Today, we are glad to invite our brand ambassador for the United States – Bill Hartzer. Bill is an independent SEO Consultant and has over 20 years of direct SEO experience. He is known worldwide for his research about New gTLD domain names, as well as Dot Brand domain names. Frequent speaker at different search engine marketing conferences like SMX or PubCon, he also writes for different search marketing blogs and he owns one. In this interview, we will discuss his experience and recommandations. The full interview is available as a Youtube video at the end of the article.
Why and how did you start in the SEO world?
“Back in 1996, I started a resume database company. I gathered resumes on the internet, from placing newspaper ads, and via several other methods. I converted all of those resumes into Adobe Acrobat format (PDF), put them on a CD, and made them searchable. I hand-coded a website to sell the resume database to recruiters, head hunters, and HR departments. The website was fairly successful in bringing in free traffic from the search engines, and I quickly was able to take advantage of good search engine rankings to drive traffic and sales. As a technical writer for a computer software company as my day job, I learning a lot of HTML coding, and moved into more of a webmaster-type of roll. That quickly turned into my handling of the company intranet, and doing SEO in-house for the company, in 9 different languages. My in-house SEO experience and success there allowed me to move into the agency world in 2004, about the time that I founded the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM.org). Over the years, I’ve held various roles as SEO Manager, SEO Director, Senior SEO, and Senior VP of a Digital Marketing agency. Since then, I’ve started my own SEO consulting business.”
You have witnessed several Google updates over the years. Is there one you remember in particular and why?
“Over the years, I have seen a lot of Google updates, and even seen updates before Google. I remember the Altavista.com updates every morning at 8:30am Central Standard Time. If you added or optimized a web page before 8:30am, you were able to see great search engine rankings all day, until the next day.
The most notable Google updates, though, have been two: the Penguin update(s), that impacted links. Businesses were literally “held hostage” so to speak even after they had completely cleaned up the links to their website. Even after cleaning up their bad, low quality links (oftentimes done by previous SEO firms), they couldn’t recover their search engine rankings until Google updated their algorithm. It impacted so many small and medium sized businesses, who either closed their doors or laid off employees. I cleaned up a ton of links and link profiles for clients during that time, and even had several clients leave because a link cleanup wasn’t enough. Luckily most of them came back once Google did their update.
The other most notable Google algorithm update that I recall was the Exact Match Domain update—which was rolled out on a Saturday morning. I got calls from clients who lost all of their traffic from organic search suddenly, and it was a lot of work to get those clients’ search engine rankings back.”
You have been working on gTLD domain names for years. What would be the 3 main lookout points when picking a gTLD domain name?
“When it comes to domain names, what I look for when choosing a domain name is this: the perfect domain name for that business or website. In most industries, the ideal .COM domain name is already being used for a website. A good alternative, one that describes what the business sells, may be acquired in another TLD, such as one of the new gTLDs. It may be available, or it can be purchased. Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to be a keynote speaker and speaker at domain name and internet/search marketing conferences not only in the USA but outside of the USA. What I have learned is that Americans tend to be ‘biased’ when it comes to TLDs such as .COM. In countries outside of the USA, there is no .COM bias. In fact, some of the ccTLDs (Country Code TLDs) are pre prevalent. There are several points, though, that you should look for when picking a domain name:
Does the domain name accurately describe your business? If someone sees the domain name in the search results, will they click on your search engine listing, knowing what your business does before they get to your website?
Does the domain name include your primary keyword or keywords that describe your business? Are you a Divorce Attorney? Then www.divorce.attorney or www.divorceattorney.com would be the ideal domain name for your website.
Do you have a current domain name that’s long or less-than- ideal? Is there a domain name that’s better (shorter, more descriptive) that you can move to?”
Is there any particular subject you would like to focus on this year and why?
“There aren’t any particular subjects that I would like to focus on during 2018. However, on-page SEO and on-site SEO is the “subject” that I am going to focus on. I have found that in many cases where a website isn’t ranking as well as they should, their on-page SEO and content could be improved. I know one website in particular that has more links, longer history of links, more trust, and overall should be ranking well for certain keywords. Adding to and refreshing the content on certain pages, getting the page re-crawled, resulted in better rankings. Too many website owners are still obsessed with getting more links to their websites when that may or may not be the issue they are having. It all may come down to the content on their site, and whether or not it’s optimized and up to today’s standards.”
A secret SEO tip you would like to share with us?
“I am not sure if this is a secret SEO tip or not, but it goes along with my previous mention of on-page and on-site content. Look at the websites that are currently ranking for your keyword.
Look at how much content they have on the page that is ranking, and see if you can expand upon or create more content than the pages that are ranking. In many cases, I have found that expanding the content, marking it up properly, and making it better for visitors can help get better search engine rankings.”
How it feels to be one of an OnCrawl ambassador? And what is your most favorite feature?
“I am very honored to be one of the first OnCrawl ambassadors. I have been using OnCrawl for a while now, and it has had a direct impact on all of the websites that I have been able to analyze. I have been able to get insights into data that I normally wouldn’t be able to see—which is important for the technical SEO audits that I do on a regular basis.
The most important feature (or features) is the log file analysis. I am able to see a lot more data and gather more information about a website’s visitors and crawlers than I can see in Google Analytics. With Google’s Mobile First rolling out, it’s important to understand how mobile crawlers are crawling your website, and which pages they are crawling. Also, information like 404 errors, redirects, and views of .PDF files can help diagnose search engine ranking problems as well as recover lost traffic. Orphaned web pages can be seen, oftentimes left behind during website redesigns.”
It has been a real pleasure to talk with Bill about his career, goals and best practices. Bill has also written an article to talk about our partnership and how he is daily using OnCrawl. Feel free to read it here.
In the meantime, you can see the full interview below: