#397 How to Rank for High Volume Keywords: Interview with Dmitry Dragilev

In Content Marketing, Internet Marketing Podcast, SEO, The Digital Marketing Blog by SeanLeave a Comment

This week’s episode of the Internet Marketing Podcast sees Dmitry Dragilev, founder and CEO of JustReachOut to discuss how you can rank for high volume keywords. It’s a topic that Dmitry’s recently covered in a hugely interesting and popular case study (over 3.6k shares, according to Buzzsumo) with Pipedrive that was published over on Moz – How We Ranked #1 for a High-Volume Keyword in Under 3 Months. Ranking #1 for a high volume keyword in under 3 months is obviously no mean feat, so we were keen to catch up with Dmitry and find out more!

During the podcast, Dmitry explains:

  • Why Moz’s Keyword Explorer Tool was important in the initial research phase
    • Why you should also look at using tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush & Moz
    • Why you should look for keywords with poor search results
  • The key elements of the research phase and everything that he decided to do before producing new content
  • Key tips when it comes to producing long-form content including how to keep users engaged
    • Keyword density and the process of de-optimisation
  • The tools and tactics used to promote the content once it was produced
    • Some key tips for writing outreach emails
    • Why the quality of backlinks are more important than the volume
    • Why you should re-purpose your content
  • The results

Plus as usual, we ask Dmitry for his one top tip/key takeaway for our audience.

If you’d like to connect with Dmitry, you can do so on Twitter here or through his other websites here:

If you'd like to nominate a guest for the podcast (self-nomination is also ok!) or have a suggestion for a topic that you'd like to see us cover, please get in touch using the form below:

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Full Transcript of the Show

Andy:                                  Now today [00:01:00] I’m joined by Dmitry Dragilev, founder and CEO of JustReachOut.io. Dmitry, how you doing?

Dmitry Dragilev:               Good, how are you? Good to be here.

Andy:                                   I’m very, very well and you’re in New York, aren’t you?

Dmitry Dragilev:               I am, I am indeed.

Andy:                                   Fantastic, I like New York. I went there at Christmas. First time I’d ever been in my life, absolutely loved it. Now, let’s start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself and JustReachOut.io.

Dmitry Dragilev:               Sure. I grew up in Soviet Union [00:01:30] and came here in 1993. It was January of 1993, January 28th, my big immigration, from Soviet, well, it was Russia by that time, ’93. Came to New Hampshire of all places and got into computers early on. I was really good at Math. And so, I got my computer science degree and worked in software development for a while for some big companies, big fortune 500 companies but [00:02:00] then looked around and said, “Oh, this looks really boring, corporations, big suits, what am I looking up to? I’m looking up to big bonus checks and more of the tucked in shirts and getting old.” And I’m like, I can’t do this and I was only 22 or something, or 23.

I quit my job, I sold everything I had and I [00:02:30] drove cross-country to Silicon Valley because I knew that people were having way more fun than me and getting money from rich guys and building technology and building these fun little startups and in 2006 this was, 2006, and I kind of stuck around for like 10 years. I got into this whole marketing SEO startup thing and changed [00:03:00] my career, first of all. I became a marketing SEO person, PR person and gone through a couple acquisitions actually, in my decade of doing startups, it’s related stuff.

So, now I run a software company called JustReachOut, I founded it about three years ago and we help entrepreneurs, small businesses and anybody out there who wants to pitch journalists without [00:03:30] the help of PR firms. For 65 bucks you can just sign up and find a journalist you want to pitch and we’ll give you the reasons you should contact them, the email templates, the whole thing. You can email them and get in contact with them and so yeah, the software business is doing well. We have 4,000 paying customers now and it’s fun. That’s my little intro.

Andy:                                   So, you’re joining, you [00:04:00] help sort of SEO people find, do a bit of PR, is that basically how it works?

Dmitry Dragilev:               It’s not really SEO people, it’s really small businesses or professionals or could be, we have musicians, we have authors of books or we have small business owners that are online businesses, too, or people who sell courses online or people who have popcorn stores here in the United States.

