State of SEO in 2020 – In a Conversation with Iftekhar Ahmed, Founder of iftiSEO
Hi Everyone, this is Animesh & welcome back to another fresh & knowledge packed episode of the Marketing Mavericks Interview Series.
Today we have SEO Expert & Evangelist Iftekhar Ahmed with us, Founder of iftiSEO. A name that needs no introduction in the SEO & Blogging community.
Writing an Article is easy but Ranking it on Google is always a challenging task.
This was the reason he started iftiSEO back in 2014 with an aim to learn & share his own experiments/ findings on SEO with the community. But gradually it became so popular that today iftiSEO is one of the most sought-after destinations among all aspiring Marketers, Bloggers & Entrepreneurs.
Now standing in 2020, Iftekhar runs multiple highly profitable online ventures, provides consulting to businesses/ entrepreneurs besides running his flagship digital property.
So today in this session, you will not only learn how you will become a kick-ass SEO professional but we will also discuss many interesting things related to the SEO/ Search ecosystem, which will eventually help you to grow your online business to a great extent.
So, without taking much time let’s roll the Interview,
Animesh: Hi Iftekhar, welcome to the Marketing Mavericks Interview Series. It’s our real pleasure to have you today among the JobsFrontier community. So today we all want to know about Iftekhar Ahmed a bit personally.
Iftekhar: Thanks for having me on this interview series.
So, I am from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, but I spent most of my life in Saudi Arabia. I came back to India in 2011 and did Btech in Computer Science.
Being new in India, the only thing I had was my laptop and I started exploring different things. This brought me to hacking and I spent my entire school time in Hacking.
That’s the beginning for me.
Animesh: You had started your journey in SEO & Blogging from a very young age. At an age when most of the teenagers can’t even decide in which stream they want to pursue their career, you had started your blog “iftiSEO”! So how did that happen? What intrigued you to take such a bold decision?
Iftekhar: While exploring the internet I somehow stumbled on some articles that explained how to make money online. I got excited about it as I had plenty of free time, especially because my friend circle in India was small and new.
I started with freelancing sites, signed up almost on every big site.
The next question was, what do I sell? Well, I found that logo designing is a good service to start with. So, I started selling logo designing gigs. By the way, I made logos using various Logo Maker software available on the web.
My logo designing gigs got me first $100 from sites like SEOClerks and Freelancer.com
That was the time when I got sure about online earning. I explored more options on what else I can do and it brought me to blogger.com
This free platform helped me build random blogs. I first tested with random blogs and once I got an idea about How the platform works, I launched iftiSEO.
Back then, I didn’t even buy the domain. Finally, I bought the domain on 21st Jan 2014 and that’s how iftiSEO was started.
Animesh: Okey, that’s really cool. So, now what’s the future plan for iftiSEO? Where do you wanna see yourself after 10 years from now?
Iftekhar: During the last few months, I have been very inactive due to different other projects, but I plan to cover more topics on iftiSEO. The only plan for iftiSEO.com is to have beginner-friendly guides around all topics related to SEO, Blogging, WordPress, and Online Earning.
Regarding your next question, well, I don’t see that far in life. All I can say is,
I will be blogging happily, running multiple businesses, and helping new bloggers for free.
Animesh: Name a few Resources that you often visit to keep yourself updated regarding SEO & Search Ecosystem? Because when I ask this question to others, many of them take yours as a reference but how Ifti himself keep himself updated?
Iftekhar: I don’t follow any single blog for my source of info. I rather depend a lot on my social media feed and group for such information. If there is some really important update, info, or case study, it will come in my feed.
But if you still want me to name a few resources,
I would recommend you to check out Detailed.com and Gaps.com. Incredible insightful case studies can be found on these sites.
Animesh: What advice you want to give to all the aspirants who want to build a career in Digital Marketing? Do you think that having a flare of writing content is essential to become a successful digital marketer?
Iftekhar: I have 2 things to say here,
- First & foremost, Digital Marketing or Making Money Online is not a piece of cake. It is really tough and challenging. It may sound simple from the mouth of people who sell courses but if you ask me, it is really difficult.
