I want to share my interview on the Brainfluence Podcast, where I talk SEO with the host Roger Dooley. If you recognize that name, it’s because Roger was a guest here on Marketing Speak (episode #60, a great episode all about neuromarketing).
In this episode, I shared some of my stories and insights about my journey to becoming an SEO expert, how the book I co-wrote The Art of SEO came to be, and more.
So whether you aspire to become an SEO practitioner, consultant or business owner who wants more results from SEO and digital marketing generally, this episode delivers insider knowledge that will help you gain an edge in the marketing world. Enjoy!
In This Episode
- [00:21] – Stephan discusses his journey as an SEO expert on the Brainfluence Podcast, hosted by Roger Dooley, a former Marketing Speak guest.
- [01:25] – Roger introduces Stephan and his book, The Art of SEO, in which Stephan describes how he and his co-authors got started.
- [04:28] – Stephan expresses his disapproval with some people who claim “SEO is dead” and shares an article he wrote debunking that claim, titled SEO Is Not Dead.
- [09:35] – What are the key factors and tools to utilize today to generate organic search traffic?
- [13:57] – Stephan lists the top three platforms for digital marketing that you should optimize.
- [15:37] – Roger recollects Stephan’s advice to him after reviewing his website while volunteering at Pubcon.
- [19:03] – Stephan describes RankBrain and its connection with SEO.
- [23:57] – Stephan distinguishes between bounce rate and dwell rate.
- [27:26] – What are the benefits of social media engagements, especially Facebook advertising?
- [34:05] – For more Brainfluence podcast episodes, visit rogerdooley.com.
Welcome to The Brainfluence Podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. I’ve known this week’s guest for years as we’re both regular speakers at Pubcon, the world’s top digital marketing conference. Stephan Spencer is an expert in search engine optimization and digital marketing. In the early days of the internet, way back in 1995, he founded Netconcepts. In 2010, he sold the business to Covario which a few years later was acquired by the big agency Dentsu Aegis.
These days, Stephan continues his digital marketing efforts as a consultant to companies like Zappos and Bed Bath and Beyond, and as a producer of seminars and multiple podcasts. His book is The Art of SEO, co-authored with Eric Enge and Jessie Stricchiola. It was first issued in 2009, and it’s now in its third edition, and it has the unique distinction of being the biggest, heaviest volume in my business book library. It’s almost a thousand pages long, and it weighs in, according to Amazon, at least 3.7 pounds. The Art of SEO isn’t just massive. It’s both comprehensive and authoritative.SEO is constantly changing because everything else is constantly changing. Everything in technology is advancing at a faster pace. Click To Tweet
Stephan, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me, Roger.
Stephan, did you and your co-authors set out to write a thousand-page book, or did it just grow and turn out that way?
Yeah. No, it didn’t start out that way. In fact, it started out as a completely different book and with a different co-author. Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, formerly known as SEO Moz, and I decided to write a book together, and it was an O’Reilly book. It was part of their Cookbook Series, so it was the SEO Cookbook. Five chapters into the book, we’re really, really bucking through creating this book and our editor at O’Reilly said, “Hey, why don’t you join forces with Jessie who’s writing The Art of SEO? She really could use some help,” so we abandoned the SEO Cookbook and started working on The Art of SEO with Jessie, and then I recruited Eric later on like a year in.
Actually, on the first and second edition, Rand stayed on as an author, but then he got too busy, so he’s no longer an author on the third edition. All these different things happen, but yeah, it ended up being a thousand-page book with this latest edition. The previous edition was 250 pages less than that. Hopefully, with the fourth edition, which we’ll probably start on in the next few months, it won’t be 1,250 pages. Who knows what? In 2030, it could be a 5,000-page tomb. I can’t tell you.
That’s quite a volume of information for a topic that every year or so, somebody comes out and publishes a major article explaining why SEO is dead, so I guess SEO is not dead yet?
