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Episode 22 – Patrick Hathaway – Sitebulb

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Episode 22 – Patrick Hathaway – Sitebulb

Chris Simmance (00:39.214)
Thanks for always serving Guy. And I’m really pleased to have one of the big brains of SiteBulb on the call with me today. Hey, Patrick, how you doing?

Patrick (00:46.44)
I’m alright, thank you Chris, thanks for having me on. Unfortunately not the biggest brain.

Chris Simmance (00:50.158)
going to say which of the two brains do you think is the largest yours or Gareth’s? I’m guessing you think Gareth.

Patrick (00:58.026)
he’s the one that makes everything work so you know I’m much more replaceable with I don’t know how I’d really replace him to be honest.

Chris Simmance (01:07.822)
I mean, let’s just not talk about AI and all sorts of things like that. I’m sure he, he’s irreplaceable in all, in all fashions. So Patrick, for those, for those listening who don’t know who you are and who’s who and what site Bob are, do you mind giving us a little wee intro, give us your best elevator pitch ever? Cause this could be the turning point. Someone might be looking for the best SEO, technical SEO tool out there. And if they are, if this elevator pitch is terrible, then they’re just going to click somewhere else.

Patrick (01:35.954)
Thanks for the pressure. So yeah, I’m Patrick. I’m the co -founder and CEO of Sitebulb, which is a website auditing tool. I was in the SEO game, essentially now almost a decade ago, and we’ve been building SEO tools since 2014. Sitebulb is a website auditing tool that’s designed to make audits easier. So if you do a lot of audits,

SiteBuild helps them make them more efficient, more accurate, and more affordable. We now have desktop and cloud options that allow teams to crawl at scale and work together to produce the best all that’s possible.

Chris Simmance (02:20.91)
Wow. There we go. You heard it here, everyone. That’s exactly what it is. I can tell you they’ve another version of the elevator pitch. It’s bloody good. I think I used it as a trial when it was in a beta version or yonks and yonks ago, I was sitting in one of the first offices that the agency ever had on my own, playing with this when it was in its infancy. And even then I was really, really impressed. It’s only gotten better.

And some people like Charlie Whitworth, for example, absolutely love it and love to give you all sorts of feedback that you guys have to build as well. You’re very, very, very receptive to the community. Should we say.

Patrick (03:01.578)
We certainly are. So another thing we’re famous for is the release notes where I will relentlessly mock people like Charlie Whitworth for all his ideas. So yeah, we just have a bit of fun with the community in that as well.

Chris Simmance (03:14.734)
And I think the, one of the things that, you know, from, from OMG centers point of view in growing businesses, having the right tool set is, is essential. in terms of agencies, SEO agencies in particular, where do you think the, site bulb fills a gap that, that either existed or exists that you filled or, you know, you’ve created a niche for yourselves. What, what, what is it that, that, that you solve for agencies?

Patrick (03:43.402)
So when we built SiteBull, we built it using something called the jobs to be done framework. And essentially that is like a sort of, I don’t know, it’s like a product prioritization system that helps you figure out what it is you’re trying to make in the first place. And we established from our experience, I was working agency side and then I also ended up doing a lot of some white label audits for agencies.

And we established that the job that people use a crawling tool for is to produce an audit. Certainly agencies and certainly SEO consultants, most of the things that they’re doing, it’s their first deliverable. New client comes on board. How do we engage with them first? We’ll do an audit on their website. We’ll give them a whole load of recommendations. And then we may start doing some link building work content, et cetera. And so we built Siteball specifically with that goal in mind. How do we help people figure out from that very first crawl to the whole discovery phase?

