SEO Basics for Online Course Creators with Scott Magdalein

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This LMScast features Chris Badgett of codeBOX explaining SEO basics for online course creators with Scott Magdalein from TrainedUp. You’ll actually gain enough knowledge in this episode to get SEO working to increase traffic to your own website.

TrainedUp is a volunteer training and leadership development tool for ministries that Scott created originally for his own use. It has since become a growing online course platform for training volunteers, missionaries, and pastors. He talks a little about his beginnings with creating search engine optimized content and learning how to rank on Google. Discussion then continues around how to do SEO that will get you ranked without getting Google Slapped.

Unethical practices can get your site banned, blacklisted, and removed from the internet. Focus on creating good content and building a trustworthy reputation through earning link integrity. Stay away from shady or even questionable black or grey hat SEO tactics. You simply can’t game Google’s algorithm. The key is to make sure your content has relevance and authority. Follow white hat SEO techniques using original content to generate organic keyword propagation.

You may have an online course website, membership site, or LMS where your content is restricted, and thus not open to the general public. This kind of content is generally not indexed by Google, so it’s not going to help you – or hinder you – in getting ranked.

One element that will get you ranked is a great blog with SEO-rich content. Each blog post is a new page in your site. Blog posts are searchable, they get real traffic, and they generate linkbacks from high authority sites. You can create blog posts from content in your courses and include previews and teasers to attract interest in those courses. Images and media content on your website also pull in viewers using proper SEO-based titling. Also use good anchor text on all of your links, and remember the blog title itself is very important for SEO.

Chris and Scott also discuss tools like Yoast, Moz, and Majestic, as well as traps to avoid like malicious linkbacks, invasive pop-ups, dead-end pages, and duplicate content. They wrap up with the 3 SEO Basics you need to have in place for success.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode I’m joined with Scott Magdalein from TrainedUp, which is a online course platform designed to create highly engaging ministry training and to help use online courses to train volunteers, develop leaders, equip missionaries and resources pastors in getting their skills out there. So thanks for coming on the show, Scott.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, Man. My pleasure. Thanks for having me. This is really cool.

Chris Badgett: Good to have you here. Well, the main topic of this episode is we are actually going to get into SEO, but before we get into that, tell us a little bit more about TrainedUp. What’s your story? How’d you get into it? What problem are you solving with your LMS platform TrainedUp?

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, well TrainedUp works on a really really specific problem and that is volunteer training and leadership development in ministries. That would be like churches and mission organizations and faith base non profits, local non profits, that sort of thing. It’s a challenge that is just kind of a budding technology. It’s just now kind of coming around to letting technology solve that problem but it is a problem or at least a challenge that pretty much every ministry related organization has. Most ministries are really have to lean on volunteers and so being as volunteers trained is a big, big job.

We came around it because I myself have been in ministry and I’ve always had the trouble of training my own volunteers in a way that’s kind of scales and is efficient and is consistent across the board, so I built Trained Up originally for myself so I could use it in my own ministry. Then, as some of my other ministry leader friends found it they decided that it was something they could use and over time it kind of turned into a little business that’s now growing into a bigger business. It started out as a tool for myself.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What does Trained Up do?

Scott Magdalein: Well, Trained Up is pretty simple. It’s an LMS that allows any kind of ministry leader to create a course online and … It’s usually video courses but they can be any kind of content and allow their volunteers to go through it and complete full courses for training. There’s also, we have a couple of other features in there that we kind of say that there’s 3 legs to this Trained Up stool.

There’s the main one which is courses, and it allows you to make courses just like you can imagine. Then, we also have 2 others that are called resources and webinars. Resources is a way to share collections of files, sort of like DropBox but branded and behind the log in domain in your Trained Up accounts. Then, there are webinars which is like a live streaming, live chat kind of tool to be able to do live training in remote areas. A lot of our missionary organizations use the webinar feature to be able to train missionaries over seas without having to site them in for training.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, if you are listening to this and you would like to check out Trained Up, you can head on over to and see what that’s all about. Today we are really going to get into SEO, search engine optimization and this is a great topic because there’s so much junk or garbage out there and just bad advice or over confident advice. Scott is somebody who really cares about SEO and can get traction, can help actually create search engine optimized content. This is an issue that I’m really excited about.

