Growth Hacking Interview Series #21: Dennis Seymour
I was able to come across Dennis after he commented in one of my posts with regards to Why A Number Of SEO Companies In the Philippines Folded after his comment I decided to read more about his thoughts on SEO and from then on I became an avid follower.
Calling myself fortunate to have been able to interview Dennis and feature him here would be an understatement.
So without further ado, I give you Dennis Seymour and his thoughts on SEO.
There has been reports of Google not being moral see: http://www.seroundtable.com/google-ethics-penalty-18489.html for penalizing webmasters what is your view on this?
This topic has been thrown around for years and what has happened? Nothing. Nobody can do anything against it.
Personally, I don’t really care. They can do what they want. SEO is basically illegal in Google’s terms so there’s nothing we can do about that.
All us SEO’s can only just continue to experiment, test what works, keep getting better at crunching stats and receive the benefits we can get from them.
They get their targeted content and high quality user experience. We get their traffic and make money off it. Win win.
The only thing that I think can be changed is the penalty caused by links. By now, I’m pretty sure Google has an algorithm to tell the difference between manipulative links.
It can simply just ignore manipulative links using the “algorithm” -> rank a website based on its links that pass the filter. It’s more efficient and it’ll be better long term for everyone.
If you were given the chance to create a search engine like Google how would you approach it?
Whoah, this is both easy and tough.
Easy because I will simply build it like what it is now, they got the best minds in the world and they lead the market for a reason.
When you think “Hey, they haven’t thought about how to stop those hackers injecting links to edu sites to rank their, umm, lawn care websites!”
Wrong. They probably have a 150 page white paper about it already internally.
They’ve already figured out solutions and documented everything you can think of.
They just won’t implement it yet as it has to go through processes, patents, more studies, etc. Much like other billion dollar companies.
The only thing I would change are some policies. I would actually work with China first of all.
Data will be limited but I will adapt to the local needs there. Look at Facebook sucking up to China recently. Because the business there is humongous!
Privacy is the big thing recently. DuckDuckGo has been pretty impressive and they are doing a lot of things right.
Bing has gotten a bit better the past couple of months. I could steal one of their ideas…or two.
It would seem that nowadays businesses that has a bigger budget has more chances of ranking in Google based on the recent linkbuilding survey of Skyrocket in Moz. How do you think businesses with very small budgets approach this dilemma?
I’m assuming other respondents said “content marketing/inbound marketing/influencer marketing/link baits” here (which are all correct) so I’ll take a different route.
That survey is correct.
The bigger players will have a big advantage over the SMBs. That’s just FACT. More money = more links = higher rankings. (Don’t throw tomatoes at me die hard content guys. )
What they can do is to actually grow their brand. Make Google understand that your brand is about that anchor text or niche.
Link building using LSI (for old schools here) or “semantic/co-citations” or WHATEVER they want to call it nowadays = that is the key to beating these big players.
I ranked a site for highly competitive terms simply because of a brand. No link building at all. Probably a couple no-follows from a forum. So it can work.
The tradeoff? It takes a ton of time but it has been faster lately with Freebase and structured data.
If you were given the chance to head the spam team of Google what would you change or improve upon?
Nothing. Matt has done a pretty good job covering a lot of obvious things.
Well, just one thing… I would lessen the vagueness of my answers a bit.
I’m all for the Google propaganda machine. I’ll still say that manipulative links and PBN’s are going to get killed off.
It filters out a lot of new players. Less SEO’s to deal with.
What is the fastest way to earn in SEO that works 100% all the time? (ex: affiliate marketing, CPA, Service provider)
Timeframe? Let’s say 1 week.
Start a blog. Offer a service to post on your blog on Fiverr. You link back to them, you earn $3+. Does that count?
Post Mayday > Pre-Panda, back then it was definitely the easiest to sell services. Affiliate marketing, CPA offers, product creation and list building all were really easy to use SEO on as well.
Nowadays, the same things apply.
Keyword Research -> Put up a site -> SEO -> Improve the Site -> Improve the offer -> Funnel -> etc.
It’s just harder to do SEO the easy way.
If I were to pick one thing that works 100% of the time, it has to be a blog. I would never just recommend a 2 page site offering an affiliate product.
People underestimate “blogs” because it’s a ton of work, but 100% of the time, you can earn there.
Put up a blog, put a couple pieces of content, put Adsense there and you’ll get a click. Yey, you earned 10 cents! Not a lot but it worked didn’t it?
Kidding aside, it also has one of the bigger potentials.
You can branch off to offering affiliate marketing, product creation, offering your own affiliate program, all the while you are building a money making list + you are learning more SEO + gaining more referral traffic from the relationships you build through time.
How do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Retired. Aiming for 5 years, pero parang malabo. LOL.
What is the major flaw of SEO’s nowadays?
- Closed-minded(ness) – some just follow what they read on blogs. They simply believe what the influencers say.
- Basic understanding – many just think links linkSSS linksssss LINKSSSS – but understanding the whole concept of SEO and how it works as a whole, that will take them to the next level.
