Rank Ranger Blog

In Search [Episode 39]: What Goes into a Good SEO Webinar?

Don't forget, you can keep up with the In Search SEO Podcast by subscribing on iTunes or by following the podcast on SoundCloud

The In Search SEO Podcast Community Question of the Week!

SEO Community Question #39

SEO webinars are more popular than ever, so what gets you to tune in? 

Summary of Episode 39: The In Search SEO Podcast 

In Search SEO Banner 39

This week we have master webinar creator, Anton Shulke, the head of Video Content at SEMRush, who comes on to discuss SEO webinar creation: 

  • Which guests make the best guests & how to handle difficult guests
  • Which webinar and video formats are the most engaging
  • What technical considerations are the most important when creating a webinar

Plus, we get into some tips for building SEO knowledge and insights!

How to Get Started Building Some Serious SEO Knowledge When Time Is Limited [00:04:30 -  00:28:46]

We do this podcast because it’s fun, but also to help people know what’s going on in SEO. Well, a listener of ours, Dave Nix, mentioned on Twitter that he’s new to the industry and it’s hard to get a grasp on everything because it’s not like you can spend all day learning about SEO. Well, you could, but you have to do things like work.

So we wanted to take a break from all the advanced things we speak about to offer Dave and people like Dave some tips on how to build SEO knowledge if you’re trying to get started. By the way, if you’re reading this, please tell us how we can help you and your efforts to gain more SEO insights. That’s what this is all about. Give Mordy a shoutout on Twitter and he will respond and do everything he can to talk about whatever topics or tips would help you!

So we broke down some strategies to build that SEO knowledge without driving yourself crazy and then we’ll share some topics we think you should focus on outside of the traditional recommendations.

1: Read the SEO News

Everyone is going to tell you this. What everyone won’t say is that a lot of what’s out there is a bit fluffy. Our specific recommendation to you is to keep up with Barry Schwartz’s SERoundtable.com. Look, there are some great sites out there, but if you want to get a sense of where things are headed and what’s changing you want SERoundtable. It really helps you understand how things are evolving and for us that’s really important. It’s one thing to know about this big Google announcement or tips on X, Y, and Z in SEO, but what really helps to build that foundational knowledge is having a sense of things and what’s going on. That’s where SERoundtable stands out and it’s not a huge investment of time each day.

2: Interact with the Community

One of the easiest and best ways to learn is to interact with the SEO community. The best way to do that is to go on Twitter, follow a bunch of people, watch and observe and then start to interact… because when you interact you have to back up what you’re saying or make sure it’s right first. When that happens, you really delve into a topic in a way you would not have otherwise and you get that deep learning experience.

Interacting is scary, especially as someone new to the industry, but it’s a must and most people in the SEO industry won’t bite. And even if someone tells you on Twitter, "Well, you don’t know anything about anything,” a) that person’s a jerk and who cares and b) nothing is forever. As you grow in your knowledge your online reputation will become that much stronger.

Now, here’s a list of people who you should follow both because they know a ton and because they’re super nice and helpful. We know we’re leaving a ton of people out and we’re sorry. This is just an abridged list.

  1. Barry Schwartz (Everything after Barry is in no particular order)
  2. Andrew Optimisey
  3. Carolyn Lyden
  4. Cindy Krum
  5. Dr. Pete Meyers
  6. Aleyda Solis
  7. Niki Mosier
  8. Alexis Sanders
  9. Alli Berry
  10. Claire Carlile
  11. Greg Gifford
  12. Eli Schwartz
  13. Mark Traphagen
  14. Eric Enge
  15. Izzi Smith
  16. Valentin Pletzer
  17. Sergey Alakov
  18. Mike Blumenthal
  19. Brodie Clark
  20. Joe Hall
  21. Debra Mastaler
  22. Joy Hawkins
  23. Gianluca Fiorelli
  24. Rand Fishkin
  25. Danny Sullivan and his Search Liaison account
  26. Liraz Postan
  27. Igal Stolpner
  28. Jon Henshaw
  29. Dawn Anderson
  30. Craig Campbell
  31. Marie Haynes
  32. Glenn Gabe
  33. Bill Slawski
  34. Mike King aka iPullRank
  35. John Mueller

There are definitely others… and you might say, "There are so many top-level experts not on this list!” but keep in mind this is not just a list of who to follow but also who to interact with!

3: Run some queries!

One of the best ways you can learn is just by playing around with the SERP. Run a few queries each week, look at the results and see what you can deduct about user intent. What does Google show and why does Google show it? Look at the SERP features that are there today that weren't there the last time you checked. How does the SERP look on mobile vs. desktop? What’s part of a feature that you may not have played with before? Etc.

This research will a) give you hands-on experience with the SERP and b) help you understand what’s actually happening on the SERP, which is invaluable.

4: Find your own space!

