Candour

Episode 21: SEO tactics to implement with Lukasz Zelezny

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What's in this episode?

In this episode you will hear a SearchNorwich recording of Lukasz Zelezny giving his talk "SEO tactics to implement tonight". Lukasz gives a detailed and insightful overview of a few his tactics to help improve organic rankings, citing his own method of keyword research, GAP analysis, WordPress plugins and more.

Full video:

Lukasz's slides

Podcast transcription:

Show note links:

Video of Lukasz's Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXdqmVnP5pg&t=1424s

Lukasz's Slides: https://www.slideshare.net/searchnorwich/seo-tactics-to-implement-tonight-lukasz-zelenzy-searchnorwich-4?qid=3783a1c7-a3f9-4b76-893e-efac3cc8efdd&v=&b=&from_search=12

Snapshot method example: https://zelezny.uk/snapshot

SearchNorwich: https://searchnorwich.org/

Transcription

AK: Hello and welcome to Episode 21 of the Search with Candour podcast, recorded on Wednesday 31st July. My name is Ayush Kumar and I’m here to help you with Search.

In this week’s episode we’re going to hear from Lukasz Zelezny, a renowned and experienced SEO who came and gave a great talk at SearchNorwich 4 at the start of this year. This episode you’ll be hearing some great SEO tactics for you to implement on your websites. He will give an insight about the ‘Snapshot’ method which is of a great benefit to those of you who are wanting to carry out some keyword research.

He also speaks about the tricky process of link building and competitor gap analysis, giving some really useful advice on how to carry these out as well as some great tools which will help you. Lukasz then rounds up by talking about some great plugins for WordPress which can boost your site’s performance.

I found this talk a great learning experience and took a lot away from it, and I hope you do too! Without further ado, here’s Lukasz:

LZ: My name is Luke Zelezny and I have been working for the last six and a half year for uSwitch and then Zoopla when they acquired uSwitch and we became like one big family. six and a half years is quite long for an SEO in one company, but I had a fair reason to leave. At the end of this year I became a father, so my little daughter is two months and we’re waiting until she will be three years old because I’m an SEO and my wife is PPC, she will be email marketing definitely. So, the first skill I'm going to teach her is how to use Excel! I was working also with lots of other customers I'm still working, my schedule is quite busy every day mainly thanks to hangouts. I can remotely work and today I just wanted to show a couple of tactics that I was implementing during my time in uSwitch and that's our tactics that you can take from this event and implement even tonight, or start implementing from tomorrow.

So the first one I call is the ‘snapshot’ approach to keyword research and I a long time ago when I was joining a company I was always thinking that very quickly I need to prove that I was not only good on the interview but I'm really good at SEO and I agree with Mark that it is always challenging to convince the developers, that's why I learn how to talk to developers a bit. It’s a different language and to marketers with a bit different language and so first - I just wanted to mention with searchmetrics, raise your hand if anyone knows searchmetrics? It’s a great tool, kind of industry standard and not very expensive - a basic version costs less than €100 and now let's go back to 2012 when I joined uSwitch there was very little belief in SEO, those days there was no proper tracking and so on the way I learned. A long time ago before joining uSwitch I learned how to use analytics properly because that helped me to protect what I'm talking to developers about based on numbers, so I could pull the data and say “listen this is where we've been and this is where we are” and they'd say “yeah but bounce rate went up,'' yeah but it didn't cannibalise the growth and this way we started to be on the same page. So, imagine I'm joining uSwitch and they are saying they don't believe in SEO and I said “give me three months”, and the first thing you can pull lots of information from - like searchmetrics, sistrix, SEMrush or SpyFu and I pulled the data and I saw on searchmetrics where we are already ranking, where our keywords are delivering traffic and I saw lots of different keywords because you probably know uSwitch (like moneysupermarket, gocompare) is dealing with different verticals - credit cards, insurance, broadband, mobile.

So, there was lots of keywords which was a nice set but obviously I have many keywords which are on position one already, so there was a built-in filter and I could see the keywords which are ranking between position 2 and 10 and with search volume 1,000-20,000. Thanks to that I could deal with keywords which are already on the first page but not first - not too low and not number one. I excluded all third party brand names like EE or T-mobile generally, if someone is typing EE, they probably are looking for a website not uSwitch, so I get another list. Now I started thinking about dealing with this data, this chart shows what we call the ‘organic distribution model’ through the positions and now it's really not about how much you see the percentages. It's never like when you are first you have an 18.2% click-through rate or when you are second you have 10% click-through rate.

