This episode features Pasquale Mellone, Founder and CEO of Increasily.com. Increasily is a Dublin based digital marketing strategy agency on a mission to create and execute digital marketing strategies for brands and small to medium sized businesses.
Listen as Andy and Pasquale talk SEO in 2021. Discover what is involved and learn about the upcoming Google Page Experience Algorithm update. Find out what you need to do to rank well organically on Google now and after the pending update.
Discover what you should be on the lookout for as warning signs with SEO companies in order to avoid the industry scammers.
Finally, you can learn what an SEO professional believes to be the best eCommerce platform for SEO and how to optimize your existing store.
Episode Action Items:
To learn more about Pasquale Mellone or to sign up for a free SEO audit, visit https://increasily.com.
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal 0:02
Welcome to the Make Each Click Count Podcast. This is your host Andy Splichal. And today we're happy to welcome our next guest to discuss today's topic which is Talking SEO. He is the owner and founder of Increasingly.com, a Dublin based digital marketing strategy agency on a mission creating and executing digital marketing strategies for brands and small to medium businesses whose vision is filling the gap between strategy and execution. A big welcome to Pasquale Mellone. Hi, Pasquale.
Pasquale Mellone 2:27
Hi, Andy. How are you?
Andy Splichal 2:29
I'm great. Well, thanks for joining us today.
Pasquale Mellone 2:32
Thanks for having me here.
Andy Splichal 2:34
Now, before we dive into today's topic, which is talking SEO, can we first hear your backstory? And what ultimately led you to do what you're doing now?
Pasquale Mellone 2:44
Yeah, sure. Well, it's a long story. But basically, it's about me starting in digital now. I've been working in digital for the past 15 years. And I started with SEO. And at the time, it was very technical SEO. But then I moved to different areas of digital marketing and account management. So I was working on strategic accounts, and essentially, increasingly, was born from these two worlds meeting together. So one is the kind of hands on technical expertise of the SEO. And the other one is the more strategic marketing side of the account management. And at the time, when I started the company, which is now nearly five years, I found that there was no agency, they could do both. You could either find an agency doing specific tasks, or specifically focusing on specific areas like SEO, or an agency working on the big picture. While Increasingly, what we do is we create and execute digital marketing strategies.
Andy Splichal 4:06
Well, let's start talking about how SEO has changed over the years because that is a huge interest to a lot of people. So I remember when Panda and Penguin updates, I think those were around what 2008 2000. Anyway, they they really changed the game in terms of any more than just backlinks and optimized Titles and Meta Tags. Where have you seen SEO in the last five years?
Pasquale Mellone 4:33
Yeah, I mean, and you're right, SEO has changed dramatically. I mentioned that I started SEO 15 years ago, and at the time, it was just just keywords, keywords, you want it to rank for some selected keywords, you just keyword stuff your page with those keywords, and you were fine. But then, you know, like you said, you know, there were some very important updates of the Google search algorithm. And the focus started to shift. So initially it was keywords and links. And then in terms of numbers, and then it shifted towards the quality of the keywords and the quality of the links. And in the last few years, it's been really about content and the cluster of content. So the topic that you create by putting together by interlinking different pieces of content, and this is what SEO is nowadays, it's all about content, the quality of the content, answering people's questions, sort of FA in a in an FAQ format, and so on.
Andy Splichal 5:56
Now, are backlinks still important to rank well, with SEO organically today?
Pasquale Mellone 6:03
Yeah, well, I think this question, I mean, nobody could say no to that could answer no to this question. Having said that, and based on my experience, content, and the quality of the content is more important than the number and also the quality of the backlinks. Just to give you an example. My blog ranks high for some keywords where the articles or the content I created, doesn't really have a lot of links. But he ranks well, because he answers people's questions and answers people's intent.
Andy Splichal 6:45
Now, SEO, there's always been a lot of scams, I think, partially because you can't measure the results in quantitative timeframe. Do you get upset when you see companies getting scammed by SEO Services?
Pasquale Mellone 7:06
I wouldn't say I get upset. But I get a bit frustrated. Because you know, as you know, yourself, digital marketing, and SEO in particular, is a very competitive industry. And so the more you lose credibility as a digital marketer, the more the category loses credibility as well. And so to answer to your question, I don't get upset, but I get frustrated because it becomes it just makes it more difficult to sort of engage with customers and educating customers about the benefits of SEO.
