Known for educating and sharing his SEO knowledge for free, Neil Patel has become one of the most famous content and conversion marketers in the world.
Recognised as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 by Barack Obama and one of the top entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations, it would be easy to think Neil knows the secret to success.
In Neil Patel’s own words though:
“When people look at what I have accomplished, most of the time they feel that I’ve done it over the last few years.
What they forget to realise is that I have been an entrepreneur for over 10 years.
nd during that 10-year period, I’ve lost millions of dollars, made more mistakes than I can count, and put in countless hours into my businesses.”
Which is exactly why we wanted to share the strategies, attitudes and tips that create successful entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Here we interviewed him on the secrets of successful SEO, the future of SEO, the marketing mistakes businesses keep making, and his exclusive tips for business owners and entrepreneurs.
SEO Tips and Tricks For Small Business | Key Takeaways
- Neil’s secret to maximising ROI
- The simplest way to create content
- Why he ignores Google’s algorithm updates
- Thoughts on voice search and the future of SEO
- How much to spend on marketing and SEO (and when to invest)
Neil, welcome to Search It Local mate, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today.
Neil: No worries, thanks for having me.
I’m going to get straight to a question I know countless Aussie businesses would love the answer to, in your opinion what SEO strategies produce the highest ROI, what’s going to move the needle in 2019?
Neil: Content upgrading. And what I mean by that is that everyone’s focussed on content writing which works out great, but if you take your old content that is ranking well and you update it you’ll do better.
You’ll also find that a lot of your old content doesn’t rank as well as it used to. Taking those pieces of content and updating them, releasing them again, helps you boost your rankings.
It is one of the simplest strategies that will work well in 2019.
Very few people want to spend the time doing it but it’s very effective.
Fantastic. That’s going to be so helpful. Now, that’s a great free strategy Australian businesses can use if they have content already.
If they don’t have any content, or if they’re time poor and they don’t have the resources, how should they go about taking that first step?
Neil: I would just bust out your phone and start recording video, and start uploading it to YouTube.
YouTube SEO isn’t that competitive, it’s a great way to get customers, so if you do YouTube SEO related stuff and you just create amazing video content and you put in the keywords in your title, and the description – you can use tools like rev.com to do SRT files because YouTube needs that to understand what each video is about.
Put in the right keywords, you can use free tools like Ubersuggest to find the right keywords that are popular.
You’ll notice that your YouTube rankings will skyrocket over time and unlike traditional SEO it doesn’t take long to rank.
You’ve mentioned in many of your videos online that you think marketing is moving to an omni-channel approach, and you just touched on it there, it’s no longer enough to just try and hack one method or get behind another.
What would you say to business owners who have doubled down and just think ‘I’m only going to use SEO’ or ‘I’m only going to use Facebook Ads’?
Neil: It’s not going to happen. You used to be able to build a business off one channel.
Dropbox did it through referrals. Facebook grew through those emails they sent you saying ‘your friend joined Facebook. Click here to connect with them’. There were companies who just grew through SEO like the Yelp.com’s of the world, there’s companies like Airbnb who mainly go through paid Google Ads.
It’s too competitive now. You have no choice but to leverage all the channels it’s really the only way to make it work.
Staying on that SEO theme, I know a lot of our clients have this question, and a lot of Aussie businesses in general. The best time to start this process, to start investing in this omni-channel approach, is it when your rankings are plummeting and you’re in trouble or should you use a period of success to really consolidate and double down?
Neil: Double down when things are going well and when things are getting worse, double down as well.
Keep pushing forward. Keep adapting.
There’s no right or wrong way but you can’t stop, it’s how businesses grow these days you have no choice but to leverage all channels and techniques out there. It’s not going to always be the way you want but if you keep doubling down and doing what’s right for your consumer, in the long-run you’ll do well.
You’ve mentioned that you don’t get too involved in Google’s updates or algorithm changes, but I know you’ve been vocal in the past about the impact of Voice Search.
By 2020, 50% of searches will be voice search.
Neil: According to Comm Score, yes. By next year it will be 50%.
