Why old SEO playbook isn't enough during COVID 19?

An Interview with Dave Davies

Welcome to E-Coffee with Experts, an interview series where we discuss all things online marketing with the best minds in the business.

In this episode, Dawood catches up with SEO expert, Dave Davies.

Dave is the CEO, Beanstalk Internet Marketing and he shares with us his opinions about shifting marketing strategy during COVID crisis. He also shares his expertise in executing SEO projects, link building, and more.

Read this insightful conversation and stay tuned for the next steaming cup of E-Coffee.

I’m making you more money than I cost you, you will keep giving me more money to make you more of that more money.

Dave Davies, CEO
Beanstalk Internet Marketing
Hello everyone, how's it going? Today, we have with us Dave Davies, CEO, Beanstalk Internet Marketing. Hello, Dave, hope you are well. Dave, you know, I really want to dive directly into SEO and start discussing with you. But before that, it would be great if you could introduce yourself and the work you're doing at your agency.

Perfect. My name is Dave Davies. We focus on organic search and paid search. Specifically, my passion is on the technical SEO side and paid search because both are easily measurable and fast. Those are the things that I personally really enjoy doing when I get to do them.

So, I’m looking forward to getting into some of the other areas. I’m sure we’ll be chatting about dealing with the crisis, which we’re all sort of in the middle of and stuff like that and sort of the strategies involved with those. So, I’ve been looking forward to this interview for the last few days while I knew it was coming out. So, thanks for having me and looking forward to diving in.

Well, lovely to have you, man. I have been looking forward to this, as well. In fact, I kind of did some research and had some questions in mind that I really want to get information from you. But yeah, let's dive deep. Dave comes with 19 years of experience. He is a contributor at Search Engine Journal and also does a podcast. We will come to the podcast later because I want to learn a few tips from you. But, talking about COVID, how do you see that changing the SEO space?

I try to view for myself and maybe I’m lucky because our industry is a little bit different than some. But I try and view it for myself and for clients as somebody has to win. Like, I hate to sound like an opportunist. But, for people, I understand if you’re sort of bootstrapping it if you have no reserves right now, it’s a miserable time. There’s little you can do unless you have the knowledge to do it yourself. So if you were a business owner not able to do their own SEO and no money, this time sucks like it is called a spade a spade. There’s not a lot to do then, do a lot of reading, try and educate yourself and do what you can.

But for businesses that do have some revenue, that have a dev team, an SEO team either internally or who have agencies, I know we’re working with our clients on that too. Basically, the way I’m viewing it and thankfully so far a lot of our clients is market shares on sale. Everybody is cutting back everything right now. So, if you’re the one that doesn’t, then you come out ahead.

I like to use the analogy, but it’s not even an analogy. Just go back in history in 1929 – The Great Depression hit. There were two major cereal manufacturers at the time. There was Kellogg’s and Post. The Post had become the sort of dominant, but they were right on the heels of Kellogg’s. They were catching up fast, they were capturing market share incredibly rapidly. The Great Depression hit- Post half their advertising budget and Kellogg’s doubled theirs. In 1933, FDR was sitting down to his fireside chat to sort of combination deep into depression, Kellogg’s is posting 30% revenue gains and has not been number one in market share since 1929.

So the strategy work market share went on sale. They burst into radio, start doing massive advertising and it made them basically untouchable.

And that’s sort of the opportunity that I look at for a lot of people. I have a lot of peers in the SEO space who have got more time because they can’t leave home. They’ve also lost clients, and they’re dropping their service rates. People are abandoning Google ads, Facebook ads, the clicks are cheaper. Now it’s your shot to grab stuff while it’s cheap. Thankfully, I’ve got a lot of clients who are taking the opportunities here, some have left and I don’t blame them. If you don’t have the money, you’ve got to eat first. But, if you’ve already got that covered, and you can buy that market share, you can look to three years ahead from now and go what market share do I want two or three years from now. Right now it’s on sale. So buy it now and the reward will come in a couple of years.

Absolutely. Like you said, the clicks are cheaper. SEO will take its time, it's good to be first in that race, but create a pipeline for yourself if you have the money. Right?

Well, indeed. We’ve got a lot of clients in travel obviously- a really hard hit sector right now. But at the same time, you made a great point there, SEO takes time. I can talk about paid search. You turn that on and off, that’s just give me five minutes and we’ve got some ads running and you’ve got your visibility. SEO takes a longer time and there are so many opportunities.

