Mordy has a strong content education background pulling from his days as a teacher and fell into the SEO industry in around 2014 and has never looked back.
Mordy is also one of the organizers of the popular SEO Twitter chat #SEOchat.
His thoughts and knowledge has also been published on many top industry news websites including the Wix SEO Learning Hub and he appears on stages at marketing conferences around the world.
The Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast with Mordy Oberstein
Watch the interview
(click the 'cc' icon to view subtitles)
Listen to the podcast
(55 minutes long)
The unscripted questions Mark A Preston asked Mordy Oberstein
Who is Mordy Oberstein and what do you do in the SEO community?
Do you work for Wix or SEMrush as your bio mentions both companies?
When did you start in the SEO industry, Mordy?
How much do you think the SEO industry has changed since you started?
Do you think that people don’t talk about SERP features as much is the fact it has somewhat become the norm now, as before it was classed as advanced SEO?
When Featured Snippets first came on the SEO scene, why was there both big traffic winners but also big traffic loses when position zero was secured?
With your existing roles, you must have access to lots and lots of very huge datasets. Is there anything that you've seen in the data that gave you that WOW moment?
There seems to be a lot of bouncing around in the SEPRs at the moment. What do you think is causing it?
When an SEO is looking at all this SERP volitility, what should they do?
Are there any SEO related blogs people who work in the industry really need to read?
What really irritates Mordy about the SEO industry?
What are your thoughts on the SEO checklist mentality?
How do you think SEO communication has changed in the industry over social media platforms?
What are your thoughts on the quality level of SEO related content shared these days opposed to when you started in the industry?
What makes the Wix SEO Learning Hub different?
I see that the Wix Learning Hub talks about other platforms, why is that?
Should writers and bloggers think about keywords when they create a new post?
How did you actually change the outdated perception of Wix SEO within the wider SEO community?
As Wix had such a bad reputation within the SEO industry a few years back, what specifically was it that made you want to join Wix originally as their Liason to the SEO Community?
What new SEO features have made the biggest impact at Wix?
What are the people like to work with behind the scenes at Wix?
If you had to pick the top three things that really needs to change in the SEO industry, what would they be and why?
What are your personal thoughts on SEO case studies?
<<< Back to The Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast
The unscripted conversation between Mark A Preston and Mordy Oberstein
Mark A Preston: Hello. Welcome to the unscripted SEO interview. I'm your host, Mark A Preston, and today I'm absolutely thrilled and honoured to welcome the SEO podcast king himself, Mordy Oberstein. Sorry, Mordy. I'm not sure if I pronounce your last surname correctly.
Mordy Oberstein: No, you got it right. You got it right. Thanks for having me.
Mark A Preston: For those people who are watching and listening who don't happen to know who you are, please could you give an overview of who Mordy, is and what you do in the SEO community?
Mordy Oberstein: So let's start. I was born at a very young age, and that's kidding. I'm the head of SEO branding at Wix, which basically means I sort of don't remember how to put this. I try to make sure to the best of my ability that the messaging we put out and the content we put out around SEO, whether it be for the wider SEO community or for our own users of various kinds, because there are very different kinds of users who use Wix. Speaks to the accurate, speaks to SEO in the most accurate, precise, and well intentioned way possible. That's what I do.
Mark A Preston: And I noticed on your bio you do something with Semrush as well. Yeah. I was just wondering if you work for Wix or Semrush, because I'm a bit confused.
Mark A Preston: Right, okay.
Mordy Oberstein: Actually, somebody asked me the other day, why? Why do you want to partner up with us? Can you work for Semrush? Why? I could solve for Semrush, but I work for Wix, and whatever works for Wix is what I do first.
Mark A Preston: Great stuff. When did you start in the SEO industry? How far back? Or was it?
Mordy Oberstein: I'm not good with time. Let's think eight years, nine years. I started off working for I'll tell you where I started off. I started off working. I was a team. I was a property manager a long, long time ago. That has nothing to do with SEO. I was a teacher for a while in Baltimore City. That does have a lot to do with SEO. Actually, it's a different conversation, but more immediately. I started working for an educational software company. I was writing their teacher manuals, and it was helping to build out their lesson planning.
And I was one of the only native English speakers of the company. And they're like, hey, could you write web content for us? I can write anything, so I have a very strong content background. And they're like, okay, great. We want you to build up our organic presence. We want to get organic traffic from Google. I'm like, that's a great idea. What's that? And that's how I essentially started finding actually, I think the first thing I found, if I remember correctly, trying to understand how I'm going to actually do this, was search engine lands, periodic table of SEO, whatever they call it, I think they still have it. Right? They don't advertise it much, but it's still there if you're listening to this or watching this. And that's how I started getting into SEO. And then from there, I did a little bit of consulting after that, and I started working for a tool called rank Ranger, managing their contents. I very much come from the content side of SEO. And then one thing led to another and wix. Is that so much? I'm back at Wix. It's the usual, right?
Mark A Preston: So basically, like most of the people, you stumbled into the industry completely by accident. Yes, I was going to say, so how much do you think the industry has changed since then and now?
