Welcome back for another installment of Trademark Productions’ SEO podcast. Hope everyone had a great holiday season and is ready for all the great things 2010 has in stored. However, here at Trademark Productions, we are still slightly in the holiday spirit and have a gift for our listeners. That gift is our latest podcast guest, internet marketing extraordinaire Eric Enge.
Eric is the president of Stone Temple Consulting, a six-person SEO firm with offices in Massachusetts and California. He is also vice president of marketing and handles all of the SEO for Moving Traffic Inc., a web publishing company that publishes its own websites. Eric also offers his immense amount of knowledge in internet marketing as he is a frequent speaker at many search engine industry expos and conferences. Eric is particularly known for his in-depth interviews of major players in the search industry, including dozens of people who work in senior capacities at the search engines.
Eric Enge has a lot of knowledge to offer to TM listeners. He is well known around the SEO realm, both for his Websites and understanding of SEO. He offers our listeners a lot of insight about what works and doesn’t based on his experience. We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Eric about all the latest happening in search engine marketing and his opinion on various topics and trends that are happening in the industry.
As you may know by now, there is no definite path to a career in the online marketing industry. Eric is proof of that considering he never planned out a career as the internet marketer he is today. Eric explained his story for us, “Well actually, I fell into the career by accident. I had a consulting business and was doing a different kind of marketing consulting. There was a friend of mine who had a business and asked me to come in and help him. I realized what he really needed was more traffic from search engines.” Currently there are many solutions to solve this problem, but keep in mind this was 7 to 8 years ago. “So I went and figured it out. Ah, well, here’s what you got to do. He ended up getting tons of additional traffic to his site, and I should say that’s really what search engine optimization or SEO is really about.” Eric then realized the potential the internet had in gaining new customers that you didn’t have the day off from search engines and turned it into an SEO career.
“Initially when I was doing search engine optimization consulting, it was just me. It was that way for two or three years, but at a certain point in time, we made the decision to expand Stone Temple Consulting and brought in somebody to be my partner in running the business. Then we just started to proactively add clients and grow the business.” This is another example of how someone started off small in the industry and has grown to a much larger scale. As stated earlier there is no definite path to a career in the internet marketing industry, but that does not mean there isn’t one at all.
Someone as experienced as Eric has endured the challenges that may present themselves in the internet marketing industry. He has seen the industry grow throughout his career and is excited for what the future may bring.
“Well, I mean back in the beginning, the search engine algorithms were not very sophisticated. So the things that you needed to do to get traffic were actually quite simple.”
Search engines back then would allow you to just put a lot of keywords in your keyword meta tag and that would work itself. “If you had this keyword which was a high-volume search term, and if it appeared 100 times on your page, then you ranked very high.” However, that is not the case anymore. Search engines have become more sophisticated and are much better at figuring out what websites are going to be most useful to a user entering a search term. According to Eric,” One of the ways we like to talk about this now is that it’s a situation where you want to really learn what the search engines want you to do from a strategic perspective.” This could pose as a problem considering search engines are making changes to improve their algorithms.
In fact Google is expected to make a major change in their algorithm which will have an impact in the industry in various ways.
“One of the big impacts is they do a better job at filtering out poor quality sites and placing more emphasis on good quality sites. Also, one is that Google has a much greater emphasis on the speed of a website as being an important factor in what makes a good site to show an end user.”
This means if someone clicks on a link from the search results and that webpage takes several seconds to load, then Google considers it a poor quality experience. Google is now using this as a ranking factor, which means if your site loads slowly they will lower your ranking in their results. This is all done so that Google and other search engines can offer the best material to their users. Another change that will impact the industry is with Google and how they have recently implemented real time search results.
“The main question you have to ask yourself is what kind of things users are searching for where a real-time answer would be the desired result.”
If someone is searching digital cameras because they are interested in buying one they don’t need up to the minute news. People just want to know what models they can buy now, where they can buy them at, the price range, and read reviews things like that. However news searches where you are searching for a specific story or topic is excellent. Another thing Google is doing though, is integrating search results from Twitter. Twitter has become very popular on the internet but according to Eric it has yet to reach “mainstream”. “In fact, it’s still a relatively small percentage of the population knows about and the integration of Twitter in the Google search results. It’s also happening with Bing and it is going to create a tremendous amount of visibility that the company hasn’t had previously.” says Eric about the Twitter and Google integration.
“Yeah, so I think the whole real-time search thing that’s going on now with Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, in different manners, is actually quite a big event for Twitter.”
Twitter’s audience is still blooming and with the integration into search results there is potential for it to become much more mainstream. This could lead to a more solidified partnership between Google and Twitter. “I think that the integration into the search results may cause Twitter to become mainstream, and that’s definitely a really big event.” said Eric. There is a fear here though that real-time and social search could potentially damage some components in the search results. Search engines are becoming more reliable by offering users the best content available. With real-time and social search there is a possibility that they could junk up the results. Eric stated though, “In terms of making it less relevant? If it does make it less relevant, then it won’t be in there for very long.” Considering relevance is the main way for search engines to bring in revenue and establish credibility. This will obviously affect businesses of all sizes, but Eric has offered up some advice for the smaller businesses in terms of Googles algorithm change.
First thing first, “I think one thing you want to do is make sure you’re not skimping on your hosting environment, the place where you would host your Website” stated Eric. You want to make sure you are getting the most for your dollar when it comes to a hosting environment. Sure there are decent options ten dollars a month, maybe even less. However, chances have it you are probable on a shared server and performance may be uneven. “Another thing you want look at is content management systems out there. They have been used by many well-meaning businesses. They just offer a really slow performance. I think you want to test and evaluate the speed which your Web pages load.” Some content management systems out there are Joombla, Drupal, and if you want to use a blog based format, WordPress. Another topic that Eric Enge touched on was the value of a web publisher.
“Your two main jobs as a publisher are to create great content and promote it well. It sounds very trite, but Google and the other search engines are just pressing continually towards forcing you into that goal.”
This doesn’t mean if you just have these two areas covered you will rank well. There are a lot of things that determine a search friendly site. You have to start to market your website from a search engine perspective. This pretty much means getting people linked to your site. However, the better the content on your page the more likely people will link to it. Like Eric said, “You have to understand the importance of implementing quality, non-commercial content as a basic component of marketing any Website today.”
Eric offered a couple tips for consumers, for smaller independent owners, affiliates, and people out there managing sites. SEO is a very complicated area, and you can get completely lost in it and spends hundreds of hours and get led down all kinds of different paths. “One is that you do want try to figure it out. Perhaps get advice if you need it on how to use a search engine-friendly tool to build your site. It can be a content management system or something somewhat simpler.” It is worth seeking out the advice, just make sure it is the right advice because if you start with the wrong platform its game over right from the start. “Fixing it later will be extremely expensive, because you may have to throw out your Website and start over. You don’t want to do that. You want to address that upfront, and that’s very important.”
We want to thank Eric Enge for his time and all of the valuable information he has shared with us today. Eric can be found attending a majority of the internet marketing industry conferences in the future and in the mean time check out his company Stone Temple Consulting.