I felt this is really important article and wanted to share that among everyone else. All the content is done by WPEngine and only sharing because this resource is really good for everyone else.

At its core, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply any method of making strategic changes to your site that causes it to rise through the rankings on popular search engines like Google. But therein lies the problem: with so many methods you can use to increase site and page rankings, how do you know where to start?

This webinar will help you sort through the crowded world of SEO and find a method that works well for you. 

Hosted by WP Engine VP, Demand Generation John Hessinger, hear from expert panelists as they discuss SEO best practices, lessons they’ve learned in their own SEO work, and strategies for better SEO on WordPress websites!

Experience Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Target Audience: WordPress developers, agencies, freelancers, and consultants

Duration: 60 minutes

In this session, we cover:

  • SEO best practices and why the world of SEO is so important
  • Industry-leading SEO platforms and plugins
  • The current SEO landscape and the future of SEO

Panelists:

  • Host: John Hessinger, VP of Demand Generation, WP Engine
  • Carmen Dominguez, Head of Organic, Hallam
  • Anurag Singhal, Founder and CEO, Quattr Inc
  • Ben Rojas, President, Founder, and Lead Developer, All In One SEO
  • Steffan Kasula, SEO Business Developer Team Lead, Logical Position

Related Resources:

Transcript

LEXI MOSTEK: Alright, webinar attendees. Welcome to our WordPress SEO best practices webinar. My name is Lexi, and I’m just going to be the eyes and ears behind this webinar. And with all that being said, we are so excited to have you here. I’m going to pass it over to John Hessinger from WP Engine that will host this webinar, John, you can take it away.

JOHN HESSINGER: Thank you, Lexi. Thank you, everyone. Welcome, everyone. I’m John Hessinger, VP Of Global Acquisition with WP Engine. We are very excited to host this discussion today, with this exceptional panel of experts before you. It’s awesome to see the global representation here on the call. Thank you for joining everyone. This is clearly a very popular topic. We’re right at about 5,000 registrants for this webinar, which is huge. So first, thank you for taking your time and your day to be with us and spend time on this topic, we know it’s important to you.

With that, I think one of the most valuable things a webinar can provide is a balance of thought leadership, but also practical application that everybody can take something back with them and try it on their own. So hopefully, we’ll get to discover both of those today.

I’ll quickly hit the agenda we’re planning to cover over the next 55 minutes or so.

I’ll give a quick intro about WordPress and SEO overall, we’ll meet the panelists, the experts here with me, and then we’ll actually get into the discussion. We’ll leave some time for Q&A at the end. And so yeah, action packed. There’s a lot of topics to cover here. If you don’t mind hitting the next slide here really quickly. I think this is the extent of the slide where we have today.

If you’re here, you clearly notice that WordPress is in the title. Part of that is, of course, because WP Engine is a WordPress technology company with a wide range of products and solutions that help agencies and brands, design, build, power, and manage their experiences, from developer workflows, our best-in-class hosting, and also specialized solutions around eCommerce and headless builds, but also WordPress out of the box is optimized for SEO.

It makes it simple to maintain and manage things like alt text, meta data, page, hierarchy, and so on.

That said, you can also extend WordPress’ functionality with things like specialized plugins, right, SEO plugins like All in One SEO, which Ben on the panel here represents today WP Super Cache and a lot of others. 

And then by choosing the right hosting partner, you can actually ensure improvements to uptime, site speed, and just a highly performing configuration that’s specific to WordPress.

WordPress sites inherently have an advantage in search results, because the CMS is heavily optimized for it.

Okay with that said, let’s get into introductions. Let’s meet the team and get into the other meat of the discussion. What I’d like to do is ask everyone to introduce yourself and your organization, and as an icebreaker, I’ve asked everyone to provide one actionable sort of go-to SEO recommendation. I’ll kick it off here and be brief. As I mentioned, I’m John Hessinger. I lead global acquisition and channel performance here at WP Engine. I’ve been in some form of marketing, product marketing, mostly in the digital space for ahead of 20+ years now. In a variety of industries globally.

I’m going to stay a little tactical with my recommendation here, but when it comes to SEO, I think one of the most overlooked things is the FAQ schema snippets. It helps people rank for Google’s answer boxes, you know, in the search results you have those “people also ask” expansion topics and flavors like that in the search results, which currently have a lot of prominence in SERP positions now. So that’s me. Let’s get on to the true experts here, the practitioners. Why don’t I pass it over to you, Carmen.

CARMEN DOMINGUEZ: Great. Hello! I love being the first one. Well, actually, the second one. So I’m Carmen, Head of Organic at Hallam. Hallam is an all around global digital agency. We do everything from paid to creative and SEO. And within SEO, I look after content, desktop, PR, social. So everything organic.

I have experience both in agency and in-house, and, in fact, I have worked quite a lot with WordPress, so I feel very happy to get to give some inputs here. And I’ve done international and I have done quite a lot of eCommerce, which are my favorite parts. That’s why I think the best–the first recommendation that I’m going to do is whenever you start in WordPress, start by checking the template that you’re choosing. It seems like when you choose a template you normally get drawn by how cool they are, how many colors it has, how many fancy things you can see. But you forget page speed, and performance. Choosing a template that performs is very important for SEO, obviously. So I would recommend for you to, just before you, go to PageSpeed, check that it is working fine, and then go on, start adding all the plugins, etc. Obviously, that is, if you are just starting in WordPress. If not,the first thing I will always do is just check that everything is working well in Google Search Console, and that your WordPress site is set up for all the things that we’re going to recommend after that. So that would be me.

