Episode 36: Finding Success Using SEO with Phil Singleton

Web designer and SEO expert Phil Singleton reveals his go-to SEO and marketing strategies for attracting visitors to your website and keeping them there longer.


Phil Singleton is a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant and two-time best-selling author who provides custom SEO-friendly websites and online marketing and search engine optimization services to small businesses across the country.
In a discussion with our podcast host Chris Davis, Phil explains why SEO and content should be in consideration from the very beginning of the website-building process for your business, and how he has supplemented his SEO strategy with ActiveCampaign forms to generate higher quality leads.
Find Phil online at:

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Chris Davis: Welcome to another episode of the ActiveCampaign Podcast. Today, I have [00:00:30] a guest that we are going to interview, that I get the pleasure to talk to and he is a web designer and an SEO expert as well as a winning author whose book has been featured many places that you all know of including Mashable, Entrepreneur, Oracle, The Huffington Post, and I wanted to bring him on not to only talk about his perspective on SEO because I find it very unique and holistic, but also how [00:01:00] he’s leveraging active campaign in his day to day as well as pushing the book sales and getting exposure for his book. So welcome to the podcast, Phil. How are you doin’?

Phil Singleton: I’m so psyched to be here and talk to you, and talk about our experience with one of my favorite tools.

Chris Davis: Yes, and everybody, if I hadn’t said his full name, it’s Phil Singleton. Phil, you are a SEO expert [00:01:30] with a very, very interesting approach to SEO. Before we get there, tell us a little bit about your background.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, it’s really weird to be called a SEO expert or any kind of technical expert because I went to school and got a degree in finance, and I ended up gettin’ an MBA, and I was … Not to give you a little bit of background or story about myself, I got a D in computer science in college, and barely made … Skated my way through that class.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Phil Singleton: In fact, I think for the final, I [00:02:00] actually, with my buddy there, we pretended like the computer was broken, so we didn’t even have to finish the final coding, so how did I get from going a D in computer science to actually having a thriving digital agency? It’s quite the journey. I got my first job outta school, I was with an insurance company and that just ended up being one of these soul crushing cubicle jobs where I saw these guys in insurance that had been there in my office 20 or 30 years [00:02:30] and it was just these corporate zombies. I was like, I can’t, I don’t think I can see myself doin’ this, but it’s weird when you’re young, because all of a sudden, you start gettin’ pulled down this path of making some money, it’s attractive, you do a little bit better financially every year, but just felt like my destiny was being pulled in a direction that wasn’t meant to be.

So what I ended up doing, is I packed up my bags, and I moved to Asia to study Mandarin Chinese. Totally threw my parents and my family for a loop, I think they thought that I lost my mind, but I just wanted something different, change the trajectory [00:03:00] of my career path. From there, I got … I studied Chinese, I went and got my MBA, I ended up gettin’ a job back at a school actually in Taipei, Taiwan, back in the dotcom era, and how I got into web design, the technical field is basically right place at the right time, a software company.

It almost fell into my lap, company that we had been doing some business for, had to move to Asia for a variety of different reasons and real quickly, I had to learn about software and how to run a company even though I wasn’t technical. But it [00:03:30] was at that time that I saw that the sales that were comin’ through this retail software business, a lot of it was being driven by Google. This is over 15 years ago or so, but it really woke me up, like jeez, we had these affiliate marketers back then that we were writing checks to $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a month that were just had the precursors, the blogs, or community forums and this kind of stuff.

I was like how is this happening? I saw that, even though at that time … Again this is going about 15 years ago or so, Google was driving a lot of those purchases. People were [00:04:00] searching for information, finding these websites, clicking affiliate links, and we were having to pay the big affiliates 50% of the sale basically. Of course, our 50% on the software side, we had investors, we had product support, all of a sudden our piece of that 50% got whittled down almost nothing. Here I saw these other guys who are probably workin’ an hour a day, if that, runnin’ their sites, we’re writing big checks and we were probably only one of their affiliates back then, so really woke me up.

That experience woke me up and we ended up selling that company, it was a nice pay [00:04:30] day, but I moved back to the States around 2005 and I started … Again, non technical at all, I went in self studied and said, “Hey you know what? I’m gonna try and start my own business.” I did my own first front page, Microsoft front page website on a barter deal for an auto detailer and I’ll never forget this. I’ll never forget this, I made his website, got him ranked in about 60 days, ’cause again, 2005’s not 2017, a lot easier back then, even if you had a little bit of SEO knowledge. But [00:05:00] he called me up on the phone and said, “Phil …” I could almost hear the tears of joy in his eye … Crying, and he was like, “Dude, you changed my business, you’ve changed my life,” and I think it was at that time I was like …

First of all it was the most rewarding thing I’d ever done career wise to hear somebody say that. Jeez, that’s been … Secondly, I was like oh man, I can actually … Not only is this the most rewarding thing that’s ever happen to me from a business perspective, I think I can make money off of this. So from getting a D in computer science, rolling my way through Asia [00:05:30] doing one front page website in 2005, now we’ve done literally hundreds, well over a thousand custom websites I think, and we’ve got dozens and dozens of SEO clients and it just rolled into a business.

