Attention White Hat SEO Network by Chase Reiner.
Today we are doing an AMA with Steven Kang.
Steven has been involved in digital marketing scene since 1998. He currently owns multiple SAAS platforms, does client SEO and white label services, and wrote a guide to SEO Signals Framework. He has worked with numerous brands ranging from Fortune 500 to small businesses providing various services related to marketing technology and marketing solutions.
Bonus: whoever asks Steven the most thoughtful question (as deemed by Steven) wins a $25 Amazon gift card by the end of today.
Ask him anything!
Aaron Carmen: Steven Kang are you doing some test for what or not works? I’m talking about ranking factors btw.
Steven Kang: I am always testing but I also appreciate great insights from experienced SEOs. I also appreciate great SEO minds like Bill Slawski, Ammon Johns, and other amazing local SEO’s like Matthew Versteeg, Alex C Barr, and Chaz Edward. I can’t name them all as there are too many. But testing should be combined with insights or it is meaningless.
Aaron Carmen: awesome
Omid Khan: What was your key to not only surviving but thriving in this market for so long? Actual success with core SEO, or getting smart with being a developer who solves problems with his SaaS solutions? Or other factors?
Steven Kang: I’ve spent a lot of time studying human behavior as well as holistic marketing. I was also fortunate enough to work with big brands as well as small businesses. It really opened up my horizon. What helps is when I talk to prospects, they appreciate my attempt to understand their business from multi-angles, not just narrowly confined technical SEO. So, being able to present a birds-eye view as well as detailed strategy resonates with them.
Omid Khan: Thank you
Saroosh Khan: What is your go-to software for client management, workflow, and reporting?
Also, When is the next Rank or go home challenge coming
Steven Kang: I used to use Trello but over the years, I’ve been transitioning my workflow process to a custom developed CMS. It just makes implementing SOP process easier as I can refine the tool per need basis.
As for Rank or Go Home challenge, I’m thinking of next month with a different twist.
Saroosh Khan: Steven Kang can you recommend any resource where I could look up for possible ways to develop SOPs for SEO?
Steven Kang: You can come to my group and be on the lookout for the next contest. https://www.facebook.com/groups/SEOSignalsLab/
Saroosh Khan: Steven Kang I was Razzmatazz in the last one
Aaron Carmen: who introduced you to SEO world? and how it become your passion?
Steven Kang: Unlike many seasoned hardcore SEO, I’ve started web design as a hobby while teaching martial arts. I then became a developer catering to large agencies/Fortune 500 for custom web projects. But because projects required SEO optimized pages, I began to study and implement them over time on various projects. So, my SEO background is a bit different than most as I was never an affiliate marketer or an internet marketer like most. But once I discovered it, I fell in love as I am analytical by nature and I’ve inherited tools and technology required to test various parameters. Connecting marketing dots to technical SEO is always fun.
Toka Janelidze: Martial Arts? Wow, that’s interesting…
Motti Eliyahu: Wow I got into Seo the same way. Well besides the martial arts part
Gautam: Which martial art(s)?
Aaron Carmen: Such an interesting background you have Steven Kang
Steven Kang: Gautam Taekwondo and Hapkido.
Joshua McAdams: You speak a lot of automation and delegation:
1) How much specificity can you get into about what you mean by “automation”? Is this automation in the traditional sense of “fire and forget” or are you talking about systems that make repetitive tasks faster?
2) How long did it take to get your core team together? Are they continually in operation or do you pull people on ad-hoc as you need them? Do you manage these ops personally or do you have a girl Friday? Do you also use outsource / white label vendors as needed?
Steven Kang: 1) Both. From a larger picture perspective, you can systematize the process as there is always a pattern to everything. i.e. pillar content requires expert writers but you can systematize the entire S.O.P. For lower level rankings like super low volume keywords, you can create an automated process by creating a CMS system as patterns tend to be repetitive. I love mixing pillar content and low hanging fruit landing pages as my SEO strategy.
2) It was an evolving process. My paid side is completely managed by a dedicated manager. I also have an elastic workforce which is super useful in dealing with elastic demands. i.e. I can deploy a large number of writers as I have created a portal process to manage them. I also have a network of outreach link builders.
Joshua McAdams: Thanks, man!
Aaron Carmen: What is the biggest pain point you have experienced?
