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The Clientside Podcast

SEO with Thomas Marriott

The Clientside Podcast

41 min Thomas Marriott

In this episode of the Clientside Podcast Andrew Armitage talks to SEO expert Thomas Marriott about the fundamentals of SEO. Thomas highlights the importance of starting with good content that answers the questions your audience want to know.

We discuss the three pillars of SEO and why all three are needed. We look at how long it takes to reap the benefits of implementing SEO, what an SEO season is and how lockdown has impacted rankings in various industries.

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Andrew:
So hi everybody, welcome back to another episode of The Clientside. We're here to talk about your digital marketing and give you actionable tips for you to apply in your business or your role, which will support your brand and your growth. I'm your host Andrew Armitage, and it's great to have you with us. And today, we've got a great show coming up for you. Search optimization is not a new topic by any stretch, but nonetheless will still be very prevalent given that there is only ever one top spot. And if you can't quite make that, there's only one first page. And we know that people are very likely to move onto the second page of the results in search engines. So SEO really does have a huge impact on how you're visible online, but the algorithms are constantly changing, which means that SEO is a moveable feast where not only the goalpost can change, but the very game itself can change on a fairly regular basis. Add to that, that the SEO work you do today won't deliver immediate results. It might take two to three weeks or even longer. You're going to be sat waiting for your website and you want to make sure that the time you're spending on doing SEO work is actually going to have an impact. So today we speak to a man who knows all about SEO and keeps tabs on Google's algorithm changes. Thomas Marriott describes himself as a digital marketing Punk. He's the host of his own podcast, The Digital Marketing Punkcast, and is based just down the M6 from us here in Kendal. So welcome to the show, Thomas.

Thomas:
Thank you very much for having me Andrew. I really, really appreciate it. And that was a lovely intro, you're so succinct talking about SEO, because everything that you said was absolutely spot on.

Andrew:
Well, we're in a similar field. So I think, yeah, we're no strangers to this, but it's good just to have a bit of a chat. And, you know, you've clearly got your head in this a little bit more perhaps than we have on a daily basis. Certainly more than I have myself. But just give us a bit of background about yourself Thomas tell the listeners a bit about you.

Thomas:
Yeah. So, I'm Tom, I'm director of digital marketing at an agency like you say, down the M6 from you guys in Wigan called Ina4. So I have been in digital marketing now for a long, long time. I've been only agency work. I've just hopped from agency to agency. And I always cringe at saying that because people think must he be really bad at his job, he just keeps getting sacked and moved on. No, I've done it voluntarily, guys. So now I'm here at Ina4 and I've been there for about two years now and I'm now a director there. Sort of trying to make it grow as much as possible, which is really exciting for me. So this is my kind of first step where I've not been boots on the ground, digital marketing. So, you know, I've been so engrossed in everything, you know, being really sort of hands on. Yeah, exactly. Getting my hands dirty. And now I'm kind of business, director role. And it may sound may sound really official, but really it's just, you know, it's just a case I've been sort of retracted out of everything a little bit more. Yeah, that's me now and obviously, like you alluded to, so in order to counter that, I made a plan for this because I knew this was going to happen.

Andrew:
You needed to fill your time.

Thomas:
I needed to do something. Yeah, exactly. I created this alter ego. So I became the Digital Marketing Punk, which is basically, the reason I created punk was, and I'm sure you get the same is I speak to clients and customers every single day and I get the same stories of - I work with this agency and they did this and they burned through all my money. And I got stung by this agency and they cheated me out of my money all this kind of stuff. So I thought, well, no one's speaking out about this, okay? They all you know, people only talk about it behind closed doors and for very good reason because no one wants to be embarrassed. So I though sod it. I'm going to speak out about it and start chatting about it and just trying to make digital marketing a little bit more accessible for customers. And my belief is if you educate people more about what digital marketing is, then they're going to be empowered more, be able to utilise it better. So that was kind of my thought process and how I wanted to go about it. So that's where Digital Marketing Punk was born, and I just now go around shouting at people, which is great.I enjoy it.

