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Interview with Greg Jarboe CEO and Co-founder of SEO PR

Steve Wetmore – Greg Jarboe has joined us here at the InstaVIP IP podcast. Greg is CEO and co founder of SEO PR. Greg has given me some background about this very interesting company. He has started very early in the SEO years, he quickly recognized that PR can be leveraged to his advantage relative to search engine optimization. So, Greg, again, thank you for joining us.

Greg Jarboe

Greg Jarboe – Here’s the here’s the thumbnail sketch. I’m the president and co founder of SEO PR. We were founded in 2003. And I’m also the author of a book entitled YouTube and video marketing. I’m profiled in another book called Online Marketing Heroes. I teach digital marketing and social media marketing at Rutgers and Coursera and I’ve published over 1600 blog posts since 2003, spoken at conferences, and we’ve won multiple awards over the years and the most recent we just won last month was the US Search award in 2019, for the best use of PR and a search campaign.

Steve Wetmore – Very good Greg. So if you could give me some background on, your business. I see that your website outlines 10 major categories of services that you provide. And those 10 categories, they’re enormous in scope – So, if you could just tell us a little bit about what you do,

Greg Jarboe – We’d like to come up with what I call Plan B. Now, there are a whole lot of people out there who are already very busy focused on Plan A, whatever it is, and they’re going, Okay, I’m on our mission is to walk in and figure out a way to add value. And sometimes that’s by saying, You’re not optimizing your press releases, and that can help you and so that’s certainly how the company started back in 2003. A couple years later, we said, oh, by the way, did you know you can optimize videos for YouTube search and YouTube has turned into the second largest search engine behind only Google. And so we added that to the repertoire and increasingly we’re keeping our eyes not focused on straight and fun. There are a lot of people who do that. We’re trying to look for the opportunities, sort of that are in everyone’s peripheral vision, but nobody’s quite focused on so that’s my definition of Plan B.

Steve Wetmore – So to paraphrase; everyone else is working on Plan A so SEO PR is working to add value by filling in the services or gaps that other agencies don’t offer as a core strength? Can you give me an example?

Greg Jarboe – Sure. So there are a number of companies that offer SEO 101 basics, and most of them have brought it “in house”. And so why would I need an outside SEO agency? Similar thing has happened with social media marketing. I’ve got a team that’s already doing Facebook, and Twitter, you know, what value could you add? And what we do on the SEO front is to say, okay, you’re optimizing your website, who’s optimizing your videos, they’re on your YouTube channel. Did you know you could optimize those two and oh, by the way, there are occasions when optimized correctly your YouTube video will turn up in Google universal search results. And you know, so you’re not really optimized if you’re only optimizing web pages. So that’s one way we add value – we fill gaps. And the same is true in social media. If you’re focused On Facebook and Twitter, that’s great. A lot of people already have got teams working on that. Did you realize that according to the Pew Research Centers, latest data, more people in the United States, visit YouTube in a given month, then visit Facebook. And if you look at the Alexa data, there are more people going to YouTube than are going to Facebook worldwide. So if YouTube was on your to do list, yeah, I’m gonna get around to that someday guess what it’s particularly as their mobile app has taken off. It is actually now a bigger opportunity than Facebook is so we can help you there.

Steve Wetmore – Can you share with us your publishing history? You’re speaking and teaching credentials. It’s all very impressive. And next your thoughts on the future of SEO in in 2020 and beyond.

