Welcome to the new website for the Your Digital Marketing Coach podcast!
April 11, 2022

How Product-Led SEO Will Help You Reap Real ROI from Search Engine Optimization [Eli Schwartz Interview]

How Product-Led SEO Will Help You Reap Real ROI from Search Engine Optimization [Eli Schwartz Interview]

Have you ever wanted to pick the brain of an SEO expert and get the real scoop on what makes for good - and bad - search engine optimization and even understand for what situations SEO might not be the best investment of your marketing budget?

If so you are going to love this interview with Eli Schwarz, author of Product-Led SEO. I guarantee you after listening to this episode you will see SEO in a brand new insightful light!

Key Highlights

[02:19] Introduction of Podcast Guest, Eli Schwartz

[03:38] How Eli Got Into SEO

[06:45] Going Beyond Keywords

[10:10] How to Identify SEO Opportunities

[14:23] Types of B2B Companies that Best Fit SEO

[19:03] Eli's Definition of Investing

[22:17] Productled SEO

[24:19] Example of Succesful Businesses

[28:27] Programmility and Scalability

[29:56] Things People Overlook SEO

[34:12] Smarter AI in SEO]

[35:26] Final Advice

[37:43] Connect with Eli

Notable Quotes

  • I think the idea is in the idea for all marketing, social media, SEO, paid media, brand media is users, you want to sell something, even if you're not selling an actual product, you're selling eyeballs, you're selling your media, you're selling retention, you're selling on brain authority.
  • I want to bring SEO back to that which is search is just a medium for people to find us.
  • So I think if you think about search as a medium and search as a concept, then you're focusing on the user, which is how do I create the best content, the best material for the users that are going to be using searches immediately, not how am I going to understand Google's algorithm of today and improve upon that so I show up as high as possible.
  • Know where you are in the funnel and build the effort around that.
  • So that's all I'm saying is do the basics, but don't make it an investment. If it's not a channel, don't spend money on advertising if you're not going to get users from it.
  • When I say product lead SEO, I mean that your understanding that there is a user out there on search that is looking for something that you can sell, and you build an entire product around it.
  • So educational content, again, if if it doesn't scale, then you're limited by how much content you can create.
  • 90% of websites don't do SEO. That's a fact. I think it's probably 99% of websites in the world don't do SEO. So all the rules that Google has, has to work for the 100%, not just the 90%
  • If you can't justify your spend on SEO, if you don't see how the amount of money you're spending on SEO will ever repaid back, you can't put it in a spreadsheet.
    Guest Links:
  • Eli's Website: https://www.elischwartz.co/
  • Product-Led SEO on Amazon: https://amzn.to/379RJGe [affiliate]
  • Connect with Eli on LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in.schwartze

Learn More:

Transcript

Neal Schaffer:

Search Engine Optimization. Is it possible that not only are you completely doing it wrong, but maybe you shouldn't be investing in it or maybe you should be investing in SEO in a completely different way. My special guest today is going to change the way that you look at SEO for the better on this next episode of The your digital marketing coach podcast. Digital social media content influencer marketing, blogging, podcasting, blogging, tick talking LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SEO, SEM, PPC, email marketing, who there's a lot to cover, whether you're a marketing professional entrepreneur, or business owner, you need someone you can rely on for expert advice. Good thing you've got, Neil, on your side, because Neal Schaffer is your digital digital marketing marketing coach, helping you grow your business with digital first marketing one episode at a time. This is your digital marketing coach. And this is Neal Schaffer. Hey, everybody, Neal Schaffer here, your digital marketing coach, welcome to my podcast of the same name, search engine optimization. There is a lot that goes into it. And a lot of technicalities, that if we were to read various blog posts about SEO, we would understand that it's quite a complex field. And therefore most companies just go out, hire agencies, maybe consultants, throw a lot of money, and think that just by ranking on Google, it's going to fix all their problems. And they're going to be very successful with their SEO spend, for lack of a better description. Well, that's not always the case. In fact, a lot of companies fail at SEO for not having a user centric perspective, not having a truly holistic perspective on not only why people search, but where it fits into your complete marketing and business funnel. So today, I'm really honored to have one of the opposite gurus in SEO, Eli Schwartz, who is the author of product lead SEO, the why behind building your organic growth strategy, he really looks at SEO in a fresh and innovative way. And what I really respect and enjoy is the holistic perspective he brings to the table when we look at something that a lot of people just get lost in the weeds about. So without further ado, I think you're really going to enjoy this one. Here's my interview with Eli Schwartz. You're listening to your digital marketing coach, this is Neal Schaffer. Eli, welcome to the your digital marketing coach podcast. Great to be here. Thank you for having me now. Hey, thanks for coming on Eli. So you are the author, what caught my eye about you was, uh, you're the author of probably the best selling book on search engine optimization right now on Amazon product lead SEO. And as I read the book, I understood what that meant. But at first, it's like, product lead SEO. So I know we're gonna dive really deep into that. And it's going to be a great education for the listeners. But before we do that, I know from reading your book about your history, with Survey Monkey, and all these other wonderful companies that you work with, why don't we start with how did you get into search engine optimization to begin with?