Andrew:
Yeah, well, we're quite similar in that respect. I think, I think there's you know, there can be this sort of facade that the agencies can hide behind in terms of technicalities and, you know, content management systems that don't necessarily allow people to update the content on their website and oh, well, yeah, we've got to go back to you. And that's going to clock up more time and we're going to bill for it and so on. So I think I think it is important because it has become more accessible on the whole. But there's still lots of pitfalls and things for people to do to get stuck with, isn't there?

Thomas:
Yeah, exactly. And you know, well, the conversation we're gonna have today about SEO is no different from that because, you know, five, ten years ago, there used to be a conversation. If you were having a conversation with an agency about SEO, the agency would be like, well, we have this secret formula locked away in, this locked room. It's got laser type security and it's our little tricks of the trade for SEO, and we're not going to tell you about it, but we'll just apply it to your website and it'll be like magic and you'll rise amongst the rankings. It was like voodoo. Now, it's not so much about it now, at least not on the front face of it now. Now we just like to talk about technical stuff and we talk about algorithms. And we like to talk about spiders and bots and things like that and just make it confusing in that way instead. And SEO could be really simple, if you break out all of this technical rubbish, it can be quite simple if you break it down into its core parts. So it's yeah, we can we do have this kind of industry where things can be made more complicated than they need to be. And sometimes, yes, sometimes we need to sort of lift that fog.

Andrew:
So let's let's try and do some of that then. What does a SEO look like these days? Because we've got things like local SEO we've got on page SEO. There's technical SEO. There is obviously you've got paid search, which kind of comes into it a little bit because it appears in the search results. But that's not really what we're talking about today. That's something separate. There's this idea that stuff I do today won't necessarily appear tomorrow. It can take a period of time. So what does SEO look like just today, considering all those bits and pieces? Where should I spend my real effort if I'm going to be trying to get my site to appear after lockdown? And I'm thinking, you know, we need to we need to be more visible. Clearly, digital is going to have a bit more of an impact. We've got to get ourselves up there and out there. Where where should we start and what does SEO look like for that kind of person?

Thomas:
That's a really good question, because SEO, what SEO looks like now is very different to what SEO used to look like. Forget about what SEO used to look like. Let's look at it now, OK? At the end of the day, SEO is just a an ability to be able to make two things. One, your website making it very clean and easy to understand for Google. And then the second part of it is to make your website valuable and interesting to human beings. And some people will say, hey, there's a 50/50 split. Some people say, hey, that's a 75/25 split. I'm very much on that kind of side, though. It's kind of a 50/50 split. It depends how much you value different things. But for me, it's a case of SEO is a case of if you don't make your website easy to understand to Google and let's not forget the Google is just kind of like a robot. It's just smarter than it used to be. You need to have the ability to make that website as easy to understand as possible. It needs to be able to see all of the things that all the pages and all the content and all that kind of stuff.And you can't technically block it at any point. Otherwise you're going to find problems.

Thomas:
The other side of it is Google wants one thing, OK? It wants their users that go and search billions of times a day on their platform to be able to find the best information that they can. So Google is looking at your website and going, hey, there's this content on this page. Someone searched for this thing that means I'm going to deliver this content to them. If your content is the best content to deliver under those set of circumstances, then you're going to be the winner. OK, in inverted commas, the winner. You know, you're going to be the winner. That's in it's bare bones fashion, that is what SEO is. And if when thinking about SEO, when you delve deeper into SEO and it can get very nitty gritty and it can get very dirty and technical, if you always have that at the front of your mind, it makes key decisions and it makes the whole idea of a lot simpler for you to be able to focus your mind and have an ability to sort of navigate through it, it allows that clarity. So, yeah, bare bones. That's what SEO is.

Andrew:
Yeah, great. And it doesn't have to be complicated. I don't think does it? It could really just start by creating content that your audience is asking for, the questions that people ask when they pick up the phone or when they send you an email that in its simplest form can be the best way to start, I guess.

