What link building strategies work now? Joining Dixon Jones on Episode 29 of the Knowledge Panel Show are Bibi Raven, Eva Cheng, Debbie Chew and Aaron Anderson.
THE KNOWLEDGE PANEL PODCAST
Every month, InLinks CEO Dixon Jones is joined by producer David Bain and a panel of digital marketing experts to deep dive into a single question on “The Knowledge Panel”. Join the show live over on YouTube and have your chance to ask the audience or line up the shows on your favourite Podcast system.
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What are the key elements of digital PR that cross paths with SEO? That’s what we’re covering on Episode 28 of the Knowledge Panel.
Joining DIXON JONES are LEIGHANNE MAKRYGIANNIS, NATALIE ARNEY, HANA BEDNAROVA & LUKE BUDKA.
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A discussion on how you can be more targeted with the traffic you are driving from your organic search activities and how to better select keywords that will be more likely to attract your ideal target audience.
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How should you be using log files to assist your SEO? That’s what we’re discussing on episode 26 of the Knowledge Panel show, where Dixon Jones is joined by Gerry White from Oda, Sophie Brannon from Absolute and Steven van Vessum from Conductor.
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Want to Read Instead? Here is the Transcript.
Dixon: Hello and welcome back to The Knowledge Panel Show. It’s Episode 26 and it’s “Using log files in SEO”. So, I’ve got a fantastic panel again with me. I’ve got Gerry, Sophie, and Steven. I’ll ask them all to introduce themselves in just a moment.
For those that are seeing me on camera, I do apologize for the lack of shaving. I spent last week at the British Chess Championships and shaving didn’t seem to be a thing there. They didn’t do that very much. So, I didn’t bother.
Anyway, thanks so much for coming in. Why don’t we just start with the introduction? Sophie, why don’t we start with you? Tell us about yourself. So, who are you and where do you come from?
Sophie: Hi everyone, I’m Sophie Brannon. I’m the client services director at an agency called Absolute Digital Media and I’ve been working in SEO for the last six and a half years. I’ve dealt with campaigns across a broad number of industries, huge websites down to tiny little brochure websites, and like to get my teeth stuck into log files so I’m really excited to join the panel.
Dixon: Fantastic. Thanks very much for coming on. And Gerry, what about you? Where are you and where do you come from?
Gerry: So, at the moment I’m the SEO director for a company called Oda. It’s a Norwegian supermarket. We’re expanding globally as we speak. We’re kind of looking to kind of grow into Germany, into Finland, where it’ll be next week, and well, I mean, that’s basically the start, but historically, I’ve been everywhere from agency side to I’ve been the SEO of JUST EAT, I’ve been at BBC, I’ve been more places that I can remember in like I say 20 years’ worth of experience.
Dixon: Brilliant. Thanks very much for coming in, Gerry. And Steven, tell us about yourself and where do you come from?
Steven: Thanks. So, my name is Steven. I’m the director of organic marketing over at Conductor. Conductor is an enterprise SEO platform. I’m also the co-founder of ContentKing, a real-time SEO auditing and change tracking solution, which was acquired earlier this year by Conductor. And similar to Gerry, I’ve been all over the place. I worked in-house, agency side, run my own agency, and now in the SEO tool space for the last seven years.
Dixon: So, as was said on Twitter earlier on today, a dream panel. Thanks very much for coming in guys. I really do appreciate all of your attention here. As always, this whole event is sponsored by InLinks. So, thanks to inlinks.net. That’s the advert for them out the way.
Let’s just check with my producer though, I haven’t missed anything important before we get on. David, how are you?
David: The only thing I want to say… I’m very good thank you. I just want to say, Dixon, we got many people listening to the show on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, but if you can, try and join us live next time. We broadcast live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. So, follow the InLinks channels, especially on YouTube. We go live once a month on YouTube. So, subscribe there and get an alert when we go live, and then you can interact. You can see what the next show is and hopefully, you can watch us live and ask questions on the next show, and I’ll tell you about the next show later in this one.
Dixon: Brilliant. We’ve got a little opt-in if you want to sign up and get an email when the shows are coming on, then if I remember, I send that out an hour before the event, but you know how I am. I’m not always quite as perfect as I should be. Okay guys, so thanks a lot.
I’m going to start as I always do, around the topic. A lot of people don’t jump into the whole 45 minutes all these podcasts and wish that we got to the point quicker. So, I tend to start with the question of if people don’t have 45 minutes to hang around – what one tip would you give to people about, a tip, a suggestion, a takeaway, surrounding, using log files for SEO? One thing that you think, “Hey, that’s an easy win. Go do that.” And I’m going to jump in on Gerry first to go with that one because he’s always got an answer for me.
Gerry: To be honest, I’m struggling with this one. There’s so much to it. Log files are actually one of the most complicated parts of it all. There are some great tools to kind of analyze it. I mean, obviously, ContentKing has got the kind of log file analysis part of it, component to it. If you haven’t got that, then Screaming Frog, and they’ve got kind of great dashboarding solutions. These two tools will allow you to kind of do a really quick and deep analysis.
So, basically, you can’t really do log file analysis without a great tool anymore. It’s not something which is possible because you’re talking about terabytes of data. Unless you’re kind of a programming database big data kind of guru then kind of analysis of it does require some kind of tool. Like I say, I’ve used multiple different things in the past but yeah, use a good tool.
Dixon: Okay. Sophie, what about you? Any tip, suggestion, idea?
Sophie: Oh, I think mine comes probably more off of one of my biggest pain points of log file analysis. I guess my tip would be if you can use a CDN to access your log files then do it because it makes it a lot easier to access and it stops all of those headaches of trying to find where they are, trying to get access to it, particularly if you don’t have the full access anyway and you’re trying to go through lines of developers or stakeholders to try and get hold of them. If you can get them in the CDN then that’ll be the easiest way.
Dixon: We’ll probably come back to that because I was going to talk about CDNS anyway because I’m so, so old that CDNS didn’t exist when I started, and to Gerry’s point, I used to use a templated Excel spreadsheet where you could cut and paste everything into a spreadsheet and then I did some analysis.
Dixon: Yeah, I’m really, really old school but things have moved on a little bit. So, can we come back to CDNs?
Steven, I thought of you and, obviously, I think it’s fair to say: “Use the ContentKing tool”. You’re allowed to say that. It’s okay. I’m not going to stop you from talking about your own tool. But any tip?
Steven: Yeah. So, love what Gerry and Sophie said and continuing where Sophie left off. Using CDNs where you can basically plug in the log streams from CDNs into SEO platforms such as ContentKing, for example, and you can get real-time insight into what’s going on your site. So, that’s super, super useful. A lot of folks think about log file analysis as, like, a rigid process that you go through once a year and it takes forever and you need to bribe people with donuts to get the log files in the first place, but there’s a whole new world out there and I would highly recommend exploring it.
Dixon: Let’s start with the CDN thing then because that’s kind of… Well, actually no, before we go into the CDN and I’ll come straight on to that one because I think we should get into that but let’s just, for those that CDN is two steps too far, let’s just ask, what is the real difference between a log file analysis and just using Google Analytics? I mean, it’s a question that I’m asking rhetorically but does someone want to jump in and say, what are the main differences between log files and things like Google Analytics, which is what we all use?
Gerry: I’ll jump in. Basically, Google Analytics is really very, very different to log file analysis. I mean, a bit of history, actually. There is the fact that Urchin, actually, used to be… Well, in fact, when we first started doing web analytics it was based on log files, but we are going back to when Dixon was young, so we are talking quite a long time ago.
What that doesn’t track is when it doesn’t hit the server. So, a good example of that is we often have interactions within pages which don’t necessarily fire kind of a something back to the server. For instance, if you click play on a YouTube video, it won’t actually fire back to your own server, so it doesn’t get tracked in the log file.
So, fundamentally, the two now have very, very different purposes and I think one of the things we’ll be talking about here more for log files is we don’t really even look at users in log files. We want to look at the robots. We want to look at people in, like, Google, how Google crawls your site, how Bing crawls your site, even how some of the other search engines actually handle your site and what we can do to kind of either stop them or improve the way in which they go through it.
And I think that’s the biggest thing that we look at in log files is basically the inefficiencies of how all sites are being crawled whereas in analytics packages we’re almost looking at inefficiencies or how to convert users. So, they have kind of similar purposes but really totally different.
Steven: Personally, I keep them separate because I look at the crawlers and users in different ways as Gerry explained. So, when it comes to log files, I really look at, I zoom in on Google’s behavior primarily because it’s the dominant search engine in most countries that we target and I am looking for ways to improve the time to crawl, time to index, and time to rank because, obviously, when you push the button and you publish a content piece, you want it to drive organic traffic as soon as possible and especially when you start analyzing that in real-time, at scale, it gets really, really interesting.
Dixon: Okay. So, then Sophie, let’s go back to… Well, feel free to add to those two points, but let’s go back to the CDN thing, you made the point at the top of the show, if you can get your log file through CDN network, instead of through the end server or whatever, then that’s going to be a better thing.
I’ve got a couple of questions, two or three questions really, I’ll just sort of throw them all out there to you and talk to you Sophie, if that’s all right. Do all the CDN systems provide that data very effectively and why is it better to have the CDN stream rather than the end server log file data? Why? Why and how easy is it?
Sophie: So, for me, my personal preference is Cloudflare and that’s for a number of reasons not just because of log files. I’m talking like DDoS attack with security, everything on top of that as well, overall site speed, and I think I’ve seen a bigger increase in people using CDN since the whole core web vitals everyone needs to improve their site speed, oh quick, let’s shove a CDN on top of it without really seeing or doing much else with it.
The reason why I prefer using a CDN is literally the ease of access more than anything, particularly when you’re working with big corporate companies, big brands, or even just people who don’t know where their log files are or they’re dealing with kind of legal teams, really strict legal teams, and there’s a whole other range of issues there which I think you might talk about a little bit later, which we can, with GDPR and things, but it just really helps you to access it a lot quicker.
One of the biggest things that I also find when having to go through a development team or going through a whole list of stakeholders is the length of time those log files are held for you can kind of control that on a much kind of closer scale when you’re dealing with CDNs because really you can access all of that, whereas when you’re going through kind of the client side and you’re trying to go through the development teams you turn around, they’re like, “Oh, we only held the log files for 24 hours. Sorry about that.” Great. That’s really helpful when I’m trying to analyze something.
Dixon: Okay. Gerry, anything on that? Any other good reasons to use CDNs?
Gerry: Yeah. I mean, this whole CDN is actually quite a recent thing for me. I say that because back when I was younger, CDNs were almost a problem. They didn’t store log files. They didn’t kind of… In fact, what they tended to do was stop the logs, they’d stop the servers from being hit as much because they’d actually cache a lot of the hits and do other bits and pieces. So, it’s interesting that now we kind of use the CDN as a way to get access to log files, that we would not have got before. So, I think that’s absolutely kind of really important that we kind of do use the CDNs. But one of the other advantages is the fact that when I was working, for example, at JUST EAT, the website is made up of like 12 quite separate kind of servers, services. One is a PHP box, one is a .net box, one is a WordPress box, there’s so many different ways in which these kinds of engines will kind of store the hits, and this really is important that if you then try to analyze it, you need almost the complete pitch, you kind of have to understand what’s happening everywhere.
And I think one of the things Steven will probably be able to expand on is the fact that all of these different services have a different log file format. Sometimes it’s a different column, different everything, so even if you got access to all of these, consolidating it, pulling it into one, and kind of analyzing it, you’re kind of trying to look at loads of different formats, and it’s like when 10 people are trying to consolidate one Excel document, it’s… sorry, 10 Excel documents, it’s absolutely horrendous job to do. But yeah, Steven, I think you’ve probably got an opinion.
Steven: Yes, I do. I totally agree, Gerry. It just makes life as an SEO so much easier if you have one place to look for your log files. It’s a breeze.
Dixon: I guess as well, you know, I mean, Gerry made the point of a large website has six servers say but a small website that uses CDN that has only one server, then has quite likely, especially if you’ve got static content, cached content that’s in the CDN that would never hit the server and that’s the whole point of a content display network or a distribution network, sorry, I just can’t remember what CDN stands for. But that means that, it’s very likely that if you try to use the raw server logs then and you’re using a CDN, you’re going to miss a whole load of the traffic because the traffic is never actually going to hit your log file. Is that correct or am I being naive?
Gerry: One hundred percent correct, yep. We saw this time and time again. Again, this is before the times when CDNs actually produced their own log files. When I was working at JUST EAT, I was like, “Oh, okay, so none of these actually,” particularly for images, particularly where we have like a long cache life, so any time… I mean, a good example of that CSS, we did not want every single user to kind of access the CSS file on the server. We wanted the CDN to handle 80% to 90% of that. And so yeah, exactly right Dixon.
Dixon: I think as well for those that haven’t seen another show that we’ve got, we’ve got SEO on the Edge, which you can find out there. Well, one of shows that was about the Edge and Edge workers. And the Edge workers, for those that don’t know, is where effectively you’re using a CDN network to literally change the code at the DNS level and that is increasingly common amongst SEOs, not always with the approval of the web developers or the admins, assistant admins, but is getting us through quite a few problems for previous issues when admins have been unwilling to give us access to various bits and pieces. So, very useful tool. So, look up that if you want to go into that a bit further.
Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit about the traffic that we see in log files because I know Imperva used to do an annual study on the types of traffic that they see on websites and they tried to work out how much of the content was human versus how much of it was machines, how much of it was malicious versus how much of it was not, and one of the startling things that always came out is that pretty much half the traffic on the Internet is not human orientated at all.
Is that the sort of thing that you see, Steven, in ContentKing or is it something that varies a lot on website-to-website? And what is the sort of non-human traffic that you see, or one sees?
Steven: I haven’t looked across all of our clients, I can’t, to see what the ratio is between real traffic and bot traffic, but I would wager that it’s more like 80% bot traffic and 20% user traffic nowadays, just because there’s so much crawlers out there doing their thing. A lot of them are, we don’t really know what they do, what they’re up to, but they’re out there.
And if you’re talking about ratios for sites, it depends. If you have a massive site like Gerry’s, for example, you’d want to see a lot of bot traffic on it because if a lot of pages get refreshed and they’re pushing a lot of new content out there, you want that content to be re-indexed as soon as possible. So, I’d rather have like 10% human traffic and 90% Google traffic on my site than, say, 50/50 because whenever I publish something, I want Google to eat it up.
Dixon: Okay. I wonder if the rest of you, Sophie, have you got the same sort of views or different views?
Sophie: Kind of similar for me. I see there’s a bit of a difference depending on the industry I’m working on. So, like, I find that with kind of health, finance, particularly bigger websites you do tend to see a lot more bot traffic than what you do with smaller ones. So, I’m talking like, I don’t know, Jim the local guy, you’re probably not going to see too much, you know. I like to kind of split it between good bot traffic and bad bot traffic.
Now, that may be controversial depending on who you’re talking to, but for me, like, good bot traffic would be website crawlers, website monitoring, like UptimeRobot or something, scraping, aggregation bots, but then bad bots would be like the spam, the DDoS attacks, ransomware, the ad fraud. It does depend, I really hate saying it, I really try and avoid saying it, but I think it’s just a matter of being able to block some of the bad bot traffic if you’re able to really identify that.
Dixon: It’s hard though, isn’t it, because we, unless I’m mistaken, we’ve got two basic ways of identifying that bot, that traffic, either the user agent or the IP address that it comes from, and if it’s the user agent what I think a lot of people don’t appreciate is that the user agent is given by the choice of the user. I mean, it’s something that’s pushed by the bot. So, the bot could sit there and say, “Hey, I’m Mr. Google,” quite happily or “I’m a very good bot,” and you wouldn’t have any way of knowing, or they could sit there and say, “I am a bot that you’re already familiar with” or “I’m Firefox” or whatever.
And, of course, IP addresses are getting much, much more random and variable these days, particularly with IPv6 being people are changing their IP addresses all the time. So, Gerry, when you’re blocking, if you’re going to use log files or information from log files to start blocking bots, how much danger are you in? Are you going to slip up and actually start stopping, I don’t know, Google’s image browser from looking at your information inadvertently, for example?
Gerry: Yeah, absolutely. I won’t mention the client’s name, but basically, I have seen clients where we can see something where somebody is trying to basically hack the site. An example of that is, I think everybody here knows, you can buy usernames and passwords off the internet off of sort of black sites basically, relatively cheaply. I’ve never done it myself, so I don’t know exactly how to do it.
Dixon: I’m glad about that, Gerry.
Sophie: A bit of a disclaimer there.
Gerry: I know. Absolutely. But then you can run these against any kind of site, any major site. And a number of sites that I’ve worked on have sort of spotted that, very specific passwords and things have been done at scale often from a strange country like America if you’re based in the UK or often it’s like Russia or something like that. And, as you say, if I was doing this myself, I would use a range of different IP addresses, different countries, and different user agents to hide it as much as possible.
So, exactly what you say, although we can sort of see this pattern happening, us trying to block it using user agents and us trying to block it using IP addresses, it’s a massive challenge. There are ways in which we can kind of try to fix that using things like a good example of that is, like, is it human, the kind of the Google thing, the CAPTCHA stuff, but again that means that other bots which are valuable, will struggle as well.
So, it is that sort of magical balancing act. So, I mean, we do rely a lot on things like Cloudflare’s own protection to kind of say, you know, “We can see bad behavior. Switch it on in Cloudflare.” But again, Cloudflare is not perfect, you know [crosstalk 00:22:05].
Dixon: No, Cloudflare is got this big button that you just, this one button that you can press, and it strikes me that that is using a mallet to knock in a paper clip really.
Sophie: To just decide, yeah, just trust it aside.
Gerry: Yeah, but often when they, I think it’s called Shields up, isn’t it, but basically when you hit that button it’s because you know there’s kind of a security incident going up ahead. And, I mean, I think all three of us, all four of us have worked on big sites where security trumps everything else, you know, you kind of get to that point where you kind of go, “Okay. SEO is really, really important, but security really, really important.”
But again, you know, I’ve often found it where they’ve hit the button almost and they’ve almost forgotten they’ve hit the button until suddenly we start falling out of Google and kind of going, “Oh, we seem to be blocking Google.” But as a user, I can’t see it because we’ve been whitelisted because we’re UK based or we’re whitelisted because of this or the other, but it’s kind of like until Google starts to sort of say, “Hey, we’re actually starting to drop you out.” It is something which is definitely worth kind of paying attention to.
But so, to your point, IP addresses can be… Well, you can’t fake Google’s IP address but what you can do is you can kind of give yourself a random IP address in effect in any country. You can’t fake user agents completely. So, yeah, I mean, I for one often browse news websites that I don’t want to pay for by pretending I’m Google and they just magically let me read all the private content and everything.
Sophie: Yeah. I think a good example of that as well was when everyone was… Well, a few people booking in their COVID vaccines, and everyone was trying to skip the NHS queue by doing exactly that. It was all over Twitter changing their user agent. So, it’s hard and same talking about kind of just blocking certain regions or kind of countries, people use VPNs all the time. People are so much more invested in their own privacy and their own security and it’s probably becoming a bigger trend than ever. That’s where it starts getting really dangerous.
Dixon: Yeah, I know, I’m British and I’ve got a TV license. So, I definitely want to be able to use my iPlayer from abroad. So, I use a VPN for that all the time as well. I think we do use that, we’re more and more of us are using VPNs and certainly a hacker, whether good or bad, whether a good person or bad, they know how to use a VPN. So, it’s not going to be an effective barrier.
And I think on Cloudflare there’s two different buttons. We’ve got a DDoS. A denial-of-service attack is happening right now, press this button. I understand that, you know, if you’ve got panic, it’s great to have a button. What I worry about is they’re more subtle. Here’s the setup that’s running in the background sort of thing that if it’s just taken at face value you start to miss an awful lot of potentially good traffic because if you want some… Coming back to the idea of SEOs being the subject of the podcast. If you want somebody to click on your website from a search engine whether it’s YouTube, whether it’s a Majestic or whether it’s Bing or whether it’s an image search engine, or anything that’s not the core Google is the biggest search engine, there’s loads of different Google crawlers and stuff, then if you don’t let the bots see that information then a human will never click on the link that’s then indexed by that information. I think people forget that quite a lot. Anyway feel free to carry on, come back on that one.
But let’s talk about error codes and how that could be useful on log files and let’s get to something really useful for SEO. Why can’t I see error codes in Google Analytics and what error codes can I see in log files that I can use to improve my SEO? I see Gerry is come off his mic, so we’ll let him go in.
So, there’s loads of other different codes which you can put into analytics that you can’t necessarily put into log file analysis. So, they’re different. And one of the things that is important is understanding what goes where and how to consolidate the information afterwards.
Dixon: I’ll come to Steven last on this one, I think, because you’ve probably got plenty to say, but Sophie, are there any error codes that you very much look out for because you’re looking at log files probably day-to-day more often than Steven or Gerry or me.
Sophie: Yeah. I mean, for me the 404s, the 500 errors, particularly on large e-com websites where there’s, like, loads of people accessing the site on a regular basis, updating products, taking things down, taking things out, and not putting redirects in place, or when they do put a redirect in place, let’s put a 302 in because they don’t know the difference and all this kind of stuff because they’re not there for SEO, they just manage their website, they’re just there to manage their stock. If that is a huge website and you know that kind of thing is happening on a regular basis just from the standard nature of it, that’s when I turn to log files.
I mean, I can run crawlers on sites like Screaming Frog and things like that or ContentKing but just really understanding and drilling into that more regularly and then seeing what Google is hitting because if they’re regularly hitting those 404 pages then you know there’s a problem and you know you need to do something very quickly.
Dixon: Steven, what do you want to add in there?
So, what I like to do is, I pull in all of the status codes that we get and pull it into a different place than Google Analytics because it’s just not the right place to make that overview. So, you could build your own platform, or you could use something like ContentKing that continuously monitors your site and leverages log file analysis, Google search console data, and Google Analytics data and you could piece it all together. You can even add the stock levels that Gerry was talking about through an API. So, you’re basically piecing together your own platform and getting the insights that you need.
Dixon: Okay, cool. So, there’s a lot of things you can pull in but apart from things like error codes are there some other things that you pick out in log files at all, that you’ve got a pet choice? Sophie, you’ve come off mic, so I’ll let you dive in there first.
Sophie: Yeah. For me, if a page is unnecessarily large or slow and the reason why I use log files for this more than anything and it’s one of my biggest frustrations in SEO is people will typically just run the home page of the site through kind of page speed insights or Lighthouse and just be like, “Oh, everything is fine. This is fine.” That’s not fine.
So, I tend to use it more specifically for that, and finding things that may be like static resources that are crawled too frequently or not frequently enough. But yes, the page speed, especially with this whole turning around towards the core web vitals and user experience, and like the big trend towards that, a lot of clients I see on a monthly basis are asking a lot more what are you doing with our site speed, what are you doing with our core web vitals.
