How to scale your organic reach and turn readers into customers
[00:00:00] Aadil Razvi: Awesome. Everybody gives some love to our speakers as they join us on stage. We have the co-founder at Clearscope, the leading SEO content optimization tool. He was the 500 startups marketer-in-residence responsible for SEO. He's consulted for DoorDash, Strava, AllTrails and other high growth companies, played online poker professionally. And co-owned a barbecue restaurant franchise.
Please give a warm welcome to Bernard Huang. He could choose in the chat. I love it.
And we have the author of Product-Led SEO and he's a growth advisor to high growth startups like Coinbase, Gusto, Mixpanel and Quora. And he was previously the Director of Growth at SurveyMonkey.
Please give a warm welcome to Eli Schwartz.
Awesome. All right. Just give you all a little bit of the lay of the land here. We're gonna go through some high level questions about SEO and kind of the state of SEO today. And then we're gonna get into more tactical advice, more specific things around SEO.
Ask about some resources and then maybe get to some audience questions, if we have some time. You can use the Q&A function in the chat in order to ask questions that we may have time to get to at the end.
Let's go ahead and kick things off at a high level, when do you know that SEO is even a right channel to invest in?
Is SEO for everyone? And who should actually be paying attention to this? I'll start with Eli.
[00:01:37] Eli Schwartz: SEOs not for everyone. Billboards aren't for everyone. And even if billboards are for everyone, the right billboards are not for everyone. There was a company I worked for and when I was working there, we were begging them to do out of home advertising, to advertise on buses and subways and, those kinds of things.
And they never wanted to do it. They said it wasn't worth while. And I was recently in New York and they finally did take out a billboard, but 80 miles from New York City. So that was a waste of time and completely useless. And SEO's kind of the same thing. You shouldn't just do SEO because you should do SEO.
Like you would need to have a user story or persona, a reason someone would wanna search for you and click through and buy from you. And if they're not going to, it's like taking out a billboard 80 miles from New York City. You've checked ox, but you're wasting your money. You know it. Again, it has to make sense and many companies that I look at that they've done SEO, they've got no ROI from it, and they're complaining about that lack of ROI and that's because it's not fit.
[00:02:38] Aadil Razvi: Who are like? Give me some examples.
Who are those companies? That's just they think it's a fit, but it's just clearly not.
[00:02:44] Eli Schwartz: It's not that they think it's a fit, it just CMOs and heads of marketing come in and they think it's something they have to do. So they never really went through that thought process of is it a fit?
Should I even do this? I find that B2B companies, it doesn't necessarily make sense because that's not how people buy. People buy by looking at pricing and looking at fit. They're not googling, Oh, this tool's number one on Google. It's going to definitely be the right thing for me. I also find that if something is too innovative, It's also not a fit because there's no demand yet.
So you need to go and create that demand and then people search for you. So if you can do a bunch of SEO, and I've talked to startups with innovative solutions and they're like we're number one for our brand and we're number one for all these things, but no one's looking. So all that money they've invested in that number one status doesn't help.
[00:03:34] Aadil Razvi: Got it. Anything to add to that Bernard?
[00:03:37] Bernard Huang: I feel like Eli has hit the nail on the head. It's definitely not for everyone. I'm gonna add on to this in a more tactical sense. So at a high level, yes, it's not there for everyone. In a more tactical sense, generally I would recommend if you can't point to a competitor and say, Wow, they're doing really well in organic search, that's what I wanna replicate.
Chances are SEOs probably not for you. Another great way to understand if SEOs for you is really to just do the paid ads PPC component, right? If you're buying ads on Google where people are searching for things that you care about and you're just scratching your head being like, Ah, damn, I can't, I just can't make these unit economics work, then that's another yellow red flag that, okay, maybe SEO is not for you and that's perfectly fine.
I'd say the last bit of advice, since I know a lot of you all are in earlier stages of your company growth. I typically stay away from recommending SEO for seed, even series A ,startups in general, because a lot of the time you're still finding product market fit and SEO takes a long time, at least in terms of SEO.
Like time length, right? Six months and you could be out of money. And a lot of SEO strategies is six months before you start seeing any sort of semblance of growth retraction. So those are gonna be what I boil down the tactical recommendations to. If a competitor's not doing a search strategy and they're really dominant in the space, maybe not for you if you're really early.
and your competitors are doing really well still, maybe not for you because it takes a long time and if you can't make PPC work, then probably not for you as well.
[00:05:40] Eli Schwartz: I had to disagree with Bernard right there. If a competitor's not doing seo, just that doesn't mean that the SEO isn't necessarily a fit.
