S. 3 Ep. 35 – Impactful SEO: Backlinks & Relevancy

Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 3 Ep 35 - Impactful SEO Backlinks And Relevancy with SpeakerFlow and Brandon Leibowitz

We’ve covered Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) on this podcast a fair number of times, but we’ve rarely gotten into the details.

In this episode, we’re changing that and diving right into the podcast equivalent of the beginner’s guide to SEO for thought leaders.

Joining us is Brandon Leibowitz from SEO Optimizers, “a digital marketing company that focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses get more online traffic, which in turn converts into clients, sales, leads, etc.”

Here, Brandon outlines the basics of SEO including what backlinks are, what relevancy is, and what type of content you should be producing.

He also summarizes how to prioritize your SEO strategies if you’re starting from ground zero.

Let’s get into it!

Watch the Podcast 👀

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Show Notes 📓

✅ Connect with Brandon: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandonleibowitz

✅ Learn more about SEO Optimizers: https://seooptimizers.com/

📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU

🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/

🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription 🤓

Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business, maybe it’s standing onstage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed, and time just seems to slip by? This is called The Flow State. At Speaker Flow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.

Austin: Boom. All right, we are live. Brandon, man, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate taking some time out of your Friday.

Brandon: Yeah, thanks for having me on today.

Austin: Yeah, of course, man. This is one of our favorite topics because it’s one of the areas where sort of the art and science of something have a juncture because there are lots of components to SEO that are pretty procedural and repeatable, but it also very much has to be tailored to the business that you’re working with. And there’s just the, being able to dig into the details to really make the impact happen part of it that I think is where some people get lost and why there are lots of YouTube content out there and stuff about this stuff that people can watch but doesn’t really help them. So, hey, we’re excited for you to come in and sort of help us unpack what feels pretty intimidating, I think; to a lot of people. So, once again, thank you for being willing to do that for our listeners.

Brandon: Glad to demystify it. Hopefully, I can make it a little bit more understandable and easier and less confusing.

Austin: Yeah. Hey, we say all of whole time the true mark of an expert is somebody that takes something very complex and makes it easier to understand for somebody that has no box for this. So, tell us, man, what led us here, how did you get into the SEO space? What it been like so far that’s brought you to where you’re at today?

Brandon: Well, I got my degree in business marketing and after I graduated from school, the first job I got out of school was helping a company out with their digital marketing, and I didn’t really know much about digital marketing, this was back in 2007. They said, don’t worry, we don’t know much either. We’re going to learn alongside with you. Which that was kind of interesting and decided to check it out. And after working there for a few months, just realized this is probably the future. Everyone’s going to have a website and there are a lot of different ways to get traffic like SEO, I was helping out what their paid ads, doing email marketing, doing social media, doing it all and everything works to get traffic, which I’d recommend everyone should try to get traffic from as many different sources as possible. 

But SEO is just one that gets you free traffic, and I thought, why I spend money on paid ads if you get up there for free. And over the years just worked at different advertising agencies and before work or after work and on my lunch breaks, I’d work on my own company and built that up to where I was able to eventually quit my job and focus solely on this and have been doing that ever since.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: Wow.

Taylorr: Very cool.

Austin: That’s cool, man.

Taylorr: Sounds like a natural kind of segue. Well, what made you go down the path of starting your own company? That’s obviously not for the faint of heart, so what led you down that?

Brandon: I always had an entrepreneurial spirit growing up and knew that I wanted to have my own company one day, in high school, I made a skateboarding company, so always had an idea that I might want to do something with having my own company, just didn’t know where it would take me. And after I got my degree in business marketing and I got that first job and actually went to a couple of conferences, they were talking about digital marketing and SEO and a lot of the speakers were talking about how they have their own company and they’re working or, yeah, for themselves they have an affiliate or dropshipping, this was back in 2007. And that kind of spark manages, where I was like, all right, I could work full-time at this job and I could also pick up freelance clients here or there. 

I could go to a restaurant or a doctor or anything where it wasn’t a conflict of interest and pick up clients, and it’s only going to help me grow because I’m learning SEO after work. So, I was helping them when I show up for work to better know what tactics and strategies to utilize and just kept going from there ever since.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah.

