In episode 300, Megan chats with Brandon Gaille, founder of RankIQ and entrepreneur extraordinaire, about keyword research and backlinks, both important topics for bloggers.
We cover information about the importance of all food bloggers learning to do keyword research well, the most common mistakes made when doing keyword research and tactics for gaining high quality backlinks.
Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.
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Bio Brandon Gaille is an entrepreneur who founded multiple 7 figure businesses in his 20s before becoming disabled by a rare disorder for nearly a decade. He eventually regained his health and started a blog. He grew his blog to over 1 million visitors in just 18 months after his first blog post. Today, he gets 5 million monthly visitors from over 100,000 first-page Google rankings. Brandon has taught his SEO growth hacks to over 20,000 bloggers through his podcast (The Blogging Millionaire). This past year he launched RankIQ, an AI-powered SEO toolset tailored for bloggers and small businesses that have a blog. This year RankIQ was ranked #1 out of all 333 SEO tools by G2 for customer satisfaction and ease of use.
- Write a sister post to support each of your main dishes on your site then link internally to them.
- You will increase your average time on page by getting a percentage of the people that are reading those main dish and side dish recipe lists.
- Find keywords that your blog can rank for vs what you want to create.
- Focus on low competition words. Even high domain blogs need to incorporate this into their strategy.
- Posts that are #1 on the page get about 35% of the traffic. By the time you get to the #4 spot, you only get 6% of the traffic.
- When you rank number one, you’re getting a significant amount of backlinks too.
- Search volume means how many times someone did a search on Google for that specific phrase. It’s completely inaccurate for keyword research.
- Quality backlinks can be received by going on a podcast to be interviewed.
- Using HARO (help a reporter out) to submit an article is another way to receive a quality backlink.
- Classify old blog posts into four quadrants.
Quadrant #1 – old blog posts that have or get significant that have lost traffic in the last 12 months.
Quadrant #2 – blog posts that are getting traffic, but rank number four or lower.
Quadrant #3 – posts that are ranking number one, number two, number three.
Quadrant #4 – posts that get zero to no traffic.
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Brandon Gaille: Hi, this is Brandon Gaille from RankIQ and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk, scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value. I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay. Now on to the episode.
Megan Porta: Food bloggers, what’s up today? How are you? Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. This is the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and the confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ and it also involves the founder of RankIQ. That’s who I will be interviewing today, Brandon Gaille. I am your host, Megan Porta and you are listening to episode number 300. Today, Brandon and I are going to have a super fun chat. He’s going to share with us all we need to know about keyword research and backlinks and the importance of both of those things.
Brandon Gaille is an entrepreneur who founded multiple seven figure businesses in his twenties before becoming disabled by a rare disorder for nearly a decade. He eventually regained his health and started a blog. He grew his blog to over 1 million visitors in just 18 months after his first blog post. Today, he gets 5 million monthly visitors from over 100,000 1st page Google rankings.
Brandon has taught his SEO growth hacks to over 20,000 bloggers through his podcast, The Blogging Millionaire. This past year, he launched RankIQ, an AI powered SEO tool set, tailored for bloggers and small businesses that have a blog. This year, RankIQ was ranked number one out of all 333 SEO tools by G2 for customer satisfaction and ease of use.
Hello, Brandon. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m super excited to chat with you.
Brandon Gaille: I’m glad to be here.
Megan Porta: So you have a compelling and pretty incredible story. I was reading through your, what is it, it was like your story on your website, just about your history and what you’ve been through. You and your wife have been through so much. I would love it. If you just touched on it a little bit, you don’t have to go through the whole story, but tell us about how you went from being an entrepreneur, creating multiple seven figure businesses in your twenties, which is so impressive. To having issues, being mentally disabled for close to a decade, and then turning into a professional blogger. Can you give us just like a rundown of all of that?
