The internet has been an incredible tool for opening up the world in so many ways, and blockchain technology takes this to a whole other level. When it comes to marketing, some of the most innovative and nimble companies out there are in the blockchain sector. And Everipedia is no exception, serving as a great example of this kind of forward-thinking. My guest today is Daniel Liebeskind, Chief Product Officer at Everipedia. Daniel is an experienced software engineer with a background in investment banking and venture capital.
Everipedia, which happens to be a client of mine, is the encyclopedia of everything. It competes with Wikipedia, but with a number of key distinctions, not least of which is that it’s built on the blockchain, which means there is a trusted, immutable record of everything stored in the encyclopedia. This company is on the cutting edge not just in terms of its technology but also in terms of its marketing. And that’s been accelerated by our work together, especially in the area of SEO. And you’re about to hear all about it! So let’s get this party started!
In this Episode
- [00:29] – Stephan introduces Daniel Liebeskind, Chief Product Officer at Everipedia.
- [02:07] – Daniel shares what Everipedia is all about and how its organization works.
- [09:27] – How do smart contracts work in a blockchain?
- [24:53] – Daniel on Everipedia’s IQ token enables users to make some money on content creation.
- [30:10] – Expert tips for marketers on how to prepare for a future-proof business.
- [39:26] – The main reason why Everipedia needs an SEO expert for their website.
- [43:37] – How the Everipedia team decided on working with Stephan.
- [45:15] – Game-changing SEO and content structure that drove 10% more traffic to Everipedia’s site in just one month.
- [53:43] – More reasons on how SEO helps improve Everipedia’s online presence.
- [01:00:41] – Follow Daniel Liebeskind on his social media accounts and check out their website, everipedia.org.
Daniel, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Great to be here, Stephan. Thanks for having me.
I do have to disclose to our listeners here that Everipedia is a client, so we’re going to talk a bit about the progress that you guys have made. It’s been pretty marked in terms of SEO over the last few months.
Before we dive into that, I would love to give our listeners an understanding of what the heck Everipedia is and how this little company that is growing and growing can actually compete against its archnemesis isn’t the right word, but arch competitor, Wikipedia. Can you give us a quick rundown on Everipedia?
Absolutely. I’m so happy to do that. I would characterize Wikipedia as not the archnemesis but the founder of this notion of a wiki of information that exists on the Internet. The wiki in Wikipedia form has been around for 20-something years. It has been incredibly transformative and a very useful tool for distributing knowledge throughout the world, but it has been very similar. It’s been the same platform, the same structure, same type of content, same type of knowledge for the last 20 years.
What we’re trying to do with Everipedia is to be more of a knowledge layer that powers humanity’s understanding of the world around them. We aim to be the encyclopedia of absolutely everything rather than just notable things. Rather than being very selective about what knowledge is allowed to be accessed via our platform. Instead, we are using a system, we’ve designed this around the blockchain which we’ll talk about.
Partly to empower the world to collaboratively edit and then curate knowledge in a decentralized way. We have a few editors that are making the decisions around what type of knowledge and the quality of knowledge is added, which can be very limiting. When you have a centralized funnel of information coming in, it takes man-hours to actually curate all of that knowledge.
By using the blockchain, we’ve been able to decentralize all that curation, all that editing, and add knowledge from the unknown little city in Nigeria. One of our top editors happens to be a Nigerian and actually we have a whole contingent of Nigerians now, adding knowledge to Everipedia that has never before really been accessible or available online at all.
High-level that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re also trying to transform the notion of what a wiki is. Right now, we’re in a very similar structure to what Wikipedia is but we are gradually shifting away from just being long-form text to having more embedded rich content. Things like Instagram, Twitter, other social media elements being able to be pulled into your knowledge based on a particular topic. Also audio files, embedded videos, virtual reality content. This guy’s limited on what kind of knowledge or a particular topic you’ll be able to add to a particular wiki topic.Everipedia aims to be the encyclopedia of absolutely everything rather than just presenting selective knowledge written by notable authors. Click To Tweet
That sounds very visionary. It’s funny that it reminds me where we met, which was Abundance 360, a very forward-thinking and forward-looking event, where futurists, technologists, investors and so forth, all get together and learn about what’s coming, in terms of AR, VR, 3D printing, nanotechnology. Pretty much everything under the sun that is going to be transformative that you might see in the Startrek episode and it’s coming faster than we think. That’s what we’re learning about at Abundance 360 and that’s where we met.
I’m curious, what are you guys seeing as the future of the Internet, wiki editing, knowledge transfer, and knowledge sharing in the next 5 or 10 years?
That’s a great question. First of all, Abundance 360, I’m a huge fan of futurist thinking and of making sure that you stay a step ahead of this incredible exponential change that is coming. I think that making sure to not just get stuck in your current situation but actually look to the future is very important.
Frankly, that is one of the things that we’re trying to do with Everipedia. I say this is where the world is today but five years from now it’s going to exponentially change. How can we get ahead of that? How can we actually not just get ahead of it for ourselves but help make sure that it happens and that it happens in the best way possible?
I think it’s important for all of us, in any industry but especially in the tech base where things are moving so quickly, to really drive this change forward and try to drive it forward in a really positive way. There’s a lot of opportunities here.
I think one of the ways that we think about knowledge is knowledge historically has been held centralized. The quote that history is written by the victors. All of these notions of history being something that is controlled and that is taught via a victor that has a lot of elements in centralization is the way things are now and certainly the way they have been in the past.
I think Wikipedia is an example of the first medium, one of the first mediums where that was changing. Instead of an encyclopedia created by one company, now you have an online encyclopedia where anybody can edit but still being curated by a select few master editors. What we’re aiming to do is to have an encyclopedia of everybody, of everything, and curated by the entire world.
