Everything you need to know about SEO (webinar)


Good afternoon and welcome. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to join us today. I promise you I’ve got a jam packed session ahead of you. And in case you guys are wondering, you’re hear because it’s all about SEO.

So you’re thinking about joining a different webinar. You can leave now or stay tuned because it’s gonna be an amazing session.

So for those of you that don’t know me, my name’s Sim, the CEO and founder of Pounce Agency, but today it’s really not about me.

It’s about our amazing SEO and content unicorn, Leigh Stark. But this, before we jump into it, just a couple of quick housekeeping things.

At the bottom of your screen there’s a Q&A box. So if you’ve got any questions during the presentation, please type it all in there and then we’ll answer it at the very end.

And if we don’t get time for all the questions, we’ll take that offline, but we’ll endeavour to get through all your questions.

So without further ado, Leigh, please kick us off.

Okay, that’s me somewhere up there. Hi, I’m Leigh. For folks who don’t know me, I don’t think I know anyone in this list outside of one writer.

My name is Leigh. I’m Pounce’s Content and SEO Unicorn.

That’s what other people call me largely because I can adapt to things. I’ve been an SEO for over 10 years and a technology journalist for a lot longer.

I still do a lot of technology journalism. You can hear me on ABC and 3AW and a bunch of other radio stations around the country on a fairly regular basis and I have a website for my own stuff as well. I think it’s important to say all these things, not just because you can get to know me in my random shirt, but also because there’s a technologist, I really love SEO.

It’s one of those things that is a often misunderstood and I think it can be really easily explained and help your businesses ridiculously. So just going to give you a quick overview of what we’re going to go through today because like I don’t want to make the assumption that everyone knows what I know or even the depths of what I know.

So we’re gonna do a quick explainer of what SEO is for people who might not be so sure.

I will try to slow down my my speaking because I tend to be a little bit overexcited for most people.

We’ll talk about the myths of SEO things that you might be being sold. Hopefully if you’re you in this you’re not selling this.

I’m also going to talk about the things that work in SEO. These are the factors making a dent for SEO now and they probably always will. So they’re good things to take notes on.

We’ll also talk about like content is still king and get you familiar and acquainted with a term that SEO’s master really quickly call “thin content”. It’s very important you understand this and content writers are basically allergic to.

We’ll then at the end get you to strategies that can work for any site. So you didn’t come just getting an overview of SEO. Will tell you some things that work. I know they work because I have skin in the game. I test this sort of stuff myself. So all of these strategies do actually work.

At the end we’ll have Q&A. So if you do have questions, I’ve closed down my chat window so I don’t get distracted because it’s remarkably easy for me to get distracted. So put some down if you have any and we’ll try to get to as many as humanly possible.

So we’ll start with SEO.

And we said before that, SEO has a lot to do with technology and I love technology so much.

SEO is basically a giant technology puzzle. It’s always changing. It’s kind of like the world of Cube if you’ve ever seen that older movie about basically a maze where people die except it [SEO] doesn’t come with the risk of lasers and death.

And why this is important is that for SEO for businesses, it can still bring that risk of death.If you’re not playing you may as well be risking death for your business and even if you are playing well you have to adapt to constantly changing rules like in Cube. So now you’re gonna go home tonight and look up what this crazy movie is that I’ve told you about and possibly watch a movie about death.

It’s kind of like SEO because the rules are always changing and if you don’t adapt, you’re in trouble.

So let’s quickly kick into what is SEO and it’s it’s pretty simple. It’s a set of processes designed to improve websites rankings in search engines.

It is one of the many three letter initialisms that marketing has marketing has way too much jargon already, but we can explain SEO quite well, unlike agile and regular uses of innovation, which are used way too often.

SEO simply put is just designed to improve a website’s rankings with a whole bunch of signals, content, quality, user experience in a way to get your website more traffic.

It’s pretty simple. It’s easy to explain. The crux of what search engine trying to do is they want to be the user.

That’s what Google is doing. That’s what Bing is doing. Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong. Even though it’s fairly easy to explain SEO, it’s often difficult to understand it because it requires looking at a lot of areas.

There are technically four areas of SEO and depending on the SEOs you employ or the SEOs you talk to some are really quite specific.

You’ll know most content SEOs. They’re the people that build page and content, understand articles. They basically work with the words that Google and other search engines will want to index.

And you might also understand technical SEOs. Technical SEOs cover the code, the server side, they’re looking at the stuff that sits in the back end to improve the performance.

There’s also two other sides that don’t often get talked about in these specific terms, There’s off-site SEO. And off-site SEO covers things you don’t always control, like backlinks and public relations PR.

Off-site SEO is about raising awareness of who you are as a company and your website in general.

And then there’s UX. And this is the experience of how people use a website. Colors, contrast, the interface, the accessibility. And the reason that one’s important is because Google can and will make accessibility calls on websites pretty regularly and it will even report to you about it.

Now all of this forms what some, myself included, call holistic SEO, which basically just means to look at the website as a whole and improve its SEO.

We look at content, we look at technical, we look at off-site and we look at how your website is designed in a way to try and understand what Google is understanding about it and other search engines and how best to improve it.

So we’re going to get stuck into the myths of SEO because There are many, but there are some that are really specific right about now.

