How to Get More Clients Without Cold Calling – John Doherty

By | August 26, 2019

– Hey there 100 Days Of SEO, my name is John Doherty. I’m the founder and
CEO of Veteran SEO and digital marketer and you are
watching 100Days Of SEO. (upbeat music) – What’s up everybody? Hope you enjoyed
that Denver intro. I’m laughing cause I
just recalled that when I wanted to confirm
that John Doherty our guest today on 100
Days Of SEO Friends Friday, when I wanted to confirm
that John was from Denver, I googled John Denver and didn’t realize
that was not gonna get me what I actually wanted. Oh that was silly. Anyways hope you
enjoyed the Denver intro, today we’re
talking to John Doherty. So he runs Credo,
I want it in my brain always call it
GetCredo not that. That’s the URL John is awesome, knows
so much and is passionate. The whole idea of Credo is helping link up businesses with reputable SEO partners. SEO is filled with
so many scam artists and so many people
that are consultants but have never actually
done anything for themselves, people hire like Neil Patel
who’s never ranked a site other than and it’s like look for what? For what they
don’t know the game. John knows the game well enough, not just to do it for
himself and for clients but also to
understand and vet people on behalf of clients. I think it’s a really
cool business model. He’s really crushing it with it. We’re gonna talk to John today about beginner SEO mistakes, advanced SEO mistakes and everything in between. I can’t wait to share
this interview with you, so let’s get into it. Man, thanks for
joining us for 100 Days of SEO. – Brendan, my pleasure
to be here man. Thanks for having me on. – Absolutely, so a
couple quick questions today. First question
and this is something I think is so important when it comes to SEO. We have so many tools, it can be such an
overwhelming subject because there so many ways
to get the same results. Right? There’s like a million different
tactics and strategies. When you look at a project or look at
achieving any sort of goal whether that’s
ranking a brand new website or starting
your own side project or if you’re doing
client work or consulting, how do you like think about, how do you conceptualize like what to prioritize first? Like is there a framework or how do you think about that? – Yeah, that’s a great question and I think you
actually hinted at my answer there in your question actually because what I always start with is what’s the goal? Like why the heck are we even
doing SEO in the first place? And it depends on
what the website is and on the industry, it depends on the company, it depends on
your point of contact, depends on all of
those sorts of things. Right? If you’re you’re
working with a client, if you’re a consultant. An internal website then it’s what resources
you have internally to get it done. Like are you technical
and that you can do that or do you need to
hire someone to do that? Do you have enough pages? Are you targeting your keywords? Are you building links? All that stuff goes into it but ultimately it comes
back to what’s your goal? Are you going to, we’re not just driving rankings
and driving traffic to drive rankings and traffic. Unfortunately in the SEO world people do sell that but really what
we should be doing is if you’re a consultant, you should be selling results. Right? Think about it.
The way I think about it is when I go into
working with a client or working on you know, I think about it the same
as working on my own websites. Where I’m not just driving
traffic to drive traffic. If I’m gonna put time, money, effort into these thing,
into these property, I’m doing it to
build a business, right? And ultimately I’m
doing it to build revenue. So at the end of the day,
it comes down to what are the highest
leverage things that we can do in order to drive
this business forward? For some
companies it is traffic, they’re an ad
supported business. For others is it’s leads,
for others is subscriptions or free trials or whatever it is. So you kind of
need to understand the business itself and what drives the business, what are kind of
leading indicators, where are the
ultimate indicators that lead to revenue? But really when I think about
it through that framework especially in
working with a client, they’re like,”Wait,
you’re not just talking about “driving traffic or
keywords or something like that.” I’m like, “Right,
that’s a means to an end,” and that instantly
changes the conversation and honestly it changes what
they’re willing to pay you. They’re willing to pay you more because you’re actually
talking about business. Right? The client goes like ah! I can get behind that.
I can see I pay you this and over time
we’re gonna make this if we can hit these different
milestones along the way. It’s like there you go. Right? So versus if you’re
just selling them traffic, they’re like
I’ll pay you $50 now or versus if you could tell me you’re gonna
make me a 100K, right, they might have no problem
paying you $10,000 or $15,000
or something like that because they’re business people. So that’s really where I start. When I start with a new client, I like to come in and say what do I think
are your biggest needs? Before I even
pitch the work. Right? Is it technical?
Is it keyword research? Is it content?
