SEO in 2022 Preview Show

We’ll be publishing a book called “SEO in 2022” soon, which features 66 of the world’s leading SEOs as they share their number #1 actionable tip for 2022.

Learn more about SEO in 2022 on Wednesday the 1st of December at 5pm GMT when Dixon Jones will be joined by Aiala Icaza Gonzalez from Reflect Digital, Michael Bonfils from SEM International, Jono Alderson from Yoast and Olga Zarzeczna from SEOSLY.

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Transcript

Dixon Jones

Hello and welcome to episode 23 of Old Guard, New Blood. And today we’re talking about SEO in 2022. And it’s a pretty special episode actually because as you know, these events are sponsored by Majestic but they’ve come up with this amazing book here, which David Bain, our producer has put together and it’s 320 odd pages of 66 of the world’s most renowned SEOs talking together with their best tips. But it’s not just that David has gone in and interviewed every single one of those people and delved into those tips. And I got this literally a few hours ago, so I think I’m the first person. David, our producer, have you even seen your own book in print yet?

David Bain

I haven’t. I haven’t seen it in print form. I’ve reviewed it quite a number of times in PDF form and Word form but you’re first. Yeah.

Dixon Jones

So it’s absolutely incredible piece of work and you should be very proud, David. And also thank you very much to four of the contributors who we’ve got on here to delve into a few of the ideas. Guys well, Jono, since you’re waving your hands about why not take off your microphone and tell us who you are and where you come from?

Jono Alderson

Thank you very much. I was trying to point at the other people here but I’m reversed to my camera. It’s all very confusing. And yeah, I’m Jono, I run special ops at Yost, which hopefully you’ve heard of. I’m a technical SEO. I’ve worked at various agencies and tool vendors. I like general web technology and increasing the structured data and schema and performance side of SEO. So yeah, lots of fun toys to play with.

Dixon Jones

Okay. And Aiala, why don’t you tell us who you are and where you come from?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

Sure. So my name is Aiala, I’m from Spain but I’ve been living abroad for the last 10 years. I just came back because of the pandemic. I’m a CEO director at Reflect, an agency in the UK and I’ve pretty much been in every single sector you can imagine. I’ve worked with fashion, e-com, automotive, whatever. And lately is when I’ve been able to finally start digging into what I really like of SEO, that is the human side of SEO. So yeah, that’s pretty much me.

Dixon Jones

All right. We’ll come onto that when we find your tip, of course. Okay. And Olga, how are you? Say hello and where do you come from?

Olga Zarzeczna

I am great. So I come from Poland. I am a technical SEO specialist. I have my own small consulting agency called SEOSLY. And also I am a freshly made SEO director at Market JD in Chicago. And my interest is mostly in technical SEO, SEO auditing. I love crawling sites and looking for a lot of different errors and things to improve. And that’s why Google Search Console is also one of my favorite SEO tools. I’m very happy to be here.

Dixon Jones

You’re very, very welcome. Thank you very much for coming along. And finally, we got Michael, who’s been around longer than me in SEO, Michael, how are you?

Michael Bonfils

I’m good. How are you? Thank you for having me. This is fun. Yeah. Like Dixon said, I’ve been around since I started my search career in October of 97. And I think that’s when Dixon was born or right before he was born. I think he was born the year after. That’s what you’re saying.

Dixon Jones

I look that young.

Michael Bonfils

So anyways, I run a global digital marketing agency. We do a lot of SEO on a multilingual international front. Since I’ve been in the space for so long and I’ve pretty much seen everything and been involved with a lot of things from ridiculous massive migrations to simple infancy local jobs. So I’ve pretty much seen it all. Been involved with it all. And I guess I’m considered one old schools are old boy guys on the call. Embarrassing enough. I don’t look it, I think Dixon looks older than me.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. Yeah, I do. Thanks because I don’t live in California, that’s why. And so it’s snowing outside. Anyway. David, thank you very much for putting all this together. And you’ve put a website out, we’ve got a whole web domain for this project as well. So why don’t we tell people where they go if they want to get more about this book?

David Bain

Sure, absolutely. So the domain name is seoin2022.com to go to, that’ll forward you to somewhere on the Majestic website, It’ll tell you all about the project. It’ll ask you to sign up. You should actually really sign up to watch the launch live stream. We’re going to be doing a launch live stream next Tuesday, which is Tuesday the 7th of December from 100 PM to 500 PM GMT. So that starts at, what time does it start at in the States, it starts at 800 AM Eastern Standard Time and we’ll finish four hours after that. So come and join us for that if you can do. 39 of the book’s contributors will actually be joining me live for that one as well. So it’s going to be a great experience. As you said, Dixon, it’s available as a series of videos, as a book, as a podcast series as well. So whatever is your preference format, you can consume it in.

