When a lot of marketers think about search engine optimization (SEO), they think about keywords, and maybe header tags, and backlinks. But SEO is evolving so it can keep up with developments at Google.
To talk SEO today means talking about intent, clusters, reputation, and expertise.
Harry Sanders leads an award-winning SEO agency in Australia, started an online learning resource for people who want to learn more about SEO, and has even done contractual work for Google, all by the age of 23.
Harry and his agency, StudioHawk, are the developers of the DIRTy SEO approach to search engine optimization, which focuses on Delivery, Infrastructure, Reputation and Trust as the foundational elements of a modern SEO strategy.
Among the topics we cover in this episode:
- What are the best resources available to learn about SEO?
- What is the concept of DIRTy SEO?
- What does Harry really think about Google?
Harry Sanders: DIRTy SEO… stands for Delivery, Infrastructure, Relevance and Trust, so not quite as sexy as some people might be coming into this thinking. But if you’re in digital marketing, then maybe I have really piqued your interest. But it’s really about laying these foundations of technical, which is your page speed and the different things on your website that fall under that delivery, and the infrastructure part of how your website works. Then it talks about backlinks, so that trust part, so other websites in a similar niche with good authority linking to you. And then the search intent, right? So that’s the relevance. Are you relevant to what the person is looking for?
So we’ve got this whole framework that we’ve done up on our site that you can download and peruse, but it’s a different take on covering all these pillars and the new things that are emerging in SEO in one easy DIRTy SEO acronym.
Mike Pastore: What’s the biggest [SEO] myth? What have you dispelled maybe the most?
Harry Sanders: Man, the biggest myth that I’ve dispelled the most… I honestly think it would be how people use keywords. I think it’s just such a common one. Everyone is just like “I have to put my keyword on as much as possible. I’ve got to do that two to three percent density.”
Or the other one would be backlinks, if I had to think of another one… People are just like “Backlinks are easy. All I need to do is go on Fiverr, I get like 50,000 and I’m set.” And so they go out and do that and those 50,000 backlinks are garbage and get them penalized in Google. And so there’s this myth around, it’s all about the number of backlinks you get, when really, you can get two really quality backlinks and that’s worth an infinite number of bad backlinks.
Mike Pastore: I’m a Google guy myself, right? I have an Android phone, I have Gmail. And I’m in marketing so I am under no illusion, right? Google is very elemental in my life, but I recognize the… what some would call the dark side: The data collection, the privacy concerns. What do you think about Google?
Harry Sanders: One hundred percent. Look, I’m conflicted in my views about Google. I do a lot of work with the Australian Consumer Goods Guide, A-Triple-C we call it here, which is a government body that they famously had this massive call into question of Google recently in Australia. I also have done contractual work for Google as someone on the inside.
I think… coming from two different perspectives, from someone who’s worked within Google, the way they treat these things is phenomenal. They had two rules that I got told… when I came in, they said there’s two kinds of jokes you can just never make. Never make a joke about people’s data, like because you see a lot of it, you work through a lot of it. I was involved in ML, like machine learning stuff with their algorithm, back then in Sydney. And so they say “Never joke about the data,” and you never joke about leaking proprietary Google information. Those are two things that will get you on the spot fired.
So I respected that they took that privacy so seriously. In these data centers they would pat you down and search you before you even entered a place where you might be able to see unobscured user data, which is cool.
On the other hand, while I can’t talk too much about the projects I did there, a lot of it was dubious as to how we were using that data. You know, while it was anonymized, it was all in the interest of providing the user a better experience, but it really got deep, really deep, into the user’s browsing and preferences.