Don’t Overlook the Most Powerful Tool in Marketing: Keywords

Keywords are the foundation for digital marketing.

They provide in-depth marketing data of searcher intent, word associations, and buying factors.

  • So why is this important tool so overlooked?
  • And why is Google slowly taking keyword data away?

Many believe that AI will replace the need for traditional keyword research, but that may be a short-sighted view of the purpose of keywords.   Keywords provide insight into the searcher’s mind and allow us to find critical insights such as intent, questions, and surrounding context.

More than just for rankings, keywords provide a broad range of marketing intelligence that can be used in developing a content calendar for inbound marketing, content marketing, and content development.  Even social media conversations benefit from applying keyword and search trends to the plan.

In one experience, we were able to spot a keyword trend, which was then applied to the direct mail marketing for a client.  By matching their direct mail campaign to the search trends, they dramatically increased their market share and sales.

Nearly all marketing endeavors can be improved by applying keyword research. So why it is so overlooked?

Show Notes

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[00:00:00] Ashley Schweigert: So, that’s like using common sense when you’re developing content.

[00:00:07] Matt Bailey: Yes.

[00:00:07] Ashley Schweigert: You’re developing copy. Like, you know, when we’re, when we’re writing copy, when we’re talking to people, when there’s a structure to a sentence, there is a flow to a paragraph, um, introduction versus conclusion. That’s how you want to think about that when you’re using “best” or those other types of terms. It really gets in the common sense and how you would naturally talk to somebody.

And that’s why Google kept saying natural use of keywords versus keyword stuffing is where I think SEOs were going. Right? They were like, “Oh, well, they, they’re referring to keyword stuffing. Don’t keyword stuff.”

[00:00:40] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:00:40] Ashley Schweigert: Not necessarily, right? So, that’s how you do want to step back and just look at, “Is this, am I meeting the common sense needed for this copy?”

[00:00:55] Bumper Intro-Outro: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture, and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and thanks for joining.

[00:01:27] Matt Bailey: Hello, listener and welcome to the Endless Coffee Cup podcast. I want to thank you so much for listening to us. I’ve been amazed over the past few months of just how much listenership has been increased. And so, if you’re sharing the podcast, if you’re telling others about it, really thank you so much. You’ve been doing a lot to help us grow and I’m looking forward to delivering some more great content in the future. And, uh, as part of that, Ashley’s back with us today. How are you doing, Ashley?

[00:01:58] Ashley Schweigert: I’m great. I’m so excited about this topic.

[00:02:00] Matt Bailey: Well, I can tell. You emailed me about an idea and, just to see where I was, and I think I emailed you back in about 10 seconds saying, “I love it.”

[00:02:10] Ashley Schweigert: You did.

[00:02:11] Matt Bailey: I love it.

[00:02:11] Ashley Schweigert: Well, you know what got me started with that is that you posted one of our older podcasts on SEO and I wanted to listen to it because I remember I was talking about, uh, something with keywords and I thought it would be good to send to a client. And I heard your enthusiasm when we were talking about it. I want to say it was that, uh, podcast, I can’t remember if it was that one or the AdWords one, but, um, yeah, I wanted to talk about this because there’s just so much that’s going on with keywords.

[00:02:40] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. I, I love keywords. And, and even now, when I’m teaching, uh, any form of digital marketing, whether it’s SEO, paid search, even social content marketing, keywords and keyword research are a foundational part of the training.

[00:02:58] Ashley Schweigert: I agree.

[00:02:58] Matt Bailey: Because you, I’ll make this statement. If you’re going to do any amount of digital marketing, I don’t care what channel or what format it is, you have to have an incredible depth of understanding about the keywords in your industry that you’re trying to target. Absolutely.

[00:03:18] Ashley Schweigert: You have to understand search intent. It’s not just about, um, you know, how many times have you gone into a company, and they have search terms in mind and you find out that that’s not really how their audience is searching or they, it’s not, it’s not really appropriate for that product, even. Um, so like understanding the intent behind why someone would even use that term and if that even makes sense is really important.

[00:03:43] Matt Bailey: Well, and, and today is significant because just a few days ago, Google started blocking, uh, the ability to see keywords in your paid search account.

[00:03:54] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:03:54] Matt Bailey: Some are saying 20%, some are saying almost 30% of the keywords people were searching on are now being hidden and advertisers can’t see those keywords that are generating clicks or views of their ads. Uh, and so, I…

[00:04:11] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. But you know…

[00:04:12] Matt Bailey: Wow. What timing.

[00:04:13] Ashley Schweigert: I know, I know. I mean, yes, that, that sucks, but, but, you know, I’m always going into the, uh, keyword planner anyways. Um, you know, I mean, you do want to see what’s bringing up ads so you can optimize your ads. Um, but I think that you could still get an idea of what people are searching for by using that keyword planner. It’s free and they haven’t made…

[00:04:33] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:04:33] Ashley Schweigert: …any like really a lot of changes on that, so.

[00:04:36] Matt Bailey: I, I think my beef with this is, so I was running a campaign for someone, and it’s the negative keywords, that’s where I look at those keywords that are driving visits to the, you know, through the paid search campaign. And you can always find certain words that people have searched on that resulted in a click.

[00:04:59] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:04:59] Matt Bailey: But when you look at that word, “Ooh, you know what? There, there’s a word there that, that we should not have shown up for that word.” And so, now I have to take that word and add it into my negative keywords. Well, I can’t see those now. I can’t screen that out, but Google still thinks it’s relevant because I can see other, you know, all the words that I’ve had to add to negative keywords.

If they take that away, now I’m extremely limited in being able to curate the words and also say, “I don’t want these words.” But that’s one thing, as an advertiser, you can’t always know is what the negative words are going in. It’s, it’s something you almost have to learn during the campaign.

[00:05:42] Ashley Schweigert: Gotcha. It’s such a good point about those negative search terms. That honestly makes me think, “Was this done on purpose, so we’d spend more money?”

[00:05:48] Matt Bailey: I think anything Google does is, is, has the intent of making more money.

[00:05:52] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:05:53] Matt Bailey: It, I mean, just bet on it. That’s, this is the company that tested 10,000 shades of blue for the, for the link in a paid ad…

[00:06:01] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

[00:06:02] Matt Bailey: …to see which one would result in more clicks. So, I think any change that, they went from two headlines to three headlines. Why? I, it results in more clicks. So, any move, any major shift is done with design to increase revenue. I mean, that’s, that’s 80% of Alphabet’s revenue.

[00:06:19] Ashley Schweigert: Right. So, they have a business, too. So, so you do have to be careful for those who are listening and are getting calls by Google reps.

[00:06:27] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:06:27] Ashley Schweigert: They don’t necessarily, “Oh, you should share your story.”

[00:06:30] Matt Bailey: I’ve gotten a few, yeah.

[00:06:31] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. I mean, they don’t necessarily know, uh, I mean, you’ll get some good ones. I mean, I have gotten some good ones, but, um, they typically don’t know as much as, you know, myself or, you know, someone else who’s at an organization working on ads.

[00:06:43] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely. No. They, they know enough I think for the small, medium sized business owner or the single person shop, uh, they might know a little more than them, but I think anyone who’s been in paid search for more than a few years and has had training, they’ve got more knowledge than your average Google rep.

[00:07:04] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. And that’s why you really want to be careful following their advice. I know one time I got advice to run, you know, dynamic search ads and it really didn’t make sense for how this site was even being set up. Um, you know, ’cause as you know, with AdWords you look at your, um, website structure and if that makes sense, so this really didn’t make any sense. But you’ll even see like some of the same suggestions that the ad rep is calling to give you in um, those recommendations. Right?

[00:07:29] Matt Bailey: Oh yeah.

[00:07:30] Ashley Schweigert: So, then that optimization score.

[00:07:31] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:07:32] Ashley Schweigert: So, don’t get suckered into that either. Um…

[00:07:34] Matt Bailey: That optimization score is such a…

[00:07:36] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, it’s a pain.