Dixon Jones

Brilliant. Excellent. So let’s dive into it then guys and take a few of the tips and just show people a little bit of what’s in there. I was going to start with you Olga because the tip that you, I know that you haven’t got a copy of the book, so you may have forgotten what the tip was. So I’ll read it out. It was, always start any SEO analysis from Google Search Console, whenever you find land a new client or undertake an audit of a new site, the first thing you should ask is for access to Google Search Console and go through all of the reports. So Olga, why don’t you tell us, why do you start there? What’s your thought processes for starting there?

Olga Zarzeczna

So I always start there because this is basically what Google sees in our sites. And we, in most cases, we care about Google the most and we can, of course, we should use other tools, crawl our sites with other tools as well but the things that Google wants us to pay special attention to are there in Google Search Consoles. And these are different types of things that we as SEOs are interested in, like the information about the keywords for which our site is shown, the real data about out the organic traffic of our site, that’s coming to our site, all the index ability issues. What’s indexed, what’s not indexed.

We can also say if there are, for example, quality issues with our site, if a lot of our new posts pages go to the discovered currently not indexed bucket or quote currently not index bucket as well. We can also see the real data user information regarding the speed of the site. I mean, the Google page experience report, current vitals report. So basically everything that Google pays special attention to is there. That’s why I always think we should start with taking a look at the possible errors that we see there and then maybe, yeah, sorry.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, no. I was going to say, I think that makes a lot of sense to start with the obvious stuff that Google is already telling you because quite often, if there’s something horribly wrong in the site, then Google’s telling you right that second. So, it makes sense. You guys all use Google Search Console, I’m guessing. It’s probably teaching you all to suck eggs there I imagine but you’d all agree. Just a nod in there. The other thing I think is quite good about that idea is that in order to do that, of course the customer or prospect, if they’re not the customer about has to show some willing because they’ve got to give you access to it.

And the mere fact that they give you access to it changes the relationship in the new business relationship particularly. And you have some insight that anybody else that’s just looking in doesn’t have. So I think it’s a brilliant idea to go in there. Anyway, guys, the rest of you, what are your favorite bits of Google Search Console? Any bit that’s standing out for you? They’ve just changed the look and feel of it recently, I think.

Jono Alderson

I guess yeah, the new design is not the most exciting bit. Well, this is one of the frustrations, is it’s such a powerful tool and the so much stuff in there, especially with the core reports and the error reporting. I quite often find things in there that I don’t pick up quickly and obviously from things like crawling tools and ranking tools but I really wish that they would work more on expanding that and giving us a great API suite. But no, they’ll redesign it instead. So yeah, great tool but if only it were greater.

Dixon Jones

So you want Google Search Console in an API form, do you?

Jono Alderson

Oh yeah, yeah please.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. Well, us mere mortals should just be right with the way of interface, I think so no. Brilliant. Yeah, no, I think that’s an excellent first tip and thanks for starting there. I think it’s a good place for us to start. And also of course it’s a free tool, so why wouldn’t you? I mean, Google giving it to free. But to your point then, Jono, you alluded to the fact that Google could show us so much more than they do. Do you think part of that is, Olga, do you think part of that is Google’s intention. They don’t want to show you absolutely everything or do you think that they’re just showing the stuff that they can consistently give to everybody?

Olga Zarzeczna

I think that maybe they’re afraid of showing us too much because SEOs usually if they see that something works, then they may abuse it. And I think that maybe this is part of their fear that if they give us too much, then we will start spamming things out.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, there’s an SEO, I don’t know if he’s in the book, Tony Wright, who said to me at a PubCon once, the problem with SEOs and bright, shiny things is that we just break them. So as soon as Google gives us any you bit of information, we’ll just, we’ll crucify it to death until it’s a disaster area. And we’re not good for that, I think. So yeah, not our strongest strategy. Okay. Thanks very much, Olga, brilliant. Let’s move on to Aiala’s because I think yours was totally different as a tip and I’m really, I’d love to dive in more so just for the audience, Aiala’s tip was increasing human focus on our SEO strategy through human behavior and cognitive biases is not as complicated as it sounds. Sounds pretty complicated to me. So Aiala firstly, explain cognitive biases and why is that something that we need to pay attention to in SEO?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

So first of all, I’m really sorry. You’ll see a toy flying here is my cat that is playing.