In fact, I wrote an article debunking that. I’m so irritated by people saying SEO is dead. It’s just to get page views and to get some buzz happening. It’s anything but dead. Search engines are the fastest way from point A to point B, and if you haven’t figured out how to optimize your website for search engines, you’re dead-on arrival.Search engines are the fastest way from point A to point B, and if you haven't figured out how to optimize your website for search engines, your business will be dead on arrival. Click To Tweet
Yeah, I’m sure that you’re right. I think that there’s always some type of rationale out there because whenever, things really change. Really, I think what some of these folks are saying beyond just trying to create click bait and get some page views is they’re not saying that SEO is dead, but what they’re saying is that what used to work in SEO is dead, and now we’re going to have to learn new stuff or at least change the way we do things because the old stuff is dead or it’s on its way to dying.
Yeah, that I agree with, and then they’re just using a really bait-and-switch sort of way of labeling their article. I wrote for Search Engine Land, “SEO is not dead” that I published a couple months ago. That was pretty well received, so I would recommend not to read the articles about SEO is dead, but instead, read my article about why it’s not dead and why you need to focus your energies on it and not worry about the fact that SEO is constantly changing because everything is constantly changing. Everything in technology is changing, and it’s advancing at a faster and faster clip. It’s called the “law of accelerating returns.” That’s why computers are halving in price and doubling in processing speed every 18 months and everything around that as well, so you just need to keep up.
SEO is advancing at a faster and faster clip. It’s called the “law of accelerating returns.”
Yeah, so it must be really frustrating to write a huge book like this or even to co-write it. By the time the book is hitting the pressers, there’s got to be some stuff in there that you’re saying, “Oh man, that’s already out of date,” because as you say, it’s constantly changing. Did you, Eric, and Jessie try to do some things to keep the content as evergreen as possible?
Yeah. As best as we can. I mean, we’re not going to constantly have a real-time book, but we’ll do our best.
What might be a business opportunity there?
Well, you don’t get paid a lot of money for writing.
How about signing up for weekly updates?
Perhaps, but I think I’d probably earn minimum wage doing that. If you look at what you earn, putting in all that time writing a book, and updating it, it’s probably minimum wage. You get it, right?
I know exactly what you mean. I can share your experience.
Sure, as an author yourself. I don’t want to spend too much time on updates. It is an inordinate amount of time, but you always have those things happen where you go to publish, and then something changes. Luckily, we haven’t hit just this horrible example yet. We came very close. We were talking about MSN Live, and then they rebranded to Bing, we just got the changes in time.
They were going to go to press, and then Microsoft announced the name change and said, “No. We cannot publish. You have to change all mentions about MSN Search.” or was it Live Search at the time? I think the Live Search to Bing, otherwise, the book is going to be immediately obsolete, and all the screenshots too. And so we delayed the publication date an extra few weeks, and we snuck in all those changes. Thank goodness, or else that book would have been just completely useless. Even though all of the information was still valid, with the name change, people wouldn’t take it seriously.
No. You’d lose credibility if it got the nomenclature wrong in that big of a way. So, Stephan, let me tell you my SEO story. I got involved in the late ‘90s when Alta Vista was king, and that was when on-page optimization was really all accounted for. If you had the formula right for the title, and meta tags, and the page content, you could put any phrase in the top spot in Alta Vista in 48 hours, and that was really fun I guess if you were trying to boost your e-commerce site or whatever, but it really wasn’t all that good for the searchers or the users because the relevance wasn’t that good, but then link analysis came along, and that changed the game a little bit, and then finally, Google came along with its page rank which was a much more sophisticated way of counting and weighing links, and that really revolutionized the business.Links are absolutely critical. Your site cannot survive as far as SEO without really great links - authoritative, important, and trustworthy links. Click To Tweet
Let’s skip over the 15 years or whatever of intervening time. If I’m a new business today or maybe I’m an author or a blogger getting started and I want to generate organic search traffic, what really counts today? Obviously, I guess the on-page stuff is still important, but there’s a lot more involved. What are the top factors today?
You’re dead in the water if you don’t have a decent amount of link authority flowing into your site.