Thomas:
Precisely. I think sometimes it's overcomplicated, talking about this fog that we need to lift. There's this old style of thinking when it comes to SEO that actually what SEO is kind of tricking Google and we're kind of trying to force Google.

Thomas:
Yeah, exactly. And Google are smarter than that. You know, they have smart people working for them and they've changed the way things work. So it's not that anymore. SEO is not tricking Google. It's not this dirty, cheap little box of tricks that we have, to make, you know, our website look better in Google's eyes. All it is trying to provide the best value your website provide the best value they can to any user. So, yes, it's about basically translating the information that we all have in our brains for your little niche, for your topic of expertise and transferring that onto the web in the best way possible. Now, if I tried to mind dump all of my SEO knowledge onto a Web page, that's not a rank very well, because it's going to be an absolute mess, OK? It's going to be full of tangents.

Andrew:
No clarity or focus.

Precisely. So then it's a case of translating that in a way which is going to be easy to easy, accessible for users, easily digestible for users. And Google has many tricks up its sleeve now to be able to understand that, there have been developments in Google to be able to more easily comprehend natural language processing, which is a massive boon in the industry. And it means that we're going to be provided with better quality results. And again, it kind of ekes out this idea that you can just trick Google. So, again, for focus of the mind is just producing the best quality content. And the best way to think about that, by the way, is just going, OK, I have a series of customers. So my customers for Ina4 are businesses, they want to create a website, they want to build a website or they want to get more traffic to their website. I'm thinking about the questions that they are asking themselves on a daily basis. And I will write that question down and I will write an answer to that question out and I'll put it on a Web page and make as good as possible and I'll publish it and hey ho, you know, you may find yourself in a place where you might be ranking highly enough for people searching for that query.

Andrew:
Yes. In fact, it's about making that connection with your audience more so than SEO really, SEO is almost a by product, isn't it? At a basic level, clearly, you can enhance your rankings and you can do things to to perform better. But it's about meeting your customers or your audience where they want to be with the questions that they're asking.

Thomas:
Precisely. I think I'm working a lot at the moment with a lot of bloggers. So kind of by accident. But I work with a lot of bloggers at the moment. And obviously bloggers are very interesting in the fact that it's a case of they have very niche kind of keywords. You know, they have very niche traffic. You know, it's very much the case of I've had this interesting thing that's happened to me today or I have this thought that I've had today. And I spend most of my time with the bloggers because of the advice that they are provided. I spend most of my time trying to convince them not to delve too deeply into this idea of, well, I need to make sure I've got loads of circular internal links in there. And, you know, I have to sort of go back and go, no, just write. You're a blogger. This is what you're good at at. Write your story. Write the best content that you can possibly write and write it so that when other people read it, they're going to go, hey, I really enjoyed that. I have all the information that I need. And even better, if they want to engage with you and interact with you through your blog, through comments or whatever, social media, even better because they're signals as well. So that's that's the key, the muddied water comes from this idea that it's all cheap tricks and all this kind of stuff. So keeping it simple, keeping it basic, just write the content that's best for a for a user, and your user, your audience to read, and that'll get you those basic results.

Andrew:
Ok, so what about if we're already doing that. Maybe we've got a respectable blog that might have quite a few articles and things on there. How might somebody who wants to enhance that listing or it's not quite hitting the spot, where else might that look? Because you've got content, you've got the technical side and the technical side might be a little bit harder for for for a blogger, let's say, or a small business, because they they're actually running their business. They don't necessarily know the technicalities of a website, which, let's be honest, that's not a cover up. We can't escape the fact that there's a technicality there. And what comes next is, is it refining the content? Is it looking at technical aspects of the website? What is the next step after they've at least got into that habit of creating content that is going to help them to enhance their their appearance and their ranking in search engines?

Thomas:
That's another really good question. And I think, again, what I like to think of is this kind of pyramid of levels. And like you've alluded to, that lowest level is really content and nine times out of ten, when people are starting out in this sort of SEO journey, they kind of skip that and they think, oh, I'll do content later. And that's a really big mistake, do content now as much as you can or have a starting point.

