EP05: Uncovering the Secrets of SEO with Chris Tweten

Julie Ewald Leave a Comment

Allbound Awesomeness Podcast
Allbound Awesomeness Podcast
EP05: Uncovering the Secrets of SEO with Chris Tweten
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  • Podcast host: Julie Ewald, CEO at Impressa Solutions¬†
  • Guest: Chris Tweten, CMO & Founder of SpacebarCollective

In this episode of “Allbound Awesomeness,” host Julie Ewald and guest Chris Tweten, CMO and founder of ethical SEO agency Spacebar Collective, discuss good search engine optimization practices. Chris talks about his agency’s expertise in content operations and backlink building and their focus on working with SaaS and home services companies. Host Julie also discusses her role as Chief Everything Officer for Impressa Solutions and asks Chris about his role in running the agency with his wife.

Time Stamps

00:03:12 SEO improves website visibility.

00:10:08 Hire experienced writers carefully.

00:16:38 Compete with better content.

00:22:21 Quick wins are possible.

00:25:45 Invest in yourself first.

About The Guest

Chris is the CMO of Spacebar Collective, a Canadian growth marketing agency located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Their team supports clients in building authority in their niche with ethical SEO-driven blog production at scale.

Check out his socials: Twitter Linkedin

Keywords

SEO, ethical SEO agency, content ops, backlink building, SaaS., SEO, website, Google, agency, case studies., SEO, agency, case studies, organic, processes.,ethical SEO, risk profile, paid guest post placements, client education, hiring processes, hiring process, projects, B2B SaaS, AI, SEO activities, backlinks, business partners, local citation, directories, guest blogging, relevance, keyword research, content, backlinks, domain rating, search engine result page, competition, resources, contacts, nurture more leads, benefits the bottom line, SEO trends, AI content, Bing and Bard, B2B, content quality, backlinks, SEO myth, quick wins, SEO, outdated techniques, marketing, referrals, social media marketing, PR, podcasts, public speaking, guest blogs, and agency.

Transcript

00:00.00
julieewald
And quick note this will get taken out if we need to repeat anything. We are not committed to 1 take. So if there’s the be you want to redo say the word. Okay, all right? So hello everyone welcome to all bound awesomeness.

00:07.84
Chris Tweten
Toka who sounds good.

00:19.35
julieewald
Brought to you when impress the solutions I am your host Julie e wall the chief everything officer for impressive solutions and I am here with Chris Wheaton hey Chris doing good. How are you doing today? Awesome now happy to have you. So.

00:27.87
Chris Tweten
Hey how’s it going doing pretty good happy to be here.

00:39.80
julieewald
Today. Ah Chris and I are going to be talking about some good search engine optimization awesomeness. Ah for those of you who don’t know Chris chris tween is the Cmo and founder of bpar collective of Vancouver Island based Seo agency. If you want to find Chris you can find him on Twitter you can find him on Linkedin or you can visit him at the space bar collective website. So Chris we know who you are. We know who to found you where to find you I should say um, going to give me some more information about. Spark collective and what kind of folks you work with.

01:18.14
Chris Tweten
Sure thing. Yeah, we’re an ethical Seo agency like I said based out of Vancouver island Canada we’re actually in enyma which is just a short ferry away from Vancouver. We really excel in content ops and backlink building at scale. So we mostly work with. Saas ah b two b saas especially and then a bit we’re dipping our toes into home services so stuff like roofing and plumbing that sort of stuff.

01:46.22
julieewald
So I know you’re the Cmo and I wonder if it’s your kind of your role is a little similar to mine I say I’m chief everything officer because I have my hands still in a lot of ties. So what does your role look like.

01:58.65
Chris Tweten
Yeah, so it’s the tasks are split pretty evenly across the board between myself and my partner I run this agency with my wife. She handles content operations and I’m over on the backlink building side of things. Um, we also. Like you dip our toes into many other things wearing other hats. So she handles hr I handle growth and sales. Um, we launched our agency just a year ago a bit over a year ago we launched in December Twenty Twenty one

02:23.32
julieewald
And how long have you been doing this.

02:34.90
julieewald
Kudos. So so far so good.

02:37.95
Chris Tweten
Yeah, it’s been so smooth sailing so far and we’ve been scaling um quite a bit we turned down an acquisition last year as well. Um, so things are looking really up for us.

02:47.44
julieewald
Oh love it. Good to hear so we’ll pivot a little bit for those who don’t know what search engine optimization is and I’m assuming most of our listeners do. But for the newbies out there. How would you describe Seo and.

