Interview with SEO Book’s Aaron Wall to Discuss Google and Future of SEO

SMS Text

aaron wall seobookAaron Wall, an SEO consultant, book author, blogger, and the founder/owner of SEO Book, joins us today to discuss the future of SEO.

Search Engine Journal:

As long as I can remember, I have heard people saying this is the end of SEO. Do you truly feel that if SEOs do not stand up for themselves this could be the end of SEO as we know it?

Aaron Wall:

“I don’t think the industry sprouted up all at once & indeed there were articles about its imminent death years before I even got into the industry, so I don’t think the industry will die a quick death or die all at once. More likely is that people slowly get marginalized while their profits decline & they lose personal freedoms. There was a golden window of opportunity for about a half-decade…and the door is starting to close, but some will still do fine for years and years.

Many independent SEOs comfortably make high 5 to mid-6 figures working for themselves, while some of the most ambitious might do a magnitude greater than that. In the years to come many of those independent SEOs will become in-house SEOs making a fraction of what they used to. Certainly those who are learning how to pay for traffic & gaining expertise in brand building will have more longevity than people who are tightly focused exclusively on SEO.

That said, a lot of folks syndicate propaganda about Google being a white knight and those how disagree with anything they say as being spammers who were black hats who had it coming. Of course the obvious response to that mindset is this: look at Google biz dev. If you do what Google does, you will almost certainly make far more profit than if you do what they tell you to do (but don’t bother following themselves).

A perfect example of this can be found in this WSJ article.

A Google spokesman said “applications that are installed without clear disclosure, that are hard to remove and that modify users’ experiences in unexpected ways are bad for users and the Web as a whole.”

That is what Google says when a 3rd party modifies the Google user experience, but when Google rolls out autolink to insert links into your content without your permission, Google Related to put ads for competing sites and services at the bottom of your website, Google breaks frame blockers in image search so you can’t claim a page view for your quality work…all that is fine. When Google used their iOS Search App to sneak all sorts of other Chrome stuff onto Apple’s iPad that was fine too!

And we recently learned that after the Panda update where poor content had to be punished that Google is now pre-paying Demand Media to generate more content. The inconsistency between their editorial advice & their business strategy is shocking.”

Search Engine Journal:

“In light of the development you highlighted in your “Forget SEO” blog post yesterday, how should companies and SEOs alter their online marketing strategy?”

Aaron Wall:

“I wouldn’t say that there has been a single make or break development, but rather a series of events. Clearly, if you behave as Google does, they find it unacceptable and publicly admonish the behavior.

The utopian view of the web was that inferior middle men and inefficient big businesses would be cut out and great “mom and pop” and small artisan businesses would connect directly to their customers. That perhaps the best businesses would win and there wouldn’t be as much need for marketing and advertising. But, there wouldn’t be so many online marketers if this were true…we would all make bread, repair shoes, or something else like that.  😀

What the utopian view of the web missed was:

  1. our inherent lazy nature
  2. the penny gap
  3. economic incentive structures matter
  4. those in positions of power rarely volunteer to roll over & die

The web started to peak out in terms of what direct response advertising could earn for the central attention aggregators and suddenly brand + scale magically turned into a “relevancy” signal. In the short run that means investing in brand can be a good idea, or if the cost of that is too high, then perhaps it might make sense to ride on another branded platform. A lot of Youtube & Facebook spam has been floating to the top of the SERPs since Panda, and there are other big sites that are focused on every aspect of ecommerce.

Other marketing channels like display, affiliate, email and even your invoices can present opportunities.”

Search Engine Journal:

“What can SEOs/Google Users do to prevent these types of SERPs pages from being the new norm? Why should people take these actions?”

Aaron Wall:

  1. Treat Google the same way they treat you. (If they start with contempt and suspicion, so should you).
  2. Search using something other than Google as your primary search engine. (starve the beast of data)
  3. Refuse to click on Google ads. (starve the beast of capital)
  4. Test investing some portion of your AdWords budget on other ad networks. If Bing gives you a similar ROI as Google then it is better to spend as much as you can on Bing because having multiple channels & suppliers lowers your risk over being too dominant on one supplier.
  5. Create walled garden content & community that is significantly better than anything that is available in the SERPs that people are willing to pay for it. (If Google extracts most of the value from the search ecosystem then keep some of your best information outside of that ecosystem.)
  6. If you have a great content source that you value & do not want to see disappear find a way to pay them directly or indirectly. If they don’t charge & they don’t have a donate button on their site then demand they put one up. (I love & in addition to being a subscriber I have likely sent them dozens of other paying subscribers).
  7. Build other funnels into your site (social, display, email, cross-promotional strategies, etc.)

Aaron Wall is the founder and owner of SEO Book, which is the #1 online SEO training program. The program includes a private support community, premium tools, and over 100 custom training modules.

David Angotti

David Angotti

After successfully founding and exiting an educational startup in 2009, I began helping companies with business development, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO),... Read Full Bio
David Angotti
Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • Andy Graham

    I appreciate Aaron, he is what a consultant should be, honest, direct and brave enough to confront problems head on. Google is clever, but Aaron is able to see clearly.Thanks for years of insights.

  • Jonathan

    It’s quite clear that Google is using its dominance to drown out the organic search results and is intent on profiting from every bit they can’t or ruin those who stand in its way. I hope the EU will take action to curb their evil intent and that the US should follow.

