Steve Wiideman


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

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

Steve is a Disney executive who became an owner of a successful marketing consulting firm, professor, and a marketer.

His firm specializes in multi-location SEO. Some of his clients include Disney Adventures, Public Storage, Zoho, Technicolor, Skechers, IHOP, and many more.

If you have any questions related to SEO and marketing, please feel free to pick his brain. He has a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.

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 successes 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.

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Table of Contents

Would you share a marketing tactic that your agency uses for better client retention?

Start by always be showing your value. Delta reports, ROAS, ROI, and YoY growth.

Next, communicate like crazy.

All of our accounts text us and we work hard to build friendships with our direct contacts so they always have our backs.

What is your Multilingual SEO Strategy for larger dynamic SEO???

I may need more info, but as a best practice model we generally recommend:

1. Centralized domain vs microsites

2. Language-country URLs (en-ca, en-fr) for labelling purposes

3. In-line hreflang tags

4. XML sitemaps

A tool I and a client fond super helpful yesterday was created by Aleyda Solis.

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Aleyda Solis: International SEO Consultant and can be found here:…/hreflang-tags-generator/

Do you use a service for citations or do you do it in-house? Is there any public service that you use for seo?

We have our clients use GeoRanker and Darren Shaw ‘s Whitespark Local Citation Finder (LCF) to source intersecting opportunities.

We have one client who just working with E2M out of San Diego for provisioning. Call Manish at +1619-810-7701 for pricing.

What’s your quick wins for link building process?

You mean “link earning”?

We’ve seen the most success when clients create a repeatable cadence of content marketing.

Whereby they get influential contributors on a calendar to be involved in the content creation process.

Launching a new page once per week (Tuesdays seems to be preferred).

The fast-follow is with the digital PR folks who have a goal of three links before the next page gets deployed.

Their approach: “share our short answer/checklist”.

Some will link without having to ask.

The short answer curation is the Featured Answer driver, so it’s win-win either way.

Check out our approach types and templates here:…/0Bx3dL…/view…

How are you implementing entities?

Most of our clients are sizeable brands with decent PR teams.

I guess we’re lucky in that way.

One challenge i had was getting Applebee’s to outrank Olive Garden for “pasta and breadsticks” which required some co-occurrence effort.

What SEO tools are used by your agency?

Same ole’ stuff: SEMrush, AHREFS, Ryte, GSC, Data Studio, VisualPing (to monitor competitor pages).

Google Alerts (to get opportunities to drop our short answer in).

What’s your process for building authority for a new site?

Same processes as Influencer Marketing, start by building off the authority of other brands that are slightly above yours and work your way up.

Use the WayBackMachine for Bob’s Watches and study how that brand went from an antique watch site to the number one Rolex consignment site on the web.

Study the backlinks and dates they were acquired. It’s the best example I’ve got.

What was your most interesting project?

A topless club in 2008, but what happens there stays there.

Honestly, taking Adventures by Disney from all Flash to a hybrid of Flash and HTML.

And watching how fast a brand like Disney can rank was pretty awesome. Circa 2006 with Terry Cox.

What do you use for task and project

Smartsheets and HubSpot at the moment.

But I’m a huge fan of Ignitur and Monday.

What mistakes have you made and what have you learned from them?

The biggest mistake was 12 years of holding the top spot for “SEO expert”, despite the nearly $4m in cumulative revenue from it.

Reason being that it isolated me from my peers and made me look like a braggart.

Taking that page down was the best move I’ve ever made.

Some things are more important than money.

How do you see the digital marketing landscape in 10 years?

Untethered from handheld devices and building customer loyalty.

What are you teaching at the university? Whats does your curriculum look like?



Fullerton College MKT161-164…/index.html

Email me for the syllabus you’d like to see.

How would you define ‘quality content?’

