Marcus Tandler on user experience, and a carbon neutral internet

Joost de Valk

Joost de Valk

Marcus Tandler

Marcus Tandler

Co-founder & Managing Director at Ryte
Or listen this podcast on

In this episode

A passionate conversation between long-time friends Joost de Valk and Marcus Tandler (co-founder & managing director at Ryte). Besides being SEO experts, they also care about the world’s environment. Listen how a passionate Marcus wants to make the internet carbon-neutral and how blocking crawlers can save a lot of energy. But of course, they also talk about SEO. Are you interested in an in-depth conversation about website user experience, SEO tools and holistic SEO, and want to discover patterns in Core Web Vitals updates? Listen to this episode!

Do you want to know more about Marcus and his company? Follow Marcus on Twitter or visit the Ryte website.


Marcus and Joost will cover the following topics during this episode, with timestamps indicating when the topic comes up:

  • 2:01 – What do Ryte and Marcus do? 
  • 5:19 – How website UX is important for SEOs
  • 8:37 – How the field of SEO changed into holistic SEO
  • 14:14 – What Ryte does to make the internet more carbon-neutral
  • 18:35 – Blocking crawlers to save energy
  • 21:51 – Where is Ryte going in the next few years?
  • 23:51 – A good thing about the differentiating of SEO tools 
  • 28:50 – How Ryte predicts important KPIs
  • 35:46 – Is website speed a big ranking factor?  
  • 38:09 – Discover the patterns in Core Web Vital updates


Joost de Valk: Hi everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Yoast SEO podcast. Today we’re joined by one of my most old time friends in SEO, Mr. Marcus Tandler.  Who is the co-founder and chief evangelist at Ryte. You might actually know Ryte from its integration in Yoast SEO, if you’re a long time user. Marcus and I have known each other over a decade now. And funnily enough, we keep running into each other, even in things like Legoland purely by accident. Thank you for joining me, Marcus. 

Marcus Tandler:  Thanks so much. For inviting me on your podcast, it’s really a huge honor, and it’s always great to see you in Legoland or here.

And he actually texted me before you left, which was really like a, such a great, crazy coincidence, because we were just about to get. I was about to tie my shoes and we were going to Legoland and you were writing me a text message. Oh, by the way, I just want to let you know, we’re going to Legoland in Günzburg, which is only an hour from Munich. And we’re like, holy shit, we were just about to leave for Legoland. So it was such a funny coincidence. 

Joost de Valk: It’s such the serendipity of these things is always amazing.. 

Marcus Tandler: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, by the way, we met in 2007, because you said over a decade, so it’s well, over a decade. We met at an expo in 2007.

I really like research. When did I first meet this guy? And it was really at that expo.. 

Joost de Valk: And then later on SES New York, obviously, and in 2008. Yeah, I do remember it is a long time ago.

Marcus Tandler: Really long time ago, you were still working at onetomarket. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. I had black hair. 

Marcus Tandler: We all had non gray hair at one point and I’m still glad to do the podcast.

What do Ryte and Marcus do? 

Joost de Valk: Can you for those who don’t know what Ryte is, can you explain what Ryte is and what it is you doing? 

Marcus Tandler: Of course by my pleasure. So Ryte is a software as a service company. We are headquartered in Munich in Germany. We’re about 140 people now. And Ryte hubs businesses and agencies optimize their website user experience with our state-of-the-art software products.

The Ryte suite is blocked by more than 1 million digital marketers and agencies worldwide, which is nothing compared to Yoast. We think it’s pretty cool. And it provides users with the three essential tools needed to create a more sustainable website: website success, content success, and search success.

And we also offer an innovative alternative to the ancient art of Bot logs analysis, which is called botlogs. Given SEO is a solution for easy daily, real time bot analytics. And I’m very proud that some of the world most renowned companies like Daimler, Allianz, Disney, and others trust in the right technology to reach that website’s full potential. So that’s basically Ryte in a nutshell. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. That’s a very good marketing pitch. And then I always end up, and I’m going to pester you with it as well, so what do you do with that on a daily basis?  

