Podcast With Chase Reiner

C: The infamous Chase Reiner needs no introduction to the world of digital marketing. So Chase, thank you very much for taking the time to come on. How are things with you?

Chase: Thanks for having me on. I think this is actually the first podcast I’ve ever been on with somebody. I ran one for about a year and I was constantly interviewing people but it’s actually kind of cool to be on the other end.

C: Yeah, I think it gets boring asking the questions all the time, you can’t demonstrate your personality or your knowledge to any great degree because you’re the one doing all the probing about. But yeah, it’s great to have you on and I’m sure putting you on the kind of limelight for once is also going to be good.

C: But as I said to you, the reason I wanted to get you on is you have a similar following to me where people either love you or hate you. You know I watched it from afar. We’ve never worked together and stuff like that. But obviously you’re making enough noise for you to be probably on everyone’s radar, good, bad or indifferent. And I obviously just want to talk to you about that because we’re all here to make money and do the best we can at marketing and that’s something clearly you have in abundance. But what goes along with that is a whole bunch of abuse. I know you’ve just recently launched a video saying you’re out of the SEO game. So, are you getting out of SEO for real?

Is Chase Reiner quitting SEO?

Chase: Yeah, I think it really depends on what you define SEO as. So when I first started doing this stuff probably about 2016, it was pretty easy to optimize the keyword density or something on a page and then see that sort of change in the rankings. These days, it doesn’t seem like that anymore. It seems more like the big things that you need to have are sort of a lot of trust, authority, engagement and audience, that kind of thing, in order to really grow wherever you want to be on, whether it’s on Google or YouTube. Obviously for me, I have a way bigger following on YouTube than I do anywhere else. But the whole reason for that is because, I found out that there was so much competition on one search engine like Google, so I’ve spent my time working on something with less saturation.

Chase: Now in terms of being out of the SEO industry, I think SEO is sort of this ever-evolving kind of buzzword in a way, because SEO can be defined as so many different things. Ideally, if you’re doing search engine optimization, you’re optimizing for a search engine, right? It doesn’t just have to be Google, but I think people automatically assume that it’s Google because that’s where most of the SEO happens. So, in terms of me being out of the SEO game, I think I was referring to, I’m out of the communities of SEO people because as we’ve been sort of bringing up, it seems like these communities happen to be a little bit more toxic than if you were to just be in a more marketing type of environment. I mean any community, if you get the growth, you’re going to have a certain level of hate. But I’ve found that within the SEO community, it’s almost like a hundred times what you would probably expect anywhere else.

C: Yeah, I’ve had a fair few bits of toxic stuff myself. As I said to you, someone had actually threatened to cut my newborn baby’s throat because they didn’t like what I was saying or don’t like me for whatever reason. And it’s weird you can sit on a YouTube channel or whatever it is you do and that there’s that level of hate out there for you. What is the kind of level of hate against you? What sort of things are happening? Is it just mild abuse or, does it get worse than that?

Chase: Well, for me it’s interesting because I think a while ago, I wound up almost completely deleting my YouTube channel and my Facebook group. And I actually did end up deleting a bunch of videos off my YouTube channel because I was so fed up with all the hate I was getting, with probably 10 to 20 people messaging me and commenting everyday telling me that I needed to stop doing what I was doing. And so I wound up actually losing a lot of rankings and traffic on my YouTube channel, which took me a while to get back because I just kind of lost it. And there’s been a couple times that that’s happened.

Thoughts on the SEO community

Chase: For the most part, the only things that I’m really doing is, I’m just spending my time trying to figure out how to increase my marketing, increase the things that are going to bring people into opting into whatever I’m giving away. I think there’s a huge correlation between how much hate you get and how successful you are. And I think the SEO industry, and I try not to talk too bad about it, but I think the SEO industry is sort of, “Who’s number one” in a sense, right? So everybody’s constantly comparing themselves. And I think when you are number one in people’s minds, it’s almost like beating them on Google. In my opinion, people get really insecure about it.

C: Yeah. And it is, it’s crazy. It’s crazy the responses but has the level of abuse ever been on a physical basis? Have you ever been attacked or threatened to be killed or any of that kind of stuff? Does it go as far as that?

Chase: I don’t know. I don’t think I usually let it get that far. I probably ban 5 to 10 people out of my Facebook group a day because we get 50 to 100 people entering in a day. And this one woman the other day was like, “Hey, I saw that you took a screenshot of your Stripe account and you know, whatever money you made wasn’t true because you photoshopped it”. So then I was like, “Okay”. And I sent her back a video of my screen record on my phone opening up the app, okay, here it is. And she just lost it. She was going into like how, you know, I edited the video and all this stuff.

