PODCAST: How to Legally Steal Winning Ad Campaigns with Mike Roberts

By on Nov 19, 2021

On the Marketing Umbrella Podcast, our CEO, Itamir Shafir, recently sat down with Mike Roberts, president and founder of Spyfu. Spyfu enables you to see your competitors’ keywords and SEO campaigns. If you have a digital marketing agency, you probably already use Spyfu on a regular basis.

Mike led the charge in transforming the way search marketers craft their strategies in PPC and SEO.

Check out this episode of the podcast to learn:

  • An example of how a small agency could use SpyFu after landing a new client
  • Why your ad copy is paramount to the optimization and efficiency of your campaign as well as your quality score
  • Information about the prebuilt campaigns that SpyFu offers for hundreds of different niches
  • How the leads functions works on SpyFu and how it could be useful for you
  • The new features coming out in SpyFu’s next release, which has components that Michael has wanted to release for 7 years

Listen to the podcast or Watch the video .

The transcript is below. Scroll to the end if you would like to subscribe to The Marketing Umbrella Podcast.

Transcript

Itamar Shafir:

Welcome to The Marketing Umbrella Podcast, where we talk with successful marketing experts about ways to build and grow your digital marketing agency. Our guest today is a spy, has led the charge in transforming the way marketers craft their strategies based on competitive analysis. He’s a successful serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of spyfu.com. I’m excited to say hello to Mr. Mike Roberts. Hi, Mike.

Michael Roberts:

Hey, thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Itamar Shafir:

So like I told you before the podcast, I’m a big fan and a user of SpyFu-

Michael Roberts:

Thank you. Awesome.

Itamar Shafir:

… which we’re going to talk about, but before we jump into that, and I’m sure all the abundance of information and knowledge that you have on search marketing that you can share with the listeners, maybe we can start first by you telling them about your road as an entrepreneur and how you got to where you are.

Michael Roberts:

Oh, sure. So before I started SpyFu, I had another software company. Before I had another software company, by the way, I tried to found a software company and then failed just because of various, I don’t know, lack of leadership or the reasons that people just randomly fail to do things, but I had another successful software company called Velocity Escape, but what the product was … Well, as a nerd, I called it web data extraction, which is really, you just take data off of the internet, off of a webpage, say eBay or something, and you put it into a spreadsheet or database. And I called that web data extraction, but it turns out that the way that customers would search for this was called web scraping or screen scraping or internet screen scraping. And to me, that was almost an insult because my precious, beautiful product was doing data extraction, which is a technical term that only database nerds know. But the consumer had a different way of thinking about what they wanted, and I didn’t learn that for …

Michael Roberts:

Dude, I launched the product after working on it for 16 months, nights and weekends by myself. And I was like, ‘I’ve just built this glorious thing. I’ve made this whole process ridiculously easy. Now I’m just going to instantly be rich.” so I built it and then launched it and did the promotion that you would do back then, and nobody … I mean, I got about, I think, three sales in three months. So I had to go back to work. I had to go get a job again, but I kept working on the thing, and then six months later, I relaunched the product and then in that process, I learned that people searched a different way.

Michael Roberts:

And when I did that next launch, I renamed the product and did some SEO for this thing around those terms, and I instantly tripled, or I’m sorry, I more than tripled. I quadrupled my sales. I wound up making maybe 3,000 dollars a month, which for me at that time, I was like, “Well, I can pay my mortgage with that,” and basically it allowed me to … Actually, that was the thing that allowed me to like quit my job to degree or mostly quit my job.

Michael Roberts:

So the impetus for SpyFu was, “Whoa, I thought of these keywords. Is there anything else that I’m missing? I have some competitors. Maybe they’ve discovered something else that I hadn’t.” So I wound up building the original version of SpyFu just for myself. It was called Goog Spy, and I launched it in 2005 and did a press release on it, and basically everybody liked it and kept coming back to it. But the real reason, the core of SpyFu was me having literally 3,000 dollars that I could possibly spend on Google AdWords, and I had to get it right. And if I got it wrong, I literally had to go get a job again. And so I did get it right, fortunately, and that allowed me to also launch SpyFu eventually.

Itamar Shafir:

So, wow. That’s quite a story.

