SEO for Course Creators and Membership Site Owners with John Doherty of Credo

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This information-packed episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about SEO for course creators and membership site owners with John Doherty of Credo. Chris and John talk about the online teacher’s journey and how SEO is relevant and impactful for course creators. John shares his insights on SEO and how you can optimize the wording and links on your site in order to rank higher on search engines and receive more traffic. helps connect people with the different types of marketing needs they have, with SEO being a major one. John has been helping businesses looking for an SEO expert or content marketing help, and he assists them with multiple digital marketing channels. John has embarked on a journey to extend his assistance by teaching businesses not only how to get leads, but also how to close sales and retain clients.

Chris and John go into depth on the differences between marketing and sales. As they discuss, marketing is about getting your brand known and getting in front of the people that actually need it, and sales is the process of turning them into a paying customer and building a relationship.

Depending on the product or service you offer, you might not need a sales team. When you sell a cheap membership for around $29 per month there is a lot of churn, so a sales team may not be necessary there. But when you sell high-priced items to larger clients for $3,000 per month, then you will want to have a sales team to provide a personal touch to the product so customers feel more comfortable working with you.

Working with fewer high paying clients will generally be easier to manage, especially with a service, because you can build relationships with the people you work with and really get to know how you can help them. John and Chris dive into the benefits and drawbacks of working with few large clients versus many small clients.

It can sometimes be difficult to put prices on products or services where the return is not easily quantifiable. In cases like this you will generally want to find a balance between what the product is worth to the customers and what they can afford to pay. Chris and John talk about how to find the right price point with your product or service.

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and your ‘SEO value’ is the indicator of where you are likely to appear in the search results for search engines such as Google. The better your SEO is, meaning how well your keywords relate to the search, the more likely it is that the potential customer ends up clicking on your site.

John gives some expert tips on how you can improve your website’s SEO with internal linking and keyword content so you appear higher on search engines ranking systems. Chris and John talk about some of the tools out there you can use to improve your SEO and gather site analytics.

To learn more about John Doherty you can find him on Twitter at @DohertyJF and head over to to check out everything John and his team are working on there.

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 to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett from LifterLMS, and I’m joined today by a special guest John Doherty from Get Credo coming to us all the way from Denver, Colorado. We’re going to be talking today about the teacher’s journey, and what John is getting ready to embark on in the area of teaching sales. We’re also going to talk a lot about SEO and how that’s relevant and impactful for course creators who have some unique challenges. We’re just going to get into John’s story a little bit and really explore his journey. There’s so many lessons you can learn and insights about SEO especially. Grab a pen and paper and enjoy this conversation with John Doherty. Welcome to the show, John.
John Doherty: Chris, thanks for having me. It’s my pleasure to be here.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s great to be with you today. John and I had just met recently down in Cabo, Mexico, and in our conversations realized we had a lot in common. We both have a unique shared interest in the outdoors and climbing specifically. It’s a big part of my life, and one of the ways I stay balanced is just combining the outdoor with the digital world. We connected on that level. I’m kind of an SEO geek. I don’t have as much knowledge and wisdom as John has on the topic, but I really look forward to this conversation today about SEO and your journey. I’m super stoked to get into it.
John Doherty: Yeah. Let’s do it. As you said, I’ve been in SEO for a long time, about a decade of it, a decade of experience. I come from a family of educators, so that’s something that I’m passionate about and always looking to teach people what I know and kind of move in towards that in the future as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, I know you’re an SEO expert and your business, which people can see at, which helps connect people with the different types of marketing needs they have, SEO being a major one of those, but you’re kind of about to embark on a path in terms of teaching related to sales. Can you tell us like how that came about?
John Doherty: Yeah. I kind of see business and careers as a trajectory, right? Especially as an entrepreneur, we all take different steps. I don’t see it as you learn marketing, you get a marketing degree, you go into marketing and you stay in marketing until you retire. Some people do that and that’s fine for them. That’s not the path that I wanted to take. For the last couple of years I’ve been helping businesses that are looking for an SEO expert or content marketing help or an agency to help them out with multiple digital marketing channels. Basically learning about their project and getting them connected up with the right people.