Eli Schwartz:

Yeah, so just a couple of clarifications there. It's not the best selling book on SEO, but it should be the best selling books on SEO and Amazon are people that do the kind of SEO i that i don't recommend. So they're better at doing those kinds of tactics to make their books be the best selling book on Amazon on Amazon, too. However, there shouldn't be a best selling book on on SEO, because what we're gonna talk about and how you build a great product, and really a user centric focus for SEO. And that's the way SEO should be, and should not be based on hacks. So we'll get there, you know, long road ahead. So how I got into SEO, it was sort of accidental, I didn't realize I was doing SEO, when I first started doing SEO, I was kind of messing around on websites. And I'm I try to always be very curious. I've always been very curious. And notice the sort of things that drove people to my website, like I went into the logs back when those were available. And you can see the keywords. I'm like, wow, that's, that's fascinating. I wonder what made someone search that and also, what made my website show up for that. And I started toying with that. And then I got a job at a company called QuinStreet, where my role was to work with companies that were ordered to work with affiliates who are really good at driving traffic for the companies on the other side of QuinStreet that really wanted to buy that traffic from them. So it was a lead generation company. The affiliates I've worked with really good driving traffic, turning that traffic into leads, and then there'll be willing willing to pay for that. And my affiliates were fascinating. They sat in their basements. And they made $50,000 $100,000 A month using SEO. And I just, I just absorbed everything they did, I learned everything from them, I read Aaron walls book, SEO book, which is the only book I get my hands all the time, I actually read a when it was around, SEO for Dummies from Bruce Clay, dove into Yahoo Site Explorer, I've just started playing with it. And then I, you know, started interviewing for jobs saying I knew how to do SEO, a little bit. And I was fortunate in that I found another job that actually allowed me to do it as a part of my day job. And that's how I got into it. And I'd say what kept me in it early on, and what is still what keeps me in today, which is the fascination, the curiosity about how this whole thing works.

Neal Schaffer:

So over time, obviously, search engines have changed, SEO has changed. And you've really created this very, very unique, holistic perspective in the world of SEO that I had never heard of until I read your book. So why don't we start with when people think of SEO, and I am not people that know me, I am a social media marketer turned digital marketer. So SEO is still relative best selling author, not an exactly. New York Times Wall Street Journal. And and therefore I, I sort of take a new approach on sort of what works, what doesn't from my own perspective and experience, what have you. And obviously, that's led you to this conclusion that SEO errs are doing it wrong when they're just focused on keywords. So why don't we start there? And to sort of uncover more about your book? I think that when people think of SEO, they think, oh, I need to do keyword research, I need to target keywords, I need to rank for those keywords. What are we missing? When we do that?

Eli Schwartz:

It goes even beyond keywords. And it really comes down to a focus of like what they're trying to do, which is they're on trying to understand how Google's algorithm works and how they're going to achieve higher visibility for their website. And they look at the keywords as those hooks. So here's Google, here's this algorithm, let me understand the algorithm. Let me use keywords as the hooks. And I really think that's going about it the whole wrong way. I think the idea is in the idea for all marketing, social media, SEO, paid media, brand media is users, you want to sell something, even if you're not selling an actual product, you're selling eyeballs, you're selling your media, you're selling retention, you're selling on brain authority. And this idea of keywords moves you away from that focus. And it's like I just want to be high on some keyword, I want to rank highly on some keyword. And I'm going to bend what I really shouldn't be doing towards that. So my approach to SEO is really, there's users, and I want to be found word by those users. And I want those users to not be surprised. So if they find me, they should, the experience should also match. So what's interesting is within paid marketing, let's say with Google paid marketing, everyone understands that concept of quality score, which takes into account landing page experience, but takes into account the words you use, which takes into account the engagement rate you have on your ads, SEO should be the exact same thing, which is when some when I show up on that keyword, does someone want to click is there because it makes sense for what they've searched? When they click? Are they surprised by what they saw? Or does that match also, somehow SEO got divorced from that whole concept of like, Oh, I just want to show up high. And the rest of That's not my problem. So I want to bring SEO back to that which is search is just a medium for people to find us. And just so you know, I'm not just focused on Google, I think there will come a day, very soon will where there will be other search engines. And I'm not saying that Bing is eventually going to move beyond its 2% market share. It's 5% market share. I'm saying that search is actually not that complicated anymore. A lot of companies do search, Amazon does search Apple does search, Facebook to search and of course, Microsoft does search for Bing. So really, it comes down to market share and captive eyeballs. So Apple decides to make a search engine. And they show results, though probably not going to be as good as Google's results, because Google has 20 years of algorithm building an AI to make their results really, really good. And Apple's results are going to be really, really good. But the people that use that Apple search engines, their lives aren't going to be that much worse. So And the same would go for Amazon. I mean, look, you can already do searches on your Echo devices. And the your life isn't that much worse. And I was talking to some recently who they only use Bing, they hate Google for some reason. And their life isn't that much worse than my life. They find the results you're looking for they find the places to eat, they find the information they're looking for. Yes, again, it's not I don't think it's as good as Google. But again, it works. So I think if you think about search as a medium and search as a concept, then you're focusing on the user, which is how do I create the best content, the best material for the users that are going to be using searches immediately, not how am I going to understand Google's algorithm of today and improve upon that so I show up as high as possible.

