saseb68865: Episode 1 – Create Growth Via SEO
Episode 1 – Create Growth Via SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of any business. It has helped numerous organisations in ranking their websites and pages higher on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). An excellent example would be Schneider Electric, who has seen exponential growth with SEO.
In this episode of “The Growth Genius Podcast,” we will be talking to the digital marketer and growth hacker Pinaki Chakraborty at Schneider Electric, who shares his insights for creating organic growth for business via SEO.
When you want to grow, showcase your work in the most simplistic manner possible to your senior executives because they won’t understand the nuances of SEO, CTR, CPC bounce rate. They will say [things] like you know “ultimately what is the result?”. So focus on the result, and the result has to be married with business.
Some of the important points that are covered in this segment:
- What is SEO? (4:05)
- Basic SEO Activities that you should perform on a website? (5:50)
- What is On-Page SEO? (7:42)
- What is Off-Page SEO? (9:12)
- What are the top three parameters in SEO that help in creating growth? (10:51)
- What role, backlinks play to increase the rankings of your website? (20:49)
- What is the best way to enter the SEO industry? (22:16)
- How does the work profile change from in B2C vs B2B (29:43)
Episode Number One of the Growth Genius Podcast powered by Infidigit.
[00:28] Kaushal: Welcome friends to the Growth Genius Podcast. My name is Kaushal Thakkar. I’m the founder of Infidigit and your host for the show. Each week, I interview geniuses who have created phenomenal digital growth for their organization. We discuss the key techniques and share insights to help you learn and create your own growth story.
Search Engine Optimization popularly known as SEO is one of the most important digital marketing channels, but it’s one of the most complicated channels too, to create a growth story. This channel is very close to my heart since I have been working on SEO since the last 15 years.
The topic for today’s discussion is to create growth via SEO and we are going to learn from our guest, some of the techniques of search engine optimization that would help you to rank at number one position on Google and other search engines.
Today, I’m interviewing search ecosystem expert Pinaki Chakraborty, who is currently AGM global customer search experience at Schneider Electric. Earlier, he has created growth for brands like Myntra, Disney, Simplilearn, and several others. He’s passionate about mediums that connect people and creates a lasting impression on their lives. He loves storytelling, and bridging gaps between marketing, tech, and product.
Welcome to this episode Pinaki, thank you so much for being on the show. How are you doing today?
[2:16] Pinaki: Thanks Kaushal for inviting me on this podcast. Friends I’m Pinaki as Kaushal has mentioned, I am a part of the global DCX customer search team in Schneider Electric. Just to give a fair amount of background of where I’m coming from. I hail an engineering degree and then I have volunteered myself to get into the digital marketing ecosystem, been in this industry for the last 12 odd years, have led multiple platform and category level campaigns in Simplilearn and Myntra.
However, as Kaushal has mentioned, SEO is my passion. It’s always close to my heart and I always consider SEO as a marriage between product, marketing, and analytics. I have personally seen an immense amount of evolution in this industry, and happy to be a part of this discussion ahead. And yeah Kaushal thanks a lot for inviting me.
[3:14] Kaushal: Thank you, Pinaki. Thank you. It’s our pleasure too, Thanks! So, Pinaki thanks for that introduction. And I believe today you are speaking from the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore. How’s the weather there today?
Pinaki: The weather is good. It’s been raining since the last couple of days, and it’s pleasant weather. However, as you know, due to the COVID-19 situation, we all are working from home. So, yeah. I’m not able to enjoy the weather as much as I do when I’m outside but, let’s take it with a pinch of salt.
[3:51] Kaushal: Perfect! That’s nice. So, Pinaki, coming back to the topic. So today while we are discussing growth via SEO, can you help our audience understand what is SEO all about?
What is SEO?
[4:05] Pinaki: Absolutely! And again, this is my perception, and this can be different for different SEO experts. For me, SEO is, to put it in simple words, I would say search engine optimization, acronym as SEO is the name given to the activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings. Now, when I say search engine rankings, I say when people search any keyword from Google search, so Google displays links to pages it considers relevant and authoritative.
So my definition of SEO is how beautifully and intellectually you can improve the content of the pages for Google to ensure that they are more Google friendly. Google loves those pages and eventually improves its ranking in Google search. Now imagine you are searching for a particular keyword and you have a business relevant for that particular keyword. And if you’re not visible in the first five results in Google search, you are absolutely nowhere.
And considering 98% of the searches happening in almost across most of the top 20 countries, Google is quite dominant. It becomes imperative for all our search experts to ensure there is visibility for our clients that we work with.
