I’m all about outside-the-box thinking.

The SEO Spotlight Series is designed to showcase clever SEO’s that are using out-of-the-ordinary techniques to get extraordinary gains in the SERPs.

In the 4th edition of the series, we’re bringing on three clever folks from The Affiliate Lab.

Grab your popcorn, as you’re about to check out some excellent strategies for SEO task automation, outreach, and onsite optimization.

Jarod Spiewak – Next Level Automation

Jarod Spiewak image

I once said that Jarod is the oldest 20-year-old in the world.

He’s 21 years old now, and his business acumen has doubled.

Let’s get into some nuggets.

Make sure you get to the end, because Jarod gives away a lot of free resources to automate your SEO tasks.

Name: Jarod Spiewak

Age: 21

Location: New Hampshire, USA

How did you get into SEO?

Like a lot of people, I fell into it mostly by accident. To make a long story relatively short:

When I was 14, I knew I was going to be starting college soon and I would have to pay for it myself. I started looking up “how to make money online”. This eventually leads me to a site called Hire Writers. I was writing for maybe $0.01 per word for a couple of months.

This was back in 2012, so “SEO content” was all the rage. Every job I took asked for certain keywords to be used a certain amount of times, I didn’t know why at first until I took on a job where I had to write 300-500 words about how to do SEO.

This leads me down a rabbit hole of research. Fast forward about two years – didn’t really do anything with this SEO stuff other than light research and writing SEO content. At this point, I’m attending college for my marketing degree and working a corporate marketing job.

SEO for beginners

Quickly, I learned that the corporate life wasn’t for me and I had no future at the company I was working for, so I did some more research on SEO (Moz 101 guide type stuff). Then, I found a site called Upwork. Started offering SEO services for $5/hour. Super low-level implementation. From there, was hired by a marketing agency to do SEO which lead to a promotion to their Lead SEO Strategist. This is where I started to get really serious about SEO and absorb everything I could, like a sponge that discovered cocaine.

This lead to more clients of my own, which lead to me leaving the agency and starting my own.

So, while I’ve been in the “SEO world” for the past almost 7-years, I’ve really only taken it seriously for the past ~3 years.

What type of SEO monetization do you focus on?

Right now, 95% of my income is from client SEO and partnerships with other SEO services. There’s a 60-40 split between local SEO and link building only projects for larger corporate companies. The other 5% comes from some consulting I do.

This year, I started investing in and buying affiliate sites.

I see more affiliate work in my future (assuming all goes well ?) as my goal is to keep the agency side of things relatively small.

How was it speaking at a Chiang Mai SEO Workshop last year?

Absolutely fucking crazy, man (in a good way).

I got to make a lot of awesome connections and enjoyed the entire process (got a TON of free drinks whenever I went out as well, so there’s a hidden bonus). It was my first talk to the SEO industry and it was awesome to be able to do so with such a large audience between the crowd and the live stream.

I’m a massive introvert, so I really enjoyed that people came up to me after the talk, during the conference, and reached out on Facebook. As I’m almost never the one to initiate conversations, but I welcome them.

It was also cool for other influencers to reach out and say they liked my talk – people that I’ve read their content for years saying they like my stuff! (fangirling a little bit here).

I’m hoping to be able to give more talks to the industry in the future, get on more podcasts, etc. and grow that “personal brand” thing everyone seems hyped up about these days.

Tell us more about how you’re using automation to scale your agency.


We’ve all heard that “content is king” or (I heard this at a conference years ago and it stuck with me) “links are king, content is queen and she rules the kingdom”.

I think automation is king.

We all have 1 finite resource that rules our lives. And that’s time.

When we start to run out of time, we spend money.

We buy tools that help free up our time, we hire VAs, employees, or outsource some tasks to other agencies or freelancers.

We use automation to: save time, save money, do more work than competitors can within a given budget, AND profit more.

Instead of first thinking “how can I have someone else do what I’m doing”. I’m thinking “how can I automate what I’m doing so no one has to do it”.

