Top iTunes Business Podcast

47+ Million Downloads

SPI 571: Easy SEO for Non-SEO People with Tim Soulo from Ahrefs

Today’s show is probably the most mind blowing, and likely one of the most valuable podcast episodes that you will ever hear.

I’m very happy to have Tim Soulo back on the show. Tim is the CMO at Ahrefs, an industry leading search engine optimization (SEO) toolset.

If you haven’t heard of Ahrefs, it’s software you can use to audit your website and get all kinds of data to help you improve your Google search rankings. Ahrefs is Google Search Console times a hundred.

Ahrefs also gives you a lot of things related to your ranking and how it changes over time. You can track keywords, do backlink checks, and not just on your own site, but also on your competitors’ websites. Ahrefs is the dashboard for all things SEO, which I know can be very scary.

This episode is about simplifying it and taking the right approach. You’re going to actually get excited about search engine optimization, and learn how to rank higher and get more search engine traffic to your website.

Today’s Guest

Tim Soulo

Tim is the Chief Marketing Officer and Product advisor at Ahrefs (an industry-leading SEO tool, powered by Big Data). With almost 10 years of practical experience in SEO and digital marketing, Tim eagerly shares his knowledge by giving live talks at various digital marketing conferences around the world and publishing blog articles at Ahrefs Blog. He’s the author of many data-driven SEO research studies and a number of detailed marketing guides.

You’ll Learn


SPI 571: Easy SEO for Non-SEO People with Tim Soulo from Ahrefs

[00:00:00] Tim:
The most straightforward answer I have for you is work backwards. Give as much as you can for free to get that credibility, to get that audience, to get that gratitude of people. Once your resource has acquired lots of backlinks and is ranking well, you can start gating it little by little and see if people still reference it as the best resource.

[00:00:47] Pat:
Alright, I just finished the interview with Tim from Ahrefs. You probably heard a little clip from the episode just now, but wow. I literally just got off the call, and probably the most mind blowing and likely one of the most valuable podcast episodes that you will ever hear. This is in regards to search engine optimization.

Today we talk about a lot of things that have changed since the last time he was on the show three years ago. A lot has changed, but a lot of the principles remain the same. We get into more specifics of what you can do, today. I even get very specific with some things that we were trying to do, that we were told to do, that actually through the conversation today I realized maybe aren’t the best things to do. So, a lot to uncover here.

Again, a huge shout out to Tim and the entire team at Ahrefs. If you haven’t heard of Ahrefs, it’s a software tool you can pop your website into. You might have Google search console, but this is that times a hundred, plus it gives you a lot of things related to your ranking and how it changes over time.

You can track certain keywords. You can do backlink checks, and not just on your own site, but on your competitor’s website. It is the dashboard for all things search engine optimization, which I know can be very scary. This episode is about simplifying that and taking the right approach. You’re going to love this episode so much.

So again, if you want to check this out, but first listen to the episode so you can get jazzed, and actually get excited about search engine optimization and the approach that you could have for your website, so that you can rank and get more search engine traffic. That’s the best way because it’s free and it’s with user intent behind it, and it can add up to a lot of dollars for you.

So, I hope you enjoy this.

Tim, welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thanks for joining us again.

[00:02:36] Tim:
Hey, Pat. Thanks a lot for inviting me again.

[00:02:39] Pat:
I’m so happy to have you back on, in fact, the last time you were on, which was episode 360 4, which was literally three years ago. I mean, in the world of SEO, what is that like? It’s like dog years, right? Seven times seven 20. It’s been like 21 years since you’ve been on the show. I’ve had a ton of, I still get, actually get feedback from that episode because you were able to take this complicated thing called search engine optimization. And simplify it for all of us.

So first of all, thank you for that. And thank you for coming back. What’s the world of SEO like today. Like I know that’s a big question, but has it changed much since three years ago? And then we’ll get into the more details, but from a high level, what is SEO look like today?

How do we rank on Google?

[00:03:21] Tim:
Yeah, I think from the top level it’s more of the same, all the fundamentals are still there. I still don’t think that SEO is complicated. Well, at least a for an average website owner, we’re not talking about people who have to do so for websites like booking com or I think it’s more of the same. And I think Google is still trying.