Michael Roberts:

It’s a story.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah, yeah. No, but it’s a great story because, as an entrepreneur, you struggle so much and you get hit by so many hardships, whether it’s financial, like you mentioned, or whether it’s just not getting it right. You thought it’s going to be a big bang, and then you make three sales. So-

Michael Roberts:

Yeah, the journey is fun.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

Especially looking back on it. When you succeed because you tried really hard and you failed many times, and then you overcame them, it’s really gratifying. The entrepreneurial journey is not overrated.

Itamar Shafir:

Okay. So for the people that are listening to us that maybe don’t know exactly what SpyFu does, can you encapsulate in a few minutes what it does?

Michael Roberts:

Yeah, sure. So you can go to SpyFu and type in any website and see every keyword that they buy on Google. You can see all the organic keywords that they rank on, and you can also see the history of their ad buying campaign and their SEO campaigns going back, basically, 15 years. Going back 15 years isn’t super important now, but going back few years to see where somebody’s ad campaign began is pretty important because people in advertising tend to make their mistakes early in their campaigns, and so if you’re looking at just a snapshot today, what you’re looking at is an optimized campaign, and so you don’t get to learn from the mistakes that they made.

Michael Roberts:

And it’s important to learn from those mistakes so that you don’t make them yourself because they can be pretty costly. And the other thing about history that’s valuable is being able to say, “Well, I started doing my content writing or my blogging or doing some stuff with SEO in February. I want to see how my campaign has changed between then and now.” And of course, you can look at your search console or you can look at analytics, but the keywords and the actual which pieces of content are driving this growth or driving on the opposite of growth, you lose some traffic. Auditing that is important. So the historical angle can be pretty valuable. Obviously, we-

Itamar Shafir:

So all that data, it’s a ton of data, and you’re spying on competitors, right? The name pretty much says it all.

Michael Roberts:

Yep.

Itamar Shafir:

How do you do that? Don’t get into all the technical-

Michael Roberts:

Very simple. It’s very simple. And when I did it originally, I was like, “I’m going to make a reverse phone book,” is how I describe it. “I’m going to make a reverse phone for Google,” right? So the idea is if you have a … Nobody has a phone book. I don’t want to use this example anymore. It makes me seem old. But anyway, so here’s how it works is we just do millions, hundreds of millions of searches against Google every month. Sorry, my phone.

Itamar Shafir:

No worries.

Michael Roberts:

Hundreds of millions of searches against Google every month, and we collect everything that’s on the page. So if there’s an advertisement on the page, we collect that domain and the ad, and if there’s somebody ranking organically, we collect their position and their title, the title and the domain. But let’s say we’re just collecting just the keyword in the domain, right? Pretend that those are the only things that we’re collecting. Well, we do a search on a keyword, and then we put it all into a database, and then we just do a reverse search because we’ve done all those searches and now we can just say, “Well, which keywords does redbull.com rank on, or what do they advertise on?”

Michael Roberts:

So it’s very simple in principle. But of course, we’re mongering just absurd amounts of data, and everything that you see on SpyFu is ultimately auditable back to one of those screenshots of a search engine result page, right? So the page off of Google, we actually keep those pages. It’s 15 years about of those pages as well, right? So everything has got this legal grade audit trail, if you will, which is kind of cool.

Itamar Shafir:

It is, it is. Probably-

Michael Roberts:

We’re never going to tell you something that we can’t back up.

Itamar Shafir:

It’s like a warehouse of racks. It’s a ton of data. It’s very impressive. So let’s take it back to agencies, okay? So I’m a small agency. I have a new client. Let’s say a divorce attorney.

Michael Roberts:

Okay.

Itamar Shafir:

Okay? I never promoted a divorce attorney before, but I landed this one. Take me through the steps of how I use SpyFu to crush this campaign without having done this before, specifically that niche or that product.

Michael Roberts:

So if you’re starting a brand new campaign, the best place to look is … So what you can do on SpyFu is you can figure out who the most effective advertisers are in that niche, and probably the easiest way to do that, you may already have an idea, right? Maybe you have an idea. If you have an idea, then you go and you check out their campaign and you look and see which keywords they’re buying, and you can look at all of their advertising history, every ad that they’ve run, and you can see every split test that they ran on, and you can effectively determine who the winner is by looking at which one they kept, right? So it may be the first ad that they ran. They may have been running two, and each month it goes back and forth, and then eventually, they keep one, and then you can see their next test and so on.