JH: That’s great advice, I think, it’s so easy to pick the sexiest, most involved template out there. And sometimes that complexity adds a lot of weight, a lot of bloat and features likely go unused overall, right? So that’s, I love that advice. Thanks for that, let’s continue to go toward the right here, Steffan.

STEFFAN KASULA: Well, hello, everybody. Welcome and thanks for having me today. My name is Steffan Kasula. I’m the SEO Business Development Team Lead at Logical Position. Logical Position is an end-to-end marketing agency. We started with paid ads, and we have SEO creative web development. paid social Amazon. So there’s a lot that we’re working with. 

My role with the company is to focus on onboarding and providing digital marketing strategies for any of our new SEO clients. So anyone that is interested in our SEO product is directed my way, and then we try to find the best strategy for them, moving forward. 

I really like this question. Carmen, I really like your answer as well, because I think that’s something that is definitely overlooked. 

One of the things that I have found that seems so simple, and I think sometimes people are looking for the hidden Easter egg with SEO. But I have found that adding category content or adding content to your services pages can be a really easy win and really easy takeaway for most businesses. What I mean by that is just looking at the different services that you offer, or different categories of product that you offer and placing, you know, even if it’s 250 words down at the bottom of the page. Explaining what the page is about and providing those keywords in there. I’ve seen it have a huge impact, and it’s interesting to see now, ever since 2020, when I do shopping, if I go to, Adidas or Nike or Dick’s Sporting Goods, you’ll see that all of these companies are now using that same technique and creating that onsite content because of the impact it does have. That’s not to say that there are other areas that obviously are going to affect your SEO. But I think that’s one overlooked thing that is a very easy or simpler thing, for a business to take on.

JH: That’s awesome. Thank you. Glad you’re here, Steffan. let’s pass it over to Ben.

BEN ROJASAlright, hey everyone. As John said, I’m Ben Rojas from All in One SEO, President Co-founder and Lead Developer, All in one SEO is the original WordPress SEO plugin. So we’ve been doing this for quite some time. I wear a lot of different hats here, but probably my favorite one is just experimenting with SEO. I really love getting down into the weeds and figuring out what works and what doesn’t, so we can pass it on to our customers. That really excites me each and every day. So this is a great question. I love it because, you know, this is kind of the stuff we’re looking for. 

My go to is about FAQs, but I’ll pick another one because you got that one John. I think that internal linking is probably the area that I see overlooked, not as a talking point, because people talk about it all the time, but I see it overlooked as an action point. A lot of people aren’t actually doing the work, because it’s difficult, especially as you have lots and lots of content, to be able to link all of your content together. And so you know, this is an area that I often see and we recommend to our customers. You gotta keep doing that internal linking. We actually have a tool called Link Assistant. It will help you with this. It gives you suggestions, and it also helps point out orphan pages like these pages have no links out or links in. And so you can find those and and link those together and that obviously helps improve your rankings as the search engines begin to understand your site better and understand your content better and be able to piece everything together. So that’s my go-to.

JH: I love it. Yeah, I mean, we all know that information architecture, the tax on that we’re using is super important. But as you produce more and more and more, it gets harder to maintain, and so constantly being aware of that is critical. I love that. Alright, Anurag. 

ANURAG SINGHAL: Hi, everyone. Yeah, thank you, John. This is Anurag. I’m the Founder and CEO of Quattr and Quattr is the ultimate AI proven SEO platform for growth in marketing teams and content teams. Prior to Quattr, I was leading growth and AI teams at realtor.com where I helped them grow the website to our top 50 website by building a stronger organic channel that grew many fold, and that, in fact, became the inspiration for building a better SEO platform that Quattr is to help scale your acquisition from Google. To answer John’s question about the favorite SEO tip, I think that even though there’s a lot of buzz about generative AI, I think the art of prompting is something that we’re all still building, and I would encourage everybody to kind of go deeper into, you know, stronger prompting skills. And there is a prompt for maybe every SEO task you are taking today, even things like, I think you used that John just mentioned, you know, you can develop really good prompting built to auto-generate some of these FAQ questions, or even the answers, or you know, the the internal linking that Ben was just talking about. Good plans can help you generate, if you optimize tasks to use and if you want to take that to the next level, take a test drive of Quattr. We’ve integrated these kinds of prompting capabilities and various different workflows that automate 30-plus manual SEO tasks for you. So really excited about the future of generative AI, and how it can, you know, make our lives easier.

JH: I love it. Great great advice. I think, you know, looking at this group of participants today, everybody on the call is very fortunate to have this level of diversity and expertise on the call. We’ve got folks representing agency, in-house, as well as actual technical, product-platform. It is great to have the variety of perspectives today.

With that, I think we can probably kill slides and put big faces up on the screen so we can hear what everybody’s got to say. 

Alright, let’s get into the questions.

This is a little bit just staying on top of trends, and just kind of industry best practices with these first 2 topics. The first one is like the world of work… of search engines is always evolving right? and just using Google as our primary example… rich snippets… algorithm changes… product reviews and so on. But also just in user experience and digital in general. So how do you guys stay up to date on the latest SEO news and industry trends? Are there specific newsletters that you subscribe to, thought leaders you follow and so on?

Carmen, why don’t we start with you?