Andrew:
That's the low hanging fruit really, isn't it?

Thomas:
Precisely. Yeah. And you kind of need that before you move forward and like you've alluded to, so if you have a website and you've got that content, where do you go next? Well, then we move on to these sort of other higher levels of, you know there's like Bloom's levels of learning, you know, where you kind of go up, there's that next level and that next level is that technical side of things. So there is a technical side of SEO where we start integrating things like the internal links, like we were just talking about, or whether it's a case if we're looking at site architecture, which can be quite important as well. You know, what you want to create with a website is you want to make sure that you're forming almost key silos of information through your site architecture, i.e., you know, all of my blog articles that are about squirrels are within a URL slug ie it's forward slash squirrels forward slash. Here's my blog article title. And we're Creating those silos. So then we look into that sort of level of technical SEO. As we move further up, we move kind of into the links side of things. This is where things get a little bit grey. Ok?

Andrew:
I'm glad you came onto that. I was going to be one of my questions further down the track. But soon as you've brought us here.

Thomas:
Have I brought into this dark and gloomy forest of link building?

Thomas:
Now, if anybody from Google asks you, hey do you build links for your website, OK, it's like anyone from, I don't know, HMRC asking you if you've ever taken a back hander. You know, you always, always say no, no I do not. From Google's perspective, any kind of link building activity, i.e. any way in which you have artificially created a link between yourself and another website, OK, is seen as a big, big no no. Now, obviously, Google employees cannot check this in any way. It's completely automated process done by its algorithm. However, it knows and it can see signals where these things are artificial now, organic link building. And I use the link building term very loosely. Organic link creation happens i.e. organically. OK, if you create a nice piece of content, bloggers is a great at this because they they naturally have communities within themselves. So a blogger will read another blogger. And so what happens is they create a great piece of content and I can link off to that other piece. I can link to that piece of content saying, hey, my mate Jeff said this about this and here's my thoughts on it. And you know what happens a lot in the agency community as well, because we're actually quite a nice community, because we always end up sort of citing each other. So I will have friends that I know from agencies and I've read their article and I go, hey, that's a cool thing. I'm going to sort of expand on that from my findings. So I go, hey, here's this article that my mate wrote and I've kind of taken this further. And there you create this organic kind of link building. I've not done it because I want to help my mate get his website. He's my competitor anyway. I don't want to do that. It just happens to be about right.

Andrew:
Ultimately it's inspired you to to look at something a little closer, have a view on it and potentially take it further?

Thomas:
Precisely. So because of that, that's natural link building anything that falls under this idea of trying to create artificially these kinds of things, that's a big no no. The difference to that is where we fall under digital PR. Ok, which I want to say this is what I think link building should be called. I think the word link building should be destroyed.

Andrew:
Definitely wants to be outlawed, doesn't it?

Thomas:
Yes, precisely.

Andrew:
It's a surefire way to find yourself knocked back out of the results.

Thomas:
Exactly. So what we talk about is PR, it's press you know, and that happens all the time. And that's organic and that is natural. You know, I send, I send a press release to Wigan today around here and I say, hey, my agency's done this fantastic thing and they're going to refer back and link back. And obviously that story gets sort of syndicated across different places and that becomes very organic as well. And there's nothing wrong with that. So be aware that that's another which you can take your website further to a different level, because I have a mate who infinitely knows more with SEO than I do because he is basically the head of what used to be head of an agency in London. One of the best agencies in the UK, in my personal opinion, is absolutely phenomenal guy, so knowledgeable. And he bears SEO down to three columns. And that is the technical side of it, the content side of it and the link side of it.

Andrew:
And I'd probably argue that actually you've got, you've got the technical side and you've got the link side, but underpinned by content. Yes. Under those two pillars. And it's the content that's holding those two pillars up.