One of the things that I've seen, in my years doing SEO is people are obsessed with competitors. So they copy the competitor's keywords, they copy the competitor's content, they copy the competitor's links, and I've been in the position were we acquired companies we were competing with, and they would say things like we copied what you were doing.
And I was like, I have no idea what you're talking about. This is, this wasn't intentional. This wasn't a strategy. I didn't even notice it worked. So I don't think it's good to start with the competitors as you're starting point. Sometimes they're just completely wrong. Sometimes they have no idea.
Sometimes they're bad at what they're doing. I like the idea of really thinking about that user journey. Is the user journey there for search and is someone going to buy from search? Doesn't matter whether better are doing it, you're smarter than them. Know that and you should do it. But if there's no user journey and your competitors aren't doing seo, maybe they are smart and they know that there's no user journey.
[00:06:47] Bernard Huang: Definitely. I agree with that. Can't always believe that your competitors know what SEO
[00:06:54] Eli Schwartz: and most of them don't. That's what I find always. People read a book, they read a blog post and they think they know SEO and they don't, which is a huge area of opportunity for people to actually know SEO and want to do, and don't wanna buy a really cool tool like Clearscope.
[00:07:14] Aadil Razvi: There we go. Bringing up full circle. Some really great points in there. So if you're too innovative, probably not a fit. If you can't point to a competitor that's crushing SEO, it may or may not be a fit. I'll say that. If you can't use paid ads to test SEO, demand may not be a fit.
Don't have product market fit may not be a fit. So those are some heuristics that we can take note of that may make a difference. There we go.
Let me ask you, Bernard, what do you think most experts get wrong about modern SEO? And is there any advice that you keep seeing in year after year you've been doing this for so long that you just wish would go away?
[00:07:59] Bernard Huang: Whew. Yeah, that's a tough question. I would say as a general high level observation, I think most experts usually carve out their niche in a specific field or aspect of search engine optimization. So in different eras of SEO, you would have seen the rise of the link builder, guru or expert, you would've seen the rise of a technical SEO guru or expert.
And nowadays you're seeing the rise of the content strategists and like high level like intent quality content focus, like search engine optimization. See their time. And I think that the biggest mistake then I see experts make is that they cling on too dearly to the field that got them popular in the first place and they start seeing a lot of the problems in SEO like nails and their specialty is the hammer.
And so that's probably the biggest high level mistake is not evolving with the times.
[00:09:22] Aadil Razvi: Certainly. Eli, what do you think?
[00:09:25] Eli Schwartz: I like the idea of really thinking about SEO from the top down, from a logical, strategic standpoint. And I think that too many people get caught up in specific things without really thinking about the logic behind it.
So as an example, like this is something I've been talking about in presentations forever. Google has autonomous cars, so they have hundreds of autonomous cars. They're licensed as robo taxis. They don't really do robo taxis for regular people, but they're robo taxi employees. So they drive on the street and they don't kill anybody, and they do a pretty good job.
And they don't cut cars off like they behave. That's some high level A, but then the same company. Now, when people acknowledge that, they say Google's doing a lot of smart stuff, but when they think about search, you're like if I got this guest post from, a DA 90 site, I'm guaranteed to rank number one on this super competitive term against all my competitors who have actual brands.
Like sudden that logic just falls away and it says a technical SEO. It doesn't really enter the big picture, whether your page speed is perfect, or your title tags are perfect. I very rarely hate any these technical SEO recommendations amount to actual ROI, so I don't do SEO audits. I've received SEO audits and when I've given SEO audits,no one really acts upon them because you have to prioritize that effort.
And if you say to someone, I guarantee you if you make your site in 10% faster, you get 10% more revenue, they'll probably do it. But if you say, your out from making your site 10% faster, is your site is 10% faster, or hard to justify this significant expense that come from. So I think when it comes to SEO, it's really important to think about the big picture.
Does this matter? Do you think Google cares that much about this? Like page speed is something that people harp such on, but if you would just do a page speed analysis on all of your competitors within a vertical, they're terrible. So many sites, they're slow. They're on shared hosting, they're hosted all over the world.
That's the way Google looks at things. Google's not on the fly saying, Oh, this site is really fast. We're just gonna win this. And this site is really slow. But nevermind the fact that it's like Amazon and they just don't deserve it because they haven't optimized page speed, big picture. Those things don't matter.
Google's trying to do is serve the best answer, serve the best information, not give stars an award was the best SEO.