I wanted to show you a massive difference if you are running between position 5 and 10 and massive difference when you're ranking position three or two or one. It's very important to fight for position one or two (if you really cannot be first) and I have a bit of math. Think about this, if we will take keyword which is here “best sim only deals’ with 18,841 searches a month. The UK is very famous for price comparison websites that is not that popular in Europe as far as I know. There are so many searches. So, people are looking every month 18,841 times by average for ‘best Sim only deals’ and I can do a little estimation. I can say if I would be here on a certain position with 10% CTR, multiplied by 18,841 I would get roughly around 1800 visits or 1800-point score, whatever you want.

If I will be first, my score is going to be 3,294 so it's almost double so it's really worth to work hard to be on position one for such prominent keywords and I started building a metric which I created here:

TI is the ‘traffic index’, TI max is the SEO utopia of ‘if I was on position one’ and then finally TI difference is the difference between where I am right now and where I could be on position one. Here is that data you saw on the chart and click-through rate, and this is my spreadsheet and before you are scared that this is too much information, I have a link from which you can download. I did a spreadsheet for a company called Pimlico Plumbers and I just pulled the data from searchmetrics, so you can see you can play with this and you can even recreate this or send me some questions. If you sort this by search volume you will get different keywords than if you would sort this by TIDIFF, so the potential and you can see that Nokia phones, O2 Refresh, compare mortgages, cheap loans and so on are keywords I should start working on.

The link: https://zelezny.uk/snapshot, if you go there, there is a link to an excel file and you can download this and voila.

Now when you are optimising for this keyword you need to ask where to focus on.

Old and traditional SEO - title tag modification, add Strong tags, add ALT tags, make sure that your image’s file name is not random characters or random numbers.jpg, make sure that the filename is also keyword rich, additional paragraph of text - if you see that there is a text but not long enough or not covering a topic well enough go and write an additional paragraph to cover this topic better than your competitors. Headers modification and think about this, I show you these keywords and they've been attacking completely different parts of the website so if there will be one or two verticals which are too difficult to deal with like credit cards or car insurance I may be very successful with loans/mortgages and then I can go back to credit cards and car insurance. Internal links with keyword rich anchor text.

When to use this? When you start working on organic performance, so when you're starting with an organisation or when you have a new client in your agency. For a website we've established a history of ranking in SERPs in search engine results pages. When you quickly need to prove that SEO works, this always gives a feeling that I need to prove that I was the right person. I don't want to make anyone think that I failed, I don't like excuses and that's why I'm using this when I quickly want to prove it.

Conclusions. First, you're dealing with keywords that already rank, you are leveraging quality traffic because if this keyword ranks already in the top 10, that means that Google is thinking that they are relevant. You're utilising multiple URLs, and finally you’re playing search engine games. So, Google is your game master and you are just following Google as you're treating Google as your advisor. Finally, you deliver quick results. So, that was tactic one.

Tactic two - that's link building through brand tracking. Raise your hand if you are using any brand tracking software so far, okay we have three people so there is a couple of software’s which allow you to track your brand mentions across the online environment. TalkWalker. Brand24, Fresh Web Explorer, and Google Alerts except Google's never works but anyway, I'm using Brand24 and a bit of story. Like my name and surname is Lukasz Zelezny and it's very difficult and only my Mum and Dad probably can spell this. When I moved to London in 2007 from Poland where I was born with Polish a Polish name and Czech surname, what could go wrong?

I’ve been many names. I was even thinking to change this, I wanted to have a bit of a sophisticated name and common surname and I was thinking that I will change to Archibald Smith. But then I realised that there was Archibald Smith, he was living in the 19th century and this guy is number one in Wikipedia so I was like “Archibald I won't beat you so I will stay with Lukasz Zelezny.”

