Rebecca has a well-rounded business background and over twenty years of experience in sales and online marketing. In addition to running the day to day activities of Web Savvy Marketing, she also provides full-service SEO consulting, one-on-one SEO coaching, publishes online SEO courses, hosts a weekly SEO podcast, and teaches onsite SEO Bootcamps. She loves to teach the latest SEO strategies and help businesses grow their online footprint.
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3 Key Points:
- SEO allows you control the journey of your online brand.
- Gone are the days of keyword density — it’s now all about semantic searches.
- You have to ask the right questions to be able to set up the right SEO for your business.
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Audio Masterclass Show Notes
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
- [00:07] – Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: Rocking the World of SEO
- [01:31] – Tune in to learn more about Rebecca’s background
- [03:13] – What SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is…
- SEO’s job is to help the search engines present your CONTENT in the best way possible
- Rebecca goes deep as to WHY SEO is so critical for entrepreneurs
- JLD talks about how his short Libsyn Promo Code post has gained him thousands of $$$
- [07:49] – SEO works for all online brands
- Controlling Your Online Destiny — How SEO helps you do this
- [08:45] – Ask the right questions to excel at SEO
- Ask yourself who you’re serving. Who is your market and what is the problem that you’re trying to solve? Know your customer and their pain points.
- What do you offer, what sets you apart, and how can you connect with your target market on the things they’re struggling with?
- [11:08] – Fact: Google is NOT the ONLY search engine out there. There’s YouTube and Bing, too. A tip to help you slay these search engines is to Stay Focused on the user experience. If you do this well, then you will rank
- [13:06] – JLD shares a couple of practical examples for you, Fire Nation!
- Check Quora for questions, and then use those questions as the basis of your posts
- Long-tail typing in Google — know what other people are searching for
- KW Finder — Listen how Rebecca uses KW Finder, and what you can do with the results
- SEM Rush
- Answer the Public
- [23:29] – Rebecca talks about where SEO and Traditional Marketing meet
- The best link building techniques = traditional marketing or old-fashioned PR
- Blending the new and the old might be your key to marketing success!
- [25:41] – How to use link building to grow your SEO and your personal brand – tune in to hear the value bombs being dropped!
- Link Building still exists!
- Rebecca talks about how she gets organic links
- Tune in to learn about the plethora of successful strategies Rebecca lists out to help you get the right links back to your site
- Do Follow VS No Follow links
- Bad links and how you can get rid of them
- [35:00] – The difference in today’s SEO from yesteryear’s SEO
- Keyword density is dead. Today, it’s all about semantic search
- The focus on technical SEO
- Mobile-friendly websites that have clean codes
- [38:40] – Rebecca explains technical SEO further. Listen to understand why it’s important right now
- Using structured data to help searchers find what they’re looking for
- [41:18] – Rebecca’s parting piece of guidance: SEO is a journey. It is NOT a destination. Work on it over time and the rewards will be long-term.
JLD: Light that spark, Fire Nation. JLD here bringing you Episode 2013 of Entrepreneurs on Fire. And this is an audio master class, an audio master class of Rocking the World of SEO. My friends, you’ve heard the word before. You probably know a little bit about it, maybe some of you know a lot about it. You know a lot of us know almost none about it.
This episode by Rebecca Gill is absolutely on fire. She is gonna drop value bomb after value bomb about how you can rock the world of SEO. And this is not rocket science, Fire Nation. This is something that you can implement in your business today and make massive changes and improvements in what you have going on when people go to Google and type keywords relevant to your business.
Now, who is Rebecca? Well, she has a well-rounded business background and over 20 years of experience in both sales and online marketing. And in addition to running the day to day activities of web savvy marketing, she also provides full service SEO consulting, one-on-one SEO coaching, publishes online SEO courses, hosts a weekly SEO podcast, and teaches onsite SEO boot camps. She loves to teach the latest SEO strategies and help businesses grow their online footprints. All right, Fire Nation, hold on to those afterburners, and away we go!
Rebecca, say what’s up to Fire Nation and share one thing about yourself that we’ll find unique and interesting.
Rebecca: Well, hello, Fire Nation. I’m excited to be here. I will tell you the unique thing about me currently is the fact that I am a city girl, soon to be farm girl. And given the fact that I can’t tell the difference between a weed and a flower, that makes it an interesting transition.
