When should you niche down for SEO? John Doherty from Credo



Reading Time

38 minute read

Would you have a better chance at ranking in Google if you only covered one small subtopic?

And for how long should you do that (until you start to branch out and focus on other topics? Specifically for SEO?)

Should you ever branch out and focus on other topics?

Today’s lovely guest is none other than John Doherty from Credo!

He’s a long-time SEO, and his company helps connect marketers/agencies with companies who need trusted marketers πŸ™‚ We chat about:

  • Tips for hiring contractors/freelancers (and getting hired as a freelancer I’d argue)
  • How specific do you need to be in terms of SEO content?
  • How can you compete against the big brands who are competing in Google w/ multiple sites?
  • And more πŸ™‚


Listen to my episode with John Doherty:

or listen on Apple Podcasts \\ Google Podcasts

Here’s the full transcript:

Hey, thanks for having me, man. It’s good to connect with you.

Pete McPherson
It is good to connect with you as well. So I’ll share for people who don’t know you as well. We got connected through a mutual acquaintance friend of ours, and I’d heard your name from two or three different people. I feel like I’m not even sure who who Excuse me, but your name is popped up.

And, Credo.

I actually want to start, we’ll go back, maybe get some of the john backstory, and then we’ll talk about SEO, and some of the cool marketing stuff. But right off the bat, why don’t you give us like a great elevator pitch and don’t hold back from pitching either, like give us the full pitch on how the freelancers and or marketers out there could benefit from credo as well as teams looking to hire freelancers, agencies, that sort of stuff for their marketing needs.

Give us the solid. What is credo and how awesome are you guys?

Absolutely. I would love to do that. Pete So credo is my company that I started working on full time around September 2015. And the easiest way to think about it is we help businesses that are looking to hire the right digital marketing firm, find and hire that firm.

So we have a network of digital marketing agencies and consultants, firms is my catch all word that we have vetted out, we have seen a couple of their clients, we’ve seen their metrics, we’ve talked to their clients, we’ve gone deeper with them about how they how the agency delivers work, how they sell, work, all those things, and basically have three different ways that we vet them out.

One is professionalism, how professional are their deliverables? How professional are they on the phone, that sort of thing? results? What results do they get for their clients? What are they really really world class at right so they’re world class at SEO, but they also offer say, Facebook ads but they only do it as kind of an add on we’re not going to send them dedicated Facebook ads project so we know that about them.

And then thirdly culture do we like them? Right? We have a call with with them and would we want to hire them ourselves? So basically, I have a team here at credo that we work closely with the clients that are coming through the platform and looking to find and hire that firm.

So we’re also all about educating and helping the people on the on the client side, you know, directors of marketing, etc, often tend to be the people that we work with best and that we can provide the most value to because they’re so busy, but maybe they’re not building out a team.

We work with them closely as a high touch process all the way through to finding hiring the right digital marketing firm, so And of course, we’re all about educating them. If you go to get credo.com slash executive that will take you to a page where we’ve actually written out a guide called the busy executives guide to hiring a digital marketing firm. So that is that that’s free and you know, an open so and then on the on the agency side and consultant side, we have actually helped over 2500 companies we’ve seen over 2500 companies looking to spend, you know, a lot of money, the total amount of project, value and volume we’ve seen come through the platform last year and up years is approaching 70 million dollars so we’ve seen a lot of a lot of companies and helped a lot of companies find and hire the right firm.

So you know, we’re opening back up the network, actually in June and so if you go to get credo comm slash pros, there’s a sign up form there. And agencies consultants are interested in learning more and getting onto the network when we reopen it next month. Or in June 2019. Whenever this comes out, you can do that.

Pete McPherson
Okay. Thanks John.

Long, long elevator ride Pete.

Pete McPherson
It was a long elevator ride to be quite record, but no, it’s okay. Totally cool. Something I liked when I was talking to Ross and Ross brought up your name. I was like, wait, I’ve heard of them. I heard it. Let me go check out credo getcredo.com.

And one of the cool things I kind of walked away with is trust, your selling trust, if there was like No need if people didn’t have problems going and finding marketers that like delivered and performed well and did their job and were pleasant to deal with. If people didn’t have those problems, your company would not exist, but what you sell is like this trust factor of like We’ve vetted these people…

There’s, there was a question here, john, quite frankly, I’ve already screwed it up. But I just wanted to point out for everybody listening, what I think is really cool is that in the age of whatever we’re in right now, more and more businesses coming online, more and more marketers offering those services by the way, that might, you know, come to be involved with credo and your clients.

What you sell is trust. Do you see it that way?

Absolutely. Absolutely. And so it’s funny because before we were talking, you asked me if the it is pronounced credo or credo. credo is actually a, it’s a play on the word credibility. So it could be credo, but yeah, absolutely. So we pride ourselves in providing a signal in a very noisy industry, where it’s hard to know who to trust Who do you listen to all those sorts of things. You know, I’m we’re for marketers, by marketers.

I’ve been a marketer for a decade now agency side in house and as a solo consultant as well. So you know, I know what it takes to vote to hire also to be hired. You know, hired a lot of consultants and agencies and such through with credo as well to help me out with just building the company. So kind of seen it from all sides.