CD: Yes, so actually, I have to say that, the SEO industry, one of the reasons I love it is because everyone is really vocal. You are always going to find so many people giving information about everything. Having said that, that means that it’s very difficult to get through finding the people who actually give good opinions, right? And they are up-to-date. So I tend to follow different people for different things. So, for example, Lily Ray for me to go to when I need to learn more about E-E-A-T, or anything content related.

When I need to follow things about international, I really like Aleyda Solis. She is the one expert,  she is fantastic. Mike King as well when you need to know more about the technology, etc. I’m doing quite a lot of shut out to people to follow in LinkedIn. So I hope you shout back to me. 

Something that is really really important is always to follow Google. Google is, in the end, going to be the one telling you what’s going on, right? So joining anything, any new product releases like the IO that Google did last week or doing any Google Search Console newsletters. They do quite a lot. And they give quite a lot of information about the latest releases. So all of those are super important. 

And finally, so I let all the people talk as well, keeping on top of all overall marketing is super important, because SEO, we need to remember, is part of marketing. So, without knowing where the rest of the channels are going, we basically isolate it. So, I really like following a stock marketer. I don’t know. Actually. So if he’s a very well-known newsletter, but I think it’s fantastic. He always gives quite a lot of information about how to put all the channels together, and it kind of opens a new way of looking at things.

JH: I love that. So I think I’ve seen a couple of comments. Yes, absolutely. You’re about to get a bunch of information bomb drops on this call. There’ll be lots of list of providers and resources, so there will definitely be follow up. We’ll send a recording out. So you don’t have to write everything down. But yeah, there’s gonna be a bunch of stuff that you guys can take away from this. You did mention, Lily Ray is really interesting. She covers E-A-T quite a bit or double E-E-A-T now and she’s also just really unique, right? She’s a DJ and a drummer and all these cool things in Brooklyn. Do you mind covering really quickly for those that aren’t aware what E-A-T is or the new E-E-A-T?

CD: So for people who don’t know, E-E-A-T really is a part of the core algorithm of Google that checks that your content is written by experts with this experience. Experience is the new E, and they struck trusted. And it’s authority. And it actually plays a very important role with AI now, because it’s going to be kind of that dictating when AI is good enough for the users. I think also, Google is going to be releasing a new helpful content update which is going to be linked quite a lot with E-E-A-T.  So in the end it is your content good enough for your users? Is it unique? And is it showing your authority is the most important part, I think.

JH: Love it. Thanks for that. I think we have a follow up topic there, request somewhere in the chat, too. So maybe not not to not fully today. But after this I love it.  Let’s go to Ben for for this one.

BR: Okay, yeah. Like Carmen, I follow a lot of different thought leaders in the SEO space. I love to just kind of open up my Twitter account to scroll through and see what people are saying. What are the new updates that Google’s done. But all of it really goes back to Google a lot of it, just like new changes that Google’s made. Some of the names that I follow Barry Schwartz from search engine, round table. I like to read his newsletter and his site, and keep up to date there. Kevin Indig, formally of Shopify. He’s somebody that I like to watch some of his podcasts and some of his videos that he puts out. Lily Ray obviously is one of those. And then and kind of going back to core like, you know, John Mueller always answers people’s tweets on Twitter, people ask questions, he answers them so, seeing and following him, seeing a lot of the things that he’s saying is a really good place, a good source of information. He even answers questions that are very basic. And so there’s a lot of good information from that.  There’s a lot of newsletters that come along with these SEOs. I’ve subscribed to all of those and get those in my inbox, but that’s probably my foundation. Twitter and Linkedin are kind of the 2 places that I go and get a lot of info outside of the newsletters.

JH: Awesome. What about you, Steffan?

SK: Yeah, I mean, a lot of the names have kind of been mentioned. But I think if I was you thinking about, you know, without going down rabbit holes or getting, you know, really too technical, I think Moz is one that is sometimes overlooked – they do a whiteboard Friday that I’ve recommended to a lot of business owners for beginner level SEO, but they also do cover a wide variety of topics. You can kind of narrow in what you want to learn or what you want to look into.

Search engine land, and their journal is great. Barry Schwartz is great as well. There’s a lot of different writers within that publication that provide a lot of great insight and updates that can be kind of a little bit more unbiased, which I prefer.

And then, obviously, John Mueller, you know, I mean, Google, Google is great because they’re going to provide those updates. But I think you know, the thing about SEO is, there are some great areas and not everything’s revealed. So it’s great to hear from other experts in the field that are engaging it and trying to figure out what Google’s algorithms are.

JH: There’s politics. There’s news. And there’s marketing SEO. Right? You, it’s helpful to have different perspectives. 

SK: That’s absolutely, I mean, you know, Google’s not going to reveal everything. That’s what kind of makes SEO fun. It can’t be kind of a guessing game, and you know you are doing some trial and error, for sure.

JH: Yeah, I love it.

CD: I was I’m not sure if you noticed that John Mueller recently has been trolling quite a lot of people. So just watch out as well. He tried linking. And now it’s trolling people.

JH: Before I get to you on Anurag, I highly encourage everybody on this call to follow these people. These are experts in the field, and the companies that they work for. Ok – who is on your list Anurag?

AS: I would call out that, I think oftentimes it’s really hard to explain Google’s algorithm and understand. I think some experts have done amazing research into actual Google patterns and made it really easy, for you know, less a model like us to really follow and understand. 

