Latest Posts

Here you’ll find all of my latest blog posts, in date order.

Barry Schwartz Interview – Staying Up To Date With The Latest In SEO, & Search Related News

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Joining me on this episode of the Azeem Digital Asks Podcast is Barry Schwartz, CEO of RustyBrick. He’s the founder of Search Engine Roundtable, and has covered search news for over 17 years (You may recognise him from his famous “not new” replies when people share updates on Twitter). As well as this he is a co-ordinator, speaker, and moderator at many search marketing conferences.

Listen now, right above the subscribe button, or pick your favourite listening platform from this list:

Spotify: Click here
Apple Podcasts:
 Click here

Use a different listening platform? Choose it here.

We have a great conversation about how he keeps up to date with everything going on in search, his origin story, some of the challenges he’s faced, responding to negative comments he gets, and how he manages to get a lot of work done during the day.

As always, please like, rate, share, and subscribe – tell a friend to tell a friend! 

Useful links:

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/

Barry’s website: https://www.rustybrick.com/barry

Barry’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/rustybrick

Barry’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/rustybrick

Search Engine Roundtable: https://www.seroundtable.com/

Search Engine Land: https://searchengineland.com/

John Mueller Podcast Interview & SEO Tips for 2021

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Happy new year! Welcome to 2021. Joining me on the Azeem Digital Asks podcast for the first episode of 2021 is Google’s very own, John Mueller. John is always super helpful over on Twitter, taking time out to help people with their general SEO queries and giving pointers.

Listen now, right above the subscribe button, or pick your favourite listening platform from this list:

Spotify: Click here
Apple Podcasts:
Click here

Use a different listening platform? Choose it here.

John was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to talk about:

  • What his autobiography would be called, if he wrote one.
  • His journey into the industry, starting right from his school days, moving countries – and eventually arriving at Google.
  • Learnings from his years in the industry, as well as running his own companies.
  • Who he sees as inspirational in the industry.
  • What he considers he’s failed at in 2020.
  • The impact of COVID, professionally, and transitioning to remote working.
  • What he does to improve his self development and learning.

We then get onto answering some SEO specific questions sent in by the listeners, which include one from me about Apple potentially launching a search engine. John talks about:

  • The recommended academic/career path to become a top SEO/digital marketer.
  • Responding to algorithm changes, and stopping AI from learning.
  • Who’s responsibility it is to push forward inclusiveness in SERPs.
  • What he thinks about Apple potentially launching their own search engine.
  • Tips and advice to start 2021 on the right foot, and have a successful year.

As always, please tell a friend to tell a friend, please like, rate, subscribe, and share the podcast! 

John’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnMu

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/

Want to be the first to know when new content is coming out? Don’t miss out, subscribe here.

What Makes Izzi Smith?

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For the final episode of 2020, I have an incredible guest – Izzi Smith – a Munich-based SEO with a penchant for SERP optimization, Structured Data, UX, tech SEO, and making people smile with her cheesy jokes and SEO memes. She’s also a regular on the conference speaking circuit, and shares LOTS of useful information.

Listen now, right above the subscribe button, or pick your favourite platform here.

We talk about:

  • Her origins in the industry, moving from Burnley to Munich – having never been abroad or on a plane before!
  • Why she chose a career in SEO.
  • How she learns about SEO and stays up to date, and improves her soft skills.
  • Putting herself “out there” and dealing with impostor syndrome.
  • How she has been coping with COVID restrictions, and tips for people who aren’t fond of remote working.
  • Her biggest failure last year, and what she learned from it.
  • Why SEO needs a “facelift”
  • Advice for people heading into 2021 seeking inspiration.

and so much more!

You’ll really enjoy this episode, possibly more than we did making it. A lot of fun and laughter was had!

As always, please tell a friend to tell a friend, please like, rate, subscribe, and share the podcast! See you in 2021!

Izzi’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/izzionfire

Izzi’s Website: https://izzismith.com/

SEO Memes: https://izzismith.com/seo-memes/

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/

What Makes Rand Fishkin?

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Joining me on the show this week is the awesome Rand Fishkin. He is the cofounder and CEO of SparkToro. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through his blogging, videos, speaking, and his book, Lost and Founder. When Rand’s not working, he’s most likely to be in the company of his partner in marriage and (mostly petty) crime, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you feed him great pasta or great whisky, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.

Listen now, right above the subscribe button, or pick your favourite platform here.

In this episode, we get into:

  • Algorithms, and the responsibility of networks to manage misinformation/disinformation.
  • SparkToro’s high churn rate, and the challenges he’s having with the product.
  • Lessons he’s learned throughout his career.
  • Where, and who Rand draws his inspiration from.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within the industry, and how he went about diversifying MozCon lineups.
  • Why he feels he’s been unsuccessful with his content strategy/marketing for SparkToro during the last year.
  • Where the inspiration came from to write the blog post about leaving Moz, and why he wrote it.
  • How he deals with negative responses to his content.
  • His theory about Google’s deep-learning algorithms weighting unlinked brand mentions more than it it is links by themselves.

