Why SEO ranking factors are category-specific w/ Jordan Koene


published: (updated: March 24, 2020)
by
35 min well spent

In September 2019, I spoke at Swivel in Bend, OR, and coincidentally ran into Jordan Koene on the plane. Jordan and I built the professional services team for Searchmetrics in the US a couple years ago.

On the way back, our flight got delayed by over 4h! Luckily, I had my podcasting equipment with me. So, we decided to record an impromptu podcast at the airport.

Jordan Koene from Searchmetrics on category-specific SEO ranking factors

Timestamps

0:00 Intro
1:49 The craziest story Jordan has from his time as Director of SEO at eBay
6:41 What Jordan learned from his time at eBay
9:03 Optimizing large sites at scale
11:24 How ranking factors apply nowadays
15:05 How to think about ranking factor studies
18:22 The future of SEO ranking factors
24:07 Increasing diversity in SERPS
28:39 Category-specific SEO ranking factors

Show notes

https://www.searchmetrics.com
https://twitter.com/jtkoene
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordankoene/
https://www.senate.gov/senators/How_to_correspond_senators.htm

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Transcript

Jordan Koene: 00:01 All right, we’re recording.

Kevin: 00:03 Three, two, one. Boom, we’re live.

Jordan Koene: 00:05 We’re live!

Kevin: 00:06 Jordan Koene.

Jordan Koene: 00:06 Hey!

Kevin: 00:07 To set the stage real quick, Jordan and I just met. We’re at the Richmond airport.

Jordan Koene: 00:13 Redmond.

Kevin: 00:15 Redmond Airport — Jesus Christ — in Bend, Oregon. We had a four hour delay and decided to do this impromptu kind of interview conversation here at the airport, so this was a crazy ride.

Kevin: 00:28 Anyway, thanks for doing this, first of all, with me, Jordan. Jordan Koene, CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. Give me the quick load on who you are and what you’re doing.

Jordan Koene: 00:39 Yeah, sure, so I’m the CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. I’ve been at Searchmetrics now for five years. I essentially manage the US business. Searchmetrics, as you know, Kevin, it started in Germany, and about eight years ago, they moved into the US market. And me and my team, we’ve been expanding into the US market and trying to grow our market share here in the SEO software space.

Kevin: 01:00 I remember that pretty well.

Jordan Koene: 01:02 I know.

Kevin: 01:05 For everyone who doesn’t know, Jordan and I have been almost pretty much starting at Searchmetrics at the same time.

Jordan Koene: 01:10 Yep.

Kevin: 01:10 And you persisted. I caved in and left.

Jordan Koene: 01:16 No, it’s good though. It’s good.

Kevin: 01:16 You and I go way back, man. And you’re a very impressive character.

Jordan Koene: 01:20 Thank you.

Kevin: 01:20 You have a lot of interesting stories to tell, and unfortunately we don’t have any beer here or any tequila shots. I know you really love those, but we’re going to go right into it. You have been having a huge impact on eBay as director of SEO. Is that right?

Jordan Koene: 01:37 Yep, yep, I was at eBay for five years prior to Searchmetrics, yep.

Kevin: 01:40 Right. As director of SEO and content, and eBay is an impressive startup, but also has done some impressive SEO stuff. Right off the bat, what was the craziest story you remember from the eBay times?

Jordan Koene: 01:52 Boy, the craziest story from the eBay times. I think that there’s a couple of them. One of them, absolute craziest thing, I had this coworker Maxime. He was really wicked smart. This guy was one of the most talented people on the team, and he created an algorithm that allowed us to look at internal eBay search trends, and then auto-generate the creation of a page. All right.

Jordan Koene: 02:17 And there was multiple things that happened in that process. Not only are we using our own internal search to identify what topics we should build a page for, but then there’s a whole creation process that took place that required inventory that would be sourced for the page. There was an NLP process, so we used natural language processing to literally create a description on the page. And so everything was automated. There was literally zero human involvement.

Jordan Koene: 02:45 At the time we were scaling on holidays. We would basically take a targeted holiday. We’d look at the previous year’s search trends, look at what was starting for that holiday and the beauty of the auto-generated process is that, typically, in most companies, it would take a long time to build a holiday event page. But we’re literally looking at data in real time, so we could instantly build this holiday page and get it to rank fast because of the domain authority on eBay.

