Interview With Cyrus Shepard

Lets Talks SEO: Interview With Cyrus Shepard

I would like to use this opportunity to say thanks to Moosa Hemani, who initially introduced me to him, and since then, I am a fan. He is smart, intelligent, and loves to share his knowledge when it comes to SEO and Digital Marketing.

He is the founder of Zyppy, and if you look at the website, their primary mission objectives include educating people. He is none other than my favorite Cyrus Shepard.

Cyrus, thank you for your time, and I will try not to bore you with repetitive questions so that you have fun answering the questions and our readers can get tons of new information and knowledge out of this interview.

Question: Cyrus, before I start with my questions, I would love to know more about Zyppy and what are you planning with that in the coming months? Are you guys building some kind of SEO software? I would love to know the details of that.

Short answer: yes! We’ve been working hard all year building out one of my dream SEO tools. Since working with SEO software for 10+ years, I can tell you that the majority of people who purchase SEO software simply want one thing – improved organic traffic. The problem with most SEO software is that it gives you data, and you have to work intelligently to turn that data into traffic. With Zyppy, we hope to remove one of those steps. Our software is designed to give you data and boost your traffic much more quickly. At this point, I can’t tell you exactly what it does, but if you watch some of my old webinars you might have a pretty good hint.

Question: SEO is getting more and more difficult with the passage of time. Things that used to work back in the days may be considered as spam. So, my question is, in your opinion, how hard SEO has become and where do you see it’s going in the next 5 years? How SEOs of today can be prepared for the 5 next years to come?

Strangely, 80% of the SEO I did 5, or even 10, years ago still works today. I’d say today I focus more on a few areas such as user engagement, structured data, and speed. While most other areas are very much the same – especially the value of links. The main difference though between today and five years ago is that Google seems to ignore/devalue many more links. Regardless, I believe the most important signals in the future to focus on will be around user experience and information consensus. Google continually moves towards a “trust” model and their ability to ascertain “facts” unfortunately means a more homogenized web.

Question: If I ask you about your 3 go-to Tools when it comes to SEO, what would they be?

  • 1. Google Search Console
  • 2. Moz (but you knew this, right? 🙂
  • 3. Wayback Machine

Question: When it comes to keyword research, do you think with mobile and voice searches increasing, it has changed the way people do keyword research, or should they change as per your opinion?

This is a great question. Practically speaking, keyword data from 3rd party tools tends to be biased towards desktop, so I suspect the SEO industry as a whole is not keeping up with mobile/voice trends. In general, I feel most folks don’t do enough keyword research anyway. A good starting point could be to simply look at Google Search Console queries and filter by device type. What you compare desktop to mobile queries, the results may surprise you.

Question: With the latest updates in Google with regards to SEO like passage-based indexing, core web vitals, and others, do you think in the coming years, the importance of link building/link acquisition will drop significantly?

Honestly, I expect links to continue to be important, at least for the next several years. I think what’s changed in the past few years is that while links are necessary to get you to the first page of Google results, they alone can no longer necessarily get you to the number one spot. Google seems to be using more user experience and user satisfaction signals to rank top results. But you still need links to even be in consideration, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Question: Google’s latest update is passage-based indexing, so I wanted to know your opinion about it. Moreover, will you suggest content creators to act and create content any differently because of this new update?

From my limited understanding, Passage-based Indexing will boost the ranking of pages with good passages in cases when they don’t already have a great webpage to answer the query. In other words, I expect this will roll out to mostly long-tail, low volume queries. If true, this would limit the optimization potential – especially considering Google is displaying these like Featured Snippets, so I wouldn’t expect a super-high CTR. That said, we really won’t know until we see it fully rolled out. My advice is to wait and see.

Question: HTTP vs. HTTPs: We get it that Google wants the website to be on HTTPs, it’s somewhat a ranking factor, too, but my question is, is it ok to get a link back from a non-HTTPs website? Or do you think it’s ok to get a link from any website that is relevant to your subject audience regardless of HTTPS or not?

Interesting question! My two biggest priorities when pursuing backlinks are the topicality of the linking page, and the authority of the website. (I think too many people focus on anchor text from irrelevant pages.) But to answer your question, in theory, it may be marginally more important to get a link from a site using HTTPS, but the difference is likely so small, if any at all, that practically I wouldn’t worry about it.

Question: When it comes to ecommerce SEO, what is the one advice you will give to store owners that will have an immediate and direct impact on their conversions?

People won’t like it, but the answer is “free shipping.” Work it into your price. It literally works every time.

Question: What is your opinion on link building? How important is that, and what are the 3 things you will consider when building links for your website or for your clients?

I love link building! Mistakes I often see people make is focusing too much on press links and not enough on resource pages. Also focusing too much on anchor text instead of the topicality of the page. Personally, I focus on 25% building the “right” external links and 75% optimizing my internal link flow. If you do it right, you only need a few good external links to rank competitively for a lot of niches.

Question: As this is the last question, if someone is making a digital marketing movie and they reached out to you to name it, what would you named it?

“Click Magic”

The movie name really got us! In fact, we cannot wait for clever documentaries or movies being produced to understand the functioning of Google.

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