Chase: So, once people start losing it, I’m like “Okay, you know what? You’re done. I’m just banning you from everything. I’m blocking you. I’m not talking to you anymore because I’m not going to deal with insane people”. I think people show you warning signs when they’re insane and you just have to get rid of them.

C: People have accused you of a number of different things. I’m aware of in the past, such as Photoshopping out links from a screenshot, I’ve seen one today, “He’s a scammer”. What is the truth behind all of that? Did you ever actually Photoshop links out and claim that links don’t work or was it a bit of kid-ology there on your part, just to stir up a crowd? What’s going on?

SEO Controverses

Chase: Okay, so this is a funny story and the way this happened is, I was coming up with a new marketing angle, like I always do. For instance, I love to say things like “SEO is dead” or “Don’t do keyword research” or “Don’t buy SEO tools” because why? Because I take whatever the industry averages in any sort of niche that I’m working on and I try to reverse it because then it gets engagement, gets opt-ins. And so what happened is I was trying to create a catchy thumbnail, which was like, links don’t work, don’t use them. Right? And I was in the airport at this time, I was drinking. I was like, “Okay, let me just do like a catchy thumbnail”. And what happened is I was trying to avoid the discussion of, “Oh, but there’s links in the picture”. Because what happened was, I created a skyscraper campaign after reading Brian Dean’s blog back in 2017 and I was able to rank for beginner fishing tips on a website without doing any link building. That’s basically how it happened.

Chase: But I was trying to avoid the whole, ‘there’s links on this page’ discussion because I just didn’t want to do it. I was like, “I don’t want to have to do this argument”. And so on part of the thumbnails I took the links out because I didn’t want to have an argument about them. Now was I trying to trick the whole industry in saying that links don’t necessarily rank pages? I don’t think I was trying to do that. What I was trying to do is I was trying to just say, “Hey look, this was an example of a page that I ranked without links. I don’t want to have this discussion with you guys because you’re not going to get it”.

Chase: And then of course it backfired on me and I wasn’t honestly really thinking about it because I was again drinking in the airport and I was just like, “Why not just make a catchy thumbnail?” And then this whole thing blew up about how Chase Reiner is lying and everything that he does is fake and you know, he is secretly building links behind the scenes and a lot of other things.

C: That’s certainly one I’ve heard. Sometimes you do things for a joke as well, and sometimes it’s misinterpreted or you do it to raise a reaction from people and you get hammered for it online – which I think is one of the reasons I wanted to get you on here. It was obviously to get your side of the story as well, because it’s all good and well than we are. People are seeing things about you online, but you never really get the opportunity to defend yourself or explain the reasons behind it. But there’s always two sides to every story. So it was good to hear that. And so, what is your goal going forward then? You’ve obviously created a massive following and you feel that the SEO community is toxic to a certain degree and so is the job to remain slightly off radar or what do you see yourself going to do in the future?

Getting clients in the SEO industry while off-radar

Chase: Yeah, so I think there’s still a lot of things that you can end up doing in the SEO industry and make a lot of money off of. I think you can still totally get a bunch of clients and sell SEO tools, whatever you want to do. I don’t think that market’s really going anywhere anytime soon. But for me, I kind of identified that a lot of people who do SEO don’t really enjoy doing SEO. And what they would prefer is kind of doing more like lead gen, sort of growth hack type stuff where they can take some easy tip and then lead that into, “Oh, I’ve got a hundred opt-ins today” or something, which you don’t normally get with SEO. SEO is like, okay, well let’s go change the code on a website or let’s go build links to this page. And then hopefully in a couple months or however long we’re going to end up getting rankings and then we’ll get opt-ins and then the rest of the process.

Chase: I found that most people are more interested in just more growth hack type things. So for me, I don’t know, I kind of got bored of the SEO industry. I was spending so much time trying to be the best on-page SEO and let’s figure out how to learn the entire schema markup library and that kind of thing. And I just got so done with it. And so now what I do is I kind of just take whatever user-generated signals I can. I bring people into some sort of opt in, like a chat bot or something. And then I try to take those users and I bring them to some sort of page that I’m trying to rank.

Chase: For instance, if I wanted to rank a YouTube video or if I wanted to rank something on Facebook really high in terms of suggestion based content or even on Google, what I’m going to do is I’m going to take this audience that I’ve been warming up and I’m going to trade them some sort of asset for engagement. For instance, like I was saying like on my last video, I said how to rank easily on Google without SEO links. This video got 3,500 views and I think 70 comments within the first couple of days, which is like three times what I normally get in terms of views and it’s like 10 times what I normally get in terms of engagement.

