Matt sits down with Josh Bachynski, an ethicist and SEO consultant, and discuss about white hat vs black hat SEO, Google’s algorithms for ranking page sites including RankBrain, Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon. At the end, they discuss Josh’s documentary called Don’t Be Evil: Google’s Secret War and he explains why everyone should be aware about it.
Matt Coffy: For taking the time to hang out with me for a few minutes here.
Josh Bachynski: My pleasure.
Matt Coffy: You are one of my luminaries to get on the podcast. I think it’s been six months since I started trying.
Josh Bachynski: I apologize for that. It’s just been crazy busy.
Matt Coffy: You should be busy. So let’s ask the most important question. What happened between you and Barry? Why are you guys not friends anymore? What happened to those podcasts? Those were so much fun. You can see the wincing in Barry’s eyes as you guys sort of manipulated each other’s thought processes and trying to keep it one step ahead of each other. Did you just get to a certain point where Barry is like “Listen, I’m done.” Or was it more like “You know what, Barry? Stop sucking it up.”
Josh Bachynski: The short answer is basically he wants to stay on Google’s good side, and I don’t care obviously about staying on Google’s good side. So that changed his politics and dominated his politics. My view dominated my politics. Our politics were sadly mutually incompatible. That in a nutshell is it.
Matt Coffy: The funny thing is—and I’m just going to have to say this joke—is that Barry wears a black hat.
Josh Bachynski: Yes.
Matt Coffy: Had to say it. It’s just something I had to say. White hat, green hat, blue hat. What is a hat? Why did someone put hats to the SEO? Is there something gunslinging over at SEO, isn’t there?
Josh Bachynski: Yeah yeah. Well, I think it comes from hacker terminology originally. But you can ask the same question, why did it get into the hacker terminology? So yeah, I think that’s the old cowboy movies where the bad guy wore the black hat and the good guy wore the white hat. It’s annoying and philosophically telling if someone says that if you’re breaking the rules, therefore you are a bad guy, therefore you’re wearing a black hat. Of course, that’s not always necessary the case. It’s an unfortunate distinction but it’s one that Google definitely decided to buy into to use in their propaganda to say, “Anyone breaking our rules is unethical; therefore we are ethical.” By the transit of property, because we’re not them, we are ethical and anything and everything we do to everybody else is justified.
Matt Coffy: Isn’t orange the new black anyways? So maybe we should be orange hats to kind of keep up with the trends?
Josh Bachynski: Yes, definitely. I think we need a rebranding. We need to rebrand the entire industry definitely.
Matt Coffy: I was sitting down with a potential client yesterday. It was a very prestigious law firm here, about 10 lawyers in the law firm. They represented monster cases and stuff like that. I sit down with them and go, “You know, look at the back end of your site. You guys basically have all Viagra and Cialis links pointing to your web site.” Of course, they’ve been under attack from a negative SEO attack. But what was more true to the word, which was they started looking for SEO companies about two or three weeks ago. Just by chance, that’s when all these links started coming up. Interesting how the industry could go to a certain point. I contact all these SEO companies to start with and so SEO companies sees opportunity. Runs an automated program, blasts the site with Viagra and Cialis links, then calls back the customer and says, “Hey, you got a problem here. We got to fix this.” And they get the work. Something like an interesting, almost like a doctor who when you walk into the office, “I’m not sure what’s wrong with you” and they basically give you a pill or a shot, and you come back two weeks later and you’re like “I’m really feeling not too good.
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Josh Bachynski: Right, right. Is that real? Do people really do that?
Matt Coffy: I’m not surprised.
Josh Bachynski: I hope not, in terms of the doctor. But in terms of the SEO, definitely yeah. That’s the new shady way of doing it, right? People still do this, but in the mid-2000s, they would build all the links to a 301 address and just 301 leeches to the target client. When the client stopped paying, they would turn off the 301 and suddenly the rankings would plummet. You weren’t buying links in so far as you weren’t buying page ranks; you were renting page ranks. But yeah, unfortunately Google has made everyone terrified of buying links or links in general and people are disavowing even healthy links or links they shouldn’t bother disavowing. In my opinion, they shouldn’t be disavowing anything unless they received a manual action. So because of this fear, unscrupulous SEOs can take advantage of this and start building crap links to its site and say, “You’re going to have a problem. There’s all these porn links. There’s these Viagra links. Google is going to have a problem with that.” Of course, Google is not going to have a problem with that at all. If 80 percent of your portfolio was of a different topic that you were about, then yes, adult content notwithstanding. But otherwise, Google is not going to care about that. They’re either going to count link juices. They’re actually helping them.
