Kenneth Roberts is a website investor and entrepreneur that works with the top SEOs in the world to acquire and scale seven figure online businesses. In the last two years he has personally acquired five online businesses with successful exits to Wired Investors and Empire Flippers. Supremacy SEO dubbed him “The Leslie Knope of SEO” last year and he was recognized by Google as an “All Star Partner”.
Covered In This Episode
- Ken’s background in online business and digital marketing.
- The ultimate vision of Acquira – building community!
- Why would someone want to buy an online business?
- At what point does an online business truly generate passive income? Analyzing the different business passivity zones.
- Looking for businesses that aren’t systematized can be an easy win.
- The most common barriers to buying an online business and how you can overcome them.
- Some of the main things to look for during the due diligence process of buying an online business.
- What are backlinks and why are they important?
- Some of the things you can do after you buy a business to take it to the next level. The monetization ladder.
- What is SEO (search engine optimization) and why is it important?
- The ultimate framework for being successful in business.
- What is CRO (conversion rate optimization) and why is it important?
- Parting advice for people who are looking to buy a business.
- Ahrefs – for due diligence and checking keywords and backlink profiles.
- Thrive Headlines – for testing headlines.
- Google Search Console
- Market Muse – Google-friendly content for you to write about in your articles.
Kylon: Welcome to the Acquira podcast. Acquira is an elite accelerator for business buyers. We help entrepreneurs acquire their ideal business and provide them with the tools to succeed in post-acquisition.
I’m your host Kylon Gienger. Join us as we explore and unlock the secrets to successful business acquisition, growth, and exiting strategies.
Hey guys, so if you’re enjoying the podcast and you wanna take the next step in your business buying journey. There’s a couple of different ways that you can do this.
First, check out our business buying workshop. The Acquira workshop will give you a backstage pass to a private equity firm that acquires and operates six plus new businesses per year. This is an opportunity for you to peek behind the curtain and understand the entire process of finding, buying, and growing an online business. The workshop is limited to a small amount of serious business buyers so you can count on it being intimate and you can plan on spending plenty of one-on-one time with some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the M&A space. So go to acquira.com/workshop. Again, that’s acquira.com/workshop to get more information and to apply.
Second, if you are serious about buying a business. I would love to have a quick chat with you and see how we can help. Go to acquira.com/call. Tell us a little more about yourself. And then you can schedule a free consultation call and we’ll see what we can do. Again, that’s acquira.com/call. Talk to you soon.
Kylon: Hello business buyers and welcome to another Acquira episode. Get stoked because today on the show we have Ken Roberts. Ken is a website investor and entrepreneur that works with the top SEOs in the world to acquire and scale seven figure online businesses. In the last two years, he has personally acquired five online businesses with successful exits to Wired Investors and Empire Flippers.
Supremacy SEO has dubbed him the Leslie Knope of SEO last year and he was recognized by Google as an all star partner. So Ken, man, that is the intro I have for you. By the way, I love the Leslie Knope reference. That’s one of my wife’s and my favorite shows. Actually we were just watching it last night. But yeah, please fill in some of the blanks and tells a little bit more about your story.
Ken: Thanks so much for having me on the show Kylon. I really appreciate it.
Yes, so I got started (and my first job after college) at a marketing agency and I ended up coming in there as an early employee. They did graphic design and websites and they don’t really do any digital marketing. So I worked my way up there and really headed the digital marketing department. So we were there and growing the business over the course of four years. We went from just a freelance business basically to doing over a million dollars in revenue. They are servicing all kinds of companies from startups the big corporations and stewing everything from SEO to website design and branding.