Yeah, so links are absolutely critical. It cannot survive as far as SEO without really great links. These are links that are authoritative. They’re important. They’re trustworthy. If you don’t have a decent amount of link authority flowing into your site, you’re dead in the water, so you absolutely need to have good link authority. As you said, the on-page factors still matter. I guess table stakes is the way I’d describe it. You can’t create a search-engine-unfriendly website and be successful. It’s like if you think about SEO as an afterthought like, “Oh, yeah. We should SEO our site now that we’ve built it and launched it.” That’s a terrible idea. That’s like building a house, and after the fact, you realize that you didn’t wire it for electricity. Now, you have to tear out the drywall, and you’re going to have to put the wiring in, and you have to patch up the drywall. Very expensive. Very painful experience. You want to think about SEO before you’ve built all the different functionality, and done all the wire framing, and the mockups, and the development site, and everything.
Right. I can sympathize with that. For years, my company offered SEO services, and I would periodically get a call from a large client saying, “Hey, we just published the new version of our site. Can you take a look at it and see if it needs anything?” I just can’t believe it. This is a major company that should know better and especially should know better having been told the last time they published a site without any SEO effort put in on the frontend. It’s just crazy. It’s sad, but perhaps, even today, things haven’t changed all that much, but I guess that’s SEO, it tends to be an afterthought.
You talked about link authority flowing into your site. I know there are tools that you can use to evaluate that. For our listeners, are there any free tools that would give them a rough idea of that or some sort of limited access to that information?
Yeah, there are a lot of premium tools where they’ll give you some information for free and the good stuff. They hold back, and you have to pay for it on a subscription basis. I have a ton of favorite tools. Let’s start with the link analysis side of things, and then I’ll give you some other types of tools as well like competitive intelligence SEO tools.
For link analysis, Majestic is very good. Ahrefs.com. Open Site Explorer from Moz. They all give you some information for free like you can get a sense for the overall authority of a site or a page just by putting in the URL. If you want to see all the backlinks, you want to see the anchor text to those links, you want to see how authoritative each of those linking pages is and the sites, then you’re going to start paying for subscriptions for those sorts of things.
Now, one of my favorite tool sets for link analysis– I love all of the three that I mentioned, but in particular, LinkResearchTools.com is amazing, and there are no free features there. You do have to pay for that, and that is a little bit pricey as far as the other tools are concerned. It’s the priciest of them. Yeah, those are link analysis tools. If we’re talking now about competitive intelligence, then we could look at SEMrush which is fantastic and also Searchmetrics. These are amazing tools, but I probably use dozens of tools on a daily basis for SEO.
Right. We don’t have to go totally down the rabbit hole, but there are some good ideas there for our listeners. One question I guess that I have is whether it is necessary to worry about search engines other than Google, and Google has such a high market share. If you’re doing everything right for Google, are you essentially okay for Bing and anybody else, or is it worth looking specifically at what you can do on these other platforms?
Focus on Google; anything Bing or Yahoo benefits from your activities is just gravy.
Well, Bing and Yahoo are really kind of the– I don’t want to say this in a derogatory way, but kind of a second-tier search engines. Their algorithms are not as advanced. In fact, Yahoo doesn’t have their own separate algorithm. They’re powered by Bing, so you’re just talking about Bing’s algorithm appearing with a Yahoo skin to it. If you’re trying to optimize for Bing, you could end up undoing some of your optimization for Google because you can get away with stuff on Bing that you can’t get away on Google, so you might take liberties and be a little bit grayer hat with Bing, and then you just shut yourself on the foot. I say focus on Google, and anything that Bing or Yahoo benefit from your activities are just gravy.
It’s a bonus. Don’t focus on it so much. In fact, in reality, the number two search engine is not Bing. It’s not Yahoo. It’s YouTube, so it’s another Google-owned property. If you care about being highly positioned and having a great presence in the number two search engine, you need to build out your YouTube presence. Have a great channel page. Have some great videos. All those videos need to be optimized, the titles, descriptions, tags, and thumbnail image. All that stuff needs to be highly optimized for the number two search engine: YouTube, and then the number three search engine is actually Amazon.
