Is it really possible for other marketing channels to positively impact your SEO efforts? And if so, how?
That's what we're going to be discussing today with a drummer who plays in a band with Katy Perry's Grammy Award-winning guitar player. Nowadays, he uses his SEO skills to create harmonic marketing roadmaps, helping his clients scale the heights of Google. He is the founder of the Atlanta-based digital marketing agency Hum JAM. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Joseph Kahn.
Joseph shares five steps to creating a harmonic marketing campaign powered by SEO.
The steps are:
Joseph: Hey, David.
D: You can find Joseph over at znap.link/josephskahn. So Joseph, what do you mean by a harmonic marketing campaign? And why does it really matter?
J: It matters because just like you don't like listening to one note and recognizing a song, you can't do one factor and Google recognizes where that belongs. Meaning, I took the same approach in music when I got into SEO. In order to make a chord that you recognize… if I played two notes from Happy Birthday you would recognize it. Why? Because they're using harmonic factors. That's why you recognize Happy Birthday with just three or four notes, you recognize it. This is what I've applied to Google because I noticed that if I just do one thing, it doesn't move the bar on my ranking. Meaning if I use one ranking factor, like the title tag, keyword phrase, or whatever, that's a one-note chord.
So I developed and built what I call chords or harmonic SEO chords. That basically has more than one thing. You have primary notes, a key, and you have all kinds of things. I have five different things that go into a five-note chord. Now, of course, you can even go bigger than five notes. And sometimes they're necessary depending on what you're accomplishing. And chords can even be three notes. Chords can't be one-note though. Meaning, most SEOs make the biggest mistake where they focus on one thing or they focus on backlinks. Backlinks are one part of the chord but it’s not the whole chord. You're not going to move the dial with just one piece of the chord, you need the whole chord, you need the whole three or five notes to make the song, to make the results that you want.
D: I guess even in terms of backlinks, you've got a chord there as well, because you've got multiple forms of links. And if you just hold down on one form of links, then Google will say that's not natural. We're not going to rank this website based on those links.
J: Yes, even the backlinks because you got the topical relevance of the backlink, you got the authority of the backlink, you got different things about that. And one backlink could be the wrong backlink. That could be the wrong chord. Meaning, you can’t just throw in this backlink to make this work. That could be a weird-sounding note that will make it horrible. You want to make sure everything is in complete harmony. And when you harmonize your results versus just throwing around techniques or tactics, when you harmonize everything, it makes a massive difference.
D: I know quite a few SEOs who are musicians as well, as I'm sure it resonates quite nicely with any SEOs out there. So the harmonic process that you recommend is five steps. Starting off with keyword intention. What's that all about?
1. Keyword Intention
J: It starts off with focusing on when we want to harmonize with the searcher, that's basically what we're trying to do. We want to make sure that the searcher that's coming is going to come to our page and convert to what we need them to convert to. Meaning, to get on our list or become a subscriber, whatever it is that we're looking for searchers, our original intent. We want to make sure that we match what they're looking for. That's number one. If I don't know what song you're looking for, if I don't know what mood you're in, if I don't know any of that stuff, I can't be a good Spotify, I can't put music in your ears that you want to listen to. That's what we have to do. Number one, we have to start with what is the listener wanting to listen to? What are their intentions? When are they coming in and what is that first note that we need to center on that we need to build the cord around? That's basically what we're doing. We’re starting with a chord and we're going to build around that. The first part of that is what do you want to listen to? What is that harmony that you're trying to create? And that starts with the listener.
D: What does that look like in practice?
J: It usually starts with the guy or girl at the top. Meaning, that I want to know from the person who owns the site or the product about their prospects, about what they want. Let's talk about their needs. I guess you've heard this before where you start with an avatar. What are the intentions? What are their problems? What's the pain point? What does your product solve that you know that they're looking for? There were a couple of clients we went through where they were typing in their actual keyword from the actual niche itself and I said that that's not what they're looking for. They're looking for the problem or the challenge. Let's hone in there. And once we honed in there, everything blossomed, the chords were created because we honed in on the searcher's intent, not what you have. Everybody wants to be me, me, me, me.
Even the SEOs, when they go to keyword research and articles, I've seen it 1000 times, they're all focused on me. They're not focused on the searcher. They're focused on me, look what I got, look what I'm doing, look what I can offer. They don't care what you can offer them. They care if you can solve their problem. That's a totally different chord than me, me, me. It's we, we, we or you, you you. You got to determine what it is that they want. It starts with sitting with the CEO, the president, or the owner of the company and saying, "Let's talk about your searchers. Let's talk about your prospect. What are they looking for?” Not what you have. What are they looking for? What's the problem that you're trying to solve?
D: And your number two is SEO content. Does that mean writing the content with the keywords and the intent in mind?