Neal Schaffer:

So is taking, you know, continuing this conversation then how, based on everything you said, how can the listener who is you know, a marketer, entrepreneur business owner? How can they identify an SEO opportunity that probably exists for any company in any industry today.

Eli Schwartz:

So what I'll say is heretical for most people in SEO, which is a lot of people should not do SEO. Because when I say do SEO, and when people think of do SEO, they think of it as an investment. They think I'm going to do SEO, I'm going to spend time doing this, I'm going to hire an agency, and I'm going to pay an agency to help me with SEO. It's not a no cost effort. It's not a no time effort. So I think many, many companies should not be spending time or money on that effort. They should not be hiring me, they should not be hiring agencies, they shouldn't be researching and learning the algorithm, because SEO is not a meaningful channel for them. And what I mean by that is, let's say a business let's say a restaurant or restaurant should not spend time on SEO itself. They should spend time on doing really like making a really good Google My Business page, they should spend time on making sure that people can find them on maps, they should spend time on making sure their hours are updated. They're getting they're getting reviews or responding to questions, but they should not spend time on typical SEO efforts, like ranking on keywords. It doesn't matter if you rank on the word Chinese food generically in America, if no one is going to come from California to New York to that restaurant, those ranking on Chinese food, that is a useless effort, they should rank on Chinese food near me, which is going to be something related to a location. They shouldn't focus on things like a best menu or like whatever keywords a tool might suggest, that business should not do SEO. Likewise, many other small service businesses not do SEO, when I moved, I moved from California to Texas, and I was looking for a mover I was Googling like movers and San Jose movers and movers near me, many of the websites I saw were absolutely horrific. They loaded slow. They had images of like, you know, people without shirts moving pIant like dropping pianos like that unsold me I did not want to call them after I sold them after I saw that. So they shouldn't do SEO. I don't think a lot of b2b businesses should do SEO. In the way I said around investment. Because ranking on a tool like let's say it's CRM, you want to rank on the word CRM, that's a very, very hard term to rank on. Capterra is ranking on G twos ranking on hub spots right here on Salesforce, now you have a new CRM, very hard to rank on, I wouldn't put my effort into that as the term I'm gonna put a lot of money and time into that. Because even if you do rank on that, a lot of things have to happen before someone decides to convert on that keyword CRM. So I think a lot of b2b businesses shouldn't rank on shouldn't put any effort into SEO, who should put effort into SEO, those that have a consumer channel or any channel that's really going to come from search? So going back to your question is, how should they identify an SEO opportunity? Well, if you have users that are discovering your business from search, you want to understand how are they discover your business from search. And one of the ways that I really like to really get this started, is to spend as much money can counterintuitively spend as much money on paid marketing as possible in search, paid marketing, to say, This is my use case, I sell appliances, people are looking for the names of appliances, looking for the features of appliances, and I convert very well on those search terms. What if I built SEO around this, I would save myself that time and effort. Now, another thing that comes down to SEO, when you think about SEO is SEO fits at a different place within the funnel. And there's not a lot of understanding around that within the client base. Obviously consultants knew this. But SEO was much higher in the funnel than other channels, it's much higher in the funnel than paid marketing, which is I'm ready to convert. So know where you are in the funnel and build the effort around that. So if you're building these ads, and they're lower in the funnel they're working, then you think about what can I do that's a bit higher in the funnel, you're not doing the exact same thing.

