Mastering SEO in the Age of AI

February 16, 2024
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Mastering SEO in the Age of AI written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing

 The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Stephan Spencer, an acclaimed SEO expert and founder of net Concepts, an interactive agency specializing in search engine optimization. Stephan is also a bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, and host of two popular podcasts, “Get Yourself […]

Mastering SEO in the Age of AI written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing



The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Stephan Spencer, an acclaimed SEO expert and founder of net Concepts, an interactive agency specializing in search engine optimization. Stephan is also a bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, and host of two popular podcasts, “Get Yourself Optimized” and “Marketing Speak.” With a wealth of experience in the field, In this episode Stephan and I uncover the evolving landscape of SEO in the age of AI, sharing invaluable insights and strategies for success.

Key Takeaways

Embark on a transformative journey with Stephan Spencer as he discusses the intersection of SEO and artificial intelligence. Learn how to leverage AI to optimize your website for search engines and stay ahead of the competition. Discover the importance of adapting traditional SEO tactics to accommodate the advancements in AI technology, from content creation to technical optimization.

Unlock the secrets to mastering SEO in the age of AI, and position your business for sustainable growth and success in the digital realm. Whether you’re a seasoned SEO professional or a business owner looking to enhance your online presence, Stephan’s expertise will guide you towards achieving your goals in the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization in 2024.

 

Questions I ask Stephan Spencer:

[00:58] What are the highlights of the new edition of The Art of SEO?

[04:45] What are some of the core tactics that are still proving effective in 2024?

[07:57] How would generative search impact SEO tactics?

[13:37] What do we need to prepare for and come to expect from voice search?

[15:08] What new updates have come to light concerning local search?

[17:41] What are your favourite AI tools for optimizing content?

[22:10] Where can people connect with you and grab the latest edition of your book?

 

 

More About Stephan Spencer:

 

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn

 

This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Work Better Now

Visit WorkBetterNow.com mention the referral code DTM Podcast and get $150 off for your first 3 months.

 

John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Stephan Spencer. He’s an SEO expert founder of the Interactive Agency, net Concepts and bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, life hacker, podcaster, and contributor to Harvard Business Review and Adweek. He also host his own podcast, in fact, two podcast shows, get Yourself Optimized and Marketing Speak. He’s the author of three books, including one we’re going to talk about today that is now in its fourth edition, the Art of SEO, mastering Search Engine Optimization. So Steven or Stephan, welcome to the show.

Stephan (00:48): Thanks for having me.

John (00:49): I have a brother that spells his name that way, but it’s Stephan, so forgive me if I say it wrong. It

Stephan (00:55): Happens all the time.

John (00:57): I bet it does. So I guess if there’s a need for a fourth edition of a book as big as the art of SEO, it must be that some things keep changing. So what are the highlights? We’ll drill down into them, but what are some of the highlights of this new edition?

Stephan (01:13): Yeah, was so much. I mean, it was pretty much a rewrite from the bottom up. So actually the previous edition, the third edition was a thousand pages, and so we had to cut down quite a lot because the more material in a book, the fewer copies that sell it gets a little bit ridiculous. Who wants to read a thousand page book?

(01:33): So there’s a whole chapter now on AI that wasn’t present in the third edition, and that’s using LLMs generative AI to create everything from keyword strategies and processing your keyword lists into different kinds of use cases, categorizing and grouping keywords together, everything like that to doing the more technical stuff like writing blocks of Etre Lang tags. I’m getting a little geeky here. I don’t want to make this full of acronyms and buzzwords and so forth, but there’s a lot of technical stuff that you can do the heavy lifting using AI now and not have to do it the old fashioned way. So there’s a lot on that. There’s material on things like page speed and core web vitals or three different metrics and core web vitals. That’s a Google innovation that’s coming out of Google. They want you to have a fast loading website, and that relates to what they call their page experience update.

(02:41): So there’s material on that. There’s material on the helpful content update, and that’s actually a series of updates. They want to ensure that people are not creating a huge RAF of content using LMS AI that will fill the internet with a bunch of croft things that are not really that valuable or are not properly fact checked. There’s already lots of issues with AI creating and just making up facts, references, studies and that sort of thing. So if you’re putting out AI material as if it’s handcrafted, you could end up getting by the helpful content updates or by other algorithmic adjustments from Google or a manual penalty even. So you got to keep up with the times.

