things that you’re doing across multiple clients. If you’re setting up all those Asana tasks manually, there’s a good chance you might miss something, or you might make a mistake and forget a certain task. But if you invest a little bit of your time in advance, you can automate this. So that one, you don’t have to think about having to do it, but then too, that way, you’re not missing a step.

Stacy Caprio 14:47
I see. So is that tool more helpful for people who own agencies or if you have a bunch of a repetitive task that you’re setting up again and again,

Amanda Natividad 15:00
toulet that’s helpful to anybody in their workflow. It’s if you have a lot of repeat tasks, or if you have recurring tasks, recurring reminders, but it’s helpful to anybody.

Stacy Caprio 15:09
I see. Awesome. What are your favorite Google Sheet templates for SEO? And how do they help with SEO,

Amanda Natividad 15:18
We had this as a really good resource over on our on the growth machine blog, we have a number of SEO Google Sheet templates that we use to help us find keywords and come up with similar kinds of topics. So we have a certain spreadsheet where you fill in a couple of cells.

And then once you hit enter, it auto populates a suggested term. We also have a really nice one for traffic prediction. So using a couple of formulas, if you plug in, you know how many posts you’re going to publish each month, along with your estimated keyword volume spreadsheet will show you some some general projections to expect in terms of traffic along the way, it’s a really helpful tool to help you start to figure out what kinds of traffic goals you should you should be aspiring for, because there’s that another spreadsheet we have, or a Google template we have is for our style guide.

So we have a Google Docs template to just help you get started with a style guide. So that if you’re at a point where you’re hiring freelance writers, or if you’re a marketing team, and you’re training new people on the team, it’s a nice kind of scalable way to make sure that everyone’s being trained in the writing best practices.

Stacy Caprio 16:30
Oh, the sound really cool. I’ll have to take a look at that tropical spreadsheet. And I we can definitely put the template link in the show notes as well. Oh, great. Well, one question I have is, how do you guys track keywords over time? Do you do that in a spreadsheet? Or do you use some type of tool for that?

Great SEO Tools

Amanda Natividad 16:51
There are some really great SEO tools that can help you track these certain keywords. So we like to use a refs. And there’s another tool that’s really good also called Mangools. These are good SEO tools to help you track keywords and, and help you figure out what search volume is like for keywords. These tools will also tell you how difficult it might be to rank for a certain keyword.

Stacy Caprio 17:13
Yes, I love ahrefs / h refs, I don’t know how you pronounce it, you’re probably correct. I like that one as well. I was hoping you could go over the gig economy case study that you had on the site, and maybe talk about what growth machine was able to do to get them such great results.

SEO Case Study 1

Amanda Natividad 17:27
They wanted to launch an informational website about the gig economy. And so they came to us with this vision of we want to rank for this, here’s a sense of these keywords that we want to rank for. Can you help us do that we dug into the keyword strategy with them. We started planning our initial content. And then we started writing the content. And we started doing this months before they launched, which is really nice, because it enabled them to think content, so that by the time they launched, they were able to launch with a ton of articles that all linked to each other. So you know, at launch, they looked like a website that had been around for a long time, which I think optics wise, it looks really good. And it was also just a really good partnership. Because you know, they understood really well what we do. And they just had a really strong vision of what they wanted to achieve. We still work with them today. They’re a great client of ours, and we love working with them. Awesome. You guys take them from a brand new launch site, zero traffic, and then how many visitors a month in, in what time period? He started from scratch. So we started at zero. And then because we had so much content, we were really strategic about which keywords we use. We saw 19,000 monthly visits within six weeks. And then after six months, we we broke the 100,000 monthly visitor mark. So that was super exciting. It was really cool to see all our work pay off that way.

Stacy Caprio 18:54
Wow, that’s really great results. How many pieces of content Did you guys create for them?