To find the, the, the best content from all over the web and to show people, what deserves to rank at the top. So it’s essentially, it’s all about giving people the best information and being a credible source for this information. So if you were to boil down, how to succeed in SEO to a simple advice, that would be like, be the best source of information, be the most credible source of information.

[00:04:14] Pat:
How does Google define what is best and what is credible? If we can write for that then, or is it even just write anymore? Is it video?

I know those are all a part of it too, or is it where’s the written word still like king.

[00:04:28] Tim:
So this is, this is an amazing question then. it, it gets us right. Very deep into the topic. yeah. First of all, I think Google is no longer a dominant force. Well, Google is in a search engine, not Google as a company, or should they sell, say alphabet because they believe their parent company is called alphabet because I’m sure like people can relate if you need, for example, to look up some reviews of, I know Pokemon cards, you would rather go and look on YouTube because you can actually see people, opening boxes, reviewing those cards, looking at them, discussing.

But when you search for those things, for reviews of different products on Google, you don’t really know if the people who wrote those articles ever touched those products themselves, or they just went to Amazon, looked up a few reviews from people on Amazon and quickly wrote their article. So yeah, I believe searches.

Kind of a fragmented. Now people use different sites to search for different things. I think YouTube is very important for both, for, for businesses and for people who do this as a hobby for people who are bloggers, for, for shopping Amazon is of course I, I find myself. Starting my shopping related e-commerce related searches on Amazon first.

And then I will try to search for local sites, insight. So yeah, in that sense, yeah, a lot has changed in terms of search engine optimization. You no longer think about Google only. and there were quite a few, we were seeing a big trend that Google wants to keep people. On their page on the page of the search results.

And they try to give more and more information on the search results, as opposed to sending people to click on those searches, often visit those websites. So they try to kind of aggregate some information and show it right in the search results. For me as a user that is often. Very handy, very convenient because when I’m sitting with my friends at the bar and we’re arguing about something, if it’s true or not, you do a search in Google and the displays and that of pretty much instantly.

So you don’t need to click on a website. You don’t need to scroll to find where this particular question is being answered on the page, or they show it to you right in the search results. But for website. that’s not a good thing, definitely because you’re not getting those clicks. And it’s harder for you to monetize your website, which means it’s harder for you to justify spending all the time and effort into creating unique, original content into taking the, the stuff that you have in your head as a professional, onto a page, because like, what do you get out of it?

If Google will just scrape it and display it in your search results, without giving you any. So these are the main trends that, that I’m seeing in the past.

[00:07:25] Pat:
Yeah. I mean, I almost feel like Google. With the little dropdown menus and definitions and other things that I would have on my page, myself, I almost feel like Google is stealing for me. All right. They’re getting advertising dollars. They’re getting a watch time or people on their page still, and they’re not coming to my site.

So, so what do we do about that? I mean, I know that you can optimize for those. I think they’re called snippets on Google, but is that even worth doing, I mean, where are people getting an ROI with search engine optimization?

[00:07:56] Tim:
So, yeah, there’s, there’s actually not much we could do about this other than growing our brands, investing into growing our brands so that people like, like I said, I’m going to Amazon.

If I need shopping, you should become an authority in a given field where people would want to know what’s you have to say.About a certain topic, or if they want to learn something, they would learn it. they would want to learn it from you specifically because they know that you are a credible source of information. other than that, yeah, Google is just stealing traffic from everyone. I I’ll tell you a quick story about, our old website about the trust.

So we have invested into content marketing and they sell quite a bit. We eat our own dog food and we were generating lots and lots of search traffic to our website. And last year we noticed that. Our traffic has dropped quite sharply. And when we started digging into it, like, did we do any like assume mistakes or did we, I don’t know, acquire some Spanish backlinks that Google is punishing us for?

Or did we make some technical issues which are preventing Google from ranking the pages of our website. None of that. So we identify that there were three main reasons why we are quite experienced in SEO, lost quite a bit of our search. So I think the first reason was that Google started displayed more answers to the questions, in those like featured snippets, knowledge panels, people also ask boxes and all that, which effectively pushes down, they’re getting search results.

So. Even like you might, you may still rank number one, their numbers. But if there is a people also as books or like knowledge panel above you, it pushes you down and people are less likely to click. They’re more likely to stay on the search results and get their answer there. This was the first reason we just, we, we, we have, we track these how many, of those different we call them.