So as I was working at the agency—there they got me a lot of exposure to different websites but I was getting kind of burned out. You know, it was a tough gig and I started thinking, man, how am I gonna escape the nine to five or rather the agency world that was like the nine to nine. You’re never off when there’s clients. So I’m sitting there thinking and I’m kind of brainstorming with one of my best friends there and we’re saying like, man were doing all this work for other people’s websites. Why don’t we just take these skills and do it for our own websites. And we’re kind of scared to start a business from scratch because we knew there was just a lot of risk in doing that. So we started looking into what are some existing websites that we can buy. And we sort of came up with this plan of—we’re gonna find a website and then we’ll use all our skills and knowledge from working with clients to be able to grow that website.
So we started looking around and we started with empireflippers.com. And this is sort of like you’ve heard of them?
Ken: This is sort of like a marketplace for websites. There’s a few different ones out there but we looked at this one and we found the perfect site because it was in the graphic design space. It’s actually a graphic design blog.
Ken: Yeah right because that was our experience and we’re thinking man we should really…Instead of going into underwater basket weaving or something, we should find something that we have experience with so that it’ll be easier to come up with a plan and strategy and content for that website.
So we ended up buying it. It was a little scary because it’s like there’s this point where you’ve got your feet on the diving board and you’re about to jump in and hit that button to send the money to buy it and you don’t know if it’s going to come back on the other side. But you know we did it. We took the job and those worries were unfounded. You know they deliver the goods to get the website. The whole process was super easy and they do things to your escrow so they make sure that you actually get access to everything in there.
So we got our first site and that was pretty exciting. We started growing it and around that same time I’m thinking like, man I want to do this again. I want to do this on on other sites. I’m just getting burned out from from corporate life. And at that time I just get a random email from this blog NoHatDigital that I’ve been following and it was an email asking for people to come down to work with them on buying sites and doing SEO down in this community of entrepreneurs in Mexico. And I’m like, man this is perfect timing like I just got a sign that this is exactly what I was looking to do. So just total luck. Ended up quitting my job right there. Giving my two weeks and literally two weeks later I’m down in Mexico in this community of entrepreneurs and I don’t speak a word of Spanish. I just had this out of body moment of what am I doing here. But you know I had faith in it and it was really cool you know. We were living in this house with entrepreneurs and these are some of the top SEO guys in the world we’re working with. Hayden down there, Spencer Hawes from Niche Pursuits and later on we worked with Neil Patel too. So these are like the guys that I grew up reading about and never in my dreams did I think I’d actually be working with them.
So it was just a great experience of learning how to buy those websites and scale them. And I brought my experience from the agency to the table to with our processes for dealing with fifteen hundred clients on being able to grow those sites, publish content, fill blanks and things like that. So it was really cool. We’re living in this house and we kind of have upstairs is the guys that are working on SEO stuff, the marketing guys with me. Downstairs we kind of have the developers. They’re actually working on a keyword research tool that they recently purchased. So at one point we’re working on this. We’re doing sort of acquisitions upstairs. Got a couple websites. We’re doing SEO courses and things like that, internships. And downstairs they got the keyword research software. At one point we just think like man we should just combine these two because they need us, we need them… let’s combine. And that’s sort of how Wired Investors got started and they acquired our SEO training company, put them together. Got the whole team in the process and things. And we started really ramping up to buy more websites. And over the last two years we ended up buying twenty different website properties. It was a combination of content websites which you might call a blog or an informational website and software businesses which some people refer to as SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses.
So we go ahead and start building that portfolio and on the side I’m also working on building my portfolio. This is where I am today—is I own four different websites personally and in combination with some of these other properties I’ve been helping grow. That’s really my focus today.
Kylon: Well I love it man. I appreciate you giving us all the background especially on Wired Investors there which is you know something new. I hadn’t really heard of really the absolute genesis of that whole endeavor. So that was great. And for people listening you know I think a lot of the guests that we may have on and if you’ve listened to Hayden and Deven’s episode which is episode one, you’ve probably heard about Mexico specifically Valle de Bravo Mexico and this community of online entrepreneurs and business buyers that me down there… it is a really really neat thing that we have going on there. In fact I’m headed down there just next week and there’s a few of us meeting for all week down there in Valle de Bravo Mexico. Just ought to work on some businesses and that’s you know, here at Acquira that’s something that we really focus on is not just teaching people how to buy and optimize an online business and exit it successfully. But also to build a community of like minded individuals and entrepreneurs and business buyers. And it’s tough to build a community if you can’t see each other face to face and hang out and you know have a beer together. Play some ping pong or table tennis or whatever. That’s what we go down to Mexico to do and so yeah just wanted to highlight that.
