[00:00:00] Hi everyone. It's Olga Zarr from SEO Sly. This is SEO podcast by SEO Sly. I am very happy today to have a very special guest. This is Cyrus. Cyrus, how are you doing?
[00:00:16] Uh, hello. I'm, I'm very well. Happy to be here. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. I don't think you are this type of guest who really needs an introduction. I, I, I'm pretty sure everyone in the SEO world knows you, but if you were to summarize yourself in like one sentence, what would you say? Uh, sometimes, uh, I used to be called the emcee of, uh, SEO Twitter, but I don't think that's true anymore.
[00:00:41] Uh, I, I'm a long time. SEO, I worked for Moz for many years back when it was SEO Moz and then Moz, uh, doing a lot of content and, uh, study of Google's algorithm. Uh, today I'm an independent SEO and I, I try to make news on social media channels, uh, doing silly things, uh, with experimentation and, uh, just loving SEO and talking to people like you.
[00:01:09] So it's a good life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a good life. Totally. Okay, so I want to get to know your story more in more detail. I know it more or less, but I would like to know more. So let's move back in time to the very, very beginnings. Like when did you start SEO and basically what brought you to end into SEO?
[00:01:30] Yeah, like a lot of people in SEO, I came into SEO by Accident. Uh, I was building websites, you know, uh, learning H T M l H T M L. I had a book on c s s, you know, and I was building these websites and they weren't, they weren't that great. Uh, but I didn't know how to market them. And so I was looking into everything, a ad words, affiliate programs, things like that.
[00:01:52] And I stumbled upon SEO O and I'm like, Oh my gosh. A, it's free. And two, there's, there's, there's no sales process involved. I can, I can build content and people can come to me when they need answers. And I just fell in love with that immediately. Uh, and so my first paid job was, uh, for my wife's company. I went in and I told them, Hey, you're doing, you're doing all these things wrong.
[00:02:16] Here's some things you can do. And they're like, great. We'd like to hire you. I'm like, Oh no, no. No, you, I don't know anything about SEO. And they're like, well, you know more than we do. Uh, so why don't we just pay you? I'm like, oh, okay. And so that was my first paid gig and we did very well. And then shortly after, uh, I started working, uh, customer service for SEO Moz, this company in town, just down the street from me in Seattle.
[00:02:40] And, uh. Back, back in those days, they were the biggest SEO company in the world. Everybody knew SEO Moz and within a few short months, they promoted me to lead SEO, and then I, that was my dream job. I was doing SEO for SEO Moz, uh, and I had imposter syndrome. I'm like, there's no way I can, I'm good enough that I can do this, but it all worked out over the years.
[00:03:03] And, and. My career just continued after that. And how many years was it? Uh, when, when, when was it? And for how long were you at Moz? I started in, I started at Moz in 2010 and I worked there three different times. I kept quitting and coming back because I love the company. Uh, I left for the last time in.
[00:03:24] 2021, I think, uh, so I was there about 10 or 11 years overall. Okay. Okay. And can you talk about some of the experiments you were doing there? Yeah. Some of the nice things you can share. Yeah. So it's, it's funny to talk about, you know, old stuff, the history. Uh, yeah. It's fun for me, but it's not. People today doing SEO, it's, it's not always as relevant and I don't want to sound like a dinosaur, but back in the day, uh, you know, so I, I worked, I worked with Rand Fishkin, uh, who used to be a big name in SEO.
[00:03:59] Now he does start Toro and he's still, he's still very recognized, but he started, uh, he started correlation studies, uh, the, the first big. Google ranking factor studies of the day. And they weren't perfect. Uh, they weren't, they weren't perfect studies, but they were at the time, they were the best that we had.
[00:04:19] And they were, they were the, the only deep dive into Google ranking factors that we had. And so every couple of years we, we would, we would dive into these, these ranking factors. And I was usually the project manager, uh, for these studies, working with the data scientists. And, you know, it was, it was a really fun job over the years.
[00:04:36] We, we kind of got away from the ranking factors and we started doing more individual. Testing individual factors. Uh, I remember one time, uh, there's, we had this tool called follower wonk, uh, which it was just sold recently. And we decided what would happen if we de indexed follower wonk, you know, it was getting, you know, millions of visits a month where let's de index it and see how quickly the traffic comes back.
[00:04:59] And so we got to do these crazy experiments that no other business would do, uh, just because we're like, Hey, it's for SEO. We have to do it. And. So we got to do a lot of crazy experiments lately. I've been doing experiments that maybe, maybe we want to talk a little bit about with, um, anchor text with internal linking, uh, title tags, uh, uh, things like that.
[00:05:20] Um, but yeah, I love, I love XCO experimentation. Okay. So I would definitely want to learn more about those experiments you mentioned, but, um, for people who maybe haven't, haven't really done any SEO experiments, how would a good proper SEO experiment, um, would look like? What should it include? How should we even approach it?
[00:05:45] Like in the most like, uh, simple way. Yeah. So first of all, I, I would, I would encourage people. Not to do proper experimentation, uh, because it's really, it's really hard. And you know, when you're just starting out in SEO, I think you should just play a little bit and you should make mistakes and you should be really sloppy.
[00:06:04] Uh, so, you know, one, the simplest experiment you can do in SEO is just go through your, look at your title tags. Get some data to see if you have keywords in your title tags and rewrite your title tags, submit it via search console to force a crawl and see if your traffic goes up and down. It's, it's not scientific, but that's how I got started.
