Highlights

Personal Branding in SEO

Importance of Personal Branding

SEO Industry Changes and Challenges

AI and SEO

Tips for Small and Medium Enterprises

Common SEO Mistakes

The Future of SEO

Final Thoughts and Personal Insights

Transcript

 Chris Barnard: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of bear business with me, Chris Barnard, from feedback fans.com. Today, my guest is Kev Wiles. A very respected and seasoned SEO professional. And Kev, I talk about the state of SEO in 2024. We talk about some of the common pitfalls that you’ll want to avoid as part of your SEO strategy and we’ll take a look at what the future may hold for SEO with AI and the impact of chat GPT and other large language models on SEO.

Kev Wiles, thank you very much for joining me on Bear Business. It’s a pleasure to have you here. It’s very rare that I get to speak to someone who’s been in SEO longer than I. And that makes me nervous and happy at both the same time. How are you doing, sir?

Kev Wiles: Yeah, all good. Thanks. Thanks. Firstly, for having me on. It’s good to be here and finally talk about SEO again.

 Chris Barnard: Talking about SEO. It’s a hot topic. It’s a topic that, uh, I must get more queries from clients about than any other. and something that’s very popular at the moment is personal branding in SEO. So how you are ranking yourself, your name, uh, how you are ranking yourself compared to things you might do.

So for example, Uh, I am also a musician. I also have a podcast. I run a marketing tech business. Uh, but we understand that, the history of Kev Wiles is a bit different. You are an SEO consultant. You used to be Kevin Wiles Would you like to start with why you are the artist previously known as Kevin Wiles?

Kev Wiles: Yeah, for sure. So, um, it’s actually started from even before I probably, I guess, new SEO was a thing. Um, and then has been, uh, as Google has advanced and sort of changed the way they work on things. And, you know, now, if you Google like a famous actor, you get sort of like the knowledge panel to say, Hey, Brad Pitt is an actor, etcetera, etcetera.

He’s been in these films. Um, so for a period of time, there was unfortunately, Um, someone in the U. S. Which I won’t name, but, um, was an actor, and, uh, he used my full name and his stage name, which is hard. Anyway, I’m not sure how he came up that name. And, uh, he was in in gay porn, which was totally fine until more recently, probably over the last 18 months, where Google has started giving knowledge panels to people that are like actors and those sort of disciplines.

And what that has resulted in is when you, uh, Google Kevin Wiles, you now get. Uh, Kevin, while I was in a knowledge panel, which is great, but it says Kevin Wells, porn star, not so great. And that, um, was like sort of intensified when, um, I started to try and like, you know, work against some us brands just because, uh, uh, that’s where I wanted to focus for a little period of time, obviously he was from the U S um, so there was more content about him in the U S than there was about myself, like I’m BD programs and stuff.

So I’ve had to essentially try and now diversify and change my name. And that’s more so that while you can do things to improve the knowledge panel through like link building, it’s actually really, really tough to change that things. Um, so I’ve had to undergo the hopeful transition, I guess, of, uh, Kev rather than Kevin, but the flip side of that is I always feel when someone uses my full formal name of like Kevin, I always feel like I’m like somewhere someone is yelling my name home alone type scenario.

I’m in trouble. Um, but yeah, long story short. Um, if you Google my name, it says porn star, which is not ideal.

Chris Barnard: I have the same thing. So as a Chris, I am a Chris of a Christopher and I think the only person who’s ever called me Christopher is me mother. And it was a classic of you’re in trouble. So it is actually quite easy to start shortening my son. My son’s called Tyler and it was very keen for me.

Something I was very aware of was making sure he had a good short name. Kevin’s Kev’s quite simple, Christopher to Chris, Tyler to Ty. So I think that’s going to be helpful. And of course, with him being called Tyler, Tyler, I think it’s a name that’s coming back round as a cycle becoming popular again, I think as an SEO, things come into your brain that wouldn’t come into normal, happy day to day people, you know? So when I was naming my son, I thought it’s actually important from a personal branding perspective for him to have quite a unique name.

Kev Wiles: Yeah.

Chris Barnard: probably a terrible thing to admit, isn’t it? I’ll show him this on a birthday when he’s old enough to know. But, but this is, this is the world we live in right now. The digitalized world, uh, will he be able to get a handle with his name or, you know, his name without it being too popular? the, the personal branding aspect, and this must be something you have your own website as an SEO consultant. It’s become very popular to try and, uh, create a personal brand for yourself with that short form videos, podcasts. Do you want to just talk to us about your journey, sort of promoting yourself as, as Kev Wiles the SEO and. How important personal brand is to you and how much you think about it on a day to day basis.

Kev Wiles: Yeah. I mean, until probably I left Halfords and when I essentially freelance, I never really thought about, Oh, I need to have a brand. I need to have like consistency between like fonts, colors, logos, coloring, how I talk and. But all that sort of stuff online, it was very much just like, I saw a conversation I want to be involved in on Twitter.

I went and did that, even if it was good, bad or indifferent. It’s only, I guess, post leaving to Halfords and going freelance. You start to realize like, Hey, you know, first you need to decide what types of clients you need and want. And I think once I’ve done that, I realized those people probably. We’re going to go do some due diligence and therefore needed to see where I was appearing, needed to see what I’d done, where I’d been up to.

