Interview with Eric Enge @ Stone Temple Consulting

Interview with Eric Enge

Hello Marketers! Welcome to another edition of TechWyse Interviews!

It's always good to catch-up with our friend Eric Enge! If you are not familiar with him or Stone Temple Consulting, here’s a quick quote from a fantastic personality in the search industry!

“Don’t tie yourself up in knots worrying about who’s accomplishing what around you and whether they’re perceived to be better than you or not. The only challenge you need to solve is how you make yourself better every day.” - Eric Enge

Eric Enge is the founder and CEO of the award-winning Stone Temple SEO agency, which is now part of Perficient Digital. With an extensive background in the SEO, Eric is a well-respected figure in the search world -- all thanks to his contribution to the knowledge base of the Industry.

Eric has keynoted in major conferences, including SMX, State of Search, PubCon, Next10X, IRCE, Digital Growth Unleashed, and many others. Eric is also the co-author of “ The Art of SEO”, along with Rand Fishkin, Stephan Spencer, and Jessie Stricchiola. The book is widely used in many university courses.

Enough from us! Let’s hear it from Eric.

1) Hi Eric, Happy to be featuring you again in our TechWyse Interviews series. We had a fantastic session with you back in 2014. What has changed for you since then?

The main change is that we sold the company to Perficient in July of 2018. So now we’re part of a public company (NASDAQ: PRFT) with 3,200 employees. That’s a big change!

2) What was the inspiration for writing ‘ The Art of SEO’? How much did you enjoy it, and how did that turn out for you?

I was actually the last author added to the team to help write the book. Stephan Spencer came to me at SES Chicago in 2008 and asked me if I was interested in joining a team that included him, Rand Fishkin, and Jess Stricchiola. With a line up like that, how could I refuse?

3) Podcasts seem to have limitless growth, and I personally love yours! Do you expect this trend to continue, or is there something new on the horizon?

I do plan to continue the ‘Here’s Why’ video series. It’s a great deal of fun to do, and I get to speak with so many interesting people in the process. I do think that podcasts and videos will continue to grow. More than half of visits on the web come from mobile devices, and videos and podcasts are great formats to deliver content over mobile.

4) What is the most annoying SEO misconception you have come across?

The thing that annoys me the most is that as soon as someone thinks of something that Google could possibly use as a ranking signal, they begin to assume that it’s true. There are tons of potential signals that Google could use that don’t work that well in practice.

For example, for years, people assumed that social media signals, such as shares and likes, were used by Google as a ranking signal. Over the past few years, we’ve seen that even the social media sites have deprecated those signals - they don’t show share and like counts anymore. If they don’t see value in them, how can we expect that Google would?

5) Which algorithm change do you think had the biggest impact this year?

In March of 2018, Google began releasing a series of Core Algorithm updates. Those have all appeared to be targeted at rewarding sites with the richest mix of depth and breadth of content. It’s all about satisfying the largest possible percentage of users. More on this point in my response to number 10 below!

A well-thought-out SEO strategy is a must-have for sites of any size and scale. What’s your secret SEO-tactic?

I’m not sure how super-secret this idea is. I think that Google has told us over and over again what their priority is. They want to list the sites that do the best job of meeting user’s needs. Given this information, we know where they’re focusing all of their energies.

6) Why does Google care so much about the user? Because satisfying the user drives their revenue and market share for them.

So how can we capitalize on that? By being highly focused on the user with our websites too. If we do this well, and as Google’s algorithms improve, they are more likely to reward us. This focus on the user is far easier said than done, and I’ll discuss that later on.

7) How can a small business get found via local search marketing with a limited marketing budget?

There are three basic things to do:

  • Ensure that you have good content on your site that helps users and provides a great user experience.
  • Contract with Yext, Moz Local, or a similar service to help you get your local listings to show correctly in business listing directories. This is a must, and while it costs some money, it’s money well spent.
  • Be active in your local community. Do the types of things that will get your business talked about and linked to by other local businesses and organizations.

8) Everyone’s talking about ‘mobile-first’ and ‘mobile-only’ design for e-commerce. Do you think websites need to be device agnostic?

I’m not sure that I would say device-agnostic, but it does make sense to continue to pay close attention to your desktop site too. For most businesses, more than half of your conversions occur on the desktop environment. That would seem to suggest that your desktop website remains critically important!

9) What is your take on AI in digital marketing? Will AI replace human SEO experts?

I don’t see AI replacing human experts anytime soon. The process of developing AI algorithms is far more complicated than people think, and this is something that will unfold over many decades before it matures.

10) What is the most significant trend in SEO you’re expecting in the future?

Satisfying human needs is very complex. For SEO experts to succeed at this, they need to change their approach to content. Traditionally, SEO professionals have focused on producing content for high volume keywords only.

However, true SEO experts understand what the long tail of search teaches us - that most of the opportunity lies in low volume keywords. What this means is that satisfying a larger percentage of users means going well beyond just creating content for the high volume keywords.

To succeed, website owners need to rethink their approach to content and the overall user experience on their sites.

Start by learning what all those specific user needs are. Talk to your customer service to learn what they are hearing. Ask customers yourself. Run polls on your website. Do whatever it takes to get the information you need to build out a truly comprehensive content plan.

You might find that you need to increase the number of content pages on your website by 10x. Then. Go. Do. It.

Thank you, Enge, for taking the time to share your insights!

Love reading insights from marketing specialists? Check out our past interviews! If there is someone you’d like to see interviewed on the TechWyse blog, be sure to leave a comment below!

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