Tim: If getting on page one of Google seems like a pipe dream, then listen up, team, as one of the top three Search Engine Optimization Experts in the world explains exactly how any small business can do it. This is going to be good.
Welcome back, listeners to another episode of Australia’s #1 Marketing show. I’m your host, Timbo Reid. You so much more importantly are a motivated business owner ready to crank out some great marketing. And that is exactly oh boy, boy oh boy. That is exactly what we are going to do in this particular episode. We always do do it but there’s something special about to happen. Hi yeah! This show is brought to you by the very good folk at Net Registry who get your online marketing sorted. Check out their exclusive listener packages over at netregistry.com.au/Timbo and 99designs, the world’s largest graphic design marketplace where you’re guaranteed to get a design you will love. Check them out at 99designs.com/Timbo for a free 99 dollar upgrade.
Okay. So yup, yup. What am I going to say? Be [inaudible 1:39]. Yup, you got it. SEO godfather Rand Fishkin of Moz is going to join us. Now, being a small business owner, I don’t expect you to necessarily know who Rand is. But by the end of this episode, you are going to love the guy. I also explain why I podcast. I’ve got a motivational marketing quote about advertising. Eww, yuck! As per usual areas, marketing G-O- L-D dripping from the ceiling over here at Small Business Big Marketing’s HQ, so let’s get stuck right in.
Join at Small Business Big Marketing community and have your marketing questions answered by other motivated business owners including Timbo over at Crankmymarketing.com
Tim: Now I’m pretty excited but I’m also incredibly soar. I have spent the last 4, possibly 5, hours, feels like 15 high pressure hosing a dick and my back, my hammies, my trigger hand, everything’s just soar. I took an anti-inflammatory in order to get through this episode. Oh goodness me! If I haven’t just aged myself right there and then, I will buy the first question I ask Rand very shortly. But I’ve been asked three times this week, “Timbo, why do you podcast?” And I feel as though I’ve answered that before and I will put a video of me in the show notes for today’s episode where you can see me in the original studio that I started podcasting in. But here’s the thing. I got the opportunity six years ago to use a commercial radio studio in Melbourne, Hamish & Andy’s studio actually, if you know who they are if you’re Australian. They’re probably the world’s, the Australia’s leading comedians. And I was lucky enough to be able to use their studio. And so I started podcasting. But then I wasn’t quite sure where it was going to go, didn’t know it was going to get to where it is now, that’s for sure. But what I realized and what I confirmed in me as I did more and more shows, the first 80 with the mighty man, Luke who I now run the forum with, what I realized is that I just have this deep-seated love and respect for you, the small business owner. Like seriously, the courage that you show in bringing your beautiful baby to life everyday and trying to grow it. I come from a family of employees so earning a business is not… I didn’t grow up in that space. I’ve owned my own business for eight years now and I know how tough it is and I know how much marketing causes pain. It’s a dark art to so many small business owners and big business owners too. So why I podcast is to shine a bright light on the dark art that we call marketing. And it’s my way of making a little difference in the world of the small business owner and relieving some of the pain that marketing causes. I also podcast because I love it, love it! It’s so much fun! More of you should do it. You can have your own show. That’s nuts! It used to need to own a radio station to be able to do that. And it also generates an income for me now through sponsorship. Net Registry, 99designs, Keepers of Influence, there’s more to come. I know some of you get a little bit annoyed at the ads but hey, they make the show possible, so lots of reasons why I podcast. But fundamentally, it’s because I love you, the small business owner. Hey, while I’m talking about podcasting, there is a podcasting conference on later in the year on the Gold Coast and I’m speaking at it. And you can check it all out. Wearepodcast.com is the website. I think tickets are on sale now. There’ll be more news on that in future episodes. So there you go. That is why I podcast. Support for this show comes from 99designs where dozens of designers compete to deliver a fast affordable design you’ll love.
Speaking of love, their big chief Patrick Llewellyn recently compared 99designs to a dating site.
Patrick: We really think of contest almost like a dating paradigm. You go to a nightclub. It’s noisy, there are a lot of people to meet, you get to meet a lot of people, and if you’re lucky, at the end of that process, you might meet someone alright, and then you go on and have dates. And so contest is kind of like that paradigm. You put up your proposal, lots of designers submit their ideas, and then you start to wheedle down to a few of the ones that really resonate with you. And then ultimately, you pick one of them. And once you’ve pick that one designer, the chances of you going on to work with that designer to get other things designed is actually very high.
Tim: 99designs where love is in the air. For a free 99 dollar upgrade on your first design, visit 99designs.com/Timbo.
Get on Timbo’s mailing list over at Smallbusinessbigmarketing.com.
Tim: Support for this show comes from Net Registry. Recently, I was Skyping it up with Verity Meagher, their Chief Marketing Officer. When the line deteriorated, she thought it may be because she had loads of browsers open. At which point, I’m like “Why so many browsers?”
Verity: Well because websites appear differently on different browsers so if I ran multiple, then I can get a sense of how our website are tracking across different browsers and customers’ websites.
Tim: Net Registry, where attention to detail rules. Visit Netregistry.com.au/Timbo for a website that works on, well, all browsers.
