In this episode of SEO 101, the hosts interview a special guest, and long time friend, Stephan Spencer. Stephan describes his journey into SEO and the great strides it has taken. He shares excellent tips on everything from link building to digital PR, artificial intelligence for SEO, and much more.

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Here is a transcription of the episode for your convenience.


Ross: Hello and welcome to SEO 101 on, episode number 399. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my co-host is John Carcutt, the director of SEO for Advance Local. Today, we have a special guest for you. We are interviewing Stephan Spencer, co-author of The Art of SEO, author of Google Power Search, founder of Netconcepts, and a business coach, whom I actually have had the luck of working with. Welcome Stephan, how are you doing today?

Stephan: Hey, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ross: My pleasure. We’ve had you on before and they’ve always been great episodes and some of our best downloads, in fact. It’s great to have you back.

Stephan: I’m competing against myself then, is that what you’re saying?

Ross: You are. You and John Mueller.

Ross: Yeah.

Stephan: Okay, bring it on.

Ross: John’s on today, it’s a shock.

John: John’s here. I finally had an open window to just jump in on the show again. It’s been very busy.

Ross: Well, I’m glad everyone—

John: But I wasn’t going to miss talking to Stephan.

Ross: You said it. (Ross is referring to the incorrect pronunciation of Stephan’s name: StephAN, not StephAHN)

John: I said it, didn’t I?

Stephan: We can let you say it, again. Try it again.

John: Yes, I’m not going to miss having a chance to talk with Stephan.

Stephan: Thank you. Nailed it that time. Good for you.

Ross: Stephan, we’ve known each other a long time but you’ve been an SEO since mid, late ‘90s, and I think maybe even before us. Tell us a little bit about how much things have changed. It’s been quite a journey for you.

Stephan: It has. It’s been a journey for all of us. I went on this wild ride that wasn’t just an internet business journey, it was a personal transformation journey too. I’ll get to that in a minute, but from an internet marketing perspective, things have changed a lot. I remember using WebPosition Gold and thinking, this is really stupid—having to make a separate version for every one of these search engines of the same page or content just feels really icky to me, and wasteful and stupid. I just did not like doing that and didn’t do much of it because they hated it so much.

Thankfully, that was something that just became irrelevant when Google came along. Actually, when BackRub came along, which then became Google—can you believe that was the name of Google before?

John: Well, college kids in their dorm rooms are going to name things funny names.

Stephan: I just fell in love with Google and wanted to figure out how to reverse engineer it. At the time, we were building e-commerce websites as the primary business, but baking SEO into those websites became a mission of ours and for me in particular. Then I realized that there are a lot of other websites out there and bigger businesses who would never hire a small agency to build an e-commerce site for them because maybe it’s huge brands like or something. We wanted to offer audits and standalone SEO consultancy services beyond just baking it into an e-commerce website build. That was back in 2000 or 2001.

Gosh, it’s been a long road. There’ve been a lot of Google updates. It’s not about chasing after the latest update. It’s like driving a car using only the rearview mirror if that’s the case. My step forward into future-proofing your online business, your website would involve things like AI and scalable strategies. Things, of course, need to be pearly white hat, not just a pretty white hat. It needs to be super white, and stuff that you’re comfortable sharing with Google engineers and saying here’s what I’m doing.

If there’s anything you’re at all not comfortable with, you should re-evaluate. If it’s not something you are happy to show off to a Google engineer or be happy for your competitor to discover when they’re reverse engineering what you’re up to in terms of SEO, then you should re-evaluate it.

John: You’ve mentioned reverse engineering a lot in the first couple of minutes of this. How big a part of your career has reverse engineering been? It sounds like it’s a big chunk of it.

Stephan: Yeah. I figured out at a pretty early stage in my business career that I could, not just reverse engineer Google’s algorithm, but put a middleware layer between my client’s website and the greater internet. Thus, I could search and replace real-time things that were not search engine optimized on the core website, but I would like to search engine optimize it and serve it up. I needed a proxy middleware layer in order to do that because if I were to do that on let’s say, Blue Martini. If you remember that platform, it would take many months and maybe $1 million to implement the SEO changes that I wanted to see on the live site.

