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Hey friends, I mentor start-ups in and outside the German Accelerator and run technical SEO @ Atlassian.

In the past 10 years, I've helped companies like eBay, Pinterest, Columbia Sportswear, UBS bank, Bosch, Atlassian, and more to acquire +100M users.

I write a weekly newsletter with a curation of the best growth marketing content on the web (my standards are high), called Tech Bound.

I will be live on Jan 9 from starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which I will answer as many questions as possible.

You can follow me on Twitter: @kevin_indig

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    6 months ago #

    Bonjour Kevin,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    Enjoyed the video on your site and the shift to more top of the funnel content, among other great points.

    Here are a few questions for you:

    1) How do you rigorously tie SEO to your growth north star metric?
    2) Are there SEO tools out there to do A/B testing on SEO? (If so, which ones do you use?)
    3) How does your mobile strategy impact your SEO results?

    Merci!

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Arsene, thanks for joining! Let me answer your questions in one reply each.
      1) SEO has the benefit to drive or support almost any step in the AARRR funnel.

      So, if your north star metric is tied to driving acquisition, SEO needs to be a firm part of the strategy (even in B2B nowadays).

      You can even support a step like retention with SEO content, say documentation, FAQ, how-tos & tutorials, customer support content, etc.

      What's important, when it comes to the NSM, is that you get everyone on board with SEO. If management thinks it doesn't work or is "blackhat", you're missing out on a huge growth lever.

      5 Share
    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      3) Mobile is huge - if your business gets a lot of mobile traffic. E-commerce is a classic candidate for mobile traffic because people see products in malls and then look them up online, for example.

      B2B, in most cases, is not a big on mobile traffic because users really want to take their time to dig into the brand and do their research. So, they use desktop devices.

      However, if mobile traffic is important to my business it _dictactes_ the SEO strategy. Mobile is absolutely fundamental to SEO. I think Google's "mobile first indexing" speaks for itself.

      3 Share
      • CK

        Cansu Kaya

        5 months ago #

        How should we prepare for mobile first indexing? What are the first steps should we take?

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        @Cansu Kaya make sure your site is responsive, compare your user signals, dwell time, and conversion rate on mobile and make sure you rank (mostly) on the same position on mobile vs. desktop.

        Do user testing on your mobile site!

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      2) The one I know and used before is Distilled's ODN (https://odn.distilled.net/). Startups like Etsy, Pinterest, or Thumbtack often code their own solutions to implement t-tests for SEO.

      2 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        5 months ago #

        Can you talk more about this? How do you A/B test SEO? What does that experiment look like? What's the minimum time such tests have to run before you see results?

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        @AnujAdhiya, SEO testing is mostly t-testing. So, you compare two or more cohorts of the same page template against each other, when changing OnPage factors such as title or H-tags (maybe content).

        Now, there are a couple of caveats. You need a decent amount of traffic, otherwise, the results don't reach statistical significance. Also, you need a significant sample size of pages per cohort, which depends on the total population size (total amount of pages).

        Also, you need to test the same page templates against each other.

  • DB

    dean briones

    5 months ago #

    When running a bootstrapped startup, what are some key factors in determining where to spend money on traditional PR (news outlets, press coverage, etc) vs. SEO/PPC?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Dean, thanks for asking a question!

      For young startups, organic growth is the best way to go. That means PPC is often not a good option, at least in the early stage.

      Traditional PR is pretty dead right now. People just really hate ads. Instead, Id' focus more on
      - co-marketing campaigns
      - personal relationships
      - Influencer marketing
      - Producing kick-ass content
      - SEO of course

      4 Share
    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      *Little correction: "Traditional PR" was supposed to mean "Traditional Marketing". My bad!

  • JV

    Jason Vedadi

    6 months ago #

    Do you see any big shifts in SEO for 2018?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Jason, thanks for joining!

      Here are the big shifts I see for SEO in 2018:

      Mobile. Google's "Mobile First Indexing" roll-out could really hit some sites hard and change the search landscape a good bit. Even though Google says they're going to roll it out slowly and announced the change early on, I see a lot of big sites unprepared.

      SERP integrations. I see a lot more featured snippets and knowledge graph integrations coming at us that will increase the competition in the search results.

      Competition with Google. Google has lately been serving many verticals itself: job search, destination search, stock price, etc. As a webmaster, you have the choice to either pass on 90% of organic traffic (because Google is the dominant search engine) or give Google your data with the chance that Google uses it for itself at some point. I think this trend will continue, to the detriment of many businesses.

