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Interview with Steve Toth SEO at FreshBooks and Freelance SEO Consultant with SEONoteBook.com

Steve Wetmore – Good morning, Steve Toth. Welcome to the InstaVIP podcast. Steve Toth is a self described SEO obsessive consultant with SEO notebook.com. And I’m really looking forward to understanding who you are and what you do.

photo of Steve Toth with SEOnotebook.com
Steve Toth

Steve Toth – Thanks a lot, Steve. I’m happy to be here.

Steve Wetmore – So can you describe a little bit about, you know, who you are and what you do relative to SEO?

Steve Toth – I got started in SEO around 2010. So I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years now. I’m extremely not just passionate, but like you said, a bit obsessed with SEO. It’s really something that is always in the forefront of my mind, because I really feel like if you’re going to be competing with some of the most difficult SERPs you know I’m talking like 90,100 50,000 200,000 searches per month. Those are extremely competitive and you really got to be on the ball. I work with FreshBooks for my day job and do a lot of freelance consulting as well and just starting to get into some affiliate marketing with some partners as well. In my very little spare time beyond that, I manage and run an email list at SEONotebook.com where basically share page from my notes every week with my audience and have grown to around 1500 subscribers within about four months.

Steve Wetmore – Very interesting. I’m going to sign up for that Newsletter right now while we’re talking. Looking at your your website, Steve, I’ve noticed you’ve worked with some fortune 500 / 1000 companies. Could you talk a little bit about some of your work history and credentials? If you’ve done any public speaking, that kind of thing?

Steve Toth – Yeah, for sure. I’ve got a pretty wide breadth of experience. I think that makes me a little bit different from a lot of SEOs. I’ve worked with large companies like Porter Airlines and to to Canada. And then also, more of lead generation type businesses like lawyers and plastic plastic surgeons and plumbers early on in my career. So it gives me a pretty wide range of strategies, both for national SEO and local SEO. At one point, I was a co director for a company that had about 180 accounts at one time. So that’s a of relationships to manage. The client relationship aspect of things comes very naturally to me. Now that I’m just freelancing, working with more medium sized to large sized companies, I have much fewer relationships to manage. And I really enjoy working closely with those types of clients.

Steve Wetmore – So what we’re trying to accomplish here; we’re looking for some real, good meaty information relative to SEO trends going into 2020. And what you see the future looking like what are the hot topics.

Steve Toth – I think that SEO is leaning more towards authority sites winning out. And that translates both into, you know, regular companies and also like people who are working in the affiliate space. Because it’s, you know, I watch a few SERPs. So search engine results pages like very closely over the last like year and a half, two years, especially working with fresh books. And you know, the trends that I’ve noticed are that, you know, sites with a lot of domain authority, domain rating, whatever you want to call it, are winning out and even, you know, they’re not like, even the sites that don’t have like direct backlinks to the pages, more or less like just the backlinks to the overall domain are able to publish content and get that content ranked fairly highly. Google’s really, you know, rewarding and trusting those websites and if we look at that from an affiliate standpoint, You know, I was just in Chiang Mai for the Chiang Mai SEO conference, which is about 800 people congregating in Thailand to talk about SEO. One of the main takeaways from that conference was, instead of creating a niche site about best hair clippers or something like that, like people are really going towards authority sites by making sites about your entire home or raising a family and having that as a two year project to really build up that domain authority and then get into that mode where you’re able to just publish content and have it rank alone without without, you know, necessarily beating to build backlinks directly to the content.

Steve Wetmore – What is a, what is a good domain authority number for affiliate marketing?

Steve Toth – Well, it all depends on the niche that you’re in. If you’re competing in something like finance or casinos and stuff like that you need strong domain authority like 80 for example. But if you’re in a less competitive niche you might get away with a lower DA; it all depends on what the other sites in those search engine results pages are. So if you’re in finance you’re probably going to need to be up in the 80s in the 90s, to really compete. If you’re in something that’s a large niche like lifestyle, or travel you’d have to be like super high. But if you’re in something that’s a little bit less competitive – not so much, it just all depends on what the sites in your SERP’s are going to be relative to you.

Steve Wetmore – So you believe that being able to create authority, get a high domain authority ranking is is really The future of being successful in SEO going forward?

Steve Toth – Yeah, it’s just a product of how much content is published on the web per day. I remember WordPress releasing statistics that blog posts are published to the tune of to 2 million blog posts per day. So that’s just going to be a lot of content competing everything under the sun already written about. So it’s just a matter of the SERPs that you’re competing in, we’re starting to see large companies like CNET and Forbes start to write on things like best vacuums. Going back a few years that was just dominated by smaller affiliate sites. Now, these larger sites are starting to write about it. So that just means they’re creeping in on territory that was once exclusive to niche SEO.

Steve Wetmore – Do you have anything controversial? Talk about any trending problems, anything that you see as an issue?