[00:07:37] Matt Bailey: Well, yeah. I mean, I had one recommendation that I can get more impressions if I open up my ads onto the network. No, ’cause I know what will happen. And, and at that point I told them, you know, “Thank you. I appreciate your time.”

[00:07:48] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:07:49] Matt Bailey: “You know, obviously you’re trying to get more money out of it and you’ve got a script you’re following and those are,” but the thing is, anyone who’s been in this business knows if I’m going out on the network, that’s more impressions, it’s less click-throughs, it’s going to drop my CTR.

[00:08:05] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:08:06] Matt Bailey: You’ve, you’ve seen it enough, but now I have a Google rep telling me to do this. So, immediately I, it makes you very cynical about the process.

[00:08:15] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, and they’ll actually put into those recommendations keywords that you should add, and they’re not really looking at the ad group and how you have that structured. I have a friend that was just taking the recommendations and one day, so she was just asking me some, some advice. And, um, so she, she was talking about how she’s just been, “Yeah. I love those recommendations. They’re great. I just been accepting all of them.”

[00:08:38] Matt Bailey: Oh no.

[00:08:39] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah. And she said, “But I just, I’m running out of budget. I don’t know if this is good.” And she’s, like, her, you know what? I, you know what? I love her because she just went for it and just figured it out and, I mean, she is like a sponge. So, when we were talking, it’s like, “Oh, you really want to get rid of those lower quality keywords.” Oh, she had probably 900 keywords in this. Oh, it was bad. And not the budget to support it, either.

[00:09:07] Matt Bailey: This is physically painful to hear.

[00:09:09] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, I know it is. I know it is.

[00:09:10] Matt Bailey: I’m in mental anguish.

[00:09:12] Ashley Schweigert: I know, and I shouldn’t even be laughing, but it was funny.

[00:09:14] Matt Bailey: This is, I am sitting here sweating just, “Oh no.”

[00:09:15] Ashley Schweigert: It was, well because, you know, the thing is how many times have you been handed an account and you’ve seen something very similar.

[00:09:20] Matt Bailey: Oh yeah. Yeah.

[00:09:20] Ashley Schweigert: Right? Where you could tell that, you know, they were just learning, or they didn’t really know and then there’s all these keywords in one ad group.

[00:09:27] Matt Bailey: Or an agency set it up and just threw a hundred keywords in it…

[00:09:29] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:09:29] Matt Bailey: …and one, one ad group, one ad.

[00:09:31] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:09:31] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:09:31] Ashley Schweigert: They didn’t care. They’re like, “Whatever.” Um, if they, if they’ve been on it, they’ve been on it. If they don’t, they don’t, versus thinking that you want to, you know, be smart about how those dollars are being allocated daily. And, and that’s how you want to be very targeted. I know this isn’t about, you know, AdWords, but we are talking about keywords. So, whenever you’re grouping your ad groups and you’re putting those keywords within those different ad groups, they need to be as specific as possible.

[00:09:57] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:10:00] Ashley Schweigert: And I know that, you know, that’s not what Google does when they’re giving you those recommendations, per se. Um, you can even be bidding against yourself ’cause some of those keywords might be in other ad groups. So, then you’re, um, wasting even more of that budget. So, why spend money twice, right, for the…?

[00:10:14] Matt Bailey: Well, you’re bringing up a good point that these keywords are being recommended in the “optimizer,” as I’m doing air quotes. Now, where are those keywords coming from? Where are these suggestions coming from? And, and you’re, you brought this up. AI. If this…

[00:10:30] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, yes.

[00:10:30] Matt Bailey: …if this is how…

[00:10:32] Ashley Schweigert: This, well, how this all came up.

[00:10:34] Matt Bailey: If the recommended keywords are coming from Google’s AI, I’m not impressed.

[00:10:37] Ashley Schweigert: No. Well, and that’s the thing, it’s still like a little finicky. It’s uh, it’s buggy.

[00:10:42] Matt Bailey: Finicky?

[00:10:42] Ashley Schweigert: I know, I, well, I know I’m being like, I’m being nice. Well, because, you know, the thing is there’s an algorithm that’s just, well, there’s a couple algorithms now that have AI…

[00:10:50] Matt Bailey: Yes.

[00:10:51] Ashley Schweigert: …um, you know, weaved into it. And, you know, artificial intelligence, it’s looking at the meaning behind the search. So, it is looking at search intent, but it’s actually kind of annoying for myself because once Google started doing that, I was having a hard time finding things and just doing a organic search, you know, for something on a white paper that…

[00:11:10] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:11:10] Ashley Schweigert: …I was writing.

[00:11:11] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:11:11] Ashley Schweigert: And I would go to Bing as a result because I was finding stuff a lot faster, um, ’cause I, I could just, like, depend on my keywords, right? But they’re looking at, “Why are they look, like, using this keyword?” And they’re actually guessing based off of your search history and what you’re doing if you can’t find something. So, it takes a lot longer to find what it is that you’re looking for. So, it is buggy. Um, I mean over time, I know that, you know, Google’s hoping that that changes, but, um, you know, I think relying on tools that utilize artificial intelligence is a mistake right now ’cause it’s still in development.

[00:11:46] Matt Bailey: Well, and part of it is the recommended keywords that I’m seeing, I’ve already excluded, because they’re not the product I’m selling. They’re related, but they are very different. And the nuance is being missed. It, it’s, it’s like Google wants you to use a big club where I’m seeing search, paid search, as a surgical knife. That I have a specific niche of the market with a product, and these are the people I’m trying to appeal to. And so, I’m trying to carve out just this group of people that this appeals to, but Google is handing me this big club going, “Oh, you can reach everybody with this.” And I, “No. No. I don’t want to.”

[00:12:32] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:12:32] Matt Bailey: Because I see what happens when I do that.

[00:12:35] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:12:35] Matt Bailey: My click through rate goes down, my quality score goes down as well. I, you, you know, and, and I spend more money and get less results. And so, I’m, I’m not interested in being handed that club and that AI seems to carry that, that mentality of, of this brute force, “We’re going to handle this industry.” But it goes back. I even see this in business listings on Google My Business or…

[00:13:03] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:13:04] Matt Bailey: …Google Local, whatever you want to call it, especially where we are, big manufacturing area and lots of little manufacturers who do very niche specific work. And you try to use the business categories that are set up. Doesn’t always fit.

[00:13:22] Ashley Schweigert: No.

[00:13:22] Matt Bailey: And there’s a few manufacturers in the area where I feel like we’re constantly fighting because Google will automatically slot them into a business category…

[00:13:34] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:13:34] Matt Bailey: …that is incorrect. And we have to keep going back in and changing, and then a couple, like a month later, we’ll get an email, “Did you mean to do this?” “No, I didn’t mean to do that.” And, and so, it, it’s funny. Google is a search engine that added on business services, and it replaced the Yellow Pages, which seemed to have an understanding of niche target manufacturing areas, and, and that’s how they would describe it. And Google’s had to learn that, but a lot of it I feel like, you know, these are software engineers and they’re trying to come up with categories that catch everything, but they don’t.

[00:14:15] Ashley Schweigert: I also think that just the way that they run business isn’t good because I don’t think that, um, you know, when you call to speak to a Google Ads rep, right? Like, you can get through for advertising, but not for like Google My Business or, you know, anything like that it takes a lot longer. You have to wait for them to respond, and, um, I think that they’re trying to be as disconnected as possible so you can rely on their help center, um, you know, find that article, and it’s just, you’re not going to find an article that answers every freaking question.

[00:14:49] Matt Bailey: Well, and now they’re diverting a lot to Partners.

[00:14:52] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:14:52] Matt Bailey: People that are, you know, official Google representatives or ads agencies. And so, a lot of that’s being diverted off, and now encouraging you to work with another agency, you know, rather than go direct. And so, that, that’s, yeah. And, and you know, some of the licensing, some of the certification that goes along with that sometimes I think is more technical. It, it focuses more your, your technical ability as an agency to do things, but not the marketing knowledge, know-how, experience, uh…

[00:15:27] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:15:27] Matt Bailey: …and, and so, it, now you have to figure out what kind of agency you want to work with, and, and if they’re able to handle what you want to do. But I, I’m not sure that, you know, from the big picture that AI is not ready for prime time.