Chase: And the reason why it did so well is because I told the people who watched the video, if you sort of send me a message and opt in into my bot, I will trade you for this thing. As long as you leave a comment once you get there. It’s kind of a weird funnel process that I create, but I’ve been calling it authority hacking, I’m trying to think of a different name, but it’s a lot more fun to me and I think it’s more fun to other people as well. And you can still end up ranking things in a way.

C: And even when someone was talking about you today, it was on a Facebook post and right beneath that post was a sponsored ad. So, you know it’s one of those things, it’s certainly something that no one can take away from you, as you obviously know what you’re doing in terms of creating audiences and everything else. So go back to 2016 or whenever you started. Would you do the same thing again, do you enjoy being in the public eye and being that YouTube guy or that guy everyone either loves or hates or would you go off radar and do something different?

Chase: This is actually an answer I’d like to hear from you too, but I think if I were to go back in time, I first of all would have told myself, “Hey look man, all these people who are interacting with you constantly, most of them have nothing to do with anything that you’re doing. And no matter how much time you spend doing something, there’s always going to be people that agree or disagree with you”. What ends up happening is that as you get more people viewing you, you just end up getting more people on both sides. And I honestly believe that when you have people half hate you and half love you is when you’re in the sweet spot. So, for instance, my last video, 29 dislike 71 likes, right? And when you’re only getting likes or you’re only getting dislikes, you’re obviously doing something wrong in a way because you’re not saying anything new.

Creating controversy in the marketing world

Chase: When you have something where you’re getting people who are either hating the heck out of you or loving you. Like let’s take Tai Lopez for instance. There are so many people who hate Tai Lopez. But then there’s also these other people that are obsessed with Tai Lopez. And that’s because it’s marketing. That’s what really good marketing does — it creates controversy. And I think if I would’ve gone back in time, I would have told myself that. And when you’re a good marketer, you want to take your feelings out of it and look at everything objectively in a sense where you want to think about, “How can I create as much controversy as possible?” And really the only thing I care about in the end is — am I getting people opting in and am I making money at the end of the day? Because, I make probably like four to five K a day now off my funnels, which I wasn’t making anything close to before when I was doing SEO stuff and I was miserable. I was making money but I was miserable while I was doing it.

C: So would you say, hand on heart, some of the stuff that you do now is just to generate controversy or just get to get a bit of a reaction from the crowds, just some of the kind of titles of your videos and stuff like that. Would you see that as a deliberate ploy just to stir up the crowds?

Chase: I’m super invested in one part. A lot of the things that I put out there are things that I spend a lot of time working on and trying to think of. But for the most part, yeah, I mean if I’m doing a video or if I’m doing a post and I’m not getting any engagement, I’m not getting any opt-ins. What’s the point in me doing it? I’ve found that there’s a direct correlation between taking what people normally think about something, reversing it, and then putting it out there because it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If, let’s say, the new iPhone 11 came out, the first thing people are going to think about is, “Well, you know, how do I set this up?” They’re thinking about their new iPhone 11 that they’re going to have. Now if you reverse that, what everybody wouldn’t be thinking is, “How do I break my iPhone 11?” Now if you put that in front of people, people will watch it and people will engage because it’s weird.

C: That makes a lot of sense. Plus, it’s a lot more fun. Who wants to keep regurgitating the same old crap about any kind of subject, whether it’s the iPhone or not. I talk a lot at conferences and I have this reputation of being the guy that speaks while being dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and that has tattoos, swears a lot, and does black-hat stuff. But that wasn’t my initial plan – I never thought “I’m going to go and dress like this”. I’m being myself. But I think you have to stand out from the crowd.

C: I chose to do the black hat stuff because it’s more fun. It’s more engaging. I don’t particularly want to talk about site audits or anything like that. And I think creating a bit a controversy and saying stuff that, you know, even when I do black hat talks, sometimes I see things that I have heard another person do, not necessarily myself something wild and outrageous, and it’s just to create hysteria among the other people.

C: if I heard of a good black hat trick that someone once did, I’ll pass it off as my own then just to get the crowd and the audience wanting to get more views and everything else. So I totally get it, it’s a lot more fun that way as well. People have to read between the lines, though. I think you’re probably one of those guys that are slightly misunderstood on as well, where people actually take everything so serious, out of what you’re saying and going, “He must be insane to say that links don’t work” or whatever. As you said, you’re the best SEO in the world, which I think are the best SEO in Santa Barbara or whatever it was and obviously, a lot of the SEO community went, “He’s not, I am”.