I’ve done a lot of the hard yards in learning how to do SEO. I’ve also, when I’ve run an agency, I’ve kind of come on to projects that had involved some kind of SEO agency and I found something that were a little unethical or weird or all kinds of link wheels and really just a lot of bad advice. I understand the promise of search engine optimization, everybody wants it, everybody wants to be number 1 on Google for whatever but the reality is is it’s a lot of hard work but you want to be doing … It doesn’t have to be hard but it takes consistency, it takes doing the right things, it’s not a passive thing that you just throw money at. You have to do the work, create the content.

I’m really excited to kind of merge our experience together here and talk about SEO that actually works. I’ve often, if I had some free time, I’ve always wanted to create a no BS SEO course that teaches people, just beginner, and trust me, just doing the basics can bring you a long way, especially over a decent time horizon. This is not over night success land here. Anyways, maybe one day we can collaborate on a course about that.

Let’s get into it. What’s your history with SEO? How did you get into it? Let’s start there.

Scott Magdalein: Man, I’ve been working in search for probably 8 years now which isn’t as long as a lot of other people but I have what feels like a long history with working around, tip toeing around, Google’s rules. Mainly we say search, we mean Google. I mean, it’s pretty much Yahoo and Bing and even all those others, they still use a lot of the same rules so if you can rank in Google then the others are fine.

My search history kind of goes back to my own business when I started a marketing company, really a mortgage new generation company back in mid 2000s I guess. I didn’t have a whole lot of budget so I couldn’t run ads or whatever so I had to figure out how to get in front of people searching for buying a mortgage. We were up against big banks and all that kind of stuff trying to generate leads for mortgage brokers.

At the time, of course, there were link farms and you could do a lot of whole various stuff and still get ranked without too many penalties. Overtime, of course, those penalties grew harder, bigger, and harsher and tighter perimeters around what you were allowed to do. Over time my techniques really just simplified into what you were talking, the long hard work of content creation, technical SEO, just making sure all of the bits and pieces are lined up properly and site map is generating properly regularly and everything is indexed well and all that stuff. Content creation and building reputation, building authority through link building, link earning rather.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, just to give people an idea, SEO back in the day, like if I wanted to rank for the phrase ‘word press LMS’ I could just put the word ‘word press LMS’ 137 times at the bottom of my home page and that would help me but the reality is, you can’t outsmart Google. You shouldn’t try to. It’s not there as a system to be gamed. Yeah, I mean people always find a loop hole to exploit or something like that but over time it’s gotten so much smarter and what Google really cares about these days is relevance, authority, these kinds of these you are talking about.

They have, Google’s algorithm for figuring these things out is not something that you can crack and you hear about it with penguin and panda, all these Google updates that all of a sudden this loop hole that all these people are exploiting like, I don’t know. I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Maybe like using anchor links …

Scott Magdalein: Over using anchor links, yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, all of a sudden you get slapped and now your website disappears from the internet. It’s called a Google slap. If you feel like you are gaming the system, you probably are and I would avoid because eventually it will catch up with you.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, that’s true. Usually what I like to say is in Google search if you think you found a loop hole then you probably found a noose because it’s probably going to come back and hang you. The thing is from with a Google slap as you called it, I never heard that. That was funny. Is that it’s not just that you get un ranked but you get banned and black listed. It’s not just a matter of undoing what you did, you have to regain authority and regain trust with Google and a lot of times it actually even takes contacting Google to prove that you amended your ways and you have rehabilitated. It’s not easy.

Chris Badgett: There’s another couple … We’ll get into some tactics and some ideas here but one of the key things to just realize is there’s something called black hat SEO, white hat SEO, and grey hat SEO. The black hate SEO is all the shady, not cool stuff that you might get away with. The grey hat stuff is things where you are not sure, maybe it’s a little bit shady but it works but it’s not necessarily clean as a whistle. Where as organic content that you wrote yourself that happens to include in a natural cadence the key words related to your business, that’s a white hat technique. It’s very much legit.

We want to talk about really the white hat techniques here but you’ll hear that if you start researching SEO and you hear people talking about black hat or grey hat or white hat. Focus on the white hat, that’s the stuff that’s good and that you don’t even have to worry about, it’s just best practices.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Maybe Scott we can get into something, just some specific concepts that people should understand and then give some examples. Before we do, I just want to frame in, a lot of the people listening to this you probably have an online course website or a membership site or a learning management system which gives you a unique SEO challenge in that a lot of your content is protect and restricted so that members only or customers only who have enrolled in a certain course or membership are allowed to see the content, therefore, Google is not going to automatically necessarily index that protected content. They are not going to give you a bunch of … They are not going to rank you for stuff that isn’t openly available to the public.