Amanda Natividad 19:01
We worked on several posts per week, I want to say it was about three or four posts per week. By the time we launched, we had 70 articles banked, which is a lot of content. You’re not you don’t you don’t always have to launch with that much content. But that was just how we ended up working out with this client. That’s

Stacy Caprio 19:18
really great results. Would you say that results? were mostly due to just the amount of content? And was it pretty in a competitive niche? Or was it less competitive?

Amanda Natividad 19:31
A lot of the success of that had to do with making sure we were going after high volume keywords and making sure we were delivering on really, really good content related to those keywords. By that I just mean making sure that anybody who was searching for these terms, who would then go to client’s website, making sure that they were seeing the most relevant most valuable content for them would say that a lot of the success had to do with the quality of the writing and the quality of the content.

Link Strategy

Stacy Caprio 19:55
Right sounds like a great strategy. Did you guys also intentionally go after any links, or was it all in organic link attraction strategy. I know some people intentionally link from other sites they own, or they pay for specific links to help boost specific keywords. And then there’s some SEOs who just say, I’m just going to write the best content and then cross my fingers and hope we get links. So I was wondering, what was the strategy that you took to get this site links,

Amanda Natividad 20:31
I will say that our link building tactics never include paying for links, we never find random opportunities to just throw up a link on some random website, or link building work such that will pitch guest posts to other websites, making sure that the content is very relevant to making sure that anybody who would see a link to a client’s website from a different website that makes sense, we look for broken links on other websites. And then when we find a relevant fit for a client, then we pitch to those websites to you know, link to one of our clients for link building tactics are really just focused on finding good quality, relevant opportunities, not being spammy or sneaky, anyway, like that.

Cup and Leaf SEO Case Study

Stacy Caprio 21:13
Awesome. I was hoping we could go over what led your team to start the cup and leaf case study. And then if you could go over how long you guys have been working on it, how you’ve taken it, from zero to where it is now. And your strategy with that.

Amanda Natividad 21:31
The cup and leaf blog was actually the reason I joined Cruz machine. So this was a blog they launched for a little bit over two years ago. I think it started out as a joke where when our founder, that Eliason was doing tutorials and stuff like that, he would joke about starting a T blog, just because you might be looking at something in a refs. And he would just say that as an example. But the more he did this, the more he realized, Oh, wait, there isn’t really anybody ranking for for tea right now. And there’s a high volume opportunity here. And no one’s really dominating the space.

Maybe we could do that. He and the team launched the blog, they they published, I think two to three really high quality articles every week focused on it with a really strong keyword strategy, making sure they had the good content to support it. And then they also looked at really smart ways to share that website, an example would be that they went to like Reddit communities or existing Facebook groups, to share links to the website, whenever it was relevant. I don’t even think they launched a cup and leave social media channel until like months after the website launch, which I think is super interesting. So that’s a really fun inspirational case study.

And, you know, the reason I find it so inspirational is you would have thought that somebody was dominating the space for tea, I would have assumed that some giant like Lipton tea was, you know, had a ton of tea content. But they didn’t, maybe they do now, but you know, two years ago, they didn’t. So I think what’s so inspiring is that, you might think that everything that could be SEO has been SEO. But often, that’s not the case. If you were thinking about starting a website or starting a blog, and you have a really specific interest or a niche that you really care about, then, you know, sometimes there’s a good chance that nobody else is writing about it. And that maybe it’s a good opportunity for yourself.

Stacy Caprio 23:17
I’m curious to know, you said it was the reason that you joined growth machine. Did you read about it on their blog? or How did it come to your attention?

Amanda Natividad 23:25
I first heard about on the Growth Machine Podcast, which shameless plug is back by the way, we publish weekly, first heard about it there. And then once I heard about it, I went to the website and read the case study. And I just thought this is so cool. Like, this is such a cool company to follow. I love that. They they really practice what they preach, it really made me respect them a lot. And so, you know, once it when I heard they were hiring for the role that I’m in now, I was super excited to apply. And so now I’m just really happy and grateful to be on this team.