Is it links? What have you? Is it conversions, right? And so looking at
all of those things first before we start settling
on whether the individual like frameworks
need to work from and then where the
strategies we’re gonna work on and then about the
tactics we’re gonna work on within those strategies. – Nice do you ever feel like I would imagine this is true in every type of marketing, do you ever feel like you end up just becoming
like there’s some phase where you were just like a
general business consultant? Like I need to help
you figure out business? – Oh yeah absolutely, I actually think about myself and this came from
my days Distilled back in 2011 to 2013, where I actually
think about myself as more of like an SEO or digital marketing
management consultant. Because honestly
there are people that are cheaper than me that can do better
like keyword research and that sort of
stuff at this point. Just because I’m not
like in it all day doing it. I’m running a business. But a lot of my work
honestly with bigger companies especially is helping
from the director level on down, get buy-in from
they’re bigger bosses to actually get the budget, to implement the
things they need to implement to drive the business forward. And sometimes it
starts on the bottom like a junior point of contact you’re gonna have
to do a lot of education help them get
buy-in from their boss or their boss can
buy-in from their boss. And it’s a lot
of learning to work across the levels of a business. So yeah, a lot of a lot
of consulting becomes that unless you’re selling like, you’re selling SEO services, it doesn’t become that, right, and you just go off
and you do your thing a send about your report. If you’re a consultant and you’re actually
consulting with them and teaching
them and helping them make their business better, it definitely
turns into that a lot. – Kind of changing gears,
what are some of the mistakes you see a lot of people making? Let’s focus maybe on beginners. – That’s a great question. So personal
mistakes that I made, I think on the
bigger picture it actually is somewhat similar to
what I just talked about in terms of not thinking back to the strategy of like what are these tactics and things that we’re
doing actually going to get us? And looking at the return on it, it’s very easy to just say I’m into productivity
and kind of maximizing my time and my energy. It’s very easy
to do ton of things and be like oh man I
was super productive today and it’s like but it
didn’t actually do anything. It didn’t make sense within the
broader context of the business. So I think a lot of young SEOs,
a lot of young marketers, a lot of young
digital marketers if you studied marketing you kind of have
that bigger picture but if you never
actually studied marketing. I’ve never taken
marketing class my life and I used to think, I used to be proud of that and now I feel like it’s maybe
a little bit of a liability. I would have been
more creative if I had where if I just went
ahead and did it now, can definitely learn a lot but a lot of people
especially starting out don’t think about
why are we doing this? My first job in SEO was as a link builder
for an agency in Philadelphia working in a
really competitive space. Basically, my job
was buying links. (laughs)
In 2010, early 2011, my job was buying links. And so we contact sites,
offer to pay them and once they put the link up, with the anchor text
we needed we’d pay them. We had set up recurring payments to see these people
to keep the links live. But that was those back, that was a different day, right? That was before Penguin.
It was before Panda, before all of
these things. Right? And so it was a
good learning experience, I would say it was gray hat.
Is what it was. I wouldn’t call that black hat. Black hat’s levels further. But it was definitely gray hat. It was definitely
against their guidelines. So I don’t know that I
feel bad about it necessarily, I definitely
want to do it again. I haven’t bought a
link since early 2011 but it definitely
gave me a good education. It also kind of
taught me like what worked and what didn’t. So I think a lot of young SEOs aren’t kind of willing
to do that sort of thing and to learn that way. They listen a lot to
even people like myself. I don’t know everything, I’ve been in
the game for a while but I also don’t have
nearly as much experience as a lot of other people,
I’m not as good of an SEO, as a lot of other people as well but don’t just
listen to what I’m saying or you’re saying, or Rand or whoever. You have to go and you
have to test it yourself instead of just you know these are the
things that we’re doing in order to grow clients because this is what
my agency told me to do. Do you actually
wanna become a better SEO? You need to go and
test those things yourself. Build a website, write content, learn to build links,
lean to get new exposure all that sort of stuff. – Yeah, it’s so funny, this keeps without any prompting this keeps coming up
again and again and again of like you
can’t just think like I’m gonna read some blog posts, learn how I think SEO works, get some clients or whatever. You have to like have
your own side projects. I don’t know a lot of SEOs who are granted, look, if you own and
run an SEO company, maybe you have less
time for side projects. Right? Like I get that
when you get higher up you become somebody
who runs a business, you’re a business builder and I get that. I still think you
should be trying to and I’m not, I’m
advising my betters here so it’s kind of
hypocritical or kind of silly but I still think if you
have more money than time, you can still deploy money to experiment and
try projects and things and I think
there’s something there but there’s nothing
better than being able to tell my clients at work, like hey, there was a Google update, here’s how,
here’s what we’re seeing across our clients
and across the industry, but they love
when I could share like here’s what I’m doing. I’m running an
experiment right now on one of my own websites to try to pull it out of this or pull out of that or here’s why I think
my website got like a boost after an update and like
here’s how we’re gonna try to deploy that on your website. Like we have all of these ideas because we’re
actually in the trenches. We’re doers,
we’re not just talking. – And I like it when
agencies are also going in. As we were talking about
before we started recording, agencies that go and actually
build their own properties. I know quite a few agencies that are also
running their own properties. You know,
so they’re creating content, they’re building links
or doing technical SEO, they’re doing paid acquisition, they’re doing all those things. And so if you’re
willing to do it for yourself and you’re
successful doing it for yourself and how much more success are you gonna be
doing it for clients? So I would say I know
quite a few SEOs that do and digital markers that do
have their own properties. I would say more should also. – I met a team when I was at Traffic Think-Tank
in Philadelphia, I met this team there
was like four or five guys and they’re like
well we’re an agency. I’m like who are your clients? They’re like know
we’re our clients. We just buy and
build our own stuff ’cause then we don’t
do report to anybody but each other.