Then when I when I discovered Brand24 I was thinking like “hold on let's try and I put my name and surname with Polish crazy characters without spaces and with typos I created this project in the end of 2013 and it's still running. every time when someone has mentioned my name and surname, I first assume that there is no other Lukasz Zelezny if I would be John Smith, that would be a different story. But Lukasz Zelezny is only one and I can react and like and contact whoever mentioned me, especially our bloggers and so on.

If your brand is a common name like cheap flights you will have a problem but if your brand is like Adidas or like uSwitch for example or like Zoopla, that's the word which is kind of reserved for that specific organisation or that specific website and you can start tracking mentions, and then reacting so I created this project and I've been able to see. Lots of websites that mention me, predominantly Twitter then I had some Facebook mentions but there was blogs, there was news, there were some videos on YouTube and others we'd been mentioned on and I could go and I could see addresses of the website that mentioned my name and one day I was shocked. This lovely lady, because I saw this language and my first reaction was that it was probably like a spambot but then I was like hold on that must be Russian! I can speak Russian, especially after a couple of shots because I have neighbours who speak Russian and I speak Polish, Polish and Russian are quite similar, especially when you party together. But I could not read this and you probably know why, and I was like “hold on what's going on here, it's my photo” and the text and I noticed these guys found my article on LinkedIn, copied this and translated to Russian then put it on their website. But they wrote my name in the Latin alphabet here and Brand24 been able to catch this.

So, what I did here was I just approved of it and was like “Guys thank you very much for mentioning me and so on and so on, I'm really pleased but if any chance could you change this link from LinkedIn to my website no problem my friend” and I was super cool, so then I started thinking that every time there is a mention like that without a link I still can approach that person and say “thank you very much for mentioning me, I'm really pleased. By the way I posted a link to your article on my Twitter and on my Facebook and by the way could you maybe link to my website?” No problem 9/10 times, there is no problem.

First of all I'm approaching, second of all, it's a bit of a psychological game you saying thank you and you gave something you posted on Twitter and so on and so on and you're not doing this like if you will put a link, then I will post on Twitter because that would be quite grey if not blackhat. So, yes, so this is Brand24, TalkWalker and so on.

Tactic 3 - Gap analysis. SEMrush is a great tool, and this is one of the approaches I have when I'm helping with content marketing. So, here are two domains - Telegraph and Independent and SEMrush can show me common keywords that these two guys are ranking in Google.co.uk. This is completely rubbish data, it’s Facebook, YouTube, Daily Mail, Argos, porn and Rightmove. That means nothing but if I would like to write something about Scotland which I really like, then I can say “hey show me what The Telegraph and The Independent are ranking together between position 1 and 10 and need to contain the keyword ‘Scotland’.

I have a bunch of results here: ‘election result in Scotland’, ‘Scotland independent’, ‘patron saint of Scotland’ and you can see positions and the search volume, and I know that these guys were writing about this. I can do something much more complicated than that - this is for when I was working for uSwitch, but this is not confidential data, but I blurred these competitors because you don't need to know that I'm talking about moneysupermarket. So, I put competitors here and uSwitch and I set SEMrush to show me the keywords that my three competitors simultaneously rank in Google.co.uk that uSwitch does not rank for.

First of all, if three of them are ranking or sharing some keyword bucket that must be pretty relevant - that's no chance that this random bucket will be used, and then if I will narrow this and I would say and “show me only keywords which are ranking in the top 20” then it's even more relevant. This is very interesting, I saw mortgage insurance, mortgage calculator, calculation mortgage, calculate mortgage simulator, do we see a pattern here? Of course!

Mortgage calculators are very important to some, people are saying that in this country looking at properties is like a national sport and I agree I'm looking at the properties every couple of days in bed doing some calculations. People are typing ‘mortgage calculator’ and we are not ranking and this is a very important signal right now because I can go to my developers and say “guys stop doing everything, what you're doing, we’re doing a mortgage calculator and I can go to my copywriters and say “guys stop working, we are writing now about mortgages and mortgage calculators” and I could define keywords which are more or less okay grammatically and then I could send this to my copywriter saying I want an 800-word piece of content with:

Here for example I can link to my competitors and they can see what competitors are writing how they write, tone of voice etc.

