If you sometimes feel overwhelmed by SEO, you're not alone.

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In Episode 573 of Marketing Smarts, Kyle Roof acknowledges the power of the Google algorithm and how it can seem intimidating. "A lot of people are like, 'It's so huge. How can you know everything?'" he says. "I don't know everything. I don't even know close to everything. I know a little bit. I pull back the curtain here and maybe over there, and that's all you have to do."

So where do you start? Keywords are a good place, he says.

"The top four places to put a keyword would be in your title tag, the title that search engines see; your H1 tag, the title on the page that humans see; in paragraph tags, the text that's on your page; and in your URL," says Kyle. "If you put your target keyword in those four places, you've probably done 60% of SEO right there."

But what about user experience? Page speed, image loading, ad banners? Do those affect ranking?

Kyle has a simple answer: "Ask your grandmother to open up your website or open up a webpage. If she doesn't get annoyed, you're probably fine."

Listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.

"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.

Full Transcript: Unraveling SEO Secrets for B2B Marketers 

George B. Thomas: Do you find SEO complex and confusing? Today we're unraveling SEO secrets for B2B marketers. I'm super excited because we have Kyle Roof. We're going to talk about what keeps Kyle up at night, we're going to talk about the gothcas that we may fall into when it comes to Google and other search engines, we're going to talk about success, hurdles, myths, and of course we're going to get those words of wisdom.

Kyle Roof is the cofounder of High Voltage SEO, an international SEO agency; Page Optimizer Pro, and Internet Marketing Gold. Over the years, Kyle has developed and fine-tuned a method to test whether single variables are ranking factors in Google's algorithm. This method was officially granted a patent in January 2020, validating Kyle's techniques and distinguishing him from the other SEO professionals. Page Optimizer Pro uses a US Patent ranking factor scoring system to tell you the most important things to optimize on your page for more traffic and better rankings.

Kyle's SEO techniques and discoveries are followed by many SEO professionals and business leaders, he has been featured in many respected publications and is a regular speaker on SEO and SEO testing at conferences throughout the world. Kyle has presented at many popular annual events, such as Chiang Mai SEO, SEO Spring Training, Sydney SEO Conference, inOrbit, and many more.

It's time to get in the good stuff with Kyle Roof. I am, as always, super excited today because we are unraveling something that needs to be unraveled. We are talking about search, we are talking about engines, we are talking about optimization and humans and secrets that B2B marketers need to know. I'm also excited because I'm not sitting here alone, that would be a boring podcast episode, I'm here with Kyle Roof.

Kyle, how are you doing today?

Kyle Roof: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me. I'm already pumped up. This is good.

George: I'm better now that you're here, for sure, because this is going to be a good conversation. I've watched some stuff online with you talking to some other folks, and I'm like we need to get Kyle on the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

Now, I like to have a little bit of fun on our podcast, so one of the first questions is a little bit of a weird question, but it gets us into some pretty creative places sometimes. When we think about our topic today, unraveling SEO secrets for B2B marketers, what keeps you up at night? When I say that, I mean like website visibility or traffic optimization. When it comes to SEO and it comes to B2B marketers, it might be a nightmare, it might be dream, but what keeps you up at night?

Kyle: Are you familiar with the concept of negative SEO, do you know what that means?

George: Please dive in.

Kyle: Negative SEO is when somebody attacks your site and your site goes down, or your site is flooded in a way that makes it inaccessible by other people. They're able to take off part of the site, so it's not visible anymore. What keeps me up at night is that 90% of all negative SEO is self-inflicted, where somebody pushed a button, they knocked something over, and they take their own site down or they've shot themselves in the foot through just clicking a button type of a thing and basically making it impossible for them to get any traffic at all.

George: I actually know of one of these buttons. It's funny because I've had it happen probably three times in my career where companies have launched new websites, it happens to be on a WordPress website, and the amazing developer / designer / agency team forgets to uncheck the 'don't show this site to search engines.' It's funny because I really had never thought of that as negative SEO, but the buttons or the dominoes that people could potentially touch, and there are experts out there going, "Don't touch the button."

Kyle: If you ever see a straight drop in traffic, the first thing that you want to do is go around the office real quick and ask if anybody did anything. Did anybody update something that they thought was no big deal? Did you undo something that you thought wasn't necessary? Often that's what happens. They're like, "I didn't know that was important, so I just took it off the site," and it turns out it was a plugin that was running the entire calendar and now no one can sign up for anything. That's a real problem.

