Audience Intenet Webinar

It’s all well and good being able to drive organic traffic from the SERP, but what if the visitor doesn’t find exactly what they’re looking for on your site? The chances are that they’ll bounce and search engines may not think that your web page provides the most relevant result.

On this panel we’ll discuss how to determine exactly what your organic visitors are looking for and how to use SEO to serve that intent, giving you a great opportunity to maintain your rankings over the long term.

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Your Panellists

Imogen Davies, SEO Account Director, Found

Jenny Halasz, President & Founder, JLH Marketing

Natalie Mott, Freelance SEO Consultant

Transcript

Dixon Jones

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Old Guard, New Blood, Episode 13. And we’re talking today about how to use SEO to serve audience intent. I’ve got a well-experienced crowd with me. In the Old Guard front is myself and Jenny. Jenny, hi? How are you? Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from?

Jenny Halasz

Hey, thanks for having me on, Dixon. Jenny Halasz, I am based in Raleigh, North Carolina in the United States, and I’ve been doing SEO for about 20 years, which unfortunately makes me Old Guard. But we’re going to pretend that’s not the name.

Dixon Jones

Excellent. Lovely. And you’re getting a high from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, UK. And on the New Blood front, we’ve got people who have still been in the industry for a long time. So there’s a lot of experience on the New Blood side. Natalie, I think it’s the first time we’ve met. So how are you and who are you, and what do you do?

Natalie Mott

Oh, it’s good to be here. I’m delighted to be described as New Blood, I have to say, because it’s been going on a while. I am a freelance SEO consultant. I’ve gained a lot of experience agency side, but now sort of my own busting and going out on my own. Yeah. Really looking forward to talking through this today.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, great. Okay. And Imogen, we’ve met before, but tell us who you are and where you come from, as they say on the game shows. This feels like a game show panel really.

Imogen Davies

It does, don’t it? Yeah. Hi I’m Imogen Davies. I’m an SEO account director at Found. I’ve been in SEO for about six years now. Based in Kent in the United Kingdom, if anyone else is in Kent.

Dixon Jones

There you go. Excellent. Okay. So the topic today is going to be how to use SEO to serve audience intent. The whole event is put on by Majestic, so plug for Majestic because they’re paying for all the bandwidth here and stuff. If you haven’t used Majestic recently, the new Link Graph system that they’ve got where you can sit there and see second, third and fourth tier links is absolutely phenomenal. So you can sit there and… You don’t just see the links to a website anymore, you see the links that are three or four steps away.

And you can drill down, you can start seeing private PBNs, you can start seeing how an article from the BBC is influencing something three or four links away, and it completely changed the game on how you look at links. So that’s the advert for Majestic. We’re not going to talk about Majestic particularly through the day, but we are going to talk about how we can use SEO to serve audience intent. And it’s something that Google seems to imply that we should be doing all the time. “Think about the user. Think about the user.”

So I wanted to start with a question for each of you or a tip for each of you, for anybody in case you haven’t got time to be here or they want to get one tip, and we want to get it in early. What’s one tip that you might give to everybody to say, how you can use SEO to better serve audience intent? I’m going to start, Imogen, with you.

Imogen Davies

Oh, okay.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. I jump in you know.

Imogen Davies

So I guess my tip is basically just make sure you understand what the users are doing. And so really understand sort of what they need, what the purpose of their search is, and really get to grips with that side of things. And then you can write the content to make sure that you’re meeting those needs and those requirements.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Natalie, got a tip?

Natalie Mott

I would say that there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty with keyword research. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about speeding up the process, using tools that automatically cluster the keywords, which is fair enough, really good for making our jobs a bit easier. But in terms of understanding the audience, there really is no substitute for getting under the hood and figuring out what people mean when they’re searching. That would be my tip.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Jenny, want to throw it in?

Jenny Halasz

Those are both fantastic tips. I would say for right now right this minute, focus on Google’s user metrics, the ones that they’re going to start adding to the ranking algorithm starting in May. You have just a little bit more time left to make sure that your site is up to snuff, and you better go do it.

Dixon Jones

Okay. And I’ll add mine on there and say, liberally use internal linking to connect your ideas together. So if you’ve got a page on blue widgets and you’re talking about blue widgets on another page, don’t be afraid to link to the blue widget page when you’re talking about blue widgets in the text. So having those internal links helps SEO and it helps a user if they’re trying to get to places that, particularly to those ideas that they may not understand. So liberally use internal links is going to be my tip for people. Here’s the thing though, Imogen, I’ll bring you back on the thing you said there that you got to really understand what the user is doing.

But what is user intent? What is audience intent? Because surely, people can be thinking of different things. When they’re looking at content, one person could be thinking about buying something, someone else might be thinking about understanding more about something, somebody else might be thinking about doing a review. People may have a different intent looking at the same content. So I guess it’s bringing back this idea of audience and user intent. What is it? And why do we think it’s always going to be the same thing?

Imogen Davies

Well, I don’t think we ever think it’s always going to be the same thing, to be honest. I think whenever we look at intent from a keyword perspective, we always look at it as sort of multifaceted, I would say. So we never just say that one keyword is specifically an informational keyword. It’s just commercial, it’s just research. There is stronger elements of research and information tied to some keywords. So if you’re looking for best or top, or things like that, you know there’s research, you know it’s informational.

But there’s still going to be that underlying need to figure out at the end, that actually you are probably going to purchase something. So there is still that underlying commercial intent as well as the informational side of things. So I think really, what you need to be looking at is what’s currently showing, but also showing in different locations, different types of searches for different phrases at the same time. And then use that as more of a gauge than just saying, “This is an informational keyword.”

Dixon Jones

Okay. Anyone else want to jump in there?

Jenny Halasz

Well, I just want to add that I think that there’s something that Matt Cutts said, like a decade ago.

Dixon Jones

So this is the Old Guard coming out now.

Jenny Halasz

Yeah. That has always stuck with me. And that is meeting the intention of the query. So when you look at the query, when you look at a query like top or best, is the intention of that query your client site or is it a site that reviews lots of different sites? And so I think I’m always trying to get clients to understand that the intention of the query is what really matters. You can create a page on your site all day long that says that you’re the top whatever, widget provider, but Google isn’t going to rank that because it doesn’t meet the intention of the query.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, yeah. Right. That’s a good point. And you can use things like… So yeah. If they’re typing in, “When do I eat ice cream?” not what ice cream to buy, then that’s a completely different answer. The when and the why are different answers. Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So usually intent then can be framed around the use of query. I like that idea. You mentioned Matt Cutts used to say, “Answer the user query.” But are there any other ways that Google has communicated that the audience intent or user intent is important? How does that really work? How does Google get you to work towards working around user intent?

And I say that with seeing something on LinkedIn, I think by Lee from Get Visible this morning, who, sorry Loren Baker, but I’m going to say, who said, “I wonder how Search Engine Journal, and their traffic, their organic traffic is going up really very nicely, and they’re doing very, very well. Their SEO is definitely going well.” So he’s sitting there and seeing all the pop-ups that come up on Search Engine Journal, which probably all of us look at and saying, “How is it that UX or the user journey is being helped? Is Google really paying lip service to user intent or are they actually checking up on it?” Was that really a question or was it an opinion?

Imogen Davies

It was framed like a question, but it certainly sounded like an opinion.

Dixon Jones

Like an opinion. I love Loren Baker, so he’s going to come and shout to me no doubt in a while. Anyway, but I think there is this issue, you still find websites that I think are not really looking like they’re properly answering the question. They look like they still got there with a little bit of SEO tweaking around the edges. I guess my actual question started with, how serious is Google about this user intent journey? And how do they prove it?

Jenny Halasz

I think that it’s a balance. So a site like the one you mentioned is definitely an indication that maybe that whole intrusive ads thing is not really such a problem for Google. But you have to look at the other values that are going into that, the other signals, the inbound links, the user engagement, the buzz worthy type of metrics. All of those things, I think combined together. And so I do believe that there are times when you can have a site that, not speaking of that one that you mentioned, but just any site where-

Dixon Jones

It’s like in the news industry is all of them. There’s the New York Times as well. I mean, all of them basically. There’s lots and lots of them with pop-ups and stuff. So yeah, outing one bad idea.

Jenny Halasz

Well, pop-ups are worthy, user experience is just horrifically bad, or terrible on mobile. Or they’re always things that contribute that can be outweighed I think by authority and expertise in a niche.

Natalie Mott

100%. It’s these kinds of sites they do well in spite of those kind of UX niggles on the strength of the brand and the quality of the content. It’s been like this forever. It’s still the case, but it’s-

Jenny Halasz

It’ll be interesting to see if they still do after May.

Natalie Mott

Indeed, yeah.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. I think that is going to be an interesting thing. How do you think things are going to change in May, Jenny?