Andy:                                   Oh, excellent.

Dmitry Dragilev:               All sorts of walks of life. [00:04:30] We have a magician, all sorts of crazy professions use us but the idea is yeah, you can pitch journalist and bloggers and get some publicity or exposure for yourself.

The Moz Case Study: How did it come about?

Andy:                                   Fantastic. Now early this month, I think it was, we’re in April now, we’re recording in April, this probably won’t go out until late July or even August, but I think it was April 19th, you published a case study on Moz that sort of ties into today’s show, How To Be Ranked #1 for a High-Volume Keyword in Under 3 Months, if I’m not mistaken [00:05:00] was the title. This was a joint case study with Pipedrive, a sales CRM Tool. Can you describe how this project came about?

Dmitry Dragilev:               Yeah, so besides running the software company, I also do some consulting here and there and my background is SEO, so helping big companies, small companies, middle-tier companies, rank on Google and rank high on Google. [00:05:30] Pipedrive was a customer and came to me with a desire to rank high for an article they have written on their blog. And the first thing we kind of had to do is say, “Well, sure everybody wants to rank high on Google, the question is what do you want to rank high for?”

And so we did a whole exercise determining what type of terms their potential customers search for, and also what type of terms [00:06:00] that the customers search for, potential customers search for that have really poor search results and that’s the big indicator that kind of started this whole effort is you have to find a keyword that your customers are searching for people that want to buy your software that has poor search results for it and it’s not a commercial intent keyword meaning, people are not looking for a brand or something like that, they’re [00:06:30] looking for information and for instance, an information-based keyword search.

So, the word sales management fit the bill because sales management is something that’s an informational search, people are not looking for the tool called sales management. They’re looking for information about sales management, whether they want techniques, or tools, or how it works, or salaries, or sales managers. Whatever they want, they want information and that is what we decided to focus on because [00:07:00] frankly, we saw the stuff that was ranking on the first page of Google was rather poor. We were not happy with the stuff there and really thought that we could do much better. And that’s kind of the start of the qualifying kind of events for the project there, of any kind of SEO or ranking that you want to do, has this kind of stuff. So, SEO to me is very much married with PR, the two are very similar.

Project Planning Phase

Andy:                                   [00:07:30] It was a three month project wasn’t it? Were you involved in the planning of the project before it started?

Dmitry Dragilev:               Yeah, we started working with them before, I’m still working with them on some other stuff that we were working on now, more like international SEO stuff. But yeah, we started the planning stages with them as well, and we worked through all that, any kind of project that I do, of course has to have the planning and the actual [00:08:00] execution of it and so yeah.

Andy:                                   And when you first started, I mean did you think goals were achievable? Did the results surprised you?

Dmitry Dragilev:               It’s very hard to determine and really bet on things and say that, I can do this 100%. I thought that there was a good possibility that we could get to the top and I just didn’t know how soon it would happen because sometimes these things take so long. Sometimes you wait [00:08:30] for six months or a year and even longer to get specific results. And so with SEO, it’s such a low term.

That’s why I love running with the press outreach software, a lot of people that use those can see results almost right away, whether journalist would respond to you or not, but you can see that almost instantaneously. And so, any kind of SEO initiatives you do or using SEO software, it’s a very [00:09:00] long-term game you’re playing. You might be seeing results in five months or six months or eight months. So, it’s very hard for a customer to get excited about it. I mean you could get excited about it but it’s just day-to-day you feel like you need a little something because nothing’s happening, you move from position 27 to 26, it’s like, oh great.

Dmitry’s Top Tools

Andy:                                   You make reference actually to [00:09:30] using Moz’s Keyword Explorer Tool for a lot of the initial research, what is it specifically about Moz’s Keyword Explorer that sort of appealed?

