EFP 182: Mastering SEO With Matt Diggity

Podcasts

Justin Cooke

April 20, 2019

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Our friend Matt Diggity took a fairly unconventional path to becoming well-known SEO expert. In today’s episode, we dig into his past to see if we can find out what’s made him so successful.

We’re also going to speak about the state of SEO in 2019 and the due diligence an SEO expert does when buying websites.

Whether you’re looking to start a website yourself or are just looking to hear from one of the industry’s leaders, you won’t want to miss this episode. 

Check Out This Week’s Episode:

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Topics Discussed This Week:

  • Diggity’s Story
  • State Of SEO In 2019
  • SEO Buyer Due Diligence

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“The value in diversity is just more fun and safer.” – Matt – Tweet This!

Justin:
Welcome to the Empire podcast episode 182, our buddy Matt Diggity took a fairly unconventional path to becoming a well known SEO expert. We’re going to dig into his past today and see if we could find out what’s made him so successful. We’re also going to hit him up about the state of SEO in 2019, and due diligence from an SEO’s perspective when buying websites, so stick with us. You’ll find the show notes for this one at empireflippers.com/diggity. All right, let’s do this.

Speaker 2:
Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs, want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online Empire? You are not alone from San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the Empire podcast. And now your hosts, Justin and Joe.

Justin:
All right, Joe, you and I have both said for years that there’s something inherently sketchy, or odd, or off about SEO. What do you think it is?

Joe:
I think it’s because it really is more of an art than a science. Yes, there are scientific elements to it, there are things you can measure. But you know, especially in the major search engines, they’re not going to tell you whether you’re right or wrong. And that means that inherently, at the end of the day, it’s a guess, it’s an educated guess, and a lot of times, especially when you deal with people like Matt, it’s a scientific based guess. But it [provides 00:01:33] very nature, it cannot be exact.

Justin:
I also don’t like the fact… and there’s one thing about SEO is that you’re a little bit better than someone else, and you seem like a god, right? Like you know way more than them, even though like you’re just you put five hours of study in, right?

Joe:
Yeah. And I also think, you know, because SEO is a zero sum game. You know, if you go from number four to number two, that means number two, what from number two to number three, and that sort of zero sum game leads to a lot of sketchy tactics being used, right? In order to leapfrog your competition.

Justin:
I mean, there’s a big component of people trying to fake it until they make it, right, that’s part of the SEO community. There’s people trying to make money, and that’s the thing with SEO is that because of the zero sum position, like there’s a lot of money and beating out the competition, getting one position higher than them. So that’s why I think there’s a lot of money in it, and that’s why attracts people that are a little dodgier. But aside from the dodgy people, it’ll also attract some brilliant, you know, data mining types, probably on the spectrum types, wizards, right? These people that are really good at what they do and know it really, really well. And Matt’s one of those, right? He’s one of those rare breeds that’s both the wizard but could also carry a conversation, he’ll grab a beer with you, he can give a presentation in front of 500 people, combining those kinds of like personable skills with the kind of like wizardry of being good at data mining and SEO, I think has led to his success along the [inaudible 00:03:04].

Joe:
Yeah, definitely very personable guy and definitely one of the guys who never did the fake it until you make it. So, I think that just stands up for itself, he put in the hard work, put in the years, and made sure that he understood SEO from the ground up, and now he’s at a place where his opinion is very well respected.

Justin:
One thing I found out from Matt is that he kind of like went the follow-the-guru path, which I didn’t know, I found this out from Greg, our Director of Marketing whose pretty good friends with Matt, and he was telling me, [inaudible 00:03:36] gets around for the interview. And Greg like, yeah, dude, you got to ask her about this. So you know, we’re kind of anti-guru we’re the anti-guru guys generally, so that’s about [inaudible 00:03:47] on the kind of like guru path, and we’re really going to get into kind of the things for our audience, and our listeners would be kind of like the state of SEO in 2019. And specifically looking at like buyer due diligence on some websites they purchased.

Justin:
I should throw a warning out there that I’m not great at three way interviews, but I did do an interview. I want to try it, so I did it with me, Greg, and Matt. I don’t know, I just don’t have these down, I know some people are successful at them, I always feel like I’m on a train, and then I get… I don’t know, I get knocked off. It’s not great, but I’m really interested to hear what the audience thinks, I hope they give us some feedback, or give me some feedback on it.

Joe:
Well, there’s a reason why we abandon the three way interviews way back in the AdSense flippers days and decided to just do one on one. So it’ll be interesting to see if you can pick it back up with Greg and make it work.

Justin:
I don’t know, some of those were good, some were bad. I’ll let the audience decide. Let’s do the featured listing of the week Joe, what do you got for us?

Joe:
We’re talking about listing 45680. This is a package of sites and Justin you know how much I love packages. This is Amazon associate site, affiliate, advertising there in the health niche making just over $6,000 a month net profit and we have it listed at $260,000. So, you know, very affordable sort of way to get into the health niche in sort of income replacement area, where it does make enough money to kind of do that, very minimal work required by the owner at this point as typical from Amazon Associates and affiliate type sites, and a great social media following. So, you know, this is definitely one of those kinds of perfectly situated Amazon associated sites.

Justin:
Yeah, what’s good about is it’s got the organic traffic, it’s got some social traffic, so wherever you want to dabble, I think there’s some opportunity. So there’s some diversity and some opportunity in multiple areas I think, which are pretty interesting. It’s also pretty old. I mean, you know, one of the business was created in 2010. So yeah, it’s been around a little while.

Joe:
Yeah, it’s been around a little while, it has an email list of 18,000 subscribers with an open rate of 21 percent, and it even has a VA who does almost everything on the business, and she’s going to be staying on with the new owner. So everything from managing the social media to email marketing, she does all that for you.

Justin:
Yeah, this is an income replacement, potential lifestyle, [larry 00:06:08] type purchase, right? I mean, you’re making little over $6,000 a month in profit. I mean, that would be enough to kind of get you started on your journey.

Joe:
Absolutely. This is something that you could buy, you could get into the remote work field, and quit your job from day one.

Justin:
Cool, man good listing. Let’s get into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:
Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:
All right guys, today I’m sitting with Matt and Greg, our marketing director. What’s going on, Greg?

Greg:
Hey Justin it’s going good man. How about you?

Justin:
Good man. We’re here with our buddy Matt, who’s actually in my apartment right now hanging out. And this is like the first time I think I’ve done a podcast in a long time that was in person.

Matt:
Yeah, it feels good. [crosstalk 00:06:48] having a good time here in Saigon.

Justin:
Yeah, buddy. Good to have you over. Let’s talk a little bit about your story. You know, because I don’t know your story very well aside from us just kind of chatting about it, and talking to Greg about it honestly. So tell me… just state your name and kind of the types of businesses you run right now.

Matt:
Yeah, sure. So my name is Matt Diggity, right now I’ve got a lot of businesses going on, and it’s a little bit of a juggling act, but let’s go ahead and list these guys off. What many people probably know me from is from diggitymarketing.com is where I blog about SEO, and I’m talking about field tested methodologies for ranking websites and stuff like that, and I publish, typically once a month. And yeah, that’s where my main voice channel is. On top of that, I run an affiliate marketing agency, so that agency is called Lead Spring. And basically what we do is we either build or buy affiliate websites, we rank them up, we monetize them, and then we eventually flip them, that’s what Lead Spring does. And then authority builders is another business that provides white hat backlinks for outreach, so SEO is built on the foundation of backlinks. It’s one of… still the biggest ranking factors, so we provide that. Then I have an agency called the search initiative, it’s a done-for-you ranking service, so it’s a client facing service.

Matt:
And then I teach SEO at the affiliate lab, and then finally, throwing conferences. I guess I’m in the conference game now, so Chiang Mai SEO conference goes on every November. And I know it sounds like a lot, but it makes sense. They’re all kind of intertwined, where one of them helps the other, they’re all kind of synergistic in such a way.

Justin:
It’s so weird and you have different partners for this, we’re going to get into all this in the podcast, but that to me sounds foreign, like because Joe and I have a totally different thing. It’s like 50/50, kind of marriage-business, and any other projects we get into, or what we call them projects, yeah, we basically just split but you have it to where you have your toes in a bunch of different projects or businesses that you’re working on, and we’ll talk about that in a bit. But let’s talk about like how we first connected, we were talking before the show, I think I had an email from some customer of ours that said, I have some Diggity links, you know that I’ve added to it, and I looked back and I must have been like, who the hell is Diggity and what are Diggity links? Right, Back in the day but I think we first connected maybe 2015?