And so it’s it’s kind of a, you know why go and try to do it yourself? You know and risk wasting a lot of money and a lot of time and also not seeing the results when you can come to someone like us or come to us, and we will help you do it right the first time.

Pete McPherson
I like that. I like that a lot.

And as I mentioned before, there wasn’t a very specific question I had, but I kind of wanted people to just think about that for their own blogs and businesses and whatever they’re doing right now.

Just think about that what is required going forward in terms of trust?

I don’t know, I feel like it’s becoming more and more important, like every single day in digital marketing. So thanks for that. By the way. There’s a little unclear.


Pete McPherson
We’re going to talk about two things later in the episode and by later I mean like five minutes from now I want to kind of ask you about hiring, specifically hiring contractors, freelancers, something that my audience would probably get a lot of value out of even on a small scale, by the way, and general SEO.

But before we get to that, just to give us a little bit of context, what is the what’s the let’s go to the elevator again john. We’re going to ride the elevator.

What’s the John Doherty? Like, elevator story? Like, what is your background before you started this company before you kind of were entrepreneurial, so to speak, what is your backstory? And how did you get to where you are today?

Absolutely. So yeah, when it comes to being entrepreneurial, I’m not one of those where I you know, I wasn’t selling pencils, you know, at a at 100% markup in the hallway as an elementary school kid, right? I was homeschooled until high school, so I didn’t even have that chance.

But so basically, my, my career, my background, my training is I was actually trained as a web developer and a technical writer in university. I went to James Madison University in Virginia, where I grew up. And so I was trained as that and then I worked as a technical support specialist and webmaster at a software company in the Northern Virginia area. And then I helped to run a actually help to run a company, a book publishing company bootstrapped to me and the founder from Switzerland.

I lived in the hippie commune and helped run this company for about two years.

And that’s kind of where I got into digital marketing because we were in French speaking Switzerland, selling English language books, and boot shop company. I didn’t have budget to travel to go to, you know, book shows and that sort of stuff.

So I had to figure out how to get these things found and sell them online. So that’s how I got started doing digital marketing really, and I kind of came across this SEO thing, the search engine optimization thing and realize that with my my writing background, I’ve had a blog since about 2001 and my development background, and also really liking people.

Yep, absolutely. My first blog I launched in 2001. It was a Xenga blog, if anyone out there remember saying I do Yeah.

Pete McPherson
What was it about?

It was just musings about life. I mean, typical 2001 blog, honestly, and I was I was raised in the church. So it was also musings about like theology and philosophy and that sort of stuff. So you know, 16-17 years old, something like that is how old I was when I started that.

So yeah, so that kind of running, helping run that company from Switzerland really got me into marketing. And I moved back to the States. And basically long story short, got a job in the agency and Philly, left that about 10 months later and went to New York and worked for an agency there called distilled, which is based in London, but they’re opening their New York office.

So I was their first hire there, was there for about two and a half years met my wife in Brooklyn. And then we actually moved to San Francisco and I went in house with Zillow, running marketing on a couple of their rentals brands.

So first hotpads.com and then Trulia rentals. So you know, kind of marketing growth, SEO, email content, etc, are basically all the marketing channels that are not on the paid side because we weren’t doing any paid marketing for those brands, at least for hot pads at that time.

And then a two and a half week vacation in Europe, and I got laid off the next day and said, You know what, I’m going to work for myself. So there’s the there’s the short of a very long journey.

Pete McPherson
So that sounds like really impressive.

Not to mention starting a company way back in the day in Europe, or like a weird like the language barrier thing, but also all those impressive agencies and working in house at Zillow. That’s, that’s really impressive a job. So kudos to you for that. Let me ask you this. This is totally off the cuff. Sorry, this is a hard question.

When you started Credo, what would you say if you had to write a blog post that was like “my top three digital marketing takeaways from working with [Insert all the name of the companies that you worked for before you did this]?”

What would those three takeaways be if you’re writing that blog post bullet points? What were the most important lessons you learned over those several years working at agencies and big companies big startups rather, that you could give for digital marketers anything come to mind?

So yeah, I can definitely rustle those up Pete.

They’re gonna be combination of in house and then also agency side and I’ll explain which one each is for.

So first on the in house side, when I was working at Zillow, one lesson, I really learned about marketing. And this isn’t like a tactic taken implement, but it’s more of a business organization tip is, if you really want a company to grow and you’re really prioritizing audience growth that has to start from the top, it has to start from the executive.

So Zillow is executives did an amazing job, I report to the CMO for about 18 months, I got to work pretty closely with most of the executive team there. And they’re all fantastic people and but they all prioritize groups, they prioritize SEO, they prioritize email, they really cared about the customer, they really cared about learning who their audience was.

So if you really want your company to grow, it has to start from the top. You can’t just hire a marketer and say Go do your marketing things and I’m going to do everything else. Everything has to be geared around growth. So that’s really the biggest tip that I’ve taken away.

And then and then the second one going along with that as you have to put you have to put people time and money into marketing in order to really see the growth. It’s an investment you invested up front. So at Zillow, they have a full growth team. They have a VP of growth in on that team, they have designers they have their SEO team actually sits or sat on that team at the time. I don’t know where they stood anymore.

