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How to Start SEO Without Getting Poisoned
We have our first question from Viane. Can you recommend some good books on SEO?
Oh man! I have never read a book on SEO, so I couldn’t really recommend a good book on SEO for you. I’m so sorry about that. But here’s the good news with SEO, go online and look for a beginner’s guide to SEO. You’ll find moz.com. Just go through that. I mean, that’s all you need right there. And if you need any advanced stuff, go to seo-hacker.com. We publish stuff about the cutting edge in SEO right now. If you want to learn more advanced SEO stuff, just go to our SEO Hacker blog. We publish twice a week. Good stuff, good content that you can learn from and apply on your website and you can be guaranteed it works because we do it for our clients and it works. So that’s for free. You don’t need to buy a book for that. You just have to read our stuff. That’s it.
What tools can you recommend for keyword research? Pat asks.
I’d say SEMrush, S E M R U S H. They went IPO. I’m an affiliate, so disclaimer here. If you want to sign up with SEMrush, I’d really appreciate it if you could use the link in SEO Hacker, in our toolbox. So just search for the SEO Hacker toolbox. You’ll be able to see all of the software that we’re using at SEO Hacker. And if you look and use the links there, you’ll be helping me out. I do this for free, this Leadership Stack show. I do a lot of things for free to give value to you guys, so anything helps.
If you want to use SEMrush, they’re really great software. I use them all the time. I use SEMrush all the time. So for keyword research, I use SEMrush. It’s really good. If you want to use them as well, they have the keyword magic tool. That’s what I use there for keyword research, it helps so much. But again, it’s just a tool. At the end of the day, tools are just tools. If you don’t know how to use them, if you’re not that great with keyword research, with psychodynamics, the words that people use, then tools will not help a lot.
From Mitch. How does it feel like doing SEO for years knowing every Google algorithm updates and intricacies of SEO? For those who are just starting SEO, digital marketing may seem overwhelming. What’s your advice for those who are just starting to learn today?
How does it feel like? It feels like you’re a pro basketball player. I mean, when you play basketball, you just know when people are in certain places in the court and you can make passes that seem miraculous and you can make shots that seem miraculous, but it’s just that you play the game for so many times that your brain is hardwired to do things automatically. You’re hard wired to just play the game really well.
It’s a lot like that, you know? They call it court sense in basketball. You have the sense of the court who’s where, and at what time, who’s running and at what time. It’s like court sense because you played so well so many times in such a long span of time, you get better at it because your brain is just subliminally doing a lot of stuff.
That’s how it feels like with SEO. I’ve been doing it for over a decade. I feel like I understand Google on a very deep level that I can’t extrapolate in words. I just know what’s happening when I check a site. I just know what’s wrong with it and how I can improve it. That’s how it works with me now that I feel like a lot of SEO people who are like me practicing it for a very long time and doing it ethically would say the same.
What’s my advice to those who were just starting? Keep going. I mean, SEO is a discipline. It’s all about consistency and discipline. There is no magic to it. There’s no tactic that could take you from nowhere in the top 100 to the first page of Google. It’s nothing like that. There is no tactic. It’s all discipline and hard work.
If there was a magic pill, it’s probably poisonous because it’s an unethical practice and you can get penalized for that. So just keep reading, keep experimenting, be consistent with your write ups, be consistent with the fundamentals, always keep learning, be on the cutting edge, because Google keeps changing and you have to learn with it. You have to change with it and adapt. So yeah, that’s going to be my advice for you.
What are your SEO predictions for 2021?
A lot of SEO’s updates and algorithm updates have already happened. There are some good cases that Rand Fishkin makes from his SparkToro blog. He’s the founder of Moz and ex CEO. So he says that citations will matter more than links and Google might move away from links. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, but it’s going to be an interesting play if they really do move away from links. Because definitely there’s going to be a lot of unethical stuff popping up again because links actually help keep unethical SEO practices at bay. That’s how Google beat Yahoo and MSN way back. So I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.
AI is already out. So if Google is going to roll out more stuff in 2021, I think they’re going to roll it out covert. They’re not going to announce what changes, like Penguin and Panda and Hummingbird and RankBrain, which they had to announce so that SEOs can understand what’s really happening. I don’t think they’re going to announce a lot this 2021. I just don’t think so.