Again, I’m coming from a non technical background. I had to learn this stuff from the outside in. I know we were talkin’ before the show where you have a little bit more of a technical background. But I had to learn this stuff from the outside in, so my theory is some of this stuff … If I can do it, I think anybody can do it pretty much. [inaudible 00:05:58] That [00:06:00] was a mouthful, but I get people’s perspective. I’m not the type of guy that … Some of these guys, in the younger generation, they’re growin’ up already digital natives, right? But there’s some of us that have to still pick this up a little bit later in life, and it’s not that scary if you take action on it.

Chris Davis: Yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing, and you can see it clearly as a theme in your life, is your willingness to take action even though it doesn’t make sense to the people around you, it may not even make sense to yourself, [00:06:30] right?

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

Chris Davis: But going past that and taking action and you see, when you do it, you find yourself in positions to take advantage of opportunities that would not have presented themselves had you not.

Phil Singleton: Well said.

Chris Davis: So here you go, you’re in Asia, you get the opportunity to work with this company, you get some experience, you move back to the States with the experience, and you just start goin’, right? It was … I know it was overwhelming, and I know like you said, you probably licked that other people doing [00:07:00] other things, but I commend you on your ability to just block out everything else and really focus in. Now, granted back then the internet was not as busy as it is now, but still we had other things, there’s always something to occupy your time and your focus.

So along the line, you started out seeing the value of SEO, right? In the very beginning, and now come 10 years later, what have you seen as far as the shift in SEO and people’s [00:07:30] misinterpretation of that shift or approach to it?

Phil Singleton: Great question. So one of the things that drew me to SEO in the beginning was that I basically almost have a introverted personality by nature. So I like to talk, I like to meet the people, but for me, it’s draining to go out and give presentations or do sales pitches, it’s just part of the way I’m wired type of thing. For SEO, it’s really cool in the early days, ’cause you could literally not have to do much of putting yourself out there in terms of getting sales or getting clients and that kind of stuff, [00:08:00] or getting a result. For the longest time for SEOs, for at least in terms of Google visibility, a lot of what drove it were things that you were doing on your website to the content, perhaps under the hood a little bit, or doing things off the website that were more maybe volume based back link things.

But the main point of it is you could have your clients write you a check and with minimal conversations or meetings kind of stuff, you can help move the dial without really putting yourself out there and that’s what drove Google and [00:08:30] SEOs for a long time, right? Was on page optimization, tweaks, and a lot of off page volume link building. Getting third party link build links to link back to your websites, that’s what drove the SEO industry for years. Now about five or six years ago, Google saw that this cat and mouse game was really startin’ to work it’s way into the mainstream and you had companies like JC Penny, and Ebay, and Overstock.com, start to really take some of these gray hat, black hat actions to try and manipulate the results.

Well, [00:09:00] the end result was they came back and instead of trying to only take the best of your SEO efforts to actually start to alter their algorithms to be more punitive in nature. So if you were doing things that they considered prohibited, they actually started to penalize your website, so that was a seismic shift in SEO because all of sudden, now you could be doing things, and finding yourself, instead of just not … Used to be with SEO, you just threw a bunch of stuff against the wall and Google counted what stuck, then they changed and said, ” [00:09:30] Hey, you know what? The stuff that falls to the ground, we’re actually gonna penalize you for that,” and change behavior, change the way I think a lot of people started to think about SEO. It brought a lot of the offshore stuff where people were trying to get people to build shill websites, shill links, and really try and work the system.

It brought it back on shore, made it more consulting based, but one of the things that really happened that I’m really excited about, and has made a big change in SEO in general, is Google got really good at being able to reach out into the internet and find a bunch [00:10:00] of different factors. Instead of just so heavily weighted on the website and the way it was coded in the content and the keywords on it, and the back links, they started looking at your reputation, they started lookin’ at your social media, you social media signals, and you’re blogging at how you’re gettin’ that in the engagement and that kind of stuff. So you start to break out the pieces of what they’re starting to grade people on. It starts to look a lot like just marketing, or digital marketing anyway, right? That’s how it’s really changed, I think that’s what’s become really exciting.

