6 SEO Strategies to Consider: Expert Interview Blake Reichenbach

Is there any ROI to learning SEO? What do you actually need to pay attention to in regards to SEO? In this interview with Blake he peels back the layers of SEO and explains how different companies can focus their efforts on various components of SEO.

What businesses can gain from a strong SEO Strategy

  • Gain more traffic to your website 
  • Enable your content to be found by the right people at the right time
  • Rank higher in Google (first or second pages of results)

6 Strategies to Consider: 

1. You are a company looking to expand your online reach and increase search authority on certain phrases. What are the next steps?

2. You are a new company with low website traffic. What should you focus on?

3. You have redesigned your website or using a new platform. What do you need to consider to keep your SEO authority?

4. When should you hire an SEO consultant?

5. How important are backlinks?

6. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint: How to maintain your pace.

Alex: Hi everybody, Alex here. I'm excited to talk about SEO, something I feel like I never know enough about and to do so, and hopefully as accessible and practical away as possible. I'm joined by Blake Reichenbach, who also feels passionately about taking all of the SEO options that are out there and condensing them into what businesses should actually consider and do to make the most impact.

 

Blake Reichenbach :Yeah, that's a really good way to put it. I love working with small and medium sized businesses where we can be really creative and intentional with these solutions. Hey everybody, my name is Blake Reichenbach. I'm a search optimization product expert at HubSpot, which basically is just a really long title to say. If you've ever worked with a HubSpot support rep or an account manager and asked an SEO strategy question then they said, "Let me check on some of my internal resources and get back to you on that," hi, I'm the internal resource.

 

Alex : I love it. How did you end up on that path, Blake? What got you into SEO?

 

Blake Reichenbach :

Yeah. Before coming into HubSpot, I was actually just doing some freelance content marketing and writing for local nonprofits and small businesses in Louisville, Kentucky. And along the way I decided, "I think I want to expand out a little bit from this." And I ended up getting in to finding the HubSpot Academy, doing some of the training courses through there. Eventually, I was like, "That's a really cool company. I like what they do at the Academy. I'll just apply for a job there."

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And once I got in at HubSpot and really had a chance to dig around with our software and the tools that we have and the inbound methodology that we championed with our customers, I really became captivated by the idea of being found online. And I used that as a launching point to teach myself about front end web development. And then from there, once I built a site and had it live, I really leaned into SEO strategy and started peeling back the layers of saying, "Okay, I know how websites are built and how they work from a functional level, but let's really play with and explore this content aspect of it." And so my relationship with SEO really just blossomed out of there and the curiosity to want to go deeper with those questions.

 

Alex:

I like that idea of layers too, because I really do feel like that you can understand kind of the starting point and then really build on top of that step-by-step and peel back like, "Okay, I understand this part of SEO now, and now I understand this additional piece, now I understand this other piece," and it does start to build up into, "Okay. I actually understand a fair amount now." So, I like that analogy.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah. And you know with the topic like SEO, I think that's a really important approach for anybody to take, because when we talked about SEO, that is such a huge umbrella. I mean, within SEO you have like the content strategy side, the technical side, the international side, local SEO, eCommerce, like it covers so, so much. And I think taking that layered approach of getting solid with the basics in one area and then building on top of that's the only practical way to go.

 

Alex :

Fair enough. And that fits in really well with what we're trying to do in this conversation, so yeah, for everybody watching, this is going to be as relevant, valuable, and actionable for people who don't necessarily have a ton of internal resources and are probably in a smaller to a medium-sized business, or even maybe a business that isn't doing SEO particularly well. That's the goal that we have in this conversation, that's the lens that we're approaching SEO with, so we're going to use a few examples scenarios that might be familiar to the position that you find yourself in to kind of explore how do we sort through all of the info about SEO that's out there and actually walk away with a few things that we should do in these particular circumstances?

 

Alex :

Blake, should we jump into the first one?

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah, let's go for it.

