SEO Help Videos Interview
Last April I interviewed SEO Expert Emmanuel Betinis about how to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) your web properties for long term vs. short term benefit. The last week or so there has been a lot of brouhaha about the New York Times article about how JC Penney (or the SEO company they were using) was gaming Google with black hat SEO.
The JC Penney SEO fallout reminded me of the interview I did with Emmanuel Betinis in 2010 and how adamant he was on legit SEO practices. He even mentioned there were sites/companies out there who game Google for great SEO results but those are short-lived and not worth pursuing.
I listened to the interview again and I was blown away once again with Emmanuel Betini’s SEO knowledge so I decided to re-post it but this time I decided to jump on over to oDesk so I could have the audio interview transcribed to text so you get that to boot below.
If you want learn how to SEO the right way, I highly recommend Emmanuel’s SEO Help Videos. They’re fantastic and full of great information.
Anyway, here is the interview with SEO expert Emmanuel Betinis:
Here is the full transcript:
Alan: Hi there, everybody. This is Alan Petersen with IMNirvana.com. And on other line, I have Emmanuel Betinis with SEO Help Videos. Emmanuel is an SEO expert, so I’m really excited to have him on the line. We’re going to talk a little bit about SEO today, get our websites ranking well on the search engines. So, Emmanuel, how are you doing?
Emmanuel: Alan, I’m doing great. I’m excited to talk about search engine optimization with you.
Alan: Great. Glad to have you on. And thank you very much for taking time to join us here. Before we even get into the details, let’s just get to the nitty-gritty. So, what exactly is SEO in plain English?
Emmanuel: Alright. Well, SEO, it stands for search engine optimization. And what it is in plain English is telling Google what your web page is about by making certain changes to it. That’s really all it is. People do tend to over-complicate it, and it’s a really long word—search engine optimization. It’s like some big algorithmic, confusing technological subject, but it’s really, in plain English, Alan, it’s simply telling the search engines what your web page is about.
Alan: That’s a great way of explaining because, yeah, I always seem to overcomplicate things as well, and it sounds so complicated.
Emmanuel: Yeah. It does, yeah.
Alan: So, tell us a little bit about your background, like how did you get started working with SEO, and just a little bit about yourself.
Emmanuel: Okay. Well, I’ve always been fascinated with computers and the Internet since I opened up my first ClickBank account as an affiliate in 1999. I was a sophomore in high school at the time, and I was running a few different websites at the time. And I didn’t know SEO even existed. I didn’t know what search engine optimization was. I probably never even heard of it. But I was running a few different websites, and some of them, I noticed, I was getting a lot of traffic to some of the pages. And after screwing around with some page layouts and the content on the page, I noticed that the amount of traffic that I would get to those pages would change when I would make certain changes to those pages. And what really was going on here was the search engines were changing my ranking with each change to my page I would make.
Alan: Okay. Mm-hmm.
Emmanuel: It got to the point where I was dominating some pretty big keywords by simply putting in the keyword just over and over and over again at the bottom of the page, which now, of course, we call that “keyword stuffing,” and it just completely doesn’t work anymore. But that’s really what was going on back then. And it was almost as if whoever had the most keywords repetitively copied and pasted at the bottom of their page was the one that would rank the highest. And of course, that’s also changed since then quite a bit.
Alan: It was a little easier back in those days, huh?
Emmanuel: Absolutely. And I guess it was still considered search engine optimization then. But I’m talking about the changes I was making on my web pages. I was “optimizing” my pages for the search engines, particularly Yahoo! back then. Now, of course, Google’s the big one.
Emmanuel: That’s, I guess, how it all started back then. That’s when I really got fascinated with it. And it’s just been a fun learning experience ever since.
Alan: Yeah. So, for the listeners now, how can they actually benefit then from SEO?
Emmanuel: Okay. Well, quite simply, how you guys out there listening to this call right now can benefit from SEO is more traffic to your website.
Alan: That’s the goal. That’s the main part of the battle.
