The State of Technical SEO 2023: In-house Experts Webinar
Hosted by Areej AbuAli and Paddy Moogan, our panel of SEO experts from the Women in Tech SEO community discuss their thoughts and insights on the results of the State of Technical SEO Report 2023. Our experts tackle a range of important questions, including:
In-house SEOs and using external agencies and freelancers for SEO support.
Budgeting for external SEO agencies and freelancers.
The main blockers to getting things done faced by in-house SEOs.
How in-house SEOs prioritise tasks for effective implementation.
What best metrics for measuring technical SEO performance.
How Google update announcements affect technical SEO roadmaps.
Thank you to our technical SEO experts for joining us on this webinar:
Crystal Carter, Head of SEO Comms, Wix
JJ Nato-Pascasio, Senior SEO Strategist, Balsam Brands
Kavi Kardos, Director of SEO, Corporate Finance Institute
Paddy Moogan: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the State of Technical SEO 2023 webinar. This is the In-house SEO experts webinar for the state of Technical SEO report in 2023. We've got some great experts with us from the tech SEO community today. I'm Paddy Moogan. I'm the CEO and co-founder of Aira.
Every year we run the State of Technical SEO survey, which powers the report, which many of you might have seen. If you haven't seen it, it's basically a bunch of questions, which every year we ask the SEO community to answer. It ranges from the impact of Technical SEO, their favorite tools, their less favorite tools how they get on in terms of reporting, all those things related to SEO we ask about.
Then we collect all of the answers every single year and then we put chances out to our experts. Some of those experts are joining us today and going to give us some insights into some of the questions that we asked. Also, I love that we've been able to partner with the Women in Tech SEO community for this.
All of our experts every year are from the Women in Tech SEO community, and they lend us their insights, lend us their experience, and really add to the quality and the outputs of the report as well. I'm really happy to be joined by the founder of the Women in Tech SEO community Areej who will introduce herself and the community in a second. I'll get out of the way and come back shortly with some questions and open up the floor to our panel experts. Areej over to you.
Areej AbuAli: Awesome. Thank you so much. This is so exciting. This is the second time we run this report together, and I love working on it every year. I'm Areej and I'm the founder of Women in Tech SEO. Joining us today are some of our awesome, awesome, awesome experts who always support and share tons of insight. I'll do a quick introduction for everyone. We are joined by Crystal Carter, our head of SEO comes at Wix. JJ Nato, senior SEO strategist at Balsam Brands.
Kavi Kardos, director of SEO at Corporate Finance Institute. Paige Hobart, who is the SEO manager at Unily, and Roxana Stingu, the head of Search SEO Alamy. Welcome everyone and thank you so much for joining us.
Crystal Carter: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much.
Areej: Awesome. Cool. Let's kick off with the first question. One of the things that we had asked within our survey was, do you use external agencies, freelancers, or contractors for Technical SEO? It was quite interesting because a high proportion of in-house SEOs said that they do not use external contractors, 76%. I'm going to start off with you, Roxana, if you can let us know why you feel the answers are skewed that way and what your thoughts are on it.
Roxana Stingu: I'm definitely in that 76%. I feel that with the budget of hiring an agency, I can hire a full-time person in my team who's going to be way more dedicated to the detail because it's the nature of the in-house job versus the agency job. That's personally why I always prefer hiring a new person versus getting an agency.
Having said that, if I'm embarking on a new project that would require multiple people. Let's say instead of spending that time to hire all those people, I'd probably go with an agency that already has the skill and expertise and can give me all those people when I need them.
Areej: Anyone here on the yes side? Anyone here who would've voted yes?
Paige Hobart: I don't have a Tech SEO agency, I do use a PPC agency and a copywriting agency. I just feel like the tech side we can do ourselves. I can go in and fix broken links, I can make sure that I'm liaising with the developer directly to make sure that we're doing the tech side.
I definitely think there's that support on the other side of SEO that you just can't do everything. Having come from an agency background for many years, I definitely see the advantages of agencies, but it's finding the support that you need if you are the tech SEO expert.
Crystal: I think that the project-based model that Roxana is talking about and the-- I think there's two things. On a project basis. Normally if you're working in-house, you're often working across multiple websites. You might have your main website, subsites, and different languages, different launch sites, and things like that. You might need somebody to help you do one particular project.
I think overall, as an in-house tech SEO then you know all of the tech debt [laughs] that your properties might have and all of the, "Oh, don't touch that." Because if you touch that actually that makes this other thing go. You know all of that and it's easier to manage that stuff in-house, but on a project-by-project basis, I think that it absolutely makes sense to get some support where you need it.
