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Unmasking the SEO Lady: Nina Payne's Impressive SEO Career Journey

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Nina Payne SEO Lady

Nina Payne, widely recognised as the SEO Lady brand, is a formidable presence in the realm of Search. Nina has garnered acclaim for her proficiency with on-page SEO and has a reputation for being relentless. She's eagerly anticipating her inaugural appearance at Brighton SEO in 2024. Beyond her unique SEO methods, she's also a confident Project Manager, Trainer and a Video SEO pioneer. Sitting on 30 years of online experience, she has been a powerhouse in propelling hundreds of eCommerce and local services businesses in the UK to Google page 1.


Nina distinguishes her approach with a ubiquitous no-nonsense attitude and highly personal, informal way of client management.

In 2004, Nina quit her media sales day job to sell 12” vinyl records on eBay. Her DJ hobby flew her to Ibiza, Amsterdam and Australia, buying 6,000 records as her obsession with music grew. For three years, Nina successfully sold over 15,000 12” dance vinyl's and working from her home office and in internet cafes.

With big numbers framed in modesty, Nina single-handedly upscaled a futon and bed ecommerce website as an employee. Representing the power seller accounts on eBay and Amazon, Nina manually updated every single product on both platforms. In four years, Nina’s direct impact returned a 150% turnover increase from £2 million to £5 million.

Twenty years later in our ever-evolving sphere of digital marketing, Nina quickly adopted a hands-on approach with integrating LLM's into her processes. Nina has coached business owners, sole traders, digital agencies and eCommerce businesses throughout her career. As a confident Project Manager, she's handled thousands of ad-hoc projects and delivered SEO training throughout the UK and Ireland. For over 16 years Nina has championed remote working, team collaborations and has surrounded herself with talented developers and designers.

Nina offers cutting edge techniques to enhance traditional on-page SEO techniques with YouTube optimisation to showcase videos in Google SERPs. A regular contributor in the X Spaces every week, Nina isn't shy to ask questions and engage with other SEO's with different specialisms to continually grow her knowledge. There's always a notebook by her bed for penning late night ideas, and for documenting knowledge gained from Google Garage sessions, videos, webinars and podcasts.

As a time-served ecommerce and local Google leader, the SEO Lady portfolio features many clients who have been working together with Nina for a decade or more. A self-described enthusiast in her field, Nina has no plans for retirement. As a solution to juggling capacity and a work/life balance, the SEO Lady brand will evolve further into a women-led digital agency in 2024.

White labelling her services for British and International Digital Agencies, Nina's sincere, direct approach is rooted in her commitment to always deliver her utmost. She offers SEO guidance during critical transitions such as domain shifts or platform changes, and counsels on website UX and overhauls, seizing every moment to impart wisdom and expertise to your team.

Nina Payne thrives in spirited discussions and group dialogues, exchanging client success stories and participating in Slack forums. Every conversation represents an opportunity for growth and enhancement, fostering networking prospects.

The Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast with Nina Payne

Watch the interview

(click on the 'cc' icon to view subtitles)

Listen to the podcast

(60 minutes long)

The unscripted questions Mark A Preston asked Nina Payne

  • Who is Nina Payne, the SEO Lady?

  • What has your SEO career journey been like?

  • What does it feel like being at the birth of something which became a household brand?

  • How do you use Video SEO to gain backlinks?

  • Does adding links in the YouTube description help to generate new business?

  • What is your thing when it comes to SEO?

  • What are your thoughts when it comes to trademarks and SEO?

  • Do you think there is a disconnection with SEOs not understanding the business itself?

  • How do you scale your SEO business when it is specific to you?

  • What are your future plans for your SEO business?

  • What have you found to be some of the problem commonalities when training businesses on SEO?

  • Do you work with a specific type of client?

  • What is your approach with taking on SEO freelancers when you are at full capacity?

  • What is it about the SEO industry that makes you passionate?

  • Would you say that the key to long-term success is consistency?

  • Are SEOs just coming up with new fancy names for what we've been doing for years?

  • Are backlinks a top 3 ranking factor, or not?

  • What can our audience help Nina Payne (the SEO Lady) with?

The unscripted conversation between Mark A Preston and Nina Payne

Mark A Preston: Welcome to the Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast. Yes, it's 100% unscripted, 100% unrehearsed, 100% unedited, and 100% real. I'm your host Mark A Preston. And today's guest I'll let her introduce herself because I don't know that much about her. Hello, Nina.

Nina Payne: Hi, Mark. It's a real pleasure. Thank you for reaching out and I thought why the hell not? Yeah.

Mark A Preston: Just for anybody that doesn't know who you are, could you give me a bit of an overview of your background in the SEO industry? Where you've come from, what your journey and what you do now?

Nina Payne: Yeah, so I'm under the brand of SEO Lady, so that's my domain name. Things started for me knowing SEO before I knew what SEO was, so specifically the search engine eBay in 2004. Historically one of my hobbies was to be a dance... Vinyl DJ. So technically I'm an international DJ because I've DJ'd over in Ibiza and I've DJ'd down under in Australia and obviously around the UK as well. And over time I've collected something like 6,000 records. All dance music, and I was really hating life working in advertising, and I thought, oh, this eBay looks good. So I started to list a few on eBay, and then I figured out that I could sell a record at £4.99 with the identical barcode number and sleeve and everything else than somebody else 99 pence. Simply because, instead of saying Michael Jackson and Thriller, I would put 12 inch vinyl funky house record DJ. Michael Jackson thriller at the end, because the way I thought about it was thinking sideways. What if people aren't really looking for Michael Jackson, but they stumbled across somebody that's a DJ that's selling 12 inch vinyl records. So I didn't know that they were the fundamentals and neither did I know that adding a sound clip. Adding a link to the record on Juno records talking about personally, this is a record that I bought, or this is a record that was given to me. This is the feature in the remix. This is the year. This is the record number. This is the label that it was originally produced on. Might be a promo, might be a white label. So all of that was carrying on. And then I jumped, I sold all my records after about four years. And I jumped into another sales job. And the owner said. Can you have a look at our website? And I was like, yeah, what for?


