Discovering the secrets of the SEO world – interview with Thomas Kloos

Maciej: Hello everyone. My name is Maciej Nowak, and welcome to Osom to Know podcast where we discuss all things WordPress. My today’s guest is Thomas Kloos, who is the founder of .kloos Agency, one of the top SEO agencies in Austria. Thomas does as CEO follow the 15 years, and he has seen it all. In this episode, we are covering, you guessed it, right, SEO aspects, but not only, we also discussed what new AI tools bring to the table and their influence in the space. We also talk how SEO play main role for different business models. Without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Thomas Kloos.

Intro:  Hey, everyone, it’s good to have you here. We’re glad you decided to tune in for this episode of the Osom To Know podcast.

Maciej: Hello, Thomas. Great to have you on. Great to have you on the podcast. Thank you very much, for making the time today. It’s a pleasure to have you here.

Thomas: Thanks for having me.

Maciej: My pleasure and let’s, you know, let’s introduce yourself. So can you tell us a little bit more about what you are doing and where are you coming from? So our listener can, listeners can have also some you know, make a connection with, you know, where are you coming from? Mm-hmm. .

Thomas: So I have an online marketing agency in Vienna with about 10 people on the team. While we do everything from paid search, organic search, performance marketing, kind of the core offering remains to be SEO. So that, that’s also kind of where my heart is. And I think that’s what we’ll talk about today is the SEO side of online marketing.

Maciej: Perfect. Thank you very much. And how, did it start for you with the seo? Because you know it, it’s already a couple of years. When, when in you are running the company, the agency, it, there’s your name as well, right? ? Yeah.

Thomas: I, first started probably, I, I was working at a charitable hospital in South India at the time, and some guy come, came in from the US and, and explained surge engines to me at, at, with the example of Alta Vista and Ask Chiefs back in the day. And then I grew into the web team. I learned html, css and we created the first website of the hospital. And then maybe a year later, somebody told me that he heard that there’s something you can do to manipulate the Google search results. So I got in the game very early on. It was kind of intriguing and interesting and we experimented a lot, tried out a lot of things. Was like the Wild West back then on, on Google. And that grew into a business. I started on my own and slowly started growing the team. And now 15 years later, we are at 10 people plus external freelancers. And it’s going quite well,

Maciej: Right, so, you know, talking about the SEO, I will ask this, this question, you know why should I even care about the SEO?  You know, is it not enough if I launch my website?

Thomas: Well, it may be actually. I’m not saying that everybody has to do SEO. It may be enough. But the thing is still that for most people, Google is the gateway to the internet. So if, if you’re not crawled and indexed by Google and, and visible in the search results there’s a good chance that people won’t find your website. And then you may have a beautiful website, but you don’t have a lot of traffic. Of course, there are other traffic channels that, depending on your business model, may be more important. You may get traffic from social or direct traffic or, or paid. But for, for most websites that the lion share, like the biggest part of the traffic still comes from Google, from organic search. So yes, it is recommended to do a good job on your SEO and be present in the search results.

Maciej: Mm-hmm. Okay, because I’m asking, because, you know, the strategy when we are talking with, with clients, you know, when I ask them about, you know, what, what did you do you know, before building a new website with us, for example, what, what were you doing in terms of the SEO? You know, oh yeah, we were caring about this very much. And then we log into the WordPress panel and see. And, and do we see nothing? So no. It, it’s sometimes the case and, you know, sometimes those are, you know, big, big organizations and, you know, with, with an investment, considerable investment, not caring about the SEOs like, you know shooting in the food.

Thomas: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. Yeah, I fully subscribe to that. However, I would like to differentiate a little bit bet between there, there’s some businesses where SEO is hugely important to them and usually they know it. When it is. That’s, that’s anybody who provides a service or product, whether it’s a high search volume like a useful product that solves a particular kind of problem. Or they have a service like a, like a plumber. People search for a plumber online. Or it could be tutorials or informational queries if you cover any. Any of that kind of stuff. SEO is hugely important to you to be present in the organic search results is going to really impact your business. But, but there are other businesses that where the impact may not be as huge as people think. So we don’t recommend active SEO to every business because if they’re like high level B2B or in, if they’re in a very small niche where there’s no search volume or hardly any search volume it may not be worth it to do SEO or, or if they provide products that nobody needs, like certain type of fashion items that people don’t even know. Well, if people don’t know something exist. Like a few years ago that that fidget spinner was super trending everywhere and nobody needs that. Nobody knows it exists until they see it in, in social media and other channels, but it’s, it’s impossible to promote a product or service via SEO where there’s no need yet, where there’s no market yet. You need the search volume, you need the search intent to search for the product.

Maciej: Great. Yeah. So, so this is very, yeah, yeah. Please go ahead .

Thomas: Sorry. With some, we recently had one client, they did forensic watermarking, so their search volume for watermarking, for example, photographers want to watermark their photos so they don’t get pirated or stolen. So the client wanted to rank for, for watermarking, but what they did was forensic watermarking for pay TV providers. Pay TV operators. So for, for Netflix, for high level sports streaming sites, there was a potential of 50 customers, a hundred customers worldwide. You, you don’t need to rank for watermarking. No, none of like, Netflix will not go to Google and, and Google. I need watermarking from a business. Or a similar thing for like an architect. If, if you’re an architect who builds single family homes, then yes, you want to be present on Google. You need to be in the search results. But if you an architect who gets government jobs. Who builds, like in, in Vienna, they’re just building the, a new subway line. Now the city of Vienna is not going to go on Google and search for an architect to build a new subway line. The U5 there’s a construction site. It’s just outside my window. That’s why I’m kind of using the example. So for this kind of architect, it, it may not be very important to be present in the search results. They have to be there for their own business name and for queries related to their, their business. Because people will do research, they will hear about them and do, do research and find out what they do, how they do it, what other people say about them. So that part is important. But to rank for generic service related keywords may not be that important to them.

