On today’s Reach, William Smith sits in to host a show that will help demystify SEO for audiologists and ENT practices! Today’s guest is Dan Parscale, host of Reach and full-time Search Engine Optimization expert!
Dan talks about the basics of SEO and how you know if you need it for your web site, Audigy’s “white hat” approach to optimization, what to avoid when optimizing your web site and some best practices that you can utilize to make your web site “shine” in search results.
WILLIAM: So today is kind of interesting because, as you can tell by the voice, I’m not Dan Parscale.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Who am I, then?
WILLIAM: But we do have Dan Parscale with us, and that’s because we’re going to be talking about search engine optimization. And it’s kind of funny, because Dan and I were kind of planning out new shows and looking at last season of Reach. And we realized that we hadn’t really talked too much about SEO. And I think maybe the reason is because Dan’s our expert on SEO, but he’s also the host of the show.
So I’m William, and I kind of usually stay behind the scenes, kind of move the levers, and twist the knobs, and make sure that we have everything recorded. But I do have a little experience in some of these digital marketing things. So I’m going to kind of flip the table here on Dan today. He’s had very little notice–
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yes, wish me luck.
WILLIAM: That there’s been a flip of the table. But we’re going to talk about search engine optimization, because it is something that is super important still, even to this day. And I think that there’s still a lot of questions about what it is, f it’s important, how it works, and what the expectations should be around it. So we’re going to get started just talking about some basics. So when I say SEO to you, was what comes to your mind first?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Well the first thing is probably the literal interpretation of that which, is search engine optimization. You said that. And I think of that as a way of making your website kind of shine for whatever keywords you’re really trying to get at. A lot of people would, I think, oversimplify it by saying it’s a process about getting your page number one in Google listings for everything.
But really, you end up in the first place because you’re the best answer to a search query. And this process is basically the way of anticipating those queries and then making your page the best answer for whatever happens to be being asked the most. So it’s probably the first thing that comes to mind. Immediately after that, there comes the ancillary programs and things that you can do in addition to SEO. Things like PPC, for instance, which we also do.
WILLIAM: Which we’ve talked a lot about.
DANIEL PARSCALE: We’ve talked a lot about it. And I think that, in my experience anyway, people tend to confuse the two because they work really well together. And they’re designed to do that. But they’re very, very separate too. So I won’t get too far into that because we have touched on it, but that’s the second thing that comes to mind is how it separate from its partners.
WILLIAM: I’m a small business owner. I’m an audiologist, or an ENT. I have my own practice. How do I know that I even need SEO for my website?
DANIEL PARSCALE: The best way that I think I can answer this actually comes from an article I was reading today, where it was comparing SEO and fitness. So I can say, because I’ve been to the gym once or twice in my life, that I need to go more often. And I know that because I’ve been in better shape in the past, if I continue to optimize my body, then I would be able to be in better shape.
The same thing is with SEO. You might not have to do SEO to be healthy. But if you’re consistent with it, you will almost invariably maintain your optimal health or get closer to that. I don’t think that you should be looking for necessarily the writing on the wall, if that’s what you’re looking for.
WILLIAM: Becuase then it’s probably too late.
DANIEL PARSCALE: I mean, it’s never too late to start, but you might already be deep in the hole. It makes more sense to be doing this, because frankly this is Google’s world and we’re just living it, right? So you have to be able to play their game if you want to rank well.
It wouldn’t make sense to assume that you’re going to rank first for all of your favorite keywords if you’re not doing anything. But you don’t have to look necessarily for a rationale to do this. You should just be thinking of it as maintaining the health and integrity of your web presence.
WILLIAM: I think when we think about Google, we think about this like all knowing kind of– almost like it’s an entity. And I think the way that search is moving right now is like it’s becoming very conversational. You’re using Siri, you’re using– what is it called, Google Assistant, I think?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah, brand new.
WILLIAM: And I saw that they were brand new phone out that the whole basis of it is like you’re talking to it. You’re having a conversation with it. Isn’t Google smart enough just to know what my website’s about? Why do I need to further as you say, make it shine?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Well, the answer to that is, like most things in SEO, it’s yes and no. So what you’re talking about is sometimes referred to as semantic search. And people will either search by talking or they type things out in a way that they might also say it.
