An Interview With Loren Baker

Loren Baker, founder of Search Engine Journal, joins us for another awesome episode of the SEO podcast.

Catch up on the latest episodes of the SEOPodcast with your hosts, Chris Burres and Matt Bertram! It’s “effortless SEO education” and the “best SEO podcast in the universe!” Check out the podcast audio, memes, transcript, and more:

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Author: eweb-admin

Chris: We’ve got the thumbs up. Let me hit the record button. There we go. Hi, and welcome to the “SEOPodcast and Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing.” My name is Chris Burres, owner of eWebResults.

Matt: My name is Matt Bertram, also owner of eWebResults.

Chris: That is correct. Welcome back to another fun-filled edition of our podcast. This is gonna be an amazing podcast. You guys are really gonna enjoy this. We have none other than Loren Baker joining us, of Search Engine Journal fame, joining us. He will be joining us shortly. Before we get to that, as always, this is Podcast Number 403. We have a tip from our previous podcast, and that tip is…

Matt: Create high-quality, long-term content instead of creating marginal content because it doesn’t work anymore with keyword variations.

Chris: So there used to be a time where you would actually make shorter content or just throw up any content that you could that had the keywords in it, and that would be effective. That’s no longer effective. It’s better to make really in-depth content that covers those keywords, and you’re more likely to place well. So that’s the tip.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, you can’t stuff keywords anymore. You really gotta use semantic learning. Google’s really looking at the context of what you’re writing. I’ve actually seen some things where, if you’re writing quotes, bullet points, facts, the better that you can kinda frame what you’re talking about, the better Google’s gonna rank it, so…

Chris: Absolutely. Subscribe. Follow.

Together: Boom.

Chris: All right, back to this. Please remember we are broadcasting live here from Houston, Texas, and Matt and I, we are your results rebels. Yeah. I wanted to get this. Somebody got onto our Soundcloud feed and actually put in a comment, so I wanna read this. They’re a long-time, you know, listener of the podcast. It’s Pet Portrait Artist.

Matt: Cool.

Chris: And this says, “Excellent podcast. Note, I did share it but wasn’t able to use the email share facility here that’s on Soundcloud. So I sent the link myself to a friend. Still counts as a share. No more tear tattoos.” We have this tradition. I get a tear tattoo when I don’t get a review, and we’re counting that as a review because I really wasn’t interested in getting a tear tattoo under my right eye.

So if you haven’t seen this podcast before, howdy. We’re in Texas. Welcome to the podcast. If you’ve seen this podcast before, you know what we’re about to skip. We run a contest each and every week, and the contest is, if we get 10 shikos…what’s a shiko?

Matt: A share, a like, or a follow.

Chris: If we get 10 shikows and a review, then we move this piece to the end of the podcast. We will, in fact, move this piece to the end of the podcast. So we’re not gonna tell you to leave us a review on Yelp. We’ll tell you that later. We’re also not gonna tell you how you can connect with us.

Matt: We’ll tell you that later too.

Chris: We will tell you that later. If you’ve listened to this podcast before, you know you get value out of this. You’re probably interested in our “5 Online Marketing Mistakes That Can Tank Your Business and How to Avoid Them.” You can get that for free. All you need to do is go to our website,, and you will get there. Also, if you would like a free website analysis, it is back. It went away for a little while. It is back just at our website,…what is it?

Matt: Well, there’s the button.

Chris: No, you’ll see it right there. The button’s right there. Excellent.

Matt: Everybody’s loving this. And, I mean, people are still jumping into the profit plan.

Chris: The profit plan. We have a program called the Problems to Profit plan where we will dive into your website, identify the problems, figure out how to lead those to profit, and you get a plan. So it…

Matt: And that is risk-free.

Chris: Yes.

Matt: It applies to your services. It’s only $4.99. It’s fantastic.

Chris: And it’s totally risk-free. If you don’t get value out of it, we will give you your money back. That’s just…

Matt: And no one’s asked for it yet, so we’re doing a great job. We’re doing a couple of them every week. Everybody loves it.

Chris: All three of them we’ve done, nobody’s asked for their money back. All right, so let’s jump into this content. Sometimes we talk a little bit about news. We’re not gonna do that today because we…

Matt: Because we have even better than to talk about news.

Matt: So if you don’t know, if you go ahead and pull Loren up here, Loren is the founder of Search Engine Journal, I think one of the founders, as I was looking at some of the bio there. And he has joined us today. We’re excited to have him. Loren Baker, welcome. You’re right there behind us. Look at that.

Loren: Hey, guys. How’s it going?

Chris: It’s going wonderful. So what I’d like, maybe what some people might not know about you, if you could kinda give a little bit of an introduction, and then, you know, we’ve had a little bit of banter about what we wanna talk about today. So if you could just get us started with a little bit about your background.

Loren: Yeah, sure. So I got into internet marketing about the same time you guys did, right? ’98, ’99, and started…back then, there was really no definition of what you did. You did enough to get your clients really good clients, and hopefully, it would convert. So in ’99, 2000, I really got into SEO. I was doing it a lot. And then in 2001, I was, like, 26 at the time and decided to quit, quit my job. And I wanted to go live abroad. So I lived in Japan for a couple of years and in Brazil.

