Rob Burns Interview

by David Jenyns on September 22, 2013

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Rob Burns

Rob Burns

Name: Rob Burns

Industry: Internet Marketing


Rob Burn’s Bio: Rob Burns is a leading search engine optimisation expert. Through his dabbling with different businesses and his desire to market them, he stumbled upon SEO and mastered it. Today he is a proponent of the idea of SEO turning into more of a social thing because of Google’s pushing of the Google+ and the obvious effects of Twitter and Facebook. He is also successfully using press release and video marketing strategies as part of his total internet marketing arsenal.

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Interview Transcript:

David: Hi guys, David Jenyns here from and Podcast Interviews. I’ve got a really excellent interview lined up for you today with a smart marketer, excellent SEO. His name is Rob Burns. I actually came across him because he is speaking at an event coming up that we’re both speaking at. So I started to dig a little bit deeper and do some research. He’s got a really deep and rich marketing background. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get him online. He’s had his own publishing company and tried so many different varied things: everything from setting up his own hot sauce brand to importing paintings, Elvis paintings over the border in Mexico or something like that. He’s got this really crazy background.

What I like most are marketers who’ve applied their knowledge to the real world business rather than just learning marketing for the sake of marketing to sell shovels to the other gold miners. He’s actually taking his marketing smarts and applying it to real business. So he’s tried lots of different things and like all good marketers, he’s always got his eye open for opportunities. I think that’s probably what led him to SEO and he’s been doing it for such a long time now. I thought, get him on the line, let’s talk about what’s working now, what he has seen changed and what he sees coming down the horizon.

Firstly Rob I’d just like to welcome you to the call.

Rob: Thanks for having me on.

David: Perfect. As a way to start in Rob, I don’t know if you can just tell us, I think probably the most interesting story that I heard was the way your Elvis paintings little business went. I don’t know if you want to tell us a little bit about how you came across that idea and what you did with that.

Rob: Yes, sure. Well, originally I’d grown up in California, I’m a native Californian. I was living in Florida at the time through a long turn of events. There was a local guy there in St Petersburg, Florida who was always doing his art shows and events and things like that. He decided to do a whole Velvet Elvis gallery showing extravaganza. In the south it’s not that common, it’s a unique thing.

I was talking to him and he said, yeah, man I would pay $75 for every Velvet Elvis painting, I think that was what the amount was. I remember, growing up in California, that you could go across the border and you could buy a Velvet Elvis painting for $10 or $12. I’m starting to think, cool. He places this big order for all these Velvet Elvis paintings, so my brother and I do a road trip and we head back to San Diego.

I knew of a place where they actually did these paintings. It’s really interesting because it’s just this big long building and they have this long easel. What they do is, they don’t have one person who paints a painting, they just have one person who paints one thing on the painting. So they’ll have a guy who will just paint his ear and then they push the painting down the easel and there’s another guy who will paint the sideburn and then there’s a lady who paints his hair. So there are all these Velvet Elvis and Bob Marley and all these crazy cheesy paintings.

When you go directly to them you can get them for $5. We just loaded up the van. It’s a local joke in San Diego you have these surf monkeys and they’re piggy banks and they’re usually a chimpanzee in a one piece bathing suit on a surf board holding a Corona bottle. They’re about the cheesiest thing on earth. So we filled up the rest of the van with those and then headed back.

We just pulled up on the side of the road and sold Velvet Elvis paintings and surf monkeys along the way and actually made a ton of money. It was fun.

David: I love it.

Rob: I probably could have rolled it into a bigger business but I just didn’t want to be known as the surf monkey guy. It was just the fun of having an adventure.

David: As an entrepreneur, that’s what you do. You spot these opportunities where you can effectively buy something cheaply and then sell it more expensively. SEO was a little bit like that as well in the early days. The cost it took to get great results was a lot less than the potential reward that you could get for the business that you applied it to. I can understand the appeal with SEO. I am curious though, what was it that attracted you to the idea of using search engine optimization?

