103. Second Take Brian Dean on Becoming a Linkable Source

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Happy Holidays Everyone!

As it is the last week of 2021, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite interviews from this year, and that was with Brian Dean.

When Brian was searching for SEO advice back in 2012, he found a lot of generic to-do lists, with no real direction about how to execute. Deciding that a change was needed, he created a platform to provide others with the information he wished had been available to him. Nine years later, Backlinko is providing next level SEO training and link building strategies to some of the biggest companies in the world.On top of that, Brians latest venture, Exploding Topics, allows marketers to add yet another string to their bow by providing insights into upcoming trending topics.

In this episode, Brian and I cover a ton of ground, discussing everything from the role of SEO in an ever changing digital market, down to the minutiae of keeping your articles updated.

Whats In This Episode?

  • Who is Brian Dean?
  • Is the importance of long form content changing?
  • To what extent can podcast show notes and transcripts improve your blog ranking?
  • Why is data particularly effective for generating links?
  • How important is SEO compared to other digital marketing channels?
  • Why should attorneys incorporate trending topics into their legal blogs?

Transcript

Brian Dean

What I’ve seen a lot of people have success with, is creating data around these topics. And having that be the link magnet. And from there you boost your domain authority and your service pages will rank.

Chris Dreyer

Backlinks in the legal industry isn’t easy, but by providing data, you make yourself a valuable source for other content creators..

Brian Dean

I think in the case of the attorneys, in that whole space, I don’t see this being done, and it’s a huge untapped opportunity in the space. It’s just a matter of collecting it and organizing it in an attractive way.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to personal injury mastermind, the show where elite personal injury attorneys and leading edge marketers give you exclusive access to growth strategies for your firm. If you ask any SEO expert who the GOAT of SEO is, most of them, including myself would say, Mr. Brian Dean. His SEO training company Backlinko is home to one of the most popular marketing blogs in existence, boasting millions of readers and trusted by companies such as Disney, Amazon, and Forbes. And if that wasn’t enough, a few years ago, Brian also founded exploding topics which helps companies strategize about their marketing, products and investments by predicting upcoming trends. Brian dropped by to share his expertise on a wide range of SEO strategies, from building your backlink profile to incorporating trending topics, as well as how these tactics can be best employed by the legal industry. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. An important first step for any lawyer is to really understand the people around them, so let’s get to know our guest. Here’s Brian Dean, founder Backlinko and exploding topics.

Brian Dean

I started it really to scratch my own itch because I had, at that point, been creating my own sites for years. Had ups had downs really focused on SEO with every site that I launched. And I was learning what I was doing slowly, but learning through a lot of mistakes, a lot of sites got panelize. A lot of sites got wiped out and then around 2012, I put the pieces together and I built a site that went from zero to 10k a month, in 90 days and I was using white hat SEO for the first time. I was like, whoa, this white hat SEO. Maybe that was something to this whole thing. I should try it and really doubled down on it. So I started researching for the first time. What has SEO? I get away from all the spammy stuff. And I’m like, there’s nothing here. There’s a whole wilderness of what has SEO information that’s just missing. I couldn’t find anything. So I realized there were probably other people like me who wanted to transition to this more legitimate way of doing SEO and we’re coming up empty and we’re finding nothing helpful, just vague information, like create great content and build relationships with other people. And I want to know how to do that stuff. And I was actually doing that stuff a little bit. So I created Backlinko as the blog that I wanted to read and that I want it to learn from.

Chris Dreyer

That’s fantastic, and looking back at myself, because I started around 2006, I think around 2011, 2012, that first penguin algorithm hit. Right. Really nuked everyone from oblivion doing the build my rank links and the e-zine articles and all that stuff. So your blog was like the shining light in that space.