Um, and then suddenly you do have to go, ah, as much as I hate, you know, SEO, Twitter, and I hate Facebook and those sort of things, and would rather be off, you know, all social platforms, you realize in it, Digital age for someone who works in digital kind of have to at least have them owned, you know, so you, you own them with the right, the right branding and sort of like the narrative.

Um, but it becomes hugely important. I think it’s why probably over the last 18 months, I’ve tried to make more of an effort to appear on podcasts and go and do talks to people. Whereas before I was very much one of these people, it’s like, I kind of just want to be in the background doing the work and keep my head down, but you quickly realize that like.

You do need, I guess, that word of mouth and that’s all like exposure a little bit. Um, I was talking to, uh, sort of like a business coach or consultant that I speak to regularly the other day, and he was saying, I need to start like doing stuff on TikTok because like, it’s, you know, it’s where the market is going.

Right. And for me, the thought of recording video content of myself talking about things is not something I would enjoy doing unless I had a few rums inside me. And that’s purely because like, I think as well, SEO, there is a million ways you can solve the same problem in SEO, but inherently, like, in doing that, everyone will always have an opinion or view of like, hey, your way is the wrong way, you should have done it this way, and that’s not the right way, you should have done it this way.

And I don’t really like the idea of being like, At the center of that negativity. And I think some of that comes from like when I was at Halford, you know, big business, um, I wouldn’t say it moved slow, but SEO was something that was in a queue with lots of other dev tasks across the business, not just SEO.

And I think I only had to log on Twitter like once a week to see someone somewhere gang, the SEO at Halfords needs to be sacked. This is wrong. This is wrong. And you’re like, yeah, but what you don’t understand is the stuff. Behind like the context of why it’s not being fixed. And, you know, as an SEO, I was well aware there were lots of issues, but that over time starts to create this, like, you know, imposter syndrome type feeling.

And it’s like, well, I’m not sure I want to go and do that stuff again and create that public, but you do just have to like, sometimes just get on with it. Right. And realize that, you know, you’re never going to be friends with anyone. And it’s the same in real life, but it’s sometimes there’s a challenge. And like I said, doing the full of doing TikToks and stuff. It’s like, no, thanks.

Chris Barnard: so many great points here. Right. First one we’ll pull you up on next. We like that. That is a good business coach. We like that business coach. Uh, it is the way it’s going. Uh, I have been talking to clients this year about the new marketing era, right? And this new marketing era is. Here we are today on this video, vodcast, podcast. Why would you do it? Well, if you work in marketing, you say, right, I need short form video content these days. I need long form video content these days. I need audio content these days because people want the authenticity, um, the spoken word, I have been promoting it in businesses for five, seven years as a great way to become part of someone’s routine, part of their day to day. literally there is no better way. I don’t think, uh, in the modern marketing spectrum that you are going to be able to get into people’s lives, uh, through anything but the short form video. TikTok’s been massive for a lot of clients. Um, I am a convert to podcast this year, and which is part of the reason why I brought this podcast back and also why I’ve been more interested in the, uh, Podcast ecosystem, because when I go on my walks and it’s become very popular again, post COVID, uh, during COVID as well, right. To go on these walks every day, uh, for your health, for your mental health. I have two hours every day where I listen to a podcast and I absolutely love it. Like I would never go back now. I listen to finance podcasts from my time working with finance clients. I listen to Marketing podcasts, I listen to AI podcasts. anything, I will chase people up with clips of us, uh, because that is how you promote a podcast these days.

In my view, I don’t see a lot of people doing it, but I believe this is the way to do it, right? You, you get the. The juicy bits. We did this with the emotion brands podcast, put them out there. People go, actually, there’s probably some good points. I’ll make a note to list to this podcast, watch this podcast. Uh, and then of course people can watch it on their TVs these days or while they’re out walking or whatever else multitasking. Uh, so I think that follow up on that

I that will be a big encourager of that hopefully for that. The SEO Community, so glad you brought it up. Uh, it was probably although SEO is such a smaller part of my day job as independent business consultant, as a marketing technology business owner, I still identify as an SEO. My Twitter is still full of SEOs. No doubt how I found you over time, knew you over time when you said you were open to do this. I was like, amazing. Let’s have Kev, uh, hoping we get Carl Hendy in at some point as well. But my, much my marketing upbringing as a millennial was through the Rand Fishkin SEO whiteboards.

I think a lot of people have come through that sort of background, but because there was never a. An official route. I think that is part of the cause of, what you’re saying in terms of. Everybody has different ways of doing SEO. And I’ve always thought that was a great benefit and a great strength of SEO, but it also causes the moments where there’s, um, people falling out.

SEO Twitter is a particular, if you’re not aware of SEO Twitter, many of you listeners who are not partial to these SEO communities won’t be aware, but it’s an incredibly, um. Disperse, um, lots of different ideas. There’s a lot of great things that come out of the SEO community, but there’s a lot of infighting and frustrations that happen as well, isn’t there?

It’s, uh, I think it puts a lot of people off. Um, and I think actually me being more distant from that community, I was, I was not as brave as you, I would just let them get on with it. Uh, I loved sitting in the background. I would try and weigh up both sides and sort of say, right, well, I’m going to test this.

