In this episode, Michael and Chris expand upon E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) covered in the previous episode, focusing on the specific actions a company can take to increase these metrics, such as publishing content on a regular basis, understanding backlinks, and maintaining a strong social media presence.
In this episode, we cover:
How often should a company publish content?
The importance of relying on good writers for text-based content (blogs, service pages, etc.).
The pros and cons of “clickbait” vs. content that converts customers.
What are the benefits of backlinks?
How should a residential or commercial painting business approach links and backlink management?
The inherent value in social media sharing and mentions.
The ongoing importance of email marketing as a channel for direct communication.
For more information on the tools and resources mentioned in this episode, please visit:
Michael Utley: Expertise, authority, and trust raises a lot of questions. How often should you publish? Is it bad when someone clicks the back button and bounces out of your site? Is it good to get other people to link to you, and how do you do it? How should social and email factor in to being an authority in your space? We’re going to talk about all these things, and how to get into doing more with your website to gain more business. Let’s dive in.
Michael Utley: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential, and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from Searchprimer.com, the experts in digital marketing for the trades.
Chris Raines: All right, welcome back to episode 18 of Grow Your Painting Business, the podcast from Searchprimer.com. My name is Chris Raines. I’m joined by Michael Utley as always.
Michael Utley: Hey, Chris.
Chris Raines: How’s it going man?
Michael Utley: Good.
Chris Raines: Good. Well, hey last time we talked about the acronym EAT, which is expertise, authority, and trust, and we’re going to devote some more time to that in this episode, and kind of build from those concepts that we talked about in the last episode. And Michael, we talked about this earlier before we started recording, but when you talk about expertise, authority, and trust, you’re really talking about the entire, all of SEO. This is what Google cares about for anything, every search. They want to list sites that have great expertise, authority, and trust and that’s how you rank.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: That’s why we’re spending a second episode on this. We’re building from what we talked about before.
Michael Utley: Yeah, I can’t think about much that’s not really encompassed by this. Maybe a little bit of website architecture. Maybe you would say page load speed is kind of a separate issue, but I think-
Chris Raines: I don’t know. If you go to a site and it takes 10 seconds to load…
Michael Utley: That doesn’t send a good signal, does it.
Chris Raines: Does that send a signal of expertise and trust to you? You might think, gosh, what’s on this site? Why is it taking so long to load? Is it planting a virus on my…
Michael Utley: Or if you can’t find a phone number on a website. It’s hard to find a real person to talk to.
Chris Raines: Yeah.
Michael Utley: I guess everything really at some point kind of rolls up to EAT.
Chris Raines: Right. Yeah, that’s why Google looks at that stuff and really when we talk about pleasing the search engines, where Google has been headed in the past 10 years and will be headed in the next 10 years is serve the user, serve the user, serve the user. So really when we talk about serving the search engines, we really are talking about serving the users.
Michael Utley: That’s right.
Chris Raines: So let’s dig in and just build on what we talked about last time and Michael, let’s talk about publishing. A lot of people have the question they know they should be producing content that lives on their website to build that authority and trust and so forth, but they don’t know how often they should publish. Do I do a blog every day or do I do one blog a week or one massive blog per month? Talk a little bit about frequency, what Google cares about, and what users care about when it comes to the frequency that you update your content.
Michael Utley: Yeah, and I’ll talk about this a little bit from our experience as practitioners. We’re running typically 20 to 30 different SEO programs across the country in a number of different industries. It’s great to be able to read best practices and I can mention those briefly, but what I really would focus on in answering this is what we see day to day. If we work on a campaign and we’re putting new content on a website every week, we’re often building out all the service pages, all the basic pages of the website to make sure that they have more than the minimum content, and then we’re developing blog posts, case studies, deeper service pages, so sort of third level service pages which I mentioned in the previous episode of this podcast, and a good rule of thumb is that you want to have something hitting every couple of days, and that doesn’t mean just a blog post every day.
