Barry Schwartz: “Google Page Experience is unlikely to affect rankings, but it’s worth implementing.” Highlights from the interview



Barry Schwartz. American SEO expert, author and editor of Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Land



About SEO in tough times

Hello Barry! You are one of the most famous American SEO experts in Russia, along with Cyrus Shepard, Rand Fishkin, Kevin Indig, etc. But, as far as we know, you do more than just SEO. Can you tell us about the projects you are currently working on?


Barry: Hello Anton, that’s right. A lot of people associate me with SEO, but in fact my business is somewhat different. Yes, I write about SEO, I write a lot, and I’ve been doing it since 2003. At the moment, I have about 30,000 articles on the topic, published on Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land. I’m a speaker at events about search, search engine optimization and the Google search engine. But speaking about my business (RustyBrick), right now we’re developing software for websites and mobile applications. We create software mainly for corporations and large organizations. We specialize in developments that help companies automate processes, for example in back office, in order to increase the efficiency of both online and offline destinations.

Let’s talk about online promotion in 2020. What role do you think search traffic plays in business development? What is its impact on online promotion?


Barry: It’s hard to quantify the impact, but if you think about it, it’s clear that organic traffic is a fundamental, primary channel for online business development at this point. In order for a user to find something he needs or is interested in, he goes to a search engine. He wants to solve his problem or he is interested through other marketing channels – TV or advertising, for example. Either way – before or after the user is interested in your product – he will go to the search engine. And you need to do everything you can to attract as many of these users as possible to your site from keyword searches. You need to make sure that the moment the user turns to the search engine and decides whether to buy from you (whether to cooperate with you) or not, the search results will show you, your achievements and reputation in the best possible way.

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The impact of the crisis on business

Due to the pandemic, many companies have had to cut their budgets, including online promotion. Some have yet to do so. What anti-crisis measures can you advise companies during this difficult period?


Barry: You can start by adjusting your budget between channels, prioritizing those that have a direct impact on sales. That could be PPC advertising, for example, or search ads. Obviously, you also need to consider your industry, and how it’s been impacted. If you’re selling airline tickets to Hawaii, you might be able to discount those ads, so to speak. Travel in general has declined significantly during the pandemic, and very few people are going to buy airline tickets to Hawaii. But if you’re planning SEO promotion and search engine marketing development in your niche, you have to realize that it’s going to take a few months. You need to start investing in it today so that by the time the pandemic is hopefully over, you can see results. So I might suggest investing in longer-term tasks if your business is stagnant at the moment.

“You need to make sure that the moment the user turns to the search engine and decides whether or not to buy from you (whether to partner with you), the search engine will show you, your accomplishments and your reputation in the best possible light.”

How has the user experience changed against a covid background? What should companies change now and what should they be prepared for?


Barry: It all depends on the industry you’re in. If you’re selling Clorox disinfectant wipes or medical gloves, for example, you have to anticipate stock availability issues. If you sell tours, you need to combat people’s fear of travel and travel. Some things users have searched for more often than usual, such as health and covid-related items, and some less so, such as concert tickets, for example. There is no general answer as to what a company should change – it all depends on your niche.

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About search engines in the next decade

Barry, how do you see digital marketing in the next decade? How will search change?


Barry: Oh, that’s a really broad and futuristic question. Everything is changing in our space, the digital marketing space, the search marketing space. All we have to do is react to all these changes in the right way. For the last five years, for example, search marketing has been about mobile, mobile search, mobile devices, mobile advertising. My guess is that in the next five years or so, voice search and visual search through augmented reality will increase their impact on digital marketing.

Would it be possible to call this time the “Influencer Era”?


Barry: I suspect that social media Influencers and opinion leaders will become less influential, but, I’m not an expert at predicting the social media situation. Online search is always changing, but in the next five years or so I would watch for visual search, voice search, and I would expect the biggest changes in that area.

“Either way – before or after a user is interested in your product – they will go to a search engine. And you need to do everything you can to attract as many of those users to your site as possible.

About Google Page Experience


What about the new search engine ranking factor, Page Experience? And Web VItals metrics? What changes do businesses need to prepare for?


Barry: Yes, businesses have to implement the specific site changes that Google Page Experience requires, including key Web Vitals (new metrics to assess the usability of the site).

Do I need to start optimizing and fine-tuning the site now?


Barry: The changes won’t affect rankings on Google here and now. And I suspect they won’t have any major impact in 2021, when the Page Experience launches. But in any case, all of these metrics should help you increase the percentage of satisfied users of your site: improving conversions, page load times, and interaction experiences. So, it’s a win-win either way – to be implemented both as part of the new ranking factor and without regard to its appearance.

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Is it possible to become a “Russian Barry Schwartz”?

Barry, please advise all readers: what books besides those devoted to the subject of SEO would you recommend to SEO professionals to include in their library?


Barry: I read and study a lot of Jewish books now, actually. But I recently read The Innovation Stack by Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square, and I loved it. I can recommend “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson – I really enjoyed it. As for SEO books, my first were from Shari Thurow and Mike Grehan. But there are tons of free good online resources for beginners on SEO. Just google some useful stuff on SEO 🙂

“I anticipate that in the next five years or so, voice search and visual search through augmented reality will increase their impact on digital marketing.”

And, lastly: is it possible to become a “Russian Barry Schwartz”?


Barry: My work ethic is a little crazy. I believe in hard work, long hours, even when you’re sick, etc. But the truth is, it all affects you and your family. I’m not sure I would recommend going my way. And I don’t consider myself some big “brand.” Yes, people in the search community probably know who I am. But I could walk down the street and 99.999% of people would have no idea who I am at all. So the question of becoming a Russian Barry Schwartz seems awkward to me because I’m just someone who writes a lot and likes to interact with the search community. What it comes down to is that you just have to do what you love, do it well, work hard and then hopefully people will enjoy what you do.

Barry, thank you for your time. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!


Barry: Thank you, good luck and see you soon!

Barry Schwartz will be participating in the Optimization 2020 online conference on October 14. Everyone will have the opportunity to ask the expert a question. Barry will speak in a discussion format during which he will discuss with the conference participants what is new in SEO. You can learn more about the conference program and register at the conference website.

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