Interesting. I have actually taken your advice on one thing that I’ve been doing just for a few episodes, a few test episodes, and then the last couple of episodes, almost in a real-time type of publication is we turned these audio podcasts into YouTube videos with a static background, but with captions. Since we do a human-generated transcript from each show, the captions are actually pretty good compared to say the auto generated YouTube captions that aren’t horrible if the speakers have good enunciation, but the human-generated captions, YouTube figures out how to apply very well to the audio, and so it’s really handy.
Top three search engines: Google, YouTube, and Amazon.
I like it so that I can listen when, let’s say if I’m working on my computer, I can Chromecast the podcast to my TV in the room, and it can be played completely independent of my computer. I got some feedback from non-English speaking listeners who really appreciate the captions accompanying the audio because– I don’t know if you speak any foreign languages, Stephan. I speak a little bit of Spanish, and I have difficulty processing spoken Spanish in real-time. In other words, I can’t quite sync with the speaker in many cases.
With those captions, it becomes a lot easier to process what the person is saying without having to slow down or back up, so that’s a side benefit, but we’ll see. I didn’t really have SEO as my primary objective, but we’ll see. Maybe it will help.
Yeah, that’s awesome. I love how you took fast action. We had a nice little session at SMX East, wasn’t it?
No, that was Pubcon.
At Pubcon, where you had shown up in the session, and it was a SEO clinic.
Yeah, a site review, and I got to tell you, I was reluctant to do that. I forgot who’s on the panel. I think Eric was there, and you, and some of the top SEO folks on the planet were exposing my site in all its lack of glory to that group. I was really expecting to be horribly embarrassed, and it wasn’t too bad. I got some good feedback, and after I’ve done some of it, I’ve seen some improvements in metrics.
I haven’t necessarily seen a change in organic traffic, but I had an issue with weird spurious pages from tagged indexes and whatnot that were really inflating the amount of content on the site without providing any benefit. By scaling that back now, I think it’s going to work better. We’ll see. But I appreciated the input from you guys and also, for not embarrassing me too badly in front of the audience.
I think it’s very courageous of you to volunteer your site in front of an audience and have a panel of experts tear it apart in a gentle way. That’s awesome and everybody learned from each other, so you being a willing volunteer allowed the people who were too scared to benefit as well because they got to see the kind of advice applied in a real-world scenario. Yeah, good for you.
Being a willing volunteer allows the people who were too scared to benefit and see the kind of advice applied in a real-world scenario.
One thing I’ve been hearing about lately is RankBrain. What is RankBrain, Stephan?
Yeah. RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm, and there’s so much conjecture around what RankBrain is. The problem us SEOs have is there’s no real visibility into the algorithm. In fact, even for engineers who work at Google, there’s no real visibility into it because it’s machine learning. It learns from itself, so you don’t know what the signals end up being that Google pays attention to when we’re talking about machine learning algorithms. It’s all very opaque, and a black box.
What you can figure out through reverse-engineering things is what works and what doesn’t work with a new algorithm, so SEO is still valid even though this machine learning algorithm makes things very opaque. RankBrain is specific to the understanding of the intent of search queries. I’m certain that they’re working on really advanced machine learning artificial intelligence type algorithms for understanding the quality of pages and websites, and relevance of pages and websites to search queries and so forth.
We might have noticed that Google is just getting better and better over time at understanding the intent of what you’re searching for so you don’t have to be as specific and as precise about your search query like you could formulate it as a question and those words in the query don’t have to appear in the text of the article, right? You could ask a question like you’d ask a friend, and most of those words wouldn’t even appear in the article itself that answers the question, and that’s thanks to RankBrain.
Suffice it to say from an SEO practitioner’s point of view, you just need to keep a very experimental approach to SEO and figure out what works by poking and prodding at the black box, and the black box is getting more and more opaque as time goes on.
So really, it’s not like a site owner can optimize RankBrain. Really, the focus should be on quality content, good links, and so on, rather than trying to somehow hack a totally opaque algorithm.SEOs have no real visibility into a search engine's algorithm because it's machine learning. It learns from itself, so you don't know what the signals that Google pays attention to. Click To Tweet
There are a couple things that I would say you can do because Google is so much better at understanding these search queries. For example, you can focus more on question-based queries like there are tools that are completely free like askthepublic.com. You can put in your primary keyword, and then it will give you a whole bunch of different questions based on who, what, where, when, and why.