SERP features are being displayed for the keywords that you rank for. And we just saw that the, the amount of search features that Google started displaying for. For those keywords that you want to rank for Israel going up, which means our traffic is going down. the second reason is that, some of our competitors are more aggressive with advertising for the keywords where we rank nicely.

And Google is displaying as many as four, advertisements before the organic search results. So for advertisements pushes you quite far below the fold, and if we’re talking about mobile phones where you cannot like stretch your advertisements horizontally, you have to do it very. You have to scroll with your thumb quite a bit until we get to the organic search results.

And Google is trying to make their, ads undiscernible, from the organic searches. Also people just start clicking ads more. And this is, this is understandable because Google makes their revenue from ads. So they are pretty much motivated to display more of those ads, and to funnel all those clicks, to be paid clicks, to get money for.

As opposed to organic search results. So this is the second reason why we saw the drop traffic traffic, because our competitors thought that instead of, trying to rank us organically, they might as well put some money and like display their content of ours. And the third reason is we have content on the topics of SEO and digital marketing and Google decided to create their own resource about search engine optimization and.

And suddenly Google’s own research about search engine optimization, where they talk about those topics is ranking number one for everything effectively pushing all other sites down. So I don’t know how to look at this because on one hand, Google should potentially be the number one authority when it comes to search engine optimization, because like we are optimizing content to be ranked on their platform and they know their platform.

But on the other hand, many answer professionals will be very skeptical about the advice that Google is giving us. the Google might want to mislead us and they might not mislead us for evil reasons. Maybe they don’t want to disclose certain information because they are afraid that people will start abusing it.

So there are like two sides of this coin, but yeah. what, what I’m seeing in SEO is that more. More featured snippets and more consolidation towards the big brands, because it’s not just Google who stole traffic from the ASL community with their resource. We’re seeing this with other big websites where like, websites, for example, HubSpot recently acquired, a media company, the hustle.

And we see lots of consolidations where big brands are using their resources and using their big, big websites and big brands to consolidate more content and effectively push all these smaller competition away. So it gets a bit more challenging these days to, to get search traffic naturally.

[00:12:54] Pat:
Well, number one, you’re not making me like Google very much. number two. It makes me wonder in the position that, that puts us, especially smaller brands, ones with small marketing teams, or maybe we’re just Soulo, preneurs, spending time writing articles or, or trying to gain traffic. I mean, we have knowledge, we have expertise.

We should be trusted, but there are things that are getting in the way. Is it even worth putting our time and resources into that? Any more? I have an answer to that, but I’d love to hear your answer. Is it. Trying to rank high for certain keywords anymore. Despite all that.

[00:13:33] Tim:
So, first of all, I was obviously quite pessimistic and critical of Google and what they’re doing, but to be fair, there’s still. A lot of opportunity, to rank and to get search traffic because no matter how, how many like big websites there are and how many of those search features and ads Google will add to their search results, there are still.

Lots of, there are still lots of opportunity and every day, new trends are emerging. And if you’re the first one to cover the emerging trends and become a resource for them, you will be getting this traffic. So, yeah. Google is stealing, stealing traffic away from a website owners. That’s for sure, but there’s still plenty of opportunity.

And the fact that. Search traffic is essentially free. So you create this content, you put it out there and people can come back to it for years to come. this still has lots of value and I, I am convinced that SEO is still an amazing channel for, for audience building, for, customer acquisition, for sales and all that.

And even though I, lamented on the fact that we lost lots of our search to. Our website is still getting like over a million visits per month from search. So it’s not that they killed it all. it just, they took away some of it. So there’s still plenty of opportunity. And by no means, I want to dissuade people from paying attention to SEO and from being conscious of the content that they’re creating and how they optimize it for ranking.

[00:15:08] Pat:
Hmm, thank you for that. My answer was going to be somewhat similar. We are getting loads of search engine traffic still, and despite all that, we rank really high for how to start a podcast for example. But when you go there, you see all these ads, you see all these snippets and a couple of websites have outranked us.

We’re like in the number three spot right now. We still get thousands of people coming in per month and it’s free traffic. And so like I’m complaining. Cause I used to get maybe more free traffic, but I’m still getting free traffic. And not only that, like you said, the articles that are written on the web.