I’ll speak to travel here, but it applies pretty much universally. There’s a lot of content and link building opportunities available for people who just think. If you’re in travel, and we’ve got a pandemic, the content opportunities and link building opportunities are outstanding right now and from high-level sources. We can acquire links on some great places right now, this won’t repeat itself. You have the opportunity that you’re not going to reap the benefits for a little while, but you’ve got opportunities right now that you’re never going to have again at this volume, speed and ease. I talked about travel here, but it exists in all sectors because everything’s calmed down. If you’re the person producing great content, if you’re the person out there building links, or hiring a good link building company, you’re going to get a lot more done and probably cheaper, or at least faster, then you’d be able to do it otherwise.

Absolutely. Following up on that, I do a lot of link building myself and like you said, I have experienced this, that link building is faster, cheaper. We were able to get better links done comparatively during these times, Even my clients who have the money, who were investing in SEO, I told them that it's time to push the paddle on the link building side as well because I think I can do a great job to you. And as an agency, why not pass on that value to your clients as well during these times.

I love that you said that. I have nothing to really add to it other than to go. I think it’s important as agencies to sort of go. Yeah, I have advantages right now, so let’s pass some of them. It’s okay to profit a little bit more where you can because you probably lost clients who are not speaking to you personally or all agencies. But if you’re getting stuff done twice as fast, charge them 50% or charge up 75%. Give them a bit of a deal to get more done and you can take a little more profit for yourself and everybody comes out of this a winner.

Absolutely. Also, I think the consumer behavior during these times; people are home, they're consuming more content. So, a very good time to create high-quality content and then testing of long-form content versus visual content. I think these are times where you can actually do all of that which normally you're not able to. What are your thoughts?

I think that’s a great point. I don’t watch a lot of YouTube videos, but I’ve got two kids, they’re 20 and 22. So they’re in like a pretty good demographic for a lot of people. They don’t watch Netflix, I watched Netflix, they gravitate to YouTube. The consumption there is incredibly high. I don’t watch it because I work on it too much and by the time I’m done with work, I don’t wish to consume anything on that.

But yeah, you hit the nail on the head. There’s so much media being consumed right now and I think that’s part of why the clicks are cheap. The ads are also showing more often because people are consuming a lot of video content.

For like YouTube,- when did we go from30 minutes to like 4 hours? All those videos still need ads. So not only do we have people pulling out of advertising, but we have this sort of the ads that are showing being spread out where one person would have taken 30 minutes now they might be taking 40 minutes. We’re still dealing with a 33% increase in the number of clicks being shown every day to each person and over 7 billion people, and that’s a lot.

Absolutely. In fact, you're talking about travel. I don't remember who actually did this. I saw an ad recently of a hotel where the ad was like somebody having popcorn at home, and the content said that you stay home, stay safe, and we are here. A very beautiful ad to have your brand in people's mind, during these times even though you're not doing much business.

Well, I think you’re right. As far as I’m concerned, the best ad I’ve seen come out, Subarus done a couple. I’m sort of collecting my favorite ads in the COVID time to sort of write a piece- here’s how to prep for next time. But yeah, that’s my favorite ad so far because of the strength that shows and the message of we’re hearing good times and bad. So, you hit it. I love that. You’ve seen that ad too, and it is absolutely my favorite.

Well, Dave, talking about, doing a strategy or a marketing campaign for clients, when you sit with a client or you plan that strategy. How would you go about planning the budget across platforms? SEO versus PPC?

That’s a great point. The first thing I always look at is their budget- how much do they have both for us internally, but also, how much will you give to Google? I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone back going, I need more money, but it’s not for me. I want to give it to somebody who needs it a lot less than I do. But I do want you to give it to Google or Zuckerberg, right? Like if one of these people needs money.

Google wants us to be there, so many like no zero positions, Google ads, I mean.

And it’s such a funny thing and maybe position zero is its own thing since they’ve now removed having a page one list. Well, no, having that same URL appear on page one is the featured snippet and now you can’t quite do that. But we can talk about that.

But the first place I start is where are you now and how fast you need money. I don’t want to build them a keyword or like an organic keyword strategy that is going to take two or three years.

I’ve got a client starting right now where I’m going not to earn nearly as much here, but I’m going to start you out on paid search. We’re going to get that working, we’re going to do some keyword testing, and we’re going to put some money in the bank. So let’s get you earning money. Because I found every client I’ve ever encountered, if I’m making you more money than I cost you, you will keep giving me more money to make you more of that more money.

So if I can go, here’s your paid search, it’s generating enough money to pay for the organic campaign. So you’re gonna level off and you’re going to be even. I’m paying for you to get to the next stage through this campaign or start off with a really low level. Here’s the work that your devs can be doing while I’m working on your paid search or I’m working on these, checking, dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on some of the just obvious easy wins on the organic side.