Michael Utley: You don’t need the CEO… you don’t need to put a gun to the CEO’s head like 10 years ago and say, “Hey, you’ve got to start blogging.” And they say, “Oh, I don’t really want to. That’s not my passion.” Well you got to do it, you’re the CEO. Well, there are a lot of different ways to do this and we’ll often have writers interview people over the phone and within 10 minutes, they can get the outline of an idea and then enhance that with web research to get some of the details down, but it’s pretty typical for us to lean in the direction of having something new hitting the website at least a couple of times a week and campaigns we’ve done where somebody needed to start really small and maybe it was four blog posts a month or four new pages a month, it’s not even included in our pricing levels on Searchprimer.com because it’s not enough.
Chris Raines: Yeah, and I’ll say that it’s really remarkable to watch someone who is a professional writer. They’re going to be able to produce better content and so much quicker, for people that aren’t writers, you might bang your head against a screen for an hour or two trying to get stuff out and so it’s really so much more efficient to have people in there that love to write and are just practitioners at it. They’re going to get so much further.
Michael Utley: And a lot of executives are verbal, not all of them, some of them do like to write, but they can’t find the time so anytime I find a situation where a company can’t find the time to produce content for their website, we find those people who are verbal and can just talk about what they’re interested in discussing and we depend on them. We lean on them. The ones who really want to go away to the cave and produce something great and it’s going to be this magnum opus, that’s fine, but we can’t let the SEO strategy wait for that.
Chris Raines: Right. Right. A 30-minute call can turn into one to two blog posts in the hands of a good writer.
Michael Utley: That’s right. A good writer, a typical experience for me when I’m being interviewed for content is 10 minutes per topic and I’m generally talking through the hook of what I want to say, I’m talking through three to five supporting bullet points, and I’m pointing them towards places I want them to check and reference and authorities that I want them to reference to check my numbers and check what I’m saying and make sure that everything’s correct and good, but yeah, I can cover a blog post with a writer in 10 minutes very comfortably and know that stuff’s going to get done on schedule.
Chris Raines: Yep. Very streamlined. Okay, let’s talk about probably… we call this click bait. So the idea is don’t title your piece or title the title of your page something that the page can’t itself deliver on. Don’t go for the click at the expense of the read. What do we mean when we say that?
Michael Utley: Yeah. There are a lot of different… I call it empty calories. The sugar lollipop of digital marketing is something that gets a lot of traffic but doesn’t convert anybody. So we don’t recommend tactics like iPad giveaways to get people to sign up for a newsletter. We don’t recommend tactics like headlines that are desperately going to claw people in to the page, and that’s because typically we’re not offering impression based advertising. We don’t have any… I don’t think we have any websites we’re working on where you’re just trying to get somebody’s eyeballs in front of an ad which is why so much of the internet just feels so gross is because it’s all about just getting that click regardless of whether or not the content delivers.
Chris Raines: The Buzzfeedification.
Michael Utley: Yeah, the Buzzfeedification of things like CNN, things like New York Times. I mean every major publication now is kind of subject to this environment. So as companies are becoming publishers and they’re publishing content that’s helpful to their audience, there’s a real temptation to see how things are written in such a way. Now there’s a difference here. I think a really good headline is similar to maybe…
Chris Raines: You can write an enticing headline without being click bait.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: A click bait headline is top ten painting fails, number eight will blow your mind.
Michael Utley: Right yeah.
Chris Raines: Something like that. Let’s talk about writing a headline for a post that is enticing to the viewer but yet the page still delivers on.
