Another Wednesday, another episode of our podcast! Are you ready for another dose of great tips?
Today I’m talking with Łukasz Żelezny, an SEO and Social Media conference speaker, an owner of Zelezny.uk and the head of organic acquisition at uSwitch.com. Lukasz is a hands-on person, he spends lots of his time keeping up to date with the changes in the technology of online marketing.
Listen to #17 episode to learn why SEO is important, which tools you should use, and how effectively rank your website to be on top of Google searches.
Enjoy and let us know in comments what are your thoughts on today’s episode!
Kate: Hi everyone, this is Kate and I’m back with another episode of the podcast Stay on Top of Your Work and today my guest is Łukasz Żelezny. And he is an SEO keynote speaker and social media consultant.
He is also the head of organic acquisition
Thank you, Łukasz for coming here today, I’m very happy that you’re my guest.
Lukasz: Thank you very much for the invitation. And a little correction. Just not a consultant, I’m working for the ZPG which is a big company right now, owning a couple of sub-companies, one of the companies is uSwitch. Lots of people probably remember me, I was working for a uSwitch.com a price comparison website, from the January 2018 I’ve just become a director of organic performance of ZPG so right now not only uSwitch but Zoopla which is one of the biggest property portal in the UK and also PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and probably soon much, much more companies, more than thousand people. So it’s a very exciting year for me and aside from this, obviously like you mentioned, a bit of conferences.
Kate: That’s great that you’re actually talking about it because I wanted you to introduce yourself to our audience and say a few words how did it happen that you became the person you are when it comes to your career. And also, what are your professional interests?
Łukasz: My professional interests, my lifestyle is an SEO but you know, my background is also a music, I was a musician, I was a music producer back in the day so that gives me a bit of… you know, I was always looking to find something between the math and the science and this kind of more humane art aspects f life and I found this nice balance between numbers and art inside an SEO. Before I was doing music, I was a Djing when I was living in Poland and that’s how the story began. I wanted to have a website because I was born in a small town and I couldn’t get the opportunity to play the clubs because clubs have been only in Cracow or Warsaw the clubs that have been promoting drum N bass. So what I did, I just bought a domain. I remember it cost me 69 Polish zlotys some long time ago and I started playing with websites and then I started thinking how to make the website ranking higher. I remember that back in the day there was no Google Analytics, there was something that was called Stat4u and I was using it just to understand the traffic and this is how the story began. And, obviously, some… that was going very well I started to have bookings but obviously, drum N bass won’t pay your bills and mom and that was not happy to pay my bills forever. So I was thinking “okay, okay, fine maybe I should start doing SEO professionally” because I never wanted to do music professionally. I always was thinking that music was more like a hobby for me. So I started to do SEO and then I moved in 2007 to the United Kingdom and this is how I started to work, always in-house so on the clients’ side, a couple of exciting last 11 years. And this is like my story looks like.
Kate: Wow, that’s really interesting. Thank you for describing your life story. So I would like to ask you how websites or blogs can contribute to a company success?
Łukasz: Well, it’s a very big topic but to answer this, always this is my role when I’m speaking on the conferences I just want to give people something that they can pick up from my speech and pick up from this podcast and they can implement. You mentioned blogs and SEO. Obviously can’t, there are lots of aspects of blogging. I would like to step back from blogging because you also an think about landing pages and trusting landing pages. You mentioned SEO. What SEO is very often that you’re trying to target a primary audience, people who not necessarily know about you, your business, your brand in the first place. So, a blog is one of the ways to target, the frequency of writing, the length of the blog posts will be crucial. So I’m always giving this advice – don’t try to write everyday 100-200 words blog post if you want to run. Rather do a research and write one very long article that tries to touch all the aspect of the problem. And bring the answers to people. In that way, you will not only rank higher but you will be generating much more traffic and you will be not trying to dangle all these things altogether the same time. And it has kind of more strategy to approach. But again, blog is only the form of kind of storing content. I very often like to talk about more static pages with a content and maybe not only the blog kind of idea of presenting content because blogs most likely are like a bunch of articles. Interesting or not but a bunch of articles. I will give you an example, another example of a very, very interesting content that is made for an SEO and is bringing lots of traffic.