We’ll test that. Um, whether that was back in the day when we used to buy some links for certain businesses or whether that is more since it’s gone content or gone inbound, that’s been very interesting, sort of the change in SEO. So I just wondered what you thought was the, how you would describe the state of SEO as you see it in 2024, because it’s been disrupted again by the amount of artificial intelligence, AI, uh, large learning models, such as chat GPT in recent years.

Kev Wiles: I guess, um, it’s a really good question. I think the state of SEO as a whole. If we flip that slightly and look at like, not the people doing SEO per se, but the actual like the output of what SEOs do, right, which is make websites appear on Google better, I think isn’t great. I think Google has tried to test and refine too much too quick.

And what’s resulted in that is like, uh, older SEO tactics are now still being really fruitful, whereas like last year they potentially weren’t as fruitful. And I think that as a knock on effect for straights, a lot of SEOs that are like, you know, I play by the book, I read all the guidelines. I stay within the parameters of what Google is outlining.

We should do. I do this and this, I think that is when then some of the frustration comes off where you sort of get the classic, like. The SEOs that are making money for themselves and run their own companies and by that I mean like their own brands and the SEOs that are doing SEO for other brands.

Where that conflict starts to happen because we as SEOs are essentially feeding into Google to populate those results. And if we’re not doing a good job, Google’s getting bad narrative or whatever from us. But I think it does, the fact that Google right now is a bit of a mess in terms of some of the results and stuff you get and you know, how you see some of the sites being like awful from a UX perspective, which Google says they shouldn’t be, doesn’t help.

Chris Barnard: agree with that, Kev? Because people are saying that is a, that is a narrative at the moment that the results have got worse, right? Why is Quora, uh, coming up? Why is Reddit coming up and on some, uh, your money or your life terms, right? Some important terms that, uh, you’re getting user generated content results, which is kind of, of course we’re here, there’s been so much of that. Pumped out. Of course. We’re here. Would you agree with that? Is Google got a lot worse? A little bit worse. What would you say?

Kev Wiles: I would say, uh, a lot worse for some queries, slightly better for others. Um, I see like local stuff specifically, I see in some instances has been better, you know, they’re better with the map pack and actually getting the results as quick as possible to the user. But then in others, it’s just a mess. You know, like you’ll ask a specific question, you’ll get, you I read it in Quora type, type answer, which isn’t related, is in a different, completely different country.

Like, it’s from six years ago, so it’s no, not relevant because like, I know it’s, let’s say it’s about taxes, the legislation and all the benefits available of change and stuff. You know, I think those are things that they will have to iron out over time. Um, but in doing so, right, like it causes friction because at that point, you’re like, Hey, you know what?

You’re asking us to do this stuff within these parameters, but then you’re not following those guidelines yourself. Like, how can that work? I think that’s where like people start to butt heads and stuff, but I don’t, I still, the core principles I still stand by that, like SEO is still tech content and links, right?

Obviously, like I said earlier, it’s like the really macro level things and what’s changed and what’s moved on. But. We as SEOs break everything and then moan when we break it, right? If I look back years ago where, you know, uh, guest blogging and directory links, it was like it’s the best thing ever. And then everyone moaned when it broke.

And then those people that moaned when it broke or Google caught onto it were like the people that were taking advantage and doing it too aggressively and cutting corners and doing things a bit shady. And it’s like, We’re in some regard with the makers of our own misery, right? Chat GPT came out and then every SEO probably out there went great.

I can solve all my content problems. Here’s 20, 000 words overnight jobs are good and detailed prompts. And you know, we’ve done keyword research that’s looked at this and et cetera, et cetera. Why? Like, yeah, I get it for research perspective, but like, you know, we’ve. There’s no, I think the hardest part is there’s no barrier to entry to SEO, right?

Like anyone essentially, like you could start a design, a dev design agency, be the best developer and designer, and then bolt on SEO and do that yourself. Because. The learning level is so low, uh, and there’s no, obviously, like, degree, et cetera, in SEO. Um, so, yeah, I don’t, I don’t, I think it’s, it’s not ideal where we’re sitting right now with, with Google.

I think, I do think it will get better, but in doing it, it will get better. They’ll have to do algorithm updates, which will fluctuate the results, which will pay off a lot more people, but because, like, cause instability, and ultimately, all those SEOs are accountable to someone, somewhere, right? Investors, right?

CEOs, head of e coms, clients that have contracts. And you know, those SEOs have then been shouted out by someone else because that person doesn’t care about SEO. They care about revenue. And if Google is messing around with the algorithm, you’re then at the mercy of Google, right? I’ve seen it recently where there’s been some sites that people have ran completely wiped off the face of Google.

And while they may have been doing shady things, they’ve then lost their full time income. And it’s like, you know. That’s not ideal. You know, it causes frustration because although those people probably knew they were pushing the parameters to take away someone’s full livelihood is pretty harsh, even though that’s not what Google is trying to do, but the output is that what that’s what they’ve actually impacted, right?

They’ve taken away someone’s livelihood because they’ve taken that site out of Google for whatever reason, which just causes more negative narrative.

