Does SEO Work In 2024: Secrets To Grow Your Audience Engagement

SEO is search engine optimization, and it’s ranking in Google, ideally for keywords that you want. It’s the result of doing a certain number of things. So you don’t do SEO anymore, just as you wouldn’t do weight loss. 

Can I hire someone to lose weight for me even if they’re an expert in weight loss? Of course not.

You can’t as well hire someone to do SEO for you.

You can instead hire someone to work on your content, build your website, run ads, and do whatever else you like, but the ingredients in SEO are your relationships and your content.

The result is that you’re ranking on Google, but it doesn’t matter who you hire if you don’t have these necessary ingredients for a successful business, brand relationships, and all that kind of stuff. Many people think of PR or SEO as buying on Amazon for one click with next-day shipping.

Your Strategy Matters More Than Tactics

I’ve been saying the same thing for 20-plus years. Almost nothing has changed. Now there’s TikTok, which is like the new Facebook, and people are saying the same things they did about Facebook when it first started, as TikTok is now.

Every day, everything just keeps repeating itself over and over again. There’s a new tool. It’s like different clowns, but it’s the same circus. And if you guys resonate with that, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m not a fan of the latest thing.

I’m a fan of something that works and just continuing to do that. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, and old dogs don’t learn new tricks, but marketing has never changed for me.

It’s channel arbitrage. Yes, YouTube is getting bigger, and a lot of people are spending time there and on TikTok, and people are bemoaning the death of Facebook, but Facebook stock just went up like crazy because they announced how much growth they had. Anyway, I don’t care about that.

All that matters is the relationships, the content, and where you publish it. That changes all the time, but that’s just the tactical adjustment. What we’re doing, we’re still building relationships. We still have the same strategy.

We still like my buddy Jeff Lambert, who runs Greasy’s Garage. He sells soap for people who get grease on their fingers. For every product he sells, he donates a flag like that product, those stories, and the cars that he’s working on.

I don’t know how people fix these cars. It’s just beyond me how they can take this thing that’s all rusted and make it all nice-looking later, but that will never change. Now, his tactics will change. And maybe five years from now, there’s some new social network that nobody has ever heard of.

If your strategy is solid, that will never change who you are. So marketing is there just to amplify that. So if he’s making one-minute videos about, “Hey, I’m working on restoring this old Ford or whatever it is, and here’s a friend of mine, we’re having lunch, or here’s a story about my dad” that will never change.

So people keep distinguishing, they keep mixing. It’s like oil and water. They mix their stories, ingredients, goals, content, and targeting. That’s what it is. It’s called your strategy with these technical AI, cool, new tools, SEO, and all this witchcraft, like weird, sophisticated, puzzling, and mystery stuff.

The people who are selling tools and services would have you believe that you need to hire them because they’re so expert and you and I could never understand this voodoo. So I’ve been exposing these other people by doing SEO audits, looking inside people’s ad campaigns, looking at what’s been done, and auditing their SEO, which we can do in 10 seconds.

I was at a friend’s who owns a plumbing company, Pure Plumbing, Andy Aranda yesterday and went straight to the airport or from the airport to his place. Didn’t even go home to shower. And he had paid some other agency a hundred thousand dollars a month for doing all this magical stuff. And this guy is an actual plumber.

So he fixes drains and pipes and toilets and things like that. He thinks he doesn’t know anything about SEO, but his relationships and his technicians go around in the vans, and they collect stories.

Or, that’s expertise that someone who does SEO doesn’t know because they don’t have the experience in fixing HVAC and plumbing. So this is where this fundamental confusion comes from in that you as an entrepreneur have that expertise, you have that knowledge, you have those customers, someone can help you gather the content and edit the content or whatever, but no one can do SEO.

No one can ethically sell SEO. I’ve been saying this for 30 years.

Dollar a Day and SEO

Dollar a Day is basically an amplifier. If something’s working well, then you’re letting the algorithm find other people who would enjoy your content and buy your products and services. That’s fundamentally what Dollar a Day is.

