Our Best Moments in SEO Podcasting!
The In Search SEO Podcast
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Summary of Episode 53: The Best Moments from The In Search SEO Podcast in 2019
From the nuances of E-A-T to when you should consider SEO automation to Fraggles to having a diverse professional background when doing SEO… these are our top 10 moments on The In Search SEO Podcast from 2019!
Before we get into the Top 10 interview moments on The In Search SEO Podcast, a big thanks needs to go out to you, the audience and listeners of this podcast. We have seen the podcast grow over the course of 2019 and it’s all because of you. We really appreciate you tuning in each and every week. It really means a lot to us. Thank you very much.
We would also like to thank this year’s co-hosts, Kim Ragones and Sapir Karabello. They do way more than you know. Also, a big shout out to the man behind the scenes who does all the editing, Levi Genesove!
One more thing before we start. We didn’t choose these top 10 as the best things that came out of the podcast in 2019. It’s not like that. Mordy chose these top 10 moments as either because they were something that stuck out as a novel and tangible concept, because the content fit the format of this kind of episode, or there was an interesting background story to the question, etc.
This Top 10 list is not a hierarchy of awesomeness as there are many episodes not on this list that we recommend you listen to. We would be remiss if we did not mention our interview with Jason Barnard on the underpinnings of structured data or the episode featuring Aleyda Sodis who spoke about how to be an SEO consultant. We can’t forget Stephan Spencer, who took us to a spiritual place in his understanding of how to grow an SEO team. A personal favorite of Mordy’s that wasn’t included in the Top 10 was with Kameron Jenkins where they spoke about the full-stack content writer that can handle everything and our interview with Craig Campbell on black hat SEO.
Here, in no sequential order by date, importance, or otherwise are the best moments from The In Search SEO Podcast in 2019!
1. Andrew Optimisey: Big Brand Sense of Security on the SERP
Mordy: So, today we’re going to talk about brands. Specifically, what small-sized and medium-sized brands can do to stay competitive on the SERP.
Where I’m coming from is that Google has some significant bad press to deal with whether it be privacy concerns, fake news, etc. For Google, big brands are safe. Google knows that for larger brands whatever content they put out is going to be safe in that it’s accurate and authoritative. With that premise in mind what “esteem” do big brands hold in the eyes of Google these days? Has their stock gone up? Why/why not?
Andrew: Certainly, I understand that smaller businesses can feel overwhelmed by the bigger brands wondering how can they ever beat them on the SERP. I agree that Google is favoring the big sites, but my take is that Google hates being wrong. So the reason they favor big brands is that it’s a safer bet for Google. Most people are happy with these big brands on the SERP as they have brand familiarity. Some SEOs say, “The new keyword is brand.” People have to know who you are before you pop up in the search results. If users see famous brands on the SERP why would they choose you?
Listen to the full interview with Andrew Optimisey
2. Barry Schwartz: On Negativity in the SEO World
Mordy: Does it ever get to you… You are so calm and so patient and good-natured… but underneath it all does “it” get to you? What I mean is you have 100s of people, like this yutz right here, who send you all sorts of SERP feature updates (most of which are old), you have people critiquing you for nonsense, you have all sorts of misconceptions and so forth… does it get to you?
Barry: Yeah, I do try to moderate them, more now these days. I don’t run when people attack me, but when people attack other personalities and other people by saying childish things, calling people names and making fun of people, that’s just childish, right? But in general, it really doesn’t get to me. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve become numb to it all. None of this stuff bothers me at all. In fact, so much so that I kind of enjoy trolling the trolls.
Listen to the full interview with Barry Schwartz
3. Cindy Krum: What are Fraggles?
[Editor’s note: Google has said that they do not index content in the manner described below. Still, the idea is interesting and the clip is a fun one!]