03:03.78
Chris Tweten
Search Engine Optimization it’s like it’s an art. It’s a pseudoscience I’m not going to call it quite a science because there’s a lot of guesswork in working with gut feelings. But it’s basically just trying to improve a website and its presence online to appear better in search engines. Um. Simple answer is we make websites appear better on Google um, you know, maybe things will shift maybe in the future. We’ll have to work more with bing but obviously Google’s the main player here. Um, when a website pops up on the first page. We’re trying to get them to appear for when someone searches for a keyword related to their business. So for example, like we’ve produced blog content for instantly that allows them to appear in search results for stuff like email warmup sales pitch examples and then like various email outreach terms.

03:53.77
julieewald
It is oh fantastic. So Seo is something that most businesses most organizations pretty much anyone with the website needs. So for folks who are looking for some seos to help them out. You know how do you choose? There’s a lot of seos out there. What should people be looking for.

04:14.52
Chris Tweten
Yeah I mean first off, there’s a lot of agencies versus freelancers like if you just brought in a consultant and wanted to learn it and like implement their suggestions on your own that is an option but generally speaking if you want to work with an agency um or a consultant. You want to find people who have a proven track record in ranking websites that are similar to your business or similar to your scenario. So for example, if you notice that your traffic has been falling off recently? um, you might want to find someone who specializes in traffic recovery or has experience in that. Um, case studies are like a huge win for Seo agencies trying to get new clients so you know look for those if they’re available. Um, if not just ask for examples of companies in your field that they’ve worked on. It doesn’t necessarily have to be directly in your field because. You know, maybe it’s not the greatest thing to look for an agency representing your competitor. Um, but something like that could help out if if they have case studies or just examples of um, their experience in your field.

05:19.73
julieewald
I Yeah and that’s something that’s really important you know I think a lot of folks forget to ask for case studies which seems kind of silly but I know even for the folks that we work With. We don’t have people asking us to see case studies as often as I would think. Which is a little shocking be able to have that proof ah is really being important.

05:44.31
Chris Tweten
Yeah, we um I’m in a similar position where it’s not maybe like half the clients I talked to or potential clients in sales halls I talked to ask for case studies and where such a young agency so we don’t have many. And we have great sample work. We can share so that’s something we can share where it’s like okay we produce this blog content. We built up these backlinks and here’s what we can do for your company here’s the results so far but we don’t have like written case studies developed for agency yet.

06:16.95
julieewald
And well you know, just let’s give it some time we can start building up more. You know it’s ah we have a lot of them after almost eleven years so you’ll start banking them before you know it? um.

06:25.34
Chris Tweten
Yeah, you know we’re barely a year old so it’s it’s going to take some more time especially with seo when things like takes 6 to twelve months to see results.

06:37.98
julieewald
And yeah, and that’s a really important point for searching and optimization. It’s not something where you know it’s not like running ads where you basically start the ad and turn on the tap Organic Seo does take. Time before you start. Actually you know reaping the rewards of those efforts.

06:55.53
Chris Tweten
Yeah, especially if you’re starting a new site from scratch. But you know if you have an established website. There’s going to be easy wins to look for. We have some clients where it took us just a few weeks to double their traffic and those things are possible but they’re very situational.

07:12.59
julieewald
And very much so so to kind of take it back to picking the right seo for you. What makes spacebar different from the others out there.

07:21.81
Chris Tweten
Well, we don’t really have any secret sauce in what we do I’ve been very transparent about that with clients and even just talking publicly about building our agency but are differentiating factors that we just execute on fundamentals really well and we built up processes so that it’s scalable. Um, I come from a saas startup background working in Cmo Roles so both of us really understand the importance of creating processes that can work for you know a smaller campaign but also a larger campaign. So like when a client is ready to increase their budget. We can really sprint. Um I have one client where we started a. first month we built 12 backlinks for them and three months later we’re doing sixty backlinks a month for them and we don’t really have to change much in our process. We just like amped up the amount of resources we put into different processes.

08:12.98
julieewald
And now that’s fantastic and one of the things as you were speaking that I thought of um when you were doing your intro we were talking you talked about being an ethical ah seo and I think that one thing that’s important for folks to know about is the difference between you know, white hat black hat gray hat. Because especially when it comes to not to not knock freelancers I come from that background myself but there are some folks who are doing non-ethical Seo practices to try to you know gain some quick wins or try to gain the system could you talk a little bit about what. The differences with ethical seo. Yeah.