Letting the algorithm do the work for you if you already have something that’s working.

The algorithm is moving towards short videos that are in the 22-second range. Up to a minute, YouTube, we can go a lot longer, but even YouTube Shorts is the same thing. It’s just their version. If Google’s trying to build a social network that is short-form video content, like an Instagram Reel or a TikTok, any of this talk, like I get hit up 10 times a day from other people saying, “Hey, the algorithm just changed on Facebook.”

Or this one thing happened on Twitter. That’s all noise. If you stay in, we have this thing we call the Content Factory.

The four stages of the content factory: produce, process, post, and promote.
Content Factory Stages

You should stay in that first box, which is where you should be, where you’re creating content based on relationships and credibility. 

You’re clearly showing that you’re a legit person and that you deliver good quality. Everything else is just checking boxes and pressing buttons, and it’s something a VA, making $500 a month in Pakistan or whatever can do for you if all those items are true in box number one. 

So I’m not worried about all, but now people are leaving Facebook, and they’re going to TikTok, and I need to get email this going on.

Don’t get caught up in that. For the last thirty years, there’s been a new flavor every year, and every time, they say the same thing.

How Relationships and AI Affect SEO

The core of our businesses is what we truly believe in. That’s reflected in content and relationships.

This was true before the internet even started, and this is what we’re doing now. I could send you socks and the whole thing that’s in your sock drawer. That’s an idea that predates the internet. We just happen to have a lot of internet tools that help us process this fast. Drew, we have an army of 500 virtual assistants.

But it’s not because of the technology, it’s because you getting a pair of socks with your face is me saying, I care about you. It’s not a gimmick.

So it was my birthday three days ago, and I turned 49 and got hundreds of people posting happy birthday, Dennis, and blah, blah, blah, which is great, and everyone gets inundated. Usually, the rule of thumb is that 10 percent of your friend base will do that. If you have 2000 friends, you’ll probably get 200 people wishing you a happy birthday.

And just for fun, I changed my birthday on Facebook. It’s like people change their things, from marriage to whatever. It’s just a status on any social network. You can say whatever you want.

But when that date came around, hundreds of people wished me happy birthday. My actual birthday is October 6th. It showed me that most people were doing it mindlessly because it’s an easy way to check a box and show that you care.

We had my birthday dinner last night at a Brazilian barbecue where I sliced the meat with the people who genuinely cared.

We had an intimate dinner, and these are real friends—not Facebook friends, but real friends of mine, genuine friends who texted me, and real friends who called me.

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Celebrating my birthday with my friends

In the age of social media, where everything’s so fake, especially now with all this AI-generated stuff, people long for real. Real is like me sending you a pair of socks, or us having dinner together, or us spending quality time together. I fly around so much because I want to meet people in person.

My mentor, 30 years ago, was the CEO of American Airlines, and this was right when the internet started. And he asked me to build the website because he had the vision to think, you know what, even though he’s an old man, he sees that the internet’s going now. Of course today it sounds ridiculous because of course, the internet’s a big deal, but back then you and I remember that people weren’t really sure what this thing was like, why are you dialing up?

Like you’re interrupting. I’m trying to make a phone call. And then you went on the internet and I said, yeah, but isn’t that going to hurt the airline? Because now all these people can have phone calls or video conferencing or on Zoom, they won’t want to fly anymore. So we’re in trouble as the airline.

And he said no. The internet will help us because when your friend takes that trip to Rome and takes a picture in front of the Coliseum or something, their friends want to visit. And when you build relationships, you want to visit.

So my buddy Munawar Abadullah runs a real estate company. He’s one of the most prominent players in real estate. I’ve known him forever, and we met in person. I’m flying to Dubai to see him in person, even though we were just on a Zoom call yesterday. People think the internet is some shortcut or social media because I have a million followers on Facebook, but that doesn’t count.

What counts are the actual relationships. The most successful people meet people in person, and then they engage; they continue the relationship digitally. The noobs, the amateurs, meet people on social media and hope to meet them in person eventually, but the most successful people do it the other way.