Making those introductions and then basically helping them make the right decision for who to hire and all those things based off of their needs. As I’ve been doing that, my customer, the person that actually pays me is the agency. I realized that a lot of agencies are actually really, really bad at closing work and closing new clients. I’ve been wondering why that is and basically learned that a lot of people that started agencies, so especially in the digital marketing world, there are a lot of boutique agencies now with four to eight and then on up from there number of people working for them. Basically the founder is the one doing all the sales and they started their agency because they’re really good at marketing, but they’re not a salesperson.
One of the things I’ve been working with a lot of agencies on is basically tightening up their sales process and helping them sell better work and grow their agency that way. It’s not just about getting in new leads or new potential clients, but also actually closing it into work. I kind of see that as the natural next progression of my business. I don’t just want to be a lead generation company.
That can definitely be part of it and I’m trying to find someone to basically own that part of the business obviously with my oversight, but what I really want to do is I want to work with agencies to help them sell better work, retain their clients, all of those sorts of things because I have seven, eight years of experience working with clients and retaining clients and all of that. I’m very good at that. I want to help them out with that knowledge as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, let’s take a step back and can you define in your words what is the difference between marketing and sales.
John Doherty: That’s a great question. Marketing is basically getting your brand known or getting your product known, getting in front of the people that actually need it, and then sales is the process of closing them into a paying customer. It depends on the type of business that you have. Like the Software as a Service company, if you’re going towards the small business audience, then you’re probably not going to have a sales team, right? If someone can sign up and it’s $29 a month and all that, then you don’t need a sales team. Actually it doesn’t make sense to have someone helping on the phone with them for something that’s $29 a month especially since there’s a lot of churn in that sort of world.
However, if you’re selling to the enterprise and you’re selling $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 a month projects, that’s going to take a personal touch. People don’t just like give you their credit card for $2,000 a month project, right? That just doesn’t happen. Sales is actually hopping on the phone with them, learning more about their needs, what do they need, putting together that right project for them, making them comfortable that you can do the work, getting the contract signed. There’s just a lot more to it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, let’s bring that down to the course creator out there. Recently we released an add-on for LifterLMS called Private Areas, which allows people to do coaching through their website in addition to their courses and memberships. What people do is now they by giving that personalized attention and touch through coaching, they can charge a lot more for their courses plus coaching, but if we’re going to have a $2,000 product or something that’s very expensive on an ongoing monthly basis, what are some key sales things that people need to think about when their deal size goes up from like $100, $200 or $300 course to something much bigger? How’s it different?
John Doherty: There’s a lot that’s different to it. I mean I would actually say that’s interesting with course creators because that’s definitely like a value add-on, but what a lot of course creators don’t realize or what a lot of people that haven’t done a lot of consulting don’t realize is they’ll start selling it, start selling coaching, and then they’ll charge way too little for it. Then they end up having to do a ton of phone calls and that kind of thing. They’re not actually making that much more money, right? They have a ton more stress. They’re super exhausted at the end of the day. What I would actually say is use your course as basically lead generation for your coaching if that makes sense.
Your coaching can be something that you only offer to specific types of companies or something like. Anyone can sign up to your $200 SEO course, but if they actually want to get like your direct advice, then they’re going to have to pay a premium for it. You should also be selective about the kinds of people that you take on as a client. Just pricing yourself higher is going to price out a lot of the tire kickers, a lot of people that are going to be kind of a pain from a support perspective.