Jordan Koene: 03:16 What ended up happening, to cut to the chase, what ended up happening is some of our negative keywords, we didn’t have the right amount of negative keywords, because a couple of inappropriate pages made it through the system, and the press got ahold of this. The VP of PR and communications calls me up one day. This is pre-Slack era, right? He had literally, physically called my desk, and he’s like, “Jordan, I need you to come to my office immediately. We have all hands on deck, public relations issue, and your team is involved.”

Jordan Koene: 03:53 And I’m like, “Oh what did my team do? How did my team?” I was like, “I’ll be right there, man. I’m coming.” And so I went up and there’s 30 people in this war room, crisis mode. People are sweating, and they’re explaining to me that the New York Times is about to publish this article about these pages that are inappropriate and vulgar, and some of them were racist. It was a huge ordeal.

Jordan Koene: 04:19 And so I had to get on a call with engineering, get the pages shut down. I had to do all these things to try to protect the brand. But that’s, hands down, one of the craziest things that ever happened to me at eBay. We were able to prevail. We were able to work with the New York Times to kind of curtail the story. And in the initial article, they actually published that eBay had fixed it and rectified the problem. But it’s crazy what you learn in big companies like that, and that was definitely a big learning experience for me.

Kevin: 04:50 Jesus, that’s an amazing story. A couple of questions, a couple of follow up questions on that. Were you the first director, or kind of the first SEO at eBay?

Jordan Koene: 04:59 No, there was a long lineage of SEO at eBay. In fact, the first ever SEO was one of my bosses at eBay. His name was Robert Chatwani, he was the CMO at Atlassian, so you worked with him at Atlassian.

Jordan Koene: 05:15 And Robert, he has got some crazy stories, because this is like the early days. This is like the early 2000s, and at the time, eBay did not submit their item pages. The actual, physical item that you’re selling into Google, and the biggest growth in the company’s history was submitting hundreds of millions globally to Google, and working directly with Google. Because at that time crawl was very, very limited.

Jordan Koene: 05:39 And so, that was one of his stories. But my predecessor actually was Dennis G. A lot of people, probably in the SEO community, probably know Dennis. He was the director prior to me at eBay.

Kevin: 05:50 Gotcha, gotcha. I feel like eBay is such a kind of pattern in my life. it’s Robert Chatwani. And then at Searchmetrics, we also did some, like a lot of stuff actually for eBay. I was, I remember going there for almost a year on site, one day a week and working out of eBay, and those folks are amazing. And I met Maxime, got to know him. He’s brilliant, so really, really cool. Do you still have ties or connections to the company?

Jordan Koene: 06:15 Yeah, I mean, I still stay really close to some folks that are still there. Not so much on … the SEO team has changed a lot. And so there’s been a lot of new people there, but I’m still really close to it. And it’s a really close community. Once you’re in the eBay family, like it is something that kind of spreads and it’s part of your network after that.

Kevin: 06:41 What was once something that you still remember that was a big lesson that you had at eBay? What is something that you took away from the company either in terms of managing people, in terms of SEO, in terms of how to scale a company or startup in general. Can you talk about that?

Jordan Koene: 06:55 Yeah, let’s talk about a couple of things. I think one of the greatest opportunities I’ve had in my career is the ability to focus on scale. Right? At all my SEO jobs I was in a position where the brands and the entities that I was working on SEO needed to find a way to deal with massive scale of SEO, whether it be global, or be the amount of content that’s being published. There’s a variety, there’s a whole list of ways that the companies that I worked for wanted to scale. And I’d say that that’s definitely one of the key takeaways and learnings that I got.

Jordan Koene: 07:30 I mean, I know the fundamentals of how to deal with websites that have hundreds of millions of pages across countries and it’s an experience that you can read about and you can learn about it. But then there’s actually going through that that’s totally different. And I’d say that that’s one of the greatest experiences that I had in multiple places, not just eBay.