    It’s quite clear that they’ve been misusing their power for a long time now and that the quality of their search has declined as well.

    I for one never click on google ads anymore and have told all my friends to stop doing so as well.

  • Hukuki Ceviri

    The power of being authority in a field. In my opinion if google does the same things, it will ruin its brand name then

  • Jake bosworth

    Thanks, SEJ and Aaron!

    I love how Aaron is always called upon when “SEO is dead!” hysteria breaks out. He’s the steady, yet subversive voice SEO’s want to hear. And he’s right!

    I recall Google making a statement years ago, something along the lines of-

    “If you’re a business and you want people to find your site via Google, PAY up!” There’s nothing wrong with that- IMO.

    Look at Google’s “mission”:
    “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” I think that went out the window a long time ago. That doesn’t quite match the view of people who bought in at $350/share!

    And every big business I can think of is hypocritical to some degree. 😉

  • hyderali

    Thanks David for interviewing one of the masters of seo, Sir Aaron Wall.

    Though, the questions seems to be less but direct to the point & the answers from Aaron are really ‘a must to read & keep in mind’.

    As people are spreading rumours that SEO is Dead & now Aaron stated that before he enters the industry these rumours were there. It means SEO will long live ahead.

    I like the tips given by aaron on how to beat google & treat them as a business tool & not your savour.

  • Web Designing Pakistan

    Thanks Aaron, I really appreciate your tips are valuable for us..

  • Orissarealestate


    I’m really happy with your interview , It’ll help SEO professionals in future.
    Thanks a lot.

  • SEO Bod

    As long as the internet exists and trade is taking place SEO will not die. Great insights Aaron, will seek you out across the plain…

  • Al Scillitani

    Good article, however after reading the list at the bottom of the article, I am going to assume Aaron is not that familiar with paid search.
    #3 on the list- stop clicking on Google ads: PPC ads have nothing to do with natural search results. As a matter of fact, if people stopped clicking on those ads I would bet more non-relevant natural search results would appear because SEO would then be the only way to get traffic and you would see black-hat SEO escalate.
    #7 on the list- use other engines like Bing: Every PPC’r would love to use alternative engines and most do. the problem is that Bing does not produce the needed traffic. In many cases, the ROI from Bing is actually better than Google. The problem is, the business cant survive solely on Bing because it only produces a tenth of the potential customers Google does.

  • Multi-Worded Adam

    Aaron is a bitter has been. I have Matt Cutts and other Googlers that I trust on my Google+ Circles so I very much disagree with his conclusions.

    • Jake Bosworth

      What type of information are your trusted Googlers sharing with you?

  • John

    20 NOV 2012
    Nice post Aaron,
    Did you hear about how much Google shares fells recently ?
    Now its all about greed for money like Microsoft, but Google is even worse !

    At least Microsoft have the guts to be honest about the fact they are in it only for the money.

    You are correct, we have all followed Google’s best practices for web design and now we are punished for it. Google are attacking their own kind, webmasters & engineers who design quality websites according to “Googles own Webmasters Guidelnes”. Google change the guidelines every month to “deliberately confuse & mislead webmasters”.

    I have been designing websites on Google for over 10 years, they needed web designers & engineers then, hell our company even supported them against Microsoft.
    Now they turn “traitor” and attempt to destroy their own kind…
    Webmasters & Seo’s are now conveniently called web spammers & link spammers by Google, because we are now seen as their competition and they want to control us.

    Now Google are trying to attack our credibility as engineers & Seo’s, they
    have insulted us by wasting our time.

    At one time our websites produced Google’s quality results in the index, but now Google call our websites over-optimized. Finally they are now attacking engineers who design quality websites, just leaving websites with Google Adsense & Google pay per click results in the index.
    Often these pay per click websites ranking well on Google don’t even have a sitemap, these are the new Google Quality Results.

    They have rules but not for everyone, just for the ones that don’t PAY.
    Why, because we are talented enough to achieve the best results in the index.
    For that reason Google hide behind Panda & Penguin updates to cover their Malicious,Manipulative Practices & Deeds against web designers, engineers & Seo’s ….

    It’s true competitors can destroy any website now on Google with scraped content & replicated poor quality inbound links attacking any keywords for competitive search phrases.
    Google are the ones that allow this to happen with their ridiculous Panda & Penguin updates….. Engineers ??

    When you report the offending back link spammers they remain unpunished by Google because they have paid ADS.
    Google’s new link disavow tool takes up to four months to remove offending backlinks, what’s that ? Your clients website is destroyed and they loose 4 months worth of revenue while Google adjust their algorithm with some new horror designed to attack web designers & Seo’s.

    I would like to form a consortium of graphic designers, webmasters, engineers & Seo Consultants to discuss and publicize making a move over to BING & YAHOO.

    Hell Google!!! Don’t deserve the best web designers working with them, they need to be scraping Yahoo & Bings results to improve the quality of their index …

    As engineers lets ensure that in the future we give Google the publicity that they deserve utilizing the tabloid press & the T.V. , another really destructive power.
    As engineers we are not going to sit with our hands crossed, we are going to collect data and use it.

    Google are using “Manipulative Practices” and would loose their case in a court of law.
    I am certain that the monopolies commission will deal with them, but looks like they are in the process of digging their own grave.

    Please Contact me via Aaron, and we will organize the best way forward together with other webmasters, engineers & Seo’s

    John Franklin
    B.Sc. Computer Science