Dixon Jones

But those on the iTunes podcast going to be a messed up but…

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I’m so sorry for that. Yeah, they’re going to miss that. So cognitive bias, the thing is, they sound like really fancy terms but in reality, this is really simple. So pretty much cognitive bias means that we’re going to pretty much pay attention to everything that reinforce our beliefs. So let’s try to pick a topic that is not too, I don’t know how to say it right now. The cat is playing me.

Dixon Jones

Not too controversial.

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

Yeah. Controversial, that’s the word. So let’s say and I can’t think of any topic that is not controversial right now.

Dixon Jones

Okay, okay. Piers, piers, whether you go for a Brighton pier which is very, very famous or the Ethiopian pier Addis Ababa, which is much more important in the world but no one ever talks about.

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

So obviously you think Brighton is better because I mean that’s what you believe on. That’s what you think of. I’m sorry. I’m losing the track now. So she only wakes up when I’m talking by the way.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. Fair enough.

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

So yeah, so pretty much what this says is that when you’re looking to find out, okay, should I go to Brighton or the other one, you’re only going to focus your attention on whatever it tells you, what you believe in, which is Brighton is better than the other one. So this is cognitive bias. How we tend to just think like, oh my, I don’t know if another thing would be a football club. My football club is the best one because it’s been always here. It’s always been in the first division, this, this and that. So you are only going to look for information that actually says, yes, you are right. Your football team is the best one in the world because once it won a championship, so that would be cognitive bias.

Dixon Jones

So, how do we, when we understand that, how do we make use of that or knowledge or that understanding and how do we adapt our SEO strategies? Are we trying to reduce cognitive bias or increase cognitive bias?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I mean, ideally we would reduce it first on ourselves. So what we were just discussing right now, whenever SEOs get something, we tend to exploit it to the max, let’s say Core Web vitals. We just did that. All of us would mental with it. It was like, “Oh my gosh, we need to fix it.” And now we’re all like, “Maybe we don’t have to go that crazy with it.” So we are the first ones that we need to review our strategy and be like, “Okay, are we actually doing our strategy based on our own cognitive bias? Because we think this is only important and because all my research is going to this guy that is telling me, yes, you’re doing the right thing or should we actually expand our horizons as a SEOs or digital marketers in general because in the end, this is what it’s important.” We’re digital marketers. We’re not just SEO. We’re working with other people in other channels that are impacting the same website.

Dixon Jones

So, how do we do that? How do we reduce our own cognitive bias?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

Well, what I’ve done in my experience is sitting with other people from our departments and try to understand what they do, have a better perspective or a global perspective of the website of how it works. Who’s doing what, trying to understand how it impacts. And of course, sitting down with other SEOs, even if you think they’re not right. Sit with them, try to understand them. Why do they think how they do? Maybe they actually have proof on something that’s worked for them, just try to be open to everything out there.

Dixon Jones

I think it’s great. If anyone’s got any ideas of any areas of cognitive bias they think want to bring in, then great. But David, I’d like to just come in with, to you and say that those 66 ideas, you’ve gone all around the world for those ideas. And you say at the start of your book, that you were surprised at how different those 66 ideas were. Do you think some of that success was the fact that you’ve got a very broad selection of people? I mean, it helps that, I guess you’ve got a lot from Majestic’s user base and this in 12 languages, perhaps that has helped to reduce the bias.

David Bain

Yeah. I think it has helped certainly, you try and have a, as broader cross section of different types of SEOs involved but I also purposely asked everyone exactly the same question. What’s your number one SEO tip for 2022. And it’s interesting that everyone, almost everyone gave me a different answer. And even if they gave me a similar answer, it was notably different in terms of actions, so essentially everyone’s tip was entirely different. And I think probably a more pertinent question would be, what would be everyone’s tip if you’d asked them 18 years ago, when I first got involved in SEO? And I think back then, you’d only had maybe about three or four different topics. It would’ve been very unlikely to have so many different tips but nowadays SEO is just so broad and there’s so much involved in SEO. It’s wonderful that you can ask the one question and get so many different answers.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, absolutely. Anyone else seen examples of bias in the system that we can fix easily? Michael, can I jump in on you because you’re quiet?

Michael Bonfils

I’m not sure. I mean, when I look at the book and I see a theme that is similar, so there’s a commonality there but they’re all different answers but there’s commonality and it almost falls apart. But when I went through the book last night, I’m reading through everything and I’m like, “Wow, everybody’s focusing on the customer.” They’re not focusing so much on technicalities as much as before, they’re focusing on the customer. And I know for myself, I’m focusing on the customer, so I’m seeing these commonalities but I haven’t seen where there was such vast differences in the technology and so forth.