Marcus Tandler: What am I doing on a daily basis? Yeah. Oh I love my job, so I’m actually officially the chief evangelist, but 90% of my time I’m actually working in our technical SEO team.

And so we are actually not just technical. SEO is about website user experience at a whole, but we’re just rebranding this. And this is our team. And basically 90% of my time, I’m hoping our customers like hands-on. So they might call me up saying, Hey, Marcus, we’ve been hit by a core update.

Can you come and look over the data together? Hey Marcus, we’re planning a relaunch. This is what we’re planning. Can we just pitch it to you? Do you have some remarks here? So we’re like a sparring partner, a competent second opinion if you need one. So obviously no agents. But really like always when you need someone to pitch to and need an SEO opinion that’s what you get from us. Also obviously helping them sell support and everything but really 90% of my time is actually doing hands-on SEO.

I love my job seriously. I really love it. I’ve no direct reports, right. So I’m really just doing SEO. And this is just an amazing opportunity. Also for me, having somebody like Andy who’s the CEO of Ryte and we’ve been working together for over 16 years now. Like brothers in a sense, but not just me the big brother and him being the small brother, that’s also sometimes the other way around. Especially when it comes to running a business, because I really gotta admit. I’m like the classical one-trick pony.

I can just do SEO. My wife, Becky, also says the same. You can only do SEO. So I really love that. I have someone I can fully trust, run the company. And I can add the most value and really like helping our customers. So I really got to say, I really love my job.

How website UX is important for SEOs

Joost de Valk: Yeah, and in a way we’re all making a similar transition to a point of Where SEO just becomes slightly a wider thing than it was a decade ago. It was very technical. We purely look at some technical stuff and we throw keywords at Google and then it’ll stick. And now we’re going wider and actually Ryte has been improving on that quite a lot recently. It seems where I actually see you referring to yourself as not just looking at SEO, but accessibility as well. 

Marcus Tandler: Yeah, so actually like when we started back then actually back then we were called

We were branded as Ryte five years ago already. Wow. Feels like a lifetime. So when we started out with, actually we never branded ourselves as being an SEO tool. It was always about website quality management, and this is my core belief that you really shouldn’t focus on SEO.

You should focus on having a hundred percent perfect website, a great website providing a great user experience for people visiting your website. And then eventually you’re gonna be bubbling up to the top. And this is really what it’s all about. It’s a website quality management, but obviously it was especially SEOs who found our industry strength, crawling solution, very beneficial to SEO.

So obviously we’ve been growing in the SEO industry. Like basically forever, but since already a couple of years ago, there’s a lot of companies who don’t use us as an SEO tool, but really about quality management. Take, for example, BMW, which is really monitoring 150 worldwide websites of their BMW brand with our software and stuff like this.

So this is not really about SEO, but really keeping your shit straight. And people have a great user experience. And now we’re really doubling down on this and we now are positioning ourselves as really a website user experience platform to really double down on this. We’re not an SEO tool, right.

And so I’m actually pretty excited that we are the first company worldwide in this space of website user experience. And our platform will really unify the five aspects that are key to website user experience, which has search engine optimization, quality assurance, performance, accessibility, and compliance.

And this evolution really feels like a very natural step for us. Because of the central importance of websites to business growth today, and Google’s repeated statements that user experience is increasingly being taken into consideration for search engine rankings. The significance of website user experience is rapidly increasing and these developments paired with our ongoing evolution, from an SEO tool into a platform that really helps brands and agencies manage website performance holistically, made it really the next natural step for us. So it’s super exciting.

How the field of SEO changed into holistic SEO

Joost de Valk: So we all see our jobs changing, right? And we’ve seen our jobs change from looking at the technical side of SEO to “Hey, we need to factor in site speed” to, “Hey, we actually need to care about what we give our users”.

And now a lot of us that have been doing this for a long time, had always been doing things like conversion rate optimization, et cetera, as well, because it made sense to do that. But now it seems like we’re all suddenly approaching it a bit more holistically. Like we’re looking at all of that at the same time.

Should we be changing the names of our roles? 

Marcus Tandler: Yeah, actually there’s a lot of conversation about this as it has been throughout the years, people trying to rebrand SEO into something different. Actually my personal stance on this, like there’s a lot of truth in these conversations. Absolutely. 

