Podcast Episode 23

SEO Marketing for Tech Business

Join host Ryan Davies in a dynamic discussion on SEO marketing for tech businesses with the renowned Neil Patel. As the New York Times best-selling author and top influencer on the web, Neil shares his expertise and insights. From the evolving landscape of SEO across platforms like Google, Bing, TikTok, and Instagram to the impact of AI on search engine results, Neil breaks down key factors for success. Learn how to optimize your content, enhance user experience, and navigate the changing dynamics of web traffic. Discover Neil’s journey from a teenage entrepreneur to building NP Digital, a global ad agency, and gain valuable tips for boosting your online presence. Whether you’re a startup or an established tech company, this episode offers actionable strategies and essential advice to propel your SEO and marketing efforts to new heights.

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Ryan: I’m your host, Ryan Davies, and I’m hosting today’s discussion on SEO marketing for tech business with Neil Patel. Neil. Thank you so much for joining us here today.

Neil: Thanks for having me.

Ryan: a little bit about Neil incredibly well accomplished. If there’s somebody who is an expert in this area, this is our guy. He is a New York Times best-selling author. The Wall Street Journal has called him the top influencer on the web. Forbes. One of the top 10 Marketers Entrepreneur magazines has created one of the 100 most brilliant companies, recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama. He has helped Amazon, Microsoft Air, BNB, Google Writers, and Viacom NBC. You name it; it is an absolutely astonishing list to help them grow through marketing, and they have spoken at over 300 conferences and companies around the world. really helping people understand and grasp their marketing efforts. Is there anything there that I did not touch on? But what a fantastic background and a great guest for us to have today to help us talk about SEO and marketing.

Neil: Thank you very much for saying all those kind words, and thank you for having me.

Ryan: Let’s jump right in, you know, talking about SEO. It’s something that’s been a topic, almost a buzzword, that’s become cliched at times over the past two decades now with the growth of search engine optimization and what it is. But I’ll let you give our listeners a definition of what SEO is to you and the importance that it plays in today’s marketing landscape.

Defining SEO and Its Evolution

Neil: Sure. SEO is just ranking on search engines, and there are a lot of different search engines out there. What I mean by that is most people look at search engines as Google, then you have Bing. But there’s more to search than just that, you know, a Google VP once said earlier this year when young people look like Gen Z are looking for a place to eat or a place to go. They’re turning to TikTok and Instagram to search and find these locations before turning to Google and searching everywhere. It’s not just TikTok or Instagram or Facebook or, you know, Twitter, which has a search feature. X has a search feature. Even if you have a rental listing on Airbnb, you’re optimizing for their search when someone searches for, they want to take a vacation in a certain city, and you have a listing, let’s say your business that has rental properties, you want your listing to rank higher. So, it’s not only a search everywhere; SEO is the art of optimizing. That way, you’re listed higher up when people are doing searches not just on Google or Bing but also on TikTok, Instagram, or Air BNB, and the list goes on and on. So Seo has shifted from just being a Google thing to being on multiple platforms. 

Key Elements in SEO and Marketing

Ryan: That’s, and that’s a huge thing to consider, right is that it used to be on the search engine portion of things that was what it is right now. The optimization is really where the key is to do that. How do you see businesses pivoting now to really focus on that optimization? What are the key elements that need to be in focus for optimization? And it depends on which search engine you’re using as well. And how should you be optimizing?

Neil: Sure. So there are a lot of different factors, but if you’re looking at most of them, one thing that a lot of them do is look at the brand. So, how popular is your brand name? The reason that’s important to them is they know that brands are less likely to create fake news, which is a big issue. There’s a lot of false information on search engines. Another factor is how many other websites are linking to you. It’s like a vote of trust. Another factor is your content. How good is it? How up-to-date is it? And up to date is a really important factor. For example, if you look on Wikipedia, anytime you search on Google, you see Wikipedia everywhere, and it’s not because they have content and everything. Sure, that’s part of it. But there are a lot of sites that have content on everything. What Wikipedia does is keep its content fresh and up to date; editors continue to go in there and make it fresh. Because when you’re doing a search, would you rather read something that’s a week old, or would you rather read something that’s two years old? Most likely, you’re going to pick the thing. That’s a week old. That’s what Wikipedia has. It’s continuing fresh enough tape. Maybe it’s not a week old, maybe it’s a month old, maybe it’s three months old, but that’s still better than something that’s two or five years old.