2. SEO Content
J: Correct. That is exactly what I mean.
D: What are the common mistakes that brands are making at the moment? Are they just writing with the keywords in mind? How did they know the definitive intention behind the keyword phrase? Is that something they just think about themselves? Do they have calls with prospects to identify?
J: Yes, they could do that. But what we do to make it as quick as possible, especially for the listeners, is competitive research. Take all of the phrases that you believe are the intentions of the searcher, and then put that into Google. Do a SERP audit, look at the search results and see what's listed there and then open them, and see the articles that are there. Do a little research on what's there. That's how you know the intention. If everything that's there in that top 20 is not what you're creating, then you're not doing it right. Meaning, that if what you're typing in and all of the top 20 is not what you're doing, then you need to think about what's the intention here. It takes a little competitive research. In order to know what we're going to create, we want to match what that top result is. And you could say that your thing actually matches better than the 20, and that's going to be hard to do. I'm saying you want to in harmony with the results that are already there. You're going to do some analysis. You're going to take your phrase, you’re going to put that in, and do an analysis on that top 20. And you’re going to see if any of this look like what you’re creating? It should. And you should be focused on this. What we want to do is create something better. We want to do it better than the 20 that’s there. We want to answer the questions. We want to answer the searcher's intention. That's why we hone in on the questions. What are the questions that people are asking? So we dive into the content. That's the other factor. Once we know their intentions, we want to dive into the content. And that content starts with the research. What's out there that's already created? What are the resources we could pull in to answer that intention that goes into that content?
And semantically, we want to make sure that we're answering the intention correctly, because keyword placement makes a big difference in the intentions of what you're trying to say. If I'm trying to sell you a course on sales or trying to tell you how to sell. It may look the same in a keyword pattern but it's not the same from a semantic attention based thing. And Google knows the difference. They know if you're trying to sell a course on how to sell or trying to teach somebody how to sell. They know the difference even though the keywords look the same on paper. We want to make sure that the keywords don't look the same on the paper. That your SEO isn't just spouting out from an AI. That's a big mistake today when they throw it in AI tools and AI tools don't know the intention. They're just spouting words that match together. And that's not going to get you ranked. What's going to get you ranked is seeing that this person is looking for how to sell, so I need to make sure this is teaching how to do that. If this is not doing that, then telling them I have a course to sell is not going to get this article listed. If you search advanced SEO course, I'm beating Neil Patel, I'm up there with Udemy or whatever on the search phrase, it's not doing very much as I don't have a course there. There's no advanced SEO course there. Although if you search that keyword you'll find my website only because I harmonized just to test this out to make sure that it worked. We harmonized that phrase based on the searcher's intention and everything and guess what? We're ranking in the top with Udemy and we don't even have a course there. Only because I said what are people looking for when they type that phrase in? What is the thing they're looking for? They're not looking for a Udemy course, even though Udemy’s in the top but Udemy didn't target that correctly. I easily targeted that and got a search phrase, even though I only had a six DA very low. So it wasn't about the backlink that got it listed, it's about the harmony. It was about the chord that we put together. It wasn't even about the amount of content that was on the page. All these ranking factors you hear about, it's got to have content, it's got to have this, it's got to have that, it doesn't have to have any of those things if it's in harmony with what Google wants.
D: If you don't have a course does that not mean that you're not fully matching the intent? And the likelihood, if you're ranking high for that keyword phrase now, will quickly go down because you're perhaps not offering intent?
J: It definitely will. It's a trick for the game of the day. Listen, it is cool, because there's stuff coming to that page. It was like a pre thing. Let me test this out and see if I can harmonize the quick intentions and see if this works semantically placing keywords on the page. And it worked. This stuff actually works.
D: So step number three is an email campaign. Are you saying that email can actually favorably impact SEO?
3. Email Campaign
J: Yes. From the harmonizing perspective. A lot of people do this in a different way. It's basically traffic generation. You're increasing the intentions of the searcher volume and everything using an email campaign. What we like to do to harmonize to make this work better is if we have people already pre-built on a list around the content. Say you're in the basket weaving niche, and you already have your collecting basket weaver's on a list, and you launch an article on whatever keyword phrase you feel like. And you put that in your social media campaign. And in your email marketing you have a topically relevant email that goes out about that article, that email that's in harmony with it, that has links to it, where people click on the link and then go to the article. You launch your article, most people send backlinks to that, or most people will even do a share it on social media to that. If you do an email campaign blast to that it actually generates enough traffic and Google sees the traffic. So it stimulates Google that there must be a reason why this is getting traffic. And I believe that through Gmail and through different cookie bots and different trackers it can see that there's interest going out with this keyword, this topical relevance phrase. Now, I don't have any tools that can verify and make that 100% fact. Again, we're talking SEO here. But when you add that email campaign to your article that you're blasting, it makes a huge difference. It lifts it off the ground versus not having an email campaign at all. In the search listings, not just in traffic.