Chris Simmance (04:41.9)

Patrick (04:41.93)
How do you understand even what this website is? You don’t know anything about it. And so there’s a whole element of discovery built into SiteBob, how you can connect in with analytics and search console, add in site maps and just go try and crawl absolutely everything please. And so you know the whole scope of the site. And then it’s sort of built with the audit in mind. So everything’s organized into the different sections you might include in an audit. So there’s…

indexability, there’s links, there’s on -pages, duplicate content. So if you were producing an audit for a customer, you can literally just work through these different sections. And sort of over time, we got a lot of feedback about how people were using it and what they were doing with it. And I went to a conference in Madrid. It was the inbounder conference that Gianluca run. And I had a chat with a guy, Arnaud Hallemans, who…

Chris Simmance (05:11.63)

Chris Simmance (05:31.062)

Patrick (05:35.082)
sure lots of people know in the industry and he was a big fan of SiteBob from the beginning and he gave us some really, really helpful feedback at the beginning. He said, right, you’ve got these hints in SiteBob and hints are our way of picking out issues and opportunities and sort of going, right, there’s the thing that you need to do. And Ohno was like, well, I understand, I’m quite an advanced SEO, I understand what these things are, but I expect lots of people don’t. And even I want something really easily that I can just show to people.

put it in front of a customer and go, look, this is why you need to do this thing. And so we essentially, after that conference, we came home and we basically, we did all our hints, we wrote everything. And we built out this massive library of knowledge. So there’s like 300 plus pages on the website, each one tied to a hint, which explains exactly what it is and why you need to care about it. But we also made the in tool text as well. I made it do two things that are not wanted.

Chris Simmance (06:18.988)

Patrick (06:33.994)
thing one is the first sentence says this is what the thing is, this is what the problem is and sentence two says this is why you need to care about it. So we get loads and loads of customers, loads of agencies which literally they will take copy paste those descriptions and put them in their audits as a starting point right we expect that they go and add to the context and etc to make it more applicable but that’s your starting point for every single issue that you want to explain to your customer.

Chris Simmance (06:52.494)

Chris Simmance (07:00.846)
Yeah, it’s a really good training tool for juniors in agencies as well. I must say that, you know, you do an audit on something and your seniors run away with it and do all of the things that they do and all the magic that they apply. But as a junior, you’ve got something almost historical to look back at as to here were the issues that were, here is the results of those things on other tools and rankings and all that sort of stuff. But…

Here’s why we cared about that and why we pushed the client or the developer to make those changes. And you’re right. And I think that, I mean, as feedback goes, Arnout’s got mountains of great feedback for everyone and almost always it makes sense. And in this case, it certainly did. It’s one of those things with agencies as well, where there’s so much going on and there’s so many different places to look for good advice.

And that if you can kind of trust the curated aspect of, of, of one source and it’s connected to something you already pay for and use it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s like gold dust. What is it that, you know, you, you, you say, you mentioned you, you worked in agencies and now, you know, running, um, site bulb, um, you work with a lot of agencies across multiple countries and different shapes and sizes. What is it you love most about like agency land agency space?

Patrick (08:22.666)
So it’s interesting actually, we for a long time, we had a desktop product that we sold via a self -service model. So basically, you know, a cheap, what, 25 pound a month product that you can, that people would sign up for and to a large extent, we would hope that they got on with it themselves and build in as much kind of self -help into the tool as possible.

Chris Simmance (08:44.076)

Patrick (08:50.042)
in order to minimize the support overhead and help people make themselves successful rather than have to rely on us to train them to use the tool. In the last year or so, we’ve launched Nightbob Cloud, which has…

is aimed at much bigger organizations. And so with them, we also provide training. So I’m now regularly on training calls with agencies, talking through their challenges, talking through what it is they’re trying to do with the software and how they’re trying to do it. And the thing that I’m noticing that I think, you know, kind of adds so much extra value in terms of what agencies are able to provide is how

Chris Simmance (09:08.046)
Mm -hmm.

Patrick (09:34.826)
proactive they are. And I think, again, I think this is what sort of separates the good agencies from the sort of, you know, medium, mediocre agencies who aren’t perhaps putting all that extra effort in. But, you know, we’re sort of constantly being pushed by agencies to find ways to help them be more proactive for customers. Whether that is through building out Looker Studio dashboards to helping them.

organize data better within the tool, essentially helping them be more efficient. And I feel like it’s, you know, we are getting pushed definitely for different ways that they can A, understand the website better, but I feel like it’s much more focused on how they can help their customers more rather than, you know, necessarily stuff in the tool itself, like that to do with data, I suppose.