Emmanuel: That’s it. More traffic can usually equal more sales if your sales are set up right. Yeah, really, that’s the key benefit. Search engine optimization, more traffic. And you know what I should also add to that sentence, Alan, is more targeted traffic. Search engine traffic, also known as organic or natural traffic, has been known to be some of the best types of traffic to get to your web pages. Now, there’s many different kinds of traffic that you can get to your site. And one of those kinds of traffic is organic traffic. And that’s traffic from the search engines. So, when you type something into Google, “soft cat food,” you’re going to be getting all these results on the left side of the page, all the way 1 through 10. Those are the natural search results. So, basically, that’s the best traffic to get, really, if you ask many Internet marketers.
Alan: That’s really different from the other ads that are appearing on there because SEO is basically free traffic, right? Because you’re not paying for PPC, pay-per-click, or anything like that?
Emmanuel: Yeah, exactly.
Alan: Yes. We all like free, so that’s a good thing.
Emmanuel: Exactly. Mm-hmm. Yeah, those guys on the right-hand side, those columns there, I’m sure all of our listeners have seen those. They’ll say “sponsored links” or something. Those guys are paying to be in those positions. But the guys over on the left side, in the spots 1 through 10, they’re not paying any money to be just sitting there and being listed and being clicked on all day. The traffic’s just flooding into their sites without them paying anything. So, yeah, it’s a really exciting thing to see your site listed in that spot, especially on the front page.
Alan: Oh, yeah. Definitely, yeah. And that’s what we’ll be getting into here in a little bit, hopefully providing us some tips on how to accomplish that like you have.
Alan: I mostly hear, when it comes to ranking well or to ranking on the search engines, it seems that Google gets all the attention. I understand that because they’re the big ones, but what about like Yahoo, Bing, and I don’t know if there are other ones that you prefer.
Alan: SEO applies to all search engines, right, not just Google?
Emmanuel: Exactly. SEO applies to all search engines. Of course, Google is the big one. I don’t have any 2010 data, Alan, but I know just in the past year or two, Google did have approximately 70 percent of the market share. So, that’s pretty substantial. In other words, out of Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines, 70 percent of everybody that wants to find something online goes to Google. And then Yahoo! comes in second. They were at around 20 percent about a year or so ago. And then MSN, which is now known as Bing, was harboring around 6 percent. And absolutely, if you want as much traffic as possible to your website, then you would also want to make sure that your ranking well in the other search engines, too, because that’s just traffic that you would be losing if it was only coming from Google. So, yes, Google is the big one. And also, Alan, yeah, search engine optimization does apply to the other search engines as well because the basic foundation is still there, and the basic foundation for search engine optimization still applies to all the search engines in that they want to give you back relevant results, you know, what you’re looking for.
Alan: So, the principles are the same? Is it easier to rank on Google versus Yahoo? Or is it the same concept?
Emmanuel: I can tell you, Alan, from my experience what I’ve noticed. And what I’ve noticed is Google is easy to rank on, but it takes a little longer than Yahoo! and Bing.
Emmanuel: And that’s in my experience. Typically, when I’m using my rank track software… I use this software called Rank Tracker, by the way, to keep track of all my rankings across the three major search engines. I always tend to notice that my Bing results pop up first, and they usually pierce the first top 100 results, followed by Yahoo, and then usually, Bing follows shortly after. I’m not really sure exactly why that is, honestly, Alan, but that’s just how it tends to go, I guess. And one other thing I’ve noticed is, on Bing, it seems to be easier to rank on Bing for on-page factors. And I know I might be skipping ahead a little bit right now, but basically, it’s the things that you do on your website. What’s in your title of your webpage, and what are the keywords on your web page.
Alan: Oh, okay.
Emmanuel: And Google still takes into consideration the information that’s on your page, of course, which are the on-page factors. But it seems to me that Google factors in how many links you have pointing back to your website the most out of all the search engines. A little fun fact, a little history tidbit. Google used to be called BackRub. That was what they were first called. And basically, the name came from… The primary way Google would rank websites was based on how many web pages were linking back to it, how many links your page has. And if you’re page has a lot of links, then Google’s going to rank you higher than pages that don’t have a lot of links. So, I guess that would be a few of the main differences between the search engines that I’ve noticed in my experience. Does that make sense?
Alan: Yeah. It does, yeah. That’s very interesting, too. It’s interesting that they were called BackRub, kind of the like the whole you-rub-my-back-I’ll-rub-yours kind of a concept.
Emmanuel: Exactly. You got it, man. Yeah.