And one of them is that AI will help you rank. And this one just isn’t true. It might help for a few minutes. That’s, that’s definitely true. But Google can and will pick up on heavily AI sites.

Almost every website built with AI has appeared and done really well for a few minutes and then fallen quickly. Some of them are actually really great case studies.

They may even be subject to Google’s manual penalties because when you read Google’s documentation on it, it says “when it comes to automatically generated content, our guidance has been consistent for years, using automation including AI to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies””.

If you violate their spam policies, you get this lovely thing called a manual penalty. And when I say it’s lovely, I mean it’s completely the opposite. You should be able to feel the cynicism in my voice. Because if you are given this, you won’t rank and you really have to struggle to improve your your whole processes to get rid of that thing.

Like much of what we see across AI in the market, artificial intelligence is meant to assist, not replace. So if you trust it entirely, you’re likely to end up with a site that initially ranks, only to fail weeks or months later.

And it’s very difficult to rebuild and get back up there again. There are good ways of using AI, but relying on implicitly, that’s not it.

Now number 2, domain authority is a ranking factor. So I’m a journalist and an SEO and I get this email all the time, both from people trying to sell it to me and from people trying to tell me that they employed an SEO and this sort of thing happened.

It’s this: A tool has told me I have a DA score for whatever. 30, 60 doesn’t really matter. But my ranking is still not great. Is Google broken? And the answer is that Google doesn’t use these metrics.

It’s a metric. All of these ones, you can see there are three here. It’s a metric made by the companies that sell SEO tools, many of which are actually SEM tools, for search engine marketing, but they can be used for SEO because they good at rate tracking and backlinks, a whole bunch of other things.

So Moz has the main authority, DA, SemRush has the authority score AS and Ahrefs has domain rating.

They’re all similar. They’re not page rank. Page rank is Google’s. It is arguably what made Google Google.

The formula, this thing here, which is actually more complex when you break it down, has been around for ages, but I’ve put it there in case you like maths.

But if you don’t like maths, we’re just going to explain it to you. Which is this, a site’s worth is evaluated by the position of a page that links to it.

So one of these. If a big site links to your site, it’s worth a lot of link juice because they’re big and important. But if a small site does it, it’s worth much less. However, that’s where these things come down. If a bunch of small sites link, it’s worth a lot as well.

Google’s page rank is known. It’s been around for a long time. 1996. And while it made Google, it’s not the only thing Google uses. And unfortunately, because it’s well known, this creates this thing called the backlink problem, which is arguably the biggest myth.

You need lots of backlinks to rank.

So, back in the days when I wanted to be a screenwriter, I learned how to write scripts. And so I have put a bad SEO script on here. So you’ll you’ll excuse me for my terrible acting because I am not an actor. But I’m gonna pretend to be a bad SEO.

The this is SEO Con Artistry, snake oil salespeople sort of nonsense all at once.

The script goes like this:

“We will get you on page one. We can boost your rankings by getting you back links. Give us lots of money and we’ll give you backlinks on sites that really help your ranking for sure. Google’s gonna love you. And look, look, I understand your hesitation. Yep. This is a long-term effort. If you want to rank for specific terms and phrases, look, you you need links and we can help.”

This is not relevant. I mean, Google doesn’t, you know, this, this is not really how Google works.

That Google is not going to use this sort of information. And so I’ve rewritten the Connada script, okay?

Because it’s a bit of a grift. The translation is actually this:

“We’ll get you on page one or we can boost your rankings by getting you back links that probably won’t matter because we either run them ourselves or they’re gonna be totally useless for you just junk absolute garbage. Oh, give us lots of money until you get sick and tired of it all. We’ll give you back links on sites that Google will Maybe, possibly penalize you with. And look, we’ll keep telling you we’re working on more, but we’ll probably drink a lot of beer throughout that process and you need to keep giving us money and nothing positive will happen.”

And I’ve probably mentioned the quiet part out loud there to be honest. They won’t actually say this. They’ll just do it. We’ve seen sites again and again that have a lot of backlink operations that nothing actually happens.

The the clicks remain consistent and consistently bad because there’s just more going on there.

The problem is this: backlinks are actually a legitimate part of SEO. But they’re not the only part and the amount you have isn’t necessarily relevant.

I have built sites with one backlink from a site that I’ve controlled and they have managed to secure ranking on the exact terms and topics I wanted them to.

So backlinks form a part of how Google’s page rank worked, but It’s not the only signal that Google uses. It hasn’t been this way for a really long time. There are hundreds of signals.

Backlinks have some value. Absolutely. But so do internal links. So does content quality, author capability, trust of the site, authority of the site, the experience of the author inside itself, the code quality, the speed of render, the responsiveness of the site, the DNS speed, structured data, and so on and so on and so on.

If you like me and you memorize this sort of thing, it kind of reads like a waterfall of text, but the thing is it’s not just backlinks. Backlinks are a really great way for a lot of SEOs to make money on stuff that probably won’t work.

And these days, I generally wouldn’t go out of my way to try and force them. I would create something good and make the backlinks come to me by creating something good.

And persisting with this whole backlinks above all logic is like saying phones are only good to make calls from, even though we use our phones for so much more.