Michael Roberts:

Sometimes, for some domains, we’ll have 50 tests for one website on a single keyword. So you can see the results of all that and understand, “Well, what ad copy is going to work?” Ad copy is one of those things that people don’t think about a lot because everybody thinks that the ad copy that they come up with off the top of their head is probably the best ad copy ever written, but in Google Ads, quality score is directly related to what you’re going to pay and directly related to the efficiency of your campaign and quality score, 90% of quality score is click-through rate.

Michael Roberts:

Keep in mind, I mean, I’m going to go mildly deep here. Hopefully, it’s not weird, but everything that Google does, everything that Google optimizes for is optimized for effective CPM, which is the amount of money that Google makes per 1,000 impressions of [inaudible 00:11:29], right? They optimize for that. And so they have this thing that’s a quality score, but ultimately the quality score is your click-through rate. It’s how much money they’re going to make from you, right? And the only thing that can really impact the click-through rate is the ad copy, and so the ad copy is paramount to optimizing your campaign, but also increasing your quality score and driving the efficiency of your campaign. So we look for these things in the history of the ads that they’re running. But I mean, the first place to start is really figuring out the keywords that you want, and the ad history part is mildly advanced, I guess.

Itamar Shafir:

So I go in, I type in the URLs of my competitors, I can see which keywords they bid on, which keywords they stayed with, and I can also see the copy that won, and basically now I can emulate the best ad for a divorce attorney.

Michael Roberts:

Yes.

Itamar Shafir:

That’s perfect.

Michael Roberts:

But there’s actually even one better shortcut on SpyFu. Well, I might be leaving some out. SpyFu has been around for quite some time. We’ve got a lot of tools, but one tool that’s pretty amazing is that we have, for something like 500 different industry niches, so divorce lawyer might be one of them, probably is one of them, we have many different subspecialties of lawyer where we have pre-built campaigns that we’ve literally just paid. We’ve paid people, consultants, to just build a campaign for a random niche, and then we just let our customers download those. So you can just-

Itamar Shafir:

Right.

Michael Roberts:

We’ve prebuilt an entire campaign by an expert, and then you can just download it and reuse it and basically put your URLs in it, and it’s prebuilt for you. The ad copy is written that’s won.

Itamar Shafir:

So it’s probably ad copy and campaign already based on your data, right? So-

Michael Roberts:

Yep. For sure.

Itamar Shafir:

… of that niche. Okay. Sweet.

Michael Roberts:

Yep. Yeah. There’s 500 of those. So you get a new customer, and we start with the biggest niches, like locksmiths or whatever. There’s a whole ridiculous number of them. I mean, we’re adding a new one every couple days.

Itamar Shafir:

That’s right. So we can’t all use the same ad copy, or can we? Is it like SEO where it creates-

Michael Roberts:

It’s like a [crosstalk 00:14:02].

Itamar Shafir:

You need to drink it, right?

Michael Roberts:

You probably should, yeah.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah. Okay.

Michael Roberts:

But oftentimes you’re running those campaigns locally, and you need to tweak it a little bit, but not necessarily a lot.

Itamar Shafir:

All right. So for me not knowing how to get into an industry out to start a campaign on a specific industry, this is a perfect tool for AdWords. And the same thing goes for SEO, right? It’s exactly the same process just for organic.

Michael Roberts:

And in that case, you’re probably going to be researching your competitors top, maybe the first place to start, you can look at keywords, but I think that maybe you want to a look at the content. And so there’s a tool on SpyFu called Top Pages, and it’ll identify their top pieces of content, and you can see which keywords they’re ranking on, and you could basically search their content based on the keywords that you want to rank on. There’s a variety of ways, a few different approaches, but basically, yeah, you start with the knowledge that your competitors have built up that, ideally, you could go ask them, right? “Hey, let me go get my competitor drunk in a bar and see if they can tell me all of the things that they’ve ever learned about marketing in this niche.”