But they sat on that team, developers, designers, PMS, etc, all of them just focused on growth, they actually had a dedicated team for it, I was able to hire developers at Hot pads to implement email stuff, and SEO stuff and all of that.

So I didn’t have to get product developers that are building out, you know, the main product to take time away from building product features to work on growth, things I had, I had growth engineers that sat on the product team, but worked on growth things as it related to the product.

So that’s number two.

And then number three is if you are if you’re a business and you’re working with an agency, or a consultant, and you have a shake up internally, you need to basically view working with that agency or consultant, as being reset.

I’ve seen many times where a VP of Marketing will be fired or Director of Marketing will be fired or will move on and a new one will come in, and they’ll just clean house and just get out of all the contracts that they have with all of the consultants and agencies that they’ve been working with, and then either rehire them or bring, bring completely new people in that they’ve worked with in the past.

So also, the flip side of that is, if you’re an agency or consultant and your point of contact leaves, you need to go and find out who is the new person and build a relationship with them as quickly as possible, otherwise, you are most likely going to lose that contract.

Pete McPherson
Yeah. I know a bunch of freelance writers that undergo this on a constant basis. It’s actually pretty crazy. Yeah, it’s hard. One more interesting story that your your first book, by the way, that was awesome. Like the three bullet points, you just kind of like, nailed it in a nice, crisp, clean format.

But your first bullet point reminds me of a story that Noah Kagan used to tell about his days of Facebook. He would go to like Mark Zuckerberg and be like, “Oh, man, we should do this and run–this was before ads were like super involved at Facebook. Yeah, anybody “Oh, we should do this. We think of like a crap ton of money, we should do this, we should do this.

And Zuckerberg would always be like, does it help us grow?

Does it help us grow? And you’d be like, “no Mark,” and then be like, oh, not gonna do it. We’re focused on growth at this point growth, growth growth. And I’d say that paid off very well. Yeah.

I remember no one talking about that. I know Noah. And I remember him sharing that either in a podcast episode or or talk or blog post or, or something like that.

And yeah, it was something like let’s do all these local based events. And Mark was like, how is that going to scale and help us grow?

And yeah, I think Noah learned some important lessons there. And we’ve all learned important lessons to know is important lesson. So that’s, that’s a great story to be reminded of their.

Pete McPherson
Okay. Yeah, for sure. That’s where I heard it, by the way. In fact, you probably actually said it more closely the way he did than I did, but neither here nor there.

So, let’s move on. I want to talk about hiring specifically. And let me lay out the context for my audience, my audiences almost exclusively, bloggers who are interested in their reach as well as income, mostly solo entrepreneurs, but an increasing amount are looking to hire somebody to help with something, whether that’s a virtual assistant.

And my case, by the way, right now, that’s what I’m looking for, for the most part, or freelance writers is another big one, or SEO or email marketing consultants, those are like the big three or four that I tend to see in my own audience the most.

So given the fact that I feel like you have just an ungodly amount of experience with bridging the gap between people who are hiring for something and people who want to be hired for something, and your company is built on trust on the internet, which is just interesting, in my opinion, I’m gonna have you write another little blog post or john live on air.

I’m really sticking it to you on this podcast. If you had to write another like bullet point list and had to be three could be anything really, but “tips for personal brands, solo entrepreneurs, small businesses, less agency companies really, then you’re probably used to working with but if you had to give them tips on to how to get it right, if not the first time, then very, very quickly, right?

How to not spin their wheels, try to hire this person, then try and hire this person trying to hire this person. How would you recommend them do that? Does that make sense?

Absolutely. It totally does. And I think I can pull those out. Again, hopefully, it’s as succinctly as last time No, no, no worries. So the first one is…

Be very careful about asking friends for for referrals about who they’ve worked with before, if that friend does not run the same type of company as you do.

So it’s very easy to go and Google, you know, email marketing consultant, that kind of thing. And you’re just going to get a laundry list of you know, you might get some like top 10 or top hundred and 40 email marketing consultants on like a, you know, a random blog somewhere, maybe even a well known publication.

But you know still same if you search SEO consultants you might find search engine Journal’s list of 140. Top SEOs you should follow right?

I’m on that list. A lot of my friends are but like that list isn’t really going to help you out that much. It’s just your way to you know, you’re way too much. So then you might go and ask your friends, right, who maybe runs a SAAS business so you run a consultancy and your friend runs a SAS business? Well, who have you use for email marketing.

Email Marketing for SAAS is very different from email marketing for consultancy. So you need to find not only, you know, an email marketer that is trusted, but also an email marketer that specializes in doing email marketing for the kind of company that you are.

So, that’s the first one to look for. And it’s, it’s a tough search, but the best ones honestly, if you search email marketing consultant for bloggers, you should there should be a couple that come up. Same with, you know, fashion SEO consultant or fashion SEO agency or something like that. You know, that that’s what you want to get to not just broad, you know, Email Marketing Consultant.