Dmitry Dragilev:               Well, I like to use, it’s actually a combination. I tend to use SEMrush a lot and I like to use Ahrefs. Ahrefs has a new keyword tool that is pretty decent in terms of the researching which keywords to, you want to rank for because what they do is they, not [00:10:00] only give you the search volume and the competition, but also mention approximately how high can you expect your traffic to jump. They actually rank the specific position for different, specific keyword and how competitive it is against all others. It becomes very [00:10:30] easy to think through the difficulty for ranking for it. If you’re seeing a lot of people bidding for it and trying to understand the content there. You can really look deep.

Moz, I like using Moz for backlink analysis, so when I look at which article is ranking so with sales management for example, I look at the first 10 results and I see what is ranking, what is not ranking. And then I can [00:11:00] say, “All right, well, why are they ranking?” And so Moz is great at telling me, “Well, they’re ranking because here are all the backlinks, they’re pointing to each one of these search results.” And in my analysis I kind of do a quick sweep through that to see why are those people linking to that piece of content? When was that link published? And how probably is that I can reach [00:11:30] out to those people and also them to link to my piece of content when that’s published. And so, I use the Backlink Explorer, actually Ahrefs has one as well. I use actually Ahrefs and SEMrush more than I use Moz. I used to use Moz more but Ahrefs has kind of changed their tool a lot recently so I’ve been using [00:12:00] that more.

Research Phase

Andy:                                   Now, after deciding on a topic, you moved into a substantial phase of research. I was wondering if you could just sort of breakdown the key elements of your research phase and everything you decided to do before even starting to produce any new content.

Dmitry Dragilev:               It was just a matter of producing content that’s the best out there. So, our software, JustReachOut, we have customers who are from all walks of life, so not only sales management but it could be [00:12:30] nutrition or dieting and it’s a matter of what your core expertise are and what do you feel so confident about that you can basically say, “Listen, everything that it is on the first page of this Google search result is complete crap. That I can do 10 times better and I will do 10 times better and I can just sit down and start writing this stuff right now.”

And that is sort of the first part [00:13:00] of writing any content is, we pick that keyword. And the next part is creating the content and crafting it and that’s where a lot of the tips and tricks come in from my blog and I use Brian Dean’s Backlinko blog. They have a great on-page SEO blog post that kind of details all these little nuances of writing an article that’s a great one. One of the best things that I’ve seen is write [00:13:30] an article with mostly visuals, without that much text and that keeps people on site longer because time on site is a huge factor for ranking.

The other thing is looking at the time and speed of loading of your site. Everybody knows that’s important factor but it’s a huge ranking factor, and so how does time on site in your article compare to time on site [00:14:00] in every article that is currently ranking on Google’s first page result? The time it takes to load your page should be less than the first 10 search results for the given keyword on that topic and that’s the only way you will, not the only way, but that’s one of the conditions that you should check before you start engaging in this and improve your site so it’s faster than your competition.

I look at [00:14:30] all those search results on the first page of Google as my competition. I might create an article that has information from all of those search results, the first 10 and my own information added to that, in a better designed format. The design of the article has to be better than the design of the articles or websites that are ranking for your keyword currently on Google and so a lot [00:15:00] of the times, I compare the design of the article itself. So, what does the design of the article mean? It means only two or three lines of paragraphs at a time. Having bucket brigades, which are basically breaks and basically doing a bullet style list instead of doing wall of text. Having diagrams, visual infographics and diagrams [00:15:30] and examples, screenshots, doing as many visuals as you can to improve time on site, improve engagement and keep the person on the site.

All that is, all these different things are important as you write your article to try and rank for it. Most of our customers at JustReachOut, they don’t pitch news or partnerships or events about what they’re doing. They do this kind of thing, they [00:16:00] try and rank for different kind of article on different topics and say it’s a nutrition startup, so what they do is sign up on JustReachOut and then they write an article about nutrition and then they publish it. And when they publish it, what they do is they use JustReachOut to promote it, so they might reach out to other bloggers and ask if they can write a different guest article for that publication and basically repurpose some of the information they’ve written [00:16:30] on their own blog on that other one. Because what happens is, they start getting natural backlinks from that article to the one that they want to rank.

