Welcome To Profiit Academy
Debut episode of Profiit Academy (working title, may change) Special Guest and fan favorite Scott Allen!
This is a permanent change and move away from the AMA format.
While we will still answer any and every question presented to us, we are going to move away from the AMA name/approach.
We will be taking on a more topic related, or guest focused podcast type format where we can focus on something specific each week and bring a ton of value, and make it less about me.
Right now I am using the name Profiit Academy, though I am not married to it and it might yet change.
Tune In (Most) Every Friday
Chris M. Walker: All right, everybody. I am here with Scott Allen. Scott, for those of us that don’t know who you are, can you just introduce yourself a little bit while I hook up my headphones?
Scott Allen: Yeah. My name’s Scott Allen. I’ve been in SEO for quite a while. I am one of the coaches in Superstar SEO Academy. I own two agencies and one of them is kind of a general marketing company. The other one is focused specifically on medical marketing. That’s it.
Chris M. Walker: Well, that’s not it. I actually missed a lot of what you said, so I don’t know if it is or not. You covered how you are… you specialize in dental and mental… Mental. Medical marketing and stuff like that?
Scott Allen: Yeah. I have a unique situation where I actually have a… He’s actually my personal dentist. He’s a client, and he’s part of one of the companies, which really helps with the client attraction portion of it, is when he calls as a doctor, that gets past the gatekeeper, and I’ve also… I never thought I would find dentistry and medical stuff as interesting as I do, but it’s been a fun process to learn the lingo, and the business behind dentistry, and the business behind running a medical business.
Chris M. Walker: So, that’s the majority of what you do, right? You don’t… I mean, I’m sure you have other types of clients, but the bulk of them are dentists and other medical professionals? Is that right?
Scott Allen: The bulk of them is… Right now, we’ve got a couple dentists, a few orthodontists, and some plastic surgeons, so not all in the mouth.
Chris M. Walker: Do you have any non-medical clients, too? Or you just do that?
Scott Allen: We do. We’ve got a couple. We’ve got a production company is Los Angeles. We have a detailing, luxury auto detail shop. Athletic trainer. Trying to think off the top of my head what the rest of them are. We have a new-
Chris M. Walker: So you focus on one thing, but if somebody else wants to give you money, you won’t tell them no.
Scott Allen: Yes. Exactly.
Chris M. Walker: That makes sense. You stay focused, but you don’t pass up a payday, basically.
Scott Allen: Yep.
Chris M. Walker: And so why… What’s the advantage of focusing on one particular industry or niche, as we call it in SEO, like that?
Scott Allen: The advantage of niching down is that you become the expert in not only the content. Each niche has its own idiosyncrasies as far as what works. Doing what you do on a plumbing website may not work as well as something working in the dental space, as an example, so you get a knowledge of what works, what Google likes in the particular niche, and it’s not necessarily SEO related, but it certainly helps you with the discovery calls, the sales calls. If you understand the language and the lingo, if you speak their language, that establishes trust, and particularly in the medical space, they have been approached thousands of times by marketers, and they get… Their radar is already up.
Scott Allen: So, if you start to understand, using the same words, the terminology that lets them know you’ve been in and around doctors, that helps to move the process along.
Chris M. Walker: And you’ve said you were in a unique situation, but if somebody has an agency and they wanted to niche it down, or get industry specific like that, what advice would you give them? How would you go about choosing one? What should they do to make… establish themselves as an expert in that particular vertical?
Scott Allen: What I like to do, if I end up in a niche that I’m not familiar with, is I will go around and spot check. The first thing I do is go around and spot check random cities, pretty big cities, and do like San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, just different large metropolis across the U.S., and look and see what type of website is ranking and ranking well. A lot of it you just got to put in the homework and understand the nuances of they don’t call it a drill, they call it a hand piece, and just start to learn about it that way.
Scott Allen: Another really good resource is Facebook groups. If you jump into a group, I would suggest jump in and just observe for a while, and start to see the trends, the tendencies, and pick up on some of the lingo, and what I don’t suggest is a lot of people decide, “Well, I’m going to get in, I’m going to do dental.” Jump into a dental group, and they immediately go into… It’s kind of like that LinkedIn thing where you haven’t established any rapport, there’s no relationship, you jump in and, “Hey, I’m a marketer. I have this thing. Buy it.”
Scott Allen: And I think by getting into some of these industry-specific groups that are on Facebook, and starting to ask some questions, really learn not only about the terms, but also the business of their business, like how many new clients, patients, customers do they need to break even, and then how many do they… What’s considered thriving? And then what’s considered exceptional? And start to learn the business side of it, the ROI, and all of the numbers-based things.
Chris M. Walker: Interesting. So, do you just do SEO for them, or is it more of a full digital marketing type deal?
Scott Allen: What I have noticed lately that we’re doing more and more, SEO is one of the tools in the tool box, and adding in things like direct mail, we track everything possible under the sun. If we can track it, we are, and particularly in… It gives you an opportunity to provide some value with things like business coaching, and I’ll give you an example. One of the first things we do after we… This may be long winded, so bear with me.
Scott Allen: One of the first things we do when we onboard a client is… We’ll use a dentist as an example. We will figure out what time lunch break is in their time zone, and call at like 12:35, and we’ll record that call, and the reason we’re doing that is first, making sure that someone picks up the phone, and then how are they answering the phone? Are they enthusiastic? Do they pick up the phone and immediately put you on hold? And why this is important is it gives you… If they’re doing things well, then it’s continue the process, start the marketing machine. Conversely, if they’re not doing it well, or the phone goes to voicemail, or something to that effect, you have a recorded phone call that you can call the doctor and say, “Hey doctor, just wanted to let you know the phone’s not being answered, or it’s not being answered correctly.”