I mean, in 2020, they didn’t announce a lot of stuff. They just keep updating it. And me and my team, we see the fluctuations in the software that we use. We use SE Ranking by the way. It’s a really good software and we’re affiliated with them. I have to make that disclaimer. We really love their software. We work with them. Yeah. We just see the fluctuations and obviously Google rolled out some major updates last year, but they never announced it. So I think Google is more covert now than they were way back, 2010 to 2015. And that’s because they have an AI as well, working inside.
Even the engineers, I think they don’t know what’s happening because there’s an AI inside. I mean, it’s kind of scary at the same time, but it’s also brilliant because now no one really knows what’s working under the hood, right? Which gives Google a really good edge against their competition.
From Viane. From an SEO standpoint, what are the pros and cons of .pro domain extension compared to .com?
.Pro is not yet well-recognized by Google. So you asked me from an SEO standpoint, here’s advice for you, for an SEO guy. .Pro is not that well-recognized. The highest ranking TLDs globally will still be.com, .org, and .net. Nothing else. That’s still the highest ranking TLDs, top level domains globally.
Unless you’re trying to rank for a local engine like google.com.ph, for example, we’re in the Philippines, then you go get a .ph or.com.ph, because that’s going to rank better locally. But you’re not going to rank well globally if you have a .ph website. Unless of course, they add Philippines at the end of their search term, then you’re going to rank well still, but otherwise I wouldn’t go for a .pro.
I tried it. I mean, from seo-hacker.net, I went for seo-hacker.services, I saw the rankings go down. So I did my tests. I have data to prove to you that. Anything other than .com, .net, and .org is just going to hit your rankings, it’s just going to tank it a bit for a while. If that’s acceptable to you, then okay, but if not, then don’t do it. So I ran my experiments. I did figure it out. It’s really going to tank your rankings for a while.
Another website that I bought is sean.si. If you didn’t know, .si is Slovenia. It’s a country TLD. It’s not just my surname. It just so happens that Si is my surname, so I bought sean.si. But yeah, my rankings here in the Philippines tanked after that, because Google recognized my domain name as from Slovenia even if my entire site says Philippines and then says, I’m a Filipino speaker.
So be really careful about the domain name that you’re going to pick if you’re meticulous about your rankings. If you’re not, then go ahead and do it, do what you want in terms of your domain name. I hope that helps.
A follow up question from Viane. Have you tried using the NitroPack plugin? What is your recommended WordPress plugin?
No, I haven’t. Recommended WordPress plugin for what purpose? If you’re talking about SEO, Yoast would be a safe bet. I mean, Joost de Valk, the founder is still optimizing the plugin and he’s running an SEO company, so I would say it’s safe to use Yoast.
They have some features that you can only use with a pro Yoast plugin, but you don’t really need that. I mean, just with a free Yoast, I’m happy. So I’d go for Yoast if you’re talking about an SEO WordPress plugin.
Always remember that plugins are just plugins. They’re just tools. If you don’t use them right, they’re not going to do anything for you. They’re zero. They’re zipped. Plugins will do nothing for you if you don’t use them right.
From Pat. What advice can you give for people building an e-commerce brand for physical products organically?
Well, e-commerce for me, I like ranking the category pages. I like ranking the category pages. So one of our clients is Puritan’s Pride, which is a health supplements company. So if you search for melatonin supplements Philippines, green tea extract, you search for vitamins for adults, they’re ranking well. They’re ranking first page, often in the first place and very high ranking. They’re ranking very high. And we have a lot of organic traffic and we’re making a lot. We’re making seven digit sales on our website every month, which is really good. And yeah, most of them from organic search traffic. So we rank the category pages.
Puritanspride.ph is the domain name. You might want to check it out. You might want to type the keywords that I mentioned, because you will be able to actually see what me and my team are doing, and why we’re ranking so well. You can reverse engineer it and learn from that and apply it to your side if you want. Again, it’s discipline and always doing things every day. That is what makes our websites rank really well.