Of course, what [00:10:30] that means is for websites, is websites have become much more important. They become marketing platforms, right? Not just digital brochures. I still think they’re pitched that way, and people still feel burned because they still buy websites at digital brochures, but the reality is that has to be your marketing platform, it has to be the referral base for all of your content, ’cause you never wanna put your best content out on somebody else’s platform without some kind of digital trail back to your site, right? Where you can start the marketing automation process, or you can tag [00:11:00] them, you can start to re-market to them.

I think the websites have really become super important, and the base of all marketing right now. Again, I think that a lot of this is Google driven, or there’s a Google aspect to it, and I certainly think that if you start to think of your marketing strategy and the tactics, if you look at it the way that Google is starting to grade cont … Websites and give … Award visibility, it’s a great way [00:11:30] to think about it in terms of how to glue all of your tactics and strategies together into your website so that you get multiple wins, instead of these one dimensional things that people end up doing for their marketing. A mouthful there, sorry man.

Chris Davis: No-

Phil Singleton: That’s how …

Chris Davis: Keep it comin’. This is all for the listeners, I want them to glean from your expertise, and what … Oh my goodness, Phil. You said something … You … Like you said, that was a mouthful, and there are so many nuggets all over [00:12:00] the place. What I heard was you never want to be publishing content on someone else’s platform without a trail back to your website. This … Now that you position it and help us understand that Google is actually penalizing you nowadays for doing things wrong. It’s critical to understand how to do things right.

If your website … If we’re gonna move and shift [00:12:30] our thinking from I need a website to show people I exist, right? I need a website to look good, to my website is my marketing platform and I treat it as such. Therefore, Google has no problem understanding who’s coming to my website, how valuable my content is, and thus positioning Google to be able to display me as a top search result more frequently. But that comes from looking at your website holistically, right? [00:13:00] Understanding this is my marketing hub, there’s nothing wrong with publishing a video to YouTube, but just make sure it exists on your website as well, right?

Phil Singleton: Well yeah, this is the biggest thing that we see. I’m talkin’ small, medium sized businesses, and what you see is a lot of times people still treat ’em as static websites they … They end up putting their best content up on some place like say Facebook and Fa … To me, the social media is great, it’s just a part of where you have to be, but it’s almost like a river [00:13:30] and the content just passes through and it’s gone unless you repost it. You see people puttin’ their best content up in there without having forcing people or incentivizing them back to the site, right? We’re it’s so natural and it doesn’t take much more effort to take, put that content, place it on your website, and share that link into social media, where to see the rest of it, they have to come back. It doesn’t take you anymore effort. In fact, it’s almost the same action, but you get so much more benefit of it.

Then now … ‘Cause I look at social media as [00:14:00] realtime and I look at your website in terms of almost historical. But when it’s on your website, you get a much better chance of that great content becoming a solution or an answer to somebody’s problem, than you do by leaving it up on a third party social media platform. So getting people to think about it this way … Believe … Obviously the groups that you’re talking to, and a lot of people that are already in ActiveCampaign, are already obvious get it. But I’ll tell you what, man, there’s tons and tons and tons of small, medium size businesses out there [00:14:30] that don’t. They still treat marketing, and you know this already, as the tactical hip shoot, right?

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: They try one thing, one dimensional, like, “Oh we’re not gettin’ enough leads, let’s try social media, let’s try ad words, let’s try SEO, let’s work on our website,” but they’re not thinkin’ about the whole thing holistically or strategically. That’s what it really all comes back to and at the end of the day, man, it’s your website, right? That’s where everything, that’s where your body of work is.

Chris Davis: Yup, that’s the hub. It’s a sin. It should be a cardinal sin in the digital marketing [00:15:00] age to have your best content on a platform that you don’t own, not just from the perspective of that platform can do whatever they wanted at any time, right?

Phil Singleton: Right.

Chris Davis: They can market as inappropriate and it’s gone. It’s gone and you cannot recover it. They could shutdown your account. This happens more times than people realize, but even without that, say you’re oblivious to that, just the added benefits, the … What you get in return for doing things the [00:15:30] right way, and Phil, I just think that it’s a lack of education around just how websites and marketing work, right? People just don’t know-

Phil Singleton: Agreed.

Chris Davis: Hol … To treat their website as a hub and every single piece that they publish should exist there. I’ll share a quick story. I had this epiphany that you were talkin’ about maybe a year or two ago, and I looked … I was scrollin’ on Facebook, and there’s a few of my statuses, I was like, “Wow, that was really good.” [00:16:00] Right? I’m goin’ back, and I realized, if you’re not my friend or if you’re not connected, or if you weren’t present at the one snap shot in time where I posted that status, you didn’t see it. It was invisible to you. I went through this exercise, Phil. I went through all of my statuses, put ’em in a text file, and put ’em as blog posts on my personal site.