Then you get into the link building side and explain to them that this doesn’t happen fast. We’re going to be doing work right now that isn’t gonna pay off for months, sometimes years, if it’s towards the biggest keywords, they’re trying to target in their industry. Like, your competitor has 5000 great links and you have eight, It’s going to take us a while. But you’re a really good company, so let’s come up with a keyword strategy that captures use and converts it into traffic. In the meantime, let’s come up with a content strategy that hopefully will acquire some links by itself because it’s good content and fills all the EAT category.

Also, coming up with each thing on its own, because we do have clients that are major brands. We can basically pick phrases, and as long as we do a really good job with it, we’re gonna rank for it.

Whereas we’ve got clients where we’re fighting tooth and nail, and if we did a featured snippet, was that a good idea? Because now we lost that number two ranking. Was its click-through rate better? Did it really matter? Because it was informational, did it impact conversions? Or did it add to branding? So when they are looking up a conversion phrase, they saw you as a featured snippet. Now you’re there for the supplemental phrase in a conversion-oriented way, a lot of odd things have to be calculated into where they are.

Absolutely. For small businesses, it's pure numbers. You get the PPC going, get some money in the bank. Also, we get to know the converting keywords, sometimes even for SEO, it's not only keywords, where there’s volume, sometimes the revenue keywords or value keywords are long tail. Definitely for a lot of agencies, working with local clients starting off with PPC, if the client is not with deep pockets has always worked as a good strategy.

Well, I think that’s great. I like to use the analogy with paid search, you can adjust like you’re a speedboat. With SEO, you’re like an aircraft carrier; once this thing gets going, you better know where you’re going by the end because it is really hard to make a U-turn in one of those things. If you can afford to do a little light testing on paid search, do it. It’s gonna cost.

I’ve run campaigns where we do testing, and it was never to make money. It’s actually to lose money fast and find out what works, stop that campaign and move to organic.

Well, Dave, what does your SEO process look like?

That does vary a little bit by the client.
The first things that we’re going to be tackling are technical and getting a good solid, sort of move forward on their link strategy, almost as a sort of global rule. The reason for that is links take a long time to start carrying weight. So, get started on those earlier, certainly in the citations. When I say links, I actually say external signals because I’m counting Google My Business and all that sort of stuff in that pocket.

Then the technical is, I can get a good solid feel for what is their real starting point. If their page speed is coming in at 21, their mobile experience is a nightmare; I don’t really know how they rank yet. So let’s get all of those I’s dotted and T’s crossed, and then see where they’re ranking after that. Those on-site changes tend to take hold in weeks, not much. So, send search console, request indexing, get it crawled, wait about a week, and you’re probably going to see roughly where it is unless you’re changing internal linking structure or something like that. Even then, it’s usually like four to six weeks.

Pushing forward, it’d become an issue of prioritization. By that, it’s funny because I mentioned link building and in link building, I also count content creation but not for content creation sake where you may have to come up with a content creation strategy. If you have a bunch of crappy content, building links is hard. But then links might require some good content because it’s easier to build links in an industry built to this content. We’ve got a travel client, but they happen to get a lot of wedding stuff. Weddings are easy to build links to, so we built a wedding section because they host a lot of weddings and their properties and stuff.

Content building was early in that process and we built a lot of great content, we built infographics. Now we’re pushing those out and around, but it was all to do link building. It does get blurred at that, but once that ball is rolling, that’s when we circle back and go. Let’s build the on-page content; we want to rank for conversions, sort of the conversion optimization. Conversion SEO is kind of the middle ground stuff where I start with links and technical.

Now we move on to the conversion queries because we’re building that strength to know where I’m now realizing that with the right technical, I’ve got queries sitting in x number position. Let’s start there, let’s push those up, get those moved up onto the first page, get some traffic driving in there. If nothing else, you’re making the client happy because they can see some progress which is part of my job is to keep my company doing well. That’s one of the primary ones as a pleasant byproduct. They need to make clients’ companies do well as well. So, you find your targets, move that level forward and then come back into conversion optimization, remarketing, once you actually got that traffic.

Absolutely. I believe in the same strategy. Now if out of the 100 pages, you rank on 12th or 13th position, then what is your process to fix the page by working on its content, outline or structure such that it’s rankings move up?

There’s a couple easy go to’s. I’ll list some of my favorite ones because they’re free. So even if somebody’s sitting at home right now, going I can’t invest in SEO, they’ve been hit by this pandemic and businesses have collapsed. Here’s some things they can do. My biggest focus on SEO right now has to do with and I won’t get into it just because it might go above some of the readers, but it’s getting into entities right.