The web has changed a lot since 1996 when page rank was created so suggesting it’s the same and nothing has changed in that time, implies an SEO either might not know what they’re talking about, which is possible. there are a lot of SEO con artists or that they’re trying to sell you something. And the same thing applies.

A solid backlink strategy is an absolutely great thing to have. I won’t deny that. But it’s not the be all end all and it’s not going to decide your page rank.

So, let’s talk about the things that work in SEO. If backlinks don’t do it entirely on their own. They can be helpful, but there’s more to it. What are the things that actually work?

Well, this isn’t an exhaustive list and admittedly some of these will work better than others, to be honest.

So I’m gonna try to provide examples where I can. Content. Content, right? It’s a given.

If you don’t have content, what is Google index? You need topics, you need content. So content, you have to have content. If your website has a grant over 5 pages and a whole bunch of Lorem Ipsum text, you don’t have content. You have test text. You need content.

Think about what you’re trying to build, what you’re trying to produce, and add content.

The problem is that content goes deeper than just saying content.

What you also need for content is Headings. Heading are those things that sit on the page and break out sections.

Here’s one right there. And journalists and editors use them to make content easier to read and search engines use them to understand the page. Google can read content without heading structures. That’s definitely true. But heading structures are part of both accessibility and older reading tests.

And so Google has used both of these before in its systems. So you can trust that Google can see them and their importance.

They have put in here at the top, this is search console, and you can see the crawl of this specific page has clearly picked up on the H2 class I’ve put inside of it. So it knows it’s there. Don’t make Google go looking for things specifically. Just put them in there.

You know your page best. You’re trying to tell Google how to read it.

One point worth mentioning about headings, by the way, is that heading structures are not a replacement for stylization. This is a really common misconception on websites and it’s actually one of the first things I try to fix and as pounce employees know it’s often the 1st thing I pick up on in my audits.

A lot of people use heading structures where developers didn’t think to include styles. That happens. So they use it to make the text a little bigger like this here. And that’s not the point.

You shouldn’t use it for that because it actually misconstrues the messaging on your page. Heading should be concise, clear and breakup text accordingly. But another thing that people do, which you shouldn’t do, is use more than one H1.

There are lots of heading structures, six technically, but you can add more with with styles and divs. And the H1 is typically the title of the page. If you use lots of H1, you’re sending that message that you may not know what your page is about.

So use headings in order, only use H1. That’s your 1st tip for today. You’re gonna get a lot more.

We’re gonna talk about a different type of links now. So forget backlinks for a moment.

There are 3 types of links that are really worth remembering. So backlinks are one, an internal linking is another.

Your website needs internal links to designate how the pages are connected, which helps Google and other search engines understand the importance of those pages.

It’s not just about the links by the way, two links linking to each other or two pages linking to each other is important but it’s also about the text that links to themselves.

That’s called anchor text. That’s what we call it. That’s the actual name for it. And it provides context for other engines to understand what’s there.

Without that context and without those links, one Google doesn’t understand what the page is your linking to is necessarily about, without the link content is orphaned. So Google has to work out why that page is important or if it is at all. So giving yourself an internal linking strategy gives you a greater understanding of how your pages work and how your page structure works, which Google and other search engines understand as well.

So we’ve touched on internal linking. Let’s talk about external linking. We’re not talking about backlinks necessarily, but they can absolutely be connected.

The web is circular. So external linking is actually really important this way. An external link is you not linking to an internal part of your website like another page. It’s linking to a source that you might find important. Could be a document you found could be a great piece of research on another website. You’ll know it because maybe you didn’t create the original reference that you’re talking about so you’re going to link to it elsewhere.

The web is circular and the whole backlinking thing comes from external linking. So you shouldn’t be afraid to link to sources when you’re referencing other things.

It’s actually healthy to have a certain amount of external links. There’s a ratio, but it’s dependent on each page and sort of like the content on the page. Relatively solid amount of internal links, one or two external links per page, and then you get a good understanding of basically contributing to the web.

If it’s a sponsored link and that’s okay as well, we can mark it as that in the URL tags, but you shouldn’t be afraid to link.

Part of the reason I say this is that folks who are often afraid to link often scream about the virtue of backlinks because they love backlinks but they think that their link juice is so important and should be kept and hoarded.

Those people clearly haven’t done the math that to have backlinks, people actually still need to link out. It’s a connected ecosystem. So it’s a good balance to actually have.

Authors are also important.

You know, content has to come from somewhere. And the name of your company? That’s not it.

Doesn’t tell Google anything. Nowhere is not somewhere and no one is not a someone. You might as well say that no one wrote your content. That’s okay on some pages, but it’s not okay on every page, particularly when you’re trying to prove yourself as an authority in that space.

You should, however, say that someone wrote it to give that person a bio, some links and some integrity.

We’ve given Rakz his part of pounds here some integrity and I’m sure at one point I’ll make fun of him and I’ll remove that integrity at a later date. However, he’s not, I don’t think he’s in a chat list so it won’t come back to bite me in the bottom until someone reports it.

This is called Diff Bot and Diff Bot is one of the analysis tools we use to understand how authors will be essentially understood by search engines.