Jordan Koene: 07:51 And then on the other side, like one of the greatest opportunities I had at eBay was managing teams. I had not only SEO but I also had content. And so at that time I was cutting my teeth in terms of how does content play a role in SEO. And I’d say that that was really probably one of the most rewarding things. And it has helped me now in my career at Searchmetrics where obviously I have multiple teams and teams that I’ve never even had any experience managing things like sales that I’m now responsible for.

Kevin: 08:21 Sure, and that’s a really valuable learning. It touches something that I think is really important, which is that good SEOs are all practitioners. Like you can read about something but it’s not the same thing as actually dealing with it or doing it. And that particular learning or lesson that you speak about I think is also really important because it changed over time.

Kevin: 08:40 I remember when I came up, your number one goal was to blast as many pages into the Google index as possible, just multiply as much as you can. And now the trend has reversed and you kind of want to have only quality and as little quantity as possible. Did you kind of change your mind when it came to that, or do you … let me rephrase the question. What do you think are people doing wrong nowadays when it comes to dealing with large scale sites?

Jordan Koene: 09:08 Well, I think that fundamentally one of the biggest challenges that we have, not only in the SEO community but as webmasters and as engineers, agencies that manage websites, is that we don’t really understand the meaning of intent. And Google has evolved this definition of intent over the last decade. They are refining what is intent to a large degree beyond the keyword. It’s really goes into the experience.

Jordan Koene: 09:35 I mean, if you just look at even how the SERP has evolved, there’s all those like slideshow things of how the Google SERP has changed over the last decade. It’s crazy. And that’s all to address intent. What is a user really looking for and what is a user really want?

Jordan Koene: 09:48 And so scaling to build more and more and more pages was a great tactic years ago and today can still be applied in certain industries and categories. But the reality is that the most important thing for brands, online brands to do today is evaluate what is the intent and do they still have content that matches that intent. And if there’s content that does not match that intent, why do you still have it published?

Jordan Koene: 10:14 Cleaning up your house, cleaning up your garage is such an important step today, especially for big, big sites, because you often have dead weight and Google is seeing that that’s dead weight on your site and not addressing an intent, and then it weighs down the rest of the site.

Kevin: 10:29 Totally, totally. I couldn’t agree more. Intent is so major and it kind of makes me want to touch on ranking factors as well. And so you and I were able to listen to … okay, we have a flight announcement. Let’s give it a second.

Jordan Koene: 10:45 Nope, this is Denver flight.

Kevin: 10:46 Oh it’s Denver flight. Okay, so we’re good. You and I really able to listen to Wil Reynolds yesterday, who gave a fantastic presentation at Swivel and he touched on something that I feel very strongly about, which is learning about niche ranking factors, or more or less how ranking factors have different weightings, depending on the query or the article that they’re applied to.

Kevin: 11:13 I know that Searchmetrics has pretty much been on the forefront of putting that idea out there. And that’s where I first heard and learned of it and immediately changed my mind of ranking factors. And so can you talk a little bit about how ranking factors apply nowadays? How people should think about them. I know there was a lot of controversy about ranking factor studies and whether they’re valuable or not. Where’s your head at when it comes to that?

Jordan Koene: 11:42 Yeah, it’s such a great question. And I think this is another place where, specifically the SEO community has done a huge disservice to the marketing world, to the product and engineering and webmaster world with this idea of ranking factors. Because the ranking factors by no means are are law. This is not the 10 Commandments.

Jordan Koene: 12:04 Ranking factors are data signals. They are a directional assets that help us better understand how Google works. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be universally applied to every website, universally applied to every category, or universally applied to an entire craft like SEO. And that’s where the first mistake happens, which is that a lot of people have taken ranking factors, regardless of who publishes it. Moz, Searchmetrics, independent consultants who’ve kind of created their own studies. We read these things and then we say, “Oh, this, this is what I must do.” And that’s the biggest mistake.

Jordan Koene: 12:38 What you need to do is you need to sit down and read it and understand how does this now apply to my business and use business logic to make decisions as to why a ranking factor should be leveraged. I mean, a great example, is AMP a ranking factor. Well, AMP, it depends on the category. I mean, if you’re a newspaper and you’re not on AMP, well you’re like five years behind now.

