My AMA with Online Geniuses

The AMA was held by Online Geniuses on Dec 14th, 2016. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.

Side Note: The AMA was arranged a few months before I left Monster on Nov 2nd, 2016. I joined Zapier on Nov 14th, 2016.
  1. What was the biggest challenge you overcame at such a big company (Monster.com)

    The biggest challenge is going through all the various levels of approvals to get things done, even simple things.

  2. What’s the biggest mistake you see people starting out making with the technical SEO efforts?

    Blindly implementing something without first thinking whether this actually applies to their use-case or why it’s actually needed.

  3. What’s the most challenging technical SEO riddle you’ve had to solve?

    Experimenting with Async Javascript delivered via Google Tag Manager. See whether Google could pick-up on-page changes and how long does it take to actually see it in SERP!

  4. What was the result of the length of time for the SERP to reflect Async JS on-page changes with Google Tag Manager?

    2-3 weeks with a manual “request to submit to index” on Google Search Console.

  5. What is the one thing that Monster wasn’t doing that surprised you?

    Proper tag management. They had a paid solution, but nobody really owned it! Adding a simple Google Verification tag was an adventure!

  6. What’s the most interesting, intriguing, or counterintuitive trend you’re seeing right now in SEO?

    SEO with https. It’s a miniscule ranking factor but everyone seems to be rushing it. It’s good for SEO and User Perception, but SEO’s need to be comprehensive and painstaklingly triple check everything to avoid a disastrous migration (i.e. Traffic drop).

  7. Have you had the pleasure of working with Jason Feingold or Jon Queen?

    Nope

  8. Why does website traffic go down after you switch from HTTP to HTTPS? How can you fix that without going back to HTTP?

    When we switched to https, we did not see a dip in traffic, it actually increased.

  9. What is the advice/material/source that you would like a beginner to start with?

    https://moz.com/learn/seo

  10. What are some keywords you are having a super hard time getting ranking for?

    At Monster, we were already ranking very well for job-related keywords but somehow Indeed keeps killing us!

  11. What do you think are the best tools for SEO?

    Ahrefs, SEMRush, ScreamingFrog

  12. What is your recommended method for link-building?

    Community outreach and co-marketing with partners of course!

  13. What SEO tools are they using at Monster.com?

    Main tool was BrightEdge but there are custom internal solutions we built.

  14. What internal (custom) solutions did the team build?

    Things that connect to various SEO tools that we’re already using. Essentially a custom BI tool.

  15. What are the fundamental or basic SEO any websites should be doing?

    Metas, structured data and content that satisfies user intent

  16. What’s one piece of advice that you wish people would follow for SEO?

    Keep on experimenting. There are a lot of new developments that Google is working with select partners. The only way to get a head is to keep experimenting and dive into the data!

  17. How Monster adapted in recent years from being able to rank for “job + business name” to a much more complex SERPs now?

    Building a specialized technical SEO team to focus on implementing things at scale quickly. Get higher level access so we can make quick changes without waiting for a release cycle. Interesting note is that before I joined, SEO was only a team of 1. I was the first hire for Technical SEO in Malaysia, and we expanded the team to allow for more bandwidth in pushing things out.

  18. Can you recommend any good books to learn SEO?

    I’ve never gotten a physical book, but I did start my career with SEOBook.com. A good place to really read, learn and keep up-to-date is Moz.com.

  19. What do you think are the best ways to outrank competitors in the SERPS?

    Make use of Structured Data where applicable and create better content. People naturally share good content, and having good backlinks (regardless of nofollow or not) will slowly and surely improve rankings!

  20. Coming from a beginner in the industry, what has been the biggest mistake you’ve made and how did you make sure it didn’t happen again?

    To be effective in the SEO industry, you need to be able to speak in layman terms with management/marketing team AND also be able to talk to developers. Ultimately, developers are your friends.

  21. What is the best way to find and target long tail keywords for a given page?

    Keyword research is best done before you build the page. It’s about ensuring that user intent is satisfied. I use UberSuggest and AnswerThePublic to find main keywords and combine them into KeywordShitter to spit out long tails. Dump them into Ahrefs and see which best fits the content/intent.

  22. What’s the best performing piece of content you have?

    Conversions – monster.com/career-advice/
    Traffic – monster.com/jobs/

  23. Are there different content formats that you find work better/worse?

    Infographics are a hard nut to crack. Unless you built something amazing and it went viral or you’re already an established site, infographics are the worst!

  24. What was the most effective programmatic SEO change you made that impacted thousands or hundreds of thousands of pages?

    Look at the competitor’s structure. Have your UX team dive in and make it better! Also look for templated titles and description for starters. Eventually though. you’ll need to do some manual work to have better content.

  25. Are you a developer?

    Yes. I code (PHP, C#, Python) and have a Computer Science background.

  26. If you have limited content on a page, do you duplicate it in the title, description, image alt text and other places? Talking less than 100 words of content and a unique image. I have 250,000 pages I’m trying to rank for long tails.

    Not purposely. If it’s absolutely relevant and natural, go for it.

  27. Have you had success with Rich Snippets at all? If so, was there anything specific you did yo allow them to show?

    Proper lists markup and tables (yes, the old <td><tr>) works wonders!

  28. If you had only $250/mo to spend on marketing tools, what tools would you use?

    Ahrefs & SEMRush

  29. Can you explain what BrightEdge offers that cheaper tools don’t?

    Granular reporting and custom internal integrations. Also having an account manager to build dashboards for you is nice.

  30. Zapier does a cool thing with “prospective SEO” – like they figure out all the permutations of the services and build out pages for them. I thought that was really interesting. Are there any other weird SEO things like that you have seen?

    SEO Automation IS a thing and that’s the quickest way to get things up and running!