Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Aaron Whyte, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Aaron is known as ‘The Evil Genius of SEO’ in some circles.

His most recent agency has grown quietly to 7 figures, over 27 staff focusing on SEO, web hosting, web development, the blockchain, and security.

His client base ranges from mom and pops to Fortune 500. He is a retail client focused with an e-commerce slant.

Please feel free to ask him anything from SEO dark to light, hack, guerrilla marketing, management, hosting…memes whatever.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.



Table of Contents

What PC platform were you running your BBS on in the 80s? PCs? I started mine up in ’92 though was too chicken shit to blue box on my parents’ phone line.

Amiga 500 + massive 20MB HDD the size of a loaf of bread, 4MB RAM, Started with two 3 1/2 floppy drives.

I still had the computer up until 12 years or so a go, when I got excited and just booted it and it caught fire.

I was very lucky my father worked in oil for an American company and bring home ‘expired’ parts.

My first modem was 300 baud and you had to put the phone receiver on a female mount.

I was using the C64 for then… so much pirating and blueboxing… got some funny stories on that ..

Many people do event blogging and some rank on top with short time effort. What is the secret behind? Is there something black?

Social would be the vector.

I would use for events where you need to build a ‘buzz’ really fast and that can be very dark.

What are your thoughts on on-page correlation tools popping up these days? Are they scientific?

I’m a big fan ‘but of course would never use them as its against googles guidelines bwhahah..

They are great. Kyle Roof and Edward Kubaitis (Ted) have saved me a ton of time and my team a ton of headaches as we were doing something similar before.

I like pop and ‘we’ use it on the daily and my dev/seo/content staff prefer it.

My go to is Cora and I do prefer it more.

It has the detail I want and enables me to cross reference it against test we run all the time.

I also like that I can use it as a csv for more automation fun.

I think where Ted is going is more accurate for us based on my science and stat background.

What we look for is statistical significance in our testing. Single variable is great.

But with ‘complex’ interactions I think statistical significance is a better place to be making adjustments from.

With all respect to Kyle and his great tool.

What does your daily schedule look like?

Emails in bed 4-5am, political red pills from youtube, up around 7, do some exercise, make butter/hemp mct oil coffee.

Check rank stats, check Jira, load jobs in for the day, check servers stats, check social, check invoicing, check in with pms and see what they are up to.

Spend an hour on internal projects / learning something, do any client followups.

Schedule sales calls, followups, check in with pms around lunch for tracking.

Catch up and spend over the shoulder time with staff, check social, spend time on a personal work project, planning time for anything big.

Follow up sales calls, late afternoon eats, sales followups, online networks, pm followup, spend time catching up with kids after school.

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Alex Hatala

Work on a coding or seo project or do some trouble shooting, prepare dinner, wifie time, casually network online and maybe deal with night owl coders.

If i’m really into something I’ll focus on it all night until my servers auto shut off at 1am.

I try to get into bed by 11pm, but often spend a few hours networking with offshore clients, colleagues in different time zones.

Rinse and repeat .

If I’m being good I’ll take Saturday off.

If I’m on a power run where I’m trying to make something happen I’ll work 7 days.

What does your December 2018 (current) backlink building strategy look like good sir?

Short answer is farming PBNs that are an actually thing so they aren’t really against Gs guidelines.

The more complex answer is I take PBN building to more of an extreme than others.. I think.

My general rule is PBNs should be a real thing that work on their own and I/we go to great lengths for them to be a whole separate little business.

Sort of like SIMs for PBNs .

We are also very patient and focus on a lot of depth aaa lot of depth.. there is still a place for nasty though.

But it’s not on the frontline.. hopefully that wasn’t to cryptic.

I can explain further.

What do you find most effective for moving the needle, links fired at tier 2 sites? Also where abouts in Australia are you based?

I’m on the Gold Coast, Queensland about 10 mins lazy drive from Surfers Paradise.

Nasty stuff works even onto the money page, but you want to have it at arms length.

The worst the mess if you burn your money page the further it should be.

You should also be aiming to build out the crap turning it into gold overtime.