Brandon Gaille: Yeah. So in my twenties after college, I got straight into an internet marketing company and it was actually before Google and Yahoo was there. It did very well. I got it into seven figures. We were building websites that ranked number one on Yahoo. Then we spun off an email marketing company that was another seven figure company. Things were going really good for three to four months as I was getting into my late twenties. Then I started having different health issues arise. Within a matter of three years, I went from multiple seven figure companies to completely broke. It’s just one of those things as an entrepreneur, you’re counted on for your mind, because most of the times you don’t have a 200 person company. If you’re not there, everything continues to run. So when my mind went and I was no longer there, the money went fast and I began making bad decisions because my mental capacity was no longer there. So I ended up just stopping all the entrepreneur stuff because it just wasn’t working. When I was down to my last, I think $10,000, I moved to Houston cause I was in Dallas before that. I didn’t have anything to my name except a used car and I didn’t have enough money for a deposit or for credit. So I had to go to Craigslist and I found someone that rented a, I don’t know if it’s 75 or a hundred square foot bedroom. I was able to get that. I was just staying alive at that point, but God had a plan for me. What was interesting is that I met my future wife on match.com and we were talking through matches. Then when we finally went on a date and we talked about where we lived, we literally lived two blocks from each other. So like a five minute walking distance. I could just walk to her house. So God took everything away from me so he could place me right there. Right next to where she lived. My health didn’t get better and the doctors couldn’t figure it out. I guess I had over a period of about three to four years as most of my major systems of my body began to fail. I’d seen over a hundred specialists and I guess it got to probably the lowest point when I went to my cardiologist and they put me through the different tests. Then by the time I was driving back, I got a phone call from the lead cardiologist of the practice. He told me that I have a major heart problem and he’s made room to have a heart cath immediately the next morning. He’s lining up a surgeon because he expects to find out that I need to have immediate heart surgery. He said, go ahead and call everyone that you know and let them know. It wasn’t so much the difficulty of hearing about it for myself. I think the hardest part is when I had to call my parents and then hear how they acted. But they came in. Had the heart cath got out of the heart cath and then the cardiologist came into the hospital room at that time. He said, I don’t know what’s going on. It’s not anything with your heart. But do you need to say here, because we obviously need to figure out what’s going on.
Then later that evening, the nurse told me to go ahead and get up and I can take a shower. I got up to go take a shower, got out of my gown. At that point, I’m just feeling lightheaded and I looked down, it was where they do the heart cath. They do it in your femoral artery and your thigh. Then all of a sudden it looked like the size of my fist came up out of my leg and fortunately my fiance was there at the time. I came out trying to get back to the bed before I started to faint and I fell on the bed. I stayed awake still and that’s when I heard them call out the code blue. They sent in, starting with a couple of doctors and nurses and they started taking turns, putting pressure on the femoral artery because there was nothing they could do to open me up and fix it in time because the blood was just flowing. So they had to try to just pressure it. I guess about eight minute. I guess I remember there were probably eight nurses and doctors at that point. The doctor was looking me in the eyes, like in the movies, saying, stay with me. I could see my fiance just up against the wall, just withdrawn and helpless. But fortunately after another 10 minutes they were able to get it to clot. I survived that scenario. Then I guess, kept on going from doctor to doctor over a hundred different specialists, testing everything. Then amazingly where my body basically wasn’t working in any aspect, my wife became pregnant with our first child and a couple of months after she became pregnant, we were constantly reaching out to different friends and business people trying to get someone that can make me better. I finally got put to this one doctor who focused on a rare condition called dysautonomia. He was able to diagnose me with that. At that point I probably had an IQ of 80. I couldn’t drive a car anymore. I could barely walk, because anytime I got up, I had vertigo. So I had to use a bedpan. I could barely have a conversation and say a sentence. Everyone had just written me off at that point because it had been about four or five years of deterioration. So no one that I had business relationships with anymore. A lot of my friends didn’t contact me before because I guess it was depressing to see someone that was healthy and successful be just completely done and no one knows what’s happening to them.
But the doctor gave me some experimental medication and I started sleeping 20 to 23 hours a day for the first week to the point where my wife called the doctor and said, is he dying? He was just like, no. What’s happened is with this dysautonomia he hasn’t been able to sleep basically for eight or nine years. So he’s having to catch up with the sleep deficit. Once I went through that sleep, once I got ahold of that sleep, I basically had a mental awakening. The physical problems with my body continued to be there, but my brain was all of a sudden just back online after about 15 to 20 days.
