Quitting your job for affiliate marketing & SEO with Matt Diggity
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Would you quit your 9 to 5 job to do affiliate marketing and SEO full time? Meet Matt Diggity who’s done exactly that! He's well known in the SEO community and I know him from following his journey creating the Affiliate Lab. He's got a very popular conference that he's organized the Chiang Mai SEO conference. So I want to pass it back to you and tell us what you do.
Yeah. Other than the conference and The Affiliate Lab, which is a course on SEO and affiliate marketing, I also have an agency called The Search Initiative. I have a portfolio company called Lead Spring, which basically is where we walk the walk.
So this is where we're building affiliate websites, we're partnering with other businesses, this is where we're actually doing SEO. And then I got my personal brand, which would be Diggity Marketing, and that kind of feeds leads into the agency, the course, and also the partnership deals that I get to be a part of. That is mostly driven by the Affiliate Lab or the YouTube channel, and then secondly by a blog that used to be switched around, but in this day and age, YouTube is where people like to consume content.
I agree. My first question to get things started is: As someone who gets to network with a lot of the smartest people in SEO, what's your view on the world of SEO today given that there's just been in my mind, so much volatility?
Volatility is like just the name of the game with SEO. I've been doing it since 2009 and it's always been volatile. Like the first year, I got into it and actually started getting success and making a bunch of money and breaking five figures.
My entire portfolio died that year too. So I'm used to volatility, but today's right now it's an interesting time in SEO because I think it's simultaneously harder than it's ever been before and easier than it's ever been before. And let me explain myself. It's harder in the sense that it takes more resources to do SEO and in the world of SEO resources means content and backlinks, so whereas before you could go after a niche site with 20 pages of content if it's just like hyper-targeted going after knee pain or something like that just I'm gonna write really good content 20 pages and just dive right into knee pain that doesn't work anymore.
So now we're in a world of topical authority where it's like the website that covers a topic more completely, will gain what's called topical authority and have an advantage of ranking over other websites that only dabble in a topic. So there's the content resource that's ballooned. There's also a link resources that you need to apply to a website.
It's just ridiculous right now. Google solves a lot of their problems with just who has the most backlinks. I'm referring to the EAT algorithms, product review algorithms, tons of algorithms where they put up a list of things about how they want their algorithm to work, but it really just boils down to backlinks.
Do you want some evidence of this? Just Google something like the best fat burner and you're going to see a bunch of websites, like Outlook India, Miami Herald. These are all just gigantic websites that people use to piggyback off their link authority, myself included. I'm not throwing people under the bus. I do this myself as well, but we're piggybacking off that link authority just to get to number one on Google. Probably add to Google's embarrassment. I don't think they really want their algorithm to work this way, but it's a big problem. So yeah, it's harder than ever because of this resource requirement, but it's easier than ever because there's never been a time before now when SEO professionals have been more clear on exactly how the algorithm works.
And I think that we've just had too much time to run our single variable test, to network, to compare notes, and just figure out what is actually working these days. And I think that's maybe a by-product of the connectedness of the world these days. Before we were hanging out on forums and no one would really share anything. Everyone was really private. Now people are having live events and everyone's connected on social media and there's just more sharing going on. So I feel like it's easier in the sense that I know exactly what it takes to rank, and I think a lot of other people that I'm connected with are making more money now than they ever did before.
So I would say that the knowledge part outweighs the resource part. The other interesting part about SEO right now is this influx of AI. Google's rolling out SGE, a search generative experience, which is them being able to answer queries with AI at the top of the search results. That's not good for websites because if people are getting their answers from the AI, there's no need for websites anymore. Why would I need to go dig around a website for an answer when it's right here at the top of Google? So that there's fear over losing traffic and there's going to be some non-zero amount of traffic that's shaved off of our website traffic.
But I don't think it's going to be that bad. We have to remember Google makes 11 figures per year. That's hundreds of billions of dollars based on ad revenue and that's ad revenue that websites pay. If they stop feeding the golden goose they're just going to lose all the money. So I don't think it's going to be that bad.
The silver lining on the whole thing is we've just now got permission to use AI in our content generation. So our biggest resource requirement content was now reduced to a fraction of what it ever was before because black hat is now legal because they're able to use AI in their search results. They have to be able to let everyone else use AI and it's just been like the floodgates are open. I'm printing out websites right now and I've already added another seven figures to my portfolio value just since the advent of AI.
That's probably going to be the hot take I'm going to pull from this podcast.
All right. We'll see if I can do better.
