- Software Promotions
- Dave Collins on Twitter
- – or – https://www.softwarepromotions.com/forms/website-teardown/
- Dave’s direct email address: Dave@SoftwarePromotions.com
[00:00]Mike: This is Start Ups for the Rest of Us, Episode 207.
[00:10] Mike: Welcome to Start Ups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.
[00:18] Dave: I’m Dave.
[00:19] Mike: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes that we’ve made. Well, this week Rob is Thailand so what I’ve done is I’ve decided to invite Dave Collins from Software Promotions onto the show. So why don’t you just introduce yourself a little bit, talk about who you are, what it is that you do, how long you’ve been doing it, kind of what the relevance to our audience is.
[00:38] Dave: Well I’m Dave Collins, I’ve been working in let’s say online software and marketing types of things since 1997 somehow. And over the years, the work that I’ve been doing has evolved quite a lot but it’s mainly concerned with Google side of things so we were doing SEO actually before most people knew what Google was – actually we were doing SEO before most people knew what SEO was. These were the days of AltaVista, HotBot, LiveCast, InfoSeek, so a lot’s changed but a surprising amount has actually stayed more or less the same in the core principles of SEO. As AdWords kind of became the big thing we started doing more and more of it and here I am today.
[01:23] Mike: Cool. So one of the reasons I wanted to have you on was because a few weeks ago I had mentioned one of the talks at Business of Software that was from Rand Fishkin and he was talking a little bit about what Google’s doing, why they’re doing it, and what other people should be paying attention to and what lies ahead for Google and for how the rest of online marketers should pay attention to what they’re doing and how they should be reacting to it. So since you’re firmly entrenched in this space I wanted to bring you in and talk a little bit about what Google’s goals are, why they’re doing the types of things that they are, and what the rest of us can do to respond to those things. Because, obviously, they issue an update, your search engine rankings can go up or down – for most of us I think those rankings tend to go down based on whatever it is that they’re doing, because something that was perfectly okay to do yesterday is now no longer okay so now the rest of us have to do a lot more work in order to keep up with Google. So why don’t you talk a little bit about what Google’s main direction is right now and why they’re doing it.
[02:19] Dave: Okay, so there’s been an awful lot going on in the last few years, I’d say the last two or three years or so have seen more by the way of dramatic change than all the other years I’ve worked in SEO put together. What it’s all about, people often get hung up on the different names of the updates and the algorithms and the filters – like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird – if you sort of take a step back it’s actually pretty simple. It’s all about Google trying to get rid of what they refer to as “search engine spam,” and what they mean by that are basically garbage, low quality sites that show up in the search results. Google ultimately wants to provide people with what they’re looking for as quickly and efficiently as possible so what they’re trying to do is get rid of all of these – you know all the sites that you carry out a search and the first, second, third, and fourth aren’t so good and they’re not relevant, and some of them are junk, and some of them sell things totally unrelated to what you’re searching for? So that’s it, just about clearing up the mess, really.
[03:22] Mike: I assume that you’re talking in some cases, I’ll call them “farms” of websites and I’ll throw eHow and About.com into this bunch because I know that I’ve gone to those sites and they happen to have ranked very highly for something and you go there and it’s completely not relevant. One of the things that Google is doing is that they’re moving these things around a lot; those types of sites are simply not relevant. Why is it that Google is so bent on making sure that people are getting the search engine results that they’re looking for?
[03:50] Dave: Well, there are a few things to take into account here. The number one factor by far is that in a sense, Google is literally fighting for their survival. What I mean by that is that Google depends almost exclusively on their income from advertising; some of it from their partner sites, from the display of content network and a lot of it comes from the actual ads that Google themselves show. When you go to Google, the ads that show on the right hand side and usually two or three about the organic searches, that’s where the money comes from. So what’s happening here is Google is very aware that if they don’t start clearing up the quality of their organic content – the normal listings – after a while, people like you and I, if there are people like you and I and everyone out there, eventually we’re just simply going to get frustrated by the really poor results we get, by the number of awful quality sites that we have to wade through to find what we’re looking for.