And I was just like, “Oh, I think that’s
a cool business model. “That’s interesting.” – I know agencies that do work
with external clients but they also have
their own properties but they have
people on their team dedicated to those properties. – (Brendan) Yeah,
that’s pretty good cool. What about like
more advanced SEOs. Are there any mistakes or anything you think
that’s coming down the pipeline or anything you think
that like more advanced SEOs are kind of missing right now that there’s
either an opportunity or maybe some
like common mistakes? – I think a lot of
more advanced SEOs, more experienced a SEOs, forget what it’s
like to be a learner. So it’s not like
an SEO specific answer but I think we forget that we still have things to learn and things are
changing all the time and there are some people that
do a phenomenal job of it. Keeping up with
people like Glen Gabe, constantly sharing
new stuff that he’s seeing. But they’re also
a lot of you know it can be very easy to get
kind of stuck in your ways and be like, “Well,
this has for a long time “so it’s gonna keep
on working forever.” Which isn’t necessarily true. So once again we need
to be testing these things. We need to be
testing new strategies, new ideas, new stuff
that’s coming out from Google or an algorithm change happens, what changed? How do therefore our
tactics within our strategies need to change? Do our strategies
need to change, right, because of these updates? Hopefully your
strategies are evergreen and they’re always
gonna keep working. They might become a
little bit less effective so you need to tweak them. So I think that’s
really the biggest mistake that I see myself
making that mistake, let me put it that way. I’ve seen other people
making that mistake as well. We need to remember
what it’s like to be a learner, to get in the weeds and do it. For example,
recently I was cleaning up some of our taxonomies and category pages and information architecture on the Credo site and I’ve always had developers. When I worked in house
or work with clients, like they have developers,
I’m like we need to eliminate these things from the database,
we need to redirect to make sure these
pages redirect like this, and they’re like alright,
cool we’ll get it done. And then
basically they come back and they’re like okay, here it is on
staging is this right? And I basically
look at it verify it, yep, do it. I had to go, I had to learn
how to write regex to basically redirect everything deeper
like layers deeper within these URLs, to make sure they
redirected to the new ones correctly one-to-one and like I was telling my
colleague here this morning that I did that for
about four hours yesterday, cleaning all of that up. I’ve been working on
it for a couple weeks and like my brain
is exhausted today. But I learned so much. It was really fun to go
back and be working hard asking people for advice and for answers and
helping troubleshoot stuff people smarter than me and it was really, really cool. So I think we need to remember to do that sort of stuff. – Yeah especially
just ’cause kind of how we kicked things off there’s so many things
that affect search. Right? There’s 200 ranking factors and really if we think what
are those ranking factors? They’re really just 200 things that make the
internet better for humans and there’s a lot of ways to make the
internet better for humans. I can say from
personal experience recently, one thing that I’ve gotten
really frustrated with myself was like I’ve always
been a content and links guy, so it would be
like John imagine like we got into an argument and I just kept yelling saying no matter what you said, I would just yell the
same thing back at you. Like no matter what. – (John) It’s like Twitter.
(both laugh) – (Brendan) But
just copy and paste, like no matter what
our clients problems were, I was like better content, better topic clusters,
more links. And then eventually,
you’re like, you start to see and they had great
results don’t get me wrong but I was just like wait, I’m not doing
anything with structured data. That seems like
that’s a misstep. I’m not doing
it like I’m missing there’s all these
other like nuances and different things that I
just was starting to realize that I was becoming
very one-dimensional and then eventually when
content and links don’t help, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna help?
