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Feb. 12, 2022

How to Optimize Your Website With Content: Dr. Ty Belknap, Portbell SEO

How to Optimize Your Website With Content: Dr. Ty Belknap, Portbell SEO
What is the most important online marketing tactic in 2022? How can you attract attention in your industry and become known as a thought leader? Dr. Ty Belknap explains how value-based content and SEO work hand-in-hand to take you to the next level in your digital marketing.

How to Optimize Your Website With Content: Ty Belknap, Portbell SEO

Today we have a very special guest with us, Dr. Ty Belknap, and we’re talking with him about websites, SEO, and all things digital marketing. Tell us about yourself and your business, what it is that you do for clients and who you serve.

Dr. Ty Belknap: I’m Dr. Ty and I’ve got to tell you that I say that a lot. I don’t tell you to impress you with the title. I like saying it because, in all honesty, it impresses me because as a teenager, I was homeless. So for me to say Dr. Ty Belknap helps me to realize where I came from and how far I’ve gone in my life from then until now.

I run an SEO and Online Marketing business. We’re transitioning this year to helping companies understand their online strategy, more than anything else.

We’ve been working a lot on website optimization, helping them get to the top of the search engine results and things like that. But we’re realizing that a lot of companies don’t have that overall strategy for their business. 

Shelley Carney: A lot of times we would just try things and try things and we don’t ever sit down to plan and strategize. Sometimes we need to reach out to a third party with fresh eyes to strategize. 

Toby Younis: What have you learned about digital marketing in the last two years?

Dr. Ty Belknap:  You’ll read that digital marketing has changed drastically in the last two years. But in reality, it hasn’t changed. We were doing video marketing before COVID started. We were doing Zoom conferencing. We were doing Streamyard. We were doing email marketing. The big thing that I see that has changed is that it’s forced people who don’t want to change to change. 

We had a mom-and-pop restaurant in Tacoma where I live and they have some of the most amazing food. It tastes so great. But they were a cash-only business. They didn’t even accept credit cards. You had to go into the restaurant to order takeout. You couldn’t even call them for that. When COVID hit, they shut down. 

Most of the restaurants in our area shut down for a while, at least the local ones, but then they realized if they wanted to stay in business, they had to start doing business online. They scrambled. 

This is one of the restaurants that we helped at no charge. We helped several of them in the area because they had been closed for three or four months. They had no money left. Now they’re trying to figure out how to get customers again so they don’t just go out of business. We helped them to get online and we helped them to get credit card processing.

I talked about this with a friend of mine earlier today. Our bodies are made to conserve energy. We figure out how to do a certain task using the least amount of energy because our bodies want to save that energy for an emergency. The more we do a certain task, the less energy it takes because our body figures out the most efficient way to do that. That also means our bodies are resistant to change. 

But if COVID taught us anything, it taught us that we have to change and sometimes we have to change quickly.

That’s the biggest lesson we can learn from the last two years. We need to constantly look at what may need to change. 

Toby Younis: Most human beings have a tendency to not take the pivot. It’s easier to proceed forward. No matter how bad the future of moving forward may be. But when you make the pivot, it’s not going to put you anywhere other than the future by having to deal with a new business model as a result of the pandemic.

Shelley Carney: You’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years so you have the insight to answer this question. How will digital marketing for entrepreneurs and small business owners change in the next 12 months?

Dr. Ty Belknap: Thank you for reminding me that in two months, April of 2022, will be my 20 year anniversary in digital marketing. 

In the next 12 months, we’re going to be learning how to do online marketing even better. Video and audio are going to be even more important. 

The two-week shutdown when COVID first started in March of 2020, has lasted almost two years. We now know there’s no going back. There’s only going forward and going forward is video and audio. The more we can work with video and audio, the better. 

Google hasn’t announced this officially yet, but I’ve been watching. The way they transcribe videos has grown by leaps and bounds. The two years before that, it seemed like it was a back-burner kind of thing that they were working on. It’s getting to the point where you won’t have to put descriptions into your YouTube videos anymore. They’re just going to transcribe them automatically. 

