Eli Schwartz, Author of Product-Led SEO, shares his SEO strategy for AI search engines.
We’re facing a wave of big changes in marketing with AI.
It’s especially true in SEO and content.
And nowhere is this more evident than in the world of SEO. With AI becoming an integral part of search engines, it's time to rethink our approach to SEO.
Eli Schwartz, author of Product-Led SEO, puts it perfectly:
"Last year, I would build content around all the top of funnel users that want to explore something. Now, I'm still driving what the search user is, but the search user has changed because they're now more informed. So they're no longer top of funnel. They're going to be midfunnel."
Today, Eli is here to share his SEO strategy in an AI world.
In this Marketing Powerups episode, you'll learn:
- How Eli's approach to SEO has evolved to cater to a more informed, mid-funnel search user.
- The importance of understanding the user's intent in an AI-driven search environment.
- The role of AI in shaping the future of SEO and how to leverage it for your advantage.
- How building a habit of writing accelerated Eli's career, and how it can do the same for yours.
When you're in scale-up mode, and you have KPIs to hit, the pressure is on to deliver demos and signups.
And it's a lot to handle: demand gen, email sequences, revenue ops, and more! That’s where 42/Agency, founded by my friend Kamil Rextin, can help you.
They’re a strategic partner that’s helped B2B SaaS companies like ProfitWell, Teamwork, Sprout Social and Hubdoc build a predictable revenue engine.
If you’re looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing problems at a fraction of the cost of in-house, look no further.
Go to https://www.42agency.com/ to talk to a strategist to learn how you can build a high-efficiency revenue engine now.
⭐️ Eli Schwartz's SEO Strategy for AI
As SEO changes with the rise of AI, Eli Schwartz, the writer of Product-Led SEO, offers new ideas on how to handle these changes. Here are seven key strategies marketers should be using right now.
1. Focus on the mid-funnel user. 🛒
Schwartz highlights the need to focus on the mid-funnel user. He says that AI responses are taking over the top of the funnel for most searches, making content written for early buyers less useful. Instead, marketers should focus on mid-funnel searches that are more likely to lead to clicks and sales.
2. Prioritize revenue reporting from SEO. 💵
With query reporting becoming less useful, Schwartz suggests focusing on revenue from organic search as a key success measure. He believes that in a world without queries, impressions and click-through rates will matter less, making revenue a more accurate measure of SEO success.
3. Use 'People Also Ask' for content creation ideas. 🙋♂️
Schwartz suggests using 'People Also Ask' for content creation ideas rather than relying on keywords from keyword tools. These questions are conversation starters and can help identify mid-funnel ideas.
"I am going to be using a lot more People Also Ask because these are already conversation starters and based on the longer phrasing it will be easier to identify mid-funnel ideas. Use a system to collect People Also Ask related queries to your product or service."
4. Reconsider the role of links in SEO. 🖇️
In a world where search becomes more personal, the idea of domain authority may become less important. Schwartz argues that relevance and topical authority will become more important, and marketers should prioritize cross-link relationships with related sites in a vertical.
"Everything about links and SEO are going to change in a world where search becomes a lot more personal. The often-abused idea of domain authority that had marketers chasing links from authority websites may not be necessary anymore. Look for sites in your 'contextual neighborhood' that might give you a link to your website, and just ask."
5. Align your content with actual buyer personas. 🧍♂️
Schwartz recommends making sure your content aligns with actual buyer personas. If the content doesn't help an actual buyer convert, it may not be worth writing.
"Instead of targeting keywords with the most search volume to hopefully get the maximum amount of clicks, SEO efforts will need to be more deliberate to target the right users with the right keywords. Make sure your content aligns with an actual buyer persona. If you can’t picture how the content might help an actual buyer convert, don’t write it."
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🎉 About Eli Schwartz
Eli Schwartz is an SEO expert and consultant with more than a decade of experience working for leading B2B and B2C companies. Eli’s strategies have generated millions of dollars in revenue for some of the internet’s top websites. He has helped clients like Shutterstock, WordPress, Blue Nile, Quora, and Zendesk execute highly successful global SEO strategies.
As head of SurveyMonkey’s SEO team, Eli oversaw the company’s global operations, helped launch the first Asia-Pacific office, and grew the company’s organic search from just 1 percent of revenue to a key driver of global revenue. Eli’s work has been featured by TechCrunch, Entrepreneur.com, and Y Combinator, and he has given talks at business schools and keynoted conferences around the world.
🕰️ Timestamps and transcript
- [00:00:00] Adapting SEO Strategies for AI
- [00:00:58] Discussion on the Impact of Google's SGE on SEO
- [00:05:49] Google's struggle against Chat GBT to maintain market share
- [00:11:44] Ramli John and Eli Schwartz Discuss Google's Generative Experiences and Its Impact on SEO
- [00:14:30] 42 Agency: A Strategic Partner for Success
- [00:15:16] Ahrefs Free Webmaster Tools
- [00:16:02] The Future of SEO in a Post AI World
- [00:21:49] Adapting SEO Strategies to fit the Shift in Search User Dynamics
- [00:27:45] Discussing User-focused SEO and AI with Eli Schwartz
- [00:29:01] Exploring The Implications of Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines on SEO
- [00:31:18] Strategizing SEO: An Imperative Tactic for Business Success
- [00:35:43] Eli Schwartz on Product-Led SEO and how focusing on revenue can significantly impact your SEO strategy
- [00:37:30] Conversing with Eli Schwartz about SEO and Career Advancement
- [00:41:30] Eli Schwartz Discusses Career Progression, Writing Content and Taking Risks
- [00:45:11] Eli Schwartz on Writing Process, SEO Analogies, and Navigating Company Changes
- [00:50:11] Eli Schwartz Discusses the Importance of SEO in Company Growth
- [00:51:40] Episode wrap-up of Marketing Powerups with Ramli John and Guest Eli Schwartz
[00:00:00] Ramli John: We're facing a wave of big changes in marketing with AI, and nor is this more evident than in the world of SEO AI becoming an integral part of search engines. It's time to rethink our approach to SEO. [00:00:11] Eli Schwartz: Last year, I would build content around all the top of funnel users that want to explore something. Now, I'm still driving what the search user is, but the search user has changed because they're now more informed. So they're no longer top of funnel. They're going to be midfunnel. [00:00:25] Ramli John: In this Marketing Pops episode, you learned, first, how Eli's approach to SEO has evolved. Second, the importance of understanding the user's intent. Third, the role of AI in shaping the future of SEO, and fourth, how building a habit of writing accelerated Eli's career. Now I've created a free Pops cheat sheet that you can download, fill in, and apply Eli's SEO strategy for AI. You can download email@example.com right now or find that link in the show notes in the description. You ready? Let's go. [00:00:50] Eli Schwartz: Marketing powerups. Ready? Go.