Cindy: Before we go I want to talk about fraggles. I’ve been noticing more ‘jump links’ in the search results where Google will have a blue link title tag and underneath it will say “Jump To” and in the meta description it will show the piece that answers your question and not the meta description itself. So fraggle is a word I made up that takes fragment and handle and puts them together. So now Google can single out your content and what it wants to index. I think mobile-first indexing is entity-first indexing but entities don’t need URLs so they can just take fraggles. Now imagine the Google crawler crawling around taking just fraggles. It crawls the same, but differently. So they might save the URL with a location modifier because it jumps straight to it on the page. This also includes API indexing and database indexing where these things don’t have URLs. They have a unique locator in the file so they can get just what they want and index that to the Knowledge Graphs and leave the rest.
Mordy: So this is similar to Google using AMP URLs instead of Featured Snippets.
Cindy: Exactly. That is an illustration of how fraggles work. That highlighting isn’t from the AMP page. So what they do when it’s not a Google page in the fraggle is they create a handle in their brain about scrolling and scroll straight to it. And sometimes there are jump links on the page but they don’t have to be.
Listen to the full interview with Cindy Krum
4. Alli Berry: Defining E-A-T
Mordy: Neat! Let’s start off a bit general, how do you go about creating expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T)? What are some “musts?”
Alli: It’s funny. I feel EAT is kind of squishy as when you create expertise you’re creating authoritativeness and trust at the same time. They’re all related. What matters in all three is having experts creating your content or at least involved in your content process. People who know what they’re talking about will create better content than your SEO content marketing team who is trying to learn finance.
For authoritativeness, what matters is showing your expertise. Having really good bio pages for all of your content creators. Having a really strong About page that says who you are, what you are about, and why people should trust you. You can also add if your company won awards, or if your employees won awards, or customer testimonials.
From a trustworthy perspective, making sure your site is secure is a no-brainer. Having really good quality links is a huge trust component if other sources are linking to you as an expert. And having error-free content goes a long way.
Mordy: Wow, thank you. I think that’s the first time I had someone break down each component of E-A-T.
Listen to the full interview with Alli Berry
5. Igal Stolpner: On Qualitative Competitor Analysis
Mordy: From speaking on quantity I want to jump to quality.
Let me ask, we spend a lot of time talking about identifying competitors from a quantitative perspective. So and so sells more than I do or such and such site ranks higher than I do. And we have all sorts of tools to help us identify our competitors from a quantitative perspective. However, I feel this is a big problem. It’s very easy to rely on a tool to point out your competition from a quantitative perspective, but how do you pull out your competitors from a qualitative perspective?
That is, how do you qualify the “threat level” of a competitor at scale? How do you ascertain the level of potential problems a competitor may cause you at scale? For example, a tool can tell you who is ranking above you, but it can’t really tell you if the traffic that site earns would have really gone to you had you ranked higher as it’s entirely possible that your site would not meet user needs despite ranking higher on the SERP.
Or, just to offer another example, a site may rank well ahead of you, but have a horrible UX that causes users to bounce. Why dedicate so much to outdoing a site that isn’t actually stealing any of your business?!
How do you look at competitor analysis from a qualitative perspective?
Igal: First, we have to look at how do SEO tools identify competitors. These tools don’t know everything, they just see what’s on the SERP. So if these websites are repeatedly seen next to mine then they are more likely to be my competitors. Very often this strategy works or at least it’s a great starting point, but you have to do more research.
Very often I’ll see SEOs only look at the tools without doing more research like registering to the competitor’s site, reading their content, buying from the site, or even playing around to see their true features and true value.
And you’re right in what you said. You may rank higher but is that your main business goal? In the end, it’s all about the business goals. This is where it starts. You have to connect the SEO competitors from a SERP perspective to what makes sense for your business.
By the way, you mentioned UX, and I agree it’s something that’s being overlooked in search. And I’m not talking about whether a button is orange or green, bigger or smaller. It’s about the whole experience. As SEOs, we do understand this as it is part of who we are, but we need to look a little deeper. Maybe we should sit with the product team and understand the features better. Ask yourself, “Is that truly an opportunity or is this even a threat?”
