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How to Build Domain Authority from the Ground Up

Episode Overview: Establishing a new domain quickly and building your authority and reputation with it can take effort and coordination. Join host Ben as he speaks with Searchmetrics’ SEO Strategist and Advisor Jordan Koene about how to elevate a relatively new domain using organic search traffic.


  • The best way to utilize backlinks is with leveraging your existing relationships, partnerships and conversations you have on a routine basis to build your authority.
  • Leveraging relationships requires collaborative communication. If you ask an author or guest on your podcast to share your content on their site, you should extend the same courtesy to them and their content.
  • Bundled digital assets such as podcast episodes with white papers encourage users to share content more often.


Ben:                  Welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. And today we’ll be continuing our case study about how to get a relatively new domain up and running with organic search traffic. Joining us again today is Jordan Koene, who is an SEO strategist and advisor to Searchmetrics. Okay. On with the show. Here’s the second part of my conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategist and advisor to Searchmetrics.

Ben:                  Jordan, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Jordan:           What’s up, Ben?

Ben:                  Hey.

Jordan:           Hey.

Ben:                  Let’s jump right back into it.

Jordan:           Yeah.

Ben:                  You broke my heart yesterday. I asked you for help. I asked you to look at the website. We’re doing a little case study here. It’s my baby. It’s got 300 pages. Most of them are show notes for the other podcast that I do. We’re not getting any traffic other than our brand named MarTech podcast. And you walk me through, technical, you’re okay. Could be better, could be worse. Content, Google’s crawling it. You’re ranking, but you’re averaging 70 something in the rankings. And I asked you, “Hey, is it a content problem or is it an authority problem?” And you said, “Nobody knows or cares about your brand.” Maybe not in those words, but that’s what I heard. I have a linking problem.

Jordan:            Yes.

Ben:                   How the heck do I fix that?

Jordan:            First of all, I think that get used to the disappointment train here, Ben. So there’s more things to fix here, but all part of growing a brand online. And I don’t think that any of this is unhealthy or different than what other new websites have to go through. And so ultimately, there’s a real sense of how you focus on this topic. So is it really about building links, or is it about how I’m gaining awareness? And I think if you think of it from the latter perspective, the ideas really can start to flow around what will ultimately generate both links, but also really what you’re looking for is a footprint for your website across the web.

Ben:                  Okay. So what I’m hearing is we’re saying link building, obviously, that’s something that’s trackable and very clear, but really what we’re talking about is building authority and recognition for the brand. And Google looks at a lot of other signals. Talk to me about what some of those signals are. I’m assuming social media, right? People start talking about the brand on social probably counts.

Jordan:            That’s right. That’s right. Obviously, social and the social presence is one of those, right? It’s not just about leveraging your own social profile, but really about how other people are mentioning and in referencing that social profile, and then also the website itself.

Ben:                   Well, let’s talk about that. I have a seven person following for the MarTech pod Twitter handle. If I get tens of thousands of people to follow that domain, doesn’t that give Google a signal that people are potentially interested in the topic?

Jordan:            Yes and no. I would say that the answer to that question doesn’t lie in the yes/no statement. It lies more in the engagement. So it’s really about are the people who are reading the content that’s on your social profiles, engaging with it and distributing it more, so that you can gain that awareness footprint? It’s more about are those 10,000 fans actually mentioning the content that you’re publishing? And let’s just take it from this perspective, if one of those fans is leveraging the content that you’re publishing, versus the seven fans in the other scenario, and all seven are promoting that content, I’d rather have the seven fans who are promoting the content than the one fan in my 10,000.

Ben:                   Okay. So what matters is how much your content is being circulated or how much your brand is being discussed. Google’s able to take that signal as authority. So I got to grow my Twitter handle, but also have people share my content, do the same thing on Facebook-

Jordan:            Correct.

Ben:                   Build a page on LinkedIn. There’s a couple of links that I can just basically drop by creating a bunch of these profiles. I’m assuming that might help a little bit, show that the platform is legitimate and is not just trying to drive SEO traffic.