In 2003, right, I wanted to get back into what I was doing previously, but I’d been out of the game for a while. This was a long time ago, but still, it was a pretty emerging industry at the time. So I started getting updates, and participating in a lot of forums, and things like that, and a lot of stuff had changed. Google became a powerful search engine than when I had…

Chris: Yeah, not just a player, but a powerhouse, yeah.

Loren: Yeah, exactly. Yahoo kinda gave them the golden key to that. And so, you know, a lot had changed, and I wanted to catch up on stuff, so I started participating in forums and email lists. And basically, I realized that I was contributing to other people’s content, right, when I was doing that. So what I wanted to do was to start my own site where I could write about my thoughts about SEO, the stuff that I had to kinda relearn.

And around the same time, Google bought Blogger, and blogging started to get really popular. So I’m like, “Hey, I’m gonna start a blog about SEO.” There wasn’t really any out there at the time. So I went, and I searched on GoDaddy for a search engine blog dot-com, and my buddy Peter DaVanzo had already gobbled that up. So I searched for the next logical thing, Search Engine Journal. And I started writing on Search Engine Journal, which used to be powered by Blogger. Then I transferred it over to WordPress and just started writing about the industry, writing about stuff that I loved, giving tips, and the next thing I know, about two months later, somebody contacted me and wanted to pay me $35 a month to put their banner on the sidebar.

Chris: Whoo-hoo.

Loren: Oh, yeah. I’ll do that. That’s dinner, right? So next thing I know, I’m getting more inquiries, getting more traffic, and it just really exploded at the time. My goals were to reestablish myself in the industry, to build up my personal brand, then also to build up a brand where I could build trustworthiness.

And over time, it kind of got bigger than myself. I brought in some other partners about six years ago, and it’s grown ever since into much more than a blog. Now we’re more of a…I like to think of it as a media network.

Matt: I would agree.

Chris: Very cool, yeah. I’ll tell you, I’ve kind of went back through the…because we keep a list. Most of what we do in this podcast is we choose an article. I’ll actually read a number of articles from a number of different sites and then find one article that kind of I think is gonna resonate with the audience and cover some really important information. And I was just looking at how many of them come from Search Engine Journal, and it’s a lot. Like, I didn’t do any statistics on it, but I’d have to say probably 50% of…

Matt: I think more, but…

Chris: …or more have come from where they were published on Search Engine Journal. So it is, of course, great information.

Matt: Yeah, we appreciate it.

Loren: That’s really cool. Thank you for that.

Chris: And we’re exciting because we’re just starting 2018. 2017 just finished. Actually, our last podcast was covering an article about five SEO processes, or something along those lines, that you should leave back in 2017, and so we wanted to talk about predictions. It’s always fun to make predictions going into the new year, and so I wanna just turn it over to you for a little bit. I’ve got some ideas, but you know what? You just finish your story about SEJ. I wanted to ask this question. About your whole experience in kind of creating, and all the way up to this point, it’s been a long time, right? What has surprised you the most about the whole experience?

Loren: I think what surprised me the most was, me on a personal level, I had started in 2003, and I think 2007, 2008, I went to my first SEO conference. And it was really weird to walk around because people were levitating towards me, right? [Inaudible 00:10:34] and, “Hey, man, I read your stuff all the time.” And for me, I was just some dude writing in my house or my apartment or whatever, my thoughts, right? And I had never really experienced that component of it, you know.

Fast-forward to now, I would say kinda the most surprising thing and one of the best decisions ever made was to bring on great editors to expand and run the editorial staff. So I love hearing accolades, but I really have to give it up to Danny Goodwin, who’s our executive editor right now, who used to be Search Engine Watch previously and has a background in newspapers. And he’s really been able to corral, like, a great group of contributors, internal staff members. We have Roger Montti writing for us now, who’s…his stuff has, like, taken off like wildfire. So it’s just been amazing. That’s really been the most surprising thing and one of the best decisions I’ve made and I can recommend others do. Like, learn when to step back a little bit and let the machine kind of take care of itself. So it’s been fabulous to see that happen.

Chris: I can tell you…and Matt’s looking at me. I’m in the process of learning how to step back and letting the machine take care of itself, literally as we speak, as it relates to the company, and I certainly can have, like, exact empathy when, like…every now and then, we get people who call in, right, from our podcast, and they’ll say something like, “I feel like I’m talking, you know, to a celebrity.” And so I know that feeling you had when people are, like, walking around looking, and you’re like…”I read your stuff,” and you’re like, “Well, I’m just writing kind of stuff. Anyone can do it.” And it’s kind of the fact that not everyone does, and you’ve just taken to a whole different level.

You mentioned that you were a professor in Japan. That was probably an amazing experience, also in Brazil. Is world travel something that you do kind of regularly?

Loren: It is. It is. And you know, in my 20s, I kind of just decided to pack all my stuff up, go out there, travel. It was great in Japan because I could make somewhat of a living of it. When I got to Brazil, that’s when I realized that you make a little bit less money teaching English in Brazil than you do in Japan. So that’s when I brought the blog back together again. But now, even, like, you know, married, have a great kid, great family, and everything else. I still like to get out there at least once a year, maybe every two years, see other things, and experience different cultures, and introduce that to my kid as well.

