Drive and Convert (Ep. 092): What You Need to Know About SEO Right Now

There is no "hacking" SEO. It takes time, money and energy, but there is a great ROI. Jon and Ryan discuss what you need to know to build the right growth strategy for your SEO.

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About This Episode:

SEO takes time, money, and energy. 

There is no shortcut to achieving increased rankings on a search results page over a short period of time. 

So, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the business awhile, you need to have a strategy for SEO. 

In today’s episode, Jon and Ryan share that while there are no hacks, there are proven ways to build the right strategy that will get you in front of the right audience. 

Listen to the full episode if you want to learn:

  1. Why there is no “hacking” SEO 
  2. Why website optimization is crucial to SEO 
  3. What role quality content has for SEO 
  4. Why backlinks are still valuable 
  5. How long it takes to see results from SEO

If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We’re @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.

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Episode Transcript:

Announcer: [00:00:00] You’re listening to drive and convert a podcast about helping online brands to build a better e commerce growth engine with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow.

Jon MacDonald: So Ryan, you spend a lot of time talking about paid search traffic and on this podcast, you’ve done it

Ryan Garrow: maybe too much.

Jon MacDonald: I’m not one to judge. I have my things.

I talked a lot about, but. I do know that some people may take that as that you don’t think SEO is a valuable investment. I’m not sure how that may be the case. So I personally know that’s not the case for you though. So today you’ve got a bunch of information you want to share about when to do SEO, when it’s actually valuable and what is actually valuable from an SEO standpoint.

Ryan Garrow: Yes, I’ve got some information and, you know, I do focus a lot on paid [00:01:00] search. That’s largely because the vast number of companies spending on paid search, it can be turned around very quickly. But I do advocate, if you see a channel in analytics, When you’re looking at your reporting and what Google tells you your channels are you should have a growth strategy around that channel?

And if you don’t you’re probably missing out on a decent amount and SEO is a big one of those It’s important to focus on and I haven’t focused on it probably is enough on this particular podcast about driving traffic so hopefully we can fix that and at least give some some foundational things and If you’re just starting out in a business, your first strategy out of the gate is not SEO.

You won’t have enough data on terms that are converting on your site and who your actual customer is. So a lot of your initial things need to come from like paid search, paid social, influencers, getting out into the market and buying somebody a coffee like you do with conversion rate. Like get in front of people that might use your product or be interested and then figure out if they [00:02:00] actually are.

I could have made some pretty serious mistakes. If I out of the gate on some of my businesses, I had said, Oh, this is who we are and what we’re going to do. And built my SEO strategy around that and invested a bunch of money to make that happen and then realize that actually was not the right direction from an SEO standpoint.

Well, I am

Jon MacDonald: excited to hear. A lot about how to do this today, right? Because I know there’s just so many SS e o strategies out there, and they change all the time based on whatever Google animal update is. The last one, , what are these constants that people can look to? Right? I, I, I think it’s interesting because I hear all the time about folks who are like, I just blew up my business based on s e o alone, and I got all these great backlinks and now I’m a millionaire.

And it’s like, mm-hmm. , eh, you and I both know that’s not exactly how it worked. So, you know, I, I’m interested, what are the techniques that work today? How should I be thinking about this? What’s great

Ryan Garrow: about SEO and also frustrating is that constants are generally there, right? And we’ll touch on those. And [00:03:00] there’s always going to be some things that get changed in the rankings and Google’s constantly fighting against those growth hackers that are trying to say, Oh, I figured it, I’ve solved the riddle.

To outrank amazon on google and you should pay me thousands of dollars to get that secret. I mean Yeah, some people will get lucky but I don’t want to base a business or strategy on luck. I’ll take it when it happens But if you’re doing the right things foundationally, it allows for more opportunities to experience that luck too So for every channel you are driving traffic to your site There’s going to be foundational basics that just you’ve got to get those right Or it doesn’t matter what else you’re doing on that.

Uh, like if you’ve got a bad feed going into Google, it really doesn’t matter what your shopping or performance max strategies are. Like you’ve got a bad foundation to build marketing on top of same with SEO. And I think we have to stop complicating SEO. It’s, it’s actually not that difficult if you’re doing the right things.

If you’re going off and chasing strategies, it can’t get complicated. Like if [00:04:00] you’re going to read every SEO article and take every SEO class from everybody that says that they. Became an overnight millionaire on SEO. Yeah, they can get kind of complicated, but the punchline is when it comes to SEO, there’s not a shortcut to increasing rankings over time.

It’s going to take time, energy, and money. And based on where your business is in the growth cycle, sometimes you have more time than money and you’ll invest more of your time as the owner or the marketing team, and other times there’s more money and you’ll invest more money to have some experts help you.

But it’s going to take time to get it to where you want to go.


Jon MacDonald: and that definitely makes sense, right? And I think it, we’ve talked about this in hiring experts before and why that’s important, but knowing that Let’s just say I have one shot at this, I’m doing it myself. What is the most important part to be successful in SEO for the site I’m driving traffic to?

It’s going to

Ryan Garrow: be the actual site itself. So you can drive all of the backlinks or content to a site you want, but if the site itself is crappy, you’ve got problems.

Jon MacDonald: Define crappy, [00:05:00] right? Yeah. I see a lot of what I would define as crappy sites, but…

Ryan Garrow: And they can still rank well. So if you look at, you know…

I’m going to formula one next week. So racing’s on my mind. And so if you think of SEL was like a Le Mans endurance race in France, that where everybody drives for 24 hours, really cool race someday. I hope I can go to it. Small improvements over time can compound because it’s a really long race and you can even afford to make some mistakes in that.

But if you go to Le Mans and you’re driving a beat up 1980s Lincoln town car with the original engine and no modifications, it. It really doesn’t matter if you put race gas in there or if you have really phenomenal spark plugs. You still have a crappy car. 1982, it might’ve been great. So kind of like, you know, think about right now in e com Yahoo and Volusion are, are, they’re old, they’re beat up.

If you’re still on them, you’ve got problems. 10, 15 years ago, they were phenomenal. They were the platforms you wanted to be on. If you were in e com 15 years ago,

Jon MacDonald: [00:06:00] I actually have a friend who does nothing, but tries to acquire Yahoo stores so that he can move them onto a modern platform. And basically reduce the operational costs, right?

because you can get them for now

Ryan Garrow: cheap because their rankings have tanked. Their rankings have tanked

Jon MacDonald: and it’s all the great, it’s great content. They’re selling niche products that people want and that’s why they’re still around. But it’s almost always an older generation who has comm store for 20 years.

And they are ready to move on. They’re ready to sell the business, right? And it’s the reason they haven’t made a big change. So sidebar, but I do think it’s really interesting that people are still on Yahoo. I’m sure that nobody’s on there. Nobody’s going out and starting on Yahoo these days, but there are tons of great.

I’d want to meet you,

Ryan Garrow: ping me somehow, DM me. I don’t care how you I’d love to meet you and hear the logic behind that. That maybe there is one. I just haven’t seen it. And you know, 10 years from [00:07:00] now, we may be saying the same thing about Shopify. Yeah, we don’t, I don’t know. But right now Shopify is pretty.

Damn solid it works. And so it’s got to have the speed and this is where it does get a little Somewhat complicated I’ll say is is how google’s ranking certain things now that we’ve moved from desktop to mobile first ranking That was a big switch and how we would look at websites from a value perspective like if it doesn’t render well on a phone, which is a lot of the struggle from a yahoo and volusion standpoint is They weren’t built for mobile and they didn’t make a change in their architecture to allow the, I don’t know, 200 different phone screen sizes we have.

Like that is a very complicated endeavor when you’re stuck on an old architecture like they are. Building for mobile first allows us to have screen sizes that change, images that load differently, all the scripting and all that fun stuff that goes into it. Google Core Vitals is a great tool to test your site.

Google gives you a lot of the information that says, [00:08:00] how are we looking at your site from, from a speed standpoint, from a loading standpoint, what they’re trying to do is make sure that they are looking at it from a user standpoint and is this site user friendly and newer platforms are generally making it very easy for that to happen.