So in the old days, people might have been used to typing, let’s just say the word “hearing aids” into a search. Now, they’re more likely to either say or type, “where is the best hearing aid supplier near me”, or “why do I need hearing aids for my hearing loss”, or something that we’d call it a long tail keyword. Google is increasingly good at understanding what you actually mean with those things. But it does that for every site that’s also trying to advertise the same information. So when you’re optimizing these things, you want to be able to be really granular with the stuff that you’re targeting.
It’s no longer just good to have a great page about everything about hearing aids, because then it’s going to be competing with a page that might be specifically about, why do I need hearing aids to treat my hearing loss? Something that, by comparison, is so much more close to the query that it’s a better match. And so you’re constantly trying to get more perfect to beat out your competition.
So Google does know these things. And it’s learning faster than honestly I think anyone can keep up with. But that means that we have to be learning and adjusting things constantly, too. And researching.
WILLIAM: So you used the word “make it shine”, “make the website shine” for various phrases and trying to anticipate what people are looking for. How do you do that, exactly, because I know that you have a lot of hands-on with our member websites as they are right now. So what kind of things are you talking about when you say, make it shine?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Well, that depends on what you’re actually trying to do. So with the start of all of our websites, we have a general idea of what we’re trying to target. So because we’re in the hearing care industry, we have a couple of key words that we know are always going to follow this market. Hearing aids, tinnitus, balance, hearing care, things like that, that are going to be pretty much universal.
To really make it shine, what you need to do is some technical work, such as working on the H1 tags and the title tags, meta descriptions, and then also the content. But you also need to do some research on the back end to find out which kinds of keywords, and phrases, and more specifically, the intention of the search, is really driving what people are searching for, so that you can build out on that. So one of the things that I’m starting to work on right now is really taking the concepts that we’ve got built into our templates and expanding them, so that they are more granular.
For instance, we might have a page that’s about, what is a hearing test? And we can build out another page that’s about, let’s say you’re a person searching because you know what a hearing test is, but you don’t know how to set yourself up for one. Those are two really different kinds of clients, and they’re different kinds of searches and intents. So we can look at content that the history of the content, how it’s doing in Google Analytics, search terms that people are using, using Search Console and other tools.
And we can kind of get an idea and pretty much guess and check these things. We test it to see if it’s doing better. And then if it is, then we continue to use that as our best practice.
WILLIAM: Do I need to have a separate page that talks about what a hearing test is, versus a page that talks about scheduling an appointment at my business to get a hearing test? Or could those things be kind of put into the same page? I guess, how much hand-holding do we really need to do in helping Google understand that if I have a page that talks about hearing tests, and there happens to be a phone number on it, or a form, or something like that, I mean can I just do something like that? Do I have to just create a bunch of pages all over my website to match every single case?
DANIEL PARSCALE: I see what you’re saying. Again, it kind of depends. I think that, for the most part, if you are going to be working in a field such as we are, there’s so much technical stuff that can go into the description of any product or service that it probably makes sense to make a separate page for other aspects of that.
The reason being is, again, you need to get granular with this. If you have one page that covers everything that’s covering a hearing test, it’s no longer a page that’s specifically about one kind of question about a hearing test. I don’t know if that makes sense or– is that clear?
WILLIAM: It does. It does.
DANIEL PARSCALE: OK. Yeah, so it’s the difference between if you have one giant thing that answers everything, and several different pieces that answer specific things. Those specific ones are going to be better answers for questions that are about specific questions.
So you can add these things into a larger page that covers a whole bunch of stuff. And actually, that should be part of the strategy, too. Because linking back and forth between these internally provides another SEO strategy that you can really use. And it’s great for small businesses, too, that might not have a whole lot of connections to other websites.
But you can do that in such a way that you’re not overwhelming the user or yourself, too. Speaking of the user too, another angle to look at this. And one of the ways that I look at it because Google looks at it this way is I frequently talk about how Google wants to provide the best answer to a question. And part of that answer isn’t just going to be the content, but it’s going to be the way that the user can absorb the content.
So if the user experience is such that when you land on a page you had to click on two or three other pages to get to the real answer you wanted, then in that case it’s probably not a good idea to build out several pages. On the other hand, it’s also very likely that if you’re interested in one thing and you got the right answer, you might be more likely to click on a subsequent page that tells you something that you hadn’t originally been searching for. So the real trick is to do your best to whittle down the information you have and see how people are navigating your pages, so that you can make those informed decisions. And then you test it.
