Talking SEO – Interview with Todd Malicoat

by Nick · 22 comments

in SEO

Talking SEO with Industry Experts Interview with Todd Malicoat

Welcome to the long overdue second segment of my podcast series Talking with Industry Experts.

In this podcast I speak with Captain Todd Malicoat, Author of the Stuntdubl SEO Blog, Faculty SEO Chair at MarketMotive, and Fishing Charter Captain at Miami Fishing Charters.

Listen to Todd and I discuss his thoughts on Panda’s integration into Google’s normal algorithm, negative SEO, link building, and find out the one tip that Todd has for all SEO’s.


Nick: Hey, guys! I’m here with Todd Malicoat one of the first SEO’s that I ever started reading back in God, it had to be 2004-2005. He has been nice enough to give us a little bit of his time today and answer a couple of my questions that I sourced from a bunch of my readers.

This is the second edition of my SEO podcast, talking with experts and I hope you guys like it. So without further ado, we’ll get started.

How are you doing, Todd?

Todd: Fantastic.

Nick: Good to hear it, man.

The first question I’ve got coming at you has to do with Panda being integrated into Google’s normal algorithm. A couple of people, including myself are just really curious as to what the effects professionals and experts, people like yourself think that it’s going to have on just the overall search engine landscape?

Todd: Yeah, I think we’ve seen this with a lot of different types of algorithm updates in the past, really. Google’s just always given different names and have targeted different problems associated with relevance.

One of the big problems they were having with relevance was there was such a heavy emphasis and heavy importance placed on off-site equity and link equity that they needed something to balance that, and that kinda is what Panda was in my mind, is they had to take care of this big relevance issue.

And they did, through a series of iterations that’s now becoming part of the overall algorithm. Those iterations are so subtle that you don’t really notice them anymore. I think that’s happened in the past with lots of different changes.

This one, however, was obviously a huge one. That they did it so many times and that it was noticeable, so many times is a big thing. And really what came out of that as what I noticed most was having that audition period for almost any landing page and that overall score for any type of website.

So we saw between Panda and Penguin, two different issues that we’re solving that emphasis on too much offsite. But with Panda, it was just ranking garbage content on a quality domain, and so that’s always been an issue.

That’s starting to get solved and I think we’ve seen that the solution is working. If a site has 80% bounce rate, it’s no longer ranking for its term, number one, for a very long or more than a short time.

So with Panda overall, we see that you can’t rank a crappy landing page anymore. That’s what it solved. That’s what it’ll continue to solve. You have to be watching bounce rates and kind of those exit rates in your analytics, in order to solve that and be prepared for that. If you’re not doing that, you have to know that you’re not going to rank well.

Nick: I think that’s a fantastic point. Coming back to the piece you opened up with, more about the focus on off-page link equity. That leads me really well actually right into our next question, which is,

Have you ever seen or experienced negative SEO firsthand?

Todd: I’ve seen some examples, more so I think of hacking. Negative SEO is kind of an all-encompassing term, for anything negative that happens to your site that you really don’t have control over it.

Nick: Very good point.

Todd: The most malicious of this was once called Google bowling, pointing a bunch of blog spam links at a site to tank it. I have seen it happen in competitive verticals.

I’ve seen some examples. I’ve never really played in verticals competitive enough where it was an issue. Personally to me, I have had sites hacked where there was malware installed, and that impacted the rankings which is similar in ways, but not quite what I deemed the Google bowling, I suppose.

So it does exist to a certain point. You know I think Google finally admitted there’s an issue with that, by releasing the disavow tool.

But overall, unless you’re really in that competitive vertical, it’s not a huge issue, and if you are in those verticals, you’re kind of a little bit more prepared for it, and understand that SEO in those spaces is a little bit different.

Nick: I think those are all really good points. I think the most interesting thing in my experience is probably on the flip side of negative SEO, which is people who aren’t trying to do it to have a negative impact on their competitors’ sites from people who are using lots of just crappy spam and drip links, Xrumer, and all that good stuff to get their stuff to rank.

And probably, I think what’s amazing to me is the amount of proliferation I’ve seen, with those types of very spam-heavy link-building packets in, like the payday loan SERPs specifically, which I think and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s probably one of the more volatile SERPs within search.