Jon MacDonald: always find it interesting when I’m talking to somebody about optimization and they say, well, I understand I need to do optimization, but I don’t want to mess up our SEO because it’s working so well for sending free traffic. And I always push back and say, you know, One of the top ranking factors for Google is usability because they’re tracking is somebody clicking on a link, going to your site, and then are they bouncing back to Google search?

And if they are, that meant that they did not address that consumers needs appropriately and your site did not. So that’s going to push you further down the rankings. So you [00:09:00] really need a site that keeps people. from going back to search, and that means answering their questions, uh, appropriately that, that led them there through those SEO efforts.

And a big part of that is optimization, right? But yeah, either way, optimization or spending on SEO, it sounds to me like you’re saying you need to have a good foundation. You need to have a site that functionally works, has technical issues eliminated, and then you can build on top of that to get people to drive to your site.

Is that, is that accurate?

Ryan Garrow: Exactly. I’ll jump ahead to one of my points around You do need other traffic sources. Like, Google does see that. Like you just said, like, Google knows if somebody clicks on a shopping link to your site for the product they click on and if a hundred percent of those people that clicked on that shopping link don’t take any action you might want to believe that Google doesn’t pay attention to that.

They do. Our team [00:10:00] has data. That sending quality traffic, your site does have a benefit on SEO, even if it’s not coming from there. So social paid search articles on LinkedIn. I mean, there’s a lot of ways you can get traffic to your site. Make sure you’re driving some quality ones because if you do pay for a bunch of crappy traffic on Google Yeah,

SEO and a lot of the data you’ll glean from that will inform your SEO In fact, there are some very large influential SEO Personalities that both you and I know that his company will charge you 50, 000 a month to do SEO and they just advise They work with very large brands. You can’t go to them as a company that is just starting and say I’d like to pay you 50 grand to do SEO.

They’ll be like, no, we’re not taking your money. You need to go spend money on paid search for three months so you have data on conversion rates so we can go look at that and [00:11:00] say, okay, when people search for this, clicked this and did this. Yes. That is a valuable keyword. We can help inform through our tools what your volume terms might be, but we’re not going to go help you invest a bunch of money in SEO if it’s not going to cover up on your site.

Jon MacDonald: So getting people to stick on your site obviously means you’re addressing the question or concern that came up in the search query, right? That means you need to have the right content, right? So would that be a next step, do you think? Yes,

Ryan Garrow: you’ve got a site that works really well. It’s speedy, it loads well, Google Core Vitals has told you we like it.

And by the way, that’s not just set it and forget it. You have to keep looking at that. Like I would say quarterly run that and make sure that some new plugin that you use to solve this problem that came up somewhere else didn’t break one of those core vitals. Now we see this quite a bit

Jon MacDonald: more for sure.

It is not a set it

Ryan Garrow: and forget it. No. So your site, even if it’s on a platform like Shopify or big commerce or something [00:12:00] that is at its core SEO friendly, you can make it un SEO friendly by putting a bunch of the wrong things on there. So just be aware of that. Keep looking at it and quality content, right?

Since Google’s been around, they have valued quality content. That’s kind of been there. What they’ve hung their hat on is we will help you find the information you’re looking for. Better than anybody else and it and at this point in time, you know antitrust lawsuits aside They are the company that is best at doing that and even being the CEO of Microsoft gone on with Congress last week I think right and said if we had more data, you know They only have I want to say 5 percent of the US search not even quite that maybe But they say that still is hundreds of millions of searches a day on, on the U S and it’s still not enough data to compete with how much data Google has to keep improving the results.

So quality content, they’ve never wavered on that point. And as you’re creating [00:13:00] content for your site, you can’t just create content to create content. Cause you’re like, ah, this is really valuable. I should do this. It has to be helpful to your readers and like have a goal, not just, Hey, we put a bunch of the right keywords.

In a 500 to 700 word blog post. And there was no point to it, but it had the right keywords that Google’s got bots that know that, and it has to be relevant to your industry. And so if like, if you’re selling socks, Jon, and you decide, you know, I really do like steak too. So I’m going to write this wonderful article about grilling steak.