      3 Share
  • MS

    Martijn Scheijbeler

    6 months ago #

    Happy New Year and great that you're doing this, hope to see more SEOs out here in 2018!

    - What are the best SEO implementations that you see these days?
    - What are you looking forward to, that might happen in the SEO industry?
    - What books are you reading in 2018?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Happy New Year my friend! Thanks for jumping on this.

      I'll answer your questions in three replies.

      1) What are the best SEO implementations that you see these days?
      Pinterest, Instagram, Airbnb, and of course I know that you guys are doing good stuff ;-) https://imgur.com/a/pBQo2

      2 Share
    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      2) "What are you looking forward to, that might happen in the SEO industry?"

      The ongoing maturity of the industry. I love to see how it grows, how more and more companies accept it and young, fresh talent coming in.

      In many ways, it paves the way for Growth Hacking. GH currently goes through a phase, in which it receives a lot of hype but also misinformation and false promises. In the beginning, everybody thought SEO was black magic as well (some still do...).

      So, the success of SEO makes me excited, in part because I see Growth Hacking going through the same thing.

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      3) "What books are you reading in 2018?"

      I LOVE that question! Right now I'm reading "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene.

      On my desk, I have Ray Dalio's "Principles", Ryan Holiday's "Ego is the Enemy", Robert Greenes "Mastery".

      I have about 20 more books on my Amazon wish list ;-).

      What do you read in 2018?

  • AG

    Ashley Greene

    6 months ago #

    Hey Kevin. Thanks for doing this. What's your take on the single most important SEO strategy to prioritize in 2018 and advice on actually doing it? ;)

    Trick question to some degree as we all know SEO is a bunch of moving parts — some we can control, some we can't — but given the trends and data you've seen, what area do you plan to give the biggest priority?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Ashley, thanks for jumping on!

      It depends on the site(s) we're talking about, of course.

      Optimizing for Mobile is very acute right now. If mobile traffic represents more than 5% of overall traffic for your business you should take it seriously. That means making your site responsive, fast and measuring how users use the mobile site (with session recordings and looking at bounce rate, dwell time and conversion rate in comparison to the desktop site). The king solution to optimizing mobile is building a PWA (progressive web app).

      If mobile is not a huge factor for your business, figuring out a good content strategy is most important. The content game is getting more competitive and harder, so finding ways so scale is key. It doesn't always have to be textual content, it can (and maybe should) be video or audio. SEOs and businesses are not creative enough in leveraging rich media formats like videos or podcasts. I see a lot of potential there.

      4 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    5 months ago #

    Hi Kevin - so excited to have you here!

    a. I've had a few conversations with SEO folks in the past, and until those talks, none of them thought of themselves as growth marketers/growth hackers, even though they'd always done the kind of things (that I thought) every growth professional does.

    You're the first SEO practitioner I've come across that also calls themselves a growth marketer and it made me wonder why that was?
    The only difference I can think of are that the folks I mentioned were agency people and you're an in-house person.

    b. Also, what's your favorite log file analysis tool and why?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Dani, so excited to see your questions here! I was hoping you'd participate and looking at your questions, I know why :-).

      a) There are three reasons for why I call myself a Growth Hacker, more so than an SEO:

      1. The term Search Engine Optimization is actually outdated. SEO evolved so much that it nowadays entails +200 ranking factors and many of these are more at home in other disciplines: conversion optimization, user experience, consumer psychology, etc.

      2. SEO is such a substantial part of user-acquisition, which in itself is a huge part of Growth Hacking, so I think as an SEO you have one of the best starting positions to evolve into a Growth Hacker.

      3. I've started to expand my horizon years ago and ventured into Growth Hacking disciplines like experimentation, network effects, brand building & positioning, product testing, etc. This in return also helped me in SEO (see point 1).

      It got topped off when I started consulting startups in Growth Hacking and took a position as a mentor at an Accelerator, at which I run the Growth Hacking Mentoring.

      Also, I've actually been an agency/consulting person longer than I was in-house ;-).

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      b) I really like the Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer (https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/log-file-analyser/). Full disclosure, to a degree I do the analysis in Excel, depending on what I'm trying to figure out.