[00:06:27] And I still do that. I still do that to this day. Um, if you want to get a little more scientific, you can test a portion of your title tags, you know, test 10 of them as your experimental. Experimental group, you have 10 in the control. You can use a tool like SEO testing by our friend Nick Swan. That's a pretty easy tool that uses search console to, you know, track your results.
[00:06:49] But, but something like that, just making small changes and seeing if they work. Um, and that's kind of how you learn SEO. After that, you can get, you can get bigger and bigger and do A B split testing. Um, our friends at search pilot do something like that. But I don't think you need. Sophisticated methodology to get started.
[00:07:07] Uh, especially if you're not, especially if you're doing it for yourself and you're not publishing your results for the rest of the SEO industry. Uh huh. Uh huh. And what about those tests? Because this, these are the types of tests I used to do back in the day when I was at the agency, we would like create 10 gibberish websites about with, with, with non nonsense words and we'll, we'll try to, try to, for example, determine if we put some keyword here or, and there, which one would rank.
[00:07:37] find value in those types of tests where, where we actually can only like maybe test one thing, but we don't have those other tons of factors in play, which usually are when we test with normal sites. Like, do you think there is value to that? Yeah. I love those tests. Uh, they are very, you know, they're very hard to set up because you're setting up.
[00:07:59] You're trying to eliminate all the variables. Um, I just shared a test like that, uh, by our friends by Reboot Online, where they tested AI written content and they had. They had, I don't know how, five websites, five whole websites with AI written content and five websites with human written content, very similar side by side.
[00:08:19] And the human written content did that much better than the AI written content. But, it's hard to eliminate all the variables. Uh, but I, I love those tests because, um, they're hard to do and they're as scientific as we get. Um, and also if you're running those tests, they make great content for the SEO world that you can publish and be popular and, uh, uh, people learn.
[00:08:43] And then Google weighs in like, ah, we don't learn very much from those. Uh, but yeah, they're, they're, they're lots of fun. Yeah. But mine are very, very old ones. Maybe I will create a new one someday. Okay, and talking about your title, uh, title link, uh, experiment test. Can you share more, uh, more about this? I, I, I know it, but I'm pretty sure someone who, who hasn't heard about it would like to, to, to learn because this was, I remember, super interesting.
[00:09:13] So were we, are we talking about, uh, the title tags? The title, title text. Yes, I, I think this was the one, yeah, I recently, uh, watched on YouTube, if I remember correctly. They posted something from, I think, two years ago from some conference. Or am I confusing something? We did a couple studies on title tags.
[00:09:37] Yeah. So. And whichever one. Yeah. Yeah. So I used to have this tool. I no longer have it. Uh, uh, I, I tried my, I tried my hand at the start. We can talk about that if you want. I tried my hand at the startup world after I left Moz. I wanted my own as a software company. Yeah, totally. And, uh, so we launched, I, I partnered with, uh, somebody I used to work with and we launched this tool that would rewrite your title tags.
[00:10:04] Uh, and we had a, yeah. Really, it's really hard to come up with an algorithm to rewrite your title tags, which we found out, but we, we did it. Uh, and if you implemented it, you can see an increase in traffic, like 15, 20%. Uh, but not, not on all of your URLs. Some of your URLs would actually go down and you'd have to go in and manually, uh, adjust them to, to our recommendations.
[00:10:28] Uh, that, that startup didn't work out very well. Uh, I, I had some, I had some, uh, some, I learned some lessons about the startup world. Uh, very, very hard. Uh, so now I can you share them briefly as well. Well, yeah. Uh, I mean, the tool was working and we were making, we were making a little bit of money and, and everything was well, but the partnership, uh, didn't, didn't always work out and we had some, we had some tough.
[00:10:55] Tough times with the business relationship and they, they say when you're, when you're launching a startup with a partner, uh, picking your partner is the most important thing. And, and I can't say a lot because of the agreements I signed confidentiality agreements, but we just butted heads all the time.
[00:11:13] And waking up for work was not fun after a while. Oh. And, uh, that, I've never had that before. And we, we just, we just couldn't, we just couldn't make it work. So I sold the, I sold the business to him. And I got to keep Zippy, my website, uh, as part of the agreement. So, so that worked for me. Okay. But, yeah, you wanted to talk about the title tags.
[00:11:32] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, totally. Uh, so we did, we did a couple of experiments. Uh, we, we launched this tool shortly after Google started rewriting title tags. So, if you're listening, any new listener, uh, uh, to the podcast, you know that you have your title, your title element, and Google will display something often very different in the, in the SERPs.
[00:11:57] Uh, they'll just pick something that they think is, is well. Back in the old days, you and I know that we used to write titles and Google would just display whatever title you wrote. Uh, and that's, that's what you want. You want Google to display exactly what you wrote. Uh, so I think our first study, we, we, uh, dived into how Google was rewriting title tags and gave, gave a bunch of hints to, um, people to stop Google from rewriting the title tag.
[00:12:22] And the number one way we found was that if you're. Uh, H1, your, your main header on the page, match your title. Google was like 70 percent less likely to rewrite it. Oh, okay. Which is still like, I think, standard advice these days. Uh, so that's one of the first things we found. We also, we also found that our data showed that shorter title tags tended to perform better.
[00:12:47] Not all, and this is a controversial topic. Some people like writing really, really long title tags. Uh, but we found that scientifically 55 to 65 characters tended to get more traffic than titles that were either shorter or longer. So those were our two big, uh, title tag studies. Okay, and any thoughts on creating, like, the title that is basically, for example, made of 10 titles you can create with different variations of your keywords, depending on, because your, your home, your homepage, for example, may be searched for, it may be relevant for different keywords.