[04:49] If that happens, the disaster scenario for Google is that people like ourselves think, “Maybe there’s something better out there. Maybe I should try Bing, maybe I should try Yahoo!” DuckDuckGo. When enough of us start doing that, the revenue that Google is going to get from their ads is going to fall at a pretty alarming rate – alarming for Google, anyway. It’s Google peering into what might be in the future, and I think it’s a really important point that a lot of people don’t quite get is that although Google don’t actually make money from the organic results – in other words, from the non-ads – although that they don’t make money from it directly, this is the base upon which everything else is built. This is why we go to Google to search. That’s what they’re defending here.
[05:40] Mike: So essentially what we’re looking at is Google is trying to pump up the number of searches that people are doing on a monthly, weekly, or even a daily basis, and they want those search results to be relevant because they’re afraid that people will leave, and if they leave that ad revenue goes down. And obviously, the difference between five billion and four and a half billion searches per day is a fairly large chunk of their revenue. And I think that is there’s something to do with the sticky factor as well – I’ve been using Google for probably at least ten years now, and the fact is, I don’t go anywhere else right now because Google provides results that are good enough for me. But I do see your point where if it got to a point where I would do a search, and then do a search, and then do another search, if I’m still not finding the things that I need, I might very well go elsewhere. But I haven’t really felt the need to do that because they are providing me good enough search results at this point.
[06:31] Dave: Exactly, that’s exactly the point. You actually more or less took the words out of my mouth. What I remember is back in the day when I first started SEO, there was a scenario where you had a number of big, main search engines like AltaVista, like HotBot, you had these various options to choose from and ultimately what it boiled down to is over time the more you used them you kind of knew that AltaVista, for instance, was quite good to find articles. You knew that InfoSeek was quite good when it came to finding things that you wanted to buy online – online shopping. And Google, I suspect, absolutely dread that scenario reoccurring. They don’t want Google to be an option, they don’t want people like you and I and everyone else to have links on their browser to Yahoo!, Google, Bing, whoever. They don’t want all these options, they want “this is the source of everything,” which is why they’ve added so many things to their search platform over the years; they want this to be a one-stop-shop, if you like, for everything.
[07:32] Mike: Yeah I remember at one point my favorite search engine was actually MetaCrawler because it would aggregate the top results from places like Google, and Yahoo!, and Bing, and Ask.com and About.com and all these other ones and I didn’t have to go to multiple search engines. I just went there and because it was aggregated from all the top results I didn’t really have to worry about it as much. And I don’t even remember what the trigger was for me to move over to Google, but eventually I just did full time and I haven’t really looked back.
[08:00] One of the things that I see Google doing, especially in the search results, is that there’s little icons that show up next to some of the different content results and I know that’s related to authorship. Why don’t we talk a little bit about some of the authorship because those things in the Google search results I think are going to be relevant to people who are putting new content out there, because just having the little icons of who wrote it or the company where that content came from, it draws your eye I’ll say. But I want to drill in a little bit and talk a little about that.
[08:31] Dave: Okay, so what authorship is about, ultimately, is Google is, if you like, joining the dots, connecting content that people wrote with the actual people themselves – authors with their actual content. So the idea is I write a certain blog post on something amazing that’s going on in the SEO world and when that shows up when you carry out a search in Google, instead of it just being the regular format, you’d see a tiny little photograph of me, which is quite eye-catching to have a photograph next to the listing and it makes it stand out. Now, what happened then in a way that was quite predictable, it’s almost like it’s an ongoing game of cat and mouse between Google and the people trying to squeeze Google for whatever they can, even trying to trick Google, just trying to work Google to their own needs, it’s this constant cat and mouse game. So the idea of authorship was, I think a very nice one, I’m sure it was in no small part, rather, down to Google very much wanting to push people onto Google Plus because that’s a really nice and easy way to do that and to push a platform.