One thing I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years is the clients that are paying you more they’re going to be so much better and you’re going to have like such a better business and so much less stress and such a better life honestly than if you have 50 people paying you $200 a month, right? That’s 10 grand right there, which sounds great, but I would much rather have two people paying me five grand a month each because I can go a lot deep with them. I can put more time into it. I can add a lot more value to their business and they actually … They’re willing to invest the money in my expertise. That’s one thing that I would think about. However, it’s a lot harder to sell a $5,000 a month project than a …
I’m sorry. $5,000 a month project than a $200 a month engagement. You’re going to have to do a lot more around this is the experience that I have. This is how I can help you. These are the kinds of businesses that I’ve worked with. These are the kinds of things that we go through. This is what an engagement looks like. Basically spelling out every month we’re going to do a phone call. On the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month it’s going to be an hour. This is the homework that I’m going to give you and this is basically what the end goal is. People, they need to know exactly what they’re going to get out of it at the end versus someone …
$200, a lot of people, a lot of business owners are going to be like, “200 bucks? What do I have to lose,” right, verus like it’s a $5,000 project, they know that they have to take it seriously and you have to take it more seriously as well.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about pricing a little bit. A lot of people listening to us right now, they’re experts first. They’re marketing, salesperson, technologists second. They come with this expertise and they’re trying to get it online. They’re trying to do it at scale. If we’re going to look at doing coaching upsell on top of our course, how do we think about pricing? How do we find that price point and how do we get comfortable with a higher price point? Just to make the question even harder for you, there’s like three main areas that people come from, which is health, business and relationships. Is your advice, would it change depending which sub niche somebody’s in inside of one of those buckets or would it stay the same?
John Doherty: Yeah, totally. Those are great questions. I mean we could talk for hours about this. There are whole conferences about this sort of thing. Starting from your last question and working my way back, the strategy definitely changes. How much you can charge depends off of how much the upside, right? I do some SEO consulting. I have a couple of clients. They pay me well, high four figures, low five figures a month. The upside that they have like I’ve literally made … One of my clients, I’ve made them an extra $50 million this year, 5-0, right? I know that if we drive an additional 100,000 visitors, it’s going to mean this much more money for them every single month, right?
I can basically like ballpark how much they should be willing to pay and can sell directly to that, right?
Chris Badgett: Let me ask you a question on that point. Do you like that as a general rule like a 10X return or 100X? If you’re going to pay me $1,000, what I’d give you is going to be able to generate $10,000 based on what I’m teaching or doing for you or like 100X. Is there a multiple that you’ve seen make sense in terms of cost versus the ROI, the value on the other side?
John Doherty: Yeah. It’s a great question. Let me speak to my own business. With Credo, I try to get every … Every agency that I have in my platform that’s paying me basically four leads you could say, I try to get them a 10X return every month. That’s kind of my goal. If they’re paying let’s say $2,000 a month, I try to introduce them to $40,000 worth of work with the goal that they close half of that, right? Then they get a 10X return on that. Part of it as well is you also need to find out from your client or from your potential client what they’re expecting. This is where sales comes in and you can say like, “Okay. Normally I work with someone and they pay me $1,000, I make them $10,000. You get a 10X return.”
If they’re expecting to pay you $1,000 and make $100,000, maybe they’re expectations are set wrong. You either need to recalibrate their expectations or you just need to say like, “I’m sorry. We’re not a good fit because for what you’re willing to pay, your business isn’t set up to be able to make you that.” I think that’s part of it right there. You need to get deeper into can you do the work, can you sign them and what’s actually going to be a successful engagement for them and for you. I don’t want to take on a client that we’re not going to have a successful engagement and they’re going to be leave me a glowing review and I’m also not going to learn things, right?
All of that is important to me and I also have to have the skills that I can grow their business. Same as someone teaching a course, right? There’s also part of how you sell it too. There’s part of how you market it where after you run through it a couple times, you’ve done launches and keeping in touch with them, getting feedback on what resonated, what didn’t, but then what did they implement and what did they see from that. Then you can say, “People that take this course and implement the things that I tell them to do end up making a 20X return on average,” or something like that and having testimonials and building that trust through there.
As I was talking about earlier, it’s kind of a compounding effect where it’s not just like a one and done launch and all of a sudden you’re retired on a beach in Bali, right? That’s not how it works. You have to do this again and again. You’re iterating. Going back to the pricing question, as you learn just how much you’re making people, how great of a return they’re getting, if you’re charging $200 for lifetime value to the course and the average person is making $40,000, you’re charging way too little, right? If you can tell someone that you’re going to make them $40,000, they should be willing to pay you $2,000 to $3,000 for that, right? Raising your prices over time eventually you hit a cap.
