Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Brian Dean, the Founder of Backlinko.com, a site designed to help your business get higher search rankings and more traffic.
If you’ve done even just some basic SEO research, then you’re sure to have come across Brian and his work as he truly is the leading authority when it comes to SEO.
In our chat, we walk through Brian’s seminal “Skyscraper Methodology” and how it can help you rank for even the most competitive keywords, talk about the right and wrong way to do link-building, and discuss the future of SEO.
If you know your business could use more search traffic but you’re struggling to separate the signal from the noise, this is the episode for you.
- Background leading up to today
- What is Backlinko and how did it get started?
- What does the business look like today?
- Link Building in Practice
- What is the Skyscraper Method?
- What goes into picking the topic?
- What are examples of the type of topics that more easily attract links?
- Do links to the skyscraper help rank my other content?
- How important is internal linking to making sure this happens?
- What are the best practices for that?
- How important is internal linking to making sure this happens?
- What goes into picking the topic?
- What goes into a good outreach campaign?
- How do you get people to care enough to take the time to go in and update an older article? What’s in it for them?
- What is a reasonable success rate?
- How do you determine how many links are a enough?
- Is it important for sites to continuously put out a high volume of content or are occasional skyscrapers “enough?”
- Where do most SEOs go wrong when it comes to link building?
- What is the most overlooked aspect of link building?
- How long does it take to start seeing results?
- What is the Skyscraper Method?
- Challenges going forward
- What ranking signal do you see being a bigger factor in the future?
- How can businesses keep up with these changes?
- Parting advice for founders
- What is the first step a founder should take to get started with SEO?
- Where can listeners go to learn more?
Nathan Gotch on SEO That Works in 2018
- Brian’s Articles:
- Tim Ferriss
- Seth Godin
- Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier
Where to learn more:
To hear more from Brian, head over to Backlinko.com and sign up for the newsletter where he sends out exclusive strategies and case studies that you won’t find on the blog. To get even more exclusive content, you’ll also want to check out his YouTube channel.
Andy Baldacci: Brian, welcome to the show.
Brian Dean: Hey. Good to be here, Andy.
Andy Baldacci: Now I’m really excited to have you on. As I was saying before, I’ve talked to a lot of SEO experts and everyone keeps telling, “You’ve got to talk to Brian Dean. You’ve got to talk to Brian Dean.” And so today I am, and again I’m really excited to have you on, but for the listeners who somehow haven’t come across your material on the Web, can you just give a quick overview of what exactly Backlinko is and how you got started with that?
Brian Dean: Backlinko is an SEO training company and we help entrepreneurs and marketing agencies and ecommerce sites get more traffic with SEO. The site is best known for the Backlinko blog which has a lot of in depth articles and case studies that show people how to get higher rankings in Google. I basically started it because I was learning white hat SEO myself, which is the legitimate way to do SEO, and I couldn’t find a lot of resources on it. There were a lot of people that talked about it but I couldn’t find anything actionable and I figured I wasn’t alone, so I decided to create Backlinko to create the blog that I wanted to read. And it turned out there were other people that wanted white hat SEO information that was really actionable, so it worked out.
Andy Baldacci: Then today, what does the business look like? How are you making money? We don’t need to get into too many specifics but just big picture, what does the business look like?
Brian Dean: Like I mentioned we’re an SEO training company, and in practice what that means is that we offer training products that teach people SEO. Right now we have two flagship products. One is for Google SEO and another for YouTube SEO, and basically that’s the whole business.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome, and one of the things when people dive into your blog content to get their feet wet, or however they come to the site first, a lot of what they’re talking about always goes back to the skyscraper, and a lot of people don’t even know that that concept originated with you. So for listeners again who might not be familiar with the skyscraper method, what is that and why is it so important and the cornerstone of a lot of what you teach?
Brian Dean: The skyscraper technique is something I developed from doing content marketing and white hat SEO for clients. Before I launched Backlinko I ran an SEO agency and it became clear around 2012 that Google SEO was less about manipulating the algorithm and more about creating stuff that’s really good, and Google would rank it. But good is hard to define and great content is hard to define. It’s kind of like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s the same thing with content. Great content is in the eye of the beholder.