Also, I think that Paige is talking about complementary skills. If you have the tech SEO skills there, then the complementary skills of the PPC or the content which you can support from your tech SEO role can help you to get even better outcomes for things like that. Also, I think that I've certainly had the case where I've worked-- when I was working agency side, I was working with somebody who was doing Tech SEO and there was one thing that there was a new thing that was new to them that they needed help with that particular element.
It might be me that somebody needs help implementing international SEO because now they're going into a new region and they are thinking, "I don't know, looks easy, and then it gets really complicated as everybody says." [laughs] It might be that they've got a new tech stack. I think that those are the things complimenting your competency as useful.
Kavi Kardos: We're in the same spot, Crystal, we use an agency for link building specifically, but with Tech SEO it's a lot harder to give them the keys to say the backend of your website and just get them acquainted with everything involved in the Technical end specifically. Then it would be to just hand over link-building PPC, something like that. That's a little more siloed off usually.
Paddy: I think as the owner of an agency. I mean this particular question makes me a little bit sad, but it's definitely understandable and I think all of you just said there makes perfect sense. From an agency perspective, it is definitely a challenge to go in and get to know the website as well as an in-house SEO. That will come, but it'll take a long time. That's long a big investment for in-house SEOs to make.
Speaking of that, I guess brings us to our second question around budgets for in-house SEOs they put towards external freelancers agencies. Here those people, the 24% that said yes, they do use external freelancers or contractors or agencies. We then asked them a follow-up question saying roughly how much money did they spend in investing to Technical SEO with an external contractor?
You can see predominantly most answers were below the $10,000 a month mark with most being between $1,000 and $5,000. Pretty much, everyone, I think that spent 85% were less than $10,000 a month. On this point, I guess Crystal, we could come to you first on this.
When you are perhaps working on a project and you know that you may need some external help as a project or just a specialist piece of work. If you do have to go to your stakeholders to get budget, what are the things that you would have to show them to justify that spend, whether it's a one-off for an ongoing spend? What factors would you have to go through there?
Crystal: I think particularly if you're a very large team then I think that you need to be able to justify that you can't do it in-house, first of all. Because they'll say, we have all these people, [laughgs] surely somebody can do it. You have to be able to justify that you can't do it in-house, that you need this particular expertise which you can be able to get from this particular specialist team or specialist contractor.
That's useful. Also, I mean, people want to know that they're going to get money, they're going to get a return on their investment. I think that's something that you need to think about and I think that-- I think also particularly for people who are hoping to work with in-house teams, I think it's important to think about lead time. The time between having an idea, the time between actually getting it over the line might be longer than if somebody was a contractor or if somebody was doing it in a smaller scale.
Do bear that in mind as well, that sometimes you also have to think about the timing of the request and the timing of the actual like-- when you're going to do it. For instance, if you've put it in September, then it doesn't get signed off before September, then guess what? It's going to go to the back of the queue until when you get the other side of January and you're going to have to start again. I think that also comes into it.
Paddy: That makes a lot of sense. I guess has anyone else felt similar things? You said that Crystal, around returning investment being one of those factors and again, as an agency, we have to show that quite a lot if we are going to go in and pitch for business. Does anyone else find that, I guess a challenge? Because obviously it's not easy to say you fix this problem and you suddenly get $20,000 or $50,000.
Has anyone else found ways to try and show returning investment without promising it too much? Has anyone else had experience on that front?
Roxana: Sometimes you probably just need tools that can handle the size of your website. I work on an enterprise-level website. I need an enterprise-level crawler that comes with the expertise of the people who provide it. Not an agency per se, but somewhat similar to that. It's hard to put a value because we're monitoring log files or running crawls to identify users that might appear. It's hard to measure beforehand, but I think it's also important to set a baseline, a minimum of what you need to be able to do your job every day and I think an enterprise crawler in my situation is part of that baseline.
As long as you can identify the baseline and what goes towards it, you can maybe justify some of the expenses part of this baseline. It's not just me and my team, but also part of the cost is enterprise-level crawler because otherwise, we wouldn't be able to do anything.
Paige: I think that's really important, Roxana. When I started in September at this job, in my notice period, I gave a list of these are all the tools that I'll need, these are the ones I can't live without, these are the ones that are pretty nice and these are the ones that would be good, but we probably don't need and they're very expensive, but I'm going to make you aware of them just so you can see and before we'd even started, they were very aware of what I needed and what investment I would need and that was good. I also find being in-house now very fascinating agency side, ROI, projections, everything has to have value. Now I'm in the marketing department and we are putting on these huge events that cost thousands. When I'm like, "I have Screaming Frog." They're like, "Yes, it's £109 go away."
