SEO in 2017 and Leveraging International Opportunities with Doug Pierce

Michael MicheliniBusiness, Podcast, Sales0 Comments

We are in the year of the Rooster! It is my year, and I hope your year too! Less than 2 months away from our second annual Cross Border Summit on April 21-22 – for more info – we are coming back from Chinese New Year and it is lining up to be bigger and better than last year!

Now for this week’s show – I was his best man in his wedding in Thailand this summer, and am proud to get him on the show – let’s listen in!

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Doug Pierce

    Always enjoy the story of how we met – guess you were searching google for Hong Kong apartments – because I remember you emailing me about it just after I shared a photo of my cramped apartment in Tin Hau!

  • Internet Marketing

    You are definitely one of the more analytical dudes I know! Tommy Griffith and I were talking about you in Bangkok and he agreed with me – when did you get started with internet marketing / being analytical?

  • Does location matter?

    I guess location doesn’t matter for internet marketing – thus why you moved from NYC over to HK/China right? Any other reasons you hopped on this side?

  • Tactics

    So let’s get into the tactics here –

  • SEO Market Demands

    To me, personally, I have heard less demands for “SEO” lately and more on social media, what are your thoughts of the current SEO market?

  • SEO misconceptions

    What are common misconceptions people do on their site with SEO?

  • Backlinks

    Backlinks in 2017 – matter? Dofollow,nofollow – that always confused me, Page rank, etc all BS now?

  • Content and Distribution

    Just create quality content – is that the name of the game? Honestly for Global From Asia here, we’re trying our best with podcasts, blogs, and then some video blogs on my personal blog – what are you thinking of content vs distribution?

  • Marketing Strategies

    Amazon FBA and SEO, or Amazon SEO – similar idea here? I know we have a ton of FBA business owners listening. They had a big update late last year with the review “slap” – and now are doing off-amazon strategies, SEO being one?

  • Are Domains Important?

    Domains matter? What about .com. .hk , .agency, .biz and the plethora of others – should we have to get the .com ? I haven’t seen many obscure ones ranking in google from my own personal search history – maybe those domains just aren’t old / authoritative enough yet?

  • Domain consolidation

    One authority site or a bunch of smaller sites? I have a ton of domains, as I feel many others do. I have been over time consolidating them / forwarding the domains to sub pages of Global From Asia – for example China business workshop .com goes to and Cross border Summit .com goes to – agree/disagree with doing something like this?

  • Improving website presence

    Action items for listeners – what can they do to improve their website presence today, in 2017, that is somewhat new in the past year or so?

  • New site registration

    Someone registering a new site / business – I’ve even heard of people saying don’t bother with a website, still needed in 2017? Or can we get by with all social?

  • Contact

    How can people reach out Doug?

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Episode Length 25:42

Thank you Doug! And I definitely say he is the guy to reach out to if you are looking for internet marketing here in Hong Kong and around the world.

Just keep on rocking everyone, stay on top of your game – and no matter what others tell you – do what you like to do. That is a problem I have had in the past – I was influenced by what other said – so keep your ears to the ground, but also follow your heart – take care, i’m out – peace!

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Podcast Transcription

“The ratio of this is, if you spend 20% creating a content and 80% of the time should be promoting that content.”

Welcome to the Global From Asia podcast where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight up actionable advice and now your host, Michael Michelini.

Mike: We are in the Year of the Rooster and it is my year, I hope it’s your year, too. Whether you’re rooster or cock or not. And it’s less than 2 months away now for our 2nd Annual Cross Border Summit, April 20th and 21st, for more info. Got some great speakers lined up and were got to be back in full force after a restful Chinese New Year. Lining up great speakers and other fun stuff evening events as well. Bigger and better than last year. Even though last year was amazing and the highlight of my year. And now for this week’s show. I was the best man in his wedding in Thailand this past summer. Friends for many years, Doug Pierce as CEO Expert, Analytic Guru and the dude is just great. He shares a lot of information about internet marketing in 2017. Some changes happening, leveraging international opportunities as well. So let’s listen in.