Chris: All right, excellent. Well, I had a couple of other questions, but I’d really like to jump into predictions for 2018. I think it’s great to get to know you and the podcast listeners are gonna be like, “Okay, let’s get to the meat. We have a part of our podcast. You heard a little bit of it. We typically call it the potatoes, and then the meat of the podcast is, like, that content that people are looking for. So talk to us. Talk to us about 2018 and what you think is on the horizon.

Loren: Well, here’s my big prediction for 2018. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. My prediction is that Google is going to stop recognizing the nofollow attribute in links. It’s been around for 12 years. I think they have it figured out by now. More and more publications have done the sweeping nofollow across, like, all of the TechCrunch sites, Huffington Post, most AOL-owned sites, Forbes, for some parts of the site. And they’ve nofollowed everything. And I can’t imagine discovery happening without those key, influential news organizations being able to introduce readers and the Google bot to authority-oriented links and sites. I think, right now, we’re getting to a point where nofollow’s been around for 12 years. I would not be surprised to see Google announce that they no longer recognize the nofollow attribute. I think what disavows the Google search console, everything like that, people being able to report shady links or bad backlinks, I think they could probably do a better job of identifying quality sites without the use of that tag. That’s my big prediction. I don’t know if it’s gonna happen or not, but I’d like to see it happen.

Chris: Well, and you know, I would cosign that. One of the things is just Google is getting more and more sophisticated, and so I use the exactly because it’s in our reports about when we do an analysis for somebody, we’re comparing, like, nofollow links and links, and you need to explain it to customers. And you talk about, okay, “Is the link in the article, or is it in the banner that’s next to the article, right?” And one is more valuable. But, like, Google can figure that stuff out. We could parse the code, just look at the code and kind of understand it. So can Google. So that makes a lot of sense.

Loren: Yeah, exactly. And another thing like that too is that…so, for example, if my client’s PR company or if we end up getting a client getting featured on a site like Forbes and nofollows, that doesn’t mean people are not going to find that link, click on that link, and go introduce themselves to whoever that influencer is talking about. Because if you go and look at your referral logs in analytics, you’ll typically see that people do click over from the links, so there’s still value there. And I just can’t see there not necessarily being long-term SEO value from that kind of placement.

Matt: Absolutely. Authority positioning, for sure. Yep.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that kind of had talked a little bit about was, like, featured snippets and reduction of clicks. I know one of the new team members here, we actually…one of the more talented SEO consultants in Houston is Josh Belland. He actually called moments ago. We’re on air, Josh. We won’t be answering the phone right now.

Loren: [Inaudible 00:16:15] on the [inaudible 00:16:17] entirely.

Chris: He had mentioned, like, featured snippets and what impact you think that they’re gonna have, moving into 2018.

Loren: Why, I think we’ve seen…at the end of last year, we saw Google implement more carousels, images, internal photos of people and influencers talked about, I know, snippets. So a lot of them still have the link to the source, but Google’s integrating more multimedia into those featured snippets. And if you notice recently, they’ve taken the link to the bottom to an according-to link at the top, so you’ll see this. There was a bunch of shares from Search Engine Round Table and probably our blog, SEJ, the other day about this. So it’ll say, like, “According to Wine Pair,” or “According to Forbes,” or whatever. And then it’ll have the meat and potatoes of the snippet, and maybe some links to some other Google-housed information. So what I think we’re gonna see is a reduction of clicks coming specifically from Google citing the source in a different manner and then introducing their own knowledge, right? Because they’ve been accumulating all of that through the knowledge graph, the Google My Business, their schema markup, and everything else. Google AI, at the end of the day, is getting better at answering questions. So they can reference the site that they got it from, but it’s no longer going to be a quote and a link to source. It’s gonna be more like, “This is everything that we merged together, and these are our sources.” Keeping people on Google for longer and answering their question, especially when they’re visiting on the mobile phone, instantly, so there’s really no need to click.

Chris: Right. Yeah, I was thinking about that, and some of the…I read one article about predictions in 2018, and some of them were talking about…it’s, like, the demise of your click traffic, right? And you…

Matt: Well, I was just gonna say, like, with what Google Plus does with likes, and shares, and stuff like that, like, I think it’s an expansion of that, of trying to connect in where they know about the information, and that’s the same thing with what’s happening on Facebook. So, like, where the information’s being sited from, and the value of it to that person.

Chris: Right.

Loren: And at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily that they’re blocking us from doing marketing, but to an extent, they’re introducing new KPIs that are different from what SEOs are used to. So it used to be that the KP guy was to click and it just to the site. Now, with Google Local, and Google Knowledge Cards and Local Cards, the KPI is if someone searches for your business, a call, or directions, or even now, the ability to send messages directly through the Google interface to your business…

Matt: That’s cool, yep.

Loren: …and someone at your business answer them. That’s a lead directly from Google. It used to be that an SEO KPI was a visit to the site. Someone fills out the form on the site. You get it, reply back. Now they’re going directly through Google.

Matt: Someone texts you.