JLD: Where are you moving from, and where are you moving to?
Rebecca: I am moving from metro Detroit inside Michigan up to northern Michigan. We bought 27 acres, and I’m gonna learn how to birth cows and shear alpacas.
JLD: I think you need those alpacas, at least their fur, because all I think of is brrr when I think of northern Michigan. Is that right?
Rebecca: It is very accurate, yes.
JLD: Being a Mainer, I can say that with complete sympathy and understanding. So, Fire Nation, we’re gonna be killing this master class today in a good way. We’re gonna be talking about the world of SEO, but specifically, Rebecca is gonna be rocking the world of SEO. And this is something that a lot of us struggle with. Here I am almost six years into my business, and it’s still one of the main things that I have my CTO working on.
SEO this, ranking that, Google Analytics. All these different things – you just have to stay on top of your game because when it comes down to it, people go to Google and they type in questions. And when they’re typing in questions that you have the answer to and that you should be answering because it will help you and your business, you better be on that first page. You better be one of those first four or five results. Otherwise you’re just not relevant.
So, Rebecca, with that being said, what exactly is SEO?
Rebecca: So, SEO is short for search engine optimization. And it’s basically helping the search engines best present your content to people who come to Google or Bing and search for things. And for as long as people will have questions and use the Internet, SEO will be in existence and it will be important.
JLD: Absolutely – it’s just the reality, Fire Nation. So, why is SEO critical to entrepreneurs specifically? Give some examples and some reasons why.
Rebecca: One of the biggest reasons is because SEO is something that entrepreneurs can do themselves. It’s something that they can learn, and I know there’s a lot of SEO consultants out there that will tell you just the opposite, but I completely disagree with that. I’m self-taught in it. So, SEO is something that entrepreneurs can do themselves. They can continue to grow it.
And it’s not something that is gonna be limiting of their time, where if you’re trying to do referrals and build your in-person networking, you only have so many hours in the day. But once you actually build up your SEO and you have it going, that lives on and it can live on for a decade or 15 years. You can continue to rank with existing content. And that is super powerful.
The other thing I love about it is when you do SEO right, your prospects, your clients, are coming to you and they are already self-qualified. So, you’re not having this huge pool of people that you are trying to sift through and get cold leads to warm leads. They’re already warm leads coming in because they’ve already selected the right keyword phrases that match up specifically to you and what you offer.
JLD: And Fire Nation, I want to just give you a personal story and a personal example of why this is so important and how it can come out of nowhere and be surprising, sometimes in a good way. I was a few months ago looking over one of my SEO reports, and I’m looking at the page that was what I ranked No. 1 for. And one of them was Libsyn promo codes.
Now, my company is not Libsyn. Libsyn is an audio host – sorry, a podcast hosting media company where they will host your podcast mp3 files. And I’ve been using them since I launched. So, I’m a user of Libsyn, and because I’m an affiliate of Libsyn, so I can vaguely remember three or four years ago Rob Walch coming to me and saying, John, I know you have this promo code, which is FIRE, for anybody out there. For Libsyn, you have this promo code that we gave you, which gives people the rest of the current month and all of the next month completely for free.
But the problem is, a lot of the people think it’s two months for free instead of just the rest of the current month and all of next month. So, can you just write a quick little note to everybody that when they subscribe through this, that actually that’s the process? And I said, you know what, I’m just gonna create a quick little post, a little page where I just am gonna call Libsyn Promo Code, and I’m just gonna describe exactly what it is, the rest of this month and all of next month.
And I’m telling you, Rebecca, this post was probably four sentences, maybe three sentences. It was short. It was sweet. And it said, hey, if you’re using promo code FIRE on Libsyn, this is what the actual thing is. And I forgot about that post. And I still haven’t thought about until that day, but I really say that every month I would be surprised that I would get these thousands of dollars of affiliate revenue from Libsyn. I’m like, why – I know that I recommend a lot of people to Libsyn, but this is a lot of money.
And that is the reason, because so many people are searching in Google, Libsyn promo code. And they’re finding that page I wrote a few years ago in haste. And that’s bringing me thousands of dollars a month now.