Mordy Oberstein: It's completely different. I know if you're listening, I have been doing SEO for 15 years. You'll say it was completely different when I started. When I started, I would say it was just before, like, the big thing around surf features. Like, I don't know what you want to call it. Surf feature again, since we love calling things again in the SEO industry. So Google, I think, released featured snippets in 2014. If I'm not correct, I'm mistaken, but it didn't really become a thing. It's like 2015, 2016, and answer boxes, direct answers, started becoming a much bigger thing around that time, and people started really paying attention to what's going on with surf features. If you fast forward now, there's still conversation around surf features.
But I remember back in the day, because I remember I was the one feeding Barry of the information or one of the people. There's Dr. Pete, there's other people doing it. You would see, oh, surf feature trends. All of a sudden, Google is not showing as many feature snippets anymore. You don't really see that show up anymore. The other day, Bernie Clark, I think, tweeted out that summer was showing those Twitter boxes. We're down. You don't really see that kind of tweet or that kind of article up on SEO Roundtable anymore the same way. I think that sort of calms me down. I'm trying to remember the timelines. I'm not good at this, but I think, you know, what it was a ccTLD update, which was, again, not good at the time. I'm going to say 2017, maybe 2018. I've been really bad for years. And around then, Google actually changed the way they make surf feature changes. It used to be like they're very much like global changes went down. There were less features on the surf.
That was across the board in all GEO's or most GEO's or you would see it by region. It's like Nordic countries would go up, but the US and the UK and Canada, they wouldn't. Or the UK and the US and Canada would change their trends around certain surf features, but the Nordic countries wouldn't. That kind of changes with the ccTLD updates. So Google kind of made a change around that time. You do still see shifts, but I would kind of say that novelty has worn off. We kind of got used to the fact that you're going to have to target surf features and you're going to have to consider getting there's an image box, have a URL show up in there, get image search traffic. That isn't the predominant conversation anymore. Maybe it is, I just don't see it.
Mark A Preston: Do you think that's because certain features has become sort of the norm now, whereas in the past it was sort of clusters, the advanced stuff, but now it's just things people do as a norm. Obviously part of the industry is changing as well.
Mordy Oberstein: Yeah, I think so. I think at this point, you know right. For example, yeah. Rake number two, but it's below a feature snippet.
Mark A Preston: Yeah.
Mordy Oberstein: Or we've gotten to the point, I think, where I remember back in the day, it was like a novel thing to say, like, make sure you understand what kind of feature snippet you have. For example, if you have a paragraph feature snippet, very often the entire answer is in the actual paragraph Google showing on the surf. Whereas you have a list, people tend to feel like, am I getting the full list? Because Google has a little thing that says, see more, see full list at some of the exact language. So I'll click through back in the day. Oh, that's pretty novel. I think now we understand that.
Mark A Preston: Yeah. I remember when featured snippets came about, and in my head, everyone was raving about it. And suddenly in my head, I was thinking, this is actually going to reduce the amount of traffic for a lot of people because they don't have any reason to click through. Because answering the question.
Mordy Oberstein: I remember I'm going to get in the years, I'm going to say 2018, or maybe 2019. It could have been 20. No, it couldn't have been 2017.
Mark A Preston: Listen, don't worry about years. I can't even remember my kids' date of birth.
Mordy Oberstein: There you go. So I have the same thing. I screw them. I screw one up all the time. I did a study showing that I took feature snippets from, you know, the years prior paragraph feature snippets. I did all of them. This was particularly about paragraph feature snippets, and it showed that the text inside of those featured snippets were getting shorter. She thinks, oh, that's good. Google is showing less. It wasn't getting shorter. Google is showing less, it is getting shorter. Because Google is showing the actual answer. That is the rest of the fluff.
Mark A Preston: Yeah.
Mordy Oberstein: So you have to be careful, I think, you know, by the way, I hate most of the CTR studies, because most of the CTR studies are, like, on these high search volume keywords, and they're not, I don't think, 15% or 20% or 25%. One is the actual CTR. When I looked at it, it was something around 5% or 6%, because I looked at a much more normalized data set. So I don't like getting the CTR studies. I don't really trust them. I know there are CTRs that show, like, x percent of feature stipulates get x percent of CTR, I think, for certain kind of feature stipends. I'm speculating here. I think it's much lower than you think it is.
Mark A Preston: Well, you touched upon data, or data, as you say, there obviously, with your existing roles, you must have access to lots and lots of very huge data sets. Is there anything that you've seen that you think, what is this? Is any sort of light bulb moment in any sort of data that you think, how on earth is this happening? Or any differentiators?
Mordy Oberstein: Trying to think, was there a moment? Wow, that seems crazy if there was a member but there are definitely moments where you look at the data over a long period of time. Ring volatility data is like this. I think people don't realize that they go on Twitter and ask Dr. Pete how complicated it is to track rank volatility. It's insanely complicated because with the way the tools work, the weather tools are all relative, right? So they're all in the green. They're all showing normal levels of volatility one day, and then they show a spike the next day. But what's normal now is not normal from five years ago. Rank is way more volatile now than it was five years ago. So if you were to look at what's considered normal now would have been insanely volatile if you looked at the weather tools back then, because it's all relative. And then there's all these reversals and tracking things and winners and losers list. By the way, I wouldn't trust the winners and losers list, which is why I tend not to include them when I do a write up.