[09:36] So what happened was, searches started to show up with the little pictures, obviously that catches your eye – which in an SEO world is magic, that’s what you want, you want people to look at your content – so what then happened was, all the other SEOs started going “That’s a great thing that we can do, look how this one stands out. What we should do for our content and our clients’ content is we should also start putting up pictures.” So everyone started doing it and for whatever reason Google then pulled the plug on it. Now, Google’s line is that ultimately it just wasn’t worth their while, in a sense; there was little to gain and nothing to show for it. What struck me about the whole thing is that for some reason a lot of people made a big deal out of Google pulling the plug on authorship; this is what they do the whole time, they try different ideas, they try different platforms and either they say “This works, let’s make it, let’s write it in stone, let’s adapt it as a norm” or they just discard it. And in this case it was just discarded and it’s a shame. We’re talk about SEO, but for all intents and purposes we’re taught by Google’s optimization, they call the shots, they decide what they’re going to pull the plug on and all we can do is follow.
[10:52] Mike: Well, one of the reasons that they initially gave for using authorship is to identify the original – I call it the source of authority – for a particular article. And I always felt like that was a great way to help keep people from scraping content from other people’s websites and then putting it on their own as if they were the original author. Is there still a way to do that and flag some content as “We wrote this original content so nobody else should be claiming it and posting it all over the place or syndicating it. I still should be getting the credit for this original piece”?
[11:24] Dave: You’ve touched on a really important topic which is that Google hates other website regurgitating content. So you mentioned eHow, for instance, there’s nothing original there, they just scrape other content, put it on their own site, draw in traffic, and what we do is, we search for something and we find ourselves in this situation where we might click the first five sites as they show up in the results and three or four of them or even five of them could actually have identical content. I agree that was definitely a factor. In answer to your question, bizarrely, there isn’t an easy way of you basically registering your content and saying, “This is mine. Hey Google, if you see it elsewhere, know that they’re copying us. We’re the original.” [12:10] There is, however, a kind of basic hack, if you like, on what we do with content like that when we really want Google to understand it’s ours and we created it. As soon as it goes live, we always have a Rel= canonical tag that points to the URL, but as soon as it goes live in the Google webmaster tools account, we simply submit the page – not the whole website but just that content – to Google and in a way we hoping that we’re saying to Google, “The first time you read this was here, we submitted it, we drew your attention to it, your robots crawled across it, it showed up in your index so you should know that when other versions of it pop up that we were the original.”
[12:53] Mike: Do you think that one of the other reasons why Google might have gotten away from identifying the original author is so that they themselves can scrape some of that information and post it up on the top of their search results? If you just go to Google right now and you just type in “weather,” for example, it will show you information for weather on where you’re currently located, but they basically scraped that from weather.com and you could type in “Boston” you’ll get information about Boston. But that stuff is obviously scraped from other places. I mean, could one of the reasons they got rid of authorship is so that they can scrape information themselves and not look bad?
[13:27] Dave: There’s a certain irony here that Google, in a sense, is cracking down hard – really stamping down – on websites that don’t have original content. But in a way, the website that’s now being the mother of all scrapers, if you like, is Google because, like you said, I typed it, I knew what I’d see, obviously, but as you say, I typed in “weather” and there’s information that I can see for where I live in the UK and it’s attributed, so they’ve got a little note underneath saying that it’s taken from the Weather Channel, but the fact is, as you said, it’s not their content. And if you think about it, when you have this content that shows up in Google’s results, a scrape of the content instead of a link, this is a nightmare, this is beyond a nightmare. Because we create great content, ultimately, to entice people to our websites, to demonstrate to them that we are genuinely experts in these areas – this is what a lot of online marketing is about, it’s demonstration of knowledge, entice people in and show them how good we are.