Jenny Halasz

Well, Google has said that that’s when they’re rolling out their key user metrics, I forgot what they’re called. Does anyone remember what they’re called?

Imogen Davies

They’re called Core Web Vitals.

Jenny Halasz

Core Web Vitals. Thank you, Imogen. Yeah, the Core Web Vitals. So I do think that we’re going to see some significant shake up when that happens, because I do think that there are some sites that are performing well in spite of themselves. So as Natalie-

Dixon Jones

So in that, because Bing of course have just launched their own UX analytics system, which I don’t know if any of you got a chance to try, but it’s really cool. It shows you-

Jenny Halasz

It is so cool.

Dixon Jones

… how people are clicking around your site, where people are falling short of your intended sales sequence and things like that. So when it comes to measuring audience intent, I think that tool is well worth going. And I suspect that Google kind of said, “Oh, God. Bing have got a bit of a headway here. We’re going to have to at least say we’re going to be doing something that’s going to be different.” And I’m sure when it comes out, it’ll be awesome. But I suspect it is much trying to keep up with the Bing’s as anything else.

Jenny Halasz

Well, GA4 is pretty impressive in that area. But the Bing, what is that called, Microsoft Experience or something like that.

Dixon Jones

It’s not and I feel… Clarity.

Jenny Halasz

Clarity, that’s it. Microsoft Clarity. But it’s so cool because you can watch actual recordings of people like clicking on your site.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. So if anyone hasn’t tried-

Jenny Halasz

I’m not sure how actionable it all is, but we’ll see.

Dixon Jones

Well, I think that you’ll find a few things that are going glaringly wrong. If something’s going glaringly wrong on your site, you’ll probably pick it up with that system. But once you’ve got it right, hopefully your user journey is vastly improved. Let’s hope anyways. Okay.

Jenny Halasz

I’ve got a really big kick out of one of my clients had rage click, when you talk about click a whole bunch of times in a spot. They call it rage clicking.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. There’s no button there. It’s just a blue circle. You think it’s about-

Jenny Halasz

But then when you look at the video, it’s just somebody like who scrolls and clicks, and clicks, and clicks.

Dixon Jones

Okay, okay. So maybe this-

Jenny Halasz

Just weird user behavior.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Right. Let’s get down to brass tacks of SEO and things that an SEO could do to help user intent. As an SEO, the things that you can change on a website, I guess user intent is really going to be the domain of the UX person, and there’s a sort of… Let’s assume that we’re in a luxury position of having an SEO person, a technical SEO person, a content writer and a UX person in the system. How can we have a conversation with that UX person and not clash? What do you think the UX person needs to hear from an SEO?

Natalie Mott

Well, I can talk about this all day, but-

Dixon Jones

Go for it. Go for it.

Natalie Mott

Because I’m coming up against some of these kinds of things in my day-to-day. I think in terms of clashing, I think the biggest cause of a clash is when a UX designer or an SEO doesn’t necessarily play the tape forward on the recommendations. They just think best practice, full speed out or make use of actual keywords on the page, or one of the things that would come from either side, but don’t take into account the other channels point of view and don’t figure out how it would affect. So I just say the onus is on both UX and SEO to increase their understanding of both sides. Because really, any positive user experience change should be good for SEO, and any positive SEO change should be good for user experience. It’s when the idea and the execution is unfinished that you end up with those kinds of clashes.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, it’s not always the case. I mean, you could argue from a UX point of view quite happily, I would imagine that if I hover over a link and it pops up with a little picture of the site that I’m about to go to, that would be a great thing. But that might be they’re using all sorts of JavaScript and caching a page that then can’t get crawled, or maybe using all sorts of weird stuff that blocks Google from following that link possibly. So I can certainly see times where UX and SEO do clash. And I wonder how often the UX person is really thinking about neat little ideas. Micro messaging is another one where you’re kind of popping around a website and it comes up little ideas that help the user no end. But not necessarily things that can get picked up with, by SEO. But so you say, they always come together. Go on.

Jenny Halasz

I feel like there’s always a workaround for that though. Right?

Natalie Mott

Exactly.

Jenny Halasz

They want to do, let’s just say a tool tip that pops up. It’s like, “Okay. Use the title attribute instead of JavaScript to achieve that.”

Dixon Jones

Yeah. And that answers the point really nicely. So okay, the UX guy or girl has seen what they want to do, and then as SEOs we got to check the IV implementation they’ve come up with or suggest a different implementation that doesn’t wreck the idea, but still keeps the flow of information around the site working pretty well. Excellent. Okay.

