Most SEOs are selling snake oil. And it could be affecting a site’s performance. You might not agree with this but should check this episode to know why.
For today’s podcast, I have invited Jeff Ferguson who is a passionate growth marketer and digital educator who has led the online marketing efforts for companies such as Hilton Hotels, Kimberly-Clark, InterActiveCorp, Experian, and Napster.
He is honoured as one of PPC Hero’s “Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts” for three years in a row, Jeff Ferguson is a regular presenter at Ad:tech, AllFacebook Expo, Conversion Conference, eMetrics, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Digital Hollywood, Online Marketing Summit (OMS) and Consumer Electronics Show (CES). He has been both a speaker and board member at Search Engine Strategies (SES).
We have discussed intriguing topics which include why SEOs are just guessing and how SEOs get caught up in data and tech and strategy? And coming back to basics, what comes before SEO? Why many SEOs are selling snake oil?
Jeff and I also talked about the SEO philosophies that you should be following with your online business. What are the paid marketing philosophies that have nothing to do with tweaking PPC campaigns? And how Jeff sees marketing going full circle and coming back to the old-school ways marketers used to make money?
Last but not the least, we both shared our take on the buyer’s journey being so critical for growing your online business.
Discover more about SEO by tuning in to this episode!
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04:00 Key things that SEOs do get wrong about Google
09:00 Is SEO just a guessing game?
15:55 How tools can help you rank on top of the SERP?
29:03 Jeff’s best SEO advice
35:15 How do writers create content that out-phases the old SEO techniques?
37:39 PPC philosophies that you should follow to grow your business
49:10 Where can you find Jeff?
Courses & Training
Courses & Training
➥ To be simple, SEO breaks down into three big areas, which are content, web page architecture, and inbound links.
➥ What Google wants is to provide great answers to its consumers.
➥ SEO tools can give a rough estimation of the data.
About The Guest
Jeff Ferguson is a passionate growth marketer and digital educator who has led the online marketing efforts for companies such as Hilton Hotels, Kimberly-Clark, InterActiveCorp, Experian, and Napster.
In his current role as Head of Production at Amplitude Digital, he has worked with renowned brands such as Belkin, Billabong, CBS, eHarmony, JustFab, Manchester United, Paychex, PetSmart, Popcornopolis, The Smithsonian, Stila Cosmetics, ThriveMarket, Sony and many more.
Honoured as one of PPC Hero’s “Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts” for three years in a row, Jeff Ferguson is a regular presenter at Ad:tech, AllFacebook Expo, Conversion Conference, eMetrics, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Digital Hollywood, Online Marketing Summit (OMS) and Consumer Electronics Show (CES). He has been both a speaker and board member at Search Engine Strategies (SES).
Jeff is a columnist for Search Engine Journal, where his legendary data research projects have tipped many sacred cows of SEO and paid media advertising malpractice.
Connect with Jeff Ferguson
Is SEO squashing your website's performance? Hi, I'm Jaryd Krause. I'm the host of the buying online businesses podcast and today I'm speaking with Jeff Ferguson who is a passionate growth marketing digital educator who has led the online marketing efforts for companies such as Hilton Hotels, Kimberly Clark, interactive core, Experian, and Napster. Now, in his current role as head of production at amplitude digital has worked with renowned brands like Belkin Billabong, CBS eHarmony JustFab, Manchester United, Paychex, PetSmart, Popcornopolis,The Smithsonian, Stila Cosmetics, Thrive Market Sony, and just so many more like, you can see that Jeff is a real deal. Now he's honored as one of the PPC heroes of the top 25 Most Influential PPC experts three years in a row now.
And Jeff is a regular presenter at like ad tech or Facebook Expo conversion conference II metrics search marketing Expo digital Hollywood online marketing summit Consumer Electronics Show, and he's a speaker and a board member at Search Engine strategies. He's also a common columnist for Search Engine Journal where, you know, his data research projects have been tipped by many sacred crows of SEO, sacred cows of SEO and paid media advertising malpractice. So Jeff is the man when it comes to SEO and PPC. And in this podcast episode, Jeff and I talk about why SEOs are just guessing why SEOs get caught up in the data and the tech and the strategies. And they should be coming back to basics. And what actually comes before SEO, we talk about why there's a lot of what they sell are cones or snake or snake oil is what Jeff says and why and why many SEOs are just selling snake oil.
And they actually don't know any different and it's not their fault. We talk about why as well. And then we move into you know, we talk about some SEO philosophies that you should be following with your online business, which I think are very, very important. And I hold close to my heart, but we also talk about some paid marketing philosophies as well, that have nothing to do with tweaking PPC campaigns and things in you know, Google campaigns and Facebook campaigns and stuff like that. But we talk about overarching philosophies that are very, very important. Jeff shares how he sees marketing going back full circle and coming back to the old school days and ways where marketers used to make money.
We talk about econ brands, where they dropped the ball and why the buyer’s journey is critical. And I also explained pretty cool story that I brought back from myself from Bali about a buyer’s journey and massage oil and how we can make a buyers journey that much better with this analogy and the story that I used for our online businesses. Now this is such a valuable episode guys, you absolutely going to love it. Also note that this is this podcast is not the only way that I can help you for free had you buying online businesses.com forwards as free resources where you can download any of my frameworks on how to buy a business, my doodles framework, and you know some case studies on how we've helped people replace their income and live a better lifestyle through buying sites. So check those out there on the site buyingonlinebusinesses.com/free resources.
Now, let's have a chat with Jeff,
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Jeff, welcome to the buying online businesses podcast.
