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25 minutes | Dec 14, 2021
The One Where We Do A WTSPodcast End Of Year Review 2021
In this bonus episode, Areej and Sarah get together to chat about stand-out episodes, what Google did good and bad this year, and predictions for SEO in 2022.Thanks to all of our guest speakers, sponsors, and listeners - we wouldn't have the #WTSPodcast without you. Roll on Season 4 in 2022!Stand out episodes:Kristie PlantingaAbby ReimerJamie IndigoMiracle Inameti-ArchibongMichelle RaceKatherine OngBeth NunningtonLaura BradyShoutout to 2021 sponsors:DeepcrawlMediaSeshNovosScreaming FrogWincher---Episode transcriptAreej: Hey everyone, welcome to today's bonus episode of the Women in Tech SEO podcast. I am super excited to be here, joined by my awesome co-host Sarah. Hey Sarah!Sarah: Hello, this feels like we've not done this in a long time, isn't it?Areej: I know. I know. I'm really excited. I love that you bought up this idea a few weeks ago, of us doing an end-of-year bonus episode for everyone.Sarah: Yes, I thought it would be a cool idea just to do a bit of a recap and also record a podcast with you because yes, I said, it's just good to spend some time with you on the podcast.Areej: Oh yes, absolutely love that. I can't even believe it's December already, and we launched this podcast in April. I think we started talking about it in January or February, so definitely at the very beginning of the year.Sarah: Yes, definitely and we've done and dusted season three and we're going into season four and I'm just like, how? Where has that time gone? I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed myself because I don't know about you, but every time I get to speak to an amazing individual in the industry and pick their brains, it's awesome, isn't it?Areej: Yes, I completely agree. I can't believe the calibre of guests we've had throughout, we've had so some brilliant women come on board and we've just discussed all topics as well.Sarah: Yes, and I think that's key, isn't it? The number of varied topics that we've covered. I suppose that leads us into my first question, the first topic that I thought we could go into, where we discuss our standout episodes from our last seasons. Now I know this is going to be very hard, and I don't know about you, but I was going through all the episodes and I was, "How do I pick this? I just want to pick them all," but I have managed to whittle down to three. How about you?Areej: Oh yes, I found it impossible. I thought it was so difficult, to be honest. I went through a lot of them and because also, we've been listeners to some and then we've been hosts to others, which I think might make us a little bit biased as well. I'm happy to try my best and give it a go. Maybe you can start with saying one, you've absolutely loved and I can try to follow.Sarah: The first one that I picked out, was Kristie Plantinga who discussed imposter syndrome. Now, the reason why I picked this one out was that this topic was so-- it's such a passion area of mine. I think all of us, or most of us feel imposter syndrome, not just in SEO, but in work in general. It was just such a great episode because we were discussing it all and Kristie was giving ways to manage it and think about it and stuff, so that was definitely on my list to include.Areej: Yes, I loved that episode and I thought, Christie, I loved the way she shared a lot of it as well. The way she approached, a topic that a lot of us can relate to, for sure. I think if we're starting with standout episodes in season three, I'll actually take us a little bit earlier like the very first episode of that season. I loved your conversation with Abby Remer.I think Abby is just the epitome of everything when it comes to content SEO and content auditing. She's so smart and she manages to break down very, complex topics in a very, very, very simplistic way. I thought that had a lot of valuable information, and she's someone who's done workshops and so forth with us before as well. She just always approaches every topic and shares tons and tons and tons of knowledge.Sarah: Yes, and she just had so much energy and, she was a delight to talk to. She definitely got me rethinking how I approach content and stuff. Yes, definitely, definitely would, recommend checking that one out if you haven't already. Okay, so my second one is one that we did together, and again going back to our very first episode where we had Jamie Indigo. Where we were talking around, ethics and disinformation, around search engines in Google, because this episode blew my mind, but it really got me thinking and yes, I was just.I'm in awe of Jamie and what she does because she's really good at highlighting really key, important topics but explaining in a way that really makes sense. I just really thoroughly enjoyed the episode because we just delved into so much. I think it's a great episode for SEO people to really think about, the information, the disinformation, the monopoly of Google, the ethics surrounding it. If you've listened to it once definitely go listening to it again because it's one of those episodes where I think you can keep listening to it because you can keep pulling stuff out of it.Areej: Yes I agree, I still can't believe that our very first, podcast guest was Jamie because Jamie is so brilliant. She approaches these topics with a lot of grace as well. I know how difficult it's to talk about some of these topics and it could be so easy to just decide to talk about, a normal technical SEO topic, but she's always keen to discuss things along the lines of, ethics and disinformation and how we're all a part of it really.Yes, couldn't agree more and yes, it was our first episode, which always makes it very, very special. I think thinking back to season one, one to call out for sure. I had a lot of fun recording that with you as well, and it was, I think it was a Saturday or a Sunday morning, with Miracle. We talked all about forecasting SEO and what a complex topic yet she makes it so fun. I've learned so much about forecasting in SEO from Miracle.Forecasting is one of those things that, you can absolutely hate doing, but a lot of us as SEOs get tasked to do that all the time, whether we're an agency or in house, and Miracle just has a great way of approaching it and how she managed to break that down within, 20 or 25 minutes was extremely insightful. That's definitely one of my standout episodes right there.Sarah: It's so funny that you included, Miracle because she was actually on my list as well to pick out because I thoroughly enjoyed that one as well. I think one of the things that I picked out, and it stuck with me is, when we were asking her about, how do you get buy-in or how do you make your reporting really understandable? She said, it's about three things, simplicity, clarity, and language, and it's true.Simplicity is knowing who you're talking to, making sure that it's understandable. Clarity is it really clear, what you are saying, what you're trying to put across to get more buy-in or get the investment that you need for SEO? The language, with again, who are you talking to? What is the language? Are you using the lingo? Yes, it's funny because Miracle was on my list as well, so you beat me to it Areej.Areej: No, I think that shows how powerful that episode was for sure, and the way that we-- I took it really from the analytical side, while you took it more from that type of learning, which is really interesting to see how different people can listen to the same episode and, have different takeaways from it.Sarah: I would like to pick out an episode that you did, with Michelle Race. I think that was season two or?Areej: I think it was the very last episode of season two, yes.Sarah: It's all of a bit of a blur. XML site maps that can be quite technical, can it and can get quite complex, but I just loved how understandable Michelle made it and she made some really key points, in there. I just thoroughly enjoyed listening to you guys discussing all things, XML site maps, and I guess you enjoyed talking to her about it.Areej: Yes, so knowledgeable. I remember even seeing that pitch come through and I was so excited, I was like, "Oh my God, we have to have Michelle on," because I couldn't believe that someone wanted to spend a whole podcast episode just talking about XML site maps. I loved that. She had so much to share, but also, when we were talking about the speaker plans and so forth beforehand, she was so well prepared.She sent me all this information that she wanted to go through. She took such an integral part in, "Oh yes, let's go through that question, but no, maybe not that question." I just love that. I love the fact that she put a lot of effort into preparing for the episode as well. It definitely showed, for me if anyone wants to learn about XML site maps they should definitely, definitely listen to that episode.Sarah: Definitely. Definitely.Have we both done three now, is that?Areej: If I had to pick one more like, from season 2 specifically, I had just had so much love for Katherine Ong. We had an episode together, where we went through large-scale website migrations and it was just so much fun because she had all of these examples to share with all of these massive types of governmental sites and health publications, and so forth.I loved how much she shares in terms of the amounts of examples, which I'm sure even if someone is working with websites within that niche, or that large scale, a lot of the migration tips that she shared can definitely be applied on smaller-scale sites or in different industries. Katherine is always so generous with the knowledge that she shared and that was definitely a standout episode for me.Sarah: She definitely made me laugh out loud as well. She is hilarious as well, isn't she? [crosstalk] I thought that was a really good one as well. I suppose what we want to quickly say is thank you to all of our guests, because like we said earlier, it was so hard picking our standout. They were all awesome. Thank you so much, speakers, who have joined us over the last three seasons because yes, you have helped make this podcast awesome. What would be the top things that you've learned from speaking to people, Areej?Areej: I think that's a really interesting question. I've noticed that once you dive into the actual topic, people find it so easy to just sit and talk and talk and talk about it, but it's the starting point. It's asking someone to introduce themselves to a whole group of audience who will sit down and listen later, or some of the questions we ask upfront around, "Oh, well, what empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are?"A lot of people struggle a little bit with finding answers to these questions, which I totally understand. I think those are very, very difficult questions to answer. I found that interesting that when it comes to the actual topic, it's very, very easy to talk about it freely, but when it comes to some of those initial questions, it can be a little bit challenging.Sarah: Yes, definitely. I just enjoyed listening to everyone's different journeys, how they got into SEO because I think, from the conversations that I've had no one plans it really, do they? They find a journey into it and stumble into it, but most of the people that I was talking to is like once they've stumbled across the world of SEO, and they realize how wonderful it is, they just seem to love it and want to do so much.I think that comes across with people within the industry as well because there are so many people doing awesome things, like giving advice, putting blogs together, doing videos, helping people out. I suppose what I learn is how supportive the SEO community is of other SEOs, and we're all wanting to help each other, aren't we?Areej: Yes, definitely agree. I think we usually always run up an episode by asking people what resources would you like to share and so and people tend to have so many different-- people talk a lot at that point about Twitter and different slack communities and different groups and so on, which shows that it's definitely an industry where you can get a lot of help, and you can find a lot of help. That's always a good reminder to know.Sarah: Definitely. As I was going through the episodes and stuff, there was a couple of things that I learned or things that stuck with me. One was on Beth Nunnington's episode, which you did with her. She said about how John Mueller, who is a Google representative, said that the total number of backlinks to a website doesn't matter.What they focus on is trying to understand what's relevant for that website. We know that Google tracks links, but it uses machine learning to read the content that's around that link and understand the wider context of that article too. I remember hearing that and thinking because I think sometimes one of the metrics is how many links can you get to a website?Whereas that was like a reminder of, "Okay, what's better is to fit," because that whole episode was about relevancy, wasn't it? It's much better to go after the quality and relevancy of links more than the number of them. That was just a really focused example but there were lots of things like that that I learned as well.Areej: I think she articulated it very well, as well. It's one of those things where I know within her agency, they're working on different scoring metrics and things like that. She did come in with all of this research that she's done. She articulated a lot of it like relevancy and digital PR is one of those topics that a lot of people can definitely talk about, but it's very, very difficult to try to hone down specific metrics or so forth.To be honest, I think I can't even try to dig out specific examples here on there about what I learned. A lot of it was very eye-opening. I love the episode with Laura Brady on e-commerce SEO. I work in e-commerce, so do you and I felt like there were tons that I learned from that. It was super, super, super actionable and that's why I get really excited when someone wants to come on and share their knowledge. That's the thing about this industry, I feel like a lot of people are definitely willing to share a lot of their in-depth knowledge. I just find that very beautiful.Sarah: It is. If you go back through all the podcasts, you could really easily pick out one or two amazing things that you've learned. I think just listen to them. I think we're saying because you'll get so much out of them. Moving on then, this is outside of the podcast, and more like talking about the industry. I thought it'd be good to discuss what Google did good and bad this year. I don't know if you want to kick things off there?Areej: Yes, I think that's a difficult question. I feel like this year was super busy. We're in another update at the moment, which is crazy. We've just finished one last week and now we have a new one that rolled out at the start of December. It's been a very, very busy year. It was like the ultimate summer of updates where we had I don't know, two or three of them. There was definitely a lot of that happening, which isn't necessarily bad. I think the good that comes out of it is the communication side, for sure.I do feel like, over the years, Google has improved in terms of how they communicate, and the different types of resources they share. They have a lot of their own podcasts and webinars and things like that now, which makes things feel very, very inclusive to newcomers within the industry as well. Even though there's a lot happening, and things keep changing, as they always do, I feel like the communication has definitely improved over time.Sarah: Yes, I'd have to agree. I suppose what we've got to remember is that every time that Google does an update, they are just trying to improve the landscape, aren't they? Ultimately, they're making sure that user experience and what people land on are the best content they can be. I suppose even though it can be frustrating, and it was because when I found out that they were rolling out an update before Christmas, I was like, charming. Merry Christmas to us.I suppose it's just about every time an update comes out, is having a breather, seeing how you've been affected, and making an action plan from there because you always get your biggest winners and losers, out of these things. It's just about being flexible and adapting to what happens, I suppose. I do remember one. I think it happened a few months ago when Google decided to change up what they showed on page titles. I think they were pulling in H Ones instead and that caused quite a few issues for companies.Areej: Yes, it's still happening to this day and it has been happening for a really long time but I think within that I know quite a few people, including Lily Ray, for example, were super vocal about the impact it had on CTR and so forth. It was very interesting when a few folks like Lily Ray and others just stepped up and were very vocal about it. Google actually went back and said, "Yes, this is going to be relooked into, this is going to be revisited." I think there were some improvements done on the back of this, which again, that's very good to see that type of comeback and it shows how strong the SEO industry can be as a collective.Sarah: Yes, definitely like working together. Okay. Then last point, predictions or what we'd like to see Google do more of...
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The One Where We Discuss Imposter Syndrome With Kristie Plantinga
In this week's episode, we chat with Kristie Plantinga, Founder of TherapieSEO about how to manage feelings of imposter syndrome.Where to find Kristie:Website: https://www.therapieseo.com/Twitter: https://twitter.com/kristie_plantFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/therapieseoInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/therapieseo/---Episode Sponsor:This season is sponsored by Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog develop crawling and log file analysis software for the SEO industry, and wanted to support the WTSPodcast as listeners to the show. They have recently added automated crawl overview reports for Data Studio in version 16 of their SEO Spider software. You can use their Data Studio dashboard, but if you have created your own Data Studio dashboard for their crawl reports that you'd like to share with the community, then get in touch with them via email@example.com or @screamingfrog on Twitter to be featured.Where to find Screaming Frog:Website - https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/screaming-frog/Twitter - https://twitter.com/screamingfrogYouTube - https://www.youtube.com/c/ScreamingFrogSEOFacebook - https://www.facebook.com/screamingfrog/---Episode Transcript:Sarah McDowell: Hello, and welcome to the Women in Tech SEO Podcast. I am Sarah McDowell, an SEO content executive and I will be your host for today. Joining me I have Kristie Plantinga, founder of therapy, SEO and we have them talking about imposter syndrome. Hello, Kristie.Kristie Plantinga: Hi, thank you so much for having me. This is so exciting.Sarah: Thank you so much for agreeing to come on and spending your Monday morning for you, isn't it?Kristie: Yes.Sarah: Monday morning with me. Let's dive straight in and my first question to you, Kristie is, can you tell us how you got into SEO in this world? Then how because, obviously, you're the founder of therapy, SEO, congratulations.Kristie: Thank you.Sarah: How did you end up having your own business?Kristie: Yes. I think everyone in SEO, got started in their unique way. I started more from a writing background, I was pursuing a master's in written communication, which was largely a technical SEO writing Pro-- or sorry, Technical Writing Program and that wasn't for me, I just have more of a creative side. I knew that wasn't going to be a good fit for me. I started learning more about user experience and marketing and I was looking at the job market with a communications degree, which could be tougher to find an entry into the job market but I stumbled upon SEO. I started teaching myself a lot of things as I think many of us do. I always thought it would be so cool if I could work in this but my only qualification is this. I knew how to build websites, and I had this degree.I was lucky enough to get hired by an SEO agency, they took a chance on me, and I've just been in SEO ever since and with my own business. I always wanted to have my own thing. I loved the idea of building a brand and working for myself and having this flexibility and control over my path. I started my own SEO business. I went full-time about a year ago and I started working on everything about a year and a half, almost two years ago. It's like a simple journey but I do think I started earlier with my own business than probably most other consultants do. I'm sure we'll be talking about that more today.Sarah: So when you put forward yourself to come on the podcast, you said about how your business is a niche, isn't it? How did that come about and what do you offer as a niche business?Kristie: Definitely. I work in a niche industry before or a niche agency before. I enjoyed niching because first of all, I'm a pretty practical person, I knew that it would be easier to start a business with a niche. I find that connections and speaking opportunities, and networking, all that stuff comes easier when you're situated in more of a niche community, but also, I knew that I only wanted to work with certain kinds of clients. I think for people who work in agencies or have experienced the agency work or world working with clients could just be tough sometimes, especially think if you have people-pleasing tendencies. I knew that I wanted to work with clients that I felt were more in alignment with me and that I knew I'd get along with more personally.I chose therapists, actually was studying to become a therapist at one point in my life, but I was like, I'm not ready to do that. I pursued obviously writing and all that other stuff, but I always have had a passion for the mental health world and I just think therapists are some of the superheroes of our society. It just seemed like an obvious fit when I was thinking about starting my own thing. I was like, of course, therapists it's like, I'm so interested in the world, and the more you know about what they do, the more they trust you too. It just seemed like I didn't even have a second thought after that came to me.I offer full-service SEO. Then I do a lot of consulting individually and in groups as well. Making a few courses just really seeing like, what I think my clients would benefit from. I'm just always seeing what would help them the most and then I just match them where they are, whatever service that takes.Sarah: For people who are listening to the podcast, and they've been thinking about going niche, what advice have you got? What would you say?Kristie: I think for obviously, I think if you are more nervous about starting something, I think niching is just a good way to go. I think it's a little bit more of a straightforward path to success. I think one thing I wish that I did even sooner when I started my niche business, is identify who are the influencers in the space. Who are the people that I should be talking to because shared audiences is a huge marketing strategy for me? Connecting with people on Instagram, following people on Twitter, DMing them, making that introduction, I think just connecting with the people that you know your niche clients respect, is a fast path to success.Sarah: That is blimming wonderful advice. Thank you for sharing.Kristie: YesSarah: Can I now do some quickfire questions with you?[QuickFire Round]Sarah: We are here to talk about imposter syndrome. I have to say that when I saw what you suggested, it got me excited because I think this is an important topic and something that'd be interesting to talk about. First things first, how would you describe what imposter syndrome is?Kristie: Thought a lot about this because it's just so all-encompassing sometimes, but I think that imposter syndrome is feeling like you can't do something even though you have to evidence that you can. Is my just straightforward answer and what it actually is and then from that comes all like the emotional and mental complications?Sarah: How do you know? What warning signs or how do you know if you have like suffered or you're currently experiencing imposter syndrome?Kristie: I think first and foremost anxiety. When you are doing something that you feel like you can't do even though you can. Symptoms of anxiety are going to come up for sure. I think the biggest one was the negative self-talk, which a lot of us don't even really ourselves saying to ourselves, but a lot of comparisonitis, negative self-talk, sometimes you just have a deeper fear of success. You get that opportunity and then you're like, "Well, now I'll be seen," so you have this deeper fear of success, which seems really counterintuitive to people who do take risks, but it happens. General risk avoidance. You're afraid of being in the space of discomfort with risk and then also just passing on opportunities because you're scared to fail.Sarah: Yes, I think we've all been there when there's-- an opportunity comes and we don't feel like we're ready or we come up with excuses, don't we? Or we think, "Oh no I can't do that because of this," I know I've been there so many times.Kristie: Yes, it's a huge thing and it's so crazy to me because I think so many of the listeners here and women in the group we're all so ambitious, but imposter syndrome and this pursuit of perfectionism, it's the death of progress. As soon as you can just really start working on imposter syndrome and learning how to-- because it's always going to be there I think but if you can learn how to deal with it in the instances that you have, that's just going to help your mental health so much and your career development, all that stuff.Sarah: Would you say that imposter syndrome is common in both business owners and the SEO world?Kristie: Yes, and I think it takes different shapes. When I was struggling with imposter syndrome in an agency setting or a company career track, it's hard to get opportunities sometimes. I think when you are a woman in the career track it's not quite set up for us as well yet. That's unfortunately the reality. A lot of what imposter syndrome comes down to in my way of thinking about it is this concept of cognitive dissonance. We have ideas, beliefs, thoughts about ourselves that we think are true, but then the real world, this more tangible evidence that we see is contrary to that so we imagine success for ourselves.We desire that, but then everyone getting promoted, maybe they're men. Men get raises. We obviously know that they're paid more so I think when you're in a work setting, that's tough because you're not necessarily in an environment that's as well suited for you. Unfortunately, that's reality. I’m excited to see that change over the coming decades but I think all women know that to be true. We've all had instances of that but in terms of business development, I think the imposter syndrome is real because failure is just very tangible. It's like the stakes are pretty high and they are with everything. I think with business, especially if you're doing it on your own at first, it can be very lonely, and then it's even harder to have those positive beliefs about you because there's no manager above you telling you that you're doing a good job, you're doing the right thing. That all has to come from yourself and that's imposter syndrome. We all have to be able to tell ourselves that yes we can, but if you're more isolated, that's even harder.Sarah: I think also I've experienced this in other roles where it's not until you leave that people come out and say supportive things or they say, "Ah, I'm so gutted that you're leaving, you've done this and this," and even in leaving cards that you get where people put how much they've appreciated you and stuff like that. I think, yes, when we're in a job role, I think sometimes we miss that encouragement, don't we? Often it's not until after you leave, sometimes.Kristie: That is very true. I definitely can relate.Sarah: There is a joke, isn't there? In the SEO world that will always answer with, "Well, it depends," if anyone ever asks us anything and I suppose that doesn't help the situation, does it?Kristie: Oh my gosh. Here's the thing, the times that I've had the worst imposter syndrome, really, really bad, I wake up in the middle of the night, filled with anxiety, heart-pounding and I just think to myself, "Am I going to get results for this client?" A huge part of that is just SEO takes time. The quick wins are just not a thing so when we get back to the cognitive dissonance thing, we tell ourselves, "I'm good at SEO. I'm good at my job. I know what are the right things to do," but then it takes a while for you to see any results so it's like, "Just kidding, I'm terrible at this because I don't have any evidence to back up how I feel about myself," and that has been the biggest killer for me.I have friends who they're marketing coaches on going viral or they do ads and I'm like, there's such instant gratification with that. It's like, you can say, "Oh, I'm good at this," and then you have all this evidence for it, with SEO, we just don't get that instant gratification and that I think is just a terrible environment in which imposter syndrome just absolutely thrives. It's super unfortunate.Sarah: Yes, I suppose we're feeding it, aren't we? When we're talking about imposter syndrome, I'm picturing this monster or--Kristie: It's like a disease. I picture init infectious disease.Sarah: It's like I'm sorry to bring it up, but when you talk about COVID, you picture this being with scary teeth? I'm feeling the same with imposter syndrome. Earlier you said that most of the time it's not a case of, we can't get rid of these feelings or they're not feeling that go away and it's more about managing feelings. Advice, tips on this?Kristie: Yes, imposter syndrome is funny in that, I think if you are an ambitious person, you just have to get used to imposter syndrome and it's almost kind of the sign that you're on the right path because if you're not taking any risks in your career, it's going to be hard to just get farther. I think complacency, and maybe you get to a certain point in your career and you know that that's the place that you want to be, but I think if you are an ambitious person, you are always going to be bumping up against this. In that sense, no, it cannot be cured. It is not a disease that we can cure, but managing it, I think the most helpful thing for me, if anyone is just to take away one thing from this is addressing your fears and looking them straight in the eyes and really asking what's the worst thing that could happen?If you can own that and understand that. For me as a business owner, the worst possible thing could be, I didn't get anything done for this client. They're super mad. The worst thing that could happen, I guess I boiled it down to, I give them a refund. For me I'm just like, that's just money. My reputation isn't going to go under, my business isn't going to go under, I'm not going to be just an embarrassment or anything. It's just money. If we all can stare our imposter syndrome down and reduce it to the deep fear that we have and just come up with the solution for it, it's like, that's not that bad. If this all goes to shit, then I have a plan for it.I think in the same way, where if we are going to be always bumping up against this, if we're ambitious, just feeling more comfortable and feeling comfortable with the discomfort of something might not go perfectly. That's a therapeutic technique often used for people with perfectionism. Just getting comfortable with this discomfort, getting comfortable with failure too, and just knowing that you likely have more to gain than lose, I think are the mantras that I've told myself to get through these times of really, really intense stress.Sarah: I suppose also with failure, it's how we perceive it. Failure, that word is quite negative? Everyone wants to avoid that, but from failure, you can actually learn things, can't you? The more times you fail, the more learnings that you have, and as you're doing something new, we all know that SEO isn't a one-size-fits-all for all businesses or sectors so you're going to be trying stuff, aren't you? Things aren't going to be working, some things are, but it's just about like measuring that and tracking things that you are doing and being okay with failing, I suppose. Once you've been okay with that, and that feeling, it's like, okay, what is the learnings from this? Would you agree that there's a changing of our thought process about it?Kristie: Definitely. I mean, I know that the greatest lessons I've had in life have not been from success. There's not much to learn when you succeed. It's like you did it right. There's really no lesson there, but when you do fail, that's when you learn something. What could have gone better, whether for myself or the environment that I was in? You're right, SEO is about experimentation.If we think about anything we try as an experiment, instead of, you try this, and it was a contest, and you failed, instead, having more of a curiosity, what's going to happen? How is this going to happen? How can I learn from thOne one of my former bosses told me this, and it's always stuck with me. We'd have clients calling us in the middle of the night, and he'd always say, "There's no such thing as an emergency in marketing."That has struck me over the years of just if someone's losing it, take a step back, and be like, "You know what? If this page is a 404 for the next four hours, I think we're going to be okay." Just stop taking everything so seriously, I think is another thing too, and just really reframe what failure is, I agree.Sarah: Do you think having a label for this because there could be some arguments that this is just part and parcel of being in SEO or having a business, and some people might argue that having a label might make it a bigger thing. What are your thoughts like that? Do you think it's good to have a label for it or can it hinder us?Kristie: I think just working adjacent to the mental health field, I think there is more popularity recently in identifying with different diagnoses, because people, there is so much power in having a name for something. If you're suffering in silence, like imposter syndrome is one of those things, again, I just picture this old disease in a petri dish, it thrives in shame and silence and loneliness. I think the fact that we're calling it out, and everyone just sharing-- The most successful people we can imagine, they have this too. I think there's so much power in labelling it because then we can share it and then we don't feel alone.I think if we feel alone with these feelings, then again, that evidence builds up. It's well, successful people don't have imposter syndrome. It's quite the opposite. I love that it's being talked about more and I do not think that it's making it a bigger deal than it is because I think people in SEO are very logical people. We're quick to dismiss our experience as humans, whether that's how our bodies react to something, or how our feelings are affected. Just taking your body reaction as evidence for that this is real, that is legitimate. You do not need someone outside of yourself to approve your feelings of imposter syndrome. If you feel them, they're there. That's real and that's okay too.Sarah: I think also by having a label, you can also normalize these conversations, can't you? Which is a bit like another thing that we need to be doing with this, isn't it? If we're normalizing this, and people are talking together, it's more like a thing that we're talking about, then that's only going to be a positive thing, isn't it?Kristie: Yes. What a great way to be brought together with different people. I think just more acknowledgement of this in general and in the SEO industry, that's just a deeper thing that brings people together. I don't know, that's me,...
