How to Navigate the New Era of SEO: Strategies for Understanding Consumer Search Behavior

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How to Navigate the New Era of SEO: Strategies for Understanding Consumer Search Behavior 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 Dale Bertrand, an SEO specialist with over two decades of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and startups globally. Dale has spoken at industry conferences, led corporate training events, and serves as an entrepreneur in residence […]

How to Navigate the New Era of SEO: Strategies for Understanding Consumer Search Behavior 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 Dale Bertrand, an SEO specialist with over two decades of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and startups globally. Dale has spoken at industry conferences, led corporate training events, and serves as an entrepreneur in residence at the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs Organization. Our conversation covers the ever-evolving landscape of SEO and how businesses of all sizes can adapt to the new era of consumer search behavior. From understanding the ‘dark web’ to proven strategies in repurposing content.

 

 

Key Takeaways

In this episode you’ll learn:

  1. The Impact of AI on Search Engines: Discover how artificial intelligence is reshaping search engines and consumer search behavior.
  2. Strategies for SEO Success: Learn actionable strategies to navigate the changing landscape of SEO and stay ahead of the competition.
  3. Understanding Consumer Search Behavior: Gain insights into how consumer search behavior is evolving and what it means for your SEO efforts.
  4.  Crafting Destination Content: Explore the concept of destination content and how it can drive engagement and conversions in the age of AI-powered search.
  5. Future-proofing Your SEO: Get tips on future-proofing your SEO strategies to ensure long-term success in the dynamic world of search engines.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can effectively navigate the new era of SEO and capitalize on emerging opportunities to enhance their online presence and drive growth.

 

Questions I ask Dale Bertrand:

[02:04] Where are we in the rapidly evolving landscape of search engines and search behavior today?

[02:51] How are search engines or tools like Perplexity going to change what masters like Google does?

[04:51] How does this affect the perspective of brands that have spent all that money on traditional SEO?

[07:03] How will the need for Google to adapt affect its cash flow?

[09:10] What are some of the suggested things that people are just going to have to adapt to?

[13:07] As far as backlinks go: talk a little bit about guest blogging versus being a guest on a podcast as a specific tactic.

[21:52] is there anywhere you invite people to to connect with you or find out more about your work?

 

More About Dale Bertrand:

 

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 ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!

 

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(01:02): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Dale Bertrand. He’s been an SEO specialist to Fortune 500 companies and venture backed startups around the world for two decades. His clients include global brands such as Citizen Watch, ExxonMobil and bva. He speaks at industry conferences, leads corporate training events, and serves as an entrepreneur in residence at the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs Organization. So Dale, welcome back to the show.

Dale (01:34): Yeah, well, thank you for having me again.

John (01:36): At least twice you’ve been on the show, I think maybe, and we’ve talked about SEO, the SEO, so last decade, right? Not really, but I want to turn the tables a little bit and talk about search specifically and behavior, consumer behavior when it comes to search, because that is probably driving a great deal of what people are doing in the world of SEO today, or at least it should be informing what they’re doing in the world of SEO today. So where are we in the rapidly evolving landscape of search engines in general and search behavior today?

Dale (02:12): Well, we’re in the middle of a lot of change. So I think anybody who’s really paying attention to what’s going on with Google, with consumer search behavior, things are changing pretty quickly. AI is part of that story. Marketers are just starting to use AI and wrap their heads around how it can be useful for what we’re doing for SEO, and then Google is implementing ai, so generative AI on the search results pages, and that can be scary depending on exactly how Google implements it going forward.

John (02:42): And we’re all for years trained. There’s this little box I go and I type in this little thing and I get a result that Google deems is what I wanted. How are search engines or tools like Perplexity going to change how people view, I mean, I know some people aren’t familiar with it, but essentially it’s more of an AI engine. You go and ask it whatever you want to ask it, and it gives you a lot of different views. There’s no ads around it. I mean, how is that experience, in your view, going to change essentially what the big monster Google does?

Dale (03:16): Yeah, so Perplexity is one of many generative AI search engines. Instead of just showing you a bunch of pages, which I consider a research project, I have to go through them in order to find my answer. It just gives you the answer for a lot of queries. If it’s informational or if you’re asking how many people sit on the Supreme Court, there’s a definitive answer to that, a factual answer that it can give you without sending you to a website. So those types of search engines have a lot of implications when people start using them. You might end up with more zero click searches. So what that means is your customers are searching for your product or service, but they don’t actually click anywhere, including clicking to your website. They’re just getting the answer from the search engine. So that’s going to be a whole new world. What we’re talking about is destination content, which is the type of content that you create for SEO, where basically the searcher needs to go to your website to complete the next stage of their journey. And that looks different for a B2C journey versus a B2B journey. But the point is, you’re not just giving the search engines information that they can pair it back to the searcher without ever sending anybody to your website. So we really need to think about how SEO needs to change.