Scott Allen: Why you want to establish that up front is because in digital marketing, it’s very easy to make the SEO guy or the marketing guy the bad guy. You can send all the traffic in the world, all of the phone calls in the world to the practice. If it’s not being answered correctly it stops there, and you’re going to get a pushback of… You’re going to say, “Well, look doctor. You’re ranking really well, and by our…” We use PhoneWagon as one of our tracking technologies. Say, “Look, we generated this many phone calls,” and they’re going to say, “Well, I’m not busy.” Or, “I’m not booking new patients.”
Scott Allen: And that person who’s answering the phone at the business or the practice is arguably one of the most important people, because if you send all this traffic and it stops right there, it doesn’t matter what you… You can rank number one, and if the person answering the phone is killing it, your efforts are for naught. So, documenting that up front does two things. It shows you’re doing your due diligence, and your research, and it also gives you some leveraging power to say, “We need to work on answering the phone, answering the phone better,” those type of things.
Chris M. Walker: It also probably makes you more indispensable, too. Right? Because now you’re not just the guy building links or optimizing H tags. You’re an integral part of their business that, if they let you go, they instantly lose that level of expertise and diagnosis and stuff, right?
Scott Allen: Yeah. You become very sticky, and it just opens up… Once they… It’s interesting. We tend to have a shift where they’re a little apprehensive. They sign on with us. We start to show that we’re doing additional things outside of just SEO, and it flips over and they start asking you questions about portions of their business that aren’t really under your span of control, but they trust your opinion as the expert. And the more you can engrain yourself and build that relationship, the longer they’re going to stay on as a client.
Chris M. Walker: Conversely, how do you prevent becoming the web guy? Where they just throw literally everything web that they need at you, whether it… maybe it’s outside your scope of responsibility. I know I’ve had times when we were talking, and I don’t want to put details out there, but you were frustrated because you were having to do some web design type things that weren’t really in the scope of what you agreed to. So, how do you establish what you do and what you do not do?
Scott Allen: We actually just finished going through a round of contract updates with our attorney, and through his expertise in helping us define… A lot of it is defining expectations very clearly up front, and we had a decent contract statement of work that we were working with, and it had some places in it, to your point, where you end up becoming the, “Well, it’s on the internet, so they own it,” and we clearly defined… One of the things that we made very clear is hosting type things, that we’re not the host. If the website goes down, if it’s not accessible, those are… that’s not on our plate.
Scott Allen: And part of this is very intentional, because something like that prevents you from scaling. If you’re the web guy, and you decide to go on vacation, take some time off, invariably the second you step off the plane onto vacation, the phone’s going to ring, and I actually had it happen. I think it was… I was in Barcelona when that happened, when I was like, “Of course. I’m on vacation and I’ve been feet on the ground for less than ten minutes, and the phone’s ringing with hey, the website’s broken.”
Scott Allen: So, if you clearly define for them, “Hey, if your website goes down, here’s the phone number you need to call. This company is the dedicated host, 24/7, 365, call them.” It’s all about expectations, so that there’s no surprises, and we’ve even gone so far as to really spell out what marketing is, because we’ve had feedback that some of the doctors are not real sure what they’re paying for.
Chris M. Walker: That’s normal I think. I mean, I think it’s an important point, and I think that it’s not… You’re not handing them a widget, so it’s abstract to some people, especially people that aren’t fluent in marketing, so I think that it’s important to explain specifically what you get and what you don’t. I think that that’s absolutely cost me business over the years, because I’m very, very transparent and specific on what I will and will not do, but it’s also helped me retain people for a long time, because they know exactly what they’re getting and what they’re not going to get from me.
Chris M. Walker: And I think everybody needs to run their business the way they feel is right, but I think that that’s a much more long-term approach to having success, than it is to just say, “I do marketing,” and then just kind of go from there. People that will say whatever they need to say to close the deal kind of thing.
Scott Allen: Yeah.
Chris M. Walker: Great, so let’s move away from the business side of it now, and get more into the SEO, because I know that’s what a lot of people here are probably more interested in. Even though they probably should focus on the sales a little bit. What do you think is important, as far as the actual implementation of SEO? Is it building links, is it establishing brand and reputation that’s on page? What do you consider your specialty? What do you think is important?
Scott Allen: I think the first and foremost is strategy, and having a repeatable, documented process that… kind of a laundry list of when we… We have an internal document that is the same for every client, and it’s a checklist to go through and audit the site, and give it a benchmark, and from there, based on the conversation we’ve had with the client, then you establish a strategy. And by that I mean which… Based on what they tell you, do they want to wait a little bit longer and go for maybe a bigger keyword, or some people like to go for more what they call the low-hanging fruit. I’ve always been top of the mountain, that if the term is dentistry, I’m going for that one, and everything else will come in, fall in line once that big one gets there.
Scott Allen: I’m a big… The way that I was taught SEO years ago is very strong on the foundational, old-school HTML on-page stuff. I think as I’ve watched it evolve over the years, the one constant has been very consistent, well done, on page and site structure. And in some niches, you can get away with ranking really well with just that, and minimal links, and I do things in a very metered… I don’t call it drip, but it’s a very metered approach, where first thing is always on page and site structure. See where it’s at.