  • MS

    Mohammed Sali

    5 months ago #

    Hi,

    Can you share some best resource for learning SEO and Digital Marketing Mainly for an Ecommerce website .

    THANKS

  • GC

    Gary-Yau Chan

    6 months ago #

    How do you determine if your SEO strategy for USA has been capped? And then to move on to focus on an international audience with translation? (That ties into how to structure that conversation with the marketing team, and the sales team, etc.)

    Example: Your Organic Traffic for USA have been going up slower and slower month-over-month. Do you continue to invest long tails even though it will not produce much results?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Gary, thanks for joining!

      To answer your question, there are many factors that decide whether I propose to focus on international or stay focused on the core market:
      - competitors
      - rankings for the initial keyword set
      - profitability
      - conversion rate form organic traffic
      - user signals (bounce rate, dwell time, CTR)

      So bottom line is, it depends on how fast the market moves globally and how successful you are in the core market.

      3 Share
  • RH

    Russell Huq

    6 months ago #

    Hi Kevin,

    Please see my questions

    How do you execute competitive analysis to monitor and stay ahead of the competitors?

    What other SaaS companies you would like to be a part of?

    Do you think freemium model is a must for all SaaS product to grow?

    Appreciate your valuable time, thank you!

    -- Russell

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Yo Russ, good to see you here.

      I'll answer your questions in separate replies.

      1) "How do you execute competitive analysis to monitor and stay ahead of the competitors?"

      I keep an eye on all of my competitors by checking their SEO visibility (from Searchmetrics) and checking how they rank for keywords that we care about. If I see their rankings going up or down a lot, I check what happened. So, I keep a VERY close eye on my competitors ;-).

      Sometimes, I go as deep as performing a full site audit to find their tricks and reverse engineer their tactics.

      2 Share
    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      2) "What other SaaS companies you would like to be a part of?"

      Well, I can't say that without sounding negative about Atlassian at the same time but I can tell you which other SaaS companies I respect: Slack, Salesforce, Moz, Intercom, Hubspot, MailChimp, Buffer.

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      3) "Do you think freemium model is a must for all SaaS product to grow?"

      No, but I think a certain degree of freemium yields so many benefits that are it's foolish not to use it. It doesn't have to be freemium, it could be "first user free", too.

      You always want to make it as easy as possible for users to experience product value.

  • TW

    Tom Whatley

    6 months ago #

    Thanks for coming to answer our questions, Kevin :)

    On a strategic level, how do you manage SEO for a company the size of Atlassian? What are the top performing content formats, and what are the core techniques that help with your distribution efforts?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Thanks for coming on, Tom!

      Here are the top tactics to make a company like Atlassian (with 15 products) successful in SEO:

      - Educate as many non-SEOs as possible. At this point, there's no way you can do all the SEO yourself. You need your colleagues to help you and therefore they need to gain at least some SEO knowledge. So, we regularly do workshops and presentations. We also have an internal wiki that we use to spread basic knowledge and show people how to research keywords and do some SEO themselves.

      - Constantly evangelize SEO. We make sure SEO gets the necessary visibility and people understand its performance. To do that, we internally blog about our efforts and the returns we go.

      - Focus on the biggest levers. We can't optimize every page (some of our products, like Trello, have hundreds of millions of indexed URLs) but we can look at big levers like site architecture, internal linking, XML sitemaps, etc. We look for the factors that have a big (compound) impact. Lastly, we optimize the pages in detail that bring in the biggest revenue.

      I wrote a long guide about the topic in this post: https://www.semrush.com/blog/how-to-overcome-the-biggest-obstacles-as-in-house-seo/

      4 Share
      • TW

        Tom Whatley

        5 months ago #

        Thanks for the comprehensive reply, Kevin. Reading your SEMrush post, I see it's all about empowerment. Giving your teams, marketing or otherwise, the tools and support they need to help the company as a whole. Nice work :).

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        Thanks, @Tom.

        It's empowerment and "reminding" people of the opportunities behind SEO ;-).

  • JR

    Johannes Radig

    6 months ago #

    Hi Kevin, thanks for doing this AMA! 💪

    My 3 question for you:
    - What are BAD recommendations that you often hear people giving in the SEO space?
    - What's has been the single biggest driver for Atlassian's SEO growth in the last 6 months?
    - What is Atlassian's strategy for link building?

    Thanks, Kevin.

    Keep on killing it in the SEO space!

    Best
    Johannes

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Johannes, nice to see you here! Thanks for participating.