Natalie Mott

Because if you make that sort of short-sighted UX change because it might be beneficial on the site, it’s not necessarily beneficial for the user, if you suddenly hide your content from search engines. You’re no longer serving. So it is all about making sure the whole idea is developed and playing to take forward and identifying potential pitfalls in whichever approach. And the same goes for SEOs making recommendations saying, “You need this content block here.” You drive UX people nuts, because it’s like you haven’t considered the design. The SEO does need to consider the design. Absolutely.

Dixon Jones

I do see a lot on the SEO boards where we as SEOs get really angry at any other section of Internet marketing, choose one here, and we kind of go off on one. And I think quite oftentimes, we’re not sitting in the other person’s shoes. And probably if that’s the case, we’re also not sitting in the CEO’s or the CMO’s shoes, and we perhaps should do that a little more as individuals. So yeah. Okay. I mean, if there’s burning issues you think I should be coming out to, please jump in and do that. But I wanted to come in and ask, how might Google measure whether an audience’s intentions are met? How do they go about that? Because if we can understand that, we can also understand how our SEO efforts can help. Is there any key clues, apart from the UX stuff that’s coming out in May?

Imogen Davies

I think a lot of that comes down to just engagement on the page and engagement on the website. So there’s a lot of people that have spoken about things like dwell time, things like bounce rate, return to serve rate, things like that. Those are all sort of signals of quality. I think Google, like yes, they don’t come out and say that they use them in the algorithms and they’re used to rank pages and all that sort of things, but they are indicators of quality. So if Google is seeing that people are going to the page, they’re spending time on the page, they’re consuming the content, then that is going to be an indication that the intent has been met. So I think it’s looking at those kind of metrics as well as the hard metrics of, “This is your traffic. These are your rankings. This is where visibility is.” It’s looking at those softer engagement metrics as well.

Dixon Jones

So engaging content becomes a huge part for SEOs then, making sure that it’s decent engaging content is pretty good. Or really hard to read, so you can’t possibly get through it in the next 20 minutes.

Jenny Halasz

So on the flip side of that, there are certain things that just need a quick answer. And if you’re looking for a phone number to a website, click through their contact us page, and then you come back to SERP, because you just are somebody who’s fond of hitting the back button, and then you make your phone call. It’s a whole different experience. And what I think the SEOs always have to keep in mind is that when we talk about these metrics like dwell time or bounce back, or whatever you want to call it, it has to be something that’s scalable for the search engine, because ultimately, the search engine is still ones and zeros in a computer system.

And so it can’t be something like Google Analytics data that’s only available for 40% of the population of websites. I mean, there’s a lot of things there to consider. But I do think that Google signals all the time that they really care about user experience. And it makes sense because they need people to have a good experience on the Google website so that they can sell more ads. Which ultimately, is what keeps their stockholders happy.

Imogen Davies

Yeah. For sure, for sure. And I think sort of circling back to the, some queries just need a short answer, and they just need a snippet and things like that. I think that’s where different SERP features really come into play as well. So if you can see what kind of features are appearing in the search results, then you can kind of get an idea of what you need to be serving and how much you should be anticipating from an engagement level. And good luck is if you can answer it within 30 words, then do it within 30 words.

Jenny Halasz

Yeah. I think one of my favorite examples was that, I think it was SMX where Gary Illyes said, “If I just need to know how to boil an egg, do not give me 2000 words on how to boil an egg.” That does not meet the intention of the query.

Dixon Jones

I’m interested to see what the average number of words is in the results that come back for the phrase, how to boil an egg. I suspect it’s more than 30 words.

Jenny Halasz

I would expect that.

Dixon Jones

Which I think is in itself an interesting question thing. Because taking that example, you would imagine that Google would bring back a rich snippet with a recipe on it, a recipe rich Snippet in that instance of how to boil an egg. I know that someone out there is trying it as we speak. But that in itself is a challenge because if that recipe is sitting there of how to boil an egg, and it’s in front of the user, the user never goes to the customer website. So how can SEOs get around that, for example? You’ve made all that work to create the rich snippet, and then no one comes to your website in the first place, so you can’t monetize that work. Is that good SEO or bad SEO?

