Ep 03: Music and SEO Changed How I Think About Marketing – Interview with Dan Shure

Ep 03: Music and SEO Changed How I Think About Marketing – Interview with Dan Shure

Today’s guest is one of the most popular SEO podcast hosts: Dan Shure and he has an interesting story to tell about how his music background has made him a more empathetic digital marketer and how he uses his right and left brain skills to sell through his digital marketing recommendations. 

In this interview, Dan talks about how he’s been able to spend the extra time building and maintaining client relationships and how that’s completely changed how effective he has been as an SEO consultant.

The big thing I find with SEO is you can take five totally different strategies, but as long as they’re executed with conviction and consistency, they’ll almost all succeed in their own way.

Dan Shure

Dan is an SEO consultant and co-owner of Evolving SEO with his wife Sarah. As a consultant, he has helped companies like WGBH (Boston’s NPR), Harvard Business Review, PBS FRONTLINE, and more achieve success with SEO. His popular, entirely self-produced SEO Podcast Experts on the Wire has amassed over 600,000 downloads since launching in 2016. Dan’s SEO quotes, articles & interviews have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Next Web, Drift.com, Moz, and Entrepreneurs on Fire.

Key Takeaways: 

  • How to discover the keywords that work for you
  • How to have a killer SEO strategy, even if you’re not tech-savvy
  • How to turn your meetings into valuable training material within the company

Connect with Dan

Check out his website
Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn
Listen to the Experts on the Wire Podcast

Thank you for listening! 

If you’d like to know more about change-makers in digital marketing, celebrate their wins, and discover how they built a breaking ground career you should subscribe! We’d also love it if you’d share the podcasts you like and leave comments about your experience.

Episode Transcript

Katherine Watier-Ong  [0:02]  

All right, so today we have Dan Shure from evolving SEO. And I’ll let Dan introduce himself really quickly.

Dan Shure  [0:09]  

Thanks, Katherine. And I’m sorry, what is your actual name?

Jim Keeney  [0:13]  

 It’s Jim Keeney. I apologize. 

Dan Shure  [0:15]  

Jim, Okay, I’m looking at your text on the zoom there from the listeners that we’re on zoom and we can see each other. But that’s a great way to begin a show by asking the host what your name is. That’s right. Yeah, I’m definitely an expert. Podcaster. So, thank you. Thank you for having me on the program. I really appreciate it. So my name is Dan. I’ve been doing SEO for a little over ten years. And I also, for the last four years or so I’ve been hosting an SEO podcast called experts on the wire.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [0:41]  

Yeah, and I’m actually a huge fan of your podcast. I think you might have been the first podcast I ever listened to, to be honest. And you’re still a steady, steady one in my podcast queue for sure. And so I’m kind of curious about how you got into SEO because my husband’s a professional musician. And I know that you’ve got a music background, and I’m really interested in how you got from music to SEO.

Dan Shure  [1:07] 

Yeah, I won’t give the half an hour backstory. But the quick story about how I got into SEO was when I was approaching about age 30. I had been teaching piano lessons for about 10 or 12 years at that point. And well, actually, I should back up a little bit. So when I got married at age 26, I, my wife, one, and we got to move back to her hometown area to be closer to her family and her job. So she kind of won that, that but I’m happy with that move. But when that happened, I moved over an hour away from my piano studio, where I’ve been teaching lessons for about seven years at that point. So I kind of went from being completely full overcapacity teaching students to literally zero just pretty much overnight when we decided to move back to Massachusetts. So I needed To find a fast way or a way to get students as quickly as possible because we needed, I needed to have a job again. And of course, I, you know, called some of the local elementary schools and did a little bit of like outreach and things like that. But ultimately, two-thirds of my new piano studio was built on SEO. So I very quickly built myself a website. First, it was hand-coded. Later on, I updated it to WordPress. But I had not really done SEO before that point. I built some websites but never really needed to rely on SEO for business. So that like firsthand experience of going from have, being basically full time employed, to having no job at all. needing to build up my piano studio again for myself, without really many other resources. But discovering and learning and using SEO to do that, that really like creating a very, I think strong personal connection initially for me. A relationship with SEO, which I think carries through with me to this day, you know, because I really always think of SEO is this really powerful tool that you can use to literally like, change your business, improve, you know, whatever situation it is that you’re in. So that was my first experience with SEO. And it’s a very literal way that music kind of transitioned to me to discovering and then transitioning to SEO.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [3:29]  

interesting. That’s very interesting. And I’m particularly interested now that you’re doing a podcast, whether or not you’ve been able to leverage anything that you knew from your music world to either marketing your own business, or servicing your clients.