      I'll answer your questions in separate threats.

      1) "What are BAD recommendations that you often hear people giving in the SEO space? "

      Focusing too much on factors that are not (very) relevant. For example, you shouldn't focus too much on image alt-tags, when your site architecture is not on point. Or looking at h-tags before you have XML sitemaps.

      I prefer large-scale levers over page-based factors and look at site crawlability before looking at single pages (on 99% of cases).

      4 Share
    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      2) "What's has been the single biggest driver for Atlassian's SEO growth in the last 6 months?"

      Our community (community.atlassian.com). We've completely revamped it and migrated it from answers.atlassian.com to community.atlassian.com. Boy, was that a project! But it was very successful and the community is growing like crazy now. Big driver of SEO.

      4 Share
      • DS

        David Spinks

        5 months ago #

        This is awesome. Do you have any specific data you can share on how the community has grown your SEO?

      • DS

        David Spinks

        5 months ago #

        Interesting data would be % increase in SEO traffic as a result of the community relaunch and % of total traffic

        Epic data would be revenue generated by community-driven traffic (or % growth or % of total)

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        @David Spinks

        Sorry mate, can't share revenue data ;-). We're a public company... I'm sure you understand.

        I can tell you that the community already 2x its traffic due to the relaunch and it positively impacted our overall traffic.

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        @David Spinks, what data are you looking for ;-)?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      3) "What is Atlassian's strategy for link building?"

      I have to disappoint you a bit at this point. Atlassian gets a ton of organic links simply due to its brand.

      We don't actively engage in link building but follow the dogma of the industry that content attracts links and as boring as it sounds - it works.

      We have a playbook (https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook), for example, that gets tons of links simply because it's really helpful and well done.

  • NU

    Nitin Upparpelli

    6 months ago #

    Is Clickbank a reliable site from a publishers point of view to promote the products listed on the site?

  • KH

    Keith Horwood

    6 months ago #

    1) What was your biggest SEO campaign success in 2017?
    2) What are you wanting to focus on in 2018 in terms of SEO to support business objectives?

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    5 months ago #

    Hey Kevin - so cool to finally have you on!

    I'm still making my way up the SEO learning curve.
    One thing on my to-do list is to learn more about HTTP protocols.

    Can you talk about why we should care about this topic and any experimentation you've done around this?

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    5 months ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Kevin.

    (How) do you you use Chrome DevTools to glean SEO insights?
    What's the biggest insight you've ever gotten from this tool?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Glen, thanks for joining!

      Love that question. I actually use the Chrome and Firefox developer console A LOT.

      I really like the audit function, which lets you check your PWA functionality (game changer) and page speed.

      I also use the device toolbar (upper left corner) a lot to switch between mobile and desktop view.

      Thirdly, I use the screenshot function a lot to take full-page screenshots: https://umaar.com/dev-tips/151-screenshot-capture/.

      Then there are hundreds of smaller things I use it for, especially page speed optimization ;-).

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    5 months ago #

    Hey Kevin

    a. What tools are you using at Atlassian for experimentation & analytics right now?
    Have you added any tool(s) to the stack recently? If yes, why?

    b. Where does your data live, ie what is the "source of truth"?

    c. What collaboration tools does the team use (I assume JIRA/Hipchat/Trello/other company tools are on the list but what else)?

    Thanks!
    John

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey John, thanks for jumping on!

      I'll answer your questions in separate threads:

      1) "What tools are you using at Atlassian for experimentation & analytics right now?
      Have you added any tool(s) to the stack recently? If yes, why?"

      I can't give away our whole stack but for analytics, we use Google Analytics, Segment, GoodData and Search Console. SEO tool wise Searchmetrics, AHREFs, SEMrush, SEOclarity, MOz, Screaming Frog, and more.

      For SEO, we've recently added AHREFs and Nozzle (https://nozzle.io/) to monitor SERPs. For analytics, we've added Tableau.

      For experimentation, it's mainly Optimizely.

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      2) "Where does your data live, ie what is the "source of truth"?"

      Our sources of truth all live on Confluence, our "internal wiki". I really recommend every company to set up some type of wiki for information management. It just solves so many problems at once, starting with new employee onboarding and ending with company internal blogging.

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      3) "What collaboration tools does the team use (I assume JIRA/Hipchat/Trello/other company tools are on the list but what else)?"