[00:00:58] Discussion on the Impact of Google's SGE on SEO
[00:00:58] Eli Schwartz: Here's your host Rambly. [00:01:02] Ramli John: Talk about marketing parts around AI and SEO. You've been writing a lot about it. You're the author of product. Led SEO. I'm sure you have a ton of opinions about it, specifically around Google's SGE, the search generative experience that they came out with. You write a poll on it, on LinkedIn if it's overhyped or underhyped, but I don't think you listed exactly what your thoughts are on it. Maybe not to influence people's opinions on that poll, but what is your thoughts on it? You've already viewed it. It's only been a few weeks that it's been out in the wild, but over, hype, under hype the polls. [00:01:43] Eli Schwartz: Actually, I spent seven years, almost seven years at Server Monkey, so I understand polling more than most, and certainly no polling expert, but I understand polling more than most. It's actually a bad poll. I have to criticize my own poll. It's a bad poll because you don't want to ask a question like, say I was doing market research and I wanted to create another SGE. Want to compete against Google. There's actually nothing to bite into here. What's the word, overhyped or underhyped? Is it the product? Is it the marketing? Is it the impact? Right? So I knew that when I wrote the poll that I was not writing a good poll, but because I wanted to write a poll that would create engagement. So that's why I made it very specific or like, actually too broad, not specific. The way to make a poll, if I was looking for statistical significance and to do product research, would be for your listeners. The poll question was, is Google's generative AI? And then I had two options overhyped, underhyped. The correct statistically significant way to write the poll would have been, is Google's generative AI blank Impact, or Product overhyped or undersold? Or something like more specific. So then I could say oh, there's an opportunity here because most people think the product is weak. So I'll make a better product. But when I just did broad overhyped underhyped, I brought out all the opinions. So some people are voting overhyped because the product sucks. Some people are voting overhyped because the marketing around sucks. Some people are voting overhyped because they expected it to destroy SEO and it didn't. And for those people, just wait, it will destroy SEO. It's been released a very small amount of people. So that is mostly a pull around engagement. My personal opinion came from two weeks ago where I wrote up one of the most viral LinkedIn posts ever, where I wrote that I think most people are underestimating the impact on SEO from Google's SGE. And the reason why is because, as I think I mentioned on our last podcast, so I'm fortunate to live in the Bay Area in Silicon Valley, and all of my neighbors work for tech companies. So nvidia like everything. So, yeah, you don't hear actual secrets, but I hear enough. So I've been hearing from the Googlers who are essentially bragging to me about, oh, this thing is amazing. I can't tell you more about it, but it's just on every query. And I'm like, on every query, like even on shopping queries, and they're like, oh, I can't tell you more. So I started hearing that, and then that's when I started thinking like, wait a second, all the pundits are out there saying it's just going to be like chat GPT. If you write, like, write me a 400 word blog post on statistical significance, it'll do it, but better than chat GBT because it's Google. But then I started thinking, well, what if it is on broad queries? What if it's on single word queries? What if it's on shopping queries? What if it's on navigational queries? Like gmail login that changes everything. So I started again talking to more Googlers, and I even got a sneak peek of it. I convinced a Googler to be like, hey, no one knows if you show it to me, just show it to me. So I saw it, right? So I saw it before it launched. And I think that it's going to destroy SEO because it changes everything. It's like again overnight. Like, imagine you built up your entire Facebook following and you're all in on Facebook, and then Facebook's like, oh, we just changed the algorithm and you're done. It happened to so many people. It happened to Zynga. Or like Twitter. Let's say someone built their entire inbound on Twitter. And then Elon Musk is like, oh, we're breaking the whole thing. There's your inbound. That's what's happening at Google. And I think people don't realize that because they're not using this, not hearing these things, and they're making false assumptions that it's basically chat GBT in a Google experience. And Bing sort of ruined this for everyone because if you tried chat GBT and Bing. Bing ruins a lot of things. If you try Chat, GBT and Bing, it's a bifurcated experience. Like, would you like to converse with the algorithm? Would you like to just do a query? But on Google, it's not, it's like, defaulted to like, here is generative. Like, I just do a query for the city, Miami, and you get a generative response. So if you are Wikipedia, you just lost a lot of traffic. So that's where I think it changed. That's why I think people are underestimating.