Austin: Well, that’s kind of the true entrepreneurial story, somebody that knows that they want to start a business and then when the opportunity or the gap presents itself, you hone in on it. It almost sounds like you found the passion in it as you really began doing it instead of knowing that that’s where your heart was going to be from the start, is that an accurate assumption that I’m making?

Brandon: Yeah, I didn’t really know much about SEO or digital marketing in 2007, so knew more traditional, that’s what they teach you in school. So, they taught a little bit about digital but not much. So, after I got that first job is where I got introduced to it and just realized this is the future and this is a way to get people exposure online and helping businesses succeed and this is a way that I could help them grow online.

Austin: Yeah. Well, damn; you definitely bet on the right horse, my friend, because that is the only way anymore. So, I think most people hear SEO and immediately think blogging. That’s obviously a factor, but can you maybe just start this conversation off by giving us a breakdown of the different factors or elements that fit into the SEO umbrella?

Brandon: There are over 200 factors, but I like to say it’s like a puzzle, there are a lot of pieces to that puzzle, over 200 pieces, but some pieces are much bigger than others. So, an important thing is content on your website. So, making sure that you have the right keyword; well, first doing keyword research, figuring out what keywords you want to put on your website. Then make sure you put the right keywords in the different areas on your website, all of these technical kind of coding areas. But one place that’s easy that you don’t need any coding, is just adding text on your website. Google feeds off text, they can’t really read images or videos or audio yet; they’re getting better at it, but they still really rely heavily on text. 

So, the more text you have on every single page on your website, the easier it is for the search engines to read, understand, and know what your website’s about. But, unfortunately, they don’t really care what you put on your website because they just don’t believe anything that you put on a website, because too many people have tricked Google over the years that they just look at any website and say, all right, how do we know you really are who you say you are? Because we don’t want to just send people to your website and find out that you don’t exist or you’re scamming people or whatever it may be, so you have to build trust up. 

And the way to build trust is by getting what are called backlinks, getting other websites to talk about you. The more websites that talk about you, the more trust Google’s going to give to you. And then they look at those keywords on your website, but it doesn’t work the other way around. And a backlink, for example, would be a clickable link from another website that points to your website, so let’s say you’re reading an article in entrepreneur.com. In there it says Brandon Leibowitz, if you click on that and it goes to my website, I’d be getting a backlink from entrepreneur.com. So, the more websites that talk about you, it’s kind of like a popularity contest, the more trust Google’s going to give to you.

Taylorr: Yeah. So, as far as backlinking goes, is that something that people should be pursuing on a regular basis or is it something that should happen naturally in your opinion, of course, we’re talking shoulds here, based on the content that you have and then people just naturally linking to you because of the good content? Or do you think there should be an outreach strategy involved?

Brandon: Both. You want to write good content that naturally attracts people, but how are they going to find you if you don’t start and initiate that traction? So, you’re a brand new business and you’re just writing really good content, it’s going to be tough for people to find you. If you share on social, you might not have a big following yet, but the more you share that content and get the exposure and collaborate with other people that they could share, maybe your blog on their Instagram or their Twitter and they might have a bigger audience. So, you’re kind of tapping into their audience and you have to have to nudge it a little bit, every company does initially, once they get bigger, you don’t really have to do the outreach, but once you’re starting off you have to do some initiation to get that traction going.

Austin: Is that something that is straightforward to do, I’d say? Are publications or places that accept backlinks regularly, is this a hard conversation to have with somebody or is it enough to just be able to create, let’s say a great piece of content for their audience specifically?

Brandon: Yeah, you just have to build that relationship, that’s the tough part, is building a relationship because you have to think how many websites get messaged all day long about contributors. So, a way around that is you can look at your competitors’ backlinks, there are tools that will show me any website’s backlinks, so I can look at my competitors. See who’s on that first page of Google for my keywords, throw them into different tools like Ahrefs or Moz or Semrush; you have to pay for these tools, but they’ll show you all of your competitors’ backlinks. 