Stacy Caprio 23:55
And we can put the growth machine podcast link in the show notes as well. So has this case study helps growth machine gain clients, I do think what you’re saying it gives growth machine a ton of credibility, because not many SEO agencies have their own e commerce store. So do you think that has been a competitive factor and something you guys talk a lot about to potential clients?

Amanda Natividad 24:21
Yeah, definitely. And I think you know, what’s also been really good about it is that because it’s a website we own, we were able to be as open about it as he wanted to be a few minutes ago, and I was talking about our client case study, which was great. I also want to make sure that we’re careful about what we say because, you know, we can’t give away our client secrets. But in the case of cup and leave, because we owned it, we were able to speak about it more openly. A lot of our clients really respected that and appreciated hearing that kind of transparency. And then just the other day, you know, we got another inbound lead who who said they heard about us through the case study. So it’s definitely worked out really well for us.

Stacy Caprio 24:56
That’s great. And then you get to diversify your own. Revenue with that, you know, the current traffic numbers.

Amanda Natividad 25:04
I haven’t checked recently. But we haven’t updated that site in quite a while I think over I think about a year. Now, once we got to certain number of monthly visits, we sort of had to let the blog go just because we were getting a ton of inbound clients, and we wanted to focus on our client work. I don’t think traffic is nearly what it used to be. But you get what you give, right? We haven’t published on it in quite a while. Did you

Stacy Caprio 25:25
guys work on it for just a year or two? And then you stopped actively doing SEO on it?

Amanda Natividad 25:33
Yeah, pretty much. We worked on it for just over a year,

Stacy Caprio 25:36
when you’re working on it? How many hours a week Did you guys spend on it? And then currently, do you just spend zero hours a week?

Amanda Natividad 25:46
At the time? I mean, the team spent a couple couple or several hours per week on, you know, writing, editing and publishing. Since we haven’t published on it. No time really has gotten to lately.

Stacy Caprio 25:56
Do you find when you stop working on both the cup and leave site and client sites? Do they stay pretty steady for a certain amount of time? Or do they just stop growth? Or does it start declining pretty quickly?

Amanda Natividad 26:14
It’s really hard to say because each website is so different, each website will just have its own kind of domain authority, it could just vary across sites for any reason. Maybe if you don’t publish often enough competitors can catch up to you. So that could be a problem. If you’re not maintaining your site. Over time, maybe the information gets stale. And that’s not great for your ranking either. It really just depends. Overall, you know, it’s just important to make sure that your website is optimized, making sure that the information you have there is up to date. And then it’s always just good to continue to post because continuing to post means those are new opportunities to rank for new and more keywords,

Stacy Caprio 26:54
specifically, in the cup and leaf case study. Did you guys see it kind of just level off? Or have you seen it kind of start to decrease already in terms of traffic?

Amanda Natividad 27:07
Last years medic update with the Google core algorithm that definitely hurt cup and leaf because we had we had several posts that were more oriented towards health or the health benefits of tea a definitely heard us. And then also just not staying up to date or not publishing as often.

Stacy Caprio 27:23
Did you find that having a such a public case study, more competitors were popping up because they knew it was a viable niche? Or were you guys too far ahead? In terms where the competition didn’t affect it as much?

Amanda Natividad 27:40
I think that affected it. I think it did some point we did it. We weren’t posting as often or we stopped posting. So I think I think that was an issue.

Stacy Caprio 27:48
And I did also notice so I know it’s not one of your current focuses. But did you find having the T club and the T quiz tabs kind of helped the site? I thought those were pretty unique. I don’t see those on most e-commerce sites. So I was just wondering what results those got for you guys.

Amanda Natividad 28:08
We have a really nice quiz funnel on the cotton leaf site. So this was good example for any e commerce company. To help optimize your email funnel, you can set up a quiz to just help people shop around for your products like to figure out what kind of products they should be looking at, based on how they answer quiz questions.