[14:30] And Google in a sense, they are sort of planting a very large bomb underneath that whole idea and they’re saying for certain types of information you don’t need to go to the website anymore, you can just come to us. Why go click on the link when they’re going to display that information right up there for you. So in a way they’ve gone from being a portal, if you like – you go, you search, you click, and you get taken – and they’re starting slowly to move over to the different model which is you go to Google and you find what you’re looking for and that’s it, job done.
[15:03] Mike: Yeah, I remember there were a couple of tweets back when Matt Cutts from Google announced that they had this new tool that would allow you to submit information to Google about when you found scraped content that was out on the internet and you could report it to Google. And I distinctly remember that there was a tweet saying “Found one” and it showed a picture of the Google search engine outranking somebody whose original content was there and obviously Google had scraped the content and put it up there as if it was their own. The pain point there for those people who have that original website is that they are no longer getting that search engine traffic which, quite frankly, kind of sucks for them because Google is taking essentially their search engine content and placing it up there on Google’s website so that you no longer have to go to that website to get the information which is essentially taking website visits away from them, which may very well funnel them into different marketing campaigns. So they’re no longer getting that traffic at all, so there’s no more of these entry points that people might be going through. In a way, I guess, you could say Google is essentially stealing revenue from these companies.
[16:11] Dave: Yeah, very much so. It sounds almost overly dramatic and everyone likes to hate the big company so Google gets a lot of flak. A lot of businesses and companies are doing – if you take for instance any tourist-based website, let’s say you sell burgers say somewhere nice like SoHo in London, that’s your thing you sell handmade, beautiful burgers that don’t give you food poisoning, that’s what you want to be known for. So what you’re likely to do in days gone by is that you put up knowledge that would be useful to people who might be interested in what you sell, so you might put travel information, you might put useful addresses, you might put train times and all that sort of thing. All those things were quite legitimate and there all based on this idea that people who come to SoHo will want to know this information.
[16:59] We’ll give it to them and while they’re here, they’ll know a really good place to get burgers that won’t give them food poisoning. Now in a sense, those things are working less and less, more or less on an ongoing on a daily basis even, because that information is just going to be there without having to click on the link and it’s a really huge, huge difference. And ultimately, what can you do about it? You can’t fight Google.
[17:23] Mike: I think we’ve talked quite a bit about some of the bad things that Google is doing, why don’t we focus a little bit more on some of the things that people can do to increase their search engine rankings. What things are important, what things are not, and where should we really be spending our time. We need search engine rankings, we need to be able to get people to click through those search engine results and onto our website, but even before that, you need to be able to rank up in the search engine rankings. So let’s talk about some of the techniques that people can be using. What sorts of things should we be doing?
[17:54] Dave: The single biggest threat to SEO for normal business is paralysis by analysis. It’s that we know that SEO really should be on our to-do list, in fact most of us probably have SEO on our to-do list and it’s been there for so many months if not years. And we’re in this strange position that, first of all, we’re not sure what to do and there’s also a great deal a fear that we all hear about the algorithm updates. The horror stories where people get banned or people’s traffic falling to minuscule proportions. And we even hear of people being punished for something they didn’t even know wasn’t allowed. There’s very much a temptation to stay parked and do nothing, and I think that’s a really dangerous thing to do because the whole ecosystem, if you like, of SEO is changing so much on an ongoing basis.
[18:50] People are now being penalized for things that, in the past, were absolutely 100% fine. In terms of practical things that normal businesses can do with limited time and resources – the first thing is simply do something. I always fall back on my, if you like, golden rule of SEO which is: if you create good quality and original, unique content that’s relevant to your target audience, you can’t go wrong. It’s so simple, don’t write, don’t create pages of content for Google and their spiders, but create pages of content that people are actually going to find useful. And obviously the people you’re aiming that at is the people who you actually want to come explore whatever it is you’re selling on your website. And it sounds so simple, it sounds too good to be true, and the “But I don’t know where to start” type of answer that I’ve heard many variations of, I think in terms of answering that issue, the biggest mistake that I see people make is they think of creating related content.