John (04:32): So you were headed down that path. Let me back you up just a little bit. The traditional SEO method of getting your website or your page on a website to show up in page one of Google was always kind of the gold standard. How is, and what you just described is not that world anymore. So how does that immediately impact brands that have spent years and thousands of dollars of trying to get on page one? How does that change their view of the world?

Dale (05:03): Well, so I’m going to tell you the truth is we don’t know, right? Because we don’t exactly how this is going to play out. Give me the

John (05:07): Answer

Dale (05:08): Down, but we need to be prepared. So we want to feature proof, our SEO. So in the short term, what we want to be looking at is what’s changing on the search results page? When is Google starting to release some of these features? And then also, honestly, even more importantly, we want to pay attention to how are the customers that we are targeting in our market, how are they changing the way they search? That’s really what matters most because what we’re expecting is are consumers going to get used to using chat GBT to find answers, or they’re going to start using perplexity, or maybe Google starts to give them answers so they get used to the zero click searches or getting information directly from the search engine. Also, we expect consumers will figure out that they can type in much longer queries, not just restaurants in Seattle, restaurants in Seattle for a family of four with an infant, and the dad loves spicy food and oh, by the way, the wife is lactose intolerant.

(06:04): That’s a long query. So we want to pay attention to whether customers in our market, and this is all going to be very market specific, are searching for longer queries. Are they using the follow up chat features? So what that is, is you do a query and then you follow up very similar to using a chatbot like chat, GBT. And then the third piece of it is are the consumers that we’re going after, are they starting to use different search engines? So on the B2C side, that could be TikTok, Amazon, YouTube, and on B2B side, that could be maybe they’re searching in LinkedIn or YouTube again, or software SaaS searching like Capterra or something like that. We want to pay attention to that when we really need to change our strategies.

John (06:46): So this is just a wonder question. Google, Google doesn’t make money on search. Google makes money on ads that are placed all around search. How does the need for them to evolve so that people say, heck with this, I’m going over here. How does that need for them to evolve, impact their cash cow?

Dale (07:09): Yeah, Google’s under a lot of pressure is what it comes down to. So they’ve got new competitors and then also new technology. The new technology is the generative AI that they invented, and they have the technology, but it just doesn’t work well enough for them to really launch it the way they would want to. And then what you mentioned is that Google’s more of an advertising business than they are a search business. So they’re not going to change anything if they can’t figure out how to put ads on it full stop. It just doesn’t make any sense. So they’ve got a lot of pressures they feel like they need to change to keep up with competitors. The last thing they’re going to do is let competitors take away their search volume and basically take market share. They want to be the default search engine, just like they are now for most internet searches, no matter what, full stop, that’s the most important thing to them. But they don’t want to change if they don’t have to because it could end up affecting their advertising revenue. So where does that leave us as brands and marketers? Honestly, it leaves us caught in the middle where we don’t know exactly how these forces are going to play out, but it will change the way consumer search and the way Google’s search results work.

John (08:17): Well, and there was a point in time when if I wanted business, I wanted eyeballs, I just spun up a campaign for ads, and that got me those things. Now didn’t necessarily turn ’em into customers, but at least I could buy that awareness or that exposure. How are brands that maybe got lazy doing that now, going to need to respond to create this destination content to actually realize that people are in places where we don’t even see ’em anymore? Places that dark social, I guess what people are calling it, I mean, a lot of people are getting their information in those kind of places where again, it’s unseen. I mean, I guess I’m anticipating a lot of marketers are saying, what do we do? I mean, the world’s coming to head. So what are some of the suggested things that people are just going to have to adapt to?

Dale (09:14): Yeah. Well, I can tell you what I’m doing on my website. That’s the best advice that I can give you. We know that there are fundamentals, like Google is looking for unique content, something called information gain, which is when you are adding content to the web, you’re adding information that wasn’t there before. So in other words, when you’re creating content or service pages or even your website homepage, you’re adding information that hasn’t already been written about. Gone are the dates when you can write me too articles on a topic, and you’re going to rank too, because Google just doesn’t need your content. So what I’m doing on my website is making sure that we’re focusing on our unique perspective on issues and digital marketing strategies, and then also telling our customers stories. We work with clients at my marketing agency, so telling their stories of their brands and marketing campaigns and really getting deep into the founder’s story.

