Embark on a thrilling exploration of the digital frontier with digital marketing virtuoso Aaron Barefoot as he joins forces with your host Joeri Billast to decode the secrets of Web3 SEO. Unveiling a world where organic discoverability reigns supreme, Aaron casts a light on the indispensable role of SEO in connecting audiences to the blockchain marvels. From the intricacies faced by entities in the crypto sphere to the clever maneuvers around paid advertising constraints, this episode promises to arm you with the knowledge to navigate the digital marketing landscape with the finesse of an industry titan.
This episode takes you beyond the usual tactics, examining how fledgling businesses can harness the untapped potential of niche markets and privacy-focused search engines to compete with established giants. Through our vibrant discussion, we also shed light on the pivotal impact of community engagement and digital PR in shaping the success of Web3 SEO strategies. My own ventures in content creation echo throughout the episode, sharing lessons from the field in engaging audiences across diverse platforms. Whether you're a digital marketing newbie or a seasoned pro, prepare to have your horizons broadened and your strategies sharpened in this deep dive into SEO's next frontier.
This episode was recorded through a Podcastle call on November 28, 2023. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/web3-seo-with-aaron-barefoot-strategies-for-organic-discoverability-including-ai/
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I applied AI content and I've just plugged it on all these different platforms and I've seen myself ranking number one. I've outranked PlayStation, Chainlink, and I know for a fact they have a team of probably much better writers than me, right? They probably have a nice one, right?Joeri:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm excited to be joined by Aaron. Aaron, how are you?Aaron:
I'm great, Joeri, thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to talk today and I'm doing well, thank you.Joeri:
I'm good, we actually are more or less in the same time zone. It's quite yeah, thank you.Aaron:
Yeah, you never know, I never know. I never assume anyone's having to see me so much.Joeri:
So I'm from Belgium, so that's one of our time difference. But now people are Aaron wondering oh, who is this, aaron? Guys, I have Aaron Barefoot on the show, so he's a LinkedIn connection for me. We connected and now was a good time to have him on because he's the co-founder of Cold Chain and that's Web3 Digital Marketing Agency. He's a marketing consultant with experience across Web3, Fintech, and TradeFi. He's now a consultant and co-founder helping projects and brands with their digital marketing across Web3. Leading companies such as Polkadot, Astarnetwork, Aurora, Barclays, SEG, and others to explore and expand their digital capabilities. But then the thing that I would like to talk about is your specialization in SEO. So your campaigns have been recognized and for several awards, as the Drum Marketing, US Search Awards, and you also have written a book. You did a lot of stuff, Aaron, but yeah, for today I would like to ask you an introductory question about Web3 SEO. Can you explain a bit, yeah, what Web3 SEO is exactly and how it's different from the traditional SEO?Aaron:
Sure, I think of many things, especially with digital marketing and SEO. Web3 can be conceived in a few ways, right, Web3 being the kind of space and decentralized technologies and also the semantic web as well, the 3.0. So obviously, when I think about Web3, SEO, to me it refers to being discoverable for anyone that's looking for your blockchain protocol, your NFT collection, looking to trade on decentralized exchanges or maybe even like centralized exchanges in most cases, but looking for anything that's relevant and within the realm of Web3 and discovering organically. So, of course, a lot of people when they're reading about Web3, they're using things like Google that find places like Coin Telegraph and CoinGecko exchanges, any information on any kind of token. They'll probably start with Google search or they may even expand it to Brave or Yahoo or Baidu and X globally. There's many ways and many people. They're looking for things like Bitcoin or Ethereum, anything to do with the latest fiasco and crypto and Web3, those kind of news outlets to some extent utilize SEO and particularly utilize essentially what our traditional Web2 channels but effectively are focused on new and emergent tech that is Web3. So, to my experience, as you could have done SEO specifically for around a decade and then started working in fintech and digital assets and then eventually started working directly at Blockchain Protocol, which is shepherd by parity technologies, who build and developed Polkadot. So then there's a whole kind of different world of people looking for blockchain protocols, looking for kind of SDKs and all these Web3 kind of deep tech elements. And then it expanded into helping out smaller projects that maybe