And then as you’re talking with them, as you’re, you know, having initial conversations and kind of figuring out what an engagement might look like, also ask them like, let’s talk about email marketing for bloggers, right?

Let’s talk about how you do that. And the best ones, honestly, they’re not going to be like, “Oh, this proprietary, I can’t talk about it, we’re just going to do it for you, you should trust us.”

They can be like, sweet, let me educate you. Because the better educated you are, the more successful they’re going to be, because you’re going to be fully bought in and not pushing back on every single recommendation they make or everything they want to implement.

Pete McPherson
So like there’s no yeah, so I’ll also say that’s actually a fantastic tip for the freelancers out there as well. 100%. Whenever I hear somebody who just like lays out that sort of information, like Okay, cool. Let’s dive in. Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s all my knowledge, you can’t help but feel the authority that absolutely individual has. I think that’s absolutely huge.

So, and then and then the and then the positioning part there, Pete is, if you’re a freelancer, right or a consultant, and you’re offering certain or an agency and you’re offering services to clients don’t just say we offer SEO Services, right? Say we are ecommerce, SEO experts, right?

And so then ecommerce businesses can be like, I should talk to these people as opposed to seeing the general SEO Services, you know, page and being like, I don’t actually know if they have, you know, experiencing ecommerce on if they’re any good at it, right? The best ones are going to say, this is who we are. And this is what we do.

And this is who we do it for.

Pete McPherson
I like that.

So and then and then that the final one, Pete, I would say is, if you’re, you know, a solo entrepreneur or something like that, and you’re hiring, you know, you’re looking to hire, you know, let’s say, somebody help you with search engine optimization, you need to figure out are you looking for advice, right? Are you looking for a consultant that can help you out with strategy that you then go and implement?

Or are you looking for services, which is a combination of they help you set the strategy and then they execute on it? Right. So the first one is going to be is probably going to cost you a bit less. Just to get, you know, maybe a chunk of block of five hours or 10 hours of their time, you know, a month for strategy and you know, check ins and that sort of stuff and then kind of guiding you through the things you need to implement the other the so you’re gonna pay a higher hourly rate, that’s going to be, you know, a smaller engagement in terms of amount of time that you spend with them.

But then you’re also gonna have to implement everything.

The services side, it’s going to be probably more hours per month, you can pay a lesser hourly rate, you’re not going to have to do it. So it’s kind of a trade off of, do you just want to be told where to go and have someone smart to go to, to, to ask questions to as you’re implementing things, and then you kind of put in the, you know, roll up your sleeves and get it done, or do you actually want to pay someone to get it done for you.

So you kind of need to figure out like, which one is right, you know, for you in terms of your business, your time, your skill set, all those sorts of things.

Pete McPherson
That’s actually fantastic advice on so many levels, to give a little personal experience to that. This search for a “virtual assistant.”

At first it used to, like a whole range of people. People who’ve been doing specific pa work for years and years and people who are just kind of heard about vas and they can work from anywhere and make like 20 bucks an hour or something.

And they thought that was interesting. So they took a course on how to do it, too. I mean, just all over the place, right? And so when I was promoting like, I’m looking for a VA, I got a range of people, some are awesome, some kind of suck.

And what I figured out was, okay, this is not their fault. This is actually my phone, I need to get super specific on what I’m looking for someone to do. Am I looking for and community manager, virtual assistant, am I looking for somebody to dive into my email and help me manage that assistant or an SEO or a WordPress or a Facebook ad or anything?

I was looking for a service based person and specifically to help me manage email and my community and so I kind of had to figure it out like okay, what do I call that? How do I phrase it so that I am not attracting like all these other people who just want to be like, somebody who’s right hand person and they get paid like 20-30 bucks an hour.

That’s great. Those people are great. That’s not what I’m looking for.

And so I found out the hard way that I have to, in order to not sift through all the noise and people that come in, I’d be like, super specific, so good, productive there.

Absolutely. And when it comes to hiring, right, you also need to figure out, is this a, you know, is this something that can be done remotely?

Is this something I need someone in person for? Can it be part time doesn’t need to be full time, right?

They’re all those sorts of different decisions that go into hiring, which is why hiring is super hard. And my agencies tell me that the hardest part is hiring good people.

Pete McPherson
That’s why it’s so easy. You just post a job online and then you get applicants now you just choose one right, john? I’m joking, right?

Exactly. Exactly. No, that’s not it at all.

Pete McPherson
Definitely anybody who’s actually been through that process realizes like oh my God, we need a John Doherty and Credo in our lives. It’s like super difficult.

Okay, so can we actually transition to the wee bit just talking about SEO? Let’s do it. You was at HubSpot sky that you’re the top 100 like SEOs,

Search Engine Journal. They’re like 140 top SEOs to follow on Twitter or something like that?

Pete McPherson
Did they give you a badge? Or some?

No, they didn’t they should have. I should email Lauren is their founders in front of mine and be like, dude, where’s my badge?

Pete McPherson
Okay, so that’s awesome. Kudos to you.

Thank you.

Pete McPherson
Let me ask you the weird, futuristic strategy question first, in terms of big companies, agencies, companies that are literally buying up smaller blogs and kind of rolling them up into one brand. Actually, Glenn also been I discussed this a little bit on our podcast chat more and more companies are doing that. Yep. Even if you see like, eight different URLs on page one of Google sometimes that could be like, the same company.