(10:06): And that’s interesting, especially when it’s basically a story that other marketers can learn something from. So we’re definitely doubling down on unique content in that way. And then another thing that we’ve seen when it comes to our initial tests optimizing for generative AI search engine, like the chat TPT is really a lot of what they’re doing is averaging what’s on the web. So I want to make sure that my brand is mentioned in as many places as possible. So I’m actually from my agency spinning up a syndication campaign that we’d done a while back where I’m not just publishing on my website or LinkedIn, but I’m also publishing on many other websites. And John, I’ll hit you up with an article later, but we’re making sure that our brand is seen across the web so that when these generative chat bots like Chatt BT are averaging everything they know about my industry or the service that I provide, they see our name mentioned as many times as possible. So it’s just some of the things that we’re looking at, but that’s how we’re future proofing our SEO.

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(12:14): So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. So one of the things you mentioned that was interesting talking about, and I would welcome anything you want to contribute, Dale, first off to Duct Tape Marketing, but talk to me a little bit about the whole guest blogging. I mean, that was for a lot of people seen as a backlink play, for example. And so talk to me, one of the things I’m really, I’m very bullish on is podcast guesting as opposed to guest posting. It is a form of content. Obviously, a lot of podcasters really want to promote their show, and so they will promote it, they’ll give you back, you still get the same backlinks, but you also probably get more exposure, more content, I think, than kind of the guest blogging, like dumping grounds that exist on a lot of websites. So talk a little bit about that guest blogging versus being a guest on a podcast as a specific tactic.

Dale (13:14): Well, there’s so much there because so much there that you’re talking about guest blogging and then also blogging with video. Like we’re doing it today, make sure that we have the video content and then also repurposing it for articles. So the reason why there’s so much there is because we want to make sure that when we’re doing all of those things and all of the other channels that we’re on one plus one equals three, instead of I’m doing this over here and I’m doing that over there. And really, because everybody knows there’s so many different channels we can be working on as marketers that we’re stretched pretty thin in terms of what we’re doing. So what we’re seeing working for our clients is starting with video. So the conversation we’re having today have an interesting conversation around unique perspectives on a relevant timely issue. And then from there you have video, you have a long form video, you can make short form videos.

(14:03): There’s a number of channels that you can publish on LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, whatever works well for your audience. And then from there, we’re able to do written content. So what I do is I’ll take those videos, cut ’em down into the shorts that are all discreet ideas, and then transcribe those shorts, turn those into social media posts. For my work, it’s usually LinkedIn, but there’s many other channels. And then also create a content brief so that one of the writers on my team can write up the ideas as an article. So now I have a video, I have social media posts and I have an article, and I can take that stuff and build out more social media posts, also do my email marketing, and then I have something for my blog and my website. But that’s all from one video. So that’s what I’m saying. We’re not doing these things as separate efforts. We’re trying to figure out how we do one form of content, like the video we’re doing today, get the ideas out of your head, the unique perspective, the type of ideas that Google’s looking for, and then repurpose that in the right channels. The wrong thing you could do is say, I’m just going to put it everywhere. Well, guess what? Your customers are not everywhere. Figure out where your customers actually are, figure out what type of content that they want, and then repurpose it.

John (15:16): Well, and this might be a brilliant place for me to talk about AI frankly, because I think that what you just described, that’s our approach as well. Video first, always even with clients, we interview them to get, because what we get out of video too, we get tone and style and voice and point of view because they basically talk, they talk and they talk in many cases their brand, if it’s an owner or a CEO of a business. And I quite frankly think with that information, you can train a lot of the gpt in the world to actually now speak and repurpose content in a way that you would do it, or certainly a depth of knowledge about what you’re talking about, case studies, example, clients, all that stuff can be fed now in there, and you’re not just creating the generic content that the world is creating. So to me, that is one of the best uses, most efficient uses of some of the AI tools today.

Dale (16:14): Well, absolutely. I mean, as you know, John, you and I have talked about it. I’ve been pretty deep into AI for the last two years, and I’ve tried a number of different ways of replicating my voice, my ideas, and I’ve worked with some clients and agencies to do the same thing. We’ve had a lot of success replicating the style and voice of content. And where that brings you when you’re using AI is we don’t want to use AI to write content for us. They need to be our ideas. But the way that I’ve been thinking about it lately is when we’re writing, there’s thinking and then there’s writing, and I’ve been exploring other ways to do the thinking. For example, I’m putting a lot more effort into content briefs nowadays and researching and making them as solid as you can imagine, and making sure that they’re infused with my ideas on the topics so that the final piece of content will be unique.