Jeff Ferguson (4:02)
Thank you. Thank you. Pleasure to be here.
Jaryd Krause (4:04)
So excited for this chat. There's so much we can cover. And you've done amazing things in the industry in SEO, PPC and you know, marketing in general. When I when I looked at things that I could ask you, I was like, wow, there's so much where do I Where do I even start here? I want to kind of cover things at a higher level because I feel like sometimes people get too in the weeds and too technical and miss the missed the mark with actual philosophies and good principles with SEO and PPC. Right.
So I want to come back to some SEO philosophies and PPC philosophies that you have. But also sometimes people get so down deep into the weeds and technical changes on their site that they forget about what's important and what Google actually wants. And I see that you've done some content on what most SEOs get wrong about Google. So I wanted to I wanted to bring that up. What are some of the key things that SEOs do get wrong about Google that we should be aware of?
Jeff Ferguson (5:03)
You know, I think the world would most good SEOs get wrong and its end like this, because it's, it's really not their fault, that they get it wrong. It's like we're, you know, the world of SEO is, has created this crazy culture of having, you know, tips and tricks and hacks and things like that kind of driven down their throat and it's, a weird culture that has developed over the years of, you know, that I, you really don't see in any other industry of have a lot of, you know, puffed up chests and things like that, where people are really trying to show off as is, you know, I mean, not interests, maybe you see them like a used car salesman, and, you know, people that are trying to flip houses and things like that, but it's, for some reason, in our business, whatever it is, there's a lot of hucksters a lot of snake oil that's out there in an industry that really doesn't deserve it. Right.
And, you know, because it really is something that, you know, I don't want to call it overly scientific, but it's something that doesn't necessarily need to be all that complicated, right visit, you know, Seo really just breaks down to like three really big areas, which is like content, you know, web page, or web page architecture, and inbound links, right, I know that those are like just the three big right ones that over in, in, SEO is just get it wrong constantly, they want to make it into more complicated things they want to talk about on page SEO, or off page SEO or technical SEO and they want to come up with all these really deep dive nerd core kind of things that, you know, it's around these kinds of things to it and spend time, you know, talking about the algorithm and chasing these types of things. And you know, talking about the updates and talking about, you know, all the different tests that they've run and things like that. And when it comes down to it, Google doesn't want to do that Google doesn't care.
Most of the times a lot of the theories that Google that the SEO is kind of throw out about like, what just happened, and what's moving where it is, you know, if you follow John, and all the other people from SEO, all the other people from Google, they're on Twitter, which is they spend most of their day telling people that they're wrong, right? Like, it's easy to skip up. And like, because I got a theory, it's this and it goes now it just doesn't work that way. You know, it's like, it's, and that’s what John does. Most of his days is just telling people, it's not the way it works. And yeah, I'm, uh, you know, that's, that's why a lot of the writing that I've done if you've read most of my stuff, you know, I called John Lott, because I kind of point back to the fact that it goes, Hey, look, you can, you know, I can pontificate all day long, about, you know, why you should believe me in my writing about why certain things work a certain way in SEO.
But at the end of the day, like, it's because Google said, so, like Google said, it doesn't work this way. Google said, it works this way, specifically, and this is the way it works. And let's, let's not get too weird about this. Right. And that's all there is to it. So I, you know, I tell people like what Google wants is, you know, you know, to provide great answers to its consumers, right? It's, it's got people that it needs to satisfy, it's got people that it needs to bring back over and over and over again, you know, so that it can provide a healthy product episode can actually satisfy, you know, so it can make money.
And so you can actually, you know, satisfied shareholders and everything else down the road. And it's been doing that, you know, for decades now unsuccessfully doing this kind of stuff. And before, as much as he has loved to complain that Google doesn't work as well as it used to, or whatever it is, you know, that's got more users than ever, based on the way that it's working. So like, maybe we should probably get off of our pedestals and, or critiques of how well Google's working and pay attention to how well you know, that it's actually is working these days, and, you know, do our best to actually, you know, give it what it wants for change rather than complaining so much about it.
Jaryd Krause (8:46)
Do you feel like, I spot on agree? You know, what's the point in complaining when you can't do anything about it, and it's going to fall on deaf ears? Because Google is the boss, you know, you're just basically wasting energy complaining, we can relate that to other parts of life as well.
But do you feel that a lot of SEOs do this because they've focused on particular things that they believe the algorithm has changed a certain way. So they need to do certain things for you know, a Featured Snippet or certain things for something that is going to get them more traffic or get them some slight advantage as of this time, rather than just do general? You know, just generally good content that creates those inbound links.
Jeff Ferguson (9:31)
Um, you know, I think they I think they think they might help right, you know, like, I don't want to throw them all under the bus and the idea that they're all complete hucksters, right, they may have seen some kind of inkling over the idea that like, Hey, I did that this one time and it kind of worked. And so like, let's do this again. But I think I think the concept of testing that a lot of SEOs claim they're doing is wildly inaccurate, you know, like, there's the You know, you basically you can't test Google, right?
Anything that any concept of what most people think they're doing with Google is, is, is unfathomable, right? It's it's too big, it's too dynamic. There's too, there's too many pieces, there's too many variables that are actually in this thing for you actually, they're trying to come up with that are causing different things to come up with things. And there's too many, too many things changing on a regular basis. I mean, you literally you're talking about something whose algorithm changes literally every day, it's got hundreds and hundreds of different variables that on any given moment that are determining what appears at the top and you're in, you're talking about an index that's got billions of different pieces of the puzzle in it, at any given moment.