But it was all for a reason because at that point, when I came back online, wife noticed a red mark on her breast. We saw a doctor and they thought it was just something to do with her pregnancy. At that point it was just they felt a nodule about the size of a small pencil eraser and they thought it was just tissue, but within 30 days, the size of the eraser size mark had gone to the size of an orange. So it was a tumor that massively grew in 30 days. Then that’s when they found out after the biopsy that it was cancer. We were sent to MD Anderson first and it was pretty grim. They said it was stage three inflammatory breast cancer, and that our chances of survival were like 60%. Then we went to Baylor for a second opinion and they said the chances of survival were actually 40%. They said, we’ve got to immediately get in there and do the surgery this week and start chemo, impossible radiation.
We were just like, what about our child? They said we’re worried about saving the patient and the patient is your wife. We’re not worried about the child at this point. So that was a tough decision because we were having to decide whether to do the treatment and possibly harm our unborn son or he would die in the process. So I went back and I just, at the time I wasn’t a Christian, but I had seen a doctor who was a Christian.
He asked if he could pray over me and he prayed over me asking for miracles. I didn’t think much of it, but looking back on it, I can see how that played just a big factor because I went home and I just felt the urge to start doing research on women that had cancer that were also pregnant. Within an hour, I’d found some obscure study talking about how the pregnancy hormones supercharged the cancer. How that the diagnosis can be wrong because the tumor can be blowing up, but it can still be stage one or stage zero, but they could be treating it as a stage three, stage four.
So I went back to the doctor at Baylor, brought my wife there. I told him the theory that I had. One thing I did notice is when they did the biopsy, it wasn’t conclusive of the cancer breaking out of the cell. He said, yeah, it’s a possibility. Then I told them, what would it hurt? I told him to basically take 20 points around the tumor because it’s huge. What would happen if you took 20 biopsies from that tumor at different points and it all came back inconclusive as the cancer broke out. He said, it’s not going to come back that way, but I’ll do it.
He said the breast is going to be taken anyways this week. So taking the needle biopsies will be that painful. So my wife agreed to it and she was pretty depressed at that point because of the whole stuff about our baby and the 40% survival rate, but they did it. They found out that it was still stage zero. So they didn’t change the fact that they had to immediately do the surgery, but they didn’t have to do all the chemo and radiation. When it came to Chris, we had our baby and the baby was born healthy. Then Christmas came and at Christmas, they did the test and it was completely gone. She didn’t have any treatment, anything, and she was cancer free and she’s been cancer-free since. So that was an incredible experience going through that.
As time went by we had another child and gradually I became healthy enough to attempt to start a business again. I started a marketing services company. Had clients and did that, but I wasn’t that great at it because they counted on me all the time. All my clients wanted to talk to me so I could never get many clients beyond a handful because I was needed. Then I was always thinking to myself, If I get sick again, then I’m not gonna have this. This is going to go to zero. One of my employees came to me and she asked for my opinion about her blog. That night I recognized, I needed to get a blog. So I spent the next six months researching every single blog that I could find and the ones that were successful and I eliminated the big name brands that were successful because of their name. I was looking at, who were the blogs? What are the blogs that are known names that are getting a lot of traffic? What are they doing? One thing I noticed when I was researching these blogs, was there were a bunch of them that just had terrible design, terrible content, but they were getting all this traffic. The one thing they had in common, where they were writing on these obscure keywords that had no competition. So that’s what led to the foundation of when I launched my blog, I wanted to focus on keyword research and find keywords that had low competition so that I could maintain those positions and not have to constantly fight for being on the first page with everybody else for the big words. That’s what I did. Within the first 18 months, I had gone from zero to 1 million monthly visitors. I started probably 60 to 70% of my posts were on low competition phrases for that first year. But by the time I saw all the results after a year, I shifted to 95% of every single post I made was on a low competition keyword.
Megan Porta: Then at what point did you start RankIQ?