I think I've done them twice, the one time at rank range, I did one, and I'm like, okay, this is a hot mess. I'm never doing this again. I did one that when I first started at sunrise, I think two or so weeks after I started, there was a core up, and they asked me to look at the data and like, okay, here's the data. I think we should reduce some of the data, which they did, and their data now is amazing. Around the core updates. And they said, here's the format we use for the post. And I think I just did the winners and losers because I didn't want to mess with the format two weeks into starting a new job. So it was the only time I've ever done a winners and losers list. But be careful with them, because a lot of the time what happens is this is something I've noticed over time. I think looking at data for me has been like seeing repetitive patterns over and over again. And one of the repetitive patterns is that with winners and losers lists, one of the things that makes it hard is what Google tends to do.
They do it way more often now than they used to. They'll reverse and reverse ranking patterns over and over and over again. And particularly, one of the things that they do is they'll implement an unconfirmed update a week, two weeks, three weeks before a confirmed update, they'll reverse it, and the core update will reverse that. Reverses, let's say a site was ranking number one. It goes down to number 20. That's a test. And then Google, with the core update, let's say, puts it back up to number one. So a lot of times these unconfirmed updates just end up being a reversal. So as a winner or loser list, you'll pick it up. Oh, this site won. It didn't really win because you go back three weeks, it was already ranking number one. It lost tons of rank as Google was running a test before the actual real update hit. So a lot of times the winners and losers list will pick those up as, you know, wins or losses. So just be careful with that.
Mark A Preston: Yeah, I'm noticing quite a lot of bouncing around in the search at the moment. Obviously, I work in the local space a lot, and especially in the local space at the moment, things seem to be bouncing around like crazy. You can't just say, look, that's how it is. Like I say, it's all relative to everything.
Mordy Oberstein: So I have access to super-secret Semrush data. If you ever once in a while, you're like, I'll tweet something out and it has, like, the Semrush logo, and you're like, where is that data inside of Semrush? That's my secret sauce dashboard that they built for me, which they should put into the actual tool. It's a really good tool, the way they have it set up. Anyway, So I track Rank or I track Volatility pretty frequently and pretty carefully. So one of the things that I've noticed is there's way more volatility happening. I've tweeted a lot about it. If you go through and find them, I don't know how you find them, but anyway, there's way more. I think I pulled data on it something like from 2020 to 2021, there was a 70% increase in the number of days showing high levels of volatility. Now, to qualify, when they pull more data later I'll plug it in for a state of search study that we published through SEMrush.
You can download that. It's free. In there we show that there's, yes, more days of high volatility. But the drastic level of swings, the level of volatility itself, how drastic it is, is less. So more volatility, less drastic, I speculate because you're already starting at a higher level of volatility anyway, so it’s harder to go up. It's easier to go from a five to an eight level of volatility. If you're already at eight. Where are you going? Right, but there's way more volatility happening. I was talking to our own team here at Wix, and I was actually running the whole blog post. They already want to talk about it? Oh, I want to talk about rank volatility, how the patterns have changed. And then, like, what you just wrote is exactly what we see inside of our own rankings. Whereas what you're seeing for your local rankings. And I see it from my own sites that I'm working on. Like there's just way more volatility. A lot of reversals, a lot of testing, it seems like, right? And it could be a day later when you return to normal. A week later, three days later, or three months later. But there's a lot of testing going on, and it makes that to me, at least, if you're tracking rank volatility.
They used to be like, okay, here's an algorithm update. Whether confirmed, they're unconfirmed, I can trust for the most part. This is my new ranking. Or I'll wait a couple of days. Okay. There was a reversal. There wasn't a reversal. I'm good, but now I see a reversal, fine. I'm still thinking in my head, in a couple of days, I'll probably see another reversal. So it becomes much longer if you're tracking rank, it becomes a much longer trend that you really should be looking at, as opposed to, like, there's more snapshot of time that we're used to looking at. I'll look at, like, three months now. Like, okay, here's the trajectory. Much like you do with impressions out of the search console, you're not really looking at the last week or so. You're really looking for search console defaults this way the last three months for that reason and just kind of think of, what's the trajectory? Am I going up? Am I going down? What's happening here? That's kind of how you have to look at rank now, I think.
Mark A Preston: Yeah. So as an industry, when an SEO is looking at all these volatile attacks, what are they supposed to do?
Mordy Oberstein: Well, it depends. I'll qualify that, though. It depends on the larger trends. Like, if a larger trend is going up, but you see these significant moments where, like, you've lost 20 positions. Like, I would personally ignore that. Whatever the reason, I think Google is doing a lot of machine learning, testing and recalibrating. I think the word is heading is I think we're heading towards more, for lack of a better word, like a real time algorithm. Kind of like Penguin 4.0. You see, back in the day, you had to wait for a Penguin update to come out to reverse whatever crap you're doing beforehand. And now you were good then whatever year, not going to try years again.
Google released Penguin 4.0, and now it happens in real time. I think what you're seeing is Google updating rank more in real time, as opposed to waiting for these significant moments in time, ie. Core updates or whatever kind of official update to adjust rank. By the way, from the data I looked at, it looks like the core updates are becoming less powerful over time. Right? This kind of supports what I'm saying. So I think if you're looking at long trends and you see for some reason, every couple of weeks, Google is demoting the rankings to this page, 20 positions, and then it puts right back up a couple of days later. I would ignore that.
Mark A Preston: That wouldn't be my high priority kind of thing right now. Just going to understand you as an SEO. What really irritates you about the industry? How much time do we have? Let's say the top three. Top three?