I have some skills in programming, so I can hack something together or create pretty clear specifications to a professional developer. I’m also pretty decent at working with Google Sheets so, it’s not really “what” I can automate but “how”.

programming codes

And not all automation is practical. Sure, I could spend $20,000 creating some system to automate a task that costs me $250 per client – but, unless I’m working at volume or plan on creating a SASS product, wouldn’t be practical.

I digress.

Saving time is the most obvious benefit of automation.

Take Screaming Frog for instance. If we had to manually find and record all meta, header, etc. data from websites – it would take countless hours. Especially on large sites.

But, with Screaming Frog – we save all of those hours as it does it for us within a couple of minutes, depending on the size of the site.

But, by saving time you can also save money.

If your VA is maxed out and another VA will cost you $10,500/yr for full-time…

If automation frees your VA up enough to not have to hire another one right now – you just saved $10k by saving time.

Saving money is mostly also tied in with time.

The less time your VA or employees have to spend on a task, the more money you save.

But, there are also tools out there that cost us money that isn’t that hard to replicate through sheets or other means.

You may be paying $50-$100/month for a tool that finds emails on websites but you may be able to hire a dev to create your own tool for $250.

We also reduce our margin for error on tasks that are properly automated (too much to get into that here).

Instead of having a task that’s:

  • Export this report from Ahrefs
  • Import to spreadsheet
  • Remove these columns
  • Sort by this row
  • Format the document

You can have an SOP that’s just

  • Export this report from Ahrefs
  • Import to spreadsheet

And have automation take care of the rest.

You remove the possible errors from incorrect formatting, sorting, data parsing, etc.

All of this also allows you to potentially profit more.

If the original task took 5 hours @ $5/hour but the automation takes the task time to 5-minutes – assuming you charge the same for the work then you’ll make $24.58 more per instance of that task.

It’s not just “VA type” tasks that can automated either. There are plenty of automations that can be created for tasks at the $10-$50/hour level.

Each individual task automation may seem like small gains, but if you were able to reduce your costs per campaign by at least 10-20% and be able to take on 25% more clients per employee.

That’s a lot of potential profit.

guy with cash

You can also take the approach of investing back the save money into the campaign. Let’s say before automation you and your competitor have $500 in costs for a $1,000 campaign (per month).

Well, if you automate $150 worth of costs you can either:

  1. Charge the same and make an extra $150
  2. Reinvest the $150 so you’re doing $650 worth of work while only spending $500
  3. Do a mix of both. Make an extra $100 and do $550 worth of work for $500.

The competitive advantage here is clear.

Can you give us a list of tasks that you’ve automated?

Too many to list. I literally try to automate everything and anything. If we can’t automate an entire task, we automate as much of the process of that task as we can.

To give some examples, we use Google drive to store all our client work files, etc. The file structure looks something like this:

  • Folder
    • A couple of documents
    • Folder
      • A couple of documents
      • Folder
      • Folder
        • Folder
          • A dozen documents
        • Folder

Duplicating that is a pain. Either, duplicate each item in drive. OR export to zip file, import, and then change Word docs to Google Docs, etc. Takes at least 15-minutes to do.

So, we have a script that pulls in the root folder URL and duplicates each sub-folder and file while maintaining the structure and keeps each G doc as a G doc.

You’ll get this down below along with some other cool automations.

Each task we do usually has a template file which has all the formatting we need. Any importing we do (such as Ahrefs) has an import sheet in which we just upload the raw CSV from Ahrefs, and Sheets parses the data how we need it for that task.

I have some shell commands on my terminal that will instantly merge dozens of CSV or PDF docs which makes important to sheets a lot easier and it’s faster than the online tools that have the same functionality.

Instead of having someone like a VA or a non-technical employee or contractor edit Schema, I created a form through HTML & JavaScript where you just have to enter the details into the text box and on completion, it gives you the JSON-LD schema to add to the website.

automation meme

For account management, we have HTML & jQuery powered templates where we enter variables such as the name, links to documents, etc. Which will then spit out a couple of paragraphs that we then email to the client.