Matt:
Yeah, so 2014 2015 something like that. Actually before this whole Diggity links thing, Diggity links is a business that I sold about a year ago, a little bit over a year ago. But before that, our mutual friend Kurt Philip had said, you know, like I said, you’re getting overloaded with your affiliate projects, you know, you can just sell these things. I was like oh, I don’t want to get on Flippa, and like have to deal with that whole process, and deal with scammers, and all that. He was like no, it’s completely different these days. You call up these guys Empire Flippers, and they handle all that for you. So I went nuts right away, I think I sold seven of them. And so that’s how we got started, and then pass that I mean, I think a lot of your customers back in the day we’re renting links from Diggity links, and that’s how we stay connected.

Justin:
Yeah, you came out here to Saigon… I say here because we’re in Saigon right now, but you came out to Saigon and like want to meet up with you but I was sick or something. So I was like, you know I sent… I was like Greg can you hang out with Matt, and like show him a good time, right? That was kind of the plan.

Greg:
What’s funny about that is like your Diggity marketing blog, had just started to be like… like, I know it was around before but it seemed like you were really starting to make a name for yourself in all the different groups. And I told Justin in our slide way, man, we should like get this guy to fall in love with us, so he promotes us all the time.

Justin:
You saw something going on, you’re like, yeah dude let’s…

Greg:
Let’s try to build a brand evangelist over here.

Justin:
Let’s hop on the Diggity train.

Matt:
Is that why you were so nice to me that night? Is that why you’re-

Greg:
That’s correct.

Justin:
Sucking him in.

Greg:
It was entirely superficial, until you made that D&D joke, and then we became true friends.

Matt:
Then it was true. Okay.

Greg:
That’s how I know it’s real.

Matt:
Yeah, that makes sense.

Justin:
All right, man so let’s talk about your kind of path to getting started. Now I talked to Greg about this for background, and he’d said that you follow the kind of like mentor path, like you found a mentor or someone who was talking about SEO and said, I want to know SEO, I want to get into the business. Tell me a little bit about how that started, how that went down?

Matt:
Yeah, once I got serious about it and found myself a mentor, that’s when everything kind of accelerated. But I had a stab at affiliate marketing SEO before that. So basically, I was an engineer in the Silicon Valley, and it was killing me, as you can imagine any kind of 60 hour Workweek job would. And so at a certain point, I just kind of threw in the towel, freaked out, and did the opposite of engineering. So I went and studied yoga for about a year, but eventually I decided, okay, I got to figure out how to make money.

Justin:
So yoga thing, so did you go to India or even Asia? Where did you go from that?

Matt:
I learned how to be a teacher. I actually went for teacher training in Massachusetts.

Justin:
Really Massachusetts?

Matt:
The heart of yoga.

Justin:
That is the first place I think of when I think of yoga, yeah. This goes…

Matt:
Yeah, I did do some further studies, in [India 00:11:28] for a while too. I actually taught yoga for a while, can you imagine that?

Justin:
Are you planning on unleashing like upsell to the affiliate lab with the yoga course?

Matt:
The yoga module [crosstalk 00:11:39] No, we’ll probably pass on that one. But yeah, I was enjoying, you know, having freedom and time of my life, and, of course, every digital nomad has read the four hour workweek, so I fell in love with that book. And I decided, like, I want to talk to more other people about it, so there was a meetup in San Diego for the four hour workweek, and we just meet up every week and people would talk about what their muses are, and stuff like that.

Justin:
These are like aspiring people that would go to these meetups and like talk about, you know how they’re going to escape.

Matt:
Yeah, well, a lot of them were already doing it, which was really important for me to see because at that point, you know, just look like Hocus Pocus, you know.

Justin:
And what year are we talking about here?

Matt:
I think 2008 or 2009, something like that.

Greg:
So this is like right when the book came out, pretty much or pretty close to it.

Matt:
Yeah, sometime around there so… And at that point in time, at that book club meeting, everyone was doing this thing called the 30 Day Challenge. What 30-day challenge was, dude you’re nodding your head.

Greg:
Yeah, I know I remember this, yeah.

Matt:
Yeah, I had Dale some internet marketing dude.

Greg:
Ozzy.

Matt:
Yeah, Ozzy guy and basically what that was, is they send you an email every day, and it takes you to these steps of creating a website, hosting it, and all that stuff, writing content getting backlinks and at the end of 30 days, you’re supposed to make one buck. So that was my first forte into SEO. That went okay for a while, ended up going back to the job for some reason that doesn’t need to be discussed. And then after I quit the second time, the engineering career, then I got super serious, I found myself a mentor. And he was exactly like the kind of SEO I wanted to be, he was the kind that would test everything he wanted to apply to the sites, he would do scientific tests. I pretty much just approached him, I was like, dude, you got to teach me your shit, then he accepted, and it’s been great.

Justin:
And you found him in a forum or community or something, like how’d you find him and know that he was the one you want to reach out to?

Matt:
He was like… he was on one of these forums, and the way he was coming off to me, it was like, he definitely knew what he was doing, people would tag him and just ask for advice. Like, he was the kind of guy who would have the answers. But his answers weren’t the type that we’re just… you know when people are just kind of taking a stab at it, and they’re just like, oh, it’s probably, you should do this or that. Like his would be like, either I’ve never tested that before, so I don’t have an answer for you, or I’ve tested it, and this is what the results [crosstalk 00:13:50]

Greg:
I like that, I like those answers.

Matt:
Me too.

Justin:
So this guy wasn’t like selling a course or anything, he was just kind of more like organic networking on this forum is how you found him?

Matt:
He was selling some stuff, I think he’s selling some backlinks, but it wasn’t like, that’s why he was being kind to people, he was just a helpful dude.

Justin:
So you got in touch with him, like did you pay him for coaching? Like, how did you approach him?

Matt:
Not really. So I ended up doing a lot of tests for him. He knew I had an engineering background, so I would help out with different kind of tests, and setting things up, and telling him the results, so it was a win win. But later, once I started getting success, I still look back and look at it and see like, he was my turning point. So every Christmas I’ll just send him like $1,000 and say, hey, have an awesome dinner on me, you know?

Justin:
Yeah, that’s cool.

Greg:
That’s awesome.

Justin:
It’s weird, though because the bells in my head are going off, when I hear, oh, just find yourself a guru and learn what they have to give you. I’m like, oh that sounds like a bad idea. Would you recommend that path… Sorry, I’m like leading you badly here. But like, would you recommend that path today? Like, can you be successful with that, can you find someone that’s doing good shit and reach out to them, and be like, hey, I want to learn from you?

Matt:
I think you absolutely can. I mean, I’m super into the industry, so I know who’s talking the talk, who’s walking the walk kind of thing. I could name 10 people right now, that would be awesome mentors for people, but as a newbie, you don’t know who that is.

Justin:
Yeah. I mean, there’s so many people that are posted out there too, right? And so like if you don’t know… I mean, I guess it just comes down to like, you have to be able to parse that a bit. So this brings up a point I want to ask you about, I know that you have a policy, and it’s a good policy, it makes sense to me of not wanting to talk about competitors, or really anyone else kind of in the space and like, look, I don’t want to say bad about this person, that person or anyone else. And that makes sense because it’s business and doesn’t help to make enemies, and who knows when you’ll be working with someone else or whatever. The same time for your audience, right? If they’re bad actors, and doing wrong to their clients or for their clients, wouldn’t it help them for you to call them out? Wouldn’t it help them for you to say, hey, look, these guys don’t work with them, they’re not good?

Matt:
Yeah, for sure. I think it just boils down to me making a decision in my life like both in personal and on the internet, just not to engage in anything negative, and there’s a wide range on that like that is calling out bullshit all the way to just doing a comparison post on this software, for a [SAAS 00:16:15] offer someone’s got to be a loser in that. So I don’t do any of that stuff namely, because I just kind of recognize that the internet is a battle ground with a lot of offense and no defense. It’s like playing a video game where everyone has like 500 special moves, but your block button is broken. This is like there’s no way to protect yourself, so you piss off the wrong person, they can fuck you up until the end of time.

Justin:
Yeah, yeah, that’s true, and that’s particularly in your world where SEO is very dog eat dog. Yeah, I struggle with this myself because I do the same thing. Like, you know, we generally don’t badmouth competitors, but when there are particularly bad actors, and most of our competitors aren’t, but like, you know, newcomers or people doing bad stuff, like, I also feel bad about not calling them out and saying, look, this is what you shouldn’t do. One of things we’ve turned to doing is not calling out competitors specifically but calling out bad practices. Like you shouldn’t do this. If someone’s doing this, it’s a sign that there’s a problem going on. And so at least from an educational standpoint, I think that makes a bit more sense. You know what I mean?

Matt:
Yeah it’s safe.

Greg:
Doesn’t always help on not making enemies though because when the competitor reads that content, they’re like, oh, they’re definitely talking about me.