Quality to me begins with:

1. Security

2. Privacy

3. Accessibility

4. Mobile UX

And often includes:

5. Visually solves the user’s end desire

6. Includes rich media (custom images and video)

7. Passes a “fake news” checklist

8. Was scrutinized by a UX guru like

Erik D Stafford, Tim Ash or

Aaron Michael Irizarry

9. Incorporates search terms sourced from Google Ads converting queries report and GSC insights.

10. Talks to the right user in the right phase of their buyer’s journey.

11. Can be used on mobile without the need for a keyboard (autofill forms, etc), especially for purchases.

Do the human elements come into play with your definition of quality content? I didn’t see a mention of entertaining, intriguing, insightful, humorous, Etc.

Good catch! I suppose those points are relative to the page you’re creating.

But Point #10 should cover that if you’re addressing your target audience at the right phase of their journey.

Sales pages would invoke trust, authority, reciprocity, scarcity.

Marketing, upper-funnel, pages would leverage those elements you mentioned depending on the characteristics of your target audience.

Good call with humanizing our pages, there’s so much garbage out there from the 90’s still, right?

What annoys you the most about SEOs?

It becomes our nature to be competitive since we all fight for the top position in Google, Amazon and YouTube.

I just wish we all could retain our ability to be humble as individuals, collaborative as peers, and compassionate as humans.

There’s a lot of ego floating around out there.

I’m also not a fan of how conferences are choosing speakers and how recently formed clicks are exiling individuals without valid cause.

The drama makes me sick to my stomach.

What steps would you take to rank better for these other local keywords?

In my experience, SEO involves three core elements:

1. Relevant content on the landing page

2. Co-occurrence of the brand (entity) and the keyword off the website (links don’t hurt either)

3. User behavior signals within search results (click, stay (helpfulness/compatibility), search for brand+keyword, keyword+brand, etc)

That said, perhaps start with creating a dedicated landing page for each of those topics you’d like to appear for (compare them to other top-ranking pages).

Add internal links from my top or bottom navigation so that search engines know that those pages are important.

Really get the word out there on other websites that mention the brand.

Including in your database listings (Factual, Localeze, InfoGroup), search engine listings (GMB, Bing Local), local-social (Yelp, FB, Foursquare), local city directories and industry directories.

These are all a good starting point. Calendar in a recurring Google search for your brand (in quotes) with the keyword (in quotes) such as “Matt’s Bowling” “volleyball”.

Challenge your team to increase the number of results each month.

Boost your listing CTR by adding and testing different types of schema.

What’s hot right now is FAQpage and Events. You’ll stand out and get more clicks with a rich listing.

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When you advertise, tell people to search for your brand and the topic (volleyball) rather than to go directly to your website.

What’s your business philosophy or the guiding principle?

This Jim Rohn quote has been my guiding principle: “To be successful you don’t need to do extraordinary things, you just need to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

What’s your top 3 ‘To Not Do’ list for SEO?

1. Obvious anything that could be seen as “gaming results”

2. Invest in expensive enterprise platforms without a full-time data analyst to drive them

3. Expect your writer to also be your link-earner

How do you manage your time? I’m pretty sure it must be crazy.

I calendar time for the big rocks and don’t beat myself up if I don’t get to the little rocks that couldn’t be delegated.

We keep seamless communication going throughout the day via Slack, text, and email.

I leave with ZERO INBOX every day (snoozing lots of stuff of course).

What is your favorite technical SEO quick win?

Removing a Disallow: / fo sho’

What’s the most difficult keyword you have ranked that you can talk about? What was the strategy that pushed you over the top?

“Truck accident lawyer” is definitely up there. Took 81 supportive pages under a silo to get there.

What are the boundaries you put around this communication? Can clients text you in the middle of the night and expect a response for example.

I’m still working on that.

I have such a great friendship with the ones that call or text me after hours that it really doesn’t bother me.

The larger accounts I have to bug all the time, not the other way around (I wish they bugged me more, even after hours).

If it starts to get excessive, I just have that heart to heart with them.

Would you rather be on the phone with me and in meetings or have me working on your SEO?