Brandon Gaille: It went live or we started taking users March 1st of last year, but the concept came up September before that. So I guess about a year and a half ago. What was happening is I had a course and I was teaching my keyword research and how to do the different equations and to find those low competition keywords. No matter how many times I adjusted the course, making it as simple as possible, at least 50% of my students were just like, it’s beyond me. I can’t find these. I can’t do this keyword research. It’s too complicated for me. That’s when I realized there had to be a better way because all the keyword research tools were designed for SEO experts and they gave you just an enormous amount of data. A lot of that data you’d have to run equations on just to make it work. That’s why I came up with RankIQ for the keyword research side, and also AI content optimization was starting to happen. But it was really expensive. Just for content optimization was anywhere from $59 to $200 a month. Then your keyword tools were $99 to $200 a month. Most bloggers can’t afford that. Also both of those tools, they’re made for SEO experts and content managers that are just experts in this. Bloggers, they want to write their posts and engage with their audience. They can’t understand all of this. Even I can understand all of it without spending significant time. So RankIQ on the keyword side, we decided to just do all the data and algorithms behind the scenes and for every keyword, just deliver the competition score, the estimated visitors per year, and the average time to rank. Because that’s the information that you needed. The only key words that we would put in our database would be keywords that were low competition with high traffic. Even for me to go through a keyword research tool, It takes me a hundred plus hours to do the research on any type of topic and find the keywords that I could rank for. So in this case, you don’t have to go to Ahrefs or SEMrush, figure out how to use it, do all the equations. Go through tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of words, to find 12 to 15 that you can rank for it to turn into a post. You can skip all of that and go to RankIQ. We have a drop down to where all the niches are there. Right now, we have over 400 plus niches and we have 78 different sub niches in the food niche with over 38,000 words that pretty much any low domain authority blog, and write for all you have to do is go in there and pick off the keywords you want to write about. Then there’s a button next to each one. You click the run report, and then that does the AI. So it tells you what topics you need to cover, that Google likes the most. It also tells you what you need to put in your title.
So it does everything for you, so that you have the word that you want to go after and you can choose. Then it tells you what to put in your title and what to put in your content so that you can compete for a first page ranking. That allows you to have more time available, to write more posts. If you can write twice the amount of posts per year, you’re going to get twice the amount of traffic. It’s a pretty simple equation.
Megan Porta: First, I want to acknowledge your story before we get too far into keyword research, because it is so impactful. Thank you for sharing about it. You said the word miracles, and I wrote that down. As you talked through it, I just saw so many miracles. Like the fact that you were right next to your wife, miles away from her. The fact that you came mentally aware right before you had to research your wife’s diagnosis and what to do with that. What an incredible story. So thank you for sharing all of that. Then RankIQ. I talk about this all the time to everyone. So everyone’s probably okay, Megan. More RankIQ, but I have a strategy this year. I don’t know if I’ve shared with you, Brandon exactly what I’m doing, but I’m using RankIQ to run three posts a week through the optimizer. It’s mostly not recipe posts I’m doing. I have a lot of content on my blog, so I am using RankIQ to create roundups and informational posts that support all of my existing content, because I have so much of it. So far this year, I’m up 25% year over year from last year. I think most bloggers are having the opposite problem right now. So there is so much power in that low competition keyword and focusing there. You’re the one that got me on to thinking about the non recipe content. That is nothing I ever considered before I talked to you. I think it was about a year ago. But do you just want to talk about that? How there’s so much more opportunity than just writing about recipes?
Brandon Gaille: I think it’s just for most food bloggers. When you get involved with it, recipes are where the majority of the traffic is. There’s no doubt about it. But the majority of food bloggers, they’re just writing about recipes and the easiest thing I think we talked about in a zoom session about a year ago, was all you have to do is go through your recipes and the ones that are main dishes, and you can write a sister post for the side dishes and what to serve with it. That’s the easy first step to have content that’s just not recipe based. It’s a list post. For example, you’ve got a salmon recipe and then you would have your sister post, which would be what to serve with salmon. That might have 25 side dishes for salmon or 17 side dishes for salmon. Simple list posts. Not so hard to knock out, not as hard as a recipe post. You don’t have to do all the food, photography. Then you pair that with that, and you link them together. At the end of your recipe posts, you do a tease where you give them the first three or four side dishes or things to serve with salmon. Then you internally link to your side dish posts. So in addition to getting all the traffic from the side dish post, you’re also going to increase your average time on page by getting a percentage of the people that are reading that salmon recipe, that click out to your side dish posts with the tease. That’s going to allow that recipe posts to move up. So they all work together when you’re talking about finding sister posts with your existing recipe posts.
