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Nathan Gotch, GotchSEO – How to Become an SEO Expert – Rankings.io

Nathan Gotch is the Founder of Gotch SEO based in St. Louis, Missouri. Gotch SEO helps local and national companies increase their organic rankings and traffic. Nathan has also created and runs the Gotch SEO Academy, an elite SEO training platform designed to level up people’s search engine optimization skills.

What’s in This Episode:

Welcome to The Rankings Podcast, where we feature top founders, entrepreneurs and elite personal injury attorneys and share their inspiring stories. Now let’s get started with the show.

Chris Dreyer

Chris Dreyer here, CEO and Founder of rankings.io, an SEO agency for personal injury law firms, you’re listening to the Chris Dreyer podcast where I invite top digital agency owners, elite SEO experts and innovative digital marketers to share their inspiring stories. I’m excited today because I have Nathan Gotch. The founder of Gotch SEO on the show today. Nathan is based in his agency is based in St. Louis, Missouri. Gotch SEO helps local and national companies increase their organic rankings and traffic. Nathan has also started or has created Gotch SEO Academy and elite SEO training courses. Designed to level up your search engine optimization skills. Nathan, welcome to the show.

Nathan Gotch

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Chris Dreyer

So let’s dive right in. So how did you get started with Gotch Seo? Where did the idea come from?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah, I got I got to go way back to that. Yeah. So you know, Gotch. Seo was really just a product of me being involved in my side projects for SEO purposes. So back in 2011, I started my first blog, when I was trying to figure out ways to make money online like everyone else pretty much does, it seems to be the common path. So yeah, back then I was doing, you know, paid surveys and I was, you know, writing, doing paid articles on easy articles and things like that, just trying to find any way to make money. And then I eventually stumbled upon this course called Web Colleagues, and they had all these different ways of making money and one of the ways was to start your own blog. And you know, that’s still a really great way to make money online. You Today, but back then I was like, Well, you know, I don’t really have any skills at this point being in college. So but the only skill I knew was how to throw a baseball because I was on the college baseball team. So I was like, Well, I guess I can talk about that. So. So then I ended up creating a blog on baseball pitching. And that just became the breeding ground for me just learning all about SEO and learning about just marketing in general, and even business lessons there too. So then I just got so obsessed with SEO and I eventually just started creating website after website. So I was creating just like these really small niche websites to try to make affiliate income. So I started like right in under counter icemaker review website. And then I started a Bowflex reviews website. And these things were like, I just basically building them just to test and prove my SEO skills. And then eventually I started getting so good that I was like, I wonder if I could like sell this to businesses and do it. them. And then so around 2013 that’s when I decided like, Okay, I’m gonna start taking on some clients here and there and see if people actually pay me to do this. And, you know, the rest is kind of history from there. And then I start taking on clients and obviously grew a lot. And then, you know, fast forward to 2016 I started Gotch SEO Academy, which is where I’m, you know, showing other SEO is how to do it, or future SEO is how to do it. And that was interesting when I launched because I launched with, and I sold Seven Spots. So it’s seven students on my first launch, but now I’m over 1000. So it’s, it’s pretty crazy how it can grow if you just stick with it over time. And I’ve been doing it now for you know, over four years, almost. So. But yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s the high level overview over the last seven years of doing this. So

Chris Dreyer

yeah, so I have tons of questions here. I’ll try to keep them short. So first with the easy in articles. So did you did you just have a collection of the easy mugs from your authorship him? Or how they used to send out those mugs every time?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah, so I don’t think I even got to that point where I was like, so a lot of you know, a lot of the articles I was writing, I was trying to make income directly from using articles, but I was actually using them to link to my right websites, because that was an actually a really effective method back then. So and, you know, back then really anything worked. So that things have changed a lot since then. But before you could really be gray hat and do a lot of artificial stuff. And there’s really no reason not to because it’s working so incredibly well. You’d be like, ridiculous not to even do it because it was so easy.

