39. Ross Hudgens, Siege Media – SEO-Based Content Marketing Strategies

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Listen to this episode of The Rankings Podcast with Chris Dreyer as Ross Hudgens, the Founder and CEO of Siege Media, shares his expertise on SEO-based content marketing for personal injury lawyers. Ross reveals his top tips for link building, the tools he uses to gauge the social success of a topic, and why you should optimize your pages for long-term outcomes. Stay tuned.

Transcript

Prologue

Welcome to The Rankings Podcast where we feature top founders, entrepreneurs and elite personal injury attorneys and share their inspiring stories. Now let’s get started with the show.

Chris Dreyer

Chris Dreyer here, CEO and Founder of Rankings.io where we help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings. You’re listening to The Rankings Podcast where I feature top business owners, SEO experts and elite personal injury attorneys. I’m excited to have Ross Hudgens on the show today, Ross is the Founder and CEO of Siege Media, an SEO-focused content marketing agency. Siege Media specializes in best in class content using parallax animations, design and they even have an in house photo studio. Their elite services have earned them an Inc. 5000 placement for the past three years. Ross Welcome to the show.

Ross Hudgens

Thanks for having me, Chris, excited to be here.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I’m excited to have you on here and talk SEO and and talk about link building. But to get things started, you know, how did Siege Media come about? Like, where did you get the idea to create Siege Media?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, I was originally in house at a company that made insurance and mortgage type websites and was kind of running that as an SEO manager and, and, and was blogging on the side that kind of helped me get some clients. I knew that was gonna be good for me long term, just from a personal brand standpoint, something positive would come from doing that. Got some clients and then ended up having a boss who micromanage me. And I decided quit and turned out my focus was always kind of on link building. We had these smaller websites. So that’s kind of where my mind went. I was blogging on on my personal blog, that kind of get started giving me some chops of like, what resonates How does this work and it actually was perfectly Timing is back in the day. linkbuilding was pretty shady here in terms of like not being real marketing for companies, and you buy links and things like that easy an article, yes, spin articles and did a lot of that or just spin 10 articles and submitted two article directories today is one thing. And yeah, that kind of thing set the stage for a perfect transition, where the world of SEO started to change. And I was perfectly at the right point to kind of like, ride that wave. And so we kind of have led, leaned into content marketing side of SEO and kind of how Google has evolved with it. And that’s kind of where we are today.

Chris Dreyer

I love that you have a not only focus on SEO, but you have a really an expertise in link building. And I really want to dive into that really deep, because it’s so different what you guys do compared to a lot of SEO agencies, even our ourselves you Your link building tactics are unique. So for those of you who don’t know, what is Siege Media, what does Siege Media do?

Ross Hudgens

Good question. So we, the way I define it is we do any kind of content marketing that helps SEO. So SEO is definitely our focus, we hope the second secondary parts of that, but we can build top middle or bottom funnel content that ties the search volume. And we can also, as you mentioned, promote it. So we’ll do a lot of email outreach, with the aim of helping any of those three rank typically top funnel will have the ability to promote it because it’s not as commercial. So we do a lot of email outreach tied to those assets. And we were we do that through high quality content. So we have almost half of our team, our content designers, we have a graphic design staff of like 30 to 40 people now and also photographers as you touched on videographers, animators, pretty much anything you can think of And yeah, our process is to build links through high quality content hosted on site. And increasingly, we all are doing a lot of search volume, trying to help our clients generate more links, not just build them through those top funnel assets that they can rank for.

