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Wood Street Journal

Informed Marketing Insights & Inspiration

Our goal for the Wood Street Journal is simple: to educate and empower the reader by providing you with the tools to market your business, organization, or cause online. We do this by offering posts by experts on web design, tech trends, SEO, social, content marketing, and more. If there are any related topics you’d like us to cover, please let us know!

5 Questions with @JennyHalasz, President of JLH Marketing and SEO Expert

Jenny Halasz is one of those names you see everywhere – well anywhere you expect to find great content about SEO. She’s often the author of some of the best content on Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal. She can also be seen speaking at conferences like the State of Search Conference, Internet Summit, and PubCon.

And while you may not heard of Jenny before, I guarantee that you can find value in her content. Our clients at Wood Street are often asking us for tips on content marketing and SEO. Many of the answers I give are pulled from Jenny’s articles. So, I think it’s time for you to meet Jenny…

Here’s her bio from her speaking page… “My name is Jenny Halasz, and I’m a respectable business owner by day, an SEO geek by night. Actually, I’m an SEO geek all the time, because I realize that search is the window into everyone’s dreams and desires, whether it’s a search for a great hamburger or the answer to a complex technical problem.

The challenges of information retrieval and understanding user intent are only getting more complex as our young industry ages, and I’m excited to watch these disciplines evolve…”

Let’s dig into that SEO geek brain…

Question One – Gaming the System When the System is Google!

I love your line that “SEO is still fundamentally just marketing.” I think way too many companies still try to “game the system.” Do you think marketers are still having a hard time with this concept?

Every time I think we’ve turned a corner on this, I am disappointed. I had the poor fortune to sit through a conference session recently where the “SEO” presenting literally recommended doing things like “adding 24 more variations of the keyword” to pages or “creating a fat footer to add 112 internal links to the page”.

This is just foolish garbage – chasing the algorithm – that may pay very short term dividends but will harm you and your clients in the long run.

Question Two – The Simplicity of SEO

On a guest post from Mark Schaefer, he asks “is SEO simply good writing?” I’ve argued that SEO is simply good UX. Where do you stand on all this? Are we oversimplifying?

SEO is not simply anything. That’s what makes it so interesting. My definition of SEO is “The effort taken to provide search engines and their visitors with a relevant, logic-driven, and efficient experience.”

It encompasses good writing, good UX and good tech. It’s one part psychology and one part engineering. Your readers might enjoy my “Ode to SEO” that I wrote for Search Engine Land several years ago.

Question Three – Making Sense of All the SEO Noise

I love your post on ranking factors. There seems to be no shortage of articles and studies about SEO or some element of SEO. Marketers are surely feeling overwhelmed. Do you have any advice for them on how to make sense of it all?

Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I really felt a lot of that needed to be said. I also did a podcast with Dan Shure that delved deeper into why I think ranking studies are so important and yet have the potential to be so damaging.

My best advice on someone new to the industry is to question everything. There’s really no such thing as always or never in SEO. There are always edge cases, and these vary by industry and even by individual company.

If you always think about whether what you’re planning to do is…

  1. Something you’d be comfortable chatting with a Google rep about
  2. Something that would make life better/easier for your customers

Then you’ll almost never go wrong.

Question Four – Google’s Mobile First Announcement

Many of our clients are concerned about Google’s Mobile First Indexing announcements. What should they be concerned with? And what is simply not worth fretting over?

The only thing to be concerned with in terms of Google’s mobile first stuff (yes, it’s just stuff) is whether or not your site is accessible and usable on mobile.

If you offer mobile users the same content and overall experience as you do on desktop, in an environment that looks good and is easy to use on a small screen, then you’re probably ok.

If you have a separate mobile site that has different content or a different experience, hire an SEO to help you. That is where it gets tricky.

Question Five – SEO Education

It’s clear that you have a love for teaching. You write and speak on all sorts of SEO topics. It’s clear from these posts that educating people on SEO is very important to you. Why is this? ????

I do love teaching. I wanted to be a teacher when I was very young, and I even did some substitute teaching for a private school after I graduated college… Earth Science. But there’s just no money or respect in it. That’s not right – teachers should be paid as much as doctors in my opinion – but it’s what is.

When I realized that I could combine my passion for teaching people with my passion for SEO, I just never looked back. It’s a completely fascinating subject to me, and there’s so much misinformation that it’s really very necessary that we have people teaching the “right” information. (I put “right” in quotes because while there are some fundamental rights and wrongs in our industry, a huge amount of it is just theory.)

I think that’s why I’m attracted to search so strongly. The “detective” work involved in ferreting out complex problems, and the psychology involved in marketing are both disciplines that fascinate me.

I’m always really happy when I can find someone who I can share that passion with, so teaching is a natural outcome.

Bonus – Politics and SEO

Bonus – so, you mention politics in your Twitter bio. Naturally, this question came to mind… who would win in a street fight, Trey Gowdy or Nancy Pelosi? And, same two, in a thumb war?

My love for SEO and my fascination with politics make a lot of sense, I think. I’m interested in trying to solve the unsolvable. I’m always wanting to understand others’ perspectives, and I feel that with enough quality communication, we can come together to solve the world’s problems.

I know that’s idealistic and probably not really possible because of the state of the human condition, but I hold out hope that if people could communicate openly and honestly, without special interests involved, we could do what is right for each other.

I really like politics, but I turn a wary eye to politicians of all stripes. They’re a necessary evil in a governed society, but very few are really in it for the good of the people they serve.

So frankly, I don’t care who would win in a thumb war, because I’m pretty sure they’d both cheat to get their way. Cheating never solves anything long-term, in politics or in SEO. (<– Good Answer!)


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