SEO Growth Hacking Session

Rob Campbell and his office coffee maker grand prizeI’m here at EventMobi‘s beautiful downtown Toronto office enjoying another fine SEO talk from Rob Campbell (aka SmoJoe). Tonight we are looking at organic search engine optimization through the lens of growth hacking with the MeetUp group, GrowthHackTO.

Rob has walked us through his SEO tactics, which are extremely effective and why we work with him often at Surround. His approach is a unique multi-media technique which creates layers of content, all interlinked in a natural format. The result is top search page rank for the target website, usually a client sponsor.

Basically, what Rob does is take a website and rank it #1 in Google for a chosen keyword. His approach has evolved in the years I’ve know him, and keeps getting better. In a simple form these are the steps:

  1. choose a keyword that will have a valuable return for your website (or your client). That is to say, if you had search traffic from people who searched this keyword, would they represent a valuable source of leads or customers, users, sign-ups, etc.
  2. take original photos and host them on trusted websites (flickr, wordpress)
  3. devise creative, interesting stories that relate to your product/service in some way and get this article published in the best, biggest, most trusted magazine or newspaper or other publication that you can
  4. bookmark this article on social bookmarking sites and social media
  5. write secondary articles and publish those on other sites. Use the same photos from their original source
  6. bookmark and interlink those with the original article

Whew. That’s a lot of work. If you are not a passionate writer by heart, it will be hard to get this far. Rob has dozens or maybe hundreds of places where he can publish original content as he’s been doing this for so long, and he’s a born story teller. Minstrel is the metaphor he used today.

We took a vote from among half a dozen promising start-ups and the group chose Jane Wang of My Health Sphere, a Toronto health app to be the one we help rank with the efforts of this workshop.

 There were a number of startups who pitched for the opportunity for the group to work on ranking their website. I voted for , an online marketplace for used children’s stuff.

We’ve blogged, tweeted, taken photos, and even given away an office coffee maker, courtesy of Vigorate Digital Ecommerce Software. 

Rob predicts that Jane’s will hit page #1 in Google for ‘health apps’ in about 6 weeks. Let’s see!


How To Blog? Think Like An Apple Tree

While walking my son to school this morning he stopped to pick a “pine cone” from a spruce tree. He likes collecting stuff like that, which I think is cool since I have a background in biology and happen to be interested in trees myself.

Picture of a Spruce ConeOnce we got to the stairwell of his school he tossed the cone on the floor, saying he didn’t want it anymore. On my way back out the door I picked up the cone to take it outside. Being the ever over-responsible citizen that I am, my first thought was that I should put it back where it was near the tree.

But then I realized that the tree wants us to take its cones away. This is how it disperses its seeds. And it worked perfectly because my son loves to pick pine cones and carry them around. I wonder if this is just his habit or if there is some deeper evolutionary wisdom at work.

Between 50 and 150 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, there was a simultaneous explosion in the the variety of plants and animals (including insects) in the fossil record. This is no co-incidence. Animals and flowering plants co-evolved.

You see, since plants are fixed in one location they have a real problem when it comes to reproduction. If they just drop their seeds where they stand, then the new seedlings would either choke out the parent or fail to survive because the parent plant is already taking all the sun and root space in that location. And there’s the problem of how to get pollen from one plant to another in order for the plants to reproduce in the first place.

Flowers Are The Original Content Marketers

Before flowers and fruit evolved, plants relied on the wind and water to disperse their seeds. Coconuts float to new islands across the ocean. Dandelion seeds hitch a ride on the breeze.

But then some plants discovered that if they seep a small bit of sugary water (nectar) out of their flowers then animals would come along to lick up the nectar. In the process, the animal would get some pollen stuck to it which would get spread around at the next flower. The flower offers something that is perfectly suited to its visitor’s needs, and in so doing, gets its own needs met in the process.

This is how you must think when developing content for your website or blog. People don’t care how great you are. They just don’t. They want something useful, entertaining, interesting, or helpful for themselves. Offer this and they will come to your website. Offer only self-promotional messages and you’ll be ignored.

Plants Are The Original Viral Bloggers

How can you convince one of your website visitors, Facebook fans or Twitter followers to tell others about your company?

You need to think like an apple tree.

Photo of ApplesAn apple tree doesn’t need to surround its seeds in delicious juicy fruit. The seeds are tiny but the fruit is a huge investment in energy, water and nutrients. You would think that the tree is better off without the fruit.

But growing edible fruit ensures that apple trees thrive far and wide because of the animals that come to take the fruit, and then deposit the seeds elsewhere. The animals are not spreading apple seeds because of some moral obligation or because apple trees are just so nice. The animals are dispersing the apple’s message because the apple tree has invested the time and energy required to invent something perfectly suited to the animal’s needs.

The most successful content on your website will be the content that informs, excites, entertains, educates, inspires or helps people. This content is the stuff that will get shared, emailed, blogged about, tagged, shared, bookmarked, tweeted and liked. This is the content that will gain links over time, rather than fading into obscurity, as new people discover it and share it to their networks. They have found something nourishing, and will share it for their own purposes. And in this process your name, brand, link, logo, reputation or message will be passed along, too.

The economy of social media (and increasingly the internet in general) is largely an economy of symbiotic mutual self-interest. This is more efficient in the long run than self-promotion, even if the time and effort required to develop quality content seems daunting and prohibitive.

So, what’s growing on your website?

Things That Happen Online Every 60 Seconds

Here are a couple of interesting info graphics showing 40 different things that happen every minute. I found these by following Steven Joyce (@LSHSteve) of Local Search Heroes in Penticton, BC. I’m not sure of the source of the information that was used to create the info graphics, but the numbers seem accurate to me based on other things I’ve read, at least at a quick glance.

Every 60 seconds there are:

  • 700,000 searches on Google
  • >1,500 blog posts published
  • 25 hours of video uploaded to YouTube
  • >70 new domains registered
  • almost 100,000 tweets and >320 new twitter accounts created

Every 60 seconds! They also say that over 1 billion new web pages are created each day.

The World Wide Web is one of the fastest growing and fastest changing things on the planet. Now you can start to appreciate why SEO is an on-going effort rather than just a one-time project. It’s a foot race that never stops. If you are ahead, you might be tempted to stop and rest for a while. But depending on how fast your competition is running, you won’t be ahead for ever.

Yes, that’s right, the Tortoise And The Hare is a tale of search engine optimization. Here’s some more stats on the race:
60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by
60 Seconds - Things That Happen Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by

Ventolin Usa