But entities at their core are based on intent. I’ll take a real-life example and tie it back to SEO. There’s a client in real estate, New York. You’ve got these five boroughs in New York. Those are each that would be called an entity. You can think of it as a noun, person, place, thing. We’ve got Manhattan. Would a site with a ranking page for New York real estate have the word Manhattan in it? Well, of course, it would. It naturally is going to include all these. Maybe not on that page, probably on the ranking page, but if not on the ranking page, it certainly would on the site itself.

So connecting all those entities, to simplify it for readers, what would I do with that? Think of it as an intent. What are all the things I could possibly want when I’m running a query? I think one of the biggest lessons I had to learn, I started early, so we didn’t have to learn it, then we could just jam keywords in and we were good to go and then build a network of sites and link them all together. It was a bit of a black hat in my early days, but I was an affiliate marketer. So it was like the Wild West back then. But now we have to think of it more in today’s era as the user isn’t mine.

When I and we all have a real difficulty, myself included in remembering that when somebody is searching for blue widgets, they’re Google’s user, they’re not my user. Google’s going to lend them to me, and if I prove that I can play nice with them, I can serve that user well, then I’m going to be rewarded for that. We won’t get into whether CTR is a ranking factor or something it’s not, but it gets more complicated than that.

But if we remember that it’s Google’s user, then what we need to do is think about what intents does that user have. So when they’re searching for blue widgets, they might be looking to buy blue widgets, they might be a high school student researching blue widgets, they might be a marketing student going ‘Why does Dave Davies keep using blue widgets as a marketing example?’ These could be a variety of different intent.

Go to the free tools to get to the question. My favorite place to start is the search result. Look at some key queries that you would be targeting. What are the people also asked at the bottom? Are they showing videos? That’s telling me people like a variety of formats, whether your video, whether your people, whether that helps your conversion is irrelevant? It’s not your user, it’s Google’s user. So, do they want video? Because I’ll bet, you want to be the video if they do, even if that’s not how you convert people. Do they show Twitter? How’s your Twitter profile looking? Look through the knowledge panel, find out what other entities they’re referencing there. Are they showing other websites? Are they showing other people? Can you get one of those people to be an author of a piece on your site?

Those sorts of things to pull in all of the various intents on to your website and go.

And so that’s sort of where that started. There are some great tools for monitoring. A lot of them get into what can be pretty pricey, they’re not universally applicable, but one that’s a pretty low barrier to entry is SEMrush, which I do like on its ranking side for this purpose. You can put in a bunch of competitors and go where they are ranking. I’m going to put in all the keywords, not just that I want to target, but all the keywords about what I want to target. Put them all in there, see who’s ranking, look at all the keywords they’re looking for. Use a supplemental tool like SpyFu or Ahrefs, and look at all the different ranking or the keywords they’re ranking for and go. Why does that help them rank for the keyword phrases that I want to target for my conversions? Because at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. But what does that inform me about, what I’m looking at, what I want to rank about? And then start building that content into your existing pages, or you might have to bite the bullet and either hire a good copywriter or build it yourself. That’s going to support your EAT anyway.

In addition to the tools, what I find useful is to see the top 10 for a particular keyword. The top 10 pages along with the intent and the type of the page. Whether it's an infographic or service page or homepage, keeping the outliers aside. See the average word count on all those pages, see the different words, how many times they have been used. I think using all these strategies is sensible because it's already there. Google is already considering those 10 pages with all of that information. So, you know, just use it smartly, and it definitely helps plan the content nicely.

Well, I think that’s a really good point. If we remember then an algorithm is math. A mathematical formula doesn’t favor me or you. It just happens to produce a certain set of results. You bring up the number of words on a page or the instances of using keywords, a hotly debated topic in our industry, keyword density which is fine. There was once a time I could go; it’s 3.5. I actually had a client and, I went, let’s pull the top 10. I go take the bottom and top two out and then we’re going to average the middle six. I sat down with a client, just pulled it up, gave a phrase 3.49, it was just 3.5. That’s what it was. It’s a lot more relaxed now because Google’s understanding of language has gotten more. But zero is too low and 100 is too high. So there’s going to be something in the middle that reinforces that you are relevant for a topic, whether we call it keyword density, we call it intent, It’s the same kind of thing.

So you’re right, how are you using words? What other words would you use, it would be considered synonyms or highly related. Those sort of issues are incredibly powerful. One just to make sure we get to it, it’s not really good for intense sort of stuff. But it is and I’m sure you’ve used it to Screaming Frog because you’d have a free version with 500 URLs, so I’d be remiss not to go, no matter what your budget. It’s cheap if you want to run it, you know forever it’s like 150 pounds. It is pounds. It just crawls sites and tells you what’s broken on your site.

