Search Engine Mastery with Stephan Spencer

Ep #145: Search Engine Mastery with Stephan Spencer

Stephan SpencerHeard the comment that “SEO is dead?” – guess again! Stephan Spencer, co-author of the 1,000 page tome, The Art of SEO, explains why search engine optimization is still one of the most important and flexible ways to drive traffic to your content online. This episode is packed with takeaways that will boost your traffic.

Stephan Spencer is an internationally recognized SEO expert and bestselling author. He is a co-author of the definitive tome on SEO, the 1000-page The Art of SEO: Master Search Engine Optimizationand has spoken at conferences around the country about traffic-building strategies.

In this interview, Stephan and I talk in depth about SEO and how it’s changing as technology evolves. Stephan also shares some of his favorite tools for optimizing your site, and we talk about how today’s SEO relies more than ever on psychology and persuasion.

Stephan is an SEO expert, consultant, and author who has spoken at hundreds of Internet marketing events, including all the major search & e-commerce conferences (SES, PubCon, and Internet Retailer to name a few).

Stephan is also the creator of Traffic Control, a three-day seminar on SEO, and the host of two podcast shows, The Optimized Geek and Marketing Speak.

SEO is a crucial tool for maximizing the impact and reach of your site, so don’t miss this chance to hear from an expert.

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are still feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • Why the claim “SEO is dead” is false, yet often deployed as click-bait.
  • Why you absolutely must think of SEO before you build your website – and the time-consuming consequences if you don’t.
  • Whether or not it’s necessary to optimize for search engines other than Google.
  • Some of Stephan’s favorite SEO tools, and the low-down on Google’s new RankBrain algorithm.
  • Why your SEO must focus on the right metrics, (i.e. dwell time) rather than unnecessary ones (like bounce rate).
  • How social media engagement and the “linkerati” influence the links that Google pays attention to when optimizing search.

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Welcome to The Brainfluence podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker, and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger:       Welcome to The Brainfluence Podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. I’ve known this week’s guest for years as we’re both regular speakers at Pubcon, the world’s top digital marketing conference. Stephan Spencer is an expert in search engine optimization and digital marketing. In the early days of the internet, way back in 1995, he founded Netconcepts. In 2010, he sold the business to Covario which a few years later was acquired by the big agency Dentsu Aegis.

These days, Stephan continues his digital marketing efforts as a consultant to companies like Zappos, and Bed Bath and Beyond, and as a producer of seminars and multiple podcasts. His book is “The Art of SEO,” co-authored with Eric Enge and Jessie Stricchiola. It was first issued in 2009, and it’s now in its third edition, and it has the unique distinction of being the biggest, heaviest volume in my business book library. It’s almost a thousand pages long, and it weighs in, according to Amazon, at least 3.7 pounds.

The Art of SEO isn’t just massive. It’s both comprehensive and authoritative, and I’ve got exciting news. Later on, Stephan will tell you how you can get a free electronic copy of this book, and it will not weigh 3.7 pounds. Stephan, welcome to the show.

Stephan:    Thanks for having me, Roger.

Roger:       Stephan, did you and your co-authors set out to write a thousand-page book, or did it just grow and turned out that way?

Stephan:    Yeah. No, it didn’t start out that way. In fact, it started out as a completely different book and with a different co-author. Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, formerly known as SEO Moz, he and I decided to write a book together, and it was an O’Reilly book. It was part of their Cookbook Series, so it was the SEO Cookbook, and just … I don’t know. Five chapters into the book, we’re really, really bucking through creating this book and our editor at O’Reilly said, “Hey, why don’t you join forces with Jessie who’s writing The Art of SEO and …? She really could use some help,” so we abandoned the SEO Cookbook and started work on The Art of SEO with Jessie, and then I recruited Eric later on like a year in.

For the second and third editions … Actually, on the first and second edition, Rand stayed on as an author, but then he got too busy, so he’s no longer an author on the third edition. All these different things happen, but yeah, it ended up being a thousand-page book with this latest edition. The previous edition was 250 pages less than that. Hopefully, with the fourth edition, which we’ll probably start on in the next few months, it won’t be 1,250 pages. Who knows what …? In 2030, it could be a 5,000-page tomb. I can’t tell you.