But things have changed a lot since then. So,

Chris Dreyer

absolutely. So So you mentioned you started with six or seven of those beta members at the very beginning. I can tell you right now what I see of the Gotch Seo Academy. I’m a member, I meet several members of our several of my employees or members. It’s the best collection of SEO training on the web. It’s very organized, it’s up to date. You know, what were those early days creating the the academy and this membership, this course compared to doing the traditional affiliate marketing and those types of tactics? Oh, man, radically

Nathan Gotch

different. Yeah, the, you know, the affiliate marketing is it’s purely a traffic play, you know, you’re just thinking about, okay, how can I get as much traffic to these websites so I can get more affiliate conversions and obviously, you know, you bring conversion rate optimization in there too. But, you know, ultimately, once you send those people off your site, it’s kind of up to the company to make those sales. So you’re it’s kind of hands off, you can just focus purely on traffic, which is great for beginners because you don’t have to do a whole lot and have a lot of moving parts. Now courses are much different, of course is like running a real business because there’s so many different parts, you have product development, you have marketing, you have sales, it’s literally its entire entire process. And operations. Like for example, to put in perspective, I had to hire a community manager because I literally could not respond to everything that was in the group and continue to work on the course at the same time. So I had to decide like, Okay, how am I going to be able to work on the course and continue to make the community good, so I decided to, you know, I kind of did a little bit of recruiting in the group, I want to see who was really active in there who is adding value without being paid. And then I identified someone’s name Simon, I’m sure you’ve seen them participating in there many times. But I made him the community manager, and he’s done an incredible job. And he’s made my life a lot easier because now I can focus purely on the course which is really my bread and butter. And so you know, it, it’s totally different. And it’s, you know, there’s a lot of stuff online where people are like, yeah, Started core started information product because it’s such an easy way to make money, but it’s not actually that easy. It’s actually very difficult because the the investment that goes into those courses is so substantial as far as time and money, like, I mean, I’ve I’ve paid my video editor probably, I don’t even know at this point $40,000 probably just editing, just editing that training. So you know, you you can obviously do it much cheaper, but I want it to be the best I have extremely high standard. So I can’t like I can’t just do like one of those ones. It’s like, Hey, this is this is how you do it. And then there’s like oz and arms and like people messing up on the recordings. Like I can’t handle that it just drives me insane. So I have to have it edited like perfectly. And to get rid of all my mess ups in the content too. So it’s, it’s crazy. And it The course has gone through so many iterations. Like the first time I launched there were only like, seven people joined and actually two of those people were from a contest. So it’s actually Only five people who joined. And actually I think I’m pretty sure three of them refunded. So I had a net, I had a net of two people who stayed on. So yeah, and that refund rates are very high with information products typically. So but I looking back, I deserve to have 100% refund rate with that course that I put out. Like I was grateful even have two people that stuck with it. But the first iteration of it was all text based content. I didn’t do any video. And the reason was just because I was insecure about getting on video. And that was ultimately the reason I was like, you know, I’m good. I’m good at blogging, I’m good at writing. So I’ll just like take that and put it into a course form. And that’s what I felt comfortable doing.

But then eventually, I was like, yeah, this isn’t gonna work. I need to do video. So then the second iteration was all like over the shoulder videos. And it was, it was rough. It was really rough, bad audio like me. stumbling over my words just like really bad. And I had I did literally hundreds of these videos in that second iteration. And then the third one, I was like, You know what, I’m going to redo them all. So I literally read it every single video that I did. And I, that’s my brand new video editor and I made a much better and a lot of those videos are pretty much still on there. With the new additions are obviously even better than those right but it’s just a constant process of iteration at least, if you really like are dedicated to and that’s what you want. Like I’m thinking about this on a like a 10 year level. Like I don’t want to just create a course to make a quick buck like I want this to be a massive community of people who can really learn SEO. So I’m thinking about it long term and I really I I take it seriously so.