Then you kind of figure out where their price sensitivity is or what you need to show them. Asking them, “Okay, you’re willing to pay me $500. What would you want to get out of this course in order to pay me $2,000?” You’re going to learn so much about what you can add in order to raise your prices and end up making more money and making them a better return as well.
Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s awesome. Well, I can’t wait to dig into your sales eBook. I always appreciate talking to someone with such great wealth of knowledge around sales. Let me throw you another hard question at you. What if I’m trying for premium pricing, but the return is not quantifiable? Let’s say it’s some kind of relationship or health course where there’s not like a monetary return, but maybe a quality of life return. How do you sell that? Is it any different than like just straight up business ROI or is it really the same thing, different terms?
John Doherty: That’s a great question. I mean basically at the end of the day, if someone is paying you for something, they’re expecting something in return, right? Then you have to ask what is that worth to them and also ask them what is it worth. I have a friend that we actually lived in Switzerland together over a decade ago now. Now she is a very well-known basically relationship coach in New York City and she charges a lot of money. I mean she worked with billionaires helping them sort out why their past marriages failed and helping them have a successful relationship moving forward.
Yeah, they’re billionaires and so like they’re willing to pay her a lot of money, but she basically has this built up that like if you really care about this, if you really care about finding a mate, becoming the person that is the right kind of mate for the kind of person that you want to attract, then this is the work that we need to do. This is time that we need to spend and people are willing … Basically figure out like once again where is their price sensitivity. Are they willing to pay $100 for that? If so, what can you give them? Do you even want to work on that level or do you need to find the people that are willing to pay $10,000 a month for the next six months in order to find the mate that they want to have for their rest of their lives?
Really it comes down to who is your customer, how much is this advice worth to them and part of that customer is like how much do they make and what time do they have and where are they located and all of those things. You’ll learn as you go. Maybe you start off with, I don’t know, $200 an hour. You’re doing like hour long phone calls with them and you realize that actually I want to scale this up and this advice is worth way more to them. This is something a lot of people don’t think about with sales, Chris, is your potential new customer or new client doesn’t know what your other clients are paying you, right? People often forget that. You know that your client’s paying you $200 an hour.
What if you pitch this new one on $500 an hour? If they say yes, then you know that there are people out there that are willing to pay $500 an hour. How do you find more of those, right? Then the next one, pitch them $800 an hour. If people are willing to pay, great. If they’re not, why not? You can keep leveling up your pricing that way. It comes back to whose your customer, what are they expecting to get out of it and what is that worth to them?
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I love that advice about just being scientific and testing hypothesis and just being comfortable with experimenting with your pricing and moving it up and seeing what happens. That’s just part of sales and evolution of business and pricing. I really appreciate you doing that.
John Doherty: Totally. It’s also you can take a scientific approach to raising. It’s not just like, “Oh, I’m going to raise my prices from $200 to $400 and see what happens,” but only raising your prices to $400 when you found out that people are making a 40X return on what they’re paying you. How do you make that a 10X return, right? They’re still making as much money, but they’re paying you a bit more for it. Once again it’s getting that feedback from your current customers about what is this actually worth to them and then ball parking where it should be.
Once again ask for that question of okay, you paid me $200, what would it have taken ahead of time for you to be willing to pay me $1,000 for the same type of return and really listening that feedback and building your marketing that way.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I have a whole on pricing. It seems like the Holy Grail of it all is priceless, what MasterCard sells. You need it for these priceless thing like the ability to walk your daughter down the aisle or see your grandchild born. If it’s a health course or whatever, somethings are so valuable you can’t even attach a price tag on it and then the question becomes well, who is my target market, what can they actually afford? I mean there is ultimately a price, but there are things out there that are kind of intangible. They are extremely valuable to people. I love the conversation around pricing. Well, let’s talk a little bit about some of your skills in SEO. Course creators, membership site builders, they have this big problem.
There’s two problems. One of them is and correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is when your course content is behind a log in or a member’s area or whatever, it’s not really indexed. Even if it is, it’s not going to like rank in the search results. Then the other problem that course creators have from an SEO perspective is it takes a lot of work to build a really quality course and membership site and learning experience and coaching program. That sometimes creating a bunch of indexable free content it’s a challenge of capacity for somebody who’s already that busy with the learning content. It’s private. Let’s get some SEO advice to those two challenges.