08:48.68
Chris Tweten
Right? So I mean not everything we do is white hat or like across the board white hat. There are things that we do that take on a higher risk profile. But for us ethical Seo means. We’re going to communicate that risk profile to our clients. We’re going to communicate the exact methodology we’re using and just have full transparency on the methods. We’re using. So for example, we have clients who they really want to scale up their guest blogging quicker than what is normally possible so we look for opportunities that are paid. Now paid guest post placements aren’t fully above board. They are against Google guidelines. But so long as you understand the risk profile and the different processes we take to mitigate that risk. Um I believe that is ethical Seo so long as the client is okay with the methods we’re using.

09:43.62
julieewald
And I think that’s really important is having you know educating and informing you know the clients you work with um, that way, there’s no surprises but they’re also looped into the methods and really understand you know how you’re representing them out there into the world. So.

09:57.65
Chris Tweten
Absolutely yeah.

09:59.44
julieewald
Very cool all right? So just to kind of kind of end the same train. Actually you know there are some mistakes that companies make when it comes to search engine optimization. What are some of these common mistakes that you’ve been stumbling across.

10:15.23
Chris Tweten
Well, the biggest one I see is like people just not putting enough time and effort into their hiring processes. Especially when it comes to hiring writers. Um, we use like a combo of tech and strategic planning to win over talented writers. Um, the biggest thing here is like. Everyone thinks they can write so the talent pool is hard to navigate and it’s oftentimes that people will get an initial first batch of content from a writer and it’s great and then it falls off or you know you discover they’re using Ai to generate it all and it’s just like lower quality than expected. Um. We use like work hello as our go-to platform for hiring it just allows us to assess and test writers from like a very large pool of candidates. Um, and then we kind of just che pick the perfect fits our client. So like if we landed a new client in Hrte. We hire writers with experience and passion for hr. That’s part of our hiring process. We ask like what types of projects. Do you enjoy writing about the most and what things are you not comfortable writing in so you know I have some writers who are amazing at b two b sas um, and then because of. Personal or religious reasons they won’t write ah about anything alcohol or gambling related. So I have clients that are in food and they have like all these blogs on cocktail recipes and I have to assign writers that are very suited for that.

11:43.73
julieewald
And finding the right writer can be really Tough. So I Appreciate you go through that vetting process particularly now with the proliferation of Ai. I know I just went tended a really great webinar this week from the content marketing institute about ah chat Gp T and comparing that to like human created Content. You know it’s ah it doesn’t quite have the same soul yet.

12:12.00
Chris Tweten
Yeah, it’s um, unless you’re like really talented at building out Prompts and you’re doing things modular where you’re generating like a sentence or 2 at a time or a short paragraph. Um, yeah, just I really disagree with people who are. Doing like oneshop blog articles from a prom Tit just doesn’t work the same.

12:32.96
julieewald
It yeah, it just yeah, it doesn’t doesn’t quite hit the same at all. So in terms of Seo activities that can be beneficial a k the non-mis um, is there a single seo activity that seems to make more of a difference than.

12:44.12
Chris Tweten
Yep.

12:49.53
julieewald
Other things or the 1 thing to start with if someone’s you know wants to start doing seo for their organization and.

12:57.40
Chris Tweten
Right? It’s it’s really hard to narrow it down just to one task. What I would say is like it’s all so very situational. You kind of need it all. Um, so it’s all about whatever your starting point is so we like to boil it down to like 2 main tasks in our deliverables. Content production and then backlink building. So according to Google to be considered a topical authority on any any topic at all, you need kind of like a base library of 30 pages before they consider you an authority. Um, so if you don’t have that blog content. That’s something I would work on first and then afterwards I’d work on building backlinks to that content if it’s like indexed and ranking even if it’s ranking poorly The idea here is like producing content will widen the net of total keywords that you can rank for and then backlinks will speed up the process of. Getting you to page 1.

13:54.92
julieewald
And you you said something that I want to follow up with really quick about building the backlinks. Um, you know we talked about backlinks a little bit would you have any tips for how to you know? Organically, you know garner backlinks.

14:11.15
Chris Tweten
Right? Um, the easiest way like okay I would start out as talking to any kind of business partners that you have any strategic partnerships getting into a partner page is going to be a good starting base for you. Another is local citations. So if you’re a small business build up your Google maps profile your Apple Maps Yelp whatever is relevant to you and business directories will help. Um, if you’re in Sas, you don’t really have that option but there are directories that work for you. Um, that. Kind of go underrepresented in Seo for a b two b saas. So for example, get yourself listed on all the software review sites Crunchbat in directories as well. So crunchbase g 2 captera these all provide like Dr Eighty to 90 backlinks that are due follows. So. They do move the needle when you’re first starting out and then beyond that I would start guest blogging guest blogging is going to be the best thing you can do because people want high quality content if you can write content that is on par or better than what they’re already producing. It’s kind of a win-win like personally. Have websites where I publicly say like I do not accept guest posts I don’t at all. But if someone pitches me in like the topic is the right fit I’ll take it.