..and so much more!

There’s a lot of value to be had from this episode – you won’t want to miss it!


As always, please tell a friend to tell a friend – subscribe, rate, like, and share this – it all helps!

Rand’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/randfish

SparkToro: https://sparktoro.com/

The blog post we discussed: https://sparktoro.com/blog/im-ending-my-tenure-on-mozs-board-welcoming-tara-reed-and-asia-orangio/

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/

What Makes Kirk Williams?

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On this episode of the show, I’m joined by my good friend Kirk Williams, aka PPCKirk – widely renowned PPC Expert, Conference Speaker, and more recently – book author!

We talk all about his journey into the industry, successes and failures, useful marketing tips, and he gives us the lowdown on his recently published book: “Ponderings of a PPC Professional: A Collection of Philosophical, Yet Practical, Observations to Help You Win at Pay-Per-Click Marketing.”

Listen now, right above the subscribe button, or pick your favourite platform here.

Kirk also provides his thoughts on which area of Google Ads he would gladly give up, in order to get full search term visibility back – this is definitely an episode you do not want to miss!

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his micro-agency focused solely on Paid Search Advertising, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero the past 5 years, and is known for his Ecommerce PPC articles across various industry publications.

Pre-COVID, he was an international conference speaker presenting on all things Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads) around the world but now sticks to podcasts and online conferences to share his latest tips on Google Shopping Ads. 

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, 5 children (+1 on the way), Trek bikes, Taylor guitar, books, and little sleep.

As always, please tell a friend to tell a friend, like, rate, and subscribe to the podcast!

Kirk’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/PPCKirk

ZATO Marketing: https://zatomarketing.com/

More about the book: https://zatomarketing.com/ppc-marketing-book/

Podcast Anchor Page: 
https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/

Want to be the first to know when new content is coming out? Don’t miss out, subscribe here.

Episode Transcript:

Azeem Ahmad (00:00):

Hello. And welcome back to another episode of the Azeem Digital Asks podcast, super mega ultra fantastically excited about my guest, a  very good friend of mine. I’m absolutely going to steal his Twitter bio as an introduction, and then give him a better one. He is the PPC guy, ZATO marketing, which I’ve probably pronounced wrong. Sorry. He looks after Microsoft and Google ads. Mr. Shopping, as I call him lots of clients, he’s a husband. He’s a dad of five. That is correct. Five children, absolutely raising his own soccer team… loves coffee. But most importantly, he has recently authored a new book, which we are going to be talking loads about. And most importantly, from what I remember about him, he lives in this part of America where there’s not many people and loads of bears. And he told me that if he ever goes walking, he’s quite likely to probably be attacked by a bear. This is the guy Kirk Williams, Kirk, welcome to the show.

Kirk Williams (00:57):

Thank you so much. Thankfully there are no bears that I’m aware of in the immediate vicinity of my house. So I think I’m okay right now.

Azeem Ahmad (01:06):

If you do get attacked, I think it would make for a great episode!

Kirk Williams (01:12):

Yeah. And too bad. It’s not video as well then.

Azeem Ahmad (01:16):

Oh yeah. Maybe next year I can get you back on, stay alive. Really pleased to have you on, buddy. We will dig into everything about you, everything about the book and a couple of random questions in between. As always, we start with the random icebreaker. I’ve picked this one specifically because I know you’re a big Star Wars fan. So I was going down that sort of route. So, If Aliens landed on earth tomorrow and said to you, Kirk, we want to take you home. Would you go with them and why? Why not?

Kirk Williams (01:49):

That is a good question. A great question. So I have a couple of thoughts. Let’s see first would be because, you know, you noted my family, which by the way, five and one on the way. So, so almost so really working towards that that soccer family. Yes. Yes. Thank you. Because of my family, probably I would have to, I would have to stay home make sure they’re all taken care of, but, but let’s say I had no family. I’d, I’d be interested. I’d have to learn a little bit more about them. I assume we we’d be communicating since they were inviting me along. So I’d probably try to engage them in some conversation, ask them questions that would maybe be of a nature that would help me learn whether they have something nefarious planned, you know, if I could trust them cause of what they’ll do to me when we get there is going to significantly impact whether or not I would go with them. Right. So, I’d love to learn all that, but if it involved an awesome peaceful world that we visit, and I had no family here. Yes, I, I would absolutely love to go visit an alien world. That’d be awesome.

Azeem Ahmad (03:02):

Very solid answer there, yeah. Mine would just be, look, how soon can we go?

Kirk Williams (03:09):

Yeah. Especially in 2020, right? The amount of people in 2019 who would have said yes, we’ll leave. And the amount of people in 2020 is probably increased quite a bit.

Azeem Ahmad (03:21):

Anyway, let’s move swiftly on. I love that answer. Because my introduction was like pretty bad. Do you want to tell the audience a little bit more about yourself?