Greg Jarboe – Oh, yes. After you invited me to this interview, I had to sit down and think. And I said, you know, there’s going to be 20 other experts that he’s going to interview. What can I come up with that everyone else isn’t going to talk about. One of the more interesting presentations I watched at Pub Con Pro Las Vegas in October 2019 was won by Gary Yells of Google. And one of the key slides that he had in his presentation, it was a keynote presentation, was that the future at Google is moving sideways. And I thought, whoa, okay. When Google starts telling you, they’re moving sideways, does this mean it’s time to, you know, hone your plan B skills because everyone is focused on more of the same from Google moving forward. What happens if Google detours and an interesting new way and shortly after his presentation, we discovered what sideways was, and Google actually gave it a name their big, recent search algorithm changes called Burt BRT, okay, and there are lots of Google changes rolled out over time, but most of them go unnamed. So when Google goes to the internal discipline of saying we’re going to give it a name, it’s worth paying attention to. They also announced that it’s going to change 10% of the search results. And that’s, that’s a significant percentage. Most of the time when they roll out algorithmic changes it might impact 3 – 5%, whatever, 10 percent is a big number. So, it’s worth focusing on figuring out what it does and what it doesn’t do. Because again, 90% of what you’re going to do in 2020 is going to be the same. But what is the 10% That’s going to change. And that’s both a threat and an opportunity. It’s a threat if you do nothing, it’s an opportunity if you figure it out and take advantage of it. Right. And to my best analysis, and again, I could be wrong. But based on what I’ve been able to read and see so far. What Burt does is particularly impact what Google is calling longer, more conversational queries. Now, where does longer more conversational queries happen? increasingly, they happen on smartphones. Increasingly, they happen on smart personal assistance. And what Google is doing, I think, is responding to a competitive threat from Amazon particularly Alexa, where they do not want to see significant share of searches siphoned away from Google. And going to know, Alexa. And you know, we’ll all look back 20 years now and say, You remember that search engine called Google? Or Alexa, who was Google?

Greg Jarboe – So I have been, as you know, I’ve been talking to a lot of people involved in SEO. I’ve been fairly heavily involved in parts of our own SEO work and development and trying to wrap my head around voice search, which is essentially what you’ve been talking about. And I’ve learned, but not confirmed, that to take advantage of voice search on your website, you essentially have to learn how to properly code schema markup. And that certainly is part of the 90% that I would keep doing. In other words, don’t stop doing it.

Greg – Jarboe – Okay. Let me tell you a few sort of nuggets of information that may help you figure out. So, today, or any day, it’s hard to forecast the future. That’s difficult as I think the old cliche goes, predicting the future is hard. So let’s just focus on the here and now because that we can get our arms around. And it turns out that currently, if you look at where the answers come from, to voice searches, 80% of voice searches come from the top three organic results. So whether you’re Google or Alexa or whatever, one of the things that they’re doing is going out and taking a look at what’s in Google search results today and trying to find the answer. Somewhere in those top listings, which is why again, 90% of what you are doing, you ought to continue doing. But what about the other 10%? Well, half of those, strangely enough, are what I’m going to call local. In other words, I’m just looking for, “where’s the restaurant near me”, because I’m in the car.

Greg Jarboe – There are variations on local search. And it’s a wonderful opportunity if you’re a small business because you want to get found on local search. You know, I hope you are well optimized for local search, which generally means you want to have a listing in Google Maps, as well as on your website. And you have a shot at getting found in the other half of the cases. What we are seeing is that when people are using, particularly from Google’s perspective, your smartphone with Android on it, of course. In other words, they have a horse in that race too. What people are doing is when they are doing a voice search, they’re using a lot more words than they would have used if they were sitting down on the keyboard in front of their laptop and typing the quiry. In other words, people might use a three word phrase, if they are typing something into a search box which is about average these days, right? But they’re using an even longer phrase when they’re talking and particularly they’re adding other words they think provides context to help whether it’s Google or Alexa or whoever, to give them a relevant result. And that’s one of the reasons why Google has jumped on that issue. Because again, what bird is going to do is not only focused on longer, more conversational queries, but they’re also looking and putting more weight on prepositions like for and to, which they might have ignored in the past desktop searches, and they’re not ignoring them anymore because they now provide the context that’s necessary to provide a good answer to the query. Now, why is that crucial? Well, today in about 29.5% of voice searches conducted on Amazon Alexa users get an error. They can’t process the question they have to ask you, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand it. Can you ask that again?” for Google Assistant, that error rate is only 6%. And I think what Google has figured out this search method is the new battleground and since we’ve already got the pages pretty well optimized we should be good. But we need to pay more attention to what people are saying into their smartphone or personal assistant, so that we can take advantage of the words we used to ignore. Because very few people did what were called long tail searches and we now know those long tail searches are more important. And oh, by the way, they’re going to differentiate whether you stop using Alexa because it gives you goodbyes as an answer. Or you get frustrated because you’ve got to ask four times before it finally figured out what it is you’re trying to find. And Google is going to focus on giving you the right answer the first time because it’s interpreting little words that they once used to ignore.

