Some may argue that search engine optimization (SEO) is the bread and butter of any successful online platform or business. They're definitely not wrong.
Throughout the history of the world wide web, SEO has become increasingly important to web owners when it comes to driving higher traffic to a website or landing page, increasing conversions, or simply getting your brand or project name out there.
Unfortunately, many web owners and internet entrepreneurs underestimate the value of SEO when it comes to their business success. Either that or they find themselves behind on the latest trends, making common mistakes or even disregarding standard protocols regarding website optimization in accordance with Google's latest requirements.
But fear not! The Ucraft Team is here with a very special interview with none other than Ludwig Makhyan - Technical SEO Expert and author for SEJ and SEL. We asked Ludwig several questions regarding the latest trends, best practices, his tools of choice, and even advice for newbies.
Keep reading to learn more about the best SEO practices in 2023.
Ucraft x Ludwig: Exclusive Interview
Get to Know Ludwig
1. Hi Ludwig, thank you for taking the time to answer a couple of questions. We'd like to start off by asking you the standard corporate question, which is, of course, how you got into the SEO field. What attracted you to SEO in the first place?
I got into the SEO field as a web developer over 20 years ago. At that time, I was designing websites in Adobe Photoshop and coding them using HTML, CSS, and ASP. While building websites for the Armenian community with a friend, we realized we could optimize our sites with some easy tweaks and make them global platforms. This sparked my interest in exploring SEO and various digital marketing techniques, ultimately leading me to specialize in this field. What attracted me to SEO was the opportunity to make websites more visible and accessible to a larger audience, which ultimately helps businesses achieve their goals.
2. How long have you been working as a technical SEO specialist? What has changed since you first started?
My journey in technical SEO began around 10 years ago when I realized my technical background in web development could help me understand how websites work, the limitations of coding, database structures, and how technical automation could benefit SEO.
Over the years, SEO has undergone a significant transformation. In 2003, basic optimization techniques were sufficient to rank websites higher on search engines. Nowadays, SEO has become much more complex and sophisticated. A few tweaks here and there are no longer sufficient for success. SEO has evolved from basic optimization to a science, requiring a comprehensive approach to drive organic traffic to websites.
Modern-day SEO requires a broad range of skills and expertise. It's no longer just about search engines. Today, SEO encompasses UX/UI, technical implementation techniques, search engine algorithms, mobile optimization, local search, social media, voice search, and AI. As a technical SEO specialist, I have witnessed the evolution of SEO and have adapted to the latest developments to stay ahead in the industry.
Voice Assistant Search in SEO
1. What are your thoughts on voice assistant search as a prominent SEO trend in 2023? What are your best tips for incorporating VAS into an SEO strategy?
Voice search is indeed a prominent SEO trend and is expected to continue to grow in 2023. It's fascinating to see how technology has advanced to the point where our kids no longer have to type a search query; they can simply pick up their phone and ask Siri or Google Assistant a question. For instance, they might ask, "What is the best seafood restaurant near me?" and receive a personalized recommendation based on their previous search history or interests.
The popularity of voice search is not only due to convenience but because it makes our lives easier. As search engines become more advanced and personalized, it's crucial for businesses to adapt their SEO strategies to incorporate voice search. This includes optimizing their content to match how people speak (rather than type), focusing on local search queries, and providing quick, accurate answers to frequently asked questions. Voice search is a trend that businesses and SEO specialists cannot afford to ignore if they want to remain competitive in the digital landscape.
2. What key steps should a site owner take to optimize their website pages regarding voice assistant search?
Here are some tips to follow:
• Optimize for long-tail keywords
• Use natural language
• Optimize for local search
• Improve page speed
• Use a schema markup
• Look into Google Actions
3. What are some valuable tools that can help with tracking voice search keywords' volumes and search trends?
• Google Search Console and Google Trends are great for tracking search volumes and identifying trends over time.
• Google Keyword Planner can help identify long-tail keywords that are more likely to be used in voice searches.
• Ahrefs and Semrush are useful for researching competitors and identifying potential voice search opportunities.
• AnswerThePublic can help identify common questions related to your topic and optimize your content for natural language queries.
By utilizing a combination of these tools, you can gain valuable insights into voice search trends and optimize your content accordingly.
Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT
1. How do you think AI will change the future of SEO?
AI is becoming increasingly prevalent in search engines and other platforms, and it has the potential to greatly enhance the user experience. As technology continues to advance, AI will enable even greater customization of search results based on the individual user. For instance, if you frequently search for seafood restaurants, the AI will be able to provide more tailored recommendations based on your interests, dietary restrictions, location, and the reviews of others who share your preferences. This level of personalization can potentially revolutionize how we search for and discover new information online.
2. Do you think Chat GPT is a help or a hindrance for SEO specialists, and why?
I think it's important to acknowledge that AI is rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly relevant in the world of SEO. Whether you call it ChatGPT, Bard, or something else, it's all AI. However, as with any technological advancements, there will always be new challenges and opportunities for SEOs to navigate. Whether it's adapting to new coding standards or staying on top of the latest AI developments, the goal remains the same: to provide the best possible user experience and connect consumers with the businesses and products they need.
3. Have you had a chance to use ChatGPT yourself? If so, how did you implement it in SEO?
Absolutely, and not just playing around with ChatGPT but using it to generate code, automating the creation of metadata for a large number of pages, analyzing page code, and generating regex for daily use. These advancements can help SEO specialists save time and focus on other essential aspects of their work. However, it's important to note that AI should not replace human expertise and critical thinking in SEO strategy and decision-making.
Website Migration Risks
1. According to you, what is the optimal way of successfully migrating websites (with low risks for SEO)?
Migrating a website can be challenging, and minimizing risks to SEO is crucial.
At Mazeless Enterprise SEO, we specialize in complex website migrations and help businesses mitigate the risks of revenue loss. Here are some essential tips for a successful migration:
● Carefully plan the migration: Develop a comprehensive website migration checklist that outlines the migration process, timelines, people involved, and necessary resources. Include a thorough inventory of the existing site, such as URLs, content, and backlinks.
● Choose the right platform: go with a platform that meets your website's needs and supports features and functionality essential for SEO, like URL structures and redirects.
● Use 301 redirects: Do that to redirect old URLs to new URLs. This will ensure that search engines and users are directed to the new site and preserve backlinks. Avoid changing the URL structure unless necessary.
● Test the new site: Thoroughly test the new site before launch to ensure it functions correctly, and all content and links work correctly.
● Update internal links: Update internal links to reflect the new site structure and URLs.
● Notify search engines: Let search engines know about the site migration using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This will help search engines understand the new site structure and redirect old URLs to the new ones.
● Update backlinks: Update incoming links, at least those under your control.
2. Likewise, how can a site owner ensure that the URL rating doesn't fall and backlinks are not lost during migration?
It's important to conduct a thorough inventory of the existing site, including URLs and backlinks. This process is called rationalization. The information can then be used to create a redirect plan that preserves as many backlinks as possible. It's also important to avoid changing the URL structure unless it is absolutely necessary. If URLs must change, it's recommended to use 301 redirects to redirect old URLs to the new ones. Whenever a redirect is used, it can lead to loss of server resources, and the value of the link may also decrease. Hence, it is advisable to update the incoming links to the new URL as much as possible. By following these steps, businesses can successfully migrate their websites with minimal impact on SEO.
1. Please share your top 3 SEO tools.
I'd say GSC, ScreamingFrog, and either Ahrefs or Semrush.
2. Likewise, what are your top 3 tips for people just starting in the SEO sphere?
● Understand the basics
● Pick a test site to play with
● Start optimizing based on Google Search Essentials
3. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Tips? Anecdotes? Predictions?
In my opinion, SEO is not just about programming, it also involves marketing. Our goal is to improve a website's visibility, which is not always obvious to the naked eye. After spending a considerable amount of time in the industry, you tend to accumulate interesting and amusing anecdotes. I remember sharing some hilarious SEO comics on my Instagram account last year. Among them, the one that stands out the most for me is this one:
- Do you know any horror stories?
- Sure. Redesign your website.
That's a Wrap!
First of all, a massive thanks to Ludwig for agreeing to participate in this interview and for his detailed answers to every question. We hope this information was helpful and will allow you to power up your SEO game and reach new heights in terms of traffic, brand visibility, and revenue.
And if you're still looking to build a website and boost your SEO efforts, you can create one with Ucraft and use our built-in SEO tools to take your brand to the next level.