[19:58] So, for instance, let’s say that you sell ecommerce services, so you have something that people can simply drop on their website and start selling whatever it is they sell online more or less immediately. The mistake is to say, “What I’m going to do is write lots of articles and create lots of content about ecommerce services” because that’s actually not of interest to people who might be interested in signing up with you – they’re not interested in articles about your service. What they are likely to be interested in is “How do I sell my products online? What’s the quickest and easiest way that I can accept credit cards without setting up a merchant account? How do I accept PayPal transactions without a PayPal account?”
[20:39] Content like this is what people are going to be looking for and actually Google gives us a great tool, Google’s Keyword Planner, so the way that works, without getting into the depths of it, is that you put your keywords into it and it spits back a load of relevant and associated phrases – a lot of which will be wrong, and the numbers are certainly very wrong – but these are keywords that Google consider relevant to your actual search and that’s a really good starting point. Again, the golden rule is: good content, original content, and it’s got to, got to be of interest to the people who you want to reach.
[21:15] Mike: So essentially you can create articles that are directly related to your products but those are only going to be of interest to people who are already on your website and trying to find out information about it. Instead what people should be doing is “genericizing” it a little bit and saying, “Ok, well this is what our product is, but in general, how would you solve this problem if you weren’t using our product? What are the different options? What are the different things that you can do – for an ecommerce provider – how would you sell your products online?” Instead of talking about your products, you talk about – in general – what are the steps that you need to go through to put your product online and sell it. And those are the things that will show up in Google’s search results, correct?
[21:53] Dave: Exactly. I’m a big believer that most searches, ultimately people go there because they have a problem; they have something that needs fixing, something that’s broken, something that’s causing them pain. “Where can I find the cheapest X?” But people ultimately go because they have a pain point or a problem, and that’s the answer, that’s what you need to be providing the answers for very much: “How do I? How can I?” These sorts of queries.
[22:20] Mike: Now what about educational content like, for example, Rob has DRIP and one of the sales pitches for it is that you can essentially send out emails to people with an educational email campaign. Would it be advisable to not only use the content for those emails in the email campaign, but to also put the content of those emails on a blog, for example, or some other place where you’re posting content regularly to essentially walk people through? Because it seems like if you’re only putting it in that email sequence, then only the people who sign up for it are going to get it. But however, you could also leverage that as content on your blog or various other places in your website where you’re also going to rank for as a search engine. What are your thoughts on that?
[23:03] Dave: In days gone by, a good and effective approach would be to write content – it doesn’t matter whether it’s for a website or an email, whatever – create content, pay someone, some company twenty to thirty dollars and they then send it out to hundreds, or even thousands – even tens of thousands – of websites that would in inverted commerce syndicate the content. In other words, copy it. And that actually worked very well. Nowadays we’ve actually gone a full 180 degrees and the fact that you and I had this conversation just a few minutes ago of “How do I make sure people don’t copy my content?” that’s symptomatic of this complete reversal so now we want to have this content and we don’t want it to be seen as duplicate because even having a network of your own websites and having duplicates of the content is potentially very dangerous. The good news is, though, there are very, very easy ways to do it. So if you’ve got – in the example that you came out with, let’s say you’ve got your content that’s going to go out in an email newsletter like DRIP – you’re quite right, it’s a shame if Google ongoing spot this and it’s a shame if people who aren’t signed up for your content don’t spot this and if you think about it, this content is hidden away, it’s literally in its own little protective bubble and the only way to get into that protective bubble is to subscribe so Googleare not going to see that content at all.