And then one by one you could look at which backlinks are relevant and authoritative and reach out to those sites, because if your competitors are ranked on that first page of Google, it’s more than likely because of those backlinks. And if you could build similar backlinks that are of quality, quality meaning that they’re relevant and authoritative, not just picking any backlink. Because in the past, the number of backlinks was how you’d rank. If I have a hundred and you have 200, you would rank higher than me, but now it’s not the number of backlinks, it’s the number of quality backlinks. And what is a quality backlink to Google? Quality backlink just means it’s from a site that’s related to what you’re doing; that’s really important. 

So, if you’re selling tennis shoes, you want a backlink from another website about fashion or clothing. It doesn’t have to be another shoe company, but anything somewhat related; if a doctor is linking out to the shoe company, it’s looks a little weird, it doesn’t really align. So, relevancy is really important and then authoritativeness, how big is this website? If you’re getting a backlink from my website, which is not a bad one, it’ll be good, but it’s not the same quality as a Forbes or New York Times or LA Times. So, the bigger the website, the more SEO value and the more relevant, the better it’s going to be.

Taylorr: Sure, that makes perfect sense. Does reputation have anything to do with SEO, like reviews, testimonials, these types of things? And if so, where would they need to be in order to boost your organic presence?

Brandon: I would say that’s more for local. So, if you’re trying to get ranked on Google Maps, you’ll see the reviews there or Yelp, you’ll see reviews, but it’s not the number of reviews. Because you could search on Google for dentists near me and the first one on Google Maps might have five reviews, the second one could have a hundred reviews, the third one could have 200 reviews, so it’s not really a number of reviews; well, there are a lot of variables in it. But one thing that’s really important is keywords in reviews; that is so very important, because you can put keywords all over your description about your business, who you are, you want to fill all that stuff out completely. 

If it says write 500 characters about your business, you want to write 500 characters; you don’t want to write 200 characters because text is what all of these websites feed off. So, you want to fill it up with as much content as possible, and then you want to also make sure your images have keywords. So, you don’t want to just upload images to your website or to Google Maps or Yelp, you want to name these images with descriptive words or podcast episodes before you upload them. And then you want to get reviews with keywords. 

So, if you know someone’s going to write a review, you can, maybe ask them, hey, can you mention a city that I live? I do SEO in Los Angeles, so if I could get someone to write a review that I was looking for an SEO company in Los Angeles, I found Brandon, he lives in Venice and helped me out ranking my business in Santa Monica, so hitting all these different keywords in the review, that really moves you up. But it’s not really a number of reviews and I don’t think they’re going to rank a website that has low quality reviews.

So, if you’re a one star business but you have all of these keywords in your reviews, I don’t think that’s going to really help out. They want to show quality, so I’m not sure what the cutoff is of their threshold that they’re not going to show below that, probably three stars or higher, I believe. But just make sure to get those reviews with keywords that helps out so much on pretty much every platform; Google, Yelp, Amazon, pretty much anywhere where you can write reviews, if you could put keywords in there, that’s going to really shoot you up in rankings very fast.

Taylorr: Does that only apply to local, though, or service-based businesses as well? Because we think about the context of our audience. I could imagine even if you serve a nationwide audience and you’re a service-based business, if you were tapping into, let’s say Google my business for putting in reviews and people were mentioning your speaking or your topics or whatever, that has to help to some degree, right?

Brandon: For the local presence, yeah. For national, it’s not going to help too much. It might have a little bit of an impact interest, but I would definitely put reviews on your website for people to see.

Taylorr: Sure.

Brandon: Because that’s going to help people trust you more, I don’t know how much it’s going to help Google. It adds more text to your website, which is always a good thing, more text; as long as it’s not screenshot, you embed those reviews as text, that would be beneficial. But if it’s just screenshots, I don’t think they’re going to do much.

Taylorr: Interesting.

Austin: Yeah. So, with all of these different methods, I guess; of improving SEO, what do you feel like are the ones that are maybe the most underutilized, relative to the impact that they can have?

