9 experts share their best advice for 2019
I was lucky enough to present at Yoastcon in the Netherlands, so thought I’d do a special live episode interviewing all the smart people there and asking them their number one Digital Marketing tip for this year
Many of these awesome humans will also appear on future episodes of the podcast so stay Tooned for those episodes too.
Tune in to learn:
- What is DSA?
- How to find out what’s holding your customers back
- What’s the most important aspect of branding?
- What are progressive web apps?
- How digital marketing is converging.
- Why you need to get rid of some of your pages
- Why you need to take a step back to look at your values
- Why page speed still matters
- What’s the biggest thing with WordPress site’s coming up?
- Why it’s better to follow the path less trodden
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This episode is proudly sponsored by Ahrefs which offers tools to grow your search traffic, research your competitors and monitor your niche.Ahrefs helps you learn why your competitors rank so high and what you need to do to outrank them.
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And big thanks to Popcorn Sally for their lovely review.
About the interviewees
Almost 2 decades of experience: Jason Barnard started promoting his first website in the year Google was incorporated and built it up to become one of the top 10,000 most visited sites in the world (60 million visits in 2007).
Today he’s a search marketing consultant, speaker and author on all things search / answer / assistive engine optimisation. #SEOisAEO
Els has been creating better online experiences based on user research since 2001. She’s the co-founder of AGConsult, a Belgium-based usability, and conversion optimization company. Els is a big fan of old school in person user testing and has moderated nearly a thousand user tests. She loves helping companies to understand their customers better. Because knowing what makes your customers tick, drives growth.
Raffaella creates brands and designs the communication for businesses around the world and assists companies in their localization. Besides that, she studies, is teaching, takes pictures, writes, translates & coaches professionals on communication & language. You can see her work at raffaellaisidori.com. Curious as a cat and in love with diversities, she collects books, fonts & essential oils. She lives and works in the country, surrounded by flora & fauna, where she is cultivating dreams & pushes boundaries. Online, she’s zetaraffix.
Aleyda Solis is an International SEO Consultant and founder of Orainti -a highly specialized, boutique SEO consultancy-, blogger (Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and Moz), speaker (with more than 100 conferences in 20 countries in English and Spanish) and author (of “SEO, Las Claves Esenciales”).
Jono is a digital strategist, marketing technologist and full-stack developer with over a decade of experience in SEO, analytics, brand and campaign strategy, lead gen and eCRM, CRO and more. He’s worked with startups, agencies and international brands to fix websites, implement growth strategies, and win markets. Jono recently joined Yoast after working as principal consultant at Distilled. Previously, he was global head of digital and head of insight at SEO platform Linkdex, and head of SEO at award-winning agency twentysix.
Regine Le Roux
Regine is a corporate reputation specialist. She completed her Communication Management Honours degree Cum Laude at the University of Pretoria in 2001, and completed her MCom within a year.
She founded Reputation Matters in 2005 and hand picks and manages several teams that implement communication strategies. She has gained much practical experience through several communication, change and marketing strategies compiled for clients in both the private and public domains. Regine developed the Repudometer®, which is one of the first tools that has been developed to measure organizational reputation scientifically. Regine is the author of Reputation Matters, Building blocks to becoming the business people want to do business with.
Marieke van de Rakt
Marieke van de Rakt studied Sociology and Communication Sciences at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. She also obtained a PhD in Social Sciences. After working at numerous universities, she became a partner at Yoast. Marieke focuses on product development, growth and marketing. She blogs for yoast.com about SEO copywriting and site structure.
Maura is a Software Engineer at Pagely and previously developed for WordPress at scale at Time, Inc.
She is an active part of the WordPress community, and is a firm believer that speaking about, and sharing, life experiences (both failures and successes) builds lasting connections.
Joost de Valk
is a 36-year-old web developer, SEO and online marketer. In the early days of his career, he worked in several companies, ranging from enterprise hosting to online marketing agencies. This allowed him to work with several large brands around the world. He founded CSS3.info – the biggest CSS3 resource on the web – in 2006 and sold it in 2009. In 2010 he founded Yoast, which focuses on software and training for website optimization. Team Yoast currently consists of more than 90 people. Yoast SEO, Yoast’s main software product, is currently active on around 9 million websites.
