C’mon, if Len says this episode is good, you gotta listen:
Can't-be-overstated takeaway: the biggest marketing mistakes are made when you implement solutions without knowing what problem you're solving for.https://t.co/hKW5wzrh67
— Len Markidan 👋 (@LenMarkidan) December 14, 2020
Show Note Links:
Here are my SIX key takeaways from our conversation. 👇
4 Things to Consider When Building a Team
Kevin Indig: How do you scale a team properly and how do you set it up for success?
The goal is to make the right decisions for people. How do you make the right decisions? They’re based off of a couple of factors.
1. Goals. What are you trying to achieve? And I’m more thinking in terms of business goals.
2. What are the workflows that have to be done? When we think about systems and principles, the question is always what’s the input, what’s the output? What is the workflow we have to employ to get a certain output?
3. Strengths. What are the strengths of the people that I’m employing?
4. Their preferences. What do they actually want to do?
If you use those four factors as an assessment of the decisions you want to make, that will help you get to the optimal set up.
How to Make Career Advancements
Kevin Indig: When do you know when to take the next step? It really depends on your goals and what you have an inclination for. I think it comes back to the problem and clarity.
Understand what you want. I know it’s not always easy. I, in the beginning, also did not know what I wanted. But put in the mental effort and consider all the options.
Go deep, write a journal, reflect, talk to people who are in a position that you think you want to be in. See what it’s like. Gather as much data points as possible and see what the pattern is. See what you’re strong at. Ask other people what you’re really good at.
I think the best decisions come from understanding yourself really well. If you know what you can do and what not, you can work on it. You can shape out a path for yourself. It’s much easier and clearer in terms of what your next steps are supposed to be.
How to Learn SEO 10x Faster
If you start out as an SEO beginner, or even not beginners, if you dare to take on that mindset—reaching out to other experts and asking them for help—very smart thing. Very smart thing.
If you are able to get over your ego and just ask other experts to show you and help you and coach you, you’ll advance so much faster. We’re talking about 10X speed here.
Just going to an expert and actually be like, “I have a problem with a super-technical thing. I know you’re an expert. Can I get 30 minutes? Can I pay you? Can I exchange something?”
Super valuable. Helps you way more than reading five articles about something.
What You Should Know When Starting SEO
Brendan Hufford: What’s one big mistake you see beginners make when it comes to SEO?
Kevin Indig: I think it comes back to understanding your audience really well. That’s one of the core things that I see beginners do wrong, a lot of times. They have a lot of theoretical knowledge and then go out to apply this right away.
My biggest tip to beginners: first, does it actually makes sense? Then, apply all the SEO juice to it. What I recommend every beginner is get a project. Get something out there where you can start collecting practical knowledge.
There’s this whole interesting journey that you go on as an SEO. You start with a very idealized view in SEO, and then you’re being confronted with reality. Hopefully, you understand that the middle ground is probably best.
It’s usually a mix of what Google officially recommends you to do, of what your practical knowledge tells you, and of what other experts out there say. It’s a mix of anecdotal experience and facts.
As an individual, you go through that journey. You should think hard about the right questions to ask and you should get as much practical knowledge as possible.
What to Do When You Get Stuck in SEO
Kevin Indig: The best athletes in the world have coaches. Who do you think you are to think you don’t need a coach, in whatever profession?
There’s two things. First of all, do you actually get a mentor? Maybe it’s a group. I’m in a couple of Slack channels that really help me out where I try to be super humble and just post my assumptions and tell them, “Tear them apart.” I’m trying to stress-test my assumptions here. Sometimes it’s very simple things, and you’ll always find one.
If you can’t actually get a mentor, what you do is you imagine a mentor. There might be someone out there who you really look up to who you might not be able to reach out to.
Think about a problem you’re trying to solve. You describe it in as much detail as you can. Imagine that you sent that problem to the mentor, and then imagine about what the mentor would say, and then you imagine about how you would react to that, and then you mention again what your mentor would say to that.
What you’ll find is that you’ll never need to send an email. Just by putting yourself in the shoes of some of the people you look up to to, you often come to the conclusion yourself, or you at least know what the right next step is.
Sometimes that’s getting help, sometimes that’s getting a better understanding of the problem, but it often comes back to the same type of things. These are the things that I, personally, use and that have helped me a ton.
Great Questions Get Great Advice
Kevin Indig: I think you touched on a really important point, which is to phrase good questions. Not as easy as it sounds. A weak question would be, “I’m not getting organic traffic. What can I do?” A lot of people ask me these poorly-phrased questions.
A really good question is, “My organic traffic decreased. Here are three assumptions that I have. For each assumption, here are two to three things that I’m planning to do. Am I on the right path, yes or no? Just reply with a Y or an N. Perfect.
If you work in a company and you report to someone, you should actually think about the same thing. Make it super easy for your boss or for your manager to say yes or no, and show them you’ve thought through all the options and show them your thinking and your rationale.
When people reach out to me with such a kind of question, it shows me they’re very much on top of the thing, and I’m much more inclined to point out a way where I would think differently, but it also makes it so much easier to mentor someone because they do all the heavy lifting.
I promise you, 90% of those emails never go out, because if you got to that point, most of the time you don’t need somebody to say yes or no.
Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.
[00:01:30] Brendan Hufford: [00:01:30] Yeah, man. We’re a little bit like, I think when people are watching, this will be at least like two thirds of the way through, so I’m super.
[00:01:37] Excited about that. I want to kind of talk about like big picture and we’ll kind of filter down into some more specific stuff if that’s all right. Um, SEO has so many parts. Uh, whether it’s coming into a new position, uh, like at G2, um, which you didn’t, I mean, not super long ago, but like when you come into a new position or if you start like a new personal project, like, how do you decide of all the things of all the levers that we can pull?