What Google really likes … They don’t like dead ends and stuff that’s kind of hidden. It’s not bad to have your content restricted to members only, just know that that’s not necessarily helping you a lot for SEO. If you have an online course or a membership site, it’s really important that the content on your home page, on your other pages, like your about page and all kind of feature pages or whatever, that that content you pay a lot of attention to that from a SEO perspective.

Also, I highly recommend that you do something like have a blog that’s free and open to the public which is your opportunity to really create a lot of content, SEO rich content for your platform so that you are not just keeping a secret from Google everything that’s kind of locked in and hidden inside your courses and your memberships.

Let’s get into somethings. What are some key concepts that people should pay attention to? What would be some tactics that they could try to do?

Scott Magdalein: Some key concepts probably would be like you said, you mentioned how important it is to have a blog. Blogs, although they feel chronological to us as humans, they are considered pages by Google, and so every blog post you create creates a new page in your site. Of course you should be, whatever website building you are using should be indexing those individual blog post as well. Blog post are the easiest way to create new pages in your site. I mean, it’s one thing to create a topic specific page on your site like a feature or a service that you provide or some topic that you know about, it just feels more natural to create a blog post.

Blog post can use more natural language generally. They can be a little bit more time sensitive so you write something about something that’s happening right now or happening recently. Keeping up and maintaining a blog is probably my number one content and creation suggestion. If you don’t have a blog it’s tough to rank all your other pages because generally pages on a website don’t get the link back, kind of stuff that blog post usually have.

As far as coming up with content, the hardest part about blogging is content creation. It’s not writing the actual content, it’s coming up with content and then, not just the content idea but how do you feel it out? The great thing is that course creators, people who create any kind of teaching or training content, that’s my clients too, they have a great opportunity to repurpose and reuse and restate all that content that’s inside their course. All those videos and hopefully the transcripts for those videos. They live behind a log in wall so they are not being index so that’s good for the course side of it but there’s no reason that you can’t repurpose that content into previews or snippets or teasers or whatever that can become blog posts, that become pages on your site, that become teaser videos with transcripts on Youtube. These are all highly searchable pieces of content that don’t have to give away all the apples in your course and you don’t have to give it away so that the course becomes less valuable but they are good search pieces that Google can hang on to and chew on and provide for when they are searching for stuff related to your topics.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I’ll give you another pro tip in terms of content which is images. A lot of people don’t pay enough attention to images. Google likes to see multi media types of content and Google … It’s getting better. AI or whatever, it’s a thing and Google might be able to tell what’s in an image but contributors usually can’t tell what they are looking at so you have to tell them what we are looking at here.

For example, even just the title without getting any of the more fancy titles and things like that. If you have a picture, if you are going to add it to a blog post or any where on your site, take 20 seconds and re title that photograph by the name or the phrase or whatever is in the picture so you are telling Google what this image is. For example, if I take a picture off my phone and the title of it is image 0157 on my site, it’s not really doing anything for my SEO but for me, if I’m selling a word press plug in. If I take a moment and take that logo image and re title it from image 0157 to lifter LMS a word press learning management system plug in for online courses and then I upload it to my site, I’ve just done a huge value to my SEO. You can even go back into your media library or word press or whatever, you can redo this stuff later if you need to. Images is often one of those things that can really help you if you get some good habits around that.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, absolutely. All those little things matter. Making sure that you have good anchor text on all of your links instead of just kind of dropping the URL itself in there. Make sure it’s turned into a text link instead of a URL. Add titles to your URLs if you have time to go back … Not to your URLs, to your links. If you have time to go back and do that. There’s also, I mean, we tend to think about the content itself but it’s really also important to have page titles and page descriptions on all of your pages as well as your blog posts.