Chris Barnard: Yeah. And a lot of these points, as you’re saying, have come about in recent years in terms of now gets emails right from, like say, cause the barrier to entry is so low from, uh, often people from other countries using automated software saying we will do your SEO,

Your Halfords point is a great point, everyone gets a spam email saying we can help you with your rankings. And I suppose there’s not actually many disciplines in the world where this happens on a daily basis, right? For a business. Um, you’re yeah. Yeah. because the barrier to entry is so low. but yep. it’s, it must be, it’s difficult cause you’re constantly on the defensive. I imagine yep. In terms of trying to get them to do progressive things, they all being, um, Torn away by, uh, more commercial departments that can sort of justify line items, right? I’ll be email marketing department. They send this, we pay this, we get that back for SEO. It’s always been a fuzzier figure.

I think it’s an even fuzzier figure now that. Google have broken Google analytics, effectively enforced GA4. No one knows their data anymore. I mean, it’s a, it’s a very, a very tough way to earn a crust of bread these days. And it wouldn’t surprise me. And we’ll have to take your insight on this. If a lot of SEO consultants are going back into different parts, probably into the automation data pieces, actually, because they were early adopters. Always smart people, SEO, regardless of the varied personalities and the fallouts in SEO, they are all smart people, I find. I’d be interested to find out if sort of people are diversifying away from SEO, Kev, or do you think it’s going the other way? Are more people sort of sticking it out and finding ways for SEO to work in this new environment?

Kev Wiles: I think definitely the people that like, let’s call them SEO influencers, right? The people that are more like, uh, out on social media and stuff, I definitely see more of those people making the transition either immediately or building something now for long term to move away from SEO. And, you know, I’m, what I mean by that, it’s like.

I see more SEOs now starting their own sites. And most SEOs have got test sites, right? And smaller projects and stuff, but like,

Chris Barnard: Building SaaS products as well, Kev. I see a lot of

Kev Wiles: yeah,

Chris Barnard: SaaS products. Yeah.

Kev Wiles: but yeah. And I’ve got, you know, there’s lots of SEOs that I follow now that are genuinely going all in on essentially building their own e com business and going, Hey, these skills that I’ve learned, I’ve been doing for other people.

If I now invest that time and only build my own brand, the only person I’m going to count up all over time is myself to grow that as a business. And I definitely then also see the opposite, which is like people, you know, Moving away from like what I would call traditional SEO to break into your point, like they have analytics or go into AI or like, I’ve even got people that were in SEO that are now full time stock traders.

They just moved into Forex. That’s their thing now. And I think it’s like, because it’s getting harder to genuinely do good SEO. Some people who probably thought it was a cool career because like, you know, I mean, when I was early twenties at an agency, it was like, this is a wicked job, right? Like beer fridges on a Friday, you get to go to the pub and have some beers, meet all these friends.

Like it’s cool. It’s a cool little job, right? Like they need to go to the office with an accounting suit and be corporate. I think those people that probably didn’t genuinely, genuinely have a passion for SEO and outgoing, this is a bit rubbish. Like we’re getting all these negative comments, like I’m out, um, and to your point, I also think like they’re moving into.

Um, SAS products or the opposite where they, like, let’s say that the OGs of SEO, they’ve made a very good career in SEO. They’re now stepping out and going, I can make investments into other companies and businesses that bring me a recurring income. Um, I think the next couple of years will be interesting because I do see social search, like, let’s call it our TikTok search, whatever you want to call it, will start to eat more market share from Google.

And I think the more Google. Can’t get things right in search. We’ll see audiences like the user shift away from Google, which will make it again, harder because SEO isn’t just Google, right? But everyone goes Google, Google. But I mean, when I first started, like I had a client that did, um, within the, the sort of finance sector, they wanted to solely focus on BING, they had a way better conversion rate on Bing than they did by Google.

Um, so I think it’s the next few years will be. Tough for SEO. Uh, I think you’ll get a lot of people that either jump ship, start their own sites because they still love it, but don’t want to be accountable to clients. Um, you’re also the mercy, right? Like, you know, everyone said last year, SEO would be dead this time in 2024 because of AI and all that sort of stuff.

If anything, it’s now the opposite where. SEOs are needed more to clean up things like helpful content updates that have been hit by sites, that sort of stuff, or link penalties is still, um, so I, I think it’s, uh, it’ll be an interesting, like, 36 months, I think.

Chris Barnard: Yeah, yeah, I think it will be. I think SEOs have found it quite difficult for a while because it’s been hard to sort of gather. There was a time where you could kind of predict Google’s next move, but since the end of sort of 10 blue links, a lot of personalization, um, it’s become harder and harder to sort of justify the routes you’re taking, which is, you say, I agree with you, I still think it’s been hard.

Mainly, uh, uh, links, a technical and a content perspective, right? That is certainly what I still tell people when they come to me, talk about it. I just wondered if there’s anything on that front, we can get some great tips in for the smaller, medium enterprise on this Kev in terms of what should they be focusing on because it’s always very tough, isn’t it?

When you’re a, say a. A small team or a medium sized team. You probably not got the benefits of, Oh, here’s our data person. Here’s our SEO. Here’s our paid search person in a lot of aspects. That’s kind of one person. Uh, and so they’re having to weigh up how much time do I spend on SEO compared to the other marketing mix?

