SEO Is Not Dead: 9 Founders Share Their Biggest Secrets & Strategies For Success

SEO Is Not Dead: 9 Founders Share Their Biggest Secrets & Strategies For Success

SEO Is Not Dead: 9 Founders Share Their Biggest Secrets & Strategies For Success
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SEO is not dead, but it is evolving.

Over the years, we have found that many traditional SEO techniques often complicate a process that is really quite simple.

This is not to say the principles of SEO should be ignored (they shouldn’t) - however, our goal is to show you simple and attainable SEO tips that founders are using today to grow their businesses.

Let's cut through the noise and dig up 9 SEO secrets from successful founders.

Tip 1: Meet User Demand

Keyword research can be a very useful tool in understanding the demand for your product. If a large number of people are searching for a particular term, it could mean that there is a lot of unmet need for your product or service.

You can get started for free using tools like Google Search Planner, and Semrush's free trial.

Kyle Bergman started Swoveralls over 5 years ago. He decided used Google Keyword Planner to validate his business idea:

Revenue
$100K / month
Team
1 founders / 10 employees
Location
New York, New York, USA

Case Study

Once I realized other people might want sweatpant overalls too, I used Google's keyword search planner to see roughly how many people were looking for this term online.

In the month of March 2017, this tool showed that between 100-1,000 people were also looking for sweatpant overalls.

sweatpants-overalls-how-i-turned-a-silly-idea-into-a-viral-brand

Keyword search results in March 2017

A part of me was shocked, but after I thought about it...it made sense - probably a little awareness created from the BuzzFeed article, but more importantly, people just like me were looking for an awesome, comfy combo.

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Kyle Bergman, on starting Swoveralls ($100,000/month) full story ➜

Tip 2: Always Test (Approach SEO Like A Startup)

At Starter Story, we built a framework called Lean SEO.

We grew Starter Story to over 1M visitors/month using this approach.

Pat Walls (from New York, New York, USA) started Starter Story about 5 years ago.

Revenue
$79K / month
Team
1 founders / 6 employees
Location
New York, New York, USA

Case Study

People think SEO success is about knowing Google's algorithm front to back.

It's not. It's about taking action. Finding what works. And then scaling it.

Here's the framework:

(1) Research: Identify content opportunities through quick research (2) Create: Create MVCs (Minimum Viable Content) to test the viability (3) Test: Measure results over a 30-day period (4) Decision: Iterate on your content based on its performance (5) Scale: Scale it when something works, using structured data, automation, outsourcing, and UGC

Why does this work?

By using this framework, we make many small bets with an iterative approach.

Instead of spending weeks on one piece of content that may never pan out, we run dozens of experiments at once.

Through these experiments, we eventually landed on multiple big content opportunities.

And when we got serious about this framework, we 4x'd our search traffic in 6 months. Here is proof (Google Search Console):

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More info on Lean SEO here.

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Pat Walls, on starting Starter Story ($79,000/month) full story ➜

Tip 3: Repurpose Long Form Content

Instead of starting from scratch, you can use existing content as the foundation for your new piece, saving time and money.

Typically, content gets stale over time, and you lose the SEO capacity the old content once brought. That does not mean the old content goes to waste.

Repurposing the content is a way to revitalize the content so you continue enjoying a high ranking on social media platforms.

Greg Shuey (from Lehi, UT, USA) started Empyre Off-Road about 5 years ago. He went from 200 readers/mo to 50k users/mo by repurposing long-term content.

Revenue
$100K / month
Team
1 founders / 2 employees

Case Study

I saw so many Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner owners in the forums asking questions and gathering information to help themselves.

So I decided that I was going to start building out large guides and resources on my blog that would answer these questions and would teach, guide, and consult these individuals into purchasing my products.

my-side-hustle-makes-1-2m-year-selling-car-accessories

From there, I would take all of this long-form content and I would repurpose it. I would turn it into videos that I would add to YouTube. I would take snippets of this content and use them to share on social media.

I would create additional content that would expand on certain areas of my long-form post and submit those two external automotive blogs to get links coming back to my website.

All of these activities have allowed me to be able to grow my website traffic in four years from around 200 visitors a month to just shy of 50,000 visitors per month generating an average of 100,000 unique page views per month.

my-side-hustle-makes-1-2m-year-selling-car-accessories

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Greg Shuey, on starting Empyre Off-Road ($99,998/month) full story ➜

Tip 4: Youtube Videos Are Your Best Friend

If you’re not already using YouTube as part of SEO strategy, it’s time to give it a try.