So I invented a reverse proxy technology back in 2003, called it Gravity Stream. That actually became the majority revenue-producing component or part of the agency. It was a big reason why I was able to sell the agency in 2010. It’s because that was, like I said, the majority revenue was performance-based pricing.

We had a client, for example, Zappos, we charge seven figures in pay-for-performance spend in a year’s time because we were generating that much value for them. We charge on a cost-per-click basis, $0.15 a click. Everybody wanted to sign up because who doesn’t want to pay-for-performance? If you don’t get the performance, you don’t get the value, you don’t pay for it.

John: If we bring that back down to our core audience—which is really people that are just learning about SEO, just trying to understand how to get better at SEO—what can they do at their level? What kind of things would make sense for them to try to reverse engineer without these big multi-million dollar tools? Is there something they can do as new people to really help them leverage it?

Stephan: Totally. I’ll give you, just off the cuff, some examples here. Just doing a simple Google search can help you to reverse engineer, let’s say, what BuzzFeed is doing in order to get so many links and so many click-throughs, it’s the hook and the headline. That’s their secret sauce. They pick really good images, they write the articles well and come up with great quizzes and all that as well. But really, it starts with the hook and then the headline.

If you want to reverse engineer what they’re doing as inspiration to write your own link-worthy viral content so that you can get links like they get, you might put in your topic plus as a Google search and see what comes up as the articles and the headlines. If you want to get a little fancier with it, you could do intitle: and then the topic. There’s no space after the colon, by the way, so intitle:plumbing and then

It’s so simple and yet you’re R&D-ing—essentially ripping off and duplicating. Like I said, using it as inspiration, not copy and paste. Let’s actually do that,, and then intitle:plumbing or vice versa. It doesn’t matter the order. You can do intitle: first or site: first. Seven Expert Plumbing Tips to Keep in Mind this Thanksgiving, The Race is on for Plumbing at the Push of a Button. What was that one?

Ross: Plumbing and Thanksgiving, interesting.

John: Yeah, that was kind of blowing me away too. Wait a minute, the only plumbing I’m worried about with thanksgiving is the aftermath, but that’s beside the point.

Stephan: Anyway. You get the idea that you can find for whatever topic it is, unless it’s super, super niche. Let’s say you want to write about hurricanes, intitle:hurricane or intitle:hurricanes, and then is my favorite go-to place to reverse engineer what they’re doing in terms of their hooks and headlines, but there’s also Viralnova, Distractify, Bored Panda, Upworthy. There are a lot of these viral sites that get tons and tons of traffic and you just are looking for inspiration.

First, you got to identify the topic, so whatever that keyword entity is that you’re going to chase after. Then you have to figure out what’s the hook. What makes this so irresistible that somebody has to click to read this? You want to increase the tension that the reader has when they see that headline—whether it’s a Google search, it’s in their Facebook news feed, in their Twitter, or wherever else. They’re seeing something that they feel compelled to click on because there’s tension. There’s a curiosity gap, and if they click then that tension gets relieved. It’s like, okay I get to relieve that tension.

But you don’t want to just give it all away in the first paragraph of the article. You want to keep some tension going so they’ll continue, keep reading, and go to the end of the article. Tension or curiosity.

Ross: Timing is key as well. If there’s news right now about a pending hurricane, perfect timing. Write something about that, and that’s part of the reason—

Stephan: Yeah. Although I’m a little reticent to go chase after stuff that’s newsworthy at the moment because then it’s ephemeral and it becomes obsolete very quickly. Something that was covered at CES in January is no longer news of the moment. It only has traction for maybe a couple of weeks after the show. It’s lost its link worthiness and buzz worthiness. I like your stuff that’s more evergreen.