I personally manually write up a title and description that’s a search title and search description that I want Google to know about and Google to use when they rank one of my blog post. A blog post might be ‘How to train church leaders in 10 seconds a day or something like that but the search title is a little bit more optimized. I make sure that it’s tighter. It fits in within the … I forget what the character length is, Yoast helps mewith that, but it fits within Google’s search parameters and then I write a description that fits within their limits on the description text. Of course, I use WordPress, so the Yoast plugin makes it really easy to add a title description to everything but that’s really valuable because it helps Google to know what to actually show in the search results page.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely. The Yost plug in, which is called, I believe it’s called Yost SEO, it’s one of the … I take a mentalist approach when it comes to plug ins but whenever I’m building a site I always put that one in there and use it as a tool to make sure those titles are optimized. A meta description it’s called, so when you go to Google and you search for something and you see that big blue title and that short paragraph in black letters, that short paragraph in black letters is where you can put in the meta description and the SEO title. If you want that to say something else that’s more focused or shorter than the title of the content, you can do that. That’s a really good tip there.

Well, let’s talk more about the difference between in bound and out bound links. In bound links are where other sites link to your site and the authority of the site linking to you, like if the Huffington post links to you or some crazy spamming site links to you, the opposite thing can happen. You can actually get hurt or you can be dramatically helped at the quality or the authority of that inbound link. Let’s talk about in bound links a little bit. What else should people know about in bound links and how to get more of them?

Scott Magdalein: Yes, so I mean, my number 1 tactic isn’t so secret. It’s trying to get in touch with site owners, content producers on other sites and either produce content for them, ask for a back link on one of their pages, tell them about my service so they’ll link to it in their suggestions places. Those old school link roles. You remember, I don’t know if you’ve been around long enough, but those blog roles from back in the day?

Chris Badgett: Oh yeah.

Scott Magdalein: Like the sidebar, those are essentially like my friends, my internet friends. Those things were actually good links to you back, so that’s really good. I also try to focus on high domain authority sites within my niche, what I’m talking about, what we talk about. Domain authority you can use tools. There are probably a dozen tools to evaluate the domain authority of different sites on the web. I use Moz, they’re an open site explorer or something like that, fresh web explorer. I’m not sure, they have all these different explorer tools. It tells me domain authority of the fact that I want to target with content, either as guest content or with links or whatever. I do that, I kind of reach out.

Also, I’ve heard that .gov and .edu sites, if you get a link from one of those, they have natural high authority because they typically have higher trust and so if you can get a link back from one of those it’s really good. Especially if you are a course creator and you are doing your own teaching you might be able to find some sites in your category or your area that might be willing to … Not trade links. I don’t know if that’s even a thing anymore but essentially be able to post content in their space and link back to you.

Also, again, I use Moz and they’ll tell you the standing links coming back. You can check and see if there are links that you didn’t want to create, like someone created a link back to your site and it’s getting flagged for spam because if you get to 8 or 9 or 10 spam flags, Google will start to black list you and penalize you for it. You want to watch out for any links that are triggering Google’s spam alert system.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely and you can go through a process through Google web master tools that’s called devaluing where you can be like, “I don’t want those to count at all towards my SEO or whatever. Just don’t pay attention to those because i don’t like them because they are spam or whatever.” That’s cool.

Another thing, I like your point about guest posting, that’s a really good one. There’s a lot of people out there who, especially if you are course creator, you are probably better than average at creating content, there’s a lot of other publishers out there that’d be happy to have some new fresh content on their blogs or whatever are more than happy to give you are link back to your site.

The other thing you can do is rate some of your own back links. For example, Left your own mess, we have a YouTube channel. All these podcast videos go on YouTube. I think we are up somewhere around a couple hundred videos, maybe 300. Every single one of those in the description has a link to, a specific blog post, specific product, or whatever is the context of that video. That creates a huge amount of … I don’t know if they index it in the same way then like somebody else’s site that isn’t open to the public or whatever but what I’m saying is that when I create something somewhere else, if I have the opportunity to create a link, I’m always going to throw a link in there. Not to the point of being annoying but I’m just going to throw a link in there if I’m trying to move traffic in.

In my approach, a lot of times, on that kind of website I usually don’t put social media on the site at all. If I’m on Facebook, I want people to come to my website. If I’m on YouTube, I want people to come to my website. If I’m on Itunes, I want them to come to my website. It’s not bad to have links out to these places either especially if you are pretty active on them. Just think about your link strategy. Really at the end of the day, I think what Google wants is more of an organic web. If your link strategy is too perfect, and it looks …. You are not going to get penalized for linking to content.