Rand Fishkin is the founder of SparkToro and was co-founder of Moz and Inbound.org. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through the Whiteboard Friday video series, his blog, and his book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. When Rand’s not working, he’s most likely to be in the company of his partner in marriage and (mostly petty) crime, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you feed him great pasta or great whiskey, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.
Connect with the interviewees
- Rand Fishkin
- Marieke van de Rakt
- Jason Barnard
- Els Aerts
- Regine Le Roux
- Joost de Valk
- Raffaella Isidori
- Jono Alderson
- Marua Teal
- DSA article from Jason
- Jason’s podcast
- Aleyda’s progressive web app blog post
- Crawling Mondays with Aleyda
- Pingdom site speed
- GT Metrix
Kate Toon: So, here I am with Jason Barnard. Hello Jason.
Jason: Hello Kate.
Jason: I’m a digital marketer. I live in France. Paris mostly, but in fact right now I don’t have a flat. I’ve gone digital nomad, and I’m doing podcasts going from conference to conference interviewing greater CEO experts like yourself. I’m going to go to Prague, I’m going to go to Poland, I’m going to go to Berlin, I’m going to go to Leads, Brighton, and Paris.
Kate Toon: Wow. And maybe Australia one day. So, yes, I’ll be on your podcast very soon. I’ll put a link that in the show notes. Jason, tell us what is your number one digital marketing tip?
Jason: Well, my number one digital marketing tip for 2019, 2020, and beyond is DSA. I come from the SEO world. I get my clients to do a really good, basic on page SEO. Once you’ve got that, you can move that over to add words using dynamic search ads. And if your SEO is brilliant, your dynamic search ads will work, and you can run profitable campaigns using Google’s algorithm to choose the headline, the key words, the pages. All you need to do is write a description, put in the extensions, let it run, and every time you see that your campaigns aren’t performing well enough, your SEO is wrong, you go in and improve your own page SEO. That would improve your DSA.
Jason: The genius of this whole thing, if I may say so, is that whereas with SEO, you’re trying something, you have to wait two months for the results. With DSA, you see the results in four or five days. Because the data comes straight through to DSA, and you can see which headlines it’s picking, which key words it’s picking, which [inaudible 00:02:30] it’s picking, see where you’re wrong and go and correct it two months in advance.
Kate Toon: My goodness. That sounds fabulous. Well, I will try and find a resource to link to in the show notes to explain a little bit more about DSA. So, check them out at the end of this episode. Thanks Jason.
Kate Toon: Hello. I’m here with Els Aerts, and Els tell us a little bit about yourself.
Els: Hi. I’m Els and I run AGConsult together with my co-founder Karl Gilis. We’re a company in Belgium. We’re specialised in usability and conversion optimization.
Kate Toon: And so the question of the episode today is, what would you do, if you were a new business starting out, where would your focus be in digital marketing?
Els: For me, that’s really clear. It’s about getting to know your customers. Doing a bit of research into what it is they really want from you, what it is their problem that your product or your service might be solving for them, and also, well, if there any things that might be holding them back. So, you can convince them that what you’re actually selling is really the right solution for them.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. So, user research is the way to go. Thank you very much Els.
Els: Very welcome.
Kate Toon: Hello. I’m here talk to Raphaella Isadore. I hope I said that right.
Raphaella: Yes, you did. Hi.
Kate Toon: Hi. I did my best accent there. So tell us a little bit about you.
Raphaella: I’m a designer at large, and I focus on communication design and brand design. And I’m American, but I live in Italy. I kind of get the best of both worlds.
Kate Toon: Yeah, you’re very lucky. Gosh. Well, I was gonna ask your number one digital marketing tip. I think my number one life tip would be live in Italy, but what is your digital marketing tip?