I need to be hiring Google for, I think it was invoice factoring or invoice processing. And this is in Somerset in Nailsy. So I said yeah I need access to your website, please. And then they sat me with a developer and then he said what do you know? And I said I don't really, but using the theory that I've been selling on eBay, surely instead of putting welcome to my website or your brand name, if you Google the brand name, of course, they're going to be top of Google. It's the same as Funky Pigeon. Google doesn't know what Funky Pigeon is. They are personalized cards website. So I replaced all the homepage content with what I now know as keywords. And yeah, they increased. Did you remember Alexa when Alexa was a thing, when you could verify your site on Alexa? This is going back, isn't it? And so yeah, I got all of these. And then I read about directories. When directories were a thing. So I spent half my day looking where I could get people to link back to the domain things escalated. Then after six months, I was looking for another job and I saw this studio in Bristol, it was a printing company and they advertised for a, I think they advertised it as a Google something, they didn't say SEO. So I went for the interview and they said what experience have you got? And I said I've done AdWords because I've just been doing it with the other chappy. And I said, I've increased their relaxed around something like 13 million in three weeks.


And so it's going the right way. I said, but the contract just finished. It was a temporary six month placement. So I'm immediately available and I just want to give it a shot. And he said okay. Then I had the email and the phone call. Yep. Come on down. So it started on the Monday that the whole first week there sat in, big office, it's all, very busy. They printed calendars 11 months, or rather, they printed calendars 11 months through the year, but all the sales for the other side of the business came in December for the following year and diaries and things like that. So there was two arms of the business and then they had the printing press downstairs for the personalized cards and the developer team were behind me. And my job, which the funniest thing in the world, I was told to break the website. I want you to go into the website and I want you to act like a stupid first time user and I want you to make it fall over. And I was like hold my beer. So I used to put in really random search queries. I'd overflow the text in the greetings card to see that it wouldn't wrap around, take screenshots of that. And then with each product that they came in, I had to categorize them. So it would be Father's Day, Mother's Day, photo upload, and then the size, that kind of thing. So each of those, I then, now realize, they were metatags. And they were the categories that help people fundamentally navigate around the website. So I did that and that was like Monday to Friday, the first week. Monday, the second Monday I rocked up, director said to me, Oh, by the way, big shout out to Richard Pepper. So what we did over the weekend was have a barbecue and we decided to rebrand. From remind for you to funky pigeon. And we've been out and bought all the domains because people can't spell pigeon.


So they, we've got P I D G E O N, all the misspellings, all the. co. uk, all the. coms. We've got this idea for a really funky pigeon with a satchel, obviously, cause he's going to be delivering the letters and delivering the cards. And so now I want you to beat moon pig. And I said, okay, what for? And he said, personalized cards. So normally if you work with a client nowadays, you know that the client will say to you, Oh, I've got this spreadsheet of 400 keywords and I want you to rank from them all. And then you say, look, can we drill this down and start to prioritize first of all? And I said, anything else? And he says, no, just personalized cards. Okay. So I created a Google Alert for Moonpig. So every time that they had something published, I would be hot on their steps. I'd be looking where they're getting the links from, what articles they're publishing, that kind of thing. And then I joined the UK Business Forum. There was one thing that I wasn't aware of course I wasn't, is that there's a Google change of address. So the old domain was probably around eight years old, which is rare for someone in 2008. And it was a very established brand. And it was towards the bottom of Google page one for personalized cards. And I thought two keywords. That's a tough one, isn't it? So I did the Google change of address. This was probably in Month three of me trying and stalking Moonpig, releasing my own blogs. I was active on Twitter doing giveaways, retweet for a chance to win a free card or a 50 gift voucher. So I got the word of mouth going on there. The old Google blogger, remember those?


So I used to post on there and then I created obviously a blog on the website, videos on YouTube, and again, it's the eBay principle. So I'm starting every video with personalized cards online, photo upload, blah, blah, blah, and then Funky Pigeon, obviously at the end, because we don't want people to know it's a brand name. And then I was linking from the description to, if the video was about Mother's Day cards, it would obviously go to the Mother's Day category. And if it was just a generic one, then it would just go to the homepage. So this is, The beginnings of video SEO. And these are the safe backlinks that I was looking for. So no more directories. I was creating my own mini sites, if you like, or just citations across the board. Had an absolute ball, went onto the forums. They said, you need to do the Google change of address. I'm getting free information. This is all free. So I was like, thank you very much. And let me give that a go. And I think it was the Thursday. I said I'm going to do this boss. And this is what I'm going to do. I've just discovered this. And he said, yeah, whatever, Nina, we trust you. Just get on with it. I think it was Tuesday the following week. I was walking down this massive office towards Richard's office and he was walking towards me with his hand in the air and I can't, it's so far away. I can't. Talked to him, so I'm walking towards him and he's just got his hand in the air like that, and I always remember it. And I got up close to him and he's still got his hand in the air, and then he just nodded, so I did that with my hand, and then he slapped me, and he said, Google page one, position one for personalized cards, you've beat Moonpig. I said what he said.


