Basics of SEO With Chris Labbate
Even just understanding the basics of SEO can make a massive difference in the traffic that comes to your site.
I asked my friend, Chris Labbate, a local SEO expert if he would let me pick his brain about all things SEO.
I met Chris on Linked in when I was following the pitching advice given to me by Elna Cain in her Write Your Way to Your First 1K Course.
As part of my pitching process on Linked in, I was trying to connect with marketing directors.
Chris was listed as a marketing director. After I added him, he messaged me because he saw that I live in Ontario, Canada.
We chatted about the possibility of working together for a while, then he asked me what city I live in.
It turns out we live in the same small town!! It was meant to be.
Chris and I became fast friends because, in our small town, there are few, if any, other people interested in blogging and SEO. I began doing small projects for Chris and his company SEObank.
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Can you give me a brief history of how you ended up doing SEO?
SEO was never on the radar for my career, it just happened through relationships and looking back I’m really glad it did.
I went to school for Website Design & Development and the first firm to hire me out of College had a lot of SEO work.
Things got slow in web dev, so eventually, the SEO Director at the agency started asking me to do more and more SEO optimization work, and the rest, as they say, is history.
How many websites do you currently run and what kind of sites are they (ex. Business, blog, e-commerce)?
Collectively we manage around 300 websites across Windsor-Essex the majority of the websites are small business brick and mortar shops or people selling professional services.
For some, we just built and manage their website, others want and need constant leads so they get into SEO contracts to increase sales.
I like being able to measure the effect online marketing has on direct sales.
I have worked with a few big brand names before with e-commerce sites like Home Hardware and CarQuest.
What are the 3 most important things to consider when doing SEO?
Love this question!!
Here is my formula for success:
Strategy + Plan + Consistency
Let me break it down further for you.
Strategy: Here you are going to use all the things you learned over the years in optimization, they are strategies and tactics to receive #1 rankings in Google and other search engines.
This can really separate an Expert from a Beginner!
Planning: Any great online marketing campaign starts with a plan and it may have a few sections you should put some thought into.
Things like, Branding, Clear Messaging, Call-to-Actions, Targets and Goals, Ideal Client Demographics and a very set schedule of daily tasks, that are going to help you reach your targets and goals.
I have a few templates here that I walk my clients through to help them get clear on where they are and where they want to go. After that’s done we create a timeline for progress and milestones of success targets to hit.
What plugin do you prefer for SEO (Yoast, SEMpressor, other?) and why?
I will put them in order of my most favorite to least favorite then explain why….
1. Rank Math
Rank Math: This plugin relatively new, but if you are in SEO new usually means better features and has been updated to follow the latest Google algorithm changes.
It has all the functionality of Yoast but might have extra functionality like schema-markup.
SEOpressor: This plugin Scores your pages and posts with an SEO score and gives recommendations off of both your main keyword and relative keywords to enhance your on-page optimization.
Google is no longer looking at keywords the same way it used to, it is now working off of Rank Brain, an AI relationship model of entities and the correlation factor between words.
The more advanced the plugin, the better your ranking results will be.
Yoast: At one time Yoast was the absolute best in WordPress SEO optimization, they were one of the first on the scene for SEO, as well as the All-in-One SEO WP plugin.
Sometimes both maintaining plugins and keeping out of harms way with code updates, has given the company some challenges in the past.
Millions of bloggers use the plugin because it is familiar, but if you Google, “why Yoast sucks” you might be surprised at some of the results.
I have personally used the plugin and still use it on some websites, I think sometimes people are a little too critical, but I do ultimately prefer other SEO plugins now over Yoast.
Can you outline the steps you take to find the best keywords? Be as detailed as possible.
Keywords, if you are doing advanced SEO is really not about keyword selection, it would be more on search intent.
Sure you are still going to open up your best SEO tools and check for high-volume, high-traffic keyword selections.
…its more important to think about WHY people are searching a certain type of keyword in the first place, and make sure you answer their intent.
I will explain…
The four types of search intent:
– Commercial Investigation
So with Informational search, you would want to answer a question, but with your keyword inside of the question you are trying to answer for a searcher.
Here are some examples:
“Who started the practice of Meditation?”
“Last Night’s Hockey Scores”
“Leonardo Da Vinci”
Navigational searches have to do with how well you have branded your company, they usually include your brand name or website and sometimes a location, examples:
“SEOBANK Digital Marketing”
Transactional is where the money is, these are high buyer intent keywords, basically anyone looking to make a purchase with a Google search query.
