Advanced SEO Questions Answered: Interview of SEO Expert Michael Martinez

SEO Expert Michael Martinez
SEO Expert Michael Martinez

This time I am interviewing one of the top SEO expert Micheal Martinez.  He is currently running his blog: SEOTheory I am very much glad that he answered all my difficult questions related to SEO, Social media and many more. I appreciate his time and efforts he had put in this interview. So I hope my readers gonna enjoy it.  

First of all thanks a lot for accepting my interview proposal. I and my readers are very pretty glad  to have you . Please tell us about yourself and your educational background.

I was born and raised in the southern United States before there were many educational programs for gifted students.  I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade because I was frustrated with the education system holding me back.  Eventually I went to college and earned two degrees in Data Processing and Computer Science.  I have always been a science fiction and fantasy fan, which may have influenced my decision to work with computers.  I got my first programming job when I was 15; it was part of a Summer Jobs program for teens.  That was in 1975.

I became involved in the online world in the early 1990s through a job that required me to join a software support community on CompuServe.  From there I gradually migrated to the Internet and I built my first Website in 1996.  By the end of 1998 I had become involved with search engine optimization.  After practicing SEO for myself and occasionally as a contractor for many years, I changed careers in 2006 and took a position as Director of Search Strategies for a company in Seattle.  In 2012 I went back to freelancing and formed an SEO consulting partnership with my friend Randy Ray.  We had collaborated on some projects for a few years and finally decided to work together full-time.

What suggestions would like to my blog What things you didn’t like about my blog? Please give me your opinion.

Create a name for yourself by publishing articles you will enjoy reading in five years.  If you feel they are still useful and relevant then – without any reservations or excuses – they probably will be and your readers will probably agree with you.  No amount of SEO advice can outperform that approach to blogging.

 Which blog do you open daily and what are your favorite blogs ?

I read several SEO blogs daily, mostly because they cover newsworthy topics: Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Land, and Marketing Land.  I also check some of the official Google blogs on a regular basis.  I like Jeff Bullas and Dan Zarella’s blogs, although they don’t write as much as I would like them to.  Bill Slawski’sSEO By the Sea” is a must-read for anyone who is interested in search algorithm mechanics.  Eric Enge’s interviews on Stone Temple’s Website are simply amazing.

And I watch the Google Webmaster videos even though they seldom provide much insight for advanced SEOs.  Sometimes you come across a real gem.

What are your favorite social media tools ? Which tools do you prefer to use to incease user engagement?

At the present time I am using Twitterfeed and Twuffer more than any other tools.  I try to respond to most people who say something to me, either on my blogs or on Twitter.  I ignore Facebook as much as possible but once in a while I respond to someone there, too.

Two things improve engagement in my experience: treating people with respect and publishing something where they feel compelled to discuss it with you.  Writing from the heart rather than from keyword research works better if you’re trying to get people to stop lurking and say something.

These days I can see that many well established blogs and websites losing their rankings? Why this is happening. Is SEO dead ?

Search engine optimization should never have been tied to rankings.  12 years ago we didn’t know any better.  Five years ago we DID know better but people continued to talk about rankings.  We should always have been measuring SEO value in terms of search referral traffic.

I find that search engine optimization works just as well today as it did 12 years ago.  What is not working so well are all the bad ideas people have been sharing on their blogs, at conferences, and in their books.  SEO should not be treated as a production process that can be followed according to a formula.  You have to treat each Website differently.

The Websites that run into trouble with the search engines are following formulas for success.  Ultimately that leads to failure.

Is there any benefit of doing SEO on copied content, as some experts are ranking copied content high on SERP?

That is a long, complicated topic.  The short answer is, yes, you should optimize duplicate or copied content.  But the longer answer requires that you explain what it means to “optimize” such content for search.  Today we devote more effort to canonicalization because the search engines demand it; hence, the optimization process for duplicate content is not so much about how to bring in more traffic for it but how to use it to channel value into source content.