Mordy Oberstein: Oh, man. Okay. One is how we use data, I think. Speaking of, start off with talking about data. Talk more about data. I think we don't understand that data is a trend. Like, the numbers you're getting, you'll see the numbers and whatever tool you're using, they're not supposed to be exactly right. The numbers you're seeing in Search Console aren't exactly right. The numbers you're seeing in analytics are not exactly like, for example, the case I always use. If you look at Google Analytics and you look at Wix Analytics, the numbers will be different. You want to know why? Because the way that Wix filters out bot traffic and the way that Google filters out bot traffic are different algorithms.
So the numbers are going to be different. What's important is the trend. Is the trend the same? Most likely the trends will be the same. Don't look at data like, oh, I have now 25 backlinks where I have 25 this and 300 this. My domain authority is 28.7. The numbers don't matter. Where is the data pointing you? And what does that data actually mean? Meaning, how do you qualify that data? Because most data people understand, I think outside of things like rank, a lot of the data that you're looking at is you're trying to qualify behaviour like clicks. You're trying to qualify why people are doing something. And what you're trying to do is take a quantitative figure, which is the number of clicks, trying to explain why people are clicking, which is qualitative. And what you're hoping is that if I say that, okay, this page is good and things are working here because the volume of the quantity of the data is so much, so then it must be that it explains what's qualitatively happening.
But that's not a one to one. There's a schism there. You can have things like, yeah, people are clicking through, but why? Why are they clicking through? And perhaps if you think of and understand why they're clicking through, you can make it even better and get more clicks. The data just leads you to a certain point, because data are just numbers, and data can't qualify behaviour.
Mark A Preston: I think, in the industry, not all of the industry, but some of the industry, it's kind of what I call a robot mindset. And if they just put logical thinking into things, they'd see things differently on that. And it's surprising. Once they see things differently and once they understand the why, then they'll tweet things and move things forward in a different way.
Mordy Oberstein: Yeah, totally. And that's, I think, if you want to call this my second pet peeve, or one A or one B, it's the fact that we don't think conceptually about things. Sometimes we think very much like a checklist mentality which has its place in time, and it's really good. But when you think conceptually, it's the difference between someone giving you a fish and being taught how to fish that kind of thing, and there's not a lot of people who do that. Like, for example, someone who comes to mind, like Kevin Indig. Right. Somebody who thinks more conceptually about SEO. And then you can take that concept, and you can apply it in a million different ways. You're literally right. I like the things that you put out there, because they are conceptual. You can take that and now have a wider understanding that can help you form, like, directionally or strategically. Where do you want to go with things? So I think there's a lack of that. Especially lately, there's been a lack of that going on in the industry, for some reason. My personal opinion.
Mark A Preston: Yeah. And I guess the third one would be people who are just kind of jerks to each other. Yeah. Have noticed in the industry. I don't know what's going on, but a lot of the respectful conversations have gone.
Mordy Oberstein: Gone. Right. You show up on Twitter now, and I'll just tell you personally how I feel like I feel like Twitter has become, like, a burden to me at this point. It's, like, annoying. I like it. I like it because I like interacting with people. It's a way to connect with people. There's a ton of people I really love and appreciate, and you get to interact with them. And I really enjoy Twitter from that perspective, and I've learned a ton from the things people have posted on Twitter. But what I find lately is people are not really posting a lot of information, and when they are posting, it ends up getting into, like, a fight. I think that you think that let's have at it, as opposed to, this is why I think this. This is why I think this. Are both sides reasonable?
Yeah. So then just treat them as reasonable differences of opinion. And I'll look at them like, you know what? I kind of like this one better, but at least I'm able to see that dialogue. And then that, to me, sparks myself to start thinking about things a little bit differently. Just the back and forth. I don't know what I might conclude. I don't know which side to take on this one. But just that debate and conceptual stimulation, I think, is just gone for some reason.
Mark A Preston: I think it's because a lot of people just make statements instead of quantifying why they think that. And I think that's the thing. So obviously, perception is a very big thing, and once you read something, if you do not back it up with the y, you think that, then you're going to take one or two directions. Because in your head they're saying this, even if they didn't mean that a really bad thing.
Mordy Oberstein: I think it's like a vicious cycle, because I don't want to qualify anything, because if I do, then someone's going like, that's stupid, so why do that? And it just creates this ongoing cycle of information not being shared the right way.
Mark A Preston: This is one of the things I've seen over the years. Years change because at one time it used to be and it still should be, where it's just opinions. People do tests, they do different things, they try different things and they get different results and here's what they found. And I think if people stop doing that, then we'll never explore what there's no right or wrong, it's just obviously what works for the individuals.
Mordy Oberstein: Yeah, I think there's a lot of unhealthy things going on and I think there's a bunch of different causes. For example, the level of content. I mean, maybe again, I'm not seeing it, maybe it's out there, I'm just missing it. So I don't want to say unequivocally that the level of content being shared, I think, has gone down tremendously. Where is there a really good place for you to know if you show up? Other than, say, I think, SEO Roundtable? I'm going to get really good content. That's no filler, it's just great content. I'll learn something from it a Wix, by the way. I will be honest with you. When we sat down at the SEO Learning Hub, I remember having conversations with the team and with George Wynn when he joined, saying the entire unique selling point of this whole thing is that we don't need this for acquisition.
