Bartosz, it’s great to have you on the show.
Same here, Stephan. Thank you for the invite. I heard a lot of good stuff about you and the podcast. I’m excited to be one of your guests.
I’m excited to geek out with you because you are so skilled at the technical SEO stuff, things that would just make other people’s head spin. I don’t know if everyone is going to be able to digest everything that we talk about, but certainly their minds will be expanded by the end of this episode. I’m quite confident of that. Why don’t we start with a topic that you had just spoken about, and I know you did a bunch of speaking. Where were you? It was like three different conferences in one week, right?
Yeah, it was quite a marathon. I’m in this happy space when I finished all my talks for the off season for the SEO conferences. I figured that I’m going to do these three conferences within five, six days in two continents and after that I’m done for two and a half months or so. I did Search Elite in London. That’s actually a funny story. I got to London, it turns out that my hotel is closed at [1:00] AM and I had to find something else and I did. I had someone else book a hotel for me for the first time and it’s never a good idea, check it yourself. I woke up after three hours of sleep. I did my talk at Elite, this new conference in London. I finished at [1:00] PM. I had to run to the airport to catch my flight to Boston. I got to the airport on time just to find out that my flight was canceled. They said to pick another flight and I get any flight I can find. It was $2,000 for economy but they were cool enough to say, “Get it, we’ll make it happen.” I had to change the airport. That was the most exciting thing I did in a while.
It turns out that you can’t leave the airport just like that because it’s international ground. The only people who can let you out are the people from the airline you had the ticket with. I had to find the people from Norwegian to let me out of the airport with bunch of other people because the line to customer services was a thousand people long. I finally got out and there was this very nice guy called Jens. He was a CEO of some medical company in Boston. We get into the cab that’s like £200. We changed the airport, we arrived just literally one minute before the gate closed and I get to Boston.
The next day, I go on stage and do my talk in Boston. It turns out I got some weird stomach bug on a plane and I’m sick. For three days in Boston, I lay in bed sick. I got my flight back to London for UnGagged, that was keynoting. I was keynoting the whole thing during the first day. I didn’t finish my deck, which was very unfortunate because I was supposed to do that in Boston. I got the overnight flight, got one-hour sleep on the plane and got to London. I met Christian from my team and we built a deck. It was very nice, very cool. I was rated second top speaker in UnGagged. It must have been a productive day. We did 305 slides, I usually have a lot.
I never drink coffee and I ordered a decaf. Probably through my accent, they didn’t understand that it’s 11:00 PM and got me large venti Starbucks coffee that’s caffeinated instead of decaf. I never drink coffee. I rarely do. I stay up until 3:00 AM. I got on stage and do my talk. It went very well. I’m surprised I’m smiling and very energetic on stage, which I have no idea how I did that. I went back to my room and I fell asleep until 4:00 PM. That was my last marathon. Then I went home to Poland on Tuesday and on Wednesday had a half marathon. I did all that and now I feel like the weight is off my shoulders so I’m very happy to jump into this podcast with you in a relaxed state. SearchLove Conference in Boston, and UnGagged London.
Clearly you are in high demand that you would have three different conferences in a five or six-day period and that they’d be so driven to get you there that they will spend an extra $2,000 on a ticket.
Was this Angular 1 or 2? This was back in the days so probably Angular 1.
Recently in Google I/O, that was one of the recommended solutions, but this is a temporary thing. We work with a lot of clients, who struggle with prerendering. The problem is that once you have a website that’s prerendered for Googlebot, you deal with two websites in a way because you have one website for users and one website for Googlebot. You have to manage and optimize two of them and that gets tricky. If you’re prerendering engine breaks, you will return to 404, 500 or any other status code that’s not very good to Googlebot only. You are sometimes not aware of that because your website works. There is a lot of downsides to that. If your website is extremely dynamic, let’s imagine that you will try to prerender Facebook or Twitter, that’s almost impossible because content is changing all the time. I will do that for like eCommerce stores that are not as dynamic like blogs or websites that don’t change a hundred pages per hour.
I had advised a client of mine, you may know about this company. It’s called Focus@Will. Imagine Spotify but for focused, flow state type of music. If you want to get into a flow state and work at 200%, 500% than what you normally do. You know when you’re in flow, things just happen and you’re cranking. You can stay in the flow state for a longer time period if you listen to what’s referred to as streamlined music. Not regular music, this is a game changer. If you like listening to music, you’re listening to the wrong music, I guarantee you.Focus@Will. Imagine Spotify but for focused, flow state type of music Click To Tweet
You’re into biohacking, Stephan?