Google doesn’t use Diffbot, but the reason why I’m recommending DiffBot at this point is because Knowledge Graph, which is Google’s basic understanding of how information is connected is actually very similar to this. So you can see with Rakz here, it’s pointed out places he’s worked at, Canon, DDB, so on and so on. He’s done projects for McDonald’s and General Motors and you can see his experience and so effectively it’s trying to join the dots about what makes Rakz important. And trust him as an expert in this space.

Without an author and without an established set of information, Behind that author, you may as well be saying my content is worth nothing because it was written by a machine .

Authors matter. And part of the reason, by the way, that you hire authors to write for you is they lend their credibility, expertise, and authority to your website.

So hiring a good writer, hiring a journalist, hiring a subject matter expert actually helps get you there. You can have them ghostwritr for you, absolutely, and that can improve you as a person from a thought leadership capability.

But if you’re if you want to use that person’s authority, typically grabbing an author and adding their information to your site and you have to ask them by the way not every author will do it. If you add that to it, it actually improves the trust metrics that your website has to begin with.

So authors, really important.

But so is a well-structured menu. It’s something not many websites have.

The menu at the top and at the very bottom. You know, header and footer. Think of it like a menu in a cafe. You’re communicating what’s important on your menu that you want people to buy. This is actually no different.

Part of the reason why we look at well-structured menus, not too varied, just closely controlled, is that it communicates to Google and other search engines what is important about your page.

Header menus typically include the things that you want to drive people to. They are the conversions. They’re the pages that matter. And footer menus typically cover administrative stuff. So editorial policies, terms conditions, nonsense like that, that actually is important, but can be dug into later on down the track.

This sort of thing helps relay to Google and other engines that you have key pages worth covering. And honestly, we actually find that in some of Google’s featured snippet information, the stuff that appears when you search a website first. Often it is derived from those menu items as well.

So menus are really important. Have a good menu in place. Look at your menu carefully and try to work out what should be there and what shouldn’t.

And also, look at your website speed.

This is a one that a lot of people get wrong. It’s incredibly frustrating. A whole bunch more just don’t even consider it. Which is that Google has a page to even test this. Your performance and speed actually does matter.

You want your page to be as fast as possible, simply because people will switch off from a website and hit the back button if it loads slowly.

Remember that Google and other engines are trying to be the user. And they’re trying to understand why bounce rate can be high and why people can leave.

So get a website as fast as possible. The reason why I say as fast as possible is I wouldn’t obsess about it. You get it as fast as you can and move on.

The one that’s on screen here is a page feed test for the Sydney Morning Herald. Their contentful paint. FCP takes 3.1 seconds. That’s slow. This should be well below 1.5. Two would really the most, smaller websites can can can push this a bit but big websites should be fast. It takes 16 seconds for the largest amount to load and the blocking time which is how long it takes for the JavaScript and all the other stuff to parse that takes almost 7 seconds, so even the big guys don’t get it right.

Get it as fast as you can and worry about tweaking it over time but you need to look at it.

It will mean looking at the way things load. Caching content delivery networks and ideally talking to someone in tech because this sort of thing matters.

While we’re talking to someone in tech, let’s talk about code quality. I know a lot of people don’t actually understand code and that’s fine.

This is something that sits in the technical SEO side of life, but it matters because it’s what search engines look at.

They don’t just look at text on the page. They look at code. We’re talking about having information be there and sometimes not. We talk about HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and a thing called hydration, which you might not know about, but depending on how your website is built, it might be a factor.

And these can make or break websites. It’s impossible to put every factor here because ideally we want to make sure the code is working, but there are a lot of factors.

So as an SEO, I actually try to train other junior SEOs to learn a little bit of code.

You don’t need to speak it proficiently, but you should be able to read it. If only so you can convey to developers what needs to be changed to make a site better.

And if you do speak it, you can check their work and both of you can learn from it.

It’s important, by the way, for SEOs and developers to have a relationship to. Sometimes SEOs are seen as kind of like the internal affairs of a dev team. That’s really not the point. We do similar jobs, but we do them in different ways.

Neither is actually a threat to each other. They can actually help each other so they can work together to build a better site. So we want clean code and that established relationship. So the two can actually build a better site in general.

Part of building a better site is working out the Brownie points that you can use in technical information to help inform Google about extra things that can be done.

And for that we turn to a part of the system called schema or structured data. They’re they’re close. They’re not exactly the same. But if you look up schema and structured data, you’ll see that they’re connected.

And these are the things the extra bits of SERPs that are interesting like star ratings, votes from user generated content, a review information or even his little internal chapter markings. There’s a lot more to it.

Structured data is kind of like the extra data that might not be seen, but can be embedded in the code of a website to help convey more. It can be financial information. It could be reviews, it could be author information, it could be localized business data.

And there are correct ways of doing it. One of the most incorrect ways of doing it is supplying the same amount of content or structure data across every page. And that is something we’re consistently seeing in clients at Pounce, which just means that someone who wrote it out Probably didn’t understand structured data as well as they should have.

Schema.org, which you can find maintains a list of what sort of schema is out there. It’s always evolving. Google has its own set that it will include. It’s all standard, but it will, it won’t include everything.

So you look at your business and work out: How could I improve it without necessarily adding more content? That’s what structured data does. And you can do some really cool things with it. We found some really fantastic experiments that can secure higher positions solely based on the extra structured data you put in.