[00:02:04] How do you decide what to prioritize first? When it comes to SEO?
[00:02:09] Kevin Indig: [00:02:09] That’s a fantastic question. I started edgy to about seven months ago. So I’m slowly getting at that point where I feel much more comfortable with everything and much more settled in. And I really thought about that because what usually happens is one of two things.
[00:02:28] First, he gets super excited about a project and. You know, it doesn’t really feel like work and don’t have that much resistance because you just feed off of your momentum. And then the other thing that happens is you get very overwhelmed at the beginning, such as with the new job and you first have to sort your way through it.
[00:02:46] You have to understand how things work, what you can impact and what goals make the most sense. So the way that I usually approach it is from a couple of perspectives. One of them is. Simply my, my goals or the thing that I’m trying to achieve. And that is very often an outcome of my values. And when I’m speaking about my values, I really mean to things that are important to me in life and the.
[00:03:16] The principles and systems that I’m acting after. Right. So it all kind of trickles down. Right? So for example, um, curiosity and learning major value in my life fits perfectly into how I prioritize things. You know, it’s a two when I started, because first off I need to learn how the company works. And I need to be curious about how to set goals.
[00:03:35] What’s realistic, what not, who has impact, um, and you know, failures of the past, all this kind of stuff. So, because one of my values is learning and curiosity. I first explore everything. Collect. Documents. And then I go back, um, or take a step back and try to understand what makes the most sense. Right? So that’s how kind of a value it trickles down into a specific protocol.
[00:04:02] Of course, there’s the whole business stuff, right? You want to have to, you know, um, you have to prioritize work and tasks. According to goals, you cannot be sidetracked too much. And that’s honestly something that, um, I think everybody deals with on a constant basis and dead. The better, you’re able to handle that.
[00:04:18] The more successful you are
[00:04:22] Brendan Hufford: [00:04:22] let’s get, I think that’s really helpful. It’s something that I wish this is advice. Like I wish I would’ve had when I started at click studios. Um, just because I was our first like core SEO hire, like we’d kind of outsourced it a little bit before me and like, it just, the work wasn’t great.
[00:04:38] It was the kind of work where like, you can shoot, send clients reports, but like, Don’t actually look at the back links, that kind of stuff. Um, and it’s very opposite now, but, uh, I didn’t have like any of that sort of like guidance around like understanding who could actually do what and like how hard I could push.
[00:04:54] I mean, one of our first client projects that I totally botched was I just didn’t push hard enough. I kept telling them things to do and they would be like, yeah, no, we don’t want to do those. And I’m like, well, you’re paying us. So I guess. Um, and I didn’t push hard enough and I had, I needed developer help with certain things and it got pushed to last priority.
[00:05:12] And I was like, well, that’s fine. Like, things like that, like, I didn’t understand who and how to get buy in from other people. And I didn’t understand how to work in an organization. I’d always just spend like solo kind of consulting. Thing like a one man agency sort of situation. So I didn’t know how to like work on a team effectively.
[00:05:29] So it’s like super helpful advice. Um, what about like more tactical? Like if you got an, a brand new website, how do you start thinking about like, how to have impact
[00:05:39] Kevin Indig: [00:05:39] on it? Yeah. Um, I mean, first of all, I want to understand what the purpose of the site is, right? Isn’t it, is it like a hobby type of blog where you just want some.
[00:05:48] Brand building and exposure and awareness, or is it suppose, is it like a startup that has a couple of million in funding and has to have achieved, you know, high goals? That’s the first thing again, all comes back to goals and purpose. Um, from there on the next thing is usually I look at problems. I’m a big fan of a problems, first approach, and it’s usually the problems of the audience, um, or the customers.
[00:06:14] And it was saying problems. One framework that has been really helpful for me is that jobs to be done framework from Clayton Christmas. So question is, is this, uh, um, this economist absolute legends wrote a big on start a book on startup disruption and also. Dumps beyond the cup of other things. And the jobs to be done framework is actually pretty simple.
[00:06:36] Um, it thinks about all the main and side jobs that people have to get done with in the context of the problem you’re trying to solve. So that kind of thing. Common example is people ordering coffee at Starbucks, right? So they just want coffee. And the core problem they’re trying to solve is to either be more awake or it’s part of their morning ritual.
[00:07:00] But then there are also a couple of side jobs, like maybe getting breakfast and that’s why they might buy some pastry and all that kind of stuff that drops to be done. Framework also takes the context and emotions into account. And that’s what I think makes it a really. Useful useful, um, uh, framework, especially for SEO and content.
[00:07:19] So there’s a bit more to read about jobs to be done framework. Uh, it’s very, it’s basically a simple five step process, but it takes us really nice problem for us approach. So depending on the problem or problems and how important they are and how people feel about them. That helps me to define the strategy for a new side.
[00:07:38] Right. That defines me to understand, okay, what approach should we take here? Um, is it, is it, you know, a content driven approach or an inventory driven approach? Like, you know, so there there’s a deeper Philip philosophy between that. It’s basically a, is it a site that’s. Can scale with a certain inventory, like Spotify or skills with songs and artists, right.
[00:08:00] Um, or a Trello skills with boards, Slack, with apps and all these kinds of things. Right. Or is it something that we have to create Connor ourselves? And if so, What content do we need to create to address these problems? And it’s the same thing with inventory driven sites, right? Like how should we, what’s a scalable format to solve people’s problems.