Kirk Williams (03:30):

No, your introduction was awesome, but yeah. So, you know, let’s see, you covered the book covered Montana. I covered those, those important things. I own ZATO so just a small little agency, we focus specifically on Google and Microsoft ads and really try to kill it for our clients. And, and in the meantime, have a, have a great time enjoying our jobs and, and life while we’re at it too. So that’s, that’s kind of important to me is my own work and, and, and mental ability enable ability to go home to my family and not be constantly on and same thing for my employees as well. So we value that as well. Yeah. So then try to do some writing and speaking to keep myself sharp and knowing what’s going on with the Google ads world. So that’s it that’s Kirk in a nutshell, I guess,

Azeem Ahmad (04:21):

Awesome. PPC Kirk or POP Kirk as I’ve recently seen anyway.

Kirk Williams (04:27):

That was my failed attempt to be funny!

Azeem Ahmad (04:31):

Yeah, caught the end of that and I was like, Oh, you know, when you miss, the conversation, it was not great.

Kirk Williams (04:37):

Well, it stemmed from that SEM Rush and there you go. I said SEM. So when we say S E M Rush or SEMrush, right. And so I was kind of being a little snarky and I said something along the lines of PPC is pronounced. Yeah. It’s like pops or something kind of trying to be a little goofy, like, no you say PPC. So you should say SEM and the joke failed.

Azeem Ahmad (04:58):

It generated some conversation. So you could argue associated in some sense it worked.

Kirk Williams (05:03):

There you go. Maybe it did not fail.

Azeem Ahmad (05:06):

But let’s, let’s dig into a little bit more about you then Kirk. So from the very beginning, like, you know, when was this moment for you? When did you think, “do you know what, I’m going to become a marketer?” When, when was that moment? What happened? Tell me a little bit more about it.

Kirk Williams (05:21):

It was something I stumbled in rather than planned on, so that for sure without a doubt happened I actually went to school for theology. So I have my, I have a bachelor’s and a master’s in biblical theology. And so was actually along the career path more becoming you know, like a full-time pastor rather than a marketer that was not in my career path in any way, shape or form. Wow. And then when I was in seminary, down in Louisville, Kentucky I was working overnights back it’s called at a Target. So, you know do they have Targets in the UK?

Azeem Ahmad (06:03):

There is a similar one. You put me on the spot, but I can’t think of it.

Kirk Williams (06:08):

Yeah. I wasn’t sure if they have Target Corporation or not, but, you know, yeah. It’s basically, it’s a big box store. Right. And so that’s what I was doing as boxes and all night. And then I had, I had, I get home maybe fall asleep for an hour or two and then go to school and got to the point where I was like, I will literally take any job if it allows me to sleep and see my wife. And so, the next job that came along was marketing and I was like, okay, I guess I’m a marketer now. And then believe it or not. Just absolutely loved it. And that’s kinda how it all got started. So kind of an kind of an accidental thing. So

Azeem Ahmad (06:42):

Nice, nice. I think the UK equivalent is like ASDA? Over there that would be Walmart for you, anyway, we’ll just move, we’ll move on quickly. Imagine you’ve got a time machine, you can go back to when you very first started in the industry, but armed with all of the knowledge that you’ve got right now. What advice do you think that you’d give to yourself on day one?

Kirk Williams (07:04):

That is a good question. As, as are all of them. And that’s my attempt at stalling a little bit, so I can, I can have a good answer. I honestly don’t have a great answer for this one, to be honest. Because some of what a journey is you learn stuff as you go. And so sometimes, you know, what you learned, if you can take that back then that might stump like other learnings that you picked up from that process and journey as well. You know I think if maybe, maybe if, if anything, I think I would have gone back and maybe been more intentional about sales and, and just kind of thinking through business and business growth and even, even learning that a little bit more. I just had no idea what I was doing in any way, shape or form with growing a business. And it was just fine. I’m super happy with where I’m at. But, but even just starting to read some books or things like that, and thinking through some of the basics of, of business management and growth would have probably helped me out a lot more.

Azeem Ahmad (08:10):

Nice, very interesting. I’m going to bear that in mind, when I listen back to this. Let’s move on then. For me, it is not a list of top PPC people in the industry if your name isn’t on there, so many will see you as an inspiration for them in the industry… But what about you, Kirk, who inspires you? Who’s a big inspiration for you in the industry?

Kirk Williams (08:32):

I think I’m going to take the political way out and, but it’s, but it’s also the, the true way. I don’t know if a very specific individual comes to mind, but the group of people that is #PPCchat on Twitter is absolutely who have most inspired me and continuing to inspire me. That’s how, and that’s how I got my start really in PPC was just hanging out with, with people, Melissa Mackey, Susan Wenograd, Brad Geddes just all of these people, right. And we would, we’d learned together mostly I would learn and be inspired by all of them. And then I’ve, I’ve just made deep friendships from them along the way as well. And so kind of as a group PPC chat is the reason I’m where I am today, to be honest.