"Put it on the credit card, what are you talking about? Go away." It's absolutely a mind-blowing thing on the complete other end of the spectrum, their marketing teams. [laughs]
Areej: That's really funny. I've experienced both. I've also experienced-- please write us a business case of why you need screaming Frog. [laughs] Which is [laughs] the time it takes to rate that business case costs more than Screaming Frog, but yes, thank you as always. All right. Moving on to the next question, which I think is also super interesting around the main blockers of getting changes done to the site.
I know this is something as in-house folks we tend to talk about a lot. What came through is almost 70% said that because there are currently existing non-SEO development tasks in place. That's a big reason why it's very difficult to get changes done to a site. JJ, I'd love to hear from you. How generally would you advise other in-house SEOs to get important SEO tasks prioritized? When things are clearly a challenge in terms of having an existing non-SEO stack of things to get done, what advice would you give for in-house SEOs?
JJ: It would be really lucky for you to get to a team where really feel supported of getting all of your SEO tickets done. For me, what has really worked is really being clear of what would be the impact of what it'll be for implementing and not implementing this SEO task. I ask for data for me to be able to present that and it might need higher on some points, especially if it's a real small thing. I don't know adding a robots.txt sometimes you have to really create a business case out of it, but yes, eventually I think it flattens out. It becomes a little more clear to your teams that these are the impact of not doing this and so it becomes more important to the queue of the development task.
Areej: Does anyone else feel that where they work or where they previously worked, it wasn't so much that there was a lot of non-SEO stuff, but it was more around not having buy-in or actually the SEO stuff was so much that they weren't quite sure where else to fit it in. Any other scenarios that people face?
Crystal: I think there's definitely a requirement to get buy-in from across your team. I think that when you're working in-house, I think it's important to constantly work on that. [chuckles] If you're working in-house, you should always be drip feeding that SEOs good SEOs, good SEOs, good SEOs, good SEOs, good all the time, so that when you need that thing to make the SEO better that you can effectuate that and yes, the buy-in thing, because obviously people have priorities and they might not think that robots.txt is a priority, but you looking at the data can go, "OMG, this is a priority." [laughs]
You have to explain that and you have to be able to explain and communicate that in language that the C-suite understands, that your boss understands that people higher up the chain understand, because being able to show it on a chart isn't enough. You have to be able to explain it human to humans.
Roxana: Can I please add what JJ said about adding value for requests coming from SEO, that's not just important to get buy-in from product or development teams. It's also important to get buy-in from yourself because you need to prioritize your own tasks. You can't just submit everything and I can't tell you how many times I think something is a great idea. I try to do a quick research to estimate the impact of it and be like, "Eh, not worth my time. I got 20 other things that are more important."
Paige: That's really good advice because that's not just the advice I'm following at the moment. [laughs] I'm just like, "Do all these things." My developer's been really good at just getting through all the stuff I'm sending him. I've got into some very bad habits.
Roxana: Just don't get me wrong, please.
Paige: Get just do this, just do that. [chuckles]
Roxana: If I had your resources, I'd do the same.
Areej: I think Paige is still in the honeymoon phase of in-house. She's just joined the house [laughs] and she's still in that nice honeymoon phase.
Paige: Yes, she's been busy with another project since the start of the year and I'm like, "What do you mean you can't do my thing first?" 100% I've been identifying what are quick wins versus long-term things for him to do and also finding workarounds like, "I can't design this in the exact way that I want it, but I've got CMS access. How can I make this work with what I have already?
What widgets can do this? Maybe not at the original style line, but actually this works just as well and I can just add a little bit code. I can do it like this instead. Just trying to take on as much as possible from the developer queue and think outside the box a bit is really helpful and then you can leave space for the things that you really need that developer resource for.
Crystal: I think also you can also demonstrate that it works. You can say if we add a couple more buttons and if you add a low level, a line link. That's just a line link in bold text or something [laughs] and you're like, "Look, a lot of people clicked on this button that or clicked on this line link." Imagine if this was an actually decent button, guys that can be really, really useful to making your case.
Paige: Oh yes, we're all CRO experts in-house. [laughs] We see other calls to action.
Crystal: We go.
Paddy: That's almost a perfect segue into the next question, which I'll come to in a second. Before we move on, I think I'd love to hear anyone's opinions on, I guess best practice SEO versus SEO that actually moved the needle, because I think as an industry sometimes we've got-- there's hundreds of things we can do, but in reality there's often things that may be done that may not make a big difference in terms of traffic or rankings or revenue.