Raphaella: Well, coming from brand design and communication design, I would say consistency. I think that a brand needs to have a strong style both visually and textually and tone of voice. I think that that needs to be continued, consistent, on all content so that it can reinforce the brand’s mission and the brand’s image.
Kate Toon: It’d be the same wherever you are regardless of what social media platform on or your website and your email communications have the same brand, voice, and style.
Raphaella: Exactly. It’s basically like you are the same person. You may adapt obviously to the occasion and dress for the occasion, but you’re still you. Your brand is still your brand, it’s just gonna adapt to whatever, but not be totally different.
Kate Toon: That makes perfect sense. Thank you so much, Raphaella.
Raphaella: Thank you. Thanks a lot.
Kate Toon: I’m here with a Aleyda Solis. Hello Aleyda
Aleyda: Hello, how are you?
Kate Toon: I’m good. This is fun. Tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Aleyda: I am an SEO consultant. I have my own SEO consultancy that is remote based actually. I work with many companies around the world for which I give SEO advice, usually [inaudible 00:07:32] and strategical SEO type of advice and support. These are usually also larger companies. Yes, this is how I actually make money. However, I also tend to speak a lot in the industry mainly because it’s the way that I have to connect with people since I am remote again. And to share what I have found to be available for me. To keep up also. To keep learning. It’s always a great opportunity to learn from all this.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Yeah, you’re an inspiration. And well done as well on picking up the Search Person of the Year which was pretty amazing. You must’ve been very pleased with that.
Aleyda: Oh, yes. That was a really nice surprise indeed. Was very, very cool. I didn’t expected it.
Kate Toon: That’s awesome. For the people who are listening, what would be your number one digital marketing tip for 2019?
Aleyda: For this year, I would say that will be that any side owner at this point should be looking to enable a progressive web app and functionalities in their website. And realistically, this sounds a little bit like too technical in data, right? Progressive web apps really are web apps, that can be even websites, that provide this functionality that, until now, could be only found in apps.
Aleyda: So, offline access to be able to have them a direct access in your home screen [inaudible 00:09:03] for example. All this very cool functionalities that, until now, were only findable with apps, native apps. And of course, native apps can take so much to develop, additional resources, et cetera, et cetera.
Aleyda: Now, we are able to integrate this functionalities whether we’re on existing websites even. You kind of force develop your own app that is [inaudible 00:09:28] from scratch with JS Frameworks or whatever. But also, you can instal and configure service workers, web manifest. There are certain configurations that can be done in your website to easily enable a progressive web app type of functionality to make that your users can access to your content offline, to make your users can actually add an icon of your website in their fun home screen.
Aleyda: Actually, for websites that are small and don’t have technical knowledge, the easier way to do it is if they use WordPress. There are quite a few plugins already providing the progressive web app functionality. For example, Super PWA is one, and it’s actually one that I use myself for a few of my websites. It works pretty well. I will say that that can be something very easy to do if you have WordPress just by installing and configuring a plugin in that. It can already provide you, and allow you to be ahead of the curve that I see coming with this trend in technology.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. I’ll do is I’ll include a link to some blogs and information about progressive webs apps.
Aleyda: In fact, you know what? I wrote a blog post in December, so if you look in my website, the Solice block, you’ll find that I did this blog post about what are progressive web apps, how to enable them, how to optimise for them to make sure that they are also SEO friendly. And also, I did Crawling Mondays edition, my news video series, three weeks ago or so. Speaking about this same topic, and going through progressive web apps. Showing what are these opportunities, et cetera. There are quite a few resources out there. If you even search for Aleyda plus progressive web apps, you will see this information.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Well, I’ll include links to the Crawling Mondays and that as well. Thank you so much, Aleyda.
Aleyda: Oh, thank you for the opportunity. It’s really nice talking to you.
Kate Toon: So, I’m here with Jono Alderson, my favourite speaker from Yost Con, who did an amazing talk which you really had to be there to see, but you weren’t so you’ll never know. John O., tell us a little about who you are, what you are, why you’re here.