[00:08:19] So, um, again, it’s, it’s nice, but very elegant framework that is based on problems and opens up all sorts of other questions that help you to define the strategy.
[00:08:28] Brendan Hufford: [00:08:28] Yeah, I think that’s super helpful. Like taking a step back, understanding, like, what problem are we actually solving for people? And then from there, I mean, even if we’re starting at like a lot of times people build a website, they make the thing and then they’re like, all right, I want to make it.
[00:08:42] It’s kind of like building a car our first and then deciding you want the car to go fast. It was like, maybe you should have thought of that before you started building the car. Um, right. I think it’s extremely common that people build a website and then they’re like, all right, we want it to do these things.
[00:08:55] And it’s like, Ooh, okay. Um, I think from a content standpoint too, and I might be butchering the framework, but even understanding like what problems your content is solving. Right. And that kind of pushes into like search intent and things like that. And people are Googling this thing, but they’re Googling it to solve a problem.
[00:09:11] And like, what do they really want? They don’t like. Do they want, you know, for example, we tried to rank an article about digital marketing and turns out the people, the problem they’re solving when they’re Googling like digital marketing skills is they just want a little list. They just want a list of like, Hey, here’s the skill?
[00:09:26] Here’s some like top digital marketing skills. The whole first page is listicles. And here we produce this like 6,000 word Epic guide. Nobody wants that. Nobody. It turns out for the people that are Googling, that it doesn’t solve. Like it’s the wrong, like we thought we were solving the problem with the wrong kind of like, uh, content.
[00:09:44] Um, I want to switch gears a little bit when it comes to, uh, and I know that like, you’re going to have to like probably time travel back a little bit, but maybe this also applies to like working with more junior team members at G2 and in other roles you’ve had. But how like what’s one big mistake you see beginners make when it comes
[00:10:03] to SEO.
[00:10:07] Kevin Indig: [00:10:07] I think I can the bridge to what we said earlier, right? When you said, um, people wanting a car and then, you know, figuring out how to drive it, I would even take it a step further and say, first of all, I think like, where do you want to go? And then decide if a car is the right approach or if you maybe want to take a plane.
[00:10:25] Right. Uh, and so I think it’s the same approach with, um, If written content is even the best format for that, as you alluded to, right? Like as a guide ride is listicle ride is a video, right. Or, or his audio better, you know? So I think it comes back to understanding your audience really well. And so that’s one of the core things that I see beginners do wrong.
[00:10:44] A lot of times they have a lot of theoretical knowledge and then go out to apply this right away. Whereas. If you collect a lot of practical knowledge and that’s my biggest tip, not a secrets to beginners. You then ask yourself these kinds of questions, you know, like first does it actually makes sense and then apply all the SEO juice to it and marinated with some cool tricks.
[00:11:14] Which again, there are not lots of them out there, but. Again, I think it’s these kind of, these kinds of questions that, that beginners often don’t ask themselves and they should ask themselves much more, so lots of theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. And so what I recommend, every beginner is get a project, get something out there where you can start collecting practical knowledge.
[00:11:35] And then there’s this whole interesting journey that you go on as an SEO. And I’ve been, I I’m a called proto that myself, you know, I started that way, which is. You start with a very idealized view in SEO, it’s kind of the end-all be-all and all this practical knowledge that’s out there on websites should be applied.
[00:11:55] And how can somebody not do that? And then you’re being confronted with reality. And then you kind of. Hopefully you understand that the middle ground is probably best, right? It’s uh, it’s, it’s usually a mix of what Google officially recommends you to do of what your practical knowledge tells you and of what other experts out there say.
[00:12:17] Brendan Hufford: [00:12:17] And if,
[00:12:17] Kevin Indig: [00:12:17] you know, it’s like, it’s, it’s a mix of, of, um, anecdotal experience and, and facts, you know, if you will. So. Again, I think as an individual, you go through that journey. You should think hard about the right questions to ask and you should get as much practical knowledge as possible.
[00:12:36] Brendan Hufford: [00:12:36] Yeah. I, uh, I was on a pod. I did a podcast interview, uh, with a guy named Nick Loper and my old, like my high school math teacher heard the podcast and like sent me an email. Um, haven’t spoken to this, like I’m 35. That was a while ago. And he sent me an email and he was talking about trying to get more. Uh, online, like math, tutoring, students, and stuff like that.
[00:12:58] And he’s like, I need help with my blog and all these things. And I just dropped some stuff into YouTube. I’m like, what are you teaching right now in your class? And I put some searches into YouTube. Top videos have like 4.3 million views, 7.6 million views. And I’m like, the blog is not the answer, man.
[00:13:12] You’re not going to get the kind of blog. Um, So like figuring out that I’m also gonna, I’m going to help you brand this, uh, we can call it the airplane approach, the Kevin indig airplane approach about like figuring out do I, should I take a car or an airplane or a bus or whatever, or a skateboard. Um, and I think too, the other thing you reminded me of like very practically is just understanding like how real, you know, I had a conversation in the SEO for the rest of us community recently where somebody was like, Oh, you know, the sky wanted to pay me for links on my blog.
[00:13:41] And he was like, that’s so unethical and all these other things. And I was like, you know, just understanding more of how these works like this, these things work. Like I don’t advocate like blindly buying links. I think that’s almost never the right answer, but it’s like, you know, you’re paying for outreach.
[00:13:55] You’re paying for outreach software. You’re paying for people to write content you’re paying for links, like your pay. Like it’s just. People have like a weird gray area, about a lot of things. And everybody, I don’t want to tell anybody where their like morals and ethics lie, but Google has this like, well, don’t pay for backlinks things and don’t like link build and all these things.