[24:27] So I would advocate using that content somewhere on your website where you can put it to best use, but I very much like this idea of if you create some really great content, use it wherever you can, use it to the best possible use. Let’s say I write a very fascinating article, some of the finer intricacies of search engine optimization 2014, but I could also think it’s going to be quite good on this website, and then this website, and that’s where you have to be careful. If I’m going to put the content in two different places that Google are going to find it, the bottom line is that it’s fine to do that – it really is fine – but you’ve got to make sure that, in effect, you’re waving a flag to Google and saying “This content exists somewhere else and it’s here” and it’s using that tag that I mentioned before, the REL = Canonical. If you look that up on Google, it’s very, very basic and this kind of defines the source, the original version.
[25:28]So if you’ve got site1.com and site2.com and you have the same article on both, the correct way of doing it is to put your article on site1, put it on site2.com and assuming that site1 is the stronger, have the canonical tag on the site2 content pointing to the site1 version of it. So in a sense you’re saying to Google, “It’s ok, we’re not trying to trick you, we’re not trying to copy, we’re not trying to deceive you, this is a copy and this is where we got it from.”
[25:57] Mike: That seems like one of those details that you would know if you were kind of entrenched in this space but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s something that I would have ever searched for. Like, the average person listening to this is going to say, “That’s very interesting, it’s awesome that I could re-use content in such a way on the internet that I’m not going to be penalized by Google for it because I’m basically following their rules with this” but at the same time, how would I even know that? It sounds like one of those obscure details that, unless I’m entrenched in this industry and I’m spending lots and lots of time here, I just wouldn’t know that and I wouldn’t think to search for that. How would I even stay informed about these types of things?
[26:37] Dave: This is a very real problem. Five years ago, especially ten years ago, it didn’t matter, you didn’t have to worry about these things, you didn’t have to worry about doing something that you thought was legitimate and then paying for the consequences a year or so later when you get really hit by Google or InfoSeek or anyone. Today, as you’ve said, it’s a very, very real problem, and there are a lot of businesses out there using perfectly legitimate techniques and – I have to stress, this isn’t a moral issue. The whole white hat SEO that’s the type of SEO that if you like, doesn’t “trick” Google in any way it follows the rules and black hat SEO, that’s all about tricking and hacking. This isn’t a moral question; there are no rights or wrongs. Google seems to have somehow almost persuaded a lot of people out there that these rules are more or less moral or legal issues and there’s nothing illegal or immoral about breaking these rules.
[27:39] However, it’s a really good idea to know what these rules are because, unlike five or ten years ago, they can really, really hurt you. And just like in legal situations, ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. And it’s a very big problem and, unfortunately, it’s a part of doing business online today that you do need to tune in to what’s out there. The easiest way is to follow some good authorities in the search engine world. So, for instance, if you go to Moz.com you’ll find a blog with some very, very good content talking about signal to noise ratio. There’s so much noise, there are so many people who don’t understand the whole cause-correlation-effect type thing at all. So you see people who stop advertising on Google AdWords and watch their rankings fall in the organic listings and immediately say, “Hey, there’s a link. If you don’t pay enough Google will pull the carpet out from under your feet on the organic listings.” It’s a really good idea to find the good voices that are out there: Moz.com is a really good starting point, as I’ve mentioned. If you search for names like “Search Engine Land,” Barry Schwartz, Danny Sullivan, these are people who really, really know what they’re talking about. You’ve got to find the right people to follow and listen to what they say.
[28:59] Mike: It seems like there’s multiple levels of knowledge that you have to have. Obviously there’s the broad knowledge that you want to have about the different ways to rank your website but it just feels like when you’re not focused on trying to increase your search engine rankings or increase website traffic, I feel like you miss a lot of things that are going on. A lot of the suggestions you just gave are really good. The other question I have, though, is how much time does it take for the average person to stay on top of the SEO that’s going on for their website. Is there a minimum amount of time that you should be spending on it?
[29:35] Dave: The answer depends on your website, your situation and your history, level of competition, what you’ve done so far, but my simple rule of thumb is anything is better than nothing. So if you pencil into your calendar thirty minutes every Tuesday morning and all you’re going to do during that time is log into your analytics account, set up a segment – so you’re only looking at the organic traffic – open up the date range to the last year, and just have a look what’s happening. Straight away, that whole thing will take you a minute, two minutes at the most, and straight away you’re going to see if there’s a problem.
