02:13 – Is Google still where it’s at?
06:15 – Where Stephan gets his cred
07:40 – Why share the knowhow?
10:28 – The backlinks misconception
11:49 – The future of SEO
14:36 – Leveraging machine learning
16:09 – Tools of the trade
18:32 – Snippets and how to get them
22:29 – What makes up a good SEO audit
24:09 – The best SEO client
27:36 – Avoiding duplicates
29:04 – An easy win
31:33 – Should you link to outside resources?
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today we are talking about SEO, that is search engine optimization. And for that I’ve brought in perhaps the best expert in the entire world for SEO. Welcome Stephan Spencer.
Stephan: Hey, thanks for having me.
James: And that’s according to Tony Robbins. That’s a pretty good accolade.
Stephan: Yes. I even have an audio recording of him saying it, which is pretty awesome.
James: Well, you’ve earned your stripes. I remember buying your book about SEO. I have built and sold an SEO business. It’s something I was really passionate about, especially when I started online, because I realized that Google was a praise system. If you did good work, it would praise you with a top ranking. And I realized that I was able to make it give me that reward by doing certain things that it wanted. Now of course, this is 13 years ago, a decade ago, and I did that for quite some time, and a few years ago sold out of that business.
And in the meantime, while everyone’s talking up chatbots and remarketing and all this cool, trendy stuff, isn’t it interesting to see how Google is still a very important piece of the puzzle? It certainly is for my own website. At SuperFastBusiness here, we publish the transcriptions of our episodes, we have a massive amount of original content being published, we focus on having a fast-loading, mobile-friendly, easy-to-navigate website. And people do invariably link to us from time to time.
But what we’re going to be talking about today is, how can someone listening to this podcast get a number one ranking in Google today? Like, what is the current best practice for ranking a website in Google’s search engine? And just to start off with, Stephan, is Google still where the action is at?
Is Google still where it’s at?
Stephan: I think it is. Now, people who are into Facebook advertising may argue with that, that there’s a captive audience on Facebook. And that’s true. But it’s kind of a walled garden, kind of like the olden days of AOL where you don’t own the racecourse, to use one of your analogies, and and you have to play by their rules. Not that Google doesn’t make you play by their rules too, but it’s more of a case where Google is the shortest distance between the points A and B, A being wherever somebody is on the internet at the moment that they think they need to solve a problem, and your website.
So if you’re not on page one, ideally in position one, you’re dead to them. You’re invisible. It’s like you’re not there if you’re on page two, which is still seemingly pretty impressive, being positioned, let’s say, number 11 or 12 out of hundreds of millions potentially of pages. Ninety-five plus percent of the time, Google searchers will not go on to page two, and they will not see you. Even the bottom half of page one is a problem, because people don’t scroll as much. And they are really looking for Google’s endorsement of, this is the top answer, the most important or trustworthy search result.
“It’s definitely a shifting sand sort of landscape with SEO.”
And now Google is answering questions primarily with these featured snippets, because voice search is really the future. So now we need to be concerned about being in what SEOs refer to as position zero in the search results. So that preempts even being number one. So it’s definitely a shifting sand sort of landscape with SEO. But it’s one where it’s doable, if you just understand some pretty simple principles. So that’s what I hope to convey in this episode, is how people who are not necessarily an SEO expert or super technical even can make huge inroads into the top spots in Google.
James: Right. And I notice they’ve changed the way they display paid ads in Google now. It seems sometimes for some of the commercial intent words, it’s quite a few ads at the top there.
“More than half the time Google search will be conducted on mobile.”
Stephan: Yes. And if you’re on a mobile device, which, most of the time searchers are on mobile devices, more than half the time Google search will be conducted on mobile, and that occupies the entire screen. So you’re having to scroll as a user just to get to the organic results, which is, you know, just the way that you know, the world is these days.