Imogen Davies

I would still say that’s good, to be honest, because you’re still getting your brand into the search results, you’re still getting the website in the results. So even if people aren’t clicking on it, it’s still giving Google the sort of signals that you are an authority in the space, you’ve got the information and you know what you’re talking about. And that all kind of ties into a broader, this site is a relevant thing for this topic. And so I think, even if people aren’t clicking through stuff, if you can capture those features, A, you’re not letting competitors take them from you, so that’s always bonus. And B, you’re just building up that sort of entity relationship around the whole topic as well.

Jenny Halasz

And there’s some things that you can do to kind of game that system too, right?

Dixon Jones

Well, let’s hear them, Jenny.

Jenny Halasz

Well, for example, if it’s steps to wrap a present- you should always have enough steps so that they have to click through to get the last step. Right?

Dixon Jones

That’s the important one, isn’t it? I think. They can’t finish the problem without coming to your website. And that’s good SEO, I think, is helping Google do 90% of the job, but making sure that if the customer ends up having to have a little bit more than just seeing the brand on the page is good. Did you want to add anything there, Natalie?

Natalie Mott

Well, I was just thinking about what you said about is it good SEO on how to boil an egg. I was thinking if you will have howtoboilanegg.com, it wouldn’t be great if that was your whole, how all the money you’ve made in the world had happened and then featured snippets happened and suddenly, like what happened with all the clock websites when those results were introduced. But usually you wouldn’t be howtoboilanegg.com, you would have much more content about eggs. It would be a gateway. That sort of thing shouldn’t damage your brand in general because they should usually have different streams and different traffic sources.

Jenny Halasz

And the whole point is, after somebody clicks through on how to boil an egg, you have to give them some kind of value beyond that, so that next time they need to know how to boil water, they know which website to go to.

Dixon Jones

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think as well there is a little bit of an onus here on the owner of the business to have a business that’s viable in the long term. And it is true that I mean, Google has ransacked so many market sectors, or disrupted shall we say, so many market sectors from paid analytics to free analytics to advertising to-

Jenny Halasz

OTAs.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. The whole PPC model changed the game as well based on performance. Everything that they’re doing brings out… Or YouTube suddenly creating a free video streaming service, suddenly massively changed the game. But it doesn’t stop the likes of Netflix coming out with a business model which appears to be working. I don’t know if they’ve ever made any money but we all love Netflix. If they haven’t made money in the lockdown, I don’t know how Netflix is ever going to survive. So you can have free conferencing on Google Hangouts for example, but it hasn’t stopped Zoom from doing a really good job of webinars. We’re on Zoom now and as well as Facebook Live and stuff like that. So it hasn’t stopped other businesses.

But lesser businesses or businesses that aren’t confident in their own world, I think will get knocked off by these developments by Google, because their content is too thin and the meat of their business is really hard for an SEO then to to sustainably keep things going. So I think an SEO’s job is to help the brand build up. Isn’t it? Well, a good reason for an SEO to be there is to say, “Okay. You may not start with typing in Adidas, but you might start in saying best running shoe or whatever. But hopefully, eventually, Adidas or Nike or whatever other brand is going to get the love within there. And ultimately, you’re going to end up typing Nike or Adidas instead of best shoe, is the plan for the game, for the people.

But okay, where do quality rater guidelines come into play in all of this? So surely, there’s a user intent and the quality rater guidelines overlap in some way, shape or form? Do you think? So what I’m saying, are the quality rater guidelines, all those people running around checking on our results and stuff and seeing whether they’re working, or not checking on our results, checking on Google’s algorithms, surely that is a good methodology for Google to see whether user intent is being met. And I would say that that’s probably one of the highlights of why they’ve got the system in the first place. Are their algorithms satisfying user intent is probably one of the major things in the rater guidelines that they’re trying to check. I guess what my point is, is reading the quality rater guidelines, it’s 113 pages, do you think it’s worthwhile for SEOs?

Natalie Mott

Yes.

Jenny Halasz

Yeah, absolutely.

Dixon Jones

Do you think it’s going to help user intent?

Jenny Halasz

However-

Dixon Jones

Okay. All right.

Jenny Halasz

However… Yeah. Go ahead, Natalie.

Natalie Mott

Well, I just think it’s all really good in theory. You have an algorithm that’s supposed to be learning every day, and then you have a group of humans, a large group of humans quality assuring that, and that should work. Then how can we still have all of these SERPs that still don’t actually, they’re not right? And this isn’t me being annoyed about my clients not ranking well, which some people might argue it’s sour grapes. It’s not. Like you’ve got still so much spam in the SERP. It’s not quite working yet. It’s all very good in theory, but that’s my query over it really.