We have one front-end that we’ve built, everipedia.org, that sits on top of our public API knowledge layer that’s built on a blockchain. It’s all publicly auditable, immutable history. One of the beautiful things with the blockchain is that you’re basing on this huge open database that anybody can build. Front-ends, mobile apps, anything, pull information and push information.
We actually have an example of a mobile app right now, I don’t know how much I can quite talk about it yet, but we have a partnership with somebody. We say partnership because we are helping them integrate into our smart contracts, actually pull information and push information in. They’re going to have a totally standalone mobile app that already exists and they’re going to use Everipedia content to actually populate the knowledge element of their application. They’re focused on a very niche audience. They’re going to enable that niche audience to also be curating content that’s related to that mobile app.
What we’re beginning to see and what I think is going to happen more and more in the future is you’re going to have these huge public databases, probably on blockchains, with immutable histories, where anybody can build front-ends or any kind of application, that all collaboratively integrate into this public API layer. We’ll start to see that, it’s very exciting. It changes the fundamental nature of what knowledge is because it’s no longer a finite and controlled substance. It’s a public utility that everybody can rely on and that everybody can help curate. I think that’s what we’re going to see happening very shortly here at knowledge.
Some of the founders or early pioneers in the area of open source and free software, the whole movement of open source say that information wants to be free. That aligns quite well with what you’re describing, that we got to decentralize this information, make it more shareable, easier to spread and interoperable, and of course, immutable so it can’t be changed and manipulated.
I think we need to explain a little bit more to our listeners, who are not necessarily super familiar with how the whole crypto and blockchain world works. You mentioned smart contracts. I think we need to explain to our listeners, what is a smart contract? How is it relevant and important to the marketer?
That’s a great question. The easiest way to think about a smart contract is a public database that is auditable. Anybody can actually look at this public blockchain; it has the smart contracts on there. Smart contracts are algorithmic systems that are created by developers that enable applications to interact with a database in an algorithmic way where all the rules are pre-determined. You can actually look at the smart contract, you can determine how exactly it’s going to work, you can see all of the function calls, and what they’re going to do. It’s not controlled by one organization. It’s not a black box of information
A lot of companies have APIs. For example, Facebook has an API. Developers can build on top of Facebook, they can access this API layer which is a bunch of functions that you can call within your application that do different things. With APIs that are private like Facebook and most APIs that exist, those algorithms, and what actually happens when you call a function are private. You don’t really know, you can’t actually see the code. Facebook has a bunch of docs that they tell you what these things do. For the most part, they’re not really public. They’re private APIs that they’re giving you access to. You have to often sign up for them, they give you a code.
With a smart contract on a public blockchain, it’s totally different. It’s the same general concept but all of the function calls exactly what happens when those are called, all of that is public and very auditable. In some cases, the public can actually help to create those smart contracts or slowly change them. It’s a much more public way of doing things, it’s much more transparent, and it really facilitates this notion. Instead of Facebook owning their database and giving you access, with the smart contract and public blockchain, it’s like the entire world owns the database. You can access that and make changes to the database and access information via the smart contracts which are programmatic function calls that everybody can see.
I mean it’s getting a little specific but that will help facilitate in the case of knowledge and in other things as well, the notion of the entire world can be receiving information but also contributing to these massive blockchain projects.
Got it. An analogy that just immediately comes to mind, I’ve never thought of this analogy before. If you’re to compare let’s say one of those Tyson chicken plants where they’re raising the chickens and nobody’s allowed in. The big egg has these egg laws that protect them from journalists exposing all the nasty stuff that’s happening. It’s all a big black box. You can’t see anything other than the output that’s coming to your grocery store, nicely wrapped, it looks so nice. Who knows what’s happening behind the scenes? That’s the traditional world APIs and so forth. Give you access to the output but everything inside is pretty much a black box.
The opposite of that would be like a smart contract or in my analogy, an Apple store with glass walls where you can see inside of the building. You know what you’re going to get when you walk in, you’re going to walk out with your new iPhone or whatever but you also can see everything that’s happening inside. You can see the people hanging out at the genius bar, whether there’s a big line or a small line, it’s all very open, exposed, and transparent.
Even to take it a step further, in this case in the Apple store, there would essentially be rules that are in place for whenever you go in and you stand at the genius bar, how exactly is that interaction going to take place. You would know before you even go in there exactly what’s going to happen based on the actions that you’re going to take. It’s not just transparent, it’s also programmatic and systematic. Pretty much you have a guarantee that every time you do one thing, you’re going to get a specific result back. Which is not always the case with APIs or with programming in general.
You know in advance, for example, that when you walk into that Apple store, if you walk in before let’s say seven thirty in the evening, you’re guaranteed to get seen that same day, where it’s if seven thirty-one in the evening, the rules say that it’s as we can fit you in or we might be turning you away because we’re going to leave at the closing time whether you’re done or not.
Yeah. This is getting maybe a little beyond what we need to talk about, but one of the problems with this system, first of all, there’s a lot of different types of blockchains. There’s a lot of different blockchain networks, they all function slightly differently. They have generally the same underlying functionality. But one of the issues that we’ve seen in the past with smart contracts is that sometimes with smart contracts on certain networks, you create these systems, you create these rules and then if you mess it up a little bit, you basically can’t change the smart contract, you lock it in.
The requirement to really think through all of the possible implications and then master the smart contract, and then deploy it, is really important. If you get it wrong it actually can cost a lot of economic value. There’s a very famous hack that happened on the Ethereum blockchain called the DAO hack. Basically, the code is locked. Because this thing was designed with a slight flaw, somebody was able to expose that, and steal a bunch of money. You essentially can’t undo that.