Rob: Honestly, it’s really similar when you think about marketing. Basically how people make money is they have a service they can get for less and then they sell it to someone who wants it or needs it for more. If you think about SEO, if somebody has something that they need to be found and you can drive those eyeballs to them, that will cost you less than what you can charge for that person to do it for them, then you’re making money. Really that was the attraction.

When I first started, I actually had a hot sauce company. It was just right after September 11 and I decided I was going to sell hot sauce online. What I did was sell it by the case. So I started out and I paid a lot of money to people for SEO. Back then it was really crazy witchcraft, voodoo and no one really knew what they were doing but they just said they did and charged a bunch of money. Eventually I said no to that, I’d figured out how to do it myself and I actually wound up ranking my sites number one for key phrases hot sauce and a lot of SEO hot sauce related terms.

A lot of the competition sites, I actually beat out Cholula hot sauce, for Cholula hot sauce. Especially back then, that was when we were doing keyword stuffing, one pixel images and invisible white tags and all that good kind of thing. It was fun back then and really it was just fun for me. Eventually I sold that hot sauce company but people knew about what I had done, so they said, hey, can you do that for me?

That’s where I really started off in the SEO career, I started doing it for other people. Some of the most competitive phrases back in the day were buy gold, buy silver. Then I had an internet business and an online business and some of the most competitive terms, I really just did those for giggles to see if I could do them or not.

David: Back in those days, you talked a little bit about some on page work. Was it quite automated with the off page link building work or did you have a team or were you outsourcing that whole idea of the marketing? You were saying, you find a way to buy cheap and then you resell that service. How were you delivering on that?

Rob: I started off on my own. I’ve always been the guy behind the guy, so I’ve done a lot of work for some of the gurus and things like that. I was the implementer where I would either do it myself or build a team and then have it done.

So in the beginning it was just me and it was good that it was just me because that was really more of a learning period for two or three years. I was one hundred percent, 24/7 just trying to figure out how SEO worked and how all of my marketing in general worked. Then it just evolved and I just spent the rest of the time working on taking myself out of the equation and still having quality.

Back then on page was really a much more important factor than off page. Basically people just did reciprocal links for their off page ranking. On page was all the white text on white backgrounds and putting a thousand keywords on the bottom of your footer and things like that, stupid things really.

David: It’s funny to watch how quickly the industry has changed. It felt like for a very long time there not much happened. We knew that some of those techniques probably weren’t the right thing to do, but they were working, they were getting great results. Google’s guidelines said, hey, you shouldn’t be doing this but that didn’t mean it wasn’t working.

When you started to see things change, how long ago was that when you started to recognize, hey our industry is starting to change?

Rob: It’s always been that, it’s always been SEO is dead. I would probably say, from the first year I started, people were saying, everything has changed now and Google has updated their algorithm and we will lose out. Really the reason I decided to change the way I did things was not because I don’t think SEO works anymore, because I do. It was more a case of really just how much energy, how much bandwidth and what kind of a practical business model it was.

Before it was just fun. I’m hyper competitive so everything was a challenge for me. I’d pick the hardest clients and the hardest keywords and just go after those and charge an amount of money. Then I evolved back into to doing more things for myself, for more of my businesses. I said, if I do a hundred percent SEO, it’s really not sustainable because things always change. You build up all this traffic because you’d figured out some loophole or way to game the system and then all of a sudden that gets plugged up and then you’re back to zero. You’re losing all your money and then you’ve got to figure out a new thing to do.

I think SEO is still super effective and I still think if people make that just their thing, that’s good. It’s just a lot more energy and a lot more bandwidth. But for me I look at everything as building a business now. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean I don’t look at it like a bricks and mortar business. That’s really the approach I take. It needs to last for five years or longer as opposed to weeks or months.

David: Yes, we’re definitely noticing the cost of SEO going up as a result of a lot of these different changes. I think previously, like you, when a client would come to us we could say, I think confidently we could guarantee we would get them the best return on their money for their marketing dollar. Now SEO doesn’t necessarily make sense for every business because we’re seeing the cost of SEO going up. All of these changes and things like that have meant things have to be more manual, especially if you want them to last.