For example, looking after-- we're removing 301s across the site, it's hard to say sometimes if that's going to make a difference or if it's just best practice for crawling and that kind of stuff. Does anyone have any experience around making sure that we are not just ticking things after, say we're doing best practice, then we can tick off all the site bulb warnings and things like that versus things that will actually move the needle. How do you typically approach that and try and move towards the latter?
Roxana: Can I say I have a conversation with John Miller on Twitter, and I'm not just dropping names, but John Miller said he found 404s on my website and we laughed about it because who has time to fix a few 404s when the website has 400 million plus pages? I'm definitely an adopt of focus on what can move the needle, not just tick things off a list because a crawl report said so, and that's why I have 404s everywhere.
Kavi: I'm lucky to work in an environment where our CEO and in general, our leadership takes SEO very seriously and they prioritize it and did before I even joined and that's why they wanted a director in place in the first place. Because they care about it and because they pay attention to what's going on in the industry, to some extent they are aware of what kind of traditional SEO best practices are. I get a lot of, "Are we doing this? Are we following this best practice?
Have we taken care of this box? Have we ticked off this box?" A lot of that is the conventional best practices advice, even if it's not necessarily what's going to move the needle for our site in particular. I get that-- I have buy-in from the stakeholders that I want buy-in from, but it's not necessarily buy-in on the tasks that I think should be our top priorities. It's general SEO buy-in, but it's not always--
I will often have to say, let's set aside that best practice priority that's at the top of your list and instead prioritize this other thing over here that you weren't even aware of necessarily, but trust me, this is going to be actually better for us in the long term because it's going to move the needle for us a lot more in the long run than the thing you read about in the news last week that seems to be more important because it's what everyone else is doing. I think it comes down to education and keeping your team educated like anything else.
Paige: A little bit of knowledge is never a good thing. A lot or none.
Areej: How many people got a message going, "What are we going to do about this ChatGPT thing?
Kavi: My Slack channel blew up about it.
Areej: I got a whole bunch of them from my clients and I'm like, "Do we not need that freelance copywriter anymore now that we have ChatGPT?
Kavi: I got emails from three out of five people on our content team sending whatever newsletter they read in the mornings, "Have you seen this?" [laughs] For sure.
Roxana: I'm literally putting a slide together on how we can use ChatGPT for efficiency inside different teams.
Paddy: I feel like we can have a whole little webinar just on ChatGPT alone at the moment and we will probably get probably several hours' worth of content out of it. Cool. This is actually like I said earlier segueing really off into the next question which we've picked out, which is around prioritizing SEO tasks. We asked our respondents how they prioritize because as we all know, there's often lots of tasks to be done, no website's ever perfect.
We asked people to feedback on how they prioritize them. The number one answer was actually prioritizing based on what they felt were quick wins. Potentially a big impact, but not a lot of effort and then impact on KPIs and the list goes on a little bit.
Kavi, if I can come to you first with, I guess where I want to go a bit deeper on this, if you had a bunch of tasks to prioritize and you had to give someone advice on how to start prioritizing them, how to split them out into the things we just talked about, into the moving needle versus best practice. What tactical advice would you give to other in-house SEOs to try and approach that and break down this potentially massive list of tasks, down to something which could actually be worked on by some developers?
Kavi: I think it obviously depends on what kind of site you're working on. Everyone's priorities are going to be stacked up differently, but we tend to work in terms of what are we capable of right now. When we set out our roadmap for the quarter or for the year or whatever, it's often based less on what's going to have the biggest impact right away and more on what are we capable of executing reasonably within this time period.
It may have a huge impact, but is it actually reasonable, excuse me, for us to execute within the next quarter? If it's not, then we don't want to get our hopes up about it even if we think it's going to have a major impact. Again, I'm lucky to have a manager who will say, "I understand you have these hopes and dreams of getting this project done over the next quarter, but do you think that's actually plausible?
Do you think we have the resources to get this done? What are the dependencies from other teams, design or dev, or whoever it is? Are you going to need copywriting support? Something like that." If we don't have that available is that going to preclude you from getting this done? If the answer is yes, then we'll put it off. I think that's something that a lot of SEOs in particular because we have so many dependencies on either internal or external teams will put aside and say, "Yes, but the impact will be so huge or it's going to move the needle so much. I have to get it done even if there's some roadblock in my way."
If it's implausible to get it done or if you need to wait before you have the availability of a tool or something like that, then maybe that means putting it off until you have what you need to be able to actually execute it.