Going back to your question, how can Australian businesses leverage it, think of it this way – we write in-depth content for Google.
Now, you’re still going to have those pages that rank but when people type in a keyword on Google it’s a problem they’re looking to get solved. They’re looking for that solution. So on that page, make sure you’re answering the question people are most commonly looking for in a short, concise one sentence.
Google’s not going to pull a paragraph from voice search and read for 5 minutes. It’s just not going to happen.
You’ve mentioned content upgrading, that it’s all about going back through content and changing it both for voice search and updating it to help the quality, I’m curious, when you go back and update your own content do you feel your writing style has changed much in the years since you’ve been blogging and putting content out there?
Neil: Honestly no, my writing style is very similar.
If your writing style has changed that’s fine, adapt it, it’s not a big deal.
I guess when you’re creating quality content from the start you just stick to that and it stays the same. Sticking with SEO again, how do you see the Australian SEO industry as differing from the larger American SEO industry?
Do the same tactics apply or does a smaller market require different approaches?
Neil: Same exact. We don’t really notice any differences.
Have you had much experience in the Australian SEO market? Do you have any clients out here?
Neil: We do. We have quite a few. Again, we notice no difference.
The market changes are a global strategy. It’s funny, a lot of the companies we deal with don’t just go after Australia they go after all the major regions, from Australia to Brazil to Germany, it’s the same companies whether they’re international companies or US companies, everyone’s going global.
What do you, if I could touch on SEO one more time, what do you see as the biggest threat to the SEO industry going forward?
Neil: Voice search. Voice search is no longer ten listings it is just one.
Absolutely it really shrinks the field down.
Neil: And it doesn’t get people to your site.
That’s true. We’ve seen changes with the feature snippet and whether that’s affected click-through-rates, though voice search may certainly change that.
The E.A.T update affecting businesses, I’d love to know your thoughts, how could a local business who isn’t already established as an online authority, how can they take advantage of the E.A.T update and really use it to help boost their rankings?
Neil: What update?
The E.A.T update.
Neil: E.A.T update? I don’t keep up with all the Google updates.
They all have different names. It was funny, I was reading on Search engine Roundtable the other day they were talking about the Quora update, I really don’t keep up with updates and the reason being is Google’s going to do whatever it is they want to do, what most SEOs forget about is they think about hacking Google and optimising the code instead of doing what’s best for users.
Google’s goal is to put what’s best for users at the top because that’s what keeps them coming back and makes them click on ads and Google makes more money.
So, instead of worrying about each update I would worry about user experience, time on site, bounce rate, dwell time, things like that.
I want to pick your brain quickly on marketing budgets. I know this is something Australian businesses struggle to wrap their heads around.
What do you think the most efficient way of spending a marketing budget is?
Neil: The most efficient way is keep spending as much as you can for as long as its profitable.
Have you heard the saying, ‘you know who the best marketer is?’
Neil: The one who can spend the most!
Solid advice! Inside that bubble of spending the most, is there a percentage you would recommend being spent on SEO? Or would this fall into the omni-channel approach where there’s no distinct figure?
Neil: All into the omni-channel approach.
In some industries SEO still isn’t that competitive so in those industries you can spend less. For some it is much more and in those you’ll have to spend a lot.
That’s totally fair. I wanted to quickly pick your brain on backlinks as well. You’ve mentioned several times that SEO is changing. Backlinks have obviously been a powerful ranking signal in the past. Do you see the influence of backlinks changing? And if so, in the next 5 years what will that change mean for backlinks, and the role they play?
Neil: Yeah they’ll have less and less value. Because things like backlinks can be more manipulated than things like brand queries.
How many people are continually typing your name each and every single month? That’s harder to manipulate.
So, you’re going to see things like brand queries are going to have a much bigger impact in the long-run than things like SEO, I mean, things like backlinks.
Again, they’ll still be useful. Just not as useful as they in the short run.
Mate these are excellent insights. Well this question is for Australian businesses because I know we’ve come across this for a lot of our clients. Would you recommend a business create long-form service pages with 1,000 to 2,000 words? Or just enough to match their competitors?