Azeem Ahmad (09:22):

Awesome. Yep. Couldn’t agree more. I think I’ve been in industry a lesser amount of time than yourself, but something like that chat group has been talked about for so many different years and it’s a massive resource. So strongly urge that you check out if you are listening to this. Let’s talk a little bit about ZATO. So tell us a little bit more about ZATO, but most importantly, some of the current challenges that you’ve got with the business now and how are you planning to overcome them?

Kirk Williams (09:52):

Yeah, definitely. So I think I mentioned this at the beginning. ZATO is pretty, you know, we’re pretty small. I would say, I would say if there is a main challenge that we have, it is my own, it is my own failings in terms of like business management and leadership, and I’m not just being falsely humble. We have, we have a good team. We have, in some ways for our small, we are, we even have a fairly decent brand. So we get leads from a variety of different clients and we do a fairly good job overall with that. But I think that just my lack of knowledge of really how to run a, a great business and build in process and how that works into everything, sales and efficiency and all that stuff, which I’m kind of learning on the job.

Kirk Williams (10:46):

I’m, I’m not I’m not fooled at all. That that’s something where it’s probably a different person who really kind of understood that stuff. Like if I had already built and grown a few agencies and then walked into ZATO and exactly everything, you know, start it like I did, I have no doubt that it’d be a different place just because of all the stuff that I would know better about management that I just, I just don’t know. So I’ve, I’ve never even worked in a PPC agency before. Like I said, I stumbled into marketing and from there I started my own little freelance consulting thing, and then I started hiring people and kind of turned it into an agency. So there’s pros to that. And then there’s, there’s cons as well, which I’m very willing to admit.

Azeem Ahmad (11:26):

Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s very open and honest as well. I don’t think I’ve had a guest who’s been that open from before about management style and how they would change that, which is definitely interesting to hear. So thanks a lot for sharing that. Let’s talk about COVID then. How, how has COVID affected the business, if any, and how did you respond to that?

Kirk Williams (11:50):

Yeah, there, there were, there’s two spins to it. Two stages. COVID the first stage was the, oh crap, we’re screwed, like everyone else, very in the very beginning. And, and that was for me, that was solely based in the unknown and not in reality, which is really nice. And that weighs into the second stage because when we first, when everything first started hitting the fan and it probably everyone listening can attest to this, there was just so much unknown with everything that it, it impacted everything. It impacted. You know, the market, you know the market in the US here tanked, I think it was like March 15th, 16th, something like that. And so that impacted, people’s willingness to buy certain things that impacted people going out and buying stock loads of toilet paper and things like that. So it just changed things in a lot of unknown ways.

Kirk Williams (12:41):

And then that was also early on enough in the virus where we’re, we’re kind of all wondering, I mean, what is going to happen, right? I mean, is this going to kill like millions of people? Is it going to kill hundreds of thousands? Is it going to kill a billion? You know, there was so much unknown that that itself worked into some of our clients in terms of we had, right in the beginning, we had clients who would delay payment to us. We had some clients who were very much in like, COVID, COVID impacted industries travel, right or specifically, sorry, not for us travel, but specifically for us events, we had clients in the events. We had clients in restaurant equipment type stuff was so very, very much impacted by that. So initially to be honest, there was quite a bit of fear of what’s going to happen.

Kirk Williams (13:33):

Then as things started settling down, we kind of realized a few months after that, then we actually started to see a growth then, because a number of, I think different clients were tightening their belts, taking a second look at maybe their, their current agencies, or maybe they would get rid of an in-house person to, to try an agency, whatever it might be. And then we actually started getting some leads and, and, and even saw a little bit of growth there because of that. So it was just it was, it was a, it was a rollercoaster ride for us a little bit, and we’re in honestly a decent place than before, so I’m happy about now. So yeah.

Azeem Ahmad (14:15):

Well, that’s good to hear. And hopefully that continues and the growth continues. I would strongly suspect it’s down to your brilliant pricing model that you’ve mentioned in the book, but we will talk about that shortly. So about yourself then again, as I’ve mentioned you’re constantly on these, these lists of top PPC’ers, as you’re constantly doing really great work, and many people say, look, this is the guy to listen to when he speaks, how, how do you get to that level? How do you learn and gain knowledge, how you keep it on top of everything that’s going on in the industry, which seems to change so much, how do you do that?

Kirk Williams (14:47):

Yeah, it is tiring. I was just talking to someone about this the other day, you know, it’s, there’s something that is kind of consciously discouraging about knowing something and learning it and investing, you know, maybe a decade of, of knowledge into a specific thing in Google, and then having that change. Right. where then maybe for that specific entity, let’s say all of a sudden, you know, just as much as like the intern does, right. And that has almost a psychological impact on me sometimes where sometimes it’s just kind of, it’s hard, it’s a little discouraging at times to realize all of this knowledge that I’ve had while sometimes it’s more on those soft skills or, or marketing information strategically, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of knowledge, but sometimes tactically, when you’re going to one of your teammates, who’s been working at working in PPC for like two years, rather than whatever, 10 or 11, and you’re asking them, Hey, how do I find this, in the Google ads UI, right.

