In this episode I speak with Lukasz Zelezny, Director of Organic Performance for ZPG Plc. Lukasz specifically works on the companies uSwitch brand. He has a vast experience with SEO and organic acquisition. We discuss the things he does to consistently improve the rankings for uSwitch. This touches on the customer experience and conversion rate optimisation as well. There are a ton of takeaways in this episode. Lukasz often refers to how the things we discuss relate to small and medium businesses.

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Last 5 questions:

What’s your best piece of marketing advice?
The best piece of marketing advice: go your own kung fu way. Have your own kung fu. Don’t try to copy anyone, because you are the most important asset in this whole story. The way how you will be dealing with it must be unique, and this is where the success is. So obviously don’t forget to self-educate yourself, read a lot, try different things. But at the end of the day, go your own way. SEO is the perfect example of everyone has a little different kung fu, and that’s the way how people are making this successful.

Can you recommend a book to our listeners?
I like everything from Dale Carnegie. Those are motivational books, but they really inspire me, because they’ve been written before the Second World War. And I can see him writing on the typewriter, these books, rather than using copy and paste from some blogs or using some ghostwriters.

What software tool couldn’t you live without?
Well, I am very lucky to have a wide spectrum of tools. So for keywords research, I am using Searchmetrics or SISTRIX. Then for links, obviously ahrefs and Majestic. For crawling, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, but also URL Profiler. And finally, for some social media optimization, I really like Viral Content Bee or Thunderclap.

What’s your favourite example of a marketing campaign?
You know, I don’t have that much from recent times. But every time I’m thinking about the perfect TV commercial, I’m thinking that there was, in 1998, you had this football award cup in France. And I remember one advert, and I saw this advert only one time. So that was when France became one of the two in the final, though they were playing against Brazil. And before this match, there was this block of the commercial, and they were a gray black and white, like a grayscale video of the whole French team holding a ball. And they’d been dressing with this Adidas dress, and they’ve been doing laughing, but everyone was saying, “Merci, merci.” And the color, I was just swiping to the next one, next one, next one, next one. And then finally there was a big logo of Adidas.

And I remember my reaction, when I saw this advert, I was with my colleagues, and that was actually in France. We’d been that day in France. We just looked at each other and were like, “Oh my gosh, that was so amazing.” It had so much emotional impact, you know? It was just a simple word, thank you. And then they won the World Cup, and it was mind-blowing.

Which other podcasts do you listen to?
I am a big fan of David Bain Digital Marketing Radio. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to listen. And obviously I’m listening to some American podcasts. One of them I need to take a look, because I forgot the title. I have this in my podcast list, Perpetual Traffic and Art of Paid Traffic. And I need to tell you, I have one podcast which is an absolutely unusual podcast. It’s Amoss Presents The Cranium Session, it’s a drum and bass podcast where they are playing the new drum and bass releases. And I had the pleasure to be there once with my track.

And I’m sometimes … Yeah, it’s a very unusual approach to have a podcast called drum and bass, but there are a couple of … And then obviously I have a couple of friends from Poland who are recording podcasts. There is Margo who is recording Start Up My Life, very interesting podcast. Again, this is in Polish, so whoever is listening to us and speaks Polish, I would recommend Start Up My Life.

Transcription:

Matt Byrom:
Hello and welcome to this episode of the Marketing Strategies Podcast. Today I’m joined by Lukasz Zelezny, who is Director of Organic Performance for ZPG Plc. They own some of the UK’s most prominent property websites, including Zoopla, uSwitch, PrimeLocation, and SmartNewHomes. Lukasz is also a regular speaker at search and digital marketing conferences around the world.

Matt Byrom:
I’m extremely excited to talk about acquisition in detail today. So let’s dive right in. How are you today, Lukasz?

Lukasz Zelezny:
Hi, Matt. Thank you very much for invitation. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today. I’m very well, thank you very much, and it’s the first days of Spring when we’re recording this so that makes me very happy.

Matt Byrom:
It makes me very happy as well. I can’t wait until it’s Summer, to be honest.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah.

Matt Byrom:
So I’m interested to learn more about your experience. You’ve got a CV that starts back in 2000, and it, interestingly, doesn’t stray any position from SEO and PPC. And for the majority of that time as well, you’ve been working for companies in the property industry, which is particularly interesting. Please tell me more. I’m interested to learn about your background.

Lukasz Zelezny:
So I could talk about this a little longer than normally, because there is lots that are happening this, pretty much, 15 years. But in a nutshell, I’m always kind of this guy between art and science. And back in the day, I was a lot into music, and then that was like my art nature. And this arty nature, I could allocate a little more into something like a CO, with is partly like a science but partly like art.

So if you go to my LinkedIn, for example, you can see that I … It’s been 11 years I’m in UK. I was born in Poland, and I was even in Poland in 2000, 2007, I was doing some SEOs early days.

I’ve been a DJ and I had a website. Because I was born in a small town, I wanted to play gigs, and the music that was in was drum and bass. And the drum bass gigs been only these big, big towns, these cities. So I had to build a website, then I started to understand how to analyze traffic that was pre-Google Analytics era. And then that started picking up. I started to have bookings, because so much fan, but obviously parents won’t be paying bills for all your life. So then I had to find something that will combine my passion with my work. And thank God I never wanted to do music as my profession, because I was always thinking that this is very arty, and so on and so on.