- Simply refusing to change with the times like these guys.
- SEO training problem – talked about it more on that guest post. (this post will be live next week)
If you weren’t an SEO what would you be today?
I’m actually doing other stuff besides SEO so I’m not really just an SEO.
I’ll probably be a VC. I love startups. I love seeing companies built up and be successful.
Google is leaning more towards Mobile SEO with the disappearance of author photos in searches, how should SEO’s nowadays approach SEO given its more competitive nature to begin with?
Since you mentioned mobile, it’s simple. Rank #1 OR pay for PPC. Anything lower won’t yield big enough results.
Back to the question, I don’t really think mobile had anything to do with Google Authorship dying.
I could say SEO’s should just practice on-page SEO, learn how to bait for links, learn how to create link worthy content assets and so on.
But you know what? SEO’s should start with the basics.
By understanding the basics (in whatever subject) you learn more and advance faster.
You get to discover a whole lot more (and understand situations) as you have perfect understanding of the basics.
It’s like any math subject and let’s say you are discussing a problem.
You can either memorize a pattern of how to solve it, which we tend to do in school here in the Philippines or you can create your own solutions, which means you understood the concept.
If you have been in the field for a while, you already know that going back to the basics = it works.
You should never stop learning but you should never stop looking at things and learning them from the ground up. It’s how you will develop even better skills.
Can you suggest any book, video, person, website that keeps you inspired in doing SEO?
I read a lot of books but not about SEO.
Good to Great, 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, Seth Godin books, all Tim Ferriss books (yeah, even the 4 hour body), Rich Dad Poor Dad (only the first 1 is good) – E-Myth (only mastery) – Personal MBA, all the @garyvee books.
Lots of them are really awesome. Try to read 1 book a week or a month.
Pro Tip: Blinklist + Audiobooks during travel periods.
You can really only read so much when it comes to books about SEO. The rest, you go out and learn by yourself.
For the rest like blogs and industry people, take a look at the next question.
Can you point us to the best SEO case studies that you ever encountered?
I can’t recall everything, I read daily and I’ve read a lot of case studies over the years so I’ll just point out some people.
Razvan from http://cognitiveseo.com/ does some great research and case studies. Love them.
One of the more recent ones on Moz
was also cool.
Matthew Barby does a lot of great case studies like this:
http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/ – AJ doesn’t really say it’s a case study but most of his posts are based off his tests. This is the same with Jason Acidre who has enough links coming from this blog Haha!
Glen does a lot of great posts http://www.viperchill.com/ – I love their honesty.
Charles is a firestarter http://godofseo.ca/ – I love his transparency and his work.
Jon Cooper from http://pointblankseo.com is also getting into the mix again now. Brian from http://backlinko.com is basically a case study site at the moment and you just wait for each post to come out. It’s prett awesome.
There are a LOT of them!
With regards to Social Media just how much power do you think it has to replace traditional link-building techniques?
Not much. I don’t think it ever will.
You could get a better chance using Google+ with personalized search or when you are logged on to your Google account.
Aside from that, it’s pretty worthless. Those that contradict this, be honest please.
Could you give me a list of SEO tools that you can’t live without?
- Any standalone App that could work on a Mac is usually good
- Screaming Frog
- A keyword tool like Market Samurai or Keyword Researcher
- Rank Tracker from Link Assistant
- Testing out URLprofiler now. Looks superb.
BuzzStream is definitely a must.
I’ve been with Moz a long time and I love the recent updates.
Ahrefs or Majestic – depends on the project scope since Webmaster tools is sometimes enough.
Link Research Tools was good but I’ve cancelled my subscription.
Quillengage is amazing for people like me that need to see the big picture for each site at the start of each week.
I can’t look at everything deeply every week but this makes things really easy for me.
Does Webmaster Tools and Analytics count? If they do, those are required.
If we went back to the stone age of the internet, with no softwares and web apps, Webmaster tools in its current form alone can give you a huge SEO advantage.
Can you tell me your biggest failure in an SEO project?
I lost a site with 50k traffic weekly…because I was young and naive. Got hit by Panda + Penguin + a manual penalty.
Crazy. I just got it back recently. Thank you Penguin 3 (or 6).
In what areas of SEO are you strongest? And In what areas of SEO are you weakest?
Strategy and On-Page work. I can also spot technical issues a mile away so that’s another one.
Off-Page work is probably my weakest simply because it’s tedious for me. I’m a pretty laid back guy but I value my time a lot.
My outreach success rate is pretty good but I prefer to defer off-page work to someone that can really focus on it.
It’s pretty hard to train empathy though. That’s also why it’s rare for me to write about link building.
Doing link building for years will get you to this point but it’s still fun for me from time to time.
That’s it! I hope I answered everything to your standards.
I added some links in anchors already. For the others, you can fix it up na lang as you see fit as you might not like the naked URLs showing in the body of the article.
I could’ve added some swears in there but PG muna.
Thank you for the opportunity Floyd.