Kirk Williams (16:00):

It’s kind of frustrating. So I fully admit sometimes to be in a little bit discouraged of, Oh man, I got to almost like I got to relearn something that I already spent time relearning that in my career. Right. The flip side of that being, at some point, you just got to kind of accept that. And that’s part of where we’re at. And I think this year for me has been that of really kind of wrestling with that and moving into that acceptance side of just, this is the way it is. Keep reading blog posts, keep learning, keep digging into things, keep challenging yourself. So you know, how I do that would be like, I know to try not try to stay up on different solid industry blogs. I actually wrote just recently a blog post that covers for just PPC beginners. If you’re wanting to learn PPC, here’s a, here’s a lot of resources.

Kirk Williams (16:48):

And one of those sections is blogs that I follow. So like Tinuiti is an awesome resource. Really has some phenomenal people there with Elizabeth Marsten, Andy Taylor, He used to, Andy Taylor used to do a lot of the number crunching stuff and sharing that Merkel. Now, he now he’s at Tinuiti. So there’s like a really heavy having a glimpse into what some industry stuff is doing. They just released black Friday, cyber, Monday numbers for their clients. Right. so Tinuiti is one of them that I follow like, like keeping an eye on Clix Marketing, blog posts, Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Journal, of course, PPC hero. So I think a lot of those are a good place to start. And then definitely trying to keep up with various books in that there hasn’t been as many PPC books for sure, over the last couple of years as there used to be. But all of a sudden we are looking at a few different ones. Let’s see, Frederick Vallaeys book on machine automation machine learning automation I think it’s called something like future-proofing your digital marketing agency is a, is a great read that he just released, I think last year I’m currently reading a book by Patrick Gilbert called join or die. And I would recommend that book to anyone in digital marketing. It is, it is an absolutely phenomenal read. So yeah, just, just trying to stay up on all that stuff.

Azeem Ahmad (18:13):

Awesome. Yeah. I’ll definitely share some links. I’ve read Frederick’s book and I agree. It’s absolutely brilliant. And I think even going back and reading it now this year, a lot of things that may not have been as relevant or stand out immediately would come straight back and think, well, actually, yeah, this is making a lot of sense now, which is quite interesting. Before we talk about the book then, let’s talk a little bit about failure then. Kirk, something that I ask every guest: What do you think in the last 12 months has been the biggest failure for you? Why do you think that it happened?

Kirk Williams (18:47):

Yeah, that’s I don’t mind talking about failure because I dunno, I, I look around and we all, we all have pros and cons, right. I even referenced that in my book a little bit. So believe it or not. I don’t, I don’t mind sharing some of this stuff. You know, I, I look at the last 12 months and some of that is I covered this in the appendix of my book, but our personal lives and our business lives often, it’s, it’s hard to separate those. Especially as we think about things like mental health and that, which I think is very important. And so I look at the past year of my personal life and kind of how that impacted our stuff professionally. I won’t go into all the details, but we had a number of things change pretty significantly in our personal life at the beginning of 2020 that even went beyond COVID.

Kirk Williams (19:34):

We had major home foundation issues that really impacted us. We, we, we basically, we basically got forced out of our home and kind of had to do a lot of financial changes in that that impacted a lot of that stress of that. Plus some illness stuff for my wife. We, we actually lost a an unborn baby at the time, you know, things like that. So that, that all happened. We moved out of our old house the day before the first Montana COVID lockdowns. So, we actually had to move into my in-law’s basement cause that that’s literally all we could do you know, during all that. And so basically in some ways like 2020 for my personal life was kind of this little bit of a shambles thing. And, and I think that what I would say looking at 2020 is I really struggled, just kind of not letting my feelings and emotions drive a lot of my decision-making.

Kirk Williams (20:35):

And so, so thankfully I think I did overall okay. With client communication and things like that. But there, there was a point in the past few months here where I’ve had to kind of really kind of try to, to coach myself a little bit and saying this, all of this is what it is. At some point like you can’t keep avoiding meetings cause you’re just, you know, drained emotionally and all that stuff. You can’t go on vacation right now because literally none of us can go out. Like there’s all that sort of stuff where there’s some level of at some point it just might be time to say, yep, it’s hard right now. Let’s get back in the game. And I wish that I had done that a little bit earlier. Cause I think overall, we did. Okay. I think overall that didn’t really negative. I don’t think it negatively impacted any of our clients to be honest, a lot of that’s my team. They’re awesome. But a lot of it was my own kind of personal interior stuff going on. And, and I think I should have controlled that a little bit quicker in the year. So super long winded answer maybe, but there it is.