Justin:
All right, so let’s get back to your story. So you had this mentor help kind of get you started, do you have any like… Were you just building affiliate sites for yourself at that point?

Matt:
Yeah, at this point in time, it was just whatever it could take to get back more time and freedom in my life, so freedom and time location, that ultimate pill for that I saw was affiliate websites, they make money when you’re sleeping. In SEO the idea is once you’re ranking your ranking is pretty… unless you’re pretty negligent, you’re likely not to fall off, these days it’s a little bit different you got to maintain. But yeah, that was the goal just build affiliate websites, and enough to live in Thailand, or enough to travel, enough to like have freedom of location.

Justin:
What was that, a few thousand bucks a month really?

Matt:
I think I was just starting at like 2,000 to 4,000. Like I had this breakdown, I think I saw a guide on the internet somewhere, and I’d always loved Thailand, so I was like paying close attention to Thailand.

Justin:
A lot of people say like $100 a day, like that’s kind of the first goal for everyone, so I can get to $100 a day I made a baby.

Matt:
Yeah, I read that in Chiang Mai Thailand, like $1000 a month and you can survive, 2,000 you can pretty much do whatever you want to do. Like you can go out to whatever restaurant you want, you can go to the movies and stuff like that. 4,000 and you have a hard time getting rid of it, you need to get creative, you need to bring in a team. So I was just like, okay, let’s just go for 4,000, that’s my benchmark, I’ll hustle as hard as it takes to get to that point.

Justin:
So when you got there is that when you move to Thailand?

Matt:
No, no, I had a meltdown before that, I pulled the trigger before I… yeah.

Justin:
You had to get out, you had to get out of Thailand [crosstalk 00:18:56]

Greg:
So did you move to Thailand then already having found your mentor, or did that come after the melt down and the to Chiang Mai?

Matt:
I had already had the mentor.

Greg:
Okay, cool. So you were already doing these, like tests with them, and you had some basic knowledge before flipping out?

Matt:
Yeah.

Justin:
Most people go from like… and this is my understanding of kind of the SEO progression, right? Most people start off kind of doing SEO for clients or maybe even like working with someone or you know, trading, you know, time for money. And then they, you know, do like lead gen or something, and then they get into like, maybe kind of like selling links, and then they get into like their own business. You start off with affiliate sites first, is that right? Is that your understanding of like generally the progression for SEOs?

Matt:
Yeah, it’s a smarter way to do it, you know, find clients, when you have clients, they pay you today. It’s not based on the result, you may or may not.

Justin:
Six months or nine months down the road or whatever.

Matt:
Exactly.

Greg:
That’s what I was, when Justin and I were talking about this preparing for this podcast. I told him that was the logical path for most people, but I’d be curious as you were an engineer, you probably had some savings, and all that stuff before your meltdown, well, hopefully. So would you advise someone to go into local client SEO if they’re at least cashed up a little bit, or would you advise them to go directly into affiliate because obviously that model is often more attractive, which would you advise them?

Matt:
If I was telling like a family member, and I didn’t want them to waste time I want them to succeed, I’d probably say like, yeah, go the client route, at least they’re going to pay for your education. Like they’re paying you, and you can use that to buy your software, to educate yourself on real life test cases and stuff like that. So it’s safer, it makes more sense that way. Even better would be maybe go get a job at an agency, they got their training and all that for you.

Greg:
And then you don’t have to learn sales, you can really just focus on the SEO.

Matt:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I just went with affiliate right off the bat. One, because my mentor is a badass, I’ll share a quick story. So like this it has nothing to do with SEO, but the first way he really started to make money was… oh, his first million he made, he basically had an eBook written for how to save your divorce. And so I was like, wow, how’d you rank for how to save your divorce, how did you get up there? He said, I didn’t, I just contact whoever’s name ranked number one for divorce and give him 50 percent if we can put this thing in the sidebar, we made a million each.

Greg:
I love that.

Matt:
So I was like, okay, all right, this guy’s a badass, and I got to shoot big, and I saw the best way to do it was affiliate at that point in time. And then also it was already in my head that I wanted to travel, I don’t want to be up late on calls with, you know, clients in the States and stuff like that, so it was affiliate or nothing for me.

Greg:
[crosstalk 00:21:26] a few days ago.

Justin:
Yeah, Asia is tough to do calls. Yeah, it can be really tough. I mean, Europe is a little bit better for that, but Asia is rough. Okay, so you had your mentor, you’d moved to Thailand, and were doing kind of your own affiliate thing. Why go backwards? Why go down the route of like having customers and doing you know, SEO for customers? Why do that?

Matt:
Well, this was like 2018 thing, so this is a new development. Our agency, The Search Initiative, is pretty new, at least we founded it like late 2017, so maybe 2018 at the beginning. So the whole idea in 2017 and ’18 was I have a decent amount of audience, I have leads that come in, in some kind of sense, so I want to have a path for anyone who wanted to work with me in any kind of sense. So I can provide links, I can provide training, I can do the SEO for you, so it just came in that kind of sense and we found some great, great partners at The Search Initiative, who are allowing me to work on what I’m good at doing, which is helping to develop strategy, and ranking strategy, stuff like that, and marketing, so it’s a perfect fit.

Justin:
With your businesses, and you have different partners for each business, right? So on one business, you have one partner, another business you might have another partner, aren’t those businesses all kind of connected, though? Like, are they totally mutually exclusive? So if one takes a hit, the other one might decline too, right? And they all require you in the picture, right?

Matt:
Yeah, in some sense, but I think the partnerships that we have are really highly functional. And I do… Well, I hope I’m needed.

Justin:
Let’s talk about that. So you’re running your business, you’re doing well what’s the first business you get into where you decided to partner with someone else?

Matt:
My first partner in business was probably Diggity links back in the day, which was sold.

Justin:
Okay. So what made you want to partner on Diggity links, why don’t just keep running it the way you were?

Matt:
I just honestly feel like it’s a rare case, and it’s probably not an ideal situation where someone is wearing all the hats, like there’s got to be some specialization. So with Diggity links the idea was my partner who was great to partner with when we were working together, Jason, he was the operations guy, he’ll build the PBNs, I’ll sell the PBNs, and help work on the r&d with him. So it was-

Justin:
How do you decide what the split is, like how do you get into that? Like, did you bring him on to the business that was already started, did you say let’s build this business together, how did that work?

Matt:
I’d already had like a 200 size PBN or something like that. And Jason had approached me with the ideas, and we just thought like, okay, I’m already like making them and using them, and I can monetize the existing ones that are already there. So why not? Let’s just give it a shot.

Greg:
I’m pretty curious on you know, we have a podcast actually of talking about how partnerships can be a relatively dangerous solution to helping you with the workload for a lot of people. And you have three or four business partners across your various businesses, so how do you go about vetting those partners, were they like friends before? And you know, sometimes friends that become partners are often the worst partners, so how do you go about like vetting those kinds of partnerships? What can people look at if they want to do the same thing?

Matt:
I’m not very good at it.

Greg:
I mean it seems to be working well. That’s good news for everyone else, who wants a partner I guess.

Matt:
My due diligence approach is kind of just like gut feeling and just see how it goes. But luckily, I’ve had some really good experiences.

Justin:
I mean, because there are situations where like, I’m thinking, Well, why partner, why not just hire someone? You can get the work out of them without partnering. But I guess for them to have some ownership, right, helps if they actually, you know, they’re bought into the business. It can make sense so you can hire beyond that. Do you ever start a business or you’re working on a business where you take less than 50 percent ownership or you’re like a limited partner in it?

Matt:
Yeah, Lead Spring at the beginning it was a three way partnership, and I was less than 50.

Justin:
But still equal across all three or [crosstalk 00:25:08]

Matt:
No, it was varied, but yeah, I was under 50 percent.

Justin:
Cool. Did you ever have a situation where you had a percentage and then like, the percentages were different, but the workload was unfair, and you guys had to renegotiate that agreement?

Matt:
Yeah. So that’s kind of coming up right now too like, actually, I had this conversation with some my buddies, I was talking to Travis Jamison about it. He’s like big… He’s in the same situation as me, he likes multiple business-

Justin:
Yes, a very apt comparison, actually. Yeah.

Matt:
Right, yeah, and we were talking the other day talking about, you know, everyone’s talking about the one thing you know, maybe you should focus on one business and take it to the moon, stuff like that. We’ve ultimately just decided like the value in diversity is just more fun, and safer, and stuff like that. But yeah, what was the question, why did we start down this path?