Roger:       That’s quite in volume of information for a topic that every year or so, somebody comes out and publishes a major article explaining why SEO is dead, so I guess SEO is not dead yet?

Stephan:    In fact, I wrote an article debunking that. I’m so irritated by people saying SEO is dead. It’s just to get page views and to get some buzz happening. It’s anything but dead. Search engines are the fastest way from point A to point B, and if you haven’t figured out how to optimize your website for search engines, you’re dead on arrival.

Roger:       Yeah, I’m sure that you’re right. I think that there’s always some type of rationale out there because whenever, things really change. Really, I think what some of these folks are saying beyond just trying to create click bait and get some page views is they’re not saying that SEO is dead, but what they’re saying is that what used to work in SEO is dead, and now we’re going to have to learn new stuff or at least change the way we do things because the old stuff is dead or it’s on its way to dying.

Stephan:    Yeah, so that I agree with, and then they’re just using a really bait-and-switch sort of way of labeling their article. I wrote for Search Engine Land, “SEO is not dead, and here’s why, and here are the things that you need to know about SEO.” That I published a couple months ago. That was pretty well received, so I would recommend don’t read the articles about SEO is dead, but instead, read my article about why it’s not dead and why you need to focus your energies on it and not worry about the fact that SEO is constantly changing because everything is constantly changing. Everything in technology is changing, and it’s advancing at a faster and faster clip. It’s called the “law of accelerating returns.” That’s why computers are halving in price and doubling in processing speed every 18 months and everything around that as well, so you just need to keep up.

Roger:       Yeah, so it must be really frustrating though to write a huge book like this or even to co-write it. By the time the book is hitting the pressers, there’s got to be some stuff in there that you’re saying, “Oh man, that’s already out of date,” because as you say, it’s constantly changing. Did you, and Eric, and Jessie try to do some things to keep the content as evergreen as possible?

Stephan:    Yeah. As best as we can. We’re not going to constantly have a real-time book, but we …

Roger:       There might be a business opportunity there.

Stephan:    Yeah. You don’t get paid a lot of money for writing …

Roger:       Sign up for … Sign up for weekly updates.

Stephan:    Perhaps, but I think I’d probably earn minimum wage doing that. If you look at what you earn, putting in all that time writing a book, and updating it, it’s probably minimum wage. You get [crosstalk 00:06:09]. Yeah, yeah.

Roger:       No, I know exactly what you mean. I can share your experience.

Stephan:    As an author, you saw … Yeah, yeah. I don’t want to spend too much time on the updates. It is an inordinate amount of time, but you always have those things happen where you go to publish, and then something changes. Luckily, we haven’t hit just as horrible example. Yet, we came very close. We were talking about MSN Live, and then they rebranded to Bing, we just got the changes in in time.

They were going to go to press, and then Microsoft announced the name change and like, “No, no, no, no, no. We cannot publish. You have to change all mentions about MSN Search …” or was it Live Search at the time? I think … Yeah, Live Search to Bing. Otherwise, the book is going to be immediately obsolete and all the screenshots too, and so we delayed the publication date an extra few weeks, and we snuck in all those changes. Thank goodness because that book would have been just completely useless. Even though all of the information was still valid, with the name change, people wouldn’t take it seriously.

Roger:       No. You’d lose credibility of [gap and nomenclature 00:07:23] in that big of a way.

Stephan:    Yeah.

Roger:       Stephan, let me tell you my SEO story. I got involved in the late ‘90s when AltaVista was king, and that was when on-page optimization was really all accounted. If you had the formula right for the title, and meta tags, and the page content, you could put any phrase in the top spot in AltaVista in 48 hours, and that was really fun I guess if you were trying to boost your e-commerce site or whatever, but it really wasn’t all that good for the searchers or the users because the relevance wasn’t that good, but then link analysis came along, and that changed the game a little bit, and then finally, Google came along with its page rank which was a much more sophisticated way of counting and weighting links, and that really revolutionized the business.

