I recently approached Joseph Gojo Cruz and asked him to share his SEO knowledge with our readers. Joseph is a content marketer enthusiast with a lot of experience. We discussed SEO, email outreach and content marketing. Here’s the interview:
1. Who are you and how did you start doing SEO? What do you do now?
I’m the author of RankingElite.com, content contributor for Search Engine Journal. Co-founder of LinkCore Media, a content based link building company in the Philippines. I started in SEO back in 2011 when I joined a small SEO firm in the Philippines where my focus was to prospect and build artificial links to our clients’ websites.
Back in the days I was working for this company, I sort of realized the importance of search engine optimization and how it can benefit any business whether small or enterprise level. I then decided to leave the company to explore more in the industry.
Currently, I’m an outgoing SEO specialist for a local advertising firm in Perth, Western Australia. My focus for the company is website audit, content audit, link audit etc. for their local clients.
2. How do you see SEO in 5 years? Will backlinks remain to be the most important ranking factor?
In my opinion, SEO will still remain the same 5 years from now but the focus will be definitely very different on how we do things. With the side by side articles being published by the industry experts, from Phantom by Glenn Gabe to Newswave by Searchmetrics and the recent Panda 4.2. Clearly, Google has been continuously filtering pages in SERPs based on their algorithms which determine whether a page is quality or not.
Time will come that all pages in SERPs would only contain relevant, fresh and unique information to users but we can’t say how close or far Google is.
As for ranking factor, links are certainly important element of the web because it helps users and bots to discover new pages and navigate from one page to another. However, I don’t think links will remain the most important ranking factor because links alone isn’t enough to measure if a webpage is quality or not. It’s been years now in which Google is trying to clean up SERPs by filtering out non-quality pages in SERPs whether it is a link based or content based.
In my opinion, usability will be the most important ranking signal in Google. When you say usability, this normally consist of the following:
- Page load speed
- Multi-device compatibility
- Site overall content quality
As Matt always say, focus on the benefits of users by providing better user experience and value to them – and usability perfectly fits to it.
3. Link building in competitive niches, how do you do it? Do you believe in link building or link earning?
In high to medium competitive niches, my focus would still be content development. I prefer to compete through quality content that is hard to replicate and with real value to my audience. With proper promotion in social media, email and even in paid ads, our content will definitely reach our audience and earn links.
Links don’t hold the key to succeed in your marketing campaign but content does. While links hold the key for content discovery, at the end of the day, your content still has the power to convert your audience into leads or inquiries and links can’t do that.
4. What’s your favorite method to build backlinks?
I don’t spend most of my time building links to my blog or my client’s sites. I always try to practice the 80/20 rule which is 80 for on-site and 20 on off-site. In the long run, if you practice continues on-site development which provide great value to its audience, it will be rewarded not only links but also lifetime traffic.
But just to answer the question, I’d say email outreach. Email outreach can actually give you multiple benefits than you can ever image. This approach enables you to have a direct contact and connection with bloggers in your industry and you can use that opportunity not only to build links but also to build relationship with them.
5. What type of backlinks are working best for you now? What links everyone should avoid?
Links from resource pages actually work for my clients because the traffic is highly qualified and there is a higher chances of converting traffic from referrals into leads. Also, this enables my clients increase their audience reach, build reputation by being included on other related sites in your industry in a long period of time.
Here’s a good example; one of my clients was managed to be included on a resource page in its industry which currently rank #1 for a particular keyword.
In my opinion, links that everyone should avoid are the ones that will negatively hurt their website in the long run.
These are the links that violate Google guidelines. Links that was built to manipulate search engine rankings.
- Links from adult sites
- Links from irrelevant sites
- Links from penalized sites (identified spam)
- Links from link farm websites (articles submission sites)
6. What’s your biggest SEO accomplishment?
My recent accomplishment for the past 6 months was very simple. I was able to increase the organic keyword ranking of one of my clients from #18 down to #3 as of July 25, 2015.
Last December 2014, I started handling a website in home building industry. Unfortunately, their main traffic sources is organic traffic and PPC. They didn’t want to engage with email marketing, social media marketing and other potential marketing channels. My activities were limited and I was all alone handling the website.
Typically, here are the main sections I focused on in order achieve the improvements I brought to the website:
- Site load speed
- Keyword utilization
- Page elements re-optimization
- Disavow negative links
- Noindex thin and duplicate pages
- Fixed crawl errors
- Fixed HTML improvements
7. Has any of your websites ever been penalized? Did you recovered? How?
No. Fortunately, none of the websites I handled has even been penalized. I handled magazine sites, school blog, app site, real estate sites. As I’ve said earlier, my focus is not mainly link building but content development that provide real value to my clients’ target audience and of course, SEO best practices.
But of course, whenever I build links, I always make sure that the links that I’ll build to my clients’ websites are relevant and non-manipulative. And I particularly use a sort of metrics as benchmarks so there is a limit to websites that I will try to build links from such:
- Domain Authority
- Citation Flow
- Trust Flow
- Social Engagement