I think Bill Slawski is somebody who’s unfortunately no longer with us. But I would, you know, just give him a shout out for the tremendous work into space, and a lot of what he’s published is still very, very relevant. I would definitely, you know, start there if you’re trying to understand the fundamental stuff. How Google search works, how the ranking systems work and all of those. I think Google itself publishes really good material on keyword.google.com as one of the other, you know, plot from Google. They’ve done a tremendous job in making it easy for people to understand how search works. And of course there’s a lot of great advice already out that we’ve shared around, John Muellers office hours, and how he answers, everyones questions kindly. So I think there is of really good information out there.

JH: you guys that list. So yeah, I appreciate the shout out to Bill Slawski, left us too early last year about this time. But again, like you said a lot of good that content there still today did a lot of work at like.I guess we still call it reverse engineering, the algorithms and the crawlers and things. But yeah, what is it? It’s SEO by the sea, right? And go fish. Yeah.

That’s a great list. Again, we’ll follow up with the recording, and we’ll also document this so that people don’t who don’t have time to actually watch through the entire recording will provide. We’ll publish the list of lists here afterwards.

Let’s stay on the topic of change in the industry. We’ve seen a lot of algorithm changes this year and 2 big ones right? There’s the core update, and the product reviews update. So, I think about it. We’ve lived it. We’ve lived in this world for quite a long time, and algorithm fluctuations can be a scary thing right? They can lead to a lot of anxiety. Sometimes we chase our tails for weeks trying to figure out. Are we just hitting turbulence, or is this, you know something in the fuselage that just broke. So I it would be great to hear. How do you monitor site performance? And what are you looking at, especially as it relates to some of these fluctuations. What do you typically track and report on?

SK: Great. Yeah. I mean, I think at the end of the day there’s not really one tool to rule them all. I think it can be really helpful to look at different tools, be able to monitor site performance. 

Obviously, Google Search Console and Google Analytics are great. I mean, if you’re just looking to, you know, manage your website, traffic using analytics, looking at different landing pages, seeing how the traffic is increasing or not increasing. Especially when you add new pages or if you’re creating specific types of content where you’re targeting keywords or different industries to be able to track that traffic and see how that URL or that page is performing.

Google search console is a phenomenal tool as well that I think is overlooked and I’m surprised how many businesses don’t set that up. So I highly recommend that.

We typically look at 3 different KPIs or key performance indicators, and that’ll be 1) keyword rankings which will utilize SEMrush and MozSEMrush is my favorite but Moz also has some great keyword-tracking tools. There’s plenty more out there. But wanting to see, you know. Are they trending up? Are they trending down and not just are you gaining more keyword rankings?

I think that there’s a lot of agencies out there that will just try to get you to rank for anything. But we want to rank for very relevant terms that are going to convert into sales. 2) Organic traffic, which I mentioned in Google analytics, looking at those specific Urls that we’re targeting and seeing if the traffic is increasing or decreasing.I especially like looking year over year for SEO, I think for a lot of other areas of digital marketing like, you know, PPC, you’ll end up looking more month over month. but year over here can be really really helpful when tracking organic,

And then the 3) KPI would be organic revenue. So how much of your revenue, or how many of your conversions are happening from your organic traffic, and also looking at assisted conversions to and that can be really helpful by setting up goals and Google analytics to determine if your traffic that you’re driving to the site is converting, and if it is, then that’s probably where you should put more of your efforts as far as creating content and optimization.

So those are the 3 that we we, we look at.

JH: Super helpful. I love that you lead with business outcome as well. Right? It’s often, you know. Rankings are great. Traffic is great. They can also be the leading indicator. That’s a false positive. If the traffic is not, you know, consumer friendly.

SK: Especially if you’re eCommerce, and you’re selling online. The point is to make money at the end of the day.I think you know, I obviously, as we can’t always control that, because there is. how is the site going to convert? What’s the product that they’re selling? But getting them to the site. You know, in the end, to purchase is the end goal. 

JH: Yeah, love that appreciate the focus on KPIs as well. Carmen, how about you?

CD: Actually, I couldn’t agree more with this, Steffan, it’s funny how there are so many people who have been years in the SEO world, and have never used Google Search console for me. It’s very good to have third-party tools, and sometimes they do provided enough information. But we need to remember that Google search console and Google analytics provide real data while you 3 third-party tools have very limited growth portfolio. So sometimes SEMrush, for example, which I also love, won’t be able to crawl as many pages as Google. So I always start with Google search console. And I actually do it in a different way too. It was different. Rather than looking only into keywords which are good, But also the way that Google is going in my opinion, is Google is going away from single keywords and more into keyword groups. 

So I start with a page, I start looking at the performance of the pages over time: when, during the process, during the algorithm, before the algorithm and after algorithms. I compare. And then when I start looking into the pages that have been affected, I start narrowing down the issues. Then if I see the pages I’ve been up affected. I looked at the queries at this point, and then, I start identifying the specific keywords that were heated. And then I look into the Serp, and I see, okay, what was the change, was it in my content? That was no longer will enough. Did we make any changes on the pages that now Google is not crawling anymore. Why? Is it canonical? So that is how I start narrowing down. When I have identified them, Then I will check with GA. And check revenue is the effect, was there a change in my revenue, so can I prioritize this page has been effective. But reallyI was not making any money with it. So why should I prioritize it all? This one man I was making so much money that is my first one to fix, and then from there I start just triple checking with other tools. There’s so many tools out there. They’re really good. I think again, it’s re some typical, but also very much into new tools. I also include AI, because those are the 2 that are going to save a lot of your time. So yeah, that’s normally the process I follow.