[5:26] Kaushal: Perfect. That sounds good. And Pinaki, so you mentioned that SEO will help you rank better in search engines like Google. Now, if our listeners have a small website, and they had to do some SEO on that particular website, what would you suggest would be those basic SEO activities that our listeners should perform on their website?
Basic SEO Activities that you should perform on a website?
[5:50] Pinaki: Well, that’s a very good… I would say that’s a very good start and a foundation for learning SEO. The first activity that I would focus on is for our listeners to understand, what are we trying to do business with? What exactly are we trying to sell? If not sell, then what are we trying to convey? What are we talking about? Once you know that this is the domain that the website is for, you automatically deduce the keywords related to it. And then you understand psychologically, what are the user intent for those keywords, where people would search for those keywords and would likely be relevant to your business.
So to sum it up, I would say keyword research is one which is relevant to your business for which you have the website because that is the foundation, and I would say 50% of your entire bandwidth for the entire SEO diaspora of implementation, 50% you should spend on keyword research. Once you do that, you have the keywords with you, you write good content in and around your keywords which defines the pages within your website.
You optimize your, you know, the basic title and meta description, which are a part of HTML language, and which are very, very easy to understand. And once we optimize them, you write content and make it very, very SEO friendly to ensure that Google is able to index and crawl your pages. These are the basic things that I would tell users to follow.
[7:24] Kaushal: Okay, great. So the first thing was keyword research, and based on the keyword research, work on the content. Once the content is published, do the On-Page [SEO] as you suggested. Some of our audience may not even be aware about the On-page part of SEO. Could you help them understand what’s On-Page?
What is On-Page SEO?
Let’s say, you read a blog, you see all the content, the images, the videos, these are all nothing but content. Now, content has three different varieties from Google’s perspective, one is a textual content, one is a video content, which is basically nothing but embedded videos or if you directly integrated video on your page, or images. So these are all a classification of content. So these are all On-Page factors, which you have control for, where you optimize pages for those keywords.
[8:59] Kaushal: Got it. Perfect! That helps. And since you have already initiated On-Page, could you also help our audience understand what is Off-page?
What is Off-Page SEO?
[9:12] Pinaki: Absolutely! So, SEO classifies into two main elements – one is On-Page, which I’ve already covered. The other one is Off-page. And as the name suggests, it is something that you do off the pages, which is something like link building, and you know, like link earning from external websites, or doing a lot of social media promotion for your website, for your blog, for your pages, doing PR activities, as well as online PR activity. So, these are all Off-page activities where you would get more visibility from the external audiences to your pages and also from [a] bot’s perspective. When I say bots, the way Google crawls any website is through something called a crawler, which is nothing but a bot, Google bot. We term it in the industry as Google bot.
So, what happens is when I say Off-page, one of the key metrics that we should focus on is how many people know about your brand, or your pages or your article. When I say know how many external websites are linking to your page or a set of pages of your blog. The more the merrier, and the higher the chances of your page ranking on page one. Okay? So these are the Off-page metrics, which are equally important, as compared to the On-Page stuff, and has to go hand in hand.
[10:31] Kaushal: Perfect! Thanks for sharing that information, Pinaki. And now where we have the overall perspective about what is SEO and what are some of the activities which need to be performed around SEO. According to you, what would be the top three parameters for SEO that can help in creating growth?
What are the top three parameters in SEO that help in creating growth?
However, coming back to an ideal way of SEO to envisage as a growth metric would be to ensure we follow a proper On-Page optimization, a proper Off-page optimization stream, and along with your technical SEO, which is basically your how fast your pages load when people visit your website through mobile or through desktop. And off lately in the industry, due to the very lesser timespan that the users have or focus that the users have in the industry nowadays, it’s become very, very important. And even from Google’s perspective, they love websites which load quickly, they love websites which show transitions quickly, and it also is a part of user experience. So again, three things – keyword research, On-Page, Off-Page. And last but not the least, the entire experience of your website.
[12:25] Kaushal: Perfect! Thanks…thanks for summarizing that too. And since you have been working in SEO for the last many years, if I may ask, how many years now almost in SEO?
[12:36] Pinaki: More than 12 years.
[12:38] Kaushal: Oh great! So, over these last 12 years, what would be the best growth story that you have created and you can share with our audience?
[12:46] Pinaki: Absolutely! So, there are two growth stories, one from Simplilearn, and the other one from Myntra.
[12:48] Kaushal: We would love to hear both.
[12:56] Pinaki: Yes, absolutely. So, I would highlight the Simplilearn part first where the challenge was Simplilearn…okay, so let me give you a little bit of brief about my role at Simplilearn. My role at Simplilearn was to ensure we have organic traffic acquisition KPI for quarter to quarter for Simplilearn.com platform. And the platform was specifically on desktop and mobile, but most of the business comes from desktop. And the idea was how we can increase organic traffic.