Justin:
I’m just wondering like in terms of like percentage on partnerships, if you’re… did you ever change that based on kind of like who’s doing more work? Like this is a world I’m not familiar with because, you know, Joe and I are just it is what it is, right? We have it and that’s it, but like I can see where, you know, if I’m going to be taking more of the work, or I’m putting in more of the money or both, I may want a larger percentage, and I can see how that would be an awkward conversation.

Matt:
Right. I think that they all should be malleable and changeable. I do think if someone is going to get rewarded with more equity, you should buy into it, you know, the business has a valuation, so you should buy that equity. But I think they should be malleable, things happen in people’s lives, and priorities change and stuff like that. And you know, like Jay for example, my partner at Lead Spring like happy to reward him more because he’s hustling, he’s awesome.

Justin:
Yeah, Jay, you know, recent guests on our podcast, which I did a bad job of telling his story, unfortunately, but I’m super excited. And I’ll put a link in the show notes for anyone who wants to go listen, but I mean, he went from virtually… you know, a virtual assistant in the Philippines to a partner in a company with you, which I think is just absolutely a fantastic story, so.

Matt:
He deserves it.

Justin:
Yeah. Let’s talk about the conference in Chiang Mai. I look back in my email, and I said, I remember it three years ago, I think it was, there was an email about, yeah, I need a venue for like 30 to 40 people that we’re going to have coming out. And I remember the original… At first year, I think it was just the mastermind, right?

Matt:
Yeah, just the mastermind.

Justin:
So I’ll paint the picture for our listeners, you said, look, I want to bring some amazing SEOs together, bring them to Chiang Mai, kind of show them the city, show them that like this kind of cool place to hang out, and just have a whole bunch of smart people in a room, right? And we talked about that, and you were like, I want to do this, and we’re like, yeah, cool. We’re down to come up, we’ll come hang out too. And so we came up we have this amazing mastermind, it’s a really good group of people and kind of hung out for the week, and had a good time. But there’s no conference around it was like just a mastermind.

Matt:
Right, right.

Justin:
And then the next year it changed a little bit. Tell me why you did it that first year and then how that changed for the second?

Matt:
Yeah, so the first year. I mean, I’d always been trying to sell Chiang Mai as an SEO local just because I think it’s awesome. Like I’d moved to Chiang Mai just because I like the scenery, I like the people, I like everything about it, but I didn’t know that it was such a SEO hotspot, so I wanted more people to experience it. And then I think that year, we had known around June timeframe that a bunch of SEOs were coming a lot of them from the U.K., a lot of them from U.S. just like to a coordinated vacation, just kind of meet up in Chiang Mai. So I hit you guys up, I was like, you guys do these mastermind things. Like, can you help me out with this? Like, what’s the format, you know how to do these things? You brought in like some staff to help with that, too.

Matt:
And so that was that and then it was such a great hit, and I was on such a high about it. I was just… thought of it like, Okay, well, I’m going to do more of this kind of stuff. And someone’s feedback was like, well, it’s so valuable for us, how about we open this thing up to the public so like, yeah. Well, we can’t have like a infinite seated mastermind, but why don’t we do a conference that’s probably pretty easy, like I went to that Nomad summit thing, it looked like that was pretty easy, and then that’s how it started.

Greg:
Not as easy as it looks.

Matt:
No.

Greg:
I remember when you switched the conference because you hit me out of like, hey, you guys want to sponsor the Chiang Mai meetup again? And like, yeah, sure it was super fun. And you were like, all right $10,000 like, whoa, that’s quite a bit from 30 people, like no, it’s going to be 500 people like, oh, shit, you scale fast.

Justin:
Yeah, was it 500 the first year you did? No?

Matt:
They got sold out every single time so.

Justin:
Yeah, that’s crazy.

Matt:
Yeah, 550 first year, 550 second year.

Justin:
Yeah, from 30 40 people, you know, in the mastermind to 500 people at a conference the next year. Being your first time to throw a conference, I remember it went pretty well first year conference, so congrats on that. Plus, you get a whole bunch of people up to Chiang Mai, which is kind of your stopping grounds, which I don’t love it, to be honestly with you. I’m just not a Chiang Mai fan, I had a good time this last time I was up there, for that mastermind, the conference, and then your wedding, which was really cool. So that was really fun, I had a good time. But yeah, it’s good to see you put the conference on. I know you were talking about not doing it next year, and then we were not happy with that.

Justin:
We were sad to hear like no man, you have to keep this conference going, and we’ll help you, whatever you need to do. Like I think you start getting back into it, and after a little bit of time away in reflection, you’re like, yeah, I can do this again.

Matt:
Yeah, I appreciate you guys offering to get my back on that. At the end of the day, I found an awesome event manager. Shout out to Holly, you’re saving us. Thank you.

Greg:
She’s doing good, communicating with my team pretty often, she seems on it.

Justin:
Conferences are tough, and the thing with the conferences is like, you don’t make a ton of money, right? I mean, you make some money, a lot of times you break even or make some money, but it’s not worth the hassle by any means, right? And so a lot of it is, I mean, you’re doing it for the attendees, right, and the speakers, and there’s some bit of that. It also help us with profile, right? So if you’re the one putting on the conference that helps your profile, even if you don’t make money on that you make money around it, right? So that’s kind of the point of conferences, I think.

Matt:
Yeah, I mean, ROI in terms of dollars, like it’s probably the worst thing I can possibly do.

Greg:
I think that your conferences are interesting, I was telling Justin, it’s probably one of my favorite conferences I’ve gone to and like last year, I went to 11 conferences, so I’ve been to quite a bit.

Matt:
Why isn’t it the favorite?

Greg:
Well, I’m getting there, dude. No, but seriously, yours is quite unique in that, you know, often when it is an SEO conferences, it’s just like talking about agencies like Brighton SEO, like this huge, totally irrelevant conference really in a lot of ways to us, and to a lot of the affiliate SEOs. I think you’ve carved out a very unique niche with your conference like it feels more like SEOs, like in the trenches actually doing stuff instead of just I work at XYZ agency, you know.

Justin:
Yeah, they also called it the preacher practitioner mode.

Matt:
Yeah.

Justin:
Right. You’re both the evangelist for SEO and talking about it, but you’re actually doing the work too.

Matt:
Yeah. I think there is something strange about Chiang Mai SEO, and I’m not sure why this happened, or maybe it’s the places we hang out socially, like our Facebook groups or whatnot. But the attendees do seem to be the trailblazers, so guys that are the entrepreneurs, the ones with the biggest affiliate sites, the ones that are the owners of the agencies, not the VAs and stuff like that. It’s not a conference where you send your VA to take notes, it’s a conference for entrepreneurs that… especially the networking is pretty good there.

Greg:
Awesome. Got so many Tim Suolo stickers.

Justin:
They have some conferences that you send your VA to. We actually-

Greg:
I wen to that one.

Justin:
Yeah, my business partner and you were there, yeah.

Greg:
Joe and I, were there on a Saturday with all these SEO VA’s, and I still remember Joe and I sitting at the booth, and he’s like, our competitors are jealous of us, Greg. Like what do you mean, Joe? Like, here we are, they can’t do what we can do, sitting here at this booth on a Saturday just you know talking to people that are totally not our customers. They can’t afford to do this like us, Greg.

Justin:
Looking back we can’t afford to do that either, remember it was like a terrible conferences.

Greg:
[crosstalk 00:32:49] the ticket was like $50.

Justin:
Oh that’s true, it was a cheap one at least.

Greg:
I think the sponsorship was like less than $1,000 too, but it was just totally not our target audience.

Matt:
Yeah, to find out.

Greg:
It was fun… You were there for that conference actually?

Matt:
Yeah, I had fun, but I wasn’t working.

Greg:
Yeah, it was good for you, there was Cyrus Shephard, I think it was, that gave the talk on technical SEO.

Matt:
Cyrus is awesome.

Greg:
Yeah, Cyrus is cool. So the conference actually was worth it just to meet Cyrus, but yeah.

Justin:
Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about the state of SEO in 2019. And kind of like, where you think it’s going? I mean, in caveat, I mean, SEO is constantly changing, where it is today it’ll be slightly different in six months, slightly different again six months from now. But what have you seen, like through 2017 2018 that you think is probably waning? What’s slowing down? What’s less effective today?

Matt:
I guess, well, there’re many different ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, I would say, the one that’s coming up right now is content for sure. The importance of content it makes sense, like that should be the only ranking factor if we’re in a perfect world like what [crosstalk 00:33:47]

Justin:
That’s what Google would prefer.