In the case of Ethereum, what happened is they forked the network in two things. Became Ethereum Classic which held on the code is locked, smart contracts are immutable, you can’t change them. Then Ethereum what we know of as Ethereum now decided that code is not locked, you actually can change the smart contract, we’re going to undo those transactions on the network and so that’s what Ethereum is.
In other blockchains, we’re on the EOS network, it’s much easier to upgrade smart contracts. We can change them, we can fix any vulnerabilities, we can improve our systems over time. A lot of what we’re doing is continually improving but each blockchain is different that way.
Your blockchain is EOS, what does that stand for?
That’s a good question. I think that’s something that nobody besides the creators hasn’t really known. There’s even a debate, people call it different things. From a marketing standpoint, a little bit of a lack of clarity on that.
Oh, funny. Why did you guys choose EOS instead of Ethereum?
The progression of blockchains really started with Bitcoin. It all started with Bitcoin essentially in 2009. Bitcoin is really a store value. Relatively, it’s incredibly slow to process transactions. Transactions only process every 10 minutes. The transaction costs are very high so you can’t really build an application on top of that.
First of all, there’s something called Turing completeness which means that you can build sophisticated programs on top of something. Bitcoin itself as a network is not Turing Complete, so you really need a layer on top of it in order to build applications in the first place.
Next came Ethereum which many people heard of. That’s the first smart contract blockchain, it was created by Vitalik Buterin. It is Turing Complete. It’s much faster and cheaper to do transactions than Bitcoin was. It’s really built-in and architected to be for smart contracts and for applications. It led to the initial coin offering craze, the ICO craze of 2017 where companies were raising $300 million in initial coin offering before they even had a project. It’s a craze that happened that’s what led to the bubble which brought Bitcoin up to $19,000 a coin.Things move so quickly in the tech industry, and we have to drive changes forward and try to do it positively. Click To Tweet
Ethereum was successful but it has a lot of problems with it around scalability. It’s much faster than Bitcoin in terms of transactions. It’s much cheaper but it’s still not cheap and fast enough to build something like a Twitter or a chat application. It’s useful, it’s being used mostly now as distributed finance. Being able to do algorithmic smart contracts around financial instruments where there’s a decent amount of money at stake, you don’t need your transactions to happen in one second or milliseconds and you’re willing to stomach a little bit of a transaction cost. That’s the state of Ethereum.
They’re actually transforming a lot, they’re really revamping their entire blockchain. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the project. In support of what they’re doing, what happened after Ethereum and really, while Ethereum was developing, people were already working on version 3. Version 3 was not just one smart contract blockchain, it was many of them. A lot of the ICO—Initial Coin Offerings—were actually version 3 or version 4 blockchains. EOS was one of them. EOS actually raised $3 or $4 billion. It was pretty much the most successful Initial Coin Offering that happened. It was done on the Ethereum blockchain. They actually did their ICO on the Ethereum blockchain.
Once the ICO was done, then you convert your EOS tokens for actual EOS Mainnet tokens. A lot of these are probably jargon people don’t know I’m talking about. The promise of version 3 and version 4 is much cheaper transactions. In the case of EOS, there have been some recent upgrades. The state right now is that a user doesn’t have to pay at all for any transactions.
Most apps like Everipedia have actually adopted a model where we are just paying for the network costs. From the user’s perspective, it’s basic and free to use. Transactions happen in 100 milliseconds. Somewhere around there, give and take a couple of 100 milliseconds. It’s very fast. You can build things like Twitter on EOS and transactions for users are basically free. There are downsides. I would say, the way that EOS achieves this is by having a fixed number of nodes that actually process the transactions.
Bitcoin transactions are processed every 10 minutes. Basically, the whole world is competing to solve an algorithm problem that makes them the winner. A mathematical problem that makes them the winner where they get to win by creating a block of transactions. All the transactions, essentially, that have happened in the last 10 minutes get packed into one block. It literally just takes 10 minutes for a transaction to be processed because they’re waiting for the next block to happen. It may happen less than that because if you’re on minute 7 of the 10 minutes, you may get added to the next block depending on how much you bid in a transaction fee. That should be included.
Again, I apologize for going deep into this stuff. With EOS, it’s happening, I forgot the exact time, but it’s in a millisecond range. Transactions are being processed because it’s not the entire world that’s competing. There are 32 or 31, something like that, blocks. Maybe it’s even 21 block producers that are actually adding transactions to the blockchain. What that means is that it’s more centralized. If a government, for example, wanted to attack the EOS blockchain in its current form today, it would be easier to do that. All they have to do is attack 21 block producers and shut them down.
In Bitcoin, they have to ramble the entire world of nodes. There are 100,000 nodes out there. It’s really hard to take that down. The reality would be EOS, the protection there is that there are backup block producers. There’s another 100 or so that are waiting in the rings. If somebody gets shut down, another just steps up. There is protection but there are trade-offs for all these things between decentralization, speed, cost, and a lot of things.
Right. When you said that the entire world is creating these blocks in regards to Bitcoin, those are the miners that are trying to make money, trying to mine Bitcoin. They’re doing that by doing these mathematical equations.
Exactly. They’re getting paid in transaction fees. When you do a transaction, you pay the fee. but they’re also getting paid. Bitcoin is created by the miners. Every 10 minutes, new Bitcoin is created and given to whoever wins. Right now, it’s pretty lucrative. It can be pretty lucrative to mine Bitcoin.
What’s happening around May of 2020 is an event called the Halvening. Essentially, it’s where the number of Bitcoin that is created that’s distributed to miners is going to go in half. This algorithmically happens every few years.
Bitcoin is going to be created for the next 100 years. At a very specific date a very specific block number which is around a specific date, it’s going to stop creating new Bitcoin. It’s going to be totally dependent on transaction fees. That’s a fun fact.
Right. If you’re going to get into the Bitcoin mining business, now’s probably not the right time. It would’ve been a few years ago, maybe.