[00:11:50] Aadil Razvi: Got it. And you know what I really got from that was all too often people are in the weeds thinking about, All right, if we just make this little tweak here or that little tweak there, like that's gonna unlock the SEO growth.
But really, like more often than not, people just need to take a little bit more of a step back, look at it from a top down approach and think from first principles like why should Google rank me.
[00:12:18] Eli Schwartz: Exactly, and how would you feel if you searched this yourself, if took that step back, all marketers should do that.
How would you feel if you took that step back? You were looking for yourself and you found your site, terrible content, your terrible product offering for what people are for, and then put yourself in the user shoes and see if that makes sense.
[00:12:36] Aadil Razvi: Does that align with what you see as well, Bernard? With Clearscope?
[00:12:40] Bernard Huang: Yeah, I, I think a lot of people think that SEO is a bunch of check boxes, and you go through and you check all the boxes, right? Title tag, less than 65 characters, includes a meta description, blah, blah, blah. And really to echo what you lied was already saying it's not right. It's a whole variety of different things and I think that a lot of experts get lost in the trees and don't see the forest.
[00:13:13] Aadil Razvi: Got it. One thing that you mentioned, Bernard, earlier you talked about how okay before it used to be about link building, like that was kind of activities like that versus now it's much more about being a content strategist. Talk about the intersection of kind of content marketing and SEO.
Are they inseparable at this point? How do you think about the distinction between the two.
[00:13:37] Bernard Huang: Yeah, that's a again a very complicated question to answer. And the best answer of course in most SEO context is it depends. So I think you're starting to see this concept of content marketing, user experience play a larger role in search engine optimization, and for a percentage of content being created on the internet, you could imagine more of what you're seeing from wire cutter nerd wallet. It's going to be infused with more content marketing, at least from what a traditional sense looks like, which is written content, like good imagery, that sort of thing. I think in the broader context of content marketing, you also have on the flip side, this Product-led SEO component, which is not going to look as much like how traditional content marketing looked, right? It's like saying how can we programmatically create pages that are going to be inherently useful for people searching for all kinds of different things that my product and service can fit? And you're gonna have a lot of variations of technically generated pages that are just interesting and useful that are not gonna look like the long form editorial piece. So I think that you're seeing basically this blend of like good user engagement, signal user experience, and in some cases that looks like great long form written content that a lot of people would've traditionally called content marketing.
But then you're also seeing the expansion of just like interesting styles of pages that people are able to create through user generated content, fly wheels or other initiatives that they collect a lot of data. So I think that, broadly speaking, I guess the most interesting way of framing it is just like Google and users are a lot more dialed into what is actually useful in interesting content.
And in some queries that means longer form, great looking content, and in other queries it could literally just be like more of a forum or like widget based experience.
Got it. Yeah. Anything to add to that, Eli?
[00:16:10] Eli Schwartz: Yeah I love that. And I love the way of thinking about content from a perspective. And one thing I tell companies all the time when I tell them not to do SEO, and I'd say two thirds of the conversation I have is around doing SEO, and then they say should I just not write content?
And that's a terrible question. You should write content. But then the thing is when it comes to SEO. We'll, think of these two buckets of SEO content and content. They should be one and the same. I tell companies that they should be writing content that they want to share on social media, that want to share in their email list, and they want to share on their website that people are gonna directly navigate to.
And if that content generates SEO traffic, so be it. But to write content that is terrible just because it's loaded with keywords that people want to rank for, think they should rank for, makes no sense. If you've written content that's stuff full of keywords. If you've written content on fiber and you're too embarrassed to share it on upward on your email list, we're too embarrassed to have to share it on certain video.
What's the point of that? That's a reflection of your business. So write content, use tools again, like Clearscope to understand what people are looking for. Write that content, put it out on your email, put it on your website. And again, if it drives SEO traffic, that's great, but make it what people are looking for.
If it needs imagery, then it needs imagery. They'll say imagery is gonna kill my keyword count, and it's going to break up this SEO content. There should be no such thing as SEO content. SEO is a channel to acquire users. Again, like I said earlier, If there are users there, so you don't need to do every single marketing channel just because they exist.
You don't need to advertise in the Super Bowl just because it exists. You do the things that make sense for business, and if SEO makes sense for your business, then you create the content that makes sense for your customers. And when it comes to prioritizing that content, again, I think a big mistake people make is they use SEO metrics.