 

1. Alex:

Awesome. This first example is somebody who's joining a company, you're newish to the company, and your company is looking to expand your marketing efforts by increasing your search engine presence. You've got some content but when you're searching for industry specific terms on Google, you see more of your competitors, none of the content that you've created really looks to be showing up on that first couple of pages. You've done some research to see what you should be doing to improve, but you found varying pieces of advice and varying recommendations as well, but a lot of the things that do come up seem to be very time sensitive or you have to do a lot in terms of investing resources to make those things happen. So, that's the situation we're in. Let's figure out a little bit about what you should think about in this scenario.

 

Blake Reichenbach :

Yeah. This happens a lot and it's especially true that when people come into this task of expanding search engine presence and they turn to some of the SEO resources online, you'll have one article giving this advice, one article giving this advice, one article giving this advice, and sometimes they overlap, sometimes they seem to conflict with each other. And in a way, what makes SEO such a challenge to get started is that even when this advice conflicts, it's probably all right in some way.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

One of the catch phrases of SEO work is it depends. Like if you ask an SEO question, chances are the most accurate answer someone can give you is, "It depends." So, with the sheer variety of approaches you can take and information you can get, I like to say that your SEO efforts should be rooted in the exact same motivation as all of your other marketing efforts. And that's in having a really clear understanding of who your customer is, what they need, and how you can fill that gap, how you can provide answers or entertainment or solve their problems through your content.

With SEO and trying to get found online, it's about creating content that's going to appear for the right person at the right time. And in this case, in the right place means a search engine. So, if you're in this position where you're newish to accompany, there's a bit of preexisting content, you're not necessarily ranking very highly, the absolute best first thing you can do is get really, really clear on who your target audience is and how your business meets their needs. From there-

 

Blake Reichenbach:

I think that we often with SEO think in terms of what can I do to please the algorithm or to please Google. And in my opinion, that should be like a secondary or maybe even tertiary concern. The number one focus should be your customer. And once you've clarified what your customer looks like, getting a baseline pulse check for where you're at is super important. It's easy to say kind of anecdotally, "I went to Google, I searched an industry term, and I don't see my site," but as much as possible when you're trying to make informed decisions with SEO, try and root them in data.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

So, after you've clarified your target audience and how your business fits their needs, get set up with Google Search Console, if you're not already. If your company does already have a Search Console account, get added onto it as an admin, because within Google Search Consult, which is a free tool that Google provides, it was previously called Google Webmaster Tools, it allows you to see what search queries are bringing people to your site, how many impressions you're getting, what your average rank is, so how high up are you normally in search engine result pages, and how many clicks you're getting out of those impressions.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

In addition to that, it's also going to give you some really cool insights into your site health. So, if pages can't be indexed, if there are content warnings, if they're not performing well, all of that is surfaced in Google Search Console. And so when you're getting started, spend a bit of time going through the information that Search Console provides you. Get a sense for, "Okay, of the traffic that we are getting, are there any terms that might surprise me? Are there terms that have maybe fewer impressions, but a higher click-through rate? How can we attribute existing data to the search patterns that are visible to us in Search Console?"

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And of course, if you do have any big red flags like Search Console saying, "Hey, you have 500 pages that can't be indexed, address that," that's probably not going to happen, but deal with it if it is, but get a sense for what existing behavior is and use that as a launching point for strategizing, "Okay. If this is how my customer's currently behaving, what does that tell me about their understanding of my business? And does that give me any more insights into the questions they have or their needs that I can solve?"

 

Alex :

Awesome. So far in this newcomer to a company situation, we have step number one is really making sure you understand the people you're trying to reach. And that's kind of the... You got to have that. And then really the second piece here is, is instead of relying on maybe some kind of just pulse checks where it comes to searching Google and seeing where you're showing up, using something like Google Search Console to really get a feel for this is actual data of how users or customers are interacting with my website and things that I can take away from that data. Sounds like it's worth investing 15, 30 minutes getting up to a little bit of speed with Google Search Console and seeing that kind of data come out of it.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Absolutely. Search Console is a fairly straightforward tool to use. Some of Google's other tools like really Google Analytics are super complex and there are so many knobs and buttons and everything that it can be easy to get lost if you're not familiar with that platform. Search Console is a bit more pared back. You can go pretty in depth with it if you're comfortable with it and have a good sense of what's available to you, but if you're just starting out, you're still going to easily be able to grab that performance data related to queries, as well as major warnings or errors that Google's encountering in relation to your site.

