In our second episode of Watchtime, Aleksandra King interviews Ric Rodríguez, an award-winning SEO consultant and search guru who has recently taken on a new position at Vashi as Head of Search.
Originally coming from a musical background, Ric has been in the SEO industry for six years now. His beginnings into the digital industry were marked by his curiosity about Facebook’s algorithms and what is behind the newsfeed.
“Search marketing is not just my speciality, it is something that I absolutely love.”
He believes that search is essential in our fast-changing world. Moreover, Rodríguez states that there is a need of information, and what every SEO manager must ask themselves is if they are taking the right approach to understand the user, answering their questions and creating a unique experience.
Ric Rodríguez is also a key speaker within the search engine world. He started talking about SEO online, using LinkedIn and Twitter as his main social networking tools. He notes a funny story, that back in the day, one of his followers told him that his LinkedIn was “too boring”. “That was true,” he said. ”I just needed to add my own spin to the news I was sharing”. He has not stopped to add his very own spin since then.
On a different note, talking about his greatest achievements, he remarks his time back at Regis, where he and his team focused on driving huge gains for the business through Google and local SEO.
From a more technical perspective, he states that keywords are a vehicle for finding information. As humans, we look for things and how these things can be described into words, connecting one to another. In other words, it is clear that Google is looking at intent: this is, to find the thing that someone needs at the right time and moment. He defends that brands should be putting all their information available to search but should be thinking about how they do so. Businesses must focus on offering a wide range of information, but always considering how people will be searching for this information. In this way they will create a pre-established source of knowledge, which clearly answers user’s query intent.
In terms of structured data, Ric believes that these are codes you can use for your website to tell users about all the attributes that you are offering. Let’s say that, every time we ask a question to Google, the search engine tries to make sense of all data that it has, displaying it to make it have more sense to the user. This is the role of structured data.
On the other hand, videos are kind of something similar. For rich media formats, Google puts all this content from embedded videos into the search results, enabling that engagement with the user. Video formats are rapidly changing; this is why we must pay attention to custom tags and the words we use with them, we want them to get indexed. You just have to make sure that you put all the information that is available around video content.
Last but not least, Ric divides the role of voice searches in three components: understanding the person that is giving the message, translating the audio into text and/ or zeros. Moreover, visual search is also a popular trend, which is linked to the video. Visual searches must have rich information to get better recognised and found in the search engine.
To sum up, Ric shared with us three top SEO tips:
- Stop focusing on rankings and keywords.
- Think about how you are using your information and sharing it online.
- Start using structure data.
*This episode was multi-streamed with ReStream
Aleksandra King (00:03):
The watch time show sponsored by digital agency MintTwist. Welcome to watch time. The show for marketing industry influencers, looking for creative and digital ideas. We’ll be exploring new technology development and sharing the stories behind high profile industry players. I’m Aleksandra King from MintTwist. The digital landscape is ever changing voice search virtual reality and augmented reality amongst others are molding and shaping our digital landscape. It is important to stay in the know so that we can not only confidentially navigate the space, but also use it to our advantage. Three informed and focused search engine optimization. I’m joined by senior digital marketer, award-winning SEO consultant and search evangelists. Rick Rodriguez, Rick, I’m really excited to ask you about all of the latest SEO trends. However, also wants to learn a bit more about you if that’s okay. Of course. So, Rick, can you tell us a bit about your SEO journey from Net-a-Porter to SEO consultant at Yext?
Ric Rodriguez (01:10):
Yeah, so I have been in SEO for about five, six years, actually, all the way back I was in the music industry. I learned when I needed was in a band that I needed to get my band found and getting it found at that time was to start on social media and to get a presence. And I learned that Facebook was an algorithm, had a thing behind the newsfeed that you could start to influence and by influencing it, you could get seen by more people. And then I just raised the stakes from Facebook to Google and the rest sort of went on from there.
Aleksandra King (01:40):
So it’s fair to say that you rarely are, you have been in search for a really long time and that’s your speciality.
Ric Rodriguez (01:46):
Yeah. Search marketing is it’s not only my speciality is something I absolutely love. I’m fascinated by the way that the world is changing. And I think the search marketing is really important. Some of the wider trends that we’re seeing in the world.
Aleksandra King (01:57):
Is important. So in terms of search, what’s your philosophy? What is your SEO philosophy and how do you go about approaching it.
Ric Rodriguez (02:04):
From a philosophy standpoint? Um, I think that, I believe that there is this information need in the world. People are looking for things and the whole basis of search is to provide that information. And so rather than looking at how does my site get above other sites in rankings, take it all the way back. How am I serving that consumer need? When someone asks a question, how do I become the answer? Whether that’s about what I do specifically or the things that people find me or, or could care about me for. So taking that approach, it’s understanding the user, it’s creating experiences that engage and excite, and then making sure that when someone looks, they find the answer.
