Diary of a CMO - SEO Part 1

SEO is something we have neglected for years. We need to take it seriously or get left behind. Money is a huge part so I think it may be interesting to document what I am spending.

If you don’t back yourself, you’re a C**T.

I was 17 years old and standing at the parts desk in Halfords when a stranger gave me this piece of advice. At the time it seemed vulgar and blunt, hardly life-altering advice. It’s strange that this has become the guiding light upon which I anchor myself. How does this relate to SEO, marketing and being a CMO in my bootstrapped business? Let’s dive in.

The problem

I’ve hired, SEO agencies, I’ve spoken to SEO experts and I’ve yet to see results. We need to tackle SEO and we need a plan for this. This week I needed to decide upon an SEO strategy. I decided to back myself. Why? The only success I’ve had with SEO is when I followed a course and implemented my learnings on one of our pages. I got it as high as the second page of Google as a complete novice. Despite that success, I was enticed by the immediate results delivered by PPC. I don’t have the time to write the content, edit the content, post the content, search for backlinks etc. At the time I didn’t have the budget to outsource these elements and thus had to pursue methods that were driving revenue quickly. I’m now tackling SEO again and I will be coming up with the strategy and then hiring assistants, writers and researchers as needed.

I will share the journey here to demystify a lot of this process. I shall also try to be as honest as I can with the budget and money spent on this process.

Step 1 - Errors on site

I decided to start with the onsite problems. A simple tool like SEM Rush or Ahrefs crawls your page and spits out errors and things you need to fix. This is the easy part. Making sense of what they mean. Not quite so easy.

19,772 errors! I nearly fell off my incredibly ergonomic office chair. However, on closer inspection, these are just dead links. They are links they have hung around after a major website update. They have been crawled (indexed or recorded) by Google but the URL or address has changed. Enter Eric.

Step 2 - Big Problem Simple Solution

Eric has been my web developer for a good year and a half at this point. He’s helped rectify many of the issues present on our site as well as implement new designs. I sent over the details to him and he is in the process of actioning this as we speak.

These critical 404 issues were generated because we don’t have a 404 page. Eric is implementing this for us and ensuring these redirect properly. That will eliminate 398 of the issues. Just 19,374 to go - yikes!

Again this next step is very similar to the first. It is old images that were made redundant when we switched the site over to the new design. Eric will also be fixing these at the same time.

That will be 19,772 errors removed and hopefully a great first step.

Step 3 - Content Strategy

I need a way to produce content at scale. As you know, I own PublishingPush.com but my main focus is CMO. I have hired people to run the other main functions of the business. That being said my plate is very full already so how can I fit in the time to create content. I need a content machine. I enjoy writing but time is limited for me so I came up with a strategy.

  1. I will record a YouTube video at the start of every week. This is going to be me talking to the camera about a topic. A commonly asked publishing question, hot topic, writing tool or industry news.

  2. Emily our newly appointed video editor will then be cutting these video’s up and adding some spice with animations. (More will happen with the videos for social media and I may dive into this in another post).

  3. Simultaneously the rough edits will go to our writing team who will take this video and use it to produce long-form blog content.

  4. I have hired researchers to find websites, blogs, news sites and any other outlets that we should be approaching. We will be using some of the posts for our own blog and then the rest will be used for Guest Posts.

Step 4 - Automation

I always look to automate as much of any process as I possible can. Notion has become my application of choice - because it connects to so many other apps. I can share items to the web and it makes it very easy to share selected content with new members of staff or external agencies.

The goal here will be to ensure that when a new video is uploaded, Emily is automatically alerted and the same for the content team. This means I won’t have to inform them at any step of the way. I upload the video and they do what they need to do. The less I need to think about and the less actions I need to take the better.

Money

I have been quoted prices for SEO ranging from £600 (+VAT) to as much as £3,000 (+VAT) per month. As part of this series I thought it would be interesting to document how much I spend and see if it proves to be cost-effective. It is worth noting that with many of the quotes above I would still have to find resources either in-house or externally to create content, write content, post content, source opportunities for backlinks and more. In reality, those quotes at easily £1800 (+VAT) to maybe £5,000 (+VAT) per month once I have added the additional resources needed. Of course, my time will go into creating the strategy and managing this implementation. However, as the owner turned CMO I am best placed to make decisions about the content.

So far I have spent £75.00 on the amends needed to the site and £85.00 on the SEM Rush application for analysis. In the next post I will be in a better place to give you figures on the content production and writing. As we refine the process I am sure we can bring the costs down.

Results

SEO is a slow burn. We aren’t going to see results from this immediately. Quick wins will most likely come from the increased output on YouTube. We have already seen even with our sporadic uploading that people engage there and then become customers. I plan to set some short term goals so that we know the strategy is working. If we can see some success with some less competitive keywords then we can turn our attention to the more sought after terms.

Arms Length

The main reason I wanted to keep the content close to me is that we are a publishing company. We know hundreds of writers, editors and proofreaders. We can access the resources to deliver a good content strategy.

Will I be recording the videos, jumping on Instagram lives and doing YouTube videos forever? Nope. The goal is to find a process and strategy that works. The next step will be to get someone in the company already or externally to be on video and delivering the content. This will be the challenge as to create great content you need to be passionate about the industry and know it well.

I shall publish the next installment next Wednesday and let you know how we progress.