It’s not relevant to the industry of selling socks. And so it’s, despite how great it is, and maybe you mentioned socks in there because you wear these great socks from your grilling steaks, it’s not going to be relevant to the industry. It’s not going to have the same amount of impact. What if there are stakes?

On my socks steak socks might be a different story, you know, I like grilling steaks and here’s how I grew up Well, I’m wearing my steak grilling socks that have pictures of steaks and but they’re still I mean keep it simple, right? But let’s be helpful and let’s have relevant [00:14:00] content and I think that’s gonna be you know, the foundation of your content But today you can’t talk content without at least addressing the elephant in the room the the AI or the chat GPT’s

Jon MacDonald: I was going to ask, a really interesting next step.

So many brands, I was at my MBA program not so long ago and one of the classmates was like, Hey, you know, we are writing all of our content. We’re putting out five new blog posts a day, all written by AI. And we have one person who does nothing but skim those, just to make sure that they make sense. But I found it really interesting because That play of bombarding Google with five Articles a day is unlikely to persist.

I would think it might work in the immediate future, but what’s going to happen down the road once Google’s like, yeah, I can tell between artificially intelligent written copy and human written. [00:15:00] That’s when it’s going to be a challenge. Yeah. And I

Ryan Garrow: think AI needs to be a tool in your quiver. Like I think you would be doing a disservice to your brand if you’re not looking at it, understanding it and leveraging.

We use it internally at LP and we’ve got people that are continuing to investigate. How can we leverage it? Like how work our goal. Because we are human powered at this point as an agency, our goal is how do we add AI into a human to make them more efficient and scale them without having to duplicate the human, you know, if we can make one human three times as efficient, we just triple the size of our company without having to go through the HR process of hiring a bunch of people, which is a bottleneck in our business because we are so large HR is a constant.

Trouble hiring. And so you want to be testing it and it does have value in creating content a hundred percent right now. I’m an investor in a business. That the CEO is a thought leader in the industry and he went out and started writing Articles he had a consistent [00:16:00] like hey I’m gonna use chat GPT to write these articles and rewrite them and rewrite and go through he had a great process for making sure they were correct and That they were unique and not plagiarized and that is not as simple as hey chat GPT go write this article copy paste done It’s

Jon MacDonald: pulling that

Ryan Garrow: content from somewhere It is.

And so you, you don’t want to get dinged from Google for having this exact paragraph copied from Bob’s site over there. It’s got to be unique and valuable and relevant, but it really did scale the organic traffic well in the process that he did it. He got it up off the ground and then we’ve been able to add, um, an SEO team to compliment that and continue building some of that content.

So, I think you should use it, and I think it should be there. You probably need to go beyond just a chat GPT in writing your articles. There’s, uh, you can use Grammarly. In fact, I’ve got a good friend of mine, CEO of a business, and he’s got his team using chat GPT to help come [00:17:00] up with some of the content, and it’s rewritten two or three times through that system.

They then throw it through Grammarly, which has a, not a fraud protection, but it goes out and it says, you’re not plagiarizing. It can go scrape and say, Hey, make sure this isn’t plagiarized because I don’t want to be responsible for that. And then it can also ensure that you’ve got the right keyboard density and proper grammar coming through that.

Okay. So use it. But again, the core needs to be content. And I do think that sites that are posting that velocity of content. Google’s going to be like, you’ve never done that before. Chat GPT comes in and now you’re doing five to 10 articles a day. I’m probably going to figure out how to say that’s not as valuable and say, you know, I know that a human can write.

You know, a thousand words, this much, and your site is this big. Therefore, you probably don’t have enough humans internally writing these articles that make sense as long as it’s there and you’re still providing valuable content. I don’t think Google is going to get mad at you, but we also are going to have, I mean, the amount of [00:18:00] content being created through AI is astronomical right now.