Paddy: I guess it's about being a bit realistic as well and having that conversation and understanding you can't get everything done at once. Let's talk about what could be pushed back a little bit. I guess it comes back to again, what can really move the needle versus, it's nice to have that kind of thing that sounds like it's something which is quite common in-house generally.
I've never worked in-house, so I've never been tempted into that side quite in my career so far, but it's really interesting to hear that that's-- It almost sounds like you have to be just as much of a-- Not quite a politician, but you have to be able to build those relationships, have conversations and not just give people a list of things to do. You have to be able to talk to different teams.
Does anyone have, I guess, experience with working with teams and building those relationships with teams so that when you do go to them, whether it's a dev team or design team or UX, wherever it is, in terms of really getting them bought into SEO, if they're not bought in already or they've not really been educated so far and that you are the first person to go and say, "Hey, here's SEO, let's talk,?" Anyone got experience with that?
Roxana: For most of us, I think we all work with our developers as technical SEOs. I do make a point anytime they ask a question to provide a bit of more context than just a simple answer so they do get to learn something about why we're asking for certain changes or how they fit in in the bigger picture. It pays off investing that time because I have many projects I can't be part of because I'm only one person, but I do have developers coming to me saying, "I'm working on this and I think it might have an SEO impact. Do you need to be pulled in?"
They're doing my work for me because I invested that time to try to educate them and give them the information when they needed it. Now they're applying it even if I'm not there. Another thing I wanted to say, when you do have projects that you put forward and maybe they were refused because of other bigger priorities, do revisit them. I can't tell you how many times I suggested something and it just wasn't the right time for the business to do it and then in a few years, we actually did it.
Don't give up on all the plans you did. Just go back to them once in a while and see, is it now maybe a better time to propose that website migration or whatever it might be.
Crystal: There's an article from Eli Schwartz talking about enterprise SEO and stuff. One of the things he talks about is he talks about "Make friends with everyone," [laughs] so he says. It's incredibly valuable. There's been a couple of times where there's things that I've wanted to move forward and we asked from our team and we weren't able to get something.
Then I knew that another team was doing something similar and I was like, "Hey, you guys need help?" They were like, "Yes, sure." I piggybacked and I was like, "You know, this would be really important for SEO if you push this forward." You can sometimes go from a different angle, not even necessarily from your developers, but from another team that you know is trying to achieve something and they're trying to solve a problem.
If you know that there's an SEO solution for that problem-- For instance, I'm on a board of a charity and they were having issues with-- They were like, "Oh, we're having trouble with recruitment."
I'm like, "This is a schema markup situation. You know what I'm saying? There's a very simple answer to this. You don't need another thing. You need some very simple code." Sometimes you can get what you want by supporting another team and then they'll roll it out across the rest of the team. You can sometimes leverage other people's [laughs] momentum when you need it in order to get what you need.
Paige: Piggybacking is such good advice for in-house and agency. I think agency sometimes forget to ask what's going on in that company. I was obviously that person for a very long time and getting those kinds of objectives from your client saying, "What's a priority for you this week?" Then being able to jump and just a little bit, just add your little SEO sprinkles on top of that thing they're already doing, it makes things so much easier.
Because like you said, you could be sat on it for so long going, "Why aren't they doing this thing?" Then you just slide it in with that other thing.
Crystal: Areej shared stuff about PPC keywords and stuff and how PPC people are amazing at keywords. If they're optimizing that page for PPC, you can go, "Hey, while you're there, can you do this thing I really wanted?"
Areej: I think in my most recent in-house role, that's exactly how I got any SEO initiatives done. It was purely through riding along the wave of the product roadmap. It was like, "Oh, this is the product roadmap for the year." "Great. SEO can sit here, here, here, here, here." Then it would simply then be labeled as SEO recommendations within that specific product initiative.
It doesn't feel exactly like an SEO project anymore, it's a product initiative and a product project but then that has some SEO requirements within it. I think that's great advice and that's definitely something that's-- It's the best way to get everyone on board and for everyone to be understanding what our requirements are and feel like we're within part of that business. Cool. With the next question we wanted to dive a bit deeper into what is the one metric that folks felt is the most effective when measuring SEO performance. Every single year I get very upset that traffic wins over conversions, but every year it does.
Paige, I'd love to start with you. Do you have any advice for in-house SEOs who are struggling to connect some of their more technical work with these performance metrics, how do you go about tying some of the requirements that you put forward or the recommendations that you put forward with some of these metrics that we have here?
