102. Second Take Neil Patel on a New Approach to Content and Emerging Marketing Channels

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As we come to the end of the year, I want to take you back to one of my favorite episodes of 2021. The legendary Neil Patel joined us back in May, and he shared so much amazing SEO advice that I think it’s definitely worth another listen! Neil Patel is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital and Forbes has called him one of the top 10 marketers in the country. Hes helped everyone from Amazon to Zappos grow their business.

In this episode, we discuss how UX design affects your SEO and how to restructure your content strategy. We also dive into alternatives to Google where Neil has found success generating organic traffic and geek out about content delivery networks.

Happy Holidays!

Whats In This Episode

  • Who is Neil Patel?
  • Why is user experience important for SEO?
  • How can you assess and optimize your websites UX design?
  • What should your content breakdown look like?
  • Why should you update your content?
  • How important are backlinks nowadays?
  • What are some of the alternative channels that can supplement your SEO?

Transcript

Neil Patel

You can’t forget the marketing in content marketing,

Chris Dreyer

digital marketing has evolved. It’s no longer just about creating pages and pages of content, hoping for back links.

Neil Patel

Are you emailing people you link out to asking for share? Are you emailing people that linked to your competition to ask the link to you? Are you hitting up people on Twitter who share your competitor content, ask them to share your content. When you follow that formula, you’re going to do much better.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to the rankings podcast, the show where top marketers and elite personal injury attorneys shared their stories about getting to the top and what keeps them there. Neil Patel is one of the top digital marketers in the world. He’s on the cutting edge of SEO and knows more than almost anyone about how to raise your digital profile. 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. SEO is all about the first page and that’s also where we like to start our show. Here’s Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.

Neil Patel

Yeah. So when I was 16 years old or 15 and a half, technically I was looking for a job. I couldn’t find a job online that paid six figures and who woulda knew you need college degrees and experience to get paid well. So while I was on these job websites, and back then it was a site called monster.com. I decided to just go out there and create a job board. Cause I was on monster.com. I was like, wait, you guys make millions of dollars. So then I paid someone a few thousand bucks to create me a job board and popped it up. And all of a sudden it was live. I was like, where does the traffic? And there was none. And it was at that point in time, I realized you had to actually do marketing and I didn’t have a ton of money. So, you know, I kept working, picking up trash cleaning toilets. And from there, I took that money, um, that I made and paid a marketing firm, not the best ones, but I paid some and didn’t really get great results. And at that point I realized I had to learn marketing on my own.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And it’s unfortunate that there’s a lot of charlatans and snake oil salesmen out there, but now looking at what you’ve accomplished today, I was just, I was looking at neilpatel.com and it gets like 5 million visitors per month. So obviously the taking the lick early kind of set the path to where you are today. And I wanted to first just dive into SEO. That’s really, you know, my forte and just, I know it’s obviously yours and before we talk about other marketing channels, so I’m just going to kind of jump right in on your marketing school podcast. You mentioned the top ranking factor going more towards the UX and the user experience side, you know, why do you think that is.

Neil Patel

Well think of it this way. Anytime you do a search and you know this better than anyone else, but anytime you do a search, do you really think like, Oh, I’m going to click on this number one listing. It’s so much better because it has a million backlinks versus all the number two listing. When I searched for the term, cars only has 500,000 backlinks. Like, do people really care? How many backlinks the site has? Like this site has a site map. This other site does it. This one has one, like none of us really care about that. What you care as a user, when you do a search, is am I getting what I’m looking for? Period, that’s it. And my whole belief is you need to go out there and you need to create the best experience because that’s what they want to put at the top.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. And you know, so Google rarely do they announce when they’re going to do an algorithm. And then they announced the core web vitals algorithm is kind of a step in that direction for UX experience. They want pages to load quilt quickly. So for those individuals trying to prepare in may, it’s just around the corner, what are some things that they may do to improve their sites with that algorithm coming up in the near future?

Neil Patel

So, what I recommend everyone do is user like, um, use like mouse tracking, user tracking. Heatmaps there’s a ton of softwares that do it like crazy egg and stuff like that. And start looking to see where people are getting stuck on your main web pages. I get traffic because you can use Google search console. See your top pages from an SEO standpoint. Go through them, uh, run a heat map on that page, or look at mouse movements. See what you can do to improve those experiences. See where people are getting stuck. Are they clicking on something that they shouldn’t be clicking is something blocking the experience on mobile device or desktop device or tablets. And I know what the update that they’re doing. It’s mainly on mobile first. If I’m not mistaken with the page experience update. Um, but I would highly recommend you do it for all browsers, all device types. And then the next thing I would recommend doing is, uh, check out sites like user testing and pay some, a little bit of money for people to go through your site, figure out what’s wrong, uh, fear, what they’re getting stuck, what feedback they have on how you can improve and make those changes as well.