Really I think that’s what everybody wants. You don’t want to be building a business that can potentially just crumble. I know we saw some big changes with Penguin and Panda and some of the subsequent updates as well. The big takeaways there, I don’t know, you mentioned one, if there are any big lessons that you picked up as some of these changes happened. One is obviously how you’re building for the long term and you need to run this like a real business. Were there any other things that came out after these updates, changing the way you look at business?

Rob: Yes, I would say, that’s a big part of it. I think SEO and internet marketing in general is starting to mature. In the early days it was always like a gold rush. There were guys selling snake oil in arcades, it’s magic bullets. There’s one thing that you can do that’s going to make you this ungodly amount of money by pushing a button and it’s not real. People are starting to realize that.

First of all, whatever you’re selling online really needs to bring value. I suppose selling Elvis paintings wouldn’t be a good example, because I don’t know how much value that brings to the world. It has to bring value. You just can’t sell hopes and dreams and that type of thing. The FTC is coming down hard on some of the big guys in the beginning, the guru type guys, they’re just getting beaten down by the Federal Trade Commission because it’s just not real business a lot of times.

So that and quality and mix things up. I think diversification is huge, so don’t be a one trick pony, especially with SEO. Learn your marketing chops, learn your copywriting chops and really bring something of value. Everything helps everything. Your copywriting helps your SEO and your SEO even helps your paid media. Now Google is so hardcore on their PPC, you have to have a Pay Per Click compliant page which is actually like a regular page. If you can design a page that converts that is SEO friendly and also has Pay Per Click, then you create a perfect storm.

That’s the way I look at everything. It’s not just one thing. You can’t do everything, so just find the best people who can and bring them in. That’s where I really break everything into modules and compartments. I have people who I work with who are just really good at one thing: facebook ads or Pay Per Click.

Even on a link development site I work with some folks who do some really high end copywriting. They get you, with guest posts, make you the authority that way. I think as far as link building, that’s a really good way. That’s what I used to do way back in the day and now it’s almost gone 360 and it’s back to doing that kind of thing.

David: Do you have a little bit of a process that you go through? Let’s say you’re launching a new campaign or site or business. You’ve mentioned a few of the different things and you want to make sure that you’re not a one trick pony, looking at some different ways for building links and authority. Do you have a process that you go through or is it a little bit more of it depends on the market and it depends on how you’re feeling? What is your thought process when you’re launching a business?

Rob: I really look at the market too, that’s a lot of it. I just see where is the money and who is the competition. A big challenge for SEO nowadays is just I call it the Walmartization of search in general. I don’t know if you guys have Walmart, do you have Walmarts in Australia?

David: No we don’t but I’m familiar with it.

Rob: They’re big giant massive big box stores. If you’ve noticed, now you compete with those people, you compete with and Walmarts and Amazons. My theory is those people spend a ton of money on paid advertising too. I think they get the preference plus if you think what is an authority site, look at Amazon. Amazon is huge, just a beast, so how do you compete with that?

I look at the markets and I see there are gaps in the market where you’re not going to compete that way right away. Then I also try to leverage all those larger sites to my advantage and build Amazon stores or use YouTube.

Are you guys familiar with the term parasite sites?

David: Yes.

Rob: I do a lot of parasite work. I do my own thing but before my own sites start to rank I’m looking at what I can do as far as using parasite sites and building Amazon stores and YouTube channels and things like that.

David: Just to make sure I have got our matching definitions there, when you say parasite sites, basically like a feeder type site, a site that is almost like a little standalone mini site with the purpose really of trying to rank that primary site. Or by parasite do you mean it works off the authority of some of the larger sites? So you might build a profile on a Web 2.0 property and it parasites off that success?

Rob: Exactly. Yes. It’s really an inaccurate term but there are a couple of Mastermind groups I’m in and that is what everybody decided to coin it. But really you are parasiting off their domain authority. Say you had a supplement like Marine D3. A friend of mine, Ed O’Keefe, earns about $35,000,000 a year selling Marine D3, which is a supplement. So if you were trying to build a Marine D3 site it’s going to take you a while to rank it. But if you had an Amazon store and you named that Amazon store Marine D3 and started doing YouTube videos and press releases and it’s all built around that, using that authority of the actual Amazon site, then that Amazon site is probably going to rank in days compared to months or longer for building something that is a competitive phrase.