And so I view social media back to the key point as an extension of what you already have. You’re multiplying the relationships and content you already have.

It’s literally that simple. So, this conversation can feel a little esoteric, have a personal branding issue, or whatever, because people are looking for this technical shortcut. But what we’re talking about here is these relationships and these moments; these are the actual ingredients.

If you have them, then all the techniques we teach, like making one-minute videos demonstrating that relationship, what you do, and your expertise, and Dollar a Day amplifying those one-minute videos across Facebook, Twitter, and whatever, all become easy. And then it drives more people in of the right people.

Because they see your knowledge, they see your relationships. This builds trust, which drives sales. It’s not because you’re a really good copywriter or because you’re optimizing the landing page to have a green button instead of a red button. It’s not because of any of those things. It’s not because of all these technical lies.

I switched my CRM to HubSpot away from whatever. It’s not that; it’s always back to the core ingredients. Ironically, the influx of all these cool AI tools has made it even more important to have those good ingredients.

Last year, I interviewed the top people in AI. Do you know what they said? Because I said, like, where’s AI going and what’s the future and all that? Ironically, they said success is going to those people who are the most human. If you have the necessary ingredients, AI is a multiplier.

Just like any time there’s a shift in the economy, the rich get richer, right? And this is the same thing. AI is not a democratizing thing where anybody can use AI, which is true, as anybody can build a website. Anybody can use ChatGPT. It’s free of the already successful people who will become more successful because AI multiplies what you already have.

It starts with the ingredients of the actual relationships you have.

So the people who are most successful in SEO are the same ones who are successful in AI and the same ones who are successful in social media.

Consider my recent interaction with ChatGPT, where I sought its insights ahead of this podcast session with Richard Kaufman I asked ChatGPT last night “I’m going to be spending time with Richard Kaufman, and we’re going to… what do you know about Richard Kaufman, and what do you know about me, and what do you think are good things that we should talk about?”

So I’m not asking you to generate content using AI, which is what everyone else is doing. And there’s nothing wrong with generating content, but I’m using these AI tools more for advisory to say, “Okay, we’ll talk about this and this, but what angles do you think I’m missing? Or where do you think people might get confused?”

And it’ll make a recommendation. Then I’ll say, “Okay, explain why you chose number three there.” So I’m asking about this thinking intelligence called active listening or empathy. And so that’s the key to digital and SEO now because the AIs are so smart, they can beat you in chess, they can auto-generate anything, they make stuff so real-looking, you can’t even tell if it’s me or the actual celebrity who’s singing or if Donald Trump said it or not, you don’t know, right?

So, the true use of AI by successful people is using it to help them think better. And so this conversation, it’s not a magic prompt. If I say the five magic words to the AI, it will unlock the universe for me. No, it says something, and then you thoughtfully reply, saying, “That’s cool. But what if we made it this way? And why did you say that? Why’d you recommend what you did? And no, I don’t really like what you said there. I think that’s too flowery. Can you make it more like the way I would say it?”

But if it doesn’t know about you if you go into ChatGPT and say, “Who’s Dennis Yu?”

I believe if you’re an entrepreneur, a veteran, or whatnot, you’ve got a lot of stories. If I Google your name and I don’t see you have a website and I don’t see you have a YouTube, Twitter, and all that kind of stuff, then you’re already lost as far as I’m concerned when it comes to being an entrepreneur trying to sell products and services.

It’s pretty close for me, though. If you say, “Hey, pretend you’re Dennis Yu. I will ask you a series of questions.”

The answers will be close because it knows it has seen and read hundreds of articles, videos, books, and things I’ve written. But if it doesn’t know who you are, you say, “Okay, I’m going to paste in a few transcripts or a few pieces of content for me and my bio so that you can know who I am. I’m Richard Kaufman. Now I want you to be able to answer like Richard Kaufman,” and it will.

So in that case, you’re not prompting it. I’m saying you’re not giving it proper context. So, it can definitely be written in anyone’s voice or style.