Azeem Ahmad (21:42):

No, no, very open and very honest. And as I mentioned, when I shared this on Twitter, I really enjoyed reading the appendix of the book. Like I said, very open and honest, thank you very much for sharing it. And of course, I can’t carry on without saying, I’m very sorry to hear about your loss, and I think without giving too much away from the book, the very last point you make in the appendix is going to resonate with so many people. And they’re going to be like, you know what? This, this really makes sense! So, before we speak about the book, I’m going to ask you a question that I haven’t prepared you for. And I know you kind of touched on it in the book, but I really want to see what your answer is.

If you had to give up one area in Google Ads or one part of it to get full search term visibility back, what would it be and why?

Kirk Williams (22:24):

So basically, so basically if I could, if I could swap out something like, if we had to lose something, but we get search terms back, what would it be?

Azeem Ahmad (22:32):

Yep, yep.

Kirk Williams (22:36):

This is going to be a funny answer. And it might be one that I change my mind on in the future. All right. But here it is. I’ll throw it out there. I just, I just don’t really care about quality score much. In any way, shape or form it’s, it’s an indicator light, which is cool and okay. But also like it is what it is. So, so in the hands of a good marketer, a Google Ads campaign, an account, it is what it is and truly. So I do think there are helpful things sometimes if keeping an eye on quality score and maybe trying to update a landing page, things like that. But I would constantly point us back with quality score. Most of the time, all those things are stuff that we should be doing anyways. Like regardless of what quality score is, we should make sure that our landing pages match up with our keywords, you know, things like that. Right. So, in some ways I think Google could remove quality score and hopefully they’re not listening here because let’s, let’s just stop removing things! All right. Let’s agree to, let’s agree to never remove anything else from Google, but there’s my answer. Quality score is something that some, for some people it’s this huge, huge deal, and it’s just not really been a big deal for me. So yes,

Azeem Ahmad (23:47):

Love that. I think when I first started in industry, I saw that somebody had shared like a script where you can monitor this stuff daily. And I was like, yes, I’m going to do this. But then I just wasted too many, too long, looking at how the numbers fluctuated rather than actually doing the work – so fully on board with you there. Let’s move on. Let’s talk about the book for anybody who doesn’t know about the book. Do you want to share a little bit more about it? You want to tell us more about the book and what it is?

Kirk Williams (24:10):

Sure. Yeah. So, “Ponderings of a PPC Professional” is the title of the book. And then there’s a subtitle that honestly is so long. I never remember it either. Something about philosophy and observations. Yeah, I mean, I mean, that’s, that’s what it is. It is the reader getting kind of, almost insight into me, like having a conversation with myself and thinking through stuff about digital marketing? I don’t know. I think that’s how I described the book. It’s not a book that’s going to tell you here, here are the, here’s the specific tactical ways that you should implement that you should monitor quality score. How about that? It’s, it’s not a book that’s going to say, how does the machine learning algorithm work? Well, let’s see, let’s, let’s tear that apart and look into that and which by the way, go read Fred or Patrick’s books that I shared earlier for that sort of thing.

Kirk Williams (25:07):

Right. they’re very helpful. And, and somewhat technical in that at least Patrick says, Fred, I know is, is also kind of looking at the philosophy of machine learning in that, but this is almost more, they are kind of random. It’s a random assortment of thoughts of things that over the years, I’ve just, I’ve pondered had conversation had deep and long and multiple conversations with about things like attribution. What are things that we need to think through as we think about attribution? So maybe the way to describe it would be, it’s not a book that’s going to tell you, here’s the attribution model that you should use. It’s a book that’s going to say, what are ways that, that we need to, that we need to be to suspicious of how attribution is used and what it’s trying to tell us, right? What are, what are some weaknesses may be in it that at least we should be aware of as we’re thinking about it?

Kirk Williams (25:58):

So in that way, it’s like really my ultimate goal as, as I state, even in like the introduction that my ultimate goal truly is not to necessarily convince you of a specific point. Although at times I try to do that, really my ultimate goal is I want someone to read that book and walk away, just having thought through some of this stuff more than they did before, and maybe being a little bit further in thinking through, okay, now that I know that about attribution, okay. Now what does that mean? Like how do, how do I, how do I now treat my clients in that, thinking through that stuff now that I’ve thought through attribution more so, yeah. How how’s that for a book intro?

Azeem Ahmad (26:37):

Yeah. Very good. Very good. I’ve had an Amazon author on the podcast before and you’re pushing them close, I’m going to tell you that. So tell me then about the process from start to finish. How long did that take from when you first had the idea, to when you first got a copy of the physical book in your hand?

Kirk Williams (26:57):

Yeah, so a lot of, a lot of the chapters, most of them are, are essays that I’ve written in the past. So in some ways it was more of a man. I bet if I kind of think through this really edit them, overhaul them, update them, compile them and do all that. I think there’s a good book there. So that’s, that’s really what started it. So in some ways, it’s not that I decided I’m going to write a book and sat down and just wrote it from front to cover. Right. from the point of first kind of really thinking, I think I’d like to do this. And so, so in that sense, you know, this took years and years in the other sense. I don’t know. I, when I kind of get into my mind to do something, I just, I really want to just do it and get it done. So, I don’t, I don’t think it was very long, maybe two or three months. I just really tried to push, push it out, but it was a lot of work, a lot of late nights. Yeah.

