56: Michael King: Decoding Search Engine Algorithms

What’s up everyone, on the show today we have one of the planet’s leading search engine marketers. We’re joined by Mike King. He’s the founder and CEO of iPullRank, an awarding-winning SEO agency. 

In 2020 he was named Search Marketer of the Year by Search Engine Land, and has been a Global Associate for Moz for more than 10 years. He’s been on the cutting edge of technical SEO his entire career, and he’s currently working on an upcoming book, the science of SEO: Decoding Search Engine Algorithms.

He’s a confident introvert and proud Philly native, but these days he pulls rank in a cabana in South Beach, wearing Nike Air Max 1s, and listening to Snoh Aalegra. Mike’s also a Dad, a freestyle rapper, and a highly-engaging keynote speaker. 

Mike, it’s great to have you on the show – thanks so much for your time.

Career path to starting your own agency

  • You got your start as a webmaster working for Microsoft in 1996. Since then, you have worked in-house in numerous different SEO roles. 
  • Eventually, however, you founded iPullRank, an award winning agency. What prompted you to start your own agency? 
  • You started iPullRank 8 years ago, today your team is 15+ full time people. You’ve said that you love your team, but not in the “we’re a family” kind of way but rather in the “I respect these people and I want us all to win together” way. Talk to us about the kind of agency you built and what sets you apart?

The art of an SEO audit

  • I remember a few years ago when we worked with you and you and your team presented us with what I can only call an epic SEO audit. One thing that impressed me the most was that everything you outlined was practical and had clear implementation.
  • Audits get a bit of a bad wrap. I’ve seen a few reports passed off as SEO audits which are effectively S.E.M.Rush or Ahrefs audits with a logo replacement.
    • What should all SEOs be thinking about when they start a client audit? What’s the secret sauce of a great SEO audit.

SEO is the testing we did along the way

  • A theme in your approach to SEO is testing rather than relying on the data provided by Google or other tools. Everyone is familiar with A/B testing things like landing pages and subject lines.
  • What does testing in the SEO context look like? Can you give our listeners a primer?

To code or not to code?

  • I’ve been learning to code for a few years now. While I haven’t found too many practical applications to coding in my day job, I’ve personally found it fun to learn and gratifying to speak more at eye-level with devs
  • You have a strong background in coding. Do you think it’s an important or even an essential skill for modern marketers? What advice do you have for folks thinking about learning to code? 

The end of Universal Analytics

The one constant in SEO land is change. Though the end of Universal Analytics seems to be hitting everyone a bit different. What’s your take on this shift to Google Analytics 4? How are people preparing? Are people prepared?

Future-proofing for SEO

  • Algorithm changes and updates are effectively part of the SEOs daily regimen. The only constant is change. 
  • How do you future-proof your website/brand against future updates? Is there a technology solution such as adopting modern frameworks like React and Gatsby with a headless CMS or is it by acquiring a certain set of skills as a contributor to be proactive (when possible) and reactive (when needed)? 

Top SEOs of 2032 

  • In 2020 you were named Search Marketer of the Year by Search Engine Land. First, congrats on the accomplishment! Second, I’d like to get your perspective on the future of SEO and what it’ll take to be named Search Marketer of the Year in 2030?
  • What skills will the top SEOs have in 10 years? If you were starting today, where would you invest in yourself?

Technical SEO & Modern Digital Marketing

  • In 2016 you wrote a piece for the Moz blog on the technical SEO renaissance. You cover a lot of ground in that piece, but reading it now, it holds up incredibly well. Some of what you wrote verges on the prophetic, particularly when you think about Core Web Vitals and the importance of page speed and user experience.
  • Modern SEO feels remarkably similar to developing a SaaS application – web teams need to focus on UX, performance, utility and, of course, content. If you were to write that piece today, what would your call to action be? 

Science of SEO Book

  • You’ve got a book coming out next year titled the “The Science of SEO: Decoding Search Engine Algorithms”
  • What inspired you to write this book? What do you hope SEOs will get out of this book?

Happiness, balance, success

  • The first line in your Twitter bio is dedicated to your daughters and you’re a firm believer in family over everything. You run a multi million dollar digital marketing agency, work with some of the top brands on the planet, regularly speak at conferences, you’re writing a book, and rapping on the side…
  • How do you find balance in your life? What does happiness and success look like to Mike King?

Mike’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/iPullRank
Mike’s Agency: https://ipullrank.com/
Pre-order Mike’s book: The Science of SEO
Mike’s site: https://bestrapperever.com/
Mike’s new single: “Made It” with platinum recording artist Musiq Soulchild


Intro music by Wowa via Unminus
Outro music by Mic King – “The Promise” iCONIC EP
Cover art created by SLB

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