For people who do videos, that’s going to be awesome because all the transcribing that we do now is cumbersome. It’s not going to be long before we won’t have to worry about that with videos or audio.

Toby Younis: That’s exciting because it’ll help us in terms of content distribution.

Shelley Carney: I know in podcasting, the hearing-impaired community has stepped up their demands for the transcription of podcasts from large carriers like Spotify. I see it moving forward quickly because of that. 

Toby Younis: We consistently use a product called Descript, which takes your audio and your video and transcribes it automatically. You have to clean it up obviously.

With Descript you can highlight a segment of your transcription and use the audio to produce a very nice audiogram. They’re a transcription company and now they’re creating a new option that’s very popular to promote your podcast or your YouTube video.

We’ll take segments of this conversation that we’re having with Ty, and we’ll turn those into audiograms to promote this video. 

What do you see as the most prevalent obstacle to people moving into this new world, aside from the fact that we’re all anxious and sometimes fearful?

What’s the biggest obstacle they face?

Dr. Ty Belknap: The biggest obstacle they face has been an obstacle for about 20 years: quality content. 

I did my first website in 1995 when I started freelancing. In 1995, Yahoo was just coming onto the scene. Google wasn’t even here yet. Even then you had to have good content on your website to get higher in the search engines.

Today you have to have good content on your website to get higher in the search engines and think about everything we do with video and audio. Does Google actually look at the video? No, it transcribes it into text and uses that content. Content is hugely important, but being able to write good content is tough. There are things that you can do to make your content better for both people and for search engines. 

The biggest obstacle is the quality of the content that’s on your website and social media.

Work on consistent content. The more you do it, the better. Get into the habit of doing it.

Shelley Carney: We need to have some fundamentals in place and we need to know what works and what’s not working. Then when we’ve got this figured out, we might need help to optimize and make it even better.

What are the things that prospective clients should have in place in their business before you’re able to best help them with their digital marketing?

Dr. Ty Belknap: Between our marketing and my personal coaching business, we help businesses from day one if they really need it. There’s not much that you need other than to be in business. We help businesses develop their vision, their mission, and their strategy for their business. We help them with their marketing. 

One of the biggest problems that I see with websites these days is websites can have errors on the backend that you will never see. You could have a beautiful website. It’s like putting a wax job on a car when the engine is broken. It’s going to look great, but it’s not going to go very far. There are many websites that have errors that are stopping them from getting higher in the search engines. But we help with that. There’s not a lot that we don’t do to help customers. 

The people who are going to buy your products and services look at your website. Even with social media and everything else, it’s your website that is the cornerstone for your marketing. Our big thing is SEO, which is getting your website to the top of the search engines. We will do everything we can to help our clients get to that.

Toby Younis: Tell us a story about what you learned from working with one of your most recent clients.

Dr. Ty Belknap: I’ll pick on a client that I’m working with right now.

Her teenage daughter developed their website when she was 14 years old. It’s one of the best websites I’ve seen. It had almost no errors on it. It was fast. It was visually attractive. It blew me away because so many websites I see are not like this. But here’s this teenage girl and the first time she develops a website, it looks great.

But again, the content wasn’t necessarily there. When I first looked at it I had a list of things that I thought should change. I started talking to her and learned that her teenage daughter had done this and everything changed in the back of my mind. I thought this is amazing. I want to hire this girl when she gets old enough. 

But one of the big things I learned was I was making assumptions. I’ve been doing this for a while and sometimes I’ll make an assumption. 

These people do safaris and it’s pretty cool stuff. I’m excited to be working with them and helping them out. I had these assumptions about safaris and I sent them informational content that I had been working on. The lady was very polite and she said actually, much of what you said was not right. 

I have to go back to what I tell my clients and remember to stop assuming and ask more questions.

I thank them for helping me to relearn that. I should know that because I’m a coach. I ask questions all the time when I’m coaching. But I get into my SEO mindset and I forget to ask the questions. That was the biggest thing that I learned while working with this client.

Shelley Carney: I want to dive deeply into something that we are currently working on and I know you have a lot of knowledge about this. How does a website affect marketing success?

Dr. Ty Belknap: Your website has to be your cornerstone.