And on any given keyword, you, we simply can't understand what really is causing something to appear at the top for one keyword, like for one given keyword or what it is, right? So if we look at it, and if somebody's trying to point out the fact that like, hey, we understand, like why this one is that they're full of it, right? They really don't have any idea like why that is. And they may try and come back and say, look, it's, you know, because we came up with this, you know, this metric called the domain authority, or who came up with some other credibility to it, are we because like, all these other types of things do, they really don't know, especially if they tried to, like nail it down to one thing, right?
Because it's never just one thing it is, it is an emergent collection of, you know, like hundreds of things that are all working together. To create this, you know, a sum is greater than the, you know, the you know, more of its parts going to things to that came together in that moment. That's something that even Google has admitted, that they don't completely understand. Like, they've kind of created a monster that they don't really understand. And those moments that were worldly things come together and say, look, we're not even sure why that isn't that top spot.
Because we've got several algorithms that are working, that don't necessarily add up, but they all multiply together to create a, you know, a number that decides, like, this is why this is at the top, and it happens for like, you know, billions of different keywords at any given moment that we don't really track on why it is we have quality raters that go back and spot check these things in a regular basis and look back at them later on. I mean, they you know, there's plenty of people that have the best of intentions in the SEO world on trying to, like speculate, like, this is why I think it is, but for the most part, they're just guessing, right, you know, on what it is, and especially if they're doing it with like data that they've pulled on their own, or they've scraped or the dome, whatever it is, and it makes for great conversation sometimes. And it looks very fancy, I'll give them that question.
There's some great people that have really made a great show with this type of stuff. But for the most part, it's really not. It's not anything that's close to the truth. You know?
Jaryd Krause (12:43)
You Yeah, it’s funny when people walk, so we teach people to buy businesses, and to do that you need to do due diligence and either get a lot of data, and there's tools that people will use, and I look at the tools and be like, hang on, how come it's like this, it shouldn't be like this, or is this accurate? And my answer is, like, it's never accurate.
All these tools have, like, there's so many fancy tools out there big tools that everybody uses. That is like in our industry standard that people just use and refer to when they're buying sites, there's metrics based on just off those tools that people will use to buy science, whether that is a good metric, or the metrics not so good. But it's also just an estimation.
Jeff Ferguson (13:24)
Yeah, it’s really just a really rough estimation at that. I mean, it's we're kind of just that I mean, I'm going to give you a fantastic example just to kind of bring it home to you like my, my company, amplitude digital, you know, like I was, I had another company called Fang marketing, there was a different agency, and we merged with amplitude digital, just before the pandemic and of course we there's no way possible for us to see the pandemic coming like there it's just it would have been impossible for us to actually kind of see this stuff and literally we signed the pay the paperwork for this thing in March of 2020.
Like right as this these things were shut down whatever it is, and we're in like we don't you know, like we as it's happening is whatever it is we didn't know how long it was going to last we did we figured like most people says well this could be a month it could be you know a couple of months whatever it is no telling that was going to be yours right that this thing was really taken what it is and we survived it obviously we came to the other end of it you know and you know, I wouldn't say stronger for it but it was one of things where we were like we made it through the other side of it but like as something where that wasn't our plan like our plan was that we were going to merge we're going to get much bigger during the next couple of years to it to where we had a whole plan to it now if you know I had some kind of like tool or some type of advisor that was advised me like you should go for this or you should not go for this based on like what that'll look like well, everything would have been wrong right and I you know there's any outlook I could have gone back and like fired this guy and he would have told me he goes well they sue me because you know no court in the land is going to come after me saying that, you know that they would have seen the panda Am I coming as will ever and that's, that's kind of what SEO is because like, you're it's even worse because you're trying to predict something that is on the shifting sands of search engine results, right. You know, like, it’s a ridiculous thing to even try and like nail down.
Jaryd Krause (15:15)
Yeah, you can predict the weather, but the weather has its own, its own sort of, you know, makes up its own mind. It's an ecosystem that we can try to understand. But sometimes it just happens differently.
Which is, you know, yeah, Google's a big, big ecosystem that, yeah, like you said, you know, a lot of them, you know, still like, well, we don't, we didn't expect it to behave that way.
Jeff Ferguson (15:40)
Oh, totally. Yeah. But the cool thing is, and I want to make sure like I, you know, I point out one section of it is that, like, you know, is that that's what you can learn, right? There's the tools that are out there can teach you a lot, right, they, the, they can give you a lot of information about average number of searches for a given keyword. So which can actually turn around and tell you like, this topic is worth pursuing, right, and to give you a certain understanding, to say, Great, let's go out and actually do develop more content around this this topic, because people actually are looking for that information, right.
So it's not a waste of time to actually develop those types of things. Or, you know, there's these other tools out there that can actually come back and say, these parts of your site are actually broken, right, and, and busted, and things like that. So those tools are really worth that kind of stuff. Or there's other ones where they can't help you develop a kind of a link profile, to tell you like, who is actually like linking to you, or linking to your competitors, on that sense that where you can actually use that to go out and say, Great, I'm going to reach out to those people that are looking to my competitors, and provide my content up to them and say, hey, look, since you're in the Lincoln mood, you know, we've got some great content as well.
Yeah, yeah, if you want to do that kind of stuff, or at the very least, you know, look for inspiration and things like that. So there's, there's tons of great tools. And I think if you approach it from that idea, to where these are really helpful kinds of things, you're in a great space, right? So you know, it's a great way to do it, I think, where, where people kind of like wander off the path with these types of things is that they elevate seo into some types of magic, right?