I mean, we’ve gone way beyond and most of it, I would argue is not actually trying to solve problems. It’s trying to drive SEO and that’s where Google really finds a way through that clutter to really provide value to people that are solving actual issues that people are looking for, not back and if we look back to those, you know, the segments in the end of backlinks, which is my next point, but like probably 2010 ish and the great, I’ll call it the great India backlink fiasco where you could go get link farms and get 5, 000 backlinks a day.

And Google’s like, okay, technically, yes, you, we need you to have backlinks. Cause that shows you’re valuable, but when you’re going out and getting them for the sake of getting them and not actually getting valuable traffic point in here, we’re going to stop that. And I think we’re going to come to that in AI.

I don’t know [00:19:00] how they’re going to solve it. There’s people smarter than me for that, but I would expect some pushback and having to be like, okay, I did write all of those with Jen, like back in the India backlinking days. We had a client that had to go back and disavow like 30, 000 backlinks. And that’s a very manual process that Google’s like.

We know these are bad, and if you don’t tell us that they’re bad manually, your site’s going to tank. And JCPenney lost their domain that way. Oh, man. Backlinking fiasco.

Jon MacDonald: Okay, so then, am I hearing that backlinks aren’t as valuable as they used to be?

Ryan Garrow: Not necessarily. So, there is still value for backlinks.

There’s a lot of content out there that I’ve come across in the last couple weeks, which is really what spurred this topic for podcast, for SEO. That, you know, backlinks are not as valuable anymore. All you need to do is content and Google doesn’t care. It’s still valuable, but it’s, I think more about quality in 2023, even in the 2022, [00:20:00] you know, I, Google’s always, at least since the.

The India ish fiasco, you know, I’m blaming it all on India. It wasn’t India, but it just, they were inexpensive humans to do it in 2010. They’ve emphasized high quality backlinks their AI. Now that’s Bart, by the way, they use Bart internally. I don’t know why they named their AI thing. Bart. It just sounds like it’s an

Jon MacDonald: acronym

Ryan Garrow: for something.

I can’t remember. It is a lot of smart people. You can come up with something cooler, but whatever Bart is constantly learning. And being trained by its engineers at Google. And it is better understanding the relation between the site that’s linking to you and your site. And so like the sock business, if you get a backlink from a valuable steak grilling site, whatever that might be, it likely won’t have the impact of an influential fashion blogger.

You know, bloggers domain authority isn’t as high as maybe the stake of grilling site, more relevant, it’s more relevant to the socks you’re selling. And Google is going to get [00:21:00] better and better at understanding that. And so having that great content on your site that people want to link to, I think is going to become even more valuable.

So some of those organic links, like, Hey, I saw this great article on this site. Here it is. If you’re looking for socks, you should go buy them there. That’s going to be really great. And I think you’re going to have to likely get the word out through other channels to let people discover it. So like use your LinkedIn, use your social channels.

You know, X, if it still provides value in another six months, putting it out there saying, Hey, I wrote this great piece of content. You’re going to want to read it, find it, link to it, whatever. Those chat GPT articles might not be as valuable at that type of stuff. So really thinking through the value in what you’re writing is going to be more and more important than those organic links.

Google’s going to figure it out if they already have, they might’ve already figured that out. I’m not totally positive around that, but you do need back links. They do need to be high quality sites [00:22:00] and being able to scale that isn’t as easy as it used to be because you can’t just go out and be like, here’s 50 sites all with a domain authority of 40 that I’m going to go write an article for and get a backlink.

That’s just, that’s more difficult.

Jon MacDonald: You’re

Ryan Garrow: listening to drive and convert the podcast focused on e commerce growth. Your hosts are Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization agency that works with e commerce brands to help convert more of their visitors into buyers. And Ryan Garrow of Logical Position, a digital marketing agency offering pay per click management and search engine optimization.

And website design services to brands of

Jon MacDonald: all sizes.

Ryan Garrow: If you find this podcast helpful, please help us out by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and sharing it with a friend or colleague. Thank you.

Jon MacDonald: The fact that it’s not easy. Right, and that it requires effort, you have to have the foundational things in play.

