Thomas McMahon is one of Page One Power’s most accomplished writers. He’s one of the main forces behind our own brand’s link building efforts. He’s an efficient and effective writer, but he also makes friends at work and in the SEO industry. You can find Thomas cracking an SEO joke on Google+, leaving insightful comments on industry blog posts and generally being a helpful, friendly guy everywhere he goes.
In this interview, Thomas discusses his approach to outreach, being a real human being and the importance of being helpful on the internet.
Thomas has been with P1P since July of 2012. We’re pleased to announce that Thomas is our Employee of the Month for April! I sat down with Thomas in the break room of our main office on 4/17/13.
Dustin Verburg: You’re one of the main voices for Page One Power as a brand. How do you approach that responsibility?
Thomas McMahon: I try not to think about it too much because I don’t want to get cramped up when I’m writing. I try to provide useful information, and hopefully if readers associate me with Page One Power, they consider us a helpful brand.
As far as the brand goes, I try to keep it light. I don’t want to come off as crass or anything. When I’m talking to people on Google+ I’m a little more aware of it, they see my name right there with the brand so I just try to keep it helpful, non-promotional and light.
In some ways, the SEO industry (link building in particular) is a small niche, but there’s a lot of rehashed content out there. How do you keep from writing the same articles that everyone else is writing? How do you keep from writing the same article more than once?
For the most part, what I’ve done recently is—if I’m outreaching to a blog, I find a post they’ve done, say on link building strategies, and link back to that post and respond to that post explaining why I think that does or doesn’t work. If they talk about link-baiting strategies, I might talk about why I think evergreen content is better. I try to keep a fresh perspective for the blog owner, and show that I can write fresh content for them, not just content for me so I can get a link.
I see what kind of titles the other writers are coming up with and that gets my brain jogging a little bit, too. Everything I’m writing I’ve learned from other people’s writing, but I can put my own perspective on it from what I’ve seen in the industry. And it’s worked so far!
What does relevancy-first link building mean to you?
I look at it from the reader’s perspective. If I was reading a blog and I clicked a link, I’d want the anchor text to make sense. I wouldn’t want to be on a music blog and click a link that takes me to a site selling cat beds. Anchor text is abused sometimes, but it’s the best way to show the reader where they’re going. Is it going to make sense to the reader? I think that approaching it that way keeps everyone in line.
How do you approach your outreach and online industry relationships?
Honestly, I’m not very fast at outreach. I don’t use any stock emails. I write everything out by hand. I always reference something on the site that I liked or caught my attention. I take quite a while to write an initial outreach email, and I think my responses rate is good. People almost always get back to me, even if they say no. They still know I’m a real person. I’ve been using Google+ a lot. I have a Twitter account too, but I’m not very good at Twitter, haha. I follow people on Google+, I’ll share people’s articles and I’ll make a little quip about the article.
As far as relationships? That’s been cool. I still get correspondence about posts I wrote month ago. If I like a blogger, I’ll link back to my post on their site as much as I can to give them some link love. I try to discuss blogging and SEO on Google+. I try to just be helpful and not selfish. The links will come in time.
What sets P1P apart from other link building agencies?
The time we put into it sets us apart. We’re efficient with our time, but the effort that goes into the unique content we produce for every link sets us apart. There are blogs that say you can republish your article elsewhere after 30 days, but I’ve never even thought about doing that. I don’t know anyone here that has. We take the time to come across as real people. If a blogger has no proof that you’re real, they’ll turn you down.
I like to make jokes in my author bio and just prove that there’s a human behind my name, rather than just a link builder.
How do you analyze a target site? How do you determine if a site is a good home for a link?
I look to see if the content’s good. But at the same time, there are plenty of SEO writers who speak English as a second language. They’re producing fresh and unique content, but sometimes their English isn’t as good as we might like it to be, so I look more at where they’re linking to. If they’re linking out to other companies and authority sites… are they using those links as references? Because that’s good. Do they have active followings on Google+ and Twitter? That’s another indicator to me that it’s good. I want to write for real people.
I assume that you never thought you’d be a link builder, because I didn’t either. I didn’t even know about the industry before I started. I’ve learned a lot and look at the internet from a different perspective now. What has the world link building taught you?
A lot, haha. I always thought I knew how the internet worked, but this has taught me so much in that regard. It’s taught me how much it’s worth to be genuine. You go on YouTube and see all of the spam-hate comments, and that makes you see how much merit there is in actually being helpful.
I feel like half the blogs out there are just hosting other people’s content and aren’t adding anything helpful at all. It’s taught me to filter through that, do the research and find the original author who came up with an idea. There’s so much out there, and being able to effectively filter the spam really narrows down the internet. It’s amazing how small a niche can get once you hack away the fat.
It’s really helped me be more critical in a good way. You can’t just read something and believe it. It’s really helped me to be able to find content. It’s helped me find good content outside of work. If someone needs something real and believable, I can find it for them.
What do you do outside of work?
I do quite a bit of freelance writing. People like my writing and want some content for their site. I’m helping an old coach of mine write a book on effective coaching. That’s a pretty cool project. I’m learning a lot because I’ve never put a book together before.
I’ve always played sports growing up. I played competitive tennis all throughout college. That helps me work on a team. I couldn’t imagine working alone from my home.
I do a lot of outdoor stuff. Disc golfing, tennis, fly fishing… I’m waiting for the wind to die down for that one. I hang out with my girlfriend a lot, and I surprisingly got sucked into Downton Abbey. I don’t know how that one happened, haha.
I’m pretty average. I live in Downtown Boise, which is awesome. I lived in Caldwell for 4 years, which was not awesome. I’ve been wasting too much money on food at downtown restaurants.
Thanks, Thomas! And congratulations.