Jordan Koene: 13:00 But if you’re a bank, I’m not exactly sure how AMP applies to your business just yet today. And so the long story on ranking factors is that they’re still really valuable, but we need to start learning how to leverage this asset and how to incorporate it back to what Wil said at Swivel. How do we incorporate this into the value pyramid? Like is this at the bottom of the pyramid and it’s just an anecdotal data point? Or is this something at the top of the pyramid that’s going to help me generate revenue for my business?

Kevin: 13:32 Totally agree. There’s so much context that is lost in this discussion about ranking factors. I very much agree with you. We first of all have to distinguish between a ranking enabler and then a ranking driver. Like what even allows me to rank and user intent is something like that. I also wouldn’t say that user intent’s necessarily a ranking factor. But it’s very binary after my mind, you either hit it or you don’t. You meet it or you don’t. Especially when the user intent is very clear for a keyword, or when it’s clear to Google for a keyword.

Kevin: 14:02 And then the second thing is that people judge or did judge ranking factor studies with such a weird attitude, and like saying yeah causality’s not correlation. Like the number of things in life that actually have a strong proven causality are so small. The thing is, I’m a huge fitness nerd, I read tons of studies and that’s where I learned what makes a good study, and when you can somewhat reliably say something based on the proof that you have.

Kevin: 14:36 I think research in medical and biology and fitness and all that kind of stuff is actually a really good place to learn from and understand how statistics works and how to interpret results. And so again, I feel like people completely put ranking factor studies aside, even though I think there is something valuable to learn out at them. And I completely agree, like we should learn, we have to learn how to apply them correctly. How do you recommend people to take ranking factor studies or how to think of ranking factors in general?

Jordan Koene: 15:11 Yeah, so the first thing is how are you going to use this asset. I think one of the greatest ways to leverage ranking factors or any data study that you do is, how can this be applied into either the thought leadership that we have in our company? How can this be used by our organization to better understand how different mechanics work in search or in business.

Jordan Koene: 15:34 And the reality is that that’s kind of like the first step, because if you’re educating everyone to be on the same playing field when it comes to say, implementing, say, a ticket or making a major change on your website, or re-titling your pages or writing better product descriptions or whatever it is, you now have all a common understanding of what’s the driver. And that’s what ranking factors do, is they give you a base knowledge of what’s going to drive success for for a website in Google.

Jordan Koene: 16:05 And I think that that’s the first step. First step for a brand to really use ranking factors is how am I going to apply this from an education standpoint, from a thought leadership standpoint in the organization. The second thing is can this ranking factor actually be implemented into my value pyramid? Can I incorporate this as a data point that now I use in my BI tools? Should I have the correlation that then maps to my ranking data and my BI tool or my traffic data and my BI tool?

Jordan Koene: 16:34 That’s a very basic everyday thing that your analytics team and your business should be doing. Or does this move way up my value chain and determine a strategic decision like say how we’re going to create product descriptions and that drive more revenue in my business.

Jordan Koene: 16:51 There’s a whole chain that you can incorporate these ranking factors into your business. The hard part is that most people are just taking them as doctrine and saying, “I’m going to put this in my business. I’m going to start writing descriptions at 350 words every single description, because that’s what the ranking factor told me.” That makes no sense if you’re not applying that to the value pyramid and saying, “I want to try to make more revenue so I’m going to improve my descriptions.” It’s a totally different viewpoint.

Kevin: 17:20 100%. I wrote about this on a Drift Blog, actually as a guest blog, that you cannot apply the same SEO approaches and strategies to all businesses. You have to absolutely be specific to, first of all, you’re marketing to consumers or to businesses. What vertical are you in, right? What is important?

Kevin: 17:43 And I really love how in some of the Searchmetrics material, you guys point out how, for example, https is really important for your money, your life sites, and finance, medical for example. But then images are really important for travel or for fashion and beauty and all that kind of stuff.

Kevin: 18:01 And the funny thing is it intuitively makes sense, and often you guys kind of put some data points behind it to justify it. But I completely agree. You can’t just really — and I made this mistake in the past and I painfully learned that — you just can’t walk into an organization and be like, “Look, these are the ranking factors, this is what we do.” No, I think that’s completely wrong approach.