Paige: I think having the background in agency and I think Paddy can agree, you really learn to tell a story. Every week you've got to report to that client, you've got to tell the story of what you did, what it achieved, and what that's done for your client. It's really good practice to get into. That is something I have brought to my in-house role, they get bombarded every Tuesday morning with this is what we're doing, this is the impact.
This is essentially how many marketing-qualified leads we've actually driven so I can get right down into the granularity of what does my CMO actually care about? What metrics is he telling me about every single week? It's about MQLs and SQLs, Sales Qualified Leads so let's work backwards from that. Let me look at the organic ones. Let's look at the first-page scene in HubSpot so I can tie that back.
Then let's look at those pages in search console because traffic isn't just a shout-out to search console, got to look at those clicks and the keywords that we've got there. I think it works backward from the KPI that your head honcho actually cares about in try and tell that story of success. I think one of the things I learned very early on in my career was try not to dazzle people with too much tech chats.
Just keep it simple. Keep it to what they can understand. They don't need to know the nitty-gritty unless they ask for it. Otherwise, people just glaze over a little bit. [chuckles] We've all seen that happen.
Crystal: One of the things I always chat about people, everybody's smart but not everybody can understand what the smart person says. If you ever read the theory of Relativity, it's completely written in plain English. The theory of relativity by Einstein it's about trains. He talks about train goes fast, train goes slow. That's what he talks about and you can understand it and he's super smart, so calm down. [laughs] You can write it in plain English honestly. Yes, I agree with that.
Areej: Any thoughts around how we can potentially forecast some of the initiatives or the projects that we put forward and then we get asked that typical question off, well how many leads is this going to result in? Or what does that mean in revenue? Or if we go ahead and we spend an entire quarter working on this, what is it going to generate? How would we go about doing some of that, forecasting or presenting it back to stakeholders?
Roxana: Can I jump in on this one?
Areej: Yes, go for it.
Roxana: In an ideal world, we'd have tools that will allow us to do a bit of SEO A/B testing and being able to run a small proof of concept to be able to get those numbers and then project them against, if we did the full thing, what would that be? I said ideal because a lot of us don't have those tools or we don't have the knowledge. A lot of these SEO A/B testing tools would require tiny bit of coding because we need to do our own changes.
We wouldn't have development do it for us. When that doesn't exist, the best advice I got, and I actually got it just a few weeks ago from a colleague who reviewed my tickets that I was raising for development and she said, "It's really good, you have a lot of numbers in there and you're tying them to revenue and everything, but you don't own those numbers. You're like, it should be this or it might be this. You're not saying if we do this, we get this." I think that's what I'm going to try to implement more and of course taking that advice on, I looked at other people's tickets and they do that.
They do say, "We make this change, we're going to see this revenue increase. Then if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen and they analyze it and find out why but they take ownership of what they're proposing. That's what I'm going to advise everybody else, take ownership, stop being like, "Oh, it could be this, it could be that." I know it's hard, but you do have experience, trust your gut, a change let's say if you fix a canonicalization issue, it's not going to double your traffic but it could be a 5% improvement based on how many pages were affected.
Don't just say could be say 5% improvement in traffic and that means this much in revenue. Let's do it.
Crystal: I think that you mentioned something there about being realistic, which I think is really important. Understanding the historical trends of your website and understanding the benchmarks for your website, benchmarks for your traffic, the kinds of keywords that you should expect, and understanding what is normal in your market for instance. There's going to be some places where, if you're looking at your competitors and your competitors are seeing a certain level of traffic and you're seeing something that's much lower, then you could see that, that is potentially within reach.
We have this gap, this gap, and this gap and if we close those gaps then we can probably get some of that traffic as well. I think benchmarking both your own performance and also the competitive landscape can be really, really useful in order for you to make those kinds of predictions. If the market that you're going for is a fairly niche market, then you're probably not going to see enormous traffic in one felt swoop from a piece of content optimization.
However, if you do lots of content, let's say if you say, well we get a certain number of visits per blog and we have four blogs [laughs] if we increase that to 40, then we should see a good increase. If we increase that to 400, we should see another increase. You can use some of those benchmarks. I think certainly when I've done PPC analysis and things, you have your cost per acquisition that you get from PPC, and on e-commerce you can also figure out your average conversion rate, your average to average rate of basket, and things like that.
It's trickier with B2B, it's trickier with leads but you can still find some metric that you can hang it on. I think that finding something and understanding your data and the historic arc of your data is really, really useful, including seasonality, seasonality's useful as well.