YouTube has become one of the most important places for people to find information about products and services.

In addition, Youtube videos are an excellent way to increase your ranking on Google search, because they're more likely to be shared than other types of content.

Ed Baldoni (from Scott Township, PA, USA) started Concrete Countertop Solutions about 13 years ago. Their business (and SEO) completely took off once they started creating youtube videos.

Revenue
$1.1M / month
Team
1 founders / 10 employees

Case Study

One of the best SEO and marketing tools for us has always been YouTube. It serves as a great top-of-the-funnel tool to help new customers (still in the researching phase) find us, but it also serves as our main educational tool as well.

So we started putting out instructional videos showing how to use our products and doing full tutorials of start to finish countertop installations.

Besides greatly helping our SEO, these YouTube videos started getting a lot of traffic from a passionate DIY community. What I originally envisioned as a product for professionals like myself, was quickly becoming a great tool for DIYers to save money by installing their countertops.

Once I realized the potential this market could offer, we started producing more educational content and focusing much of our SEO keywords and advertising on attracting the DIYer.

Our YouTube channel currently has almost 20K subscribers and over 6M video views.

This is really what made the business take off.

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Ed Baldoni, on starting Concrete Countertop Solutions ($1,100,000/month) full story ➜

Tip: 5 Optimize Title Tags & Meta Descriptions

Once you have determined the right keywords, it's time to strategically place these online to optimize your website.

A title tag is the HTML element that refers to the title of a web page. These are the clickable headline displayed on the search engine results page, and ultimately allow search engines to understand what your website is about.

A meta descriptions describe the content of the page they're on. Meta descriptions are mainly important for click rates - the description will essentially tell someone right away if your website will fulfill their search needs.

Chris Casseday (from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) started 513 Kicks over 5 years ago. He discusses the importance of unique title tags and meta descriptions for his SEO efforts:*

Revenue
$5K / month
Team
1 founders / 1 employees
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Case Study

In order to have my website to appear near the top of the Google search results, I placed a strong emphasis on SEO.

Each page has unique title tags, meta descriptions, and structured data markups. This allows Google to crawl and index my website and rank it appropriately in the search results.

As a result of this work, I’ve grown my organic traffic from zero to over 2,000 visitors a month. Over 80% of this traffic is from new visitors, and ultimately new potential customers.

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Chris Casseday, on starting 513 Kicks ($5,000/month) full story ➜

Tip 6: Publish Ultimate Guides To Increase Your Traffic

Search engines like Google like to rank content that is informative, helpful, and relevant to what a user is searching for. An ultimate guide helps you achieve this goal by providing detailed information about a topic or product.

Ultimate guide articles can come in many forms, such as step-by-step guides, case studies, videos and more.

Brock McGoff (from Tucson, Arizona, USA) started The Modest Man over 10 years ago. He gives us his strategy on using "ultimate guides" to increase traffic.

Revenue
$4K / month
Team
1 founders / 8 employees
Location
Tucson, Arizona, USA

Case Study

I also spent a lot of time learning about SEO, from black hat to white hat. I just wanted to know how it worked.

When I started TMM, I found that high-quality content that’s on-page optimized for search will pretty much always get traffic, eventually.

starting-a-men-s-style-publication-and-reaching-a-million-people-per-month

For example, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of articles about watches. Even subtopics like “watches for small wrists” have been covered extensively, but not very thoroughly.

I try to make content that’s very thorough. Think “ultimate guide” type articles. So when I wrote about watches for small wrists, I included 25 watches instead of 5 or 10.

I included a sortable table with links, along with an infographic and explanation about sizing. In my opinion, it’s the best article about small watches on the Internet (at least when I wrote it). And Google will always reward you for creating this kind of content.

Coming up with ideas for content isn’t hard. I would just field questions or look at what other more popular sites were doing and add my own spin to it.

For example, if Esquire was ranking for “best jeans” I would write an article about “best jeans for short men” and make it even better than theirs. Add media like original photos and videos. Add infographics. Make an audio version for people who don’t like to read. Make it longer, more entertaining, more concise, easier to scan. Make it better.

It’s a rinse and repeat process that takes a bit of patience, but it pays off in the long run.

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Brock McGoff, on starting The Modest Man ($4,000/month) full story ➜

Market research is a great way to get a feel for what's going on in your industry and what consumers are looking for.