WILLIAM: So I think what I’m hearing you say is that it’s not only just the content that’s on the page, but it’s also where it is on your website and how people get to it?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah. There’s a big user experience element that goes with this. My official title is CRO specialist, and so we look at conversion rate optimization for similar reasons. But they’re tied together.
People are more likely to engage with certain graphic interfaces. Or they might be less inclined to look at something that’s at the very, very bottom of your page, because it means they have to scroll all the way down and they might lose interest, or something like this, right? Now, while there’s no golden arrow, or silver bullet, or whatever you want to say for this kind of process, putting your content in the right place and marking it the right way with structured data, for instance, is a really good way for Google to know that what you’re doing and that you have the right information there.
WILLIAM: How did you learn about all this stuff? It seems like– it seems pretty complicated. It’s not just what you put on the page, or where you put it on the page, and how people get to it, and what links to it. So how did you get involved in this and learn about it?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Well, I have to say the caveat is I don’t know everything about this.
DANIEL PARSCALE: I now, sorry. Don’t tell my boss. But frankly, to my defense on that too, I don’t think many people do, aside from the people at Google who really started this.
There’s a lot of people in this industry who are fortunately very open about sharing their knowledge and their best practices. But almost all of them will share advice that starts off with Google doesn’t say this explicitly, but we think this is the case. And so you kind of just learn from what other people’s successes are.
There’s a lot of, I don’t want to say copying, but you really do have to follow the trends and see how people who are successful are doing things. Because frankly, some of the times they come about those best practices completely by accident, the same way that you do. Now on the other hand, too, there is a certain amount of stuff that Google will come out and say directly. And there’s a lot of great thought leaders in the industry– MOZ is the one that comes to mind for most of us– that really do an excellent job of researching this, not only with their own tools, but also talking to the people in the industry and aggregating all of that information.
For instance, every year they have a list of– it’s like a pie chart that breaks out what are the most important factors for ranking, based off of the input that they got from people in the industry. You kind of use that as your North Star, but just the same as a North Star, it’s not an exact map. It’s just kind of a guiding principle that lets you know what you should be doing.
WILLIAM: How much time does it take to stay current on the trends related to search optimization?
DANIEL PARSCALE: I mean, as much time as you’re willing to give it, really. I spend at least half an hour every day reading through articles on this. And that’s pretty necessary, because things are changing sometimes every day. And it requires a lot of attention to be able to really get down to these small ideas, which can sometimes take months to roll out, or people won’t even discover them. If Google has an algorithm update, like they just had with Penguin, for instance–
WILLIAM: Explain to listeners what you mean by algorithm update.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Oh, sure. So every time that you type something into the box on Google, and you send it out there, and then they come back, it’s going through their algorithm, which I think of as basically a giant equation on a chalkboard. That if it gets this, then it gives you that, kind of thing. And that calculation is way, way beyond, probably you, anyone that I’ve ever met.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Oh yeah. It’s just crazy. And to make it even crazier, it changes literally all the time.
So we get certain algorithm updates, like Penguin or Panda. Those are names that we gave it rhetorically in the industry so that we can kind of follow them. And Google doesn’t come out and say, most of the time, hey, we just did this big thing. All of your rankings are going to be completely screwed up now.
Usually what happens is people in the industry will start to hear or speak some chatter about this. And they’ll say, oh, I’ve been noticing that this has been happening to my rankings. It seems to be affecting content like this. Or it seems to be affecting pages that are not optimized for mobile, or something like this. That’s how we usually find this stuff out.
So if you’re not reading up on these things, it’s really, really easy to miss them, especially because in our industry we get considerably less traffic than, let’s say– I don’t know, what’s a– than like mcdonalds.com, of something like that
WILLIAM: Or an e-commerce site.
DANIEL PARSCALE: An e-commerce site, yeah. There’s a huge difference in those kinds of things. With the amount of data that we get, it’s also harder to come up with definitive conclusions, because there’s less data to look at. So you really need to put your data together with the data that comes from other sites.
That’s really one of the cool things about this industry, is that, as you say, it’s anecdotal. It’s very organic. And everything kind of works together through the community.
WILLIAM: So you said that the algorithm can and does change frequently. Do you find that there’s cases where we’ll make some updates to a website and then, literally the next day they’re all undone? Or is it kind of a slow change of search rankings? I mean, how volatile is it from your experience, I guess, working with our members in this industry, where one of these updates will come and just kind of clobber everything that you’ve done?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Well, this is going to sound like a plug, but it’s true. We don’t usually get hit too hard from these changes, because we follow most of the best practices that come up that we already knew about. And we tend to think forward about what is the best solution for the user in the end [INAUDIBLE].