Ryan: Absolutely. That’s the incredibly key factor. How do you wait for this, then? How do you list a whole bunch of different things in terms of, you know, up-to-date content and different ways that you have to do it? There’s only so much time and energy resources that you can put towards different things. Do you have things that are, hey, this is what’s most important, or is it as long as you’ve got that up-to-date content, you’re staying relevant? That’s what’s going to be the deciding factor. A key push.

Neil: Yeah. So, content is big. SEO content is the biggest piece that not enough people invest in correctly. A lot of people use AI to create content. So it’s just creating more me-too content when I mean me too is more regurgitated information. A is scraping the web and just creating content based on what’s already out there. People want to read new, fresh stuff that’s not talked about. The next thing with content is that people want up-to-date content. So you have to look at what content is stale and needs updating and the biggest way to figure out what content you should keep up to date.

Most frequently, you look at what pages are driving your traffic and driving your conversion. So, your analytics will tell you where your conversions are coming from, like Google Analytics. And then, on the flip side, the Google search console shows you what pages are getting what traffic, and you can compare them. All right, how did this page do today versus 12 months ago or three months ago? And I’ll show you all the pages that are declining, the ones that are declining, those pages that are driving the traffic, and based on what’s driving conversions based on what your analytics are telling you. Those are the pages you should update more frequently like I’m losing rankings because it’s not as good as the competition. Well, let me search for the keywords that this page is ranking for, which Google search console shows you, and see who are the people ranking above me. What are they doing in their content that we’re not doing? Why is theirs ranking better than us? How is theirs more beneficial to a user than ours asking these questions will help you figure out and determine what you need to do to improve your content.

And that’s a big thing that a lot of companies just don’t do a good job on. It’s not rocket science. It’s a lot of manual grunt work. Sure. You can use AI to help you with some of the processes, but you still need a human to go out there and create something that’s new, unique, you know. And what a lot of content lacks is what Google calls EEAT, right? Experience, expertise, authority, and trust. That’s what EEAT stands for, and they want you to include that kind of stuff in your content. So a great example, let’s say you’re a  medical company and you have this cancer drug talking about, you know, and I know there are laws against medicine and what you can or you can’t say out there, but creating content that’s medically related is great. But if you’re a cancer patient and you’ve gone through chemo, you’ve taken medication, and you’re sharing your story and your experience on what it’s like with the drug and how it makes you feel and the ins and outs and the hard parts and the good parts and the emotional roller coaster. That’s a unique type of content that would be hard for an AI to write. They can make it up, right? But it’s not necessarily going to be accurate. You, sharing your own experience, is a unique perspective that a lot of people would, wanna read. 

Role of AI in SEO

Ryan: And that’s a great call out. You really need that authenticity and, as you said, that experience of those pieces that are there, that just feeds right into that last part of trustworthiness, too, right? So if you’ve got something where you’re proving results, you’re showing what you do, and you can get that third party feel to it as well in terms of testimonials or exactly that the results huge piece for people to, play in there. You mentioned AI, and I’d love to touch on that a little bit. What do you think AI’s impact is going to continue to be? I mean, it’s already started to shape the space again. You know, Google needs to see original content. They want to see what you’re doing, not just you’re really great at Control C, control V, and copying somebody else’s expertise, but that it original experiences and original content, chatGPT things like that just scrapes, as you mentioned, you know, that information. But what do you think AI’s impact is going to be over time here on SEO, and how does that impact rankings and people’s ability to be seen?

Neil: Sure. So when you look at AI, a lot of people are like SEO is dead. They’re worried that when you search, Google is just going to give you the answer, and they’re going to give you an answer for a lot of stuff. But they’ve been doing that for many years. Two plus two equals four. What’s the weather like in Los Angeles, California, or Las Vegas, Nevada? They give you the answer fast if you go back in time, 10, 15 years ago, maybe more like 15. If you typed in weather in Las Vegas, Nevada, you would actually then see weather.com, and then you click on the site, and then you’d find the weather, or you go directly to weather.com. Google eventually is like, wait, we should answer the question right then and there in our search results, and this affects some people’s traffic. But according to Danny Sullivan, who’s Google search liaison, he’s been working there for a while now. He’s specifically said Google has continually driven more traffic to websites each and every single year since its beginning. So even though a lot of the searches result in no clicks or people not going to a site, Google is still driving more traffic to websites now with AI that can change over time. Maybe you get less traffic, but Google can’t just answer every question for you because not everything is black and white; on top of that, for a lot of categories like health and finance, they can’t really answer a lot of the questions because they can’t give you bad medical advice. Imagine you type a question into Google, and it gives you a medical answer, and you take their response, and you do what Google says, and you pass away, and you die. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. Google knows this. They know a lot of the information out there on the web is inaccurate, and I’ll give you another example of this. let’s talk about COVID right now. You know, I don’t have the stats and the data, but I followed the stock market quite closely. If you look at the write-downs that Pfizer and Moderna and a lot of these guys are doing from their COVID vaccines. It’s quite drastic. Why is that? It’s the amount of people taking COVID-19 vaccines has drastically reduced, right? This is not opinions, this isn’t politics, this is just pure data, right? But if you look at a lot of the articles on the web that are out there that will talk to you about vaccines, people have very polarizing stances. You need the vaccine, you don’t need the vaccine, et cetera. A lot of people have taken the vaccines, and a lot of those people don’t really take the vaccines anymore. If that weren’t the case, Moderna and Pfizer wouldn’t have tons of these vaccines sitting there, and then, you know, their finance is not doing as well. from a future standpoint when they project out how much revenue they’re going to make from these COVID vaccines. But when you search, that data is still out there on the web, which makes it really hard. Should you take a COVID vaccine? Shouldn’t you? I’m not a doctor. I’m not here to tell you what to do with your body. But that’s the point I’m getting at. It’s really hard to give people advice and answers for every single topic. In many cases, you can’t. Yes, there are longer tail search queries that are going to happen because Google can start solving your problems for you.