Mike: Okay, we’re live. We are here in, I don’t know is it Zhonghuan? Hong Kong Zhonghuan with my buddy, Doug Pierce. How is it going?

Doug: Hi Mike, I’m doing good.

Mike: Cool man. So we finally get you on the show. We’ve been talking about his for while. I was like discussing how we had met and become really good friends. I’ve had my personal blog, it’s got to be 10 years old in March, my blog. Not the Global From Asia but Mike’s Blog. I remember the email. I should dig it out but you’re looking for apartments in Hong Kong and you found one of my small apartment pictures in Hong Kong and asked me some questions about the cost and doing a research. You’re always a very detailed oriented person. So it was cool man and we become great friends and as the best man in your wedding in Thailand. That was a half and year ago, right?

Doug: Yeah, I forget whatever I’m searching at that time. And we’ve been friends ever since.

Mike: Yeah man. You’re doing really well, you have an SEO agency. Maybe you want to introduce what you’re doing here in Hong Kong.

Doug: Yes. So, I run an SEO agency in Hong Kong. Few services that we do: number 1, being an SEO; second, we pick on advertising and to be good at those two, we really have to be good in analytics. So those few services we’re running up.

Mike: Very cool. And we both have common mutual friend. We’ve met separately Tommy Griffith, he might be listening. He listens to some of our shows here. And he’s, can we disclosed what he does here. (laughing)

Doug: He’s not an international spy.

Mike: He’s an internet marketer in San Francisco and he comes out for some events in Bangkok. He met you in Hong Kong few months ago, right? So what’s up Tommy if you are listening. Internet marketing is obviously growing industry and today we got to talk 2017, my site has been changing rankings lately. And I think everybody is updated to looking at analytics and some things happening. So we got to talk about that but maybe first how did you end up here in Hong Kong, in Asia in general I mean. I know you were usually talk, New York, so what’s your Hong Kong story?

Doug: So, I’ll get started, I did an internship in Singapore at Apple. I really liked it. I came back to the US, few years in New York. I learned Chinese in college, I took courses but I wasn’t really using it. And I liked the idea of living in China and continuing Chinese learning in international business, sort of adventure. And eventually I made my way to be back here.

Mike: Very cool. So, I mean, you’re office here. Life is going so fast, it’s amazing. So, now let’s take into some tactics, let’s give some value to listeners. SEO, I guess obviously people should know what that is. If you’re business people, about search engine optimization and there’s been sometimes a little bit of a dirty word I think. Sometimes people are not sure of what to think of when they hear SEO. I mean there’s been some bad press in the past. So, you know there’s some meaning when they talked about social media, getting more popular, maybe, how is that whole SEO market going on right now?

Doug: So, the way I would define SEO is you try to influence the signals that are search engine look for it and your favorite. So, it’s not necessarily bad that you are trying to influence Google. It’s kind of what Google wants. They want to serve the most relevant results and a few website does that. Of course you should deserve the clicks, multiple search. But historically, SEO has been kind of like can be type of a practice on, up until, essentially every time Google makes a change in the algorithm. Stop starts improving and I think it’s more legitimized and more, it’s a lots of association in the Filipino’s trying to do link on the masters.

Mike: I saw a picture once an article, a guy at a conference wearing a tshirt and on the back it says I sell backlinks.

Doug: I’m sure would love that. They have a web spam on the Google.

Mike: So, I do agree that it’s getting cleaned up. I think almost Google has been seems to me like changing like trying to game of fights, they don’t update their page rank anymore, they don’t have this public or maybe i don’t follow as much but there’s not, is there an update, I heard it is continuously updating now or it does not like this dates worth thing happening anymore. Is that something?

Doug: Yeah, Google has been making so many changes. I think it’s 200 or few hundred per year that, is not really big moments they deal everything at one. It’s just a continuous update. Imagine like instead of buying a new version of windows, now it does, you’ll get a notice in your computer and it changes and you can upgrade, just like anybody out there.