Let’s skip over the 15 years or whatever of intervening time. If I’m a new business today or maybe I’m an author or a blogger getting started and I want to generate organic search traffic, what really counts today? Obviously, the … I guess the on-page stuff is still important, but there’s a lot more involved. What are the top factors today?

Stephan:    Yeah, so links are absolutely critical. It cannot survive as far as SEO without really great links. These are links that are authoritative. They’re important. They’re trust-worthy. If you don’t have a decent amount of link authority flowing into your site, you’re dead in the water, so you absolutely need to have good link authority. As you said, the on-page factors still matter. I guess table stakes is the way I’d describe it. You can’t create a search-engine-unfriendly website and be successful.

It’s like if you think about SEO as an afterthought like, “Oh, yeah. We should SEO our site now that we’ve built it and launched it.” That’s a terrible idea. That’s like building a house, and after the fact, you’re realizing that you didn’t wire it for electrical. Now, you got to tear out the drywall, and you’re going to have to put the wiring in, and you have to patch up the drywall. Very expensive. Very painful experience. You want to think about SEO before you’ve built all the different functionality, and done all the wire framing, and the mockups, and the development site, and everything.

Roger:       Right. I can sympathize with that. For years, my company offered SEO services, and I would periodically get a call from a large client saying, “Hey, we just published the new version of our site. Can you take a look at it and see if it needs anything?” It’s like … I just can’t believe it. This is a major company that should know better and especially should know better having been told the last time they published a site without any SEO effort put in on the frontend. It’s just crazy. It’s sad, but perhaps, even today, things haven’t changed all that much, but I guess that’s … SEO tends to be an afterthought.

You talked about link authority flowing into your site. I know there are tools that you can use to evaluate that. For our listeners, are there any free tools that would give them a rough idea of that or some sort of limited access to that information?

Stephan:    Yeah, so there are a lot of premium tools where they’ll give you some information for free and the good stuff. They hold back, and you have to pay for on a subscription basis. I have a ton of favorite tools. Let’s start with the link analysis side of things, and then I’ll give you some other types of tools as well like competitive intelligence, SEO tools, and things like that.

For link analysis, Majestic is very good. Open Site Explorer from Moz, so that’s a tool. They all give you some information for free like you can get a sense for the overall authority of a site or a page just by putting in the URL. If you want to see all the backlinks, you want to see the anchor text to those links, you want to see how authoritative each of those linking pages is and the sites, then you’re going to start paying for subscriptions for those sorts of things.

Now, one of my favorite toolsets for link analysis … I love all of the three that I mentioned, but in particular, is amazing, and there is no free features there. You do have to pay for that, and that is a little bit pricey as far as the other tools are concerned. It’s the priciest of them. Yeah, those are link analysis tools. If we’re talking now about competitive intelligence, then we could look at SEMrush which is fantastic and also Searchmetrics. These are amazing tools, but I probably use dozens of tools on a daily basis for SEO.

Roger:       Right. We don’t have to go totally down the tools rabbit hole, but there are some good ideas there for our listeners, and we will link to the tools you mentioned in the show notes. One question I guess that I have is whether it is necessary to worry about search engines other than Google, and Google has such a high market share. If you’re doing everything right for Google, are you essentially okay for Bing and anybody else, or is it worth looking specifically what you can do on these other platforms?

Stephan:    Bing and Yahoo are really the … I don’t want to like say this in a derogatory way, but second tier search engines. Their algorithms are not as advanced. In fact, Yahoo doesn’t have their own separate algorithm. They’re powered by Bing, so you’re just talking about Bing’s algorithm appearing with a Yahoo skin to it. If you’re trying to optimize for Bing, you could end up undoing some of your optimization for Google because you can get away with stuff on Bing that you can’t get away with … on Google, so you might take liberties and be a little bit more grey hat with Bing, and then you just shut yourself on the foot. I say focus on Google, and anything that’s Bing or Yahoo benefit from your activities are … It’s gravy.

Roger:       Right.