Paddy: Cool. Thanks, Crystal. We've got one final question which we'll move on to now and probably this is one of my, I don't say favorite ones but it's one of the ones I find quite interesting because firstly it's almost an even split between yes or no. We asked our respondents do Google's formal announcements around algorithm updates and these kind of things influence their planning and their roadmap for SEO?
As you can see, it helps slot it towards yes it does influence people's SEO roadmaps. When Danny Sullivan or John Mueller, whoever it is, comes out with an announcement or an update that's coming soon, yes, it does influence their thinking and their planning. Probably it's just a quick sign. I think John Mueller's got one of the hardest jobs in the world interfacing between googling and yes, the community does it really well but equally it's like, if Google have got their business to run, we've got all of our businesses to run and to work for so there's always that middle ground here.
I guess JJ, I'd be glad to hear from you on, I guess which side of the fence you sit on here, whether you have found in the past that Google do influence your roadmap working in-house or if they don't or if it's like, it depends. The classic SEO answer which has taken about 40 minutes to get to and I'm the first one to say it's so annoyed it myself, but yes, it does depends on which side of the fence do you sit on? Yes, JJ, I'd be glad to hear from you on this.
JJ: Yes, I think I voted here no, it does not change my SEO roadmap. I think it's also in the same earlier discussion that we have the best practices versus what we move the needle. Early on, usually on the year or in the quarter, we do review what are our business goals for the year and that ties up to the SEO goals basically. That hasn't really changed a lot in any case that we do see any formal announcements as long as we know that we're doing the right thing.
I think that there were past experiences where we had to change an SEO roadmap on my previous experience. Around the time around Google Panda and those times were huge. Yes, that really changed the outlook of SEO at that time. There were plenty of questionable SEO tactics that weren't happening during that time. I think that was one of those few cases that I've changed my SEO roadmap but as it's the case right now. I think less become smarter and SEOs has become more focused on doing the right thing. It hasn't changed a lot and it hasn't influenced a lot of my SEO roadmap these days.
Paddy: Cool. Thanks. That's really interesting. I think, yes, that is a great example all around Panda. That's brought back a lot of painful memories when that happens but I guess because that wasn't just an update, that was a big shift in the industry and how we did SEO like you said. I guess I can see how that would definitely change things more where it's like a more regular updates where we don't always know what they're about. It's a bit hard to know exactly what should changed. If anything that's a really good point around the much bigger, almost like seismic shifts that Google do versus the more regular quarterly core updates or the smaller ones, which they don't really tell us what they're about, so it's hard to do anything anyway.
Has anyone got any examples of where I guess the 53% where they have had their either roadmap or their upcoming tasks influenced by Google at all or has anyone got any examples of where-- John Muller said something called-- Danny Sullivan said something you thought, oh, hold on, we should change this thing or slightly change this approach based on what they've said.
Paige: I've never changed an approach, but I have reprioritized a roadmap. I think when the EAT came out and everything was about EAT, we'd already planned to do authorship for this client, but later in the year and we were just, let's prioritize that, let's move things around. You are already planning to do good things. Most of us at this point in the industry's life, we are doing best practice, we're doing good marketing practices, but you might just tweak what you're doing to align with certain things that you might just see that quicker win by reprioritizing if that's Google's focus right now.
You shouldn't really need to have to change your entire strategy because of a Google update in this day and age. Fair enough, hand of penguin, those days are different, but now you might just be slightly reprioritized by one.
Crystal: I think also there's some of those ones because we've said announcements here, formal announcements and I think that some of the things, there's some of those behavioral announcements that they have around the page experience update, around the HTTPS, things around Mobile Getin, which they still haven't finished rolling out. Around those things. Those things, I think I've definitely looked at people, they're saying, okay, the cutoff is here.
For instance, GA4, which isn't exactly SEO, but it's a big deal. They've given us a cutoff, that's something that we have to deal with that in whatever way. We have to deal with that. I think that it's maybe not a hairpin turn, but maybe it's moving in that direction. I think is something that people have done. Certainly, in the case of Wix, when the page experience thing came up, Wix completely redid the performance setup for that so that we could move forward to be improving our performance significantly.
That was something that was-- Throughout the company, there was a whole company-wide initiative to move that forward based on some of the information that we were getting from Google, based on the way things were moving forward. Yes, for some of those announcements, I think that can absolutely be a guiding hand. Things like mobile-first, things like page experience, things like site speed, security, et cetera. I think Kavi is nodding.