And that’s really what Google is all about. They don’t usually have these algorithm changes so that they can just shake things up. They try and release them as a way to combat people who are using what we would call black hat practices. People who are basically trying to scam the system.
Or they’re trying to do it in such a way that it makes more sense for the way that people are using the internet. So one of the things that people used to do is they would build up lots of fraudulent backlinks. And what I mean by backlinks is it’s a link that goes to your site from some other site that’s on another domain.
And what would happen was people were making these fake sites so they could build out hundreds or thousands of these links, link them back to their main site. And it would look really good to Google, but it was all kind of a ruse. So Google caught on to this, and because they didn’t want to be susceptible to that, and they wanted only really credible links to make sense, they developed an algorithm change that would be able to basically scan these things and penalize people who are trying to game the system.
WILLIAM: For instance, like overnight, a site just got 300 links to it?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah.
WILLIAM: That would raise a little, like a flag somewhere at Google headquarters.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah. And they can also tell based off of the credibility of the site that it’s coming from. If it’s just a brand new site, for instance. Or if it has nothing to do with your site.
It wouldn’t make quite as much sense for a site that sells dog leashes to be linking to a site that was about table construction, for instance. They just aren’t naturally linked. So Google can kind of work on that.
So the point of bringing that up is to say that these things can change overnight. And we don’t usually get pinged for them because we’re doing our best to do white hat. But recently there was a change that I’m still looking into, actually, where something we use called Google Tag Manager– that’s maybe for a different conversation– but we use it and it uses a big set of code that goes into your site to be able to track stuff.
And overnight, when I thought everything was clean, they switched the code into two different snippets, which go into different places. And so in order to make sure that all of our traffic wasn’t going to disappear, I actually had to contact somebody from Google on Twitter to make sure that things weren’t going to fall apart. And he kind of explained to me what was going on. But it could have potentially been something that overnight would have meant we would have had to completely recode all of our sites, because there was no forewarning about it.
WILLIAM: So this isn’t a set it and forget it type thing. You don’t do optimization on your site once and then just call it good.
DANIEL PARSCALE: No, you can’t just set it and forget it. But there are so many things that you have to tend to that it makes sense that, from time to time, you’re going to touch on one aspect of your SEO and then move over to a different aspect of it. And the beauty of this is, if you’re set up properly, over time your website is just going to naturally accrue more credibility and do better.
WILLIAM: You were talking earlier about best practices, and that we kind of stay within certain parameters that Google does share with us. Can you talk about what some of those best practices are, in case there are people out there that maybe want to take their own stab at doing this? Or they just want to understand more about what it is that we’re doing for their website to help it show up and search.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Sure. So there’s a whole bunch of stuff. One of the things that we’ve already talked about was the technical aspects of it. I think this is probably the first thing that most SEOs will think about as elementary, which is working on your title tags and your H1s. And basically, if you’re thinking about your website as a book in a library, you can kind of think of those as chapter designations that really help to tell you in advance what the page is about.
So optimizing those, which means being specific about the content that’s going to be in them. Making sure that your website is mobile responsive is a huge thing and has been for about the past year, at least. I think it’s escalated in the last year.
And basically what that means is, if you have a website, is it going to look good on your laptop well? Or is it going to look good on your iPhone, or whatever you’re using? They have to be adaptable to those kinds of things. And that’s because people are starting to use their mobile devices more than they’re using their laptops.
In accordance with that– this is one of those user experience things that we were talking about earlier– in accordance with that, Google gives precedence to sites that are developed well for that, especially for mobile searches. In fact, as a side caveat, I read just yesterday that they are going to be splitting up their indexes of all the websites into mobile and non-mobile. And they’re going to be giving precedence to the mobile ones, too. So that’s an example of the kinds of things that we pay attention to. All of our new templates are mobile responsive.
You can also work on the backlinking that we talked about. If you have partnerships that are outside of your business, maybe you sponsor a company, maybe you’re part of a chamber of commerce, something like that, you can frequently connect with them to ask them to build backlinks to your website. And by building that network between the two sites, you can see improvements in the credibility of either or both of them, and kind of develop a symbiotic organic credibility network. That was a lot of words for that, but those are some of the best practices that we look at.
And then of course too, content is still king, I think. And developing out good content. And switching around words in the content so that it really matches what people are searching for.
