Michel de Bakker


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Michel de Bakker, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Michel started SEO more than 20 years ago and he is known as the lord (?) of underground SEO in some circles.

While most SEOs learn from blogs and courses, he builds his own software to test Google’s algorithm and creates a solution.

He has been successfully coaching and running a branding agency for years.

Some of his clients include U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and Schlitterbahn. His motto is “No Challenge, No Fun!”

Please feel free to ask anything related to SEO.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.

Please subscribe to our new Twitter account for the latest updates.



Table of Contents

How did you get started in SEO? What does “Lord of underground SEO” encompass exactly?

I started in 1998 with my first website.

I then became a SEO specialist in my country for a few large brands and the rest is history.

The Lord of was made up by Steven but I won’t deny it.

I’m above ground most of the time now, but looked at how to beat Google every way I could. SEO, Adsense, PPC you name it.

SEO plugins helps in ranking? Are you using Sitemaps generate by Seo plugins?

I use seopress after a lot of research. I create my own sitemaps.

Self create Sitemaps? How I’m using Google xml plugin for mine?

I use it too, but that means I don’t let a SEO plugin do it.

That was the question.

Best places to learn more advanced ppc strategies?

I started Google ads in 2004.

I bought everything Perry Marshall ahd and I still think he’s the master!

Tips on planning content to boost rank of an ecom products store?

Ecom is always difficult or at least it seems that way if you think content is KING!

I know ffor a fact content isn’t KING.

However do you need content?

Yes, so it will help.

You shoudl use it on your product page but a Blog helps too and then link from witthin.

What weightage do you give guest posts in link building, what is importance of forum and comment backlinks to you?

I don’t use any of them.

You do seo without backlinks?

Of course not.

However I don’t use your example links.

What link building strategy you use?

I only use my own domains to link to them, plus my internal linking plus my competition research.

Rest I will get natural.

Of course I use the “normal” links as well, so all social and ranking a video here and there #1 doesn’t hurt either.

Don’t get me started on ranking videos lol!

So you have lots of your own domains? Since you have been on SEO 21 years, you probably have bunch of aged domains with good traffic…

The most I had was 7,000.

What about hosting expense?

On 7,000 domains?

$0.50 per domain per month.

What are a few low hanging on page tips that you commonly see sites missing?

I see that everyone is giving the same onpage advise.

Make an article 500p-1,500 words long.

Us the keyword in the H1 tag and then also the LSI keywords in H2-5 tags and then put the main keyword in the first sentence and in the last paragraph.

Really? That was what 10 years ago? If you still think there are generic rules for onpage stop doing SEO.

Google looks at keyword groups and no two groups are the same.

So using generic rules won’t apply!

Do social listening and consistently produce content that is relevant to the niche and the terms people are using, regardless of some half-witted generic rules?

No, look at what ranks and why it ranks.

Sometimes no content is even needed.

Serious? Dead serious. Sometimes you need 3,000 words in a specific way.

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Adeal Akhter

There is no generic rule. Those days are gone.

What should we know about RankBrain?

Google has AI, Google has Chrome, Google has Heatmaps, Google has Big Data Query, Google has Clickstream.

Welcome RankBrain and thank you users!

So you’re just saying provide good user experience and match content to intent?

UX so follow the click and follow the money. Then you are set!

What are the top 3 most important link types in your opinion?

1. Niche related low OBL

2. Niche related 1 OBL

3. Niche related history low OBL

Is there somewhere we can follow you to dive in and read more of your content and expertise?

No, thanks for asking, but like Steven said, I’m underground.

As an underground you’re probably heavy on PBNs?

Yes and no. It depends on how you look at a PBN.

1. a PBN isn’t a PBN when the links are sold online, where is Private then?

2. I use real working and ranked sites as a “PBN” so no they aren’t PBN sites anymore, they are money sites that link out as well.

Are those PBNs yours or you rent/purchase links from them? Which providers can you recommend, if you use any?

I always use mine.

I never trust someone else with my SEO.

That’s what you get after 21 years

You have a go2tool for on-page analysis of your serp competition? or do you go oldschool pen and paper?

We created our own tool.

Unmatched. I’ve been creating inhouse SEO software for a decade now.

If you test everything why not put it in a tool and automate it?

Any tools that you can recommend to people with no resources to create in-house software?

If I wouldn’t have my software I owuld start with aHrefs and then when you can SEMrush.

After that I would get a few clients to make sure you can get onpage SEO software.

Start witth POP and then go one step up.

This has been bothering me all the times.. we built links but no good way to see if it is good or picked or used by Google. It appears Google search console just has a sampling data on links. What your suggestions?

This is a tough one to answer, because I can see why Google ranks certain keywords a certain way and what is needed in terms of backlinks.

So since you don’t have that I will try to answer like I don’t have it as well.

I would always go with niche related, high value, low OBL, dofollow backlinks.