 

Alex :

Nice. And a tip for folks who do find themselves in a bit of a newcomer situation, if you're getting any pushback from the business on really trying to dial in to who that prospective audience is, and really what they care about, it's I see this a lot with businesses, especially with newer folks in businesses, you can kind of play this beginner's mindset or like this curious sort of question asking role where you're really just trying to point out that there might be gaps that the business has.

 

Alex:

What that can look like is what really motivates our target demographic, or what are the things that they're measured on, the metrics that they care about that they might be searching for online? What are the answers that they're looking for to make them look good to their boss? So you can kind of try and drive a level deeper. It's pretty common that people, especially a lot of businesses feel like they understand their target demographics and who they're trying to reach online, but in my experience there's always a level deeper you can go. And being new to a company gives you an opportunity to ask those questions in a very just easy way.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Definitely.

 

Alex:

Excellent. Anything else that this newcomer to a business that has some presence online, but is looking to take things to the next level should keep in mind, Blake?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah. I think that in situations like this, it's tempting to want to just like run with creating content. You're looking through the data, you're getting ideas, and it's really tempting to just think like, "Yeah, I'm going to jump in and start writing this and start publishing it." And I think that you do yourself a little bit of a disservice if you just take that like rush in, coming and swinging approach.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Instead, I think as you're getting that data and ideating through the type of content that you think would be good for your audience, spend a little bit of time focusing on organizing and sorting this content based upon how it fits together. So, are these topics that are parallel with each other or that reinforce each other, is this something that we could build a topic cluster around? Which I'll say a little bit more about in just a moment. And being intentional about prioritizing content so that you're really creating a clear authoritative analysis of the topic that you're writing about.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

One of Google's primary, I guess I shouldn't say primary, but one of Google's factors that it takes into consideration when raking content is the acronym EAT, E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. And this isn't a single metric you can measure quantitatively, it's kind of an aggregation of the way that you organize and present your content and our intentional about making sure that what you're presenting is accurate, helpful, and empowering.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And when it meets those metrics and when it is reflecting expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, that's really going to help Google understand what your site's about and help it know that you're a reliable source that it can return in search results. And since I mentioned topic clusters, to clarify a little bit about what I am discussing with that, topic clusters there are an approach to organizing your content in a way that's really helpful for users and by extension, helpful for crawlers, for understanding how your content all fits together.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And it's comprised of a core piece of content, usually called a pillar page, that's kind of like the topic 101. It covers pretty much everything within that topic, not always to a very deep level, but it gives you a high level overview of the topic at hand. And then around this pillar page, you're going to have your supporting content. And these are usually smaller form pieces of content that elaborate upon some aspect of that pillar page. And then these pieces of content will link back to each other. So, the pillar page will link to the supporting content, supporting content links back to the pillar page, and it essentially creates this neat little hub and spoke model of content that establishes, "Hey, here's a topic that I know a lot about. Here's all the supporting data we have around this topic. Hi Google, I'm an authority. Hi user, this is how I can answer your questions. And these are all the ways you can go deeper within this topic."

 

Alex:

Nice. Yeah. And I think what I'm hearing underneath a lot of what you said there is that you do want to design for the human and you do want to design for that prospect, that customer, the person that you're trying to reach. And if you do so with expertise, authority and trustfulness in mind, that will also set you up well with search engines.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah, definitely. I always like to say to clients that if you've ever read an article and within the first paragraph you're like, "Oh, this is a sales pitch. This isn't actually answering my question, this is a sales pitch." Users and Google alike can tell that. So, if you're creating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness and establishing content that is helpful and impactful, it's going to get over that hurdle with users of, "Is this someone reliable who I can come to for information and build a relationship with? Or is it someone who's just going to shove a product at me and walk away?"