Azeem Ahmad (27:51):

I can imagine. You’ve segued very nicely into my next question then. It’s about writer’s block. So do you believe in writer’s block?

Kirk Williams (27:59):

I do. I mean, definitely it hits, it’s probably, I think maybe it hits some people more than others. I mean, there are times where we all experience a little bit of it, but for the most part, I don’t really have that issue. I do try to keep just keep, keep my thoughts moving enough and written down in notes and things like that. So when it’s time for me to write, I could usually just kind of sit down and roll, but every once in a while I do experience it. And I, and I know some people probably, probably people who write a lot more commonly, I would have to think if for an author who’s just kind of always writing books. I could definitely see that becoming a struggle. Yeah.

Azeem Ahmad (28:40):

Yeah. Interesting point that you made about your thoughts there, because I wanted to ask you if anything, what did you leave out of the book? What didn’t you include?

Kirk Williams (28:50):

I don’t, I don’t know if I have any…One thing that after the fact I thought, Oh, I’d really like to include that. In fact, there was one thing that I, the, so the book has done and almost totally, no, it was fully edited. I forgot. Cause I, I used an actually I used a family member who is a grammatical genius in that. She used to work for the, for the city and all that. So, I actually used to use her to edit it. So it was fully finished and edited and I thought, you know, it would be amazing because I’ve, I’ve never really seen a, a really solid, detailed essay or chapter or anything on like just different PPC pricing models. And it’s just something that I’m personally interested in. And I have lots of thoughts on pros and cons and I just kind of wanted to think through all that stuff.

Kirk Williams (29:41):

And so I almost didn’t include it in there because it wasn’t fully written in the book was basically done. And then I thought, you know, that would be, that would be a regret. Like I’d always be like, ah, the book would have even been in my opinion, been even better with that. So, I just, I did the work and got it in and we re-edited. I wrote it, we edited it again. And finalized it. So, so right now I don’t think I have anything I wish would have been in there, but I’m sure that’ll change in like six months.

Azeem Ahmad (30:13):

Well, I’ll ask you about that shortly, but often when you say things like that, and having had the pleasure of meeting you, and as you mentioned about your family, I always say to you like, look, when do you sleep?! So that answer really doesn’t surprise me.

Tell me about writing the book and how you felt, how did writing the book, what did that process feel like and how did it feel when you knew that you’d finished and you’d finally finished that process?

Kirk Williams (30:38):

Yeah, so

Kirk Williams (30:42):

I basically disliked the book by the time I was done, because I knew, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you before. So I also like music and so I like play. I actually played my church every week and that sort of thing with the band. And, and sometimes, you know, if we have a song that we’re struggling with and we practice it so much, it almost gets to the point where like you’re playing it and you might even be playing it flawlessly. And you’re just kinda like, I don’t like the song anymore because you know it so well. Right. That’s kind of the way I felt with, by the time I was done in the book, because I also, and I’m waiting for this to happen. I’m waiting for Amazon to finish my review, but I also have an audible version coming that I, that I actually read myself.

Kirk Williams (31:20):

And so, but it needs to be reviewed and it’s been in review for like a month. But so by the time I had finished, I wrote it all, which, you know, that’s fun and all that. And you’re really excited. I always get super excited when I’m writing something, a chapter or an essay or something. I just, I just it’s like, I just have to get this, have to get this on paper and, and, and blast through it. But then after it, I had spent, I spent so much time editing and going through all the work and rewriting and editing and then, and then reading it all, you know, like reading it and then like rereading parts. And that, by the time I was done, I was kind of like, Oh, I’m kind of done with this book for a little bit. So funny. I knew it too. Well, I guess.

Azeem Ahmad (32:03):

Yeah. I bet. Well, I suspect, I know the answer to the next question, but I will ask it anyway. Do you have any plans for any further work like this?

Kirk Williams (32:11):

No specific plans, but yeah, I’d love to. I mean, it’s, I writing a book was always a bucket list item. And I, and I just really enjoy writing. So there’s kind of this level of like, yeah, man, I’d love to do that. Like, it was like a day after I finished and I was like, Oh my goodness. That was, I’m so glad that I sent it off. You got off in the, in the Kindle, direct publishing all that, like I’m done. And it was like a week later, I kid you, not that I mentioned, to my wife, I was like, I kind of want to write another book and she’s going like, Oh geez. You know, so nothing specific planned, but I would love to, again, I’m sure she’ll be pleased to hear that. We won’t tell her. Yeah.

Azeem Ahmad (32:57):

Unless she listens to this and if you are listening, hello! Last thing, then, if anyone, for any reason is unsure about whether they should buy the book or not, what would you say to convince them?