Dixon Jones

So do you think that the SERPs have got better or worse over the last five years?

Natalie Mott

I’m going to say that it depends. It depends on the VAS score.

It is dependent on the VAS score. Insurance now is pretty reliable and sensible, and those are the right people. Car insurance, those are the right sites ranking, aren’t they? But I’m working in the education sector at the moment. Sometimes it’s right, but sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for certain things outranking others. And that’s why I still think it’s a very sensible model, but I think it’s still got some way to go.

Dixon Jones

Jenny, anything on there?

Jenny Halasz

All right, so I’m going to date myself again here. A movie I’ve seen a million times is the Matrix. And if anybody’s not seen the Matrix, there’s the scene, I’ll try to sum it up really simply here. Basically, the Matrix is a digital virtual reality world. And the main character is in this world, knowing that he’s in it for the first time. And the other character says, “You have what we call residual self-image.” So he looks like he did when he lived in the world, or when he thought he lived in the world. He says it is the mental projection of your digital self.

And so to me, the quality raters guidelines are the mental projection of the digital self. So Google’s goal in where they want to be is mentally projected in the quality raters guidelines. It doesn’t mean they’re there, it doesn’t mean they use all of those signals necessarily in the algorithm, just that that’s where they want to be. And so I think that’s really important when you’re looking at the quality raters guidelines that you keep in mind that, just because, and here’s an example that Google has directly debunked, just because they say to their quality raters, “Check out this business’s reputation on the Better Business Bureau,” doesn’t mean that they use the Better Business Bureau in ranking. They don’t. They’ve come out specifically and said that they don’t. So I think grain of salt.

Dixon Jones

Really a bit of philosophy there. I love philosophy and these kind of things. I love it when it goes down there. And I think the whole Matrix thing is really blowing my mind at the moment, because I think as we’re getting ourselves into echo chambers, we’re starting to realize that, yeah, we actually do live in these kind of dream realities. And I’m reading Sapiens, I’m going away from SEO altogether for a second here. I’m reading Sapiens again for the second time now. And you kind of just start on chapter one, everything that humans do, is pretty much a myth.

Money, there’s no such thing as money. Company, there’s no such thing as a company. It’s just something that we’ve all agreed exists. It doesn’t exist. It’s not like a tree. You can’t hit it and stuff like that, which… So all of these stories, suddenly as soon as you all agree on them. But the problem is that we’re now going to this whole one form of truth, Google’s form of truth, or the knowledge graphs form of truth, or the Internet’s form of truth. And of course, cultures are clashing. We don’t have one form of truth. We can’t agree. And so we are somewhere off Google being able to give the best answer, the only answer every single time, because there is not always one answer coming back.

And life is more shades of gray than a machine is ever going to want to have, I think. And that’s where they could get things wrong as well. I think those philosophies are going to be harder for SEOs to get nuanced into things because Google is trying to get things into black and white form for the machines. Am I talking rubbish now? I’m sorry. I’ll stop.

Jenny Halasz

No, no. I love it. I need to keep my mouth shut here, because I’m going to totally derail the webinar, but we should grab a beer together and talk about this.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. If we can get back to Texas and have another beer in Dallas, that’d be great, Jenny, if they’ll ever let us on an airplane again. I don’t think they’re going to let us out of the UK for some time, actually, to be honest with you. And I just don’t think they’re going to let us into America for some time. My next thing is big bucks for Mexico in September, I think. Okay. Right. We’re sort of nearing the end of the time. David, I don’t know if there’s any questions that are on there.

David Bain

There’s a couple of questions that have come in… the user intent that some of my clients have, are terrified that actually competitors are stalking their website and stealing their ideas. Am I a SEO on page setup? Should that be a concern?

Jenny Halasz

No.

Imogen Davies

I think if people are stealing your content, then you’re doing it right, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that at all.

David Bain

Next up, Lauren Burton. Lauren Burton is saying, “What about the May update for other ranking factors like page speed? Is this May update going to affect page speeds? And what kind of things should be implemented just now to try and deal with that, if so?”

Dixon Jones

That’s Jenny, then.

Jenny Halasz

So that’s the core web vitals we were talking about. Page speed is already a factor in ranking. So you definitely need to nail that. But the core web vitals are going to be things like cumulative layout shift. And that one just really quickly is like when the page is loading. If it moves things around on the page, somebody might accidentally click on something that they didn’t mean to click on. And so Google doesn’t want that happening. But there’s a whole group of those things, and they all have confusing acronyms like TLS. But you want to address each of those things. So do a Lighthouse report, check out your Google core web vitals in Search Console, to identifying any pages that are having issues with that now, so that you can take care of them before May.