So I was like okay, I have a skill. I know how to make websites that are getting traffic.

Matt Byrom:
That’s interesting, though, I think for a DJ to actually spend time doing SEO is quite interesting. Usually it would be a promotion of CDs, or getting your name about there really, but you chose to go the search engine route to promote your business. That’s an interesting way to go about it.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, but you see, I was thinking the same way back in the day, like you just said right now. But more … I’m in this industry more, I’m less surprised. Back in the day I was working with another DJ very often, some musicians are working with me who are in SEO, painters, poets. So I think this … molecule of art is very often visible inside these people who are working in this industry.

So back to the main story, in 2007 I moved to England, and I started working for a small company near Holborn. Then I moved to Fleetway Travel, and I moved to Thomson Reuters, then finally I was working properties for HomeAway, that kind of is I think a part of Expedia. And then I was moving to uSwitch, which is an absolutely fantastic company to work for. And as you may know, we’ve been acquired by ZPG two years ago. So right now, it’s not only price comparison websites, but also property I’m responsible for. And it’s a fascinating world.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, because I guess the company uSwitch and ZPG, they do a lot of different things. So I’ve seen one of your presentations while I was doing some research. You were saying that actually, you do all different kinds of price comparison, which means that you’ll get to learn about all different industries as well.

Lukasz Zelezny:
So in a nutshell, ZPG owns Zoopla, and this is part of Property Division. And then you have Comparison Division, which is uSwitch and money for UK, and that’s our two main branches of what ZPG is currently dealing with.

Matt Byrom:
And for a long time, your role was mainly focused around uSwitch, is that right?

Lukasz Zelezny:
That’s correct, for five years I was the head of SEO for uSwitch.

Matt Byrom:
And your current role at the moment, does that cover all acquisition channels for the business?

Lukasz Zelezny:
It covers pretty much SEO, but for different brands. So right now I’m responsible for uSwitch and Zoopla.

Matt Byrom:
Okay, that’s really cool. And you recently moved from the Head Of role to the Director role?

Lukasz Zelezny:
That’s correct, yes.

Matt Byrom:
And what does that change involve? What does moving from the Head Of uSwitch to the Director of Zoopla, I guess, at ZPG?

Lukasz Zelezny:
So right now, like I said, I’m responsible for uSwitch and Zoopla. And obviously my team is much bigger, and we have fantastic opportunity to exchange information between teams, because … Maybe we will get there later in this conversation today, but the SEO for each of these websites I mentioned is very different. So SEO for uSwitch is different from SEO for Zoopla. And because of that, this exchange of information is really, really cool and critical.

Matt Byrom:
I’m interested in that. So when you say the exchange of information, it’s really about what you learn in doing the SEO for different businesses, those two very different end goals, I guess. You switch between teams to learn more and upgrade each other’s skills as you go along.

Lukasz Zelezny:
That’s correct. And, you know, I’ve been very lucky that I had before … First of all I was always working for client site, and I was working for property or listing websites as well as very content-driven websites. So when I was in Thomson Reuters, I was working for a brand called [Contact Glow 00:07:51], which was very highly content-driven. And then when I was in HomeAway, then I was working on property websites.

Then right now in ZPG, we have Zoopla, which is very much listings and properties. On the other side, we have uSwitch, which is highly content-driven. And the team is, right now, quite big. So we have lots of brainstorms, lots of chats every day about different solutions, not only how to achieve things but how to track. Because we also are doing a lot about analytics, traffic tracking, conversion rate, and so on and so on.

And we’re doing lots of support to other parts of the business, so other teams. We’re acting like those people who can answer some difficult questions sometimes.

Matt Byrom:
And can you tell me then what is different about the websites and how you attack those two websites differently, in terms of an SEO strategy?

Lukasz Zelezny:
So obviously I cannot share all my secrets, but-

Matt Byrom:
That’s why you’re here, I thought.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, but obviously it’s all about quality. It’s all about quality and it’s all about giving people a fantastic experience. So if I can say about uSwitch, then we are trying to make sure that people, when they’re looking for some questions related to our products, they can find those answers on our websites. And that’s why we have in-house copywriters who are highly skilled. They understand the product. They understand the tone of voice. They understand many aspects of how the business is working. That’s obviously a bit challenging, because you cannot outsource the content. You cannot go to someone and say, “You know what? Write me 10 articles.”

And that’s very similar to what I experienced when I was working in Thomson Reuters. When we had to write articles about law, and that was pretty much being able … The only people who were able to deliver those articles being lawyers who on some point wanted to be copywriters. No one else can write about different aspects of law, and what’s the difference in UK business law or family law, and so on and so on.

So I think to make sure that the content is written properly, you need to have an expert. And I’m very lucky to work with people who are experts. From the other side, you have Zoopla, which has listings. So it’s more technical SEO, it’s more focused on technical aspects of how the website is performing.