[00:13:25] And if you want to increase your chances and your relevance, uh, for all those keywords, let's say you create 10 different titles, just divide them with hyphen, for example, you put it there. And then is there, uh, from your, um, experience, is there a higher chance that Google will, for example, display this element, which is relevant for that given query, or it will just mix things up and just confuse Google?
[00:13:52] Like, That is a very excellent question with a very difficult answer. And, and the answer, the answer is it depends. Yeah. And when we, when we dove into the data on this very varied question, uh, what we found is it varies depending on what keywords you rank for. And if you rank, if you rank for some terms and you can usually find this out in search console, if you rank for some terms with some very high volume that just beat all the other keywords to death, uh, just one North star keyword.
[00:14:27] That strategy does not work very well, uh, because it dilutes your ranking for that, that North Star keyword. But if your, if your rankings are more flat, you rank for lots of keywords very evenly, and more of a long tail, uh, that strategy does work. So it really depends on what keywords you're already ranking for, if that's, if that's going to work for you.
[00:14:47] Here's an example. Uh huh. So Moz had this tool called, um, Oh, metric. You've all heard of domain authority. Uh, domain authority is a Moz metric. So we used to, we have this page. We had this page on Moz with domain authority and we'd put different things in the title, like domain authority, Moz's metric to measure the authority of your website.
[00:15:09] And that worked fine. Uh, but we only really ranked for one keyword and that was domain authority. And so when we shortened the title tag down to just two words, domain authority, our rankings went up. Um, because we were just targeting that, those very two specific keywords, uh, that doesn't work for every page, but on that page specifically, all of our keywords were domain authority.
[00:15:32] So we focus the keywords and, and it worked really well. Oh, that's interesting because, because so far, like for the most part of my, of my career, I was mostly like, I was, I was, I was creating those short, short, short titles just with the main keywords and maybe the brand name. And recently I was, I, I started to like experimenting with making them longer and I'm still kind of, um, yet to see maybe some conclusive results for me.
[00:16:03] Yeah. Yeah. I love to tell people sometimes that works. So you just have to try it and see, and sometimes you can make your keyword, your titles really, really super long and you see an increase in traffic because, because of the situation. So yeah, if you only get to choose one. Title, uh, you know, 55 to 65 characters, keywords to the front, use an excitement word, amazing, uh, use a number, use a dash, you know, something like that.
[00:16:32] Okay, okay, I'll make a quote of that and put it somewhere. Okay, cool. And your other experiment regarding internal links. I watched this one. Okay. And what I remember from it the most is that you said that it you shouldn't be using like the same keywords, anchor text all over your, uh, your website. And this is something I have been doing for a long time.
[00:16:59] And I want you to like, talk about it, expand on it. Sure. So I'll go into a little bit of detail. So I think most people understand that links are a ranking factor. And most people also understand that external links, links from other websites. Uh, Generally help you more than your own internal links. And, you know, this is because Google realizes that you can link to yourself over and over again.
[00:17:24] And so, you know, you can manipulate that. Um, but I love internal links for exactly that reason. Because you can, you can control it yourself. You can control your anchor text.
[00:17:39] Thousands of domains, millions of links, uh, Can you, sorry, can you repeat the last sentence? Because you froze. Oh, I'm sorry, so we did this, uh, we did this huge study of thousands of, I think 1800 websites, 1, 800 websites and something millions and millions of internal links and thousands of pages. And we had all their data in Google search console.
[00:18:04] So we can see exactly what they ranked for. And we can see exactly how many internal links they had pointing to each page. And what we found was. And it wasn't surprising that the more internal links you had to every page, uh, you tend to rank better. So pages with only one internal link from one page, you know, usually didn't do very well, but pages with ten internal links, uh, tended to do, do much better.
[00:18:28] So this was, this was great, but it wasn't the surprising part of the study. Uh, the surprising part was... After a while, after about 10 or internal links or so, the effects started to level off. So after about, after you got about 10 different internal links, we didn't see you do any better. So once you reached about 10, that's, that's probably enough internal links.
[00:18:51] But then we started to look at the type of links, the anchor text. So how your, your listeners probably are familiar with anchor text. How the words that you used to link, like click here or world's best, yeah. World's best SEO, Olga, Olga czar, click here. And what we found was the number of different anchor texts that you used kept going up and up and up with its relationship to traffic.
[00:19:17] So. And that makes total sense, uh, because large websites, if you've ever worked on a, on a large ecommerce site or Moz, they get millions of links or, you know, thousands of links or hundreds of links per page. And they all have different anchor text. But if you're, if you have a small website, uh, maybe your only anchor text variations are coming from yourself, uh, through those internal links, because you don't have a lot of external link variations.
[00:19:44] So varying your internal anchor text every single time, don't use the same anchor text every single time you link to yourself, that, that seems to have a huge impact on your SEO performance. Uh, so a lot of people just use the title of the post. And they, they link using that. And if you use WordPress, that's kind of a default.
[00:20:03] Hey, relate, these are your related links. These are your most recent posts. That's not always the best way to do it. Using, going in and changing your anchor text every time and making sure you do it at least 10 times, um, for, for every page on your site. That seems to have a huge impact. That's this time.
[00:20:20] 10, 10 times. Yeah. Yeah, it's hard to, to go back and find 10. Yeah. If, if we are going to do that manually, then, then yeah, it is, it is hard. And, uh, I, people ask me, you know, what's the, what's the number, best number of internal links? And I go, well, it, no, it's 10. You need at least 10. Uh, and, and that'll, that'll help out.