Jordan:            Exactly.

Ben:                   At the end of the day, you’ve got to get people to talk about it, and backlinks are an important strategy. This is where I go and I pay somebody who emailed me saying, I can get you to rank number one in Google. And they’re just going to buy me a bunch of backlinks, right? That’s what we do here.

Jordan:             I wouldn’t advise that. But if you want to have some entertaining conversations in the middle of the night, you can respond back to those emails. The reality here is that you want to come up with an organic, natural way of producing this awareness in these backlinks. And so oftentimes, the best place to start to mine for that is in your own backyard. There are partnerships, relationships, conversations that you’re already having on a daily, weekly basis, that can enable you to build that footprint online. And it’s really about how you package things. How are you packaging a story or a followup or an asset that you want shared, distributed, embedded on other sites? And I think that that’s the best place to start is really in your own backyard. It’s not about hiring somebody to try to get you some links, especially at this size and this early in the website’s development, your best resource is the resource you’re already tapping into every day.

Ben:                    So I have to go to the 300 people that I’ve interviewed for the MarTech podcast, and I have to send them the audio recordings with a little snippet of copy with the link that I want them to share, saying “Here’s the content assets that we created for you. I’d love for you to publish them on your site. I’m also going to add you to our speaker profile page and add you to our community and kiss your butt.”

Jordan:             That’s right. That’s right. And I think that packaging that neatly in some sort of an outreach kit or a followup after an episode has been published, these assets, you should think of them very, very carefully. Oftentimes, they’re thought of as just a one way communication. But in fact, it’s really a two way communication, where you’re asking that author or that guest on the podcast to do, is to enable the content that they’ve co-produced with you on their own media and digital assets. And so getting that exposure to your website, as well as the episode itself, and getting people to download the episode, which is clearly one of the goals, is ultimately what you’re trying to do here. And it’s very natural. It’s very organic, and it’s very connected with what your brand and message is trying to convey.

Ben:                    Here’s my problem, Jordan.

Jordan:             Tell me.

Ben:                    This sounds like it’s going to take a lot of effort and a lot of time to move from the hundred and something domains that are currently referring to us to thousands of domains, which we probably need to start ranking. How do I cut the line here? How do I expedite this process?

Jordan:             So there’s a few different ways to think about expediting this process. One of them is really kind of creating various assets that you can use to distribute and to generate even more awareness. So a couple of ideas, you’re in the MarTech space. So maybe what you’re going to be thinking about here is how can I get digital goods or digital assets that other people are going to want to share in bed or publish on their own platforms? And so this could be things like white papers. This could be things like bundling some of the episodes that you have. This could be even partnerships with the guests that you have, to create some sort of a digital good that can be exchanged or transferred to create awareness in messaging back to the MarTech pod website.

Jordan:              And so that, I think, it’s also a very heavy lifting process, but in so doing, it’s not a one by one process, it’s a tool or an asset that then can be scaled out to hundreds or thousands of publishers who can point back to your site.

Ben:                     Okay. So I go create a white paper talking about what I’ve learned from the MarTech podcast or what the trends are for 2020. And I share it with a bunch of people, and hopefully that gets around the internet and gets posted on everybody’s page. Sounds a little pie in the sky. I’m not that great of a writer. I’m not sure if that’s going to work.

Jordan:              Sure.

Ben:                     I think one of the other questions that I have for you is you mentioned, hey, go and create partnerships. What I’m doing my interviews, should I be looking for people that have domain authority and large social following and prioritizing them because they have more authority and potentially would give me a link? Or should I just be looking at volume? The number of links that are there?