If it doesn’t know who you are, you have to paste in some items saying, “Here, let me show you my style. Let me show you what I am talking about. Let me show you what it is, it’s based on the ingredients.” It can’t generate what you want if you don’t put in the right ingredients.

So, if you ask it, “Hey, I’m writing a book about this topic, and I’m generating an outline. Now, generate the chapters.”

It’ll do all of that, but it doesn’t know your tone. It doesn’t have the context. It doesn’t know what you are talking about. It doesn’t have your stories. For example, I upload photos and videos of myself. I’ve uploaded, I think, 40,000 pictures and videos to a couple of different AIs, such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, which have their AI they’re working on.

I’m doing that to all these other places because I want them to know what I think about and my mission. I’m here to create a million jobs, right? Certifications through digital marketing. So, the AI knows about that. Ask the AI, “Why is Dennis Yu trying to create a million jobs? What’s that all about?” and it’ll answer you.

But my friends, who are successful entrepreneurs, are succeeding with AI, and whatever. They succeed on day one because they already know how to talk empathetically. So, I find if you’re a good podcast host, you’re also going to be good at talking to ChatGPT for the same reason.

It’s not the kind of thing where you have to put in a ton of reps. Like I get that, like going to the gym or learning a new skill, at first, you suck and all, like I get that analogy. I think with ChatGPT, you can win immediately if you have the ability to practice active listening, which is thoughtfully replying and giving context along the way, like a great podcast host, you are always asking thoughtful follow-up questions based on what the other guy just said.

If you want to sell more, uplift the people in your network. Talk about them. If you’re a douchebag, talk about yourself all day long, and people know that you’re obviously trying to sell. People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.

And this shows that when someone’s interested in you, you will be interested in them. I got called twice at the airport yesterday in Curacao, Bogota, or whatever. And it was some sales guy who went on and on about his company and how he would help me and whatnot.

And I said, “You haven’t even spent three or one minute researching our company. You haven’t even shown interest in what we do. Cause you’re so busy trying to drive a sale of your software or selling us whatever thing you’re trying to sell us.” This is a huge turnoff, I think, for most people.

It’s ironic if you’re actually interested in driving sales. Of course, I want to drive sales but show that you’re interested first, and then people will love to give you money.

It’s not because I have a great technique in manipulating people into how to close them and saying the right phrases to create fear and uncertainty, so they buy now. Think of it more as we’re emergency room surgeons. People are coming into the hospital. They’re bleeding and I don’t need to tell them they’re in pain.

They want help, but they want help from someone who cares about their situation instead of selling everyone the same surgery. Imagine you came to the emergency room, and I said, “I don’t really care what condition you have, but right now, we’re selling liver transplants for half off.” What do you say?

So when we are consultative sellers and experts, we care first.

So, I’m constantly elevating other people that I really like. And guess what? I get more of the same thing. So Liana Ling and I had dinner and hung out in different places. And I love talking about how awesome she is.

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With Liana Ling

Meanwhile, when I do that, guess what she’s talking about? She’s saying “I joined Dennis’s dollar-a-day coaching program, and it has changed my life.” And other people have been signing up just this week. I got three people signing up because Leanna made some posts about it.

Did I give her a commission? Zero. Did I tell her to do it? Never.

And if I ask you for a testimonial with this scummy feel, it’s not a testimonial. You are forced to say these words, and people can tell.

The Power of Providing Value and Elevating Others

I always have to look at the credibility of the people giving the advice. Do they actually practice what they preach? What is it that you do? Is it a service? Is it a product that you have? Maybe you have an idea. That’s great. But where have you actually created some kind of value where you have someone who’s paying money for that?

Can you do that repeatedly? Can you do that for 10 people who are willing to pay you? Can you do it for thousands of people? And what’s the bottleneck there? Is it manufacturing? Do you need a loan for equipment? Do you need to hire people? What is bottlenecking you from creating more value?