Okay, let’s get stuck into today’s guest. This is a cracker, cracker of an interview even if I do say so myself. Now here’s the thing. Before I introduce Rand, Rand Fishkin of Moz, I know that many of you are getting lots of phone calls from people saying they’ll get you to the top of Google, you hear about this SEO stuff, you hear me talking about it, you know Net Registry offer the service Search Engine Optimization, ranking on page one at Google. It does seem like a pipe dream, doesn’t it? Like it seems like it’s only for the big guys. How could my little vet clinic or my little plumbing business ever be on page one at Google? Let me tell you, you can. Okay, so lose the limiting belief around it. And after this interview, you will well and truly have lost the limiting belief around it and you’ll be able to go out and actually do it. I wanted to speak to one of the world’s leading experts on Search Engine Optimization so I Googled “world’s leading experts on Search Engine Optimization.” Out came an article written only a couple of months ago on a website called Gotbusinessquestions.org and this author had gone and listed the top 100 SEO experts. So I tweeted the top 5, right, one responded, and it was Rand, and he responded within like hours, less than twelve hours for sure, a sign of the guy, a sign of things to come. So who is Rand Fishkin? This is his bio of his website. He goes by the ludicrous title Wizard of Moz. He is the founder and former CEO of Moz.com which is basically a subscription by service that’s laser focused on helping you know your SEO. He’s got tools, content, training. It’s possibly the best source in the world of all things Search Engine Optimization. Rand has been in the SEO space pretty much from day dot. 1993 is when he started tinkering. He gets invited to speak at Google, he’s got right insights into Google, he shares them in this interview, he even explains why Google invented the driveless car. That’s interesting, sort of SEO related. But he gives you absolute hardcore tips and tricks on how to get on page one of the biggest search engines in the world. Now given Rand was brought up in Seattle and that’s where some great music comes from, I started off by asking him who his favorite local band is.
Rand: I know I should say Nirvana but I’m a Pearl Jam guy. What can I say?
Tim: No, mate, that’s fine. I think we’re just going to pull out some crazy name because there are only four Seattle bands. If you’d said any one of them and you said two, then okay, yeah, yeah. I know them anything else but amazing kind of place for wonderful music.
Rand: Yeah, absolutely. And we’re having a little bit of a renaissance in the hip hop world like U2 which is kind of cool. There’s some great hip hop acts out of Seattle. Everybody knows Macklemore but I don’t think he’s necessarily one of our greatest ones but there’s some very cool stuff. If your listeners have not yet heard of Blue Scholars, you got to check those guys out.
Tim: Oh you heard it first on the Small Business Big Marketing show. I’ll give you an Australian hip hop act which is Hilltop Hoods. They’re pretty cool. Hilltop Hoods.
Rand: Hilltop Hoods. Okay. I’m going to look them up after this.
Tim: Okay. I’ll trade you Blue Scope for… What was it? Blue Scope?
Rand: Blue Scholars.
Tim: Blue Scholars. I’ll trade you Blue Scholars for Hilltop Hoods.
Tim: It’s a bit of a kind of Nirvana Pearl Jam thing where you’re one or the other in Seattle?
Rand: No. I mean there’s a lot of Soundgarden folks.
Rand: And Mudhoney and Sleater Kinney and that whole like 90’s movement here has imbued, I think everyone who is over the age of 30 with at least some memory around that.
Tim: Love it. I do love music. Hey now, Rand, you’ve been mucking around the web since 1993. What do you remember of the World Wide Web way back then?
Rand: I mean I remember my mom coming home with the Mosaic internet browser or I think she had a Mac II or Mac IIe at home.
Rand: And I fired it up, visited the seven websites that I could even find, basically whatever Mosaic was suggesting and thought, “This is kind of boring. I don’t really want to play with it.” I think it was until a year or two later when Microsoft came out with FrontPage that I was like “Oh wait. I can build my own. Alright, now I’m into this.”
Tim: Can you remember back when something clicked in you on “Hang on. Hang on. This is going to be huge.”
Rand: Gosh! I remember having a big fight with my roommate in 2001 at the dot com cash or just before and I remember he thought the whole internet was just going to be a fad and that it wasn’t going anywhere and that I was an idiot for dropping out of college to build websites which he might have been right about that.
Tim: Was he the same guy who said no to The Beatles?
Rand: No. No, he said, yeah, he said no to a band you’ve never heard of.
Rand: So I think that’s alright.
Tim: Yeah. Where you more or less interested to speak to people who were involved in the internet back then? Did you buy any kind of amazing domain names?
Rand: No. For some reason, I always assumed that domain names, and this goes back to my weakness around branding especially early in my career, I was a very kind of technical marketer and not a very sophisticated brand marketer.
Rand: So I thought domain name extensions are just going to keep growing. It’s not like real estate. It’s unlimited. You can add whatever you want dot blah, blah, blah to the end of it. And I think the fact that regulation kept it so tight for so many years is what eventually proved me wrong and proved those dot com names to have incredible value.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. Well that’s one of those ones you missed but I’m sure you’ve done well on the other aspects of the internet. So this whole SEO thing, what point did you kind of get onto that aspect of the internet and what do you love about it?
Rand: It was early 2000’s so I’ve been building websites, designing and building them for a few years and our clients started asking for more than just “Build me a website” but “Build me a website and then get me traffic.” And that led me down the SEO rabbit hole, probably started in 2002 for me. And I love a bunch of things about SEO. I love how it combines technical and creative skills. I loved how it some ways it hits you against these powerful entities, Google, and used to be Microsoft, and Yahoo who will try to hide information about how their search engines work. And it’s up to us to discover kind of those secrets and to especially for Moz, right, one of my big missions has always been to make that information transparent to everyone, not to hide it and horde it but to make it accessible. I’m a big, big believer that security by obscurity is a fallacy, that it doesn’t work, that hiding information only makes spammers richer and more powerful, and hurts small business people and marketers, and everyone who wants to share their idea on the web and help people be able to find it.
Tim: You’re right. I like that.
Rand: I love that fight against Google, right?
Tim: Yeah, yeah, clearly. You’re taking it right out to them.