If I’m checking, let’s say, doing that BuzzFeed search, or I’m using a tool called BuzzSumo to see what’s viral and hot in terms of buzz worthiness. I’m going to look for stuff that has an evergreen staying power. That’s my recommendation.

In fact, if you have something that you call a blog, you might even change the positioning of it and call it a learning center, an academy, a university, a training library, or something, and restructure it so it’s not just reverse chronological order. Because the stuff that’s two months old just doesn’t feel all that compelling anymore versus the last month’s or even the last week’s content.

What if you wrote something three months ago that’s the best piece of content that’s on your site? You’re giving it a demotion by putting it in reverse chronological order and then having it on page two or three in the archives.

Ross: The example I would have given in what I was mentioning there was if there was a hurricane, you would write an article like this one from BuzzFeed—22 Pictures from the Most Destructive Hurricanes in US History. Not only does it work timely, but also has an evergreen style. I mean, this is the kind of thing if people are typing in hurricanes, this is a good chance of getting links to it and also being a place that people can go back to on a regular basis. As it’s shown here, it’s doing quite well. They’ve also included a lot of locations in it like the Galveston hurricane. They’ve used terms, category IV storm—all these things that people tend to do searches for. Something I’ve found is helpful.

Stephan: Yeah. If you want to lighten the mood and not have something that’s so destructive, deadly, and depressing because that’s not super viral. It’s like I totally want to share something that’s really sad. You might find something like hurricane funny, might be the phrase or the two keywords that you put in, and see what comes up there. I especially like using this for finding images to incorporate into the article.

After I figured out the topic, then I figured out what the hook is, and then I figured out the headline and what kind of words go in that, I look for really compelling, evocative, or provocative adjectives and adverbs. Thirteen Chillingly Haunted Hotels in New England or something might be an example where chilling would be the spicy word there that really makes it much more of a compelling headline. Or which Cities should You Actually Live In? Take The Quiz, actually is the […] makes you want to click. If you don’t have it, it’s just not as spicy. Which City Should I Live In? Take The Quiz.

John: Can you talk about the integration between targeting something from an SEO perspective and then applying these spicy adjectives and trying to make it more—I hate to use this word but it’s just kind of what you’re describing, especially since you’re using BuzzFeed—clickbaity?

Stephan: Yeah, I was afraid you were going to use the word clickbait. The problem with the word clickbait is it assumes that it’s over-promising and under-delivering, and I want to do the opposite. I want to under-promise and over-deliver. Number six is like ho-hum. I don’t like clickbait because of that. I do like articles that are remarkable. I’m using Seth Godin’s definition of remarkable to say that it’s worthy of remark.

In the Purple Cow by Seth Godin, he talks about how you drive down this country road, you see cows in the pastures, your family’s in the car, and everybody just got their heads on their phone. Nobody pays attention, nobody cares about all those cows. But a purple cow on the side of the road, stop the car. Everybody get out. Let’s get photos, selfies, videos. Let’s upload it to Instagram and all that.

That is what you’re aiming for in order to get great links pointing to your site. Now you could have a piece of content that has absolutely nothing to do with your target area of focus or your industry. Your business could be cute puppy Monday and you’re a plumber. That’s okay. It’s not ideal. I would prefer that you are at least tangentially related to your topic, with your viral content, but having it more remarkable is going to insure or at least increase the odds that you are going to get links. That’s the currency. If you don’t have links, you’re dead in the water. You’re invisible.

John: I’m really glad that I did say clickbait because I know there are people in our audience who are thinking the same thing. I really appreciate your explanation because it makes a ton of sense.

Ross: Okay, let’s take a quick break and when we come back—there are so many questions. We’ll be right back.

Welcome back to SEO 101 on hosted by John Carcutt, the director of SEO for Advance Local, and myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc. We’re joined today by Stephan Spencer, co-author of the Art of SEO, author of Google Power Search, founder of NetConcepts and an awesome business coach.