Steven Kang: The biggest pain point was learning to scale while finding that sweet spot for profitability. If you keep expanding for the sake of expanding, you run into profit margin and cash flow issues. If you are too conservative, you don’t grow. Finding that right balance was challenging and it seems this is the part most growing agencies face and struggle with.
If you are a growing agency grossing at least 500K not including client ad spend, I will be opening a free mastermind group soon. You can apply here.
Aaron Carmen: Steven Kang that’s what actually I struggle right now, finding the sweet spot for profitability. I will be joining that group pretty soon
Do you recommend PBN in 2018?
Sami Umar: Aaron Carmen Yes if you will do it perfectly
Steven Kang: Different type of SEO requires different strategies. There is a huge disconnect between the right context versus applying what you need to do to gain traction. Keep in mind that there are different SEO strategies for different goals.
1) Rank and Rent (some call this Rank and Ransom or Rank and Rant)
2) Affiliate SEO
3) Pay Per Lead SEO
4) Client SEO (big brand vs. small business)
5) E-commerce SEO
Yes, PBN can pass juice since they are all signals but you need to weigh risk versus reward. I would not recommend PBN links for big brand rankings. I would, however, recommend PBN links for rank and rent, affiliate, or lead gen sites as you can take more risks. So, it’s not really the black and white situation. SEO is about using signals in a strategic way.
My personal view of PBN is this. They are like short-lived batteries. Use with caution.
Only an amateur SEO uses one size fits all SEO approach.
Aaron Carmen: Got it Steven Kang, thanks
Doug Seidl: I your opinion, is what is 1-3 of the most important and underrated things in running an SEO business? What are people not giving enough attention to, that they should be?
Steven Kang: Filling the pipeline (pre-sales stage and funnel) is the most important part although they are all important. Some focus on SEO deliverables. Some focus on sales. In reality, I’ve seen too many agencies barely make enough to thrive just because they can’t fill the pipeline.
Aaron Carmen: What is the most commons mistake SEO agencies make?
Steven Kang: What’s really plaguing the industry is not understanding what it takes to move the needle and taking on clients. Most agencies cave into the client’s budget without properly setting the expectations and this practice hurts everyone. The business side of SEO requires being able to set the right expectations while delivering results over time. If not, you end up dealing with people suffering from UES (Unrealistic Expectation Syndrome).
Mihir Naik: Marc Moeller Something we discussed yesterday.
Steven Kang Wise words!
Serg Erencio: I have been learning from your SEO framework “TRAP” thanks a lot
Colt Agar: Do you believe as the algorithm has warped over the past 1-2 years that on-page is becoming more important to focus on than off-page? Not saying you don’t need both, but time spent doing both should be equal or uneven in one or the other’s favor.
Steven Kang: Yes, more weight has been shifted toward Google understanding content relevancy and user intent via Rank Brain. It’s the reason why we are seeing more and more SEOs touting linkless SEO. Therefore, we should keep the target audience in mind when creating content and work on link building as its support. Great content is the foundation and links should be the support.
Colt Agar: Steven Kang great answer, thanks!
Hayk Saakian: Do you see your own cost do deliver results increasing due to an emphasis on high-quality content?
Jahir Rayhan: what is the most common mistake that people does in link building and on the page?
Steven Kang: On-page – SEOs need to be watchful of related keywords clout clusterization. Too many different topical directions can dilute the page relevancy.
Link building – You have to be aware of which page has the strength for ranking and adjust accordingly. Some sites do have more authority signal on their homepage. Some do not. It’s a technical SEO’s job to monitor and make an adjustment per need basis.
Jahir Rayhan: Thanks
Steven Kang: I’ll keep answering throughout the day and tomorrow. Dealing with meetings and chores.
John Carcutt: If the future of Search is Voice Search, have you come to any conclusions on how this will change the work you do for yourself, clients or White Label?
Steven Kang: I am finding that Google Assistant fetching fewer results via mobile. It means optimizing for longer-tail keywords, natural speaking patterns, and building site authority will play an important role.
Erik Wolf: The man, the myth, the legend!
Steven Kang: Thanks!
Aaron Stemen: Steven Kang, is SEO dead?
I’m not getting that gift card, am I?
Steven Kang: SEO is dead…
1) if you are doing client SEO and your only strategy is PBN.