Phil Singleton: Nice.

Chris Davis: Right? It was like, you know what? Regardless of Facebook goes down, Twitter goes down, whatever, I now have this, and now Google [00:16:30] knows it exists. Google’s gonna index it, and as I continue to create more content around it, using email to bring people back to it, landing pages, and nurture that way, and web tracking, all of that is gonna help in this whole experience, website experience, and you … Now Phil, you’re one of a very select group of duct tape marketers, right?

Phil Singleton: Exactly. Pretty interesting how this came about because I mentioned how we saw that [00:17:00] Google, and to get results anymore a few years ago was … I had my … For a while admittedly, I had my SEO tactical blinders on where … But I saw that Google was starting to branch out and look at the broader marketing landscape and I was like, jeez, I need a little bit of help here because I’ve been so focused on … I came from business and finance, I learned a little bit about Google, but I’ve really been so focused on this one area.

I don’t have a lot of general marketing background, so I had this book Duct Tape Marketing referred to me by [00:17:30] actual clients, probably three or four times. I think by the fourth time, I was like I gotta read this because too many people have been mentioned it to me. I read it, and I was like holy cow! The way that John does his marketing in terms of finding the ideal client, and reverse engineering marketing around the ideal client, it’s pretty much how I’ve been doing web design the whole time. Our approach to web design is we try and figure out what the search activity is and try and let the search activity determine the content on the website and build it that way from the ground up, versus letting [00:18:00] design drive the whole process or letting our own messaging, so we’re trying to let the search activity define how we should structure the website.

It’s very similar, so I was like wow, bang. That happened, I got pulled into his group, I ended up becoming a Duct Tape Marketing certified consultant. I think there were 30 or 40 of us at the time when I joined about three or four years ago, now there’s 120 of us, really interesting group because there’s several people in there that have lots of clients like I do. We’ve got dozens and dozens of local clients here, but there’s other ones that are just gettin’ started and have a few clients.

[00:18:30] But what’s really brilliant about this group is that we all know how this software’s a service landscape is … There’s just more and more solutions out there, and there’s no way a single boutique agency can go out and test the next greatest thing, right? But when you’ve got a group of 120 of us that can go out and vet these things as they come and provide real feedback. There’s an immense amount of power in being able to have somebody that you trust say that this is a winner here, let’s use it, right? ‘Cause that enables us to filter things and stay [00:19:00] at the cutting edge while not having to invest in these things and constantly try things out because the way it works right now, it’s just way too many, there’s no way one person can go out and test all these great new mar-tech things that are comin’ out, it would just be impossible.

So life saver for me, and great because I’ve been able to pin point the really, really important tools that provide a big bang for the buck for my own business and for my clients. I think as we were talking, one of the things that … Conclusions that we’ve come to as a group and myself is that ActiveCampaign is one of these fundamental [00:19:30] tools I think that provide a huge bang for the buck. Really right out of the gate, and we can get into this a little bit later for me, where somebody just using it lightly in the beginning, maybe more for maybe some of the email stuff. It’s a great tool, just even if you were to stop there, it’s well worth the money, but then you dig into it, and see what the other guys are doin’, holy cow, is there a lot of stuff in there, so very exciting that way.

Chris Davis: Yeah, and I love … I’ve gotta rewind, Phil, ’cause I think you’re just so use to it. Knowledge just flows out of you, and it’s [00:20:00] just so common but I have … I just have to point this out, you said it just so quickly, and it was the fact that their approach was using search traffic to dictate web design. That is-

Phil Singleton: That’s my … That’s exactly it.

Chris Davis: Oh my … That is so huge. Everybody listening, if you don’t … For one, if you don’t have Google analytics on your website, get it installed right now, and you need to do exactly what Phil say … He [00:20:30] just gave you a really big nugget, and that is look at the pages, look at the flow of your website, see what people are visiting. They are telling you what they want from you. So your web design better be conducive to what people are actively and historically searching for on your website. Oh thank you, thank you for [crosstalk 00:20:57]-

Phil Singleton: This is … Well that’s what my number one … Really that’s [00:21:00] how we come in and are able to one, sell websites that add a lot more value, so we’re able to charge more because they end up generating more leads, but it becomes really … It’s not that hard, if you think about the web design process in terms of …

Again, stepping back and saying, let’s figure out, get our head around the business first, figure out how the people search for it, and then you can figure out what content do I really need to have on the website? How are people searching for stuff? ‘Cause if you know the search, you can actually determine, okay, well if a certain [00:21:30] vertical, or there’s a certain bucket of search … Trying to do a search before, we need a page for this. We need … I need a blog post for this, we might need a blog series for this, right? Versus just … ‘Cause anymore, you can’t treat inbound marketing and the internet like you would a brochure where you’ve got a captive audience. It’s the opposite.