– Right. The interesting
thing there Brendan is that you’re not wrong either, right? Like most websites do
need better content. They do need better topic
clusters, topical authority. They do need
more and better links from sites that make sense. They need all of that stuff. So the site
doesn’t have any of that, like going on
talking about structured data and those sorts of thing
you have to set the base before you can
really build from there. If you don’t pour a foundation before you build a house, that house isn’t
gonna be nearly as secure as one where you
did pour a foundation. I say this as someone
with who owns an 1895 house that didn’t have a
concrete foundation poured. But that’s how they
did it back in the day. But it lends itself
to other challenges, but if you go
and you’re like okay, let’s put on a new roof but all your walls are cracked, it’s not gonna it’s
not gonna do you any good. So fix the walls,
fix your foundation and then build from there. So I actually think of it as something like these are
the three things that I do, it’s not an either/or like how do you do
this or you do this? It’s a both/and sort of thing. It’s like we have to do this, once again it’s that
strategy of we start here then we do this and then
you build into those things structured data,
that sort of stuff. Something else I see is that people will kind of
take different types of websites and try to apply the
same strategies to them. So strategies you
employee on a B2B SaaS website are gonna be very different that you employ on
a million-plus page e-commerce website. you know,
B2C e-commerce website. So I think we
also need to be open to the fact that
like you know what? These strategies
are gonna change how we’re kind
of chain together, what we’re implementing,
how we do SEO, how we create content how that works in with
the information architecture, all that stuff. It changes based on
the type of site as well and we can’t
forget that as SEOs. – Yeah, definitely agreed. Talk to me really quickly
as we’re kind of wrapping up, you mentioned Credo,
talk to me more about Credo. – Yeah, so Credo’s a company that I started
working full time on about three and
a half years ago. I actually started it
January, February 2013 so it’s been six years now and it was a side project. Basically I started
it to help companies that are looking to hire SEO and digital marketing companies, help them hire the
right ones for their business. So there’s a few parts to that. One is that they
don’t hire people that don’t have
the qualifications, that are going to be
able to get them results. Some people are really
good at selling the dream but aren’t actually good
at getting the results. The second one
is helping the good agencies and consultants,
helping them get more work. better clients,
better paying clients, that sort of stuff. But then also
helping the businesses really streamline the process of finding and
hiring the right provider. So to date we’ve helped
2,200+ businesses. Probably around 2,300 now and generated tens
of millions of dollars in qualified leads you
know a percentage of that you know, a decent percentage
of that has closed into to work for the people on our platform. So we’re investing in, we’re changing
our vetting process, we’re working on a
lot of technical upgrades to the site and
have a lot of big stuff coming up this year but we take a very high
touch white-glove approach to helping clients find and hire the right people
that we’ve vetted out, that we know do good work, we’ve seen a
couple of their clients, spoken with
them on the phone. You know, we kind of go
through the three levels. It’s how good is your work? How professional
are you as a company? And then also kind of like a
culture check, culture call, where we can also explain more about kind of
how Credo works. So we kind of do that
those multiple levels, looking across not
just like, you know, we’re not testing people
on their like SEO knowledge or something like that. Right? We’re not going
to do recommendations that go to their clients but basically all
these other things that go into what makes someone good at what they do or what basically tells us that they’re more
likely to be doing good work than someone else. And then over
time as we’re sending clients we’re getting
feedback from their clients, we’re still, we’re constantly
vetting them out as they go. – Nice, ranked just because
you can rank for number one for Chicago SEO expert, does not mean you
can actually do anything. But that’s
usually the qualification, that’s usually how people start putting
their lists together, is they’re googling
SEO wherever they are. – And I actually
have a blog post about should you hire the person that ranks number one
for their own queries. Like maybe, maybe not. Like you got a
look at their links, you gotta look at
how they’re doing it. Right? If they’re ringing for
Chicago SEO a local keyword, are they gonna be
able to drive your results for your like multinational, you know shoes e-commerce site? Maybe but maybe not. You got to look at
what’s their experience, who’ve they work with
before and that sort of stuff. So it’s also a big
education process for clients which I’m sure
you’ve come across as well. – Yeah, absolutely. Awesome, John.
I appreciate your time. Thanks so much for
joining us for 100 Days of SEO. – My pleasure.
Thanks for having me. – Alright, so I hope that
was super helpful for you. I really enjoyed
talking to John. Again you can check out
John at This episode was brought to you
by FLYWHEEL, that’s where I host all of my most important
WordPress websites. I think they’re fantastic. I would recommend
you check them out. will take you there. Also don’t forget to
join our one ranking away 30-Day SEO challenge. It’s all of the most
important things that I know. It will completely change
how you think about SEO. I’ve heard that from beginners and even my friends who
probably know more about SEO than even I do, at the very least it’ll probably make you spit your
coffee out reading it and looking at the GIFs
and stuff so you’ll enjoy it. Again that’s just
that 100 Days Of SEO or 100DaysOfSEO.comm/subscribe. I’ve been Brendan Hufford,
don’t forget to work hard, be nice people
and don’t get too lost trying to create
something that matters. (easygoing bluesy music)

2 thoughts on “How to Get More Clients Without Cold Calling – John Doherty

  1. Cody Dykstra Post author

    Shots fired at Neil Patel in the first 2-minutes lol


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