Stephan:    It’s a bonus. Don’t focus on it so much. In fact, in reality, the number two search engine is not Bing. It’s not Yahoo. It’s YouTube, so it’s another Google-owned property. If you care about being highly positioned and have a great presence in the number two search engine, you need to build out your YouTube presence. Have a great channel page. Have some great videos. All those videos need to be optimized, the titles, the descriptions, tags, the thumbnail image. All that stuff needs to be highly optimized for the number two search engine for YouTube, and then the number three search engine is actually Amazon.

Roger:       Hmm, interesting. I have actually taken your advice. One thing that I’ve been doing just for a few episodes … I’ve got a few test episodes, and in the last couple of episodes, almost in a real-time publication is we turned these audio podcasts into YouTube videos with a static background, but with captions. Since we do a human-generated transcript from each show, the captions are actually pretty good compared to say the auto-generated YouTube captions that aren’t horrible if the speakers have good enunciation, but the human-generated captions, YouTube figures out how to apply very well to the audio, and so it’s really handy.

I like it so that I can listen when I’m … Say if I’m working on my computer, I can Chromecast the podcast to my TV in the room, and it can be playing completely independent of my computer, and then I got some feedback from non-English speaking listeners who really appreciate the captions accompanying the audio because … I don’t know if you speak any foreign languages, Stephan. I speak a little bit of Spanish, and I have difficulty processing spoken Spanish in real-time. In other words, I can’t quite sync up with the speaker in many cases. With those captions, it becomes a lot easier to process what the person is saying without having to slow down or back up, so that’s a side benefit, but we’ll see. I didn’t really have SEO as my primary objective, but we’ll see. Maybe it will have … Maybe it will help.

Stephan:    Yeah, that’s awesome. I love how you took fast action. We had a nice little session at … What was it? SMX East? Was it? Where …?

Roger:       No, that was Pubcon.

Stephan:    At Pubcon, where you had shown up in the session, and it was a … What was it? A SEO clinic, and we …

Roger:       Yeah, yeah. A site review, and I got to tell you, Stephan. Now, I was reluctant to do that because … I forgot who’s on the panel. I think Eric was there, and you, and a couple of other really … some of the top SEO folks on the planet and exposing my site in all its lack of glory to that group. I was really expecting to be horribly embarrassed, and it wasn’t too bad. I got some good feedback, and after, I’ve done some of it, and I’ve seen some improvements in metrics.

I haven’t necessarily seen a change in organic traffic, but I had an issue with weird spurious pages from tagged indexes and whatnot that were really inflating the amount of content on the site without providing any benefit. By scaling that back now, I think it’s going to work better, and in … We’ll see. We’ll see, but I appreciated the input from you guys and also, for not embarrassing me too bad in front of the audience.

Stephan:    I think it’s very courageous of you to volunteer your site in front of an audience and have a panel of experts tear it apart in a gentle way. That’s awesome and everybody learned from each other, so you being a willing volunteer allowed the people who were too scared to benefit as well because they got to see the kind of advice applied in a real-world scenario. Yeah, good for you.

Roger:       One thing I’ve been hearing about lately is RankBrain. What is RankBrain, Stephan?

Stephan:    Yeah. RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm, and there’s so much conjecture around what RankBrain is. The problem us SEOs have is there’s no real visibility into the algorithm. In fact, even for engineers who work at Google, there’s no real visibility into it because it’s machine learning. It learns from itself, so you don’t know what the signals end up being that Google pays attention to when we’re talking about machine learning algorithms. It’s all very opaque, and a black box.

What you can figure out though reverse-engineering things is what works and what doesn’t work with a new algorithm, so SEO is still valid even though this machine learning algorithm makes things very opaque and it’s … RankBrain is specific to the understanding of the intent of search queries, whereas … I’m certain that they’re working on really advanced machine learning artificial intelligence type algorithms for understanding the quality of pages and websites, and relevance of pages and websites to search queries and so forth.