Michael Utley: Yeah. For us it always starts with pain point. What’s the pain point the customer has? Typical situation for us might be a roofing company on the East Coast, and they may have a lot of people there because of limited real estate, have bay windows, it’s a way to get a little bit more interior space in a house that’s built on a really small lot because the Northeast is pretty densely populated. So bay windows get leaks, and it’s a pretty hot topic. I was surprised to come across this doing key word research a couple of weeks ago. But yeah, bay windows leaking. A way to deliver on a real pain point is to answer questions. Bay window leaking, what should I do? That’s a great title. That’s a very good title for SEO. I’m kind of cheating it a little bit to get those keywords toward the front. It would read better to say what should I do if my bay window is leaking, but those keywords up front that are bullseye directly relevant to the person, those are both eye catching for humans and because those keywords are showing up earlier in the title, search engines can say we’re pretty sure we know what this page is about. It’s about a bay window leaking.
Chris Raines: Right. And the other thing that under guards all of this is that Google pays attention to click bait and they determine that, Michael, by the use of the back button. Talk to us about what Google is watching when people are interacting with the search results and how they know when something is spammy or doesn’t deliver value?
Michael Utley: Yeah, search engines can see when a page is bounced from immediately.
Chris Raines: Pogo stick bouncing.
Michael Utley: Yeah, yeah. If somebody is going into the page, hit the back button right away, the websites that are trying to get eyeballs on ads are getting paid for that ad being shown regardless of the engagement with the ad or regardless of how long someone’s on the page. So even that one second load benefits them and that’s why we said all the salacious headlines are popular writing style on the internet and sort of effecting mainstream content culture. But doing that for your company website is really bad because you’re increasing your bounce rate. You’re generating a lot of activity to your domain that’s not sustained with engagement and yeah, they can see that. They can see when you follow a link on a search results page and the page loads and you immediately hit the back button, they can see the behavior there and they make… they incorporate that into their rankings.
Chris Raines: Yeah. That’s the signal of this page isn’t valuable. Maybe I should rank this page or the other page or two or three pages ahead of it.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: All right. Great. What do we have next here? Links. Okay. When we talk about… this most comes to my mind when we talk about the trustworthiness. I view links as kind of an online popularity contest. If Google sees a site and a lot of people are linking to it or maybe important people are linking to it, Google will transfer some of that trustworthiness and authority from that, a piece of that, from the site linking to you to you.
Michael Utley: That’s right.
Chris Raines: Links are a big deal. They’re hard to get. Good links are hard to get. So how do you… how should a painting business, a painting contracting business approach links?
Michael Utley: Yeah. We think of this in a handful of different ways, but we can kind of simplify it to three. Really high level opportunities for exposure for the brand. Okay, so say you’re a commercial painting company in Chicago and you win the painting bid to paint… oh, what’s the big tower there?
Chris Raines: Sears?
Michael Utley: Sears Tower. I was thinking about the second one.
Chris Raines: Is it still… Well Sears is the big. It’s not called Sears.
Michael Utley: Well Sears was the biggest tower. It’s the Hancock building. John Hancock building is number two. So say you win a bid. It would not be a bad idea to put out a press release. Now you want to make sure that you’ve got permission from your customer and that it’s appropriate, or you may even want to go in and do a joint sort of thing with other entities. There might be a general contractor involved and some renovations on some big project, and it’s okay to very calmly state in an appropriate way for the media, hey, we won this bid and we’re really excited and this is a great deal.
Michael Utley: That may seem kind of silly, but if it’s something big, say like there’s a full-time team for the Golden Gate Bridge, but we’ve had clients win bids to paint bridges before. This is a landmark that sort of everyone’s familiar with and it’s kind of an item of public note and public record and a standard press release being distributed through PRWeb or any of those tools, that’s a great way to get some links out there that are associated with your brand. So that’s tier number one.
Michael Utley: Tier number two is something we depend on most often and do in all of our content programs. We syndicate business data. We’ll create a clear snapshot of hours, correct addresses, images, other data around each location for a business and we’ll make sure that that’s distributed through all of the best ways of syndicating that to all the hundreds of maps and apps that are out there that collect and use business data.
Michael Utley: This would include things like Yelp, which is a big reviews platform or Yellow Pages or Bing or Bing Maps, but it’s maps and apps data, and making sure that you control, own, and manage and maintain your business data is a really valuable mid tier links tool.