Loren: So at the same time, it may be a little bit less traffic, but the amount of opportunity is also rising. So I would say, everybody out there, especially if you have a brick and mortar or a small, medium-sized business, keep your eyes on Google My Business and making sure your Google My Business profile is updated and you’re taking advantages of the new things they’re rolling out such of messaging and video.

Chris: Yeah, so Google My Business is incredibly important, so just, like, keep it in your radar. It may be changing. You wanna make sure that you’re staying up to date with it. That makes perfect sense.

One of the things that I was thinking, as these predictions were talking about the demise of your click traffic when it comes to the knowledge graph, is the knowledge graph tends to ask questions. So if you think about the sales funnel, and I’m sure, if you’re like us, we think about the sales funnel all the time. There’s that direct-response marketing that they’re about ready to buy. That’s probably not as subject to the knowledge graph. It’s more so the carousels and the other things. And when you’re looking at higher up in the funnel, when they’re just kind of entertaining the idea of a product or a service and asking questions about it, that’s where you might not be able to get the introduction as easily because the knowledge graph is gonna carry so much weight.

Loren: Yeah, I think so, and it’s just ways to utilize what’s there, right? So there’s one strategy, which is trying to do what used to work previously, and the other one is organizing your content, organizing your strategy to be able to hit people where they are in the funnel in the same way Google serves that information during that funnel from an intent perspective. So if someone’s just doing investigative information or looking for informational content, they may not necessarily land on your site, but you can get content placed on other sites which Google is serving in that sequence, right? As [inaudible 00:20:57] closer, drop more breadcrumbs, right, on the way to the transactional money page, at the end of the day. And really, this all leads into better AdWords spends and more AdWords management.

Matt: Absolutely.

Chris: Funny how that works.

Loren: Exactly. Just like Facebook, right? Facebook’s announcement today that business pages are not going to necessarily show up as much in the news stream. Well, that’s great if you wanna hear [inaudible 00:21:21] from your friends, but it also means that if you’re in business, you have to pay a little bit more on Facebook. The same with Google. And really, like, if you consider SEO to be part of the marketing journey, then it’s not a problem. It’s a question of connecting the dots across the board to make sure, at the end of the day, hey, SEO may have been an assist, but it led to you getting that sale through a follow-up paid campaign. Or paid may have driven that user to the site, but when they looked at the landing page, they read information that led them to search after the fact and then find the business again. So it all is connected.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, I think just the days of pure, just SEO, and that’s all you need to do, it’s just gone. It’s one of the decisions we made with our business is we’ve gotta have multiple services because they really all tie together.

Matt: Well, you know I just started to think about, like, the attribution of, like, is it last-click? Is it first-click? How are you breaking apart? Like, how are you valuing that lead? Because I’ve had a lot of conversations, as we bring on new clients, on what’s important, right, and how that person comes in and, you know, essentially, where do you attribute that lead coming from, right? And so I think Google’ starting to kinda tell you what they want, right, and how you’re gonna get ahold of that click.

Loren: Exactly.

Chris: That makes sense. So the next thing I had on my list was the importance of video. It could be a really short answer but go.

Matt: Yes.

Loren: I think video, to add to what you were talking about earlier, this too…Google serves Google properties first, right? So being on YouTube is incredibly important. We’re on Facebook now. We’re gonna be on YouTube soon. We might be [inaudible 00:23:07] on YouTube now. Chances are you found that via Google search. Also, video is important in the customer review process as well. I think we’re gonna be seeing more that Yotpo, which is a customer ratings company, has rolled out the ability to crowdsource video reviews for your e-commerce sites. So people can see people like them not only writing reviews but talking about you. So content makes sense for discovery, but content also leads to conversion. Video is content. It’s some of the most effective content out there on the web. We’re doing it right now. Integrate video into your conversion process and your commerce process.

Chris: Yeah. We’re constantly pushing our customers to get those reviews. Have you read any studies or any stats on the difference between, like, a high-production, whether it’s regular video or review, versus just the cell phone, again, regular video, maybe content video, or a review?

Loren: No, I haven’t. I haven’t. I’d like to read into that. I know with me, personally, when I see someone on their cell phone, I think of it…even if it’s set up, I think of it as being real, like someone’s really talking to me, or I’m talking to them through my device, and I trust them a little bit more. Therefore, I probably go over to that cell phone kind of, you know, homemade video angle as opposed to production value. I think production value may have its benefit in more enterprise and things like that, but in order to make something look real, you know, 100%, sometimes you have to add some value into that too.

Chris: Yeah.

Matt: So I don’t remember where this stat came from, so…

Chris: I think he made it up. I’m just gonna be honest.

Matt: But I did read, like, homemade content’s three times more likely to be viewed or to…you know, everybody just thinks everybody out there’s…what is the word I’m looking for. They’re really skeptical of everything that’s out there on the internet, and so any homemade material’s, like, three times more likely to be viewed, and watched, and believed, and that sort of thing. So I believe that too, and it sounds like you do as well, so it’s kinda interesting to see that, you know.

Chris: Did you write that article that you…

Matt: No, no. But I’ve been reading a lot about men versus women. Are they looking at the product? Are they looking at the button? Are they looking at you? Like, what happens with conversions? And so there’s just a lot of data out there, with big data now, that you can find out, you know, what’s working and what’s not. And really, at the end of the day, our job is to get more conversions for the client, so that stuff’s important to me.