 

2. Alex:

Makes a lot of sense. Let's jump into a second scenario. I'm thinking in this situation you're at a company and there's a brand new website. It's a website with very little traffic. Maybe you're a startup, maybe it's a company that's made a huge shift and you've completely rebranded and you're a whole new company now, but the situation is smaller company, new website, very little traffic to date. What should we be thinking about from an SEO perspective in this scenario, Blake?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah. With a new site where you're kind of building content from the ground up, I think that one of the most important things that you can do throughout this process is being really intentional about your internal linking strategy and your site architecture. When Google's crawlers are coming to a site, essentially what happens is a robot arrives at a URL, it reads the content of that page. If it sees links in that page, whether it's in a menu or in content on the page, it visits those links. And you kind of have what looks like a waterfall chart, where you can see how the pages all fit together and relate to each other.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And that relationship between content is super, super important. When it is clearly laid out and it's clear how content fits together, builds off of each other and relates to each other, that makes it easier for users and Google to understand what the purpose is, and also to navigate it and find new content, which is really helpful for increasing your site's stickiness. Getting your bounce rate a little bit lower, getting people to stay on the page longer, and that makes them a little bit more likely to then convert or at least develop a positive image of your brand so that when they encounter an ad or come back later, that initial handshake is already established. So, being intentional about that, internal linking strategy is important.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Your menus are going to be one of the first ways that you'll want to approach that because a navigation menu just says, "Hey, here are the highlights, here are the important elements of my site," and you want to make it as easy as possible for your customer to navigate to the most important pieces of content. Your most important or your targeted conversion pages should be like one click away from your homepage, super easy to get to.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Within the other content that you're planning out for those topic clusters and getting ready to develop as supporting marketing content, as you're looking at doing internal links, it can be really tempting to just tack on something at the top or bottom of a post that says like, "Topic. Insert link to topic cluster main page," and say, "Okay, they're linked. Good to go." I would recommend avoiding that.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Google uses a process or an algorithm rather known as B-E-R-T or Bert, which I wrote down the algorithm or name for that acronym because it's

Bi-directional and coder representations from transformers is what the Bert acronym stands for, which is an impossibly complicated way of saying that Google's algorithm looks for natural language, especially when it's looking at links and understanding how content fits together. So, if you do take a simple approach of just saying like, "Topic, pillar page with link to pillar page," that kind of tells Google what the page is and how it relates to each other, but a better way to approach that in a way that's more engaging for your users is to think, if you're reading through this piece of content, what within that content is clear and explains the relationship of this other piece of content that I'm linking to?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

So, keeping those links on anchor text, that's descriptive and easy to understand makes it easier for that Bert algorithm to then get a sense of how the content fits together. So yeah, if you're in this position where you have a new site and you're building content from the ground up, I think that getting your internal linking in a really strong place is going to make it easier for you to then scale your content in the future.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And on top of that, as a side note, one thing I would also add is if you're still building the actual framework of the site, give yourself some space to implement SEO at a technical level in that framework. Keep your site as fast as you can. If you want to do something like structured data, make sure you configure an easy method for implementing structured data that's scalable and fits your content creation processes. And as much as possible, try and bake that into the framework of your site, rather than building a site, putting out content, and then retroactively going in and saying, "Okay, let's SEO this. Let me shove some of this SEO in there," because that just complicates processes.

 

Alex:

That makes a lot of sense. To clarify with the linking too, what you're really referring to here is as you're creating the pages on your website and as you think about how am I going to link one page to another page, for example, you really want to do that in the paragraphs that you have on a page. You don't want to just break out and just kind of state topic one and then link over to the page that has that topic, it'd be better if that's actually in a paragraph or part of a case that you're making and saying, "And this is how topic one really helps with this kind of problem or whatever it is." Is that right?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah, exactly. Again, your navigation is still important. You don't want to neglect that and only have in page links, but in terms of your supporting marketing content that's perhaps not directly linked through your navigation or which is like a child page of a page that's linked in your navigation, yeah, that's where you want to have that natural language within your links. It's just more descriptive and easier to understand.

 

Alex:

Perfect. Trying to put myself in the shoes of this person. Now a lot of people talk about blogging. I'm on a new website, building a new website. How important is that blog?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Remember how I said that you can answer pretty much every SEO question with it depends? In this case, the answer is, it depends. It really is going to come back to that core principle of what's going to make the most sense and create the most value for your target audience? Often when businesses are setting up a blog, it's really critical from the onset that as you're getting that set up or thinking about getting it set up, does this have a clear purpose that's going to really deliver value to my target audience? If there's a topic within your industry that's often misunderstood, if there's a particular area that your business excels in and wants to kind of further defined as your brand or your niche, then absolutely you should be blogging and you should be blogging as much as it makes sense for your audience.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

If you can create a couple of really impactful topic clusters with 20 to 30 blog posts, fantastic. Do that and don't keep cranking out new content week after week after week if it doesn't have a clear purpose. But yeah, it's going to vary a little bit. The amount that you should do is going to vary, but it's all going to come back to what is actually going to help your target audience.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

So as a general rule of thumb, yeah, you probably should be blogging and you should be blogging enough to make it clear what your focus is, but the actual amount is it's going to vary from business to business.