This is exactly what SEO is. It’s always evolving. What I’ve been doing as an SEO, what I call SEO, since early 1998 has always been different. What I did 20 years ago to what I’ve done 15 years ago to what I’ve done 10 years ago to what I’m doing now. It has really evolved.

So for me personally, I would think that every website, every company that does considerable business in as in the internet should have a website user experience officer like really a like an attorney for the customer sitting in every meeting, like really having the customer in mind. Since that’s not really happening, then there’s not a lot of companies who take this approach.

I think a lot of times the SEO has to step up to the plate and actually manage these tasks. You have to actually do this stuff right. In a perfect world. An SEO could still do like the typical SEO kind of thing. But with most businesses not having a dedicated person for these kinds of things, you have to have someone who’s holding up the flag and really saying, “Hey, we got to take care of our users, our users have to have a great experience”.

And we got to manage everything that comes with it. So this is how I see it. And I also think this is a great for SEOs to get better roles, to get better paid, having these extra skills, that you actually need to be like a full, modern SEO as I would call it.

Because you have a lot of companies who are now at this challenge, to really like digitalization and really getting their shit straight. Obviously not immediately recruiting like a whole team. So they want this one guy that can manage this holistically. So I think this is a great opportunity also for SEOs stepping away and really becoming more complete in a sense. And really helping those businesses have a great website use experience. 

Joost de Valk: It’s funny because in a way it’s also returning to where we started, where everyone who did SEO was a webmaster. 

Marcus Tandler: Yeah. I love it. We still have webmasters on the roof. So we had the show on webmaster radio, right?

And it was called webmasters on the roof. We had the legendary conference ‘webmasters on the beach’, and stuff like this. We’re always the webmaster, the SEO webmaster. But even Google said now that webmaster isn’t an inappropriate term anymore. A lot of people are not calling themselves webmaster anymore.

I actually hate this. I’m still a webmaster. And I like this, I still feel like this. 

Joost de Valk: It is a nice way of looking at it because it just contains a bit more. I’ve always been like that myself as well, where I write code I think about accessibility. I think about SEO. I think about usability and all of these things combined make a good website and speed is becoming more important that as well, of course and harder as people want to put more stuff on websites.

It’s hard to make it fast. So yeah, it is interesting. When I look at what you’ve been doing and I’m just, all these huge brands monitor a lot of sites. How do they decide on what to do on a day to day basis? Is your tool involved in helping them actually prioritize or improve?

Marcus Tandler: Yeah. Obviously this is very important for us. It’s like there’s so many other tools and just having a list with this is what you need to be doing. This doesn’t help anybody. You need prioritization. What’s really important. And also what’s like a low-hanging fruit, what’s an easy task.

What’s like an easy fix, and this is really gonna help me very quickly in some sort of way. And what are those  long term goals I have, or what blocks us on my website which I need to consider in the next relaunch or something like this. So it’s really about intelligent prioritization and really surfacing these important issues you might be missing. So yeah, obviously this is very important in the whole audit process to have a better prioritization of the issues that people are surfacing, these tools are surfacing. 

What Ryte does to make the internet more carbon neutral

Joost de Valk: Cool. Now you did something recently that I wanted to touch on because it’s just cool that they’re the carbon neutral API. Can you explain what you did because, it is a hard story, but also not that much. 

Marcus Tandler: Yeah. Thanks so much for bringing this up. This initiative goes back to Andy, our CEO, and when he first pitched it to me, I was like, Awesome man. Because it’s really about, what can we do more than jus, running the business, doing the best of this, but how can we now with a considerable reach also contribute to a greater goal.

And I really applauded him when he pitched it to me first and it really took off. So we. We have a plea, right? Let’s make the internet carbon neutral. Data volume and the associated energy usage of the internet is increasing at a rapid pace.

Except accessory, bated. I’m sorry. A hard word. I wanted to use this word today. The internet is predicted to contribute a staggering 7% of global greenhouse emissions by 2025.