Tim: I mean I’m fascinated by that. I always say any marketer who says they know Google’s algorithm and how it works is kind of akin to saying you know the Coronel’s secret herbs and spices or the recipe to Coca-cola like you are close like you know a lot about SEO. How close are you to Google? Do they let you in?
Rand: Yeah, I mean I will say I think that a lot of individual people and teams at Google are actually really awesome to us. I’ve spoken on Google’s campus a couple of times, taken several tours there. Some friends that I have at Google were even kind enough to say when I was visiting a few years ago with my grandparents; they offered to give my grandparents a tour of Google which is awesome. So yeah, I mean we have a very positive and productive relationship but also a friendly adversarial one too, right? So a lot of folks at Google have information that they want the web marketing world to understand and know and they realize that Moz is one of the best places to distribute that information and so they are happy to come speak at our conferences and events and occasionally contribute interviews to our blog, and all those kinds of things, but at the same time, there’s information that they keep very close to the vest and don’t share with us, and we have to go test things out and run experiments and analyze their pattern applications and look at correlations, and all these kinds of stuff to find evidence to see if their using this thing or that thing.
Tim: You’re really a geek, are you?
Rand: I mean this is my life, man.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rand: I love figuring this out. I love the idea that Google is one of the most powerful companies in the world, not just from a revenue perspective, although they’re certainly up on top of the list too. But from a control of accessed information, right, they just influence so much of how we understand and perceive the modern world. And I think the fact that so few of us understand how that information is delivered to us and what might be hiding in there.
Rand: What biases exist is tragic and it shouldn’t be that way. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Tim: What are the questions that you ask of your Google friends where they just go, “Rand, you are now about to cross the line.”
Rand: It’s weird. They never say that. They just give answers. They give like politician style answers, right.
Rand: So I’ll say, this was a recent one, this wasn’t actually me. This was Danny Sullivan who runs Search Engine Land and the SMX conference series and he was on stage with someone who works on Google’s search team, and asked this guy like, “Hey, do you use click through rate, queries and clicks as a ranking signal?” meaning essentially, let’s say, Tim, all of your listeners right now were to start searching for let’s say Gabriel Weinberg’s Traction book, right. They all search for Traction and maybe Traction the book is ranking in position number 3 for the word traction but everybody searches for that book and they all click on it. Well that sends a strong signal to Google like, “Whoa! A lot of people who are looking for traction are clearly looking for the book and not traction.com the website, or traction the concept on Wikipedia, or whatever it is. We should rank that book website higher for this query.” And that concept of using queries and clicks has been around for a while.
Tim: Makes sense.
Rand: Yeah. We’ve done a bunch of experiments showing that you can influence it at least in the short term with a batch of a few hundred or a few thousand queries and clicks, that kind of thing. But the guy on stage answers Danny then he says, “Well, that’s a really noisy signal and there’s a lot of people trying to manipulate it and so we wouldn’t want to use that.”
Rand: And so I got a little upset by that because it was one of those like “I can prove you wrong right now. In fact you know what? I’m going to do that.” So I think the next weekend, I ran an experiment, had some people click on stuff, got exactly those results.
Tim: I love it.
Rand: And put it on one of my presentations. So it’s one of those like you could go back and revisit his transcript and say, “Oh, he didn’t say that they definitely didn’t use anything like it. He just said that that part could be a noisy signal and they wouldn’t use the noise” and you’re like, “Ah, geez.”
Tim: Goodness me. Do you think Google will open up a bit more as time goes by or is it always going to be a closed school?
Rand: You know I have heard their language about transparency softening over time and so I think it’s possible that in years to come as they develop more sophisticated algorithms as they feel like they’re less susceptible to spam and manipulation, they could open up some more. The trend over the last ten years has definitely been one of increasing transparency in some elements, although increasing secrecy in others, right, like they don’t provide me with the keyword data about which searches send traffic to your website anymore. And they used to do that which was hugely valuable for businesses, right, because you could look at your analytics and say, “Oh, lots of people are searching for this. And when they do, they land on this webpage of mine. And I don’t think my webpage is doing a particularly excellent job of observing those visitors so I should make it better.” And then they took that data away and now we don’t know and we have to infer and guess, and build all these tools to try and help people to do that.
Tim: It’s just a game for Google. Well, my G, Moz wouldn’t exist if Google just opened the doors. I mean it’s good for you. It’s good for you to be able to challenge them. And thank you on our behalf for doing it by the way.
Rand: It’s like it. It’s my pleasure. Yeah, it’s weird. We’ve thought about that a bunch of times, right. If Google did the things that I think they should do, Moz wouldn’t have to exist, and I would be totally okay with that.
Rand: I would feel like our mission was accomplished.
Tim: What would you be doing?
Rand: There’s a lot of other stuff where I think web marketers can use serious help. Social media’s definitely one, content marketing is a big place where I think…
Tim: I think you guys say, “I’d be a golf course curator or like a pro surfer,” or you know, “Train driver.”
Rand: Alright, no. Maybe train driver. The other ones I think require a lot more skill than I’ve got and probably muscle mass too.
Tim: Yeah, right. I quite like the idea of a train driver. It seems a peaceful job like you just got to stick to the rails. I want to move on to SEO. Clearly, that’s why we’re here but I do have to ask have you met Larry or Sergey?
Rand: No. Oh this is embarrassing but this was back in 2007 when I was doing consulting, and I got an email asking me to jump on a call with Larry about the SpaceX program and I was super excited, I was like “Oh my God! This is incredible” like “a, I get to talk to this guy, and b, SpaceX is the coolest program ever and I would love to help them on a consulting side.” This was specifically about search and SEO stuff which is cool, right, like Google reaching out to me for SEO stuff. I totally missed the phone call.
Tim: Darn it.
Rand: And they never replied to my emails.
