What Every Leader Needs to Know about SEO, with Stephen Woessner.

Episode 248

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Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.


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Good Morning Onward Nation…I’m Stephen Woessner. And thank you for joining me for this week’s solocast.

I enjoy every solocast — and I especially enjoyed the solocasts the last several weeks. They have been so special because of the opportunity to open up and share a deeply personal story about one of my most influential mentors, my grandfather…and the impact he had on my life…and how one of those lessons was to never ever quit.

No matter what the odds — no matter the circumstances — no matter who believes in you, or doesn’t — no matter what — you keep pushing forward to pursue your version of total happiness.

My grandfather Peter Maronitis did that…when he came to this country, he couldn’t speak the language, he had no money, no social circle, no rich friends, he couldn’t go on to Kickstarter and raise funds for the restaurant he dreamed that he would open.


But what did he do? He got to work…and saved his money…learned English, perfected his talents and skills in the kitchen, and six years after coming to the United States he had saved enough money to launch his dream. Six years, Onward Nation. Six.

A remarkable man — a humble man — who quietly did remarkable things.

How? Because he never ever quit.

And then last week, to be able to continue the momentum by sharing the story of Sylvester Stallone — how he was broker than broke — so broke that he didn’t have anything to eat — he couldn’t heat his New York City apartment so he had to go to the public library to find a warm seat — and so broke that he was forced to sell his dog, his best friend in the whole world, for $25 so he could buy some food.

That’s broke, Onward Nation.

And yet, despite it all — despite being rejected over 1,500 times — and despite being told that he looked funny, talked funny, and that he would never amount to anything — despite all of it…he didn’t quit.

He kept pushing forward — he met the conflict head on — transformed as a result of the conflict — and then became one of Hollywood’s most successful actors.

Because he refused to quit. Love that story.

So for today’s solocast lesson — I am going to continue that momentum — in what — on the surface, may seem like a strange way to do so.

Because today…I am going to share with you what is, in my opinion, one of the biggest, most expensive money draining mistakes that business owners make. And the mistake is made because they quit too soon. They don’t push for answers…they don’t do the depth of research they should…they assume someone on their team took care of it already…or they use the excuse of, “Ugh, Stephen, I don’t need to know how to do that…I have people on my team who can do that.”

In other words…they quit.

So what is the money draining mistake we are going to confront this morning? It’s search engine optimization, Onward Nation.

And yes, it is true — you don’t need to understand all of the nuances and complexities of the “how you do it” — but — you definitely need to understand the “why” behind it. Because, Onward Nation, the epicenter of the why is strategy, it’s return on investment, and it gives you a tool for how you will hold your team accountable to ensure the result outcomes you expect are met.

I am often asked by business owners before a speaking engagement or a workshop that I am teaching… “But, Stephen, I’m the owner of the business…why do I need to learn this stuff.” To answer that…I will share the words of wisdom that were shared with me by my friend, mentor, and guest of Episode 40 of Onward Nation, Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist for Google, he said to me, “Stephen, it’s because if you understand it — then you will be rich. But if you don’t understand it — then you will be poor. That should be incentive enough.”

I think Avinash is right. I think we as business owners need to understand the strategy behind it — to understand the why — and then to delegate the how to the smart and super-capable people on our teams so we can focus on our vital functions and not optimizing meta descriptions or worrying about Google’s algorithm.

So, Onward Nation…rest assured…I am not going to teach all of the levers you need to pull, or the buttons you need to push, in order to get your website’s pages to rank well inside Google. Instead….we are going to focus on the strategic — the why and the result outcomes — behind that mysterious green curtain that is SEO and Google. Because the why and the result outcomes drive the process — this is where the accountability rests — and where the return on investment is achieved.

Forbes asked me the question, “What does every business leader need to know about SEO” and my answer was not about tech…but instead…I urged readers to focus on conversions.

In my opinion, what most business leaders don’t realize is that you can not only measure SEO’s return on investment, but you can — and should — predict it before you implement any optimization strategies. In the end, rankings don’t matter. Traffic doesn’t matter.

Only conversions matter, because they can be measured in dollars and cents.

You should absolutely, unequivocally insist that either your in-house team or your vendors provide ROI predictions based on conversions, and they should be held accountable for those results. That is what I shared with Forbes and that is my message to you, too, this morning.