Scott Magdalein: No you won’t get penalized for linking to your content from your own social. They aren’t counted at the same weight as general web links but there are some sort of signal in there that counts buzz and social conversation about your content so that helps for certain. Of course, social activity helps. Google can associate your social accounts with your site and will help to effect your domain authority and page rank based on your social activity and social interaction as well. Those are all signals that kind of play in.

There’s also other signals, I was just thinking a moment ago another big signal … Oh, something else we haven’t talked about yet is Google upped … Last year they upped the value of the signal for mobile friendliness. Most websites now a days I guess, unless you are building it from scratch, HML, most websites are automatically responsive. Especially if you are using any kind of modern WordPress theme or a Squarespace site or anything like that for your public-facing site, it’s going to be responsive but, if it’s not responsive Google will ding you to the point of even saying if it’s not a responsive site Google won’t list you because it’s not friendly to the users so that became a big signal in 2015.

Then also, there’s one other big signal I heard about recently.

Chris Badgett: I heard recently there was some issues with pop ups.

Scott Magdalein: Yes, that’s the other one.

Chris Badgett: Go ahead.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, Google started penalizing, not penalizing like black listing but lowering your page rank essentially, lowering your quality, user quality if it detects any kind of interpretive pop ups or any thing like that. Re directs, of course, those have been negative for awhile but now I guess since so many sites are using … Doing newsletter pop ups that overlay the entire page, Google is docking you for those kinds of things. I think you’ll start to see the rise in drop down banners, the 20 pixels or 50 pixels at the top of the screen or the corner pop ups that just kind of get your attention and we’ll start to see the over lay pop ups that kind of cover the screen go away, hopefully, as a result of that.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, at the end of the day Google is trying to protect and respect the end user and that’s what we should all be caring about is their mission is just for people to find what they are looking for and they don’t want people gaining the system. If a marketing company is like, “Okay, if you put this kind of pop up that the user didn’t trigger and you can increase the size of your email list or whatever.” It may help but if it’s also annoying, eventually Google is probably going to cut you up because you are not … You are actually getting in the way of what the user is looking for. I mean it may be valuable to be on your email list …

We have some pop ups on our sites that we use. We haven’t gone away. We have gone back through and adjusted anything since that news came out but we’re also not super aggressive. They don’t pop up everywhere. Just be careful when you are using that kind of thing.

Let me ask you another one Scott in terms of out bound links. I don’t even know about this one, like the technical Google stance on it but I do know that Google does not like dead ends. If you have, let’s say a landing page, also known as a squeeze page or a sales page, and there’s one page and there’s no way to escape besides the back button. The menu is gone, the footer and the links are gone. You are going to have a hard time ranking that page because it’s like a dead end on the internet. What Google likes is like a web and they always want the user to easily be able to leave if it’s not good. If you have it like a dead end on the internet and then a pop up, I mean, you are just asking for … You are not going to get any SEO value there which is okay. I mean, maybe on a sales page you are trying to limit options and I understand the reasoning behind helping your user maintain focus as they are checking out and that sort of thing.

In my mind, I like to be pretty generous with out bound links, even on a product page. If there’s this other piece of information that’s relevant to someone making an informed purchase, I will put a link to somebody else’s website on that page. What’s your take on outbound links?

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, I mean, just what you said. Your pages need to not be dead ends like that. I mean, the way that I work that is I always have our logo in the top of every page and the logo always links back to the home root URL. And I have footer navigation. Those are all pages where I want to not have my navigation distractor possibly pull them away from the page that I really want them to stay on and read through the whole page or take an action on but again, if you make a dead end on those pages because you don’t want them to leave Google will say, “Oh, well we’re not going to send them there if you don’t want them to leave. We need people to be able to come browse through the web.” Yeah, that’s important.

I think also, the little things, like your out bound links being anchor text and not just URLs. That tells Google that you know what you are linking to and also having titles on your links is good structure and all that kind of stuff.

Chris Badgett: Another good one just to watch out for is duplicate content. If you are like, “Oh, I need to create a bunch SEO content.” And you just start reusing something that already exist and you don’t modify it or if you have multiple sites and you think that taking the same blog post and copying it word for word and pasting it on 5 sites, that can actually hurt you.

Scott Magdalein: Oh yeah.