Actually according to the BBC, the carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the supporting systems make up around 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. That’s a similar amount produced by the airline industry. And in 2017, the Swiss federal Institute of technology, the UT agents in Zurich. Found out that modern computers consume almost as much power as the first home computers did almost 30 years ago.

And this. This goes to show that just because modern computers are faster, it doesn’t mean they’re more efficient. And these facts show just how much the internet and digitization are contributing to global warming. Something that many of us probably never thought much about, but the evidence is now simply too overwhelming to keep quiet about this issue.

And we need to face up to the fact that our daily working life. Our marketing campaigns and our website themselves are all contributing to global warming with their energy consumptions. And it’s finally time to do something about this. So obviously making a website carbon neutral is not something you can do overnight.

It requires investment, expertise and obviously also time, but the first step to carbon neutrality is a very small one. It’s awareness. Being aware of your website’s carbon consumption can help you start a conversation with your colleagues, your managers, your clients leading the way to green. And what we actually did as well.

We have a, like a newly developed joint solution. It’s called the website Carbon KPI. And this enables you to calculate, reduce, and also offset the CO2 footprint of a website with unprecedented accuracy. So within this program, we calculate the estimated carbon emissions off your website. So you can measure its carbon footprint, helping you to understand its impact on the environment, and then provide you with the opportunity to offset this carbon consumption by taking part in a carbon offset project led by Climate Partner, which is actually located in Nicaragua.

So where Aleyda, our good friend Aleyda, is from. So obviously I’m also excited about this one. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. I saw this and I was like, yeah, this is so smart. Because as one of my own pet peeves is that if you look at a website’s access logs, like 30 to 40, sometimes 50% of traffic to a site is bots.

And people don’t realize how many people scrape the entire web and how much resources we all lose. Because of bots spidering the entire web. The fact that we have multiple search engines is a blessing, but it also really leads to very inefficient ways of gathering data. So I’d been looking at that and tweeting about that.

Blocking crawlers to save energy

I think that my last tweetstorm about that was about a year and a half, two years ago. And it is just staggering. And actually it’s something that you can measure with your bot analytics and Ryte as well. Or you can just see how much of your traffic is bot traffic. If you combine that with thinking about carbon neutrality and what you should do, then sometimes adding a robot.txt to block a couple of bots would actually easily impact your carbon neutrality. So in many ways we can offset it, but we can also do some stuff about it. We can say, Hey, the fact that AA refs, which I don’t use, spider’s my site because some of its customers want to know stuff about my site.

Maybe I don’t want that. So why shouldn’t I not block all these crawlers that are doing things that are not for my purpose and that are not helping me or our customers reach anything. So I think that’s a discussion we should have as a community a lot more. Like why are we allowing everyone to spider our sites?

Marcus Tandler:  Actually with that, you should really block them. Do you remember back in the days we were blocking crawlers so that they wouldn’t show up in backlink databases. Like obviously, if I really want to hide what I’m doing, especially with the backlink shenanigans 15, 16, 17 years back, we will block the crawler from that site so that they wouldn’t show up in those backlink analyses. 

Joost de Valk: It’s also like, why would you want to show up in that backlink analysis. 

Marcus Tandler: Yeah absolutely. That doesn’t help me. It just helps my competitor. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. And so it’s interesting because I was looking at that and I thought first of all, carbon neutrality is something that I think everyone should be thinking about for everything they do.

It’s obviously one of the biggest challenges that we all have. As we’re recording this there is more rain dropping from the sky and then has happened in quite a while. And we have these huge floods in the Netherlands and Germany at the time. 

Marcus Tandler: Absolutely. Yeah. I just saw the pictures in the target show yesterday.

Like exactly going towards it’s really crazy. They had 30 buildings collapsed, due to that heavy rain. This has never happened in Germany. And look in America, they just broke the world record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the death valley. And this is just insanity.

Joost de Valk: Climate change is a real thing and we are contributing to it. And if we can fix that. I think that’s actually well spot on, and it’s just a very good thing to combat. So congratulations on launching that. I was really excited to see that. It’s always fun to see your friends get covered on things like tech crunch, et cetera.

So in all of this you’ve. You’ve changed yourself from being like a managing director to actually now mostly doing SEO. 