Jordan Koene: 18:20 Exactly, exactly.

Kevin: 18:22 What does the future hold for ranking factor research at Searchmetrics? Are you guys going to do more studies? Are you going to come out with more material? Will you lay that to rest because of the kind of negative resonance in the industry? What’s the plan?

Jordan Koene: 18:34 Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, one of the things that we’ve gone down is a about a year ago we went down the niche path. Putting out data in the niche path. Another thing that we’re now getting even more granular into is providing data at a market level.

Jordan Koene: 18:47 For a lot of businesses, understanding their own market data, so understanding how footwear is evolving in search, is so critical, and it’s a component of understanding your ranking factors. And so what we’ve started to do is say, from going from these high level overall general ranking factors like we used to do, six, seven, eight years ago, down to a niche level, like let’s talk about ranking factors for eCommerce. And now we’re getting down to the actual category level.

Jordan Koene: 19:16 And that I think is where there’s tons of value for the end consumer in having a market level analysis, because now you can truly understand what factors drive your category, what factors drive your competitors, your own business. And it becomes very relatable to your industry, as opposed to like something that’s general for all of eCommerce. Because Wayfair certainly has a very different strategy than, say, Amazon does, than, say, eBay does. But now if I can take that and create data that’s specific to just Wayfair, completely changes the picture.

Kevin: 19:50 Cool. I love that. Let’s dive into that, if you want.

Jordan Koene: 19:55 Yeah, sure.

Kevin: 19:56 Does that mean that you will look at ranking factors for a specific category within eCommerce? For example, you’ll look at, gosh, like books for example, or, got to make something up, man, like cars or whatever? Is that how to understand that?

Jordan Koene: 20:14 Absolutely, and one of the things that we’re trying to do is we’re trying to take it from a very concrete taxonomy. One of the things that we’ve started to experiment with is let’s take a look at Google’s own PLA taxonomy. They have this taxonomy, they publish it, they use it as a way for you to leverage PLA ads.

Jordan Koene: 20:31 Let’s take that taxonomy and let’s apply all of the keywords in our database to that taxonomy. It completely changes your entire view because once you apply the keywords to that, just like, I mean, as you know, Kevin, in our database, now I can apply all the URLs that are in there and now I can really start to understand what kind of content is driving these categories and subcategories.

Jordan Koene: 20:52 And this is a very simplistic view of just PLA, but we can take that for a specific business and we can say, “Hey, let’s sit down with you, Wayfair, and let’s talk about sofas, what’s going on in the sofa category, because that’s really important to you.” And now we’re connecting SEO concepts and data to specific business problems and opportunities.

Kevin: 21:15 And to the real world, right? That’s so smart, because to me, the way that I understand this is that we think about what Google is chasing. They’re obviously chasing a perfect reflection of the real world and problems that people have.

Kevin: 21:30 And so I love that you guys take this approach because there’s obviously a different challenge behind ordering a sofa online than to compared to ordering like a small lamp online, like logistics wise, price wise, feature wise. And so that makes so much more sense and I’m curious to see what kind of, how Google will approach that. Have you looked at the data? Do you have any kind of interesting lessons that you can share so far?

Jordan Koene: 21:56 Yeah, so I mean, some of the more remarkable data that we’ve looked at is, to your point is, how do you slice something like travel? You look at travel as a whole, there’s a lot of different desires and needs in travel. And so being able to carve out and not just say universally this is what you need to do in travel, but this is exactly what you need to do when you’re focused on lodging versus say airfare versus say events.

Jordan Koene: 22:24 And that these are the KPIs behind that or the ranking factors, say, based on what kind of media assets are on the pages, what kind of description is being used, how many images are being shown, or how many results or options should you have?

Jordan Koene: 22:39 And this is amazing data because if I’m, say, like the Wynn, big resort in Las Vegas. I can control certain elements on my product page to compete with the OTAs. OTAs being online travel agencies, so if I’m the Wynn and I want to be able to compete with an OTA who’s showing a diverse set of results. They’re showing not only the Wynn, but they’re also showing the Venetian and they’re showing Aria and they’re showing the Cosmopolitan, all the hotels along the strip.