I've probably run into your issue, especially when I was doing more troubleshooting, once a month somebody would click that button. The other thing that they do is when you develop a site, when it's in the staging server area, it's no index so that Google won't find two versions of the site. But then when they go live, they forget to take off that no index tag, and now their site is live and they can't figure out why Google isn't going to the site anymore, and it's because you've asked Google not to.

George: We did all this work, but don't look at it. I love it. That would keep me up at night, too. Do all that work, but then be like, hey Google, we don't need you to look at it, don't worry about it, we got it over here, our sales team will just send it to everybody. Anyway, that's a whole other podcast episode.

Kyle, when we say unraveling search engine optimization secrets, and we're maybe even leaning into rankings in this case, what the heck do we even mean? Why is it that SEO is something that needs to be unraveled, what the heck should be unraveling, where does your brain go?

Kyle: Google is one of the most amazing, powerful things ever invented. It's unbelievable. Because it's so powerful, people try to maybe ascribe human nature to it, but at the end of the day, Google is an algorithm. Because it's an algorithm and it's math, we can observe it, we can study it, we can test it. In doing so, we can unravel parts of how it works.

One of the things that I like to say all the time is that the secret is hiding in plain sight. Google shows you the sites that it likes, and Google isn't playing hide the ball. Google isn't like, "I'm going to throw one curve ball in there to throw everybody off." That's not how it works at all.

When you are trying to rank for a particular keyword, you can look at the sites that Google likes for that term and then what you have to do is do that, you have to give Google that type of page. You can get into the weeds like I do in terms of testing things, where I'm running test sites and I'm actually finding a few things out. At a very bird's eye view level, you can see what Google wants, you can see the type of page that Google wants, and you can unravel it on your own without any fancy tools or special knowledge.

This is something that you can do. You can even eyeball it a little bit and say Google is rewarding a long-form article; I was going to try to rank a product page with 25 words on it, so I probably shouldn't do that, I should probably give Google the long-form article. That's a massive step forward for a lot of people, but then it's like you are unraveling a secret as to how the search engine works. That's something that everyone can do, I think. That's a big step one in terms of being able to understand Google.

One other thing that I would mention, too, is that you don't have to know everything about Google. We just have to pull back the curtain just a little bit. If we can understand one part of it, then we know that we can optimize for something and do it very well.

A lot of people are like, "It's so huge. How can you know everything?" I don't know everything. I don't even know close to everything. I know a little bit. I pull back the curtain here and maybe over there, and that's all you have to do. In a simple way, everyone can do that just by observing the types of pages and the types of sites that Google wants to rank for the keywords that you want to go after.

George: I love this so much because the idea of SEO for many humans is paralyzing. They feel like there's so much to know, they could never know it all, so the way the human brain works, why try, we can't do it. So, I love this idea of just pulling back the curtain a little bit or the 20%, Pareto's Principle, if you will, of here's what I need to know.

I also love in that section, what I heard in my brain that likes to simplify things is you're doing research, you're finding patterns, and then you're creating content that goes into those patterns and maybe a little bit more, because then it's a little bit better and then you rank a little bit higher. This is a thing that people should be thinking about, and how can they simplify this, how can they unravel it?

I loved, too, when you said Google is not throwing out gotchas. I just imagine this AI robot, "Gotcha." That's not what they're doing. That's not how they built Google to be. It might feel like that on some certain days, but that's not what they did.

You mentioned algorithm and paying attention to the algorithm. I do want to lean into this next question based on that. What are some key elements to crafting what I would call an effective SEO optimized content strategy that Google just can't resist? If humans would just kind of follow these things, Google would love them even more.

Kyle: I'll give you two things on this. Thing one is on the page itself. On the page that you're writing and you're going to submit to Google, there are different places that Google will look at the page to find important terms. That could be your target keyword, variations of that keyword, contextual terms about that keyword. Not every place on the page is equal, some have more value or more weight than other places.

The top four places to put a keyword, the term that you want to win, would be in your title tag, the title that search engines see, your H1 tag, the title on the page that humans see, in paragraph tags, the text that's on your page, and in your URL. If you put your target keyword in those four places, you've probably done 60% of SEO right there. Don't make it difficult for Google to figure out what this page is about. Put your keyword in those four spots and you've really done a lot. For lower competition, or even some medium competition terms, that might be all you have to do for Google to love that page.