Rebecca: And think about this, the reason you’re probably ranking in Google is because Google knows you’re all about podcasts. You’re the super star of podcasting. And now compare that to Libsyn and the fact that, that is podcasting software. You just go together like peanut butter and jelly. And so, therefore, Google wants to potentially rank you for things associated with that because you’re a good fit.
JLD: Fire Nation, this is just the example with what Rebecca is sharing, and then with that story that I just shared, of why you need to be studying your reports – your SEO reports, your Google Analytics. And it sounds like it might be hard to do, but it’s not rocket science. It’s just there, like that report just said, key terms that you rank No. 1 for on Google. And I was just like, oh wow. That’s a weird one. It’s getting 964 direct hits per month. Let me look into this. And that just brought me to that reality.
So, what did I do? I went and I made that a lot more of an impressive post now to ensure that it stays at that No. 1 ranking and that people stay on that page and get the value that they want. So, with that being said, Rebecca, how does SEO fit with an overall brand in most cases?
Rebecca: It’s part of your brand building. It’s part of the way that you present yourself online. We know that everybody virtually goes online, whether to find things or to vet somebody and to check them out, someone that they’ve already heard about.
Now, you can not do SEO and leave your online profile up to whatever Google would like or whatever your competitors would like to morph you into, or you can learn SEO and you can control your personal brand and control what’s on Page 1 of Google when someone searches for you, your company, or those things that you offer. I am a big proponent of controlling your online destiny, and SEO lets you do that, both now and into the future.
JLD: Let’s talk about the right questions to excel at SEO, like how can you ask the right questions to make sure that you’re doing the right things when it comes to your brand, your business, your overall personal authority within SEO?
Rebecca: So, a lot of times when people think about SEO, they think about maybe a plugin for WordPress. Yoast is one of my favorites, and that’s where their mind jumps to. But that’s at the very end of the process. The beginning of SEO, and the right way to really do SEO is to start with questions. And you’re not just asking questions about what do you create? Do you create podcasts or courses? Or do you have some great new purse that you’re manufacturing?
That’s only a little piece of it. You want to start by asking yourself, who do you serve? Who specifically are you serving? Who is your target market? What makes them unique? What are their challenges? What are their pain points? What do they struggle with? What do they need assistance with? Then you start looking at yourself, and you start asking the questions about you and what do you do, and what do you offer, and what sets you apart. And how can your services or products, or the things that you produce match up to your target market and the things that they’re struggling with?
And it’s the blending of those two worlds that create just a really cohesive and tightly-woven approach to SEO, which is where a lot of people fall down. They don’t start with those questions, and they just start writing content and then throw a plugin in and try to throw some keywords in. And you’re setting yourself up for failure because you can’t just take a snowball of keywords and throw it at your website and hope something sticks.
You really have to have some planning and strategy to it. And when you start with those questions and you take a step back, it creates a strategy for you that’s very closely tied to what you offer and who that you’re offering is gonna be a really good fit for. And that’s when you start succeeding because what you’re doing is you’re creating a very positive user experience for those visitors for Google and Bing. And that’s what Google and Bing want. They want to create a positive user experience for their consumers and their customers. And you’re helping them do that.
And that’s why those questions are critical because the output of that investigation, that brainstorming that you do, really starts to set the pace for what you’re gonna do forward with keyword research and mapping those keywords to content, and building up a good content library, and then promoting it. But all of that comes after you really focus on your target market and you start asking those questions.
JLD: Now, I’ve heard you mention Bing a few times. Is Bing relevant?
Rebecca: It is. It’s not as relevant as Google. You have Google, which is clearly the biggest search engine. You have YouTube, which is the next biggest search engine outside of Google. And then we’ve got Bing limping along behind it, but traffic still does come from Bing. Bing still matters because you don’t want to limit that traffic and exclude that traffic.
So, I don’t typically optimize for Bing. I optimize for Google, and by default I get traffic in for Bing. But the reason I can serve both is because I stay focused on that user experience and making sure that I’m serving them and creating solutions for them. And that’s what the search engines want and need.
JLD: SEO’s come such a long way. I can remember back when I was – I think I was a junior in high school – and I had a buddy who was a year older than me, and he was so into computers, so into the online world. He is actually the guy that ended up creating the whole Rate My Network, which was like Rate My Professor, Rate My Teacher.