Matt:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I’d say if it’s not content, probably everything else is declining to make room for the importance of content pushing up so backlinks are probably having less of effect, they’re certainly not as quick to have a result, as they were years ago. Yeah, pretty much everything else in light of content powering its way through. And that’s significantly changed in my opinion with the August update, when some people were calling it the medic update, and stuff like that. What that seemingly to me was really affecting was search intent, so whereas before, you might have an article, like that’s talking about the best ergonomic chair, and maybe that also potentially ranks for the benefits of ergonomic chairs, right, a different keyword altogether. So Google might be segmenting that and having only specialist pages ranked for best ergonomic chairs, they can’t have one pillar article ranking for all that stuff. And it’s kind of shifted around in lot of cases in the wrong direction, so a lot of results don’t make sense right now, and I haven’t seen a roll back yet. I think they’re still refining it.

Matt:
But strangely enough, couple days ago, I think at the beginning of last week, we did see a lot of reverse movement from medic update, a lot of health sites just getting a lot more traffic. So maybe they’re relaxing some of this stuff.

Justin:
Do you think… so content being key, which it has been for very long time. I mean, Google’s preference would be content straight, they would have nothing to do with backlinks, but that simply hasn’t been enough for them up until today, but you’re saying they’re getting better and better at that. Is that why there’s been somewhat of a focus kind of away from offsite SEO? Like you see SEO agencies even talking more about, you know, on page technical audits, rather than just dumping backlinks to a page.

Matt:
Yeah, potentially. I mean, I wouldn’t say that Google’s so much successfully pushing towards content being the dominant ranking factor they’re trying, they’re testing things out, and on some cases they’re doing better in some cases they’re doing worse, but either way, like, we can see that as machine learning AI come on the scene like that’s what will be the focus. So it’s good to place your bets in getting better at content, whereas if you’re doubling down on backlinks like we can see it that being antiquated… is that it?

Greg:
I can’t pronounce that word either, but yes, that’s the correct word.

Matt:
I can see that becoming obsolete, given a long enough timeline. Who knows how long that that timeline is, you know?

Greg:
So I have a question there, you know, especially years ago, when you had the white hat SEO days when they were all at battle with the black hats, now everyone is a lot more friendlier with each other. But white hat SEO, they used to always say quality content, but the often didn’t really say what that meant, so I would love for you to like break down what is quality content? Is it like if I’m writing an article on gardening, do I have to go out and hire an actual gardening expert, or when you’re saying quality content, are you saying there’s certain kind of metrics to look for in that content that makes quality?

Matt:
That’s a tough one.

Greg:
Oh man.

Matt:
I mean, it’s not as simple as the mantra you know, like, just write quality content that answers what the user is looking for because it’s not like that, it’s not like Google’s robots can jump on the page and say, like, I was just looking for that recipe for barbecue ribs and exactly in that format, the robot doesn’t know what’s the best way to look at rib recipes. It can only look at the trends on page one and user metrics. So let’s talk about both those things separately, so the trends on page one, so maybe quality content, and we’re seeing a lot of interest in the industry looking at what are the factors on page one? What are the topics? What are the words that are on the page on page one? And is this piece of content covering those words as well? Do they have a sub section on how to prepare the food? Do they have a sub section on how to serve it, you know, like, is it covering all these points?

Matt:
Also, the optimization factors where are the keywords located, are they putting keywords in sub headings, and image alt tags, stuff like that. So maybe that’s part of it right there, but then the other part, which I think is much more important would be how does Google figure out if the people like it? They’re looking at the user metrics, they’re seeing the dwell time, how long did they stay on the page, are they bouncing right away? And that might boil down to are you writing content that is interesting, are you writing super dull and drab, or are you hooking people in the first paragraph? Are you getting them to read the content? Are you doing all these like, I don’t know, psychological like writing techniques, bucket brigades and stuff like that to get people going through the content? And then maybe even getting them to click into a new piece of content of yours and converting.

Justin:
So what’s up bucket brigade?

Matt:
Bucket brigade, so like, let’s say you’re reading a piece of content, and then the author makes a point like, and you’ll learn about this soon in following down in the article, or you’ll see more about this later. So it’s kind of like you make a check mark in your head that I should get to the bottom of this [crosstalk 00:38:35]

Greg:
Kind of like a copywriting open loop that you have to continue to close that loop and people desire to close the loop. So they keep reading, right?

Matt:
Yeah.

Justin:
Yeah, we do. I didn’t know it’s open loop but we did in this podcast earlier. I did, so I was talking about… we started talking about partnerships, and I said, see the partnership thing, we’re going to talk about that a little bit later. But anyway, let’s get back into…

Greg:
Naturally I feel [crosstalk 00:38:55]

Justin:
Yeah, I do that just on the podcast, I do it in most content in general because I’m actually in my head making a check mark and saying, okay, let me make sure I touch back on that later, let me make sure I touch that.

Matt:
Nice. That works. Well, if anyone’s still on this podcast right now then…

Justin:
[crosstalk 00:39:10] that’s good. So I mean, one of the things with SEO that’s interesting is how much they’ve changed the SERP, right? So it’s not just your 10 organic results or even your 10 with a couple of ads, they’ve got snippets, they’ve got carousels, they’ve got all these different things on the SERP today, they’re changing the landscape in terms of where people are clicking through, where they’re going, how they’re navigating the page. What kind of effect has that had on SEO from your perspective?

Matt:
Yeah, I mean, it makes it harder, especially if you’re a client SEO, and you’re trying to rank people locally, you know, you got the map pack, and you got like all these ads there, and there’s just a little bit of real estate on page one where people can click on your clients results. So it’s discouraging for SEOs, it’s… you have to fight against Google, you know, it’s getting answered in the featured snippets. So if you don’t have that featured snippet, you’re not going to get a click. But also like the feature snippet, is the whole point of the short answer. In case no one… if people don’t know what the feature snippet is, but let’s say you Google like how to make ribs, you know Google will give you the result right there at the top, so you don’t have to click anything that’s not good for SEOs. Like that’s less organic traffic for us.

Justin:
Good for the user, though. Potentially, if that information is right, and when it is, it’s super helpful to me and when it’s not, I’m irritated. So it has a negative effect there if the information is bad or not helpful, I get frustrated with that.

Greg:
Every time I see a snippet I’ll like click into the article, like, yes, that snippet answers exactly what I wanted to know, but I want to learn a little bit more, so I’ll click on the article thinking that, you know, the information would be at the top of the website, but it’s often like hidden within the article. Like oh, where is it, where is the information?

Matt:
It’s discouraging I mean, I think that where they’re playing with the line is like how much ads they can put on their page, because if they put on too many ads, and they hit a critical mass where people are like I just don’t trust what’s on Google, then people will switch to other search engines.

Justin:
So let’s do some inside baseball stuff. So in the SEO community, I think it’s interesting because some people, you know, are talking very publicly about working with Google, and Google’s intent and them playing by Google’s rules. Other people are very happy to talk about, I don’t care about Google’s rules, I’ll break those rules all day, they’re not laws, it’s not illegal to break Google’s rules. And so there’s this kind of like, you know, just a natural kind of progression toward different hats, right? So you have the black hat crew, you have the gray hats, you know, the white hats. Can you briefly explain this kind of like, inner SEO battle for the non SEOs?

Matt:
Yeah, yeah. So white hats would be like, in its purest sense, you’re doing exactly what’s in Google’s Terms of Service. And what’s Google’s terms of service is quite ridiculous, I don’t think anyone would rank if they follow it completely. But you just write content that’s so damn good, you get the backlinks naturally, and then you rank.

Justin:
And who are the kind of like SEO blogs or sites or podcasts, whatever that are kind of like, pretty strictly white hat?

Matt:
Most of them I’d say pretty much-

Justin:
Moz.

Matt:
Yeah, Moz, [inaudible 00:42:02] of Brian Dean, Nathan Gotch, like any of the big blogs.

Justin:
They talk about publicly white hat, very white hat.

Matt:
Yeah, yeah, they’re taking a white hat approach, and when we’re talking white hat, we’re typically just talking about backlinks like in some sense, there’s some black hat content techniques. But we’re typically talking about backlinks.

Justin:
So let’s talk black hat.

Matt:
Yeah. Black Hat would be when you’re doing kind of like illegal stuff, so packing websites, or maybe even running software that’s going to go out and spam the internet, put a bunch of content with links all over the place, and that kind of stuff.

Justin:
Yeah, up to and including, like, not just against Google’s terms, but actual illegal stuff, where you’re hacking sites to get links back to other sites and some really illegal shit, to the kind of like darker, spamier stuff that may or may not be illegal, but it’s super spammy and definitely not internet friendly.

Matt:
Yeah.

Justin:
And then you’ve got everything in between that.

Matt:
Yeah, I think the in between ground would be PBNs, you know, building a private blog network, a whole network of sites that you can use at will to link to what ever you want.

Justin:
Yeah. And then they’ve got all the stuff kind of like in lighter white hat to darker gray, right? So there’s a spectrum effectively.