There were two companies that were bigger than my company. One of them had 15 employees and their entire marketing strategy was helping businesses get on Google Plus, which is no longer here. They didn’t help with Facebook or YouTube. It was just Google Plus. 

Their whole thought was Google is a multi-billion-dollar company. They’re never going to shut us down. Of course, they did shut down simply because it didn’t do what they wanted it to do. 

Tomorrow Mr. Zuckerberg could say, I don’t want to do Facebook anymore. Let me just hit the off button. That is his website. It’s not ours. He can shut it down anytime he wants.

But your website can’t be shut down by someone else. Maybe you have it with a hosting company that could shut down, but then you just move your website to another one. That doesn’t happen very often.

Websites have been the cornerstone of marketing as far back as 1995. You can do all the social media that you want to do, but at the end of your social media funnel, lead people back to your website. Get people on your email list. 

Zuckerberg one day decided “I don’t want as many people to see your posts as they used to.” So they flipped the switch and now rather than the 1100 followers that I have seeing my posts, I get an average of 10. All because that’s what they wanted. They want me to pay to boost the post to get more people to see it. 

That will never happen when people are on your own email list. When people are looking at your website, you have that control. 

I believe that no matter what goes on in the next five to ten years, it’s still going to be websites that are the cornerstone of your business.

Zuckerberg could shove off Facebook tomorrow. I doubt that he will. The one thing I would think is they’re probably going to look at how can they pivot? How can they change? I remember the first day when it hit the news that Facebook lost more followers than it gained that day. Is this the end of Facebook? That was eight years ago that happened and yet Facebook is still growing. 

I think long-term, social media is here to stay. It’s going to change. It already has changed. When Facebook first came out, it was very rare that there were videos on Facebook. Today we’re livestreaming on Facebook. So it’s going to change.

Toby Younis: How do you feel the use of social media should figure into your marketing strategies?

Dr. Ty Belknap: Social media is great for getting people to know your brand.

I was talking with a client of mine a couple of months ago and they were so excited because they had a new client from their social media channel. They were thinking “It’s working! My marketing is working well.” They’d been doing this marketing on their social media for a couple of years. I had to ask “How many clients have you gotten specifically from social media?” It was one. 

I wouldn’t say that social media is so much a sales-generating tool, but it’s a great tool to help keep top of mind awareness. It keeps your brand out there. It keeps people seeing you doing stuff so that when they do think of you, they’re going to try to find you.

I know people that make a ton of money on Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, all the different channels, but it’s really not that many. Most people will hear about you from social media. Then they’ll go to the internet and research you more.

if you’ve got it designed right, they’ll eventually end up at your website, which is when they’ll contact you. 

Social media definitely plays a role in your marketing strategy, but I don’t think it’s as big of a role as a lot of people make it out to be.

[00:25:59] Toby Younis: We’re talking about the big brands, not necessarily individual influencers. Kellogg’s uses Instagram very efficiently to promote its brand in the same way that you described. 

Dr. Ty Belknap: The way that they’re promoting is paid advertising, which to me is different than just regular social media postings.

Shelley Carney: Let’s talk about the difference between using social media for paid advertising or for an organic awareness campaign. What what do you recommend?

Dr. Ty Belknap: Let’s split that up into three parts: social media, paid advertising, and organic placements. Those can be three different things.

You can do social media posts without paying for them but most of the social media platforms are restricting how many people see it. Though, the last I heard TikTok is not restricting it. If you have a thousand followers, they’re going to show it to all thousand people, or at least the vast majority of them. I don’t think that’s going to last. The day will come when TikTok is going to want to make money with that as well. But most of the platforms are restricted. 

That doesn’t mean that no one will see it. I was talking with a friend about LinkedIn and he said that his posts are starting to get a thousand views per post and those are not paid promotions. I’ve never actually seen a thousand views per post on LinkedIn before. What he’s doing seems to be working very well. You can post without promoting it, but you can also create ads.

This is one of the ways that Facebook shines. For people who want to do ads, they’re not going to cost you $10,000. You can do ads on Facebook and only spend two bucks. Or spend 10 cents per person that sees it. Now the 10 cents might not get too many people, but the two bucks a day might.