Brian Dean

The timing was really well. I was lucky that it just happens a launch right after, soon after that, the update and it was April, 2012. And that’s when, after that was what got me into white CEO, actually that penguin update happened. And I was like, I need to just press reset. Like I’m sick of logging into Google analytics and seeing this, and then I could go all the way up and then crash like a rollercoaster. I want to see consistent growth and penguin was meant, I think, to send a message like that, and it worked for me. So I transitioned to white hat SEO, had that success with my own site and then built Backlinko all within six months. And I, as soon as I started posting stuff at Backlinko, it resonated with people like you’re saying, because there was this, okay, this build my rank doesn’t work anymore. What’s next? And I was trying to figure that out myself and I documented that journey along the way.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And I remember in my research that you had some experiences, you tried initially to do the outsource, have someone else try to do it. What were some of the things that you saw them doing incorrectly, you know, maybe taking shortcuts and things that, that you learn Hey, I need to go basically experiment through this myself because these SEO agencies aren’t doing it probably.

Brian Dean

It was exactly that. It was that I didn’t know what they were doing. And I think I was at a point where I could finally understand whether they’re doing a good job or not. And I recommend that to anyone who hires an agency, educate yourself just a little bit. So then when they send you that report, you can say, this is bad. This is good. Otherwise you’re just at someone else’s mercy. And when something that’s so important, like SEO, you don’t want to be in that position. And it’s the same with me with, I’ve been in a position recently with Facebook ads. I was hiring Facebook agencies. There were delivering stuff. I have no idea if they’re doing a good job or not cause I was like I’m too busy to learn this. And when I finally learned it myself, I realized this isn’t really rocket science. It’s a lot of hard work. That’s why people hire agencies, they have expertise, but they can also execute on the work. And it’s probably something you don’t want to do, but at least you can evaluate it. So for me, it was shortcuts. It was a lot of things, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with me. It was my business. I was hiring people that were either not delivering or they weren’t delivering enough, or if they were, I wouldn’t even know, make heads or tails of it. So I put the onus on me because I didn’t get educated about SEO. And then once I did, I could evaluate whether someone was helping so easily, even if I wasn’t doing the work.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. It’s a great piece of advice. I think for a lot of the law firm owners listening, you know, they may have that marketing manager, you know, they need someone to hold the agencies and individuals they work with accountable so that they can really deliver the results they’re looking for. And Brian let’s jump into some more tactical type SEO and just get right into it. And we’ll start with kind of content. Yeah, that you’ve had some studies about long form content about how they perform better. I know you, you have a lot of the ultimate guide. It’s just really ranked exceptionally well in the search results. You know, do you still feel that this is the best form of content to rank in the search engines or is Google passage rankings, another nod to long form? What’s your thoughts on this type of content?

Brian Dean

Google is more into search intent. I think passage ranking that sort of a different animal, but you’re right. That is a not to long form content, kind of saying Google, for those of you that don’t know it passage ranking is basically a Google taking one page and splitting it up into several different sections and indexing them like they’re their own pages. So if you have a really long form piece of content, it might say, okay, this is really five sections that cover different things. We’re going to index them like they were their own pages. And that is a nod to long form content. It’s basically saying look of long form content is just too much. We want to really zero user zero into that section that they need. So, yeah, I think there’s a place for it. I think it generally ranks better, but it’s not like you have to create some word limit and hit that word count, especially when it comes to the specific keyword. Now I hate saying it depends because that’s just like a cop out that every SEO person says, don’t ask them the question, but in this case, I think it really does depend on. Whether or not that person, that long-term content is what a searcher wants. If it’s what a search is looking for, go crazy four thousand five thousand six thousand words go nuts. But if they just want to know what is X, then give it to them with 400 words, 300 words. It doesn’t matter. You see that stuff ranking all the time for these shorter keywords, but then you see the longer stuff. Instead of thinking, I just look at what’s already ranking and say, Google has basically figured this out, Google and users over the years, I figured. They determined that a result should be around this many words, this is what they want. So I just go with the flow as opposed to just saying, oh, and it’s great. It’s super long for a piece of content because that’s what you’re supposed to.