That’s my definition of a parasite. Other people might have different ones.

David: That idea, particularly with some of these larger sites when you’re riding on their coattails of their domain authority because they’ve got such a well rounded link profile, you can do some really aggressive link building to these properties. It just gets absorbed into the profile which means you can rank something and use some link building methods that you might not necessarily be comfortable doing though to your primary site. But it can work on these larger sites because it is such a small percentage of that overall link profile.

I know you do a lot of things with YouTube and some of the other ways. How are you using video and how does that actually play into your marketing at the moment?

Rob: Well, actually what I’m doing now is, about a year ago, I took a step back. I had a link building service and I was partnering with a bunch of people who were doing internet marketing launches and so on. I was working with, I don’t know if you guys know Hollis Carter and Jonny Andrews, they had a Perfect Publishing system, a Kindle publishing system. I was doing some work with them. I said, you know, I really want to start building real things that have a real foundation. I went through a couple of months and looked at what’s still really working and what’s not?

The things that I came up with that are working are: PRs, press releases are to a certain extent but they really need some help and videos and social mentions. I think social mentions are really the new black. What I decided to do is actually combine all of those together.

I built a system which is basically a press release service but it is a video press release, has an anchor person who we actually shoot in our virtual news studio. We embed those videos in the press release. Then we also have our own YouTube channel and video channels.

The problem with press releases were you would post them because they’re news. But they wouldn’t hang around, because they’re news. If you embed them in a video channel, then they stick around. Plus, your audience, I’m sure most people are doing video marketing right now so they know it’s super easy to rank YouTube videos for competitive phrases. We added a social mention on it where we basically had our RSS feeds so that every press release that goes out just goes to a big massive network of social media sites that post links back to the press releases and to the videos.

I think the question was how was I using video? That’s how I’m using it. Those are the three things that I’m using. I just combine it into one thing. But I would say if you’re doing marketing, those are the three things that I would suggest you really start looking into: video, social mentions and PR to a certain extent.

David: Yes, I’d love to drill down just a little bit on each one of them. Press releases, we know some of the effectiveness. They’re not as effective as they used to be when using different services like PRWeb of Vocus, either/or. Services particularly like that, I think Matt Cutts came out a little while ago, I know you need to take everything he says with a grain of salt, but they had called out press releases in particular. They said, hey, you need to be no following your press releases. That in itself is an indication it’s probably working.

How have you seen press releases as a standalone? If we talk about each one standalone and then we can combine all three together and see how they work together. But for your press releases, what have you seen there as far as changes?

Rob: Yes, Matt came out with that and then of course right after he did that a couple of guys basically ranked an article using only press releases, which pretty much proved it was wrong.

But I think they are looking really hard and heavy on that kind of thing. With PR it needs to be something that is newsworthy. I think part of it was because PRWeb and some of the others were basically like an advanced article directory. It wasn’t that much different from EzineArticles. Things weren’t necessarily news related or they just weren’t well written. I think the problem with the PR industry in general was the fact that it’s almost like the same thing I was talking about with SEO. Everybody was a one trick pony.

One company, the one we were talking about, we uncovered basically they had a massive splog network. They had 3000 sites and they didn’t even do it right. They actually split up into two classy servers all of these sites and they were all on the same IP. It was so easy to discover and so Google pulled the plug on that and so hey, no more SEO press releases.

All of these PR companies had one thing that was their specialty. Really if you think about what is PR, what are press releases for, it’s to get in front of as many eyeballs as you can. It’s really what Eric Schmidt was talking about, he had a quote where he was saying that. It used to be media dictated, how we absorbed news. The very first press release went over a telegraph wire and it went to one news guy and it was talking about a train wreck. They were just announcing this and another train ran into the wreck.
That took off and so they started sending these messages to journalists hoping the news pool would pick up their story and write about them. That evolved from newspapers to radio to TV. Newspapers, radio and TV always say this is how you’re going to see things.

