Affiliate Summit West 2020

A lot happens behind the scenes at Google that we’re not privvy to. Yet we need to stay on top of these changes, or our online presence could really sink in the search results.

Today’s episode of Marketing Speak features an Affiliate Summit West talk I gave with Bruce Clay, and my amazingly talented daughter, Chloe Spencer. It was a great opportunity to share our collective SEO wisdom and take questions from the audience.

We started out diving into some key elements of search and seemingly peripheral areas including voice search and YouTube. It’s critical to understand not only that Google will continue to favor YouTube results but how it also places them ahead of competitor video sources, like Facebook and Twitch in search. We shared our expertise on which tools are essential to know a website’s trust and importance scores, why you need to get backlinks from authoritative sites, and many other topics. Whether you geek out on SEO or you simply realize the danger in not having a grip on SEO fundamentals, you’ll find this episode has tons of actionable tips. So, without any further ado, here’s our panel presentation!

A lot happens behind the scenes at Google that we’re not privvy to. Yet we need to stay on top of these changes, or our online presence could really sink in the search results.

Today’s episode of Marketing Speak features an Affiliate Summit West talk I gave with Bruce Clay, and my amazingly talented daughter, Chloe Spencer. It was a great opportunity to share our collective SEO wisdom and take questions from the audience.

We started out diving into some key elements of search and seemingly peripheral areas including voice search and YouTube. It’s critical to understand not only that Google will continue to favor YouTube results but how it also places them ahead of competitor video sources, like Facebook and Twitch in search. We shared our expertise on which tools are essential to know a website’s trust and importance scores, why you need to get backlinks from authoritative sites, and many other topics. Whether you geek out on SEO or you simply realize the danger in not having a grip on SEO fundamentals, you’ll find this episode has tons of actionable tips. So, without any further ado, here’s our panel presentation!

Now I want to make sure everybody understands. Do you all have the application loaded? You could all rate this session. In case there’s any confusion, the actual rating is 10. Make a note of that now because you will want to use that number as we go through it.

We have three speakers. Each will introduce themselves, and then we’ll come back after they say who they are and a little bit about their background. We will get into what we see as a short-term: where is search going? Then we’re going to open it up to the Q&A. Why don’t we start with Stephan?

SS: All right. Hi everybody. I’m Stephan Spencer. I’m the co-author of this big beast of a book called The Art of SEO (Third Edition), published by O’Reilly. It’s constantly in need of an update.

By the way, who’s ever read this book? Wow, there are actually a few people who’ve read it. Who wants to read this book? Like enough that they’ll come and get it? You’re welcome, but now you have to read it.

I also have a little book called Google Power Search. Now you might want to come and get that one. Okay, here you go. Social Ecommerce. There you go. Those are my three books, and I have been doing SEO since the 90s. I’ve been doing SEO since before Google was Google.

Do you guys know what Google was called before it was Google? It’s a great trivia question; you can use this at party games. It’s BackRub. I sold my agency, Netconcepts, in 2010, and I have a small SEO consultancy. I wanted to stay in the game, so reverse-engineering the Google algorithm. I do that for fun and profit. That’s me.

CS: Hi, I’m Chloe Spencer. I am Stephan’s daughter. We are both SEOs, but we are completely separate. We run our own agencies.

SS: Competitor.

CS: Yes. I got started when I was just 14. I created my first business. It was a fan site for Neopets, a virtual pet site that was really popular when I was a kid. I was a huge fan of it.

I created a fan site on WordPress and got it to the top of Google for ultra-popular keywords. It became the most popular website in its niche on the Internet, and I then monetized it with Google AdSense at age 15. I started generating thousands of dollars a month of passive income.

Then at 16, I started speaking professionally. Then, at 19, I launched my SEO agency and helped clients worldwide to increase their online presence, traffic, sales, and rankings. That’s what I’m doing today.

SS: She’s been on MSNBC.

CS: Yeah, that was fun.

