How to Get Unlimited Free Website Traffic w/ Britney Muller
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How to Get Unlimited Free Website Traffic w/ Britney Muller


– I’m Britney Muller,
Moz’ Senior SEO Scientist, and you’re watching
100 Days of SEO. – What’s up y’all?
Brendan Hufford here rockin’ the shades and the tank top,
’cause it’s summer. I got my kids’
playground in the background. I don’t know, I’m really
feelin’ myself today. So I’m excited. I’m so happy today
I get to share with you an interview I did
with Britney Muller. She’s a Senior
SEO Scientist at Moz. One of the
smartest SEO people I know. Without further ado,
let’s check that out. (whistles) Nailed the whistle that time. I never nail it! I always (blows air),
nailed it (rolling tongue). (whistles) Nope, didn’t (laughs). Just watch the interview. Hey thanks for joining
us for 100 Days of SEO. – Thank you so
much for having me. This is awesome! – Yeah, absolutely. I’m super excited. I’m very jealous
of your microphone and your professional (Britney laughing) studio but I’ll get over it. I wanna dive in, right. And I guess what
I wanna start is, you’ve been doing
SEO for long enough that you’ve seen
trends come and go, and things get
hot for a little bit and then they’re
not cool anymore. People say do
this or don’t do that, and it just seems
to be so much opinion. So, I wanted to get your take. Where do you start
when to it comes to SEO, whether it’s
looking at a new project or just as far as
thinking about a framework of being successful? Somebody’s watching this,
and they either just wanna get
more traffic from search or they’re starting
a brand new project and they’re like I want SEO to
be part of how I market this, where should they start? – Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think a lot of
people struggle with this, but if you can consistently
come back to this idea that you have to
have a solid understanding of your client or the
website or the product or the target market,
in order to even get going. You begin to
devise your own strategy. So a lot of times I have this
perception of beginner SEOs, that don’t really
know what questions to ask to get the root of a
client understanding 101. If you’re able to
have those conversations and if you’re able to understand what metrics people care about and what that
end goal looks like, then you can work backwards. I think it really comes down
to asking the right questions and figuring out what those
primary KPIs look like for you and for the specific project. – What if they’re
not doing client work? What if they have their own, maybe just a blogger
or something– where they have a website?
– Yeah. – Maybe I wanna sell some
e-books or something, based on my expertise
about growing succulents in my window
garden or something. What–
– Right. – What are some things
they can start to think about as far as their user, since
they may not have clients, per se, but their user, whoever’s gonna
visit the website? How would you start
thinking about that? – Yeah, I would again
consider what that end goal is, and say if it’s an
action like buying an e-book, is that the route
you want people to take the second they
get to your site? What is that initial action? And are there ways in which
you can funnel that action? Maybe they’re not
ready to buy an e-book. Maybe they’re just
curious about succulents. So they have questions
about the type of soil. Are you creating? – [Brendan] It’s a
bad example. – I love it! I love it! I’m a huge fan of succulents. – Okay. – You could create
information around that. Right, and sort of help lead
people through that funnel at different
aspects of the acquisition. And that’s where, again,
really knowing your consumers, knowing how people are
searching for that product or for that thing online
starts to paint a picture. So if you get so dialed in, you’re just focused on keyword, you miss the rest of the movie. It’s just a snapshot. So really trying to
wrap your head around what that acquisition looks like and fulfilling each step. Yeah. – Once they have
that nailed down, what are some other
beginner SEO mistakes that you see pretty often? I know that
especially working at Moz, you have some
really good resources for beginners, and
other resources, right for more advanced SEO
strategies and things like that, but I know that the
Moz Beginner’s Guide, has been this
thing that has existed for quite a while and has been
helpful for a lot of people. Do you know, and this
is such a random question, do you have any idea
how many total people have looked at that? I know it’s gone
through iterations, but how many total
people have even looked at that? – Over 10 million. – [Brendan] That’s outstanding! – I know. I know it’s so wild. It’s really wild. – It seems like you
have this really good handle mistakes beginners make. What are other mistakes
you see beginners making when it comes to SEO? – Yeah, that’s
such a good question. So I think at a
really fundamental level, it’s everything from
not having a sitemap, ignoring you robots.txt, and not even having your
domain configured properly. So a lot of beginner
SEOs aren’t even checking for the HTTP
versus HTTPS versions, or the dub, dub,
dub versus non dub, dub. Is that all redirecting
to the same URL or do you have
duplicate versions of the site? When you start with a website, you should start your work based on how
Google is going to crawl, the accessibility of it. So what does the navigational
structure look like? Is it beneficial to both
search engines and users. Does it make sense? Is it easy to follow? It’s sort of that,
don’t make me think mentality. It should be
really intuitive to use, and then following the short
URL structures that make sense. Those are all beginner 101s that we see
flubbed pretty frequently. – Yeah. It makes me wanna go
check my own website, right. – Yeah, yeah. – But I think, yeah I
would totally agree with you. I think this is
something that’s funny. It keeps coming
up again and again in having conversations with
people who really know SEO, like yourself, is
that people get into it without a basic understanding of how the internet
works and how a website works.