Thomas:
You could you could actually argue that completely, because without that level, you don't really have anything. You just have a bunch of code with nothing in it, which is depressing, quite honestly. So, yes, you need you need that. But if you have those three things and you keep improving those three things as much as you possibly can, then ultimately you're only going to get decent and good results. So, yes, again, there are other levels to it where we can talk about social signals and things like that. These are all tweaks and they're not tricks. They're tweaks. These are the things that we can turn up and dial u if we want to start improving things a little bit more. But, you know, when a client comes on board with me, it's a case of we get the content right when we get the site architecture right for obvious reasons, because that can really prove to be an anchor to to pull everything else back. We make sure that there are no technical issues. Not necessarily we're implementing technical improvements for an SEO perspective, but no technical issues that are going to impede or stop any kind of crawling of any nature. We get that out of the way and then we start introducing these different levels as we move further and further up the rankings in most cases or in terms of visibility.

Andrew:
So I think what you're saying is if you've got those three aspects, you can't really go far wrong. You are going to be naturally funneled into a position where you are at least ranking, probably ranking reasonably, maybe not brilliantly, but at least you are you're going to naturally find yourself in a position that you do appear. But the refinements that then come after that are for perhaps specific questions that your audience might ask or very niche things that they might be looking for.

Thomas:
Precisely. And, you know, there's always this. Sometimes I get the impression that some people who are doing an SEO strategy want sort of a one stop. I'm going to just do this and then it'll all work out. And that's never a recipe for success. You have to have this kind of feedback loop built into your process where you're just looking to see, OK, well, I did X, Y and Z, and it's had this impact all whether it's the case of, well, I've got halfway through page one, for example. What is it about the position one, two and three that is different from mine? And that's obviously that's usually the kind of secret or the not so secret weapon is just looking at competitors. It's not dirty to look at competitors. And I'm not saying steal all their ideas or certainly not saying just copy and paste their content in any way. If you can imply what are they doing, you know, usually I tend to find that on a user experience level. You know, what they've done is they provided some fantastic other mediums, you know, whether it's images, whether it's video, they've broken down their content, they've made their content easier to read and made it very accessible in that way. And they're those again, there's little tweaks which can make which can bring you into those into those upper levels.

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah. Let's just chat about something which I said at the beginning where you you could be doing, let's say, air quotes SEO today, but you don't necessarily see instant results. What is a respectable timeframe before you might start and see results. I mean, you could write a blog post today that in theory would be indexed by Google tomorrow, maybe even the same day, depending on what you've written about. But that's just because its ranking doesn't mean that it's optimized does it? So what sort of time frame might you see from let's say let's say you've got a landing page. It's all about, I don't know, garden furniture because we've had some nice weather recently. It might rank for garden furniture, but what sort of time frame might you see if you spend a couple of days refining that content and being really focused on sort of the things that people are asking about that garden furniture? What's the reasonable time frame to start seeing results and perhaps start seeing you climbing up the rankings or at least traffic increasing to your page.

Thomas:
It's the question I get asked every day. You know, how quickly is this going to start rating? And you know what? I have to be always be honest about this. And it's the answer that no one wants to hear, and that is there's no answer to that. And the reason is that, you know, a garden furniture is a fantastic example because, yes, we can be having fantastic weather at the moment and garden furniture, if I try to build a garden furniture landing page at the moment, it's going to be more difficult for me to rank for that key phrase while the weather is nice, then it is if I did it in the middle of December when the weather is not so nice, merely because of the vertical and the competition levels, you know, and because that content's going to be fresher during nicer weather, it doesn't, there's going to be a lot of other content that's going to be fresher during that period as well.

Andrew:
So you're behind on a number of levels aren't you?

Thomas:
Yes. So it becomes a very, very difficult, it all depends on, you know, the vertical that you are in. It can depend on how much competition there is for that. You know, I had to take I have two clients at the moment. One of them is a a the least sexy client in the world, which is sewage pumping. And I say this to the client all the time, by the way, and a very unsexy client,

Andrew:
It's going to be difficult to dress that up isn't it.