Then the internet came along and social media came along and there are all these different modalities in there. So people now decide how they’re going to view and absorb their content. I know a lot of people get all their news from twitter. There are a lot of journalists who get all their news from twitter. That’s how they communicate back and forth.

If you’re not diversifying, if you’re not spread out across that broad spectrum, then you’re really going to miss out on a lot. If you really think about it, if you do it right, who cares about Google? Google is just one piece in the puzzle. That’s where I think everything is going, even SEO.

Back in the day there were fifteen different search engines that we all ranked for and all of a sudden it consolidated into one and everybody’s mindset just focused on Google. Some people still do a bit of bing and Yahoo! If you’re in the right markets it’s a smart move. Everybody just focused on Google. I think eventually even Google will be somewhat obsolete just because of the way people absorb things.

If you think about it, YouTube, it’s not like Google but YouTube is the second or third largest search engine. I know between facebook and YouTube they go back and forth but if you consider them search engines, then you just really have a whole new perspective on how to do things.

So I try to look at that too because everybody just looks at Google. How do you rank in Google? It’s a piece of the puzzle but it’s not the piece of the puzzle anymore I don’t think.

David: Yes, you touched on the idea of social being another piece to this puzzle. It’s definitely an interesting one. Google has made a massive push for obviously Plus Ones and they really want to get into the social space. Just recently I think Matt Cutts came out and the question was whether or not Plus Ones affected rankings. He said there is no direct relation to Plus Ones. Now direct is pretty much a wiggle word.

On the flip side, Moz ran some correlations and data to see rankings and what factors correlated well with good rankings. I think links might have been number one but Plus Ones through Google Plus was something that definitely had a very high correlation. So if it’s not direct now, I think it will be in future.

But I’m interested to get your thoughts on social. You touched on twitter. How do you see social fitting in to this mix as well from an SEO point of view? I think you even said it’s the new link building in your eyes.

Rob: Yes. I remember that SEOMoz and I was actually just looking at that. I think link building was number two or number three. I think Google Plus and actually social mentions actually beat out traditional link building, if I remember. I could be wrong but I remember a lot.

The thing about social mentions, it’s not just juice, those are eyeballs. If you have a big enough social account and you’re directing it towards the right people then it’s huge. A friend of mine, Drew Canole is on facebook and he gets 50,000 uniques a day. He has a juicing product. Remember the juice man? The old dude with the big eyebrows, Jay?

David: I’m not sure.

Rob: I don’t know if they have that in Australia. He was an infomercial guy. He was funny because he had these big giant eyebrows and he had this juicing thing. Drew is actually taking over from that guy. Two percent of his traffic actually comes from organic search. The rest comes from things like social media. He just has these massive facebook accounts and social accounts. He puts out content that is really super viral and people just love it. He website is, so he is a dot tv so he is part of the network of Jay. That is ridiculous because he is not doing it Google’s way.

So I think social can be a huge factor. Again a think it’s a piece of the pie but it’s not the piece of the pie. That’s really how you have to look at it. If you really want to make something big and you really want to run it like a business, you need to find the best people who are in that arena and then have them do it. You can’t do everything and especially nowadays, there is so much to do it’s ridiculous. So find the best people and put them in place and then build those campaigns. Then you build a business that is real that has a foundation to it.

David: Yes, I think you’re right as far as the game now. To be successful online you need to hit it from multiple different angles. We saw a lot of people who just built their business on SEO, at least traditional SEO and then you had some of these recent Google updates. It was like they’d built a one-legged table, that leg got knocked out and then almost overnight their business just crumbled to bits. They didn’t actually have a business, they just had one form of traffic source.

Rob: That’s it. I still do all those things. It’s almost like a hobby for me because it’s always been fun. I’m not going to base my living and my retirement on it. I’m going to be picking food out of a trash can under a bridge if I do. Still do all those things and try to use them as long as it’s not the only thing. If you’re really serious about building a business, you really need to focus on broadening your spectrum and doing things right and making something that is quality. That’s the way I look at it.

There are still guys who do all that crazy work and make a lot of money. I’m sure in five or ten years they’ll be doing something else and it probably won’t even be internet related.