2) if your only source of info. is SEO blogs from 2010 and earlier.
3) if you are good friends with Fiverr ambassadors and that’s your entire SEO resources.
4) if your best work is ranking ‘sexiest man doing SEO under 25 living in Canada.
Abass Adeola Toriola: Hey Steven Kang, is there a difference in the way SEO is done purely informational pages vs. how it’s done for commercialized content such as “Best of” product review articles?
Steven Kang, in your experience, what are some of the most widely overlooked SEO strategies that really work?
Peter Stavrou: How exactly do you monitor SEO signals? Do you use specific tools? Serpbook for example? Look at the search console? Etc…
Steven Kang: SEO is essentially a game of beating competing pages on SERP. That said, you can compartmentalize macro signals into Technical, Relevancy, Authority, and Popularity. In essence, you are trying to determine cause and effect relationships. What’s tricky is you are almost always dealing with multi-variable situations and you often get false positives. To make things worse, Google’s algorithm is a man-made set of engineered programming codes and can be changed on a whim but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to figure out the predictable outcome to a degree.
For practical purposes, I use SerpBook to track a set of variables. i.e. links from a group of outreach guest blogs vs a group of web 2.0 links. The key is testing several sets of groups, not one link vs another which is meaningless. Plus, comparing notes with other testers is always helpful.
Chase Leftwich: 1) In your opinion where do you see SEO going in 5 or 10 years?
2) Do you foresee any strategic long-term advantages that could be implemented now? Or more specifically are there any key areas that you see currently being underutilized that you feel could pay long-term dividends into the future for those that are ahead of the game.
Steven Kang: 1) I have a suspicion that more local SEO niches will be taken over by ads such as Google Guaranteed.
2) I just don’t see certain aspects of SEO going away for a while. For example, no one is going to click on an ad to see mattress reviews. I’ve even consulted an 8 figure mattress company regarding this. Although SEO’s know that most online reviews and informational content are manufactured to create a bias, the general public doesn’t know this. As long as there is a demand for non-biased content, Google can’t ignore it since it fuels their advertising business model.
Stuart Trier: Steven Kang what are you and John King having for dinner tonight and where is my invite?
Steven Kang: John wants Korean again. You are always invited but since you may not be able to come, I can Fedex you some left over.
Stuart Trier: Steven Kang I had Korean for lunch. It was good.
Chase Leftwich: How much value do you put on the information that Google trickles out about SEO?
Steven Kang: Google is both a search engine and an advertising platform. Google, however, has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders. It means Google can’t have a genius figuring out the entire algorithm and stay ahead of the organic traffic game 100% of the time as it would mean the end of their ad revenue model. For this reason, Google needs a good PR dept. while rolling out the updates. The information fed by Google to the public needs to be taken with caution as Google is the master of vaguenesses and misdirections.
Gautam: The most thoughtful question:
How was your day, dear?
Also, is SEO dead?
Steven Kang: See above. I’ve addressed the ‘SEO is dead’ issue.
Henry Bockman: What are the best tools/resources you use, or would recommend for;
- On page optimization
- Content creation
- Automating google my biz posting
- Content propagation from WordPress sites for siloing WordPress sites
- Automating facebook company page posting
- Creating citations for local listings
- Building backlinks for WordPress sites
- Monitoring rankings for keywords
- Creating GMB multiple listings for a company
- Lead generation for service companies
- Best marketing/advertising resource for service companies like facebook, AdWords etc.
Steven Kang: There are too many questions to be answered here and too many great resources so I’ll skip. Since you are in SEO Signals Lab, I highly recommend searching the group. There are lots of great answers there by other marketers.
Henry Bockman: Steven Kang so does that mean I had the best question?
Steven Kang: Henry Bockman Categorically, yes. You’ve won the most overwhelming question.
Henry Bockman: LOL… So my wife was right, I am a bit overwhelming at times.
Aaron De Roza: As client SEO seems to be a red ocean with so much competition, would you advise someone starting out to look into affiliate or local SEO instead?
Steven Kang: That’s not a bad idea but be sure to pair a niche’s pain point and SEO skills. Not understanding either well will make the venture into a wasted effort.
Khoo Teng Yong Christopher:
– with Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) website and email.
the ccTLD, in this case, is a .sg domain.