Dan Shure  [3:45]  

Yeah, it’s really funny like you. I think, I try to think of people as like whole people, like it’s not like I was like, Okay, I’m just done with music, and forgot about everything that ever happened to me, or everything I learned or all my experiences that had Do with music and teaching music and just started brand new. So so many things carry over for me, and I’m sure whether you know, as a listener, your background might be art, or it might be science, or it might be programming. So many of these fields and disciplines translate very well to SEO and to running a podcast and doing SEO consulting. So there are some quite literal things. For me, when I produce my podcast, I do that all myself. I do all the editing, I do all the recording, I was very proud that I got a couple years ago figured out this sort of fancy complicated way to actually record multitrack, you know, with somebody on a zoom or Skype call, so I record everything multitrack into my software, so I can edit and EQ all the voices individually, you know, so I’m kind of a little nerdy about all the audio stuff. And then I would say teaching music really translated well into how I deliver SEO. Because when I do my SEO consulting, it is very educational and very Teaching oriented. And I think it’s an interesting thing when you position yourself as a consultant. But really, what you’re kind of delivering secretively, in a way, is education and teaching. I think that really steps up the level of the consulting that you’re doing. You know, I don’t just like do an audit, throw it on somebody’s desk, I do an audit, and then I sit down with them for four to six to eight phone calls, working through all the issues explaining how SEO works, and we’ll get into this too. But I think what that’s helped achieve is help companies internalize SEO. So they are learning more about it. Because let’s face it like I can just tell them what to do. But if they’re not learning about it, they’re just going to make dumb mistakes again in the future. You know, they’re going to break something or misuse a tag or, you know, try to like employ some blackhat tactic or something. But if they’re really internalizing SEO, then hopefully, they avoid those mistakes in the future to

Jim Keeney  [5:59]  

well and that’s, I think that there’s a lot of discussions these days about digital transformation. And as that’s the glossy term for the fact that people have realized that you can’t just suddenly start doing SEO. You’ve got to build the resources from the inside. And also change your culture. There’s a lot of cultural change involved.

Dan Shure  [6:23]  

Yeah, absolutely. And then what one thing I want to mention now, we’re going to talk about a lot of these things. But if anybody wants to go check out a really amazing resource that kind of along the lines of what you’ve just spoken to Heather Vizioc, who is on my podcast, she has the SEO Maturity Model. There’s a post on Moz there’s like a worksheet that’s a Google Doc that you can play around with. It’s really incredible. And that’s gonna that you know, if you really want to sit down with like something tangible, and work on internalizing SEO, that’s a resource I would highly recommend.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [6:57]  

I actually did that with one of I used your resource for one of my federal clients because they wanted me to do a competitive analysis. And so I lined them up with how savvy their competitors were. And it was really, really helpful. They actually decided to hire more SEO staff. They pivoted their strategy. It’s an amazing resource.

Dan Shure  [7:17]  

because we think of comparing competitors in terms of traffic or rankings. But I actually didn’t think of comparing a client’s SEO maturity versus a competitor’s SEO maturity. That is interesting. See, I learned something here.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [7:30]  

Ah, yes. See, because the SEO industry is small. And so you probably could figure out who’s working at these other companies on LinkedIn is all I’m saying. And so I pulled an estimate of how many people were working at the other companies. And because of LinkedIn and people wanting to brag frankly, some of them talked about their budgets. 

Dan Shure  [7:50]  

Oh, wow.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [7:51]  


Dan Shure  [7:52]  

 that’s very sharp. I like that.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [7:53]  

Yeah. So it was huge for them. Because you would think that federal agents, a lot of people think Federal agencies get a free pass.

Dan Shure  [8:01]  


Katherine Watier-Ong  [8:02]  

and they really don’t. You compete just like everybody else does. And so lining them up was really eye-opening for them. And it really did make them think about changing their strategy altogether.

Dan Shure  [8:12]  

One thing I’ll add to where music really has really helped with SEO, just to put a bow on that is with this whole concept of and I talk about this a lot of people have heard me talk about this before I apologize, but this whole concept of being whole-brained, well, you know, right-brain, artistic, nonlinear, left-brain scientific, linear thinking. And that’s really helped me, I think, provide consulting in a holistic way because I can, on a dime, switch from doing a highly intense technical audit to then doing a very free-thinking strategic content, you know, keyword, session, or brainstorm or strategy. And I personally like really thinking of how I kind of strategize around and deliver SEO in that holistic way because you really can’t detach the technical from the content. And expect to have those work in isolation. The two really do need to work together. So music has really helped. I mean, like a very tangible level, literally playing the piano is the activity. I’ve heard this. So maybe we can find a resource in this. But it’s the activity that activates most parts of your brain at the same time and then allows them to speak to one another. So, you know, when you’re playing the piano, you’re thinking about the musical elements of that, but you’re also thinking about the technique and the notes in the theory. And you’re also thinking about that single moment, that single second time that you’re playing, but the big picture of the entire composition or piece, you know, whether it’s a classical piece you’ve memorized or a piece of jazz, that you’re improvising, you’re able to think about the micro and the macro at the same time, which I think is a really like, just great exercise for your brain. And then, if you take it a step further, you’re also aware of the audience at the same time that you’re doing all that. So you’re thinking about what’s happening with you. But also, you’re trying to feed and feed off the audience in real-time as well. And just like all those things going on in your brain all at once, I think, at least for me have made doing SEO consulting in a very holistic way and thinking about all those pieces a lot easier.

Jim Keeney  [10:20]  

So from a company perspective, you’re connecting the value proposition to the value delivery, and the value proposition going your next step is highly dependent upon market fit and your customers. So I’m big, I’m passionate about customer discovery, because and the key to customer discovery is very much that right brain engagement because it’s having deep in conversations with your customers that then lead to insights that then drive your value proposition, which then forces you to rearrange your value delivery. And it’s true of SEO as well because that value delivery is the content. It’s the message that you’re creating, but it’s also the technical aspects. The value proposition is how well does it resonate with your customers, etc., etc?