But if you formulate that there’s a gentleman named Patrick Stox who now works for IBM, but I don’t believe he did at the time. He wrote a great article. You can look it up on Screaming Frog and a tool called Gephi. It lets you map how the page rank is flowing through your site using the original page rank formulas which are not being used today. It gives you a good idea, and you can sort of pull in some of your analytic data and go. Let’s size these pages on my site by the sort of traffic coming into them or whatnot and then see how the page rank is co-related to traffic. It gets a really nice visual as an agency person. It lets you produce some really neat pictures to pass off to prospective clients. Say, here’s a really good visual of what we just accomplished for you and on the traffic and how the page rank is flowing to help them get the buy-in.

As an agency or as an in house SEO, that’s one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered is just getting the client to let you do your job. We have a lot of clients and right now we’re very blessed that most of our clients will let us sort of do what we want. But that’s because most of them have been with us long enough to go. They trust us. We’ll pull in some metrics using Tag Manager and go nobody clicks that button. So I know you like that button there, but nobody clicked it, we can look in your analytics and see the events and go, it doesn’t matter so, let’s get rid of it and improve your PageRank flow through your site. Anyway, I can go off on tangents on tools forever.

Well, speaking about EAT, how do you leverage EAT to your advantage for SEO? The best practices. It could be great if you spend some time on that.

That’s a great one. It’s actually funny because I mentioned SEMrush and I was just on a webinar yesterday with SEM rush on EAT, specifically, it was a four-hour thing. I only did one hour, God thank goodness! But EAT is incredibly powerful, and it’s an area that I can measure. I’m a more technical sort of person so I can measure stuff and that’s what I do. My wife and business partner, thankfully, is a UX person.

You build pretty things and make sure people like stuff. I will just measure how that works after the fact. But so I’ll be speaking about it from a more technical pragmatic standpoint. One of the most important things about EAT, I think for people who might not be in the SEO industry to understand is, it’s not an algorithm. We think EAT is an algorithm; it’s not. The reference to EAT is in the quality raters guidelines by Google, which I’m once again, about to write an article on them because I got to read those again. It’s been like a year and I should probably familiarize myself with them. But the quality raters guidelines are given to human beings who are hired to judge websites by Google. Now they don’t adjust rankings. They can’t impact rankings, but they can say, was this site good or bad on a scale of like basically horrible to an incredibly high-value site. That’s where EAT gets defined because they go to very high-value sites or even a high-value site will have expertise, authority and trust.

Now, what it means for a medical query is different than it means for a cat gift query. But the desire at the end is to have these things. One of the things that I think is misunderstood by people coming in who aren’t SEOs, who aren’t in the industry and sort of go-‘ I know where it comes from, I either read the guidelines, or I’ve read a number of articles on them.’ It’s not actually a formula, it guides the formula. Google sends a bunch of machine learning systems over all this data and what looks like the ones that these Raiders did. Other formats of their algorithm take the principles of EAT, but only because human beings have sat there and gone this is what it looks like. So then they mathematically come in after the fact and look at what functions of that site. So John Hopkins would get a good EAT for medicine but would get a horrible score for cat gifts. It just that’s how this would sort of work out.

So when we go in, we can look at expertise. The unique thing about expertise is it deals with the content creator only. That specific piece, that specific query, that ranking page, it’s A and T both relate to the site as a whole, but the E only relates to that one piece and the one content creator. Now, whether that content creator is IBM as an entity or Dave Davies as a human being author on Search Engine Journal, that expertise is put to that specific piece. For expertise, you would look at how knowledgeable this person is based on all of the different factors. How knowledgeable is Dave on SEO? We’ll look at the other places we see Dave Davies. Now, unfortunately, I got the singer. The Kinks also competing for my name; hopefully, they can think and figure us out.

The A and the T both relate to the site as a larger sort of hole. There’s a lot of blur between all those aspects. Like you look at expertise, what’s the difference between expertise and trust? It’s if I ever I’m an expert, I am trusted but just because I’m trusted doesn’t mean I’m an expert. You can get those individual things but some of the things they list specifically you use as an example, but it’s hard to say, here’s what you should do. Because expertise is different for cat gifts and it is for medical information, your money or your life sites. But some examples would be if you’re an expert in an area, do you have multiple places that are published? It would be good for me that would be A thing I would look at. Do I publish in a number of places that’s going to reinforce my name right? Do I get a knowledge panel? I don’t worry about it for me because that kinks guy gets it from my name. He is more notable than I am and that gets into different entity patents that they’ve gone.
Notability is a factor, prizes are a factor. Did you win a Pulitzer Prize? Then your entity as an author goes up. One of the specific examples they give is numbers of reviews are a factor in EAT. That doesn’t mean spam your reviews because that’s actually written in there. People spam reviews; Better Business Bureau listing is also counted, that doesn’t mean go out and jam it up. In that reference, they only look at bad, they’ve sort of gone, we don’t look at good, but we do look at bad if you have bad, then that’s a clear signal that you’re bad, but it doesn’t good is just sort of a default, you’re sort of getting out of the gate. So if you had a lot of reviews and feedback there, and it was sort of like you’ve done your job to maintain things, good to look at EAT, and sort of go, I am doing my job.