You might think a piece of content is great, Andy. I might think it’s terrible. But Google is really what matters when it comes to what content is good or bad, so I looked at content from Google’s point of view and realized that the top ten results are really a competition. Whoever has the best content for that keyword will rank number one. Yes, you can manipulate your content and use white hat SEO or black hat SEO to get an advantage, but at the end of the day you’re going to have a better chance of ranking if your content is great in objective terms.
For example, when I started Backlinko I realized that I was entering the super competitive space of SEO. No one knew who I was. I was starting a brand new blog. There’s tons of established sites in the space already, plus they already know SEO so it’s really hard to compete with them because they’re SEO experts writing about it. So I realized I needed to do something pretty crazy to stand out, and I decided to document Google’s 200 ranking factors, which Google had said there was 200. They obviously didn’t list them out, so I thought as an experiment I would list out what the 200 might be.
When I looked at what was out there I realized that no one had done all 200 yet and this was an opportunity for me to create something that was objectively the best in class content for people searching for Google ranking factors, how does Google rank websites, search engine ranking factors, keywords like that. People wanted all the factors. They didn’t want 100. They didn’t want 50. They wanted all 200, so I decided to create this piece of content and in a way create a taller skyscraper than what was already out there so my content would stand out, and the rest is history.
Andy Baldacci: I’m definitely going to include a bunch of links to some of the resources where you go really deep into this method and other methods, so definitely check out the show notes everyone listening for that, but today I want to cover some of the questions that have come up in my mind as I’ve really been diving into this. One of the things especially in the software world, the most obviously keywords … I’m at Groove right now. We make help desk software, and when you’re looking at the pages that are ranking for those kinds of terms, Google has gotten a lot smarter. When people are looking for tools, there might be a review site. If they’re looking for actual software, a lot of times it’s just going to be the marketing page of a software company, rather than what you would consider a piece of content. And so for software companies who might be seeing that in their own space, how would you recommend they evaluate what keywords to really go after with this type of skyscraper content?
Brian Dean: Andy, that’s a really astute observation about how Google works, and I think even a couple years ago a lot of those software focused keywords like help desk software would have been content, but Google’s smart now and they know that someone searching for help desk software wants help desk software, right?
Andy Baldacci: Right.
Brian Dean: They don’t want to read a list of the best or rankings of some kind. They want to buy, or they want to get a free trial, so Google is able to figure this out and rank, like you called them, consumer pages for those keywords. So if I was a software company, and I’ve consulted for quite a few, you basically want to separate your keywords into two different buckets. You have your commercial terms, and that’s the help desk software, productivity app. Whatever your software does and however you describe it, that’ll be the keyword you want to choose for that. You don’t really have to worry that much about creating skyscraper content or making your content amazing. The goal there is really to sell, or to get people to sign up for free trials. So you get users basically.
Then on the other hand, you have this whole huge world of keywords which are keywords that that same person’s searching for when they’re not searching for what you sell. That’s where the real opportunity lies with SEO and content marketing, because for every one person searching for help desk software, there’s 10,000 or 100,000 that are searching for other things online when they’re not searching for that, and they’re still the same person. It’s still your target customer.
So for Groove, it’s small business owners. What are they searching for when they’re not searching for help desk software? They’re searching for how to get more traffic, how to get more sales, how to get more leads, how to deal with difficult customers, customer service tips. They’re searching for a wealth of things, and that’s where the best opportunity is for skyscraper content, and Groove is a great case study. Textbook example of creating this stuff and using it not just to get traffic but to turn that traffic into leads and customers.
Andy Baldacci: Right, and because there is that piece to it where you’re trying to get, I guess you could call it top of funnel content. Those really informational keywords where people are just starting their search into … They might not even know that they need a software solution yet but they know they have some sort of problem and they’re trying to figure out how to fix it. So when you can get in front of them with that type of content, you’re able to capture their attention and then can more deliberately move them towards becoming a customer.
But on the SEO side of it, one thing I’m curious about is I’ve just done a bunch of auditing of what other successful companies are doing with SEO and one thing I’ve seen a lot of is that you’ll see these clearly well developed skyscraper pieces of content that have thousands of links, especially in the well funded startup world, and it’s not clear to me that it always directly ties into that funnel, and so I’m wondering if it’s a valid strategy for SEO to create, I guess what you could almost call … I’m sure there’s a better term for it, but “bait” skyscrapers where the main purpose of them isn’t really to … You don’t want to do it about something unrelated, and I know this question is rambling a bit, but trying to just get to the point and basically, is there value in creating a tangentially related skyscraper in order to attract a lot of links? Will those links translate into helping the other pages on your site rank?