WILLIAM: Is the content just the written words on the site?
DANIEL PARSCALE: No, it doesn’t have to be. You want to make sure that you have rich content, such as pictures and video. And sometimes your content can be– if you don’t know what an alt text is, that’s basically written word attached to an image in the code that tells either blind users or search engines what the picture is. So you can get that kind of contextual information out of an image in the same way that you could out of the actual written word.
In fact, even just having those on your page is a good sign for Google, because people like to see pretty pictures. They like to absorb information in that way. And that’s why you have infographics everywhere, because it’s a really easy way for people to understand stuff. And because it’s easy for them, and they enjoy it, that’s the best answer to their query.
WILLIAM: So what you’ve described in the best practices, making a title that reflects what’s on the page, using the appropriate words, and I definitely want to follow up with you about, how do you find out what the appropriate words are, because I think that’s probably a big portion of this. But it may seem straightforward to me, so why is this such a difficult task that people seem to face, in terms of getting their website to rank.
Is there– we’ll, you’ve already mentioned there’s a bad way to do it, because you’ve mentioned black hat, which for listeners is people that are kind of unscrupulous. They’re doing things to try to intentionally game the system. Whereas where more, you said, white hat. We’re following best practices.
So give me an example of what the wrong way is to optimize a page, let’s say, for hearing aids. Something that’s near and dear to our listeners, but also a good way to do it.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah. so one of the things that comes to mind is if you were to do keyword stuffing. And keyword stuffing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You take a keyword, hearing aids, and you put it in every place that you can possibly imagine to put it on your page. You can put in the alt text of an image. You can put it 16 times in one sentence on the page. You can put it five times in your title tag. Like just pretty much stuffing the page with that.
Now, this isn’t the way that people talk, and Google can– or think– and so Google can recognize that through their algorithms. When they see that kind of thing, they are going to recognize that it is spammy, and that it’s not the best answer to your query. So they’re going to devalue it. So if you try that approach, you might get a really good ranking for a short period of time. But invariably, it will come back to bite you.
WILLIAM: What’s the consequence for that?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Well, either you won’t show up well for rankings, or you might be completely de-indexed, which basically means that you’re not eligible to be shown for things that you might otherwise rank for. So the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do and you game the system.
WILLIAM: Yeah, exactly.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Now on the other hand, and this gets to something you were touching base on, there’s the good way to do it. And you think about, OK, I want to rank for keyword, hearing aids. Whenever somebody says, I want to rank for a keyword, I think about a couple of different things. And this is the right way to do this, in my opinion.
First, you want to see, are people searching for that kind of keyword? You might even start does it make sense for my industry? Now obviously, hearing aids makes sense for people who sell hearing aids. Are people actually searching for that keyword? Or are they searching for it with something else that’s like, hearing technology?
Or as a pretty egregious example, I always say, hear good device. Obviously– well, it’s obvious to me because I’ve checked– but people aren’t searching for hear good device,
WILLIAM: Or, I can’t hear.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah, yeah. There’s all these different things that could basically mean– that are basically connected to the same person with the same intention. And intention is a word that we’ve used a lot, too so.
The difference between a search for hearing aids and, where can I find the best hearing aids near me is very different. Let’s imagine that you type hearing aids into Google. The difference between searching for hearing aids and where can I find the best hearing aids for me is based in the intention of the user.
Typing in just the term “hearing aids” might get you a Wikipedia entry for the history of where hearing aids came from, how they’ve developed over the years. It might get you an audiologist in the region who can sell you hearing aids. It might also get you a manufacturer who designs these hearing aids and wants to tell you specifically how they built it, the technical aspects of it. All those things would make sense for something like hearing aids if you just type that in.
Now, if you typed in something that was, what we would say, further down the funnel, meaning closer to buying something, such as, where can I find the best hearing aids for me, that is a completely different user intent. The person who searches for something like that isn’t looking for the complete history of where hearing aids were developed, or why they were developed. They are looking specifically to find the location where they can spend their money and buy a hearing aid without going too far. And they want the best product.
So you have to take those kinds of things into account. Use one of several tools that are on the internet to help you get an idea of what the best phrasing for that is. And then build out your content based off of that. You asked earlier about whether you needed multiple pages to describe the same thing.
And this to me is the reason behind that. Because you want to be able to talk about the same topic, hearing aids, but you have to be able to do it in several different ways. Because you’re going to have patients and clients who are interested in your product from very different mindsets. So that, to me, is not only the white hat, but it’s the smart, strategic way to think about these kinds of things.