So I recently moved to my house and obviously when you’re moving to your own property one of the things you really want is to have a pet. And I always had dogs as a kid but I really love cats. And I’m not an expert and I’m struggling with which cat breed I would like to have. And I’m typing, let’s say “ragdoll” vs main coone” and there’s a website, whoever is listening to us right now can go after this podcast on Google and write maine coone vs ragdool, or burmese cat vs birman cat” and there is like a landing page which contains all these combinations, various landing pages which contain all these combinations and it’sa really nice tableview, like you would compare MacBook Pro with MacBook Air and all the pros and cons about the character of cat about the lifespan and so on and so on. And this is a perfect example of how you can attract people. Another example, in uSwitch we’re trying to answer questions that people may have. In the UK there is something which is called smart meters. And some people may not be really sure what these smart meters are. So they’re writing “what are smart meters?” And we’re trying to serve them a fantastic article which is describing from A to Z what smart meters are. And they are able to see that but they are also able to see that “oh, that’s uSwitch, I can switch my electricity provider and save some money.” This is this nice combination of serving information but also remembering that this website and many others that are on the internet, they are not a library, they are businesses.So the focus on revenue and the focus on the business leads is crucial. I could go deeper into this but I think that is giving a little of… Another example, if we’re talking about blogs, blog posts, I would like to recommend to all our listeners to go after this conversation we have here, to the website gov.uk – it’s fantastic in terms of UX, you will see a nice, large font, the sentences are split after two, three sentences, there is a gap, it is very nice to read, links are very clear. There is lots of, kind of inspiration about how to design your blog and your content.
Kate: So when we’re talking about SEO, because maybe not everyone is aware of what it is? Could you give a short but specific definition what exactly is SEO and why is it so important?
Łukasz: So SEO – it is three aspects right now and I will try to put this very simple. S the first aspect is, obviously an on-page SEO. So all the things like the content length, the properly optimized title tag and meta description, H1 tags, H2 tags, making sure that you have images which contain proper old tags and also the image file name is properly so you’re not using random characters, random letters in the file but maybe you’re using something more descriptive, and so on, and so on, and so on. So that’s own page SEO. Then you have technical SEO so that will be everything related to things like page speed, pages, for example, log analysis. So understanding how Google Bot is crawling your website every day. Finding out if there are any areas that Google Bot, especially for big websites, is spending what we call crow budget. And maybe google what should be blocked from some areas. And then this crow budget could be spent much better. Having a properly configured SSL, having properly configured cashing. And again, an advice, most of the people right now, when they want to launch a website want to start with WordPress. 20% of all websites right now on the internet is based on WordPress. SO remember that if you have a WordPress website, there is a risk of installing lots of things and that will slow down the whole website. Make sure that you’re not trying to install all the plugins altogether and the server is fast enough. Siteground or WPengine, these are two that I would recommend because they are dedicated solutions for websites based on WordPress. So we said about on-page SEO, technical SEO and, finally, there is an off-page SEO. So off-page, in a nutshell, would be everything that is happening outside your website but also has an impact on the performance, how the website is performing, and so on. So you know, links from other websites to your website, all the shares across social media, these things, I would say, are the most important and obviously I also wanted to mention that there is the whole aspect of analytics so engagement calculates as bounce rate and page per sessions that are generated. Everything like that can be measured to Google Analytics.
Kate: When you’re talking about all these things connected with SEO I’m thinking that this is such a huge area. Do you think there are any good strategies, methodologies, anything that can help in managing a good website?