You mentioned pearly white hat, but I’m curious, what about link building? I know you mentioned great content that attracts links. Ideally, that’s what everyone’s doing. But these days, I know—obviously, because we’re in the market and we talked a lot of people about—that link building—in terms of outreach, all of that is still very, very prominent. What are your thoughts on that or your feelings about it?

Stephan: It’s important. It’s important to be proactive. You can’t just reactively sit back and think, well, I wonder who’s going to link to me today. Who does that? Who wakes up and says I got to figure out what plumber I’m going to write about on my blog today? I wonder if it’ll be XYZ. It just doesn’t work that way.

If you were trying to get written up in a newspaper, you wouldn’t just sit back and hope that journalists will come knocking on your door, metaphorically speaking. You’re going to pitch them. You’re going to maybe hire a public relations professional who’s going to make pitches and wine and dine these journalists, TV producers, and so forth. If you don’t do that you can’t expect any coverage, so no press for you. No soup for you.

If you are going to do this in a totally white hat way, you’re going to treat it like it’s PR. You’re not going to try and buy bloggers off and say I’ll pay you $50, or I’ll send you a bunch of free stuff if you cover my product. That just feels icky. Again, I wouldn’t—if I were you and if you’re doing that—want to share this with a Google engineer and just say I just got some links and you know what? All I had to do was give $500 worth of my product away to all these guys and gals and boom, I got 50 links. Isn’t that amazing? Aren’t you proud of me, Google engineer? Yeah, what was your URL again?

Ross: Doing that kind of outreach is important. What tools do you use to do that?

Stephan: I love Pitchbox, It’s amazing. It is enterprise level. It’s great for agencies. It’s just the only tool that I would consider using to do outreach en masse. I’m not saying spamming en masse. I mean laser-focused, but doing it in a way that is scalable and not copy, paste, send. Oh, shoot. Did I forget to change their name? Oh, shoot. I just sent Barbara and called her John, darn it.

You can’t unsend that so you want to use a tool. Not just for mail merge capabilities but for tracking, pipeline management, workflow, and all that sort of stuff. If you had a tool that could prospect for the bloggers and journalists based on keywords that you put in. And you could feed it templates that could base the email outreach on, but then you could combine different bits of data that you’ve collected and maybe even hand-finessed or have somebody do that part of it for you, what some outreach folks call back-filling.

On top of that, you could have it automatically do a follow up with those folks who didn’t respond and show you on pipeline reports who did respond, who’s waiting for your response, who’s out of the office or gave an auto-response reply, etcetera. That’s pretty darn cool. That’s exactly what Pitchbox allows you to do. You could say, all right, I want to follow up twice, we’ll follow up after 10 days, then we’ll follow up again another seven days after that, and then we’ll stop. You can set that up in Pitchbox.

Ross: That’s awesome, absolutely awesome. I wonder though, for the small business owner or the 101 listeners, how can they go about this kind of outreach without it being overwhelming? That sounds like a lot of work to someone.

Stephan: It is a lot of work, it is overwhelming, and that’s why you shouldn’t do it yourself. Stay in your lane. Be focused on your core competency and don’t try to be the Jack of all trades. This is a specialized thing.

I mean, how are you going to try and get your own TV appearance? It’s possible. I took a workshop and learned how to do this. I cold-called TV producers in the middle of the night because they start work really early like 3:00 AM in the morning. I had my pitch already. I had a PDF—a one-sheet pitch that was ready to go. My segment proposal I rehearsed before a bunch of times so that I could just seamlessly bang it out on a two-minute phone call.

You can totally do all that, or you could just stick to your core competency and hire a PR for them to do that for you. It’s up to you, but I would, one, use the premium tools of the job like Pitchbox, for doing analysis, Majestic, Ahrefs, and all the great tools, SEMrush, et cetera. That’s a lot. You’re already talking about expensive tools and then having enough expertise and your 10,000 hours—as Malcolm Gladwell explained in the book Outliers—to be that expert. So that you are looking like a total newbie when you are pitching these journalists and bloggers. It’s a commitment.