Dan Shure  [11:14]  

Yeah, yeah. I love that. 

Jim Keeney  [11:16]  

That’s good.

Yeah, yep. Go ahead. Sorry,

Katherine Watier-Ong  [11:19]  

no, I was just gonna get into the meat of why I picked you to be on the podcast. And so I pinged you because I saw on Twitter that you shared insights about how you were able to pivot a company and convince them and make some organizational change, which is really like the juicy part of this podcast and what we want to surface. So I just want to get into that a little bit more, because you have this breakthrough moment. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Dan Shure  [11:43]  

Yeah. And I think, you know, if anyone takes two seconds to look at any one of my social media profiles, you could probably have an idea of the public media company that we’re talking about here. And yeah, it’s an old school, a public media company. And just to sort of sum up the breakthrough moment, you know, I had the opportunity to work with a specific part of this organization that you can think of it as sort of, they have a whole suite of TV programs. So it’s not just one particular TV show, but it’s a whole set. And just to sort of summarize, and then we can get into the details. But, you know, I first started working with them at a very low touch, like, maybe once a month, we check in sort of manner, and then we sort of built up to then where I was doing a full project, and they were able to attribute in total, and I have some of the numbers right here in an in just a month or two period an additional 18,000 clicks to their site. You know, and that, you know, if you when you expand the shelf life of content, which is easily a year or more than that, you know, that’s 180,000 clicks, and this is only from five or six pieces of content. So that’s was sort of like the end result. And then impression wise, you know, this is about one and a half million impressions in those couple months, and we can get into why I think impressions are important. But that’s sort of like what this issue situation was.

Jim Keeney  [13:14]  

I think I think what we would like to understand, though, is, when you first engage them and start talking to them, you led them on that journey to understand the value of what you were proposing, if you can kind of unpack that and help us understand. cause 

Dan Shure  [13:30]  

Yeah, and I think the interesting thing, and I was reflecting on this before we were chatting today, it really came down to the fact that in this organization, there was one person that believed in SEO before anyone else in the organization did. And it was him that I was able to work with from the beginning. And it was sort of like if that one person hadn’t had at least a little bit of interest or curiosity. around what SEO could do for them? I don’t know that this would have worked that well, you know, like that would be a different situation where, you know, we could talk to maybe how it would work if you’re trying to persuade a person or an organization that has no buy-in at all right? Because that’s sort of starting at negative, at least in this situation. I was starting my work with one person that really believed in search. Now, he had no education around it. He didn’t even know the basics of SEO. So I had to educate him. And there were a lot of discussions where we’re talking about just like, what is search volume mean, right, like going into the details of that. And the other thing, too, is the way my arrangement with this organization worked was I my contract is actually with an entirely different department, where I was working with them more regularly, but I had the freedom within this big organization for if anybody else wanted to reach out to me as a resource, to get help with SEO they were able to do that. And I could give a few extra hours here or there. So that’s sort of what happened organically over the period of a year or two. So I was doing 95% of my, my actual work with a different department entirely. But with this other program or this organization, it’s like a very complicated organization. So I don’t even know what I’d call, you know, the particular department I’m speaking about right now. But with that department, he would reach out to me maybe once a month with questions, and I would go sit down with him for an hour and it was just, I think we did that for about two years before we actually did an official project. And so what I think was very interesting is the way my contract was set up with my direct sort of boss at that company. It allowed for this freedom and flexibility for me to slowly and patiently over two years, sort of developing a relationship with this person, and slowly educate and like literally take two years. To work up to actually doing a project. And so what I think is interesting here is what happens in most, you know, client situations, you get a phone call. And you immediately have to start with a big project with a brand new client. There’s all this big expectation; there’s no time for building a relationship. And I think this was kind of a, just a unique store like a good positive storm of all the right elements working together. That allowed the time for me to sort of building a relationship with this person, and then lead into a project. So maybe there are elements of that, that people listening can kind of pull into your own situation. I think a big message here, and I’ll go into more detail. But I think one big message here is that this did take a lot of patience. 

Jim Keeney  [16:45]  


Katherine Ong  [16:46]  

I’m also curious because you said it was in your contract. So did you rally for that to be in your contract, and it just so happened that the organization had some flexibility around having these extra hours because I’m thinking this is Absolutely brilliant because I work with big organizations where it would be great if I could be that couple hour resource to a totally different department. So I’m very curious how it gets set up for you.

Dan Shure  [17:09]  

Yeah, so my I’ll call him my boss, even though I’m an outside consultant, but my direct boss at this organization, he came from the Boston Globe. And he was at the globe for like eight years or something. So he saw that they had internal SEOs, there in the house, and he came to this new organization. They had literally no SEO in house, no outside SEO like nothing. And so he saw the value in having a resource, an SEO resource. And you know, one of the first things he said to me in my first month or two working with them was it’s just great to have you here in the building, which I think is ironic now because now we’re talking about remote work so much. So maybe that’s a virtual building for some people moving forward. But he saw value in just having an SEO presence in the organization. And I think that also works very well with my style of doing SEO because by nature, I am very patient. But also, I do like to teach people that SEO and if they want to spend time, just learning about it before we get to any execution, which I think is another interesting thing as well, because back to the maturity model. One thing I share with another company I recently worked with is literally there could be a three-month build-up, where we’re just internalizing SEO, and then executing in month four, you know, like it’s sort of one of these things where like, so many companies want to just jump in and they think of SEO is like just turning on ads or something. But it really is like just steering a what’s that expression steering a cruise ship or something like, like turning a cruise ship around, that’s going in a different direction. And that’s also what worked in this company as well in the main department that I worked with, we even still took three or four months of building up to actually starting to execute SEO as well. So I think that the patience part is very important.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [19:03]  

But the budget part so a few extra hours came from that first apartment because he saw the value.