Now, that’s not always going to be the top priority, but being able to really identify that in a much larger website where it’s going to take a really long time for it to crawl on kind of a website crawler like a Screaming Frog, for example.
Dixon: So, do you then use that also to find really large image files that are sitting there just, you know, they’re actually a little icon in the browser but when you look at them, they’re 4HD, Ultra HD, and that’s really slowing stuff and you wouldn’t see it another way. So, I think that’s a really, really good example.
Gerry, Steve, any other things that we need to bring out before we hit the top of the show?
Gerry: I think the one thing that I get inspired and I basically find interesting is the wastage. Basically, you often find that there’s, like, parameter URLs that are being crawled at scale. There’s sub-domains that are being crawled or there’s often things which you don’t expect. I mean, the funny thing about log files is the fact that you tend to look for things that you didn’t really see anyway almost. I mean, a lot of the time we kind of look at the website, we have a kind of understanding of the website, and using tools like ContentKing or Screaming Frog or whatever kind of crawler we’ve got, we have a really good idea of how Google should be seeing the website. But then, often we kind of look in the log files, and we’re often surprised when we go, “Oh, Google has got a bit weird over here” or “Google’s found something over here.”
I mean, one of the things that I would mention is before you get into log files, another place you can look for the same kind of information is in Google Search Console. There’s something called The Crawl Stats section which I think is massively underutilized, and once we’re talking about log files, I think kind of starting there allows you to kind of go, “Okay. This is something which I need to look at,” and then you go to the log files. It’s almost kind of a, “Where do I start to kind of then go somewhere else?”
I mean, one of the things Sophie mentioned before is things like 302s versus 301s. We kind of understand the difference but explaining to a developer that a 302 will be hit hundreds of times whereas the 301 will be hit a few times before Google will kind of go, “Okay. This seems to be permanently moved over here.” 302 is like, “Oh, I have to keep checking back and checking back and checking back.”
So, a lot of the time developers, IT guys, they want to improve the crawling, they want to improve the efficiency of observing content to not just users but also to the search engines especially if a huge proportion of the traffic is search engine based. We want to improve the efficiency there, and the best way to do that is to kind of go in log files.
Another thing Sophie mentioned was page speed and one of the things that I never knew before recently was that there was like a status code called a 304. Actually, I mean, I say recently, this is like 5, 10 years ago but when I first found out about that, I was surprised. I was almost worried when I went, “Wow, there’s so many 304s in here. What are they and is it causing me issues?” And it turns out that’s a good thing, but nobody had ever really told me that we should be using 304s to improve a crawl which means that Google will check it and then when it comes back again it won’t rescan the page. It will know that it’s not been modified because that’s a not modified status code.
All of these kinds of little things which you kind of go, “Okay. These are the little things that are kind of massively improving things,” or “This is where Google is gone a bit crazy over here and is found some spider trap or something,” which means Google is kind of finding millions of pages of parameter content that it doesn’t need to find. A good example, going back to kind of my time at JUST EAT, we had hundreds of thousands of sub-domains and Google was crawling them even though they weren’t generating any traffic. It was just basically canonicalized back to the main site and we didn’t realize just how bad it was until we started doing log file analysis.
Dixon: I might come back with some of that, but I wanted Steven to have a chance to wade in.
Steven: Yeah. I love the 304 and using Google Search Console’s crawl stats report to get some pointers on where to optimize to use your site’s crawl budget more efficiently. So, what we typically see is that a lot of sites are not leveraging the 304 not modified HTTP status response.
Dixon: So, let me ask, how do you leverage a 304? I mean, so basically, what you’re saying is a 304 response is better than a 200 response? Is that right?
Steven: It depends. So, if you’ve got content that’s not changing or not changing that often, it makes a lot of sense to use the 304-response code because you’re essentially telling both browsers and crawlers like, “Hey, this piece of content, whether it’s a font or a logo or HTML, it hasn’t changed. So, you don’t need to fully crawl it.” It hasn’t changed. So, you can use whatever you have, and that way you decrease unnecessary load on the site.
So, for example, like a company’s logo doesn’t change that often, it’s totally fine to use the 304 HTTP status there and you can use it in a bunch of places where it makes sense.
Dixon: So, you do it on the logos and the images not necessarily on the HTML pages, URL itself, is that right? How do you do that? I mean, if I’m a WordPress user, am I stuffed? Do I need to be a little bit more tech-savvy than that or can I do it in WordPress?
Steven: There’s probably plugins for that, so any speed plugin that’s worth their salt is going to have options for this, so that’s built-in pretty much any plugin I’ve seen.
Dixon: Okay. Cool. And… sorry, Gerry?
Gerry: No, I was going to say you can also do that using the CDN layer basically. So, you know, often that’s what CDNs are really, really good for is kind of going, “Actually, I want to cache these hits and use a 304 and other bits and pieces.” So, it does exactly what Steven is saying, it kind of gives you the ability to kind of go, “Okay. These image files, I want to basically extend the, oh God, the data points.” Oh, I’m talking rubbish now. I’ll pass it back to Steven.
Dixon: No, I’ll move on because I want us to get onto GDPR just briefly before the end and before that you brought up, I think it was Gerry, the idea of… Well, actually, Sophie brought it up really, data basically, these large files and that being really obvious when you look at log files and you suddenly see that 80% of your resources have been used to load images and you didn’t know you had an image-rich site or something like that or it’s just been streaming a video to one person for the last 24 hours or something.
Does that mean, is that an opportunity to talk to data, to developers, and systems admins in a language that they more understand? If you sit there and say, “Look, you’re using 20% of your resources just to load this image up,” are you going to get a faster reaction than if you say, “Look, you’ve got 3000 bots hitting this web page,” or something like that? Is data a better way to communicate with systems admins, or is that an it-depends kind of question of the system admins?
Sophie: I think, it’s always an it-depends question. I think anything is an it-depends question, isn’t it really? I’ve always found it’s easier to build relationships with developers if you are almost speaking their language. If you can show them how it impacts them rather than how it impacts you or kind of just really building that bridge because they don’t really care, they’ve got their own job list, they’ve got their own ticket system, like they’ve got all of these things that they need to work through, why should they care more about what you’re trying to get pushed through than what they already need to.
So, you just really being able to showcase to them what the impact is and kind of talking to them about what the effort behind that is as well and how they can resolve that and leaving that open to them because if you storm into kind of a development meeting being like, “Great. This is definitely a low effort task. I need all of these things done because it’s going to benefit me and it’s going to benefit the SEO,” you’re not really going to get anywhere. They’re going to be completely just shut down from that. So, I always think just talking to them in their language, showing them the data, is going to help.
Dixon: Then I’m going to defend, it’s not it depends, it’s yes. You reckon that if you can talk to them in their language then you’re going to get further faster.
Sophie: Yeah, unless they know SEO, I guess, but that’s really hard. I can’t say I’ve found a developer who’s like the same level of SEO as what an SEO is, but yeah.
Dixon: Yeah. Okay. We agree with that Gerry and Steven?
Gerry: Go on, Steven.
Steven: Yeah. It’s more of a communications issue as Sophie put it, yeah.
Gerry: I think the worst thing or the worst habit I’ve seen from SEO people is telling developers how to do it rather than what they want to get done. If you kind of go, “Oh, you need to edit the htaccess file,” and the guy turns around and kind of goes, “We don’t have a htaccess file or a .net server.” You look like a… Yeah, you don’t look like the best SEO guy out there and it is basically your job to kind of talk to them about what you need and why you need it rather than how to do it.
They’re always very good at kind of telling you how they think it should be done and talking to you through it and you need to be in those conversations because often they come up with a solution which doesn’t really work for you, but equally, you know, you almost have to trust them to kind of understand their own systems to kind of come up with the best ideas.
Dixon: Excellent. Okay. Before we… We’re nearly at the end of our time. These things go really quickly when you get into them, but I did want to just finish up with this question which if you don’t want to answer that’s actually fine, but GDPR law is something that, you know, when it came in, I thought, “Well, I believe in this and I do, I want people to opt-in to have their data or not to have my data stored or whatever.”
But one of the quirks of GDPR law is that IP addresses are considered to be personally identified information. So, does that mean that server logs are illegal? Who wants to go on with that one?
Gerry: So, fundamentally, no, they’re not illegal in the basis that they have to be stored. They have to be stored in that way. Basically, the whole GDPR law is if your data… It’s a bit complicated but, basically, if your data is used and matched up in a different way. Now, if we kind of use the IP address to then re-target you and do sort of all bits and pieces and match it up with other kind of data sources then yeah. Basically, if it’s for the core service that we’re doing then absolutely we need to use the IP address and so on and so forth.
Now, it is debatable whether an IP address is actually personally identifiable. The reason I say that is because…
Dixon: I agree.
Gerry: … I used to work at the BBC and everybody at the BBC whether they were in the Manchester, the London, or any other office, all shared one IP address, and it’s the same with most organizations. And equally, as I browse around at home, my IP address could change. I could pay extra to have a fixed IP address, but I don’t because I’m tight and I don’t need one, but basically an IP address is one of those things which is only just kind of a way in which you at the computer that you’re at accessing the internet at that time.
And again, as Sophie’s mentioned, so many people now are using VPNs and other bits and pieces. It’s quite interesting that we still consider an IP address to be kind of personally identifiable. However, on the basis that GDPR and, I mean, the company that I work for, we don’t use Google Analytics, for instance, because Europe has deemed it to be potentially illegal. So, in Germany and Finland, we’re looking at different tools but what we are doing is we’re not sharing the IP address externally. We’re not using the IP address that we capture to kind of then share that with other tools and other services to kind of use it in ways for retargeting and other bits and pieces, but we are using it to kind of provide the best service and to make sure that what we do and how we do it is functional.
So, without storing and using IP addresses literally the internet would collapse, and whilst I’m a great believer in my level of privacy I’m also a great believer in having a functional internet.
Dixon: No, I absolutely agree with all you’re saying, it’s just that it wasn’t me that deems IP addresses are personally identifiable information. It’s in the legislation which seems to me absurd because there’s no way you can… It’s like having a telephone call between two people but the system doesn’t know what one of the telephone numbers is, that’s not going to work. You need it to be able to do the communications.
Gerry: Yeah. I mean, one of the things I would say is I’ve had some very interesting conversations with legal teams and big companies where they were trying to figure out how we’ve given permission for Google to scrape the site or similar things. Basically, lawyers don’t always understand the implications of law. They understand their side of it. We understand our side of it, but the two are not necessarily very well connected. Internet lawyers are a new breed and I think that’s a fascinating kind of area if I’m honest.
Dixon: Sophie, Steven, you got anything that you want to add in that conversation? I find it fascinating, but it probably bores the hell out of a lot of people. So, I left it to the end of the show.
Sophie: I mean… Go on, Steven.
Steven: Yeah. So, I think the discussion you need to have it’s like how do you go about IP addresses. In a lot of cases, you can discard them, or you can just remove the last couple of octets. And you can do everything that you wanted to do anyway. So, it’s not really an issue that’s holding back your work as an SEO. So, moving beyond that, it’s pretty easy.
Dixon: Yeah, that’s certainly what I do. On InLinks we kind of have a tracking system on our, it’s like Intercom, it’s called GoSquared but it’s sort of basically a web chat system, which everyone needs to be logged into to be able to have a chat. So, I’ve got their email address and everything. But where I haven’t got any of that information or haven’t been given permission to hold that information then we kill the last three digits of the IP address, so that we’re GDPR compliant. And obviously, if somebody signs up for the service then they’re obviously then…it’s a different nature of a different relationship.
But I find it weird because you go down a different internet lawyer who’s worried about, I don’t know, terrorism, and all of a sudden it’s illegal not to have the IP address of your customers. So, the ISPs are damned if they do, damned if they aren’t. So, I find it… Anyway, it’s a story for another day and I don’t want to take people too much off the beaten track, but I do find it fascinating.
Anyway, guys, we’re up to our 45 minutes and a little bit beyond already. So, thank you very much for coming in. Before I ask you all to, please tell people how they can get hold of you and find out more because a lot of interesting stuff comes out of this session. I’m going to bring back my producer, David, to let us know what’s happening on the next show and when that’s going to be.
David: Sure. The next show is going to be on the 19th of September, 4:00 pm BST. That will be Episode 27 and the topic will be: “How do you Target Audiences using SEO.” We’re booking a few guests for that and stay tuned to the InLinks channels to find out exactly who’s going to be on that show, but the topic is going to be, “How do you Target Audiences using SEO.”
And the sign-up link is theknowledgepanelshow.com if you want to sign up and watch the next episode live.
Dixon: I might have to talk about GDPR again then, that’s going to happen. Okay, guys, thank you very much for coming in. Guys, before we go, can you tell people how they can get in contact with you as long as you want them to, and please don’t say what you can see on the screen because bear in mind most people are on Spotify or iTunes or whatever. So, Gerry, how can they get you?
Gerry: You can always find me, if you Google me, Gerry White. You can find me on Twitter which is @dergal, or you can find me on LinkedIn. They’re the two best places to find me.
Dixon: Okay. And Gerry is with a G. Sophie, how do they find you?
Sophie: Similar for me as well. Twitter more so just because I’m dreadful with my LinkedIn DMs because they’re normally full of backlink builders, but @SophieBrannon is the best place to get me on Twitter.
Dixon: Excellent. And Johnny Scott is on YouTube in the background. So, thank you very much. Thanks for coming on, Johnny. That’s great. Steven, how do they find you?
Steven: I’m an SEO, not a hard person to find. You can search for Steven van Vessum, and if my last name is too difficult, you can go to steven.land and you’ll be able to find me and contact me.
Dixon: Brilliant. Steven with a V. So, guys, just leaves it for me to say thank you very much for coming in, and if you all want to be on the next session live go to theknowledgepanelshow.com and sign up there. Cheers. Bye for now.
Transcript edited on 8th October 2022.
How do you keep your SEO clients so satisfied that they’ll stay for a long time and recommend more customers to you? That’s what we’re discussing on episode 25 of the Knowledge Panel show where Dixon is joined by Himani Kankaria, Jake Gauntley, Olga Tsimaraki and Sara Moccand-Sayegh.
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Want to Read Instead? Here is the Transcript.
Dixon: Hello, welcome to the Knowledge Panel Show, Episode 25: “How to keep your SEO clients happy”. And as normal, I’ve got a great panel in with me. We’ve got one down due to Covid, I’m afraid, but Sara, Himani and Jake are with us, and hopefully we are going to have a great chat over the next 45 minutes over “How to keep your SEO clients happy”. We can probably use the fact that I have just said “no” to giving somebody a refund, as it’s a bad example of how to keep your clients happy, and we can talk about whether you should or shouldn’t, but a great team to get going with. Why don’t I ask you guys to start off by saying who are you and where do you come from. Sara, why don’t you go, because I couldn’t pronounce your surname, so you’re going to have to say it yourself.
Sara: OK, I will do it. So my name is Sara Moccand-Sayegh and I work at Liip which is a mobile and development agency and I do SEO for the clients that come to us to build a website and I do SEO from some clients that just come for SEO and analytics.
Dixon: And you are a sort of a huge company there, aren’t you?
Sarah: Yeah, exactly. It is probably the largest development company that there is in Switzerland. OK, I didn’t say that, I come from Switzerland.
Dixon: Thanks for coming on the show, Sara. Himani, tell us about yourself, where do you come from?
Himani: Hey everyone, I am Himani Kankaria from India and I own an organic marketing agency, which specializes on content driven SEO. So we are mostly into content optimization, on-page optimization and all those stuff, and we are really aggressively target feature snippets. Every content that comes its feature snippets is the first target that we key.
Dixon: OK, quite specific, so that sounds a good plan. Jake, how about you, who are you and where you come from?
Jake: Hi everyone, my name is Jake Gauntley. I’m from the northeast of England, but I currently live in sunny London, very sunny today. I started working in SEO in 2011 so just over a decade in the game. Currently working at Reprise Digital here in London, I have been here for the last 5 years, manage a team of 6 people, and we cover some large multimarket global SEO accounts.
Dixon: Welcome to the show, Jake. So, Jake and I are in sunny UK, and sunny UK is approaching 40 degrees today, which is going to be a record for us. We have one other person from the UK in the building as well, David, my producer. I’ll bring David in. David, what I have missed out today?
David: Oh, you are getting very good at noting, not missing things out, actually. I don’t know if there is any job for me anymore, Dixon.
Dixon: There certainly is.
David: I just want to share with the listener, you are probably listening on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, one of those platforms. If you are, come and join us live next time if you can, theknowledgepanelshow.com, sign up to watch the next show live and join the hilarity, ask some questions live, and hopefully we will see you there next time.
Dixon: OK, so let’s start off with my new phrase the tip at the top. One takeaway, if people haven’t got time to hang around for 45 minutes. When it comes to keeping your SEO clients happy, what one tip at the top would you guys give? Let’s go in the other order now. Jake, why don’t you go first?
Jake: Sure. So without a doubt, my tip at the top would have to be education. I think it’s so important through a relationship from the second you start, kind of working with the client prospect, kind of fully educate them, not only on the processes of the agency, but also about the kind of SEO itself. The more you can kind of help educate a client, the more likely they’ll be useful in kind of getting things implemented and being able to communicate more effectively to get what you want done.
Dixon: Excellent tip and I think that one will resonate with a lot of SEO agencies and possibly their customers as well. Himani, what about you? What thoughts have you got?
Himani: Sorry, can you please come again, I had some network issues.
Dixon: No worries, I’ll go to Sara and come back. Sara what tip have you got for one tip for takeaway if people haven’t got 45 minutes to stay.
Sara: For me, I think that is communication, but it’s very connected to educating people, because in the reality like you, I like to have clients and I like to speak to them like once per week or every two weeks and then automatically you educate them about SEO, how we should work together and so, communication for me is the main tip.
Dixon: So how often will you jump in and talk to your customers?
Sara: It depends, I have some customer, then they come for the development, just do a website migration, and then I don’t see them anymore, that is very sad. And then I have a customer, then I like if they follow me, I follow them, and then we regularly speak. The largest one maybe once per week and another one like once per month, but we have regular meetings and I love it, I live for that.
Dixon: Brilliant! OK, Himani, if I can come back to you if there is a tip you can give our listeners to take away.
Himani: Absolutely, I totally agree with Sara. Communication has been the key with our Missive Digital, and we have seen that the more we talk with them, the more we showcase that the decision making is already taken by us. That’s where they feel like okay, we have partnered with the right agency. So they need 2 things. Most of the time they are so much overwhelmed with all of the task they already have, most of the business owner in the marketing is. What they need is that decision making should be done by the agencies, and they should just inform us, that this is what they are doing, and the client should just approve that whether we are on the right direction or not. So, decision making, they want to offload the decision making, but while having really high on the communication side, even if it is possible that just email them if for everything that you are doing and even just keep them in CC when you are talking with everyone and even maybe having calls with the development teams regularly, so they feel that OK, they are actually concerned about our website and our services and that’s how they will help us.
Dixon: So, can I get us a clarification there? So, are you saying that the agency should be leading the decision making or the customer should be leading the decision making?
Himani: No, usually what has happened with us is that most of the SAS companies they try and apart, I mean they are always looking for a SEO agency which takes the decision [Freezes] they have to every time pitch and they take the decision, they don’t appreciate that. So that’s why they want that the SEO agency should identify the challenges, and also they should be coming up with this solution, they will just play on, that kind of role where they just have to give you the approval or the rejection. That’s it.
Dixon: OK. Jake, in your experience is that the same or do you think it depends from client to client?
Jake: Yeah, I think it kind of depends client to client, I think in some instances from my experience.
Dixon: I can’t believe I just said It depends. I am sorry.
Jake: In some instances I think you have to be quite collaborative with clients, so for example, recently we have been working on a hair tref lying with a client, and the usual way that we would recommend the client implement that across the sites, kind of isn’t possible without their websites are set up, so we have got to be more collaborative in coming to a recommendation that works for them as well as what we kind of want to do as the SEO agency. But I think we would always go in like this is what we would recommend, the best case scenario and what you should be doing, but then there’s always got to be that communication and open dialogue, it’s like well, what can we actually do with the system that you guys have got in place.
Dixon: So Sara, do you find the same?
Sara: So, for me, it depends on the expertise of the clients also. Sometimes on the other side, you find clients who have zero expertise and they come to you and they’re like, so what should I do? And then you evolve the process now behind that kind of clients, and then you have already more expertise and then it’s more a collaboration with them, and then as Jake said, then there is more…
Dixon: As Montse just jumped in and said, it depends, because it does. Montse from the audience, thanks for jumping in. I think that then means that it does depend possibly on whether the right client is matching up with the right agency, doesn’t it? Because some clients, are very educated, or they think they are very educated, they may or may not be, and others maybe less so. If they are less educated, then of course they have to allow the agency to lead, but if they know what they want, then maybe they are taking a more hands-on approach and the agency is sort of having to fulfil the content requirements or whatever the message of the day is. So I think maybe that’s all about aligning expectations, I suppose. Trying to find that you got the right customer for your way to work is probably a good thing and I think we were talking about before we’re coming on, choosing the right clients. Sorry, did you say you had the luxury of being able to choose your clients?
Sara: Exactly the opposite.
Dixon: All right, you don’t have the opportunity.
Sara: No, OK, because it is like this: I have two type of clients. So when I say “I”, I mean the team, the SEO analytics team. We have two type of clients. One is external and they are not connected to the development agency, there we can set our rules. But then we have the clients that are connected to development agencies, so their clients they are coming, because they want a new website and that is the core business of the agency, building a new website. So now, imagine they are spending a bomb and then I come and I say, listen, I really don’t think that we are a good match.
Dixon: It is not going to work, really it’s the only choice they’ve got in town. OK, fair enough. Himani, do you get the opportunity at all to select, or I suppose, in some cases, fire your clients?
Himani: I should not disclose this, but it’s something that happened to us like two or three months ago, I believe. And there was a time, where the client was very choosy on focusing on challenged base, and point based content strategy. And what was happening is, that was not aligning with the queries that actually the audience searches were. So that was the mismatch, that was happening. We were constantly explaining them, that you should be focusing on the query based, on content strategy, to make sure that your audiences search for you and you are there then they are searching for you. It was like completely, I mean, they just wanted that their performance marketing to work and that’s why they asked us that, we need these kind of pages, which were not, all created based on (…), but they were mostly created based on the audience or obtain points. Like, say whether they would be looking something in a product for strategizing, something for collaboration and something for analytics, so there was this product around, that was from the finance industry, and it was something created in that ways, and we were not able to identify the queries that would fit in that page. So we were like literally tired of discussing that these are the keywords we need, and we need people, I mean, we need traffic from these queries and on these landing pages. And they were like, there were a lot of huge arguments and everything that was happening and then finally we had to say, that sorry, the expectations that you had given to us – sorry, we can not match that, let’s close this. So that was something that happened, that was really crazy for us, as well, because we invested a lot of time in doing all that thousands and thousands of keyword research, clustering and mapping. And then at the end of that, you are just telling them, that no, sorry, we cannot do things for you. And it was like really… Even the teams was shattered that we had to let them go.