For example, if I’m looking to go to work on a bike and I’m going up hills, and it’s roughly five miles a day, what electric bike is best for me? You can now get an answer by asking Google a long question instead of a 23-word query. Instead, you can just ask them a 10,12, 15 word query, a whole question, and they’ll give you an answer that’s going to change. Search a lot because more people are going to start asking longer questions and just expect the answer. They may not get what they’re looking for. They may have to go to websites, or they may find what they’re looking for from Google, Bing, or any of the other providers out there. Time will tell. but websites will get a lot of traffic, and websites will have to make a lot of adjustments. but it doesn’t mean the search is going to die. It’s just going to adapt and change like most things.

Building Online Presence for Tech Businesses

Ryan: It’s interesting how the process has come full circle. Initially, instead of asking Jeeves for information, the focus was on me generating the entire question. I would then pull up various websites that we believed held the answers. Now, the landscape has shifted, and users are back to asking complete questions. However, the difference lies in the fact that they’re receiving direct answers without the need for extensive 2, 3-layer digging, as you pointed out.

Despite this change, the upward trend in web traffic remains noticeable. It’s fascinating to observe that a mere 5% of web pages are responsible for attracting a whopping 95% of the traffic. This underscores the significance of brand dominance and the ability to claim those coveted top-ranking spaces. The dynamics of online information retrieval have indeed evolved, but the essence of effective digital presence and dominance in the virtual space continues to play a crucial role. How does somebody who is a, you know, maybe for some of our listeners here who aren’t a Pfizer or Moderna, but they’re in MedTech or medical or they’re not a Microsoft or a Google, but they’re in an industry in tech. How do they become somebody who can play in those dominant spaces and rank higher and really bring that first experience if they’re newer, still be able to, kind of play the SEO game, and dominate?

Neil: You can, if you’re a tech company and you’re newer or even whether you’re established, but you haven’t been doing much, so it doesn’t matter. You’re still going to have to start from the ground up. So it’s like you’re newer even if you’re established. and you can do well; it comes down to content people linking to you and your brand, which is all about your product and service. The experience that you provide users. Are they finding what they’re looking for when they go to your website, or are they clicking the back button? Because someone does a Google search, and a lot of people use Chrome, and they click on your listing, and then they click the back button right away, and they click on the next listing, and they stay there. It means that they did. People didn’t find what they were looking for on your website. And if that keeps happening, it’ll reduce your rankings. That’s ex-user experience. How do you improve the user experience? Those are some of the main factors. There are hundreds of factors, but those are some of the main factors that are super important.

Also, is your code clean? And can the search engine call your website and understand what your site is all about? Do you also specialize in a subject? If you’re a tech company and you have a website on a specific topic, That’s great. But what we find is tech companies start producing content. For example, there’s one company that was server-related. They wanted to do well on Google, so they started creating some topics about dentists and other stuff and hoped that it would help them rank higher because more people were interested in dental stuff or live stuff or whatever it may be. You need to stick to your vertical if you’re known for, you know, talking about servers and cloud computing, stick with that. Don’t just, you know, I’m a marketer. I don’t talk about business advice. Sure, I’m an entrepreneur as well, but I stick to my vertical, and that’s what produces better results in the long run.