Neal Schaffer:

So in product lead city, SEO you, thank you for giving that example, you actually gave the example of the b2b SaaS and why you don't recommend SEO for that, once again, you know, extending upon what you said you also mentioned, it's just a very, very long sales cycle. Can you go into you know, further, I guess which types of b2b SaaS is such a huge growing industry, tons of startups? I mean, a lot of SEO is at work at those companies in various slack groups and Facebook groups, as you can imagine, what types of b2b companies would SEO be a better fit for do you think? Or am I asking the

Eli Schwartz:

wrong question? No, no, that's a good question. The shorter the sales cycle, the more it makes sense. It also comes down to what the behavior is. So for example, I worked at Survey Monkey for many years. Survey Monkey is of course, a SaaS company. And it's technically b2b, no one has a family survey monkey subscription. Maybe they're it's under their Gmail address, and maybe it's under their personal credit card or they don't have a family, right. So but that is a consumer ish product. It's the kind of product where a person at a business says, oh, I want this I'm Just going to pay for it. And that's a process of, I don't need to seek approval, I don't need to get RFPs. So, products like that makes sense. The other kind of products that make sense are the kinds of products again, low cost, low cost, short sales cycle are things that people naturally search for. So CRM, yes, they search. But before you make a CRM decision, you think about a lot of things, you're going to find all the competitors. Now, if it's a tool, like, let's say it's a note taking tool. So you're looking for a notetaking tool in b2b. And it's something that is very inexpensive, so short sales cycle, and the kind of thing where you're like, well, I'll pay for a month. And then if I don't like it, I'll cancel after a month. That's where it does make sense. There are search around and I'm looking for a notetaking tool with very specific features. That makes sense. Again, if there's consumer behavior, it's the kind of thing that can you behave like a consumer, I search for things that make quick decisions, I call up my credit card, but I don't like it, I cancel. SEO makes sense. If it's a long sales cycle, it's not consumer behavior of multiple decision makers. And even if it's not a long sales cycle, that doesn't make as much sense. The other piece that won't make a lot of sense, is if you before you make a decision, you will always find out the competitors. So good. There's great SAS tools out there that are doing a lot of things that are innovative. Again, when it's something's innovative, I also don't think there's a great use case for SEO because no one's really searching with that innovation. But forget the innovation for a second, if it's innovative, but it applies, it applies a solution that everyone's looking for, then there's SEO there. However, if it's the kind of use case, where you're making a decision, you're going to bake it into a product, let's say you're searching for an analytics tool, and you need to decide whether using Google Analytics, or Adobe analytics, or Mixpanel, or any of the tools similar to that where you're baking it into the product, there is no way that you're not going to find out all those other products before you make a decision. So even if it's a product, an analytics product, where they're able to rank number one on the query analytics, let's say Google and Alexa will put their thumb on the scale, something like that, you're definitely going to find out that competitors for that product before you make a decision, because that entire product is baked into your your product into your processes. So just because Google's ranking number one for Analytics doesn't mean you're not going to then find out about Mixpanel, we're then going to find out about Adobe Analytics, you really want to make sure that you get all the information you have. So if Adobe is not doing a great job of SEO, and you can't find them, you will continue to drill and say who can be some Google Analytics. And you'll go to those other tools like kaptara, like G two, and you'll discover Adobe analytics. So SEO is not really a part of the decision making process. So it's again, to wrap this up. You want to do SEO on SAS, when there's consumer behavior, short sales cycle, and SEO is a part of the decision making process.

Neal Schaffer:

So let's take a step back because you had hinted at, and I haven't finished reading your book, I'm close to the end. But you had hinted out if you're already getting organic traffic, and it seems to be converting or adding value. Let's take a deeper look into that. Let's do a paid campaigns, we can experiment and see if there's actual you know, if if our product matches what people are searching for, if it converts. So that sounds like a process that any company listening can do. And a bit of other advice you're giving is maybe you're just you just shouldn't be investing in SEO. But I guess if we take a step back from my perspective, on digital as a whole, there's only a few different channels you can use to gain visibility. And search is just this huge channel. So even when you say you shouldn't be doing SEO at all, are you saying that there's still more important things you should be doing. But if you can keep a minimum investment, you should continue doing it. Obviously, technical SEO is something at a minimum every company should be doing. I think you talk about that in your book as well. At a minimum, even if you're not proactively creating a lot of content, at least having the technical structure so that it's indexed properly and comes up properly. But are you really saying that if you're in it for the long haul, and you have a big enough budget, big enough revenue, that there's no place for SEO potentially out of business?

Eli Schwartz:

Yeah, so it really comes down to my what my definition of investing is. So by investing, I say don't hire full time employee, don't hire an agency, Jones, you can you can spend $99 on SEM rush or hrs that's not a real investment. You can make sure that the website package you choose is SEO friendly. And by the way, most of them today are for the basics like the you're allowed to make your own URLs. You could change your title tags, you can do meta descriptions, you can cross link with it, you can use canonical. So what do you do with your content? So that's all I'm saying is do the basics, but don't make it an investment. If it's not a channel. It's it's really, I mean, this is the most obvious marketing advice, which is don't spend money on advertising if you're not going to get users from it. But it's funny the metrics that people use with an SEO they would never use it another channel like rankings, rankings our customers. Now imagine you ported that same KPI over to paid marketing instead. Well, I've most successful paid marketing campaign ever, because I'm number one on 1000s of keywords. That's, that's useless, right? People are clicking, you're wasting money. You want to you want to have CAC, you want to have LTV. So I still say the same thing should apply to SEO. Eventually, you do want to have those kinds of metrics, which is I spent $5,000 a month on SEO $60,000 per year, this was my SEO investment. I broke even I know for sure I broke even on that investment. Now, you know, I can expect to do that right away. I think SEO takes a long time 12 to 18 months. But if at no point in time, can you ever calculate whether this was a good investment, I would, I would caution against really making a serious investment there. Again, the basics, even technical SEO, I wouldn't do an audit, because I've seen many, many audits, and I've given many audits, many of them, if you follow over, you don't necessarily see an increase relative to the investment you made in the audit. So that's really my point, which is don't make a serious investment, do the basics.