SEO is huge… so many different things, topics, and areas and whatnot. Not all of us are equally suited for each aspect. You may be a super technical person, you may be a content person, you’re super creative, you might like experimenting, you might like analyzing trends, you might like educating, etc. Find what you like, find what skills and SEO areas suit you best, and hone in on that. Obviously, not to the total exclusion of other facets of SEO, but find your home, find your niche. It’s so important to feeling competent!

Let’s move on to some topics we think you should focus on. For Mordy and Sapir these are the big three:

Machine learning (qualitative analysis) 
SERP features

If you want to get a deeper look into SEO, if you’d rather understand not just how to do SEO but what’s actually going on in SEO, then focus on these three topics.

Obviously, it’s a challenge as these are not super easy areas... so start slow. Read a bit here and a bit there and in a year you can look back and see how deeply you now understand Google's trajectory.

Entities are super important. How Google understands them is, in Mordy’s opinion, the basis of everything. It’s what he thinks is behind a lot of the recent algorithmic behavior and how Google treats sites.

Machine learning is really an extension of entities but also touches on how well Google understands a query, user intent, and so forth (which is super important for obvious reasons).

Lastly, SERP features, mega important. If you keep up with the tests and changes Google makes to its SERP features you can glean so much! Where Google wants to go, what it can do with machine learning and entity understanding, how accessible it’s making site traffic, which queries are easier than others to win and gain traffic from, etc. Tracking SERP features tells you all of this!

And there you have it! That should be enough to get started. Again, reach out to Mordy and let him know if you have questions and how he can help!

A Behind the Scenes Look at Creating an SEO Webinar: A Conversation with Anton Shulke [00:29:15 - 00:57:41]

[This is a general summary of the interview and not a word for word transcript. You can listen to the podcast for the full interview.]

Mordy: Welcome to another In Search SEO Podcast interview. I am here on the fly in person with one of my favorite digital marketing personalities, Anton Shulke of SEMRush!

How are you?

Anton: I’m fine, thanks. I love Tel Aviv.

M: It is a great place. So we’re here to talk about webinars as they are the in-thing in the SEO community. Straight off the bat, what’s the difference between creating a webinar that’s interesting, focused, and shareable (on social media) and a webinar that no one follows?

A: If you can answer the question of why you’re doing this webinar (and not just because it’s your job) then it will be great. If you can’t, then it will be a disaster. If you’re doing it just for exposure then it probably won’t work. It’s like emails. 15 years ago you could send out emails to people and get results, but now people don’t open their emails. It’s the same with webinars.

M: I’m going to call out Google as every time I hear they’re doing a webinar I ignore it. There’s no personality to them. What can you do to make your webinar stand out? How can you make it clear, discernible, and attractive to an audience that’s inundated with webinar content?

A: It is very difficult. Again, the main thing to ask is why are you doing this webinar? Sometimes you’re not doing this webinar for your audience but for your experts. If you get brilliant minds together and instead of talking about your audience you talk amongst yourselves then SEOs will be very happy. Your audience will love it.

M: I speak to people who love all of the guests on our show as we have had some big-time guests on the podcast, but for me personally I like having lesser-known SEOs (to put in a better way, those deserving of more publicity) as guests because 1) you can have a much deeper and richer conversation with them at times and 2) there’s a much richer network for these people. Meaning, when I have a smaller name there’s a greater support network.

Can it be overrated to cater to the big names in the SEO industry?

A: Some big names will support you and others they’re so big that you will be so proud to work with them. We try to work with both more and lesser-known SEOs. We want to work with people who want to work with us.

M: Right, we may get hung up on the name, but the name doesn’t always make for great conversation. In my opinion, what makes for great conversations are two relatively humble people (you’re much more humble than I am), who you can connect to. When you connect with somebody, be empathetic, sympathetic, and understand where they’re coming from, that creates for real conversation and that’s sometimes better served with a "lesser-known” person than a more well-known person. Is that true?

A: Absolutely, but remember that you as a host should strike the pain point of your interviewee. If you ask me a question that I don’t know the answer or doesn’t interest me then you will get a stupid, flat, non-interesting answer.

M: One of the reasons some people are tense or scared to do webinars is because of the technical considerations. What equipment do you recommend people to use in terms of cameras, microphones, applications, etc.?

A: Quality is very important. If picture and audio aren’t clear people won’t try and make the effort to watch it. But nowadays it’s so easy to fix that issue which is also why webinars are so popular now because anyone can make them. It’s so cheap and easy to make. That’s not even really the question people should be asking.

One thing that’s important is the webinar format. There’s the classical, one host one guest, but they make for a boring webinar. We do use it. For example, we just did a PPC course webinar for people who didn’t even know what PPC stands for. So we decided to just have one person because if you had five people that will just confuse people. Another reason we’ll do classical is if it’s very technical information that no one is arguing on.

For other types of webinars, we introduced a hybrid format that’s between the boring classical and a round table. It’s a short presentation where afterward four people, including the host, go into a panel discussion. And a lot of experts didn’t want to do it because it was unusual, they were scared. And we were doing all of this live. What we’re doing now can be cut and edited. Our podcasts are done with video and while we cut them after the recording they can be watched live.

