In this episode:
Interview – How to do SEO right with Phil Singleton
Phil Singleton is one of those guys who seems to do 15 things all at once. His background, like many of us is not web design and development. He started in finance and insurance and hated it. He was suffering from anxiety and a general lack of confidence. So he quit his job and moved to Taiwan to see what the world had to offer. He worked there for about 10 years and in that time ended up working in technology selling software which ripped DVDs!
He noticed that some people who were affiliates for the DVD product were getting paid serious money for driving traffic to their website, and that all boiled down to… Google and Search.
Having sold that company and moved back to the USA he decided that it was time to get serious about learning how Search Engines work. So he built a few websites using FrontPage and DreamWeaver! Although he was not too sure that the sites were the best looking, he knew that the SEO was done well, and so did his customers. His early clients would call him up with stories about how his website builds had transformed their businesses! From that moment Phil knew there was a business to be made just working on SEO!
At this point we’re in 2005 and from then on building sites and selling SEO services became the core of what he wanted to do. Phil speaks about the benefit of getting clients via their need to have a website, but then turning that client into someone who sees the value in making that site work really well in Search. One inquiry, multiple jobs!
We talk about what SEO really is and how is has changed. It used to be more about on-page SEO and making sure that there were loads of pages with all the correct keywords spread over those pages, as well as link building back to your website. Now, it’s more about multiple strands all going back to your main site. Social media, content marketing, blog posts, podcasts, writing books. Google is now fantastic at looking all over the place and finding lots of different signals which go towards your position in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
The short story is, SEO is now a huge subject, and it’s getting more complex all the time. How do you keep up with the latest news and trends? How do you make sure that the information you’re giving out to clients is current and not out of date? It’s a never-ending cycle, and it boils down to keeping your ear to the ground and listening to voices of authority and acting upon their advice. It’s a never-ending quest just to keep up!
Is SEO an art or a science? Is there a creative streak you need to have to be effective, or is it all just about sweating the numbers and data? Phil thinks most people simply don’t apply the basics; if they did, they’d find it easier than they think.
The basics according to Phil are:
- Do your keyword research – find out how people are searching to find your products and services
- If you can, do the SEO keyword search before you start to build the site. It will inform you about the content you will need to have
- Understand the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (see link below) and then use that document to explain to your clients how you will leverage this to improve their website
We talk about the Google updates of yesteryear and how they were sometimes calamitous; the updates were sometimes responsible from ruining long established businesses. Thankfully, this horrific updates seem to be a thing of the past, and more recent updates have been less of a cliff edge and more incremental.
I often notice that my relationship with Google alters the results I get. I’m logged into Google all the time and I’m phoning home data about me. I speak to devices in my house and keep a complete history of everything I’ve ever done. The result of this is that I receive a set of results which are tailored to me, and me alone. I know that Google has this as an ambition; to make the most relevant results ‘for me’ appear based upon what I’ve done and where I am. On the face of it, this would appear to make the job of an SEO almost impossible as how can you know what data Google holds on each of us? Phil sounds a word of caution explaining that, whilst this is true, often searches are for things we’ve not looked for before and so the old rules still apply!
If you’re starting out, is SEO something you should bother to learn? It’s such a deep and complex subject, perhaps you’re better letting the experts deal with SEO, whilst you concentrate upon the website build. Phil says ‘no’. There is still a great need for all people building for the web to understand the core components of how SEO works.
This is a very nice chat with a very experienced SEO practitioner. I really enjoyed this and I hope that you do too.