15:33.45
julieewald
And yeah, very very much so and I think one of the things that are important to remember you know with with backlink building as well and guest posting particularly is just making sure that that relevance is there. Ah, we’ve worked In. We’ve worked in the past with seos who got a little fast and loose and all of a sudden you have you know a a health care Saas Company. You know with an article on a I don’t know an entertainment website and it just says little head scratchy so making sure the the relevance there is really important too.

15:59.60
Chris Tweten
Yeah.

16:07.59
Chris Tweten
Relevancy on the overall site and then also on a per topic level. It’s super important.

16:07.64
julieewald
Um.

16:13.76
julieewald
Yeah, very much so when it comes then to selecting Keywords Ah keyword research while it seems really easy and straightforward. It’s not necessarily. You know as easy and straightforward as it seems. So Do you have any tips for targeting and leveraging the right terms.

16:35.28
Chris Tweten
Right? So on a basic level. You have to really just surely believe in ah, accept that if you have better content. You can outrank um, more authoritative sites. So once you gather that concept and you’re okay with that. You have to look past just the surface level metrics I’d like eight drafts or somesh gives you keyword difficulty traffic potential. Yes, these are important things but they’re not the and allp all so what I would do is I look at the first page of the search result. Ah, search engine result page and then I just assess if it’s realistic for your site to compete based on those metrics and a drafts so look at the total number of backlinks look at the drr of domain rating of these sites. Um, and then the other thing is look at the chart that shows who’s been ranking top 10 and just see if it’s very volatile like if it’s just like flat lines across the board. It’s probably really difficult to compete on that. Even if you have quality content. But if you see like a bunch of people going in and out and going up and down. Um, that means there is wiggle room there.

17:41.60
julieewald
And so follow up question. What do you do? If you have a client that wants to rank for something that there is just absolutely no way they’re going to break through. How do you break the news to them.

17:55.97
Chris Tweten
Um, well that’s the thing I don’t because we work with backlink building at scale. That’s like a huge staple of our company. Um, so for example I have a client right now they have ah a suite of photo editing tools that are. Going for really insanely competitive keywords all above keyword difficulty of like 80 they’re competing with sites like canva um Adobe like it’s it’s ridiculous on paper. But then you look at it and I look and see how many backlinks are actually needle moving backlinks. For those pages and it’s just a matter of time and enough resources to build backlinks for them. It’s not going to be as like again, it’s a situational win. So if they didn’t have the budget for this It’s just not going to be possible for them and that’s when I’d break the news like okay, you know what. You don’t have the resources to compete in this field.

18:53.27
julieewald
And I think that’s ah, that’s a good way to put it. We’ve had a few times um, ourselves working with folks that had kind of eyes bigger than their wallets in terms of some of the things they wanted to rank for and it’s not a fun conversation to you know, let let a small startup know that unless they you know. Really bring you know to? you know their pockets inside out, get all the the last penny out. There’s no way they’re compete with the New York Times so anyone in terms that ah some.

19:21.90
Chris Tweten
Yeah.

19:29.60
julieewald
Ah, Seo Trends or even content marketing trends. What are you saying that you’re excited about.

19:34.61
Chris Tweten
Oh I wouldn’t be in Seo if I didn’t talk about Ai in this field I’m really excited to watch like even now how the Seo landscape has been changing with generative Ai platforms Chad Gp and Jasper in particular have already changed. You know it’s changed the hiring market. It’s changed um quite a bit of things. It kind of pushed for the helpful content update to come out. Um Google wasn’t necessarily punishing Ai content specifically but punishing low quality content but you know it just so happens a lot of this ai content is low quality. Um, being and barred are really exciting as well. Um, it’s it’s really interesting like lots of quality websites are going to die out. Um, especially websites that answer queries that can be answered by ai. So. You know I look forward to not having to read thousand word articles that don’t tell me when a tv show comes back on air for example or you know what day of the week does a Tv show air. So I can just download it and I don’t have to sift through page one results and not get my answer.

20:44.19
julieewald
And yeah I think you know while a lot of people are a little scared about what ai brings or you know a little worried about the uncertainty I think overall for marketers and also just for the folks that we engage with you know the people who are actually searching for things. It’s going to be really beneficial. Um and really helpful. Even if people are a little nervous about it right now.