They shouldn’t be just for bringing new people in. They should be to provide value to the people who are already there. They should be providing value to maybe the people who come from YouTube, find yourself and find you on your website and then see the articles that you have it’s for them as well. And this is, this is like you said, it’s, it’s about brand.

It’s not just about the page you create. It’s about the brand that you’re creating in whole, which is, which is really, really important. So I appreciate that insight, so, okay. SEO still worthwhile free traffic. Amazing. What are the key things that we could do on our web pages to optimize as highly as we can.

I mean, back the last time you chatted, I know it was about, you know, and everybody says this, you know, providing, providing value, like you said, creating the best stuff. you had mentioned something earlier today that was new and that is like being the most trusted resource. What are the specific things we can do on our page to meet all that criteria, to at least give ourselves the best chance.

[00:16:38] Tim:
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. First of all, the lowest hanging fruit for any website owner is to simply be cautious, be aware. If the, the pages or other, the topics of the pages that they have on their website are something that people are actively searching for. In other words, doing keyword research, for example, if you have, yeah, it sounds obvious, but a lot of people are not doing it.

For example, if, if you have a, I don’t know, a pool cleaning house, and you have a bunch of different services that you do in terms of pool cleaning. I don’t know, fixing the pumps and blah, blah, blah. I’m not really familiar with pool cleaning to be very specific with this, but the thing is people would create a page, call it our services and just list all the services there in one bulleted list

And call it. So no, like what, what should people look for? If they’re looking for pool cleaning services? Like if the title of the, of your pages, our services, what you should be doing instead, you should create a dedicated page with the name of each service that you’re doing. So if someone would search for, how do I fix my pump to like, or something is stuck in my pool pump or whatever, or the how to clean the water or the water in the pool.

Got. You have a page about it. You have a dedicated page, so people can land on. First of all, Google Google can understand that you have an answer to this question that someone is asking in Google, they can refer people to your page. So the lowest hanging fruit is to simply be conscious of what kind of content you have on your website.

And is it something that people will be searching for in Google and easier? Properly answering that query and it should be kind of one, one page or one topic. Don’t, don’t try to squeeze everything onto one Patient. Hope that one page would rank for everything. so this is the lowest hanging food that every website owner should be aware of and should be absolutely doing on their website because otherwise they’re just simply missing out in terms of being a credible source.

There’s a lot of, discussion in the SEO world. About this being a true factor or not like people are debating. How would Google know if you, for example, if you are a real dentist or not to be talking about some dental surgeries and stuff, or if you just made a fake personality, wrote that in the author bio that you’re like have a PhD or like have some, awards or something.

And Google will kind of read that and think that you’re a real person. but essentially it boils down to. To having links to your website, because if you are an authority in your space, other people in your space should know you and they should reference your work in some way. So for example, if you let’s go back to the pool cleaning website, if you do a good job, if you’re a, if you’re an authority and if you create content on your website, when people in your local community on the local form would be discussing their problems with the polls, someone.

But put a link to your website because they use your services, they enjoyed it. You like, you help them with their issue and they will reference you. So this is how Google knows that you are an authority because other people mentioned your website mentioned your competence. Some people also think that even mentions of your brand, even they even leave, those mentions are not linked to your website.

Do influence this, for example, my name or your name. people mentioned us in article. All around the internet and not necessarily, they would link to our website. So Google might, might see that, okay. This article is written by Tim Soulo and we saw the name, Tim Soulo. I don’t know, a hundred websites.

So these guys must be real. Of course, this can be gained because you can create a thousand websites. You can put a fake persona there, but those signals can, can influence this. another thing is that, Google is Google seems to be very conscious of user behavior factors and they are using human raters to rate their searches.

So probably there also look at the page and look at like how your website is structured. Is it good looking because if it looks like it’s from nineties, people can trust these people. Wouldn’t put their credit card, on a page that looks like it was created 20 years ago. So if you’re investing effort in your website, if it is clean, if it is good-looking, if it works fast and well, those things also contribute to your kind of authority, but the main.

Is being their authority, not, not trying to fake it. If you are in authority, you are in the third. Like, I, I even struggled to explain this, but I think the, the concept is more or less understandable.