Michael Utley: Now, for businesses that are small and highly relevant to one geographic location, i.e. Charlotte or Nashville, you want to make sure that you’ve got some interaction with your community such that occasionally you’re picking up some links on their website that say, “Hey, the church picnic was awesome. Thank you to… “, this is not a client of ours, but Nash Painting. “Thank you Nash Painting for sponsoring today’s event. We really appreciate it. Check out Nash Painting for all your residential painting needs.”
Chris Raines: Yeah. I have a question there. So say you did that and we know Google indexes every site on the internet that’s public and so how would Google look at it differently if that instance if they linked to Nash Painting and they got the actual link versus is there any value in just the mention?
Michael Utley: Right. I don’t think there’s any value in the mention. I don’t know that for a fact, but there could be with, and things like social media for big brands. I think some of the clients that we work with, I think it gets down into the weeds so much that the brand doesn’t necessarily get the opportunity to benefit from that, but social cues and other areas and brand mentions at a high level for major brands there’s value. There’s a lot of value in getting mentioned and that’s… part of the challenge is you’re kind of going upstream.
Michael Utley: There’s a little bit of a factor of how things get locked in place because you’ve got all these big players, but the good thing about SEO is you can always go and sort of start earning these things one at a time, but yeah, what you really want and what’s really rock solid and works for everybody is to have the link, and even better is if you can get them not just to link… you don’t necessarily want a link that says click here. It would be nice if they linked the words residential painting Nashville instead even of the brand. If I had to choose between the brand and a keyword rich link, I would take the keyword rich link.
Michael Utley: But typically, when we’re kind of hustling to try to track down some good opportunities for leads, we’ll say would you mind linking this entire bit of text? Nash Painting for residential painting in Nashville, Tennessee. That way we’re signaling the search engines that the destination URL is relevant, the destination website is relevant to those keywords. And, because it’s on a different domain, it’s a really great way for websites to see who everybody’s pointing to.
Chris Raines: Yeah, and this other site recognizes me as an authority in this category with these words.
Michael Utley: That’s right. Think about it, if you go to a party and there’s somebody in the corner kind of holding court and there are four or five people standing there listening, okay, this is Mr. Popular. This is the website everybody’s looking at for their information.
Chris Raines: Yeah, that’s kind of a good picture of how Google in that context looks at the internet.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: Okay. Let’s talk about social media. More people are spending time now on social media pages versus search results pages. How does Google look at the activity on those pages? Not all of them are public. If you have a private profile, Google doesn’t have access to that.
Michael Utley: Right.
Chris Raines: But for social media that’s public, how does that factor in? How does Google look at that and how do you take advantage of all the social sites out there to increase your expertise, authority, and trust?
Michael Utley: Yeah. I think it’s a really good idea to use your content, not only to talk about yourself but to talk about other entities. So if you get an opportunity for something like if you’re writing about a project that was recently completed and you partnered with another company, maybe there was an exterior painting project that was completed and there was an awning company that replaced awnings after you completed the exterior painting, and maybe it’s a buddy of yours. Maybe it’s somebody, oh yeah, we know them. They’re in town. Sure. We don’t cross paths with them very often but they do good work and if somebody needed awnings, we’d tell them about them.
Michael Utley: Well, you know what you could do? You could do a little case study and you could even mention them and show some photos of their awnings on your completed exterior commercial space and guess what they’re going to do, they’re going to share that out, not just… maybe on their website, on a blog they may say, “Hey, check out this project we did. They wrote about us.” But especially on their social media channels.
Michael Utley: So those public social media pages, they don’t have a lot of value in terms of getting in front of a lot of eyeballs these days because a lot of… the energy is Facebook and it’s very much pay to play now, but where there are public company pages and those items are shared, whether it’s you shining a spotlight on another company and them sharing that to their audience and being happy to share that or publishing your own content to your own social channels, search engines can see that and that’s a social cue. It indicates there’s some activity and the more that that content is shared with, interacted with, liked, that all sends a message that the domain that’s associated with that page is valuable.