Maciej: Okay, great. So, we have unpacked that not everyone needs SEO because this is not everyone’s you know, it, it won’t bring nothing new, for their website. So there is, there has to be that critical mass of search queries, you know, that SEO can gather, but also you, at the very beginning you mentioned that, you know, active, that term, active SEO. So can you unpack this a bit for our listeners, because there is mm-hmm, this active SEO, but also the website can be a SEO friendly, so there is, you know, there are different components to seo and if you can like lay out the ground of SEO world for our listeners.

Thomas: Yeah, that’s a great question actually. That making a website SEO friendly usually we support businesses. Or oftentimes with one time SEO packages, for example, when they do a website relaunch or they launch a website for the first time, then you want to make sure that it’s indexable, it’s crawlable. There are no technical issues that the page loads fast. Page speed is fine and other technical, that information architecture is logical, it’s well structured and people have the tools to for example, manually override the title tags or, or other important aspects of the website. So that’s kind of the initial thing. And this is kind of the groundwork and it’s usually enough for businesses to rank for their own company name. And if they already like for a relaunch, if they already have a good authority to keep the rankings that they already have that’s a kind of investment that I recommend to, let’s say 99% of all website owners who do a relaunch or who launch a website. And then there’s the active SEO part, which is usually an ongoing corporation between a client and us or, or any SEO agency where you actively promote the site and grow the authority by building back links, for example by improving the content on the website by publishing new and fresh articles. Depending on the niche, that’s more or less important, but content SEO is. For most businesses, it’s very important to define new topics, to really find out what the target audience needs to work with seasonal trends, because in, highly competitive markets, the competition isn’t sleeping, so everybody’s trying to get in the top three search results, organic search results, and things also develop on Google side the, featured snippets appear or other se features come in and then disappear again. So you need to kind of always be on top of the game. So this would be an ongoing cooperation with us in a client where we oftentimes even become experts in the field of the client ourselves, because we produce the content we. Do some public relations. We have our media con connects where we can publish articles or get the, get the client an interview somewhere that boosts his authority the trust that Google has in them as a person or as a business. And then build good content or do one thing that works really well is video content and then publish that on the website and transcribe the video and publish it as text as well.

Maciej: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Do I get this right? That YouTube, for example, is the second biggest search engine engine out there?

Thomas: It is. So you, there’s some sites we, we work on, they get more traffic from YouTube than from organic or not traffic, let’s say they get more views. Video views on YouTube, then they get hits on, on the website. And also of course, Google itself shows videos in the search results. This happens for any type of tutorials. Like if you search for how to clean a bicycle chain, usually Google doesn’t show you a long article. And they won’t show you a product page for, for cleaning kit, because that’s not the intention here. They’ll show you a video on how to do stuff because if, if that’s the best answer to your query or to the user’s query, they will show a video or it may be a list or some, some other thing.

Maciej: Hmm. I’m also observing a trend or maybe not a trend, but you know, on my experience it’s like, it’s like when I looking for something like this, like practical advice, how to do something and first 10 articles are all the same. So for example. Mm. Can I drink this and this to do something? Or can I, how can I solve my problem of, I dunno, accountants, let’s say I just invented the question and then there are 10 articles, everyone the same. My question is, should I do this or that? And then there is that header answering this question, should I do, do this or that? But the answer is hidden in the article itself. So I have to get into the article. And the article is two or three screens you know, long article, all flat, no, no answer. And I have to dig through this article to,like, to extract the answer to, to the simple question. And you know, this is some kind of stuff that I’m seeing more and more and I’m very frustrated. So, you know, those are the companies that are trying to sell a service around this question. But then I tend to go to YouTube to see the answer because, you know, I can see through the, through the video and have the answer very quickly. I mean, depending on the question, of course, but, you know is, is that kind of article really, because I guess this is for the SEO purposes, so is this really helping the the SEO result and those kind of answers are provided by big portals more, more, most often. So it’s not like, you know, the business is is selling this service all the time, but it’s like gathering the traffic for big news outlets or like self-help platforms and stuff like this.

Thomas: Yeah, I, hope maybe somebody from Google will watch this video. Maybe John will learn and take the feedback seriously, because this is a terrible user experience. This is something Google definitely wants to avoid, and they’re quite good at avoiding it. It, I’ve, in my experience over the last 10 years of looking at search results or more it’s gone a lot less. It’s gotten a lot less where you see that every listing on the first page of Google has the same exact title tags with the keyword stuffed in there, and then optimized meta description. You get there, it is like a too long, huge article with just blah blah. Nobody wants to read it is getting less. But it’s, it’s still there in my opinion. It’s going to fade out. It’s not going to work on the long run. What Google is most interested in is happy users. Google wants to, I mean, their business model is to sell ads. Right. So every search results page for Google is a free space for them to sell ads on. So they want more searches to be done on Google because the more people come and search on Google, the more ads they can sell, the more space they have to sell ads. So I think that the primary goal is to make their users happy and to show them the search results that they expect. I mean, in your case, if you then go to YouTube and search there, it doesn’t really matter cuz they own that as well. But, but if you go to other search engines, then, then it’s a real, real problem for them. What Google tries to do, and they put a lot of effort in that and, and artificial intelligence and algorithms in understanding the user’s query, like understanding the search query. And I mean, when you look at your search console data or Google Ads data, you see keywords what people search for be before they click. It’s sometimes not very clear what they mean. I mean, people are weird and they search for weird stuff and sometimes don’t express themselves very accurately. So Google’s intent is to really find out what is the search query, what does the person mean? What is the search intent behind that? And that as, as an SEO, I see as my primary work as well on my, what I need to do, especially in the first phase when I do keyword research and define content strategies, is what keywords do I want to rank for? And what is the search intent behind those keywords? What does the person expect to see? Like what is most helpful to them? When I see a search query, to understand what is the problem that person has, what do they expect to see, and how can I help them best and most to, to fix their problem, to fulfill their dreams, to show them a product. And sometimes it’s a transactional search query where somebody wants to buy a particular product or compare to products to each other. Then they want to see something very different. They want to see a product page or a comparison page with a, with a, a nice spreadsheet to, to have the, the stats and compare everything. It’s very different from an informational query where you have a big topic and you search for information on a particular topic like I don’t know woodblock prints from Japan from the 18th century, for example. You don’t want the product page. You, probably want to research that topic. And then there there’s some informational queries that are answered with a simple sentence. For example, I don’t know, you may ask for how, how long can I keep pizza in the fridge and still. What’s the distance to the moon of what time is it in San Francisco? Or what’s the weather gonna be like tomorrow? Or when is the opening hours of a particular restaurant? And those are the type of queries that Google mostly answers directly. You don’t need to go up to a website to see the distance to the moon. Google will

