Prior to the SEMDays conference which was held two days ago in Bucharest, we sat down with one of the key speakers, Kaspar Szymanski, to discuss the latest SEO trends and what the future has in store when it comes to search engine optimization.
Beaglecat: Hello and thank you very much for taking the time to provide us with this interview. Tell us about Search Brothers. How did you come up with the idea and what are your main challenges?
Kaspar Szymanski: Hello and thanks for having me! Me and my business partner and fellow former senior Google Search Quality team member Fili Wiese have a long history of working together, going way back to 2006. We met at Google and soon found out that we shared ambition and work ethics. At Google, we worked very successfully on combating webspam, as well as on building a communication team and driving EMEA webmaster outreach initiatives. As we both left Google to pursue a new challenge, extending our collaboration seemed a logical step and that is how SearchBrothers.com came into being.
Ever since forming our own operation we have worked with clients on making websites better for users and better understood by search engines. At times, that means mitigating past SEO risks and making strategic choices in order to future-proof online businesses. Finding and analyzing the right data in the process is a challenge at times. It is always exciting though 🙂
BC: You were part of Google’s Search Quality Team for quite a while (from 2006 to 2013). How would you define “quality content” and how can a website make sure it’s not spammy?
KS: Indeed, I was. It has been way over seven years working on the quality of the Google Index. It’s fair to say this was a great opportunity to deal with all kinds of spam. As far as I’m concerned, content quality can be well assessed by the level of user engagement. It is not the only factor to look into, yet an important one.
BC: What are the most important lessons you learned at Google?
KS: Users come first. Everything else will follow. This is the only fail safe strategy for online businesses.
BC: How different is the mobile SEO strategy from a regular SEO strategy?
KS: It should not be different. A clever, future oriented SEO strategy includes the fast growing group of mobile users. In other words, think of a super fast loading, responsive design website and you should be able to cater to desktop and mobile users’ needs alike.
BC: What do you think is going to be the most important SEO trend in 2016?
KS: In terms of novelties, in SERPs anything is possible. In terms of what can be anticipated, that’s Google’s relentless drive to satisfy their users’ needs. We are likely to see more and improved solutions such as one box.
BC: What are your top must-have SEO tools? How about free alternatives? How do they work in the long run?
KS: Google Search Console, formerly named Google Webmaster Tools is the number one, free data source for any webmaster. It’s great but insufficient for large, commercial websites. Great supplemental SEO tools rarely come cheap but there are a few with a great cost-benefit ratio, such as OnPage.org, Majestic, Botify, Ahrefs, DeepCrawl or Powerdrill.com.
BC: In a world flooded with so much information regarding SEO, what information sources do you recommend so that you never lose sight of what’s really important?
KS: SEO is a very fast paced industry, just think of daily algorithm changes! It’s important to stay on top and follow the right people, such as John Mueller, Gary Illyes and Zineb Bahajji who are all Webmaster Trends Analysts working for Google. Among professional SEO’s Marcus Tandler, Aleyda Solis, Joe Sinkwitz, Lukasz Zelezny and Dennis Goedegebuure are just the few must-follow top people. There are obviously more experts worth following but just reading tweets and shares isn’t enough. Going to conferences and meeting talented individuals like the people listed above is key.
Kaspar Szymanski is a founding member of SearchBrothers.com and a well-known Google Search expert specializing in recovering websites from Google penalties and helping websites improve their rankings with SEO Consulting. Before founding SearchBrothers.com, Kaspar was a senior member of the famed Google Search Quality team where he was the driving force behind global web spam tackling initiatives and the public face spearheading Google webmaster communication in Europe.