Chris Dreyer

I think those are great suggestions and, and absolutely, and one of, kind of my segue and into this next is. One of the things that I’ve been wondering about, and I’ve got my technical SEO team and they keep pounding me on the head on this is the live chat. It’s very, very common in the legal industry. Everyone has a live chat and, you know, it’s, it’s sometimes intrusive on a mobile device and I notice, you know, Neil patel.com, uh, your, your NP digital site that needs, you don’t have a live chat on either one of those sites. Was that intentional to get them to go through your funnel and the contact form, or did it also have some of that usability, um, aspect? Um, In that, that, did it have that in there?

Neil Patel

Yeah. So, uh, one, it was slowing down the site a little bit, but two, we actually found that little to no one was, uh, using it. So we’re like, if no, one’s going to use it, then why keep it and improves the experience for the page loads faster. Now there are some pages on our site that do have live chat because we know that that’s where we’re getting majority of the questions. So for those pages, we keep it on, but we removed it from the majority of our sites.

Chris Dreyer

Great. I was wondering that. And, and what about a CDN, a content delivery network? Do you think that’s just a must have for any business owner that’s receiving a decent amount of traffic, does that have any impact as it relates to this core web vitals as well?

Neil Patel

It is, but when I look at a CD and I think most people use them wrong, most people use a CDN to host their static files and images. What I recommend doing is use a CD and Tulsa hosts, your non-static files, which will reduce your hosting costs and speed up your site.

Chris Dreyer

And, and define that for me. What do you mean by the non-static files?

Neil Patel

Sure. So like they just do like a text-based content that doesn’t change. Some of my blog pages constantly changed. Cause it gets new comps and stuff like that. We’ll host a lot of those pages on a CDN. And we did that because our WP engine bill was getting high. So we’re just like, uh, one of our developers like, well, if we do this, it’ll bring down our hosting bill. So we did that, which drastically brought down our hosting bill.

Chris Dreyer

Neil is at the forefront of digital marketing. So when he tells you what’s on the horizon, it’s wise to listen up. I asked him about the future of content teams and how they can adapt their strategies to deal with the changing SEO landscape.

Neil Patel

I think content teams are going to have to be restructured. Um, the big reason for that is. Content teams right now almost have them just create new content. Okay. And the crank out content, tons of it. And they go on to the next, what we have is we have a formula that we use for content that works really well. 40% of the time you write basic beginner content. If you think about what’s being searched on Google and stuff, like how to tie a tie. How to install a toilet, how to get more traffic to your website, how to get Google, to index your site, how to get into Google people type in a lot of those types of terms all day long, but that’s the type of content that no one really wants to share on social media, because it’s not that amazing or unique. And no one really wants to link to because it’s already been published a thousand times, if not a million times already. But you need to publish that content to get the search traffic, because that’s what people are searching for 10% of the time, we recommend posting advanced content stuff that makes you seem or not even seen, but makes you shows people, you are experts stuff with stats, stuff with data. So for example, I may publish an article with, um, my new blogging formula. And how I blog and what percent of time I’m spending on each and using stats and data to back it up and show results on what’s happening in different industries and show why the other way doesn’t generate links or back links and traffic and how this way generates better results in a shorter period of time. I’m making it up, but you get the point. And by doing that, that’s the kind of content that. Generates more backlinks and social shares, but not too many people are typing in, you know, blogging formula, right? Like you’re not going after a T word or anything, but it boosts the overall authority of the site. 20% of the time you need to update your old content. And this is the big one. Most people in how they structure their content teams do wrong. If you look at your Google search console traffic, and you compare year over year, so the last 28 days, which is what they default to. Uh, typically the last 28 days, I believe, uh, or is that YouTube? It’s one of the last 30 days or 28 days, uh, over the period previous year. And when you do that, what ends up happening is you can see which pages are actually declining and traffic. The ones that are declining and traffic, you need to click on and see what keywords they rank for. Search them. See who’s ranking at the top or above you, or is ranking for those terms. And you need to adjust what you’re creating content on to be better than them. What are they doing that you’re not including? What do they cover that you skimmed the surface on, but didn’t really go in depth on what did it, what are you covering that they’re not, that makes you better? Are you covering anything? That’s outdated. Right. All these will give you ideas on what you need to update with your content. So then that way it’s still fresh and relevant to people because there’s over a billion blogs on the internet with over a billion blogs. That’s roughly one for every seven people. Do we really need more content blogs? No, but people still create them cause it drives traffic. But why would you go and create something that is me too, when you can go and. Uh, or I’m me too, but why would you go and have some that’s outdated and rank when you could bring them something that’s more up-to-date and relevant and then 30% of the time. I would go and market your content. You can’t forget the marketing and content marketing. Are you emailing people you link out to asking for share you, emailing people that linked to your competition to ask the link to you. Are you hitting up people on Twitter who share your competitor content, ask them to share your content when you follow that formula, you’re going to do much better than that. So I think content teams need to be structured around those percents, roughly. It varies. If you’re a brand new website, you’re not going to spend 20% of your time updating old content, but you get the point. That’s what I would do if I was a structuring, a brand new content team.