But yeah man, I would love… you know I think the majority of our listeners are either: a) They’re interested in buying an online business probably for the first time or b) they already own an online business and they’re interested in optimizing it. Say operating it better. So I would love to sort of split this episode into a couple different segments roughly. And so the first question I’d have for you…it’s interesting to get your take on is: Why would somebody want to buy an online business and what has you particularly excited about this kind of asset? Why are you building a portfolio of this type of asset?
Ken: I’m extremely excited about online businesses because they can be managed from anywhere in the world. We were just talking about Mexico. I’ve been traveling quite a bit too. So it’s a business where you don’t actually have to physically be there which is really nice. And even if you’re not bitten by the travel bug, if you have kids or puppy at home or whatever that is… you can actually be there and manage your business without actually being there inside your business. That’s really nice.
And I’ve just kind of found that I save so much time not worrying about commuting to work and all those sort of little things that are not fun about the nine to five. So that’s extremely exciting to me. The other thing about it is it’s somewhat passive. So it’s not a hundred percent passive in that it’s like a stock where you don’t have to look at it but you do have to put some work in. But the point is if you sort of put that work in the beginning, you can benefit from those rewards later on. And if you can automate some of those processes or bring in a manager you can really reduce the time that it takes to manage the online business.
Kylon: That’s actually an interesting point I’d like to highlight on. It seems like a silly question but there’s a lot of propaganda out there that it really it was great books like the four hour work week that got stuff like this started, right? This idea of and it’s a great book (it really is) but it did sort of launch this tidal wave of fake gurus and informational products and all these things that promised to make you a million dollars a second as you’re sitting on a hammock, lounging on a hammock on the beach. And so I just wonder now that you’ve been in the game for a while and I think when people think about owning an online business, they may think of it as…they may associated it with that. Like it’s this basically passive income. So how in your opinion… how realistic is that? And is there ever a point that you can get to where it is so highly automated and systematized that you really can just make cash while you sleep? And I guess what is the process there to get to that point or any thoughts that you have around that would be just interesting for people listening who don’t have any experience.
Ken: Of course, so anybody that’s telling you it’s going to be a hundred percent that passive and make a million dollars tomorrow is not telling the truth. So you want to avoid those deals. Like if it sounds too good to be true, it’s not. But you can get it to the point where it’s pretty hands off. Like one of my businesses is something where I usually spend maybe four hours a month on it and I’m just sending invoices basically for that business checking on sales. So it’s not. The larger the business is, the more time it’s probably gonna require. That’s a very small business so it’s something that I can sort of be comfortable leaving alone at the same time if you can get multiple of those those smaller sort of automated businesses then it can be pretty passive. But the more you grow and the larger that business is… like if you’re looking to completely replace your income then that’s going to require more work and more time up front to to be able to do that.
Kylon: Now another interesting point kind of along those lines is what is the real difference in terms of effort in a smaller business versus a larger business? And also in terms of acquiring it in your experience? Because you know I would think…I guess what’s interesting is people tend to associate, oh it’s a much larger business so they’re doing you know five hundred thousand or a million per year. This thing is going to take a lot of work to acquire and to run versus maybe one that’s only doing you know 30k profit a month or something. Is that true or do you sort of notice that regardless of you know how many zeros are at the end of numbers it could be more or less the same amount of work it just depends more on the niche and where the business is and it’s a growth cycle?