[00:05:49] Google's struggle against Chat GBT to maintain market share
[00:05:49] Eli Schwartz: So my question overhyped, underhyped, not a real statistically significant question, just designed to get people to vote, said that most. [00:05:57] Ramli John: Websites traffic will decline by 30% to 50%. Google ad campaigns will see massive decrease in clicks and spends. And you're also suggesting that because of that, google's ad revenue will suffer because of that. And I feel like that's exactly what that is. Google's biggest revenue cash cow right now is their ad business. And they're going to have to figure that out really quickly or else they're killing the cash cow, essentially. [00:06:27] Eli Schwartz: They're not killing the cash cow. So this is the thing, and again, I spent a lot of time with Google things and talking to Googlers and being on, like, spending time on Google products and looking at what they do. So this is the thing about what's happening here. Google had LLMs, and LLMs are not that complicated from an AI standpoint. I have another post coming out of my newsletter. When you do have a self driving car, it produces, I think, a gigabyte of data every second. It takes all the cameras. Let's say a Tesla. You have all those cameras, takes all the cameras. It takes radar and LiDAR, and then takes sensors from the road, like the actual physical things in the road, the cars next to it, all those things. And it makes decisions. An LLM is not within the English language. There's only 600,000 words. So when it's producing content, it's choosing what the next of those 600,000 words are, and happens to be of those 600,000 words, the average person only knows 40 to 60,000 of them. So it's really only using 40 to 60,000 words to make a decision. It's not making a decision about what the sentence will say. It's making a decision about what the next word will be. So you write the word what. It's like, okay, what are all the possibilities of things that will come after the word what? There aren't not that many possibilities. That's what an LLM is. So this is what's happening within search. Now, Google invented this a long time ago. So they said, oh, well, we had this, but they couldn't launch it. The reason they couldn't launch it is because they have a brand, and Chat GBT said some really offensive and weird things. And Google can't say offensive and weird things because it's Google. So they didn't launch LLMs and they didn't really find a way to integrate LLMs into search. Chat GBT launched it, then chat GBT launches. Everyone's like, oh, Google's old technology, they can't do this. So Google had to catch up. So they launched Bard, but it was bad because it made some mistakes in the launch and they lost 10% of their stock price that day. So now Google, they're integrating it properly. Again, not such a difficult thing because they already had it under the hood, so they're putting it into the search experience. But again, if you're not paying attention, this is a five alarm emergency for Google. Chat GBT can take away market share globally from Google. That will cost billions and billions of dollars. That cannot be made up. Look at Bing. Bing has every single advantage going for them, and they cannot conquer market share. Microsoft is on 75% of all computers around the world, so I'm on a PC. 75% of all desktop computers around the world run Microsoft, an insane percentage of them. And I can't do the math because I've never been good at this, but if Google has 90% of 90 plus percent of market share of searches, and Chrome, I think, is 80% of market share of browsers. So within 75% of people that buy a Windows computer, the first thing they do is open up Edge, which is what is now what used to be Microsoft Internet Explorer. They open up Edge, they go to Chrome and they download Chrome, and then they change their default search engine to Google. So Bing has every advantage. You buy a computer, 75% of people buy a computer, and it's running Bing, and they go to Google. So if Google loses market share to Chat GBT, which they're doing not with a lot of people, with some people are saying, I'm not Googling anymore. That doesn't come back. If that doesn't come back, they lose ad revenue because there's just no searches there. So in Google, this is a five alarm emergency. Now, the reason I said that, I think Google is going to lose ad revenue again, based on information I've had with friends and colleagues and neighbors that are Googlers, they ask me questions like, what do you think Google is going to do with ads? I'm like, well, you tell me. You work at the company, so they don't know. So that is my thing of like, well, Google's rushing this thing out. This is another thing. This is total inside information. Hopefully all my friends are not listening to this, and please keep sharing information with me, but this is another thing that people had wrong. But I heard from my inside sources, everyone's like, oh, Google is going to launch their new SGE that they SEO in I O. It's going to be like h two. It's going to be like September, right before the holidays. They'll test it. I heard from my Google friends, they're like, oh, they're launching it next week, and I'm like, oh, that actually makes more sense. So the beta happened two weeks ago. So I knew that they gave me the date. They told me when it was launched. So the beta was launching because Google is desperate. There's a five alarm emergency. This isn't a new product. This isn't like Apple's new VR. We're like, hey, guess what? This is really cool. It'll be in stores around Christmas time. No, if Google waits that long, they could lose market share. So they can't wait. So if you're paying attention, Google's losing market share. They're rushing this thing out. They haven't really figured out ads yet. You add that all up, like, they'll probably lose some ad revenue. So that was that prediction. Again, I didn't write those things saying I guarantee it. This is just like, my sentiment. People are like, oh, you're totally wrong. And I got all these crazy comments and tweets. I'm not an analyst. Like, this is just my opinion, entitled to my opinion, just like everyone else's. [00:11:35] Ramli John: And you're right. I think they had to rush to do this. And because of that, you're saying that their ad revenue is going to get hit.
[00:11:44] Ramli John and Eli Schwartz Discuss Google's Generative Experiences and Its Impact on SEO
[00:11:44] Ramli John: The question now is, like, figuring out how to crack that. And people are talking about, where do you show the ads? Is it right in the responses, or is it somewhere else? And I think once they do figure it out, they probably will figure it out. They need to figure that out, or else they will. [00:12:01] Eli Schwartz: But the timing of the figuring out is not the same timing as this thing launching. Everyone says, oh, they're not going to let anybody in the beta for a long time. Again, the beta already started. I've been in the beta for two weeks, so I'm in the beta. There are no ads within the generative experience. There are ads on top. There are ads underneath it sometimes, or sometimes there's no ads. That's a disruption. So actually, I'm starting to see ads on top of generative, where I didn't see that before, thinking like a big company. I don't know if you ever worked at a big company before, but there's a lot of voices and there's a lot of power in politics. Yeah, SEO power and politics probably stood on the side of generative experiences in the search. Like, oh, no, chachi tea is eating our lunch. We got to launch a generative experience. And then they kick the ad person out of the room, and then the ad person found the other door, and they come in like, oh, no, we got to put ad SEO. Then they start searching, generate down. So we're actually seeing this big company push and pull thing. We're like some analysts from, like, BlackRock's like, hey, I'm doing a little Google searches, and I don't see ads. And then they're like, let's put a gas. So that's what's happening, and that's big company stuff. And also, you can't underestimate Google's ability to totally screw it up because they're a big company or like, they need to go back to the drawing board. Chat GBT did not or OpenAI did not have a lot of employees before they launched this thing, so they just could launch it. And then it gets big and complicated. And then you need sales teams, and then you need strategy meetings and sales kickoffs. You need an event person to manage the sales kickoff. You need a recruiter to do phone screen again. When you're small, you can do a lot of stuff. So Google is this big company. They're trying to launch things, but then someone's going on vacation because it's July and that person's gone, right? So that's big company stuff in OpenAI like, oh, no vacation, no vacation. We're actually taking market share from Google go to yosemite next year. [00:13:50] Ramli John: Yeah, right. And Sam Altman, the CEO of chat GPD, is like, everybody's coming back to the office. Nobody's like, working remote, so they're like, all hands on deck in this AI. [00:13:59] Eli Schwartz: Exactly. So Google may screw this up because they're big. Or this is the other thing. Google may be like, hey, we could deal with a couple of quarters of lower revenue. Let's just see what happens. And I'm coming out of a perspective of marketing and perspective SEO, the company that drives all of your revenue, them messing around just to see what happens, that's scary. What if they're like Google's? Like, oh, what if we do all generative? We'll lose some money, but for the companies that depend on that, they lose everything.