People are searching for stuff, you gotta know where the fish are biting, what they’re biting on, where they’re biting on … What they’re biting on, and put it on the website. Otherwise, you’re just … You’re gonna lose an opportunity and that’s the way we do it. We build websites [00:22:00] around the ideal client, and the search activity, not necessarily what we want to say to them, and that’s a totally different mentality than if you were to go do a presentation to a group of people, or if you were gonna design a brochure, ’cause you got a captive audience. You can say whatever you want there, right?

Chris Davis: Yup.

Phil Singleton: But you really have to think about the wording and the topics when you’re trying to attract people that are … Then there’s already a demand out there, right? I did skip over that and that’s really … That’s too bad that I didn’t expand on a little bit more. But [00:22:30] thank you for pickin’ that up. The whole book that we wrote, SEO for Growth, is about that process. It’s hey, don’t just go out and just … You don’t go build a website and do SEO on it later, you bring SEO and content at the very beginning of it and start thinking about that first, then you build it around that. That’s the biggest mistake I think in web design today, is people think about the important things way after the fact when they could … They have a great opportunity to build stuff from the ground up. If they thought about this stuff and done the research.

Chris Davis: Yeah, now they’re reactive and [00:23:00] in speaking to your SEO for Growth, which by the way everybody, is a best seller, you have a really interesting way of using ActiveCampaign to push sales for this book and raise awareness. You’re using multi-site, like WordPress multi-site and I think you said, you have up to 17 sites now?

Phil Singleton: Yeah, so I think what we did … I think anytime that you do a piece of content now, you’re always lookin’ for multiple win-wins, right? We created this book, but the idea wasn’t to try and launch a book, have a best seller, and make a bunch [00:23:30] of money off the book, ’cause that’s not really how books work anymore. So the book, I guess I would say, the book itself wasn’t the end goal, it was more to be a launching pad.

What were we trying to launch? Well we’re trying to launch a system where we could have courses, but more importantly where we could actually license out the kind of system that John uses for marketing and the one that I’ve used to grow my business here in the Kansas City area. What we’ve done is we’ve created the book website at SEOforGrowth.com, but we built it on the WordPress multi- [00:24:00] site platform that enables us to clone child sites on the same backend. The reason we did that is so that we could build … Use the same template and form a website that we did in Word Press and use that to build city sites in metro areas around the country.

Right now, if you were to search St. Louis SEO, you would see our St. Louis SEO for Growth site come up number one in the maps, and number one organically for that city. Great the licensing there [00:24:30] that we have is able to now get leads for SEO into his business under the SEO for Growth brand.

Chris Davis: Wonderful.

Phil Singleton: We’ve done it in Atlanta, we’ve done it in Denver, we’ve done it in Las Vegas. I think we’re up to 17, maybe 18 cities nationwide, we had two in Canada right now. We actually stopped at 15 and two more people came in because well, we got Atlanta and St. Louis up pretty quickly, the other 15 just came in the last two months and we’re trying to get those out. So how did ActiveCampaign come in to the … It was the perfect choice [00:25:00] to be able to come in and create these site-lets, right? Be able to put the tracking forms on the website and be able to do these quickly really, ’cause when we set these site-lets up, there’s actually a lot of work involved, so the ability for each licensing to have their own trackable form on their site-let, was invaluable to John and I, who are basically trying to control this whole network, right? ‘Cause now on the single backend, I can go in and I can see when people come in and when they’re [00:25:30] filling out the forms to a certain site-let, right?

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Which forms are being activated, which lists are filling up? So it’s really become one of these things where it’s … There are a few tools that you have that you check every day. But ActiveCampaign’s one of those where it’s been able for us to see the whole network of people and the activity that we’re getting and the type of leads that we’re getting in on a daily basis and just be able to see that. The other thing, it’s really easy for us to quickly add … ‘Cause the whole purpose of this thing is lead generation, right?

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: [00:26:00] For us, so it’s really important to us to have these unique forms and be able to put ’em up quickly in a variety of different formats on these independent child sites that we’ve built. Then they get into it, and we start doing it, and I see how other folks are … ‘Cause a lot of the guys that are in SEO for Growth network, a lot of ’em are also Duct Tape members and a few of them are also, I would consider power users for ActiveCampaign. Now all of a sudden, they’re bringing us some other things that they’ve been doing for their clients and their own business [00:26:30] that we’re gonna use to enhance the whole SEO for Growth network experience. So it’s been …It’s just been one of those things where it’s been … It’s really part of the core tools that we’re using and it’s just part of the system now.