Andy Splichal 7:52
Now, can you do you have a story in particular about a client who might have been burned, working with a one of these shyster SEO companies before they got you?
Pasquale Mellone 8:01
Well, I don't have a story in particular, but I do, there seems to be a trend that, you know, there's a trend of SEO agencies or SEO managers freelancers promising, you know, number one position on Google in in no time and absolutely no time. And then there are there's there are a lot of stories, a lot of clients, I'd say, 90% of the clients that they have the new clients that I get, they're actually clients come in customers coming from somebody else. And they, they they were disappointed with this person or with this agency, and then they come to me, and so I have to work with that. But to answer to your question there generally, is a matter of expectations. So they, they come, they go to another agency, because the expectations were not met, or transparency. A lot of stories from my clients are about, oh, I never really saw this level of reporting or this type of reporting, or I didn't know what was going on, and that sort of thing. So I suppose you know, again, to answer your question of transparency, and kind of high expectations are the two most common denominators for kind of new SEO clients for me?
Andy Splichal 9:37
Yeah, I mean, I think you you raised some some real important points there. It's definitely a red flag. If a company is promising you with the SEO services, specific results in a really short timeframe, like saying we'll get you to number one in the next couple of weeks or something like that.
Pasquale Mellone 9:58
Andy Splichal 9:59
You know, Here in June, Google is set to release a new algorithm update regarding page experience. Can Can you tell us about this coming update?
Pasquale Mellone 10:08
Yeah, sure. This is actually an update that was supposed to be rolled out in May. But because the majority of websites were not ready, Google decided to push it to June. So essentially, it's about core web vitals core web vitals are metrics that measure the page experience. So the experience that the user has of the web page, to cut it short, it's about how fast that page loads on your browser. And it's the new thing is that up until now, this is just been a metric that matter in terms of overall experience. So essentially, you know, if you visit the website, and the website doesn't load very fast, you kind of get a bit frustrated, a bit annoyed. And you might leave for starting from June, that the bad experience of the user on a given web page will affect the ranking of the website on Google. So starting from June quarter web vitals and page experience will become ranking factors in Google.
Andy Splichal 11:20
So what have you been doing to prepare your your clients for this coming change?
Pasquale Mellone 11:27
Well, part of the work that I've been doing is no different from the work that I normally do. Essentially, when I talk with a new SEO client, or a new web design web development client, because we also build websites, I stress the importance of fast loading web pages. And so I stressed the importance of updating your website regularly. Whether it we work with a lot of WordPress websites. So it's critical that you update you keep your website up to date in terms of core files, but also the plugins. And it's also a matter of security. So to answer to your question there, I haven't done really something very, very different or unusual. I have been preaching this the importance of page load speed from the start. And that hasn't changed, you know.
Andy Splichal 12:30
So that kind of brings me to my next question. What what website platforms do you think you had mentioned WordPress, but which ones do you think perform the best for optimizing for SEO?
Pasquale Mellone 12:43
Yeah, no, that's a great question. And I'm sure this is also a little controversial. I'm sure everybody's got their own opinion. Based on my experience, if you really WordPress gives a really good level of customization when it comes to SEO. So if you know the platform, you can really work well. And you can really do a very good on page optimization with WordPress. Now, this doesn't mean that other platforms, other content management systems, like for example, Shopify, are not good for SEO, it just means that there's a certain level of granularity that you can get with certain platform. And with WordPress, you can get to a very, very high level of granularity, which ultimately translates in bad results.
Andy Splichal 13:39
You know, you had mentioned Shopify this, this seems to be the very popular one that a lot of companies are migrating to, or we're opening their store, if it's a new store opening in Shopify, one of the things that I've heard is an inherent problem with Shopify is because of all the themes that is just inherently slow in both load time and responsiveness. Have you found that to be true? And what are some things you can do to speed up your Shopify website?