I need to give one caveat, though. Let's say you have a page that exists right now and it's doing pretty well, and you realize that the keyword is not in the URL. Don't change that URL, because if you do that, you're giving Google a brand new page. Do that on a brand new page that isn't ranking at all or going forward, don't go back and adjust your URLs after just hearing that. That's a very important one.

The second thing I would put in is kind of in a content strategy as a whole for the site. Google is really looking for, is your site the place to go to for answers. When somebody is like, "I have a question about this," or, "I need this information," is your site a go-to site? So, something you want to think about is topical authority.

How can we do that? When you search for certain terms, you'll notice that questions come up in there. Those are questions that people actually have about your topic. If you can go through and grab all of the relevant ones, and there are going to be hundreds of them, that's your content strategy for the next year. You answer those questions with little posts on your site so that Google starts to realize this is the type of place that people can go and get these answers.

With that topical authority, all boats on your site are going to rise, all of your pages are going to do better because Google is going to start loving your site a lot more, it's going to eat it up, it's going to love that type of content. It's not a tricky content strategy. It's simply going and finding those questions and then just providing the answers on your site. That's really all you have to do for Google to love you.

George: I love that. That's super simple. The idea of just what are the 52 top frequently asked questions, I have a blog a day. You don't have to blog a day, I'm just making this simple strategy that one might do if they were trying to really streamline or push that authority that you might be looking for.

I do want to circle back and go off the beaten path. You were laying down the whole title, H1, paragraph tag, and you made me start to wonder what about my brother's cousin, the meta description. Is the meta description important? Is there a certain way that we should be hacking or editing or thinking about the meta description? Should the keyword live in the meta description? You hear stories, "Meta description is dead," and then you hear other people that are like, "You have to focus on the meta description." Talk to us for a second around meta descriptions and SEO.

Kyle: At a minimum, you want someone to click into your site. If they search for a certain term, they are much more likely to click on your result if they see that term in that area, and that area comes from the meta description, generally speaking. Google can pull from other parts of the page, but generally speaking, the meta description that you write is what is going to show up in the search results. If your keyword isn't there and somebody is searching for it, you're less likely to have that click. Even if it's not a ranking factor, it doesn't factor into rank, you probably want to do it for that.

The other thing that I would say when it comes to meta description and its importance, have you ever looked at the meta description like oh, that's the answer I need, then you click on it and go into the page, and those words aren't there and you can't find that answer? It's really frustrating. It's frustrating to Google, too. Often when Google is changing your meta description, it's because you're not putting in the words that Google is expecting and it wants to give people a better experience, so it's going to pull words that actually exist on your page and put them there in that area. That's probably going to have a negative impact on the rest of your ranking by virtue of that, because who knows what Google is pulling out.

The importance of the meta description can be seen at a minimum in your click through rate, people going in, and then also the description that Google is going to go with, whether it be your description or something from the page. Those are going to factor in. I've seen some demonstrations where some people can say the only thing that has changed on this site, and they're scraping hundreds of sites, is the meta description, and you can see things go up and down a little bit. So, I've seen a little bit of evidence of that.

By and large, I would say it's not a direct ranking factor. It's hard to say yes, that's definitely going to rank. But for the reasons that I mentioned, you want to take care of it anyway. You want to get your description in there, you want people to click through, and you want people to have a good experience when they come to your page.

George: I would say the fact that it's a click factor is probably enough to make you want to focus on it. You didn't write the piece of content for it just to show up as a result, you wrote the piece of content so somebody would click on that result and actually learn about you, trust you, do business with you, the things that B2B marketers want.

One of the things that I love, and my wife knows when the show comes on or there's a marathon of Mythbusters, she has lost me for the day, so I always throw in this question about if there is a common myth of myths. What is a common myth, or maybe there's a couple, about keyword research, on-page SEO, technical SEO, the full gamut of SEO topics that you can pick from, what are some things that you would want to use the Marketing Smarts Podcast to be like, I want to debunk this right now?

Kyle: Let me preface this by saying I am happy to be proven wrong. A lot of what I do is I show the test results that I have. I'll run a test on Google, and I'll say this is what I found, and I'm happy to be proven wrong. If somebody has other information, I'd be happy to look at it, show me what you've got. Then if I can replicate it, I will sing your praises to high heaven.