Steve Toth – Well, I think that there are two classes of SEOs right now. And I don’t mean to sound arrogant about it at all but you have people who don’t base their decisions on testing and science, right? I can go into a little bit more about what that means. And then you have the SEO camp that are, all about SEO best practices. These SEO’s are falling on a lot of common knowledge. The science and testing SEO’s have test sites that they test strategies on, before they actually implement new ideas on their main websites. Testing idea’s like single variable testing, where you have a bunch of dummy pages and you start firing signals at the middle result and then you see whether that goes up or down or you have things like On Page tools that take hundreds of measurements based on your website and the competing websites and that guides you in terms of random or not random changes. They’re just basically testing all the potential factors that could help you rank and then telling you which of those factors correlate highly with search page one results and guiding you in terms of how you structure your content based on those findings.

Steve Wetmore – And what tools do you use to get that info?

Steve Toth – I believe the most comprehensive tool is a tool called Cora SEO Software found at https://seotoollab.com/ . And that tool will measure over 500 potential ranking factors for the keywords first 100 results are and then it will tell you which of those factors correlate highly with page one results. So if something like has a spike on page eight, but nothing on page two, and then sort of Matt on page one, like that’s going to be a factor that you’re not going to want to pay attention to. But if there is a steady trend of very low correlation on page 10, and high correlation on page one, those are likely facts At Google is considering and you know, things that you want to basically bring your own website in line. Now, Cora SEO is very detailed its output is onto a spreadsheet that is just like really insanely large. And it’s kind of unmanageable for a lot of people. So there are a couple other tools that I would recommend if you don’t want to go to that length. And one of them is called Page Optimizer Pro. And the other one’s called Surfer SEO, which do similar things but not quite to the extent of what Cora SEO does.

Steve Wetmore – Steve that’s really interesting because you’re the first person to mention all three of those tools. So, Cora SEO, I’ve talked to 12 different SEOs and all those SEOs are using AHRef’s, Moz and SEMrush, why wouldn’t they be aware of and talking about Cora SEO?

Steve Toth – I think it’s just starting to surface into knowledge of mainstream SEOs. If you are familiar at all with the contest that was run last year for the keyword Rhinoplasty Plano, there was a contest in the Facebook group SEO Signals, which I highly recommend joining. I’m a moderator there. There was a contest between SEO’s to see who could rank for that keyword Rhinoplasty Plano, and the person who won there actually, he didn’t win, but five days after the contest, closed, site surface does the number one result and the interesting thing about that website was that it was almost entirely written in Lorem Ipsum (pseudo-Latin).

Steve Wetmore – I did see that and it was interesting.

Steve Toth – It was amazing and it was perhaps the most significant and interesting experiment done in SEO in my estimation. Kyle Roof who created that website, used Cora SEO and his own tool called Page Optimizer Pro to tweak the settings of that page and eventually got it to rank number one, which just proved that, Google cannot read and Google is looking for cues. And it proved, it’s just math at the end of the day.

Steve Toth – I saw Kyle speaking in Chiang Mai and I do talk to him every now and then he gave me a nice testimonial on my newsletter. He got the site de-indexed as a pure spam penalty in Google Search Console. And then Google went so far as to contact GoDaddy who had registered all his test domains, and got those de-indexed as well. So Google was obviously not happy about the egg on their face after that contest. And I think, to be Google in 2018, and have that happen is quite an embarrassing thing.

Steve Wetmore – Do you have any anything else any any other snippets of info you want to leave us with?

Steve Toth – You mentioned snippets and featured snippets, something that I’ve been writing a lot about lately on SEO notebook. Obviously, those are the position zero results that I really eat up a lot of the clicks on the SERP’s. And we know it’s extremely valuable for people to gain those featured snippets. So I came up with a technique that I created based on a Chrome extension called SEO Ruler, by my friend Pablo and what one of the functionalities of that extension is that it will take the first set your results to 100, and you Google the keyword that you want to get that featured snippet for it will basically export all of the keywords that are bolded in that search result. So bolded keywords are basically the synonyms and the relevant words that Google believes are indicative of what the searcher is actually typing in with the query. To clarify, the golden words are the synonyms that relate to the query that was being searched. And this SEO Ruler, Chrome extension allows you to export all of those old keywords. And if you use those bolded keywords in your featured snippet on your page, you have a much higher chance of gaining that featured snippet. So that’s something that I talked about on SEO notebook, and a strategy that I think could help a lot of people.

Steve Wetmore – Can you explain the functionality in more detail?

Steve Toth – Sure, if you google the keyword, Google is going to highlight the different synonyms in the meta descriptions of the results. Basically, Google is trying to say, look how relevant our search results are to your query. They’re not exactly the words that were searched for. The keywords searched for are going to be highlighted or bolded, and there will be other useful words that are also going to be bolded. So the more that you’re able to use those synonyms or additional keywords that you’re targeting, the higher your chances of gaining that featured snippet are going to be.

Steve Wetmore – Very useful information Steve Toth – Thank you!

Steve Toth – No problem. And I do really recommend people downloading SEO Ruler if you just search for SEO Ruler, Chrome extension. It does a whole bunch of cool things. cool things.