Yeah, interesting. compare those people to the solo. bloggers, creators, stuff like that.

My question for you is the future of SEO. Do we still have a chance as small or creators non I’m gonna say incorporated but what I really mean as non big companies looking to acquire other blogs and stuff like that. Do we still stand a chance in 2019-2020?

And if so, what does that look like? How can we compete?

I think, I think you do. It also very much depends on the vertical and the strategy that you implement as a solo blogger or a small team right running an info product business or you know, an editorial business and you’re monetizing by ads and you know and whatever affiliate you know, that sort of stuff

It is absolutely still possible to compete it is getting harder to compete and as I said, it depends on the vertical.

So it finance for example, right if you’re if you’re a finance blogger, man Good luck.

Because you’re competing again, you know, nerd wallet and Mr. Money mustache and you know, all of these sorts of different you know, companies you’re competing against, like the you know, some of the like the lending companies, right cabbage and all these different ones that also have awesome like, you know, content marketing programs going on.

So you’re, you’re going to have a really, really hard time. The thing is, you know, in order to compete, what you’re going to have to do is you’re really going to have to build kind of relationships with other, you know, finance bloggers and you know, people in kind of adjacent spaces to, you know, in order to really get in front of those audiences.

So you can’t, you’re not just gonna be able to rely on SEO anymore.

Obviously, you haven’t really been able to rely on just SEO traffic for a long time. If your traffic is 80 to 85%, organic, you’re doing something wrong, and you need to be basically working to diversify your traffic sources.

So referral and email and all those sorts of things, simply because we have seen way too many times when Google has changed their algorithm, or competitor has come up and all of a sudden taken all of your number one rankings, right say a competitor comes up.

It’s a nerd wallet moves into a new space and finance that they’re not in now that you are and you’re you know, you’re owning that then all of a sudden they start creating all this content, they ranked number one and then they have another blog ranks number two, another one that ranks number three, you’re all of a sudden number four, and they have the featured snippet.

So you’re halfway down the first page now. You’re going to lose a lot of your traffic overnight and a lot of your business overnight so you actually need to be diversifying those.

And then the second thing I would say is you know when it comes to like if you’re you know if you’re in real estate so you know think about like bigger pockets for example right i mean bigger pockets is a decent size company now in like the real estate buying houses house flipping space. They’re not so they’re but they’re competing.

They’re still in real estate, which is same as say Zillow, right, my former employer, but they’re not trying to rank for a lot of the same things. Right. So bigger pockets shouldn’t try to rank necessarily for like houses for sale in Detroit, Michigan, right or houses for sale in Seattle, Washington.

Zillow is based in Seattle, you’re never going to rank for that. Right? And they’re stalking they’re stalking the search results with their different brands. You know, you should be trying to rank for the questions people are asking and that sort of thing to then get them to up to get them to opt into, you know, to a content upgrade. So they give you their email address and then you market to them from there and basically monetize them from there.

So it is still possible to compete, but you need to be very careful about you know what keywords are you trying to compete on do you actually stand a chance of doing that and then also not just focusing on SEO but also thinking about social and referral and all of that stuff and then also where the biggest audiences are in your space.

So if you can get links from Zillow, right, bigger pockets can get links from Zillow, by guest posting or whatever, that’s awesome for them.

And they should absolutely absolutely try to do that. But you know, they’re not really going to compete for the same keywords as Zillow is going after, nor should they.

Pete McPherson
I love that. Thanks, john. Let me toss my 2019-2020 SEO strategy, one sentence SEO strategy your way and I want to get your feedback on it. I want you to tell me what you think about this. Great, here it is ready?

This is what I would tell almost any creator this year looking to really up their SEO game.

Build a brand that people look for in search results.

Doing with context or just to take it from there.

No, I think that’s great. And actually, I’m sure you know Rand Fishkin, formerly of Moz and now founder of Spark Toro I’ve known ran for a long time and he is been saying this since probably about 2012 and I think he’s absolutely right.

Like if you look at, if you look at Moz keywords that they’re ranking for in you know, their their own keyword explorer tool or you know any of the other digital marketing tools they might have access to Moz is searched or SEO Maz, which is their former brand name, both of those are searched a lot more than their top non branded organic keywords.

So, like, it is absolutely, you know, is absolutely a viable strategy.

And then once you once you build a brand and people are recognizing you and all that it’s easy, they’re linking to you all those things, then it becomes a lot easier to target those, you know, non branded keywords that are maybe you’re more like money transactional keywords, I think I think it’s a great a great thing to do.

My question back to you, Pete would be how are you going to do that?

Because it’s a lot easier to say do this keyword research, write these blog posts and rank for them and drive traffic then how do you build Do You Even Blog into a you know, an internet wide recognized authority on, you know, creating content online and building a profitable content based business?

Pete McPherson
Totally. Well, my answer is also in three bullet points one, I don’t know.

But if you know someone out there listening, please come Come at me @doyouevenblog on Twitter.