[30:09] Is your organic traffic drying up? So that’s a pretty simple indicator. Google Webmaster Tools – I’m always amazed how many people haven’t set up Google Webmaster Tools accounts. If you haven’t, just go to Google, search for Google Webmaster Tools, it’s so straightforward to set up the account. The beauty is, there’s nothing to install on your website, you don’t need to put code on all your webpages – it’s not like analytics – and there’s some incredibly useful information in there, some very clear pointers from Google about “this is a problem, this may be an issue” and they will let you know in no uncertain terms if you’re being hit by a penalty or even if there’s a general big, serious technical problem. Putting those two together – analytics and Webmaster Tools – you can spend five minutes a week and you’ve got those two things covered. Now, that’s not doing SEO but what you’re doing is you’re at least aware if there’s a problem.
[31:03] I’d say for a small business – I mean, we’re a tiny business, our company we only have two full-time people – we have the same problem that any other small business has which is that we don’t have enough time to do it. So if you can be spending an hour a week, just an hour a week on creating new content, spend five minutes making sure everything is ok, the other fifty, fifty-five minutes purely on creating this good, really good content for Google, but primarily for your site visitors, that’s huge. That means at the end of the month, realistically, you’ll have two or three brand new pieces of content and that’s really, really important. You’ll make significant progress with that one hour investment per week. Also one other thing: bearing in mind, I’d say about sixty to seventy percent of the companies that come to us to handle their SEO come to us because there’s a problem, the other thirty forty percent basically want more targeted traffic from Google.
[32:01] Sixty to seventy percent some to us because there’s a problem, they’re checking their analytics at some point and they suddenly say, “That’s why we’re not getting as many sales. Our traffic from Google literally dropped to a tenth of the level that we used to get and that was two or three months ago” so a very panicky email, and very panicky phone call basically saying, “Please fix this quickly!” Another good, simple rule of thumb is proactive is very much the way to go. If you can keep an eye on these things, even on a really, really busy week, I guarantee you have five minutes to check your analytics and webmaster tools.
[32:39] You have, let’s say, another five minutes to just keep an eye on what’s happening on some of these blogs like on Moz, like Danny Sullivan, like Barry Schwartz. That ten minute investment could make the most enormous, enormous difference so you hear that there’s something out there: someone from Google, Matt Cutts from Google mentions there’s an issue, that this is something to be aware of. Every time he opens his mouth, more or less, it’s like holding up a sign saying, “This will become official Google policy within the next year or so.” And just monitor these things because being aware and taking steps to prevent getting in trouble is a whole lot more effective than trying to fix it once it’s broken.
[33:21] Mike: You mentioned that it only takes five minutes or so each week and I think that’s just one of those tasks that just kind of falls between the cracks and they just never seem to get to it and then you go a couple of weeks, then you go a couple of months, and then you just start never checking it. We’ve talked in the past at MicroConf before about the idea of having a Marketing Monday where you just spend all of your activities that one day a week concentrated on your SEO, making sure that you’re putting out good content, managing and building different marketing campaigns for your website, reaching out to people – whether it’s email newsletters, things like that. One of the things that I’ve started to find really helpful lately is to take those things and say, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do for task X.” So one of the things that I’ve started getting into is doing webinars, and there’s a lot of things that go into that so you have to create it in Go2Webinar, you have to advertise for it a little bit, you have to set up the landing page, there’s all these different steps that go into.
[34:18] For something like managing your SEO or just kind of double checking to make sure that things aren’t going wrong, take those steps and put them onto what I’m calling action plans. And, essentially, an action plan is a list of to-dos that you need to accomplish in order to feel good that you have finished whatever this particular task is. So, for example, reviewing your website stuff, those are the two things: go into Google Analytics, and go into the Google Webmaster Tools. Those two things and then just, say, check these five settings. That’s it. That’s all you need to do, but unless you write those things down and actually put them on a list that you’re supposed to go through that to-do list, it seems to me like those things just completely slip through the cracks at some point and then you just never get around to them.