Alex:

And I think what you're saying too, Blake, which is really worth highlighting is that it's really not worth creating something, especially content, that isn't actually good and helpful for the audience you're trying to reach. And so if the option is create some not very helpful blogs because that's the most time... You don't have a lot of time, maybe you're one person in charge of getting this website launched and doing all of this stuff, if you don't have, it would be negative, it would be a bad thing to do to create a blog and just have really bad stuff in there and really short posts that aren't actually helpful, it'd be better to kind of wait until you can actually create at least a couple of good pieces of content and really have good pages on the site that you can point to.

 

Alex:

So, it's almost like don't do it if you can't do it well, and so don't even worry about it. If you absolutely can't invest the time into creating valuable content right now, just get the site live and kind of move one step at a time. Is that right?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that for a while there was kind of this SEO myth that if you wanted to do SEO well, you had to be creating new content at a regular cadence and regular interval. And while that may still be somewhat valuable for like a personal blog or like a lifestyle blogger who has an audience that expects new content regularly, for most businesses it's not scalable and it's not really going to benefit you to just keep cranking out content week after week if it doesn't have that intentionality and the care, like you mentioned, going into it to make sure that it's fitting in to some stage of your customer journey and further developing your authority within a given area.

 

3. Alex:

Thanks for that clarity. I think we should jump into another example kind of related to this one in a way where it's you've got a new website, but in this situation you're actually redesigning a website. You're on a company, you've already got a presence online, you already have a website that has been functional, it's got a lot of content. Some of that content is doing well, some of that content maybe not so much, but you're now doing a new website doing a redesign, maybe you're moving your website potentially to a different platform. What should be taken into consideration from an SEO perspective in this kind of scenario?

 

 

Blake Reichenbach:

A lot. There's quite a bit that can go into a website redesign, and from an SEO perspective, there's quite a bit that I would put on like the absolute necessary must do list. So, I think one of the most practical pieces of advice that I could give here is, with the website redesign chances are this is going to involve a few people, maybe even multiple teams inside your business. So, one of the best things you can do to get yourself in a strong starting point is make sure that you have a designated project manager for this redesign who can keep tabs on things and make sure that everyone is able to communicate and has the information that they need across teams.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

I have seen so many instances of someone saying, "I think my website's broken because if I shared this blog post to Facebook, I used to see my featured image and my meta-description, now I'm seeing the same image and the same description for every single link." And it's a situation where someone had perhaps built in dummy text into the template that a file or that a page was using, and that was showing on Facebook and that just wasn't communicated across teams. So, having a project manager to streamline communication, super, super helpful.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

With that in mind, I think that anytime you're doing a website redesign, there are a few SEO technical considerations that should be at the forefront of your list. First of all, are you going to be changing any URLs? If your site URLs are going to be staying exactly the same, so the address of each page, then that takes a little bit of work out of the equation because the URLs that exist for your content, it's basically like an address for Google to understand where it lives, what neighborhood it's in, what state it's in. Speaking metaphorically, it's not actually isolating you to like one specific region, but those URLs tell Google where your content lives.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

