Meet your SEO: Branko Rihtman

Hey guys, welcome to another edition of “meet your SEO” thursday (hope it’s not something trademarked).

I’m using this little introduction to thank you ALL again for making this series a worldwide success. A big LA film studio already contacted me about the possibility to transform this blog series in a TV series. Amazing right? But I’m not gonna give the rights anyway, because I saw their site and it was not SEO optimized at all. I thought it was a contradiction, so I refuse their offer.

So guys, today big day. I had the pleasure to have a chat with Branko Rihtman. Branko is an SEO specialist at RankAbove , a scientist and a father, based in Tel Aviv. But as far as I understood, Branko is going to move soon in England, to do a Ph.D. in Marine Microbiology (damn cool, right?) and to enjoy the amazing european SEO community. You can read something more about him in his blog and on twitter, under the nick @neyne.

The simple thing here to say is: you don’t know him? OK. You are missing one of the smartest SEO out there. I liked him a lot because he is sharp-tongued person, no bullshit but action.

Ok, Branko…let’s give the others the opportunity to meet you and to learn more about you!

Branko Rihtman

When did you enter the SEO world, and why ?

In 2001. Fresh out of the army, looking for a job that was easier than moving furniture, stumbled upon an SEO company. Stayed with them for 8 years before I moved on.

A great tip about onpage optimization?

Onpage optimization? Google became pretty good in understanding what your page is about even without all the rules of thumb we usually use (Title-Description-H1-alt tags). I like finding new and efficient ways to improve my on-site linking structure by combining data from Screaming Frog with organic traffic data from Analytics and backlink data from MajesticSEO to find the best pages to link from to my new content or landing pages.

The most stupid thing people believe about onpage optimization?

Keyword stuffing would be pretty stupid these days. Especially if it is done in the Title tag.

A great tip on how you build links?

I am not a link builder, I am a data guy and a research guy in an SEO platform company, so I don’t sit in the link building trenches. I like seeing creative outreach efforts through social media. Like this one for example.

The most stupid thing you heard about linkbuilding?

“Just write extraordinary content”. This one just pisses me off. Define “extraordinary”. If it was really “extraordinary” it wouldn’t be so easy to write it that everyone can do it. Definitely not for link building purposes. And if everyone reading that golden advice started writing “extraordinary” content, it wouldn’t be extraordinary anymore, would it? Link building has nothing to do with “extraordinary”. It is about “right”. Putting the right content in front of right people who create the right kind of links. It is not some kind of magical, organic thing that happens by itself only because “we are awesome” and “we ride on extraordinary unicorns”. It is a lot of hard work, research and timing.

If you have to explain what you do at a 10 year-old kid , what are you gonna say?

“I make dragons that shoot lasers out of their eyes and can fly into outer space”. No, seriously what does a 10-year old care what I do? I work on the internet, with computers. Help people get found on Google. Something like that.

What do you drink when seoing?

Coffee. Lots of it and very strong. My boss is somewhat of a single malt whiskey fan so every few hours, he lands a shot glass on my table of something whose name i can’t even pronounce. Here’s a pic of all the empty bottles, that should give you an idea of what my liver looks like:

branko and his bottles.

What do you think about SEO community?

We are a real dysfunctional family. On one hand, there are some amazing people in it, ready to help at the first sign of need. I have made some amazing friends over the years. On the other hand, there is a serious amount of hate going on among people in the industry, not all of it unwarranted, but still feels like a cross breed of mafia and a Mexican soap opera. But that’s how it is in close knitted industries, I guess, and if people didn’t care and were indifferent, it would have been worse.

Make yourself a question and give an answer: If you had to choose one SEO tool you would pay money to use, what would it be?

MajesticSEO. If I had to choose only one SEO service I would pay money to use, it would be the SEOBook Forum.

Who is your biggest SEO influence?

I don’t have THE biggest SEO influence, but I do have people I have learned a lot from over the years. Two guys that top that list are Greg Boser and Todd Friesen. They have taught me the eternal SEO truth: “If you ain’t burnin’, you ain’t learnin’.”. Then there are Aaron Wall, John Andrews, Dave Naylor, Rishi Lakhani, Debra Mastaler, Sean Golliher, Rae Hoffman-Dolan, Dennis Goedegebuure, Annie Cushing, Julie Joyce and a whole bunch of people on SEOBook forum who don’t have time for all of the social media chatter cause they are working too hard on promoting their sites.

If you weren’t an SEO, what would you like to do?

As you may know, I am not only an SEO, I am about to start a PhD in Marine Microbiology. I was blessed (cursed?) to have more than one chosen vocation in life and while it may be challenging to balance between the two, it is hugely rewarding and every day in which i get to do both feels like a little win in life.