Jordan Koene: 23:08 But I as the Wynn can compete against them, but I need data to know what to do to compete. And one of them is selection, and the Wynn has selection. They own the Encore, so you can also show Encore options on certain pages. You also have various different types of rooms. You have suites, you have the regular rooms. And so now you can create a much more inclusive product page that can rank for more keywords and take market share away from the OTAs. And if I’m the Wynn, that means lots of money because now I don’t have to pay a fee to a third party.

Kevin: 23:40 That is so cool. And that makes, oh my gosh, there are so many routes that I would want to take this conversation down to. And so I’m really thinking about which one is the most intriguing.

Jordan Koene: 23:49 Before they board our flight and take off.

Kevin: 23:52 I know, it’s like I’m waiting for this to happen any second. Now we’re going to miss this. No, anyway, okay, one last question and then we’ll take the last bigger block.

Kevin: 24:07 One thing that I noticed is that the lines between businesses who are competing against each other in the search results is kind of, is very much blurring. And what that means is we, for example, at G2, we’re competing with other software review sites like Capterra obviously, or like Gartner. But we’re also competing with publishers like TechTarget or Software Advice. And we’re also competing with certain brands like Salesforce or Marketo.

Kevin: 24:40 And so we have different types of competitors and I think that’s increasing because Google is in some cases trying to address different user intents. And so that idea of you mentioning a hotel kind of stepping over its boundaries and providing more interesting data will probably also make more businesses or types of businesses compete with each other.

Kevin: 25:03 What are your thoughts there? Did you notice anything in the data or observe anything along your work at Searchmetrics?

Jordan Koene: 25:10 Yeah, let’s talk about my opinion on this and then let’s talk about the data, because there’s two components to this. The first one is my opinion around why this is good. I think Google loves this. I think Google demands this because it creates diversity. And Google knows that if their search results are more diverse and have some cross category influence, they’re going to be more successful as a company, because us as consumers, we want options.

Jordan Koene: 25:38 There’s a reason why you see all those studies about the number of clicks that take place in the organic results, and it’ll range anywhere between 70 to like 90%. But there’s a reason why people click on organic results versus the paid ads, because in paid ads you do not have diversity. It’s only a confined set of competitors who are willing to spend money and it really shrinks the window of diversity. But when you have the organic results, there’s a tremendous amount of diversity, and I’ll give you a great example of where, now going into the data, of where this diversity takes place.

Jordan Koene: 26:12 TripAdvisor for the last year and a half to maybe two years now, has been moving cross category. One of the things that we’ve noticed in our data is that TripAdvisor for the last two to three years has increased their footprint into the restaurant space.

Jordan Koene: 26:27 Now who do you think ranks in restaurants? In the US in particular, it’s mainly Yelp. And then you have a variety of other local service type websites that rank. But this is great for Google because Google for a long time has struggled to provide good results at a restaurant level. How do I create diversity when someone searches for an Italian restaurant in, say, North beach, San Francisco, or an Italian restaurant in New York City? How do I create good diversity?

Jordan Koene: 26:55 Now they’ve got a new brand that they trust who has restaurant data, putting it in an aggregated way into the SERPs. And Google’s showing a lot of TripAdvisor content. Now this is a great example of companies moving cross category, gaining awareness.

Jordan Koene: 27:10 Now I do believe that there’s a limit to these things. And to our point earlier, when we first started the episode here, we talked about having too many pages. And I think that a lot of companies, when they cross category, because they’re new to the category, they don’t know the limitations. They don’t know the boundaries. And I’m sure that a lot of people who have been studying search for a long time know that Yelp in the past had a major issue with what we call stacked results.

Jordan Koene: 27:35 You go, you do a search, and you see like four pages for Yelp in the top listings, and Yelp over time, or Google, a combination probably of both, has cleaned that experience up. And I believe that oftentimes when when brands move into a new category, what they forget is knowing where the boundaries are and testing the boundaries. There are only so many cities in the United States and there are only so many city and food combinations that Google’s really only going to be willing to serve content for, because they already have the data from the other side, which is this is what users want.