Brian Dean: Yes, absolutely. In an ideal world you’d rank for every product keyword in the world, so help desk software, best help desk software, help desk software free trial for X users, whatever. Then in the semi-perfect world you’d rank for keywords that are more closely tied to that, so they know they need help but they don’t know what. Like how to get back to customers quickly, or whatever. Very closely related to your product. But in reality, there’s going to be a very limited number of keywords and pieces of content you can write about what you sell and even directly related. The real money is in the tangential keywords, even though they’re unrelated, and it benefits you for two reasons.
One is that it gets you on their radar screen, and especially if you can get them on an email list and drip them helpful content over time. So for every let’s say thousand people that visit a piece of content as long as it’s the right person, even if they’re not looking for help desk software right now, if you can get them on an email list and drip them content, when they need help desk software, guess who they’re going to go with. They’re not even going to Google. They’re going to go with Groove. Same with me. Someone signs up to the Backlinko newsletter. I’m dripping them great content all the time, helping them with their problems. When they want to step their SEO game up with a premium training product instead of just reading blog posts and stuff, they’re going to go with what I’m offering. It just is logical sense.
The other way it benefits you is that those links, even though they’re not pointing to your product pages, they can help those product pages rank. The reason being is that Google determines rankings partially based on the links pointing to a page, but also the links that a whole site has, and this is called domain authority. Last year I ran a ranking factor study where we analyzed one million Google search results and we found that the overall authority of a site was more important for ranking than the authority of a specific page, so if you can get links to those pages, you can call them skyscraper bait, that’s going to help everything else rank better. So there’s a lot of value in doing that, and I would say just as much value in doing that as in creating content that’s closely related to your product.
Andy Baldacci: That’s really interesting, and I guess backing up a little bit, it seems like for this there’s the two sides of it that you just laid out. There’s getting people who may or may not immediately have a need for your product but will down the road. Just getting them into your audience so that when that need does come up, if it does, they know where to go without looking for it. They already have decided on you because you’ve been educating them. Then there’s that more technical, the links still do provide juice to the rest of the site. And on that technical side of it, how much of that just happens simply by creating the skyscraper, getting a bunch of links to it, and then magically the link juice spreads around, and how much depends on a more deliberate internal link-building process and all of those other factors?
Brian Dean: Good question. Here’s the deal with internal links. They’re really overrated, because a lot of people what they do is they will create an article and then they’ll internal link using some strategic funnel or silo method that they read about and link to all these different pages, and it won’t make a difference. And the reason is you need links for that juice to flow. Like you said, you need juice if you’re going to use internal linking, and a lot of people internal link without the juice and that’s not going to work.
In my opinion, in my experience, I’ve been doing all this a long time, 85 to 90% of the benefit is just getting links to your site. Just by having a normal site architecture, by having links to other pages on your site, having a navigation bar, that juice will find its way around to different pages. That said, it’s always better to be strategic than just rely on magic, as you called it. Magic’s great, but let’s also be strategic.
So you also want to strategically link to pages that you want to rank for most, so for example if you have a page on your site that’s just link bait basically. It’s made to get links. It’s not super related to your product. You’d want to link from that page to your most important product pages, and maybe even to other pieces of content that are more closely related to your product where customers are closer to buying. Maybe they’re not searching for your particular solution yet, but they’re closer. That way those will rank higher. They’ll rank higher if you internal link to them versus just letting magic happen. So I’d say it’s both, but 85% to 90% of the game is getting the links in the first place.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, and for listeners who want to get a bit more information on this, Brian has a really good article and infographic on on-page SEO which I’ll link up to the show notes, so check that out. There’s a ton of info in that.
When it comes to link building, the content comes first. If you don’t have the content, there’s nothing to link to, which is pretty obviously but people always focus on that side of it and just feel like okay, when it comes to actually getting these links, I can just set up these autoresponders or these borderline spam tools to just send out thousands of emails and the links are just going to come in. While that may have worked earlier on, if anyone out there has a website, which all of you do, you’re going to be getting tons of these cold emails from people looking for links, looking for whatever it might be.