Steve Wetmore – So they’re getting this information to answer the voice question from their billions and billions of indexed content.

Greg Jarboe – Yeah, they’ve indexed more content than Amazon or Alexa have. So they’ve got a more robust library of answers. And now what they’re trying to do is process the query so that they’re using the library metaphor, their card catalog will get you into the right bookshelf faster. So, again, they face competition in the past, but frankly, not since the YouTube search algorithm was giving them a run for their money, oh 10 to 15 years ago. And they’re facing it again, but in the voice search era.

Steve Wetmore – Okay, so how would you change the way you’re preparing content today to make it more more Voice Search capable?

Greg Jarboe – Again, 90% of what you’re doing won’t change. You still want high quality content. You still need inbound links from authoritative sources. If you want to use structured data all that is good. Frankly, one of the things that often goes overlooked is Page Speed which has become more important. So yeah, focus on that SEO 101 stuff too. But you should have been focusing on page speed for the last couple of years. That’s not new news. Right? So so the new thing that you have to add on top of that is saying, okay, the target search term that I’ve optimized this page for is a Oh, three word term. Why? Because several years ago, the average search term was three words long and so that seemed like the, the right length for this page is focused on search engine optimization, three word term. And now
that’s not gonna cut it anymore. If somebody is searching for a 4, 5 or 6 word term, and you’ve only optimized for a 3 word term, you may not be the most relevant at the top of the results.

Steve Wetmore – But let’s say that the three word term you’ve been able to rank well for, you don’t want to change that keyword. Do you write a new article using a longer tail keyword?

Greg Jarboe – Oh, sometimes you can solve the problem with new content. Or in other cases, and we’ve done with some of our clients, we go back in and say, Okay, if we, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the concept of Russian nesting dolls? No. Well, in Russia, they have a little doll on the side of a medium sized all his inside of a bigger doll and, you know, you twist them and open them and oh, my gosh, there’s a smaller girl inside of it. Right? Okay. Yeah, it’s in the It’s a Russian nesting doll, do a Google search, you’ll see one. And so we take the same concept, when we quote re optimize the page for longer terms will keep the three word term. And then we will look for either some words to add in front of it, or at the end of it, to turn it into a four or five or six word term. So you may still optimize for search engine optimization, but it’s now search engine optimization agency in Boston.

Steve Wetmore – Okay, I get it, thank you Greg. Let’s move on to discussing what three SEO tools you use.

Greg Jarboe – The first tool I use is Google Trends and it still works. A lot of people already use it. But here’s how I use it differently. I will type in the three word term, like the one we just talked about whatever that three word term is. And then what I do is I scroll all the way to the bottom of Google Trends, where they talk about, people who are searching for this three word term. Here are the top or the rising search terms that are variations on that. And that’s where I can find my four, five and six word term. That is a variation on the three word term. And it is what the extensions, and in most cases, adding words in front or or behind in a couple of cases, it’s also synonyms. And if it’s a synonym, that’s fine, then what I do is add a word like or and, and then throw in the synonym. So again, now my page is relevant for two terms instead of one, but it’s a synonym of the first. So it’s not like the pages are about something different now.

Greg Jarboe – The other tool I use is called People Also Ask, which is a feature of Google Now. And you’ll find the People Also Ask boxes in the middle of search results on a growing percentage of searches, and if you look at those, if you’ve typed in your 3 word search term and you look at what people also ask, you will quickly see the longtail search terms that are relevant and related to the three word term that you just typed in, in your Google search box, right? And then there’s a tool that actually harvests that if you want to use it, that’s called Answer the Public. And what they’ve done is literally scraped, all the people also asked variations and can give them to you in a snapshot and again, you know, I’ll stick with the basics. What’s the three word term I’m trying to get filed for? And then I will look for in some cases they are questions, but not all cases. In some cases, they are just extensions of the core term. And now when I go to optimize a piece of content and sometimes up content as a web page, sometimes that content is oppressively sometimes that content is a video you know, different different different things in different settings. I have a richer understanding of not only what the core term is but what the variations look like.

Steve Wetmore – I want to thank you for that that’s that’s going to be a lot of great info to digest and I think it will be difficult to choose the snippet we will be using so kudos to you. Thank you Greg.