Again, I don’t want to go too deep into this, because that will inflate this conversation to a couple of hours. But obviously, think of it this way, we are living in a very dynamic time in terms of SEO. You may think, “Well, it’s been 15 years.” Some people are even saying, “SEO, that still works.” But I think 2017 and 2018 have been extremely dynamic. So many different new things appeared. So many different things became important, that we as a team who are sitting every day in the office, we not only need to give proper answers, but also we need to educate ourselves every day to make sure that we are catching all the changes and all the requirements that are dynamically changing.

Matt Byrom:
And what factors are you seeing as the most relevant for you at the moment? If there’s many factors changing, which ones are really moving the needle for you, or which ones are you having to adapt to at the moment?

Lukasz Zelezny:
Well, it’s difficult to say which I see the most important, because this is always an opinion. And opinions can be easily challenged. But if you would come to me and say, “Lukasz, what should I take care of?” I may be in a better position to answer, and I would say, “First of all, the load speed.” That’s one of the most important.

If your website is really relying on content, then again, I will say this right now, and for many listeners that can be an obvious thing, but for some listeners that may not be an obvious thing. So the content must be absolutely unique. There are no shortcuts, and this content should not be in tabs or in hidden [inaudible 00:12:42], or in some expandables. Try to avoid those as much as you can.

Then, obviously, the content length. I’m always saying it’s better to have much more solid pages, but less pages, so quality not quantity. Make sure … And it’s good practice to count the number of words. Make sure that your landing page that is describing the problem is at least 800, or 1,000, or 1,500 words. So you really dive deep in the problem. Obviously, that must be expertise. That must be written … It should not be just written to inflate this article to 1,500 words.

And again, 1,500 words is not like a magic bullet. It’s not like 1,600 words is better or 1,400. But make sure that this content is long enough. Make sure that the content is a media reach. If you embed a video, maybe it’s worth it to write a transcript below the video. When you’re uploading images, make sure that those are your images, not stock photos images. Then take care of those little elements like [inaudible 00:13:52] keyword in the file name of the image. Follow the recent changes about meta description. Meta description has always been around 150 characters. Right now it’s more than 300 on desktop, and 190 characters on mobiles.

And finally, you have the whole range of schema markups that still, people rarely are using them. I would say this is the way to go with schema markups, to make Google understand better how your website is structured. That’s in a nutshell, that’s in a nutshell.

Matt Byrom:
I like the nutshell, it was good. It covered quite a lot of points there.

Lukasz Zelezny:
You know, I’m just trying to make sure that our listeners can easily take this conversation we have and make some action points, and can implement this in their day to day tasks, day to day work. So I think everything I said right now, potentially is actionable.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the whole point of this, to take away some marketing strategies that you can implement or even at least just test in your own business, to see what works.

And one thing that you touched on is obviously content for both websites. And, you know, content we’ve always looked at as answering questions for people that are searching for answers. But now, as you touched on as well, it’s more important than ever to make sure that the content is as in-depth as possible, so you’re really creating the very best page about that particular topic or the answer for that particular question that you can.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Absolutely. I have a friend, actually, and I will tell you an example. And he’s a Polish friend who is blogging about … She’s a very pretty girl who is working in Brand24, which is a brand tracker, fantastic software. But she’s also working on her own blog, and you won’t believe, this blog is about tractors.

Matt Byrom:
Okay.

Lukasz Zelezny:
You understand, like an oldest machines you would use on farming. She just likes this. And she is so much into that that she becomes an expert, and right now her blog is not only often visited and she’s got traffic, but she’s also invited to many events and so and and so on. And she found a niche that had been quite abandoned in this online world. And I think this is a great example of someone who is really an expert in their area. One day I will potentially, would like to change profession. I have my niche as well, and I will share this with you. I’m rarely doing this, but I think that’s a good moment.

I want to be a beekeeper. And I will learn everything about bees, and then I will create a website, and there will be absolutely everything: expertise, opinions about how to keep bees, and so on and so on. Because that’s kind of important for me, because I’m always worried about why bees are almost disappearing from many regions.

Matt Byrom:
And that’s obviously I guess an interest, but something that you could write on once you’ve learned all about it in an authoritative way that probably isn’t as competitive as many other niches, for example.

Lukasz Zelezny:
That’s another story, yes. So this is what makes me pushing to learn more and more. Because the niche I am operating in is very competitive. So let’s get back to uSwitch. You have car insurance, you have loans, you have broadband, mobile deals, those are very, very competitive areas. And to make our content better than others, we really need to think deep and be a couple of steps ahead of our competitors.

So another thing that I can mention to this list of actionable points would be to make sure that if your website is based on content, then probably you should make your website AMP-ready, so accelerated mobile pages, the pages that are opening super fast on the mobile devices. And this is probably … I would risk to say that that maybe a requirement, not a suggestion, not something that you may or may not implement in a couple of years.

Matt Byrom:
And what success are you finding in terms of … I guess what I mean is that people will open an AMP page, read the article … Are you finding that people are then sticking on the website or moving through to other pages of the website from your AMP pages?

Lukasz Zelezny:
So that’s the challenge of AMP. People may not stay, but again, it’s a double-sided coin. Right now it’s still in early stage. If you want to be in the game, you may need to implement this solution in the future.

But there are ways to make people stay on the website after AMP. So making sure that once they land on an AMP, there is something that will make people go on the next page. And this is very classic approach to content, to make sure that the pages procession, which is a metric that everyone can see on Google Analytics. So page procession is growing. And how to achieve this?