Aleksandra King (02:41):
I’ve noticed you, you have won some awards for COC. Obviously, you know what you’re doing? Can you tell us a bit about your greatest successes in SEO.
Ric Rodriguez (02:49):
From now when you Google, who is Rick Rodriguez? I have an answer which was a lot harder than originally. I thought it was going to be with a WordPress site that has sort of no, no special sauce behind it. Yeah. I I’ve, I’ve been say I’ve been agency side, I’ve worked with lots of different businesses. Some of the awards you mentioned, um, were for my time at Regis when I worked with crowds and I think my, my crowning achievement now, the award that we, that we wanted a team was to drive huge gains for that business through Google, my business and through local SEO.
Aleksandra King (03:17):
Wow. And that’s worked and, and you’ve got the prize.
Ric Rodriguez (03:19):
Is that right? Yeah. We, we, we won the award that year. It was, it was a good moment.
Aleksandra King (03:23):
Quite an achievement. So I also came across your website and, uh, and, uh, you are also a speaker aren’t you, you do a lot of speaking gigs and things. So it’s also fair to say that you tend to put yourself out there. Can you tell us a bit more about how you go about doing that? Well,
Ric Rodriguez (03:42):
I am, yeah. I it’s been totally organic to use a horrendous pun. Um, I fascinated by the world of search and I’ve always been someone to throw myself into everything. So I don’t just work in search. I live and breathe search. That’s the ethos I take. And then I started talking about it online and I had a, um, had a direct strategy director who was following my LinkedIn actually in his, his advice to me was Rick. Your LinkedIn is just so boring. You need to make it more exciting. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And he was right. It was really boring. And he said, why was it boring? It’s because I wasn’t opinionated and I didn’t have views. I was just sharing the news and facts. And he said, if you put a spin on it, people will like to, some people might want to hear that. So I just started by putting my own spin on some of the news updates that happened. And it seemed that people like that. So I did more of that. Moved to Twitter, started connecting with other people that are like minded. And, um, and yeah.
Aleksandra King (04:35):
So looking at the CD, is it more to add more punch to the posts that you’re posting or to the content of the CV itself about what you did and your job and so on.
Ric Rodriguez (04:46):
It’s more the post side of it. So LinkedIn is a great community for sharing information and finding the information, but rather than just taking an article and sharing that, I put my own ideas and spin on to why those things might be the case.
Aleksandra King (04:56):
Well, it’s definitely working for you that I, that I can tell you, I try my best. Right? So now moving on to trends and forgive me if I ask certain basic questions, but I am not as advanced, let’s say in this field. So I’m, I’m really keen to learn a lot as I’m sure our listeners are the first trend that, uh, I’ve come across is Google the answering machine versus Google the question machine. And I’m going to tie that into a tweet that I saw the other day. And the tweet says the following Google has moved away from a keyword matching algorithm a few years ago, and it’s time SEO did too. Do you agree with that?
Ric Rodriguez (05:35):
Completely keywords are a vehicle for finding information, but we know that at the heart of Google and actually at the heart of every answer machine, there’s a graph, we call it of information, a database, a store, all the things that knows about the world, right? And it’s not thinking about it in terms of words and how words relate. It’s thinking about it in the same way that we as humans think about it in that there are these things in the world and these things can be described in terms of lots of other things, and they connect to other things. So when we ask a question by using a key word, a vehicle for asking that question, it’s not matching words, it’s understanding what we mean by it and going out and finding information.
Aleksandra King (06:10):
So is it fair to say that Google is looking at intent?
Ric Rodriguez (06:13):
Completely intent is just another way of saying, to find the thing that someone wants in that moment of space in time.
Aleksandra King (06:20):
Keyword searches is not enough then to get a page rank. Does that, is that correct?
Ric Rodriguez (06:25):
We use the SCO joker card. It depends, uh, depends on what you mean by a keyword search. If someone is searching for something, they are clearly looking at articulating that, but as a business and as a brand, you should be doing everything you can to put your information into search and not thinking about it as do I rank high for this page or that keyword, but more, what information can I put out there and what could it be?
Aleksandra King (06:46):
So his answer, rich content generation.