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah. Sometimes that works out, but this is actually even more reliable because it’s the truth, right? You actually have their entire ad campaign history or their organic campaign. You basically are looking at their Google analytics, but even more effectively because you can see all the keywords. It’s like you’re looking at their Google search console. It’s better. It’s near perfect. It’s certainly better than asking them what their best advice is, actually. Right?

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah, yeah, because you’re getting the truth, like you said.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Itamar Shafir:

So I know you also have a lead function, and I want to talk about that a little bit for agencies. Can you expand on the leads?

Michael Roberts:

Yeah, sure. So the way that leads works is we do a backlinks crawl of the internet every month, or it’s just constantly running. And as we go through every website, we collect all the contact information that we see. So if we see social media profiles, et cetera, email addresses as we’re going through the open web, we collect and we store them about every website, and depending on where we saw them, we basically figured out whether or not we think it’s their actual … Is it somebody posting on the site or is it actually somebody from that site? And so then we use that data for a variety of different things.

Michael Roberts:

So one thing you can do on SpyFu is do backlink outreach. So we have a backlink tool that you can search, start by keyword. So you want to rank on a certain keyword, but then we’ll find the people for you to do outreach on that. But the other way that we leverage that same data, that contact data, is we say, “Well, what if you want to contact people that spent domains in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that spend more than 1,000 dollars on Google AdWords?” or something like that, right? And so then you can produce a list of people, emails or phone numbers or whatever you want, based on that. So we cross reference the data that we calculate based on watching people’s ad spend and such with the data that we collect while doing a backlinks thing.

Itamar Shafir:

Oh, I love that for agencies because that’s exactly what agencies are looking for, right? People spend money in advertising in specific niches that they work on, like divorce attorneys. So I think that’s a-

Michael Roberts:

You can get even more granular. You can look and see, “Well, do they have HubSpot on their server? Do they have HubSpot that have no SEO growth?” or something like that, right? They look like they need help. There’s a variety of ways that you can slice and dice the data to identify a particular set of users or a particular set of websites, even. It depends on how you want to do it. You don’t necessarily have to get the users from us because you could potentially just get the list of websites and then leverage other sources. Yeah. I can’t think … Oh, FullContact would be a good one. I think you could use FullContact. I think we might be do that for you, but I’m not 100% sure whether we do that still or not. I’m not sure. We should do it. Sometimes I think in terms of the things that we should do and-

Itamar Shafir:

Write it down, write it down. So what’s coming up? There are a ton of cool features. We covered just a few of them. Guys, if you check SpyFu.com, you’ll see a ton more. Anything on the horizon, like nifty features?

Michael Roberts:

Our very next release is a release that I’ve wanted to do for seven years, and we just really couldn’t figure out how to architect it because it’s a massive amount of data. So we have all of the history of everybody’s rankings. Basically, if you think of it like this, we’re like the-

Itamar Shafir:

The go back machine.

Michael Roberts:

The Wayback Machine for Google rankings, for everything. For Google, basically. Right? So in that sense. This process of being able to compare your rankings, I want to say I hired an agency or I’m an agency and we got hired last year, and I basically want to track all of my progress, everything that I’ve done for a customer and show them all the results. I want to show them all the keywords that we picked up, all the new keywords, these are all the new keywords that we rank on now that we didn’t rank on when we started. That’s a motivating thing for customers, or “Here’s all of the ranks that increased,” and I want to be able to show that to customers every month or whatever, or be able to do it from any point in time.

Michael Roberts:

And so we’re releasing that, which is then super searchable. So you can go back and see in terms of keyword clusters, if I look at a keyword cluster, here’s how our ranks changed on this group of keywords. I wish I could show you, but it’s this hierarchy of keywords that we break everybody’s …Every website, we break their keywords down into linguistic hierarchy. For us, our top level might be AdWords, and then the next level that would be AdWords tools or AdWords software or something like that. So you can diagnose where you found gains or where you had losses, potentially. Typically, you might want to show your customers the new and the gains and not so much the losses. And that’s something that you can do really nicely and easily through that tool, and you can do it from any point in any time, not just for your website, but for literally any website ever from any time to any other time.