Dan Shure  [19:09]  

Yeah, he it was complete of his design, you know, when he hired me. He said I think it just started with like an email initially. He said he introduced me to somebody else in a different department. He said, Hey, this department asking about SEO. You know, if you have extra time, and people reach out, or I introduce you to people, feel free to go talk to them for an hour. So it’s just this. It’s a very trusting type of scenario as well, which I think works when all the people have the right intent. Right. So he could have given this contract situation to somebody else that might, you know, not fully execute or actually be helpful to other departments. You know, so there’s definitely trust in the contract that we have set up, and just in our relationship that I think works very well also, so, so much of this is this, the people and the personalities, you know, we all work together very well, personality-wise. So, I should say the full project that I did end up doing with the organization where we got so many extra clicks that did turn into a separate project and a separate contract, as well. So it wasn’t always just extra hours, but that’s how it started.

Jim Keeney  [20:30]  

During that, during that arc and that journey, do you think? Did you ever experience kind of an aha moment where you were in the room with a bunch of people? And you could see people finally latch on to an understanding, and what do you think was, was there any specific, specific way that you kind of couch the discussion that led to that? Aha,

Dan Shure  [20:55]  

yeah, I think they’re the first aha I can think of is we I had them. I recommended they created now when I was doing the lightweight lead up, right. Like before I did the full project with them, I recommended that they create an article about an actor, an actor that’s in one of their TV programs. Because there’s high search volume, they have the authority to create content around them. So the SEO strategy here was so basic. It was just, let’s create content about an actor, which is a keyword that I think you can rank for. The aha moment was when the main person that I work with emailed me a few days later and said, Look, we’re on page one for this actor’s name. And he sent me a screenshot. And to them, that was like, the big aha moment for them was like, wow, we actually had this idea, or you gave us that idea to publish this piece of content. We did it, and now we’re in Google, and then we’re going to get traffic. That was a big aha moment to them. Because I think A lot of organizations are very primitive in their SEO understanding. They don’t understand this idea of having a keyword and then aligning a piece of content to that. And then that piece of content drives traffic, like a lot of organizations, just, they have no idea what keywords are going to drive traffic to what pages, there’s no strategy or structure behind it. Yeah. So that was a big aha moment for them that was like, oh, wow, we published this piece of content. And we get traffic from Google, just in the same way we publish this piece of content. And maybe we get traffic on social media, like finally aligned content to that traffic.

Jim Keeney  [22:35]  

What’s amazing about that is we’re so steeped in that we just take it for granted. Yeah, we forget that. You know, we forget that, that it’s new and different to people still.

Dan Shure  [22:47]  

Yeah, absolutely.

Jim Keeney  [22:49]  

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s great that, you know, such a straightforward Aha, something that you would, you know, mentally think should be, you know, pushed back to like, 2000 And five.

Dan Shure [23:00]  

And I think what.

Jim Keeney  [23:03]  

Still happens.

Dan Shure  [23:04]  

what led them to do it was just my sort of relentless, almost sort of like childlike enthusiasm for right. Every time we would sit down, I would just get, I can’t help it. Like I would just get so excited about like, Hey, you got to do this, you got to do that. Like we would dig into like your keywords and the actor names and stuff. And the minute I found like an actor name, and then looked at search results and really thought they had an opportunity like over and over and over I think they maybe they finally just sort of get it’s almost like a kid begging for like something in the toy store. You know, like they, okay, okay.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [23:40]  

They gave in.

Dan Shure  [23:41]  

Sort of a relentless, persistent, like a reminder, that in fact, they have a 50th anniversary coming up. And I have this idea for a piece of content every time, literally every time I meet with them. I’m like, so are you going to create this piece of content it’s about I want them to create a piece of content Around the evolution of television because it’s a keyword that gets a highly high amount of searches, but their programming literally runs parallel to the evolution of television. So every it’s a joke now like every time we sit down, and we’re about to wrap up a meeting, they’re like so anything else for us today? I’m like, Yes, the evolution of television. Let’s create that content. So, you know, sometimes it’s just being a little annoying about repeating the same thing over and over again.

Dan Shure [24:29]  

Well, cultural change is emotional. And so you know, if you we talked about leading from the front, what you’re doing is you’re emotionally leading from the front, your excitement, your interest, your focus. Is pulling them along, anyou know, Katherine and I have run into this over and over again with people who are successful with digital marketing is they just have a natural enthusiasm for what they’re doing. And I you know, it really carries through, and it is kind of it almost needs to be an engineered part of the delivery of services, 

Dan Shure  [25:03] 

Right, Yeah, I don’t say content-wise. They were set up in a good position to capitalize on this because they were already in the habit of publishing, basically feature or extra content around their programming. So they were already editorially doing this content, but they just weren’t doing things aligned with search opportunity. So that was a luxury because if they hadn’t been in that process already, of having a writer or two already doing content, they do like 10 features for every show or something or every season. I would have also been starting at negative there, right? Because then the conversation would have gone all the way back to like, Well, how do we get the resources, etc, for you to actually create content because of a company whether you are a TV program or an e-commerce site, or b2b If you’re not already bought into creating what I might call information or top of funnel content, to begin with, that’s where the discussion needs to begin. So at least they were already doing that. So, you know, maybe it would have taken four years to get them to, like, actually buy-in and start doing things. So that was a good thing too, is because I think that’s a that puts a company in a position to start to publish content around. Search opportunity.