Pasquale Mellone 14:08
Well, yeah, no, there's definitely a great point and a great question. And so generally speaking, Shopify, structurally, is not among the slowest content management systems, because Shopify is essentially there in terms of images in terms of content, it delivers everything from their content delivery network, so from their servers, so you don't deliver an image from your own shared hosting you, you you kind of deliver an image from Shopify servers, which are really good and they're really fast. So the problem with Shopify being slow is actually the one the problem that is shared like it's a cross platform, problem with People are uploading, not knowingly uploading, like very heavy images, or images that are of a bigger size than they need. And so, you know, as you can imagine, if you have a Shopify website, like any commerce website with hundreds of images, that is heavy on the performance, because even if you use Shopify servers, I mean, and the images in Shopify are automatically optimized. And when you upload an image, even if the image is heavy, it gets optimized through the Shopify system. But if you upload just to give you an example, an image that is like, let's say, two megabytes, the level of optimization that you can get, it still results, and it still results in a heavy image. So definitely, in terms of recommendation there, pay attention to the images that you upload, make sure that they are the right size, I mean, if you are uploading your logo, don't upload a logo that is 5000 pixels, and and for sure, use images that are light, and not so heavy, that that will be the main recommendations for me.
Andy Splichal 16:28
Now, I think that speaking of PageSpeed, the Google PageSpeed Insights tool is probably the most well known tool that Google provides to developers. What do you think in your experience, the minimum speed your website should be if you expect to generate some decent traffic from organic listings?
Pasquale Mellone 16:51
Yeah, no, it's a very good question. I mean, the minimum is very difficult to say, I would say, always shoot for, you know, 89-90. Because if you use the page, the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, you will get two measurements, one for desktop and one for mobile. Now, generally speaking, your page load speed on desktop is, is faster than on mobile. So you want to make sure that at least on desktop, you, you are very close to the 90s. So you're around you're between 80 and 90, for a good page load speed. And definitely on mobile, I wouldn't go below 60 or 70. Because if you will, if your website is performance is below 60, or 70. That means, you know, your page load speed is very slow. And the the experience of the user on your pages is not great.
Andy Splichal 17:56
Now I would most companies I see the small to medium sized businesses don't have PageSpeed anywhere close to that, you know, I've seen them in the 20s or even in the teens. When a client comes to you, are you able to get them into that 80-90% range?
Pasquale Mellone 18:17
Yeah, no, I mean, that's, you're right. The majority of websites are they don't score that high. But the answer is yes. Some, it depends on the website. But But generally speaking, there are certain things like I was saying that you can do to improve the web, the sorry, the page load speed of your website, we normally help them to get to a decent score in terms of page, Google PageSpeed Insights. But most importantly, we help them get to a decent page load speed in terms of set the number of seconds that we take for the page to load.
Andy Splichal 19:03
So let's switch in and talk about your agency Increasingly.com. It's a very interesting name. How did you come up with naming your agency then?
Pasquale Mellone 19:13
Yeah, initially, that was, that was a very difficult question, because people thought it was a spelling mistake, you know, and they were correcting me when I would pronounce my agency's name because obviously the word would be increasingly. But it's actually the combination between increase and easily. And I just want to put in the in the prospects mind, the fact that it's not so difficult to improve to increase, whether it is traffic, whether it's conversions, whether there is revenue, if you use the right strategy. So that's why you know, like I said at the beginning, an increasingly digital marketing strategy agency because strategy is everything. Whether you're talking about SEO, whether you're talking about Google ads, whether you're talking about even, you know, web design and web development, you need the right strategy to succeed. So that's ,why that's where the name increasingly comes from. Increased plus easily.
Andy Splichal 20:14
And you guys, you're you're based out of Dublin, Ireland, right?
Pasquale Mellone 20:17
That's correct. Yeah.
Andy Splichal 20:19
Now, are your clients? Are they mostly European? Are they mostly American? How does that was it a combination there over?
Pasquale Mellone 20:27
Yeah, so the majority of our clients will be Irish, I'd say 70-80% of our clients will be Irish. But we work globally. We work with us, we work with India, we work with France. So we don't really have any geographical sort of focus or limitation, if you like.
Andy Splichal 20:49
And what what is your ideal client?
Pasquale Mellone 20:53
Yeah, so that's a great question. Well, because we work on, we stress the importance of digital marketing strategy, our ideal client will be a brand that appreciates the importance of the strategy. So a brand that needs guidance on for example, where to go with their SEO, or a client that is, for example, re designing or redeveloping their website. And they need to make sure that they do things right. So they don't lose their visibility, they don't lose traffic. So that will be the our ideal client.
Andy Splichal 21:36
And are you guys mostly doing ecommerce clients or professional service clients? Or what would vertical are you in?
Pasquale Mellone 21:45
Well, we don't really specialize in a vertical because the principle that we apply can be applied to both ecommerce or, like we call it brochure websites where you just, you know, order online, you don't really sell directly through your website. And so yeah, to the to answer to your question, we don't really specialize in any industry or vertical. We we we are cross industry. But having said that, we we tend to work if I had to think about a percentage, I would say maybe it's a 50/50 ecommerce websites and brochure websites.