[00:20:44] Okay, cool. And, uh, You recently also wrote a very interesting article about you being a Google quality writer. Can you shed more light on that? And, uh, like how long did it, I don't remember. I read the article, but I don't remember how long did it take you to, to kind of become one from like very, from, from the moment that idea appear to in your head to when you Was when you were able to like, yeah, I'll talk about the, I want to tell you why I became a quality.
[00:21:15] Uh, you know, quality Raiders have been around for, you know, 15 years or something like that. Uh, Google doesn't talk about them a lot and they have these quality Raider guidelines, which is this 170 page document. And if you've been doing SEO for a while, you know, back in 2000, 10 years ago, you used to have to know somebody to get a, right.
[00:21:38] Copy of those quality guidelines. It'd be secrets and you'd be like, Hey, I got a copy. Don't tell anybody it's it's leaked It's a leaked document Yeah, the Google police are gonna come to my door if if they find out I have this and then around 2015 Google went Okay, this is fine. We're just gonna release the documents public that way everybody's on the same page Everybody websites things like that and and Google will What kind of deemphasizing the work of quality raters?
[00:22:07] You'd be like, well, quality raters are important, but we don't really use them to influence the algorithm. Uh, we're just use them to evaluate results. Uh, don't pay attention to the, they're almost like, don't look over here. They're not doing anything. They don't influence rankings. But if you look in their documentation, uh, about quality raters.
[00:22:26] They, they admit a few times to using quality raters for machine learning, meaning they take examples from the quality raters and they feed them into the machine learning algorithm. And this has an interesting implication. It, it means that the entire quality rater guidelines becomes a ranking factor and Google admits this, but they don't talk about it very much.
[00:22:47] Uh, and if you ask them, they, they won't talk about it at all, which means we're probably poking, poking the bear at the right place. And then when. With, when, with, with, with AI, with Google's new search generative experience, Google said, well, we're using quality raters as feedback to make these results better.
[00:23:06] Also meaning they're using examples to feedback into the AI. And I'm like, you know what? I think quality raters are doing more important work than Google is admitting. So I want to find out what it's like to be a quality rater. Uh, as far as I know, not a lot of SEOs do this. So let's see what it's like.
[00:23:22] So I, I went online. Uh, fortunately, you know, I work for myself, so I have time, I found a job to apply for and I submitted my application and they're like, yeah, great, you, you, you qualify for testing, let's start the test. And that's how I got started. And that whole testing was another process. Uh huh. And, and, yeah, yeah.
[00:23:42] Yeah, yeah, okay. Tell me. Ask me about the testing. So I was, I was kind of arrogant and I thought, well, I, I'm a, I'm a world's known SEO. I can pass these tests. No, I, I, I couldn't. Uh, I, there's, what are, can you, can you, do you remember, or can you share what are some things, uh, on which you failed? Some questions?
[00:24:04] Absolutely. So I got to be careful because I signed an NDA. There's certain things I can't talk about. Uh, but I think I can say that the test was in three parts. Uh, the first part was just. About certain things in the Quality Rater Guidelines, and I passed that part pretty easily. Uh, the second part was about needs met, and that, that's, does this, does this set of, does this set of results meet the query?
[00:24:31] So if I search for, uh, how to walk a dog, do, do, do the Google search results? Answer this question fairly well. And that part was harder than I thought because I, I came in with my own biases as an SEO thinking, Oh, well, this page is optimized. It really meets, but that's not how Google was interpreting it.
[00:24:53] Google was looking at it just from the point of view of an average. And that took, that took some adjustment in my brain, but I passed that part. Then the third part of the test was page quality. Uh, and Google has all these qualifications in the Raiders guidelines about page quality. And sometimes they only mention things really quickly, but in the, in the actual job, it's very, very important.
[00:25:16] And I didn't pass that part. Uh, I, I failed and so I had to go back and study and I had to spend hours studying going and they give you a bunch of study materials beyond the Raider Guidelines because they want you to pass and many people don't, uh, and they have these support channels that are kind of like Slack, uh, where people are talking to each other like, how did you get this question?
[00:25:38] Uh, why, why is this wrong? And. It took me about two weeks to pass all the tests and actually become a quality rater. So, uh, and I was like, yeah, I did it! I did it! I have a job! And are you still one? Uh, technically I am. I have not been, I have not been fired yet, but I haven't really done any work for the past two or three weeks, and I'm expecting they'll drop me.
[00:26:05] Uh, and how does it work like, uh, do you have like a, like a specific amount of hours you have to work? Yeah, there, there are, there are, they, they have minimum hours that you're supposed to work and it varies depending on how much work is available. Uh, but if you don't meet those minimums, they'll, they'll eventually drop you, I believe.
[00:26:25] I thought they would, I thought they would fire me simply for being an SEO. Uh, when they, no, they, they don't care. Uh, plus it would, I think it would look pretty bad if they fired me at this point. Yeah, and I haven't, I, I haven't learned any, you know, well, I have learned a few secrets, but nothing important, uh, like, like you work on experimental things that Google might be, might be working on, but they're not, you don't learn any secrets about the algorithm, but it has totally changed how I look at Google because I, I'm rolling everything back.
[00:27:02] And when you really, really, We sometimes make fun of people who get into the Search Quality Rater Guidelines because we don't think they're real ranking factors. But when you really get into Page quality and needs met the way Google wants you to see them and wants you to rate them. It really changes how you look at results.
[00:27:21] And it's given me some ideas going forward about how people like you and me can work with our clients to improve page quality from an algorithmic point of view. Uh, they go beyond, you know, adding author boxes or E E A T or, you know, all these. These, these things, uh, but it's, I, I think there are simple ways to do it.