But like I said, it’s all doable. You don’t need to pay Google for Google ads. But if you do, then that gives you an additional opportunity to take up shelf space in the Google results. And Google’s made it so kind of not that obvious that the paid results are paid results, because they want you to click on the paid results as much, or even more than the organic results. But still, that doesn’t happen. The majority of the time people are clicking on the organic results, not on the paid results, and there is no implied endorsement effect. When people click on those paid ads, they know they’re ads and they know that you aren’t necessarily the best out there. It’s just that you had a budget to spend, whereas the first organic result really does get that implied endorsement from Google from as far as the user’s perspective.
James: Right. So there’s already some really big lessons so far, and we’re just a few minutes into this. So so far, what I’ve got is, Google is still the dominant search engine; mobile is what you really want to optimize for; that you really need to be in that top spot. And that even if there are ads, it’s still worth being in the top spot because people know the difference between an ad and an organic result.
James: And Google is the place where people have the searching intent. They’re there because they’re typing something into Google, as opposed to if you’re just hanging around on Facebook, which is a different type of campaign. So if I’ve got that correct, let’s move on to why Stephan.
Where Stephan gets his cred
Firstly, I’ll start. I bought your book about SEO. You literally wrote the book on SEO, and it’s a thick book. I was describing to someone the other day, that it’s a little like the old yellow pages. You’ve definitely put a lot of work into that one.
Secondly, I introduced you to a good client of mine who had a real SEO challenge. He had a large site and a lot to gain from improving his SEO, and you have dealt with this person for years. And that speaks volumes, because I know these people are quite fussy at that level, and you have to be good to sustain that sort of result that you got for him. So I know you’re a bona fide SEO, that you do get the results. You’ve had all sorts of endorsements. What can you add to that, Stephan, that might give someone perspective as to how you know this stuff?
Stephan: OK. Well, so I started in the SEO game two decades ago. More than that, actually. I started in the 90s when people didn’t even know what SEO was, and I had a successful exit selling an SEO company in 2010. We were in three different countries. The Art of SEO, which is the book I’m most known for, I’ve got three O’Reilly books, but The Art of SEO is the biggest seller, and it’s 994 pages. So it really is the Bible on SEO. And, you know, I’ve worked with clients like Chanel, Sony, Volvo, Zappos, CNBC, Bloomberg, Quiksilver. Yeah, some really great brands. And I know a few things.
Why share the knowhow?
Now, I don’t want to keep all that the secret information and be in an ivory tower. I want people to feel like they know enough that they can make some inroads themselves without having to hire an expert. And also, if they do decide to hire an expert, it doesn’t have to be me. It could be anybody, that they have some tools and some knowledge to hire somebody without feeling like they are just taking this huge leap of faith.
In fact, I created this thing called an SEO hiring blueprint and an SEO BS detector, which are available on my website for free. And the hiring blueprint has a seven-step process to make sure you hire a really good SEO and not a charlatan. And one of those steps in that seven step process is to sneak into the interview process certain trick questions. And those trick questions are not going to sound like trick questions. They sound very innocent. And if you’re not an SEO expert, grilling them, you’re just trying to find out how they do their services and what they charge and all that, it’s going to seem very innocent, but you’re going to know whether you’re getting snookered or not.
So for example, one trick question might be, “Tell me what your process is for optimizing meta keywords. How’s that work?” Now, that’s a trick question, because the only right answer to that question is, “Meta Keywords? What, are you serious? Those never counted in Google.” And they did, never, ever count in Google. This is very important to know. And now you know that. So when you ask an SEO about meta keywords, if their answer has something along the lines, it sounds something like, well, “Meta Keywords aren’t that important anymore. Google doesn’t consider them that important,” or, you know, anything along those lines other than Meta Keywords never counted in Google, whatever they’re saying is just not true. OK? So, they never counted in Google. Google never, ever trusted meta keywords. So that’s a great little trick question. So there’s a half dozen of these trick questions that you can pull from in that BS detector, and they’ll never know that you just checked whether they’re charlatans or not. So, I think that’s a good starting point.
