Produced by Jason Zagami

In today's Podcast I sit down with SEO Expert Chris Sheehy of Sidewalk Branding Co. to hear how search has changed over the years, and learn what you can do to stay competitive. 

Podcast Transcript

My experience pre-dates google which is kind of always interesting and always kinda scary at the same time. As a matter of fact I remember when Google made the cover of Time Magazine, and at that time they were talking about all this new technology and these new young smart guys, and all I kept thinking was, we already had Alta-Vista and Yahoo. Boy, Google we don’t need anything like that. That’s a stupid idea!

[ Jason Zagami ]

That’s Chris Sheey, the President of Sidewalk Branding Co. A Search Engine Optimization Firm in Rhode Island and my go-to expert on all things SEO related.

He’s been published , cited, quoted, and misquoted over the years. He’s received numerous accolades. He teaches an SEO course at the Rhode Island School of Design, RISD and he’s also on the Technical & Curriculum Advisory Committee at New England Tech.

Today I ask Chris how Voice has changed Search, what it means, and how you can use it for a competitive advantage.

In 2011 Google launched Voice Action on it’s Chrome Browser allowing users to search the web by talking instead of typing.

Unlike typing a search query, users don’t use modifiers such at the plus-minus sign or quotations. Voice search also has to contend with Homonyms, words that sound the same but have different meanings such as the number eight, and ate as in to eat something.

In order to provide lightning fast relevant results, Google would need to understand your intent. When you search for something, using advanced A.I. to interpret context to predict what you’re intending to find.

This advancement allows content creators to create content optimized for the viewer and not the search engine.

[ Chris ]

The customer comes first. Everything needs to be written for them. Write it for the consumer, write it to be read. Write it to be consumed, more than write it for search engines. Backfill with the details later and make it technically appropriate. And I think it’s now a lot easier to say that now than it was a few years ago.

[ Jason Zagami ]

Since visibility on search can make or break your earnings, executives are far more informed than they were just a few years ago.

A positive trend I’m happy to see is  improved organization of information. Different products, services and topics each need their own web page.

[ Chris ]

A few years back, boy these infinite scroll websites. Essentially it’s single page website where you click on looks like navigation links but it just brought you to different segment of the page.

They were really really cool and they were trendy and they were sexy and they moved a lot, but they were awful for SEO because all of your keyword phrasing was stuck on one page. Instead of having an average of 300 to 700 words on a page, which is great for SEO, you ended up with a 1,100, 1,200 word webpage that has multiple themes and Google couldn’t figure it out. So your ability to show up on Google searches was really limited.

[ Jason Zagami ]

As search evolves it becomes more intuitive and natural. Break it down and you’ll see no matter what, every search is ultimately looking for an answer. A real answer. So when creating content start there.

[ Chris ]

SEO in the future is headed in artificial intelligence. Being more intuitive as I mentioned earlier. It’s going to continue to evolve away from being brochure based and really more toward what your customers need. If your SEO efforts are done in a way that answers peoples questions, and I’m going to paraphrase that by saying you have to do some research to understand how people are searching.

Some of the data that I mentioned from Google Search Console gives us search query data. If you’re writing content that answers that search query, and if there’s five search queries that answer the same questions, you’re answering the search query that historically has the most search volume, meaning the most intent. That’s really where you need to be headed. 

That’s where we are now. Get away from hammering stuff.  Get away from talking about yourself. Your efforts in the future are all going to be about answering peoples questions. Providing them answers to their solutions.

[ Jason Zagami ]

When writing to answer questions, the first few words and sentences are the most important to catch readers attention. Look at how search results display, or sound read by Google Assistant and consider that when writing.

[ Chris Sheehy ]

Lead with your Keyword because no body ready that stuff. Everybody just skimms it. So, some of the best advise is don’t get too technical. Understand what you’re doing and understand how does a user read those search results. Nobody reads all those ten results. They skim it, so write your narative to be skimmed.

[ Jason Zagami ]

What are the two things most people get wrong when it comes to SEO. The first is, choosing effective keywords. Learn to use tools such as Google’s Search Console, Google Trends and BuzzSumo. Ranking for a low volume keyword is easy, but won’t increase traffic to your website.

[ Chris Sheehy ]

They’re targeting the wrong words.  Too many people focus… and again I’ve mentioned keywords a lot. Again getting back to the genesis of this is get away from the Search Engine Optimization and get into why I have a business is that people are searching for things. So knowing that people are searching for things, too many businesses focus on… Listen, from every business I’ve ever spoken with there isn’t one of them that couldn’t give me ten keywords that they know for sure they need to rank for… Not a single one of them got it right.

[ Jason Zagami ]

Here’s the other thing people most often get wrong - wasting resources trying to optimize every page.

What do you do? Ugh!

[ Chris Sheehy ]

Alright. Don’t stress about it. Right? Here’s the secret. Not every page of your website really needs optimization. I would love to have a client that says “I want you to optimize every page of my website”. But the reality is they don’t.

[ Jason Zagami ]

When it comes to optimizing, if you just follow a few simple rules, you’ll outpace your competitors in no time.

Choose the right keywords. Answer customers questions. Write to be skimmed, and don’t do too much.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Start small. Prioritize your most important pages and go from there as you have time.

If you follow these simple steps, you’ll climb up the search page before you know it.


Sidewalk Branding Co.

Free SEO Grading Tool

Google Search Console

Google Keyword Planner

Google Trends

Jason Zagami on Twitter



Music Credit

Mixtape Techno-Pop 80-90's