So they'll go on a keyword tool and they'll search by, they'll search their primary keyword and look for keywords with the highest volume, and that's how they'll prioritize the content they need to write. Instead, I think they should be prioritizing content by user need. So if users don't understand how your product works that's the content you should write. If you just don't understand why you're better than your competitor, that's the content you write. And if users don't understand the value prop you have, you write their content. Don't focus on content that has that keyword in that the keyword tool told you. A lot of people search because you're missing out.
You know it. SEO shows about converting traffic and converting traffic is so much easier when it's someone searching you versus your competitor, or what's your return policy or how fast do you ship? That's the content, right? So when you're investing in content, put that first, put the converting content first, put the content that makes sense for your audience and really don't worry about SEO metrics so later.
[00:18:57] Aadil Razvi: Some gold nuggets from what both of you all shared. What stood out. Bernard, you really talk about, think about the query, like what is it that people really want and what is the type of content that best serves that query. If you were to, go down the SEO route. And Eli I like how you encapsulate. Look, the bottom line is make it the content that your customers need. Don't think so much about the volume and the traffic and all that what do your customers actually need? Because your content's a reflection of your business.
And so those are the things that you wanna actually be focusing on.
Let's get more tactical here. Bernard, you talked about leveraging UGC for SEO. What's an interesting example of a company that you've seen that leveraged UGC in a successful way that you're like, Oh there's something to learn from that.
[00:19:49] Bernard Huang: Yeah, on the surface, of course, you have your key players in the space, which has always been Trip Advisor and Yelp. And a variety of those forum type stuffs Reddit as well, although Reddit doesn't necessarily do that well in SEO. So I think that really there are certain queries that deserve a diverse set of opinions, and those are often going to be the ones where you see these UGC websites performing better, to be completely honest. I'm seeing a decline though in those specific types of websites to date, and they're losing to this more longer form editorial content, right? If you Googled best lunch in Houston or Austin, you're actually seeing Yelp no longer just always monopolize like the top spots.
You're seeing these local food bloggers rising in the ranks. And I think that a lot of that is maybe semblance of this like problem that we're facing in terms of quality content and that like okay, most website or most businesses on Yelp, just more or less gravitate towards a four star rating or like a four and a half.
You'd have to be really bad to be at like three or two and and whatnot and what people are like more gravitating towards now is, okay, I want to know how this specific local food blogger influencer thinks about these specific restaurants. So I think that UGC work really well certain pockets, and then people's taste may change, perhaps eCommerce is like another one of those where there's nothing like going through and reading a bunch of, reviews, photos, FAQs from people who have purchased the product because then you know oh yeah, like that is more likely to be like, J and whatnot. But I think that it's always an ebb and flow and like eCommerce makes a lot of sense.
Reviews made a lot of sense. And then, the independent food bloggers and influencers and taste makers started creating their own like long form content to match that. And they're competing head to head with very strong, authoritative websites.
[00:22:26] Aadil Razvi: Very interesting. Yeah, I didn't even realize that was a trend going on.
You're seeing a decline in UGC heavy sites in certain categories where longer editorial contents ranking higher, particularly from like taste makers with topical authority. Eli, are you seeing similar things? Do you have another example of UGC - User Generated Content working well?
[00:22:49] Eli Schwartz: So the interesting point is that Google actually updated search this week where they're now adding discussions when relevant into search.
So they're having a box where they'll pull in Quora and they'll pull in Reddit because people are looking for this kind of content. But a lot of times it's low quality. So you have to understand like back in the day when there were forums and people dominated forums of opinions, Reddit and Quora and these other UGC platforms can be the same, where they're not necessarily moderated or they're moderated with incentive like Reditt.
Google is telling you that these are discussions, but again, there's so many queries that Google automatically suggests to you that you should append the word Reddit on that query. I'm looking for best doctor near me, Reddit, right? They're telling you Reddit's a good place to find it.
They're not telling you that you could trust Reddit. So they're adding that discussion. I'd say UGC is a great place to really learn from what your users want. So if you are in a vertical, let's say you're servicing hardware, you can go on Reddit and look for ideas that seem to be repetitive, that people are asking the same question, and then you can scale it up that I love to do, which is Product-led SEO.
So you understand there's a user need and when you're building a product around your SEO, You need to validate that need. And again, UGC is a great place to validate the need. Bernard mentioned TripAdvisor, that's my favorite UGC site. And Yelp, of course, from back in the day where they were able to validate the need and then they built the architecture around it.