Chris Dreyer

That’s one of the things I really like about what you do is you’ll create an asset and after you do this outreach, it may continue to build links for for a year for years. And so let’s take a let’s take a Chicago personal injury law firm. And let’s say you’re going to do a top of the funnel type of piece to try to be that link acquisition play. What would be like a an example maybe that comes to mind that you might try?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, I guess it depends on what their their offering is specifically, but I’ve seen in personal injury. An example would be like drunk driving statistics, is you have something that ties to your service areas and Maybe there’s data people are trying to search for, around those concepts that reporters and bloggers were often look for to fill in our articles. So in your in those cases for personal injury, you’d see like Motorcycle Accident statistics, or maybe it’s just motorcycle statistics period, because you know, someone rides a motorcycle all the time. They could be top of mind for them. You could also get very specific with Chicago like Chicago, it’s probably more long tail, but hopefully very relevant Chicago. I don’t know, Chicago statistics or Chicago injury statistics, things like that are common things that have passed the Wink opportunity, and I think could make sense for some of those law firms.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I completely agree. And especially about the statistics, I find myself wanting to include more and more statistics on every page, because it gives the webmasters something to link to, as opposed to just being a sales page where they don’t work. Nobody ever wants to link to a sales page. Let’s jump back into your services. So I really need to focus that they’re completely different for our audience that’s listening. Most tactics are, hey, let’s contact a webmaster try to guess post contribute content to them. Or let’s, let’s go find a directory and niche your local directory and felt the directory submission. And, to me, a lot of those things aren’t scalable, and they don’t really create a gap because they’re easily they’re easy to replicate. My competitor can go out and do those very easily. So how are your link building services different than those traditional methods?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, we’re continually evolving. So we’ve been doing more of those top funnel assets that passively acquire links. But you’re probably the first one I’ve talked to you about this, but we’re, we’re continuing to change and one of the things we’re going to start doing more is completely lean into the long term. So our goals is to communicate to clients We’re playing, we’re gonna build a few more of those drunk driving statistics posts, or find what those opportunities are that can pass, we acquire links and play like a real long game, to build them an engine of link generation versus the one off manual outreach. And a lot of people do that. And in some industries, I’m sure, in law, it is more applicable just by the nature of there being finite opportunities around those things. But there are some there definitely are some, but for many of our clients or potential clients, we ran some analysis of stuff that was live 12 to 18 months, at 12 to 18 months after we published it. And we we saw just sharp acceleration and links and the cost per link was really, really low as compared to what we were marketing it as. And we realized, hey, we should be instead communicating this whole thing as a long game because the clients get more value out of it. We shouldn’t be optimizing for that one month, Link tolls, or we’re going to hurt ourselves in the long game. So we’re That’s how we think about it now is like, how do we create marketing engine for our clients? And yes, there’s manual outreach through that hosted content and quality content that we’re pitching. But we’re kind of more and more optimizing for that long term outcome.

Chris Dreyer

So you led me right into my next question I had, which was going to be about costs and time associated because with guest posting, you guest post, you get one link directory submission. It’s one link. How, what is this engine that you’re talking about? How does how does it continue to build links over time?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, so one of the things we look at is just the referring domain graph of many of the assets that are ranking for something. So for example, I was just looking at love coupons that might not be very applicable to law firms. But you look at the velocity graph of people ranking for that. And it’s just slowly accruing liking rankings over time, or links over time. So if we identify those things, We can plug in a ton of a lot of those together and start building compounding value for our clients, I feel like I lost my train of thought of your original question or, you

Chris Dreyer

know, just just thinking from a cost perspective, because a lot of times you’re you get a you pay x labor, whether it’s three or 400 bucks for one guest post, and what you’re producing may cost a lot more up front to produce such an asset, but it just, it’s just going to keep generating links over time and, and over time, it’s going to be significantly

Ross Hudgens

more about exactly so that, Thanks for clarifying that. With the analysis we did was we ran that and we saw, we saw many examples that have clients, we’ve actually got in the 150 to 200 range in cost per link, lifetime effective cost per link. And we had been communicating to the clients, hey, it’s gonna cost you around 800 to 750 per link because we were so focused on that month, but if you find the right topics that have that total opportunity, and you think about What is this in full, like an 1818 month reasonable view. If you think about it in that way, you’re gonna get much better return. And we realize that and looking at our math of like, hey, the actual outcome can be 150 to 200. For these, it’s not every industry like, again, law firm, I was probably not feasible for that to happen. But in some, like we have some in lifestyle or things like that. I think it’s more possible. And I do think in every industry thinking this way is a smart one to drive down. Expected number that you might get.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Because there’s no momentum effects from a guest post. You get a guest post your entire energy’s depleted and then you have to go to the next one where you can kind of build up this momentum this compounding effect. So that brings me to my next question, which is an average every SEO experts a little bit different here. So what do you think? Feel are the components of a good backlink.