How above and beyond should these businesses look to go?
Neil: If you need 1,000 to 2,000 words to get all your services across and explain it and go in-depth than yes, do that.
If you can do it in 500 words than do it in 500 words. Don’t worry about the competition. Be the most thorough, be the most in-depth but if you can get it done by being really concise that’s fine as well.
You can also maybe get it done through videos or images. Whatever’s best for the user that’s how you should break down your services.
It’s all about the user experience, that’s what it keeps coming back to. I wanted to know a little bit more about Neil Patel the man, as well as Neil Patel the marketer. You’re huge on providing content, you’re the King of Content, and if that’s not already a title I’m giving it to you right now.
You provide so much advice and inspiration but when you look for advice and inspiration, who do you go to? Who inspires you?
Neil: Everyone! Whether it’s a new entrepreneur or someone who’s seasoned, I believe I can learn from anyone so I keep researching, keep reading, keep talking to people and keep learning.
You know it’s funny I was talking to a kid the other day and he does magic tricks and he was trying to teach me some new SEO techniques, and he was new to SEO, and I said ‘sounds good to me, show me what you got’. You know? You never know who you’re going to learn from.
How was his magic?
Neil: His magic was good! He bent a spoon and I said ‘oh that’s cool, I’ve never seen that in person’. Then I asked him to unbend it and said he couldn’t.
I felt like ‘oh that sucks, unbend the spoon I don’t want to see it just bend’.
Plus now the spoon is ruined I can’t eat cereal with this. Give me a real spoon.
Well you mentioned there that everyone can teach you something new, and I think most marketers would agree that just failing in general is a good learning experience, do you have a personal ‘favourite failure’ to use a strange expression, that helped you grow personally or professionally?
Neil: Not necessarily one. But one of the things that I really love is, I keep failing, and a lot of people keep failing, but I’ll learn from that failure and avoid making it over and over again.
If you avoid making the same failure over and over again eventually it will lead you down a path of what you should be doing. Because you would have already done the stuff that you shouldn’t be doing.
You’ve obviously, from the beginning of your marketing career until now, you’ve grown and become more successful. Added speaking engagements around the world. How much hands-on do you have with SEO these days?
Are you still working with Neil Patel Digital and working with clients or is it more, you’re out there as a brand?
Neil: I’m very heavily involved in clients. So, I was on a pitch earlier today and then I was brainstorming how one client who had penalty issues that just signed on, you know, how to recover from all their penalty issues that they’ve had for like a year and a half that they built up and didn’t fix.
Staying with SEO one last time. Do you feel you have an SEO weakness, where do you turn to say ‘you know what I could use a little SEO help with this?’
Neil: I’m pretty strong overall in SEO. I believe I’m weak in everything though. Actually, I don’t want to say weak, I’m strong in everything because I’ve been doing it so long. Actually, let’s go with weak. Even thinking about it now, I don’t like saying I’m strong to be blunt.
I’m decent at SEO even though I rank really well, but I always believe I can learn more and get better.
That’s a good attitude. A good attitude for any business owner who feels like they can’t do something or they’re paralysed by fear. Just go out there and get better at it.
Neil: Yeah. And I never want to be at the top. I don’t want to be the best. I don’t want to be at the top of my game and get lazy.
I always believe I can learn more and get better. That’s the way to improve and keep growing.
Fantastic advice, fantastic advice mate. Finally, at Paperclip we like to ask each interviewee the same thing and it’s to tell us something about you we don’t know.
There’s a lot about you online but Neil. Before I let you go I’d love for you to share something with our audience that they wouldn’t know or would surprise them.
Neil: I’m OCD.
To give you an idea, if I go through the airport and they make you take off your shoes I always put those booties around my feet so that my way my socks don’t get dirty.
There you go everyone. Neil Patel takes booties to the airport!
Neil, thank you so much for chatting with Search It Local today and for providing valuable insights into SEO, we really appreciate it mate, thank you so much for your time.
Neil: Take care.
This interview was conducted by Search It Local’s Alexander Porter.
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