Brandon: Yeah, probably the backlinks. Backlinks are so important, but you have to build the right type of backlinks because if you build the wrong type of backlinks, instead of ranking you higher, it’s going to drop you down. So, you have to make sure you find sites that are related to what you’re doing and just focus on quality, not quantity, but a lot of people don’t know about backlinks or don’t build backlinks or they’ll build the wrong type of backlinks and that’s where it’s just so important. Google’s whole algorithm started based off backlinks, it’s still heavily based off of backlinks; it’s changed a lot how they look at them, but still has a big impact on the rankings. 

That’s why Google became populars, is they ranked websites off of backlinks versus whatever Yahoo or [Hash Gs – 13:01] or whatever these search engines were doing before, which was probably just based off keywords and not looking at backlinks.

Austin: Wow.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: So, what are some of the other areas that you’ve seen change over time in this capacity, either related to backlinks or otherwise? I’m sure over the past what, 15 years or something that you’ve been in this space now? There have been some major changes beyond just the tried and true. Is there anything, maybe up and coming that you feel people should be aware of?

Brandon: Google’s looking a lot at user experience, how people behave on your website because in the past I could just rank you for your keywords and you would rank, but now Google’s like, all right, if you rank number one and everyone goes to your website and when they hit that back button after a few seconds, that’s probably a negative signal and that’s a bad user experience. So, that’s one thing that Google’s looking at now is how do people behave once they get to your website? Do they hit that back button immediately? If so, then they’ll drop you down and just making sure that people stay on your website, that’s part of what Google’s looking at nowadays. They’ve been doing that for a couple of years, but that seems like it’s more prevalent nowadays.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Sure, that makes sense.

Austin: I expect as much about how the website is designed and organized as it is about the relevancy of the traffic that’s going there. Right? Is this one of the reasons why you said, maybe the wrong backlinks could happen, is you’re pushing the wrong traffic and because they don’t actually care about what’s there and now they’re bouncing and you’re getting that negative hit to Google?

Brandon: Yeah, it all ties together, so you have to make sure you’re putting the right keywords on your website because people be like, what’s trending? Let me put these keywords on my website because it’s trending, but putting Justin Bieber on your website is going to get you a lot of traffic, but is it the right traffic if you’re trying to sell e-commerce; unless you’re selling Justin Bieber fan stuff. But if not, you have to figure out who your audience is because traffic is just traffic, if it’s not targeted; it’s not going to do much.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: Uh-huh.

Taylorr: Where does video fit into the mix of all of this now, especially with Google’s acquisition of YouTube a while back and SEO being prevalent there and it functioning, practically like a search engine, especially now that the two are fairly integrated, do you find a big benefit to using SEO in video as well?

Brandon: Well, if you have video content, you want to optimize it, that way it shows up on YouTube or whatever platform you’re on. But also you want to make sure that when you search on Google, sometimes you’ll see that a video shows up in Google search results. So, having a presence on YouTube could get you more free real estate on Google because Google owns YouTube and when you search on Google, they’re not really going to show Facebook video, sometimes they will, but most of the time it’s going to be YouTube because Google only cares about making money. 

And the first thing that happens when you search on Google is there are ads at the top, if you don’t click on an ad, Google’s not making money. But if you scroll down and there are websites, then there are videos and if it’s a YouTube video and you click on it, the first thing that appears anytime you watch a video, there’s always an advertisement. So, YouTube is making money, which is really Google making money, so they’re going to keep pushing YouTube as much as they can, and the video content, definitely throw it up on YouTube, optimize it similarly to how you would optimize the page on a website, like doing keyword research, putting keywords in the title, description, and if you can transcribe the video, because again, text is very important. 

Or if it’s a long form of video, an hour long video, probably don’t want to transcribe the whole thing, but you can timestamp it and write a description, because if not, Google’s not going to know what that page or YouTube’s not going to really know, they’re getting better, but they still need your help. And then you could take that video, you could embed it on your website, you could make it a blog post, you could write content around it, because the more websites that embed your video, it’s like backlinks to YouTube, the higher they’re going to rank that video.

