Digital Marketing Happy Hour podcast

The Critical SEO Pillars Every Business Needs with Damon Burton

Have you ever wondered what it was like to launch a business during the Great Recession?  Have you ever had to navigate the challenges of working with clients? How are your experiences in SEO from an agency perspective similar or different than your peers in the industry?

In this episode, Chris and Ryan talk with Damon Burton, a leading authority in search engine optimization (SEO), and he is going to offer his critical SEO pillars that every business needs to follow in order to succeed.

Damon Burton,
Damon Burton

Today’s guest is Damon Burton. He’s the founder of SEO National, a regular contributor on Forbes and the author of “Outrank: Your Guide to Making More Online by Showing Up Higher on Search Engines and Outranking Your Competition.”

Here are some of the podcast episode highlights:

Chris Casale: [00:20:25] Has anything surprised you with the shift with COVID-19 and coronavirus that you mentioned? You know, obviously clients are searching for exposure. I think that’s probably true at any point in time. But is there anything you’re seeing slightly different now compared to 3- months or 6- months ago? 

Damon Burton: [00:20:40] Not so much. I think I’m a little biased in simply because the types of clients we deal with, like I was touching on just a moment ago, most of the time that somebody engages us, they we’ve already established some sort of trusting relationship through an external piece of content or referral or they’ve been following something we post online. 

What are some of the SEO tools you use to collect data and measure?

Chris Casale: [00:09:52] So generally, we don’t like to spend a lot of time on the podcast talking about tools because we feel like the SEO industry in particular is so saturated with them. But at the same time, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of data and measuring. So you talked about, you know, starting with Webalizer. What are the tools that you’re primarily using? Is it mostly free stuff like Google Analytics or are there other things that you work in there to help track and measure that performance over time? [

Damon Burton: [00:10:16] On just the performance, yeah, it’s pretty standard stuff. It’s it’s a combination of analytics and then a ring tracking software. We use a lot of other software. We use way more tools while we’re, you know, quote unquote in the battlefield. So when we’re doing these things, there’s a lot of other tools. We use this strictly for measuring progress. It boils down to rankings and sales and traffic and analytics. 

Chris Casale: [00:10:40] So are there specific tools that you use for that? I know I mentioned analytics, but, you know, some of the ones that Ryan always talks about, his Moz and SEMRush I’m just trying to get an idea of how you’re looking at those page rankings. 

Damon Burton: [00:10:51] Specific rankings we use a tool called Rank Tracker by Website Auditor, or excuse me, by link assistant. So the authors called LinkAssistant, but they have a it’s called SEO PowerSuite. So they have a suite of tools and within that we’ll use Rank Tracker. So we actually use two reports for rank tracking. Rank Tracker is the one that we’ll use for On-Demand reports if we need just a quick peek into something. But then the reoccurring rankings that we look at are we use a tool called AWR. And so AWR is very similar to something like SEMRush, where it just automates its cloud based and we’ll just pull the data on a scheduled recurring basis. 

SEO and UX (user experience)

What are some core SEO pillars?

  1. Good site structure
    • Quick page load speed
    • Good user experience (UX)
  1. Content
    • Unique content
    • Relevant content
  1. External Credibility
    • Backlinks

Damon Burton: [00:21:06] “I think in SEO, in general, the one thing that’s kind of always interesting to me is people are getting caught up with the new latest shiny thing. And for me, I’ve always stuck to you can almost look at SEO while having core pillars. 

So an example might be good site structure. Quick page low, good user experience. Another Pillar’s good content, unique content, continue content. And then another pillar is external credibility and back links. And so every time there’s this new shiny thing that comes along, it seems like a huge chunk of the SEO market just goes all in on that and then just abuse it until it’s devalued. 

And so instead, what we’ve done, which is worked out nice for us because we’ve never had a client have a penalty or, you know, duplicate content or low quality backlinks or any of these major algorithms that have come along over the years because instead of saying, hey, here’s that new shiny thing, what we do is we say, okay, how do we how do we kind of back that in to an existing core pillar? And then because we already have those existing. 

Quality control measures establish for those existing core pillars, we already have a processes for them, and we can kind of back that new shiny thing into a proven process or a safe process instead of just going, oh, there’s this fancy thing and let’s just beat it until it’s no longer valued. So that’s always been surprising to me, is that there aren’t more people willing to play the slow and steady game, especially knowing that SEO by nature is a slow and steady game to begin with.”

PPC is the sprint, SEO is the marathon

Ryan Smith: [00:22:38] PPC is the sprint, SEO is the marathon, and you have to manage expectations with that. You know, we talked a little bit about the COVID-19 and the pandemic. And it’s really interesting, those that only invested in PPC, they were eliminated from the search engine results rankings. 

As soon as those that are in brick and mortar – retail, mom and pops, that no longer could advertise, but they didn’t invest in SEO, they just basically disappeared. Those that had the balance of SEO and PPC, when they either pulled back their PPC budget or eliminated it completely, because of the investment they’ve had over time with SEO, they were still, you know, had visibility in the search engine results page. 

And I think one of the lessons, (as I ) just kind of starting to look back a little bit since this pandemic started in March 2020, is the fact where it hit the businesses anyway, is the fact that those that invested and had a balance, a good marketing mix, stayed relevant and in maybe people weren’t ready to buy at the time for those industries that were hit, but they weren’t out of sight, out of mind for those who only invest in, you know, in that PPC. And I think it’s just great where you have to manage expectations. 

You have to know as SEO is going to take a while, it could take several months. You know, don’t even look at your rankings for the first six months if you’re just starting off because you’re gonna be disappointed. But that nice balance, I think those are the ones are going to have a better time or better chance when people start spending money again, that they’re probably going to get that revenue or more of it than those that had no visibility.”

Tools mentioned:

If you want to connect with Damon Burton, you can find him:

Catch another episode with Damon Burton as he discusses The Importance of Social Proof and Why It’s Vital For Your Business.

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