21:08.26
Chris Tweten
Especially if you’re in b two b like it’s only going to drive like if content quality across the board on the internet is lowered because of Ai the result of that is backlinks are going to become more powerful. Ah, seo is going to become a more expensive service because it’s going to get harder. But those who can do it are really going to thrive.

21:33.20
julieewald
And very much so so on the other side of the coin. Ah what are some marketing Trends or misconceptions that you run into that you wish would just go away and.

21:45.16
Chris Tweten
Right? We kind of touched on this already. But the 1 seo myth that I really hate seeing is that it takes six months to see or deliver results from Seo um, it’s usually true for brand new domains. But it’s often not the case with older ones or more established sites. Um, there’s a lot of quick wins to be made on many sites like the most obvious one is like if you are already ranking position 6 to 11 or even like 11 to 20 um, going from page 1 to page 2 that’s a huge win for many people.

22:19.78
julieewald
Yeah, no very much so and there’s always this little this quick wins even if someone you know we’ve worked with folks that have established domains that they’ve kind of done all of the wrong things at every Juncture. Um, so it’s ah you know there’s always something even in the most. And I say the most dire Circumstance. It’s not that bad, but there always is something to start turning it around quickly.

22:42.46
Chris Tweten
It’s always so like like my heart breaks a bit when I see a company has made like a $50000 mistake on their Seo or something just putting resources into techniques that like are outdated or just not going to work for their site and I’m trying to fix it for them for like ah couple thousand dollars and I’m like really that’s all you needed.

23:01.35
julieewald
And yeah, it really is heartbreaking. We’ve worked with some folks that they’ve sunk a lot of money just in the completely wrong direction and it ends up being more expensive sometimes to remedy the situation that they just you know blew an entire you know Quarter’s marketing budget on.

23:19.93
Chris Tweten
Do.

23:20.70
julieewald
And they’ve gone the wrong Way. So okay, so as we’re wrapping things up. Um my question for you. So as a marketer. Ah so I impressivees solutions has been really kind of big at the push to be ours client. That’s why we’re doing things like this podcast and been making a lot of video content and. Trying to double down on Social. So I’m always curious about what other marketers are doing to Market themselves So You don’t need to get in the weeds but Broad strokes. What have you been doing for your own marketing and.

23:52.39
Chris Tweten
There’s really 3 channels for our agency and like part of that is because our website is not functional. It’s being produced right now a year in we decided hey we need a working website so inbound marketing hasn’t been a huge part of what we do, but. Referrals from existing clients and from any and kind of business partners. So I have like backlink partners where we trade contacts for guest blogs. Um, and leads have come out of that some high- paying clients have come out of that. Um, and then we do a bit of social media marketing. But it’s really like. Just being active networking on Twitter and then repurposing Twitter content to Linkedin. Um, I find there’s probably a wider net we could cast by doing video content on Youtube and Tiktok. But personally I just like doing text format content. So. Stick with what we were really comfortable with and then the other aspect is doing pr so we’re doing like podcasts like yours we’re doing public speaking we’re writing guest blogs for high profile companies. Um, we did one for like Andreessen horovitz’ site future.com recently or not. Must have been last year we have some stuff coming up with like Jasper and zapier campaign monitor. So that stuff like brings in eyeballs to at least? Okay, these people have some expertise and we can get our name out there.

25:20.10
julieewald
And that’s really exciting and it’s really it’s awesome that especially as a young agency you’re already doing so many of the right things for yourself. Um I don’t want to tell you how long it took us to start investing in being our own best client but a little longer than I’d be comfortable to share.

25:37.81
Chris Tweten
Different journeys for sure I mean I this is my third agency I’ve run um none have gone as well as this and I’ve worked in a number of failed startups. So trust me when I say like.

25:51.25
Chris Tweten
The past year is not the starting point for me either.

25:55.92
julieewald
I yeah know and you know overall Chris you’ve been a delight I really appreciate you taking the time to ah to chat? is there anything anything I missed.

26:06.16
Chris Tweten
I Think we covered all bases. It’s It’s been a really nice chat with you.

26:12.20
julieewald
Yeah, this was fantastic. So ah, there’s again Chris Cmo and Outer Spar collective find him on Twitter find him at Linkedin at once the site is back up and running at spacebarcocollectiveive.com

26:25.56
Chris Tweten
Thanks for that. Yeah, you too.

26:28.65
julieewald
Yeah, thank you so much Chris have a great rest of your day. Thanks and thank you everyone else for listening and then I pause because we’ll put something else after that anyway I was to stop recording.

26:39.33
Chris Tweten
Yeah.

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