But another aspect of technical SEO is actually working out what you’re putting out there. And this is actually one of the fundamental ones.

There are two files that your website should have that get you there.

The sitemap should convey what you mean to publish. It’s not just a a flat list of everything you have that’s largely irrelevant to Google. It’s an XML file that should be updated regularly and often is automatic from a CMS.

This thing is important because it shows what you’re trying to say. It says all of these 5,000 articles are important. And I think they are, so I’ve put them in there for you. It’s also important because it shows a listing of when that information was updated and a lot of people there is a consistent SEO strategy that’s been there for the past few years is constantly updating that as it does tell Google to rush the the regular crawling of your site.

So if you’ve got 5,000 pages to automatically say, please look at these again. I clearly updated them yesterday when you didn’t — Google can tell. Google, like all search engines, is a comparative engine. It can look at your indexes from one day and go, you didn’t change anything the next day.

Don’t lie to Google.

Don’t lie in general as a good, but good advice for for living, but don’t try to lie to Google either because Google can tell the difference and it may backfire on you remarkably. You might find your site crawled less.

Meanwhile, the robots file, this thing down here, actually tells basically search engines what rules to index content by.

Much of this can shape how Google and other engines view your content, and it may give you the backbone to say AI engines like Chat GPT can’t use your content for training purposes as well. That’s a big deal because engines like chat GPT are beginning to build their own search capabilities.

So both of these sections are powerful parts of SEO and content management. And knowing how to use them can help you enact quick wins to improve a site’s visibility.

One of these that you probably haven’t thought about is UI and UX.

So another department to talk to are the lovely folks designing your website. Always talk to them. They’re the ones who can help understand bounce rate. And more importantly, whether people are getting what they need from your website and how you convey that information.

This might sound out of the purview of SEO, but SEOs are silo hoppers.

We don’t exist solely in content. We don’t exist in technical. We don’t exist in design. We jump around to try and improve a website the best way possible. And that means talking to a lot of different sections. That’s why having design skills and coding skills and content skills are really important for an SEO to have.

But the UX side of things, the reason why that’s important is because Google is comparing how sites work, it’s comparing how the information appears on screen. And if one site can show more information or the information you have in a better way, That’s enough to give it a leg up over the other.

And this, by the way, alongside the technical SEO and the content side is part of how to be a holistic SEO, which is to say, you’re covering all of it, not just portions, that’s how I know that holistic SEOs can improve a site as opposed to individual components.

We look at everything.

We even look at this meta titles and descriptions and the reason why I’ve put this at the end here is because it’s not as useful as it once was.

Everyone knows what a meta title description is, but if you don’t, it’s a little bit of code in the back end that basically says, this is the tile of the page and this is the description.

And in the old days, back before Google could rewrite it’s own descriptions. These were the ones that would appear when you search for your site.

Problem is that’s the old days. Google often rewrites these based on the queries and intent of your search.

So you should definitely always write your own. And if you have a CMS, you could automate a lot of that as well. And if you don’t have a CMS, you definitely should because handwriting all this stuff is a pain in the proverbial.

But don’t be surprised if your searches also ignore what you’ve written for meta title and meta description. It’s really normal. It typically only shows up if the intent is perfect. Engines can and will rewrite them based on what’s on the page and what is happening in the intent.

So they’re the things that will work and they probably won’t change because they seem to be critical at least for the past decade or so I’ve been doing this.

I’ve been working a bit over but we just round it to a decade.

One of the most important parts is content. You can’t escape it because without it you don’t have a webpage.

So let’s talk about good content because it is very different from the other type of content that we try not to talk about out there.

Good content is well written. It’s well structured. It’s typically easy to read and it comes from authors who know how to write, who are often subject matter experts, also known as SMEs. There’s another one of those lovely marketing initialisms you’ve probably memorized that you might not have known from the very beginning.

Good content is well researched. It comes with links both internal and external. Those factors that we mentioned before and it often comes with an author attached to it. So you can impart their experience and authority from the piece. It’s not supplied by AI, but it can be augmented or assisted by it.

And ultimately, you’ll know good content because it’s written for users and isn’t just a sentence or two surrounding some dot points. That’s a very big difference.

That’s bad content, or it’s another type of content that SEOs like to frown upon called thin content.

Thin content is rather like this room here. There’s nothing in it and it’s a waste.

It’s stuff that doesn’t say much either because the words are empty and fluff. We’ve all seen marketing material like that. Or a lot more likely because there’s not a lot of words on the page. Often it’s actually a mixture of both.

Search engines are comparative in nature. That’s how they work. So they can pick up on thin content remarkably easily.

If your content isn’t solid, it’ll probably be thin. If your content is not solid, but your competitors is, well, that creates a bit of a problem because at that point you’re competing with better content overall.

Better content is typically written to understand the intent of a query and if you don’t understand the intent of your content, that’s a different problem.

Search queries come in a variety of forms.

They can be informational. You’re looking for information about a specific product.

And it could be commercial. You’re almost at that conversion stage. We’re still researching.

They could be transactional. I’m ready to buy. Let’s do it.

Or they could just be navigational. We’re just trying to find a page that might help you.

These aren’t the same and you need to work out which queries you want to match.

