A group of us from Page One Power recently attended brightonSEO 2023 in San Diego. During the event, we were blown away by one particular presentation that we loved. Hosted by Mordy Oberstein and Crystal Carter (the hosts of SERP’s Up Podcast), the presentation featured interviews with four SEO experts who shared their insights on the current state of Google.
The experts interviewed were George Nguyen (Director of SEO Editorial at Wix), Cindy Krum (Founder & CEO of MobileMoxie, Inc,) Greg Gifford (COO of Search Lab Digital), and Mike King (Founder and CEO of iPullRank).
Their discussion was informative and insightful, and we learned a lot from them. Here are some of the key takeaways from their presentation.
Defining Helpful Content With George Nguyen
On what is good content, and how quickly does it change:
“You really have to think about where your audience is, and I feel like It's changing constantly. What are you able to produce? That really changes the lens.
What you're able to do kind of dictates what you consider to be good content. No matter what, whatever your role is, if you're in an agency or in house, you view what your success can be primarily through what you're able to accomplish.
But you have to be more aspirational than that. Because you look at all those other brands, and that's what they're doing.”
On how to define good content:
“Definitely relevance, all the stuff that Google says, but I feel like we're at a point where, how much more optimizing, how much more helpful? If you ask me a question, there's a million ways I can answer it, just like I am sort of answering it for this podcast. But are you going to write content that same way? You have to choose a way, and that all comes down to your audience.”
Mordy goes on to explain,
“It's really, I think it comes down to empathy. If you can really understand or really empathize with your audience, and I think predict what their needs are going to be.”
In the end, George ends with,
“I think that the fundamental basis of what helpful content is isn't going to change. Like, are you answering the question? Think about all that relevance.”
Navigating Algorithm Updates With Cindy Krum
“I think in general the rule, for me at least, still seems to be if you're doing a really good clean SEO strategy and not really pushing the boundaries of the guidelines, then you don't get impacted by these things.”
On the rapid succession of algorithm updates:
“They're just not announcing all of them. But I think Google's fighting an interesting battle because they're trying to look like they're being more transparent, in ways that get them out of legal problems that they might or might not be having.
So, they want to look like they're being transparent, But without being too transparent to make things too gameable. So they roll things out, quietly sometimes, And then if there's a risk then they'll give you a heads up and be like, hey, next week this is happening, so they can say, oh no, we warned you, you know.”
On unconfirmed updates:
“I definitely have seen unconfirmed updates, especially around things that are highly regulated. Um, you see Google kind of change their mind about how they feel about this topic or that topic. And, uh, or changing just their understanding of the topic.
On using third-party tools:
“I think the weather tools sometimes miss some things that might be very important to SEOs. Because they… omit what they think is noise, but might not be noise for you. They've got to show something that's statistically relevant for everyone…You've gotta take everything with a grain of salt with the weather tools.”
How to Communicate and Get Buy-In With Clients With Greg Gifford
On strategy for new SERP features:
“We're not doing SEO for Google. We're doing SEO for clients so that you're gonna be the answer for what people are looking for and that's the right way to do it. You don't have to worry about…this one update that just happened, because that's not sustainable for the long term.”
On the type of clients that are going to be successful:
“I think for us, the clients that are the most successful are the ones that are actually engaged. Because there's a lot of people that will do SEO and do paid search and do marketing because they know they need to, but it's like pulling teeth to get them on the phone to actually talk strategy.
People are always like your traffic's going up, your leads going up, SEO is winning. But sales are going down. So you want to have those conversations and really dial in the customization of what you're doing. But these people are too busy to talk to you. And those, I don't think, are anywhere near as successful as the ones that are engaged.”
On dealing with concerned clients:
“We are really centered on the relationship that we build with our clients. We found that it's better to build that relationship so that they trust us and they know that… traffic just dropped 20 percent since last month…I trust that the team is there to help me.
We work really hard to establish that trust so that they know we are the experts, we are in this with you, we are a partner, we're not a vendor, because we care.”
SGE With Mike King
On SGE in general:
I think it's an opportunity. I think the reality of how people are meeting their information needs is changing dramatically. So it's not just Google, it's ChatGPT, it's TikTok, it's all these things. And I think we as SEOs need to grow or evolve into these findability experts. Where we gotta learn the interplay of channels and how to optimize for the different channels and so on.”
On concerns with SGE:
“I think the standard audience is like... Well, if Google says it, it must be real. And I think that's one of the problems with SGE is because sometimes it's not right. You know, it being Google, you inherently trust it, and so you're going to get bad information in those cases.”
“Language models inherently have the ability to hallucinate. You know, the way the SGE is built, it's like it's taking the results and then using that to fine tune the language model to give you the actual response. But it can still be wrong.”
On what search will look like when SGE is published:
“We're gonna talk to our computer in a conversational way and get the answer that we want for most of the stuff. 'cause if you just want an answer, like you said a minute ago, you don't wanna read through a bunch of, you'd want the answer.”
On how to optimize for visibility:
Cindy…was talking about Fraggles like five years ago. Fraggles are basically the components of the content that Google has identified as most relevant and is then serving it to the language model to then determine what to say in the response.
In SGE, if you click on the carousel, like the links in the carousel, it has the anchor link to the actual fraggle. It'll take you specifically to the line of text that Google has used.
And so, what I've done is pulled those fraggles for a bunch of pages, and then compared it against the AI snapshot.
And the one that has the highest cosine similarity is the one that ranks best in the carousel. And so it's really about optimizing those fraggles and identifying them if you want to get more visibility.”
On how SGE impacts traffic:
“We don't know yet. I mean, we've been modeling it, and it's like 30-40 percent based on a variety of factors, but there's no way to know. We don't have any user behavior data on it.”
On keeping up with BARD and SGE language models:
“It's going to require that the content you create be more robust. So, like, rather than... You know, the whole long tail strategy where it's like, I'm going to make a hundred pages for a hundred queries. You may need to make like twenty pages for five queries each. So then, that page answers several of those questions and remains in that context only.”