SEO experts would like to be called just that – SEO experts. How many of them would like themselves to be called students? That’s right! An SEO professional who considers himself an eternal student. He is the most prominent name in the Italian SEO market, providing services globally with his consultation and website iloveseo.net. He is Gianluca Fiorelli.
Gianluca Fiorelli is a strategic SEO and web marketing consultant, an amazing guy and a very active inbound marketer along with being an active Mozzer ranking at #3.
We at Blurbpoint thank Gianluca Fiorelli for sparing from his precious time for this interview, which I am sure will create a rage amongst all his and SEO fans. He was kind enough to answer the below questions:
I drink water and when I do my break espresso coffee. I am not really into drinking beer or alcohol, if not socially.
My personal experience of the brand change of Moz from SEOmoz was quite smooth.
Both as a Moz Associate and a long time member of the community, I was aware that the change was coming.
But even without those insights, it was quite clear that Moz was going to be the new brand of SEOmoz: MozCon, MozCation, MozBot, MozScape… and since a long time before it was official Mozzers (and not SEOmozzers) were referring to SEOmoz as Moz.
Also the shift from “SEO” to “Inbound” for Moz was quite smooth and not a sudden philosophy change.
So… I wasn’t surprised or shocked by it.
Q. What were your career prospects before coming into SEO, and if it was an International SEO consultant then how you directed into this industry and who was the first guide?
First of all, an SEO and an International SEO are the same person. International SEO is simply a specialization of SEO, as it is Local Search.
Said that, before being an SEO, I was working in a completely different industry and in a completely different role: I was Head of Programming of Satellite Movie Channels in Italy. To synthesize it, I was buying the TV rights of movies, docs and TV series and I was planning the scheduling of those channels.
International SEO is not something different from SEO. As I told you before, it is just a specialization of SEO.
In fact, apart few technical things (i.e.: hreflang and geotargeting), everything else is exactly the same you already do for your “national” SEO. Simply you must do it taking into account knowing how SEO is done in the countries your targeting.
For instance, in Italy there is not a real culture of guest blogging – apart from few niches – hence the guest blogging tactic is not that easy to develop there as it could be in the UK or USA.
Then, you must know how people in the targeted countries do a search. But that’s something you should be able to understand as an SEO always, not just because you specialize yourself in International SEO.
Maybe, the really big difference, is that you must learn doing SEO also for Search Engines, which are not Google (or Bing), as Baidu or Yandex.“
Spanish and Italian are my “national” environment for doing SEO for obvious reasons (I’m Italian and I live in Spain). And being an SEO in Spain and Italy obliges you specializing in International SEO, because Spanish is spoken in so many countries and markets, and Italy for the opposite reason, therefore clients needs to target another language (and countries) so to expand their businesses opportunities.
When I audit a site that does International SEO, this aspect is just one more facet I examine. In fact, a web site may be perfect on-page for International SEO, but still sucking for more general SEO issue as, for instance, information architecture or duplicated content. With this, I mean that it doesn’t have much sense to optimize a site for International SEO if the site lacks all the other and more general optimizations factors.
Said that, in the specific of International SEO, the first thing I do is talking with the client to understand what are his objectives. Is the site going to target a country or the people speaking a determined language? Has the client a physical presence in the targeted country or not? If the client already has implemented the hreflang mark-up, did he do it correctly or not? Is the site a simple translated version of the original version, or is it localized, maybe with original content just for that country? How is the link profile of the international versions of the site? Does it exist? If yes, is penalization proof?
All those are the questions I answer when auditing a site, which is already doing International SEO.
And the questions are almost the same if the client has done nothing yet, and want to open its website to an international audience.
When Google rolls out an update, this has an impact in every place Google is present. Maybe not at the same time (i.e.: Panda came to not English-speaking Europe six months later than in the USA), but it hits and hits as strong as in Google.com.
The problem is that Google “forgets” it has an impact outside of .com, hence, if not explicitly asked, it doesn’t offer percentage of impact an update may have, for instance, on Spanish, Italian or German queries. And sometimes a 1% for English queries and .com maybe 2% for Spanish queries in .es (Spain) and 1.8% for Spanish in .com.co (Colombia). So, yes, the updates Google rolls out have an impact on multilingual websites (or International SEO in general).
Ah! Google will never disclose what are its 200+ rankings factors. But many are quite know because of experience (i.e.: links).
Surveys like the one recently presented by Moz are great because they try to offer to the SEO public clues about what could be the ranking factors. Be aware, though, that they are correlation studies, therefore they are showing only things that we assume could be factors and if the top ranking sites for a very large set of queries are presenting those factors.
The result, then, should not be taken as Bible, but as the most precise list of best practices for SEO.
I talk about Inbound Marketing at least for three years. And I consider it not a substitute of SEO, but what should be Internet Marketing nowadays: SEO, Social, Email Marketing… all three fueled by Content Marketing and all for complementing each other is the only way for obtaining sustainable success online.
So, SEO is not Inbound Marketing, but part of Inbound Marketing. And SEOs are Inbound Marketers, but not all Inbound Marketers are SEOs, because a Community Manager, an Email Marketer or a Content Strategist too can be inbounders.
You can find a deeper view of my vision of Inbound Marketing in this post I wrote for State of Digital http://www.stateofdigital.com/inbound-marketing/
I think that outbound and inbound not necessarily are in competition between them. For instance, you can include paid search (i.e.: Promoted Stories in Facebook) for promoting your content to your target in your Inbound Marketing strategy.
And I could say more, maybe “extreme” for some purist: old classic offline marketing can do great things for your Inbound. Think, for instance, to Transmedia and how storytelling in different media can boost the visibility of your Brands in a very targeted way (http://moz.com/blog/transmedia-storytelling-building-worlds-for-and-with-fans).
My suggestion for SEOs working in those niches is not doing what all the others do. Add real value to your sites, think really to your targeted audience and offer it what they really want.
Are very few doing serious Inbound Marketing in those niches, if not at all, so Inbound could help them in becoming the thoughtful leaders, and becoming a thought leader is win win objective because a thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.
A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.
And thought leader brands and sites rank wonderfully well.
When it comes to link building for International SEO, my first suggestion is to know perfectly how link building is commonly done in the targeted country.
As I told you in a previous answer, in Italy – for instance – guest blogging is not so common as it is in the USA or UK, and many guest posts, in reality, are paid posts. Or we don’t have sites like HARO, maybe because Italian journalists would not use it, preferring old classic personal recommendations from contacts they have.
Another example is China. In China outreach using social media doesn’t work at all, because the Chinese expect link building outreach done somehow formally using email.
For things like those, and especially if you are starting targeting a different country/audience, it is good relying on local link builders. If you are active on Twitter it is very probable that you can find between your followers, those link builders (both freelance and agencies). Test them and monitor them first though, and learn from how they work.
Apart the time I spend in company of my kids, I love movies, especially Sci-Fi and Historic ones. There’s nothing so fascinating IMHO as that moment when the light switch off in a movie theater and the movie starts.
Then I like strategy videogames, as CIV5, Sim City or Rome Total War. Ah… and chocolate! That’s real love.