Matt Coffy: Right. And this is prevalent. Everybody is getting smacked around with these silly links. We’ve had our problems as well but it doesn’t really do too much other than just cause general hysteria. Really, it’s like a license to fish in a way with tainted bait. I just ate sushi so I hope my bait wasn’t tainted. I was thinking like literally you could just—not that I would do this—it just made me think yesterday when I was in this. What’s preventing just an ultimate sort of tactic, an SEO company, whatever, you start railing people’s sites with crap links, you just send them a message and say, “Hey, we noticed it’s showing pictures,” and explain how it works and be off in your way? I think it’s sort of like the underpinning of what I think is the industry is about which is that it’s really just an information industry. It’s like what information you have to provide these guys with whether good, bad, or different. There’s obviously results that get driven from us doing the right things to build strategy for customers. It’s almost like Google is propaganding itself out there. You do all naughty, naughty stuff, as long as the customer has some understanding or usually one of their marketing people in their team or somebody knows a little bit enough, you can scare somebody quickly.
Josh Bachynski: Definitely. I think you’re totally right. It is completely an information industry. That’s 95 percent of what I do is educate people. That’s what a consultant does is educate people. I think SEO is imminently strategic. I think it’s always been imminently strategic. If you didn’t do your keyword search to begin with, then you’re going to choose the wrong company name for crying out loud, especially if your main channel, if it’s a local business, your main traffic channel or main advertising channel is going to be organic search and Google local in particular. For example, just yesterday, I had a client who I was about to write their web site and they had already chosen their business CMS. I said, “Whoa, whoa. Let’s get on the phone first.” They wanted me to do some SEO services after that. That’s not the way to do SEO anymore. It’s more strategic. It’s more about information. It’s more about making the right choices from the start. I’m going to make a fictitious example because he probably doesn’t want to be named. He was selling car covers. Let’s say he chose his name to be Eco Wraps or something like that because it’s car wraps or car covers. So I did keyword research and I showed ten times the amount of people looking for covers as opposed to wraps, so I said, “You should be calling this Eco Covers, not Eco Wraps because people are going to see the name in the EMD, not the EMD per se, but in the partial match domain. They’re going to click that way more than they’re going to click Eco Wraps or something like that.” I see this again and again. It’s kind of a change. It’s not that tweaking your title tags is important for keywords although it is minorly. It’s not that having the keywords in the URL is important. It’s barely important. Both of those things tell Google RankBrain that the site is probably about a topic XYZ. But it is much, much more important to have human beings see that and click it because it’s exactly what they’re looking for. Because people are busy and they’re not paying attention and they’re trying to find Pokemon at the same time and they’re trying to dodge taxi cabs at the same time. If they’re looking for car covers, they’re going to click on the first thing that says car covers to them, right? I told him, “You need to put this in your name. 10 times people are going to search it. You’re going to get way more traffic, way more eyeballs, higher click through rate, that kind of thing.” That information alone could save a business. SEO is completely about information and Google’s job is to put misinformation out there for the most part or the information that they want people to know and think and how they want the industry to operate. I got to take that. I got to listen to all the other SEOs, all the experiments they’re doing and I got to do my own experiments. I got to see how my Google is doing and I got to figure out what the truth is in the middle, factoring out everyone’s political interest like Google wants us politically to believe this because it’s in their interests. Other SEOs selling service XYZ want us to believe that service XYZ work because they’re selling it, so I need to strip that out because it’s in their interest and I need to find what the truth is in the middle as the raw consultant that I am, not really selling a package kind of service.
Matt Coffy: On that stream of consciousness—thank you by the way. That’s a great lead into what my next question was, so bravo. What does work? I want to ask you this because obviously you could say there’s 10 different factors and it’s off page, off page. But what the market is buying today, what we’re seeing a prevalence of is guest post blogs, right? Matt Cutts in his infinite wisdom and of course in your kindred spirit together. I know that you guys probably built a tree fort, like hung out all day. Really at the end of the rope, it is sort of a perceptional game. Sure, you can get a link at the Huffington Post or a really high end blog. From a visibility standpoint, the customer could treat that as very important PR-related thing to do. But the link juice is obviously a factor. There’s a lot of discussion—and you know this as well—that links don’t matter anymore. That hey there’s a whole body that says you just need to do click-through rate at traffic because at the end of the day Google is going to measure your site in comparison to other sites in traffic going to that site. Then the rise of this crowdsearch.me and the rest of these sort of automated or semi-automated or human being actual people, that they claim, to do click-through rates and traffic automation. What do you think works if you’re going to say, “I’m going to do this one thing”?