Jim Keeney  [26:29]  

Gotcha. Katherine, do you want to dive into some details here? And?

Katherine Watier-Ong  [26:36]  

Um, yeah, I’m actually kind of curious about it. I’m actually kind of curious about your podcast, honestly, I was gonna ask you about you and your guests. That’s kind of where I’m stuck mentally. So because I know you’ve been able to interview, frankly, the folks that are on the search stages, you know when you go to search shows, and you’ve You’re at like, half a million downloads at this point, right? So, in the space, it’s

Dan Shure  [27:05]  

Yep, yeah. Yesterday, it was like 600,000 or something. Yeah, with about 110 episodes. So really the metric because if I published 100,000 episodes, you know, like, or I published 1000 episodes, I can inflate my overall download numbers. But it’s about four or 5000 downloads on average per episode is like a good Podcaster stat, you know,

Dan Shure  [27:29]  

yeah. Which is still, I think, pretty decent. And I’m more interested in what you’ve got a chance to learn from the folks that you’ve had on the show. So is there anything that strikes you particularly related to the folks do you think that is the most successful? So is there any patterns we talked about, you know, leading from the front and being enthusiastic and high energy and that kind of thing? But what another kind of patterns have you seen that you think is things that folks should take away if they’re in this space around being successful? and particularly around persuading clients to take action. I internal teams, I guess yeah,

Dan Shure  [28:05]  

there’s definitely some truth. So when I already spoke to is like it’s really hard to sell the unsellable. You know. So finding that one person in a company that is willing to go along that process with you and then help sell it within the organization. That’s a key thing that I’ve seen. I’ve also seen Yeah, it’s trying to think of a common theme. I’ve interviewed everybody from very technical SEO, even people that don’t initially I started out interviewing people doing any kind of digital marketing like social media and LinkedIn and everything like that. And then I’ve also interviewed more, much more content-focused SEO, strategic focus SEO. So it’s been there’s been a nice wide variety, so yeah, other commonalities for people to get things down with it. I think really what I’ve the big problem I see with SEO is too many cooks in the kitchen. What I’ve seen that works really well is when there’s this one person that is allowed to and able to lead without that friction of having so many other opinions where nothing ever happens. Because the big thing I find with SEO is you can literally take five different totally different strategies. But as long as they’re executed with conviction and with consistency, they’ll almost all succeed in their own way. It’s that issue you run into when it’s like, well, let’s do content. Well, now let’s link building. Now let’s get technical. Now let’s do growth hacks. And you have so many people kind of putting in their opinions. That’s where problems happen. So, for example, I interviewed Gaetano, who was a sales hacker. He’s now at Nextiva. But he talked through the growth process that he helped sales hacker achieve through mostly guest contributed content. And you could look at that and say, well, it was the guest content that really helped make them successful. But I think really what helped make them successful was Gaetano is given the freedom and the autonomy to really lead and to, you know, see this grow through without, like so many other opinions. And that is very powerful. And even in the situation that I’m in, we’re talking about with this public media company; no one else is in the room giving their two cents or giving a different strategy on SEO. In fact, I’ve recently been working with a client where maybe other people have had this situation. I’m working with a client that has a web developer who also thinks he is an SEO expert. And that is not fun, or, you know, it’s not a fun situation for me or anybody, but it also doesn’t lead to the best results, because I’ll present a certain strategy or a tactic or something in one of our meetings. And then to have many of those tactics be given a counterpoint in every meeting, then it becomes a situation where you’re just debating the strategy when if you just executed on something, the details work themselves out. So that’s a big thing that I see is like if you just start executing, you know, we talked about patience on one hand, but on the other hand, when you’re executing, you just need to execute, and not debate all the little details, because I feel like if you get 80% of the directional stuff, right, the details will work themselves out. So that’s a big theme. I mean, thinking back to most anybody I’ve interviewed, so I interviewed Jamie Iberico, she was at Aero electronics. But within her technical SEO department, she was able to lead that department and not have friction with other SEO or other departments that are, you know, debating, I mean, I’m sure there was some friction and maybe certain things she had to convince or whatnot but in terms of the course SEO strategy? You know, my understanding was that was up to her? And that’s what I see. You know, it’s a great question because I hadn’t really reflected on that. But I think that is really what the common theme is with all my guests.

Jim Keeney  [32:14]  

It’s, it ties in directly with one of the interviews we just recently did with Kathleen Slattery booth. And she said the exact same thing, just get started. Yes, you know, just get started and stay and stay on track. And consistency is is very important. Can you take that one step further. And Alright, so So now you’ve, you’ve got a strategy, you’ve got some, you know, some over coverage so that you’ve got a little room to move, how, what are the next steps in terms of kind of building out the organization that actually supports your efforts?