And so in today’s day and age Brian, how would you recommend to people to craft their outreach campaign to stand out from the noise? Because the standard template, which you in my opinion kind of pioneered and I think did so with the right intention, but it just gets used so much where it’s the standard, “I was researching X, found your article Y, and think my resource whatever it is will be a great addition.” When that is what everyone is doing, how do you stand out?
Brian Dean: It’s a good question and you’re 100% right that this template has gotten a little out of control. I get those emails all the time too, which is even crazier. One way to look at it is it’s a problem in the sense that it’s going to be harder to get links because more people are asking for them using these annoying generic templates, but another way to look at it is actually an opportunity because it’s so easy to stand out, because everyone’s looking at this approach as, how can I send as many emails as possible? And if you nuance yours and finagle yours a little bit to be personal, you can stand out a lot. I’d say there’s two things to keep in mind. One is don’t worry as much about personalizing the email. Yes, of course that always helps, but the most important thing for link building to understand is that your link has to make sense for that page and more importantly it needs to make that page better somehow.
For example, a great old school link building strategy is called resource page link building. Resource pages are just pages that link out to other stuff. They’re basically pages that curate the best content about a topic, whether it’s a paleo diet or link building or whatever. Every piece of content that that page links to makes that resource page better. That’s the point of the resource page.
So, when you reach out to that person and you offer your piece of content and it’s a great fit for that page, your conversion rate’s going to be really high, even if you use a generic template. Not saying you should, but versus you find a blog post on someone’s site and you want to link from that blog post and you write a super personalized pitch, but your link doesn’t make sense for that page or the person has to work to figure out where your link would make sense. It’s not going to work out even if you put their dog’s name in the freaking email. It doesn’t matter how personalized it is.
You got to make sure the link adds value to that page, or at least makes sense for that page. That’s the key, and when you blast out all those emails it’s impossible for that to work because you don’t even know what page you’re pitching, and you don’t know which piece of content on your site is the best fit for that page. So from sending out literally thousands of outreach email, some with templates, some personalized, I’ve found the number one variable is whether or not the link makes sense for that page, and more importantly adds value. So if you can do that and combine it with a personalized email, you don’t have to worry about all the templates floating around because you’re going to stand out so much.
Andy Baldacci: That’s a really good point, and I think when it comes down to personalization, if I can tell that someone put time into the email I’ll at least respond to it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to put the link in there, I’m going to do whatever it is that they’re asking me to do, but I’ll at least respond. Personalization kind of guarantees that I’ll be polite about it, not as though I’m just a huge ass to everyone else, but I’ll just kind of shut them off a little bit earlier, but like you say it does have to make sense. Just a quick question following up on this. From my perspective, knowing how busy most people working on a content team are, is it actually realistic to expect someone to go back and update an older article to add a link and some content, even if it does make sense when there’s just a thousand other things they have to do? Does that really work still?
Brian Dean: Amazingly it does. Just to give you a perspective, when I say it does I’m talking about conversion rates that are pretty low. Industry-wide average of conversion rates of cold emailing someone you don’t know, you don’t have a relationship with, even personalized email, even when it’s a page where your link makes sense, we’re talking 2 or 3% conversion rate. Then if want to go elite status with the best SEO agencies in the world that find the best pages, sometimes they create content just to get links from certain pages. They personalize the heck out of their emails. We’re talking like 8%. So this is not something that is going to you, send out 100 emails and get 100 links.
It’s not happening, but in the same way for a SaaS product, how many people come to your website actually sign up to become users? And then of those, how many actually become paid customers? And of those, how many have a lifetime value that’s worth their cost of customer acquisition? A tiny percentage, but it’s still worth doing. So even though the percentages are low, I don’t want to discourage you. It actually should encourage you because a lot of people what they do is they send out 10 emails and don’t get any responses, and they say, “Oh, people are too busy. They’re not going to do this.”
The conversion rate is not high. That’s the nature of the beast, because like you said Andy, people are busy. You got to find someone in that ready to do it, they have an incentive to add your link. Like there’s a broken link on the page that yours replaces, or it’s a resource page where yours adds value to it, or they’re feeling altruistic that day and you can get a conversion that way, but we’re looking at a 2 to 3% conversion rate in most cases.
