Hosted by Daniel Valle Vieyra, Head of Operations at t2ó, the latest episode of their podcast show Digital Meets features our CEO, Pierre-Olivier Danhaive, and Javier Gutiérrez, Director of Digital Marketing Operations at GÜO Tech. In this episode, they shared their views on the evolution of SEO and how brands can benefit from it.
Below is the transcript of this podcast which was presented in Spanish.
Daniel Valle: Hi, welcome to this episode of Digital Meets by t2ó Mexico, my name is Daniel Valle, Head of Operations at t2ó.
Today we have the pleasure to be with Pierre-Olivier Danhaive, aka POD. POD graduated as an Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer, but has always been active in the startup/scaleup scene with various roles as founder/CEO/CTO, including at Immoweb, one of Europe’s leading real estate portals. He is currently founder and CEO of Verbolia, a booming European scale-up that helps ecommerce companies to increase their traffic with Artificial Intelligence (used by clients as big as Walmart, Boohoo, Decathlon,…). Verbolia has reached 2.5 million ARR in 3 years and is constantly growing. POD is passionate about building world-class teams around products that drive immediate value for customers.
I also welcome Javier Gutierrez. Javier has more than 8 years of professional experience. He currently leads technology and digital transformation projects focused on the continuous improvement of organisations and to provide solutions that enhance the performance of SMEs and large national and international companies as well as the innovative evolution of the commercial and branding objective.
Javier is digital marketing and operations manager at GÜO, one of the Spanish start ups that offers global solutions for the growth of local businesses and large corporations through process automation and digital platforms. And well, with this little introduction I welcome you both. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.
Both are SEO experts and we are sure to learn a lot in today’s talk.
Welcome Pierre and Javier.
Pierre: Hi Daniel, thank you for the invitation. It’s a great pleasure to share a podcast with you.
Javier: Same here Daniel. I am very happy to be with you today sharing some knowledge.
Daniel: Thank you very much! And well, going into the subject, in recent years it is evident the digital evolution that we have experienced globally derived from the pandemic. I would like to know from the perspective of each one of you what it has been like in the last two years working as SEO experts with different companies and from different perspectives. Verbolia being an expert in SEO positioning specialising in e-commerce and who has worked with clients like Kavak very closely, which we all know is one of the great unicorns of recent years and GÜO from the perspective of local SEO with brands as important internationally as KFC.
Daniel: How has SEO evolved in recent years with the new environment that surrounds us all.
Pierre: As you said, we work with big and medium size companies. We work as you said with Kavak, Decathlon and Walmart which are big but also with many medium brands. What we can see in the last few years is that there is a consolidation of the market. The big brands have become bigger and bigger. That’s a trend in the SEO area that we can see. Everybody has realized that e-commerce is very important with home working and lockdown and some companies have realized that SEO is fundamental if they want to be leaders. That’s why there are a lot of people investing in SEO and also the competition is much bigger. In the end, it’s more beneficial for the big brands. That’s the clearest evolution we can see in e-commerce and SEO in Europe and LATAM: big brands have become bigger and bigger.
Daniel: I totally agree with Pierre. I think the evolution has been a huge digital transformation from all aspects involving the different branches of marketing. And well, I would like Javier to give me your perspective from the point of view of local SEO positioning as the industry has evolved in these two years of lockdown and where people stopped moving. How was it for you to take this evolution in the last two years?
Javier: Well GÜO being a platform that as you introduced at the beginning is focused on local businesses but also on large companies. When we refer to local businesses, it’s not that they have to have a physical location or that their revenue depends only on it.
In the last few years of the pandemic there has been an imperative need to have a digital presence and well I think that Pierre obviously has that knowledge in e-commerce. I’ve had a look at the data, and found that 24% more e-commerce sites have been created in the year 2022 and well this coupled with the Google metric of more than a billion purchases a day. I think this gives us very substantial data about what is happening. Especially when we talk about local businesses and local SEO, what we have to be very clear about is that not only the competition is growing but also the knowledge of users and the possibility of choosing between different players. That is what makes the user experience online or offline one of the requirements that will make users become potential buyers or users of the service.
Daniel: Absolutely. For our part as t2ó we have lived from the perspective of our clients an evolution in the last two years. We have seen how the interest of all brands to be present in the different environments of positioning has grown exponentially. Talking about SEO not only the search engine placement or as it was previously the positioning on Google. Nowadays companies have to be present in different perspectives, both the e-commerce part, geolocated platforms, mobile environments, social environments. So, it has been very interesting to see this evolution and I agree with both you and Pierre on how this transformation has been evolving and beyond the fact that brands have to adapt quickly, it is sometimes the technological platforms that have to try to reach the interests of the brands.
