SERPWizz Interviews

Fili Wiese

Fili is a technical SEO consultant, ex-Google engineer, frequent conference speaker and was a senior technical lead in the Google Search Quality team. At SearchBrothers he offers SEO consulting services with SEO audits, SEO training and successfully recovers websites from Google penalties.

Check out Fili’s: Website, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter

What are some of the biggest challenges/obstacles you faced when starting out with SEO, and why?

At times such as now with the demand for SEO consulting services skyrocketing it is challenging to commit to all client inquiries. Occasionally there are just too many and since we are determined to provide superb services, some projects must be postponed. I realize this is a luxury challenge to face, yet client satisfaction must remains the overriding goal.

Tell us about your favourite/most successful link-building strategy - how quickly do you typically see results from this method?

I’ve made my link building secret public awhile ago: https://online.marketing/guide/linkbuilding. And it still works great! Best thing about it though, it will not get your website penalized, unlike most other link building approaches.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Whenever I need to refuel mentally I put my inline skates on. Nothing that helps to clear the mind better but healthy physical exercise, especially if it can be done in nature on the outskirts of Berlin.

How do you choose who to reach out to/partner with? Where do you find them, and what approach do you take when reaching out?

Our outreach operation is designed to share actionable advice with a broad, interested audience. For years we have been contributing to large, international industry events in a speaking capacity. Conferences like BrightonSEO, SMX, Ungagged just to name a few are ideal opportunities to share from my unique Google Search and SEO consultant experience. At the same time both me and my business partner Kaspar Szymanski publish white papers on specific SEO topics a few times per year, covering very narrow issues and again providing hand-on advice. Sharing expertise is a tested strategy for outreach and aids greatly valuable lead generation.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I’m afraid there are a lot of misconceptions in the SEO industry. Half truths or mere legends disseminated as facts can, when applied for search engine optimization, produce unintended disastrous results. One of the worst recommendations still frequently proposed is to build PageRank passing backlinks in order to grow website visibility in Google. It is not only fundamentally flawed but very dangerous. However, when it comes to bad SEO advice, the list to recount is a long one.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Regular exercise and time based fasting has in the last few years helped to improve my well being and productivity.

What do you think about link swaps?

In most cases the answer is ‘no’. However, it is important to consider whether links are disseminated for illusionary PageRank gains or with regard to converting traffic. Link partnerships can work, when done well.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

I’m a keen domainer and continue to maintain a domain portfolio which continuously raises in value. Every now and then I part with a domain, provided a serious offer is on the table.

Describe your most effective SEO campaign ever. What made it so successful, and why?

Almost all SEO initiatives I’m engaged in turn out to be rather successful, with growth rates that seem to know no limits. That having said client privacy is of the greatest importance, which is why I never talk about clients or past projects. If you’re interested in finding out just how successful your website can be in Google, come and talk to me.

Tell us one thing about SEO that most people don't know?

You, as webmaster and website owner, are solely responsible for what you expose to search engines and their bots. You, not Google or Bing or Baidu, is responsible for how your website and content rank. Recognizing and owning this is the first step to success in search engine rankings! Need help, ask me!

What is a 'SEO tr' one could execute in <5 minutes

Check your Google Search Console domain properties on a daily basis for any red flags.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — what would it say and why?

Try!

How do you personalize your link building outreach campaigns? What are some tips for getting more responses? Do you have a follow-up process?

Best read my link building guide at https://online.marketing/guide/linkbuilding.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

Of course despite all best efforts to succeed, anyone can make a mistake. Learning to admit when you are wrong and immediately being able to take a step back to reassess the situation from a distance will set you up for success. It did for me. It does not matter so much what the mistake is but rather how you deal with it, as it is crucially important to learn from any mistake and/or failure. Also don’t forget to learn from other people’s mistakes if you can as this can be very cost-saving exercise to improve yourself. Any successful entrepreneur and/or business is successful because they have made plenty of mistakes or failed many times in the past and learned from their experience before they became successful in the present.

Are your campaigns automated? If so, what tools do you use and why?

We use both proprietary software as well as tried and tested tools such DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, Link Research Tools, and many others. I love SEO Tools. You can find a list I maintain of them (and more) at https://online.marketing/tools/

What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their SEO service provider journey? What advice should they ignore?

Attend online marketing, affiliate and SEO conferences, listen, learn and experiment.

Describe your link-building team. How many members are there? How do you measure and track progress?

Best read my link building guide at https://online.marketing/guide/linkbuilding.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Dare to take risks.

What careers advice would you give to your 21-year old self?

My younger self would be well advised to learn and practice Python or Ruby.

What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why?

Professionally I’ve greatly benefited from reading and re-reading Influence The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Understanding the inner drive for users actions helped me to become a better SEO consultant. As an informed citizen I’ve taken Barton Gellman’s Dark Mirror to my heart. Personally, I’m a strong privacy advocate and hence I find it important to understand the importance of data. Lastly, I love science fiction so I can also recommend Dune.

What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?

My children have taught me how to re-appreciate certain “discoveries” they made which I knew but took for granted. Experiencing the world through your kids’ eyes can be very rewarding.

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?

For less than $100 both of the books I recommend can be purchased. There will be plenty of change left for a coffee.

Tell us about your business. What does it do and what value do you add?