And then as they complete the quiz, it’s an opportunity for you as a marketer or business owner to put people on different marketing funnels, and then give them the content that’s most personalized to their experience. When we did that, you know, we saw a nice increase in conversions, we’re just seeing people more engaged with the website or more engaged with the content they were getting. And then separately, you know, we worked with an agency on improving our email funnel for carbon leaf, they helped us create a really nice, like welcome journey for the company leaf customers, which also helped to boost conversions.

Both of those things. Ultimately, what they do is they ultimately personalize the experience for the customer, which I think is really valuable these days when people are making tons of decisions all the time people like to they they want help on figuring out which products they should be looking for. And I think if you’re an e commerce store, where you have a lot of options for people, it’s your responsibility to make sure that people are getting the most personalized content they can get, you know, in a way that’s not creepy.

Stacy Caprio 29:31
Yeah, exactly. That’s really cool. I think the T quiz thing is a great idea. And if it can put people in those buckets, that must be helpful, but the personalization and making people feel like they’re buying the right things. Do you guys do any email marketing for clients or is that something you just refer to the agency that helped you?

Amanda Natividad 29:55
Well, we don’t do any email marketing for our clients. I know we would recommend agency that we worked with are great for e commerce. But we don’t do email marketing ourselves.

Stacy Caprio 30:04
Do you know the name of the agency that helped you guys,

Amanda Natividad 30:07
they were slice and dice. I think

Stacy Caprio 30:09
email marketing is one of those tricky things. And I’ve never really gotten good at it either. So I definitely want to either get some help or go deeper with that

Amanda Natividad 30:20
they doubled our email revenue in just a month for a cup and leaf.

Stacy Caprio 30:24
Awesome. So are there any marketing and SEO tips that you’d like to leave the listeners with?

Amanda Natividad 30:33
Partly, what’s so exciting to me about SEO, is that it’s a really technical way to look at the way that you publish content or create content online, there are ways to, you know, kind of gamify the algorithm ways that I do not know how to do but. And when I create content, I really try to focus on a people first experience, and I really try to focus on giving people the most valuable and most helpful content that I can create for them. A lot of what like Google’s algorithm tries to do is to try to serve up the most valuable content to people. And when you are creating content, or when you’re marketing, I just think it’s important to focus on the value you can bring to people. And I think once you focus on that kind of value, customers or users will see that over time.

Stacy Caprio 31:18
And that’s a great tip. If you’re providing value to the readers. Even if you get hit with an update, at least the people who know you will always come back and I think Google tries to optimize so they’re always giving readers the highest value sites anyway. Lastly, how can listeners reach you and connect with both you and growth machine online?

Amanda Natividad 31:42
growth machine is on twitter at growth machine underscore underscore, you can email me at my growth machine account. It’s Amanda @ growth machine com. I’d love to hear from you.

Stacy Caprio 31:53
Awesome. Thank you so much, Amanda, this was great. And there’s a lot that I’ll learn re-listening to as well. I hope so too. Thank you so much, Stacy. I first started following growth machine. The company, Amanda heads up growth marketing for when I found a copy paste code script for Twitter account growth following years ago, when that was something I was ironically searching on Google for. So I found the SEO agency on Google. And that’s what they help their clients do every day. My search query was just super random and unique. Since then, the founder has shifted to focus more on putting out more SEO focused content and regularly gets companies incredible results. As well as puts out really interesting traffic growth and SEO case studies. You need to have a 10 k month or more budget to work with growth machine. But they are one of those rare SEO agencies that actually knows what they’re doing to get clients huge results. So it can be worth it. If you have the budget and are looking to outsource your company’s SEO.