– Yes. Yeah. – It’s content and it’s links
and I know those things, but they don’t
understand what a server is. And I’m not saying you
have a developer background or anything like that, but if you don’t
know that there’s physical copies of your website, that gets served to people and physically the closer it
is to them, the faster it is. It actually matters.
– [Britney] Yeah. – People just don’t have
that basic understanding, and I’ll be honest, I kind
of had an understanding of things, but in doing
this 100 Days of SEO project, I’ve started to do a
lot of research around it. You know, Nick Eubanks,
was one of the first people to point it out to me. And I’m like, oh yeah
people should really know that. (Britney laughing) I was like
(chuckles) I don’t know. So I figured it out,
I can be honest, it’s really not
that hard to figure out, but yeah, like you said, people don’t know
what a robots file is. And it sounds intimidating
but these are really a 90-second YouTube video
away from you under– – Yes, exactly! And it makes all the
difference between you being available in search and you
not being available in search. So it makes a huge difference. You could be doing
all the SEO in the world, but if you don’t have
that configured properly, if you’re disallowing Googlebot from even crawling your site,
no one’s gonna find you. So that’s why it’s
always step one in my brain and I try to instill
into others is really to take that first initial step. – Yeah, I was looking at
somebody’s website the other day and found that their whole blog, so some reason
their robots file, somebody deleted part of
it and it was supposed to– disallow that’s admin.
– Oh no. – And it just said
disallow with a slash, which means the whole website. – Yeah. – And in real short order, they were why are all
my keywords going away? I just looked and we’re
down 90% from last month. And it’s like, ah, geez. – Yeah. – I mean, luckily it
wasn’t anybody’s website that I was working on
it was still pretty wild. But they didn’t
even know to check. – Right. – That robots file
could be thing, an issue. You know we always
talk about mistakes. And beginner mistakes
and advanced mistakes, but I think you had
really interesting thoughts around opportunities–
– [Britney] Yeah. – for people that
are more advanced in SEO. They have the basics. They know how
the internet works. – Yeah. – They have figured
out content and links and really what
Google wants to see and sussing out search
intent and everything– but what are–
– Yeah. – some of the opportunities
that you’re seeing now for more advanced SEOs
to really take advantage of new technology and things? – Yeah, so there’s a
couple of really exciting ones. One being this, I don’t wanna
say if it’s a newer idea or it’s just been
talked about more recently in this last year of
the idea of Google crawling and indexing your site. Let’s say you have
a really large site. Those index pages affect the
perceived quality of your site. So there’s this fresh
idea of if you prune your site and if you prune old content, if you delete it, redirect it, it can give you a boost in Google’s perception
of your site quality, which is really interesting. A lot of sites have
seen boosts from this and it makes sense not
only from a search perspective but from a user
perspective as well. You don’t want old,
outdated content affecting your traffic
or people that are coming searching for
things on your site. Another one is not
optimizing for internal linking. So if you think about it, and you think about
the structure of the web, you would often think of these
things like trees, right, or that your homepage
has all of these links from all the other
pages on your site. It’s very similar for
Google to take a look at what are the
important pages on your site, and how many internal links
do you have directing people, directing your
traffic to these pages that we should consider
more authoritative per se? So there has been lots of
really interesting studies happening recently
around optimizing for that
internal linking structure and seeing that work
really, really well. So that’s super-exciting
and my lights just went off. It’s the easiest
way to do link building. You’re not asking
someone for a link. You have all this
content on your site and now you’re just
optimizing the flow of traffic and bots to your
most important pages. The other one I have is,
ignoring log files, I think is a super
common advanced mistake. And I don’t know, I’m a
huge fan of log file analysis because it essentially,
it’s literally black and white. It shows you what
Googlebot is doing on your site, and it’s fascinating, the
stuff you can get from it. It just starts
to paint a picture of what are the
common URLs it crawls? What are the common URLs that
are returning 404s, 500s? You name it. How can you better
optimize for that crawl budget, because you only see Googlebot crawling a certain
number of times per day. It might as well be on your
really high quality content, and not these silly
broken JavaScript links that you have throughout
your page, stuff like that. And then, the biggest
opportunity that I think was touched on briefly at
Traffic Think Tank a little bit, and the Q&A stuff is just nurturing
relationships better. And I think this goes for
whether you work with clients or you’re doing own thing. I think there’s
still so much opportunity to just connect with
people a little bit better and more often or
have a process around that so you’re not
dropping the ball on things. I think we don’t talk
about enough as an industry and it’s so
applicable to what we do. That goes right
back to link-building or sales, you name it. I think there could be a
lot more discussed there, and opportunities available. – Yeah, I think those
are all really good points. I think what’s interesting, I’ve seen a lot of people, they
when they do content audits and they have 75
articles on their website, and it’s like–
– Yeah. – [Brendan] It’s fine.