Daniel: Speaking on the topic of technology platforms, I would like both of you to give us your opinion on what have been the challenges of platforms such as GÜO and Verbolia during this evolution both from the perspective of customers (brands) and the needs they have, as well as how they have evolved their platforms and services to be able to cover all these needs. What have been the main challenges?
Pierre: As I said, the competition is bigger and bigger in SEO and for our clients it is more and more difficult to beat the competition from the big players in e-commerce because everybody in SEO is now going to compete on the top-tail keywords. We can see it in a SERP. If you search for top-tail keywords, like “women’s shoes” (a very classic example) you can see a lot of pages very well optimized for “women’s shoes”, everybody is going to work for that kind of keywords because they are very big, I mean there are millions of searches and then everybody competes for them. When you go to analyze the pages, you see that all of them have a very good quality in terms of content, speed, etc. In the end, it’s hard to know which page Google is going to choose for the top of the SERPs. In the end, it is the authority and branding of the website that will win. This means that the big brands like Amazon or Bol.com or the biggest brands in each country will be at the top of the SERPs and it is very difficult for medium sized e-commerce to win. That’s what Verbolia is all about. We have a platform that helps e-commerces compete with the big players in the industry in the long-tail keywords because there is much less competition in the long-tail. That’s how we help our clients because it’s not possible to win against Amazon and other companies like them in the top-tail. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for our clients today in SEO for e-commerce.
Daniel: How can we handle the decrease in search volume when working with longtail keywords that are likely to have lower search volumes than potentially broader, more generic keywords? As you say, long tail keywords may have lower competition but they also have lower search volume. So how do we strike this balance between generating high volume for e-commerce by working with long tail keywords?
Pierre: The problem of the longtail is that each page, each keyword will bring few visits. So, the only solution is to attack a lot of longtail words. The problem is that it’s difficult to create many pages that have good quality for all the long-tail keywords. That’s why the solution is automation with platforms like Verbolia or others. You have to automate, it is not possible to go longtail without optimizing the pages as in the aspect of speed and content that is optimized for each keyword. That’s why you have to work with artificial intelligence, with machine learning, with NLP algorithms to generate or choose content if you want to beat the big brands, it’s the only possibility.
Daniel: Absolutely. Moving on to Javier, from the point of view of a technological platform such as GÜO, what are the challenges that this digital evolution has represented for you?
Javier: I found very interesting and very correct the comment that Pierre made before about the adaptation of not so much the companies to the digital transformation but to the objectives that these companies have. I think that now that there is so much knowledge and players in the technology sector, obviously we speak in a slightly more local environment and Verbolia from a more e-commerce environment. I think you have to take into account and above all analyze what the customer’s objective is to know how to reach those expectations. I think that many times with the amount of information and I think that many times it is overinformation that leads to being uninformed. The important thing is to know the objectives of the business and meet the expectations of its users. Our main challenge has been to adapt our solution (because it continues to adapt every day) to the needs of different clients. When GÜO started it wasn’t what it is now and obviously in a few years it won’t be what it is today. I think that above all this ability to adapt is what is putting a broader challenge because not only the adaptation to the needs of users but also to the competition that exists in the digital sector and also to be able to be at the level of solutions that are offering other large or small brands because we are seeing solutions that do not need a budget but a capacity for automation and interesting scaling.
I have seen that one of the most important parts is to know what the user is really looking for, what they are trying to find when they navigate in the local ecosystem of Google Business Profile tabs, when they enter the web portals to search for information. It is necessary that the experience is optimal and above all that the content is optimal. I think that the typical phrase “content is king” is becoming very important, but it is not just any content. They have been talking about inbound marketing for many years and I think that although it sounds very atopic but I think that offering relevant content, quality and at the right time and personalized for each user really is a challenge because you not only have to look your business objective directly in the eyes, but you also have to think about what the user wants to find, often you have to put yourself in the shoes of others is complicated.
And challenges can be seen in different ways. For us it has also been a challenge in terms of opportunities. We are generating endless opportunities with this digital transformation and the situations that we have experienced due to the pandemic and it is also the possibility to continue growing, to continue scaling our product while we are making room for all the business opportunities that arise. One of the challenges in relation to the comment made by Pierre, obviously the most traffic will be dominated by large companies that you can not compete with them in terms of very generic keywords that direct a lot of traffic to the web but if we can work on the local part which is the discovery, that you are found by any other term that is not branded, In a local environment, taking into account the proximity and relevance of the user and taking into account that all searches have a very important component of geolocation, I think that small companies will have a small chance to compete, especially using local searches and the intention of discovery search.