And the best way to be able to predict ROI is by selecting what I call Predictive Keywords. I am going to teach you the exact steps my team and I use at Predictive ROI to select the very best — high performing keywords for clients. The keywords that drive ROI for our campaigns.

To make today’s lesson even more impactful — we created a free Quick Start Guide that will help you and your team predict your website traffic, leads, and sales using several simple formulas — all of which are included in the guide — step-by-step.

SEO Best Practices for Business Owners (1)

So, let’s get started with the selection of Predictive Keywords.

The keywords you select must meet two criteria to maximize your return on investment.

First…the keywords must have a track record of already being used every single day. So what does this mean? It means that when you use tools like the Keyword Selector Tool from SEOBook.com — and you enter a keyword you want to test — that the tool returns a result showing you the number of times each month that a particular keyword is searched for within Google or Bing. Awesome.

But if the number is zero — then you know you just tested a keyword that may sound good to you and your team but your customers and prospects don’t think of it when they think to search for your product or service. And rest assured, Onward Nation, there is often a disconnect between how your customers and prospects think of you versus your own internal think.

So let’s just loop back to the never ever quitting piece — you and your team will undoubtedly brainstorm a list of what you think will be winner keywords — and then when you test them — you will get nothing but zeros. Honest…it’s not the fault of the tool…it is likely the result of you and your team not thinking like your customer.

If you want a refresher on how to do this…go back to Episode 208, because during that solocast, I mapped out a specific recipe for how you can get a crystal clear view of who your customer avatar is — and that view — will serve you well when doing your keyword research.

Second, the keywords must not be too competitive. It must be realistic for you to rank well if you decide to pursue them.

So, how do decide if a keyword is too competitive — or — wide open for the taking. Very simple.

Open up a web browser like Chrome, Safari, whatever happens to be your preference…and in the search window…type the keyword you want to investigate. But, before you click the search button…you need to surround the keyword in quotes…so place one set of quotation marks at the beginning of the keyword and the second set of quotes at the end of the keyword.

Now click “Search”.

And the reason you do that — which is called an Exact Match Search — is because then Google will give you a list of all the pages they have in their database that it views are direct or exact competitors for the keyword you just search.

So let’s say the keyword you did an exact match search for was, “Disney World Hotels”. Then in the upper left corner of Google’s search results, you will see a small number that reads something close to 343,000 results. That means that Google has 343,000 content pages in its database that directly relate to my keyword, Disney World Hotels, which makes sense since it is the happiest place on Earth! Yay, Disney!

Now, 343,000 pages is a lot of pages. But, from a keyword competitiveness perspective — it actually isn’t. As long as that number — the 343,000 number — the number of pages in Google’s database is less than 1 million, then you are in good shape. The keyword is not very competitive.

Hey — someone has to be ranked number 1 — why not you, right?

It is not until the time you find keywords that meet both of these criteria that you will begin investing time toward optimizing your site content. Having a disciplined, focused approach toward keyword selection will generate significant increases in website traffic.

So here are some sub-steps within the Keyword Selection Process — again — you can go to our Predictive ROI Facebook page and download our Quick Start Guide for free:

  • Create your initial keyword list: Develop a list of about ten keywords for each content page in your website that you plan to optimize.
  • Copy and paste your initial list of keywords to the free Small Business Owner Keyword Tracker Worksheet — also part of the Quick Start Guide
  • Collect data: use a free keyword suggestion tool and then do exact match searches in Google to validate the competitiveness of each keyword on your list.

From there…you will have a list of proven keywords that are ready to be run through our Predictive Keyword formula. The formula will help you actually predict increases in site traffic, leads, and sales based on the keywords on your list.

Now, this piece does get a bit technical — but — it is fully mapped out in the free Quick Start Guide I mentioned earlier. So, please download it here.

The last page of the guide even includes a specific checklist for selecting Predictive Keywords. I think you and your team will find it really helpful. And please…don’t shortchange the process…don’t quit if you get zero results the first several times…keep digging for the Predictive Keywords…keep pushing…remember, you might just be Three Feet from Gold.

So with that said, Onward Nation…

I want to thank you for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — your time is sacred and I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.

However our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.

And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is [email protected] — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.

So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.

We will be back tomorrow with an incredible interview with Steve Jermanok and you will learn about his philosophy for enjoying the ride and how to turn your passion into a very profitable business.

Until tomorrow, onward with gusto!

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