Third tactic - Dealing with AnswerBoxes. So AnswerBoxes were probably invented in 2015 and I hired to my team in my previous company, a guy who was dealing only with this. AnswerBoxes are these little snippets here which are appearing above organic results, and first of all when you're appearing here you're still appearing in the traditional organic results. Also, you can add PPC and you will be securing three spots, so it's like a win-win. “What is a smart meter?” and that was the question and we were not ranking there, we had this answer in a very fluffy way, very flowery words I was like “no simple English” because there is no way to tag this, no way to tell Google “hey I want to be in an AnswerBox” except by giving Google some content that the AI of Google will understand and if you want to know what is simple English, if you go with any popular keyword in Wikipedia then you can go to English language. Simple English is this kind of English that I could speak when I came to London in 2007.

So, it probably is better to understand the simple language and we rewrite this paragraph (you know a smart meter is a new kind of gas and electricity meter that can digitally send meter readings to your energy supplier - simple, honest, direct) and this paragraph was the first one on the page and when we edited this we started to render.

Another example: “what is dual fuel?” Dual fuel simply means ‘and so on and so on’ and that was taken from the third paragraph. So, we don't see here consistency, Google may take from the second, third, or fourth paragraph.

How to get there? First of all, you need to rank quite high with organic results, predominantly position one to five and the keyword need to fire this AnswerBox. When these two conditions are fulfilled, then you can go and start playing with headings, with lists, writing additional paragraphs, adding div.’s, trying to split content into paragraphs and so on and so on. Frequently Featured Snippets have 350 characters and then finally obviously image ALT tags should have this keyword or question in the ALT tag.

Now the featured AnswerBox may change on a daily/weekly basis. You can be it in the morning, but you may disappear that evening and the next day come back and so on and so on. Google is doing lots of tests but elements to focus on it's as always: page title, meta description, page URL, h1/h2/h3/h4 tags and all these things which are strictly related to content.

Now how to find keywords that fire AnswerBoxes, so we can start typing (like I wrote a short bread recipe) and I had a shortbread recipe here which had been taken from the BBC food website, or Champions League groups and you have a really sweet table which has been taken directly from BBC Sport. UK water rights, again but there is a more sophisticated method.

Again, we're going to SEMrush and you can write your competitor or a big website like bbc.co.uk and here you can find your featured snippet at the top. They are saying 0.48% of all keywords that SEMrush BBC is ranking for on Google.co.uk is firing an AnswerBox. 0.48% - that's not much but if you will do quick math (3,700,000 keywords when I was doing) multiplied by 0.48% is 17,760 keywords that fire this AnswerBox and why it's so important to be an AnswerBox. We were doing some tests, click through rate can be 50 or 60%. Remember this chart I showed you at the beginning, on the position 1 there was 18%, okay sometimes you may have 20/25% for brand keywords maybe 50% but you may have this also for generic keywords, you may get 50-60 % click through rate on generic keywords.

You can measure this in the Search Console. So AnswerBoxes, when to use? When you're dealing with an established website; again, this is not for a new website - when you're dealing with an industry leader so this is an answer for, we are leader we cannot grow, and we cannot get more traffic. Well maybe you can through AnswerBoxes.

Conclusion. Refreshing content is always good, even if you will fail to get to AnswerBox you're still doing a great job you’re refreshing content, you’re updating content, answering questions that customers may ask. You are answering questions that customers may ask, very often this AnswerBox is the featured snippet appearing on question type queries and again you’re playing search engine games delivering significant impact on click-through rate. Finally, it’s better to being in AnswerBoxes than not to be. Sometimes people are “saying well if my website will be during Google no one will click because they will read content straight away.” Seriously this is 350 characters, the only type of the website I can think about that wouldn't like to be there with the answers - that's our dictionaries.

That's why when I'm typing sometimes: how to say this or that in English, there is this Meta Description which is always going around well so you're looking for that word that you want to translate to English and so on and so on. I need to click to see the answer to one of the last tactics, I think this is one before the last plugins for WordPress.

I hope you will find this very useful couple of plugins that I always recommend using. The first one is ‘one signal’, these are push notifications that you can send every time you're posting something new on your blog. So, one signal plugin is workingclosetoonesignal.com. you need to create their account and then you need to simply add like API ID and so on and so on very straightforward. I have two charts here, my website and then there is my second baby/ social media dot PL I'm very proud of this domain and every time someone is visiting there is a pop up: “hey would you like to subscribe”, they can click and then every time I will post a new article then they will get a notification when you install one signal, there is this little checkbox and when you check this then every time you’re posting something new there is this nice pop-up and that increases your direct traffic.