We’re in the process of running a cold client acquisition campaign which I got a couple different software that automated part of the process, a G sheet that has almost 2 dozen sheets for importing data from 3 different tools and helper documents to reformat data between sheets, I also hired a developer to create an App Script to build in a functionality into G sheets that will save tons of hours.

How much time (or money) do you feel like this is saving you?

A lot.

I have no idea when it comes to exact numbers, but…

There are tasks that used to take 8-hours that now take 5-minutes to manage the automation.

I’ve cut down on VA use considerably. I would need at least 1 if not 2 full-time VAs if I didn’t have the automation that I do.

But, I’ve also saved “ease of mind”. Taking complicated tasks that may have 15 steps but only take 15 minutes isn’t saving a lot of time or money – but it does save brain power to only have to do 1 or 2 of those steps yourself (or have someone else do them).

There are plenty more things we can automate that I just haven’t figured out the perfect solution for yet or just haven’t had the time to work on them (ironic, I know).

The more automation that I create, the more I know how to automate other things. It’s a cycle that pays itself continuous dividends.

Mind going into one of these automations in detail?  Can you give anything out?

Sure, I’ll give you some resources to share as well as some explanations into documents that aren’t going to be made public 🙂

I’ve already mentioned the Schema and Account Management automation (anyone with some HTML & JS experience should be able to replicate that relatively easily)

This is the G sheet we found that allows us to duplicate the folder structures I mentioned: http://techawakening.org/copy-folder-structure-contents-in-google-drive/2846/

Here’s a link where you can make a copy of our “Master Disavow” G sheet.

Using this sheet, you can export your link profile from Ahrefs, Search Console, Majestic, Open Link Profiler, and Moz into the respective sheets.

Then, the data is parsed through the “all links” sheet.

All duplicate links are removed and the link URLs and also stripped to the root domain (or subdomain) next to the full URL that you have a link from.

automate process

On the “all links” if you want to disavow a domain enter anything into the “disavow domain”  column for that row. Same for the URL.

If you disavow a domain, I recommend enter something into the “disavow domain” cell for each link from that domain. It makes filtering the sheet easier. The disavow sheet will parse out the duplicates.

This will then change the “A” column on the “disavow” sheet with the proper syntax for your disavow TXT file. Simply copy column A into a txt file and upload.

NOTE: G sheets can only handle a total of 2 million cells. Large link profiles should use a different solution.

This next one, we do have a public version, but it’s not as up to date as this one. This is how we automate part of the process for keyword research.

You can grab this sheet here.

We found that most vendors for citations and pillow links didn’t give us all the information we use for our link tracking documents. Referring URL, target URL, anchor, etc. So, VAs would then spend time going through 25-50+ URLs finding links, recording data, etc.

So, I hacked together a solution to speed up the process using Screaming Frog and Sheets.

You can grab this sheet here.To learn more about Jarod, check out his agency Team Blue Dog and his personal blog.

Jarod also gave an excellent workshop at Chiang Mai SEO Conference, which you should definitely check out: click here.

Gareth Daine – The Bandwagon Method

Gareth Daine image

Gareth is the founder of the fast-growing Facebook group Niche Affiliate Empires.

He is also very active in the UK SEO community, often holding events and brining up the knowledge base there.

He’s going to share a clever approach to getting hard to reach links.

Check it out…

Name: Gareth Daine

Age: 38

Location: UK

How long have you been an SEO and why did you start?

I’ve been in SEO since 2007.

I first got my start in internet marketing after following Ed Dale’s 30 Day Challenge.

Note from Matt: “So did I.”

It was all about helping you make your first dollar online and used “SEO” to help you do that.

In reality, it was actually a way for those guys to make a ton of affiliate commissions. Pretty genius, actually.

What kind of SEO are you focusing on these days?

I’m doing primarily client SEO, but have recently started moving into affiliate SEO, building out authority sites.

I’m charting my journey to $100k MRR in my Facebook group, Niche Affiliate Empires.

Tell us more about your Facebook group that you’ve started.  What’s it all about?

Niche Affiliate Empires has grown quite rapidly since I started it in June 2018.