And so, he did some really cool things in the world. But I remember when he was showing me SEO back then. This was like in the late ‘90s. You could just put the word “podcast” a million times on a page, and the word would be white. And then you would make the background white, so you couldn’t see the word “podcast” at all. It was just a plain white background. And then you would write over it with whatever copy you would have.
But back in the day it was AltaVista and Info Seeker or whatever it was. They literally would crawl an article on how many times that word was mentioned was the only thing that was relevant. So, ever since I had podcasting 10,000 times on this page, even though you couldn’t see it one time, that would be the first result. And so, now, you’ve gone from there all the way to here where you have to actually be smart and strategic and really do what’s right. And what’s right is answering the questions the best for the person asking that question.
So, I want to give a couple practical examples, Rebecca. And then while I’m sharing these, maybe you can come up with a couple more that could really help our listeners. So, for me, when I’m trying to think of articles that I want to write for podcasting that could maybe rate pretty highly SEO-wise, I’ll go to Quora, which is a great place to ask questions and get answers and do both.
And I would just type in the search bar of Quora, that’s just Q-U-O-R-A, Quora dot com, and I will just type “podcasting” and I will see what questions people are asking, recent questions that people are asking. How many comments have it, and how many views have those questions? And I’ll start to see questions that really are meaningful and are popular with people in the podcasting world. And then guess what I’ll do? I’ll take that exact question and I’ll write an actual post with that as the title. So, “How do I get podcast sponsorships?” And so, now I have the No. 1 ranked post in Google when you type “podcast sponsorship”.
That’s a huge key term. And when people go there, now my No. 1 result is right there. And they go to it, and they sign up for my free podcast course. They attend my webinars. They join PodcastersParadise – all because I took the time to go to a place like Quora and find out what questions people are asking. And then I answer the questions on my own website.
And by the way, I’ll go back to Quora and I’ll say, hey, this is a great question. Here’s a very good answer for you. But I have a 5,000-word post if you want to learn more, here – EOFire.com/sponsorships. And I’ll be able to drive people back there. So then, when anybody now in the future goes and reads that answer, they’ll also be able to go to that link and get back to my page as well. So, there’s things you can do like that.
Another thing I like doing is just going to Google.com and typing in – I have a question on podcasting – and what Google will do is it will fill in words after what you’re typing. It’s gonna try to auto finish your sentence for you. And what that is really doing is Google is telling you what most people are finishing that beginning of the sentence with. And so, you can start to say, oh my God – so, if a lot of people are ending it with, I want my podcast to be turned into a video, then you can maybe do a post on that very thing. So, those are just a couple practical things. Rebecca, do you have any for us?
Rebecca: I do. So, KWFinder, which is software that I just love and use all the time, it will actually go and pull those Google auto completes for you and give you a whole list of them along with search volumes and things like that right in the list. So, that’s always the tool that I use for keyword research. That’s one of them. I also love SEMrush, which is a fabulous tool that allows you to data mine your competition and see everything that they’re already ranking for. And then you can also see alternate variations of it and see different competition that you have matching keywords with.
So, you have in your head who’s your competition. SEMrush will go a step further and give you people you didn’t even think of. And it’s really doing a matchup of what you both are talking about. And you can get thousands and thousands of keyword ideas just from that to really help you narrow in.
And then one more is AnswerThePublic. That’s another one where you can just see all these different variations of questions regardless of what the topic is. And one thing I’ve learned on SEO over the last 15 years is what you think people might search for and what they actually search for are two completely different things. The general public is very unique and interesting, and sometimes really weird. So, the research can open your eyes to things you didn’t even know existed.
JLD: Do you have an example that comes top of mind on something like that?
Rebecca: Oh, my gosh. So, this is kind of a funny one. I had a client who sold public restroom stalls, like the equipment in the public restrooms. And they didn’t prepare me. So, I went in and started doing keyword research. And I came back from them, and for me, most of my clients are international.
They were actually local, so I got to go into the office with them. And I sat down in front of them and I said, you all should have told me. And they said, we should have told you what? And I said people have a lot of fetishes and fears when it comes to public restrooms. I said, I saw that in the keyword research. And they just all died laughing. And they were like, yeah, we didn’t want to tell you that beforehand. We thought you wouldn’t do it then.