[00:14:14] It’s like, look, we like that’s marketing that’s things. So I guess my point is that, like, I think the more you figure it out and the more you figure out, like how things actually work and not in like a jaded sense, but just start to understand what you’re actually doing. Um, I think things are a little more helpful than the other, the final, like third thing it reminded me of, which is really also helpful is just, you know, we have a website that I’m working on right now that has like, what client’s site has 5,000, like soft four Oh four hours had never heard of soft four Oh four hours before.
[00:14:44] I’m just going to be honest and my ignorance. And like, I’m like looking this up and I’m like, I need to start pulling in like a developer or at least like, maybe we need to have like a technical SEO hire. Or at least like, I need to hire a technical SEO to like coach me through and like level up my game because I’m a beast on the content side and the link building side.
[00:15:03] But the tech, like, I don’t know how to solve 5,000. Was there a rewrite? Somebody did, like, I don’t know even where to look. Um, so like, I think this, this ideal world is what I was wanting to come back to that you mentioned of like, well, I read all these things on this, like SEO guru blog, or even maybe Brendan told you to, or, you know, maybe they’re on.
[00:15:21] The tech bound newsletter and you said something and they’re like, well, of course everybody should do that. And it’s like, look, there’s a lot of things going on. And a lot of humans involved and like it’s never going to work out that way.
[00:15:32] Kevin Indig: [00:15:32] You’re absolutely right. So one of the biggest learnings for me this year is how could this be true?
[00:15:41] I’m a very, I’m a huge idealist, right. Principles. And values are really important to me. Maybe you can tell from the first word that I said on this show. So to me, there’s, I very often think in terms of right or wrong and
[00:16:01] right. We’re
[00:16:01] just asking myself all the time, how could this be true? How could the opposite be true off what you’re thinking has been really, really helpful in.
[00:16:11] Just accepting that there know that there are very few hard truth, you know, black and white, a hundred percent truth very often, even if it’s a very, even if it’s as 95 to five type of thing, there’s still 5% of. Opposite truth than what you thought. So I think if you start out as a, as an SEO beginner, or even like for not beginners, but just, if you, if you dare to take on that mindsetâ€”reaching brings you way further and also what she said and out to other experts and asking them for helpâ€”very smart thing. Very smart thing. If you are able to get over your ego, And I’m also speaking for myself here, um, and just ask other experts to show you and help you and coach you, you will, you’ll, you’ll advance so much faster. We’re talking about 10X speed here, you know, just going to an expert and actually be like, Oh, Hey, you know, I don’t know.
[00:17:07] I have problem with this super technical. I have a problem with a super-technical thing. Um, I know you’re an expert. Can I get 30 minutes? Can I pay you? Can I exchange something? Whatever. Right. Super valuable helps you way more than reading five articles about something.
[00:17:24] Brendan Hufford: [00:17:24] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Like I was, I’ve gotten help with putting together like content clusters.
[00:17:29] I’ve gotten helped with like figuring out better ways to do outreach. Like, yeah. And I’m not saying like you have to hire a coach for everything, but especially the noise around SEO because of the nature of our work. Um, it’s one of the few skills you kind of can’t learn from Googling it. Because it’s just, it’s such a weird churn of I’m an SEO expert based on my blog, where I teach you that I’m an SEO expert about SEO expert blog.
[00:17:55] Um, it becomes really like a hard thing to learn. Um, and yeah, I think I completely agree, like looking at people who are doing it for real clients or real companies and like reaching out to them is way better than like trying to Google it and just reading. You know that those blogs that I won’t call out in this episode, but I do, I feel like I do every episode I somehow, um, yeah, man.
[00:18:20] And that was something I learned from Ross Simmons. He has a company called foundation. Like he said, he was like, have you ever had another SEO, like audit your work or like audit a site you’re working on? And I’m just like, no, why, why haven’t I like people pay me for that? Why wouldn’t if it was important enough, why wouldn’t I pay somebody else?
[00:18:38] You know? Um, and I think that’s a big mistake that like advanced more advanced SEO mistakes, like advanced people, like non beginners may. Cause they don’t have those like peers that they’ve have relationships with like look over their work or kind of help coach them through some things. What other, do you see any other mistakes?
[00:18:56] Like moving on from beginners? Like, are there any other mistakes you see more advanced? SEO is making,
[00:19:03] Kevin Indig: [00:19:03] I really love that idea that you mentioned peer reviews, or just asking peers to look over your shoulder. That so many other strong professions are doing that. And again, I think it comes a bit back to ego and again, I’m guilty of that in part, but just the idea of a mentor and coaching is so strong.
[00:19:22] I mean the best athletes in the world have coaches. So.
[00:19:27] You know,
[00:19:27] who do you think you are? to think you don’t need a coach in whatever profession. So there were multiple ways to go about that. Uh, and mentors, and that’s kind of my, my, uh, tip for advanced SEO. There’s two things. First of all, do you actually get a mentor?
[00:20:07] Like sometimes it’s something very basic where I just ask other people to. help me see, um, holes in my assumptions and you’ll always find one. They always find at least one and they don’t think as a mentor. Um, and if you can’t actually get a mentor, what you do is you imagine a mentor. So you, there might be someone out there who you really look up to, who you might not be able to reach out to.
[00:20:31] And what you do is you think about a problem you’re trying to solve you. Describe it in as much detail as you can. And then you think about, imagine that you sent that problem to the mentor. And then imagine about what the mentor would say. And then you imagine about how you would react to that.
[00:20:49] And then you mention again what your mentor would say to that. And what you’ll find is that you’ll never need a mentor actually, or need to send an email. And instead, you know, just by. Putting yourself in the shoes of some of the people you look up to to you often come to the conclusion yourself, or you at least know what the right next step is.