Loren: To add to that, I did read a study by CallRail where a local phone number, if served on a landing page, had a…it was five times more effective than a toll-free number. So if you think about that, the local number in your area, is almost like you know you’re gonna reach someone down the street. You see a homemade video that someone did on their cell phone, it looks like something your neighbor did. You might trust them a little bit more. So yeah, I agree.

Chris: Yeah. That’s great you’ve got a stat, because I’ve always…as soon as we get a client, and some will have an 800-number, and they’re like, “Well, we service the whole country if anybody wants to use us.” And we’re like, “Well, what percentage is in Houston?” in our case. And they’re like, “Oh, like, 95%.” And I said, “You need a local number.” And now we got an actual stat on that, so that’s pretty good.

Loren: Yeah, look it up.

Chris: And the other thing, when you see…I think maybe this is some of what goes into it, is when you do a full-production video, like, people know it’s been edited. And I’ve partnered with a guy here in town who does video. He’s an amazing guy. His name’s Nolan Davis. If I didn’t mention his name, he would probably punch me in the face.

Matt: In a bad way, not…

Chris: In a bad way, and kick me in the chin. And he just talked about, like, your personality comes through in video. And so if you’re a jerk. If you’re real, it comes through, and so, yeah. It’s they’re real people saying real things about, you know, real products, so…

[crosstalk 00:27:10]

Chris: I like that.

Matt: I do.

Chris: That’s pretty good. We should start a video company.

Matt: No, no. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Loren: No, no. By the time something’s produced, it might already…like, in today’s age, right, information happens so quickly, by the time something’s professionally produced, it may even be old information. So the ability to just pick up the phone, tape yourself, show what your surroundings are like, it’s so easy to put out there, etc. Etc. And there’s strategy to it, so there’s still need for your guy, Nolan, I think. Yeah.

Matt: Well, I think the movement, right, the movement attracts, like, the eyes. It draws people into it. People are interested in what’s going on in the background. You know, I think also it’s beneficial for storytelling. Everything’s about storytelling, you know, someone relating to what you’re sharing as well as, you know, getting the emotions going, to get them to take action. And so the most effective form of that is video, and so I can see how everything’s already leading that way and kinda saw it coming, you know?

Chris: All right, so we know that mobile is getting there. It’s been getting there. It’s big. It’s gonna continue to get bigger into 2018. Google has kind of given us forewarning that it’s gonna go mobile-first indexing. What is your prediction related to that?

Loren: That’s a tough one, man, because they’ve been telling us they’re gonna go mobile-first for a long time. And my prediction is we’re gonna see, at least from an SEO perspective, we’re gonna see jumping around the ranking just ’til they get everything figured out.

Matt: Right.

Chris: Now, when you say, “They get everything figured out,” is that us as SEO-ers figuring out the new [inaudible 00:28:54], I mean, like, fixing the mobile version?

Loren: No, that’s Google. I mean, I think as long as you follow mobile best practices and you have a lineup of content on your mobile experience that syncs up with your web experience, you’ll really be fine. But you know, the other day I was doing a search. It was like a security system search in some town, and I noticed the number one listing in Google Local on my mobile device was a company with no website and one review, which was a one-star rating. And there was just a link to call them. That was it. And that goes against, like, everything that Google says they’re gonna do on the local, mobile side, right?

So it’s gonna take them a while to get it figured out. If you’ve noticed over the couple of years, they’ll throw stuff out there, let us fix it, get all the information back, and put together a finished product. And I think they’re gonna slowly roll out mobile-first, but just really keep your eyes on it. And if you start to see movement, don’t panic. Let them roll out the whole thing first to get it straight, and then move forward. So just make sure you have everything together.

Matt: So one thing that I know that we’re guilty of and we’re really working on is when we’re still designing a website, we’re designing it for desktop experience and not for mobile, and we’re really having to try to force everyone to think, “Hey, how is this gonna look on mobile? And then will figure out desktop later.” And so I can see even us kinda struggling with that, you know?

Chris: Right. So you got good processes and procedures to follow up with in mobile design, but you know, really, we should be starting with mobile design in some real senses.

Loren: That’s a really good point. I have a client that has 80% coming from mobile right now, 80%.

Chris: Eighty percent?

Loren: Around, yeah.

Matt: That’s amazing.

Chris: So, hey, about that town with the one-star rating, was it a small enough town that they were, like, one of the only vendors, or do you think there was, like…

Loren: No, it was Colorado Springs.

Chris: Oh, wow. So don’t move.

Loren: Not tiny.

Chris: Don’t plan on being secure in Colorado Springs? Is that maybe the message?

Loren: Something, I guess.

Chris: Or their customer service is gonna be really patchy. So we’ve had a lot of forewarning. I feel like this is one of the things that Google has forewarned us the most, but, you know, it’s not what I do regularly like you do. Is this one of those things that has been kinda foreshadowed the longest of any other trend Google’s been planning on having, as you recall?