Scott Allen: Then it’s the social foundational links come in next, and then watch and see what happens, and then if you need to or want to buy links, start building links, that’s the… Building links is way down the chain for me, because you… Kind of in the scientific method of do something, watch the results, do something else, watch the results, and as you progress through this, you know if A works, B works, and then when you go to B to C, something breaks, you’ve isolated where that problem is instead of… If you start off and do on page, site structure, social signals, all of this stuff and links, and it either works or doesn’t work, you have no idea what the cause was for the results.
Chris M. Walker: Well, there’s a business side to that, too. If you can get it all done with technical an on page, that saves you a pile of money and time. Linking is definitely the most costly, financially speaking, of the things that you need to do in SEO. So, if you can get that all… If you can make that as effective as possible, and minimize it as much as possible, and I’m kind of shooting myself here, because I do sell a lot of linking packages, but you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run, too. And get to that point where you’re just collecting invoices every month, instead of having to really do something every… You know what I mean, having to really work on it and spend a lot of time on it.
Scott Allen: Yeah. I feel like the heavy lifting is all done in month one, and spills over into month two, and if done correctly, you get into a maintenance mode where you’re not… It’s not a 12 hours a day, trying to get this thing to rank and then stay ranked. If done correctly, you’re… Everything after month three should just be monitoring, auditing, and riding through algorithm updates. I know you and I touch on this from time to time, but one of the biggest things I see that can be problematic as an SEO is when Google rolls out the algorithm, the natural inclination, and trust me, I’ve been there.
Scott Allen: Google put out an algorithm, my site dropped, oh God, what do I do? And the inclination is the, “Well, I’m going to start throwing links out,” or, “I’m going to start doing this,” and nine times out of ten, and maybe even nine and a half times out of ten, my first reaction is to let it sit for at least two weeks. And then sometimes even longer, because I’ve seen, particularly if it’s a major… not just a minor. If it’s a major announced algorithm update-
Scott Allen: Yeah, a core update. You’re going to see some pretty insane rankings for a while, and I can’t remember who it was that taught me SEO, but they had made mention that if you go in and make an adjustment after an algorithm, in some ways that can be a bit of a tell. Because to me, the best SEO is a site that doesn’t look like it’s SEOd. It looks natural, and doesn’t have a bunch of… particularly with a backlink profile.
Chris M. Walker: And so basically what you’re doing when that happens, and you wait, is what we call PlayStation SEO. What I mean by that, I’m going to coin that term. What I mean by that is when something happens, the best… and it’s still shaking out, and you’re not sure what to do, the best thing to do is go play PlayStation for a while and ignore it instead, instead of overreacting and trying to fix it.
Chris M. Walker: To use an analogy, and this may be a little crude, so forgive me anybody that this offends, but it’s like when you’re in a relationship, and maybe start having a little trouble with that relationship, and you try to go overboard to fix the problem by compensating, and being overbearing and so on, instead of just letting it be, and letting things simmer, and then going back and making an assessment. I think a lot… We see that a lot with people in the trending we do and things like that, so I hope that analogy didn’t offend anybody, but I think that makes sense.
Scott Allen: Well, it takes a certain mindset. Like I said, I was absolutely guilty of it. When you first start out, typically you don’t have… The advantage of having more clients is that you still give them the attention, but it’s not… When we first started, I think we had two clients, and if you’re trying to fill up eight hours, ten hours in a day, and you only have two clients, you are laser focused in, and you’re sitting in front of the F5 and refreshing, and when you have a bigger body of clients, there’s a natural… I don’t want to call it ignoring it, but you’re… There’s a pace to, “I’m working on this client this week, this client this week, the next one.” And it, just by the course of your workload, you give the other ones some breathing room and some germination time.
Chris M. Walker: Makes sense. Conversely, that’s one of the reasons that I won’t take on a client that expects me to give them, “You’ll get this deliverable, this deliverable, this deliverable. I’ll build this many links.” I won’t take on people that do that, and if I get someone that starts asking me those sorts of things, I wish them well in their future endeavors, because they aren’t paying me for my time, or specific tasks, they’re paying me for results that I’m able to get them.
Chris M. Walker: Now, I’m going to communicate to them what to expect on those results, but if they start demanding how many links I build, and how much time I put in, I don’t think it’s going to be a good fit. And I don’t know if you feel the same way, but what do you think?
Scott Allen: Yeah, I think there’s… That’s a slippery slope, and I know this is sometimes a trigger for you, but I think it’s a valid point. There’s a fine line between them understanding what you’re doing and what the result… I always try and tie it back to what we’re doing is industry standard SEO process, and our… You hired us to increase your visibility, hopefully increase your business, but if we get into over-documentation and wanting to see… basically sitting on my lap and, “Hey, what are you doing?” There’s a couple things going on there. One, I have been in a corporate situation, and the reason I got out is because I don’t play well with that level of supervision. That’s one of the reasons I got into self employment was so that I don’t have that level of micromanagement.
Scott Allen: The other part, too, is you start to… It becomes busywork, and you’re taking away… The way that I position it is by me having to spend time to generate these reports, which they may or may not understand, it’s essentially busy… I phrase it a lot more eloquently than this, but it’s essentially busywork that’s taking away from efforts I could be putting towards improving your website, and there’s really… You really don’t need to know how the sausage is made. Does it taste good, and did I deliver it on time? Those are the two. There’s an SEO colleague of mine that does not do any reporting, does not do any… There’s no screen sharing, no Skype calls. He basically has a 15-minute phone call once a month, and calls up and says, “Are we good? Yes.” Answers any questions and we’re done. It’s pretty spartan approach, and pretty ballsy, but he’s had pretty good success with it.