Alan: And so now, when it comes to tech skills, what kind of tech skills are needed to be able to rank your websites well on Google, for example?
Emmanuel: Yeah. Well, that’s a good question. A few years back, I would have said you do need to know some tech skills. You need to know some HTML in order to make certain changes to your web page. And that was before the Web 2.0 world, though. Now, Alan, as you know, in the Web 2.0 world, we have blogs now.
Emmanuel: And it’s so easy for somebody to get started with a website and set up without really having barely any knowledge of HTML nerdy code at all. You can get a blog and… What’s that one plug-in you use now, the SEO All in One Pack?
Alan: Oh, yes. Mm-hmm. It’s a great plug-in.
Emmanuel: It’s a free plug-in, right?
Emmanuel: Anybody can get it. And basically, it will automatically do some key things just to get you started, just to keep all your ducks in a row right from the get-go when you create a web page. The old HTML way, you could still do it that way, and I actually still do it that way. It doesn’t bother me. But with Web 2.0 blogs now, you really don’t need much skill with HTML, since a lot of it is WYSIWYG-based now. And that WYSIWIG is, of course an acronym, for some people that don’t know, “what you see is what you get.”
Alan: Yeah, that is a good point. There really is no excuse nowadays, even if you don’t know any HTML, or you’re brand-new to this, like you said, even like using WordPress. And then it’s just basically like using… If you know how to use Microsoft Office Word or whatever, it’s kind of the same principles. You’re just typing in there, and it does its magic in the background.
Emmanuel: Exactly, yeah. If you want to bold the word or something, it’s just like being in a Word processor. You highlight the word, and you click the little bold “B” button.
Alan: Yeah, that’s great. That’s a great way of putting it. So, now, when it comes to SEO, in your opinion, what are the most common mistakes that people can make on their website?
Emmanuel: Not providing enough information of value and quality. I would say that’s number one. It really starts there. And I know it sounds like a stupid, simple thing, like, “Well, yeah, man. Of course I’m going to provide good information.” But you’d be surprised at the junk you see online. And Google is getting really good at providing really good relevant results now. But every now and then, and I’m sure some listeners will agree, too, that sometimes you go to a search engine, and every now and then, you’ll get a result that is kind of still crappy. Overall, they’re doing really about it, but provide good information that’s of value and quality, and guess what’s going to happen. People are going to want to link to it naturally. And that will bring you up on the search engines. So, I would say that’s one simple, easy, free way to start before you even think about the word “search engine optimization”—or words, that’s three words, I guess—is to make sure you have good quality content. And if you want me to get down to some nerdy details about search engine optimization, I would say number two would be the title of your web page. Make sure the title is relevant to the content on your web page. And this is a really simple thing to do. It takes four, five seconds to do, but it can literally make a difference of hundreds of positions in Google. So, that would be another common mistake people make on their website when it comes to search engine optimization.
Alan: And so, that is the title that actually appears on the search engine, right? Like when you’re on Google, and you search key something, and the sites come out, that’s what you actually read that’s underlined, right?
Emmanuel: Exactly. Thank you for clarifying that, Alan. When you type into Google and you hit search, you see all these results, 1 through 10, on the left side, and they’re blue links, right?
Emmanuel: Those are the titles of the web pages. Exactly. So, you want to make sure that title is very relevant and on-topic to what the page is about. One thing that I see that makes me laugh and feel really bad for the person at the same time is they say “Welcome to my web page” as their title. And they mean well, and… I’ve even e-mailed a couple of people before and said… Just to help them out, you know, because it could make such a big difference to how much traffic they get to their website by changing their title because, like I said earlier, Google wants to make sure they give you what you’re looking for. And the title is a really big important part. That’s another thing that you should make sure you do.
Alan: Oh, yeah, the actual title part. Yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah.
Alan: Yeah, I really like what you said earlier, too, about… It kind of caught me off-guard, but you’re so right about even before you start worrying about SEO, it’s to make sure that you’re actually creating quality websites for people and providing quality content.
Alan: Isn’t that something that Google says? Create your websites for people, not for search engines, and then…
Alan: And then all the love will come.
Emmanuel: Yeah. Then everything is so much easier after that. It makes your job so much easier. You have something to work with. It all starts with good content. Then you can do all the nerdy SEO stuff to it. Make sure your stuff’s good first.