27 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Setting Client Expectations With Billie Hyde
34 minutes | Oct 5, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Creating Content For Both Search Engines & Humans With Abby Reimer
28 minutes | Aug 24, 2021
The One Where We Discuss XML Sitemaps With Michelle Race
In this week's episode, we chat with Michelle Race, Senior Technical SEO at DeepCrawl about all things XML sitemaps.Where to find Michelle:Twitter: https://twitter.com/shellyweb---Episode SponsorThis season has been sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides tech eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. The great news is that you can join them! They're hiring senior digital PR and SEO strategists. Visit thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovosWhere to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptAreej: Hey everyone, welcome to a new episode of the Women in Tech SEO podcast, I'm Areej AbuAli. I am the founder of Women in Tech SEO. So, today's episode is one that I'm excited about. It's all about XML Sitemaps. And joining me today is the brilliant Michelle Race. She's a Senior Technical SEO at DeepCrawl. Hey, Michelle!Michelle: Hello. How are you?Areej: I'm good. How are you doing?Michelle: I'm good, thank you.Areej: I was so excited when I saw that pitch come through because as geeky as it sounds, I love XML site maps. I love everything about them. So, I love the fact that you pitched that across. Thank you for that.Michelle: No worries, I feel like they are often a bit forgotten about. So, I wanted to try and change that.Areej: Yeah. So, can we get started by knowing a little bit more about you, how you got into the world of SEO?Michelle: Yeah, sure. So, after uni I worked at a few agencies as a front-end web developer, just building website templates. My last agency then decided to stop building websites and my boss at the time said "Oh, why don't you look into technical SEO?" as they didn't currently have an expert. It was a bit daunting at first, but knowing things that HTML helped a lot with understanding the basic tags. And then over the years, I taught myself with lots of help from Google Help forums and documentation, and I was Head of technical SEO there for quite a long time. But then in November last year, I joined DeepCrawl as a Senior Technical SEO and I work in a team of amazing technical SEOs and it's so fun. I love it.Areej: Yeah, you work with such awesome people, like some of the best women I know in tech SEO work there so I can imagine how amazing it is to be working alongside them.Michelle: Yeah, I feel very lucky.Areej: How did you find the whole, like, agency versus not agency life?Michelle: Yeah, it was a big change and at DeepCrawl I get to work with large enterprise clients and there's a lot of differences. So, it's really good.Areej: Yeah, I love that. I used to be agency side for a little bit over five years before I moved in-house, and I prefer in-house, and I can imagine how exciting it is in DeepCrawl getting to work with all kinds of clients as well.Michelle: Yes, definitelyAreej: Awesome. And then like for women who are just starting in the industry, because with our audience base, we have women from all walks of life. Any advice you would give them?Michelle: So, I found it a lot easier to understand technical SEO knowing things like HTML and how a page should be structured. So, I'd recommend trying to learn the basics of things like HTML and also set up a website, if you can, because it's really good for testing and then obviously join communities like Women in Tech SEO. And also, Twitter is a great resource to follow experts and ask questions and then definitely join the Google Webmaster hangouts because you just get so much useful information from those. Back when I was learning, it was mainly just the forums. So, the hangouts are just a really good way of being able to ask those very easily and quickly.Areej: That's such good advice. I remember always reading a lot of the recaps of these hangouts. I think I probably felt a bit overwhelmed joining it. I wasn't sure what the setup was going to be. And if I had to make sure that I'm going to ask questions. But whenever I read the recaps or I hear about people who join them, I always hear a lot of positive things.Michelle: Yeah, I'm a lurker on their hangouts, for sure.Areej: Yeah, me too. So, we're here today to talk about the XML sitemap. I remember when I first discovered how important they were when I was just getting started in my technical SEO career. So, for people who are fairly new to the topic, what are XML site maps?Michelle: So essentially XML site maps are a list of the important URLs in your website provided for search engines, and they help to speed up the discovery of URLs and helps Google to understand how your website is structured, a bit like a road map of your site. They normally sit at the root of a website, but you can name them anything you like. So sometimes they can be a bit hard to find. I normally check the robot's THT first via site map reference, but then you can also check the search console to see what has been submitted there. And then you can always try combinations like flashsitemap.xml but there's no requirement to link to the main robot. So sometimes they can be a bit tricky to find. There are a few guidelines to follow for site maps, so the maximum number is 50,000 URLs in the site map, and it has to be under 50 megabytes uncompressed. You also need specific tags to be valid. So, I'd pull up the documentation to make sure that you've included all the required ones as well.Areej: Yeah, and we can make sure that we link as well to some of those main guidelines and documentation in the show notes just so that it's helpful for others who might be approaching the topic in a fairly new way. As I mentioned at the beginning, I was excited when I saw your pitch because in the last two years, even of doing Women in Tech SEO, I've never had a workshop pitch or even a podcast one that's come through specifically about this topic. So, I'd love to dig a bit deeper and know more about why you love XML sitemaps and why you feel they're very important.Michelle: Well, I just think they're amazing resources, not just for search engines, but also technical SEOs. And sometimes I think they can be set up and quickly forgotten about or not checked or optimised because there's a lot of different ways that you can set them up. For search engines, the benefits are, if they're set up correctly, then an easy to access a list of your important URLs and I will be saying important URLs a lot in this. They can be used to easily highlight new or updated pages for search engines to crawl and recrawl. You can also provide search engines with a lot of information for search so you can include things like images, and you can also make special site maps so things like videos or Google news. But you have to make sure that you read the documentation carefully. So, there are some differences for Google News site maps, for example, they should only contain 1,000 URLs and only articles from the past two days. So, there are some differences in how you set them up to be aware of. And then for technical SEOs, they are really good for analysis, you can include site maps within crawls, and you can find issues like orphaned pages, errors and diagnose poor internal linking. But you can also submit them in the search console. And there are specific errors and excluded reports just for submitted URLs. And you can also analyse individual site maps and narrow them down in-depth on issues or trends, which is good for large websites when you just want a bit more focus on where to look at first.Areej: Yeah, and I can imagine, the bigger the website is, the more challenging it can potentially be to look into site maps in more detail, like analyse them audit them and so forth, as opposed to a straightforward website that has very similar templates.Michelle: Yeah. The amount of information when you just look at all discovered URLs compared to submitted URLs, you can just make sure that you look at errors just for your specific category sitemap, which may be more important than, say, your product one. And it helps find issues a lot quicker. So, you can see trends if there's an issue with a product template, if they are all set to no-index, that would show a lot faster, for example.Areej: Yeah, and I think even though Google search console still gets a lot of heat in terms of it might not be as helpful or it's missing data, but a lot of the more recent in the past year or so updates have made it so helpful to know exactly what's wrong with one site map and so forth.Michelle: Yeah. The fact that you can just see coverage for submitted site maps, I think is brilliant.Areej: Yeah. And do you feel that every single website needs an XML sitemap?Michelle: So not necessarily if it's a small website. Google says in the documentation that 500 URLs or fewer doesn't need one. But in my opinion, if it's simple to create one, especially if it's dynamic, then you may as well because you do get specific submitted reports for analysis and search console and you can provide that extra information like last modified days and you can include things like images. And the main benefit for websites is if your website is new or if it's large and has pages that may be hard to find by crawling. So, this just gives a clear list of them.Areej: Yeah, definitely, and sometimes even when you're analysing a website or crawling it or so forth, just crawling it in terms of seeing what's in the site and what's not, yeah, you can get a lot of information from that and you can help you.Michelle: Yeah, exactly, and if you just want to check your important pages for, I don't know, what the page titles are, you can easily just use that sitemap list to just analyse those pages. So having that list also benefits you as a technical SEO because you already have that important list for checking.Areej: Yeah. So, what would you say are some of the things that should be included in an XML sitemap?Michelle: So, your map should include your canonical URLs, so these should be the URLs you want to be indexed and it should contain a 200-status code. It should also be an absolute URL. So, this means it should contain the domain and the preferred protocols such as HTTP or HTTPS and W or none W. One thing to make sure of is that I've seen it in the past where a website can be available via W and none W and then a site map is generated for both versions. And then in those types of maps, you get the W version and the non-W in two site maps and that can be very confusing for Google. So normally you'd have a redirect to the preferred version, but that's just to be aware that sometimes you can get extra site maps generated that you may not realise. And then you want to make sure that your canonical URLs are also linked in the web crawl as well. They could be considered doorway pages if they are not linked, which obviously can get penalised. Your URL should also be UTFA encoded and escaped and also make sure that any useful information for search is included. So, you may want to include things like images or videos or make things like a Google News site map. You can also include your alternate versions so hreflang can be placed entirely within an XML sitemap. This can be a good solution if you have a lot of hreflang annotations because it will take up less room on the page and then make sure you only use one hreflang implementation method. That's the only thing I would say because I've seen it in the past where it is implemented both in the XML sitemap and in the head tags and then sometimes in the HP header as well. And although it won't be an error as such, if you have different hreflang's in each of these, it can send very confusing signals and it's often harder to analyse and fix it. So that is the only thing I would say about that. And then you can also include mobile alternates as well. If you have a separate mobile website, you can create that in your XML sitemap too.Areej: That's such good advice about hreflang implementation. I know I've seen previously a few people kind of recommended it as one of the ways when it comes to internationalisation. So, thank you for adding the different caveats as well and what people need to be aware of and need to make sure of because this is one of the things that can easily go wrong.Michelle: Yes. I've seen it in the past where there are different hreflang implementations in two different methods and it's just very hard to unpick it. And then Google gets very confused.Areej: Yeah, yeah. And in terms of the things that we should make sure we avoid when it comes to XML site maps, what comes to mind there?Michelle: So generally, you want to avoid non-indexable URLs in your site maps. So, examples of these would be URLs that are broken, no index, canonicalized or redirecting. Avoid putting pagination, paginated URLs, or session ID URLs and those are blocked by robots TXT, and then duplicate URLs as well. So, this isn't strictly an error, but you don't need to include a URL more than once in a sitemap or put the same URL in multiple site maps. There's no benefit to this and you're just increasing the size of your site maps. So, I would avoid that if possible. And then also don't include pages behind a login such as admin pages because Google won't be able to access those. There are exceptions, though, so it is recommended when migrating and in the Google documentation for site moves to upload an XML site map of your old URLs when you migrate. So, this is useful for a couple of reasons. It helps Google to crawl and find the redirects, but you can also track as the old URLs fall from the index as well. So, you can see the index count for those drops. And it's also the same, for instance, if you have a lot of no index pages that you're trying to remove from the index. So, if you want Google to see these faster, you can submit these via a separate site map temporarily and track their index status. Again, both of these shouldn't be long-standing site maps. They should be temporary, but they are really good for both of those reasons. And another thing to avoid is putting everything in the site map so not everything needs to go in, only include your important URLs. Would you want a user to find that URL in search, for example? So, some tools and plugins which automatically generate site maps will include everything by default. You should be selective and make sure that anything not necessary is not included. It doesn't mean that it won't be indexed. It just means that you're not showing it as a priority for Google. So, for example, if you have been blog category listing pages, you may not want those in there.Areej: Yeah, that's excellent advice. I mean, everything from potentially paginated content or tags, e-commerce sites and all the different variations of filters or search or things like that. And you're right, especially with people who are relying on plugins that automatically come in with CMSs. And then what ends up happening is it just takes every single URL on your site and outputs it in the site map. So that's excellent advice.Michelle: Yeah, it can increase the size of your site map as well. So that's why it's always good to just crawl your site map and just double-check what's there.Areej: And in terms of, you know, you have a brand-new site that you're investigating or you've done some auditing to it, you can see that there are some problems with its XML site maps. What kind of tips do you have on how you can potentially improve it? What is the common type of things that might potentially come up that you can recommend to website developers and so forth to take a look at and improve?Michelle: Yeah, sure. So, the first thing I would check is for any orphaned URLs. So, this is when a URL is found in an XML site map but not in the web crawl. So, you can find these by crawling the website with a tool like DeepCrawl or another tool like Screaming Frog and including your XML site maps within the Web crawl, if an orphaned URL highlighted is important, it can signal internal links and issues. Maybe the crawler couldn't find it for some reason that you need to investigate, or it could just not be linked at all. And in that case, I would be trying to link that within the website. Sometimes dynamic site maps can cause unintended URLs to be accessible and indexed. So, as I said earlier, some tools can include everything which isn't set to a draft or no index. So, this means a new page in the admin, which you don't think anyone can find because it isn't linked, is now shown in Google. And I do have a funny related story to this. At my last agency, I was reviewing orphaned URLs for a client, and I found a concerning page with a URL that was someone's name followed by a rude word, which I'm not going to repeat here. And I was shocked. And I thought maybe it's an angry ex-worker who's maybe been fired, but it turns out it was the boss. He made it for a laugh in the admin and he didn't realise that it would be indexed without being linked to. So, it was a very awkward situation where we found it and we then had to tell them about it. And it wasn't ranking for much. But it's a good reminder of why you should check what's in your site maps. Yeah, it was a strange one. But the more common things that I found find are when PPC landing pages are made and they're not linked on the website, but they're not set to no index, and that means they end up being indexed because of their setting that, you know, keeps them in the site map. And then you find out that your organic pages are competing with your PPC pages, which have accidentally been indexed. And that's a more common issue that I find for orphaned pages.Areej: Yeah, that's really good advice. And I think it's one as well where we need to make sure that we're working quite closely with our PPC teams and we're doing these tricks and we're not just working in a silo, and it ends up that you don't notice that stuff if we're not keeping tabs on activity from both ends.Michelle: Yeah, definitely, because you may not know that these pages are being created and in the first instance that know notice when you see them as the orphaned pages.Areej: Yeah. And then so other than orphaned pages, what other common themes do tend to come across or important...