Ken: It’s funny, I kind of find that there’s a couple different zones of those businesses. Like one zone would be the business that’s sort of under a 100k acquisition. I find those ones can actually be pretty passive because you can set up systems there but you can’t fall asleep at the wheel. Maybe it can be passive for a year but then you’re gonna have to come back and put like a substantial reinvestment into content or something else there. Because if you fall asleep at the wheel others are gonna catch up with you. Yeah just leave it alone forever and ignore it so you do need to kind of come back periodically and revisit that business.
And then there’s like sort of another zone up 100k to 500k businesses where that zone I find is particularly tricky because sometimes that is actually a full time job for somebody and they haven’t automated much. It’s not really enough to hire a big team or a full time manager. So actually I would even say that sounds more like 50k to 100k. It’s basically somebody’s salary in there and that’s like the owner operator. So it’s sort of hard to replace and they might be doing all the tests themselves. There’s gonna be a lot of work for you to be able to automate yourself out of that business. It can still be done but it is sort of a tricky zone. It’s almost like a buying a job at that point.
And then above that, you know you’re looking at maybe the 200k to a million and million plus in earnings. That’s the size where now you can start hiring on the lower end, assistant. On the higher end, maybe you can get a full time manager and a whole team behind it so that you can kind of step back from that business. And that’s just kind of a big mistake that I sometimes see is you don’t want to get into a business and just buy yourself a job. You want to sort of stay at least my philosophy is on the lower end and do a big volume of businesses that you can automate. Where on the higher end, get something where you’ve got a manager and a couple of employees that can be able to do some of that work for you.
Kylon: Okay so question. In your experience acquiring businesses for yourself and then the acquisitions that you were involved in with Wired Investors, how many of the sellers or founders that you bought from had highly systematized their business? Was that pretty common or when you guys stepped in were you always seeing a lot of room for improvement there?
Ken: Yeah we saw a lot of room for improvement. Not a lot of them were systematized but I think part of that was just self selection bias in there. We were looking for businesses that were not super automated yet because there were some opportunity for us to come in there and do that and replace some of that work. But at the same time we didn’t want to come in and find something that was such a mess that it couldn’t be automated or we couldn’t sort of run that with a minimal team on there.
Kylon: Right makes sense. So some people listening might think that there are high barriers to buying an online business since they may not take action out of fear or maybe just feeling overwhelmed. It’d be interesting to hear you speak to some of those perceived barriers that you’ve seen and maybe why they’re not as formidable as they may seem.
Ken: Definitely. As far as barriers go, I think the initial buying and finding of a website is the first step that you have to take and there’s a lot of sources out there to to help buy websites so it’s a lot better than it was maybe ten years ago where there wasn’t a lot of deals out there. So that’s the first step—finding a good website. And the second step there would be actually performing the due diligence on the website. So this is something where honestly I would recommend starting off small where your first acquisition is a smaller site so that you can kind of learn that due diligence process and make some mistakes, but there’s not a lot of money at risk because of that. Or partner with somebody experienced that’s gonna help you through that process with the diligence and gonna help run the business so that you can kind of learn from them and that was my process as well.
Kylon: Yeah, so it sounds like you’ve done basically both of those. I think that’s some really good advice. And so if you are listening and you’re wanting to get into this space. And I would say that you’re correct like those are probably two of the biggest barriers. It’s scary. You want to make sure that you’re buying the right site but how do you know where to find that and then once you have found something that piques my interest how do I know that it’s low risk and high opportunity? So I think that: a) finding something that’s small enough to where if worst case scenario you could afford to lose. I mean that’s always a good first tenet of investing in anything only invest which you can afford to lose, right? Or secondly, partner with somebody which is and I’m plugging a little bit here but basically why why Acquira exists because that is what we do—deal flow and diligence. And I think what really sets us apart to from sites like say Empire Flippers is we’re able to really find these passive sellers out there. We have our systems and processes down so well that we can reach out to thousands of potential sellers that may have not been thinking about selling, but once we put forward a proposition they may. So these are kind of off market deals that we’re able to find and so that’s where we can help with the second option there, it’s partnering with somebody.