are launching NFTs or a centralized exchange or a marketplace or whatever it might be. But then they real quickly realized that a lot of that traffic actually comes from Google or the country specific version, which might be like sort of like Naver or Baidu in China or Yandex in Russia or whatever it might be. And then you realize that there's a very early space and a lot of technologies that people search that you're providing, I should say, don't necessarily exist at this stage. So of course, there's not much search demand for one stage like ZKVM what's new emerging search technology? Right, there wasn't any demand for zero knowledge. EVM chains or anything like that, so it didn't exist to that stage. And then, once they become well known and adopted and popular, people then want to potentially have their ZKVM utilized. So a kind of way to do that on the kind of B2C side a consumer using your blockchain or protocol or DAP more specifically or on the B2B side, where someone's offering ZKVM technology and understanding like zero knowledge proofs, there's sets of people that are looking for that specific product right. So to me that means that SEO is really prevalent to your product, to your protocol or to your DAP, because in my opinion, it's the most cost effective way to bring users to your protocol or to your product. So of course, you can do paid ads. Paid ads are very difficult to fill up the ground. In the crypto space particularly, there's a lot of regulation, a lot of SCA. In the UK particularly, and globally, as we know, the SEC and all these kind of people make it very difficult to run paid advertising and social advertising. Just be very careful With SEO. It's a bit more lenient, I would say, and it's a bit more. There's a much more cost effective way to attract these users say. That's like as a nutshell of how I see it, why. I see it being useful for products and protocols.Joeri:
Yeah, indeed, and you make a good point that if you try to run an ad with the word crypto or Web3 or something NFT, it maybe is not even approved by all this, by Google or by Facebook or by Twitter or whatever, you can have even your accounts suspended and so on.Aaron:
I've seen that many times yeah.Joeri:
I have also seen that, and then some even with other words. So you cannot really depend on that. SEO is more fair bet or more like a better bet, but it takes time, of course. Now there is also the fact you mentioned Google. Yeah, you have the bigger brands, of course, have more resources there. If you look now on Google search on Google, the ones that are on top are the ones with the bigger budgets, probably the most content out. Now Web3 promises. I would say more transparent, reliable, fair environment for online visibility. Is that already the case? Because you mentioned Google for SEO, can maybe smaller businesses have a better chance to win in SEO?Aaron:
Yeah, so I think in SEO as a macro product. Yes, In terms of Google now, because Google, of course, is centralized in terms of there's decentralized search engines, such as pre-search, and smaller, more specified user-based like Brave, like we said earlier about, say, you can get a head start in these spaces that have smaller reach, but you can get a head start. You can obviously win a bit more of a share of voice. The problem is that the amount of voice is much less alright. I think I touched on it at the beginning around the decentralized Web, the semantic Web, which is a Web3. 0. Now that, in essence, could become something that we see more in the future. We have a fairer decentralized web, but do I think that Google would be the people to bring that in?Joeri:
Google. I've got to Google as a kind of account manager. When you work with Google, that remit is to sell more ads to you. No-transcript. Most of their revenue is generated by through Google Ads and if you're a crypto product, then inherently you're less likely to be spending money on Google Ads because your ads can be banned. They I think they're kind of move right now is in the Google Cloud space or in the kind of data storage space which is pretty much on the back end. It's not in the kind of realm or remit of search and kind of consumer behavior, but I do think they want to be available in their space and I think if we, being the people that the grassroots users of demand the Web3 kind of transparency, we'd have to shift where they listen to and shift the pay of our wallets right. Start using other vote of our wallets. I should say, start using other search engines and other places where you know that they actually do abide by that transparency, because Google inherently is not transparent, right? They have a 200 plus algorithm factor that no one knows. So they're inherently dark arts kind of thing, I know that. Yandex actually leaked their algorithm and had about 200 points that you can see and it's safe to say they're most likely quite similar to Google's ranking signals right, yeah, but there's like a myriad of things, like I said, like the main age and the amount of content being produced. But I think