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Josh Bachynski: If I had to choose one thing, then it would definitely be content quality. That’s the one thing you could conceivably rank a site on is content quality. I’m going to put about a million caveats on to that. It’s exceedingly harder of course and exceedingly expensive to make a magazine-quality website that has the best possible user interface that gives exactly what the customer wants in exactly the way they want it in exactly the speed they want it and surpasses and exceeds all their expectations in terms of buying, in terms of service, in terms of usage of the website so much so that your conversion rates are like 60 or 70 percent. Your click-through rates on the Google search are 20 to 30 percent at least on long tail terms. On head terms the same, and on brand searches even higher like 70 percent. You’re definitely the thing they’re looking for. When they search for ABC, most people are clicking on you and not like is ABC a scam or something underneath that or some competitor. In theory, if users are that happy about it, they’re bookmarking you. They’re making you their favorites in their browser, which I believe is being tracked. They’re coming back. They’re telling their friends about you. They’re sharing you. Maybe even if one or two of them are still running a blog, they link to you which is highly, highly likely. If you have to put my boots to the fire and say what’s the one thing, that’s the one thing. That would be the complete white hat idealist way of doing it. Of course it doesn’t work that way mostly because people don’t want to pay the money. They don’t realize it’s that important. It’s hard to find people who are that experienced who are that good at it. It’s really difficult to find a designer who can make pretty websites that also understands user interface and click bleed and giving the user what they want above 500 pixels and not just giving you a pre-fab template that they think looks pretty. If you’re going to ask me what the one thing is, that will be the one thing, but I can break down the algorithm very simply in 2016 with RankBrain. It’s 33 percent onsite content keywords, technical speed, things like that, SCANA. 33 percent at least RankBrain click-through rate user metrics if they’re compiling over months and then giving a quality score and ranking sites based off of that as per the 2012 patent. And then the 33 percent offsite factor which I break down into thirds to be social buzz going on including all the smaller social buzz as well, not just the big sites but the smaller sites. Reviews and ratings outside SCANA, so microdata off the site that tells them that you have a five-star rating this or that.
And then the final portion of that, the final third of that third in my opinion is links. If everyone has everything else, everything else is on par and they have links, and yeah you’re going to need links too. I’d say right now links are about 30 percent important, 40 percent important because more or less everyone else has kind of run-of-the-mill quality and they’re all kind of there. I think by next year, this time next year, my prediction is that’s going to be even less. Links are going to like 10 percent of the algorithm because less and less people are making them. When I say links, I mean do follow links. No follow links I think are part of the algorithm and still part of the algorithm because that’s where all the social sites, not all of them, but a lot of them do is they can all follow links by defaulting. I think Twitter does for example. Pinterest still is making do follow links. I’m not sure if they do follow or unfollow. But ultimately I don’t think it’s going to matter because Google has got to follow the trend of what’s going on in the industry right now. If the link to the blogosphere is long dead, if the linkosphere is going away, which it is, and the social sharing is going to be the new way people are sharing because keep in mind Google already has over 50 percent of their traffic on mobile. Over 50 percent of their traffic that they’re paying attention to is on mobile. No one is making links on a cellphone. No one is editing HTML on a cellphone. No one is making links on a tablet. No one is making links on a smartphone. They’re going to have to be watching traffic. They’re going to have to be watching click-through rate. They’re going to have to be watching those kinds of things. The more and more experiments they see running them on, the more marble in this case. Ryan Fish has done experiments that the click-through rate kind of congests the ranking. A colleague of mine in Europe recently contacted me and showed me that even with automated kind of BOT traffic, he can push around rankings back and forth. It’s unsubstantiated. I haven’t gone any IP addresses in Europe to test this out personally. But it makes sense to me that it would work in Europe with BOT traffic and not North America because I have tried in North America and a lot of my colleagues in North America have tried as well with the crowdsearch.me kind of services. That doesn’t seem to work, that kind of BOT traffic because Google owns a big huge portion of the Internet’s backbone even more so in North America, less so in Europe. So I could see that kind of traffic working in Europe, but they can tell if you’re using a VPN in North America. They can tell if you’re using, for big chunks of the continent, they can channel by checking the IP routing and things like that. They can tell whether you’re using a VPN or things like that are going on. Think I’ll just discount and discredit all that kind of traffic. Of course, you can’t beat Google at a technical game. If you think you can technically beat Google, that is a losing bet because year after year they’ve got thousands, literally thousands of developers at the PhD level who are very, very smart and paid a lot of money to pay attention to this thing.
Matt Coffy: I wanted to actually go back with the BOT traffic. What if you run it through socials? This is the big query that I’m going to be testing is that you can now do crowd-based traffic, drive it through a social profile, and then it gets linked back or it comes through the social profiles as opposed to going directly to the site. Even though the crowdsearch stuff, it’s a roll the dice whether it does anything, but then you’ve got potentially to me to be able to use a social channel, so you see something coming through a social link, does Google still understand ramifications of coming through a social link that maybe wouldn’t normally be necessarily be counted directly on page? So you’re right. I think the social sharing is where this whole industry ends up being—and I want to talk to you about that in a minute— but I just want to clarify that if you thought that that might be a valid case to study.