[00:27:42] We just need to quantify these somehow, uh, and make it easier for people. Okay. And can you maybe share something about those needs met? Because I, I read quality writer guidelines a long time ago, but I. I think I understand what, what it means, uh, if a page, uh, needs, uh, uh, meets needs, but I, I'm, I assume I don't understand it the way you understand it now.
[00:28:10] Can you like touch upon this? Yeah. Needs met is a little easier than page quality, but needs met is, is pretty simple. So the first thing, the first thing that you would do. Uh, needs met is you get, you get a search query, uh, and I'll be like, uh, like, I think our example is how to walk a dog. I like people, I'm sure people are Googling this, whatever.
[00:28:34] If you've never had a dog before, like, how do I do this? Uh, I'm, I'm, I think this came to my head because I'm babysitting my friend's dog right now. And we're not doing it. Okay. So how to walk a dog. And the first thing you're going to do is Google it. Uh, you type in how to walk a dog and you're going to look at the top 10 results.
[00:28:52] And you're going to, you're going to sort of map all the user intent. Um, what, what, what are all the cert features? Is there a map? Are there local dog walking businesses that, that come back? So what is the user looking for in this, this instance? Are they looking, are they looking for a business? Are they looking for a webpage?
[00:29:12] Are they looking for videos? Are there different meanings of the word? Uh, for example, uh. If you look for the Wayback Machine, uh, if you Google Wayback, where I live, there's a hamburger place called Wayback Hamburgers, so you get the Wayback Archive, you get Wayback Hamburgers, you get the definition for the word Wayback, so the word can have very different intents, but when I'm writing a page, how well does it meet those intents?
[00:29:42] I need, you need to determine how well does it meet all of those intents. And so often we optimize a page for, for one single thing and. We're making, if the user wants to find out something else, we're making them either click something or Google something again. And that means that the user has to do extra work.
[00:30:04] And so when we talk about meets intense, we're looking for results that reduce the work for the user as much as possible so that they can get their answer in one click, no matter what they want to find. And there are, there are passages in the quality radar guidelines. About the amount of extra work that a user has to do.
[00:30:25] And they're not very big in the quality grader guidelines, but as a, as a quality rater, they become hugely important. How much extra work do I have to do to find the answer? And that makes it really easy for people like you and me and our clients, uh, as kind of a standard. How much how much extra work are we making users use for all these all these page intents?
[00:30:47] I that's kind of a long rambling answer. I hope I had I hope I sort of explained it. Yeah. Yeah, it's cool It's cool. So now a little bit more about page quality. So If I were to answer it right away, I would say if the page is like well organized so that I know what it is about, if it has headings, if it has like some pop ups that are irritating me, some too many ads, if it maybe answers my question like relatively easily so that I can find the answer.
[00:31:20] Yep. And what else? And what else would you add? Those are all good things. Uh, the base things, the ads, uh, how well it answers your question, um, navigation, you know, things like that. How much extra work do I have to do? Cause, cause meet intent goes into page quality. Uh, then we, then we have the. The question, how much do I think this page knows what they're talking about?
[00:31:46] Um, because we all create content. Yeah, well, we all want to rank for different words, but we may or may not have expertise in this content. So if I'm looking at a page, I may look at their header. Their footer, uh, to see, you know, does this, does this company write about this topic all the time? Um, are they experts?
[00:32:06] Is this their main focus of expertise? Uh, you know, a lot of affiliate sites, right? About everything you'll see, you know, you look at the. The header and you'll see links for beauty products, uh, technology, uh, you know, um, uh, I don't know, get rich quick. Everything under the sun, yeah. All you have to do is look at the header and you know, these people aren't an expert at all.
[00:32:30] And I don't trust this page that says, even though the article looks really good, and it has all the keywords, and I can find my answer really quickly. I don't trust this site so well, so it's probably going to have a much lower page quality, uh, than a site that I trust. Um, You know, Google talks about reputation a lot.
[00:32:51] Uh, so the quality rater guidelines we'll talk about, uh, if you have, if you, if you run a website, you'll look for reviews of that website. Um, quality raters have a, you know, they describe a couple of quick ways using the site command, uh, looking for reviews. There's also one trick I like to use if you Google, if you Google anything, and I want to see what it's called here.
[00:33:15] And you go to, uh, usually with search results. Google has, you can click the little three dots next to the search result and get more information. About this result. Uh, so Google and very few people talk about, about this result because Google will give you websites that talk about the website you're looking for.
[00:33:34] And those have a reputation links in there. So I like to go to those, those links and see what other sites are saying about, about this site. And I, I think that's pretty easy for SEOs to work on. Yeah. Because Truthfully, you can get, you can get reviews that say nice things about you. You, if you run an affiliate program, everybody's going to say nice things about you, uh, because they, they, you know, look at, look at SEMrush.
[00:34:01] I love SEMrush. Uh, but they also, they also have an affiliate program. If you do any kind of reputation research for SEMrush. Everybody says nice things about them because they belong to the affiliate program. Uh, so I think that's one of the shortest, easiest ways to get a good reputation is just launch an affiliate program.
[00:34:17] And everybody instantly says great, wonderful things about you. That's cool. That's a cool tip. Yeah. Yeah. I also like A Refs. And Moz. Oh, I like everybody. That's cool. Okay, so, uh, the last question about quality raters. So, they recently, not that recently, added experience there. And how do you think it's, um, what does it mean, like, what, what this change really matters if they added this extra E now to EAT, that it's now E E A T.
