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Positively TMM – Tim Soulo from Ahrefs

Tuesday 6th April saw me up and awake early, to join thousands of other people tuning in to Joe Glover, and the latest Marketing Meetup webinar, featuring Tim Soulo from Ahrefs.

Unlike the previous webinar, which was a presentation from Dave Harland, the webinar this week was more of a Q&A session with Tim Soulo, talking about how Ahrefs gained 1,500,000 monthly search visits.

This format worked really well, and judging from the comments and questions, many other people enjoyed this episode too.

Background

So, in my previous SEO role, I used Ahrefs SEO and Keyword software extensively for several years, and knew what it was capable of, and that it was invaluable.

My clients benefitted from Ahrefs as they learned more about their business and their online presence. I used many of the features, including graphs and rankings as screenshots in reports and proposals.

I’d also received many newsletter emails from Tim too.

Tim’s Background

So, in a nutshell:

  • Tim’s from Ukraine, as is Ahrefs founder, Dmitry
  • Ahrefs is located in Singapore
  • Tim used to be a DJ
  • Tim started out in tech support but had no interest in web design or development
  • He started blogging as a bet, which he won by default when his friend and fellow-blogger gave up
  • He got his name out and was found by Dmitry and was asked to join Ahrefs
  • Tim is now the Chief Marketing Officer at Ahrefs

My expectations

As I’ve been out of the SEO game for a couple of years, I wondered what had changed.

  • Would I even still recognise SEO?
  • Or, would SEO have stayed pretty much the same?

I was intrigued to find out.

The Q&A session

Joe asked Tim a number of general SEO and keyword-related questions, to help those coming from a ‘marketing’ background to learn more about ‘SEO’ and digital marketing.

So what did we learn?

SEO is still:

  • Website:
    • Needs to be fast, mobile, provide a good UX
  • Content:
    • Accurate, relevant, and appropriate keyword research combined with good content is still essential
  • Links
    • Tim called this ‘Promotion’ rather than links, but it amounts to a similar thing
    • People will naturally ‘talk’ about the ‘best’ product/service, and so these rank better because they are (seen as) better

SEO people need to stop:

  • Making SEO look like dark magic
  • Suggesting/implying there’s a ‘secret sauce’ or ‘magic bullet’ involved in SEO

It’s essential to remember that many SEO clients have been ‘scammed’ before, and are likely to be cautious when approaching SEO

Tim pointed out that it’s important to remember that people want solutions rather than products/services:

  • They don’t (always) know what the solution is, but they know what their problem is

He uses a business impact score for search impact from 0-3:

  • 0 – relevant
  • 3 – irreplaceable

He gave the example of losing weight (isn’t this the most-overused example?!):

  • A kettlebell might be useful perhaps further down the line, or when exercising at home – it’s relevant, but a 0
  • A diet might be the first thing that people think about when losing weight – it’s irreplaceable, a 3

Tim also reminded us to:

  • Stop looking for hacks or shortcuts, and just do it
  • Do the stuff that makes sense, rather than worrying about KPIs – rely on trust and autonomy
    • Don’t agonise over traffic or stats
  • See SEO as an investment, not an expense

We were encouraged to think about learning from others, and sharing with others too.

One last thought was that:

  • “Some company” is gaining new business, winning sales, getting talked about

If that’s not your company, you’re doing your potential customers a disservice by not appearing where and when they need (and expect to find) you.

Conclusion

My first SEO boss way back in 2007 always said that SEO was (and always would be):

  • Code
  • Content
  • Links

And, according to Tim Soulo, it seems like he’s still right, 14 years later.

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