Josh Bachynski: Totally, totally. People have already studied it and I have already studied it. Yes. I have links directly from Google, that this is the way it’s going to go and this is what they’re going to do. Matt Cutts told me point blank to my face that he was pissed off that Google had to write algorithms to clean up the spam on Twitter and to figure out what is a real account on Twitter and what is not a real account on Twitter and things like that and other social networks. That was two, three years ago. They’re already looking at that. That is well under way. Black hats have already been. When you think about it, it’s the perfect thing to tell them. Now that they’re tracking traffic through some websites and what’s going on through both something called Safe Browse, which is the malware utility that they control and they can tell every URL you’re clicking on and compare that to a database to tell whether or not they should throw out the red screen of malware death. They know everything you’re going into, and Chrome can follow your traffic. They have ties into Firefox. They can also follow traffic. IE, Firefox, and Safari and Chrome all use Safe Browse also on the mobile now as well. They know everywhere everyone is going. They can tell when a link is clicked. That’s the perfect way of determining whether or not that link is a valid link and they can tell whether that page is getting traffic. That’s the perfect way of telling whether or not that back link page is the actual valid back link page. If it’s getting traffic, it’s actually being read versus it’s just a blog that someone spun up and made an SEO nuke. No one ever goes there. No one ever reads it except for the Google crawler. Same thing with social networks. Dwayne Forster, formerly of Bing, was able to say, “Look, here’s the graphs. It’s a night and day difference to tell between these are a bunch of fake accounts that had been made on Twitter that are talking to each other versus these are real accounts. The footprint looks a whole lot different.” So unless you’re faking it really, really, really well and you’ve got really good programmers who can fake it super well, you want to spend thousands of dollars doing that, it makes more sense to spend hundreds of dollars getting people to boost this the white hat way or potentially thousands of dollars trying to boost it the white hat way because it looks more organic. But I’m pretty sure that’s how Google is telling what’s an authentic back link signal, so to speak, an authentic off-site signal. And then they can go “Okay, we’re going to count these signals because they look authentic.”
Matt Coffy: Let’s go back to social sharing for a second because they’re kind of two different avenues. We started this strategy to go down the path of what we call—I don’t know if you want to coin this but I better not say it as a TM yet but—experiential marketing. We’re putting together plans now with clients to take their information and, more useful as you know and I know I think is the big driver which is video, take as much video as we can from them of valued content, not crap but something of value, and then take that and start to run that through the different vehicles whether it’s Instagram or Facebook and get those going in both marketing from a paid push and also from an organic push and get those things shared as quickly as possible and put those on to internal pages so that we get nice click-through rate and good time on page and stuff like that. Obviously there’s another variation here where you could go out and embed stuff on other social accounts. You could build social accounts, age them, and then use those social accounts to start to create sharing from those social sites. I wanted to get your take on this whole piece of the business which I think is really looming large in most of the SEO people’s minds.
Josh Bachynski: As much as I understood what you just said, like I said, the problem there is faking the social fabric. You can do with eight accounts and I know guys who have done this. They make 8, 10, 20 accounts. They have bots. They all talk to each other with gibberish. That is very flat and very easy to detect. You would need hundreds of accounts. Google is not going to bother tracking anything until you got like 100 likes or 100 retweets or something like that. That’s kind of like the magic. That’s just a number I pulled completely out of my ass, but you have to imagine that they’re not tracking Joe Bot who has five followers who talks to Jane Bot. They’re not tracking anything like that. That’s going to help you 0.001 percent a rank if at all. You got to have someone with some follower wonk. You got to have someone with some hot spot social. It will pick things up. And trending, stuff that’s trending. Not necessarily the stuff that’s trending on the left-hand side that you see in Twitter. It doesn’t have to be national for Google to pick it up. But you can be damn sure that if it’s national, Google will pick it up.
My Twitter is completely organically made. I have around 3100 followers right now. It’s completely organic. I didn’t buy any followers. Google has a tweet I make within 5 seconds. Google sees that my Twitter is associated with all these other websites and my name. So my name is big enough that something that I talk about Google is picking up. That’s around the level that I can see you would need to be of Google picking it up and paying attention and doing this and that will lead to indexing. Hummingbird picking up what I’m talking about and SEO related is to me Josh is an SEO. Google knows me. The algorithm knows me. They know me as Josh Bachynski as an SEO. His website is here. His main social avenue is Twitter. They know that I tweet more than I go on YouTube for example. I post on YouTube on a regular basis. They know all of these things. I would say that’s probably the limit of where you need to get to. I was seeing this back when I had 2000 followers. 2000 followers would have been sufficient probably, but that’s the level it really needs to be at. You can extrapolate to Pinterest and stuff like that. I see stuff on Pinterest working really well, but unfortunately I’m not really able to test very well like buying advertising in Pinterest. You can get thousands and thousands of links if you do it a certain way to your website. I see that is a huge bonus right now. There’s all kinds of little caveats and each social network is kind of its own little universe if you know just how to tweak it and tailor it. Facebook seems to definitely make differences. Stuff goes crazy on Facebook. Google seems to somehow magically know about it. It really is, at least for some public pages anyway, it really is kind of that’s the way it’s going but it gets really difficult to completely fabricate. It has to be nurtured. It has to be mostly organic. That’s what SEOs do. It’s mostly organic and then you just kind of nurture it along and poke it, and poke it a bit, and then put the lens of Google and say, “Hey, Google. Look at this. This is what we’re doing.” And then they pick up the signals.