I’m big into biohacking. I have a whole podcast, probably half of it is dedicated to biohacking. That’s not this show obviously, but that’s The Optimized Geek. My other podcast where I’ve had Dave Asprey on, the Bulletproof coffee guy, that is not an SEO podcast, even though it might sound like it. It’s bio hacking, life hacking. I’ve got Tim Ferriss on as well. I’ve had these specialists in certain areas of biohacking like EMF exposure. I had Brian Hoyer on. I’ve had Dr. Daniel Kraft from Singular University. I just thought of the person who I interviewed about a 21-day water fast. Lisa Betts-LaCroix, she was talking about quantified-self, QS. We’re talking about keto and that’ll be a fun episode. The key is to scale yourself and you can’t do that by adding hours to the day. Nobody has more than 24 hours in a day, but what you can do is delegate everything and systematize everything.
I’m going to do the less public speaking because I outsource that to my team and I have very good public speakers in my team who are doing a lot for me now. My goal is to travel less, work a little bit less as well because I’ve got the six-hour work day.
If you think about how you scale yourself, how much time would you estimate that you’ve been spending on email per day?
I would say one hour a day. I’m way behind.
When you think about many hours is spent over the course of a year. The fact that you have not delegated that, it’s crazy.
I delegate as much as I can, it’s just difficult. I’ve got 32 people here, I think it’s 34 in the agency. They call me master of outsourcing because I outsource even the little things. I find it difficult with emails. You need to show me your tricks then because I’m doing a lot. My email is nowhere to be found. I still get quite a lot.
For readers who want to implement something like this, I’ve got some great episodes on The Optimized Geek where we go into inbox zero. I’ve had David Allen on, the creator of the GTD Methodology and author of Getting Things Done. Listen to Trivinia Barber. That was all about VAs. My email is set up with the GTD model. I have an @action folder, I have @read review folder, I have an @waitingfor folder. I use Google apps for business and I’ve got those labels but I’m using IMAP to connect up to the email. I’m using Mail.app on my Mac.
I have my team who are doing the same thing. At least two or three people who are trusted enough in my organization have access to my email. I also have a private, @email address in addition to my Stephan@. I would send lost passwords there because if somebody gets my regular email, I always turn on two-factor authentication. Turn off using your phones, text messaging as one of the two factor authentication methods because that can easily get spoofed or stolen and you’re screwed.
Use Google Authenticator app and that will generate those six-digit numbers every few minutes. Even if you’re not connected to the internet, the numbers work. For a backup, generate a bunch of one-time use codes that you store in a very safe location. That’s securing your email setup. I have a few trusted members that have access to my email, personal and business. They’re putting everything that’s in the inbox into the appropriate folders. They’re responding to a lot of things, travel stuff, client requests, and prospects wanting to set up a call and all that.
They’ll handle as much of that as they can. Some stuff they can’t handle and that goes into action. I stay out of my inbox. A lot of times it’s inbox zero, but even if they haven’t gotten to it in the last hour or two, I don’t pay attention to it. I go straight to my action folder and that’s where I live. I also check my read review folder, but not as often, maybe once or twice a day maximum just to see what the FYIS are. That cuts my amount of time by 90%, and my email time is 10% of what it used to be.
I feel very bad about my workflow, even though I felt I’m very good at that. I do a to-do list. I have two inboxes which is probably not as good.
There’s always somebody who’s better than you, smarter than you, more advanced than you in a particular area. I learned this early on in my career, to surround yourself with smarter people than you. Put your ego aside and bring somebody in who is just world class at that thing that you want to be world class at. Let’s say it’s taking your productivity to the next level, getting into flow states more often, getting more organized, putting all these systems in place and using a to-do list in an even more advanced way.
You could hire somebody like Mike Vardy. He’s got a great podcast called the Productivityist. He’s a great guy and he’s one of my coaches. I learned from him, we go through my stuff and I use an app called Things which is my trusted system. He gives me feedback like, “This looks like a Hornet’s nest here. You need to do this and that and you need to fix this.” I sound altogether in terms of my productivity and my systems, but we all have our own Hornet’s nests and horrible things that we’ve let get messy. You bring somebody like that and they’ll coach you and advise you. It’s a game changer. He had a great episode on my other podcast on The Optimized Geek.
I get that it’s a Band-Aid, but it’s probably going to be a long-term band aid for them because getting them to implement that was a huge win. I can see where it would potentially go off the rails if they’re not monitoring, not just the status of the website but also monitoring the status codes that were being served up to Google. Doing the fetch and render tool in Google Search Console and checking the Google cache. This is an important distinction we need to talk about, if somebody is looking at the Google cache, they’re thinking probably that this is what Google sees and stuff doesn’t load. The lazy loading, the infinite scrolling doesn’t work or a bunch of images aren’t loading or functionalities not present.
It looks broken and you might think, “That’s not available to Googlebot,” but that’s not true. You might go instead to Google search console under the fetch and render tool and see that stuff’s not loading. This is what your page looks like and here’s what Googlebot sees. They see that images aren’t loading, the page content gets cut off partway down page. They think, “We’ve got a problem with our contents not getting into Google.” Instead, I teach my clients to use info: as advanced query operator in Google. They put in the exact URL of the page that’s in Google plus the key word or a phrase like in quotes from part of the page that looks like it’s not loading according to fetch and render or according to the Google cache. Then they see the truth, whether it was picked up by Google or not.