Jono: Well no, mate. If only I knew. I’m run special ops at Yost which many people know from our WordPress plugin, et cetera, that essentially means my job is to do all the weird stuff that doesn’t fit into anyone else’s job. Bits of RND and lots of giving weird presentations at weird conferences which is a huge amount of fun.
Kate Toon: So, really no one know what you do?
Jono: No, and I have no idea. I just turn up and have opinions about things and hope that nobody finds me.
Kate Toon: That sounds pretty awesome. Let’s get your opinion on what you think is the number one priority. The biggest thing for you in digital marketing in 2019.
Jono: Oh, exciting. I think more and more, I’m seeing all of the disciplines converge. The boundaries between SEO and CRO and reputation [inaudible 00:12:33] are all getting thinner and thinner and overlapping more and more. I think all tactics are converging on just have better stuff. For so long, digital has been a description of the toolkit and the tactics, and the world is maturing.
Jono: The one thing now is actually improve the thing you have and that you do. It’s so rare for SEOs and CROs and people to talk about maybe our products should be better, maybe we should address our pricing strategy, maybe we should fix our customer service. That’s the thing you should be focusing on now because everything else becomes commodified. Everyone has a team of smart people, everyone’s fixing their technology stack. Now, what we compete on is quality. Look inwards to the thing you do rather than trying to look for funky tactics.
Kate Toon: I love that. And that was pretty much what your presentation was about. Stop trying to play the system and do tricks and special things. Just focus on being a better person. It was about having a better product.
Jono: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s hard, but it’s meant to be hard. Businesses will struggle and they will look for shortcuts and ways they can spend less money and take less [inaudible 00:13:32] because that’s how they’re designed to work. But you will have to increasingly compete on quality and on differentiation. It is a lot of hard work, but that’s the game.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Thank you so much, John O.
Jono: Thank you very much.
Kate Toon: I’m here with Regine Le Roux, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Regine: Hi. It’s great to be here. I had run my own company. I’m the founder of Reputation Matters. We measure and manage reputations for organisations big and small.
Kate Toon: And what would be your biggest tip for businesses in 2019?
Regine: I think the most important thing is as much as you want to look at your marketing, invest in a good website and SEO, you do need to take a step back and look at your whole organisation. It’s so important to look at the building blocks internally. Do you have a vision? What are your values? Are you associating yourself with the right people? How are you speaking with your fellow colleagues, with your teammates? Because that is where your reputation starts as well, and then to use that as a guide of what you put onto your website and social media platforms.
Kate Toon: We were talking about this last night, and I found it fascinating ’cause I think that most people think about putting together a tone of voice and a brand strategy, but they don’t really think about their core values or kind of code of conduct, or how they just want to be portrayed in the world. I think obviously it’s something that you work with big businesses, but it’s something small businesses can apply as well, isn’t it?
Regine: Definitely. And I think the minute you can actually have your basics in place, start offer your business on an ethical footing. Even if you are a one man show, that is going to build the foundation, a solid foundation for you as you grow your empire going forward.
Regine: Even if you are a small business that’s just started out, it’s so important to have your building blocks in place right from the beginning. Of having an ethical organisation, ethical values to start off with because that’s actually the best way to start, small and ethical, and as you grow, by association, you will then attract mutually ethical organisations to do business with.
Kate Toon: That makes perfect sense to me. If you get those rules in place right at the beginning, then when you’ve grown into some huge beast of a company, your values’ll still be in tact.
Kate Toon: Here I am with Marieke Van De Rakt, and very lovely to have her back on the podcast for the second time. Very few people get to come on twice, Marika. You should feel honoured.
Marieke: I feel so honoured. Yes. That’s great!
Kate Toon: Tell everybody a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Marieke: I’m Marie Vaneract, and I’m the CEO of Yost. I think Yost’s most famous for our plugin, our SEO plugin for WordPress. I basically, together with three of my [inaudible 00:16:59], run the company. That’s what I do.
Kate Toon: And you’re also responsible for a lot of the content, and the courses, and things like this. So, I’m very interested to hear what is your number one marketing tip for businesses in 2019.