Matt Coffy: So let’s talk about the other side of the equation which is the troublesome sites. We tend to get customers who’ve been kicked in the teeth pretty hard, the ones that are basically, for some reason, their site will not rank like it’s been Penguin Pandadized, Giraffed, Elephanted, whatever you want to say. It’s been kicked. So they come to us. Sometimes we can figure out what the problem is but sometimes it’s just like there’s literally a hex on some domains like Google’s just decided “You know what? You had 3000 hits of traffic per month running. We hit you back in 2013 and that’s it. You’re just done. Like no matter what you do, no matter how you try and prove it, we’re still not going to get you above the threshold we put you on which is whatever 400, 500 hits a month. I just want to know if you’ve got—and this is going back to your theory that I think that Google just decides whether or not they like a business based on somebody’s rough judgment.
Josh Bachynski: Yes.
Matt Coffy: Any thoughts on that on resurrecting from the dead?
Josh Bachynski: Well I’ve resurrected plenty of sites from the dead, and it can be done. I’ve resurrected sites that went back to their previous traffic levels. I have resurrected some sites that did not go back to the previous traffic levels but went back to satisfactory traffic levels or traffic levels that I’m saying, “Look, that’s what that’s what Google’s going to rank you for now” because there’s more problems than just Panda and Penguin. Before I say anything about to say I’m about to say, I’m going to say this caveat first. It is entirely possible and I have no way of knowing, and if there’s many reasons why I could say that they would do this, that Google just put a filter on a site and its permanent and there’s almost nothing you can do, it’s either there’s nothing you to get rid of it or there’s almost nothing you can do to get rid of it. Sites have been hit both by Panda and Penguin and/or Panda and Penguin and manual action. I’ve seen this before where it does just looks like there’s a hex on the site. But I’ve also seen sites like that where I was able to recover or able to get rid of this stuff. Google says publicly—and their philosophy, they like to think they’re the good guys—and so they like to think that they are forgiving and they like to think that if a site does the work, we will let them go. So unless you’ve got like three manual actions in the past in which case Google has said verbatim “Forget it, just burn the site and start again because we will never trust you fully again if you’ve got like three manual actions or something like that,” so if you’re in cases like that, I think it was just algorithmic. The way they make it is a kind of laissez-faire. Yeah if you get out, you get out. If you’re in, you’re in. So it is possible to get out even if you’ve been Pandaed and Penguined and Pigeoned almost to oblivion.
But keep in mind, the thing I want to say is, but keep in mind there’s more than just Panda and Penguin and Pigeon and these animals. There is Hummingbird and there is RankBrain as well. Google has made a large shift from 2008 to now in the last eight years whereas they would use to rank blogs, they used to rank information sites. They didn’t have as discriminant a sales funnel. They weren’t as discriminant in terms of like if you’re doing info queries, they might give you a sales site. If you’re doing sales queries, they might give you an info site. But now it’s not the case anymore. They’re much more discriminant because they’re watching where people click, and so they know exactly what people want to a much better degree generally speaking. If you’re higher up in the sales funnel, they’re almost always going to serve an info site. If you’re lower in the sales funnel in terms of the search query, they’re going to almost always serve something exactly tailoring what you’re looking for. If you’re right down the bottom of the sales funnel, if the client is already looking for somewhere to buy, they are not going to serve up a blog, they’re not going to serve information queries. They have a much better detailed knowledge of this is a sales query or not, and they’re going to give them, all things being equal, if they have a sales site and a blog site, a site that’s dedicated to sales with no blog at all. It’s clearly a service website where you can buy here. There’s no information about it. Really just buying it, just click go. If that’s where the searcher is in the sales funnel, that’s the site they’re going to serve up.
So realize what this means. This means all the traffic you used to get because you are a general catch-all blog and you had crappy blog articles that are ranking for long tail keywords, one that’s not going to work anymore because of Panda, two, that’s not going to work anymore because RankBrain knows that’s not what the end user wants. So if they have Site A which is just a sales site and Site B which is a sales site but also thought how to blog and because that was the way to rank in 2008, they’re going to serve Site A even though it’s like a five-page sales side because, all other things being equal, because that’s what the end user wants. The end user doesn’t want to read about it anymore. They’ve already read about it. Does that make sense?
Matt Coffy: Yeah of course.
Josh Bachynski: So a lot of customers come to me and they’re like “Why can’t I get my traffic back anymore?” I’m like “Well because it’s changed. The web has changed. Google has changed.” They don’t work that way anymore and people are kind of working on like this outdated information. So we come back to the information quotient again. People are working on this outdated information that they think that’s the way SEO still works. It doesn’t. RankBrain is laser-focused on giving end-user exactly what they want. You need to tailor your business in such a way that you want to know exactly where you are in the sales funnel. Do you want to show up at the top of the sales funnel when people are information gathering, and then put your product name and feed your product name into the process there and they do a different search for product name and then they’re laser-focused on making a sale? Or do you want to go right down to the bottom of sales funnel and forget the blog and forget educating people about it, you’re going to advertising a different way and get your name out there in a different way like buying ad space whatever it is you’re going to do or commercials or radio spots or whatever it is, and then they’re laser-focused on product ABC and they’re going to go right to product abc.com and make the purchase?