Chris M. Walker: I know some people that go even further than that, and don’t give anything other than maybe, “These are your rankings.” I also get why that makes a client uncomfortable, but it’s definitely a balance that you want to strike on. And yeah, you’re right, it definitely is a trigger for me that if somebody wants me to report to them, it’s not going to work. And they don’t understand that if… It also encourages you to be less efficient. If I’m accounting for my hours, I’m going to take longer to do something that I can get done more quickly, and I’m not going to… If I can get it done quickly, I’m not going to fill up the rest of my time just to meet whatever hours they expect me to work.
Chris M. Walker: That’s another reason, is that working by the hour encourages you to be less efficient, in my experience.
Scott Allen: Yeah, that’s… I was going to say the same thing, or when you get into that hourly, they’re viewing you in an hourly mindset, then you run the risk of having to come up with… They’re not understanding the value that it… Something may only take me five minutes to do, but it ends up having $10,000 worth of value from one or two little tweaks, and it’s you’re paying for the skillset and the expertise, not how long it took me to do this. And that hourly, I always cringe a little bit when you read posts or hear people talking about how much should I charge an hour.
Scott Allen: That’s why we do everything in the agencies at a flat fee, because it… The client gets a predictable spend, and then you get into… You’re delivering that value, and not having to say, “Well, I did this at 10 hours, at a $50 an hour rate, so there’s…” All of this extra math that’s really not necessary. It’s a flat fee, everything’s included. Some months I may just audit and say, “Yep, we’re good.” And other months you may earn every bit of that $5,000 a month.
Chris M. Walker: Well, and they’re also paying for the time that it took you to learn that skill, to be able to do it that quickly. It’s like that’s really how I’ve always explained it when… Well, back when I bothered to explain those sorts of things. But you know, you’re not paying for the five minutes it took me to do that. You’re paying for the five years it took me to learn how to do it in five minutes. So, I think that’s a little bit… I’d be a little bit more eloquent about it than that, but I think that’s an analogy people can understand. And if they don’t, then they can go find somebody that will be happy to report to them.
Chris M. Walker: For those just jumping on, I’m here with Scott Allen. Scott is a dental and medical SEO industry expert. He is very, very strong with on page and technical SEO, and he’s another coach in Superstar SEO Academy, located at superstarseo.com/academy. And he was in the band Concrete Blonde for a brief time, although he doesn’t like to talk too much about that.
Scott Allen: I need to pull that one back out.
Chris M. Walker: So, if you have any questions for Scott or myself, you can drop those in the comments. We’re just going to keep talking. In fact, that’s… This is a good time to talk about that. I’ve been doing these AMAs for about 20 months now, roughly, and I feel like I’ve kind of exhausted that concept, so I’m going to be changing direction a little bit. I’m still toying with the name, but I want to go in more of like a podcast type format, where I’ll either have a guest on, and we’ll do kind of like we’re doing now, or like we did last week with Jim, and I’ve done a few others here and there. Or I’ll just talk about a particular topic and then take questions. I think that that will… First of all, it makes me look far less pompous than the, “Ask me anything, because I know everything.”
Chris M. Walker: But also, I think it brings more value. As much as I hate that term. Brings more value to people that are watching, so that’s kind of the direction we’re going to be going with these in the next days, weeks, months, years, so on. So, I hope people enjoy that.
Chris M. Walker: Joe says, “Are you a fine artist?” I think he’s asking do you do artwork, or-
Scott Allen: Yeah, I actually… One of my degrees is in painting. The other one is in sculpture, so yes, I have art school scars.
Chris M. Walker: Ironically, that’s actually how Scott and I got to be friends, is he ordered a low dollar service from me on another marketplace, and he gave me the wrong information or something, and he said, “Can you fix this for me? It’s my fault, but fix it for me, I’ll send you this print of…” I forget the name of that movie, but this piece of art that he did. It was a print. What’s the Nightmare Before Christmas… Whatever. I’ll bring it out. I’ll roll it out and get the picture of it.
Chris M. Walker: But anyway, he said, “I’ll send you this if you will take care of that for me,” which I would have fixed anyway, but… and then we just got talking from there, so that’s kind of how I got to know Scott. That’s the background on that, is because he’s an artist.
Chris M. Walker: And trivia here, you used to always work as a DJ, is that right?
Scott Allen: I did. Back when we actually had to carry vinyl records into the club, and play right… The concept’s still the same, but the technology… This is one of those places where technology has, instead of… I think if memory serves, you’d get about 3, 400 records with you total, for a night, versus if you’ve got a laptop, you’ve got unlimited, potentially unlimited music. So, there were times where I was playing and I was like, “Man, I really wish I had this record,” and I didn’t. And being able to pull it up on the laptop would have been much easier.
Chris M. Walker: I have some friends that are DJs, and some of them tend to be purists about that, and say that if you’re just using an iPod, or a laptop, that you’re not really a DJ. That you’re just pressing play. I was like, “Well,” I guess I can understand why if you were in it that you would feel that way, but what do you think about that?
Scott Allen: Well, I think there’s a difference between if you want to “keep it real,” and underground, which is where it all kind of began, but the vinyl is… That’s a… You cannot fake the skillset without on vinyl, because it doesn’t… If you’re playing traditional, not Serato, or any sort of DJ software, if you’re just playing with vinyl records, it’s going to become evident pretty quick whether or not you can beat mix or not. With the computer stuff, there’s more of a… I think the majority of the audience doesn’t really care. It’s more that entertainment component to it, and I think some of that has… People are conditioned when they go watch live music is to look at the stage and watch the performer singing a song. And watching somebody stand like this for a couple hours is not all that exciting.