Mike: Got it. I remember the days, the whole page rank was updated. Trying to refresh your page and look at the PR3 and PR4 and people look at the, they don’t show the backlinks anymore at least not Google. They keep taking away more and more data from us, I feel. It’s kind of annoying. But maybe some misconception so you just say it’s okay to do SEO, it’s okay to try and improve your ranking. So, maybe what are some reasons why people think it’s bad or some misconceptions?

Doug: Probably the biggest misconceptions I see is people think the, among the traffic, the website it gets, should matter to Google sending even more traffic from search Google site. Even there’s no really relation, even if you have a proper way about traffic website. If you don’t have SEO fundamental in place it’s not going to translate to more clicks on Google. The thing I would say is just the amount of writing, that’s necessary if you want to do SEO well. Because if you want to rank on something, you absolutely need to have a page about that topic and it has be thorough research and provide quality. You shouldn’t expect a rank if you don’t have content.

Mike: Definitely. And then backlinks, I still believe they are important to Google but it’s not like back in the days where you would buy backlinks or maybe still can buy maybe it’s not like the quantity, right? I remember don’t follow, do follow which always kind of confuse to me. I think Google even made that, told people use that, is that even matter anymore?

Doug: I think that’s probably one of the reasons why pagerank. They stop publicly showing that. Just because people will get all cut off and how much page rank it has they got to link and it would, stored people like perception of link all in. I mean, the most important thing is of course quality so if you’re getting, if you’re getting the link from a high domain authority site, it’s not relevant to the topic of your site, it’s probably not got to help as much as if you got a bunch of links from lower quality, or lower authority sites. When it comes to backlink stuff, like the main authority, what’s the anchor tax, is the link within the main content of the site, or was it a link in a template area like a sidebar or footer that would make a difference on no follow, I mean if it’s no following, that means literally Google does not follow that link. So lot of people they asked me if we post more on Facebook, will that helps us build links. And the answer is no because Facebook is a wolf garden and everything has no followed. So, building is probably the hardest part of SEO, once you have the fundamental technical part down and once you have the content then it comes to link building.

Mike: Which is cool quality content. Here at Global From Asia, you give me some tips every once in awhile, I appreciate on the site. We tried our best to good quality content regular content, podcast, blogs, some videos. Basically that’s the common answer is quality content. It’s still probably the text content as far as Google is concerned. If you want to do tricks but I think is text content. But then also ive realized, I’ve almost guilty of just making content but not distributing content. Like some people I read about saying, you should really spend more time getting those back links, getting those social media links, getting people to know about your site than just writing stuff. Is that true in it? Or is there some ratio or ideas?

Doug: The ratio of this is, if you spend 20% creating a content and 80% of the time should be promoting that content.

Mike: Honestly, I have trouble, I have write a lot, I don’t distribute, I got to out there or more honestly. Or if listeners want to help me, share this amazing podcast or Doug, help promote I guess. Let’s go for next question. I know there’s lots of FBA, Amazon FBA listeners and they’re kind of still adjusting a lot, I mean wechat groups and others and people are complaining about updates. I know you’re not, it’s not your specialty but in Amazon a lot of times you would just kind of like away from products get back, get reviews and then we get organic ranking in Amazon. but there was some updates that kind of slap that, is that I would call it. So now a lot of people are doing off Amazon strategies, so I guess i’m almost kind of be back to normal Google SEO? Not sure if you want something to cover here, I just hear a lot of business owners complaining about having trouble getting sales in Amazon now and they probably doing like stuff today like making a blog, driving traffic to their Amazon, these things.

Doug: With Amazon, I’m sure they’re selling but I think it’s a supplementary. Sales in general whatever you’re selling. So, it’s not really a question on what should I do, only Amazon or only my website. I think possibly if you’re just starting out doing only Amazon first, is a good idea. Like a minimum viable product. Once you see transaction, you would absolutely don’t want to have Amazon taking cut of every transaction and depending on the competition, you probably better off moving to your own website. Plus a question of which companies algorithm do you trust more. Google supposedly don’t be evil but or Amazon which has that the worst corporate reputation on Google. And if for yourselves versus Google. You just want of many, many websites versus not one of many sellers in Amazon. I would go with Google in terms of I think more transparent.