So, you touched upon obviously the topical authority and where it's never been a better time to be an SEO and to learn it. I'm just wondering what you see for people who are maybe intimidated by SEO that they don't seem to get started. I just see a lot of professionals that I think if you add this SEO skill set to what you do in your day job, I think this is just gonna add more. So why do you think people are still overwhelmed or are you seeing maybe more changes?
I would also agree from a bird's eye view, that SEO might look intimidating, but also if you looked at math that way too, that would look difficult, right? So eventually I have to learn linear algebra. But how do you learn math? You start at the beginning, you start with arithmetic, then you get into geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and then maybe you might work your way up to this linear algebra thing. So it's just how you approach the SEO learning process.
I would start with the course and start from the beginning, it's not like you have to digest the whole profession in one day. So I want to give a little tough love to the people who might be intimidated to learn new things and new skill sets, because if you're shying away from learning something like YouTube, SEO, whatever, digital marketing in general, you're probably not a lifelong learner and you probably should just get used to working for other people for the rest of your life, because that is entrepreneurship.
At the end of the day, SEO is just the tool that I'm using right now. What I'm really doing, showing up and getting in front of the computer every day is I'm perfecting entrepreneurship. I'm learning product market fit, I'm learning how to hire people, I'm learning how to scale, that's entrepreneurship. SEO is just the tool of the day.
And at the end of the day (no pun intended), you really just want to craft entrepreneurship, whether it's SEO or not, and that's what's going to make you AI-proof. That's what's going to carry you forward from generation to generation as technologies change. That's the real skill, entrepreneurship. A really good book that'll light a fire in your ass is called The End of Jobs by Taylor Pearson.
I won't spoil it. Just read it.
So Jay Yap did a post where he hopped on one of the, like a partner's website and was able to increase it substantially. So my question is, have you seen a lot of these data stories where you've just been able to see amazing results or maybe profound learnings from being able to look at all the different types of SEO data and the way you can break it down?
Yeah. So the biggest secret to my success probably relates back to my engineering background, is to be able to run single variable tests and SEO.
So what a single variable test is you have a set of websites, this might be your control group, and you don't do anything new to these guys. You have another set of websites where you're testing something new. Let's test something like information gain. So in each of these articles, I'm going to add something new that none of the other articles on the top of page one have.
So I'm adding something new to the corpus, I'm adding something new to Google and maybe they might think I'm better than these guys. So the punchline is 75 to 80 percent of these hypotheses that I come up with single and single variable testing don't actually work. They don't actually yield a positive result.
So most of the time it's me dodging bullets and saving time on different things that I could add to my process, my SEO process and, spoiler alert, information gain is one of them. It doesn't yield a positive effect and that's during core updates as well. And this is a big difference that a lot of the like patent junky SEOs and Theoretical SEOs, they don't like to hear something like this because it makes a lot of sense.
Wouldn't Google want to reward websites that add more content than the other websites on page one? It just doesn't. Do I know why? I can take some guesses, but it just doesn't in practice. So at the end of the day, like I think these data experiments, what they're really helping me do most of the time is save time so I can focus on the tasks that are going to get results and I can throw all this theoretical stuff away, the time-wasting stuff away. So I get better and faster results at my portfolio company, my agency gets better results for our clients and our students at The Affiliate Lab get better results.
That's where I think it's been the most beneficial for me. I think what it really boils down to is Google is a business that needs to maximize profits. Yes, they're very smart, they can look at thousands of ranking factors, right? But will they at the cost of their profit? If you're Googling something like how to tie a shoe, do you think they're going to run a 15 per search algorithm on that? No, they're going to save money. And we have to remember that.
Going back to AI content where I think you mentioned that it makes content like you're able to accelerate the rate of content you're able to produce with AI. What other AI tools are you using in your business outside of the content?
Outside of content? My content tool is Surfer AI. My non-content tool would, it's all of its language generation stuff. But outside of content generation, I guess it would just be ChatGPT, I don't really use anything else, ChatGPT is such a great Swiss army knife for so many tasks.
I use it for website audits and content audits. You can take ChatGPT, feed it something like Google's documentation, product reviews, guidelines, the quality radar guidelines, and then say: grade my article versus these other three articles at the top of Google and find out where you're weak. So that's really powerful.
It's really good for social media. It helps me design like a lot of the YouTube titles that I come up with. Repurposing is killer. This is just like one of the biggest time-savers I ever do. So for example, coming on this podcast you're asking me questions, I'm answering these questions and I can then take a transcript of this, feed this to ChatGPT and say: use whatever nuggets I said in this interview and make 40 social media posts of this. And then I'm done for the rest of the year, something like that. That's really powerful for that. And then digital PR, when you're creating newsworthy stories and getting them in front of journalists to build backlinks, it's like the most powerful way to build backlinks these days.