Right. And, um, we’ve spoken net already about how, uh, Tik TOK and, and social search, as you mentioned, and social media has kind of taken over as the, uh, Trendy channel. I just wonder if you’ve got any tips for kind of the smaller businesses, what they should be focusing on from an SEO perspective, because back in the day, like you say, I would have said, go get your directory links, um, go and get some good sponsorship links.

I’m a big fan of, Bing as well. So I’m a big advocate for Bing, you mentioned Microsoft being there. Um, I still tell people, right, you know, People ignore it for exactly the point you’re making people ignore it. So you should be there on SEO. You should be there in paid search as well is still something I tell people.

So I just wondered what tips you have for the audience in terms of what they, what you see working and what might work for them for their small, medium sized enterprise in SEO.

Kev Wiles: Yeah, I mean, I guess, like, it’s going to depend on if they’re a service or econ business, right? But like, let’s take a service provider. I think one of the biggest things I see is those brands looking at keywords and saying, Hey, let’s build this page for the black keyword in this, for that one, et cetera.

When actually, you know, try and solve the problem. Like what is the problem that usually leads someone to that service, right? Like, I’ll never forget. Um, I haven’t been into a Clarks for a long time, but like when I was younger, right? The thing I used to love about going into Clarks is they’d measure your foot.

So you’d know the exact size you want.

Chris Barnard: was going to say, got

Kev Wiles: Yeah.

Chris Barnard: Foot machine.

Kev Wiles: you know, they’d come out with these light up trainers and you’d be like, this is amazing. I’m going to be the coolest kid around with these like flashy light trainers. But the, the problem they had solved is like, Hey, You now have shoes that fit you correctly, right?

And it’s the same with, like, I was working with a client the other day, and like, they’d create a load of content and it wasn’t doing anything, you know, they’d done some research, and I was like, yeah, but like, are people actually searching that stuff when they need your service? Or are they searching a, I’ve got this problem and I need a solution to that problem?

And therefore map that. And, you know, unfortunately a lot of those things then don’t appear in keyword search tools, right? Because they’re like too low volume stuff, but I think like, try and really understand the customer and what would lead them to do it. And of course you, you know, you do need to own the high level stuff of like plumbers in location.

Right. But build, build the brand. Don’t just try and spin up a site and be like, Hey, I’m actually put effort into building the brand. You know, if you’re a plumber, what are the common things that you You could help the user fix themselves. Like here’s how to unblock your sink, because what you’ll typically find is those people go, I actually don’t have time to unblock my sink, but thanks for giving me that content.

And now I’m going to book you to come and do this job because I’m too busy. Um, and yeah, sure. You know, get, you’ll get some audience that they will get on and do it, but I think focus on building a brand, really understand the customer and then really narrow down on what you need to own. Like I think see the other side, whereas people would then go to.

To granular on the like e com categorization or service categorization where it’s like, Hey, we do windows. So let’s build a windows page. It’s like, cool, but what type of windows Victorian style, you PVC, et cetera, et cetera. And that, well, we do windows. Let’s just build a windows page. Like, but like. I’m going to, if I’m searching for windows, I know, probably know the style, probably know the color I want, probably know the type I want.

Therefore, my query is going to be quite long. And if you don’t have that content or that page, I’m going to think you can’t service that need I’m going to about to go to a competitor. Um, so again, breaking that down, really understanding the types of products and services you offer and then building the relevant page around that.

And that comes from just spending time doing the research properly and then building that into a proper content roadmap. Right? I think that’s the only way you can really win at building both a brand and targeting those traffic, which for an SEO, I’m like, I’ve just said something that’s so blatantly obvious that everyone listening is going to know that stuff, right?

But like, it amazes me still to this day how people just like. Hey, I’ve got a homepage and about us page. Why aren’t I ranking me? Like, well, that’s not what Google wants anymore. And like, you need to put effort into building those pages out.

Chris Barnard: think customer research, you know, branding and customer research is coming back. I think a lot of people still think of Google as the back in the very early sort of cowboy days where you would buy a victorianwindowcompany. com and you’d be the exact match keyword domain and you would just profit off that so easily.

But actually, and I think this is a good thing. I think a lot of the things we’re speaking about in the state of SEO. Not good things, but I think something that has got good is that actually you do have, even if you are just a one man band plumber up to your biggest enterprise, brand has become more important. Understanding your audience has become super important. Um, maybe hopefully some of these people who move from SEO will move into things like customer research. So I think SEO is a naturally greatly. suited for that sort of role because they are researchers, they are usually very curious people, very, as we’ve said, sort of, uh, smart people.

So actually I think they’re going to be able to offer a lot of value on personas and sort of, uh, modeling of potential customers in a, in the future of SEO. I don’t know what you think in terms of, uh, How much market research do you find with, with your clients? Are they starting to shift? Are you finding a shift in terms of their mentality towards these things?

Or is it still a classic, where am I ranked Kev? Uh, how much traffic are we getting? Uh, what are the conversions? Are they starting to consider other things that traditionally are outside the numbers for SEO?

Kev Wiles: Probably not. Like, I think a lot of my clients still, um, or or potential clients come with a, we don’t rank for this keyword. I want to rank for that keyword. We’re not getting traffic or traffic is dropped. But again, I think that I had this conversation yesterday with someone. I was like, I think we issued sometimes is as SEOs were like, Keyword visibility is up or down and traffic is up or down.