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Matt Coffy: Good. Let’s talk about real stuff. I have $5000. I’m a customer. What are you going to do for me?
Josh Bachynski: How would I spend that 5000 bucks?
Matt Coffy: Correct. That does not mean that you can go down to a casino and double it and come back and say, “I’ve made your money.”
Josh Bachynski: Oh come on. I think in fact that’s a good example. That’s the absolute last thing I would do. Every process I think every reputable SEO needs to take is a process of risk mitigation. I’m here to make you more money. I’m here to turn that $5000 into $10,000 or $15,000 or $50,000. Everything I need to do has to be based on a strategy of risk mitigation. What we need first is we need information and we need strategy. I need to find out what skeletons are in the closet. I need to find out what’s broken about the site. I need to find out how Google’s already treating you. So the first portion of that money is to do an in-depth comprehensible audit. Luckily, I’m a top tier SEO. I’ve been doing this since around 2000. My competitors who do SEO audits they would take that whole $5000, and they would manually crawl around your site and look at your pages and they make this 50-page report. I can do the same amount of work in a much shorter time and not take the entirety of that budget because I can do everything based off of statistics. As long as I have access to your Google analytics and your search console, I can see the net effect of what Google’s thinking about your site and what users are thinking about your site and I can do the audit from there. That’s what I would do is the first thing I would do an audit and then it would depend on what needs to be done.
Most customers they don’t even realize this is part of SEO but they need to redesign. The design is terrible. They’ve got like a 2 percent conversion rate. That’s just not going to cut it with Google anymore. Google is not going to send traffic to a site that only converts 2 percent. Other people are converting better. If you’re making an apples-to-apples comparison, if other people are converting better or looks like to Google they’re a better bet to convert better, Google’s going to send that traffic to another site. I need to boost the sales and I need to boost the conversion rate not only just for sales purposes but for SEO purpose as well. That’s usually the second thing we do typically because most customers have a design from 2004 made by their sons, cousins, brothers, uncle or something like that. I think that would just be, brother. Sure if you parse out the logic of that family tree. Anyway the design made by somebody that never thought about user interface, never thought about this thing called click bleed.
I love working with people from affiliate markets because at the very least they know about click bleed. They know the more clicks you throw in there and more scrolling you throw in there, statistically the more people you’re going to lose for making a sale. If you got a thousand eyeballs on that webpage, you should be able to get 600 sales or 700 sales. I’m able to get websites up to 60, 70 percent conversion rate. That’s my goal. Some people would scoff at that number thinking it’s ridiculous. Web conversion rates are classically very often like 2 to 5 percent, but when you’re sending 10, 000 people to the website you can make money on that. But it’s not going to be that way anymore. Google’s not going to tolerate that amount of failure quite frankly to sound Machiavellian about it. Google’s not going to tolerate that amount of that low of a conversion rate anymore because they want to keep the end-user happy, and so it’s not a good bet for them. That’s where the first chunk of that money would go and then anything else depends on what you need. You probably don’t have enough off-site signals. Some technical changes need to be made. We could fix all that in design. Off-site signals we have to take a look at doing some things like that, some advertising, maybe some viral marketing. It depends which hat you like to wear.
Matt Coffy: Is that the total 5000?
Josh Bachynski: Well, it would depend. It depends entirely on n the customer and how much work they need. Some design work could be could be done in that budget. Some design work could not be done in that budget. It depends on how crazy your content management system is. Of course you run into a lot of clients where someone made a custom content management system for them in 1998. Cold fusion or something, right? They don’t know anything about it of course. The client is like “I don’t design and I don’t know anything about web technologies, but I’m running a web business.” That kind of thing. That’s the general area where the first spend would go typically.
Matt Coffy: Then second spend, what would you do in month two once everything’s in alignment?
Josh Bachynski: Month two you need to do off-site signals probably for the most part. It’s pretty basic. Once the site is perfect and set up to convert perfectly and to be doing all that stuff right, I can usually get site to page one back to page one or to page one doing that alone. Then the off-site signals is usually supercilious but not always of course. It depends what your competitors have as well for off-site signals. And so that’s when you have to start looking at the social buzz generation. You have to start looking at getting people talking about you online and social spheres and also in the potential in blogospheres.