Alan: Yeah. And even if you do see sites out there like what we were talking about before that are crappy, that’s not going to be long-term. They’re not going to stay there for very long.
Alan: Google will find you and will kick you out.
Emmanuel: Yeah. And rightfully so, though, right?
Alan: Yeah, exactly.
Emmanuel: Because let’s go on the other side of it. Let’s be the user trying to search for information. When you go on to Google, and you type something in, you want to get back relevant results. You don’t want to get off-topic, crappy stuff. So, yeah, definitely.
Alan: Yeah. So, a question that I was thinking about was when do you actually start working on the SEO? So, you should really start thinking about SEO well before you even start working on your website, do you think?
Emmanuel: I would say before, during and after. Absolutely.
Alan: Yeah, so, the whole time. So, you should have a little plan going before you even get into the techie stuff.
Emmanuel: Yes, absolutely, Alan.
Alan: Now, this is something that I was going to ask you. Because I get a lot of e-mails per week from people that are the so-called SEO experts, and they’re promising to get me on the first page of Google with my keywords and blah, blah, blah. That’s a red flag, isn’t it? I should run away?
Emmanuel: Well, that’s a good question. I’m going to preface this with a little something here, okay?
Emmanuel: Google looks at a couple of hundred things about your web page. And it uses those couple of hundred factors when taking into consideration where they list you in their search engine result page. Well, this is known as where you rank, right? So, if you rank number one, you’re on the number-one position. If you rank number ten, you’re at the bottom of the first page, and so forth, okay? So, the only people that know every single one of those couple of hundred factors are the ones behind the sealed vault doors of the Googleplex. So, no one really knows exactly all the factors Google takes into consideration when making a web page. Think about it, if that was public information, the results searchers would get back in Google would just be a complete mess, and people would be abusing all those factors. So, what we as search engine optimizers do know, however, are some of the time-tested, proven, fundamental factors that Google does indeed factor into its ranking algorithm. Now, I’m not going to list all the factors here on the call now today. Otherwise, we’d be here for five hours. But by following these fundamental basics of search engine optimization, we can dramatically increase our chances of a good search engine ranking. Now, I said all that to say this. To answer your question of if someone promises you a front-page Google ranking from their SEO services or guarantees you, you know, I would be weary of that, yes. And I would look at that as a red flag, Alan, because again, like I said before, no one really knows exactly what’s going on behind Google. So, if someone guarantees you a number-one position for X amount of dollars, I would definitely be weary of that.
Alan: Okay. Yeah, great. And now, what about even if you’re doing your own SEO, is it something that you might be able to outsource parts of it or some of it?
Emmanuel: Oh, absolutely. I didn’t start out that way, but I currently outsource as much as I can now when it comes to SEO.
Emmanuel: Yeah. So, you can do it yourself. If you’re on a budget, and you’re just starting out, and you don’t have the budget to hire somebody to do this, yeah, absolutely, you can do it on your own. But my time is best spent with other things now, so you can outsource it as well, yeah.
Alan: When we’re talking about outsourcing, you’re kind of talking about a virtual assistant or someone like that. We’re not talking about a high-priced SEO-type expert, but just somebody to do the data entry, like the elbow-grease type of stuff, right?
Emmanuel: Ooh, good point. Good point, yeah. Don’t go spend $2,000 a month for a “SEO company.”
Alan: Yes, that’s why I was… I wanted to make the difference between those two.
Emmanuel: Good one there. Thank you. Yeah, you can get a virtual assistant for a very good rate to do this for you, not a big SEO team or company. And just for clarification, Alan, I don’t mean to come off like I’m bashing SEO companies and saying they’re scams and they’re all frauds. But I’m saying you can get by with doing the things you really need to do for a lot less, in my opinion, definitely. And that can be done with a virtual assistant like you were saying. Absolutely.
Alan: Yeah, I agree with that as well. They might do a great job. Especially if you’re starting out, you don’t need a…
Emmanuel: Yeah, definitely.
Alan: The reason I called you, and I’m so glad that you agreed to do this interview, is because I’ve actually learned a lot from your SEO Help Videos.
Alan: And so, for the callers who don’t know what that is, could you tell us a little bit about that, how that came about and what SEO Help Videos is all about?