Closer to the money page the better the quality should be

How to build backlinks in niches which are saturated with bad links aka Tops are heavily pumped with satellite PBNs and regional news websites?

Hyper niche, hyper local.

Better meaning they actually have an actual purpose for the source.

Like you could sell if for money and it makes sense for a user to click through and they do .

Also, Deeper… and as an exercise pick a wiki page or similar and follow one link after another.. and see how far back you go.

A forward exercise would be to click through porn hub and see were you end up …lol it is not a shallow experience.

What do you credit your success to? What was the moment the leads stated flowing in?

Its basically working hard and being able to be focused on something to madman obsession.

I’ve found out later in life I has Asperger…so it sort of makes sense that it is my super power.

The quirkiness of my personalty and that extremeness.

Which has been innate and nurtured from life experience has given me some insight and audacity to push things further than most people.

I’ve also met a few mentors, who showed me how to break through the glass ceiling, by being frank with me.

I need a serious amount of traffic at my am planning to do a sitemap now that i ve reached over 500posts. look at my blog and proffer Sir, what advantage does it have?

I’m not sure if you are not a native English speaker or that is spun.

It does’t read well that will be an issue for you to retain a user.

Keyword wise / main keyword focus wise and page structure from my robot eyes is off.

You would benefit from: better sentence / paragraph structure, more native/natural use of verbs and adjectives.

Keyword/onpage ranking factor wise.

Grab and run it over your pages and do some of the suggestions to get a 50-60% plus score then resubmit and wait for 7-30 days.

That would be a good starting place

What is pageoptimiser?is it an app or a free app,to correct my grammatical blunder?

It is somewhat grammatically correct, but it reads like crap. (Linguistics degree).

Onpage Ranking factors are not being met,

Social proof is low to 0, Domain is low DA from lack of backlinking of significance.

If you had the quality in content id suggest acquiring some links.

But it will be for nothing until you fix the onpage, social and englands get Rhys McKay or Jessica Foster to give you some pointers or re-write it.

Pageoptimiser pro is an onpage rank factor analysiser/optimizer. if your worried about losing your content, copy / paste son.

Get wayback to crawl the site.

Then buy a strong domain and rebirth it on managed wordpress somewhere.

Do you feel that web hosting is lucrative or do you offer it to control the environment?

This is a good question. It can be a massive expensive money pit and it has been for me at times.

I focus and still do a lot of ecommerce..mostly I was doing magento ecommerce and the only way to really get magento flying was to make our own custom setup.

So to control things was definitely a motive.

But keep in mind I’ve got a pretty solid background in servers.. so it wasn’t so much of a stretch for me.

I also had nice fat web dev projects to pay for it.

My 3rd employee was a fantastic senior system admin as well.. this allowed us to go to dedicated server setups with insider pricing.

I’ll also add I knew from day one web dev is not sustainable as a business model… you are living per quarter for the most part.

So I wanted a subscription model and hosting fit really well into that..and I was ok with running at a loss to build that up.

My end game has always been to build the hosting up and sell it off.. or start buying out other operators.

Looks like I’m going with the latter at the moment.

But with the same end game to flip that part of the business down the line.. or fully take over.. mwhahah

If i was on my own.. i’d never run my own hosting.

I’d push it all to the host providers support system.

As one of my young friends found out ‘fuck.

This one $10 email account could suck up all my profit in support’.

What adjustments have you put in place to your strategies since rank brain?

I was already CTR / UX focused on all our projects, due to it correlating with profit in eCommerce.

So none and my thoughts are it’s a joke. It’s not AI as we imagine it in movies or blade runner it is a glorified if else statement.

As Kyle, hackers and social engineers have shown it is all easily beaten and so are people.

Two vectors they’ll never be able to magic around in a deterministic system designed by sneaker monkeys.

What’s playing on your stereo/Spotify at the moment?

I prefer Rammstein, but I’m trying to broaden my range..

Do you automate link building in any way or all done manually/organically?

We try and McD-O-fy everything.. so everything that is repetitive has a process optimized for efficiency with scripts.

That’s what happens when you are coders and system admins

What we aim to do is turn shit into shinola over time.

Turn everything into an asset that your mum can be proud of.

So skeletons can be deployed by script.

Boiler plates can be generated from ‘factors’ … everything gets reworked on a slightly flexible schedule.

Give or take anything interesting coming up on monitoring.

Overtime some stuff is trash.. other stuff is mad into great things.. or at least good.

At some point they’ll be used for links, affliate, sold, lead gens or even be a working something something.

Some of you cats are probably using them now and don’t even know.

Auto for the grunt work, manual for greatness.

You should try and automate as much as possible.. that is what computers were made for.

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Rhys McKay

I have just started doing some testing based on a video I saw of Kyle’s. I have created a test domain and nonsense keyword. I have created a control page and a test page with a single variable difference. What would you suggest I do to add in another variable, sorry if this seems really obvious. Do I create more test pages and see which rank higher to get an order of preference and see which factors rank, or do I continue testing on the one test page?

Each test is going to be different .. but you’ll just need to add another page with the two variables and so on.

I’d rather set up many sites and do it though I don’t focus on to many single variable tests.

Because other people are doing them..and unless I’m not a believe and want to replicate its a waste of resources.

I have so many sites long term with long term monitoring.

I actually prefer to create a null hypothesis then select a random sample from my own stock, stuff I monitor.

Stuff I don’t, set controls and then make my adjustments and calculate the statistical significance of the results.

In an environment with many factors I think it is more practical for us as we have the resources just sitting there.

I lean a little to Cora over pop for this reason.

Emd ranking at 5th since last few weeks very tough moving up, what will be the top thing to do in your list to move the needle?

Social signals, rented backlink or two applied somewhere, onpage with pop or cora if it is not obvious.

Pretty basic fix for most.. Bonus points for: Top 10 socials with posts and min followers and also make sure you have a generous serving of citations.

Make schema perfecto, local, org, multi-location (pro if needed) and make sure those NAPs are tight on your site pages and match your GMB.

For Local SEO, what do you think matters most in order of importance and ranking influence and what should not be missed?

It depends, but for the basics, local citations, gmb, local schema, socal, local links.

Local references on page, local NAP references is popping up a lot lately.

But I only have anecdotal evidence to support it.

If you cant get it build it, pay for it…fake it.

Part of what I do is social engineering / sales process / road to a sale building / branding etc.

Not just the ranking… so reverse engineering a local celebrity personality/business type.

Can be useful for ideas..on what to get or replicate.. and I’m not saying that this is part of the mechanics of rank.

Rather this is what makes a successful/profitable rank locally.

If that makes sense .. i’m trying not to give to much away while giving something.. lol

I also like to push multiple ‘assets’ my client controls and can get conversions into serps.

So we aren’t just relying on one link or gmb…

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and 10 years?

5 years I want to have acquired a lot of the smaller hosting companies.. and have some software offerings.. that we are retailing.

SEO will have become even more specialised and we will be known as serp hitmen.. 10 years.

I’ll be sold out or have management and be sipping pina coladas by the pool side.

How low do you think bitcoin can go in the short and intermediate term and why? Where do you see it in the longterm? Are there other coins that might have anything close to a meteoric rise in the future and any thoughts as to why if so?

Long term crypto / blockchain is here to stay.. what we are all using I am not sure.

I would suspect btc will be still be strong, if not like vintage-chic.

The projects that survive will be the ones that have a working economic model, which there are very few of.

It is like dotcom all over again. What will btc fall to, who knows.

I’d guess the die hards would keep btc above 1k, but even if it falls to 25cents the die hards will hold till it rises again, which it will in one way or another.

It’ll be very interesting to see when some product comes out of the crypto space.

Some projects are already profitable.. yet their coin value has tanked.. they’ll survive.

Do you target keywords? if so, what is your strategy?

100%… I started writing this out.

Icould just about right a book just on the basics of what we are doing.

So I’ll try and deliver some value and direction concisely.

Links deliver the power, Social delivers the proof, Onpage rank factors illustrate quality.

User behavior confirms and bank account measures the success ultimately, but KPIs are also used.