C: And it’s that whole ego thing. This gets to people and it makes them talk about you. So it’s obviously very, very clever. But for me to answer what I asked you, “Would I change how I would approach things?” I probably wouldn’t. I think I’ve enjoyed the kind of bumpy rides, but I’ve met a lot of good people through being in the limelight because then people come to my events and talk to me and it saves me being, again the guy in the corner that doesn’t know anyone. So, I think it’s got a lot of positives, but also negatives — like dealing with haters. I’ve physically been attacked as well in iConferences, believe it or not, which is why I was asking you the question. Do you attend a lot of conferences or would you ever attend conferences or would that be too much trouble?

Attending conferences while being a controversial SEO

Chase: I think the only time I’ve actually really attended conferences was when I was sort of brand new and nobody really knew about me, but I don’t know how it would go now honestly. I would be a little bit worried.  It’s funny, I was thinking about that before we even talked today. I was walking to get some ice tea and I was like, “I wonder what would happen if I went to a conference these days.”

C: I’m not sure what would happen certainly from the kind of feeling I get, I think some people would love it and I think some people would probably put a beat over your head or something. But it’s one of those things you’ve just got to settle for what you’ve got, but obviously what you’re doing is clearly making you good money and no one can dispute that. And I know you’ve got people saying, “You don’t earn this or you don’t earn that”. You wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing if it wasn’t paying enough for you and I think a lot of people don’t understand that. I bought a website, actually an Amazon affiliate website for ten grand, which is a quite a cheap website in the grand scheme of things and had the guy at a conference come up to me saying, “There’s no way you’d be spend 10 grand on an Amazon website”.

C: And I said, “It makes $1,000 a month. Like why wouldn’t I pay 10 grand for it?” And he’s like, that’s impossible. There’s no one out there spending that amount of money. Some people think that these figures are unachievable or you can’t earn that money or whatever. But if you’re doing marketing and everything else properly, you can make a hell of a lot of money as well. And people will call you a liar regardless of whether you show them your bank balance or not.

C: When you’re making good money these people seem to come out of the woodwork and I’m not sure if you can direct that to jealousy, if you like. But it is what it is and we’re never going to change the world, but it’s sad. It’s a sad state of affairs that people think they can just do that kind of trolling online. Do you ever think of that a lot, or you can forget about your Twitter and your Facebook?

Chase: I used to a lot and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I looked at these people as kind of really prominent, I guess, in my life. All these people that would talk to me or send me messages or comment, I would really kind of take a lot of the things that they would say personally. And it’s funny, I went to this mastermind one time, it was, I think, about a year ago. It was one of Alex Becker’s masterminds. We were at the bar and I’m not kidding, he legit reached out and gave me a slap because I was so upset about how everybody was always making fun of me or how I constantly had hate.

Chase: And I don’t know what happened, but from that point on I kind of just stopped caring. And now when I see people commenting and I see all this hate, I look at it like I look at money, I look at it as opt-ins, I look at it as free marketing.

C: Yeah. I think it’s an acquired skill almost to kind of disassociate yourself from not really deep down feeling anything. Even though back in the day I would say, “Well I don’t care”. I still cared. And these days I 100% do not care. Every time I see like a post blow up about how awful I am, I look at it and I’m like happy about it. And I interact with them. Like I’ll troll them and I’ll be like, “Oh, so, why do you think this?”

C: It’s a great way to look at it. I think I’m in a similar boat to yourself where I used to take a lot of it personally. But I’ve seen it happen to so many other digital marketing guys. I mean obviously Alex Becker and Neil Patel and other guys severely take a beating online and I think you’re right. Any degree of success – you’re going to get it regardless of who you are or what you look like or whatever. But I think regardless, at the beginning you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t take it personally. I think it’s just… would you agree that it’s just over a period of time you’re just, “I’m not giving a fuck anymore”? This is a drain outlet. I think certain people out there can take it, it would scare people off of continuing to do the job and making money. So I think it’s a great achievement that you’re able to look at it and see it as an opt-in. Did you get help for that or advice or training or is that something that just came naturally?

Dealing with haters

Chase: I think after a certain amount of time of me just getting beat up and beating myself up, it comes naturally. And you see this with a lot with people who are going on camera — their first time as they go on camera, they’re super nervous. They won’t look at the camera. People are talking, there’s five people in chat and they’re all nervous about them being there. And then, as you get more and more sort of hardened, you kind of just don’t really care what people see about you anymore. People are going to perceive you however they perceive you. You take all these people who are supposedly professional experts, whatever you want to call them, guru people. I don’t, I don’t know, they don’t like to call themselves gurus, but they act like they know everything.