Todd: Yeah, those payday loan guys have been aggressive with it for quite some time and it’s an interesting space to watch. I think even things like Viagra are a little less competitive now, because they’re a little bit more regulated. Payday loans really have been sort of the Wild West kind of industries.

It’s interesting to watch those search results sometimes. You have to probably have a high-level of security on your computer, and not allow any malware or Adware of any sort to be installed.

But they’re interesting to watch, because there’s a little bit different space and it fluctuates a lot, by watching those results change you can kind of get a feel for what’s going on sometimes, some of the things that Google’s trying to prevent in competitive industries or other industries by watching those most important ones.

Nick: That’s a very cool idea. This is actually a perfect segue into my third question which is:

In your opinion, what would you consider to be one fail- safe link-building strategy that still works in 2013?

Todd: I think the one that people can agree on is guest posting to a certain extent. Guest posting absolutely works. It’s kind of the foundation for content marketing in a lot of ways, which is kind of, I don’t know if it’s making a resurgence or what.

In my mind it will always be link development and content building, and they’re kind of married together.

But the idea of content marketing without link development, I suppose is kind of being brought back. That’s creating something and sharing it, having a linkable asset, that asset can be content. That asset can be a widget. That asset can be a tool. That asset can be software, a PDF, whatever it is.

But you have to have something to be offering. You can’t just go out and kind of rob people for links anymore, hold your email gun up and say, “Give me a link,” or can I have a link. It just doesn’t work. Even in the past, people were sending thousands of emails and getting 1.0% response rate.

Even at that level, those have gone down. That was really never my approach, but I think people did that in the past and webmasters fell for it, and now those same webmasters are upset about it, and they’re never going to fall for it again.

So you have to have something to offer, you have to have something that’s safer, and there’s that validation later now with social to say this is a real person, send me a real request, not a pseudonym made-up person sending a request, for a payday loan site that won’t exist three days from now.

Nick: Yep, I absolutely agree. Beyond links what are some of the strategies that you’re using to help your websites, and your clients gain just more visibility overall in the SERPs?

Todd: I was needed there for a second. Can you ask that one again?

Nick: Sure.

Beyond links what are some of the strategies that you’re using to help gain more visibility for your websites within the SERPs?

Todd: I think it’s a combination of social as an outreach platform, and content as the asset, so it really has to be all kinds of cylinders on the engines firing at once.

Being you have a good content creation process, you have a good outreach process, and then you’re following up with social media, and you’re doing it consistently. So that’s overall the best strategy. I think we’re seeing more of that importance going towards authorship and towards personal authority, so I think that’s important.

For my sites personally, I’m just actually getting ready to launch a big project. I’m doing a For that one, it’ll be me writing articles about fishing.

I kind of went back to basics, with what would work for SEO and it’s not kind of the mass outreach anymore. It’s just not going to be effective, so the stuff that works for rankings is being genuine, is creating something, is doing something that people want to read and participate in.

So that’s community, that’s linkable assets. That’s the things that the web was founded on, and Google is doing a good job of making sure that’s the things that you find, instead of the things you don’t want to find when you click the back button. That’s what Panda is and that’s what Penguin is and that’s what they’re continuing to do.

SEO’s have a problem with some of the decisions Google makes sometimes, but I think relevance as a whole by the general user is always well-received.

Nick: I think you’re absolutely right there, so sort of a fun question to close out the podcast with.

If there were some magical loudspeaker that was tuned to every SEO on planet Earth, and you could tell every SEO just one thing, what would it be?

Todd: Probably stay humble. What works today isn’t going to work tomorrow. The idea of optimization as a whole is kind of staying on the forefront of what works. And it’s disappointing for me to see five years later people selling directory submission packages.

After there are only four or five directories that work; or selling reciprocal link packages, or selling page ranks, three links, thousands of them for two dollars; all that sort of thing.

Most of it never worked for long and to see people still sell it is disappointing to me as a whole. I think some of those things get passed down as information, and then it becomes old information and then year’s later it’s rancid, stagnant information. And even the people that are on the forefront, even the people that are really actively creating sites, and doing things innovating, even those folks get caught up in a rut sometimes, I think.

So to truly be optimal, you’ve got to always be learning, always be reading, and certainly stay humble, because you never know when the next Zune animal is going come along.

Nick: I think that’s a fantastic piece of advice. Okay, man thank you so much for taking some time to answer some of my questions, and really, really happy and excited to have you on here.