Where do you think SEOs waste unneeded time?

I’ve seen SEO’s waste a lot of time trying look for shortcuts.

One spent an entire week trying to find loopholes to game rankings instead of just working on their landing page.

Imagine what a WEEK (40 hours) of effort on a single landing page could do for SEO and UX. (sigh)

For beginners what are your favorite seo tools?

I think I answered this one already.

But for sure GSC, SEMrush, AHREFS, and Ryte.

What are few most basic yet important things that tends to work everytime but most of seo’s just don’t think it will do any good or forget altogether.

Information Architecture and Taxonomy hands-down.

So it might take 3 months to get it done, but the site structure and content list will offer work to the various marketing teams for several years to come.

Got a page that isn’t ranking well? Try adding a link to the global nav or at least from the homepage.

How do you go about quoting a big group? Or even say a 5 location group?

I used to experience that all the time, always wanting to save the world.

Now I have a red Staples-looking button on my desk that says “NO” 6 different ways when I push it.

It’s hard sometimes when you’re struggling to make payroll, I get it.

But it’s worse to create a Groundhog Day effect by taking more work for less money.

aying no to a client often results in them realizing that you’re not desperate and take pride in the work you do.

If they can’t respect that, they aren’t the right client for you.

What separates highly successful people from people who struggle to succeed? I feel like a Disney Executive and a Freelancer are two different breeds of human.

It can feel that way, but first of all I wasn’t a Disney Executive, I was in charge of SEM for two Disney properties.

I grew up throwing newspapers and sweeping up trash before I joined the military and learned what real work is all about.

But I’ve worked with both types of people and can tell you a few of the differences I’ve noticed:

1. Accountability – successful people don’t make excuses, they stay up 3 days straight if needed to get the job done

2. Time Management – don’t get caught up in the thick of thin things

3. Passion – if you don’t love what you do, you’ll always try to find ways out of having to do it.

We follow dozens of RSS feeds 20-40 minutes per day via Feedly to keep us on the cusp of what’s going on the industry and as a team talk about it throughout the day so we’re never stuck in “the client zone”.

What are your key KPIs for campaigns?

Depends on the campaign. Most of the time it’s ROI, ROAS, and % growth.

With our enterprise accounts we have a 10% growth goal YoY (revenue being primary, traffic following).

You work with some fairly large brands. How do you normally strategize around internal link structure for sites with 100’s of thousands of pages?

Thankfully we have some pretty awesome tools to help, such as Ryte.

There’s also site structure and taxonomy that can help.

In certain taxonomies we’ll emphasize key page in the template’s navigation.

I do wish Ryte would offer a % anchor text tool so we can be less explicit site-wide, hoping they’ll put into future sprints.

What is a advice you give to “A guy who has so much interest in growing his SEO knowledge a way more farther but one or the other way he doesn’t like the working environment on corporate and had to leave jobs frquently ” may be wired question.

That’s exactly why I left the corporate world. It felt like I was trapped in a jar, or holding a winning lottery ticket I couldn’t cash.

I wrote an article on how embrace your passion for SEO awhile back (on a site we never officially finished or launched lol):

A guy starting out a blogging where there are huge corporates and billion.dollor companies blogging on same niche.  What do you advice him other than cover a low ompetition kws and choose to work on sub topics inside the tipics than scale up strategy.

Build your pool of connections and barter your time for support.

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Find the best designer to help you create the best landing page and if your client won’t pay for it, negotiate terms that make it a win-win for both of you.

You’ll need these team members and a creative strategy to get them involved to really maximize your results:

1. Web Analyst

2. Web Content Writer & Editor

3. On-Page SEO Specialist (to fine tune SEO focal points)

4. Outreach / Link Earning so the page isn’t orphaned on the web

How did you get your first SEO client and what do you suggest for someone who is starting out on an individual level to get seo clients?

My first clients were in 1998 and SEO was out of necessity not by request.

I was a freelance web designer and my clients weren’t getting traffic.