It will give you a bunch of questions that are search queries that people type into Google based on that keyword, so you could target question-based search queries that you weren’t targeting before. You can start answering questions that you weren’t thinking about answering before that you’re just thinking about, “I’m trying to match this keyword to this page.” Now, you can sync a little bit more outside the box.
It makes sense. We’re just talking about Pubcon. At that one, I did a master class in neuromarketing, but I also did a shorter talk that was titled “The Neuroscience of SEO” which Brett Tabke, the organizer, surprised me with an email saying, “Hey, you’re doing this talk,” so okay, and I was initially stymied saying, “Okay. Well, what does neuroscience have to do with SEO?” and then I started thinking about it.
As we’ve been discussing, SEO has gone from this pure mechanical or mathematical manipulation of page content to something that’s a lot more nuanced that involves relevant links, authority links, social sharing, and user engagement, and some of those we haven’t really talked about, but all of those seem to be involved in the way pages are ranked, and so what that means is, or what that meant to me when I was thinking about this, is that the human factor is paramount now that you can’t just hack the algorithm anymore, and decode it, and start using that.
Bounce rate isn’t something that Google is paying attention to. They’re paying attention to dwell time, which is a very different metric.
Now, you have to hack the minds of your users. You have to hack the minds of searchers. You have to do that for people who you may want to interact with, or link to you, or it’s really become much more a process of psychology, and influence, and persuasion than that old mathematical manipulation, so would you agree with that or feel free to push back on that?
Yeah. No, I would agree with it. I would say you got to watch the right metrics though because some people are saying, “Well, bounce rate matters now because of user engagement. We have to engage the users. Otherwise, we’re going to suck in Google.” That’s true, but they’re watching the wrong things because bounce rate isn’t something that Google is paying attention to. They’re paying attention to dwell time, and those are very different metrics.
Dwell time is when let’s say as a user, you see a search result, you click on it, and you end up on the site and didn’t answer the question, so you hit the back button. Yeah, the bounce rate is lousy, but Google is not spying on you with their Google Analytics access or something. They’re just paying attention to dwell time, that is where the person hits the back button, and then clicks on a different search result, and then Google is able to measure the gap and time between those two clicks and say, “Oh, wow. This person probably didn’t get a good answer to their question, their query from this particular page because now, they’re right back at the search results clicking on something else.” Google does track the clicks on the search results, but they’re not spying on your Google Analytics and seeing what your bounce rate is. User engagement matters, but measure the right metrics.
User engagement matters, but measure the right metrics.
Right. Yeah. I recall back in the day, that was a few years ago when Google cracked down on all these really lousy content generation sites like eHow and others. How seemed to evade their net initially at least, and my non-expert conclusion on that was that they actually kept you on the site for a while because you’d get to one of their articles about how to install a ceiling fan, and it would be some ridiculous one paragraph of content like, “Unscrew the old fixture, and screw in the new fixture.”
You’d say, “Well, this is garbage,” but then you’d see a link right under that saying, “Detailed instructions of how to install a ceiling fan,” and that would take you to something else which was probably inadequate as well, but by the time you’d hit the fourth page and said, “Okay, this site is not really what I need to be looking at,” you already wasted a few minutes on the site and Google said, “Wow, that’s pretty good.” Yeah.
Yeah, so it’s like a voicemail maze. No, those are horrible, and that will come back to bite a site that’s applying that sort of methodology. They do that in part because it maximizes their monetization from ad revenue, so if you create let’s say a 30-item list, and you spread it out across 30 pages, and then make it into a slideshow, it’s just irritating as heck, but that’s a heck of a lot more ad impressions that they can sell because they’ve done that.
Oh, yeah. I hate those.
Google evaluates whether your page is built for adding value or gaming the user or search engine.