30 minutes | Aug 17, 2021
The One Where We Discuss SERP Features With Diana Richardson
This week we chat with Diana Richardson, Social Media & Community Manager for the SEO division of Semrush, all about SERP features.Where to find Diana:Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianaRich013LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/%F0%9F%8D%B7-diana-richardson-8965a317/ ---Resources:https://www.semrush.com/blog/---Episode SponsorThis season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for its eCommerce SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running working with brands like Bloom & Wild and Not On The High Street. They are running an exclusive Shopify SEO roundtable for eCommerce leaders on September 23rd with limited spaces available. If you're interested, reach out to them via thisisnovos.com or message their co-founder Antonio Wedral on LinkedIn.Where to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode Transcript:Sarah: Hello and a very warm welcome to the Women in Tech SEO podcast, I am Sarah McDowell, SEO Content Executive at Holland and Barrett, and I am your host for today. We have Diana Richardson joining us today, who is social media and community manager for the SEO unit at SEMRush. Hello, Diana.Diana: Sarah. Oh, my gosh. I could just listen to you all day. I love your voice.Sarah: Thank you. Maybe I need to think of ways to make money out of my voice. Maybe that's what I need to do?Diana: Yeah, you definitely should.Sarah: I feel like we've already cleared something up. So, it is SEMRush rather than S-E-M-rush?Diana: Yes, and we have a lot of fun with how you pronounce our name. But in December of 2020, we went through a rebrand and we revisited our logo, and you'll notice our name is not capitalised as much as it used to be. So, we definitively made it Semrush in December of 2020. But in my career of all these years, I've always called it SEM Rush. So, it was a big change for me too. I've just now kind of get it down.Sarah: There you go. You've heard it here official. Well, let's start by getting to know you, Diana, so please would you be so kind and give us a brief overview of yourself? So, what you do and how you got into this wonderful world of SEO.Diana: My SEO journey started in 2006 when I answered an ad in the paper. Yes, we did not have things like indeed at that time and neither was SEO as a career choice. So, the ad was actually for a marketing specialist. And so, I sat down for the interview and the woman who would become my manager described SEO and PPC to me, and it was with a company that was transitioning from print to digital. So, I learned this from the ground up, brand spanking new, no training in college, with my clients, hands-on for 15 years. It’s the best way to learn. I was with them for quite a long time, but then I wanted to branch out beyond SEO. And so, I found a job as a digital marketing director where I got to learn social media, email, branding, storytelling, all of those beautiful elements, and then actually networked my way to the job here at Semrush, which combines both of my loves, which is talking to people and SEO. So, it worked out great.Sarah: Are you ready for me to do a quick-fire round of questions?Diana: Yes.[Quick Fire Questions]Sarah: There are loads of ways that you can be creative. You don't have to draw. What empowers you to be the brilliant woman that you are today?Diana: Besides my genes? I love this question because I think it has been a 38-year journey, right? We learn things every step of the way. And what has empowered me to be how I am, where I am, is finding that it was OK to be me. Many, many more doors have opened for me just being myself, including my job with Semrush and being part of the Women in Tech SEO community. And I've found such satisfaction and a lot more growth career and personally just being my regular self.Sarah: I love that. What advice would you give women starting in the industry?Diana: Fight for experience, put your nose in every possible scenario, task, project you possibly can. You're going to be tired, but that experience will create who knows what for you and your career is ever-evolving. And you never know what's going to lead you to something so satisfying for you, so experience as much as you possibly can digitally in the world of your job and life, but volunteer and things like that. And everything matters and everything counts towards your career. So, and if there's something you want to do like I fought for this, I like pushed myself into senior management my two jobs ago because I wanted to. And I was like, I'm just going to go to this meeting. And I just did it. And no one told me, no.Sarah: Wonderful, wonderful advice there. I think we should now get stuck into the main topic of today's episode. And we are talking about SERP features.Diana: Love SERP features. I can't wait to talk about them.Sarah: Well, let's start with the basics. What are SERP features? What do we mean?Diana: So SERP features are everything that shows up on the Google results page that are not paid ads or the organic listings. So SERP features are the maps that you see, those quick answers, the knowledge, the rectangle that you see on the side, the reviews. If an organic website has three or four links underneath them, those are all SERP features.Sarah: And is there a type or category of keywords that tend to bring up SERP features?Diana: Classic SEO answer here. It depends.Sarah: I love it. I mean, you've got to get it, haven’t you?Diana: We're 8 minutes in and we had to get it in there. I'll tell you this, though, the Semrush tool, multiple tools within our tool suite will help you determine which keywords trigger SERP features, what keywords you are ranking for that triggers SERP features that you're not showing up in. And we've got some tools in there that will show you where your competitors are not showing up in the SERP features. So, you can take advantage of that or kick them out of where they are showing. So, without having to do manual searches doing it yourself, which works too. But why not have a tool that will do it for you? So, a lot of the time SERP features are like we'll respond to questions. So, you know, you get the instant answers off the top. Or the people also ask a lot of the times there, the longer tail keywords you're looking for reviews, you're looking for information on a specific person, so personally branded or branded searches tend to trigger some of the SERP features. So really, it's the intent of the keyword, if there is a SERP feature that matches. I mean, if you type in your hotel reservation, your hotel thing pops up. So, it's based a lot on intent.Sarah: Definitely. Definitely. And I think as Google carries on involving enhancing user experience, they're just going to introduce more and more SERP features, so just because setting keywords don't bring up SERP features now doesn't mean that they won't in the future.Diana: But also, I think this is Google trying to be the resource, so think about Google's evolution, it was, hey, here's just 10 links to information off of Google that you might find interesting. But now the evolution of Google is, hey, you don't even have to leave Google to get the answers that you want. So, I think, yeah, we will see more and more SERP features. I think Bing will evolve their own as well, so they can be the source and not necessarily have to send people away, which is good and bad for SEO, because obviously, SEO is the art of bringing people to your website. But at the same time, that's why I want us to talk about SERP features today, because there are so many opportunities for you to still get that traffic outside of trying to rack your brain and your time and energy and trying to get number one, two or three.Sarah: You have led me on to my next question beautifully. Why should we be going after SERP features then?Diana: Yeah, for a couple of reasons. And it goes beyond SEO reasons, too. So, the SEO reasons are it's really difficult to get into position one, especially if you are in a competitive field, especially if you are competing against somebody that's already established and has a higher authority. Getting to those top three positions is excruciatingly slow and sometimes you don't get time for that. But no worries because you have SERP future opportunities. Think about your mobile experience. How far do you have to scroll on Google on your phone just to even get to the first two or three results? Right. It takes some hand scrolling there to like some wrist action to get you to those positions because it's taken up by the paid ads and the SERP features. So, you can rank above the organic listings in and of themselves by optimising for SERP features. The other benefit is that if you trigger a SERP feature, then that is showcasing to the audience and the searcher a lot of street cred, because we know as consumers, as searchers that Google doesn't show SERP features for everybody's website. That's why it's competition. If everybody, had it, you know, it wouldn't be beneficial. So, by you optimising and showing up in the SERP feature, you've got just this extra level of authority and street cred with your audience just by being present there. The other reason you should be aiming for a presence in the SERP features is for branding purposes, not even an SEO thing, just like a brand in front of more eyeballs. You know, you still look at those ads that show up. You might not click on them, but you're still aware that they are there. And that is a branding tactic. So, if there's even more motivation to start working on these SERP features, it's to get your brand in front of more eyes.Sarah: I mean, those are loads of reasons that you should be aiming and going for these SERP features, isn't it? I don't know if this is an easy question to answer because I know that they are tricky things to master. But are there any tips and tricks that you can do to win these SERP feature spots?Diana: Yeah, and a lot of the search features revolve around letting the search engines know what this content is. So clean structure like our site architecture, clean navigation. Clean code is really important, clean schema. And if you're not familiar with what schema markup is it is adding extra bits of ID code in your HTML that identify, this is a question, this is an address. I do think of it as h tags and things like that because you're telling the search engines, hey, this is a headline, the concept is the same. You're just identifying this piece of information, so the search engine doesn't have to connect the dots in and of itself or for itself. And then you want a lot of it is a question-based too. So, you want to be asking questions in your content and answering questions in your content. And that's just great for user experience anyway because someone's on your website, they got questions, so just help them out anyway by providing the answers. Be straightforward.Sarah: That’s the ultimate goal here, isn't it? Is that you're helping your audience and your potential customers out there, you want to provide them with the most valuable answer. Oftentimes what I've seen is with the featured snippet where it's like a paragraph in the textbox in the top, position zero. When you go onto that page, you'll see that what Google has done is taken a sentence or two from one bit of the content and then you'll find the end of the paragraph somewhere else. So, is it important if you're going to feature snippets that these have to be at the top of your content or if you come across these sorts of examples if you make it easier by combining that in your content? If my question is making any sense at all, is that a thing that we can try?Diana: Well, you're bringing back an old school SEO tactic. Is the content at the top of the page more important than the content at the bottom of the page? And it is, I think, in traditional SEO. I mean, I've clicked on the featured snippet, paragraphs two, and it's been a bullet point in the middle of the page. And Google highlights it now for you. I don't know if you've noticed that, too. They highlight the content that is like the blurb that they have selected. So, I think content structure plays a big part as opposed to it being at the top. I think just structuring it. So, making clear H tags, clear bullet points, numbering those bullet points if that's applicable. Sarah: I was just going to ask that. If we're comparing bullet points to numbered bullet points, would you say you always try and use numbered ones?Diana: Only if it makes sense. If it's step by step or a list, then yes, numbers make sense, but just use it as it makes sense. If you have three bullets pointed ideas, then you don't need to put them in order. Because I think, and this is just my opinion, don't take this for whatever you want. But I think Google would prioritise something that has a number one next to it because that's what it knows. So, if you don't need numbers by it, I wouldn't put them.Sarah: Interesting.Diana: I don't know. Google does that. Knowing how Google understands content and understands priority, you know, that's just something.Sarah: I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it? One issue, I suppose, and you addressed it earlier is that with the featured snippets, what Google's doing there is trying for you not to leave the listing pages, the SERPs. And as SEOs, we want to get people onto our website. So, is there any sort of ways that you can make the most out of SERP features? So, is there any way that you can entice people to click?Diana: So, I also think we need to shift our goals a little bit as an SEO because yes, traditionally it is driving traffic to our websites. But isn't marketing just being there for the audience when they need us? You know what? That's not even marketing. That's just being a good business or a good brand. And so, if you can be present when someone needs you and answer the question without them having to leave Google, you, the brand, or the business have still solidified that relationship. That person started doing that search for that question and you have the answer. They know Google isn't the answer. They know Google pulls the answer from other content. Google didn't write this piece of content. They pulled it from you. And so, you as the business have made that relationship with that person, regardless of if they have come to the website because you were there for them when they had a question.Sarah: And it goes back to your branding point, I suppose, if you're present and you're owning everywhere, because ultimately, whatever space you're in, whatever business you in, whatever vertical you in, you want to aim to be like the Wikipedia of your industry. Like if someone has a question that they want to know anything regarding what you sell, you should be coming up and by you coming up more and they associate your name, who you are, they associate you with being like the authoritative people in the space who know what they're talking about then you're winning.Diana: Yes and no because I think that it's about relationships. So, if you don't come up as often but someone, a loyal customer found you anyway, maybe you were positioned 11, maybe you are on the second page, but you had the solution for this person that now they don't need to search for you anymore. Now they're returning traffic. I think that is more important than being Wikipedia. Do you trust Wikipedia every single time? Is Amazon always the answer? You know you don't have to be the big boy, to be the big player, to be the solution for somebody and I think you build customer loyalty, which is the true, true thing we're seeking out, right, is that having this customer in this audience base, you can do that in a variety of ways. And you don't have to be expending the energy to be the Wikipedia or the Amazon, because that's exhausting, and it might bring in irrelevant traffic rather than your core audience.Sarah: Yes. And I think relevancy is key. Going after subjects, keywords, topics that matter to you as a business?Diana: I'd rather have 10 right audience members than 1000 wrong. You know, I'd rather my traffic be lower and retain those people than have all the traffic in the world and no one's converting.Sarah: Exactly. It is the wrong metric, isn't it, that we're looking at.Diana: We've got to start thinking about people which is tough for us because we're in a very data-centric industry and we base a lot of what we do on data. But we must keep in mind that there are actual people behind this data. I'm creating a presentation for a conference I'll be speaking out in September around this topic, like around using data to connect to your people, because these are humans that create this data. It's not arbitrary. So, we must remember that these metrics are a result of human beings connecting with us.Sarah: Exactly. Exactly. And you don't want to end up focusing and getting stuck on the wrong metrics. You want to focus on the metrics that matter. How would you go about tracking and measuring success with SERP features?Diana: Using Semrush. We have lots of fabulous tools. Our position tracking tool will track your SERP features. Because this is another conundrum, because if you're in position zero and you don't get that traffic, how do you know that that you were even seen? So, you can use position tracking in your Semrush tool suite to show you those results. It will show you not only where you're ranking and your change in organic position, but where you're showing up in SERP features. You can preview, you know, the Google results page for that just in case you wanted proof in the pudding or something. And you can also check on that, as I said earlier, for your competitors. So, there are great ways to track it in other tools outside of Google Analytics or whatever you're using for your website traffic.Sarah: Can you point our listeners in the direction of any recommended resources, articles, content on this subject?Diana: Yeah, I mean, our blog is great. We have a lot of fun talking about SERP features, and that's probably what's fuelled my passion for it too. But we've also done some cool studies recently, like actual studies around the power of SERP features. We had a great one a few months ago around the people also ask section. We've got one on featured...
31 minutes | Aug 10, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Schema With Beth Barnham
In this week's episode, we chat with Beth Barnham, Technical SEO Specialist at Liberty Marketing about all things schema.Where to find Beth:Twitter: https://twitter.com/bethbarnham---Episode SponsorThis season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for its eCommerce SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running working with brands like Bloom & Wild and Not On The High Street. They are running an exclusive Shopify SEO roundtable for eCommerce leaders on September 23rd with limited spaces available. If you're interested, reach out to them via thisisnovos.com or message their co-founder Antonio Wedral on LinkedIn.Where to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptAreej: Hey, everyone, welcome to a new episode of the Women in Tech SEO podcast, I'm Areej AbuAli and I am the founder of Women in Tech SEO. Today's episode is all about schema. And joining me today is the brilliant Beth Barnham, who is the Technical SEO Specialist at Liberty Marketing. Hey, Beth!Beth: Hey, Areej. Thanks for having me.Areej: I'm so excited that we had a pitch come through about schema. So, thank you for pitching yourself forward.Beth: No, that's cool. It's really exciting and it's one of my favourite topics. So, anybody who knows me will know that I talk about it a lot because it's just really fun. And I like to just have a lot of fun with everything. That's all there is to say.Areej: So, can you tell us a little bit more about you and how you got into the world of SEO?Beth: Yeah, sure. So, I'm a Technical SEO Specialist at Liberty Marketing based in Cardiff at the moment, but I've got an agency background. So, when I finished uni, I knew that I wanted to work in digital marketing but wasn't really sure where. So, I kind of you know, digital marketing is kind of a massive sphere, isn't it? So, I went to an agency that as a graduate style scheme, and I worked through PPC, content, social media and SEO. And originally, I thought that social media was going to be what I wanted to do and ironically, I hate it now. So, I found SEO was something that I. I liked understanding how people got to where they did online without having to kind of pay for it. So, I knew I didn't focus on that element of it when I was in that agency. It paved the way, as a lot of SEOs say, and you just kind of find your way. Then I worked at another couple of agencies before I ended up at Liberty. And Liberty is kind of carved out my technical side, which is something that I love. And I just want to get as much exposure and understanding of tech as I can. So that's why the Women in Tech SEO is brilliant, because it gives you that exposure to other women in the industry. But also, there's a lot of chat with the tech side of things as well. So, it's perfect.Areej: Yeah. And how do you find working agency side?Beth: Well, I can't compare it with anything because I've only really worked agency-side apart from other non-digital jobs. So, I love it. I love the variety and my mind is really busy. So, I like to I can work in one industry in the morning and another in the afternoon and I get that exposure to all different industries, and I learn loads of different things that I wouldn't do before. So, I like that. And I like the difference and speaking with clients and just having like-minded people around. Sometimes you don't get in the house if it's a smaller team. So that's kind of my reason for an agency. But yeah, it's quite biased because I've only ever really been an agency.Areej: I did agency for five years before moving in-house. And there's so much that you learn when your agency side. With SEOs who are starting, for example, I always advise them to start with the agency side, because you're just going to pick up so much and as you said, like the variety of different websites and industries and projects that you can work on, you don't get that exposure when you're in-house.Beth: Totally. And I worked for an agency that was small before my current job. And that was more of a digital marketing role. So, it gave me exposure to kind of account management, different types of content and social. So, it told me what I did like and what I didn't like. So then that kind of led me to a bigger agency where I could just focus on one area. So, yeah, I think it's good.Areej: And speaking of people who are starting, like, what advice would you give specifically to women who are starting in the industry?Beth: I think it would just be to if you know that digital is something that you want to do, just read a lot, get in touch with, there's a lot of communities out there, obviously Women in Tech is one but there's a lot, there's a lot of resources. Twitter is a great place to start, as well as a lot of people on SEO Twitter that will help you if you've got a problem or you want to learn more or you want to just understand a certain issue or how to get into the industry. But I think the biggest thing maybe, I think probably for women is to be happy in knowing that you can do it. So even if you start and you don't know anything, because we've all been there and I was guilty of it when I first started I looked at people in the industry and I looked at people at Brighton SEO and I thought, you know, I don't know anything because these people know everything, they're doing all these talks. And I think one thing to remember is just that everybody starts somewhere, and you have to believe in yourself that you're going to get better even if you don't know, you know, what you think you should know. You probably know more than that as well. So just stick with it. And if you're interested in digital, then it will come because there's so much to learn, so much to know that you can just get involved in it and it will just you soak up the knowledge because I think we're all learning, aren't we? I don't think everybody knows everything that there is to know about Google, it changes every day. I think sometimes we question it ourselves. Areej: Yeah, we're always learning.Beth: Yeah. Yeah, totally. There's never a day that I think, oh, well, I knew that. I didn't need to get of that this morning because I knew that, you know, I learn something every day. As cliche as that sounds great.Areej: So, we're here to talk about all things schema. And I think just for people who might be fairly new to the topic, it would be good to get an introduction behind what is schema and how is it used across the Web?Beth: Cool. So, schema is a form of structured data, which you can use on your website to make it reachable and communicate the intent of your page to search engines and crawlers. It helps in user experience and intent, so it serves the relevant information that you're trying to convey in a readable format. And search engines are getting smarter and smarter every day, so they love anything that smart and they can help their machine learning techniques and anything that they're trying to improve on. And it's important that schema is a form of structured data and structured data can be in any form, including RDFA, microdata and JSON-LD. But Google and other major search engines prioritise sites that use JSON-LD and supports available for that particular type. So, there is a lot of action that's needed in the industry to kind of upgrade and translate that. But there's a lot of websites that don't use structured data at all, I think the stat is 33% of sites that don't use it. And it's a really bel piece of code that you can put on your site because it can tell, as I said, it can tell search engines and crawlers exactly what the intent of your page is. So, if somebody is searching for a recipe or asking a question, it kind of says that search says to Google. And then your site says, you know what, I've got the answer. You can show them this in a little snippet. And that's essentially what it does. It's just providing the right information for the right intent, for the right search. Areej: That's a good way to summarise it. And, you know, what are some of the common types and properties of schema that you tend to come across, especially when you're working agency side so deal with a lot of different types of websites?Beth: Yeah, I think the organisation is the most basic and that is one that we see a lot. And organisation for anyone that doesn’t know is essentially marking up what the organisation is. So, name, address, CEO, what the company does, the services, all that kind of stuff is within that type of organisation. But best practice is to have that on one page of the site. So, whether that's the contact page or the home page, whatever is relevant for that particular site. But a lot of websites that we see have it on every single page consequently Google doesn't know which page is your organisation page or whether it's a product page or how to differentiate. So, it's really important that when auditing the site, which I think we will go into in a little while, is to know the intent of a page and what schema is going to go to suit that purpose. And then that's what's going to help you get a rich snippet or something in the search.Areej: Yeah. And I think, you know, that touches nicely into this idea of, well, what type of metrics should we be looking out for when it comes to, let's say we have implemented schema and now I want to know, OK, what metrics should I be benchmarking against or monitoring?Beth: So, I think just looking at the search for, if you've got a particularly long-tail phrase, so if you want to know an FAQ question that's popular amongst searches and you want to fit into that top snippet, you can analyse the search to see whether there's a featured snippet that's taken, whether there's an opportunity there, how hard the opportunity is. And you can do that in keyword monitoring tools, the SEO monitor and SEMrush do it quite well. So, it can tell you exactly where there's a gap on there. And then what you can do is you can take that data and you can say, OK, we've got this FAQ page, is it going to work? Do we have a keyword volume that's going to match this? And what’re our chances of doing well here? But it is important to note that it's not a ranking factor at the moment that we know about. So, you might do all of this work, but it's not going to increase your rankings, but it might give you a featured snippet. So that's an important balance that we're trying to make there, so you might appear higher up first for those snippets and the different types of searches. But your rankings aren't going to improve.Areej: And at what point should the websites or clients in general start prioritising the idea of implementing schema? Is it one of those quick wins that can be looked at at the start of a project or are it a type of bonus point that you can do after implementing a lot of foundational stuff?Beth: I think it's predominately after the foundational stuff. So, I would always say, build the foundations, get that keyword research, and understand where you're going to distribute those keywords to ensure that each page’s intent is exactly as you would want it to be or exactly as searchers would want it to be, rather. And there are so many different ways of finding out that intent, using keyword research tools, using NLP tool from Google and making sure that you've got that nailed before you try adding schema. You can add schema, but you probably won't see the benefit of it if the pages aren't optimised for whatever the intent is. I think that's the key thing.Areej: That's a really good way to put it where it's, you know, it's something that can be done. And it could be for some websites, quite low effort, but then they're not going to be able to see, you know, the advantage or the benefit from doing it if the foundation isn't there.Beth: Yeah. There are a few quick wins, and it might work for some clients, but in a classic situation, it does depend on the client. And if the website has some good foundations and you think, yeah, they've got a really good FAQ page and people are searching for this, if it's a well-known brand, then absolutely go in and do that. But if it's not a well-known brand and you know, it's a strategy to work on the SEO, then work on the SEO first, see where you go in, and then something that you can add at a later date.Beth: And let's say, you know, brand new clients, brand new project. How do you go about updating a website schema?Beth: So initially I would do a full tech audit for the client if they were brand new and I'd find out what's going on with the site. I'd never suggested some schema without doing it, I guess it's like going to the mechanic and not looking under the bonnet. You have to have a look at everything to make sure that everything is working or not working as the case may be and where there's opportunity. So that would be my first port of call. And then after that, I would do a full audit of the schema. So, I'd pull a crawl from either Screaming Frog or Site Bulb and I'd have a look where the structured data is present on the site, whether there are any errors, whether there are any warnings, what the type is, so if it's Microdata or RDFA or anything else, whether there are any problems with that. And then I pull out the URLs that have anything that isn't JSON-LD and I would pass that on to the client or the developer. And say this is something that we need to convert if it's relevant for that client. And then anything that is an error, I'd have a look at the code just to see what the error is and why the tools are saying that. And usually, when this is the case, I'd look manually on the page as well and go through the structures data tool and the rich snippets tool and also the validator on schema.org. And I just make sure that basically, all the tests are telling me the same thing. And if there's a problem, then I will go through the code and see what the problem is and see if there's something that we can quickly fix and then tell the client what the situation is there. And then once it's finished or if there are no problems, I would then go through each URL, and I'd pull the crawl from one of the tools and pick up where the schema isn't present on the site and where there's an opportunity. So, if it's an eCom site and there's a lot of products on there, is there a possibility to have products schema on there? Is there a category page where we could put the collection page schema on there? An FAQ page and all of these different things and I'd look through the search gallery to make sure that I'm not missing out on anything that potentially I haven't thought about. And I'd always just look at all the resources that are available just to make sure. And then I'd get writing. By this time, I would probably consult the client and then get writing once everything was good. And then after that, once I'd written it, I'd test it and speak to the client about how we're going to implement it, which I think we're going to go on to.Areej: Yeah. And when you're working with clients, again, touching just on the point that when you do that agency side it can feel a little bit challenging sometimes to be able to get Buy-In for it, not just for the implementation, but even for conducting signing off retainer on time to conduct the audit and have engineers from the sign-off updating the schema. How can you get that buy-in and how can you get that sign-off, emphasising the importance of making these changes?Beth: Yeah, it can be really difficult, but I always use examples, so if I've got a particular client in a particular industry and I've got an example of what it looks like, so whether that's a client of mine already or if I just look at the search to see what's out there, I'll just show the client what they could look like. And sometimes I'll just mock-up a bit of code quickly and I'll put it through the Google results test. And that spits out what your schema would look like in the search. And you can just take a screenshot of that and show the client, look, this is your FAQ page in an accordion on the SERPs or whatever it might be. And that helps them to see and to visualise it. And so, what I like to do is, is to give clients as much visual as possible, because sometimes these clients are just in the world of their brand or marketing or whatever role they've got, maybe they're just a manager, they're not technically minded, maybe they're not focused on SEO. After all, they're digital marketing as an umbrella or something like that. So, to go to them and say, yeah, I think we should put schema on the site, they're going to say, what are you talking about? So, it's just really important to give them that visual and say this is what it could be this is why we use it, and this is how it's going to help you potentially using case studies or examples from the SERPs that we can see already.Areej: Yeah, this is such a great idea. And I think the more visual it is, the more the client can understand this is what they could potentially have. So, yeah, that's a good idea. And also, I guess, being agency side as well, you probably have several case studies where, you know, other clients through implementing this have managed to achieve that number of features, things along those lines that you can bring up and mention.Beth: Yeah. And there's a lot of examples that we can kind of mock-up. So, on our team, we're quite lucky to have a couple of guys who are quite technical. So, if I need a hand with anything or if I don't have a specific capacity, I can always go to the team and just shout. So, our team dynamic is really good like that. So, we kind of share that as well. So, if they've had a client that's done well, but I've not had one in this specific area, but I'm still trying to maybe do a pitch or work with a client to get that buy-in. I can always work with someone from our team, which is nice because you don't always get that. So, it's very lucky.Areej: Yeah. And I'm sure even the client would appreciate it at one point because some clients are smaller than others and some don't have a lot of technical resources from their end. And so, it's like the more support and the more recommendation and the more detail we can provide with these recommendations, the better.Beth: Exactly. That's it. And it's great to see when we work with clients, particularly those who aren't as technical-minded, it's nice to see the account grow because they trust us to do that. And that's what it's all about I guess when you when you've got an agency and having that relationship is really important and that trust is something that you just can't take for granted.Areej: And so, on the point of implementing schema then. So, we have our recommendations, we've gotten buy-in, the client knows more or less what they're signing up for...