Marieke: Well, I think people or businesses should really take a step back and think about what it is they really want to do. Go back to your mission as it were. Think about which pages are the pages you really want to rank with. In order to answer that question, you have to ask yourself, “Why do I have a website in the first place? Why did I start a website?” Ask yourself that question, and do something with the answer.
Kate Toon: Yeah. I think that’s it ’cause I think you can get so far into your business, and you keep adding stuff to your site and doing different things that you do sometimes forget your mission statement or your unique selling proposition or your core audience. Do you agree?
Marieke: Right. That’s exactly it. Yes. And you should never forget that.
Kate Toon: Then, once you’ve worked that out, what’s the next step? Start culling? Start getting rid of pages? Start changing things?
Marieke: I think if you get to the point that you have the five pages your most pleased with, then you should make sure to incorporate those in your internal linking structure so that Google also sees those five pages and your audience finds those five pages.
Kate Toon: Yeah. It’s kind of a less is more approach do you think?
Marieke: I do think. Yes, yes. Or at least focus. It’s a matter of focus. Yes.
Kate Toon: Perfect. Thank you so much, Marika.
Marieke: You’re very welcome.
Kate Toon: Here I am with Maura Teel. Hello Maura.
Maura: Hello. How are you today?
Kate Toon: I’m good. I’m good. Recording lots of these little snippets. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Maura: I am a software developer at a company called Pagely where we do managed WordPress hosting.
Kate Toon: As a WordPress hosting person, I’m guessing that your digital marketing tip for 2019 might have something to do with websites? Am I right?
Maura: Yes. You are very correct.
Maura: My tip for digital marketers is to focus a little bit more on site performance, and making the site more accessible to the humans that want to visit it. Improve the page speed load time, improve how many assets are loaded, the size of the site. And make sure your ads, if you have ad revenue, perform well and are not taxing on the user.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. And are there any tools that you would recommend to kind of check out a site and check for those things?
Maura: Yes. I would recommend first looking at Google Page Speed, and there are a few other tools like GT Metrics and Pingdom and WebpageTest.org that are also … some are free, some are paid, but they’re fantastic tools to figure out where you’re gonna get started.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. I’ll include links to all of those in the show notes for this. My favorite’s Pingdom. I do love a bit of Pingdom. Thank you so much, Mora.
Maura: Thank you very much.
Kate Toon: Hello. So, here I am with Joost De Valk. I always get that wrong, but I did do that okay?
Joost: It was reasonably good. Joost De Valk, but it’s impossible to do for people who speak English.
Kate Toon: It’s really hard. Really difficult. Anyway, tell us a little bit about yourself if people don’t know who you are.
Joost: I’m the founder and chief product officer at Yost. I created Yost SEO a couple years ago, and was lucky enough to be able to build a company upon that with my wife and a lot of other people.
Kate Toon: And here we are at your conference. This whole episode is being recorded at Yost Con. All the experts here which is fabulous, and they’re having a wonderful time. But tell us, what is your number one digital marketing tip for 2019?
Joost: 2019 is really gonna be the year of Schema in my opinion. There’s a lot of post and stuff about Schema going on. I think the number one tip I would give people is to look at their own content and look at, okay, so what type of content are you putting out? And if you look at Schema.org, which type of content would you apply to your own content? Which Schema would you apply to your types of content? Then, start thinking about how you can do that. I think a winning strategy for the coming years will be to apply Schema in a proper way, and use it where you can. That requires you to think first about, okay, so what types of content do I have and which Schema applies to that?
Kate Toon: And with WordPress, obviously there’s a couple of different options. We’ve got plugins that will do it. But you were talking yesterday about Gutenberg and how that actually makes it a little bit easier. Can you expand on that just a little?
Joost: Yes. The new blocks in Gutenberg actually make it very easy for developers to make a content editing experience where you put in content, and the Schema is added in the back. So, you don’t really have to think about that. I think that is one of the very biggest strengths that Gutenberg offers our new editing environment. Yeah. I look forward to that. There’s already a tonne of plugins doing cool things with that. We’ll be doing cool things with that.