Yeah. It’s all about creating more value. When you create more value and people are happy, that signals that you need to start marketing because then you’re making one-minute videos about something legitimate, not some idea you had. You’re actually elevating your customers’ success and talking about their story.

You start a podcast to interview these customers and turn it into a book. That’s where my TikTok book came from. It consists of interviews with the top people who are the most successful on TikTok.

And all your marketing comes from interviewing and uplifting your customers. And you never talk about what you do. It’s like a fight club thing.

You just talk about them. And when they feel like it, they’re going to talk about you. And when they do talk about you, it comes off so authentically, so powerfully. You can never get that in some of these forced confessions that you can tell that’s not real.

So I put all this stuff out here because I want people like you, to implement Dollar a Day and see for themselves. 

I also promote a lot of companies and products that I have no ownership of, like cocoon oxygen water. I drink a bottle of it every day. I’ve researched it. I put flavoring in it because I don’t like the taste of water by itself. I’m not being paid. I have no ownership, but I talk about it because I believe in it.

I’ve seen the impact on my body and I’m younger. I’m 49. I have more energy than 20-year-olds.

You might even pay money to buy a T-shirt to advertise for them.

What do you think Nike does? People are spending money so they can have the Nike logo here or a polo or whatever. That’s, I think, fashion is like the ultimate there. People believe in it so much. They pay money to advertise.

Boosting Posts for Better Engagements and SEO

Boosting a post is that blue button you see when you make a post. If you go to your profile, click on the three dots, and scroll down, you can turn on professional mode. This mode is relatively new and now allows you to boost posts on your profile. This wasn’t possible before.

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You can make any kind of post. It could be about your product or service. It could be honoring a customer, ideally a one-minute video that performs better than any other kind of content. And now you can boost it too, you can literally choose the default option, which is boosted to people who are similar to my audience and the system will start to learn if you don’t have much traction or if your Facebook is mainly like friends and family and your business is like this other thing that you’re just starting, then it takes a little bit of time to learn. But people who are engaging on that content and watching the video all the way through are a pretty good signal to Facebook that it’s relevant content.

And that person who decided to stay and watch for a minute—they’re clearly interested. They didn’t just accidentally scroll by. They stayed, and they were paying attention. Facebook can use that engagement as a signal to find other people who are like those other people. So you don’t have to go into this crazy kind of targeting anymore, which is what we did ten-plus years ago.

Now it’s not necessary because the engagement is what your content drives, which then drives the targeting. So the targeting is embedded in the content itself. When you find a winner, you just put in more money, $5 a day, $10 a day, up until the limit. If you’re a local business, then there’s a limit to how many people live in a particular city.

But driving for engagement is the first step in determining when your content works. Suppose people are paying attention instead of just scrolling past you. In that case, that’s a sign that you can then repurpose, meaning recombine other things that you have to create, into an ad that generates a lead, a phone call, a sale, people coming into your store, or whatever the next stage is that you’re trying to get them to do.

So, the ads manager has all these different objectives at different parts of the funnel, and yes, it’s more powerful, but you don’t always need the full Caterpillar bulldozer when sometimes you just need a little garden trowel. 

If you understand the idea of testing, boosting posts is what the pros do if you have great content. Facebook even admitted this to me. I’ve had meetings over there in Menlo Park, and we’ve been eating their barbecue.

And they said the reason we don’t promote the boost post button is that most people are constantly just self-promoting and they’re not making authentic videos that tell stories. So if you boost that, it’s going to suck. It’s not because Facebook’s trying to take your money. It’s because your content sucks.

They have to feel something. The key is that emotional connection, and videos are the best way to do that. That’s why people watch movies instead of reading books. So when you have that winner, you continue to let that run for a Dollar a Day. Most people spend 90 percent of their time trying to create more content.

And they don’t even go back and optimize. Spend 90 percent of your time getting more out of something winning and only 10 percent making new content. It’s a quality-over-quantity thing.

Looking to unlock your SEO potential? Visit AreYougoogleable.com now for a comprehensive SEO audit. It’s quick, effective, and essential—let’s go!

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.