The world of SEO is constantly evolving with Google updates and new formats and platforms to consider on an almost monthly basis. Yet might it be that as publishers we get so fixated on trying to keep on the right side of the SEO gamekeepers that we lose sight of the bigger picture?
One person with strident views on SEO is Kaspar Szymanski CEO of SearchBrothers, who works with publishers to resolve Google penalties and help them to max out the potential of their websites in search engines. Here he explains how worrying too much about concepts like longform content and snippets for audio can blindside publishers to the key to successful SEO, namely unique content that chimes with its target audience.
Kaspar Szymanski will present his SEO vision at DIS 2020.
What is your career to date - what was your journey to SearchBrothers?
Prior to joining Google Search in 2006 I was working for major corporations like Siemens and KPMG applying my skills to initiatives that had nothing to do with web technologies. Once I joined Google, however, search became my calling and it has been ever since. I left Google after seven years in order to build, in collaboration with a Google engineer,Fili our own new brand. This is howSearchBrothers came into existence and it has been a tremendously rewarding and exciting journey so far with no end in sight.
Explain to those who don't know what SearchBrothers is? What does your day to day role in the company look like?
SearchBrothers is a highly specialised, data-driven SEO agency. We provide unique consulting services to clients. At any given point we only commit to work with a handful of clients, thereby making sure that each project and client receives our full attention. The two founders, myself and Fili, share the responsibilities in this regard and are very hands-on. We don't outsource SEO work to employees or third parties. Next to tending to our business associates’ SEO issues, both myself and Fili are prolific writers as well as frequent speakers at international industry events, such as SMX’s or BrightonSEO.
What would you say are the key SEO issues that are currently impacting online magazine media?
From a purely technical point of view it is frequently crawl management issues that plague large websites. I think size brings as many opportunities as it does challenges for operators of websites. There isn’t much danger of mismanaging crawl budget with a small website, yet it can be tricky if there are millions of indexed pages. Such challenges can be easily addressed if relevant data is available, specifically server logs. In my experience, however, nine out of ten websites do not properly record and preserve their server logs files. Having said that, there aren’t really typical issues that certain verticals struggle with. Each website is unique and individual and needs to be treated as such. That is why every thorough SEO audit requires crawling and a data-driven analysis before actionable results can be delivered.
From an SEO perspective what new formats do you think publishers should be experimenting with?
Any format is is fine, as long as it is appealing to the target audience. From an SEO perspective, formats are of no consequence as long as they are understood be search engines and users alike. There is however a more important, frequently neglected factor: unique selling proposition. Regardless of topic, format, product or service if content is meant to do well in search, it needs to cater to a target audience and to do so in a more compelling way than its competitors does. It can be price, level of service, the community around the topic or something else that makes the offer stand out. That unique selling proposition needs to be distinct, clear and visible.
How can publishers prepare for voice activated searches? Is it all about producing content that works as snippets?
At this point there’s no need to do anything different with regard to voice search. The crucial point still remains for search engines to understand the content and context of a website. Which already is uber important in order to do well in search as it is.
Do you think that Google has evolved in its work with publishers generally?
Google keeps evolving with their users in mind and nothing else. That’s why a complete focus on users and an interested audience will remain a winning SEO strategy for a foreseeable time.
Do you think that the SEO benefits of longform content have been overstated? Do publishers really need to be generating 2000 words plus articles?
Articles with 2000 words plus, or any other arbitrary target number, are an SEO myth that have harmed more sites than helped them to do well in Google Search. Volumes alone are meaningless, costly and almost always the reason for content quality issues. So “longform” is an SEO relic at best, better to be forgotten. Which does not change is the fact that evergreen, in-depth content that has purpose and a unique selling proposition has been and continues to be by far the best strategy to grow organic search visibility over time.