Thomas:
Yes, exactly. There's no way to dress that up. And another one is a taxi firm, is executive travel firm. And and one of them is a very highly competitive place. That executive travel is a highly competitive because there are a lot of them. And again I joke all you need is a car, a nice fancy car, and you can become an executive travel firm. Okay. And there's a lot of people out there that do that. And there is not a lot of people that have invested their life into pumping sewage around. How so? It becomes a lot easier for me to perform SEO, a sewage pumping based website than it does on an executive travel, even though the volumes in terms of executive travel are much, much, much higher than they are for sewage pumping. So it can very much depend on the vertical on the niche. The other side of that is we used to live in a world where the Google algorithm would only update on a six month basis or in some cases panda, penguin, all that kind of stuff. It used to be on a couple of years, it used to update. OK, and now we don't have that anymore.Now, the Google algorithm, very much like Skynet from the Terminator film, is a complete artificial intelligence. It essentially updates itself, which is terrifying.

Andrew:
It's just evolving every day isn't it.

Thomas:
Exactly.

Andrew:
And learning every time it comes around. Yeah.

Thomas:
And because of that, it develops that it changes and there is no monitoring or tracking or keeping tabs on or keeping checks on how this thing evolves and change, trying to be ahead of it. There's none of that. And that's why boiling down this idea of just keeping everything simple and for the user is a really important, it is a mindset which will set you right for doing a SEO in 10 years or in 20 years. It will continue to work for you because ultimately the aim of Google and how they want to present results to use is not going to change.

Andrew:
No. So just coming back to that garden furniture example, are you potentially saying that if I wanted to rank for Black Friday, I need to be thinking potentially of that all year round if I want to come up top of a Black Friday phrase? There is no good thinking about it six weeks before Black Friday starts. It's the sort of thing that now Black Friday is pretty well established. It's the sort of thing that people are thinking about all through the year.

Thomas:
The SEO season for Black Friday started two months ago and the SEO season for Christmas is actually it started at the start of this month, essentially. And we kind of have this odd, and the SEO community has this odd calendar where, you know, everybody in their family and their friends hate them. They always get presents on the wrong day, you know, because we all live in this kind of six month rule, which is kind of backwards. You know, we're always six months ahead of everybody else, not socially and certainly not technologically, but we are six months ahead of everybody else in terms of our calendar. We've always got a calendar flipped over six months ahead because it does take that long, certainly for those kind of key phases when we're talking about Black Friday.

Andrew:
They were hugely competitive, of course,weren't they? If you wanted to sell a TV or a PC on on Black Friday. You know, it's incredibly competitive.

Thomas:
Exactly. And, you know, and we get a strange freak accidents of that nature. For example, during the pandemic where we started to see a massive influx in hand sanitizer and face masks and all that kind of things, where we see those and we see those kind of surges, you know, and we see them sometimes quite a lot. One of the again, the only secret weapons is I wish I kind of had a stock exchange for search value. I don't remember if you remember back in the day, the BBC used to have a game which was called Celeb Dark. And they used to it used to be like a make believe stock exchange for celebrities. So you'd buy a stock in celebrities. And if they had a certain amount of column inches in the newspaper, their stock would go up or down. So that would be your game, OK? And I've always said that if we did that for search terms and search volumes, there'd be very much the same. You can buy stock if you can buy stock in something before is going to actually happen. And you had this kind of, you know, be able to see into the future to know that it's going to occur, then you're going to be very good at being an SEO.

Andrew:
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You mentioned lockdown there. Let's just talk about that briefly. Do you think, or have you seen any evidence that such behavior has changed during lockdown or at least Google is presenting information in a different way? You know, I read something the other day that Covid has been one of the most sustained search phrases that has been used. And there's obviously lots of variations because people are looking about how it affects them, how it might relate to a particular condition they have or their local area. Have you seen anything that might indicate a longer term shift or the result of the way people have searched during lockdown?

Thomas:
I have a client which sells roof racks the on the top of your cars, but they're specifically for commercial vans, you know, those kind of and they do very, very well. But as soon as this Covid started to die off and people were going back to work, sort of this period now. What we ended up finding it just skyrocketed and exploded because obviously there's this backlog of those people wanting these wanting these roof racks putting back on their car. They want to put it back on their vehicle or they've got new vehicles or whatever it is. So we basically see, in effect, everything. Obviously, everybody is now taking things that they would may have just gone to B&Q for or they would have gone to a certain store for and it up they're now searching for online.