It will likely be a combination of several of these that’s normal. You might be doing product research and trying to convert that sort of thing happens.

It’s worth, by the way, keeping in mind that Google can change how these intents are interpreted at times as well. You have to be adaptive and you have to prove you have the stuff to cover what matters to you. But Google can and will change the intent and there’s very little you can do about that except adapt.

Helping you prove this is an initialism that SEOs know but not everyone does it used to be just EAT but there’s now an extra E. It’s not necessarily a ranking factor, but it is a description for what you need to compete.

It’s called EEAT. It’s each with an extra A. You need, I’ll explain this but it’s on the screen there.

You need experience in demonstrating what you’re talking about. That’s the first E. You need expertise to be able to do so, such as a history. Or even a method. That’s the second E. You need authority. Do you have the right to say these things? Does the website have the right to say these things? Are you the right author to even say these things and the T? Well, that’s trust. Can the audience trust your expertise on these things? In turn can the search engine do it.

Think of these as a guiding set of principles for building a relationship with the users, which is also building a relationship with the search engine.

Think of them as one and the same. That’s what search engines are working towards even if they make stumbles along the way.

There are other factors worth being considered too because there are lots of different businesses out there and lots of different websites.

If you’re a website dealing with finance, law, health, medicine, something like that. You will be graded more harshly as a YMYL website, which stands for “Your Money Your Life”.

You might feel you need greater points of trust, could be an editorial policy or some auto injecting text that helps you make claims or verify information automatically.

Everything you do to make your content better is important. Whether it’s research, structure, links, headings, quotes and so on. There’s no rule of thumb. Every website is different. You just make do the best you can.

So we’ve reached the part that you probably want to pay more attention to. So if you fell asleep before, I apologise for putting you to sleep.

Here’s the stuff that actually probably will work for you most. Three really easy strategies, but sometimes they take harder, longer to do.

The first one is one that it sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how few people actually do it, which is to research your competitors.

You don’t exist in a vacuum unless you are making I don’t know, underwear for squirrels. If you’re making underwear for squirrels, you exist in a vacuum. Congratulations, you were gonna dominate those queries. But if you run a business like everyone else you have competitors and you can look at what they’re doing right but ultimately what they’re doing wrong.

I’m not suggesting you clone them and I’m not suggesting you simply exist as a business. What I’m saying is you have to exist well, you have to do everything you possibly can to be your best presence. And unless you exist in a niche that no one else does, like this squirrel underwear, example I mentioned before, that means research and what your competitors are doing. Looking at their copy, their site structure and the terms they’re flagging and not just the terms, the topics they’re talking about because it’s not just about the terms, it’s about the entire topic overall.

Learn something from them that works and then make yours better. Trust me, it actually works.

Another one is to fix the signals.

Weirdly, when people ask what tools I use as an, I actually tell them I’m cheap. I’m really cheap. I’ve, that’s just, that’s just my, my thing. I’m a dad. I’m cheap. I spend my money on my girls. I tell them I use a web browser, a text editor and search console.

That’s typically Chrome, Safari or Brave. For the web browser, BB edit for the text editor and I usually keep it in demo mode because as I said, I’m cheap. And I use Google search console, what used to be known as webmaster tools.

If you have money, Semrush and Hrefs are handy for checking back whens, but a lot of the data there is an estimation. It’s the same with similar web. They are great for rank tracking. You can build your own sort of things like that, but it can get complex to bypass blocks and that gets into a whole other area.

But search console is different. The data in search console is what Google is seeing when it checks your site. It’s your impressions, it’s your clicks, it’s your average ranking on actual searches.

And search console also provides information about what’s happening on a page level, And that gives you something to look at and fix. And I’ll tell you, there is always something to fix. So fixing these things can actually help improve your technical SEO, which can improve everything overall as well.

This is about fixing the signals that Google sees wrong with your website and improving them. Fixing your signals, by the way, fixes errors, indexing issues, missing meta. You might even find an unchecked manual penalty. Bing has a version of this as well, could being webmasters, it’s not quite as useful, it’s a little bit different, but it can provide some handy tips to improve your website.

Finally, the biggest strategy I have for you is to actually audit your website.

All of this is about the picture you paint for Google, what you’re painting for you, your website and your clients. It’s the index of what you submit. And often that can be more than you intend

Remember, Google’s looking at every page, category, tag, taxonomy, so on and so on if it’s not controlled so auditing your sight is a must have if you want to fix it because it helps you to know all the problems and what needs to be turned off left on so on and so on.

Unfortunately it takes time and so do the implementations the results you get from auditing, so working out how many pages you have what’s important based on the queries, how many pages of flagging for that, and if there are better ways to all of this all of this is about making the best version of your site and giving a search engine information.

I’ll give you a tip it’s at the bottom here I mean this fully:

In 90% of cases the council looks at It’s because no one has ever considered an audit.

And I suspect with other good SEOs that will probably be the same. The good news is that auditing can result in some quick wins.

The bad news is that auditing takes time and good auditing takes a long time, which is why people often come to us in the first place.

Even if you do all this by the way, fixing a website’s SEO can take time. It’s not a quick fix. SEO is a long game. You could be waiting weeks, months or even years, hopefully not the ladder, but it is dependent on what has been done and what needs to be done.

