Unique format for UnGagged, Speakers are very exciting and it all comes down to the questions and a fantastic opportunity Try to stay ahead of the curve, although it's not always the case - stay calm and no hasty moves! Dive into data and identify search signals. If you have a limited budget and you need to pick and choose - choose user experience. What do you know about Google algorithms? The only constant in our industry is change! What is an SEO myth? Find out more about Kasper Szymansk Transcript: Q: Please introduce yourself, and tell us why UnGagged? KS: Sure, Damien, for starters, thanks for having me. My name is Kaspar Szymanski. I'm one of the two Search Brothers. A former Google search quality guy and currently running an agency helping people to max out their potential with their websites, doing audits and recovering sites from manual penalties and that's what we do. Now, why you should come to UnGagged? I think the format is quite unique - for all I know, this is the first UnGagged has been offered in London - and if you look around, if you see the other people speaking later, they're names are out there. It's quite unique, a bunch of people, very experienced, really the hardcore SEOs. I think it's going to be exciting, and it all comes down to the questions. And that's the main point, anybody can come and ask any search questions they ever wanted to ask, so I think it's a fantastic opportunity for everybody to come. Q: What are your top tips and priority actions for overcoming issues associated with any big Google algorithm roll outs? KS: It's a very good question. Preferably, you try to stay ahead of the curve and future proof your website and make sure that your site is not impacted by any major either policy or algorithmic changes. Now, that's obviously not always the case, like with the mobile update impact or Panda and Penguin, to name a couple of those really big and visible updates and not naming any countless little ones. At times, your site tends to be impacted, and I think the most important thing, at the time as it happens is to stay calm and not panic, avoiding panicking is the most important thing. No hasty moves are really the best way to address the situation like that. Instead you really need to dive into the data, try to identify the SERPS signals, try to identify what patterns might be causing your site to be less visible for some reason or another. Draw conclusions that are going forward and try to apply improvements really in a calm manner. So if you're asking me for the one thing that I would recommend, exercising experience in algorithmic issues: stay calm, collect data, analyse it. That's the thing that needs to be done, for sure. Q: How can businesses with smaller budgets and resource best respond to big updates? KS: Again, a very good question. As we are talking of, as a base, small medium businesses, obviously budget is a major constraint and it is an expensive business to run a one hundred percent SEO-proof site. If you're talking about smaller businesses, I suppose picking and choosing your battles is a very important thing to do. You can't get everything perfect. You can't have a very large online platform that serves in a very short period of time. You can't have it perfectly optimised in terms of search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, UX, so you pick and choose. Now the one thing that is important to all web-sites across the board - regardless of the size of the site, regardless of your budget - is really users, and this is new news but this is something that a lot of businesses, a lot of online businesses, need to focus and re-focus on. If you provide a spectacular product or service that users just love, SEO will be working for you as well because user signals will be good. So if you're saying "I have a limited budget, hence I need to pick and choose", focus on users. For instance, if you can make your site just a little bit faster, you know, loading just a tiny little bit faster - which tends to be something that users value - go ahead, that's your battle to choose. Q: Are you aware of any gamechanger developments on the horizon that in-house or consultant SEOs should be aware of? KS: Wow - a ton, I suppose! We need to keep in mind that as we speak, ?today and on course of UnGagged?, it's likely on average two algorithmic updates will be rolled out, two changes to Google search every day. A ton of those are really under the radar and a good few are a little bit more visible and they get funny names, and they get all the exposure in the media. But the only constant in our industry really is change. And I'm not referring only to Google changing their policies and Google changing their algorithms and refining the user experience as they go. I'm talking about all the competitors of websites - new ones coming up, the old competitors improving their websites. So, if you're asking me for the one change, for the one significant factor that will impact the industry, in the future to come, across the board that is in my opinion users and change improved for advanced user behaviour. This is something we have to look after, this is something we have to anticipate. User demographics change a lot, users become more and more sophisticated as they learn how to search better. New generations enter the search market and these people are used to search in a completely different manner. On top of that, the way we interact with search changes. Google voice, for instance. Google voice tends to produce completely different queries than regular Google search, so these are the things that will profoundly change our industry over time. However, it is very, very difficult to anticipate how exactly the change will be going forward. We don't really know, we can't really anticipate a hundred percent how user behaviours will change going forward, however, this is an opportunity in disguise, really. Again, focusing completely on your target audience, completely focusing on your users, the people that come to your site - whether