They then, you know, a lot of these things in a lot of the studies and a lot of stuff that's out there, which I've written on, you know, before now it's actually been a couple of years now that I've since I've written that piece that kind of like tore a lot of these studies up was, you know, really kind of guessing and how these systems work in really trying to decode, like, who how Google works and stuff like that is that they were really trying to find a, you know, something deeper that was going on.
And thankfully, you just don't see those types of studies come out as much anymore after that piece.
Jaryd Krause (17:58)
Yeah. So like, it's good to understand that those tools are there. And we can use them to our advantage, but they're not specifically accurate. Like sometimes our you know, sometimes we do data searches, and all these sorts of things that where you might use specific tool, and it might compound so far out the other way, as well. Right. So we need to be like at least aware that these are estimations, but they can still be used because there are beneficial ones. But coming back to you know, what a lot of SEOs get wrong about Google is them believing that they understand Google, maybe better than Google, parts of Google.
Yeah, maybe the more better, than what Google understands that particular part, I see that you've spoken about, you know, some top SEO scams or cons, but I guess most of the things that some SEOs are talking about is only a con because they you know, even Google doesn't understand Google, how are they going to understand it with that level of depth? Right? Or are there some things that people with a content site like a blog, or even an E commerce business should be aware of when they're looking at hiring an SEO? I mean, of using?
Jeff Ferguson (19:11)
Yeah, I mean, there are, I mean, I got from the standpoint of this is like, if you're, if you're looking to hire somebody to like help write a blog for you. I would, you know, look at them as a writer first and an SEO second, right? It is one of these where I would, I would hire a fantastic writer that knows, and you know, how to research a target audience that uses search, right? Like, that's the best combination that you could look for somebody like that. And it sounds like a subtle difference in this day and age, but it's really as important, right? Because I think I think where the world gets things wrong, is that you've got these SEOs that claim to be content writers, right? And what it really is, is that they're great at keyword research, but they're terrible writers, right? And you end up with this really sloppy writing that you know, like get issue there. And maybe it ranks whatever it is. And then people get there. And they try and read it.
And they go, this is terrible, right? This is, this is awful writing, it's barely legible, right? You know, like that, but it ranks well, right. And that's kind of like the problem we keep running into. But meanwhile, you've got this great content out there that is starting to rank better because Google is, is Google's algorithms just starting to notice this thing better, and it's getting better, better and ranking these types of things. And I think that's what the world is going to look like the helpful content update, who has recently happened, I think that's, that's, you know, a much, very much a sign of things to come, you know, of what the world the you know, that's kind of that's going to come right.
So like, so I think we'll see a lot more of that from Google, because these algorithms are just bound to get smarter and smarter on the road, where they're going to get, they're just going to stop putting up I mean, we saw that with like, Panda, like, you know, which is like a decade old at this point now, right? But like, you know, and it'll, just stop putting up with that temp stuff for this. And look, we honestly could just one great content out of you, and stop messing around with these things, stop sending the thin stuff stop, or whatever it is, and we want an honest to goodness answer, you know, it, you know, for what isn't, and that's what it'll get, right? So start doing that first, right. And then, you know, use all those tools and everything like that, just to figure out like, what people are actually looking for in the first place.
I mean, that's what I teach my clients at UCLA, that's what I teach, you know, from my, my clients and things like that, it's kind of like use these tools, as a writer that finally has amazing tools that have, like writers have always wanted, which is kind of like inspiration tools that are based on data, right, you know, like that we've always wanted, right, you know, like that we, you know, I mean, I was trained as a copywriter runs College, and like, I would have loved this kind of stuff. Like, you know, like you thought about, oh, yeah, exactly. Like imagine like your you sitting around as a copywriter in the ad is going like, I guess I have no word to start, you know, like, nowhere. What do people want to hear? What do you want to do it and you maybe you'd want out, you just some surveys, you'd ask around, you're just trying to guess you're shooting in the dark, this kind of stuff.
And you're just kind of like, Alright, we're going to, I'm going to write about this. And hopefully, it sticks, right? But now you get this amazing, amazing, you know, machine out there where people are asking questions every day, you can go out and honest to goodness, you know, not only see, you know, like, what they're asking, but how much they're asking about it. And it's great, I'm just going to have to follow this trend and do it and see if that trend changes. And keep updating that and write new content and change it up. And, you know, like, pull it back and do whatever it is.
I mean, it's just, it's an it's a modern miracle. And what's funny is, is that there's so many content people that are they're still writers at the end of the day, but they're not using these tools on to these things, because they've been told by the SEO world. No, no, I've got this because this is SEO, this, isn't you? This is Seo, right. And that's where, yeah, it really is both right. And, and so that's where I think we'd like we need to actually hand it back to him and say, like, alright, content people like this is this is actually your job, I'm sorry, we touch this. This is like, where you're going to get this back, because it's the world's a better place, if we actually give it to the people actually know how to write things.
And you know, but we're just going to like to get and maybe you know, at the very least we write nice briefs that are based on that. And you know, then intelligent data that says, like, we did the research first and here, go off and do this stuff. And I think that'll maybe that'll be a transition. But eventually, you'll have writers that will just know how to do it on their own. They said, I'm going to do that research first. And then you went off and do this stuff.
Jaryd Krause (23:23)
Yeah, especially if they know that they know the niche, right. And so, like, what you're like and I agree with this is you can just hire SEOs to write content for you. And but you know, if you can hire somebody that like we're talking about surfing, for example, if you hire a surfer to write content about surfing, they're going to get all those intricate words that an SEO doesn't know about the slang and lingo, the expressions, that a SEO just wouldn't guess, unless they were in that space for a decade or so.