Chris Simmance (10:15.502)

Chris Simmance (10:28.302)
Nice one. Yeah.

Chris Simmance (10:43.118)
Ads everywhere, ads always following everyone. So efficiency is kind of key in agencies because realistically you’re selling time, but it’s almost productized as well. Is there something kind of tangible? If I’m pretending you’re pitching for my 10 person agency business, what is it that, if there’s something tangible that I can say, this solves this problem for me perfectly.

Um, I know having used site bulb, for example, the training aspects, uh, like a secondary uses, like the training aspect. The other part I always used to find was from a pitching point of view, sometimes the visualizations of the, of the, um, the crawl maps and things like that, that would win pitches because you’d be able to say, this is how messy things are. Um, but what is it that you typically think is like the, um, the golden nugget, the golden ticket that really sells site bulb over something else.

Patrick (11:42.826)
Yeah, as you say, the sort of understanding education element is one aspect, but the biggest thing is the prioritization. So, you know, I mentioned before the hints, you know, how Sitebob’s picking out issues and opportunities. It’s not just doing them in a big long list, you know, forever. I mean, it did used to, that in the early days, you would order a website, you would get, here’s 99 things.

Chris Simmance (11:52.014)

Chris Simmance (12:02.222)
Mm -hmm.

Patrick (12:10.1)
all of them in a just a unprioritized big long list and genuinely we would have customers come going well this is great you found all this stuff what the hell am I supposed to do with it which order what’s more important than others I’ve got no idea and again you know we the more experienced SEOs that have been in the game you know 10 15 years whatever they could look at that listing okay I can see it’s this this and this but the absolutely I’ll tell you

Chris Simmance (12:18.446)
Mm -hmm.

Chris Simmance (12:31.086)
Yeah. Obviously it’s alt tags, right? That’s the first thing. Number one, fix 10 ,000 alt tags straight away. Yeah. Okay. Got it.

Patrick (12:39.21)
Yeah, one of the most annoying features I think we sort of have to do is alt text, unfortunately. Yeah, so the prioritization built into SiteBub genuinely, it flips the whole model. The traditional way of working with crawl data is to go, here’s a massive list of data. And then you as the SEO are expected to sort of parse that and figure out right,

Chris Simmance (13:04.492)

Patrick (13:08.468)
where are the issues in here? We do it the complete opposite way. We go, here’s the issues, we’re gonna tell you which ones are more important than others, and we’re going to save you time. So we’re not essentially forcing you to look through all the data. We’re going, well, here are the big issues, here’s how many URLs, here’s the coverage on the website, here’s how much of the site’s affected, here’s the different sections it’s going to affect, and how important it is, whether it’s a critical issue, important, medium, whatever, so that you then have all this information upfront to triage issues.

Chris Simmance (13:08.59)

Chris Simmance (13:21.71)

Chris Simmance (13:34.636)

Patrick (13:38.728)
tree -age issues before you have to click through and end up with a big long list of data, right? So you still get there, you still end up with a big spreadsheet, but before you get there, you’ve got so much more context about what the issue is. And so it essentially saves you time. Like I’ve always viewed the process of doing a website audit, particularly when it’s a website you don’t know at all, you know, fresh client, the first time you’ve ever dealt with them.

Chris Simmance (13:51.95)

Patrick (14:06.986)
You maybe have some context about the situation they’re in, whether they’ve had traffic dropping off or they’ve been hit by a penalty, whatever it is. So you’ve got some starting points from that perspective, but basically you know nothing about this website. And I’ve always viewed the process of running through a website audit as pulling on threads, right? Digging around, trying to figure out what it is that has maybe caused the problem that you are aware of, like the indexing issue, whatever it is. And you’re trying to find the rabbit hole that you want to…

Chris Simmance (14:26.254)
Mm -hmm.