- The second thing is, you need a hell lot of patience to become a successful digital marketer.
All other advice can be found everywhere else but the above 2 needs to be highlighted.
And yes, if your writing is excellent and appealing, you can do really well. But again it is just one skill and can’t really help if you lack other skills. Digital Marketing is all about having multiple skills.
Animesh: You are absolutely right Ifti, even I also believe that becoming an expert in this field requires a hell lot of patience & knowledge in multiple areas. Let’s move on to the next question,
State of SEO in 2020!!! Back in 2013 when you started to date SEO has changed a lot. Definitely, there are some evergreen principles but still. So, what does SEO means these days?
Iftekhar: SEO was and is always about backlinks and content. I would give backlinks a higher priority.
The thing that changes is “How Google treats different backlinks?”. Just focus on quality backlinks and you can be safer than others. 😉
Animesh: How do you see SEO over Paid Marketing? For long term success which one do you think is more effective?
Iftekhar: Paid marketing has its own benefits and I never recommend brands to stop doing paid ads. Paid ads can bring instant sales or traffic.
But for the long term, you should always work on a content marketing plan of your website. SEO can really be beneficial for the long term.
However, there are some industries or businesses where SEO may not play that big of a role. So, in the end, it also comes down to different industries, niches, and businesses.
Animesh: How is SEO going to be changed in the era of AI, VR, and IoT?
Iftekhar: Google is working a lot on its algo and the recent BERT update was a fine example of it. Voice searches are increasing, audio results are common, and video content is seeing a good increase in consumption.
Your website or content should always be ready and fine-tuned according to these new things coming in the future.
Don’t take Google as a bot now, treat it as human while optimizing your content and website. This should help you cope with the changes coming in the future.
Animesh: Many would love to know what SEO techniques you personally follow to get the top position of the search result? (Share 5 Tricks of the trade)
Iftekhar: I will keep the answer in pointers;
- Buy Quality Contextual Links from Sites that generally don’t sell links in public
- Update your top-performing content every month.
- Publish content frequently – It matters a lot for me.
- Read about TF-IDF, EAT and YMYL – Implement them
- Never over-optimize content for keywords – Google is intelligent enough to identify the keywords you intend to target.
Animesh: Link Building Secrets from iftiSEO !!! What will be your Suggestion for building an effective backlinking strategy?
Iftekhar: Once again, I will share points;
- PBN Works great – If you have the budget go for it.
- Build Money sites on Expired domains (Easier and Faster to rank – Provided your domain is good)
- Keep your focus on quality backlinks Only. I only prefer buying contextual links from websites with decent organic traffic.
- Don’t just build links to every post or page. Build homepage authority first.
- Always identify and build links for limited posts/pages. Don’t build links for every post you write. It won’t help in the long term.
Animesh: Top 5 Tools that every beginner in SEO should have in their toolbox!
- Google Trends
- Copyscape or Quetext (For Plagiarism) – I use a plag checker since I have 15-20 writers who provide me content daily. A newbie might not need this.
- Google Sheets or A To-Do List planner to keep you organized. You can use the Notion app for this.
Animesh: Blogging vs Vlogging! Which is more effective in the current scenario. What would be your preferred way if you had to start your journey again in 2020?
Iftekhar: It all comes down to what you want to talk about. Video content is consumed in mass numbers but it is also not an easy path. I will still recommend having a blog.
Animesh: Now last but not the least, would you like to share a few words about the work we are doing at JobsFrontier?
Iftekhar: You guys are doing a great job by helping students find the right destination. A lot of students want to enter digital marketing but they fail to find the right job.
Your platform is really a great place for every aspiring Digital Marketer. I myself plan to put some jobs on your platform.
Animesh: You are always welcome. Thanks a lot, Iftikhar for such a great 1 to 1 session and sharing some really valuable insight for the Digital Marketing community.
Conclusion: So that’s all, I hope you all have enjoyed this episode & the advice/ pro-tips Iftekhar has given here will help you to uplift your Digital Marketing Career.
So, please share this interview with your friends & colleagues, it might help them also.