We might have noticed that Google is just getting better and better over time at understanding the intent of what you’re searching for so you don’t have to be as specific and as precise about your search query like you could formulate it as a question and those words in the query don’t have to appear in the text of the article, right? You could ask a question like you’d ask a friend, and most of those words wouldn’t even appear in the article itself that answers the question, and that’s thanks to RankBrain.

Suffice it to say from an SEO practitioner’s point of view, you just need to keep a very experimental approach to SEO and figure out what works by poking and prodding at the black box, and the black box is getting more and more opaque as time goes on.

Roger:       Mm-hmm (affirmative). Really, it’s not like a site owner can optimize for RankBrain. Really, the focus should be on quality content, good links, and so on, and that … rather than trying to somehow hack a totally opaque algorithm.

Stephan:    There are a couple things that I would say you can do because Google is so much better at understanding these search queries. Like for example, you can focus more on question-based queries like there are tools that are completely free like You can put in your primary keyword, and then it will give you a whole bunch of different questions based on like who, what, where, when, why.

It will give you a bunch of questions that are search queries that people type in to Google based around that keyword, so you could target question-based search queries that you aren’t targeting before. You can start answering questions that you weren’t thinking about answering before that you’re just thinking about, “I’m trying to match this keyword to this page.” Now, you can sync a little bit more outside the box.

Roger:       It makes sense. We’re just talking about Pubcon. At that one, I did a master class in neuromarketing, but I also did a shorter talk that was titled “The Neuroscience of SEO” which Brett Tabke, the organizer, surprised me with. I got an email saying, “Hey, you’re doing this talk,” so okay, and I was initially stymied saying, “Okay. Well, what does neuroscience have to do with SEO?” and then I started thinking about it.

As we’ve been discussing, SEO has gone from this pure mechanical or mathematical manipulation of page content to something that’s a lot more nuanced that involves relevant links, authority links, social sharing, and user engagement, and some of those we haven’t really talked about, but all of those seem to be involved in the way pages are ranked, and so what that means is … or what that meant to me when I was thinking about this is that the human factor is paramount now that you can’t just hack the algorithm anymore, and decode it, and start using that.

Now, you have to hack the minds of your users. You have to hack the minds of searchers. You have to do that for people who you may want to interact with you, or link to you, or … It’s really become much more a process of psychology, and influence, and persuasion than that old mathematical manipulation, so would you agree with that or feel free to push back on that?

Stephan:    Yeah. No, I would agree with it. I would say you got to watch the right metrics though because some people are saying, “Well, bounce rate matters now because user engagement. We have to engage the users. Otherwise, we’re going to suck in Google.” That’s true, but they’re watching the wrong things because bounce rate isn’t something that Google is paying attention to. They’re paying attention to dwell time, and those are very different metrics.

Dwell time is when … Let’s say as a user, you see a search result, you click on it, and you end up on the site and didn’t answer the question, so you hit the “Back” button. Yeah, the bounce rate is lousy, but Google is not spying on you with their Google Analytics access or something. They’re just paying attention to dwell time, so that is where the person hits the “Back” button, and then clicks on a different search result, and then Google is able to measure the gap and time between those two clicks and say, “Oh, wow. This person probably didn’t get a good answer to their question, their query from this particular page because now, they’re right back at the search results clicking on something else.” Google does track the clicks on the search results, but they’re not spying on your Google Analytics and seeing what your bounce rate is.

Roger:       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stephan:    Yeah. User engagement matters, but measure the right metrics.

Roger:       Right. Yeah. I recall back in the … That was a few years ago when Google cracked down all these really lousy content generation sites like eHow and others. EHow seemed to evade their net initially at least, and my non-expert conclusion on that was that they actually kept you on the site for a while because you’d get to one of their articles about how to install a ceiling fan, and it would be some ridiculous one paragraph of content like, “Unscrew the old fixture, and screw in the new fixture.”

You’d say, “Well, this is garbage,” but then you’d see a link right under that saying, “Detailed instructions of how to install a ceiling fan,” and that would take you to something else which was probably inadequate as well, but by the time you’d hit the fourth page and said, “Okay, this site is not really what I need to be looking at,” you already wasted a few minutes on the site and Google said, “Wow, that’s pretty good.” Yeah.

