I was looking at some options for an SEO themed 5 Questions post when I thought, “let me ask Gini Dietrich who I should use.” I wanted to get outside of my usual circles to get you a fresh perspective on SEO.

I asked Gini if she knew of any “seo rockstars” who would be perfect for this post. Within 5 minutes she emailed me back and said “that’s easy, Danny Shepherd with Titan Growth (formerly Titan SEO).”

Danny Shepherd, Titan SEO

If you know Gini, it’s not usually a good idea to ignore her recommendations because they are generally spot-on.

So, I ask Danny and he gladly agreed to do the interview. Here’s his bio

“As President of Titan Growth, Danny Shepherd participates in planning, management, and strategy development for major accounts, and oversees the SEO, Social Media, and Paid Search Departments. Before founding Titan SEO in 2004, Danny held the position of CEO at Volution Inc. located in San Diego. At Volution Inc. he was responsible for working directly with Google, AOL, MSN, and eBay on search engine optimization and marketing initiatives.”

And here’s the interview, hope you get as much out of it as I did…

Question One – Maintaining a Consistent SEO Baseline

I’m sure you, like me and many others in our field, read tons of articles and do lots of research. But, the average business owner or marketing professional might not have the time or know where to look for good information on SEO. What would you tell them to use as a consistent baseline approach for SEO?

If you are looking to boost your online exposure with SEO, my suggestion is go right to the source. Google itself offers a variety of resources on the topic, including a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. The PDF outlines best practices for your website that will make it easier for Google to discover and index your content.

For someone new to the game, this is a good place to start.   Other helpful resources can be found at sites like Moz.com, SearchEngineLand.com, and SearchEngineWatch.com.

In addition, the more respected SEO agencies typically supply knowledgeable content on their blogs and social media. Considering that a large portion of the available information on SEO is either outdated, unfounded, or even in some cases malicious, I would stick to these suggestions as a general rule.

Steer clear of the forums as well, as the misinformation they provide can ultimately prove harmful. After ten years in this industry I’ve seen a lot of “SEO Fads” come and go. Short term SEO gains using tactics like guest blogging, link buying, and link exchanges were negatively impacted by Google later on.

Question Two – What’s Exciting in SEO These Days?

Your crew at Titan Growth definitely are a smart bunch. What has them excited these days?

We’re loving the way Google is evolving with Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) technology. LSI is an indexing and retrieval method that allows for better understanding of long tail queries as well as questions that are posed as keyword searches.  

Hummingbird, Google’s search algorithm, is also a good showcase of how search engines like Google are getting much better at understanding what we are really searching for. This opens up the possibility for SEO agencies to better leverage and rank for high converting keywords.

We are excited about the newest release of TitanBOT as well, our own search engine spider. We added some new caching features that are helping us better understand the LSI data and keyword relationships on our clients’ sites.

Question Three – Battling Bad SEO Information

We get lots of questions and requests that seem to be fueled by either bad information, misinformation or just plain old information. How do you start the SEO reeducation process? Do you have to deprogram them similar to how you would handle a cult member?

 At least when you attempt to deprogram a cult member you can give them known facts to dispel their belief that their leader is going to take them away in a spaceship.

With SEO it’s a little more difficult.  

It’s difficult because Google isn’t going to tell you exactly how they determine rankings so you can’t always prove with definitive facts that someone’s wonky idea is really bad.

Successful SEO Agencies typically learn their strategies through experience, testing, trial and error, and a willingness to continue to change with the tides.

Question Four – Mobile and SEO

Mobile is big these days. I’ve seen a lot from Google lately about how mobile factors into rankings. What tips would you give a small business trying to navigate through mobile for the first time?

Websites are increasingly receiving more mobile visits. When building a mobile site, make sure the experience is similar to the desktop version. What we’re finding to be Google’s most important mobile ranking factor is mobile and desktop page consistency.

A common mistake we see is when a website sends a mobile visitor from search results to a page other than the one that ranks on the desktop version. Not only does this decrease the user experience, but it’s the death knell for SEO.

Question Five – Social Media and SEO

There was a little social media conference going on in your town recently. Can you talk a little bit about how social fits into an SEO strategy and how you think this will evolve overtime.

There is no denying the connection between social and SEO. I believe this trend will only continue to grow, especially considering social connectedness is difficult to fake.

Engaged users are key popularity indicators for search engines and they offer a trove of valuable social information that I believe will eventually be disseminated for everyone’s benefit.

Bonus – Ron Burgundy and the Future of SEO

This is a two-fer. First, you’re in San Diego. We all know what Ron Burgundy thinks it means but how about you? And care to share anything you are seeing these days in your SEO crystal ball? We’ve seen all sorts of exotic animals come crawling out of Google, what’s next???

When it comes to the next big algorithm update it’s definitely important for SEO’s to pay attention to what’s happening, but I wouldn’t stay up at night worrying about it.

Whether Google releases a monkey, bear, or even a whale (thank you Ron Burgundy), as long as you adhere to Google’s guidelines and produce a high quality site with proven SEO, it’s less likely you’ll have any issues with big updates.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.