Tim: And there was no rescheduling back then.
Rand: Nope. It was heartbreaking. Yeah, that is one that got away.
Tim: Oh, Rand.
Rand: I’m still taking my [inaudible 24:21].
Tim: Be a fatalist, you know. These things happen for a reason.
Tim: Now, I am here. And by the way, listeners, I’m speaking to Rand Fishkin. He’s the founder of Moz which is… Can you give me the one liner just to describe what Moz is to the great unwashed?
Rand: Sure. We really do two things: One is we provide software to help professional SEOs with getting more traffic from search engines like Google.
Rand: And the second thing is we provide a huge community and set of content to anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about SEO.
Tim: Okay. Great leading, lovely segue because, Rand, I am here interviewing you presenting the small business owner who knows very, very little about SEO but knows that being on page one of Google is probably good for business, right?
Rand: Oh yeah.
Tim: Okay, oh yeah. That speaks volumes already. I want to get you top 5, 10, 50 [inaudible 25:25] however long we’ve got.
Tim: But I want to start by asking “Is search engine optimization all about ranking well on Google?”
Rand: Yes and no. So the yes part is ranking well in Google is the way to drive traffic from organic search over to your website but there are lots of things that you do that aren’t necessarily focused in moving up a specific pages ranking. So you might do things like look at your whole site and see which pages are accessible and crawlable, which pages are actually doing a good job of targeting a keyword because maybe you’re targeting no keyword and so you don’t even have a chance and opportunity to rank well. You could be looking at improving the snippet, right, the title and the meta description, and then you have the rich snippet markup like the little images that show up next to your search results or the video that shows up next to your search result, or any of those kinds of things which would help with click-through rate. So it might not necessarily help you rank higher but more people would say, “Oh, that one in position 4 looks really interesting. I should click on that.”
Tim: Okay. So many questions, Rand, and I’m trying to get the order right.
Tim: But like big on position. Is the assumption we need to be on page one? Is that a good assumption?
Rand: That’s a good assumption, yup. 95% plus of all search clicks will happen on page one.
Tim: Great! Okay, tick that box. Does it matter whether I’m organically, and listeners, by organically, I mean not paid, not using Google ads, organically does it matter, Rand, if I’m position one or five?
Rand: Yes, it does. The average click-through rate curve, meaning the percent of the searchers who will click on position one versus two, three, four that is pretty steep so you can expect a considerable amount more traffic from being in position 1 than position two, and position two and position three. But like I said…
Tim: What’s the psychology behind that? Do you know?
Rand: Yeah. I mean it’s a historical byproduct of mental human ordering. We assume that the first thing is the most relevant, most useful, and best. And that’s how Google tries to order things. They will try to put the best, most relevant, most useful thing at the top. They don’t always nail that but that’s what they’re trying to do.
Tim: How do they do that? I just realized how big that question was.
Rand: Sure. Yeah. So they do that by having a ranking algorithm. And the algorithm takes into account many, many, many different inputs. They say over 200 but we believe that’s probably in the thousands of inputs depending on what you consider a unique input to be. But for your listeners, the only things you really have to think about are just the broad categories of how Google thinks about things that impact ranking. So these are the things I would think about as a small business owner. I would think about the relevancy to the searchers keyword term or phrase. So is your page specifically about that keyword? Does it serve that searcher’s intent? Does it do a good job of targeting that keyword? So someone searches for Melbourne plumber. Do you have the words Melbourne and plumber in your title element? When they get to your page, do you describe the plumbing services that you provide in Melbourne? Can you show why you’re the best choice on that page? Can you use the terms and phrases that Google likely associates with plumbers like clogged toilet, or drain, or plumbing, or pipes, whatever it is, right? Can you be on the topic? And then another big category of things to think about is your popularity online, meaning do lots of other websites good, relevant, important websites link to your website? And that could be other web pages from Melbourne, other pages of plumbing, pages from newspapers, from media and bloggers, pages from sites that try and rank the best plumbers, right, all of those kinds of things.
Rand: Are important to your popularity and importance. And then there’s kind of the last category, well last category that I’ll mention here. There’s lots of other stuff. And that’s kind of around the user experience. Does your page and site load fast? Google likes you to have secure web pages although I would argue for a small business that might not be necessary. Does your page provide a useful and usable experience so that visually, it’s appealing, you look credible, you’re graphically positive and visually presentable, all those kinds of things.
Tim: Yeah, well there’s so much there. Can I just dissect each one of them but take a step back first? I think mindset around search engine optimization and how Google works is so important and you touched on it earlier, Rand. You tell me if I’m right or wrong like Google want the internet to be an interesting place because the more people go to the internet and hang around longer, the more opportunities Google have to sell advertising. Are we right? Are we in agreement so far?
Rand: Totally agree. That’s why they make self-driving cars because they don’t want you to drive. They want you to be on the internet.
Tim: [Chuckles] I love that! There you go. I’m not sure that was a joke either.
Rand: No, no. I’m totally serious. That’s why they invented self-driving cars.
Rand: Yes! That was literally. They did an analysis. There’s a story about it but they did an analysis. They sat down and they looked at what a human being spend their time doing that we could get them to stop doing because we know that if they have free time, they’ll sit on their mobile phones or their laptops or whatever, and driving was the biggest one.
Tim: Unbelievable! I love that. Okay, so they say then to us, the plumber or the vet, the small business owner, “Hey, listen. For your little corner of the world, your website, can you make it really interesting, or helpful, or engaging, or entertainment?” useful I think is the word you used. “And if you do, we’ll help improve your rankings.” Is that mindset good?
Rand: That’s a good mindset to have although there’s a lot of nuance.
Rand: To be mindful of.