And also if you embed that video on a website and it gets 10,000 views, those 10,000 views get attributed to your YouTube channel. So, you want to try to get as many third-party sites to embed that video, but also share it on Facebook Video, uploading it separately from YouTube, from Facebook, from Instagram, from LinkedIn to Twitter. You don’t want to just share a YouTube video on Facebook, it’s not going to work, they’re not going to show the video, you have to upload it natively to those platforms. But you could try cross promoting it and see if your audience would want to tap in, but share it as many places as possible to get that exposure.

Austin: Do you get the same type of effect from a link being shared on social media as you would something like Forbes or something like that?

Brandon: No, Google doesn’t really count social media. So, anything where it’s too easy to get a backlink, it’s probably not going to help, so social media doesn’t really help out because, and also it’s not relevant, it’s all about relevancy. So, if you’re getting a backlink from social media sites, unless you’re doing social media, you probably don’t want all of your backlinks coming from social media because then it’s going to just link to your social media website, so relevancy is number one. Forbes is okay, but there’s no relevancy with those sites either, it’s really authoritative, it’s a big site, but there’s no real relevancy. 

And most of those big sites, unfortunately; are not going to account for SEO. It’s a tag that Google made 10 years ago for websites like Wikipedia where too many people are just going to Wikipedia making changes, putting their backlink at the bottom of Wikipedia and Wikipedia’s like, hold on, we’re getting way too much spam, this is not good. Google’s like, here’s a tag called no follow. You could put this on your website and it’s going to tell us not to count any of these backlinks for SEO. 

So, all social media has no follow, any of these big websites like Forbes, Huffington Post, New York Times, LA Times, they’ve all been spammed a lot because there are writers that you could pay and they’ll write content about you and Google’s like, hold on, we don’t want people just paying a couple of thousand dollars to these writers. It’s really kind of sketchy and shady where you’ll pay writers and they’ll throw a backlink in there or a quote from you in these websites and you’ll get a backlink, and it used to work really well, now it doesn’t work so much. 

I wouldn’t overthink it too much looking for the no follow tag, if it’s in the page, it’s there and it’s not bad because if all of your backlinks came from what’s called do follow links, that also looks a little weird. You should have a mix of no follow and do follow and it’s fine to have some social media, but the majority of your backlinks need to come from relevant websites, that’s really the most important.

Taylorr: Yeah. So, it sounds like they need to do, if you’re go going to do backlinking strategy effectively, you really have to find publications and blogs and companies within your niche that aren’t paid PR media strategies. There are kind of smaller entities that have relevant information and that’s going to give you the most power. Am I capturing that right?

Brandon: Yeah. You just have to get on relevant sites. Sometimes they’ll ask for compensation and you’re not supposed to pay these sites, but people do all of the time. But we want to try to, as we talked about earlier, try to get it naturally, you don’t want to be asking for these backlinks, but sometimes you have to start that conversation, initiate it, or they’ll even reach out to you and say, Hey, I have these backlinks for sale, would you like to buy it? And then I’d be careful making sure that they’re good quality ones because people doing that are usually selling these spammy backlinks.

Taylorr: Sure, that makes sense.

Austin: Wow. I feel like that’s something that gets talked about so often, so I’m glad you canceled that myth out for those that may have been tempted to jump on one of those offers. Go ahead, Taylorr, I cut you off there.

Taylorr: Oh, yeah, I was just thinking of a scenario in my head. So, who knows, we’re kind of just speculating here, because we don’t really know the ins and outs of any of these algorithms necessarily. But let’s say there’s a high authority website, not the most relevant, versus a lower authority website, but much more relevant and those two backlinking scenarios, which one do you think has more power?

Brandon: I’d say the more relevant one, because, for example, they might be starting off and they might be a new blog and they’re really relevant but they don’t have much authority because they’re new. But in a year or two, if they keep working at it and building it up, which you hope they do and hope they don’t just give up and go out of business, but if they keep building it up, then their authority will go up and it’s from a really, really relevant website. 

So, I’d be focused on relevancy number one, authoritativeness is secondary but relevancy is just so very important because that’s such a; because when someone searches it on Google, they want to give you relevant results and the way they figure out what’s relevant is they look at the content on your website but they also look at the backlinks and where those back links are coming from for relevancy. They just want everything to align and be as relevant as possible.