Scott Allen: So, I think that’s where the evolution of the entertainment side of it has moved more towards… The digital allows you to pay less attention to the craft of it, and more about the vibe and the environment you’re trying to create.
Chris M. Walker: Yeah. I actually have a friend who’s a DJ, and he said that he has to put on a show as much as he does control the music, because people come to that club to see him having a good time. If he’s just standing there pressing play, looking bored, that it’s going to effect business. It’s going to effect the good time that people have going there, so I think that makes sense. What you’re saying is that they need to learn how to put on a show, as well as know how to… I don’t know enough about it to use the right terms. As how to make the music sound.
Scott Allen: Well, part of it is I’m an awful dancer, so I’ve always enjoyed the music, and it gave me a way to be involved in the scene without actually having to get out on the dance floor. And I played anything. I started off playing hip hop records, and playing hip hop clubs, and then finally got into more progressive house, trance for a while type of stuff, and then I was playing a bunch of funk records, and then I… The cool thing about my DJ career is I knew definitively the last night that I was going to DJ. That was going to be it. I was going to hang it up. Left on good terms with the owner, and I had… I got to call my shot. I have no regrets with the walk off. It was a cool experience.
Chris M. Walker: That’s a pretty diverse set of careers and experience you’ve had. How do you go from… I’m not creative at all. Anybody that’s seen my Photoshop work knows that. But how do you go from doing graphics, and music, and things like that, to something like marketing and SEO, where it’s much more technical, and I don’t know, behind the scenes kind of thing. How did you make that transition?
Scott Allen: Well, I started off in Lawrence, Kansas, doing… I had just graduated, and I started to learn Photoshop, and I figured out if I could trade Photoshop flyer designs to get free admission to the shows, that ended up being a nice little trade, and then I started working at the club. And for a while it was just bands, and then they brought a DJ through, and I had grown up listening to Run DMC, and L.L. Cool J, and that type stuff, and the first time seeing a guy playing records, I was like, “Whoa, what’s this?” And started coming in when the club wasn’t open and practicing, and then I bought my own turntables and just spent hours in my bedroom just back and forth, learning how to mix the records.
Scott Allen: I finally got confident enough to play out in public, and then the DJ at the time decided he didn’t want to do it any more, and that was my… That paid my rent, my mortgage, or not my mortgage at the time. That paid my rent, and that was my job three nights a week, and it was… The lifestyle will eat you alive if you’re not careful, but it’s… You can make some pretty good money working for 16 hours a week, probably.
Chris M. Walker: And you worked with some open… Or I didn’t know if you opened, or worked the same night as some pretty big bands, right?
Scott Allen: Yeah. Some of the highlights are I was actually on stage running the side light board for Radiohead when they came through the first time. George Clinton. I think the biggest name was Johnny Cash. He did a show at the Leeds Center on campus at the University of Kansas, and I got to pick him up from the hotel and drive him over to the Leeds Center, and that was… For the most part, I never really got starstruck, but that’s the one that I did. Where I was like… He has a very obvious presence when he’s in the room. Or he did.
Chris M. Walker: What was he like? Did you get to talk to him at all?
Scott Allen: He was really quiet, and he was really… I asked him… In the ride over I said, “You know, out of the group that you ran with, who was the wild child?” And he asked me who I thought. I said, “You know, I think it was Waylon Jennings,” and he was like, “No.” And it turned out that apparently Glenn Campbell, when he was drinking, was hard to control. And we had a brief conversation, and then he said, “I’d like to be left alone,” and there was… They had a big piano out on stage, and just the single light, and he walked out and he… I did not honor his wishes, but in hindsight, I’m glad I paid attention to this.
Scott Allen: This was at the time where he was working with Rick Ruben, and did the cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt. And he walked out on stage, and opened up the piano. He ran his hand across the top of the piano, and then opened it up and sat down and prayed. And then he started playing, and my friend Doug Richards and I were in the back of the room watching this. We were not supposed to, but I was like, “This is really cool.” And when he was done playing the little piano warmup, he closed it down, put his hands on it, and I think he was praying again, and then he walked off, and it was… I’ll never forget that.
Chris M. Walker: That’s crazy. So why’d you stop doing that? Was it just too… No offense. Got older, it’s kind of a younger man’s game?
Scott Allen: Well, I made reference to the… One of the clubs that I DJ’d in, it was open until 4:00 in the morning, so if you’re drinking beers and playing music, and you… The music stops at 4:00. You end up getting everything loaded out and packed up. You’re looking at 4:30, and then if you want to have another… Typically, the staff would have a beer or two afterwards. You’re looking at 4:45, almost 5:30 sometimes in the morning, and you come home, you’re still kind of amped up. Get some food. And by the time you go to bed, you’re looking sometimes 7:00 AM, and your sleep schedule is so out of whack with the “normal world” that it really… It just got to a point where I felt like I got what I wanted out of it, and it was just time to move on to do something different.
Chris M. Walker: Is that when you get into SEO? Or there was like a corporate career in between, right?
Scott Allen: After that, I was still DJing one night a week when I was at Sprint, and then it just got to be too much with the corporate workload, and then particularly the Friday nights where I had worked eight hours at Sprint, had to come home, pack up the records, take a nap, and then DJ. My weekend was shot, and I actually… The way I got into SEO is Sprint was doing continual layoffs, and I got to the point where I decided I can’t… I don’t want this pressure, the stress, and they offered voluntary separation, and I took it.