David: Yes, the other one which you mentioned which almost like another piece to that puzzle then is that video marketing as well. I’m a big fan of video marketing. You talked about this idea that you’ll run a press release and the press release can slip away from it’s rankings whereas a YouTube video can stick around, especially if you do some linking to it.

This sounds like the trifecta here. You’ve got the social, the press releases and the video. What sort of things do people need to think about when video is involved?

Rob: With a basic SEO, video SEO thing, I’d keep it pretty simple. I’m sure this is most of the things everybody knows. You want to embed whatever your transcript is inside the video. That’s a big ranking factor and not a lot of folks know about that. Then embed your transcript or your content into the description section and always put your link to your site on the very top. It’s not necessary for SEO purposes but because you want them to take action. So if you want that video to convert, then the thing you want the other person to have is that link to their site.

I would say no robot anything. That’s a good way to do a lot of work and spend a lot of time and money and get your channel banned. All the TubeMoguls are just robot tube likes and views and things like that. That really can get you in trouble if you don’t do it right or if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re just starting out, I’d stay away from that. But that’s a good way if you do have very large social profiles, you can drive them to your videos so you can get views and likes that way.

Start out doing light link building. Usually what I do is start with a light mini link building campaign and I wrap it up about 10% per week. I keep going that way until I start to see movement and then I just hold it for a little bit and see how far it moves. Then I start doing 10% a week again. It’s just the way I do things and it seems to work out pretty well.

David: I think the link building and I think what I like is the way you rolled together. these three into a particular service. I did a video on my wedding actually only a few months ago. I did a surprise song and I sang an Adam Sandler ‘Grow old With You’ song which is from The Wedding Singer. I posted it to YouTube and then I did a press release to it. Now if you search Adam Sandler ‘Grow Old With You’ on YouTube, if you look at all of the videos, at the moment, it bounces between position three and position four. All of the other videos have millions and millions of views.

Just by using the press release strategy because you’re basically building links to that video, it ranks very well. It’s getting at least between fifty and eighty unique views a day for that song. We’re in position three and four. I haven’t figured out a way to monetize that but it made me realize the power of using video with press releases.

How have you combined all of these together?

Rob: Yes, that’s a good tactic you can use is if you have a video. Especially with our videos which are embedded. You could do a press release and then your next press release, if you have a series or you have a product line, then your next press release you can actually add a link to that previous YouTube video. You use that press release to drive traffic and eyeballs and links to the previous press release video. You can just keep doing that also. That works out really well. It helps drive the views and it also helps build the back links to that YouTube channel. Does that make sense?

David: I think it does. The real key is having this strategy that hits more than one particular area and you’ve got a few pieces to the puzzle. I think that’s where a lot of people do go wrong with SEO. They maybe learn something about SEO and they think this is it. I’ve found the answer, I just need to choose a keyword and make sure I’ve put it three times in the title tag and five times in the description and are stuck in some of these old thinking ways.

Are there any other ways that you see people going wrong with their SEO?

Rob: Yes and I’m pretty contrarian I guess to the mainstream on some things. I think if you’re looking just at Google trying to rank for Google things, even worrying about keywords is probably a mistake. It’s super easy to get penalized, an over anchor text penalty is where most people go wrong. Also worrying about embedding the keywords too much.

If you write in natural language and you write high quality text, Google is so good at discerning that text now that you really don’t have to even worry about embedding keywords or adding keywords. Google knows this word or this phrase really relates to this.

We’ve proven that where we’ve used articles and content that didn’t have that keyword in it at all. It had related subject matter and it would relate to the keyword that we were looking for, just to test it out. So a big mistake I think people make is they over stuff keywords and they’re keyword stuffing where they should focus more on the subject matter.

We also tested out, and this is something most people just don’t believe, but we’ve actually ranked sites with 100% no follow links.

David: You’ll make Dori happy with that one. She’s been saying that for a long time.

Rob: Yes, that’s how I got started. I’m in a Mastermind group with Dori and we were arguing back and forth about it. Dori and I said, let’s test it out. Dori set up this whole campaign and tested it out and it works. It works great. I don’t even worry about follow and no follow links.