John (03:28): And there’s a few things you mentioned. Again, I’m getting off of the order of my questioning here that I’ve had prepared, but there’s a few things you mentioned that I’ve seen immediate impact. I mean, we’ve had a couple websites that for whatever reason got really slow. They fell off the core web core vitals threshold and just immediately started seeing results tank when you fix ’em and they come back. So there’s no debating that that’s a ranking factor, is there? So

Stephan (03:59): Maybe let’s, yeah, actually sometimes less is more. So there’s this tactic or this approach in SEO called content pruning, which means you actually take old obsolete content off of your website, or at least no index it, so it’s not part of Google’s search index anymore, and that can actually help your overall website perform better in the search results.

John (04:23): Yeah, we had a 2000 page site that we did just that to 1400 pages and immediately lifted their results. They had a lot of stuff on there that just was probably just not relevant anymore to the reader. So let’s talk about, maybe if we can categorize what are some of the core tactics that are still proving effective in 2024?

Stephan (04:45): So it’s important to understand that the tried and true techniques and tactics of SEO still apply in terms of identifying good keywords, topics that resonate or relate to your audience. So we don’t want to lose track of these tried and true things, optimizing title tags and the body copy and all that sort of stuff, doing proper keyword research, optimizing the technical underpinnings of your website, doing all the configuration of your server and so forth using Yost SEO plugin for WordPress. These sorts of things are still applicable, but now with the advent of ai, we need to find ways to differentiate your website to make it seem like it’s handcrafted, it’s fact checked, it is authoritative and trustworthy. So there’s this acronym from Google Quality Rater Guidelines. It’s EAT, it to be EAT. This is a Google acronym, and it stands for experience expertise, authorit and Trustworthiness.

(06:05): And AI does not have any experience. It cannot write about its experiences, learning how to downhill ski or how to basket weave, or how to, I don’t know, train for an Olympic sport. So that’s where the experience of a human really differentiates. And if you can prove that to an algorithm at Google, that’s going to be very important. So it’s not just about showing your credentials of the different degrees, diplomas that you’ve earned and all that, but actually having the experience displayed in a way that looks super legit. It’s almost like you’re going to look super credible. And this idea of being super credible, I am going to steal a page from Peter Diamandis playbook, and that is that when he announced the xprize, he did not just, and it’s a $10 million purse, so the winning team would get $10 million. Well, guess what? He didn’t have the money. So he announced it without the funding, but he had super credibility because he had on stage with him making the announcement, multiple NASA astronauts and the former deputy director of nasa, it was super credible. Nobody asked him, do you have the money? So for years he didn’t have the money until finally he found the donor, the patron. So if you can show yourself as super credible to an AI and a human visitors and do that in a way that doesn’t look like you’re being bragga, braggadocious, whatever, that’s really the winning formula.

John (07:55): I mean, just from a practical business standpoint, would you say things like case studies of real life, examples of doing the work that you’re describing, or even FAQs, I mean things like that, does that add another level of experience

Stephan (08:08): Potentially? Yep. I would say if you can provide, let’s say a testimonial that’s not just a written testimonial with a person’s first name and the first initial of their last name, but you actually have all their details, their full name, their title, their company, their location. You have a video of them, you have a headshot of them that looks really quite credible, and if you can even better get them to talk about what didn’t work or why they almost didn’t sign up with your service or buy your product, that’s really quite compelling. So anytime that you can augment your and your assumptions with hard data and with real world examples, screenshots, charts, graphs, stuff that helps build your case and substantiate your claims, you’re going to be in much better shape.

John (09:10): You know what I think is always funny is over the years, what you just mentioned, that’s how you are more credible to a potential buyer, even without search. I mean that just comes to your website, sees the data, sees the proof, and it just feels like with every change in SEO or optimization techniques, it’s really just getting it closer to what would be good for a human period,

Stephan (09:34): Right? That’s right, yeah. But on top of that, you have considerations now that you are writing for ais as well as for humans. You’re not going to write primarily for an ai. You’re not going to try and keyword stuff. Your article. I hope that’s been done in the past and it’s never worked well and it won’t work in the future. But if you are keeping in mind a core audience of ais as an audience, reading your quote, reading your article, I think you’re going to end up with a better outcome. So that includes things like how do I interlink these different pages together? How do I lead people on a story arc or a hero’s journey? Because leading the AI through that hero’s journey too.