now in the space, you can utilize AI to bridge that gap, if you use it ethically, and you can bridge a bit of that gap right. And a lot of big players will focus on the kind of bigger generic terms, higher volume. But you can make a space yourself in the new kind of technologies right. So, as I said, if you have a new emergent technology or product, then that space can be yours. If you play it right, if you approach it, if you approach it meaningfully and tactically, you can own that space. If you develop a new project or a new piece of technology that you can position it so that you appear for Wikipedia or associated with that technology from the get go, which to me is like an opportunity for anyone to be seen as credible and gather traffic for their own kind of protocol technologies. But yeah, it is difficult to compete with the big players. I think that's the strength of SEO as well to discover the smaller areas where you can play and have a better chance of winning. Whereas, again, if you want to bid on, say, fine, Fintech or insurance, so one of these like infamously high CPA keywords, and of course you have to pay a lot, right, whereas if you can cover a thousand smaller ads, a much lower CPA, then you can bridge the gap a little bit. But yeah, it's essentially a game of kind of market share and I think we'll may develop and change in the future. If not, we can always. Maybe we'll want to some new other providers because Google is starting to lose market share a little bit with the likes of DocGo and people that are very aware and familiar of their data being sold and their privacy. So I think this is a precursor to a true centralized web. Right, people are more familiar and more aware that their data is being sold to people like Qatar and whoever they're being sold to nefariously and they're collecting your IP and they're collecting your data and I think this is like the first step right, privacy and owning your data. I think that's like the first step to the centralized web and if we continue our trend of Google loses market share and decentralized or Web 3 spaces picking up their market share, then we can see that grow and I think it's becoming great, potentially like my Kickstarter movement that might be more well received.Joeri:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and this is also where the audience is that you want to reach. Of course, if you have a business, you have a Web2 business. Probably people are searching on Google. If you have a web to free business, then your audience is using this alternative search indexes. Then, therefore, you want to be ranked. Of course, you mentioned Doc Go like one of them. What can we do if you have a Web3 business to? Is it the same thing as you up to creating content, making sure that you're back link, doing something else, or is there? Are there other advices or tips that are different in Web3 that you have to be ranked?Aaron:
Hmm, yeah, to your point that the guy by example that's our tension is, I think it's just based on on the same as being a year, one of the two. So I think like they have the same in terms of the kind of the back end of how you want to win on that search engine. It's very similar, right Is they use the same kind of technology and I say you got same algorithms to avoid People be able to just to take all of the kind of search demand right, nothing effectively. The main differentiator really is to just to understand that you have a bigger mix of spaces that you can appear in. So, of course, if you do anything that is seen as enterprise, blockchain or Web 2.5. We want to drive like Web2 business to use a protocol or you want to drive New like net new users to your NFT. If you want to drive net, yeah you're gonna have to read you have to reach that Web2 people because you need to convert them. If you want to Reach that, new stakers or new people holding your taken, then likely the cap of people that already hold it is not gonna suit. You have to bring in new people and that we can't really say if they're new to crypto or not. They're new to your kind of website, into your wallet or to your yeah. I think the main differentiator is to understand you can split across like a myriad of different search engines. Like I said, like the researchers, the Braves, the DocG o's, and I think in their infancies, right, they're still starting out so Brave. For example, you're not gonna get late analytics or or like a webmaster status or any kind of really robust data, but you can like, not natively use, within Brave. So I guess my mind is always, when you do a testing of a new release, you always want to test like the bottom, like the intellect explorer, right, to make sure it works on the least viable protocol, at least viable product, and I think it's the same with S. Yeah, right, you want to make sure you can win on the MVP, the Google of the world, and if you can win on Google, then you can win on all these other places, because they're gonna have a Very similar algorithm, likely to Google, to the Yahoo and beings of the world, and then you can