A new feature of SERPd is our member interviews! For our second member interview we are speaking with Zarko Zivkovic a.k.a on SERPd as practicalseo.
Zarko has been a member of SERPd since our beginnings. He owns Practical SEO, an SEO company based out of Serbia. You can connect with Zarko on Twitter if you want to stay up to date on what he is doing. He was kind enough to take some time out of his busy day to sit and answer some questions from the staff of SERPd. Below is our conversation…
SERPd – As we all know, most people don’t grow up thinking about one day becoming and SEO or internet marketer, and as such i’m always fascinated how people get into this business. Would you care to talk a bit about your history and how you found your way into the SEO/blogging business?
Zarko – By inheritance. Kidding, but my older brother is an amazing PHP, Delphi and what-not developer and I kind of followed in his footsteps of being interested in all those things, but never quite good at them as they didn’t get to me quite well. At one point I wanted to try out myself as a webmaster with couple of ideas and when you own a website you are bound to hear about SEO, I got interested, I started learning (still am) and it sort of drew me in. That’s how I got to be where I am now. I’m guessing most people got in this way.
SERPd – You’ve been a user of SERPd since our early days. What was it that initially drove you to using the site?
Zarko – I think I got on SERPd a few days after you opened your doors, the reason being a secluded SEO community, which is rare. Like most SEO’s I wanted a place to share among likeminded people, and besides Sphinn there weren’t many.
SERPd – So are you a blogger, networker or SEO at heart? Why?
Zarko – Definitely SEO! But being an SEO is not black and white, it requires from you to be a networker and even a blogger as well, along with many other things. Why, because I could never sit still, I like challenges, and SEO gives a lot of them at all times. I like analyzing, researching and coming up with ideas to overcome a problem, it’s like a puzzle and we are the kids playing with it.
SERPd -Do you work with U.S. Client or mainly clients in your own Country? What are the differences?
Zarko – U.S. Clients, Australia, even major European countries, and only a small percentage are local. The difference being Google in each respective country. In the U.S. we have Panda updates, quality content control, instant and what not, in Serbia and other countries Google can still be influenced by SPAM links, bad content and methods from 2006, so people don’t need SEO’s to rank their websites. Also, the competition is almost nonexistent, so there is still no need to pay someone to help your website rank.
SERPd – Do you think social voting still has a place on the web?
Zarko – In some circles, yes. SERPd and sites that represent a niche tend to do quite well; general voting sites on the other hand are run by spammers. I mean no one bookmarks anymore with social media being a part of our daily lives, so the only ones using bookmarking and voting systems are webmasters and internet marketers. The only way to keep it going on a decent level is by going for a targeted niche and insuring quality of the content and users by engaging them. I guess your recipe for success can be used as an example, small community with selected people onboard and the owners that stay on top of things; communicate with the whole community and know the industry inside and out.
SERPd – Where do you see the future of SEO being at the end of the year? How about in five years?
Zarko – I think we already know where we are headed, social signals, user quality experience and pure gold quality. Google is pressing on with more and more quality signals that we still can’t put our hands on, but it’s less and less about exact anchor links and keywords in the content. They want to find out what people like, and they use social to see that and help rank their websites. By the end of the year brand names will be the linking gold and network influence will be the currency in which we will trade. I guess that will only enhance in 5 years, but we’ve all seen what can happen in 5 years when it comes to SEO, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole game changes all over again.
SERPd – There hasn’t been a change the size of Panda in some time. Have you seen an impact from you or your clients because of Panda? What are your thoughts about Panda and dealing with the repercussions of a Panda hit?
Zarko – Everyone has seen the effect of Panda to some extent, some clients got hit hard, some just lost a few ranks due to a few low quality pages and others have seen a benefit and worship Panda right now, so we have all been affected by it whether we know it or not. It may have been hard for most webmasters, but I find Panda to be necessary in weeding out bad quality sites and pages. It still needs some tweaking, but they are going in the right direction. As for dealing with Panda, everyone has their thoughts. It depends on the website, I guess large websites were hit the hardest, they have a massive amount of pages and there is no way all of them can be quality pages, while small sites and personal blogs tend to do quite well even now. So trimming the size of our index and focusing on the quality you have is the first step in recovering from Panda. For some it was just updating their pages with new fresh content. We create a page in 2007 and never update it, that’s not how things go, not anymore. You have to think like Google and answer their questions, can your website be trusted, is this page good, would you trust the info here, would you leave your credit card information, if you can say yes then you are on track, but for how many pages can you really say that?
SERPd – Many SEO’s struggle with pricing their services. Do you prefer a flat fee or basing your fees on an hourly basis?
Zarko – Hourly basis and depending on the client’s needs and competition. It is impossible to have a flat fee for different levels of competition. One client can have no competition and can easily get to number one position for his keywords, while for others this can be a tough struggle from the very beginning with no end in sight, requiring more work hours and more assets. So it simply isn’t right to charge them the same, it’s a rather flexible pricing system.
SERPd – How important do you think social media is to an overall SEO strategy?
Zarko – It’s a key that opens many doors, it has been for a while, and it will only become more important with time. The web is starting to feel more and more like the real life, connections and influence are greatly responsible for our traffic and rankings, just like a regular store will have more visitors if more people know about it and more people recommend it as quality. It boils down to branding, and if you want to have your brand known there is no better way than using social media to their full extent.
SERPd – Any parting thoughts or words of wisdom you care to share with our SERPd audience?
Zarko – Back to square one people. When you started blogging you didn’t know about SEO, you only cared about quality and networking, so take the things you learned about best practices in SEO and focus on giving well researched quality content that brings your personality along. Mix that up with some social media activity which tells that you are a person that knows what he or she is talking about and you got yourself a nice cake recipe that all the neighbors will like.
PS. Sorry for some long answers, but I could write a short book on social media and Panda as well, so it’s hard to put it in a few words only.
No need to apologize Zarko! We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us here at SERPd. We think your insights will be valuable to other SEO’s and certainly to the SERPd community. We appreciate your continued support of the site and look forward to your submissions!
If you want to be featured in a SERPd user interview, contact us and lets get connected!