– Yeah. – Do it, but you’re
probably better off spending, there’s probably some
new stuff you could write. You know what I mean–
– Yeah.. – They’ve been
blogging for five, they’ve had a
website for five years. They have 75 articles. That’s not bad, that’s great. But you could have 250, if
you’re doing it once a week, and doing it really well. I remember you, I don’t
wanna misquote anything but, I feel like Moz pruned
a bunch of forum stuff that hadn’t gotten
traffic in a long time. And it was a lot,
it was thousands. Is that accurate? – Yeah it was around
like 70% of the site. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – You have a huge website. It’s not like–
– Yeah. – You have 400 posts,
it’s massive. – Right, right, yeah.
It was a lot. – So things like that
can be super helpful. I wanna steer people away from
wasting two to three weeks on a content audit, when
it’s you have 25 blog posts. It’s probably time
to just keep working. What do you– – Yeah, I don’t know,
I don’t know if I’m a hundred percent on the same page
just because I see cases of people with eight blog
posts in the last two years do extremely well because
it’s really, rich focused, high quality stuff, and
they’re busy promoting it. So I think it really depends. I always suggest
quality over quantity. I think that’s what
naturally builds links. That’s what naturally
builds you credibility in search engines, but
I think it really depends on the topic and the industry. Do you feel like that’s– – For sure, I have a
website called Photo MBA. A lot of my early–
– Yeah. – SEO clients
were photographers, and I was like
they’re all bad at business. I need to teach them
how to do online business. So Photo MBA was born. And it’s one of those
URLs that sounds really smart. Oh, it’s like an MBA
in photog, like get it, it’s so witty,
but you write it out and it looks like Photomba.
(Britney laughing) And nobody knows what it was. It’s a poor decision. – I love it. – Anyways I nailed
this good content and did all of the right stuff and traffic was
going up, up, up, and I started to
experiment at the end of 2018. ‘Cause I had put 2018
in a lot of my titles and a lot of the
stuff was really timely. I never updated publish dates. I never updated the articles. And I was like I
wonder what happens in search if I leave them. If I leave the
title saying 2018, if I never update them,
and I just watched the rankings just go down,
down, down, traffic is down. Every single month
traffic’s down and it’s fine. But I wanna see now,
I went in yesterday, put in a bunch of
updates to articles, update the publish date
to yesterday for all of them. Updated the titles to
say they’re updated for 2019, and I wanna see
if things come back. – Yeah. – And I think a lot
of people aren’t willing to do things like that. It’s a very fortunate situation, where I’m not
relying on that website to make any serious money–
– [Britney] Yeah. – But a lot of people
aren’t in the situation to run an experiment like
that but I think we should. You need to be–
– Yeah. – Can’t just be
reading blog posts about other
people’s experiments. Try it.
– Yes. – I have a pretty strong
theory that it’ll come back and it’ll do really well,
without any more links or anything like that,
just by Google seeing, oh this is better
and it’s more recent. It’s updated and then
people clicking on it more, ’cause it’s updated and new. – [Britney] Totally. – And I agree too, you also
mention relationship building and I just wanna
make a note of that too. I think a lot of people,
we think about getting links or whatever else
and we don’t realize that it’s a human. Like you’re emailing another person.
– Yeah. – Who has–
– [Britney] Yeah. – Goals and
things that they’re into. There’s a lady
behind me waving her hands. (Britney laughing) I can totally see
it in the thing (chuckles). Sorry, I’m like distracted
by my own camera. (Britney laughing) My point is we
forget that building these relationships matter. So a lot people think,
it’s get a link. So an example of
this link building, you want one link
from each website. After that there’s
some diminishing returns. I think Google’s gonna figure
out in pretty short order that shouldn’t be the case. If I can get–
– [Britney] Yeah. – For example, if
Moz linked to me today, and you and I stay in touch and
we have a great relationship and all of this stuff
and a good long friendship for five years and over
the course of five years I link to Moz a lot
and you link to me a lot. That’s more
powerful ’cause it shows this really great pattern of linking back–
– I know. – And forth over
time versus just like, oh you got that
one Moz link in 2013. – [Britney] Yeah. – And then they never
linked to you again. Why? Like something must be wrong. And I think because
that’s a really easy human thing to figure out, you know,
like your friend hits you up on Facebook
when you haven’t talked to them since high school– – Totally.
– [Brendan] It’s weird, right. it’s weird that–
– Yeah. – I feel like, I don’t know, maybe I’m applying
human stuff to it– – No, but I think that’s
the smartest way to evaluate this kind of stuff is you have
to apply human tendencies. It’s like third-party
credibility in real life. That’s what link-building
and that’s what links are to the internet so I think that’s a really,
really interesting point, and I love that. – Nice, well cool. Britney, I really
appreciate your time. Thanks for comin’
on 100 Days of SEO. – Thanks for having me.
This was awesome! Keep up the good stuff. (easygoing music)

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