Ric Rodriguez (06:49):
It’s not just answer rich content fast, definitely a component of it. But then again, it depends what you mean by answer rich there’s there’s if answer rich means putting FAQ on the pages, which seems to be what patios are doing at the moment. That’s great. But an SEO, an FAQ is a one to one relationship. If someone asks a question, you’re going to get that specific answer. Whereas if you have a page about a service that you do, or a page about a location that you have, there’s lots of different components. You can put your address, your phone number, the details of that service. That’s not necessarily someone, something that someone’s going to ask a specific question about that you’re answering, but you can create a basis of knowledge for any question around what you do.
Aleksandra King (07:25):
You’ve related to the next trend, which is structured data and structured snippets. But for those of those of us who don’t understand what that is, could you please explain what structured data is? And also the difference between structured data and structured snare?
Ric Rodriguez (07:40):
Um, so structured data, if we bring it down, sort of totally layman terms, it’s code that you can put on the website that clearly defines before search engines and other systems exactly what that page is about and key components around them. So if you’re a location you can use structured data to say, this is a page about a location. And this location is at this address with this telephone number to contact it and all these other different fields and attributes around it.
Aleksandra King (08:06):
Actually, I looked into this last night and I did a little test and Googled myself. And I can tell you that I didn’t code any structured data whatsoever about myself, but there I was described within the structure data.
Ric Rodriguez (08:23):
So structured data and then a snippet or a rich answer, or a featured snippet, or the information that you see in Google are somewhat related, but separate things, Google, as I say, leverages a knowledge, graph, a database of all the information that it knows. However, you put that information out there, it’s going to put information into this database. So when you ask a question, if it can provide the answer, it will do so it’s structured data as a way of making certain things really clear. So you might have a page with lots of information on it. Google is going to have to go through that information and make sense of it. And there might be some things you just want to make. Absolutely empirically clear, remove any inference or any assumption. That’s what structured data can do.
Aleksandra King (09:01):
Would it be say that structure data, the subject around that could also be popular subjects if, for example, for the hypochondriacs out there, yes. You know who you are. If you’re Googling a certain disease or a certain symptom on, you know, on the search, it will come up with probably the worst things is there. What’s the logic behind that?
Ric Rodriguez (09:19):
Google is understanding things from contextual information. So Google and they, they openly say this don’t have a way of understanding objective truth because they, they would need to bring that information from you.
Aleksandra King (09:31):
So it’s not correct necessarily.
Ric Rodriguez (09:33):
Well, they’ve got sophisticated systems to get to consensus, to get to an answer. And actually if you’re the brand and you start putting your own information out there, they can understand there’s a relationship and a veracity to that. But for things that are more general, they have to look at the information that’s out there and make an, make a decision. Ultimately, there is always going to be opinion and they will use all of the signals around that. They can, they can capture the capturing millions of data points to make that decision. So it’s not always that it’s the worst case, but it’s the one they feel is the most representative answer.
Aleksandra King (10:02):
Okay. And if we get back to, to what does this actually mean for SEO clients? What does all this mean and how do we go about tackling it?
Ric Rodriguez (10:10):
I think it comes down to this core point. If you, if someone is asking a question, whether that’s about you or something that relates to you, um, if you don’t answer it someone else well, so if you don’t have an answer for some of this information, then you’re not only not going to be found, but someone else is going to be found instead. And so for marketers and for, for strategists, that means, think about what you want to be found for. Think about the information you have and how you can contribute to this knowledge base and start doing it, whether that’s new content or however that might be.
Aleksandra King (10:38):
Alright. So moving on to the different types of content and the next trend video optimization. So can video show up as snippets.
Ric Rodriguez (10:46):
Actually, this is something that’s been happening for a while. If you put videos into YouTube, for example, Google actually will pull YouTube videos from embedded videos into the search results. It does it for other things like podcasts and other rich media formats as well. A video is fun. Fantastic. It’s a really interesting one because actually as humans, we want to engage with video content. I’ve sat for hours and hours watching video on Facebook where just populates the next one, the next one. And I believe that that’s a way that we’re going to take, or one of the ways that we’re going to take our information in the future. We’re just not quite there yet in the understanding part, but we will get there.
Aleksandra King (11:19):
Yeah. So to learn more about it, then how is video indexed in search?
Ric Rodriguez (11:22):
Well, it depends how, how much you believe or how advanced you believe the video recognition and audio translation systems are. I think they’re quite advanced and they’re certainly getting more advanced day by day right now, the bit that we can all point to are the words around it, the context around it, and any custom tags and tagging that you’re putting onto those videos to define what they are. Um, that being said, video has an audio component to it. And even a visual component to it. And search engines are just the systems that can decode video and decode audio are getting much better. So we could be on the brink of actually understanding the content from the content itself rather than
Aleksandra King (12:02):
That’s huge. That’s huge, but it’s also quite overwhelming because you, and I don’t know if I’m correct here, but would you then need SEO for YouTube and then separate SEO for Amazon? And it’s just overwhelming. How, how does that work?