I was fortunate to have been reporting to a CTO who was an evangelist in SEO. So, it wasn’t that difficult for me to persuade certain initiatives or certain experiments that we endeavored to take. So, one of the greatest challenges was we were stuck at, kind of plateaued to a certain set of traffic numbers from organic channels. And the idea was how to increase it to 2x within the next I would say one to one and a half years.
Now, I say this because we have already reached a plateau. Now, the only opportunity that we had, and the only experiment that we could do is to have another module or another section where we can infuse content on a daily basis. So, we worked with a third party vendor, which used to… I would say aggregate content for us and deliver content within the system, non plagiarized content. When I say non-plagiarized, content basically can be copied as well. So, non-plagiarized are the content, which is much more dearer to Google bots. And we will, that’s a separate topic that we can discuss about later. But yeah, coming back to the experiment, we optimized these aggregated pages through the use of templates. We also made these pages solidly interlinked with each other, as well as our program pages, like somebody who searches for a digital marketing course. Tahere is a program page where you can go through the course details, course curriculum, and then buy it.
Now there is a lot of focus where we interlinked these pages with this program, just as a result, we improved the link…the internal link profile for those program pages. Now, that also had resulted in [the] improvement of ranking for these program pages. And later on, interestingly, what we saw is these article pages started getting more traffic for long tail keywords, or keywords where it’s more of content digestion rather than commercial keywords.
Now, that was very interesting for us to learn. And the other challenge was our company did not want users to come to the content pages, because they used to like you know, use the content and go away. But how can we marry those content pages and use those platforms to upsell our program pages as well, right? So, we again did a lot of UX integration and experiments to see how we can contextually drive links from content pages to our program pages. So, these are certain experiments that we did. And these experiments lasted for almost around four to five months. And I say four to five months because as I’ve mentioned earlier, our CTO was also an SEO evangelist. So things which typically take a lot of time to get implemented, used to get implemented, learn, unlearn and move forward quite quickly in Simplilearn. Although we did this for four to five months, we started reaping the results after three months of implementation, where we started seeing our traffic increasing to these content pages.
And then eventually, we did this experiment of upselling those content pages to program pages and thus building a fairly solid interlinking. So, we did not do anything Off-page at that point of time. And later on, we saw [an] almost 120% increase in daily traffic or monthly traffic because of this initiative. This was one of the major successes that I was a part of and was a great experiment. And that’s what comes first in my mind.
[17:04] Kaushal: Perfect! That’s a really great story. But you promised us that you are going to share two stories, so we would like to hear the Myntra story as well.
[17:12] Pinaki: Absolutely…absolutely! And the second, but not the least, is our Myntra story because Myntra, when I joined Myntra, Myntra had gone through a major rehaul of focusing only on app and they have completely deprecated their website. Now, that happened in, I think, early 2015. And in 2016, the industry realized that there are certain web loyalists, which has to be, like you know, come back to the web only. So, Myntra reinstated the website. And my job was to take the traffic levels…organic traffic levels of Myntra to the next level, which we had earlier. So, when I started with Myntra, the challenge was every initiative was completely app-driven.
So, institutionalizing why SEO is important was one of the prime factors, we had implemented a lot of small hacks, like the implementation of AMP, which is accelerated mobile pages, which is specifically optimized for mobile. We also implemented PWA, which is progressive web apps, which gives users an entirely app-like experience in mobile. While doing that, we did see a marginal improvement in our rankings as well as traffic.
But what the major learning or the major experiment that we did was when we partnered with Infidigit and I would like to thank Kaushal because that’s where we collectively worked with a lot of integration of components within the pages, which specifically entailed for content. And when I say content, I mean textual content, I mean relevant YouTube content which we already had. And Kaushal’s team had helped us with a lot of content, almost around thousands of thousands of pages. And when we saw that, we also saw that these pages started improving in ranking. And when I say ranking, I mean ranking in competition with the likes of Amazon, and Flipkart, and other leading e-commerce players. So, it was not an easy cake to beat the bigger players like Flipkart and Amazon. However, if you see the recent results, it’s absolutely amazing.
And I feel really proud of the Infidigit team as well as my team who have worked really hard to achieve this. So just to give you a basic idea about success metrics in Myntra, we definitely drove our daily traffic from 2018 to 2019 to almost I would say 80 to 90% improvement. So, which was a very good metric from a growth perspective. But growth doesn’t stand over there itself. It’s all about revenue as well. So, we also realized that our revenue share from SEO as a channel also increased by two folds, which was a really, really good learning and a metric for growth. And that’s where the entire organization started focusing more on SEO. So that’s a huge success for us. So, that was one of the greatest stories from the SEO perspective that I wanted to share.