[00:21:26] Pat:
That’s super handy. I mean, there’s so many things I want to cover really quick, but thank you. First of all, you had mentioned. Instead of just kind of bullet points of each item, have them all separate on separate dedicated pages where you go in depth with each of them. We have a page that we tried optimizing on our site NSPI for affiliate marketing.

And we were told from several sources, for example, that, you know, we should take every question that people have about affiliate mark. And put it on that one page, have it be a pillar piece of content and it’s not bullet points of just each of those things. It’s actual headlines of each of those questions and then a really detailed answer, but the pages, maybe, you know, five, 6,000

Words in length, and I’ve seen Neil Patel share information about, search engine rankings versus the correlation of the length of those articles and such.

Can you specify a little bit more about that strategy long page and answering all those questions in detail, still providing value versus maybe what if we were to instead of 10 questions on one page, we had 10 pages that each answer those questions well is one better than.

[00:22:36] Tim:
Yeah, absolutely. There’s one thing that I forgot to mention when talking about all that, and this thing is called search search intent or searcher intent, different people call it differently. Basically what it refers to is what do people expect to get.

When they search for this particular keyword. So I feel it marketing.

What do people expect? Do they even expect a long form article? Maybe if you had a gated course where they leave their email and they get, like a full course on the Philip marketing to their email is what they expect. What more of the searchers expect would, would satisfy their search. So a quick story of our own website, we have.

A landing page for, covering one of our functionalities, which is backlink checker, a traps as a backlink checker as one of our tools. thank you. And we had kind of a regular feature page we were explaining. So we have this tool, it does this and that. Here are some screenshots. Here are some statistics, blah, blah.

And we were ranking number eight for Beck and checker. And despite all the optimizations we were optimizing speed. We were optimizing the images on our website. We were optimizing the texts on our website. Nothing was, we were even building more backlinks to this page. Nothing was helping us. And then we noticed that the pages that were outranking us were free to.

So the searcher intent when they were looking for backlink checker seemed to be that they wanted a free tool, which would work for them right away. They didn’t want to learn that there’s some software that has Becklin checkup functionality, but you have to pay for it to use it. No, they would rather click on something that says free backlink checker.

Use it now use it today. So what we did, we made almost no changes to our landing page. We just added an input form, like enter your website and like, see my bucket. Almost immediately in the course of the week, this page shot up to number one. and I think right now it’s one of our most, popular pages in terms of search traffic.

It’s generating tons of tons of visitors to our website. It is ranking number one, since the time we made this change and no one is able to track us because each reps is also the authority on backlinks. But even though we were authority on backlinks without nailing the search intent without giving people what they want.

We couldn’t track. So this is the first thing it’s not necessarily a question of, should they make my page longer? Should they make my page shorter? Should they, should they answer all those questions on the same page? Or should I create some kind of hub where people would land on kind of an introductory page?

Like this is an introductory course to, I feel it marketing click on chapter one, and then you send them to two subsequent pages. Or if this is like a video call, that is gated where they have to leave their email and get it. Or if this, this is a course where like all the videos are all the republished on the same page, you have to like be the only way to know is to experiment with it, to, to publish a page and see if, if people like it, if people enjoy it.

And another important thing is of course getting backlinks because, someone is already ranking for a Filipino. And they might not necessarily be nailing the search intent. So people might not necessarily like what they’re seeing on the page for affiliate marketing, but they have acquired so many backlinks historically that Google thinks that this is the best possible page.

So if you are a brand new blog, I would say that it would be nearly impossible for you to rank for this kind of keyword, but for you, because you have an audience, you have lots of people, bloggers, marketers, podcast, podcasters following you. And if you create a really amazing resource and you promote it within your audience, people will start referencing it and people will start referencing your page.

And you, you, you need to answer the question. Why. Why is your research better than what’s already there? Why did you bother to create it other than to rank and get searched? What kind of additional value your, your research adds, adds to the world. Like be honest with you, can you create something better than the top three search results?

Can you, can you like give people better tips? Can you teach them something? They, they cannot see from those two pages. And if you can, if you can provide something on top of it, and then you have an audience that would help amplify this, that would link to it. That would talk about it. That. Google will notice it because what we’ve also seen is that when you publish something and it gains traction on social media, in email newsletters and picks up some links from like roundups and such Google sees that activity and they put your page at the top of the search results to test it like, okay, we’re seeing that this, this page is getting lots of traction on social media and blah, blah, blah.