SS: She totally upstaged me. I’ve only been on local TV stations.

CS: Proud dad.

SS: That’s me.

BC: I’m Bruce Clay. For those who don’t know, I’ve been around really since the beginning, three years before Google started. That’s quite a long time ago. How many of you remember that there was a time before Google? Yeah, there was. January of 96 was when Al Gore invented the Internet. It’s been a fun ride ever since.

If you go to Google and search for “who is the father of SEO”, I own about the first five pages. I’ve written three books. My first book, Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies, used to be bigger than Stephan’s. But then he decided he didn’t like that, so he added more pages. That’s the only reason he did it.

We all have some books. We all have years and years and years of experience. I’m pretty sure we can answer virtually all of your questions, so it should be a good session.

SS: We do have a live internet connection. If, for some reason, it’s appropriate for us to pull up a tool or show something, we can do that, too.

BC: Okay. What do you think is going to happen on the Internet for search in the next year?

CS: I’ll go first with a little something. Search is definitely going to be hugely going into voice search, especially with Google Voice and Alexa. Everyone’s searching for things using their voice. It’s not just about ranking now on page one, but being that featured snippet that will be read aloud with voice search because you’re really the answer, the number one answer, when people are searching for things. That is huge, and going after those featured snippets will be more important than ever.

SS: EAT is going to become increasingly important. EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Again, this came from Google, an acronym that Google invented when talking internally to their human reviewers called Quality Raters. This is in their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

Why do we care about EAT? Because all these human reviewers—thousands of them—are the training data for machine learning. They’re not hitting the big red button on your site. Still, they’re providing qualitative and quantitative feedback to an algorithm; an AI, that will be much better than a human at figuring out whether you’re credible, valuable, and just authoritative.

I have an article on Search Engine Land I recommend. There’s no shortcut to authority, which is the article’s name. It goes into a bit more detail about EAT. In particular, it’s applied to the YMYL space—Your Money or Your Life. That’s another acronym that Google uses internally.

It will be applied across the board, but it’s especially focused on YMYL at this point. If you don’t have trustworthiness, it will be very hard for you to compete in the coming years.

BC: The area, I agree with my colleagues, but I think that we will also be seeing a lot of videos. I don’t know if you’ve been aware of this, but this company called Google owns another company called YouTube. How many are aware of that?

How many people believe Google’s in the business of making money? Who owns YouTube? Google. What I think is going to happen is that within a year, we’re going to find more and more of the informational answers to questions that come up from Google will be videos.

Video is one of the forms of the featured snippet. There are others, but a video is one of them. If you find that Google has a result in the Google search results that is a YouTube video, people will likely click it. When you click it, the first thing you see is an ad, meaning Google makes money. So I’m expecting to see a great surge in the number of videos that actually appear in what I referred to as search results to continue because of voice search.

Because of expertise, authoritativeness, and trust, I’m also expecting to see that the trust component will be turned up because, Google, when they answer a voice query, will have to have a trustworthy response. So we see a lot of things carry across all of these areas. The videos have to be popular and answer the question. The voice search has to answer the question, and it will all be based on expertise, authority, and trust.

We’re seeing that as overwhelming SEO right now, and it’s going to be something that applies to everybody. So that’s where I see it going.

All right, we’re going to open it up for questions. Does anybody have a question? We have a microphone. We’re going to work our way through. Yes?

I’ve got two questions, but I’ll start with the first one. I have a men’s health site, and I know my site got hit by Google’s Medic update. I’m trying to figure out what I must do to recover fully. I have product reviews on men’s health products. I know they want people of some level of authority in that product or service. So I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to fully recover my traffic by having a health blog. 

SS: I can cover that. From a trust and authority perspective, I would get higher trust and higher authority links. That could entail doing something that is outside of the box. For example, I spoke at Stanford University for free and on my own dime. I just got a link out of it. That wasn’t a given. I hoped I would get that, but that was a very valuable use of my time and travel budget to go and speak at Stanford.