It’s very competitive now. I would say it’s hard to get in today.
It’s going to be less lucrative once the Halvening happens.
It would be less lucrative but in theory, the price in Bitcoin goes up. My general theory is that Bitcoin is either going to zero because it’s not going to be able to afford to have people actually mine. It’s not going to be robust enough to warrant people mining. If the people don’t mine, the whole system collapses. It either goes to zero because of that or it’s going to be worth a tremendous amount because it will need to be in order to not go to zero. It either needs to be worth enough that the transaction fees make it worthwhile for miners or they’ll just go to zero. It’s a hugely skewed upside to zero, from my perspective. That’s my opinion.
Okay. You’re in this blockchain crypto world. Do you hold Bitcoin?
I do. I hold small amounts of a lot of the different blockchains. It’s really hard to know at this point which network is going to be the ultimate winner. We’re like the TCP/IP phase of the Internet which is early on. There were a bunch of different competing protocols. It was hard to know. Generally, if you have access to the different ones, and you see what’s happening, you have a chance at being aligned with the right ones.
I’m a big believer in Bitcoin as a store value. I’m a big believer in Ethereum as a centralized finance engine. I think EOS and chains like it are actually incredible application layers for building all sorts of really fast, great user experiences on a blockchain. I see there is a world where all of them can coexist serving different functions.
I find it fascinating that Everipedia has its own cryptocurrency. What was the reason for that?
We have our own token. We’re not our own network itself, in the strictest sense of the word. We have the IQ token. We actually did not do an Initial Coin Offering. Instead, we airdropped the tokens. Anybody that was an EOS token holder got distributed IQ tokens proportional to the amount of EOS they actually held. By being part of the network, you were given this utility engine that is the IQ token.
The IQ token is a way to enable our users to actually make some money from the platform. More, it’s an economic model for helping facilitate the incentives around making edits, then curating content. Whenever you make an edit, you actually have to stick IQ tokens. You have to essentially risk your IQ token when you make the edit. If your edit gets downvoted and the community says, “No, that was a bad edit.” You lock up your IQ tokens and essentially lose your IQ tokens. The actual mechanism is you lock it up for a very long time.
If you make an edit that is approved by the community, you share in IQ that is generated as inflation periodically. You are rewarded economically for making good edits. You’re penalized economically for making bad edits. Then, the same thing happens on the voting side. If you vote on the winning side, you’re rewarded. If you vote on the losing side, you’re penalized. It’s a mechanism for incentivizing people to make good edits and to curate content effectively.
We have explored and we are exploring other potential models. Just to let you know because it’s interesting. I’m not really ready to talk about those different things. The bottom line is we’re continually looking to improve the incentive mechanism to really make it easier for people to collaborate. Using an economic model to drive collaboration is a good way to get lots of people all over the world to participate and collaborate.
A lot of our editors, they’re not doing it for the economic incentive. Frankly, right now, the whole crypto market is in winter. We’re in a bear market. The price of a lot of these things has gone down. You don’t make a ton of money by being an Everipedia editor or curator right now. A lot of our editors are doing it because they really believe in the mission of what we’re trying to do. The economic incentive is there. It does have meaning. It especially has meaning for places all over the world that don’t have access to a lot of financial resources right now.
I’ve mentioned that a few of our editors are in Nigeria right now. They make pretty decent money for where they’re at. What’s interesting is they’re adding knowledge. I’ve mentioned this before but they’re adding knowledge that has never really been available online. We’re incentivizing people in remote locations economically to add knowledge that has never been part of humanity’s knowledge base before and thereby creating a very inclusive encyclopedia of knowledge of everything. It’s pretty wild.
The IQ token, that’s a utility token?
Is there another type of token besides the utility token?
Yeah. There is the security token and the utility token. The utility token is something that actually powers an application. It’s used as a mechanism within an application. A security token’s more like traditional equity. If you follow the crypto market and all, it’s actually been very interesting. The battle between whether something is classed by a security token or a utility token has a huge impact on the market. A lot of the Initial Coin Offerings that were done, if the SEC determined that your ICO was a security token, there’s been a lot of issues with that. A lot of people have been getting in trouble with it because essentially, it was like you were doing a private placement of equity to a public market without going through any of the regulatory hurdles that you’re supposed to go through to protect equity holders.
Security tokens, by the way, the way that they’re similar to equity, one way that they can be structured, they can be structured in lots of dynamic ways that are different from equity. They’re much more robust. Essentially, you are getting access to the profitability or percentage of the revenues, some financial underlying of an application or of a company. Whereas a utility token is not really access to the underlying profitability. It doesn’t really represent equity. Instead, it’s used within the application to power some primary functionality.
A utility token can also be traded?
Absolutely. They’re definitely an economic model around the utility tokens. Their value is derived from the usefulness within an application. Both of them can be traded but a security tokens value is determined more by the underlying profitability or some financial aspect that’s being passed through a security token holder. Those tokens represent a share of one of the financial instruments like profitability as equity would be or revenue or something like that.An economic model to drive collaboration is an excellent way to get lots of people all over the world to participate. Click To Tweet
Wow, this is all fascinating stuff. I know we need to get all the SEO stuff that you guys have been able to accomplish over the last few months. One last question I’d like to ask on this topic, do you have any advice for the marketer who’s listening and needs to know something tangible and relevant to them, that they should be doing to prepare to be more future-proof in the coming years in terms of a blockchain, smart contracts, crypto, and all that?
That’s a great question. I think it’s important, even at this stage, to understand at a very basic level what’s going on here. Some of the stuff that we’ve been talking about is useful. It might’ve gone over people’s heads, flying through things and not presenting.