M: That’s amazing. What problems come across when you do it live?

A: There can be an issue with the audio where you can’t hear someone.

M: Yeah, I always tell my guests not to use their laptop’s built-in microphone.

A: Right, another issue is bad internet connections. A couple of weeks ago, Hangouts just didn’t open.

M: How can you avoid that?

A: You have to test a couple of weeks before. If they have a bad microphone then you can kindly ask them if they can invest in a $75 microphone.

M: What do you do if it’s a big name in SEO who for someone quite technically adept doesn’t understand to buy a new microphone?

A: When I started I once had a big name in SEO and he told me right before the interview that he can’t do video because his connection is not good and I wanted to scream at him why did he agree to the interview.

Nowadays, I don’t care who they are. Well-known or lesser-known, If you can’t fit our interview-style then it’s off.

M: You’re my idol, Anton.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on a webinar, the most unavoidable? Or to rephrase so I won’t put you on the spot, how do you overcome those mistakes where there’s no way around them?

A: Psychologically, one webinar doesn’t change your life. Good or bad. If there’s a technical issue that goes wrong then I’ll live with that.

M: Right, and sometimes a good webinar can be bad or a bad can be good as you’ll never know until it goes online.

A: Exactly. Once we had Google on a webinar and someone from Google said something that was never put on record before. The next morning, I woke up and found 30,000 views on that webinar.

M: I’m very curious about how you deal with this. A lot of times what Google says may not be exactly where things are. When you have an instance when you know what Google says isn’t the reality how do you handle that?

A: Usually, I’m not part of the webinar. I just arrange them. The idea is to put the right people in the right place because they are much smarter than I am. Let them play and you will get fantastic results.

M: What was the worse thing that happened when doing that because can sometimes backfire, no?

A: Yes, sometimes. After that Google webinar, we wanted Google to be on another webinar with Rand Fishkin and Google said no, we don’t want to do an interview with Rand. But I already called Rand and I was put in a very difficult position so I had to cancel the webinar. It was very upsetting. Google can sometimes be difficult to handle.

M: Are you afraid of Google? 

A: No, I’m not. Why should I be? It’s just that Google doesn’t like the SEO tools as you are probably aware of.

M: Absolutely, which is why I don’t understand it. To be honest with you, if you know your rank, that’s a good thing, and that way you can make better decisions. So who is it hurting?

A: Right. I don’t have a problem with SEO tools as they aren’t lying to a user, they’re not misleading, they’re just technical. Google for some reason doesn’t like SEO tools because they think they’re so clever that we’ll figure everything out. You, the user, should just write good content.

M: If you’re a newbie to webinars, what’s the single most important advice you can give?

A: If you don’t have a solid email list, just don’t do it. For webinar registration, only email works. Promoting on social is great, but very few sign up. We tweet our webinars for only one reason: we tag our speakers and we want to please them. We want to show them that we do care.

M: 100%. There was one podcast we did which got constant retweets, but it’s one of our least-watched episodes because, as what happens with a lot of tweets, people share without reading/listening.

A: Right, and even for yourself. Have you ever retweeted something that you haven’t read?

Optimize It or Disavow It

M: If you had a choice between creating a short, quick, loveable video with actionable tips as a YouTube video or as a webinar, what would you choose?

A: I would do webinars. I use webinars for a reason that people don't think about. I use webinars as an influencer marketing tool. It’s one of the best influencer marketing tools. I bring people to webinars. They love to talk and be heard. You give people the right opportunity and they are your friends forever.

M: It’s true. One of the reasons this podcast is great is because we have guests like you on. You can build new relationships, new connections, and new avenues to integrate into the community.

Anton, thank you so much for being on the show. For an on the spot interview with no preparation that was one of my favorites.

A: If I tried to prepare I’m sure it won’t go so well.

M: That might be true for me as well, so next time we speak I won’t prepare either.

A: Okay, nice. Thanks.

SEO News [01:03:00 - 01:07:13 - 01:12:04]


New Image Preview Box: Google has launched a new format for the image search preview box! And guess who was the first to spot this testing on the SERP a few months ago, our very own Mordy!

Mobile Search is Super Popular: New numbers on the popularity of mobile for Google search. Google now says that 65% of searches are on mobile!

Local Pack Carousel Tests: Google keeps testing a carousel format for the Local Pack. One recently showed with a carousel of local listings that had an ad stuck atop the carousel!

Fun SEO Send-off Question


What TV show character is Google? 

Sapir had no question about it and chose Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He’s legendary and iconic. He’s the best and Google is the best.

Mordy went in a bit of a different direction saying since Bing is Seinfeld's Kramer then Google must be Costanza!

Tune in next Tuesday for a new episode of The In Search SEO Podcast.

About The Author
In Search is a weekly SEO podcast featuring some of the biggest names in the search marketing industry.

Tune in to hear pure SEO insights with a ton of personality!

New episodes are released each Tuesday!

Start your free trial

Get the ultimate SEO tools with Rank Ranger
Start Free Trial
No Credit Card Required