30 minutes | Aug 3, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Starting Out In SEO With Dhriti Shashikanth
On this week's episode we chat to Dhriti Shashikanth, Account Executive at Mindshare London, about starting out in the SEO industry after graduating from university.Where to find Dhriti:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dhriti-s-451969166/---Episode SponsorThis season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. Check them out on thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovosWhere to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptSarah: Hello and a very warm welcome to the Women in Tech SEO podcast, I am Sarah McDowell, SEO Content Executive at Holland and Barrett, and I am your host for today. Joining me on today's show, I have Dhriti Shashikanth, Account Executive at Mindshare London, who is going to be talking to us about starting in SEO as a beginner and graduate from university. So welcome to the show.Dhriti: Hi! Thanks for inviting me.Sarah: Thank you for joining us. How are you doing? I mean, it's Thursday evening, Friday tomorrow. Have you got the Friday vibes going on?Dhriti: 100%. It's been such a long and busy month so far and it's only the 8th. It's been a long, busy one but looking forward to the weekend.Sarah: Well, it sounds like you pretty much deserve this weekend that's coming up then. To kick things off and to start this podcast, can you give our wonderful listeners a brief overview of yourself, what you do tell us a bit about you.Dhriti: Sure. My name is Dhriti and I'm an account executive at Mindshare UK. So, I've been at my current agency for a little bit over four months, just past my probation, which is great and currently living in London. And I'm quite excited that COVID has finished or like sort of finished, but it's lovely to go out and meet people as well. So, I'm enjoying that side of things. Would you like to know anything more?Sarah: I do have some quickfire questions. [Quick Fire Questions]Sarah: Well, I mean, I'm going to be Googling that after the show. I'm imagining our listeners will be as well. What would you say empowers you to be the brilliant woman that you are today?Dhriti: I think it has to always be my role models. Definitely. I've been around so many strong women in my life. And I would probably say my mother and my grandmother are probably at the highest on that list. And I think my mum is just so hardworking and she's such a strong woman herself that I think it's inspired me to sort of getting to where I am in my career and work as hard as I've been working, so I would say, yes, it's my mother and other inspiring women in my field as well. My previous boss, Becky Simms, and of course, the Directors that I'm working with now in Mindshare as well, 100 per cent.Sarah: What one bit of advice would you give women starting in the industry?Dhriti: From my experience anyway, there seems to be a lot of women working in SEO. And I think it's just reaching out and speaking to people and joining the community and not being afraid to voice their opinions and challenge. I think that's the best way you can learn. So, I would say, yeah, not to be afraid of doing those things.Sarah: It's time to get into the meaty topic of this episode. And at the beginning, I said that we'd be discussing starting in SEO as a beginner and you'll be sort of like sharing your experience of being a graduate to having a career in this wonderful world. So, I just want to start things off. I did do some research before this episode. I hope you're proud of me. So, on Twitter, I asked the community, when deciding to carry on with their education, e.g., college, university, etc were you aware that SEO was a career option? Now the results were pretty clear cut. Only 4.3% said yes and a whopping 95.7% said no. Are you shocked by that?Dhriti: Not at all. I feel like it's a role that not many people have heard about or a line of work that not many people have heard about. How many people responded to this?Sarah: 47 people.Dhriti: Wow. OK.Sarah: So, it's a decent amount of people, and it does lead me into my first question nicely. How did you find out about SEO after graduating from uni? Was it something that you were aware of before or something that became apparent after?Dhriti: So, I knew nothing about SEO. I'm sure as many other people. And at my previous university, we had this wonderful scheme called the Employability Point Scheme. And essentially what the scheme was, as you would work towards contributing things within the university or doing extracurricular activities. And by doing those activities, you would earn a certain number of points. And at the end of the year, they would sort of collating all these points and you would be able to apply for different internships or training sessions, that kind of thing. So, I was able to apply for an internship at my previous agency, Reflect Digital through the Employability Point scheme. And previously during my final year, I was doing social media marketing at the university. So, I thought, oh, I mean, I want to try a career in marketing, so let me apply to Reflect Digital. And of course, working in SEO is quite different to doing social media marketing. So, I think it was quite a shock when I joined because I knew absolutely nothing about SEO. But after the end of my internship, I was sort of kept on as a full-time employee, which was great.Sarah: So obviously hosting a podcast for a few years and getting to talk to different people. Whenever I ask the question about how do you get into SEO or how did you get your first job sort of thing? With many people, it never seems to be like a plan. And it's more so just something that's happened. I know that that was me. I studied Dance and Culture at university. I didn't know SEO was a thing. I heard about marketing, but the actual specific channel of SEO, I didn't know until I was looking for reception roles at companies near me and this opportunity came up. So, do you sort of getting that same kind of vibe that people just sort of like fall into this industry rather than it being like a plan?Dhriti: I think so. But I think it's quite interesting that you end up working in the line that you do because I feel like everyone has very interesting stories. I mean, in my previous agency, the old head of the department was working on photography. And I think a lot of people that I have spoken to have not even had a degree in marketing, they do all sorts of different work and then somehow, they end up in SEO, which I think is fantastic. It just means that SEO is accessible to people from all sorts of backgrounds, which I think, you know, it's great. You can learn about it, and you can learn while you're on the job, which might not necessarily apply to a lot of other occupations.Sarah: Definitely. And it's an industry where experience is definitely like if you've got experience in something related to SEO or around this sort of area, then that's great and it's going to help you. But at the same time, it is very accessible. And I get the vibe that when people do sort of fall into it, they just fall in love with the industry. That's the vibe that I get.Dhriti: Completely. I think some of the Directors that I've worked with have been in SEO for 10 years. Some of my ex-colleagues have been SEO for a long time as well. So, I think it's a happy accident. You end up in the career and then you stay on.Sarah: So, when you first started in SEO, can you give us, like, a few issues that you encountered and how you overcame them?Dhriti: So, I would say that starting in SEO, I think everyone will agree that there's so much lingo and so many abbreviations and, you know, and so many words that honestly could be explained far easier than you just have to search it up. And I think it words like metadata. I know it sounds because now we've I've been doing SEO for a few years. And, you know, it seems simple when you say that, you know, metadata or page title, whatever it is. But when you're starting, it's so disorienting to just not know what these things are. And I think there's a lot of things in SEO as well, for example, keyword research where you can read about it and you can search what is keyword research, for example. But we don't know what it is until you've done it yourself. And I think it's that practice of some of the things you read about. You won't truly know about SEO until you've tried it out. And yeah, I think for me, I had so many instances where I got panicked because I didn't know what a certain thing was. And, you know, everyone else around me seemed like they knew what it was like, whether it's canonical or structure data or whatever it is. There's so much in SEO and there are so many small technical aspects of it that I think can be quite difficult to understand very easily. And for me, just reading things off a page, sometimes my eyes slide off the screen. I don't know if you're like that. And when it comes to like long technical content pieces, oh, I can't concentrate. So, yeah, I would say those were my initial issues.Sarah: Yes, I am definitely with you on the lingo. I mean, I even struggled to say canonical. I'm even struggling now. There are so many ways I just can't even say. And I also think an added issue with that lingo is that because SEO is so broad and especially when you're first starting in it, it can be hard knowing that you're not going to know everything, are you. Bec you're not going to know something until you've had the experience of it. And if you haven't had the experience of it, you're not going to know these words, you're not going to know best practice.Dhriti: Oh definitely. I think what I've come to learn is people who've had ten years of experience in SEO sometimes come across issues that they don't know the answer to. And I think because sometimes issues can be very website specific or client-specific. And, you know, I'm sure I've asked some of my ex-colleagues questions and they've been like, oh, actually, I don't know what that is. And I think that's something that we all you know, when you're starting, it's great to just not to worry about it and not to worry about asking for help as well. I think I felt very awkward or kind of shy to ask for help because I didn't want to seem like someone who didn't know things. But normally I found any way that people in our field have been so wonderfully helpful and so keen to explain things. I've never come across someone who hasn't made the time for me to tell me what you know, what it is that I'm asking or to show me. Definitely.Sarah: I felt it as well when I first started in the industry, you think, oh, I've been hired for this role so I can't ask questions because I need to know everything. But once you sort of gets away from feeling that way. I do think asking questions makes you look inquisitive and makes you appear that you want to learn, you want to know, sorta thing, and it's much better being able to talk to someone about a word that comes up, some lingo that comes up, a best practice that comes up it's much better to talk to someone where you've got a back forth conversation rather than just go in and Googling it later. You Google it later. But I do think conversations are better if you can.Dhriti: Oh, I think so. I mean, I've appreciated that, especially in my current agency, my line manager and I have that back and forth and speaking to my manager and my line manager and coming together and collaborating on ideas has been fantastic. It's been an amazing learning experience for me, I think, because it's not just necessarily being told to do a piece of work and completing it, it's that back and forth and it's challenging someone because sometimes in SEO there isn't always a right answer. In some instances, there is a right answer. In some instances, especially with bigger websites, there's a variety of ways you can tackle a subject. Right. And I think having that back and forth has helped me learn a lot more than I knew before. So, I completely agree.Sarah: And it's not a one size fits all at all, is it? Like you say, obviously, sometimes there is a right answer, because if, like best practices or how search engines work or how search engines crawl and come onto your website and stuff, but sometimes it isn't a one size fits all and it depends on your industry, your website, the number of pages that you have, the type of pages that you have, your competition, you know what I mean? There are so many variables. And that's why because there's the meme, isn't there, that all SEOs will always answer with 'it depends, but it does depend on many different factors. Now, you transitioned in your career from working for a small digital marketing agency with the majority of SME clients, to working for a big media agency working on enterprise clients. I mean, talk to me about that. How did you find that transition?Dhriti: I think it's been amazing. I think there's just so many different things to learn. And I didn't know how it would work from the other side, as it were, because I think working with SME clients, you have the opportunity to get stuck on when it comes to implementing things. So, for example, if you would do a backlink order or if you would do an internal link, for example, internal link recommendations, and we've had the experience previously in my other agency where you would get the document signed off by the client and then you would go on the CMS, and you'd implement it yourself. And what I've come to realise is that it doesn't work that way in my current agency with big clients, because they have a multitude of teams handling a multitude of different things internally. And I think it's learning all about that process, which has been completely fascinating. And I've loved every minute of it. Really.Sarah: Wow. I mean, I can tell by how you talk about it that you do enjoy it. Would you say it's important when someone is starting in this industry you can decide to work in-house, or you can decide to work agency side? You can decide to work for a small company. You can decide to work for a big company. Do you think it's important for people to get experiences in these different areas?Dhriti: I think so. I think it helps you become well-rounded. So, for example, in my previous agency, I wrote a lot of copy and I think the kind of tasks you get involved in are so varied and so different. And I like that because? I got so much industry exposure and working across, I think I counted probably 40 different client websites or maybe even more by the time I left Reflect digital I'd worked on so many different clients. And I think, you know, although that's the small agencies are a hectic life and you're working very, very hard. But I think that the exposure you want, I don't think you would get anywhere else because just working across different clients helps you understand the different kinds of tasks they may need. You get to try out working on different CMS's or I think there are so many different variations of tasks you can do when you're working across the board like that. And I think when you're working with big clients like we are currently, you do work for obviously just one or two clients, but then you get to know the client well and you get to learn their processes very well. And for example, I'm working on one site migration at the moment, and I just never knew how complicated site migrations are. I mean, when it's when enterprise clients where we're sitting on the call and there are about 30 people on the call and everyone speaking about different things. And I'm just thinking, wow, I never knew it was that big of a process. And of course, it's completely understandable now that I'm working the side of it. Of course, you can't have, like, big e-commerce sites run by one or two people. That's insane. But now there are so many challenges and there are so many small steps that you have to take. It's never the case of handing over a document and having that document implemented right away. There are always these small processes, and I think it's learning that, and it helps you get a well-rounded experience. I don't think it's necessarily a good thing or a bad thing to start in one particular area. I think there's so much you can learn and so many benefits from working in different areas, like different types of companies. So, yeah, I think if you get the chance to try different, you know, of course, work for a big company, work for a small company,Sarah: And I suppose it depends where you see your career progression as well, doesn't it? Like you might decide that you want to specialise and be a niche in an area of SEO or maybe you want to be more of an allrounder where you know about lots of different elements of SEO, but you want to manage and oversee, so I suppose it depends on where you want to end up.Dhriti: Sure. Oh, definitely. I think work in my previous agency helps me with that because we got a lot of exposure to sort of content writing and then technical SEO and you'd learn all these little bits. And then now I've come out to realise that I quite like technical SEO and it's just learning those different areas that help you come to that decision. But I think, yeah, it's great.Sarah: I don't know if this is an easy or hard question to answer, when you first started to know about SEO and you decided, right, this is the career that I'm going to explore and get into after working in it, for however long that you have done, is it is what you expected?Dhriti: I would say, is not what I expected at all, because when I started, I didn't know a thing. And, you know, I think, yeah, I feel like it's so different to what I thought I would be doing because I did social media marketing. So, I was like Instagram stories, making content. Yeah. And it's not that at all. But it's been a welcome change. And I think, you know, I feel like for me anyway, my career, I want to strive to push myself and learn even more and learn more about strategy and learn more about managing clients and that side of things. But I would say the reason why I stuck out with SEO after a year is I spent so long learning the lingo, I was watching videos, I was listening to your podcast. And, you know, I was following you and following all these people for so long. And I feel like, oh, if I dropped out, you know, that was so
37 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Large Scale Website Migrations With Katherine Ong
This week we speak to Katherine Ong, Owner of WO Strategies, about large scale website migrations.Where to find Katherine:Twitter: https://twitter.com/kwatierLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinewatier/---Episode SponsorThis season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. Check them out on thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovosWhere to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptAreej: Welcome to a new episode of The Women in Tech SEO podcast, thank you so much for joining us. I'm Areej AbuAli and I am the founder of Women in Tech SEO. Today's episode is all about helping large websites with their SEO website migration's. And I am joined by the brilliant Katherine Watier Ong, who is the owner of WO Strategies. Hey, Katherine.Katherine: Hi, how are you?Areej: Yeah, I'm great, thanks. It's so good to have you here.Katherine: Yeah, thanks for having me on.Areej: I think you host a podcast of your own, don't you?Katherine: I do, yeah. I have 2, I decided to be an overachiever. I have one that's an Alexa flash briefing. It's a daily SEO tip though, although over the summer it's been very not daily. And then I have another podcast called Digital Marketing Victories where we talk about the soft skills you need to be successful as a digital marketer.Areej: Oh, I love that. I know that you shared a few of those episodes and yeah, I love them. And how does it feel to be on the other side?Katherine: Oh, I mean, it's great. I help clients with podcasts and so it kind of made sense to do a podcast myself. And then I used to do a lot of speaking at the Voice Summit. So again, it sort of made sense to have an Alexa Flash Briefing. So, I know the ins and outs of how to do that work, too.Areej: Yeah, awesome. Well, I'm happy to have you here with us. You are a super, super active member of the Women in Tech SEO community. And I would love everyone to know a little bit more about you and how you got into the world of SEO.Katherine: Sure. Yeah. So, I've been doing SEO for 17 years, though I've been marketing forever. I planned my first conference, and I was 13 and launched a non-profit when I was 16 and got press coverage and did events and, you know, eventually a newsletter anyway. And for the last five years, I've been running a solo organic traffic consultancy. So, I focus on anything with a search function in it and help clients be found organically. So that's Google, YouTube, Bing, Facebook, that kind of thing, but those are the three big ones, Google, YouTube, and Bing. Yeah, so that's me I love SEO, before I started my consultancy, I ran the online marketing and analytics team at Ketchum, the big PR firm, servicing their clients globally. So, my first year there, it was just me. They'd never have anybody that did SEO or analytics. So, they thought one was enough for all their clients globally. They have like 12 offices in China. So, I had sixty-five clients my first year and they weren’t small, Gazprom and ConAgra, you know, this large. Anyway, eventually, we had a team of nine.Areej: Wow. How did it feel moving from such a big type of company and just starting your own thing?Katherine: You know, I mean, I love the experience at Ketchum for sure, but also agency work can just burn you out. And I joined Ketchum because I was following Tim Weinheimer, who was the head of a digital strategy there. After all, I just wanted him to be my next boss. He met me when I was speaking at an AMA event in DC, and we just clicked. And then I frankly stalked him trying to find a role underneath him so he could be my next boss. So anyway, he was my boss for five years, but then in the end he moved to Austin with his husband, and it was becoming clear he wouldn't continue to be my boss. And, you know, I didn't join Ketchum because of Ketchum, I joined Ketchum because of Tim. And I kept telling them, you get rid of Tim and I'm going. So, he provided a lot of great I mean, he's where I got a lot of my soft skills from, frankly, and he provided a lot of great covers and allowed me to be disruptive because I needed to be. But it was just, you know, sort of my time to go. Also, when you're at a big agency, you often don't have a chance to pick your clients. I remember I was on a new business pitch, and it was just, frankly, for a client that was opposite of my ethics, and we go out to this pitch. And I was in the car with the team, the teams like, oh, my God, I hope we win it. And I'm sitting there going, like, I hope we don't because I don't have to work on it. And we didn't win it, thankfully. So, I got close, but not quite working on a client that I just thought was the opposite of my ethics. So, I have a lot more fun now because I can be selective and I can pick clients where I love their mission and I love the people I work with, like my direct clients. I on purpose pick people that want to learn SEO. And it's great because I love teaching my team, everybody but two on my team at Ketchum came to me directly out of college with no background in digital marketing, and I train them all. The paid side was trained by somebody else on my team, but all the organic stuff and the analytics was me. And, you know, they're doing great things. A lot of them work at Google, one is the head of entertainment partnerships at Facebook and Instagram, one worked as the Head of Brand at Reddit, one's at Twitter. I mean, they're just rock stars. And I love teaching people about SEO, so I love that I get to do that through my clients. I can pick clients that they're it internally. They just never really had an SEO on their plate before. Now they do. And I particularly work with science organisations where I can't write their content because there's some subject matter expertise there. And so, it makes sense for them to own the SEO internally. It doesn't make sense for an agency to take it over, how could you? Especially with Google, knowing whether you are, you know, an expert in your topic when you write? Right. So anyway, yeah, I love what I do now. And it provides great balance and I'm making as much as I made at Ketchum, but I'm working part-time.Areej: Oh, I love that. And I relate with what you're saying, I had the same thing when I was agency side as well and decided to move on to the client side because I didn't have the flexibility of saying yes or no to certain clients. And at least when I moved client-side, I was able to say, OK, this is the exact brand that aligns with my values and I'm comfortable working with. So, I love that you touched on that. I think a lot of people can relate to that.Katherine: Yeah. And I also still get the variety. So, it's not just one thing that you're slogging on, because I was in-house too, before I went to Ketchum I was in-house as the director of Internet marketing for a couple of non-profits. And so, you know, I did that. There's pros and cons to both. I like what I'm doing now. I have had experiences in my career where you're the expert when you're the consultant, and as soon as you become in-house, you're not the expert and people stop listening to you, which drives me crazy. And so, I think it's a better fit for now for me to be on the expert side than to be in-house where my expertise would magically disappear as soon as you cut my paycheck.Areej: Yeah. And what advice would you give for women who want to start their consultancy?Katherine: Oh, yeah, I have very clear advice and I sort of did this. So, when I decided to pivot from traditional marketing to digital marketing, this is early, this is when I started going to Georgetown was like the early 20s early in my career. I sort of did it with this long-term dream of being a digital nomad. I liked the idea of being able to work from wherever, as long as there's an Internet connection. Also, as a marketing person, you get laid off a lot. You know you don't stay anywhere very long. It's just the nature of the beast with marketing. And after going through that a couple of times, I thought, this is kind of crap, I want, you know, more consistency in revenue. I don't like the fact that you lose a paycheck and then you're earning nothing until you get that next job. So, I started freelancing in between my jobs, mostly out of, frankly, need. I just needed the money. And so, for years, that's what I would do. And I would transit. Sometimes I'd moonlight on the side. Sometimes I freelance in between. And so, by the time I got to Ketchum, I had clients and like referrals from clients. So that was one thing. Do it before you even leap because that way you've got some experience about how to pitch your work and how to put together a proposal and some other things. And if you do get a chance to work in an agency, I'd recommend it, especially if you're younger, because you learn a ton, a ton about how to do proposals and price things and all that kind of stuff, which would be very useful for you if you