It’d be interesting to hear you talk though. Just give kind of…I know due diligence is a very detailed subject we could spend like a few hours on probably. But it’d be interesting to hear from your point of view maybe a broad overview on when you do find a site that looks interesting, what are some of the main things that you’re looking for. Let’s say you can or just perusing through Empire Flippers and you’re looking at these sites. What are some of your main concerns? What are some of the main red flags that you look for and of course you know we can go infinitely down this rabbit hole and you can get very very detailed but just initially what are some of those things that you look for that might be helpful for people to understand?
Ken: Sure so…There’s a lot behind due diligence. I’ve looked through hundreds of businesses over the course of the last few years and there’s probably five main factors to take a look at.
First, I would look at… and these are pretty simple things like you don’t need to be super technical to find these but—is the business actually increasing month over month and year over year? And sometimes you get into these situations where ah I think I can turn it around and more than likely it’s hard to buck the trend. You know you’re fighting an uphill battle for a business that’s going down hill. So just finding something that study where that’s increasing is just gonna help yourself out a lot so looking for that first.
Second is what kind of business model is it? Is it a content publishing site where its main source of revenues can be advertising…you’re publishing articles. Or is it gonna be like a software business where it’s very technical and you need some experience to run that. Are you gonna have to hire a developer to run that? So you can save yourself a lot of trouble just by picking the right type of site— model there. And so if you are a developer a content site might actually be bad for you because you’ve got the technical experience background to manage something that is a software business. So kind of think about what type of site you can buy there.
And other important factors. Did they do anything sketchy with the backlinking on the website? So backlink is essentially somebody has linked their website back to you. There’s a couple sort of tricksters out there that will do things called private blog networks where they’ll just spin up a bunch of websites, link them all back to their website that they’re trying to sell where they buy links from other people. So you wanna make sure that not only do you ask the seller…are you running a PBN or are you buying links or renting links? But check yourself or have a third party check for that because eventually Google’s gonna find out what they’re doing. It’s actually against Google’s policy to do PBNs or backlinking schemes there. So you wanna make sure that the links are natural or they’re doing white hat outreach on that site and that Google is not going to find out a couple months after you buy the website and take it off of the index. You don’t wanna lose your traffic there so that’s really important to check.
Kylon: Yeah and actually speaking of backlinks I guess to go a little bit more in depth there. Why does that matter with Google? Why would a site wanna have backlinks?
Ken: So a backlink is essentially acting like a vote in Google. Google’s looking at your website and if you have pretty good content already. A content meaning a blog post or an article that helps answer the person’s question that they’re searching for. Then, they’re gonna say okay if your contents’ are on par with everybody else what are the other factors that are sort of going to distinguish you? Do other websites trust you? Do other people trust you? And it’s not just about the number of backlinks but the quality of backlinks. So I said that it was like a vote but not all votes are equal in Google. A vote coming from a high authority website something that is well known is going to be worth a lot more in Google’s eyes then a link back from some random mom and pop blog. So you have to keep that in mind.
Kylon: So it’s kind of like I did Amazon FBA for a while and for a while there are several different tools that you could use to when you would post your product for the first time up on Amazon. You could basically generate positive reviews like hundreds of them which ranks it in the basically search results when somebody’s looking for that particular product. And they you know eventually really cracked down on that because most of the reviews were disingenuous to say the least. And so it’s kind of like that then basically is what you’re saying?
Ken: Exactly yeah.
Kylon: At least that’s what you wanna watch out for. Continuing along this train of of conversation here what are some of the things that somebody could do to grow an online business post-acquisition that maybe the previous founder typically hasn’t done before? And you can use your own experience after you acquired your own sites. What some of the things that you did to take it to the next level and get your ROI.