Maciej: C can I jump into this? Because this is also very interesting because this is a recent, like, let’s say I don’t know when it started, but let’s say it’s recent innovation that the results are served directly as the answers on the search results. And my, my take on it is twofold. It’s either, you know, the website that serves this result gets, I know Google goes around this website just providing the answer. So you don’t get, as the user got onto the website, so there is no page view from this from this query. Or on the other hand, the result is so tempting and interesting for the customer or user that goes to. Due to this result because this was so high value answer to the question at hand. Mm-hmm. , what’s your take? Mm-hmm. , because, you know, I don’t really know, and I have like a funny comment on this. You know, if I search what’s the distance to the moon? And I got onto the website, you know, with that, you know, fluffy answers. It’s like this. People were always thinking, what’s the distance to the moon? You know, there were re searches and the answer, you know, stuff like t NASA, you know sent first astronaut to the moon in this and this year. And the answer to my question was the distance to the moon would be hidden somewhere at the very end of the article.T is my experience with this kind of articles, but what’s your take on those? And it, it, what’s the name of this, of this mechanism? Because I, I just forgot what’s the, what’s the name of this of those answers as snippets on the search results?

Thomas: Yeah. I mean, they’re called it’s a big topic of discussion lately in the last few years. They’re called zero click searches. Okay. That’s kind of the percentage. And, and currently the last number I have, it’s 53%. So more than half of all searches conducted on Google are zero click searches. and when it started, they’re called like featured snippets on top of Google, or there may be other serp features that answer the question directly where people don’t need to click through to a website. So when this started, I don’t know, few, a handful of years ago, there was a huge outcry in the community because Google is taking away traffic from websites and now a few years later when the dust has settled, yes, there was damage to a lot of websites. Like there used to be websites that did currency conversion, or time zone conversion or well soon it’ll be like a flight search flight, like flight comparison websites like Expedia and a little bit in trouble.

Maciej: There is Google Flights. I’m the user of this service. Yeah.

Thomas: Yeah. But, but. For these kind of things. Of course, they lost all the traffic. Nobody needs those kind of things anymore because people started using Google as a knowledge graph. You go to Google and say, how long can I get pizza in the fridge? Or how, what’s the distance to the moon? Or other things? And you get a direct answer. But the truth of the matter is that anything that can be answered with a one sentence or a one number, you don’t need to go to a website. And when you, even if you go to a website, if you have to go to the website to find it there, what’s the benefit to the website owner? It’s basically to sell ads, to get clicks on the page and then, and then sell adspace. That’s was the business model mostly of those sites, those made for AdSense sites that you, you write a whole bunch of articles about a whole bunch of topics, get traffic from Google and then sell AdSpace on those.

Maciej: Pages. I know you might check .

Thomas: So yeah, that, that, that business model is kind of, kind of dead. I do have, I find it interesting, the zero click search results, because a good portion of those 53% is not that Google is stealing traffic from webpages. It’s where people modified a search query. If you type in hotel Prague and then you realize, oh, I’m not really getting the search results I expected. And then retype in, I don’t know, three star family friendly Hotel Prag center that was a Sierra click search before, but it was just a bad search and nobody got hurt. Right? You didn’t, Google didn’t take traffic from anybody. And then there are those searches where you, you can answer query Google can answer the query and they take the content from the website. For example, for recipes, there’s a recipe snippet on top of the search results. And the, the, the oath of the recipe or the website Google takes it from is mentioned there. And of course, if it a quick how to make it more heat or something, you don’t need to go to the website, you can just do it from there. But it’s still builds, it’s still good to get that. Like we will actively optimize sites to get SERP features on the search results because it’s good for authority. And when a user is really interested in it and wants to read more and is interested in what the reviews are in that recipe, for example, what the discussion is below, people will click through and get to the website.