So they're driving all this value really around their architecture of, we have a hotel, we have all the hotel in every location, whether or not there's UGC, TripAdvisor works, That score whether or not there's UGC content, they still have the scores on it. So I love having UGC to validate ideas, to understand what people are looking for and to really understand
if there's SEO need there that you can fulfill rather than people are querying it, so I'm just gonna go after it like the near me queries, yes, everyone searches, best place to eat near me, but you don't wanna write a long piece of content like here's all the places you're gonna go near you.
That's not relevant for every single GPS location. I like using UGC as my slug to really build off of, rather than this is the place where I want to create a bunch of UGC or, spam UGC even.
[00:25:16] Aadil Razvi: Take that further. You're we're talking about how particularly for local searches having folks locally with topical authority that's starting to rank higher and higher in the surfs.
Do you see now that things are going more video first, TikTok results being shown in the result on the first page of Google. How should we be thinking about video now going into 2023, as that's becoming more and more important in certain category?
[00:25:53] Eli Schwartz: And I think that again, this goes back to CEOs do just be too tactical.
I think the most important thing here is to really understand what users. If video makes sense for looking for, I think a great place you're seeing a lot more video is how to, like, how to change my bike tire. How to understand if my oven is working, how to fix my dishwasher filter. Like those are things people want videos for.
And therefore, if you repeating in that space, you're going to want to create video and text. Don't look past that. When it comes to things that are less how to and probably don't make as much sense for video, I don't think you have to worry about it. So it really comes down to that high level view of what does the user want and create that content for the user and know that Google will be using those signals to decide that video makes more sense.
I think the one thing we're gonna see is a lot of times people complain about Google being a monopoly and Google steals traffic and Google's evil. Google's not evil. Google is for profit business. Google is the mall. We're just grateful that we have a spot in the mall and they give us free traffic and at this point, they have the right to not do that because they're alternatives.
The one place I think Google can evil is when it comes to YouTube. So when they're giving only results for something that doesn't seem right. They're driving the traffic directly to their own site. That monetizes based on impression advertising and when there's three pages of only YouTube results.
That might not be fair. So to address that, Google has been going to TikTok, Mio and other video providers to get direct feed from them just like they get from Twitter, so they can avoid going to Congress and having to explain why there's so many results that just feed YouTube. But other than that, I would say, look at Google does video results form Google surfacing video results.
You have to have video. Meditation is one of those things that is full of video results. So in the meditation space, you might need to look at me or video or audio content in as a way to compete. You're not gonna look like, here's a 10 step meditation you can do by reading this blog post.
[00:28:02] Bernard Huang: Eli nailed it.
[00:28:02] Aadil Razvi: What do you think, Bernard?
[00:28:04] Bernard Huang: Yeah that's exactly it. I would say to add on other types of queries where I'm seeing video have more prevalence is going to be outside of how to, of course you Google most how to and video, like a YouTube embedded video slash carousel is gonna be there is what is, you usually see a video carousel for what is.
I do think that a lot of content creators do a fairly good job explaining what is this or that and that sort of thing. And then another one I'm starting to see more of, and this kind of, hinges on it, whether the review is of a consumer package good, but is review. So if you're doing like a review of a vacuum or whatever, you're gonna see a lot more video based reviews as well.
And I think that's because It's a lot more qualitatively useful to a user who's performing sets of searches on how to vacuum cleaner review. What is that? That they're going to be more engaged with video? I'm gonna just add on to this idea of Google and YouTube being like, a monopoly and say that, the most interesting thing that is happening is that classes of searches are no longer starting always on Google. So a good example of this is in eCommerce, if you're on Amazon and you're subscribed to Prime you don't Google like whatever you're wanting to buy on Amazon, you just go to Amazon and you start your search there. So I'm gonna say the same for video, right?
There's gonna be a whole new classes of searches that just begin on YouTube. They begin on TikTok and I do think that video then has a special place. At least in a content strategy moving forward, because Google, they might end up ranking on Google, but a lot of people might be starting their search on TikTok, on YouTube, and creating video content for those types of searches is going to meet the searcher in the medium that they care about.
And you get a nice side effect bonus if it just happens to rank and Google as.
[00:30:25] Aadil Razvi: Got that. Yeah. Are there any, Go ahead, Eli.
[00:30:29] Eli Schwartz: I was gonna say I think that Pf2 focused on Google search and like Google algorithm updates and they're obsessed with Google. When I wrote my book and I actually went and edited every time I said Google.
I wrote Google and Bing and I tried to change it to search engines because I want my book to be relevant for all search and I think it is for all search, it'll take a little while to be obsolete and think about search will change. There will be other search engines, and our search strategies need to account for that.