Dixon Jones

Well, we’ll change that when we get to Jono, I’m sure. But one of the interesting things that I’ve seen about cognitive bias is I am concerned or have been concerned about how the learning machines, machine learning is going to start making errors based on human errors. I don’t know if this is something that anyone’s got any observations on but as you build systems like Wikipedias or opinion based, well, webpages are written by human beings, they come with opinion. And then the learning systems are based on those kinds of technologies. And so that’s why I suggested the peer in Addis Ababa versus the peer in Brighton.

There’s a lot of SEOs in Brighton that write about being a Brighton SEO. There’s not a lot of merchants who are running millions and millions of dollars worth of goods in and out of the capital of Ethiopia every day. And they’re not talking about that. So therefor, we lose perspective because the the peer in Brighton has burnt down. It hasn’t been there for 30 years. So that was my point there. But Jono, you were nodding your head. I mean, do you see not potential for bias to come into the machine learning systems?

Jono Alderson

Yeah, certainly. And we’re already see a lot of flavors in this, in SEO in particular where nobody truly understands how the system works other than in broad generalities. So everybody chases everyone else’s tail, everybody copies each other’s tactics and we’re left with a space where every major brand in every major sector looks and behaves the same way. We have no idea if that’s inherently good, we have no idea if they could perform twice as well, if they did something radically different, they all have the same meta descriptions, the same templates, the same products, the same language in tone, I can’t help but think that the more AI machine learning we inject into that, the more we just spin that same wheel faster and we optimize ourselves into a homogenous suit. And then maybe the answer is something radically different is how you compete. And maybe machine learning generative systems aren’t a great tool or tactic first, maybe they make things easier and faster to produce and to manage but not necessarily in the right direction. I don’t think sure enough about any of this.

Dixon Jones

Potentially they’ll make us more homogenous instead of more diverse. And they could in the long term not be great, although it’s probably, who knows it’s going to be an interesting thing there. But there was another side Aiala, that you said in that. You said, strategies that are focusing on human behavior and cognitive biases are not as complicated as they sound. So how do SEOs concentrate on human behavior? Where does the overlap happen between SEO and human behavior?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I mean, it’s just experience included of course but it’s everything, the whole website, we’re creating it for humans, we’re not creating it for Google. And this is what I always say nowadays and this is what Michael was saying, all of us, the commonality that we have is that we’re talking about humans because we’re creating these websites for humans. The content is for humans. So obviously everything we do there from the sites structure, from the navigation, the colors, the content itself, how we present the content, the images, everything is for humans. So we need to understand all these different psychological, let’s call it patterns behaviors, to create this, I’m not going to say perfect but as close as possible to the humans we’re trying to connect with because in the end, what we’re trying to get is this emotional connection with them so that they end up buying our product service, whatever we’re selling them, our recipe, I don’t care.

So this is what we’re trying to do. And this is why it’s so important to understand, first of all, which personas we’re talking to, what are their needs? What are their problems? How can we solve those things? And of course, everything else that has to do with the website. And I repeat myself, images included because I’ve seen so many times in Asian countries, a lot of white people, I’m like very Asia guys, don’t put white people here.

Dixon Jones

So, I mean, are there any types of tool that you like for doing that? Are you a fan of a crazy egg or eye tracking software or anything like that or does it not really matter what tools you use?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I’m going to say right now and it’s going to sound really bad but I’m the spoiled one. So pretty much I have a team that are experts on this. They’re psychology majors. They’re passionate about digital. So they do all the research, they come to me and they’re like, “Aiala, I found this.” And we’re like, “Okay, let’s work together on how to connect it with SEO.” Or in other teams it’s with paid. So we usually work together but they do all the-

Dixon Jones

Brilliant, they do all the tools. Go on what a luxury, what a luxury.

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I am a spoiled one.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Let’s go on then. Michael because we’re going to get a little bit more granular now and a little more technical because or not technical but granular because Michael, your tip was, look at first party data as a way to enable better content strategy for your SEO plans. What do you mean by that? Let’s dive into that a little bit more.

Michael Bonfils

Okay. So this is, I mean, this is a perfect segue with what Aiala just said. So it goes right into the human connection to psychographics, to behaviors, to all things that you can possibly do. And by the way, you just triggered something. One thing that you said about eye tracking studies and Dixon, you know me with my awkward moments. But I did have a very awkward moment where I had to present an eye tracking software to a marketing director who had a lazy eye. And I swear I was the most awkward presentation I ever did.

Dixon Jones

Bit of cognitive bias assumption coming in there.