Andy Baldacci: That’s makes a lot of sense, because I’m sure if someone caught the specific right article that I was kind of thinking about or thought hey, maybe I should revisit this, reached out with something that made sense, yeah I probably would add the link. And this isn’t to tell everyone to just start sending me a ton of emails asking me to do this and hoping you guess the right article, but I do see how when you apply that to a larger audience you’re going to find a few matches and so that makes a lot of sense.
Going from there I want to shift into just a few quicker questions. Not rapid fire or anything like that, but just things that I’m curious to hear your opinion on. Back when I first started studying years ago, I never got super deep into it but read a bunch of the content out there, it seemed like continuously putting out new content week after week, even day after day, was a major strategy. Today if I look at your site, if I look at Nathan Gotch’s site, if I look at some of the other people who in SEO and outside of SEO are really doing well, it doesn’t seem like it’s all about more and more content. How do you feel that that content strategy applies in today’s day and age?
Brian Dean: I feel like to be honest with you, producing a lot of content isn’t really a strategy. It’s just producing a lot of content. The problem with creating lots of content is … There are so many problems with it, but first of all there’s enough content. Back in the day when this advice first came out, it did actually make sense because for example if you wanted to learn about the paleo diet and you were really into it, there wasn’t a lot of content on it. Especially if you wanted to read about it everyday something new, there weren’t that many blogs that published everyday, so it actually was a great way to grow your blog because you could build an audience of people that checked into your blog everyday to read what came out.
But one day, I don’t know when it was, but a line got passed where there’s more content than can meet the demand. The supply has outstripped demand 10 to 1, 100 times to 1, and we’re just talking about blog posts. There’s also YouTube videos, Instagram posts, marketing emails, Facebook posts. There’s just a lot more content out there than ever before. There isn’t really a content quantity problem, so by producing more content you’re not really solving a problem. You’re actually making the problem worse.
The other problem is you can’t produce quantity content and quality content at the same time. At a certain point it’s impossible, so I highly recommend if you’re creating content, don’t worry about how often you publish. Just make each piece of content amazing. I’ve coached a lot of companies including SaaS companies on this and it’s helped them grow their blog ridiculously when they go from a weekly publishing schedule when they’re publishing 5 Tips for X or 3 Ways to do Y, and they start publishing ultimate guides and things that actually help people, their traffic goes way, way, way up.
Andy Baldacci: It makes a lot of sense. When there’s literally nothing or minimal content out there for a specific search phrase, topic, whatever it is, simply filling in that blank is going to get more traffic for you. It’s going to rank, because there’s nothing to compete against, but when basically everything has usually multiple pages of content on it, that’s when the skyscraper method which really is about creating the best content, that’s when that matters because that’s how you’ll stand out. Just adding to the noise isn’t going to help you.
Brian Dean: Right.
Andy Baldacci: And so one question I want to ask is a bit more tactical, and again it’s going to be rules of thumb. It’s not going to be an exact answer or anything like that, but a lot of my listeners have blogs. They have websites that are active that gets traffic. They haven’t necessarily though taken a deliberate approach to SEO, so if they have a site that has naturally attracted some links and then want to really get serious about this, what sort of timeframe would you give them for saying, “If you don’t see results after this you need to rethink your approach?” When will they start seeing some results early on?
Brian Dean: It is a tough one because it’s like how long is a piece of string? But that said, you can quantify it a little bit. If you’re producing content that’s getting natural links, like you created a blog that no one’s heard of and no one knows who you are and people are linking to your stuff, bravo. That’s really hard to do. You’ve already done a lot of the hard work. You’re really set up for success, because most people what they do is they create the weekly blog post because that’s what a lot of people recommend, and they think there’s some secret society that one day it’s going to send them traffic if they keep that up long enough, and there’s not. That’s not how it works.
So if you’re creating content that’s good enough where people are linking to it and you haven’t even done any outreach for it, man, you’re in a good spot and SEO can definitely add gasoline to the fire. Especially if you optimize your content around keywords that people are searching for and proactively build links. If you do those two things, you already did the hardest part which is create content that people like, optimizing it and doing link building is not super easy but it’s not nearly as hard so I would say if you get out there and optimize your posts, which can be done in an hour or less, then you start doing outreach which takes many hours but depending on how efficient you are you can get out a lot of personalized emails in a short period of time, you can see results within weeks.