Chris Dreyer

I completely agree. And Brian, so many of the audiences lawyers, so they’re very familiar with it depends. You know, one of the things I saw too is in your long form content, a lot of individuals are creating these table of contents with the jump navigation and exactly, we’re what you’re saying. Those upended jump navs will have like additional keywords in and them to build relevancy and, you know, back in the day, Google would just take you to the top of the page if they didn’t have the algorithm dialed in to jump to a specific section on the page. And I think it’s it’s interesting how they’re trying to adapt and shift to the consumer behavior and their intent.

Brian Dean

Yeah, for sure. I think they’re also adapted to devices. Like it’s just when you’re on mobile of course, some people just will read a long form piece of content on mobile and it’s actually somewhat comfortable to read on, but a lot of times you’re on the go, you’re looking for something quickly, you just need to get right to it. And they showed that with the featured snippet feature, where if you click on the link and the peaches snippet, it takes you to that section of the page, knowing that people want to skip to that specific section. So, yeah, I think in general, I still lean towards long form because like you’re saying, Chris, with passage ranking with these other features, Google will just get better at taking you to that section. So you don’t have to worry that much about it in terms of being like, I need to be short and sweet. Yes. It should be short and sweet, but Google is getting better at saying this section is for this user. Let’s just put it in front of that. And I think they’re going to get much better at that in the next couple of years.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And you know, it wouldn’t make sense for someone to write a 4,000 word article on a definition. The other thing. There’s been this boom, particularly around COVID, podcasts. There’s so many more podcasts and individuals like myself we’re doing podcasts, we’re creating content and we will do a transcription and put it on the blog and part of the reason, and I don’t want to get your opinion on some of this is the reason why I do it. It’s because it gives the guest somewhere to link back to their their in. And for example, like we had Seth Godin on and then Seth from his blog, which as you know, just tremendously powerful link back to our site. But, you know, at what point does the content start to hurt you? Because you did an article that I thought was very interesting about evergreen content and after that first, you know, week or two, it’s just not going to generate links or shares these podcasts interviews, you know, do these pages end up being dead? Should we 3 0 1, these pages, should we. Do we even make transcriptions for podcasts? What’s your just general thought about this thinner transcription type content?

Brian Dean

I’m not a fan. From my, for this interview should definitely have a really nice page with the link back to my site, but for every other guest I think you should keep into mind, but for me, it’s that the pages, like you said, they don’t. No one links to them. No one shares them and they don’t rank. So they don’t really do a lot for you. But that said, if it’s getting links from Seth Godin, in that case, it is getting so it’s definitely worth it. So it depends if you’re going to do a thousand episodes, I think that does become a problem at some point. Because the issue with the transcriptions is that they don’t rank because they’re just not really user-friendly, you know, they’re good to listen to you, but what’s a read, it’s like reading a play. It’s like Chris said, that’s Brian says it’s really hard to keep track and I’ve seen people try to transform the interview into an article. And I think that can work to a certain extent, but at some point you just go to up writing the article from scratch, making an article, just optimizing on that. Also the title, a lot of times isn’t really SEO optimized. Cause it’s you know, such and such whatever. You’re going to name this like SEO tips for attorneys with Brian Dean. Not really SEO optimized. No, one’s searching for that. So yeah, I would say overall, I’m not a fan. I think it’s good to have some page, like you said, with site links and w and resources and whatnot, but I don’t know if the transcription really does anything.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. You know, what I found too is I tried to optimize around a keyword around the overall theme of the conversation, but I found that was very difficult because of the nature of the content itself from those transcriptions so we started optimizing around the guests name, but then even the intent there for individual wanting to search for someone like yourself, they want like a more history about you versus maybe just one single interview.