Michael Bonfils

Yes, exactly. So we’ll take Starbucks. I want to use Starbucks as a great example of first party data and how it can be used. Starbucks has done a brilliant job of utilizing its data, its app, its loyalty programs to understand their customers so much that now we can go into a Starbucks and if we are a regular there they’ll often have our drink ready with our name on it. Now we can order ahead. We have that experience where we can go into a store and that store knows us well enough or at least technically knows us well enough to know what we want. And so Starbucks may not great coffee but the user experience is brilliant. So if you take that perspective-

Dixon Jones

God, I didn’t know they do that. That scares the bejesus out of me. I don’t want that.

Michael Bonfils

Yeah. But every, I mean I am such a loyal fan of Starbucks and I know that Starbucks coffee isn’t that great. And it doesn’t really wake me up and I’m willing to pay $6 and 50 cents for a coffee. But it’s ridiculous that, it’s like, I know I can go there. I know they know what I want and they have my name on the cup. It feels like they know me when I walk in.

Dixon Jones

They’ve usually got a name on the cup. It’s usually a misspelling, isn’t it?

Michael Bonfils

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Even Michael is misspelled but hey, you know what? It’s not as bad. So I’ll give you a comparison with Google. So me logged into YouTube versus Starbucks. Starbucks may spell my name wrong and I may walk into Starbucks but they get me a lot more than Google does. When I go to Google for example, I have this new girlfriend and she looked at my YouTube and she’s like, “What the hell? What the hell are you looking at?” There is dinosaur videos from my son who logs in, my mom logs into my account and watches Chinese soap operas, my daughter watches, put this little makeup girl that I always talks about things. And then I’ve got you Dixon all mixed up in all of these videos. And so Google-

Dixon Jones

I’d be worried that your new girlfriend is already looking at your feed on YouTube. That’s always a dangerous setting.

Michael Bonfils

Think she’s trying to find out what’s wrong with me. So, you have all of this big data, like Jono said, there is a chance for this to go really, really wrong. Google is using all of this data. They have tons of data on me but do they really, really completely understand me? They’re getting closer all the time with machine learning and understanding my behavior. You already see that personalization coming out in your results. If you are a Stanford researcher, when you start researching a topic, your results logged in are different than my results because I’m not a researcher. So you’re already seeing Google move to that perspective of trying to understand the customer. This in a way is good, in a way it’s bad, it’s bad because a lot of companies are depending on Google to run their data for them.

And they’re still defaulting to the third party data tactics rather than focusing on their customers. So my tip was focused on the first party data, which means find out who your customers are, get to know them from a psychographic behavior. So I studied this book called The People Code that understands behaviors by motive. And there are four different segments. There’s people that, for example, when they buy and when they search and when they absorb content, they have zero, zero patience to do so. Others are heavy researchers and they want the research.

And the problem with us SEOs is depending on your own psychographic behavior, you think what you wrote was hot shit. But if you don’t know your customers, you may find out that half your customers don’t like what you wrote. And often you have other team members that are like you, so they think your stuff is hot stuff as well. So the point is, is how do you develop a relationship with your customers, understand your customers, you have that first party data and then start developing content that actually appeals to each one of them from every viewpoint that you can?

Dixon Jones

I think that’s a really useful tip but I also wonder, you make the point and it feeds back to Aiala’s bit and also the cognitive bias bit, as an SEO, do we break the system by being SEOs? Is it a little bit like Schrodinger’s dog? Is it where, because we are working for a client, so therefore we are looking up, in your case, videos of dinosaurs or your son’s looking up dinosaurs so that’s another problem. But we are looking up sometimes things that we are not naturally interested in.

Is that then messing up the data that we are seeing, that we are then trying to apply to the next customer because the next time we look at something, let’s say we look at something in fashion one day and the next day, you’re looking at something in casinos. And all of a sudden, you’re getting results that have got, that are tailored to the fashion market in the results. Aiala, is that likely to be a problem, do you think? Do you think SEOs are getting, as we say in Britain hoisted by your own petard?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I have no clue what that expression means.

Dixon Jones

No, that’s right. I’m not sure it’s a very good expression to use anyway but basically we’re getting because of what we’re doing, we are not getting good data. Do you think there’s a risk?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

There is, obviously, mainly with people that or SEOs that don’t, as what we said before, they don’t get out of their bubble because they tend to just look as at what Michael was saying, their own hot stuff. They don’t get out of it. So yeah. A hundred percent.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. And Olga, I mean, is there any first party data, there’s not really that much first party data in Google Search Console. Do you guys, do you or Jono, do you guys use first party data very much to help you in any part of SEO?

