15. Nathan Gotch, Gotch SEO How To Become an SEO Content God

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Nathan Gotch is an SEO content advisor and the founder of Gotch SEO. Through his SEO academy, Nathan has taught over 3,000 clients how to improve their search engine optimization practices, and hes given away free advice to countless more people through his YouTube channel and blog.

In this episode, Nathan tells us all about how he got into the world of SEO and how he developed his skillset to the point where he was able to teach others his knowledge. Join us as we discuss why you need to take a good look at your link-building efforts, how Nathan continues to grow and improve his SEO academy, and why less can be more when it comes to content.

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

Sports can lead us down all sorts of career paths. Health coaching teaching. These are just some of the obvious professions we might think our college sports programs might lead to. But for my guest today, it took him down a career path you definitely wouldn’t expect.

Nathan Gotch

Back then I was like, well, you know, I don’t really have any skills at this point being in college. Um, so, but the only skill I knew was how to throw a baseball cause I was on the college baseball team. So I was like, well, I guess I can talk about that. So, um, so then I ended up creating a blog, um, on baseball pitching and that just became the breeding ground for me, just learning all about SEO and learning about just marketing in general and, um, even business lessons there too.

Chris Dreyer

My guest today is Nathan Gotch, founder of Gotch SEO. Since 2013, Nathan and his company have helped over 3000 clients, double the traffic and rank higher using his tried and tested SEO strategies. Gotch SEO is, producing incredible results in some of the most competitive fields, such as health B2B and more. And Nathan has documented all his tips, tricks and tactics writing over 200,000 words on SEO on his website. Join us as we discuss what it was like in the early days of Nathan’s SEO Academy, how you can boost the success of your YouTube marketing and what the highest value SEO activities are that you should be doing. That’s coming up on The Rankings Podcast, the show where founders, entrepreneurs, and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there. I’m Chris Dreyer stay with us. Now that the seeds of SEO had been planted, Nathan one to learn more and grow his new skillset. But SEO wasn’t just about promoting his blog anymore. It was his passion.

Nathan Gotch

Um, so then I just got so obsessed with SEO and I eventually just started creating website after websites. So I was creating just like these really small niche websites to try to make affiliate income, so I started like an under counter ice-maker review website, and then I started a, um, Bowflex reviews website and these things were like, I was basically building them just to test and prove my SEO skills. Um, and then eventually I started getting so good that I was like, I wonder if I could like sell this to businesses and do it for them. Um, and then, so around 2013, that’s when I decided like, okay, I’m going to start taking on some clients here and there and see if people actually pay me to do this. Um, and you know, the rest is kind of history from there. And then I started taking on clients and obviously grew a lot. Um, and then, you know, fast forward to 2016, I started Gotch SEO Academy, um, which is where I’m, you know, showing other SEO’s how to do it or future SEO is how to do it. And, um, that was interesting when I launched, because I launched with, um, and I sold seven spots, so I had seven students on my first launch. Um, but now I’m over a thousand, so it’s, it’s pretty crazy how it can grow if you just stick with it over time. And I’ve been doing it now for over four years, almost so. Um, but yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s the high level overview of the last seven years of doing this. So. Yeah.

Chris Dreyer

So I have tons of questions here. Uh, I’ll try to keep them short. So first with the Ezine Articles. So did you, did you just have a collection of the Ezine Mugs from your authorship. You remember how they used to send out those mugs every time?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah. So I don’t think I even got to that point where I was like, so a lot of, you know, a lot of the articles I was writing, um, I was trying to make income directly from easing articles, but I was actually using them to link to my websites. Um, cause that was actually a really effective method back then. Um, so, and, you know, back then anything worked. So, um, yeah, things have changed a lot since then, but, um, but before you could really be gray hat and do a lot of artificial stuff and there’s really no reason not to, because it was working so incredibly well, you’d be like ridiculous. Not to even do it. Cause it was so easy. Um, but things have changed a lot since then.