take that and and run it down and what's play across different spaces. And then you want to utilize your community which I think is something else, is a bit more unique to rep for you like a discourse and telegrams and have them share it across your kind of descent, your community platforms in order to drive like Kind of instant awareness and traffic to that kind of spot. There's something I think yeah, what freaking galvanize like an audience and the community much quicker than potentially like a Web 2 kind of space. Right, like Lloyds Bank, it's probably not gonna ask all of its account holders to start reading about the new release, but if you have a really loyal community you can also utilize that as well to drive your SEO. And, yes, I think backlinks and all of the other elements still come into play. It's just a matter of. I'm sure you're aware of how much People spend on like digital PR within the crypto space because, again, like, if you're not, if you're not in the depths of someone's telegram, they're reading all their recent releases and reading their docs and their blogs and it's very hard to know about what I've done recently, or a big release I've done, or a partnership or something that kind of really builds momentum to your protocol. I think we have, yeah, those like links in those spaces obviously really help as well. I think we all can acknowledge that PR is still really important for your project and we can also do it across Web3 dedicated blogs and outlets. Nothing is very much the same for kind of SEO. Right, you have to nail the big player and then, once you can travel down into the smaller ecosystem Smaller such engines, that's, smaller places that you can win it.Joeri:
Yeah, I think you mentioned also the word a community, which is like very more important in Web 3 and Comparing to, and also you mentioned also AI. Actually, if you want to show up somewhere, I read it somewhere that if you will look for A Web 3 company and this was three companies makes a lot of content on Web2 platforms like looking, for instance, this is not found like that on Google or on other search indexes. What is found this content like on personal blogs or blogs. That's what I try to do with creating my podcast, with creating my blogs, by creating content and by, of course, sharing this with the community and having them interacting. What do you think about that strategy? Or could I, because the podcast, maybe you have seen the blog Optimize it still is the length of articles also still important is the fact, even if it's done with AI, is the length important?Aaron:
Hmm, yes, I think the length it's important in terms of a best practice right. I think it's one of those annoying SEO answers where people always say it yeah, yeah. Because you in the context of, let's say, your podcast. Just make it a bit more tangible if you want to have a wider remit and say you're obviously producing like a Web3 marketing podcast, like a Web3 podcast or CMR podcast or wherever might be there's a few as many stages that where you can appear to someone like me, so if I also have to do good, like Web3 marketing podcast you want to appear? Yeah, obviously of course, yeah. So you want to have content that speaks to obviously what you do and your process and your guests and, obviously, every time you release a new blog post on a new guest, you can also optimize that piece as well. And you want to also utilize that your guest names, your guest following, your guest kind of community, if they have a big enough one, and that's just on the website, right? So you can do that on the website by utilizing keywords and and driving links to, I'd say, the most Centralized version of your product.Joeri:
Yeah, would be a website, right.Aaron:
So you want to drive authority to the website and then you can utilize things like medium and LinkedIn and Twitter and reddit. And I've done all this with AI. I've been testing it a bit. I've just tried AI content and I've just plugged it on all these different platforms and I've seen myself like ranking number one for things like about ranked place like chain link. I know for a fact they have like a team of Probably much better writers than me, right, they probably have a slightly strong academic team that brilliant for this kind of thing, and I just managed to write an AI content blog and it's our rank them and like with no spend or no kind of budget. I think that really speaks to the difference between that good content and Not to say that you shouldn't make good content, but the difference between I could content and well optimized content. Now, of course, if you've got a nice content, that's not very good and eventually you have a very high bounce rate and Google will take those kind of factors and say this isn't good content, like people aren't using it or engaging them. So the mix of best practice, of the length of content they want to produce and understanding how to optimize that content, and I think my opinion is that the best kind of way to do that is to have someone who's a dedicated content writer, really