Chris Dreyer

yes, I was gonna say what was the biggest turning point or how did you get traction but it seemed but you know, everyone talks about this overnight success but but your overnight success was tedious action, continuous improvement over and over and over. Again, So would it be fair to say that it wasn’t like, there was one thing that you did it? Was this a combination of all these activities?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah, I mean, I wish I wish it was easier. But you know, it’s like, you look back and you’re like, you’re happy that you went through that process because you learn so much, you’re like that, that isn’t what I want. Like, you look back and like that’s those standards are too low for what where I want to be now and so and it’s you just don’t know like, you don’t know what you don’t know. So like you You have to do it. And then you figure it out along the way. And I I personally think that’s the only way to really improve anything you just because everyone’s bad at something when they first started. Like it took me I literally avoided video like the plague for the first like three or four years of my business. I was like, I’m not going on video. I refuse to do it. And I just, it was just because I didn’t want to I was too insecure. I’d never been on video and in fact, I’ve kind of a funny story when I think it was maybe 2014, we signed up for the Yelp advertiser program. And what they did with the advertiser program is they had you record a video for your business. And so they had this person from Yelp come in, it was maybe like a third party person that they hired, they came to my apartment, which is where my SEO business was out of at the time, with my, my future wife and my best friend from college, so those are my two employees. And they came and did like this, like promo video for our company. And I was horrified. I was literally horrified of having to do that video. And like, I just remember when he cuz there was like, no script or anything, so he’s just like, Alright, here you go talk about the business and I’m like a deer in the headlights. Like I couldn’t even like think at all. And so it’s just crazy to look back to that and be like, Oh my gosh, that was horrible. And like even just that experience alone made me not want to do video for a very long time.

Nathan Gotch

But you know, that’s just the way it is. So

Chris Dreyer

I’m with you. I get petrified when I look at some of my old affiliate marketing stuff on like, how to lose a double Chin are topping floors. It’s like how do I bury all this stuff that I created over the years and the bit and the video things been challenging for me too. I get a lot of people that I talk to these attorneys are like, I never see it. The conferences. I’m like, whoa, I’m kind of an introvert. Yeah, I don’t do it.

Nathan Gotch

That’s how it is for me to like, that’s why I’ve been invited to go and speak at these SEO conferences. And like, I’m like, Well, you know, I’m like working on things. I can’t go. Yeah. But it’s, it’s because I am an introvert. Like, I don’t I don’t enjoy like, doing that. I do it because it’s a necessity. But I don’t truly enjoy like doing it. I mean, I love I love teaching. I really do. I genuinely love teaching, which is really the part of my motivation to do it. But, but yeah, just that that is difficult when you’re an introvert and for me, that’s my kind of like next barrier that I have to break is speaking in front of people in person. That’s kind of my next phase, but I know The only way to do it is to, you know, actually do it. So