Dixon: It’s a touring day when that happens.
Himani: And it was a high-paying one.
Dixon: Well, that happens sometimes, I suppose. There are kinds of ideas that you guys have come up with, thoughts that you’ve come up with so far. Fit into the ones that I sort of picked up from Search Engine Journal did something in October last year, on the six most common reasons why SEO companies go wrong, and they were misaligned expectations, so very much similar to what you are saying. Misaligned expectations, a failure to educate the client, a lack of value for money, which we haven’t just talked about, your clients don’t know what you’re doing, which we kind of touched, no visible results, fair enough, and the product wasn’t ready for SEO. So six ideas, but I think those are probably worth touching on. But before I dive into those into more depth, I wanted to start with sort of a happier kind of question. Have you ever done something that doesn’t just keep your clients happy, but they suddenly really delighted. It might be sending them a birthday cake or something like that, but you know. What is the icing on the cake moment that you might have, that you’ve done with your clients where a client has said: “Yeah, I’m really, really happy”. Jake, are you willing to go first on that one?
Jake: Sure. I haven’t sent out any birthday cakes yet, but I’m gonna make a note of that idea for the future. But again, going back to kind of what I said for my tip at the start of the show, I think all of the really successful accounts that I’ve been part of, have been based around educating the client. Obviously communication is a very important part of that, but kind of making sure that the client themselves are educated and whether that is training your specific client contact as person, or delivering training for the teams internally client-side things like the PR teams, development teams, content teams, brand managers.
The more that people client-side know about how SEO works, I feel like that’s where more can happen client-side. I don’t really have control of what happens client-side. I can do great work for the agency, but as soon as I send my recommendations over, I’m relying on a completely different set of people to implement that. So if we can kind of get in there and be like business partners as well as service providers, you know, we’re helping to educate the people client-side and…
Dixon: And how do you make that happen? What does training look like in your world?
Jake: If it’s just kind of one-on-one with the client contact, it can be relatively informal things. If you’re taking through a deliverable, and they’re not quite sure about things, you can spend some time explaining more about canonical tags or more about kind of page speed and things like that, but then if they kind of spot a need for you to help people their side, that can be more formal kind of works like workshops or like training sessions, SEO 101s things like that.
Dixon: So have you gone into their offices in the past and sat there with them and gone through a formal sort of training sessions over to particular ideas with groups of people from the client?
Jake: Yeah, quite a few. Common ones that we’ve done are SEO training for like in-house PR teams, obviously with the link building that’s very handy. We’ve done stuff with developers in the past as well, just kind of giving a bit more context to what we were asking them to do. We’ve worked with kind of brand managers who part of their new role was to be in charge of local SEO, so we kind of give them a bit of an insight into about local SEO, and it just helps to kind of upskill everybody and in the long term will help organic performance.
Dixon: Absolutely. OK, back to the delight question. Sara, Himani, does one of you want to jump in with a story of delight? Sara, do you want to go there?
Sara: So I remember this one time, it was like last year. Normally, obviously, if you achieve results is what makes a client safe, you know, that is basically where they’re paying you. But there was this one time, which was a nightmare. The client wanted something, that just a few people add, and it was a test by Google, so it was an icon. And finally, after a lot of go back and forwards between, I will not explain all the situation, but it was very difficult, with one of the developer inside the company, we obtained it. It was a live blog post, so with the written live blog during the match. And finally when we obtained it, I remember everyone was crying and the developer too, because we’re working like two months crazily to obtain that, so it was not a developer inside my company but outside, like from another company, and we were working every day trying to obtain that and every day we were like depressed. No, not even, and finally we obtain it, so the developer were like super happy. It was super proud in front of his team finally. I was proud in front of the client. So, client happy, I was happy, developer team was happy. That it was like a fantastic moment, because finally we were all happy.
Dixon: Brilliant, good story! Himani, have you got anything to add on there?
Himani: I never had this kind of thing, where we had to send a cake or something, where things were really crazily challenging, but what we have, because there are some of the large publishing sites, who come to us and tell us that “Hey, get us on the feature snippets and everything”, right, so in that case what happens is, some pages take lesser effort and some pages take larger effort to optimize those pages. So where we see that there are times, say, there is this client, they have like billions of organic traffic almost every month, so it’s like, there we have to optimize 10 pages a month. So what happened is that two of their pages took really less effort, so what we did is, because we thought that it was very less effort, so we identified one more challenging page, and we delivered the optimization for the 11 pages. So that’s what made them really happy, that you guys identified that it was the less effort, and you took the initiative and told us that OK, this is the page that you are taking up next for this month itself. So that little effort helped us and obviously there are areas where they feel that OK, they have given us something for free, so that’s what make them really little happy.
Dixon: And a good thing that made you feel good there, I suppose, is that you find yourself on the front foot as opposed to being the beck and call of the customers demands and things there. Brilliant. Let’s get on to one of the reasons that was cited, not by you guys, but by a wider audience. The one of the reasons that customers aren’t happy is they can’t sense a concept of a value for money. How might you mitigate that and set it off so that doesn’t become an issue? I don’t know if anyone wants to stick their hand up and go first on that one. Sara switched off her microphone – you’re going first, go on.
Sara: Jake, you want to go? No, too late, excuse me. So I think that there is one of the things then helps me and probably helps the client, is to set the target and to set the analytics goals, so that normally if you reach them, it helps you to understand, so I’m in the right way and if not, you know then you’re wrong, and then you have to assume, discuss with the client and…
Dixon: So you’re setting targets based on the amount of organic traffic?
Sara: Depends, that depends on the client a lot. I know, that I shouldn’t say “it depends”, because you said it at the beginning, but again, sorry about that, but it depends. So the advantage – I’m not like the best in analytics to be honest – what I have is then I have the advantage then there is a inside the team they are like four people that are specialized in analytics. The interstate it’s analytics, tracking, setting, doing workshop on analytics and everything. So my advantage is then I have them to support me. And then they will do some workshop for example with the client, I will be there, and then we can set the goals, and then they will drive the clients also to have the credit call, and then like this normally we are all happy at the end. If I don’t set. If I don’t arrive to the result, if that happens, OK, I will find an explanation to that, and then you know.
Dixon: OK, I might come back on that, but I think I’ll let Himani and Jake jump in first as to how they might stop that from becoming an issue. Jake, do you want to go?
Jake: I think for me unlike the lack of value, it’s more so being open and honest up front at the beginning of the project about kind of what a client can expect for the money that they’re paying for that project, and then finding out what value is to them. I mean, obviously for like a lot of e-commerce businesses that’s going to be make more money, but also like in terms of the client contact themselves, like are there any specific metrics, vanity metrics, like goals personally that they have, that you can then continuously tie the results back to. So whether that’s kind of using smaller impact reports to show like continuous progress of the tactics that you’re doing but then from a more strategic view in things like qbr’s that’s when you’re looking at the overall impact to money. Like I said, vanity metrics, if they’ve got their heart set on some page one generic non-brand rank and that they really want to rank for, but maybe wouldn’t be super value for them, like is that something that you say “Oh, look, we’re now ranking first page for this!” that they will get a personal sense of value from or there’s also the element of if they want to see the value for money with your recommendations, how can you tie recommendations to a monetary value before they’ve even recommended it. So using things like click-through rates, conversion rate, and average order value to be like, look if you want value, this is the value of getting this keyword to position five, position four, position three, position two, position one. And if they can see the monetary value for that, they’re more likely to kind of be able to get the buy-in like, all right this is could be worth ten thousand pounds a month or whatever. I think just tying it back to that monetary value kind of helps to show value from the beginning.
Dixon: So i mean it’s not always obvious though. But I’ll jump in on that one as well afterwards. Himani, do you want to jump in first.
Himani: I would say 70% of the clients that we have are from the tech and the SAAS industry, so they have a lot of targets on MQLs, even more than SQLs, they are focusing on marketing qualified leads. So if they want to see whether the services that we are providing that are value for money or not, it’s something that as Sara said, we have to tie it with the targets, and we always have. Whenever we pitch the services, we always have those smart goals attached to the proposal. So what happens is, that they can understand that “OK, these many conversions we are expecting it by the end of this, say, quarter” or something like that, so we have to tie that and say for example, when we see, that we are maybe halfway or, even say, below that, below those targets, so on that month itself we take the precautions, and we take the clarification calls and everything and we tie and set the another milestone to achieve, because what happens is, if we don’t let them know in the advance, they will feel like that we were not proactive enough to take the right decisions at the right time. So that’s why we also bind the goals, that we want to achieve on the MQLs, SQLs and the traffic, and then we have to constantly monitor it and make sure that even if we are not able to achieve – that’s fine, they don’t look at that because SAAS founders and marketing heads are least concerned about whether they are achieving those targets or not, but they are most interested to know, whether we are in the right direction or not. So when you showcase that, that OK, we are progressing, but the pace is slow, then it’s fine, they are okay with it, but at least they should be having that feeling that OK, they are in the right hands, these people know what they are doing.
Dixon: So I think mentioned qualified leads and you were talking in terms of leads. Sara was talking in terms of traffic and Jake was turning into talking in terms of rankings. And I think therein lies my sort of second dig further kind of question, because I suspect that it’s until you’ve jumped on one of those choices and got the customer to buy in, as to what you’re going to be measured against, the customer will have a tendency often to change what they consider to be value for money, when they’re just testing, paying that monthly bill, they’re kind of saying “Well, what have I got”, and they will have a tendency unless it’s very, very clear to choose whichever one you’re not going with, and I think that it’s not easy to know which one to go with, because to Sara’s metric of traffic that would be great, because you can sit there and say, well it would have cost this much to get this much traffic from PPC, for example, so you can show value for money from that point of view, but we all know that. Himani, if you had one goodly would go one really spot on visitor that person could convert and then your conversion rate is much better than the 100 or potentially thousand that come through from not a targeted PBC and then Jake, your challenge lies in the between, because what’s the difference in the value between a page one ranking and a page five ranking and a page ten ranking and then putting that across multiple keywords it becomes a difficult thing for the customer to see. So I guess, and then also Jake you make that point, I’m sorry, I’m sort of covering all of the things there and putting in another question really, but Jake, you make the point that different stakeholders may have different objectives, so that your direct customer may have a vanity metric, but the CEO or the finance director probably has a “how much cash am I paying out” metric and the marketing officers there’s “how many visitors coming in”, so there’s different stakeholders within there, so I bring it back and say, well, you know, is it a negotiation to try and set those targets to avoid an unsatisfied customer six months down the line or do you always try and go in the same direction. I don’t know if I said too much there.
Jake: I think it’s always going to be a negotiation, even if you kind of don’t necessarily want it to be, obviously you’re working with paying customers and if they want to focus on top line revenue traffic, things like that, are always going to be the most important KPIs of success businesses want to spend more money with an SEO agency to make more money. And if they’re not making more money, then obviously that’s when the questions start. But there can be instances, like going back to kind of rankings, where if demand for a particular product category or brand or something that has fallen, and a client comes asking questions, I’m not funny, but you can show that actually fewer people are searching for this product, than they were last year, and here’s some kind of backup KPIs, things like rankings, and you can pull in data from search volumes, Google trends, that kind of thing, to show that we have made SEO progress, but in order to kind of generate demand that’s maybe not a job for SEO, that’s maybe another channel.
Dixon: Anyone wants to jump in at all on that or let it run?
Sara: So I agree with Jake 100%. For me there is like this workshop then help me, then I was saying before with the analytics team, then help me a little bit, like, OK you have all these stakeholders and make them be a little bit aligned also, and then there is also when I’m doing the job, I will try to figure out also based on this, for example which kind of page we are targeting,so some will have a search intent then we’ll go more for conversion, so I will go maybe more in that direction now that it will be just because they want to have a lot of leads, so you’re going in that direction and drive traffic there, so you have like also that they take to take into account.
Dixon: OK, so Himani, sorry.
Himani: I completely agree with Jake and Sara. It’s something that needs to keep going and what has happened with these days it’s like, my same queries would have indented results and everything, so it’s something that you cannot rely on. Say you’ve done something for six months and then there is nothing to do and nothing to go beyond. After six months it’s nothing like that, it’s always ever evolving and because this is now, I mean, there is a lot to go beyond, just rankings is something that we also know that these days after COVID people have started taking a lot of time to convert, so it’s not something that they should only look at SEO for driving business, it’s the holistic approach that they had to take for digital marketing to make sure that every channel helps the other to make sure the business keeps going and the demand generation keeps on improving.
Dixon: Fair enough. So the thing then is, if you’ve got individual objectives for individual customers and they are all unique, and I led you down this road for this question And then you’ve got all your customers with a different kind of mentality of what they consider is value for money. One’s pounds and pens or dollars and cents, and one’s visitors, and one’s leads, and one’s rankings. Doesn’t that give a problem internally within agencies to try and develop internal systems that are going to help the agency grow because if every customer is totally different – does that mean that every SEO consultant within your agency has to be a real expert and you know really at the front of their game to be able to keep up or do you think there’s an opportunity for different agencies to take different approaches? If that’s a harsh question for anybody then that’s fine, but Jake seems to be happy to jump in, so no.
Jake: Yeah I’ll take that one. To be honest, I think all of the different things that you’ve just listed within that question: rankings, revenue, traffic or things that an SEO performance report would include anyway, it’s just more so when you’re delivering kind of the insights are going through with the client, maybe you would kind of lean towards one particular part of that, is that the revenue do they want to look at, user engagement of pages, things like that. I think, generally, you are going to be reporting on all those things, but it’s more so how you then communicate success with the client as with that data.
Dixon: That’s a fair point – which you said the first time around it’s primary results and secondary results which is a fair way to kind of have them all, and then you just decide what the key performance indicator is for that particular client.
What happens though, when you jump in there and six months down the road you don’t see results, and it may not be entirely your fault, because we do know these agencies, that as Jake said, he can produce the work to a good standard, give it to the customer and then the customer doesn’t act upon it and I know from previous Knowledge Panel Shows, that this is something that happens, that the customer pays for all of your advice and consultancy, then doesn’t do anything about it and then blames you for it not happening. How are you going to get around that one, Himani?
Himani: That’s so common, especially because the development, I mean we don’t develop and design in-house so like the developers and the development team are with them. So what happens is, whenever we recommend any UX suggestions or any tech implementations, it takes almost, say, they will say that it is in pipeline, but nothing goes as per expectations. And then, after two months, three months, they are like, where do we stand, and then we are saying, that this was given long time ago and because the business owners were not in loop, they were like okay we don’t know that this didn’t go ahead, and you should have asked us, and everything. So it’s like pretty crazy experience, when the development side implementations are not done and even these days we have seen with many SAAS companies who have signed up with us, they are using Webflow and not WordPress, so they are so much keen about not sharing their Webflow user access to us, so that we can update the blogs and everything on our end. So it’s like, we feel like, okay please come on, we need to implement these things, otherwise we won’t be having any control, and he won’t be able to show you any results at the end of the month. So we have to just keep on poking on Slack, channels and everything that hey please go and just let get these things done. I can just relate it with my two days conversation, I was poking the client since three days, that we need those landing pages live, if they won’t be live, we are not going to help you with anything. This is super crazy!
Dixon: I love this, I really hit the key of the problem here, didn’t I. Sara, you’ve got the same sort of feelings and issues?
Sara: So the advantage then, as I said at the beginning, I work for a development company, so it took me four years now, but I have a clear vision how to bypass all these kinds of problems. So how? So the secret is to understand the working sprint NO when the sprints are happening. So even when I work with external clients, my first question is: who is responsible for the development team? Can I speak to the developer directly and have their phone number? Second thing, they work with the PO normally, it depends what they use, Scrum or no, but normally it’s like this. So you want to have the number of the PO, you want to know what is their favourite way of communicating with the PO and you want to make sure to persecute him, to make sure then when you persecute him, you arrive to put your tickets in the sprint as you want it. So normally there will always be, yeah, but we have like a sprint in a week, and it’s already booked. No problem, next sprint is in the month? – OK, I can wait but let’s already go up in the hierarchy, prepare it for next month.
Dixon: So you’re assuming, that all your customers are using proper agile sort of lean systems?
Sara: No, no, that is, they are like this. If you just have for example a developer, somebody then will implement what you have to do is just persecute the developer. I mean, at a certain point they cannot avoid you forever.
Dixon: I don’t mean to pick you up, but do you mean “persecute” or “pursue”?
Sara: No, no, persecute really. We call them: “Cheers, hello, I’m Sara, how are you?”.
Dixon: That sounds more like “pursue” to me. “Persecute” means put in jail.
Sara: Oh, OK, than persue. Wrong word but you got it correctly.
Dixon: Sorry, I apologize for that. My Italian is a lot of worse, I shouldn’t really pick you up on that one.
Sara: I’ve learned a new word now.
Jake: I think it sounds great. I think actually like trying to sell that in with a client about being able to just slip things in through that where it might be a little bit of a harder…
Dixon: May depend on the client then. If the client’s going to trust you, then that’s the thing to do.
Jake: Exactly, it’s all down to trust when it comes to something like that. Some clients, especially if it’s like someone in the finance sector or someone else in like your money, your life situation, that there’s probably going to be some level of kind of, well, you know, things that need ticked off internally by legal and things like that. Even if it is just simple: “I want to change an internal link” or something, some businesses, the wording and things like that might come down to kind of brand teams or legal teams and things like that, but in an ideal world it sounds great. I just can’t say being able to be used across like all businesses.
Dixon: Then, Himani, what about another way to address it and have, when you start a contract, some kind of escalation procedure, so when you’re not getting that response from your direct report, you’ve already got something in place to say if it’s not moving forward, whether it’s, you’re not happy with your direct report, your direct report is not happy with the relationship with you, both sides have got a way to escalate it without it going straight to “I’d like to cancel my account”. What do you think about that?
Himani: Usually what we do, is we try and gather the reports and we try and indirectly tell them that okay we planned this much and we have not reached here, so we try and pick up their nerves, which is on the results that they have put in us, that hey you guys need to achieve these targets by this month. So we just try and share with them that okay this was the planned on the state and here we stand here and these are the metrics on the analytics. Just to inform you, that’s it. And we just let them take the decision on what’s not going and then they will pick it up with the team members and they will tell them that okay what is not working and everything. Because most of the time what happens is, we are talking with marketing heads and obviously their developer as well. But sometimes, as Sara said, they have their sprints to work upon and that’s why they don’t prioritize those activities. So there it’s when you share these reports with business owners and marketing heads, they feel really bad, that okay this is not working because of us. So then they will escalate it. So that’s how it has worked with us.
Dixon: OK, all right. Guys, we’re already at 45 minutes, so I’m going to, just before I ask you guys to tell people how they can get hold of you and everything, I want to bring David back in, if I can, to tell us about the next episode and where we should be going.
David: Superb conversation today. I’m sure it could have gone on for a lot longer, but hopefully we’re gonna have another just as good one next month. It’s a great topic, episode number 26 will be on Monday the 15th of August, that will be on “How to use log files for SEO”. We’ve already got all the guest book for that one, and the three guests are: Jerry White, Sophie Brannon and Stephen van Vessum. Monday the 15th of August, that’s going to be 4 PM UK time, 11 AM Eastern time in the US. Just go to the knowledgepanelshow.com to sign up to watch that one live.
Dixon: Excellent! If you can find another lady on that one, that would be great. That’s a great crowd coming on already, so it’d be absolutely brilliant. Looking forward to that. So Sara, Himani and Jake, before you go why don’t you just remind people who you are and how they can get contact with you. Himani, why don’t you go first?
Himani: I’m reachable on Twitter, LinkedIn and even you can search my name on Google and you will find me everywhere. So you can connect with me on Twitter, you can email me and my website’s URL is: missivedigital.com. So you can look at my website, and you can search my name on Google, and you can connect with me.
Dixon: OK, missivedigital.com. People can’t see your name, so it’s Himani Kankaria. Thanks very much. Jake, how do they get hold of you and Reprise Digital?
Jake: I’m Jake Gauntley – search that on LinkedIn, on Twitter, you’ll find me on there. And reprisedigital.co.uk for Reprise.
Dixon: Sara, how about? How do they find you?
Sara: So I’m also on LinkedIn, Twitter and I think just on these two. My name is Sara Moccand-Sayegh, just search for Sara Moccand and it will come out Sara Moccand-Sayegh. You can find me on LinkedIn, on Twitter, and if you want to make your life super easy just go to Liip, which is the company that I work for. You search for people and you will find me.
Dixon: Brilliant, thanks very much guys, I really appreciate you all coming on today. Thanks to Montse, to T Huts and to Gautam, who all sort of sending us comments in the live feed. If you do want to come on to live one next time, keep an eye out or sign up on the YouTube channel, and you’ll get a notification. Guys, thanks very much and see everybody in Wonderland.
Transcript edited on 17th August 2022.
Can SEO and PPC work together? In this episode of “The Knowledge Panel,” we find out what the friction points may be, and why we all just can’t get along!
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David: “How SEO and PPC Can Work Together.” “The Knowledge Panel,” Episode 24. Hi. It’s your temporary host, David Bain, here. And today, we’ve got another wonderful episode with three great panelists here discussing all the merits of perhaps just doing SEO, perhaps just doing PPC, or perhaps doing them both together and working very extensively and effectively together. And so, we’re gonna have a great discussion about that as well. I just wanna mention quickly to anyone that happens to be listening on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, any different podcast platform, we do broadcast live. So, if you can, come and watch the next show live. Just sign up, theknowledgepanelshow.com, and hopefully, you can join us watching the next one live.
But without any further ado, let’s get straight on to introducing the three wonderful panelists that we’ve got today. So, in traditional Dixon fashion, I will say panelist number one, who are you and where do you come from?
Navah: Howdy, all. Thank you very much for having me. My name is Navah Hopkins. I have been in the digital space. I actually started off as an SEO, made the transition to PPC. I’ve had the pleasure of working with international accounts across every vertical. I’ve taught courses on PPC. I’ve built the paid agency or the paid arm within tech SEO agencies, worked on software. But most importantly, I love helping people. I am the “Ask the PPC” for Search Engine Journal and one of the founding board members for the Paid Search Association. So, all of that is to say I’m really excited for our conversation around empathy, technology, and how we can ultimately help you.
David: And one of the ideal guests for this particular topic and if you’ve crossed the boundary from PCC to SEO or the other way as well. And Becky as well. Oh, rather, I shouldn’t say Becky. I should say panelist number two, shouldn’t I? Who are you and where do you come from?
Becky: So, I am Becky. I’m founder and CEO at Reflect Digital. We’re a digital marketing agency based just south of London in the U.K. And I guess what makes us special is the fact that we’re kind of here to unleash digital performance, and we do that by connecting motivations and psychology into digital marketing strategies. So, we’ve got an SEO team, a paid team, a CRO team, and we really look at a holistic strategy. So, yeah. So, I’m gonna commit it very much from a strategy angle today and looking forward to the conversation.