And think of how many times you see a website you think is your competitor, but your company’s board of directors don’t even care about this website. You need to connect with others in your business to hold these things together.
Listen to the full interview with Igal Stolpner
6. Mark Traphagen: How a Diverse Professional Background Benefits Your SEO Practices
Mordy: I’m really thrilled that you’re here. So I heard a rumor that you used to teach?
Mark: Yes, I was a classroom teacher for over 15 years.
Mordy: Wow. I used to be a teacher for 3 years. It was another lifetime ago.
Mark: Do you feel that was good preparation for what you do now?
Mordy: 100%. What I do here is educate. It’s all about breaking down complex information so that it’s accessible to people.
Mark: I feel exactly the same way. The classroom training and having to be on every day not only helps with things like speaking at conferences and writing content but also with interacting with clients.
Mordy: Yeah, my educational background has done wonders with who I am now. I still view myself as a teacher. It’s great how we can take what we learned as teachers and bring it to the SEO world.
Listen to the full interview with Mark Traphagen
7. Liraz Postan: Which KPIs Should You Focus on?
Mordy: So let’s talk about metrics. There are so many KPIs out there to determine how your content is doing. When looking at content marketing what KPIs do you consider to be vanity metrics?
Liraz: What I look for is raw pages. This is how I know my content performs. Then I look at downloads or registered users, any type of conversion that shows how my content is doing. I would say the number of engagements is a vanity metric.
Mordy: How do you separate out metrics like bounce rate, time on page, etc. when dealing with various types of content as they don’t equally apply to each content category? For example, if your webpage is a short paragraph then the time on page will be much less then let’s say a medical article.
Liraz: First I group different types of content and then compare the metrics for each one. For example, some content should have a higher bounce rate and some more interactive content should have more engagement. So let’s say I have an interactive quiz inside my blog post I will see the analytics of more people on the site and engaged, but when it comes to other blog posts they will be judged by other metrics and I try to group them in my reporting.
Listen to the full interview with Liraz Postan
8. Carolyn Lyden: Using a Content Matrix for Content Success!
Mordy: When I used to teach there was this idea of “backwards” planning. You start with the test and the questions you want the students to be able to answer and only then create “content” (i.e., lesson plans) to ensure the lessons hit on those questions. This, of course, sounds like a great idea when creating a content pillar. Except when creating a “teaching unit” the process often leads to a stifling of creativity and to a certain amount of inflexibility. Obviously, having an end goal in mind is crucial, but to what extent should you “backwards” plan when developing a content pillar? How effective is it to first think about what channels you want to “hit” and with what sort of content? Are there are any pitfalls to be careful of when doing so?
Carolyn: In my previous job the SEO department was separate from the content department and this happened all the time. The SEO department would tell us, “You need to hit these bullet points. You need keywords in your titles. And this and that.” But the content team was saying, “We want freedom! We need to be creative! You’re stifling us!” So we had to find a way to meet in the middle where the SEO boxes were checked but the content team felt that they had the freedom and was not just transcribing what the SEO team wanted. One way we found middle ground was with the content matrix. As I said earlier, every quarter we would have a separate theme that targets specific groups and for each of those groups we will come up with a bunch of pain points. And we’ll go and ask people about their actual pain points so as to know what actually resonates with people. So now we have a goal of showing these users how our product/service solves these pain points. With that in mind, we will create a pillar for each individual target audience. Then line out the pain points in rows where in a spreadsheet the pillars will be the columns and the pain points the rows. Once you have this set up you can now start figuring out how to answer these pain points. And from there you can be as creative as you want.
Listen to the full interview with Carolyn Lyden
9. Nati Elimelech: When Should You Consider SEO Automation?
Mordy: At what point do you weigh in the cost of a tool versus the time it saves you?
Nati: How are you with numbers? Do you like math?
