AMA: Asad Zulfahri

AMA: Aaron Gottlieb
September 19, 2016
AMA: Damian Jennings
September 30, 2016
The Asad Zulfahri AMA is happening on Wednesday 14th of December at 10AM PST (1PM EST)
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Asad Zulfahri started as an independent webmaster in early 2007 and was introduced to the world of SEO later that year. Even before college, he worked freelance as a copywriter, web hosting provider, and PHP coder. After graduating with a degree in Computer Science, he briefly worked at a small digital SEO agency and then moving on to Monster Technologies Malaysia.

Asad is currently the Wizard of SEO at Monster Worldwide, a global online employment solution for people seeking jobs and the employers who need great people. He has overseen the organic growth of job seekers at Monster since he joined in early 2015 as the pioneering Technical SEO Lead. His job is to lead the Technology team to implement scalable SEO enhancements and advise on technical SEO best practices.
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Reach out to him if you’d like to talk about technology, business or movies – https://www.ibnuasad.org/

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Asad ZulfahriSEO Wizard, Monster – Transcript

Asad Zulfahri was the pioneering Technical SEO Leadat Monster Worldwide, the global job seeking platform. He joined us to talk about his work at monster.com a month after he had left that company for a position at Zapier.

The AMA with Asad was held on December 14th, 2016. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.

 

What was the biggest challenge you overcame at such a big company?

Biggest challenge is going through all the various levels of approvals to get things done, even simple things.

What’s the biggest mistake you see people starting out making with the technical SEO efforts?

Blindly implementing something without first thinking whether this actually applies to their use-case or why it’s actually needed.

What’s the most challenging technical SEO riddle you’ve had to solve?

Experimenting with asyncJavascript delivered via GTM. See whether Google could pick-up on-page changes and how long does it take to actually see it in SERP!

What is the one thing that Monster wasn’t doing that surprised you?

Proper tag management. They had a paid solution, but nobody really owned it! Adding a simple google verification was an adventure!

Have you had the pleasure of working with Jason Feingold or Jon Queen?

Nope

What is your recommended method for link building?

Community outreach and co-marketing with partners of course!

What is the advice/material/source that you would like a beginner to start with?

https://moz.com/learn/seo

What SEO tools are they using at monster.com?

Main go-to-tool was BrightEdge but there are custom internal solutions we built.

What are some keywords you are having a super hard time getting ranking for?

At Monster, we were already ranking very well for job related keywords but somehow Indeed keeps killing us!

Why does website traffic go down after you switch from http to https? How can you fix that without going back to http?

When we switched to https, we did not see a dip in traffic, it actually increased.

What’s one piece of advice that you wish people would follow for SEO?

Keep on experimenting. There are a lot of new developments that Google tests with select partners. The only way to get ahead is keep experimenting and dive into the data!

What was the result of length of time required for the SERP to reflect asyncjs on-page changes with GTM?

2-3 weeks. + Manual request to submit to index on GSC.

Can you recommend any good books to learn SEO?

I’ve never actually got a physical book, but I did start my career with seobook.com. A good place to really read, learn and keep up to date is moz.com

What do you think are the best ways to outrank competitors in the SERPS?

Make use of Structured Data where applicable and create better content. People naturally share good content, and having good backlinks (regardless of nofollow or not) will slowly and surely improve rankings!

Coming from a beginner in the industry, what has been the biggest mistake you’ve made and how did you make sure it didn’t happen again?

One thing I learned is that to be an effective in the SEO industry, you need to be able to speak in layman with management/marketing team AND also be able to talk to developers. Ultimately, developers are your friends!

What is the best way to find and target long tail keywords for a given page?

Well keyword research is best done before your build the page. It’s really about ensuring that a user intent is satisfied. I use UberSuggest and AnswerThePublic to find main keywords, then combine them into KeywordShitter to spit out long tails. Dump them into ahrefs and see which best fits the content/intent.

Are you a developer?

Partially. I can code (PHP, C#, Python) and have a Computer Science background. A medium-level coder at best.

What was the most effective programmatic SEO change you made that impacted thousands or hundreds of thousands of pages?

Look at the competitors’ structure. Have your UX team dive in and make it better! Also look for templated titles and description for starters. Eventually you’ll need to do some manual work to have better content.

Have you had success with Rich Snippets at all? If so, was there anything specific you did to allow them to show?

Proper lists markup and tables (yes the old <td><tr>) works wonders!

Btw, I left Monster.com about a month ago and joined Zapier.com. Today is actually my 1 month anniversary at Zapier!

What’s the best performing piece of content you have?

Conversions – monster.com/career-advice/

 Traffic – monster.com/jobs/

If you have limited content on a page, do you duplicate it in the title, desc, img alt text and other places? Talking less than 100 words of content and a unique image. I have 250,000 pages I’m trying to rank for long tails.

Not purposely. If it’s absolutely relevant and natural, go for it.

How has Monster adapted in recent years from being able to rank for “job + business name” to a much more complex SERPs now?

Building a specialised technical SEO team to focus on implementing things at scale quickly. Get higher level access so we can make quick changes without waiting for a release cycle. Interesting note is that before I joined, SEO was only a team of 1. I was the first hire for Technical SEO in Malaysia, and we expanded the team to allow for more bandwidth in pushing things out.

If you had only $250/mo to spend on marketing tools, what tools would you use?

Ahrefs&SEMRush.

What custom internal solutions did the team build?

Things that connect to various SEO tools that we’re already using. Essentially a custom BI tool.

Can you explain what BrightEdge offers that the cheaper tools don’t?

Granular reporting and custom internal integrations. Also having an account manager to build dashboards for you is nice.

Are there different content formats that you find work better/worse?

Infographics is a hard nut to crack. Unless you built something amazing and it went viral or you’re already an established site, infographics are the worst! Also if you haven’t heard of Zapier, head over to zapier.com/about/ – we’re a fully remote team…yes no office. Even our CEO works from his apartment! Subdomains vs Subdirectories anyone? https://www.sistrix.com/blog/case-study-monsters-monster-growth-on-google/

 

Thanks all who participated and to AsadZulfahri for the AMA!