David: Superb. Strategy perspective, bird’s eye view perspective perhaps as well. And moving on to panelist number three. Who are you and where do you come from?
Nadia: So, hello, everyone. My name is Nadia Mojahed. I am based in Geneva, Switzerland. So, I’ve been in the digital marketing field since more than 12 years, and recently since 2018, I decided to create my own agency, SEO Transformer. And I help international businesses and organizations and various sectors with our organic growth, basically with content strategy, website migration, technical audits, and all what helps bring the brand to the users actually. So, I’m glad to join you here, and thank you for having me.
David: Yeah. And I’m glad you talked about brand as well because brand is something that SEOs weren’t so great at maybe 10 years ago. Getting a lot better at it nowadays, of course, as well. And so, shall we start with perhaps looking at whether it’s possible to work in either SEO or either PPC in a fairly siloed manner? Just thinking about your own role in mind. We’ve got Navah shaking her head there as well. Not possible nowadays, Navah?
Navah: Well, not only not is it possible, you will hurt yourself if you try. So, the days of I’m gonna go hide in a corner and keep the client in the dark and work my magic voodoo, they’re over. And it’s actually really good because it means that not only are we sharing data that we own, privacy-first web compliant data where the users consent to cookie tracking, where we have our global analytics tag installed, all that. We want to make sure that we are collaborating both PPC and SEO so that we’re sharing that same source of truth, but also so that we can prove out ideas in a meaningful way.
It doesn’t make sense to hide what converts and what doesn’t on the paid side from the SEO team so that… Like, they have to create content strategies in the dark and vice versa if there is really solid intel on the content side or the insight search side that can be relayed to the paid teams to understand what ideas might convert and be worth that more expensive auction price. Makes zero sense to silo that. So, you’re hurting yourself if you’re trying to hide, and you’re also hurting yourself if you refuse to share reporting data. So, yeah, no, no.
David: Okay, okay, okay. So, share, share. Make sure you talk to people. Becky, you obviously manage a big team and you’ve got SEOs and paid search specialists that work for you. So, obviously, there are different mindsets that are perhaps better for different roles that the individuals happen to do. If someone isn’t a brilliant expert at paid search and just wants to do that, are you quite comfortable with that person staying in paid search and not educating themselves about SEO?
Becky: I think so. It’s making sure you’ve got the people to bridge the gap internally. So, not everyone themselves needs to be an expert across everything, but the thing that I say to the team all the time is your customer does not care what channel they find you on. They just care that you’re there when they need you at the right time and depending on where they are in the journey. So, that’s the bit. So, it’s one of the reasons we created our kind of customer experience team that we’ve got that kind of major on CRO analytics and bridging the gap between the two because it’s their job to get into the mindset of the user more and to map out what customer journeys look like and where we’ll find different audiences. And then to bring the two teams together from an SEO and a paid point of view to say, “Hey, look, this is how we make this happen.” And then actually, naturally the teams start working better together because they can see that central customer first. I don’t care what channel you’re on strategy and then they see where they play in and how they work together. And that, for us, is how it’s working and working really well.
David: So, Nadia, customer first. Is that how you approach trying to encourage SEOs and PPCs to work more closely together?
Nadia: Yes, absolutely. I mean, there is… So, SEO and PPC are just like the other side of the coin. And if the brand’s users are on Google, then both of the channels are actually important to reach to the customers. So, it’s basically the customer that we are trying to reach to. And by sharing the data and knowledge, we will just help each other perform better with PPC, for example, sharing the data of what are the keywords that they are targeting, then when SEO incorporate them in the text, we will help them by reducing the bit cost, for example, from performance perspective and the same as well with the different aspects.
Now, talking from an SEO perspective, so the more we actually share knowledge, SEO will help PPC achieve better results together when it comes to page speed elements, having the page better for the user experience as well. So, I always promote it as a win-win. We’re not competing. Actually, we are helping reach for better results.
David: Now this is a great panel because I can see that you’re suggesting great topics to further the conversation as part of the private chat as well. So, also feel free to jump in and add to people’s suggestions your thoughts. So, completely open panel discussion. Just jump in whenever you want. And shall we just move on to how to decide to spend your budget? Because, obviously, every client has a limited budget and you wanna maximize the impact of that budget as well. So, I guess what kind of perspective do clients tend to have and how they want to spend their budget? And how do you go about not pushing them in the right direction but ensuring that they go along the right path to maximize the impact of their budgets? Becky, would you like to go with that?
Becky: Yes. So, we take a research-driven approach because actually, to us, we don’t mind where they spend their budget, but actually, it’s more about starting with where. Again, we’re gonna find the customers and how they’re performing currently, benchmarking against competitors. So, we’ve got kind of an in-depth discovery process that we’ll take people through which does everything from profiling audience, finding drivers, looking at all the channels in-depth to understand the opportunity, understand the kind of cost, obviously, from a paid media point of view. And paid media, we’re talking everything from Google through to YouTube through to programmatic social channels, like, anywhere we can pay to put an ad. We wanna be thinking about that in relation to the different audiences.
And then it’s starting to marry that up against the business objectives because we need to understand what are they looking to achieve and where are we gonna get our kind of quick wins, our low-hanging fruit that’s going to help them justify that to the board that this makes sense and the investments working? Where are we gonna have our long-term strategy that maybe…? Especially from an organic point of view. There might be some keywords that are kind of our 6 to 12-month plan that aren’t gonna happen overnight but actually will dramatically help and maybe reduce some ad spend in the future.
So, it’s more about coming from a less emotional and a more rational database to being able to say, “Look, these are our options and these are kind of different ways that we could look at it,” and getting feedback from the client and making sure that we’re gonna answer the demands of their objectives.
Nadia: Can I add something here?
David: Yeah, go for it. I was just waiting to see who’s gonna jump in there. Nadia, yeah.
Nadia: So, I totally agree with Becky. Actually, it depends on, yeah, the business objectives as well, and also what are the objectives? And what is the business situation? So, sometimes it’s…like, some brands would like to…they want to show results, especially with the case of startups when they want to raise funds, for example, or, like, shorter-term projects. They want to see results now, but at the same time… So, if it’s a very competitive industry, then it might be most, like, very closely to just, like, rely on or to build the processes to rely more on PPC and not to benefit from SEO, for example.
It’s basically for certain keywords. There might be… SEO might help the business, for example, finding the niche that they can actually target that has not been never addressed before, whereas the low competition exists for that, and then tap on that growth organically very quickly. Relying solely on PPC, for example, on the other hand, might, of course, drive results for the time being, but maybe at some certain stages that the bit cost will increase, the drop-down of performance might happen. So, it’s best when it’s based on a case-by-case situation. It’s best when both are invested in, both to have, for example, one property as a place where you push for immediate results and one property to build and to invest in to grow over the time.
Navah: I’m so glad you brought up the look at each individual channel. So, whenever I’m working with a client, we have a very candid conversation about what are your customers worth? How many customers are you currently getting each month, and where could that number grow to without any foundational change or any operational change? Are you seasonal? There’s a lot of business questions that go into it. And there are certain folks where I will never ever recommend a Google Search from a paid standpoint simply because they do not have the budget, but I might recommend a display approach or a local service ads approach coupled with SEO from either technical or content, or I might recommend, “Hey, let’s just work on video content,” or, “Let’s work on guerrilla marketing.” Just like maybe we look at just more conventional media. It depends on the client.
One really useful way to do this actually is go to Google Trends and actually do a search for the different ideas that you want to potentially invest in either from an SEO content standpoint or from paid, and you’ll be able to see localized how each idea works. And depending on the search volume, you might even get auction prices back. So, as a general rule of thumb, you never want to set yourself up to be able to afford less than 10 clicks in your day if you’re doing anything paid because for non-branded, less than 10 is asking your campaign to fail because a 10% conversion rate is exceptional. And if you’re asking to do better than that, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
So, when you set up paid, especially if you’re not B2B, I mean, B2B, it’s a little bit more forgiving on that ratio, but you still definitely need to be mindful of that. Make sure that you’re setting your budgets up to drive results that you need and that you understand what the factors are that influence that conversion rate. If you convert better on the phone, you better be setting yourself up for calls. Your landing pages better be set up for calls. The types of queries, the types of content that you’re doing better, be encouraging that kind of conversation, planting that need to speak to an expert.
If you know that your site sells you well, just worry about that. Worry about that easy navigation, the path to conversion. Starting from business metrics and understanding pragmatically whether you can afford X, Y, Z channel or not will help quite a bit, and also understanding locally and time-wise where it might make sense to make a paid play definitely will increase the chance for success.
David: Navah, just to let you know, your headset got a little bit crackly there.
Navah: Oh, no.
David: We can still hear you okay but I’m not sure if it’s something that’s just slightly loose or you’re touching the wire or something like that. But just to make you aware of there. Hopefully, it’ll clear up there as well. Something else I just wanted to touch upon, Navah, was that you mentioned beforehand that we should maybe talk about how PPC is more than just Google Search. In terms of when you talk to clients about opportunities, are many clients actually aware of that, the fact that Google is a lot more than just text ads nowadays? And also, I guess to follow on from that, are areas like display or different video ads sometimes a much more cost-effective way to start PPC with?
Navah: Not only are they, it’s where Google is going. But dirty secret, Microsoft Ads exist, too, and it tends to actually convert quite a bit better, and it’s a lot easier to get more out of your budget there. So, just a general disclaimer, I am a huge Microsoft Ads fan girl. I love Microsoft Ads, Audience Network Search. They’re great. Love Google, too, but I do have a very near and dear place in my heart for Microsoft.
That out of the way, Google rolled out last year a campaign type called Performance Max and it basically rolls in everything together, display, video, local, shopping, search. And the reason why they did that is they wanted users to stop focusing on the individual channel, the nitty-gritty, and leaving out opportunities that could serve them well, and really focus on business objectives. The downside of Performance Max as a campaign type is that we just don’t have as much intelligence yet. Our ability to set certain settings aren’t as great.
However, based off of the tools at our disposal and based off of the way consumers are interacting with content, especially in the post-COVID world, video is non-negotiable, display is non-negotiable. Luckily, every ad network has at least a Shutterfly or Shutterstock integration, and it will crawl your site, and it will help you create beautiful content if you do not have the team to do it yourself. But absolutely, absolutely, you need to be taking advantage of those channels, both from an auction price standpoint and lack of competition. But also, that’s where your customers are. And if you do not have a cohesive brand message and a cohesive hook to pull people into your offering on things other than Google Search, you’re just gonna be paying a premium every single time and they haven’t decided that they have the need yet. You need to be owning that entire user journey.
David: Is video generally more a brand marketing tool and…
Navah: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. So, this is actually very, very important, and I would really love for both Becky and Nadia to weigh in on this, too, because there’s a lot to unpack here. There’s a reason why YouTube is the second largest search network. There is a lot of mechanics that you can do, a lot of things that you can play with. YouTube by the nature of what it is, you can have those very transactional ads that are focused on shopping where you have that amazing ad and then the product is right there. There are the landing page-focused. Yes, you can have brand awareness and, yes, you can have brand lift, but ultimately, YouTube is a gold mine, a genuine gold mine for dynamic meaningful conversations with people where it’s that much more important nowadays to build that trust and to build that desire to interact with the brand so that they consent to not only engaging with you but to letting you know that they’re engaging with you.
Becky: I agree so much. It’s all about building a relationship, and that’s what that marketing journey is all about. And I think too many people are just running their text ads at the point of conversion,but you haven’t done anything to build a relationship. So, then the customer clicks on it and then they land on this site, and they’ve never seen you before, they’ve got no relationship, no trust. So, then they probably leave and they go to one of the other results where maybe they have been doing all the other activity, and they’re like, “Oh, this feels like a safe place actually. Two weeks ago, I read an article that helped me make this decision.” And they don’t even realize they’re putting all those things together. It’s just they’ve got this feeling that they don’t have about this brand that’s just popped up out of nowhere.
So, I think the thing that we find really important is making sure that where you’re using different channels for different things that you’re matching up what the customer should expect from it. So, our clients should expect from a metric point of view because some of them will be very different from a converting point of view. You’re not necessarily expecting them to convert. Yes, you can use YouTube for kind of that final part of the funnel, but depending on what you’re using it for, making sure you’ve had that conversation so that clients start to understand where they’re expecting the users to be in the journey. And what you’re expecting, as a result, is really important because otherwise, they can so easily bucket all of…especially on the paid marketing side of things. They think it’s all about driving ROI. And sometimes it’s not about that, it’s playing a different part of the game to get towards the ROI figure. So, yeah, that’s really important as well.
Nadia: Yeah. So, I also would like to add for video. Like, different types of people consume different kind of content and media. So, your audience might not be willing to read long blog articles or long texts, but then with a video, you could reach out to those who look for videos to learn about your brand. So, basically, it’s an opportunity not to miss as Becky and Nav said. Actually, I found video very effective as well to fuel the website, to fuel the social media interactions as well. So, it adds this, as you said, Nav, a personal touch, an interactivity. And actually, talking about SEO, sometimes for specific keywords, you need to have videos actually. Sometimes for the ranking of a specific keywords, a text doesn’t work. Sometimes images, you need to have images. Sometimes the content is best described by a video.
So, basically, it’s best that you as a brand to reach to the users with different channels and not to limit yourself. And nowadays, with having…like, users don’t expect a brand to spend that much on videos now with this, you know, like, live videos and stories on social media. And, like, your portable phone can be your video recording tool. So, it’s basically, let’s say the expectation on, like, how we should invest in video production, it might not be like that much cost here. So, like, return on investment will be bigger.
Navah: I have one quick point on this, and then I promise I’ll release the floor. This is a very powerful PPC and SEO collaboration opportunity. There’s a great audience type within paid search or any Google channel. They actually take the YouTube audience, the people who have subscribed, people who have seen a particular video, people who have commented on a video. So, as you’re working on your content and you’re deciding where to invest that content, that audience that has engaged with you before can then be used to pre-qualify your paid spend so that you’re not just shooting in the dark and you’re not just creating that cold call there. There’s that warm interaction that Becky mentioned, and you’re able to really move the needle both on the PPC and the SEO side. So, definitely, if you aren’t already, use your YouTube channel to your advantage not just to sell and to build brand awareness, but also from a targeting standpoint as an audience.
David: So, primarily, the audience for “The Knowledge Panel” show are SEOs, but obviously, SEOs that are aware that it’s important to learn different digital marketing activities from other people, and probably a lot of knowledge from paid search is an important part of that as well. Is it still the case that the quality and possibly volume of keyword data that you can get from paid search tools is better than the keyword data available for organic search?
David: No? Okay.
Navah: No, it died. We are all crying into our search terms report. So, basically, what happens now is we’ll look into our search queries and we’ll see some data, then we’ll see other queries and a whole other chunk of data. That’s just this black box of, “Oh, no.” So, what’s actually really interesting is that SEOs, you’re used to dealing with this, you’re used to modeling, you’re used to making those educated guesses, you’re used to building out the data from the scraps that we get from Google. This is a really powerful time to collaborate and to build those cross-platform reports because PPCs, we’ve kind of recovered at this point. And yes, our modeling from a conversion standpoint is there, but, yeah, we definitely do not have the gold standard of full robust data that we once did.
David: I guess one thing that you can do for PPC, for SEO, sorry, is you can actually test PPC for a short period of time then decide whether it’s actually worthwhile to spend a decent amount of budget focusing on SEO for those particular terms.
Navah: So, this is actually very important. Different ad platforms have different rules of engagement. Google requires age in order to ramp up quickly, and actually, the smaller the spend, the longer the ramp-up period will be. So, if you wanna test if an idea is meaningful before you engage in the 6-month to 12-month content strategy, you need to make sure that you’re budgeting in at least a quarter to give paid to actually prove it out to give you a meaningful data set, and you need to make sure that you’re budgeting efficiently and effectively, going back to that equation, can you get enough clicks in your day to trigger your conversion rate? If you’re not doing that, I’m sorry, but you’re gonna get bad data.
And on the flip side, if there are content strategies that you have in play and they’re converting, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be search volume enough for it on the paid side. Like, those amazing opportunities that Nadia was mentioning about low competition, kind of getting those 15% unique queries that happen in paid, if there isn’t enough search volume, Google is just not gonna serve it.
So, yeah, just a little qualifier there that you do need to give it time and you do need to actually build in a test budget that’s actually probably higher than what you intend to spend so you can clear that learning pretty quickly.
David: Becky, is there something that your teams do? Do you use PPC as a way to decide whether or not to invest in SEO?
Becky: We do. We also use PPC quite a lot to test, obviously, content from the ads, but then we look at that from a metadata and page performance point of view of what’s working, what’s resonating with audiences. So, there is lots of data that can be shared both ways, but 100% using it where you can’t test. But Navah is completely right, you’ve got to have enough budget to make a meaningful data set because I think too many people make decisions on not strong enough data or we’re looking at averages that just don’t mean anything. So, try to find that kinda outlier data, that interesting…those numbers that actually tell you something that you can do something different because of it is the really important thing and probably the more difficult thing, which is why people struggle with it.
David: And what about the other way around? What are the learnings that PPC can take from SEO? For example, if traffic reaches a website and it’s probably the first time a visitor has landed on a website, there’s an opportunity to have a tracking script on there, do some retargeting, and things like that. What retargeting tends to be effective after someone has landed from an organic visit?
Becky: Who’s taking that one?
Navah: I actually would really love to hear Nadia’s perspective on this because I have a feeling as you’re working on content, like, there’s a lot of conversations about, “Should I go to paid or should I not?” So, I’m genuinely curious.
Nadia: So, basically, like, just like taking the conversation from where it ended on the testing part and then bridging it to the remarketing part. When it comes to the, like, search volumes, they actually… When it comes to keywords, then it’s… I mean, it’s not all about search volumes and it’s not all about… I mean, like, even what competitors have in terms of keywords. We all know that for the B2B keywords, you won’t even find search volumes for that. The point is that to prioritize to be useful to users even if there are even no search volumes for that.
And so, when it comes to SEO, like, just having the content that serves the users and leaving it some time to cook, to bake for Google to start driving results for that, and then looking again at the Google Search Console and seeing what traffic it can bring, and then taking those keywords and then giving them to the PPC team to actually do remarketing for those campaigns. Targeting those campaigns will be very useful because there are lots of…
I mean, when it comes to…especially to the traffic that comes from organic, not all people will be ready to buy now and not all people will be… Especially, like, if they don’t really know the brand very well, then they will need to come back and forth so many times. So, that’s where it’s very useful to all the time run remarketing campaigns to get this traffic to help us, yeah, with the performance.
Navah: So, one thing I’m actually very grateful for is that Google across the board, and I’m curious what everyone else thinks, has moved away from last click, Analytics being default last click, Google Ads being default last click. It’s actually really funny in the new GA for last click is called…is basically ads-preferred because it so often give the credit to the ad. I’m skeptical, healthy skepticism, about the data-driven attribution being the main driving force in Google Ads and then also in GA4. But I think it’s really interesting when we think about remarketing and what gets credit and how we set up campaigns. A, getting comfortable with the fact that we’re not gonna have perfect tracking and what those user journeys look like, but also helping our customers or our stakeholders understand there are fractional conversions. Like, this engagement that was valuable to us happened because of multiple steps, and if we’re remarketing or using just audience targeting…because, to be honest, remarketing as it was before is kind of dead, especially in the cookieless world.
Do we focus on overcoming the objections that someone might have had on an organic experience? Do we focus on, okay, that group just isn’t right? And so, we wanna focus on a completely different group and just understanding the page behavior. There’s a really great tool, Microsoft fangirl again, Microsoft Clarity. It’s absolutely free and it will actually let you see what users are doing on your page. So, if you’re really curious, are people staying on and reading the full blog? Are people trying to engage with your form but then getting stuck? This is really useful intelligence regardless of what industry you’re in. So, that user behavior intelligence is just as important as understanding what keywords to target or not, what audiences to target or not.
Becky: And I think the more granular you can get with understanding what the user has done on the page or where their next page was to put them into the right remarketing bucket is absolutely key so that then you’re putting the right message in front of them. And I think when we think of it as a journey, one of the things that our behavioral science team talk about all the time internally is about creating memorability because where we’re thinking about the fact that… And it really does depend what you’re selling, what your services, what your product is as to whether it’s got a short time span or a long time span to make that decision.
But for those longer time span, you need to be creating memories. So, you need to be evoking emotion because that’s gonna be more likely to create a memory. You need to make people think. So, that old adage that actually online we should not make people think, you should make people think if you want them to remember something. Like, they are more likely to remember it if they’ve had a bit of cognitive strain, if they’ve had to use their brain than if it was something that they could just look at and move on from.
So, we look at that as well from an ad content perspective as that kind of remarketing journey or also bringing them email marketing as well. So, how can we…? From an SEO point of view, if we’re driving people to a page and we can get them to give us their email address in exchange for some kind of download or whatever it may be, if we can then take them on an email journey and a remarketing journey where we’ve, again, paired the channels together and we’re thinking about the messaging, we’ve got so much more opportunity to build a relationship and to convert them.
David: Now, another way that SEO and PPC can work together, or I should perhaps say paid search can work together is on landing page design. So, traditionally or certainly in the past, it was quite common for paid search to drive traffic to orphan landing pages that didn’t have anything in mind for SEO at all. Nowadays is a bit different. And do our SEOs and PPC experts more likely to use the same landing page?
Navah: I have so many feelings about this. I really feel like I should go last.
David: Who wants to go first then?
Nadia: Maybe I’ll go first with that. I mean, if there are different, let’s say… It’s possible to have different landing pages, but when there is, like, let’s say distinct content between each page. So, if the keywords are very close together, then why to create a new page to talk about this specific content while the content is very close together? So, it depends on the case. Sometimes yes, it justifies having different pages, and sometimes, no, we don’t need that.
David: So, what about, for example, quality score? Is that still an important thing and did that not look at things like links within the page? And if it was an orphan page then that might reduce quality score.
Becky: Navah, you [crosstalk 00:35:52.560].
Navah: You go, Becky.
Becky: No, you’re probably better at this from a more detailed perspective.
Navah: All right. So, a couple of things. Quality score looks at landing page experience more than it looks at interlinking. So, if we’re worried about interlinking, like, that’s… Don’t worry about interlinking. The core of how to think about PPC landing pages is, does the page enable the user to convert? A lot of times, we PPCs will get frustrated with SEOs for better or for worse because by the nature of what SEO is, it has to have rich authoritative content to help it rank. Sometimes that sheer amount of content, especially if it’s laid out in a way that gets in the way of the call to action can be annoying to us, and we’re pesky and we’re like, “We want what we want and we wanna be able to test things.”