Chase: And these people will not go in front of a camera, they will not, you can’t get them on a podcast. You can’t get them on a YouTube video. They just won’t do it. And then you get on the flip side, the people who are experts and they get on camera and nobody wants to listen to them. They’re getting zero views. I mean look at people like Bill Slawski, he has been doing a YouTube show, a podcast thing for, I don’t even know, forever. And how many views does that guy get? He gets, I think maybe like a hundred views if he’s lucky on a video. And that guy knows way more than I do about SEO than I would ever know. But I get way more interactions than he does. I get way more optics, that kind of thing.

Chase: I think it’s that what all just comes down to, just because you know, SEO doesn’t mean you understand marketing. And I think what happens is a lot of these people are supposedly experts or maybe they know a lot about SEO, but they just don’t know how to market themselves or they’re too scared to learn how to do marketing. And that’s the skill. That’s really what people buy. I mean, you could like take Tai Lopez, I don’t want to talk bad things about Tai Lopez, but he doesn’t necessarily have a lot that he sticks to in a way. He kind of just goes with what’s trending and then he sells other people’s stuff because he doesn’t want to sell his own stuff. He does marketing well and he gets people in and then he sells other people’s stuff.

Chase: And that’s not bad. But the whole idea is, look, if you’re in the industry, in the SEO industry and you’re thinking, “Hey, I hate this Craig guy, I hate Chase”. You’ve got to have a certain level of respect for what we’ve been able to do, even if you hate us. And I think that’s why you look at people like Alex Becker and Tai Lopez. And if you’re smart, you respect them. If you’re not smart, then you kind of just hate them and you don’t really see any positive in it.

C: I totally agree. I agree with the Bill Slawski situation as well; Bill is a lovely guy and a fountain of knowledge and he’s not getting the same engagement as yourself because he’s obviously not doing the drama side of things or the crazy stuff. Because he is a lot more reserved than that. But, who wins at the end of the day, the guy with a hundred views or the guy with thousands of views? And that is going to be up for debate.

Chase: But it also depends on what you want because Bill likes that lifestyle. And for me, I know personally based on AB tests that if I start talking about what Bill talks about, like Google patents and the next most sophisticated thing about SEO, the problem with that is people in general that are watching your stuff they don’t care like the average person, the reason why they’re on YouTube, or the reason why they’re on Facebook and the reason why they’re doing anything is because they want to make money. They don’t care about, you know, the next Google patent unless it says something groundbreaking to do with them making a bunch of money. Once you get that mindset and you realize that if you can’t tie what you’re doing back into some sort of a solution to making money, then people are not going to care.

Chase: Unfortunately people like Brian Dean and Neil Patel and whoever else, the people that are doing really well, you have to target more general things that makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re targeting the people who are really going to be watching your stuff. When you get a hundred views from people who are all SEO experts, that’s terrible because all of those people are just going to be highly critiquing everything you’re doing and you’re never going to be good enough. And no matter what you say, they’re going to know more than you. So why not go for the audience that loves you and you’re saying basic stuff, but you’re actually helping a lot more people and you have more control.

Chase: Once you start building up enough authority and enough, you know, engagement, that kind of thing, then you could become more of the expert and go into something more like a Bill Slawski type thing. But I think it’s a bad idea to start out as the expert. You want to start out as like the person who creates a bunch of controversy and authority and then you build that into a more respectful following.

C: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And finally, one last question I want to ask you and then I’ll let you go and carry on with your day, is give me the top three worst insults you’ve had online. Or the funniest.

Top 3 insults Chase Reiner has received online

Chase: I think the funniest is the time that I did the one ‘Links don’t work anymore’. I think at one point or the other, there was a meme contest where people were like, who can make the most fun of Chase? And there was just hundreds of memes in Facebook groups of me. For some reason, that was just so funny to me because it’s like these people have so much time that they can make all these and some of them were really, really funny too. I think that would be the number one.

Chase: Number two would probably be the fallout with Josh Brushynsky where he and I were doing a podcast together and I don’t know what happened, but I kind of came off, I stopped the chat, I stopped going on there and then he just started saying all this stuff about me and then I was like, “Okay, well”, then I almost deleted my entire YouTube channel. And then I think the third would probably be right now, which is all the controversy I’m getting about leaving SEO and switching over to this authority hacking stuff.

C: Yeah. Interesting. Thank you very much for coming on, Chase, and explaining a little bit about what you’ve done in the controversies and everything else. Hopefully it gives people a bit more of an understanding about you personally. I think it’s helped me massively understand what you’re doing a lot better. So thank you very much for taking the time. It’s been a pleasure.

Chase: Yeah. Thanks for having me on, man.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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