So just like Bernard said, Amazon, TikTok, there are other search engines, and there could be a day where TikTok actually launches its own crawler. And you can do search that's not just TikTok videos. And there could be a day where Amazon launches its own crawler and you could do a search where it's not just e-commerce on Amazon, Amazons things from other stores, not just Amazon and their advertising.
And Amazon has devices that you could ask questions to, and they give you search results that are not e-commerce results. So very likely they could go in that direction if they there's more ads we could sell if we had search results on an actual browser, you on a phone or a computer. They could do that.
Facebook could do that too. Microsoft may one day figure out how to do bing search properly. Again, like search is not all about Google. So if you approach search from a user perspective, Google's a medium right now, Google's a medium, but there's one day the other search engines, and Google's very aware of that, and that's why they're aggressive about thinking about TikTok because they know they don't own the market.
Three years ago you would've said Facebook is the only social media network that will ever exist, and now they're not, right? So I'd say think about search the same way. Focus on the user. Focus on how algorithms want to prioritize results. Don't think about how does the Google algorithm do things and how do I optimize against the Google algorithm, or how do I find hacks of loopholes of the Google algorithm?
[00:32:19] Aadil Razvi: One more question, tactical before we hop into some audience questions. We're seeing the rise of AI generated content that is the topic of 2022. So tell me how do you think about the role that AI tools will play in the content creation process? Let's go with Bernard.
[00:32:42] Bernard Huang: Ooh, AI content.
Yeah. I think there is a very real place in content strategy that involves AI. I think that AI is really good, at least in the way that it currently works, which is being trained on billions of records using internet data to inform the likelihood of certain words, following other words. So you can imagine if you asked.
Who is the first President of America? It knows first President America, George Washington just goes together. So all of that's to say, if you can imagine that AI content is based on the human knowledge of specific facts, things, opinions that we collectively as human society have created where AI content really shines is
things that everybody agrees upon, right? If we all say that blue is this color that looks like the ocean and everybody can agree on that, then AI content shines, right? You can imagine that's usually facts. Most times history, definitions, those types of things where AI content, as you can imagine starts to struggle is by providing unique perspectives because again, those haven't been created before and or when society is very split on certain topics, right?
Whether that be politics. All that good stuff. So if that's the case, then you can imagine that AI content would be good for just summarizing a lot of what has already happened and those types of content, the people that need those types of content would really do well with AI. However if you are in a more controversial field or a more quick changing field then AI content, at least in its current form, is going to suffer because it's not able to construct as valuable thoughts and opinions on basically topics where we're disagreeing or the way that the topic is evolving is much faster than the model is being trained.
[00:35:11] Aadil Razvi: Eli go for it.
[00:35:13] Eli Schwartz: I think when most people are referring to AI content, they're referring to, they're looking to be lazy. Back in the day, so there was there was this plugin on WordPress called Caffeinated Content, and this is probably 10 years ago, and it wrote AI content, It wrote terrible content.
But in your words and it spun out content and then you were able to rank on search and then somehow trick people into clicking date links in your headset. Sense that's I think what people are trying to accomplish with AI content today. They're not doing necessarily the smart thing Bernard's talking about.
Where they really want to answer smart questions. They're just trying to avoid paying an actual writer. Now, if you want to do that, then you hopefully you're selling to computers, you're selling to robots who can care about your AI content, but they actually wanna sell to users, and your AI content looks like AI content.
Then you save your time and your money. I've seen so many sites where the content makes no sense and it's been written by AI, so therefore you just don't trust the website, don't trust the content. So that, I think that's the ideas are what are you trying to accomplish with it?
Are you trying to accomplish saving money and saving time or is there something that's programmatic that you're writing and you can let the AI write for you be it uses source data, so it ends up being a little bit better than you probably were written manually. But I think a lot of AI content right now is just meant to be lazy, and that's why Google has this helpful content up.
It's the same thing that's been going on forever where you know, you have different ways of spending it and AI's just a little bit smarter. It's harder to detect, but again, if you're a user trying to understand what something is and buy from something and you're looking for that emotion and it's missing, you're not going to buy.
[00:36:56] Aadil Razvi: That. We've got fiveish, five, 10ish minutes to go. We're gonna rapid fire through some audience questions for you all. We're gonna keep answers brief so we can get through as many as we can.
One of the things that you talked about, Eli, was figuring out what content your customers need.
How can you figure that out? How do you actually determine? What content do your customers need that isn't already out there? When your market's really saturated, say you're parenting or baby brands it's a very saturated market. How do you figure out what content to create?
