Nowadays website owners want to know how search engines work and try to permanently improve their search engine rankings. Most of them use on-page optimization as a reliable method to boost up the SEO of their websites.
Fili Wiese, a former senior Google Search Quality Team member, now SEO consultant at SearchBrothers.com is a true expert in international, technical and on-page optimization as well as penalty recovery. Let’s ask him some questions:
1. OnPage Magazine:
Hi Fili, nice to have you for an interview, we really appreciate it. We know how difficult it is to catch a busy person like you ;) Would you please introduce yourself for readers, who don’t know yet who you are and what you do.
Hi and thanks for having me! My name is Fili Wiese, I’m an international SEO consultant with SearchBrothers.com. I’m also a passionate web developer, in-fact I have been a developer for as long as I can remember, which is why technical SEO is among my favourite activities. SEO is often all about finding and reading the right data, so it’s fair to say I like my job a lot.
Before becoming a technical SEO I worked for seven years as a senior Google Search Quality Analyst and senior Google Support Engineer, primarily on spam detection and Google webmaster guidelines violation prevention. The unique experience gained during that time is a great asset in helping clients to achieve their online goals today. I’m also a scuba diver and a passionate Trekkie :)
2. OnPage Magazine:
Wow, you have a lot of experience. What would you say which fields in SEO are worth to invest in? What should webmasters really focus on?
On-page optimization and I’m not just saying that because of OnPage.org! Now technical SEO is a complex field but what successful SEO comes down to can be described as building a site that is too good for Google not to show prominently in their search results for relevant queries. This means building a website for users and becoming a household brand. That does include a compelling and unique sales proposition which makes the website relevant for users to start with but having achieved that goal will only translate to popularity in organic search if basic on-page optimization is a priority. Yes, building a brand does mean optimizing snippets, titles and descriptions over and over again so users are compelled by their message to spend their time on the website. Websites can rank without spending their budget on off-page optimization. Without solid on-page optimization no SEO strategy deserves that name. (Tweet this)
3. OnPage Magazine:
In your opinion, what is the most decisive aspect of on-page optimization? What matters the most for a better performance in search?
If I had to identify one single factor I will say meeting or exceeding user expectations based on the promise made in the snippet. But this is over simplifying a lot of technical leg work that has to be done. Consistent, intentional canonicals in place are must but so is the use of metadata nowadays. Page speed is absolute killer ranking factor which can make or break a site’s visibility in Google Search. The quality and positioning of content are equally important. And making sure no conflicting signals are send to search engines is vital. Just think of the liabilities associated with neglecting content such as the Panda algorithm. In a nutshell there’s a ton of moving parts that need to be put in the right place in order to tip the scale in the right direction. One factor however has always to be considered the top priority: focus on users first.
4. OnPage Magazine:
Identifying technical issues is almost impossible without proper monitoring. You are obviously using various tools to help your clients. Which of them are useful for on-page analyses and which role plays OnPage.org for your daily work?
To address the latter question first, OnPage.org is a central part of my daily tasks. It is among the few tools that allow for both, an in-depth investigative dive into site signals but also a quick glimpse on a specific ranking factor, if that’s what needed at that very moment. After leaving the Google Search Quality team I was missing Google’s excellent tools. OnPage.org helped to fill that need and it continues to be a great data source. Nowadays I use a variety of purpose built tools, of which both Screaming Frog and Google Search Console greatly supplement OnPage.org
5. OnPage Magazine:
We’ve analyzed over 400.000 projects already and saw a lot of website on-page horror stories. What has been the biggest failure you have found for a client with the help of OnPage.org?
That’s something I won’t be able to tell. Absolute confidentiality is part of the service offered and client’s trust is something I value extremely high. Now occasionally I do investigate large websites which are not among our clients because I am curious and must stay on top of my game.
One factor however has always to be considered the top priority: focus on users first. (Fili Wiese)
I have encountered hair-raising blunders such as non-equal canonicals with noindex being unintentionally passed on to vital parts of the site including the homepage or websites which are not mobile friendly and take over 5 seconds to load. Sometimes the SEO consequences are moderate, such as Google merely mistrusting all canonicals of a site. At times they are grave, including complete loss of visibility.
6. OnPage Magazine:
To identify such crucial issues as sending conflicting signals to search engines you need for sure some special features. Are there features in the OnPage.org toolbox you can’t live without anymore?
There are a lot of features in OnPage.org that make an SEO consultants life much easier. TF*IDF, Custom Fields and Filters come to mind. More fundementally and very relevant to every single On-Page.org user -regardless whether they are advanced or not- is the Indexibility Report. Crawler budget waste is an essential and very common issue of larger websites. It can be solved once underperforming, low and no content pages are identified and the meta-robots noindex or the canonical-tag purposefully applied. The Indexability Report is a great entry point for that investigation as it provides a quick overview on how many pages currently are indexable, potentially duplicates, canonicalized or blocked by the robots.txt.
7. OnPage Magazine:
Maybe one question in general, how do you think search will change and what will website owners need to watch out for in the future.
No doubt Google Search will continue evolving, as it has been over last few years. Following these trends is a flawed strategy though. Anticipating them is the way to go. And that’s best done by focussing on user’s needs, on their feedback and making them happy. Google will always abide to users desires. They prioritise fast loading pages in their search results for a reason, that’s because users do not want to wait, even a millisecond. The future of search in general will be greatly determined by the evolution of the user and how they approach their daily needs and how these translate to search queries. Maintaining focus on users is a foolproof winning strategy for the future, there’s no doubt about it.
Thank you, Fili for the great interview. How can our readers best reach to you if they have any questions?
The best way to reach me and my fellow former senior Google Search Quality team member Kaspar Szymanski is through our website at
SearchBrothers.com. I also have an online marketing events calendar and a mailing list where I share advanced SEO tips at online.marketing.
Published on 09/20/2016 by Eva Wagner.
Who writes here
Eva is an experienced content marketer. Until May 2018 she was a member of online marketing team at Ryte. Using her creativity and the knowledge of current topics, she was responsible for the German Ryte Magazine and the Ryte Wiki. She also organized Ryte’s presence at major trade fairs such as the dmexco in Cologne.Become a guest author »
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