There's the Wix blog and they do things for acquisition. So we don't need to do things for acquisition. I'll give you a little inside scoop. Looking at a piece of content that somebody edited from the one of the blog editors was editing. George Nguyen was our head of SEO editorial, used to work on search engines to know who he is. He's a super awesome guy. Before he joined someone from the blog, he was looking at an edit and they were editing it from the lens of this is a blog post for the blog, but it's not. And I said, stop, we can't do this because that person is editing it with that acquisition mindset, which makes sense because that's what they do and that's what they're supposed to be doing. And I'm not saying the Wix blog content isn't good. It's amazing for a blog. I have all the blogs that are out there. I know we've done it. I know their team, they're an amazing team.
There's a lot of really good information there. But at the end of the day, it's going to have your CTAs because it is a funnel to get people into Wix and that's what it should be. But our Hub is like, we don't need to do that. We have a blog. I'm not into ranking for keywords. I'm not trying to bring in traffic. I'm also of the opinion, and I'm using the whole Hub, by the way, as a test to do this. And so far it's working out beautifully, that you don't need to like, I need a rank for this keyword. If you write about a topic, let's say it's internal linking, and you don't want to worry about targeting the keyword, but you just worry about creating really good content, you'll probably end up ranking forward anyway, assuming the other things on your site are set up in order.
Mark A Preston: Do you know what I explained this as? I asked a question like, why do you think genuine bloggers drive a shit ton of organic traffic? They don't sit there thinking, I need to add this keyword, I need to add that. They just write about the topic.
Mordy Oberstein: Do you know who's a great job of this? Animalz. I don't know if you've ever seen their blog.
Mark A Preston: Yeah.
Mordy Oberstein: I definitely checked that. I should check it out more often. I'm going to Google it, bring it up now. It's animalz. Co animalz, the z at the end. They have a great blog. There was a recent post from Ryan Laws, I think his name was Ryan Laws about what he was called. The winner doesn't take all the information gained in the new future of SEO. It's a great post about like, we think big domains grab everything, and he's like, no, they really don't. It's a beautiful post. It's really well written content. It kind of went viral on Twitter. That's the kind of thing you should be creating.
Mark A Preston: Brilliant. So why was the Wix SEO Learning Hub created initially?
Mordy Oberstein: It was created to help people learn about SEO. Isn't that crazy? Exactly. I will tell you again, inside scoop. So we had somebody write a post about three or one redirect, and it was a really good post, but what they did was because again, I think and this just shows you how we're trained as writers and it's a bad thing. They put in the post all sorts of plugs for Wix, like how to do it inside of Wix here and inside of Wix over there, and inside of Wix we're like, no, this is a post about three to one redirects. It's not a tool post. We have a separate section on the hub about SEO tools, meaning how to use Wix and the tools inside of Wix for doing SEO. That's for that. And we'll have a post at about three to one, and that's when you do that.
So we actually killed it, not the post where we killed all that content about the Wix stuff. On the way in, we put like, if you're using Wix, here's a short little section, how do you do it? And we actually didn't go out yet. We had one of the contributors, right, for the hub who happens to work for the SEO tools. And they did that typical thing where they throw in the I'm like, nope. We're not doing that. This is about whatever topic it is. Don't throw your tool in. Make it usable for anybody, whether they use your tool, whether they don't use your tool. And they did that again, because they're a great writer, they're a great person. That's just a mindset that we have about doing things. And what I said to them was like, look, we're not doing it for our own tool. We're definitely not doing it for your tool.
Mark A Preston: Lot of people think the Wix SEO Learning Hub is just about how to do SEO on wix. No, not at all.
Mordy Oberstein: It's about SEO for everybody, by the way, because we have many different kinds of users. So we have content. Like, I call it foundational content. I know how to write a title tag kind of thing. What is a canonical tag? Why are they important? I just did analysis recently of the May 2022 core update, which is like a deep dive into what's on the hub. So there's content for everybody. We felt that it was important that it's going to be a resource for learning SEO. Then it should have all kinds of content for all kinds of SEO.
Mark A Preston: Yeah. So getting on to wix SEO specifically, as you know, I'm probably the first person in the SEO industry that publicly announced that I moved my site from Word Press to Wix back in 2017. I wrote a case today, and the Rand Fishkin was kind enough to share it, and I got absolutely annihilated. Let's just say annihilation is polite back then.
Mordy Oberstein: Obviously, I know things have changed in the industry. Perception has changed because when I mentioned the word Wix now and SEO in the same context, I don't get abused.
Mark A Preston: Yeah. First up, that really sucks if people did that to you. Yeah. But obviously you've been a key part in change, changing the mindset. I have to say that personally from somebody that tried but no one ever listened, basically, I'm not being...
Mordy Oberstein: I give you a lot of credit. We all by the way, internally, we all give you a lot of credit for being out there like that. We all appreciate that very much.
Mark A Preston: What do you think it is about what you've done that changes the mindset set?
Mordy Oberstein: The way I personally think of it, whether this is accurate or not, it was kind of like the perfect storm. In a good way. The product changed tremendously. I would say circa 2019, the product really shifted in a big way. Even from 2019 to now. When you look back at it, it's shifted again in a big way, which is amazing. And it's going to keep going because amazing things are coming along. Blah, blah, blah. I'm not going to plug the platform like that. So that was one part of it. When I joined, I knew not to yell email before I came to Wix. I knew him before he was at Wix. He was the one who actually brought me to Wix. And I knew if it was there, then this was good because it is amazing. Don't let him know that I said that, because I like to give him crap, but he is amazing. So part of it was like there was an actual story to tell in a legitimate way. Like, this was not what you think it is. And what I fundamentally did was it wasn't that complicated. Right? Let's be honest.