And like, you know, you’re not ranking for as many keywords or like this blog article is doing great. And I think we miss the realization, the reality of it. Not, not everyone, but like a lot of SEOs miss the, a CEO or a business owner literally doesn’t care if that blog has done better or worse. What they care about is have my phone rang more.

Have I got more sales? Have I got more leads? Am I going to be fully booked next month? And if the answer to those questions is no. It’s like, that’s an SEO job, right? And I think because of that and the way that SEO is reported on SEO for so long, people still come to SEOs for SEO work and go, Hey, I want to rank for this keyword and you’re like, okay, but why?

And they’re like, well, that’s what everyone was searching for. You’re like, is it? And I, and like, I had this, like this a couple of years ago, but like someone came to me, I want to rank for cars because cars has got load of searches a month and we’ll get loaded traffic. Cool. But no one is going to convert off that keyword.

And they’re like, why not? And I was like, well, cause like. Usually you search cars, you then go and do research and go, can’t afford that Lamborghini, but I still want a two, two person like sports car. Okay, cool. So you set a budget and then you refine that to be like, actually I’ve outlined, I can afford an Audi.

Okay, cool. So my search is now Audi TT, not cars. And then what I’ve realized is I want a gray Audi TT. So you’re searching our gray Audi TT. And then what you’ve searched is probably afford the petrol and then the S line version. So it’s now. Uh s line petrol audi ct coupe 2016 because you know the year you want actually what budget you’ve got That’s what’s going to convert the journey for cars was just the entry point You know while it would drive loads of traffic you argue like How much effort would it put to rank for that versus the big players versus ranking for something?

It’s like super niche Really really low levels of traffic But high, high, high intent in terms of conversion, I’d rather have 10 of those keywords that drive 10 searches a month, of which five converter than 100, 000 visits off the back of cars, which could mean anything for that user.

Chris Barnard: Yeah. Cause that’s a great point in terms of the mistakes people can make in terms of SEO. And I think that is one of the most common ones where I think someone, there’s a great quote, which was a little bit of knowledge is a very damaging thing or something to that effect, because that is, I think that is, uh, Bad for, for a lot of business owners, particularly those who maybe, um, have done a bit of marketing in the past or whatever, because a lot of them feel it’s still a golden bullet, even in 2024, where they say, right, if I rank for this betting query, thinking back to my finance days, this betting query in particular, if we rank for that, then we’re going to get loads of business.

So that’s all I want you to do, Chris, focus on that. Um, and, and actually these strategies, I mean, you can prove it now over time. Like this is. No, not a commercial intent keyword. This is not a keyword that people use to buy from. It’s probably higher up in the funnel. Then you get into conversations about that. So it gets more difficult. What other sort of SEO mistakes do you see being made? So I’m just thinking for the podcast listeners, it’s going to be useful in terms of, right, I could definitely avoid doing any of these little bits, when we are coming up with our SEO plan or strategy.

Kev Wiles: Yeah, I guess. Okay. Doing mapping out like the proper, like site architecture and content. And like, I’m on me, Mel is like really going and doing that research. And then to your point, understanding, is it informational or is it commercial from a keyword perspective? And like, that’s where tools like, you know, there’s lots in the market, but like, um, the one I want to use in the moment is like keyword insights, for example, it can take a.

Huge document of keywords, plus the volume, not only group those together to say, Hey, all of these keywords could be targeted with the same page. So you avoid doing like keyword cannibalization and duplicate content, but then we’ll also go and look at the SERP and say, um, Hey, you know, pretty easy to do, but like, Hey, these are informational queries and these are transactional.

So you can then start to understand, like, What type of content you actually need to have a play in that space. Um, and then I think like, you know, all the other things come off the back of that, right? Like once you build on those pages, think about internal linking, think about breadcrumb structure, how you aid the user to get the conversion point.

But also like people build blog content and they’re like, we’ve created that blog content. It’s like, yeah, but cool. Great. What do you want to use to do when they’re on article? Well, not sure. Okay, cool. Well, like do you feature products? If so, add that products to make it easier to transact that less clicks or like, you know, build your email database because then they’re a loyal customer.

You can remarket all that sort of stuff, and I think that’s where It does, and I’m not a content person, right? Like I came from strategy and technical, but like content is becoming, or I say is becoming, it’s always been important, but like actually building that out properly and clustering it properly and then focusing in and owning it has become way more important and also just not going too broad, right?

Like the other thing I see is like, well, we’ve created a blog and today we’re going to talk about the summer fate we went to and you’re like, Why? And they’re like, Oh, it’s a nice bit of content for the blog. You’re like, yeah, but no one cares. And in the nicest way, none of your customers are coming on to be like, Oh, a Bob’s plumbing factory went to the summer fair, their local school this weekend, that’s really exciting for me.

They’re like, I don’t care what they do care about is, um, you know, if you’re doing commercial plumbing, some of the efficiencies and the savings you made to that business, great case study, or, Hey, this week I’ve released a TikTok video on, um, how to correctly dispose of. Inflatable hot tub water, whatever that search might be, right?