Dan Shure  [32:49]  

Yeah, so I can talk about another situation where I just worked with the company for three months and it was all virtual. So now we’re in a very virtual age. Post Corona My process, there was the core thing that I basically won’t work with a client unless they are willing to do weekly meetings or calls. And those meetings don’t always have to be with the same people. But I want once a week to be able to be in a meeting or on a call with somebody from that company. And ideally, there is one person within that company, whether it be a project manager or even a VP, somebody internal. That is my direct point of contact or direct collaborator that is internally helping to move SEO forward. So it’s sort of that like an outside contractor. There’s at least one person internally that’s kind of organizing everything. But weekly calls has been really key. And with that client, what I’ve recently been doing with other clients is recording every single call with zoom, and then collecting all those recordings, putting them in a Google Doc with like, three to seven bullet points about what we covered in that Meeting. And then I just had this company, they switched one of their marketing team members, and the new team member came in and watched to my understanding all 12 hours of every video that we ever did, to basically onboard and get caught up to what we do with SEO. So that person, they don’t need to start from scratch now, now they have this like really incredible resource of 12 hours of me delivering and teaching and sharing about SEO that anybody in the company can watch. And they’ve even mentioned, this is a big financial company. They’ve even been sharing all these videos with other departments that I don’t even have contact with. That’s excellent. Yeah. Which that to me has been like this really amazing value add that I’ve just started doing. But it’s this way to take like what is normally a fleeting phone call, where maybe I’m sharing all kinds of really good things about how to use a tool or how to think about content strategy. And now that can just they have this as a resource like a finite resource or like a permanent resource that they can use within the company. So

Katherine Watier-Ong  [35:07]  

yeah, that’s a fabulous tip because one of the problems doing SEO is without fail. Marketers don’t stay anywhere very long. Yeah, especially digital markers. So the turnover of who you’re talking to is a real problem for a lot of folks in our space. Now, that’s just brilliant. I’m totally taking that one.

Dan Shure  [35:24]  

It sort of happened by accident because I about a little over a year ago, I started using zoom because Google Hangouts was getting so terrible. And I never started using zoom initially, thinking the recording feature would be like the key value add. But then I would just start having clients ask me, Hey, can you record this meeting so I can share it with such and such after the thing? And I was like, Sure, I’ll hit record. And now I’m just in the habit of hitting record on every meeting and then like, what’s a became just a hassle was you hit record, and then, later on, you get an email from zoom with the call recording and then I was just Copying and pasting and emailing those to all the clients. And then that was just a headache. So I was just like, Well, let me just put them on a doc. So they’re all in one place. And I might as well take five more seconds and bullet out. And it’s just sort of like organically turned into what I didn’t plan on being but literally the most valuable sort of deliverable if you will, that clients take away from a project. So

Katherine Watier-Ong  [36:23]  

yeah, totally brilliant.

Dan Shure  [36:25]  

I’ll take it.

Jim Keeney  [36:27]  

Yeah, it’s good stuff. It’s very good stuff. And it ties back in with, you know, kind of the core message that you were talking about in terms of that cultural shift, right. Yeah. Because as they you know, it becomes a viral way of spreading, you know, spreading and understanding and spreading the word.

Dan Shure  [36:43]  

Yeah, I think, you know, to circle back to tips around spreading inside the organization. No, I was just gonna say I love all the tips around spreading inside the organization. I’m wondering if you’ve got more that you can share because these are fabulous. I work with big organizations, So I just I find that stuff really interesting.

Yeah, I think screenshots can go a long way that gets forwarded, you know, through emails, or just putting them in a doc. So when I worked with the TV organization, at the end of this project, I made a five Page Google Doc that I presented to some executives. But now, this is a tangible thing that they can also share within the company. So I think that sounds probably fairly obvious to a lot of people, but that’s something just taking the extra hour to create this sort of report. And I’m one of these people that I hate creating reports. I never saw the value in them, like I never wanted to spend the time doing them. I always figured, like, you should just do the SEO work. And like why bother creating a report like I’ve already done the work for you. But I started to see how creating a report as something that they can share within the company really creates a lot of value because then they can Literally share that within the company. So I think that more interesting thing is what to put in the reports. And I think that comes from when you’re in the meetings, and this is again why meetings are so important, really listening to the things that excite or motivate the different people in those meetings. And this can be very elusive because there can literally be a fleeting moment that is, takes a split second for somebody where you just see for like, a half a second, like a sparkle in their eye, or like a little smile, or like a just an off the cuff comment, but you realize that that’s the thing that’s really sort of speaking to them and motivating them. And like so, for example, I presented the results to the TV company to a couple of their higher I don’t know executives if that’s what you call them. You know, I’m terrible with like whose job titles or what, But when I started talking about impressions, you know, one of the person’s eyes kind of lit up a little bit. And I hadn’t planned on digging into the impression side of things as much. But when I saw that reaction, and this, again, goes back to the music and being aware of the audience, when I saw that reaction, then it was like, oh, okay, I’m gonna go into that a little bit more. Because, you know, I saw that, that created some sort of visceral response from that person. So then, when I go to create the report, I want to take and remember that and then put more about impressions in the report. You know, so these really like little things that you might just catch in a split second because a lot of people aren’t. A lot of people don’t even know necessarily what’s motivating them. so they don’t even know what to tell you that they want to learn from a report. Another thing I noticed too, when I was working with just the content people within this, you know, once in a while, a competitor would come up in the search results. A competitor that’s a publisher who publishes content about their TV programming. So it’s not a TV competitor, but somebody that publishes about their shows. And every time they come up like you’d get a little reaction from one of the editors, where you could tell they were just really annoyed that this competitor was showing up over and over and over again. So I took that to be something motivating to get that. So if I have a topic idea, and I can show that editor, look, this competitor is showing up here that might motivate them to want to create that piece of content, just to beat the competitor. But I think just being very attuned to those little reactions from people can really, really go a long way.