Chris Dreyer

The Gotch SEO Academy is such a valuable resource for digital marketers and business owners with advice for novices and experts alike. I asked Nathan what it was like in the early days of running the Academy and what it took to grow it into the SEO expert factory it is now.

Nathan Gotch

Oh man, radically different. Yeah. The the affiliate marketing is it’s purely of a traffic play. You know, you’re just thinking about, okay, how can I get as much traffic to these websites so I can get more affiliate conversions? Obviously, you know, you bring conversion rate optimization in there too. Um, but you know, ultimately once you send those people off your site, it’s kind of up to the, the, the company to make those sales. So you’re, it’s kind of hands-off, you can just focus purely on traffic, which is great for beginners, because you don’t have to do a whole lot and have a lot of moving parts. Now courses are much different. Of course, it’s like running a real business because there’s so many different parts. So you have, you have product development, you have marketing you have sales. It’s literally its entire process, um, and operations. Like for example, to put in perspective, I had to hire a community manager because I literally could not respond to everything that was in the group and continue to work on the course of the same time. Um, so I had to decide like, okay, how am I going to be able to work on the course and continue to make the community good? So I decided to, um, you know, I kind of did a little bit of recruiting in the group. I wanted to see who was really active in there, who is adding value without being paid. Um, and then I identified, someone’s named Simon, I’m sure you’ve seen him participating in there many times, um, but I, I made him the community manager and he’s done an incredible job and he’s made my life a lot easier because now I can focus purely on the course, which is really my bread and butter. Um, and so. You know, it, it, it’s totally different. Um, and it’s, you know, there’s a lot of stuff online where people are like, yeah, start a core starting information product, because it’s such an easy way to make money, but it’s not actually that easy. Um, it’s actually very difficult because the, the investment that goes into those courses is so substantial as far as time and money. Like, I mean, I’ve, I’ve paid my video editor, probably. I don’t even know at this point… $40,000? Probably just editing, just editing that training. Um, so you know, you, you can obviously do it much cheaper, but I want it to be the best. I have extremely high standards. So I can’t like, I can’t just do, like one of those ones, that’s like, Hey, this is, this is how you do it. And then there’s like “uhs” and “ums”. And like people messing up on the recordings. Like I can’t handle that. It just drives me insane. So I have to have it edited like perfectly, um, and to get rid of all my mess-ups in the content too. Um, so it’s, it’s crazy. And it, the, the course has gone through so many iterations. Like the first time I launched it were only like, seven people joined. And actually two of those people were from a contest. So it was actually only five people who joined. And actually, I think three of them refunded. So I had a net, I had a net of two people who stayed on. Um, so yeah, and that refund rates are very high with information products typically. Um, so, but. I looking back, I deserve to have a hundred percent refund rate with that course that I put out. Like I was grateful to even have two people that stuck with it. Um, but the first iteration of it was all text-based content. I didn’t do any video. Um, and the reason it was just because I was insecure about getting on video and