[00:14:30] 42 Agency: A Strategic Partner for Success
[00:14:30] Ramli John: Before I continue, I want to thank the sponsor for this episode, 42 agency. Now when you're in scale up growth mode and you have to hit your KPIs, the pressure is on to deliver demos and sign ups. And it's a lot to handle this. Demand gen, email sequences, rev ops and more. And that's where 42 agency, founded by my good friend Camille Rexton, can help you. They're a strategic partner that's helped b two b SaaS companies like profit, awall teamwork sprout social, and help Doc to build a predictable revenue engine. If you're looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing growth problems today and help you build the foundations for the future, look no further. Visit 40 twoagency.com to talk to a strategist right now to learn how you can build a high efficiency revenue engine.
[00:15:16] Ramli John discusses SEO tools with Eli Schwartz
[00:15:16] Ramli John: Thank you also to the sponsor for this episode. HTFs free webmaster tools. If you want to rank your website higher in search engines, you have to make sure that your website doesn't have any technical SEO issues. Because if you do, that's like trying to run a race with your shoes tied together. That's how you lose. And we don't want that. Luckily, Asia's free webmaster tools can crawl up to 5000 pages to find 140 common technical SEO issues that could be holding your site back from generating valuable traffic. It can also help you find your strongest backlinks, as well as analyze keywords you're ranking for and see keywords search volume and ranking difficulty for each of those keywords. You can sign up for firstname.lastname@example.org webmastertools or find that link in the description and show notes.
[00:16:02] The Future of SEO in a Post AI World
[00:16:02] Ramli John: Well, let's get back to the episode. I think all of these changes big companies have had this knee jerk reaction, especially with tech layoffs was like, let's lay off our SEOs. And you're like, that's super dumb. And you're actually in your newsletter, which I link. Really great newsletter. I'm subscribed. Anybody marker should be checking it out on substac. You suggested that SEO skills, especially strategic ones skills, are even more crucial in this post AI world and it's more in demand. That's a really interesting take. And this is one of your posts on LinkedIn that actually really well because it's this contrarian point of view, what other people are saying, where SEO is dying, SEO is. I'm curious why that is. Why you think SEO skills even more in demand in this new changing landscape for search. [00:17:00] Eli Schwartz: So I'm going to hold two of those truths at the same time. SEO is dying and SEO is more important. SEO 2022 is on its deathbed because the rules have changed almost overnight, or they're changing and some people have not realized that they're changing. So, for example, a big part of SEO in my entire career has been keywords. Keywords are not going to matter as much anymore. So if you're like reporting on keywords, but then Google doesn't give you back keyword data and your traffic doesn't come based on keywords, suddenly your reports are blown up. Links, I don't know how links matter yet, or I don't know if anybody will know how they matter within an SGE world. Because if you look at the sites that get their content stolen from by Google and it's in the SGE response, those are not the top ranked sites. They don't even have the most links. So who knows yet how links matter? Again, I alluded to this earlier. Generative is based on statistics, and it's looking at the likelihood of the next word coming after each word. There's no links in that SEO. I don't know. It's an average almost. So you can have a poor piece of content and a good piece of content. One of them is links, but they both contribute to that average and then it creates new content. So it's not even sourcing a single piece of content. Interesting, what the SGE does is just mention something that might be similar and related, but it's not taking one particular content to develop an answer because statistics. Google is not a medical expert, but it can give really good medical responses because it's looking at the statistics behind it. So it's not saying, oh, this WebMD article convinced me that this is lupus, right? I don't know if you ever watch a show house MD, so google is going to be like, house MD, right? So it's always lupus. It's not that that article convinced it's lupus. It's just like when it looked at all the things, the average came out, it's like, oh, it's lupus, totally. Right? So it's going to be hard to source to anything because it's not sourced from anything. It's sourced from everything. So therefore, how do links matter? So a lot of the traditional SEO skill sets that existed don't exist, will not matter anymore. However, everything changes. Meaning if you still care about search traffic, you still want to develop a strategy to drive that search traffic, you can't just say, well, there went the SEO channel. I'll just let it go. We'll see what happens. Hopefully luck shines on me. Doesn't work like that. You need someone to help you come up with that strategy and to figure out what the new way is. Again, there'll be some new way of reporting. There'll be some new way of creating content. There'll be some new way of doing everything. The old way can't exist the same way. Mechanics. Right? I think that's a good comparison. The old mechanic 20 years ago had a wrench and they dug into stuff. The new mechanic and car mechanic. The new car mechanic is maybe less wrench driven and maybe more software driven. So you're still fixing a car. [00:20:05] Ramli John: Interesting. [00:20:05] Eli Schwartz: You're still putting on brakes, but the brakes may have more technology in them than just, like, manual. Let's just put this in the right place and tight screws. So you still need that layer. It's just what that person does is different. Like, I don't think we'll ever be in a world where you don't have someone that guides this channel and just like, well, SEO is just like the thing that comes in. This month it was like $60 million, and next month it's zero. No, someone has to control that. So I think humans will always exist in the seat the same way. Like, social media is like, oh, but social, it really depends on the people. Like, no, you have social media managers that kind of curate the conversation. So that's why I think this SEO skill set I don't know if we call it SEO skill set, the SEO person, the owner is still very important, but the skill set for short changes. [00:20:55] Ramli John: What I'm hearing is I love that analogy with the car mechanic because things evolve. Like, even how things were done. I'm not sure how doctors were 50 years ago. They had to evolve. Now you need to use computers to log stuff with your CRM. So that really makes sense. You wrote this post about like, okay, so SEOs have to adapt. They have to change in this new world. And people are thinking about, okay, sure, how do we adapt our strategy for this new world? And you wrote, once again, this newsletter post that I'm going to link in the show notes and description of first draft. And I think people are really craving for this because everything's unknown right now. What does that look like? What is SEO strategy in a post AI world look like?