Chris Dreyer

And I think that that, that really highlights of a big difference. In specifically I work in the legal vertical, and I would say those percents are about 95% new content, 5% maybe go and refresh that one or two pages on their site. And they’re just definitely needs to be an emphasis on. You know, those, the, the entire area. And I think it it’s important for them to highlight their expertise with those, those expert types of content, because they can attract links or show elevate them to their peers potentially for referrals. So I completely agree. And, you know, with all this talk about UX with. Content and how it’s changing based upon saturation. You know, how what’s the emphasis on links? I know you said, you know, that last 20%, you need to do outreach and promotion of your content, but is, you know, Google was founded, I believe in 1998, I could’ve, could’ve got that wrong by, you know, using links as their myth, main method to categorize the search results. So where do links? Because you said it at the very beginning. Nobody’s going to a page and saying, Oh, that got a hundred thousand links and this one got 10, but, but maybe Google is maybe Google is the one person. So, you know, where’s the importance on links now.

Neil Patel

See, I think links. Kickstarts your rankings. What I mean by that is. If, if everyone has a million links and you have zero, it’s going to be hard to even get noticed by Google. But if you have a thousand and everyone has a million, all right, you’ll start getting noticed. So I think links is like this, the springboard, some to get the momentum going, but you don’t need a focus on it. It’s not the end all be all. And if they see that you have a better experience in the long run, my belief is you’re going to do the best.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. So, so does that, are they looking more at those click-through rate percentages, maybe in the title tags and meta descriptions? I I’ve even seen some tools like that clicks and there’s another AI based one that actually manipulate, uh, you know, searches where they’ll have consumers type in the query to click on it. Do you think that that’s going to have a bigger impact? So once they do start to that first page where the actual click throughs will impact the search results as well.

Neil Patel

Yep. I think click-throughs are one of the biggest, uh, indicators. Another thing is, are people actually going back to the search results when they click on a listing? Because if they are, that means they’re not typically fine. Look finding what they’re looking for.

Chris Dreyer

Oh, that’s a great, so I’ve always thought about that on the reverse. I’ve always thought that, you know, a high percentage. So, so that kind of makes the argument right. Where sometimes if the bounce rates high, maybe they got the answer they were looking for and just left. So you’re saying if they return, maybe it wasn’t a good experience because they didn’t find it.

Neil Patel

Well, there’s two things. If I do a Google search and I clicked on the first result and within 10 seconds, I clicked the back button and I click on the second result. Chances are, I didn’t find what I’m looking for. If I go to a website and I clicked, I may be there for 30 seconds or a minute. And then I go, I click the back button. I’m not saying type in google.com and clicking the background in the browser. And then I search for something else. And I don’t go to the second result. That can tell Google that, Hey, maybe I found what I’m looking for. Maybe I’m looking for something new. Now I already got my answer, but if someone clicks and goes back right away and they click on the next one, they go back right away and they go on the third one and they’re there. And another thousand people do that in that same hour. Chances are that number three result is going to go to the top.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. I love that. And let, let’s go back to link building a little bit. A little bit more here. So I’ve got some theories and I kind of wanted to hear your opinion on this, but you know, back in the day, directories were accused source of link-building everyone, you know, directories, they were data entering and chamber of commerce is, and it was just essential to have all these legal specific directories. But it just seems that if a page has, you know, 300 words and they’re on a site full of a million pages, You know, if that page doesn’t get crawled because maybe the contents then does the equity still pass back to the other site. If it’s not, if there’s not a high crawl rate.