Chris Dreyer

yeah, and one of the things you mentioned was was YouTube is like getting over the fear of being on camera. And you know, before our interview here I went and I was doing some research about your company and I go to your YouTube channel, you’ve got close to 15,000 subscribers from 55 videos. Yeah, so let’s jump over to YouTube marketing for just a moment because now I’ve seen YouTube channels with hundreds of videos with a lot less subscribers, and, or even thousands. I went to a channel a few days ago that had 1200 videos that had less than 1000 subscribers. So what what have you learned from being able to get so much traction with with, in my opinion, not a ton of videos on YouTube?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah. Extreme extreme focus on keywords and that and I’ve tested various things like I’ve had a phase where I like tried to publish every day for like two weeks and you know, you get a little Spike, and then it’s nothing. And that’s how though that type of publishing works, like you’ll get an initial spike from as soon as you publish, but because they’re not keyword targeted, because they’re not extremely high quality, they just don’t get that long, you know, long lasting traction. So actually, you know, a lot of my growth actually came from one video that I did very early on about how to develop an SEO strategy. And that video is really long, it’s like an hour long almost. And it’s been ranking for SEO strategy and YouTube for a very long time. And now it just continues to drive me subs but I basically took my findings from that video and then started doing that with my future videos. So things that I’ve learned number one, always targeted keyword super critical. And then number two longer videos work much better. And then number three, investing in production always works better. Every time anytime I’ve tried to do a video where I didn’t invest heavily in production. It didn’t do as well. But every time I do it, it just I think it’s like, you know, anyone can can publish a video that isn’t highly produced, right? Anyone can just turn on the camera and start talking. And unless you’re extremely charismatic, and you can just like hold people’s attention because of like a unique personality trait like Gary Vee, for example. He doesn’t need extreme editing, because he’s so incredibly engaging as an individual. But I’m not that way. So I need to, I need to add things to my videos that keep people engaged and increase that watch time as much as possible. So like, if you go to my most recent video, which I spent, actually, well, I should say my video editor spent over two months editing that video. And so you think about it, like that’s a lot and that was just for a 30 minute video. And the one thing I always think about too, is like, you think about how much work goes into like a 62nd commercial on TV. We’re talking like they have huge production teams, huge budgets for 60 second commercials And people on YouTube throw up like a 30 minute video without even a single bit of editing and they think it’s going to be successful. Like, it’s hard to hold people’s attention. It’s very, very difficult. So that’s, that’s half of the battle that I tried to attack on YouTube. And then as far as like me getting more subscribers and more views, I just use my email list. So every time I publish a new video, and the thing is because I don’t publish a lot, when a new one does come out, I can promote it like crazy. And so that’s kind of my spin my strategy and I’m still learning a ton, like I’m still pretty new on YouTube. So but for me personally trying to try to rank in search, and then also trying to rank in suggested videos too, which is a huge views driver.

Chris Dreyer

So there, there are tons of nuggets here. So when we look at Amazon and we think of their core algorithm, it’s it’s mostly dealing with the shopping cart and seeing which products sell when we think about SEO and there’s all kinds of debates, but a lot of its content quality, UX and links. And like those factors, and then would it be fair to say that YouTube is more about engagement and length of time watched in addition to those keywords?

Nathan Gotch

Yeah, definitely. engagements huge. And I actually I did a little test. I don’t know if you saw this, but it was probably I think it was actually last September. And I published this, this video about free SEO tools and a really, I was trying to rank for SEO tools, but free was a little bit longer. So I kind of get ready for that. And it was competing against like, you know, Neil Patel, who has 500,000 subscribers, something crazy. But when I did that, I told everyone on my email list and everyone who followed me on social as soon as I published a go and just leave a comment below because I was conducting an experiment. So I got like, tons of comments of people just you know, trying to get apart become part of this experiment. And I think I told them, leave a comment, like the video and watch the entire video and Within like, you know, maybe 30 minutes this thing was ranking in the top three, and it hasn’t left sense. And it’s all because it’s all because of that user engagement. And obviously, like, it was a pretty good video to like, it wasn’t a bad video. Absolutely. But I just that is such a huge factor on YouTube, in which makes it you know, obviously, Google Search has been trying to incorporate elements of that, but it’s a little more difficult. But YouTube, it’s very clear cut, like, they watched X amount of video, they left a comment and they liked the video, that means they’re very interested in this content. So I think it’s a little bit easier for them to make that determination when it comes to video. But obviously, you know, on the search google search side, they can use dwell time, and, you know, are they bookmarking these pages and other factors like that, which we can get into if you want to, but,

Chris Dreyer

yeah, you’re really segmented you really transition to that easily for me. So now that you’ve taught hundreds of lessons on SEO, you’ve been doing SEO for 10 plus years. Long time, if you had to list like the three highest value activities that you could do to help your SEO succeed, what would those be?