Megan Porta: Then to take it a step further, something I’ve been doing is exploring topics beyond the roundups. So if we’re talking about salmon, like maybe a salmon marinade or something to support both, so you can create this web of amazing interlinking that’s all really valuable. It’s been really fun. I didn’t think I would find it fun when I first dove into it, but it’s been really exciting because I’m actually able to revive some of my old content that’s just been sitting there by giving it supporting value, if that makes sense.
Brandon Gaille: Yeah. Identifying those popular recipe posts and building out a small cluster around that specific recipe. That’s just a good practice overall for SEO. Once you’ve done the recipe post and that’s the hard part, all of the support and posts around it are going to be pretty easy to knock out. Then you build that cluster. As all of these different posts start ranking, they’re going to get different links from other people. Those links are all going to support each other and push that whole cluster up.
Megan Porta: Something somebody was mentioning recently when I was like, you should try RankIQ. One of their hangups was that they didn’t want to learn another tool. Because you mentioned earlier, most of the SEO tools are not made for food bloggers or creators, they’re made for SEO experts and more technically minded people. That’s one thing I really like about RankIQ. It’s really easy to use, and there’s literally like only a handful of things you can do inside the tool. So it’s not overwhelming. It doesn’t have that SEMRush, confusing, like where do I start? So that’s something I wanted to mention, just that there’s no huge barrier to entry. It’s really approachable. I really like that you’ve created it like that. Can we talk about keyword research? You talked about this a little bit, how it’s really daunting on other platforms. There are so many keywords. If you go to Ahrefs or SEMrush, I personally don’t even know where to start with it, and that’s why I avoided it for so many years. But why is keyword research important? Speaking to bloggers who maybe either aren’t doing it or are just dabbling in it, maybe give them a compelling argument, why they should be doing keyword research.
Brandon Gaille: You’ve got to find keywords that your blog can rank for. So if you’re not using RankIQ and you’re using Ahrefs or SEMrush, your blog is going to have your domain authority anywhere, if you’re starting out and you’ve got zero or even if you’re established and you’re 60, you want to focus on low competition words. Because even if you’re an established blogger with a 60 plus domain authority. Like I have a domain authority, I think 78 and 70% of the keywords I go after are low competition because it’s not that I can just rank for them. I got the number one ranking for them. Getting the number one ranking is not only going to secure a significant amount of traffic because you’ve got the number one ranking, so you can get 35% of the clicks. Then by the time you get to the number four ranking, you’re only getting 6% of the clicks. So there’s a big difference between ranking on the first page and ranking number 1. Then in addition to that, when you rank number one, you’re getting a significant amount of backlinks. Ahrefs did a study, and I think it was an average number one ranking, it’s 20 to 30 unique passive backlinks, just because you’re ranking number one and someone does a search for that phrase or it’s another blogger. They see you ranking number one, they’re going to grab your link and link to that in their posts. It’s just part of the natural progression. So as you go after low competition keywords and you rank, and that number one, number two, number three spots, it builds these passive back links that makes your blog even stronger.
So whether you are a high domain authority blogger or a low domain authority blogger, you still want to go after low competition keywords. Now, if you are in that lower range 40 domain authority or lower, you have to go after low competition words. If you’re just choosing keywords that you want to write about or recipes that you want to make, then you’re not going to get traffic. You have to be intentional. The great thing about keyword research, when you do it right, either with Ahrefs or SEMrush, or you just use RankIQ and choose the words we’ve already found for you, the battle’s already won by writing on these posts. You’re going to have an incredible chance of not just ranking on the first page, but ranking in the first three to get traffic. As opposed to, if you don’t do keyword research, you’re essentially flying blind and you’re hoping that your content is great enough. But even if you have the best content and it’s two times better than anything else out there, if the first page is dominated by domain authority 80 to 90 sites, you’re not going to get there. Even if you get there, you’re going to be low on that first page. It’s about being intentional and having a plan and going after low competition keywords that you can rank for.