Andrew:
They don't want to be walking around looking for things. Do they? They want to be able to go straight to it?

Thomas:
Yes. And they want it delivered to their door. And and having that ability.So we've seen those search is such a myriad of different search volumes change. And it has made things very, very difficult because usually we, as in the SEO community, have had inbuilt sort of compass where we we know the lay of the land. You know, we know what the landscape is of pretty much everything from kind of a like a baseline. And that baseline that we have is absolutely everywhere at the moment. And it's become very, very difficult. So we're still and we have live data from Google on a regular basis and we're still trying to take that data on board to assimilate what's going on. So the pandemic and Covid threw everything up in the air. But what it did mean ultimately is everything, that everything became more on demand online. Ultimately, some things obviously had a massive demise, hospitality and things like that had a massive demise. We have a huge rate of Spa's and weight loss clinics and all those kind of things. Those things can't work anymore. So they obviously had a decline. So we saw these kind of spikes and drops everywhere that we went.

Thomas:
But what was interesting was seeing some of the things that that did sort of somehow carry on and continue on, even even though you would have thought that it wouldn't have been the case. I mean, we had some we had a particular client who does spa's and saunas and we thought no one's going to, you know, go to a spa or a sauna in this kind of day and age. But what actually happened is one of their main clients was Center Parcs because they all shut down. What happened is they turned around and went, well, we're shut, so we'll just rebuild all the spas and saunas. And that's where our client came in.

Thomas:
And then what happened ultimately off the back of that was they were getting searched for by other industries and different establishments that were doing exactly the same thing, they were all shutting down. So where we were really hunkering down and protecting ourselves and protecting the business, where we were having these really awkward conversations of saying, look, we don't know what's going to happen if you want to reduce your spend and we'll protect you because we want to retain you as a client, we will protect you by reducing your spending in this position. What we actually found was complete opposite and we had to sort of turn around and go, oh, my God, we were completely wrong. Come back.

Thomas:
We've got to start doing things. So it's been it's been a really difficult time and it's been a really fascinating time. And what I'm not seeing at the moment, I'm talking about really in the past two or three weeks now is I'm not seeing I'm seeing some normality, but I'm also seeing things which is just sort of carrying on. And I think there is and I know, this phrase gets banded about this new normal. And I think there is definitely a case for that. There is certainly a new normal.

Andrew:
Yeah. Yeah, there will be. Well look Tom we're about out of time. So it's been really interesting. I mean, we've clearly only just scratched the surface of SEO and there's loads of other things that we could talk about. But but thanks for joining us and talking to me this afternoon. Really appreciate it. So where can people go and find out a little bit more about you, bearing in mind that we we might collaborate, but we are competitors.

Andrew:
You've got your own podcast, haven't you?

Thomas:
Yes, I do. I do have my own podcast. It's you know, it's The Digital Marketing Podcast. You can check me out. You know, what I say is you need to, there is a lot of people, there's a lot of marketing podcasts and there is a lot marketing podcasts. And there's no there's no bones about that. And I understand people not wanting to hop around marketing podcasts that much and you have someone that you trust. So if you trust Andrew, trust Andrew and you did everything that he said and talked about today has been absolutely spot on and I agree with them. So I'm not going to say, hey, just hop over to my podcast because I think you're on the right place, but go and check it out and you've got time for a second marketing, if you've got time for do check out The Digital Marketing Punkcast. Equally you can go check me out, I do have a blog if you sort of check out some of my other stuff, it's not there for selling or anything like that. It's just for information. It's dmpunk.co.uk you can go and check that out as well, or you can check out my agency in Wigan, which is ina4.com.