Mike: True, but their balls maybe little evil. I guess sales have different, they are not aligned fully with us totally, always. I think both of them prioritize the customer, which is a good point to bring up, right? The user for Google is not the webmaster, not the site owner, users actually are the person searching, that’s what they’re trying to primarily take care of. And I think Google, I mean Amazon also primarily targeting or helping the buyer. As a business owner, we’re not the top number 1, we’re number 2 or 3, right in both of these search engines.

Doug: Google have to remain customer, I mean the person searching they want to keep happy and if you keep searching that means eventually click an ad. So the advertiser has to give a relevant ads and then the Google has to facilitate all these. Those 3 guys if they’re happy then everything can keep moving on.

Mike: True. So, domains. This is one I know, we’re talking about internationally today. This is definitely something that I see a lot in Asia, .hk, .cn, and now there’s all these .agency, .biz, .club, I don’t even know anymore. I personally don’t know, I haven’t seen much of this ranking in Google when I searched, I’m not sure if you have seen that. Or if you’re working with clients or from your own experience. But do you think these other top level domains are relevant or should be paid attention to. I know sometimes start ups have trouble getting the .com and then they’ll maybe buy .co or something else. What are your thoughts there?

Doug: From what I know, in terms of the ability to rank with SEO, it doesn’t matter too much. In terms of branding I think it matters. Because if you’re doing something like .club, I mean most people don’t know that it even exist. And if they see that written somewhere they might not even know that’s a website. I guess the other thing other new domain extension, if you’re doing any type of SCM, there’s a limit for how long that you can be on the ad. So if it’s really a long domain extension, you probably not optimizing the number of few words in your landing URL and adwords.

Mike: Got it. that’s good point and I think on that one. Alright so the .com, I still think .com seems to be the main value, right? I would say, or maybe just get mine branding .com instead of put branding .biz or something.

Doug: I see a lot of companies whether be especially if it’s an app, it’ll be like get whatever.

Mike: Or whatever Just be creative guys. Like what Doug said, focus on quality content and it can still rank even if some squatter that has your preferred domain name waiting for you to buy it later. Alright and now, kind of my own personal question, I think now the trending is the authority site or maybe back in the day having lots of kind of small sites to push up one site might be effective. Seems like what i’ve noticed is consolidation in domains and sites to like having one big website rather than lots of small websites to be more powerful or stronger. So, I think listeners might hear me saying like which are in the conference. But, could have set up that server and hosting but instead I support it to for a couple of reasons. One is like hosting the account and the other is supposedly is probably better to have everything on one site for Google and authority. I don’t know, it’s tricky question but maybe generally give us some examples of what you think.

Doug: In general, I will not argue with you it’s better to have a new session of your site be a sub-folder of your existing domain. I’m not sure if either new domain or subdomain. Either those would mean, start it from scratch in terms of authority. Because other websites will link to existing domain that’s got to help that content rank better. So, if I just add a new page of the existing domain that existing authority should flow to the new page. Some reasons that people would not do that I think would be, you probably see it like car commercial would be like, it’s not got to say it will be like something more brand catchy. But even if they do that they’ll have that redirect to or whatever. I guess there are reason why people may want to start a new domain, just because when you’re like with a big corporation and you can’t really get access and change stuff. It has to be on the main corporate domain. i think it will be beneficial to start your own just to get something out there and prove it until you could take control of the bigger domain.

Mike: True. I hope that helps some people, some insights and perspective. So, we’re in 2017 now, life is going so fast. What can people, maybe we talked about before the recording, somebody’s new buzz words Google’s throwing out there there. What should people be aware of now?

Doug: I think the most important thing is to focus on mobile. I think within the last year,probably one of the biggest changes in Google is they’re got to be doing the mobile only index. Index meaning they’re huge database of all the websites that they crawled. So instead when deciding we’re website ranks higher or lower than another based on the desktop version of its site, they’ll got to be looking first at the mobile version of your site. So, even if your desktop site is great and it’s been getting traffic for years, if the mobile site sucks then if that’s what Google is looking at that could affect your ranking. So, it’s really making sure that you run your website through pagespeed inside which is a test control to check how fast it loads. And just making sure that it’s mobile friendly. So, if someone with fat fingers, could use it and navigate. I guess the big thing is the rank brain from Google. So, basically its got to be like a machine running component of Google’s algorithm. I guess how it works from my understanding, I guess it’s kind of explain machine running.