No, but two–the hard news that never makes anybody happy and never satisfies anybody looking for quick wins in the blogging world and digital marketing, which by the way, I’m sorry, if you’re looking for quick wins and blogging, you should go follow somebody else’s podcast because I’m probably not going to give you any on my.

That said, building a brand off the internet.

Like if if you’re on Snapchat–and Snapchat would disappear tomorrow. This is like a big Gary Vaynerchuk like sort of spiel I feel like but I’m gonna say it anyways.

If you’re on Snapchat and it disappears tomorrow, Will people still follow you if you’re on Twitter, if you’re on Instagram, through Facebook, live on Facebook ads, relying on Pinterest rattling on SEO, whatever, if those channels disappeared when people follow you to the next thing to the next social media platform to the next wherever it is–video youtube podcast.

What if like Apple podcast disappeared and all the company like would people still follow Pete? Would people still follow your blog? Spark Toro? Moz?

Yeah, those people are kind of in love with what Rand has built and Cyrus and Brittany and like the whiteboard Fridays and just it’s it’s a brand more so than some of their competitors I would argue at least. And so I think there’s not a whole lot of specifics to answer your question other than my bullet point number three, which is just to show up as best you can and as authentic as you can, by show up I mean, be on Instagram doing stories, be producing YouTube videos, do podcasts do continue to do tech stuff do include your personal image.

What am I looking for, like an actual picture of yourself?

Yeah, on your blog,

Be a real person.

Pete McPherson
Yes, be a real person and then show up and then show up again. The next day and the next day and the next week and the next month. And over time, that’s like the definition of brand building. I’m pretty sure that I read some marketing book.

I think that’s going to be the most tactical thing I could recommend.

Can I give you I give you a fourth one there, Pete? Oh, please do the fourth one would it be be hyper focused on what it is that you are offering.

Right? So I see a lot of these people that they’re, you know, one year there, they’re an SEO guru, right? And then the next year there are funnels expert, and then they’re a crypto expert, right crypto day trader, like, no, you’re not going to get known for anything if you’re constantly jumping around with these things because you see “opportunity,” right?

So if you’re going to actually build a brand like Moz didn’t become an SEO Moz, and then which rebranded into Moz they didn’t become a brand because they were you know, writing about you know, SEO and email and and all these different things.

They became a brand because Rand was right was writing four to five days a week, every single week, year in year out, focused on SEO and providing as much value as he could to the SEO industry.

That is how they did it. And honestly, Pete with my company, we’ve seen more and more success as we’ve gone from saying, we can help you find any kind of digital marketing firm you’re looking for, for whatever channel you’re looking for whatever kind of company you are to saying, you know what, we’re really good at helping people that are looking for SEO help PPC, help content marketing help Facebook ads help, and actually the ones who do the best for our e commerce, SAS and you know, services, businesses looking for lead generation help.

Pete McPherson
I like that.

So and obviously focusing down onto that has been hard, but like business has grown so well, as we’ve been doing that more and more and more.

So I would say that is that is actually the biggest one you have to show up every day just like you said. But also you have to show up every day and have the consistency in your messaging of what you’re what you’re teaching people to do.

So it was not just like, Oh, I like Pete and Pete does things on the internet. It’s like I love Pete because he has helped me make more money for my content based internet business, right?

Pete McPherson
You should just run my tagline!

Just get this episode transcribed and just put it on your site. And give me a link. Oh,

Pete McPherson
You’ll get a link anyway, John.

So actually, we’re gonna come back to that remind me that and just like a get the link, but I’ll also throw one very small tip, it may or may not be helpful for some people out there.

Instead of trying to figure out like, oh, what should I focus down on more? What are my specific strengths? Or what do I want to talk about the most?

Another way, you should do that, by the way. But another interesting thing you can do is kind of take the opposite approach. more along the lines of what should I stop talking about?

Those are London a lot more clear.

For example, just thinking of myself here, of course, Pinterest, Pinterest.

Marketing, bloggers love Pinterest, and yeah, first started like interviewing people for this podcast. I got a few different people on that were just like, crushing it like literally seven figure blogs from Pinterest alone for the most part.

It sounds like interviewing these people and I was getting a little bit more interested myself.

Side note, despite the fact that I’m not a Pinterest user, it didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

Oh, wow.

Pete McPherson
Yeah. And so I found myself like, Oh, I’m gonna start producing more content on Pinterest and I’m gonna make a free Pinterest email course, which I did, and all this other stuff, and it took me entirely too long to discover that I don’t like Pinterest.

I still haven’t seen success despite the fact that I’ve interviewed like Kate Ahl and Rosemarie Groner and Alisa from Tailwind and all these people who are just crushing it I still not any good at it. So it’s like, why am I still doing this?

Why don’t I just point people to Kate Ahl?

Like I just said like she you want to learn about Pinterest. Great. Go to her brand. Yeah, maybe I’ll continue to interview some people that use Pinterest, but it’s not my thing. I unlimited that like three, four months ago. I was like, You know what, I just need to stop.

Why would I? Why am I bothering the desk. I’m spending too much time and energy on a subject that I don’t really care about, that I’m not an authority on and that people could learn better elsewhere. So I stopped. Yeah,

I like it. I like it. I firmly believe in a having a to do list and also having a do not do list.