Maciej: So this. This also touches on what you said before. There are businesses that know the SEO, that the SEO is very important for them. And there are organizations that you know have, you know, 150 client-based worldwide. And this is different story. So, with recipes, this is very interesting because, you know, if I am like a culinary blogger, I’m selling my art space, I do the cooperations with, you know, manufacturers and so on, I want to have big traffic, but also me as, as user, let’s say, looking for a recipe, I can go through this for the snippet, but most of the time this is very difficult to, to follow this. There are, you know, on. when the recipes are, you know, explained their images. So this is the content I can look for in depth. And the snippet can be used just to glance if I’m, you know, interested in this kind of recipe without having to load the whole website and get annoyed by the ads, you know, and affiliations on that particular page. And this makes sense. So in this sense, I don’t see this as a, you know, stealing traffic but rather, you know, making the end user comfortable with selecting particular website because this is, Google is doing the initial filter filtering for you instead of you doing the, you know, and, and you know, I’m very against ads on, on websites. I know this is the business model, but when I’m log logging in on, not logging in, but when I’m. loading the page. This is for me as the end user, it’s, terrible experience that the website is full of ads. And, you know, there are certain businesses that are SEO heavy, let’s say, in terms of, you know, their, their orientation business model. Just as you said, you know, for, for spelling, spelling, selling, adspace, you know,

Thomas: we have a number of clients that sell Adspace. That one, one of our bigger ones in the us they started out as a consulting business, but then the website had so much traffic, they became so popular. And it’s a field where, where ads are expensive, it’s education, like high end MBA programs in the US where it’s, it’s really expensive to go to those schools. And those schools also want a lot of data and they want the best applicants in the world. So they started off as a consulting business, but then, got so much traffic, they started making more money selling ads than consulting, so they faded that out. And now just our living of ads and the way we integrate ads on this website is by making it helpful, like useful information to the user. If you search for an article about what GMed score you need at, at the minimum to get into Howard Business School you will find that information on the website. And then there will be an ad for Howard Business School or a comparable top level Ivy League school. And then. I don’t see that as a disturbing ad.

Maciej: Exactly. But this is very content specific. This is totally different story. I’m, I’m talking about a situation where I want to do a mojito and the ads are selling me everything from, you know, the shaker to the, you know, lemon, you know, all sorts of stuff. And also unrelated stuff because this is, let’s say, you know, from other sources, like, I dunno what, but, you know, financial services stuff that I’m not interested, cars, whatever. It’s like this, this kind of non unrelated content that is not interesting for me. And in, the case you are referring to, this is, Like necessary, necessary element of the website even.

Thomas: So, yeah, it is. The other, the other thing I want to little bit I, I, I fully understand where you’re coming from, but we run those ads campaigns for our clients as well.

Maciej:All right. Oops.

Thomas: And, and the thing is, the reason why you see an unrelated ad, like with this particular project, we control the ads there. It’s not Google ad send, it’s it’s actual selling ad space to particular, and we have our own ad server. But most of the time website owners sell ADs space to Google via Google ad Sense. And then Google is kind of free. Put there whatever they think is relevant. And when we run ad campaigns, we sometimes target them according to the content of the page. So you can say, if on the page certain words appear and the topic is this, then we show our ads. Otherwise we don’t. So the ad, this display tied to the content of the page, you can also tie it ad placement to the person that’s seeing the Ad that’s in the form of remarketing.If you visited a particular page on a website, I can then show you ads about that product. If you, for example, you went on a page, maybe added a product to the shopping cart, but then didn’t  those from Amazon. If you go look at something on Amazon, you will always see that thing on every page you go to. And it’s not, it’s actual the case. It’s not when everybody knows the psychological effect, that when you need new shoes, you start paying attention to other people’s shoes. Or you’re looking forward to buy a new car. You look, start for the first time seeing that kind of car and think it’s everywhere. All of a sudden. Yeah.

Maciej: It’s, it’s even more, more visible. And you did buy that car and you’re sitting that same car everywhere. You see everywhere. Everyone has my car .

Thomas: That, that’s a psychological effect. Or I have to change the car again. Yeah. But then what I’m talking about is it’s actually happening. So you look at something and you retargeted, you remarket it. I can show you three ads per day of that product, and I can show you a different message than to a person who hasn’t been on my page yet. And then I can also target people via their interests or their geolocation or any other number of factors. I mean, on, on Facebook, it’s. It’s unreal how exact the targeting can be. It’s, it’s quite shocking. I mean, we, we use it yes. For the benefit of our clients, but as a user sometimes I’m like, you, you shouldn’t be allowed to do this as a marketer.

Maciej: Yeah. That’s why, you know it, can be also used for, you know, not so novel things as to sell products, but we definitely, I, I restrained myself into, you know, jumping into that rabbit hole. But, you know, this is, you know, it’s interesting the picture, you are lying like lying out because there is that SEO part that helps the drive the traffic. And then there is that remarketing that, you know, when you gathered the attention of the user, you can trace that user with remarketing, let’s say, or with ad or with ads. So it’s interesting. To understand the bigger picture, how would those different tools engage with the end user at different stages of his of his journey or her journey around the web? And what would, what do you find most interesting in, in, in this SEO space? Like, or challenging or, you know, what keeps you at night as they, as they say, yeah. Regarding SEO

Thomas: Yeah. So there, there are two questions here. I’ll start with the, with the first one that we usually, I mean, they’re low priced products where you, you show the product, you show an ad, people searches organically, finds. Game over. Sorry, that’s finished. But most of the time there’s a longer customer journey. And our goal is, and this is where cross-channel marketing comes in, to create as many touchpoints as possible. So you don’t, with higher price products or services that are more important, that are kind of more long-term decisions, you can’t just pop up at the very end and say, Hey, buy me, I’m the best. Because people don’t know you. They don’t trust you. Let’s take the example of buying a new bicycle. I like bicycles. I ride it everywhere. And you want to create a touchpoint very early on. If I search for, okay, how to clean my bicycle chain, or what kind of tires do I need? Do I what, like, do I buy a gravel pi, gravel bike or road bike? These kind of decisions that are early on in the decision making process. And then if you give me the content, if you provide the content that answers my questions, that helps me in my decision making process through organic SEO, I will start having a good feeling for you. I will start to trust you because you’ve helped me out with good content.

