We Discuss Link Building Connected To SEO

Jamar Ramos is the next generation of Black tech minds to see me in a position of power, running a successful digital marketing agency, and know they can do the same. Hell, that they can do BETTER. If you’d like to be an ally in that, look at your hiring practices. Look internally and find the Black women and men working for you. Take them to lunch and ask how they’re doing. Find out if they know any other Black women and men who they feel belong in tech. Hire those people. It’s not that hard to get diversity in tech. You don’t need a fancy Head of Diversity and Inclusion to do it. You just need to open your eyes and mind to the possibility your hiring has excluded Black women and men.

Black trans women and men matter. Black women and men matter. Black boys and girls matter.

Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic podcast where each week Jonathan and his co-host interview the leading experts in WordPress, e-learning, and online marketing. Jonathan, take it away.

Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Show, it’s episode 665, yes the episodes are flying. And we’ve also come to the end of January 201, it’s quite amazing listeners and viewers. We’ve got a great guest with us, we’ve got Jamar Ramos from Crunchy Links, I just love that Crunchy Links. I’m going to let Jamar introduce himself quickly so if you could just give us a quick twenty-second intro and then we’ll go into the main part of the show.

Jamar Ramos: All right, I’m Jamar Ramos; I’m the Chief Operating Officer for Crunchy Links, a digital marketing agency. What does a Chief Operating Officer do, is the question that I get a lot and it’s basically that I do everything that my other co-founders don’t want or can’t do hence the operation part.

We use Asana as our task tracker and so I’m the one that makes sure that all the tasks are up to date, that the boards are clean, that our individual clients if they like that the boards look a little bit different, for how they like to structure their work and make sure that it looks different for them and just making sure that everything that we’re doing for our clients is the best that we can be doing.

Taking all their feedback and making sure that we’re updating our systems because I think that as an agency grows that’s the thing that falls by the wayside a lot is making sure to scale up and change your processing’s. Just because it worked yesterday doesn’t mean that it’s going to work today or tomorrow.

Jonathan Denwood: And I’ve got my great co-host, Steven. Steven, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?

Steven Sauder: Yeah. My name is Steven Sauder, I’m from zipfish.io; we make WordPress fast by optimizing the code and also the servers that run the code.

Jonathan Denwood: So, in this episode, we’re going to be talking about communication, about why when you bring in a specialized SEO agency why communication can break down and why it’s important not to let that happen. And we’re also going to be talking about the latest trends, and authorities basically it’s going to be a feast around SEO. But before we go into the main part of the show I just want to talk about one of our great sponsors and that is Kinsta Hosting.

Kinsta Hosting is a specialized WordPress hosting provider, they have been hosting the WP-Tonic website for the past couple of years, and they’re just fantastic. So, if you’re looking for a real quality specialized WordPress hosting provider for yourself or for your clients, you should really go to Kinsta and have a look at their packages. And I suggest that you should buy one and if you do that please do the show and Kinsta a great favor and tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic Show.

So, Ramos, I think when we were doing our pre chat one of the things that you brought up was communication. So obviously this is in your mindset so you were saying that in a lot of circumstances communication between a specialized SEO agency that might be brought in and its internal development department isn’t always the greatest. What do you think are some of the key things that lead to that and some of the things that can be done to avoid that?

Jamar Ramos: It becomes a problem of group thinking because SEOs sort of sit together whatever department that they’re attached to they all sit together, they talk together, they read the same things, they follow the same people, they talk smack about the same people within the industry. We get to this point where we think because we know it and put it out there that everyone else must know it, they must understand it, they must get it and that’s a problem of ego. And when I’m talking about ego SEOs I’m also talking about myself.

I used to have the same problem where because I thought, oh, I got into it and I learned it and it’s easy for me to do; these devs who have this vast wealth of knowledge and this whole other language that I can’t possibly understand must easily get the concepts that I’m talking about because they’re super simple. Not realizing that just like athletes, athletes spend 10, 15, 20 years sculpting something in one thing.

And then we were, well, William Faulkner why don’t you know this Shakespearian sonnet and it’s like, while you were reading sonnet 1:16, I was learning how to bash this dude’s head in and grab the football, so excuse me. So, we need to get to that point and realize that we’re sculpting a singular focus within ourselves; if we want other people to help us, get our focuses and help companies, help websites, help blogs, help podcasts get seen.