Tim: Yeah. And therein lies the need for you come out and do a week’s workshop as opposed to a 30-minute podcast interview.
Rand: Well, I mean this is why we try and help people with content on Moz.com.
Rand: It’s all free so you can go and learn more if you’re sort of like “Yeah! I want to go down this rabbit hole.”
Tim: Great. Well, certainly going to be directing listeners over there but can we just then pull apart. Given that that thinking so far is right, you mentioned three things: Relevancy, backlinking, user experience. With the relevancy, you talked about plumber in Melbourne and making sure you mentioned words like taps and pipes and blocked toilets and all that which makes sense. And those words, and again pull me up when I’m wrong, those words need to appear in your copy and we’re going to [inaudible 33:04] out here, but your metadata which is maybe you want to explain that.
Rand: Sure. Yes-ish is the answer to that.
Tim: I like that.
Rand: It kind of depends on what you consider metadata, and then there’s some nuance around that too. So historically like way back in the 90’s, your meta tags, these are like tags that you could put on a webpage that visitors would necessarily see specifically two tags called the meta description and the meta keywords tag. Those used to be really important for SEO but it has been 15 years, 16 years since those were useful and used by search engines. Nowadays, what’s important is, yes, using them in your copy. You want people to link to you with them so when they’re linking to you, you hope that they’re talking about those things like “This guy fixed my blocked toilet.” “This woman managed to make my blocked pipes go away,” right, or “fixed my sink.”
Rand: That kind of stuff linking to you, and you want to use them in one thing that is technically still a meta tag but it is also a visible tag to human beings is that’s the title element.
Rand: So the title of a page, that’s what shows up at the very top of your browser.
Tim: In the tab.
Rand: Yeah, in the tab, exactly. And that also shows up in search results as the name of the page that people click on, so really important for getting people to click on your page so you have to kind of sell yourself in there. It should be like a “Oh, I want to click that. What is that? What’s that telling me? That seems to be the most interesting thing on this page.” And you want to use your keywords intelligently in there.
Tim: So just to be clear, the page title is really important that you get that right. I think you got about 70 characters to work with there. The meta description which is the additional 240 characters will form the two lines of Google search results. Are you telling me that’s not as important?
Rand: Not as important for keyword placement from a ranking perspective.
Rand: Still very important for earning the click from the visitor perspective.
Tim: Yeah, right.
Rand: Right? Because you’re competing with all those other search results to try and tell someone why should they click on your result instead of somebody else’s.
Tim: Then talk to me back onto the actual webpage and getting those keywords. And listeners, and Rand, again correct me if I’m wrong but understanding what is this page about on my website, what are the words and phrases people would key into Google in order for this page to get to rank well? There’s this notion of keyword stuffing which I’m pretty positive is no longer looked upon very favorably by Google. So you’ve just got to right for the human?
Rand: Yeah, you’re trying to right for humans but also do a great job of involving the keyword terms and phrases that you know both engines and humans will care about. So for example, if I am writing about, you mentioned veterinary clinics, if I’m writing about my vet clinic but I never mention any of the kinds of animals that I treat, that’s weird. I as a human being need to know whether you can treat my snake or my koala or, you guys have drop bears down there, right?
Tim: Look, yeah, another interview, weird that you would be having a pet snake although so many have. And we don’t have koalas as pets but we do have kangaroos jumping down the main street.
Tim: In fact, one just passed my window now.
Tim: So tell me. Understanding that therefore, should the vet, because Google again don’t see a website. They see however pages a website has, right? It’s my understanding.
Rand: They will consider both so they will look at let’s say you own Melbourne Vet or Melbournesbestvet.com, they will look at the pages on your site but they will also say, “Oh, Melbournesbestvet.com has a lot of positive ranking signals. Lots of people who click on it seem to like it. They don’t click the back button. They stay on that page. They tend to browse around that website. Lots of good important websites link to this website.” And so they might say, “Hey, we should rank this page that’s on this site highly even if that page has not as good ranking signals as this other page on this other site” because pages inherit the authority and the importance of the domain that they’re on.
Tim: Yeah, right.
Rand: This is why you see pages on Wikipedia that are complete junk ranking for everything.
Tim: Because they’ve got the cache of Wikipedia attached to them.
Tim: So as the vet, would it make sense for a vet to have a page about the fact that they fix Labradors, they fix Persian cats, they fix snakes like literally a page dedicated to each animal that they specialize in?
Rand: Potentially yes especially if they know that there are people searching for those things.
Tim: Yes. Because we can you fall into the trap of the generic page.
Tim: That says “We fix animals.” And that’s kind of not much use, is it?
Rand: No. I mean it’s frustrating for a visitor too, right? So you have to have empathy for your visitor. If I have a pet snake, I realize there’s not many of people who do, but if I have a pet snake and I searched Google for Melbourne vet help snake, it really means a ton to me that your webpage would tell me, “Yes, we can help you with your snake.”
Rand: That’s very important. I’m going to be panicked about my pet snake. I want you to have that information on there as opposed to forcing me to call you to get that information.
Tim: Complete relevance to what someone’s keying into Google to the search result that’s appearing and then clicking on that search result and going to a page that continues that relevance, so mean, you’re on a winning streak then, yeah?
Rand: Yup, exactly.
Tim: Yeah. How are we going for time, Rand?
Rand: We’re looking good to me. You tell me when we’re out of time.
Tim: Yeah. Careful, lots of questions.
Tim: Tell me what’s the research telling us about how people are typing into Google? In my experience, I’m using Google more in a—what is it? Phonetic? What’s the right terminology?—but I’m just typing in what I’d ask someone.
Tim: “Can you show me some pictures of Sidney Opera House?”
Rand: Sure, sure.