Oh yeah. Every morning when I do, I get in the office, I go to CHRO Incognito or whatever, incognito and I search for personalized cards. And MoonPig obviously is always there. He says, you've done it. And so that Funky Pigeon, the domain itself was probably only about three or four months old. And then I sat and I said, okay, so we've done personalized cards now what? And he said, keep us there. And I tried to say, You can't get better than Google page one. If you're not going to give me additional search phrases, I'm just going to make stuff up. And he went, do that then. So the next one was because we were like July, August, I thought Christmas cards because funky pigeon do packs of 10, or you can do your own wedding invitations, in bulk load, I'll do Christmas cards. So I've got the URL. Fine, wrote a new blog post, whatever year it was for this, and then this was the pattern. So every year on the 4th of January, when he came back, I would then start a new blog post with the date in the URL, which I know now isn't an evergreen URL, but it worked for me at the time. So every time I did a blog post, when Christmas comes and the traffic comes, my URL's 11, 12 months old.


The amount of people that I get as a freelancer, contacting me in November and screaming and saying I need Christmas traffic now doesn't work like that. It really doesn't. So it's, now I'm in such a really good position. When I left Funky Pigeon, I then went into the beds industry, and that's when I launched my website, so I was moonlighting. I was doing people per hour work at weekends and evenings and things, and absolutely adore the job that I did. Whether it's Funky Pigeon, The Bed Company, myself, I was just having fun. I was learning things and eventually I thought what am I gonna be ranking in Google for? And at the time, I didn't think of the word freelancer because I had no help. So I was doing SEO and then a lot of people were coming to me for training. So back on Skype, I used to do hour calls with trainers. And I'd do the Google audit in advance and I'd pick them apart and, I'd piss on the chips and destroy their homepage and say, why are you saying welcome to my website? You're selling fizzy drinks bottles for God's sake. Oh yeah, I didn't realize it was that easy as well. Technically, the concept is easy, but the delivery is a different matter. And in 2024, it's 16 years of working here in my office in Somerset.

Mark A Preston: WOW! Do you know what? I just love doing these podcasts because you just never know what interesting conversations you're going to have. That, that is just one amazing journey. And what I loved about that is... You were just figuring it out as you went along. Yeah. Like most of us do. Exactly. And that, some things work, some things don't. And it is just figuring it out. And to say you started on a brand. Basically what Funky Pigeon became then. Yeah. It is to be there at the birth of it kind of thing. Yeah. Must feel really, personally touching for you.

Nina Payne: I still keep in touch with Richard on LinkedIn. Every year he gets a birthday wish from me and in fact I introduced him to somebody that's in the gifting sector. And I emailed him and said, do you mind if I connect you with somebody that could do with a bit of advice. I said I've given him some advice, obviously, knowing about it, but Richard's now an independent consultant advising, gifting and personalized gifts across the UK and I imagine overseas, I can't imagine him sticking to the UK. He's a wonderful guy with his head screwed on and yeah, I've got nothing but high praise for him.

Mark A Preston: One thing I spotted when you were telling your story there is you mentioned something about using video SEO to get backlinks. Backlinks from where and video SEO, how?

Nina Payne: It's funny, I'm talking about this at Brighton SEO in April next year. So I don't want to share too much now because I don't want people to rock up and know what I'm going to say. But the concept is. is that you have a backlink in your description. So before the hashtags came into YouTube, it was just, it was the first, it was the top of the description. So rather than saying buy our personalized cards, blah, blah, blah. And then the link at the bottom would be funky pigeon, because if you don't actually click into the description, You do get a preview of the very, is it top two lines or something? So by having your link there, it also acts as a visual aid to people that are browsing and then they think, Oh why not? I'll just check it out. But what is really interesting is that obviously I get hired by agencies now as a freelance white label. And in all the years I've been in my career, not one of them have done this. And I can't understand how something so simple can be overlooked by so many.


Anybody can do this. So the videos that I go and see with a client, so I've got a sheepskin client at the minute, and their videos are, they don't even say sheepskin in them. It will say their brand name and then it will say the date that the video was published. So I'm the on page girl helping with on page SEO. They don't need backlinks. It's a really good brand. I don't need to touch anything of those. So that's a relief. I am the on page girl. But the video thing, none of them have got descriptions in. They haven't got any keyword tags in there. Obviously the titles aren't optimized. And because Google owns YouTube, you'll effectively get a link back from Google. And the whole thing is all wrapped into one. So if you then take your video and then you embed it, but the video is called SEO Freelancer Somerset SEO Lady Nina Payne or whatever. If you are writing a blog about SEO Somerset, you want a video to say SEO Somerset in the title and then you want to link to your blog, which is SEO Somerset and then your tags and stuff like it is so easy.

Mark A Preston: Yeah, I was going to say, it's that connection between the page and the video, like it's common. I bring it down to common sense in essence. It's logic. Yeah, I think that a lot of SEOs don't put the link, in at the top of the description because they're not in that mindset. That link could drive a lot of business, but they're just thinking about links for ranking purposes. It's just that, to these links and profiles and everything that connects together to increase business itself.

Nina Payne: So after this then are you going to go onto your YouTube channel and start linking out?

Mark A Preston: Actually I used to do that and for some reason I stopped. Because I yeah, I don't know why. I actually used to do that, and then, yeah, I don't know why I just stopped doing that, but it's the connection. If that video that I post on YouTube, has a direct relationship with a page on my website, then yes, there's a link now. But I won't just post a link for the link's sake, unless it's related. For the user journey, so it's seamlessly going through.

Nina Payne: Yeah, I'd still add, even, as I say, even if it's your homepage, if it's your domain. I've always said you could give me a video of your grandma making an apple pie recipe and I could rank it for SEO Somerset. You, when was your first SEO speaking job?

Mark A Preston: I can't remember now, about 10 years ago.