Neal Schaffer:

Got Yeah, I do a seminar shot and I get like, 60% I do an RFP I get like 98% It's like, but um, but it sounds also and maybe this explains why your book seems more geared towards executives and decision makers who ended up a deeper understanding of SEO, and that you've probably come across a lot of companies that just assume by spending money at SEO, it's going to spend this achieve that. And what you're saying is you need to look at this a lot more holistically is that sort of the gist of

Eli Schwartz:

you have to Yeah, and I and I've been burned a few times, you know, in my consulting by taking on clients that I don't think are fit for SEO, and I tried to convince them against it. And then like a year later, they're like, you know, this really hasn't worked out for us. And like because your b2b. No sale happens until after someone has watched for webinars and talk to a salesperson. I kind of told you this was going to happen. We built a bunch of pages, but nobody's looking because it's not the right fit people. It's b2b, they're not looking. So that's, you know, that's been my experience, I think that will hold true for many businesses of that type.

Neal Schaffer:

That's great advice. I want to switch gears to the actual title of your book. And what I thought was a really fresh and innovative way of looking at apps, SEO, from that user perspective with with product lead SEO. So for those of you listening to understand product lead growth, I think the understanding will be come a lot quicker. But if you don't know what that concept means, can you sort of school us in in product lead SEO? And I'm really curious, because as I read the book, it seemed like a lot of examples of successful product led SEO were from larger enterprises. I'm curious, when you work with smaller businesses, startups, it sounds like a major investment to make to create this product led SEO platform. Maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to get your advice on that as well. Yes.

Eli Schwartz:

Okay. So usually, this is one of the first questions I get asked in the podcast. And I explained that the what the opposite of product lead SEO is, but we already started there. We talked about keywords. Essentially, product lead SEO is user led SEO. But it goes much deeper than that you're building something around an actual user that comes that's on search. Now, the reason I call it product lead SEO, is because it's you're building a product, you're not just writing blog posts, writing blog posts is not SEO, I think you should write blog post, I think even b2b companies that are not doing SEO, they should write blog posts, because there's a readership for it, you want to tell the user something, it's part of the user journey. That's not SEO, even if you get no search traffic, but you people show up on your blog and read it organically and go blog to blog, or you can email it out, or you can share it on social media, that you should do that you shouldn't write it just for SEO. When I say product lead SEO, I mean that your understanding that there is a user out there on search that is looking for something that you can sell, and you build an entire product around it. Ideally, it's a large product, because the more content you have, the more pages you have, the more opportunities you have for search, the reality is, is that there's always gonna be an 8020 Rule around search around most of your paid content. traffic's going to come in to small amounts of content. And then you're also going to have you're going each page will be capped at the amount of keywords that could bring, which means it's capped at the amount of traffic it could bring. So let's say each page will have no more than 100 keywords, which is a lot of keywords. And each of those keywords will say the maximum we'll have, you know, 100 people, 500 people on each of those looking for each of those keywords per month. The more pages you have, the more content you have, the more you multiply your opportunities, I really find the more users so does it only have to be for big businesses. Well, I give examples of a businesses because they're successful. So the examples I give my favorite example product that SEO is Zillow, Zillow knew there was a user case out there of people wanting to know the value of homes. You could find the value of homes before Zillow existed. You had to go to the courthouse, you had to look up how much someone paid for a house, you had to assess how much I mean, the tax authorities always do this, how much other people are paying for houses and then try to calculate the value houses. Zillow took in all that data and they built a database that anybody can use. So that's a user case they there was a user case there and then they built a product which extends into 200 300 million properties. And then on those pages, they continue to build out such as that product. Another example I gave was TripAdvisor. So TripAdvisor is in the trailer review space. Other companies don't travel review space, like travel blogs, they write blog posts about individual properties. In Manual content. TripAdvisor created a product around every single property in every single city, in every single state. In every single country. In every single language, the taxonomy is really a product, let us see Oh, and they populate it with freely available content that comes from Hilton and Marriott and dazing. And whatever the chains are, they're very written that they populate it with Google Maps content where it is they populate it with schema data, which is does this place have a restaurant is a parking, and then they layer on the user generated content, which makes it a really functional page. So that's product lead SEO, can anybody do that, of course, if you're an E commerce site, and you can create curated lists around something that people want. So say you're selling pet products, and you, you know that one of the features that comes in on the pet product description is there hypoallergenic, maybe no one already focuses on this. And now you can make hypoallergenic and you can make different listeners, lists and sorts based on the products that are the ingredients that are in each of these products. That's product lead SEO, that's building a product around the user is programmatic, which I love. It's scalable, which is important for other traffic, but it's a product. But I really think that if anybody understands their user, and has the ability to scale a product they can, regardless of their size.