Matt:
Yeah. And depending on who you are like you have an opinion on what’s white hat, black hat. And I think everyone kind of feels that real true white hat where you’re just writing content and links magically appeared, that’s unrealistic. So even the white hat guys, they’re doing their own link building, they’re just not using PBNs, or hack links, or software.

Justin:
Got you. Yeah, one of the things I was just thinking at your conferences, you have white hats and black hats, like deeply I’ll do anything black hat, so I talked to some of them. And it’s super interesting, their acceptability in terms of like what they’re willing to do, and I’m not even talking about the illegal stuff, just that stuff that Google hates. They are happy to spam, they’re happy to do all these things. I talked to some of your conferences go, hey, I’d love to sell my business with you, and we’re like no, I know the kind of businesses you do, that’s probably not a good idea simply because it’s not long lasting. They’re not building assets, they are just spamming and cashing, spamming and cashing.

Matt:
Right, exactly. Yeah, I mean, we try to be open. I mean, even myself, the approach I like to take is, you know, whatever it takes to rank I won’t dip into the black hat stuff just because simply I’m not finding it that consistent and useful, and my model is selling websites like you said, like, you guys will just say, like, dude, get your act together, you know, can’t sell with us with this black hat shit. So, yeah, I stick to mostly white and grey hat stuff, I mean that’s just what worked for me, and so at the conference, I like to be as open minded as I personally am in my practice.

Greg:
With your usage of PBNs, and you know, selling diggity links, and now you own I believe it’s Authority Builders that does the white hat outreach kind of links. What do you see is kind of the future of PBNs? I know, in the group’s you’ve said as long as backlinks are a ranking factor, PBNs will always work which I more or less in agreement with you, but with you selling diggity links, and going into Authority Builders, I’m just interested in your perspective on how how things have evolved over the last couple years for you.

Matt:
Yeah, so I mean, in my own practice. So what I mostly do is I’ll link directly to my own websites with white hat backlinks. And anything that I’m doing, that’s, you know, grey hat I’ll probably do on a second tier, or I might use it very, very-

Greg:
For our audience, could you explain second tier they might not know what it means?

Matt:
Yeah, sorry for the nerd speak. So let’s imagine like you have your website we call money sites, so this is a site that makes you money, you would link to that only from websites that are white hat, they’re real websites with real traffic, they’re ranking in Google, you know, they’re real owners that are just running these websites that are putting content and potentially linking to you. So that would be linking directly to your site, but you might hit those in the back with a second tier of maybe grey hat links like PBNs or something like that.

Justin:
Because you don’t want the grey hat links linking directly to your site because then that would put it more at risk. A really effective strategy for that would be if you have a very high profile slider page linking to you, so let’s say for example, you had mentioned Huffington Post or whatever, and then you send a whole bunch of grey hat links to that page, you’re in a much safer position, because Huffington Post can take a whole bunch of new links just shot at it.

Matt:
Yeah. And the idea isn’t to like, hit it with a whole bunch of spam and potentially hurt that site. So the thing is, there’s this algorithm called PageRank, where it’s basically the power of your links depends on how many links are going to it. So if you got a brand new link on Huffington Post, it’s a brand new link, it’s a URL that was just created, doesn’t have any links going to it, so you can shortcut that process. And the golden scenario would be like you send links to that post, and then that post actually starts to rank, and that’s the ultimate scenario.

Justin:
Why is it, just so you have like two positions on page one?

Matt:
I mean, no, just… there’s a theory that getting links from websites that rank and pull traffic can add some value. I’m not sure [crosstalk 00:46:49]

Justin:
Like a real page, rather than just some page that never gets any action never gets any traffic.

Matt:
Right.

Greg:
That makes sense, because I mean, obviously, if its ranking, then that page must have some power and if it’s linking to your site, some of that power is going to your site. So yeah, that makes sense for me.

Matt:
It’s an interesting theory, but as data points out so far, and AH Refs did a study on this, it doesn’t… The correlation between websites with traffic offering power doesn’t really exist.

Greg:
Really?

Matt:
But I do intensely believe that there’s a safety factor involved in it, at least at Authority Builders, we only work with websites that have 1,000 visitors per month. And once we did a really, really clean pruning of our database and who we worked with, the results are night and day. Absolutely.

Justin:
Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk to… some of our audience I know who are interested in buying and selling sites and how that relates to SEO. And we’ll dig into Lead Spring here a bit as well, but when you’re… Just to be clear for our audience and make this caveat, like you’ve worked with customers on both ends of the spectrum, so people are looking to buy businesses with us, they’ll talk to you and say, hey, what’s a good… is this a good one from your perspective? And you guys will do some due diligence or help them do their due diligence, and the same token you have sites that are bought they can come to you and you guys work with them to try to get them additional traffic, get them rank better. So when you’re helping someone through Lead Spring, through your company Lead Spring and they’re looking to buy a website on our marketplace, like, what specific things do you look at and go, oh, that’s no go or I don’t think we could add as much value here?

Justin:
And this isn’t just… maybe you can mention if it’s in general, like it’s a stay away from no matter what, and then the things that are stay away from but only because you can’t add value.

Matt:
Okay, I’ll reframe this just make a little bit more personal like so whatever the criteria that I would use to buy a site like myself, so I’m pretty stringent for myself. So number one is the niches I like to go into are the niches that really strike home with people. So the big three, like health, wealth, and relationships I’ll only go for niches in there. Probably not going to buy a website that’s talking about the best coffee grinder and stuff like that. Second, I want it to be expandable, I want the homepage to be talking about like health, or fitness, or weight loss, or something like that where we can branch off, and we can expand it. I don’t want it to be best golf range finders where we know the limit of that, it’s just golf range finders, I can’t get into tennis, I can’t get into… I can’t even get into golf drivers because it’s just a rage finder side so.

Justin:
You’re thinking I want to have expandability because if I make it big, I want to get paid off on it.

Matt:
Yeah, for sure.

Greg:
I was thinking about this, I’m an agreement with you on that. I have often given that advice to people too. But let’s take the example like the best coffee grinders say the URLs like best coffee grinders 2018, couldn’t you buy that and just rebrand the domain into something like coffeehero.com or you know drinkhero, or whatever? Isn’t that a solution to get around that or not really? Would you lose too much SEO juice from that?

Matt:
Typically in a 301… 301 redirect is what you’re talking, changing the domain name.

Greg:
Yeah, pretty much 301, yeah.

Matt:
You’re going to be losing juice anywhere between 60 80 percent as its consensus of what you would retain, and it’s kind of like playing with fire too, like 301 and domain renames are… Like I got a buddy who I think he was doing around a million a month for one of his websites just tried to change his name. And he’s still trying to get that back took a real, real big dump. So I think it’s just with website purchases, it’s just too big of a gamble than I’m willing to take.

Greg:
Yeah, unless the purchase, I guess, is extremely undervalued or something along those lines.

Matt:
Right, right. Exactly.

Greg:
Interesting.

Matt:
But other things I look at is I like to see big, like conversion mistakes, you know, like, if it’s ever confusing on how to buy something like that’s a real big win for me, like I’ll snatch it up real quick. If they’re recommending products, like on Amazon that are out of stock or… and they have top five lists and the number one or the number two is not even in stock or it has bad reviews, and that’s a quick win for us. And then also like, I really don’t like to buy Amazon sites, I like them mixed up, like their needs to be some options, maybe just a portion of that to be Amazon, because I don’t like working with Amazon.

Greg:
Now, if you were looking at Amazon affiliate sites, because often those sites are monetize just by one network, right? Would you look at to see if there’s other offers for that niche, even though that website might only be monetizing through Amazon, then purchase that site, just switch the links to a different network?

Matt:
Yeah. And you can know that like, once you’ve been in the game for a little bit like you know that right away, like if it’s a physical product, it’s either going to be like on Amazon or Rakuten, like Walmart’s program or something like that. So that’s another reason why I’m sticking to like health, wealth and relationships because you’re getting into supplements there, you’re getting into, you know, eBooks and guides and-

Greg:
Things with higher tickets often.

Matt:
Exactly, exactly.

Justin:
So specifically, when you’re doing due diligence, like you’ll, go to the site and click through and look at the products that are being recommended, and see if they’re out of stock, see if they’re not, you know, Best in Show or, you know, best in the market and say, oh, there’s an opportunity here, because if they’re not selling the best product or whatever, there’s better products out there, the conversions probably aren’t as good and you’re thinking if I can just point them to a product that’s better, they’re likely to convert more, which will make me more money, that kind of thing.

Matt:
Yeah, for sure.