JLD: Now, Rebecca, you threw a you all in there. I thought you were from Detroit. What’s the deal?
Rebecca: I am from Detroit, but I have two sisters who moved to Georgia probably 20 years ago and have stayed in the South ever since. And they’ve gotten me to say you all as opposed to you guys because in Michigan we say, you guys, and that doesn’t translate well to certain people.
JLD: It doesn’t. And I’m the same way, maybe you guys this, you guys that.
JLD: So, I’ve really got to hold myself – trying to think about that as well. But I want to get back to KWFinder real quick. So, you use that for your Google autocompletes. But then, what do you do with the results?
Rebecca: So, my SEO process that I go through with keyword research is, I start with those questions and then I use those questions to create a seed list. What kind of keyword phrases could be spun off from those types of questions that we were answering? And then I use like SEMrush to get additional lists of keyword phrases that are potentials. And then I can create my own manual variations. And I pull all of that together into a large seed list.
And then I take that seed list and I get the volumes from KWFinder, which will give me monthly search volumes. It twill give me how difficult this individual keyword phrase is for competition. And then I can see things like paper click amounts to see if there is a really high-paying paper click amount, that might grab my attention because a lot of times that shows you it’s a good converting phrase.
So then, I take all of those and I start to narrow that list down based on what – really, truly what is the relevance to my target market and what I offer. And I whittle that list down until I get whatever the amount is. It could be five keyword phrases. It could be 100 if we’re gonna do a brand-new website. It could be 200. And then we’ve got this really list of very focused keyword phrases, and from that then we start matching that up to existing content and future content.
So, it is a process that you’re going through. But it becomes a very powerful process because instead of you just making assumptions or guessing, you have tangible data that is completely matched up to what you do and who you serve. And you can make really good decisions. And that’s when SEO becomes very powerful and very successful.
JLD: So, Fire Nation, to recap, the couple that I gave was Quora, to go there for questions and answers just to learn what type of questions that people are asking and maybe you can provide the answers, hopefully after you’ve gone and created that incredibly valuable long form blog post on your site and point back to that. And then long-tail typing in Google to find what Google completes are actually happening.
And then Rebecca shared KWFinder, SEMrush, AnswerThePublic. All cool stuff. And if you think that value bombs have been dropped so far, Fire Nation, just wait for when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
So, Rebecca, we’re back, and we’ve been talking a lot about SEO. This is the audio master class of Rocking the World of SEO, so it makes a lot of sense. But where I want to kind of go next is where SEO and traditional marketing meet. How can we merge those two?
Rebecca: So, I love SEO because it amplifies traditional marketing. Whatever you’re doing in traditional marketing, you can bring into the world of SEO and they can complement each other. Traditional marketing is about finding your target market, reaching them, and serving them, and bringing them in to revenue.
SEO supports that in all shapes and manners. And they blend together. And when you come to things like link building that people talk about and in getting those backlinks, and they want to do all of these quick fixes and just shortcuts. And my answer to that always is the best link building techniques you can do is traditional marketing because you’re trying to do good. You’re trying to service people. You’re doing outreach in a natural manner. And they go really closely together. And it’s old-fashioned PR.
And when people start to view SEO as less as a gimmick that they’ve been taught or a quick, easy button that they can hire somebody out and have them push, and start blending in with traditional marketing, really it all complements each other, and it becomes cohesive. And that’s why I do love it, and that’s why I think that to really be successful at SEO, along with those questions you have to see how it fits into your traditional marketing plan because they do have to complement each other.
JLD: The problem, Fire Nation, is most people are either all one way or all the other way, and the best companies out there find a way to blend the two. Some companies are just all traditional marketing. That’s all they know; that’s all they do. Some companies are just all SEO. They’re all this new wave – what’s the latest cutting edge new trend, whatever it might be. If you can blend those two, you’re gonna win on the next level because so few people do that successfully. So, how can you do that? How can you blend the new and the traditional?
So, let’s talk specifics now, Rebecca, about using link building to grow your SEO and your personal brand. So, I want to grow my personal brand. I want to grow my SEO. How do I use link building to do that?