Nina Payne: Was that local? How did you get the gig?

Mark A Preston: Like anything in life, I stumbled into it. It's just, it was. Literally just the local networking event and they said, Oh we need someone to talk about SEO. Can you do it? I said, why not?

Nina Payne: Yeah, that's the same. I didn't think.

Mark A Preston: And it's just how things happen in the industry and we progress along the journey. So apart from the video SEO side. What would you say your sort of thing, SEO thing is?

Nina Payne: SEO thing is pre AI, I could generate content and talk about futons and beds for four years, and still come up with something new every month to talk about. And then it would be the related keywords. So space saving ideas for kids. So that's a good point, actually. So going back to eBay, the bed company had all of their eBay listings and they said, three foot Jeremy. Let's just create a bed's name is called Jeremy and they had all of their eBay listings saying three foot Jeremy or four foot. And for me I didn't know anything about beds. I didn't know that a single was three foot, that you've got a small double at four foot and then you've got four foot six, which is a double C. I remember all of these things. So I said is there any way that I can download a spreadsheet for eBay? Cause they were a power seller. And I said and I sat down with a girl And I said, okay, so you've got all of these here, but people don't know, three foot frank. It doesn't actually say wooden bed for children, single, with mattress, without mattress, free delivery. And I said, and in your description, you've just written three foot frank which doesn't make any sense. And historically, as I said, I've talked about futons and beds for four years. I do remember that the turnover on eBay plus other sources. When I joined was two million, and when I left was five.


And I really enjoyed my time there, but then I started to get training gigs coming through. So my first training gig was in Dublin, and I was working for an agency in Ireland. And every week they'd have a new website and the developers would email me and say how do we prepare for Google with this? And I said where's the homepage content? Google can't read images. Have you named them? Your alt tags? Rather than your brand name what you're doing? Oh, okay. And this went on for quite a while until the the director said, do you know what Nina, we're just going to fly you over. We need you to tell these guys what to do once and for all because we can see the email exchanges and you're saying the same thing over and over again. So I says fine. So do you remember when, I don't know if it was EasyJet or Ryanair, they did flights for a fiver. They said okay, so we've got this budget we've applied for a local grant for digital improvement or whatever for their agency, they've been awarded this money, we're going to fly you over and we're, how long do you want to stop for and which date do you want to talk? And I said if we start at which date you want me to talk, we'll move backwards from there. And he says, can you do the whole of a Monday? Like a full eight hours, right?


Yeah, I can talk for England as you probably guessed, not a problem. So they flew me up on the Friday and I just had the weekend in Dublin and my mum came and flew over on the Saturday and we did the red bus tours and we did all the touristy things and had a whale of a time. And then, cause she flew back on the Sunday and was like, Oh my daughter, Oh, look at you doing things, how are you feeling nervous? And I was like, no, I've got so much to share. They're going to have to shut me up. I can't wait to be there. And yeah, so my first training gig was ten web developers. And I used Funky Pigeon as a case study, so I'd already prepped all my slides, and then more or less said what I've said to you today, is that this is what's going on, they recorded the session too and effectively, as Dixon said to me last night, You out trained yourself out of a job, I said, because after three weeks, they said, we don't need you anymore. And then next, I did keep in touch with the directors, and they were up front about it, you did so well, we don't need you anymore. By the way, now we know what questions to ask. We have hired an in house SEO that is not as experienced as you, but now we know that we can send her on training and that's been a big thing for me and going about networking portable toilets. Hi Becky! Portable toilets in Somerset. Who knew talking about shit could be so fun. That was a networking event one evening in Somerset. And her parents were stepping down after about 25 years. And they said to their daughters, okay, you're taking over the business now. And they were on, they weren't even on a Wix website. They weren't on one website. And previous to that talk, I think they paid somebody 500 pound, which was a ridiculous amount of money for three pages.


So I went in and I have the, they said, can I book a consultation? And I said, come on round. To my house. So they came round and then I tore the shit outta their homepage and I said, welcome to your brand and things like that. I said, you, you do need to talk about shit, but you're not allowed to say shit. And so she's, she does, she's very brutal, I think on social media because that's a different thing, but you don't want those kind of words. I remember making a mistake as well. I think this is the first mistake I've made. I said, what do you want? She went portable toilet hire, hot water hire portable toilets for construction sites festival toilet hire, blah, blah, blah. Portable, port a loo. So I start filling out a new... blog post about Port, higher Portaloos in Somerset. And then they had a takedown notice from a very nice man at Portaloo who said, we've got a Google alert. Every time somebody mentions Portaloo, we know that someone's using our brand name. And so you're going to have to delete everything. And Becky rang me up and she was absolutely beside herself saying, I'm really sorry, Nina. I knew, but I didn't know I was breaking legal things. And you went ahead and did it. And I thought I don't care. She knows what she's doing. And I was like, I don't know anything. But she said it was wonderful on the phone. He was really apologetic and said. I'm sorry, but all the content that Nina's written is going to have to be deleted. And I said it's not, I just changed the URL was portalo at that time. And I had WordPress tags and categories that said portalo as well.