Katherine Ong  [40:43]  

Well, and it’s fascinating because when people think about SEO, they think about technical, they think about dry. And at the end of the day, SEO is still about the emotional connection. It’s still about creating content that resonates with people and finding what the company or organization cares about to drive that connection. Right? Yeah. So it’s it’s very fascinating that you know, we keep having these conversations where we’re like, well, what are the technical aspects of it? But we come around to what is the organizational change? You know, how are you forming your message? Does it actually connect with people? And if it connects with people, are you getting the bang for the buck? Because that’s the other thing that you’re pointing out?

Dan Shure  [41:30]  

Yeah, yeah. It’s almost like the same skill that you have to understand what your audience wants is the same skill you use to understand what the company wants. Right? You know, it’s just Psychology at the end of the day psychology and emotions and things like that. So,

Katherine Ong  [41:44]  

yeah, well, and I think the space doesn’t talk enough about the interpersonal part. Yes. You know, when I was at Ketchum, and we had to persuade, we went through multiple layers. We did persuade an account person to get to the client, you know, and we spent a lot of Time crafting what the meeting would look like, what the email would look like, how we would actually coordinate the meeting when we got there. I mean, there was seriously hours sometimes put into that process because that’s the part that had to work in order to get the idea pushed through.

Dan Shure  [42:17]  

Yeah, and I, I, you know, it’s funny, I forget the actual tweet that you’re referring to that I tweeted about, you know why we’re all here. Maybe it was the one I know; there was one recently where I talked about, you know, you can be you can win an SEO by being really good technically. But you can also win at SEO by being really good with people. And sometimes I’ll tweet things like that and intentionally be a little vague to sometimes see how people react to it and interpret it. And so it was interesting to see the people’s reactions because some people thought that I was talking about, you know, just being really good at content or, you know, something like that and the actual marketing, but what I was really talking about there was, you know, there’s a lot of talk in the SEO space now. about using Python and like, being really good with big data and, you know, and programming and all that. And it’s almost like there’s this sentiment out there that, oh, if you’re not, you know, programming in Python in your extra hours until midnight, you’re not a good SEO, you know, and I’m fairly technical. Like, I actually built some couple websites back in the day by programming them, you know, they were sort of duct-taped together, but they worked. They were functioning e-commerce websites. But at the same time for me, like, I don’t really care a whole lot about programming. It’s not where my passion is. So like, I I think that I’ve helped this company and others ultimately succeed with SEO, yes, by being technical and doing a good audit and whatnot, but by using my strength, which is being good with people. And so what I really meant with that particular tweet that I was talking about is you can win at SEO by putting yourself in a situation where all the right ingredients are for this company are there for that company to succeed with SEO, they’re doing content, they have a good brand, they have good domain authority, etc., etc, etc. They just need somebody in the organization that can work with them as a human being. You know, one comment I get from a lot of companies that I work with is, is that the problem with other SEO is they’ve tried to work with is they’re not good with people. They’re not personal. They’re not friendly. Like some people have just said to me, like, you know, we think you’re really good at SEO and so of others, but like, what we really like about working with you is you’re just friendly. Like I’ve had people say to me, we would ask other SEOs a question, and we would, they would make us feel stupid, by the way, they would answer us. Right, you know, which is really frustrating to hear. Because I think one of the biggest mistakes a lot of just SEO centric people make because they’re so in their SEO bubble that they think that what they know is like better than other people or like, there’s this sort of attitude about certain ways people go about SEO, which is like SEO is the most important thing. And, you know, you’re dumb for asking this question. And they don’t, you know, exemplify friendliness or patience or whatnot, you know, in their answers. So I think that’s how I’ve been able to succeed with SEO in many organizations is like, not necessarily being the most technical SEO. But being able to work with a company and just literally be friendly with people and be patient and like, answer their questions, even if I’ve had some people ask the same, you know, beginner level, kind of slightly, you know, naive SEO question over and over and over and over and over and over again. But you know, if you just keep answering it and be patient, and I think that can go a long way also,

Jim Keeney  [45:57]  

when it’s connecting it To what they care about, going back to what you said earlier, it’s like, well, if we, if we engineer it this way, then as you said before, then you’re going to be in direct competition with that competitor that keeps showing up on page one. And you’re going to be able to see the the balance shift. Yeah, whatever the, you know, whatever the topic might be, and, and with a lot of our organizations, what we’re talking about is things that they’re passionate about, right. When when we work with nonprofits, it’s their cause, right? Or if we work with a company, it’s the bottom line, maybe, but it’s also, you know, the quality of their product or the quality of their service. And so, you know, if you can connect those two things directly, and I think, you know, I don’t think SEOs are intentionally rude. I think that technical SEOs, though, respond with an answer that has to do with the plumbing, right? Without connecting it to the meaning, right? And I think that that’s, you know, that’s what you’re bringing to the table, And that gets back to your right and left brain balance that you talked about earlier, being able to travel from, you know, the value generation to the value, you know, the value production to the value proposition. Yeah, and connect the dots there,