Nadia actually makes a point that I make all the time on the paid side. You do not need a lot of landing pages. You need a page that can prove its ability to get the user to convert. So, if you are going to test landing page design, that typically means that you have the page as noindex, nofollow, and it might either be on a subdomain of the main domain. And so, that whole thing is noindex, nofollow and it still has access to the ad bot to crawl it for quality score. So, that’s the bit that matters is that the ad bot can crawl it and see that you’re not hiding anything or what you promised on the page is gonna actually be there.
If you’re going to keep it on the same page or on the same domain, a few things need to be true. Number one, there cannot be any redirects. That will get the ad suspended. Number two, you need to make sure that the ad or the ad bot can crawl it for quality score purposes. Again, interlinking does not matter. Like, we don’t care. We care that if it’s a product page, it’s in stock. You should, too, because if you start getting the schema that it’s out of stock, that’s gonna be very sad for you because it’s gonna start getting de-indexed.
The other thing that’s actually very, very, very, very, very important is that you’re building out your paid campaigns for objectives, not sheer landing pages. So, yes, you might have that templated approach and you’re testing those things. During Google Marketing Live, there’s a new conversion tag or really container that’s supposed to help with page speed. So, hopefully, the SEOs in the room will not be sad at us when we ask, “Please, can we have our conversion tracking?” If you’re using Analytics actions, you ideally have that all sorted. If you’re using native conversion tracking, you’re using enhanced conversions, but yeah, I’m team subdomain so that we don’t have to have the compromising conversations where we can just have it noindex, nofollow as a subdomain, you have no navigation bar, you have your page.
And then the main domain is SEO happiness. But if you do need to keep it on the same domain like your e-commerce, and you’re not gonna create a whole separate other site, just make sure that you’re working in lockstep PPC and SEO so that there are no redirects, everything is in stock, and you’re not getting in the way of the path to conversion with those walls of text. And there’s my rant.
David: Becky, do you sit in…
Navah: And that’s why I wanted to go last.
David: No, that’s good. I was just gonna ask Becky. Becky, do you sit in team subdomain as well?
Becky: I sit a little bit on the fence from a cop-out point of view in that it really does… It depends. So, I guess back to what Nadia was saying that it depends on what the aim is. So, I think for those further down the funnel terms where we’re ready to convert someone, 100%. If we can get them up to the page without a navigation and it’s just literally do this, customer follow this through, it makes sense. But if we’re higher up the funnel and it’s more display advertising and there’s different reasons going on, then it might not make sense. So, all of it comes back to…coming back to who the user is, what are their motivations? And really answering that question, if they were to click on this ad, what do they want and need to see? And making sure we supply that and making sure that if it is an SEO page, as Navah said, that we’re not bombarding them with all of our lovely SEO content that maybe is a bit too much. So, it’s compromised and it’s come back to user first. Make sure that we’re following what they want, and then we tend to also be following what Google and the different platforms want as well.
David: Well, there’s just time for a final question. So, I’ll ask a final question, and then after each of you answers, if you could possibly just share your contact details, where people can find out more about you online or follow you on social media, whatever you want to share, that’s great. So, the final question. So, this can be either from an SEO or PPC perspective. What’s the most important thing that either an SEO can learn from a PPC expert or a PPC expert can learn from an SEO? Who’d like to go first for that one?
Becky: No one’s taking it. I’ll go. I think it is just that we’re both trying to do the same thing and that we both should be focusing from user first. So, it’s actually not my channel is the best. It’s what is best for the user and it really is having those open conversations and trying to remove yourself out of your channel and your own personal biases around what’s great and looking at it from a customer point of view, and remembering the fact that your customer doesn’t care what channels you market on. They just care that you’re there to be found at the right time when they’ve got the intent and the need for what it is you’re selling. So, yeah, that again feels like a cop-out on the fence answer, but that’s me.
David: And where can people find you, Becky?
Becky: Find me on LinkedIn is probably the best place or @BeckyReflect on Twitter. So, yeah.
David: Superb. Well, thanks for joining us. And Nadia, shall we go with you next? What’s your thoughts on that one? What can either an SEO learn from a PPC or PPC learn from an SEO? What’s the most important thing?
Nadia: I think I would need some more time to reflect on it, but to answer that short, I think PPC is very much concerned with conversions. When it comes to the page copy, I like to look always at the page copy from a PPC perspective and to apply always the best conversion practices on the page because I find it always useful direct to the point. For me, it’s always the exercise of collaboration and exchange because sometimes, yeah, it’s case-by-case, and then having the other perspective always is useful. And just, like, not to be fixated on one perspective, to be really inclusive of different angles. And finally, it’s always great to look at the performance of what the PPC work is doing. So, it’s always great to collaborate together.
David: And where can people find you, Nadia?
Nadia: So, best on LinkedIn, Nadia Mojahed, or yeah, seotransformer.com as well. So, my contacts are there.
David: Superb stuff. And Navah.
Navah: So, 100% agree, share, collaborate. One of the things I think not enough folks do is look at CRO as a really useful bridger between PPC and SEO. The more campaigns, the more brands that build CRO or conversion rate optimization into how they think about it from a technical standpoint, from a creative standpoint, the better the campaigns perform. So, if you do not have someone that looks at both and distills that data down, shares it, definitely need to look there.
Build in wild and crazy time. Have 15 minutes that are unmovable on your calendar to collaborate with the PPCs and the SEOs. And just know that we’re all human and we all are trying to drive sales, and profit, and happiness for the brands we serve. And we’re all in this together. And if it’s a technical faux pas, let’s find a way to mitigate that and to overcome it in a way that’s that much more innovative. If it’s a creative opportunity, like, let’s figure out which is the best channel to scale it. Just know that we’re not enemies. We’re empowering buddies, and it’s all good things.
And to preemptively answer your question, you can find me also on LinkedIn, Navah Hopkins. You can also check out my site, navahhopkins.com, where I offer consulting, speaking engagements. As I mentioned, I’m the “Ask the PPC” on Search Engine Journal. You can submit questions there, or find me on Twitter, @navahf, and I’m always happy to chat about literally anything, whether it’s digital marketing, “Star Wars,” puppies. The world is your oyster.
David: Building wild and crazy times. Love it. Great advice there from everyone. Superb panel discussion today. Much appreciated. We have this every single month, not just about SEO and PPC and how things can be more collaborative between different marketing channels. Next month’s discussion is on “How to Keep your SEO Clients Happy.” That will be happening on Monday the 18th of June. We’ve already got two great guests for that one, Jake Gauntley from Reprise Digital and Olga Tsimaraki. Sorry, I got that surname… There’s a bit of a challenge there, but from Zima Media. So, a couple of great guests. We’re gonna have another one on there as well. “How to Keep your SEO Clients Happy,” Monday the 18th of June. Sign up at theknowledgepanelshow.com to watch that one live. We will hopefully have Dixon joining us for that one and hosting that one.
In the meantime, Navah, Becky, Nadia, thank you so much for joining us live. Great episode. Much appreciated.
Navah: Cheers, guys.
Becky: Thank you.
Is doing SEO in Spain any different to doing SEO in English-speaking countries? In this episode of the Knowledge Panel, we explore whether you should be aware of any differences if you want your website to be riding the top of the SERPs in Spain.
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Dixon: Another Knowledge Panel Show episode twenty-three and today we are talking about the differences between Seo and Spanish and Spanish SEO versus SEO in English and once again we have a fantastic class with us, and I think it is best for them to introduce themselves. Guys thank you very much for coming along why don’t we start with your monsieur why don’t you introduce yourself say hello who are you and where do you come from?
Montse: Hello everyone my name is Montse Cano, and I am an international digital marketing person I have been doing SEO since done for donkey’s years now I am mostly in Spain, the UK France and now in Latin as well and I am very happy to be here with you all.
Dixon: And it is great to have you on, thank you very much for coming on it has been too long for us to get you on the show to be honest with you so thanks for coming on Gemma why don’t you tell everybody about who you are and where do you come from?
Gemma: Yes sure, Hi I am Gemma Fontané a Seo consultant from Barcelona, I do international Seo for different clients, and I also have a small website that I sell Catalan Christmas products here in Spain and Catalonia but also around the world mainly in the U.S. and the U.K.
Dixon: Brilliant that is okay, so we got we got a whole Catalan versus the rest of Spanish conversation let us go political, so I will just stay up clear of that one. Felipe tells us about yourself where are you, where you come from?
Filipa: Hello everyone so my name is Felipe I am actually originally from Portugal, but I have been living in Spain for the past five six years now I got into the world of Seo a bit through copywriting and now I have been a Seo Specialist full time since like 2018-2019 and yes that is pretty much it.
Dixon: Excellent thanks very much for coming on Felipe and finally last but not least Adelina.
Adelina: Hi everyone Thank you so much for having me I’m really glad to share this space with you guys, so yeah my name is Adelina I’m a Seo specialist, I’m specialized in content I came to Seo through copywriting as Filipa, I’m Romanian but I’ve been living in Malaga for the last 15 years so yeah I’m more Spanish and thank you for having me here.
Dixon: Ah you know you’re very welcome it is great we got a very international Spanish crew which is good and so lastly last but not least, I would like to bring in my producer and make sure that I have covered all the things I am supposed to cover, David, how are you?
David: Very good indeed, I just want to say Dixon quickly to anyone that’s listening on apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, please come and interact with us live next time if you can just go to the knowledge panel show dot com sign up and watch us live and hopefully you can interact and ask a few questions and enjoy the next episode I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen in the next episode towards the end of this one.
Dixon: Brilliant thanks so much guys so let’s jump in straight away and start talking about Spanish and Spanish versus British or English-speaking SEO and let’s get to the root of the Spanish themselves the you know the country of Spain you guys strike me and I mean this in the most positive sense as um adventurers you know i mean all through history we’ve had the uh had you guys you know going with this against you know looking out for South America finding the world, traveling the world do you think that the spirit of adventure is something that goes into a Spanish approach to SEO or have I completely misread everything for the past 200 years who wants to go with that one first.
Gemma: I can go I think I believe that the Spanish Seo market it’s kind of wild I mean yes it’s I mean we are very different from one country to another and also in the same country so it’s kind of different while but also interesting because this difference it’s interesting and you need to learn different things in every in every place so I think it’s great.
Dixon: So, do you think that Spanish seos take risks or Do you think that they are you know conservative there’s nods coming through but for those on podcasts I cannot see that, so you know Adelina.
Adelina: Yeah well, for me the Seo here in Spain is an adventurous one yeah but it really depends on the company, I mean it goes with the soul of the company there are some companies that maybe are starting to use Seo but they don’t really know very much about it so they stop start with baby steps but those who already know what Seo is about they are just like let’s try this let’s try we copy the United States a lot it’s like we drink from them right so we see what other people do and we try to implement that and make it better in some ways see what we can improve and yeah for me Seo in Spain it’s really adventurous.
Dixon: Yes, want to see, Filipa anything to add on to those.
Filipa: I mean yes, I think definitely SEO is about trial and error, so you know you got to be a little bit adventurous, and I definitely think Spanish Seo is growing a lot lately and there is a lot of potential, so I will definitely say adventurous yes.
Dixon: Yes, it is good want to see same thoughts.
Montse: Yeah sure I agree a hundred percent with my colleagues here I do believe that the Seos in Spain are actually quite adventurous particularly now that we are actually seeing what is happening or has been happening in other countries and I think we tend to look into what has been happening and implement it in Spain as well as Adelina says it really depends on the company that you are or the clients that you’re working with at that this moment in time because it really depends sorry I have said it depends but it really depends.
Dixon: Yes, you said it in context I will let you off that one let you off that one that is okay.
Montse: Thank you.
Dixon: It’s my pet hate guys is the defense so I mean I must admit from in Lincoln’s point of view so I should have said the show is sponsored by end links and advert to win links there but from in Lincoln’s point of view we launched in Spanish as our third language so after English and French went straight to Spanish and the uptake has been pretty good and it’s um it’s interesting because it’s you know entity Seo and the stuff that we do isn’t you know the most common type of Seo i think people are kind of getting there so from what we see the Spanish giving it a try and that’s really good so let’s go into the Spanish market a little bit then and I know that you know Spanish is not just spoken in Spain it’s taken in Mexico it’s spoken you know halfway around the world and loads of different places and quite a lot in America even so but we have this question in in in English you know if you’ve got a generic English speaking website and it doesn’t really matter where your customers come from or you don’t think it matters where your customer has gone from there’s always a question do you optimize using Google’s using the U.S. results or using the U.K. results you know um does that question arise in the Spanish market or is every customer always focused on a particular market you know and which one would you go for if you were just I don’t know if you just had a Spanish dictionary that you were trying to optimize for example you know where would you be using your rank checking software wherever that might be who wants to jump in with that do you want to jump in Muncie.
Montse: I do believe that in this case we would normally go for the Spanish market in the first place I think I mean if we if we take both the Latin countries cloud and markets and the Spanish market we would go for the Spanish market in the first place um unless the ethos or the products are going to be directed or aimed at Latin countries definitely but there is there has there has been a huge trend over the last few years to also optimize and optimize for Latin countries because that that means a wide a wider market and also with a wider customer base so people have been trying that for quite some time and I have to say it has been working quite well for from what I have been reading because one of the things with the Spanish seos is that although there’s very good content marketers etc. I think we are a lot bigger with technical Seo so things like hr flank etcetera etcetera is something that we tend to like to use, and I think internal internationalization has been providing us with this particular.
Dixon: Because I find it interesting that you say that you go for Spanish first and I wonder if that’s universal across all four of you because as you say there’s a lot more people in Mexico than there are in in Spain so you know doesn’t that mean that you’re going to get more clicks and more customers from Mexico anyone else want to argue about Filipa.
Filipa: Yes so from my experience I’ve been working in Seo in Spanish only in Spain so I’ve been targeting only Spain and for example when we are working in an e-commerce we do get a lot of traffic from Latin America for example but then that traffic does not convert so the question that I often get is why do we have so much traffic and we do not have many conversions because there’s a lot of traffic coming from the outside of Spain and of course that is often something that I need to explain something that needs to be taken into consideration but I guess that if I was to optimize something in Spanish I would probably target maybe Latin America because I feel like there is a whole new world to explore there is a lot of traffic coming from there even though sometimes I do target Spain and still we often get a lot of traffic from there so yeah.
Dixon: Okay cool excellent I mean if Jeremy do you want to jump in, I will show you or.
Gemma: Well no I just want to add that maybe it depends a lot on the sector too for example in Spanish in Spain the commerce sector it’s like a lot very high a lot of people are buying online however I also work with b2b companies and there we have like more market in Mexico, Chile, countries from Latin so it’s also maybe e-commerce sector in Spain is bigger so I will go for e-commerce in Spain but maybe in a time uh p2p services are at an opportunity too.
Adelina: Yeah that’s exactly what happened to me we started with the b2b project here in Spain everything was going good but it went pretty well in Argentina we launched first in Argentina and then Mexico and Venezuela and the product just took off you know it was crazy so uh I would start with I think we started with Spain just because the startup was Spanish.
Dixon: I suppose if you get it right in Spanish in Spain, you’re going to get it right the rest of the rest of the world over well we’ve got a much better chance anyway so that’s good so I got a question in from Andrews actually who’s asked us when we speak about the Spanish Seo market what would you say the content must be would it be customer orientated or product orientated so Eli Schwartz has written a book product led Seo and he’s looking at you know really focusing on the on the product another school of thought is you know always focus on the custom or Google’s case of course there’s overlaps between those two those two things but do you have a pr a tendency to go one way or another who wants to jump in there.
Montse: I can go first um yeah in my in my case I always go I will just go customer face customer centers to me to me they are they are the ones who are actually going to do the conversions for the ones who are actually going to click on the products and then and then buy obviously the content that you’re writing needs to be descriptive of the product and you need to be in it needs to be absolutely actual as well so that people can understand so potential users can understand what exactly it is that they are buying and so in that case I guess I would say is product-led product centered but at the end of the day the customers are the ones who are going to buy although I do understand this this this school of thought as well that you mentioned I appreciate it.
Adelina: Yeah I’m going to jump in with monsieur’s opinion um and I’m a content Seo so for me it’s customer first but you need to let your product be known to the world so you have to treat your product with a lot of pamper you know the same you are treating your customer you have to treat your product I think it’s a both way situation and for me is the a mix of both of them but eventually maybe 60 for the customer and 40 for the product more or less.
Dixon: Okay Gemma, Filipa had any thoughts on that you go with them you are going with the majority.
Filipa: Yes, I definitely I agree i would say customer first but as Adelina said it is a mix of both, but I would tend to go more to the costumer side let us say yes but I agree with everything they said.
Dixon: Okay no dissent then and no descent from you Gemma either right okay we’ll go with the customer that’s pretty universal opinion there so that’s good I mean that said and I’m going to because it sounds like Eli Schwartz has got a really interesting book called product led Seo and I think what’s really interesting about thinking about it from the point of view of a product is that you don’t assume that every customer is going to be your customer and I think that’s a useful lesson for Seos to understand because it differentiates yourselves from the rest of the world you know Donald trump’s a great example I know he’s nothing to do with Spain, thank goodness for you but you know I think this idea that you know he has decided there you go product Seo shown on the screen for those that are we’re on the live webinar it won’t be in the podcast and you can get my book entity Seo as well okay thank you David okay we’ll cut that out of the other side but yeah I think that power to differentiate yourself against your competition is very important for Seo increasingly important because everything’s so the same now so that’s kind of why my uh where I think the product led Seo probably has a value in here okay so uh right is it the Spanish market I mean as developed as the English-speaking market in terms of Seo uh and you know Adeline you kind of suggested that you kind of the Spanish market sort of takes what the Americans have done and copies it which is kind of what the U.K. do but we kind of get there within weeks and maybe it takes a few more months or a while for the Spanish to catch on to the ideas I don’t know but it is a Spanish market as developed as English-speaking markets from the point of view of the Seos and also from the point of view of the customers so the S the people that you’re selling your Seo services to do you think there’s a difference there a disconnect there between you know the Seo’s abilities and the customers understanding I go Adelina because you started with the with the comment that you copy what the Americans do.
Adelina: Yeah like we do copy some of the things we do watch Americans a lot and try to improve what they are doing but I think we also have amazing professional people here in Spain and I think the Spain market maybe has started a bit you know um later than the American one but I think the Spanish market is coming to the same point so it’s true that we do watch the Americans and we do see a lot what they are doing and I think they have a lot of new ideas but I also think that we are getting to that point as well so for me is a market that has achieved to develop in a great way even though it started a bit later.
Dixon: And what about the customers Gemma are they keeping up.
Gemma: I mean the customers are so much different in English markets than in Spanish market for example well you can see it with online Selling like it’s so much different here than in the U.S. people are not so used to buy or online although alright in Spain it’s increasing a lot customers are different it’s yeah I mean it’s so different we buy in other marketplaces for example we buy in amazon here in Spain and for example in Latin America libra is the most popular one so it’s like we are getting there but maybe we are getting there different.
Dixon: oh, hey Filipa anything to add in there.
Filipa: I am not sure if Mike could disagree oh sorry.
Dixon: Yes, go on I continue Filipa we will get myself.
Filipa: I am not sure if my colleagues agree with me, but I do have the feeling that maybe the link building field and it’s still a bit I still see some dodgy practices sometimes such as like you know private blog networks and stuff like that in the Spanish market that perhaps it’s not so common in the English-speaking market.
Dixon: It is not still remarkably common in the English market.
Filipa: Yeah, I am not sure but yes, I do feel that it is still a practice, and it is like you know well I do not agree with it but yes.
Dixon: There you go yes let us see you want to dive in.
Montse: Yeah I just wanted to say that I think most in this market in the Spanish market and also in the nation we are basically catching up just playing catching up simply because we started a bit later but I think Seo from a professional perspective I think has increased and has developed greatly over the last 10, 15 years so it’s not like we are lagging behind a lot not anything and in fact I think there is I think most of the Seo stuff that we have would actually be known for here is mostly technical Seo although like I said before there are plenty of great content marketers in here as well an affiliate I think it’s mostly I don’t know whether Geremiah agrees with me or not it’s mostly technically Seos and but I think I don’t really think we are lagging too much behind not anything at all and study practices my goodness everywhere every day all the time you can you can even smell them it’s so easy in terms of marketers in terms of marketers also real monsters in the market.
Dixon: Yes, continue yes in case it has gone it is about just going.
Montse: In terms of the customers I think that has taken a longer time yeah a longer time to catch up I think our habits have shifted greatly just like everywhere else in the world but I think the maturity digital maturity in Spanish markets or Spanish-speaking markets are a lot it’s a lot less mature so to speak than in other in other countries particularly the English-speaking ones and I have had some recent experience with a lot some country a Latin-American country where it was very interesting but it was so difficult to do people researching there in this particular one it was all it was for an e-commerce and I can tell you I was so surprised to find out that keywords such as buy this purchase that etc. etc. you just wouldn’t find them.
Dixon: Just giving me a really good chance to talk about the fact that InLinks is about to come out with a topic-based keyword research tool so it’ll be language agnostic so we’ll just going to throw that in there should be out by the end of the month I hope I’m going to get shot now for Fred because it’s probably not ready but anyway but I think you make an interesting point about the fact that both you and you and Adelina made the point that you know maybe in the past you know Spain was a bit far further behind but it’s caught up quite quickly and I remember a lecture lecturer a Swedish lecturer 25 years ago when the internet was I’d say fairly young my wife came home one day and said I’ve just heard this lecture I bought it on a tape literally on one of those tapes with reels and uh and we played it in the car for probably about five years and he was talking about things that he called techno-economic parity which so he was 25 years ago he was saying right okay maybe now you know America’s really doing well on you know in search and all this other stuff but you know all these other countries around the world are going to catch up and when the infrastructure catches up all of a sudden it you know somebody in India or Spain or France or anywhere else can learn just as quickly as anyone else and once you take away that that barrier to entry then of course everyone’s going to catch up you know pretty quickly and it seems to be seems to be happening now unfortunately we’re still an unequal society around the world so the rest of equality hasn’t evened up but it does appear that you know there is some benefits to the rest of the world now of being able to catch up technically on those things now so let’s uh let’s talk about links someone mentioned links but we might have some bias group here but here’s a question content links will tech Seo what’s Spain what are the Spanish like content links will take Seo or something else I’ll go in with Gemma there.
Gemma: Yeah, sure I mean which one I think that all of them but it depends a lot on if you are working on an agency or not because here it’s not so much developed like everything so differentiated for my point of bill and it’s like everybody’s working everything but maybe in a separate way in in some cases especially in the smaller agencies so it’s like lynx it’s a whole world I mean I think most of us don’t know how to do it or how it is or maybe we do it in in our way like most journalists don’t know about Seo I mean I’ve worked in a newspaper and they don’t know what Seo is so it’s like maybe you don’t even get a link and.
Dixon: Just like just buy some journalists and bribe it.
