Growth Hacking Interview Series #43: Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is an internet marketer by profession, and have been self-employed for over 5 years.
Past accomplishments include US Navy veteran of the USS Boxer also studied Computer Science at McCann School of Business in Pottsville, PA. (from about).
What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?
I love this industry. I love making websites, optimizing them, buying traffic, and so much more. Answering this question is really difficult because I really take a holistic strategy to delivering results.
SEO is definitely my pick. It isn’t always the right choice for customers, in fact many times I will tell paying customers that it isn’t the way to go.
There is no better feeling than when a client calls us up and tells us that not only do they see themselves ranking, but their phone has been ringing all month.
It is one thing to do this with paid advertising, but with SEO it really feels like magic sometimes.
What type of links do you believe are the best links to get?
Without a doubt my favorite types of links to see are in-content, editorial and keyword rich links. That is not to say I think all links should be keyword rich but they generally still deliver the best results.
Obviously links from websites with lots of authority are my personal favorite. But don’t rule out other type of links like those placed in forum messages.
Forums get tons of traffic and while the sheer value of the backlink might not be that great from an SEO perspective.
Relevancy is also a huge factor. It is always better to get a backlink from a website that is similar to yours.
What SEO Tools do you have experience with and which ones do you prefer and why?
Funny, when I first got started in SEO most of the tools I used were Windows desktop based. Cloud apps were on the market at the time but not like now. Here are my go-to favorite SEO tools:
- Ahrefs – I use Ahrefs because I feel it has the best backlink index. I really don’t mess with too many features other than that.
- Scrapebox – I use Scrapebox for managing huge lists of domains / emails, scraping websites, and so much more.
- Screaming Frog – Over the past year or so this tool has really moved into my “top 5” for sure. I love this tool for doing audits, competitor research and so much more.
- Xenu – Awesome tool for technical SEO. What I like the most about this tool is how thorough it is.
- Notepad++ – Once you get proficient with things like Macros and regex (for find/replace) you can get a lot of work done with very few keystrokes
- The Linux command line – If you know your way around the server there is a lot you can do from here. The first thing I do when I work with a new site is checkout the server. I’m looking at their hierarchical structure, files, settings logs and so much more.
What kind of “white hat link building strategy that scales” that you recommend?(What makes it your favorite one? How to execute it properly?)
I know this might sound cliché but writing great pieces of content is so scalable and truly delivers amazing results.
For new or established websites, a solid content marketing strategy can truly deliver some amazing results.
When I first got started in SEO, it was all about volume for me, I would publish as often as possible.
Nowadays I’ll spend days or even weeks on 1 piece of content for my clients sometimes. This is not my only strategy, but it is currently my favorite one.
Also when I say “content” I don’t necessarily mean an article or blog post. I’ve published tables that bring in 25% of a sites visitors.
Think about what your visitors truly want, and give it to them in a beautiful way.
How do you scale this favorite white hat strategy of yours?
SEO is 20% skill, 80% logistics.
For me, scaling strategies within an agency content is all about aligning myself with talented people. This means always being on the lookout for new hires, even when we aren’t hiring.
What is more important: Onsite blogging or content marketing?
I’d definitely say content marketing. On-site blogging can definitely play a huge role in content marketing but it isn’t enough most of the time.
Content marketing most of the time is essentially just blogging with a tight integration with social media.
On the same token, for me personally on-site blogging has brought so many good things to me personally. It can really legitimize your brand and bring your customers closer to your company.
It is a great way to connect personally with your customers.
What is more important; rankings or converting traffic?
Really tough question because they are both vital to the success of most websites. Organic search is really my niche, but I also utilize a number of other traffic sources for my clients.
Converting traffic to paying customers can be a real challenge for most visitors.
I was analyzing a new client last week that received over 200 visits to their about us page. Over 90% of those visitors left their website.
To me that problem was highlighted in red as a “major issue.” It takes many different skill-sets to drive traffic and convert that traffic into a lead, and converting that lead into a customer.
So to answer your question, converting traffic is the most important to me.
Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you’ve encountered?
Definitely the Penguin update. Most of our customers come through our door having worked with other SEO companies in the past.
This makes it really difficult for us being that most of these companies employed some sort of blackhat link building strategy in the past. We don’t want to get penalized for someone else’s shoddy work.
I also have my eye on the doorway page update that is supposedly launching soon. So many of our customers are using some form of “city pages” as a landing page.
No one really knows how intense this algorithm update is going to be, so I definitely have my eye on this and am strategizing with my team to minimize any risk.
What is the most important stage of SEO for you and why? According to other SEO’s each SEO campaign has stages from where to start and how to start it, my apologies if the question is a bit fuzzy but just to rephrase it, if SEO is about stages (ex: on-page audit, off-page audit, link building, content creation, on-page SEO, etc.) what do you think should be given more importance by an SEO given the current Google Algorithm updates?
I’d definitely say building out a website, so on-page optimization. We put so much time and emphasis optimizing a website including:
- Sitemap / site structure
- Recommended SEO such as headings, rich text, title tags, meta description
- Optimizing the website for speed
- Schema markup / structured data
- Mobile friendliness
Sometimes we’ll spend a month or even two months working on a websites on-page before we even think about doing off-age.
I think backlinks are still extremely important as an SEO strategy, but if your site sucks Google is ultimately going to hate you.
If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.
It would be easy to say someone like Rand Fishkin or Neil Patel, but for me it is a gentleman named Abhi or sometimes referred to as “Bloghue.”
I’ve known Abhi now for at least 5 years and time after time, he has impressed me with his wide range of knowledge.
When I am in a jam, he is always the guy that I’m Skyping with at 3am.
From eCommerce development to conversion rate optimization to network administration to SEO this gentleman is truly a guru in every sense of the word.
It’s funny because most of the self-proclaimed gurus with flashy websites and affiliate links are a lot of times not that impressive once you start talking to them.
It is always people like Abhi who are very humble and quietly banking that are the most impressive.