We provide technical Search Engine Consulting services to a select group of clients. The unique selling proposition, or what makes our services special, is the fact that both myself as well as the other agency co-founder Kaspar Szymanski spent years working for Google Search. The insights gained during our tenures are priceless. They give us and by extension our clients an unique advantage. At the same time we have developed our own tools which put us in the position to analyze and accurately access vast data pools. To give you an idea, there are but a few agencies worldwide in the habit of regularly analyzing terabytes of raw web server logs in order to among others actively manage crawl budgets. There are yet fewer agencies offering analyzing backlink profiles in the billions in order to mitigate off page liabilities. In short the insider knowledge on the one hand and a supremely technical approach on the other is not only unique in the SEO industry but also a winning combination.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

My other passion is scuba diving. If I had not become a professional SEO consultant, chances are I were following Jacques Cousteau’s ambition exploring the beautiful depths of the oceans.

Where do you see the SEO/link building industry in the next 5 years?

In the online business world, five years is an impossibly long time frame. Looking at the next year is more realistic when it comes to any projections. The link management industry will continue to thrive, mostly due to legacy issues which persist and require mitigating. Backlinks however are in decline in comparison to other, more relevant SEO factors. Which is why the importance of Core Web Vitals can’t be overestimated in 2021. With Google now officially highlighting the importance of user signals or as it is alternatively referred field data building websites that are popular with users is essentially a critical part of an online business strategy. Individual components, previously seen as isolated factors such as mobile friendliness, page performance, unique selling proposition and managing user expectations now, also officially, all contribute to how well any landing page does in organic Google Search. This is excellent news for all users and for website operators who did and continue to improve websites for their target audiences. With Core Web Vitals in place, one crucial signal is likely to improve across the board though. Landing Pages that load excessively long, 1 second or even longer won’t stand a chance. Which is why we can reasonably expect page performance to improve across verticals, language markets and industries.

Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?

I admire and respect people who follow their heart and do for living what they love with conviction. There are many contemporary individuals who at times at great personal cost did and continue to do what they believe in, even if that course of action puts them into harm’s way. Whistleblowers who expose government excesses for example. Or more prosaically medical professionals who despite poor pay and inadequate protection fight for patience in times of COVID-19. When thinking of people whom I truly admire I have to mention my father too who was an accomplished journalist and an author throughout his entire professional life. It was him who taught me to recognize the essence of a good story. I owe a great deal of my own publishing success to his early teachings. I’d like to think that as a father myself I may pass on positive habits to my children one day.

 

What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?

Ignore the noise. Especially Social Media, most of entertainment TV, all of advertising. All of these things tend to cause distractions from what is meaningful in life. Turn off smartphone notifications and uninstall social media apps. All of these are small steps to success. And happier, healthier, better life.

What is a useful skill someone could learn in one minute?

Meditation. I recommend extending the duration over time though.

What one song can you listen to every day non-stop?

My children keep on playing songs from BTS and BlackPink loud of the sound system, so their songs are most definitely stuck in my head right now.

What is the most surprising thing you've seen in your industry?

People are still falling for blatantly false recommendations from 2005 in the year 2020. Like buying PageRank backlinks in the false hope for improved rankings.

How has Covid-19 changed your industry?

To state the obvious the COVID-19 crisis has profoundly affected the digital industry and in many, different ways. Some of the effects are bound to last, some will abate as we return to a way of life and doing business resembling what we were used to before the outbreak. Most prosaically, there are a number of verticals that benefited and consequently grew overproportional as a consequence of large population groups living under lockdown conditions over a prolonged period of time. Retail, streaming and gambling providers are just a few of a large group of profitiers. Among these retail is most likely to retain some of the temporary market share gains post pandemic. At the same time, the tourism industry in particular online travel and accommodation platforms continue to struggle for survival. For them this is a time of reckoning, since some industry consolidation is to be expected. Those brands that manage to get out at the end of the crisis can look forward to unprecedented growth, with fewer competitors then previously. It is apparent that the bottled-up consumer needs, unsatisfied for a prolonged period of time are virtually certain to cause a huge spike in travel, as soon as it is deemed safe enough. Which is why wise, long term thinking website operators take advantage of the current lull time to prepare their online platforms for what’s to come. This is the perfect opportunity to dive deep into on- and off-page SEO signals, drop legacy issues, clean-up backlink profiles and make the website as fast and robust as possible. Now is the perfect timing for technical SEO audits.

How has Covid-19 changed your company?

With the importance of online sales growing the importance of and demand for SEO consulting services has grown accordingly.

What's your favourite colour?

Green.

What's your favourite holiday destination?

Maldives, Tenerife and the Caribbean Dutch Island of Bonaire are among my favourite scuba diving destinations.

What popular celebrity do you admire the most and why?

I’m afraid I do not follow celebrities’ exploits. If asked for TV personalities I may say I have enjoyed Penn & Teller but this is as far as I would go regarding celebrities.

What one thing in life do you consider to be overrated?

Modern pop culture offers a lot of distraction and little substance, especially TV reality shows and the likes.

What's something exciting you're currently working on/learning that only a few people know about?

I am programming a new website section for Online.Marketing to publish in 2021.

What are you NOT Very Good at?

I’m perpetually unable to leave a problem unsolved. Especially if it’s an indexing and ranking issue.

What's your star sign?

Cancer.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I’m actually fasting, hence my lunch is my first meal of the day. Unless you wanna count coffee that is.

Author

Heather Wilkinson is a globe-trotting content creator and PR enthusiast who’s finally put down roots in her native UK. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her pretending to care about Minecraft for her son’s sake, while secretly reading the latest Ace Atkins novel (or sleeping – her second favourite past-time).

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