Chris Davis: Yeah, and what I love about your example is that though you have some power users, and we all know, they … We’ve had a lot of power users on the podcast, but there’s also these users that find functions that may be simple, are just often overlooked, like oh yeah, there’s a form, or oh yeah, custom [00:27:00] fields, or oh yeah, it’s a tag. Then when I get somebody like yourself on, it’s like look at how we’re using this one feature to track-

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

Chris Davis: Leads across 17 cities and combine all of that information into one place that’s actionable and analytical.

Phil Singleton: The thing that was really blew my mind for us was the fact that they put this stuff up, and we started building the site-lets out, I needed to have somethin’ that was … I was [00:27:30] obviously fairly technical, I totally don’t have a technical background, but 12 years of doing this has made me more technical than the other guy probably realize, but still you get into a new thing and you have to realize there’s always some kind of learning curve. But there was almost no learning curve to getting the forms up and creating the list, getting the forms, dropping the code to the website.

It wasn’t like I had to go out, wasn’t like I had to ask for support, able to figure it out within … I wanna say minute, but less than an hour, I was able to [00:28:00] drop this stuff in, which is real important. We again, we’ve evaluated lots of different types of tools, and it’s not always that easy to be able to put something and implement it and get it rolling really quickly. That’s one of the things I think we were talkin’ about before, just for us, the … Just this one feature, if it didn’t have anything else, and I know there’s lots of other things that it’s doing … We barely scratch the surface and I realized that because I dug around, but if it stopped what we’re using it for, it would be super bang for the buck, right? So I’m so excited that we can actually do a lot more [00:28:30] with it, in terms of the automation piece of it, but yeah, it’s been wonderful.

Chris Davis: Yeah, you know what? Your approach speaks to your maturity in business, and that’s really understanding what you wanted to do, and then once you have that, you’re more … It’s easier for you to go into a platform and get what you need out of it, right? You all knew, hey, look we’ve got … WordPress is gonna allow us to clone these sites. Given our SEO knowledge, it’s easier to rank for local terms than trying to [00:29:00] rank national for one big term.

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

Chris Davis: So let’s set up these local sites, rank them, use our strategies to rank for them, but now that I have these sites up, or a way to do this, we need a way to quickly capture this information. Since you had a strategy and model in place, you just needed a tool to make it easy for implementation, and I speak to this all the time, Phil, because we get comparisons to other competitors and everything else, and sometimes a competitors’ [00:29:30] feature list is long, right? Just a long scroll and just wow, those are a lot of features, but if they’re not usable and easy to implement, they may as well not exist.

Phil Singleton: So true.

Chris Davis: If you can’t go … So somebody like you, you knew exactly what you wanted to do. If you can’t get into the platform and do it easily, who cares how many features are there.

Phil Singleton: Right. Course again, I was lucky ’cause I had it vetted, so [00:30:00] anymore, it’s like gosh, if you try a new solution, you pick one, you do your research, you come in, you try, it looks good, and then … But it’s not always what you see is what you get. So you go and you spend a bunch of time, but that’s for a busy agency person. That’s really, really important lost time, and it gets very expensive in terms of the time you put into stuff. But you’re right. Know what you want to do, and having that idea in your head was … [00:30:30] I was so focused here and of course I had some great references, and I knew people that were just like this was the one.

For me, I felt really low risk, but it’s still, once you jump in, you gotta realize is it really well, they’re saying, am I gonna understand it? It was every bit as easy to get in and understand. The coolest thing about it is a lot of these things like you say you get into, you need the help, you need some kind of onboarding process. But in this case, like I said, literally logged in, and I think I had my first form up in [00:31:00] 30 minutes, and I was like this is it.

Chris Davis: Right. Everybody, so all the listeners, I would like to invite you to take a page out of Phil’s book of approaching ActiveCampaign for quick and early success and that is identify the one thing that you can do right now to get success, to get your first quick win. Trust me, you’ll have time to build out and go deeper, and deeper, but listen to Phil. He’s got 17 [00:31:30] sites, an agency, and they’re using some really … Some of our, what most people call our basic features, and they’re using it effectively, seeing results.

There’s nothing greater than getting results for yourself. Stop listening to everybody else’s and in saying, “Well they got it, so I should be able to do it.” Don’t … Do not take that approach. Go in there, figure out okay, if it’s just a form, and an auto respond to sequence, so be it. If it’s web tracking, [00:32:00] if it’s valuable for you to just see what web pages people are visiting so you can identify when to call them, so be it. But identify what that need is for your business, so you can get that quick win with ActiveCampaign and just know you can grow into all of the other features and all of the other things that we have to offer.