[00:21:49] Adapting SEO Strategies to fit the Shift in Search User Dynamics
[00:21:49] Eli Schwartz: So I want to go back to my book because I predicted this whole thing in my book. I knew it, it was coming. I'm just kidding. So my book, just like your book, they're cousins, they're product led, they're siblings. So my book, Product led SEO, the hypothesis and thesis of my book is that you want to build SEO around a user. And when you understand what the user wants, you create a product around that user. And the way I refer to product in my book, and the way I always refer to product, is not a thing. Like, it has to be a widget for somebody to use it's. Really the asset that I'm creating for SEO, is it a glossary, is it a piece of content, it's product driven. Like there has to be a user for it's not keyword driven of like, I Googled it and I found a keyword there, so therefore I'm going to create content for it. So it's product driven. It's really driven around the user. So in that sense, my approach to SEO doesn't change whatsoever. Maybe last year I would build content around all the top of funnel users that want to explore something. Now I'm still driving and building product a product around what the search user is. But the search user has changed because they're now more informed. So they're no longer top of funnel. They're going to be mid funnel. So as an example, say a travel user, they're looking to go on a vacation to Europe. So they may ask a question, or not even a question. Actually. This is a standard SGE response, which guy, by the way, Google gets wrong. They want to find out what is an eight hour flight from New York. Like, I want to go to Europe, but I want to fly 8 hours, about 8 hours. So Google might give them their response. In the past, the response to that question might have come from a website like the points guy or something like that. And then you read a bunch of stuff and then you've incorporated information, and then you're like, you know what? I think I'm going to go to Italy. I'm going to go to Rome. And then from there you go and do some more queries. I want to find some hotels. I want to find some airbnb. I want to find things to do. I want to see what currency they use and what visas I need. That's the search journey. Now, in this generative world, you start with your first question, which is, I want to fly 8 hours from New York. And the SGE says, well, here's your options. You can go to Rome or you can go to Paris, or you can go to london or something like that. And then Google has given you that answer and then you're like, oh, Rome sounds kind of cool. So then you're like, how many days do I need in Rome? Again, SGE gives you the response. So now you're no longer a top of funnel user. So if you were the points guy or TripAdvisor, those questions and that kind of content has now been answered by the search engine, you can no longer get that search. What you will get is what are the best hotels, what are the locations of those tells? Very specific things that have specific experiences. Now ultimately, these are physical things that need to happen. Like SGE is never going to be your hotel, you need to go to a hotel. SGE is never going to be your plane, it's never going to be the Coliseum in Rome. It's not going to be those things. Someone is still going there. So the tam of people doing those trips and doing those experiences has not changed. What has changed is the top of funnel, which is more tire kickers, more traffic. So maybe TripAdvisor monetizes some ads, maybe the points guy monetizes some ads, those things that all disappears because Google has now gobbled it up or chat GPT or whatever engine. By the way, an LLM world means that there will be more other competitors to Google. So good luck Google. But that's what this means. So now going back to my first job of a strategy and going back to productlet SEO, it's still around a user. Just the user has changed. The user is now more educated, more informed, actually a more specific user. So if you are the Coliseum, for example, selling tickets, so it may be that you got more tire kickers, so you got more people who went to the Coliseum's website and they're like, oh, how much are tickets? Oh, like a billion euros. No, I'm not going to coliseum today. But now people are like, they're already informed. The TripAdvisor has told them because it's part of the journey where SGE has even told them how much the cost is, how much time it is, like how long the lines will be to get in. And they're like, I'm ready to go. So the conversion rate on the Coliseum's website will now jump up because again, the tam doesn't change, the experience changes, the traffic changes. So that's when I say first drop the strategy, focus on the midfamnel user, build the product around the midfunnel user. The other thing I'm advocating for, and again, we don't know. It's all new, right? The cool thing about LLMs and AI is that Google doesn't know either. In the past, I think there may have been some geniuses at Google who could reverse engineer the algorithm and say, this is how a link works, this is domain authority, this is the way it works. You get this and it's going to work out perfectly. Now I actually don't think you could actually say how do links matter? We don't know because it's a neural network, it's training itself. Right. You see the outcome. You don't really know all the inputs because there are millions or at least tens of thousands of inputs that came out with this output. It's much harder to figure out. So what ends up happening is that you need to create content around this user and you need to build around this user. And the closest I can get to an indication of what this user might be is questions like people also ask. So these are actual real questions coming from their users. And that's again, part of my first job of strategy. These are ideas. So it's not around top of funnel keywords. You go to Ahrefs, you go to SEMrush. These are things people are looking for. Roam tickets and Rome Cost and I'm going to build all this content around Europe travel. Right. It's not about that anymore. It's going to be about can I see a question? Can I see the Coliseum? And parthenon in the same day. Right.
[00:27:45] Discussing User-focused SEO and AI with Eli Schwartz
[00:27:45] Eli Schwartz: That is a much more specific and then you write an experience about that and it's more midfunnel interesting. [00:27:52] Ramli John: That makes sense. And you're trying to understand what other related questions people might have about the coliseum. Like when is the busiest time, what is the temperature? If I don't like it hot, when should I go? All this stuff is what you're suggesting is like focus on the user and try to understand related questions they might have about that problem. Is that what I'm hearing? [00:28:20] Eli Schwartz: Exactly. So again, we're still focusing on the user. We're still focusing on not actually it's even better because there's an inability to do this. When I said focus on the user, the opposite of focus on the user was don't spam the engine. Don't focus on the engine. Now you can't, you can't we can spam AI not going to work. Right. So we're still focusing on the user and we're building around an actual user because that's all left. [00:28:45] Ramli John: Right, that makes sense. I like how this yeah, you're focusing on that user and in top of the funnel, SGE or some kind of AI will present and guiding them to the middle bottom of your funnel to really service and create that experience.
[00:29:01] Exploring The Implications of Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines on SEO
[00:29:01] Ramli John: One other part that you mentioned in that newsletter post that you wrote is around the importance, even more so importance of relevance and authority around this. How do you see that fitting into the future? Obviously it's going to be super important, but what are your thoughts of how that will play, of how to build that even more? Are you building experts? Like a person within the company as experts or the company becomes an expert on something? I'm curious what your take is on. [00:29:34] Eli Schwartz: Yeah, I don't really know yet. I think we need more time to understand how this works and who's supposed to do this and what a company will be good at. I think for now, there should be experts within companies that incorporate this information and incorporate this experience so they can channel this back. I'm actually getting a ton of emails, and I like it. Deeper questions about like, hey, what do we do? And it's fascinating to me. So you need someone within a company that can translate like, hey, this is what's happening, this is what we'll do. I think there's so many people that are, again, underestimating what's going to happen. Google is going to launch this thing. It's going to be a public product launch. And Google is going to be like, hey, guess what? SGE is here. Because they want to introduce users. And maybe they'll make you watch a little video like this here. And then companies are going to be like, oh, this is really cool, this new Google. And they're going to send screenshots of Google saying weird, maybe offensive things and all that. Like the stuff people do with chat GBT. And then they're going to see the traffic analytics what happened here. So they're not like looking at both sides of the picture. All those great answers are going to steal lots of traffic. So I know Wikipedia is not for profit, but Wikipedia might care about their traffic. They're about to lose a ton of traffic because a lot of what Wikipedia does can be distilled into quick answers. It's the same way you go to chat GBT and summarize this 1500 word blog post into three bullets. No more reading Wikipedia. You got it, it's coming in SGE. [00:31:09] Ramli John: What do you suggest to people, those companies? It's already happening, especially talking to other SaaS companies or marketers that is in the space.