Ric Rodriguez (12:15):
I bring it back to this knowledge base idea. Every system has a knowledge base. And so you putting information out there, all you’re doing is building the information that sits in their knowledge base. Now, if you can, if you start to think about the different systems, yes, Amazon might have a different way of ranking to Google, to Facebook, to other, to other vertical search and your other search engines, but they all have a knowledge base. We think of it in three levels. Yes. Do you have the user interface? The bit that people engage with ask the questions you have, the machine learning component that works it all out, but actually you can’t impact either of those two because people will search the way they search and the machine learning will work. The way it works. What you can do is impact the date, the baseline data, and make sure that all of that data is there. So you can be found.
Aleksandra King (12:55):
Really got to guide your clients about what they should be putting in these videos so that the SEO is pulled out accordingly and does what you want it to do. It’s quite complicated actually.
Ric Rodriguez (13:05):
It is an F today. Video is one component of the way that we’ll we take in information. So if you are a business that is looking to use video content, we’ll use all of the fields, use all of the options that are available to you. If you have a way to put information around him, that’s captioned or content, then make sure the content is related to the video, but in the future, um, you know, there’s a theory that SEOs will become videos of video editors because that’s, that’s how we might want to take our information.
Aleksandra King (13:32):
Can you relate it to what we’ve just discussed? Voice search, which has certainly gained mileage. It’s easy. It’s convenient. I do wonder though how accurate it is.
Ric Rodriguez (13:41):
Voice again, I’m going to convention the knowledge base. There’s three components to this. I would say to them, it’s three components. One, understanding what the person is saying, taking the audio content and translating that to a text or a one and zeros. If you’re, if you’re a computer, there’s the understanding what those words mean. And then there’s finding the information to find the information is the same part as the other parts of, of search engines with you type something
Aleksandra King (14:05):
Same accuracy. It’s the same. Yeah.
Ric Rodriguez (14:07):
Formation. It’s the same knowledge base. The difference with voices, you get one answer often rather than multiple answers. So you don’t have the option to scroll down and find other bits of information, but actually that’s exactly what’s happening with these snippets. These answers that appear in search, you are getting one answer. It is the same accuracy because it’s the same reasoning and the same contextual signals you use to find it.
Aleksandra King (14:26):
Next trend visual search. I think it’s important to define what we mean by visual search. So how would you define it?
Ric Rodriguez (14:34):
So visual search is linked to video. There’s an image component. So a lot of people talk about visual search today is appearing in the image results. And that again is around, are you using the tagging around that correctly? Because people actually, when they search things like products, they do search the pictures rather than just the price. Um, and we know that that’s important because Google is starting to run PLS, shopping ads across pictures. Um, tagging is important, but actually as image recognition gets better, the content that’s in the image can be better recognized and used in and of itself to help you, uh, Tubby, Rankin or help you be found at the very least. And there’s a future that I’m thinking is coming sooner rather than later, which is the impact of augmented reality on the world to bring it all the way back. We talked about how I believe search is influencing the way the world works.
Ric Rodriguez (15:21):
AR is a perfect example of this search could sit as a layer on top of augmented reality. So when you wear your smart glasses or your contact lenses of the future, or perhaps even if it, Elon Musk gets his way, the chips in the brain that you have, you’ll be able to look at something. And rather than it working out, you’re in this location at this moment in time. And therefore, because you’re facing that way, the thing in front of you has to be, it will just recognize the picture in front of you and say, this building is this. And here’s some information on it.
Aleksandra King (15:45):
So just to, to sum up for our users, if you had to give three absolutely top SEO tips, what would they be?
Ric Rodriguez (15:54):
Tip one, stop focusing on rankings and keywords. They have value. They are useful for identifying demand, but getting to the absolute minutia of having this specific word on the page versus that one, Google isn’t thinking that way anymore. Google has a database of information. That’s where it’s leveraging. So that leads me on to 0.2, which is think about the information that you have and what you’re putting out online and how you’re putting that online. Again, nicely on the 0.3, you start using structured data, structured data, schema markup being the preferred way. According to Google now of, of providing information is a great way to make sure your message gets put across without ambiguity, right?
Aleksandra King (16:31):
It’s been brilliant having you on the show. Thank you for your time.
Ric Rodriguez (16:34):
Thank you for having me.
Aleksandra King (16:37):
And that concludes our podcast. Email. Any questions you have to [email protected], Or you can visit us on watchtime.site to learn more about any of us or our guests, and do subscribe to hear more from us! Thank you for listening to the watch time podcast brought to you by digital agency MintTwist.