Hamlet Batista never set out to be a known industry expert. The CEO and founder of RankSense prefers to do his Python and SEO automation work on the down-low.
Yet the cat is out of the bag – Hamlet does awesome work. RankSense uses big data tools and developer languages to automate SEO processes. His company detects and removes traffic-killing SEO issues before it's too late.
Over the past couple of years, he's become a frequent contributor to The Search Engine Journal, where he talks passionately about using Python to more effectively implement SEO strategy, the value of structured data, deep machine learning, and other technical stories. If you want to do what he does you can check out to any one of his in-depth tutorials to learn exactly how to implement his teachings.
Inspiration for evangelizing Python to the SEO community
Hamlet tells a story of spending months attempting to integrate his company with Paypal's API, only to be rejected for a merchant account. Paypal told him it was because they were SEOs, which made them too high-risk.
"They had been burned too many times with SEOs taking advantage of small businesses and not doing anything for them. I felt embarrassed."
He said he almost decided to just go pursue a career in data science after that.
"Yet, I've been really grateful to this community. Let me see if I can do something about it."
He did a talk at a conference and realized that people were excited to hear him talk about Python.
So last year he wrote his first Python article.
"It was my most popular. 25,000 views. I said, wow, maybe I can use it to address this frustration I have about people not trusting SEOs.
People trust data scientists. People that are objective, take data, maybe I can inspire a new generation of SEOs to remove the smoke and mirrors that currently take precedence in the industry."
By having new SEO practitioners take a more objective data-backed, programming approach, Hamlet hoped to create tangible gains for customers and salvage the SEO industry’s reputation for being a legitimate marketing strategy.
Becoming a public thought leader was actually very uncomfortable for him, being an introvert by nature, but his love of programming carried him through.
"I'm not seeing the writing as writing. I'm seeing it as describing. That's where I put my mind. Look, I'm not writing. I'm describing something I did. None of my talks, none of my writing are without code. Code is the fire, the fuel, the motivation that allows me to do it because otherwise, I wouldn't do it."
You can't chase every idea, so he gives them to the community for them to be part of, and then incorporates the code that other programmers come up with. He also nurtures other SEO-programmers by showcasing their blog posts.
This has allowed him to build a lot of trust over time.
Use cases for Python in SEO
"There are many different examples. You'll see them in my articles. The most recent one is about structured data. It's the future. It's the present. Rich results are taking over organic links. You know that. Everybody has to do it. The problem is, structured data is a lot of work. It's hard work. People make a lot of mistakes."
He says even though structured data has been around for over ten years it still hasn't been widely adopted. So he decided to figure out how to get websites to generate structured data automatically.
"You're talking about saving people tens of hours of manual work, having the computer do it like this."
He published his work as a tutorial, as he does with many of his projects.
Becoming a thought leader: philosophy vs. execution
Hamlet had a fairly in-depth analysis of this issue.
"You have to look at your goal. A lot of times, probably most of the time, when you're speaking and writing, it's more about the visibility than anything else. You're trying to do it because you want to be visible, you want the credibility, you want the clients, and that's a valid way to do it. But when you're doing that you don't have a lot of time to do the work, and you can't speak from first-hand experience."
"Speaking is its own skill, and not every talk has to be tactical. A lot of talks can be inspirational. Can be about what you're doing with your team and stuff like that."
He says, though, that his approach is different than most.
"My goal was not the visibility. The visibility is a byproduct. My motivation is the movement. I want to be part of a community I'm proud of. And I want to learn. I want to make better decisions for my business, inspire my employees, motivate the workforce, speaking to stuff at a high level that I have practical experience with. That's my strategy. That's why my approach is different."
He says: "I have to have hands-on experience with doing it to be able to share it. That works in my favor in terms of the reputation I'm building, because people gravitate to real things. They can see when you're real. They can see when you really know what you're talking about, especially because nobody else is doing it."
Identifying content gaps - A use case for Python
Hamlet recently did a series of articles about intent classification."Something every marketer has to do. You have to know when people are searching for something, whether you're serving them the right content, whether they're searching for something and you don't even have the content for that."
The technique involves extracting the intent from all of the various keywords a website uses, and then doing a content gap analysis, or rather, a content type gap analysis.
"So you find out if there's a demand for videos, stories, questions, stuff like that. Then I pull the structured data from the page to see if you have the content annotated. There are only two possible options: the content is there, and you haven't added structured data, or you have the structured data and you don't have the content on the page."
Usually what comes up is that video is the biggest opportunity, and it's often something clients don't have. It's expensive, and they don't want to invest in it until they know it will work for them.
"Now you're going to show the ROI upfront. Getting the buy-in from executives is a lot easier when you say, look, this is the analysis. Google is already asking for this. There is x amount of search demand for it. People are coming but nobody's clicking because we don't have the content. Let's just grab that traffic. We're not talking about PR or link building or stuff like that. This is low-hanging fruit, on the floor, ready to pick up. Just invest to create the content in whatever format we're missing."
What’s your right now cause?
Hamlet asks that listeners donate to their local food banks or find ways to support SMBs in their local community.
It may even be as simple as continuing to pay your hairdresser every month the same as if you were still getting haircuts from them.
"Support the people you used to go to in different ways if you can afford that. It's all about helping each other out and working together to get through this."
Connect with Hamlet Batista
Want to see more of Hamlet's advice and tutorials?
Also, visit RankSense's Twitter account at @ranksense. You'll even get to see what his interns are working on right now! They're frequently writing Python tutorials, so don't miss them.