Thomas: And then you create touchpoints through retargeting. You create touchpoints on social media platforms. You do other pr and then you people recommend you. So you have maybe grand evangelists helping. And then you create as many touchpoints. So at the very end when, when the customer is ready to buy something to whip out the credit card they will go with. The brand, they have the best emotional affiliation to the, the brand that’s helped them before that the brand they trust. So that’s the importance of creating as many touchpoints as possible and not neglecting particular channels. Because some, some, businesses only look at the last click before conversion, like what led to the last conversion. But you have to really think in, in terms of attribution models, look at the whole chain of events that led to the last click and see which are the important steps or which steps are, are there. Then for example, display ads never lead to conversions or, or social media ads. There’s certain products it works, but others it, it doesn’t. Informational search queries where you serve a blog post or a tutorial. Rarely lead to conversions, but they lead to a lot of assisted conversions. So it’s really important to look at the whole chain of customer journey and, and really build your own attribution model that makes sense for your business. The other question wh why I like what I like about SEO I think that the thing I like most is something we already talked about is the first people really want and need, because that’s the part that takes a lot of empathy. That’s the part that an AI couldn’t do for you, really. Where you need, and, and I find it interesting because it allows me to dive into other worlds like. Completely other experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise. That research topics that I wouldn’t otherwise research. And I can get excited about almost every topic we have. I mean, obviously a crime scene cleanup service will be more interesting to research than a a, a credit insurance service. But I, that’s the part I really like most to go into. What does our customer, our client need? What are their goals? The internal business goals, cuz they may vary a lot. And then what are their potential customers? Who are they? What do they do on the internet? What problems may they have apart from the obvious? And how can I reach them? How can I help them? How can I provide something of value to them that first Google will rank because it’s valuable. And two, the people will appreciate. And then come back and build a good relationship with the brand.

Maciej: All right. And you know, you touched, you touched on the AI topic mm-hmm. It, it, it’s very interesting topic for me and I’m like paying a little attention to it. And, you know, stable diffusion 2.0 was released yesterday. It’s, it’s a tool. Mm-hmm. for, you know, you know, text prompt to generate images and the amount of attention it grabs is mind blowing. It’s it like a number of GitHub stars. I, saw the graph yesterday, you know, within a couple of weeks they governed, I think, like 30,000 stars on GitHub. The, the, the curve compared to other technologies is just, you know, vertical. It’s like vertical line and. release of new GPT based, you know, services is very like faster and faster. Do, do you really think that the AI wouldn’t assist SEOs like strategy, because I’m asking about this because there is like an like also huge number of AI writing services that helps. that help you write a blog post, or at least write a structure of the blog post, then fill the content write a summary of something try do that speech to text, then fix your grammar.

Maciej: You know, there is so much AI assisted stuff around language and writing that, you know, and SEO is very very close to writing, right? So also Google goo Google does the same for analyzing. So I see this as a very close field that could be not maybe disrupted, but heavily assisted with ai.

Thomas: Yes, definitely. I fully agree with you. However, what I talked earlier, I think AI can be really good at one thing. It can be so much better than any human could ever be at one thing, at one discipline. But with things that are in interdisciplinarian that, that need to, a holistic thinking that considers many factors from different areas and take a lot of experience to come to a conclusion or to make the right decision. I think that’s really gonna be really difficult for an AI to cover because how do you feed all that information in there from so many different channels? How to sort it, how to get experience with text creation. AI is amazing. I mean, the images you, you wrote, sometimes we don’t, I think it’s gonna be a competitor to iStock photo, get the images, because sometimes we don’t even buy the isoc photos anymore. We just generate them what we need. It’s it’s it’s So you’re using already? Yeah, totally. We’re using it, With text, I think it’s a bit of an arms race between. AI generated text and Google’s AI detecting AI generated text.

Maciej: All right. So Google’s cont counter fighting this.

Thomas: Yeah, they’re, they’re very clear. They’re, they’re open about it, that they want to filter out AI generated content from the search results and not featured prominently. So that’s why I say it’s a bit of an arms raise. How good is the AI generated content and how good is Google’s AI and detecting it? Of course we do use it, for example, with translations. We don’t translate German to English or English to German manually. We translate it through people or through Google Translate. And then of course, edit it a little bit and, and give it a, personal with another AI tool. So I think that both of our jobs as a developer, as an SEO will be heavily influenced by AI in the next, in the coming years with SEO, it makes life a little bit more difficult because Google is using more and more AI in the search algorithm and in the, in the understanding of the search queries. And in the algorithm for displaying ADS, for ranking in the actual ranking algorithm. And they consider a lot of factors like user experience, page speed, technical stuff, relevance, authority, but, but the way these things are weighed, depend on ai. So we know page speed is a factor for rankings, but it’s, it’s a bigger effect of a news website than it is for, I don’t know, a, a website that sells steel panels for construction where page V may not be that important to the target audience. So the, the, the level to that, these things are way that it’s, it’s AI controlled, so it’s difficult for an SEO to understand what are the factors that really matter. Now, in this particular case, this is something again, that takes experience and observation, what does the competition do? Who ranks well now, et cetera. But it is, it’s going to be interesting. I mean, before long AI is going to start writing better codes than you can then.

Maciej: Yeah, there is already there a problem there. I mean, I, for that, certain technologies, I mean, there is GitHub co-pilot already, you know making, I, think for some projects like 40% of the code written by, by the person. And there is that service called Repli. It’s a IDE in the browser. And they are planning to, they have their own code assistant. But I read yesterday again on Twitter that they are planning to build a tool that not only would like foresee and advice, you know filling the snippets for fur loops or wire loops or, you know, different different stuff, but, but work in a way that understand what the developer wants to write.vWhat’s the, what’s the subject of the piece of code, let’s say not, not like on the next few lines level, but rather on the next function level, let’s say, or, or or procedure level, something like this. Like replace it’s called, you know, per programming. So like re like assist us that second developer in that para programming approach to co-development. I’m very interested how they will do this. What will be the end product, because this was. , the, the promise, the announcement that they will be working on something like this. So I’m, I’m also, because there are so many developers that, and it’s like Quanti Fable Field, where there are very strict rules around the code creation. You can follow the rules. And AI is especially proficient like let’s say proficient in those fields where there are certain codified rules. Mm-hmm. like language is also codified.