Where is Ryte going in the next few years?

But can you tell us a bit about where Ryte is going in the next few years? 

Marcus Tandler: Oh,  like exactly down this path. Obviously we are very strong in Germany.

We have a  very good grip on the German market. I think well over 50% of the largest 100 websites in Germany are using our product. Which is very cool, but obviously, there’s a lot more room actually to grow, especially to the UK, also to the U S. It’s pretty interesting.

And this is one of the things as we’ve actually been the first cloud-based crawler, and I’m very proud of that fact. There’s a couple of competitors now, which have started after us. But we would actually be the first and now there’s 20 of them. And there’s also a lot of these that have been raising funds and stuff like this.

And actually we’ve been bootstrapping with for the first five years. Which was awesome. But now you have these other companies like your competitors basically like raising all this money and just being a lot louder in our industry, as it’s not always the best software that wins, but who screams the loudest. Or if you have a thousand sales guys against one sales guy, it’s just frequency. It’s just numb. It’s just pure math, right. Obviously we really took on this challenge and really went more out of Germany to finally make people realize this is the best software. We might’ve not been the loudest, now we are.

Joost de Valk: I always hope that at some point quality. It shows itself, but I’m also afraid that’s not a reality that’s ever going to happen. 

A good thing about the differentiating of SEO tools 

Marcus Tandler: Yeah, definitely. And also, especially with SEO, there’s so much depending on where you started, what was your first touch point with SEO?

What was your first mentor in SEO? This will have a large impact on how you experience the field of SEO. There’s so much misinformation and not just evil, like in a, somebody doing this in a bad spirit, but just outdated information because in our industry information can be outdated very quickl. 

Even just like when you wrote a book and basically. Now you can sell it, it might be already outdated. And there’s so much outdated advice out there. There’s not just this general consensus of this, like the basic knowledge of SEO that everybody should have. And then you’re branching off into local SEO,  image SEO, organic SEO, PPC, whatever.

So we don’t have that. And somebody might be a backlink builder for three years and then you never really done SEO. You’re just basically a bit of a PR outreach guy whatever. And this is what it is, it’s a very complex thing to grasp.

And obviously this also goes into the software that helps with these tasks. This makes it really hard to really have this general consensus on what’s the best quality of product or stuff like that. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah, no, yeah. I agree. And it’s also because the whole concept of what is SEO is changing and with that the tools are changing.

Yeah. There’s a lot of room for tools to go in different directions and I think that’s fine. And I’m actually happy with that because honestly, for a while there were a lot of SEO tools that all just did the same thing. Absolutely. And it’s great to see them differentiate and actually do different things and come up with different different target audiences as well and different because as you said you’re 50% of the biggest websites in Germany.

But that means that you aim at a particular market as well. You’re not aiming at the small mom and pop shop. You’re aiming at larger enterprise websites. 

Marcus Tandler: And now I’m very proud we still have this duality. Obviously if you really want your business to grow, you have to target the more mature companies, the bigger sites, especially because these are also the ones that have more complex problems crawling the site.

Because if you have a lot of smaller, a hundred page websites, Screaming Frog might already be enough for you. Like we have the free account for it. Especially those people that can also use our product for free on other small websites. But that’s what I mean, if you have a smaller website other products might already help you, but only really complex ones, this is where you need industry strength solutions. So for example, we’ve been at this large car manufacturer. I’m not going to say his name. 

Huge thing, everybody knows this obviously. And they actually invited all the big crawlers. And we were all there and we were actually the only ones who could crawl their website and everybody else was like, oh, you can go home now. And this was awesome. Because these are like, obviously the great wins.

When you really can do something that the others can, but again, especially with crawling, sometimes it’s really like a commodity of ever smaller websites, but this is actually for us, the big seller is search success, which is like a, let me put it like really easily, like an intelligent skin for Google search.

And we really try to make it more easy to work with Google search console data, because it’s naturally a little bit hard to work with it due to the average values, which are like very hard to understand you see, like average position 12 and you’re thinking like, oh the scraper tool is this position 12? No, it’s not. 