(17:02): And then the writing is something one of my writers can help out with. And my writers are using AI tools to help with all sorts of things, but it’s human written content at the end of the day. But that’s when we’ve been thinking about it. But then there’s another agency that I’m working with, actually, they’re in Europe, and they do a lot of content with subject matter experts and thought leaders where they’ll interview the subject matter expert and write the content. And what we’ve been working on with them is for the first few articles, they interview the subject matter expert, but then we take the results of that interview and then also anything else that person is written, maybe a white paper’s ebook or a book, and then train that into ai. And then going forward when they’re writing articles on behalf of this person, they can consult the ai, basically ask the questions instead of the subject matter expert. And that mostly works, I mean, the tools that just aren’t exactly where I would want them to be nowadays. But that’s the sort of thing. Maybe when GBT five comes out the summer that it’ll work a hundred percent. I don’t know. But we’ve got the infrastructure, it works about 80% at this

John (18:07): Point. Well, and I think that’s a great point because I mean, my belief is I don’t care what you’re doing, it’s only 80% there. You can ask it to write metadata for you. You don’t want an article and you’re still going to have to look at it. So I think a lot of people feel like this is the magic fairy dust and they just don’t have to work. And frankly, with that in mind, the fact that so much garbage content is now going to be out there, what does that do? Or what does that say the bar is now to actually have this destination content you talk about,

Dale (18:43): Well, the bar is high because there’s just so much out there. So really you need to, the mistake that a lot of us made was we were writing informative content. If I’m working for a clinic that might do addiction treatment therapy or something like that, then we’re writing about what is the therapy, what are the different types of therapy, what are the medications, the treatments, the side effects? And it’s like, okay, well, all that stuff has already been written and it’s been written by institutions like the Mayo Clinic that are much more authoritative than you are Corner clinic. So we just need to dump that whole attitude and instead think, well, what makes my brand or me unique? What is our unique perspective? We might be the only clinic in this neighborhood in Boston, and we treat the types of folks that live in that neighborhood, whatever that means.

(19:30): And we were writing about that or we’re telling customer stories, like I said before, what problem did they have? How did they try to solve it before? How did we help them solve it? But it doesn’t sound like a case study, but the point is making it useful. And what Google’s looking at is engagement with the content that you create. So if you create content that people actually click on and they go to your page, then that’s engagement. People stay on the site and they don’t bounce back to Google to click on something else. That’s engagement. If they dive deeper into your site to learn more or eventually buy something that’s engagement. So what matters is it’s unique, so it gets in Google in the first place, but then that people engage with it. So Google will keep ranking it and keep sending traffic to it. So it has to be useful. And the last thing I’ll say about this, sorry, I’m going on my idea train here, but the last, it has to be useful in the way you’ll know how to create actually helpful, useful content for your customers is to talk to your customers.

(20:24): We’re not hiding behind keyword research tools anymore or analytics. Have real conversations with real customers, understand what they’re searching for, the problems they have, the questions that they ask when they’re making a decision around your type of product or service, but talk to them, figure it out. And then you can put something on the web that is unique. Nobody else has done it, and it’s super valuable to customer.

John (20:48): Yeah, I’ve been saying for a number of years now, content’s not a tactic. It’s the voice of your strategy. And that when I hear you describe, that’s exactly what it is. It’s like, here’s how we intend to compete and that’s what we’re going to write about.

Dale (21:00): Absolutely. So just to riff on it a little bit more, you’re going to have to slow me down, but just to riff on it there, what’s going to happen is brands that are personality driven are going to end up doing better. Or maybe if you’re able to build a community around your brand, whatever that looks like online or in real life, or if you’re able, because I’ve worked with a number of brands that tapped into a tribe that already exists, fire department coffee, it started by a firefighter who’s also a Navy veteran. So he’s able to tap into those networks to show Google that he’s gaining traction and all of that. And there are also some brands that are aligned with a purpose where it’s like a mission driven brand, and Google can also see that traction and engagement. So those are the types of brands that I expect to do well going forward.

John (21:47): Yeah. Awesome. Well, Dale, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. So you want to invite, is there anywhere you invite people to connect with you or find out more about your work?

Dale (21:56): Yeah, check out my website, fire and spark.com. I’ll spelled out and you can hit me up on LinkedIn or my email Dale, DAL e@fireandspark.com. So feel free to shoot me an email. I love SEO and SEO questions, so always happy to talk.

John (22:10): Awesome. Well great catching up with you again, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

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