Wix is a great marketing engine. They are very good at marketing. But sometimes when you're good at marketing I'll say it's myself personally learning from experience. When you're good at marketing I'm not saying I'm good at marketing. I'm okay at marketing. You make the mistake of trying to market too much sometimes or market to the wrong place. And you can't really market to SEOs like, you were an SEO, you're a marketer. Like I firmly believe SEOs are marketers. I know it's a whole debate out there. Blah, blah, blah. You can't market to marketers, they see right through you. It's like a guy brings his car into the mechanic and says, I need you to fix this. The mechanic? They're like, yeah, I need to fix this. You need to fix that for the person they're speaking to without them knowing it's actually the mechanic. And like, yeah, this is BS.
Mark A Preston: I'm actually a qualified mechanic.
Mordy Oberstein: Well, there you go.
Mark A Preston: And I'm going to the garage and it's like, yes, let's just see what they're going to say.
Mordy Oberstein: Right, exactly. So when you try to market to SEO, and I think some of the SEO tools also like where they market themselves, sometimes they fall into the same trap, but that's a little bit different for different reasons. SEO sees right through it. All I did was say, like, look, I'm going to bring you the information. You make your own decisions. By the way, the marketing lesson behind that is, you know, you have a landing page and it's got like 4 million CTAs, and it's just telling you bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye.
And you're wondering, why is nobody clicking anything? It's because people like to have autonomy. And you're not giving them that choice. You're trying to coerce them into making a sale, into executing the sale. Rather, you have to give people the autonomy to make a choice. Meaning you need to feel confident in your own product enough or service enough to say, I trust the user, that if I give them the information, they'll make the right choice. Which is all I really did. And I asked for feedback. Because no platform is perfect. Any platform that tells you that they're perfect. Which, by the way, you see in the SEO tools, we're the best. Like, no one's the best. You're really good at x. You're really not that great at Y. Just kind of on that. There are always things to improve, and I say this legitimately.
If you see something you don't like inside of Wix, come tell me. If it's something even nothing related to SEO, I was trying to fix it. There was someone who had a whole problem with the way we're doing our logins, blah, blah blah. So I brought it to whatever team that it was. Took a little while to find out who was the one that was responsible for it, and there was a whole discussion about how we fix this. And I think that's really important. I don't know why it happens more in the SEO world. Whatever tool, like, say, let us know what you like, don't like, and take that feedback. And I think that's a really important thing to do. You know, where you see who did a really good job with that content game. I don't know if you've seen, like, the way they talk.
Mark A Preston: Yeah.
Mordy Oberstein: Really good. Just good content. They're not over hyping the tool. They kind of just tell you what's in there, and they kind of make your own decision. The tool is awesome. And it is awesome.
Mark A Preston: So, I did want to ask you, when Wix had such a bad reputation in the industry, what specifically was it that you thought? Yes, I want to put my name to this and make a difference and make a change.
Mordy Oberstein: No one ever asked me that. That's a great question. Well, one is the people. The people are just amazing. I know you know them. They're really nice. So it was a very welcoming team. I heard the interview process feeling, I would like to work with these people. There's people who are doing really, really good things. And I saw the product, so I saw what was in there. And I think part of the problem people have is they make a decision based on that information. I remember John Mueller talking about his reputation. These reputation linger on. And so I saw there was a story here to tell. And I happen to like brand marketing because, by the way, I think it's a tremendous overlap. It's another conversation we can have between brand marketing and SEO.
Mark A Preston: One under my son.
Mordy Oberstein: A ton. And people don't appreciate it when you say they're like, well, that sounds crazy, but it's not. But I like psychology. I like there's actually philosophy behind it, because you're talking about how to create identity or how to change identity. And once you talk about identity and the philosophical concepts, I really geek out about that kind of stuff. So it was SEO. It was brand marketing, which I really enjoy also. And there was a really cool story to tell, so that's kind of why I decided to do it. And it was a challenge. I'm like, all right, let's see if I can do this.
Mark A Preston: Well. I remember when you started, obviously, I would probably celebrate it from the rooftops, but when you looked online related to wix and SEO, it was pretty much negativity. And I think just you are just saying, look, this is what it's like now, doing a million and one podcasts and interviews and everything, and writing many blogs everywhere. I think that's slowly disappearing when people search for things. Now, thanks to all the amazing people all they've have done just given up to date.
Mordy Oberstein: That’s really it. And the product team was releasing things. Again, it was like all these things happening at one time. The product team was releasing things and released both log reports. So you have to do literally nothing to get server log data and have it in a chart. You just have to login and click on a button. So there were things coming out constantly. They were just talking about it. They were asking for feedback. We were having conversations. If you have a question, if you have a complaint, I'm happy to talk about it and have a conversation. I was talking to an SEO, a big name SEO, and we're talking about her website being moved to Wix and blah, blah, blah. And she said that is one of the reasons why I want to move this site to Wix.