Kirk Williams (33:10):

Well, in my opinion, book pricing is an, is an interesting and intriguing thing to me because I look at book pricing. And if you really think of it, so, you know, someone who’s on the fence, it’s kind of funny because a person could look at a Kindle book like mine. So in the US mine costs nine 99. So 10 bucks Kindle, I think it’s 17 bucks paperback. And so whatever the equivalent in, in British pounds is. Right. and I look at that and it’s funny because, and I do the, I do the same thing. I look at that and I’m like, you know, 10 books, 10 bucks on a digital book, let’s say I will drop 10 bucks on a cheeseburger on a nice, on a good cheeseburger and French fries. Right. Without a doubt for just a quick little lunch. Right. But then there’s something about a book where I’m like, I don’t know, you know, I don’t know if I should spend the same amount out of this cheeseburger that will actually not be healthy.

Kirk Williams (34:10):

And so I look at that. So in some ways, that’s why I started with that comment about book pricing. Because in some ways, if you think about it, book pricing is kind of funny and the market is kind of funny because you definitely have bad books out there, but for, for a book, it’s kind of like, if you, if you wade through it, if you get through it and you pick up one thing, just one thing, that’s, it doesn’t even have to be other things, but you pick up one thing that either helps your business, like sell better or helps your clients a little bit better. And you keep that client longer or is that there, or that makes you a more well-rounded person. And so you’re more valuable to your boss someday, you get a raise, you know, all that stuff, literally just one thing.

Kirk Williams (34:50):

Then you like paid only $10 to significantly improve your life, you know? And that, and that, to me, that’s the power of a book. Right. And so if someone is just like, I don’t know if I’m ready to spend, I don’t, I don’t know if I’m ready to spend a cheeseburger price on this book. That’s some, that’s probably one thing that I’d say on that book and almost any other book as well. Like you might, you might gain that one thing that really intrigues you and helps you in life for honestly, an exceptionally low price. So jump in, get it and, and learn something.

Azeem Ahmad (35:24):

Love that. That’s a brilliant answer. I’ve not heard that analogy before. It’s a great way to put it. Sadly, we are coming to the end, but I do have a couple more questions for you. The first one is – “the funnel is dead. Change my mind.” No, I’m absolutely joking!

Kirk Williams (35:38):

Haha, for those not aware of it, that’s a chapter in the book.

Azeem Ahmad (35:47):

So listen, we sort of swap roles right now and you get to be the interviewer talking to Kirk. What question would you ask yourself that I haven’t asked you already?

Kirk Williams (35:53):

I do not have an answer for that, because to be honest, like, I feel like the questions you asked were really, really well done. Yeah. I don’t, I, I, I don’t think I have a good answer for that. Awesome. Sorry. Yeah.

Azeem Ahmad (36:10):

Thank you very much. I will take that! And you did touch on it earlier on about music. So if you do listen to music, when you need to get deep in that zone for like data analysis, hardcore quality score monitoring, what is in your ears? What do you listen to? If anything?

Kirk Williams (36:27):

Yes. Absolutely have a top data crunching in the zone artists, and that is “the war on drugs”. So someone introduced me to them and it’s just this, like, I don’t know even how to describe it. It’s, it’s kind of almost this own genre, but it’s, there’s almost a Bob Dylan feel to it. It’s, it’s easy listening, but it kind of drives along as well. I just, I love it. Love the guitar parts.

Azeem Ahmad (36:56):

Awesome. Sadly, this is the end of the podcast. I think we could be talking for hours, but for me it’s like almost bedtime, like in the evening, and your day is probably just beginning. Thank you very much, Kirk, for being an absolutely brilliant guest, as expected, you have not let me down. Of course, if people wanted to find out more about you. How can they do that? How can they get in touch with you? Where can they follow you? Share your details.

Kirk Williams (37:22):

Yeah. Well, and thank you for being a brilliant interviewer. So serious about that. I loved it. Loved the questions. So yeah, you can, you can hit up my website if you want to know more about our business and you know, Google ads management. So ZATOmarketing.com. You can learn more information about my PPC book by visiting PPC marketing book.com or it’s on Amazon. And you can always just search for Ponderings of a PPC Professional or, or even just PPC marketing. The book should pop up pretty close to the top. So yeah, go check it out.

Azeem Ahmad (37:55):

Awesome. Thank you very much, Kirk. And as I do with all of my guests – open forum – within reason, the last word on this podcast is all yours. So feel free to take it away.

Kirk Williams (38:06):

Thank you. Thank you. I don’t, I don’t think I have too much to add other than what we’ve said. But I would just note, as I said, and kind of what my book is trying to do, which is to get you to think is keep at it. Keep learning keep, keep learning new things. Don’t give up on that and always be willing to think about different viewpoints. Try to try to find both sides of a viewpoint and a that’s going to help us. That’s going to help us all learn and grow together in our industry.