We have to explain to them how it works, why it works, what’s going to work tomorrow, and how it’s going to help them do their job better and eventually get seen, get heard, maybe get a raise, get a promotion because we work on this big project together and it was a windfall for the company.

Jonathan Denwood: I think that on reflection really before I turn it over to Steven. It’s the same thing with other specialties, UX Designing General they also sometimes have communication problems with development teams don’t they? So, I think that this concept or problem that you’re trying to put forward doesn’t only apply to your own specialty. It could apply to many specialties, can’t it?

Jamar Ramos: Yeah. There’re so many that people don’t understand, there was this argument that was going on, on Twitter yesterday about site speed and how SEOs now think that site speed is just like the end-all-be-all and that we put it at the tip-top of any audit that we do. And someone was asking why that is and I made a comment because a couple of years ago someone made mention that you lose x percentage of people from your website for every additional second that it takes to load. And people went crazy about that and then they got stuck there.

And that’s great; yes you want a fast website but if nothing else about your website is optimized and it looks crappy you’re giving them a fast experience to a crappy website, so how great is that?

Jonathan Denwood: Very wise words, over to you, Steven.

Steven Sauder: Frist question; I have to know, why are the links crunchy?

Jamar Ramos: So, one of my co-founders, Jack and I, we’re really big into anime and so there is a website called Crunchyroll where you can go subscribe and get all the anime and everything. And so, we took part of that and put that in the front and then links because originally Jack when he started this whole idea was something different where it was going to be about finding backlinks and helping people get more links to their website.

So, that’s where the links came from and then when I joined up I said, well, I hate trying to get backlinks I don’t think that is going to be scalable for us so let’s try and move into different services. And we kept the name because once you have the name you’re good, don’t change up the name because then you have to worry about branding and it’s weren’t you this before and then you have to spend so much time explaining, yes we were this before but now we’re this and then you get lost in the weeds with that.

Steven Sauder: Yeah and the name’s awesome, it’s a name that sticks in your mind I don’t know, I’ve probably run across a thousand different SEO agencies during my work. But when I saw your name come across that we’re going to have this conversation it’s like, oh, I’ve definitely heard about these guys before because it’s a cool name, I like it, it sticks with you. So, you’ve talked a little bit about communicating internally between agency departments and the client and stuff like that.

So, this is what I think is a huge problem in the SEO industry right now, is what does that even need. People come to me all the time and they know that I do websites and stuff, we don’t really specialize in SEO, of course, that’s like you want to make sure that a site is up to a certain standpoint but we’re not the experts that can tell you exactly what needs to happen. But people are who are like, hey I need SEO on my website and to them, that means that they want to rank on the first page of Google and they’re like, hey, can you do this?

And this is like everybody and their mother is doing SEO work, you could find somebody to hop on and do freelance stuff. So, how do you know the difference between the real guys and the charlatans? What does SEO really need, is it just adding some meta tags in and you’re good to go? Is it a whole content strategy? Is it a whole marketing plan? What does that mean when somebody wants to improve their SEO?

Jamar Ramos: Well, for us it could mean almost a large number of things. So, what we do is before you become a client with us we have a three-part process. First is the discovery call, we don’t have any pitches, we don’t bring any money, we don’t tell you this is what we charge, this is how we’re going to work, or whatever. We just want to talk to the person, we want to figure out what is there goal besides money of course because everyone’s end goal is I want to sell and I want to get money.

But where are you, are you an early state start-up, are you just after you’re A or B series funding and you’re just now getting kick-started, you don’t have the money to get a whole marketing team but you want someone to help you market, or are you a big fish but your website just started tanking for different reasons. We brought on someone who is a big fish in their industry but because of the way that they were doing things before they got slapped by a Google penalty.

So, now we have to figure out how to help them get out of that penalty, get them back to where they were pre penalty and then start taking them to where they should’ve been had they not been slapped before. So, for us that’s discovery call is to figure out, okay, what do you need from us and people come and say we need SEO but oftentimes they don’t actually need SEO. Right now what they need is maybe content, they need local SEO, they need affiliate help, they need PPC management and then you can start doing things in SEO that will work.

Because SEO isn’t just I have a new website, I do some SEO and then my website is great, no you have to do other things and pull other levers, or else you are just going to reach a plateau that you’re never going to get above. And maybe you’re happy with that plateau but where is the next peak that you could’ve gotten to had you said, okay, let’s layer on a thousand dollars a month starting off on PPC. If it worked let’s go two thousand dollars that way SEO and PPC work together and then as you’re SEO starts climbing with your PPC you can turn down those PPC dollars.