This site that I have is because not just the product, but the way the whole team speaks about and communicates about the SEO regarding the product and SEO in general, just putting out information, being helpful, being supportive, I think it's something that is refreshing to see which goes back to our complaint about SEO in general. This is kind of refreshing to be able to put out, like, content around SEO. This is really helpful. No slant. I really enjoy that as a person.
Mark A Preston: I think one of the things that sticks out is obviously a few people that work at Wakes are active online, and not one person has ever said, I don’t want you to tell me what you think is wrong with it. Everyone yourself and everyone wanted these feedback so they can constantly improve the product.
Mordy Oberstein: There's always there's always something. I remember I did an article for Search Engine Journal about structured data and Wix, and I think it's one of the areas where we've gone from, you know, zero to ten. Amazing what's gone on in there, especially you're more recently being able to edit the out of the box markup on single pages, the single vertical pages, which I'm sure I saw you were very happy about. But there's still apps like certain custom dynamic pages. It's hard to implement structured data on those kinds of pages.
There's something you have to work around. So why wouldn't I be upfront about it? By the way, I think because I was upfront about it. Search Engine Journal came back to me and said, “Hey, we don't normally ask brand people to write about their own brand, but we love what you did in the structured data posts.” And how it wasn't a silly kind of thing; it was just information. Would you mind running a post about some things? You know, tips to use, tips around, using Wix for SEO.
Mark A Preston: From an outside perspective, you do seem to know pretty much everyone in the industry. Does that sort of help?
Mordy Oberstein: It doesn't hurt.
Mark A Preston: Moving the conversation away from the general SEO population, what would you say is the one ultimate thing that really needs to change in the industry?
Mordy Oberstein: I don't know if there's one thing.
Mark A Preston: I know that we could list about 1000. But if you were to sum things up, basically if this would change, it would create a huge impact for many people in the industry.
Mordy Oberstein: I think it would be to not put myself on the line here a little bit. Don't just look at what people are saying. Like, yeah, that sounds great. That's like, “Oh, wow, they put 20-page blog posts,” but they must be really smart. Like, think into it. Like, does it actually make sense? Does it not make sense? Does it make sense at a certain time context, but not in a certain kind, which, by the way, is most likely the case. Like, this makes sense in one context sense to an extent. I'll put myself out there. I'm very much all about thinking about the way Google algorithmically behaves from a very wide lens angle. But that means that I'm giving up. If you take my advice, you're probably giving up on things like adding the word “best” to your title tag, which I do for one of my podcasts. But I stopped. I couldn't tolerate it anymore. But I still love to copy on the page or whatever. But you're kind of giving up on that kind of mindset, which could bring you immediate results that are really, really important. Right? So contextualize what I'm saying. Put into a context, that's a long-term kind of strategy. Short term, you may not want to take my advice.
Mark A Preston: I’m going to say, you mentioned your podcast there. I think I've lost track because you do so many things. But I'm going to say, where can people find your podcast? And why do you do podcasts? What's the reason behind it? You personally?
Mordy Oberstein: First thing, I've never had you on the podcast yet, did I?
Mark A Preston: No, not yet.
Mordy Oberstein: Dude, you got to come on the podcast. What's your availability? Same time now. August, 03. Let me know if you're available.
Mark A Preston: Okay, I'll check the diary.
Mordy Oberstein: Okay. Second thing is, I don't know. I got a big mouth. I like to talk. I'll tell you the truth. I used to be a teacher. So part of teaching is, let's say to quote Yogi Bear, who's a baseball player from the US. You know, half of the game is half mental, half physical. The other 90% is what is it? I can't get the quote wrong. 90% of the game is mental, the other half is physical. But when you're presenting information to people so whatever split 60-40, 70-30 is content, and whatever the other half is, presentation is entertaining people, keeping people engaged. You can be a great teacher, you know, tons of information, but if you can't keep those kids engaged, you are dead. So I've always liked that balance of presenting. I like to give over information because that's why I went to the teaching. And I also appreciate the part of it that is keeping people engaged. I think that podcasting is like the natural format where I feel best able to do that.
Mark A Preston: Yeah, I must admit, when you actually said yes, sure, I'll come and jump on your interview series. Then I sat back and thought, oh, shit, I'm interviewing the interview king here.
Mordy Oberstein: I don't know about the interview, King, but first off, I was flattered that you asked me. And two is, I don't know, I kind of feel like these kinds of things shouldn't. I think maybe that's why I like podcasting, because it shouldn't be intimidating. You're going in front of an audience of 2000 people at a conference, like, oh, man, all these people. But when you go on a podcast, we're talking to, whatever, 100 people, 200 people, 2000 people, 2 million people. I don't know. Right now, I'm just talking to you.
Mark A Preston: Yeah.
Mordy Oberstein: I like that.
Mark A Preston: I think, obviously, this series, you're my first guest, and it's called The Unscripted SEO Interview for a reason, because I didn't want to direct the conversation, because depending on what was said, depends on the floor we go down. And I think it's so important for the industry to hear these things. And I know you talked about what needs to be changed. And there's a lot of case studies online, published. Not as many as there used to be, but there's still a few case studies. And what I found in every case study, it locks. What's the word? The relationship at set. So for me, I recently read a case study, and I thought, well, this will only work if you are a recognized brand. Everyone knows. Why don't you tell that to people? Because what's going to happen? They're going to go online, they're going to try this stuff and where's the hell of a lot of time and energy, and money because nobody knows them yet. And I think that he just warns me.