Megan Porta: We’re putting all the effort in, right? We’re taking the time. So much time and energy to create this food and recipe and develop it and write about it and edit it. There’s so much that goes into it. So if we’re taking all the time for that, we want to make sure that our content is actually seen. Those numbers are astounding from, what did you say, the top position was 40 something percent and then once you get to number four, it’s six percent.
Brandon Gaille: Yeah. We’re talking about 10, 10 times the traffic for ranking number one, as opposed to the four to 10. Yes. It’s huge.
Megan Porta: So you mentioned everyone should be doing at least a percentage of low competition focused keywords. Are there any other mistakes that bloggers are making when it comes to finding keywords?
Brandon Gaille: Dealing with our audience and the users of RankIQ, there’s a percentage of our users that are hanging on to their old tools and the way those old tools are ineffective. The one area that comes up a lot is they’ll be like, I’m using this other keyword tool in addition to RankIQ. The search volume says it’s 50, but your estimated visitors per year is 680. Why is yours wrong? The problem is that, even for SEOs that aren’t experts, but pretty much all bloggers that use other keyword tools, they’re presented when they do a search with search volume. Search volume, all it means is how many times someone did a search on Google for that specific phrase. It’s completely inaccurate. The only thing search volume should be used for single phrase search volume, is when you’re trying to advertise on Google ads for that phrase. But because it’s front and center and that’s what they see, when they do a search where they do a search on a keyword tool, they are using that to make decisions. We were the first tool to do estimated visitors per year. There’s one other tool that does it now. Our numbers are a little bit at that, but I hope all the other keyword tools make that transition to this because that’s the real number. Estimated visitors per year, not single phrase search volume. That’s going to tell you what you can expect to get if you get on the first page. Our number is also based upon where the lower domain authority blogs are ranking on the first page. So it’s not saying, okay, there’s a low domain authority blog that ranks on page 10. There’s nine high domain authority blogs in front of it. What is the number one ranking high domain authority blog getting in traffic. So it’s a real number that you can expect to get based upon all the different LSI words, variations of the keyword that you’re getting, that you can expect. So the biggest mistake when it comes to metrics is they put too much emphasis on search volume.
Megan Porta: Wow. I hadn’t heard it explained quite like that, but that’s really interesting. There’s a huge discrepancy in numbers, but that’s because your number is an actual number. Then I wanted to ask you about backlinks. So you mentioned that doing the strategy of finding the low competition keywords, and then writing about maybe some roundups and non recipe posts to support your other content is a good way to inadvertently get backlinks. What are some other strategies that you recommend for getting backlinks?
Brandon Gaille: One of the easiest is just podcasts interviews. Just like I’m having a podcast interview with you right now. In your show notes page we’ve got a link to the website that I mentioned and pretty much 95% of podcast interviewers are going to give you a do-follow backlink in the show notes page. When it comes to the amount of food podcasts, there’s not a lot of food blogger podcasts like yours, and you’ve got that niche there. But for a food blogger, there’s all kinds of food podcasts that are out there that you can pitch them on coming onto the show. A big portion of these podcasts are going to have high domain authority sites. You’re going to get that do-follow backlinks. All you have to do is come on the show and talk and answer some questions for 30 minutes to an hour. There you go. It doesn’t get easier than that for getting a high quality backlink. The hardest part there is just going into apple podcasts, going into the food category. That’s the best way to go. Because if you go into apple podcasts and you see the most listened to food podcast, those are going to be high domain authority sites that are hosted for those podcasts, that they have a lot of following. Just through the mention, you’ll get people coming to your food blog. So just make a plan to make a list of all the food blog podcasts and just start sending emails. Most of the food blog podcasts, they’re wanting to find people to interview. So it’s not like you’re having to say, okay, could you please link to my blog in your blog post. You don’t have to twist their arm. They are constantly looking for people to interview. All you have to do is either reach out through their contact page or their direct email, and you’re going to have a high percent of those emails returned with the interview request.
Megan Porta: I love that recommendation. I have been delivering this message for a while now. I think it’s so easy to get your message out there and to get your link out there just by, like you said, all you have to do is show up and deliver your value. You don’t even have to edit. You don’t have to do anything, they do all the hard work. So I love that you recommended that. Are there any other strategies that you recommend for getting high quality backlinks?