Matt Coffy: Gotcha. So now I want to ask you about the strategy we’re performing now for our clients just for a couple of seconds and then we’ll move on to our lightning round, and then we can talk about things you’re up to which are very interesting. I want to hear more about your movie and then we’ll call it a wrap. So for me off-site signaling as I mentioned before our kind of program is based off of building a third-party data recognition, so building all the citation of work so that the stuff is properly set up in the system for not only Google but for all engines to recognize name, the nap story. I think it’s still very important for a lot of customers who haven’t built that yet because the triangulation of all these data points seems to help put things together. Two, I think another off-site solution is to the big branded links which seem to be working for most of the clients that we’ve engaged with where we’re starting to bring up difficult, highly competitive terms back on the page one by doing some really strong branded links from very reputable like Huffington Post type stuff. Three is to do the social piece which is the, as I mentioned before, where we’re building out especially video to post on to the different social channels and with Instagram, Facebook, and whatnot, and Twitter and then build the structure around that so that it kind of counterbalances bringing people to the site because of those social channels bringing people through not direct through Google search but directly through different avenues. And then the fourth part which is more unique to maybe more regional searches which is to put content on the site that discusses regional-related topical relevant searches that would make sense. So just wanted to see what you thought of the efficacy of that strategy. You can throw them all over if you want.
Josh Bachynski: No, no. It sounds generally good like I said if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, and it’s really very impressively abstract sounding, if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, it all depends on how you’re doing it, but yeah that’s the name of the game. I mean you need buzz about you out there. You’re going to you need other people talking about you both in the social sphere and the blogosphere for what little bit the blogosphere still exists. I really focus on the on-site stuff more because I find that it’s less risky. You get better bang for your buck, better bang for your spend, and I can rank sites on that alone. I’ve got sites that have absolutely no social talking about them whatsoever or very little. I’ve got sites that are no links at all anyway, so little bit of social talking about them and no links whatsoever. Zero do follow links and ranking in highly competitive spaces where the impressions are in the hundreds of thousands per month ranking page one, ranking very high top page one, five or above. I’m getting like a CTR click-through rates of like 30, 40, 50 percent and getting conversion rates of 60 or 70 percent, and that’s just all from doing that the selecting the on-page properly in terms of the keywords, in terms of the speed, in terms of the type of site you’re looking for, in terms of the offer. There’s many ways to skin the cat and of course that’s not going to work in every niche for every person, but yeah I mean you definitely need to have the whole fabric put in place.
Matt Coffy: I like it. I like it. All right, let’s get to the lightning round already. Insert sound effect here. So I want you to give me a two or one or two-word phrase for each one of these people I’m going to mention who are in the SEO world. I will go through a lot. I mean there’s a lot of these guys. You can go through this, but I’m going to mention the main ones and I want you to just give me a couple of words. Let’s start with Dan Sullivan.
Josh Bachynski: You want me to explain Dan Sullivan?
Matt Coffy: Just what you think, so what comes to mind. You’re at a cocktail party. Oh Dan Sullivan.
Josh Bachynski: Shrewd conference.
Matt Coffy: Neil Patel.
Josh Bachynski: I don’t know enough about Neil Patel to tell you the truth.
Matt Coffy: Bruce Clay.
Josh Bachynski: White hat top tier.
Matt Coffy: Eric Inch or however you pronounce that last name.
Josh Bachynski: Same deal white hat top-tier.
Matt Coffy: Leodan.
Josh Bachynski: I don’t off about Lee either to make a comment.
Matt Coffy: Aaron Wall.
Josh Bachynski: Aaron Wall. I like you’re Aaron Wall, a lot of what he says. So I’m just going to… Let me check took my two words. Shrewd guy. Let’s put it that way.
Matt Coffy: Bill Slawski.
Josh Bachynski: Diligent researcher.
Matt Coffy: Dan Anton.
Josh Bachynski: I don’t know enough about Dan I don’t think.
Matt Coffy: The OMG group.
Josh Bachynski: OMG indeed. Shrewd marketers.
Matt Coffy: You used shrewd in almost every one of these.
Josh Bachynski: Well it works in many cases.
Matt Coffy: You know I have to ask this last one. Barry Schwartz.
Josh Bachynski: Google patsy.
Matt Coffy: Makes me laugh. So now let’s talk about you because we’re going to wrap up here. We’ve been on for quite a while, and believe me I could do this every week and ask you probably more questions that you’d be interested in. But for the sake of just try not to give someone the two hour-long podcast that they won’t listen. Movie. Where is it? What’s going on? Can I see it? Should I buy popcorn? What’s the story?
