Today I have a real treat for you! I am thrilled to introduce you to a guy who has been at the forefront of the SEO world as long as I can remember. Glen Allsopp is one of those guys you read about years ago in places like The Guardian telling a story of a prodigy who is somehow being able to make money in the weirdest places, like the Internet simultaneously traveling. Crazy, I know. However, take into consideration this was almost a decade ago.
I’ve first heard about Glen through one of his websites, viperchill.com something like a decade ago. I remember like it was yesterday, a friend came along running and raving about this SEO wizard spraying SEO tips on his website like they were dime a dozen. Today, he is literally making Google take action after he publishes the research on one of its loopholes. This happened twice.
As you will see from the interview, Glen will share with you which tools help him with SEO most, and how to deal with hate comments and negative SEO. To warm you up, with start with some motivation and reasons why you should build your own website portfolio, and what to do when it’s search traffic is in jeopardy after a Google update. If you liked the interview, please don’t forget to share and comment.
Goran: Glen, before we dive into some of the strategies and tactics on creating a successful website, or should I say online presence that’s making money, let’s start off with a psychological question. Why build one in the first place? What was your force behind building your online empire? Did you want to be your own boss, travel, become a millionaire, what was it?
Glen: I’ll be honest, making money was definitely part of the equation.
When I first started out I used to read the income reports of Shoemoney and John Chow and saw how much money they were generating. I never thought I could get similar numbers but thought that even if I earned a small % of what they did it would have been a dream come true.
Honestly, my biggest motivation was not having to go into an office or any other workplace every day. When I started learning SEO I was working at a clothes store in England, spending my weekends scanning tags on items to see if their price should be reduced.
I just didn’t want to have a boss telling me what to do each day.
Freedom was (and is) far more important to me than any monetary amounts.When I started learning SEO I was working at a clothes store in England, spending my weekends scanning tags on items to see if their price should be reduced.Click To Tweet
Goran: When you start a project, how do you decide which traffic source you are going after? Do you always focus just on SEO, or do you work on projects where sales come from Social Media, email marketing, and other traffic sources, or should I say platforms?
Glen: I’m primarily always thinking about SEO because if you can figure that out you can always have a stream of visitors landing on your websites.
Even if your primary focus isn’t SEO, I think it’s important to keep in mind as it often determines site structure, pages to create, headlines and more. Or at least it probably should.
With my SEO clients, many of them actually primarily rely on PPC (Adwords) or social media advertising (mostly Facebook). Search is not a big percentage of their traffic at all when they contact me.
It’s often an afterthought, but once they have a converting funnel in place, then they want to look at getting free traffic from search.
If you can become profitable through paid ads, any traffic you can get from a search is really huge, “free” (besides paying your SEO / content team) source of visitors.
Goran: What are your 3 favorite SEO tools, and why? How do these help you get to #1 position, and why do you think that tactic is important.
Glen: ScreamingFrog’s SEO Spider is easily my favorite SEO tool.
It has helped me uncover issues with websites I just don’t believe I could find any other way. Fixing on-site issues is often the quickest and easiest way to improve rankings so anything that helps with that is a bonus.
It’s very reasonably priced as well at just $191 for the year.
My second favorite SEO tool is Ahrefs. I should add full disclosure here that I worked with them on a consulting / strategy basis once-off this year (and hope to again).
That said, I have been using and recommending their tools for years before ever working with them. They have the best interface, the freshest data and are constantly adding new features before other competitors.
They cover everything from link research, keyword research, content inspiration that could pick up links and shares and so much more. I’m still finding new things it can do every time I use it.
Three is hard to pick because I really spend 90% of my time doing things manually. I am a huge believer in knowing exactly how tools work so you don’t have to rely on them. When I do use any tools it’s usually always ScreamingFrog or Ahrefs.
If I was pushed to recommend another service it would be Spyfu. I love their ranking history data which gives you insights into why some websites have increased in rankings and why those have dropped.
That’s always useful if you’re trying to figure out the same for your own websites or clients websites.
Goran: What advice do you have for someone who is relying on traffic from Google, and the traffic drops 50% due to a Google update. There was again a big one at the beginning of August 2018, targeting mostly health niche. What do you do in those situations?
Glen: I think for the August update specifically it’s hard to say.