Success Story: NP Digital

Ryan: Amazing. There are some great takeaways here, and you’ve built, you know, NP digital with this in mind. Correct is the idea of being able to. Tell us a little bit about that journey and how you’ve been able to put all of your knowledge into some great success there.

Neil: Sure. My background is that I’ve been an entrepreneur for 22 years now, so quite a while, I am getting close to 23, and when I look at my entrepreneurial journey,

Ryan: You don’t look that old. So you must have been like in your teenage years here being an entrepreneur.

Neil: I started when I was 16. I’m 38 now. So when you look at it, when I started, and technically, I started at 15 and a half, but I’ll round up. So, when you look at the 22 years I first started, my first website was a job board, and I couldn’t find a high-paying job. So I finally was like, let me just create a job board to help other people find a job and make some money that way because I can’t find one, didn’t work out, popped up the job website or job board, and no one came. And then I learned this thing like, oh, I have to do marketing. Well, let me learn how to do marketing. Well, TV and ads are too expensive, and I don’t have all this money for all these other things. So what works? Oh, SEO works and paid Google ads. So I had to start learning a lot of these things with social media, etc. You know, the ad agency was a pain, dealt with a lot of customers. I loved it. I didn’t focus, though, and I saw a bigger opportunity at that time. I was dealing with these customers, and I remember I was dealing with General Motors. I told them that they could save an extra $2 million a month on marketing because many channels aren’t driving conversions. And I got fired from the account because the person said, well, I’ll lose a budget next quarter if I don’t spend it. And I was like, well, you just spend it somewhere else place. So I saw an opportunity to create a software company that attracted conversions and gave people insights that did extremely well, not right away within 34 years after launch. It just took a while to get up and running. Then, from there, create a few other software companies, and you know, fast forward to 5, 6 years ago. I was like, what, I see a big opportunity in the ad agency world. And I’ve been focusing on software companies that are running on their own, focusing on getting back into the ad agency world with NP Digital. And I was like, when I was running my own companies, I’m like, man, I’m struggling to hire ad agencies to help us scale. So then I was like, they could do it the way I want it done. So then I created an ad agency to do marketing the way I liked and wanted it for my own companies. And it’s worked out quite well.

We’ve won the Performance Marketing Agency of the Year award. Two years in a row. We’ve won awards multiple years for best SEO campaigns and best-paid ad campaigns on Google, Facebook, etc. We won tons of awards globally, not just in the United States. We now have over 750 employees working for us globally. We have multiple software divisions inside. We’ve been leveraging things like AI to get our clients better results, and we’ve been having a really fun journey. We’re in 16 or 19 countries now, and we’re still growing even in this bad market.

Advice for Tech Businesses and Marketers

Ryan: Incredible, and with that in mind, I mean, you’ve seen it time and again, tech company, whatever, as you said, big or small, new or old, whatever it is, and they are essentially lost, right? Hey, my marketing doesn’t work. I have a website, and it doesn’t convert. I hear that all the time. Well, I’m on the web. How come I’m not getting any traffic, or how come I’m not converting the traffic I’m getting when you’re talking table stakes and somebody to get started here? What do you? What do you think are the key things for people to recognize and know so they can start this journey and this process of growth?

Neil: Yeah. I’ll give you one tip, which is where people should start if they already have a website but they’re not getting the results they want. So, if I were a website owner, I would actually use tools like a crazy egg that show me how people are interacting with my pages in the visual heat map. They’ll show you where they click, where they don’t, where they’re getting stuck, where they’re dropping off, how far they’re scrolling, and then it’ll give you that data, and then you can use that data to make changes on your website. Crazy has a Wizzy WIG editor that makes it easy. You just click buttons, make changes, and see how it’s impacting people right there. These tests help you understand if the changes drove more leads or conversions. You can see if it performs better on mobile or desktop, in specific regions, or from certain traffic sources. Once you have that data, you can fine-tune your approach. But before you start making changes, it’s crucial to identify where people are facing issues. You need to understand their challenges. It’s not just about following your instincts; it’s about relying on data. Sometimes, your instincts can guide you correctly, but other times, they might lead you astray. Common-sense approaches don’t always result in the best conversions.

For example, if your form fields are shorter and on one page, you’re better off. But a lot of times, we’ve seen taking those form fields and breaking them up into 3, 4 different pages, even though it’s more work for a user, creates more people to complete the journey, and you get more leads, right? For example, you can’t always just rely on your gut; you have to use data. 