So I went through and deleted all of those. I did 301 them to the main blog because I didn't want to cause a 404. So scrubbed all incidences of portalo on the website. The other takedown notice was by fax. There was a domain in Bristol, and I used to go every Friday and spend, I think it was, six hours I'd go there. So I work four days a week in my office. And then I was the in house SEO Friday and I handled some of the Google ads there as well. And I was in the office chatting with the owner one afternoon and the fax machine went and she pulled it off and she said, does this look genuine? And it was from Hoover in America. And bearing in mind what I know about Portaloo, I said, yeah, that looks, let's have a look at the bottom. Let's have a look. And I said, and I think the facts was like five or six pages. And he said we will give you, I think one month's notice. But because they were pneumatic distributors, obviously that included the Henry Hoover brand and they bought Henry Hoover as their domain name and they branded their entire thing, logos and everything with Henry Hoover. So essentially meant that they've got to completely work around their business. So I went on that Friday and next, the following week, I had an email from the owner. She said, Do you think it's possible to rank for Hoover on the website, bearing in mind that we're not allowed to mention the word Hoover? And I said, No. So that was me out of a job again.

Mark A Preston: What, that was so interesting because I've come across this scenario myself in the past, for, but not in, obviously in Hoover's, but more in the windscreen replacement.

Nina Payne: Oh what, for Autoglass?

Mark A Preston: Yeah, obviously the company I was working with, let's just say that it was taking business away from Autoglass for keywords that they'd apparently trademarked. Yeah. And that was such a big lesson to actually look at the trademarks. And on phrases and everything whilst you're doing research. And from that, until then, I haven't even thought about it.

Nina Payne: No, you don't.

Mark A Preston: And this is what I mean about, we just stumble upon things as SEOs. But the amount of, from that day on, the amount of businesses have saved lots of heartache and money. By just doing the researches first, which they're very rarely come across nowadays.

Nina Payne: Yeah, it's like adding a negative word in Google Ads, isn't it? You don't want to have a competitor's brand or a brand name taking up clicks on your website to find out that the traffic that comes in is actually looking for that brand and it's a total waste of a click.

Mark A Preston: I love how you think about the whole, not just SEO, not just keywords, but the impact to the whole brand, the whole business around, surrounding it. And do you feel like there's a disconnection within the SEO industry on SEOs looking at data and keywords and not, really understanding the business side of things and how it connects together.

Nina Payne: I think that's difficult to quantify. I know that there's some people that are looking to retire or change job because of the recent Google updates and specifically with niche sites. So historically niche sites from what I've learned in the past couple of weeks is that everybody that was locked in over the pandemic started these really random new sites selling affiliates, obviously making money from Amazon. But they launched these specifically for monetization. There was no emotion, no human behind it. They had no contact form. There was no name or photograph of the person that owned the website. It was difficult to actually find out who owned the website. Even by looking on the domain information on who is, so it's very much a faceless thing. And I can understand Google's HCU in terms of, it is nice to have a face. I ran some AB tests on my homepage more than a decade ago with and without my face on. And I found that the whole feedback I had was, we don't care what your face looks like. We just want to know your face. So then all of these people now are having to go and then rebranding themselves and saying, Hi, I'm the owner. And you can contact me. But the other biggest thing that, that stopped them from ranking was that their homepage is all promotional blog roles.


So every week, or even day, the publishing articles would change. And I've experienced this before with an American company and they were doing conferences themselves in tech. Oh ideal fit. And I said to, an interview, I had three interviews and each interview I said, you've got a blog role on your homepage. It's all changing. Google's not going to do, what is it that you want to sell? And they said conference tickets in tech or specific subjects, exactly like Brighton SEO. And I said, okay okay I'm on board with that. So we need some static content on the homepage, please. And they were like no, we don't want that. I was like it's Squarespace. I said, you can do that at Squarespace. No, we don't, we're not changing our entire brand for you. I'm not in month one. And I said, but fundamentally you prevented me from doing my job. By not allowing me, and I fought tooth and nail, you can imagine how passionate I am about this. My job is to make, why are you paying me if you're not allowing me to do my job? And I was furious. And I had it out with them over Skype. And I said, look, the bare minimum, if you want the blog role there, that's fine, but that's gotta be below. I want the static content to be above the fold and the first thing that loads. That's what I want. And they said, okay we'll go with that. But long story short, the role changed. It was it went into LinkedIn marketing, I don't know about you, do you I've never really valued LinkedIn as a apart from connecting people to help others, I haven't had any business from LinkedIn, and neither Twitter, and I don't care. Because I'm so doing so well with my organic work and sharing on Twitter spaces.


And then today with you in a podcast, the brand SEO lady I'm having, I've got growing pains. I turned down a client. What day are we on now? Friday, Wednesday, this chappy book to call with me. And I said, how did you find me? SEO freelancer, and he says no, we spoke on the phone about six years ago and it was with a different company and I really like you, but the company chose someone else. So he said, I've now got this company and it's in a solar panel installation. I was like, cool, I've done that. I said, do you offer funding? I said, or do you have installers or any, so there, I know we're just selling the leads to others. We don't have, and I was like, fine, I'm on board with that. Your domain's not live. I know we're launching it next week. Okay. And what, to get these leads in your advertising on social media, how many do you get in at the minute? Yeah, we're getting about three a week at the minute. And I said, so what is your aim? And they said 10 to 15. And I said a week and at the same time he said a day and I said, okay, that's achievable. So talking about timescales and budget then don't say to me as soon as possible, because I'm not entertaining that. Give me a timeframe. He said three months. I said October. November, December, January. So in three months you want me to rank an entry website for 10 to 15 leads a day for solar panels? Who's going to write the content because I can't? Oh, it doesn't matter. No we've already gone in the backend and we've uploaded the the, it's all SEO ready. I said, define SEO ready. He said it's, we've got everything, all the plugins and I said, are you talking about Yoast?