JH: That’s a helpful kind of walk through the scientific methodology. But I love the fact that you think about your your logical groupings, so you can figure out where the Hotspots are faster and then drill in from there. I love that. I have a feeling Anurag that you’re going to have a very similar perspective in terms of groupings. 

AS: Yeah, I love comments on so actually, very, very on point. I think a lot of website owners are missing out on the power of Google Search Console and how that can be put to action. 

Where I think Google Search Console falls short is the user interface, though, because it’s really focused on pages and queries, where you know most websites, even for a single page, and be ranking for thousands of queries. So it starts to become very quickly, hard to, you know, tackle. So the groupings that you were mentioning start to become particularly valuable, and that’s one thing that Quattr from the very first day, the one of the first features we launched back in 2000 was grouping keywords and and content into automated groupings and that is all AI driven, so you don’t have to keep, you know. changing them or suspecting them, they are the right groupings.

Once you have that, then you can really arrive at answers where you know what trends are really important and where the biggest opportunities are. Combining that with Ran tracking data, I think what Steffan was earlier mentioning, that you know there are different tools for everything, and I think that’s one with the particular challenge for me in my job realtor.com was being in so many different tools. So what we do is by bringing data from all these tool together in one place, you can now answer questions like, “Hey, we’re seeing a 70% increase in clicks in search console for buy men’s shoes category And and that’s because of 17% higher with the ability in Google search based on the right tracking data we’re seeing. And that seems to relate with, you know, our improvement in content quality scores.” Connecting all of the data in one place can really help us get to the answer quickly, but also pinpoint the specific part of the website and things that move together and search versus kind of the entire site which can become, you know, too much to analyze at once.

JH: Yeah, that’s very helpful, super helpful, and bringing it all together. I think it’s a great great perspective on the platform that you’ve built in our building as well and the value it provides.Speaking of technology, Ben, what’s your take?

BR: Yeah, So we use a lot of the same tools. SEMrush AHrush, etc. but we absolutely love Google search console as well. I feel like all the data is there, and a lot of times it’s just hard to find it for users, right? So it’s like, how do we understand and use this to grow to get better. Recently, we’ve actually released an update to our All-in-one SEO Plugin that is called search statistics, and it connects directly with Google search console. It takes that data, it allows you to see individual pages and posts, and how they have ranked over the last year, and it’ll put right at the top those that are decaying what we call content decay. Right? So it’s like the content that used to rank really high and it’s going downhill. And we have an algorithm that we put together on top of Google Search Console to be able to surface those to the top, we do keyword tracking, we do all sorts of things. The idea is that you can look at it at a glance and see, “What do I need to focus on right now,” like Carmen was saying earlier, like, “what are the things that I need to focus on?” We try to make that as easy and simple as possible. So that’s you know, that’s straight from Google search console. That’s right from the horse’s mouth, right? We’re not looking at third party tools or anything like that. our our data that shows you your impressions and clicks, and everything is one to one what you would see in Google search, console

An update we’re about to put out is we’re going to start overlaying Google’s updates right on that graph, to show you where a Google algorithm update came out and that’s why your content went up, or your content went down like the rankings. So that’s what we use. We’re using it ourselves like we’re practitioners. So we built this tool for ourselves. We wanted to better understand our own SEO data. And so we built this and we’re releasing that to our customers. And that’s, we love it every day using this tool and using others like it, to just help us understand? Like Steffan was saying, it’s fun to go through and just kind of analyze it and figure it out. 

JH: yeah, sure, I mean, that’s really cool, too. A lot of what we do,a lot of what we measure is time series, right? It’s all hard to build a control and variant a lot of things that we do, having that sort of overlay, if you will, that proactive implementation of like, Hey, this change occurred. What is the subsequent sort of changes that are occurring on the website and performance is huge. 

BR: Yeah, so Google is one piece of it. But also you can make changes to your own content, right? That affect it. And so we’re gonna do that, too. We’re going to overlay both of those, so that you can understand like, Hey, not only did Google make a change here, but you change something in your content, and then you decreased in ranking. So maybe they’ll look at your revisions and see what you need to put back.

JH: Great point. You can use that as a project management sort of campaign management tool, if you will for that, too. 

Okay. This is great timing right now, I’m actually going to switch gears a little bit. I have a couple of other thoughts that I’d love to get for you guys if time allows. But we’ll come back to it in terms of other measurement strategies. but

Hot topic today, as everyone’s talking about. And you’ve mentioned in acronyms several times on this call already one of the hottest topics is, often contentious when it comes to SEO is the role of AI. I’d love to hear from each of you what your thoughts are a little bit  about where the industry is moving, to the degree that we know it today and see it, and how AI might influence either search behavior, content generation, or even other use cases that you’re seeing as your roles.

With that I know that you are very steeped in AI product development right now, too. So why don’t I kick it off to you Anurag.

AS: Yeah, thank you, John.  I think this is a particularly exciting time and 2023 like that almost everyday we are hearing new capabilities being announced around AI. And personally I see the role of AI as a past evolving into that of a co-pilot for us. I think co-pilot for almost everything we do today. So whether it is keyboard research or it is, you know, writing a content brief or writing a post for an article.or, you know, developing technical optimizations, or, you know, doing internal linking at scale, or analyzing trends and everything. 