The general strategy is to reverse engineer other peoples successful position/s (in terms of links, link depth, social signals, sentiment, cta, ppc, revenue model etc etc ).

While we do look at who is number one currently and this is part of our planning.

What we are doing on an on going basis is watching the success and failure of bigger/successful players and mapping out many.

Many tiers back what they are doing (also natural links) and then adapting it to our application/s in terms of what and how we can simulate this.

How can we do it for ‘real’ etc.

We also are constantly monitoring and running testing to confirm/deny our hypothesis looking for advantages.

Also making sure where we put resources is going to be the most efficient use.

Hope that gives you some nudgets, feel free to ask for specific expansion.

A large company brand website with many local store locations. Each store has one page on the main website with NAP details and not much more, just some links to other pages on the website. How would you rank those individual stores, apart from GMB, reviews and citations? Should one just focus on the Google snack pack and ignore organic rankings?

Step one correct schema…/blob/master/multi-location-schema

Normally the sites ‘authority/power’ will carry to those little pages.

However I’d build out those location pages more, with location specific content

Key product or service KW and some customised generic content that had been tuned with pop or cora.

Conventional PBNs are not appropriate so I would look at local sponsorship/interest activities.

And use corporate to push/pay them into local online interest websites and social pages etc.

I’d also make sure the locations are pushing their GMBs, social and reviews.

I would support the gmb with promos etc specific to the location.

I would also make sure they all have social pages unique to the local and they are active and personalised.

I’d drive more of your big brand type linking etc to the main pages to strength the whole site.

My answers probably over simplified..working with these bigger companies is complicated and they often have restrictions on your scope.

It is awesome when they are all in though.

What do you think of the Rank and Rent model?

I like and do it.. though we jokingly call it rank and ransom.

The admin is to high on selling per lead so we just rent the whole asset/s at a price where its good for everyone and just a little lower.

Sometimes we sell the whole thing, which often has nice things like the whole company starts using our subscription SEO

How does your on boarding system work and 2nd how do you hire and train your team?

On boarding is a little clumsy at the moment. But while we are waiting for payment we get access, to server, site, gmbs, ga, sc etc etc.

Points of contact, who has what access and when, who do we refer to with different issues etc.

We then assign a pm and team. (everyone tends to just work in the same small group all the time with the same pm)

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Matt Staton

Setup automated invoicing on one of our systems.

Then we load up the first task which is a basic audit. after the audit I go through it with the pm and we load in the first months 4-5 sprints.

Tasks are assigned at most productive first to least.

One of the first sprints is to setup: analytics, security, backups, PM takes care of anything that needs to be scheduled further out than a sprint.

The PM also checks if there are any important dates or things we should know about.

Sometimes I met new staff online because we hang in the same circles reddit, fb, deepweb etc.

Sometimes we use a recruiter and when we can we will grab some school leaves or tech leaves and train them up.

We don’t outsource! unless it is some specialty thing we can’t do inhouse for some reason.

Training we will offer them some of the courses available you see in fb groups, inhouse processes we like and gentle correction.

Treehouse, code academy, over the shoulder training, ritual by fire if they already have skills.

A lot of the time people are half way there and we just need to beat it into them what our version of finished is and to work together and refer to the oldies.

Do u have an Internal Linking strategy that you can share with us? I have the general idea but I would love additional insight.

Only link on keywords that have on-page value.

Other than that the only value in the link is the anchor text value for the page its on. LOL

I really don’t see any value in it..

Do you have a maps ranking strategy you can share? Anything you find to be important outside of citations and backlinks to site?

I don’t think I have anything to unique to offer at the moment.

NAP, no schema or schema that is not right will cause issues, keywords in reviews, exact match in the title.

Don’t show your address if you don’t server at the address.

Make sure everything is filled out, add things like free parking, disabled parking, senior discount etc and use other gmbs as a reference, don’t bs your location.

Some interesting things im looking at are: asking clients to use ‘follow’ or ‘want to visit’ option your gmb for specials, optimising post frequency.

Click baiting the post images for authority that works well, sharing posts through fb and twitter, sharing reviews through social.