ChadGPT is a killer at coming up with interesting angles to pitch to journalists. Remember when Barbenheimer came out, like Barbie and Oppenheimer came out on the same weekend. That was like a big event, like virally, like people got into that. I asked Chad GPT: how could I leverage this to make a viral story or a viral piece of content that I can pitch to journalists for my fitness website? And immediately comes back with it. You should make a fitness routine based on these movies and stuff. So here's exercise number one, atomic abs, exercise number two the constant plank, like plank's constant. Those, it's freaking clever. Like I wanted to come up with that by myself.
I love ChatGPT.
Okay, that's a lot, lots of notes there. Let's flip things around and talk about B2B SEO since you have to use this for your business. What do you think affiliate programs and affiliate managers should be doing to help their business in ways which go full circle to actually help their customers, their affiliates?
Oh yeah. The biggest thing that they can help me with is just steering me towards the right products to promote. So we're just guessing when we log into that dashboard and we see their EPC numbers and stuff like that, but they really know the behind-the-scenes and especially how to relate that to the content I already have.
So steering me towards the profitable products is the big thing. And then the second best thing that they can do for me is make a creative offer that's better than buy this, get this. So buy three, get one free or sign up for 12 months and let's have some kind of recurring aspect to it.
So that's one of the biggest things that can add another zero to the income I'm making with a product.
Yeah, it makes sense. In terms of all the data that an affiliate program or an operator would have on their side in my experience with some of the programs I've dealt with, especially in iGaming, I don't feel like they're actually looking at that data and sharing it back with affiliates where I think that would change a lot.
I would think that SEO is a skill that many affiliate managers should know or be learning. And I almost think that if they actually knew SEO better, they'd probably jump on the other side of the fence and start their own affiliate sites.
That's funny. So the, there's so I'm big into the fitness space and there's a few networks, more niche, and I would say stack brands, fan fuel, these guys are like completely targeting SEO to drive traffic to their offers that's their specialty, right? They're, ironically, the only ones that I ever see making an investment in educating their own affiliate base on SEO.
And I know that because they literally brought me in and gave trainings to their affiliates. And I think their community appreciates that. But like any hybrid networks where we do a little paid ads and SEO and stuff like that, I don't see them investing in it. Maybe there's a reason behind that, but I don't know why.
I find that interesting because I just find that the affiliate programs I've dealt with where I've got thousands of accounts, the outreach has been done terribly and I just find that they don't really know their product as well. And I just think if they actually understood SEO, they would approach us affiliates in a different way where it wouldn't be, let's just think from this, I need the number one position on your homepage mentality where if they knew how to use basic tools like Ahrefs and they'd be able to deconstruct where you find better opportunities on your own site.
Yeah. Here's an interesting anecdotal story. So we talked about parasite SEO before where you're jumping on like one of these newspapers to get to the top of Google, right? We were ranked number one for blank product review blank review, and we were making X amount of money. We'll just call it 10,000 a month from this product.
We also decided, why don't we dominate page one? Why don't we be number one, two, and three? So we ordered some parasite articles and one of them happened to jump to number one on Google. Guess how much we were making afterwards. Like 6,000. The reason was they just don't convert that well.
You can't design them, decorate them. And there's probably a lack of trust when you're just piggybacking off of Outlook India or something like that. It's probably just, I don't know, causing some kind of skepticism or something like that. It is within these networks' best interest to nurture their website affiliates, because they're going to make more money.
If it's all parasite that's jammed up at the top of Google, the network is going to make more money, less money.
I've got a question that I've asked a few other SEO guests, and I think I might know the answer. And it has to do with this idea that in my space in iGaming where I've come from there's a lot of affiliates that say it's getting too competitive where it's almost give up, don't even get started.
But when I interviewed Kyle, he basically said, no, like what you've said earlier, that this is one of the best times to become an SEO, looking at something that's highly competitive as online gambling. What would you say for advice or maybe a strategy for getting started? Where you are competing against companies that have large bank rules.
They have like the SEO arsenal to be able to get links, buy links, hire the best content writers, use AI tools to get stronger. So what would your take be on how people can get started and penetrate this intimidating space?
I think casinos, I'm guessing, I haven't done casino in a long time and I just did it in one geo Thailand. So like I'm guessing here, maybe you can help me verify whether this is true or not. But as I understand, casinos change a lot. There's new games all the time, new bingos pop up, new pokers and all that kind of stuff. So there's probably content gaps that are getting created every single day. Now an established website and an established team, as long as they can identify these and they have a big website with a lot of authority, if they jump on it, they're going to be able to grab that.