Daniel: Sure, I think that’s exactly what I found very interesting about Javier’s point about how small companies can compete with the big players in terms of positioning and I think that’s one of the great advantages and benefits that organic positioning offers, which doesn’t necessarily have to do with the big budget that different companies and brands may have, but rather how willing they are to optimize their product cards, their local cards, in terms of SEO, how we optimize each of the pages. In addition, in the case of platforms like GÜO, I think they also have the great challenge that they have to adapt directly in a certain way to the rules of the “big brother” Google, who is constantly changing the rules. I would also like to know here how they adapt to the changes in the rules of the game that Google suddenly imposes as a positioning platform?
Javier: Obviously that is a factor that we take into account, apart from following all the algorithm changes and see the metrics that may be affecting. Above all, what we try to do at GÜO is to bring the technology that is closest to the moment of the click. I think the most important thing is to add value. I think that taking into account the user experience is one of the most important things, that above all you have to know where you are playing and what reach you can have. That’s why I was talking about user expectations.
When we talk about the local ecosystem, we have to be very clear that they will never be able to compete with big brands like Amazon, but the local part, the relevance, the proximity, those searches that are becoming more and more local and that local searches usually lead to an action. At the end of the day when you’re searching for something on Search or Maps that has a local trigger, it usually leads to an action. So, we try to play with those factors that can give us that relevance that maybe a big company wouldn’t have. We have seen that for large companies, many of the search terms they have are direct search terms because the user knows them. In small companies we work mainly on the topic of relevance by engagement, reviews, the whole display part of the Google Business Profile and the whole part of discovery content in which proximity plays a more important role than perhaps the relevance of the brand.
Daniel: Totally in line with your comments Javier, I think they are quite accurate and with this in relation to what are the SEO strategies, we as t2ó have seen and done with different clients that SEO strategies can increasingly come to have a participation of greater importance and relevance. I remember a few years ago when we were working on global digital strategies with the big brands that we have had the opportunity to work with, we got to work on SEO strategy, but
From this point of view I would like us to see where do you think SEO is heading in the coming times, months and years to come, where do you think SEO strategies for geolocation and in general for organic positioning are heading, what do you think are the next steps we should follow?
Javier: I think there is one very important thing that has been said for a long time and that is that search engines and especially Google are getting smarter and smarter. What I think is that it’s the same for e-commerce. In the end you access e-commerce through a search engine but really once you enter e-commerce, it becomes another environment where the user can have another experience.
I think that just as the experience is being hyper-personalized for these search algorithms, it should also be hyper-personalized on any platform both on the local side and on the e-commerce side. Also this goes hand in hand with the development of artificial intelligence and voice searches.
As I said before, SEO has always seemed to me a super relevant element. As you said Daniel, before it did not seem a necessary thing “a must” and now every time with digitization is seen that companies can compete because they depend on a crawl budget that in the end is a bit fictitious and those teams, creativity and ability to generate content, to attract and enamour the user. I think that’s the most important thing and above all a topic that is very important for GÜO: Searches are becoming more local every day and I think that big companies, e-commerce and any big player will have to rely as much as possible on that local context and on the offline world, something that we thought was going to be disconnected. In this case we have some great examples of e-commerce in which you search for a product on Google and depending on the proximity you have with a store, it tells you if it is available in that store, if it is available in the store next door and gives you recommendations depending on where the user is looking for it. I find this support of the local world with the support of the digital world and especially the “mobile first” very interesting. Finally, to conclude, the 360 strategy is important. Obviously you don’t have to be everywhere if it’s not necessary, but in the end that presence generates authority, relevance, reach and I think it’s also very important in the SEO strategy for all brands.
Daniel: Perfect, very interesting this perspective and I would also like to know, Pierre from your side, where do you think SEO is heading in the coming years in e-commerce? Where do you think are the new trends in positioning?
Pierre: SEO is going where the big players are not on the one hand, but also where the technology is going because everything is going with more automation, more analytics, more quality, always with the goal of relevance. In the end, all Google wants is relevance because the reason Google has users is because people find what they want to find on Google. “Back to the basics.”