Another example is I got published in Harvard Business Review last year, and that article linked back to my website. It’s very hard to get into HBR. It took a lot for me to get into it. I’m not expecting you to do that, but I would say try and go after the 80/20 rule of high-quality links. The ones with the highest trust will move the needle the most. One link could be more valuable than a thousand just mediocre links.

Do you know what your trust scores are? Your trust flowcitation flow scores, the Majestic, or your LRT Power*Trust scores in Link Research Tools?

I don’t, so I probably need to figure out how to. How would I find that? 

SS: The is a great analytics link-building tool set as Actually, you don’t need a subscription with Majestic to get those two scores. Trust flow; that’s your trust. Citation flow; that’s your importance. Then you can see how skewed I am. If I’m way more important than I am trusted, that’s a problem.

Think of somebody important but not trusted. You don’t want to be that guy. I’m not going to get political, so you get it. This is why in part, you have been hit with the medic update.

It’s not that Google is just specifically targeting your site. The whole YMYL vertical, which you’re squarely in that, gets smacked first because it’s high stakes. Suppose it’s bad medical or alternative health advice, and somebody dies, and Google ranks that number one. In that case, that’s on Google, too.

BC: So I want to get backlinks from more authority sites?

SS: Yeah, backlinks from the super high trust. Not just high domain authority or domain rating, but extract the trust score according to Majestic or Link Research Tools. That’s one thing. Then build up your expertise by having full profiles with the certifications and diplomas of the authors contributing to your site.

BC: One of the things we found is that many sites that got hit with the medic update when it first came out were trust-based. This is your money or your life category. What they were doing was they had high-trust sites. These are solid sites, but they were selling products and what they were doing was linking to sites that were not trusted. As soon as you link to something that’s not trusted, your trust drops to that score.

What we’ve had to do in many cases to restore ranking is to remove links—the outbound links—to untrusted environments. If you play in a bad neighborhood, you’re a bad guy, basically. I think that a lot of what we’ve seen over time has been derivatives of that application. If you link to somebody who is not trusted, you become untrusted.

I want to go back to my product reviews and find those links that may not be so high and remove them. 

One thing to remember. Does everybody understand the concept of a nofollow link? Nofollow links don’t work on your money or your life. Google doesn’t believe a user on your website knows it’s ‘nofollowed.’ That trust is actually hitting you even if you nofollow it. It’s not going to exempt that link. Any ad you sell, any placement as an affiliate, or any way you’re making money that’s okay as long as what you’re linking to is trusted. You can’t assume that a nofollow link is nofollow. 

SS: Google came out with their statement that it’s a hint now. It’s not an absolute directive.

CS: I want to touch on that question quickly regarding Majestic. When determining your site’s authority, knowing how you read these scores is important. If he doesn’t know what Majestic trust flow is—many of you may not—this is super, super important because authority is the biggest piece of the puzzle regarding your website’s foundational SEO.

Majestic is one of those tools which is really great for taking a look at what your authority is. The score will fluctuate; don’t take it as the gospel truth or anything like that. You can also look at other tools. Ahrefs’ URL Rating and other scores are there, but I like Majestic.

As Stephan said, trust flow is the score you will be looking at the most. This score is out of 100. It is on a logarithmic scale like the Richter Scale. When you pull up your website, ensure you’re typing in the root domain. For example, don’t put https://www because it will give you the trust flow of that URL, not your domain-wide trust flow.

Make sure you’re typing in your root domain and taking a look at that score. You’ll see that it’s probably under 20 for the most part. But, if you pull it up, and it’s like a three, you’re like, “oh god.” That’s common if you’ve just started your own site or haven’t built any links.

You will see that start to rise as you build authoritative, high-quality links. But, still, you have to ensure you’re building authoritative links that are domains with high trust flows themselves. Otherwise, it’s not going to increase your trust flow and increase your authority.