There’s specific things that I would look at. I would look at my analytics and go when I write a piece of content. Don’t worry too much about how many people are visiting it, especially early on. Later on, you should worry about how many people are visiting. But early on, are they doing it when they enter that piece of content? Maybe, run a paid campaign and land people on that content to go they do what I expect them to do? Do they do what they should be doing? If they do something better awesome. If they do something worse, you need to revisit that. It isn’t a signal Google would use. But clearly, you’re not fulfilling EAT. Otherwise, they’d be doing what you should think they should do.

That doesn’t mean convert on your site, it means engage with that content in the way that they should be engaging with your content. Look at your social shares. Social shares are not a ranking factor, but if a lot of people are sharing it, you are probably passing yourself off as an expert in a field properly. I don’t mean passing off dismissively or judge mentally. You are probably engaging properly with your target audience. Now, Google is not looking at it that specifically, but it is a signal that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. Does it acquire links naturally? Or is it easier to link build to if you’re trying to do it manually? The links are a signal but that you can link they’ll easier isn’t a signal, but it is a sign that this content is fulfilling all of those criteria because people are wanting to link to it more readily. So it has that trust, you are obviously being an expert in that, and you’re obviously authoritative. The easier something is to link build to the more EAT you probably have. Even though the links don’t give you the EAT directly until they start to write and you look at. If you’re starting to get links from like CNET or something, and I’m speaking on a technical site, or you’re referenced on like a Stack Exchange as the best answer for a highly technical problem, you’re probably getting some EAT score passed you through that. Your general out of the gate link building wouldn’t pass it directly, but it would be a sign that you already have it and that’s why it’s easier.

Absolutely. We can go on and on about EAT, but two things which I would want to add. One, it also is a signal to promote people to sell and rank on what they are actually good at. Everybody cannot be good at everything. And then it also helps in earning high-quality links. It's directly related to good link building as well. So definitely I think focusing on EAT will show some good value moving forward. What are your thoughts?

Yeah, I love it. You hit them every now and then in SEO. It’s one of my favorite things because like EAT if you’re striving to be an expert, authoritative and trusted, even if you get no SEO benefit, you win. It’s just one of those great things. You’ve just produced the best possible result for nothing. You’ve just tried to make content that doesn’t bounce on your site for nothing. Well, for nothing, NO, it’s not bouncing anymore—either way. You’ve impacted a positive, or you’ve imparted a positive UX experience. Even if you haven’t got that direct SEO signal, you might have been building it for you, still want on the user side. So it’s even when you’re wrong, you win and so that’s what I love about EAT work.

Dave, how do you see the new image license meta tag affect image search?

They’re doing a lot of work in Image Search right now. Obviously, paid is still at the top. But I think for some people these things are important, for some people they’re not right.
I’ve got clients that I look at image search and it’s kind of irrelevant for you. If we have it, we won’t complain, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t affect your bottom line. I don’t think ranking on image search is going to help them rank for their conversion terms on the organic, or traditional search side. For most clients, it’s not a big deal, especially when you get the metadata, putting your keywords, your images, it can directly affect your SEO.
But if I stock photo or Adobe Stock or a cat GIF website, would I? Oh, yeah, and it will have a lot of power. People undervalue all metadata schema, like generally for clients like JSON schema. It’s heavily undervalued, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of experience, we were talking about featured snippets earlier. You want those featured snippets? You want some drop down on an FAQ page built right into the search results? This is where you do it. Get that how to schema in there, my two favorites on the topic of schema. But then we’ll get back on images. They’re so powerful, and they actually directly change the search results.

Anyway, back to image search, I think metadata is one of the unsung heroes, you need to think about. Being a technical SEO is a big part of my job. I could follow these breadcrumbs forever. There’s so much stuff you can do on any given website. You can amp up the metadata on every element of your page pretty much like Google junkie. By the time something new comes along, by the time you’re done one, they’ll have added a new thing, and you could start again and do it.