[00:15:41] Ashley Schweigert: No.

[00:15:41] Matt Bailey: I, I see that in categorization, I see that in recommendations, uh, and so, for now, you know, when it comes to just SEO…

[00:15:51] Ashley Schweigert: Yes.

[00:15:51] Matt Bailey: I don’t think we can rely on S-, uh, we can rely on AI. It’s still learning, it’s still in its infancy. But I look back to, well, the last time Google took away keywords, uh, 2011.

[00:16:07] Ashley Schweigert: Oh geez.

[00:16:07] Matt Bailey: 2011, uh, Google took away organic search keywords. Uh, anything that was done in SSL disappeared overnight. No more, and now you get the, “Not Provided.” Well, that, I mean, to me, that was, that was criminal because from an agency standpoint, I, for all of our clients, we could look at, I, you know, I could tell you the conversion rate difference between a singular and a plural. Between the word used with one other word and the effect that had on the visit and the conversion rate and the word used in this phrase. We were breaking down intent into very mathematical approaches for our clients, because we could see that keyword data.

[00:16:57] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:16:57] Matt Bailey: And there’s a massive amount of difference between someone who searches for singular and plural.

[00:17:02] Ashley Schweigert: Yes, there is.

[00:17:03] Matt Bailey: And, but then take away keywords. But in Google Keyword Planner, singular and plural is the same thing. And then you start seeing concepts, full concepts being merged into the same thing. So now, as an optimizer, as a marketer, I somehow have to forget all of that and deal with the subject rather than knowing if people find me for the plural…

[00:17:32] Ashley Schweigert: I know.

[00:17:32] Matt Bailey: …I got a 10% conversion rate. So, you, you know, and we, it was a mathematical process that if I know I get 10,000 people to this site, I know I’m going to get, you, you know, 800 sales and this is how much it’s worth. And that keyword is gold, and we’ll also bid on it. You know, to me, it made me want to spend more and do more to take advantage of that when you would find those pockets, when you would find those, uh, we just called them keyword gold when you discovered that. And now that’s gone and now this seems to be going away, as well.

[00:18:07] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, it’s just, I think it’s the people’s approach to it. It’s, I don’t know. I mean, you should never remove keywords from your SEO or from your SEM strategy, period.

[00:18:19] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely not.

[00:18:20] Ashley Schweigert: And unfortunately, I have been hearing some arguments from people about how, and it’s kind…

[00:18:28] Matt Bailey: You’re always tuned into the arguments. I love it.

[00:18:29] Ashley Schweigert: I, you know what? I am.

[00:18:30] Matt Bailey: You, you’re bringing me the news of what, what the industry is saying.

[00:18:33] Ashley Schweigert: I, you know, I, well, because it’s interesting to me. Well, I love to talk about this stuff. So, I’ll talk it to other people within the community, or like, I’ll just hear other things on forums or whatever, but it’s, ’cause of artificial intelligence, people are thinking that, “Well, now we don’t have to worry about being very specific with our keywords.”

[00:18:55] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:18:55] Ashley Schweigert: “It could be more,” so now you’re getting into just writing a bunch of copy for a web page. So, I’m thinking about that example that you were talking about in one of our previous podcasts about how you had a client that was just writing a lot of copy, but she was ranking for stuff, and she didn’t realize it. Even though she was ranking for that because she’s a fabulous writer, that doesn’t change the fact that she needs to be strategic with her content if she wants to rank for more of those, like, moneymaking type terms…

[00:19:27] Matt Bailey: Oh yeah.

[00:19:28] Ashley Schweigert: …and phrases.

[00:19:29] Matt Bailey: Well, and that’s the thing. Yeah, she, because she was just a great writer and she used headlines, subheadings, you, you know, all the structure she utilized. To her, it just made sense to do it.

[00:19:41] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:19:41] Matt Bailey: So, all I had to do was give her a five minute, “Hey, here’s how to SEO.” And, and all of a sudden, then it went from great to amazing because now she’s incorporating that. And, but she already understood it was, I don’t know. You know, I just think some people are just great writers. They’re able to intuitively figure that out…

[00:20:00] Ashley Schweigert: Yes.

[00:20:05] Matt Bailey: …with markup, with content, and that helps. Majority of people are not like that.

[00:20:12] Ashley Schweigert: No, no, they’re not. And that’s why I’m really kind of astounded to hear this argument come back up. It’s almost when people were saying when content marketing was coming out and it was like, “Oh, you don’t need to, SEO, it’s dead. It’s not around. You don’t even need to look at it.”

[00:20:26] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:20:26] Ashley Schweigert: “Just write a bunch of stuff.” And then it started popping back up, uh, and so, I think it’s interesting going to different conferences that are big into, uh…

[00:20:35] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:20:35] Ashley Schweigert: …content marketing. And now, all of a sudden, you’ll see breakout sessions on Google Analytics and SEO. “Oh, and so now you see, see it’s important, right?” Um, but the thing is, it’s not going to go anywhere. Keywords are still important, you still have to put a stra-, it’s almost like our conversation last week, or whenever that was about the, the funnel.

[00:20:54] Matt Bailey: Yep.

[00:20:55] Ashley Schweigert: When we were talking about at the end of the day, you have a process, and it goes into your funnel. The, the funnel may change like size, you know, shapes, sizes, whatever, but you still have a process. You have a sales cycle. So, you still need to evaluate that. Um, so it’s almost like this. You still have a strategy that you have to put together with your digital marketing. So, you need to make sure that you do evaluate how people are using the web.

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[00:22:05] Matt Bailey: I saw a study, it was a couple of months ago. I’ll have to find out who did it, but they were saying that more than 50% of content marketing is never engaged with. To which I, like, “Yeah,” because…

[00:22:22] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, and how is it done?

[00:22:23] Matt Bailey: Because…

[00:22:23] Ashley Schweigert: That’s what I want to say.

[00:22:24] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:22:24] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:22:24] Matt Bailey: Because the, the SEO community for years has been saying, “Content, content, content,” and from conferences, people, “Oh, you got to write content.” And every time I hear that I cringe…

[00:22:35] Ashley Schweigert: I know.

[00:22:35] Matt Bailey: …because I, I think of someone years ago…

[00:22:37] Ashley Schweigert: What, what is content? Let’s talk about content. Yeah.

[00:22:38] Matt Bailey: …yeah. Someone years ago, they heard someone say, “Well, you’ve got to write a lot of content.” And, and they said, “Oh no, please can we have good content? Not just content. Can we have good content?”

[00:22:49] Ashley Schweigert: Strategic placement of content.

[00:22:51] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:22:51] Ashley Schweigert: Like, can we have that?

[00:22:51] Matt Bailey: And that’s what keywords help you to do. I mean, when I had the agency, we would get a new client, and we would spend almost a week on keyword research. And it wasn’t just keyword research. It was, “Okay. Now that we have the keywords, how do we slice and dice and view the keywords in different ways?”

And a lot of that was because people learn differently. Some are more visual, some are more tangible, that the more I work with the words and see them in order and change it around, I’m going to make connections. And that’s what we would do. It wasn’t just, “Let’s get a list of the top 1,000 keywords.”

[00:23:26] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:23:27] Matt Bailey: It was, “Let’s group them into categories. Okay. Now, let’s look at consistent phrases being used with a word,” and we would call it the pivot word. Now, usually it was a core keyword, but of that pivot word, what words typically come before that word?

[00:23:44] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:23:44] Matt Bailey: What words typically come after that word? And we would create like this matrix based on demand and you would all of a sudden start seeing these phrases come together, and it would give you an understanding, especially if you had a, 1,000 or 10,000 page website. Well, now I have hundreds of phrases that I’ve developed a matrix from, that when I have to create a page title for this page, I can look at this, pull the relevant phrases, pop it in…

[00:24:14] Ashley Schweigert: That’s nice.

