Interview with Carolyn Holzman

This episode of the SEO Podcast by #SEOSLY features Carolyn Holzman, who is the Confessions of an SEO podcast host, SEO researcher and tester.

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Notes on the conversation between Olga Zarr and Carolyn Holzman

Carolyn Holzman is the Confessions of an SEO podcast host, SEO Researcher and Tester. President & Lead SEO of American Way Media dedicated to amplifying brands and businesses where people look.

In this SEO podcast episode, host Olga Zarr from SEOSLY converses with Carolyn Holzman, delving into her unique journey in the SEO landscape. They explore Carolyn’s transition from a business owner to an SEO expert, her distinct approach to SEO, and provide deep insights into the nuances of Google’s indexing and rendering.

Carolyn Holzman’s SEO journey

  • Transition from Business Owner to SEO Expert: Holzman’s journey in SEO began in Austin, Texas, where she transitioned from being a local business owner reliant on Yellow Pages to mastering online visibility. This shift led her to become her first SEO client, eventually gaining national ranking success with CD duplication keywords. Carolyn’s story is a testament to her passion for the ‘monotony and details’ of SEO.
  • First Client Experience: Her first client experience outside her own business was with a neighboring business specializing in secure data erasure. Her successful strategies not only improved their online visibility but also doubled their revenue in the first year.
  • SEO Agency Establishment: Carolyn’s experience led her to establish her first SEO agency around 2010. She focused on solving complex SEO problems and developed an approach she terms “forensic SEO,” which revolves around understanding why a site isn’t ranking

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Insights into Google’s Indexing and Rendering

  • Understanding Google’s Ever-Changing Landscape: The conversation then shifts to how Google’s behavior in indexing and rendering has evolved over time. Carolyn shares her observations on the changes in Google’s approach, including the significant impact of sitemaps on indexing.
    • Challenges with JavaScript-heavy sites and Google’s rendering were discussed, highlighting a period when Google temporarily stopped rendering JavaScript, significantly affecting site rankings.
    • Carolyn also delves into her practice of daily testing of Google’s indexing since August 2021, a process that helped her uncover indexing issues that are often not apparent to site owners.
    • The importance of server logs and mobile-first indexing is emphasized, with Carolyn advising against slimming down the mobile versions of sites due to their significant impact on rankings.

SEO Philosophy and Methods

  • Developing a Unique SEO Approach: Carolyn Holzman shares her distinctive philosophy and methods in SEO. She emphasizes the importance of testing and adapting strategies, using unique keywords for tracking, and measuring the impact of changes.
    • Her approach advocates for independence and self-reliance in SEO practice. She encourages listeners to experiment, particularly with Google’s Indexing API, using it for non-traditional purposes and learning from direct experience.

Key Takeaways

The conversation with Carolyn Holzman brings several key takeaways:

  • SEO is an Evolving Field: Stay adaptable and continually test.
  • Forensic SEO: Focus on why sites aren’t ranking, not just how to rank them.
  • Importance of Mobile-First: Prioritize mobile site quality.
  • Google’s Indexing: Regularly changing; requires close observation.
  • Independence in SEO: Rely on your own tests and findings.

Actionable Items

To apply Carolyn’s insights and strategies, consider the following actionable steps:

  1. Stay informed and regularly update your knowledge on Google’s indexing changes.
  2. Implement unique keywords in your SEO practices and monitor their indexing closely.
  3. Prioritize ensuring that mobile sites are robust and well-optimized.
  4. Experiment with Google’s tools, like the Indexing API, to understand their potential fully.
  5. Analyze server logs for deeper insights into SEO and to inform your strategies.

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Olga Zarr is an SEO consultant with 10+ years of experience. She has been doing SEO for both the biggest brands in the world and small businesses. She has done 200+ SEO audits so far. Olga has completed SEO courses and degrees at universities, such as UC Davis, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University. She also completed Moz Academy! And, of course, has Google certifications. She keeps learning SEO and loves it. Olga is also a Google Product Expert specializing in areas, such as Google Search and Google Webmasters.