Kevin: 28:10 Right, right. That is, I promise you, we’re going to go to the next question, but if there’s one thing that I wanted to tell-

Jordan Koene: 28:18 Our plane has not arrived, so we got time.

Kevin: 28:20 That is if it arrives at all.

Jordan Koene: 28:21 If it shows up, right, we might be walking back.

Kevin: 28:24 It’s already four hours late, so let’s see if we got to drive from event to San Francisco. Okay, so that makes perfect sense for me. I’m really learning right now, so thanks for that. My mind is blown right now at this point.

Kevin: 28:39 Does that mean that if I was TripAdvisor and have different verticals and different ranking factors applied to those verticals, that I need to take a completely different approach to my categories?

Jordan Koene: 28:51 Yes, exactly. And you have to, but this holds true for all types of businesses. And if you think about even even like, let’s take one of the oldest, organized businesses that has existed in like the last 200 years, publishing. Let’s take the publishing world. How does a publisher, like a newspaper, organize themselves?

Jordan Koene: 29:16 They’ve got a chief editor and then they’ve got all these editors that go across category and then they’ve got all these supporting editors that take subcategories and then they’ve got field people who are researching and getting all the articles, and that all kind of comes together.

Jordan Koene: 29:31 And the same applies to to our online businesses. And you need somebody who has a sharp eye and understands the online restaurant world to make decisions about where and how you’re going to publish content, not just to Google but to users.

Jordan Koene: 29:48 Oftentimes we overlook that. We overlook the value of that experience and that knowledge, and we just say, “Hey, let the machine do what it wants.” And that’s where we get in trouble. I mean, I’ll give you a great, real quick example.

Jordan Koene: 30:02 I mean, we used to work with this car company, and I sat down with the CEO and I showed him that they published a page for Bentleys in Des Moines, Iowa. Now Bentley, there are no Bentleys for sale in Des Moines. Let’s just start with that, Okay. There hasn’t been a Bentley sold in Des Moines ever on this website. And the closest Bentley dealership is 502 miles away, so you tell me how much value that page is creating for consumers in Des Moines. None. Zero. And Google already knows that.

Kevin: 30:39 Wow, that is absolutely mind blowing. When are you guys, when are you going to release the next kind of iteration, reconfigure studies?

Jordan Koene: 30:47 Well, we’re working on this product right now, we call it market insights internally. But it’s unique, so it’s a totally different twist on ranking factors because it’s not something that is just something that we publish to market. It requires the market to come to us.

Jordan Koene: 31:01 It requires, people like you to come to us and say, “Hey, this is what I have for G2. I have these very specific business units. Can you help me understand this?” And so it’s a very different approach. It’s not the same as as our previous studies. And so I think that the first thing is that I encourage anyone to reach out to us if you want to like try to get a sliver of this data, we’re happy to share some of this data.

Kevin: 31:25 Where can people reach out?

Jordan Koene: 31:26 Yeah, you can reach out either on the Searchmetrics website. We have a market insight section on our website. Or you can reach out directly to me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or you can email me [email protected] I’m happy to follow up and provide insights at this level.

Jordan Koene: 31:41 The other thing is we will be publishing glimpses of these studies, because as we do more of these, we’re going to have very specific and concrete data and we’ll be able to share that as a kind of more of a use case than a report like we used to do. And I think that’s where the industry is going to get all the value.

Kevin: 31:59 Man, amazing. I’m really looking forward to that. It means like the next step of understanding SEO and how it evolves, understanding Google, so I’m pumped about that.

Kevin: 32:08 I know you are pumped about, or have a strong opinion on politics and how we can have a stance in that. Where’s your mind at in those regards?

Jordan Koene: 32:20 Yeah, it’s a total curve ball here, total curve ball.

Kevin: 32:22 This is the point of the show, like there’s no …

Jordan Koene: 32:25 If you’ve made it this far in this episode, then kudos to you. You’ve dealt with airport background noise and our delayed flight here. But anyway, to this politics topic. We’re coming up on another election next year, and it’s not just about the election, it’s really about the current political environment from the lens of technology.