Jeff Ferguson (23:59)
And then you're going to want an accident, right? You know, like, they'll, get them just because they're there. Right? And, and it'll be natural, and completely do it without actually having to do the deep dive research. But in SEO, we'll do it based from like a keyword kind of standpoint, and they'll, they'll still miss a bunch, right? It'll feel completely unnatural, right and completely stymied or whatever it is in real surfers will see it from a mile away, right? They'll go like it goes, you know, like what, what goofball wrote this.
Jaryd Krause (24:27)
And that's the same like, I would like to see that surfing is so unique that it has its own ecosystem of lingo and language. But it's the same with like, if you were going to talk to somebody who was a professional tennis player, or it was like learning tennis, there's so many words that they would be using around the court and the club and that that does just the average Joe does not know about and I think that combined with knowing like different title tags and all the different things in a content brief that you can give that writer is going to be so, valuable. And I guess that's a good SEO philosophy in itself content, obviously content first, and then compound it by adding in the tools and the brief.
Jeff Ferguson (25:11)
Yeah, and if you basically if you told like the content person that's and that's what kind of the way that we break it down, like I said, in class and with my clients and stuff is that, you know, people have got their lanes, right, especially in it, this is really easy and enterprise companies, because you've got people that that have their jobs. And it's, you know, when we, when you build medium and smaller sized companies that you've usually got one person that's doing 100 things, and it's, it's harder, right, because they're, they're usually trying to compound stuff.
But when you get an enterprise company, there's a person that's called the copywriter that whose job is actually gotten new stuff, and maybe, you know, they're in a position where they're actually, you know, going to a WordPress site and actually, like, inputting the word, you know, the work they did just did. And I'm saying in the modern world, they would actually say, great, not only are you taking your work that maybe were word or whatever it is, and putting it actually in, in WordPress, and publishing, or whatever it is, but you know, they should also now be knowledgeable in the fact that they need to fill in the title tag, they need to fill in the description, they need to fill in these little details, they need to know that they need to link to some of their other work in that process, and stuff like that, and make sure that these things are all connected, right?
Because it's not something where as the modern form of their job as somebody that is in the modern form, what it is that that's just included, right? That's just part of like, the modern form of the job, right? And somebody who's like, well, that's a lot, that's a lot to ask them, you know, is it because jobs evolve? Right? You know, like, it's not, it's not something where jobs just fixate, if you look at, you know, even what a what a, you know, what the form of a copywriter looked back in the 50s, it didn't look anything like it does now, right? Or whatever, you know, for whatever. So, like jobs, jobs just evolve by nature, and like, what it’s going to look like, anyway, you know, what include these types of things I understand, like, we just, it's time to actually start including these pieces of the puzzle.
And, you know, they're from the research that they do, should include, you know, an audience that uses search engines and start with, but also that would include, you know, including these little technical details, and I'm not saying they, these people need to start, like learning how to code, right, you know, we don't need them to go in and learn how to, like, you know, rework the DNS or learn how to do a 301 redirect or any of that kind of stuff. This is just not their job, right. You know, it's like, stay in your lane. But filling in a title tag, you're not like, you're not even have to title like, it's just an it's like we're talking word, press, right.
So it's a form, right, you know, like, it's nothing crazy, right? It's this kind of stuff like that kind of basic understanding where this kind of stuff and I end, we teach it all time they fill it in, if it's something breaks, then bring in, bring in the web developer to say, like, Okay, what's something went sideways here. And we need to fix this. But that's, that's all there is to it. But like, you know, I bring that up to SEOs, and they lose their mind. Right? Because they can tell like, I guess I'm out of a job, if that kind of scenario happens, because I've lost this kind of piece of the puzzle.
And I'm saying it really isn't, you know, like, it's, it's your job is evolving. And what you know, what your job is going to look like, it's probably going to look different than a decade and two decades anyway.
Jaryd Krause (28:13)
So Well, I mean, their job is the strategy of it all, it's a gift, you're working in unison. And with the writer, hey, I'm going to work out the strategy. I'm going to give you a lot of data that like the people are loving, you go away and run with it, because you're the expert in the field includes some of these things, and then I'll keep working on you know, more like improving the strategy.
And then, you know, you work together hand in hand, that's otherwise the SEOs are playing a, you know, a win lose game where they are only the ones doing all the work, and the writers are losing. And in fact, the SEOs end up losing because they don't end up getting the results because they're just doing just the SEO and not getting the perfect language and lingo in their in their content. Want to ask you, Jeff about Yeah, you do a lot of teaching. What would you say is the number one thing or the most important thing that you teach your students around SEO? The biggest thing for them to grasp? I guess that’s critical.
Jeff Ferguson (29:13)
That they, you know, they can't do it either. I mean, which sounds silly, right? But it's this idea that that SEO is something that's very approachable and that it's not that it's not magic and that it's not you know, the this kind of like voodoo, like kind of stuff that has been sold. Like I said, I think outside right, it really is and I think SEO is just a fantastic job over the years of really making it just unapproachable for a very long time right and even you know, even people that offer these kind of like online courses that are out there that are usually scams, to be completely honest with the radio that the members they charge big bucks for these things and, you know, instead of lookouts you know this one time I'm free for this one And then it's a membership that you know that you have to keep paying on for this and this and whatever it is.
