The ultimate guide to SEO | Ethan Smith (Graphite)
Play • 1 hr 31 min

Ethan Smith is the CEO of Graphite, a boutique growth agency that’s helped companies like MasterClass, Thumbtack, Robinhood, Medium, and Honey develop and execute their SEO strategies. SEO is one of the least-understood levers for growth, while also one with the biggest payoff. This episode is a true master class on all things SEO. Ethan shares a wealth of information, including when you should begin investing in SEO, how to build an SEO team, and the three main buckets of SEO. He explains the difference between topics and keywords, gives the exact heuristics and tools to help you be successful in developing and implementing your own SEO strategy, and also goes deep on how to deal with roadblocks and advocate for resources.

Find the full transcript here:

Where to find Ethan Smith:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:

• Graphite:

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Coda:

• Mixpanel:



• Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy

• Topical Authority Analysis:

• SEO Link Analysis:

• SEO Links API:

• Screaming Frog:

• Brandon Lee of Power:

• Similarweb traffic analysis:

• MasterClass:

• BetterUp:

• NerdWallet:

• HubSpot:

• Ahrefs:

• Semrush:

• Google Search Console:

• Clearscope:

• Yuriy Timen on Lenny’s Podcast:

• Gokul Rajaram on Lenny’s Podcast:

• Luc Levesque on Twitter:

Search Off the Record:

• GPT-3:

In this episode, we cover:

(03:53) Ethan’s background

(07:53) Why technical audits are the biggest myth in SEO

(10:05) When to invest in SEO

(16:09) Heuristics to determine if SEO is worth it

(18:36) The three buckets of SEO: programmatic, editorial, and technical

(23:30) The process for creating an SEO strategy

(27:00) Why you shouldn’t be too formulaic 

(28:33) What is site engagement?

(29:31) Which pages need to be indexed

(31:49) Topics vs. keywords

(36:33) How to mine competitors’ sites for information

(37:41) Useful tools for developing your SEO strategy

(40:14) How long will it take to see results?

(45:16) Factors to consider when looking to hire an SEO person

(47:33) The functions of a programmatic SEO person

(49:19) How to do testing

(54:06) Editorial SEO strategy

(57:14) How to scale based on the size of the site

(59:51) Page types

(1:01:53) How to win in a topic category

(1:03:12) How to build solid hypotheses and test them 

(1:06:13) How to deal with roadblocks and advocate for resources

(1:08:54) How topical and domain authority are determined

(1:16:43) The power of internal links

(1:24:32) Why AI is not usually useful for content creation

(1:28:31) Final tips for getting started with SEO

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