You can really boil down exactly who you want to see the ad. You can say I only want men and women who are 35 to 40 years old, who live in Iowa to watch them. You can get that specific. We use Facebook ads to test our ads before we put them in other places because it’s so cheap.

The third part is of course advertising with not just Facebook ads, but let’s say Facebook, Google, even YouTube. YouTube video ads actually cost less than Facebook ads do now. The tough part is you have to make a video. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with that, but for the price, you can get a lot more bang for your buck on YouTube.

Toby Younis: Facebook up until recently was cheaper than YouTube. I think part of it was the fact that they were getting pressure as a result of the success of TikTok with short-form video.

TikTok has forced a lot of change in the social media world because of the behaviors associated with TikTok users. 

Shelley Carney: Let’s get into email marketing. How can we use email marketing most effectively?

Dr. Ty Belknap: I’d say the number one way to use it effectively is to create an email list and use an email marketing program like Active Campaign or MailChimp. 

Email marketing is all about content and that content starts with your subject line. You’ve got to have a subject line that’s going to attract people. If you don’t, they’re going to hit delete. Or worse, they’re going to hit spam. People who are starting out in email marketing don’t know that if you send an email to someone on Gmail and they hit spam, Google catches that. If enough people hit spam, they’re going to put all your email in the spam box of everybody. So you’ve got to watch that very carefully. Make sure that you send emails only to people that want them.

I still get this today. I’ll contact somebody or I’ll talk to somebody and I’ll give them my business card. Less than a week later, I’m on their email list. That’s actually been illegal for over 10 years. They’re not supposed to do that. So make sure that you have permission from people before you put them on your email list. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t email them. I email people all the time, just out of the blue, but it’s a very personal email. They won’t actually be on my email list. I’ll give them the opportunity to get on that list, but I won’t email them from that list without them actually asking for it or giving me permission to do it first. I think that’s the biggest thing that people do. They want a whole bunch of people on their email lists so they’ll add everybody they can onto it. But don’t do that.

That’s actually the wrong way to do it and it will hurt you.

Toby Younis: You have to be very cautious with it and you have to make sure you’re following the rules. That’s why it makes sense to use an email services provider, rather than you trying to do it directly out of your Gmail accounts.

Dr. Ty Belknap: If you can combine good imagery with good content and a good video you’ve got a great email. If you can, combine those three things.

I do an email lesson. I’ve been adding things to my email. I used to just say, here’s what’s going on with my podcast this week. That’s all I would say. Then I started adding in my YouTube video and the number of people wanting to be on the list went up.

People started liking that. Then I added in the books that we’re reading or what we’re listening to or watching this week. The number of people jumped up again. The number of people opening my emails went up. I’ve got an open rate higher than the standard of this industry, simply because I’m giving people the chance to interact with me.

Interaction is the big thing with emails. Don’t think of it as just a text. Email that you send out to people should be interactive. You’re going to get a greater open rate, and you’re going to get more people who want to subscribe.

Shelley Carney: I try to share things in our emails that are personal. Like this week I talked about Valentine’s Day and some life coaching tips. We talk about what’s going on in our lives and we include pictures. Sometimes we share photos of Toby’s grandchildren. This week, we included a photo that he and I created together as a Valentine. These things are more personal. Then I include industry news. A lot of our followers are into social media, podcasting, or live streaming. So I try to include other great blogs or helpful videos with media industry news.

We have a really pretty good open rate, somewhere in the forties.

Toby Younis: They know us in a very personal way and Shelley handles the email each week. I leave it up to her because it tends to be more personal. I look at some of my older emails and they were very mechanical. She does a really good job of personalizing it. 

Dr. Ty Belknap: I agree with you a hundred percent. I have a tough time being personal. I’m a private person so I have a tough time writing personal things in my emails. But I’ve found when I do that, I get a much higher open rate than times when I don’t, and a much higher click rate as well. 

Don’t make the whole thing personal, but add little personal things into each one. 

Toby Younis: We’ve noticed there are more opens when there’s some sense that there are pictures. 

We touched on this earlier, but in what ways are content creation and distribution a factor in marketing success?