Brandon Gaille: After podcasts interviews, Haro would be next. It’s just Help A Reporter Out. With HARO, it’s just a matter of being the first one to do the pitch. So on Haro, they send out an email with all of the potential or with all the reporters that are writing an article. Then you pitch them through this email. The key is being first and those emails come out at the same time every day. Best practices to set an alarm on your phone five minutes before those emails come out and be ready to get that email and respond right away. Typically if you’re the first one to respond, they see that email and it’s good enough. They’re going to choose you most of the time. Whenever you do your pitch, you want to make sure, if you can, quickly find out if the website that that article is gonna be published on is a domain authority 40 or higher. Sometimes they’ll ask for extra information and ideally you want to be focusing on blogs and websites that have high enough domain authority. So if you do get a back link, it’ll actually count. When you do send your pitch query, make sure that you find out the person’s first name that you’re pitching. In that email use their first name. It makes a pretty big difference by just saying their name. It says that you took the time to find out who they are. People love their first name.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Adds a little personal touch. I loved your tip about just setting your alarm because it comes out at the same time. I hadn’t ever thought of that before. I got out of the habit of using HARO too, but might check that out again. Anything else for backlinks?
Brandon Gaille: I think that’s where you should put your focus on. There’s a lot of things out there that do backlinks, but you don’t want to spread yourself too thin across all these different, crazy ways. Low competition keywords, which is part of your plan, that’s going to naturally get you passive backlinks. Then podcasts, interviews and Haro.
Megan Porta: One last question, before we start saying goodbye. What do you recommend for updating all old content? How do we sort through it for me? I have so much content that it’s hard to know where to begin. Then what stuff do I leave alone? Do you have a strategy for all of that?
Brandon Gaille: The last series I just did in my podcast, The Blogging Millionaire was on updating old blog posts. I’ll cover some of that here, but I don’t have a course anymore so my podcast isn’t holding anything back. The last four episodes were essentially a course on updating old blog posts. But the way I do it is, I classify old blog posts into four quadrants. If you’ve ever read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s similar to that. So the quadrant number one is going to be old blog posts that have or get significant that have lost traffic in the last 12 months. This is called the content decay. Quadrant number two is going to be blog posts that are getting traffic, but rank number four or lower. Quadrant three is our posts that are ranking number one, number two, number three. Quadrant number four are posts that get zero to no traffic. So we’ll start with product number four. You don’t want to spend any time on posts that do not get traffic. The chances of you taking a post that has zero traffic and turning it into something that has traffic are very small. Typically this will be something bloggers wrote about on a keyword. They have no chance because of the competition or they wrote an informational post on a commercial intent word. Commercial intent, meaning that they would be showing things like Amazon, Walmart, them selling something. Let’s say they wrote on yellow yarn and everything on the first page is Etsy, Amazon, Walmart, people selling yellow yarn. Your informational blog post isn’t going to make it. So anything that’s not getting traffic, don’t spend time on it. We move to quadrant number three, which is post breaking number one, two or three. Ideally you don’t want to do anything with these posts. There are two exceptions where you would update a post that is ranking number one, number two, number three with the target keyword. That would be if that post is ranking number three currently, and the number one and number two posts have superior content. That means that post is going to eventually go from number three to number four and is going to move up into a higher quadrant. So the writing’s on the wall. You’ve got a post that’s being outranked by better content. You need to go ahead and update that. The other one would be if you’re getting outranked. You’re number two, number three, and the number one post was a list post and they have a higher leading number than yours. So if you had the 25 best food blogging tips and someone else’s outranking you now with the 40 best food blogging tips, in that case, you would update that content. The way you would update it to where it doesn’t affect your existing rankings, is you would go from your 25 and you would come up with 25 more tips so that you could have 10 more than the one in front of you. If the one out ranking you was 40, you would get to 50. You would leave your first 25 tips intact. You would add the next 25 tips to the tail end. That way your existing post stays the same, except for changing your title from 25 to 50 and for adding content to the tailend. Now, if you start adjusting content at the front end, the intro and moving around some of your top 25 that’s already there, that can endanger you because you could have basically points where people are exiting your page because of the content that you moved around. That could change the average time on page and push you down further. So the best practice for updating any posts that’s getting a lot of traffic already is to add content to the tail end and leave your existing content as much as it has been the same.