That’s very short-term, and Google is evaluating not just user engagement, but also using its own interpretation algorithms to understand whether your page is built for adding value, or for gaming the user or gaming the search engine, so play in a long game for sure.
Yeah, so we talked about user engagement. What about social media? That’s something that seems to be an item of controversy even among experts as to whether Facebook likes, or Twitter shares, or those kinds of metrics have any impact on ranking either directly or indirectly.
Yeah, so there is no direct signal there that Google uses. If you think about it like how would Google know all the different likes that are happening inside the Facebook ecosystem? It’s a closed ecosystem. The majority of Facebook pages or content within Facebook isn’t even in Google, right? It’s not exposed to Google bot, so how would you know if you’re Google, what’s being liked and what’s not being liked if that’s a walled garden for the most part? Also, it’s something that’s a lot easier gamed than links. It’s a lot easier to get likes than it is to get links. So they’re looking at Google’s signals that are not easily gamed, that have legitimacy to them. Social signals are not so reliable.
If you get a lot of social spread, you’ll get in front of more of the linkerati.
Yet, there’s this indirect thing that happens where if you get a lot of social spread like you get a lot of reach within a social network, then you’re going to get in front of a lot more of the linkerati. The linkerati are online influencers who have a lot of authority in the eyes of Google, a lot of link authority.
If you get in front of a lot of those folks and they decided to add a link to their site to blog about you, write a review about you, or whatever, that’s amazing, and social communities are fantastic for getting in front of the linkerati, especially when you’re talking about certain niche communities. You could even do ad campaigns as a way to get in front of those communities, right?
Facebook advertising can be very effective. You can laser target certain niche groups, audience segments, and get the word out about something really cool that deserves links. If you don’t have something link-worthy, you’re not going to go anywhere with it, but how do you get the initial word out on something that is link-worthy? Social media is like the first place to start.
Yeah, so that’s why there may be some apparent correlation like, “Gee, this article had 5,000 likes, and it’s ranking better than expected in Google.” It was probably not the likes that drove it, but it was perhaps some of the link effects just from the traffic and the exposure that those likes generated.
Right, right. Each algorithm like whether you’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever, they’re all very different from each other, so you have to think about like for example, I was writing a post for Facebook, and it was just like three paragraphs, and I was sharing a YouTube video that I found that Jonathan Fields presented at the Inbound Conference, and it was a fantastic presentation. I was really touched by it and inspired by it. I wanted to share it. I started down that road on Facebook. I wrote a few paragraphs, and I’m realizing, “Well, wait a second. This is going to get buried because the Facebook algorithm hates YouTube because they’re competitors. They’re nemesis, so if I really want this to get maximum reach, I need to find an authoritative site to post this three-paragraph write-up and the YouTube embed on, and then link to that or post that on my Facebook feed.”
It’s a different sort of thought process, understanding the underlying algorithm. In this case, Facebook EdgeRank algorithm and how it doesn’t like YouTube, so I, within a day, had 1,100 likes on that article because I posted it on The Huffington Post, so I abandoned the post I was writing on Facebook. I took those three paragraphs to turn them into five paragraphs, posted it to The Huffington Post with the YouTube embed, and then that’s what I submitted on Facebook. Before I even had a chance to submit it on my own Facebook, it had 1,100 likes, and then I submitted it like a day later on my Facebook page, and then I got an extra 400 likes.
I knew I was on the right track because of the likes and the engagement, the other engagement metrics, but just understanding what’s the reason behind the different decisions that the if-then statements that are baked into these algorithms. It’s really important because then you can use strategy instead of just being tactical all the time.
Each algorithm is very different from the other. To get maximum reach, find an authoritative site to post.
That makes a lot of sense definitely, and I think probably too, it’s important to emphasize that even if that Facebook sharing does not generate better Google rankings, it may still generate traffic to your site where then you have an opportunity to convert, assuming that you have some kind of a conversion objective on the site, so it’s still valuable traffic in its own way, but you shouldn’t necessarily expect it to get you at the top of Google. How would you suggest that folks consume The Art of SEO? It’s so massive. I’m doubting that most people would start at the very beginning and read it all the way through. If you had any feedback on that on how folks would use this?
