This Is Mordy Oberstein’s Origin Story
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Here’s a few things you’ll learn about Mordy Oberstein if you tune into the episode:
- He is a HUGE Steelers fan.
- He HATES the Ravens.
- Has a Masters in Education (and taught in Baltimore for 2+ years).
- Father to twins.
- Lives in Israel.
- Worked for a property management company (real estate) in NYC in 2002 until 2011.
- Has a podcast called The SEO Rant.
Mordy is probably most well known for his role at Rank Ranger and the podcast The In Search SEO Podcast. From starting as a Marketing and Content Manager, Mordy progressed to Head of Marketing and eventually, being the CMO for the company.
The following embedded video is a webinar Mordy did on SEO-driven content strategy, especially around Google core updates to their SERP algorithm.
And this article published on Search Engine Land, ‘The Problem With The Structured Mindset’ is a good read for all SEOs. You can tell that Mordy has a deep understanding of SEO, that is, satisfying the bot while producing content that adds value to an audience, and how it all works together in helping a brand/business gain visibility in the SERPs.
How He Fell Into SEO
“Sure, I don’t really know what that means. Let me start researching this.”
Mordy landed a job at an educational software company as a content writer and since he was the only native English speaker, the responsibility of writing the web-content for the company fell on his shoulders.
This was how it all started. Not long after, he fell in love with SEO.
“There’s just so many different things – it’s always evolving! It can be not abstract and it can also be really abstract and I really like that about SEO.”
Mordy further explains, “It gave me (a) to be creative and (b) and abstract. It is a perfect synergism of creativity, science, art, depth and content all at the same time.”
Will Machine Learning Replace Content Writers?
“Once you get to entities now you’re getting into philosophy because an entity is a thing. So what is a thing?” How do you make connections?
Mordy believes SEO has gotten to a stage where it has gotten really abstract.
FYI, I was having a conversation with a colleague at my day job at Prosperity Media.
Basically, we were discussing what Google will use to determine what web pages it should be promote on its SERPs.
At one stage, backlinks were a major ranking factor but SEOs ruined that for everyone. Now, it appears there is a big push for content quality and technical SEO which lead me to ask, so what will happen once machine learning based content writing (e.g., GPT-3) produces content on par, if not better, than humans?
What’s next for the algorithm?
And I made this comment to Mordy to which he had something quite interesting to add to the conversation.
“Now the algorithm is trying to think like a person. Now we are trying to profile content, now we are trying to understand what your content actually means, and now we can really start theorizing how this the algorithm is actually working (and what it is able to do and not able to do).”
“AI will never think like a person, can never replace a person ..you cannot define how we think. There’s no way that AI or machine learning can ever replace human thoughts.”
However, and I agree with his following sentiment, Mordy recommends that AI/ML should take on tasks such as writing a landing page so that it can free up your bandwidth to compose better content.
On What It Was Like Moving From Rank Ranger To Wix
“It’s not as simple as you think it is.”
For those of you who don’t know, Mordy is now the liaison to the SEO community for Wix.
Founded in 2006, Wix gets a lot of shade from SEOs – mostly due to a particular Superbowl advertisement, but also due to past errors and technical debt.
Wix has over 4,000 employees spread across 16 locations across the world and moving from a much smaller company (Rank Ranger) to such a large organization was a significant transition for Mordy.
“I was not used to that. I’m used to working in a small team and that has its advantages and disadvantages. And then you go to Wix and it’s a whole different thing.”
Mordy explains how in the past, the team that worked on the store functionality did not sync with the team that worked on the blog – and being in such a large organization, it became evidently clear how easy this type of oversight happened.
It wasn’t until Mordy joined Wix that he appreciated how insensitive he was to how things work (or don’t work) at large organizations.
This inevitably lead us to talk about Google and how SEOs like to complain about the juggernaut.
“John Mueller is my hero”, Mordy reveals.
“He really is amazing. I don’t think people really appreciate that. I don’t always agree with what Google does or what Google says but the man is an absolute phenom. Now that I am trying to do this it has really given me an appreciation of what you think should be really easy for Google is probably really hard.”
Context and walking in someone else’s shoes can really give you perspective.
Earlier in 2020, certain Google searches were clearly showing anti-Jewish messaging and being Jewish, Mordy was understandably upset about it.
Being at Wix and having the new-found appreciation of how complicated it is to affect change that the end user can see immediately, Mordy hope that he approached the problem with Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan with more respect.
“Do you think Danny Sullivan really knows who to speak to about this?”
Plus, as Mordy has found, it is really hard to get internal buy-in. But he recommends people to let Google spokespeople know of issues they come across, to provide specific examples so that people like John Mueller can get buy-in, and above all else, to communicate it in a way that is kind and respectful (something Cindy Krum and I discussed in an earlier episode).
Entities Mentioned In This Episode
- Rank Ranger (website)
- Semrush (website)
- John Mueller, Google (Twitter)
- Danny Sullivan, Google Search Liaison (Twitter)
- Gary Illyes, Google (Twitter)
- Andy Drinkwater (Twitter)
- Neil Patel (website)
Did You Enjoy This Episode?
I’m Daniel K Cheung and I produce Make SEO Simple Again. Check out the other stories that other people have shared on my podcast by clicking here.