Itamar Shafir:

Oh.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

So when you’re checking out a new client, you can say, “Hey, look. You guys lost ranks, or you fell off of these keywords from this time to this time,” and these things all get lined up with any Google algorithm changes. So we plot those in a chart next to it so you can choose how you want to look at that stuff. But from my perspective, it’s a much simpler way of identifying the things that I want to find about my site than anything else, even Google search console, is a really useful tool, but you can diagnose, find out why something changed much more quickly in this tool. And then we take it to the final step, which is link you to the Wayback Machine where you can identify if there’s a content change that caused it. And so there’s a direct link in there that lets you identify what’s what. So it’s a sweet new tool that is massively expensive, right? I’m paying probably 50 grand a month just to host the servers on Amazon.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

But hopefully it’s something people like. It’s a huge upgrade. I’ve got to tell you, the machines that I’ve been running, what it’s replacing is called Ranking History on SpyFu. Those machines are just random servers that I’ve had running for 10 years or something, or eight years. So this a huge upgrade in terms of what this thing is capable of doing. It’s a pretty massive win.

Itamar Shafir:

Amazing.

Michael Roberts:

I hope. Yeah. It’s really expensive, but really premium. Yeah, you should check it out. It’s pretty good.

Itamar Shafir:

Expensive for you, not for the users.

Michael Roberts:

Oh, yeah. No. It’s all in the SpyFu 39 dollars an month deal. And yeah, I’m pretty stoked.

Itamar Shafir:

So when is it coming out?

Michael Roberts:

I want to say-

Itamar Shafir:

I won’t put you on the spot.

Michael Roberts:

I mean, no, we’ll probably wind up soft launching it next week.

Itamar Shafir:

Oh, sweet.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah. It’s out. I mean, there’s a very polished version of it that we were looking at yesterday. I don’t think that there’s any bugs in it. We do a thing before we launch anything where we have not just QA, but everybody in the company try to break it and try to identify bugs, and we haven’t found any bugs. It’s probably done, but I don’t think that we’ll wind up launching it until next … Maybe it’ll be tomorrow. I don’t know. [crosstalk 00:25:16].

Itamar Shafir:

It’s a matter of things change.

Michael Roberts:

It’s not a long amount of time. Yeah. I’ve been waiting for this one for at least a year, though. This is a tough one. I’m pretty stoked about.

Itamar Shafir:

Cool. It sounds good.

Michael Roberts:

We’ve been doing a lot of stuff with SpyFu in the last … During the pandemic, we basically were like, “Let’s just reinvent the entire architecture so that we can be …” The idea is to be 100 times bigger in terms of our data scale so that there’s no doubt that we have the best data in the world.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

Ultimately, I would like to be able to put all of Google in a box because if we can do the entire index, the entire Google index, then we can compute for you what would happen if you make some changes to your website.

Itamar Shafir:

Oh, that would super cool.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah, because we could run a full simulation that way. But we just need a little bit more scale, about 50X. We built it so we could do 100X, so we’re get there. Right now, we’re running at about 20 times what we were running in 2020. So we’re-

Itamar Shafir:

Impressive.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah, it’s cool.

Itamar Shafir:

Okay. So-

Michael Roberts:

It’s like a self-healing spaceship at this point, so it’s a cool machine.

Itamar Shafir:

I can think of nine other things that would add to it. For example, being able, once you have that ability to play with the entire data set of Google and do predictive analysis is I think what’s missing for a lot of these tools is a simple voice UI.

Michael Roberts:

Oh, interesting.

Itamar Shafir:

When I see small agencies and small businesses interact with tools, and SpyFu is pretty intuitive. You have much more sophisticated tools. You mentioned some Google consoles before and even analytics, try to just start working with it in an effective way. And I think it’s scary for a lot of people, but if they can say, “Look, if I do this and this, talk at the computer, if I go after these and these keywords, what’s going to happen to this campaign in a couple of days or in a couple of months?” And you’re saying this system will show the graph, “You’re going to tank,” or it’s going to say, “It’s going to be wonderful.” But yeah, that’s another [crosstalk 00:27:53].