As Stephan said before, it’s quality over quantity— 100%. Focus on building those authoritative links, and I’m sure we’ll get into more link-building questions further in, so I’ll leave it there. I wanted to explain how to look at your site’s authority and use Majestic to take a look at that.

BC: Okay, next question.

Hi, my name is Mindy. I’m a blogger. Thanks for taking my question. I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years and have over 2000 articles. I’ve started removing old content that isn’t relevant to my site anymore, as some experts have suggested. I just wanted your thoughts on the best way to go about that. 

Right now, I have a 401 page I set up. It says this content is no longer available. Here are some of my other popular relevant posts. I am 301 redirecting the old articles to that page. The other thing I see is a lot of Google Search Console errors for old tag pages, like tag page 8, which drops off once I delete so many articles. I’m wondering how best I should go about all of this. 

SS: Do you have lots of tag pages?

Mindy: Yes.

SS: Have you tried to de-index those?

Mindy: I haven’t.

SS: I would recommend that. Do you also have category pages?

Mindy: I do.

SS: Good. Keep the category pages, and ditch the tag pages. Tag pages are essentially spammed these days, and that’s lowering the overall reputation of your site.

Think of your site like a tree, and you have several thousand branches, or leaves, whichever analogy you like, which are those pages. But, of course, some of those pages are better than others. So you’ve just been deleting the ones that haven’t made the cut.

Suppose the overall tree looks unhealthy because there are so many thin content pages, duplicate content pages, obsolete, just not relevant useful pages anymore because they were talking about CES 2008 or something like that. In that case, it’s just not relevant anymore. So those sorts of pages should be culled. That’s content pruning.

I also get rid of date-based archives. I get rid of any page that is a rehashing of all the other stuff. I also like using optional excerpts in WordPress and writing unique teaser copies for each page. That makes the category pages contain a unique copy from the permalink pages. Those are just a few thoughts.

CS: Definitely everything that Stephan said. You don’t want to be using those tech pages because they don’t add any value, and pruning that. But category pages are very important.

Also, many times I see with clients who have their category pages and don’t have any text. It’s just links. If you want that page to rank for any type of keywords, you need to have text. You need to have copy and content on that page. So always add at least a paragraph or two of some text and make sure it’s keyword-rich.

Don’t do any keyword stuffing, of course. But make sure your title tag is optimized. For example, your H1 is optimized with your primary keyword for that page and then the first sentence or two of that text copy.

That’s something that I recommend doing as well for your category pages. Noindex, those tech pages are not using those anymore.

BC: One thing that many people forget is that a 301 will pass page rank. It would pass a penalty as well. But it will pass page rank provided that the page you’re going to has substantially the same kind of information as the anchor text that links to it.

If you redirect everybody to a common page, you will not be harvesting any of that page rank. If you want to get those pages to be removed, Google, when they encounter the 301, doesn’t know to keep trying to see if it comes back.

You might want to put a noindex tag on these things and get them to be dropped from the index, simultaneously putting the 301 per user experience. But don’t try to harvest page rank on pages that aren’t going to match because that overall is going to signal for Google that I have a lot of inbound links or even internal links that are with this keyword they’re going to mismatch pages. I wouldn’t want to signal to Google that I have a lower-quality website.

So any page that I delete, I should noindex that.

BC: We put in a meta noindex tag to get it to drop out of the index. Because the only way a page hurts you is if it’s indexed and old and the quality is low. Drop it out of the index first, and then as soon as it’s out of the index, we can determine whether we will delete it.

Is there a way to do that for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing? I don’t know tech, like code. 

SS: Yes. Just use the Yoast plugin.

Okay. Perfect, I use that. 

SS: There are the noindex options like the noindex tag pages, noindex date-based archives and things like that. You can still have that capability on your site.

I would remove tag capability completely so that you’re not linking, wasting a whole bunch of links on a page. For example, let’s say it’s a permalink post page with 15 different links to different tag pages that you’re noindexing. That’s taking a lot of that juice away and not giving as much to the category page you’re linking to or to other important pages, landing pages, et cetera that you’re linking to.