Łukasz: Obviously there are but we like SEO people, we need to constantly to learn and pick up what is there and again, if you have a very, very big website, let’s say Allegro,if I joined Allegro group or if I joined any other, Gratka or something like that from Polish example. From English example, we can have PPC, CNN or something like that. These are huge websites. SO I would definitely start with the technical SEO. So checking what is the page speed, how can we make the website responsive if it’s not responsive? What about the SSL certificate. If all the aspects of SSL certificate are in the place.Because when you have such a complex website with thousands of URLs, tweaking these things and making these things work automatically impacts all the URLs that are there. For smaller website obviously, all these technical aspects are also as important or similar, however, if you can be more selective in terms of dealing with content and so on. So whatI’m trying to say, I have a couple of tactics I just wanted to share right now and one of the tactics I’m using is called gap analysis. So you’re measuring where you’re not ranking and where your competitors are ranking. So you’re saying” hey, show me where are keywords that my competitor is ranking or two competitors simultaneously are ranking in Google and my website is not.” You can do this with SEMrush, you can do this with SISTRIX. Actually, SEMrush can provide this natively insight the application. The rest you can do in an Excel. So you have SISTRIX, SEMrush, searchmetrics. On the Polish market, you have semstorm, Senuto which are both very very good, impressive tools. So that’s one approach. The other approach you have is what I call snapshot analysis. So you’re saying “hey, show me keywords that are already ranking but not high enough.” And then you’re trying to optimize content and what the optimization is, it’s very simple, add an additional paragraph of text, maybe expose more what you would like to rank on, add a couple of photos, modify headers, add title tags. If title tags are too long shorten them. And the third, try to attack featured snippets so answer boxes. If your website is already ranking quite high in top 5, you may want to… and you know that there is an answer box. What is answer box? It’s this special results like a position 0 above the organic search and straight below the PPC. So you may want to write the content which will be better than competitors’ and will push your competitor out from this answer box spot and make your website ranking there. So you will secure two spots, organic and answer box. If you add PPC advertising on this specific keywords then you will secure three spots in the search engines.
Kate: What mistakes do you think companies make that the traffic on their website is really poor?
Łukasz: Okay so there are various areas The first one is that companies sometimes don’t take a decision on numbers. So they closing some sections of the website, not looking at the numbers, how this section was performing. Very often these are completely random decisions that then it’s very difficult to fix. The common problem is when there is migration of the website from one CMS to another and that must be done in a very very careful way if you have a website that is performing well in an SEO. Another one is the number focus is crucial but also, and this is very common, there is a situation when website has been hit either by a manual penalty which is quite easy to identify to Google Search Console. There is a section where you can see it. But sometimes the website has been hit by an algorithmic hit. And when that happens, very often a company may not be able to identify this. And I will give you a couple of examples. You may see a website which is a relatively small website of some local business and you can see that the Google index is in the level of 500.000 URLs. And someone who doesn’t even know much about SEO experience would say like “hold on, you are a small local business and you really have a 500.00 URLs? Or there’s something really really wrong with this CMS you are using that indexation went so high?” And that’ why probably Google was thinking that either you’re trying to artificially inflate the size of your website or there is something wrong with the configuration of your CMS. And then someone who is a skilled SEO can come and can say like “listen, we need to do this, that, we’re starting to measure the impact, we’re starting to set up the goals, the KPIs and then everything starts to pick up and we’re back on track.” So very often it’s very easy to fix, it can be duplication across the various subdomains, that’s another common problem. Sometimes people are buying couple of domains, the configuration server is wrong and the Google is starting to index a couple of times the same website – very easy to fix. Migrations of CMS, another problem. And even big companies I was reading about one very, very big airline who has done a migration and they’ve done fundamental mistakes. And you could see that lots of keyword that were very prominent, lots of searches, and cost per click was extremely high, however, they’ve been ranking before organically. So they had huge right doesn’t rank and they probably had to start a lot of things from scratch. Yeah, so that would be my answer.
Kate: So when you were talking about all the things connected with Google, I was thinking about technology. What do you think about technology and its importance in marketing but also in websites?
Łukasz: Yeah, so there is always this debate between technology and creativity. I think that the balance should be in the middle. And the best answer I can give you on this question is that technology is here to help you, it’s not a final destination so common mistake – put as many plugins on your WordPress as you can because you think that everything is possible and everything is needed. No, you will ruin the performance of your website, you will ruin the user experience and there will be so much distraction that everything will not be working. And again, my advice – server – siteground or WPengine for WordPress solution. Analytics software so Google Analytics, HIP Analytics if you want to go a bit deeper. Make sure that you’re doing decisions based on numbers. Make sure that your website is in Google Search Console, especially the new Google Search Console which is showing you 18 months of the data. And then use the plugins that you really need. One of the plugins, so maybe let’s go into this because this is a part of the technological web plugins for WordPress and again I will be focusing on WordPress because this is probably the most popular CMS right now people are using. OneSignal, amazing plugin to send automatic browser notifications. SEO Smart Links linking between pages consistently. Another one could be WP Smoosh which will optimize images. Hummingbirds which will optimize the speed of the website. Maybe SumoMe which will help with the share buttons and obviously Yoast for SEO performance. And once again, technology is in support of the creativity. And if you’ll be thinking of this in that list of priorities so first, creativity and then technology, that is going to support. You know, Steve Jobs was saying that first, there must be a problem, and then we will create technology to fix that problem. Don’t try tocreate the technology and then “okay, how can we sell it?” So that would be my answer, the technology is to support the creativity.