[00:34:50] Like... Experience. So the, uh, uh, so the old E was expertise, authority, trust, eat. And now it's E with experience, expertise, authority, authority, trust. So Google changed the quality rater guidelines earlier this year, I think. Uh, six, six months ago or so, uh, to talk about experience. And so that, that kind of goes back to what I was talking about, looking at the, looking at the webpage.
[00:35:20] Does this. Does this site really know what they're talking about, or did they just publish an article, uh, pretending to know what they're talking about? And so that's diving in and, uh, really digging into the meat. And it goes back to, you know, my old advice. I think that you would probably agree with this.
[00:35:39] If you want to rank for something, you can't just write one article about it. You need to write about it over and over and over again, developing your, your topical authority. Um, you know, I can't speak as a quality rater, but if I'm looking at a, you know, like for instance, a product review, if, if there's a video on the page of someone actually using the product and reviewing it, and I know they filmed that themselves, that may not be a technical ranking factor, but I trust that they, They're actually, you know, have some experience and they're comparing different things.
[00:36:10] Um, if they say some negative things about, you know, uh, about a certain thing, uh, advantages and disadvantages. That tells me, you know, maybe they're, they're presenting a, a balanced view. Um, but again, I... I look at their about page. I look at all the links in their navigation. I look at how they're trying to make money because that's one thing you learn really quickly is that every site is trying to make money.
[00:36:35] Uh, are they trying to just make money on this article? Or is it actually? That's why, that's why a lot of government sites, a lot of nonprofits often have very high, you know, uh, page quality because you trust them because they're not, you know, they're not trying to dip into your wallet. And, um, so, uh, things like that, uh, become.
[00:36:58] Becomes signals. I forgot the question. I'm just rambling at this point. Yeah. Yeah, but you answered it. Yeah, the question was about e the first e So our friend will reynolds if if you know, he runs sierra interactive He used to have this thing a few years ago that I don't think people say very much and excuse my french Can we can we swear on this channel?
[00:37:17] Yeah. Okay. Yeah, it was it was Uh, R C S. Real Company Shit. Uh, so, everybody wants to rank. Everybody wants to rank number one in Google. Nobody wants to do real company shit. Uh, but that's what you have to do. For Recipe, for my own website, it's doing these experiments and publishing them. Uh, For affiliate sites, it's doing, it's actually doing the reviews, but, you know, getting them in your house, uh, filming them, using the product, uh, and becoming an expert.
[00:37:49] It's hard to replicate real company shit, but the, the, the websites that do real company shit are often the ones that are, that are winning the service. And it's, it's, it's hard to explain that to people as a ranking factor. What do I need to do? Do I need to change my title tag, Cyrus? No, you need to actually.
[00:38:06] Do the thing you're talking about and and that'll help. Yeah, totally totally because google has google has millions of examples And they're feeding these into their algorithm, machine learning algorithms, and they don't even know what the ranking factors are. They just want you to be like one of those sites, and their, their, their algorithms that are very sophisticated are looking at millions of parameters and going, Okay, this site does a lot of things similar to this site, so let's rank them highly.
[00:38:32] Uh huh, yeah, yeah, totally. Okay, so what is ZPSCO? Tell me more about this. This is like your, your, uh, Uh, consultancy, your business is, is it just you or are there more people? Uh, it is at right now. It is just me. I have some contractors that I work with probably, probably a similar situation, uh, to a lot of SEOs out there.
[00:38:54] Uh, we are launching some community things in the, in the future. Uh, uh, Yeah, I don't want to say more about that now, but yes, we unfortunately, I missed the software business, but I don't have any plans to launch any software in the near, in the near future. Uh huh. Okay. So what do you offer there? What is like your main, your core offer there?
[00:39:20] Yeah. Uh, so. So right now we're, we're building out these community features, uh, and half my time is spent actually consulting, uh, with businesses, you know, around, around mostly United States, but sometimes we work with, you know, different people around the world. Um, I, and we work with anybody that wants to hire us.
[00:39:43] But because I love, I love all companies. I love, I love challenges when people, uh, I love working with large sites, technical sites, um, yeah, I, I, I, that's kind of the boring part of my job. I'm just a regular SEO consultant, uh, a few hours a day and it's a lot of fun. A few hours a day. Oh, so that's nice. Not like 10, not 10 hours a day.
[00:40:08] I work on SEO 10 hours a day. I just work with other clients a few hours a day. Okay. So like similar to me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. And on your site, I noticed you have this section, um, SEO rankings. Yes. And there are like a lot of rankings, like there are like, um, in different order, in different groups. And so.
[00:40:30] Can you like walk me through that a little bit? What do you think, based on your experience right now, are like the top? 10 ranking factors, like, because this was super, super interesting what I saw there. So I really need to redo, I think I last updated this in 2018, which was, okay. That was recent, but it was five years ago.
[00:40:50] So I really think that 20, 23 version. Yeah. Uh, so I'm writing this down cause I was just thinking about this the other day. Um, that, uh, Uh, content quality, relevance, and quality. Yeah. So today, I think, I really think of ranking factors a lot differently today. Uh, when I. When I created this, because we, I think there are things that Google doesn't want us to talk about so much.
[00:41:25] Um, or doesn't want us to, they deemphasize things. Uh, so today, if I were to talk about ranking factors, I think I would put them into to 5 different buckets. One being, you know, technical SEO, uh, just making sure, you know, everything works, everything's fast, your page will render, you can rank, things like that, that I'm really doing it as a service to technical SEO because it's a huge, huge area, uh, but technical SEO being one, uh, relevancy, content relevancy being number two, then that goes back to needs met, is your page actually answering the user question?
