The Evolving State of AI Search

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There's a lot going on with search and the effects of AI, and no-one's sure where it's all headed! One voice of reason is this week's guest, Luke O'Leary, who emphasizes the fundamentals of search marketing that won't change: good UX and optimization, understanding your audience, solid content, and testing.

Luke and host ⁠Will Francis⁠ look at how the role of an SEO is changing, the latest E in Google E-E-A-T, how TikTok works as a search platforms, the partnership between Google and Reddit, where AI might take the search sector and how to prepare for it.

⁠Luke O'Leary⁠ is VP of Media Strategy & Operations at Neil Patel Digital, EMEA. He also tells us about his career and the interesting differences he's seeing between marketing and the world or work, having moved from California to London.

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Podcast Transcript

Will (00:06)
Welcome to Ahead of the Game, a podcast brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute. I'm your host, Will Francis, and today we'll be talking to Luke O 'Leary, Vice President, Media Strategy and Operations at NP Digital, the global ad agency founded by Neil Patel. Luke's specialism is SEO, with a deep background in the topic.

and now working for one of the most renowned companies in the field. We'll talk about search as it is today and really how we're gonna need to adapt as it changes in the future as far as we can tell. We've had quite a few of Luke's colleagues on our podcast and webinars, including Neil himself in the past and they've always been great conversations. So Luke, it's great to have you on the podcast. How are you doing?

Luke (00:50)
I'm doing great. It's great to join you here today, Will.

Will (00:52)
Good, yeah, good to have you. So just give us a bit of background, just tell me what you're actually working on there at NP Digital at the moment.

Luke (01:02)
That's a big question, there is a lot that we're working on at any given time. A big part of what I'm doing is helping the agency understand the strategy we have towards organic search, but search as a whole, and how we're going to move towards the future. And that's a big topic now. Everyone's talking about AI and how AI is going to affect search, but also how everyone's behavior towards the facets of search are changing each year. A few years ago, when TikTok first came out, everyone thought it was a social media platform. Now it's becoming more of a search platform, especially for the younger generations.

So we're working on just understanding how to keep our client partners best connected to their audience and better connected than their competitors.

Will (01:39)
And when you say people, you said like people are using it differently or people's attitudes to it are changing? And do you mean the users or do you mean brands or both?

Luke (01:49)
It's both. I think the users definitely take the lead in that. They're constantly changing the way that they have expectations around the web and they influence how the web is presented. Brands are a little bit behind that trying to play catch up. A big part of what I'm doing is helping these brands be ahead of that, be aligned with what their users are expecting around the web and the interactions that they're expecting: from ranking in search and then clicking on that result and ending up on the page, making sure that experience aligns with what the user expected, but also what the user expects from the web experience as a whole.

Will (02:19)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. But I mean, everyone's portal into the web still, as it was 20, 25 years ago, remains a search engine, which is primarily Google. You know, that's where a lot of web sessions start, right? So do you see that changing?

Luke (02:37)
Yeah, I think it's also changing right now. You know, before I'd say up until TikTok came out, no one was using any other search engine predominantly. You know, there were other search engines like Bing, but they're all just search engines. Then TikTok started becoming more of a search engine, but through a social platform. And that was massive. Now with the rise of AI, both through SGE, but other companies like ChatGPT, we're getting answer engines that are great ways to get information. So it's going to change how people interact with the web depending on what kind of information they want.

The recommendation to get a product is very different than the understanding of how to utilize that product or to find out what products they need to act as a solution for a problem they have

Will (03:16)
Yeah, true. Have you seen those ads? Because you're based in London, aren't you? And have you seen those ads on the tube that TikTok are running at the moment? And it's like, it shows a search box and it's like running for beginners and there's like people running in the background. Have you seen that? Those?

Luke (03:30)
I haven't seen that, but I've heard about them. I think that's a great idea because they're pushing the idea of it being a search engine to get your information from. And it's really interesting, especially I encourage anyone to talk to the more junior members of the staff, ask them how they find out information to do things for cooking, for running, for beginners, getting to a new hobby. A lot of them say they'll go to TikTok first, especially with travel and tourist information. A lot of people are utilizing TikTok as a more visual engine to allow them to understand what they want to get up to when they go to a new destination.