Is this really what you want to try and build into your core competencies? Probably not, so just hire it out. If you don’t have the money for an agency or high-end consultants, you could hire me, but I’m expensive. You could hire staff for it.

Free PR BookRoss: It was actually a good book. I’m listening to—I like to listen to books, but I do highly recommend anyone who wants to set this up in-house. It’s not a question, hiring out is going to be a lot easier and a lot less stressful. But if you want this to be a core competency within your company like someone in the house doing this for you, there’s a great book called Free PR: How to Get Chased By the Press Without Hiring a PR Firm. It’s written by Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic. It’s excellent, really great tips. Again, you’re having to learn this. There’s nothing simple about it, but it is a fantastic way to start.

Stephan: Cameron learned the ropes by growing 1-800-Got-Junk from $60 million to $400 million under his watch as the COO of the company. He just crushed it by getting so much free PR for 1-800-Got-Junk. He did a lot of other system-type upgrades in the organization in order to get to that level of revenue as well. One other secret to success was all the free PR they got.

Ross: That’ll be linked too from the show notes if anyone wants to see that book. You could check it out.

John: There are still free tools, though. I have to keep going back to our audience. There are people that are either learning SEO, trying to improve their SEO, or small businesses trying to figure out how to do it themselves who don’t have the budget, especially in this day and age. People are struggling to keep their business floating, let alone pay for consultants and services and tools. There are free things like Help a Reporter Out, HARO.

What are some of the things people in that situation may be able to do to get a jump on some of the stuff because they don’t have the budget, they don’t have the personnel, they’re just trying to find ways to survive?

Stephan: I would say if you’re willing to pick up the phone, do that because hardly anybody does that. I don’t know what it is but they’re afraid to have their voice come through a telephone, and so they’re resorting to just sending emails and everybody else is sending emails. If you want to be the person who stands out as different, pick up the telephone and make a phone call to a journalist, to a blogger, or to a TV station.

You can just make a call and say, can I speak to the TV producer who books the guests? They say sure, one moment. Can I ask who’s calling? They’re not available. I’ll put you to their voicemail. If you get put to their voicemail, don’t leave a voicemail because the only voicemail you get to leave, nobody wants to get stalked. They’re like, that’s the second voicemail this week from this guy. Won’t he leave us alone?

You only get one chance to leave a voicemail, so don’t even leave one. You got the voice greeting, hey this is Betsy at the news desk. Please leave your message. Next time when I call tomorrow, I’m just going to ask for Betsy. That’ll make it sound like I’m more already in the know or preselected. That’s an easy way to just get past the gatekeeper and potentially pitch your idea for a new story.

But again, if you want to do it well and you want to get a high hit rate, then you got to practice your pitch. Know it down cold so you’re not stumbling over your words. Have a PDF that you prepared—a one-pager, write an email beforehand, and put that attachment there ready to go with that email. When they tell you to send me an email, you can say, all right, what’s your email address? I got it. I just sent it. Can you check your email real quick and see if you got my email? Can you see if the PDF opens okay? Who does that?

Normally, they try to get rid of you because most people will just give an email address and that’s it. Sure, I’ll send an email. But if I have it ready to go and I send it right there and then, can you check to see if you got it? That already differentiates you and gives you another shot at saving the opportunity. Then they open the PDF and they’re like, wow, you’ve been on some TV stations before. You’ve got three books, whatever your claim to fame is.

Yeah, I’m the plumber to the stars. I’ve been plumbing in celebrities’ homes for the last 20 years or whatever it is. Then they get to see that in the PDF while they’re on the phone with you. The likelihood of them opening a PDF when it’s six hours later or whatever is a lot less. It’s these little nuances that make all the difference. You’re not going to get them all right at the beginning. If you start with a book like Free PR, I know Cameron is a big proponent of picking up the phone and not being part of the slush pile of all the emails that everybody sends.

Ross: Making a lot of people anxious. I can’t even get my wife to call me, she only texts. No one likes phones anymore. I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with them. I like them.