John (10:22): So you mentioned AI’s reading and playing a part in search, so this might be a good time to ask about the whole concept of generative search and how that’s going to impact probably two things, not only SEO tactics, but certainly search

Stephan (10:38): Behavior. That’s right. If you go to search generative experience, SGE from Google and you start asking it questions, you can get some misinformation from it, just like with any ai, because remember, we have hallucinations. Those are not going to go away in the future. Those issues of it’s essentially an auto complete, it’s an auto complete on steroids, what’s the next word? What’s the next word? What’s the next word? And if it doesn’t have an answer ready and available, we’ll just make it up. So there’s going to be a lot of fact checking and gatekeeping to make sure that wrong information isn’t served up, especially when it relates to financial matters or with medical advice or anything like that. So I personally don’t anticipate search generative experience being the primetime kind of answer engine that people have been touting it to be because of those risks.

(11:37): I mean, think of the liability for Google. If it tells you to take some sort of pharmaceutical and there’s a contraindication or some sort of side effect, lawsuits will abound. So I think that it will be more of an add-on feature for who knows how many months or even years. But I do see it as the future, and we’ll be talking to our computers and our devices more than we’ll be looking at them I think, in the future. So it’ll be like Star Trek computer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And if your website has that future in mind when you’re creating content, then you’re going to be in a much better position. You’re going to lead competitors when they’re just writing for today. You know the Wayne Gretzky quote, skate to where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is at.

John (12:29): And now a word from our sponsor. Work better now. Work better now provides outstanding talent from Latin America, hand matched to your business with over 40 roles across various industries, including marketing. They’re a reliable partner for consistently finding the perfect fit for your business. Simply tell them what you need and they’ll handle the rest hassle-free. We have two work better now, professionals on our team, a marketing assistant and a marketing coordinator, and we’ve been blown away by their abilities, responsiveness, and professionalism. They’ve really become an essential part of our growing team. And to top it off each dedicated and full-time work better now, professional is 2350 per month and there are no contracts to schedule a 15 minute consultation with a work better now rep and see how they’ll support your business growth goals, visit work better now.com. Mention the referral code DTM podcast, and you’re going to get $150 off for your first three months. That’s work better now.com. And don’t forget that DTM podcast code. So you led really right into my next question. We’ve been talking about voice search probably since Syria came around. So where do we stand in voice search? You just talked about talking to our computers more than viewing them. So where do we stand today in that? What do we need to be prepared for? Because again, it’s one of those things I feel like we’ve been talking about for 10 years and

Stephan (13:56): We’re still talking about it. It’s still coming when you have a result that is less than awesome. When you’re asking, for example, your Amazon device, I’m not going to say the word begins with an A and she’s listening right now for it’s wake word and it’s going to start chiming in on this conversation. So that device, when you ask it simple questions that Google would just nail on the first try and it completely gets it a hundred percent wrong or just doesn’t give you any answer whatsoever and say, I don’t know the answer to your question, that’s frustrating. And it makes people just not want to even try this. There will be a tipping point though, where you get much more than just, or a recipe or a timer from your Amazon Echo. And that is the point. That tipping point is where this will completely take off. And if you are not prepared for that, you’re going to be chasing after a train that’s left the station. So plan on this being an eventuality because it is an eventuality. It’s just a matter of the timing.

John (15:06): So talk a little bit about, I know you cover local search, obviously there are a lot of businesses that they’re only trying to people in their town find them. So what are some new realities, if you will, in that kind of business that’s the remodeling contractor that just wants people to find them?

Stephan (15:23): Yeah, there’s been a lot of innovations with local search, and if you’re familiar with that world, there’s this kind of a blending of paid search and local SEO with LSA

(15:40): Local search ads. You’ve got these tools that I just can’t imagine not using them for local SEO, like local Falcon, which will show your physician in Google Maps results, the three pack, the local pack and the Google results. If you are, let’s say even 10 miles away from your current location, your headquarters, your local results could be markedly different. And how are you going to know without VPNs or traveling around town and doing searches from your mobile phone? You need to use a tool like Local Falcon. It’ll show you a grid of whether you’re in the top three positions and what position you’re at, and it’s kind of like a heat map sort of thing and across a whole metro area. So you can see, oh, I’m really strong in this part of town, but not at like I’m invisible in this other part of town.