– with products used locally and expanding regionally and globally.
The website aims to have a regional and global reach.
The .sg helps for local SEO but for national SEO, would you just use the .sg domain?
What keeps you in it?
I know you probably have built a process around that. And I don’t want you to spell everything out.
But if you can give us a little context on how you go and measure, we could probably develop our own.
Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions.
From a marketing perspective, be sure to include a hook addressing the right buyer’s journey which can also improve the CTR.
Abhishek Shukla: Thank you, Steven
My favorites are Google’s SERP itself, SerpBook’s API, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, and Google Sheets.
It’s about cutting out the noise.
Steven Kang: There was a good discussion regarding this in my group.
Personally, I don’t use it for an analysis.
Kelly Hector: Hi Steven what do you think about the potential for small business owners to target the LinkedIn platform and also present themselves with a complete
Steven Kang: If you are asking whether small businesses can target LinkedIn to drum up more business, they can but it won’t be easy as there is a rule of engagement required for marketing and sales.
I’m also not 100% sure if I’m addressing your question though. Perhaps you can clarify more.
Kelly Hector: Well thanks and yes I appreciate your knowledge and experience you answered completely I felt it may be a potential goldmine your saying not easy. Thanks for the feedback.
Kelly Melbourne Australia
Steven Kang: Kelly Hector Yes, this can be a goldmine as a marketer connecting B2B. You can sell lead gen services if you understand how to approach and close
Nathan Wilde: What’s the future of e-commerce? Will SEO still play its part or will we be moving to all PPC or social media etc?
Steven Kang: With commerce, buyer’s journey differs for each product. The longer the buyer’s journey, pre-education plays a crucial role. From an SEO perspective, you can exponentially grow your potential keywords list and leverage organic traffic. I’ve said earlier in someone’s post, no one will click on an ad to see reviews. Fusing pre-education content with reviews will always have demand and Google has no reason to shut the organic traffic down. Google is an advertising platform and not in the business of creating educational content.
Nathan Wilde: Steven Kang Thanks Steven, keep up the great work, love your group.
Hayk Saakian: What books (business/ SEO/ marketing/ etc.) would you suggest reading?
Steven Kang: So far, all books I’ve read had something to contribute to marketing & business insights one way or the other. Nothing becomes wasted.
For practical marketing, I highly recommend https://www.amazon.com/Oversubscribed-How…/dp/0857086197 and https://www.amazon.com/Traction-Get-Grip…/dp/B007QWLLV2
For deeper and broader insights, I recommend consuming all of Seth Godin’s books.
Gary S. Hart: All of Seth’s
Steven Kang: Understand the market and segment buyer’s journey keywords. Start ranking for long-tails and go up from there. If working on a brand new site, you need to start priming the site using various signals including brand name mentions.
Steven Kang: It is possible but there are several factors working against the business model.
1) Writing has been commoditized and everyone is looking for the cheapest pricing possible in our industry.
2) There is no recurring component and you need to always deal with an elastic demand.
3) To scale, you need to tap into a pool of good writers but reaching and maintaining a steady supply will be a time-consuming chore itself.
4) You are fighting against writing services brokerage platforms unless you create your own platform. Even if you own a platform, promoting will be expensive.
5) Most growing agencies hire in-house writers and outsource low-quality writing projects to easy-to-manage platforms.
Here is a post dedicated to you. https://www.facebook.com/…/permalink/2111626729154778/
Steven Kang: Why is yours “
Jahir Rayhan: Steven Kang does google still valued
Steven Kang: Hint: Internet marketers ruin everything. Never follow the crowd as once something is used by everyone and Google hears about it, it becomes devalued. 😃
Jahir Rayhan: Steven Kang one last question I have one last childish question. I have two
Aman Kapoor: Steven Kang if a person searches for something where his intention is to gain info like “weekend getaways from
But when a user searches of things like “service companies in
Henry Bockman: Reviews, faq’s, prices for, best “keyword”, coupons, comparisons, company’s experience, and obviously “keyword city”. Also, answer specific questions about a service. Take plumbing, for example, write detailed content about getting a toilet fixed.
Sorry… I own five local service companies.
Aman Kapoor: Henry Bockman If I write about getting a toilet fixed, then linking it to the homepage is something that would help me right when somebody searches for plumbers in the city.