Mobile first indexing, which is something that not every reader will be aware of, is Google’s big shift to focusing on the mobile version of your website as the definitive version to base the rankings on. To pull information from versus the desktop version of the site. If you’re running your site as a responsive website, the potential for issues is a lot less. You’re probably okay. If you’re running dynamic serving, then there’s all sorts of potential problems that you could be having if you’re not using the vary header or Google thinks that you’re doing cloaking. Or you’re screwing up the way that you’re doing the dynamic serving that can create all sorts of problems. The third approach is to have a separate mobile website and that mobile website has different URLs. That is the worst-case scenario and the one that’s going to be the least scalable and future proofed for this new world of mobile first indexing. What am I leaving out that’s important about mobile first?
With mobile first, it gets complicated at this point. Most of us would test the website like a mobile website on for example, iPhone X or Samsung Note 8 which is also on the higher end of the spectrum. When the median phone is Motorola G4 which I had never held in my hand ever. Just to give you an idea, this phone is ten times slower than the iPhone X because iPhone X’s processing power is better than in some of the MacBook Pros on the market right now. For some reason, Apple puts extremely powerful CPU into iPhone X, that’s better than thirteen-inch entry level MacBook pro.
If you’re opening a website like The Guardian. It is like the website performance-wise. It will load within one, two seconds regardless of anything but it will load in a way that they will see the content. The difference between fully loaded The Guardian on iPhone X and Motorola G4 is up to twenty seconds. If you look at CNN.com, there’s nine seconds difference to the website loaded between iPhone 8 and Motorola G4. This shows a problem that Google is also struggling with. First of all, we see massive performance issues on a 3G connection and 75% of people worldwide are on 3G or 2G. I think there is 50% of people worldwide on 2G connection and with mid-performance phones.
If you add those two things and your website loads very fast in your office or through Wi-Fi or 4G connection at your iPhone X, that’s a huge difference. That’s why, I believe, Google started this CrUX or Chrome user experience report where you can see how your website is doing on your user’s devices and you can see desktop, tablet, and phone and it’s a public database. This is where it gets interesting because I was thinking that our website, Elephate.com will load extremely quick because it is nicely optimized. It’s still fast but it’s not as fast as we thought on some mobile devices. We see that there is a lot to improve in this area.
Back in the day I was wondering, Google crawls mobile websites only, they will disregard the desktop. I was thinking, there are different challenges for Google with mobile. First of all, they can’t measure any of the performance during the crawl because it’s specific to the niche. We have clients that still have 90% desktop traffic, we have clients with 70% to 80 % of mobile traffic, that’s one. Secondly, we have a client who’s Jiffy in Poland and for them the devices used to enter the website are usually pretty low-end. We work with Oracle Commerce Cloud in looking at the data. It’s a little bit different for each of the stores.
What do you mean by that?
This is why it took Focus@Will such a long time for their prerendered to get picked up.
When they upgrade to the next version of Chrome, that’s the headless browser that they’re using in Googlebot and the rendering engine, is currently Chrome 41 and they’re going to go to what? Chrome 52 or something? How long are we going to have to wait for them to update from whatever version they’re going to move to the next version? Is it going to be another two years before they get to a more recent one? Are they going to keep this real time updated? How are the WordPress installations updated automatically as soon as a new update comes out with a new version?
I’m guessing that they will go for Chrome 59 which is the first headless Chrome. That would be the logical approach for me because they have to start to work on that to make it happen. My guess and I would say that this is a 60% guess would be they will go with Chrome 59, but that’s just one thing. The second thing is that Googlers, John Mueller and Tom mentioned in Google I/O that they work on making the indexing process seamless, just one step and instant. They want to move away from two waves of indexing, which causes a lot of problems for all of us.
Thank you, Bartosz.
Thank you very much.
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Regularly monitor the status codes served up to Google. Utilize the fetch and render tool in Google Search Console and check the Google cache.
☑ Use auditing tools like SearchMetrics and SEMrush to keep a close eye on my ranking progress.
☑ Use info: as an advanced query operator in Google. This query identifies whether or not my site content is picked up by Google.
☑ Prioritize a mobile-friendly website since most online users are using their phones when they want to search for something online.
☑ Try entering any URL into https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly to check if my website is mobile-friendly.
☑ Utilize the Chrome User Experience Report, a Google tool that provides user experience metrics and shows how real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web.
- Search Elite
- UnGagged London
- Ilya Grigorik
- Search Metrics
- The Optimized Geek
- Dave Asprey on The Optimized Geek
- Tim Ferriss on The Optimized Geek
- Brian Hoyer on The Optimized Geek
- Dr. Daniel Kraft on The Optimized Geek
- David Allen on The Optimized Geek
- GTD Methodology
- Getting Things Done
- Trivinia Barber on The Optimized Geek
- Mike Vardy episode on The Optimized Geek
- Search Console
- The Guardian
- Oracle Commerce Cloud
- Bartosz Góralewicz on social media