go off on your own. But then the other thing I did at Ketchum was because I had to grow my team and because it is very time-intensive to start with somebody fresh out of college with no background to train them up. I was desperate to see if I could find somebody mid-level that I could maybe steal from somewhere else. So as a part of that and as background, PR companies don't invest a ton in training their employees because that's just not part of their model, which is heart-breaking as a digital marketer. As you know, you learn so much from live events pre covid when you could attend them, right? So, I want to make sure that the people on my team got that experience, but I couldn't send them the show. There was there were no budgets to send them to shows, only budgets for me, which is crazy. And even for me, I had to fight. So, what I did instead was I sort of took over a meetup because the person that was running it was moving on to the real estate. So, he was moving out of the digital marketing space. But I did that for six years. And so, I got a chance to do two things. One, that because we hosted it, my young people got to sit there and listen to other people that were doing digital marketing and learn from other people. I also got to stack the event. So that way it was a variety of levels of information. And I could even pick speakers that I thought maybe my team needed to learn more about or I frankly wanted to learn more about. And then three, I got to massively expand my network in the D.C. marketplace because you can just blindly do a LinkedIn request to a random person because you think they'd be a great speaker and most of the time people accept that, even if they're not free to speak, they're like, OK, and then they're part of your network. So, it helps build your network exponentially. When I left Ketchum, I was looking for full-time jobs and I realised it just wasn't going to work because every job I've had in my entire career has been an intrapreneur job. So brand new position, build something from scratch. I'm good at it, but frankly, exhausting. And I didn't want to do it again. And so, I was beginning to realise that was the only thing that I was going to get interviews for or offers for and that freelancing might be easier. So, running my consultancy would be easier than that. So, I put a note out to my network, the same one that I ran these meetups with, and I said, OK, I'm going to do my own thing. And I got my first client in like two weeks. And of course, it would be a website in Saudi Arabia and the client is hiring me from Dubai. And it’s half in Arabic, which I don't read. And it was massive. I was like this place to buy and sell new and used cars. I had no background in cars, but whatever. Of course, that would be my first project. But yeah, from there. So basically, my network is what helped me kick off my consulting and I still get referrals from that same network.Areej: Yeah, I think that's such good advice because it feels like you did all the legwork and you set everything up before you decided to make the jump and that made things helpful.Katherine: Yeah. I mean, it was also kind of obvious that because of my career, if you are looking for a full-time position, which is an intrapreneur position. Right. Build your own thing, starting from scratch, whatever, it's hard to land those jobs anyway. The best way you land those jobs is via a referral. So, you know, somebody, you know, like people talk like, oh, I need somebody to build this new marketing programme. Who would you recommend? And somebody goes, oh, Katherine. Right. So even full-time jobs, I was sort of getting through my network more than just randomly applying off the Internet. And so that was the other reason I was building it for sort of two reasons like if I wanted a full-time job, that's how I'd get it. And then it turns out that getting clients that way is also the best. So, yeah, that's what I would recommend. Well, if you even have like I did an inkling like I wasn't planning at all, I just had this twinkle in my eye, this dream, right, that I'd be this digital nomad. And if you've got that, start now doing side freelancing and building your network.Areej: Such good advice. So today we want to talk about all thing’s website migration. And I know I mentioned this to you before. I just love the way you fill the pitch form because you specifically said you wanted to talk about large non-e-commerce sites and what kind of work you do with their website migration. So, can you tell us a little bit about some recent projects and what kind of websites you tend to work with most?Katherine: Yeah, so this is partly a cost-effective crawl because a lot of the websites I worked at a Ketchum were also in the same sort of bucket. So, part of the reason I got hired at Ketchum is as a consultant, I helped them write the digital strategy portion of this RFP that won them the entire business promoting electronic health records for Health and Human Services for three years. So, they won the business. And then I think they turned around, we’re like, oh, we have no idea what she wrote in this proposal. We're going to have to hire her. So anyway, I built out the team and the strategy and the website with the help of obviously of our developers. But we built out healthit.gov and supported it. And this is the thing that drives me crazy, everybody thinks just because you have a .gov extension, you're going to rank well in Google and it's just not the case. It's a brand-new website. It goes through the same process as any other website where gets suppressed for six months. And you must build links to it like it needs to have a presence on the Internet and online footprint and all the rest. So, yeah, but there's no e-commerce there, but it was relatively big. And then from there, I moved on as a consultant with my own business helping cancer.gov, very similar. Well, similar but sort of different. Vet sites like to populate a ton of subdomains. I'm not quite sure why. I think they thought it was a good strategy. Anyway, when I helped them initially, they had 150 subdomains by different departments on different CMS systems at various stages of repair or disrepair. But then even just the main cancer.gov site was huge, but no e-commerce. And I've since worked with the Fisheries Department of NOAA, which is also big. NOAA when I looked at them, they had something like the entire infrastructure of NOAA.gov had was it 400 to 500 different subdomains, sub subdomains, which I've never seen before. I didn't think you could do them, turns out you can. Again, not a strategy I would recommend, but there you go. So anyway, all of those federal websites build out internal infrastructure too, so cancer.gov for instance, when they brought me on board, they were like, hey, we've lost Google traffic. We can't figure out why. And mind you, it was partially because Google rolled out those symptom panels. So, all that basic information about symptoms of cancer was now in Google search. Right. Instead of a click through to a website. So, part of it was that. But the other part, which I noted right off the bat because I'm snarky that way, I was like, all right, you have like 11% of your traffic that's from social media. And you have a team of, you know, two people internally, an entire outside consultancy helping you. And you have 80% of your traffic coming from organic search and you have nobody managing SEO. Perhaps you might want somebody managing SEO. So, I help them find their first SEO. Yay, my network. And she worked there for like three years or so and now has moved on. But so, they had, I think one and a half SEO's and then at fishery's similar, they assigned me people that had more of an inkling on SEO. And so, this same idea, like let's get some infrastructure internally because a lot of this stuff, you're going to have to interact with your writers. Right, because it's expert writing that I can't help you with. It needs to be written by your scientists. So, you need somebody internally to help manage some of that. And then somewhere along the way, I started working with associations and their academic journals. I'm not quite sure how, but also big websites, really, really big websites and similar where they have an online publishing manager type role that needs to know quite a bit about SEO. They have a huge technical problem because it's great expert content, but man, that technology can get in the way where it won't rank in Google because they have crawl issues. So, the first one I worked on, I had seven different subdomains, I think I'll total up maybe about two million URLs or so, and they've just collapsed it into one, which is why I know it's about two million URLs. But their initial crawl issue took me a while to troubleshoot, but it turns out they had a relative link that was not triggering a 404 and instead kept adding folders. It was this epic crawl trap where just like the bot could not get past it because I was like, why is this journal not performing better than it should? So anyway, even though the developers were, it was hard to get tickets to us, it just pushed this one. So, we pushed the one. And within about a month they got a thousand more keywords ranking page one on Google. We didn't change anything else. So, the most recent site that I helped with their migration, had 18 different subdomains or 18 different journals and they collapsed it into one. And they have about 1.3 million URLs. But a backlink profile of 35 million. So spent all summer looking at spreadsheets with URL mapping. I love SEO, but that might be the part I like the least.Areej: That specific example you gave. I...
31 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Having A More Human Approach To Site Structure With Aiala Icaza Gonzalez
This week we speak to Aiala Icaza Gonzalez, SEO Director at Reflect Digital, about having a more human approach to site structure.Where to find Aiala:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aialaicaza/---ResourcesEmpathic search results – how neuroscience impacts content SEO? (LinkedIn Post)The Neuroscience of SEO (Blog Post)---Episode SponsorThis season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. Check them out on thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovosWhere to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptSarah: Hello and a very warm welcome to the Women in Tech SEO podcast, I am Sarah McDowell, SEO content executive at Holland and Barrett and I am your host today. We have Aiala Icaza Gonzalez joining us on this episode, who is the SEO Director at Reflect Digital, who will be talking to us today about how we can take a more human approach to our site structure and why that is important. So, hello and a warm welcome, Aiala.Aiala: Hi.Sarah: How are we doing?Aiala: I'm good. I'm good. How are you?Sarah: I'm not bad at all. Not bad at all.Aiala: I'm glad to hear that.Sarah: Have you had a good week so far?Aiala: I mean, it's over now, so I'm happy about it.Sarah: It's Friday tomorrow. So, the weekend is on the cards, isn’t it? It’s there. Aiala: A 4-day week here so yay.Sarah: I am not jealous at all. Let's kick things off by you giving me and our listeners a brief overview of yourself, sort of the things that you do and how you got into this wonderful world of SEO.Aiala: Sure. So, let's start with how did I get here. I started around nine years ago in Germany. A friend told me; I know someone that knows someone that knows someone. So, I applied. They asked me what SEO was, I had no clue what it was, but I still got the job and that's how it started. I'm a director at Reflect Digital in the UK, although I work from Spain and pretty much, I handle the team, I handle clients, communications and I do talks from time to time whenever I have the time. And yeah, that's the summary.Sarah: I guess it must be quite interesting managing a team remotely.Aiala: Yeah. I mean, I was doing it already through the pandemic, so I found that it wasn't that complicated. Like they still get that human connection through the camera. So yeah. I mean I'm just, I just kept doing it.Sarah: And I'm jealous that you live and get to work in Spain. I mean, I want Holland and Barrett to send me to Spain.Sarah: Well, it's funny, you wouldn't be that jealous. Trust me, not here.Sarah: I've got some quickfire questions. [Quick Fire Questions]Sarah: I mean. Wow, wow. You survived my quickfire round of questions. So now we know you more personally as well as you as an SEO person. Now this is The Women in Tech SEO podcast, so I am going to ask you a couple of questions around this topic, starting with, what would you say empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are today?Aiala: Well, I mean, I'm going to make it short because I could talk for hours here, obviously, starting from my mother and my auntie that has always pushed me to be at my best and to live my dreams. Thanks to them I started travelling abroad and living abroad for the longest time, but also, like everyone that is in my support system, my partner, and my family and my company right now being Becky from Reflect the person that is pushing me to get out there and do all these talks and join you guys today. It was thanks to her.Sarah: Thank you. And what one bit of advice would you give to women starting in the industry?Aiala: Trust your instincts. Always. Like, if you think you're not in the right place, leave.Sarah: I always think that your gut feeling or you're feeling a certain way because of something. And you should listen to that, shouldn't you?Aiala: One hundred per cent. I mean, I've, I haven't listened to my instinct before, and it has shown in the end. So always if you think that this is the right place do it or the right move, do it otherwise don't.Sarah: I like that. That's very actionable. And yeah, I think we could all do more with that can't we? Now it's time to get stuck into the juicy bit of today's episode, we're talking about site structure and how we should be taking a more human approach to this. And so, let's start with the sort of basics of this subject. Can you sort of explaining what we mean by site structure and why site structure is important to SEO?Aiala: Yeah, so I mean, simple site structure is how you organise your content on the site. So, I compare it to a house plan, how do you organise your house that it makes sense when you use it or when your guests come in and use it. So, it's the same thing for a website. So, imagine when you're building your two-story house let's say, you're going to be separating the living area from the resting area and your living area will have the kitchen, the living room, the studio, one bathroom, and you'll have the resting area, which will be the bedrooms, the closets, the walk-in closet if you have the money, it will be separate. It makes sense. It's user friendly. It's safe because you're sleeping, you're using your bathroom, you're having dinner and you have all these living areas of the bottom. It's the same thing for the website. What you're trying to do is to have all your content organised in a way that is easy to find for the user, that they don't go crazy trying to find the bathroom in this case, let's switch, because they know where it is because it's easier to find. Yeah.Sarah: Yes. Now I know this is about how we should be thinking of a more human approach to site structure. But I just want to quickly touch on, like, what is it that search engines like Google want from site structure?Aiala: I mean, the name itself says it wants a structure. Who wants an organisation, it wants to understand how are you organising and structuring your website? It's also like what is more important. What is the category? What is the subcategory? What is the product? Let's say where you have different hierarchies where you know, like, you know, this is the category one, category two, subcategory. So, it is just having that structure. That's what Google needs to understand how your website is built.Sarah: Yes. So, I did do some research ahead of recording this episode, and I took to Twitter, and I asked our followers when thinking about site structure for SEO, who is more important, and I asked them whether users, search engines, or both. Now, interestingly, 0% of people who voted said search engines, 42.9% said users and 57.1% say both. Now, are you surprised by that data or is that something that you would expect or is that something that you would want to expect?Aiala: Happily surprised. So, this is something that I would want to expect because, for so many years, all of us have been so focused on what does Google want? I'm talking about Google because obviously, I've been living abroad in Asia mainly. So, Google is the main one there. So that's why I always talk to Google. But any search engine like we've always been focusing on, what do they want? Never, what are the users looking for? So, it's good that we're changing this conversation it's so good that we're bringing the humans there because this is who we're building the websites in the end.Sarah: Definitely. And I suppose if you're catering to users and Google, you sort comes hand in hand, doesn't it? Because at the end of the day, Google wants to make sure that their users are having a great experience, so it sort of makes sense for you to focus on users as well, because, yes, you want them to have a good user experience when they're on your website, but also, obviously, if users are having a good time on your website because of your site structure and they can easily navigate, then that's going to bode well with Google as well, isn't it.Aiala: 100%. I mean, we all know what Google's objectives are. It's pretty much showing the users the right unique, high-quality content. So, therefore we have to have the user in mind. Whatever we do. We’re talking about canonicals or something more technical. And even then, we have to be thinking about the user itself. Are they interested in our product or not? How can we show them our products? Should we put it in a category or not? Are they even looking for my product? These kinds of things we need to have in mind where we're building our website, when we're studying our strategy and it doesn't matter SEO, PPC, I don't care. We all need to look at the human self.Sarah: Yes. So how do you go about putting the user first when you're thinking about sites structure, so what sort of things are important to sort of factor in?Aiala: So, I mean, the first thing, first thing, first thing, is keywords. And everyone will be like, oh, we know that Aiala, but now we don't know how important they are. So, someone in my company said this phrase and I just love it, "keywords are the voice of the customer, they’re telling us what they want". This is why this should be the core of everything we do with the keywords. We have a product that the users are looking for are they even interested in? Do we have to create that need? How do we do this? I have a client that they have products that people like, but they have a different naming. They don't want to change the naming to what people are looking for, so people are not finding them. So, this is how important it becomes to listen to the users through keyword research. That would be the first part. And then obviously we have neuroscience itself. So, we need to understand how the human brain works. We need to understand how our brain works. So obviously there are different principles that we should be aware of when we're designing a website when we're designing architecture and all of this. I mean, I don't want to get too deep into them because I think that would take us much longer than the time we might have. But there are a couple of principles like the subconscious, for instance, that one for me is the craziest because we don't think about it ever but is the one that decides if you like something or not milliseconds. So, before you've looked at something, your subconscious already knows if you like it or not. So, imagine how important it is that if you land on a website and you open the navigation menu and you're like, oh your subconscious long time ago is like, you know, you don't like it here, get out of here. So, we need to be aware of this kind of principle.Sarah: That's super interesting, isn't it? And because we do live in an age where, like, not only do we need to attract consumers and people's attention, but we need to, like, keep them entertained and engaged. And first impressions are everything, I suppose, aren't they? And I suppose when we're talking about first impressions, that is your site structure. Now, if you have a site structure that is a headache and doesn't make any sense, then the person is not going to stick around.Aiala: Yes. I mean, one hundred per cent and this goes back again to neuroscience. I mean, in the end, our brain loves a little bit of order and structure, just like Google. This is the same thing. Our brain needs this order on a structure, so when you're building your navigation and your structure, you need to ensure that the user is never asking the question, what is this? Where am I? What am I looking for? We must show them what they want in a really easy way. So, Sephora, for instance, they have a nice navigation menu, just because even if you don't know makeup, it's quite easy because when you go to makeup, it has face, eyes, lips. That's it, it's easy. So, I mean, I want something for my lips. I click on my lips. It's easy.Sarah: Is there any other sort of brands that spring to mind that sort of have a good site structure or that you're impressed with?Aiala: To be honest, right now I can only think of Sephora. Indeed, it is just the navigation menu, because technically speaking, Sephora you need to improve. But right now, I can only think of Sephora.Sarah: Is there any common mistakes that websites or brands make when it comes to their site structure?Aiala: I think in general is not having the user as a focus. As I was saying before, I have this client that they have these products. They would be super popular if they would only listen to the keywords. And then you have other clients that have these products that no one cares about. So, I think that's usually the main mistake, is not listening to the user. And even if they do, they're like, yeah, but this is our product, we're not going to change it. And it's like, well, then you're not going to sell it. You're not going to appear on Google or any search engine.Sarah: Yes, that must be very frustrating because you have the data and it's like, well, we can tell what people are searching for. It makes sense to adhere to that and use it on the website. So, yeah, that just seems a bit crazy that a website or brand would not even listen to that. Aiala: I mean, but when you work in an agency, you're so used to people not listening to you on basic things. You're like, but your website has no index. How do you expect to be shown?Sarah: I mean, so we are talking about human first here with site structure, but I suppose with SEO in mind, there is getting the right balance. So as much as it should be human first, we should be thinking about our customers, what they are searching for, what do they want. But you still got to think of Google. Are there any tips for having the right balance between the two?Aiala: So, there's something that Google loves and it goes back to the user. So, when I do my research, I've seen that everyone calls it differently. But it's like having the flat structure or the pyramid structure, pretty much what it means doesn't matter how you want to call it. What it means is that Google wants you to have less than four clicks until the end product. So, this is something that we need to be careful with because, mainly in e-com, it happens that suddenly you're ten clicks away and you're like, where is the product? Oh, my goodness, I can't find it. And I see it happening. Even on informational websites, I'm like, you don't have that much content to be hiding your content down there in the tenth click. So, this is something that we have to be aware of that, yeah, we want to create categories. We want to create subcategories and content and I don't know what else. Yet Google wants you to stay at the four clicks only, not more.Sarah: Yes. I suppose you say that's a good rule to sort of stick then? That you don't want to take a user too much down a wormhole and it's quite good to have that sort of metric in mind?Aiala: 100%. Because if you think about it, with mobile phones and the Internet is so fast, we've become more impatient. So, when you're on your phone, you're like, I want it now. And in an extreme example. I'm hungry, I'm dying for some sushi and I'm on a website. And I'm like, oh, my goodness, where is my sushi? ten clicks later, I'm like, you know what? I'm out. I'm going to this food delivery app and I'm just going to order from there. And this is an extreme example, but it happens on normal websites. A lot of our purchases there, you know, I want it now or you're not even thinking about it and you're like buying it. So, if I have to go more than four or five clicks, I'm going to be like this is too complicated. I'm out.Sarah: Yeah. Definitely. So, you have to nail your structure there then and you have to think about the customer journey. And, I suppose what's important is like we know that not everyone's journey is they land on the home page and then they navigate from there. You could enter a website on any page can't you, so I suppose that's another thing to take into consideration, isn't it, that wherever someone lands, whether it's a product category, if it's a specific product, if it's the blog section if it's the location pages, I suppose the navigation always must make sense from where someone is landing. Would you say that that's important?Aiala: Yeah, yeah, 100%. And here's where breadcrumbs and all these little maps, let's say that we have on the site, even the navigation is where it comes in really, really handy and internal linking because if you land, for instance, in a blog post, if you have the internal link to the right page, you might land a sale from there.Sarah: Definitely. Definitely. I feel like we've covered quite, quite a few different questions there. And all questions led us to like this human approach, haven't we? So, can you recommend any of your favourite articles or resources that people can delve in to learn more on this topic?Aiala: So, to be honest, I don't have just one. And it's true that for getting into where I am with the human interaction and human being first and neuroscience, one of my colleagues has been helping me. She's a neuroscience expert, mainly focused on marketing. So, she's been the one helping me learn more about how our brain works and all of that. So, I would say I have my resources.Sarah: I mean, what we can do is any resources that you think are relevant and you can always send them to me after we've recorded them, and I can make sure that we include them in that way. But it sounds very interesting. And I suppose one thing people need to be warier of is how the human brain works.Aiala: Yes. I mean, in the end, it's our day-to-day interaction. I mean, we are humans. We're dealing with these websites, with these products every day. Why are we not thinking that there's someone behind that screen doing the...