Thomas: It’s amazing. Have you re I mean, I’ve tested it. I had it right. Like you can start with Mary went into a supermarket and then, and then it’ll write a story for you. It’s unbelievable. and before long, I’m sure it won’t take long before Google comes up with, cuz they use the stuff with writing their own recipes. So it’s not gonna be anymore according to Chef whatever you have in English, I don’t know. This is the recipe, but it’ll be like, this is the recipe. And then if you, if you ask Google, give me a recipe for, I don’t know, eggplant, carrots, raisins, and soy milk, and then they’ll come up with something that you can make with those four ingredients. And based on what they learned. Yes. That’s never even existed. Exactly. Come up with something completely new because there is the data. You, you have millions of recipes there. AI can learn it in that particular niche and become better than any chef cook could ever be. That’s what I meant in, in one field. It can be extremely powerful and good, but the interdisciplinary stuff, I’m not sure if they tackle that any time.

Maciej: AI has terrible problems with generating when you’re generating an image, the, the hands are terrible. They are always distorted. They, they look like pals or, you know a horse like foot I forgot the word for horses, you know, end of the leg, let’s say . But you know, the face is amazing. Eyes face, and this is, I’m, following this you know, from the sidelines, not involves like hands on but I’m thinking about some kind of tutorials to, to get my hands dirty It’s, it’s, it’s interesting probably there’s just more data on faces than on face. Right. There are more images on the web on of faces than of film. Yeah. But, even in when you were when you were hiring a master painter to do your portrait, the portrait was X gold dance or whatever the currency and the hands were half of that. So if you were wealthy wealthy person, you had portrayed with hands visible. And if not, then there was like a, shawl on your hands hiding your, your, your hands because they were so difficult to paint that they were constituting like a significant amount of price of the painting itself. So my wife, my wife has studied history of art, so I’m .

Thomas: That’s very interesting. I remember some stuff from that period.

Maciej: So what do you think would be the best approach when building a new website from a CEO perspective? So let, let’s imagine you are building a new website and you are not very, particularly knowledgeable about SEO matters. So what’s the, like, rural farm like sane approach to, mm. , making sure you can do as much as you can regarding a co for the website not to like distract your good reputation, for example. Mm-hmm. destroy a good reputation, for example, or don’t do harm when launching new website.

Thomas: Okay.

Maciej: Like common sense rules.

Thomas: Yeah. I mean, the first one, I think we’ve covered that already a lot, but know your target audience. Know who you, who your target audience is, who the decision makers are, if you’re B2B, who makes the decision within the companies, what their style of language is. And, and then match that. Give, give the people what they need first. Find out who, who do you want to speak to? What do they want to hear? And then tell them that, don’t the webs, your website is. For you. It’s, it’s not about you it, you don’t need to portray your company in, a certain way. Look, most websites speak too much about themselves and not to the customer, to the potential customer. So find out what the customer wants and realize the website is for them. It’s not, it’s not for you. And then technically, well, you have that cover, then you have to structure the content. I think the site architecture, information architecture and navigation is one of the most crucial points that’s oftentimes neglected. What kind of content, content do you produce for what person, for what target audience, and how is the internal linking structure? Now, if your website has 50, a hundred page, it doesn’t really matter that much, but if it, if it’s a few thousand or hundreds of thousands of pages, because you have a lot of products, you really have to think about how you interlink them, how you create navigational paths into the websites for users, for Google. You can’t just have a search bar there or JavaScript filter options, and then on the same URL generate various different lists because Google cannot work with that. They don’t have landing pages. You need to create some kind of directory navigational structure for crawlers, for bots to find a content on your website and for users to also find it. And ideally you have, you’ll have multiple paths to the pieces of content and cross reference things on deeper levels. So I think that that is, one of the most important decisions early on, how do you structure your content? And it depends on the size of your website, obviously, but this is very important. Then how to structure it on a page, that there’s a particular page structure where do you put your content, your text, your videos, your products on a page, and kind of have a semantic proper structure with headings and content and make sure that bots Google can crawl and index all the content on your page.

Maciej: Can, can we stop here a little bit more? Yeah. So can, can you explain how to, you know, how to think about this? Because what does it mean proper structure? You know, My guess is that every designer thinks he or she is designing proper structure, and then every developer thinks he or she is coding this, you know, because this is proper structure. But what does it mean? This is proper structure from a co perspective?

Thomas: Okay. Yeah. Basically every page has a title tag. That’s one of the most important ranking factors of it. Some meta tags that are more or less important. And then there’s a one H one heading that’s marked up. In HTML as H one that gives the topic of the page that contains the most important keywords of the page. And then there’s text, and then you want to structure your text. You want to have subheadings, H 2’s, H 3’s, you want bullet lists, you want images in there. And then relevant information. If you have a product you need, the price you need, if it’s available or not, what kind of modalities are there? Colors, sizes, et cetera. For local services, there may be an address, et cetera. So you have all that displayed on the page, everything that the client, the customer expects from the page. You have clean html, so you’re structured in H1 paragraphs, H2 URLS, et cetera. And then you use something like markup where you have, markup for certain elements. Like the author of this article is this person, this person works for this organization, a company, and also wrote these other articles and spoke at these conferences. Hence, he or she has a lot of authority. And the topic of this article is here, images, et cetera, or in case of a product, this is the name of the product. This is the price, this is the currency, , is it available or not? Is it an an digital product for download, or is it a physical product to send these kind of information that really helps search engines or any kind of crawlers to understand the content of your page?