Loren: As I recall, yeah. They’ve also gotten a lot better at warning us beforehand. And remember, we were supposed to have mobile GET IT a year and a half ago, and then some other stuff that kinda just didn’t really happen. So I think they’re willing to get because they know how much of a big deal it is. And if you think about it, they’re going to introduce a whole, new mobile index, and it’s completely different, shift around the rankings, and be kinda like that old, Google Florida updates that we had back in the day that totally messed up a lot of businesses, right? So I really think that this is something they wanna get right because they don’t wanna mess up or screw over, however you wanna put it, mom and pop shops that are relying on Google SEO traffic. So I think they’re gonna roll this out slowly.

Matt: That makes sense. That makes sense.

Chris: Yeah, it’s a lot more responsibility. Well, it has been a lot of responsibility for quite some time. I’m glad, with some of the things they did, because, you know, you had this sense before they really got kind of hyper-local that somebody would just dominate an area, and there was nothing you could do about it, and mom and pop just couldn’t come in. And the hyper-local focus has really kind of opened the door to…it was a relief, actually, as that was, you know, frustrating from an SEO perspective because now you’ve gotta have different strategies and do different things. But that, you know, keeps us busy. But a relief because I was always concerned, you know, even if we’re the ones that make the big behemoth that nobody can supplant, it just doesn’t feel right.

Matt: Well, so that just got me thinking about the new doorway updates and building out, and I was curious to hear just kinda your opinion on that, as far as doorway pages and what’s going on with that. Because I can see, like, when I’m reading and I’m trying to read in between the lines of what they’re saying, what they’re asking for, and what to stay away from.

Loren: Well, I think there’s two fronts here. One is the orphan pages, so doorway page, by definition, is a page that kinda hangs off of your site as a myth via landing page, maybe for, like, PPC campaigns, or email, or something else. And then people try to bring it in for SEO. So I think that, one, it’s a clue that, hey, if you’re doing a lot of other marketing, you should not be exposing those pages to Google. Because they can be conflicting with your SEO pages as well and bringing your whole site down. So, you know, by deindexing, making sure those are disallowed and whatever it may be, and not introducing all those other landing pages to Google from an SEO perspective is smart and helps them clean up the index.

Number two is that there’s been a lot of content spinning on doorway pages for years, right? So find and replace city, state. The rest of the content is the same across the board.

Matt: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Chris: Is that a problem?

Loren: So I’m seeing Google rewarding a lot of sites, whether they’re large or mom and pops, and they’re actually writing real contact about the locations. Airbnb, TripAdvisor, a lot of sites that have user-generated content or people have gone in and written reviews, are doing a little bit better now. Sites that are just basically directory lists are not. So I think, you know, the doorway page update or whatever you wanna call it works on both sides. Better content, not just snippets written for keywords but in-depth, usable content that people will wanna read and share. And at the same time are making sure that the pages that you want people to find via SEO are integrated into your navigation so it’s easier for Google to find it and then easy for a normal person to find it as well.

Matt: I like that.

Chris: Yep. We just kind of hopped into doorway. Great. What do you think about AMP pages? So what I look for…we haven’t done much with AMP pages. I know in your industry, you guys do a lot with AMP pages. What do you think about AMP pages, coming into 2018?

Loren: I hate them.

Chris: Tell us how you really feel because I feel like there’s not enough emotion in that.

Loren: We were an early adopter at SEJ for AMP, Amp, whatever you wanna call it, and you know, it took…well, for us, we’re a pretty nimble WordPress-oriented site, so it was a pretty easy fix. We implemented some plugins, we tweaked them, etc., etc. We have a full-time WordPress developer on staff, so it was a pretty good fix. But I’ve seen companies, over the past year, spend a lot of resources and time, not only trying to implement AMP but also trying to make the decision whether or not to do it.

So what does Google do? They roll out AMP at the top of news results, AMP at the top of local results, AMP at the top of global results, and they’re really trying to push people to go over to AMP. Now, all of a sudden, they make the announcement a couple of days ago that instead of serving AMP sites on the domain, they’re gonna show the real domain of the site in the results as well. My personal opinion on why I hate it, or I don’t like it if I wanna get kinder, is because the…I think it’s kind of forcing everyone into a box that they have to play around in and not become creative in.

So the opportunity to add creatives that you may have been used to previously to the mobile experience isn’t there as much. You have to really work on a brand-new template. You have to put in development time, and it’s something that’s always changing. And I would much rather spend that time developing a fast WordPress-based, or whatever the CMS is, based interface that works as fast as AMP but isn’t restricted to the AMP protocol. That it?

Matt: That makes sense.

Chris: Yeah, it does, and you know, Google, even in terms of mobile providing kinda guidance, they got their mobile speed test, which is interesting. But they can give you guidance. Why not just double down on that kind of focus? It makes a lot of sense.

Loren: Well, every speed test I do, the stuff is slowing down the site. The site is hosted by Google, right? So…

Chris: So that’s one of the things that in our reports to, and another thing, not just explaining the nofollow to the clients, but explaining too, “Here’s the speed test, and it looks really bad, but let me tell you why it’s not actually that bad. Your load time is under two seconds. I’m kind of okay with that. And I don’t mean it. It’s just a go-no-go checklist, and they’re saying no-go, and the benefits of going might not be appreciable, so we don’t really have to pursue that.”