Scott Allen: And because I had been there for 13 years, I ended up having almost a year and a half of severance pay, and insurance, and the whole nine yards, and my business partner called me up and at the time he wasn’t my business partner, and he said, “Hey, I bought this SEO training, and it’s from a group that you and I both come from,” with the three letters, and he said, “Do you want to take this?” And I was kind of like, “We’ll see.” And I got into the training, and for whatever reason, I love it. And that’ started… The way I started off is I spooled up a… I ranked for a keyword that didn’t have any search volume, and I was super proud of myself, and I’m like, “Look at this.”
Scott Allen: And it had zero search volume, and then spooled up another test site, got it to rank, and then I did… I actually went through and decided, “Okay, I know how to rank this,” and I intentionally got it penalized, to see if I break this, can I dig it out of the hole? And I was able to fix what I had done, and diagnose why it was getting penalized, and at that point we just started taking on clients. And one of our clients we still have was our third client.
Chris M. Walker: Oh, wow.
Scott Allen: The trainer that we have has been with us for years.
Chris M. Walker: That’s awesome. So, is that how you recommend people go about learning, is apply, and break it, and fix it, and apply, and break it, and fix it? Or how do you… I know you have a background also in education, like how people learn, so is that how you’d recommend it? Or what would you suggest to someone that wants to learn?
Scott Allen: This is a bit of a bold statement, but I think… I understand that when you get into this, you do need to start making money initially, but I think there’s also… With SEO, there’s a responsibility component. You’re taking a business owner’s money, that they work hard for, and if you are not confident in your skillset, you can’t deliver the results, and I think you need to spend more time working internally, and testing, and really becoming… I’m not saying you have to be an absolute master of your craft, but you need to be able to deliver a viable product, or viable results to the client.
Scott Allen: And some of the ways you can… You can do things, kind of micro-commitments. Instead of taking on a full-blown SEO campaign, start with something small, and say, “Hey, let me optimize your Google My Business listing. Let me do a citation audit. Let me help you with social media posting.” And that way you’re generating some income. There’s not nearly the pressure that comes with delivering SEO results, and as your skillset comes up, you can… It’s also a very good way to transition into a full boat. Instead of walking in and saying, “It’s $2,500 a month,” you start with a, “Let me optimize your Google My Business listing for $500. If you like that, and you decide you can engage, for another $500, let me take care of your social media posting.”
Scott Allen: Now you’re sitting at $1,000 a month. You’re not killing it, but $1,000 is a pretty good starting point, and then you add in, “Let me do a citation audit for you.” With some of these services, if you’re leading into SEO, say it’s a $500 one-time fee for a citation audit. If you decide to use us for SEO services, we’ll apply that to your first month bill, and you just walk them… That’s one of the biggest things we’ve done in the last year, is work on how to have little micro-engagements as point of entry services, that you can engage them for something.
Scott Allen: From a business owner perspective, $500 is not that big of a risk. It’s a one time thing, and that’s something where if they say, “Yeah, let’s do it,” you want to make sure you over deliver. Then they start to trust you, they’ve spent money with you, so getting them to spend money with you an additional time, or longer and longer, you’re building that relationship. Your skillset’s coming up. And if you’re in the Academy, you’ve got a wealth of talent supporting you there, and the user group, the students themselves are pretty savvy, so you’re not out on an island by yourself. You’ve got that support network to tap into.
Chris M. Walker: Great. Brian asks… Let me see. It was on the screen. Kind of covers our face up. But it says, “I’ve been asking about this in the group lately, and I get pieces and parts of answers here and there. I’d love to have the rundown on how you set up service area pages on a website. I have a client that has one physical location, but the area they serve can be separated into four specific areas. Not really cities, but areas that include multiple cities. What would site layout look like for that?”
Scott Allen: I would do a service area. URL name slash areas we serve or service areas and then each one of those city pages… This is the way I do it. There’s not a right or wrong answer, but I’ve had success with this. It’s URL/serviceareas, and then underneath those, you want to have like Winter Park, Orlando, and Sanford, Florida, so you’ve got kind of a cluster. They don’t necessarily have to be all in the same area. It helps, because you can interlink those, but take the Orlando page. So, you’ve got URL, service areas, Orlando. Orlando is in some ways a mini standalone landing page that if you’ve done it correctly, if someone searches for your service in Orlando, that page should rank above the main website.
Scott Allen: If the main URL is more driven around brand, the service area has descriptions of Orlando, sprinklings of plumbing services available in Orlando. Do you need bathroom repair? Orlando. And I have a generic services page, so you got plumbing, clogged, toilet replacement, whatever, and you’re linking for Orlando toilet replacement, and you link over to the main service, and you can also, at the bottom of those service pages, do a mention of also providing services in Winter Park and whatever the other city names are.
Scott Allen: The main thing with… I think what people get hung up on is there are literally about ten different ways to do this, and they all work. The takeaway, if you’re confused or struggling with the service area thing, is if you do… Keep your URL and your site structure consistent. A lot of guys do URL/cityname with a keyword in it, make sure you do all of your city pages are set up that same way. I tend to do the an additional click deeper, so you got service area page, or service area location. Just consistency is the main thing. If you do it one way for one location, do it for all the other locations.
Chris M. Walker: Great. And if they wanted to learn more about that from you, what would be a good place to do that?