Let’s try to put it for the relevant keyword at the top of the search results and SQL searches with. And then they put it there and people will react positively. People will stay on the page. People won’t, refine their searches and click something else. Your page might stay there. And then, or what we call a vicious cycle of SEO will kick him because the top ranking pages tend to acquire backlinks because they always get traffic.

So if you ranked number one, a certain amount of people is visiting your page every day, every week, every week. And a fraction of those people. Some of those people will then link to you because this is the best resource that they discovered on the topic. So naturally when they need to talk about affiliate marketing, they will reference a resource that was ranking number one on Google, which they found a week ago.

But if you manage to put your page out there, even for a while and people start, start using it, start liking it and they will link back. Your page will secure its position in the search results. and then gradually you can get to the top. So this is how it works, but yeah, the, the most important thing is still to answer why and how your research contributes some additional value to the world.

On top of what’s already there.

[00:28:46] Pat:
Dude you are a gold mine. I’m just saying, wow. Okay. Follow up question that I think might be on people’s minds. It’s on my mind. I looked up a backlink checker. number one. Well done. Like you said, fantastic. By the way, everybody go check out a dress because it’s amazing. And if you want to see what keywords you need to be ranking for and have we use the rank tracker to see how we’re performing.

And I actually go in there every day to see if we’ve moved up, we’ve moved down. What competitors have come in, et cetera, go check it out. Ahrefs. Anyway.

It’s free, free backlink checker by trough’s. If I provide a really great resource that people can use and they talk about, and it gets me to rank number one, it’s likely going

To be a lot of free value that I’m sharing. How do I know where to draw the line between what do I give away for free? Yet, I still want customers coming in.

I still want students coming to my courses. You still want people to sign up for a tress? How do you not give away everything so that when it comes time to, you know, make a sale, you’ve already given everything.

[00:29:58] Tim:
This is an amazing question. And the most straightforward answer that I have for you is work backwards.

First, give as much as you can for free to get that credibility, to get that audience, to get that gratitude of people. And once this resource has acquired lots of backlinks and this ranking. You can start gating it little by little and see if people still reference it as the best resource.

So that’s the first answer. And the other answer is. Bye. Like what happens to me? For example, I created a course that is called blogging for business. it used to sell for like $800, but now we also have it for free. We opened it back in the day when COVID hit and all people were staying at home and the companies were supporting people by opening their educational resources for free.

So yeah, I created this course some four years ago or something like that. And four years later, I understand that. I have so much more to say about blogging and content marketing for years later, compared to what they shared in this course, that course is still good. It still has lots of good ideas. I still see people on Twitter and people in communities referencing this course, whenever someone is asking for content marketing advice.

But I understand that I can easily create a follow-up course on the same topic and sell it because there’s so much additional value. So what I’m saying is that. Once you put out lots of value for free a year later on the same topic, regardless of what kind of value you are. You’ll have more unique ideas.

You’ll have more interesting insights that you can add that can be gated. So this resource would work as a lead magnet for you. And this is something that works towards your brand, towards your audience. and then you provide additional value on top of that. So I don’t think there’s, there’s a big issue with giving away too much.

[00:31:57] Pat:
I would agree with that. And even when I give away everything for free, cause you know me and what we do at SPI, we often give away so much people still look for ways to pay us back. That would give away everything for free. They say, Hey, do you have an affiliate link for this? Or I’ll make sure to click on your affiliate links or if you do any one-on-one coaching, let me know, because I love all the value you’ve already provided.

So there’s always going to be new ways to generate income, especially if you’ve like, I always talk about serve first. And so I appreciate it. that anchor there, you had mentioned human reviews at Google. Do they literally have people? I mean, there’s mill billions of websites. Are there people that actually go out there from goo?

Like they, Like I’m just imagining a person at Google all day just clicking, like, oh yeah, that website’s good. Yes. Yes.

Are they like, what are they doing? Do you, do you have any insight on how that works? And

[00:32:51] Tim:
Yeah, I think as far as they know, there is not even a secret. So, I believe once the, while Google update something, they call human rater guidelines or some. So I think if you Google for something like, Google human rater guidelines, you’ll find an actual document that they’re sending to people whose job is to open surgeries.