One of the ways, and again, I will be referring to the solutions that can be easily implemented. If anyone is using WordPress, and I believe we will have lots of people right now listening to us and using WordPress, there are some solutions like some clients that really have to increase this with very little effort. I will give you two names, one is SEO Smart Links, which allowed you to pick up words or phrases in the content and link to another page. And you keep the consistency.

The other one is inline-related posts. So that plug and insert in the content, a little call to action which is like, “Hey, also read here,” and so on and so on.

Finally, most of the business is trying to convert. So obviously there is nothing wrong to have an AMP page on the beginning of the journey, and then attracting people to go further down the journey, up to the conversion through some call to actions. That’s absolutely fine. That makes no difference if you have AMP or non-AMP.

So there are ways to keep people on the website, even if you’re using AMP. And I would say that businesses probably have an easier or a range of things to make sure that people are staying on the website. Newspapers, these big publishers, may struggle a little more, because yes, it’s very often like you landing on the article screen and then swiping back to Google.

Matt Byrom:
And are you actually optimizing, really, or trying to get … Is your ideal entrance page one of your articles or the blog, for example? Are you really trying to get people to one of the product pages, or the comparison pages, or the property pages, for example? Where are you really optimizing for? Where are you ideally trying to get people into the websites?

Lukasz Zelezny:
Well, so there is not one way. In the property, obviously we have listing pages and we have property pages. And it’s very much a long-tail keywords that are attracted to, or that are triggered.

And then you have plenty of options in the comparison. One of the options you mentioned is like guide pages. So it’s kind of an education, answering the questions and making sure that people have an answer, and also can learn about your business.

Another type of content can be some tools, some calculators, and so on and so on. And then another content type that’s blog and news. So if blog and news is very time-sensitive content describing some current situation in the market, Apple released a new iPhone, or there are some new tariffs on the broadband, then the guide is pretty much an evergreen content. And value not that often is changed, only when some circumstances will force us to change and modify the content.

So those are just a few examples. Then obviously, I would step back a little from what I’m doing day to day. And again, I would just try to give advice to our listeners. You need to remember that there is also Google My Business, that the proper configuration of Google My Business may increase tremendously the number of clicks to your website, to your homepage, pretty much.

And all these little strategies that help to leverage the traffic. So when you have an evergreen content that is answering the question, and you’re ranking high, automatically in my head there is this little blink that potentially you may see if that or other keywords related to this content trigger a featured snippet, or some people call this answer box. So can you secure this answer box spot? So some people are calling this position zero. So you will be in both the organic results, and then also in the organic results.

Matt Byrom:
And I guess a lot of what you’ve said is really ticking boxes. So it’s to make sure that you’re using all the different tools that Google gives you, particularly that are available like AMP, and Google My Business, and the featured snippets, and schema, and things. Really, I guess what you’re saying is try and take advantage of all these different things to give yourself the best chance of being visible, and then to stand yourselves against the other people that are sharing in the search engine results page as well.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Absolutely. And Google, right now, with the new Google Search Console, made life very … Maybe not very easy, but much easier in many aspects. I think new Google Search Console is a fantastic tool that gives lots of powerful insights. And that’s another tip: always trying to follow these low-hanging fruits, or maybe not always, but often, low-hanging fruits, these quick wins. So going to Search Console and looking at what keywords are receiving traffic, but are not on the first or second position. Or what pages are receiving traffic relatively high, but could rank higher.

Then going to Google Analytics and checking conversions per URL, and trying to answer, “Hey, can we try to run a little higher on this page and 100 other pages?” Because this is when you’re scaling up. So pick up one page, second, third, but do this one day. And another day, optimize another three, four, five pages. After a week, you have 20, 30, 40 pages optimized. And then after a month, you have 100. That is really a game-changer for your website.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, little by little, bit by bit, and you’ll get there, really, I guess is what you’re saying there.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Consistency.

Matt Byrom:
Consistency, yeah. What would you look at to optimize a page? What would be the main factors? I know we’ve touched on a few, which are the tools that Google gives you. But if you were looking at a page of content, how would you decide which keywords you really want to rank for, I guess, and then how would you optimize the page around what your main tactics are or the first point of call for you to look at?

Lukasz Zelezny:
I really like this question. I mean, I like all your questions, but this one is one of my favorites, because I’m often covering this topic on conferences. And there are videos on my website, as well. So I have two tactics: one I call gap, and the other I call snapshot.

So gap is pretty much what I said a couple of seconds ago. Take all the keywords from Search Console, from SEMrush, from Searchmetrics, from SISTRIX, from SpyFu, from any other tool, from aHrefs, from any other tool you have access to. And if you have more than one, that’s even better, because you have a wider spectrum of what’s going on with your website.

And then when you have these keywords, try to figure out which keywords are ranking five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. They’re already in the top 10, they’re already on the first page, but maybe with a little effort here and there you could push them a little up on position four, maybe three, maybe even two; ideally, in position one. And that can be achieved pretty much quickly. Improve your content. Make your content richer. Try to make your website working faster. There is lots of advice. And again, I would be referring to WordPress, because I believe that lots of people right now are using WordPress. If not, then go to your developer, have a chat, have anything, and find out if your CSS is minified, if your JavaScript is minified. If you don’t have direction chains, if you’re compressing properly your images …

And those little bits and bumps that will really, really change the game. But obviously it’s important to make sure that you’re tracking this properly. So make sure that you constantly have access to Google Analytics, that you’re using properly granular data per URL, for example, per URL, per traffic source, organic and specific URLs, and so on and so on.