Neal Schaffer:

That's really fascinating. So what you're recommending, then the product might not be this technical platform. But it could just be educational content, in essence, at scale, yes. At scale, a library? Well, I know we overuse that term library, education.

Eli Schwartz:

Right. So educational content, again, if if it doesn't scale, then you're limited by how much content you can create. So the reality is, if you are writing content, a single writer can't produce probably, I know, writers will complain if they're listening to this. But a single writer probably can't produce more than a great piece of content every other day. That's the reality. It just they need a day to write it, they need a day to edit it. And that's it. So now you have one writer, they can produce two to three pieces of content per week, you know, they work 50 weeks a year, we're talking 100 110 pieces of content maximum, right, that's the that's the best they can do with one writer. Now you want to produce more than 100 pieces of content a year, yet another writer, another salary, right. So if you're writing content, you're limited by resources. If you're creating programmatic content, which is you're merging different datasets like Xeloda, now you can get to 200 300 million, and potential now all these 200 million 200 million pages, they're not getting, you know, 1000 visits on each one. But some of them get a lot of visits, let's say Barack Obama's house gets a lot of traffic. Joe Biden's house in Delaware gets a lot of traffic, my personal house in Texas does not right. So I balance it out. There's a lot of potential for traffic there. And then of course, for monetization, their key important ingredient for product lead SEO is that has to monetize along with your business, you can't build a really good product lead, if I'm in the pet space and build a really good product around real estate, that's useless. But for Zillow, they built this really great database, and then they monetize it with very clear adjacent monetization, which is mortgages and realtors, and, you know, the like home developers and designers and all the things like you have to build a product that ties into your core product. Gotcha. So

Neal Schaffer:

getting back to the programmability, the scalability is being able to access data, if there were databases or product feeds of hypoallergenic products and being able to access that net and display that. And then that becomes a scalability part. Gotcha. Yeah.

Eli Schwartz:

So So yeah, that's an engineering challenge. But there is like I said, my book, I don't know if you got this part that blue ocean SEO. Yeah, I think it exists for everything. And I think as things grow, so Zillow didn't exist 15 years ago. Now, Zillow exists. Now you have ideas layered on top of Zillow, which is I would like to find homes that have pools. Now you can create new lists, TripAdvisor didn't list. So businesses always have to pick but if they don't pivot, and they don't expand their product, let SEO creates more opportunities for product let SEO. So governments I think are great sources of bad data or like not good data, but bad presentation data. So you can take that government data and now you can merge it into new products. It's really about differentiation. So you can take what Zillow has done, learn it merge multiple datasets into it. So here's the government. Here's a user generated content piece. Now, here's a brand new Zillow product, which is better than the existing Zillow product.

Neal Schaffer:

Gotcha. So we've covered a lot I want to ask you two specific questions one covered in your book one not extremely controversial against not one last. One thing you covered in your book that I don't think is covered a lot is the value of internal linking. I know we're gonna get a little technical here, but you have a chapter on tactics. So can you just you know, very briefly talk about Why people overlook it and why it's important.

Eli Schwartz:

I think people overlook a lot of things in SEO, because the thing that gets the most visibility in SEO is backlinking. Because it's either two things either most visibility and SEO one is PageSpeed, which is ridiculous, because there's a red, yellow green score. So people focus on it, they think if they achieve that they're gonna get magical traffic. Yeah, I don't want to go into too much, but not the case, right? You, it really comes down to reading my book, understanding of how Google is supposed to work. From a holistic standpoint, and scoring green is not going to change the way Google views one website from a holistic standpoint. One thing I would say is, I don't know what the percentage is. But let's be generous and say 90% of websites don't do SEO. That's a fact. I think it's probably 99% of websites in the world don't do SEO. So all the rules that Google has, has to work for the 100%, not just the 90%. So Google doesn't want to say and by the way within that 90% is governments and universities and researchers and small businesses, Google can't say I'm only going to reward the 10% that do SEO at the detriment of a really good government website that does not know how to do what they're supposed to do. So that's never going to be the case doesn't matter, red, yellow, green zone HV. Same goes with internal linking. Now, too much paying too much attention is paid to backlinking because it's, again, a deliverable process. There's a lot of agencies are able to sell on deliverables, and they're delivering backlinks. But really, it's important to understand the idea of backlinks to understand internal links, which is Google's algorithm, which is now 2120 23 years old, right? So it's funny that people take advice from 23 years ago, and think it applies in 2022. But Google started by using backlinking, which is looking at the authority of a specific page, and how it links to another website and saying, Well, if that site, if Stanford can link to this personal website, they must know what they're talking about. If that personal website, links to another page, then you're sort of passing that Stanford credibility on through internal linking is the same concept. Without the manipulation, which is my homepage is the most important. If I'm willing to link to my products page, they must be important. If I don't link to my privacy page, it's probably not important. Now, later on a lot of other things around this, which is Google says, well, that thing you're linking to is called Blog blog may not have evergreen content, even if you're linking to on every page, I'm not going to value those. That's a privacy policy, even if you link to on every page, privacy policies aren't as important as product pages. So that's the idea of really understanding that Google does not necessarily read content, they look at architecture and taxonomy. So the better your internal linking is to most important pages, the better certainly, as I went off on Google divers, I wrote better search engines as a whole are going to understand the value of pages within a website. Some websites have, you know, there's a client I'm working with has 100 million pages, Google needs to understand which of those 100 million are valuable. And that's where internal linking gets important. And, you know, I said, I went off on Google every second, all search engines will end up doing the exact same thing. So Google does this. We know Google does this. Bing will do it, Apple will do it. Amazon will do it Facebook will do it doesn't matter what search engine will do it, it just makes a lot of sense. How do you evaluate which pages are important and which pages are not who want to look at which pages are crossing?

Neal Schaffer:

So I guess, if you have 1000 pages on your small business website, and you have what you what you would call orphan content, that that are not linked to from any other page? Well, if you didn't bother linking to that page, then search engines are gonna say, well, there's probably not very valuable content. Right? Exactly. Got it.

Eli Schwartz:

Yeah, if your website is small, it doesn't really matter. If 100 pages on your website, how you internally link doesn't matter that much. It's really when you have 10s of 1000s of pages. That's where it matters a lot more.

Neal Schaffer:

Gotcha. So content, in many ways, because of this way that SEO is keyword driven. Contents become somewhat of a commodity these days. And we've seen the emergence of these AI tools that actually are getting better and better at writing content that may not be 100%. Human yet, but they're getting better and better. I'm really curious, I know that you don't use MAC's you prefer PC. So I'm assuming that you're, you know, against these tools. And I'm really curious as to whether you like them, or not, more and more people are using them. Where do you see this going with? I'm assuming search engines are using even smarter AI. But, you know, tell us what you think about this trend?

Eli Schwartz:

Yeah, I think it's a funny trend. i The problem with it is it really comes down to my thesis around product with SEO, which is user led SEO, you're writing for users, you know, if you're trying to sell users, and you're writing terrible content, you know, most of this AI content, you can tell it's aI content, and it looks a little off. Now, if you're gonna write AI content that doesn't look like aI content, and it can convince a user to buy and plus they're gonna guard does it great that then you've achieved the ideal. And search engines really don't care whether a computer wrote it or a person wrote it, if it makes sense, and it is going to work for users. I think that the gap here is that it's aI content right? First Search Engines not written for users. So if you can, users by search engines don't buy, robots don't buy. So if you can write content for users, doesn't matter how you write it.

Neal Schaffer:

Awesome, great advice. I think we've covered a lot any other, you know, one or two things, points of advice or things we didn't cover that you just want to call out businesses for doing SEO wrong. Or really think

Eli Schwartz:

about your entire investment structure in SEO, that if you can't, you know, I said it earlier. But like, if you can't justify your spend on SEO, if you don't see how the amount of money you're spending on SEO will ever repaid back, you can't put it in a spreadsheet. Second, guess yourself whether you should be making that investment. And the the other thing I'd say is I just want to really underline this around not investing in SEO. There are basic things to do in SEO, I think one of the easiest things to do an SEO that everyone misses out on his brand SEO. So even if you should not be doing it not be investing in your products and your website as a whole and SEO, you should make sure that your brand is visible for the name of your brand for brand price for brand contact for brand SEO for Brian sucks, like those kinds of things. That's where you should do SEO. So even if like, again, you're a BD b2b product, you're sold at trade shows, you're sold through salespeople, salespeople open up that conversation. And then users will go on search, and they'll find you. And if you're not visible, then you can't do the follow on you can't continue that engagement. So that's where you should invest in SEO. Really. Like I said, if there's a user there, then you should invest in it with b2b, a lot of times there's not users but on the brand part there is. The other thing I'd say is when you look at holistic SEO, which is I want to drive more value from my search engine channel. Miranda's low hanging fruit. Yes, it for an SEO consultant or an SEO agency, it may not be sexy to say, well, I moved you from position three to position one on your own brand name. But you may have a 60% conversion rate on your own brand name. So if your goal is dollars coming from the SEO channel, that should be part of your focus, make sure that bases covered before you really move on to the non brand.