This means it’s 70% on page one 30% on page two. And this is how it’s calculated also with the number of impressions. For example, on keyword level, we already condensed it to the number of searches, because for example, you have navigational queries, somebody searching for Ryte and we have six cyclings showing up.

This might be 7,000 impressions, but knowing that the cycling’s only show up when the root domain is being shown, we know it’s only a thousand searches, so this is one of the things we’re doing here. And you’re also able to compare, for example two different pages which are ranking for the same keyword to see.

Is there a kind of realization issue? How is Google trying to figure out what’s the best page or likewise on page level comparing different keywords. That page is ranking for a keyboard which is better suited, which has more search volume for me to adapt like the snippet to really target that other keyboard more to increase the CTR.

How Ryze predicts important KPIs

So this is really what it’s all about. And also obviously lots of data science goes into it to find, for example, anomalies, which I find super interesting. So what we’re actually doing. We are predicting each KPI for the next day. So our machine will think how many people are searching for Ryte tomorrow.

How many people are going to click through with the keyword Ryte to your website. And are you likely going up or likely to go down and then really looking on the next day, where has the machine been totally off? Where has it been totally off in its prediction and this must be something significant.

And I love these anomalies because you can just click on it and it will show what keywords have been affected, what pages have been affected and even more like what are commonalities? Oh, look, this is just traffic coming from Mexico. This is all going to the shop directory. So really find those quick insights, where should I dig? Where should I really try to find a needle in the haystack, which haystack should I actually go to? 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. Especially in Google search console, there are some nuggets in what you’re saying, even when people are not using Ryte. The simple fact is impressions for your URLs. Something that you can’t add to each other all the time. So you can’t say, Hey, we’ve got 7,000 here 7,000 here, 7,000 here. It’s not 49,000 at some point, or it doesn’t add up it’s impressions for site links and for things that are actually at, and that’s the level of granularity where we’re all of this becomes very useful.

Because actually looking at that data one of my own pet peeves is emails that Google sends where they say, “Hey, you have to fix this or that schema issue in your site”. And I look at these emails and I don’t know what to do with them. And I’ve literally sometimes forwarded some of those emails to our friends at Google. John Mueller or other people on the team there and said, I don’t actually get what this email says. 

Marcus Tandler:  And you, of all people. In the world, they’re like maybe 10 people, who are like you, and you don’t know what the f that means?

Joost de Valk: But yeah, so there’s a lot of data in Google search console and on the one hand, I’m very thankful that Google is sharing it. On the other hand, I’m looking at it and I’m going like, oh my God. And recently we had this discussion about, when you delete a page and you do it intentionally, I think you should make it a 410 header.

And in my ideal world, Google will say, okay, you’ve deleted that intentionally. We won’t treat that as an error, but they do treat it as an error. Which in my opinion is an error on their side but it’s really hard to get to move stuff out of Google search console to say, “Hey, this is not an error”.

We’re doing this on purpose. This is fine. So having a tool on top of that actually helps you analyze stuff like that is very helpful. And your Google search console integration has been. One of the best I’ve seen for quite a while. This is becoming a bit of a Ryte ad, but sorry, people, I am a fan.

Marcus Tandler:  you’re just stating the truth, just stating the truth. Yeah. And for us it’s really, this is like the big seller. Like seriously, because a lot of people are now making the decision, make or buy. Do I build my own Google data studio, like really pulling that GSC data in myself, doing that stuff myself.

And this is really what helps us because when you get out of the box with us plus, and the ongoing development, I think nine developers are solely dedicated to improving search success. So every two weeks that will be a new report and a new feature, some shiny thing being released.

And is there if, and also, which is also very interesting, just also like pattern recognition and GSC data, right? Like we pour over a trillion keywords now, over a trillion keywords. Even if you have a very large site, you might not really see common patterns because you’re just looking at one site.

But we are looking at thousands of sites and also me personally as a, this is what I especially love about my job, because I don’t have to rely on scrape data when I’m auditing a website. I see everyday, I see at least two, three Google search console accounts, real search performance data, which might be completely different than the scrape data.