through search or directly or through social media - focusing on their needs and their language and how they evolve will help to future proof every business, and in that regard, future proof it against the biggest challenge and the biggest change going forward, which is changing and evolving user behaviour in my opinion. Q: Do you find there to be any evidence of different Google indexes? Or is it one big Google index delivering in a different way, based on the input factor rather than the question put forward to Google? KS: Interesting question. Well you have to keep in mind, I'm a former Google - obviously I don't speak on behalf of Google anymore, I used to do that. No, today I share my experience as a search engine consultant, really. Interestingly enough, the focus of our day activities for SearchBrothers is not so much finger-pointing, floss and communication or trying to reverse engineer, to uncover bits and pieces of search anymore so much. It really is seeing the impact and trying to make the best out of it for clients. From our point of view for where we stand, what really makes a difference is understanding how Google goes about improving search in their mind, how they go about improving user experience in their mind, and they're really very consistent over years. They don't say it every day but they really live by the rule of improving search for users, not so much for particular websites, not so much for individuals, but across the board, making search your go-to point if you happen to have a question. Now that question can be individual, it can be general. One example that comes to mind, quite recent for myself when I'm a logged in user, I query London departures and what I'll be seeing on top of the search results a lot of other people will be seeing, I'll also see a result which is individual that says â€˜Oh by the way, your flight to London is scheduled for 9:35 AM tomorrow' and that result is for your eyes only, and that shows a little bit how Google goes about it. They get better and better and better in making results more and more individual, which makes it obviously more challenging for us as an SEO industry to anticipate and foresee how sites will interact search engine and how sites will interact with users. None the less, the focus is the same and that's the important bit. Focusing on users is generally an excellent SEO strategy. Whether in terms of mobile or desktop, regardless. And the reason for that being, Google loves sites that are loved by users. That is why good SEO includes an absolute focus on users. We live by that, we believe in that, and the results we've been able to produce so far really prove that that's the way to go going forward in order to be successful. Q: In your niche or sector, what's the most annoying SEO misconception? Please feel free to set things straight! KS: I wouldn't say annoying, but there's a good few very, very persistent ones. We refer to them as SEO myths and no conference that you'll go to will go down without at least one person asking one question or another that you've answered many times over. Now there's a good few of them, but one I find particularly interesting is the one about site owners that are AdWords clients and they claim that they experience some sort of search issue, however the AdWords person, they are a point of contact and AdWords was able to help them. Now, of course there can be exceptions where the AdWords person is able to point a client towards a public source, towards an information source, towards a channel, such as Google Webmaster forums, or Google Hangouts on Air which is basically office hours run by Google as a channel to talk and address search issues. But there is no such thing as a channel particularly reserved for clients for AdWords or Essence or other paid Google product clients that is reserved in order to help them solving their search issues. So, whenever I hear somebody saying "Yeah, but my AdWords representative pulled some strings on my behalf and they helped to solve my penalty", that is really heresy. That does not happen, for all can say during my time at Google, in my time I have never seen any double standards like that, it just does not happen, and there's good reasons for that. There's complete separation of those teams, at least in my time in Google that was the case, and I really don't see how it would benefit Google setting a double-standard and helping one side just because they're a client and then neglecting another one which can get great information sources just because they happen to not be a client of AdWords or that sort or any other paid services. So that's one that is very persistent, even during my time at Google, I was asked that question an awful lot and over the years that question has not aged, obviously. It comes up on a regular basis but I can debunk it right here - it's just not true. Q: Current favourite SEO tool or platform? Or can you give us the inside track on any sexy SEO related platforms, tools or developments coming soon? KS: Alright, I do not know what the other guy said but there is a good few that I really, really like. We at SearchBrothers use a variety of public tools. Of course, we use webmaster tools, now that's one that everyone should be using, it's not the first time we've said that. I'm a huge fan OnPage.org, I presume you will be hearing more about that in the course of UnGagged London. There is a new tool that we had the opportunity of testing, it comes in handy very much if you are investigating backlinks, if you're trying to investigate backlink profiles on scale, we're talking about analysing data and trying to remove manual action applied to websites because of backlinks. Now that tool is not quite publicly available yet, I know that there is going to be a better one rolled out. If you're interested the tool is called Powerdrill.com, I had a look. We've been very happy testing it for quite a while and I think this is one of the tools up and coming in the industry that will make a difference in the future.