I think that with the event of generative AI, SEO is experiencing its salesforce moment, just like, you know, earlier sales people used to be reliant on a spreadsheet. But then Salesforce completely changed that with a very, very powerful tool. I think when it comes to us here we are still a lot into our spreadsheets, and I think that’s about to change. Because AI is hoping to scale SEO in new ways and it’s no longer going to be competitive, to be still using spreadsheets. And I think that’s what platforms like Quatrr have set out to change, with the leveraging generative AI and advancing how fast teams can scale their SEO efforts and offering them a true co-pilot for their SEO in every step of the way.

JH: I love the notion of a co-pilot. Right? Rriding right side by side. It’s not going to take the wheel, but you definitely have it there to navigate right? Carmen, would love to hear your perspective.

CD: Well, I I can talk about this topic forever. So AI is one of my favorite topics. But I will separate it into two different parts. So the first part is obviously AI is here to stay. If you, if you watch the IO product release by Google, it is here to stay, and in every single platform that they have.

For me, I think it’s going to make a big change for the traditional way that SEO has been done, and just to even getting away from GA talking about chatGpt! The first day that ChatGPT was released, I was able to do a task that before took me 18 hours in 1 hour and a half. So this was backlink analysis and get all the Urls and group them into industries, and then tell me which ones I need to focus more, and that will allow me to do a proper creative campaign. So that is going to make loads of hours, the worst part before doing 150 kind of very manual tasks into way, less time. So less time-consuming. Which means it’s going to leave more time to the thinking. And that goes back to the data analysis, using Google Search Console… putting the dots together, which actually is going to change a little bit how the industry focuses. I think I’m talking way in advance. But also, I think the way that SEOs work at the moment is going to change, and I’m pro for that. I really like it to be honest, and it is really exciting, 

The other part is the people that are are using AI to do, Oh, I know when I swear “rubbish work” so copy and pasting, just using all the I tools to copy and create content, copy and paste it. Put in the website that is not good. And there are so many people doing it for that, to create outreach emails, to create very bad copy to be put in social. So I think the key now is going to be for companies to be able to this decide what good AI is, what the aI ethic is in terms of where you apply and then just be more creative. Finally, SEO is going to be focusing on the creativity again. So I’m really, really happy to see this happening.

JH: Love it. How about you, Stephen?

SK: Well, a lot of great. I really like what both of you have to say there. I took some notes and I think the scaling SEO. I think that was a great comment, as well as, saving time to be creative, and I think currently we’re we’re at is we are experimenting and and looking at AI to help us with our content creation and using it as a tool.

So I think one of the fears that you know that that we see anytime an algorithm update happens or something happens in the world just like even take it back to like the invention of electricity. You know, people react and go “Oh my God this is gonna take over,” and at the end of the day each of these things is a tool. So I would just look at it, as you know, AI as a tool that can help us save time with our content creation. So we’ve utilized it by coming up with the bullet points for ideas. We’re creating a piece of content that we can use as a framework, and then going in there and adding our tone and revising and editing things. I recently used the AI to create a poem for my family. When I sent it to them I remember my dad was tearing up, and I had to let him know he was a computer. But you know, at the end of the day it can be so robotic. And I think one of the things that whenI’m looking in the future, We’ve already seen in the last, I mean, It’s probably been a 3 to 5 years that content has become so saturated out there that there is just so much of it. I think AI is going to just even create more content from that copy and pasting of people just relying. And just like, Hey, let’s just publish a bunch of content from AI.

But how do we personalize it and give it that personal touch? One of my examples that I I like to use is looking at the supermarkets, how people used to check out and they started doing the self checkouts. What’s interesting is the checkouts have not fully gone away. People still want to interact with a human. And that’s why I like what’s Carmen has to say about the creative piece, because I think it can be a tool that can help us give more time to be creative with our content and the way we’re creating it, but also saving time for the way that we resource information and find information? because we’re going to be able to and tap into so much more through AI.

So I think it’s going to save us a lot of time and energy.

JH: That’s a great perspective. And I think, I’m gonna transition to you in a second, Ben, I love 2 things, I think we’re gonna have a lot of opportunities to do some follow up blog posts and everything else, because I certainly want to extract more information out of these out of these folks than we could have possibly have time for today, in which case I probably just ask you to include that poem in one of your blog posts. So

SK: I felt so bad afterwards. I was like, Oh, man! The fact that I made him tear up over it. And he thought, I really wrote it, you know.

JH: Okay, we don’t want to put your dad on a spot. But I definitely want to show real world examples. I also love that I’m about to say rubbish, because as an American, I don’t often use the term rubbish. But yeah, for the some of the rubbish work, there’s like Ben, I think you know you had a couple of examples. A lot of what we talked about with AI right now in SEO is content, focused. And how do you prevent it from being robotic and duplicative and like, how do you keep it authentic and on brand and and engaging, but also like there are other use cases you’re thinking about, too, right in terms of development tasks and QA. And other things like, yeah, we’d love to hear. Kind of your rounded perspective.

BR: Yeah. So I mean, I love it. I think AI has actually been around for a while. It’s just kind of hit this new element where it’s suddenly like taking the world by storm, right? And so. So there’s been tools that have been out for a long time. And you know one of the tools that you know, I’m kind of a product guy, right? So that a lot of time working with my development team and I want to make them more efficient in their job. So we use github co-pilot. we use other tools that help like directly with the developers, to be able to use AI to be faster at their jobs. And I think that that’s at the end of the day, like Steffan was saying, it’s these tools, we’re using these tools to help us to get ahead and to be able to understand. 