Tim: As opposed to “Pictures, photographs Sidney Opera House.”
Rand: So you are still relatively unusual in that respect. Google’s trained most of their searchers pretty well that we ask questions of search engines differently than we would of human beings. That being said, most interesting stats to me about Google that they came out with a few years ago and have repeated a few times since is they say that a full one-fifth, 20% of all the searches that they see performed each day have never been performed before in the history of Google.
Rand: Yeah. That’s how weird the internet is.
Tim: To this day?
Rand: To this day.
Tim: Let me understand that. 20% of searches that have been keyed into Google today have never been keyed in before.
Rand: That’s correct.
Tim: That’s really quite surprising.
Rand: Isn’t that mind-blowing?
Rand: Yeah. I think it’s one of the most amazing statistics that they’ve ever come out with. And obviously, a bunch of that is current events, right?
Rand: People searching for a rock band that never existed before or a person who’s in the news who’s never been in the news before. But a lot of it is also people searching for “I want photos of the underside of the Sidney Opera House with a koala on the top” right, and you’re like “What the hell? Why did they want that?”
Rand: But there you go.
Tim: Wouldn’t that be great if there was some functionality in Google where they could just come back and say, “Listen, we can probably provide you with some search results but, man, that’s a really strange query.”
Tim: Do you sure you want to go through with it? I would love that. That’s a search engine with a sense of humor.
Rand: Yeah. That sounds good.
Rand: That will be my next project.
Tim: Yeah. Exactly. So okay, I’ll move on from relevancy but just to summarize that, page title’s important. Good quality copy headlines, images, that talk to what the keyword or phrase is that you want that page to rank well, and then just write good rich helpful useful content. Yeah?
Rand: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s a bunch of aspects to this. You can find a lot more resources on Moz about on-page optimization. I’m not sure if we rank number one in Australia but I know we rank number one in Google.com for on-page optimization. There’s a good piece and a lot of in-depth stuff about that.
Tim: Hey, you’re doing okay. Okay, let’s talk backlinks. You mentioned earlier that obviously having authority sites linking back to your site is a good thing.
Tim: You know we get a lot of calls I’m sure it’s the same over in the States but a lot of Australian businesses, we’re getting calls every day from businesses in India generally saying “We can get you to page one of Google.” And upon investigation, often is what they’re going to do is get you a whole lot of backlinks. And if you dig even deeper, often those backlinks are going to be on sites that you just don’t want to be on, right? Porn, gambling, dating type sites.
Tim: Which Google is only going to deem that as inappropriate and punish you, so talk to me about backlinks, how do we get them and why they’re so important?
Rand: They’re very important because they help you with rankings but they’re also important because they send you direct traffic, right? So in the States, if you are a plumber and you are listed on Yelps front page of plumbers in Seattle, Washington, oh man, like Yelp isn’t just going to help with that link. It’s going to send you a lot of valuable traffic directly to you. The same is true for the Greater Seattle Business Association. The same is true for our local newspaper’s list of recommended businesses. The same is true for our local TV station’s list of winners of top businesses and their category. The same is true for a blogger who recommends you or for a Facebook page even that suggests that you give great service. So there are all kinds of different forms of links and valuable places to get links from. It’s not just the highest authority websites. It’s also deep in the long tail of the internet. But it needs to provide some relevancy and it needs to provide a true editorial endorsement. So for example, if you find a directory of plumbers in Melbourne and that directory says “For 50$, we’ll link to your website and we’re a high paid rank site so you’ll get lots of value in Google from being listed with us,” run far away.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, run.
Rand: Run far away. And the reason is Google really frowns on paid linking, any type of site that asks you to pay or forces you to pay in order to be listed there is going to almost certainly get you into trouble with Google. And besides that, those sites are probably getting very little or no real traffic from human users who are actually going to click those links. And so that’s another great signal to Google. Remember they have Google Chrome, they have Android. They can see what everybody on the internet is doing. So if they see that nobody ever clicks your link, nobody ever visits that site that link to you that might trigger some of those spam issues.
Tim: It’s easier said than done.
Rand: Oh yeah.
Tim: Let’s say I’m a chiropractor and I’ve got a friend in the local area who owns the car yard. And he says, “Yeah, I’ll put a link on my car yard website back to your chiropractic clinic.”
Rand: Yeah, yeah.
Tim: Is that good, is it? But there’s no relevance.
Rand: Well, so the relevance is this. It’s representing a real world endorsement and recommendation. So if your car yard owning friend says, “Hey, I think you’re the best vet in the city. I recommend people to you all the time.”
Tim: Okay. Gotya!
Rand: I have a list of other businesses, small businesses in our area that I recommend to people. I’d be happy to put you on that page.
Rand: That’s awesome. I have a list on my blog of the things I recommend in Seattle, an attorney that we use for patent applications that I recommend a lot to other businesses. Our web host that I recommend to people, I link to a bunch of blogs that I read that I like. So go for it.
Tim: Gotya. Okay. So then I get emails every day. I’m sure many website owners do saying, “Hey listen, can I do a guest post on your blog?” Now clearly and sometimes they’re good writers. And the underlying agenda is that they want to get a link back to their website through that. Is that a good strategy?
Rand: Yes and no.
Tim: Can I rephrase that question?
Tim: Is that the best strategy for small business owners to get backlinks on other sites? And if it isn’t, what is?