John Doherty: Yeah, totally. I have a couple of pieces of advice for this. One is first things first, I mean your content is what you’re selling, right? You’re logged in course content is what you’re selling. That has to be amazing and having amazing content like that and having customers that are really happy, that are getting a great return from it, that’s going to be your best marketing because other people are going to want to tell their friends about it. If you have a course that teach people how to make like, I don’t know, vegan food, just as an example, then … The vegan community is like … What’s the joke about like the only people that’ll tell you more about their lifestyle than people that do CrossFit are vegans.
Something like that. My point there is like that’s not a knock on vegans at all, but they’re a passionate, passionate community just like the CrossFit community, right? If you can nail that group and really teach them what they need to know, then they’re going to tell their friends about it. That’s great. You absolutely have to start there. Once you have that content there and you have your different lessons and that sort of thing all logged in and there’s actually something to that that I’d like to touch on. I was talking about this with Joe Casabona, who was in Cabo with us, where basically he’s teaching people how to like make websites and make WordPress themes and that sort of thing.
Within SEO there’s this idea of keyword research, right? Basically you can use Google AdWords tool or Moz is a very well-known software tool in the SEO community. They have this thing called Keyword Explorer. It’s like where basically you can do research into terms that people are searching for and see how many times per month they’re being searched for. The higher the volume is, often the more competitive it is, but you can also get more traffic and it’s going to be worth more potentially. One thing that I advise Joe to do is go search for like people searching how to create a WordPress theme, how to build a website on WordPress or how to use LifterLMS to create …
How to create a membership and then basically funneling people down into that. Create your course first. You can use that keyword research as well to inform the lessons that you’re creating. Then once you’ve done that, then I recommend going back and yes, it does take lot of time to create awesome content and provide this great experience and do the coaching and all of those things, but once you’ve created it, then you basically have an evergreen asset in order to sell again and again and again. Obviously you’re going to have to update it over time, but it’s relatively evergreen. Then you can go back and the time that you were spending creating that course, you can now actually use to build landing pages.
I say build landing pages that don’t give away the secret sauce, but create a landing page. If you’re teaching how to build a WordPress theme, you can do the keyword research around like what are the simple files I have to include in a WordPress theme. You have lesson about that. You have a sign up button at the bottom, “In this lesson you will learn about the eight different types of templates that you need within a WordPress theme,” and all this different stuff. You can go back. I would just go back and very systematically try to get out one or two a week, dedicated landing pages, logged out landing pages, about the different lessons that you have that have been informed by keyword research.
Then over time those will rank and you get someone in to … If they’re looking for how to build a WordPress theme, then you have a whole course about that, but also like smaller pieces. Then you can play around with even different pricing, right? Like maybe they don’t want to know how to create a whole WordPress theme, but they want to learn about a specific thing within WordPress development. You can charge them one-off for that lesson as opposed to making them pay $199 for the whole course, right? That opens up a lot for you as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s get clear on some terms. In terms of landing pages, could that just be a blog post? Define the term for the non-marketer out there. When you say landing page, what do you mean?
John Doherty: Yeah, totally. It could be a blog post, but in this case these are more like conversion oriented pages. Obviously wihtin WordPress, there’s ideas of and taxonomies of your pages and your posts, right? Posts are often like blog posts. Pages are like dedicated pages that you have to link to from your navigation or something like that. I would actually say build these out as pages within WordPress specifically. You could start with like yoga Just in general like your That’s your WordPress theme, right? That could be like your learn to build a WordPress theme course and then off of that, you can have that as like your parent. Then you can have the child of how to …
The files that you need and hosting and whatever the lessons are that you have there. Within each of those, having content about this is what this specific lesson is about and having a call to action at the bottom, sign up or information about how much it cost and all of that. Those are basically like your product pages, right? You don’t want to post as your product page. Like actually build a dedicated page around that. Then post some more like free information about how to build topics basically around the information that you’re teaching. You can go a lot deeper with WordPress themes for example. Give away some free recipes or whatever it is that you’re teaching people about.