[00:35:56] Dr. Ty Belknap: Content creation is a good 70 to 80% of marketing. 

Between March and August of 2021, Google did seven updates to the search engine. The number one thing it did in those updates is looking at content. All seven of the updates had to do with content. Google usually does one to two updates a year. Seven updates in a six-month period is a lot, but all seven of them having something to do with content is ginormous. 

Getting good quality content onto your website is the number one thing, but it’s not just the website. The subject line of your email and the title of your blog post need to attract potential clients. What is it that will attract them to that the most?

The title is number one, but what is the title? It’s content. It still boils down to getting good quality content. With a title or subject, you’re shrinking content to make it informative with as few words as possible.

Toby Younis: We get questions from some of our clients about what is content? We tell them content is anything you can address with a title, a description, and tags.

Whatever follows that title, description, and tags, which is what Google and all the other search engines are looking for, is a piece of content. It can be text or a video or audio or combinations of pictures and text. That’s what content is. Content is addressable, searchable and it’s indexed. Google can index that piece of content and it resides on the internet. So there’s a title, description, and tags followed by something of substance.

Dr. Ty Belknap: The biggest no-no in content is anytime we talk about “I” or “me.” I see so many websites where you go to the front page and see “Look at me! Look at my business. My business is so great. I’ve been in business for 20 years. Here’s the picture of my family. My family is great.”

I did not say what I actually do yet. Change, “I” and “me” to “you.”

You will automatically upgrade the quality of your content. Don’t talk about what my business is to me, talk about what my business can do for you. What problem do I solve? The internet is a problem solver. Google is a problem-solver. The majority of videos on YouTube are how-to videos made to solve problems.

Think about your number one message, what problem do people have and how can I best solve it? Think about CEOs of companies that make billions of dollars a year. They’re the CEO because they’re the best at solving the biggest problems. The bigger the problem you can solve, the more money you’re going to make to do it.

The biggest mistake of content marketing is not answering the question of how you solve people’s problems. That should be the very first thing on the front page of your website.

Shelley Carney: We have a lot less face-to-face contact and a lot fewer networking events in person than we did a few years ago. What are the best alternatives to face-to-face networking and other live events?

Dr. Ty Belknap: I know that the extroverts out there are really hating this, but I’m a total introvert, so I’m loving this non-face-to-face era. I went to a tech conference about a month before the shutdowns. I am a total techie nerd. I can talk tech for hours and hours. I went into this conference and was there for five minutes and left because I felt so nervous about being there. 

But I get into these tech conferences on Zoom and I love it. I don’t feel like I have to connect right away and try to figure out small talk. I get comfortable being there and then I can open up.

I’ve been to several networking events and they’ve used different programs. The quality has been growing so much. Zoom had to hire 400 new people in four months just to keep up with what they were doing. But Zoom is only one way of doing things. 

I went to another conference where your screen shows different tables and there are six to eight people per table you can talk with. Then you can move to other tables. It’s getting pretty cool. I’m hoping as things open up they continue to offer hybrid events that we can do both in-person and virtual at the same time. 

Toby Younis: The conference that we attended in October was a hybrid event offering a virtual choice. Our good friend DJ Heckes of EXHIB-IT, went from a purely practical perspective on trade shows to a mixed hybrid. She’s offering a combination of both live networking and integrated streaming for people who can’t be there or don’t want to be there giving them that option.

What do you recommend to attract digital media attention, such as podcasts or blogs? What are the combinations that you recommend to your clients?

Dr. Ty Belknap: I’m looking at helping my clients much more with strategy rather than very specific things, depending upon the kind of business. I’ve got some businesses where LinkedIn is amazing for them, but Facebook does nothing. 

I have another company that I’m working with, and they’ve been posting pictures every few days on their Facebook page, but they had zero followers. I said “Why don’t you have any followers? You’ve got these amazing safari pictures of lions and other animals, but no one is seeing them.”

They said, “Oh, we hadn’t thought about it.” So four days later they had over a hundred followers just by telling people about it. That blew me away. I want to learn how they did that. Getting a hundred followers in four days is amazing. People started sharing it and they liked it and they keep getting more followers all the time now. They have several hundred followers on Instagram because the visuals are so great. 

