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SEOButler Does CMSEO Pt. 2 — Day 1 Presentations and Speaker Summaries


4 Dec 2019


CMSEO 2019 Crowd Scene

Thursday — CMSEO Day 1 

Finally, the day we’d all been waiting for.

Not only were we all due to take turns staffing the SEOButler booth—handing out swag and chatting with customers—but this was also the day Jonathan was to deliver his Sleeping Giant presentation.

Jonathan and Lyndsay got to Le Meridien early to set up our booth—we were fortunate enough to get the best possible location, and our t-shirts and stickers turned out fabulous.

Florian, Jonathan, Sean, Zeke, Frankie, and Lyndsay

Standup comedian and CMSEO MC Adam Palmeter—one of the originators of Saigon’s open mic comedy scene recently featured in The New York Times—officially kicked off the conference by introducing Matt Diggity, who delivered the keynote speech.

Matt Diggity — Keynote

Matt is not only the founder of CMSEO, but he also owns numerous successful digital marketing businesses—including Diggity Marketing, The Search Initiative, and LeadSpring.

He’s also the creator of one of the best-known affiliate marketing courses: The Lab.

Matt gave a short but incisive state-of-the-SEO-industry address that set the tone perfectly for the rest of the conference.

Key Takeaways

SEO is Better Than Ever

E-Commerce SEO

  • More people are shopping and researching purchases online than ever.
  • Lifetime customer value is skyrocketing thanks to retargeting, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and abandoned cart marketing automation.
  • Platforms like WooCommerce make combining SEO and e-commerce more accessible to everyone.

Client SEO

  • More websites online mean more potential customers
  • “Businesses finally get the value of SEO, and the price for SEO services is justified.”

Affiliate SEO

  • Successful affiliate websites can be flipped for 40x monthly profit.
  • $25k monthly profit can earn you a $1 million buyout.

SEO Has Never Been Easier (For SEOs Already Doing It Right)

  • Software tools make it simple to reverse engineer page 1.
  • There are fewer and fewer legitimate competitors providing SEO services, partly due to a higher barrier to entry.
  • It costs more to get in the game, and there’s a steep learning curve to figure what really works.

The Blueprint for a Successful SEO Strategy in 2020

  • Create superior content
  • Maximize visitor time-on-page
  • E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) matters. Use author boxes, about pages, valid contact information, GMB, and Schema to build your E-A-T for Google. Citations can also help build E-A-T.
  • Use tools like Clarabridge, Repustate, and Opentext for sentiment analysis of your content to ensure you’re hitting the right tone. Note that, on average, “objective review content has a negative sentiment.”
  • Backlinks still matter.
  • Reverse engineer page 1. Look at what’s ranking at the top of the SERPs and improve upon it.

Kyle Roof — Google’s Algorithm is an Algorithm

Kyle is one of the most thoughtful and innovative SEOs out there. He invented PageOptimizerPro and is lead SEO at High Voltage SEO. 

But Kyle is perhaps best known—infamous, even—for an SEO experiment involving the search term “rhinoplasty Plano.”

What started as part of a “Rank or Go Home” challenge on Stephen Kang’s popular SEO Signals Lab Facebook group turned many an SEO’s notions of how Google’s algorithm evaluates and ranks content on its head.

That’s because Kyle managed to get the search term “rhinoplasty Plano” ranked number one on Google with a site written—except for strategically placed keywords—entirely in Lorem Ipsum.

As Search Engine Journal put it, ““It mocks everything Google says about authority and quality content. Google ranking a site written in Latin is analogous to the wheels falling off a car.”

Four days after the Search Engine Journal article was published, Google de-indexed Kyle’s page and hit it with a manual penalty, ending his Lorem Ipsum site’s reign at the top of the SERPs.

A conference highlight, Kyle’s polished and entertaining presentation at CMSEO involved a personal recounting of the rhinoplasty Plano “scandal,” its aftermath, and what it tells us about Google’s ranking algorithm.