That is all good stuff. I think it’s fascinating. Even if somebody is in a very traditional consulting business or whatever, this is a glimpse into the future and how sophisticated these kinds of businesses that are based on the blockchain, on mutable records, on knowledge sharing, knowledge layers, and all that. This is the future for all of us.
Stephan, my biggest recommendation for any professional service is that there is a huge need for marketers, for user experience, for designers. A lot of the blockchain projects are very engineer-focused because engineers get very excited about these sorts of things. I think for a lot of other people, it’s scary. Or they don’t really understand it so they’re just waiting to see what happens. There is a massive opportunity right now to come in and help people with user experience.
The way they’re doing messaging, from a marketer, a lot of projects have huge messaging issues right now. They don’t clearly articulate what they’re doing. A lot of the stuff is complex and is hard to explain. Having to include that as a blockchain project when you’re explaining what you’re trying to achieve from a grand vision, having to explain what blockchain it is in that elevator pitch is hard. I think there’s a huge opportunity for marketers to come in and help the different projects with the essentials from the more traditional tech landscape or non-tech landscape. Bringing some of those best practices to the blockchain projects, that’s like an immediate term opportunity for a lot of professional services. I know lawyers that are doing that. There’s a huge need for that.
I’m part of an organization that’s very user experience-focused. That’s how I got involved in Everipedia in the first place. There’s an opportunity for those kinds of things—design, marketing, strategy from a high level, I think even executive leadership, some of these projects need. There’s a decent amount of money out there because a lot of these ICOs did bring in a lot of capital. There’s been a drying effect over the last year or two because we’re in a bear market, but there are still huge opportunities out there even in the near term to get involved.
Once you’re involved and once you start getting it, then you’re a part of it. It’s got a high learning curve at first, but once you get the underlying stuff, it’s just a basic big public database.
I actually have a friend, Steve Good. He’s got a crypto podcast. One of the things he does is he comes in like an executive for hire to these different blockchain type of companies, and he helps them grow their business. That’s his focus. It makes a lot of sense.
One other thing before we move topics, that I thought was interesting and a little curious is this idea of Turing completeness. Turing, named after Alan Turing, the thing that I first think of when I think of Alan Turing is the Turing test. You won’t be able to tell that it’s actually a computer that you’re conversing with. It will fool you. That day of some AI passing the Turing test is coming fast. The Turing completeness thing, how is that related to the Turing test?
I’ve actually never looked that up. I’m not sure. I definitely should have. I’m not even 100% sure that they are related. It likely is still related to Alan Turing but he was a brilliant programmer. He’s famous for the Turing test. He’s also famous for decoding World War II encryption and helping us to win the war. He’s one of the first programmers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually more related to that and to his programming work than to the AI sentientness.
Got it. What was that movie about Alan Turing in the war? I forgot. It was great.
Yeah, it was great. I can’t remember the name of it but a lot of my knowledge about Alan Turing was from that movie.
It’s going to bug me. The Imitation Game, that’s what it is.
There you go.
Great movie. We’ll put it in the show notes. Now, let’s move on to SEO and how you guys have applied some of the stuff you’ve learned from me to make really significant gains in reaching your traffic levels and so forth. Let’s start off by setting the stage. What was the gain that you got over the last few months? We’ve been only working together for four months or something like that. The first three months were focused on SEO audit, a tech audit, content audit, and link audit. You guys were super fast in implementing. Really impressive, taking massive actions. I do appreciate that. Not every client does that. It was refreshing.
Let’s talk a little bit about the results that you’ve got. It was a leap of faith, really. That’s the thing about SEO. You don’t know what the ROI is going to be. You can guess but it’s all just a guess until you actually get there.
Yeah. Stephan, I’ll actually just frame this, even take a step back, and say that it may be a little counterintuitive for a blockchain company to care about SEO. It’s one of the important things, I think, for people to realize about this industry and any emerging tech industry, if you’re consumer application as we are, you still need to have the best practices from the traditional Internet in order to succeed. You can’t ignore things like Search Engine Optimization if most of your traffic is coming from Google, as ours is. Something like 90% of our traffic is coming from Google, from SEO.
That traffic is incredible because it’s free especially for consumer apps that don’t make money off its users. We’re not collecting and selling information about our users, anything like that. We can’t really pay for that topline traffic. SEO’s incredibly important. I think that a lot of emerging technology companies, a lot of blockchain companies, as I was saying before in professional services, it’s very easy to say, “Because we’re doing something new, unique, and exciting, we don’t really need to do SEO stuff.” That can’t be an afterthought. People would be fired up because of the blockchain, they can make money from it. That sort of stuff. I think that’s actually a big mistake; to overlook design, to overlook strategy, SEO, and all those kind of things.
We’re a blockchain company when you’re editing and curating content. We have over 1.5 million monthly viewers now that are coming and reading content. Most of them, predominantly, are not coming and making edits or curating. We are trying to convert them, giving them some call to action. Most people, they’re Googling Daniel Liebeskind, and Everipedia is the number two result. Boom! They are in Everipedia and they’re reading content.
SEO is incredibly important for us. Setting the framing of our engagement with you. Almost a year ago now, we started completely rebuilding. We threw away the old platform, the old Everipedia front-end, even our API layer, and from scratch, rebuilt the entire API, made it public, made it much more robust with great documentation, and completely reimagined what Everipedia could be, what’s it’s going to be, redesigned the entire thing and built it from scratch using a brand new framework called React. Our previous platform was built in Python. We’re using React. We’re excited. We got great designs.
It took about six months of building to rebuild our whole API layer, our whole front-end, and all the designs. We launched in June. What we find is people are super fired up about our new platform. We’re getting a lot of really positive feedback from the community, from the EOS community, from random readers. We added Intercom for people to engage with us. We added a whole robust chat layer. We’re getting more engagements from people.