And that was a snapshot. The other one is gap. And gap is pretty much finding gaps in content, or in any type of content, it doesn’t need to be just guides. It can be tools, it can be anything else. Between you and your competitors, and ideally when you’re looking at a competitor that is bigger, stronger than you. So there is a SEMrush right now, which implemented this … So you didn’t use even an Excel. But how it works, it’s pretty much like you need to pull keywords from two websites, or three websites, when one of these websites is yours and the two others are competitors.

And you can say in the SEMrush, “Hey SEMrush, show me keywords where I am not ranking but these two other websites are simultaneously ranking in Google.co.UK.” And if you have too many keywords, then you can narrow this to say, “Show me keywords that I am not ranking, but these two other websites are ranking in the top 10.”

And then you can export this to Excel, and you can even start filtering by URLs, deeper look, and that way you can simply find that, okay, these two guys wrote about something, about a topic that I have never talked about. So it’s a very interesting exercise, not only for an SEO but also for a business. You can do this for eCommerce, and then you can figure out not only the content you’re missing, but you can also figure out that there is a gap in the products you, or your business, or the business you’re working for is offering.

And you can go to someone who’s responsible for stock, or the business owners, and say, “Listen, I think that we should really go into this and this area, not only because of SEO, but also because of our business performance.”

So these two approaches, especially gap, can be very influential not only for SEO but also other areas of the business. When snapshot is pretty much easy to implement, day to day work. And if our listeners would like to know a bit more, like I said, I have a website. Maybe later would be a time I will give the URL, and there are two videos where I’m trying to explain this a little more deeper.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, I’ll put those videos, I’ll get those videos off you, Lukasz, and we’ll put those videos in the show notes. We’ll embed those so that people can view those as well. That would be highly useful.

We use ahrefs, and we, it does a similar thing where you can compare different websites and see which they’re ranking for that you’re not ranking for. It’s a great way to actually spot gaps, like you said, in the market and the other things that you’re not ranking for that you really should be or could be.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Absolutely. And if you give me like 30 seconds more, then I have really right now in my head, internal search. Wherever you have the ability to use internal search or implement internal search on your website, that’s also very important. Make sure that you’re tracking this properly in your Google Analytics. And then take a look what people are typing when they finally land on your website, because that’s also, that data has tremendous value.

Matt Byrom:
That’s great. Like say, for example, we have a piece of content. And we feel like we should be ranking for a particular keyword, but actually we’re ranking in, say, position seven. And we feel like, actually, the piece of content could be ranking higher. How would you actually suggest that people … What could you suggest that people do to influence that position ranking from seven to, say, the top three?

Lukasz Zelezny:
So when you are seven, then probably there are six other websites above you. And I would start, probably, by looking on their websites. What I like about the website that took over me, why potentially they are ranking higher than me.

This exercise can teach me a lot to help me understand what these guys are doing, and why they are ranking higher. Obviously there can be other factors, like they have more backlinks, or their domain is older, or their domain has higher authority. But generally I would start from this.

And then, obviously like I said before, first, content expansion. Is our content long enough? And if you imagine that our content is long enough, then we can go into what I call clusterization or building mini apps around some terms. So I will give you an example.

If you’re thinking about holidays to Egypt, then obviously there is a [hap 00:32:38] that is called Egypt. And inside, there will be Hurghada, there will be Cairo, there will be plenty of other destinations that are kind of linked to Egypt, but that are more specific destinations. And pretty much most of the websites are building the structure of the architecture of information that there is www.example.com/Egypt/Hurghada, or like holidays.com/Spain/Barcelona/Madrid.

So you’re trying to write even more specific content which will be sitting inside, lower to the main page that we were trying to rank. There may be a bit of cannibalization then that may happen, because the URL that was ranking seven may completely disappear, and the new content may take over. But this is the situation when you have pretty long content, and you are right now thinking, “What next?”

If your content is not long enough, that’s pretty easy. Just write another two, three paragraphs. Try to do some tweaks. Make sure that maybe the intro of the article will really contain some terms you would like to rank. But do this carefully, because obviously you don’t want to go into anything like keyword stuffing over and over and over, using the same phrase. Because that definitely won’t help. That’s not anymore 90s when those pretty easy techniques were working.

Make sure that the page you want to rank is also properly linked from other pages. One of the very easy strategies, that’s very critical. You really want to rank higher, maybe make sure that this page is linked directly from the top menu or the footer menu. Because then every page across your website will be linking to that one page. So when you go to some flight websites, or a holidays website, again, this example I think is the best, where often on the bottom there are lots of links like cheap flights to Sweden, cheap flights to Finland, cheap flights to Norway, and so on and so on.