For example, when I launched my skyscraper post, this Google 200 ranking factors post, I was able to double my organic traffic to my entire site in about two weeks, just from this one post, and it was organic traffic to my whole site because like we mentioned earlier, those links help your entire site rank better. And this is in a super competitive space. This is against other blogs that are SEO optimized to the gills because they’re SEO experts that I’m competing against. So it doesn’t have to be this month or year long thing. A lot of people say it takes a long time and they’re mostly SEO agencies because they want to get paid for a long time so it’s in their benefit to say, “Oh, SEO takes forever. You need a long time.” Yeah, to get huge results to really grow into something big, it does take a long time for SEO to work, but to see something, to see the needle move, it can be within weeks or days if you do things right.
Andy Baldacci: Right, so it’s not as though everyone can expect to just double their traffic in a short time period, but for the pieces that they’re optimizing, for the pieces that they’re driving links to, they should relatively quickly see some movement there to show them, okay, things are working. Let’s keep going.
Brian Dean: Exactly.
Andy Baldacci: What I’m curious about now is going forward, things are always changing and you recently tweeted out I think it was a SEMrush survey where they analyzed a bunch of factors to see how they correlated to rankings, and link building was clearly up there but did not seem to be the major one. A lot of it came down to what you could call more user experience statistics. And so how do you see these ranking signals and other ranking signals playing a bigger factor in the future of SEO?
Brian Dean: I think these user experience signals are going to be more important as time goes on, because if you look at it from this point of view, and a Google employee recently at a conference put it well, is that links are heuristic, which is kind of like a shortcut and when Google has a million, billion pages in its index and it’s trying to figure out which are the best, they use links as a heuristic, a shortcut to figure it out. Pages that have the most links pointing to it that are high quality links, probably means it’s a good piece of content. Probably means it’s the best piece of content so we should rank it higher.
The problem with heuristics is that they don’t always work. They’re a shortcut to help, but they’re not accurate 100% of the time. So what Google’s incorporating are user experience signals as sort of a quality check. So they’ll rank that page, number one, but if people aren’t interacting with it the right way they say, “Okay, in this case the heuristic didn’t work out, so we’re going to down rank it.” The reason links are still important and will be still important even as this shift happens is that for Google to get these user experience signals, you need to have links in the first place, or they’ll never put you on the first page which means you can never get the signals needed to rank.
For example, if you have no links, you’re going to be on page five. No one will ever see your content, so they’ll never be able to analyze the stuff, so the way the SEO game is shifting is more links help you get to the first page, especially towards the top. Once you’re there, the algorithm is almost different in the sense that user experience signals take over a lot of it and they’ll bump you up or drop you based on those as opposed to getting more links. So once your in the top five or three, getting more links usually won’t push you to the top like it used to, because you need to have a lot of links and you need to have these user experience signals, so once you’re in the top three it’s more about optimizing for click-through rate and bounce rate and dwell time and stuff like that, so this stuff is becoming way more important and Google is becoming much more sophisticated at it. Which means yes, links will become less important and these user experience signals will become more important.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and it’s almost as though the links are table stakes. To really rank for competitive terms you need them, but links alone won’t be enough, and so to wrap up I want to ask you, for a busy startup founder who is looking to make some improvements to their SEO, is looking to build that deliberate strategy to improve their rankings and get more search traffic, what is a good first step they should take? Is it reading a blog post? Is it doing some action? What would you recommend they do to just start their journey on improving SEO?
Brian Dean: The first step for SEO, whether it’s an ecommerce site or a startup, is to do keyword research because that guides everything else you do. You can create a great piece of content. It could even be content that’s for your target audience. But if it’s not optimized around keywords that those people search for, they’re probably not going to find it so I always recommend that people start with keyword research because that informs everything. Once you have keywords that you know your customers search for, then you have topics that you can write about and then you have content you can right about, and then you know what on-page SEO you’re going to use, and et cetera, et cetera and it goes down the line. Without keyword research you’re kind of flying blind, so I would recommend checking out a keyword research guide that I have on my blog called Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide, and that basically is a step by step how to get started with keyword research and how to get a list of keywords that you can start with for your content.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome, and I’ll make sure to link that up along with a few other resources we mentioned and that I found on my own on your site, because there is a ton of gold there. And so before we do wrap up I like to just ask all my guests a few quick, rapid fire questions and I’ll go through them quickly. Your answer don’t need to be too short though. The first one is just, what are you currently spending too much time doing?