that was ultimately the reason I was like, you know, I’m good, I’m good at blogging. I’m good at writing. So I’ll just like take that and put into a course form. And that’s what I felt comfortable doing. Um, But then eventually I was like, yeah, this isn’t gonna work. I need to do videos. So then the second iteration was all like over the shoulder videos and it was, it was rough. It was really rough, bad audio. Like me stumbling over my words, just like really bad. And I had, I did literally hundreds of these videos in that second iteration. And then the third one, I was like, you know what, I’m going to redo them all. So I literally redid every single video that I did. And I that’s when I brought in a video editor and I made a much better. And a lot of those videos are pretty much still on there. Um, with the new additions are obviously even better than those, but it’s just a constant process of iteration. At least if you really like are dedicated to, and that’s what you want. Like, I’m thinking about this on a, like a 10 year level like, I, I don’t want to just create a course to make a quick buck. Like, I, I want this to be a massive community of people who can really learn SEO. Um, so I’m thinking about it long-term and I, I really, I, I take it seriously.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. So I was going to say, what was the biggest turning point or how did you get traction. But it seemed, but, you know, everyone talks about this overnight success, but, but your overnight success was tedious action, continuous improvement over and over again. So would you, would it be fair to say that it wasn’t like there was one thing that you did? It was just a combination of all these activities?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah. I mean, I wish I wish it was easier. Um, but you know, it’s like you look back and you’re like, you’re happy that you went through that process because you learn so much. You’re like that, that, isn’t what I want. Like you look back and you’re like, that’s, those standards are too low for what, where I want to be now. Um, and so, and it’s, you just don’t know, like, you don’t know what you don’t know. So like you, you have to do it and then you figure it out along the way. Um, and I, I personally think that’s the only way to really improve anything you just cause everyone’s bad at something when they first started, right? Like it took me, I literally avoided video, like the plague for the first like three or four years of my business. I was like, I’m not going on video. I refuse to do it. And I just, it was just cause I didn’t want to, I was too insecure. I’d never been on video. And in fact I’ve kind of a funny story when I, I think it was maybe 2014, um, we signed up for the Yelp Advertiser Program and what they did with the advertiser program is they had you record a video for your business. And so they had this person from Yelp come in and it was maybe like a third party person that they hired. They came to my apartment, which is where my SEO business was out of at the time, um, with my, my future wife and my best friend from college. So those are my two employees and they came and did like this like promo video for our company. And I was horrified. I was literally horrified. I’m having to do that video. And like, I just remember when he’s, cause there was no script or anything, so he’s just like, alright, here you go. Talk about the business. And I’m like a deer in the headlights. Like I couldn’t even like think at all. And so it’s just crazy to look back to that and be like, oh my gosh, that was horrible. And like, even just that experience alone made me not want to do video for very long time. Um, But, you know, that’s just the way it is. So…