If I wanted to rank on my JustReachOut blog, I’ll go just check the blog, write an article about PR outreach and I want that one to rank number one for word PR outreach. I’d say, all right I’m going to go to Business Insider and say, “Listen, I’d love to write for you, here’s an article [00:17:00] about PR outreach.” It’s a different one, somewhat different from the one I’ve written originally and publish it and link it back to the one I have on my own blog. And that way I’m basically becoming a guest contributor on multiple publications and also creating real backlinks back to my initial site and backlinks have become very different from what they used to be three years ago, four years ago. It used to be, you could get a bunch of backlinks and the volume was [00:17:30] the key factor that got you to rank. It’s no longer like that.

Now, it’s actual traffic that comes over from the backlink that gets you the recognition the Google’s algorithm, ranking algorithm. So no longer do you have to get a hundred, 200, 300. The number of links does not matter anymore. It’s the quality of links, so meaning, does that link actually get clicks? And if it does not, [00:18:00] then it doesn’t matter at all, it doesn’t matter. That’s why adding a link to an old piece of content somewhere, it doesn’t do anything and adding a link that’s out of context such as, “Here’s a great quote by X.” It’s nice to have that link and you might get one or two hits on it but if it’s not in context and a must-click for most readers, it doesn’t get as much the light of the day from the Google [00:18:30] side. That’s why this strategy works much nicer because it’s basically a subset of what you’ve written on your own blog, but on another site, so people who want more information they must, almost must click over to your blog.

How to Outreach with Long-form Content – Dmitry’s Process

Andy:                                   Let’s talk about outreach actually because after you’ve sort of been through the process of producing and optimising the content, you sort of move into this sort of promotion and outreach and I think you alluded to this, sort of can you outline the outreach process?

Dmitry Dragilev:               Yeah, sure. So [00:19:00] again, you’ve picked a keyword, you’ve written an article for it and now you’re saying, “All right, I really want to rank for this keyword. You know what? I’ve written the best piece of content and I have three friends who can prove it because I’ve sent it to them and they also agree.” So, it’s not just you and it’s in your head. So then, what you start doing is, A, you need to start repurposing that content and so, backlinking to this piece [00:19:30] of content, naturally from those repurposed versions of that content.

Again, say I write an article about how to do PR outreach on my own blog, now I start the repurposing process. I take a subset of that article, say 500 words, a thousand words. Now, my article is 7,000 words so 6,000 words. I take a subset of it and I turn it into a guest article and I turn around and I look at all [00:20:00] the blogs in the marketing sphere and I say, “Who are the best blogs in marketing sphere?” Well, in the marketing industry, so let’s say Kissmetrics has a great blog, Unbalanced has a great blog, let’s look at some more, maybe BuzzSumo has great one, maybe MarketingProfs, MarketingProfs is a good one.

So, I make a list of them and I start reaching out, saying, “Hey, I’ve written before.” Or if you haven’t written at all, you reference [00:20:30] your own blog and you say, “Listen, I’d like to write for your blog. I have this topic, here’s a bullet outline for it, would you at all be interested in it?” A lot of the times you can’t get to the right person so I try and find a contributor, an existing contributor at that blog, who I just simply email and ask, “Do you know the right person to talk to?” And most of the time, they’ll let me know.

I usually would make a mix of say, entrepreneur.com, businessinsider.com, [00:21:00] venturebeat.com, those types of sites, mixed in with MarketingProfs, Unbalanced Blog, Kissmetrics Blog, SEMrush Blog, Moz.com Blog. So I mean, I’ll mix those up, make a list and start doing my outreach. I would try and find editors, if I could not, then I would find people that have contributed to them and try and figure out who is the right person to run this by them.

So, my idea is I want to get [00:21:30] two, three, four guest articles published. After I do that, I repurpose it into a video and I might put it up on YouTube. I might also repurpose it into a SlideShare presentation and I’d probably put it up on SlideShare. And I keep repurposing this and linking back to the original article because I want to keep getting those types of links back to my article and [00:22:00] that’s what I mean, a lot of customers, using JustReachOut, they use that methodology and JustReachOut we also show you Quora questions that people ask on relevant topics and so, this game, this game of repurposing content and publishing it on another blog is a long-term game.