Um, that’s the stuff people care about, but I think people get wrapped up in this like Lifestyle type blog content that doesn’t really do anything and then they’re worried then they question as to what the value is it and it’s like, well, it’s not got a value because it’s just there for fluff. But I do think, you know, the biggest mistakes I see people is just not really understanding the audience, the keywords properly, and then just wondering why SEO hasn’t worked.

And also like, you know, link building is still for anyone. I would say that is truly outside of SEO link building is still probably one of the eight hardest things, but also the. The knowing of what is a good versus bad link, you know, is it about the amount of links I have, or is it about the relevancy of those links?

And if it’s about the relevancy, how do I go and get those links? You know, should I be buying them? And if I’m buying them, what should I, where should I be buying them? All those types of things, if not done correctly. Will hinder your performance and make it harder for you to then grow performance rather than getting it right at the beginning and then scaling.

Um, and that’s the other thing I see is like, you know, all these, you only have to go on YouTube to be retargeted with like link building supplies and stuff, which, you know, not saying there’s anything good or bad about them, but. You could go on there and be like, Hey, I run a plumbing website and I’m, this is really great.

I’ve now got a link back from Sally’s cupcakes on a blog that she vaguely mentions plumbing in her sink. It’s not relevant, is it? Like she runs a cupcake business. I, that’s not, there’s no tangible way those two businesses are connected. Um, and that’s the thing I think people get wrong still is like the relevancy of those things has become way more important from Google.

Um, so yeah, I think outside the box, I guess on that stuff.

Chris Barnard: The biggest mistake I see in SEO these days is people not having a strategy, which I think links all of the bits you’re talking about, right? It’s become, oh, we used to do this, or we think that without the data, without the overarching strategy that says. We’re doing this to get this outcome because of this, you know, because then if you do have that strategy, you can relay back to it and say, well, actually no one cares that we were at the cupcake fair or wherever we were, or we went fishing I think there would be an argument. I think we mentioned this earlier that sometimes it doesn’t have to be super relevant because you’re going for that brand play, right? You’re trying to get maybe your authority signals up or your trust signals up. Uh, and so all the links don’t have to be super relevant, do they?

But a lot of them. Do if you are trying to, particularly if you’re trying to rank in a competitive niche, if you are trying to go for say plumber in an area, or if yeah. Yeah. Or I would have told you to have banished it from my mouth, Kev, if I’d said this in my, when I started my SEO journey, say 15 years ago. But often I find now when I am, and I’m, I encourage the businesses we speak to, we encourage to look at the whole of marketing holistically, right? With a strategy, don’t come to us and say, Oh, I’ve got this idea about this keyword, or I’ve got to run Google ads for this, right? We say, right, hold your horses. Let’s have a look at, Your customer research, your market research, your branding, have a look at who you are appealing to and plot a strategy from there. And in a lot of these marketing mixes we do, particularly for smaller local companies, it’s actually to get the return from SEO. It’s not worth the sort of size of investment. And I say this not because I’m very negative towards SEO. SEO is now a mature field, right? And because of that, people have pumped. Thousands of pounds into it. The early adopters, the fast followers, uh, people, even who were slow by this point in time, most businesses, if they’ve been around for more than 10 years, have certainly put a lot of money into SEO. And I have to say to, to quite a few customers, look, the cost for you to Catch up is far higher than you’d want to spend in marketing for 10 years. Say, right. And that is going on, um, how much it would cost to create the content and maybe get all the, uh, the technical fixes that you need. And if you were to be doing a link partnerships, link sponsorships, PR, digital PR, you know, come popular again, as a term, mostly it is still trying to get links, right.

It’s link building as you and I knew it from. From afar. I just wondered if, if, if you see that, if there are clients now where you say, right, unless you have this budget, other than make sure your websites developed properly and has, you know, the basic on page, probably not going to get a return on invest for you as, as this type of business, do you find yourself having that conversation more these days, Kev?

Kev Wiles: Yeah, there’s, there’s probably two points from that. I think the first one is like you hit the nail on the head where it’s like typically now if I’m taking on a client, I don’t start with like, tell me the keywords you want to rank for. Right. I start with what is the business objective? Like what is the business trying to achieve in the next 12 months?

Work out where SEO fits into that. And it may, maybe it just doesn’t, right. But at least at that point you can work out the reporting, the goals, what you need to relay back to the client about like their business goal is X. So feed into it from Y. I think there’s definitely, then there are those clients where you have to set those expectations of like, you know, we want to rank nationally for UPVZ glazing.

Like cool. What’s your budget? Probably 500 pounds, but we’ve got someone in the office that could do a couple of articles a month. He works on accounts, but he won’t mind writing. And it’s like. Probably don’t get the accountant to write the content because they’re not the specialist. And secondly, you’re not gonna rank while nationally, you know, for outside of all the factors that Google and personalization and all that sort of stuff, like you’re just not like the big brands monopolize that thing so much over time.

Um, and you do have to have that honest conversation of like, look, you actually want to do this stuff. You’ve actually got to invest and then, you know, Um, sometimes you’ve got about gracefully like this is only going to go one way and that’s going to be a headache because I’m not going to be able to get the results they need.