knows like the protocol of the tech or, in your case, what you know, your podcast and you can have someone give you an outline and a structure for a CEO and say you should use this content, use this keyword kind of structure in such a way that we give you the best chance of being found. And that's all I see it, because you know you can't be an expert in all things as much as people would like to be, like I wish I could be an expert in like FTSE Russell and FX and crypto and Web3 and everything all at once, but unfortunately, if you learn just that, you can't learn the skills of the marketing rates. Everyone has like X amount of time in a day and I think, yeah, I dedicate just to SEO, for example, or the digital market. Yeah and because Web3 so early, I think people can get in the place now, and I mean those spaces that might be not so popular now, so maybe there's not so much search like Web3 marketing podcast, but let's say we have like huge ball run and then suddenly you've got a polygon founder on your yeah, yeah, it's like that man.Joeri:
But it's also when you do things when it's not so popular, like in the beginning days of social media, I've been on your website or smart phones if you are early. Like I was able to build this audience with this podcast because there are not so many podcasts talking about Web3 marketing and that's by just going for this niche. So you have this audience that is loyal, that is coming back, and so I try to be present In different places. Like obviously there is it's hosted on busprout, it's on Apple podcast, google, spotify, everywhere. I also have a few episodes on on on YouTube. There is the blog. A lot of people find the podcast through Google, through the blog, and then I'm just playing a bit with AI, ChatGPT, working on the transcript. But what are tools that do that? Long for long content, shorter content, thinking of? Should I write actually for people listening to the show and wanting a resume, like a short summary, or people just want to read all about it. Some people just like to consume. So I am testing also a bit to see what is working, what is not working. And now, by talking to you, then I'm wondering, okay, what are all the channels that I still where I can be there, where there are not so many people but where I can dominate, like we just mentioned, the Maybe the duck go, where I'm not optimizing for that. I'm not really checking. I could check those other medium. I'm not consistently doing that, but that's also something. Now I've changed my newsletter From Raza to Behive, so that's another place I like to be present.Aaron:
Yeah, I think you do a point about the niche audience, that this is a very powerful and very established technique in SEO, which is called, like, long tail SEO. So long tail SEO is discover. There's a lot of, actually, what's very interesting. There's a lot of what they call a zero search keywords. So, there's lots of keywords that I've found that tell me that there's no zero searches for a per month, and then I write a blog about it and then suddenly I'm getting traffic. So someone of course has to be searching for this keyword, right? But because it's zero search, the odds are that no one else is going to be optimized for this keyword because they think that no one's looking for it. But actually I'm getting traffic with this keyword that people think doesn't exist To me. If you can do that many times the kind of really niche person looking for a very niche thing yeah, if you offer, like I said, if you're in the blockchain space, people are still building the technology right, so there's always going to be a new kind of tangential thing that you can adopt and want to appear for. If you think, okay, we can appear for all these kind of keywords that if we use like trends, research and market research and even like qualitative research, like surveys and even conversations you have with BD, you can start to do a bit of research and say is there traction here? Is there enough traction here to warrant buildings and content? And even if you don't have time, like I said, you can use some AI and just test it out and, like I said, I've found like zero search keywords and made an AI blog and then we're getting traffic from it. And then another thing that you can do that I think SEO encourages is to test and learn. It might say zero, it might say it doesn't work, but Google always tells you these things because they want you again, they want you to spend money on their platform, right. So they don't tell you how to do it, they advise you things and you have to figure out for yourself. So I think the. SEO mindset is one of like testing them. I think to your point, like if you're testing different platforms, different, different kind of podcast hosting software, different mediums, different blogs or wherever it might be, if you, after a while, you get a sense of what kind of works and what doesn't and you can start to reiterate and double down on that and characters right. So I think it's always the case of testing and learning, making a bit of a