WILLIAM: You mentioned that you want to pick the terms that people are actually using when they’re doing searches. Because obviously, optimizing your page for something that people don’t look at, or in the case of something that’s really broad, like, just hearing aid, that could mean anything. And I want to get back to the Wikipedia stuff, because I want to know, well, why does Wikipedia show up for pretty much every search? But we can get to that later.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Sure.
WILLIAM: But what are the right words? Or at least maybe if you can’t tell us what the right words are, what are the steps you go through to determine what words people are using and how are they phrasing it? Because you mentioned, I want to hear better.
You know, I don’t hear very good. The way that people think, or maybe they talk conversationally. How do you find those phrases?
DANIEL PARSCALE: We have access to a whole bunch of tools. Some of them are free, and others aren’t. One of the ones that I like to use a lot is Google Search Console. This is kind of an ancillary to Google Analytics. And one of the tools that you can use with this is, it’ll give you a report on some of the queries that people are using to find your site. Not all of them, because there’s security issues that Google is very strict about.
But you can get enough from them that you can get an idea of what people are finding your site from. It gives you information such as the query, the page that you landed on, how many times there were impressions, where you ranked on average. Things like these that can really get you an idea for, not only what popular interest is in your website, but also how well you’re doing and how well you’re prepared for those kinds of things.
We can use that information, and through several different methods, you can basically figure out where you want to spend your time and efforts right now. What’s the lowest hanging fruit, for instance? And build out and tweak your content from there.
Another thing that you can do– I mentioned Google Analytics a second ago– is look at one of the reports in Google Analytics, which basically will show you the landing pages. Or if you’re talking about organic search which we are, the page that is the first page they saw when they clicked through onto your website.
More frequently than not, that’s going to be your homepage, but it might also be something about a specific topic. Let’s say that it’s about tinnitus again. If you see that tinnitus is ranking way better for landing page hits than another page, that could tell you a couple things, just like with Search Console. People are interested in it and they’re finding your site. So that might also be a clue that would tell you, let’s build out more content about this, and try and reach more people, because they’re clearly interested in this.
It might also tell you that you need to work out some of the content on your pages that isn’t doing so well. But there’s nuances in being able to really assess those data points, to be able to figure that out.
WILLIAM: So Google Analytics will show you how people get to your website, even if it’s not optimized for these phrases. But that could give you, like you mentioned, tinnitus . Like let’s say I have a website, it’s ranking for tinnitus because I see there’s traffic coming in, and people are finding my tinnitus page. Does it also show you kind of where you show up in the results for that, because I would imagine if you haven’t done optimization before, let’s say you have a page on tinnitus.
You might rank for it, but you may not rank very well for it. Would that give you an indication of where you should spend your time? Like, hey, we’re ranking for tinnitus, but we’re maybe on page four for it?
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah, there’s– again, it’s kind of nuanced with that. So you can get a little bit of that information from a Google Search Console. But you always have to take it with a little bit of a grain of salt, for the same reason that we usually don’t encourage people to Google for their own brand name. Because every searcher’s experience is going to be different because of so many different factors.
Where they’re searching from, what they searched for before, things like that are going to really affect where they fall now, you can kind of get an idea for the average of where these are, and yes, that’s usually where I would start. If I see that we’re ranking on average for something just at the top of the second page, that’s usually where I want to focus on, because I know it takes a lot less effort, and you get much better results from moving from the second page to the first page than if you were ranking on the fourth page and trying to get to the first. That’s going to take a lot more work, time, energy. So you can, but it’s going to take a little bit of thinking and tinkering around, too.
WILLIAM: Well, thankfully we have you and the team to do the thinking for us.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Oh yeah. We think real– real good, thanks.
WILLIAM: I’m curious, because you mentioned about the amount of effort to move search rankings around, and that kind of leads me to this question that I had. It was like, well, how long does this process usually take? I mean, I think we’ve established it’s ongoing.
But let’s say I have a brand new website. Maybe I just started working with Audigy. We built the website. How long does it take for that website to start ranking to where you can make informed decisions about, OK, this page needs work. Or, we’re good in this one.
Like what does this process look like? Does it take six months? Does it take a year? Does it take six days?