Neil Patel

I, I think it does. Um, but no one really knows for sure. Other than Google, right?

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I was just, I was just wondering, because you know, I hear so many individuals talking negatively about a specific tool that many attorneys use a Yext for, you know, they use Yext has a tool that aggregates your local information out to many of the top local sites through an API. And they always throw it under the bus and they talk about doing it manual, but I’ve always thought, you know, when I do a comparison, I see, you know, you’re going to do it manual. You’re going to get, let’s say a hundred sites. Will you submit it to Yext powerless things? They’re aggregating over 200, you know, I’m always more of an abundance type of person when it comes to promotion. And what’s your thoughts on that?

Neil Patel

Yeah. I’m more of a buttons too, because yeah. If you do it all manually, one, it’s going to take too long. There’s too many directors and then it’s a pain to maintain, but I’d rather get out there and get as many as possible. Um, I do think you need to focus on having amazing reviews as a lawyer or a law firm, but at the same time, you want to be in all these places because you don’t know where your customer’s going to go to find you.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. So we’ve hammered SEO pretty hard. And I wanted to talk briefly about some other channels and you know, so what marketing channels are emerging that you see? Uh, I saw YouTube shorts. I know nothing about YouTube shorts. Maybe you could tell our audience about those and some of the other channels

Neil Patel

think of like Instagram reels, and now you’ve got YouTube shorts, similar concept.

Chris Dreyer

Gotcha. So just, just short form videos. Um, and I think

Neil Patel

TikTok, right. Think TikTok, short form, whether it’s Instagram reels or TikTok or, uh, YouTube shorts, that’s all a similar concept. So if you create content for one of those channels, you can just do it for all of them.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. So I love what you were doing. You and Eric are doing with clubhouse, repurposing that into the video or into your podcast. Are you, are you very active on clubhouse right now? I mean, that’s, that’s a brand new channel that many individuals are using.

Neil Patel

Uh, yeah, I am quite active on a clubhouse or actually I was more active. I’m not as active now, but I was more active in the past.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. And let, let’s talk about podcasting a little bit. We’re on a podcast here. And I fit into the category of so many other podcasts where I’m trying, you know, my audience is different and I’m, I’m speaking to my audience, but I’m doing that weekly show and it’s just fits into all the other weekly shows. So have you found, you know, the format that you and Eric are using, you know, the short form five to 10 minute podcasts are helping you stand out from the, the rest of the crowd, you know, what’s your, what’s your thoughts on podcasting in general and just how to be different.

Neil Patel

So podcasting is booming and, uh, compared to most channels, people listen to podcasts, tend to have a higher, uh, income, according to Salesforce, based on a survey that they did. And when we look at podcasting is it’s not that competitive in the United States, it’s growing, it’s becoming more competitive, but it’s a wide open channel. You, you got billions and billions of sites and you have, you know, millions of podcasts. Like it doesn’t even compare. Um, and I would highly recommend that people just get into podcasting is an easy way. When I say millions, I’m not talking about like a hundred million podcasts or anything crazy like that. Right. There’s a big gap. Um, and audio content is huge, especially post COVID. I bet you it’ll be even bigger too, because more people will be on the road listening to podcasts in their car and stuff like that.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. I have to echo that it’s been one of the, uh, the most beneficial channels that I’ve used. It, we even, it even acts as our entire marketing flywheel because we can repurpose it, you know, pull out micro content for social. It can act, uh, supplement our content. You know, we’re all trying to upgrade our content. So I have an expert like yourself on here talking about SEO can elevate it. It’s it’s just an amazing Avenue. Another one that I see kind of. Coming back from the dead a little bit is webinars webinars making a huge comm co uh, come back due to COVID. You know, um, one of the aspects I love is you can kind of piggyback off of the audiences, um, about your off your guests, his audience, to kind of get those additional emails, to build an email list. You know, what’s your thoughts on webinars? Are they here to stay, you know, once live events are back or, um, your thoughts on those in general?