I run an SEO company. Half the time I can’t even think of a visual so Instagram isn’t for me. I tried Instagram. It did not work well. We have a good following on Facebook. We have a better following on LinkedIn. It depends on the kind of business.

Shelley Carney: If you wanted some publicity for your business, some media attention like the local morning news show, what’s the best way to go about doing something like that?

Dr. Ty Belknap: One thing that I did at the beginning of 2021 is I started my own podcast and that has helped me out quite a lot.

We are pretty high in the search engines for the podcast, which got us in front of a different kind of audience. Not outside of our target audience, it was just our target audience isn’t big on reading. They wanted to listen to learn. 

I’m doing more of my stuff on YouTube as well. I’m reaching an audience that likes to watch more than they like to read or listen. It’s really about looking at which audience you want. 

I think if you want to get on the local news, you’ve got to do something that is outside of your normal business. Talk about how you helped with some events or volunteered. Positive things like that. You don’t want negative things. It was probably about six months ago now I got a couple of phone calls because the news was big over the internet about how two security guards were shot to death in Port Bell.

There is a port in Africa called the Port Bell which I never knew about when I started my company. The two security guards had got shot in Africa. It was not my company and it wasn’t even in America. But the number of people who went to my website shot up by a hundredfold that day.

Toby Younis: One of the big things that we have to help our clients with is how to attract more leads. What steps would you recommend to an individual who has a limited budget and limited time to attract more leads? What can somebody do to attract more leads?

Dr. Ty Belknap: Figure out what you can give away. I’m not talking about services. You don’t have to give away your products. But let’s say you have a product that solves a problem. Teach people how to best use that.

For SEO, I have many different giveaways. I have a giveaway for people to make sure that their websites are ready for SEO. I have a giveaway on different marketing strategies. I do things like this interview all the time. To me, this is a giveaway. I’m giving of my expertise. How can you give your expertise to people? 

It’s not saying I have this product, buy it from me. It’s I have this product. I’m the expert on it. Here’s how I show you I’m the expert on it. Then let them decide whether or not they want to hire you or buy.

Toby Younis: That’s wonderful advice and simple to understand. That’s what I like about what you do for your clients. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to implement what you’re describing, what you’re talking about.

Shelley Carney: I know that you have a piece of advice that you want everybody to hear, understand and take away from today’s show. Then after you’ve given us that, tell everybody where they can find you online.

Dr. Ty Belknap: My biggest takeaway piece of advice is to work on content, whether you do it yourself or hire someone else to do it. I wouldn’t hire a freelancer to do it all because you want it to be in your words, but it’s a lot easier to look at a page and change what’s already there than to look at a blank page and try to figure out what to say. So maybe hire a freelancer to do the rough draft and then finish it off yourself.

Work on better content for your website. What can you say to use the word “you,” rather than the word “I,” especially on the main page of your website? To me, that’s the biggest takeaway. The second thing is your website can look great but not work well.

I have a giveaway to help with that. Go to and you can find a worksheet to make sure that your website is ready for the search engines to be able to index it.

At, my website, I’ve got giveaways in my cheat sheets section and a video on what is SEO. SEO is a word that gets thrown around for all sorts of different things these days. One day a client called me and I stopped my motorcycle ride to take his call. He asked me “What is SEO?” That’s why I created that video. 

Toby Younis: For those of you confounded over SEO, Ty does the greatest job of making it simple and easy to understand and helping you to implement the right protocols and strategies to give you an effective website.

Shelley Carney: Thank you, Ty, for being here with us today and for all the wonderful, helpful information that you provide. We are looking forward to featuring you as an expert in our upcoming book about digital marketing. 

Dr. Ty Belknap: I’m looking forward to reading that book and what the other people say as well.

Ty’s Website:

Understand SEO and improve your website:  

Get the scoop on publishing a book from your podcast interviews: Women in Podcasting: The Messages and Methods Interviews –  

Shelley’s Guest Blog Post, Livestreaming: 10 Tips to Create Business-Building Content Consistently at

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