Neal Schaffer:

And I want to based on that I want to give a shout out to Jason Barnard who's written a book all about this. And I was interviewed in his podcast. And really I mean, have you heard of other people like Jason that are really strategically talking about this? Or is he pretty much the only

Eli Schwartz:

he's he is one of the few Yeah, and again, not enough people talk about like how important your brand visibility is on search there because they're focused on keywords like they ignore their brand. When it goes up, they go into sem rush matress, they assume that they own they own that already. No one owns anything on search.

Neal Schaffer:

Awesome, great advice. Hopefully, we'll have Jason on the show. But Eli product line SEO, the why behind building your organic growth strategy, everyone listening should go out and buy it, Eli, where else can people find you and contact

Eli Schwartz:

you. You can find me on LinkedIn, just search my name on LinkedIn. Follow me on Twitter, five le and of course, buy my book. And one more thing, and I'm sure any of this is important to you, too. If you buy my book, take a second, give it five stars, if you think it deserves five stars, I sold 1000s of books and I have like less than a way, way, way less than a percentage of reviews and ratings. So it's so easy now that like I care more about reviews and ratings. I tried to give everyone everything I buy on Amazon now gets a review and a rating for me.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, I hear you there my friend. And yes, everyone should definitely do that. For product lead SEO, I'll throw in the age of influence as well, a lot a lot about it. But But thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, you're a true guru in the space. And I know that your advice is going to help a lot of people and definitely go out there by product lead SEO, and any any future books that you plan on writing? Are you done for a while,

Eli Schwartz:

I want to do one of those around great leadership. So you know, at the beginning of my book, I dedicated the book to this late CEO of surveymonkey Dave Goldberg, because he was such a kind leader and he changed my life for this kindness. He really put other people first. And I read articles about him. And people reached out to me, telling me that they didn't know their business leaders like that. So I would like to write a book about all business leaders that really put other people first, like a lot of what we read around business leaders that we look up to, you know, the Jeff Bezos and the world and Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, we're like, wow, look at their ambition that nothing came in their way. No, no humanity came in their way. I think there are many, many people out there that allow humanity to come in the way and put kindness first and you have ideals and I want to tell the story, so we have what to look up to. So that is that is my next book had been meaning to start it for a long time. And now that I know how hard it is to really get into that. I'm surprised that I wrote one book.

Neal Schaffer:

Well, hey, anyone listening if you have worked under a leader or if you know of people like that, definitely reach out to Eli, you can help accelerate the Krishna book. Thank you so much again for your time. Yeah, thank you for having me now. Wasn't that an amazing interview? Like I said, I'm only about 80% done with the book, but it really gave me a fresh, holistic perspective on SEO, those of you that know me know that I'm, you know, the social media marketer turned digital marketer. So, I tend to look at digital marketing a little bit differently than the people that have been doing it for the last decade, maybe I haven't been jaded, maybe I don't have the depth of experience. But, you know, Eli really brought forth a mindset that, to me, just made a lot of sense. So maybe we're over emphasizing SEO in some cases. And in other cases, maybe we're completely missing the boat on what we should be doing. So really, really good reminders. And hopefully, it will lead to some new breakthroughs, when you think about your own SEO efforts and where they fit in your entire digital marketing picture. Alright, everybody, thank you, once again, for tuning in. If you are a new subscriber, make sure you hit that subscribe button. We have great interviews, as well as solo episodes by yours truly coming your way. And if you are an avid listener, I would be honored if you could just take a second or two out of your day, as Eli mentioned about Amazon reviews, reviews on podcast players really do make a difference and can help expose this podcast to others. So if you found value, I hope that you'll take a second to write a review, take a screenshot, share it with your social network, make sure you tag me anything and everything is really appreciated. You know, as I record these episodes, I'm literally staring into a computer screen and looking around my room as a recorded so it's not the most social and interactive of content mediums. And therefore that's where those reviews really do fuel, my fire and my passion for continuing creating great content for you my listener. So thank you for joining me on this journey. And as I like to say we've only just begun lots of great content coming your way. Be on the lookout but that's it for another episode of The your digital marketing coach podcast. Wherever you are on your marketing journey. Keep your eyes on the goal. This is your digital marketing coach Neal Schaffer signing off. You've been listening to your digital marketing coach, questions, comments, requests, links, go to podcast dot Neal schaffer.com. Get the show notes to this and 200 plus podcast episodes and Neal schaffer.com to tap into the 400 Plus blog posts that Neal has published to support your business. While you're there, check out Neil's Digital First group coaching membership community if you or your business needs a little helping hand. See you next time on your digital marketing coach.