I read AJ’s recent article “what I learned in 2017”. In it, he mentioned not being very excited about the SEO content being published these days. I wanted to find out why. I did, but we also ended up chatting about his unique view on recent Google updates (and why they were NOT ‘content quality’ updates), how to optimize for intent… and lots more including:

  • Active intent vs passive intent and how to optimize for both
  • Why Google’s move beyond traditional algorithms matters to SEOs
  • A lot Google Document which classifies intent types?
  • The linkspam renaissance
  • Being behind on work as an SEO consultant
  • Voice search, AMP, and giving Google what they want?
  • And… AJ answers Twitter questions!

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Episode Sponsor

BuzzSumo – One of my favorite tools for coming up with content ideas, finding people who share content in an industry, and tons more (like alerts to keep an eye on your competitor’s links). Also, check out their new Question Analyzer Tool (formally Bloomberry – recently launched within BuzzSumo!) Listen to the show for a special code to get 30% off BuzzSumo for 3 months.

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  • Show Introduction [0:21]
  • AJ’s Introduction [1:06]
  • AJ’s Article “What I Learned in 2017” [1:23]
    • What does AJ feel is lacking in Industry content in 2018/2018 [1:34]
    • How long has AJ been practicing SEO [4:22]
    • In the beginning of AJ’s career what were the types of content that were valuable [4:44]
    • What is so important about Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal being replaced by John Giannandrea at Google? [7:05]
      • Matt Cutts’ role at Google [8:01]
      • Amit Singhal’s role at Google [9:26]
      • John Giannandrea and machine learning at Google [10:05]
    • Is the Google Web Spam team gone and what has replaced it? [11:15]
      • Are Link and Spam detection with machine learning working? [12:35]
    • AJ believes the current ranking updates are search understanding/query understanding updates, not content quality updates [15:14]
      • Google and search intents [16:49]
      • Does AJ believe the focus of query understanding has made Google a better search engine and how can SEOs apply this knowledge about intent to create better-performing content [23:06]
      • How to optimize for intent [26:58]
      • Intent to find a human to relate to in content [31:41]
  • Sponsor Break – BuzzSumo- one of Dan’s favorite tools! Listen here for a discount code! [34:19]
    • AJ on BuzzSumo’s Content Trends 2018 Report [36:03]
  • Voice Search and AMP [38:52]
    • Voice Search – how does knowing something is spoken rather than typed change the way SEO is done [39:03]
      • AJ on featured snippets and Q&A content [39:44]
    • AMP and finishing voice search- is there a problem with always catering to what Google wants [44:31]
      • AJ on AMP and understanding the people currently behind Google search and AMP teams [45:31]
        • PWAs- Progressive Web Apps and AMP [47:20]
  • Twitter Question- How has your processes or workflow changed over the years in terms of how you tackle and succeed on a SEO project? Have any priorities shifted? [50:49]
  • Twitter Question- You’ve talked about GSC’s limitations, so how might you track ranking positions for a lot of brick and mortar locations? [54:20]
  • Twitter Question- What’s your take on the over-sharing vs. giving away the farm argument? [56:21]
  • Why doesn’t AJ flaunt his accomplishments [58:28]
  • How AJ writes clear, consumable content [1:01:04]
  • Article Discussion [1:06:37]
    • Discussion of article fragment: “I find it hard to respond quickly to something I believe requires greater thought. That means I’m slow and frequently don’t communicate well. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a feature and not a bug.”[1:06:37]
      • How AJ communicates that work may take longer than anticipated to clients [1:11:26]
      • AJ’s thoughts on charging hourly [1:14:26]
  • Where listeners can find AJ online [1:15:47]

Tools Mentioned

Articles, Resources, and Links Mentioned

Find AJ Online

About Dan Shure

Hi! I'm Dan Shure. I write all of the posts and host all of the podcast episodes you'll find on the Evolving SEO blog. Say hello on Twitter @dan_shure!


  • March 20, 2018 Reply

    Charles Williams

    Anyone find the piece of content you had trouble finding?

    • March 20, 2018 Reply

      Dan Shure

      No! And I looked for like an hour myself!

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