And even Google is using this, because kind of right now it’s standard. Even if you go to Google flights, I saved screenshots, I don’t know if this is still there. But on the bottom in the footer, there were lots of these links. And obviously some people may think that, well, it’s quite controversial. But at the end of the day, lots of people are clicking on these links, so there is an added value. And maybe that was … I was reading the debate that maybe that was back in the day looking a little spammy. Then today, because for so many years people were using this solution, then right now people are really expecting to see those links in the bottom. And when they don’t, they’re very often freaking out, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, what should I do right now on the website?”

Matt Byrom:
I guess that comes down to user experience as well, doesn’t it? If it’s not there as well, even though it might be looking a bit spammy or whatever, if it’s not there …

Lukasz Zelezny:
Exactly, exactly.

Matt Byrom:
And so let’s talk about backlinks a little bit. Backlinks are obviously … Well, you tell me. Do you feel they’re still very important in SEO? And if so, what is your current take on the strategy to acquire backlinks?

Lukasz Zelezny:
Well, I don’t think that they are as important as they’ve been a couple of years ago. But obviously, they are important. And there is no easy way of going with it. First of all, backlinks building right now is extremely time-consuming. And you really need to do this right, not to fall into any manual penalty. So I will be always saying, “Stay away from any …” [Matt Coates 00:36:36] had this phrase, “Fly by night link building.” And rather, try to make sure that this is done something like a long time perspective. I can show you a couple that I’m doing right now for my website.

So I mentioned Brand24, and I have my name in sign language. It’s relatively unique. So when I see Brand24, I know that somewhere I had a mention, and then I can go to this website, try to contact the owner, say, “Thank you,” say that I’m very grateful, and then ask if that would be fine if you could put a link to my website. And pretty often they are absolutely fine with this. I don’t care that much if this is the do follow, no follow, I’m never specifying this.

For the other side, believing that the interesting content will acquire links automatically is a pretty fairytale, and that doesn’t work this way. It’s a theory. I probably don’t have this kind of magic bullet for link building these days. Because I have this advantage of working for big brands that makes me in a position that these links, yes, they are coming naturally. They are, we can see, using tools like Majestic or aHrefs that these links are naturally coming to our websites. For small brands, like I said, try to use something that works for you. And the smaller brands have an advantage that they don’t need to follow any brand code of conduct approaches. So for a small brand, it’s much easier to contact someone who mentioned that brand and say, “Hey, thank you very much. Maybe you can link to me.”

For big brands, that very often wouldn’t look good. So I know that’s not a perfect answer, but that’s probably the best answer I have at the moment.

Matt Byrom:
That’s cool. And I guess I’ll just dip in for the listeners. One of the things that we’ve found most successful over the last few years, actually, is actually creating content that people really want and would link to. And what we found to be most successful is creating content that research, so data and statistics, unique data … So we poll every year our customers, and social media, and the wider world, to ask them how they’re using videos. So our business, my business, is in the explainer video niche, which is a small niche but definitely booming at the moment with the importance of video.

And we ask people how they’re using video, so customers from the consumer point of view and businesses from the business point of view. How are they using video, and how are things changing year over year? And we get tons of really, really interesting statistics. And these are linked to by people using those statistics, and bloggers, of course, and other places as well. And we find that’s a great way to not just generate links, but really authoritative links, and also to generate traffic and relationships as well with brands that want to use our statistics and data.

Lukasz Zelezny:
I couldn’t agree more with you, because especially you mentioned this word “relation.” I think that’s, right now, very, very important to have. It’s more about relation than just shortcut.

One thing that you reminded me, often I’m receiving this request to participate in round ups. And I’m receiving this from random sources. Obviously I’m always trying to give my best answers that also deliver some links to my website. And finally, biographies, which have been many years ago point blank SEO said about this, because I’m a speaker at them moment, so every time I am giving my biography there is a link. Very often, when the event owner is uploading this on their own website, this link is preserved so that also leverage back link profile.

Matt Byrom:
Fantastic. And so what I’d like to just bring this back to your businesses, the brands that you manage, sorry. And I want to ask a simple question which has probably a big answer, but over your time with these brands, what has been the thing or the few things that you’ve implemented that have given you outsize results? What’s really worked well for you as a business? And is there anything that listeners could then take away from that?

Lukasz Zelezny:
I think when we noticed that there are these new solutions like answer boxes, featured snippets, that, I would say, was one of the most important lessons for me. Because as you know how the answer boxes are working, there is no magic trick in HTML. There is no tag that you can add and magically appear there. It’s kind of Google artificial intelligence that is deciding who can be in this answer box, and there is only one answer box on this specific keyword. So that makes us think more about how Google wants us to title this content, and how to maybe use even simpler language for some questions and answers that people may understand us better.

So that was one, and the other one that was always working very well, it was taking care of all the technical aspects across the whole website. So I am a big fan of DeepCrawl software that is probably kind of industry standard these days. And a crawling website with passion, and I love crawling websites. So I’m crawling a lot.

Matt Byrom:
And what tool are you using for that?

Lukasz Zelezny:
DeepCrawl.

Matt Byrom:
Okay, DeepCrawl, cool.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, DeepCrawl, and yes, I think they’re doing an absolutely amazing, amazing job. So I’m crawling the website, and that gives me a pretty nice view on what’s going on with all the technical aspects and these little bits and bumps that should be fixed. What I really like is to go over it selectively, so crawling only one part of the website, one section of the website. I’m trying to slice it, and then I can have a nice granular view. So there’s two things, I would say, because I don’t want to repeat anything I said before. But these two things I would say are very important for me.