Another thing WPA SEO Auto Linker a very important plug-in to build a network of internal links. You can define an anchor text that consistently will be linking to other pages or even outside your website, so again this is social media PL and I said every time there is a Twitter link to this URL, every time there is what Facebook link to this URL and every time on every article I have what Facebook it will be consistently linked to a Facebook FAQ. Every time there is the word ‘Twitter’ it will be linked to another article and this is how it works is on the fly and if I would not like to change this at some point. I can just go to the settings of this plug-in and change this smoosh image compressor. If you care about page speed which is one of the most important factors, you definitely want to make sure that your images are properly compressed. This plugin is commercial, but the free version also will do lots.

Gonzales - another plug-in to make your website faster, $20, but worth to check and obviously the creme de la creme: Autoptimize, if you're not using out Autoptimize yet when you will get home please install this and just tick three check boxes (optimise my HTML. CSS and JavaScript).

Then, a little controversial I think I agree with Mark because there are many examples that maybe you heard that something is not working and then it works. 404 to 301, every 404 page you are redirecting on a home page. Some people are saying that it may generate soft 404s, that this is not good and so on. I'm using this with passion and generally never had any problems but obviously is good to install this, activate and see in Search Console if you have any errors. What this plugin is doing everywhere that doesn't exist will be redirected 301 to your home page and when I bought this without content. So, previous backlinks that been pointing to this website were pointing to non-existing articles. Instead of picking up every link, I just said just move to the homepage.

The last one, ‘append link on copy’ - if someone is highlighting a piece of text from your website click right mouse, copy, that plug-in will add link where this content been taken from. Lots of big publishers are using this to leverage organically backing profile.

The last one: cloud. Anyone using SiteGround? So why am I talking about side ground? Generally I am a big fan of SiteGround, but if using the WP engine we’re still friends you know SiteGround, WP engine, and lots of this optimised for WordPress or optimised for Magento or optimised for specific CMS server provider/cloud provider are giving you lots of options that you may not be aware of. Some time ago SiteGround was giving for level of caching and this level was only possible if you added a special code and I discovered this and then I went to GTmerix and I did some tests. The same website was loading in 8.4 seconds and then after activating for level of cache, 3.1d and then the other website 8.7s and then optimised 3.4s. You can see that the size and the real number of requests, even the performance score, were as bad as they'd been before, but the full load time went massively up. They stopped serving this but then they start giving options to move your website to PHP 7.2 and so on and this is mainly for when you will have some time, go to your settings of your server provider and see what is there to make your website perform better.

Now to wrap up and takeaways.

Always use fast and optimise hosting provider can be WP engine, can be even Hostgator maybe - I was using this a long time ago. If you are on WordPress test different plugins and make sure that you're not testing too many plugins at the same time because then you will not be able to identify which plug-in is working. I had this problem, I started installing lots of plugins we've been optimising PageSpeed at the same time and I got 20 seconds load and it was still loading. So, plugins started fighting between each other.

Try to rank in AnswerBoxes because it's better to be there than not to be there, and your competitor is a great source of data if you have a market leader you can follow. It's great because this market leader is showing you the path, one day you will overtake this market leader but for now you can see what they were writing about - where are the gaps, what keywords we should target and we are not targeting and so on and so on.

Finally my baby socialmedia.pl so this is where I acquired this website before the guy, the guy was writing nice articles but he didn't care about the SEO and I could see that there was lots of potential, I've been able to generate really nice traffic on this.

So once again, thank you for having me - that's it! I hope to see you again.

AK: That was Lukasz Zelezny, I hope you enjoyed that talk and learnt some new things. We actually have another SearchNorwich coming up this month on the 29th August where we’ll be getting some great talks just like this one, so make sure you get your free ticket from searchnorwich.org.

We’ll have links to all resources in the shownotes at search.withcandour.co.uk as always including his slides and a video of the talk as well.

Thank you so much for joining us, my name is Ayush Kumar and I hope you all have a great week!

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