Nathan Gotch

Oh, that’s easy. content, UX, and links, those three, those three things, if you can get those three things, right, you’re pretty, you’re going to be good. There are a lot of other things, especially, you know, like subcategories of each of those that need to be focused on. But when you look at it very high level, it always starts with content. Because if you don’t have good content, or you don’t have good pages, and I refer to content as many different things like when people hear content, they think a blog posts Well, when I say content, I’m referring to informational content on the blog, I’m referring to transactional pages, referring to a comparison page. That’s all content and even even an image is content to me. So yeah, I mean, that’s the foundation of everything. So and like when we start a new SEO campaign, that’s my focus and my team’s focus is 100% I’m getting that part right first. And once we get that foundation strong, which is, you know, optimizing existing assets, deleting a lot of content, redirecting content, which we talked about recently on the phone, but but you know, going through that process to build that strong foundation is so critical, like we talked about, just so who’s watching knows, I had a client Come on, and they had just thousands and thousands of pages and their lawyer. And there was no reason for them to have thousands and thousands of pages. So we literally deleted I think it’s up to now 98% of their content, and most of it didn’t, we didn’t even redirect just straight forward for like gone. And their, their, their performance has been climbing. And it’s just because when you have that much content, and it doesn’t have links, and it’s not adding any anything new, it’s causing so many different issues, it’s causing index blow, it’s going to cause issues with crawling. It’s creating duplicate content screening keyword cannibalization. So you know, either very deliberate with what new pages will go on a website. That’s so important because adding pages just add pages is pretty much the worst strategy you can have unless you’re doing some sort of scale model, like Amazon where, you know, it’s it’s user generated, basically. But they’re, they’re not a normal situation. So,

Chris Dreyer

yeah, it’s interesting you say that, and I 100% agree, you know, Google’s trying to provide the best answer for the consumer. So, you know, when I’m talking to my prospects, there’ll be a car accident lawyer in Chicago, let’s say, they’re like, why is it My Car Accident Lawyer page ranking, I’m targeting the keyword, it’s 2000 words, why isn’t ranking like well, 99 of your competitors have a 2000 word article that targets the exact same keywords, how is yours different? How is yours better? And I just think that Google just filters out all the junk and I think that’s 100% the right strategy to just nuke that that content is not performing

Nathan Gotch

Yeah. And as long conversation, no, no, it’s not. It’s not. But you know, hopefully you’ve built enough trust with them that they, they’re saying, okay, you are the expert, we’re going to trust what you do. And it takes a lot of guts as an SEO company to make those decisions. Like, when I make a decision like that, like, I am a little bit nervous, like this could go wrong, maybe, but most of the time, it doesn’t. It usually goes, right. And I, when you, you know, when you have a lot of experience, you have to be able to have the confidence to make those big decisions. And I think that’s actually, one of the biggest issues I’ve seen with a lot of companies that leave their SEO company and come to me or other companies is that the previous SEO company was afraid to make those decisions. So they did, they did little band aids and little, you know, little modifications just to you know, they knew it was a problem, but they didn’t want to have to have that conversation about Okay, hey, you’re gonna have to delete your content. Right? So, you know, it’s and I understand that that makes sense. Like you want to keep the Client don’t want to, like, you know, go through this period because like, I’ll give you an example with this particular client, I told him I’m like, I’m just gonna let you know things are gonna get volatile here for a second, like, for the next couple months, things are going to get really bad, like your rankings are going to fall, you’re going to fluctuate, it’s going to be crazy. But just give me the time that we need and it will it will stabilize. And that’s exactly what happened. And it was actually even less than that. I always prepare for the worst but right it was only like a couple weeks of just really down rankings, crazy fluctuation. And now it’s just everything’s up now. So you know, it’s great, it’s hard it’s really hard but it’s it’s so it’s just better to make those decisions. And I actually have on my whiteboard of your avid show you but it’s probably not look very good on video, but I have, you know, the first one to three months is what I call the clients will hate you period. And I actually got that from you because you said that, you know, that’s the most difficult period. I was thinking about them like yeah, the first one through three months, the client should probably know Really like you because you should be making really aggressive changes to make sure that the next three to 12 months are substantially better. And so that’s the period where you really should be going all in to really build out that foundation. And obviously, you know, you need to have some checks and balances in place to make sure that they’re happy. Right But But yeah, that’s that’s what I call like the you know, the rebuild phase and the optimize phase is kind of that first one to three months.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I call that internally the first three months that the teach our clients not to be crazy is that those expectations so Nathan, you’re clear neck clearly an expert you’ve got you know, over 1000 subscribers on Gotch SEO Academy so you know, what are some of the the books or who are some of your mentors that that helped you continuously improve and stay on top of your game?