Scott Allen: Superstar Academy. We have to have a [inaudible 00:45:21]… on that. That plumbing site in Kansas City is still… That one that I always show, and use as the example, they’ve even picked up three or four little more suburbs, and they’re doing something that I… They’ve actually got a neighborhood name that is… Apparently there’s enough search volume there, but they’re ranking for it, and they’re swallowing… and I actually enjoy it, because it’s obviously SEOd. They are a bit… There are some corporate bigger players in this space, and this is a… not a mom and pop shop, but they are a smaller shop, and it’s really enjoyable to see them get those ranking wins.
Chris M. Walker: That’s awesome. That’s good. Yeah, it is nice to… That’s something actually I’ve been focusing on lately, is trying to get some more… and I don’t even really need it, but I want to pick up some more businesses local to where I live, because I don’t know, most of my business has been from people in other parts of the country, or even the world, and that’s great, but I’d like to give… It’s corny. It sounds corny, but I’d like to give back and work with where I’ve lived 99% of my life, too. And that’s something we’ve been focusing on here more lately. I agree. It’s kind of my long way of saying that.
Chris M. Walker: Keith says, “Hi, Chris and Scott.” Hey, Keith. How’s it going? Brian says, “I’m in the Academy. I’ve gone through the section that covers location, but I wasn’t sure if service areas are different, since there isn’t a NAP related to each location.” If we’re talking about organic, they are not. But if you’re talking about maps, then that’s a little different thing. Right?
Scott Allen: Yep. I hope.
Chris M. Walker: Well, yeah, what I mean is NAP doesn’t matter if you’re… NAP is only important for maps.
Scott Allen: Yeah.
Chris M. Walker: That rhymes.
Scott Allen: Brian, I want to bring this up too, that I… For a while there was a lot of suggestion to put a map in the footer. We have moved away from that. What I’ve been doing for probably about the last six months or a year, maybe even longer, is instead of… The reason, if you put an embedded map in your footer, and then you embed a map on your location page, you’re going to end up… The maps are going to fight. So, I’ve actually pulled it out, and on the footers, I end up having locations we serve. That links to that landing location page, and then that’s got an embedded map. I’m only using the map on a single page, typically.
Chris M. Walker: That makes sense. Also, it’s important to reiterate, Brian and I, as far as we know, not related. Though we haven’t done the full genealogy to make sure yet. All right guys, if you have any questions on anything, SEO, DJing, marketing, business, for Scott or myself, this is your chance. We’ve been here for almost an hour now. Covered pretty much everything I wanted to talk about. But if you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them.
Chris M. Walker: Don says, “I forgot. Can I watch a recording of this later? Heading into a meeting and can’t stay.” Nope. Sorry. This self destructs after it’s over. No, no. This will be upload… This will stay right where it is, wherever it is that you’re watching right now, and it will be uploaded to… what’s that video site? YouTube. Later today. I am 41 now. Give me a break. Sometimes the memory is not what it used to be.
Chris M. Walker: What kind of color you got there?
Scott Allen: There’s a star, and then one of my paintings, and then I’ve got a portrait of Picasso right there.
Chris M. Walker: That’s awesome. Got a few spots you need to fill in, though.
Scott Allen: Yeah, I’ve got a blank… I need to figure out what I want to do back here.
Chris M. Walker: Yeah. Same for me. Mine is like… It covers the whole outside, but on the inside I don’t have anything, so I want to get that filled in at some point, too.
Scott Allen: Yeah. Some of mine… Some of this is a little bit faded, because I’d go [inaudible 00:49:43] and forget to put sunscreen on it, but I wanted to go back and I liked what you were talking about with the format of this, as far as the podcast approach instead of the AMA thing, because it’s… What I’ve noticed with the podcast people that I follow, having that themed… like if they’ve got a library of podcasts, and the titles are this so and so, and we’re talking about this, you can kind of shape your… If you sit down and you’re not listening to the daily podcast, if you want to listen to something different, you’d go through and be like, “Ooh, that’s interesting.” And I think having that library of… and it also keeps the conversation on track if it’s themed and there’s a, “Today we’re going to be talking specifically about this type of thing.”
Scott Allen: I think it’s a little bit more interesting for the listener.
Chris M. Walker: Right, and it doesn’t depend on me babbling when I run out of questions, you know? That was one of the reasons I decided to go that direction, as well. Sometimes there will be a spot where there’s 15 questions in a row, and then there’s none, and I don’t have a theme to talk about, so I just kind of ramble. Which I can do with the best of them, but it’s probably not the most entertaining way of-
Scott Allen: Jeff’s here so we can’t make an old joke, so-
Chris M. Walker: Right. Jessica says, “Scott, do you help your clients with their social media, as well, like Instagram, and if so, what are your ideas to optimize Instagram for search engines?”
Scott Allen: We do with some of the clients. A lot of times, just because of the nature of… Where Instagram does really well is actually having the person in the… holding the phone and uploading directly, instead of doing it through a browser. You can certainly do that to supplement what they’re doing. We do a lot of coaching, and particularly with the dentists, I have a very frank conversation with them that this is ultimately your practice. If something were to go awry for something like a HIPAA violation, that’s going to be on you, and just coaching them very specifically on… and this is going to get very dental specific as an example of what we talk to them about.