So one thing that I would recommend is starting off an aged domain or a domain that's if you purchase an existing site and start from there, there's this strange effect called like the first rise. And when you get like an expired domain or an aged domain and start a new piece, a new website on it, it typically gets just blessed at the beginning.
You're going to get asymmetric growth curves and I think the reason is because this website was like at the bottom of page eight of Google for these target keywords. So it's getting judged upon those kinds of criteria is that people. Websites that don't have much traffic. So you get this huge ranking increase and traffic increase at the beginning.
And that's when I would say, then you attack these content gaps. And of course, when the core update rolls around, that's going to get corrected and you'll probably start growing flat after that. But that's how I would jump in there, I would jump on an age domain and then just attack those content gaps and see what happens after the core update when you start to get treated normally.
Yeah, that makes a bit of sense. So my personal take on the SEO slash iGaming space is that everyone is just more or less copying each other. And I would guess just from going through all the different things you teach in the SEO space, you guys are talking about topical authority and you really get into the mindset of what the user wants.
And I think what I've been hearing on the iGaming side, especially in relation to SEO and content, is that people keep doing it from a sales perspective, or they're trying to satisfy Google first rather than who they're actually marketing to.
Yeah, you have to do both. And at the end of the day, if you're getting tons of traffic, but it's just bad layout or you're not answering the question at the top of your content, your users are going to bounce and you're going to lose that SEO traffic anyways.
I want to just pivot quickly into the Surfer SEO tool. I've been using it for a little while and I remember asking you previously for the SEO tools that you can't live with. And I think you said Surfer and maybe Ahrefs. Would you say Surfer is for someone who's getting started in SEO? And how valuable do you think it is as a tool for, I know what it does for me in terms of kicking my ass and saying, Hey, John, put more effort into your content. Maybe just talk about what Surfer is for everyone in the SEO space.
Yeah. So what Surfer does is from a content perspective, it analyzes the top-ranking sites on Google, and it extracts out what got them to number one, two, and three on Google.
So it'll figure out how long they wrote their content, it'll figure out how they structured their articles, and you'll figure out what the critical NLP entities, keywords, and phrases that it's sprinkled in the content and at what frequencies. And so then when you're writing that content, it gives you a dashboard on the right-hand side that shows you how you're progressing along to fit in with the exact things that got the other articles to the top of Google.
And so what this does for a beginner is you just can't miss it. It's like when you take your kids bowling and they put the lanes on the side and you just the ball is going to get hit the pins eventually. It's like that. And then once you scale up and you get good and you're not writing your own content anymore, you don't have to hire experts anymore, SEO experts. You can also hire beginners and because they have the bumper lines on, they're going to hit the pins.
I like how the tool is gamified content writing. I never found content writing. So interesting where I'm typing along and just watching these keywords get knocked up and going, okay, I need to be strategic about putting this together.
The last question I want to ask is what do you see of the future of affiliate marketing as it intersects with business intelligence?
I can tell you what I want. Like right now. It's like with business intelligence, it's I'm going to do this full set of SEO things I'm going to optimize for speed.
I'm going to write this content. I'm going to interlink these articles together. I'm going to get backlinks and then I might get a positive increase in traffic later to watch them out to what amount I have no freaking clue. You just get a gut feeling on what you're able to do in terms of website growth, I have no clue, like to the level of detail, if I write this piece of content, it's going to make me that much money, if I'm going to build this backlink, it's going to make me that much money. That's like completely blind to me. I don't know if that's solvable, but if it is, that changes the game, like to be able to correlate costs with the output.
That's tough, but I think it goes full circle to what you said earlier about doing all your different single variable test experiments where eventually once you get those wins, it might take a lot to get a win, but once you have it, I think you're able to compound on it.
Yeah, honestly, I think the best version of this is like what you're doing with StatsDrone. I do this on the content website side too, is just correlating a lot of data together on existing websites that have done this before. So if you know the last 50 websites that have sold in the education niche, then you know how much they make, how much content they have, how many backlinks they built. So that's probably the best you can get, at least from my perspective, is just knowing how much current people are actually making and what they put into it.
You're on a great start with Statshrone.
Thank you so much. Matt, how can people get a hold of you?
Twitter, I might get a response there. Check me out on my YouTube channel. That's where I'm posting most of my content. I answer the comments. So there you go.
Awesome. Thank you so much for doing this.
It's a pleasure.
You can reach Matt Diggity on LinkedIn and learn more about him at diggitymarketing.com
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