Maciej: All right, thanks. Thanks. Then what, then what?

Thomas: Make it search energy friendly. That’s what we talked about. So structure your content, make sure you have the right type of content, structure your content, solve the problems. Focus on user experience. And probably the number one in that is page speed. Make it fast.

Maciej: But you also mentioned that, you know, page speed is not for as important for everyone, right?

Thomas: Yeah. That’s to make a different point. Okay. Now where we are at this point, how to do SEO, just, just assume that it’s important. Okay. There’s no, there’s no harm in making your website fast. Your clients will thank you. Everybody will be happy. And I would, if, there’s a compromise to be had between making it look perfectly or making it load faster, lean towards making it load fast. There, there’s no reason to make, to have images on your page that are, I don’t know. One megabyte large. You can’t see the difference anyway, and, but you can see the difference whether it loads fast or not. So make sure your cold is clean and lean. Don’t use in, in the case of WordPress, which talking about WordPress, it’s, I love it. It’s an excellent content management system. It’s very search engine friendly, if you can say that. Mean Google doesn’t really care what generates the code as long as the code is clean and usually WebPress comes up with fairly clean code unless you use multipurpose themes and 115 plugins that can So, so if you want a fast website, go hire awesome studios and get it, get it developed by, by good developers who understand. , lean, clean, beautiful code, and, and that, that influences page speed a lot. Mm-hmm. .

Maciej: And you know, there is that common knowledge that Google prefers to serve content, or at least analyze content, analyze websites from the mobile perspective, how does this, you know, in, in your experience, how, you know, how true is this? You know, because it’s easier to get 90 plus points scores on page speed for desktop, but it’s much harder on mobile and, you know, what’s your, what’s your take on this? How much, how, how important is this?

Thomas: Okay. As a background info, to go a little bit back I think two years ago, Google switched to a mobile first index. So they will, they, they crawl. With a headless browser, emulating a, mobile device. So if you have two versions of a website, a mobile version, and a desktop version, which I hope nobody has anymore, but Google will only crawl the mobile version, not the desktop version. If you have a responsive page, which I hope everybody does and certain elements are hidden on this on mobile, but visible on desktop, Google will see it as hidden, requiring an action to tackle something open. So Google crawls and considers only the mobile rendered version of the page. Now when it comes to page speed , there’s the field data and the lab lab data. So most people get the highest corner lab on the, on the lab data because it’s a controlled environment. Of course, the field data is more important to us. It’s what we are really interested and what Google uses when they have enough field data for website with very little volume traffic. There’s not really any field data. And then it depends on if the majority of your users, and for some sites that’s the case in B2B, for example, are desktop users. Google will just have more data from desktop users and may not exactly sure may value that more than the mobile field data. The reason why mobile field data is, is oftentimes worse than desktop data is because internet connections tend to be slower mobile devices. The rendering takes slow. Not everybody has an iPhone What’s the latest one? 13, 14. Now, 14. I don’t know. They keep, they’re too many. They’re too fast in the bringing out new ones. Not everybody has an iPhone 14. That’s super fast. And the best internet connection depending on your target audience and what country you serve to there’s, there’s a big difference between internet connections in Australia and in South Korea or countries where, where it’s super fast. Germany tends to be a little bit slow on the slow side for internet connections. But then you have to really consider the market, and it depends on what kind of mobile devices people use there, how fast they are, how fast the internet connections are. So these factors also influence the field data that you see in this Google.

Maciej: And, and how this. How this is used by Google. So is it like, does this penalize the website owner if he or she has a, you know, slow mobile version? Because, you know, I see this a lot, like mobile version is is failing. Most of the sites I test are failing mobile, mobile scores on newpage speed.

Thomas: I don’t work for Google. Psych can’t, right? Give you an product exact answer to, to the question. There’s something that’s the core web vitals came out I think last year and, and I really liked that because before. page. Everybody talked about page speed. Everybody knew it was a ranking factor, but what is page speed? I don’t know, does the ad on the very bottom of your page, like three meters, scroll, depth down, affect, I don’t know. And now with the core web vitals, we have actually KPIs that we can follow, that we can track, that we get data on and that we can optimize. So I would assume those are the things Google looks at. And those should be in the green area and not in the red area. How exactly Google weighs that into the ranking algorithm, I think depends on the topic and the competition. If in your field of expertise or in your business, everybody has super slow websites, everybody’s in red and your orange. You’ll be fine. Or is it yellow? I don’t know. Yellow, you’ll be fine. Probably it’s like with, with a link spam. If you have a casino side, you’re not gonna get penalized for some link spam because everybody’s spamming. If you are a doctor and you start spamming your side with, with bad links, you’re probably gonna get penalized for that. So, so it depends on the market, on the industry you’re in. But I would always consider page B to be hugely important. It is a ranking factor. They look at the mobile data that is the more important KPI. So make sure that is above a certain level whether to come back to your question, whether there’s a threshold. If you’re slower than that, you get penalized. that is possible whether you, whether if your score improves from 92 to 98, I don’t know if that makes any difference to your rankings. Honestly, if it has a measurable or effect on, on how, or a perceivable effect on the page speed, it may well have, have an effect on the rankings.Yes. But at the certain point, I think it’s just a numbers game. It’s not a beauty contest. We are trying to win. Yeah.

Maciej: So again, it’s, it’s common sense and the aim to score as high as possible because this will be for the benefit of the user that will help the faster website about not to overkill it over 90%. It’s just for the sake of having more probably.