Rand: Very rarely am I going to say it’s the best strategy. I think it’s only the best strategy if what you love to do is create content and share that content around and you have something really awesome or interesting to share on a consistent basis, great point of view or you’re doing something super cool with data, or visualizations, or something that all these websites are actually going to care about putting on their blog and sharing with their audiences. That’s pretty unusual for small businesses. But what I would say is in my opinion; the best strategy for most small businesses is to look at who are all the people who are ranking for the keywords that you care about? Some of them are going to be directories and small business resources. You should definitely get listed in those places. Some of them are going to be your competitors. You should look at all the people who link to them. And there’s lots of tools and services out there that will show you who linked to other people on the web. Moz runs one of those services called Open Site Explorer and you can see those kinds of things and then say, “Okay, great! I should get links from those places as well. Google Maps will show you many of the places that a business might be listed in. You should go to those places and make sure your business is listed in them. So that kind of strategy is what I recommend for everybody as kind of best. And then guest blogging, it only makes sense if the site is high quality, if they have a high editorial bar, and if your stuff is really interesting.
Tim: All that makes absolutely perfect sense. I still see such a gap in the average business owner figuring out how then outside of just what, getting on the phone or smashing out lots of emails to all those sites that they’d love to be on because then once the person says yes, the car yard guy says yes, it’s then like, “Oh, do I need to speak to their web developer or how do we physically get that link in the right anchor text onto that website?
Rand: Yeah. There’s no doubt about it. This is why SEO is so often performed by consultants rather than individual small business owners, right?
Tim: Yes, yes.
Rand: These consultants go through this process on a daily basis, they know the rig and the roll, they know which sites you get listed on, they can work with the web developers to make it happen. And therefore, we have a huge industry of consultants. And unless SEO is something you want to pursue personally and are passionate about and you know you’ve got the time and energy, hiring a good consultant is a great way to go.
Tim: I think that’s great advice. And Net Registry, a sponsor of the show and they do good SEO. And one the things I think clearly you’re biased but it would be fair to say if you could be objective about it that having an SEO person on your marketing team or your virtual marketing team for any small business owner these days, is probably a pretty smart move.
Rand: I would say that’s absolutely true if people are searching for terms and phrases that are going to lead to your business. So if you run the kind of business that people search for in the internet, you got to be paying attention to this stuff.
Tim: Yeah. And okay, so to understand that, then… but what businesses aren’t people searching for in the internet? We’re not searching for chocolate bars but you know…
Rand: Sure. Yeah. So I’ll give an example. A lot of the folks that I know in the services industry who are doing very unique things like I know someone who does specifically work with, they’re a consultant for 3D printer technology. There’s not a lot of demand. Most of it is referral. That guy probably doesn’t need a website.
Tim: Yeah. Gotya.
Rand: Right. He’s a small business owner. He’s doing a very particular kind of consulting. Yeah, maybe he has a website but he’s not really worried about ranking for 3D printer consultations because there’s just not a lot of search volume for that. He knows who his ten customers might be and he has relationships with seven of them and great.
Tim: But for the average business that is being searched for on the internet, and SEO strategy is fundamental. What’s the best tool? Moz have got a way to identify those key words. I’m going back really to point one.
Tim: About relevancy.
Rand: Yeah, yeah.
Tim: But how do you identify those and how many should you identify of keywords?
Rand: The standard that everyone still uses is Google AdWords. I will say that Moz specifically one of the teams that I’m working with here at Moz, we’re working on our own keyword research tool that we hope to be able to get some of that data freed up from various sources not just AdWords. But AdWords is the place that I recommend. You can sign up for free account with AdWords. You can do keyword research for free in there, the numbers. You should definitely read an article about how to use AdWords keyword research tool because it does have a lot of nuances but it will show you “Here’s how many people last month searched for “plumber in Melbourne” versus “Melbourne Plumbing Company” versus “Clogged drains Melbourne” versus etc, etc.
Tim: Love it. Rand, we’re nearly there. User experience was the third thing you touched on. That’s pretty obvious. Load time, secure website, a well-presented website, a website that people want to spend time on because…
Tim: Google, I guess, look to that hang time or that bounce rate I guess so have a website that people want to really kind of explore.
Rand: Yeah. And I think one thing to be aware of is Google is not going to mind if you have a high bounce rate but a high query success rate. So for example, let’s say you searched for a rash on a dog like “I see a red rash on my dog’s hind legs” and you go to a vet’s website that happens to offer information about various kinds of rashes on dogs, and they say, “Oh this is usually from dogs that have spent time in tall grass and this particular insect” and they’re like “Oh, yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s what that was,” and you close your browser and you don’t perform a search again but you only spent 20 seconds browsing that website. That’s actually not bad. Google likes that.
Rand: They like that you delivered that information quickly, the person got their answer, and then they were done.
Tim: How do Google know that you just left that page because it wasn’t any good?
Rand: Here’s how they know that. Here’s how they know. Because the searcher did not click the back button and go back to the search results and click on someone else’s page and they didn’t perform a different search like okay “dog hind legs rash” something else.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Rand: If they see that you didn’t refine the query and you didn’t go back to the search results and click somebody else, they’re going to presume this website solved that searcher’s question.
Tim: That’s clever. They’re smart over there eh?
Rand: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I mean you don’t get the highest concentration of the world’s computer science PhD’s without coming up with some clever stuff.
Tim: Correct, including self-driving cars.
Rand: Yes. As a website builder, you have to be thinking like this. How can I quickly, efficiently, and effectively solve searcher’s problems in such a way that hopefully, they have a positive association with my site, they never have to go back to Google or search again? I solved their problem.
Tim: Rand, is there anything—I know there’s lots—but just again with putting the plumber, the vet, the masseur friend of mine whose got that website, is there any last tips or insights that you can say to this, this, and this? You know, just bang.