[00:24:15] Matt Bailey: …and it made it so much easier. But also at the same time, you know, we’re looking at Google Trends, we’re looking at other measurements, and we’re putting together connections with calendar events, with holidays, with, uh, their own calendar for their business. We’re looking at analytics and getting what I called a three-dimensional view of keywords. It would guide us in how to optimize pages. It would guide us in creating a content calendar. It would guide us then in what questions are people are asking and what content would be valuable to them.

[00:24:51] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:24:52] Matt Bailey: And how do we present that content? Do we present it in an article? “Oh, 500, 1,000 word article. Oh, think they’ll love those.”

[00:25:02] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. Don’t forget about that right now.

[00:25:03] Matt Bailey: You know, or, “Do we do it in a video? Do we did in a, in a graphic? Do we, how do we present it?” So, all of that keyword research wasn’t just to find what’s the most popular keyword, which is I think what a lot of people view keyword research as. “What am I, what’s most popular keyword?” Rather than digging in and understanding the breadth of the keyword industry for that particular application.

[00:25:27] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. I think too, it’s like you have, I want to say it’s HubSpot, but, you know, the, the keyword clusters, so they, they are grouping those keywords and they’re looking at that content and trying to help, uh, people to think strategically about it. But the thing is, this is stuff that’s not new.

[00:25:43] Matt Bailey: Right. No.

[00:25:43] Ashley Schweigert: It’s really not. It’s actually been around for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s just that the SEO community has, uh, consisted of maybe more like technical people that couldn’t really, you know, speak up and talk about like this other side when it comes to content. I think that’s what’s been really happening. I know you and I spoke that when you’re in SEO, you need to be able to sell. You need to be…

[00:26:07] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:26:07] Ashley Schweigert: …you have to have other types of skills. You can’t just sit behind a computer, write or, you know, create a sitemap or whatever. You have to be, you have to have a lot of other skills. And I think that’s what’s happened is that SEO used to be a lot more technical, right? And then you get into the content piece, but the content piece was harder to fight. Um, especially when you have more of these like introverted type computer people, right?

[00:26:34] Matt Bailey: What?

[00:26:34] Ashley Schweigert: I, I know. I hate to say it…

[00:26:35] Matt Bailey: In this industry?

[00:26:36] Ashley Schweigert: …but I’m going to go into the stereotypes.

[00:26:37] Matt Bailey: What? What?

[00:26:37] Ashley Schweigert: Right, right, right. But then you get HubSpot that comes along and they’re all about the content and inbound marketing, which inbound marketing does involve SEO. So, they’re, they’re bringing things up that people are like, “Oh wow. That’s so cool. That’s new.” No, it’s really not new. It’s actually always been out there. So, that’s why, if you, you have to look at your content strategically and it starts with your foundation, which are keywords, which makes up a paragraph, right?

[00:27:03] Matt Bailey: Well, no one’s reading paragraphs anymore. So, there’s…

[00:27:06] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:27:07] Matt Bailey: You know, and to your point, it’s not just the writing of the content. It’s the arrangement of the content.

[00:27:11] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:27:12] Matt Bailey: How well do you understand HTML and markup in creating a page that can be scanned. I think, I think the last measurement was on a 1,000 word page, people might actually read 18% of it. And then the retention rate after 2 minutes is almost nothing.

[00:27:34] Ashley Schweigert: I, I’m that person, I’m a skimmer.

[00:27:36] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:27:36] Ashley Schweigert: I don’t really read the page. I’m always in a hurry.

[00:27:38] Matt Bailey: Yeah. So, yeah.

[00:27:39] Ashley Schweigert: So, I’m going through it and um, I mean, I’m not even going to lie to you. I’ll start from the bottom sometimes in order to figure it out. I know ’cause I’m like, I’m looking for terms, though.

[00:27:47] Matt Bailey: But if I put the right keywords in the headline, subheadings bolded in the bullet points…

[00:27:52] Ashley Schweigert: You got me. I’m there.

[00:27:52] Matt Bailey: …now I’ve reinforced what this page is about…

[00:27:54] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:27:54] Matt Bailey: …and the 18% that you will retain, uh, it’s going to be the keywords, but also what’s so critical and what I’m so surprised that people don’t understand is the concept of progression. That you’ve come to this page, it’s optimized, I’m making it so even if you’re skimming, you’re seeing my keywords, but I haven’t developed the page with progression in mind.

And by that, I mean, what’s the next step? If I answered your question, what’s the next logical step? Do you need more information about this? And so, over here I’m linking to related articles. Do you need to compare something?

[00:28:34] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:28:34] Matt Bailey: And now I have, you, you know, because that’s a mid-funnel research type activity, so now I’m giving you a tool to compare pricing or compare features. Or are you ready to convert and buy? Now I’m offering you, so, I think a lot of times people develop these pages for search, get people to the page, but then forget this, the concept of progression, of moving through the funnel, of moving…

[00:29:00] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:29:00] Matt Bailey: …to that next stage. And how do I invite you at the conclusion or in the middle of the article to, to move to that next stage?

[00:29:08] Ashley Schweigert: That’s why I like to look at content as developing a relationship.

[00:29:13] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:29:13] Ashley Schweigert: It’s relationship building. You’re having a conversation with somebody, it’s just on a different platform and you’re not talking to them per se, right?

[00:29:22] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:29:23] Ashley Schweigert: Not with your voice, at least.

[00:29:24] Matt Bailey: Well, it might, and, and this is where integration into your larger website and understanding progression, I think, here’s a great example. So, uh, a number of years ago, I, my hobby, ’cause I need to get away from the computer once in a while, I, I was re-, rebuilding a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle.

[00:29:47] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, wow.

[00:29:48] Matt Bailey: Love that car. Love, I, I don’t know why I sold it. Well, I do. I…

[00:29:51] Ashley Schweigert: I didn’t know you were that handy with cars. I should’ve let…

[00:29:53] Matt Bailey: Oh, I’m not.

[00:29:53] Ashley Schweigert: I, oh.

[00:29:54] Matt Bailey: I’m not at all. Oh no.

[00:29:55] Ashley Schweigert: I was going to say, yeah. I should’ve let you, uh, look at my tire that day.

[00:30:00] Matt Bailey: I’m not handy at all. I bought it because I wanted to learn.

[00:30:03] Ashley Schweigert: Oh.

[00:30:03] Matt Bailey: Because…

[00:30:04] Ashley Schweigert: Oh wow.

[00:30:05] Matt Bailey: I was, no.

[00:30:05] Ashley Schweigert: That is ambitious.

[00:30:06] Matt Bailey: Oh, my dad, when I was young, my dad was always, “You got to learn how to do this, and…”

[00:30:11] Ashley Schweigert: Oh wow.

[00:30:11] Matt Bailey: You know, and I’m standing in the garage looking out the window…

[00:30:14] Ashley Schweigert: I know.

[00:30:15] Matt Bailey: And my brother was learning. I was not. So, I, I wanted a car. I, I wanted, I, I love Volkswagen Beetles. So, I did a lot of work to this thing, but then it ended up sitting for a year or two, just, I was busy.

[00:30:27] Ashley Schweigert: That’s hilarious.

[00:30:28] Matt Bailey: Um, now, driving through town and my brakes went out.

[00:30:35] Ashley Schweigert: Oh my gosh.

[00:30:35] Matt Bailey: Yeah. I could, I’m slamming on the brake, nothing’s happening.

[00:30:38] Ashley Schweigert: I, I guess it’s good I didn’t have you look at my car.

[00:30:40] Matt Bailey: There’s, yeah, exactly. Yeah. There’s people stopped ahead of me, and so, now, fortunately, I kind of kept my head, I downshifted and…

[00:30:48] Ashley Schweigert: Oh my gosh.

[00:30:49] Matt Bailey: …popped it. And then I did the Flintstone where I…

[00:30:52] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:30:52] Matt Bailey: …I opened…

[00:30:52] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:30:52] Matt Bailey: …up the door and put my foot out…

[00:30:53] Ashley Schweigert: Yep. You got to do what you got to do.