He says, yes, I am. Yes. And I said, that's a traffic light indicator. It's not, you can't just install Yoast and think that you're going to get to Google page one. And he said, Oh, okay. Noted. And I said, so let's just bypass that a sec. Who's going to write the content? And then it's two business owners and the second chap, he said that would be me. And I said, okay, so let's have a look for let's say Glasgow. It's not, but let's say Glasgow. Solar panel installers, Glasgow. I said you're with me here, sharing my screen. Look at this. There's your one, two. So they're your ads. There's your Google maps. And then these are the organic ones. This is different to look between paid traffic and organic. All right. Okay. Yeah. Natural. Yeah. Got it. No. Oh, okay. I said, so what you need to do is these people have been away for doing their own SEO for five, 10 years. Even two years is better than a week old domain. As the Google trusts domains by their age, I think the figure banded around is around two years. So anything over that, which feeds into the funky pigeon on January, I'm going to start writing about Christmas cards. So Google does trust the domain itself, but it also trusts the old URLs. So effectively I said all right, so these pages sorry, these websites that we're looking at now doing the site search indicator, you're looking at 50 to 60 pages. So I need 50 to 60 articles before you can help hire me. Oh, is there any way around this? And I said, no, there's no magic wand at all, nothing. I'm not Harry Potter, no. I said no. We really want to hire you. And I said, but you've not asked me whether I've got the capacity and I haven't, but you don't need me. a dozen hours a month. What you need is an agency. You need an agency per month with a team or a bum on seat, part time SEO if you can't afford an agency. How much is an agency? And how much are you charging?


And I said it depends. You're going to have to search for your local area, Glasgow Digital Agency. I'd recommend that you can go to the offices and you can speak to them in person. And I said, but I really, I'd love to do the work, but I don't have the capacity. And on the back of that, the growing pains I mentioned in lockdown, I was hiring a lady off people per hour at 15 pounds an hour. I don't know, plumbing. I want 500 words on plumbing, knowing that I can write the other 500 words call to actions and turn the article into a thousand word blog. And she delivered the next day. Now I mentioned that I started training. Oh, 15 maybe plus years ago, and I've continued that, but I had to stop in lockdown simply because When lockdown happened, everybody that had their shops shut needed to start selling e commerce as soon as possible. So my, my client base double trebled in the first 18 months which is still consistently today. A lot of my clients have been with me 10 years 15 years for the portable toilet company. So it is like getting married to your SEO. But I said to this girl, the fuck do you think you're doing charging 15 quid? As if this is practically Nina. Now, I have probably invoiced 800 people for training, Skype, Zoom, me, in my career, in person and 800 people that I've trained, no one, I haven't found a Nina. And I found this, I discovered her and I gave her a right good bollocking. And I said, you are understanding yourself. You are, it's not a race to the bottom for 15 quid an hour. I said, you really have to start charging 25.


And she was like, Oh, I haven't got expenses. I've got a deal for you. You write me four more articles. 500 words each, on, I don't know, plumbing, tiling, this, that, the other, under, underfloor heating, that was another one, and I said, for free, and I will give you a lesson. And she says, deal. So that was it. And it, she delivered in two days. Really hot off the press. So then I delivered the training for her and I said, okay, now the four articles that you've given me, knowing what you do know now, I want you to take them back and I want you to re deliver them to me, how I would do it. So you've got the core 500 words. Now it's your job to do the call to action, the summary. And then I want to do, what are you going to do? Because she wasn't really okay with WordPress tags and categories. She knew the H1 she did ask me. When I approached her for the plumbing website, what keywords do you want me to do? Which no other copywriter has ever done for me. I've had to say, this is the spec and this is what I want you to do. I was just in awe of this girl. I spoke to her this morning. I said I'm going on this podcast remark. It's my first time. And I said, I've had to turn down this client, a potential two and a half grand. This week, and I know that now she's charging 50 pounds an hour, it's three years down the road. Anything that I can't do with my capacity, I pass over to my prodigy and she's at capacity now. So I asked on Spaces, it's again, this was the day that I had to turn down the solar panel guy. I said, how am I going to get around this?


And he said you've trained Susie. And he said, so do you want to hire people at your level? And I said, no, I want some more Suze's. I want some more Suze's that see themselves at 15 or 20 pound an hour. And I said, these are people that are copywriters ideally, so that they've got the skills. And I said, I'm not talking about AI. I'm just talking about natural skills is that sometimes you've got the personalities. Sometimes you haven't. And I saw. A lot of me and Susie and I said, so if we can get more, I could say more, I'm a woman led brand now, if we expand to this and then we're bringing more freelancers and then, and he said you're saying you're at capacity. When are you going to train them? I said I'll do the initial call and Susie will sit in with me. But Susie now does the consultations and training herself. And because she only knows the SEO lady brand of doing things, I know that is all she's going to teach other people. She's got no bad habits to break. So that is going to be, hopefully, Something that I need to do because it's nothing worse than turning down money.

Mark A Preston: I can certainly relate to that. I turn down many thousands of pounds all the time. Cause the problem is, do you find that people come to you because they want you? And I find no, it doesn't matter how good somebody is. If it's not me, they feel shortchanged, because I am the brand.

Nina Payne: Yes, and that's a very good point. But this is where I'm thinking, I was discussing this with Susie this morning, is that I will need to change my homepage and say what I've just said to you, but on my homepage, it's a woman led agency, this, that, the other I have got other people that do pay per click, for example, I've got people that do media and video and editing and stuff like that, that I don't do. So I'm going, I'm going to essentially be a digital agency, but I'm saying that at all times. You have always got my email address or you can ping me on WhatsApp. I am not just going to hand everything over to Susie or just give you an hour's training and then leave you to get on with it. I will be in touch. So I really do want to be the face, but I think, yeah, because I started on People Per Hour in 2009. Fast forward all of these years, I've probably got close to 500 reviews on People Per Hour. All five stars, of course I are. Google Business, I've got I think it's 89 or 90 or so. And all of these, these reviews are backed up. And on my reviews page, I've said, These are all my clients, from Funky Pigeon to Toilets. From carpet cleaners to plumbers to e commerce to local business, whatever your size I'm white label myself to agencies. I can help anyone. I've forgotten the original point now. And if you just let me catch up with myself. And I was thinking is that remaining with my photograph on the homepage changing. the content to say, to explain to people, that's, it's a very valid point. All right, you're an agency. How many agencies have we worked with? And there's, there is that Bertie big bollocks, but you can't actually speak to them because you always get assigned a developer or a designer or something. And they act as like the barrier between you and, the powers that be. And I don't want that to be the same with me. I want people that can connect.