Mordy: I have a calculator so go ahead.
Nati: This might surprise you. Let’s calculate how much time menial tasks really take. Let’s talk about testing page speed scores (and we’ll assume it matters as much as people think it does). So Mordy, how long do you think it will take to test page speed?
Mordy: A couple of seconds.
Nati: Ah, but in actuality, it takes longer. I can tell you that everyone thinks that a lot of tasks take only 5-10 minutes. People think that a task takes less time than they actually do. It’s called the Planning Fallacy.
Let’s breakdown what you need to do when testing page speed score. We think it’s only one action, but when broken down it’s really a lot of smaller actions. What’s the first step in the process?
Mordy: Load the URL into the tool.
Nati: Right, but the first step is to open a tool like Google Drive and get the URL you need to monitor. You need to find the file, find the URL on the list, and that can be two minutes. Next, you have to open the Page Speed Insight tool, paste the URL, and start the audit. An audit can take from 30 seconds to over a minute. And all that can take let’s say another two-three minutes. Next, you get the score and record it. Then based on the score you have to do something. Let’s say if it’s less than 65 on mobile, you will have someone from the tech team have a look. To start that, you will need to send the tech person an email, or set up a task on your project management system, and assign it to the correct person. And that step can take about seven minutes. So to sum up, that’s 20 minutes per URL. In the end, if you want to monitor 100 URLs a week, that’s 8,000 minutes of work time per month or over 130 hours! That’s almost a fulltime job! In our agency, we monitor thousands of URLs.
If you do it right, scale doesn’t matter. You can analyze a hundred, or a thousand URLs the same time it takes to analyze just one. That’s the point of SEO automation in my opinion.
Listen to the full interview with Nati Elimelech
10. Greg Gifford: What Image Size Should You Use for Google Posts?
Mordy: There’s been a lot of talk about what images and image sizes work best for Google Posts. I myself have heard at least 3 different recommendations on it. Can you settle this once and for all? What sized images should you use in Google Posts?
Greg: See, the problem is when Posts first came out they had a different dimension size. So a lot of people immediately made videos and blog posts saying “this” is the size and no one really updated it since. We did a lot of testing after it was changed and the ideal size now is 1200×900 pixels. That’s the best size that will fill the window and is the closest to what will appear so you can have a little more control over what’s visible after it’s cropped.
Listen to the full interview with Greg Gifford
11. Niki Mosier: What Local SERP Features Are We Glossing Over?
Mordy: Can you share another element within Google’s local SERP features that businesses fail to capitalize on? For example, one that stands out to me is events. Department stores like Macy’s do a great job here: if they have a makeup artist coming in they list it as an event or if they’re having a cologne sampling they are listed as events.
Because there are so many different elements within the local features what are businesses missing the boat on?
Niki: Yeah, you really hit the nail on the head with events. I and some other people on Twitter had trouble with events getting to populate with event schema just because there are so many nuances to it. I’m definitely finding that things like Eventbrite and MeetUp are pulling into the listing pretty automatically which is nice. And there’s been a recent post on Search Engine Land that anyone can post an event to a Google My Business listing from the Contributor Dashboard (Android only) and that’s a little scary.
Videos are definitely underused in Google My Business and Google loves videos being displayed in the SERP especially videos from YouTube showing up in the search results. Putting video on your Google My Business Listing is a great way to give users a full idea of what they’re going to experience when they walk through your door so it’s a great win-win.
And the Products and Services Menu I think that’s pretty underused. Companies like Home Depot and REI do a really great job of adding in their product feed which I believe can come in through the API and pull in their products into the Google My Business listing on mobile. But looking at Home Service businesses and I think there’s a real opportunity to get more of that information out in front of users. Obviously, restaurants do a good job having their menu In the listing, but for service menus I feel there’s an opportunity to utilize it more fully.
Listen to the full interview with Niki Mosier
Tune in next January 7th for a new episode of The In Search SEO Podcast!