Gemma: but uh the big newspapers they obviously they know everything but it just we are getting there and, but it is like a little bit of everything, and it depends on a lot uh about the sector and if you are a big company or not, I do not know yes.
Dixon: So, i mean I know Muncie’s very much you know technical I would call you a technical Seo monsieur would you say that the Spanish market are technically adept.
Montse: Yeah no definitely it’s not and it’s not a question of whether we are or not is whether is whether there are more or the number of people that we were talking about the number of people who might be more technically adept because the fact is that we as started I’m sorry I’m really nervous but the fact that we started late means that there are less people or there might be less people than in other countries in other markets who are doing technology or content Seo or whatever technical marketing yeah so but this pain definitely has great technical Seos and great Seo generally speaking is just that we don’t tend to advertise ourselves too much and it’s not just the English language just we don’t we are not geared we are just not good at advertising ourselves so this is the reason why there are a few tools such as key trends or etc. that are very good for Seos as well uh keyword Clusterization etc. etc. .they are very good they are they are made here in Spain and i don’t think that many people do know them everybody knows I’m rushed everybody knows on crawl because they’ve got this very big infrastructure behind them which is what exactly what they need to do but we are not that very good at advertising ourselves and therefore perhaps we are less known for that but there’s plenty of people in here who can actually do a very good job in terms of technical Seo definitely.
Dixon: Adelina and Filipa you come from a content background do you so do you see it slightly differently do you see that your content led as a Seos.
Adelina: What I wanted to say on this podcast and I’m going to say it is that I really think that Spanish content is achieving an excellent quality and I think it’s even better than you know the American one that we are speaking about America I think that we are focusing so much in giving the right quality and we are doing uh the customer first and we are doing the we explain everything about the product we let you know how to use it we just pamper it a lot I love that word by the way and I think that leads us to excellent results it happened for me I and that’s why I like this part of the Seo the technical part I love it too I know how to do some of the technical stuff I’m not as pro as many people but for me the content is you know one of the backbones that it has to be worked with a lot of logic behind.
Dixon: And of course, the customer can see that can see the content and understand the content they cannot understand that you’ve just it is speed it is sped up the site.
Adelina: Yeah and the perfect thing is that if you are in love with your product and your workers are in love with your product uh the customer knows that it’s really easy to see when you have you know stuffed keywords or just writing because you are writing and when you do it because you love what you’re writing about.
Dixon: So that’s interesting and Filipa you are content led as well so are you going to go for the content as the strength of the Spanish Seo industry.
Filipa: I would say so I mean I really like the three of them you know technical link building and content but probably I would say content I also believe that there is a bit of a perception sometimes in Spain that Seo is just content and it’s like okay it is important but we also need to have the other stuff into consideration but yeah I would probably choose content it’s something that I really like and it can be very challenging in Spanish as well because you know many words are gendered and in English we do not have that so it’s quite different we use a lot of prepositions I think it’s definitely more challenging to write in Spanish than in English in that in that way but yeah I would go I’ll go for content I’ll say like they say content is king so I’ll leave it like that.
Dixon: It’s probably more difficult for us to understand the entities on there as well so but yes well while we’re there then Filipa what about budgets in Spanish I mean I don’t know if you’ve got customers with it with English budgets and English-speaking customers and then Spanish-speaking customers but is there a difference in the price expectations that Spanish may have Filipa but what’s your experience you know how much okay but no one’s going to answer that one.
Filipa: I would say that uh the English-speaking markets are more willing to actually pay for a service and the Spanish-speaking markets are way more skeptical well skipped yes that’s the word I’m looking for I would definitely say that and then because also Seo you know it takes time it’s not something that you can see immediately so it is often taken as something that is it really going to work and I think that people are not in general are not willing to invest as much as in the English-speaking markets definitely.
Dixon: Is that the view around I saw monsieur wagging nodding ahead viciously there when you know Spanish do not want to spend any money is that right.
Montse: it’s vastly different from other countries it really is but I think it really it really is partly because of what Filipa was saying a few minutes ago about contents because the expectation is about content and nothing else and it really is not that there’s a lot of it’s a lot of work that we need to do to educate our customers potential customers as well in terms of what they can expect in terms of Seo etcetera etcetera a lot more than English-speaking countries certainly a lot more than in the U.K. because yeah the expectation is that you either do a lot of technical work technical is here and then I would agree with what joseph was saying a minute ago on the on the comments.
Dixon: Yes, there is a comment in there for anybody on the podcast that joseph came in and said that he feels that this technical Seo is it is the Spanish the Spanish Seo strength I would say yes so there is definitely two points of view on that one, I think.
Montse: but I think at the same time when you talk to clients in Spain what happens is that you are expected to produce content and to add content every day or at least once or twice a week if possible because that that for them is what matters and that’s what they are willing to pay for they are not willing to pay for generally speaking for all the effort that it takes to actually bring that content up um produce that content monitor it etc. etc. I don’t really I still think that there is a lot of a lot of work for us to do because they seem to think that there is a little bit of black magic involved rather than anything else it’s not it’s this is a huge challenge here in Spain and therefore the money comes with it as well.
Dixon: Then Gemma and Adelina then you know if budgets are tight in Spanish even so you kind of what are the things that are important in a pitch to try and get a Spanish company on your books if you’re if you’re trying to pitch to somebody what do you think of the you know the talking points that they expect to see in a in a pitch what’s going to make them splash the cash Gemma.
Gemma: In my case as a freelance they are only focused on revenue I mean they are looking they are looking for making money online because most of the websites are not making so it’s like if you show them like conversions and how that how Seo is going to help their business if you focus Seo with their business goals it’s a good way to make them believe in your in Seo and what is Seo for.
Dixon: It’s not always easy to do though is it to go into the pitch and say hey because you don’t know how profitable or unprofitable their website is before you go in and so you’re given a poison challenge maybe the way to do that is to say well this much traffic if you had to pay for it would cost this much so you can use the ppc kind of comparison thing.
Gemma: Yeah this is one thing but also because sometimes like they’re they are websites that they don’t have any keyword ranked so it’s like if you show the competition if you show them how much traffic the other ones are getting and you educate them a little bit and you show them other examples other projects it’s I mean they can understand you and believe in you and know what’s what save it for I delete anything to add on that.
Adelina: Yeah I really think that this has to do with what we were speaking before about how the market has evolved in a slower way than the professional side because we still have to educate a lot our customer and our clients sometimes like Montse said and they think that we do some kind of black magic like and there you have your keywords ranked you know for me it’s there but when you want to sell something I do the one that you said it’s like if you do this with paid one it’s going it’s going to cost you like double triple or whatever and it works pretty well.
Dixon: So we’re about near the end I just finished by asking Montse mentioned some bunch of Spanish tools so why don’t I finish by asking each of you whether you’ve got one favorite Spanish tool to use in the Spanish market whether it’s Spanish or not is there a favorite tool that you’ve got you don’t have to mention anything so it’s fine that’s they’re just sponsors we don’t really care about them now but you know why don’t I start with you monsieur since you rattled off a few there very quickly what would be your favorite tool that is interesting either Spanish made or Spanish focused.
Montse: I like in links for example.
Dixon: Yes, you did not have to do that but thank you the beer is in the post.
Montse: Cool um one that i have um come across very recently is called key trends which is I told you um to help you with Clusterized work with the clusterization of words.
Montse: So, when you are doing keyword research and you know you need to do the Clusterization is so time consuming this one actually makes it a lot easier it is still in development, but I think is this this is a good idea to take a look at.
Dixon: I am going to have to show you I will show you what we are coming out with next week okay anyone else want to jump in with this favorite tool Gemma.
Gemma: Yeah, I will go well with SEMrush but also here uh the keyword planner of village for me it is great because I can localize.
Dixon: The keyword planner of what.
Gemma: Google ads
Dixon: Oh, Google ads okay.
Gemma: Yes, because it is I mean we have a lot of different languages for example inside of a Spain and this helps you to localize everything and every region, so this is good.
Dixon: Cool, Adelina throwing in.
Adelina: if we are speaking like I have SEMrush is one of my favorites I know I’m super basic but I love it but then if we’re speaking about you know reviewing all the content I have this tool called Grammarly that it’s super simple and it says well in Spanish then as well it does it in Spanish as well yeah and it just works so well to save me a lot of time.
Dixon: I agree I couldn’t live without Grammarly now my typing has got so bad i have so many errors when I do anything that if i didn’t have Grammarly I’d you know people would assume that I’m you know more than dyslexic no I agree with that one but I didn’t know it was available in other languages as well so that’s a new one for me so that’s good Filipa.
Filipa: it is not a Spanish tool but I would say maybe Cistrix I also like it a lot it’s quite good in Spanish and I tend to use it quite a lot as well so yeah that’s the one I would probably mention but actually I don’t know any Spanish tool now from the top of my head to be honest I was thinking about no.
Dixon: No I like the guys as historic because they’ve just got on with their own thing over the last 20 episodes for years and years and years so and they’ve just been getting on with their own thing and they’ve done a very good job I think of being that that product that isn’t for everybody but for the people it’s there for it’s a really good product and people seem to like it that’s good guys thank you ever so much for coming along I really do appreciate it before I just ask you know to say how people can get hold of you if they if they want to I’m going to bring back David to make sure that I’ve covered everything and to find out what’s happening in the next episode David.
David: Yeah indeed great conversation today so thanks so much everyone for taking part I just want to remind you listening you’re watching the knowledgepanelshow.com is where you need to go if you want to be signed up to be alerted when we actually go live next time next month we’re going to be live on Monday the 20th of June at 4 p.m. because and that is a topic on how Seo and ppc can work together we’re already a couple of great people signed up for that one Nava Hopkins and Becky SMS uh plus they’ll probably be another guest for that one as well so remember the knowledgepanelshow.com
Dixon: We should get Gemma back for that since she likes google planner quite so much Seo stuff as well so, but Gemma how do people find you if they want to find out more about you and uh get in touch.
Gemma: Yes, through twitter or LinkedIn with Gemma Fontana and that is all.
Dixon: So, for those who cannot see a screen that’s Gemma with a Gemma and then f-o-n-t-a-n-e acute I do not know how you put an acute in a computer but.
Gemma: You do not need it.
Dixon: You do not need it okay uh Filipa how do people get hold of you.
Filipa: Yes, so if you google me Filipa, Sarah Gaspar my LinkedIn should be the first on the surface.
Dixon: So, I have to do this every time so okay so just for everybody else Filipa is spent with an f i l i p and then Sarah is s-e-r-a and then Gaspar g-a-s-p-a-r I am sure when we do that, we will get you yes okay.
Filipa: Yeah, or on Twitter at if you leave for Gaspar yes.
Dixon: Excellent that’s great Angelina, Adelina sorry well I you can find me on LinkedIn as Adelina Bordeaux with the bum and then I am on twitter as well I am not pretty active, but I will try to be from now on maybe.
Dixon: Again, for the podcast I’m just going to say a d e l i n a b o r d e a it just stops any confusion for anybody listening it that’s great and finally Monty how do we get hold of you well if you’re Gonna talk with a moot mike then we’re never Gonna find out where to find you [Laughter]
Montse: They’d point that one so you can find me on LinkedIn and also on twitter um my name on twitter is my handle is Monsiecano just like you are saying on your screen all um so m-o-n-t-s-c-c-a-n-o or all together.
Dixon: Brilliant guys, thank you ever so much Joseph just came in and said thank you very much as well but It’s been a lovely show really nice to have you guys really appreciate your perspective and thanks very much for coming on the mall at the panel show and for everybody out there in internet land we’ll see you next time.
What are some of the most effective technical SEO quick wins in 2022? That’s what we’re discussing on episode 22 of the Knowledge Panel, with Dixon Jones joined by Kara McClure from Mindshare, Sara Taher from PDFTron and Wilhemina Gilbertson-Davis from B-digitalUK.
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Want to Read Instead? Here is the Transcript.
Dixon: Hello again and welcome to the Knowledge Panel Show, Episode 22 and today is “Technical SEO” and quick wins. As you can see my background here, I’m actually doing the show from North Wales, from Snowdonia instead of my normal location but nevertheless it’s good to see you all. Hope that the internet connection holds up in in Snowdonia. We’ve got a fantastic panel today. Unfortunately, Sara couldn’t make it but I’m not too worried – well, I’m sorry for Sara, she’s caught away for an emergency – but Wilhemina and Kara, we were chatting before the show, and I think we’ve some absolutely incredible experience within the world of technical SEO, so I think we’re going to be in pretty safe hands today. So Wilhemina and Kara, welcome to the Knowledge Panel Show! Why don’t we start off by you guys introducing yourselves. Kara, why don’t you go first, tell us who are you and where do you come from as the show panel host says.
Kara: Cool, thank you and firstly thank you for having me, very honored to be here. So my name is Kara McClure, I’m currently at an agency called Mindshare as SEO account director a lead on a few big clients, Apple being one of my main clients. I think that’s everything.
Dixon: So I think we can’t go, you know, SEO for Apple, that’s pretty cool. Wilhemina, can you beat it?
Wilhemina: I absolutely can’t beat it you. I’m Amina, an SEO specialist at British American Tobacco and I work across the UK and highland accounts.
Dixon: It’s not exactly a small company either, so both of you have got some incredible challenges, both of you, different kinds of technical challenges, I would imagine. We were talking about age restrictions and things like that before we came on the show and you were talking about doing technical SEO in Python and things, Kara, so maybe we’ll come on to some of those ideas but before I do, I want to just bring in my producer, make sure that I have talked about all the things I need to do before we start, say hello and thanks for coming and stopping me from making too many errors, David.
David: The only one thing I want to say is you’re probably listening to the show on Apple podcast on Spotify, come and join us live next time, if that’s you. Just go to theknowledgepanelshow.com, sign up for the next show and hopefully we can see you interacting as part of the live chat for the next show and I’ll tell you more about what the next episode is towards the end of this one.
Dixon: Brilliant. Let’s get into the show and start with question one, which is, if people haven’t got to be got time to be around for the whole show, and we wanted one technical SEO quick win that you wanted people to take away, what would you go for? So one idea that people can go for to take away is a technical SEO quick win and I’ll go with Kara again.
Kara: There’s so much, I guess I would say, the main thing is probably quiet, maybe an old school basic one, is make sure your Google Search Console is configured in the best way possible, because that actually gives you a lot of insight that people kind of overlook sometimes and I think if there’s anything technically wrong with your site, Search Console is going to flag out to you and you’re going to be able to get a bit under the hood and be able to fix certain things so I would say make sure your Google search was configured correctly.
Dixon: So is that really just mostly about setting up the domains? Because the domains you used to be able to have different, I remember with my Majestic days, you had https majestic.com and then en.majestic.com and jp.majestic.com and every single version one under the sun, most of which did nothing but I had to put them all in. Is that still the case or they fixed that now?
Kara: It’s still the case to a certain extent, so you have to still configure it to whether you sit on http or https. Hopefully everyone should be on https now for obvious reasons, so that thing is fine but in terms of the configuration I was more referring to making sure it’s linked to Google Analytics, making sure it’s linked to any other analytics tools that you have, making sure the core web vital stuff is organized in the way that you need it to so if anything is flagged up then you understand it because search console will give you I guess the good visualization of how search engines are looking at you, predominantly Google, right, which is what everybody cares about so I just think if anything technical needs to be flagged before you even get to the fixing search console is one of my go-to’s all the time.
Dixon: OK, good tip. Wilhemina, what’s your one tip for the top of the show?
Wilhemina: One tip… it’s quite a hard one.
Dixon: I think we’ve seem to have lost a connection a little bit there. Is that me or is that Wilhemina?
David: I think it’s Wilhemina.
Kara: Yeah, I’m still here.
Dixon: We seem to have lost Wilhemina. We’ll carry on you and I, Kara, we’ve now got a down to two.
Kara: No pressure.
Dixon: Don’t worry about it, we’ll sort it out in post-production, don’t panic. Let’s carry on with the search console then. Because there’s also a Bing Webmaster Tools as well, which is kind of, you get a lot of people saying: oh, you should check out bing as well as search console, and then I don’t suppose many people do. I mean, do you? Does Apple?
Kara: I do use Bing Search Console, not necessarily for Apple, but I have used it in the past and I think obviously I’m not sure how much people will take note of the market share space particularly because a lot of laptops now that you buy and even from search for smartphones that you buy, some of them come loaded with certain browsers and within those browsers sometimes I know for Microsoft for a time they were giving everyone their laptops loaded with Bing and obviously if you’re loaded with Bing then people are probably just going to use that because people are lazy, right? So people shouldn’t necessarily overlook the other search engines, obviously their market share is obviously minuscule compared to Google but there still is a little bit of market share so I think Bing Webmaster Tools was also another one. I haven’t used it recently, if I’m being perfectly honest, but I have used it in the past and it does give you some good insights as well because I think I with technical SEO I think the main thing that you need to understand is understanding what is happening behind the scenes and webmaster tools or search console is going to tell you that.
Dixon: Excellent. Wilhemina, sorry, you seem to have a crash there, are you back?
Wilhemina: Yeah, mid speech.
Dixon: Nevermind, let’s go again, just jump in and tell us your tip.
Wilhemina: There are so many, but I would say, don’t underestimate the importance of the site map – that would be my tip.
Dixon: I guess on a large site that becomes even more important. I’m just about getting you there, so have you got any particular tools you like to use to generate site maps or are you lucky enough to have a CMS that does it all properly?
Dixon: I can hardly hear you.
Wilhemina: It’s frozen for me.
Kara: I think you’re still there.
Dixon: Yeah, you’re still here but I’ll pass it over to Kara for a bit. Maybe if you can turn off your video settings then we’ll get it all right for the podcast and stuff and that might save some bandwidth and perhaps can go on from there. Kara, do you guys use sitemaps a lot?
Kara: To be honest, when you asked the question, I was toying between search control or sitemaps but I think I’ll still go with search console from the essence of seeing what’s under the hood essentially. With sitemaps I think the good thing about sitemaps is again you’re still telling search engines what’s going on, you’re telling them every single page that you want them to look at, you tell them what they want to index and that kind of thing, and I know we mentioned WordPress before we jumped on live and the one interesting thing I found with WordPress, I haven’t used it recently but from what I understand you have to like use plugins for WordPress to be able to actually generate site maps, whereas obviously if you build it on a different kind of CMS you can auto generate an xml sitemap for example or a html sitemap and I think that’s probably one of the downfalls of WordPress not generating an auto-generated xml sitemap because I think it’s quite important. So I was actually auditing a site the other day and they just didn’t have a sitemap, you just couldn’t find a sitemap anywhere and it’s quite a large website and then I came to find that they were built on WordPress and that’s not obviously great for SEO.
Dixon: OK, but I kind of just I guess pushing back because there’s only two of us now so we’re just gonna have to just disagree, but so many people use WordPress that I would imagine, that the Google’s ability to crawl WordPress is incredibly easy. What advantages does a sitemap have for Google surely it can get through the content pretty easily. Because one of the things about WordPress and plugins is another SEO will tell me, every time we put another plug-in, you put a nail in the coffin of SEO for WordPress, because it just sort of slows the site down, although I suppose a sitemap plug-in wouldn’t necessarily slow a site down very much because it’s just creating an extra page but even so what are the advantages of having the site map do you think?
Kara: I guess WordPress is a bit of a anomaly within the fields but for me personally the advantages of having a site map is again it has a date, it has a time, it has a stamp, you’re literally updating search engines every time you’ve made a change, so using Apple for example whenever they launch new products on their site, which they do often, as I’m sure if anyone’s Apple fan they would know, it’s particularly around September or march when they’re releasing new products, we kind of auto push and submit all the new site maps so all of those URLs can be indexed straight away, and obviously if in fact like Apple is doing that, then you kind of understand how important it is because in the grand scheme of things. For me I think the technical SEO the standpoint is always you’re constantly communicating with the search engine bots and that’s the best way to do it for a technical aspect of making sure things are being indexed. But in saying that you do make a good point in terms obviously Google are good at understanding WordPress sites, calling WordPress facts then I guess it’s more about how well technically built is your website on WordPress so you may not necessarily have to rely on a sitemap. But I guess if you have it, it’s a nice to have.
Dixon: So if you put a sitemap and you miss out a bunch of URLs, does that recruit, does Google just then not bother with those or is it just going to still find those through discovery through cruel discovery and add that into the mix?
Kara: Yeah, I guess it’s not the fact that they wouldn’t bother with it, but it may potentially take them longer to find them. I guess it depends on what signals you’re sending. If you’re sending those of offsite signals and on-page signals then I’m pretty sure that Google will probably notice the euro at some point. Obviously depending on your caller budget, how often your site is crawled, it all depends on a lot of those different things as well. So I wouldn’t necessarily say if your euros aren’t in the site map they won’t necessarily be noticed at some point, but for me I think technical SEO is all about being able to be in control and I think when you have things like search console self properly and site maps you’re able to control a bit more. Of course Google always going to do what they want to do because, let’s be honest, Google don’t like SEOs, but anything that’s going to allow you to be in control, I would say, just get that under your belt just so you can try and influence as much as possible, because the other standpoint is making sure you’ve got strong optimization onsite and offsite, to make sure that your URL is noticed if it hasn’t been submitted through the sitemap.
Dixon: So sitemaps when in days gone by used quite a lot of I could use priorities in sitemaps, I don’t know, I don’t think that’s available now, so sitemaps are all about getting discovered and getting indexed in the first place really, there’s nothing in a site map that can tell you some priority tell a search engine a priority or your preference of one page over another these days. Because they used to be able to give a number between zero and one in the site map was to the priority but I think that was a long time ago but it seemed to never do anything anyway and that’s probably why they took it away. We’ll try one more time with Wilhemina – how are you Wilhemina if you’re online and fine give us a tip and just chat away if we fail again don’t worry about it.
Wilhemina: I don’t know why my internet is working against me today or in this moment actually, but I’m back on, I can hear everyone and I think you can hear me as well.
Dixon: Yeah, but give us a tip. Oh no, not sitemaps, we’ve just done sitemaps while you were off, so we can move on. If you’ve got another thought then we’ll jump on to that one though.
Wilhemina: No, we can move on, I’m happy to move on.
Dixon: That’s all right then. OK, so let’s go on to 404s. Well it kind of moves on from… we’ve lost Wilhemina, I think we’ll probably go without Wilhemina for now.
David: She should be still there, actually, but I just asked her to turn off her camera.
Dixon: OK, that’s great. So let’s go on to the consequences of setting up new site maps, presumably if you’re gonna put up a new sitemap, you’re also gonna in that time take some content down so you’re gonna start ending up with 404s on pages or if you’ve been cleverer about it, 301s, but I suppose with something like Apple, if you’ve got new versions of software or new versions of products, does Apple prefer to remove URLs for redundant products or redundant content or do they like to redirect it and whether that’s Apple’s view or your view. What’s your view, Kara?
Kara: I guess I’ll give my view on this one just because I don’t want to get too into the detail of Apple, because…
Dixon: Sure, I’ll stop querying Apple too much now.
