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What SEO Tools are worth using?

The one question that I had to start us of is, there are a lot of tools and you just mentioned there about you know business owners maybe not understanding where their that website is performing or whether they’re getting a return… What would be the two or three tools that you would suggest that business owners sign up to today and trust? Yeah, well you have to look at where the data is coming from… so there is an inside world and there is an outside world, if you like, so the tools that have data that you can trust, if you like, are the tools that come from Google. There’s no shying away from the fact that Google own the vast majority of search traffic.

I think so said 85%? Yeah, it was 85% the book sometimes that’s up sometimes it’s down and you know I think champagne corks pop you know if Bing ever get over double digits and there are other search engines out there but the reality is that you know for the majority of users in the UK particularly if you’re talking to consumers the majority will go to Google. What’s left yeah the occasional person you know goes goes elsewhere, probably because they installed something that changed the default search and they don’t how to change it back again. My dad! Why are you on Yahoo? I don’t know… nobody knows! So you’ve got tools like Google Analytics Google search console they expose as much data short as you’re going to get.

Whatever is the high-water mark the amount of data you’re gonna get from Google? It’s in those tools everything else is looking from the outside in, it’s building its own index and comparing it to what happens at Google. It’s looking at where you rank based on doing test searches or, you know, going through API’s and then it’s making its own conclusions from that. So it’s not so much about looking at the tool that the data it has, but do you trust interpretation of that too? So you get things like Domain Authority which was something Moz invented that’s a metric that they calculate and that some people absolutely swear by other people say “Nah, it’s rubbish” And Moz is one of those tools… Yeah so Moz and SEM Rush are probably the two big names in that space right now and as I say, yes, domain authority was created by Moz who this concept of domain authority.

The idea being it was about trust you know? How trustworthy… how authoritative literally is this domain. Based on content, based on backlinks, and based on how they could see it performing. Now, some people swear by DA. You’ll see people selling domains and they’ll you I’ve got this domain authority, that domain Authority on there, the da score. Other people say it’s nonsense, it’s meaningless, don’t worry about it, it’s not important. So that’s another big problem, not only with the tools but with the industry that we’re all on the outside looking in, trying to find evergreen things that will always work and always be good and then of course you’ve got the kind of blackhat side of the world of people looking to game the index from a trick, trying to trick Google. I always find it quite hilarious really that there seems to every pub in the land seems to have an SEO expert who’s cleverer than the literal army of phd’s you know that Google have at their disposal. It’s alright ’cause Frank? Frank made a lot money on the internet.

He knows all about it. It’s a little bit of a… it’s a bit ridiculous and I think sometimes for certain people to say I’ve actually, you know, I figured it out. It would border on the miraculous. But also Google is ever-changing? Well it is and that’s the thing so anytime when something happens where people actually do this is this is the life cycle of a Google hack if you like… Somebody finds something that works, they immediately put it onto their blog and try and get themselves on to Search Engine Land saying “I found this and this works really well” if they’re right if they found a gap in the algorithm how long until it gets how long’s until Google go “oh hang on a minute yeah! If you put cheddar cheddar cheddar at the bottom of a page it goes to number one… Who knew? We don’t know! Fix it!” And of course so many things are being done by things like RankBrain done by AI anyway… You know? So the index is always self optimizing you know changing itself so it’s a little bit ludicrous part my core theory or the core ethos in the book is…

Don’t look at what people are doing but look at what they’re trying to achieve. Now what Google are trying to do is give every person who asked them a question the best possible answer, because that’s how they hold on to the users. Users click on ads. Ads add… revenue! So it’s a simple model in that respect. So they are always looking to give the best answer. So, if your plan is to be the best answer…

Whatever you’re doing, strategically, you should always be more or less in line with it. So, if you’ve got a site about… jam? Don’t delve into a million bits of of trickery or fringe cases trying to nip and tuck an extra little bit just look at your website and say “How do I be the best jam site in the world?” How do I do that? How do I make it the most usable? How do I make it the fastest? How do I make it the most compelling? What do people want to know about jam that I can tell them no one else in the world can? Well… that well obviously be the first answer wouldn’t it? So, it’s almost a leap of faith…

It’s a trust thing… trust that Google will put the best answer at the top and then be the best answer. So it’s a difficult place to go because it’s much easier to jump onto your Search Engine Land, your Search Engine Journal to look at all the news feeds and say “Ah someone says if I arrange my metadata like this it’ll be better!” and that’s probably true…

It will probably help but it’s diminishing returns over time. There are some things I come up with in the book where if you get them wrong they’re so fundamental that fixing them is a really really great idea but from my experience and from my perspective you fairly quickly run out of that stuff and you can get very obsessed with “I need to have this little bit of data and that little bit of data” and then you do it and then you look at your stats after a month, two months, three months, and you know? You don’t see… you’re not seeing anything significant. Whereas if you did something that would benefit a customer in the use of the site you may well have seen an increase there. So it does require a little bit of trust and faith but it’s faith in yourself and your own brand… that you are good at what you do and I think that, you know, as opposed to trying to operate this arcane machine with your eyes one hand tied behind your back? It’s kind of like the parable of the blind men and the elephant..

Yeah! You know one says oh it feels like a snake and one says oh it feels it’s big its flattened it says oh no it’s like it’s a tree .

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