Will (03:32)


Yeah, I mean, I had that experience recently. I was, I don't live in London anymore. So I was going to go to London and take my oldest son. And I needed to find some nice places to eat in central London, just to update myself on where, where to go. And I actually didn't go to Google first as I would have done. I did go to TikTok because I knew if I go to Google, I'm going to get like, you know, no disrespect to Time Out and the Londonist and those kinds of, but you know, you, you, you know, you're to have to wade through like,

the 100 best restaurants in London. It's like reams of text. And you know, if you just search TikTok, you're going to get two or three videos are going to give you a nice little rounded summary. You'll be able to see the food, see what it's like to be in that restaurant. It's all shot on the phone. So it's easy to relate to. You can imagine what it's like. Um, it's so much, it's just quicker. It's just a better user experience, right?

Luke (04:48)
Yeah, most definitely. It feels genuine as well. I think a lot of people are having this counter reaction towards being sold to for so long. People don't like to be advertised to. So a lot of the complaints I've heard and Google's acknowledges it that sometimes the search results seem gamified. It seems that it's just brands selling you something, their affiliate links. And what people found from TikTok or micro influencers was that a genuine experience, a genuine review, which is actually a big thing that Google is implementing to their search results, is they just released recently, they partnered with Reddit.

Will (05:03)

Luke (05:17)
so they can have a Reddit database API so they can bring in more of that results to the search engine. Because they were finding when people were making searches for specific reviews, they were normally putting the term Reddit at the end of it because they wanted to see what real people had to say about this. They didn't want to see what Timeout or the Londonist had to say about it because they know that those are influenced by people paying for those positions. They want to see what real people, what average people or people like them that are interested in things that they are interested in have to say about these locations or product reviews.

Will (05:28)

Now that's interesting, isn't it? Because that is counter to some of the narrative around AI. So the promise of AI is you'll get this really organized information. Whereas actually, it turns out people just like to kind of almost like go in the pub and just eavesdrop what people are saying, you know, or, you know, which is what Reddit is. You just walk into this place, it's messy. There's just this guy thinks that and she thinks that, but there's something about our brains. We're really well engineered.

to consume that information and organize it and interpret it for ourselves. So I don't know, it's tough to know which way it's gonna swing because will people respond to this, these really organized AI-generated summaries of everything? I don't know. What do you think?

Luke (06:30)
I think they need both. And I love that analogy. I'm going to steal it. That is a perfect way to describe Reddit because most people are just lurking. They're going into the pub and eavesdropping. But I think we need, we're social creatures. We need that social credibility to understand what people are enjoying so we can say, okay, this is worth my time or my money and my investment. But what AI is really doing is it's getting an amalgamation of everything that's out there and just putting in a succinct or truncated format for us to digest. And that's really important because a lot of these AI platforms are looking through social platforms to understand

brand sentiment, understand reviews and what people are saying, but also so they can get a grouping of these reviews and give it to you in a very small format and then encourage you to go looking deeper if you want to.

Will (07:11)
I did hear about the Reddit and Google thing, but I just haven't had a chance to check it out. Tell me what that partnership is about and how it will actually look in search.

Luke (07:21)
So it's very similar to Google's partnership with Twitter (X) in that they can have an API into the direct data which is happening. So Google can crawl it on a more frequent basis, but also index more of that content. And so when Google is looking to evolve search, as it always is, and specifically the search engine result pages, you have these now little toggles or filters at the top. They've introduced one now that just says Reddit. If you were to search for dresses, you know that you can have black dresses, long dresses, slim dresses, one will be Reddit reviews.

Will (07:43)

Luke (07:48)
So you can click on that and it'll just show results from Reddit about the conversations that are happening about what you're looking for. So if you were looking for new information about your favorite football team to understand how people really feel about the trades that just happened, choosing that so you can understand the Reddit discussions that are going on and having a better search window into what people are really saying.

Will (08:08)
Yeah, yeah, that's cool, isn't it? Because you're right, we've seen that over the last few years, just like the word Reddit appended onto search results showing that people want that content, they trust it, and it is about trust. Do you think people will come to trust the AI summaries and AI reformatted content?