Ken: So first thing that I like to do after acquiring a site is change the monetization. Meaning…the way that people are actually paying you or how you’re earning revenue on the website. So if you think of this sort of like a ladder with the first rung / the first step on the ladder would be maybe like Google AdSense. So it’s super easy to set up. You just pay some code on there and then people are viewing the ad, clicking on the ad. That gives you revenue to the site but because that’s easy you’re not gonna get a lot of revenue. Google’s kind of the middle man there taking the majority of the profits so you want to kind of think about like how can I climb that ladder.
To a higher level so maybe instead Google AdSense you’ve got a different ad network on there that’s paying a little bit more or there may be a specialty ad network.
Let’s take another step up. Maybe you’re selling your own ads in that spot directly to advertisers. So you’ve cut out the middle man.
Now let’s take one more step up. Instead of just advertising perhaps you have your own product now and you’re actually selling your product. There is no advertisers that are taking margin in between there. There’s no ad network and you’re actually owning the customers yourself so that. An example would be maybe an info product like a course or an e-book or even a physical product. You mention Amazon FBA. You could be selling your own product and Amazon will do all the heavy lifting of fulfillment and customer terms and things on there. So you kind of want to think about it how can I climb that ladder to get up to the top. And if you can buy a site that’s sort of not monetized well and you can come in and bring a better level of monetization there, then, that’s a huge opportunity for a site, So I’d really like to look for those monetization wins and I actually left out a huge one there which was affiliates. So I do a lot of affiliate stuff as well and sometimes you can replace those ads with affiliate banners and links and the content.
Kylon: Yeah I was going to bring that up as well because I know that’s one of the things we look for. I mean this is the type of thing that you can look for in the due diligence process. It’s pretty easy to understand how they’re monetizing especially if you get some of the sort of pre-LOI due diligence materials from the potential seller like their P&Ls and maybe they answer a Q&A, access to their Google analytics, and one of the easy ones I know we look for is just renegotiating whatever commission rate that you have with a particular partnership or an affiliate already existing on the site. A lot of times you can see an immediate significant percentage jump in revenue post-acquisition just from renegotiating that. And it’s pretty amazing how many sellers have not already tried that and so it’s another one of those easy wins I guess.
Ken: That’s a great opportunity I’m glad you mentioned that because a lot of people are scared to do that. You know what if they say no? So what if they say no? And more than likely they’re almost like a bear. They’re more scared of you than you’re scared of them because you’re the one that’s actually generating sales for them, right? And a good thing to to say during that conversation too is back it up with numbers like if your traffic’s grown and you’ve been earning the same commission from this affiliate or same advertising contract but you’re traffic’s going up. Your website’s like more valuable to them but they’re just paying you the same amount so they should be happy to pay you more because your sending them more traffic and getting more sales. And just people don’t think ’til you ask about that—they’re scared.
Kylon: Totally. And something else that I’ve personally done before. It’s really easy to be dishonest here too with what I’m about to say but there’s a way not to be. Basically I’ll go out and I’ll start conversations with different advertisers or different affiliate partnerships and start to negotiate to that rate that you want and then you can use that to come back and leverage into the rate that you want with your current partnership if that’s something that you’re more keen to to keep around. But that’s worked for me a lot too in the past.
Ken: That’s a great technique as well yeah.
Kylon: So SEO… we mentioned it a few times in your bio. You’re obviously the expert here, but SEO I feel like is… that is the big mystery I feel like to a lot of people like including myself. I definitely don’t know as much about it as I would like and so it’d be interesting to hear you give us kind of an overview on what search engine optimization is and why it’s important. Maybe some of the key factors to look for in a site or to work on a site to continue to optimize that. But let’s de-mystify that a little bit for our listeners.
Ken: Sure, let’s all start off really easy and then we’ll get super nerdy. Sound good?