[00:21:09] And sometimes that’s getting help. Sometimes that’s getting a better understanding of the problem. Sometimes, you know, it’s something you need to learn, but it often comes back to the same type of things. And very often the problem is not shaved out in the best way. So these are the things that I can, that I personally use and that have, have helped me a ton.
[00:21:28] Brendan Hufford: [00:21:28] Yeah. That’s way better advice than something. I appreciate the more, like, not high level advice, but like, not like saying it’s too broad, but like, versus like, don’t do like this tactic or something like that, you know, that’s super helpful. I think along the lines of mentors, I, uh, I really look up to Ryan holiday alive.
[00:21:47] He’s one of my favorite authors and he, um, has this great. I share it more than anything else. This article about finding a mentor and like the first thing he says is like, don’t. Just don’t ask anybody to be your mentor. Like that’s too much anybody who you want to be, your mentor does not have time for that responsibility.
[00:22:03] But, um, like number one, just ask people questions. And if they give you an answer, go do it and then tell them you did it because nobody does and nobody follows up. Um, and then you earn the right to keep asking questions. Like some people I would, I’ve never called them my mentor. Um, I’ve never like, we don’t have that kind of relationship, but I’ve, I’ve been conversing with people.
[00:22:24] There’s a guy, uh, That owns a creative agency out of New York city. And right when I was starting figuring things out three or four years ago, um, I sent him some emails based on a medium post he wrote and he answered and I did stuff. And six months later I followed up and like, I just had an hour call with him.
[00:22:39] Not that long ago, over Skype, just like now we have more of a cadence of like, he knows when he tells me to do stuff, I’m going to do it. And like these playing the long game. I also liked your point about just like imagining what they would say. It’s kind of like the question of like, if a friend was having this problem, what would you tell them?
[00:22:54] And all of a sudden you have like total clarity.
[00:22:58] Kevin Indig: [00:22:58] Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny. What happens when you take your own ego out of the equation and, um, Deep down. We often know the right answer, but it’s hard to, you know, like pick off the layers and, and get to that truth. And sometimes it’s a bit uncomfortable, but, uh, I know I love Ryan holiday, who major fan just recently saw in life, um, in a, in a, in a book reading, uh, for his new book.
[00:23:22] Um, and there’s so much wisdom that I got that I got out of that stuff,
[00:23:26] but I think you touched on a really important
[00:23:27] point, which is to phrase good questions, not as easy as it sounds a weak question would be. I’m not getting organic traffic. What can I do? See, like, I I’m actually, I have a pretty open inbox.
[00:23:40] Like I have my email on my side I post on social media and incentivize people to reach out to me. And if you are describing to detect bond, somebody who’s that are, and you will respond, that goes right to my inbox. So I get actually quite a lot of questions and people reaching out to me and I I love helping out because I just wanted to give back.
[00:23:58] Right. Like I I got so much from people helping me without expecting anything in return,
[00:24:02] but so I got a lot of questions.
[00:24:03] Right. And a lot of people. ask me these very, poorly-phrased questions, like again, what I I get only little organic traffic, what should I do? And a really good phrase question is I’m getting like, or my organic traffic decreased here are three assumptions that I have and for each assumption.
[00:24:25] Here are two to three things that I’m planning to do. Um, and I wanna know, like, this is just what I’m thinking. Am I on the right path? Yes or no, just reply with a Y or an N. Perfect. That’s you know, and by the way, if you work in a company and you report to someone which everybody does, you should actually think about the same thing, make it super easy, you know, to, for your boss or for your manager to say just yes or no, and show them, you’ve thought through all the options and show them your thinking, and your rationale.
[00:24:57] And when people reach out to me with such a kind of question, First of all, it shows me they’re very much on top of the thing, and I’m much more inclined to help them maybe point out a a way where I would think differently or, or take another angle, but it also makes it so much easier to mentor someone because they do all the heavy lifting.
[00:25:16] And again, I promise you 90% of those emails never go out, because if you got to that point, most of the time, you don’t need somebody to say yes or no.
[00:25:25] Brendan Hufford: [00:25:25] Yeah. You’re not thinking it through just in the draft. Right? Um, yeah, I like that. I also like the, uh, like numb, like help me prioritize these. Like what would be most important?
[00:25:34] Like just bold, just bold one or two of these? Like what would you do first or like number them one through six. Um, that’s super helpful. Awesome. I want to ask one more kind of big question. Uh, and this is just selfish for me. Um, and we’ve talked a little bit about this previously, but. Uh, so at click studios right now, it was me.
[00:25:53] And then it was me plus one other person we’re looking to add one other. We’re going to hire again really soon. Uh, we’re doing some interviews right now, and that brings our team total to three. I can see a lot of ways that like we continue growing our team. I would love your input around like, Just like thinking and frameworks around growing an SEO team from scratch.
[00:26:14] We’ve just, I’m going to like do the things right now. Like here’s what I’m assuming. And here’s what I’m thinking, but I like, so I’m assuming and thinking like we’re looking at like probably to be solved and trying to think forward of like what problems we have right now and then what problems we’re going to have in the future so that we’re not just hiring for the right now.
[00:26:31] And then we were still short handed, right? As soon as immediately after a hire. Um, so like thinking those things through like a lot of what we need right now is like, in-house link-building and like, we need a lot of in-house like content we outsource not outsource, but we use a lot of like freelancers and stuff right now, which is great.
