Advanced Content Strategy + Link Acquisition
I sat down with Ross Hudgens, founder and CEO of Siege Media, a content-focused SEO agency with 80+ staff, offices in 3 cities and on pace to close $10m in revenue this year.
Ross has developed an awesome process to generate high quality content assets that generate PR quality links for clients.
I dug into their delivery process, growth strategies and more – let’s get into it!
- 7:53 What is your sales process like internally?
- 10:34 Do you have an internal team for content and marketing?
- 11:36 How did you position yourself for a specific SEO related service?
- 12:50 How do you decide what kind of content to create for a client?
- 13:47 Do you create a link-first content to build true white hat links?
- 15:56 What is your process to build the right piece of content to go well with an outreach campaign?
- 17:32 How do you transition between asset creation and link building?
- 18:50 Do your content marketing specialists do the prospecting as well?
- 20:16 Do you use Buzzstream for emailing too?
- 21:52 How many emails do you guys usually send per campaign?
- 23:07 Do you assign a certain number of projects per person or you manage more at the hours level?
- 24:10 Do you charge based on assets or time?
- 28:29 What are your thoughts on manual vs passive link building?
- 31:11 Do you find a lot of people are asking for monetary benefits in your outreach?
- 32:02 Do you ever entertain such demands?
- 33:06 Do clients come to you expecting a certain number of links?
- 35:06 What do you think is the future of content and links?
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What is your sales process like internally?
It has been me mostly but now we have a person in-house who is helping me scale-up.
I’ve tried a number of different sales tactics in the past, including using LinkedIn for cold outreach.
Jump to 7:53 to hear more
Do you have an internal team for content and marketing?
We have people for content and video. Anytime our content marketers have a little spare time maybe we can build some keyword-driven articles and try to rank for that. That is to see if we can build our list off that and turn it into customers down the line.
Jump to 10:34 to hear more
How did you position Siege for a specific SEO related service?
We describe ourselves as a content marketing agency that specializes in SEO. So basically a lot of enterprise companies whose SEO is big enough that they will hire a technical person a lot of times and then us because of that.
SEO is such a big thing that you need experts on all those points to do a good job these days. That’s the one thing we do a part of this equation versus just saying we do everything. It has allowed us to build an advantage in positioning.
Jump to 11:36 to hear more
How do you decide what kind of content to create for a client?
We do lightweight content and link building. A lot of people come to us for link building when they’re trying to build the authority of their website using the content strategy.
We urge them to drive brand value, top-funnel awareness, middle funnels sales and awareness, etc. We also sprinkle on things like the UX design of a homepage and blog redesigns.
You can say we specialize in single page SEO experiences.
Jump to 12:50 to hear more
Do you create a link-first content to build true white hat links?
We’re completely white hat. We are also very visual so we tend to be more b2c because I think that it fits in the b2c world a little bit more in terms of inspiration, photography, and videography.
We do shareable assets, visual assets on the site. Infographics are a big part of it but it could be a survey piece, it could be photos, it could be a video. All the shareable components come from design and lower the friction into someone linking to our clients.
Jump to 13:47 to hear more
What is your process to build the right piece of content to go well with an outreach campaign?
One of the first things is we’ll look at the buyer persona of the client and see what is their buyer persona and then where is the alignment with that buyer persona and linkable markets.
We’ll identify what is the topically relevant area because you will see a shitty link building where it’s like off-topic. That doesn’t make sense. We think sustainability and additional brand value comes from that synergy.
So we’ll start with the linkable audience. That could be resource pages or broken link building type resource guides that are more serious.
We have a full list of linkable markets and then we take the audience and align content types. It could be a survey, an infographic, a how-to post, a top-funnel search volume-driven post or a big guide, etc.
It’s like taking those steps and aligning it to the appropriate asset and then creating and promoting. After that, we just rinse and repeat.
Jump to 15:56 to hear more
How do you transition between asset creation and link building?
Our designers are their own beast but the writers are the same as the outreach people for us.
I know that’s unique for link builders but one of the philosophies or reasons we did that is because it burns you out during link building.
I think it helps retention for our team and gives them more learnings on search, research, and writing so we decided to have our content marketing specialist do research writing and then hand it off to designers who then do the outreach.
Jump to 17:32 to hear more
Do your content marketing specialists do the prospecting as well?
They do but we do have a big database as well.
We have been at it for eight years and we have reached out to thousands of people at that time. So there are some shortcuts and relationships we have within Buzzstream.
We go through Google as well because one of our philosophies is that if Google is valuing something, it’s important.
Jump to 18:50 to hear more
Do you use Buzzstream for emailing too?
Yes, we do. We evaluated Pitchbox as well but we decided to stick with Buzzstream.
Jump to 20:16 to hear more
How many emails do you guys usually send per campaign?
Our typical goal is around 100 emails per asset.
We sell units to our clients so these units will be intervals of time of what we can accomplish during that time. Some markets are bigger than 100 while some are actually smaller than 100.
For our bigger clients, we’re doing like four pieces a month or we’ll actually shift to a retainer model where we might just add outreach hours on top of that to milk those existing campaigns. 100 is a nice kind of minimum where we learn a lot.
Jump to 21:52 to hear more
Do you assign a certain number of projects per person or you manage more at the hours level?
We’ve gotten the feedback that people can handle four quality assets per month so basically one per week with a little overlap.
We spend around 72 total hours between the whole team and there’s a manager in there too.
A lot of content marketers will still be learning as they go and the manager is in there in the weeds giving feedback on stuff.
Jump to 23:07 to hear more
Do you charge based on assets or time?
We sell units. For some clients, we’re just doing content assets so that could just be one unit. It just depends on the client but think of 16 or 18 hours as a unit of blended time.
Jump to 24:10 to hear more
What are your thoughts on manual vs passive link building?
That’s a big component of driving brand value in my opinion. If we’re doing top-funnel or middle funnel content sometimes there’s a passive link acquisition opportunity associated with that. That reduces our cost per link for a lot of clients over time.
Not every market has a lot of these passive link opportunities though. These are statistical posts or definitional posts.
Jump to 28:29 to hear more
Do you find a lot of people are asking for money in your outreach?
We definitely get those requests but that’s kind of where understanding a lot of the linkable markets comes in. And there’s definitely subtlety to the client as well like if you have an ugly website then you get that ask all the time.
There is a connection, the worst the content or if the sales CTAs are too aggressive then you get that ask. We try to specifically avoid verticals where we expect such asks more often.
Jump to 31:11 to hear more
Do you ever entertain such demands?
We don’t. We think it’s a slippery slope but I could see how it could work for some companies.
Jump to 32:02 to hear more
Do clients come to you expecting a certain number of links?
We set expectations of what success looks like but we don’t guarantee it.
Jump to 33:06 to hear more
What do you think is the future of content and links?
I feel good about the way we’re doing it. We are creating assets that would have brand value on their own. It’s possible that the link side goes down slightly and that’s why I wouldn’t want to be just a link vendor.
Jump to 35:06 to hear more