Chris Badgett: That’s super cool. I’m going to give one tip and then I’m going to hit you up for some free SEO advice. My one tip is if those of you listening are using LifterLMS to build your courses, we have the ability to mark a lesson as what we call free and open. That’s a lesson that somebody can easily view. It is indexable by the search engines. They don’t have to log in to see it. It’s kind of like the free cookie at the cookie counter. It’s like a free soup that people can try. As one tactic, I always recommend people giving away two of their best lessons for SEO purposes, but also just to build trust and show that you got the goods in advance of asking for a log in or money.
John Doherty: My tip with that, Chris, is and maybe you’ve taken this into account because you’ve studied SEO as well, but making sure that you’re linking to those lessons that you’re giving away, those public lessons. Making sure you’re linking to those from other pages on your website. Because if they’re just orphans, they’re not being linked to from anywhere else, they’re just not going to rank, right? They might not even get indexed. If they’re on your site maps, then they probably will get indexed, but they’re not going to rank for anything substantial. Make sure that you’re linking to them from blog posts and the sidebar of your blog. Maybe your top navigation if it makes sense as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s great. Correct me if this is the wrong term, but is that called deep linking where when you’re writing about something, you link to something else inside your website? Is that what that is?
John Doherty: Yeah. That’s one of the terms that can be used for it. I just call it internal linking. You’re just making sure you’re linking from other relevant pages to it.
Chris Badgett: Okay. Well, the part where I hit you up for free advice is another strategy for course creators. This is something I do for LifterLMS, which is a software, not necessarily courses. I have a podcast that we’re doing right now. I send the audio files. They get transcribed. All these words we’re using and phrases become keyword phrases that get indexed and then the podcast kind of sits like at the top of our funnel where people who are searching for things like SEO for course creators or how to price my course or how to add coaching to an online course, all these like phrases it would take forever to write articles about all this, but it’s not that difficult …
For me anyways, it’s more time efficient to talk to smart people like you and get great content out there and then just do some best practices. I send it through to something called They transcribe it. My team helps with the post to go and the podcast episode and it gets syndicated to iTunes and all over Stitcher Radio and everywhere. I think course creators especially since they’re focused on a topic, that means they could potentially have a podcast around that topic and interview other experts or even run a solo show if that’s their thing. What do you think about that idea or any other ways to optimize that idea?
John Doherty: I like it. I actually do the same thing. I’ve been producing a series of videos and interviews just like this on the Credo site as well with like well-known marketers talking about entrepreneurship and ads and technical SEO and enterprise SEO and what have you. The goal there is to rank for some of those keywords. I think that’s a great way to do it and another kind of interesting content as well, right? I think the interesting thing there is you have this podcast, VideoCast, whatever you want to call it. The audio goes out, but then we’re also talking about it. People can see you. They can get to know Chris Badgett, right? They start to come to see you as an authority on the space on course creation.
Even though you already are, but now they actually realize it. Rand Fishkin did the same thing with Moz where he started doing Whiteboard Friday where it’s a video every week. He’s been doing it for like 10 years now and that really built his name as a SEO expert. He is very good at SEO, but that’s what really help build his name. You can use these videos as basically building trust with your potential audience where it’s not just like … Erin Flynn was in Cabo with us, right, and so she teaches online courses. It’s not just like, “Oh, I’m going to but this WordPress course by this woman named Erin,” it’s, “No, I’m going to buy this from Eric Flynn who I know who does these great interviews, and I’ve seen her talking about this stuff. I trust her.
I know she’s going to be able to teach me what I need to know.” That can be a great way to do it. One other tip around SEOs specifically is I like what you’re doing, putting out the video, doing the transcript that gets indexable. You need content on the page. I do the same thing. I use Speechpad instead of Rev, but I’ve heard great things about Rev. One of the things I recommend doing is publish the post. Promote it everywhere. Get your audience to promote it as well. Get your community to promote it. Then some months later I would actually recommend going back to Search Console, Google Search Console. You don’t really see organic keywords in Analytics anymore, but they show them to you in Search Console.