Luke (08:31)
It It depends on the people. I mean, right now, you and I use it a lot. So we know there's hallucinations, there's issues that come up, there's bad data. And so you have to be very careful in what you do take it and trust it as. I think a lot of general users that are getting introduced to the platforms that aren't aware of these hallucinations tend to overly trust it and therefore utilize that information a little bit more single-handedly. We have those great examples around the world news, such as that lawyer that wrote his whole case around information given to him by ChatGPT, which...

it happened to be hallucinations, it made up cases. So he went into the courtroom and referenced cases that didn't exist. So we have to be very careful, but I think it's a great starting, in the current state, it's a great starting point to do our research and to look for it to summarize the information that's out there for us. But we should always push each other to keep researching, making sure that it's citing its sources, making sure that these sources are correct.

Will (09:20)
Yeah. You know, the way you're talking about it, I'm wondering if, you know, like an SEO agency or the SEO function of an agency, is that going to start encompassing stuff other than search engines then? You know, is the discipline of SEO broadening?

Luke (09:35)
That is great. It is. I think if we talk about SEO, a search engine, what a search engine is, the parameters are definitely shifting. It's not just Google or organic search engines like Bing. It's focusing on AI search, so the return of that, and social search, and understanding how brands are being shown in each of these three different segments or avenues. And for AI specifically, it's understanding how the brand is being shown or talked about, making sure that's a positive sentiment.

Will (09:53)

Luke (10:04)
or when it's being recommended, it's being recommended in relevant areas.

Will (10:08)
I wonder how SEO veterans are going to feel about that, about that kind of widening of their brief. Some might be excited about that because there's something else to think about, social search. And some might be like, no, that's not SEO. That's not what I've been doing for the last 15 years. So I don't know. What do you think?

Luke (10:26)
I mean, I think a lot of people hate change. So a lot of old school veterans are going to refuse to call that SEO and they're going to give it to some other type of acronym. I think the ones that are really focused in on growth and bringing new ideas to this space and understand that everything's evolving. We can't just think that it's going to stay linear forever into this stagnated state. They understand that search is evolving, user behavior on the web is evolving, and to be successful in marketing, we have to evolve with it. And we have to follow these evolutions and understand where it's moving to so we can best connect with our audiences.

Will (10:28)

Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, God, I mean, don't work in digital marketing if you don't like change. That's what I always tell people, right? I mean, potato farming hasn't changed a lot, I imagine. There are certain things that probably haven't changed a lot for hundreds of years, but I'm afraid, yeah, digital marketing changes every week, doesn't it?

Luke (11:00)
That's very true.

It does, and I think I read an interesting question recently, it was what has changed the most in the last 10 to 15 years? It was actually a Reddit thread, and people were writing down what they felt changed tremendously, but the real answer was almost everything. Most things don't stand still, they don't stagnate. And so to stay on the top edge of things to have a competitive advantage. You need to evolve with it and keep your ear to the ground to understand how are people changing their influence or behavior with your product, and how can you best connect to that.

Will (11:39)
Well, I imagine part of your brief there, your job there at NP Digital is to have your ear up to the ground and stay up to date with things. What are your favorite ways to do that just out of interest?

Luke (11:50)
Oh, I mean, listen to podcasts, listen to people like yourself, interview people so I can get a better understanding of other people's perspectives. You know, I think digital marketers sometimes tend to have a very narrow their self view on a lot of things when we need to talk with many people in the industry as possible, get their insights to see what they're coming up with. Twitter is still, while not the best case that it used to be, is still a great way to see what people have, what people are talking about. I mean, this is why Google utilizes it.

in its own databases just because it has such a massive database of people talking and giving their opinions. I love things on YouTube, TikTok, reading people's blogs. I mean, Neil Patel's blog, I talk to Neil himself all the time about where he's bringing search and where he thinks is going to. These conversations to me have been very valuable just to understand what I should be thinking inside or even outside.