Joost: The guys from WP Munich are here. They’ve created a couple of very nice Gutenberg blocks as well. They were already asking how can we add Schema to that. It’s gonna be an exciting future.
Kate Toon: What i liked about your speech was that real humans shouldn’t have to worry about Schema.
Joost: No. What we do far too often is make users worry about technical things, and I don’t really think that most users are capable or should be capable of doing all that because they’re good at other things. Developers should fix those things for them. That’s our task, in a way, to make sure that people can do it.
Kate Toon: A world without having to worry about Schema. Sounds like a beautiful thing. Thank you very much.
Joost: Thank you.
Kate Toon: Here I am with Rand Fishkin. Hello Rand, how are you?
Rand: Lovely. Good to be here with you, Kate.
Kate Toon: And just for the people who don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Rand: Sure. I started a company called Maz a long time ago, and was CEO of that company for a number of years and then stepped down. I recently stepped away about 11 months ago, and started a new company called SparkToro. We are building some marketing software. It’s not ready yet, but hopefully will help solve the problem of where and to whom does my audience pay attention.
Kate Toon: And also, you’ve written a fabulous book called Lost Then Founder.
Rand: I had somehow forgotten. I don’t know how. No, no. Yes. You’re right. Thank you. Yeah, the book came out in … was that April or May of last year, and has been, yeah.
Kate Toon: Doing super well. Read it. It’s kind of quite raw. I loved it. Yeah. Anyway. Obviously, the question that we’re asking today on today’s little pod is what is your number one tip for businesses in digital marketing in 2019?
Rand: Generally, very, very broadly, I think that if everyone else in your field is ignoring a channel, ignoring a path, ignoring a type of content, ignoring a way to reach customers, it pays to invest in those places.
Kate Toon: So, be different. ‘Cause often the advice is watch what your competitors are doing, and then do it better.
Rand: Yeah. I think this is exactly the problem. I think too many of us are scared to expand our marketing to channels or to styles or to messages that are not already being used by our competition. That we haven’t already seen work. Because of that, the channels that are under invested in tend to be less expensive with higher ROI and by investing in them with creativity, you can just earn outsized returns.
Kate Toon: Is it about being a bit of a pioneer do you think?
Rand: Yeah. I don’t think you necessarily have to be the only person playing in a certain field, but if you are the only one like you, right? If you’re the only architectural firm that happens to produce visual illustration style content for Instagram, wow. You can really stand out among your peers who are just taking photos of their buildings and their diagrams. Right?
Kate Toon: So, different tactics. Another thing you’ve talked a lot about in your blog and on stage is all about trying to build a personal brand or build a brand in general ’cause it’s so hard to rank for what you do, and it’s always easier to rank for you are. I think people really struggle with how to do that. Do you have one extra tip, bonus tip for that?
Rand: Yeah. I think what’s funny is the people who struggle the hardest with that are the ones who are in the SEO world, right? Because in search engine optimization, it’s all focused on key words and how do I rank for these key words that already have demand, as opposed to how do I build demand for my own brand? One of the best ways to do that is to stand out with unique messaging and unique style and unique content. I think honestly one of the best ways to do that, especially in 2019, is to recognise that controversy. Doing something that makes you sort of a target that brings anger and hatred and … it doesn’t have to be that far, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be along political or sociopolitical lines, although that is working tremendously well for a lot of brands attaching themselves to values or messaging or movements. I think this can be powerful.
Kate Toon: I kind of do it a different way. I try and be funny. I don’t know if it always works, but you know, build a brand around being quirky or odd or talking about weird stuff that kind of doesn’t have anything to do with what you do. Just being a bit different.
Rand: Yeah. I think that certainly you can build a personal brand and a style that people associate with you personally. And that works great if your brand is very connected to a single individual, right? So, Kate Toon copyrighting awesome, works great, it’s you the human being. It could be more difficult if it was you inside a 50 or 100 person or 5,000 person company that where you’re trying to build a brand. But I think even then sometimes personal brands can be exciting.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Rand.
Rand: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Kate.