Ryan: That’s incredibly important, right? It is important to understand you need a foundation; you need to know where you are. It’s common for people to overlook their own website’s navigation. Because it’s their site, they interact with it differently than an average visitor would. They might be biased, thinking their design or aesthetics are superior. However, using tools like heat maps to see where clicks happen and analyzing how much time users spend on each section provides valuable insights. This information is key for making informed changes and conducting A/B testing. Now, let’s talk about the significance of having a marketing specialist and an SEO specialist. While some companies attempt to handle these aspects themselves, it’s important to note the complexity involved. With hundreds of factors in play, investing in an expert can offer a good return on investment. Choosing the right person for this task is crucial, and finding someone with the expertise to make informed decisions is paramount. 

Neil: Yeah. So, typically, our clients at NP Digital they’re larger corporations. Many of them have in-house people doing this kind of thing: paid ads, SEO, conversion optimization, etc. But at the same time, they work with agencies and consultants to help them, you know, bolster the results. So, for most of our clients, we actually are working with in-house team members and helping them produce better results and scale out their campaigns. So it’s actually a combo of both. Typically, if you’re a company at scale, you don’t want to hire generalists as marketers; you want to hire specialists, and you’ll produce much better results. Sure, you need more of them, but the results outweigh the expense from what we see,


Ryan: And then SEO versus paid ads. One more last thing because I’m sure you get this all the time. What’s the blend? What’s the strategy? Is there a strategy, or again, does it come down to really, like, you have to do one before the other to be successful? 

Neil: You can do either one in any order, but what we see is that the most successful companies do both, and it shouldn’t. It’s not about what percentage should come from paid. You try to get the maximum amount of traffic from all channels as long as it’s profitable, and you keep pushing them, and you push them, you know, if paid is getting 60 or 50% of your traffic, but you can make it 80%, and it’s still highly profitable. Go for 80%. If they’re organic, you can’t profitably get any higher, then that’s fine. You know, maximize each channel to its full potential. Don’t worry about the split. Just make as much money and scale it as big as possible, as long as it’s profitable, 

Ryan: Perfectly said. You know, that’s exactly it. Again, you have to find out where that information is coming from, be able to process it and have the right analytics and data. Is there a snapshot that you tend to say, if you’re collecting data, these are the things that you need to know? Is its conversion rate? Is it clicks? Are there some specifics that you would say are the important analytics that you need to understand at the forefront?

Neil: So the key performance indicators KPIs for every business are going to vary. Still, some typical standard ones are like visitors, where you get your visitors from your traffic to conversion rates where you’re getting your conversions. That way, you know which traffic sources to focus on for your LTV of a customer. What’s your lifetime value? Is it different from different channels and stuff like that? That kind of thing will help you determine where you should spend more money or less money. 

Ryan: And you know, with that, I want to give people a chance to, you know, learn more about you and get in contact with you. So, for our listeners who are interested in learning more, who may be at various stages of their SEO journeys again and could use some extra support, How can they reach out, get some more information with you, and learn more about how they can improve their performance?

Neil: Yeah, NPdigital.com. That’s my ad agency. N as in Nancy, P as in Paul digital.com, or it for Neil Patel Digital technically.But yes,

Ryan:  it’s excellent. That’s a great place for us to wrap up and take it from there, Neil. Is there anything else to touch on that is, again, a low-hanging fruit for people to take away information-wise? We’ve got a lot here that people have been furiously scribbling notes. It’ll be coming back again to make sure they’ve got all the information down. But anything to add.

Neil: No, that’s, we covered quite a bit and just start one step at a time and be patient. It takes a while to get results. Don’t expect the world to be within 3 to 6 months, you know, but after a year or 2 or 3 years, you start seeing exponential results. And you know, the ROI is massive. I built one of them, according to Inc magazine, the 21st fastest growing company in the United States because of it.

Ryan: That’s perfectly well said. You know, it takes patience. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. So you have to make sure that you’re training for that marathon. No one goes and runs a marathon just by showing up at the start line and expecting to finish. So you have to take that into account here.

I want to thank Neil for this amazing podcast SEO marketing for Tech Business Neil. We can have you back again because there are probably 100 topics we could spin off and get more specific on this. So, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.

Neil: Thank you for having me.

Ryan: Excellent. I also want to thank our listeners. We can’t do what we do without you. So, until we meet again with another amazing TBR episode, I’m your host, Ryan Davies. Take care out there. Thanks so much.

About Our Host and Guest

Director of Marketing – Ekwa.Tech & Ekwa Marketing
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Co-Founder at Neil Patel Digital
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“The SEO is the art of optimizing. So that way, you’re listed higher up when people are doing searches not just on Google or Bing. It’s also on TikTok, Instagram, or Airbnb. And the list goes on and on.”

– Neil Patel –