Episode #
Brian Dean on Selling to SEMrush, Evergreen SEO Strategies, Exploding Topics, and More #2065
April 14, 2022

In this special episode, we are joined by Brian Dean to share updates on Backlinko and Exploding Topics. As many of you know, Brian recently sold Backlinko to SEMrush, and in our discussion we hear about how he started the SEO blog, how he excelled in a red ocean with it, some of the most successful SEO strategies he came up with, why course creators are an attractive acquisition for software companies, and lessons he learned during the acquisition. Exploding Topics is Brian’s newer project, and we get to hear how it evolved from an early personal trend spotting project to an acquihire that he subsequently grew. Brain talks about the work he has put into Exploding Topics, shares some numbers around its current success, and also talks about how he approached acquiring the business from Josh Howarth who is now his CTO. In this conversation, we also talk to Brian about life in Lisbon, hear about all the grunt work he did to get ahead, and also get some behind-the-scenes insights into his longstanding relationship with Eric and Neil. Tune in today!


  • [00:25] Today’s topic: Brian Dean on Selling to SEMrush, Evergreen SEO Strategies, Exploding Topics, and More.
  • [01:10] An introduction to Brian Dean and the story behind Backlinko and Exploding Topics.
  • [01:58] Why Brian started Backlinko in 2013 at a time where SEO was already so competitive.
  • [04:46] What the Skyscraper Technique is and how it became so famous.
  • [06:18] Classic pieces from the Backlinko blog: the Skyscraper Technique and more.
  • [07:10] How much traffic Brian was able to generate for Backlinko per month.
  • [07:23] The method Brian used to make money from Backlinko through courses.
  • [09:16] Being acquired by SEMrush and why course creators are an attractive acquisition for software companies.
  • [11:40] Why Brian started Exploding Topics and the main mission of the business.
  • [14:24] The story of Brian acquiring what became Exploding Topics and how he went about it.
  • [16:16] Numbers around the business: ARR, blog traffic, email list, newsletter subscribers.
  • [18:00] How Brian had to ‘eat poopoo’ initially to get ahead.
  • [21:44] Brian’s thoughts on the crabs in a bucket mentality on SEO Twitter.
  • [23:24] Brian’s experiences traveling and why he ended up in Lisbon.
  • [24:50] What media Brian is consuming and why he is not focusing on self-improvement.
  • [25:40] Lessons learned from the acquisition around due diligence and relationship with the buyer.
  • [28:09] Brian’s favorite tool that isn’t exploding topics.
  • [29:00] The best way to find Brian online.
  • [29:10] That’s it for today! Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe!
  • [29:10] Go to https://marketingschool.io/live to learn more!


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


Brian Dean on LinkedIn

Brian Dean on Twitter


Exploding Topics

Josh Howarth on LinkedIn





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