D: Absolutely. I actually interviewed Rand Fishkin quite a few years ago. And at the time, I think he was still with Moz. And he shared with me that he did some tests on a newsletter that he sent out and he used to send out newsletters with links obviously to Moz and other sites as well, maybe top SEO articles of the week, I think it was. And he reckoned that he could measurably notice an increase in rankings because of the click-throughs from that. And what he reckoned was that Google was testing. And it saw that there were increased levels of traffic going to that link, but it didn't necessarily know exactly where that traffic came from.
J: Almost like a CTR manipulation. People manipulate CTR in order to get higher rankings.
D: That's part of it as well. So if Google sees that particular link, that particular resource, gets a higher click-through rate from search as a result of its tests in putting it higher in the SERP, then it's probably more likely to keep that link higher there for the long term.
J: Yeah, because it's the real intention meaning Google wants the searcher to be happy.
D: So your step number four, social campaigns, is that a similar mindset you're approaching that with so that you're trying to drive more traffic to the organic results with a view to hopefully getting Google to notice it more?
4. Social Campaigns
J: Yes, that's in the same vein as email, it's just another note, you're adding the trombone, you're building the band, you're building the chord, rhythm too. I've heard the term velocity used in link building. You have a rhythm, you got to know how quickly to go up, because you can't just blast and go fast sometimes because then Google will go ah, ah, ah. You got to set the tempo. And it's different for different clients or different websites, because some that are around for 10 years, their tempo is different than some that are just starting. So there's all that goes in there.
Now, when it comes to social media, the same thing, you got to warm up accounts. You can't just come in and blast. We've had clients say that they will do 50 posts a day on Facebook. No, their account got shut down really fast. That's not the way it works. You got to harmonize. So what we do is we make sure that we hit in each campaign that we roll out… We don't just write the article, and we're done. We roll out the article, and it's got to go along with the topically relevant email campaign that then goes along with some social media memes, posts, and content. I'd say three or four on Twitter, on LinkedIn depending on your niche, on the social media. But three or four of the main social media tools that are out there, you want that link that's going to the new article that you want to be ranked, you want those posting out within the week of release. We have a timing of the email, of the social media, of the blast, and then we want to try to get some links or some things to the page if we can. We want other people to share it also, that makes a difference in the social part of it. If we can get other people to share it or say share this or retweet this or whatever, that also makes a difference. I believe there's some E-A-T that goes into that where we see that there's some authority or expertise going on here if it's shared. Different things like that I think go all into that. That's a harmonizing factor there.
D: And your step number five is CRM. How does that fit into things?
J: That's all the automation of making sure everything is connected. And CRM is not as much responsible for ranking at the top as much as it is for closing the intention of the searcher. Meaning, CRM connects your interstitials, for us at least, meaning, that when somebody opts in, somebody's coming in and they're looking for how to sell. Interrupting them or getting them on the list, that's why we always start with the top of the funnel when we first go because it's easier to get the longtail phrases to do this with and then interrupt them and bring them through this harmony sequence which is basically an email campaign sequence that's also relevant to what they're looking for, relevant to the thing that they're after. Generally speaking, your giveaways, the gifts, or the things are going to be topically relevant to the overall. The CRM is going to send them multiple and this is why I say CRM because CRM is like having a sequencer in your band. Meaning, if we're doing four articles, we can add those in our autoresponder sequence. So we don't have to do broadcasts every time. Meaning, if we've got four articles this month, it's in our autoresponder sequence and somebody opts in, then those four articles that are going out right now, people are clicking on, people are going to, we add that to our CRM. Meaning, that we make sure that any of the things that we're pushing goes into our CRM sequence so that it gets clicked by anybody that's coming.
D: And I could have so many follow-up questions about all of this. And I'm dying to so hopefully we can carry on this conversation on a follow up episode. But for now, let's move on to the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that 80% of your results are from 20% of your efforts. What's one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?
The Pareto Pickle - Match Your Title with the Searcher Intent
J: The easiest thing that will give you the biggest bang for the buck, even in these harmonic ranking factors, is making sure the title of your page matches the searcher intent. If the title of the page matches the keyword that you're phrasing, that it needs to be in there… It doesn't have to be exact, but it needs to be in there. Every result on SEO comes down to the title of the page, the H1 title. So if your keywords aren’t there, you're not going to rank, like that's it. The golden keyword rule is all in title searching. You want to make sure you get that right. If you want that 90%, that's your main note of the chord is your title on your page.
D: That's your click-through rate sorted. Great advice there. I've been your host, David Bain. Joseph, thank you so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.