Neil Patel

I think webinars are here to stay. It’s a amazing channel because you’re building up a rapport with someone and then you can sell them on the webinar. You can use tools like webinar jam or ever webinar to do that. Uh, but the thing with webinars is it’s not about if they’re here to stay or not, because time has shown that people use webinars. The bigger issue with webinars that we see is. They don’t work for most businesses because the content isn’t correct, or the way they’re selling are collecting leads from the webinar is incorrect. You have to give enough information that really educates and helps people out where they’re getting value, but not enough where they don’t want to become a lead or buy your product or service. Right? Because if you overwhelm them, they may not need to buy from you. If you underwhelm them, they may not see enough value from you. And it has to, there has to be direct connection between what you’re presenting on versus what you’re selling. If it’s not tied in, well, it doesn’t work either.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, that I saw Russell Brunson’s recommendation on the perfect webinar where he just highlights three or four points. And that’s it because you don’t want to overwhelm the audience and just lose them entirely.

Neil Patel

Yep. Exactly.

Chris Dreyer

From Clubhouse to TikTok, Neil has dipped his toes into all of the new platforms, but one of his favorite hidden gems is one that everyone’s heard of. And one you’re probably already on.

Neil Patel

I think LinkedIn is one of the best social networks out there, especially if you’re in B2B, uh, people aren’t using it enough to not going live on LinkedIn enough. They’re not putting enough content. LinkedIn also is struggling to get users to post tons of content. It’s only a small percentage of their user base that actually posts content it’s in the single digit percentile. So I would highly recommend that you post content on LinkedIn because they’re starving for it. So when you do post, you’re much more likely to get the shares, the reach, um, and that’s for now that’ll change over time. So might as well go out there and create LinkedIn content while it lasts.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, it reminds me of Facebook back in the day where you can actually, you could actually make a post and get some organic traffic. The, the one thing that just personally that I’m a bit frustrated on is the LinkedIn pulse or the LinkedIn articles. It’s just their, their SEO optimization. You know, the it’s, it’s just not optimized very well for, for organic search. Would you agree, or do you see maybe that changing in the future?

Neil Patel

Yeah, I agree. And I do see that changing in the future.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, absolutely. And Neil, you know, what else, uh, did we not talk about that you would love our audience to know,

Neil Patel

um, you know, w w well, first off, going back to what you just talked about, a lot of things will work right now in marketing and. If you’re trying to succeed as a lawyer, anyone, what works now may not work in the future. And I don’t know what the future is. You don’t know what the future is. No one does, but typically if you can end up. Going out there and making the best of the opportunity. What I mean by that is we have clubhouse. I don’t know what clubhouse is going to do a year from now. I just know you can build up audience really fast on it. We don’t know what LinkedIn is going to do a year from now. Paul’s all this stuff is amazing, but it could change in a year from now. And some of this stuff may not even exist a year from now. I look at it as just go and use all the channels for what they work. And as they adapt experiment, adapt with them and be ready for the change. And that’s actually the biggest thing that we’re seeing. People make a mistake on in which I hear all the time. People say, Oh, Google’s taking away more clicks for me. That’s not fair. You don’t have to be on Google. You don’t have to have your content index be appreciative for the traffic they’re driving in the first place. If you don’t want to, someone will take your spot. You know? Oh, Facebook isn’t giving me the shares anymore. Like they used to we’ll use it while they can go on TikTok. I see lawyers on TikTok, generating businesses from it for things like personal injury, auto insurance, not auto auto injury, stuff like that. Right. Use these channels while they last use them, while they’re willing to give you the organic reach. And if they don’t, don’t complain about it, be willing to adopt with them. And that’s where I think people are making the mistake in which they’re like, Oh, I want to just get my rankings on Google. I want to use Facebook. And I expect them to give me all this love and help me make a ton of money. Forever are businesses too. I can say, Hey. You know, you’re a lawyer, you’re here to help people. You pass your bar exam, help people for free and help everyone because they can’t afford it. And they deserve your services. Look, you’re going to do what’s right for you. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with it, Google’s going to do what’s right for them, whether you agree with it or disagree with them. And you got to figure out how to make the best of the marketing world. And the marketing role is consistently changing. Google’s doing over eight algorithm changes a day on average, maybe even nine plus a day on average. But when you look at this as take whatever, you can get adapt and be okay with it. And that’s the reality.

Chris Dreyer

Wow. I love how specific and actionable Neil’s advice is, like what he said about using heat maps and how they can apply to UX and design. This is definitely an episode to bookmark and come back to again and again, I’d like to thank Neil Patel from Neil Patel Digital for sharing a story with us, and I hope you gained some valuable insight from the conversation. You’ve been listening to the rankings podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you like this episode, or have an idea for a future guests, whose story you’d love to hear, leave a review and let me know. I’ll catch you next week with another inspiring story and some SEO tips and tricks all with page one in mind.

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