Now, that’s an interesting question because I had this debate with Josh. Do you think, one, are we in alignment, like, it’s a go-no-go checklist, right? Your images aren’t completely optimized. You’ve got more than, you know, one JavaScript file. Is that more important than the actual load time, or do you think they consider both? What do you think?

Loren: I think it’s a little bit of both. You know, I believe it’s natural to have some third-party scripts and files load and take a little bit longer, but from a common-sense perspective, Google should be able to figure out that, hey, you’re working off of a CDM, or you’re working off of a third party, or you’re doing this. And that’s just going to take a little bit longer, so look at what’s really on the site, and look at what really loads first in experience, and then, you know, I guess go beyond that from a speed perspective.

I do think that it’s more…I think that with things becoming mobile first, and with the more companies seeing a higher percentage of mobile traffic, they’re figuring it out anyway. It’s becoming part of a conversion experience. It’s becoming part of the keep-people-on-site experience. So I think it goes beyond just load time alone. It goes beyond, you know, how people can click around, how fast they get their information, etc., etc.

Chris: Yep. That makes sense. And one of the things we always say on the podcast, as long as you’re providing a good experience to the Google user, I think, you know, Google can be very technical but probably is not gonna get bogged down in that technicality. They’re more interested in is it good for the user? So it just gives us something to have to explain to [crosstalk 00:39:32].

Matt: Well, I’ve seen a lot of data on mobile sites. If they don’t load in, like, five seconds or whatever, the bounce rate’s, like…

Chris: Astronomical.

Matt: Yeah. Like, I don’t know what the number was, but…

Loren: Who’s gonna stick around?

Together: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: We have so much patience these days. It’s just…they can wait. So…

Loren: [Inaudible 00:39:50] video.

Chris: So one of the things I read recently, and I don’t remember the source, and it wasn’t really digging that subject, so it didn’t stick but was that, yes, we have more mobile traffic, but conversions are still significantly higher on desktops.

Matt: Depends on the business.

Chris: Well, that article…again, I didn’t get into the nuances, right? There was a couple ways to look at that. What do you think of that, and… I’ve got a prediction, but what is your prediction? Is that gonna shift? Is that right? Do you kinda cosign that, and is it gonna shift in 2018?

Loren: I think it’s gonna slowly shift. From my own personal experience, I mean, I’m the kind of person that I’ll do my research on something, but I won’t buy it another site. I’ll go to Amazon to buy it because I’m already logged in. So I’ll just like, “Hey, I’m buying it here,” or I’ll just go to my Amazon app or whatever and search there. One click, done. They already have all my financing information. They’re gonna send it directly to my house.

Chris: Two days.

Loren: I’m typing anything in…yeah, I’m a Prime member, right? On top of that. So I think you’ll see that shift for sites that have that together. Shopify does a good job of that with the PayPal integration. So if I’m a PayPal user, I already have my address in there, it makes total sense. Jet, Wal-Mart are doing better jobs.

So as we see either these platforms or these companies become more adoptive, and then people are more likely to actually stave their credit information, I think, now because you have a hacker a week or every other week, right? So it’s not a big deal as it used to be, but…

Chris: We’re kind of immune to it now. “Oh, another one. Okay. Hopefully, I didn’t get hacked, or let me change my card anyway.”

Loren: Yeah. If I’m making a major purchasing decision, I’ll do my research on my phone while I’m doing whatever. Then I get home, sit in front of my computer, my trusted desktop, and really do my research and really make that sale then, or call, right? So it’s another thing that has to be put into the whole purchase via the phone or purchase via the mobile experiences, really the ability…I’ve found myself calling and making orders, whether it’s a pizza or a sofa, right, a lot more than I used to, just from my phone or using AI.

Chris: So it’s interesting because this kind of goes against a piece that we said earlier, which was design mobile first. If the conversion’s the key thing, and the conversion tends to happen on the workstation, then it’s necessarily…the reality’s you gotta do both. But it’s not necessarily bad that w approach, you know, from the workstation first and, you know, maybe it’s, from what you’ve described, and I operate the same way, you know, sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, or whatever I’m waiting for, I’m doing research, and then I’m going back and making the purchase on the workstation.

Matt: I think it’s where they are in the funnel, right, and, like, AI, DI, right, and, like, where you’re targeting, and how you’re trying to share content with them or value that’s gonna bring them in and nurture them.

Chris: Yeah, so the mobile can be more about, like, fulfilling the knowledge and the content need, and then, you know, becoming that trusted resource when you actually go to purchase.

Loren: Yeah. And with cross-device retargeting, and cookie-ing, and everything else, right? As soon as I get home, even if I forget that I wanna buy that product that I saw when I was sitting in the doctor’s office, Google is gonna remind me instantly everywhere I go that I wanna buy that product, right? Because I’ve already made that decision. They know it, and it’s, bam, right to their product page.

Matt: Yep.

Chris: It’s fun describing how that works to clients because they’re, you know, they’re first, like, a little creeped out about it. And then I’ll say, “And when it happens for your business…” and their eyes light up, and they’re like, “Yes, that’s awesome. That’s exactly what we want.”