[00:37:36] Eli Schwartz: Again I hate to keep saying it, but users, So I like to do what a lot of people don't do, which is ask actual users. So if there's a need to ask users like is this in parenting, is this something that you would be interested? And have those user conversations and you can get lots and lots of ideas of things that people are looking for, what they can't find.
Like I said earlier, Reddit's a great place. You go in, don't look like the Reddit queries. Actually read the Reddit costs and go through it and you'll find ideas. And if you see the same thing over and over again, that's a user need that you can build something around. There is like amazing Reddit comments that have a thousand words, 1500 words.
Those are blog posts that are basically ranking and you like build on that and create actual better content that doesn't come from Reddit. Not saying steal it, but use the ideas and this is something people want and they don't wanna trust a Reddit comment, Here's a piece of content I can create.
[00:38:33] Aadil Razvi: Can you explain the difference . Yeah. Sorry, Bernard. We're gonna keep rolling. Yeah. Wrap. I'll ask you.
Can you explain the difference between Google Search and Google Maps ranking? Is there a different SEO strategy for each.
[00:38:48] Bernard Huang: Yeah, it's basically Google search is what happens when you type in all the queries, and you can imagine maps is a subset of that search.
So Google understands that If you performed a search that has a localized intent like haircut, groceries, you probably want the map instead of something they infer that if you Google groceries, they don't show you the map and then somebody like Google's like groceries map or groceries near me, and then Google says, Okay, we should probably introduce the map.
Map has to do more with citations, credibility. Okay, are you actually a local business operating near Austin? And if so, you know how many sources has validated that your hours are indeed 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM and then within that, it's based on whether you have a Google My Business account and awaiting towards reviews and overall engagement to your location when provided in the results.
So it's a different ranking algorithm, but it is a subset of Google search and in my opinion, it's based primarily on Google, my business reviews. How many local citations that and that.
[00:40:08] Aadil Razvi: Localized intent match with local credibility. And through the medium of Google My Business and some of those more local Google options.
Eli, in your experience, is it better? And I'm afraid to ask you an SEO question cause I feel like you're gonna be like, why are you asking me about SEO in your...
[00:40:31] Eli Schwartz: Wrote a book on it. It's OK .
[00:40:34] Aadil Razvi: Is it better to invest in high authority back links, but in smaller quantity, or to invest in indecent authority back links like DR 20 to 40, but in larger quantity.
[00:40:46] Eli Schwartz: Option C.
[00:40:50] Aadil Razvi: What is option C?
[00:40:52] Eli Schwartz: Neither. I backwards are a total waste of time. I know I'm gonna get slang comments here, but Google's got 20 years of building their algorithms to detect spam. So if you're buying links just for links sake, they can detect it. And, I've been fortunate and then I've actually gotten back links from the White House three times, two or three times, White house.gov, and those links did nothing.
So I think the domain authority of back links don't really matter, is really the context. And Google's algorithms said it earlier, they drive cars. Same company drives cars without killing anybody. They can figure out back links are a waste of time. So invest in. Find someone wanna really get your message out and you'll get links.
Some of those links will matter. Some of those links won't matter. But the more important thing is people know your business exists and they'll want to click on the links that you do get. If they don't count for Google, they count for something. So don't invest in back links and then your business invest in your brand.
[00:41:46] Aadil Razvi: Bernard, Eli said some controversial things that I want to definitely make sure that you have the ability to add context.
[00:41:54] Bernard Huang: No. A hundred percent on board. Okay. All right. There are some cases where back links like will help, especially if you're like just getting started. I believe that Google's looking at semblance of a variety of factors, one of which is back links, another which is topical authority, or how well your content, your existing content for a certain topic is performing over time.
So in the very beginning stage when you have no content that's doing well for a topic and no authority, from a backlink perspective, how can Google start to build trust in your website? So early on is basically the only time I will recommend. Doing any backlink building, but once you've already proven to Google that you have content that's crawlable, indexable and useful to users in a specific topic, I say get off the backlinks and just put it all into content.
[00:42:53] Aadil Razvi: Fantastic way to to cap off the session. Any resources Bernard, that you would recommend people to check out when wanting to learn and go deeper on this stuff.
[00:43:06] Bernard Huang: I'm a Product-led SEO. I just put the link in the messages. You definitely wanna check out this book. Eli goes above and beyond describing the strategies that he invented and crafted at Survey Monkey.