Ross Hudgens

This is another reason not to beat it into the floor. But another reason I love the passive strategies, it’s organic like by nature, you’re not controlling it. So if you have control over a guest post, you are at some risk of like this is actually what Google wants. The passive strategy, I think, without a doubt is you have no fear of Google ever looking at that, and penalizing you for something that people naturally link to you over time. So natural is a component. high authority is definitely a good component. But the way we’ve trained our team is look at the quality of the website rather than an arbitrary domain authority metric. Because if it is a nice looking site, like you mentioned, your new law for agency arm that you’re potentially launching. Looks nice. I imagine the authority I haven’t checked it is not super Today, but it will be high because you do good marketing. And I know you will crew that over time. So if someone was like, I have to have a domain authority of 60, they would have completely missed the boat there. So it’s kind of a qualitative thing. And we do still report on those numbers and say we’re on average going to get this, but we’re not going to say, hey, let’s set an arbitrary line in the sand of 35. And never go below that, or that’s how we think about it anyways.

Chris Dreyer

And I think one of the frustrating parts of being an SEO expert is having to report on that because everyone’s been coached through to they’ve read on a blog that they need to look at these metrics. So when you don’t include them, they’re like, Where are they? And then you have to educate them on Well, what is actually a good link so that that’s a whole different kind of story there. You mentioned one thing topics. So picking the right topic is incredibly important for any type of virality. Any type of piece that Going to have a linkable component is are there any tools that you use maybe to gauge the social success or the virality? of a topic?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, we, it’s a mix, we use Buzzsumo for social shares. The strategy I just touched on kind of our go to now is Ahrefs top pages. And that’s different than Ahrefs Best Buy links, because you might have some concept that goes viral, but you can’t. You can’t do anything with that information. But you can if I see that you’re ranking for SEO law firm statistics as a term and you’re has search volume and you have a ton of links to that on top pages. I reasonably can leverage that to for my own strategy should I believe I can out execute that which I I’m sure I can’t because you’re such an expert on law, but hypothetical. top pages Ahrefs is what we love using they’re definitely Google Trends. All those things, but we’re looking at links social proof, social proof, even Reddit upvotes, we’ll use our times as validation. But increasingly with this strategy, really loving hrs top pages section with links as a variable that we’re looking at.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I think that’s really important. So you could go find a good topic on Reddit or, or Buzzsumo. But then you plug it in to see if it actually has the ability to attract links. So I think it’s kind of a two pronged approach. I think that’s really smart. So we’ve talked about kind of, you know, how to pick a viral topic. We’ve talked a little bit about the difference between your link building topic approach versus others and the components of good links. So I’m going to ask you kind of the broad question here. If we were going to give the 80/20 DIY version to a personal injury attorney trying to do this for themselves. What would be your recommendation?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, I think going to ahrefs some Thinking about your industry and vertical and looking at comparable sites or publishers that maybe have top funnel or middle funnel concepts that you think you can rank for and look at the links to those assets, and see if you can comparatively do a better job than them. I think that’s one of the skyscraper technique. Many people have heard of it. It has its failed abilities if you do it wrong, but the whole idea is you have to be able to execute this from a content standpoint. So look at comparable industries, or maybe publishers as well, like if you are specialized in motorcycle injury, maybe there’s something with a motorcycle actual magazine that would be relevant for you. Even though it’s not traditional law. There’s still something there that you could look in that list and out execute, hopefully with your own expertise of what you know about personal injury. And then you will need to apply a component and in content marketing world today of probably hiring a good designer, hiring a good front end develop etc to put that together, that’s all going to be a component that you might need.

Chris Dreyer

I think those are incredible suggestions. And then, you know, if they look at those top pages, I think most attorneys are just looking at the practice area pages, they’re just looking at those big bottom of the funnel money pages, I think, correct me if I’m wrong, what you’re referring to is, Hey, don’t just look at those bottom of the funnel pages. Look at the top of the funnel, look at the middle of the funnel, the pages that have a lot of links, is that correct?