Dan Shure  [47:16]  

if anybody wants a tip, so I just sort of thought of this because I was reflecting upon when I first started doing SEO. I was doing SEO for like my dentist, or like companies and people that are not in the tech world. They’re not big organizations. They don’t even they barely even know what a website is, you know, let alone SEO. And I was reflecting and thinking that those early situations even like, you know, I love my parents, hi mom and dad, but they are business owners, and I help them with SEO and their websites. And I think back to, you know, trying to explain to my parents, who are now in their early 70s, what SEO is and why they should do online marketing. Um, if you Put yourself in that situation, you’re gonna get real good real quick, I think at learning how to explain SEO, in or whatever it is you’re doing to people that have no understanding of it whatsoever. But my tip, my tip here is to actually consider doing that in very low stakes situations. Right? So right, we all joke about how if we’re working in SEO or something in digital, we go home for Thanksgiving or the holidays. And the question I don’t want to get from that, you know, Aunt that I haven’t seen for a year is. Oh, how, you know, what are you doing for work? You know, I usually just say marketing, you know, or like, if you run into you know, like, I went to a new barber the other week, right. And, and it was a, it was a woman, barber and she says, you know, what do you do for work? And, you know, there’s certain moments when I don’t want it. I know, they don’t know what SEO is, you know, or my bank tellers, like, oh, what do you do for work? I don’t want to say SEO because I’m gonna have to explain it. But I think it’s worth putting yourself in that position sometimes in a very low stakes situation to practice explaining what SEO is to people that don’t know what it is. And you might only have a five-minute chance to explain it. You know, there’s even been situations where like my wife and I will go on a hiking trip. And we literally spend three days with the owner of this local hiking company that might have a website, and they might need to do marketing. And normally it’d be like, and I’m on vacation, I don’t want to talk work. My wife doesn’t want to hear me talk about work. But I think it can be valuable in this situations. If you have that opportunity where again, they’re not your clients, very low stakes, but maybe do try engaging in a conversation with this person where you know they have no idea what SEO is, and you’re going to have to explain it to them. I think that just gives you really good practice at that.

Dan Shure [49:54]  

You’ve just described the core advice that every startup needs. Yes. You know, don’t don’t do your elevator pitch to venture capitalists. Try doing that elevator pitch to the guy. Yeah, exactly grandma or somebody who’s checking you out at the grocery store. If they don’t get it, then you probably need to work on it.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [50:22]  

Wow. So this has been awesome. I think we’re getting close to the end. And so I have normally at this point, I say, so what’s the resource you want to share? You’ve shared quite a few. Do you have an additional one that’s top of your mind that you want to share? Otherwise, we can just ask you the next question because you’ve shared a ton already.

Dan Shure  [50:38]  

Now, just a reminder, like Heather’s resource on SEO maturity model is so great. To go check that out in terms of everything we’ve talked about, no other resource comes to mind. So what’s your next question?

Katherine Watier-Ong  [50:51]  

Yeah, the next one is so where can people learn more about you and potentially check out your podcast?

Dan Shure  [50:56]  

Yeah, so Experts on the Wire is the name of the podcast, or you can go to Just evolvingSEO.com/wire that will take you to the podcast area. That’s where you can check that out. Like I said, we’ve got, you know, over 110 episodes at this point with people from like Rand Fishkin to john Mueller, from Google to Martin split from Google. And you know, all sorts of like, there’s something for everybody there. There’s technical, and there’s content, etc. The easiest starting point to find me and then everywhere else on the web would be Twitter. So dan_shure dan_shure on Twitter. And then you can find my website, LinkedIn. All that from there.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [51:42]  

Great. This has been amazing. I had a feeling that you would have tons of stuff to share. That’s right in the sweet spot for this podcast. So and I’m excited. I finally got a chance to meet you. 

Dan Shure  [51:53]  

Yeah, likewise

Katherine Watier-Ong  [51:54]  

we’ve been, we’ve been trying to connect as I head up through Boston, Maine, New Boston. It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe Well, at some point,

Dan Shure  [52:01]  

yeah, I’m in Worcester. So if you if you pass through Worcester, you can visit anytime.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [52:05]  

Yeah. Excellent. Great.

Jim Keeney  [52:08]  

All right. Yeah. And it was a pleasure meeting you as well. I 

Dan Shure  [52:10]  


Jim Keeney  [52:11]  

very much enjoyed this conversation.

Dan Shure  [52:12]  


Jim Keeney  [52:13]  

it’s a rare time that I get to interact with someone who also has that weird balance of right and left brain. Yeah. I actually took a course in design at the local community college. And, and the professor taught design from that perspective. And it was fascinating. And he talked about the four quadrants of the brain and how you, you know, different ways to look at the world and all that kind of stuff. It was like, are you really an art teacher or what’s going on here?

Dan Shure  [52:42]  

Yes. Fascinating. I love it.

Jim Keeney  [52:46]  

But it’s good. It’s good. It’s excellent. To to see that.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [52:50]  

Awesome. Thanks, Dan.

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