So, if they are changing, you need to let Google know that those URLs have changed. Otherwise, it's going to try and go to the old address, see that nothing is there, and assume that that content is gone or has since been retired. So if you are changing your URLs, make sure that you're creating 301 redirects from the old URL to the new URL. A 301 is considered a permanent redirect. So, when Google hits an old URL and is sent via a 301 redirect to a new URL, it understands, "Okay, this is the new home for this page. This is where it now lives. This is the URL that should have authority." And then when Google does its indexing, it knows this is the authoritative page, this is what I should show in search results, rather than this old URL that's not live anymore. So, creating those 301s, super important.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And if you're doing this on a large scale, so like every page is being changed, or let's say that you've either had a merger or bought out another company and your root domain is changing, then in situations like that, you're going to want to use Google Search Console's change of address tool, which is essentially a way of flagging, "Hey, everything that once lived here is now going to live here." And so that can help make that process a little bit easier and a bit quicker for Google to understand the new relationship of all of your content.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And then one thing that I would absolutely add to your project management list while doing a redesign is before you start publishing content in your new designs and within your new framework, do some QA testing with it, and also check what's known as the Core Web Vitals. So moving into 2021, I believe Google has set the date as, I want to say, March 21st, but spring of 2021, Google is going to be putting more emphasis on what it calls the Core Web Vitals, which are essentially measures of how well your site performs, especially on mobile devices.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And so it's going to be looking at things like your page load speed, how much your content shifts while the page is loading, and the time that it takes for your content to become interactive. So, do that QA while you're still building everything and make sure that your site's fast and secure and easy to use on mobile before you start actually publishing your content within that framework, because if you get everything published and then realize you have to do another rebuild again, it's just going to complicate things and have a wider margin of error.

 

Alex:

It makes a lot of sense. What should you be prioritizing in this case in terms of this balance between like performance and visuals as well? I know you mentioned making sure that these Core Web Vitals are taken care of. If I've got a really nice page, maybe it's got a lot of beautiful interactive elements on it, but it takes a while to load, like is that all right? What kind of thresholds should I think about? Could you give us some guidance on that?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah. Once again, it does in fact depend. It's if you have content that is resource heavy, so something that does take longer to load, relies on JavaScript, has jQuery dependencies, but still provides a lot of value to your customers, that can be okay. If something is still really impactful, has a high conversion rate, gets traffic, like that's okay to leave it a bit slower, but still high converting.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

I would say don't make that the norm though. Traditionally, we as marketers have been accustomed to creating content in editors that are built for desktop. For example, if you're a HubSpot customer and you're building out a landing page, the default view while you're editing is similar to what you would see if you were viewing the page on desktop. And that's become second nature for most of us. And we think about website pages in terms of how is this going to behave? How is this going to look on desktop?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

More and more, I would encourage taking a minimalist approach and you can still have a really beautiful clean site, but if something isn't necessary, it might not be worth loading it. As we go into 2021, Google is shifting to a framework of mobile first indexing. So, basically anytime Google visits your website, it can view those pages as it would on a computer or as it would on a mobile phone. And the scales have officially tipped in favor of mobile being the predominant tool that people are using to browse the web.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

What this means with mobile first indexing in a simplified way is that when Google is first visiting your URLs and discovering your site, it's going to be doing so as if it were a mobile device, rather than as if it were a desktop. And so if you do have content that's really resource heavy, but looks great on desktop, you have to ask yourself, "Is this experience just as valuable for mobile device users? And what is the page interaction time and speed going to be like on a mobile device?"

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And for some clarification there, Google has a tool called Google Lighthouse, which is essentially an auditing tool that you can use to gauge page performance. And when Lighthouse audits your page to assess performance, it's not doing like super up-to-date iPhone on a really strong WiFi connection, it actually throttles the speed to mimic a 4G connection. And so it's going to be a situation where you need to ask yourself, "If someone is not on a hyper fast connection, are they still going to find value in my page?" So all of that was a really long version of it depends to say, it's okay to have these really engaging and graphically intense pages, but pair that down, make it a habit of thinking in terms of mobile first indexing and slower connection users and that ease of user experience, as opposed to, how does this look from this view?

 

Alex:

That's really valuable, Blake. And what I'm understanding there is if you have an awesome tool that's maybe like a calculator of some kind for your prospects that really helps them on page figure out some part of their business or something, and it generates a lot of leads for you, you don't have to get rid of that, but you do want to be really conscious about when you are adding things to pages or creating pages or migrating pages, does this provide a great experience on mobile in addition to desktop browsing? And if something isn't necessary and it's not adding value to that prospect's experience on both mobile and desktop, it's a candidate for removing it off the page, it's less stuff that's loading, and it means that it's going to make your site look better in the eyes of Google and other search engines. So, cool stuff.