[00:26:49] Um, we also need, frankly, like another mean like another person who can think strategy and see like bigger picture stuff and is like really focused on SEO. Um, so I mean, I feel like I have a good framework of like what we need. My question is like, how do you go about like the actual building of that team?
[00:27:08] Whether that’s like keeping the team together, long-term finding the right people, or even in my, like, missing something in how I’m thinking about like a really small team.
[00:27:17] Kevin Indig: [00:27:17] Yeah. Great question. Uh, something that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last six to 12 months in part, because my team edgy too, is.
[00:27:30] Six five to six times larger than what I had to do. I said, so major team, tons of people. And at that point you’re basically designing systems that scale and that have a certain output. You’re not looking at very specific SEO tactics anymore, which I still sometimes like dive into a little bit, but anyway, long story short.
[00:27:51] So how do you, how do you scale a team properly and how do you set it up for success? I’m a bit inclined to ask to turn this around and ask you for your thought process, but I’m gonna give you an answer first. So first of all, you, you, I think it’s correct to ask for a framework. And then the question that I’m asking myself.
[00:28:14] Okay. What’s the goal of the framework. The goal is to make the right decisions for people. How do you make the right decisions? They’re based off of a couple of factors. Number one goals, like what are you trying to achieve? And a more thinking in terms of business goals. Number two, what are the workflows that have to be done?
[00:28:33] When we think about systems and principles, the question is always, what’s the input, what’s the output, right? So I would want to understand what is the workflow we have to employ to get a certain output, which is the first part. The third part is strengths. What are the strengths of the people that I’m employing?
[00:28:51] And then the fourth part, is there other preferences? What do they actually want to do? And I think if you use that. If those four factors as an assessment of the decisions you want to make and the framework you want to employ, I think that will help you get to, to the optimal kind of set up. So these are the four factors I’m thinking about.
[00:29:11] And the only caveat is that you’re probably not going to make everyone happy. I think it’s a bit easier with a smaller team. It’s much harder with a larger team, but I think it’s as fair as you can be while. Prioritizing the business goals.
[00:29:30] Brendan Hufford: [00:29:30] Yeah. I mean, from a business school standpoint, obviously we want results.
[00:29:33] The results, not only make me feel good, like I want to be able to tell people we’re crushing it. I want to do right. I think like making jobs for people is something that is in, I think, as a core, um, I don’t know a core belief that I have, like something I’m really passionate about. Like one of my friends fools is I take the.
[00:29:50] It weighs heavily on me doing client work, the economic impact of doing good or bad work like people do. I can cost people their jobs and they’ll have no idea if I don’t do good work. And I take that very seriously. So like getting them results, results, breed, more retention, more retention is more revenue for the company.
[00:30:10] Um, so I think that like when we’re looking for results and obviously looking at strengths and preferences, I think that makes sense for hiring. Um, I think a big thing that we’ve done so far in like a smaller scrappier team is we’ve hired for a lot more like entrepreneurial people. Like I want to see people who are already hustling, build it.
[00:30:28] People like me who are hustling, building their own things. They’re going to be looking for like new opportunities. I don’t have to like sit down with them and tell them like, Hey, this. Thing you’ve been doing, doesn’t seem like it’s working, like what, maybe you should try something like gonna do that automatically.
[00:30:43] Um, I need a lot of like the similar hustle that I have out of other people. Um, and so like this entrepreneurial thing that has been really, really important as a hiring quality, I’ve talked to Matt Barby about it, uh, from HubSpot and he. He said like the opposite is kind of true sometimes. Like I don’t, I almost don’t want to build a big team around a person in senior leadership.
[00:31:07] If I know they’re going to be gone into in a year or two, cause they’re like doing other things and they don’t see themselves staying here for a long period of time. I’m worried less about that with the people on my team right now. Just because like, I need so much of that. Like self-starting does that make sense?
[00:31:24] Kevin Indig: [00:31:24] It does make sense. And I think Barbie touches on an important point, which is
[00:31:28] Brendan Hufford: [00:31:28] the
[00:31:29] Kevin Indig: [00:31:29] tension between somebody wanting to be there. Long-term and somebody. Working towards taking themselves out of the equation, right? Like you P Y there’s this saying out there you want to set everything up. So you’re redundant and I think there is some merit to merit to it, but then of course, that next step for that person has to be done in the company.
[00:31:49] So I totally understand what he’s saying there. Let me ask you, what, what are the results that you are, that you want to achieve for your client?
[00:31:55] Brendan Hufford: [00:31:55] Yeah. I mean, for us, it is twofold. Um, it’s obviously like the vanity metrics of like keywords and traffic and things. Um, really it’s revenue goals. Um, we don’t talk a ton about revenue with organic.
[00:32:12] I’m saying we as like an industry, um, that’s like the number one thing they can talk about with paid, like we made you this much money. Um, but being able to prove tangibly that we’ve. 10 X to the investment on us or bigger than that, like that’s super important to me. Um, so really it’s just it’s revenue goals for the clients that we’re working
[00:32:30] Kevin Indig: [00:32:30] with.
[00:32:31] Okay. Makes perfect sense. Totally agree. We’re not talking about revenue now. That’s why I’m writing them get started. Cool for the inbound right now, a Bounder from Gianluca for Ellie, um, about exactly that problem and how to get around it easier, but then, okay. What prevents your clients most from generating more?
[00:32:51] Or more revenue through organic traffic. Is it that they are, that it’s hard for, for them to measure the revenue from organic
[00:32:57] Brendan Hufford: [00:32:57] traffic
[00:32:58] Kevin Indig: [00:32:58] or, or is it another problem that keeps them from increasing revenue through SEO?