But the biggest thing that really kind of bothers me is when people really focus in on page speed. I've never seen that page speed is a ranking factor directly in the algorithm. Now, you do need a page that loads reasonably well because if the page takes forever, people are going to leave. That's for sure. But I've never seen it demonstrated that speed of the page is an actual ranking factor.

In fact, it was a few years ago, I did this test where I have all these pages and they're all ranking for the same term, and then I did one where it went to 20 seconds to load and everything else was loading in about a second, and that page did not drop. It should have dropped all the way to the bottom because that is so painfully slow, nobody is waiting 20 seconds for a page to open, and that page didn't move.

So, from what I've been able to test and demonstrate, I don't think page speed is a factor. A lot of people really obsess about it, and I think, too much. Really, does the page open in a reasonable amount of time? If it does, you're good. I wouldn't stress about trying to shave off milliseconds, tenths of milliseconds, the amount of money you're going to spend is not going to get you any value.

George: It's interesting that you bring that up. I would agree with you there. I have had people who I'm like, it's not that deep. They're just totally obsessing half a day or a week of like, let me run this test. You could have written like six other blog articles by now in the time that you were testing that.

I do want to go off the beaten path again, because my brain goes to things like are two or three things that we should at least check off. My brain went to you probably do still want to optimize your images. This is not an excuse to use the most massive images on your content that you can. You might want to look at Javascript or Jquery. In your mind, is there if you do these two or three things, you can still sleep at night knowing that you didn't shave off that 0.07 millisecond of load time?

Kyle: Again, it's kind of an experience situation. Ask your grandmother to open up your website or open up a webpage. If she doesn't get annoyed, you're probably fine. If she's going to stick around, you're good to go. That's what I would use as the test.

If you really want to get technical into it, I would look at your time to first byte. I just would want to make sure that's probably under 2. If you have a really high time to first byte, and it's TTFB on a lot of reports if you're looking at page speed reports, if that's really high, then I would do something about it. Otherwise, I wouldn't stress about anything else.

George: Gotcha. Okay. Let's stay on the tactical side, and I'm about to throw a bunch of words at you. I'm curious if there are any SEO techniques, tips, tricks, hacks, frameworks, anything that B2B marketers who are listening to this can use when attempting to try to boost their online presence with their search based initiatives?

Kyle: Yes. I've got a good one for you. Your competitors will not optimize for their problems. Years ago we were working with this bank, they were a brand new bank and they were going up against all of the big banks, going up against Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PNC, and all of those. We had to think how can we compete against Wells Fargo or Bank of America, they've been around forever, they're huge and they have marketing departments that are quite large.

I realized that none of those banks optimize for their problems, so we could put up pages for when somebody gets a fee on their checking account and they're like, "What is this fee," as they anger type, we had the answer for that. Now, we did not disparage Wells Fargo whatsoever, we simply answered the question of what that fee was, then we said, "Do you not want that fee? We don't charge it." We were number one for most of the banks and their problem terms, we had the featured snippet for that.

They ended up taking it down because the legal department got a little sensitive because it's banks. But you can take that to nonlegal levels. In just about any situation, there's probably an error code or a widget that always breaks on a certain thing, or something that needs to be fixed or stuck that gets onto your competitors, and you can probably optimize for those things. Give the answer, give the fix, and then ask them if they're tired of that because you have the solution.

George: I love this. It actually makes me think back, this is maybe half a year ago, Marketing Smarts listeners, if you didn't listen to the episode where we talked to Marcus Sheridan, he talked about the big five and the way that people search right before they're about to purchase or when they're researching that purchase. Problems was one of them, cost, reviews, best, etcetera. The idea of optimizing the problems of your competitors is a magical idea. I love the fact that you giggled when you were like, legal kind of…

Kyle: They got jumpy.

George: Most business owners do get jumpy when you're talking about the hard topics. Ladies and gentlemen, I think what Kyle hit on, you need to understand when you can address those dicey topics that nobody else is answering, then who gets the result when it's typed in Google's little box? Your company.

Let's move on. Everybody is trying to do this, they're trying to run the race, they're trying to have SEO success, and we'll talk about that in a minute. What are the major hurdles, potholes, whatever you want to call them, that you've seen B2B marketers face when trying to crack this Google—and yes, it could be Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, but let's all just know that this Google SEO ranking code algorithm situation—what are the big hurdles that you're like why do people keep tripping over this thing?