Thank you. 

SS: By the way, how many of you knew that a 301 redirect passes a penalty if that originating page has a penalty? Who knew that? So, many of you. How many of you knew that a canonical could also pass the penalty? Anyone? Just a couple of you.

Does it also pass a benefit in that instance?

SS: Yeah. Canonical can pass benefits and penalties. It can pass both.

I thought you said that earlier. 

BC: On a 301, it’ll pass a penalty typically if the penalty is associated with an inbound link network. Whereas if it’s quality of content, the new page has its content. Anything associated with low-quality content does not pass over a 301. Still, link-type penalties would, in fact, pass over a 301.

I’m going to lighten it up a little bit. I’ve been in the business for about 14–15 years, and SEO has evolved quite a bit, as has the advice. There have been several SEO presentations on this show and every show. So my question is, who the hell should I believe?

BC: Us.

SS: Yeah. Your mileage will vary, for one thing. Take everything that you hear with a grain of salt. That’s because somebody says this is how it works; test it. Confirm that it actually does work.

Somebody says, for example, that you can add &num=9 to the end of a Google SERP URL to drop the featured snippet to see your position if you had the featured snippet. Now you’ve been demoted to page two. Did you know this happened last week? Yeah, a couple of you. If you have position zero, the featured snippet and yet position one, you now have position zero, and you’re on page two.

Perhaps you would get more clickthroughs on position one than on position two. That happens a lot. You might want to deoptimize, not get the featured snippet you use in that snippet tag. Still, you need to know your position if you don’t have the positioned snippet: the way to do that &num=9.

Now, you could take my word for it and blog about it, tweet and so forth—feel free—but you can also test it for yourself. Hop on to Google, and do a search; oh, there’s a featured snippet. What happens if I add &num=9 to the Google SERP URL? Oh, no more featured snippets. The listing from page two is now showing up. It’s an empirical science.

CS: I would also recommend researching whatever you hear and definitely take things with a grain of salt until you research it further. If you don’t know who’s saying it, if they’re not credible, or if you don’t know their background or SEO background, research it.

For example, there are myths out there that just won’t die. These SEO myths that someone started, then a bunch of people just jumped on, then spread like wildfire and still are alive today like meta keywords tags. People think you should be putting keywords in there, and it’s a complete waste of time. Google doesn’t look at that, for the most part, anyway.

Google does not look at your meta keywords. So your title tag that’s important to fill out with your keyword-rich titles. Make sure it’s written for humans, not bots as well. Don’t keyword stuff in there. Make sure those are keyword-rich.

Then your meta descriptions. It doesn’t matter what keyword. Google isn’t looking at the keywords in your meta descriptions. Still, you’re writing those purely for your users because they’ll usually show up as the description of your listing in the SERPs. So make sure you’re filling those out. But for your meta keywords tags, you don’t have to be filling those out.

Many people to this day still think you should be doing that. That’s just one example of these myths that circulate. People just jump on and believe it and are doing these things that are a total waste of time. So do your research.

BC: I’ll spin it a different way a little bit. Every keyword has another intent. Every keyword is affected by where you are geographically, and the rankings of every keyword are impacted by the time of day, believe it or not. The intent at 2 AM may not match the intent at 2 PM, and we have to understand that. As a result, how many keywords are there? That’s how many algorithms there are.

We’re not going to have a one-size-fits-all kind of relationship between, and this is working for ecommerce; therefore, it’ll work for information sites and vice-versa. And not even every keyword is going to behave the same way.

When we get into this, there isn’t a rule that says if you push this green button, you will always rank because the other keywords rank. Every keyword is different, you’re going to have to test it, and you’re going to have to do it. So don’t be surprised by the results you don’t get for the work you didn’t do.

SS: And it’s not sufficient to just go in incognito mode to do your search. You’re still getting localized results. It still knows your IP address.