Brian Dean

Yeah. But if you could write for the name, then it could be worth it. But like you said, a search intent, it’s just search intent for podcasts in search. It just there’s. No, it’s just a mismatch overall people don’t search for podcasts on Google. They index them, but no one listens to them. On browsers for the most part, people download them. The transcriptions, they’re just not, I’m not like saying don’t do a podcast. I think they’re a great format, but just it hasn’t really worked for search. You know what I mean? It just, like you said, there’s the intent. It doesn’t make sense. Like I want, if I’m on search, I just want answer. If I’m on my podcast, I want a long form interview. I want to listen to someone have a conversation. So it’s just a different format. So I would say, yeah, maybe do the show notes and throw it out there. And, but the transcription, I don’t, I haven’t seen that really work. I have a whole, I have an article on my site about how to get the most out of your podcast, show notes and transcriptions, and it goes into some detailed, but it’s, I even in that article, I’m pretty honest. This is going to help a little bit, but these things probably don’t rank.

Chris Dreyer

There’s kind of like a similar parallel here on this next question, but I’m kinda kind of shift over to like on-site SEO and UX a little bit. And your blog, you know, in some ways is anti to what SEO experts would recommend. And let me kinda jump in here. It’s you know, you don’t have breadcrumbs, you don’t have these Bruce Clay type sidebars that we’re just all FEMA around this, you know, a certain location or category. You know, most of the navigation is internal linking, you know, why do you take this approach to internal linking and navigation? Is it more about controlling Google’s narrative or is it, you know, because SEO is search more like a library where you’re accessing a phrase versus a show. You know, I just kind of wanted to hear some thoughts on, in general about why you take the approach of more, just contextual versus like the traditional menu or sidebars or categories, things like.

Brian Dean

There’s two reasons. The first is just conversions. You know, the more links you have on your site, the more stuff you have going on your conversions go down. Like the best landing pages are just a page. So if you’re an attorney and you want to get more leads, the first thing you should do is look at your landing pages.
Just strip out a bunch of crap and have a button that says contact us or contact us form and you’ll see your conversions double doing anything else. So that’s the main reason actually. I’ve done plenty of tests and the more widgets and sidebars and stuff we add, the fewer conversions there are. People don’t spend any longer on the site either because they don’t click on that stuff. And I think that, yeah, there’s a place for the sort of like categorizing your content and whatnot. But I think it just, Google is getting smarter and they need their hand held a little bit less. Like not to say there isn’t a place for that now. Like I have hubs on my side that are exactly what we’re describing here, but those are independent because that’s really just for rankings. But I think in general, I don’t think you need that to rank, although if you can swing it great, but it’s mostly for conversions, but also just before I even prayed the hubs, I’ll add tons of competitive keywords, a pages ranking for competitive keywords without any of this stuff. And it kind of, I think, yeah, it probably helps a little bit, but you can do fine without it. So that’s why I never really went into it. But now that I have these hubs, they ranked super well. And I think part of it is they have this interlinking thing. I just haven’t figured out a way to get married to have that working and also have the site convert really well, which is my number one priority.

Chris Dreyer

Link-building is one of the most influential factors in getting a website to rank well, but it’s also notoriously tricky in the legal space. I asked Brian how attorneys can encourage others to link back to their websites.

Brian Dean

I mean, I have, I’ve experienced, I used to run an agency myself and I had tons of attorney clients and you’re right. It’s tough because no one wants to link to a DUI lawyer website. The content that is usually around those topics are usually uninteresting like what to do if you get pulled over drunk, drinking and driving. Like they’re just not content that people generally link to. So what I’ve seen, a lot of people have success with is creating data around these topics and having that be the link magnet. And from there you boost your domain authority and your service pages will rank. Because like you said, Chris, it would be amazing if you could get people to link to them. But they’re not the same way with an e-commerce site. If you have a product page,to sell this toaster. No, one’s going to link to that page ever. So just forget it and instead, build your domain authority create pages that people will happily link to the Watson link to, and that’ll boost all the pages on your site. So I think in the case of the attorneys, it’s in that whole space, I don’t see it as being done. And it’s a huge untapped opportunity in this space because you guys, they have tons of data. They have tons of smart people working in all these firms. And they just, what they usually do is just hire some random freelance writer to write 10 things, to know about hiring a DUI lawyer. It’s not going to do anything. You got to create something that people will link to. And there’s tons of interesting data around your actual niche, but also just in general. So if you’re a patent attorney, how about writing – I would love to know this – how many patents are getting filed now versus 10 years ago and tracking over time, that’s the type of thing people will link to happily. So yeah, I’d focus really on data. So instead of being a resource, be a source for other blogs, journalists. So they link to you when they reference, you know, the number of patents I’ve increased by such and such, or the number of DUIs has decreased by, you know, 83% since the pandemics or whatever. These, this data sitting out there already, it just a matter of collecting it and organizing it in an attractive way.

