We are pleased to announce that our Head of Search – Stan, will be a lecturer at SEO Conference 2013 in Sofia (March 22nd at Inter Expo Center). The following interview was originally published in Bulgarian on the site of conference’s organizers:
When and how did you start practicing SEO?
My encounter with SEO was a professional one from the outset. In 2005, I started working as a junior SEO manager for Aplus.net, a large US hosting company with a big office and a support department in Sofia. Even though I already knew, and had been using Google ever since my student years in Ireland, (Google had already opened its first European office in Dublin back then), SEO was new and unknown territory for me, so I had to study and practice it on the spot. My first steps on Twitter and Facebook date back to 2006. The same year, I started doing paid advertising in Google AdWords (what I do nowadays), MSN Adcenter (now Bing) and Yahoo! Search Marketing.
What are your expectations concerning changes in Google this year? Which key indicators will Google hold firmly to in determining the quality of sites?
The 2012 was the most dynamic year to date in regard to changes in Google Algorithm – Panda (punished low quality/scraper sites), Penguin (punished link building schemes), EMD (punished exact match domains for SEO), Venice (localized organic results), DMCA (punished sites that violated copyrights) and Top Heavy (punished sites with too many AdSense ads above the fold). All these developments completely overturned results and prompted many businesses to rethink their online strategy entirely.
I would formulate my SEO expectations for 2013 like this:
• since many of the established brands with online and offline presence are already dominating the results (Google is a data company, after all), opportunities for small business will be primarily in local results (Google+ Local Pages), social signals (mainly from Twitter and Google+) and Google AdWords advertising;
• sites with integrated rich snippets (prices, ratings, reviews, dates, locations, etc.) are the winning strategy;
• in results, it’s no longer the position that’s important, but the attractiveness (CTR) of the snippets;
• highly geo-targeted results, especially on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets;
In my opinion, the main signals that would establish the quality of a website/brand are the same for both the users and Google:
• original, high quality and useful content (not just text copy, but also photos, videos and info-graphics), which is worth sharing;
• social signals, such as shares on Google+ (mostly), Twitter, Facebook and Hub Data partners;
• a physical business location and real people (with active profiles on social media) behind the brand;
• user behavior on the website – Google Analytics provides very useful statistics and visualization;
• UX and responsive web design (RWD) more crucial than ever;
What are the most common mistakes clients make when searching for your help for their websites?
Every business is unique, therefore the approach differs depending on whether it is an e-commerce site, a news portal, or a local SEO project (particularly for US and Great Britain). The recent Panda/Penguin changes affected badly many online businesses which used to apply black hat SEO practices, so it makes sense that most inquiries are related to such problems. In some cases, clients already know what and why these issues happened, while in others – they have no idea. The most difficult part is to convince the client how important it is to implement the SEO recommendations, otherwise they remain completely useless. Sometimes this can mean a new structure or a re-design of the site, reviving of content or creation of new content (blog, video, photos) or synchronization with other internet campaigns. Success depends not only on the SEO team but also on the client to a big extend.
What will you talk about at the 2013 SEO conference?
My topic will be how to build a solid and safe SEO strategy, not dependent on every change in the Google Algorithm while still following Google’s best practices. I will try to present some of the newest and (possibly) not so well-known solutions, recommended by Google, as well as ways to involve various Google tools and products in the overall SEO strategy.
Stanislav Dimitrov is a Google AdWords Certified Trainer and SEOMoz search ranking survey contributor. He is Head of Search in Hop Online – recommended SEOMoz company and Google AdWords Certified Partner.