Um, or you go the opposite way, which is, you know, what’s the average order value of that product? And do they actually need to go after the mass market? Or is it actually about getting just good high quality leads into the business? And therefore it’s actually you can do it on that budget because the keywords are going after.

So long tail, but for that long tail keyword, if they convert one user, it’s like 25, 000 pounds, for example, which is like their whole year’s SEO retainer as an I would say, that is then the other way where it’s like, again, it comes back to the education piece, which is like less traffic, more about converting keywords, niche, like really solid focus.

Um, but yeah, you do, you do, you have to have that, that, that view of like, you know, all business is good business.

Chris Barnard: Yeah. Not all business is good business, but games are always a popular currency around here. It’s the last question we ask everybody on the bear business podcast. I’m a smooth segue, but I’m going to go with it. So tell us, we like to ask everybody, cause I think it tells a lot about person. What is your favorite game? Uh, it can be video game, car game, uh, dice game, Domino’s game, any type of game. What game do you like to play?

Kev Wiles: I’m really honestly really bad at still playing games. I like don’t take much down time and if I do it’s chilling watching Netflix. But if I was to install a game today, it would be Theme Hospital. I still find something really like, you know, making sure you’ve not got rats running around the hospital or that sort of thing.

Or a Sims type game, right? Um, building the little house and be like, there’s the mansion I’m going to eventually own because I’ve built it in the countryside, etc. Those sort of simulator games are still top tier for me. And I definitely think, I don’t know, there’s something quite nostalgic plugging in a really old PC game and stuff.

Just sticking it on your laptop, blah. This is what, this is what I used to play. I was with someone yesterday actually and they were saying, Do you remember the days where you used to have a really simple mobile phone and used to pull out your pocket to play snake? And I was like, oh, that was the good old days.

Chris Barnard: sitting on swings in the park playing snake and it being great, but probably,

Kev Wiles: Yeah.

Chris Barnard: yeah, yeah, it back in the park at age 16, people could probably imagine with a bottle of cider, but I love that theme hospital. of my brother’s favorite games, I think back in the day, uh, you’d probably be hard to play it these days.

Cause it must’ve been windows 95 98 on CD. Don’t know. I’m not sure I’ve seen a CD drive for about five or 10 years, but there’s, uh, lots of very good. We won’t name them, no free clout, but the, uh, cloud based games software, um, you can download. So there was a remake, I believe of theme hospital a few years ago.

Did you come across that remake?

Kev Wiles: I didn’t. Honestly, I’m like, I’m definitely one of these people that’s like, it’s like when they re bought Crash Bandicoot out for the new consoles. I’m like, it’s not the same. It’s not the same as plugging in your old PlayStation that was like the old, uh, leads that you used to have to get and stuff or the old Nintendo 64, where it had a little glitch, you pulled out, gave it a good blow, and plugged it back in.

And then suddenly it worked perfectly. There’s something just, For me anyway, there’s something nostalgic about like, Oh, that’s probably retro. Whereas now it’s just not the same. Like go online and you download an update and you play it. So it’s not the same.

Kev Wiles: Yeah, it is. It’s a totally different environment, isn’t it? I’ve been surprised since I’ve been asking people the question. I’ve liked how Analog, lots of people’s choices have been sort of board games and stuff like that. A lot of it is due to sort of family circumstances But yes, I very much used to love a bit of Theme Hospital.

For the people who are not aware of Theme Hospital you basically ran a hospital like a uh, like a Theme Park was the same it was by Bullfrog I believe, who’s coming back to me now, uh, who created these games late 90s, probably not even late 90s, probably early 90s, would we say, Kev? Theme Hospital?

Kev Wiles: Hospital. probably. I think that, yeah, there was Theme Hospital, Theme Park World, obviously then you had The Sims and stuff, but there was lots of them like that, that I remember spending way too many hours getting engrossed into something that didn’t exist, that I was like, my hospital’s gone bankrupt, why has it gone bankrupt?

Like, need more vending machines to sell more products, like just, yeah, at countless hours,

Chris Barnard: Maybe we’re the people who are going to solve the NHS, the people who have, uh, been playing Theme Hospital over the years, Kev. So that’ll be something I’m sure you’ve got enough to do on your plate, but I’m just saddling you with another thing to save the NHS now, but thank you ever

Kev Wiles: just to sell more vending machines.

Chris Barnard: Sell more vending machines. Thank you ever so much for being on today. I feel like we could have probably spoken for about four hours, but, uh, appreciate you’re very busy and I appreciate you taking the time today. So thanks ever, ever so much, Kev. If you want to get in touch with Kev, we’ll have his social media in the show notes.

So you’ll be able to go and follow him and find out more about him. Thanks very much.

Kev Wiles: Thanks for having me.

FeedbackFans.com Managing Director - Chris Barnard

Chris Barnard has spent over 15 years delivering exceptional digital marketing performance for leading businesses in the UK, Europe and North America through his marketing technology business, FeedbackFans.com and as an independent business consultant.

FeedbackFans provides a unique next-generation managed technology and marketing platform that delivers outstanding and out-sized results for businesses in sectors such as finance, retail, leisure, and professional services.

With our unparalleled expertise in creating cutting-edge solutions and environments, we empower our clients and users to thrive in the digital age.

Chris Barnard is Managing Director of FeedbackFans.com