Olga Zarzeczna

So I mainly work with Google Search Console and I have also recently started using Microsoft Clarity and actually watching recordings of people of what they’re doing, what they’re clicking, whether there is some rage clicking happening. And this is very insightful.

Dixon Jones

I think that’s a really interesting tool. I must admit, I’ve played with that a little bit and it’s interesting and you can just leave it there and come back in a few months and it suddenly tells you new things that you didn’t know. So yeah, that’s a really good way to have a look at your actual users and what they’re doing on the site. I’d agree, that’s a, that’s a great way to use things. But Jono, you can also use first party data, things like people are using and see what people are typing in your own search box and those kind of things, can’t you?

Jono Alderson

Yeah. So onsite analytics is massively underutilized, still. So many sites just have an out the box Google analytics setup, and yes, that will count how many people came to your site but very little more. Now obviously you’ve got to be careful with privacy and GDPR and all various legal frameworks around that. But when you start to explore what you can do, for example, on yes.com we track when people print pages, as an arbitrary example but something like 5,000 people every month print off our blog posts and guides and presumably then go on to read them offline.

And then you can say, “Okay, that’s really interesting.” Who are all these people that have a type of need and consume our content in a way that we would never have expected? What can we learn? How can we market differently? How can we better support their needs? And then we’ve got learn these examples. We track when people leave certain types of content, certain types of sites, we track when people copy paste bits of content from the site. And yes, all of this is done in aggregate anonymously but we can start to learn tons about how people interact which is really useful.

Dixon Jones

Michael, what kind of data… Yeah. Go on. Yeah.

Michael Bonfils

Yeah. Just, I mean, Jono you’re spot on, I mean, you have two things here, two side sticks and you have all of the data that Google collects and so forth that is messing things up because people are moving from one thing to the next and then you have first party data that belongs to you. These are your customers that have signed up, they belong to you. There’s a couple things that I loved about the book. Well, there’s a lot of things I love about this book. Mike King’s statement on focus your content on what the audience actually wants. Not how many words on a page, which goes hand in hand with what Eli Schwartz said about stop focusing on keyword research and start focusing on what the audience is actually looking forward to.

Duane Forrester says, “Focus on user intent.” Motoko says, “Focus on local audience and personalize the experience for them.” So you see that thing throughout the book, which is really, what Aiala said, I means really focusing on your customer and in when you develop content, especially around SEO, focusing on that one customer. Yeah, there may be authoritative big old school ways of doing things that are going away but really focusing on your customers, going to in the long run, win you a lot of business for the future.

Dixon Jones

And I think the last thing I’d like to point out on using first party data, it is fundamentally, what’s going to make you different, isn’t it to anybody else and as a product? Because you are talking to the converted in many ways and you are finding, I guess me too’s but by working with your customer base, they’re going to take you in a direction that is going to be slightly different to every other company out there and possibly very different to every company out there, if you’re lucky and then become that unicorn. So that’s great. All right. Last but not least Jono, can you remember what you said? Shall I read it out for you? No, I will read it out for you.

Jono Alderson

I had to go back and double check because I’d ramble so much about this sort of thing and-

Dixon Jones

Not a problem.

Jono Alderson

It was about getting the foundations right, wasn’t it?

Dixon Jones

I’m going. No, it was, well it was, yes. Okay. You could argue that yes. But stop looking at technical debt as something we have to fix and technical SEO is a way to prevent errors and start looking at it as something that we can compete on. So let’s start with this thing about technical debt then. So just for those that need it, what is technical debt and why do you think it’s not debt it’s profit? Or whatever the opposite of debt is.

Jono Alderson

Sure. So you have a finite amount of resource and an infinite amount of things you want to do. And in order to meet your goals and get through the month and ship some stuff, you make some compromises, you hack some coding, you do something not as well as you ought to. You don’t take the time to think about what might a better version look like and you cut corners. And over a time, that means that every additional thing you want to do is slower or more expensive or more complicated and more likely to break. And that is the case for every business and every website and everything that has ever been made in all of humanity.

And periodically you go, let’s wipe the slate blank and start again, burn it all down, go. I think that doesn’t need to be the way that we operate in SEO. I think that most of technical SEO is a solved problem and that we are unnecessarily spending time and money and resource fighting and fixing and iterating and com competing with our own technical debt. When we ought to be investing time in improving our brands and our products and our storytelling. I think the most exciting thing about technical SEO is we don’t need it. Well, we do need it but it’s done. We don’t need to worry about it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. These are all solved problems.