Ken: So search engine optimization is basically the process of getting your articles and your blog posts and pages on your website in front of people on Google. So you want to get them as high as possible and have the most views on Google and why Google? Because they’re the number one search engine. They drive more traffic than Facebook or Twitter or any of these other websites out there and the difference is it’s usually buyer intent traffic too. Like when somebody’s searching for something I Google. They want to solve a problem, they want to find a product or they want to buy something. So it’s much different than somebody that’s on Facebook liking pictures of dogs and talking to their friends.
So Google is super important for SEI, but what is behind SEO? There are hundreds of factors but really it comes down to three things. One is technical SEO. So is your website set up in a way that’s gonna be easy to use, fast, and friendly?
Two, is gonna be the actual content on the website. So the articles on the website—are they answering the question that the user has and is it the best content out there? We can talk about some ways to create the best content out there later on.
And three, are there links going back to the website and articles? Do other people validate that? Do they think it’s the best content as well or is it just you that thinks it’s the best content?
So you do those three things. Then, you can rank well in Google. There’s a lot of sort of factors behind them of what’s a good blank—what’s a good piece of content? But you know in general it just boils down to those three things.
Kylon: Gotcha. I mean what I think is interesting about that is it really holds true for any business, right? I mean the majority of my experience so far is an offline business—is a brick and mortar retail. When you move into online business too, it just seems to get infinitely more complex. And I guess nerdy and all these different terms and abbreviations that are difficult to understand and search engine algorithms that you have to crack and figure out and adhere to. But what’s interesting is if you just come at all this from a framework of providing value to people, you can solve most challenges pretty quickly. Like at the end of the day that’s what every business needs to do to be successful. That’s what Google is trying to do. And because that’s what Google is trying to do for their customers, that’s what every website that uses or accepts traffic from Google has to do. And so I just wanted to sort of highlight that I guess is in the midst of all this if you’re approaching it always from the standpoint and this framework of providing value to people, you’ll find your answer a lot quicker. I mean if you just understand like you said, Ken, people are searching Google to be able to solve a problem. What is that problem that you solve and how can you make that as easy as possible for people to discover and to solve for people on your website. That was a good overview. Did we get to the nerdy part yet or no?
Ken: So the more dirty part is if we go and this will get us into CRO a little bit (conversion rate optimization). But the nerdy part is you know go back to your fifth grade science class and think about the scientific process. We start with the problem and then we come up with a hypothesis of this is how I think I can solve that problem. And then we end up moving into testing that. So we’ll design a test and then we’ll come back and look at the results of that test and say did this validate or invalidate that hypothesis. And this is true of both SEO and CRO of doing tests with articles, testing our click through rates on our headlines and things like that. And that gets a little bit more dirty because we’re looking at the statistics and saying did this article actually beat these other articles. So we can test and find out what content is best instead of just guessing and saying okay I think this is the best article.
Kylon: Yup that makes a lot of sense. I guess another question I would have is what are some of the mistakes that you see being made the most when it comes to say both of those things search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization?
Ken: So in both of them I would say…You have to test everything yourself on that because websites are different. There’s a couple rule of thumbs like this is going to work in general for most people but I’ve seen cases where the rule of thumb was tested and for that particular audience they needed more information. Like everybody says put your call to action above the fold on the website so it’s fast to click on them. We actually did a test on one website where it was worse putting that above the fold on the site. It was actually better—we actually increased the clicks by moving it further down the page because for that particular product people needed more information to learn about what the product was before they bought it.
Kylon: That’s interesting.
Ken: It wasn’t like a fast buy—something that you could just compare options really quick. They need to actually learn the whole process of how to buy that product.
Kylon: Yeah and again for people listening, we have an experience level that really ranges but above the fold at least in my words would mean on any given screen people are viewing it, it’s like as soon as they hit that page or that website, they see it versus they might have to scroll down a little bit that would be considered below the fold. But that’s really interesting and so maybe like I know A/B split testing is kind of in that. Do you wanna explain that really quick? Is it just sort of this mechanism for testing a few different options?