4. Alex :

Okay. Another question on this one. There's a lot of SEO consultants out there. For somebody who's doing a migration of new website, should they work with an SEO consultant? Do they have to? What might make them really want to consider getting like somebody's expertise with SEO's eyes to look at something? Talk to us a little bit about that.

 

Blake Reichenbach :

Yeah, absolutely. As someone who does SEO consulting on the side, I'm a little bit biased. I love working on projects with people, but that being said, I think that there's a kind of a fine line that you need to balance as a business for deciding whether or not it's right for you to bring in external consultants to work on one of these projects.

Blake Reichenbach:

If you already have a marketer or a marketing team that has an established framework, has a good sense of the content that you have, and is in a position where they are able to assess and prioritize the variety of tasks going into this migration or the redesign, whichever, then you might be in a place where it's not totally necessary to bring in a consultant.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

That said, if you're in a place where you're feeling a bit stuck with your SEO, or you're not sure how to kind of pull all the strings together and make everything come together as you are doing this project, that can be a good sign that perhaps bringing in an external consultant either to manage the project or just to review the project notes and make some recommendations, that could be a pretty good indicator.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And when you are working with an SEO consultant, or if you're considering working with an SEO consultant, I would say it's good to kind of do almost the interview process and treat it as you would if you were hiring someone. Make sure that they have some familiarity with your industry. And I think it's also really helpful to make sure they have a bit of familiarity with the platform that you use.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And that way they can often bring in a bit of an outside perspective and say, "Hey, as kind of an industry standard here, it's something I see pretty often with other businesses," and that way they can also just kind of step in and contribute without having to teach themselves a new web hosting platform. So again, if your budget allows for it, if you have a lower timeframe, a shorter timeframe you're trying to work inside of, and if you are having a hard time kind of figuring out from an SEO perspective what to prioritize, then a consultant's probably a good route, otherwise keeping it in-house and making sure that that project manager has the autonomy to kind of dictate those priorities and navigate across teams. Then that's also super valid

Alex:

Makes a lot of sense. Excellent. I have a couple kind of related follow-up questions on some topics that we didn't get to talk about, but I think are really important when it comes to SEO. And then from there we can just get your final thoughts on like other things that people should keep in mind. And yeah, so-

 

5. Alex:

My question right now is inbound links, getting links from other websites to your website. This gets talked about a lot in SEO. How important is it? Who is it most important for? And do you have any tips on how you actually do this?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah. Inbound links are, we could have a full hour long conversation just about inbound links, they have a really interesting history with search engines and the weight that they carry within search engines. There was kind of a period for a while that was like the dark ages of the internet, where content farms were super prominent and they would just churn out junk content that were filled with links as a way of boosting whoever was paying them to put those links in there. And so your search results were flooded with just garbage that was nothing but links to other sites.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

And more and more Google has moved away from valuing just the link, and rather looking at where's the link coming from? How authoritative, how much expertise, how trustworthy is this source that's providing the link? And again, what is that natural language being used to link? And so more and more Google has specified what types of links are valuable and what types of links aren't.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

For example, there is a really spammy tactic that people still use for some reason where you go to someone's blog and you leave a comment and put a link to your website in that comment, that does nothing. That's going to automatically be a no-follow link, so Google's just kind of going to ignore it. If it doesn't have that no-follow attribute, Google can see it in a comment in a public forum, so it's not really there for a valuable purpose, as well as like sponsored and paid links. Google specifies that those need to be specifically clarified as no-follow links or have an attribute that indicates it's part of an ad or sponsorship. And they're not really going to be doing things from an SEO perspective, but those can still be valuable from like just a cross-marketing paid advertising perspective.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Instead, where you're going to get value with links is when you have websites that are relevant to your target audience, linking to valuable content on your website in a natural way. So, in terms of how you actually do that and get those links, that opens up a can of worms for things that you can do essentially. The kind of throw away or default answer is to say, make really good content that people want to link to. Sometimes creating specifically link bait content can be helpful. For example, if you have any proprietary research and can cite statistics or like a case study where you can cite statistics, those types of articles are super common for getting links.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