Will (12:14)

That's interesting. Yeah, no is is his newsletter remains one that I always open because there's always something good in there. Right. Okay, so How does this all this change we're talking about affect the role of organic content. Let's take organic content on websites really. That's what I'm talking about You know classic SEO is technical content and off page

and content's a big part of it, you basically write loads of content about your subject area and you come up in more and more searches and you create loads of organic traffic. It's sometimes referred to as doing a HubSpot, isn't it? Or even doing a Neil Patel, right? Is that tactic alive and well? Is it still a viable one? Will it remain a viable one, do you think?

Luke (13:30)
I think forever content on websites will be a massive part of everyone's strategy. I think your website for any brand is essentially an API into your brand, no matter where it's being shared out through different platforms. And therefore most of these other marketing channels, whether it's through AI or social media, normally tries to drive back to your website. And a big part is interacting with your website. And so having organic keep ranking in these editorial pieces of content or changing the parameters on what you're saying is content created on my website needs to evolve.

when the web evolves. But that's a big thing. And I'll bring recipe into this because organic recipes have evolved tremendously in the last 10 years. They went from nice little short recipes to these massive bloated pages where you learn about how someone's grandfather met someone in Italy who gave them a recommendation to add something to their cheesecake. And most people don't care to that, which is why the UX feature `jump to recipe' has been unbelievably amazing. And with the web evolving and the way that people's attention spans are changing and their expectations of the internet, our content needs to change as well.

Will (14:15)
I'm sorry.

Luke (14:30)
Here at NP Digital with Neil himself, we've been doing a lot of experiments with shorter based content, how that shorter content appears in both AI platforms, but also how Google is taking that into the rankings.

think about how Google is changing its search engine results pages, it's focused on changing it for a better experience for the user. And that's all SGE is going to be, a better experience for the user. So it's understanding how we're going to change our content to be a better experience. And so that aligns also with the experience Google is trying to give as a recommendation. So we're showing up and then being interacted with.

Will (15:02)
Oh, interesting. So you think that Google's listening to this kind of peeve, this pet peeve that people have about SEO optimized content, like you say, you want the recipe for the muffin and you get like the 3000 word history of the muffin. So you think Google's responding to that and actually rewarding some shorter content.

Luke (15:22)
I think it's moving in that way. I think they're realizing there's certain types of queries and intents that need longer form content, and they'll happily give it to that, but there's some that doesn't. I mean, that's why the quick-answer Featured Snippet came out to begin with, because the experience that users wanted was just the answer. They didn't want to read or look through a whole bunch of articles to find that out. That's why SGE is going to become a big thing, is because users want to not search through five different tabs to understand all the information each one has, is looking for a summary, and if they want more information, they can do that themselves, or they can start conversing with the platform.

Will (15:34)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Yes, and just for listeners' benefit, we're talking about Search Generative Experience (SGE), Google's new search experience. It's live in quite a lot of territories around the world, and where you get an AI summary at the top of the search results page, and also the ability to chat with that AI and ask it things about the results. There's a guide to that that we've created at the DMI and show notes. There'll be a link in the show notes for that.

Yeah, so that's interesting, isn't it? Because when featured snippets launched a decade ago, website owners, content writers really worried that was it. Right, we're not going to get any traffic. People are going to get the answer on the SERP, search engine results page. And then now we've got a similar sort of conversation going on. Like, what's the point? If people can just sort of get these AI snapshots (with SGE), then...

What's the point? What is the point? What are you telling people is the point?

Luke (16:53)
That's a great question. And just like the fear everyone had when featured snippets were coming out or the knowledge panel got introduced, traffic is going to reduce, right? But it's traffic that maybe wasn't necessarily yours. You were just able to opportunistically take it. And the point is still to create content to give an experience to users to connect with them. One of the best things that Google ever came out with was that paper on the Messy Middle telling us that as the web has evolved, so has the purchase journey for anyone that has gotten a trigger to make a purchase into deciding on that purpose.

or sorry, purchase. And a big part of that was in this middle section, where they're constantly exploring what brands or solutions that they have and evaluating which ones they're going to go with. And now that this section is where we really have to show up with, and so SGE, the search generative experience becomes a big part of Google search and it's shown a lot more on any given search result, we have to just make sure our experiences align with how users are interacting with that parts of the platform to be given as a result. But then when they're actually...

choosing to click on our website or go to our website, now UX becomes even more important because the experience that we're having on our sites becomes a real value. And that's how, if we're getting less traffic, we need to make it up and keep our conversions the same or more by giving a really good experience. And it's something both Neil and myself have talked about for years is focusing in on the UX of your website. And people understand they have to do it. Maybe they say they don't have the resources, their time.

and it's being devalued because a lot of the times clients come to us and they want to work on things. One of the first things we work on is their UX of their website because it's outdated because they put in the resources five years ago. The internet has changed drastically from five years before.