I wouldn’t bother with anchor text, just get the niche authroity to your site and you should be doing great.

Do you track to see if links are picked? Or just build them in niche sites , and let it naturally working out? What SEO tools you use or recommend if picking up one or two like SEMrush , ahrefs, MOZ, etc?

I let them work out just like any money site.

I love SEMrush for many reasons, but my favorite is still aHrefs

How much time do you spend on analyzing and drawing conclusions vs buidling and implementing?

I look at the top for 50+ keywords in my group within 10-15 minutes.

If I like it I will spend hours on the site building.

Recently I noticed the referral domains is increasing, however, the organic traffic is going down. So I checked in Ahrefs. I saw lots of backlinks from small blogspot sites. for example: site1.blogspots site2.blogspots All of them showing DR as N/A in Ahrefs. I did check the site, and it appears to be a valid link someone else created. My question is should I go ahead disavow them in google search console? What’s the best way to identify the issue for organic traffic loss.

I don’t like to disavow links fast. Why not? It shows Google something is wrong on my site.

If the negative links are way way lower than my normal links I don’t even look at it.

Also a few normal links from low DR can’t be the reason why your traffic dropped.

Did you look at your rankings and I mean ALL your rankings.

One client of mine ranks for 1700 terms with one page.

Do you track them all? Of course you don’t, would be too expensive.

So look at all angles is what I’m saying. I just don’t think that what you said is the reason for the drop.

How does your software work? I mean how it analyzes factors and by what weight? Also how do you determine the factors involved? How big is the data set when you are investigating an algorithm change?

It uses a keyword group and looks what ranks and why.

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Stephen Floyd

It looks at authority, commercial intent, way the site was build, which keywords rank on one page, why they all rank on a page.

How high they rank for all those keywords etc.

You are then left with a new term I will introduce:

Model Based SEO

All you have to do is take that model, mimic it and make it just a bit better to win.

Top 5 factor we should focused on SEO?

I don’t have a top 5, for me it’s the keyword group and I take it from there.

I decide which battle to take and which one to leave due to it costing too much time and money.

There are so many keywords out there!

Why is Google allow spammy Google listings? This is what I mean. On their business name. They have it like this: Business Name / Keyword 1/ Keyword 2/ Keyword 3/ Keyword 4 /Keyword 5 Something on their website, title. and for some business, they even have 2 different listings for the same business, and the listing name is different keywords. And they rank #1 on some terms and it’s been there for a while. One thing I need to say, it’s not in English. Why is Google allow this kind listing? I thought for all Google my business name, they need to approve the change before it goes live.

I know from experience that Google is more focussed on the US then on other countries.

You get away with almost anything in some countries.

Don’t forget that there are still a lot of BH GMB optimizers that can approve anything they like.

What unique Seo advice would you give a new website or blog in town in 2019?

Clickstream, follow that and understand what happens and then you will understand why Google ranks certain pages.

Follow the click, follow the money.

Backlinks are becoming less and less important

Create content for the UX and not for the SE’s.

Any advice for hosting pbn’s with a lot of sites? Masking IP’s? Or any good resources that you may have learned from! I spose you probably can’t give away too much which is understandable.

I use a PBN hostting company. You might remember years ago where Google went after SEO hosting companies.

Everyone got scared and left that way of hosting.

There are still a few companies out there that know what they are doing.

DIfferent servers, different A/B/C IP’s, different DNS etc. Plus they are way cheaper than a few years ago

How to make best use of the footer?

I only use the footer for 3 things:

1. NAP for GMB

2. Privacy Policy etc.

3. Footer links, yes they still work and are good for diversity and sitewide links.

Amazing how you manage and host over 7000 sites. 1) Do you host them on your own server? I mean you have hosting company? 2) Host them on others host companies? 3) Host them on SEO host like EBN? 4) How do you manage this 7k sites behemoth?

1. Yes I use a hosting company

2. No I do not

3. It’s an SEO host but different

4. Set and forget after the first setup.

As per domains for PBN: Many guys have preached how EXPIRED domains are no longer good for SEO and insist more expensive AUCTION DOMAINS are better. What is your expert advice about this?

I still rank with expired domains all day long.

It’s about keyword selection first and then when needed an extra pushwith backlinks.

I have no trouble doing that with expired domains.

That being said, I make sure it’s niche related and that’s the difference

If you have a new (ish) huge gap in impressions verses CTR .. what is it usually caused by (in your experience)

I would look at your CTA (Call To Action) and split test.

Are the bulk of your domains EMDs that you treat like money sites by putting well researched content on and also build good links to the EMDs. And then you point the odd link to your “clients site/money site” from the EMD? Or do you do the above but dont build links to the EMDs and just register them fresh and only put content on them?

For the most of them I don’t need to link to them.

For the few I justuse cheap links and get them based on the EMD top 3 anyway.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.