Michael Utley: So we don’t spend a lot of money on content for social, but it’s appropriate to make sure that the content you’re producing for your website is also getting a little bit of a second life by being shared to your social channels. That’s a pretty cost effective way to use social media for SEO without having to expect it to generate business on its own, which is a little bit tough without advertising dollars going into it on social.
Chris Raines: Yeah. One last thing, let’s talk about email. So eventually any good digital campaign is going to involve email. Email is a free channel and it’s the most direct way really that you can communicate with your audience. Going back to expertise, authority, and trust, how does email factor into that equation?
Michael Utley: Yeah. Email is sort of the original social media channel. It’s a way that people get in touch. If you’ve got something that someone should share on their social media channels or that they should discuss on their blog or discuss or forward directly to someone, having it in their inbox is a good way to make sure they know about it. So this goes from newsletters all the way to personal emails. If you have something where you post a blog post on a particular project, email it to the client, email it to people who were involved who were partners on the deal, like the awning example.
Michael Utley: Using email drops it into a convenient location for them to work with the material in a way that they’re extremely comfortable and to make natural connections. What it’s doing is it’s taking the natural human connections of how we interact and making sure that that applies to content on the internet as it’s presented to search engines. So if you want someone to share this with their team via their own website or to sort of receive and mutually express gratitude from their website about a recent project, being talked about is very popular. So if you show people, hey, we’re talking about you and you put it in a format that’s easy for them to forward or easy for them to hit like or share with social media, then it’s really good. And it just doesn’t take much more effort.
Michael Utley: We think of content for the website as the foundation, but there are these other little spokes that are working from the hub. It’s social media, email, and then one that we can talk about another day is video.
Chris Raines: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and we’ve already done an episode on video SEO and you know, I was going to say we could probably do two or three more episodes on this expertise, authority, and trust because it’s such a big topic and if you’re looking to get just a broad, broad overview on everything SEO, soup to nuts, our first three or four… was it four maybe? Our first four episodes, if you go to Searchprimer.com and hit the podcast tab and scroll all the way to the beginning, episodes one through four are just a foundational class really on modern SEO. If you’re interested in diving even deeper into that, check out those episodes.
Chris Raines: Before we go, Michael, we want to tell people about the free website audit. If you’re a painting contracting business owner or really any contractor in the trades and you’re looking to find out how your website is doing versus your competitors and what the possibility potential are, we’re offering a free audit, so Michael tell them about that.
Michael Utley: Yeah. We… typically a first conversation with us, we’ll pull up a domain, run it through a couple of tools that we use, and get people oriented as to how they’re doing and it’s always fun to run a new client’s domain through the tools and then also look at a handful of competitors. It’s fun to sort of see how you’re doing against the competition in terms of things like keywords that are showing up in the top five pages of Google, your rank store, your page speed score for desktop or for mobile, and understanding which keywords you’re ranking for versus a competitor. We can look at sort of where the overlap is and what keywords they’re ranking for that you’re not just with some of the tools that we have. So that’s a lot of fun. Anybody who contacts us through SearchPrimer, I’ll share a link to my calendar to get on my schedule and that’s free. We just enjoy networking, connecting with people and inevitably it brings us enough business so we’re happy to do it. It’s just a great little introduction to the world of investing in SEO for gaining more leads for your business.
Chris Raines: That’s great. So go to Searchprimer.com. There’s a big button right at the top of the page that says get your free audit. So just click that button and fill out the form, put in your website and we can get that going. All right. That’s all the time we have.
Michael Utley: Excellent.
Chris Raines: All right. Thanks a lot, Mike.
Michael Utley: Thanks, Chris.
Michael Utley: The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of Searchprimer.com. Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing. Searchprimer.com.