Will (18:20)

Yeah, true. I mean, it's the leaky bucket analogy, you know, don't go to the well with a leaky bucket and the same applies having a crap website. Like don't, don't worry. Don't worry about tactics for driving traffic to that. Get, get the website straight first. Um, and also, as you say, Google punishes poor UX. Um, hang on. So this messy middle bit, let's go back to that. That's, that was Google talking about that very complex middle of.

funnel or middle of customer journey bit where people are just having loads of touch points. They're really potentially very much taking their time thinking about, do I need a coffee machine? What kind of coffee will I get for this? Do I have counter space for this? Is it healthy? And you know, loads of sort of questions that fire off in a million different directions. Is that the kind of gist of it? Yeah.

Luke (19:13)
It's exactly that. I recommend everyone that hasn't read it, go read the white paper they put out on the messy middle. It's amazing. I think it's about 94 pages. If you want a summary, they made a summary on Think with Google or, you know, use ChatGPT to summarize the whole thing for you. But it is exactly that. It's that going down the funnel is no longer just, I have a question, I have a want, I have a purchase. It's that middle stage people are really spending time with and going back and forth because there's so many options on the web to get different inputs. Those different inputs are not just on Google search. They're throughout the whole web.

Will (19:23)
Yeah, exactly.

Luke (19:42)
They're starting on Google search, but then they're going to TikTok and then they're coming back to Google search and understanding how your audience really jumps between channels and how much influence each of these channels has before they make a purchase that might be attributed to Organic is really important in understanding your marketing funnel.

Will (19:45)

Yeah, no, I get that. It's interesting. I mean, I spoke to Nikki Lam there at NP Digital about this. She talked about SGE basically being featured snippets on steroids. And it does feel like the kind of the next generation of that thing, doesn't it? And whilst, yes, there are reasons for someone not to click through to websites.

Ultimately, it's the people, it's the sites that have turned up with the best content that get exposed there and seen there. Do you think that's the, that's ultimately the sort of size of the prize? It's having that presence in those snapshots.

Luke (20:44)
I think presence is gonna be a big part, it's that brand awareness. But you said a really good part there, I like the best content. And people always come to me and say, I have the best content in my space, I don't know why I'm not ranking. And normally people have a really bad view on what their content really is, they need to take a step back and objectively look at it. Most times they don't have the best content. And then people say, well, what is the best content? How can I make the best content? I say everything my competitors say, and right there, that's the crux of it. You didn't make the best content, you just said everything your competitors say.

Will (20:48)

Luke (21:13)
SGE or ChatGPT and the AI platform is doing the same thing They're looking at those top 10 results or hundreds of results and saying this is what they all say So to just show up in these different AI platforms to  make the best content, you need to be giving it additional information Now the late Bill Slosky talked about this a lot He talked about this great pattern around information gain. For those that are unfamiliar with information gain What it is is adding new information into the database of our subset

Will (21:29)

Luke (21:40)
of different articles, meaning if you have 10 articles about a topic and they all normally are going to cover the same parts, your additional information, whether you're bringing it from your perspective, additional statistics or study or data, that additional information is information gain. And Google, there's a few patents that possibly information gain might give you a ranking increase or into your ranking score. So a big part with AI being able to be shown as a brand that has a different value or a different term to be quoted as, if they've already summarized what...

10 articles say about this topic, but you're the only one that brings a new piece of data from it. It'll say, this brand says, like, Neil Patel says, or they have found in their surveys and studies, this has happened in this space. So I keep really advising a lot of the client partners we work with, and anyone that looks to me for advice is bringing that IP data. That's what makes your content the best content. And people really freak out because, like, we don't have this big company. We're not LinkedIn. We can't make all these different surveys and white papers. But you don't need that.