BC: Understanding SEO on a keyword-by-keyword basis is a separate project. If you have 100 keywords, you have 100 projects. The behavior of this technique which works for this kind of keyword, may not work for that kind of keyword. You’re going to have to do SEO. There isn’t a shortcut where I say, “well, half my keywords will still perform better if I do this.” That is very unlikely. All right. Next question.

My question is similar to where we have an existing site, there are probably a thousand pages, and we’d write relatively similar content for a long time. So we might have multiple rankings on page one or page two. 

As Google has diversified, what’s on do not have the same domain across the same page as much now. So though some of our rankings have fallen off, we’re left with much extra content. 

Is there a methodology you recommend we check out that would help us understand the cannibalization of keywords on various content or sites? For example, how can we best do internal linking to push toward the content we want to rank on a certain keyword? Any thoughts on that?

SS: What tools are you using currently?

For the most part, we are using AccuRanker to look at what contents are ranking. Then, we use the search console to look at what pages might rank for a different query. Then we’re running through an optimization process where we’ll strengthen the content, maybe combine two posts, noindex at an old piece, 301 to the new piece. 

But then, what it comes down to is internal linking. What should we do with internal linking to find 5 or 10 places? Do you guys have any recommendations on the number of internal links to create the hierarchy structure you were talking about? Are we trying to use content to an internal link to one piece of content we want to rank on that main keyword?

I don’t know if there are any methodologies, number of internal links, or anchor texts that you would recommend an exact match. But, again, we want to be diverse with the internal linking and anchor text. 

BC: There are a lot of methodologies out there. We follow our particular methodology. You might want to read up on something called SEO Silo. From the standpoint of tools, we also have our tools. The tools include ranking monitors and Majestic through an API. It includes everything we do that allows us to do top-shelf SEO. It even includes our plugin for WordPress. So we can do quite a bit at a tool level to give you an indication of different things.

We have a patent-pending technology built in that we get to put in a keyword, pull the top results from Google, analyze them, and tell you what Google’s rewarding.

That kind of technology could help you. Again, it’s a keyword-by-keyword basis, but we can help you quite a bit. Your methodology of, do I have 5 or 10 links, or how many words and things like that. That will actually come through experimentation. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that every keyword is different. The behavior of this keyword in this structure is what’s going to matter to you.

When we write a blog post, for instance, we make the blog post connect to our website, and we make the website connect to the blog post. But we don’t arbitrarily say we need 10 links to do it. It might just be one. So we need to be integrated into the website.

I was going to follow up, but you mentioned SEO siloing. That was more or less what I was asking about. We’re not starting new were from scratch. We map out the content. We have a big site that now needs to be redirected. 

You’re saying that the tools you have and the other tools you mentioned are the way at a keyword level. You would just look for opportunities to build in the silos with existing content, even if you’re not starting from scratch. 

BC: Right. It’ll give you a lot of information to do that.

SS: One site I like from an internal linking standpoint—they’ve just nailed it—is The New York Times. If you just search for Iraq in Google, for example, you will find a topic page from The New York Times for Iraq ranking in the first page’s top five positions. And the page isn’t even that good. But it is internally linked so strongly by the sheer authority and trust that The New York Times demand. So the way they’re internally linking is pretty awesome.

Think of ways that you can incorporate—like The New York Times—links to relevant topic pages, not just in a brain-dead way, such as listing the links at the bottom where categories and tag links, and related links, but work it into the page copy, into the blog post, the article.

Another thing, too, is that you said you lost a lot of rankings. I wouldn’t look at your linking because you didn’t suddenly move your internal linking structure around and cause you to lose ranking. Something happened. There is an algorithm update or something else. There are three pillars of SEO, and if the content, technical architecture, or links are weak, it’s like sitting on a two-legged stool; you will fall over. One of those could be contributing and not the thing you’re thinking of. Maybe it’s not internal linking at all. Maybe the content quality is not up to snuff anymore.