Michael Roberts:

I’ll tell you one lesson, one of the most important lessons or this graduating and increasing lesson that I’ve learned in building data products over … I’ve built more than one. And actually, the interesting thing is before there was SpyFu, there was no SEMrush or HRFs or any of the keyword spy, right? So we launched this industry, and what I’ve learned over time is that when I launched, I thought, “Well, we should just provide people with data, and they’re the smart ones. They’ll make the decisions,” right? But I learned that really it’s useful to have an opinion, if the software has an opinion or gives you a specific action. So actually, the evolution in my thinking has been, “Provide people with the data and let them make the decisions.”

Michael Roberts:

And then the other one was, “Provide them with some kind of an opinion. Here’s what I think about your marketing campaign or whatever. Here’s what I think in almost words,” and now the thing is that I want to give people actions, right? So everything that we do, before we produce it, we do an actionability assessment. What is the action that we want the user to take to create value for themselves? Do we want them to change the title of their webpage? That’s the question. Do we want them to add this keyword to their campaign? Do we want to have them subtract this keyword, right? Is it a negative match opportunity for them? What is the goal of the product? What’s the end action, and so that’s when we build something or rebuild something, everything is built around the actionability of it.

Itamar Shafir:

I love it.

Michael Roberts:

It’s similar to what you’re talking about, right? It’s like, well, nobody really wants to do … I mean, maybe you want to do research, but you want to have most of the time … It would be better if you could just be like, “Just tell me what I need to do.”

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

“What do I need to do in order to have a more fulfilled life and spend more time with my family and be richer or whatever? Just shortcut this for me.”

Itamar Shafir:

First off, I think you’re 100% correctly, that’s the right way to go. But I think also for a lot of small users, it’s really also a matter of knowledge. They’re not so knowledgeable. They get it. They get PPC and SEO, but not to the core and not to the depth that you and your folks are getting it in SpyFu and really experts at it. So that’s where I think actions are super. So this is the very near future of SpyFu. Now let me take you, I know we don’t have a lot of time, so just a few more questions. Let me take you five, 10 years into the future in search marketing. Do you see you any major shifts, or do you see more of the same?

Michael Roberts:

Yeah. I mean, obviously, so what you’ve got going on is that on the SEO side, Google tends to … Okay, so on the surf, in general, Google will try to monetize more and more of it, right? So one way they’ll monetize it will be to increase the prominence of ads and possibly the disruption in the ads. So they’ll probably have different ad formats. That’s obvious. They’ve continually made the ads bigger and a little bit more disruptive. And then the other thing is they’ll direct more traffic to their own properties. So you see their flights and their hotel bookings and their maps and all this stuff. So they’ll direct more of their traffic, more of like, “Okay, it’s fair enough.” Let more of their traffic to their properties. It’s reasonable, but also everyone’s like, “I hate your guts.” It depends on how you think about it, right? They want to control the user experience, they want to make the money, and so they want to keep people in their properties so that they can measure and control everything, right?

Itamar Shafir:

Right.

Michael Roberts:

So what you see is potentially some meaningful decrease in what’s called no click searches where people do a search and then they don’t click on anything because they get what they want answered. So obviously, you think of something like, “What’s the capital of France?” as a query. Well, you don’t need to go to another website to do that, frankly. It’s okay. But the further away you get from a fact, the more people are like … Like the lyrics thing or the lyrics to some song. How dare they not link out to the lyrics websites that that just are basically lyrics with ads on them. I would be upset if somebody was like, “Well, which keywords does Groupon buy most often, and they’re like, “Here they are.” I’d be like, “Oh, dang. That sucks.”

Michael Roberts:

So I get it if you have a database, if you have lyrics and you just want to put ads up and that’s your thing, but that’s the area that Google’s going to continue to go into more, and you can even see evidence of no click searches. I’m sorry, no search searches where if you type in, “What time is it in LA?” or something or weather, these things are going to start to show up in the actual suggest box. So that’s a thing.

Itamar Shafir:

That’s continuing to happen. Is that five years?

Michael Roberts:

I mean, it’s now. So I’m not really predicting the future, but this is the direction that things are happening.

Itamar Shafir:

And you think Google is going to become more and more immersive, include more and more content? Are we going to see a major shift in the way the search page is structured? It’s going to become more like a dashboard and less like a search page?