Taylorr: Right. That makes sense because they’re trying to craft the best user experience possible. So, the way that they can do that is by showing you the most relevant things, I would imagine.

Brandon: Yeah. That’s their main focus is relevancy, good user experience so you stay on Google and don’t go to Bing or Yahoo or any of the other search engines.

Austin: Yeah. Are those other search engines worth thinking about yf we’re talking about SEO here?

Taylorr: Yeah. Does it carry over if you optimize for Google, let’s say?

Brandon: They’re all different algorithms, but they’re similar-ish for the most part. But I would check tools like Google Analytics or any tracking tool to see where your traffic’s coming from so you could optimize for those platforms, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a website bring in more traffic than Google. And this is me looking at, probably thousands of websites over the years. Google probably brings in, maybe 20 to 60% of the traffic. Bing will bring about 1%, Yahoo will bring about 1% DuckDuckGo might bring half a percentage and then the rest is going to come from people typing your website in directly, social media, email marketing, paid ads or a ton of other ways. But majority of the traffic for the most part is going to come from Google. 

But every website is different, so you should check and if you see that you’re getting a bunch of traffic from Bing or another search engine, you could try to figure out what’s going on, how could I optimize better for that search engine? But in general, Google just kind of runs the show for now.

Taylorr: Sure.

Austin: Yeah. Well, more power to them, I suppose. What are some other things that you see people talking about relating to SEO that don’t work the way that, maybe they’re sold to work, the whole buy a backlink idea? Is there anything else you can think of?

Brandon: Page speed, everyone thinks that’s really important and it’s important for people when they get to your website that it loads quickly. But everyone’s like, do you have a fast loading website? Google says that you have to have a fast loading website and there are tools like Google Page Speed Insight that will show you how fast your website loads and almost every website fails that test. And I’ll look at my competitors that are ranked on that first page of Google, they’ll usually fail that test. 

So, page speed, a lot of people put a lot of emphasis on it, which is definitely important for people, if I go to your website and it loads in five seconds, especially on mobile, I’m going to hit that back button. I’m like, come on now, there are 10 other results on that first page of Google plus ads, plus videos, images, maps, there’s a lot of noise and distractions there, plenty of options, so if you don’t capture them right away, they’re going to that back button.

Taylorr: Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Austin: Yeah. And that translates then to poor user experience, meaning bounces, meaning worse SEO in Google’s eyes. Again, trying to tie this all back together. Yeah.

Taylorr: So, it’s not necessarily Google outranking, but it’s the user experience that’s suffering. So, it kind of creates that compound effect it seems.

Brandon: Yeah.

Taylorr: So, let’s just start from scratch here. Let’s say, somebody hasn’t put a lot of emphasis into SEO over time, maybe they’re pretty inconsistent with writing blogs, certainly no backlink outreach, there are so many; they could focus on YouTube as well. There are so many things to be doing on top of all of the other things we need to be doing as business owners too. What’s the order of operations that you find to be reasonable for somebody venturing down the path of working on their own SEO if they’re kind of starting from ground zero, what are the things that they should be doing and what’s the order of them?

Brandon: Keyword research. Start off figuring out what keywords you want to rank for, that way you don’t have to backtrack and use tools like the Google Keyword Planner, it’s a free tool. It’ll show you how many people search for your keywords every single month. And it’ll also show you how many people search for the synonyms and plurals and variations that you might not have thought of and then you can pick and choose what keywords are relevant, throw them into the website. So, first doing the keyword research, then optimizing your website, but also in conjunction, building backlinks. Because if you optimize your website but you don’t have any backlinks, you can make your website perfectly optimized, but without backlinks, they’re just not going to trust you, unfortunately. 

So, I’d actually start building backlinks as soon as possible and optimizing what we were talking about, doing the keyword research, putting the keywords into different places on the website. Start building out your website. Start building out as many pages as possible because the more pages you have, the more keywords you could target, because each page can only really target about three to five words max. After that it kind of loses relevancy, so the more pages you have, the more keywords you could target and the more exposure and visibility you’re going to get. 