But yeah, if you work with an expert, you want to make sure that that expert has been vetted and proven, that they’ve got case studies on their website. So you mentioned your client that you sent to me, and I’ve been working with him for years now. And he was gracious enough to give me the ability to publish a case study about the results we’ve gotten for him, 500 and some percent increase in organic traffic over a period of a year, year and a half, which is pretty good. And you know, with the screenshots of the various graphs, Google Analytics and SEMrush and all that to to quantify and prove it. So that’s another thing too, always make sure that you can get substantiated claims from those SEOs and not just claims.
The backlinks misconception
James: It seems there’s a lot of dodgy practitioners out there selling SEO services. And even more than that, I get the impression that most people think (and it’s possibly the way that it’s sold) is that SEO equals backlinks. What would be your comment around that?
Stephan: That’s pretty old school. It is still a foundation of the Google rankings algorithm, but it’s not the one thing that you need to do. If you’re relying just on backlinks, then you aren’t recognizing that the future of Google and of SEO is AI, it’s artificial intelligence. What’s the best way, or the really the only way, to outsmart and AI? What do you think, James?
James: It’s to involve some element that only a human could know?
Stephan: Well, I would challenge that the only way to outsmart an AI is with another AI.
James: It’s interesting, we had a discussion on this topic very recently, actually, with Mike Rhodes in a previous episode. And he’s running an AdWords agency, or Google Ads, as they’ve rebranded apparently.
James: And he was talking about which functions they can beat the human, and which functions that they do poorly at. So there are certain things they can’t do well, but certainly, the theme of the podcast was that most definitely AI is the future. That’s where it’s happening.
James: Especially Google have a very strong platform for that.
The future of SEO
Stephan: So really, AI is the future. And if you think in terms of like, how are things changing technologically, they’re advancing at a faster and faster clip. This is called the Law of Accelerating Returns, which this is a term that Ray Kurzweil, the futurist, came up with. So the idea is that, if you go a year into the future, it’s going to be advancing at a certain rate. But a year from then into the future, another year, will be advancing at an even faster clip. So the last 100 years would fit into the next 20 years at today’s rate of advancement. But because it’s continuing to advance, it would actually fit in the next 12.
So think back to 100 years ago, and how different the world is now versus 100 years ago. And that same amount of advancing will happen in the next 12 years. So that’s pretty mind-blowing. People think linearly, but we need to think exponentially. And so AI and nanotechnology and all the cool technologies that are advancing, like VR, AR, etc., they’re happening faster and faster. And we need to be more nimble than we’ve ever been in order to keep up.
So that’s kind of the game that we have to play. But right now, SEO is not just about having machine learning on your side to try and outsmart Google. It’s about having a search-engine-friendly website. It’s about identifying keywords that are relevant and popular and that are attainable for you in the Google search results. And it’s about achieving buzz and and link equity by having people mention you and link to you. So those things still work, they’re still important to the Google algorithm. But on top of that, you’ve got to be willing to explore machine learning and be nimble about the future.
I’m personally excited about the future. I think it’s an amazing time to be alive. The kinds of advances that we’re about to experience in our lifetimes are going to be mind-blowing.
James: Yeah, it’s interesting, like what you’re talking about, and I think probably the audience for this sort of podcast has got a good feel for that. I do worry about your Congress in the United States who can’t figure out why when someone types “idiot” into Google, the image of Trump comes up and they were asking Google how that happens. And they were basically curious to know if it’s just someone sitting behind a curtain deciding what results to show. I mean, they seem to be 100 years in the past.
Stephan: Yeah. Pretty much.
James: So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the users. This is in Congress. So there’s a big gap between the general public and and what you’re talking about in terms of how this works.
Leveraging machine learning
But a big question for you – in that case, let’s say we have a great website, it’s user-friendly, works on a mobile, loads quickly, gets good scores on the site tool tests, it’s got a bit of buzz and some link equity and people are linking to it. How do we take advantage of machine learning when it comes to SEO? What’s the action item there?