[35:02] Dave: Yep, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s fascinating what you said because I hear this the whole time of people who say, “It’s only five minutes,” so because it’s only five minutes and this particular Monday or Tuesday is so packed and hectic – and I’ve got the meeting, and I’ve got the phone call, and I’ve got the content – because of this it’s so easy to just brush it aside. I think a good way to look at it is, look at it as brushing your teeth, it doesn’t matter how tired you are, it doesn’t matter what time you get in at night – or, for that matter, how late you oversleep in the morning – you never think, “Yeah, you know what? I’m not going to brush my teeth, I’m going to save that three minutes or four minutes and I’m going to get that extra three or four minutes sleep.” It’s a similar logic it’s just like you said, this process list is invaluable so if you have your three or four points, do you have a checklist, for instance, for any process that I can put into a list, it makes the whole lot easier. So, until SEO becomes burned into your brain, it’s a good idea to have “Tuesday 10:15, check the twelve – thirteen month overview in Analytics, check the Google Webmaster Tools, check some of the blogs that I look at, and start sketching out the next piece of content. And you hit that 30 minute point or the 45 minute point, whatever you’ve scheduled, but then it’s done. If you do get hit, the results of a so-called “Google slap” can be catastrophic.
[36:28] Mike: I think the other distinct advantage of putting them together in a checklist like that is that you can take that checklist and you can outsource it to somebody and document exactly what needs to be done and, that way, you are no longer doing it. I’ve been viewing my job as the entrepreneur to be putting together those checklists and saying, “These are the things that need to be done. I don’t necessarily need to do them but I need to figure out what needs to be done so that I can either outsource that or not forget the critical steps along that path.” Because, as you said, if you start forgetting those things, bad things will eventually happen.
[37:00] Dave: I remember one of your MicroConf talks that I think handled this exact podcast that we’re recording right now, if I remember rightly, there’s a step-by-step process that you and Rob go through and, if I remember rightly, other than the actual recording, everything else was outsourced. And I remember frantically writing this down or typing it into my Evernote and I just thought that was just fantastic.
[37:24] Mike: Well I think that’s a great place to wrap things up. Why don’t you tell us where people can find you if they’re interested in either having a website reviewed or talking to you a little more about SEO or just where they can find you.
[37:35] Dave: Ok, I’ll never miss an opportunity to plug myself so our website is SoftwarePromotions.com, you can find me on Twitter. I’m @TheDaveCollins – in other words, someone else got Dave Collins so I’m @TheDaveCollins for Twitter. Any questions about SEO, genuinely, depressingly I actually do enjoy, even love talking about it so Dave@SoftwarePromotions.com.
[38:01] Mike: There’s a website that you have called WebsiteTeardown.com, and if you’ve never had your website torn down before and are interested in having somebody who’s very, very good at it, go there, sign up, you can click on there and it’ll take you through to the Software Promotions website and you can sign up to have essentially have a website teardown done for you that will look at your website – Dave or Dave’s partner will take a look at it. It’s fascinating the types of things that you’ll learn from someone who’s looking at your website with a fresh set of eyes who also has that SEO background to it. They can tell you the things that you’re doing right, the things that you’re doing wrong, and where you can improve those things. And Dave’s done a number of them at MicroConf, he’s very, very good at them. He did some recently at the Business of Software as well. I would highly, highly recommend it if you’re having problems getting conversions on your website or driving people through to a sales funnel.
[38:54] So Dave, thanks so much for coming onto the show, we really appreciate it. If you have a question for us or you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can email it to us at Questions@StartupsfortheRestofUS.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Out of Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for Startups and visit StartupsfortheRestofUs.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.