Pete McPherson
Yeah, Jillian Johnsrud’s a good friend of mine, another blogger. She’s really really good at that. She literally says that exact same sentence have a to do list or whatever.

Absolutely. Absolutely. I learned it from Michael Hyatt, I think.

Pete McPherson
Okay, so doubling back, just one second on, you mentioned like, oh, and link back to me. I totally will either way. However, you started talking about verticals, specifically how it might be increasingly difficult to rank or finance per se, my head went to Okay, “john, is a great SEO. John is running, not an SEO company, but you’re, you’re in the marketing space, right.”

Yeah. So the logical question is, how are you approaching SEO? If you are for your own business for Credo, does that makes sense.

Yeah, absolutely.

And it’s a great question it’s actually when they get quite often because you know there are a lot of great SEOs out there I am by no means the best seo out there not even close there are people that are just run circles around me and and luckily most of them are my friends and so they helped me out.

But you know, I’m but I’m still I’m so pretty decent at it. So honestly, my approach has been so the, the search results that were, you know, kind of competing, and there’s there’s the, you know, there’s the breakdown of the the conversion focused ones, right, like the bigger the head keywords, SEO consultants, right SEO agencies, that kind of thing.

But then there’s also the long tail there. So there’s, you know, SEO agencies, then there’s, well, there’s the taxonomy kind of works as there’s marketing companies, then you go to SEO companies, then I can go to like e commerce, SEO companies and I can go to e commerce, SEO agencies, right.

So it’s kind of layers there and the volume goes down as as you get more specific, but the conversion value goes up, and it’s easier to rank for those long term ones e commerce SEO Agencies there might be four e commerce marketing companies and honestly, because it’s you know, SEO and agencies, it’s those are going to be better leads for us then, you know, the kind of the head ones that might have the bigger volume, right?

So I’m kind of going about a couple different ways. One is, I have those hyper specific pages that can rank and we do pretty well in the long tail for things like fashion marketing agency, fashion, SEO companies, that sort of stuff. And then I’m doing things like podcasts like this, I’m guest blogging, I’m, you know, doing all sorts of stuff like that, to build, I mean, to build my brand to build credos brand to build our authority in the space.

And then also, by virtue of doing all of that and providing value like this, building links back to my site, which helps us build our brand, which helps us build our rankings, which helps us you know, it’s that flywheel there.

And then the final one is producing content on our own site.

So one of the one of the best things I’ve done in recent years, is investing in building out bigger content. So I have an e commerce marketing guide where we talk about e commerce SEO and content, email marketing and that sort of stuff. I also have SAAS guide I’m working on a lead generation guide, and so that big either an agency or a digital marketing pricing survey that I’ve done twice now I just refreshed it in March of 20 or sorry early April 2019.

So I rank for a lot of those keywords as well right? How much does a digital marketing agency costs right digital marketing hourly rates, like that sort of stuff, that big content has really helped me earn a lot of links earn a lot of credibility in the space for a build our brand.

So that that’s the main stuff that I’m doing.

And there’s all these like little you know, technical tweaks and stuff that comes up, you know, we push some new features live and we screw something up and adding some, you know, links that that are for affording that sort of stuff and going back and kind of just like the blocking and tackling of everyday SEO, but that’s, but the bigger picture, you know, of transactional keywords, editorial keywords, and then also, you know, kind of going and making friends and you know, being on podcasts and guest blogging and that sort of stuff.

That’s how I’m really going about SEO at this point for Credo.

Pete McPherson
Okay, something interesting you said you said in the first 15 seconds of Okay, that entire spiel, which was awesome, by the way.

And FYI, I don’t want to discount your own talents to the talents of your team when it comes to technical SEO. But the interesting thing was I, I’m not the world’s best SEO, but I’m friends with all those that are.

I immediately like went to the fact that Well, no, this is a testament to you, and your relationship building skills. As then we both know Ross, Ross went to your SEO and beers or SEO beers, which sounds awesome, by the way when I want to go to these awesome in person meetups and I couldn’t help but thinking I don’t think john and i don’t think Credo would be where they’re at right now if it weren’t for that, right?

Do you think that?

My company would not exist if it weren’t for all the friends that I’ve made in the digital marketing space over the last decade. Straight up.

So it is just this is all about relationships. I think it was. So I listened to Lewis Howes podcast. And Lewis says, and he may have taken this from somewhere else, but I think lewis is who I’ve heard it from. He says, your “network is your net worth.”

So the people you know, that is the real value that you have in business and in life.

Pete McPherson
Corny, but true. Okay.

Yeah, it is. It is. It’s catchy. It’s corny, but completely accurate.

So yeah, and but honestly, I don’t take I don’t take go at it as like, you know, I’m going to make friends with this person. So they can do you know, with x person so they can do why for me, it’s, is this person cool?

Are they doing interesting things? Are they smart? can I learn things from them? Can I maybe teach them some things as well? And then, you know, maybe someday we end up doing business together? Maybe not. And you know, either one is totally fine.