Rebecca: So, first and foremost, you have to have good content and a decent website, and a good basis, a good foundation. I always relate SEO to building a house. That keyword research, and that strategy, and that planning that you’re doing is you’re creating that foundation. Then you start building up the house, and putting the walls and the windows, and maybe the wallpaper in it. And that’s like your content. Now you’ve got to start bringing people in to see it. And maybe you’re selling your house and you’re listing it.
That’s that link building that’s bringing those people in. Link building has been around for a long time. And some people say link building is dead, and fortunately, it is still in existence. Google still relies on it. It needs those incoming links to the various pieces of content on your website to understand what’s important – to really know that somebody other than your mom or your dog is visiting your website and your blog and that they care about what you’re producing. And links help them figure that out.
But in bringing that back to that traditional marketing, link building is a matter of putting yourself out there. And the best way to do it is by using your personal brand to garnish those links. For me, I joke that I’m a podcast whore because I say I’ll go on anyone’s podcast because it brings me back a link, the natural backlink that is – I freely give of my time and my education.
But in turn, I’m getting that backlink back to my site, which is helping my SEO. I speak at conferences. I do free webinars for people. There’s a lot of little things I do that are that traditional marketing and that put my personal self out there that bring back those links. And the more links that Google sees coming back to my website and those individual pieces of content, the more it’s going to reward me with good SEO.
And you had made the comment of writing like a 5,000-word piece of content. That, by nature, will be very informative, and people are gonna want a link to it. And when you get those backlinks coming into that specific post, it boosts that post, and it boosts your website as a whole. So, still super important, but again you have to have that good foundation and that content to make it work. And then you have to just kind of put yourself out there so that you are your brand ambassador and as that brand ambassador, you can be a servant to those around you on the Internet and bring, naturally, those links back into the site.
JLD: So, you mentioned podcasts; you mentioned conferences. What are some other successful strategies that actually get the right links back to your site? And then also, can you talk about the difference between right links and wrong links? Because there are some bad links to get back.
Rebecca: I’ve done webinars for people, educational webinars. I’ve answered questions. I’m in the WordPress community, and people say that I’m very visible in the WordPress community, so they’ll write posts like influencers of WordPress, and will you answer a few questions? And I’m like, sure, I will, because I know I’m gonna get a backlink from it. It’s those too, like answering questions on networks. And I can’t remember if Quora is a do follow or no follow now because everyone’s changing it. But that can produce those backlinks, and even if it isn’t a do follow backlink, you’re still getting that traffic and Google is seeing that traffic.
You can add links to your YouTube video descriptions. Those are do follow. Those are backlinks into your website. When you open your eyes to those backlink opportunities, they are all around you, which makes it easier for you to get them and keep it safe. And you’re not trying to chase people with these crazy requests for linking into your site.
Another way to do it is guest blog posts. To adhere to Google’s quality guidelines, you can’t have keyword-rich words within those guest blog posts pointing back to your site, but you can absolutely have a nice author profile at the bottom of the post that has a do follow link to your website that is completely acceptable. And it’s a get way to get backlinks into your site. I do that as well.
So, a variety of things. Heck, you could sponsor the Little League team in your town. They’re gonna link naturally into your site, and they don’t know the difference between do follow or follow. And, if you’re a local business, that’s great because now you have local references coming into your site. If you’re like a new chiropractor out there or a new dentist, there is a lot of directory websites for industries that have profiles that you can fill out. Those are links coming into your site.
So, lots of different ways that you can do it. It will vary based on your industry and what type of brand you’re presenting, but the world is full of backlink opportunities and valid ones that won’t get you in trouble.
JLD: Give us a quick rundown on what do follow and no follow links are.
Rebecca: So, do follow and no follow – do follow means I would like Google to follow this link and see this link coming from my site and giving it – I’m giving it a vote for SEO.
No follow is, Google, don’t follow this. Don’t pass on any SEO value for – people call it link juice, but I hate that phrase. It’s when you have a follow link, you’re giving your SEO vote to somebody else. And Google introduced the no follow so that it could have situations like it’s an ad you’re being paid for. Like affiliate links should all be no follow to adhere to Google’s quality guidelines. And that’s so that you’re not exchanging those SEO links for money, because that, in Google’s eyes, is a no-no, and it can get you in a lot of trouble.