Kate: And what tools, when we talk about technology, do you use in your work?
Łukasz: I love this question because I can talk about tools forever! So, for link tracking, HFS, and Majestic. And again, using these tools together will give you a much, much wider view. You can also use SEMrush for this source of metrics that will give you a much wider horizon. For keyword research, SEMrush, Searchmetrics, SISTRIX, and SpyFu. And for Polish websites, if anyone would like to use that is definitely semstrom and Senuto. Then I have a couple of tools in terms of social media so I’m using HootSuite for scheduling, Deliver-It for content curation. I’m using Commun.it for segmentation of audience. I’m using Sniply to generate call-to-actions to curated content. So the Sniply and Deliver.it are together linked. And there’s also brand tracking that obviously Brand24, I don’t need to introduce this tool everyone knows. And maybe viral content buzz that’s another one for spreading content across social networks of other people. One more, enterprise level, SEO software that would be seoClarity and Britech, but again, these are tools that I’m using because like the organization is big and obviously whoever is listening to us right now, they can choose. It’s good to have a trial of each of them and then get back to this. SEOmonitor let me also mention.
Kate: That’s a really good list, it’s good to check out all these tools. So tell me, what inspires you in your work? Do you have any particular source of inspiration? And maybe books?
Łukasz: Yes, I really hoped that this question would go that way. Yes, you know, SEO is important but there are other aspects of life. Books obviously inspire me a lot. I was recently reading and actually, I will be honest, I was not reading, I was using audiobook because this is the way how I prefer. Lem’s The Invincible – “Niezwyciężony” in Polish [Lem was a Polish author]. Amazing, amazing, amazing book. I really like Jo Nesbo Cockroaches. I like everything from Sapkowski. Then, I like Dale’s Carnegie How to Win Friends And Influence People, that’s probably the book I was reading many, many times. I know people in London who read this book 6-7 times a year. Just to keep them up, especially people who have a very intense lifestyle and their job is to deal face to face with a customer. And then aside of this, I’m listening lots of music that also inspires me so I’m not sure if you or our listeners know Wardruna, that’s a band who is playing this Norwegian, Viking chants, and then Faun, Omnia, these are very similar bands that are playing this kind of Viking-style music which I kind of like. And then because I moved to Essex, obviously an old school Raves that’s also a bit of old, very old prodigy that also is on my playlist.
If I can add one more thing that inspires me it is that probably people would enjoy, whoever will be in London, don’t forget to go to Tate Britain. Tate Modern is the famous one but there’s also Tate Britain it’s more like classical stuff when Tate Modern is more like a modern art. But there are lots of interesting things to see and I’ve been there twice, that’s quite sad that I’d been there only two times for last ten years I’m in London but if you are in London go to Tate Britain because it’s fantastic.
Kate: Okay, that sounds really nice! And my last question to you is in reference to the podcast title Stay on Top of Your Work, how do you stay on top of your work?
Łukasz: Well, I’m trying to automate as much as I can. I am trying to be very disciplined, I’m trying to eat well. And I’m trying to go to bed on time. So simple rules, I think and still, trying to keep a balance between my professional life and my private life. And recently I was reading that you shouldn’t be hungry, anxious, you shouldn’t be… I don’t remember right now but definitely, these two are important. You shouldn’t be hungry, you shouldn’t be anxious and everything else will kind of self-sort.
Kate: Okay, thank you very much Łukasz for the interview, it was my pleasure to talk to you.
Łukasz: Likewise, thank you very, very much for your time and I just wanted to say, warm greetings to all the guests who are listening to us today and that was a pleasure. And let’s stay in touch.
If you don’t mind, I will just only mention that people can find me on LinkedIn, people can find me on Twitter, I also have a website zelezny.uk and potentially they can catch me there if they would have any questions so I will be happy to answer.
Kate: Thank you very much, Łukasz.
Thanks for listening!
Don’t forget to connect with Łukasz!