Stephan:    Yeah, so it’s like voicemail maze. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, those are horrible, and that will come back to bite a site that’s applying that sort of methodology. They do that in part because it maximizes their monetization from ad revenue, so if you create let’s say a 30-item list, and you spread it out across 30 pages, and then make it into a “slideshow,” it’s just irritating as heck, but that’s a heck of a lot more ad impressions that they can sell because they’ve done that.

Roger:       Oh, yeah. I hate those.

Stephan:    That’s very short-term, and Google is evaluating not just user engagement, but also using its own interpretation algorithms to understand whether your page is built for adding value, or for gaming the user, or gaming the search engine, so play in a long game for sure.

Roger:       Yeah, so we talked about user engagement. What about social media? That’s something that seems to be an item of controversy even among experts as to whether Facebook likes, or Twitter shares, or those kinds of metrics have any impact on ranking either directly or indirectly.

Stephan:    Yeah, so there is no direct signal there that Google uses. If you think about it like how would Google know all the different likes that are happening inside the Facebook ecosystem? It’s a closed ecosystem. The majority of Facebook pages or content within Facebook isn’t even in Google, right? It’s not exposed to Google bot, so how would you know, if you’re Google, what’s being liked and what’s not being liked if that’s a walled garden for the most part? Also, it’s something that’s a lot easier gamed than links. It’s a lot easier to get likes than it is to get links, and so they’re … Google is looking at signals that are not easily gamed, that have legitimacy to them, so social signals … Yeah, not so reliable.

Roger:       Right,

Stephan:    Yet, there’s this indirect thing that happens where if you get a lot of social spread like you get a lot of reach within a social network, then you’re going to get in front of a lot more of the linkerati. The linkerati are online influencers who have a lot of authority in the eyes of Google, a lot of link authority.

Roger:       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stephan:    If you get in front of a lot of those folks and they decided to add a link to their site to blog about you, write a review about you, or whatever, that’s amazing, and social communities are fantastic for getting in front of the linkerati, especially when you’re talking about certain niche communities. You could even do ad campaigns as a way to get in front of those communities, right? Facebook advertising can be very effective. You can laser target certain niche groups, audience segments, and get the word out about something really cool that deserves links. If you don’t have something link-worthy, you’re not going to go anywhere with it, but how do you get the initial word out on something that is link-worthy? Social media is like the first place to start.

Roger:       Yeah, so that’s why there may be some apparent correlation like, “Gee, this article had 5,000 likes, and it’s ranking better than expected in Google.” It was probably not the likes that drove it, but it was perhaps some of the link effects just from the traffic and the exposure that those likes generated.

Stephan:    Right, right. Each algorithm like whether you’re talking about Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or whatever, they’re all very different from each other, so you have to think about like for example, I was writing a post for Facebook, and it was just like three paragraphs, and I was sharing a YouTube video that I found that Jonathan Fields presented at the Inbound Conference, and it was a fantastic presentation. I was really touched by it and inspired by it.

I wanted to share it. I started down that road on Facebook. I wrote a few paragraphs, and I’m realizing, “Well, wait a second. This is going to get buried because the Facebook algorithm hates YouTube because they’re competitors. They’re arch-nemesis, so if I really want this to get maximum reach, I need to find an authoritative site to post this three-paragraph write-up and the YouTube embed on, and then link to that or post that on my Facebook feed.”

It’s a different sort of thought process, understanding the underlying algorithm. In this case, the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm and how it doesn’t like YouTube, so I, within a day, had 1,100 likes on that article because I posted it on The Huffington Post, so I abandoned the post I was writing on Facebook. I took those three paragraphs to turn them into five paragraphs, posted it to The Huffington Post with the YouTube embed, and then that’s what I submitted on Facebook. Before I even had a chance to submit it on my own Facebook, it had 1,100 likes, and then I submitted it like a day later on my Facebook page, and then I got an extra 400 likes.

I knew I was on the right track because of the likes and the engagement, the other engagement metrics, but just understanding what’s the reason behind the different decisions that the if-then statements that are baked into these algorithms. It’s really important because then you can use strategy instead of just being all tactical all the time.