Phil Singleton: Well said.

Chris Davis: Yeah, so I’m really excited about what you’re doing, Phil. The book, the group, [00:32:30] you mentioned your learning more and more about ActiveCampaign daily. I enjoy thoroughly you helping the listeners and myself understand SEO holistically. Okay?

Phil Singleton: Thank you so much for the time.

Chris Davis: Yeah, no problem. So Phil, what do you have on your radar for the upcoming … For your agency?

Phil Singleton: Well the … My home base is KCWebdesigner.com, right? That’s really where we started and still my bread and [00:33:00] butter, but you can’t really scale a local agency like this. That’s where SEO for Growth came in as a way to share my knowledge and be able to expand and still share in some of the upside of it by licensing out to other agencies around the country with the model that we know that works. ‘Cause it’s like one of these things where people say they know SEO or web design, but literally if you type in Kansas City Web Design, we come up several times in on the first page. If you type in Kansas City SEO, same thing, so we practice what we preach and got a lot of proof on that. [00:33:30] But that’s really what a big focus is continuing to grow our local agency, really getting … I’m really excited about growing the SEO for Growth network out ’cause by the end of this year, we’re gonna announce that to the rest of the world, instead of having 17, maybe we’ll have 170 next year.

Chris Davis: Great.

Phil Singleton: But we went from an alpha stage, to a beta stage with a larger group. Then once we get these guys up and running and ranked, we’re gonna offer it to the rest of the world type of a thing. I’ll tell you one other thing that we’re doin’ that I wouldn’t mind mentioning if you don’t mind, is I just started doin’ this podcasting [00:34:00] stuff about two or three months ago, and I think it’s been one of the most phenomenal, highest bang for the buck pieces of content marketing that I’ve even done in 12 years.

The reason I say that is because the nature of being able to go out, present your body of work to somebody, share it up on their platform, a lot of times what ends up happening is you get show notes, or transcribed up on a high authority website, you get resource links back to the resources that you mentioned, [00:34:30] they share it in their social media channel. All of a sudden, you’re creating all these things that we’re talking about that work for SEO, and then the guest does the same thing, right? They’re proud to be on the production value up there. They’re proud to be up on the website, they go introduce it to their network. All of a sudden, you’re creating … But there’s so many organic things that happen out of it because you’re getting great content out there. The podcast in and of themselves are … I didn’t realize how awesome they were in terms of the dwell time that you get on the sites because video, you start gettin’ tired [00:35:00] on a video about 60, 120 seconds, because it commands all of your senses, so I still think video is really important, and needed-

Chris Davis: That’s a good point, yeah. That’s a good point.

Phil Singleton: But with a podcast, you can do other things. You’ll stay on a website and click out of it. So what it really does for a website, especially if there’s a show notes page or something, if somebody ends up clicking on it, they end up staying on the page a lot longer. Now, Google is been known to start looking at thing, and the engagement signals like dwell time. So if you get one person [00:35:30] to stay on your website for 30 minutes, super strong signal for the entire website, right? ‘Cause you got somebody that actually stay on that page for a long time, and a pod cast is gonna do that more than a video in most cases because people just can’t … You can’t command everybody’s senses for that like you can with a podcast and things.

Chris Davis: You’re right.

Phil Singleton: I’ve gotten so into it that we’ve, John and I, actually have created a sub business off of SEO for Growth called PodcastBookers.com. We’re actually trying to help folks that are in this mid range get booked [00:36:00] on other podcast to try and increase their authority, increase their reach, show their body of work and that kind of stuff. Course, it’s hard to get people like that on upper tier podcasts like consider oh, the ActiveCampaign one, but as hot as podcasting is right now, there’s lots of mid level guys out there that are trying … For them it’s a challenge to get guests. People wanna get book, so there’s just mid tier, newer website thing, where you can do some matchmaking with people in digital agencies to try and get them … Cross leverage people, [00:36:30] social media channels, and that kind of stuff so you can create multiple win-wins on that.

So what you ask what we’re doin’? Well PodcastBookers.com is another thing that’s on the horizon, but it all ties back to … I’ll tell you it’s funny, it all ties back to me, it all ties back to a D in college, a front page website, and a local SEO … A local webdesign agency that’s now branched off into books and trying to spread our wings, make our network out with more services and more stuff around the country.

Chris Davis: I love the continual casting [00:37:00] of vision. I love it. I love to see it, and again, Phil, just focusing … It’s in you, it’s in your blood, the SEO knowledge, man. It’s just oozing out and a lot of people have no clue how to increase people staying on their website. That’s what everybody … That’s what he means by dwell time, how long are people on your site, and I will admit, man, I have been those … That person that has an audio playing in the background and I just switch to another tab and I’m doin’ something else [00:37:30] while the audio is playing. I never even realized it until you said that. That counts as dwell time on that website. Now, everybody, you have that as yet another strategy. Thank Phil for all of these ’cause he dropped them all so freely, so again, that is PodcastBookers.com, right?

