Dennis Yu and Nicholas Rubright’s SEO Secrets Agencies Don’t Want Clients To Know

Written by John

a WordPress Web Designer who builds websites using Divi, Elementor Pro, and Beaver Builder. Reigniting my passion for videos and writing has become a creative fuel to my longevity in the freelancing industry.

February 14, 2023

Search Engine Optimization always was very fascinating to me. Ever since the first time I heard about it from a friend who also introduced me to WordPress, I was very interested in the concept and how it could help your website’s presence improve on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

That was more than 12 years ago. Around that time I was still learning how to build a WordPress website from scratch. Designing a mock-up on Photoshop, slicing it into HTML and CSS, and then finally creating a custom WordPress theme with PHP templates placing API hooks to pull data and information from the back end and display it on the pages within the browser on the front end.

I always favored the right-brain creative side of things and thought SEO was quite logical and technical so I never really implemented the things I learned from Youtube videos about it. But for sure, writing; closely tied to search engine optimization was something I wanted to do.

I stumbled upon this Youtube video discussing Search Engine Optimization secrets that SEO agencies do not want you to know while I was job hunting on a platform called Online Jobs Philippines and thought to myself: “Perhaps I should give this a shot since I want to start writing more.”.

So here we go!

Nick’s backstory

Coming from a musical background, Nick started dabbling with blogging in line with his interest in music, so he was “on track” (pun intended) when it comes to creating valuable content within that niche. His curiosity for SEO and passion for music ignited the idea of starting a music blog. Writing about music marketing and affiliate style articles such as “The best acoustic guitars”.

But before that, he created a music streaming app where his main competitor, Spotify would become a rival that changes the industry in the distant future; our current time. While trying to get funding for the app, he asked himself how could he bring his audience passively into his website, market his app and perhaps earn money while doing it.

For a 19-year-old punk rocker to be that resourceful is quite an impressive attainment, earning two thousand US dollars each month for a span of 6 months from affiliate marketing and pay-per-click ads. He was able to have the freedom to do other things that he loved the most like playing Xbox and starting a band as a teenager should!

A Fool’s Guide & Warnings About SEO Stats

People like me, love it when experts demystify concepts to help ordinary people understand the overall idea of these subject matters better. Dennis seems to genuinely know this about his target audience, cares for their business, and perhaps, it was his line of thought when he asked the very first question related to the video’s main purpose.

When it comes to SEO, both these experts got right to it! When Dennis asked what are the ways agencies fool their clients through stats, I could imagine the entire ethos of the SEO world screeching in silence. You could probably hear a pin drop.

So what are the most common tricks agencies have inside their sleeves when it comes to showing stats that deceive their unknowing clients?

1.) Domain Authority and Backlink Building

When it comes to SEO link building most agencies would go out and try to grow the numbers by using the following tactics:

  • Creating a network of websites. Link them together and point to the main site.
  • Buying backlinks from other websites
  • Finding high authority websites within the niche and forcing backlinks growth inorganically.
  • Private link networks

These strategies are not recommended by both experts on this show’s episode. Dennis clearly stated that 20 years ago he helped set up the system at Yahoo which was used to bust people who were doing these unethical ways of building backlinks to their websites. Some of the members of that team also went to go work for Google. So the private network links and unknown IP addresses you are trying to get your link juices from? He confirmed that Google definitely knows about it.

He even reiterates that Google is aware of paid links and duplicate content but does not necessarily care about it and there is no true penalty for it. Google cares more about traffic and user experience and will reward you if the user’s behavior is good rather than due to backlinks.

These aspects together with Rank Brain, the top 10 results on high-power terms are really what matters to Google. They are looking at the signals that come through Google Analytics which come from user behavior, that’s from click-throughs, click-backs, and dwell time, not at what is happening within the ranks.

Dennis also swears that Google is looking at social as one of the factors on how you can rank higher in the results.

Nick’s end of the discussion was more of citing examples of what he did in the past on his blogs that confirms what Dennis was talking about. Which makes the concept much more tangible for beginners.

Google Bowling

At the end of the first part of the video, Dennis talks about how in the past, some SEO people do Google bowling or the act of buying bad websites and linking them to your competitor with the intent of hurting their rankings. Also called negative SEO, this method is no longer as effective as it used to be because the algorithm has since drastically evolved to identify such tricks.

Reporting SEOs to Google

Nick also spoke about doing what he likes to call Whitehat negative SEO where upon doing outreach to websites within a niche to build organic links and finding out that those websites charge money for it, he reports it to Google.

According to Bare Metrix paying for backlinks violates the terms of Google and is considered an unfair SEO manipulation advantage. So don’t do it!