28 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Transparent Client Reporting With Barb Davids
This week we speak to Barb Davids, owner and SEO consultant at Compass Digital Strategies, about transparency and communication in client reporting.Where to find Barb:Website: https://compassdigitalstrategies.com/Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbDavidsLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbdavids/---Episode SponsorThis season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. Check them out on thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovosWhere to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptAreej AbuAli: Hey, everyone, welcome to a new episode of the Women in Tech SEO podcast. I'm Areej AbuAli and I am the founder of Women in Tech SEO. Today's episode is all about transparency and communication in client reporting. Joining me today is the brilliant Barb Davids, who is the owner and SEO consultant at Compass Digital Strategies. Hey Barb!Barb Davids: Hey Areej, how are you?Areej AbuAli: I'm good. How are you?Barb Davids: Doing good. It's midweek. It's good.Areej AbuAli: I'm super excited to have you. You were just with us in WTS Workshop recently, so it's great to have you on the podcast as well.Barb Davids: Yeah, this is fun.Areej AbuAli: Can you tell everyone a little bit about you and what you do, how you got into the world of SEO?Barb Davids: Sure, I'd love to. So I started my business full time in November of 2019 and like a lot of people it was because I got fired. And very interestingly a lot of the people were just stunned that it even happened. And I just decided, OK, universe, I understand what is happening. Fine, I'll go out on my own because the reason that I was fired was for something that wasn't even my responsibility. So it was a little like weird and I didn't quite know how to handle it. And then I just chalked it up to being a universal thing like, hey, I got it, OK, I'm going out on my own. And then before that, for probably a good year, solid year, I had more clarity in what I wanted to do. And the idea was to work any time, anywhere. I wanted to just not sit behind a desk anymore. And when I started the concept of Compass Digital Strategies, although it didn't start out that way in terms of the name and what it did, but I started working towards that and specifically with photographers because I was a fitness photographer at the time. I've since closed the business, but I started working with other photographers and learning about SEO and trying to figure out specifically for this industry, what do I need to know to do? And then I found that other people were having the same problem. And I'm like, OK, well, if it's even difficult for me and I've been in the actual the digital marketing industry for well over twenty years, how hard is it for people who don't have any of that background? So it started that way and I started helping some people and things kind of grew. And then Compass Digital Strategies kind of evolved. And now I do different businesses do some client work. Some of them I do it for them. And then sometimes I have consulting so people will do their own SEO, but with my guidance and sometimes I'll get in and do the things for them just to help them out. But basically they're learning it as they go and they do the SEO tasks. It's helpful because a lot of people don't know where to start or what to do or what to do next. So that is how it started.Areej AbuAli: Yeah. And I think a lot of people over the past year, especially with lockdown and everything that's happened, you know, we're very adamant on the whole concept of having more flexibility with their hours and time. And it kind of sounds like it was meant to be for you.Barb Davids: Yeah, exactly, it's very nice to be able to now. Well, now that we can travel again, start to look at going to different places like so the idea was to be able to go to Minnesota where my family is, or go to like Portland, where some friends are and be able to still have an income and be able to stay longer so that I could spend some time with them, because otherwise it's kind of restricted to a weekend and that's just not a lot of time.Areej AbuAli: Yeah. And, you know, for people who are considering this journey of starting their own consultancy and going out on their own. What advice would you give them?Barb Davids: So my biggest piece of advice is to definitely consider what your end goal is. So like mine was work any time, anywhere. And once I got clarity about it, it just seemed to sort of start falling in place. Like I used to think urgh, write down my goals. Like what the crap. That's just too much work. I don't want to deal with that. But when I started getting real clarity around what I was doing, I think there's a what is it called? Intention goes where energy flows or something like that. I can't remember the the the quote right now. But whatever your intention goes, it seems that's where things fall into place. So I think that would be a good one, is to write down the goals and to know your energy levels, basically. So know how much you can handle, because right in the beginning I did take on too much and I wasn't being able to spend any time on my own business, which was good. I mean, that's a good problem to have. But then I was sort of pigeonholed into one type of model and then when covid happened and everybody shut down. I lost half of my business, which was a really tough thing.Areej AbuAli: I've heard similar stories, especially with COVID and lockdown and everything that's happened. Have you managed to find inspiration elsewhere? Like do you have like a support group or people within the industry that motivate you and you get some strength from?Barb Davids: Well Areej, of course, WTS, definitely. This group this has been so amazing. And it's interesting because I've been in the digital marketing industry for a long time and we all know that there just hasn't been I mean, there's been groups out there, but I feel like this one has been extraordinarily helpful and it's so diverse in the knowledge and people it's like incredibly insane. So I think that has been a big piece of it. I don't know, it's just really super helpful and that makes a big difference, I think, to have that support.Areej AbuAli: Yeah, definitely. And, you know, a big thank you to you. You always make the time to go in and answer tons of questions. So, yeah, I'm sure a lot of people are really grateful for that. And even the recent workshop you had with us was just extremely helpful. So thanks for always taking the time to share your knowledge.Barb Davids: Yeah, thanks. Happy to get back to those who help.Areej AbuAli: Awesome. Well, today we want to talk about all things client reporting. And what I really liked when you pitched your topic was you specifically touched on you want to talk about climate reporting, transparency and communication. So I'd really like to start off by understanding what made you label it that way,Barb Davids: Probably just because it is very specific. And a lot of what I've been running into are previous SEO companies with some of my clients or people that I've heard where they talk about, they get these reports, but they don't know what's happening and they just spit out like whatever report comes from the tool. And like, for example, the one client that I had, the person was doing local SEO and they spit out some report from Google my business, but they weren't posting to Google my business. Well, you have to post in order to do local SEO. You can't just monitor like that's not a doing thing. And I also think SEO is such a black hole for people that don't understand what's happening. So by being transparent in what you're doing and what's coming up and communicating that on a regular basis really helps the client or your boss to understand that there are things being done, even though it's not like a tangible activity.Areej AbuAli: And this definitely applies all around. So I used to work agency side before working in-house. And whether you're a consultant or whether you work within an agency or you work client side, this definitely applies all across.Barb Davids: Yeah, yeah.Areej AbuAli: So what are some of your go to tools that you said to use for reporting?Barb Davids: I like to use Google search console and Google Analytics in terms of grabbing data and also SEMrush. And then to report on those, I typically use Google Data Studio. There are times where I'll pull up the screen for like SEMrush to show some things to some of the clients who understand it a little bit more and like to see the data, but for the most part, I take all the data sources and pull them into Google Data studio because it's a very nice, simple way to pull all the content together from the different sources.Areej AbuAli: And with Google Data Studio, it's interesting because there are some people who absolutely love it and some people who find it a little bit overwhelming. And I'm sure you felt that same way as well. The first time you used Google Data Studio.Barb Davids: Yeah, that's true. Yeah.Areej AbuAli: We had a few workshops as well on it, but what are some good starter tips for people who want to wrap their heads around Google Data Studio?Barb Davids: Yeah, get all the free templates you can. So I went and did a lot of downloading of the free templates and looked at it that way and just started putzing around with my own website so that I could see how it connected. Definitely used YouTube a lot. Yeah, I think the templates are very helpful because the more you download, the more you can see all the different ways that it can be used. There are some of them that are so in depth and so crazy good. But then there's some other ones that are so crazy simple that it's very nice to have as well. So you can decide whoever you're reporting to which one makes more sense.Areej AbuAli: Yes, with Google Datas studio, I feel it's this concept of it's so overwhelming to start with a blank canvas. But then if put a template in and you start connecting some of your own data, it feels much more simpler and less overwhelming.Barb Davids: Yes, absolutely. And I think the overwhelm comes from I'm going to get a little philosophical. I think that the overwhelm just comes from that plane not knowing what you don't know. So it's really about just taking the time. Sit down. And I still have a hard time doing this, but I have the awareness of it now, which is really helpful. But like just sitting down and saying, OK, this is what I'm going to look at. This is what I'm going to do. And then once you start working with it more, that overwhelm goes away.Areej AbuAli: And I think the same can definitely be said about Google tag manager as well, which you told us a lot about in the community. And I think that's yet another platform or tool that people can easily find overwhelming if they haven't come across it before.Barb Davids: Oh, yeah. That is still overwhelming for me because there's so much I haven't tapped into yet with it. But I think the first part of it was learning like the testing part, because it was a little confusing at first. So I had to go through it a few times to to get comfortable with that piece of it, because if you don't test it, you can get wrong data or no data at allAreej AbuAli: And so when you when you put together these reports, what are some of your key metrics that you always make sure that you tend to report on with all clients?Barb Davids: Some of them are pretty, pretty standard organic search visits. So we take a look at overall traffic, because a lot of my reporting and here's where I think a lot of SEO companies, at least in the past, it's gotten way better from what I know, but in previous years, you would always see these reports with all the traffic that people were getting to the website, but there wasn't any insight or clarity into. OK, but is it hitting our goals? So not only are we reporting on that the total traffic, but the organic search visit. So how much traffic are we getting from Google or just organic in general? How much is coming from Google my business? How much is coming from Facebook? How much is coming from paid ads? So even though I don't do paid ads, I do report on it for my clients because it's part of the overall picture. And then we also take a look at the conversions or leads or whatever their main goal is, because if I'm driving traffic to the website, I don't want them just to go away. I don't think it ends there. And I think a lot of companies, at least in the past, I'm not sure how much it's changed, but I do think it's getting better, that it's not just about sending traffic, it's sending quality traffic and making sure that people are converting the way that you want them to on the site because you can get all the traffic in the world but they're not going to keep you on if those people aren't converting and that piece of it. So sometimes my clients are very good about knowing this. Sometimes you'll have another person outside of the SEO or another person that works on conversion only. And that could be a way but then you work together. So that's one big piece. Then I like to also report on sort of the visibility or the impressions that are coming from like Google search console. So I'm like saying, OK, well, we've had more impressions or more search results showing than we did last week, for example. And then we had the click through rate at this such and such number. And I'm going to pause a little bit on what I report on just to say it's not also just those numbers, but saying, OK, why is that important? Because if you have a low click through rate from Google search console, that means people aren't necessarily that excited about your page title and meta description. So explaining this whole thing about what they do and that kind of thing also helps. What else do we report on? Keyword rankings, so that one gets like down a black hole because you rank for more than the target keywords you're trying to hit. So I do things a little differently on a monthly basis than I do on a weekly basis. I do report weekly with my clients because I want them to see what's happening each week and so typically will report on certain things I see with certain keywords as I'm digging in. So I might say, OK, well, this keyword, we lost traffic or this keyword, we gained traffic and I'll do that on the weekly basis, like some insights that I can see. And then on a monthly basis, take a look at the overall keyword ranking list. So we'll take a look at first what's being targeted? Where we ranking for those? But then we might even dip into, OK, but you're also ranking for this keyword, which we're not targeting. And then think about later if we wanted to start targeting it or whatnot. So there are some of the things and then the conversions. So some of them are for leads specifically using goals in Google Analytics will report on that or revenue number, for example. And for the one client, even the revenue number that I pull into Google Data studio is actually a manual process. I even go that far because it's part of the bigger picture because they can get revenue from instore. That doesn't come from the website, but it still makes a difference. But then I also report in a different number just below saying, OK, well, this is how much came from organic search. So that way they know what they're getting from that work that's being done.Areej AbuAli: I think the bit you said about adding the why something is important, we tend to have use the curse of our own knowledge, right. Where we think, OK, everyone knows why this is important, but that's not the case because most times we're not really reporting it to SEO's. We're reporting to CEOs or founders of companies or the business development person or so forth. And so it's really important to actually be emphasizing why this specific metric is important or what it means for that number to go up or down or what the correlation is.Barb Davids: Yeah, exactly. And it's really fun when they do happen to know kind of what it means. But you do have to once you give that to give like recommendations, I think that's the other added piece of it. So if they say, OK, like conversion rate, I think typically and this may vary by industry or by personal experience, but typically, we want to get a conversion rate of, say, two percent. Well, obviously some other industries are like way, way higher. But for the couple of clients that I have, that's the number that we're shooting for. But, what do we do then if we're not hitting two percent, so that's where we go into OK, well, what are they doing on the website? Where are they dropping off that kind of thing and then start digging into that piece of the analytics.Areej AbuAli: And anything specific that you completely avoid when it comes to reporting?Barb Davids: I think it's more of a general idea that you don't want to include things that are too minute, typically, again, it is probably going to vary by the person that you're reporting to. Some people like a lot of data and they want to know all the things. But if you start getting into the the smaller stuff, then it just makes it a longer process. And it's I mean, like the stuff that's even smaller that you don't want to report on necessarily on the front facing it may be something that you look at, but it's not necessarily important to the end result for the reports or for the person who's getting the reports.Areej AbuAli: And I think that touches a lot on the concept of rankings. Right, and keywords we look at because we might be looking at thousands and thousands of keywords. But it's all about that overall pattern or how that category as a whole is performing as opposed to here's is a breakdown of every single keyword and how it's performing.Barb Davids: Right, exactly. And then you have those those people out there who want to rank for a certain keyword, but there's no searches for it. So then you have to go in to be like, OK, well, here's why you don't need to spend your energy there.Areej AbuAli: And how does competitors fall into this? Do you do tend to include some form of competitor analysis or tracking within your reporting?Barb...
31 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Content Marketing Calendars With Himani Kankaria
This week we speak to Himani Kankaria, Digital Branding & Marketing Consultant, about the importance of planning content and preparing content calendars.Where to find Himani:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/himanikankaria/Twitter: https://twitter.com/himani_kankariaWebsite: https://www.himanikankaria.com/Content calendar template: https://bit.ly/3sBzTkj---Episode SponsorMassive shout out to NOVOS for sponsoring the full second season of WTSPodcast.NOVOS, the eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides tech eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. The great news is that you can join them! They're hiring senior digital PR and SEO strategists.Where to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode TranscriptSarah: Hello, and a very warm welcome to the Women in Tech SEO podcast. I am Sarah McDowell, SEO Content Executive at Holland and Barrett. And I am your host today. It is not just me. On my own. No, I have the wonderful Himani Kankaria joining us today to talk about planning content and preparing content calendars.Himani is an independent digital marketing and branding consultant e-commerce content consultant and content specialist. Welcome to the show, Himani!Himani: Hey Sarah, thank you so much for having me on the WTSPodcast. I am super honoured to be here.Sarah: It's an absolute honour for you to spend your valuable time with us today. So let's kick things off and get to know you Hamani. So can you give us a brief overview of yourself, what you do and how you got into this wonderful world of SEO? Himani: So I've been in this digital marketing industry for more than 11 years now.When I started with SEO back in 2010 and like about, I worked in house for around six years, and then I became a consultant working independently with the B2B companies, including the SAS company. So, you know, I like focusing on helping business owners to understand their business goals and help them align with the marketing goals.So based on that, I am, you know, also preparing the roadmap. And helping them help the team to work on their roadmaps. So, you know all of those 11 years of my journey, I have learned SEO, I have learned creating content. I have also tried mastering the skills to create the content that, you know, ranks on page one of Google and also on Google features.And you know, I would love to add that, you know, for three and a half years, I've been trying my hands and working with a couple of e-commerce businesses through e-comm cheetah. I am associated with e-comm Quito as an e-commerce consent content consultant. I had them. To the content of in commerce campaigns.So it was like, you know, back in 2010, I had an option to either go into the development side or I would go into SEO. So I don't know what clicked in my mind. And I immediately picked up SEO and it's like, you know, I am. Learning every day, something new and growing with all the new things that are coming up in our industry.Sarah: Sounds like you're very passionate about this industry. It's lovely to hear that. How are you feeling if I move this on and do some quick-fire questions?[Quick Fire Questions]Sarah: Okay. So this is the Women in Tech SEO podcast. So let me ask you some questions about this. What would you say empowers you to be the brilliant woman that you are today?Himani: I would say I have got three pillars for this. One is the family support, you know, on top of what my husband and my child are supporting. I've got great parents and parents-in-law who are super supportive in everything I do also. I've got another pillar that comes from my mentors and my med of flying or virtually.They have been pushing me a lot to do better every day. And lastly, I can not forget the brilliant WTS community. I'm a part of it because there, I see people, you know, helping each other, no matter where they are, you know, what place they are there, they are not too judgmental. And, you know, they help us and motivate us to do everything that we do.So, you know, these are the things that are helping me to become better every day.Sarah: Wonderful. I love these three pillars there. They're helping you and empowering you. What, one bit of advice would you give a woman? Starting in the industry.Himani: I would like to, I would say an emphasis on learning. So I would say that there is always room for improvement.You must keep your eyes, nose, ears, and even hands to overcome them because you know, if you stop learning, you stop growing. So, and let me tell you, there is no age bar for learning. So keep open for yourself.Sarah: Definitely. And I mean, I don't know if you'd agree with this, but I think this is especially the SEO case, but you're never gonna know everything.Oh yeah. There's always something that you can learn and always something that you can improve on isn't there. Absolutely. Folks. You've heard it from him only first. Wonderful. Right. Let's get stuck in today's topic. Which as I said earlier was so we're going to be talking about planning.And preparing content calendars. So the first question, and let's start with the basics. How would you describe what content planning is and why? Why is it important? Why do we need it?Himani: Content planning is a vague way to plan the content that we want to push out for all of the four marketing activities. So everything, you know, whether you are going out you know, pushing out the content on social media, whether it is an email, whether it is through blogs or whether it is something written on your website.Everything is under content and to plan it, I mean, it is important to the planet because you don't, I would like to share a couple of reasons for doing and planning this condom thing first is it helps us set goals. So say, for example, if you want to write content. Aside, you know, there is a separate goal.So even if he wants to, you know, look at the keywords and choose the different topics for badly you know, usually that we do, we look at the keywords and choose the content topics or prevailing look at the current competitors that the content they are writing and immediately start writing them without understanding what will be the outcome.Yeah. So a content plan helps us to understand what we want to achieve after investing in content. So whether it is going to cover a website or any other platform, it needs to have a goal which content planning helps you. Another reason could be at home because it helps us and our team be disciplined. Conduct planning not only helps us plan the content but even makes us stick to the plan because we are humans. We are, we tend to make mistakes. We tend to forget things. So that helps us stay disciplined for two hours. Another thing I would like to say is that you know because a content plan is a documented plan.We can keep a track of what we have planned, why and how so.Sarah: Yes. And I suppose I want to just quickly touch on your first point about the purpose. So whenever we're creating content, I suppose some companies may fall into the trap of wanting to create content because they know they have to do it, you know what I mean? Like content is important, but they don't think of the journey or how, where does this content sit, sit within like the bigger picture of my business. So I suppose Pappas is very, very important.Himani: Absolutely. Absolutely. Even what happens is, you know, sometimes there is confusion between brand awareness campaigns, raw lead nurturing, and even the lead conversion campaigns. So, you know, there are times that the based on the purpose, the content types, the messaging also the first and because, you know, I emphasize a lot on brand positioning messaging.Sarah: So when it comes to your content planning, would you say content calendars are the best way for you to achieve planning? And for those who have, this is the first time that they're hearing of this tab. What, how would you describe a content calendar?Himani: Okay. So, yes.To answer your first question. Yes. Content calendars do play a major role in planning the content and helping me to achieve all the targets that we have set because what happens is like I said earlier, you know, the purpose, the audience, what competitors are writing, what keywords we, one more time.When we want to target and how they want. I mean, how we want to publish when we want to publish all of these things comes into the content calendar, and that is the reason why it becomes important for the content team, for the SEO team and other marketing teams as well to understand. What we are going to do with the plan that we have, the goals that we have.So if I talk about what a content calendar would include, then I would say that it would have content topics, also the channels that you want to target, or whether you want to write for a website, which is a landing page or guest blog, or whether you need to write content only for social media. Our website blog based on that you will also write to the target audience.Sometimes people get confused with the target audiences because there are two types of times your audience for every business. One is the exact potential customer. And others are the influences. The people who consume your content, share it with the actual potential customers of yours.So that is the reason writing down the target audience, you know, content calendars you know, plays a major role. So next is the goal, right? Like I said earlier if you're good. I mean, if you have your current website receiving traffic at a hundred K and you want to restore a hundred K, you need to have that goal written in your calendar, that is what I want to achieve.And also what happens is your goal. So you know it is attached to many other things. Say, for example, I want to boost the traffic through this content. I want to increase my ER, you know, I want to increase the rankings. I want to increase. At the, I mean I went to strengthen the internal linkings that are good.I want to create better infrastructure, better navigation for the audience on the side. So those are the micro bulls that all shows should be present on your content. Plus keywords too. Do you want to target how much traffic do you estimate out of those keywords? If there is any featured snippet type attached to it, what would be the user intent behind the searching discount?Particular content? What competitors are right. How we went to create your outline, whether you will need to explain your FAQ's or not, what kind of entailing internal linkings you would add? What could be the word count? Very, very important thing because you know, word count differs on the type of queries or type of topic that you're writing.If you're writing about topics, it would have a limited word count. If you're writing how-to content, it will have a detailed word count and a listicle that would have. Different word counts. So this is very, very important. Also what schema tags you would include if you have added FAQ is you would need to add efficacy, schema attack as well.What I prefer is the graphics you would want in your content. Who will be the writer? When are you estimating to publish it? When are you publishing it? And what is the status? These are the things that I feel conduct and a must, must, must have.Sarah: So it sounds like the content calendars that you create are quite detailed.And do you think that's important? So the more detail that you can get in a content plan, the better.Himani: Yes absolutely. And let me tell you, this is not a one person's job.Sarah: No, it doesn't sound like that avenue that you've got going on. Yeah. Okay. So I'm guessing then there'll be like a couple of you then that is sort of looking after a content calendar.But do you think so? If there are a couple of you, you still need to have sort of one person; it's sort of like project management.Himani: Yes. Having a project manager is important because it helps. And then that person would make sure that we stick to the plan and that we are achieving.We are going to achieve the results that we are expecting out of the planned content. So yes, that plays a very good role.Sarah: So, obviously there's, there's a lot there that you can, that you can add-in. So for people who are just doing this for the first time, it might seem daunting with all this information.So are there any sort of quick hacks or anything that you can help to sort of speed up the process or is that not the goal?Himani: Yeah. So you're asking me that, is there any way that the teams can speed up can create the content calendars faster to make sure it is like it helps achieve their results, right?Sarah: Yeah, because in my understanding it is if something feels quite laborious in SCA or it takes a lot of time. Can be a solution or something that you can help speed up the process. So I don't know if that's what can be done when talking about content calendars.Himani: Absolutely. So I would like to share a couple of things that I am following, so that could help our listeners as well. To use those best practices are quick acts while creating content calendars.So like I said, I would like to mention again, that we can divide the different tasks to the different team members. So, you know, a junior person can focus on doing keyword research. You know basic keyword research and someone would do competitive analysis and another can do graphic brainstorming.The graphic design team can take over. Task-based on competitive analysis. So that was, you know, a wonderful quick hack to implement. If you have a big team, if you don't have a smaller team, what you can do is you can yourself. Well, only a couple of things are required.There are only a few things that you can focus on which I mentioned earlier, which is the purpose, the audience, what competitors are doing, but Kivas you want to target. And when you want to publish and what will be the estimated traffic you would expect, expect these six things you will have added in your content calendar with a small team, you will still be able to achieve.70 to 80% of your goals. Wonderful.Sarah: And is there any way that I don't, I don't know if this is possible. I imagine that sometimes content calendars sort of getting created. And we may forget about them, you know, how you get likes are taken into other areas and things like that. So is there anything that you can put part of the process so that you're making sure that you refer to yourself, you and your team are referring back to the content calendar?Like, should you be reviewing the content regularly? Should you be updated regularly? Should you be looking at where you are? How can you make sure that the content calendar becomes integral to their team's process? I suppose.Himani: Right. So usually what happens is I have a couple of companies where creating content calendars and managing and maintaining them are different.One of the companies we have is using a tool that looks like a content calendar. So you know, with these fields, we include all of those things in the tool. It is coda.io. So, you know, that tool helps you to, you know, remind you that, you know, this content is expected to be published over here. So it's just good that you know, you don't need to.Checking on, but most of my clients are using Google Sheets or Excel sheets to maintain the content calendars. So for that purpose, what we do is when we have the dates on the calendars, we mark those dates into our work calendar. With an even saying that we are, you know, about to, you know, publish content in this week, we are due to publish content.So then we can check with all the things, whether, you know, the content is ready, whether we have received the content or not, we can set different deadlines. By the way, we can, you know, have a separate deadline for the writer and we can ask the writer. Based on that timeline that, you know, we are, do you want this?You can see whether the content is already or not. If you are facing any challenges, we can help you create the content faster and deliver it on time. Also once the content is ready, we can ask the graphics team. If the graphic is ready. The SEL team determines whether the schema tags and all of the other optimization things are ready or not to be implemented on the blog.So, I believe that you would need at least three days before you publish content to make sure everythingSarah: is in place. Definitely. You want to sort of giving yourself a bit of buffer for anything that goes wrong, I suppose. Is it important for a content calendar to be flexible?So obviously it's good to have a structure and a plan because that's the whole point of a content calendar, but do you need to have a bit of flexibility to sort of like, maybe there'll be like changes in like business goals, maybe there's a trend in the topic or do you know what I mean? Like, do you need, is it important for flexibility and how do you sort of build flexibility?Himani: Right. So that happens a lot of times, especially with companies dealing with news, most of the time there is news to be rolled up. And also, you know, e-commerce companies have such a drastic change with the calendars because there is some event coming up, the campaign is planned on the spot or something like that.So yeah, that happens a lot. And it is very much important to keep up. You know, buffet off at least one week that what we can do is whenever you start planning a content calendar you can begin and you can keep a buffer of one week of say, you know whatever it counts, like say, for example, the event is we keep a gap of one week after two weeks, right?Say, for example, we planned that. We can expect the news to come in 15 days. So what we do is after 15 days, we will keep a gap of one week. And if, say, for example, it doesn't happen. After 15 days, we will push the plan that was after that one week before. To the previous week, and then we will push the buffer one week to the end.So that's how we manage that. You know, most of the time it is not that every week we have to publish one content, there is always a buffer of seven days so that if there is anything that comes urgently, we can put it...