SEO is changing, just saying “I’m going to write a 500 word description for X keyword and that’s SEO” is not correct. Maybe 5-10 years ago that was fine but today that’s not going to survive in SEO. You need creativity to find new keywords and find ways to have good quality pages for all keyword combinations (which can be very large numbers). SEO is aimed at more automation but with one goal in mind: More relevance.
To get back to the topic you have discussed about algorithm changes, etc., it is important to know why Google is going to change algorithms. Google changes them to be more relevant. In the end if you always focus on relevance, everything will be fine. If someone searches for “blue adidas womens shoes,” if you can show a page that has “blue adidas womens shoes” you have a good chance that page is going to rank well.
Daniel: Perfect. The truth is that I’m quite excited because from my perspective, I’ve been working for several years in SEO strategy and I remember perfectly well that before SEO was something that was worked in a very artisanal way, very manual, where you had to get directly into the code of the pages of the sites to make modifications and optimizations, generate text, etc… I love it now and I’m very excited about this new generation of platforms that have emerged and little by little I’m sure they will evolve much more and completely agree with Pierre of what you said about automation. It will be increasingly necessary as technology brands grow to have more automated processes to be able to have a positioning will be a key point in the coming years for SEO positioning. As you say, always be looking for relevance because the user is going to be looking for brands. I find it very interesting this point you make about looking for relevance based on automation and it is something that excites me and I want to live in the coming years to know what else is coming at the level of platforms and automation.
Daniel: Going back a step, I would like to discuss what are the best practices that you as experts and professionals in the digital marketing sector in general and especially SEO positioning from different perspectives, what are the best practices that brands can start implementing if they want to get on this organic positioning in e-commerce, local or in general.
Pierre: For me, the most important thing (I talk to many e-commerce and SEO experts every day) is “back to the basics”. It’s amazing how many people don’t go back to basics, many put very complicated tools but in the end when you have optimized a page for a specific keyword, you just have to look at the page you have made and ask yourself “if I am searching for this keyword, does my page answer what I am looking for or not? In the end, that’s not complicated at all, what’s complicated is generating pages with high quality at scale but I think the most important thing is to ask yourself if the content answers the user’s question, if the page has quality content, is it easy to read, is it fast. “Back to the basics” is the most important thing.
Daniel: 100% agree with Pierre. Javier, what are the best practices that you can recommend to big brands?
Javier: I agree with Pierre. I think the “back to basics” is important but I also think it is very important to reimagine what is possible. I think that sometimes we have concepts that can be very based on our knowledge, on time, on the tools we use, the company we work for, and I think that reimagining in a world where everything is changing, where new tools and technologies are constantly appearing, it is necessary to keep an open mind.
Then the focus is on engagement through customer journeys that can be more and more complex and provide those experiences that are not only visual, but also contextual and content experiences that are interesting and engaging for users. Also, I think with the whole cookieless thing, I think it’s very important to be able to adapt to new changes that may come up and become more creative. Obviously the cookieless environment is where maybe we don’t have as much information from the users, it can fail us in what would be the achievement of some campaigns or some objectives that have been decided. But as I said before, I think reimagining, rethinking and getting creative is a very important thing.
Then, for the topic of SEO, as Pierre said, I find it very interesting not to make things more complex than they are. In the end, what Google wants is to show the most relevant result for that user with the data it has about the user and the data it has about where the user is going to find that information. So, I think that basically it is very important to keep a clear objective, know what you want to achieve and above all be able to adapt. Blogging and content marketing is still a “must” and well, the whole part of SEO techniques, SEO on page, you could talk about 1000 things that are important.
Finally, I think one of the most important things is to take advantage of relevant metrics to build those loyalty programs or actions with users because not only seo focused on finding new users but also SEO focused on keeping the ones you have with relevant content, attractive and focused on the searches and the objective that both users and the company have.
Daniel: Perfect Javier, in line with your comments. I think the key point that we have been discussing in this podcast is how to find this relevance. Being relevant not only for users but also for different platforms, in different environments (mobile/ desktop), local environments, social.
Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. The truth is that it has been a very enriching conversation to be able to be in line with all the new trends that surround SEO positioning and how technological platforms play a fundamental and key role in what is going to come for the next few years on the subject of positioning.
I just want to thank Javier and Pierre for their participation in this Podcast. With this we are closing this episode of Digital Meets by t2ó mexico. See you soon in the next episode of Digital Meets by t2ó.
About t2ó: With permanent offices in Europe, Latin America and the United States, t2ó is a marketing company that provides full digital solutions to its clients. It designs, manages and delivers optimized cross-channel marketing strategies to leading brands around the world.