Andrew:
Fantastic. OK, some really good stuff, and I'm pretty reassured that we're on the same page there in terms of what we're talking about, because it is a moveable feast and, you know, like most things now with digital. I think it's fair to say every day's a school day. Yeah. We're always learning something new. So so as best as we can try and lift that fog that you talk about, I think ultimately people do have to people do have to go and look for for that information still sometimes, don't they? And, you know, there will unfortunately always be new bits and pieces that get rolled out, whether it's by Google or, of course, other search engines are available, maybe not so widely used, but they're still there.

Thomas:
Definitely not widely used. Definitely not widely used. And you know what? You're absolutely right. And I made a blog post about this, which is this idea that there's a lot of sound byte advice on there and it's really dangerous sound byte advice. For example you will see a lot of people on Twitter and people just going, hey, go update your message descriptions, it will get you 3000 plus traffic or 3000 times traffic. And that is absolutely rubbish. No one, no one's going to prove it. No one's going to go against it because it's just a sound byte advice and it's a very easy thing to sort of hook you in. And it's a very dangerous thing to start doing when you're just throwing out pieces of advice. And that's why if there's one takeaway, I warn people, if they're listening to this podcast to go from is just please think about what a user would want an answer to answer the questions that they have about the business or service or product that you provide. That's the one thing. It's not a sound byte. I'm not going hey, go and do this or check your metatitles or anything like that. Just do that.

Andrew:
Great advice. And I think the other point with those sort of quick wins that you sort of suggest there is the fact that nothing happens in isolation, you know, go and change your metatags. Well, that's not going to achieve anything unless it's sat in the broader context that you've created extra headings in your page or you've perhaps got new you content. Don't just go and focus on any one particular aspect, because as we said, search engines are smart. They're looking at the bigger picture and they're wanting that guidance ultimately. So just by going and saying I'm changing my metatag to talk about this one product, it's going to, they're looking for more information than that, to be able to come up with a picture and ultimately determine where to rank your page.

Thomas:
Precisely. Exactly that, provide them with as much information as you possibly can and provide your user with as much value as you possibly can.

Andrew:
Great stuff, Tom, thanks very much for joining us on the Clientside.

Thomas:
Andrew thank you so much for having me. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Andrew:
So we have just touched the tip of the iceberg in that conversation about SEO with Tom and while there are without doubt, more technical aspects to performing well in search engines, particularly if you're in a competitive space. Fundamentally, if you make it easy for Google to find your content and write in such a way that appeals to people, then you will be indexed. This was the point that Tom kept emphasizing. So gone are the days where you need to scatter a particular keyword several times in the same sentence, or try and manipulate links to make it look like your site is more popular than it actually is. The basic rule is create good content that answers people's questions or could solve there problem and Google will reward you for that. Now, if you're wanting to improve your rankings, then make sure you're using things like page titles and headings correctly. And I'd strongly recommend checking out a tool called Google Lighthouse. This is a free tool that is built directly into Google Chrome browser, and they'll give you a score against a general speed if your site, best practices, accessibility and SEO. And if you look out in the show notes, adigitalagency/podcast we'll drop a link into a YouTube video demonstrating exactly how that works.

Andrew:
So thanks again to Tom. Thanks for tuning in this afternoon. Take care and I'll see you back on the Clientside in a couple of weeks. Thank you again for checking out today's episode of the Clientside podcast. I really hope you found a useful conversation with some actionable steps that you can apply in your business. If you can spare just a few minutes of your time then please do look us up on Apple podcast. Search for the Clientside podcast by A Digital and leave us a five star rating. And if you can, leave us a quick review. I'd love to hear your feedback and would really appreciate your support. If you're interested in learning more about A Digital and how we might be able to work together, head across to our website, at adigital.agency and complete our online scorecard so you can benchmark your own digital performance. You'll get a free personalized report sent to you by email. And I can learn more about you and your business and the particular challenges you're facing. We can then follow this up with a free call to map out your priorities, either on the phone or over Zoom with absolutely no obligation. Thank you so much, everybody. I'm really grateful for you tuning in.

Andrew:
If you have any comments about this episode or any previous episodes of the Clientside podcast, then drop me a line to andrew@digital.co.uk or head across to our website at adigital.agency/clientside. See you on the next show. Cheers.

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