With my press release system right now, I do follow links. I think I’m going to make them all so they default as no follow links. But you can hit a button if you want them to be follow links and do it that way.

The other thing, and this is really with Panda and Penguin, is over anchor text penalties. I know that for a fact. My wife is a professional organizer, she’s been on national TV and Good Morning America and all this good kind of thing. She has about an eight year old website. It used to rank number one for that term, professional organizer and all of a sudden, boom, she went off the map for a lot of things.

The things we started looking at that she went off the map for were the things that had eight years’ worth of anchor text and links pointing to her site, primarily professional organizer and home organizer and image consultant. Those things we used to rank standing on our head. Now she’s not even indexed for that kind of thing anymore.

What we started doing is started building more naked links, meaning just the URL without anchor text. We’re starting to see those results slowly coming back. At least she’s on the map now. But I have eight years’ worth of link building to go over. I guess I could do the disavow thing but I really stay away from that because to me it’s like an admission of guilt. It’s like Google bribing you to admit to a crime.

So our efforts now are just to build more links, they’re just naked links until that ratio of over anchor text goes away. But I would say it’s still an old school thing that people do wrong, that they just do too much. I honestly think you can rank with just naked links. You don’t even need anchor text. Google knows what the page is about. They know what the subject matter is about. I think a no follow naked link is more valuable than a do follow anchor text link.

David: There we go. That’s a Rob Burns quote.

Rob: Yes, and most people go, well, I’m not buying your things because you’re a moron. Honestly we’ve tested it over and over and it works. I don’t really do much client work anymore, but when I do, if that’s what they want, I’ll tell a person what I think. They’ll say, oh no, and I’ll do their thing and take their money.

David: It’s definitely funny when you do some analysis. You used to analyze the top ten results and look at how old the domain name was, how many back links they’ve got and you’d look at some of these key factors. Then you say, what is the likelihood of me really ranking in this space?

Sometimes now, you just see websites and you say, why is this ranking? By rights and by metrics it shouldn’t be. So something is definitely up. I think it is important you make sure that you don’t trip Google’s filters when it comes to doing things that are ‘unnatural’. You want to make sure that you are building links with URLs, with varied text like click here and find out more. You want to make sure you’ve got a combination of follows and no follows. You’re using social media, you’re using video. It’s all of these things combined and rolled together.

It also helps you build a business that is not just single source dependent. Once you start to add into the mix social and video, then sure it will help you with your SEO but also it gives you another source of traffic. So should you come under fire from Google, it’s not game over for you.

Rob: Yes and another theory that I have too but I don’t know a lot of folks who are doing it. I think that anchor text from higher PR authority sites are good, but sites that are not high traffic, not high PR sites, you should probably get more of those, more naked links from those sites.

The reason is, if you think about it, what is natural? Mom and Pops aren’t necessarily that technically savvy. So if they’re going to refer somebody to another site or say another site is interesting, a lot of times they’re just going to paste the link in it. They don’t even know how to do anchor text. We all assume that everyone knows how to do that kind of thing.

Some of the smaller Mom and Pop type sites, that’s what they’re going to do. That’s what appears to be more natural. Where some of the bigger more sophisticated sites that are high PR, where people go who are more savvy, they’re going to use anchor text. I recommend doing that too. If you do go after anchor text, get a couple of big money keywords from the big money sites and then the rest fill in with smaller sites. That’s how people do things so it appears a lot more natural. It doesn’t set off the triggers.

David: I really like that idea. It sounds like you’re spotting where the future of Google is headed and search. You touched on a few different points as far as will search as we know it be irrelevant further down the track. We were talking about this idea of really going natural. Are there any other things that you can spot on the horizon that you think from an SEO point of view where you see the future of search going?

Rob: I think it’s going more social too, even Google. That’s another thing too, we were talking about parasite sites. Google Plus sites rank really well. Another thing you can do is, try Google Hangouts. You can do a Google Hangout and that basically turns it into a YouTube video and ranks really well. Google wants that to work. They’re terrified from all these social sites like facebook. Facebook is just eating their lunch right now on that front. They want their social to rank really well. I think Google will eventually be a social search site.