Matt Byrom:
Thanks very much, and I guess we talked a lot about acquisition, SEO, particularly, and I’m interested to take that forwards, I guess, into how do you track the results? What are the important metrics that you look for, and what tools are you using to track those metrics?

Lukasz Zelezny:
So there are, right now on the market, plenty of tools like SEMrush, like Searchmetrics, like SISTRIX that can tell a lot about rankings. But I am not that big a fan of rankings anymore, because that is kind of not the whole picture. I’d rather try to focus on what I see in Google Analytics. That’s my primary source of information. And what I’m looking on is very often what I call organic traffic and organic non-biased traffic. And then when you have these two metrics, you can compare them year to year, because obviously that makes perfect sense to compare year to year when you have this predictable fluctuation over the year.

So you imagine when you know what is your non-biased organic traffic in January 2018, then you can compare this with non-biased organic traffic in 2017. So let’s go deeper. If you have 100,000 visits, when you’re going to go straightaway without anything like non-biased anything, you’re going to your Google Analytics, and you can see that in January 2018 you had let’s say 10,000 visits. And in January 2017 you had, again, 10,000 visits. That looks like there was no growth. But then let’s say you and other teams were working hard to make content much better, much more engaging, and so on and so on. And the bounce rate has been decreased by 50 persons. Then when you strike all those bounced visits, and you compare once again, you will see amazing traffic.

So that will be the one approach. And obviously the other approach is going the granular way, per URLs, per traffic source, which [inaudible 00:45:32] SEO. And looking on the factors like conversion rate, revenue, and conversion volume. And then again compiling this to previous year, the year after previous year, because that is giving much more context.

I’m trying to keep these things quite simple. I remember someone a long time ago, many years ago, told me this rule which sounds like KISS: keep it stupid simple. Or …

Matt Byrom:
Simple stupid.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah. You see, I’m trying my best, but it sticks somewhere in my brain, you see. And I’m trying to avoid the word stupid, I was going to keep it super simple.

Matt Byrom:
Keep it super simple.

Lukasz Zelezny:
I don’t want to make-

Matt Byrom:
Politically correct.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, I don’t want … Yes, I’m trying not to make anyone feel upset about this. But yeah, I think what gives me a lot of context and what gives me this anchor that I can anchor myself is to compare what was last year and how we look like this year. Obviously there are also forecasts, and that’s also important, and some of the listeners may be a bit upset because they may not have this previous year data. I know, that’s difficult, because you cannot anchor yourself anywhere. And even if you had the first year and then you are in the second year of the website’s existence, then you may see 1,000 person growth because there was pretty much zero in last year, and last year we have a couple of thousand. So that artificially inflates.

But for established business, I think making sure that you’re comparing this year to year, and keeping this simple, going into Google Analytics. Do not try to over-complicate, because this is another problem of this industry. Very often, or sometimes, there are people who are taking so much time into digging in this data, which is great, but that doesn’t change anything of the performance. You just have a view of where things are, how they look like, and so on and so on. It’s like you would be looking on an unfinished painting, and looking on a different part of this unfinished painting. Finally you take a brush and start painting, and then you will finish the painting.

Obviously now you don’t want to finish this painting, it’s like a never-ending story. Because there is always something to be done, and there is next year, and next year, and next year.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, absolutely. And there’s always another thing to track, and improve, and improve. And I guess a follow-on question for that would be around funnels. Are you tracking different funnel stages, and how people might move through the website in a journey? And then are you using that data, then, if you do track, to improve conversion rate at each of those funnel stages to get a greater end result?

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yes, absolutely. Google Analytics gives me a lot of insight, also external tools like a similar one can help me understand more about the referring traffic not only for myself but also for competitors, which is also very important information.

Finally, you have tools which can visualize all this journey. And I’m thinking right now about tools like HotJar, which can record session, and that could also be very interesting to see how people are moving between pages.

Matt Byrom:
And we actually also use one called Heap Analytics, which lets us track the funnel stages in a lot of detail, as well. It’s a fantastic tool.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, I’ve been working with Heap Analytics last December, I think, it’s a really fantastic tool, yeah.

Matt Byrom:
Okay, so I’d love to take this to our last five questions, which is five quickfire questions. And the first question that I have for you is: what’s your best piece of marketing advice?

Lukasz Zelezny:
The best piece of marketing advice: go your own kung fu way. Have your own kung fu. Don’t try to copy anyone, because you are the most important asset in this whole story. The way how you will be dealing with it must be unique, and this is where the success is. So obviously don’t forget to self-educate yourself, read a lot, try different things. But at the end of the day, go your own way. SEO is the perfect example of everyone has a little different kung fu, and that’s the way how people are making this successful.

Matt Byrom:
Fantastic. And I guess that’s, particularly for small businesses, it’s all about story, as well, and that falls in line with that.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Exactly, absolutely.

Matt Byrom:
And can you recommend a book to our listeners?

Lukasz Zelezny:
The book, does it need to be from the industry?