But even then the way they sell these things is, is that you have to hold on to them. Because you, you know, things change so often and, uh, you know, you never know what things anything, if it breaks, you're going to need to come back and I'm going to have to reteach it all over again and stuff like that. But, it's like, they really do it and they sell it with all the language of kind of like, it's, you know, these five simple things, and these, whatever it is, but it really isn't, right, you know, the stuff they need to do is like, I really break it down from the idea of like, hey, look, it's really a collection of like marketing and web development and public relations tactics that any self-respecting, you know, company should be doing anyway, even if search engines didn't exist, right.
I mean, and, you know, there are some things that are it that you do on the web development side that are, are speaking directly to search engines, there are some, you know, things that are that are in the thing that are in the scheme, like kind of side of things where they finally decided, like, Hey, we're, going to talk to a surgeon, right? But for the most part, like, you know, you're like, your website supposed to be mobile friendly, right?
Your website is supposed to load quickly, right? It's supposed to have content on it, right? Like, these things, these things they're supposed to be, but even if search engines weren't such a major factor to it, you were supposed to be doing this the whole time. They're supposed to have links, like Google, like, knew all this stuff, they just took advantage of the fact that that was supposed to be there and is rewarded you for it. You know, SEOs have really kind of programmed our brains to think backwards from the sense that that, you know, like, we're doing all these things in the name of SEO, when in reality, and it’s the other way around. Like they're supposed to be there first, right?
You know, like and humans to have a better life. Yeah, they're the humans they like it's a human first program, like the users is what we're doing these things for where this, like SEO is related. We're just honing them. So the robots have a cleaner surface to work with later on, right as after the fact so that the search engines can find it. So then again, once again, so the humans can find it, right. Like, it's, it's really, like the humans fell out of the equation so quickly in this stuff, and CEOs really have taken that story to a really crazy standpoint. And it's really by kind of like grabbing all they can, you know, like, all these things are ours, like, like everything in this.
Jaryd Krause (32:19)
Technical and scary where well, yeah. How could you possibly know what you're doing? Because it changes all the time. And well, its main thing that doesn't change is that it's the same thing. That is what we've said, like, probably for like, the last 20 minutes, it's about great content for people to make their lives.
Jeff Ferguson (32:39)
If you get that, right, and you make sure that Google can actually get to it. Yeah, you’re mostly going to be fine. Right, you know, like, and get some links. Links or blog products, you know, it's a second order consequence of great content as well. Right Yeah. If you're, if you're doing some really great stuff, and people find it, like, its fine, and I look at the end, but like, the rest of it will work itself out.
It’s, you know, like, it's, they make it sound like it has to be this this engineering, heavy lifting kind of things to it, but it really doesn't have to be it's really, you know, most of the stuff that we find, mainly, like, as, you know, my large scale audits for these really big companies that, you know, like I've done for, like the Smithsonian for Manchester United for, you know, for literally big companies. And, like, the stuff we find is like you're going, you know, what, like, like, somebody should have found that already.
Like that stuff. Like, they really that should be found, like, they, you know, like, the these are, like technical things that that really shouldn't have been, like, left alone for as long as they had been, right. And you hate to say that, because it just means that, like, there's a technical problem that had been, like, ignored for a long time, or, you know, how slow a website has been ignored for a very long time, whatever it is, but like, you know, and I don't want to, like throw people under the bus. But it's like, people are busy, like, engineers are busy, especially, or at least gargantuan sites. I mean, for you know, they're out there, they have a lot to do just to keep things going. Right. And especially ones like, like, some of the ones I mentioned, where they've got updates constantly, right? I mean, a sporting side. I mean, imagine how much that has updated with, with you know, they're constantly playing new things coming on board, you know, it's, crazy.
You like how much activity on these things goes, we've worked with new sites where things go up on like, every couple of minutes and these things are going through the chances of something breaking this is amazing, right? You know, like and then you know, the you some SEO guy comes running around the room like it's all good, you make sure you include this and I'm going to get out of here. We don't have so yeah, it’s a tough gig, right? But that's what I'm saying. Like, the world would be better off if everybody kind of learned it as a second nature type of activity rather than in this is something where somebody came back later on and told them to fix it. Right.
Jaryd Krause (34:59)
Yeah, so it' us totally everything is like I'd put service first as in serving the serving us as humans on Google first where to SEOs? Like they said, they kind of get in the way do you feel now? Now it's come back to me training writers to, instead of training them with just SEO, and like you can, you can have them really know their subjects, and then know how to, you know, format a good piece of content.
Do you think it's worth training them to learn how to better answer questions based on their knowledge of the subject? Because and that would start to lead to change in the algorithm going Oh, wow. Like we're seeing people are responding to this way that they're writing the content and answering the questions or presenting it. Is that would you say that's a valuable thing? Putting a tie? We'll see.
Jeff Ferguson (35:56)
So yeah, I think, yeah, I think I think I see where you're going. Like, it's, I think if SEOs were too strict with their recommendations on the content, it could be damaging, right? Because then then a lot of the natural flow from the comes from great writing would suffer from that. Right. And since that, do it, and you, you know, you might lose out on some, like, really won some really great writing.
Right, but also, you could end up missing out on discovering something that was that, you know, the did better anyway, right? You know, like, for all, you know, right, for, you know, for all of your bells and whistles and all your research that told you to go one way, and then something actually ends up like, you know, ranking better and getting way more traffic, because it was a, it was a trend that you didn't see coming, right. Yeah.
Jaryd Krause (36:48)
yeah, it's like one of those, like, my thought is like, there's an opportunity for writers to outpace SEO techniques, by creating a piece of content that is so damn good that Google goes like, well, this is never like, it's never been laid out this way before. Or there's different, you know, the contents in different formats in different places. And it's just like, for this particular niche, it's like, people are staying on this page for so long, because it's just as amazing as a way for writers and creators to outpace SEO tactics that way, I guess.