Jordan Koene: 32:48 Technology is maturing now. I mean, a lot of these businesses, Google, Facebook, many others, they’re over 20 years old. And so there’s a level of responsibility that they now have in society. And what we’re starting to see is that a lot of legislators, our legislators here in this country are trying to understand and learn how to better regulate many of these businesses, whether it’s the Cambridge Analytica scandal, or issues that we’ve had with privacy, with Google.

Jordan Koene: 33:19 The reality is that that our government is starting to take a step towards regulation. Europe has done a big step in the direction of GDPR. California will have, I think next year, implement the California privacy act. And so there’s already legislation that’s moving that direction.

Jordan Koene: 33:40 But here is what I want to share. Here’s what I want people to recognize, is we’re at a pivotal point where big tech, Facebook, Googles of the world, Twitters of the world, are directly influencing the direction of this legislation. They are investing millions upon millions of dollars in lobbyists and lawyers who sit in Washington DC to inform our elected politicians on how to form this legislation. And what I want to encourage everyone in this country to do … so if you’re a US citizen, which you are.

Kevin: 34:20 I am, I am.

Jordan Koene: 34:22 Even though you’re from … you are, so-

Kevin: 34:24 No excuse.

Jordan Koene: 34:24 Yeah, exactly. You have no excuse here, Kevin … is to take a stance and right to our elected officials. These people are representing us as people. They are not representing Facebook, they are not representing Google. And we need to be informing and educating our legislators, our elected officials on how to view the world of search, the world of social, the world of paid ad, digital advertising.

Jordan Koene: 34:50 And I ultimately want to encourage everyone. I’ve done it. I wrote just recently to the California attorney general, I found a website that I felt had malicious practices and they sent me a two page letter, specific, I’m not kidding, it’s a specific two page letter to my … responding to my concerns.

Jordan Koene: 35:15 And I think that that’s amazing. That’s the dialogue we need to have because by me informing them of what I considered a malicious practice online, they now are aware, they are now learning, and now when they are, running for office, making decisions, pushing their own legislation, they’re taking that into account.

Jordan Koene: 35:36 And so we as individuals need to become more vocal about how we want to see the technology world change, how we want to see the search world change, how we want to see the digital advertising world change, because these regulations are coming. But are they coming for the people, or are they coming to increase the pockets of big tech?

Kevin: 35:56 Yeah, you’re absolutely on point. And by the way, I’ll put all the links and references that we mentioned here in the show into the show notes. Obviously the PLA taxonomy, how to reach out to your representative, depending on which state, I’ll have to think about how I best do that, but I’m sure-

Jordan Koene: 36:14 There’s a couple of websites that show a full list for every single state, and then how you can contact your congressman or your senator. Yeah, they exist.

Kevin: 36:22 I’ll definitely add that to the show notes. And it’s a good point, it’s a good time that you mention this, because as … okay …

Loudspeaker: 36:28 5255 for …

Jordan Koene: 36:33 That’s us.

Kevin: 36:34 That’s our flight. Wow, I think that’s a calling. Okay. I think we should slowly start to get going. Jordan, first of all-

Jordan Koene: 36:42 There’s clapping for this flight, it’s that’s delayed, that delayed.

Kevin: 36:48 People are relieved.

Jordan Koene: 36:48 Yeah, exactly.

Kevin: 36:48 First of all, where can people find you?

Jordan Koene: 36:50 They can find me on Twitter, jtkoene, my last name, K-O-E-N-E. They’ll find me on LinkedIn and I’m happy to connect and communicate through either channel.

Kevin: 36:58 Awesome. Is there any last words that you want to get out before we board this plane?

Jordan Koene: 37:01 No, I just want to say, hey, thanks. Thanks for this opportunity, Kevin. I think this was great. By the way, he was an amazing speaker at the Swivel conference, so I know we talked a lot about Wil’s stuff, but a lot of our conversation was influenced through your stuff too.

Kevin: 37:11 Jordan, I have to thank you. Thanks for doing this, impromptu, and thanks for enlightening us with your wisdom. I learned so much just out of that conversation. Whatever happens, I thank you very, very much.

Jordan Koene: 37:23 Absolutely, Kevin, anytime. Awesome, man. Hopefully it all recorded.