DANIEL PARSCALE: It depends on a couple of things. One, are you near a lot of competition that’s also doing a really good job of SEO? And if that’s the case, then you’re going to have to kind of break through that. And that will take a lot of time.
Usually, I say that you should be looking for the results you’re looking for anywhere from six to nine months, which sounds like a lot of time. But that’s also picking up steadily up until that point. There’s too many factors to really promise you any sort of timeline or result. And as a caveat to that, any SEO who guarantees you any sort of result is not going to be using white hat practices, or they’re just flat out lying, because there are no guarantees.
But you can follow these best practices. And over time, you will start to see these improved results. I would give it at least a few months, though, before I’d really start to be concerned about anything.
WILLIAM: So even though it might take six, nine months, it’s not like at the end of nine months, that’s when you start seeing some traffic to your website. You’ll see it throughout, it just– in order to kind of move you up into above your competition. It could take that long.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah, I think of it more as growing pains. And the fact of the matter is that there are some websites that other websites just can’t compete with. So for instance, we mentioned Wikipedia earlier. You’re never going to beat Wikipedia for the Wikipedia entry on hearing aids. If that’s the keyword you’re trying to rank for, just as an example.
And there are several different reasons for that, but the biggest one is that Wikipedia is enormous and widely trusted in pretty much every category. That’s a definite David and Goliath kind of situation. Now, what you can promise though is that, the more work you do on these pages, over time you will start to do better than you were before.
The main goal for me is to get as many pages on the first page of search results as possible. It’s not even always necessarily to get them into the first place, although that’s what everybody thinks that they want, and understandably so. But really what you want is not– your end game is not to get into the first position, your end game is to get people onto your site who are going to make those conversions. And the better strategy than just trying to be absolutely number one for everything is to try and be the right answer for as much as you are servicing.
WILLIAM: Yeah, because I think we’ve talked before, it comes to mind the last podcast that we did with Megyn Kelly, that you can use PPC. You can pay for placement. Essentially, you can leapfrog everybody if you have enough money. And you could be number one. But I think that the golden goose, I guess, if I was going to use a phrase like that, would be to get a first page ranking where you’re getting a lot of traffic that you don’t have to pay for any of it.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Exactly. Now, the way that things go– is something that I think is pretty interesting, is that, depending on the search intent, you’re going to see more or less paid results in your results page, too. That’s Google being very clever and understanding that the keywords that are related to people who are ready to make a purchase are more valuable for obvious reasons.
And so they can charge more for them and get more advertising on there. So it really is going to be kind of a duality between your paid and your non-paid optimization and practices. But, as you said, the object of the game is to just make sure that you’re the most likely to be seen everywhere. So that’s one of the reasons that we always encourage, if it’s in your budget, to pair PPC with SEO.
WILLIAM: So I’ve personally witnessed you make other people squirm during what’s coming next, which is the top three takeaways for our listeners.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Not the talent competition?
WILLIAM: Not the talent competition. It’s the three points that we want everyone to kind of leave this conversation with. So give me your top three takeaways for SEO.
DANIEL PARSCALE: The first one I’m going to remind everybody is that SEO really is a lot like fitness, just like that article I referenced. If you want to be in your optimal health, you want to work on it year around. You might not get sick if you don’t do it for a while, but you’re never going to be your best unless you’re constantly working towards that goal.
Second one, I would say, is make sure that you are developing a good strategy based off of what people are actually searching for. Don’t use vanity keywords, which are ones that you just want to rant for because you think that the sound nice or you think it might do well for you. Really do your research.
Supply information to your SEO specialist. Let them know where your money is coming from, and then target that. There’s great tools out there so that you can really figure out how to do that properly. And that is the foundation of every well run SEO campaign.
And last, but definitely not least, is, remember that even though content is king, we’re not just talking about keywords here. We’re also talking about user intent. And what I mean by that is you want to make sure that, if somebody is searching for hearing aids, are they trying to find out about the history of the hearing aids, or are they trying to find out where they can buy them?
Ger really inside your patients’ heads. And figure out what it is that they want, and then develop content based around that. And you’re going to be able to get a lot more granular and get the right kind of traffic.
WILLIAM: Well, thank you, Dan, for all of the insights on SEO, and letting me sit-in here and ask you the questions, for once. I appreciate it. And thanks for your time. And this was a great conversation.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Yeah, I had a lot of fun. I hope I can be in this seat again sometime.
WILLIAM: You probably will.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Oh boy. Thanks everyone for listening, too. Thank you for listening to Reach.