Kara: I can’t share all of Apple’s secrets, but in a general sense I think again with the site maps I guess it depends how you manage it, whether it’s auto generated or whether you manually manage it and I guess also depends on how massive your site is. What I will say, which I think is quite a good tip, is depending how big your website is you should have separate sitemaps for separate parts of your website so you can easily if you understand that you’ve got loads of products, have a product site map, if you’ve got a particular loads of categories, have a category set up, maybe trying to segment it out so if you know that there is going to be an instance where you may decide to take a whole lot of products off your page for example, you can refer straight to the product sitemap and then edit that accordingly. So I would say if it’s manageable to edit the sitemap then yes of course remove them from the sitemap so Google can then in turn remove them from the index. But personally how I generally manage 404s is by redirects, because I think again with the site maps depending on how things are set up, especially if you’re an agency and you’ve got to get free developers and you may not have access to the site map, you might have access to the CMS, you may not have access to certain things, I think redirects is probably one of the still one of the stronger signals to send to Google to say hey this URL used to live here but actually it lives over here now and obviously the difference between a 301 and a 302 so if you know I use Excel as an example, a lot of my clients have been retail like e-commerce and they have sales a lot of the time, so it’s more their page may go down temporarily for sale, so we’d implement a free too, but then if we know that a page is permanently being moved whatever reason then we’d use a free one. But in terms of 404 is more than like you’re going to implement a 301 because it’s an error page and if you know it’s not coming back then you just send that signal and hopefully and what does generally happen is a lot of the authority, depending how long the page has been a 404 for, then you’ll be able to kind of I guess mitigate as much loss as possible, and be able to say for example if the page has been a 404 for two days if you implement a redirect you’re probably not really going to lose out, if it’s been a 404 for like a month there’s probably going to be a lot more that you would have lost so I would say implement redirects as quickly as possible for when it becomes a 404 and just manage that process and I guess just have a clear logical step of understanding whether you want to put a 301 or 302 and just things like that.
Dixon: And is Google Search Console giving you messages when you get 404s?
Kara: Yeah, it does. I guess the only thing that, well, I haven’t unless someone can tell me how, you can’t really set up alerts within Search Console and get notifications so you have to go in there but then it gives you quite a good understanding of server errors so even down to if you do manage your sitemap, if you submitted URLs within the sitemap that are throwing up errors, search console will tell you that. If you have 500 errors it will tell you that. It gives you a lot and that’s why I say search console is good. I think it’s just a good kind of bible to have with technical quick wins because the other side is running loads of crawls and doing that thing which you can do as well but again depending on your site, depending on your server size, depending on your server logs, could slow things down, whereas search control is just always plugged in so it’s an easier thing.
Dixon: Wilhemina, are you there to talk about redirects, how you approach redirects?
Wilhemina: I am here, if you can hear me. In terms of like redirects and how we use them – like Kara was saying, when to basically use them, so people they are permanent redirects again something to use if this is where something is going to be permanently used. Again it depends on where you want to use it, so how do you want to use it, so just like in context and how do you want to use it.
Dixon: I’ve heard from a Googler, I’m not going to say which one, that they’re now treating 301s and 302s is as the same. Firstly, do you think they do, and secondly, do you think they should?
Wilhemina: I don’t think so, no, I don’t think they should be treated as the same thing. I feel like they should be kept separately that the way they are now, also kind of helps again because the whole point of this to kind of like figure out where that page is going, so if it’s a permanent then use it and if it’s not going to permanent then use it to keep those two things separate as well so it gives people that chance to use a separate than combining them both together.
Dixon: Yeah, I agree. Kara, you do think they should be different, they should always be different, there’s a real good reason for them to mean different?
Kara: What do you mean in terms of they should or shouldn’t be different?
Dixon: Well, the Googler was saying, that they effectively will treat a redirector to redirect regardless whether it’s temporary or permanent in for their search engines and I was surprised to hear that, it was a little while back. I was surprised to hear that and I was surprised that somebody else from Google didn’t come down and make that perfectly clear that these are different things and if they’re not different things, why on earth, there’s a good reason for having a temporarily out of stock 302, permanently out of stock 301, there’s good reasons for having different commands and I’m just surprised that Google treats it differently. I suppose from their point of view, all they need to know is whether to show it in the search results or not.
Kara: Yeah. To be honest, I have heard murmurs of that, in terms of it doesn’t actually really matter, you redirect as a redirect, but I’ve always been on the notion of I think it’s still important to set the status code because there are other redirect codes you can have as well there’s a 308 that people don’t really speak about. So me personally I would still do use the logic and the process that I have, which is either 301 or 302 if you know. I think obviously the balance between it is if you don’t know when a URL has come back just put a 301, if you do know that it’s a temporary then put a 302 but I have heard murmurs that it doesn’t necessarily differentiate but there’s nothing to really prove that at the moment. So I guess with most things in SEO to be honest it – I know you don’t want to hear this – but it depends. It does depend because it’s kind of like there’s no black or white, right, wrong. Obviously there’s a lot of things that we all do that are similar that we know not what to do within SEO and there’s some things that we know to do but in that sense it’s like there’s a lot of great areas around a lot of things because Google are never really going to give us a definitive answer because like I said they don’t like SEOs right because they don’t make money out of us. We are the ones to work out how they do what they do so we can manipulate for our client or if we’re in-house or whatever so I still stand firm that I think you should state the status code but I do understand where people are coming from they’re saying doesn’t necessarily matter.
Dixon: Fair enough. All right, let’s move on to duplicate content then. Wilhemina, is that something that you guys have to tackle a lot or you don’t have that problem, two URLs for the same content? I mean large websites must have it just in parameter, must be appearing all over the place. How do you handle or mitigate duplicate content, Wilhemina? You’re on mute. You’re either on mute or dead. Offline. Oh, there we go, there you go.
Wilhemina: So thankfully duplicate content isn’t something that we enter quite a lot. We try to make sure that everything all our content is different from the others. In some cases where I have experienced it, it’s… I don’t know how to really to mitigate it but to basically make sure that even if we do need to have the content in more than one place, they come from different places, we come from different sources if that makes sense?
Dixon: OK, and I guess also Kara did you guys use canonicals at all in content for example?
Kara: Yeah, Interestingly one of my other clients has got an issue at the moment with duplicate content because they’re basically acquiring a lot of content from another website and they don’t have the resource to rewrite the content so they’re essentially copying all the content from another website, totally different domain and one of the things I was discussing is usually I would suggest canonicals but me personally I’ve never had experience of implementing a canonical to a different domain, it’s always within the same domain. So because this is two separate websites, my first reaction is to implement canonical so let Google know that this is the more authoritative page that you should be looking at, but I’m not sure how Google are gonna feel about that because it’s two separate domains, so canonicals is kind of my go-to but I think within duplicate content and this is probably going to sound quite funny but my main thing about how to manage duplicate content is just don’t have it. It’s not very wise to have it, it’s just not best practice, it’s not logical, why would you have, you know… I always kind of refer to SEO as a book sometimes. When you read books you don’t have two pages that’s exactly the same thing because that messes up the story, why would you have that. So how I manage duplicate content is tell my clients don’t do it. But if they do do it then canonicals would be one and then the other is to… Sometimes they have duplicate content and they’re not really sure why they have it, so sometimes you can actually edit content to differentiate it from one another. So I recommend that as well, but yeah I think canonicals are going to be the best way or you can… I’ve done content audits before where I’ve seen OK you may have great content but how many pages do you really need, let’s actually do an audit and maybe archive some of these pages or redirect some of these pages, get rid of some of these pages and then re-optimize some of the other content as well.
Dixon: I see duplicate content happening a lot particularly on WordPress sites where people have put in a post and associated with more than one category and that automatically will create two URLs which are essentially have the same content and there’s ways around that well within WordPress I’m sure you can use plugins to stop that from happening or the best thing to do is not to put one article in two categories. But also recently I’ve been seeing probably not something that large organizations would like but I’ve seen people doing those kind of redirects on the Edge and on Cloudflare and these kind of things, so if all of a sudden a catrice turns up that you don’t that you that’s a sort of a an old category it’ll redirect actually at the DNS level which I’m sure would scare the heck out of some organizations but it’s quite a powerful way to do SEO.
Kara: Yeah, there is that, I guess it depends on the level of duplication and how aggressive, like you said, it would scare people. I guess it depends on how aggressive do you want to go with the duplicate content and that’s why I say my advice is just always just don’t have it because you alleviate a lot of issues. I get it from some standpoint, duplicate content sometimes it’s unavoidable. Again working on some large sites there’s issues where we have I guess a bit of a separate issue but there’ll be like loads of duplicate message descriptions for example because if they sell a mass amount of products but the only differentiation is the color or something they’re not really going to write a different meta description for every single URL just because they’ve got it in blue, red, black, green and yellow.
Dixon: So are you lamenting the Google Search Console dropping the parameter thing? So somewhere in the in Google Search Console you used to be able to say: please ignore any parameters that says color equals or whatever and they’ve dropped that. Is that something you lament or you think they get it right all the time?
Kara: To be honest with that I more rely on robots.txt for things that we want to be ignored or disallowed in the service and to be honest I guess it depends on how the parameters are rendered because some parameters just aren’t rendered in search because they’re quite ugly URLs and they’ve got loads of different characters and that kind of thing so I guess it depends on if you know for a fact that your parameter URLs are being indexed or they’re being rendered in a particular way where people are going to land on them then I would say then fix it but also disallow it in the robot.txt right because with Google doing what they did in search console and to be honest I wasn’t really convinced of how accurate that function in search muscle was anyway. I think for me I like to have a bit thing a bit more succinct and a bit more black and white and I think robots is the better way to go.
Dixon: I find Google ignore so many bits of robots.txt though and it was never an official system really was it, so it’s kind of optional for search engines really so it’s not ideal but we’re SEOs where nothing’s ideal really as you say. It is what it is.
Kara: Exactly. It is what it is and I think we with that going back to my point before saying not what you want to hear but it depends. It’s more so because even down to like meta descriptions, Google are now deciding what meta description they want to put in so you can implement a whole bunch of meta descriptions but actually Google may decide to go on your URL that you’ve written that meta description for and take a chunk of your text that’s on page and they think that’s the best message description.
Dixon: And they’re doing that a lot, they’re doing like 60% of the time or 40 to 60% of the time. I’ve seen a couple of different surveys and things so it’s huge. But when we looked at, when I saw a study, when they were looking at the change that they made, most of the changes were more sense with sensible changes so they were helping the user at the far end but it was a shock to the SEO community when they started changing your content on the fly which kind of I guess it would have been an interesting one to put back to Wilhemina because that might affect, she’s in a regulated industry so are there gonna be occasions where a search engine may inadvertently cause a some especially somebody in a regulated industry to be breaking the law because they legally have to say something in a in the description for example.
Kara: That’s interesting actually because I had the issue with one of my clients and there’s a restriction that they have from a dimensions point of view within particular markets. They have to kind of state the dimensions of the products and that because of Google doing whatever they wanted to do, we would put it in the meta description but it wouldn’t always show, because Google decided to take something else. But I guess, obviously I can’t speak for Wilhemina, but I’m assuming within her industry whatever needs to be put out there, they would have on site anyway so there would be some type of hope that if Google are pulling from on page then it would pull the right thing or at least pull something and that’s why I think being within SEO and I’m not sure if about the latest update the Google mum update which is all very wishy-washy as it always is, I think the more and more updates that come I think from a technical standpoint, it’s about just making sure that your site is technically and technically sound and the most accessible because that’s even though Google are never going to give you the clear answer, that’s exactly what they care about. They care about the user. All of these updates that are coming out, you know the update before was about the product reviews and there’s so much that they’re trying to do just to serve the user and give the user everything that they need without the user working too much or the person who’s googling working too much. I think anything to do with technical thing you just have to make sure your site’s built correctly and you’re able to understand everything that’s going on under the hood so things are accessible for the user and then I guess that kind of crosses over into CRA but that’s a whole separate conversation.
Dixon: Yeah but I think that comes to the heart of philosophy SEO as a potential problem for a search engine in the end, because – hear me out here, because this is old man talking here – but it’s like they’ve given us so many hoops to jump through like making sure that all your images are well tagged and all these things are done right, you’ve got schema on the page or you’ve got things in bullet points and you write the style and what’s starting to happen is that in most markets pages that are not optimized, that were not ever designed to be optimized, are never going to reach the top of the SERPs but the interesting thing for me is that the real authority on any particular subject doesn’t give a flying fig about the SERPs and they’re just going to write about life on Mars or whatever their specialist topic is and if Google doesn’t understand the author of that content or doesn’t know that they’ll never get to show that to the to the people so they’re actually shooting themselves in the foot by telling everybody to do CRO and UX because it’s only the ones that do it, that they show up in the SERPs and therefore you actually suppress the actual authority authoritative content. Is that old man talking or do you think I’ve got something?
Kara: I’m never going to call you “old man”, it’s offensive but no, I wouldn’t say it’s crazy what you’re saying, I think again it goes back to that whole point of it depends, because you’re gonna do depending on what you do, I think a lot of the time and I think the work because a lot of people ask me why do you even do SEO like there’s so much that’s just like it’s a long long-term channel gain, there’s so many factors that can impact things, Google can literally just pull the rug from under your feet any given moment but I think for me it’s about especially from a technical standpoint it’s think of technical SEO as like a house, like the technical SEO is the foundation that people don’t see when they come to your house, the brick work, the electrics, the plumbing, all of that stuff, the stuff that keeps your house structurally going and everyone just cares about the wallpaper, the flooring, the sofa, the TV or whatever but it’s about understanding that within that standpoint of if they are being told to do CRO if they are being told to do stuff like that, I guess it’s similar to how a builder would be told and architect would be told to how to drop a plan for a house because you’re told that to make it accessible. Because at the end of the day, everybody’s website if it’s an e-commerce website or if you make revenue from it, you want people to convert so it’s one thing to make your website discoverable and make sure your website can be indexed in the SERPs and on the first page although there’s a lot of studies now that even second page is the place to be but who knows.
Dixon: Really? OK.
Kara: Yeah, well as in people are getting more… I think searches are getting a little bit more inquisitive with their searches so if they’re searching for something and obviously Google’s changing the setup so much now with there’s so much above the fold, there’s map results, there’s feature snippet results, there’s people also ask results, there’s video results, there’s so much, there’s social media results, there’s knowledge panels, there’s so much stuff that can come into that play and I think people are, some people I guess, I don’t think there’s any stats that have come out about it yet but they probably will because we’ve been having a lot of discussions about it as to whether how far do people scroll now and you know there was that time when Google trialled the scroll where you didn’t even have to click on a page you just didn’t do that, yeah, exactly, you just kept scrolling, you didn’t know what page you were. You could be on page four but you were just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling so within the CRO I think it definitely goes hand in hand and I think I remember doing a project for salvages on conversion like just working with UX a lot more and I was like guys, we should probably work a lot more closely together because we’re the ones focused on bringing all the traffic to your site and you’re the ones focusing on converting people but if the two aren’t matching then it’s not going to work because I can drive a million visits to your site in a week but if you if your navigation is poor then no one’s going to want to convert.
Dixon: Then no one goes from there and I think there’s something, you might have something by saying that people are digging deeper into the search results because I I’ve been surprised recently at a couple of non-SEOs who said: “Oh, I never click on ads, I go straight past the ads”, so there and because Google has put so many ads up there now, you’ve got to consciously scroll down to see anything except for ads and a lot of the time so that puts people in the habit of digging into the results a little bit more so you may well be correct on that. I’d be interested to see those studies, I think. If we find one, we’ll put it in the comments on various podcasts, if we can or put it back on The Knowledge Panel Shows website at least. I just got to finish up I think. I wanted to talk a little bit about crawlers but I don’t think we’ve got time, we’ll actually maybe we’ll because we might have to do some editing because of Willemina technical challenges. So do you use crawlers much yourself, Screaming Frog or Sitebulb or Oncrawl or those kind of things and if so what do you what do you use and what do you like about them?
Kara: It’s probably gonna sound really sad, but I love crawlers because crawlers tell me what I need to know and Screaming Frog I guess is my main day-to-day that I would just call to check some stuff and I think for me I’ve got to the point of using the more advanced features of Screaming Frog that probably people don’t look at, so building regex, building x-paths, extracting a lot of different things that you need from it so Screaming Frog is definitely a go-to for me also use Deepcrawl. Deepcrawl have actually advanced themselves quite a lot and based on when I used to use the tool when I first stepped into the industry it’s definitely come a long way.
Dixon: And they’re really good for large sites, aren’t they? Not a (unintelligible) Screaming Frog for a large site.
Kara: Yeah, so if I want to do a large like a big massive crawl on a on a huge site, I would set the call for Deepcrawl and let it run overnight. If I’m just trying to find something really quickly, I’ll just grab it from Screaming Frog but those are the two tools that I would use and I guess slightly off topic a little bit but I think log file analysis is definitely a big thing that people don’t look into from a technical aspect and within that Botify is probably one of the best tools I’ve seen that do that.
Dixon: What do you find in log files that you don’t find in in web crawlers a lot of those 500 responses properly.
Kara: Yeah, a lot of 500 responses, it’s interesting because the log file analysis I guess it just gives you a more detailed view of how search bots are actually looking at every single thing that happens when it comes to your website crawls or your pages and kind of deciphers and I guess puts it in its own little database of whatever it feels. I think with the log file analysis you’re literally getting I guess deeper into the hood or under the hood of understanding how your website is being treated from a bot perspective and you’re being able to manage 500’s because even with search goings or stuff like that it will flag up 500 errors but I think log file analysis is a lot more real time so if you’ve had some 500 errors they may have and you’ve been flagged up in search console a day or two later whereas with log file analysis it’s a lot I think a log file analysis is a lot more reactive.
Dixon: The problem with a log file analysis on some of the customers that you use, you know, these big people, these Apples and salvages, they’re big files really, there’s an awful lot of data in those files so probably not so easy to go and have a look at last month’s log files.
Kara: No, the log file analysis that I have done has been on smaller sites for sure but it’s good to give that more detailed overview of what is happening because it’s important. But from a caller perspective I’d say Deepcrawl, Screaming Frog, definitely good to understand what’s happening. There are some plugins that people can use with Chrome as well, obviously they’re not exactly crawler plug-ins but they kind of give you top line over if you want to check some stuff and also Chrome Developer Tools – it’s not really a crawler but Chrome Developer Tools does give you some more insight in terms of the back end, the html, you can edit stuff, you can really kind of understand and see and you can change the device and see how things are looking from a responsive view so yeah there’s a lot of good tools out there.
Dixon: So I wanted to finish up with asking a question about how you assess. How you want and how you actually do assess the effects of changes that you make? What kind of feedback loops do you have at your disposal to so right okay we’ve made this change on a server or we’ve added the script here. Do you always have time to assess the change or did you just a lot of the time have it say well let’s fix that so we can just move on?
Kara: No, I do a lot of impact analysis and I guess because some of the work that I do is a lot more technical now so if there’s been a technical release that we fed into particularly and we say that if you do this release then it’s gonna give an SEO benefit of x or whatever, I would give it maybe one to three months, depending what the release is, it depends what impact we’re expecting and then I guess it depends. So I’m trying to think of one that was done recently. If we’ve made a massive update to like message descriptions for example or something we may look at click-through rate, I think for every release you’re going to have to understand what you think the impact should be and then that’s my first point of call but I definitely would say that with anything that I do, there needs to be some poor impact analysis otherwise it’s a bit pointless why are we fixing things.
Dixon: The difficult thing though with that is that it depends on the cadence with which you do releases though, because and of course the cadence with which Google does updates, but because you can make a change and then one to three months later potentially you’ve made a dozen other changes and Google’s done three updates and so does that does that nullify a lot of the impact analysis or is that just part for the course and you’ve got to go with it anyway because there’s no other choice?
Kara: I guess, I mean, if anything’s broken you gotta fix it right and I think it’s about sometimes there are fixes that just need fixing and you’re not necessarily going to see an impact but that if you don’t fix it the consequences will be more detrimental so something’s broken. Say if you’ve got loads of broken pages, it may not necessarily have a massive boost on performance but you just know it’s just bad practice to have broken pages. But if there’s a massive impact of page, let’s take page speed for example. Core web vitals are always going to be a thing, page speed is always going to be a massive thing, especially with the mobile index only and all the focus on mobile and things like that so I think page speed is a is a project that I’m constantly working on and I’m constantly reviewing, okay, cool we’ve done this now what’s the load time now on this page, how many seconds have we, how many seconds have we scratched off or etched off and things like that so yeah I think you just got to kind of do it case-by-case and understand what fixes you’re doing that are going to have an impact and if it does have an impact then it’s about what because I think with all the fixes that I put for you personally we always set a bit of a KPI of understanding what are we trying to achieve with this, there’s no point in suggestion to fix this if we don’t have a KPI and then.
Dixon: So you’ve got something to measure after the event, that’s brilliant. Honestly I know we’ve had some technical challenges on this one but this has been thoroughly interesting and I’d love to talk more and hopefully you don’t mind if I reach out on LinkedIn as well because you’re a very interesting person and if we’re ever at a conference I’d love to buy you a beer or a wine or whatever. David, what’s going on next time on The Knowledge Panel Show?
David: Next time we’re actually back to Mondays, we were broadcasting live on a Wednesday this time because it was bank holiday Monday in the UK and probably many other places around the world as well. So next time it’s going to be Monday the 16th of May. We’re going to be talking about SEO and Spanish versus SEO in English and we’ve got four great guests booked for that one already: Adelina Bordea, Filipa Gaspar, Gemma Fontané and Montserrat Cano. So just go to theknowledgepanelshow.com, sign up to watch that one live – if you can join us live that will be superb.
Dixon: OK and I haven’t spent any time talking about our sponsor, InLinks, so hi InLinks, thanks for being on the show. It’s allright, they can’t sack me, I’m the CEO. Guys see you on the next episode and thank you very much for coming along and Kara again thank you very much.
Kara: No problem, thank you for having me.
Transcript edited on 11th September 2022.
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Jamie: You know what you did.
Dixon: Yes, absolutely. So we got…and it’s really nice to see you guys as well. Joe, why don’t you, for the benefit of the audience, tell everyone who you are and where you come from?
Joe: My name is Joe Hall. I am a technical SEO consultant. I’ve been doing this for way too long. I am from Columbia, South Carolina.
Dixon: And we met 12 years ago, something like that.
Joe: Yeah, something like that. It was in a time when it was much a hazier time for both of us, I think.
Dixon: Yeah. I’d like to say I’ve stopped drinking since then, but you know, there you go.
Joe: Nobody’s perfect. Nobody’s perfect, Dixon.
Dixon: No, I know. I know.
Joe: Except for me. Yeah.
Dixon: Anyways, good to see you again, albeit online. And, Jamie, how are you?