When I left the agency world.

I literally walked the neighborhood shopping plazas and offered services for free for 90 days to earn their trust and confidence.

If you have worked on micro niche. What are the top 5 factors you choose for deciding to go with a niche other than traffic potential and competition?

1. Topic affinity

2. Market saturation

3. Overall effort required

4. Sustainability

5. Scalability

Client.doesnt care ground work you have to do to bring their site on top they care about when they see their kw ranking on top (and thats totally fine) but still how do you convince them that you had to do lot of ground work (but client is not interested to look at the work done, and only need end result ) so how do you explain this time taking process.

My proposal outlines every task we do in the setup and strategy, it’s quite overwhelming.

We never get anyone haggling us about ramp up time or resource requirements.

Perhaps an explainer video might help?

What separates people who rank from those who don’t? What qualities do you look for in people you collaborate with?

Passion, commitment and relentlessness to win separate the winners from the losers in any industry.

I look for like-minded people that I jive well with.

You would recommend doing when taking on an on-page SEO client? (Your top 5)

1. Client needs analysis (ask all the important questions in survey format for record keeping and pain point assessment)

2. Strategy – Obstacle Analysis (tech), Competitive Analysis (baseline), Link Audit & Strategy, Content Audit & Strategy

3. Baseline keyword tracking (even if your clients wants to change your selected keywords later) – we use SEMrush for this now.

4. Set a clear timeline in your proposal, reiterate it on your Kickoff Call (item 4 is Kickoff Call I guess lol).

5. Schedule your recurring calls ahead of time so they don’t bother as much as you’re getting going.

Would you mind giving me your 3 biggest secrete of getting SEO clients that you are using right now probably.

Considering we haven’t touched our website in 5 years, it’s not practicing what we preach, that’s for sure.

I am working on the new website, but clients have to come first.

1. Do a great job with your current clients and they’ll refer you like crazy; we get most of our leads from referrals at the moment

2. Build lasting relationships with your direct contacts and when they move to other jobs they’ll take you with them

3. Donate time to others, I used to be super active in the Meetup Group I built to some 700+ members at one point.

Guest speak at schools (I as at CSUN last night, and at CSUF twice last week).

How best do you handle local seo?

I have an article for that one:

How do you see rep affecting the future of seo? I believe that reviews will beat out links as a ranking signal within the next decade.

I know what you mean.

User behavior signals dictate long term rankings already and who wants to click on a listing with only 2 or 3 stars?

This week, star snippets were removed from thousands of organic listings.

So it will be up to the user’s view of the page and the native reviews ON the page that may affect user behavior.

Not the rich snippet now; though you will see TONS of FAQpage being deployed this month, get ready for FAQ Hell.

You’re in the right business, don’t change a thing.

What was the single best offline revenue generating activity in terms of real life partnerships?

Probably my Meetup group.

That’s where I really developed some great relationships that turned into great referrals (both ways).

According to you what google should do differently for SEO?

They need to address short answer spam immediately.

I’ve already brought it up with John Mueller but you know how that goes.


Pick His Brain! with Steve Wiideman 1

What are the elements of content that earns links?

Anything reference-able I suppose. I did a post on “how important are yelp reviews”.

Didn’t get great links, but I got links with zero outreach.

What would you suggest doing for closing the first client(s) (B2B focus) if my experience is affiliate only?

I might create some content or a presentation on an area of B2B and share it as a speaker at a local event or a guest speaker for a networking group.

I did this with SoCal BMA 4 years ago talking on the topic of B2B PPC.

The camera died as I got into SEO, but this might still be a good example:

If you have a national client with hundreds of franchised GMBs throughout the country, how do you do off-page for these GMBs effectively and without raising any red flags? All are linking to the same root domain.

Awesome question!

Empowerment of franchisees or store managers will be key in this one.

We created a one-pager that corporate distributes every year during franchise meetings.

Example (and please don’t share outside this group).

Pick His Brain! with Steve Wiideman 2


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