Think of it like a diet. You can’t lose 10 pounds tomorrow without removing a limb.

And that is probably the least effective way of doing this, possibly because none of your clothes will look right and now I can’t use my mouse.

A diet takes time. You change your eating hats, you go for more walks, you exercise, you join a gym, you actively go, you do things to better yourself and improve your life, which ultimately improves your health and improves your weight.

Bit by a little bit, it can work. It’s kind of the same with SEO.

It’s a drawn-out exercise that can yield some immediate results, but more likely will take time. It’s why a lot of people match SEO to SEM, especially initially so you can get the page ranking you need an ads and secure some conversions. But also fix the SEO over time to ease the burden of spending on Adwords and programmatic.

Part of this is you finding the right ways to shape your website, but another part is waiting for Google.

Every time there’s a core update, the page is reindexed, and weighted, but updates don’t work to a daily schedule. Re-weighting might come with a more regular cadence in the future, but right now we typically work to a deadline of two weeks ago because we don’t know when Google will roll out an update, so we need to work quickly in case it happens tomorrow.

And even if we do, what we mightn’t see the results of these strategies for some time. It’s a drawn out effort. We just keep on keeping on.

And that’s me and hopefully you have lots of questions. That I can answer.

Thanks so much, Lee. So I think that was there was definitely a lot to cover in there, but I think if we just kind of kick off some of the questions.

If we start with Google’s core update, those obviously a call update that came out in March. What does that mean for businesses and marketers? What do they need to be aware of what should they do based on some of the strategies that you’ve already shared with us today?

So we’re still analyzing what happened with the Google core update in March, largely because it went way over time and it only technically ended last week.

But what we can say from early analysis is that auditing seems to be one of the more critical aspects.

Google’s documentation suggests a lot of the errors if we’re to believe them and at this point we’re not entirely sure they’re entirely telling the truth about it all.

If we’re to believe them a lot of the issues that people are seeing in their graphs are technical in nature, which means into your console and working out what is going on. So employ an SEO who knows what they’re doing, get in there and really work out what’s happening.

But the audit side of things is the one that I found most interesting because in a lot of websites, especially those hit by helpful content update, which has been rolled as part of this update as well. We’re seeing that they might have too much content. There might be some site penalties and individual page penalties that they’re just not seeing because they have the expectation that everything they have is good.

And I hate to be the one that breaks it to most people. Most of what people provide is garbage. That’s unfortunate. It’s just not everyone is a great writer. Not everyone understands what’s being put out there.

And so auditing your site is probably the fastest way to at least deal with any updates.

The reason why I stuck that at the back is because it is 9 times out of 10 the thing that makes or breaks a website.

I can tell you the big site I’ve worked on auditing fixed it. Some of them are still holding ranking despite not having an SEO and by the way that is a bad strategy: don’t get rid of your SEOs once you’re doing something really well.

But if you’ve employed a strategy of auditing and you’ve managed to reduce let’s say 60,000 web pages down to 5,000 that is an impressive amount of balancing that you’ve done and that will probably hold your ranking even with an update as tumultuous as this one.

But as I said, we’re still analysing what’s going on this update because there are a lot of losers a lot more so than expected and there seems to be a lot of winners in the e-commerce side and we’re not quite sure why that’s the case.

It could be that Google’s AI is just not nailing it. I have my theories that Google’s AI doesn’t understand the difference between regular content and AI content, but it’s gonna take more than a week for us to get to the bottom of it.

Thanks, Leigh. Now this question that’s popped up is probably one of the most common questions we get, but it’s regarding the sweet spot for blog content and word counts for blog content.

So how long should a blog possibly be and what is the thin content is it dependent on the topic itself do I have to write 18,000 words like where where’s this sweet spot from a writing perspective that we should consider?

So how long is a piece of string is the answer to this question. I mean, but there is, there is an answer we can work with.

Thin content is so small it doesn’t say anything. So it’s typically below 200 words dependent on a page.

There are a lot of catches. You can actually produce 200 words of content that are totally fine. It is dependent on the topic and how it’s written. You can also produce 15,000 words and have it be absolute garbage.

And there are reading tests that actually verify this as proof. Sometimes you might need a university degree to read something. That’s not necessarily positive outcome unless the people searching for your queries happen to be university graduates that can read it.

Every website is different. However, to answer your your question, we typically like to think between 600 and a thousand words, largely because that gives you a pretty solid way of saying I’m not producing thin content. I’m putting in some research and I’ll be able to space it out with the right amount of subheads relevant to my topic.

It’s not a cover all, that being said. If you browse on Pouncer’s website, you’ll see some pages have as little as 250 and others as much as 1200. Some go even longer. JC and I like to write and the downside of writers is that we’re typically really good at writing but not so good at speaking.

We’re not great dressers, either. I well I’m not a great dresser but we have our skills. Our skills are in content and information. They’re not necessarily in other areas. So we can write really good and clean copy but it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else can do it as well.

So yo answer your question, I’d stick between if you could, 500 and 1,200, depending on what your copy is about, space it out with heading structures, build it properly, get a content writer to go through it. Like someone who actually knows the area, not talking about your best friend, I am not talking about your boss because that would backfire remarkably.