Rand: Yeah. I think a ton of folks have been talking in web marketing and in SEO about two things lately: One of them is social media and the other one is content marketing. And I would just say from a very broad perspective if you don’t love doing those things and you’re not good at them, I don’t necessarily recommend investing heavily in either. You can be successful especially as a small local business owner without investing a ton in Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, and those kinds of things. You probably should have a presence on at least Facebook and maybe one or two of the other ones but you don’t necessarily need to be a heavy user of those. Same is true of content. If you’ve heard “Hey, in order to be good at SEO, you need to blog and you need to create great content every month and…” but you just don’t have a passion for it or an interest in it, I would urge you not to go invest in those things. I would say invest in the marketing channels that you’re great at. If that’s one to one personal connections, awesome! If it’s you speaking at events and conferences, great! If it’s you filming video and sharing that, terrific! Maybe YouTube is a great channel for you. You should pursue the marketing channels that you’re passionate about, that you’re good at, and that your audience actually goes to and not necessarily where the latest online article that you caught says “Ten reasons no small business owner can do without Twitter.”
Tim: Just on social, what is Google looking at from a social point of view? I mean if a website or page on a website getting a lot of action from links on, say Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest? They’re backlinks aren’t they?
Rand: Sometimes, they’re direct backlinks but very often, they’re links that are no-followed meaning that the search engine knows not to count them. The real value from social is getting visitors, and traffic, and engagement that Google can and does measure, and then getting sort of a second order effect of the links, and references, and brand biasing, and all that kind of stuff that comes from having your website increase in popularity.
Tim: Gotya! Rand, I appreciate you so much for sharing some search engine optimization gold.
Rand: Yeah, my pleasure!
Tim: Actually, in finding you, I Googled “Top 100 SEO experts in the world.” An article came up that was written in the last couple of months. You were certainly in the top five and I tweeted all five, and you were the only one who responded so I think that says a lot about Rand Fishkin, the person.
Tim: So I thank you, mate.
Rand: Oh, my pleasure.
Tim: How can people find you? I love it when my listeners hit my guest app. Is it a Twitter thing?
Rand: Of course. Yeah, Twitter is great. I’m @RandFish. You’re welcome to also drop me an email, Rand@Moz.com. And you can find me blogging and sharing video regularly on the Moz blog which is Moz.com/blog.
Tim: Mate, I love your work. I’d love to have you back on. I’d love to think we might even be able to find a little arrangement where maybe you give a sort of one minute SEO tip every other week.
Rand: Oh, wow! My schedule is a little overwhelming but I would be happy to contribute in the future certainly, and we can try and schedule that. My assistant is great at doing stuff like that.
Tim: [Inaudible 58:18]. Thanks, Rand!
Rand: Thanks, Tim.
Tim: What an unbelievably good guy! I mean seriously. I could have kept speaking. Did you hear it in my voice? I just wanted to keep speaking to him. I would have gone on for ten hours if I could have. We have to get him out here one day. Maybe we can do a webinar or at least something, something more. He’s promised to answer the odd question here or there in future episodes. But as he said, he’s a busy guy. I was a bit tricky, wasn’t I? Asking him to come back and appear on each episode. Oh well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. What are your top three? What’s your number one takeout? I’d love to know it. But go and do it. Here’s my top three. Thanks to the good folk at Netregistry.com.au/Timbo. They got some great listener package. They got an SEO package. There you go. Start now! And my top three are also brought to you by 99designs.com/Timbo, free 99 dollar upgrade. Right-o! My learning number one: Pay more attention to your search engine optimization strategy like hopefully after that chat with Rand, it’s non-negotiable, right? It’s like it’s got to be part of your marketing if you’ve got a website. If you haven’t got a website, get one. Net Registry will sort you out there, right? Get a website and then focus your SEO activities. Put someone on a few hours a week but start to really make it a part of what your marketing’s about. Learning number two: Know your keywords. Rand’s idea of using Google AdWords, great! Open an account, it’s free. It doesn’t mean you have to go and run some ads. You might. But the keyword tool is fantastic so you key in what you’re about, what your business is about, and Google will tell you what people are searching for when looking for business like yours! Learning number three: Create specific pages for particular offerings. I see too many small business websites where they cram all their offerings, or all their products, or all their service descriptions under one page. Google won’t know what that’s about! Break it up. One offer, one product, one page. Good detail, complete your page title, get a few backlinks. I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did bring it to you. I love bringing you stuff like that because I know it’s going to make a difference to your business. Let Rand know on Twitter. Hit him up on Twitter. Let me know—I know there’ll be discussion inside the forum about this interview—you can join the forum over at crankmymarketing.com or simply go to smallbusinessbigmarketing.com and leave a comment in the show notes, episode 262. Please, yeah I’m begging now. I’m loving the comments in the show and those that backed off a little last week, I want them to come back, every single one of you leave a comment, then there’ll be thousands, and thousands, and thousands of comments. And I love that. Very famous ad man, Leo Burnett once said about advertising, “Make it simple, make it memorable, make it inviting to look at, make it fun to read.”
Whoa! That was a long episode but well worth it. Plenty of marketing gold coming your way in the coming weeks and months. Be sure to hit Net Registry up if you need a website, if you need some search engine optimization love, hey! Hit them up. Go over to Netregistry.com.au/Timbo and grab one of their exclusive listener packages. And grab your free 99 dollar design upgrade over at 99designs.com/Timbo. If you need a speaker for an upcoming event, then I’m all yours. I’ve got approached by listener and forum member in Norway this week. I think I might be too expensive for them. Oh, break my heart. I’d love to go to Norway. Anyway, maybe you’ve got a conference closer to home. I’m free. Timreid.com.au. If you want to surround yourself with absolutely motivated business owners, then join the Small Business Big Marketing forum. Just join. Give it a month. See how you go. Head over to Crankmymarketing.com. Until next week, I’m Timbo Reid, always have been, always will be. May your marketing be the best marketing. Bye for now.