Matt: Well, we’ve started to get into, like, venue replay and programmatic ad buying, and then it just gets even creepier.

Chris: Creepy 2.0.

Loren: If I’m at a coffeeshop, right, and I know their Wi-Fi is a little bit funny, I’m not gonna make my purchase. I’m not gonna pull up my credit card. I’ll look around. I’ll look for the creepy-looking dude. I’ll put my credit card back in my pocket. I’m gonna say, “I’m gonna wait ’til I get home to security of my own internal Wi-Fi to put my credit card information through there.” And then Google can just make sure that happens accordingly, so I love it.

Chris: Yeah, in a podcast a little while ago, we talk a little bit about news, and there was a Wi-Fi provider at a Starbucks in…I think it was in Argentina, and when you connected to it, it would mine…

Together: Bitcoins.

Chris: …on your device for, like, five minutes, and then release it. That’s very crafty. Very frowned-upon and very crafty.

So one of the things that read recently of yours is the “20 Years of SEO.” I thought that was just a phenomenal article, the recap of everything, so just for…this is a podcast punch in the face for you to that great article. We’re about to wrap up here. Was there anything that we could do for you? Like, are you going on a circuit and need people to attend something or any way that we can help you, Loren?

Loren: Well, I would say, first of all, visit Search Engine Journal. Have I frozen?

Matt: Yes.

Chris: You’re frozen on the screen. It is actually a very good shot, though. [Inaudible 00:45:02] works. You have frozen on the screen, but we can hear you.

Matt: Yeah, we can hear you. It’s recorded, yeah.

Loren: So I would say visit Search Engine Journal. Sign up for our Facebook page because, just like you guys, we do a lot our lives through there. And we take our lives, and we can record our podcast from that and repurpose that content in the post and everything else. So in the same way that you’re currently gaining this information first on eWebResults, you can also get that from SEJ as well. And I’ll be speaking at HOTHCON in St. Pete on February 1st. That’s put on by the, and I think it’s one of my only speaking engagements, really, until probably [Inaudible 00:45:44], so in Vegas, in November. I’m taking it easy from a speaking circuit for a while. So find us on Facebook. Find us on social, and looking forward to connecting with your audience and, you know, helping you guys share your message as well.

Chris: Absolutely.

Matt: Absolutely.

Chris: We’re working, just constantly sharing your message, so that makes a whole lot of sense. So we’re gonna do a little…please stay with us. We’re gonna do a little wrap-up. We’ll give you an opportunity to say goodbye. We do kinda have this wrap-up scenario.

What we’re gonna say is…we would like you to leave us a review, and if you could be so kind, leave us a review at Yelp. We’ve made it easy. Don’t tell Yelp we’re asking for Yelp reviews, but go to…yeah, there we go. There. You’re back. Go to, and that’ll take you to our Yelp profile. What we would like to say is, if you like this podcast, please tell three friends about the podcast. If they’re indie industry, if they’re a small business owner who really needs to know about internet marketing so that they can stay on top of the subject and on top of their vendors, send them our direction, please. Share with three people. If you’re looking to grow your business with the largest, simplest marketing took on the planet…

Matt: The internet.

Chris: The internet, go ahead and give us a call. Your results will increase revenue in your business. 713-592-6724, and if you have a referral…so sometimes people get confused and don’t realize that we do all aspects of internet marketing. That’s from website, social media, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, whether that’s on all the platforms [crosstalk 00:47:24].

Matt: We’re an agency.

Chris: We’re a full-service agency. If you’ve got a referral send them to us. When they pay us, we will pay you. That’s a referral [inaudible 00:47:32].

Matt: Or donate…

Chris: Or…

Matt: …to a good cause.

Chris: Or we can donate it to a good cause.

Matt: Because I really, yeah, that’s what I really wanna do, and do those things.

Chris: I think that’s a great way to send those referral dollars to charities.

Matt: Yeah.

Chris: And then please remember we were filmed live here at 5999 West 34th Street, Suite 106, Houston, Texas 77092. You can get audio, video, and a transcript of this podcast at our website, Loren, do you have any kind of wrap-up words as we’re finishing here?

Loren: Pretty good. Thanks, guys. It’s been a great experience. You fall under the same thing I do, so don’t forget agency as well, right? [Inaudible 00:48:10].

Chris: Put in the plug.

Matt: Yes.

Loren: [Inaudible 00:48:13]. Check us out. We won four different Search Awards last year, two on the U.S. Search Awards side, two on the Drum Awards side, so always a pleasure to help out my fellow SEOs in a niche or two. I feel like I’ve known you forever. I’ve only known you for about 40 minutes here, but I’ll see you at an event sometime soon. Go, Houston, Houston Strong, right?

Chris: Yes.

Matt: Yeah, hit us up next time you’re in Houston.

Loren: Tear tattoos. I will, absolutely. It’s been a pleasure. Good [inaudible 00:48:43].

Chris: All right, we’re wrapping up the podcast. We are the number one podcast on iTunes, the known universe. That is because of you all, all of you all. Thank you in a hundred-plus different countries. Until the next podcast, my name is Chris Burres.

Matt: My name is Matt Bertram.

Chris: And this is…

Loren: Loren Baker.

Together: Bye for now.

Loren: See you.