I’m not sure if any of you are aware of it, but it’s from Google Cloud. It’s their natural language API. It’s an AI, the machine learning algorithm—autoML—and uses a huge training data set. But you can use that technology. You don’t even have to pay for it. You can take your article copy, paste it into the little demo text box, hit go, and see the salient scores for all the different entities and keywords. In other words, entities are more than just individual keywords, but I’m oversimplifying.

Your salient score will probably be very low for the keywords or topics you care about for many of these pages. You don’t know, but Google’s getting smarter and smarter. Their machine-learning algorithms are taking over a lot of stuff at GooglePlex. You got to keep up with this stuff.

In fact, can we switch to the screen, and I’ll just quickly show you what I’m talking about here? This is the natural language API page. If you scroll down a little bit, this is the text box that says try the API. Highlight the whole text inside that text box, hit delete, and paste in the copy from your homepage, some landing page, product page, article, or blog post. Then, hit the analyze button, and it will do the calculation. For example, can I pick on you, Bruce?

BC: Yes, you may.

SS: I’ve never tried this with Bruce’s page, but let’s do it. Copy and paste and analyze. I got to prove I’m not a robot. And then you scroll down. These are all the entities. SEO salient score of 0.12. That could be better.

BC: I don’t do that.

SS: Ironically, your salience for Bruce Clay is 0.05. You might want to work on that. Anyway, that’s the tool. It’s that easy and super cool. And I’m sorry to pick on you, Bruce. I didn’t know it.

BC: It’s okay.

SS: I should’ve done that test earlier. I want my colleague to look good. That is free. How many people knew that that tool existed? One person. See?

CS: Yup. That’s a great tool. I also wanted to touch on that for a second as Stephan was saying where it might be something else. I was going to say before that don’t focus too much on internal linking more than something more important.

For example, your inbound links. Your inbound link profile will be much more important than your internal linking. Take a look at your Majestic trust flow and your Ahrefs UR ratings. Look at your authority and work on building your links.

Also, if you have a massive amount of links already, then run a link detox support on LRT. It’s a really, really great tool for looking at the domain-wide link toxicity score and seeing if you have some toxic links in there that are bringing down your authority and then disavowing those. Make sure you focus on the bigger picture and not get too crazy about this small part.

Another thing that came to mind also with your internal linking. For example, if you have a page that you want to rank high in the Google search results and it’s deep inside your content, like you have to click on multiple pages to get to it, consider moving that to your main navigation.

Make sure it’s not so deep in there because you want to have that be accessed from the homepage or any page throughout the website. So add a link in your main nav to those pages as well; just find a way to add that there, so it’s not so deep.

BC: One thing we haven’t talked about yet, but I’ll throw it in, is page load speed. How many people think their speed is fast enough? Okay, why don’t you go back to my homepage and then pick a subpage? Pick any subpage. Okay? If you can’t do that, you’re slow.

SS: Who knows about GTMetrix? Okay, all of you? Great. What are some other tools that they should know about?, who knows about that? Definitely,, that’s the tool that powers Google’s Think with Google Test My Site tool. What else?

BC: Google has the PageSpeed analyzer.

SS: Do you want to mention the Chrome User Experience?

BC: Go ahead.

SS: When you’re using PageSpeed Insights, if you have a popular enough site that gets enough traffic from Chrome users, it’ll show actual user data of their experience in terms of page load times. That’s way better than just getting the tools gas based on wherever it’s checking from whatever data center.

BC: Real quick. One of the things we did was we went to WebP for all images, which doesn’t work in Safari, so you have to do some coding around it. Then, we went to HTTP/2, which was an amazing upgrade. If you don’t have it on your server, it takes five minutes to install. It’s like a plugin, except for your server. HTTP/2 decreased our page load time by over 35%. You’re going to want to do that. There’s a lot of other stuff. We lazy load our image. When we go to a page, you can see how fast it loads, but everything below the fold loads later.