So, that’s why blogging became popular, it’s like, all right, I created all of these pages about all of the services I offer. I don’t know what to create, I don’t know what other pages, but blogs are like, okay, you write blogs and this is a way to add more content, new pages to your website. It also tells Google that you’re still relevant because Google looks at if your website’s been updated. And if your website hasn’t been updated in, let’s say five years, Google’s like, are you still in business? Even though you probably are, or you might still be. But to Google they might be like, all right, no one’s updated this website, are they still around? So, little updates like blogs help keep Google coming to your website and knowing that you’re still in business, you’re relevant and that you should hopefully be shown for those keywords.

Taylorr: Sure.

Austin: It has to be so challenging to try to keep track of all of these things. It’s crazy that there are just all of these tiny little factors and I’m sure that are being updated every day that you have to stay on top of; empathetically, I feel for the amount of work that you must put in to try to stay on top of all of the changes that are being made.

Brandon: It is tricky because Google changes every single day, so what works today doesn’t necessarily work tomorrow, but for the most part Google’s really just looking for spam and trying to stop spam or, so as long as you’re not doing anything weird or sketchy, you don’t have to worry too much. But Google’s constantly changing, it’s what keeps it interesting, but also makes it tough.

Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. I can already hear some of the people on the other end of this interview just kind of listening in, especially when it comes to keyword optimization and research and so on. I think it can be easy to jump to keyword stuffing. If you land on a keyword like, I don’t know, leadership speaker, you build a page and you’re just repeating that every, I don’t know, other word it seems like, but it’s not really enticing or exciting to write. What’s the balance between making sure your pages are optimized for a certain keyword but still preserving the human element?

Brandon: I would just write for people, don’t worry about putting keywords in 10 times for every hundred word or 400 words or whatever people say nowadays, where it’s like, that stuff used to work in the past, so as long as you just write for people. Because Google, nowadays they’re, it’s called the Semantic Web and Google started this back in, I think 2013, where their understanding the human language, it’s like AI that they started back then and they’re still pretty far away from it, but they’re trying to understand the human language. And sometimes people search with words that aren’t necessarily keywords, where I’ll see people searching for a phrase. 

And then when I go to these websites on that first page of Google, they’re mentioning other keywords that are more high search volume. So, in the past, I’d say keyword research, it still is pretty important, but in the future it’s probably not going to be as important. But for now you definitely still want to do it, but I would just find those high search volume keywords using the Google Keyword Planner and just try to put them in there naturally, don’t try to overstuff them. 

The most important place is the title of the article, blog, press release, podcast, whatever you’re doing, but that’s where you need to put those keywords, is put as many keywords as possible in that title without repeating them, that’s where you could do the keyword research to figure out, do I want to use a singular or a plural for the title? Because it’s really, really important in the title of whatever content you’re putting out there, that’s where you need to make sure those keywords are. And then sprinkled in throughout the text should be those keywords, if they don’t emerge, then you’re probably not writing about the right topic, but you don’t want to just throw them in there just to throw it in there, but it should definitely be there at least once or twice in that content, you just don’t want to overdo it too much.

Austin: Well, I know we’re getting close here, but this brings up a question that I feel like I have to ask, and that’s how is AI affecting SEO moving forward, right? Where I take, probably a third of the questions that I used to put into Google and put them into ChatGPT now. Is there anything that people should be thinking about as it relates to these emerging technologies, let’s call them?

Brandon: Yeah, that one is so new that we don’t really know how to optimize for those, but it’s kind of like featured snippet or like Siri, where you ask it the question, it’s just going to go into Google or whatever search engine it’s using, or Alexa, same thing; where it’s going to pull the first website and pull the first answer. So, if you’re not ranked number one, then you’re not going to get that answer sent out to you or given to you. But we still have to figure out how exactly they’re pulling that content, are they going to websites? 

But it doesn’t really work for transactional, like e-commerce can’t really buy on ChatGPT yet; we’ll have to see if they incorporate that in the future. But stuff like that still probably are going to be more Google heavy, but we’ll have to see what happens in the future because no one knows, everything changes so quickly nowadays, which keeps it interesting.

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