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Ryan Jones on Ranking Factor Nonsense, Machine Learning & SEO, Why You Should Build Websites & More [PODCAST]

Ryan Jones of Razorfish shares his insights on ranking factor nonsense, machine learning and SEO, why you should build websites, and a whole lot more.

Ryan Jones on Ranking Factor Nonsense, Machine Learning & SEO, Why You Should Build Websites & More [PODCAST]

“There’s just so much bad advice about stuff that’s ranking factors… There’s a whole bunch of stuff that search engines are telling us isn’t a ranking factor, and then a lot of SEOs are like, ‘We know better. Yes, it is.’ I don’t think they have reason to lie to us there. I don’t know what their motive to lie to us would be there. So, I just wish we’d go back, and look at our ranking factor studies, and our correlation studies, and get rid of the stuff that we know isn’t a ranking factor.” 

As a software engineer turned SEO, Ryan Jones knows his way around websites, codes, and algorithms.

He could even build his own search engine – if he had the time, that is.

Ryan has been doing SEO in the Detroit area since before Google went public.

When he’s not working, Ryan can be found playing hockey, softball, and golf, among others.

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In his free time, he also runs the popular SEO satire blog WTFSEO.com as well as other websites and tools he’s built over the years.

His programming background, he thinks, has been a huge help in his SEO career.

While not all SEOs start out with the same technical knowledge, Ryan suggests to “start doing SEO for yourself” to further hone your skills.

One piece of advice he has for industry newcomers who want to become successful in SEO:

“Make your own site. Doesn’t matter what it is, but put a site out there, learn some of the challenges. Learn how to get it up there… Install a CMS, install some plugins, make an XML sitemap, do all that stuff that you tell clients to do. And that way you can understand what’s actually involved, or what it means when you’re telling a client to do something… Walk the walk, talk the talk. Do it, do it yourself. Just go out there, and learn. Start coding.”

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All great tips from Ryan Jones, an SEO pro you need to know better and my guest for today’s edition of The Search Engine Journal Show.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan currently leads the SEO team for Razorfish. He’s been at that company for about eight years now.

Four years before that, he was still doing SEO just in a few other places. (He started out as a software engineer before getting into SEO.)

Ryan has been a contributor for Search Engine Journal for a few years now. This year he will be one of four columnists who are sharing the Ask an SEO Column, where we answer your questions about whatever’s on your mind.

Ryan’s also a regular speaker at Pubcon. You can catch him this year at Pubcon Austin, Pubcon Miami, and hopefully at Pubcon Vegas. He also hopes to be at UnGagged later this year.

In this episode, Ryan shares his insights on ranking factor nonsense, machine learning and SEO, why you should build websites, and a whole lot more.

Show Notes

  • Do we still have a common sense problem in SEO? [2:25]
  • Ryan talks about his current role leading the SEO team of Razorfish. [5:03]
  • What does a typical day look like for Ryan? [6:16]
  • “Success for us is success for our clients, and that’s my biggest metric,” says Ryan. [7:26]
  • The challenges that come with working with big brands and how to deal with them. [9:07]
  • It’s 2020, but why do we still have to sell people on the value of SEO? Ryan has a good analogy for it. [11:55]
  • Ryan shares how he got into SEO. (He actually graduated with a degree in computer science and wanted to be a programmer.) [13:54]
  • Ryan says his programming knowledge has been a huge help in his SEO career. [19:15]
  • Fun fact: Ryan was once a Google quality rater back in 2006. [22:11]
  • Depending on how you interpret it, you could be effective at SEO with just reading Google’s quality rater guidelines. [23:49]
  • The first big thing Ryan worked on in his career? Helping convince Ford to move from FordVehicles.com to Ford.com. [26:05]
  • The first-ever client Ryan has had to fire and the story behind it. [28:24]
  • Here’s how Ryan overcame the low points in his career. [31:50]
  • Ryan talks about WTFSEO which he calls “The Onion” of SEO. [33:18]
  • His advice for people who want to become a conference speaker at some point soon: “Just go for it. Don’t let the imposter syndrome get to you.” [38:21]
  • The networking and the relationships are Ryan’s favorite part about speaking at conferences. [40:57]
  • What he’s looking forward to as one of four contributors to SEJ’s Ask an SEO column this year. [42:01]
  • On the top favorite articles he’s written for SEJ. [43:49]
  • Ryan’s best writing tip: “Have the passion and let that passion come through in your writing.” [44:58]
  • Understanding searcher intent and the changing SERP landscape is something SEO pros should be focusing on. [47:01]
  • Answering questions has been a huge tactic for some of Ryan’s clients. [48:37]
  • Ryan talks about some of the many SEO tactics that still get a lot of talk but aren’t actually having as much of an impact as they did a couple of years ago. [49:41]
  • How to approach accessibility when nobody really knows the right thing to do. [53:37]
  • On machine learning and how it’s impacting the role of the SEO. [57:38]
  • What is Ryan’s favorite SEO fail? [59:23]
  • Recommendations for people who want to either learn about SEO or just keep up to date on everything that’s happening. [1:01:58]
  • If he wasn’t in SEO or marketing, Ryan says he would probably be a programmer still. [1:08:38]
  • If he could go back in time and do something differently, he would “work a little harder at doing stuff for myself, building my own sites, and building my own brand.” [1:10:34]
  • Ryan admits he’s terrible at time management but music helps him focus. [1:10:54]
  • The best professional advice that’s been given to Ryan: “Sometimes, even when you’re right, you’re not right. Sometimes you’ve got to let stuff go.” [1:13:20]
  • Ryan thinks there’s so much bad advice about SEO ranking factors. [1:14:10]
  • Tips for industry newcomers who want to eventually become successful. [1:16:07]
  • The things that Ryan is most excited about in SEO. [1:17:52]
  • What’s next for Ryan Jones? [1:19:04]

Links from the Episode

How to connect with Ryan Jones:

Twitter | LinkedIn | RyanMJones.comWTFSEO

People Mentioned

This podcast is brought to you by Ahrefs and Opteo.

To listen to this Search Engine Show: Better Know an SEO Pro Podcast with Ryan Jones:

Visit our podcast archive to listen to other Search Engine Journal Show podcasts!


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

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Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal

Danny Goodwin is Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. In addition to overseeing SEJ's editorial strategy and managing contributions from ... [Read full bio]

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