We now have over 2.2k members all either currently working in affiliate SEO or interested in learning.

niche affiliate empires

It’s all about my journey to $100k MRR building and growing authority affiliate sites with SEO.

As part of the content I produce for the group, I interview many high-profile affiliates and SEOs, including people like Tim Soulo, Craig Campbell, Aaron Orendorf, and our very own Matt Diggity.

You have a unique outreach approach that I’d like to hear about.  Spill the beans.

OK, so this is something I came up with in the summer of 2016.

I call it the Bandwagon Method.

It’s really simple but super-powerful.

The reason this method is so cool is that it leverages other people’s already written and published content and it incentivizes site owners to publish because it’s little work on their part, gives them new content to use, and access to a new audience for them to have their content promoted to when they republish.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. You find expert roundups in your niche (see example)
  2. You write a contribution for the roundup.
  3. You reach out to site owners and explain why you’re an expert, why you loved the post, and that you’ve taken the liberty of writing a contribution for them and how you’d love to promote it to your relevant audience.

This is great for site owners because, as you know, republishing and re-promoting old content is a great way to gain extra traffic, shares, and links and it’s very little work for them. Plus, it gives them a little ego boost that an ‘expert’ wanted to contribute off their own bat.

outreach connections

It’s great for you because it’s an easy sell, the link is in content and highly niche relevant, it’s very little work in terms of content creation, and it has a higher outreach success rate because the contribution is tailored to the exact post you want the link from and so the email has to be very specific, and personalised.

What are success rates with this approach?

It’s highly niche dependent and can have varying results depending on a few factors, including:

  • How many roundups you can find.
  • The type and scope of experts in the niche.
  • How well you can present you or your client as an expert in the field.

It can work in any niche, but it’s particularly effective in niches that publish a lot of roundups, such as the marketing niche.

When I first did a small test of this technique, I sent 4 emails and received 5 links. Others have had similar results.

Has it gotten you access to some powerful links?

Yes, definitely.

I acquired links on several high-profile marketing blogs, including robbierichards.com, talkwalker.com, outreachplus.com and several others.

The key to this technique is that the links are highly relevant.

Can you give us a sample template of how that first email outreach would look?

Hey {name},

Just wanted to reach out to say how much I enjoyed reading {post}. 🙂 Really great work in bringing all of those expert opinions together.

As an expert in {niche} myself, it’s great to see such a diverse range of opinions on {topic}. I particularly {emotion} reading about {subject}.

I was so impressed, that I took the time to write my own contribution for the piece, I hope you like it.

Let me know if you include it in your piece and I’ll share it out on social and to my subscribers.

Great work.

Gareth Daine

{link} – {bio} – {social}

What are your favorite tools for outreach?

My favourite tools for outreach are:

    • Mailshake
    • BuzzSumo
    • Gmail
    • Excel
    • SellHack & Hunter.io

I also like to occasionally use D7 lead finder.

Any other tips for SEOs that might be reading this?

When using the Bandwagon Method, you can find roundups using the following tools and techniques.

1. Ahrefs

ahrefs homescreen

Find a person in your niche that does a lot of expert roundups.

Enter their site into Ahrefs and look at their DoFollow links.

Collate all of the roundups in there and add them to your outreach spreadsheet.

2. Use These Search Operators

[keyword] + “expert tips”

[keyword] + “experts share”

[keyword] + “share tips”

[keyword] + “share advice”

[keyword] + “share insights”

[keyword] + “expert insights”

[keyword] + “share strategies”

[keyword] + “insights”

[keyword] + “expert strategies”

[keyword] + “expert”

[keyword] + “experts”

[keyword] + “pros”

[keyword] + “professionals”

[keyword] + “gurus”

[keyword] + “expert advice”

3. Use Twitter

twitter birds

One great way of finding expert roundups is to use social media.

Specifically, Twitter.

  1. Go to the Twitter advanced search
  2. In the ‘All of these words’ field enter your primary search term, for example ‘content marketing’
  3. In the ‘Any of these words’ field enter a comma-separated list of qualifiers: expert tips, experts share, share tips, share advice, share insights, expert insights, share strategies, insights, expert strategies, expert, experts, pros, professionals, gurus, expert advice.