Thomas: Yeah. At some point. I think so

Maciej: I’m thinking also when, when people are looking for the, for help of the seo. It’s, it’s, it’s wild out there. My, my when you’re looking for the seo, it’s agency or health, it’s very hard to decide if I’m talking with agency experts or mm-hmm. I like snake oil sellers, something like this. This is, this is very important to have a good partner because this is not the results, in my opinion. The results are not coming like next day over it. It doesn’t happen overnight. So there is a lot of like stress and there is a lot of problems to understand if the agency is doing the good work. So, unless you hire someone and wait he a year, you won’t know. So how to might minimize bad choice how to mm-hmm. make, how to do whatever you can to make sure you are picking the right partner. So what to look for in SEO agency.

Thomas: That’s a good question. One thing it helps a lot if you have in your team, in your company, somebody who has an understanding of SEO. Oh. That’s some understanding, at least that’s, that’s surprising. It is much easier to talk to an agency or to pick an agency if you have some background knowledge. On the client side. Okay. Okay. It’s also either easier for an agency to work with the client if they have some understanding of seo, so that, that’s kind of helps. But even if that’s not there, I would say as a rule of thumb, if a full service. Agency, like if your web designer or development agency tells you they can also do your SEO, it’s usually not the case. Everybody offers it. It’s, it’s, especially with full service, SEO is so important to most people’s business. And developers usually just don’t have the skillset. Designers don’t have the skillset. It’s a very particular skillset that involves knowledge in, in many different niches and many different areas. And most full service agencies just don’t have a very strong SEO department, even if they say they do. One thing I, think it’s important to look for somebody that’s the right size for you. If, if your budget for SEO is 2000 euros a month, for example. And you hired the biggest player, like the biggest SEO agency in your country. Chances are very high then are gonna take you very seriously and you’re gonna end up with working, working with an intern there and not the experienced SEO experts. Then on the other end of the spectrum, if you get a one-man show you, it’s a hit or miss, it may work out really well. But it may also that if that person gets sick or goes on vacation and, and you have a crisis, what do you do? There’s nobody to reach. So go for the agency that kind of fits your budget, fits your needs, fits your niche. Don’t go above or too, too far below that. How else? One thing that’s good to start out with, cuz you said you only know after six months if it works out or not, and then you’ve wasted six months time. It’s a genericization of course. I often like to start with an SEO audit where we have a, smaller project that’s clearly defined where we look at the website, we do a research, maybe come up with a keyboard and content strategy, already do an initial technical audit of the, of the site and really get to understand the client, the target audience, what they need. And then at the end of that, have a discussion, plan the strategy for the next six months. And then I am, as an agency owner, I’m in a much better position to write them a proposal that’s realistic, where I can sell them things they actually need. Cuz I hate selling things to people that they don’t need. So if I have a really good understanding of the, the client’s needs then it’s much easier for me to sell them something that will actually help them. And on the other hand, the client will get to know us in that initial phase, see the quality of the work, take something away like the, a good strategy and the first technical audit. And then if it doesn’t work out, usually it doesn’t work out for both sides. Or they see, okay, here, this is a real competence, real quality of work. We like that we make a commitment for six months or 12 months because that trust is very important. I mean, we’ve had clients build them up for three months of six months and then a Google update comes and it just rankings dropped by, I don’t know, 70% lose all the traffic. You need a good relationship to get through that phase and build it up again. I think that’s a good starting point. Also, it avoids. That’s some a question I have for you actually. Do you go to pitches that are not paid, like free pitches? We don’t do a project. Not a project.

Maciej: You don’t do? No, no. For two years now, I think, or more. We don’t do pitches. We, after being burned by one big like process, very big process, we decided, you know, no agency was picked. And after this, it, so it was huge investment from our site. It was like 200 hours after this experience. We decided never again. No, there are other players that are comfortable investing 200 hours into the pitch, doing, you know, 20 pitches a quarter, for example. All, you know, put into the other clients in, on a, on a winning client, right? Because you have to make up for this investment. So we, said we never do this kind of processes with producing content presentations demo designs, nothing like this. Okay?

Thomas: So we are on the same page here. So that would be my advice too. Businesses trying to look for an SEO agency or hire them. Don’t, don’t ask them to do a free pitch for you. They’ll, if they do, they’ll, they either desperate or they’ll then do free pitches to other people afterwards and price it into your bill. It’s, it’s lame. Make, make it an initial, even a small audit package to get to know each other. You can do that with three agencies, then pick the best one if that’s what you want. But I think that’s usually for, for like bigger jobs, that’s a good starting point to do something initial and then enter into a long-term commitment when the, the basis of the business relationship

Maciej: Yeah, makes sense. Makes total sense. Alright, Thomas, is there anything like five minutes for, for, for Thomas to Grab any topic you want. Is there anything, you know, if our listeners maybe would like to help you or are you looking for help or are, you know, anything you want to say? You can, you can say it now.

Thomas: Wow. Yeah. Topics, I think we’ve covered so much. One of things we haven’t talked about yet. This agency, running an agency, the challenges of that, that may be an interesting topic for another podcast actually. Okay. Yeah. How to run a digital agency. What are the challenges there? My main challenge currently is not finding clients, but it’s finding, expanding the team, growing the team. So yeah, if anybody here is listening and wants to work for an SEO agency, with some background knowledge in either paid ads or SEO just give me a call. .

Maciej: Yeah. So we will include this in in the notes and and yeah, Thomas, it was pleasure to have a chat with you and, and I found the topic very topics very interesting. We, we have covered, and I’m sure our listeners will also grab something for themselves to include in their either strategy or, you know, in their, let’s say, to look it in their companies.

Thomas: Yeah. I look forward to feedback and yeah, thank you. I hope we see each other again soon. Maybe you come to Vienna, give me a call.

Maciej: Yeah, certainly. Certainly. All right. All right, you then.

Thomas: It was a pleasure. Bye. Thank you.

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