You can’t just farm it out [00:23:00] to cheap labor, right? What is that return on investment of SEO now? Is it higher than it used to be, or is it still the same, it’s just now more expensive? How would you describe that?

Ryan Garrow: I think, this is just my opinion now, that not enough SEO companies talk about ROI, I think because it’s for so many e com brands in particular, you are all about spend now, get now, you know, I can do it on paid search and I’m running at, you know, if I’m not making a profit on this this month on what I’m doing, I can’t do it.

And SEO does have, it does take time to do quality SEO and see the results. You know, we usually set the expectation that. You’re going to start seo today and we’re not going to see Real meaningful movement until we get to months four to six So you got to go six months with us before you can’t do seo with us from a campaign perspective where we’re writing the content Working to get you some of those high quality backlinks, it takes that long.

And so [00:24:00] when you talk about the ROI, that’s a difficult conversation for a lot of companies, but it does make sense. So if you think about it at a high level, let’s just say you’re doing 20, 000 in the analytics through your organic channel a month, right? Okay. You’ve built a business. You’ve got a quarter million dollars ish coming in through your organic channel.

He, maybe you have him focus on SEO. So it’s a lot of branded traffic and people that already know who you are. It grows when you pay more money for your. Google shopping with that halo effect. Well, if you started an SEO campaign, let’s just pull a number out like randomly You’re gonna spend four grand a month great and to do it for six months.

That means you’ve invested 24 grand again We’re making numbers up But let’s just say that by month six your SEO Organic traffic has gone from 20, 000 a month to 30, 000 a month. Like you’ve just grown 10, 000 a month Compounding on top of itself that now you’ve essentially, if you break down the ROI on a monthly basis, you’re spending 4, 000 for 10, 000.

Hopefully that makes sense for your brand. If you’ve got a, you know, it’s a two and a half X return, 50 percent margin. You’re doing well. If you keep compounding that, [00:25:00] it keeps growing and it’s like, you’re stacking on top of itself. And so you have to look at SEO long term, not just, Hey, I spent 4, 000 in month one.

And my SEO went from 20, 000 to 20, 000. That really sucked. Well, and it

Jon MacDonald: does take time as well for Google to pick everything up for things to be crawled for backlinks to happen I mean it is a Unfortunately, but it is a long term endeavor and it’s not something that can be done overnight or or should be thought of that way I agree with you on

Ryan Garrow: that.

Yeah, and that’s why most companies SEO is not the first channel they focus on which I get right that you had the 20, 000 in Organic revenue to be able to invest the four thousand It’s a cost of the business for the first four ish months before you really start seeing that exciting piece of oh my gosh all of a sudden my organic traffic or sales went from twenty thousand to twenty four three thousand in month four and then they Went to twenty six thousand in month five and then thirty thousand in month six You start to see it and it gets more exciting, but you’ve got to get to [00:26:00] that point So you have to just Believe it’s going to be a piece of your marketing mix and an expense that you need to plan for and It does take a business of a size to be able to bite that off Otherwise you’re doing seo with time instead of money And so you’ve got to be doing some of the studying yourself.

You’ve got to be thinking through your content strategy planning All right. I’m going to do an article. Like I’m launching a site in the next couple of weeks that I’ve had to go to my, because my wife is my webmaster, cause she’s way better at making things look good, but part of that for me is saying, all right, I’m going to put a content plan together that I’m going to write an article three a week.

To make sure that this site is populated with content that we can then begin posting on LinkedIn and trying to get traffic here, here, here. It’s an accountability thing for me. Like, okay, I committed to my wife. I’m going to do this now. I got to go to bed with her. And if I don’t do it, there’s a problem because she committed to making the site look good.

So it’s a time money thing, but it’s an investment worth making. If you believe in the business to get it up and running. And make sure you’re just doing the basics [00:27:00] and it will start taking care of itself and you’ll be able to pivot as you see the data through the process.

Jon MacDonald: That’s great. All in all, I’m hearing that SEO is important now, and there are ways to do it, but it’s a longer game.

There is a return on investment there. You need to have your foundations in play before you really invest to get that return. All in all, anything else I missed on that?