It takes four seconds to load our site but less than a half second to display everything above the fold. You want to look at that for user experience and actually for the search engines as well.

CS: Make sure you’re looking at your mobile and desktop loading speeds. Especially mobile, because most of your traffic is probably coming from mobile already if you look at your Google Analytics. Make sure your site is loading quickly on a mobile, or you can get pinged for that from Google if you’re low-loading sites on mobile. So make sure you’re looking at both those scores and doing everything you can to up your speeds.

BC: I’m going back to the original statement when we started. Voice search is exceptionally responsive to speed. If you expect to have a featured snippet, if you expect to have it show up, voice search is going to be very, very critical. We’re going to have to pay attention to that—next question.

I want to give a quick scenario. Let’s say diamond engagement rings. You could look at the top two sites there. One is content-rich, and the other has access to about 12,000 diamond engagement rings, is very fast on Hybris, and has an engagement ring sizer. 

One thing you’ll see in that space is that for years, especially in the late 2000s, before content marketing became the rebranding of SEO, people would create a knowledge center. So you can see this across, especially some of the older diamond engagement ring types of sites. 

I’d like to know how you go about researching what content will differentiate nowadays, especially in a very competitive space. If there are already a thousand articles out there on the top hundred sites about the 5Cs of diamonds, and there are already engagement ring sizers. Or pick another industry. What is your process of analyzing and discovering new content that could move the needle, especially for a very aggressive space?

CS: The first thing that comes to mind for me is providing unique value with your article or your content. Make sure that there’s something that makes it stand out from all the other articles or pages of content in that space already. Provide that unique value. That comes to mind first.

SS: What I look for is an opportunity to create something that is remarkable, worthy of remark, to use Seth Godin’s definition of remarkable. That doesn’t mean it has to be the best, most interesting, most useful, most controversial, most humorous or whatever piece of content. It just needs to have something about it that is worthy of remark, and that’s a Purple Cow.

I look for opportunities to create a curiosity gap or something counterintuitive. Something that will make people do a double take when scanning through all the stuff in their newsfeeds or wherever they’re consuming content. That’s because I’m trying to reach the linkerati with that content and grab them. If I can do something that’s a little bit cognitive dissonance.

Let’s say that that’s the 5Cs of diamonds. If I have somebody who’s a little old granny teaching that, that’s a little cognitive dissonance. Little counterintuitive. That might capture their attention. Instead of viral videos from this little old lady who teaches cooking, she swears like a truck driver, and it’s awesome. She’s really hilarious. Who’s ever seen any of those? Yeah, a couple of you. She’s awesome and very remarkable.

Look for ways to be remarkable that will get you higher quality links that’ll get you more buzz, more social spread, and sharing in all that.

BC: I’ve always heard that if it isn’t shareable, it isn’t worth writing. You’re going to have to pick topics. You’ll have to understand what keywords are common to the top-rank sites. If I have 10 pages, it may very well be that all 10 used the same keywords. I want to find a unique way to utilize those keywords and co-mingle them into my content naturally. I think that’s the overall goal. We are pretty much out of time.

SS: Can I say one quick thing?

BC: Go.

SS: Okay. A few of you got copies of my book at the beginning of the session. Everybody here will get a free digital copy of Google Power Search. Whip out your phone and text 33444 with the keyword ASW2020. I’ll also include a free module of my SEO auditing course. The module and technical glitches and easy fixes. That’ll be for everybody.

BC: In my case, it’s a little bit different. If you have a piece of paper or a business card—a card would be better—write the word tools across it. I’ll give you all a free month’s subscriptions to all my tools, so I can do that if you want to bring those cards up.

Otherwise, thank you very much for coming. I hope you’ve enjoyed this session. Remember, the rating is 10. I tried an 11 once, but everybody had problems with it. So, thank you very much; the session’s over.

CS: Thanks, guys.

SS: Thank you.

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