If you've ever been writing a piece of content and thought, "Oh, I should back this up with a statistic," so you go to Google and you type in, "Statistics about topic," that content works really well for link building, because content creators do that all the time, they look for those statistics. But aside from that, I think with link building, one of the best things you can do is actually leverage your human in real life networking. And as you build actual relationships with people, then you're going to have an opportunity to cross-collaborate, cross-promote, cross-publish, and get some links out there in a very natural way.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

There are some people and there're SEOs that focus exclusively on link building. There are also services that will spam email a thousand websites in your industry and say, "Hey, I have this great piece of content that I think you should put on your website that I haven't read, but I grabbed a random URL and I'm inserting it here." I personally don't advise that method. Working with an SEO that does specialize in link building can help generate some ideas that are specific to your business, but ultimately having great content is key. And then having relationships with other entities that are relevant to your audience is really helpful for opening the door to getting some of those links organically.

 

Alex:

Okay. There's so much we could talk about there, but it sounds like great content is a big key. Leveraging relationships that you guys, that you might have in the industry. If you have any experts in your company that people would want to learn from or talk to, that might be a good end. And if you can offer any like research or proprietary information that can be made public, that people would want to link back to, that also could be great.

We talked a lot about a huge range of things that people can do, and when it makes sense in certain situations to consider one choice over the other. We've talked about really making sure you clarify your target audience and who you're trying to go after and what they care about and how you can help as being critical. We've talked about the importance of Google Search Console and how to use that, and really get a pulse on accurate data, as opposed to just searching in Google and getting a feel for where you're showing up from your location, for example. We've talked about internal linking and how that's really important with available traffic websites or new websites, with that crazy Bert acronym that you mentioned Blake, the bi-directional encoder representations from transformers, which really just means that-It's linked in paragraph and valuable text as opposed to just having it randomly on the page. What else did we talked about here? Don't forget about 301 redirects, if you're doing a website redesign. Google Search Console has a change of address tool. Have a designated project manager for SEO if you're doing a website redesign, it can be super important. You don't necessarily need to use an SEO consultant or an agency to help you with SEO, when you're doing a website redesign or migration, but if you have an accelerated timeline, if you want a second pair of eyes, if you have the budget, can certainly be worth considering.

Okay. Beyond that though, Blake, any kind of final thoughts that you want to leave for people, and that what they should think about from an SEO perspective, regardless of what situation they're in?

 

6. Blake Reichenbach :

Yeah. I think always keep in mind that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It's not like other marketing avenues like paid advertising where you know within this time constraint, you have this budget, this many results you need to get. With SEO, you're looking in the long-term. I have a piece of content on my own website that after I published it, I think it maybe got 10 views its first month. And then I noticed it kind of like 20 the second month. And it just made this really small, incremental growth. And then from, I want to say it was like August of 2019 to September of 2019, it jumped from like 250 views in a month to a 1000 views. And now that piece of content gets on average about 13,000 views and has become my primary lead gen and revenue generation in my own site. So, it's a long-term game with SEO.

 

Blake Reichenbach:

In addition to that, I would say don't be afraid to experiment. Like I've said so many times today, with SEO everything depends. There is not always going to be a clear cut answer. And so, as you are thinking about implementing an SEO strategy, it's okay to formulate a hypothesis, test that out, and then analyze your results and recalibrate from there. If you try something and it doesn't work or doesn't seem to be working, it's not a failed endeavor, it's just an opportunity for you to look at the data, peel back the layers, and get a clearer sense of what's going to be valuable for your audience.

 

Alex:

Super helpful, Blake. Thanks for watching everybody, and let us know what you think the common thread here. You can find me personally in the HubSpot Community or at alex@theinsightstudio.com. Blake, if folks are looking to learn a little bit more about you, we'll obviously post some links as well, but where would they find you online?

 

Blake Reichenbach:

Yeah. Easiest way to find me and get in touch is through my website at blakereichenbach.com, which will include a link since long Swiss-German surnames can make that difficult. I'm also pretty active on Twitter. My Twitter handle is mbreichenbach.

 

Alex:

Awesome. Thanks for your time today, Blake. This was really interesting and hopefully valuable to folks who are finding themselves in situations where they're struggling to figure out what to do from an SEO perspective.

 

Blake Reichenbach :

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on.

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