Brian Dean: That’s a good question. I’m probably spending too much time reading stuff and not doing stuff, or just not doing anything. Just sitting and just staring out a window. My modus operandi is like read, watch, write, go on podcasts, make videos. I’m in doer mode and I think there’s definitely something to executing, but there’s also something to just sitting around and a lot of times that’s when the big ideas come so I’d say the thing I need to do less of is just doing stuff just for the sake of doing stuff.
Andy Baldacci: Interesting. Then you touched on it a little bit but what do you think you could spend more time doing?
Brian Dean: I think meditating, taking things slow, staring out a window. That sort of stuff, I’m okay at it to be honest but I’m by no means good at it, and it’s a huge area of improvement for me. I could just spend more time basically chilling out with no stimulus, whether it’s a TV show, or just no stimulus at all.
Andy Baldacci: You had said you read a lot and take in a lot of information and you’re just always trying to learn, figure things out, so who is it that you have found yourself learning from in the past or even currently?
Brian Dean: I read a lot of books so I’m not a huge blog reader, but in terms of books, guys like Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin. The classics of marketing are really good. I also read random stuff like a great book I read recently was Blood, Sweat, and Pixels about how video games are made. It was fascinating. I can’t remember the guy’s name, but I’m always reading a nonfiction book of some kind. I try not to read business books that are too businessy because they’re really boring, but just anything that’s nonfiction is usually in my wheelhouse.
Andy Baldacci: Then going forward, what do you see as the biggest obstacle or challenge that you’re trying to overcome in your business?
Brian Dean: Probably not doing everything myself, so the scale problem. I’m at the point where there’s a lot more stuff to do because the business has grown and I have a team of course, but I’m still doing a lot of stuff myself that I probably shouldn’t be doing, and I have no one else to blame but myself because I’m a control freak. So I would say my number one thing would be to stop being such a control freak, because there are plenty of capable people on my team who can do it.
Andy Baldacci: This is the last one. I don’t normally ask this, but this is something I’m working on myself as well and so I’m just curious. How are you trying to approach that problem of finding ways to delegate more, to take a step back and not try to control everything?
Brian Dean: I’m basically still doing it myself, so I haven’t even … I’m in the contemplation phase. I haven’t really started on taking action on it, so I don’t know. I actually have no idea step one on how to get started. I have a team that does a bunch of stuff, but there’s leftover stuff that it’s no one’s responsibility so I’m finding myself doing it, so I probably just need to email someone and be like, “Hey, can you take care of this for me please?”
Andy Baldacci: And a lot of times we overcomplicate things, or overcomplicate what it actually looks like to hand off some of these responsibilities, but in the moment it can seem like there’s a lot to do and when you’re, not putting out fires but when you’re handling so many things it’s really hard to take that step back and I know that’s what a lot of founders are facing as they start adding a few employees. They’re still holding onto a few responsibilities and just don’t know how to take that first step, and so if I come across any good ideas about that, I’ll be sure to send them over but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Brian Dean: I’d appreciate that.
Andy Baldacci: If listeners want to hear more from you or just learn more about how you can help them develop their SEO skills, where are the best places for them to go?
Brian Dean: There are two places I recommend. First I’d head over to Backlinko.com and sign up for the newsletter because that’s where I send out a lot of exclusive strategies and case studies that you won’t find on the blog. Otherwise, I have a YouTube channel that I recommend checking out. Also exclusive content there that I don’t publish on the blog, so I’d check out my YouTube channel which is called the Backlinko YouTube channel, so if you go to YouTube and put in Backlinko, first result.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome, and I’ll make sure to get all of that linked up in the show notes, and Brian I just want to say thank you so much for your time today. It was a lot of fun talking.
Brian Dean: No problem. Thanks for having me, Andy.