Phil Singleton: That’s the one that we started to try and offer some of the services. Again, that is almost serendipitously found. It was one of those things where I was like jeez, I didn’t realize … ‘Cause you know [00:38:00] what ends up happening is a lot of people are into this guest blog posting stuff, where you’re trying to get a 1,500 word blog post posted … Oh that’s a lot of work, man. Bloggin’s your best content, trying to pitch it to other places, but you get on a podcast, you spend 40 minutes, 20 minutes with somebody, giving your best up, bringing your A game, all of a sudden, that’s it. You’re done, you know what I mean? So being a guest is actually a lot less work than actually being a host, but if you’ve got the right opportunity and I think packaged yourself well enough and have a story to tell somebody, there’s all sorts of podcasts [00:38:30] out there that would love to hear it as long as you can bring value to their audience. Yeah, it’s just one of those things.

Chris Davis: Great. So everybody … These will all be in the show notes, PodcastBookers.com, and SEOforGrowth.com.

Phil Singleton: Awesome.

Chris Davis: Again, this is Phil Singleton. If you’re looking, SEOforGrowth.com, PodcastBookers.com, you can connect with Phil, get his book. If you liked all of what he’s talking about, or any portion of it, I highly recommend, grab it. [00:39:00] There’s not enough knowledge around accurately and effectively building your websites. So that’s why I was excited to have Phil-

Phil Singleton: Check out, we got the KCWebdesigner.com is where we all started it from a little … We’re a seven digit agency here in Kansas City. It all started again from a small front page stuff. So I think if I can do it, anybody can do it. I love connecting with people on LinkedIn, so anybody … That’s my place to be. I’m not a big Facebook person, [crosstalk 00:39:28] life up there, but I put my best stuff up on there, [00:39:30] so if anybody wants to contact or connect there, that’s my favorite area.

Chris Davis: Great. So all those notes will be … All of those links will be in the show notes. Phil, thank you so much for your time and appearing as a guest on the ActiveCampaign Podcast. Can’t express how much I appreciate it, and have a good one, man.

Phil Singleton: This was a ton of fun. Thank you so much for having me on your show, Chris.

Chris Davis: Yup, no problem.

Thank you for listening to this episode of the ActiveCampaign Podcast [00:40:00] where I got to sit down with Phil Singleton. Did you not enjoy the SEO knowledge that he put on display? I tell you, if you built a website in the last decade, you need to make sure that you’ve listen to this, slow it down if you need to, rewind. Because there are a lot of things that Phil mentioned, he was … He put a lot into this podcast and they are things that I’ve seen time and time again, business owners make [00:40:30] online that loses them money, and I’m not talkin’ about hundreds, or thousands, I’m talking about tens of thousands of dollars. So it’s extremely critical to comprehend this holistic approach at how Google, the king of content, okay? How they’re value, evaluating your web asset as far as your website, which is your marketing hub. Again, thank you Phil Singleton for the knowledge that you [00:41:00] shared.

If this is your first time on the ActiveCampaign Podcast, I’d love to invite you to subscribe so that you can be notified the minute a new episode comes out, we launch theses every Friday, we’re available in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radios, SoundCloud, use your iPhone, your Android, your desktop, your tablet, whatever you do, just make sure you’re subscribed.

For those of you who are subscribed, we appreciate your continual support. If you could just leave us a five star rating in which ever device [00:41:30] you’re using, or whichever marketplace that you’re subscribed to, leave us a five star review, leave us some comments. Let us know how we’re doing and thank you all who have done so, and the feedback that you’re giving me. It … I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you listeners, who listen and say, “Hey, you should try this.” Or “Hey, this was great,” or “Hey, look out for this.” It’s all accepted with open arms and open ears.

Lastly, but definitely, definitely not least, ActiveCampaign.com/learn [00:42:00] is where you can find the education center with all of the guided content with … About marketing automation and ActiveCampaign. If you’re stuck at any point in your venture, in any … Your venture, your journey with ActiveCampaign and growing your business, resources are available there. If you wanna talk to somebody one on one, we have that as well, ActiveCampaign.com/training. ActiveCampaign.com/podcast is where you can listen to all of these podcasts on demand, like Phil mentioned [00:42:30] in another browser, just have the audio play, pull up another tab and continue to work. This is the ActiveCampaign Podcast, the small business podcast, to help you scale and propel your business with marketing automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.