Go back and actually drill down to those posts, like the video interviews that you did and all that, and see what your actually getting impressions for on those posts, right? You might be doing content creation or SEO for content creators as the title of this episode that we’re doing, but maybe you’re also going to start getting impressions for like sales for course creators and exactly the examples that you were giving. Maybe you’re ranking middle of the second page, middle of the third page. You’re not going to get any traffic for that, but a couple of people have seen it. Then the question becomes okay, what’s the search volume of this term?
I would recommend using a Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere where basically within Search Console it doesn’t tell you the search volume, but if you use Keyword Everywhere, it puts the search volume right next to it within Search Console. It’s super cool and you can say, “Okay. This is actually a high traffic term that people are willing to pay money for with ads. That means it’s going to convert.” Then go and create another episode or write a blog post or create a course around that, right?
That’s another way to kind of identify what are the terms that Google or yeah, specifically Google in this case, things that your website is relevant for and then you can go and create dedicated pages, dedicated content around those terms to rank on the first page and drive traffic for those terms as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That is worth the price of admission, folks. John just threw out a lot of knowledge bombs there. I love how you put on the scientific hat and be like, “Okay. That’s great we’re doing these best practices, but let’s go see what’s happening in Google. What pages are actually ranking and then if we want to optimize, let’s double down on what we’re ranking for,” which is always not actually what we thought it was going to be. I mean every time I’ve done any kind of SEO research I’m surprised. I’m like, “Oh, it’s that thing over there.” I know that this podcast is one of the number one things when I ask somebody, “How you’d hear about us?” They’re like, “Oh, I saw a video or I heard you on a podcast.”
I know that that is like big, but I’m not really looking at like where is the majority of the traffic coming to into that piece of the funnel. That’s a really great insight. I appreciate that.
John Doherty: Yeah, absolutely. Then just how you expand it, right? That’s the proactive part of SEO. It’s not just like blindly creating content by taking that data-driven approach to it. It doesn’t have to be dry like keyword stuffed content, right? You can actually write like really interesting content around these keywords and that’s what the search engines wants you to do anyways and that’s the kind of stuff they want to rank.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, what do you recommend for SEO as people go through the various phases of business? I’m a side hustle and I’m just starting out, I have no resources versus okay, I’m making money, I can hire a part-time SEO help, what do I do, and then somebody who’s doing really well and I’m like, “I’m ready to scale. I’m ready to pay to play.” Can you talk to those three levels a little bit?
John Doherty: Yeah, totally. I mean everyone has to start somewhere, right? I had a point in my life where I didn’t know what SEO was. I was hearing about like search engine friendly URLs was like 2008. I was developing on the JUMO platform. I was like I have no clue what these are. Everyone has to start somewhere. I would actually say if you’re a course creator, it’s a side hustle, you’re just getting starting, you’re trying to figure out how do you build an audience, if you want to learn about SEO, I would say the best place to go is still to … The very first stuff that you learn, type Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Search that in Google. It’s on Moz.
It’ll come up first and basically it’s like a 10 to 12 page dive into SEO to give you a primer on like what do we mean by URLs and what do we mean by keyword research and what do we mean by all these different things. Start there. There’s a PDF version that they offer. I would say download that. Download that. Print it off. When I first started in SEO, when I got my first full-time job in SEO in 2010, I walked in on my first day. My boss had a PDF copy of that printed off on my desk. I carried that thing with me for the next year in my backpack. I’d be at a laundromat in Philadelphia where I was living at the time and I’d be reading this. It’s all marked up. I think I still have it.
I need to find it, but like that’s how I got started learning SEO, right? Reading Moz and reading Search Engine Land and these other sites. Learn as much as you can. Find the people to follow on Twitter. The SEO community is super active on Twitter. People share a lot of stuff there. I would say start off there and educate yourself as much as you can. Especially around like WordPress SEO, LifterLMS mostly is just WordPress at this point, right? Yoast, Joost de Valk is the founder, Yoast is like the most well-known and honestly in my opinion the best SEO plug-in for WordPress. They have a phenomenal guide there. Glen Allsopp of ViperChill have great guides to WordPress SEO. Go read those. Absolutely you have to read those.