Amanda talks about how the agency’s focus is on content creation, as well as keyword research and making sure their sites get natural links. If SEO can be summed up in two words, it would be content and links. And Amanda does a great job of explaining how growth machine uses these two levers to get clients massive results. One thing we touch on is how External links are very important, and the first thing people think of. But I also want to mention how many people dismiss or don’t even consider internal linking. internal linking is a huge factor that can move the keyword needle as well. I’ve personally seen rankings jump from page five or even lower on page one, or page two to the top few results or page one on Google after adding just a handful of internal links targeting specific pages and keywords that need a boost. So I regularly do internal linking. And I do it manually because I tend to build very targeted internal links, as I’m going along as opposed to doing it all at once on large sites, you can easily do it manually.

And if you want to do it automatically to Spencer Hawes developed an internal linking tool called Link Whisper and it allows you to do all this more automatically in bulk. But you still have creative control over the link text and choosing what you actually want to do. So I’d recommend checking that out. If you have a huge site you just want to internal link everything together or just doing it manually but internal linking is really worth it. Especially just to give keyword specific boost and it does make a difference. You need External links first before internal linking becomes effective because your site needs to have some type of juice To pass around itself. But I did want to just emphasize how all types of things are important. And that getting Internal and External links can really help your site and help your keyword rankings.

For anyone, especially if you’re not familiar with LinkedIn and SEO, I hope that’s a great little tip you can take away, Amanda, when talking makes a great point about patience and SEO, many people are used to paying for ads. And when you turn an ad on, you see the results instantly, since you’re essentially paying a search engine to be one of their top results when you’re using an ad. SEO is different, because you have to be willing to wait for your site to be indexed by search engines. And then your site has to gain authority in the search engines eyes, before they will even consider ranking you. You also have to wait until your content builds up links, and it is deemed good trustworthy and authoritative by search engines. Before it’s finally starts to rank. All things which obviously take time. For some content. This may be never, for other content, it may take months or longer.

As Amanda mentioned, if your site already has a relatively high domain authority, and has been around for years, the ranking process for new content can happen more quickly, which is something I’ve seen as well. Google continues to update and change. And Amanda gets into the medic update, and how Google has been trying to filter out unreliable medical sources. So people only get trustworthy medical information, partly due to the fact that medical information is so important. And they don’t want to harm people’s health by giving them fake or untrustworthy information, which does make sense. But the way they’re filtering out sites, it did hurt a ton of sites, maybe even some that do have reliable or semi reliable information. But that didn’t have the right credentials. And this hurt a ton of sites including some of the cup and leaf tea blogs, growth machines on case study some of their health focused articles. And Amanda talks about how it hit a few of the client sites as well. I know a ton of other sites, it hit just from being in the SEO space.

So that was a big update that had a huge impact on sites in Google does continually do updates, different types. Some are based on spammy SEO tactics. Some are simply based on content types, such as the medic update, which targeted medical and health based content. At the end of the day, Google is trying to provide the best experience for users. And to do this, they do continually make updates, which means rankings are never permanent, they’re always fluid. And you can always lose traffic or gain traffic, you have to realize it’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. But anytime you build your audience on a platform that you don’t own, which of course includes organic search, 100% of your traffic can be taken away at any time, for any reason. This is why I realized so recently that it’s so important to build a strong brand. And to have different channels of communication with your customers, even on channels such as email, even though email is tricky, too, because you don’t really own that. And you can always have a low email reach depending on how you structure your Email Setup, and how many people reply to you and several other factors.

But it’s important to build a brand so good, that people will actively seek you out. Even if you’re blacklisted on every single platform and channel and even emails and they want to find you they can get creative and they can find you if you have a brand where people will search for you in every way and really seek you out. That’s when your company starts to have more staying power. And that’s when you’re really building a company on a solid foundation. That being said, building a website that gets organic traffic can still be done and is an incredibly good and usually profitable business school. It’s also the main way that I get traffic to sites that I own.

