Growth Hacking Interview Series #13: Neil Patel
Neil Patel is one of the most well known voices in the SEO world, working alongside big companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom.
In this interview Neil will highlight the importance of content marketing in setting the standard for achieving great rankings.
Hi Neil, great to meet you! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you became to be involved with the SEO industry?
My name is Neil Patel and I am a serial entrepreneur. I’ve started a few software companies such as Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. I blog at Quick Sprout and I enjoy helping people out.
I got my start in the SEO industry when I wanted to learn how to drive traffic to my own site. I paid a few consultants and they didn’t do so well… eventually I figured out how to do it on my own.
How do you personally keep up to date with the latest in SEO? It’s an ever changing industry so SEO consultants by nature need to be on the ball – how do you achieve this?
I just read and never stop practicing. That’s the key to be a good marketer and SEO.
There have been a lot of algorithm changes from Google over the last year. I am sure that you’ve had many potential clients come to you with ranking issues due to past SEO practices they might have undertaken. Do you have any top-level advice for people who have seen their websites take a dramatic hit recently, or incurred a penalty?
The key is to not focus on SEO.
If you create extremely good content, build up your social profiles and build a good product/service… eventually you will start gaining traction and increase your rankings.
This is also an easy way to avoid algorithm issues.
What sets your SEO practice apart from the competition? Are there any unique aspects to your consultancy that gives you a competitive advantage?
It focuses on content marketing. I know content marketing isn’t new, but most companies still aren’t leveraging it.
If you were talking to client in your local area who was unsure about the benefits that local SEO can bring to a business, what would be the key components of your pitch to them in order to convince them?
I would ask them how Google made the majority of their money. Once they said ads, I would tell them that roughly 70% of their traffic goes to free listings and not ads.
So if you can get your site to rank high, you can make a lot of money… as more people click on those organic listings than ads.
For any beginners to SEO, what advice would you give them? It could be anything from how to set the business up, to winning business, or just some plain motivational advice.
I would have them read this guide: http://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-seo/
During your career as an SEO consultant what has been your favourite or most interesting project that you’ve worked on?
It has always been my own sites. I am more passionate about my own projects than other peoples’. For this reason I rarely do consulting anymore.
Are there any other websites or online projects that you want to tell our readers about – or perhaps any social channels or things you are working on currently?
I just released a consulting service, which can be found here: http://neilpatel.com/consulting/
I’m not taking on too many projects unless they are extremely fun and interesting.
How do you view content in SEO as a leverage in providing relevant search results and as a way of doing link-building in the advent of the recent changes in Googles Algorithm and penalization of Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest?
I think content is the main way to build links this way. My Blog Guest was a way to quickly manipulate this… which is why it got penalized.
But if you take your time to write really good content, eventually you will gain backlinks and rank higher. The key is to avoid manipulating Google’s algorithm.
What do you think of Google’s approach to SEO? Are they being helpful by launching the disavow tool or do you think that this only gives more credence to negative SEO?
Google’s approach is to show what users want to see at the top. What benefits you the most is what they want to show.
Tools like the disavow are helpful and are helpful to fight negative SEO. Google is trying to do their best to help make a webmaster’s job easier.
What is the fastest way to generate backlinks?
Through content marketing. Writing guides or creating infographics is a simple way to build up more traffic.
What is the best quick fix way in optimizing your website for SEO?
There is no quick fix. SEO is about the small details and it takes a lot of work.
How do you measure your SEO success for a particular campaign?
You base it on total search traffic and total revenue coming from search. If it continually increases, you are doing a good job.
What project that you’ve handled that gave you a hard time in optimizing yet you came out successful afterwards?
A lot of projects. Almost all of them as none of them were easy. It takes a lot of hard work to gain rankings and maintain them.