Stephan: Yeah, so it depends on what tools you have, because some tools have machine learning baked into them and some do not. But let’s take MarketMuse as an example. So that’s got AI, or at least machine learning baked into its algorithms, and it comes up with suggestions for new keyword themes to target, and it will analyze your entire website. Let’s say you have 1000 pages to your website. Well, that’s 1000 pages to optimize to improve the keyword themes and focus for each page, and it will use AI to figure out what keywords to tweak each page around, because maybe you’re targeting a term that is not that popular. Years ago, when I was working with Kohl’s department stores, it was very hard to convince them that the term kitchen electrics was not a term worth targeting. It was a term they were just fixated on, they wanted to rank number one for, and they probably still are on page one for kitchen electrics, but it doesn’t matter if nobody searching for it. I mean, do you even know what a kitchen electric is? I didn’t. It’s just industry speak.
James: Is that an appliance of some kind?
“A term is irrelevant if nobody’s searching for it.”
Stephan: It is. It’s a small kitchen appliance that usually is countertop, like a toaster, food processor or blender. That’s the industry term. And they wanted to own that term, but it’s irrelevant if nobody’s searching for it. So you need to know which keywords are popular.
Tools of the trade
There are a lot of keyword popularity tools that will tell you like, this keyword is popular and this keyword is not. Free tools as well, like Google Trends. The Google Keyword Planner from, you know, it’s part of Google Ads platform, is also a useful tool. But MarketMuse uses AI to help figure out what keywords that you should focus on. And as time goes on, more and more tools will incorporate AI in into the algorithm.
I use a range of different tools, whether it’s for keyword research to figure out which keywords to target, or I’m trying to identify new trends or new opportunities, riding on the coattails of trending topics. Like looking at BuzzSumo, for example, seeing what’s trending there, or even just looking on Facebook or Twitter and seeing what the trending topics are, and seeing how you can ride on the coattails of those trending topics. That’s also known as newsjacking. So there are lots of opportunities, lots of tools. Most of them do not have AI baked into them yet, but that’s going to be changing very quickly.
James: So, one of your favorites is MarketMuse…
Stephan: Well, as an example that uses AI currently. I’ve got dozens of favorite tools for different aspects of SEO. Like for competitive intelligence, I use SEMrush, I use Ahrefs. For link analysis and link building, I’m using linkresearchtools.com, Ahrefs again, Moz Link Explorer (which replaces their Open Site Explorer). And just so many. SEMrush is also a great tool for link analysis. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, which tool is the right one for the job. You can’t just take a screwdriver or a spanner or whatever and and use it for everything. It’s the right tool for the job.
So for keyword research, if you’re trying to figure out which keywords are popular and which ones are not, just start using some of the free tools as a starting point, like Google Trends. And also AnswerThePublic.com is another free tool that will give you suggestions of questions that users type into Google. And then you can start incorporating those questions into your page content, even create FAQ pages around those questions. Also identify which of those questions are the showstoppers, the buyer concerns and considerations that keep them from becoming a customer of yours, and make sure that you’ve addressed those questions amply on your website.
Snippets and how to get them
A lot of times, people will ask Google questions. They’re talking to their Google Home device, or to their phone, to Alexa as well. And they’re asking questions and they want answers. They don’t want a list of 10 blue links read to them over their device. So you need to also be focusing on trying to get that position zero, the featured snippet answer that preempts all the organic results. So that’s a whole other ball game too. But if you’re not ranking on page one, it’s very unlikely that you’ll get that position zero.
James: I’ve been using those snippets lately, whether it’s how to know if my foot’s broken, and all sorts of things. And you can see that it throws a few little suggestions at the top, which you can expand, and has what seems to be quite decent advice. Do you have to do something special to your page to get a featured snippet, if you did have a top ranking page?
Stephan: Yeah, you should have a concise answer to the the question. I would also repeat the question. So let’s say that the question is, “How much does SEO cost?”
And you have not addressed that question by providing that question again. You’ve just answered it, and you’ve answered it in a very roundabout, long-winded sort of way. You would not have the featured snippet, probably, because it’s not a concise answer, it didn’t repeat the question, and also, you got to think about what’s the right format for the the answer. Like, if it’s “How does SEO work?” Or, “How much does SEO cost?” a paragraph type of featured snippet is very appropriate. But if it’s a how-to sort of question, like, “How do I boil an egg?” How do I, I don’t know, “How do I tear out drywall and then patch it up?” Those kinds of user queries require more of a numbered list type of snippet. So if your web page is designed so that it’s just one big wall of text and and there are no bullets, like numbered lists or anything, and it’s a how-to sort of query, good luck. Google is probably not going to reward you with a featured snippet, if you’re in the wrong format.