(16:41): Maybe I need to start up a satellite office by appointment only. Not a sketchy thing like a UPS store location, but a real legit office there. And you don’t have to pay a fortune for that. It might be under a thousand dollars a month for an office that has signage that is really a real office, not a PO box, and that could make a world of difference. And now you’ve got two locations and now you’re really strong in that other part of town that you were invisible for. How are you going to know this and track this without a tool like Local Falcon? So yeah, you need different tools and strategies for local search than just regular SEL.

John (17:27): You said 10 miles. I’ve seen half a mile in a very competitive, like I live salon, a hair salon or something where there’s one on every corner. Really, geographic proximity is tough. You mentioned tools like Local Falcon. What are some AI tools, business people who are trying to optimize their content, create new content, be more efficient in creating content? What are your favorite current tools? I know tomorrow I’ll ask you and it’ll change, but what are they

Stephan (17:55): Today I’m going to start with the tried and true obvious AI tools, and that would be Chat g, pt, and Claude, which I would think I consider to be, it’s it’s big rival or Arch Enemy. Anthropic is the creator of Claude, and Open AI is the creator of Chat, GPT. And some of the folks, some of the top leadership at Open AI left and started Anthropic and created this competing Claude AI tool. And it’s amazing. It’s got a hundred thousand at this point in time, a hundred thousand token limit on input, meaning that you could upload an entire book and have it use that as part of your input. So you could upload, let’s say a manifesto or how you think and operate in the world and your values and philosophy on life and business or whatever for your industry. You have that manifesto, you upload that and you ask Claude or chat GPT questions based on your understanding of my company, my brand from this uploaded manifesto, come up with a voice and tone guideline for me, come up with a social media strategy for me, come up with an editorial calendar for my blog for me, and it will do incredibly well.

(19:19): And that is so much better than just typing in a prompt. I mean, yeah, you get sophisticated with prompts and do your prompt engineering, but why not upload something that’s really representative of your company, your brand, your unique differentiating point of difference, and then you let the AI come up with all sorts of different things, social media posts and draft blog articles and strategy documents and positioning statements and so forth based on its understanding of you from that kind of cornerstone piece of content that you’ve uploaded. So there’s that. There’s using super prompts, which are prompts, the input that you type in. It’s on steroids because everything has been thought through, and you don’t have to think through all these things yourself. You don’t have to come up with like, please ignore all prior prompts. I want it to not be influenced by a whole series of previous questions that I asked.

(20:23): I want it to create, let’s say a table marked down table. So it’s nice pretty formatted table. I want it to not display any kind of narration or explanation around why it’s outputting particular things. Just want the output file of whatever my editorial calendar is that I don’t want to explain. Its thinking as it’s going along. So all these things baked into what’s called a super prompt, which might be 250 words of stuff. If you can paste somebody’s super prompt, whether it’s on creating a keyword strategy or on even creating other super prompts or on writing a blog post or something, you are going to end up with such better output because the old adage from the programmer days of garbage in, garbage out still applies. If you write a lousy prompt, you’ll get lousy output. So that’s the difference maker right there. And you don’t have to go to all the fancy new tools, which may not exist in six months. They might go out of business. So if you’ve got a podcast, you could be using, let’s say, cap show or Cast Magic or decipher without, it’s like decipher without the E at the end. It’s just R without ER. So these tools are awesome, and who knows which ones will exist in six months from now chat, GPT, that’ll exist, Claude will exist, Google Bard will exist. So you get masterful at those. Wow. You’re going to be definitely leapfrogging your competitors.

John (22:05): Yeah. Awesome advice. Well, Stefan, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there somewhere you’d invite people to connect with you, learn about your work? Obviously pick up a copy of the latest edition of The Art

Stephan (22:16): Of sel? Yeah. In fact, if let’s say, if Handful, I’ve got the publisher is O’Reilly, and so I can’t just give away copies of the book, just add infinitum. But I did get permission from my publisher to give away a handful of copies. So if somebody wants to email me@stephanspencer.com and just say they want to kind of put themselves into the lottery for a free art of SEO fourth edition digital copy, I’ll send some of them and actually everyone can get a copy of Google Power Search, which is in its third edition, which I do have a hundred percent of the rights of. So I can send that to everybody who sends an inquiry. My personal website’s, stephan spencer.com and net concepts.com is my agency. And you mentioned at the beginning my two podcast shows Marketing Speak, which you’ve been on, john marketing speak.com, and then get yourself optimized, which is get yourself optimized.com. Not an SEO podcast may sound like one, but it’s actually personal development.

John (23:20): Nice. Awesome.

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