Roger:       Mm-hmm (affirmative). That makes a lot of sense definitely, and I think probably too, it’s important to emphasize that even if that Facebook sharing does not generate better Google rankings, it may still generate traffic to your site where then you have an opportunity to convert, assuming that you have some kind of a conversion objective on the site, so it’s still valuable traffic in its own way, but you shouldn’t necessarily expect it to get you at the top of Google. How would you suggest that folks consume the art of SEO? It’s so massive. I’m doubting that most people would start at the very beginning and read it all the way through. If you had any feedback on that on how folks would use this?

Stephan:    Yeah. if you’re not like a techie, I would say start with chapter seven on content marketing and just get through that chapter because it’s not overly technical, and whatever your marketing strategy is, it will be influenced by that chapter, so you say, “Oh, wow. I didn’t think about it this way, or I could also leverage the content I’m already creating in a slightly different way so that it also benefits my SEO as well.” Right, or, “I could repackage a content piece that I was only going to do as an article, but I can do this now as … repackage it as like a SlideShare. I can repackage it as an infographic, as a viral video in these four or five different formats, and it’s the same content, just morphed a little bit, and then I’m going to get more SEO juice out of it than if I just had a one-off article.” I’d start there.

Roger:       Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great, so we’re just about out of time. Let me remind our listeners that we’re speaking with Stephan Spencer, SEO expert, entrepreneur, and co-author of The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization. Stephan, how can our listeners find you online? Also, I’ll remind you about … You mentioned that they could obtain a free e-copy of The Art of SEO.

[UPDATE: The free offer ended in February, 2017. Hope you were able to take advantage of it before then!]

Stephan:    Yes, yes. My publisher, O’Reilly, is very generous and awesome, and they have created a way for people who attend presentations, who attend podcasts that I speak at and so forth to get a free copy, electronic copy of the book. The way to get that is to go to a specific landing page on my website, and I’m giving that right now. It’s, and “Stephan Spencer” is spelled S-T-E-P-H-A-N and then S-P-E-N-C-E-R, so, and then the code on that … so fill out the form on that page, and the code to use is the word “brain,” all lower case, B-R-A-I-N, and then you will get further instructions. You’ll end up setting up a free account on the O’Reilly website, and then they’ll give you an electronic copy of the book.

[UPDATE: The free offer ended in February, 2017. Hope you were able to take advantage of it before then!]

Actually, you don’t have to get The Art of SEO. I have three books. The Art of SEO is one of them. I also co-authored Social eCommerce. If you’re more interested in learning about social media and leveraging it for driving online sales, get that book instead and that’s only a few hundred pages instead, or if you’re interested in leveraging Google for market research and just being a better Google searcher, then my third book is Google Power Search and that’s a really easy read. That’s only 72 pages, so one of any of those three books once you’ve signed up through those free book page.

Roger:       Great. We will link to that landing page as well as to the paper copy of The Art of SEO and any other resources we talked about, and we talked about quite a few interesting tools on the show notes page at We’ll have a text version of our conversation there too in a convenient PDF format. Stephan, thanks so much for being on the show.

Stephan:    Thanks for having me, Roger.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Brainfluence podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at


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  1. Sarah

    What an amazing offer! I have already grabbed the free e-book (of course) Thanx – And love your podcasts btw. Really love all this neuromarketing and find amazingly interesting and excited to see where technology and science will take us in the years to come 🙂
    Have a wonderful day 🙂

    • Roger Dooley
      Roger Dooley01-24-2017

      Thanks, Sarah, the feedback is greatly appreciated. We’ve got some great episodes coming up in the next few weeks! I hope to speak in Denmark someday, I have only seen the Copenhagen airport.

  2. Adam Roseland
    Adam Roseland03-10-2017

    The Free Ebook page is a 404 now… not great for SEO either 🙂

    • Roger Dooley
      Roger Dooley03-10-2017

      Adam, I was just informed that O’Reilly closed the free book offer a few days ago. Sorry you missed it!

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