Justin:
And you look for, you know, where they’re talking about buying the product and not linking them right there, maybe they have a button to buy, but it’s like odd it’s not placed Well, it’s like no thought has been put into conversion rate optimization or CRO. And you’re like I have a few quick wins I can get out of this.

Matt:
And the quick wins are important too, because SEO is a variable, you know, SEO, you don’t know how long it’s going to take to get a kick in, we have really good track record, especially with buying sites from Empire Flippers. But that said, there’s no guarantee with conversion, it’s guaranteed like you know, your processes, you know, like these kind of buttons, you’re going to increase conversion. You know, that like just putting a CTA at the bottom of the post every single time because people like to skip to the bottom is a good thing to do. So those are quick wins that’s the first thing I look at before I get into the other stuff.

Justin:
Do you look for sites that are ranked on page two or three for some high value keywords or you looking like first page at the bottom that you can bump them a couple of spots like what do you look for there?

Matt:
We definitely need some… I want to see a lot of keywords on page one, like page one is-

Justin:
Even lower volume keywords, any really but…

Matt:
Yeah, I mean even one website we got from you guys like mid June, when we got that thing, it was ranked pretty much number one or number two for everything, so at first glance, you would think like, okay, there’s nowhere for this site to go. But we’re not considering other content, other things to get into, so that’s another thing you can do too, you can run [AH Refs 00:53:21] and do a content gap analysis, compare this website versus other websites in the niche, and you see a, oh, they didn’t talk about these 40 different things. But it’s ranked number one and two for all the other stuff, so it probably can rank one and two for this stuff too.

Greg:
And probably easier too, right? Because there’s the authority already built in, little bit of age.

Justin:
It’s a good sign that it’s already proven to be a winner with Google, like Google says, I like this site, I’m happy to rank it number one, number two, number three, for these keywords. So basically, just give me content around these other keywords, and I’m likely to have that site do well.

Matt:
Yeah.

Justin:
Let’s talk about PBNs a bit, because I know that’s been a big part of your strategy, kind of like heading into 2019 and we’ve talked about it before. That’s less going forward, that’s not as much of a focus for you, you’re doing more on site stuff, but, you know, we’re one and only companies in our space, I think brokers in our space to actually list whether there’s a PBN or not, right? Which I think is we did based on we want to be transparent and open and up front with everyone, I think that’s helpful. Part of our analysis of looking for PBNs and determining PBNs came from you, actually, we you had you… we flew you down and had you meet with our team, and did some like, you know, a backend kind of work with our operations team in terms of like how to spot PBNs, what to look for in PBNs, which I think is really helpful.

Justin:
Talk to me a little bit about the difference in PBN, because as we display it to our customers, it’s either PBN or no PBN, but that doesn’t talk about the wealth of grey that’s in the PBN industry and in the PBNs overall. So talk to me a little about the differences there.

Matt:
Yeah. So I mean, I only really know my own experience with running a PBN network so and the diggity links is over 10,000 PBNs within that network and it’s all divided up into multiple networks and segregated it’s very, very smart. And we’ve had, you know, people that have master’s degrees work on like hiding it from footprints and stuff like that, and it chugged along, it’s still chugging along in the form of rank club the new ownership. And I can say from experience the only time those PBNs ever have trouble is when a client would break the terms of service, and ordered links from another PBN, and then that would trigger their site getting looked at which would fall back into some splash damage on our site. So I’m just pretty skeptical on you know, any… like, I won’t buy any websites from you guys that are using PBN just because I know they’re not mine, and I’m just assuming they’re not going to be as high quality, and I don’t want to take that risk.

Matt:
But, I mean, those are the people that have great reputations in the industry for providing good PBNs and the public knowledge on how to create one correctly is pretty good. Like anyone building a PBN just searches and follows due diligence should be able to create them pretty good.

Justin:
Who’s talking about how to build them from scratch right now that our listeners could check out?

Matt:
Daryl Rosser has got a great guide, that’s been-

Justin:
Lionzeal?

Matt:
Yeah, Lionzeal, it’s been a solid guide forever, and then for the nitty gritty just jumping into like a group called like the Proper PBN group and find like the small details and stuff like that.

Greg:
From an investor perspective looking at buying a site and, you know, they’re not super knowledgeable about SEO or maybe even online businesses, but they see the cash on cash return that they can get, by investing into these sites over say like real estate, even if they get hit slightly on affiliate type that they buy it’s often still better than the other traditional investments like stocks and real estate, what would be your suggestion for them, like should they take the risk on a site with a PBN? And is there anyone that should take a risk on buying sites or the PBN, and how does that look like for you? Like obviously for you is not the case because you build your own, you have 10,000 of them but for someone else looking at it, what would you suggest for them?

Matt:
I mean, yeah, it’s a perspective thing like you’re right people that are used to traditionally investing in real estate, they’re going to win no matter what compared to what they’re normally doing, even with the risk, but either way, like you can still get rid of those PBNs that they’re pointed to a website. Let’s say there’s 30 PBNs pointing to a website like you can replace that with outreach links, and typically you want to place at a rate of like two to three outreach links for [its 00:57:25] PBNs, so they could peel that off and replace the risk.

Justin:
There’s a guy sold with us that has a whole history of his taking the PBN and replaces it over time. So it’s basically going from gray hat to white hat and then head up selling the business with us. I’m forgetting do you remember the person?

Greg:
Doug Cunnington and Rob Atkinson, they did a case study.

Justin:
Was it, Doug and Rob? Yeah, I’ll link to that in the show notes if anyone’s curious about that, but it’s basically taking, you know, a PBN site and then… Like how to turn it white hat, it’s really good content.

Greg:
That’s interesting. I believe their main concept was I use the PBNs to get that initial rankings, and you get the traffic is come in, and some sales, and all the good metrics. And then as you replace them with outreach links, Google still ranks you because of all of the traffic you’re getting, right? So it’s like, well, they lost some links, but there’s really good traffic, good engagement.

Justin:
The initial boost from PBNs aren’t as effective as they used to be. It’s still taking longer even with PBNs than it used to. So they’re at least part of that benefit is gone away to some degree.

Matt:
I think that you’re right, there’s a delay, whereas like, couple years ago, we would typically see movement within seven to 10 days. Now you’re seeing movement you know, 21 to 28 days something like that. But the impact, the magnitude of a PBN link is still just crazy.

Justin:
Yeah.

Matt:
It boggles my mind.

Greg:
Yeah, control everything, right? The anchor tags everything so.

Matt:
You’re getting homepage links, you know, like, how often… Who do you guys link to on Empire Flippers home page? No one probably, right? That’s a big chunk of like link asset real estate that’s firepower, and we have 10,000 of them, you know.

Greg:
I think we actually do link on our homepage to all the places we’ve been published in.

Justin:
Like press mentions or something?

Greg:
Maybe I [should 00:59:02] just refer that to a money page on our site.

Justin:
No, we do. Yeah. But the thing about that any place that mentions us, right, like that’s fine to link to because they are Forbes or whatever, you know what I mean, more likely it’s major sites, it’s not like… Yeah. We should give Matt a link.

Greg:
He might have one actually.

Justin:
[crosstalk 00:59:22]

Matt:
You definitely have some inner page links on our website. Yeah.

Justin:
What makes you know… because a lot of our clients are mutual, right? They’ve sold with us, they’re buying with us, and they’re also doing business with you to the point of… and I haven’t done the math, I could count up needed or something. But we’ve done multiple, seven figures together, when you think of you, and our mutual, our shared clients. There are some customers in there some clients of ours and yours that are super successful, let’s talk about like, what are some of the commonalities with the ones that have done very well the ones are regularly buying and selling businesses, or buying and holding and growing, the ones that are, you know, building from scratch and selling really quick repeat over and over and again, what are some things that make them successful?

Matt:
These characteristics would first include detail oriented-ness and intimate knowledge of how SEO works. And I would say like I don’t often see, you know, like hobby SEO is doing really good in the affiliate game and the buying and selling just it’s changes so much. And so many things are different this year than last year. I think-

Justin:
These are pros.

Matt:
Yeah, they know what’s going on, they’re full time SEO I would say the people I think what you’re referring to.

Justin:
Yeah, they don’t have a job, they’re not doing this on the side, like this is what they do.

Matt:
Right, right. The ability to build a team, you know, like you got your content team, you got your link building team, you know, any high level operator can’t be buried down with the like the nitty gritty on content or link building.

Greg:
I think that’s a really interesting thing you bring up I’ve seen this in many groups, and you’ve always given the best answer when you’re in the group and you reply to it. I just thought the other day actually a guy said, you know, people tell me I have to do all the keyword research, I can’t just outsource it because I’m like the CEO. And I responded to him, well, if you do any other kind of marketing, does that mean you’re going to do like 100 percent of it because you’re the CEO? But I’ve seen your response on that were like, well, you’ve learned keyword research, why can’t you just teach someone. Like if you learn it, you can teach it to someone else, right? So what’s your philosophy on building teams with SEO as you go from this kind of freelancer into, you know, a bigger operation? Like how do you structure all that?