What we found was that our traffic was stalling. It was actually starting to drop. We panicked a little bit because SEO’s incredibly important for us. Those readers, the number of people that are actually coming, it’s creating a lot of value for the platform itself. We do convert our readers into editors. Dropping our top of the funnel is going to mean that we’re going to have fewer editors. In general, our platform is going to be less relevant.
You and I had met at Abundance 360. We talked about SEO. You got me fired up about it, I knew that. I did a little bit of research around. I could be discovering that you were the person I knew that knew SEO the best. I mentioned that we have these problems. We’ve done some SEO stuff in the past. Even, in full transparency, engaged other consultants in the past. The first conversation that you had with our team, afterward we debriefed.
It’s like, “Okay, this guy actually knows what he’s talking about. Let’s do the leap of faith. Let’s go ahead and do the three audits. He can tell us what’s wrong and what we can improve. From there, we can decide whether it makes sense. We’ll see the results. We’ll decide if it makes sense to have a longer engagement.” At the very minimum, if you can give us a few actionable things to implement that’s going to increase our traffic, that creates a huge amount of value for us.
You did the three audits. You gave us a pretty impressive robust presentation about technical, link, and content. I’d say the technical and the content, really the technical as the first thing was incredibly important for us. There were a number of things that just hadn’t really occurred. We can go through some of those things.
I have an opening here. We have a checklist of 60 different items that we pulled out of that presentation that you gave to us. We ranked in terms of priority but there’s a lot of super high priority stuff that after you told us, it’s like, “Oh, yeah. Obviously we should have a way of internally categorizing our different content and internal linking structure.” Things like the fact that our homepage has so much link juice, we should be using that. Really valuable real estate to send users to our highly valued pages instead of to just random pages that don’t matter to us. Just very obvious things like that.
As I said, we got super fired up about it. We actually have a fairly small team for the amount of traffic and the amount of cloud we have in our industry. We have a fairly lean team. We get stuff done. We focus on pretty much solely SEO improvements for an entire month. I just implemented most of this stuff that we talked about. At that time, I think we engaged you in early October maybe. Maybe you gave us the recommendations in October. I can’t quite remember.
Once we started engaging and doing, I guess what happened is we engaged in early October. Right off the bat, you gave us a few things to do that were like, “Okay, these things are red flags. Do them in parallel while I’m preparing these other presentations or while I’m preparing the more robust presentation.” We started doing that. I think we saw an increase of 10% traffic in that month. We fully implemented everything by early November. In the last month, I think we more than doubled our traffic now since we engaged you. Maybe it was three months ago. We started implementing things at the beginning of October. We’ve more than doubled our traffic at that time.
It’s been pretty exciting. It feels like we are on an upward trajectory. There was one big thing that we weren’t able to do yet that we’ve been working on which is converting everything over to server-side rendering. That’s something that’s coming out very soon for us. That’s going to really increase the speed of our pages. That should give us a huge additional boost.An expert is someone who actually knows what's happening and stays abreast of changes. They are the ones who acquire knowledge you just can't easily find out there. Click To Tweet
We also engaged you on an ongoing basis. We’re going to be really improving our backlinks, trust, and authority in the space. You’ve been giving us great advice along the way. We’re pretty fired up for what’s about to happen for our project.
That is awesome. What were the big objections or concerns that you or the team had before you pushed the button to work with me?
As I’ve mentioned, we’ve engaged other SEO consultants before with very limited results. Generally, there’s skepticism around bringing in outside experts that are going to give us advice. We already know a lot of that stuff because people have given it to us before. We’ve implemented it and it doesn’t really do anything.
At first, there was that skepticism. It’s also a premium service. We have funds but we’re very frugal or very intentional of how we use our money. We really look to spend money in a way that delivers ROI to us. With SEO, it’s challenging to determine the ROI especially because we’re not serving ads, we’re not selling our visitors data. We’re not actually directly monetizing our users. Even then, it’s a little bit of, “What’s going to be the direct ROI from even doubling our users?” It’s a little bit less clear to us. I think those probably were the two things.
As I mentioned, that first conversation with you, it just became apparent that you had a lot of very specific knowledge that was not the foofy general SEO advice that we got. Instead, it was very specific. “Here’s how Google actually thinks about these things.” “Here are some changes that Google has made. The policies that are going to impact the way you actually implement these things.”
Awesome. What would be an example of something that was very surprising, maybe even counterintuitive, that you learned from me that you guys were able to capitalize on?
I guess one thing that’s interesting with Everipedia is that we started as a fork of Wikipedia. A lot of our content is not original. It makes our encyclopedia robust. It makes it so if you’re ever on Everipedia if you search for a topic or you click on an internal link within an article, you are brought to whatever that knowledge-base is within Everipedia. We don’t really count that as proprietary Everipedia content. We have that.
We also have a lot of content that is thin. It’s one sentence, two sentences. It makes it so that we have a robust knowledge-base. Those pages just aren’t valuable to us as you explained. I think the way that we thought about those pages, whether we index them, how we deal with internal linking, how link juice is actually preserved within the site.
One of the things you pointed out to us is the homepage has the most link juice. Anything that is linked to from the homepage is going to get, let’s say it’s 70% of the link juice from the homepage. Whatever’s link to from there, it gets further diluted. The farther away from the homepage you get the share of link juice gets dissipated. There’s an incredible value, the closer you are to our homepage. So, structuring our site, in general, to not waste that link juice.
For example, something that’s a link to from the homepage that has a lot of internal links, where maybe 90% of them are to Wikipedia imports which we don’t index—Google doesn’t even see those pages because they’re just duplicate content of Wikipedia—instead of linking to those internally, we now are doing something much more sophisticated where they’re not actually internal links for Google purposes.