James: So in other words, you want to have the exact match phrase for that phrase that someone’s typed in or talked to, and then you have an appropriate answer, that will be more or less what you might put in a tweet, you know, to answer the whole thing, and a few characters, if possible.
Stephan: Yep. And, and in the right format, whether it’s an ordered list, you know, as a numbered list, ol and li tags, or if it’s the kind of snippet that would be best answered with a bulleted list. You know, like, for example, what are some great movies on Netflix to watch? That’d be best answered with a bulleted featured snippet list. So put it in the right format.
And if you are identifying featured snippets that your competitors have that you would like to steal from the competitor, first of all create a big list of those and then identify which, in those lists of of keywords that your competitors have featured snippets on, which are weak. Because you want to go after the weak ones and steal those away first. And a great tool for creating a list of featured snippets of your competitors is SEMrush. So you just put in there the domain name of the competitor, and then under the organic research section, there’s an option to filter just the keyword lists that are featured snippets. And then you can download that list and go through it, and identify which of those the competitor has a really lame, or they’re kind of lazy with their featured snippet answer, and steal those first. I have an article I wrote on Search Engine Land all about that.
James: Gotcha. Now, it’s worth mentioning here as well that you have a whole bunch of resources people can access at StephanSpencer.com. And there’s a resources page where you can get access to all the PDFs Stephan’s been talking about. I obviously recommend you buy The Art of SEO, a timeless classic.
What makes up a good SEO audit
So what else can I do? I’ve stolen my competitors’ snippets, my site’s working great on a mobile, I’ve got feature-rich images and text, original content. Is there any sort of go-to checklist that I might want to look over just to to hand my webmaster or my SEO practitioner if I’m hiring someone and say, “Here are the things that I think are important”?
Stephan: Yeah. So if you’re going to do your own SEO audit, I actually have an online course on that at StephanSpencer.com, but there’s also some free content around that in terms of articles and checklists and that sort of thing, and webinar replays.
So an SEO audit, a good one, will incorporate three major pillars to SEO. And that would be the content side of things, the linking side of things, and finally the technical side. So you got content links and the technical architecture. And so if you have somebody do that audit for you, and then you hand that over to your developers and say, fix all these issues, maybe the canonical tags are not set up correctly, maybe the XML sitemap app is not being updated, or the robots.txt disallows are incorrect, or maybe you shouldn’t be using them at all, and you should be using noindex meta robots tags instead, all this geeky stuff, you might not, it make your head hurt just to hearing those things. Well, you don’t have to learn all that. You just need to know you need to hire somebody to do that analysis. And then you hand over all the technical findings to your developer to implement or, you know, tweak and fix things.
James: And what about your meta keywords?
Stephan: Yeah, exactly.
James: Just kidding.
Stephan: Nicely done.
The best SEO client
James: So, Stephan, what type of website do you get the best results for when someone hires you who is going to be very, very excited about what changes happen? I mean, there must be a good use case that you look forward to working on.
“Without links, you’re not going to rank.”
Stephan: Yeah. I find that the most effective client to work with is somebody who’s nimble, willing to make changes to their website, and who has at least the willingness to publish remarkable content, content that is worth remarking about, because that’s the kind of content that’s going to get links. And without links, you’re not going to rank. So it’s really hard to get a nondescript boring online catalog, that’s just like everybody else out there on the internet, lots of fantastic high-authority, high-trust links. But if they’re willing to be nimble and creative and create something that is worthy of people’s links and buzz and time and attention, now you’ve got a real opportunity to just crush it on Google.
James: We had a lot of ecommerce stores looking for SEO when we had that service, and I noticed that plenty of them had the exact same pictures, even named the same, and descriptions, as 50 other ecommerce sites with the same product. I was wondering why would Google care less about seeing the 60th version of it, you know?