Mike: I hope everybody can follow this. I don’t want the speeches 101. I want this podcast to be deep. So don’t worry, I think people are smart listeners. I think they get maybe the basic machine learning, right?

Doug: The idea is, you don’t really know when the machine learns. It doesn’t, you don’t really know the inputs that it uses to drive its outputs. So, what could happen potentially is your site might do worst in Google but you don’t really know why and there’s no information from Google about why that is. It’s just the rank run component of the algorithm, somehow determined your site didn’t deserve as high ranking as you probably can get does. and it’s kind of black box so it’s kind of concerns me in terms of SEO. I think it’s already like one of the top 3 factors in terms of Google algorithm now. So it’s getting.

Mike: And you said Google doesn’t even know how it does run, right? Its kind its own brand. Well it’s not like Google will tell you anyways if you asked. But now they don’t even know, right? I wonder if there’s be like reconsideration request site, its like if you rank you get the index or something, however that it work, rank brain. Interesting. Maybe people listening today 2017 are intimidated. A lot of people, I know we talked before the show, might be hard to believe for you but some people don’t even bother for website like they just do Amazon only or there’s got to be social only. I think it should get a website, right? How can they start improving, is it register domain, get a park domain like an email. Or people are sometimes a little bit overwhelmed.

Doug: Yeah, I guess to give a step by step to start totally from scratch. Register domain, throw up some easy CMS, once you have that, start writing, starting sending out Google analytics. Because you’ll be able to track what is happening. Or where the traffic is coming from. And set up Google search council. Both of those are free from Google. It just takes some snippet or codes at your site. And then as you write more, you’ll see more data from both Google analytics and Google search council. You could see how the content is doing in terms of keywords, position, and that’s kind of like first step optimizing.

Mike: Yeah it’s kind of a process. I know a lot of times, people get excited on SEO and they start the website and then they don’t see anything happening and they kind of give up. And then 6 months later, ohh people are finding me or you should still be doing something. Especially beginning, don’t expect, of course you tell clients the whole time, even listeners its got to take at least a few months normally to see some results. don’t get too discouraged.

Doug: Setting expectations in terms of SEO. don’t try to go after the 1 or 2 keywords right away. Start long tails. Starts on really what you know and write about that.

Mike: Great Doug! So thank you so much for sharing and how can people find you and your business.

Doug: I’ll give my personal email address It’s D O U G @ C O G N E Y .com.

Mike : Great.

Doug: Or you can check our website

Mike: Do follow him.

Doug: Do follow, please.

Mike: Alright, thanks so much Doug.

Doug: Thanks Mike.

Mike: Thank you Doug and definitely say hi if you’re looking for internet marketing help here in Hong Kong or anywhere in the world. He is a machine, he really know this stuff and always gives me some good tips at Global From Asia website as well as other projects. Everybody just keep on rocking, its got to be amazing year, we’re passed both New Years. Both solar New Year and Chinese New Year. And to me, Chinese New Year is early this year, so we got a lot of time in the whole calendar year. Maggie’s over 1 year old now and she’s standing up and walking, kind of walking grabbing my chair as I record this right now. But you know just kind to do what you want to do, I’ve got lot of opportunities lately. I’ve been doing stuff I don’t like to do. It might pay more money but. You just like do what you want to do. You guys stay happy especially we got kids around. They don’t want to be a miserable dude. So I hope everybody is doing what they like to do and I hope this show helping you do that. I would appreciate feedback about show ideas. How this might help you and inspired you. Life is short and I hope my kids will listen to this one day. Well that’s all I got and I will see you next week. Everybody is back on track and whether they listen to this in Chinese New Year or few years later. Enjoy bye bye.

To get more info, on running international business, please visit our website at that’s Also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

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