Scott Allen: Dentists over the course of being a dentist get very desensitized to bloody type procedures, or instruments in the mouth, and they like to show off from a technical perspective, but I always put the lens of if I’m a new patient, and the first thing I see for your practice is somebody setting an implant, and it’s blood city, if you’re dental phobic or you have dental fears, you’re going to say, “Nope,” and click off of that. So, coaching them on the personality of the brand, giving them a face behind the practice, and having a little bit of fun with the staff. And you can tie in reviews and testimonials. You can take… That’s an excellent place to use an Instagram video as a testimonial.
Scott Allen: This is completely borrowed from Gary V, but anytime you can take a piece of content, and chop it up, and use it multiple places, so if you’ve got a testimonial that you like, chop it up and put it into a YouTube video. Embed that into a blog post. Same thing with your Instagram stuff. We do it more of a coaching sense, to give you a very long-winded answer.
Chris M. Walker: Okay. Do you find that it… Do you find much benefit to that? I don’t know Instagram very well. I had somebody running mine for a year, because I was just… it’s not a good fit for me. Did you find it drove any business for that type of business?
Scott Allen: I think it’s good for visibility. I don’t think it directly equates. If you’re looking for pure, organic improvement in rankings, I don’t really see a correlation between the activity and rankings. But if you take-
Chris M. Walker: What I mean by it is do you actually get any leads or anything from it?
Scott Allen: From time to time, yes, because one of the dentists we work with is… He was actually one of the dentists on Extreme Makeover, so his specialty is veneers, and whitening, and when we run certain campaigns during… When we’re going into wedding season, we’re running a lot of whitening, straightening, Invisalign, those type of things, and we have gotten some leads off of the happy bride sitting in the chair and showing her, “Look at my new smile,” and that type of thing.
Chris M. Walker: Okay. All right. Joe says, “Picasso. Not a great painter, but one of the best marketers of all time.” Is that kind of a hot take? Your sound just got really wacky. I don’t know what’s going on.
Scott Allen: Do what now?
Chris M. Walker: Oh, there you go. For a minute there your sound was all weird, but I think you’re good now.
Scott Allen: Well, the reason behind Picasso is there’s a couple things. One is he has a quote that it took him 80 years to achieve the mind of a child, so it’s kind of a keep that natural curiosity, and keep learning is part of it. The guy was the original… He would reinvent himself without… He did not care. He would blow it up and start something entirely different, and always… That’s the component of him that I admired is the ability to basically say, “I’m done with this,” and put on a different hat, and do something entirely different.
Chris M. Walker: Kind of the Madonna of his day.
Scott Allen: Yeah.
Chris M. Walker: All right. We got a bout five minutes left. I think I’ll open it up to you. Is there anything you’d like to talk about, or plug, or anything you want to say before we call it a day?
Scott Allen: Just going back to with the SEO stuff, the takeaways for me today are the fundamentals still matter. I think they will always matter, and that’s one of the most underrated things in SEO, is if you get really, really good at site structure and on page, it… That’s a decided advantage over a lot of people that are in the game, that win it by throwing links at something.
Scott Allen: And the second thing is the business, the more business acumen you can get, the more business savvy you can get, the better your career will be as an SEO, as a marketing person, to have all of the… Reading books, listening to podcasts, asking people that are mentors, someone you admire that’s having success, ask them what are they doing in their… Not necessarily the nuts and bolts of SEO, but what are they doing in their business that… simple things like contracts, listening for what a good sales call sounds like.
Scott Allen: I had a guy the other day that I engaged, that I don’t have a lot of extra time right now to do a particular project, and it was honestly one of the worst calls I’ve been on, because I, “Hey, tell me a little about your service.” Well, I do branding. And that… It just got quiet, so your phone skills, even though… If you’re not comfortable, it’s worth every penny to hire someone who’s good on the phone for you.
Chris M. Walker: Interesting. So, do you handle the phone calling yourself? Do you still do that kind of outreach? Or are you at a point now where business comes to you?
Scott Allen: It’s a little bit of both. When we do… I’m always on the calls with the doctors, because I… You can teach somebody general sales skills, but there’s a level of dental/medical knowledge that it’s… I’ve had to amass it over the years, and it’s not something that I can just naturally… and I, through a weird progression of course study at university, I ended up taking a lot of Latin, which at the time was somewhat useless, but now in the medical profession, if they start dropping Latin terms, I understand, and that gives me a little bit of an advantage, as well.
Chris M. Walker: That’s awesome. I often talk about how the separation between cause and effect, the longer you can wait, is where success comes from. And the fact that you took that… not to put an age on you, but 20 years ago.
Scott Allen: Yeah.
Chris M. Walker: Has ended up paying off today, so always appreciate anything you can pick up. Any talent, any skill, any piece of knowledge, anything like that, so that’s cool to know. Anything else?
Scott Allen: That’s it.
Chris M. Walker: All right. Well, we are right at an hour, so I think that worked really well. Thanks for coming on. I know you’re very busy. I know you have other thingies you have to do today, and it’s why we had to move time, so appreciate you taking the time out to do it. If everybody that’s left enjoyed that, please say… give Scott some thanks for taking the time out to join us, and if you want to learn more from Scott, or from me, you can always join us at Superstar SEO Academy. That’s superstarseo.com/academy. This is just 50% of the coaching team you have there, and we literally have so much SEO content that we broke the software that hosts it, and I have to keep moving things around so it’ll keep working. That’s not a joke at all. That’s something that has come up.
Chris M. Walker: All right, that’s it. Thanks for coming on, Scott, and thanks to everybody for watching. And most importantly, figure out what you want out of life, go out and get it, because you owe it to yourself, and you owe it to everybody else to be the best that you can be. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next time.