Chris Dreyer

Couldn’t agree more. And I got a couple of follow-up questions to that. And one of the things that we did, one of our clients which I won’t name, but we created these statistics pages, you know, motorcycle accident statistics. And we pulled data from the department of transportation. And then what we did was before it started ranking, as we did paid traffic to these keywords, because they didn’t have the. And 10th for hiring. So they were very cheap and we found that they were attracting links and it became a really good link acquisition tactic, obviously not scalable because these are nationwide types of phrases, but you know, on a followup to this, here’s the pushback we get as an agency owner, and I’m sure you were on the same page is you’ll have a client that is somewhat educated about SEO knows the importance of links and things like that. And they’ll say, Hey, how come my car accident page doesn’t have any backlinks, you know, I want more backlinks there. We have to make this, explain that, you know, we’re building the overall sites authority. So basically I just kind of wanted to reiterate, do you think. You know, ranking a very good resource page that maybe doesn’t have intent. Maybe it’s top of the funnel, middle of the funnel article can then pass authority to your sales pages. Do you think that is a really effective tactic? Or do you think that they really need just those direct links right to the sales pages?

Brian Dean

Oh no, that’s a super effective tech. You definitely don’t need links to the sales pages, like in a perfect world. The links to the sales pages are better. If you can get those, get them all day long, but the problem has practically no one will link to them. So you just have to do something else. That’s where I’m coming from. Like I think, and the good news is Google is focusing more on the trust and authority of the site than a page. So you’re trending in the right direction. If you’re focused on getting a domain authority, plus say you just, you want a new department, you’re going to, we’re going to start with. M and A’s for example, whatever. You’re you have this domain authority and that page already has a good chance to rank on day one versus, oh, we only have a bunch of spammy links toward individual sales pages and we don’t have anything to the site. So yeah I’m a big fan of seeing it happen in the, in, in the legal niche, in all their niches. E-commerce also building a domain authority. That right. You know, the rising tide lifts all boats. It works really well. And that’s actually my focus for even Backlinko like most of the pages that have the most links that back and they go aren’t guides on how to do something. People do link to those occasionally. It’s mostly date. It’s industry studies we’ve done, it’s that page is like you had mentioned when we pulled data from different places. That’s where we get our links from. And that’s where I’m even tripling down on now on getting more links using that strategy just because it’s working so well. And people happily linked to that versus creating a guide or a blog post it’s like pulling teeth to get someone to link to that now. So the stat pages and data, it just works so well that, yeah, I would make that the focus, if I was in that position.

Chris Dreyer

I completely agree with what you’re saying. In fact, in many of our articles about legal SEO, we source back to your data pages for a source to validate what we’re saying and not an opinion. So for our audience, many of the individuals listening, you’ll see, oh here’s this giant survey, right? A survey. If they survey SEO specialists, that’s typically an opinion. It’s just one SEO’s opinion of what works versus what Brian’s creating. He’s deconstructing the data with data scientists and reviewing the data. And it’s kind of more logical versus like a subjective opinion of what someone thinks.

