GE 216: HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth & SEO Explains Why Backlinks Are the Most Effective Factor for Ranking (podcast) With Matthew Barby

Matthew Barby - HubSpot

Hey everyone! Today’s episode is with Matthew Barby, Global Head of Growth and SEO at HubSpot, which is an inbound marking and sales platform.

Tune in to hear Matthew share the various SEO strategies he has employed in and outside of HubSpot (plus his most successful campaign to date), how you can write for top publications, and the importance of knowing the fundamentals of link architecture and Google algorithms so you can solve your own SEO problems, not just employ the tactics.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth & SEO Explains Why Backlinks Are the Most Effective Factor for Ranking

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:50 – Please leave a review and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast
  • 01:51 – Matthew was heading a marketing firm in the UK before joining HubSpot at the Dublin office
  • 02:18 – He was primarily focused on user acquisition with an emphasis on free users
  • 03:02 – Rampant experimentation using different frameworks and prioritization models at HubSpot
    • 03:32 – Use of Frankenstein framework and PIE framework, similar to what is used at GrowthHackers
  • 03:55 – Primary considerations at HubSpot while zeroing in on experimentation
    • 04:01 – Ability to replicate and scale up
    • 04:05 – Resources needed to execute the experiment
    • 04:07 – Potential reward
  • 04:29 – Matthew’s most successful campaign at HubSpot
    • 04:58 – HubSpot is a huge B2B outfit publishing 250-300 blog posts every month
    • 05:25 – HubSpot had more than 3,000 lead magnets which included e-books and templates
    • 05:45 – Google was not crawling HubSpot’s marketing library properly
    • 06:28 – Redeveloping the marketing library took just one week and resulted in additional traffic of about 600,000
    • 07:10 – Investing in tools like Botify led to a proper log file analysis
  • 08:10 – Every single experiment at HubSpot is carried out with the sole purpose of driving more free users to their products
  • 10:39 – A simple and effective variation of ICE model and PIE model
    • 11:06 – The experiment should have high potential to outweigh the downsides
    • 11:48 – Assign an aggregate score and stack the scores from high to low
  • 12:41 – HubSpot is one of the few SaaS businesses driving traffic in millions
  • 13:10 – HubSpot is planning to be more laser focused with content; they want to concentrate their focus on “top of the funnel” content rather than wider-awareness content
  • 16:01 – 90% of content is generated internally within the ecosystem of the content team, this includes writers, videographers, the podcast team and designers
  • 17:32 – Reposting to Medium is a great way to drive traffic back to your website
    • 19:58 – Posting content is easy and just a matter of adding a URL
    • 20:15 – Better to re-edit a piece and position it differently while posting to Medium
    • 21:02 – It’s not advisable to repost content to LinkedIn for driving organic search traffic
  • 22:13 – How do you write for top publications?
    • 22:50 – Different ways of getting into different tiers of publications
    • 24:11 – The strength is in the relevance of the pitch and being able to prove your stance
    • 25:01 – Do not try to reinvent the wheel
  • 27:03 – Tips and tricks to get on the BuzzFeed front page
    • 27:03 – Crawling through, scraping data and analyzing the same enabled Matthew to come up with some common themes for Buzzfeed
    • 27:58 – Social posts definitely help
    • 29:54 – Able to generate 100,000 visitors to the homepage in 3 days via BuzzFeed
  • 30:32 – Matthew’s SEO campaign for BuildFire
    • 30:52 – Needed to build site authority and land some big links
    • 31:28 – Being featured in Business News Daily really helped
    • 32:10 – Matthew piggybacked on this initial success and built authority in this space
    • 32:48 – Generated a million visits in 9 months
  • 33:16 – Contributors to successful link building
    • 33:33 – Backlinks is the most effective SEO tool
    • 33:47 – Anchor text is still relevant
    • 34:32 – Stop focusing on tactics
    • 35:55 – Understand the fundamentals of link architecture and how the Google algorithm works
  • 36:35 – Content flipping is creating “top of the funnel” content and redirecting the content that is difficult to get links to
  • 38:31 – What’s one must-read book do you recommend?The Hard Thing about Hard Things and Rise of the Robots
  • 39:51 – How do you stay on the top of marketing?
    • 40:00 – Hire talented people
    • 40:34 – Meet up with industry experts to discuss ideas and strategies
  • 41:30 – Connect with Matthew on his blog, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook

3 Key Points:

  1. Experimentation should be carried out with these factors in mind: replication, scale, resources employed and potential reward.
  2. HubSpot is planning on being laser-focused on the content that is considered “top of the funnel”.
  3. Understanding the fundamentals of link building and Google algorithms will prove more successful than just employing the tactics.

Resources From This Interview:

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Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.

Full Transcript of The Episode

Show transcript
Matt: The one thing I can tell you without a shadow of doubt in my mind, the most important thing for ranking, in terms of SEO is backlinks, and that has always been the case. And for at least the next year or so, I can't see that changing.

Speaker 2: Do you want to impact the world and still turn a profit? Then you're in the right place. Welcome to Growth Everywhere. This is the show where you'll find real conversations with real entrepreneurs. They'll share everything from their biggest struggle, to the exact strategies they use on a daily basis. So if you're ready for a value-packed interview, listen on. Here's your host Eric Siu.

Eric: Before we jump into today's interview, if you guys could leave a review and a rating, and also subscribe as well, that would be a huge help to the podcast. If you actually enjoy the content and you like to hear more of it, please support by leaving us a review, and a subscribe to the podcast as well. Thanks so much.

All right everybody, today we have Matthew Barby who is the Global Head of Acquisition over at HubSpot, which is an inbound marking and sales platform. We've actually had Mark Roberge on the show before, so this is the second HubSpotter. Matt how's it going?

Matt: I'm good. I'm good thanks. Over in Boston right now. A lot of traveling recently, so nice to be in one place.

Eric: By the way for everyone, I'm not sure if the GrowthHackers, the videos are gonna be posted up, but Matt did an awesome presentation over at GrowthHacker's conference, and he speaks a ton over here. I guess we'll talk a little bit about speaking a little bit later, but yeah why don't you give us a little background on yourself? Who you are and what your story is.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I [inaudible 00:01:44] two years ago now. Prior to that I was based out of the U.K., if you haven't already noticed through my accent. I was heading up marketing over at a big agency back in the U.K., got the call from HubSpot, to come in, head up growth, and focus a bit more on growing our SEO at the time. Made the jump over to our Dublin office, and stayed there for around about a year and a half. Then made the trip over to Boston, October of last year. Been here for about nine months now, and primarily focused on user acquisition, free users in particular, primarily through to our sales products.

Outside of that, I've done a ton of work with startups within the tech space. I do some advisory level stuff, mentoring, and lecturing, and all of the usual stuff. And have had pretty broad background into some random different industries, and verticals in the past as well.

Eric: You guys run a ton of different marketing experiments over at HubSpot. I'm just wondering, what kind of process, is there like an experimentation process, and how does that carry over into all the stuff that you guys do?

Matt: We've been through so many different experimentation frameworks, prioritization marketing tactical podcasts, for sure. Guaranteed. Anyway, Matt what's the best way for people to find you online?

Matt: You can reach out to me in a number of ways. There's obviously my blog at Feel free to always ping me on LinkedIn, on Twitter, @matthewbarby, also my Facebook page as well. Any of those, feel free to reach out at any time. I'm not all the quickest to respond to email, so your best bet is via social.

Eric: Great. Matt thanks so much for doing this.

Matt: No. It's been great Eric.

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to this episode of Growth Everywhere. If you loved what you heard, be sure to head back to, for today's show notes and a ton of additional resources. But before you go, hit the subscribe button to avoid missing out on next week's value-packed interview. Enjoy the rest of your week, and remember to take action, and continue growing.