Patrick (14:36.234)
fall down because you kind of do need to and you want to fall down one of them but there could be five potential rabbit holes and you don’t know which one you know will lead to the right place and what SiteBubble is trying to do is to help you figure out which rabbit hole is most likely to yield the result that you want.

Chris Simmance (14:54.318)
And one of the things that it’s hard for clients to understand because they bought someone else’s expertise when it comes to agency is that once you kind of have to, you pick a hole depending on which, which deems, like you say, deemed to be, you know, higher priority, but that doesn’t mean you fix that. That actually may create a knock on issue.

that is then uncovered later or something is hidden away that you didn’t know. And you kind of by fixing that, you’ve unlocked a whole bunch of orphaned pages that you didn’t, that the website crawler didn’t know in advance and that sort of stuff. You work with like a lot of agencies, as we said, you’ve worked in agencies and you know, a lot of agency people as well. What would you say in your experience kind of distinguishes the best ones from, from the rest? Cause there are thousands of them.

Patrick (15:47.978)
As I mentioned earlier, I think the focus on finding efficiencies, the focus on trying to do that extra thing for their customers is sort of the underlying, I don’t know, green flag, I suppose, but flip reverse of a red flag. But I think really when it comes to the sort of thing, you know, the bit that SiteBob’s involved in, which is the auditing.

It comes to the follow -up and making sure that recommendations are actually followed through with. And largely that comes down to communication. So it’s about figuring out how the customer works. Have they got their own dev team? If they have got their own dev team, are you better off dealing with the dev team rather than the client themselves? And…

How do they like their data to be delivered? Do they like Jira tickets? Do they work in a sauna? Like, how do you give your client all of the things that they need in order to be successful? So do you have to help them writing up Jira tickets? Do you need to provide exports on Google Sheets or in CSV? Do you need to help them provide the why? That’s always how I’ve felt that to communicate better with developers.

is not just to give them a big long list of things to do and go get off and do it, is to help them get by, to get more buy -in from them, is to tell them why they’re doing a thing. So we are doing this because XYZ, which might lead to more traffic here and therefore more revenue. And this is a problem, this is a blocker in the business. And helping them, helping that communication channel through is where you’ll sort of differentiate, you know, good agencies from great agencies because what it results in,

is the client’s company actually working through the recommendations that have been given, ultimately making their website better for all the other work to have more effect when that is started.

Chris Simmance (17:52.588)

Chris Simmance (17:57.87)
And I know you guys like a, you know, you’ve got a good sense of humor. having known you for a few years and met Gareth relatively recently and realized definitely got the right sense of humor from my point of view. And what do you think has been one of the weirdest or funniest feature requests that you’ve seen that you’ve kind of internally shared a screenshot of?

Patrick (18:17.962)
Oh God, you put me on the spot now. I don’t know about weird. Most of the things, oh, to be fair, all right, I do, and now I have one, I’ve just remembered one. We would get support requests come in at sort of feature requests, essentially, I want this or I want that, at 5 .30 p .m. on Friday.

Chris Simmance (18:19.33)
There’s gotta be something weird.

Chris Simmance (18:27.086)
There we go.

Patrick (18:43.242)
And so I would, you know, one of my jobs over the years has been to work through the support desk. And so I would get these tickets literally as I’m trying to go. I want that thing cleared off as clear as it can be. Right. And I’m getting these requests coming through from British SEOs. So I know they’re English. I know they’re living in the UK, at least on our time zone. And they’re sending these things through. And my response to them was, what on earth are you doing?

Chris Simmance (19:02.414)

Patrick (19:07.946)
go to the pub, like this is not time to be something crude. Why are you using an audit tool at 5 .30 on a Friday? This is ridiculous. And so the feature request that came through on our feature board was an alerting system that would tell you to go to the pub at 5 o ‘clock on a Friday.