And I think there’s definitely fear that comes out, and people talk about being afraid of it taking jobs or these kinds of things. But I think it’s our responsibility to learn it deeply and to be able to take that to the next level, right? And we can then get ahead. Everyone here can get ahead using AI, and if you’re too afraid to take that step, it’s gonnamove on without you like it’s gonna keep growing. And AI while it’s been around for a while, I still tell people I told my team this past week. It’s still in its infancy. It’s still a baby, and it’s gonna continue to change and evolve and get bigger and bigger. And we’re going to be able to see we’re going to see iterations of it. I think that it’s just a fun, a fun thing. So one of the things we’ve done, we kind of jumped on the train right away, and inside of our plugin we created a title and a Meta title and meta description generator. So you can just type your content out. And then, instead of trying to figure out what’s the best title? What’s the description? You can just hit, generate, and it connects to opening AI. It will analyze your content. It will suggest titles and descriptions. And it’s really fast and really powerful. And we’ve seen a lot of success, a lot of people doing it. We’re using it ourselves, like, I said, practitioners, right? So it’s like, how can we make this job easier for our content team? They’re already writing this content, some of them are using are straight up just writing it themselves. Some use AI to kind of help and generate content, but then they tweak it and change it and make it better. and so this specific tool that we’ve created, it’s just one less, one step easier for them. And that’s kind of our goals to kind of help make SEO easy. We want to make it easy for everyone. So that’s what I see AI as, this tool to make our jobs easier each and every day.

JH: I love it. Thanks for that. And those are great examples too. Another whole set of tools that everybody mentioned that we’ll definitely publish after this.

With that, we’re coming up just shy of just over 10 min left, and I’d love to get into. We could talk AI for quite a long time. And actually, some of the questions that people are submitting are related to AI, and I’m gonna ask one of you to represent John Mueller in this case no, not really. But I would love to get into some of the audience. Participation Q and A. Some of these questions are really great, for our panelists in particular, around international eCommerce, and then some of the reporting and KPIs that we touched on a little bit.

Why don’t I switch over really quickly? So forgive me. I’m just toggling screens here to get some of the questions that the audiences asking.

What are the most, what have been the most impactful kpis to share with your clients leadership teams in terms of keeping them invested in the near and long term sustainability of an SEO program?

AS: I’d love to take that I think,  oftentimes there’s 2 angles to a CEO that I’ve missed out. One as the user experience value of SEO. Where I think you may also be, you know, increasing the level of engagement with high quality content, and how the theme content can be leveraged on social media and other locations. So you’re building assets for the long term that’ll be used by your sales team, by our, you know, your social media team and an even marketing team as well.

The second aspect is measuring the the brands with ability, and I think these are things that are harder. But I think there’s a certain flight that a company owns when it ranks number one on page 140 at top terms. And so I think there’s that emotional value. But in the end, for a CFO, I think you need to be able to, you know, show the ROI of SEO, and trying to show that purely from number of clicks is often less than 8. So it’s how to get product into conversion and doing an estimation of you know, what’s the average value of a conversion, what’s the lifetime value of a conversion, and then project the value of your S here, but over a 2 to 3 year period. because, you know, that’s all the time it’ll pay off.

But I’ll tell you from my time at Realtor.com, when we grew from, you know, the SEO channel. We went from 23 million monthly clicks, to you know, over 75 million monthly clicks while I was there. But after I left, that momentum continued, and we hit 145 million monthly clicks from Google. and so that is the long term value. And I think that needs to be called out to the leadership.

JH: That’s a great point and a great way to think about how you get the company to buy into investments around this, right? It’s a long-term play, and it definitely, it’s a cost-effective solution in the scheme of things. When you balance your portfolio of investments definitely. Anybody else have anything on the the KPI front? Especially around sort of selling through to leadership.

SK: Yeah, I’ll I’ll jump in here. just to kind of add on to that. And I think if, from a business owner’s perspective, or, you know, talking with the CFO, I think there is the idea of being able to break down the ROI of SEO, which can be really difficult. and I think that there are no guarantees. But the way I like to look at it., and so what I think some folks, because they’re not willing to to give it time to build up, they end up exiting out or or stopping SEO. You know. I’ll see those companies where they were blogging, they were doing SEO, and then they just stopped producing content. And they watch things slowly trickle down, and they found, well, if I spend money on PPC paid ads, and Google, you know, paid social, I can see immediate results. And I guess the way I like to explain it, to kind of dumb it down, is you know, a lot of these paid ads are kind of the paycheck. Right? You work for it, and you get paid. It’s every 2 weeks, whereas the SEO is really the 401 K. It’s, I’m putting money into it. I’m investing in it, and the market fluctuates and the market moves up and down. But in the long term, you know, that’s where you’re going to see the big results.

And so I think it’s producing, you know the looking at those KPIs and the and the ROI of what is your return going to be? What’s, how many searchers are, you know, within these keyword groupings, and you know, what’s your return on each conversion, and then being able to multiply that opportunity by looking at well, if you get into the first click or the, you know, the first resume of Google, you’re going to end up probably getting any, you know.