[20:16] Kaushal: Thanks a lot for sharing that as well, Pinaki. It really helps understanding what all the elements went behind the optimization of these large brands like Myntra.
[20:26] Pinaki: Absolutely! Thank you so much again for collaborating with us at that given point of time where we had taken a lot of experiments and learned and unlearned things.
[20:37] Kaushal: Great! So, Pinaki moving on to the next question. We spoke a little about Off-page, but what role do you think that backlinks from other websites to your website play in terms of gaining the rankings?
What role backlinks play to increase the rankings of your website?
[20:49] Pinaki: I would say backlinks can destroy you or can improve you. Now why I say this is because there are two kinds of backlinks: one is backlinks from authoritative websites from websites which Google trusts from genuine websites, and the other one is backlinks from not so genuine or illicit websites, which Google flags off. Now in the industry, there are a lot of times when you will get links from websites that are not so good from Google’s perspective.
Now, that is a major hindrance from a growth perspective. But you sideline that activity and if you completely focus on building good backlinks which have good trust, good domain authority, which is dearer to Google’s eyes, to Google’s perspective, you will definitely see a major improvement. And I would say in terms of ratio, I would say 30 to 40% of your efforts in SEO should be going to On-page, and the remaining 50 to 60% more than half efforts should go to backlinks. And backlinks is also like nothing but complementing content marketing.
[21:54] Kaushal: Great! Nice to hear that. Pinaki, many of our audiences are at their early stage of getting into the digital marketing industry. And they would like to understand that if somebody wants to enter and get into the SEO industry, what would be the best way for them to enter?
What is the best way to enter the SEO industry?
[22:16] Pinaki: That’s a very interesting question, and I would love to share something that I did myself. Friends, don’t just vouch for theories or textbook knowledge or some articles on the internet or courses. I say that because what you need to do is, you create a website for yourself, okay, spend some money. And nowadays, you can easily create a website on any platform. So, it’s the easiest thing to do right now while I speak to you. Create a website for yourself, make it live, create content, optimize it for whatever On-page and Off-page stuff that we have discussed, and learn from it.
When you do that for yourself, you get your hands dirty, only then you will learn and that learning will stay for a lifetime. You experiment, you do end to end, you integrate everything that you possibly can on your website. Most of the platforms nowadays also gives you a very beautiful framework about handling SEO from their end as well. Use that, learn things. So I think that that is the best suggestion I would like to give to our audience who are very new to the SEO industry.
[23:21] Kaushal: Okay, but how would they go around and implement something like this? Do you advise them that okay, they create a website and then implement this or they wait and get onto a job or find some friend’s website and then do SEO on that website?
[23:38] Pinaki: Absolutely! So now, again, there are two different caveats to it. So, one is I mentioned if you want to learn this independently, the other one is you are fortunate enough to get into this industry in an organization and learn from your peers, learn who are already a part of the digital ecosystem, learn who are already a part of SEO, spend time with them, and understand what are they working on, collaborate with them cross-pollination of learnings. These are the things that will help but more so get your hands dirty with the things that you learn or you studied off. Now, when I say that, let’s say if you want to optimize your title tag for a particular page, you know that however, you have never done it. So, you do that. You do that by logging into your admin panel, optimize your research for keywords using Google Keyword Planner, you define the keywords, you sprinkle those keywords in the content, write content. So, you have to handle this end to end, only then you will be able to understand what works and what doesn’t.
[24:40] Kaushal: Great! That sounds good. Pinaki, my other question would be in terms of…I’ve been seeing you since 2016, and I remember the day when you joined Myntra as an SEO manager. It has been just around four years, 2016 to 2020, and you’ve grown from an SEO manager to now an Assistant General Manager of global customer search experience. You’ve created a wonderful story for yourself in terms of growth. But there are many other SEO folks out there who have not grown as well as you. What would be your suggestions to those people who are in the SEO industry and would like to grow in the industry, especially like you?
[25:25] Pinaki: Thanks, Kaushal. That’s a very, very important question that you’ve asked. And one of my experiences… in fact, one of the things that I learned from my mistakes in the industry is to quantify as much as possible all your successes. When I say that, I say that, you need to…whatever smaller successes that you see in your industry, specifically in SEO or any other industry. Okay? You need to escalate or share or make it more feasible with your stakeholders.
You need to quantify that it’s not only limited to traffic – SEO or SEM or any other digital marketing inputs, are not only related to traffic. Show how this improves your business, show how this improves your branding, show how this improves your top of the mind. Because these are the metrics which are easily digested by t