[00:30:54] Matt Bailey: …and then I had to push it off to the side, uh, and then call my wife, uh, “Come pick me up, bring the trailer…”

[00:31:01] Ashley Schweigert: Oh my gosh.

[00:31:01] Matt Bailey: “…because,” you know, and she’s laughing about it. Well, and, and I get underneath the car and the problem is this little thing in my whole brake system just popped. And I look it up, and it’s a $3 part. $3. I go to the websites that I normally buy stuff from, they’re all out of stock. So, I can’t even get it replaced, I can’t do anything. 2 hours later after visiting another one of these websites, I get an email, “Brake systems on sale.”

[00:31:35] Ashley Schweigert: Oh my gosh.

[00:31:35] Matt Bailey: “20% discount on brake systems,” and I’m looking at this going, “Wow, that is cool. That’s amazing,” because I did a search for a brake part that was not in stock, which triggered an email for an entire brake system. And that was set up as a rule within their system for any of their customers. And, and I talked to them later about, the funny thing is I sold them the system that did that.

[00:32:08] Ashley Schweigert: That’s so funny.

[00:32:10] Matt Bailey: And, and so, yes, and then, you know, and, and we worked on developing these rules and now it’s happening to me and I’m laughing. I’m going, “That’s, um, that’s wonderful.” Because now I go talk to my wife and I say, “Hey, look, you know how the brakes went out? You know the safest thing would be to replace the entire brake system.”

[00:32:27] Ashley Schweigert: Oh no.

[00:32:28] Matt Bailey: You know, now we’re talking to, from a, a $3 part to a $500, uh, you know, complete overhaul. But that, to me, that is an understanding of keywords. That even though I searched for this very specific product part, the keywords knows, “That’s a brake part. Let’s send a brake offer.”

[00:32:49] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:32:49] Matt Bailey: And so, the system was, and, and it’s just rules. It’s not AI, it’s just rules, but it’s effective because now when you understand your audience, when you understand what they’re trying to do and what the intent is, do you want to fix that part that broke for $3, or you want to change the whole system and ensure safety for you and your family?

[00:33:08] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah.

[00:33:09] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Oh yeah, I’ll take safety.

[00:33:11] Ashley Schweigert: I’d say it’s a no-brainer. Right.

[00:33:11] Matt Bailey: Yeah, all the time. Yeah, oh, let me write that check. But that takes an understanding of keywords. And a lot of people bought this system, but they had problems setting up the rules to make it work right because they didn’t understand the keyword progression, they didn’t understand their own users and how what one search would lead to another product sale because what’s the intent? The intent is, “Fix my brakes.” Well, it’s just how you’re going to fix them.

[00:33:43] Ashley Schweigert: I know. I mean, I will say, I feel for the marketer that’s in that situation because I have been in this, and you’ve been in that situation where you’re trying to talk to the stakeholders about like, “Hey, you know, we really, I don’t think these are the right terms. I, I think that we need to do some research here and just kind of figure it out because,” and you can eventually see that within the data, right? Like you may start with terms that you have just a hunch that this isn’t right.

[00:34:09] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:34:09] Ashley Schweigert: From what you’re hearing and what you know. And you’re like…

[00:34:11] Matt Bailey: Yep.

[00:34:11] Ashley Schweigert: “…You know what? There’s no use in arguing with anybody. We’re going, we’ll just start on, let’s just start on.” And then you notice that you’re not getting, you know, that, those clicks, right? Um, or you’re getting the clicks and nobody’s converting because the terms don’t make, they might look, again, like, “Oh, what is this?” But there, it’s not really fitting their need, right? So, it’s kind of misleading.

[00:34:35] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:34:36] Ashley Schweigert: So, you know, really looking at that, right, and evaluating it. And I’m, I have been in that situation multiple times where you try to get that buy-in, ’cause, you know, sometimes like doing that research takes a little bit more work, right? And you have to work with, you know, the sale, we were talking about the sales team during our last podcast, and they are your subject matter experts. They deal with the customer on a daily basis. You do want to talk to them and understand the customer more as a marketer when you’re setting these things up.

[00:35:05] Matt Bailey: Yeah. What I don’t run into much anymore is the jargon issue. Uh, that used to be very, very consistent that…

[00:35:12] Ashley Schweigert: It depends on the industry.

[00:35:13] Matt Bailey: But…

[00:35:14] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:35:14] Matt Bailey: …yeah. And especially, like I said, around here, it’s manufacturing jargon is huge.

[00:35:18] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:35:19] Matt Bailey: Uh, that, yeah, they’ll call it one thing, but people are searching for another. And so, I don’t run into that as much, but once in a while you, you, you see that and it’s like, “Oh no.”

[00:35:28] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, I was actually running into that last year, but, um, when COVID hit, yeah. A lot of people, their priorities with, um, you know, their, their marketing dollars went a little different, but, but yeah, I was seeing that a little bit last year. But you are right. It wasn’t as prominent as it used to be.

[00:35:45] Matt Bailey: Yep. So, yeah, the latest Google updates, I think BERT, Hummingbird, and some of these are more AI oriented in trying to, I, I know BERT, it, it’s trying to associate synonyms or phrases. Uh, one phrase that I, I, I always use as an example, uh, is, is skinning a cat.

[00:36:11] Ashley Schweigert: Oh gosh.

[00:36:11] Matt Bailey: That there’s a literal interpretation…

[00:36:13] Ashley Schweigert: You know I hate that phrase. I am like queen of the cat ladies.

[00:36:17] Matt Bailey: So, I have to tell you, I was in France speaking at a conference and there were 3 of us Americans speaking there. And one of the other presenters loved to use euphemisms. We, and, and, and he joked about it, but we would sit and count how many he would make.

The problem is you’re speaking in France and euphemisms aren’t, they don’t translate well, many people don’t understand what you’re saying. And in middle of a marketing talk, he just, he presents something, “And this is what we learn, because there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” And immediately…

[00:36:59] Ashley Schweigert: Gosh.

[00:36:59] Matt Bailey: …I look over to the translator because they had tran-, booths…

[00:37:02] Ashley Schweigert: Uh huh.

[00:37:03] Matt Bailey: …with professional translators, and she looks up with big eyes like, “Whoa, okay, I’ve got to translate that.” And then I’m just, I’m, you know, I’m sitting there just smiling, looking around, I’m waiting for the translation to hit the people with the headphones on…

[00:37:16] Ashley Schweigert: Uh huh.

[00:37:17] Matt Bailey: …and they start looking at each other, like, “What does killing cats have to do with this?” And, and so, that’s, I think, like…

[00:37:25] Ashley Schweigert: It’s an awesome example.

[00:37:26] Matt Bailey: That’s what BERT’s trying to figure out.

[00:37:28] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:37:28] Matt Bailey: That, are we killing cats? Are we, you, you know, or is this an expression and what does it mean? So, a lot of AI is trying to work through those things. Now, I think the purpose is much, much bigger than just search…

[00:37:44] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah.

[00:37:44] Matt Bailey: …for those kinds of things.

[00:37:45] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:37:46] Matt Bailey: There, there’s great application with that. Uh, but at the same time, you, you know, and I’ve seen some examples where it has gotten better for those types of searches over the years, that there are just phrases or words in a particular order or context that means something unique to a certain group of people…

[00:38:04] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:38:05] Matt Bailey: …and they don’t translate well. Anyone to see it wouldn’t understand it. Uh, now does that absolve you of the responsibility to write a good page of copy?

[00:38:15] Ashley Schweigert: Exactly.

[00:38:15] Matt Bailey: Absolutely not.

[00:38:17] Ashley Schweigert: Well, and this is the thing. It’s, I love AI if it’s, um, being leveraged within some, you know, keyword research tool, right? Because that’s just going to help you and to group those keywords potentially, I mean…

[00:38:29] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:38:30] Ashley Schweigert: …you never know. ‘Cause we were just talking about how it’s a little finicky or whatever term you want to use. Uh, you know, it’s, it’s not totally there yet, but I think having it in software is great to help, to help you do your job better. But you don’t want to remove your foundation of your house, or your house is going to crumble.