Michael Roberts:

I don’t think that that’s going to happen. I think that the format is relatively … Maybe there’s a disruptive player that comes in and makes that happen. Google isn’t necessarily cemented in its position. If somebody creates a better search experience, then they can gain market share. But no, I don’t see Google changing significantly from the status quo. It’s like, “What’s an iPhone going to look like five years from now?” Probably similar to what an iPhone looks now. But if you were to say 10 years ago, “What’s an iPhone going to look like?” You might … But I think it’s pretty well established.

Itamar Shafir:

Everything’s pretty much the same. Yeah.

Michael Roberts:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, people talk to things, and that is a thing. If you ask Google on, if I literally say, “Google” out loud or something, like, “Hey, Google,” it’s just going to start talking to me, right? It’s on my desk. I don’t use it as much as I should, but my kids use it a lot. And so they’re not adults at all, but they will be, and so that could create change.

Itamar Shafir:

Yeah. Okay. So that’s comforting, knowing the expert thing because it’s-

Michael Roberts:

Well, don’t rely on me to predict the future, though.

Itamar Shafir:

No, no. You’re committed now. You’re recorded. You’re committed. So the last section of the podcast is a rapid Q&A. I’m going to ask you quick questions. I need quick answers. The questions are in no way edgy, but if you feel uncomfortable by any of them, just say, “Pass.”

Michael Roberts:

Okay.

Itamar Shafir:

They’re not really-

Michael Roberts:

All right. Cool.

Itamar Shafir:

Okay.

Michael Roberts:

Short answers, right? You want short answers or quick?

Itamar Shafir:

Short and quick.

Michael Roberts:

Short and quick. Okay, okay, okay. Got it.

Itamar Shafir:

Did you get along with your parents growing up?

Michael Roberts:

Almost all the time. There was just one little part where my dad and I didn’t get along.

Itamar Shafir:

Do you have siblings?

Michael Roberts:

One sibling, a sister.

Itamar Shafir:

Do you have a pet?

Michael Roberts:

I have a dog, a cat, and a turtle, and I guess maybe there’s some fish around here. Oh, and my wife has a bunch of chickens.

Itamar Shafir:

Do you have kids.

Michael Roberts:

Mostly the dog is my dog. I have two kids, two boys. Nine, it’s his birthday, and 11.

Itamar Shafir:

How old were you when your first kid was born?

Michael Roberts:

I think maybe 32-ish. I’m going to say 32.

Itamar Shafir:

When do you wake up?

Michael Roberts:

When? Just before this podcast. So about 10:15.

Itamar Shafir:

When do you go to bed?

Michael Roberts:

About 2:30.

Itamar Shafir:

Ideal vacation?

Michael Roberts:

Ooh. Now, dude, it’s been a pandemic time. So I’ve got to take my kids a bunch of places before they get too old. So I don’t know. For me, the best vacation is something that is difficult-ish. It’s got to be an adventure. Adventure is a good vacation.

Itamar Shafir:

Okay. Are you a man of faith?

Michael Roberts:

I have faith in myself. It’s a kind of faith. I feel like I’m spiritually connected to the world, particularly when I’m surfing.

Itamar Shafir:

You’re not practicing, but you have faith in the higher power. That’s what you’re saying?

Michael Roberts:

Not really. I’m more like a straight-up atheist in that sense, but I feel connected to nature, sometimes, and generally I feel like one with people. I’m connected to the world.

Itamar Shafir:

Okay.

Michael Roberts:

But not-

Itamar Shafir:

I’ll take it-

Michael Roberts:

Nothing significantly higher. I did thank the ocean for giving me good waves once, and then some dolphins popped up and it brought a tear to my eye. So that was weird.

Itamar Shafir:

I don’t know, I’m going to go with a no here.

Michael Roberts:

Sorry, I was really trying to squeeze it in there.

Itamar Shafir:

So that’s it. Thank you so much. That was excellent, Mike. Thank you for so much good data and information in helping our listeners to crush their next campaign with SpyFu and all your good advice. And guys, go check out spyfu.com. That’s S-P-Y-F-U dot com. I’ve been using it myself. Awesome tool. Awesome people. Check it out. Thank you, Mike.

Michael Roberts:

Awesome. Thank you. It was a great time.

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