Matt Byrom:
No, not at all, it’s a book that you like that you’d recommend. It’d be interesting for people to find books from any industry, really, so tell us what you like.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Well I partly like everything from Dale Carnegie. Those are motivational books, but they really inspire me, because they’ve been written before the Second World War. And I can see him writing on the typewriter, these books, rather than using copy and paste from some blogs or using some ghostwriters.

One advice for our listeners, maybe they will find this useful, I’m using audiobooks because that helps me a lot to, when I’m in the car underground, I’m using District Line every day, then in London it would be difficult to have a book. So I’m always using audiobooks.

So Dale Carnegie, there are a couple of really interesting positions. I won’t be specifying, because I want everyone to find something for themselves, but they are on Audible. And if you prefer the written version, then probably you will be able to get this from Amazon.

Matt Byrom:
Perfect. What’s your favorite example of a marketing campaign?

Lukasz Zelezny:
You know, I don’t have that much from recent times. But every time I’m thinking about the perfect TV commercial, I’m thinking that there was, in 1998, you had this football award cup in France. And I remember one advert, and I saw this advert only one time and I couldn’t even find this advert on YouTube. So that was when France became one of the two in the final, though they were playing against Brazil. And before this match, there was this block of the commercial, and they were a gray black and white, like a grayscale video of the whole French team holding a ball. And they’d been dressing with this Adidas dress, and they’ve been doing laughing, but everyone was saying, “Merci, merci.” And the color, I was just swiping to the next one, next one, next one, next one. And then finally there was a big logo of Adidas.

And I remember my reaction, when I saw this advert, I was with my colleagues, and that was actually in France. We’d been that day in France. We just looked at each other and were like, “Oh my gosh, that was so amazing.” It had so much emotional impact, you know? It was just a simple word, thank you. And then they won the World Cup, and it was mind-blowing.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, it’s unbelievable how advertising can touch you in that way sometimes.

Lukasz Zelezny:
So I was doing a lot to find this, if any of our listeners remember this advert, please send me a link.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, put it in the comments. We’d love to talk about that.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, 1998 French World Cup Adidas advert.

Matt Byrom:
And what software tool could you not live without?

Lukasz Zelezny:
Okay, so now we need probably another 50 minutes.

Matt Byrom:
Yeah, we’re talking software.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Well, I am very lucky to have a wide spectrum of tools. So for keywords research, I am using Searchmetrics or SISTRIX. Then for links, obviously aHrefs and Majestic. For crawling, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, but also URL Profiler. And finally, some if this than that for some social media optimization, I really like Viral Content Buzz or Thunderclap.

There is no single tool I couldn’t live without. I like more specifically Content Grader, which is saying how well specific keywords and specific URLs are optimized. I don’t have pretty much one tool that would cover all, and I think this is because of the way I am working. I like to have a lot of different tools. I feel like a sergeant, you know? I have lots of different special tools for special tasks.

And I know that this is [inaudible 00:54:24] approach, because there are some people who are looking for one tool that will cover as much as possible. That’s absolutely fine. I like to have plenty of tools in my workshop.

Matt Byrom:
I appreciate you going through all the different examples there. That’s very useful for people to certainly check out different ones that you’d recommend in different areas as well, so that’s really cool, thanks.

And which other podcasts do you listen to?

Lukasz Zelezny:
I am a big fan of David Bain Digital Marketing Radio. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to listen. And obviously I’m listening to some American podcasts. One of them I need to take a look, because I forgot the title. I have this in my podcast list, Perpetual Traffic and Art of Paid Traffic. And I need to tell you, I have one podcast which is an absolutely unusual podcast. It’s Amoss Presents The Cranium Session, it’s a drum and bass podcast where they are playing the new drum and bass releases. And I had the pleasure to be there once with my track.

And I’m sometimes … Yeah, it’s a very unusual approach to have a podcast called drum and bass, but there are a couple of … And then obviously I have a couple of friends from Poland who are recording podcasts. There is Margo who is recording Start Up My Life, very interesting podcast. Again, this is in Polish, so whoever is listening to us and speaks Polish, I would recommend Start Up My Life.

Matt Byrom:
Excellent, well that’s fantastic. Thank you very, very much for all your wonderful insights today. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you. And I know that our listeners will have got all different sorts of takeaways from today’s episode, so thank you very much for taking the time. And I’ve really enjoyed speaking to you today, Lukasz.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Thank you very, very much for the invitation, and it was an amazing one hour. And I hope in the future we will be in touch, maybe some other topics we can share during that session.

If you don’t mind, I just wanted to tell people where they can find me online, if that’s all right.

Matt Byrom:
Please do, yeah.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Yeah, so I am a big, big fan of LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, Lukasz Zelezny, there is pretty much one. And I have a website, Zelezny.UK. So there are those videos we were mentioning. So if anyone has any questions, suggestions, or would like to say, “Now Lukasz, I don’t agree with this,” then I will be very, very happy to receive some feedback.

Matt Byrom:
Absolutely, and I put links to everything you just mentioned there in the show notes on MattByrom.com as well. So if anybody wants to go there and get all the details as well, as well as links to Lukasz’s website, then you can do that too.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Fantastic, thank you very, very much once again, and it was an amazing one hour.

Matt Byrom:
Thanks, Lukasz.

Lukasz Zelezny:
Take care.