Jamie: Hi, love. I’m doing very well. Yesterday, in Denver, it was 65. It is snowing right now. I am a technical SEO.
Dixon: How did you do that? That’s incredible. That’s just Denver for you, isn’t it?
Jamie: It’s like, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a day. And that’s really where we’re at. There’s actually a lot of the DeepCrawl crew based out of Denver, which is pretty great. I can see my teammates even though we’re all remote. I’m a senior technical SEO with the DeepCrawl group.
Dixon: And I’ve just been told…you told me that you’re coming over to Brighton.
Jamie: Yes, exciting news. Fingers crossed. Ticket isn’t booked yet. But it should be good to go out and see all of you, lovely folks. I haven’t been to an event since a long, long ago, the before times. I’ll be out there.
Dixon: I was going to say, you know, I think I’ve just used my spare free ticket. But DeepCrawl is bound to have loads of tickets, you know, because they’re gonna sponsor everything.
Jamie: Come hang out. Come, be our friends. It’ll be fun.
Dixon: Yeah, absolutely. Good. Well, it would be nice to see you in Brighton, so let’s go. And, Joe, you’re thinking about going to Mexico for DeepSEO.
Joe: I know for certain that I’m speaking at DeepSEO. I don’t know if I will be there.
Joe: It is sort of a hybrid event, I think, but it is in Mexico. The last time I went to Mexico, it’s a really long story, but I’ve had some trouble getting back. And I don’t want to jinx it and do that again. So, yeah, so.
Dixon: We’ve got a few months to try and convince you otherwise then.
Joe: Yeah, exactly, yeah. But I will definitely be speaking there. You know, one way or the other, I’ll be speaking. So, yeah.
Dixon: Excellent. Oh, my friend, Lukasz, is sitting there in the audience as well. So thanks for coming in, Lukasz. I know, in about 30 seconds, you’ll be concentrating on something else, but if you guys want to jump in with any questions or add your 2p, Lukasz, please, do type in the chat, and it’d be great. And of course, this wouldn’t all work without my producer. David, do you want to come in and tell me all the things I should have talked about that I forgot before we start?
David: I just want to mention the fact that many people will be listening to this in Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, but if you’re doing that, come and watch us live. Just sign up at theknowledgepanelshow.com. We’ve got another show coming up next month that I will tell you about towards the end of this one. So if you can watch us live, that’s absolutely wonderful. Then you can interact a little bit, and you can ask your own questions.
Dixon: But didn’t we say that about Flash and it’s gone?
Jamie: Well, 98% of the internet wasn’t using Flash. So let’s counterbalance that expectation.
Dixon: Can you give an example?
Jamie: Hear me out. I’m gonna counter that one, because usually, it’s not Angular’s fault, it’s not React’s fault. It is these 75 marketing pixels. Why do you have all of them? The next time a vendor comes to you and says, “It’s magic. Just plug and play this directly above the opening head tag,” tell them, “Not today.” If your tools…measure the ROI of these third-party tools. They impact your performance. If it’s a blocking script, you are dependent on their response time to be performant. Don’t blame the poor Angular.
Jamie: Render blocking resource. Yeah.
Dixon: And I wonder, you know, why can’t you use that with all those scripts, with all those things? Why can’t you just always use the defer tag?
Dixon: Sure. But if it’s a tracking script, you frankly don’t want it…you know, you don’t want it to load at the expense of the user.
Joe: Well, the other thing too, this is interesting that we’re talking about performance, because, you know, there’s been sort of a breakaway in the performance space where there’s been this debate of whether or not…should you be optimizing for, like, the tool sets, or should you be optimizing for the actual user experience, you know? And you can defer scripts like crazy, and you can even delay scripts and preload scripts, and all that stuff, and get these amazing scores, but it really doesn’t…it can screw things up in some ways. So, like, there’s a method that you can basically delay tracking scripts until user interaction. And when you do that, that’s great, but it could screw up your analytics as well, you know. And so I think it’s just one of those situations where you kind of have to balance the two, you know, and it’s a case-by-case basis, you know. It just depends, I guess, is the right way to say it, you know.
Dixon: I love the cat, Jamie. What’s the cat’s name?
Jamie: He decided yet again to crash the webinar. This is Tank. He is very professional. You can see his tiny little bow tie here, ready for business.
Dixon: Yeah. I do apologize to everybody on the podcast, actually. We might have to edit out the Tank cat thing, so, you know. And Giacomo seems to be very happy that we’ve got a cat involved in the whole thing in the audience there. Okay. So, fair enough, I’ll take your point. So defer tag could also screw up your website. That’s a fair point really. Okay. We’ve got a couple…oh, people are joining in here. Hang on. Lots of comments coming in, most of them about nice kitten, but there we go.
Jamie: Can I tell you the good word? Have you heard the good word about history.pushState APIs? This beautiful thing where you can change the address, give each asset its own beautiful, unique location.
Dixon: Just, yeah, okay. So what is that? How do you do that?
Jamie: So pushState is going to go ahead and update the address bar when you’re doing, like, an infinite scroll, which sounds like, you know, you’re in another piece of content, you’ve been going and going and going, and you’re trying to share it out, but it’s not reflecting the content that you’re on now. This is also a problem people see when they’ve got infinite scroll on their sites. There’s a way to go ahead and update very easily and accept it across all browsers, the address that you’re on.
Dixon: So basically, so when do you use this command, this pushState command? I’m not a programmer.
Jamie: Anytime the content changes, update it.
Joe: But it is up to the developer to do that. I mean, they have to implement that, and I think that that’s a really good, I think, workaround the SEO should, I think, push more when working with sites, you know, that that type of push happens, you know. And that is the preferred method with continuous scroll, you know, sites to update. Although, I think it does it work with rel=next and rel=prev on that kind of thing. Yeah.
Jamie: Anytime they’re changing it.
Joe: Yeah. So, yeah, I mean, that kind of thing is great. I think that, from a usability standpoint, I think that’s what you’re mostly talking about, Dixon. I mean, doing what Jamie is saying, I think, is what Devs should be focusing on, you know, and that needs to be implemented more. We need to talk about that more, I guess.
Dixon: If you’re using an infinite scroll then, I guess I’m just trying to understand really as a simple-minded guy, in this regard at least, and I’m scrolling down an infinite scroll. Does that URL start changing in the address bar as you’re scrolling down?
Jamie: Yeah. That’s how, when you’re on a page, you can, like, go, and you come back, and you can stay where you were.
Jamie: So you clicked a link, and then you wanted to go back to the content you were at instead of being shot to the top, and you’ve been scrolling for 10 minutes, and it’s game over. You’re not going back to that. That infinite scroll lets you go back, or the update of the address bar lets you go back to exactly where you were.
Joe: Yeah. As long as that’s implemented, that works really well. And we need to talk more about that. I think that that’s something that SEOs should talk more about is utilizing that as a workaround for, you know, the URL issue that you’re talking about, you know.
Dixon: So when you do do that, do you think Google is quite happy to then index? Because then, potentially then, you’ve got an infinite number of URLs, I guess. Because if you’ve got a scroll, there’s continually changing numbers as you’re scrolling down. If you then got infinite URLs, which could be argued as duplicate content, do you just change one problem for another?
Jamie: Well, it needs to have an index array. It needs to have a known limit. If you have 100 pages worth of content, don’t let it go ahead and start requesting page 200 or resolving with 200.
Dixon: Yeah. Okay.
Joe: Yeah. And then, also, I mean, that’s just an area where you would just use proper canonicalization, you know, depending on what the content is, depending on what we’re working with here. You might just want to use proper use of canonical tags, you know, in that situation, you know. It just depends on what the content is and what you’re trying to do.
Dixon: Yeah. I mean, on InLinks’s site, I mean, because you just got to go to the home page, and if, you know, you put a URL in, you don’t even have to log into the system. You can put a URL in, and what it does is it reads that page and runs our own natural language or an entity extraction algorithm, and it uses Google’s API and compares the entities that Google sees versus the ones that we see. And my URL hasn’t changed. I can’t show all these reports as a marketing guy. I’d like to just, you know, pimp that out and say, “Hey, look, Google can’t pick up these 300 entities on a page, and it just wasn’t built that way.” And we’re too busy building other stuff now to go [crosstalk 00:16:15].
Jamie: It’s a really low-lift change.
Dixon: Yeah, okay.
Jamie: It’s quite low-lift.
Dixon: I’m going to tell Fred this.
Jamie: For the ROI, being able to share these assets you’ve worked so hard to make, if you build them and no one else can access them, do they count?
Dixon: People have misconceptions about the two different… What is the difference? I’m in the crowd that has misconceptions.
And optimizing for them looks very different, depending on what they are, because some of these are client-side render, which means it’s like an IKEA ship. They send you all the parts, your browser builds it up. Some of them, the server builds it when you request it, and they send it back. So that’s their server-side render. Static, they have a copy ready to go. It’s like, when you go to Voodoo Doughnut, which is a great place here in Denver, and you pick out a very bougie, fancy Portland cream donut. You know, there’s one in display, but there’s also a bunch ready to hand over to you. Optimizing for them looks different, because it depends on how they’re built. If everything is client-side, I’m really sorry. That is a nightmare. Every script that is rendered client-side has a probability of breaking, and you have no insight into when or how it broke. Something could be broken for a fair amount of time, and you have no earthly idea.
But at least for myself and I imagine for many other people, when we do tests like that, we don’t do them at scale, right? So just because it worked on one page when I wrote the script on…
Jamie: It works on my machine.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, exactly. It works on my browser. It worked here. You know, it worked here where, you know, it works this one time that Google indexed the page. But the problem I have, the problem I see a lot of is these pages that have, like, you know, 10,000, 20,000 URLs that are utilizing a client-side render on each page. And if it’s something like, you know, they’re client-side rendering a batch of internal links on every page, well, okay. If just one of those pages has an error during the crawl or maybe even a batch of those pages have an error during the crawl, it can significantly cut down the internal crawl and the internal link equity spread for that crawl. And like Jamie said, if you don’t know how long it’s been like that, then you could significantly be cutting down internal link equity spread as a result of that.
And so it’s one of those situations where I really don’t like client-side rendering for that reason, because I’m worried that there’s all these opportunities for it to break on the search engine side, and it’s gonna significantly hurt you if it does break. And that’s why I’m just kind of always really uneasy about it, even when I see things, like, that work well, because, like, you know, Angular and React, they both have kind of good ways to get around all that. Like, they’ve got different things you can do to implement server-side rendering and whatnot. But it’s still that opportunity for failure can still occur, you know. And so I think that we need to talk about, like, as a community, when we talk about these things, we should say, “Okay, look, like, you can do this, but should you?” you know. And you can implement these tools and whatnot, but here are the risks in doing that, you know, not just saying, “Yes, well, it works, so do it,” you know. I think that’s kind of dangerous for some sites, you know.
Jamie: Well, here’s the thing, yeah, you can, but it’s a probability of failing. Every single one of them is a probability. So a lab test has a set boundary of where it’s running from, how it’s running, what it’s emulating. In the real world, somebody with shoddy cell phone reception walking behind a really blocking building could change how that page loads. And it’s worth noting that there’s four causes of poor LCP. One of them is client-side rendering. This is significant. You are asking that browser to go ahead and assemble everything many times. These users are on mobile. If they’re outside the U.S., data is expensive. And we are shipping so many things that they don’t need. You know, I gave the analogy of, like, client-side rendering is like going and getting a flat-pack bookshelf from IKEA. Well, half the time they ordered a bookshelf, we also sent them half a table set as well. They didn’t need it, it doesn’t function, it has no purpose, but we sent it, and they had to assemble it.
Dixon: I love that analogy.
Jamie: They can be, but here’s the thing, anytime you’re relying on a third-party as code, you also have a security risk, your performance risk. The most performant and secure assets are those you don’t ship. So we tend to do kitchen sink tags on our sites. We keep adding scripts, and adding things, and adding features, and adding functionalities, until it is so absolutely bloated that we are just a dragon with a bunch of Allen wrench keys going, “This is fine.” It’s not how the experience we want to give our users. We can’t just ship all of this off without being considerate of how we’re using their bandwidth. There are options out there where we could do things that split the difference, something like progressive hydration that would let us ship the hero content, which the user is coming for, critical things like meta tags, all of the good bits. And then that secondary, that tertiary content, that can be loaded in the client’s browser. That footer, no one cares about your footer. Like, load that client-side. That’s fine.
Jamie: But it comes to another execution. I’ve been a CRO, and I’ve seen, when you use a global tag, when you block that entire page while you’re waiting for your third party A/B testing platform tool, you are crashing your conversion rate, rather [crosstalk 00:27:08].
Joe: Yeah, sure. That’s a good point.
Jamie: I have that.
Joe: That’s a good point, yeah.
Jamie: So only block what you need. Make that element.
Jamie: Please stop, yeah.
Joe: …that does everything. You know, break those out, but don’t break them out into 10 files. If all 10 files have to load, then you may as well just have one code to the computer, But the problem with that logic is that, you know, some pages need certain functionality and other pages don’t need that functionality, and it’s very difficult for us…well, I say us, for you guys, as the developers, to know in advance which pages, which of them is gonna be needed.
Jamie: There’s tools for that. There’s no way a human can go through and map that out, but there are tools for tree shaking and for code splitting. You can call a webpack in your pipeline, and it goes, “Okay, this page uses this code. I’m gonna ship that.”
Dixon: So how would you go about optimizing that, you know, what script to call, Jamie?
Jamie: I would automate it using a library, like webpack, so it can go ahead and do the code splitting and tree shaking for me. Alternatively, if that’s not an option, let’s look at what’s in that global bin, what are we shipping in every page, and go, “Hmm, some of these only fire on specific templates.” So then we begin to enter that conditional logic Joe mentioned where, you know, if the template is the video player, then we load the script. Look in that global junk drawer.
Dixon: So webpack, I remember Martin Splitt also mentioning webpack, so, you know, that was a good sign. So can you explain webpack a little bit because it sounds like a resource that probably, you know, we should know about?
Dixon: So if I’m a simpleton with a WordPress website…well, sorry, not simpleton. I am a WordPress man so I use my WordPress websites, and I’m sure that I’ve got loads and loads of plugins that are absolutely…well, hopefully, not too many. And I have had people telling me [crosstalk 00:33:09].
Jamie: That’s your junk drawer. It’s time for us to go through and clean that junk drawer.
Dixon: Is there a webpack for SEO, for WordPress? I don’t know. Is there a webpack plugin for WordPress?
Joe: I don’t know. Jamie, is there that you know?
Dixon: Looking it up where we’re going.
Joe: Yeah, I think that’s one thing about WordPress, it’s really easy to make mistakes, because there is so much out there, so much available. I will say, like, I don’t think that if you have a website, you know, a WordPress website that you care about, I would not add plugins without help if you don’t know what you’re doing. And you really need to understand what that plugin is doing and how that plugin works and what the major kind of features are for it. And also, you should only add plugins that are regularly maintained and regularly updated.
Dixon: And I think that’s pretty much, you know, you can have a look at the community behind that plugin really easily before you start.
Joe: Yeah, you can, yeah.
Joe: You absolutely can, yeah.
Jamie: I mean, I could go ahead and release a plugin right now that, like, makes your page faster, and it just puts flame decals on it.
Jamie: There’s not a lot of…
Dixon: Remove the code. Just remove the code, nice white page there.
Jamie: Oh, there’s a great library that’s called thanos.js, and it just snaps half the code off the page. I think it’s the best thing ever. Automatically makes you save more performance, 50% lighter.
Dixon: You’re only allowed to program in 20 lines of code. The whole page will go in 20 lines. That sounds like a good way to force people to optimize.
Joe: That’s true.
Dixon: Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about DOMs and View Source versus Inspect and the differences for people, because another naive thing that I said before I came on is I never use View Source anymore, and you both kind of looked at me and said, “Why wouldn’t you use View Source?” Because I’m always using the Inspect and assuming that I don’t want to use View Source, because I want to see what the rendered code is. Why is View Source in the Chrome as an option when they’ve got Inspect, and what’s the difference anyway for everybody else?
Jamie: It’s part of the pixel pipeline, my friend. If you have a noindex tag in that View Source, it’s never going to get rendered to see the index. So it’s an order of operations. We think of google as this giant monolith. It’s code. Code runs in an order. It starts with viewing the HTTP responses, and it moves through the source. Then, it grabs all the resources and renders.
Dixon: That it didn’t need any of it.
Joe: Yeah, I think so.
Jamie: Oh, absolutely.
So I think what I use View Source for a lot is comparing the two and understanding, “Okay, if there’s something showing up in the rendered version in Chrome tools, and it’s not showing up in the View Source, that means that it’s client-side rendered.” And if that is something that, you know, helps with SEO or as a part of the SEO process, then that should be understood, you know. And it doesn’t mean that the engines are not seeing it. It just means that they’re having to go through an extra layer of work to see it, you know. And so I think that that’s why I use the View Source and the Chrome DevTools, Inspect tools, and stuff like that, to make a difference between the two, you know.
Dixon: Jamie, do you want to jump in on anything of that, or?
When we see that full DOM, we could do something like comparing the output from URL inspector to that which we have in the live page, which you can copy and paste out of URL inspector. They added a fine functionality into the rendered HTML there, and I love it. You can compare that to what you have in your user’s page and see where the gaps are. It’s very useful. It’s important to note, though, when you do a live test, live test bypasses Google’s extremely aggressive cache. They are ignoring your max-age tag because no one used it right, and this is what happens.
Dixon: Okay. So I love your alliteration as you walked through that, but I didn’t get…what’s a specter? What’s my specter?
Jamie: Specter? Inspector.
Dixon: You said specter. Oh, inspector, okay.
Jamie: Inspector. URL inspector.
Dixon: Sorry, okay, okay, sorry. Inspector. Inspector.
Jamie: Yes. I’m now going to call URL inspector Specter. It’s the ghost of a URL’s past.
Dixon: I thought it was something out of James Bond coming through here, yeah. So [crosstalk 00:42:45].
Jamie: Hello, Blofeld.
Joe: Yeah. Yeah. And another thing about the edge SEO that I’ve heard from most SEOs that utilize it is that it makes the SEO process much more manageable for, especially, when you’re working with a company that has a big team, and it’s hard…
Dixon: Sure, it does, However, if you’re the SEO and you go in control of Cloudflare… Rob Watts’ comment. I’ll ask that question in a second. But if you’re in control of Cloudflare, you could really screw up the developers because developers can’t work out why the hell that thing isn’t working.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, like, but it has to be sort of, like, this agreement, you know. I mean, if that team can’t get to your tickets for another six months, then they have to agree to giving you some…
Dixon: Give you a workaround, yeah.
Joe: Yeah, give you a workaround. And I mean, that’s just kind of, like, a simple kind of compromise you make with the Dev team and say, “Look, like, if you can’t give us this in six months, then at least let’s do this instead, and we’ll work with you to keep you informed of everything that we’re doing,” and kind of co-exist in that regard. But, yeah, it is a lot easier for a lot of SEOs that manage enterprise accounts and whatnot to have that level of access, you know.
Dixon: Okay. David, can you bring up that question from Joe…that comment from Rob Watts, and I’ll just read it out for the podcast.
Jamie: That’s a great one. Thanks, Rob.
Dixon: Rob Watts says, “Cloudflare I found, removed html comments which I used to test a little thing once. Took me ages to figure it all out! So, yes, you have to be careful for sure!” That’s kind of interesting.
Jamie: They’re doing modification. They’re cleaning it up so it’s a smaller file. They’re removing unneeded spaces, comments.
Dixon: Yeah, you don’t need comments when you have a code, do you? You know.
Dixon: Like, this comment that says, “Please don’t read this.”
Jamie: Stop logging things in the client’s console.
Dixon: I remember, at PubCon, Brett Tabke used to use comments in the robots.txt file to advertise for job roles. So you know, once you’d started looking at his robots.txt, that’s when you can start applying for jobs at PubCon, so.
Jamie: It’s visibility and awareness into your site’s PEMDAS, if you will.
Dixon: I like that. I mean, I think that pipe thinking order, Jamie, has been my…I mean, it’s pretty obvious when you think about it that, you know, of course, you know, what happens at the DNS level is much more important, ultimately, than what happens at the server level, which is much more important than what happens at the…but they can all wreck your website. It doesn’t really matter, so.
Jamie: I mean, I found a job posting in a header the other day. I thought that was very clever. It was like, “Hi, you found us. Come apply for us.”
David: Sure. Next month, it’s not on the usual Monday. It’s actually on a Wednesday, and that’s because Monday, the 18th, is Easter Monday. So instead, we’re going to be doing it two days after that, on Wednesday, the 20th of April. And that particular subject is going to be technical SEO quick wins. We’ve got a couple of guests booked for that one already we’ve got Wilhemina Gilbertson-Davis from BAT, and we’ve got Cara McClure from Mindshare. So sign up to watch that one live over at theknowledgepanelshow.com.
Dixon: Okay, brilliant.
Joe: All right, cool.
Dixon: And thanks to InLinks for sponsoring this stuff, as always. I’m the CEO of InLinks, so they’re always going to have to sponsor this thing.
Jamie: Thank you for sponsoring you. We appreciate all of your efforts.
Dixon: That’s what you got to say really. Yeah, absolutely. So, guys, just before you go, if people wanted to find you, because clearly, I’ve got two very, very bright people on the panel, where do the people…Joe, how do they go and find you?
Joe: You can find me on Twitter, @joehall. I talk about SEO and hot dogs.
Dixon: And that’s Joe with an E for those who are on podcast.
Joe: Joe with an E H-A-L-L on twitter. And then on LinkedIn. Don’t find me on Facebook. I hate Facebook. I’m there, but I’m not pleasant there. So don’t find me there.
Jamie: I don’t think anybody is pleasant there.
Joe: Yeah. Sure, yeah.
Dixon: I try. I try to be pleasant there. I’m old. I like Facebook.
Joe: I don’t try. I don’t try.
Jamie: I like Twitter because it makes you fall in love with a stranger in 280 characters. Meanwhile, Facebook makes you hate your family, so.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah. Yeah.
Dixon: Yeah. Echo chamber is not good on Twitter. It’s true.
Dixon: Jamie, how about you? Where do people find you?
Jamie: I am on Twitter, @Jammer_Volts, or you can just look for the blue hair. It’s pretty easy to spot me.
Dixon: So, okay. So it’s Jammer, J-A-M-M-E-R…
Jamie: If you’re at Brighton, come, say hi.
Dixon: …underscore Volts, as in electrocute yourself.
Dixon: So, yeah, that’s brilliant. Guys, thank you ever so much for coming on. Really appreciate it. It’s been good. I know we were trying to get Nick on as well, Nick Ranger, but we’ll get her on another show. So we’ll get that sorted. And, guys, thanks very much. And for everyone that’s watching and listening, please come back again soon. Cheers. Bye, guys.
Joe: Bye-bye. Thanks. Bye.
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