Nathan Gotch

Oh, man. Yeah, you know, it’s weird with books because I really I learned a lot from people who are not in my industry. So like, I’m a I’m like a diehard Warren Buffett guy, like I just I love everything that he says I’m just like obsessed with his ideology. Like, he’s just the way he operates is so incredible. Like just everything about I just I study him and I follow him a lot. So yeah, anything with him is good. But then obviously, like I read a lot of, you know, personal development books just because it’s good to stay on top of that. Although a lot of it is redundant. Weirdly, I really like investing books. It’s i don’t know why i just it for some reason it like relates very similar to how SEO is for me because SEO is so volatile, sometimes the ups and the downs and that, you know, stocks and investing is is a similar trajectory. So I think I kind of get attracted to that a little bit. But I’m not super aggressive with investing. I just invested index funds, but I like the process of like, studying companies and My, my brother in law works. He’s a CFA, and he works for an investment company. And I just told him like, hey, if you ever want like, you know, data about online marketing about these companies you’re interested in, I can give it to you. So like, I prepared this thing on gap, you know, as a potential prospect they want to invest in so I took all this sem rush data and hrs data to show how they’re trending over time and against their competitors. So, you know, it’s those tools are so incredible. I’m shocked that these companies don’t use them to actually get Intel about these companies and how they’re performing online. It’s crazy how much information you can get. So

Chris Dreyer

absolutely. Also see you got winning jack welch behind Yeah, you got a little green card known to pump you up, you know, motivation. Yes, that’s it’s good stuff. Yeah, so so Nathan, one final question here. What questions or stories can we not talk about that you feel would be important for our audience?

Nathan Gotch

Um, I would say as far as like SEO, one thing that I feel like I kind of left out was just the link building side, which cannot be neglected. It’s just, you know, you can go far building out that foundation, rebuilding a site, optimizing the site, but then once that’s done, you know, and let’s say everyone in your particular market has done that to everyone has a great user experience. Everyone has great content. So what’s going to be the deciding factor? Well, that’s when the third party signals come in. And that’s what makes the difference. And so, you know, that’s, it’s so critical that you have an effective link building program in place for any SEO campaign because it’s just really difficult if you don’t and obviously, you know if you’re willing to wait a very long time, you can maybe get those natural links. But in most cases, especially in Klein, SEO, where you need to be getting results fast. You need to be active link building. And that doesn’t mean You’re building, you know, really terrible links, it just means that you’re, you’re actively going through that process to get those new links to the site. And, you know, as you know about me, I think you should always have linkable assets. Super, super important. And, you know, you do this already, but anything data-driven is huge. works so well, it, it works well, because it works in pretty much every industry. So you can find data, you can find research, you can, you can actually even create your own data like I do that with Gotch SEO a lot. Like I’ll literally create my own data just by doing my own research. And obviously, the more unique data there is, the more linkable it is, but you can always find data on pretty much any industry. So

Chris Dreyer

yeah, that’s, that’s just gold there. You have to get those signals. I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s the votes that Google looks at. I mean, they look at a lot of different signals. But ultimately, when like you said, if the contents pretty close, and web designs are similar, they’re going to look at other factors, those external factors. too.

Nathan Gotch

Yeah, that’s for sure.

Chris Dreyer

Guys, we’ve been talking to Nathan Gotch, SEO expert and founder of Gotch SEO, Nathan, where can people go to learn more?

Nathan Gotch

Go to gotchseo.com. And if you want to get you know a little more in-depth training, you can go into the Academy, we’ve kind of changed the whole pricing model to be more affordable because we’re kind of going after maybe the whole world now instead of just for us. So we’ve changed that model so that it can be you know, you can learn SEO without having to go into debt, which I think is a good thing because there are some courses where, you know, you got to kind of make that life or death decision there. And that’s not something I want. So

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely guys, go
check it out. And I’ll link that up in the show notes. Show Notes, guys. Thanks a lot, Nathan.

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