Brian Dean

Yeah, exactly. And if you can create something that proves someone’s point, they’re going to happily link to it. That’s one of the secrets, like you said, when you’re writing this post, you’re like, I want to mention that, you know, people should try long form content. And you could just say it, but it’s so much more impactful to be able to point to data. I do it all the time too, when I’m writing, because I don’t have a study on everything. I remember those ones, there was a couple of studies that have referenced like 40 times because I’m too lazy to do it myself. Someone else did it years ago and it just a good study. So I just linked to it over and over again. And guest posts and my own stuff. I mentioned on podcast. Sometimes like this guy must love me. I mentioned in the study all the time, but that’s the kind of thing that anyone can create it doesn’t yeah, you can do your own study and make it complicated. But like you said, Chris can be as simple as just pulling data from government agencies, which they publish tons of this stuff, but it’s usually very dry in a PDF and all you need to do is collect it and pretty it up. And you’re good to go.

Chris Dreyer

It’s one of the first things that I recommend for the mass torts attorney. So they’re all competing nationwide for these phrases. And it’s this new drug that comes up where it’s a Roundup lawsuit or Zantac, or what have you, I’m like what unique insights do you have about. How can you be the source? Is there an individual you can talk to so that everyone else, when they create content they’re referencing you, they’re referencing your article and that’s the way to do it.

Brian Dean

And that’s a way Google would recommend you do it. If you had asked them how, you know, I have the site in the legal niche, how would you rank? They would tell you to do exactly that. Be a source that other people want a site, because they know that’s the sustainable way to get ranked.

Chris Dreyer

Shifting over to a couple of broad questions. And I want to ask a couple follow-up questions on exploding topics. I’m really excited to get your opinion on some of my ideas on how to use exploding topics. But first is just a couple broad, you know, SEO, there’s less real estate now than there was in the past, right? There’s more Google ads at the top. Now there’s local service ads. You know, how does today SEO, in your opinion, match up to other digital marketing channels.

Brian Dean

I’d say it’s still incredibly strong. It destroys any other channel by a thousand. It’s not even close despite the shortcomings that you brought up, which are completely legitimate. So as the changes to the services, more ads, like you said, this featured snippets, there’s people also ask there’s all sorts of stuff. They’re probably going to come out with more stuff between now and when we publish this podcast, but, and the big picture. It’s SEO still brings in way more traffic than any other source by a mile because those other sources also aren’t necessarily getting more organic reach either. If you look at YouTube, there’s more ads, it’s more competitive. It’s harder to get your video seen on Twitter, organic reaches. It’s more busy. It’s more loud. It’s hard to get your message seen. If you just kind of check off every other possible channel, it comes back to SEO and email, and those are the two channels that just work really well. And on the bright side of this whole, like Google adding more stuff, I don’t know if you noticed this, Chris, but I’m just seeing that two years ago they rolled out a bunch of stuff like two or three years ago since then it’s been kind of. Like in terms of rolling out these features that reduce clicks in the search results. I feel like the last two years they’ve been kind of quiet. I think maybe they found an equilibrium there or it’s like, all right. You know, we definitely want people to stay in Google and not leave Google, which is understandable, but we also want to give people what they want in general. I think people do want a quick answer sometimes the feature snippet, but sometimes they want to go to a site. So I feel like that trend isn’t really. Clicks aren’t dropping. Like I feel like they’ve been pretty consistent over the last, maybe two years, two and a half years. So for me, I’m not that worried about it. I’ll try every marketing channel under the sun and SEO and email are by far number one and number 2.

Chris Dreyer

I a thousand percent agree. And I’m so happy that we had that whole segment of a marketing expert, SEO guru, like yourself, stay kind of reinforcing that. A couple other things that I noticed just in agreeing with you, Brian is yeah. The, what I’m starting to see is actually some indented listings where they’re doing multiple search results for one domain where they kind of got away from that. And now they’re introducing that again because of. When an individual types in a query, they may need options. Maybe they’re typing in a query and they’re not sure what they actually need is an answer. And that’s more virtual real estate. And the other thing I like is it’s particularly in the legal vertical. If you’re bidding on car accident lawyer, it’s going to be two or $300 a click and that’s one click versus. You could have a car accident page rank for hundreds of keywords, hundreds, right? Even though you ranked number one for car accident lawyer, they’re still auto and motor vehicle and all the synonyms, and there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity compounding effects that you can get with improving your content over time. And I couldn’t agree more. And then a second, just general broad question. I just wanted to ask this. You know, what’s the biggest surprise you’ve had in the last few months as it relates to SEO and why?