And then when you look at so many Google search console accounts. You really recognize common patterns, especially in core updates, right? In core updates, you always see the same patterns and this is really what I love. And when you’re just looking at one website, you might miss out on recognizing these patterns because you just don’t have any other websites to look at. This is really where Ryte is so helpful with what our data science team is doing. Like in surfacing these patterns, we find thousands of similar pages in similar circumstances that might be beneficial for you. Oh, look, this is what happened here. And like a coding tree of data and really helping you pre analyze the data before you go in analyzing it, really showing you, this is what you should look at if you only have five minutes. Because none of us are sitting at home and saying “Oh, today I have eight hours of time. I don’t know what to do. Let me dig into that haystack. Let me see if there are some needles in there”. Nobody does that. And this is where we want to help. And there’s also still a lot of people who are just looking at their site with scraped data, which I totally don’t understand seriously.

There are so many people, a little bit more in Germany than in other countries. Because we have, Sistrix like a very famous visibility index, which was obviously developed in Germany. Search Metrics, right. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah it is something about Germans that they like to build a SEO tools 

Marcus Tandler:  weirdly enough. And a lot of them, like also, if you could also count Austria, like we have link research tools with Christoph Kemper. Search Metrics originated here. So many great German tools. 

Joost de Valk: Absolutely. Hey if you’re looking at all that data on a daily basis, is there. And I’m going to totally put you on the spot here. 

Is website speed a big ranking factor?  

Do you actually think that site performance as in speed is a big ranking factor right now? Or does it not impact much? 

Marcus Tandler: Not yet as. That’s for sure. Not yet. Obviously if you have the really bad ones, but they are not getting worse too. They’re already bad.

But right now we don’t see a lot of movement to these things. But this also has been raised a couple of years ago. Where people were like, oh, look at this.. Why should I optimize my core vitals?

Because nothing has happened, right? These sites really don’t bubble to the top, what’s going on and you know what? This is not about SEO. I don’t care. I don’t optimize core web vitals. We didn’t optimize our web core vitals of to a hundred for SEO benefit.

We do that. So that our users have a great website experience and everybody will be thankful that the website is fast, that they can interact with it quickly and stuff like that is what people like. And this is what I want to achieve and not so I might be ranking better, whatever.

Like in the end it’s going to be a tiebreaker. It’s going to be a tiebreaker when Google really has to decide, okay. Who should be number one, who should be number two? If the scores are somewhat similar. This way, I would expect the Core Web Vitals getting into space, but this is not an SEO issue.

This is really about trying to know your users, really doing something for them and providing a great website experience.  

Joost de Valk: Yeah, I fully agree. And the funny thing is that it’ll probably be a while before Google actually rolls out that actual ranking factor, because if they do now, they screw up too many search results.

But I think the same is true for HTTPs. Google announced that as a ranking factor. And can you imagine any site not having HTTPs anymore now? If you’re gonna do anything trustworthy on that site, you want it to be HTTPS. So they, I think they succeeded. In like pushing the web forward in that way.

Discover the patterns in Core Web Vital updates

And I think they’ll do the same with core web vitals. Related, is there anything else that you’ve seen with the recent core updates where you think like everyone should be doing this or that has really changed with that last update? 

Marcus Tandler: No. I mean like this last update, especially the July update. 

 June was a little bit smaller in a sense. But July was like really a true core update as I would categorize it. And I’ve now done about 25-30 core update analyses with our customers. And I always see the same patterns. I always see the same patterns and a large part is always trying you out in the top 10 for certain keywords where they think you might be relevant.

And then if you do not have people clicking through, which is the first sign of relevance. That people are actually clicking through because they have the best content, but if nobody clicks through and actually reads that content, they might not see that it is the best content.

So this is the first very important signal. And if you have 2 clicks, Google says “I tried you out and I thought you’re going to be right. People are not clicking through, okay. Go to page two again, I’m going to promote someone else and let’s see if this guy really fits in here”.

And this is happening all the time. And especially with core updates, I see loads of those. I just had a great core case again yesterday. And like hundreds of these where you always see Google testing it out at the top. 0% click through rate and gone. Obviously there’s also loads of keywords, which are just not relevant to you where you couldn’t care less about this.