Chris Dreyer

I’m with you. I get petrified. When I look at some of my old affiliate marketing stuff on like how to lose a double chin or I’m just like, how do I bury all this stuff that I created over the years? And the video things been challenging for me too. I get a lot of people that I talk to these attorneys. They’re like, I never see at the conferences. I’m like, Whoa, I’m kind of an introvert. So I don’t do it. Yeah. One of the things you mentioned was, was YouTube, is like getting over the fear to be on camera. And, you know, before our interview here, I went and I was doing some research about your company and I go to your YouTube channel, you’ve got close to 15,000 subscribers from 55 videos. So let’s jump over to YouTube marketing for just a moment, because you know, I’ve seen YouTube channels with hundreds of videos, with a lot less subscribers. And, or even thousands, I went to a channel a few days ago. They have 1200 videos that had less than a thousand subscribers. So what have you learned from being able to get so much traction with, with, in my opinion, not a ton of videos on YouTube.

Nathan Gotch

Yeah. Um, extreme, extreme focus on keywords. Um, and that, and I’ve, I’ve tested various things. Like I, I’ve had a phase where I liked tried to publish every day for like two weeks. Um, and you know, you get a little spike and then it’s nothing. And that’s how the, that type of publishing works. Like you’ll get an initial spike from, and as soon as you publish, but because they’re not keyword targeted because they’re not extremely high quality, they just don’t get that long, you know, long lasting traction. Um, so actually, you know, a lot of my growth, um, actually came from one video that I did very early on about, um, how to develop an SEO strategy. Um, and that video is really long. It’s like an hour long almost. Um, and it’s been ranking for SEO strategy and YouTube for a very long time. And now one just continues to drive me subs, but I basically took my findings from that video and then started doing that with my future videos. So things that I’ve learned. Number one, always targeted keyword, super critical. Um, and then number two longer videos work much better. Um, and then number three, investing in production always works better every time. Anytime I’ve tried to do a video where I didn’t invest heavily in production, it didn’t do as well. But every time I do it, it just… I think it’s like, you know, Anyone can, can publish a video that isn’t highly produced, right? Anyone can just turn on the camera and start talking. And unless you’re extremely charismatic and you can just like, hold people’s attention because of like a, you have a unique personality trait. Like Gary V for example, he doesn’t need extreme editing because he’s so incredibly engaging as an individual. Um, but I’m not that way. So I need to, I need to add things to my videos that keep people engaged and increase that watch time as much as possible. So like, if you go to my most recent video, which I spent actually, well, I should say my video editor spent over two months editing that video. And so you think about it, like that’s a lot, and that was just for a 30 minute video. And the one thing I always think about too is like you think about how much work goes into like a 60 second commercial on TV. We’re talking like they have huge production teams, huge budgets for a 60 second commercial. And people on YouTube throw up like a 30 minute, you know, without even a single bit of editing and they think it’s going to be successful. Like it’s hard to hold people’s attention. It’s very, very difficult. So that’s, that’s half of the battle that I try to attack on YouTube. Um, and then as far as like me getting more subscribers and more views, um, I just use my email list. So every time I publish a new video and the thing is because I don’t publish a lot, when a new one does come out, I can promote it like crazy. Um, and so that’s kind of my spin, my strategy, and I’m still learning a ton. Like I’m still pretty new on YouTube. So, um, but for me personally, trying to, trying to rank in search, um, and then also trying to rank in suggested videos too, which is a huge views, um, driver.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, there, there are tons of nuggets here. So when we look at Amazon and we think of their core algorithm, it’s, it’s mostly dealing with the shopping cart and seeing which products sell. When we think about SEO and there’s all kinds of debates, but a lot of it’s content, quality UX and links and, and like those factors. And then would it be fair to say that YouTube is more about engagement and length of time watched in addition to those keywords?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah, definitely. Um, engagement’s huge. And I actually, I did a little test and I don’t know if you saw this, but it was probably, I think it was actually last September. Um, and I, I published this, this video about free SEO tools and it really, I was trying to rank for SEO tools, but free was a little bit longer so I thought I could rank for that. And it was competing against like, You know, Neil Patel who has 500,000 subscribers, something crazy. Um, but what I did, I told everyone on my email list and everyone who followed me on social, as soon as I publish to go and just leave a comment below because I was conducting an experiment. So I, I got like tons of comments of people just, you know, trying to get apart, become a part of this experiment. And I think I told them, leave a comment like the video and watch. The entire video and within like, you know, maybe 30 minutes, this thing was ranking in the top three and it hasn’t left since. And it’s all because it’s all because of that user engagement. Um, and obviously like, it was a pretty good video too. Like it wasn’t a bad video. Um, but. I just, that is such a huge factor on YouTube. Um, and which makes it, you know, obviously Google search has been trying to incorporate elements of that, but it’s a little more difficult, but YouTube it’s very clear cut. Like they watched X amount of video, they left a comment and they liked the video. That means they’re very interested in this content. So I think it’s a little bit easier for them to make that determination when it comes to video. Um, but obviously, you know, on the search Google search side, they can use well time and, um, you know, are they bookmarking these pages and other factors like that, which we can get into, if you want to.

Chris Dreyer

It would be a crime, to have such a renowned SEO expert and educator on the show and not find out what his top SEO tips are. So I asked Nathan, what are the three highest value activities that anyone can do to help their SEO succeed?