Posting review and sharing through social and embedding, ranking the posts with links and embeds in serps.

Posting images from phones and having ‘others’ do the same seems to definitely get more image views.

Do you think we should build tiered links to our tier 1 backlinks?

100% go deep baby!

Go way deep for magic times.

Are you using any software for tier 2 backlinks and beyond? I seen a previous comment about bitbucket and Web2.0 scripts. We aren’t using any software for link building currently, but we are using SEOjet to keep track of our link Maps and tiers.

Bitbucket, github, ssh are to manage website dev/updates they are dev tools, very handy.

We have our own scripts to do mass wp, theme installs.

Our own scripts to pull a boiler plate from the cora csv and spin content into it.

The web2.0 builders are pretty handy, but before you go spam yourself, we do not use the default settings.

We spin our own content based on cora or pop and most importantly about a month.

So after they get indexed we’ll go back in and add real content and start customising the pages etc and turning them into something with a purpose and care factor.

And that is done manually with the same care as a money page.

Very important for a long term strategy that you are not spamming and hoping you don’t get wiped out.

We are constantly building and acquiring quality websites, services, software etc.

We have long since exceeded anything like SEOjet as we are into the millions.

Systematization and patience is how we accomplish it.

Just Say no to spammy crap it doesn’t work – re: Kyles competiton site

What are the best seo conferences to attend?

I bought a ticket to the first Chang mai and then got a mega job and couldn’t go.

Big groups of people aren’t my thing, but I will go next year if it is on.

The Au conferences look like a spank-sales-fest so i’ll be passing on those.

The USA Rockstar one looks good from the vids I’ve seen though not sure If I can enter the US or at least and leave again..

Have u ever seen any issue with tracking GA on SPA website? Is it possible for paid traffic to be count as organic? How should i fix this?

Like everything you need to take it with a grain of salt.

Mostly accurate, but not 100%.

That said there shouldn’t be an issue with paid traffic getting so mixed up you can’t tell it is running.

A solid solution is to set up nofollow/noindex landing pages for your paid ad campaigns.

I prefer this for many reasons, such as purpose built squeeze UI, plus the one you mention.

What are your thoughts on pricing as an SEO agency? Stack high, sell cheap vs High price, low volume? How did you start out with pricing and refine?

I built myself up to charging about $2k an hour in the late 90s/early 2000s.

I’ve worked as employee with profit a share.

When I moved to Australia from New Zealand about 8yrs ago I was on my knees starting again and I worked for $35 an hour for about a year.

Basically barely covering bills.

The purpose was to create a base of clients.

Even though I know there is a min margin to be profitable I ignored it and it was a total fuckup.

Even when I increased it to $65 about 5-6 years ago it was still wrong.. and I was and I knew it I was well under selling myself and agency.

And we struggled to get cash to really grow..despite being 42 full time workers at one point.

We were one bad move from disaster and we nearly went tits up a couple times from bad debtor clients.

What I know now is you need to be charging a min 4x on your base costs..with preferably 80% gross profit margin or more.

And with as much automation as possible. It might sound like a lot.

But scope creep, good service and general expenses quickly eat into this.

I’ve split my business to charge premium bespoke services and do mostly automated/mass market cheaper services (the cheaper service borrows from what we learn on the bespoke).

both operate with similar gross margins..with the cheaper service being 10x, 100x sometimes or more..

Which is better or more profitable depends on your personalty and maybe what resources and skills you have at hand.

I code, we have a lot of coders on staff and have a good sized web hosting server network.

So automation is pretty cheap and easy for us to setup (Note: under other brands).

Otherwise, I would have stuck with less clients doing more in-depth research, really drilling down on what makes a niche tick long term.

As I find it more fun.

I have some more cheap and cheerful projects in the works.

Also more advanced tools.

Let me know if you want me to drill down further.

The nuts and bolts though is to literally time yourself and cost every every aspect of the job..

Contrast and compare your retail costs with other companies.

Then work out where you can position yourself, with your skills, experience and costs.

There is nothing wrong with being not the best either.

I’ve marketed products literally on being ‘good enough’ and it worked great.