I think that when a person is doing their outreach and they’re trying to get their guest article published [00:22:30] somewhere, it takes a long time and not only do I think, I know, because I’ve done it so long and for so many years myself and I also have 4,000 customers who try to do this every single every day. They try to get their guest articles published. And the reality is, schedules are busy, these blogs are busy, there’s a lot of stuff going on. It’s not, you’re not just going to snap your fingers and publish an article on Unbalanced Blog or Entrepreneur or Moz.com, it [00:23:00] takes time.

And so a lot of our customers at JustReachOut, what they also do, when they do their outreach through JustReachOut or another platform, they answer questions on Quora or Reddit. A lot of people are asking questions out there about specifics of what you might know. So in my case, it’s how to do marketing or SEO or PR but for somebody else it might be, how do you create a podcast? Or, how do you create a website?

[00:23:30] And so whatever your knowledge or expertise is, that knowledge can be translated into a PR opportunity for you. And so, you can reference your original blog post, again, in all these different answers and discussions. And so I typically look at websites such as inbound.org. I also look at growthhackers.com. I also look at Quora and I also look at Reddit and I answer questions [00:24:00] very proactively on all these websites and where possible, I link up my own blog post that I want to rank, so yeah.

Dmitry’s Top Tip/Key Takeaway

Andy:                                   We’ve covered a lot today, Dmitry, today. I mean if there was one sort of take away for our listeners that you could give, what would it be?

Dmitry Dragilev:               I guess, when you do outreach try and think long-term versus short-term. Don’t think I’m just going to get a big news splash at TechCrunch and I’ll get a big [00:24:30] spike and we’ll just figure it out from there. Try and think long-term. How do you repeat that process to keep getting more and more traffic? And I think what you’ll find is that content, writing content that engages people, always does, outperforms any kind of short-term click hit kind of pitching where you’re pitching news or partnerships or whatnot.

I rank number one for the word  00:24:56] cold email, here in the United States and I get anywhere [00:25:00] from a hundred to 150 people that come over to my site and sign up for my email newsletter every day. I do nothing day-to-day anymore. My blog post ranks really high and out of a 150 people, possibly 20 to 30% of them will become paying customers of JustReachOut just through a little sequences of emails they’ll get automatically.

So literally, I spend no money, no effort. I don’t do any ads, I’ve never done ’em [00:25:30] and my article is pulling in traffic and converting it. And so, it becomes very powerful when you combine PR and SCO versus the other approaches, do a bunch of PR and then maybe do some ads and that kind of stuff. The two are very different approaches, I would say, try and experiment with a more sustainable approach, whatever you’re doing, so that’s my two cents.

Andy:                                   Dmitry, thanks so much for coming on. How [00:26:00] can our listeners find out more about you and JustReachOut.io?

Dmitry Dragilev:               So you can go to JustReachOut.io and all my contact info is there and then for my blog, you can go to criminallyprolific.com, criminallyprolific.com and you’ll find all the information there as well.

Andy:                                   And your twitter is @dragilev D-R-A-G-I-L-E-V, that’s right, isn’t it?

Dmitry Dragilev:               Yup, correct.

Andy:                                   Brilliant. Well, thanks [00:26:30] for listening everyone. The show notes are in the usual place sitevisibility.com/impodcast. Also, leave us a review because the more reviews we get, the more people we can hit and the more we can get this good information out. Email address is podcast@sitevisibility.com, or you can Tweet us @sitevisibility. Don’t forget the LinkedIn group, there’s SiteVisibility LinkedIn group. And that’s it, that’s all from me, Andy, and that’s all from Dmitry.

Dmitry Dragilev:               Cool, good to be here.

Andy:                                   Thank you again, and we’ll see you next [00:27:00] time on Internet Marketing.

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