Chris Badgett: Duplicate content is something to be aware of. Think about it, Google just wants everything to be unique and not just plagiarism from somewhere else. It’s not going to help you to copy the best stuff on some popular site.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, some of what I do … You are talking about taking your blog post content and copying it to other sites? That used to work truthfully before they started binging you for duplicate content. I don’t do this for myself. In my space, ministry training, there’s just not enough searching that’s happening or search competition for me to have to really put a lot of work into it but I do some ICO work for some clients and more high search competition on spaces, what I’ll do is actually manage through 4 separate sites that are all peripheral topics. If the topic is drug rehab, I’ll have 1 site that’s the actual company’s website and we do content of course on that site but we have also have an intervention site that talks about intervention specifically and intervention service-

Chris Badgett: Are these micro sites? Is that what you would call them?

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, they are simply just blogs. I may produce 3 pieces of content on the primary plant site per week but each one of those peripheral sites gets at least 1 piece of content per week as well so I might be creating 6 or 7 pieces of content, 300 words, 500 words, not these massive pieces of articles but enough to continue those sites. These other sites don’t have to have massive domain authority, they just can’t be spam sites. They need to link to one another and they also need to link out. These other sites are legitimate websites, they’re not clone sites. They are actually valuable in and of them selves. they are ranked in Google, somebody lands on it, I want them click that link back to my client’s site not just because it’s Google juice but also because I want them to follow the link.

They do help. That is one way if you have the time and the energy to produce that much content. It’s not necessarily always best to produce that good content on one site because you lost the opportunity to be able to build some domain authority by building that content elsewhere and linking it back.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely. That’s a really good point. I also just want to say when you are trying to rank for something, if you are a beginner, I really want to drill in the point that having a key word is important but what’s almost more important is a key word phrase. A single key word, like cars would be really hard to rank for but if you would want to rank for the term ‘used Tesla cars’, you are in a niche there so that key word phrase … It’s all about key word phrases.

For me, selling a learning management system software, I like to rank for phrases like ‘how to create an online course’. That’s like 6 words or whatever. I don’t just want the word ‘word press’. I don’t really care about that as a key word. I like the phrase ‘word press LMS’ or ‘word press membership system’ or ‘LMS software comparison’ or whatever. These phrases for me are way more important than individual words. It’s just a cool-

Scott Magdalein: That’s right, for a couple of reasons. I mean, there’s a lot of reason to target long tale key words like that. One is because the competition is lower and so ranking for those long tale key words is easier, takes a little less effort, little less time, but another reason is the search traffic that comes from when somebody searches ‘how to create an online course’ the search traffic is much more focused so it’s different than just ‘online learning’. Or eLearning. Then, you get 10,000 hits in a month for that thing but only 10 of those people actually care about an LMS system or you could rank for ‘how to create an online course’ or rather even better ‘how to build an online course for a learning management system’ something really long and specific and it’s like bam, LifterLMS, but that’s … It comes to your site because that’s exactly what they were looking for. You may get less traffic from it but the traffic you get is much more focused and actually the people you want on your site.

Targeting those long tale key words is good for a lot of reasons and also helps to make your content a whole lot more interesting. If you are targeting short key works, one of the 2 words or 3 words in a phrase, you are going to find that your content gets really boring and you start using that word over and over again instead of a variation or kind of mixing up that long sentence.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, so the basics of using a key word phrase is put the title of the post or whatever, page, preferably toward the beginning, mention it in the first sentence of the first paragraph, maybe twice in the first paragraph, a couple times in the other paragraphs, but don’t over do it. Don’t talk unnaturally, or try to squeeze it in 17 times in each paragraph because then you are kind of trying to gain the system there. What I’m saying is it’s good just to kind of, I call it thinking like a search engine. I like to think like that when I’m like, “What podcast episode am I going to make next? What kind of blog post am I going to do?” I think about key word phrases that might help but more importantly I’m caring about what’s of value to my user base. Once I figure that out ….