Stephan: I know. It’s a little scary, but the fear of rejection isn’t actually that scary once you get acclimated to it. Okay, what’s the worst thing that could happen? They tell me no? They’re not going to say I’m going to report you to the police or don’t you ever call this TV station ever again. They’re just going to say no thanks. We’re not interested, but thanks for calling.

Maybe the gatekeeper shuts you down and says, you know what, we don’t take unsolicited calls but you can send an email to our news desk. Okay, thank you. Then you call at 4:00 AM in the morning instead of 6:00 AM and then you miss the gatekeeper because the gatekeeper hasn’t come in yet. The person who picks up the phone is the TV producer.

Ross: Very nice. Those are great tips. Thank you very much. Let’s take a quick break. When we come back, I think it could be interesting to talk about AI and how that might be working into people’s future.

Welcome back to SEO 101 on hosted by John Carcutt, the director of SEO for Advance Local, and myself Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc. We’re joined by Stephan Spencer, co-author of the Art of SEO, author of Google Power Search, founder of NetConcepts, and business coach. That’s not even scratching it, you’re a busy man.

You mentioned earlier about future-proofing and how AI works and do it. I know we have a lot of 101 listeners, but I also get a lot of very technical questions. I think it would be an interesting foray into that. Where do you think artificial intelligence works into SEO now and in the future?

Stephan: Well, where would it not fit in? It would be an easier question to answer. I think it fits in everywhere because if you’re trying to figure out which keywords to focus on, there are AI tools that can help you with that. If you’re trying to optimize existing content and make it more keyword-rich but not spammy. It’s not the number of occurrences of the keyword but making it cover more related topics. What some SEOs refer to as LSI keywords, working those into an existing article or starting an article from scratch.

Open AI article - ZDNet title imageThere’s an AI that will write an article from scratch for you, and a lot of times people won’t be able to tell it was written by an AI. This technology is called GPT-3. It’s from OpenAI and there are companies that are using it to create all kinds of content to solve all kinds of problems, lots of different kinds of use cases. Everything from image labelling to manufacturing-related tasks and so forth. It’s a very versatile algorithm or technology, and it’s in private beta right now but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes public for everybody.

You just pay for it and you could tell it to, for example, write me a poem in the style of Dr. Seuss about Elon Musk and how he has SpaceX that builds rockets and Tesla that builds electric cars. Just giving it a few sentence explanations of what it should do. It can create that poem for you, and that’s exactly what it did when somebody gave that instruction to GPT-3. If you google for Elon Musk GPT-3 poem or AI poem., it’ll show up at the top there. It’s just amazing when you read the content of this poem.

You’ll think, an AI wrote this? It’s wild. For example, one of my favourite stanzas from that poem is, “But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll send my Mars Rovers to red planet you.” That’s amazing. It’s a little mean. It makes me feel a little anxious about what is in store for us when the AIs are finally outsmarting us, but it’s pretty darn creative and it’s available now. Why wouldn’t you incorporate at least some sort of R&D or test projects into what you’re doing?

I remember attending Abundance 360 and hearing Peter Diamandis say that they’re going to be two kinds of businesses at the end of this decade. Peter Diamandis is the founder of Abundance 360, also the founder of the XPRIZE that gave $10 million to the first team that developed a spaceship that could take passengers and come back to earth safely and then do another round trip within two weeks later—a $10 million prize.

He said at Abundance 360, there are going to be two kinds of businesses that will be in business at the end of this decade. Businesses that use AI at their core and businesses that are out of business. If you are a financial planner, an accountant, a lawyer, a consultant, a business coach, a life coach, or whatever and you aren’t using AI, you will be out of business in a decade, probably sooner. You need to start playing with the stuff now because there’s only one way to outsmart in AI. Do you happen to know what that is?

Ross: Get a better AI.

Stephan: Exactly. You don’t show up at a gunfight with a sword. You’re not going to outsmart an AI unless you have an AI to help you.