They are usually hyper specific to what someone want to buy… here is a list of examples:
“Women’s Black Dress Shoes Size 9”
“Best Men’s Polarized Sun Glasses”
“Excel Online Course for Beginners”
Commercial investigation or comparison search, is finding a user, just before they are about to buy.
They are usually comparing brands or items to see which one is the best product to purchase.
“Dell Vs Asus Laptops”
“RankMath Vs. Yoast”
“Nike Vs Adidas”
Google has CHANGED, so too SEO and other businesses need to follow these changes to adapt to the new technologies used to rank websites.
Search intent is now at the core of what Google is trying to understand when someone starts a search.
It started with semantic indexing or LSI (Latent semantic indexing) and has evolved into Google’s AI called Rank Brain.
How many keyword variations do you use in a post?
Again, I think answering search intent is better than keeping score with keyword densities, but we do include them to enrich and enhance the text.
It really does depends on the topic, but to answer your question.
A quick trick here, is to just Google your keyword and scroll to the bottom of the page. Google will give you a list of keywords literally titled “Searches related to (Keyword)” you can use those in your SEO copywriting.
In your opinion as an SEO expert, how often should your clients post on their blogs?
Considering the fact that Google ranks web pages not websites as a whole, every time you create a new page you have a new chance to rank #1 in the SERPs.
Each new page created should have a single keyword target and search intent planned out.
Let’s say “Blogging” for the sake of this example.
You can then map out an entire year of content around both great keywords and search intent.
“The best blogging platforms compared”
“10 Online Tools to Grow Your Blogs Traffic”
“Blog Content Writing Services”
Each title, targets the keyword “Blog or Blogging” but they all target different search intent.
How often you do posts, would depend on your budget or time and how fast you wanted to see ranking results, most of my clients commit to 1-2 new blog posts a month.
Do you set up a lead capture form to collect emails? Do you have any tips for the readers on this topic?
Yes, 100% the main goal of any website is to capture more sales and leads.
We do not only do website SEO optimization but also focus on conversion rates as well.
We usually try and set up a standard “Lead Magnet” and build out a proper email sequence for customer follow-ups and sales.
There are plenty of great tools out there for this like setting up OptinMonster to an Active Campaign Email tool.
How long does it typically take to see the results of SEO efforts?
We often say around the 2-3 month mark.
Because it takes some time to optimize the entire site and get some new content targeting the right type of buyers with the right sales copy.
Getting keywords to rank is just 1 very small aspect of what SEOBANK can do.
We are often looking at the servers, the link structures all of your off-page SEO elements and ensuring you have the right things in the right place to make an online sale.
It’s really a business scaling process than just an SEO campaign, it’s true data driven marketing with insights into why people buy and how to get conversions happening on-page.
How long do you think a blog post should be?
Most SEO’s are saying longer content is better, we shoot on average for about 1000 words, however not all things need to be that long.
I think a better question to ask is, “Does this article have 10x the value of any other page, on the same topic that’s currently on the internet today” if it’s the best answer, it will win the search engine results.
Are there things you see people getting wrong all the time in SEO?
Yes, the main thing I see is a TON of bloggers doing is targeting the wrong type of keywords.
Again, this goes back to search intent as they only target generic keywords that attract visitors who have no interest in what you’re offering.
Example, “Google My Business Set-up Guide” or “Website Development Services Windsor Ont.”
They are just missing out on transaction keywords.
I see a lot of blogs ranking for a ton of garbage keywords and I think it’s a lot of time, energy and money wasted.
Not to say that you should have some “helpful guides” or information keywords, but some times they are super generic or way off point.
Some other SEO mistakes I see is, no Google Analytics tracking, duplicate title tags, and no backlinks to the website.
I’m a total dork (Star Trek is my all-time favorite show!), so I love to know what other dorky things people love. Do you have books, movies, or hobbies that you love that are super dorky?
Oh totally for sure!
I am the proud owner of the original Infinity Gauntly Marvel series.
I’m a comic book nerd and still have a nice collection that I try and keep away from my kids… lol
For my favorite show, I really loved the IT Crowd, a lesser know sitcom from the UK, in fact, it’s our 404 page at one of the companies I work at, that’s as nerdy as it gets.
Where can people find you on social media if they want to connect?