Recommend: Capture Your Audience with These 5 Amazing Content Marketing Tips

On the black hat side there are things you can do with duplicate content that leverage some of the gimmicks black hats favor.  Is that “optimization”?  I guess opinions will vary, but if you’re getting the best search performance value out of the copied content that you can, then that is optimal performance is it not?

Optimal performance does not necessarily equate to the most efficient, or most effective search marketing strategy.  I think people assume that if you achieve optimal performance you’re being efficient, but sometimes you pick the wrong strategy and you lose efficiency despite achieving optimal performance.

How does Google see backlinks from guest posts?

They treat guest post backlinks like they treat any other backlinks.  Every linking source has to earn Google’s trust.

I have been warning people not to use guest posts as a linking strategy for almost two years now, but not because guest posts are bad.  It is the pattern that you create when you do something “just for links”, “just for the search engines” that gets you into trouble.

Guest posting has always created incredible value for both writers and readers when the content was the most important part of the process.  The moment you start guest posting for links you devalue the content and yourself and that shows.  So naturally the search engines lose interest in what you are trying to say.

Being known by a million people is better than boosting a site to the top of a single popular keyword for a few weeks or months with links.  After the links stop working people stop reading your content because you made the links more important than your own name.

With increased volatility in the search engine landscape, how do you see SEO future shape up in the time to come? Does it still remain competitive to Paid Search Marketing?

Natural search engine optimization should always provide considerable value when compared with paid search marketing.  In fact, most people don’t do very well with paid search marketing.  It’s a very challenging business model and I know many people who avoid it because they lose money at it.

The PPC specialists who maintain high ROI have carved out an important niche for themselves.  That is what an organic search specialist has to do.  You have to show your clients sufficient ROI to keep them interested in the project.  Sometimes that just isn’t possible to do.

You can dominate a search result by spending a lot of money, but if the return on investment is poor then you have achieved a Pyrrhic victory.  It’s not worth winning.

5 must have SEO tools in your arsenal?

A blog.

A browser.

A Webmaster dashboard at the search engine.

A half-way decent spam filter.

A rudimentary analytics tool.

I am a big believer in “less is more” with search engine optimization.  The fewer tools you rely upon the better you have to become at seeing problems and finding solutions for them.   Tools hold people back.

Mobile SEO Dos & Don’ts?

DO make your site easy to read on a smart device.

DO use mobile-friendly navigation.  “Less is more”

DO expect mobile users to be more ephemeral than desktop users.

DON’T assume all “mobile” traffic is mobile.  Some of it is robots.

DON’T create short, fluffy content for mobile users.  They want a good return on their investment.  Mobile browsing is painful and users don’t want to waste their time on low quality content.

Best possible way to decipher the ‘not provided’ organic keywords?

I don’t actually worry about it.  I only ever advocated looking at search referral keywords for the sake of identifying weak content.  You can still do that by looking at which pages receive the least amount of referral traffic from search engines.

Why do you need to know that you received 1,000 visits for “FAVORITE KEYWORD”?  What is that going to tell you?

If you receive 1,000 visits for PAGE ALPHA and 1 visit for PAGE BETA then you know you need to do something about BETA.

How does Google know if one blog is a sponsored blog vs guest blog? We only do guest blogs, because we don’t want to buy links, but many blogs these days ask for money. 

Paid posting creates tell-tale signs, the so-called “statistical footprint”.  They have developed sophisticated learning algorithms but their spam teams have collected a large number of examples of “good sites” and “bad sites” for the algorithms to learn from.

What are some strategies for brainstorming and creating linkbait in SEO?

I like to scan news feeds and social media to see which conversations the media and their audiences keep going for several weeks.  If a topic has that long a lifetime in news and social media then it will probably have a long lifetime on the Web.

After choosing a topic I do some research to see which questions have been satisfactorily answered and which questions have not.  Of the answered questions, I look to see which ones whose answers are easy to find in search.