Or spread them in other ways; start taking brand share from other places where you can get it. So, that’s what the discovery call is, and then once we understand what their goals are that’s when we come back with the pitch, okay, this is what you said that you needed from us, this is what we saw in an audit, this is what we think is going to work. And we usually give them three tiers of plans for all the stuff that we want to do for you and this is what it’s going to cost.

For the mid-level of things that we can do for you, this is what it’s going to cost, if you just want a little bit here it is; so that way people that are price conscious still get the help that they need. But we don’t sort of push them away with the price point that scares them. Let me go ahead and turn on some light because I just realized how dark it’s now getting.

Jonathan Denwood: It looks like you’re in witness protection actually. There you go, oh, yes that’s a lot better.

Steven Sauder: So, if somebody comes to you and they want to rank on the first page of Google for whatever search term. Is content something that has to be done? Is that something that somebody should always have in the back of their head that if I want to rank I have to have content or are there ways that you don’t have to keep producing blog articles or weekly content type stuff that you can rank?

Jamar Ramos: No, usually what we do is especially for early-stage start-ups we tell them instead of trying to do a lot of blog content do FAQs. Start answering questions not only about your nation, your industry but who you are as a company; put the who you are as a company FAQs on your homepage. And then each service page or each product page do FAQs around that and around the people.

So, if you’re in Thin Tech and you’re doing Bitcoin talk about the different types of coins, talk about how people can start to get invested, build out a calculator that says if from this day you had invested $10 dollars in Bitcoin you would now have this much. So, you can start gamifying, you can get people interested in it in multiple different ways at multiple touchpoints. And then when you have landing pages for your products talk about the product, don’t just say it’s the best, the top most innovative, okay, that’s great, why?

What problem is it? And also sometimes I don’t need the best to top the most innovative; I need what’s going to work for me. Maybe I don’t want Colgate because it’s the best, I like Crest because they have something for my sensitive gums. So, the top doesn’t actually work for me, I need what’s best for me and I tell people if they want to rank number one for every term that’s a stupid thing. Sometimes you don’t need to and want to rank number one like for us we rank number three right now for the term, ned tech digital agency.

I’m fine with number three, I’m probably never ever, ever going to beat out number one and number two so I can take that time and put it into other pages like our cybersecurity page which is ranking I think in the 80s for the keyword. Now I can start doing other things getting people to understand we have that service as well. What content can I put around that to get that ranking better; I’d rather try to get on the first or second page than anything.

Plus number one in organic searches is not really number one anymore because you’ve got all the ads, you’ve got the local pack, you’ve got the people also asked questions that come before you. So, you’re number one sometimes it looks like number nine on the search so let me get you number one for that keyword but what is it really doing for you.

Steven Sauder: Yeah, you bring up a really interesting point on how as Google has evolved they’ve kind of kept buried the organic search type stuff. What are your thoughts around that, Google moving more into a quick question-answer or pulling in those others, I forget the technical term for it, but those content modules above actual pages that you can click through too?

Jamar Ramos: It’s Google’s prerogative to do it that’s why I tell people, Google don’t love you Google love your money. Google doesn’t love us; Google does what it needs to do to make the money that it makes and so I forgive them for that’s who they are and they’ve changed and they’ve made no secrets about it. It’s just that some people don’t see it they want to pretend that Google is still the do no harm people and they removed that many, many, many years ago.

So, if you look at some of the search features, you look at some of the things that are service, you start typing in certain phrases and you see the auto-suggest, and sometimes what it suggests you can start seeing that Google isn’t always about our best interest. Whether it’s individuals searching, whether it’s people working in digital marketing, whether it’s the companies trying to provide the best information. Which is why I tell people just continue to provide the best information for your clients, your customers, your users, people searching for that information.

Eventually, Google will get it right if they start seeing that there is money in what you’re doing. They’ll accidentally stumble onto doing the right thing you just have to keep doing the right thing and when there’s money involved they’ll start surfacing.

Steven Sauder: Yeah, cool. Jonathan back to you.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, we’re going to go for a break and when we come back we’re going to be delving and asking some questions about link building. So, please stay with us we’ll be back in a few moments

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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back; we’ve had a fantastic discussion this first half with Jamar Ramos. He’s putting up with my terrible pronunciation of his names but it doesn’t matter the main thing he’s got a fantastic company name, Crunchy Links, I just love it. So, I have to tell you we as a company invested quite a bit of money in content production video articles and it’s one of the main driving forces of getting quality leads for my business.