Mark A Preston: I've done the whole agency thing. Have you? For me personally, yeah I've done an agency thing, I've built a UK wide franchise, I've done all that and I just don't want to do it again, but that's a personal choice. I think it's, it, for me, it's not, it's more of a personal choice that for me, I just want to focus on the training and speaking now, just me. I don't want to. Employee people if companies come to me and they need help actually implementing things I know lots of people that can do that for them. And I'll just, make sure that people that I know and trust can do a good job for them can do that side. See, it's a difficult, but personally. It's up to the individual. There's far too much. We have to scale. We have to do this. You don't have to do anything.

Nina Payne: I've always been fighting against it because I didn't want to scale, but money and help. I want to help people. And the people that say, I spoke to you six years ago, and I'm waving money at you and you're saying no, and you, I'm. I don't think it's a sex thing. I'm emotionally invested in people like that in business owners. We've all been there at the start and to, to be at the beginning of somebody's conception, like when funky pigeon was just an egg, that kind of thing. I love the whole growing brands or e commerce or, the case studies I've written on people. So that people can see for themselves, like you said, are they buying into you or are they buying into your reviews? But I say just contact anybody that you see on my website. Here's a few cases. Here's a Shopify one. Here's a Kajabi one. Here's a Magento one. Here's a WordPress one. Here's a domain migration from one to the other. Here's a platform migration from Wix to WordPress. These are the things that I'm confident and capable of doing. Again, it's just time and I think I'm getting restless I feel I just want to help more people and I think today is another part of that. That, doing this podcast today, so that other people can understand how the mentality is of some SEOs versus the ones that are arguing on Twitter, or, splitting the difference, who's right and who's wrong. And then, whatever. I'm keeping out of all that.

Mark A Preston: Yeah, you're better off, I tell you. Like I say, you've Basically trained lots and lots of individuals when it comes to SEO. What have you found has been some of the commonalities? Some of the what, sorry? The commonalities, the, the problems, the issues they've been facing.

Nina Payne: Yeah, it's budget. It's always budget. It's cheaper to pay 70 quid or 100 quid for an hour training. What I do is record. Zoom calls or meets or whatever. And then I upload the video to YouTube as unlisted. So that client then can rewatch that at all time. But yet again, I'm out trailing myself out of a job, but a lot of the time people cut their only budget is. £70 or £100 just this one time. And the common denominator as well is I just need to know the basics and this is what I'm doing so far. Can you pick this apart? Can you give me improvement? Can you do this for me? Put me on the right path and then I will now know what articles to read, all the websites that I've sown or, you need to sign up for this subscription. You get the marketing tips every Friday what tools to use. And so I do over deliver with all of this. And I do, and I say to anybody that I've trained, if you get any questions and I tell you what, if you've asked me twice and you asked me a third time, the same question, you are not stupid. Because as you gathered today, I spout a lot of information, and I talk a million miles an hour, and it's easy to miss some things. But the human brain can't take in 60 minutes of a brand new knowledge. It's impossible.


So you're not stupid if you don't remember, you're not. Because I've asked several things, multiple times. And that's what Su there was a whole thread on social a couple of months ago and Susie waded in. I said, can somebody please give me a review of what it's like to work with with me? And Susie piled in and she said, there are no stupid questions. And because I've taught her that. Yeah. Yeah. A lot of it is just that they can't afford an SEO and I'm in this middle ground at the minute between the people that can't afford me, the people that can afford me and want to hire me versus the three grand a month clients that I'm missing out on. So I'm in this between state now is that how do I go from one client base to less clients? More focused for me. I'm more available. I've got more spare time. I can handle and manage people. But essentially, I don't want to have employers. I want to have other freelancers. Because I know that in the UK, you've got the law, the whole pension thing the time off everything else that you, as an employer, you're legally bound to do. And that I feel the way around that is to be... a remote digital agency.

Mark A Preston: I mean it has to work for you at the end of the day. There's no set rule to say it has to be done one way or another, but, as an individual, you've only got a certain amount of time, and it's how do you personally want to spread that time. One thing I had to do, I tried to just help as many people as possible. And the problem is, the network was just so wide, and I had to start focusing in on things. I had to say to them, look, I'm sorry, but this is my boundaries now. It was hard because I really like to help people, but I just felt as though I was spending hours and hours helping people for little reward, I'm always want to help people, but you have to take a step back and think, look, what's my personal goal? Where do I want to get this to? Will taking this client on help me get there, and I, it's very hard. I've been in, in that sort of state many times and it's just and sometimes I do oh, I'll do this and next thing I knew. It's all over the place again. Yeah. I think that, yeah, for anyone that thinks it's easy, it's not.

Nina Payne: The other option that I could do is sell SEO leads. If I've done the conversion, but I don't know how I feel about that because I need to find someone that I trust that's got the capacity and those two are essential. I don't know how that's going to work.

Mark A Preston: Yeah, again, I've tried that, but the people I trust are all busy.

Nina Payne: Yeah, I know, they're the good ones.