[00:38:47] Matt Bailey: Well, and, and people use the example that, you know, if you’re talking about, uh, what? Quarterback, coach, sideline, stadium, what else? Fullback, running back, you’re talking about football, but you’re not using the word football.

[00:39:06] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:39:06] Matt Bailey: And to which I kind of respond, “Why wouldn’t you use the word football?” It, it’s natural that, you, you know, you will use other terms to support your main term, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the main term at all.

[00:39:18] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:39:18] Matt Bailey: Yes, you need context to build around it. The problem is, is when you get SEOs involved and it’s, “American football is a football game that’s played on a football field and in the game of football there,” you know…

[00:39:32] Ashley Schweigert: I know, it’s going to be very literal, yeah. Right.

[00:39:33] Matt Bailey: …when an SEO gets ahold of it. Yeah. We’re jamming that word in anywhere. Um, no, you do rely on synonyms, context, you know, additional words, but you still need that foundation…

[00:39:42] Ashley Schweigert: Yes.

[00:39:43] Matt Bailey: …and you can’t neglect. And, and now I think the pendulum is swinging the other way. That first it was, you know, use the word as many times as you can, and, and there were, yeah, best practices has always said use it in context. Well, now it seems to be swinging over where people are saying, “You don’t have to use the word at all.”

[00:40:00] Ashley Schweigert: Now, and my thing is…

[00:40:00] Matt Bailey: And, and it’s a strong an, argument.

[00:40:01] Ashley Schweigert: …use some common sense, right?

[00:40:03] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:40:03] Ashley Schweigert: Like, um, it’s almost like, I’m thinking of those terms that, you know, “School near me,” or something, that those terms you may not necessarily use verbatim in your copy. Now, that is where I could see, “Oh, okay.” So, you’re not going to use that verbatim, but you may use a mix of that.

[00:40:20] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:40:20] Ashley Schweigert: You could still show up for that term. Absolutely. Um, but that doesn’t mean you disregard the other stuff.

[00:40:27] Matt Bailey: Well, here’s something that’s come up. And in one of my training classes, I was showing just Google searches and how it works, and we use the term “best.” And, and actually what I searched for was, uh, webcam, webcams. And what came up in the results, “best” was used consistently in the top results. So, the class started questioning, “Well, why is ‘best’ showing up?”

And I said, and I was trying to explain, “Well, I’m doing a general search of webcam, a mountable webcam, or remote webcam, or, or webcam for meetings.” And I, and I said, “That’s a general search. And so, consider the buying mentality, the intent, I’m looking at the broad market of webcams and I want to see what’s available. So, the word ‘best’ is most likely going to attract my attention because it’s comparing different models.”

[00:41:25] Ashley Schweigert: Absolutely.

[00:41:26] Matt Bailey: But what the class was starting to, “Well, can we use the word ‘best’ in our copy? Can we use the word ‘best’ on our website? Can we, how do we optimize to show up here?” And then I start, I had to explain to them that, “Well, if you’re doing a comparison, then yes, you can say, I’m con-, what are the best webcams of 2020?”

[00:41:47] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:41:47] Matt Bailey: “Uh, where are the best webcams that’ll make you look amazing? Uh, if you’re comparing, if you’re analyzing, but to use the word ‘best’ on your website without supporting information such as awards, recognition, uh, reviews, let that, let those reviews or recognitions do the speaking, but if you’re going to use the word ‘best,’ be very, very careful. Uh, Google doesn’t like that. And, and, nor do other people.”

[00:42:15] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:42:15] Matt Bailey: So, it’s, there’s a specific nuance to, to these things.

[00:42:19] Ashley Schweigert: So, it’s like using common sense when you’re developing content.

[00:42:23] Matt Bailey: Yes.

[00:42:23] Ashley Schweigert: You’re developing copy. Like, you know, when we’re, when we’re writing copy, when we’re talking to people, when there’s a structure to a sentence, there is a flow to a paragraph, um, introduction versus conclusion. That’s how you want to think about that when you’re using “best” or those other types of terms. It really gets in the common sense and how you would naturally talk to somebody.

And that’s why Google kept saying natural use of keywords versus keyword stuffing is where I think SEOs were going. Right? They were like, “Oh, well, they, they’re referring to keyword stuffing. Don’t keyword stuff.”

[00:42:56] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:42:57] Ashley Schweigert: Not necessarily, right? So, that’s how you do want to step back and just look at, “Is this, am I meeting the common sense needed for this copy?”

[00:43:09] Matt Bailey: Well, and it’s interesting. So, I, I sat in on a storytelling workshop today.

[00:43:13] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, I’m jealous.

[00:43:15] Matt Bailey: Um, oh it’s, oh, well, good friend of mine, he was teaching it and I brought him in on a session.

[00:43:19] Ashley Schweigert: Oh.

[00:43:19] Matt Bailey: And so, yeah, I’ve heard it a number of times, but I’m still fascinated because so much of it has to do with making a good presentation.

[00:43:27] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah.

[00:43:28] Matt Bailey: And he’s, he’s distilled it down, uh, into what he calls PhD, picture, headline, description. That you need to create a mental picture, or if you’re writing, you’re, you’re, you can use a picture, but you still want to develop that in your writing. You want to have a clear headline…

[00:43:45] Ashley Schweigert: Right.

[00:43:45] Matt Bailey: …a statement that grabs someone’s attention, a metaphor that expresses emotion or empathy, and then a description or detail that will support what you’ve said. And I’m explaining to the class, this is exactly what we do in SEO. Picture, headline, description. It’s social media. Picture, headline, description. It, that, you apply that in so many different areas, and that’s a key to good content is telling a good story.

And what he did when working with people through their stories, they would make a first attempt. He would refine that with them, but he would also hear in that first attempt certain words that they would use, and then he would coach them to, “Now let’s take what you did in 2 minutes, let’s bring it down into 40 seconds. And I want you to talk about that and that, and use that word. And this phrase was key. Now, retell it in this way.” And so, then they would reformulate their story using those words, but then they would say other words, sort of the second, third time through…

[00:44:50] Ashley Schweigert: Okay.

[00:44:51] Matt Bailey: …that would really clarify it. And yeah, I think that’s, you know, that’s why we have a glut of content online right now. People are just throwing words out there. Some are trying to tell a story, which is great. Some are refining it 3 or 4 times, and as they refine it, they find, “Oh wait, this word, this phrase, now I’m making a connection. I, I’m providing some empathy. I’m, I’m clarifying a metaphor.”

And in doing so, you, you create better words. You are truly working to understand your audience and the problem they have and, “How can I solve it or at least put them on the right path?” And, and so, yeah, I, I am such a fan of just organically, I don’t know, consuming keywords and as much as AI is going to help us make correlations.

[00:45:46] Ashley Schweigert: Yes.

[00:45:47] Matt Bailey: And, and that’s where I think it’s going to really stop for a while. It’s going to create correlations that people who search for this look for this, and that’s great, but what, I don’t think what AI’s going to do for a long time is understand, “Okay, now what do I do with this information?”

[00:46:07] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, I was thinking…

[00:46:08] Matt Bailey: “How do I apply it?” That’s where…

[00:46:10] Ashley Schweigert: Exactly.

[00:46:11] Matt Bailey: …the person comes in. That’s where the SEO, I think the new realm of the SEO will be, “What do I do with that correlation? How do I apply that here?”

[00:46:19] Ashley Schweigert: That’s like that right now, though, even with data. Like you’re, I mean, people talk about, you know, just being overwhelmed with all the data that’s out there, which is why a lot of people like AI, because it’s going to help simplify that data and understand it, right?

‘Cause really technology at the end of the day should always be about efficiency. That’s why you should never forget your strategy and that human element, and that human element is going to be the brain, the strategy, um, understanding the business. So, you can’t really replace that with machine learning technology. Um, that is for efficiency.

[00:46:55] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:46:55] Ashley Schweigert: So, and understanding your data. And, um, oh gosh, I forgot where I was even going with that, Matt. Um, but…

[00:47:02] Matt Bailey: Well, there’s a base level that AI is going to get you so far.