[00:42:03] Uh, three would be links. Uh, links to your website. Uh, Google wants to, wants to make us think that links are kind of like that, just a really small ranking factor, but they're big. It's a big, it's a big, big ranking factor. Uh, page quality, uh, would be the fourth bucket in which we've talked about, you know, how, how, how authoritative is the page?
[00:42:24] How much do we trust the page? Uh, and combining needs met and page quality. How much work do I have to do when I get to this page? Am I getting the answer in one click? Cause that's what Google is looking for. Uh, but, and finally, the thing that not a lot of people talk about are user, user signals, click signals.
[00:42:44] Uh, I wrote, I wrote a post on Moz right before I left about. I used to talk to Bill Slosky, the patent guru about this before he passed away a few years ago. Uh, I think it's user click signals is the biggest ranking factor that Google doesn't want us to talk about. And that is how many people are clicking on your results in Google search results?
[00:43:08] Uh, how long are they looking at the page and how much are they going back to Google search and looking for a different answer? Um. Google has filed dozens of patents. They've spent millions of dollars, maybe tens, hundreds of millions of dollars on click signals going back to the very early days of Google search.
[00:43:27] But they don't, they don't want us to talk about that because they don't want people to manipulate it with automated software or things like that. I, I think they've quit denying it to a certain extent, uh, because they're, they're confident in their algorithms. Uh, in, in the old days, they used to just, you know, say, Oh, those are really messy.
[00:43:47] We, you wouldn't want to use those. Well, yes, but you do, right? So, uh, I think Google is very good at figuring out algorithmically if you're meeting the user's needs through the click signals that they can track through, through the Chrome browser. And. That is the big bucket of, uh, signals that they don't want you to know about.
[00:44:11] But yeah, that's how I would organize it today, around those five things. I think, like, it was a couple of years ago, I think Rand, uh, did this experiment that, he asked people, like, on a conference to, like, search something and then click on that result, and then this result kind of, um, went way higher. Yeah.
[00:44:33] But I think the impact was just temporary, right? Yeah. It's very hard. It's very hard to gain because it's not just clicking on the result. It's clicking on the result and actually being satisfied with the answer across, you know, hundreds or thousands of users. Time and time and time again. It's, it's really hard to, uh, manipulate.
[00:44:57] Yeah. This may be a stupid question because I'm not a Google analytics expert, but doesn't it change now when we have GA4 and assuming that GA normal, GA stops working, won't those signals be, uh, different for Google to kind of decipher? Like, I have no idea. No, that's an excellent, that's, that's an excellent question.
[00:45:19] Uh, so what. The short answer is what Google uses for its ranking algorithm is separate from, from what we see in Google analytics and where you, where Google is getting its data is basically mostly Chrome, the Chrome browser, even if, even if, even if they don't have analytics installed. Google can watch all the users, what they're doing in Chrome, because you, you, when you click the, when you click the user agreement, they say we can track, we can track all your data in clicks.
[00:45:52] Uh, and so even if a website doesn't have Google Analytics installed, they can, and your Android browser, uh, all the, you know, half the smartphones in the world all contain click tracking. Spyware basically to see what users are doing and okay. So in this way we can think that those CTR manipulator Kind of software this software may not be really working that yeah It might work.
[00:46:19] I I haven't used it. I I've been playing with it a little bit, but I haven't seen like I haven't used that kind of software in a long time. And I, I suspect Google has gotten better at detecting it and fighting against it, but it, I mean, I think, I think it's, you could probably find ways to hack it, but I think my advice, because I work with established businesses, you know, and, and, uh, companies that.
[00:46:51] You know, want to be legitimate. My advice is it's, it's far easier just to be the best answer, uh, than to try to, than try to manipulate results because you can, you can defend against that all day long. If, if you're actually the better answer and actually satisfying people, uh, you can, you can defend yourself against algorithm changes and, you know, all sorts of things.
[00:47:15] So that's what I recommend to people. Just try to, just try to be the best answer, you'll get you further. Yeah, totally. But it's still fun to try to do it. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So if out of those, all those ranking signals, if you were to name one, which you think is like the most important, which one would it be?
[00:47:35] That's a very. Yeah, that's, that's a very hard question because they all, they all interrelate to each other, and I don't think you could ignore any of them. Um, but... But if you could just improve one thing... Yeah, yeah. Well, I, I think, I think those click signals are kind of an indicator. Of what you should be working on, uh, because if you have a, if you have an incredibly high bounce rate and you don't think, you know, that's not necessarily bad, but yeah, so, you know, the new, the new Google analytics, they GA4, which I hate, by the way, I just hate, I don't think I'm even going to use it except for my client sites on my own sites.
[00:48:18] I'm going to go with something different. They measure engagement in terms of time, how long people have, you know, which is an incredibly great metric, especially if you have longer form content or complex queries. If people are just like looking at your content for three seconds, that's. That may be an indication that they can see right away that they don't like you.
[00:48:40] Uh, so maybe you can try to work on those metrics. It's not a guarantee. Uh, but yeah, if I could only choose one metric, it would be technical SEO links and relevance. Okay, cool. That's a cool answer. Yeah. Okay, so, uh, a couple of last questions. Yeah. Let me, let me, let me go back and answer your question in another way.
[00:49:01] Okay. When, when I often work with clients, uh, you know, one of the things we work on is technical SEO first, because there's usually so many opportunities there, uh, in terms of. Structured data, especially if you're working with e commerce. I work with, you know, a lot of e commerce sites, uh, structured data, internal linking, uh, crawling and architecture.