Ross Hudgens

That is correct. And one thing we do as well as part of our strategy that you can apply is when pitching these assets that are top funnel, if it’s time to that, that practice page, you might be able to get a link to that as well a percentage of the time by because it’s relevant enough. It’s not weird to ask that blogger reporter to change the link to your new page. And we’ve had success in doing that. And worst case, you’re building topic authority, you hopefully internally link as well. And of course, raising whole domain will happen if that’s done accurately too.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, that’s that’s a great piece of advice as well. So let’s shift over kind of personal development. Are there any business or marketing books that come to mind that you recommend?

Ross Hudgens

Yeah, let’s see top of mine there. What I have I’ve been reading recently. I guess it’s timing off the top of mind for me and today, like Black Lives Matter and things like that. I’ve been growing as a co owner and a founder and entrepreneur, by reading white fragility, highly recommend that it basically talks about the different ways that unconscious bias and racism actually factors into how we work. I personally want to build a more diverse company than I do today. And that’s been has always been top of mind but obviously became increasingly Top of Mind as it as it should have been in the last couple months. So that is record minute reading to me, especially for any white founders that I’ve been thinking about these things. I really love that book I read in like two days. Next. What else is top of mind? The hard things about hard things. There’s this common one is a fair thing that I just listened to on repeat on occasion. Don’t hurt me, I believe is another one. You can’t hurt me is that

Chris Dreyer

a David Goggins? Goggins

Ross Hudgens

yelling that it’s not business necessarily, but just in terms of like motivation and you think your life is tough, like, does not compare what to what that guy’s overcome. That that’s something that’s definitely a good one. Have you read that one?

Chris Dreyer

I haven’t. But But I heard him speak at a local at a conference in Atlanta, the Crisp Summit and he was awesome. He was very motivational. What about mentors or influences? Do you have any coaches, any anybody you’re working with the Gotta keep

Ross Hudgens

I don’t that is top of mind in terms of very formalized in formalized I’ve always really appreciated and looked up to Will Reynolds will I think runs AMC like I would want to run it and he’s always been gracious with his time anytime I’ve had a question he’s obviously gone through a lot of the things he’s like 20 year agency owner I think I don’t know exactly how many years this year has been going out but he’s done it all. So I think highly of him an agency owner, that or business owner I think can learn from from from him. Like a great tip as top of mine was even shared after like he’s like, shared in our slack all the time. today. He was like good managers should realize that your goal is to be liked. So you have to sometimes you have to achieve your goal is you have to achieve a goal and not just have the goal be to be Like sometimes you have to sometimes say things that people aren’t gonna like is a manager and especially someone who’s grown from within and has peers that they’re friends with. It can be a difficult thing to overcome that hurdle doesn’t mean be mean. But I think it was a nice little statement that he shared on LinkedIn today that you just can’t, you have to think past that. And I’ve been, I’ve been wrong about that in the past, personally, where I’ve been, you kind of like really want to help someone with someone something and then that kind of delays your total business outcome because of that, in the aim of being too nice.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I think that ran radical candor is important, but it’s incredibly difficult. I think. Probably every business owner is maybe held on to an employee or not coached them up maybe a little longer than you should have before having that really candid conversations. That’s a great piece of advice. Ross Oh, hey, one final question. Here. Is there anything that you want to talk about that we haven’t discussed?

Ross Hudgens

I don’t think so you can tell that passive link side of things is definitely top of mind. In general, I would ask people to start thinking that way is been aha for me in the last couple of weeks is why aren’t we long term focus with links? We’re long term focus with search. But somehow we’re like looking really aggressively for link numbers that first couple months. And that’s probably leading us the wrong path. So I think the more the industry can change their thinking there, the better off we’ll be. I think it’s also the kind of links Google wants to so I think we’re solving for everything by doing that.

Chris Dreyer

I couldn’t agree more. I think so I think otherwise, you put all invest all this content on your on your site and then an external backlink profile, it’s unnatural, it just gets you in a lot of trouble. And guys, we’ve been talking to Ross Hudgens, CEO and Founder of Siege Media Ross, where can people go to learn more?

Ross Hudgens

There this check out Siegemedia.com our blog YouTube channel republishing pretty frequently. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m sharing content there and adding more depth to a lot of stuff we talked about today.

Chris Dreyer

Awesome. Thanks so much, Ross

Ross Hudgens

Thanks for having me

Conclusion

Thanks for listening to The Rankings Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

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