Key Takeaways

  • Google can’t read. It’s an algorithm.
  • On-page SEO is about math and placement of exact keywords and variations. The rest of the words don’t really matter.
  • Google shows you the sites it likes. It likes sites for one of three reasons:
    • On-page SEO
    • Off-page SEO
    • A combination of the two
  • Kyle presented irrefutable proof that the methods he used to rank “rhinoplasty Plano” still work today.
  • The primary tools Kyle used to rank “rhinoplasty Plano” (and many other sites/keywords) are PageOptimizerPro and Cora.
  • Advice for affiliate marketers:
    • Build a small scale SaaS product for between $5,000 – $10,000 that costs under $400 to maintain.
    • Solve one small $20 problem
    • Aim for 100 word-of-mouth subscribers.
    • Hit that target, and you’ll have $2K MRR and be ROI positive in four months.

Greg Elfrink — The Multiple Million Dollar End Game for Content Sites

Empire Flippers is one of the best-known, well-established website brokers and online business marketplaces in the industry.

If you’ve ever built an affiliate site or SaaS and dreamed of flipping it for six or seven figures, odds are you’re familiar with Empire Flippers.

For anyone interested in how to arrive at an accurate valuation of an online business and the steps required to prepare a company for sale, the Empire Flippers blog is a terrific resource.

Likewise for anyone interested in purchasing and growing an existing online business.

Greg Elfrink is the director of marketing and content guru for Empire Flippers.

In his brief presentation, he outlined the process of building and selling a profitable content site.

Key Takeaways

  • Many content sites (typically affiliate/display advertising-based businesses) think too small. They rely on SEO alone and don’t take advantage of building a bigger audience through other channels such as social media, email marketing, etc.
  • Think big! Niche and authority content sites that focus only on SEO and don’t have a “real” brand typically sell for 24 – 40x monthly net profit.
  • Content sites that structure themselves more like a media company—keeping all traffic verticals open, building an addressable audience and brand with returning visitors—typically sell for 35 – 70x monthly net profit.
  • What does a media company have that most content sites don’t?
    • Long-term thinking beyond SEO
    • A talented, well-paid team, not just VAs
    • A healthy “war chest” of capital
  • How do you build your war chest?
    • Build niche and authority sites. Then sell them.
    • For example, build five sites making $2k per month in a year.
    • Grow each site to $2k net profit (on a 12-month average) per month
    • Sell four of the sites (hanging on to the most promising one) at an average sales multiple of 27x monthly net profit.
    • Collect $216,000—then do it again.
    • Scale your team
    • Use the funds to build your “media empire”

Barry Adams — The Secrets to Technical SEO Success

Barry has been in the SEO game for a long time—since 1998.

He’s the founder of the award-winning Polemic Digital, widely considered one of the top small SEO agencies in Europe.

Key Takeaways

  • The three pillars of SEO are Technology, Relevancy, and Authority
  • Google measures each in different ways:
    • Technology → Crawler
    • Relevancy → Indexer
    • Authority → Query Engine
  • Small improvements to technical SEO pay big dividends over time:

Marginal Gains CMSEO(Source: James Clear)

  • Maximizing page-speed sitewide is a vital component of technical SEO.
  • At its core, technical SEO = optimizing for crawling and indexing.
  • The root cause of a technical SEO issue isn’t always obvious
  • It helps to really understand how search engines work
  • It also helps to understand how the web works
  • Javascript is evil!

To be honest, not being a technical SEO, much of Barry’s presentation went over my head. ?

You can find more of Barry’s technical SEO insights here and here.

Jonathan Kiekbusch CMSEOJonathan Kiekbusch — The Sleeping Giant Strategy

Not surprisingly, Jonathan’s presentation was the biggest moment of CMSEO for myself and the rest of the SEOButler team.

Jonathan, Lyndsay, and I worked on The Sleeping Giant for months. We found a talented fantasy illustrator in Saigon to create original graphics and honed the presentation to deliver as much value as possible in the 45-minute time slot.