Nathan Gotch

Uh, that’s easy, uh, content ,UX and links. Those three, those three things. If you can get those three things, right, you’re, you’re pretty, you’re going to be good. There are a lot of other things, especially, you know, like sub categories of each of those that need to be focused on. But when you look at it very high level, it always starts with content. Because if you don’t have good content or you don’t have good pages… And I refer to content is many different things, like when people hear content, they think of blog posts, well, when I say content, I’m referring to informational content on the blog, I’m referring to transactional pages, referring to a comparison page. That’s all contents. I mean, even a, even an image is content to me. Um, so yeah, I mean, that’s the foundation of everything. So, and like when we start a new SEO campaign, that’s my focus. And my team’s focus is 100% on getting that part right first. And once we get that foundation strong, which is, you know, optimizing existing assets, deleting a lot of content redirecting content, which we talked about recently. Um, but you know, going through that process to build that strong foundation is so critical. Like we talked about just so who’s watching knows, um, I had a client come on and they had just thousands and thousands of pages, and they’re a lawyer, and there was no reason for them to have thousands and thousands of pages. So we literally deleted, I think it’s up to now 98% of their content. And most of it didn’t, we didn’t even redirect just straight four Oh four, like gone, um, and their, their, their performance has been climbing. Um, and it’s just because when you have that much content and it doesn’t have links and. It’s not adding any, anything new it’s causing so many different issues it’s causing index bloat, it’s going to cause issues with crawling. It’s creating duplicate contents, creating keyword, cannibalization. So, um, you know, I’m very deliberate with what new pages will go on a website. Um, that’s so important because adding pages just to add pages is pretty much the worst strategy you can have unless you’re doing some sort of scale model like Amazon, where, you know, it’s, it’s user generated basically. Um, but they’re, they’re not a normal situation. Um, so.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. I, it’s interesting you say that and I, 100% agree, you know, Google is trying to provide the best answer for the consumer. So, you know, when I’ve talked to my prospects, there’ll be a car accident lawyer in Chicago. And let’s say, they’re like, why is it my car accident, lawyer page ranking? I’m targeting the keyword. It’s it’s 2000 words. Why isn’t it ranking? I’m like, well, 99 of your competitors have a 2000 word article that targets the exact same keywords. So how is yours different? How is yours better? And I just think that Google does filters out all the junk, and I think that’s 100% the right strategy to just nuke that that content that is not performing.

Nathan Gotch

Hopefully you’ve built enough trust with them that they they’re saying, okay, you are the expert, we’re going to trust what you do. Um, and it takes a lot of guts as an SEO company to make those decisions. Like when I make a decision like that, like I am a little bit nervous. Like this could go wrong maybe, but most of the time it doesn’t, it usually goes right. And when you, you know, when you have a lot of experience, you have to be able to have the confidence to make those big decisions. And I think that’s actually one of the biggest issues I’ve seen with a lot of companies that leave their SEO company and come to me or other companies is that the previous SEO company was afraid to make those decisions. So they, they did, they did little bandaids and little, you know, little modifications just to, you know, they knew it was a problem, but they didn’t want to have to have that conversation about, okay, hey, you’re gonna have to delete all your content. So, you know, it’s… and I understand that that makes sense. Like you want to keep the client, you don’t want to like, you know, go through this period because like for, I’ll give you an example with this particular client, I told him, I’m like, I’m just going to let you know, things are gonna get volatile here for a second. Like for the next couple of months, things are going to get really bad. Like your rankings are going to fall. You’re going to fluctuate. It’s going to be crazy. But just give me the time that we need and it will, it will stabilize and that’s exactly what happened. And it was actually even less than that, I always prepare for the worst, but it was only like a couple of weeks of just really down rankings, crazy fluctuation. And now it’s just, everything’s up now. So, you know, it’s, it’s hard. It’s really hard, but it’s it’s so it’s just better to, to make those decisions. Um, and I actually have, on my whiteboard I would show you, but it’s probably not going to look very good on video, but I have, you know, the first, uh, one to three months is what I call the clients will hate you period. And actually got that from you, because you said that. You know, that’s, that’s the most difficult period I was thinking about that like, yeah, the first one through three months, the client should probably not really like you because you should be making really aggressive changes to make sure that the next three to 12 months are substantially better. Um, and so that’s the period where you really should be going all in to really build out that foundation. Um, and obviously, you know, you need to have some checks and balances in place to make sure that they’re happy. Um, but, but yeah, that’s, that’s what I call like the, you know, the rebuild phase and the optimized phase is kind of that first one to three months.