Mordy Oberstein: You're getting me here. Because one of the things I don't like about SEO studies, when you are saying grad school or you're doing your thesis, you're in doctorate school, you're going through your PhD. What is your study sort has it abstract and then the limitations. Why? Because everyone's talking about their false right away? No, because unless you contextualize the information, it's pretty much worthless. Right? I always try to start off with, like, “Here's what I did.” Here's what I didn't do. I only looked at these kinds of keywords. I only looked at X number of keywords. I only did this. I don't know this, right? If I'm doing a case study on analyzing the algorithm I don't know, Google's algorithm. I look at tons of cases. This is just what I happened to look at. It's what I saw. Take it for what you want. And when someone does that, it makes me trust them.
And B, I appreciate it because I'm able to contextualize what's in there. You can't contextualize. I'll tell you. Last year, they had me judge the Search Engine Land Awards. I don't know. I was talking to Caroline Lynn, who was searching the land. I don't know if I'm doing a bad job here, because I'm giving everybody, like, threes on everything. And she's like, why? because there's no context. I was like, “Yeah, we did this.” Here's the result. Yeah, okay. What was your thinking behind it? Why did you do that? How did you do that? What was the nuance along the way? Because at the end of the day, if you want people submitting to an award, if you're getting a judge like me, because maybe I'm an outlier, yeah, I did this. There's the result. Like, okay, everybody does that. That wasn't novel. To me, what was novel was the diagnosis of the problem. Here's how we figured out there was this problem, and then we did this solution. Yeah, we figured out what we wrote some content. The solution not usually that complicated. Or, yeah, we saw there was a technical issue and we fixed it.
Mark A Preston: Yeah. I think that can be said the same for some, not all, but some SEO talks. It's basically a famous brand. Everyone knows we did these tweaks waited a few months, and look at this spike that's going on.
Mordy Oberstein: Yeah, pretty much.
Mark A Preston: Basically that certainly oh, my God, I can't believe the town's running away. I know we could spend hours and hours talking about this. But just to end, if, say, you are working on a brand nobody's heard of, what are the three things you should be mindful of as an SEO?
Mordy Oberstein: One is, where do I start with? Because there's so many ways you can phrase this or so many different shades of this. Start specific. Right. And this could be like when you're doing keyword researching, you see, like, oh, zero search volume. I'm not doing that. No, start with that. Because it's really when searching is kind of like a courtship. I'm not going to sleep with you on the first date. Right. I'm not going to marry you on the first date. Google's not going to rank you number one. If yeah, I put up one page about, you know, targeting the keyword shoes. If you want to rank for shoes, it's going to take you a long time.
That's really all big domains, Google’s, but not biased. Google has an understanding of that domain. It's been around for a long time. It's able to contextualize that domain. It's able to trust that domain. It will rank that domain must be most of the time it happens, going to be a big domain. What you need to do is start off giving Google an understanding of who you are and what you are and what you do. And that could mean starting off with some of the longer tail fingers. Don't have a ton of search volume, but it has a tremendous amount of SEO benefit because you're giving Google an understanding of, this is what I do. And by the way, be segmented. If your shoes don't go for shoes, like, what is it unique about you and your business that lets you compete with a Nike? Forget ranking, forget Google. You're selling shoes online, so obviously you think you can compete with Nike. Forget about the rankings as a company, as a brand. So what is it that's unique about you that lets you think you can do that? Because clearly you're not Nike. So go for that, start with that, and expand.
And again, that's where brand marketing and SEO overlap. You wouldn't start going for shoes as your brand and to your brand marketing, you would start with the niche, how do I speak to my very, very core target audience? And then you would branch out from there. So, again, the same thing. And that plays itself on how you do keyword research. It plays itself on how you talk about content and what kind of content you're targeting. And you'll find it's kind of what the Animalz blog post I was telling you about. And I did a study on this a long time ago. Also a very similar kind of thing. The SERP starts opening up for you when you do that.
Mark A Preston: Brilliant. So more to the person, is there anything the SEO community can do to help you?
Mordy Oberstein: No, I'm good.
Mark A Preston: Brilliant. That was it. And just to finalize things, where can people find you, and what sort of conversations would you like to have with them?
Mordy Oberstein: Let's see. I'm mainly on Twitter @MordyOberstein, overseeing as my handle. I kind of Linked in more of these days than it used to be. I find, like, LinkedIn is kind of more vibrant than it used to be. Conversations we could talk about anything from general sales chicken, which I love general sales chicken, to anything like SEO, baseball, SEO, again, content marketing, brand marketing, CMS I'm pretty much down for anything.
Mark A Preston: Brilliant. So it doesn't just have to be about Wix.
Mordy Oberstein: No, not at all.
Mark A Preston: Fantastic. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today. And I'm going to say there's so much been shared I will have to recap. And like I said, it will get shared on my website, and we'll share it around. But thank you so much. It's been an honor and a pleasure to have you on the show. And no matter I always say, no matter how long you've been in the industry, there's always something new to learn, and today has proved that.
Mordy Oberstein: Well, thank you for having me and being a wonderfully, gracious host.
Mark A Preston: Thank you, Mordy. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Mordy Oberstein: You too.
Mark A Preston: Thanks. Bye.