[00:47:06] Ashley Schweigert: Exactly. Thank you.

[00:47:08] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:47:08] Ashley Schweigert: Yes. That’s exactly where I was going with it.

[00:47:12] Matt Bailey: Well, and that’s what I, I find so fascinating, especially in data and analytics, trying to teach people that the reason why you hate analytics is because analytics only gives you information.

[00:47:25] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. You have to interpret it.

[00:47:26] Matt Bailey: Right. And, which means you then have to come with a question. What are you trying to solve? Then you get the data, you get the clues, you got to, you know, you got to approach analytics like Sherlock Holmes. Have a problem first. And then…

[00:47:41] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah.

[00:47:42] Matt Bailey: …you find the clues. You put the clues together and that, now does it meet your first assumption or your first, uh, you know, I think about scientific method, you know, what’s, what’s your proposition? Does it agree with that, or do you have to go back and ask a new question?

[00:48:00] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:48:00] Matt Bailey: Uh, it, it’s that same level you, even AI and analytics is going to tell you, “Here’s a cool,” AI, I think a lot of people, when they approach it, they think AI is going to do things for them and solve problems for them. To some degree…

[00:48:14] Ashley Schweigert: That’s taking efficiency to another level.

[00:48:15] Matt Bailey: AI is going to find the patterns…

[00:48:17] Ashley Schweigert: Yes.

[00:48:18] Matt Bailey: …faster and more efficiently with bigger sets of data than we can do. Now, the pattern’s found. Now the, yeah.

[00:48:26] Ashley Schweigert: Now, I will say, um, I know we’re getting into a little bit of a different area, but, you know, AI, I mean, obviously it’s being used in chatbots. Um, but, you know, and then there’s some concern about AI taking over the sales process.

[00:48:41] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:48:41] Ashley Schweigert: And I don’t know how I personally feel about that. Right?

[00:48:47] Matt Bailey: Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see who fires AI.

[00:48:50] Ashley Schweigert: I know. I know.

[00:48:51] Matt Bailey: You know, if AI gets fired over a, a…

[00:48:54] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. Well, I, I think I remember somebody said something to me about how we have the technology today for, and this is where you’re going to need to speak on this because I’m not a car person, but like for cars, like self-driving cars and that there’s a lot to do there with technology and AI, and they’re not doing it because, you know, at some point the human element will stop the development. Um, just ’cause you, there’s no need for it to get to that, that piece. And I am probably butchering what this person said, but I thought, I just, I thought it was a pretty valid argument.

[00:49:33] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:49:34] Ashley Schweigert: Um, because, you know, we don’t want, we do want society to still have a role and, uh, be able to make, um, rationalizations…

[00:49:43] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:49:44] Ashley Schweigert: …that AI is not going to be able to do.

[00:49:46] Matt Bailey: Well, as a, as a former, and, and I guess sometimes current salesperson, uh, and, and, and I was joking with someone about this the other day, uh, when you’re in sales, your job is to make promises that production can’t deliver.

[00:50:00] Ashley Schweigert: Oh geez.

[00:50:01] Matt Bailey: “Of course we can do that,” you know, and then you go back and, “Hey, guess what we got to do. I’ve just told her we could do it. So, figure it out.”

[00:50:07] Ashley Schweigert: “Uh, you better figure this out.” Yeah.

[00:50:07] Matt Bailey: AI won’t do that.

[00:50:08] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:50:08] Matt Bailey: You, you know, and, and there’s so much, you know, and we talk about this all the time that, uh, there’s an art and a science.

[00:50:14] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:50:15] Matt Bailey: And the, the mixtures tend to change. And how much, then, will machine learning, can machine learning learn art appreciation? Uh, can it quantify that? And so, there’s always going to be that human element because I, I think no, it’s, it’s not going to be able to quantify it because it’s going to depend, and we get back again to how it was programmed.

Great study came out and, and this was with, uh, a database of images, uh, I think it was ImageNet or something like that. And I think it was a Google property where it was based on tags of hundreds of thousands of images. However, of this database, I want to say even maybe millions of images, 90% of the images had been tagged by the U.S, UK, Canada. And so, if you searched for “wedding,” what you saw in the images were traditional Western, the bride wearing white…

[00:51:19] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, yeah.

[00:51:19] Matt Bailey: …the man wearing a tuxedo. When images of Asian, Chinese, Indian weddings, it was labeled as “costume…”

[00:51:32] Ashley Schweigert: Oh geez.

[00:51:32] Matt Bailey: …because of, because 90% of the data came from Western countries.

[00:51:39] Ashley Schweigert: Ah.

[00:51:39] Matt Bailey: So, immediately we have a bias in the data.

[00:51:42] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[00:51:42] Matt Bailey: Because, and, and while they said 90% of the ratings or of the tagging came from the U.S, that’s 3% of the globe population. And now we start adding in all these images and why, we need more tagging data from the people that are underrepresented in this database.

[00:52:06] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah.

[00:52:06] Matt Bailey: And so, that’s one of the, the main inhibitors to AI is that breadth of data across multiple cultures, multiple languages, multiple people groups as to, what do you call this? And are we biased when we don’t have that data from that group of people because now it’s labeled as something else? And so, inherently, based on where you get the data, what data set this is, where you’re pulling it from, there’s going to be some level of bias to it.

[00:52:40] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

[00:52:41] Matt Bailey: And that, that one was a powerful example of how a small group of people could affect a large database and how things were, were, uh, I want to say hashtag, how they were labeled.

[00:52:56] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, but you know what? That’s really data 101. I remember learning about that in my statistics class, when we were talking about sample sets and analyzing data and seeing what was truly considered to be accurate and what wasn’t, um, and to try to find some of those flaws in data. And we learned about that, you know, at the very beginning.

[00:53:15] Matt Bailey: Yep. Yep. So, and, and now, and that’s the thing, we’re dealing with language.

[00:53:19] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:53:20] Matt Bailey: Language is a, it, and that’s what I know the Google al-, BERT al-, not even an algorithm, it’s a program, I guess, but more, um, it, it’s dealing with the nuance of language and how language changes all the time. And there are new words developed, new words are used in different ways. And so, that’s, that’s part of the fun, I think, of, of online marketing and, and just being a part of this, this world…

[00:53:47] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:53:47] Matt Bailey: …is, is seeing the, the amount of language change that goes on. And great example, um, I was teaching Google Ads to a class and, and this was like, they’d never seen it before. And, uh, it was an international class. We got hung up because I was talking about ad rank. Now, when I talk about ad rank, what do you think of?

[00:54:15] Ashley Schweigert: Um, well, you’re talking about keywords and quality score, right? Yeah. Yeah.

[00:54:21] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Yeah. And how ad rank affects, you, you know, you have quality score with ad rank and that, that computes to how much you get charged.

[00:54:30] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah, exactly.

[00:54:31] Matt Bailey: Per click, right?

[00:54:32] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. Yep.

[00:54:33] Matt Bailey: They got confused because as I’m explaining ad rank, they’re like, “Well, wait a minute. Don’t you, don’t you want your ad rank to be #1?” And I’m like, “Well, no?” And they’re like, “But when I do a search, I want my ad to be #1.”

[00:54:51] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, yeah. Well, clients ask that, right?

[00:54:53] Matt Bailey: So, here we have, and then I’m like, “You know, you’re right. The correct word is ad rank for where my ad ranks on the page.”

[00:55:02] Ashley Schweigert: Yes.

[00:55:02] Matt Bailey: “But it’s being used in a calculation called ad rank where it’s 1 to 20, 20 being the highest.”

[00:55:10] Ashley Schweigert: Wow, yeah.

[00:55:10] Matt Bailey: And, and, you know, they caught that. The only ways you would’ve caught it, it, it was a language discrepancy. And all of a sudden, I’m realizing we’re using the same word, but they’re seeing rank on the page, I’m seeing quality rank. And we had to change the language moving forward so they understood what exactly I was talking about and how that affects that. But here it is, even within Google, we’re using the same word, it means 2 different things…

[00:55:38] Ashley Schweigert: So funny you said that.