But I must say that I think on a daily basis that I must have two to three people email me out of the blue asking for links saying that they could improve a particular article if I would allow guest blogging if they could pay me for an article. And I’ve got to tell you that I don’t reply to I would say ninety-nine percent of these outreaches, I just don’t respond to them. So, (A), how important is link building in this new year? And secondly, can you give us some insights into how your own agency deals with external link building? Do you mind doing that?

Jamar Ramos: No, of course. And apologies to all link builders out there I respect what you do, I know that it has value; I just loathe it because there’re a lot of bad actors and clients are still in the 2012 mentality pre-Penguin, pre Panda about just links, links, links. And with our agency, we tell you that we’re going to reach out to a certain amount of people we don’t promise any number of links, because as I tell clients, I can email a thousand website owners.

I can ask them for links, I can give them your best piece of content, I can optimize, I can do all one thousand of them specialty, do research around the webmasters and make sure that each one is targeted and personalized for them. And then the control is out of my hands it is up to them to see the email, open the email, check their spam or junk email to find it because nine times out of ten it’s going there and then on them to respond and then once they’ve responded it’s also on them to put the link there.

So, how many of those steps did I just outline that are on someone else to handle versus me? So, for me backlinks in my mind is I want to create the best content we can; I want to make sure that it is helpful and when it is helpful like when you guys had on John Lok I want to say sometime last year.

Jonathan Denwood: Yes and John recommended you for the show actually.

Jamar Ramos: Yeah, exactly and he found one of our pieces because we follow each other on Twitter and he talked about it there. That’s how I want to get my backlinks, I want my content to be so helpful and helpful that someone finds it and then shares it and I get that backlink. Then other people see it, they share it, then they give backlinks or what I’ve been doing lately is doing things like this. Sharing my expertise on podcasts, doing guest blogging, and trying to make sure that if I’m going to give backlink I need to be providing ninety- nine percent of the value to get that backlink.

Because I don’t want to be selfish trying to get a backlink that is only going to help me and doesn’t help the other person. I want to be a good steward of digital marketing and I want to make sure that for every ten bad actors out there in our space that I’m a good actor. And we start pushing those people out and people understand, you know what? I should work with Crunchy Links or some agencies that are like-minded instead of going to this person over here.

That’s how we start routing out the charlatans, that’s how we start showing that we provide value is just being honest, being open, and sharing our information. On our blog every piece that I’ve written I’ve given basically how Crunchy Links does things and how I do things because the only thing that’s different out there is you can get all my knowledge, you can get it off my information, what I offer personally is the differentiator when we’re working with the client.

And some edge case happens, you can’t go search out a digital marketing SEO for this edge case and find a way to get out of it. You have to have strategic partners who understand your goals and your business and can take tactics, and strategize them for how your business works and your particular problem to fix your particular problem. Best practices are best practices for yes, eight percent of the people, what about that twenty percent?

What about a new business that’s coming up like this what is it Chathouse, Clubhouse, what is that thing? How do you do SEO for a whole new digital marketing scheme, how do you do it? You don’t know, you just have to build it.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, but before I put it over to Steven. What I think that you’re saying basically. Is that just kind of cold outreach around link building you don’t think that basically works now. And I agree with you because I think if you have a backlink from a really high ranking domain it can make a big difference. But the chances without some prior relationship between that influencing domain or individuals, there’s either a company or individual behind that high ranking domain.

The chances of you getting unless you go through an agency that’s built up a relationship with that high ranking domain or you have a direct relationship yourself. The chances of you getting a piece on there is pretty practically zero, would you agree with that comment?

Jamar Ramos: Yeah. They are fielding so many other more important things, so as I said, you have to offer them the value. So, if you want, I used to work in lead generation, working with for-profit education centers, and so they wanted .edu backlinks. And so, what I did was I started emailing education centers, started emailing colleges, universities, trying to interview some of the people that work there, educators, deans, admissions officers, trying to get information about if you want to be a student and sign up.

Okay, what is it, and how do you fill out your admissions form? How do you write the best essay to stand out and everything; provide value that way, and then those schools took those pieces and shared them, provided us links because it was ego bait, their educator is being talked about here. So once again, provide value, give them a reason for the backlink outside of, hey, I saw your top 10, blah, blah, blah, I think it would be great if you replaced this person, our competitor with us. Okay, but where’s the value for them?