However, if you’re building organic traffic, or buying a site that gets its traffic from only one source, which could be an organic source, social source, or other source, you need to understand that algorithm changes do happen. And there’s so much that can derail Google or search engine traffic or social traffic or anything that only gets traffic from one source at any moment’s notice, which is why it’s important to diversify your traffic sources and build a strong brand if you want to have a lasting website and a lasting business. We touched on this briefly in the episode. But I want to mention that there is a huge debate in the SEO industry about Link Building in general, and just link philosophy in general, where some people actively build links. And it’s their main SEO strategy, which you can either do completely white hat outreach, and try to do guest posts or broken link building, you can also use gray and blackhat techniques to get to pay for links and to pay for guest posts.

And you can even go completely blackhat and do things like PB ns or other types of link building techniques that are not approved by any type of search engine at all. It’s an interesting debate. And it’s definitely relevant in the SEO industry, because rankings are so dependent on links, because it’s the way that search engines know other websites trust your content. And it’s one of the only indications they actually have of that, because if someone is willing to link to you, that means they really trust and value your website to the point they’re willing to feature it on their own site. So it’s a real trust indication that search engines do currently rely on when ranking keywords and it is a big debate. If you want to read up on your own and figure out what type of link building techniques makes sense for you, if you’ve been wanting to do them, you can check out Matt diggity’s SEO blog. He has some great articles that talk about the different types of links from white to gray to black and what makes sense in different scenarios. Another one of my favorite bloggers, john Dexter, I think that’s how you pronounce his name. He was actually hit hard by Penguin, which is one of the Google updates that did focus on thin content and links. And he was hit due to aggressive link building. And now he doesn’t touch building links at all with a 10 foot pole. Instead, he simply lets all the links he does get come organically. And his entire focus is producing tons of high quality content, and then waiting patiently for it to rank.

So there’s definitely two sides of the spectrum. And you have to decide where you fall on the link building growth machines approach seems to fall in the middle of these two approaches, with a focus on some white hat link outreach. So there are definitely different ways to do it. And it’s up to you to decide how you want to approach link building and ranking your site. I personally acknowledge how important link building is because it is one of the only trust factors. Search engines have to see how important your site is, and how important others think your site is. It’s one of those fine lines you don’t want to cross. But you need to put some effort in to get sites to rank in any sort of reasonable timeframe. I want to try to get more SEO experts on in future episodes, we can dive more into all these topics and get really deep on specific techniques on how to grow your site and how to really do SEO best practices, including the technical best practices, specific link building techniques, as well as go into more case studies.

SEO case studies are my favorite type of SEO material. I love reading them and I could talk about them and listen to them and read them all day. They’re so fun to read because you get to see actual cause and effect or at least what is assumed cause and effect and implement what you learn on your own sites. I love and completely agree with Amanda’s focus on saying that you should work on what really moves the needle in organic search, which is which is quite simple. It’s creating more amazing content that is in line with your site’s area of expertise. And that offers huge value to readers. When you do this, you’re not trying to game the algorithm or do some fancy SEO technique. And when you create amazing content, you’re satisfying your readers. And at the same time you’re satisfying search engines, because at the end of the day, readers and search engines are both looking for the best content to read. And this sets you up for long term SEO success. And it sets you up to have loyal long term readers. So her advice is great if you are starting on SEO and even if you’re an SEO veteran, the focus really should be creating amazing content because at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to get you the best SEO results.

Thank you again, Amanda for coming on. And I’m looking forward to continuing to follow your growth machines progress growth and future updates. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Her.CEO podcast. I hope you took something away that you can implement in your own life or business. If you want to make me smile today, you can leave a five star review on the podcast player you’re listening to. Thanks again for listening and feel free to shoot me an email with any questions or comments at stacy@her.ceo that’s stacy@her.ceo. Thanks again.

Contact Amanda Natividad

Twitter: You can follow her on Twitter at amandanat

Email: amanda@growthmachine.com

Amanda’s Linkedin: Amanda Linkedin

SEO Google Sheet Templates: https://www.growthmachine.com/blog/google-sheets-templates

Growth Machine Podcast: https://www.growthmachine.com/podcast

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