Emmanuel: Yeah, absolutely. When I first realized that I needed to figure out a way to get traffic to my website without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on advertising, it wasn’t an easy route of learning how to go about doing that. I spent months hunched over my computer screen, browsing forums and sifting through search engine results. Then, just when I thought I had it all figure out, I read information that contradicted all the stuff I had learned before. It took me a long time to get through those barriers and actually get enough confidence in what I was doing to start taking the first steps I needed to take in order to start bringing in free traffic from the search engines into my website. So, when I finally “got it,” I think it was when I hit number one for a pretty competitive keyword phrase that I had been going for. And I remember dancing around my room, cheering like a silly little schoolgirl seeing my website on the number-one spot. For this heavy keyword phrase, it was a pretty cool feeling. And since then, I’ve learned a certain way of going about things to get a good quality, targeted, free traffic stream to my websites. And it just inspired me to put together the SEO Help Videos course that I’ve just recently finished creating for my fellow online Internet marketing friends, experts and newbies alike. And the SEO Help Videos, for folks that want do-it-yourself SEO, they certainly can be used for that. They work very well for that, actually. The initial reason I put them together was that in mind. They’re designed to be for the person that wants easy-to-watch instructional videos, taking you from the basics to more advanced material throughout the course. You can literally watch over my shoulder, on my computer screen with these videos.
Alan: That’s what I really liked about it, too. You’re actually showing us how you’re optimizing, and both on-page, off-page. You’re covering the whole enchilada on there in a fun and entertaining way as well. That also helps.
Emmanuel: Cool. Alright. That’s good to hear. Yeah, I actually started doing SEO on my own for years. And I just recently started to outsource to free up my time, since I’m now busy with several websites. Now, at the same time, though, these videos do work well for somebody that has an outsourced worker. So, you can simply hand off the videos to them and say, “Watch, learn and do.”
Alan: Oh, that’s a great idea. Yeah.
Emmanuel: So, it works either way. You can do it on your won or outsource.
Alan: And for the callers, if can go to imnirvana.com/seovideos, I have some information on there on how you can get those videos. But I highly recommend them. And I’ve got a lot of SEO stuff, and a lot of it was kind of complicated and over my head, so you really put in a nice, plain-English type of a way that made it easy to digest. Because, like I said, people do tend to over-complicate things. And so, that was what was nice about SEO Videos. You kind of bring it back down for mere mortals to be able to take a stab at it.
Emmanuel: Well, great. Thanks for the words, Alan. That’s good to hear.
Alan: We need to wrap up here.
Alan: Any final SEO tips that you could have for our listeners?
Emmanuel: I would just say focus on creating good quality content that the users of the Internet are looking for. That’s definitely where you want to start. It’s not the entire piece of the pie you need to have in place for yourself for some really good search engine rankings, but it’s definitely a foundational piece that you must have in place before going any further. And I see this time and time again online where people just don’t get this part right. I know it sounds silly, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t doing this. Think about it this way. If you were looking for information on how to bake a cake, and you typed in “how to bake a birthday cake” into Google, and the results on the front page said, “how tie a shoe,” “how to get rid of warts,” “how to ride a bicycle,” and “Grandma Fannie’s homemade hemorrhoid cream recipe” or something, I don’t know. I mean, you’d be pretty upset at those results, right?
Emmanuel: So, it’s the search engine’s job, I should say, it’s their mission to give the user what they’re looking for, plain and simple. And if you don’t have good quality content that really is catering to the needs of the person searching for your stuff, you’ll drop the ball right then and there before the game even starts. So, I would say my number-one tip would be, Alan, for our listeners here today, would be to ask yourself this question before creating any kind of content online, and that would be: Am I providing the Internet with informative quality content that I would be happy to find if I was searching for it myself? It really starts there. Now, you do need to do some other certain things to your website in order to ensure your ranking as high as you possibly can, which is beyond the scope of this call, since we’d be here for five hours. But it all really begins with making sure you have good quality content.
Alan: Great. That’s great advice, Emmanuel. And I want to thank you very much for taking time out of your day to talk to us about SEO. It’s been very informative, and I’m sure that listeners are really going to like the information you’ve provided here. And I know they’re going to love your videos. So, thank you very much for taking time for this interview.
Emmanuel: Absolutely, Alan. Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure talking.
Alan: Oh, thanks. Bye now.