I think the first thing you have to do in any update is refuse to make any sudden changes. It can be very tempting to try and fix and work on every little problem on your site and take action straight away, but it is possible that changes can ‘roll back’ not long after an update so stay patient.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to start looking at things you can improve. Do you have a lot of thin pages? Are you really the best result for a user? Does your website load slowly? Did you actually use the thing you’re reviewing? If you run a health site, did you consult with doctors or professionals before giving advice?
When you have obvious things you can improve and few quality links (at least compared to the competition), that’s actually a much nice position to be in when it comes to ranking drops.
If your on-site SEO is completely on-point, you have fantastic links and so on, then it’s much more confusing and frustrating to see rankings drop.
From there, find the winners and losers in your space and see if you can reverse-engineer anything they’re doing (the winners specifically) that you aren’t.
Finally, it doesn’t hurt to look into other sources of traffic if you’re highly reliant on SEO. I dabble quite a bit with Facebook ads for my own businesses and it’s something I’m always learning about.
Goran: Do you think it is possible to stay ahead of the curve with Google and anticipate their moves. If so, how do we do that? For example, we know that mobile, privacy and security are more important, and Google is rewarding HTTPS, mobile websites, etc. How do we stay at the top of our game?
Glen: Yes and no. You can follow their guidelines to the letter and still struggle to rank.
The best strategy is to think of things logically. Google needs people to use their search engine – and be happy with the results – for them to make money.
If the results showed nothing but spammy websites full of ads and pop-ups they would, in time, start to lose some of their massive market share.
It makes logical sense that they would want to present fast, ‘clean’, informative and authoritative websites in their results.
Anything you can do to fit the logical impression of what makes a great search result can only be a good thing.It makes logical sense that they would want to present fast, ‘clean’, informative and authoritative websites in their results.Click To Tweet
Goran: In a world where we are looking to get as much coverage and backlinks as possible, how do you fight your critics, bad press and negative SEO? Criminals go so far as let you know over email they “sent you 20 bad backlinks, and asking for a payment in a well-known cryptocurrency”? How do you protect yourself from that?
Glen: When I started gaining more popularity through my writing at ViperChill, it was actually quite crazy to watch my own emotions and see how I would react to negative comments.
I’ve had blog posts where I get 300+ comments of total praise, and then one or two which are just…harsh.
Of course, being the slightly flawed humans that we are, it tends to be that those 300 positive comments quickly go out of the window and it must be the two negative ones which we believe to be true.
I see this happen on a lot of blogs. Authors ignore a lot of the praise but always rush in to defend themselves against the critics.
One thing that helped me a lot with this was when I was researching one of my favorite authors, who I became pretty obsessed with at one point in my life, and reading all of their one-star reviews on Amazon. I just couldn’t believe they had any at all.
I like to think negative SEO attacks, in terms of “I’m going to fire 100,000 links at your site if you don’t do X” isn’t really that huge of a problem. I am not Google’s biggest fan, but they do a great job of protecting people from this for the most part.
(Of course, with billions of websites out there, there will be some exceptions).
Reputation management is definitely a big sector in SEO a number of companies focus on, just because of how much money CEOs and similar will pay to hide negativity, but sometimes it’s better to just focus on doing good and getting good results, rather than stressing about the hate.
Goran: Can you tell us a little bit about your current affairs? Where are you at the moment (which town) and what project are you currently working on, which one is making the most revenue for your business?
Glen: I’m always on the move to be honest with you, besides the last few months where I managed to break my ankle – ha!
Usually, I can be found somewhere in Asia such as Hong Kong or Singapore. I’m from England originally but moved to South Africa when I was 17/18 so it has been kind of normal for me to travel a lot.
Right now my primary focus is working with clients for my agency at Detailed.com. I’m focused on finding and sharing the type of SEO advice you won’t find elsewhere and like to think I’m delivering on that pretty well at the moment.
I also write about online business ideas over at Gaps.com. Because I spend my days reverse-engineering websites and their traffic sources, I also come across a lot of business opportunities, so Gaps is where I write them out and stop myself from being distracted.
I have a few other agency sites that target specific businesses where I look to help them grow their search engine traffic in specific markets.
I also have a few sites of my own – though many are mostly used for SEO testing – that I work on in my (very) spare time.
Thanks for your time, Goran!
I’ve been an online entrepreneur for more than a decade. Back in 2011, I sold my first small business. 500 Startups alumni. I love to read and write in every shape or form. Founder of WhoAPI and webmaster.ninja and website investor.