Will (22:29)


Luke (22:35)
If you have Google Analytics installed, if you look at how people are interacting with your products, you can have an insight on what needs to be created around how people are interacting with your niche. And that right there is that specific information gain that can really make your article the best piece and be more likely not only referenced by AI, but journalists and around the web to get backlinks in that external authority.

Will (22:57)
Yeah, no, it's a good point. I love to hear you talk about that because I picked up on the informational gain thing myself a year or two ago, and I just tell everybody that I talked to about this, about that, because it's so, once you think about it and you realize, well, look, if I was building a search algorithm, I would build a thing into it that looked for informational gain, because of course, especially now with like all these AI writing tools, there's like,

a thousand articles on any topic that are all essentially saying the same thing. So you need to write into the algorithm something that seeks out that new original research, even original opinion, like just original anything. But like say informational gain that brings something new to the library of the internet, as it were. Google's obviously going to reward that. But yeah, you're right, people freak out because it's it sounds like hard work.

Where do people start with that?

Luke (23:57)
Great question. And it is a bit of hard work, but that's what makes it better, right? To get the best pieces of content, it takes hard work. If you're able to just produce a piece of content, specifically if you're just producing it with AI, no wonder it's not succeeding. It isn't really that valuable. And best produces value, the value's delivered to the user. And so what I always recommend people doing to start is just look at their own analytics. Look at how people are buying their products year over year and just adjusting for the amount of traffic that they're coming in. Look at Google Trends. Ask

your own customers. Send out an email blast to do a survey and just understand how they're interacting with the space. So you can turn that into your own opinion piece or result-given feedback to say, hey, this is how people are reacting in our space. This is people's behaviors changing our space. And this is their opinions. That right there because very, very valuable.

Will (24:45)
Yeah, you're right. And I also think people really underestimate the second point you made about people back linking to that. I think a lot of people think no one's ever gonna actually take the time to backlink to my content, but it still surprises me. I mean, I don't have a particularly big audience for my website, but anytime I write about anything, I'm like, yeah, I get backlinks to it. People mention that content in their pieces from time to time. And it just happens if the content's got any value in it. You know what I mean?

Luke (25:14)
You know, it most definitely does. And I've always found, it keeps surprising me, if you put some statistics in there, any type of statistics, statistics are valuable, you know, not as much valuable as the information you're talking about is, it is really valuable in the side of getting your website out there. Journalists and publishers love to quote that because it gives a credibility. It also takes a lift off of their hands where they don't have to do that research themselves. So I always advise people in their PR teams or digital PR teams to reach out with those pieces of data and talk about those pieces of data, highlight that in the articles.

Will (25:22)

Luke (25:43)
far more likely to get a backlink around the web.

Will (25:47)
Yeah, absolutely. And it will happen. I think that's the message I try and tell people like rest assured it will happen. But yeah, and I think it goes, I think it also doesn't go back to really just understanding your audience and what they want. And that will lead you down good paths rather than just trying to make generic content. Like think about your audience, what's in their heads. The last person we spoke to in the week was Ran Fishkin. He's one of the founders of Moz and he's founded SparkToro, which is a audience research tool.

So talk to him a lot about that. And there's tools like SparkToro, today where you can absolutely learn loads about your audience, what they're into, what's very specific aspects of that that they're into and really tailor your content to them. And that will probably point you towards more specific informational gain content and away from the generic. I think that's a big thing for me.

Luke (26:40)
No, it really is. And SparkToro's a great tool to be able to do that. And I think we should never think we understand our audience completely. We should always be reevaluating to understand how are they moving, how are they changing, and get another look. One of the exercises we do at NPD as well is always get external reference points from other team members to get new fresh perspectives. And that's what we should do as marketers. And it's harder with an in -house team because you don't have this wide set of employees, but then you can make connections or networking.

Will (26:48)
True. Yeah.

Luke (27:07)
into the industry so you can get those additional perspectives. Go to different conferences, join webinars, listen to people like you and I talk, and then challenge those people right out to them. Reach out to them on LinkedIn just to get their opinions and say, how do you think about my marketplace? Because you probably don't have a full view of how your audience is actually interacting, or they're interacting in a way that you haven't fully uncovered.