For example, we have this with our Ryte Wiki, with navigation query. So we might rank for Google maps, Bing, Yandex, all these brands. Obviously we don’t care that we get flushed down to page two with these kinds of queries. But we’re still looking every Monday to a report, the CTR underperforming report where we basically do the same thing as Google does.

So where we would have expected the highest CTR on a specific position and basically showing you this. And then you can really go through and say, oh my God, this has been really an important keyword for me. And then I just go to the SERPs and see, oh yeah, this is like the standard snippet.

It just does not appeal. Or competitors are better. Okay, let me set up an AB test. Which is also now in Ryte, which is also very exciting, our new AB testing feature. We can really come up with just different snippets for a better CTR to actually stay in the top 10 or even moving up, it might even be to the top result.

So I see this a lot in core updates and this is what I advise everybody to like to really thoroughly look for. Top 10 tests were given. We’ll test you for certain keywords and see, like we’re looking at the SERPs, understanding the Serbs. It might also be just a different intent, which I can’t solve. 

Joost de Valk:  But can you then re-trigger that test? 

Marcus Tandler: For Yoast, if you blog about something, Google will always put you into the top 10 and will always test you. So with high authority brands this is always the case. Also if it has some social traction, if some links are pouring in, if you put a new content out, this will always help triggering that type of 10 tab 10 tests.

But this is the important part. These links will only get you to the top 10, but then you really have to prove you’re really relevant. And if not, most of the links won’t help you. You just go down again. 

Joost de Valk: And a lot of that is user interaction much more than actually having more links.

Marcus Tandler: Absolutely. I can show you a great example. I had this example in the gaming space and the keyword was a brand coupon code kind of query. Obviously I can’t disclose what it really is, but so he was actually ranking in the top three behind the brand.

And then he got flushed down to page two after the core update. And he noticed three other pages now going into the top 10 taking his spot. And he analyzed it because he was using a scrape data tool. He’s not looking at GSC data and he just saw him dropping from number three to number 14.

Obviously, these positions don’t exist. But this is what he saw. And then he noticed these three pages really built lots of backlinks. So he spent $30,000 on backlinks for that page to regain that position again, in his mind. And I actually went into the Google search console account with him, and looked at that keyword.

And I could see this was tested between the last core update. So this was started testing in December, 2020. The keyword got tested and right in the top three, because Google also knows what these brand type of keyword queries you’re not going to get a lot of traction beneath. So actually they were tested right in the top three.

And then for this timeframe, they had exactly 12 clicks, 12 clicks for roughly 700,000 searches, so 0% click through rate. And now they got flushed down to page two again, and Google said, okay, let’s try other pages which are pretty similar to this. And this is what it’s all about.

And, not even seeing this, because he really flushed $30,000 down the drain and like really crying and, but still having the belief. “Oh, but now Google will be like, oh, look at this page. It has so many new links. It should be ranking top 10”. Why should it be? Because nobody clicks on it.

Why should Google keep it in the top 10! Even if he has links from Google himself, right? Why should Google do this? Because nobody clicks on it. It doesn’t provide value. So this is why you’re going to page two. And this is why I really urge people. Find these top 10 tests. Really see why nobody is clicking through that result?

He didn’t even change the snippet, which would have been my first thing I would’ve done. To maybe trigger a new test. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah I know this plugin has a snippet preview and that thing is in Yoast SEO for a reason because it actually does matter what your search result looks like. 

Marcus Tandler: I get very passionate about these kinds of things. 

Joost de Valk: I love that. We can keep on talking for hours, but we’re not going to.

Marcus Tandler: But we will, my friend. In-person very soon I hope. 

Joost de Valk: That is a certainty. And I want to thank you for being here and I want to thank you, our listener, for listening. And if you are not subscribed to the Yoast SEO podcast yet by all means, do subscribe on your favorite podcast channel. And we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

Marcus Tandler: Bye everyone. Thanks. Thank you. .


Want to know more?

Want to know more about the topics covered in the podcast? Find out about user experience, holistic SEO, how to block crawlers and more in our blog posts:

Yoast SEO Podcast series