I’m talking about someone who actually will tell you that your work is garbage if it got down to it, because that matters and keep in mind the reason for that is because Google is comparing your work to about 50 other people’s works and they may actually have a proper editorial process. And if you don’t, that will come to a negative for you.

Yeah, fair enough. And speaking of garbage, someone has been honest, and said that they know their site is garbage but where do they kind of really start?

The question would be how do you know your site’s garbage? That’s a good that’s a that’s a that’s a that’s a good admission.

It’s good to know that your side’s garbage. Start with your copy. Start with the things that should be communicating the right message.

Websites are about signals. I say this to Sim on a regular base. I don’t think she likes to be saying this, but SEOs can’t guarantee anything.

And as you know, so it makes building KPIs for SEOs, so problematic. We can’t guarantee anything.

What we can do, however, is we can fix the signals of your website and work out what it should be doing so that Google understands it better.

So if you know your website is garbage, you’re on the first step, you understand that Google won’t have a clue what to do with your website. That’s great. That’s better than 10% of the people I talked to on a regular basis who genuinely believe this stuff is great.

Start with the stuff that you know is garbage, rewrite and hire someone who can rewrite it for you and be objective about it. It’s okay to throw things out. It’s also okay to realize that you can burn it down, start from scratch. If it’s not working, that is fine too. There’s nothing wrong with burning something down and starting again if nothing’s working for you.

In fact, in some SEO circles, that’s actually a valid strategy if you’ve been given a manual penalty because you may not be able to revive it from the dead because it will always be judged with that with that bad information.

So start with a content audit, look at your pages and work out what isn’t doing it right, what isn’t sending the right message.

If it’s the entire site, start with the pages that you want to drive conversions on that tell the most information because they’re the ones that will actually count the most.

Alright, we’ve got two more questions and then we we’ve got a little surprise for you guys. So I’ll quickly throw this one to you, Leigh: Does the tone of an article make a difference to SEO?

The tone of voice of an article. So something like more casual versus something or conversational versus something more serious and inforative.

It can, it’s dependent on what you’re trying to target. A lot of this comes back to intent and what your business is.

So I’m a journalist. I’m conversational, which means when I write articles, I can be as conversational as I want and it won’t necessarily make a difference to my search.

But when I work for SMB clients and we build sites for SMB or enterprise, it has to be more professional in nature.

You’re speaking to your audience. And again, it’s comparative. So if your audience and all your competitors in your audience are professional, you can be professional but you might be able to find the quirk in their stuff is that they’re not being playful enough. Speak to the audience. I don’t have an answer for you that necessarily says one is better than the other. You have to look at your audience for that and work out which will do them best.

It’s worth always keeping in mind, search engines are desperately trying to be a user. So, play to tha: if the user wants professionalism, that’s what you play to, but you can apply some tweaks.

JC, our writer, is a cross between professional and playful and I think that combination works really nicely because it shows that the writing doesn’t have to be stuck and staccato and set in its ways. It can show it’s allowed to be something better.

Perfect. Alright, I’m just mindful of time. So quickly, I’ll answer this final question and then after that, will share our screen with our contact details so you can always come back to us. And ask more questions

But the lucky last question is what are some good places to start with trying to understand coding?

Yeah, so I actually suggest people, learn by doing. So, go to your website or any website, right click and hit the source or hit the inspector. That will expose you to a lot of coding, obviously.

Good places to be honest are places like W3. So W3 is a is basically the entire resource for learning CSS, HTML, and they do it in a really easy way.

Another great one is to build a site yourself and don’t be afraid to break things if you’ve got a Mac or PC download either Local or the WordPress install, which will build a site and then start playing around with code in the back end. Break things. I break things on a regular basis for fun. That’s how I learn things. So don’t be afraid to look at the code.

One of the cool things about Chrome and Safari and all modern browsers is that you can right click on something. I’m not gonna do it here. Actually why not? I can hit inspect just fun and you can see I can actually start if I wanted to, it’ll load the information.

I can double click on these things and I can start changing them. You can experiment with what code does in your browser simply by using your browser.

That’s a great way of doing it. You won’t break the website in real time. You don’t have that access. You’re just breaking your version of it.

Perfect. All right, Leigh, if we can pop onto the next slide. So, obviously there’s so much information in here to cover and we’re really grateful that you guys have stayed to the very end.

But what we wanted to do for you guys is we want to give you guys a chance to win a free order and this is when we will be looking at your side giving you real-time feedback in terms of what’s working, what’s not a little roadmap for what you can do to improve your site.

So we’re only giving this away to 3 people, but the little caveat is you have to be paying attention and answer the following question, which is what are the 3 types of links that I important for SEO?

So if you know the answer to this, just simply shoot me an email. And if your answers are correct, then we will do a free audit for you by early next week. Just to help you on your SEO journey.

And again, if this is all too overwhelming because there was a lot of content to cover in here. Please, please, please shoot us an email, connect with us on socials. We will be sending out some little, little nuggets of information as well, like an SEO checklist just to kind of help you guys, but at the end of the day, Leigh and I and the broader team here at are obviously here to support you guys.

As best as we can on your SEO journey. So please feel free to reach out to us. And with that, thank you all for attending our webinar.

We hope to see you at the next Pounce Academy webinar, very soon.