And rate the search results by a number of criteria that there is outlined in this document. And some people in the SEO space that there is a pretty long document. I think it’s 90 pages or something. And some people in the SEO space, whenever Google updates, this document, they would go read the whole thing from start to finish and they would publish.

Which kind of give us hints in terms of where Google is going or how they want to kind of gauge the, the quality and credibility of different websites.

[00:33:49] Pat:
To give you an update on the number of pages, Tim, there are 172 pages of this thing now copyright 2021, October 19. I definitely do not want to go. Through all of this, but I can see that there are indeed humans that go through this and use the certain guidelines they’re highly trained apparently.

So that’s really interesting.

[00:34:13] Tim:
I think without reading those 107 to 72 pages, the main takeaway that we can distill from this is that Google is trying to optimize for humans.

[00:34:24] Pat:

[00:34:24] Tim:
Is the most important thing. So Google is trying to use Google human raters to understand if humans like what they’re seeing and they, they give people, of course they give them, some inputs, like if, if the website had, because people are not necessarily aware if they’re looking at a good website or bad website, but I believe they asked them questions like, is this the kind of website you would feel comfortable giving your credit card information?

This is something I mentioned previously. So Google is trying to optimize for people, which means that SEO professionals or rather website owners who want their content of their website to show up on Google. They should also optimize for people. They should make the website experience a pleasant, fast, convenient, and clear for people.

And when they say clear this again, refers back to if I search for some issue with. I have to land on the page where I can without much struggle, get the information I need, whether it is like book an appointment or whether I need some information to do it myself, whatever my search intent is, I need to get this information as quick as possible.

And the game back to your question about making long pages, I often like to, quote, I don’t remember who this quote belongs to, but basically people don’t like to read. in the sense that if you could plug a cord right into your brain and deploy the information of some book or a website right into your brain without, without, yeah.

You will do this. Like why would they spend time reading books if I could just upload the information. So making your pages longer is not necessarily a good idea, because people will just open this page. They will see like 10,000 words. And they would close it because they don’t have time to read it because another page on the same topic might promise to give them the answer to their question in 500 words.

So they will just save their time and read the 500 words page and Google because they’re tracking the behavioral factors they would see. Okay. So this shorter article actions that seems to be satisfying, our search is more than this super long post, so let’s rank it higher. So it’s not about making your posts long.

It’s about giving people what they want as fast as you can.

[00:36:44] Pat:
Ah, it’s like, if it feels so different than what. I started SEO

[00:36:49] Tim:

[00:36:50] Pat:
And it was, it was, it was keywords number one. And it was a domain name that matched that keyword. That’s why I have passive income in the domain name. That’s literally why it’s there. and then like just have as much content as possible, but you’re right.

When I teach people about, for example, email marketing and creating lead magnets back in the day. The lead magnets that were longer were better because it was information that wasn’t available anywhere else. Now information is available everywhere and in fact, there’s too much of it. and the better lead magnets now are the ones that are a single page that could get a person the same result as the 72 page one that we had. And

I’m imagining it’s the same kind of conversation in SEO.

[00:37:38] Tim:
Yeah. Can I just also mention that, I I’m. So, kind of enjoying the fact that now I’m giving you some information about the sale, because back in the day, I was actually learning itself from you and the first websites that I’ve created. And the first is the advice that I’ve learned this from your following your case studies, and now I’m actually giving you information updates on what is happening in the cell. So we’ve come full circle.

[00:38:03] Pat:
We have come for a full circle, although I have to apologize because those ways don’t work anymore. And, and you’re, you know, I mean, those were, those were the niche site, duel days, right. Where they were private link networks and certain things that you could do that were, you know, that worked and, and, and gamed the system a little bit.

But, You know, wasn’t optimized for human

[00:38:27] Tim:
Okay. So

[00:38:28] Pat:
And that’s why this conversation is really important. So, you know, the other thing that’s really important is that you have tools that you can help people with. And a trust is a beautiful tool and we use it all the time and it also helps us discover some insight on certain pages on our website that we know are important that are maybe performing slow.

Like you said earlier, like baker pages fast. Okay. Now we have a list of pages that we can optimize and we use it to guide our SEO. And so I want to thank you for what you all do at AA, tress and Igor, who we’ve been working with as well. And I just want to say like, every time you come on, man, you just make it sound so easy because it actually can be like, why are we making it so complicated?