Pete McPherson
Totally. Totally. You know, Brendan Hufford, by the way?

I do know Brendan Hufford. Yep.

Pete McPherson
Cool, dude, I like him.

He’s also great at building relationships.

Pete McPherson
He is he’s totally Yes. And something I found out even recently with him we’ve been voxing back and forth. Just cuz really, I find that those relationships and that entire, I’m gonna say strategy but what I really mean is being active about pursuing real friendships and relationships or whatnot.

I found there’s just like, a more delightful way to go through life.

That sounds totally “oh duh Pete.’ Yeah, relationships are needed for life.

But how often are we actively pursuing that?

I don’t know. There’s there’s there’s something there. It’s interesting that we focus way too much. by we, I mean, like, specifically new bloggers, new creators, new online entrepreneurs, on the tactics, the technical side and the you just learning, learning, learning, learning, learning, as opposed to building relationships. It’s interesting.

Yeah, absolutely. And, and honestly, Pete to go back to, you know, to tie this back to what my company does, we, you know, we connect people, we connect up businesses that are looking to, you know, hire marketing firms, but it’s not just like, oh, you should, you know, you should consider so and so and so, so it’s, I’m going to introduce you to, you know, Pete to, you know, James at agency a, because a you guys are going to get along, be they and be they specialize in what you do.

And they also tell the marketing and so I tell the we tell the clients, you know, interview them, not just like, Can I get the results, but also do you like working with them because really, we should be looking forwards if marketing is an investment, you should be looking to work with them long term, right?

Even just like get an audit done. And then like retain them or pay them you know, every now and then for a couple hours of their time to kind of look at your strategy. Again, that kind of thing. You should work with people that you really enjoy working with.

And then also on the agency side, you know, people tell us that their biggest challenge is getting, you know, getting the right leads, but also it’s getting people contacting them that need what they are offering but also they enjoy working with and aren’t going to, you know, try to get 20 hours out of them if they’re paying for 10 for example.

So, you know, it’s all about working with people that you really enjoy working with on both sides. And so we try to connect up people, you know, on that level as well.

Pete McPherson
That was a great segue, by the way, that was like pro level podcast guest right there.

Nice work. All right, one more question for anybody if you don’t mind, I asked us to almost everybody that comes on the show always intrigued by the answer. Totally. Feel free to think about it for a second, if you need to hear this.

What is one thing you wish other bloggers would stop doing immediately?

Oh, man, that is a great, that is a great question. And I think I’m going to give you two answers. One is you need to stop looking for you know, quick hack, quick hacks and tips and tricks.

Because those aren’t really that that’s a constant wheel of diet food when it comes to advice, right people like oh, five tips and tricks to do blah, blah, blah. Those five tips and tricks aren’t are probably aren’t going to work for you and you’re just going to be kind of chasing your tail the whole time trying to find the new tips and tricks that you know such and such a guru says is working.

So I would actually say stop looking for that diet food of tips and tricks and actually start getting into the the strategies behind behind those tips and tricks right or behind that that channel so instead of, you know, here are five SEO hacks that are working in 2019 actually go and learn SEO right read the beginner’s guide to SEO sign up to Distilled U, right?

Follow people like you know Brian Dean of backlinko right maybe buy his course. Right Brian’s a friend I have, you know, I have no stake in telling people to go to this course other than Brian knows his stuff.

And so like if you’re really trying to learn SEO, do stuff like that.

And then the and then the second one is it’s somewhat similar to that is stopped and I think you said this Pete–was stopped writing about things that you are not an authority on just because there’s search volume there and because you know, certain people are asking you for it.

You should really figure out is it does this need to be done? Does it need to be written?

If yes, then Am I the person to write it and if not, then maybe one of your friends is and you should be like, hey, I’ve been people been asking me about this doesn’t really fit my brand or you know, I’m not really an expert on it, you should go and write it.

Pete McPherson
Totally. And by the way, people will trust you more, which is kind of ironic, like they’re not less of an authority because you don’t feel qualified to talk about budgeting, even though you’re a finance blogger or whatever, they’re going to trust you more if you say like, you know what, you should go follow this other person instead of me.

You come to me for this not this people trust you more.

I love that.


Pete McPherson
Well, john, just wanted to thank you so much for coming on again. getcredo.com.

Is there any other way that you would like to point people to follow you specific social channel or just want to give you backlinks? I can ask people that?

Yeah, everyone linked back to getcredo.com, right John at credo…

But the best place to follow me is honestly Twitter @dohertyjf.

And then as I said, you know if you are, if you’re an agency or consultant and you’re in the marketing space, especially SEO content, PPC, those channels then go to getcredo.com/pros and sign up to the email list there to hear when we reopen the network.

And if you’re looking to hire, go to getcredo.com/executive and that’ll take you to a page where you can download our free busy executives guide to hiring a digital marketing firm.

Pete McPherson
I love it. Thanks, John. Appreciate your time today, man.

For sure Pete. Thanks for having me on.

Did you enjoy this chat? You might also enjoy my episode w/ Glen Allsopp, Britney Muller, or Brendan Hufford!

Also, check out my free 60-Minute SEO course here πŸ™‚

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