The Google crawler is going to the homepage. It’s looking at the different content we have featured there. It’s going to those. It’s only seeing links on those pages that are actually owned proprietary content rather than everything that might be Wikipedia import, that might be not indexed, that sort of stuff. Preserving that link juice and really directing it very intentionally to our content, to our unique value proposition, that was counterintuitive. We knew that we shouldn’t be indexing that stuff.
The whole idea of link juice, how to spread that around, and internally structure our site was something that we just hadn’t really thought of. I think that has been a massive gamechanger. Again, there’s a list of 60 different things that we did. It’s been a lot of different game changers but that one is huge.
One distinction, I think, that was completely new to you guys related to this is all that Wikipedia imported content. You were preserving the crawl budget by not allowing the spiders to crawl those pages. What wasn’t happening was this understanding of the index budget being a separate thing. That’s the thing you need to be more careful about preserving and being more frugal about than crawl budget.
This idea that you’re only given a certain amount of budget to spend depending on how important, authoritative, trusted your website is, and a bunch of other factors. The crawl budget is only applicable to a very large website. You guys qualify because you’ve got millions of pages.
Crawl budget, you want to be thoughtful about how you’re sending Google bot around your site. Even more important is this idea of the index budget. Index budget, you have only a certain amount of equity that you’re able to spend with Google because it’s more expensive to store the data in the massively distributed database—the index—than it is to crawl a page multiple times a month.
That’s where the magic comes in. Let’s think differently about how we are going to direct Google around in this site in terms of spending our link equity, our page rank. How are we going to pass internal link equity around? How are we going to stop squandering the index budget when we’re trying to preserve the crawl budget which isn’t as valuable and is important to us as an index budget? We’re getting pages that are still showing up in the index even though we’re stopping Google bot from crawling them with disallow. All that sort of stuff was pretty new for you guys, right?
Yeah. We weren’t noindexing our Wikipedia content. I think we were not noindexing our thin content so that one was huge. I think we generally knew about some of the stuff around indexing, but you added a lot of clarity to that. I think the number of pages we’ve actually have indexed officially by Google and our search consul is 30% or something after engaging you. To really say to Google, “Look, these are the pages that are valuable, that are high quality, that you should be indexing, and we actually want to spend our equity on.”You can't ignore Search Engine Optimization if most of your traffic is coming from Google. Click To Tweet
Today, I actually increased the threshold requirements for being indexed in terms of the quality of the page. Our whole mentality around Google budgets has shifted. We’re much more pragmatic about how we’re spending our crawl, our index budgets, and those sorts of things.
The other massive one for us, we always knew that we should have categorization within the site, but we had been slow to move on that. One of the big issues that you identified is most of our pages were just orphans. There was no way for Google to find them, essentially. We’ve had a page that we created. It was deployed, and then so what? There’s nothing linking to it. It just exists. Google has no idea. It considers it largely immaterial and unimportant because nothing’s linking to it.
We went through a huge process of categorizing all of our content. We added categories to each of our pages. Those category links went to massive lists of categories of different content ranked by page views. Now, we essentially have a whole internal index of all of our content. Anything that is created gets categories added to it. It immediately shows up in these category pages. Google now has a sense of where all of our content is. We’ve got lots of different categories. We have category pages that are indexed. I think that’s also had an incredible impact on us.
Very cool. I think I shared this example with you guys—in fact, I’m sure I had—of the New York Times has these topic pages and they do really well, like the Iraq topic page in the New York Times website ranks on page one for Iraq. It’s not the most valuable page out there by a stretch about Iraq. It’s just there’s so much authority and trust that New York Times has as far as Google sees it just by having a topic page which is a little bit more advanced than a category page. It’s still pretty much the same concept.
A little known growth hack for Wikipedia, if you want to get a Wikipedia article to rank higher or lower, this also works conversely, it’s the categories that page is in. Wikipedia nofollows all external links but internal links are not getting nofollowed. If you want to send more or less juice to a Wikipedia article, the categories are the massive secret way to do that.
“Oh, my page in Wikipedia is not ranking as well as I’d like it to rank. Let’s give it some juice.” What’s one of the most powerful sites that you can link to that page from? Wikipedia itself. Just put in more categories. Relevant categories, of course.
Similarly, you can remove categories and have it lower in the search results. “Oh my gosh, my Wikipedia is outranking my homepage. That’s not good. Let’s fix that. Let’s decategorize some of the categories that Wikipedia article’s in.” So much cool stuff that you can do once you really understand the nuances of SEO.
Your traffic levels have increased significantly higher than you have anticipated. Is that an accurate assessment?
Yeah. I think traffic has grown much faster than I anticipated. That’s what I’ve been really impressed with. My impression was that SEO takes three or four months for a change. From when you make a change, for it to actually have any impact that it takes three or four months.
What we found is that some changes had an impact within a week, even. It’s probably true that many of the changes will have a longer tail on their impact. Even things like link building, trust, and authority, those probably change much slower. The things around index, budget, crawl budget, internal linking, discoverability, and all of that kind of stuff.
Content pruning. You can look at your search console and see the impact on tools like Ahrefs and things like that. You can actually see the impact. It’s remarkably fast. I think that’s been really exciting.
And conventional wisdom has been to give it four months to a year for SEO changes to really have an impact. That’s even from Google engineers. Google engineers are officially saying, “Hey, give SEO time because it takes time.” Four months to a year is pretty typical.
The fact that we’ve doubled in two months which is less than any of them say has me pretty optimistic about what’s going to happen over the four months to a year. Some of the changes likely will start having an impact in a month or two months or five months from now. As you’ve said to us many times, SEO is not something you just do and then stop. It’s an ongoing battle. We’re engaging in that and we’re going to continue our efforts.
The things that we’ve done over the last two months will start having an impact in three months. Things we’ve been doing today will also have an impact. I’m excited. It feels like a big game. The whole thing feels very gamified to me right now. It’s fun to have success in the gamification system.