hypothesis and then seeing what the result is, and if you get a good result, then you keep doing that right. So, within reason, because obviously there are kind of penalties and risks, if you could use what they call it black hat, in the back of the day, people just buy like 10,000 of links and you see it all now on Twitter and other places where you see like all the comments are from like very new accounts. I just say like amazing and it's very clearly on me. So I think people are trying to game. Do the same thing on like Twitter, because it's a bit wild. Rest now with will be a must. No one really knows like what's going on with Twitter to some extent, and to your point, about Google as well Google is the second biggest search engine on the planet, followed by Google, right? So YouTube has SEO as well. Youtube SEO exists and you can see analytics and when you start typing like a few letters, you see that suggested search. So these things are based on behavior, user behavior, search behavior, and SEOs can kind of have access to those things and say you should write, make a video about I don't know what's popular today, but probably something negative Someone been hijacked or something like that. If you're a reactionary kind of person like Ivan on tech, they also have a very big audience and they're necessarily to utilize it. But if you're like a budding kind of content creator, you might want to see the trends and have some numerical backing to say, okay, people are interested in this. I can like a video and I can utilize a bit of YouTube SEO to make sure that video is found and then ultimately bring in new people to a community, right? I think that's a thing that people might miss with community is to bring in new people in through other means, right? So not everyone will just instantly land on your telegram. I always compare it to like a wallet. So if you wanted to send me a token on my wallet, there's no way you can get that wallet without interacting with some kind of a Web2 platform initially, right. So if you need to get a new wallet or you need to find like a new token sent to me, at some point in your journey you've interacted with Web2 platform, most likely Google. If you want to buy like Matik, or if you want to buy Bitcoin, like we all did, I'm sure you Google it at first and you probably got scammed a few times and then you've learned how to do it. So I think that's to me that's almost like retention Once you've got a wallet, you're like a you're a post kind of conversion. You're in like a retention. It's a different kind of ballpark. Right, you have to drive people to the wallet, you have to drive people to the tension, you have to drive people to the metaverse. They can't just arrive there, right, they have to discover you somehow. And I always think I find that some potentially maybe some Web3 people negate the fact that people have to start. Most of the time have to start somewhere, like that, right, and it's normally questions that they're asking or watching a coin bureau on YouTube, and then you start Googling and trying to figure out how this will work. So you go on Reddit forums and you go here and there you go on. Twitter is obviously a massive space for influencers as well. So I think, yeah, there's always a lot of space for what they call traditional mediums. But the slowness to understand Web3 natively and be able to translate that into a competitive space that is Web2 in terms of media and marketing, I find it very interesting how it all connects. Ultimately, it all connects at this stage and the future might change, but I think for now it's very interconnected.Joeri:
Yeah, I think you gave a lot of food for thought for people now listening, aaron. If people want to know more about everything that you are doing, how can they find you?Aaron:
Yeah, I think the best place is probably my LinkedIn. It's just my name, Aaron Barefoot, on LinkedIn. I don't use Twitter too much because I just find it's just like as you're into like a lot of arguments and stuff like that, so I just go a little bit. But yeah, I have a ColdC hain as well. So if you search for a code chain Web3 marketing, you'll find us. Cold chain. agency is our website. You can find us there as well. And, yeah, probably just my LinkedIn as well, but I can share the.Joeri:
Yeah, I will put them in the show notes. There is, like always, if you're not listening, there is a podcast article. There are show notes. All the links that Aaron has given will be in there. Aaron, it was a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you.Aaron:
Thanks so much for having me.Joeri:
It's great. Thank you. Take care, guys. Again a really interesting episode that we had today. So if people around you are also interested in being ranked on Google or on Web3 engines, or just want to grow their business and have got and you have got some value out of this episode, be sure to share this episode with them. If you're not yet subscribed to the show, this is a really good moment to do this and, of course, I would like to see you back next time, take care.