2022 Website Trends: SEO with Andrew Shotland
We spoke with Andrew Shotland, CEO of Local SEO Guide, a leading search engine optimization and local internet marketing company.
Local SEO Guide has been helping large and small businesses with search engine optimization for over 15 years, and Andrew has worked with Fortune 100 companies to small startups to companies like Walmart, Upwork, Task Rabbit and many more.
In this interview we discuss:
- Using unique data for SEO content
- Google indexing trends
- Rise of automated content
To start, give a high-level introduction of your background
Yeah, so I'm an idiot who does SEO all day long for all sorts of companies, all sorts of websites. And right now, Local SEO Guide is a team of 25 professionals.
We're mostly in the US. But we work with companies all over the world.
We like fairly complicated projects. And the good news is, with SEO, it's almost always complicated. So that's one of the reasons why we like SEO.
What is a gold standard website that we can learn from?
Well, I think if we're talking about SEO, I'll just talk about some of the sites we work on because of course they are favorites right now in the B2B world.
I think probably one of our better performers right now is Crunchbase.com. CrunchBase, as you may know, came out of TechCrunch many years ago and is basically a database of technology companies all over the world.
We've been pretty successful working with them, showing them how to use their data to drive scale. If you go and look up a company on CrunchBase and look at their company profiles, you'll see it's a pretty, I hate this word, but rich experience. Marketers use the word rich way too much.
If you look at a lot of the structured data that we've helped them implement over the years, it's pretty successful.
They've been hitting record traffic consistently for a long time.
It's a great example of how when you're starting out in SEO, one of the things you really want to look for is how you can scale things up. I guess in a startup, you're looking for that all the time.
But with SEO in particular, if you can figure out a content type that you can replicate use your data to create, let's say, 10,000 unique pages and CrunchBase's example would be like 10 million unique pages, you can start to see really extraordinary gains from SEO.
And not all businesses can do that because they don't have access to that kind of data. But often part of our work with clients in any category is, what assets do you have that we can use to scale you?
What are some positive trends you're seeing with SEO this year?
Actually, I can't call this a positive trend. This is a seriously negative trend. We've noticed Google getting very picky about indexing new pages.
We had a client who just launched a national website, so let's say a page for every city in the country. I just looked this morning. Two of them have been indexed.
I believe it's because the pages that they launched add very little value, meaning they're kind of not much going on. They're duplicative those kind of like insert city name here pages.
So for all of you SEO product managers or in house SEO people who are pushing your teams to add more stuff, make sure you're setting expectations right, this isn't an instant gratification thing.
You may have to kick the side of the TV several times to get Google to start to appreciate your content. And if Google's not indexing your content after a couple of months, it's pretty much a sign that you have to rethink that content.
You want to check to make sure there's no technical problems with your site. But I can tell even on our site, we've had some issues where we launched some stuff and we tried a lot of tricks to try to get it indexed.
What are trends you're ready to end for SEO this year?
I'm ready to see the SEO is snake oil thing stop. But there's definitely a bunch of bad actors in the space, so that'll probably never end.
But everyone I know who's working on it is very thoughtful and professional. We're trying to make stuff happen. I'm sure there's plenty of people are trying to rip you off.
But on the flip side of that I think there's a growing appreciation and COVID kind of drove this of SEO as a discipline because suddenly companies realize that it was a serious thing they couldn't ignore.
The other trend I'd like to see actually, I don't want to see it stop. It's been great for us, the automated content trend. Hey, we've created a computer that can write like a human being and we're going to do it and we're going to write a million pages and it's going to be great.
We keep getting hired by companies to rewrite stuff that these brilliant machines have written at scale. And it's not that it can't be done. I'm sure it can.
It's just as hard to do it right, I think, and it's easy to get it wrong.
What are some of your favorite tools that you're using for SEO right now?
Well, our favorite is the stuff we're building for ourselves. We have a full development team and so we build ourselves both reporting tools for clients and that can basically take all the data you can get from everywhere and put it into a more manageable and hopefully actionable format.
One of the problems we see with most SEO tools is it requires a lot of steps to make the data actionable.
We're trying to solve that last mile of data input.
So we build also tools for our own productivity to save us time and make all these data crunching tasks much simpler.
Our stack of tools typically would be SEMrush for a lot of just ad hoc analysis. You can just log in there and quickly do research, things like that. And we use their API and some of our tools to pull the data in. Search Console and whatever analytics tool you're using is usually like the best tool to use.
And don't forget about Bing webmaster tools, everyone always forgets about that. But you can get some actually good data out of there.
We're using a pretty interesting tool called Clearscope right now for content production. So essentially what Clearscope does is it scrapes the content from, let's say, the top 50 URLs for a search term and does some analysis of it and says, okay, these are the commonalities.
You can apply that to your content with the assumption that, hey, there must be some reason why all these rank, right?
It's a good way to kind of quickly tweak up your content. Then we have subscriptions to all the standard tools, Ahrefs, Majestic.
We like to get as much data as we can.
Tell us more about Local SEO Guide
If you're interested in working on some SEO or getting some advice on some SEO, feel free to get in touch at localseoguide.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, you can find me on Twitter @localSEOguide and always happy to talk about this stuff.
I know it's probably one of the most frustrating and ridiculous marketing channels and requires a bit of education with all the stakeholders before anyone really buys into it, but when it works, it really works.
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