Really also diving more into the tactical of, okay, how do you actually figure out how to create content that your users want. And I think that a lot of the time SEOs aren't sitting in on sales calls. They aren't looking at the common support tickets that people are writing into the Help desk center.
And these are points that Eli points out all the time and it's like, Hey, this is something that is very useful. The other one that I'm gonna give is just our YouTube channel. Clearscope, we host awesome web speakers on SEO and content like Eli every week, and we record them and we talk about all kinds of different useful, interesting things like Google E-A-T, what's been going on with a helpful content update so definitely would recommend.
Clearscope's, weekly webinars are awesome. They are masterclasses and they're totally free. Absolutely check them out. Definitely check out Eli's book. I was gonna ask you, Eli, who should not read your book? Who are the people in this audience that should skip your book and who's it really for?
[00:44:30] Eli Schwartz: Everyone should read the my book because I think it's $6 on Amazon and for some people, actually two thirds of people, it's gonna be only $6 you ever need to spend an SEO. And I just want to be clear that like SEO is the most amazing channel and can drive so much ROI, if it makes sense for you.
And really, SEO is a marketing channel, and I think again, that we go back to tactics. When people think about SEO, they think about it too narrowly and not in the context of our business. The dollars you spend like Bernards at PPC, the dollars you spend on SEO, if they're better spent on PPCs, them on PPC.
Why would you spend them on SEO? So I, again, I like to think about SEO as a marketing channel doesn't make sense and where's it most effective? I don't wanna make it very narrowly in the sense of I need to check this box. The agency said it costs $5,000 a month. I'm going to pay $5,000 a month. It's really, is that $5,000 a month better spent on a PR agency?
Is it better spent on having another engineer? Is it better spent on PPC? So really think about it in the broad context of the business and then within SEO, where do you focus those efforts? Do you focus it on PR? Do you focus on writing more content? Do you focus on building a better product? So again, I like to think about everything high level, whether it makes sense.
And when I mentioned page speed earlier, that's something that's expensive. Where are those resources better spent? If that's the last thing that you can fix, spend it on page speed. But there's always something else and something better. So hopefully those ideas come through in the book, anyone can get some idea out of it.
Read the book and hopefully if you don't eat SEO, it's the only money you ever spend on SEO.
[00:46:06] Aadil Razvi: Spend six bucks, you will validate whether or not SEO is the right fit. It's a no brainer. Absolutely recommend it. Bernard Huang's product is clearscope.io. If you haven't checked it out, you absolutely must.
It is the premier. If you're writing content and have any sort of SEO angle, it is the tool to use. We use it every day at Demand Curve for all of our content. Absolutely recommend it. Check them out in the booth, the virtual booth. I know there's a special that Clearscope has going on. For some free reports, if you want to to pop in.
Where can people reach out to you? How can they connect to with you all ? After the summit, they want to keep going down, learning more about the Bernard and Eli verse.
[00:46:54] Eli Schwartz: I don't wanna show Clearscope. Clearscope is the best tool I know for really understanding what users want.
And you're writing manual content, not, you're not writing AI content. You understand there's, you write for them.
[00:47:07] Aadil Razvi: Absolutely. How can people get in touch?
[00:47:10] Bernard Huang: I dropped my Twitter in the messages. I think that'll be the easiest place for me to connect with you all. If you have questions, thoughts, things, feel free to add message, both me and Eli. I'm sure you know why they're debated out or have interesting viewpoints that you can have.
So I know we didn't get around to all the other Q&A. Ping me on Twitter. Is that also a good place for you, Eli?
[00:47:38] Eli Schwartz: It's so Twitter, LinkedIn, my website, I drop my email address. The last thing I would say on finding me is SEO is about complete visibility for you. So it show up however you show up.
So I don't even tell you to go specifically my LinkedIn, Google me, the places I want to show up and have visibility. Those are all there and I trust them all.
[00:47:59] Aadil Razvi: Fantastic. What a great way to end. Thank you all both so much for spending your time with us today. This was super, drop some love in the chat.
I want give back to the speakers who just were so generous with their time here. I learned a lot. Thank you very much. Eli has abandoned Bernard and I, we're Texan boys. Bernard is in Austin and I'm in Houston. And Eli just abandoned us for California, but we're not gonna hold that against him for just cause he gave such a great session.
We'll let him fly this .
[00:48:37] Eli Schwartz: Thank you.
[00:48:37] Aadil Razvi: Awesome. Yes. Appreciate you both. I will see you both backstage. We're gonna start the next session at the top of the hour. Bell Curve's VP of Marketing, Raf we'll be kicking off that on newsletter growth.