Kavi: Yes, and I think this most recent announcement, [laughs], assuming that it goes the way that they say it's going to go is probably going to change some people's roadmaps as well. Especially people who write a lot of definitional content for example, or content that's specifically designed to pretty quickly just answer a question. Obviously, a lot of those content providers are going to have to think about what ChatGPT and BARD means for them.
I can see some roadmaps changing in the near future for those types of content providers especially but in general, I think JJ really nailed it. If you understand, which as modern SEOs we really should. If you understand what the search engines are generally trying to do and generally what they're aiming for, then really your roadmap, at least in the modern age shouldn't be changing so much.
If you have a general sense of what Google aims for and what they prioritize and what types of content, what types of website they tend to rank highly, and what they tend to think looks good in the SRPs, then what's really changing dramatically about your strategy when they make their next announcement about the algorithm change or whatever it is.
Paddy: I guess as well before we start to wrap up as well, one thing you said there, Kavi, which is really interesting, ChatGPT. That goes potentially beyond-- It does go beyond this yet, right? A lot of the tech world is interested in the impact of that. As SEOs, we're scrambling a little bit to think what does it mean? Did it change anything or content writers are thinking about it as well, but I guess sometimes the change will be beyond SEO. That's nothing to do with Google announcing things via John Mueller or Danny Sullivan. Google is a company of rolled out BARD, right? They're not saying to the SEO community, oh, we've rolled out this thing, you should be aware of it.
BARD is potentially a fundamental change to Google itself in terms of their products. I guess trying to figure that out necessarily is even more of a challenge because Google fundamentally changing what they offer, right? I guess final question, I'd love to hear anyone's input on this would be, is anyone worried about that in terms of the bigger picture here around BARD, ChatGPT, what thing they're doing? Is anyone worried about SEO? I guess this could be a wonderful note to finish on about their job security or the security of the industry. Has anyone got any thoughts on that to finish up?
Roxana: SEO is dead. Long live SEO. Every single year, we're just going to evolve into something else. We're still going to call it SEO even if it's not what we did last year.
Kavi: I totally agree with that. I was going to ask, is anyone not worried about that? [laughs] I completely agree with that, Roxana. I've begun to think of myself as more of a website manager and less of an SEO. I think I will become more comfortable with that concept as this type of thing continues to roll out and Google continues to shift into an AI company more than a search engine.
Yes, I think that search engine optimization is going to become less and less and more just an idea of managing your website to roll along with the way that it is presented to customers or to users and presented to robots. Yes, I've tried to morph my thinking into, I manage this website or I manage this web presence and less that I'm an SEO anymore. I think that helps me cope with what's going on.
Crystal: I think that SEO is going to become much more multidisciplinary. I think the last bright SEO I talked about omnichannel SEO and the reason why, is because I think that people search in lots of different ways. We were talking about Google, they're talking about Bing, but I've been using You.com recently, which has a chat feature, has a sort of AI chat and it's pretty good. It's a pretty good search engine. It's a pretty good chat feature.
I think it's ChatGPT powered. Neva is another one. There's a few other ones as well. I think that however, people discover your content, whether it's on Google, whether it's on Bing, whether it's on Neva, whether it's on TikTok or YouTube, or wherever, SEOs need to be there. [laughs] I think that people need to stop thinking that we're optimizing for Google. We're optimizing for user discovery is what we're optimizing for, and the way that users query, look for information is changing. I've been using ChatGPT and it's changing for me. The kinds of questions that I expect to be able to ask are different now.
We need to optimize for user discovery, however that is and I think also SEOs will probably need to lean into a bit more into nurturing communities because with the advent of ChatGPT content that may or may not be verified, [laughs], may or may not be sourced or footnoted. I think people are going to be leaning more into communities where they know there are people that know things. I think that SEOs will need to be speaking more to their community managers, to the people that manage their mailing lists, to make sure that the content is discoverable by those people.
Paige: I think it's a waste of energy to be worried. We as SEOs have evolved in so many ways in the last decade, longer still and we will continue to evolve. I think the actual industry itself has come so far to become a community of collaboration and sharing, that we can only adapt and grow better going forward than we have previously. Don't worry, it'll be fine. We'll just turn into something else like everyone said.
Paddy: I think that's a perfect note to finish in terms of it'll be fine and not to worry. That's a generally good outlook for all of us, especially who work in SEO. We'll wrap things up there. Thank you so much everyone for joining us today to reach off bringing us all together onto this webinar. If you haven't read a report yet, you want to download it, you can click the link at the bottom of the video to do that and take a look at it. Thank you again to all our experts in Women in Tech SEO community for joining us and again, thanks for bringing us together, and thank you for joining us.