Now, the quadrant above that is quadrant number two. These are the posts that are ranking number four and higher that get traffic. The reason why this is number two and outranks quadrant number three, is because these posts have a lot of potential. You can be ranked number nine for something, and if you just move up one spot between number eight and number four, you’ll get a traffic increase of 30 to 50%. That’s why these are important to look at. Those that get traffic that you’re not ranking in the top three, adding some more content, increasing the time on page, once again to the tail end of the post can make a difference between one spot or another.
Finally, the quadrant number one, these are the posts that are hemorrhaging traffic, and that’s why they’re the most important. Whenever you’re updating a blog post, you start with one quadrant post first. Do all those posts that are losing traffic that used to get significant traffic and that are losing rankings. Then when you’re done with quadrant number one, you’ll move into quadrant number two, which is updating the posts that are getting traffic ranking number four or higher. Then after that, you’ll assess quadrant number three, if there are any posts where you’re ranking number three, and then the two posts in front of you, or have superior traffic, or you’re getting outranked by someone that has a higher number of tips or tactics on a list post. But those are the four quadrants, to try to simplify them.
I know in this podcast interview right now, you might be overwhelmed by what I’m saying. That’s why there’s I think an hour and 40 minutes of four podcasts that really go into the deep details of these four quadrants. But updating posts is very important. You should be spending 50% of your time updating posts and 50% of your time writing new posts. But the average blogger is constantly focused on pushing new content out the door. What happens is they have what’s called the leaky bucket syndrome. That is when you’re losing traffic from your old post and you’re not able to see it because you’re constantly doing new posts and everything looks fine. You’re growing traffic. Then a year goes by and you’re like I’m still growing my traffic. It’s just not growing as fast. I just must be slowing down, running out of better topics to write about. Then finally it plateaus. What’s happening is all your new posts are doing great and they’re performing, but your posts from two, three years ago are now being outranked by better content. All of that traffic is leaking away. That’s why it’s important to, ideally once a quarter, but at the very least once a year, go through your Google analytics, Google search console and break down your old posts into these four quadrants and see if there’s any that need to be updated that are losing traffic so that you can then try to be preemptive. With the quadrant two posts, so they don’t lose traffic, or they can get higher rankings.
Megan Porta: I love your podcast. It’s so thorough. I love just sitting down with a series because you do them in little series. Just getting my Google analytics or Google search console open and working as you talk through the things, the strategies. So I haven’t done this one yet, but I’m really excited to dig into that because as I mentioned, I have a lot of old content. So definitely go check that out.
Brandon, thank you so much for joining me today. This was such a valuable conversation. So thank you for sharing everything that you did.
Brandon Gaille: You’re welcome. I was happy to be there.
Megan Porta: So we’ll put together a show notes page for you, Brandon. If anyone wants to go peek at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/rankIQ. I ask all my guests this, Brandon, do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Brandon Gaille: I would say it was just probably a Bible verse that, With God, anything is possible. He took me from having nothing and put me right next to my wife that led to an incredible family. It guided us through my health condition, cancer. He brought me through it to becoming a blogger. Then he showed me what it meant to serve others. That made me a better blogger and a better business. Because before that, I was just constantly trying to get more traffic, make more money. Once I started thinking about how I can create the best post where it’s going to help someone else, or how I can create a business and give everything that I have to help them have success, that’s when I truly found success personally and with my business.
Megan Porta: Wow. That was very well said. It came full circle, starting with your story. So thank you again so much for being here. Tell everyone, you eluded to this, but tell everyone where they can find you online, on your podcast. Rank IQ. Just give us a wrap-up of that.
Brandon Gaille: Yeah. Just open your podcast app, do a search for Blogging Millionaire and I’ll pop up there. That’s where I’m constantly every month. I’m giving growth hacks or going through teaching sessions where I do series. Then for the business, it’s rankiq.com. That’s it.
Megan Porta: All right. Thanks Brandon. Thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
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