Interview with Keyword Research Junkie & Digital Marketing Strategist – Nick Eubanks

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Nick Eubanks is well-known for his different keyword research strategies that he share through his blog SEONick.net and on other platforms as well. He also launched “The SEO Nick Guide on How to Do Keyword Research For SEO” that you can download from here. You can also read more about this guide as well as take a look at its table of contents here. I’ve known Nick for quite a while now and after so long I finally got chance to interview him and get to know more about his thinking on the ever changing SEO Industry. Without further ado, let’s get straight to the interview questions & Nick’s thorough answers.

Pratik – Hey Nick, sorry about taking a bit longer to schedule the interview we discussed about a few months ago. It’s been crazy schedule.  Could you please share some background about yourself and give your small introduction?

Nick – I am the VP of Digital Strategy for W.L. Snook & Associates, Inc., a digital asset holding company specializing in eCommerce for the safety industry. Our flagship brand, TrafficSafetyStore.com, is the largest manufacturer and distributor of traffic safety products in the United States. We own several design patents, manage 100% of order fulfillment, and have developed a custom eCommerce platform designed to leverage organic search.

Pratik – What are your thoughts on the ever changing Google algorithms? How do you make yourself/your clients safe from all the updates that Google makes all the time?

Nick – Google is a moving target which is what makes SEO so much fun. New challenges present new opportunities so I always look forward to Google’s new signal weights and quality changes (even though they never seem to get it 100% right).

I’m not going to spout off a bunch of white-hat bullshit because people like Ian Howells have got it right; no hats, just rank. Generally speaking, we just don’t engage in tactics that are high risk. Will we take moderate risks to see bigger rewards? Of course, this is still a business. But in terms of walking the line that Google draws, to quote John-Henry Scherck; I don’t much care for silly things.

Pratik – Which SEO/link building strategies would you recommend after all these recent updates by Google?

Nick – The same one I have been preaching for the past 2 years now since I started blogging; solve problems. Queries are always a question in one form or another, more so, they represent a problem that needs solving – create one of the 10 best answers to that question and you are on the right track.

I’m not so naive as to believe that “create great content,” is in any way, shape, or form an answer to that question. It’s not. Content is the context for which you can provide answers to the searchers problem, the channel will vary; organic, paid, social, etc., and just like cable television; if people don’t see your channel – they’re not going to get your answer to their question.

One of the most recent perspectives I saw on this was by Joel Klettke, who addressed the need for content amplification. He speaks to the need to manufacture and engineer your content visibility to ensure success. Marketing is not luck and serendipity, it’s science.

Pratik – How do you think “Hummingbird update” will take toll on the marketers who do still not believe in the quality of content? Do you think this update will make a big difference in the quality of search results?

Nick – In my experience thus far Hummingbird isn’t as much about ‘quality’ as it is about brand. From my (very limited) samples I’ve seen more of a SERP preference being lent to more established brands and entities.

It’s not new information that Google prefers brands, but this shift – I believe, will put an even larger focus on big brands that have established themselves as an entity.

Pratik – I know that you’ve got really good experience working with larger brands and helping them increase their traffic and revenue, but what if you were to work with a really small business owner and you need to help the company improve their conversions? Which strategies would you apply? For example, let’s consider the client is selling glass doors.

Nick – That question seems more focused on revenue than SEO. If I were consulting to small local businesses I would be most interested in the channels that were driving revenue and opportunities for improvement. There’s a good chance that a local glass door shop may not be best suited for using search to increase conversions and revenue; it may make more sense to train the phone-sales staff, advertise in specialty publications, or seek out partnerships with local construction and remodelling companies.

If it was identified that search was a legitimate channel for driving sales, I would first look at strategies to measure the impact on foot traffic. For example, I might suggest that they offer an ‘online only’ or coupon that could be redeemed if people brought it into the store. On the flipside, people using the local internet for glass door related queries are probably looking for comparison information, pricing, and potentially installation and support. Content developed to answer these questions may do well to qualify these shoppers and get them in the door or on the phone.

Pratik – What would be your top 3 questions if you’re interviewing someone for the position of blogger outreach specialist?

Nick – 1. What metrics do you look at to qualify the value of a blog and/or blogger?

2. What is your current outreach process? What are your response and close rates?

3. What is the most successful outreach campaign you have ever worked on? Why do you believe it was so successful?

Pratik – Would you mind sharing a few words about your project SEOLeads.org? When do you plan to make it public?

Nick – SEOLeads.org was a pet project that grew out of a need to deal with lead volume. I needed a better way to qualify, match, and distribute the leads I was getting… so one weekend I sat down and wrote an insanely simple algorithm that’s based on 8 heuristic weights to match up shoppers with providers.

I’ve had some decent interest so far and get, on average, about 5 new contacts requesting a quote each week. Many of these are very small budget leads ($250-$500 per month) but if they check-out I pass them along to providers in the network. Currently I have just over 400 providers signed up to receive leads, though not all of them do (that’s a longer story).

I hope to finish the automation process within the rails app over the winter holidays for a spring release. If I can get it up and running smoothly I think it may also provide a nice source of steady business for small to mid-size agencies, which is really where I’d like it to be.

Pratik – There’s a lot of buzz around that “SEO is dead” – What are your thoughts on the same?

Nick – Same as they have always been, until Google removes all consumer pages from search, or the day comes when we all start using Bing, SEO is not going anywhere; it’s just going to get more difficult and force those not willing to adapt to die off.

Pratik – If you get a chance to work with Google for a week, what algorithm changes would you like to see applied in order to make the search results better?

Nick – Haha that’s a fun question. I would ask them to look at the GWT profiles for all websites and all of those owned by me or my companies should rank in the top 5 spots.

Seriously though, I refer to this all the time, but I think AJ Kohn makes a good argument in his post about time to long click, and whether or not Google is weighting this heavily as a quality factor – I think they should be. Essentially what AJ discusses in his piece (which you should really read if you haven’t already) is the notion the result that ‘captures the click’ is most likely the most relevant and valid result to answer the searchers question.

I would like to see more qualitative metrics at the post (URL) level baked into the weighting, at least more so than the heavy reliance on established authority and age of the domain. Don’t get me wrong – I still think those are important quality signals, but I think there is room for improvement since many new businesses are coming to market willing to step and create resource content that the ‘good old boys’ simply see as unnecessary.

Pratik – Where do you see the SEO/Inbound Marketing industry after 2 years?

Nick – I’m really not sure, but I bet you there are at least 50% more ‘inbound marketers,’ than there are right now.

Not to bitch, but I’m going to, but every week I see a handful of posts with new “experts” parroting some crap they read on one of the big 3 search publications and preaching it as religion. There also seems to be no shortage of SEO’s who are quick to talk about how they help companies do all of these great things without pointing to a single result, or my pet peeve, a single ranking.

I want an SEO clearinghouse. I want people in this industry to have to point to actual rankings and say “there, that’s me,” so we can see if it’s a competitive 2 word head term or just banana chalk prototype fighter grainy periwinkle horn.

Pratik – To conclude, what advice would you like to give to the marketers who are still focusing on building a large chunk of links to improve (manipulate) search results for their desired anchor texts?

Nick – Good luck and God speed.

Thanks a lot Nick, for taking the time and answering all these questions. I really appreciate it and hope to work with you again soon. Cheers!

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