And that’s the difference. For most people, you don’t need to really worry about do follow versus no follow unless you’re having paid sponsored posts on your website, affiliate links, paid ads – all of that kind of thing would be set to no follow.
JLD: What are bad links?
Rebecca: Bad links would be coming from really crappy websites, just low quality. For example, you want links that are related to what you do. I am an SEO consultant. We do custom website design. It’s natural for me to get links in from other sites like that.
Now, if all of a sudden, I start having links coming in from a porn site, Google’s gonna be like, oh, that’s kind of weird. And if it’s a really low-quality porn site, it’s gonna go, oh, that’s kind of really weird and that doesn’t look right. That looks manipulated. That’s a bad link. You don’t want that kind of link coming in. It needs to be things that are related to what you do, that have decent authority. So, they’re a quality site. And that’s what’s gonna make Google happy because that looks real.
JLD: Well, how do you identify that, that’s happening? And how do you get rid of them?
Rebecca: A great way to look at the domain authority of websites is SEMrush and KWFinder. Both of them show that information. HREFs also shows that information. Those are good tools for getting that type of information. Moz gives information on it as well. There’s a lot of tools out there. And they all have a little bit different gradient scores for that, but it’s okay. It’s gonna give you a good idea of what’s good and bad. Tools like SEMrush, which, again, is my favorite – you can do backlinks audits in it.
So, say you’ve hired a consultant in the past, and you’re not really sure what they’ve done. Always good to go look at your backlink profile, because SEMrush will grade it for you and say, you know what, we think these ones might be toxic. You might want to investigate them and make them go away.
JLD: How do you make them go away?
Rebecca: You can actually reach out to the websites and say, here’s this – you’re linking to me from this URL. Please take it down. Worst case scenario is you do a disavow file with Google, but that is worst case scenario, and Google says it’s worst case scenario. It wants you to try to resolve things on your own. But the average person doesn’t have toxic links because they’re not done anything naughty. It’s the ones who have hired somebody that didn’t have great ethics in the land of SEO, or if you tried to do some black hat stuff on your own. That’s where you’re gonna get in trouble, and that’s where you’ll have some toxic links.
JLD: Now, I know what disavow means, which you mentioned. It’s kind of like a point of no return, where once you do a disavow link, it’s gone. But if you know it’s coming from like a porn site, like you said, what’s the harm in doing a disavow link?
Rebecca: There isn’t, except I always worry when I’m requesting Google to do something for me. It’s like you’re giving them eyes on you. And here’s a classic example. So, I think you just redid your website recently. So, say you did this complete rebrand of your site and you published your brand-new site, and it’s got a whole new URL structure.
Now, up until that point, you may have had toxic links out there and Google never noticed. But once you redo that whole site and you upload everything to Google Search Console and they go to crawl everything and look at you in fresh eyes, that can actually bring you down because you had toxic links out there that you
were unaware of, and it was so high that it’s problematic. And so, that’s where you can get yourself in trouble. And if that’s the case, then Google will tell you that you’ve got an issue and you need to do that disavow file to say, yeah, there was some inkiness going on, and please ignore all of these.
JLD: So, we’ve talked about this a little bit already, but let’s really dive into how today’s SEO is different from yesterday’s. And by yesterday’s, we’re talking about just a while ago.
Rebecca: You’re trying not to date me in my 15 years of doing it. So, it has changed a lot. You were giving the examples you get of yesteryear, where we were hiding white text on white pages and things. And that was totally it. And all we worried about was backlinks. And we were all really focused on high keyword density.
So, here’s things that have changed. First, keyword density is kind of dead. It doesn’t have the priority that it once did. Instead, Google’s really more focused on semantic search. Semantic search is trying to better understand what your content is and how it relates to a user intent. For example, so, say I search for “apple”. Google doesn’t really know if just the term “apple” if I’m looking for an apple you eat. Am I looking for Apple the company? Or am I looking for maybe an Apple product, like a MacBook Pro?
But when I start to add things to my search query and Google starts to match that up to available content, it is starting to look for things in the content that can help understand the content. So, if I’m writing about apples you eat, it’s gonna think that I’m gonna have in there things like color, texture, taste. Things like that will help it understand it’s the food product because we really don’t eat MacBook Pros.