Stephan: Exactly, right? So have unique content, but also have remarkable content. Like, if you have a product that’s a boring product but you have something above and beyond what everybody else has, not just customer reviews, because everybody has that now, too, but having something that’s really fun, novel, interesting, worthy of people’s links.
Like, for example, you’re selling shoes and this is a page, like, a category page about, I don’t know, stilettos, and you have the history of the stiletto. And you know, not necessarily some huge content piece, but it’s just, like, some teaser content around the history of the stiletto. When did the stiletto start being a thing? And what have been the stiletto trends over time, over the decades that stilettos have been around? That’d be interesting, link-worthy content.
And if you’re teasing the consumer with that content, but you’re not overwhelming them with it, so you’re still, your primary focus is on selling your products, and you’ve created something that’s more remarkable and stands out from all the other e commerce sites selling shoes. Now you’ve got something that is worthy of links, because what makes you different from any other ecommerce site selling the same products, and you’re the 60th site selling it? It’s tough getting great links to your site when you’re just like everybody else, and thus it’s going to be hard for you to rank in Google without those fantastic links.
James: Gosh, I know one of my listeners, Mark, will be very excited about this episode. He has a brand called Starletto, and he sells those little stoppers that stop stilettos sinking into the ground, so for outdoor weddings, going to the horse races, the stiletto doesn’t sink into the the mush, and it stays out, and he sells that product. So we should make sure we put a link to his website from our transcript, he’s probably just got himself a backlink.
Stephan: Very nice. Yes. And how he could make this more remarkable is finding really funny examples of high-heeled stiletto kind of fails on the internet, where women have sunk into the ground and tripped. Those are kind of called fails.
James: Yeah, like a comedic soundtrack, little playreel of bloopers would be fantastic.
Stephan: Yeah, and that’s link worthy. And if you’re struggling for ideas for remarkable content because you think your products or your niche is really boring, go again to StephanSpencer.com, but there’s an article on Search Engine Land that I’ve included on my site, that is specific to ecommerce sites and link building. So there’s a whole bunch of really great ideas for link building if you have an ecommerce website.
James: Do you have to debate with Search Engine Land if it’s OK for you to put it on both sites? Is one of them going to outrank the other because it’s more powerful?
“You don’t want to compete with yourself.”
Stephan: That’s a great point. I do not republish the entire article. I link off from my website to the Search Engine Land article, because they actually do require that their contributors publish the content uniquely and solely on their site at least for a minimum of two years. You don’t want to compete with yourself, and if you have a great venue for publishing articles, I don’t know, the Huffington Post or whatever, and it gives you positioning to have that column on that popular website, the last thing they want you to do is republish that same article on your website. Now there’s duplicate content and these two pieces are competing with each other. Google’s only going to want to rank one of them and and not keep repeating this same content over and over again, multiple positions in the search results. So yeah, definitely a point to bear in mind.
An easy win
James: Another one that I think’s an easy win is when you find that you’re mentioned somewhere but they haven’t linked to you. You can ask them nicely to put a hyperlink. And we do get people asking us from time to time if we’ll link to them from our post, because we transcribe everything. For example, you’ve mentioned some keyword tools here. I’m fully expecting SEMrush and Ahrefs and MarketMuse to be in touch with us asking for a live link, because of the field that they’re in. But that’s a very common thing, to pick up a link that’s already there, but it just hasn’t been activated.
Stephan: Yeah, but what’s in it for the person who, like what’s in it for you, when they contact you and say, Hey, can you turn that into a live link? I don’t think that’s a very compelling ask. Personally, I think it’s much better to make it in, so much in the recipient’s, the email recipient’s best interest to link to you that it’s a foregone conclusion. You don’t even have to ask for it. Let’s take for example, if you had a really comprehensive study on, like, what are the best tools in SEO? Why would you use them? What are the use cases? What are the prices? And all that.