The whole team had seen Jonathan rehearse the presentation, so we felt confident that it would go well.

Still, you never know how an audience will react—particularly given that Jonathan chose to cover very different territory from the other speakers.

There were no quick hacks for getting to the top of the SERPs.

The Sleeping Giant Strategy is about the bigger picture of building and scaling a successful business.

Sleeping Giant CMSEO

Key Takeaways

Jonathan began by sharing his own journey as an entrepreneur. How it took him a long time to realize that the key to successfully scaling a business isn’t to carry all the responsibilities and burdens on your shoulders alone.

Instead, a founder’s duty is to awaken the giant that a business can become.

As Jonathan puts it, “Every new business is a Sleeping Giant—it’s up to you to wake it up.”

He then outlined the six steps entrepreneurs can take in the next 12 months to help their business reach its full potential:

  • Set achievable goals
  • Recruit the right team
  • Build your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Motivate your team and keep them productive and happy
  • Work on your business, not in it

Jonathan provided actionable tactics and examples for each step.

He then challenged the founders in the room to implement the Sleeping Giant Strategy in their own businesses over the next 12 months and measure the results.

Obviously, I’m far from objective about The Sleeping Giant Strategy, but the presentation went off without a hitch. It was entertaining and delivered valuable, hard-won insight for entrepreneurs—especially those in the early stages of their business journey.

The overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from attendees after the presentation suggested that the Sleeping Giant Strategy really resonated with founders and helped them look at their own businesses in a different light.

If I had to pick just one takeaway, I’d go with Jonathan’s emphasis on the value of building an “empathy culture” into a business.

According to him, being a leader doesn’t mean being a dictator or tyrant: “You serve your team. Your team serves the customer.”

Having been part of the SEOButler team for over six months, I’ve seen how Jonathan puts those words into action every day and the positive effect it has on morale and productivity.

Not only is the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.

Charles Floate — What You Learn From Building Over a Million Dollars of Links a Year

Once known as the God of SEO, Charles Floate is a black-hat SEO legend.

Founder of DFYLinks and The Proper SEO Group—as mentioned here—his presentation was highly anticipated, and he didn’t disappoint.

Key Takeaways

  • “Google’s ‘algopocalypse’ has been nuts.”
    • Weekly algorithm updates impact the SERPs
    • Conflicting trends from week-to-week
    • Niche-dependent algorithm changes
  • Track the performance of all your sites and keywords
    • Identify winners and losers the same day as an algorithm update
    • Look for on-page correlations
    • Review your site’s link profiles
  • Algorithm updates are trending towards Google rewarding more established and powerful sites at the expense of smaller competitors.
  • As of Google’s recent BERT Update:
    • Links—both internal and external—are still crucial for SEO. However Google may be moving towards rewarding quality over quantity.
    • You can point powerful external links to your homepage or category pages, and sub-pages will still rank better as link-juice flows through the internal links.
    • Acquiring three or four guest post backlinks on authoritative sites with high Domain Authority may have a more significant impact than building out backlinks from average or low-quality websites.
    • Google favors internal linking even over direct backlinks.
  • Why are backlinks still crucial for SEO?
    • Links are still the number one ranking signal
    • They’re cost-effective to build or buy
  • The state of link-building in 2019/2020
    • Domain authority is more important than ever.
    • It’s easier to get anchor text strategy wrong than right.
    • Links must be relevant to the site and content.
    • Less links are often more—building too many backlinks may be counterproductive.
  • Consider ranking sites in a language other than English
    • Fresh domains rank
    • Link velocity isn’t a factor
    • Anchor text should be over-optimized
    • Foreign search algorithms don’t understand context

That wraps up our coverage of the first day of CMSEO 2019. Watch out for speaker summaries and more from Day 2 tomorrow!


SEAN SHUTERSEOButler’s Editor-in-Chief, Sean has been writing about business and culture for a variety of publications, including Entrepreneur and Vogue, for over 20 years. A serial entrepreneur, he has founded and operated businesses on four continents.


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