Dixon Jones

Which is a lot of the problems I’d say are solved. And obviously, I mean, you have a tool that’s very good for solving some of those problems. And I’m sure that, that’s, part of your messaging but surely there are problems that are not solved by tools but the tools maybe highlight them for you and then you do need to get into the coalface and start fixing them surely.

Jono Alderson

Yeah. Potentially though, even things you could argue, like all the examples like can think of, for example, at Nurse, I’ve got an eCommerce store and a product has gone out of stock and now there is a 404 error. These are examples where business processes should exist. These aren’t technical SEO errors, these are business process errors. We shouldn’t be living in a world where it’s normal and acceptable for us to have to invest thousands of hours a month and millions of dollars per month in fixing 404 errors flash stock products or finding broken links or making our slow sites faster when somebody from the marketing team uploaded a 10 megabyte gift to a page, all of these are things which shouldn’t happen and don’t need to happen if we have the right tooling and purchases in place.

Dixon Jones

But isn’t that a good example of something, I’m picking on you because I know you can throw it back to me 10 times worse. But isn’t that example of we’re out of stock 404, a very good example of a technical debt that if somebody had done it right in the first place and had the time to do it right, they would never have had that 404 at that point, it would’ve gone to a catchery page or search page at the very least or something appropriate other than an out of stock message.

Jono Alderson

Yeah, absolutely. And for all of these types of examples, there are really only two reasons why they continue to persist. One is increments, which is forgivable. Not everybody can know everything. Everything moves very quickly and is very complicated. And knowing what you don’t know is very, very hard. And the other is arrogance, that as an industry, we are obsessed by solving these problems ourselves and reinventing the wheel and continually hacking and tweaking. Like we have this vision of ourselves as these master hackers and webmaster tinkering at the code and building stuff when actually all of that resource ought to be invested elsewhere and building on stuff like WordPress and AMP and other technologies like that, mean that we can shift all of that focus to better places.

Dixon Jones

So what you’re saying is there is usually a technology that will do everything for you and stuff that will do things for you, you don’t need to. I guess really when it comes down to it, these computers are made up of ones and zeros and hex code and we gave up most of that a long time ago, except for you, Jono.

Jono Alderson

Yeah. Well, it’s an interesting, so that’s one of the points is in the same way, very few businesses operate their own power plants and you probably don’t make your own soap or your own toothpaste. There are utility level things which we just trust to outsource like all that infrastructure stuff. There are companies and technologies, which are much better suited to solving those problems than we are. And given that we have a finite amount of time and resource and attention, it doesn’t makes sense for us to be saying, “You know what, I’m going to have a team of developers working for months on ends trying to build something visionary and Gatsby or some headless monstrosity.” Which will lightly never see the light of day and spend a decade trying to unpick versus saying, “Actually let’s build on established framework. Let’s use open source. Let’s build on top of stuff that people have already solved. And then we can focus our energy elsewhere.”

And then you get to the point where rather than that being a cost center and a drain, you start to compete in it. So for example, I run my website on WordPress. I use the AMP plugin, which is developed largely by employees from Google. Whilst I sleep people who work at Google are improving my website for free so that I rank better in Google. You cannot compete with that. No matter how many developers you throw at it, you can’t move as fast, you don’t have the expertise. You don’t know what you don’t know. And your IT director probably thinks he knows better, even though he doesn’t. And so all of these cost centers and drains just become baggage that hold you down whilst you’re competitors zoom ahead. We don’t need to be worrying about any of this, it’s all solved.

Dixon Jones

I love it. So it’s object orientated programming for SEO. Object orientated-

Jono Alderson

Oh absolutely.

Dixon Jones

OOSEO. You see, you’re going to have to change the name of the business from Yost SEO lead to OOSEO. And Aiala, I mean, that’s interesting because that I think that’s, you make an interesting point, which we see just in the group that we got here. So I’ll go your technical SEO, you’re looking at the detail of stuff. And then on the other end we got Aiala, who’s got a team of people and she’s got somebody that deals with the PPC side, somebody that deals with the UX, somebody that deals with the I’ve got customers that are unhappy side and stuff. So, she’s got to this luxurious point, probably not always luxurious because you can’t actually fix a problem when it’s too deep and you can’t get to it and you’ve got other problems but you’ve… Aiala, do you think you’ve got to this Nirvana of just having these groups of SEO specialisms that you can call upon?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

I mean, Nirvana it’s real. No, I’m joking. No, I’m just lucky that I have some specialists that are helping me there, obviously, as I’m still hands on, I’m still getting into the technical fixes because as Jono was saying, we shouldn’t be dealing with 404s yet we are dealing with 404s. So yeah. I mean, eventually we will all get better but still have to deal with these tiny things that I think as Jono was saying, it’s mainly, it’s progress. Oh my gosh. I want to say the word now. It’s a process, that’s the word. It’s a process.