So you need to think about what are your business goals and where are your traffic sources? Do you want to be news or not? Those sorts of things that actually matter. But it doesn’t really matter for a lot of our clients right away. Got a client with a great travel blog? Does he need to be news? No. Does he need to rank in the organic results for stuff about his area? Yes. So that’s been the focus there. So I think as long as we think specifically about what you want, you bring a great example of yourself. Do you? Yeah, I use FAQ schema as well. The ‘how-to’ schema for different clients or more sort of paragraph or structure, ordered things, where you would, might use a recipe, but it’s not food. These are the sorts of environments because we’re technical that we have a lot of questions that are like that. But you know, for travel, not as much on some, but on questions about the area. We use them heavily in the blog, not so much on the actual site itself, right on the main part of the site itself.
So each person needs to think about what’s important for them, and where they need to be and where they’re. It’s not about your converting audience; It’s about sort of Goggle get conversion. You can think about where you’re converting audiences and go, I don’t need to be an image, I don’t need to be in video, I just need to be here. Now, they have videos in the organic results, you probably need to be in video. That’s only because you want to be on that page because Google isn’t crossing their judgment, they’re not going when they think a user wants video that they know because they use or click video. Otherwise, the whole search result page main search result page would be video, if they really were very confident and that’s what they do on YouTube.

So think about where your audience is searching that’s going to convert and then just do the best job of providing the answer that Google wants, and not just for your conversion, but we got back into intent and going, what are all the things that person could want? That is searching, not what I want them to do, but that searcher could want and make sure you’re answering that on your page?

Absolutely. The more you answer that, the smaller your sales cycle is. If you have something related to Ecom, and you put out a FAQ section. I'm promoting my link building page that has some packages. If I'm able to through that page, answer most of the questions that a potential client would have, he might not even give me a phone call. He will book one package and I have one converted client, and then I welcome him on board, rather than trying to call him again and again and trying to convert him.

Oh, yeah! As with any e-com site, the shorter that sales funnel is. The best call is what payment methods do you take. If you’re starting with, then you fulfil the EAT across the board and provide a lot of useful information, or if you wake up and look at me, I have money, that’s great. The more questions you have to answer, questions are great. I jot down those questions on phone calls. I guess I needed to answer that on my site. We were talking about FAQ. A lot of people rely on their FAQ page. I think that’s an incorrect way of looking at it. I’m not saying I don’t have an FAQ page, but if you have an FAQ page, it’s probably because you’re being asked those questions.

Why don’t you look at where those users started? Where do you want to land at? Answer somewhere between those two points, because they’re probably not going to your FAQ page and if they do, they’re going to have to funnel through like 20, 30, 40 FAQs. They probably don’t want to do that. So, just answer the question that they have somewhere between these two points, and do it in a way that just gets some of the information they want, which is great. You don’t want to have your FAQ section on every page.

Talking about eComm, this is a question a lot of clients have asked me, I have my own take on it, but it would be great if you tell us your thoughts about it—the hidden text normally behind the read more button. I mean, SEO value as compared to the text which is visible above it.

That’s an awesome question and one of my favorites. I’d mentioned earlier about my start as affiliate marketing. I was back in the days of, and this content is 3000 pixels to the left, just to get it right off the page, but we’re not doing that anymore. We’re talking about hidden content. I mentioned that sort of spam technique because that’s what hurt hidden content was. Google’s systems were not sophisticated enough through the like, the 2000s to understand what that was? Where am I trying to hide it? But now they can render pages, they can actually see here’s what it is. Here’s that great big red button and that great big red button produces this great big, sort of block of text that pops up. And move one step further, when they went now everything’s being judged by mobile.

Mobile can have all the same content as the desktop and in most cases, especially e-commerce. You’re going to use if nothing else, accordions. You’re going to go ‘I don’t want somebody to have to scroll and scroll just to get to the reviews,’ If they just want to see the reviews. So you’re going to have jump points and stuff like that. Fortunately, there’s a pretty solid answer to that exact question. John Mueller of Google was asked their webmaster trends analyst, for listeners in the crowd who don’t know who he is, pay attention to his Hangouts or Barry Schwartz, who writes up about them quite well. He had actually answered that question and said, on mobile, this is necessary. You’re not going to be punished for it, but if this content isn’t meant to be read, then it won’t be credited which makes perfect sense.

If you’re doing it just to hide content on your page, then it’s clearly going to be devalued. If it’s meant to be clicked and you are meant to engage with it. That probably we transition over to the desktop version of your site. You go, it’s visible over there, it’s hidden here. But it’s really easy to access because it’s in an accordion. It’s going to count the same because you’re doing it for your mobile experience. If they haven’t hammered in into users yet, they want you to make a good mobile site. That’s what they want is for your users to love your mobile experience. So yeah it’s okay to do just make sure it’s easy to find.