Yeah. If you’re not like a techie, I would say start with chapter seven on content marketing and just get through that chapter because it’s not overly technical, and whatever your marketing strategy is, it will be influenced by that chapter, so you say, “Oh, wow. I didn’t think about it this way, or I could also leverage the content I’m already creating in a slightly different way so that it also benefits my SEO as well.” Right, or, “I could repackage a content piece that I was only going to do as an article, but I can do this now as repackage it like a SlideShare. I can repackage it as an infographic, as a viral video in these four or five different formats, and it’s the same content, just morphed a little bit, and then I’m going to get more SEO juice out of it than if I just had a one-off article.” I’d start there.
Great, so we’re just about out of time. Let me remind our listeners that we’re speaking with Stephan Spencer, SEO expert, entrepreneur, and co-author of The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization.
I also co-authored Social eCommerce. If you’re more interested in learning about social media and leveraging it for driving online sales, get that book instead and that’s only a few hundred pages, or if you’re interested in leveraging Google for market research and just being a better Google searcher, then my third book is Google Power Search and that’s a really easy read. That’s only 72 pages.Google is just getting better and better over time at understanding the intent of what you're searching for, so you don't have to be specific and precise about your search query. Click To Tweet
Great. We’ll have a text version of our conversation there too in a convenient PDF format. Stephan, thanks so much for being on the show.
Thanks for having me, Roger.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at RogerDooley.com.
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10 SEO Myths
- SEO is a subset of social media. There are plenty of intersections between SEO and social media. Still, SEO is no more a subset of social media marketing than public relations, customer service or media relations. Effective SEO and social media strategy can boost social network growth and facilitate link building. In this way, they are yin and yang but not super- or sub-ordinate to each other.
- SEO is a standalone activity. Many facets of web design, hosting, and so on can impact your organic results to more or lesser degrees. People tend to think that SEO sits in a silo, and other things can go on around it without influencing the work required to increase rankings.
- SEO is separate from SEM, social, etc. SEO is but one part of a larger overall marketing plan. It’s NOT the center, nor should it be. It remains a single tactic. Treating it separately and investing only in it is to run the race with blinders.
- SEO is a major, time-intensive, costly IT initiative. Again, this can be the case, but not necessarily. Typically, IT barriers slow the programs down, but they don’t have to. There are simple, cost-efficient technological workarounds: server modules, proxies, SaaS solutions, etc.
- Kicking off an SEO program is a slow, many months long process. This self-serving myth can buy the SEO firm or consultant a lot of time to keep you paying while they aren’t performing. “Be patient, just give it more time” can be a great stall tactic. This can be the case, but it doesn’t have to be. One can counter this tendency using automation and software solutions.
- Using a minimum of 40 tags per blog post helps to increase your ranking in search engines. Tags are not important in SEO. There is no need to use them if you’ve done the work to create user-friendly categories and subcategories. This was from a self-proclaimed marketing guru and SEO expert, if you can believe it.
- Google uses the bounce rate as a ranking signal. The bounce rate metric primarily reflects how well-targeted a traffic source or keyword is or isn’t for the destination page. It doesn’t say much about the overall quality of the site, and is too noisy to be used as a ranking signal unless it is part of the personalization feature.
- Any agency can truly offer SEO without including some form of link-building effort. Many agencies (perhaps the majority) claim to offer superior SEO and do not engage in link building. With links thought to account for more than 50% of the algorithm, link building is crucial!
- You can keep all your PageRank/link juice by not linking out. This may be conventional wisdom, but the math doesn’t work this way. While keeping most/all links internally can help increase the overall PageRank of a site, the way the original PageRank formula forces every site to give out link juice whether it does so explicitly or not.
- Having country-specific sites creates “duplicate content” issues in Google. Google is smart enough to present your .com.au site to Google Australia users and your .co.nz site to Google New Zealand users. Not using a ccTLD? Then set the geographic target setting in Google Webmaster Tools; that’s what it’s there for. Where’s the problem here?