For example, this episode, I know that our user base, I want them to have a better understanding of SEO so whatever I end up titling this episode like ‘SEO basics for online course creators’, that would be a key word phrase right there. If I say it multiple times in this video, SEO basics for online course creators, and then this video gets transcribed it’s going to keep coming through but I’m not going to over do it. What I’m saying is, when you are uploading that image, when you are thinking about the title of the post, when you think about the words that are in your first sentence in something, try to think like a search engine. It’s a learned skill.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, there’s some tools that will help even. Again, I use Moz, but for a keyword research I also use this other tool called Jacksie. These 2 tools will tell me not just … Okay, I have an idea for this phrase ‘how to create an online course’ but I can also go search that or do an recent research on that with these Moz or Jacksie and it’ll not only tell me the potential for that particular phrase, the competition there, the number of searches that are happening around that phrase, but it’ll also give me 1,000 variation of that phrase so that I can know what other … What people are actually searching for. That helps me in a couple of ways. That helps me to know how to talk about what I want to write about or produce content about but it also helps me to know what to produce content about. That way I’m not wasting time producing content that isn’t being searched for.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely, and I’m going to give you, everybody watching and listening out there, another free tip which is go and do a search on and as you are starting to type in your main key words, whatever they are, let’s say you are teaching about horses, training horses, and you are typing in ‘horse training’. Google is actually going to start auto populating the most popular phrases. You’ll see them show up below the search box. There it is, it’s telling you this is what’s in demand. Especially if you get way out on the long tale of some very micro niche, it’ll give you some great suggestions to let you know what’s on the mind of the user like what phrases people are typing in. If you even scroll to the bottom of the SERP, which is the search engine results page, it’s just the page that comes up after you do a Google search. At the very bottom of the page, there’s a bunch of key word phrases down there that you could click on that are like basically relevant searches saying “If you like the results here, you might also like these searches down here. Click on these.”

Just got a slow down for a second and think like a search engine and look at what’s already there for you to help you kind of come up with those phrases.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, that’s actually … I mean, that kind of thing, the search auto complete as well as those other … I forget what Google calls it. The links at the bottom of the SERP page. Those are a really great content idea sources. Like, “I don’t know what to post today. I’m trying to fill out my content calendar for next month and I can only come up with 10 post but I need 15 post.” You can go start a search and Google will tell you what else you should write about is what people are searching for.

Chris Badgett: That’s true and just to give you a personal example of how powerful this is, I wrote a post once about affiliate marketing for online courses and then, just because I kind of think like a search engine and I made sure I kind of optimize it for that phrase, 2 months later I was on a plane to New York to do some affiliate marketing for online course consulting with a company there but it’s all because I did … I just consciously thought about that and these long tale phrases are powerful so, if you are in business you should know what those are for you.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, that’s good.

Chris Badgett: Well, this all sounds like a lot of work Scott and I know you offer some services related to this kind of thing so, if somebody’s not … If they are more like, “This all sounds great. This sounds awesome. Can you just do it for me?” I know you do help out people from time to time, tell us about what you’ve got going on over there.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, so we do … We have our product close to this training platform but I also help with some search stuff for some clients. We don’t take on a lot of clients. We are small shop. We only have a couple of guys and we try to keep our client load pretty light but we do take on some SEO clients and we sort of stopped building websites for clients a couple of years ago just because building websites is so easy to do on your own now. Building websites has become a commodity but even websites found on the web is still a really high in demand, hard thing to do. I mean, honestly it doesn’t take a whole lot. I mean, the knowledge that we gave already in this particular episode is probably just about as much as you need to get going and do a good job if you have the time and the patience to do the research and create the content and to build a relationship with the publishers and all that kind of stuff.

What we do is we focus on 3 things when we serve clients when it comes to SEO. Making sure the site is built the right way and that doesn’t take a whole lot of work but that it’s set up and then a review of all the pages and the structure, that kind of stuff. Of course, making sure that Google and other search engines recognize it. Then we work on public … More like PR really, building relationships with publishers and we go after guest post opportunities. There are ways to find guest post opportunities on lots of blogs. Then there’s the consecrations on site and if you are really in a lot of need, we also will from time to time, if it makes sense depending on the search competition, build a network of sites that are all built to rank well and then bring traffic and build the ranking of the main primary site.

We do that, it’s usually based on a package deal based on the needs of our client when they come to us and we kind of talk about what they want to accomplish and what their competition is but we do that a little bit here and there.

Chris Badgett: Good deal. Well, what’s the best way for people to get ahold of you?

Scott Magdalein: They can just email me. [email protected] is the easiest way to get ahold of me.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, Scott Magdalein, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thanks for coming on the show, Scott. We’ll have to do it again some time.

Scott Magdalein: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Man.

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