I remember I did have a client that I managed to get somehow a process for them but it’s complicated. So no, this Nirvana doesn’t really exist. We still have to be hands on, get dirty, go for the keyword research and this silly, let’s call it silly fixes, which I mean, ideally we would be spending time on AMP or taking the, I don’t know, other new ways to improve how our websites are viewed on mobile because I’m surprised that in Europe we still have problems with that but no, we don’t have time for that.

Dixon Jones

Guys, so that’s just four tips out of 66 experts in the book. So just before I go back to David to remind us how we get hold of the book, how we can see all these videos, I’m going to see you all sorts of other bits and pieces. How can people get a hold of you guys. Jono, how do people get ahold of you? If they want to know more?

Jono Alderson

Twitter’s good @jonoalderson or my website www.jonoalderson.com or jono@yost.com.

Dixon Jones

Okay, cool. Michael, how would they find you?

Michael Bonfils

You can, well, there’s a couple ways. LinkedIn it’s Michael Bonfils, Twitter it’s Michael Bonfils, email mbonfils@seminternational.com (B-O-N-F-I-L-S) and of course my phone number (714) 222-0605.

Dixon Jones

Excellent. And I’ve got a picture of your password number as well. I think you’ve shown that before. So pretty much I’m going to be Michael Bonfils from here on in. Sorry about your car. We can get you another one, I’m just going to take that one. Olga, I’m going to sell it. Olga, how do they get hold of you guys?

Olga Zarzeczna

So I’m on Twitter, it’s Olga Zarzeczna. I know people have problems pronouncing my name. So just type it. I am also present on LinkedIn and of course I invite you to visit my site seosly.com.

Dixon Jones

So it’s Olga, O-L-G-A for those that are on iTunes or Spotify or all the other things, it’s Olga Z-A-R-Z-E-C-Z-N-A. So you won’t even remember that now I’ve just said it on the podcast side, that’s enough. Anyway, it’ll be so much easier when we go to Aiala Icaza Gonzalez, won’t it?

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

Super easy. My parents didn’t think it through, I guess. But yeah, you can mainly find me on LinkedIn. I’m not on Twitter. I’m not that social, I guess. Yeah, my LinkedIn is Aiala Icaza, so it’s A-I-A-L-A I-C-A-Z-A.

Dixon Jones

Which is so straightforward for us, English people around here.

Aiala Icaza Gonzalez

It’s crazy.

Dixon Jones

Anyway, guys, thank you ever so much. I’m going to bring David back in. David again, it’s a brilliant piece of work. There’s a lot of stuff in there. I mean, I think it’s only Michael and I so far that have seen the book but oh no, no you’ve got the PDF version haven’t you Michael? So you I’m the olnly one with a hard copy of the book. So there we go. But once again, David, how do people get hold of the book and how do people see it?

David Bain

Sure. seoin2022.com is the simplest place to go to. You can just sign up for email updates, make sure if you can to attend this launch live stream, that’s going to be incredible on Tuesday the 7th, 1PM GMT for that. But when you sign up there, you’ll also get information about the podcast, the audio podcast. The video series, that’s going to be published on YouTube very, very soon. As we’re speaking, the audio podcast has actually just gone live on Apple Podcast. So if you search SEO in 2022 on Apple Podcast, then you’ll actually be able to hear 60 of the episode so far on that. You’ll have one a day being published until the 7th of December as well.

And that’ll take it up to the 66 people taking part. So that’s this series. So please try and be part of that. If you can. I just want to share as well, the first episode for next year for Old Guard New Blood. We’re going to be doing an episode on the 5th of January, same time, 500 PM GMT, 1200 PM, Eastern Standard Time. For that one, Dixon’s going to be joined by Andy Drinkwater, Lidia Infante and Rejoice Ojiaku. And everyone’s going to be talking about their SEO strategy for 2022, how they set their SEO strategy for 2022. So that should be a great episode as well, to sign up for that one, go to majestic.com/webinars.

Dixon Jones

Excellent. So guys, thank you very much for coming onto this very special Christmas, first Christmas edition, really of Old Guard New Blood. And it’s been a delight to have you here. Thank you Aiala for the cat and I look forward to seeing you all in cyber space or hopefully at a conference, if we can all get there sometime next year. Bye guys. Thanks.

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