Dixon Jones

Lighthouse is a tool in Chrome. If you use the Inspect tool in Chrome, you’ll find it.

Natalie Mott

The other thing to add is that Google are trying to make it a little bit easier for webmasters by there is a, if people haven’t seen, there is a report in Search Console. It’s kind of sort of top line and will tell you if you’ve got pages that are poor in terms of core web vitals, medium or good. And that’s a place to start really. But it’s kind of to, because all the stuff in Lighthouse, there’s an awful lot to consider, core web vitals distills it down to three metrics. It should in theory make it easier for us to make the web better, but we’ll see.

David Bain

Another quick question from Rodrigo. A very specific question here saying, “What do you think about the GPT-3 open AI algorithm that is being used now to write human like copywriting with a focus on ranking SEO?” Is anyone aware of that?

Dixon Jones

Yeah, yeah. It scares the crap out of me.

Jenny Halasz

I think it’s awesome.

Dixon Jones

It is amazing, but… So there’s a really good article, for anybody that wants to track this down, the best place to go, The Guardian has an article that was written entirely by a machine and they just put in a keyword basically, and this new algorithm GPT-2 has been open source for a lot of people for a while. But GPT-3 is now only open to certain people. But basically, it can write the whole article. But you read the article, and it kind of makes sense, but it doesn’t really help answer the user’s intent. It doesn’t necessarily help the user intent.

So I think Google is going to have a little battle trying to figure out, and they’re going to have to put some effort into not assuming that the SEOs are going to be answering the user intent, because they’re going to be using these algorithms to create loads of content that look like they’re answering a question, but actually have got no depth to them at all. Because the more you read it, the more there’s blatant lies on there that are completely incoherent. I don’t know if you’ve played with it, Imogen or Natalie, but yeah, it’s a good question, because I think we’re going to find the black hats using that more and more pretty damn quick.

Imogen Davies

Yeah. I would say so. But I think that also just comes back to the need to really understand what the users are wanting. I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a stage where sort of AI or things like that are going to really take out the actual human part of writing content. It’s that emotional connection and it’s the actual purpose of writing content, it’s making it flow properly. So use it as a starter, but I wouldn’t get rid of your content team.

Jenny Halasz

So that’s a really interesting point, and I think that ties into kind of a prediction I made late last year, which is that I think we’re going to see a shift from content writing to content editing. Because there are tons of companies already that are using machine-generated content. Home Depot, for example. Almost all of their product content, machine-generated. So what they’re doing is they have the machine generate the content based on attributes of the product that are input by an individual. And then they take the content that the machine generates, and they edit it for tone and style. So I think we’re going to see a lot more of that as GPT-3 comes to the masses and improves.

Dixon Jones

I think it’s true. I think we should not assume that the machines aren’t going to beat us at our own game. They’re getting pretty good.

Jenny Halasz

I don’t know if they’re going to beat us, but they’re certainly going to-

Dixon Jones

I think where we still have the chance is innovation, we’re still ahead. I think machines are not so good at thinking up new ideas. Hopefully we’ll still as a species have some cards to play. But anyway, we’re getting back to philosophy. I see another question there.

David Bain

There’s a final question, that so if we’re writing for an audience that’s not around me, how to approach it, i.e. writing in India for an American audience as the example. That’s kind of related to what we’ve been discussing about there.

Dixon Jones

So yeah. Thanks very much to the person that’s asked it. I mean, I think if you’re… Here’s my tip. If you’re in India writing for a US audience, or in the US writing for an Indian audience or around the world, I would get yourself a VPN system. So basically, I do have on my computer the ability to suddenly be on an IP address in Canada or be on an IP address in Sweden, or be on an IP address in New Zealand or wherever it can be. Because then I can go to Google and I can see the search engine results and the conversation through the eyes of a person in that country.

Google does do quite a lot to try and get you to focus back on your own country, so there’s quite a lot of other tracking that’s going on. So maybe use a different browser for each country as well. But that’s my tip. If you’re starting out in a different country to the one that you’re writing for, firstly, learn what the people are actually reading in the country you’re actually in before you start writing and assuming that pants means trousers, because it doesn’t. In America, it means trousers, in the UK, it means something completely different.