Brian Dean

I actually have one ready that for my exploring topics, I’ve noticed that updating content and changing, like giving it a legitimate update and changing the updated date on the page has made a huge difference for rankings. And in fact, I recently hired an update czar whose job it is to go through and just keep the. Content on the blog up to date. That’s his only job. He doesn’t write content. He doesn’t edit content. He just goes in and makes sure everything is up to date. And there’s a lot to do. Cause it’s a lot of data related content. There’s a lot of stats. There’s a lot of sources, things change. So there’s a lot to update and in some spaces you won’t need to necessarily do this, but I’m surprised that I know it made a difference because I’ve done it a lot, but I was surprised at how much of a difference that it made.

Chris Dreyer

I can tell you from my own experience, Brian, if I’m like sick and something’s wrong and I’m like typing in the symptoms, I think everybody’s done this at some point in their life. And I see an article that was updated 2016 and one that’s, you know, 20 21 I’m clicking on the 20, 21 all day. I think in the legal vertical, that’s highly relevant as well. They want the, because the laws change. And so one of my biggest recommendations is when it clicks over to 2020, All your top blogs need to be updated to 20, 22. And that’s just a no brainer. But I think because people want that relevant new information.

Brian Dean

Yeah. I think it’s a combination of the user and Google, like Google probably gives you a temporary bump, and then when you’re there, like you said, then people are going to kind of scan and be like, oh, there’s article one from three years ago. And there’s article two from last month. It’s a no-brainer which one you’re going to click on. Right. You’re always going to almost always going to click on the more recent one, even if you’ve never heard of this site, especially in the legal space, like you said, where laws change things change. It’s something that I’m making it instead of a year end thing, which I usually do, a regular ongoing process

Chris Dreyer

At the end of 2019, Brain also exploding topics, a site identifying the next trending topics before they go mainstream. I asked Brian for his thoughts on utilizing trending topics to create linkable assets.

Brian Dean

Yeah, that’s a great idea. Tying a piece of, you know, link bait, if you want to call it that, content that does relate to what the attorney does because it’s, it can be challenging. And a lot of times people can be rigid about ah, my site is about this and everything has to be about this, but like you said, if you can draw a line, even if it’s a little bit of a stretch, that’s more than good enough. If you have a DUI attorney and you’re writing about hard kambucha, that’s totally related. So it may be in your own eyes you’re like, ah, I don’t know. From a search engine point of view, and even from people like users and journalists who might link to it. Yeah, because the thing is when I get pitched all the time to link to stuff and what really peaks my interest is something that is on a trending topic and journalists are even more like that. So if you know, let’s say you’re going to do this data approach that we had discussed earlier. The first topic is about something evergreen, you know, like motorcycle accidents. The second one is about e-bike accidents and scooter accidents. This tutor accidents, that page, you’re going to do 10 times better and Porsche because it’s less competitive, but partially because when you email it to someone, they’re going to be like, oh, I’ve seen this everywhere. They’re on the sidewalks all over the place. I want to, you know, I want to cover this as opposed to an evergreen thing. So there’s a place for evergreen. But I always try to focus on shiny topics. The tricky part is finding these trending topics. That’s why I created exploding topics because there’s Google trends, which is a great tool for confirming trends that you know about. So I feel like, oh, I wonder like how, you know, people are really into e-school is how popular is that you type into Google trends and you get all the data you can ever find that super accurate up-to-date it’s perfect. The problem is if you don’t know what trend. It can be hard to find out until you go to Thanksgiving and your 12 year olds on his phone and it shows you an app. And you’re like, oh my God, you know? Oh, wow. That’s, I’ve never seen that before. And that’s how most people discover trends from younger people. But there has to, I was kind of like one of those that had to be a better way moment. So yeah, it’s one of the reasons we created exploring topics to surface these unknown unknowns, these topics you didn’t know existed.