Ross: Are there any products? You mentioned a few concepts for products. Are there any that come to mind that is available already, like […] tools for AI and such?

MarketMuse imageStephan: MarketMuse (Lifetime deal available as of Feb 9/2021!) uses a lot of AI.

Ross: MarketMuse?

Stephan: Yeah. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s definitely a great tool. I think most of the big enterprise tools are incorporating some AI components in them.

Ross: It doesn’t take a small amount of infrastructure, so I imagine it would be mostly enterprise right now.

Stephan: Well, if you were trying to figure out how to incorporate some AI into WordPress plugin and only charge $100 a month for it, you’d probably sign up for that private beta of GPT-3 and figure out a use case where you could give some keyword recommendations or some copy optimization recommendations based on the AI. Not something super significant and over the top, but something more scaled-down and treat that like it’s a prototype or an initial first minimum viable product. There are probably tools out there that are doing just that thing.

Ross: Does InLinks use that? I wonder. Maybe not.

Stephan: I don’t know if they have an AI.

John: I love that tool though. Anybody who hasn’t heard about it check out InLinks. Is there anything that you would like to add? I know there’s so much going on. We’re all pretty overwhelmed these days, which is good. Business is strong and there are lots to learn, but is there anything in particular that stands out that you’d like to share with the crowd?

Stephan: Well, the thing that I’ve found that makes the biggest difference for me, my business, and my clients are just going back to the fundamentals. It’s not even just figuring out the right strategies because the book The Art of War—my favorite quote from that book is, “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” It’s a great quote, but it’s not just about the strategy. It’s about your mindset and it’s about having a powerful intention for what you’re going to do. Then it’s like the universe rewards you for that.

If you want to have a bigger business and a more successful business, meditate. Actually meditate or pray or have what—that guy who wrote, The Road Less Stupid—Keith Cunningham. He’s awesome. He talks about having a thinking chair that you sit in, and that’s the only time you sit in it is when you’re thinking. No laptops or devices are allowed, just pen and paper or a notebook and pen and you just think.

Ross: Avoid the stupid tax.

Stephan: These sorts of things can make such a profound impact on your business and your life. It’s so simple. Just meditate, pray, or be intentional. I have the intention before I do anything, whether it’s a podcast interview, a prospect call, a client’s deliverable meeting, or whatever. How am I going to reveal light? How am I going to add value or at least just have that intention? I’m going to reveal light, I’m going to add value, or I’m going to make a difference for these people in this interview, on this client call, or prospect call. It makes a difference. It really does.

Ross: Well, I can say from personal experience working with you that you definitely have that intention when you’re helping me with coaching. It’s definitely made a difference in my business. I’m more focused. I’ve got a greater sense of what I need to do or what I want. It works. It definitely works.

Stephan: That’s awesome to hear. Thank you.

Ross: I definitely appreciate it. Thank you. I should note that Stephan has two great podcasts, Marketing Speak and Get Yourself Optimized, both of which I listen to. Excellent interviews, thoughts, and I always take something away from them. Definitely check those out. I’m just so pleased we could have you on today. Thank you, Stephan.

Stephan: Thank you for having me and thank you for all the good stuff you do in the world and the light you reveal—both of you guys.

Ross: John tries.

Stephan: A little stab there.

Ross: He isn’t even there. Well, on behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing; John Carcutt, director of SEO for Advance Local; and our special guests, Stephan Spencer, co-author of The Art of SEO, author of Google Power Search, founder of Netconcepts, and a fantastic business coach, thanks for joining us today. Remember, we have a show notes newsletter you can sign up for at

If you have any questions you’d like to share with us, please feel free to post them on our Facebook group—easily found by searching SEO 101 Podcast on Facebook. Have a great week and remember to tune in to future episodes, which are at 01:00 PM Pacific, 04:00 PM Eastern every Monday on Make sure to tune into the next episode. We’re going to have John Mueller on the show for our 400th episode. I look forward to speaking with you then.