Ken: Sure and the way A/B split testing works is—I’m gonna put one result out there so maybe this is a headline that I’ve written for a page and then that’s gonna be test A. And that’s my control so this is what’s already on the website. Test B is maybe going to be something like a different headline. Like I’m gonna tweak that headline.
Or another example would be test A is going to be my button above the fold. Test B is gonna be my button below the fold on the site. So I just moved the position of the button to see if it gets more clicks. And what we’re gonna do is run those tests with half the traffic going to one page, half the traffic going to the other page and we’re gonna see what the results are on that page. And this is one of the cool things when you apply this to SEO. I’m talking more about CRO but when you apply that and you have big portfolio sites to test things on that helps the results become more clear and statistically relevant. You wanna be skeptical of anybody that just says make all your buttons green or you know put this thing in your title on every site. Because it’s not gonna work for some sites. You’re gonna find that guru sort of advice. The stuff that really works is you’re gonna go test that yourself and it’s gonna be different for various keywords and search intent because no website is going to be the same.
Kylon: Yeah that’s actually a good point. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of instances where one size fits all and I just I like your comment on the going back to fifth grade science class. You gotta just test and so the only way to do that is to throw multiple options out there and record the data, analyze the data and you know don’t just make wild guesses basically.
Ken: So Kylon, I want to ask you, what were you doing in… what were you in fifth grade? Were you kinda like a punk rocker or something else?
Kylon: Well you nailed it on the head as far as like the phases I went through like punk rock is my favorite music I went through like a goth stage and all that stuff. You know, I was home schooled the majority of… I mean all through those grades at least. I only went to an actual high school for my sophomore and senior years. So yeah fifth grade I was basically teaching myself and sort of unschooling if you’re familiar with the term. And running around the woods pretty much pursuing any of my natural curiosities. What about yourself?
Ken: I guess I was sort of the classic rocker guy. I had long hair and was like the guy wearing the Led Zeppelin shirt.
Kylon: Yes alright, I like it. You and I would would get along. I’m actually still in a band and just this last weekend recorded another album and so it’s sort of more of a funk rock little bit of like hard rock in there but music is life. It’ll never quite be done for me.
Ken: That’s awesome, that’s great man.
Kylon: Well cool, I guess before I let you go… just would ask for any final words of advice that you would give to anybody listening who’s thinking about buying an online business but they haven’t quite made that step yet? What advice would you leave them with?
Ken: Yes so for anybody that’s looking to buy a business I just want to reiterate that you should either start small or partner with somebody on that business. And just go ahead, take that plunge, jump off the diving board because that’s how you’re going to learn. It’s by testing these things out and taking that chance.
Kylon: I know that you had a few resources that you wanted to share in regards to the things you talked about. And also for people listening if you’re driving or doing laundry or something, we’ll have these resources linked in our show notes as well. But Ken, why don’t you go ahead and maybe share some of these resources and tools that can help people out in the areas we’ve talked about?
Ken: Definitely! So for due diligence I like to use Ahrefs and this is gonna help you check backlinks and keywords that the website is ranking for. For anybody that owns a website already I would recommend installing Thrive Headline Optimizer because we’re talking about how can we test those headlines out and see which ones might rank better in Google and get better click through rates. So Thrive Headline Optimizer is great for that and using that in combination with Google Search Console which is free. You should sign up for that anyway to really nail those technical elements of SEO. They make it super easy to let you know which pages have errors and things on there. And then finally just for optimizing that content I mentioned that Google wants to show the best content to people and that means you have to cover the subject comprehensively I like to use MarketMuse for the optimization because they’re gonna give me ideas of what to talk about in that article so that I can put my best foot forward in Google.
Kylon: Fantastic! Thanks for that man! Well folks you are the average of the five people you hang around the most and today you’ve been hanging out with Kylon and Ken learning how to build your business empire. For more information or to get in touch head over to acquira.com and always remember to build beyond business.
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