Using keyword tools can be a great way to get some insight into what people are looking for while you're still developing your idea.

Anthony Rosemond (from Phelan, CA, USA) started Pastreez over 5 years ago. This couple spotted a six-figure business opportunity thanks to Semrush

Revenue
$25K / month
Team
2 founders / 2 employees

Case Study

I strongly recommend doing a quick market study BEFORE stepping into the project. Nothing too fancy! For example, use the SEMRush tool. It’s an SEO tool that gets analytics on search queries on Google.

It is a gold mine. I was able to find out easily if there was a market for macarons online in the US. For instance, buying intent queries like macarons near me or buying macarons had a lot of volumes.

In addition, I was able to check on competitors and dig into what they offer. There were a few, which is good because it proves there is a market. It also helps to start a blog answering real customers' questions, like what do macarons taste like, or the best macarons study in the US.

But I also found out that none had our authenticity twist: Real French macarons, handcrafted by real French chefs trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

At this point, Pastreez was on paper. So we packed and flew from Paris to California two weeks later!

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Anthony Rosemond, on starting Pastreez ($25,000/month) full story ➜

Tip 8: Consistency is key

Consistency is key for SEO and content creation because it allows you to establish a solid, long-term presence on the internet.

Brett Lindenberg (from California, USA) started Food Truck Empire over 8 years ago. He gives us 3 content creation tips that are proven to help your SEO game.

Revenue
$5.4K / month
Team
1 founders / 1 employees
Location
California, USA

Case Study

The majority (about 75%) of the traffic comes from Google Organic Search. Below is a screen shot from semrush.com highlighting organic growth over the years. The number two traffic source is Direct Traffic, meaning people come directly to the website.

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Steady organic traffic growth over the years per SEMRush.com.

Here are my tips:

1. Create a Content Goal to Publish 2 - 3 High Quality Pieces Per Week on Blog

Focus on quality of the posts. Focus on finding topics with 100 or more monthly searches in SEMRush.com. Add images, spreadsheets, videos, calculators or something else in your content to make it truly unique from everything else published online. Each post should be over 1,500 words in length or more to ensure you’re going in-depth on the topic.

2. Find Ways to Get Other People or Organizations Involved in Each Piece of Content

When you get other people involved in the content of your website it’s more likely to be shared. Don’t just write about your own thoughts on a topic. Gather the opinions and get quotes from other experts on the topic you cover.

This is a great way to meet people and help promote your own content. The more you do this the more you’ll get referenced by other bloggers or experts which will generate more inbound links (important for search) and social traffic to your website. This is critical in the beginning to get noticed.

3. Find a Foundational Subject Matter Expert on a Specific Topic

If you’re going to be deep diving on a certain topic it can help to conduct a deep-dive interview series with one featured expert.

If you run a podcast or blog that includes interviews, you already know that conducting outreach, scheduling a time to talk, and all of the administrative back and forth associated with booking guests takes a lot of time.

The main piece of advice I can say is to be consistent and view this as a long-term game.

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Brett Lindenberg, on starting Food Truck Empire ($5,400/month) full story ➜

Link building is one of the most important elements of SEO.

Link building isn't just important because it helps you rank higher in search results—it's also a way to build credibility and authority with your audience.

David Pagotto (from Remote) started Six Gun ago. He shares with us why link building is so critical for your SEO efforts.

Case Study

The backlink profile and number of high-quality referring domains a website has are some of the most important ranking factors.

The number of high-quality domains linking back to a site indicates its strength and level of authority to a search engine. So how do you generate links to increase your backlinks and referring domains?

Generating Links

1 – Leverage Professional Relationships

You can use your suppliers, clients and other business contacts to gain support and get genuine back links. Often this can be as simple as being listed on their supplier/dealer/partner page, depending on your relationship.

2 – Public Relations

Responding to requests from journalists through platforms like HARO can get you quoted (often with a backlink) from reputable media website.

3 – Content Marketing and Outreach

Websites are always looking for high-quality, complimentary content to send their users to. Content marketing is all about building a database of high-quality content on your own website and reaching out to related parties who are likely to benefit from sharing it with their users. Creating something of value is always the first step.

Final Thoughts

There you have it - 9 proven tips and strategies that will help you increase your visibility online.

Tools like Semrush can provide you with all the insights and data you need to get your site ranking and build a winning SEO strategy.

For a limited-time, Semrush is offering our readers a free 14-day trial. No strings attached.

meet the author
Pat Walls

I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.