Josh Bachynski: So here’s a story. So last year I started making a movie called Don’t Be Evil: Google’s Secret War. It’s a documentary documenting the lives of five or six small businesses that have been affected by Google’s recent changes. The movie has been shot. It’s been edited. It’s been through post-production. It’s about 99.9 percent complete. I’m now just really going through the legal phases. I’m trying to find distributors to buy the movie. If you know anyone who likes to buy documentaries, give me a call. I just hired a sales agent and I’m going through the distribution channels of trying to find a big distributor. I’m aiming for Netflix or Hulu or something like that along those lines, maybe the documentary channel on cable. Who knows? I’m open to any kind of those kinds of offers. It’s a very high quality film. It was done professionally by my producer in New York and my director in New York who also they do commercials for Mercedes and Denny’s and McDonald’s, some very high-quality. It’s a good film. I’ve had the test screenings. All the reviews were extremely positive. Yes you can see it. I can send you. I have a secret copy. I could mail to you or something along those lines where you can see it. Mr. Coffee. I’m not letting the general public view it yet, just select industry professional, select people in the industry either in the SEO industry or in the movie industry. I’m also just dotting I’s and cross the t’s with my entertainment lawyer right now. I’m just making sure that everything is above board so that when Google sees it they have they have little ability to sue my pants off. There’s nothing to stop Google from starting something. They can do anything they want whether it’s going to throw in a quarter or not. But there’s no reason for that to occur. There’s no reason why that should occur. It’s a documentary. I’ve cited all my sources. Everything else is other people’s opinions. We should be covered on our free speech in both Canada and the US. It’s just basically the life story or a short life story and the general what’s going on with Google right now and what we think is good about it and what we think needs to change about it.
Matt Coffy: Yeah I heard it was rated R for business carnage and also some slight nude scenes with Matt Cutts. I understand it was very difficult.
Josh Bachynski: Those didn’t get make post. We had to cut those to cut those in post. Itwe must’ve been cold that day. That was a joke.
Matt Coffy: Yeah I know.
Josh Bachynski: There are no nude scenes of myself of Matt Cutts or anybody else for that matter unfortunately.
Matt Coffy: I got you.
Josh Bachynski: It is definitely rated R for business carnage. As you can tell by the title, Don’t Be Evil: Google’s Secret War, there’s always a casualty in war and it’s usually the little guys. That is detailed to a great degree and I think it’s going to open a lot of eyes. I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people about what’s going on, even people in the industry about what’s really going on with Google, and yeah I can’t wait for people to see it. So hopefully it should be out in a few months, maybe half a year. I’m really now trying to get a major distributor for this. People just need to hold tight and it’s coming.
Matt Coffy: Last thing here. You had a great TEDx speaking event. Was it on the moon or Jupiter? I can’t remember what?
Josh Bachynski: It was in the Northern Ireland. It was in the Northern Ireland. It was in Omagh, the town and that was last year in November.
Matt Coffy: People want to get in touch with you. I mean we’ve had our go back sand fourth. What’s the best way? Obviously YouTube. You’re very omnipresent in YouTube. If you go yes type in Josh’s name in to YouTube and basically just thousands or I don’t know how many, lots of videos.
Josh Bachynski: If you type in SEO in YouTube I should come up. I haven’t checked recently but for quite some time I’ve dominated the search for SEO in YouTube.
Matt Coffy: Cool. But if people want to contact you, hire you, bring you for their kids’ birthday party, what’s the best thing they should do?
Josh Bachynski: The best thing is always email me. So my email address is just my names firstname.lastname@example.org. And yes email and we can definitely chat.
Matt Coffy: Yeah that’s cool and I really appreciate your time today. Josh. It’s been wonderful. I can’t actually wait to do it again. Maybe we could circle back in six months or a year and see what things have changed and we’ll find more of those pork business owners who have had their cat build their website which has happened by the way.
Josh Bachynski: Right, right. Yeah yeah.
Matt Coffy: Alright. Thanks, Josh.
Josh Bachynski: It’s my pleasure, brother.
Matt Coffy: Good. Thanks. We’ll wrap this up and I’ll probably have it posted within about five days or so, usually by Monday I would think it would be up and running.
Josh Bachynski: Cool.
Matt Coffy: Drop it into the podcast. I’ll give it a kick with a Facebook and boost it and all good. All good. I think you and I are good team. I could be the replacement for Barry. I can be the bad guy like I’m the bad SEO guy. You’re the good one, so you’re the white hat now.
Josh Bachynski: It’s mostly true actually.
Matt Coffy: I know. There’s nothing really left to do.
Josh Bachynski: Yeah not safely I mean depends. I guess philosophically I’m black hat, but practically when it comes out I’m mostly white hat because quite frankly I don’t have a team of programmers sitting there waiting to hack sort of Google every day.
Matt Coffy: It just amazes me what I’m seeing in the field now. I’m so glad I’m a good guy because there’s a lot of naughty things you can do today to really replicate.
Josh Bachynski: Oh yeah. Yeah tell me about it. I know it’s getting pretty bad. All right, Matt.
Matt Coffy: Take care, man.
Josh Bachynski: Thanks a lot.
Matt Coffy: I’ll let you know when this is up and you can just drop it whatever where you want to put it, your feeds and stuff like that.
Josh Bachynski: Yeah I certainly will do.
Matt Coffy: I might pick you up for one of these deals where I have to do an on-site pressure because might want to see if we can get you involved in some of our projects because they’re starting to get a little bigger and I think that’s where your budget would make sense.
Josh Bachynski: Sure, okay. Makes sense.
Matt Coffy: Take care.
Josh Bachynski: Alright talk to you soon.