Jordan:              Yeah. I think that you should be looking more at that authority concept. If you get MarTech experts that can really expand your audience, if you get to a Simon Sinek to be a guest on the podcast, this suddenly becomes a very valuable resource to be associated with. He’s in the space, he’s a thought leader. He can then expand the MarTech podcast into his audience and the website by virtue of that. And so I think that absolutely you should be looking at who your guests are and the authority that they carry on their both personal websites, their corporate websites, and then ensuring that communication and partnership, during or before that episode is recorded, is very clear. And that stipulation is clearly stated as part of that engagement.

Ben:                    Okay. So I’m going to go and I’m going to find some high profile marketers, and I’m going to invite them to be a guest on my podcast with the idea that they’re going to help build the authority. Instead of me having to go look for thousands of links back to my site, maybe I can cut that down to tens or hundreds of really, really good links. Are there any other ways that you suggest that I can start building the authority for this site?

Jordan:              Yeah. This last one is kind of a hot topic because there’s a lot of misleading information about this, but it is what you’d consider advertising, so why not go out and buy some placements and advertise your business and your brand on relevant trafficked websites that you feel you can connect with that audience? And I think that that is yes, it’s a paid placement. Yes, in theory, there’s a lot of speculation on whether or not this passes authority and so forth and so on. But my general sentiment on it is that, even if there isn’t a very directional benefit to SEO, there’s a huge halo that’s going to impact your performance in SEO. And so advertising, and digital advertising in particular, in my opinion, is one of the key ways to lift up the brand in its early days.

Ben:                     Okay. So you want me to go and find who has some influence in the marketing space and ask them to be on the podcast and potentially put my money where my mouth is, and actually pay for some sponsorships or some other activities that might get me some links. It sounds like we’re talking a little gray hat here aren’t we, Jordan?

Jordan:               I wouldn’t necessarily go that far. You want it to really stay relevant. I think that that’s what’s really important here. Are there websites that you feel can gravitate towards? The reality is, especially for small to mid-sized businesses, one of the best places that I always recommend them to focus on is your own backyard again. There are probably local news and media websites that you can just reach out to, and you can build a relationship with. And this is not gray hat work. This is all about partnerships. And it is genuinely about awareness. There are a variety of rules that we don’t need to get into on this in this episode, but there are a variety of rules when you do have paid placements or advertisements and how you link back. But like I said, the real goal here is the halo effect of that paid advertising.

Ben:                     Okay, well, let’s summarize real quick. It sounds like, hey, we’re doing okay from a technical perspective or good enough for what we can do on a Squarespace site. The content is also good enough. I got to build some authority. And the first thing you’re suggesting is look at the existing content that we have and try to go back to the people that we’ve worked with and just give them an asset that they can put on their site that’s going to help drive some backlinks for the relationships we already have. Start thinking about SEO with who we’re doing our outreach for, to drive higher domain authority back links for our up and coming links. And then the last part is, there’s this idea of going out and sponsoring and promoting and building authority through paid advertising or not necessarily buying links directly, but doing marketing activities that will result in a link, which sounds a little like buying links. That’s also another way that you can drive some domain authority as well.

Jordan:             That’s right, Ben. That’s absolutely correct. And I think that there’s baby steps in all of these efforts, and yes, it does take time, but with the right level of effort, you can succeed, and you will be the number one MarTech website on the planet.

Ben:                    Someday. Someday, Jordan. All right. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategist, and advisor to Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is JTKoene, that’s J-T-K-O-E-N-E. Or you can visit his personal website, which is

Ben:                    Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you’re listening to this podcast, I know I didn’t, I’m going to head over to, where we have the summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is Voices of Search on Twitter. And my personal handle is Ben J Shap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P on Twitter. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, in addition to the last part of our case study, where Jordan and I talk about how we are going to optimize for organic rankings, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right. That’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.

Jordan Koene

Jordan Koene

Previously the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc, Jordan Koene is an Advisor to Searchmetrics, supporting the thought leadership and innovation. Prior to working at Searchmetrics he was the Head of SEO and Content Development at eBay where he led the development of content and technical improvements for the organization. He is an expert in SEO with over 20 year’ experience in the field.

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