Jonathan Denwood: Now I think that a lot of people just don’t think that way, do they? Over to you, Steven.

Steven Sauder: I really love how you kind of position just do quality work and add value, and the results will come. If you’re providing better content, better answers, more informative answers to questions, Google’s going to realize that other people are going to realize that and start linking back to you. But I feel one of the hardest things to do when you’re providing a lot of value is that it feels like you’re giving away the value that you provide as an organization. Do you get a lot of pushback from clients that are like, no, that’s the secret sauce, man, we can’t talk about that?

Jamar Ramos: You do, but I tell them always, we’re doing the same thing, I’m never going to tell you to do something that I don’t practice myself or that I haven’t tested myself or that I don’t think is a great idea, I’m never going to give you schemes or anything. So, I always tell them, hey, if you don’t believe it works, go check out our blog, check out our website. We’ve only been in business barely two years and some of the keywords that we’re ranking for are pretty awesome and they’re helping us. And so, I practice what I preach.

If I’m going to give you a strategy, it’s because I believe in it, and because we have month to month contracts, we’re putting our money where our mouth is. We’re never, ever, ever going to lock you into something that doesn’t work because if we lock you into something and it doesn’t work and you don’t like it, you get to walk away in 30-days. So, why would I put my food, my livelihood at risk, just to try and beat someone for 10 to 15 minutes? No, no, no, no, no, I want to do quality work, it may take a little longer to see the fruit, but when you see the fruit, it’s going to be great fruit.

Steven Sauder: That’s awesome.

Jonathan Denwood: Right, I think that we’ll wrap up the podcast part of the show, half-hour goes really quick. Jamar has agreed to stay with us for another 10, 15 minutes, which you’ll be able to see the whole interview, plus the bonus content on the WP-Tonic YouTube channel. In the bonus content, I’m going to be asking Ramos about the importance of video, YouTube, and also that basically going back to previous articles and how you improve those articles and mythology for that. So, we’re going to be talking some fantastic stuff in the bonus content.

Also before we go, I want to tell you that I’m doing another live webinar with Spencer Forman. We’re going to be talking about how to build a modern marketing funnel using almost free plugins from WordPress and also using his own product LaunchFlows. And it’s going to be also highly about FluentCRM and how you can use that, so it’s going to be a fantastic webinar. That’s going to be on Friday, February the 12th, Friday, the 12th of February, and it’s going to be at 10:30 AM Pacific Standard time.

And to register for this free webinar all you have to do is go to the WP-Tonic website, and in the top menu, it has a button that says webinar, you just click that and you can register. And you’ll be able to join us live and be able to ask me and Spencer Forman, any questions around LaunchFlows, FluentCRM, or how to use WordPress to build a modern-day funnel system, it’s going to be great value. So Jamar, what’s the best way for people to find out more about you and what you’re up to?

Jamar Ramos: If you want to follow the company on Twitter, we are @crunchylink, someone took crunchy links before us. I’m going to find them and I’m going to get that, that’s my life’s wish [Cross-Talking 29:45].

Jonathan Denwood: Oh, that’s a bother, isn’t it?

Jamar Ramos: That’s my life goal, you guys are going to see me on my death bed, and my last words are going to be, but I got crunchy links. If you want to follow me personally, on my personal Twitter account, I don’t do a lot of sharing of marketing stuff; I save that for our company Twitter, but if you want to follow me, I am @jamram33, J A M R A M three, three.

Jonathan Denwood: And what’s the best way that people can find out more about you and your company, Steven?

Steven Sauder: Head over to zipfish.io, run a speed test to see how much faster you can make your website.

Jonathan Denwood: And ZipFish helped the WP-Tonic site become super speedy, we have a lot of plugins and a lot of content slowing the site down and Steve and his crew really helped out and I can’t recommend them more. So, if you’re looking to speed up your website definitely approach Steven and his team. We’ll be back next week with another great guest, another great subject, we’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the WP-Tonic podcast, the podcast that gives you a dose of WordPress medicine twice a week.

Every Friday at 8:30am PST we have a great and hard-hitting round-table show with a group of WordPress developers, online business owners and WordPress junkies where we discuss the latest and most interesting WordPress and online articles/stories of the week. You can also watch the show LIVE every Friday at 8:30am PST on our Facebook WP-Tonic Show page. https://www.facebook.com/wptonic/

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