Imogen Davies

Yeah. I think that’s a really good tip. I think the only thing I’d add to that is really understanding how people in different territories and different countries like to be spoken to, what kind of information they’d like to receive. And it goes back to, I’m going back to my psychology degree now. But I always use a thing called Hofstede Insights. And that essentially looks at different cultural dimensions, different understandings between different audiences, different geographies, different locations. And you can plot it in a couple of countries. You can do UK versus Germany, or India versus US.

Dixon Jones

How do you spell Hofstede? That really sounds really interesting.

Imogen Davies

Is there a chat function?

Dixon Jones

You go and look it up, and then I’ll… Sorry.

Jenny Halasz

Yeah. I’m like, “I want to know where that site is too.”

Imogen Davies

I’ll find it and put a link in the chat. It essentially gives a breakdown of how different people like to have information given to them basically, and what kind of cultural differences there are. So if you can understand that, and you can use the VPN to understand what’s ranking, that’s really going to give you the best shot.

Dixon Jones

Good tip. Excellent.

Jenny Halasz

And so just to add to that really quickly, I know we’re up on time. Think about cultural differences, not only from one country to another, but within the country as well. I know here in the US, we have a really big problem with inclusion and diversity. And if you have a content team that is all white men writing, then you really need some diversity in that team to make sure that you’re addressing other areas, other people that are going to be consuming your content.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. You want to jump in there, Natalie?

Natalie Mott

Again, I always go back to keyword research. I’m in the middle of doing content production for an Indian audience based in the UK and in education. And the kinds of questions that are asked are markedly different. They’re all in the English language but people do search very differently for what they’re looking for in the next stage of their education journey in India versus the USA or in the UK. And I would always start with the keyword research really.

Dixon Jones

Imogen, I’ll just spell it out for anybody that’s not on the live chat. H-O-F-S-T-E-D-E Insights. There’s a hyphen in there as well, but H-O-F-S-T-E-D-E. And I’ll be having a look at that and comparing countries sounds like a really cool thing. The only thing I would add is, we should try and work out whether to use a person’s first name or surname when you start emailing them, because it changes around the world. And the number of times I get, “Hi, Jones” coming in my emails, and that doesn’t work for me. But then I’m probably doing the same thing to my customers the other way as well. So probably something we should get right in our CRM systems.

Okay. So we’re pretty much up on time. Why don’t we just before we go, could you guys tell people how they can get in contact with you if they want to find out more about you guys, and make sure you plug your companies and things as well, just before we go? Imogen?

Imogen Davies

Yeah, absolutely. So my Twitter handle is pretty ridiculous, to be honest, but it’s @_imogendavies_. And you can get me on LinkedIn as well. I work at Found. We’re actually running a webinar next week with our partner Box UK on core web vitals as well. So if you want to find out more about that, then jump on, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll be on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Dixon Jones

Hopefully Brian saw that because that’s a question I didn’t get through to. I didn’t go on that one. Natalie?

Natalie Mott

Yeah. Pretty much Twitter and LinkedIn. My Twitter handle is @njmott, LinkedIn it’s just my name. Don’t look for my website because it’s not really ready, but you’ll find me on Google as well. Just don’t judge me.

Dixon Jones

Jenny?

Natalie Mott

I’m @jennyhalasz on Twitter. That’s the way it’s spelled. I abor and avoid LinkedIn at all costs. You can also find me on my website at jlh-marketing.com. Hit me up on Twitter, I’m on there all the time and love to chat about anything from food to SEO.

Dixon Jones

Fantastic. And thanks again to Majestic. What do we got next month, David? Have we figured out our title for next month?

David Bain

We have indeed. Jenny mentioned to me in this show that Majestic’s second and third level link information was phenomenal. And next month on the 3rd of March, we’re going to be asking the question, how useful are second and third tier links to your SEO success? So that’s 3rd of March at 5:00 PM GMT. Joining us for that one, we’re going to have Max Brockbank, we’re going to have Scott Anderson and Amel Mehenaoui. So that’s next month on the 3rd.

Dixon Jones

Fantastic.

Jenny Halasz

That’s a great panel. That’s exciting.

Dixon Jones

So guys, thank you. Just leave me. When I press the leave button, I think it all cuts off so we kind of I can’t sort of speak to you after the end of the session. But-

Jenny Halasz

No “green room”.

Dixon Jones

Thank you ever so much for coming on. We really appreciate your time. And I’ll hopefully see you in cyberspace and hopefully see you in real life sometime in 2021. Let’s hope.

Jenny Halasz

Everyone be well. Nice to meet you all.

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