4. Hit search

This will bring up Tweets that match that search.

Often, you’ll find lots of expert roundup posts.

Try variations of the Twitter advanced search to find more roundups.

  1. Use BuzzSumo
  2. Under ‘Most Shared’ enter a search phrase in quotes followed by a qualifier “content marketing” + expert (do this for each qualifier).
  3. Select Article, Guest Posts and Interviews as the content type and hit search.
  4. Collate all the expert roundups.

To catch up with Gareth, check him out at garethdaine.com

David Attard – Using GSC to Fine Tune Your Keyword Targeting

David Attard

David’s a clever guy.

He’s been a huge asset to other members of The Affiliate Lab.

I even brought him on an internal webinar to discuss some clever hacks he had on click-through-rate.

You’re going to like this simple technique for fine-tuning onsite content for quick gains.

Name: David Attard

Age: 38

Location: Malta

How did you get into SEO?

Back when I was starting out online, particularly in web design, I used to do plenty of research and “teach myself” by blogging about specific topics which I needed polishing up on. Given that I used to be pretty comprehensive with the topics, they quickly started to rank so obviously, once I started getting traffic, I wanted more … which lead me to SEO.

What flavor of SEO do you do?  Affiliate? Client? Lead gen?

Client and affiliate mostly.

Tell us about your strategy for content optimization?

One of my go to strategies for boosting traffic on a page-by-page level comes straight from the horse’s mouth – Google, or more specifically the Google Search Console.

content optimization strategy

Essentially, what I do is look at my site on a page-by-page level, checking what queries are generating impressions for each specific page. When I write a page, it’s usually keyword researched and targeted at specific queries. However, more often than not, I discover that Google is sending impressions (with medium rankings 15+) to that page with queries I had actually never thought about.

Other times, there are queries for which my page doesn’t have information for, or the search intent is not being addressed correctly.

When I identify these gaps, or better ranking / traffic possibilities, I develop a strategy on how to improve the rankings of those queries.

Can you give us an example of how this works?

1) Go to Search Console > Performance, click on Pages, and select a page you want to analyze to filter on it.

2) Switch back to the Queries tab

You can now see which current queries are generating the most traffic and clicks to that page. But we want to see the potential. So click on the Impressions column, to sort by the number of impressions, instead of clicks.

3) Click on CTR and Average Position to get all the information pertinent to that page.

You now can see which queries your page is already ranking for, including the position you are ranking for.

click through rate sample

You can see that the page above has already been given this treatment and is ranking for the query which is sending the most impressions.

But even if we optimize for rows 3+, there are 10,000 more impressions we can improve the rankings for. In particular, rows 3, 4 and 5 have a lot of potential for improvements, particularly because they are very close when it comes to search intent.

Once you have the keywords you want to target, go the whole nine yards. Ideally, drop the keywords into the page, if possible with a full heading and a good piece of content around that, so that you can actually pick up a site link for that heading/query. Perform other standard optimizations, such as internal or off-page linking with those keywords.

Do you do it for every page?  What’s the best way to 80-20 this?

It’s best to do it systematically for each page, particularly where you have pages which are already ranking nicely, because Google already loves that page, so go ahead and make it even better.

I typically go for anything which has a decent search volume, and am already ranking from 10 to position 50, which gives me a good shot at ranking it up to first positions.

To start optimizing, go for just the keywords ranking up to position 20, those are fairly easy to hit quickly.

What are some gains you’ve seen from this strategy?

Have a look at the screenshot below.

CTR from strategy sample david

I wrote an article targeting the query in row 4, but discovered keyword(s) now in rows 1, 2 and 3. As can be seen, even if the SERP position is actually lower, the sheer search volume of keywords in rows 1, 2 and 3 sends 5X times the traffic. This is a money keyword and converts pretty well, so that was a very nice win.

Got any big plans for 2019?

Rank a new project in a pretty lucrative niche and making affiliate income my strongest income 🙂

Check out David’s Agency here at Collective Ray.

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Article by

Matt Diggity

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.