Talking about the value of low DA sites, 10 or 20, what SEO value do they actually have?

Well, it’s good, you are right, it’s commonly used. It’s one of the metrics we sort of have to fall back on since they took away that PageRank toolbar. So, we use DA as a sort of placeholder for value. I tend not to look at it as much. DA is what PageRank was back in the day. I think it was 2016 when they took that bar away, but I might be wrong. It was sort of a value metric, but at the end of the day, the value metric is clear to look at the site, like what is that site looking like? What is the purpose, do I need anchor text reinforcement? Do I need anchor text diversity?

Lower DA sites tend to fall into two camps. One is they’re new. I mean, everybody started at zero, that’s just the way of it. We all had a one year where it might not have launched as a one-page site. We all had a site with no links at one point like everybody did. So you got to sort of move forward from there. It may fall into that camp, or it might have a lot of links. It doesn’t have something to build up that domain authority. That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad. There’s a variety of reasons for it. It might be in a small niche. What if it’s about a site dedicated to enthusiasts of bats who want to go and find all the great bat caves. I haven’t looked this up specifically, but I’m guessing that’s a small grouping of people, it’s probably a fairly tight-knit group of people. They’re going to link amongst themselves and probably share a lot of information. I’m just trying to pick the most obscure thing I could possibly think of so that’s apparent what crosses into my brain; I don’t know why. But those would remain fairly low DA, not because they’re bad, provided they’re done right. They would have a high EAT score for the topic of bat tours, but they wouldn’t have a high DA.

So you have to look at each thing unto itself and on a global, if you’re just in a normal competition. If you’re an SEO or something like that you would look at them and go, what’s my purpose here? Do I want anchor text diversity? It also depends on link building for my own site? Or am I buying them, right? Look at what is your purpose on these things and then just review the sites. At the end of the day, does the link make sense? Am I building an end to the content right and does it fit the theme of the site? Remembering that the A and the T are site-wide. Now, not algorithmically perfect, but that’s how Google’s assigning this stuff.

So does this sight relate to travel? It might be a DA 15 because it’s only about this one little town, so is my cottage that I’m trying to rent out. So, it works that way.
DA isn’t a perfect score because it views that little bat tour site on the same scale as if you use Wikipedia, and they’re just not in the same competition.

Is it okay to buy a lot of domains and do a 301 redirect to your main one?

That’s a great question. It depends. I own a lot of domains and a lot of them are just for brand protection. I own them for I don’t want a competitor to have this domain and happen to be available. So I bought it, organic/seo.com, it just redirects to our homepage. I don’t use it. But I also don’t want a competitor to have it because it’s a good domain. I wasn’t buying them to try and augment the link; Google doesn’t really care. It doesn’t add any value to my domain. It’s not an attempt to attract value to my domain. It’s just to make sure that if somebody accidentally searches this, they’re going to either end up at my domain Beanstocksocks.com. I don’t remember if I bought that one or not. Now that I’ve said it, I probably should have. I haven’t because I could see some smart alec doing that now.

Those sorts of things are fine. But if you’re trying to buy linked to domains, just to try to sort of boost your rankings that leads to two problems. One, there’s a good chance Google will probably know. They’re a registrar, they know the buy and sell and change history of these sorts of things. So they’re probably going to know. Then the second. I have bought land domains with backlink profiles and there’s a very good chance. Look really close if you’re planning on doing that. Maybe you want to do it to like launch a new site out with sort of a kickstart, at least in crawl ability because it has some links coming in. Maybe that’s what you want to buy it for. If you’re purchasing it for that, if it had a lot of links, it was probably successful in what it was doing, and yet it’s on the market again. So what were those links? Did this site get a manual action against it because those links were horrible? And then the person was just like I’m not going to pay the renewal fee on this because the domain isn’t worth it. There’s a lot of dangers in it.

But speaking of somebody who has bought somewhere that’s like a government agency, they’re probably going to hit the snooze button on this renewal. Let’s just put a backorder on that, there are opportunities there.

If you are going to point it to your domain, don’t jam them all to your homepage. It probably violates every Google guideline on the planet. I won’t say I’ve done this, but if I was to do this, build a section that would relate that would fulfil the original user’s intent. If they’re following those links, they’re going to land at a place that satisfies what they wanted when they got there. It should not matter for your site. It should be a logical thing for your site or why you’re doing this, to begin with. If you build that content, you satisfy those users. Whether those natural sorts of pre-existing links count or not, you’re probably going to start to acquire some new ones.

Right. Well, thank you so much for your time today. It was fun. I wish we had more time. But this gives us an opportunity to do this again. You take care and have a good day, man.

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