33 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Ecommerce SEO With Laura Brady
This week we speak to Laura Brady, SEO Manager at NOVOS, about all things e-commerce SEO.Where to find Laura:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-b-578299129/Twitter: https://twitter.com/lauraabrady8---Episode SponsorMassive shout out to NOVOS for sponsoring the full second season of WTSPodcast.NOVOS, the eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides tech eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. The great news is that you can join them! They're hiring senior digital PR and SEO strategists.Where to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode Transcript:Areej: Hey everyone! Welcome to a new episode of the Women in Tech SEO episode. I’m Areej and I’m the founder of Women in Tech SEO. Today's episode is all about e-commerce SEO strategy and joining me is the brilliant Laura Brady, SEO Manager at NOVOS. Hey, Laura!Laura: Hi. How are you?Areej: Yeah, I'm good. Thanks. We were just saying that I'm really excited about this episode because I've recently started an in-house ecommerce role. So I think I'm going to learn tons from it. Laura: Yeah, no, it's really good to talk about it. I previously didn't work in e-commerce either, so they need to have a really just certain last year and a half doing it. So I know how you're feeling.Areej: Awesome. Well, can you tell everyone a little bit about you and how you got started in the world of SEO?Laura: Yeah. Sure. So I'm Laura, I work for NOVOS as an SEO manager focusing on e-commerce strategy. I've been at NOVOS since I joined mid pandemic. So when it just kicked off, so in April 2020, and before that, I worked at Screaming Frog for just under three years. And that was where I kicked off my SEO career. Quite lucky to start there.Areej: Does NOVOS mainly focus on, is it all e-commerce clients that they work with?Laura: I'd say like 98% of replies that e-commerce might have the odd one that, that isn't specifically e-commerce but like, yeah, I would say the vast majority is e-commerce.Areej: I think it's really nice to be able to specialize and have a niche. When I was on the agency side, we kind of worked across so many different things and I can imagine there's definitely a lot of benefits that comes from focusing on that one industry.Laura: Definitely it's very fast-paced as well. So you kind of have to hit the ground running as well.Areej: Awesome. Well, you know, we're part of women in tech SEO and something that I always love to ask all women who, whether they come on the podcast or have one of our workshops or interviews, is just get a bit of an understanding about, you know, what, what empowers you and what keeps you motivated and inspired within the industry?Laura: I think it's just that there are so many different things. I can't really give you one, one example, but I think I've been really lucky to work in two really good workplaces. I've learnt so much from everyone, we get to work with so many different team members.We're not really siloed into one team or anything. So that's been awesome. And like, obviously Screaming Frog was cool too, but like, I guess it was just like, just picking up on everyone else's kind of advice and just, I'm not really afraid to go and ask questions to other people and that kind of throws me into things.So it's more just kind of. Just not saying no to things and just like that, taking the opportunities and projects and I've picked stuff up along the way. I wouldn't say it's down to anything in particular, but you enjoy going to all the events and listening to podcasts like this one and everything too.Areej: Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, you get a lot of inspiration from the people you work with and you're right. Like there's a big difference between yeah. Just kind of working on your own, but then especially when your agency side as well, I know that you, you know, you get to learn from so many people around you.Laura: Definitely. I think that the worst thing you could do is put your headphones in and then just listen out. So the like conversations around you can, you can pick up so much as well. Yep.Areej: And did you have any, like, w was it, how, how easy or how difficult was it starting mid pandemic in a new role?Laura: Oh, it was actually, it was, well, I mean, I had nothing to compare it to.I think I was actually a bit more confident because I was like, oh, it's just a screen. You know how in the office when you join in, everyone can hear all your questions and stuff, and everyone has their own way of working. But you know, behind the screen, I found that you know, that bit more leveraging, but then at the same time, I'd never done e-commerce before.And I was joining a new company and just troubleshooting tech issues at the beginning was interesting, you know, being like, I can't see that on my screen and having to like ask silly questions like that, but it definitely was an experience particularly for e-commerce because it was a huge business change for loads of our clients as well.So. It was just kind of managing that situation as well, but it was an awesome experience. And I think I'm going to look back on it quite fondly and, definitely take lots of learnings from that as well.Areej: Yeah. And for, you know, for women who are just starting out within the industry and kind of trying to get their feet in SEO, do you have any advice to give them?Laura: I'd probably say like, don't specialize too early, so I guess I can, yeah. In one of my roles, I did kind of go down the link-building path quite early, but then I started kind of asking about different areas. So I used to work on the spider support or the screaming, frog, software support.I used to like to reply to some of those things. And then I used to pick up on a lot of kinds of tech SEO via those means. So like, you know, just like troubleshooting if someone has an issue using the software. And then I'd like to ask the tech teams and questions and manage. And then you know, at NOVOS, I really like working with all the different teams, like.You know, PR tech and everyone. And I just, I think the more people you meet with, the more you pick up naturally, like it's less forced and yeah. Just getting involved in as many different areas of projects as you can. Like, just because you're in SCA doesn't mean you can't think about the outside, she kind of impacts as well.Like how would it impact the general marketing team? Like. You know you don't need to just think about SEO from the offset. I think the more I think about it as a whole, the more you can learn and then, yeah, just like attend talks, listen to podcasts, follow twists, your accounts, which videos, like, I don't know about you, but sometimes I find the blogs really hard to ingest.Like I'm reading them and I just start kind of daydreaming or not really like taking in as much. So I find that loads of different means of learning things have really helped me personally.Areej: Yeah. You know, it's a different learning experience for everyone. And I know, you know, some people prefer a fully-fledged post, but then others really, really struggle to keep up with that.And for them, yeah, watching a video or listening to a podcast is a much better experience in terms of learning.Laura: Definitely. And it was picking a talk, you know, nothing on events, go to the ones you want to, and then it was picking one that, you know, absolutely nothing on it. Or it's not even like part of SEO and you're learning something there too, I'd say.Areej: Yeah. Oh, I love that advice. You're right. I think we tend to, you know, when I think of the likes of bright Tennessee, oh, we were always sitting in the room where, oh, this is, you know, this is the stuff we do inside out. And this is our day to day, but we wouldn't really think too much of, of going to attract that.Isn't really attractive that we work too much.Laura: Yeah. I actually made it through for the sake of them fighting. I did it, how I managed it, but I ended up just going to all PPC talks because they were more about econ. And so I was like, oh, okay. I'll listen to some of the econ MES ones because they're relevant. But then I accidentally ended up sitting in like three or four PPC.So I did actually learn quite a lot. So yeah.Areej: Yeah. I mean, I learned so much from our PPC team in house. I learned so much from them and I definitely think there's, I love what you touched on about exchanging topics and ideas with, you know, different marketing departments and not just thinking only about SEO and organic strategy, but also kind of seeing how that can integrate with other channels as well.Awesome. Okay. So we want to talk about all things e-commerce today, which I'm really excited to move to. So I think maybe a really good way to start is to kind of get an understanding behind what would differentiate an e-commerce SEO strategy with, you know, your typical, normal SEO strategy from personal experience.Laura: I'd say it's maybe. Yeah. You know, every single thing you're doing kind of has a monetary value. So you know, you're working with conversions, you know, there are constant updates to their site. So, you know, they've got seasonal products. If it's a fashion, you know, they have the spring collection, autumn collection, you know winter then, you know if it's another type of thing, it might be different sports.So it'd be sporting events. So, you know, it's never just one static. Piece of content you're working with. You're always having to think about the bigger picture. You have to be more proactive too because if you're thinking of Christmas, you're kind of having to do it at the latest kind of August. Also, they're like products and inventory is coming in.You're like having different types of pages to work with. So it's specifically, if you're working on Shopify, you know, you've got the collection pages versus the pages versus product pages and they've all got different purposes. So like, it's almost like juggling lots of moving parts and yeah, you got different CMS limitations.So you do, like, I know you have it with the kind of general sites, but you know, Shopify and Magento, commerce, everything is completely different. So. You've got to kind of take those into consideration when you're recommending to developers. You're like, can they actually implement them? Oh, is this going to cause more harm than good?And then, you know, from experience T we've had to deal with emerging markets that aren't established yet, say, for example, a pre-mix cocktail client we worked with and to blame him while the flowers, you know, these are all kind of delivery, like kind of letterbox delivery kind of companies. And they were emerging when we took them on.So we were kind of having to anticipate what the market would look like when it had grain and say, you know, what it would be. Think of when they were searching for this kind of product. So we don't always have the historical data to back it up, or we don't always have the Google trends or, you know, the search volumes.Cause they might not exist yet, but that doesn't mean they're not going to exist in the future. So you're kind of having to. Think about all of these things at the same time. And also, you know, I don't know if I'm generalizing here, but e-commerce sites often have very long dev ticket timelines. They've got so much going on, you know, the uploading, the products they're making changes to the design.They've got a brand to evolve. Say trying to get your SEO tickets in. And highlighting their importance and relevance can be quite hard too. But all in all, it's just probably more fast-paced and more kind of, you have to be more agile. You can't just stick to one thing and go with it.You're going to have to con you know, change your, your approach several times. I'd say, yeah.Areej: I love what you're saying about emerging markets. And I think that's, you know, with, with a lot of frozen e-commerce and a lot of websites kind of completely changing their strategy and tactic. You're right.There's tons of new services, subscription boxes, all that type of stuff that didn't use to exist. And I can imagine how challenging or difficult it might be to predict what the demand might be for some of those services.Laura: Definitely. You kind of has to anticipate what the future buyer will be like. It's quite good.Like it's quite interesting. And you know, like diving into all the differences, like when we do this, we like to take into consideration PPC data. So we'll be like, okay, well what's conversing in PPC. Is this something we can look at? We have to look at that brand. We have to look at, you know, all the different angles.It's not just, how can we get traffic onto their site, because with e-commerce, you know, it was great getting traffic onto their site. If these people are. Buying anything then is actually SEO of any value to them. So having to think of that as well. Yeah.Areej: And being agency side, do you feel that there are some learnings across an array of different e-commerce clients that feel quite excited?Laura: It's really, I don't know. That's a hard one because obviously every business and client is different. And I don't say, say it's as much client communication and management as it is SEO, you know, it's great having this amazing SEO strategy, but if it doesn't match how that matches the business's goals, then you know, it'll become a bit redundant at the end of the day.So. I say, when you, when you are doing an SEO strategy for, as clients, ask what their business goals are and ask what the most important terms are to them, or like their hair aid products, for example, And then prioritize based on that. So what we like to do is like, we like to put everything into projects rather than just the list of dev tickets.So we'll have a project to grow a certain area of the site or internal linking or something, and every team will work on it. And then we'll give it a score, like a priority school and the impact. It will have the confidence and the effort it will take. And that helps. Because, like, I'd say about 80% of the time, you know, you're not talking to an SEO, you're talking to a marketing manager, so you need to give it to them.You know, you need to talk to e-commerce clients, not from an SEO perspective. You need to talk to it as if it's just a general business marketing decision. Because if you use all the jargon and like the abbreviations and all that kind of stuff, then you know, it might not settle in. And you know, understandably the marketing managers might not understand it or dismiss it.So. Prioritizing things based on business decisions, opportunity, and also giving them that specific score based on priority, I think is really important. And you're also having to balance your recommendations with the PPC team, the brand team, traditional PR teams, you know, all of this stuff. So I think it's trying not to get too tied up in the SCA part of things and more like how can SEO complement everything else they do.Areej: Yeah, I love that. And I love what you said. I completely agree with the fact that you know, 80% or more of the time you're actually, you're not speaking to in-house SEO's, you are speaking to the likes of a marketing director or a brand director or a CMO. So yes, we need to know how to speak their language for them to actually get a good understanding of what it is that we're trying to do.Definitely. Yeah. And let's envision that, you know, you have a brand new e-commerce client, they've just come in and you're, you're going through that onboarding phase. What's the fundamental starting point to establish what their e-commerce SEO strategy is going to be?Laura: We kind of like to have a kickoff call with them and just understand how they work and what the business goals are.Like I was saying before and like who they consider being their competitors. Because quite often you'll find that their competitors, they, seem from a business as a whole, a business as a whole perspective. And they're kind of like SCA competitors, which are like inverted commerce and could be very different.So I like to see what kind of person they are. But the competitors versus that. And then. Personally, I then like to follow all the competitors on Instagram or Twitter, because I find that businesses tend to announce what they're going to do on Twitter or Instagram before they actually implement them on site.So it's one way to kind of stay ahead of what everyone else is doing. You'll say, like to look at that kind of SEO history of it, like, you know, like medical history or you go and you're like impacted by any historical updates, you know, have you migrated. What was your international possession? You know, that we like to look at the surface level stuff before we dive into them.And also just understanding what they're trying to get out with SEO because everybody's different. It's not always about the revenue. It can also be about customer signups, newsletter, signups, wanting to grow out the blog. And yeah, from that, then we can work together on the trends, internal linking tactics, product launches, content strategies, and.I kind of take all that information in, then I'll do like a crawl of the site and, you know, the usual SEO check seal day. And I like to link those all up into projects as we do at no boss. So say I've noticed that they've got some 44 hours and there's an issue with the menu. And then, you know, the homepage isn't optimized academically.Great. So he's into an internal linking project and likes to give that as a project and its whole, so, and then we can make sure that everyone's supporting that as well. So kind of like to go from that perspective rather than just diving straight into that. Kind of cruel or their SEO tactics per se.Areej: Yeah. And do you tend to find that there are some, you know, common oversights from across a scale of e-commerce clients?Are there things that tend to be a challenge? That's problematic. It helps you know where to look for it.Laura: I definitely like, especially like on different CMS, there's always going to be the kind of common things that pop up. But one thing we've kind of started doing a lot more is the focus.I know this is kind of slightly controversial, but
38 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Managing Remote Teams With Gisele Navarro
This week we speak to Gisele Navarro, CEO at Content Marketing Agency NeoMam, about working remotely and managing remote teams.Where to find Gisele:Website: https://neomam.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giselenavarro/Twitter: https://twitter.com/ichbinGisele---Episode SponsorMassive shout out to NOVOS for sponsoring the full second season of WTSPodcast.NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency.Where to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode Transcript:Sarah: Hello and a very warm welcome to the Women in Tech SEO podcast. I’m Sarah McDowell, SEO Content Executive at Holland and Barrett., content executive at Holland and Barrett and I will be your host for today. We have Gisele Navarro joining us today to talk about remote work in a subject that I think we can all relate to right now. Gisele is the CEO of NeoMam, a creative studio on a mission to produce content that people want to share with a background in link building and leading a fully remote and multi-cultural team of specialists from her home in Derbyshire.Gisele, a very warm welcome to the show.Gisele: Thank you for having me, Sarah. I'm happy to be here.---This season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. Check them out on thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovos---Sarah: Thank you very much for agreeing to spend your afternoon with me. How are we doing? How's your Wednesday been?Gisele: I mean, it's almost coming to an end now. So the future looks bright.It's been good. I've been quite busy this week, so I'm a bit more tired than you should. But I hope I can tell you where I go on the podcast. And yeah, it's been, it's been good. How was your Wednesday?Sarah: I mean, I've no meaning to brag, but I have had today off. So I'm feeling quite Zen. Like I fell asleep earlier, listening to a podcast in the sunshine. So that's the kind of day that I've had.Sarah: Can you give our wonderful listeners a brief overview of yourself, what you do and how you got into this world of SEO?Gisele: Yes. So I lead the team at NeoMam. So basically my day today, it's just working with everybody who helped us in the creation and the promotion of the content that we make for our clients.And so my background is in link-building. So I started in SEO back in 2009. And I think by 2000, and by the end of 2010, it was quite clear to me that link-building was my thing, and I really liked it. So I ended up being a CEO because I used to work in sales and I was actually quite depressed and I felt that I needed to change something.I was too young to feel the way I was feeling. I felt at the time. So I just quit my job and went online to see what I could do from home. And I've, I've always had a blog since I was a kid, so I kind of knew things or the CEO. So I did put myself out there as a freelancer. And I started, you know, getting paid, I don't know, 50 cents an hour too.To write meta descriptions and things like that. And over time, I started getting closer and closer to some agencies and just the rest is history radio. From there. I kind of got into SEO seriously, not just because it was the one thing I could do from home, but also because I really found it interesting and challenging.And in terms of Neo mom, I joined the umum seven years ago as the head of outreach. And I just grew from there to lead the operations. And now as the CEO of the company. So no pressure for me now, but it's, it's been a, it's been a ride. One that I enjoy, which is the important thing, I guess. Sarah: Thank you for sharing that story and for being very honest there. I would like to move on to a quick quick fire round of questions.[Quick Fire Questions]Sarah: So first things first, what would you say empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are today?Gisele: That's a good question to me. It has to be just looking half, like how far I've come and just seeing every time I look back. I feel stronger for the fixes I've made to overcome the things that I've learned.You know, the people that I got to work with, everybody I've met in my life, the decisions I've made that would go there were way bad. I think all of that, I don't let the past or mistakes I've made become a place I don't want to go to in my mind. Like to use that as a reason to, you know, to keep going and to feel strong. Sarah: What one bit of advice would you give women starting out in the industry.Gisele: Don’t burn yourself out. Don't just feel like you have to. Whether you are just starting or because you're a woman. Because I think we don't make that mistake sometimes when we're new at something that we just want to give it all out.And sometimes actually taking a step back and resting is. Equally as important for you to learn your brain needs it. So, you know, I know that you're super eager to learn and to just get into it. And, but give yourself time to rest. Sarah: Then before delving into today's topic about working remotely and managing remote teams you've been CEO of Neo mom for nearly a year now.Firstly, congrats for getting that role. That's amazing. So I mean, There's so many questions I could ask you here. But I think I'm going to keep it quite simple and go with what it's been like taking over leadership of the agency from the founder. So how have you found CEO life?Gisele: I guess I thought at the beginning that it would be one thing and now I can say it's another. So I guess it was a little bit of a ride, but particularly because it all happened during, you know, the whole pandemic situation. So I think I have a plan set for the next 10 years for the agency and the things that we would do and suddenly became quite clear now. I needed to be in the moment more and not so much in the future.So being more aware of the team of how they were, how they were handling the situation. In their, in their countries, you know, everybody is leaving something quite different because everybody has different lockdowns, they're all in different countries. So being that to support the team I think I knew I was going to have to do that, but I didn't feel that I didn't really think it was going to be such an important part of the role.And it became. No, the key of my role is just coming calls with my team and being there with them. Hmm. And so, and that was also quite different from the way in which the founder, oh, their previous CEO used to run the company. Maybe because I, I don't know how they can do more than fish, maybe. I don't know.But I really got very close with everybody. And Every decision I made throughout the year of new things, we were going to try or decide to say no to business or I don't know, to let go of clients or anything that I didn't see really came from. Responding to what I felt the team needed. And I think that really shifted what I thought, you know, as a CEO, you're going to be setting the pace and everyone is going to be following you and all that.And then I think there is a lot of that. Definitely, but there is also. A lot of looking into, you know, the dynamics of everybody, how are they working? What do they need? And what's working well for people. How can we get more of that? What is not working? How can we fix that? How can we get rid of that? And those big pictures.Team decisions, I think, because everybody's doing their work, they today, they can't make those decisions. Sometimes they can't even see the problems because they're inside of them. So I'm just there to try to help them see.Sarah: So it's like a bird's eye view. Is that what you're sort of talking about that like, cause you know, cause I get that because when you're like stuck in your, in something, because you're so involved and engaged I suppose it's hard to take a step back and like yeah. Look at it more holistically.Gisele: Yes, that's right. And I think I've been trying as well to create some spaces for people to have time to fake whether it is that it is five minutes before a meeting with me when I send them some questions about, okay. How to think about, you know, what is something that you're working on?That you're not enjoying right now. You know, what is it that, every time it comes to you, you're happy about, and suddenly they are. I think helping everybody rethink the way that they look at their work and they can see how powerful that is as a business. So I didn't think I was going to end up doing that.You know, I took the role. So, but it's been great. And I think it did change a lot of my perception of, of what I would fit in.Sarah: So I decided to reach out. And I asked the following questions. On Twitter, I asked the question: when we returned to the new normal, what would you prefer out of the following work from home returns?And blended a bit of both. Now my research