Ryan Garrow: No, keep it simple. You know, don’t try the gimmicks. Just be careful with AI, I think it is. Yeah. As long as you’re using it to provide regular good content on a site that has the foundational core that Google likes, you’re gonna be okay.

But I would never throw all my eggs in one channel basket on Google. Like I want to have something for every channel there and have a plan so that I can execute across all of them, uh, effectively and grow the brand.

Jon MacDonald: Sounds great. Well, thank you for the education on SEO. And it sounds like I have some work cut

Ryan Garrow: out for me.

You [00:28:00] produce enough content. I’m confident in your ability to keep driving SEO to your site. You’re going to be, yeah, there,

Jon MacDonald: I will say that that has been our play for 15 years now is just, let’s just produce as much great content as we can. And. That has worked. And now we’re at that stage where it has compounded, right?

We have an encyclopedia of optimization content. It really does help us get found. So

Ryan Garrow: it’s great. So I think if you study the good. com, you will see the value of a long term SEO content strategy in place. Have you even done a backlinking strategy? Like paid somebody to do backlinks?

Jon MacDonald: No, we’ve never paid to do backlinks.

We do HARO, Help a Reporter Out, which is a great site. You can go in and sign up for some interests. And then one of the things it does is it kicks you back to reporters who need help in specific areas. So it says, Hey, you know, I’m looking for somebody who has experience with Shopify. And then we’re able to say, Hey, we have experience [00:29:00] and answer their question.

If they like your answer and they find it helpful and relevant, they typically will include a backlink. Now you need to be strategic about that. You need to say, you know, offer helpful content and then say an in context relevant backlink to an article you have about it, and that will help get the backlink in, but we’ve never paid to do it.

It just never seemed like. I wanted to risk all this effort we’ve put in and paying to do that. But I will say we’re down to the point where we just changed web hosts to get an extra two seconds off of our load time. And that has helped. Uh, we’ve seen, you know, it’s been three months now and our traffic has consistently gone up week over week since we changed hosts.

So it does

Ryan Garrow: help. Yeah, that foundation again, like just making sure that Google likes what they see from a technology perspective. Exactly.

Jon MacDonald: And again, you have to continually be looking out for it, optimizing it and changing it, right? And that’s why we were like, well, we’ve tweaked everything we can in our current hosts [00:30:00] and Google core vitals is still giving us a B.

How do we get to an A? And what does that score need to be? We searched around and was able to make a change and

Ryan Garrow: it worked really well. So I probably should have just interviewed you for like, Hey, let’s get the foundational basics of SEO from Jon. So he’s done such a great job over 15 years.

Jon MacDonald: Well, we can certainly talk about that next time, but yeah, it’s definitely not the hacks and stuff you read about that.

I have not participated in that. I’d always intrigues me, but I have never participated

Ryan Garrow: in it. Yeah. I think one of my points should have been just patience, right? Yes. Four to six months, but even longer than that, like. You knew you were committing to CRO 15 years ago, and that was what you were going to do.

15 years from now, we’re still going to be doing CRO. I can’t tell you

Jon MacDonald: the number of business owners that come to me and say, how do you have such a good inbound program? Can you help me set this up? And I always tell them, are you doing this because you need new business right away, or what’s your game plan?

Like, yeah. I have to show results this quarter. I’m like, I’m sorry, not going [00:31:00] to happen. I’m not your person because it’s not, it’s a multi year process. If you don’t have a good foundation, then you’re just starting way too late. I can help you expand upon that and how to generate the content, do those things, but never going to be able to just drive.

Revenue overnight through content marketing just doesn’t happen.

Ryan Garrow: No, it’s a frustrating endeavor if you’re looking at it that way

Jon MacDonald: awesome. Well, thank you ryan. I appreciate the insights today and Look forward to the next episode Thank you.

Thanks for listening to drive and convert with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow. To keep up to date with new episodes you can subscribe at

About the Author

Angel Earnshaw

Angel Earnshaw is the Marketing Coordinator at The Good. She has experience in improving brand awareness through digital marketing and social media management.