Todd: My pleasure. Thanks, man.

Nick: All right, man. Take care, Todd.

Read more SEO advice  and fresh insights from Philly’s top experts in the industry in one of the most extensive interview.

About Nick
Nick is the Co-Founder of an ecommerce consultancy company and the author of this SEO Blog.

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  • Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it I am going to come back yet again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

  • Hey, Nick, great interview 🙂
    Just one question to you – about the very first question and the opinion of Todd about bounce rates and exits – what’s your opinion on that?
    I personally don’t believe this would be factor… ever. If you offer what the visitor is looking for on the very first page – than the bounce rate is irrelevant. The same thing stays for the exits… You know – you search for something, you find it, you read it, than you are not obligated to browse the other pages. If i don’t have time i’ll just leave the page. Actually there are some cases when you actually expect 100% bounce rate…
    I think even Matt Cutts have a video about this.

    • Hey Emil –

      I think variations of a form of ‘bounce rate’ could be a factor, but AJ Kohn actually just wrote a post recently where he explores a concept similar to bounce rate, but in terms of being a valid signal to search engines – and to your point, makes a lot more sense.

      Definitely check it out, it’s called Time to Long Click, which essentially focuses more on time spent on the page after a click, rather than the frequency (or volume) or returns back to the SERP.

      • Thanks Nick,
        I’ll surely take a look on that!

  • This was very informative, mainly the link building segment for 2013. Thanks!

  • Nice interview. “What works today isn’t going to work tomorrow.” True. Panda updates and the likes, so it is best to stay dynamic with your site and stay away from black hat SEO. Whenever I do my web experiments (to identify what’s going to work), I always check them with Colibri Tool to see if it has done my website any good. If it does, then I keep doing it and keep on finding more ways on how to do better. Got tips from here so kudos to you!

  • Great post, I agree with most of the article, however I do not think you should write off email marketing so easily. I understand you cannot spam them, but if you have a strategy that both parties gain, then email marketing is a no brainier, and should be integrated into your marketing strategy!

  • Fantastic interview Nick! I always love to read and listen to anything Todd has to say, he is super legit!

    • Hey Steve

      Thanks for tuning in, I completely agree – Todd is one of only a handful of SEO professionals who I pay close attention to, so this interview was really a pleasure.

  • Thanks learned a few things form the linkbuilding that i can apply myself for my seo project!

    Thanks sir!

  • I like your post, I will surely come back to check out other posts on this site. I think Money and freedom are greatest way to change, may your SEO projects make you rich.

  • Cool interview! Learned a lot especially about the bounce rate as a sign whether you will rank or not. Keep up the good works Nick

  • Hey Nick, great interview, thanks!

    Hi Todd,
    nice answers, i absolutely agree with you, one has to run with the times. If guest blogging works now, do it… if content marketing works now, do it…

    It is very sad to see those insane directory submissions still going on! Some of those marketers just don’t want to update themselves, they are even trying to workout guest blogging on the same lines as article submission. But it won’t work anymore, unless you have an excellent piece of content, it just won’t work.

    Uttoran Sen,

  • Interesting to see … thank you it’s well done 🙂

  • I really like the approach you take to your seo philosophy very inspiring.

    • Negative SEO impact should be bad, because lots of bad links and spam links or also low quality worth links are coming on your site.

  • masudaijaz

    I’ve enjoy the interview. One thing that I like much is the wording of Todd that is always be learning and always be reading. This is the key of success.

  • You offer really great ideas when it comes to SEO. You answer questions right straight from the experience and I really admire that from you. I have always been a fan of your blog and I like it when you talk about Google. There are so many ideas incorporated in it.

  • Hi Nick, I have really enjoyed the Interview wit Todd. All the Question formed brilliantly. I’ll drop here for more.

    H Gupta

  • Social media is gaining more popularity and has become the greatest source of building relationships, but also a good source of outreach combined, help to boost the ranking in the search engine. On the other hand quality content play the major role and a necessary element to gain high ranking.

  • It just goes to show how quickly SEO changes. He says above that guest blogging is still a good tactic. But Google has clamped down on it massively since then. SEO is definitely getting harder and harder

  • SEO is change completely and be very dynamic these days. To see these kind of changes the experts says that in future this may be more changes will seen. We have to prepare for that and try to take in process to all the search engines guide lines in our work.

    Informative Stuff ….

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