And let’s say that, OK, so let’s take the the opposite of the example you just gave and say that you’re the podcaster. So I’ve had my team do this. One of my guests on my shows (I’ve got two shows, Marketing Speak and the Get Yourself Optimized show), so what I’ll have is a mention of a tool or a service or a product, some sort of resource, and my team will reach out to those folks and we’ll just mention that, hey, we mentioned your product on the show. Do you want to offer, like, a discount code to my listeners, or any unique content, like free resources or whatever that are not just publicly available for everybody on your website? Is there anything that you want to do that’s special for my listeners, because you guys were mentioned on the show? And I’m happy to do that, even though the show, that episode has already aired. And I get people who’s like, Oh my god, that’s amazing. I would love to offer a discount code, or I’d love to offer you a free year of the service or whatever. And you can trial it out. Lots of opportunities there.
And if you start the relationship from the position of I want to give, instead of I want to get, you’re going to end up with much more of a partnership and a much greater opportunity for links in the future rather than just saying, Hey, I noticed you mentioned me and I would love for you to turn that into a live link.
Should you link to outside resources?
James: Question for the SEO: does linking to resources like that, let’s say we have a podcast episode about SEO, we’ve got a known SEO expert, we’re transcribing it – does Google value this article more if we are linking out to SEO related tools? Does it build authority for the article? Or is it just a waste of a link?
Stephan: Well, every time you’re linking out, you are sending equity outside of your site. But I wouldn’t be worried about that, because Google doesn’t want to reward you for being stingy. They want to reward you for being the best resource. And the best resource oftentimes is going to be linking out to relevant tools and services and so forth. So if it’s in the best interest of the user, think to, let’s say, two years in the future when machine learning algorithms, AIs, will be able to ascertain whether your article is awesome or not, reading it as if it’s a human being and not having any context around links pointing to the page. Or, just an educated person, you read a piece of content and you don’t have any context of where that’s being published. You could tell if it’s nonsense, you can tell if it’s fake news or, or legit, oftentimes. Now imagine an AI being able to do that 10 times better, a hundred times better than a human. That’s what we’re facing in the future. So if it makes sense to serve the user better, to link out, then you should link out. If it serves the user better to not link out, then you should not link out. It just depends on what makes the article or the piece of content more awesome.
James: That’s an awesome tip. That gave fantastic context to where we’re going with AI and why you introduce that topic. So when we came into this and we were talking about being number one in Google, I think we’re really preempting how to be number one in Google in 2020. If you thinking of the long term – and it’s certainly my approach to business, think long term – it’s all about quality. I think the loopholes, tricks, and the good old white text on a white background tricks are long gone. What do you reckon?
Stephan: Long gone.
James: A lot of people still ask about that when they start out. What if I just put text with the same color background? As if, you know, something so simple could be effective. It’s certainly been thought of 50,000 times before as a minimum.
So, Stephan, this is really valuable. Appreciate you coming and sharing. You’ve given us some highlights, something to think about, and also some great resources. We will link out to StephanSpencer.com, and check out the resources on that site. If you have a substantial size business and you think you want the best, then definitely reach out to Stephan. I would recommend him as the guy. And in the meantime, I just want to say thanks on behalf of the value you’ve created for this episode, Stephan.
Stephan: Oh, well thank you for having me. This was a lot of fun.
James: Stephan, I’m really looking forward to you visiting Sydney, and you’ll be sharing some SEO insights in April 2019 at SuperFastBusiness Live. You excited?
Stephan: I’m so excited. I’ve already got my tickets, I’m ready and raring to go.
James: The thing that’s special about this event is we have a huge dinner for everyone at the event, three course meal, drinks, everyone’s in the same room, all the participants, all the speakers, and it’s a networking function where you can really have a chance to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about. Find partners, get ideas. We will have entertainment, of course. That’s why we’ve already sold over 100 tickets to this event, and we’re still in the pre sales phase at the time of recording this. It will sell out, and tickets are available at SuperFastBusiness.com/Live. It’s the first time we’ve run this event for two years. It’ll be my 13th big live event, and I’m so excited about it. I’ll see you there, Stephan.
Stephan: Alright, see you there.
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