Your website is kind of a game, too. You gamified the process of contributing to a massive knowledge-base, massive global encyclopedia, which is pretty darn cool.
One of the things that you’ve said when you were interested in engaging for a longer-term contract with me was that you’re impressed with the results so far and all that. Actually, would you mind if I share a little bit of that email where you said some really nice things?
I don’t even remember what I said but feel free.
Okay, awesome. Let me pull that up. “Based on the organic traffic growth we’ve experienced, our SEO collaboration seems to have been successful. Organic traffic has nearly tripled since the beginning of our engagement and we’re still working on perfecting and deploying server-side rendering, which will dramatically improve our page as you’ve mentioned. We’re interested in adding fuel to the fire and continuing our collaboration with you. You demonstrated a mastery of SEO. Given how important organic traffic is to our success, we’d be interested in escalating our relationship.” Then, you went into some specifics which I’ll leave out.
That was very exciting to see and to hear the success that you’re already achieving. If our listeners wanted to take one thing away from this whole conversation about what they can do to apply something from the realm of SEO that would make a game-changing difference to their business, and they might be in a completely different business from yours, what would you tell them to do?
I would say to think about Google bot as an algorithm that has certain constraints. If you figure out what those constraints are and the certain rules that govern it, if you could figure out some of them, then you can have a huge impact. Hiring Stephan is a great move. There’s also a lot of low-hanging fruit. If you don’t have a budget for that, that you can do.
Stephan also published a lot of stuff—your podcasts, your writings. You do just give out nuggets even the stuff that we’ve been talking about. The thing about Google bot as having budgets for indexing, crawling, and meeting discoverability. Your orphan pages that have nothing linking to them, that’s really important to understand. To understand that even internal linking where you spread link juice from your homepage or whatever, your highest SEO pages, to other pages, that’s incredibly important.
Generally, just thinking about the Google bot as a sophisticated, algorithmic game that has rules that govern it that are changing. Some of the hard stuff of SEO is knowing what has changed and what is current because if you’re reading SEO articles from two years ago, the advice that it gives may not just be relevant anymore because it’s constantly being tweaked. I think that’s where an expert that actually knows what’s happening and stays abreast of the changes can be incredibly valuable and unique. You just can’t find that knowledge out there.
I would say read the most robust SEO stuff you can or the most informed that you can. If it’s old, take it with a grain of salt, maybe. Try to read something that’s new as well. I think there’s also a lot of SEO people out there that don’t really know what they’re talking about.
It’s hard to discern between good SEO advice and bad SEO advice. It’s actually very easy to make it up and seem like you know what you’re talking about which I think a lot of people do. Try as hard as you can to find trusted knowledge sources for SEO. There are definitely smart people around SEO out there. Stephan is absolutely one of them. If you can read anything by him or engage him, you should definitely go for it.
Thank you, Daniel. For our listeners who want to either hire an SEO or engage an agency or whatever, and they want to make sure they don’t get snowed, just sold a bill of goods, essentially, I do have an SEO BS Detector that’s available for free on my website. It has a bunch of trick questions with the correct answers. The one and only correct answer for each one that you can slip in the interview process. Even without having SEO knowledge or expertise, you can with that document, ensure you don’t get a charlatan on your payroll. That’s on stephanspencer.com/resources.
If our listener wants to follow you, Daniel, where’s the best place? Where are you most active on social media? Do you have a website we can send folks to as well?
You can follow me personally on Twitter, twitter.com/dliebeskind. Probably put a link after. Check out Everipedia as well, everipedia.org to see the stuff that we’re doing. It’s very exciting. A lot of changes, a lot of SEO improvements. If you want to see SEO being implemented in real-time, definitely check that out. You can also reach out to me if you want, specifically, [email protected]. Feel free.
Awesome. Thank you, Daniel. Thank you, listeners. I hope you got some valuable takeaways from this. I’m sure you did. Now it’s up to you to actually implement. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
Bye, everyone. Thank you so much.
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Broaden my knowledge and think outside the box. Don’t confine my ideas within the status quo. There is always room for improvement.
Collaborate with like-minded individuals. As the African proverb goes, “if you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”
Continue to look for ways of evolving knowledge and systems by staying up-to-date with current trends. One of these days, the process I’m currently used to will become obsolete.
Develop a futurist mindset, especially in this digital era, where everything is fast-paced. Look for major tech and business shifts so I am prepared when change arrives.
Implement future-proof systems in my business. Be familiar with blockchain, smart contracts, crypto, and determine how they will impact the way I do work so I don’t get left behind.
Share my knowledge with others so everyone can collectively grow, succeed, and expand their wisdom.
Find a marketer who can articulate my business in the best way possible to my targeted audience. For entrepreneurs, it’s challenging to convey a clear message for prospects to fully grasp.
Don’t ignore SEO, especially if my website heavily relies on Google for traffic, leads, and sales. One site audit can lead to a massive change in my search engine ranking and online reputation.
Find a trusted SEO expert who can thoroughly lead my company to the top pages of search engine results.
Check out Daniel Liebeskind’s Everipedia for more information about his advocacy and what the “information” of the future is all about.
About Daniel Liebeskind
Daniel Liebeskind is the Chief Product Officer of Everipedia. Daniel is an experienced product-oriented software engineer with a background in investment banking and venture capital.
Daniel joins Everipedia from Decrypt[ed], a blockchain product experience consultancy where he has been building distributed apps on both the Ethereum and EOS blockchains for several years. Prior to getting involved in blockchain, he was the co-founder of BODY, a fitness platform that received funding from YCombinator for fitness instructors to create a virtual studio and teach multi-way video classes.
Before his career in the technology sector, Daniel was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Investment Bank. He later joined Summit Partners where he focused on healthcare technology investments.