[00:31:18] Strategizing SEO: An Imperative Tactic for Business Success
[00:31:18] Ramli John: I'm hearing chatter traffic definitely being hit. And what is your suggestion and tips for them? Maybe even taking a look at, sure your traffic went down, but was your qualified traffic even hit at all? Like your sign ups? I'm curious what your advice is for companies that are seeing that hit in traffic. [00:31:40] Eli Schwartz: Yeah, so this is the reason I wrote my book. I think that most companies do not have SEO strategies. From my experience doing SEO for almost two decades, most companies do not have SEO strategies. They had SEO tactics and they have SEO traffic. But there was no real strategy around it. I just talked to a public company and I talked to a PM who's like, she was frustrated that her boss coworker leads SEO, kept telling her stuff to do and it didn't align into anything. I'm like, what's the point of doing that? She's like, I don't know, we just do it and then we move on to the next one. That's not strategic. Again, part of my book is on this. Like, you're building a product SEO, therefore there's all these pieces that build together and they ladder into strategy to who the user is, what you're trying to convert. When you have a product, you measure it, of course. So a lot of companies don't have strategy. They don't know who their user is. They're just like, oh, we found this on SEMrush. These are the ten things that we're going to write this week, and then we're doing an SEO audit. So therefore, we're going to spend like, three months fixing all these errors. But there's no why? There's no like, how do you what's the reason you're going to do all these? And how do they add together into something? So I think most companies, from my experience, do not have SEO strategies. SEO, now they're going to get a big hole blown through their traffic. If they would like to get that traffic back or get any traffic whatsoever, you need a strategy. So you need to say, I would like to reach all 18 to 25 year old college students in this area who are doing this search. How am I going to do that? And that should help inform what you're going to do, like what content you need to create, what are their demands, what do they expect to do, what are they willing to pay, what sort of calls to action? Instead of like, well, I'm going to write a bunch of content. I'm just going to put a blue call to action on it. And that's SEO, right? So it needs to be so much more strategic and holistic. So that's what I would say companies need to do is like, if you'd like your SEO traffic, you do it. And I think it's funny, like, when it comes to SEO, because there's so much mystery around it. And in other channels, there's no mystery. No one doesn't have a page strategy. Not like, oh, so I talked to this agency, and they said we should spend $100,000 a month. So I just cut them a check. What's your message? What are you trying to do? What day you're advertising? What's? Your LTV. What are you bidding on? How are you measuring it? When do you pull the plug? There's a strategy. Same goes with social media. It's not like there are very few companies I know there are some companies that get away with it. They just hand a phone to a gen Z and be like, just stream your mind. Just TikTok, go TikTok. Whatever comes up, just put it out on our corporate feed. It doesn't happen. There's a content roadmap. Of all the things you're going to be doing on social media, who are you reaching? How are you following up with them? That's a strategy. But when it comes to SEO, it's like, I did a report. This is what our content gap is. So that's what we're doing this quarter. So I think this is going to require companies being more strategic, or it's going to require them to I mean, the world will lose the traffic. And I see a huge opportunity. Going back to your question about like, SEO being more important, you need someone to explain this to them and say, this is what happened, this is what we need to do today. Everything is different. So I'm excited about that opportunity. [00:35:11] Ramli John: Super exciting. I think what I'm hearing is like, think beyond SEO and think about the bigger experience and picture and what was one of the things that you mentioned in that newsletter post about how if you're building reports around keywords, you're going to see your reports blow up, like word for word. That was what you said. And you should be thinking about revenue reporting for SEO rather than just keywords is like exactly what you're saying here is exactly what I'm hearing. [00:35:43] Eli Schwartz: Yeah.
[00:35:43] Eli Schwartz on Product-Led SEO and how focusing on revenue can significantly impact your SEO strategy
[00:35:43] Eli Schwartz: And again, for me, not new, right? In my book, I said this, and I always say report on revenue. This is a revenue channel. This is how you should measure it. But nobody did, right? Most companies don't. Most companies like their SEO reporting consists of a dashboard. Even the companies that I consult with and I convince them to do revenue reporting, they are always like, how come our SEMrush report says our traffic is going down? Like, it's not. First of all, we trust Google search console, and second of all, who cares? This is rankings. Like, who cares, but I think your company should report on revenue. If the report not reporting on revenue and they look at their sunrush reports, what they're probably going to find, not specific to SEMrush, but any ranking tool they're going to find. NA just going to say there's no ranking because they're going to be blocked from crawling. Or maybe on a keyword it will say you get this much traffic, but they won't anymore because SGE is going to answer that question. So that reporting doesn't matter. So if every week you're sending a report to the executive team, this is how SEO is doing, someone's going to wake up and say like, I know you're sending these reports about how well we're doing, but revenue just disappeared. So how do you align these two things? So that's what I would say is like, focus on revenue because that's where you should always be focusing on it. It probably will go down depending on what vertical you're in or what kind of site you have. However, that's one truth. [00:37:11] Ramli John: This is a good place to switch gears around career power ups. But before I do, I'm going to tell people again once to sign up for your newsletter. And then you mentioned your book quite a few times, so go get your book product led SEO and exactly what I've here. Focus on the user and then go check out product led SEO.