But if my content was about Apple the company, that’s totally different. I would start talking about stock, and store locations, and things like that. Or the product might be a keyboard, monitors, and things like that, warranty periods. So, those – Google’s really looking at your content as a whole semantically and trying to match that up with the user’s query, so it can figure out the best search. And when it starts to do that, things like density just kind of fall apart and they go away. That has been a huge change.
Another change has been the focus on technical SEO. I recently did a three-day summit on technical SEO because even though it used to scare the bajeebus out of me, I can’t let that happen because it is so important.
Google really does need you to have a clean website that’s got good performance, that has solid code, that’s accessible. All of these things start to go together to make sure that your overall SEO profile is really clean. Now, if you’re an entrepreneur, don’t freak out. Don’t let that scare you like it used to scare me. There are a lot of tools out there that you can use, or you can hire people to do technical audits to make sure that your website is clean.
And that’s what’s important to SEO today because it is a different world. Google is starting to reach people in third world countries that never had access to it before. What do they need? Well, they don’t have desktops. They have mobile devices with really crappy speed for downloading data. They’ve got data limits. They’re on the mobile phone.
So, what does Google want? It wants mobile friendly websites that are fast to load, that render well, that have clean code. And that’s so Google can serve this new target market of theirs that’s now coming online. And as SEO progresses over the years, you can get frustrated with Google. You can feel like you can’t keep up.
But if you just always stay focused on what’s Google’s objectives – what does it have to do to serve its target market? And you stay focused on that and serving your own and doing good and producing good through it, you don’t get penalties. You don’t get in trouble because you’re focused on the right things, and you end up being successful in the long term.
JLD: So, what is specifically, technical SEO? And why is it important in 2018?
If you’re a local company and you’re serving a local market, local schema was produced with structured data – very important because what structured data does is when a human goes to a website, for example, what do we see? We see things like fonts, and words, and headers, and images, and videos. And we can digest all of that very quickly.
Well, the search engines can’t, but structured data helps them better understand the content because it is structured, it’s a set type of language that they read and understand. And it helps them understand like that the MGM Grand website is not just a website, it’s a hotel website that offers rooms and that has specials for certain dates. And oh, by the way, there’s also this entertainment. And here’s the shows, and here’s the show times. All of the things that we humans can digest quickly, now the search engines can digest that as well.
And structured data is becoming so important. And you’ll see a lot of notifications coming from Google about it because it’s helping Google produce all of those fabulous results that we’re becoming used to. We do voice search, and we expect Google to give us all of these instant answers. We don’t go to a movie website anymore to look at the movie times. We just go to Google, and Google gives us a big list. It’s using structured data in things like that to be able to produce that. And that’s why technical SEO is critical today, and it’s gonna be even more critical moving forward.
JLD: Speed, performance, structure, all these things, Fire Nation, you really have to be on the cutting edge if you want to stay on the cutting edge because things are always gonna be changing. And that’s exciting because if things didn’t change, then it would just be this one fight for one flag. But things are always changing. It’s giving you that next opportunity to be first to the flag, to try a different strategy that might work for you. But always be trying. Always be adjusting, pivoting, and learning what’s next.
So, there you have it, Fire Nation, that was the audio master class on Rocking the World of SEO. And Rebecca, I want to end this interview on fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance. The best way that we can connect with you and any goodies you might have for us. And then we’ll say good-bye.
Rebecca: So, my parting piece of guidance is that SEO is a journey. It is not a destination. It’s not something you do once and forget it. It’s something that you work on over time. But the rewards are long-term. The things that you work on today can still be bringing you in value, and clients, and revenue 15 years from now. And if you go into SEO with that viewpoint and that philosophy, you will be successful at it because you will find more rewards than you even realized could be there.
You can find me at RebeccaGill.com. and I would love to give you
a little bit of goodness of SEO, which you can find at diyseocourses.com/fire.
JLD: Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you’ve been hanging out with RG and JLD today. So, keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Rebecca in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop up with all the links that we talked about today, which Rebecca’s gonna love. These are the best show notes in the biz. Time stamps, you name. it – we’ve got it all for you. And of course, head directly over to RebeccaGil.com. And Rebecca, one more time, the URL for your course.
Rebecca: It is diyseocourses.com/fire.
JLD: Rebecca, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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