Matt:
Yeah, I think specialization for sure, the link building can be broken down into link prospecting, finding the targets for links, writing the content for links and the outreach to links too, so you could break that down into three different jobs. But I think from the operators standpoint, what you want to do is just hire the middle manager, the link building manager, he worries about if he needs a prospector, or maybe just to buy the prospecting list or something like that. But once you’re getting down to the super nitty gritty on like, all the individual people at the bottom, like that’s where it probably gets cumbersome. And if they’re all reporting to you, you’re dead. So I would say focus on the middle management for sure.

Greg:
What does your team structure looking at right now? What kind of, you know, departments and sub departments do you have in your operations?

Matt:
Yes, I’m function as CEO at Lead Spring, and Jay is the COO, that’s chief operation officer, underneath him he’s got, you know, content writers, he’s got link builders, he’s-

Justin:
Do they all report to him directly, or does he have like lieutenants?

Matt:
Yeah, he’s got lieutenants, for sure. I think he’s probably got five direct reports something like that.

Justin:
That’s good. That’s in my, you know, napkin math. Like that’s about the most you want to have like three to five direct reports works above that, it just gets… you’re doing them a disservice.

Matt:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so that’s the structure like we try to go with, you know, a hierarchical structure all the way down to the bottom.

Justin:
Cool. Hey, man, we’re getting toward the end of it here. I just wanted to I know you’re not going to talk bad about your competitors, but maybe you’ll talk positively about a few. So for anyone that’s listening to this and going I think I want to find out more about all this SEO stuff, like what SEO people out there are saying good stuff, who’s making good noises in the space?

Matt:
Yeah, it’s interesting. So I think one of the best blogs AH Refs, so they’re putting out good content all the time. I definitely you know, read a lot of their stuff.

Greg:
Hopefully you read that blog post I wrote on that blog.

Matt:
On the blog in the blog?

Greg:
The blog in the blog [crosstalk 01:03:19]

Matt:
I’m sure I read it. I have a roundup too on my site where I curate like the best post of the month. So that’s a good place like if you don’t want to scour the internet to see like, what I think is true, and what I think is interesting, so that’s a good place to go. On top of that, I think the guys over at Traffic Think Tank are pretty solid, Nick Eubanks and these guys are putting out some good data research and a good technical SEO foundations. Yeah, there’s a ton Charles who unfortunately couldn’t be with us for a different podcast, he’s putting out some good information too. So there’s a lot of people. Yeah, I can’t say… I’m not going to say who do [crosstalk 01:03:55] I almost did but-

Justin:
I almost got it out of you. Well, thanks for the good recommendations. Let’s talk about where people can find you if they want to reach out.

Matt:
Yeah, diggitymarketing.com that’s my blog, you can read up all my latest posts, it’s very data back test driven kind of stuff, if you want to partner Lead Sring has a JV program it’s currently closed but we’re looking to open it soon What we do is basically, let’s say you get an affiliate website making X amount per month, and you’ve run out of time, or you get bored with it, or you run out of resources, we’d partner, and whatever we add to that we would split 50/50 so it’s a true JV structure. If you need backlinks, authority.builders and if you want to come hang out, Chiang Mai SEO conference.

Justin:
Cool, man, appreciate you coming on the show.

Matt:
Thank a lot.

Greg:
Definitely, was good to have you man.

Matt:
Awesome.

Speaker 2:
You’ve been listening to the Empire podcast. Now some news and updates.

Justin:
All right, Joe time for some news and updates. First of all, I should just say that we are on track to hit our Q1 goal for 2019 which is really exciting. We’ve had some ups and downs over the previous quarter, definitely Q1 at 2019 is looking solid as ever.

Joe:
Yeah, very happy with the way this quarter is going. We did 32 deals in February, we’re already at eight deals for March. And so that’s great news, and very excited to hit that where it is, now it always is nice start the year off right.

Justin:
Yeah, yeah, it’s a very what have you done for me lately? I love how Alex who runs… he’s our sales director over there running the sales team was like, deal a day guys, deal a day, it was like driving the sales guys, and they were getting all fired up about it, that’s pretty awesome. I hope we can keep that up in March that’ll definitely help us get there.

Joe:
Yeah, I think I mean, when you’re able to do something like 32 deals in 28 days, it really speaks to the amount of volume we can do at Empire Flippers, and having a team that’s segmented and expertise in just one particular area, and the machine is working as predicted.

Justin:
One other bit of update that we want to put out is, you know, we’ve been, I guess, dissatisfied with kind of, you know, the overall kind of like industry information that’s out there. And so we’ve been working on for quite a while now an industry report for 2019 that we were going to come out with. It’s a lot of work though, we have quite a few people in our marketing team working on this. We want to make sure that we get the numbers right, that we’re digging through the data correctly, and coming up with some assumptions for 2019 that are based on fact. And you know, the plan is to have that out by the end of the quarter. So by the end of March, we should have something out for all our listeners and our audience. We’re really proud of this one, I think there’s been a lot of work that’s put into it. I think it’s really interesting in terms of like looking back at the deals that we’ve done, and the deals that have been done in the industry, so we can’t wait to share that with everyone, it’ll be great.

Joe:
I’m really looking forward to this report as well. It’s going to be a great report and something that I think will be very popular with our audience.

Justin:
All right man let’s move into the listener shouts also those the indulgent ego boosting social proof segment. First up, iTunes reviews, we got nothing new man, no new iTunes reviews. So if you listen to this podcast and you’re thinking that you love the show, make sure to head over to iTunes, and give us a review we’ll really appreciate it, we’ll also give you a shout on the show. We do have a question from Bry on Twitter who said, I have a question about your Amazon merchant accounts. How does it work when you sell it? Do you have to release the Amazon account attached to it? The answer Bry is yeah, so when you’re selling like merch business, you’re going to have to include the Amazon account along with that business.

Joe:
Yeah, and I’ll just add one more thing further Justin, Bry, you’re probably familiar with the Amazon merch Terms of Service. It says, generally, you cannot transfer accounts, and the only exception to that rule or one of the exceptions to that rule, and an important exception to that rule is when you sell the business. So when selling the business, the account is transferable, at least in the United States, and it’s something that we have to have done, especially on the merchant side.

Justin:
Yeah, they don’t want people selling accounts only they don’t want people that have been, let’s say, banned from the platform, trying to get someone else to give them their merchant, like those are the things that they’re really trying to avoid, terms of sale and business and transfer account, that’s perfectly fine.

Joe:
Yeah, and just to be clear, with Amazon Associates, we don’t do an account transfer there, we simply have the buyer either set up a new account or use his existing account to create a new code. And then we put that code on the website for him. So that’s part of our service here at Empire Flippers.

Justin:
Another question from [inaudible 01:08:12] it says, hey there if a deposit is returned, under what name will it appear in our bank account? Well, thanks for the question [inaudible 01:08:21] I’ll give this to you Joe, it’s an easy one.

Joe:
Yeah, easy one, it’s going to come right back in as Empire Flippers just like you would with any other merchant, if you went to the Ace Hardware, you bought something there, and you went ahead and returned it, it would come back as Ace Hardware. So you should see that pop up.

Justin:
Cool. All right man, got a couple of mentions on some blogs, we’re actually doing a lot more profiles, and looks into the stories behind our customers, kind of like what led them to buy or sell, what their lifestyle is like, what they were looking to accomplish? We’ve got a really interesting one from Chris and Sandra [inaudible 01:08:49], they’re a married couple and they need more time with their son, and they can’t get away from their job. So I think it’s fascinating, like there’s all these stories that are being told in terms of like narratives, right in terms of like what their current dreams and goals are. And I want to put more of that out rather than just the kind of hard numbers, I just think it’s compelling and interesting, and I think it’s going to motivate someone, and help them kind of like, you know, get to the next step, and that’s great. But I’ll put a link to that in the show notes about Chris and Sandra, I think it’s really fascinating.

Justin:
We got another really great post over on Matthew Woodward’s blog, and it’s basically a behind the scenes on $190,000 sale that just went live, and I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. All right, that’s it for episode 182 of the Empire Flippers podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back soon with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at empireflippers.com/diggity, and make sure to follow us on Twitter at Empire Flippers. See you next time.

Joe:
Bye. Bye, everybody.

Speaker 2:
Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire podcast with Justin and Joe. Hit up empireflippers.com for more that’s empireFlippers.com. Thanks for listening.


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