An Interview with Lars Koudal, SEO

larsLars Koudal is a brilliant SEO and a terrific guy to boot. He has been making some truly exciting WordPress plugins lately. And that’s how we met.

Check out our recent interview below.

Me: How good at SEO is WordPress “out of the box” in your opinion?

Lars: WordPress is fantastic in terms of SEO, and works perfectly out of the box. There are a few things I usually change, such as permalink settings and a couple of plugins to ensure the tags and categories are properly set up for SEO, but apart from that, WordPress is spot on.

Me: Can you give us an overview of the plugins you have already? And any “coming soon” plugins?

Lars: I like developing, and usually a plugin is developed for my own specific needs, and if deemed good enough and/or interesting enough, I produce a public plugin.

My most popular plugin to date is SEO Booster PRO , which is also the first plugin I developed. It works straight out of the box and has a happy following of customers. I’ve also developed myVideoPoster which posts Youtube videos automatically on WordPress blogs. Several of the customers use it to post only their own videos from Youtube, and the amount of time they save is worth the investment alone. It can do a lot more than that, but that is another story.

I’ve also developed mySEOStatus , which tracks your ranking and backlink indexation in all the major search engines. Its a fast way to get a quick overview of how your blog is progressing.

Now, I like the mindset of the WordPress community, where people are very giving (in general) so I also like to develop free plugins such as myUsersPingForMe , which lets your users automatically ping the RSS aggregators, so they know you have new stuff on your blog, and tells them to come visit.

And only last week I released Delete Duplicate Posts which can help bloggers who for one reason or another end up having a lot of duplicate posts on their blog.

I’m currently working on myTwitterBooster which is growing into an amazing powerhouse for utilizing instant Twitter traffic, but I’m facing the constant problem for any WordPress developer: Different server setups. The plugin has been working perfectly for a long period of time on the main test-blog, but fails randomly in strange areas on others. I never put out a plugin that has a bug (that I’m aware of), so the process is still going on.

Me: Why did you decide to develop plugins for *Wordpress* specifically?

Lars: I almost exclusively use WordPress for my own projects, so it was a no brainer. Although the documentation is lacking in some areas, and the new functions introduced in new releases are hardly ever announced properly to the developers, WordPress has a lot of powerful functions built in, that helps and speeds up development a lot.

Me: What kind of strategies do you like to use to rank better in the search engines, and how do your pluins help further those strategies?

Lars: My basic strategy is to ensure proper on-site SEO, and then to focus on content. Back-linking strategies vary, but I do tend to develop small tools and/or widgets that bring interest and backlinks from around the net. Some clients might require article marketing or link-buying, but the value of that has diminished somewhat over the last few years.

As part of the on site SEO, SEO Booster PRO comes into play. Especially with the recent algorithm change Google introduced. This algorithm change put a lot more attention on on-site SEO, which the plugin does very well. The plugin actually tracks what kind of search engine traffic you are already receiving, and based on the settings in the plugin, creates site-wide links to the individual pages with the targeted keyword/phrase

There are a lot of other nice things it can do, which can turn any blog into a self-optimizing powerhouse.

Me: Have you ever done blackhat SEO and what were your experiences? If not, why have you avoided it?

Lars: I think anyone who has worked with SEO has tried dipping his/her feet in the blackhat world. I’ve tried, but I stay away from any tactics which can be deemed blackhat. Some work quite well and quite quickly, but usually only for a shorter period of time, whereas proper whitehat strategies bring more long-term effect.

But, then again, the term is somewhat fluent, anything that automates processes such as SEO Booster PRO or myVideoPoster would be deemed blackhat by some, but that is a matter of opinion.

Me: Do you think Yahoo/Bing will ever catch up to Google?

Lars: I think Googles market dominance is here to stay. If Google ever should look over their shoulder it should be for another startup company such as themselves. I was working with the Internet before Google ever showed up, and I followed their rise from the sideline.

I recently read a book about Google “Planet Google” by Randall Stross, and although they were lucky in terms of timing and in their skill, another company could overtake them eventually. But I doubt it will be Yahoo or Bing, no matter how much they market themselves.

Me: What is the SEO community currently Over-Hyping?

Lars: Hmm.. The SEO community is over-hyping keyword research. I do my keyword research like anyone else working with SEO, but in my experience you can focus intently on a range of keywords/phrases, but your website might suddenly start ranking highly for another keyword/phrase and start bringing in unexpected traffic. That has happened to quite a few of my older and more mature websites.

I do not believe that keyword research should not be done, and it must be done properly, but the SEO community seems to be focusing intently on a single range of keyword/phrases for a project, and totally ignoring the fact that a lot of traffic can happen naturally if you properly optimize your site and have interesting content that people naturally link to and visit.

I remember years back I was working on a personal project where I focused on a tight list of 5 keywords, and I actually managed to jump into the top 3 for the main keyword (and shortly visited the #1 spot), but when I looked at my statistics, less than 5% of my overall search traffic came from that keyword in the same period of time.

Me: What is the SEO community totally missing that is actually very important?

Lars: The SEO community has a focus that is all over the place. I track hundreds of SEO-related blogs in my RSS feed, and from the information I get there I can say that the most overlooked aspect is dynamic SEO.

I believe Eli from bluehatseo.com coined the phrase , at least that’s where I first noticed it. Dynamic SEO is where you take into account the fluency of the net and the changes in ranking that happens constantly. Dynamic SEO takes this into account automatically and changes its focus depending on the external factors.

SEO Booster PRO is actually a dynamic SEO tool, and changes its focus depending on what kind of traffic you receive, not what kind of traffic you think you should receive.

Me: Is there anything else you’d want to tell the readers here who just want to rank better in the SE’s?

Lars: Buy my plugins! :-) No, seriously. Onsite SEO is extremely important, but the content is even more important. I keep telling my clients to focus their attention on the content for actual better rankings, but the advise I try to give regarding ranking is to take a look at their own site before they do that.

Most people are just focused on getting to #1, but what does that matter if your homepage does not actually convert? It could be either convert search engine visitors to customers, sign up to a newsletter, or to just leave a message.

If their site does not have interesting content nor give the visitors a reason to stick around or even return, what point is it being at the #1 spot?

{End of Interview.}