[00:39:09] Tim:
Yeah, you know, way, my message for the past few years has been. ACO is not really something you should be focusing on or anxious about. Like I said, it is much more important to, to be providing unique value. Like I said, if you want to rank for affiliate marketing, You have to give people the reason why is your resource better?

Like maybe other resources are outdated. So you have a fresh look or you have some connections in the space where you’re giving people some insider information or something. So it is much more important these days to have unique information that no one else. And SEO is kind of it isn’t a great it in your business.

It is integrated in your act of creation in the ex of content marketing in the X of building a business. I absolutely think that anyone that who has a website should study the basics of SEO and know like how backlinks help them. how to search for keywords, how to know what your audience is searching for, how to make sure that your page is optimized and it is addressing the, the right search intent for this keyword.

So those basics, those fundamentals. I absolutely think that anyone should know it, but. Like you shouldn’t be afraid of a solution and think that it’s some technical, dark magic and you have to spend years learning it. No, it is much more important to be expert in your particular field. For example, if you, if you put me with like, I know 15 years of experience in SEO, at the helm of some dental web.

I will actually struggle to, to, to make a drink because I’m not an expert in dental things. I would have to study the actual industry to, to become a good SEO. And I actually built for that because, before joining a trust, I was in charge of a photography where. And I’m not a photographer. I don’t know anything about photography, but I was trying to, to, to make that, to, to grow traffic to this website and I was struggling, I was struggling to find people would create content that would resonate with other photographers.

Meanwhile, And I had a team. I had some resources given to me because that, that website was part of like a bigger company. Meanwhile, I’ll saw, I saw individual bloggers, just photographers sitting like in their homes without any resources, apart from their brain, creating amazing articles and getting so much traction in the industry and getting natural backlinks and getting lots of traffic and like selling their courses and stuff.

Which is when I realized no, like if I would be doing something. I have to do it in this space, in the industry where I’m naturally interested in. So I will, I will become an expert in that particular industry. So it is much more important these days to be an expert in your industry and study the fundamentals of SEO, other than like compared to the other way around where you spend all your time studying SEO, but you’re an average, you have average knowledge of your industry at best.

[00:42:18] Pat:
That’s a great way to end the show in a massive lesson. So Tim, thank you again so much. I’ll talk a little bit more about Ahrefs in just a sec. So stick around, but Tim, thank you. Thank you to your team. And I look forward to catching up with you maybe in the next two or three years, but it’s likely going to be more of the same kind of stuff

[00:42:34] Tim:
Absolutely. Let’s make this a

[00:42:35] Pat:
Or we’ll talk about the metaverse, se like, you know, metaverse optimization or something.

I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.

[00:42:42] Tim:

[00:42:42] Pat:
Thanks Tim.

[00:42:43] Tim:
Thanks for having me.

[00:42:45] Pat:
Alright. I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. That was with Tim, from Ahrefs. I highly recommend you check them out. They’re not sponsoring this episode, I just wanted him to come on.

But I have to tell you about this tool, A H R E F They have a webmasters tool similar to Google webmaster tools, but a hundred times better. It’s going to immediately allow you to have an audit of your website.

So, whether it’s new or old, pop your website in there. The webmaster tools part is free, and you’re able to see how your website performs. Not just how it ranks, but the things that you can do to improve it, and all these other things. It’s just so great, and the information we learned today is just so valuable.

I highly recommend you come back to the webpage to check out all the links in the show notes and everything we talked about, which you can find at Again,, and check out A H R E F

You can find Tim Soulo, that’s T I M S U O L O on Twitter, and just let us know what you think.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed recording it. It’s just been absolutely fantastic. If you’re watching me right now make sure you hit subscribe if you haven’t already, because we have a lot more content like this coming your way. Very specific, very what you need to know right now.

So, hit that subscribe button, and thank you so much. Show notes at If you haven’t yet done so, check out Apply, because we let people in quarterly. We’d love to see you there.

Cheers, peace out, and as always, Team Flynn for the win.

Share this post

Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building your online business the smart way.

Get Unstuck in just 5 minutes, for free

Our weekly Unstuck newsletter helps online entrepreneurs break through mental blocks, blind spots, and skill gaps. It’s the best 5-minute read you’ll find in your inbox.

Free newsletter. Unsubscribe anytime.

Join 135k+