Jeff Ferguson (37:28)
Yeah. Yeah, I think so too. Yeah. There's, there's totally there. And that's even if those types of things were really what like determines that right? Yeah.
Jaryd Krause (37:37)
Cool. So we've talked a lot about SEO, I want to move into PPC, this is another big part of your career is a similar thing where people I mean, I've just realized that is people do get really bogged down in like changing and is it important thing, right, changing the ads and the targeting and the budget to the right location and stuff like that. But are there some PPC philosophies that come before or that that are sort of a sort of overarching, you know, people that are going to be running ads to their econ brands should uphold highly?
Jeff Ferguson (38:11)
So I think, I think modern, like, paid search advertising is really different now. Right. And I think it's so much more driven by consumer journey driven principles than it was back when I first started. And you know, that what we're seeing is very much more about kind of those last steps, just a consideration and purchase, like it's really live in there, you really don't see too much at the awareness stuff. Awareness is really the area of you know, of organic search these days on the consumer journey, consideration, and that are like considerations when you're first starting to see some paid ads starting to show up, and paid search, you know, and then purchase is really where it's there, like those are where you're seeing shopping ads, that's where you're seeing ads, ads. And that's where I think Google is, is constantly changing this game.
And they're changing even more now. I mean, like, it's it that had already gotten to the point of where through machine learning everything that it was going on, you know, like really, what the, the modern paid search manager was doing was just kind of creating a clean, like workspace for the robots to do their job. Right. You know, like it was, you know, we were giving them the ads and especially with the Dynamic Search Ads, and with a lot of the keywords that we provide, and making sure that we're getting them in tight little ad groups and things like that. So like all this kind of stuff, it was really kind of like, you know, just don't anger the robots, and put them in their groups do there, you know, like stuff and everything was kind of nice and tidy. And if you did that you were rewarded with the stuff and then the machine learns would do handle the bidding.
Nice and tight, you know, like, it was just really nice. And it was, it was good to see because, frankly, you know, as somebody that used to be able to, you know, do all those bids by hand back in the day where it is, it was a part of that I was more than happy to give up, right? You know, because it was a nightmare before and it was something with all the different attributes that are available. Now, as far as like different targeting attributes, whatever it is, like, I didn't want it like anybody that says they can do it manually these days. Like they're full of it, they really, like there's too many pieces of that puzzle, unless they've got a really simple campaign to do.
But now, Google is already tipped their hands as far as like what the future is going to look like with their performance Max campaign where that's full blown black box, like in Google basically, has just basically told us like, what the day is going to come where we're just not going to, yeah, just give us the money. Like, it’s it really that's like, it’s going to be a campaign.
Jaryd Krause (40:53)
There a run, they may call it to us, though, right? Like, smart campaigns.
Jeff Ferguson (40:56)
Smart campaigns, and all that good stuff. Yeah, that's really what it's going to look like, but it's going to be like, hey, look, just give us the website, you know, maybe some creative if that, right? You know, whatever it is, and we'll send you plenty of traffic, and you'll be very happy about it. Because it will work because, like, I mean, I had some performance Mac works like a charm. Like we put it on there. We've watched this on leash and I think the only tweaks we've been making to it, occasionally, we'll get a client where we'll need to work with a rep to pull brand out of it.
Like, but even then that's not even constant. Right. You know, it's really, but yeah, it's been something where it's been there. But that's just where it's headed. And so the, you know, so any agency that doesn't see that coming and thinks that they're, you know, they're still going to need this, this army of paid search managers to do this kind of stuff is like, Well, no, you're really not, you know, like, I mean, it's not tomorrow, by the way, it’s got years before that really happens, but it's yeah, it's not still.
Jaryd Krause (41:58)
Yeah, it’s scary for them. Yeah, I'm thinking about as a business owner as well. Then it becomes a game of now. Now, I guess it's in E commerce. It's kind of like a game of how much ad budget do you have? And how skilled is the team that's managing the ads? Then it's going to become more of a game of like, how much who can put the most amount of who can give Google the most amount of money?
Jeff Ferguson (42:26)
Yeah, I'll tell you, it could, it could be that. But I think ultimately, what it even comes down to with the role of the agency or role of whoever is doing this kind of stuff is really is that it actually goes old school. And I think we're lucky in my agency in the fact that, like, my training is, is has been in classic media planning, like, which is why I use words like consumer, consumer journey and media plan and things like that. It's because that's how I was trained. And that's how I trained my team. Right? So like, we actually, our clients, we actually come up with actual targeted target audience driven media plans, right, you know, which is like a lost art form in this business for some reason, right? And it's, but it's one of those were valuable.
Yeah, but that kind of thing is going to make a strong comeback all of a sudden, because it's not going to be the people that know how to push the button you have control on Yeah, it’s not going to be the people that know how to push the buttons in Google ads, because that's just going to happen on its own. It's the people that know how to use all the tools, all the toys, right you don't like that are in this planet kind of stuff. And it'll be you know, Google ads, and Facebook and all its many photos and programmatic, and the tik toks, and the things which are busy, and how to make these things all the work together to get to every nook and cranny of the internet, to make this thing work.
And to do it in the right order to really speak to the consumer journey, because that's, again, another missing piece of this puzzle, but it gives it most of the time, everybody's just like beating everybody up at the point of purchase. Like its purchase person, whatever it is, and not really working that consumer journey up and then wondering, like, why it never gets any bigger.