[00:33:03] Brendan Hufford: [00:33:03] Yeah. Well, I think it’s obviously the answer is both, right? Why not both? Um, the, so it’s obviously the it’s hard to measure, right?
[00:33:11] We have a lot of people who have very convoluted businesses. They’re like, well, it’s a mix of like people calling us and we can’t track that because it’s a call and then it goes into the system and we don’t have the way to call it. Like. Attach like this specific call came from organic in our system. Um, we can see that calls happened, but it would take at least like right now with the technology we have and the, the manpower, it would take like a manual kind of setting up of that sort of thing to align things.
[00:33:37] Um, so it’s convoluted business systems where they don’t, they have a lot of different ways that they make money. And then also a lot of ways that those people come in. Um, I think that’s a big part of it. Like we could probably like that is. Really essential. Cause we’re just saying like, well, leads are up or this is up or this is down.
[00:33:56] Um, and then we’re asking them in a very like Coca Cola madman sort of way of like, well, revenue is up this quarter. Guess you guys did great. Um, it’s not the best way to measure. So I think it is some of the measurement. And I think in terms of traffic, like just having, um, having a more aligned system, like within click, uh, from.
[00:34:18] You know, content strategy to design, to development, to like all of the, to support, even that like all supports, like our goals are all revenue for the client versus like the designers goals are to design something that wins an award. The developers have like a different kind of internal goal. I have a different goal.
[00:34:36] Um, I think having a system within click that then aligns everything to like, we need to make these people money is really important. Um, and. I don’t know if I answered your question. Yeah. The
[00:34:49] Kevin Indig: [00:34:49] question was really just like, what are the biggest problems holding you back from making clients more revenue?
[00:34:55] And it seems like part of that, Oh, please go ahead.
[00:34:58] Brendan Hufford: [00:34:58] The last thing is just like, I don’t have enough time. I’m so busy. Like I’m an executer. I still execute a lot of things and I don’t feel entitled to any of this, what I’m about to say, but working towards it, I think is important. It’s just, I don’t have the head space to think about bigger stuff.
[00:35:13] Because in a lot of cases, I’m still uploading content to clients, blogs. I’m still formatting H two tags. And again, I’m not above that. It’s just, if we want to be able to do bigger and better things, like I need to be able to like, have some time to like pull out of that a little bit, if that makes sense.
[00:35:30] Kevin Indig: [00:35:30] Hey, it sounds like you got like two really good objectives or your team in a certain way, which is to, you know, for you to get more Headspace, to be more strategic. And the other is to help your clients understand revenue from organic traffic, much more. So that’s, that’s how it was structured team, you know, problem for us approach.
[00:35:49] Brendan Hufford: [00:35:49] Yes, I’m taking notes. I’m writing. I guess I can watch this as many times as I want, but I’m still writing it down. Yeah. That’s really helpful. That’s really helpful. Um, last, last question promise. Uh, and this is super important to me again. Uh, this is one of those like asking for a friend kind of questions.
[00:36:05] Um, I would love to talk, I love to talk about like career in SEO career is not something I ever thought of. I w I came up in the online marketing world, so I thought the goal, I was a teacher at the time. The goal is you build a side hustle, you have it, meet your, uh, you know, your salary and then you quit your job.
[00:36:23] And you’re this like online person. And then I, you know, I, things changed and I was like, Oh, there’s this world where you just like workplaces. And like, yes, you can do things on the side. Like you ever newsletter and you do a bunch of stuff. I do some things, but like you still have this career in that can be very valuable and rewarding.
[00:36:42] Like not everything has to be like cubicle nation, take the leap, quit your day job to dream job, all these like things that people, most of the people telling you that stuff also are selling you courses on how to do it. Uh, which is something I learned. But I would love to hear more about like, how you’ve thought about your career in like, SEO and content.
[00:37:01] Um, yeah, I would just love to hear more about how you think about that and how you’ve thought about like growing. Like, especially when is it time to like really double down on where you’re at and when is it time to like, maybe look at other opportunities that
[00:37:14] Kevin Indig: [00:37:14] is a good question or that those are a couple of good questions.
[00:37:18] After saying the beginning of my career, I mostly followed my curiosity and learning. I. Started out with a bit of dangerous half knowledge in SEO that I taught myself from like computer games, as long as the story to it.
[00:37:35] Brendan Hufford: [00:37:35] But
[00:37:37] Kevin Indig: [00:37:37] yeah, I feel like, you know, I feel like there’s lots of people with that similar story or something to it.
[00:37:41] And I think video games, yeah. They teach you a lot of good stuff or maybe they’re more a. Resolved of a certain personality. Anyway, long story short, I kind of, I was very lucky to stumble into a great online marketing agency that really helped me to build my skills in a very, in a very fast way and said go in a fast paced track.
[00:38:01] So there was a lot of lock-in positive, um, um, accidents involved, but I then got to a point where I realized that I could be successful in that field and had the. Again, the luck that this field grew very fast, right? And nowadays is so big and I kind of grew with the industry. So there’s a, there are a couple of components to that.
[00:38:27] So I think that the moment when I realized that there was something, the bushes is when I was consulting and enterprise company for the first time and talk to some very high executives in huge. Fortune 50 companies that were much older than me and were very confused about why these young guys is talking to them and explaining them how to restructure their website.
[00:38:49] But that that’s when I think I first realized, Ooh, that says something about it. And so. I think from there on, it took a much more productive, proactive stance in shaping my career. First of all, trying to, to really refine my skills and gain a lot of experience. And if you look at my resume, you will notice that I had exposure to a couple of different types of verticals and companies, um, from B to C to B, to B, um, called the marketing driven inventory, driven all sorts of companies.