is based, cause it's always good to sort of what's the word light to substantiate your research and your data, 130 votes. I didn't think it was that bad on a Friday evening. Do you know what IGisele: Like solid. I wasn't expecting so many actually, right. When I woke up on Saturday, I was like, wow, that's really Wednesday.Sarah: So, I mean, I'll share the results. So 46.9% said work from home. 4.6% said returned to the office and 48.5% said blended. So a bit of both there. So I mean, are you surprised by any of those sorts of stats or is that something that you would have sort of expected to.Gisele: Yeah, I think I would have I think, I mean, obviously since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been arguing, whether what's better, right? Like now, now that you got remote, you see how good the office is or the other way around. Right. And I can imagine that if you had been working in an office for a long time, and then from one day to the next, you had to start working from home and the process.That you were working in, was not ready for it. If there were no systems in place, if you know this, the board wasn't there because leadership also didn't know how to handle the situation. And they would also perhaps focus on other things. It wasn't the word just how you did your job, but also how to keep afloat as a business or whatever.I imagine working from home for a lot of people. Horrible. So I wasn't, I guess when I, so 5% of people say, I want to go back to the office, I was like, yeah, I get it. Like I get it that you would want to, because I imagine it's not being great. And at the same time, I think there's a lot of emphasis right now about hybrid, about hybrid workplace.I particularly know that, you know, the look that was kind of lifted kind of people actually want it to be, so show them one thing too. To not be just at home working, but at the same time do want to be at home working. So I I, yeah, I saw the results and I thought, yeah, this makes absolute sense.Do I agree with a hybrid workplace?I guess it depends. There's a lot of things I think have to be considered.Sarah: That’s so interesting because personally, I think that, because I obviously got involved in the poll and I selected a blended bit of both because there's times where I like working from home. Because I've seen, it gives you flexibility also.I feel like I'm the most productive as well, but then so there's been like a couple of times where I've been back into the office. And yeah, like, and I've enjoyed that because it's something like, yes, you put productivity probably isn't as high because you've got all the conversations going on around you.And like, it's hard to keep concentration and stuff, but at the same time I get why some people like to be in the office and be surrounded by people. So, yeah, I get, but then I also knew that not everyone works the same. And I always say, like, I wasn't surprised that there was a wow. The results were pretty much the same for work from home and blended a bit of both.Isn't it? Like no one wants to go back to the office full time. Did they?Gisele: Nobody wants to go to the Yankees full time. That's basically the headline of this, of these fall. But I think to myself, the reason why I say hybrid. I think as a leader or a manager or a business owner, there has to be clarity around when and why we are going to be in an office or at home?So these ideas are like, oh, the office is that you come, if you want to, and if you don't want to, you don't come. I think in the long-term could be problematic because either there will be a situation where. There's people who always come to the office and there are people who never come to the office and it becomes a, you know, you could have communication breakdowns, you can have you know, different processes that are naturally born.So if you are already in the office, you, the things in a way, but then if you aren't at home, you know, you find a way around the fact that perhaps this information is nowhere for you to see because people talk about it in your office, but you are at home. And at the same time, I think there is a potential of having, you know, an ask versus them situation from a group dynamic perspective.So I think it's quite important that it's, that there, the teams are involved in the decisions as to, like you were saying, okay, when they see it, that you feel more productive at home, what type of tasks do you like doing that? How, how can we plan it so that. You get to do those things at home, that you feel better at, and what type of, for, what do you like to be at the office?Is it a specific meeting that you'd like to have at the office? Is it specific, you know, tasks that you work on that it's better for you to be in an office because X Y set, because you don't want to be at home because you need materials that you have here because whatever. But I think it's important that instead of putting it on there, employees decide what they want to do.That is actually the organization that thinks about it. And that builds a system that allows for people to be in and out of the office and still connected the same way and still collaborating. Yeah. In the, in the same, in the same way, not creating different dynamics of, okay, if you are from home, you know, you're going to miss out on certain things.Or if you're at the office, you know, you don't have to do these extra steps anyway, because you're at the office now, even though perhaps there's somebody from home that will need you to do those extra steps, because it will have no visibility. If you don't do that, you know, So I think that's something that has to be thought aboutSarah: When we're talking about managing remote teams, how do you build trust in culture?Gisele: Yeah, so I guess, I mean, it will depend on the company, right? So what the culture is for that one specific company, obviously, obviously, if you, as a leader, if you don't set the tone for your culture, then. Be born regardless. So if you say, oh, we have no picture. That's just silly. It's like, well, your team alone working together because that's what we do as people when we're in groups.So suddenly we will have all social norms and, you know, the things that we all agree with and the things that we don't agree with. So as a leader, you're not setting the tone for that. Your team will. And then, so then you will have a culture that you might not like in your own company. So. What happens when you're working remotely?Is that if up to this point, your culture was, oh, we have fun. You know, we are, we are social and we, oh, culture is the team activities. We do, you know, we go to the bar on a Friday or we have drinks or. Seventy-one of those things are gone and, and you might feel like you're, it's hard to be a culture. The reality is that those things are not culture.Those things are activities. And perhaps that they had their lining thing that connects all of you is not the fact that on a Friday you will have a drink, you know, and it, I think it takes a little bit more thinking. When you don't have the physical office for you to decide, okay, who, who are we as a team?Who are we, you know, who are we as a company? What are the things that we have in common ? For the good or the bad, you know, they connect us. What are the values that we all share? And when you are, when you're working remotely, if, if your values are clear and if your, you know, your processes that you have built.And then communications, the way we should communicate, if those, all of those things, can become tools for you to strengthen your values on a regular basis. So, you know, just to give you an example, our number one value is to be open and honest, and we are already open and honest. So we are as a team, you know, in our content, in our blog posts.And the conversations that we have in the industry like me right now with you, I'm just, I'm telling you what comes directly from my brain without filtering to make it look nicer and be like that. And I think as a team, we put things in place. So for example, every Friday we all receive as. Pull where we are asked to rate the week from one to five, one being I hate today, then five being.I love that. And then just sharing, you know, something that we really enjoyed and something that we found challenging. That is a key tool for our open and honest value. Yes. Because everybody, I think the first time that you actually go in and you put on that and you say something challenging, that was really terrible.And somebody else from the team gets in touch and says, Hey, I read about these. How are you? How can I help or whatever you realize that actually being open and honest it's okay. It's good. Right. It's rewarding. It builds trust. And so it is a very specific case because it's just, you know, it's just a value that allows us to build trust.But it's a little step that we took along the way. Make it, so these values are...
31 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
The One Where We Discuss Image Optimisation With Karen Julia
This week we speak to Karen Julia, Wedding Photographer & SEO Consultant, about all things image optimisation.Featured Resource: https://photoseolab.com/image-seo/Where to find Karen:Website: https://photoseolab.com/ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-julia/---Episode SponsorMassive shout out to NOVOS for sponsoring the full second season of WTSPodcast.NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency.Where to find Novos:Website - https://thisisnovos.com/LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovosTwitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovosInstagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/---Episode Transcript:Areej: Hey everyone! Welcome to a new episode of the Women in Tech SEO episode. I’m Areej and I’m the founder of Women in Tech SEO. And today joining me is the brilliant Karen Julia, wedding photographer and SEO consultant. Hey Karen!Karen: It's great to be here.---This season is sponsored by NOVOS. NOVOS, the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides technical eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge by specialising across platforms like Shopify & Magento. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. Check them out on thisisnovos.com or follow on Linkedin @thisisnovos---Areej: I'm so excited to have you on board. And I love that. I think from the very first time we ever spoke, I remember you telling me all about how you're a wedding photographer. Introduce yourself to everyone and let us know what you do in your world.Karen: Awesome. Well, I'm a wedding photographer, as you've mentioned, and I'm also an SEO consultant as well.The approach I have with SEO is to really kind of coach and empower and educate clients. So it's a little bit of a kind of random way that I got into this. I didn't really set out. Intending to do SEO, but I phoned from my own business. I wanted to be phoned more by the right client and Google, as we know, as a fantastic matchmaker.So I started learning SEO back in 2007 and got my website ranking really well, and then went through all the trials and tribulations like Panda and penguin and Got banned from Google at one point. And it was purely accidental. It was not intended to be not. But I realized then that you can't really do SEO kind of half-heartedly, you know, it's kind of all or nothing because there's so many kinds of updates and changes and it's a constantly evolving kind of space really.So I realized that I needed to improve my lack of resources as well in terms of where I was getting trusted information from. And that's when I started helping people in the community, the photography community that I'm in.Areej: Do you help other wedding photographers optimize their websites?Karen: I do. I have a client base of photographers around the world from the U S I've worked with clients and New Zealand, Australia, kind of, I'm thinking there's a couple of different African countries as well.Europe. So I have an international client base and really the niche that I specialize in is wedding photography specifically. Yep.Areej: And how do you currently split your time between the SEO consultancy and the wedding photography?Karen: Well, wedding photography is quite seasonal in the UK, the wedding seasons, April to September.So previously before I realized how much I love SEO and helping other photographers, I was shooting about 40 or 50 weddings a year, but with The kind of SEO consultancy work that I do now, I tend to split it more evenly. So in summer there's more of a focus on photographing weddings. So that's kind of April to September.And then my main kind of SEO season, if you like, is October to March. So I still do a couple of weddings over season and I still do have SEL clients. I have my as well. But with the pandemic, it's actually been quite helpful, I think, to have an alternative special specialism. So I have been working with more clients and students this summer than this year.Areej: Yeah, I can imagine I have a really good friend of mine. Both her and her husband have a wedding photography business, and I know things have been really difficult and you know, not very obvious in terms of rules and regulations. So it must be really good to kind of have that balance between both and be able to juggle both.Karen: I love the variety and I've always been the type of person that loves to learn a variety of different things. You know, I, I, I think variety's the spice of life and to be able to photograph weddings and be out on the weekends and kind of work in with big groups of people, but also the kind of educational side of what I do means that I get to speak to wonderful creative, talented photographers that are in the world.And it's really kind of rewarding.Areej: Yep. I love that. And I also am really, really thankful to how you're always on the Facebook group on Women in Tech SEO, and you're always answering people's questions. So, you know, as a brilliant woman, like what empowers you today and what empowers you to be, you know, juggling both those things at the same time.Karen: Education is so powerful. And I think really, for me, I think. The kind of concept of maybe having limited access to knowledge can really have an influence in terms of holding people back or not being able to kind of truly shine. So I'm really passionate about education. It kind of drives everything out too. And with the clients that I work with or with the people in the community that I spend time supporting.And so I kind of allocate a little bit of time every week to make sure That I've kind of spent a little bit of time, maybe supporting others in the community. I'm part of the mentorship program within Women in Tech SEO as well. You know, I think I'm, I'm really passionate about education. It's something that from quite a young age, I had to fight quite hard to be able to continue my own education on.I just think that that shouldn't be a limit to anyone, you know, we're in a community, even amongst competitors. When we all kind of have the knowledge to be able to kind of truly be the best version of ourselves, then we're able to kind focus on other things, like what makes our business different or what are the unique things that we can bring, whether it's to market or to community or to any space, really.So education and kind of empowerment is what really drives me.Areej: Absolutely love that. And you know, for women who are listening, who are just starting off in the SEO industry, what advice would you give them?Karen: I think really don't be afraid to niche down. The world needs more experts. There's lots of generalists out there, and there's nothing wrong with being a generalist at all.But I think being an expert in a specific niche pervades. Almost less competition in a way, but also a better kind of experience for clients. And that's no bad thing, you know? So I think if there's something that you're really passionate about or that you care deeply about, then being able to create a kind of niche in that area is something that may kind of mean that you enjoy your job more and also your clients can benefit from all the kinds of subtle nuances within that specific niche.So I think that would be my kind of initial, you know, if I was kind of starting over again right now and thinking about what maybe SEL area I wanted to focus on I think doing something that was maybe connected to like a hobby or an interest that you've got a little bit of background in that someone who wasn't involved in that area may not know.I think that can actually be really beneficial. And I think the other thing is as well, you know, take, take part and they can have community options that are out there. I think the, the, the work that you have done in the industry and the SEO industry reach as I just continue to be impressed and. Just, just find your inspiration, to be honest in terms of everything that you've done for the community.I think there's so many resources out there. So I would say that to anyone that is starting out, you know, don't be afraid to ask for help. There's lots of people that are more than happy to share resources and skills and knowledge. If you are maybe needing help getting started, then the mentorship program that women in tech SEO will do is fabulous.You know, there's been lots of great feedback from previous cohorts and things. So I think that that's really, they're the key things, you know, focus on what you love and don't be afraid to ask for help. Areej: Yup. I absolutely love that. And you're completely right. And I think within not just our community, but within any community, you, you tend to find, you know, people who from our, from all stages and all walks of life, you know, some who have been doing this for over 10 years and others who are just starting out and everyone has something very valuable and very helpful to offer.Karen: Absolutely. And it's the sort of industry where even if you've been in it a long time, like I've been SEO optimizing websites since 2007, really, but in a way we're all kind of quite new in terms of, you know, new updates. They're constantly changing, they have an equal system or kind of environment, really.So I think that kinda keeps it exciting and it keeps it fresh and it means that. But even people that maybe haven't been in the industry that long, like I constantly learn new things all the time, you know? So just because someone's new doesn't necessarily mean that they're, they're either experienced or knowledgeable.And I think it's a little bit different from other industries, you know, because of the constantly changing situation and the freshness of this kind of information.Areej: Yup. Yup, absolutely love that. So today we are here to talk about all things, image optimization, which completely makes sense within your niche and your industry.So maybe we can start off by just telling us a little bit about what, what is the importance of image optimization?Karen: Really? There's a, there's a lot of different levels to this, so, well, optimized images are going to provide a better user experience just from the simple point of view of PGS. Been able to load faster.So that's a key thing we know for our kind of user experience, especially in line with the core web vitals and then the overall page experience situation with giggles. There's also the kind of really allowing Google to play matchmaker with getting content in front of the right people. So there's a lot of different, little small things that you can do with images to really help Google understand them better.And Help, I suppose, kind of be shortened for more of the right surface ALS. Yeah. And if you think that within you know text content, there's lots of different kinds of ways that you could write the one article and adapt in the ways of writing the article can help. With Google play matchmaker is a bit better.Images are the same, but if you've got quite a lot of them in the page, then each one of those images has a little opportunity to just kind of spread in the net of who you could be shown to. So it's a really kind of powerful opportunity you know, in terms of making sure that they're optimized properly.Areej: Yeah. And I guess with some people they can either be starting off a website completely from scratch, which then makes it a little bit easier to start thinking about that from the beginning. But with other folks, this is something they might be thinking of a few years down the line of having a website that already has tons of images.So what, and at which point in the process, is this something to prioritize them to think about.Karen: Well, ideally the time to kinda think about image optimization is before you even import images into the software that you're going to use to edit them. But there's a couple of different approaches that I take, I think if it's a client with a new website, then we can get those systems in place right off the bat.And that's great when I'm working with clients who maybe have larger. Macy websites, which is more often the case, then it's a case of really kind of chosen. What's going to give us the best return for our time? Right now I'm starting to put things right. And the great situation at the moment is there's lots of different software out there to be able to see how things are performing, to see if we've got images.Ryan can condensers. So. We can use that, get some kind of information and then make a decision strategically to kind of focus on the areas first. And it's just a case of chipping away at it. But aside from that, I think having the correct processes in place is so, so important. I'd highly recommend that everyone have a kind of set process or set range of steps.For image optimization. And that ensures that you've kind of completed all the different potential opportunities that you can have for your photos. And that should really start at the kind of before you've even imported any photos.Areej: Yeah. And I know that you've mentioned that you wanted to share a little bit about that process that you have in mind and what you tend to do with different clients.Do you tend to start a certain way or are there different ways, depending on the website and the scale of, or how many images they've gone?Karen: I mean, I tend to kind of personalize things to a specific client, but I think for the benefit of it or listeners, that process usually involves a bit of software called Adobe Lightroom.Now I'm not sponsored or connected to them in any way. But I would kind of really highly recommend it because it enables tools to be optimized in a bulk tape way, which is. Awesome for team efficiency. I'm all about team efficiency and having processes and systems in place. So. Within Adobe lightroom.When you import photos, you can apply a metadata preset, and really that's the first stage in terms of photo optimization. So when you've got a metadata preset, essentially what that does is add some X of data to the fail. And there's all sorts of valuable information that you can add on there. The copyright situation who took the full tool, where the photo was taken.And so there's lots of opportunities right away before the photos have even gone near a website to get some valuable information there. And I know Google's been beta testing and showing image licensing. So that's something that's going to really provide useful information for Google to show if her photos are copyrighted or not.So that that's usually where I would kind of start in that process. And one of the things that are found out that. It really doesn't seem to be common knowledge. I don't think Adobe Lightroom has a cloud version of the software. I typically use classic as to most of my photography clients, but the cloud version would be perfect for agencies because it means that you can have cloud level access, you know, from a bunch of different departments, remotely for optimized photos.So that's something that you know, is going to be an efficiency and a time-saver.Areej: Yep. That's really, really helpful. That's something I personally wasn't aware of. So I'm sure a lot of folks in the audience will find that very helpful. And what is some way that we can measure whether we can say, okay.Yep. That's great. This is now considered optimized or no, there's more work that needs to be done on it.Karen: I think SEO in general is an ongoing continual process. Certainly with all the various kinds of steps that you can take in terms of image optimization is something that should help an image be shortened.And so the way that I usually would measure the success for that is. Using or analyzing the data within Google search console, we've got a whole wealth of data to show what terms are pages being shown for. But also H refs are really good for showing whether Sarah features have been shown for any given URL.And that's something that I usually can refer to. To monitor the success of a campaign. I know that if the fails are named really well and they're sized in a, an appropriate way to be as kind of as fast logged in as possible and optimized really well. I know that that has a knock-on positive effect with increasing the chance of those falses being shown in search.So I use eight Schrafft's to kind of monitor the success of that. But Google search console absolutely has its place.Areej: Yep. And what about like, if a client shows up and, you know, they've got tens of thousands of these images, what kind of timeframe do you have in mind in order to work on that project and have actual things that come out your feet where, okay.That's pretty much you're in a good state right now.Karen: Well, I think if, if I'm working on a large website, which I've got quite a few at the moment, then the benefit of software lake Lightroom, as that you can just bulk import all the photos at once attach a metadata preset to the whole lot and ex export them all whilst.Optimizing the fail names at the same time. So you could either do them in batches to have different file names, or you could have a sequential fail name situation. Often when I see websites that have maybe just the default fail them. Usually those websites don't have any images shown in syrups at all.And those tend to be the ones that need the most work. So really, if you don't get the file names, right. I usually find that there's a lot of other things on there that aren't optimized either. So in those situations, you know, If that fits the situation with the website's performance, you can literally just import a model and one goal and improve the names and batches, and then export them to an optimal size.So it's actually a fairly efficient process. If you work through the different steps late, the room has a map module as well. And that allows you to very easily and in a bulk type way at geotag and information. So adds in the location of different photos and reinforces the location information that might be mentioned in the alt text.Then I know where you're going to get to accessibility in a minute. But I think I have the ability to do that in bulk. Just makes...
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