Then as you move the chain and you have more money to spend on it, you’re starting to see more traffic coming in. You’re getting more conversions. You’re making more money. If you want to go deeper, I would actually recommend … My old agency, Distilled,, they have this thing called DistilledU where basically we built out a training that we always wanted to see that we wish we had had. It’s like 40 bucks a month. Pay for it for a few months. Go through it and learn all about. There’s like interactive quizzes and that sort of thing. It’s a super cool platform. Spend 80 bucks, 120 bucks and get an SEO education from some of the best.
Then from there as you’ve grown, if you have a six figure course, multiple six figures course and you basically want an expert to get a perspective on it, you can go to like and hop on the phone for an hour and pay someone by the minute to chat with you about SEO. If you actually want someone to get in and do a deep technical SEO on it, keyword research, help you put together a content strategy, maybe even help you execute on that content strategy, come talk to me. Shameless plug, Get Credo. Fill out the form there and let’s chat about what you need. We mostly help people that have thousand plus dollars a month to spend on something like, but if you can spend …
Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month and it helps you increase your organic traffic by 10,000 visits a month or 20,000 visits a month, that’s the gift that keeps on giving. You’re going to keep making that money even after you stop working with someone. There are multiple things you can spend. You can spend time. You can spend money. You can spend expertise. You’re spending some combination of those. If you don’t have money, you’re going to spend time. If you don’t have time, you’re going to have to spend money. It just depends on the phase that you’re at.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I really like that. For those of you listening, having a solid SEO person like John on your bench is so worth it if you can afford it. I happen to be an SEO geek and I kind of get into it, but most people aren’t in my experience. They don’t want to go deep or once they figure out something, they don’t necessarily want to implement it because SEO, it takes an interesting mind. If you can find an SEO partner to work with like John and his team and people John recommends, I highly recommend it, but before you do all that, I think it’s well worth it to just spend a couple days or a month or two just getting the fundamentals.
Because once you understand the fundamentals, those things naturally create better content, name things better, write better headlines, all these things that help the way you title the images you put on your website. All these things add up and you just get a few best practices that can really move the needle because most people don’t do those things.
John Doherty: You also know how to hire for it I think is the thing. You know the questions to ask. If someone’s talking to you about keyword density, which was like a pretty industry accepted thing back in the day and now it’s like complete bonk, right? If someone’s talking to you about like the keyword density of your articles, you know not to hire them because they’re like super old school or they’re not actually going to move the needle for you. Just to give a quick example of that, I don’t think SEO is that hard to learn. Getting it implemented can be hard. Especially if you’re not a developer, it can be hard. I recently spoke with a woman that she’s also a relationship coach. All these relationship coaches. I’m happily married.
She was telling me about she basically had about 5,000-6,000 visits a month, something like that, from search. She went and she watched basically all of Rand’s Whiteboard Friday videos. Devoured the Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Read as much as she could and she went back like reoptimized a lot of her content and then created new content as well. In the last five months she’s taken her traffic from 5,000-6,000 visits a month from organic to like 27,000-28,000 a month just on her own. She’s a relationship coach. She’s not an SEO, right? She got the basics right. It’s definitely possible to move the needle on your site to get more traffic in business from SEO without being an SEO expert.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, for those of you listening, if you want to connect with John, go find out more at That’s G-E-T-C-R-E-D-O. Where are you at on Twitter, John?
John Doherty: I’m @DohertyJF. D-O-H-E-R-T-Y, which is my last name, J-F, John Francis. That’s actually the best way to reach me. I’m on Twitter a lot and I try to respond to everyone. Yeah, that’s the best place. Then if you want to chat about this sort of stuff and you’re looking for someone, my email is just my first name at Feel free to shoot me an email. Tell me you heard me on the LMSCast and happy to chat.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, John, for coming on the show and sharing your story with us. We wish you all the best in your sales training work that you’re getting into.
John Doherty: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate it. I’m really glad I met you all in Cabo because I was looking for a good LMS. I’m definitely going to give LifterLMS a look.
Chris Badgett: Awesome.

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