[00:49:25] Uh, I think technical SEO usually gives you the most immediate opportunities, uh, when you're just starting an SEO project and then going into content. Making your content a lot better, building out new pages around new keywords, you know, things like that. Anyway, let's go, let's move on. Yeah, but, but, but that's, that's a very, very good, very good advice.
[00:49:46] And I totally, totally agree with that. You probably have millions of such examples, but my one recent example is that I simply, uh, on a huge site. I changed basically one thing that they didn't use like the name of the product as the link, but just like there was an arrow or something. And we just changed that into a text link and it's, the results were like very, very nice.
[00:50:12] Yeah, I love, I love those things. Uh, maybe we should do that instead of. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Totally. Yeah. Uh, so I'm interested to learn how, uh, does your normal day look like? How, how a normal day in the life of Cyrus? I, I have a good life. I will not lie. Uh, I live on the coast of Oregon in the, in the U S this, this picture is just 20 miles down the coast.
[00:50:42] Um, I have. Wonderful view. So I sleep in way too late. Uh, I have coffee. I walked at my neighbor's dog. Uh, I work on my own content or some private stuff, uh, in the relating to SEO, my, my own websites, things like that. Usually the first part of my day. And then after lunch, it's client time. And that's normally when I would, uh, I have, I have a three hour block reserved for, uh, external meetings.
[00:51:15] I was happy to do this one much earlier than my normal time because of you. Uh, so I will do my client meetings and, uh, things like that in the afternoon. And. I, I, I love running. I noticed you went to, was it Kenya? Not too long ago. Yeah. In Kenya. Yeah. I was out running Kenya. It looked, it looked amazing. I was very jealous, uh, of your, and you, and you have the night, you have the nice runner's watch.
[00:51:41] I can see. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So. And how, how long have you been running? Oh, I've run my whole life, but I'm not that good at it. Uh, so my, my standard run is about four miles. Um, I do, I do a few, uh, I try to do at least one or two 10 Ks per year, but I'm, I'm really slow and old and my knees are bad, but I love doing it.
[00:52:06] Yeah, my knees are also bad because I've been like doing that for 15 plus years. So I also am now like. Like keeping it steady, slower. Yeah. Just to be able to run. So, and, and that's that. Uh, I, I actually went, something people don't know about me, I actually went to school for film. Cinema and I I had a really bad career in Hollywood for a while So I love going to movies, but I moved I live in this really small town with just one tiny theater We don't get movies until like two months after they come out So I want to go see Oppenheimer and Barbie right now, but they're it's really hard But yeah, other than that, everything's good.
[00:52:50] Cool. And, uh, do you work over weekends? Sometimes, but not, not too, not too difficult. Uh, not too hard. Just, just being curious. Yeah. I don't, I don't work as hard as I should, but that's okay. Yeah, that's okay. Totally, totally. I'm, I'm now like working on a system where I would work probably less because like I've been...
[00:53:15] I've been working too much for the past year. Yeah, I, I see all the content you produce. Yeah, it's like too much, too much of everything. Yeah, it's, well, SEO is great because if you're willing to do the work, if you're, I mean, you and I are both on social media a lot and we will share things. You have your newsletter and.
[00:53:36] Even, uh, there's not always, I've been doing SEO content, producing, producing studies and blog posts and working with people who do that for my entire career. And there's just not enough good stuff out there. Yeah. There's not a lot of people doing the experiments and publishing them or publishing really good case studies or with good graphics and things like that.
[00:53:58] And you know, when you find something like that, you're like, Hey, I got to share this. And so if you're in this industry. And you're a working SEO and you're willing to put that work in, people are hungry for it. There is such a lack of good content out there that when you, if you want to spend one or two hours a day just working on that content or those case studies, people will eat it up.
[00:54:20] You can build a good career around working in SEO, just, just doing good work because there's just not enough out there. So it's a, it's a great industry for that. Yeah, people listen, this is another great advice from Cyrus. Yeah, just, you just got to put yourself out there, just do it. Yeah, totally, totally, the Nike way.
[00:54:40] Yeah, it's, it's very hard to build an SEO career, just tweeting other people's stuff. You really need, you really want to produce your own stuff. And have your own blog post. And, you know, eventually you'll be asked to speak at conferences or do webinars like this. And, you know, you can get your name out there and it's a great industry for that.
[00:54:58] And people are very supportive and, uh, very collaborative. And, and it's, it's one of the most welcoming communities I've ever been a part of. Totally. Totally. So Cyrus, what's the best place to find you? Is it still Twitter or X? Is it X? I don't know what's going on. Uh, yes, I'm on, I'm on X. I'm on Threads.
[00:55:19] I've got 400 followers on Threads. My threads are not available in Europe. Oh, they're not even available. So yeah, LinkedIn is a great place. Uh, yeah. Uh, you're, you're in Poland. Yeah, I'm going to be, I'm going to be speaking at, uh, I'm going to be emceeing marketing festival in the Czech Republic. Oh, in January.
[00:55:43] Uh, I think, I don't know if tickets are still available, but we often have a lot of people from Poland come over and visit that conference. It's, it's, I love that. No, I think this year. So, uh, I've never been to Poland myself, but I've always wanted to step across the border and... Please do! Yeah. This time, maybe.
[00:56:02] Maybe someday. Okay. Cool. Okay. So, uh, yeah, I think that's, that's all. So people follow Cyrus if you aren't... doing that yet. And Saris, thank you so much. This was like very insightful. I learned a ton and I will, I will create a lot of quotes after out of this conversation for people to kind of learn from. So thanks a ton.
[00:56:27] Hopefully we made good content. Yeah, totally. Totally. You did. All right. Thank you. Thank you everyone. Bye bye. Bye bye.