I mean, the numbers fluctuate with 35 to 25%. Whereas if you have the number one ad, you’re looking at about probably 3%. So you have a larger chance of gaining those clicks, but it’s also being able to let them know, hey, this is a long term play, and I try not to hide that. I think sometimes SEO, especially agencies, want to hide the fact that it’s not a quick fix, that it takes time, and if you stick with it you’ll see the results.

JH: I think there’s a lot of love for your analogy.

SK: Okay? Oh, good.

JH: That’s huge. Cool, a couple of questions unless anybody’s burning on that one. A couple of questions related to back to AI again. This is where we may need to represent Google themselves, but can search engines differentiate between AI and original content? And or maybe a akin to that, do you recommend adding a disclaimer when you’re publishing AI generated content?

CD: Actually, I’m going to jump into that one because it’s related a little bit to the updates. And Google has said that they are able to identify content. I say they could potentially be. It’s really bad waiting. I don’t think they can at the moment, but rest assured that they will at some point. But the end of the day. What you care about is not necessarily Google picking up your content, it’s your user picking up your content at the end of the day. You need to think that you are convincing. You’re using to buy your, the user to buy your product. To buy your service.

It doesn’t matter if a AI is actually right and Google is out ranking you because your user is not going to buy from you. So you need to think more of the user convincing the user and and representing you serve as an authority authority rather than actually getting your content rank, which I am telling you at some point it will still run.

Now, if you get AI to make it sound like a very good piece of content, and you have checked everything, I’d definitely recommend you to. If you, for example, have written a piece of content, and with AI, and you have someone to check the facts and someone to check. That it is correct, I will really recommend you to do it because Google does check authorship and the authority of the content. So if you have to really do it. I will go with with a suggestion.

AS: I’d like to add to this, I think really, you know, common sense resonates a lot, I think. Ultimately, you know, you have to, a brand has to take ownership of their content, and it has to put it to some use, and and it have to, you know, deliver value, whether it’s grant visibility or revenues, or you know, or just the you know authority you’re building on a current topic so I think. I like how WP Engine’s VP of Brand, Monica Cravotta put it, when we were showing her the Quattr platform for the first time. She said, this is the massive accelerator you know, but it also means that the role of copywriter is evolving into copy editors. I think that’s a great way of thinking about this this transformation that I’ve been sharing with a lot of people that you know. This is the really, the the transformation that we need to acknowledge, and because I think at the end of the day, if every copywriter can get the acceleration from AI, but still take ownership of that content and publish it, as you know, something that they stand behind, like an editorial, you know, person at a publishing company would stand behind the content, even though it was not written by them but by a junior copywriter. So I think at the end of the day, a company has to take ownership of the content they’re putting out and it has to think about the value it’s going to bring to them. Not just, you know, in getting something out of quickly, but also, you know, something that they would like to fit on the website for a long time and and a simple topic. But I’ll be comfortable sending an email to everybody all of my customers that I publish this piece of content if it’s not of that quality and don’t publish it.

CD: I actually just remembered the Google in the I/O, they said that they’re gonna create a scheme and they’re gonna be putting in images. But it it tells Google, if the image has been created with AI, so they are already developing quite a lot of different voice of try to pick it up. Also something that lots of people are testing, so that I’m 100% sure that Google is running AI content with our group interview because I’ve been testing it recently.

But something that they said that they were going to start doing is indexing pages that they feel the content is not very good, so it is even getting more dangerous. That is no longer, not ranking you, but potentially they indexing you. If your content is not good, so not now. But maybe in the future it does become something bad for you. That’s what they said. Is it true? We never know.

JH: Have you? have any of you? This is a kind of a following question from the from the group, have you any of you utilized an AI chat? But on a site?

BR: Not yet. I think that there is definitely some benefit to to those, especially if you can connect them with documentation or knowledge bases or things like that, things that can generate quick answers. And then you know that potentially helps your support. Teams helps kind of offload that a little bit. But again, these are tools in their infancy, and they’re not going to be perfect. But I do see some initial value in it for sure to a controlled internal data set. Yeah.

AS: One thing we’ve done at Quattr is, we have this messaging tool from Intercom that fits on the bottom right of the most websites where you can ask any questions, and so right above that, we put in a button to write any prompt and and generate a response like a content brief or something, and everywhere we show keywords in the UI, you can pin up the same. No chat experience, plugging in that keyword and auto-generating either the team or working up the FAQ. Write answers if there’s a question. And so I think a lot of these kinds of capabilities where the the integration of the chat experiences integrated into the actual workflow, that task is going to become more and more valuable.

JH Very helpful, very helpful everybody. I realize we’re coming right up to the hour right now. I could, I I think we could all could go on for quite a lot longer, which is encouraging, because it means we’ll probably be doing more of these in the future. I want to thank the panelists. Thank you all for for being here. Thank you for the for the participants.

You know I’m looking through the chat. I’m looking through the Q&A and I think we have several other topic categories to go into for future. Be on the lookout for the recording. Lexi, if you don’t mind popping up the the future Webinar Series, there will be there. There are a few coming up over the course the next few weeks, months, and be on the lookout for invitations to those topics.

And then immediately after this, you’ll get the recording of this, and we’ll start to put out these list of lists, and you’ll have access to the Q&A with the panelists, with us at WP Engine, but yeah, one again. Thank you guys very much. Thank you. Everybody for the participation and your expertise and bringing it on the, I can tell that everybody is very excited about it today.

SK: Thank you.

JH: Alright. With that, stay tuned. Have a great day, everyone. Thank you.

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