[00:37:30] Conversing with Eli Schwartz about SEO and Career Advancement
[00:37:30] Ramli John: Let's talk about career power ups. Now, you mentioned you worked at SurveyMonkey. You've advised a ton of companies, including, I believe, Tinder and other companies like, it's super huge public companies. And in your two decades in marketing, I'm curious what's helped you accelerate your career? Like, what's helped you level up as a marketer, as an advisor? Now that's really up to your game. [00:37:57] Eli Schwartz: I'd say that probably the biggest thing that has helped my career and my personal brand. And really everything is writing. And I wrote a book that forced me to do a lot, to really invest in my thought processes and invest in not just rambling like putting words together. And you did the same. It really helps you come up with coherent thoughts that you need to convey to other people. Writing also is a general superpower. I was never really good at writing, but I got much better writing by writing. So by writing I can share things that people may agree or disagree with on LinkedIn or Twitter. And like you mentioned in my newsletter, everyone please subscribe greatly appreciate anybody that does that, but the same idea. So I've coached people, like something I really like doing. Now I'm a consultant. So when I had a full time job, I had people that reported to me and I coached them because that was my job and I enjoyed it and watched them prove their careers and improve their lives, like by having easier time at work, by being more successful. Now I do it more as a consulting thing and I work with a couple of people and I coach them and help them in their careers, but I'm not responsible for them. I miss that part. So the thing I always advocate for is right, like you build your personal brand by putting your opinions out there and being forced to convey them in ways that other people will understand and relate to. That has been the one thing that has worked in my career. I think if I wouldn't write, I wouldn't have any visibility. So when people say, oh, chatchy BT and generative AI is going to replace all writing, I don't think so. Again, I love saying this because I think a lot of people don't understand how LLMs work. It's statistics. So what generative AI does is it writes normal average content. It will not write bad content, it will not write good content. It will only write average content because it has to write statistically average content. Now, the reason that generative AI is not totally boring is because it throws randoms in there. Really, it's interesting. It throws a random. Like, let's say you do like what should come after the word what. And the most likely possible word would be, like should, let's say. But then the word it did might be statistically less. At times it will randomly choose the less statistic word. So now it has what did and then it calculates what comes after what did. And that is how it makes the content more interesting when it's tilted. But it can't write great content because intentionally it would have to accidentally randomly write great content. So that ability to write great content will always exist. And you can write bad content that will always exist too. I would say anybody who wants to do anything to improve their career, write. Like communicate. Maybe you can't write, then create videos, but you have to put your thoughts out there. So that has been the one thing that has driven my career. I got a ton for my book and that was a big effort. But in general, writing has always been something that has helped me. I guest posted on all the search engine blogs and podcasts. Again, that's not writing, but putting opinions and thoughts out there has always been something that worked for me. [00:41:15] Ramli John: I love that. It really is like writing is a way to filter and organize your thoughts. Especially like you're in a field that has a lot of chaos. Like SEO right now, you're able to organize it and structure it in a way I feel like this ties.
[00:41:30] Eli Schwartz Discusses Career Progression, Writing Content and Taking Risks
[00:41:30] Ramli John: And you gave me a preview of exactly like an advice you would give your younger self. And if I recall it's around having an opinion, can you share what advice you would give your younger self? And I feel like it ties nicely with writing as well. [00:41:46] Eli Schwartz: So the biggest regret I have is not moving along faster. Like trying to be more structured in my career. At my first job, actually, I didn't stay there too long. But really not chasing opportunities and not seeing things and just doing them. You look back and you're like, oh, I could have left that job earlier. So when you're sitting in that job, should I leave shine? No, just leave. Just go get it on a job. Should you write that piece of content? Just write the piece of content. [00:42:19] Ramli John: Right? [00:42:20] Eli Schwartz: So that would be the biggest advice. Not overthink those kinds of things. Just do it. I have found some of my best LinkedIn posts or some of my best blog posts took me 15 minutes to write. Because to just put it out there, some of my worst posts took me 4 hours to write. I'm like, this is it. I got to put a ton of effort in there. Like, I proofread it. I paid someone on upwork to proofread it. I'm like, because this is going to be viral. A million people are going to see this. And then you launch it in like crickets. [00:42:48] Ramli John: Oh no. [00:42:50] Eli Schwartz: That would be my best piece of advice to my younger self, is like, just be you. Just like try stuff and then see where it goes and then improve on it and everything's. Iterative not overthink it again. I got stuck at jobs worried about promotions because how am I going to structure this instead of like, just do stuff. Like, my biggest thing ever happened in my career was one of those like, well, I just want to move to Asia. So I just did, right? So I didn't really have a great plan. I did it organized, and I found a job, and then I and ultimately stayed with server monkey was organized, but it wasn't a great plan of like, this is where this thing will go. I think if I would have mapped it out, it would have not happened. It would have been like, that's the dumbest idea. I owned a house. I owned a house. I had two kids, and I was like, oh, I think I throw it all away. Let's go to Asia for two years. Let's do that. So did. And it was like, the best thing ever. So don't let that be my best thing is do more of that. Like, when I was younger, dude, just do it. [00:43:49] Ramli John: That's such a good advice. I was watching this YouTuber Mark Rober give an advice to the graduating class of MIT. And one of his advice was, like, sometimes blind ignorance or optimism around something you don't know does well. If people thought about, should I do this? And you map out all the things you're like, that's too hard. I don't want to do that. And because of that, people are more risk averse because they've kind of calculated out what could go wrong. And because of that, no, I shouldn't do that. Exactly. [00:44:26] Eli Schwartz: I think that comes with agent experience. And that's unfortunate because everyone's always giving advice to their younger self without the age and experience. And when you're younger and older, people tell you stuff. You're like, boomer. You don't know what it's like for people like us. Right? That's the problem. If I look back at my experiences, my best experiences came from not overthinking it. SEO if I were giving advice to my younger self, I'd say, don't overthink it. But as a younger self, I'm like, I better be really strategic about this and think about this as much as possible. So that's the unfortunate part of the whole thing. You got to experience it and learn. [00:45:08] Ramli John: That advice applies so much to writing as well.