Chris Simmance (19:10.028)

Chris Simmance (19:25.358)
Yes. Love it. That’s absolutely brilliant. I, I think you should put that in place, actually. Yeah, I mean, if you’re listening to this, and you haven’t up voted that then upvote it, it should be there. If if time equals 530 and day equals Friday, doesn’t matter where in the world you are, it just pings go to pub. So

Patrick (19:32.66)
Another RupBoat, okay, I’ll add it to the list, yeah.

Patrick (19:43.466)

Patrick (19:47.754)

Chris Simmance (19:49.934)
Just imagine for a moment that you’ve refunded all of your feature requests R &D budget into one part of SiteBulb to create a magic wand that changes one thing across every agency immediately. What one thing would you change?

Patrick (20:07.786)
So what am I changing our tool or am I changing the agencies?

Chris Simmance (20:10.03)
No, no, no, no, no, you, you, you, you’ve decided altruistically to put all of your R and D and feature feature request or feature change budget into one magic one that can change something in every agency across the land. Um, in one go, what, what, what, what are you, what are you doing?

Patrick (20:27.038)
I mean, from my selfish perspective, right, I want more people to come and buy site bubble buffers. So I think that the big thing that would would make a difference from that perspective would be sort of letting go of switch costs, right? So people switching from one tool to another, there’s this sort of whole concern that we won’t be able to do this, we won’t be able to do that, or we’re so used to doing things this way.

Chris Simmance (20:45.58)

Patrick (20:55.21)
it will be such an enormous change to move to a different way, even if long term it might be better. We have had lots of customers move to us over the years from many different crawl tools and most of them stick around, right? Because they do realize it does save them time, they do realize it does make them more efficient and better at doing their jobs. But it’s that initial concern, that initial, you know, fear of switching.

Chris Simmance (21:22.582)
Mm -hmm.

Patrick (21:22.698)
That is embedded within us. Unfortunately, it’s part of it’s the psychological thing Yeah, yeah, I mean it’s a human thing. It’s not it’s not just it’s not it’s everywhere all the time It’s it’s just part and parcel of our nature. So yeah, I’m doing a bit more than just changing agencies I suppose I’m sort of rewriting psychology of human beings. That’s the magic wand I’ve chosen to use

Chris Simmance (21:27.566)
such an ironic industry, isn’t it? Fear of change in a thing that changes all the time. But I, yeah.

Chris Simmance (21:38.924)

Chris Simmance (21:44.654)
There we go. I mean, it’s fine. Yeah. Yeah. It might, it might help the whole world somewhat. Um, it, it, it’s, um, just for anyone listening, uh, I, I agree. And I understand, um, that it’s hard to sometimes make changes when, you know, when, especially when it comes to software, cause they’ve got, there’s a stickiness in there with historical features and reports that are all in there and all that sort of stuff. Um, the key thing is, um, adapt or die.

in many senses comes to mind when you think about any changes that you need to make in any business. If a tool happens to be the best thing for the business and you know, when it comes to technical SEO in particular, it’s key to have the right tool set and your brain is the first thing that you need. But the next thing is something to you can’t look at every single page and all the code on every pages across thousands and thousands of pages across multiple, multiple clients. So you need the right thing. And if it’s a case of

picking between one and another, which, um, relative similar costs or marginal improvement in, in report or whatever it is, but you’ve been with one for a really long time. Um, you need to, you need to have a look at what you’ve got and you should be speaking to your team. The people who do the work day to day, you might not be one of those people as the agency leader. So you need to be speaking to your team. You know, have you tried site bowl? Have you tried this store? What?

What is it that we can do to improve the service we deliver to clients? And those are the conversations that should be happening relatively frequently in your business. Patrick, thank you so much for coming on and waving the site bulb flag. It’s been great to talk to you. And in our next podcast, we’ll be talking to another OMG partner to find out what they love about you and hopefully what they’d change about you if they could. Thanks very much, Patrick.

Patrick (23:20.426)
Thank you very much for having me.

Patrick (23:32.842)
Thanks Chris.