Chris Dreyer

And trying to acquire links in the legal vertical is very challenging. We talked about data and I know some people are on the fence. I’m calling, you know, guest blogging or blogger outreach. Right. A lot of individuals have dressed up the name of it. Right. They’re guest blogging but now they’re calling it blogger outreach or digital PR and they’re all kind of using different phrases. But the interesting thing is if you go to a, let’s say a travel site, And you’re trying to pitch the travel site to right on their site. Maybe they have good authority and you don’t have a blog on your legal article on your blog, or sorry, on your legal blog. Right. You’re never going to have this opportunity to really acquire that link, but let’s say you picked up an exploding topic and you wrote an article on van life safety, right? Cause you’re a PI attorney in the opposite of it. Right. You might have the opportunity to acquire that link. So I think creating these top of funnel, these broader category, you know, types of categories can be as smart opportunity for even your pitches as well.

Brian Dean

Oh, absolutely. I mean more so, especially if you can bring some combine that with data. Oh man. Anyone would take it because mostly sites are getting the same way and guest post pitches that are just I’ll write an article. I wrote nine tips for traveling in Thailand. You’re going to say, okay, here we go. This thing called van life. It’s huge right now, like searches for Vanlife are up a thousand percent in the last two years. And I have an article about how to do van life safely, and I’m an attorney or a firm. It doesn’t have to be the attorney themself, but like our firm really specializes in this sort of thing. So we can bring expertise that you wouldn’t have. That’s a no brainer for them to accept. So, yeah, absolutely. If you can combine that trending topic it’s really can help you stand out from those multitude of guest post pitches that these blogs are.

Chris Dreyer

Fantastic. And Brian what’s on the cusp, on the future, what’s some of the things you’re working on an exploding topics what’s some things that you’re dialing in and trying over there.

Brian Dean

Yeah. So our big thing, our sourcing. So we’re looking, always looking for different sources because basically it’s a, we have an algorithm that scrapes multiple and scans multiple different sources, millions of data points to try to find these trends. And we’re always tweaking. And we’re adding sources, moving sources because there’s a lot of signal inbound signal to noise ratio, like of you know, 99 trends, our algorithm identifies maybe two are good. The rest is just, you know, not really valuable. So we’re always on the hunt for new sources that will have a better signal to noise ratio. And we’re also focused on SEO. You know, we started the blog. I mean, we had a blog post. A year and a half ago, maybe two blog posts, but we really only started about eight months ago. And traffic’s going up a lot because we’re just focusing on what we talked about here. Creating data worthy content, getting people to link to it, not worrying about links to specific pages and just putting out really good stuff that satisfies your search intent. And our traffic has increased by 10 X over the last six months. So. Yeah it’s basically the playbook that I outlined in this podcast is what we’re just trying to double down.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, and I can definitely agree. I went to the blog. I was looking at some of the topics and those top X and many of those list type posts which are really good at attracting links and the super smart to, to focus around data. You know, Brian, this has been fantastic. It’s been so, so helpful. So tactical, you know, just final question, you know, where can our listeners go to connect with you online?

Brian Dean

Yeah, the best place to go is my newsletter. So if you go to backlinko.com and sign up for the newsletter, you can get updates that have all this stuff on publishing and some exclusive insights that I only share there.

Chris Dreyer

Brian, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Brian Dean

Thanks for having me.

Chris Dreyer

Brian is an SEO beast. There were a ton of takeaways from this episode. I love Brian’s thought process and using data to make your content more than. And don’t forget, you can always check out exploding topics for fresh content ideas. I’d like to thank Brian Dean for sharing a story with us. And I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation you’ve been listening to Personal Injury Mastermind. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you liked this episode, leave us a review. We love to hear from our listeners. I’ll catch you on next week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and all the strategies you need to take your personal injury practice to the next level.

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