[00:45:11] Eli Schwartz on Writing Process, SEO Analogies, and Navigating Company Changes
[00:45:11] Ramli John: Where you mentioned her about, like, your most viral post. You just wrote it in 15 minutes. Do you write with your phone? I'm curious. I had this advice from somebody like, write with your phone because you type how you write, or what's your writing process look like. Curious. Like, for your newsletter or other things. [00:45:30] Eli Schwartz: So I hate this. I don't write. I've met people who wrote like, I met somebody who wrote a best selling a Wall Street journal. Not a New York Times, but a Wall Street Journal best selling book on voice. He's like voice. I just like, in the car. Wrote chapters to Google Docs. [00:45:47] Ramli John: Crazy. [00:45:49] Eli Schwartz: I can't do it because I don't write the way I speak. I actually really need to have a keyboard in front of me so I can't do it on my phone. I can't do it on an iPad I got to write. And I pulled my keyword all over, like, my laptop, the coffee shops to write. So, yes, even those viral posts, I did write them on a keyboard. I wish I could write it on my phone, but that is the process. Again, I like the writing process. The big words and the right way of thinking things doesn't come across when I'm not on a keyboard. [00:46:22] Ramli John: Makes sense. [00:46:24] Eli Schwartz: I had a good one the other day. I wrote that. Laying off your SEO team. I saw that, yes. In the middle of a generational change. In search is like throwing away your steering wheel while you're driving. [00:46:38] Ramli John: While driving? Yeah. [00:46:39] Eli Schwartz: Do you know how long I thought about what the analogy should be? Is it skiing with your eyes closed? Right. Like all of those things. I only came up with that on the keyboard because I wanted that. Actually, I got some comments about that's a good analogy. I wanted the visual. I wanted when you read that, that you thought of the visual. Like, how stupid would that be? Throw away you visualize a steering wheel flying out the window. And that came with a keyboard. I could not do that on my phone. [00:47:06] Ramli John: So for that example, you already have the concept and you just need to think of that analogy. Do you come with a blank page and then with a concept and then just write? Or do you lay out the structure and maybe that's too overthinking it where you're like, here's my points, here's what I'm going to do. And maybe it depends if it's a newsletter or post, if you have more structure. [00:47:29] Eli Schwartz: It depends on the reach of it. Yes, right. SEO. Again, some of these things I'm like, this is really important. I lay it out. This is how I want to open this. I want to close. But that was the idea. I knew I want to have the idea. And that was built off the fact that I get tons of emails from people. I don't know how this I guess maybe I started this by helping people get jobs, but I get at least once a day I get an email from someone that said, hey, I just got laid off. Someone told me that you're the person to reach out to. And I feel so bad because I actually don't know any current jobs that are hiring. I wish I could connect all these people, but now I've got this queue of like 30 people who have all asked me to help refer them. So every time someone says they're hiring, I'm like, here's 30 LinkedIn profiles. So that's where the idea came from. Like, I know we're in this once in generational change, and I see these people that are emailing me, asking me for help, and they're really good. They're like, great experience. They all should be hired immediately. And that's where the idea for the postcase. I'm like, this is crazy. All these companies are letting go of who they need to guide them through it. And then I had to come up with what analogy I just want to say analogy has been the most important thing for me in selling internally, SEO. I think this is a big challenge when it comes to marketers, especially SEO, is they can't convey what they're trying to convey. So they fall back into jargon and trying to sound really smart. They say things like LLM and generative AI and AI, just say AI, and everyone's eyes gloss over instead of really getting into analogy. So the thing that I always use when I'm selling, especially internally, is analogy. So, like, I had a role where this is a consulting role, where the CEO was a huge sports fan and he didn't get SEO. He's like, with the hear of the whole thing and be like, that's great. Okay, no budget done. Get out of the room. So I came up with a sports analogy, which is I showed SEO as an assist. You have assist in hockey or soccer. You have assisted in basketball. So I showed this GIF of like, an assist. It was a basketball assist. We're like, I forget who it was. He got the ball, and then he passed the ball, and then the other person dunked it. And I just had this GIF overplaying on the slide, right? So what we do in SEO is we're building the brand. And I just kept talking over this gift. I scored more budget than I ever I got two employees out of it, right? Like, I scored two full time employees. SEO, the power of analogy is so good because again, when it comes to SEO is like, oh, well, there's rankings. And then they're like, oh, well. So just put more keywords on. Well, you can't actually put more keywords in because then the algorithm downweights it. So what we need to do is we need to get some links or just buy a bunch of links.
[00:50:11] Eli Schwartz Discusses the Importance of SEO in Company Growth
[00:50:11] Eli Schwartz: Well, if we buy two, so then you lose them. But if you like, I'm not going to bore you with the details, but it's an assist. So we really want to get the best arm that's the right word, assistor here, right? [00:50:22] Ramli John: Not as cool. [00:50:23] Eli Schwartz: Give us as much money so we buy the right person that's good at assist. Score more budget. The other analogy I use, this happens to me all the time. Companies are like, oh, we spend $40 million a month on paid marketing. SEO is not really a thing. It doesn't work anymore for us. So then I use an analogy about rented versus bought. So when you're doing paid marketing, you're renting a house. When you're doing SEO, you're buying a house. Yes, you could still get foreclosed on. You could still get meth heads moving next door and destroy the value of your property. But provided all that doesn't happen, you've built equity. So if you do go on vacation, you are still earning no matter what. You can fire your whole SEO team. You still drive SEO traffic. You fire your agency, you fire your paid team. You do not have paid traffic anymore. So a power of analogy I think is really important SEO. When I'm trying to get a point across, I always use analogy. [00:51:17] Ramli John: So good. That's a really good writing. Power up, so to speak. But that was a fun chat with Eli about AI and SEO. You can learn more about Eli and his work by subscribing to his newsletter, productled SEO Subsoc.com. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter and go buy his book, productled SEO. All those links are in the show. Notes and Description thanks to Eli for being on the show.
[00:51:40] Episode wrap-up of Marketing Powerups with Ramli John and Guest Eli Schwartz
[00:51:40] Ramli John: If you enjoyed this episode, you'd love the Marketing Powerups newsletter. Share the actionable takeaways and break down the frameworks of world class marketers. You can go Marketing Powerups.com subscribe and you'll instantly unlock the three best frameworks that top marketers use, hit their KPIs consistently and wow their colleagues. I want to say thank you to you for listening and please like and follow Marketing Powerups on YouTube, Apple, Podcast and Spotify. To feel extra generous, kindly leave a review on Apple Podcast and Spotify and leave a comment on YouTube. Goes a long way in others finding out about marketing products. Thanks to Mary Soldin for creating the artwork and design. And thank you to Fisal KAIGO for editing the intro video. And of course, thank you for listening. That's all for now. Have a powered out date. [00:52:26] Eli Schwartz: Marketing Powerups until the next episode.