I usually come up with a short of list of topics I can write about.  At that point I pick the topic that is most interesting to me.  If I as the writer am interested in the topic I will probably write something pretty good for it.

This approach works well for all kinds of topics but if you only concentrate on upcoming events you have a better chance of “being there” when people go looking for answers.  That is, some well-promoted events stimulate increases in search traffic around related topics.  If you anticipate that growth in traffic then you can prepare the best, most useful content for people to find when the time is right.

What kind of competitor analysis tools you are using? Can you suggest best tools to track competitor backlinks?

When we look at backlinks my partner and I tend to use Majestic SEO and AHREFS.  But we don’t really recommend looking at competitor backlinks.  That’s usually a good way to find links that will get you penalized.

One of the directories I am in is being reviewed by Google. Should I be concerned that my website will be penalized?

One bad directory link won’t hurt you.  Five bad directory links should not hurt you.  Ten bad directory links probably won’t hurt you.  But if you’re getting a lot of directory links you should ask yourself, “Who uses these directories to find Websites?”

If a directory link is not sending you traffic you probably don’t need it.  Search engines don’t mind small niche directories that people actually use.  They do object to directories that were “made for SEO (link building)”.

Social shares from Blog itself and from using third party services like JustRetweet have same impact on Serp or not?

There is no SEO benefit from social shares.  Natural shares indicate that people are aware of you and interested in your content.  Natural shares should correlate well with other signals that search engines use to promote content that people like.

Artificial shares may create visibility for you in social media environments, and that visibility may translate into traffic.  But if you’re violating social media services’ guidelines by buying shares then you risk losing a valuable channel for traffic.

As with aggressive search engine marketing, aggressive social media marketing comes with risks and you need to be aware of and manage those risks.  Churn-and-burn marketing is not unique to SEO.  It also happens in social media.  No one should use churn-and-burn marketing strategies with any brand Website or social media account because once you lose that visibility it may be gone forever.

I hope you enjoy this long interview of Michael Martinez. He had shared his valuable strategies here. 

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Jitendra Vaswani
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Jitendra Vaswani is a top-notch digital marketer recognized for his extensive expertise in the field. He has spoken at international events and founded, a digital marketing agency, and, a tool for SEO copywriting and local SEO. With over ten years of experience, Vaswani has made significant impacts in digital marketing. He is also the author of 'Inside A Hustler's Brain: In Pursuit of Financial Freedom,' which has sold over 20,000 copies worldwide and gained international acclaim. His work continues to inspire many in the digital marketing world.

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Comments (12)

  1. Thanks for sharing interview questions and answers for SEO. This site is best for SEO. This was the Very helpful and informative article for any SEO students. I’m very hopful that u will keep sharing this type of articles in near future for d benefits of SEO.Thank u sir…

  2. Good collection of questions, really helpful for the SEO interview’s.

  3. Nice extraordinary quetions. Upstanding, essential for all SEos .A good Collection. thanks

  4. Nice interview. It is very effective for all the people who are willing to know about SEO. It will help me a lot.

  5. All these questions are worthy to be asked in Interview. Some latest and new techniques are also related to this interview session so, it is covering a vast knowledge of SEO.

  6. Most of the questions here are pretty good and are ‘askable’. Wanted to add couple of my favorite SEO interview questions that I ask everytime

    1. Experience handling SEO for site migration projects – this happens all the time when a website goes through a redesign or development. The client will want the agency to preserve the SEO value of the site post live and the SEO resource is required to be ready with the transition plan – primary of which is the 301 redirects

    2. Views on how the SEO had shaped in the last few years – I expect the candidate to talk through the Google algorithm updates, industry’s approach towards link building etc.,

    For the interested, the full list of the SEO Interview Questions I ask, especially to the Senior level resources is available here :

  7. nice interview and all the tips are really worthy and help SEOs to take secure steps in 2014.

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