And they're going to like it goes well, we've tapped this you know, you basically tapped Google out what else is there and then like, and then not understanding that they need to, you know, introduce people.
Jaryd Krause (44:16)
It’s funny. Yeah, it's funny because I’m thinking of analogy of, I just came back from, you know, a month in Bali. And I'm thinking about the buyer’s journey. Whereas most people here with eCom brands are like, just like straight up cutthroat, just give us your money and buy this product. And that I mean, you this yeah, like to be honest, you have to have a certain amount of trust before you buy anything. So you're spending a lot of money just sending people to those sale campaigns a buyer.
Whereas like I think the journey if like people are going to love purchasing things online. If this is the case and it rolls out this way. going to absolutely love have the experience of purchasing things online with how they become educated each step of the way, and how they buy into the brand each step of the way, I was just watching the surf one day in Bali, and there was a guy that was I was chatting to, and somebody came up with some massage oil. And they didn't just go like, hey, just buy the massage oil.
They didn't say they were selling it, they say, can I give you a, you know, a massage on the neck, and the guy's like, Oh, this is really nice, instead of talking and, you know, has the opportunity to talk about like, where the oil came from, and how it was made. And then and you're getting a massage at the same time, by the end, like, Whoa, this is like, this is like the coolest story really cool brand, and I'm getting a massage, that buying experience is really awesome. It's not like, you might take my take my massage oil. And I think that bringing that online, like I'm sis so giddy and super excited for it. Like where people can start to focus on that.
Jeff Ferguson (45:50)
Yeah, and I think, hopefully people get there, right. But I think we've got a bunch of marketers that have lost that idea that have lost that kind of things to it, and they and they've got caught up in the numbers, and they're still, they get really trapped in last click off, you know, attribution and really kind of say, like, this is where the money is just keep putting that stuff on it, and they fall back on it. And then it happens us to like we're you know, as much as we tell our clients like, this is how it all works. And all these things fit together.
And you have to be patient, you have to watch these things happen. And like if you can't, you know, can't judge these things in the in the upper funnel the same way you do at the end of it.And otherwise, you know, you're just going to cut these things out, but they're still cut the top, you know, like those look at the front of the, you know, those look at the awareness level stuff because, like, what does it look like it's paying off because well it of course it isn't. It's not its but it's all working together these things that are and we can show you numbers where it looks like these things are driving sales.
But if you all added them up, it looks like you know, you're you know, you're selling 234 times as much stuff as you really are busy that they're so what we know they are right. It's you know, they're these things all kind of work, this is how this stuff comes together. But you just have to be like patient with us trust us on this kind of stuff that it's all working right? You know, people that worked with just traditional media for years, like kind of knew this stuff, and they didn't have these kind of numbers to work with. And they just kind of said, look, sales are up. And we're when all these campaigns are working together. And they didn't understand them. Right?
You know, they just kind of said like, it's like you're just looking at, if we stopped advertising, they're all the sales go away. So we know, it must be something in there, right? But now, we have more data than ever. And we know that it's this combination of things that work together. And if we pull one piece of them out, like things go down and said, Alright, put that thing back, right, you know, but like we what we instead of what we tend to do is kind of like make these really goofy decisions where we get hyper focused on a line item standpoint and basically said, like, you know, it take the take the display away, because it doesn't look like it's performing as well as the rest of the stuff. And you know, you can't you can't judge display the same way you do paid search. It's not.
It's not going to look as well, you know, for what it is and then they wonder why you know, and then later on like a few months go by and whatever is in there paid search is basically the return on investment, like search, the sag and all these other kind of stamp as well. Yeah, because you've got fewer customers going into the funnel and all these other things that were basically, you know, like increasing the listings dried up.
Jaryd Krause (48:15)
It’s really it's hard to know, this, there's like so many things that we're tracking, there's so many things that we don't actually know how to track. And that I guess what you're saying is people are becoming so hyper focused on some certain things that become like their main thing without having a look at the global approach of like, How much money are we spending on not just ads on Google, but like, our budget globally? And then what's, you know, what's the ROI? And then when we take away from each one of those ones, let's look at what is affected in terms of the bottom line there?
Yeah, I think that's like global that global overview Hey, like, rather than rather than just a hyper focus on one particular campaign and one particular platform, this has been awesome. Thanks so much for coming on. Jeff, where can we you know, I feel like we've just scratched the surface probably have to get you back. Like we covered some broad things here, which I think is so important. I guess it was more of a global overview of each of the things that we did cover that into with more depth.
Jeff Ferguson (49:26)
And I love answering questions. If you want to catch me on Twitter, it's countxero with an X. See you and follow me on there certainly and you know, if you just want to answer me any ask me any questions, free to do so. You can also find me on LinkedIn. Let me know you heard me on here and then you can answer questions all you want ask questions. I'd love to do it that way. And yeah, those are the two best ways to that kind of stuff and then through the website amplitudedigital.com and, yeah, I'm around.
Jaryd Krause (49:59)
Yeah. definitely check him out on Twitter got some really cool stuff. There'll be links to that in the show notes, everybody. For those of you are listening, thank you so much for listening. I really do appreciate it. I was thinking the other day if you have listened to at least five of these podcast episodes I'm sure you've gotten value from what I would love if you're open to it is to leaving a review on Apple or wherever you.
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Jaryd Krause is a serial entrepreneur who helps people buy online businesses so they can spend more time doing what they love with who they love. He’s helped people buy and scale sites all the way up to 8 figures – from eCommerce to content websites. He spends his time surfing and traveling, and his biggest goals are around making a real tangible impact on people’s lives.
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