Chris Dreyer

I called it internally the first three months that the teach our clients not to be crazy to set those expectations. So. Nathan you’re clear and clearly an expert you’ve got, you know, over a thousand subscribers on Gotch SEO Academy. So, you know, what are some of the books or, or, or who are some of your mentors that, that help you continuously improve and stay on top of your game?

Nathan Gotch

Oh, man. Um, yeah, you know, it’s weird with books because I really, I learn a lot from people who are not in my industry. Um, so like, I’m a, I’m like a die hard Warren Buffett guy. Like I just, I love everything that he says. I’m just like obsessed with his ideology. Like he’s just the way he operates is so incredible. So yeah, anything with him is good. But then obviously, like I read a lot of, you know, personal development books just because it’s good to stay on top of that. Um, although a lot of it is redundant. Um, weirdly, I really like, like investing books. It’s I don’t know why. I just, for some reason it like relates very similar to how SEO is for me, because SEO is so volatile sometimes. The ups and the downs, and, um, that, you know, stocks and investing is, is a similar, um, trajectory. So I think I kind of get attracted to that a little bit. Um, but I’m not super aggressive with investing. I just invest in index funds, but I like the process of like studying companies and, um, my, my brother-in-law works. He’s a, um, a CFA and he works for an investment company and, um, I just told them like, hey, if you ever want like, you know, data about online marketing about these companies, you’re interested in, I can give it to you. So like, I, I prepared this thing on, um, Gap, you know, as a potential prospect they wanted to invest in. So I took all this SEM rush data and HRS data to show how they’re trending over time and against their competitors. So, um, you know, it’s… those those tools are so incredible. I’m shocked that these companies don’t use them to actually get intel about these companies and how they’re performing online. Um, it’s, it’s crazy how much information you can get. So, yeah…

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. I also see you got Winning Jack Welch behind you. You got a little Grant Cardone to pump you up, you know, your motivation. Yes. That’s good stuff. Um, yeah, so, so Nathan, one final question here. What, what questions or stories did we not talk about though, that you feel would be important for our audience?

Nathan Gotch

Um, well, I would say as far as like SEO, um, one thing that I feel like I kind of left out was just the link building side, um, which can not be neglected. Um, it’s just, you know, you can, you can go far building out that foundation, rebuilding a site, optimize this site, but then once that’s done, um, you know, and let’s say everyone in your, um, particular market has done that too. Everyone has a great user experience. Everyone has great content. So what’s going to be the deciding factor? Well, that’s when the third-party signals come in and that’s what makes the difference. Um, and so, you know, that’s, it’s so critical that you have an effective link building program in place for any SEO campaign, because it’s just really difficult if you don’t. And obviously, you know, if you’re willing to wait a very long time, um, you can. Maybe get those natural links. Um, but in most cases, especially client SEO, where you need to be getting results fast, um, you need to be active link building. Um, and that doesn’t mean, you know, building, you know, really terrible links. It just means that you’re, you’re actively going through that process to get, to get those new links to the site. And, um, you know, as you know about me, I think you should always have linkable assets. Super super important. Um, and you know, you do this already, but, um, anything data-driven is huge work so well. Um, and then it, it works well because it works in pretty much every industry. So you can find data, you can find research, you can, you can actually even create your own data. Like I do that with Gotch SEO a lot. Like I’ll literally create my own data just by doing my own research. Um, and obviously the more unique data there is the more linkable it is, but you can always find data and pretty much any industry.

Chris Dreyer

What a great piece of advice. You can only optimize your own sites so much. So what really sets it apart from the others to rank? Number one is you need to build those links and pull in some traffic from external sites. You been listening to The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer, a huge thank you to today’s guest Nathan Gotch for joining us. You can find all of the links from today’s conversation in the show notes. And we want to hear from you. What was your favorite SEO tip from Nathan today? Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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