For the interim, for the next year or so, talking about ranking parasite sites, I would look at Google Plus also. We do that with all our press releases and videos on Google Plus too and we get a lot of traction and traffic from doing that. That’s another way; I tell you, social search, if that makes sense, is the direction things are going.

David: You mentioned as far as what you do with your press releases. Maybe in the tail end if you can give us a little bit of an idea. Your company is and you do press releases and you’ve got videos embedded. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you guys do.

Rob: Yes, so essentially you send us a press release and we’re actually working on having that done by writers. I think that’s painful for most folks because they just don’t want to write the press release. So we’re going to offer that service also. We do things a little bit differently because we actually have two sections. We have a section where it goes out to your normal syndication like it would with PRWeb or whatever to basically news sites like Boston Globe and things like that and CNN.

We have a separate section where you can give us an extended summary that is in more natural language. It just sounded weird looking at our anchor person, she would read off a press release and it just sounded unnatural. Now it is written in a bit more natural language and it is basically a summary. So you can have that on there too.

Then we take that transcript and we have our anchor person read it and then we make a video. We have a little virtual newsroom, it looks a million dollars. We’ve got TV monitors in the back so it is like a virtual newsroom. A cool thing about that too is it pre vets you. Most press release companies, it’s people talking about their own work but now you have a video of someone who is an authority who is talking about you. So you get pre vetted. That is a bit of an advantage over some of the other PR companies too.

That gets posted, that goes out through normal syndication. We have a news network, we actually work with Dori. It’s basically a huge network of news sites that actually take that video and embed them on the news sites. Video embeds is a huge ranking factor so those videos are automatically embedded and then we post those on the YouTube channel and all these other video channels so that they rank.

We basically developed a system through an RSS feed that feeds out to all these other social media sites and then posts our press releases on the social media sites. We post the release on our Google Plus channels and twitter. I think we’ve got a 30,000 – 40,000 twitter following. We try to find as many journalists and news related folks that we can add to that count too. That way if they follow the news via twitter then they pick it up that way.

All the other social sites are Web 2.0 sites, Reddit and Digg and StumbleUpon and Pinterest. Pinterest is great. Pinterest is a hybrid – it’s like a Web 2.0, social viral type site. You can get a lot of traffic coming from Pinterest doing some marketing. It used to be if you had a link on Pinterest it was a no follow. But if you put a link in the description, Pinterest is like a PR6 link. I don’t know if that still good or not but it’s a cool little freebie PR6 link tip.

David: Cool. So is the place to go. You guys will help syndicate out press releases, turn them into videos, push them through your networks which are both social and you’ve got your own news sites. You push out to other people’s news sites as well. So it is a big network and ways to try and help get more eyeballs to press releases which I think is good. I know we chatted just briefly before the call and you mentioned about putting together something special for anyone who is listening to the podcast.

Rob. Yes. It’s funny, I think I should have let you describe it because I think you did a better job than I did. I live with it so much I just ramble about it because I’m so close to it. That’s actually a great description.

For you guys, I think it’s $297 a month now and you get four press releases a month. Anybody who joins, if you send us an email and mention this podcast, we’ll actually write you your first press release free. That way it saves the hassle of having to do the first one. It seems like for most people getting out the first press release is the hardest thing. So we’ll write it for you for free.

David: Very cool. I appreciate the offer, thank you for that. If you want to find out more about that, you can head over to Rob, the best place to go if people want to keep an eye on what you’re up to, I know you’ve got I’m not too sure how active you are on there. Is that the best place to keep an eye on what you’re up to?

Rob: It’s been a while. Or facebook, actually we’ve got Rob Burns on facebook. That’s usually where I’ll post whatever shenanigans I’ve been up to. I would say probably there. I haven’t done much on Rob Burns Brain for quite a while.

David: Alright, check him out on facebook. Maybe we’ll wrap up there Rob. You’ve been really generous with your time and also your knowledge, so much appreciated. I look forward to catching you over in Sacramento for Dori’s event.

Rob: Yes, absolutely, it’s going to be fun.

David: Cool. Alright we’ll talk to you soon.

Rob: Alright, ciao.

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