Andy Splichal 22:30
And if somebody wanted to reach you, how what would be the best way for our listener to get a hold of you and get a hold of more information on Increasingly.com?
Pasquale Mellone 22:42
Yeah, sure. We're, we're on social media. The handle is increasingly and and then they can obviously find us on increasingly.com our website. That's probably the best way to get in touch with us. They can send an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Splichal 23:07
And you work a lot with with PageSpeed. In the in the SEO do you do migrations as well, if somebody wants to switch ecommerce platforms?
Pasquale Mellone 23:19
Yeah, that's a very good question. Yeah, we do. We work mostly on the mig the type of migration that we do is from a third party content management system to WordPress. So we've done Shopify to WordPress, Wix to WordPress Squarespace to WordPress, etc.
Andy Splichal 23:41
Pasquale Mellone 23:43
Magento, yes, but it wouldn't be our main focus, though. Yeah.
Andy Splichal 23:49
Now, finally, what would you say to someone who has been burned by by SEO company in the past, but they want to get, you know, desperately they want to get better organic rankings and, and really want to get ready for this new update that Google's rolling out?
Pasquale Mellone 24:04
Yeah, it's difficult to talk with somebody that got disappointed from working with some, some some other agency, you know, I would say that they can have, they can avoid SEO, but it doesn't mean that SEO is not there. So if they want to get visibility on Google, if you want to get organic traffic, they need to engage in some sort of SEO practice. And the SEO practice that I recommend, is actually has a twofold effect. Because like I was saying at the beginning, SEO nowadays is all about content and quality content, include and creating clusters of content. So on the one hand, if you've essentially if you write and publish blog posts, on the one hand, you put a position yourself as an expert in the field. But on the other hand, you're also supporting and helping your visibility on Google, which is essentially free traffic directly to your website.
Andy Splichal 25:13
And my absolute last question is that I read that Europe is now allowing fully vaccinated Americans to visit this summer with the exclusion of Ireland. Now, do you mind speaking on behalf of your country why why this is the case?
Pasquale Mellone 25:31
They're not sure about this question. But I have to say Ireland has been very conservative when it comes to you know Coronavirus and restrictions. And like you said it we island it kind of is doesn't follow really the other European countries. I think it makes sense with the policy they've been following for the past year or since the pandemic started. Very conservative policy. It's it's kind of the the old saying is better be safe than sorry. I'm not saying it's right. But it's the policy that the Irish government has been following so far. Hopefully, we're gonna get to a level of normality soon, so we can welcome American and other tourists.
Andy Splichal 26:25
All right, fair enough. I'll have to wait till 2022 for my visit. Hey, is there anything that I have forgot to ask you before we wrap it up today?
Pasquale Mellone 26:36
You pretty much covered everything. Yeah. That there was there. Yeah, I think there'll be
Andy Splichal 26:43
You know, did I see that you guys offer some sort of free assessment on the website?
Pasquale Mellone 26:47
I know, you didn't say that.
Andy Splichal 26:49
What is the what is it that you're offering on the website?
Pasquale Mellone 26:52
So essentially, we offer a free, it's a basic SEO audit, that gives you an idea about how about your current performance? It's like, it's like a baseline. It's like a benchmark is a Okay, I have for those clients that they say, Oh, I have no idea how I'm how I'm doing SEO, I think I'm doing pretty bad because I never look at it. So we actually sort of translate that pretty bad into a number or into a percentage in terms of visibility in terms of ranking in terms of page load speed. It's, it's a great conversation starter, because, you know, one thing is having the perception that the SEO that, like if your kind of visibility is bad. Another thing is seeing that on the report that you rank number 50 for your most important keyword, you know.
Andy Splichal 27:49
Sure, and that's available if you just go to Increasily.com
Pasquale Mellone 27:53
Yeah, that's correct. Yeah.
Andy Splichal 27:54
Great. All right. Well, that's it today. Remember, if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave an honest review. And if you're looking for more information regarding Pasquale, or Increasingly.com, including that free audit, I will go ahead and put a link in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business using Google paid ads request to join the Make Each Click Count Facebook groups, I've been releasing some all new free live trainings and more will be happening soon. In the meantime, remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.