[00:39:21] Again, I was. Most of the intention did that to just, um, collect a lot of experience. And what you see now is that I’m broadening up a lot. So it started out in a very, very specific technical way, and now I’m broadening them out like crazy. Um, and I’m going for. Uh, becoming a CMO in the next couple of years, I would, I, I really that’s my goal.
[00:39:43] I want to be a CMO that being said, my heart will always be attached to us, you know? And I’m still, you know, I’m still sometimes hands on. I still got projects where you know, much deeper in the weeds. I’ll always keep that up to a certain extent. When do you know when to take the next step? It really depends on your goals and where, you know, what, what do you have an inclination for and the context?
[00:40:06] Um, not everybody has to be a manager. I think if you figure it out for yourself, you want to be an individual contributor, then I think that’s amazing. And all the parts we’ll. Um, and then sometimes, you know, Um, you realize that you have been, you have been sitting somewhere for way too long. So I think it comes back to the problem and clarity, right?
[00:40:27] Like understand what you want. And I know it’s not always easy. I in the beginning also did not know what I want, but put in the mental effort. And consider all the options, go deep, write a journal, reflect, talk to people, talk to people who are in a position that you think you want to be in. See what it’s like, um, gather as much data points as possible and see what the pattern is.
[00:40:50] See what you’re strong at, ask other people what you’re really good at. Um, I think the best decisions come from understanding yourself really well because if you know. Um, what she can do and what not, you can work on it. You can shape out a path for yourself and it’s, it’s much easier and clearer in terms of what you, what your next steps are supposed to do.
[00:41:13] So I know that was a lot, but I hope I answered some of the questions you asked.
[00:41:16] Brendan Hufford: [00:41:16] Yeah, you absolutely did. That was extremely helpful in like, thinking that through. And I think that’s something that I’m still learning right now. Like I’m very much in a bubble, um, being like the earliest hire within the agency that I work at, but I, I love.
[00:41:29] Where I work right now. I really do like it. Um, and it wasn’t until I came, I talked to you and like went to the G2 reach event that I was like, Oh, Oh, there’s like other things going on in other companies. Like, you know, I’ve just been, I’ve been, I’m just being transparent with you. Like I’ve been, I taught for 10 years and like built stuff on the side.
[00:41:47] So like, I, I feel like this is such a poor analogy, but I feel like. Um, the, the guy who went to college, but he’s still dating the person he was dating in high school. Um, and everybody’s like, you know, you just don’t, you’re like, I don’t know, like, I, I know this and I don’t, I’m just, I want to open myself, but it also gives me like a better chance to grow.
[00:42:05] Right. Like talking to people like yourself and even like Ryan and other people, um, has been like really helpful, just like understanding, like how things scale and how they get bigger. And like, just even if what that looks like, and if that’s what I want. Right. Like, do I want to be a CMO? I have no idea. I have no clue.
[00:42:24] Never even thought about it. Like never, you know what I mean? Like I never. I don’t know. Um, but do I want to be the person that’s uploading the blog posts and formatting the H twos again, not putting it down, but like, no, I don’t want to do that right now. Um, I want to like solve bigger problems and have bigger impact.
[00:42:41] Uh, and it’s been like, really, I have to give you credit a little bit and especially like, I guess, credit to you and like the team at G2, just looking at the. Volume that you all have put together of like traffic and everything, like has caused me to like really put the pedal down with what we’re doing at cliff, like all the way.
[00:42:58] Uh, and it’s been, I mean, I want it to, I want search results transparently to be like a HubSpot, G2 and draft. And then like, who the hell is click studios like this shit? You know what I mean? Like, that’s the type of thing that I want and I want to be the person behind that and I want to build something bigger and I want to have really big impact on.
[00:43:18] Our organization, like we’re a design agency, right? Like we, that’s huge. We’ve never pursued content marketing in earnest until I like really put my foot down about it. So yeah, I think it’s been really helpful to hear like your insight on that on growing a team, but also on like the advanced in the beginner’s problems.
[00:43:35] Um, I really appreciate you coming on. Kevin tell, I, I guess I would love to hear more about where people can find you talk about like tech bound and everything else you have going
[00:43:44] Kevin Indig: [00:43:44] on. Yeah, thank you so much. Uh, that wasn’t super insightful conversation, um, also for me. And so, um, if you’re curious about hearing more and follow me, uh, I’m on Twitter under my real name, Kevin indig, I N D I G.
[00:44:00] Brendan Hufford: [00:44:00] are you somewhere else under a fake name?
[00:44:03] Kevin Indig: [00:44:03] No, but people mess up my last name all the time. So, uh, I rather rather spell it out or maybe I am. You’ll never know. Um, and then I blog on my, uh, on my side, which is also Kevin dash.com. I write a weekly free newsletter with exclusive content and curated news and interviews of all sorts of bright minds in the industry called tech bounds.
[00:44:25] Um, and that’s pretty much mostly it, man, when you Google my name, you’ll find all this stuff that you need.
[00:44:30] Brendan Hufford: [00:44:30] Yeah. I’ve been telling people that lately too. Uh, it’s one of the benefits of having a, of not being like Justin Jackson or something. Right. I mean, I can find you super easily. Um, but yeah, the interview you just did, I’ll link it in the description below.
[00:44:43] Uh, the interview you just did with NICU banks is fantastic, too big fan of the newsletter. Kevin, thanks for joining us for a hundred days of SEO. Thanks
[00:44:51] Kevin Indig: [00:44:51] for having me. I’m looking forward to the next 200 days of SEO.
[00:44:58] Brendan Hufford: [00:44:58] Um,