Kyle: The big one is just from a framework perspective. Worrying about your site and doing SEO on your site are two different things. People will spend hours staring at their website doing nothing, hours. They'll feel like that was a big day, I did eight hours of staring at my website. You could have written an article. A well executed mediocre plan is way better than an excellent plan that has nothing done to it. Don't stress about it.

You're going to hear all these great ideas, I could do this, I could do that, we could have this section on your site, we could do this. Just get one thing going and grind on it, and you're going to do so much better than all of those great ideas. You go to the conference, then you do this. You listen to that webinar, you're going to do that. You bought this software to do this thing. Let it go. Choose one. Get on it, start grinding on it, and then make that part of your schedule. Once you have that going, move on to the next thing and get that part of your process going.

It's so easy for everybody just to worry about things, the analysis paralysis, chasing shiny objects, they're all symptoms of the same disease and at the end of the day, that's not getting anything done on your site.

George: I love this idea of execution is key. We'll even double down that consistent execution can be life changing. This whole one brick at a time, 1% better mentality, so good. Ladies and gentlemen, after this podcast, go execute your face off. I'm just going to throw that out there.

Kyle: Yes. If I can add one thing, when you get off of the podcast, literally go do one thing. It might be at the end of the day, you might be tired, but get it done. It's like going to the gym when you don't feel like it and that was your best workout. Just go do that one thing. It doesn't have to be big. You'll feel so much better.

George: I love that so much. The listeners need to know where the bullseye is. Where is the finish line, how do they end up on the podium wearing the gold medallion or have the blue ribbon, what does SEO success look like, how do we know we've truly conquered this searcher and search engine puzzle that we find ourselves in?

Kyle: It's important to understand that a healthy site gains keywords and impressions, meaning it is constantly getting new keywords coming in and the impressions, the views of the site in search engines continues to rise. That's what a healthy site does, so it is gaining keywords and it's gaining impressions. If you're not, that's a sign that you have an unhealthy site. If you're stagnant or if you see things start to drop, something is going on there, and that's something that you want to address.

I think a really good analogy on this is that if your website was an actual storefront and there were people walking by the store, what SEO can do for you is increase the foot traffic, it can increase the amount of people that are going in front of your store.

People measure clicks, for example, and they measure conversions for sure. Those are very important metrics, but it's really hard to guarantee that somebody is going to click, that somebody is going to walk into the store. What you can do, something that you can proactively work on is the amount of foot traffic that you're getting. That's demonstrated in gaining keywords and gaining impressions, and those are the two main KPIs, I think, for a very successful or a very strong SEO strategy.

George: Kyle, this episode has been absolutely amazing. I'm super curious where your brain is going to go, understanding that you've been dealing with this for years, understanding that you're in Warsaw, understanding that you're about to hit Beer:30, so your brain might be at the end of the day. What are the golden nuggets of wisdom, the words of wisdom that you've learned along your journey around this topic, or maybe life itself, I don't know, that you would want to leave the Marketing Smarts listeners with? What are the words of wisdom?

Kyle: Do you want the SEO one or the life one, or both?

George: You can give us both.

Kyle: Okay. This kind of goes back to you hit on something earlier, which is something that I completely agree with. It's kind of the idea of if you're getting chased by a bear, you don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the other guy also running from the bear. You don't have to be perfect in SEO. You just have to be this much better than your competitors. One tick, one whatever above, that is all you need and you beat them.

Don't get that this has to be the perfect strategy or this has to be the greatest thing. It doesn't. You just have to be that much better than your competitors and you'll beat them by a mile because then they get eaten by the bear. On any strategy, I wouldn't get stressed about is there a better strategy, is there something else we could be doing when you're focused on this. As long as you're this much better than your competitors, you've got it. That's kind of the marketing strategy one.

The life one that I would say is think about the thing that you want and then think about the people that either have it or are doing it, and then go to there and be present. So many people just kind of stay, they're thinking about where their life is at or, "I would like to do that thing, that person is doing the thing that I want, that person has the thing that I want." What you need to do is get up and go to that place and be present in that community, and you will see life changes for you.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.

I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to Mprofs.com/mptoday. You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.

We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Steve Woodruff about navigating the power of crystal clear B2B communication by getting to the point, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

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