2.) High Search Volume Keywords

Ahrefs, Moz, Ubersuggest, and all these 3rd party SEO tools base their numbers when it comes to calculating traffic on a combination of search volume and click-through rate studies of Google listings. So most websites that rank at the top for these high-volume keywords get most of the traffic.

But if you are ranked number 10 on a keyword that gets 100 million searches a month, the algorithm within these tools would assume that some of the traffic goes your way just because the search volume for these keywords is really high.

As high as I am writing this? (wink).

A good example is the term “Disney Plus login” as Nick cites it. If you rank on page 2 or 3 because it has so much search traffic per month, Ahrefs will assume that you get some of this traffic. And that is just not the case.

Without authority and the organic build-up of links through valuable content, clients and even SEO professionals will end up misreading the stats from these tools that show them high search volume keywords.

If an SEO professional wanted to fake these stats all they need to do is understand how these tools are getting these data, and how it works, so that they themselves would be able to mirror and manipulate the data they are showing to the client.

Quality vs. Quantity

It all boils down to quality vs. quantity when it comes to SEO and ranking for high-search volume keywords. Building relationships within the internet networks we operate in is as important as the relationships we build outside of the internet. Outreach events are as vital if not more than the ones you get within the virtual connections we get from the web.

SEO and PR go together like peanut butter and jelly. Dennis also thinks that Google has the best facial recognition and when you post photos on the internet of yourself going to these events within your market niche it could be considered as links. It is also about the connections you have with people around your industry.

Search engines are becoming so smart that they are able to recognize these.

3.) SEO Forecasting

One of the ways you could spot an SEO agency that does not care about your business is how “checklist” they are. Because when a business owner asks an SEO expert where will this get us in 3 months? The truth is, nobody really knows. Not even your SEO consultant knows the exact answer especially if you are just starting out and there is no history available on which you can base your intelligent forecast on.

Working together for 3 months, building data, strategizing, analyzing, and seeing the results is the best approach. Unless you can figure out what the cost is to extend what is already working, you just can’t figure out what could happen. So if the website is already getting traffic then you could in a way test drive optimization techniques to see which one would generate the best results organically.

The way Dennis sees it, it is like renting a car first before deciding to buy it. You gather all this information through using it: the features, the pros, the cons, how fast it could take you from point A to point B and what are the reactions people are gonna make when they see you in it. Then you decide if you like it, buy it, and use it to do everything it accomplishes for you.

Because how do you know if a keyword is any good unless you demo it and run traffic on that term? You just can’t.

Focusing on customers

In a way, we should approach SEO like Branding, like branding, to get the best results we must put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. Rely on their feelings about the business’s brand and the market they interact in to generate the right type of content that would provide great worth and user experience to them and the community.

It is no longer just logic and technical. It is about building connections organically by emulating and reflecting on what your customer’s needs are. A balance between strategy & design to create customer relationships within the industry.

At the end of the day, SEO is marketing and building a brand around the customer’s perception of the business and organizations within the network to create rapport, generate traffic, and turn them into sales.

4.) SEO Reports

Clients who have no idea what SEO is want to hold the agency accountable when they hire you. The only way they think they can do this is by asking for an SEO report. A 30-page trail of data that the customer or even in several cases, the SEO expert has no idea what entails to.

But how can we blame them? Do they want to see how SEO is providing value to the client?

Yes right?

So how do you do this as an SEO expert?

The answer is to show them the growth in sales that your service has provided for them. Simple enough right? The real challenge is to educate and pre-empt them from asking questions such as :

  • how many backlinks you’ve generated this month?
  • how much traffic have we driven to the website?
  • how many first-page rankings do I have?

Instead, you tell them that sales are how you measure what SEO is doing for their business. It all boils down to their business results. You trace the sales they had since the beginning of the activity you were doing for them, and then compare it to the sales before that. This way they would understand that SEO is a long-term investment, and is all about building & even nurturing relationships with both your customers and your colleagues within the industry.

The Main Takeaway

SEO is no longer just the technical mumbo-jumbo that an SEO professional does for your website but has evolved to a point that requires building relationships, delivering value, and great experiences which eventually translates into links, more traffic, and eventually more sales. It is no longer just about websites. It is a combination of social media, word of mouth, PR, and all these things. Trying to help people by giving value that is directed toward building a community.

You have to show up, build personal networks, create relationships with like-minded people within your market, create value, and share with the community. Once you have done these, customers with the help of organically grown SEO rankings will naturally flock to your platform. They will look at what your business could offer them, you will persuade them, and if they like what they see, have their credit cards ready in the palm of their hands and buy what you are trying to sell them.

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