      Stride, Jira, Confluence, Trello, G Docs. There's really not much else ;-).

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    5 months ago #

    Hey Kevin
    "Being a strong SEO requires a series of skills that's difficult for a single person to be great at." - Agree or disagree?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Tri, thanks for asking a smart question!

      I disagree with a caveat. I think one person can attain the skills to become a great SEO, even though those skills are on a very wide spectrum in 2018.

      However, a company would miss out to just employ one SEO if SEO is a suitable user acquisition channel. SEO offers so many specializations that it's BEST done by several people but COULD be done by a single person to a degree.

      Ultimately, it depends on the company size, product and market(s).

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    5 months ago #

    Hi Kevin
    Do you think off-page SEO is just PR and publicity by another name?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Mark, thanks for joining!

      I think off-page is much more than just PR. Nowadays, to get good backlinks you often have to create dedicated content, which is a whole art in itself.

      I see where you coming from with the whole outreach part but I think there's a good bit more to that, especially when you need to be a bit creative.

  • YK

    Yannis Karagiannidis

    5 months ago #

    How Crucial is SEO for Atlassian's acquisition? Do you get many conversions for non-branded keywords? By saying non-branded, everything except Atlassian, Jira (product names etc) and miss-types of them

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Yannis, thanks a lot for joining!

      I can't name exact numbers but let's just say that SEO is the most crucial acquisition channel for Atlassian! Yep, it's THAT big.

      Brand-keywords drive a ton of our traffic but we're also very strong in generic keywords: everything that revolves around git, agile, project management, team-work and more.

  • AM

    Ana Manrique

    5 months ago #

    Hi!

    I would like to know if you have any thoughts on how the GDPR is going to affect SEO?

    If anyone has questions about GDPR https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr)

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Ana, thanks for joining and asking a good question!

      We've looked at GDPR very closely at Atlassian. For large-scale sites the implications can be HUGE. I also think it's completely underestimated and some companies will go through actual nightmares when GDPR "strikes".

      In many cases, there are good solutions to GDPR, though. A small banner for logged-out users and an update to the terms of use are sufficient. However, I'm not a lawyer or legal expert, so please check in with your legal department of lawyer of trust ;-).

  • TP

    Tomasz Piotrowski

    5 months ago #

    Hi! Thanks or being here Kevin!

    I have 2 questions:
    1. Which books do you recon as the fundamentals of your life in general and professionally?
    2. Can SEO be included in the sites DNA after the site is launched and without rebuilding it totally?

    Will be great to get your answers! Thanks!

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Hey Tomasz, thanks for jumping on!

      I'll answer your questions in two separate threads.

      1) Very cool question.

      Personally, 3 books had a big influence on me: Lord of the Rings (+The Hobbit, Silmarillion, and Letter from Middle Earth), The Game from Neil Strauss and Sapiens by Noah Harari.

      Professionally, Eric Ries' "Lean Startup", Peter Thiel's "Zero to One", and Ryan Holiday's "Growth Hacker Marketing".

      • TP

        Tomasz Piotrowski

        5 months ago #

        OMG! This list is mine! :-)
        Read them all except Letter from Middle Earth. On my list now!
        Thanks!

        PS. If you haven't read it already then I'd recommend Platform Revolution by Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Sangeet Paul Choudary

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        Thanks for the recommendation, @tomasz! I'll check it out.

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      2) "Can SEO be included in the sites DNA after the site is launched and without rebuilding it totally?"

      Yes but at a high cost. The larger the site, the higher the cost. Also, it depends on which CMS you're on. If you use Wordpress, it also comes somewhat optimized.

  • DF

    Diana Fitch

    6 months ago #

    So excited to have you here, Kevin!

    How do you use Jira for experimenting?

    • KI

      Kevin Indig

      5 months ago #

      Diana, I'm just as excited to answer your question!

      However, I need you to refine a bit: how exactly do you mean your question?

      • DF

        Diana Fitch

        5 months ago #

        Thanks for your reply! I mean what collaboration, experimentation, and analytics tools do you use at Atlassian? And do you use Jira for any of these purposes? Thanks!

      • KI

        Kevin Indig

        5 months ago #

        @Diana Fitch

        We use Jira for collaboration but not experimentation, just project management of experiments. Other collaboration tools we use are Confluence, Trello, and Stride - all inhouse products ;-). For experimentation, we have Optimizely.

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