Mark A Preston: It's for me, that, would a good, really good SEO be sat there twiddling their thumbs?

Nina Payne: Yeah, I know try and get in a WordPress developer. Seriously. Oh, yeah, I can do that. Yeah. Yeah I'll book you in for January. But my website's about to fall over.

Mark A Preston: But oh WOW, I mean on that side, we could go on forever. Yeah for your own What makes you take, why the SEO industry? What is it? What is it about? What's makes you passionate about it?

Nina Payne: I don't know. I don't know how to describe it. I really have a big thing for when people praise me. I've got this thing whereby people thank me and I'm on a high. So I had a phone call from a carpet cleaner in Western Supermare. Hi Andy. He phoned me and he's another 10, 12 year client of mine. Very good relationship. And he does my carpets of course, and he phoned me and he said, Nina, I'm sorry to disturb you on a Monday morning. He says, I've just got an issue with the website and I'm like, Oh fuck, what have I done now? Or what haven't I done? And he said, I've got real issue here. And I said, I just, I don't know how to handle the problem. And I said, I'll spill it out. He said, I don't know what switched your flick, but two weeks ago, I used to get one, two, three leads a week for carpet cleaning. He said, I'm now getting three a day. It says, I just want to know what you've done. So I said it's what I've not done recently. It's what I've continued to do. And the timeline is exactly Google's helpful content updates. So I'm not just talking about carpet cleaning and rug cleaning. I'm actually giving tips on how to. Do DIY at home with a red wine spill, and not just for Weston Super Mare, there's tiny villages around us, Barrow, Breen, you've got Banwell, all of these really small areas, Whirl, and then I say M5 Corridor, or we do Bristol down to Taunton, or it's Extreme Cleaning, and I said, I've been doing this forever. And going back to what I said about the aged URLs, because we've been working together for so long, I've been doing it for so long, and the old URLs are a decade old. So what I'm doing with these is bringing them up to date, whacking a bit of AI thing in there and saying that, how do I do a red wine spill?


Heavily human edited. I'd like to make that one of my favorite phrases forever. Heavily human edited. Do not control C, control V. I said to the solar panel guy if you're going to be writing your own content, I says, I don't want you to copy and paste AI. And then he went quiet and he said, Noted. So I can call what people are doing when they can't afford, when they haven't got the budget, they'll try and trick Google. And I said the, that is such a lovely thing to tell me, Andy. And it's the best problem. You could wish for but it's just because I've been repurposing old blogs and I've been bringing them up to date and I've got new YouTube videos. I send him to WhatsApp my videos and photos all the time. And I've got it on desktop. So it's easy for me to transfer large files and things like that and upload of course with links. And it's just that kind of feeling for me. And he said, I didn't want to email. I could have emailed. He said, I couldn't come and knock on your front door. He says, but I really wanted you to hear me on the phone about how delighted I am. And thank you again, my heart.

Mark A Preston: Wonderful, wonderful. There's nothing more than seeing what you've done for the years. Sprout to life, and I mean everyone I've spoke to every single person that's achieved something over a number of years said it's just consistency.

Nina Payne: Yeah, it is.

Mark A Preston: The thing is the people that, do something then stop because they think it's not working then, that's the problem. It's consistency. And again, if you're writing about the same subject over and over going into minute detail and everything, isn't that just what. We've been talking about for years, I just feel as though sometimes in the SEO industry, people start coming up. Oh, this has just happened. Are we doing that 20 years ago? Yeah. I've just, there's not, there's nothing new. You're just calling it something a bit different.

Nina Payne: You're dead right.

Mark A Preston: You know that. Oh my goodness, look at the time. Now, is there anything that you feel as though you need to bring front and centre that we haven't spoke about already?

Nina Payne: The only other argument that I started last night, because I like to start, it's not an argument, it's a debate, Nina. There was a a thing going around on Twitter about the top three ranking signals no longer include backlinks. Did you remember reading about that? Ah, yes. Yeah I didn't know, did I? That Dixon was actually there, wherever it was in America, when that, that was happening. And the guy, he said it was a joke, that he said that he knew Dixon was in the room, and he knows he works for Majestic, and obviously is off page. And he did it as a jibe to say that. So I brought it up, and then he said, oh, I was actually there, and I'm like, oh, okay, I've spoken out of turn. And he went no, you're fine. I said, but the thing is, I am an on page girl. What we've not talked about today is off page. And I said, I am with. Him with the top three ranking signals are not backlinks. Of course, you're going to get backlinks. You're going to get backlinks from video SEO. You create your own backlinks with social media. You can even get yourself on eBay in your profile is linked back to your homepage. These are all the things, the, so we've covered all of the on page, the video SEO, but what we haven't talked about is the off page thing. And that's probably for another time.

Mark A Preston: Yes, that can, yeah, I feel as though that's a week's podcast on its own. Just the amount of confusion there is around, and I think, but, do you know what, a lot of things you've mentioned I can so relate to. Yeah. Totally can. And, again, it's about honesty with people. Yeah. But the time has come. Where we have to sign off. So I want to end by asking, is there anything that the people watching this can do for you? And what sort of conversations would you like to have with them? And where can they find you?

Nina Payne: Obviously you can just Google my name, Nina Payne or the SEO lady. Please do get in touch if you are a copywriter. I'm not looking for somebody that already has exposure necessarily to SEO, but what I'm looking for is a training opportunity to bring you on board so I can give you some work. Please.

Mark A Preston: Wonderful. And yeah, what's your website address?

Nina Payne:

Mark A Preston: Okay, and on that note many thanks for joining.

Nina Payne: You're welcome. It's been awesome. Thanks a lot. Thanks.

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