[00:55:39] Matt Bailey: …in these different calculations.

[00:55:40] Ashley Schweigert: I was having this conversation actually yesterday with somebody where he’s advertising. Like, I was using, I was just going through ’cause I see it all the time and they, I mean, we’re getting slightly outside of keywords, but…

[00:55:51] Matt Bailey: No, this is keywords.

[00:55:52] Ashley Schweigert: …it’s just, yeah, I mean…

[00:55:53] Matt Bailey: It’s all, it’s all keywords.

[00:55:54] Ashley Schweigert: Well, it was like basically custom, customization.

[00:55:56] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:55:56] Ashley Schweigert: So, customized audiences and how they use it. And how like, if you’re creating an ad, if, um, you know, they thought, “Well, a customized audience, that’s what I want. Yeah, I totally want…” Well, no, I mean, it’s basically the same audiences.

[00:56:09] Matt Bailey: No, it’s not what you want.

[00:56:10] Ashley Schweigert: I mean, yeah, not yet, but, but yeah. Right?

[00:56:13] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:56:13] Ashley Schweigert: So, it, it was kind of interesting.

[00:56:16] Matt Bailey: Yeah. And, and even within our own industry, I am amazed at how many words and phrases, uh, we have, when I’m teaching, and, and, and that’s the thing, I’ve been doing so much now overseas, and I’m teaching them about spidering. “Oh, we also call it a bot. Oh, we also call it, uh, you, you know, a crawler. We also call it, it’s a software program…”

[00:56:38] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:56:39] Matt Bailey: “…but we call it a spider, a bot, or a crawler.” And just, they’re looking at me like, “What are you even saying?” But I’m trying to explain to them these terms because when you go online, you start reading articles about SEO, which you will, you’re going to encounter this language.

[00:56:55] Ashley Schweigert: Oh yeah.

[00:56:55] Matt Bailey: And how we have 10 terms for one concept. Uh, and, and, and you know, same thing, Google calls it an index, it’s a database.

[00:57:03] Ashley Schweigert: That’s why, it’s, it’s actually really hard because, you know, they didn’t teach this at school, right?

[00:57:07] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:57:07] Ashley Schweigert: Like, I didn’t learn SEO or…

[00:57:09] Matt Bailey: No.

[00:57:09] Ashley Schweigert: …SEM in school. Like, I learned it on the fly, I was at, I was contracting at an agency and that’s how I started to learn some of it. And, um, I just remember being, there would be many times, Matt, I would be crying. I’d like to scowl thinking, “I don’t know what this is,” but, you know, you just have to di-, like, that’s why I commend you and your, your Beetle situation because, you know, you just bought it and figured it out, right?

And that’s what, that’s really what you have to do as a marketer these days. Uh, I think a modern-day marketer is somebody who’s going to sit down and just figure it out because things are constantly changing and moving. In fact, I’m dealing with it right now on a couple things that once upon a time, they used to be this way, and now they’re not. So, you have to constantly, like, teach yourself stuff.

[00:57:51] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:57:51] Ashley Schweigert: But I remember when I was first getting into it just being so upset ’cause I didn’t understand any of the terms. It was hard for me to self-teach because…

[00:58:00] Matt Bailey: Wow, yeah.

[00:58:00] Ashley Schweigert: …there’s a lot of terms for one thing. And, you know, unfortunately when you’re just diving in and you’re learning, not everybody has time to sit down and say, “Okay, honey…”

[00:58:10] Matt Bailey: Yep.

[00:58:10] Ashley Schweigert: “…we’re going to show you how to do this from A to, you know, B or whatever.” Like, you don’t have that luxury.

[00:58:18] Matt Bailey: No.

[00:58:18] Ashley Schweigert: You have a bunch of online articles to read and try to figure it out.

[00:58:22] Matt Bailey: Yep.

[00:58:23] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[00:58:23] Matt Bailey: Yep. And that’s what’s funny, the industry that does search engine marketing still cannot decide on what search engine marketing means.

[00:58:29] Ashley Schweigert: Oh, I know. We talked about that in one of our podcasts, right? Like, I put, I put a lot of stuff under that that…

[00:58:36] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:58:36] Ashley Schweigert: …a lot of people don’t, so.

[00:58:37] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Oh yeah. It, it’s, I, it’s one of those terms, it’s, it’ll be different based on who you talk to.

[00:58:42] Ashley Schweigert: And that’s why, when you see it on my website, I talk about it in terms of PPC and AdWords and, ’cause that’s really how most people use it. Right?

[00:58:52] Matt Bailey: I use it as a catchall.

[00:58:53] Ashley Schweigert: Well, I do. You and I do.

[00:58:55] Matt Bailey: I use it to describe everything to do with a search engine. Yeah.

[00:58:57] Ashley Schweigert: But not everybody does.

[00:58:57] Matt Bailey: No, that’s true.

[00:58:58] Ashley Schweigert: Actually, I think most people use it the other way.

[00:59:00] Matt Bailey: Yeah. For paid search.

[00:59:01] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah. So, that’s why on my website, I use it for paid search because I know…

[00:59:05] Matt Bailey: Oh really? Interesting.

[00:59:06] Ashley Schweigert: …that side.

[00:59:07] Matt Bailey: Uh, see, I’m just a stick. I’m, I’m, I’m just going to use it the way I think it should be used. I’m not going to ever change.

[00:59:12] Ashley Schweigert: I wondered what that look was for. Yeah, you know, I, I’m okay with just…

[00:59:16] Matt Bailey: Yeah?

[00:59:16] Ashley Schweigert: …conforming. Hey, I want that traffic, Matt. That’s what I want.

[00:59:21] Matt Bailey: You know, I’m a firm believer when it comes to that term, even when people are searching for it, they don’t know what they want.

[00:59:26] Ashley Schweigert: No. Yeah, that’s very true. Right.

[00:59:29] Matt Bailey: Intent is unclear.

[00:59:31] Ashley Schweigert: Well, you should always have a discovery meeting anyways.

[00:59:33] Matt Bailey: Yes. Yes. Well, listener, as you can tell, I think you can tell we’re winding down here…

[00:59:37] Ashley Schweigert: I know.

[00:59:37] Matt Bailey: …and just getting a little punchy. I, I, keywords, you know, we’ll probably sit here for another half an hour talking about keywords and stories. I hope story time here has been, uh, very good for you and maybe you’ve learned something about keywords today. And the one thing I, I would sell you to take away is don’t neglect keyword research.

[00:59:55] Ashley Schweigert: No.

[01:00:00] Matt Bailey: It is probably, I have said it is the most important thing you can do in digital marketing. It affects all areas, search, social, paid search, paid social…

[01:00:06] Ashley Schweigert: Yep.

[01:00:06] Matt Bailey: …content marketing, inbound marketing, content calendaring. Whatever you want to do, keywords are a foundation of that and you cannot neglect that.

[01:00:16] Ashley Schweigert: Right. I agree.

[01:00:18] Matt Bailey: Oh, thank you, Ashley.

[01:00:19] Ashley Schweigert: You’re welcome.

[01:00:19] Matt Bailey: After an hour, yeah, we’re, we’re in total agreement.

[01:00:22] Ashley Schweigert: I, I’m finally on the same page, right?

[01:00:23] Matt Bailey: Nice. Nice. Listener, thank you so much for tuning in and please, uh, share the podcast, let others know, uh, or, you know, even rate us. It really helps…

[01:00:33] Ashley Schweigert: Yeah.

[01:00:33] Matt Bailey: …and thank you so much for the time you spent with us. I look forward to seeing you again on the next episode of the Endless Coffee Cup podcast.

Featured Guest:

Ashley Schweigert

Marketing Communications Consultant

LinkedIn profile: Ashley G. Schweigert | LinkedIn

Website: Marcom Content by Ashley

Listen to Ashley Schweigert on a previous episode:

Endless Coffee Cup: “Is the Sales Funnel Dead?”