Will (27:28)
Yeah, that's true that I meet a lot of people who they think they know their audience, but they haven't really checked in for like three or four years, you know, and that's very common. So you're absolutely right about that. It's interesting thinking about research and statistics. I think that's, that is an interesting way to create something new. I mean, one of my favorite things to do with ChatGPT is just like feeding it spreadsheets of stuff. So one of the things my...

people who come to my workshops really love to see is this very simple hack where you basically go to this site called and you can download a spreadsheet of any individual TikTok or Instagram users, videos with all the stats on those videos, likes, comments, includes a transcript, includes a written description, hashtags, everything, right? In one massive spreadsheet. And you just feed that to ChatGPT and just say,

You know, tell me about how this user succeeds. Tell me what hashtags they use in the most popular content. Tell me what their content pillars are. Tell me at what point, you know, what, what kind of videos started to kind of like make their channel take off. You can just ask it anything. And so there's, there's these amazing sources of data coupled with AI where you could actually just, in that example, you could just start unpacking how this or that famous creator does what they do. And that's.

original research. No one's probably said those things in that detail. Put it on in an article, right? So I think, yeah, what I'm saying is I try and steer people away from using ChatGPT is just like a click a button, get an article type thing. And actually it's the data analysis where you can actually create some really cool research.

Luke (28:56)

Yeah, and that's a really good point. I think a lot of people, especially the start of 2023, were freaking out that ChatGPT was going to take everyone's jobs. And I know part of that was just written to exploit the whole situation where get a lot of clicks for an article to say it was taking everyone's jobs. But some people were generally afraid that it was going to replace or excited that they were going to have to hire less staff. But that's not what it is. It's a tool for people to be more efficient and more productive and be able to expand their skillset. So just like you were saying, to be able to do massive data analyses.

Will (29:17)


Luke (29:37)
We can give that then to our content team who's very into the content but doesn't have a data background to be able to utilize this as their subset. It's essentially everyone now having a personal assistant that has the access to the web that is much quicker than a normal human being, but also sometimes hallucinates.

Will (29:50)

Yeah, it does. Yeah. But that's why I think I trust it more with like spreadsheets and like structured data. Like, like another thing I got it to do was I had a list of a database of like a couple of thousand people in a spreadsheet. And I said, you know, basically mark out which ones are probably male and which ones are probably female based on their names. To do that manually would take you ages. And there's no machine that can help you with that. But now we've got language models that can understand language and go, is that probably a man's name or a woman's name? Then.

it can do it with, I would say 99 % accuracy from the results I looked at. So you're right, it's like having this kind of data analyst intern type person potentially, isn't it?

Luke (30:32)
Yeah. And one of the other things that you just reminded me of is recently people have been using language models to simulate what it would be like to give a massive survey to get qualitative data. So they're starting to utilize it to, cause I'm getting qualitative data, like doing surveys is expensive and it's time consuming. And they're starting to find that about with a 90 to 95 % accuracy, they can do it through these language models to understand what are the brand sentiments and comparisons they have in the competitor set.

Will (30:48)

Luke (31:00)
and get a good understanding, good feeling so then they can start making other surveys coming from that they might need to dig in a little bit deeper with actual pay to person.

Will (31:09)
That's interesting. That's very interesting. What you mean, it predicts the results of surveys based on what it knows?

Luke (31:16)
Yeah, essentially you can get it to give you, and it takes a lot more time than saying, if a thousand people took the survey, what would be each of the results? But you can trigger it in a way if you set up the prompts in that you're doing a lot for many, many different outputs, so a thousand different outputs of people taking the survey itself. And this is a lot better for a ranking system where you're saying, these are the competitors in my competitor set, rank them in the order in which you like the product the most, you have the most trust in the product, the brand awareness. That's a lot better than giving it an open-ended question that says,

Will (31:28)

Luke (31:45)
Tell me what you feel about when you see this product.

Will (31:47)
Yeah, yeah, no, that makes sense. That's really interesting that. Okay, that's all very interesting. I wanna switch topic a little bit and think about, you did mention UX earlier and I'd love to talk about the sort of intersection between SEO and UX. We know that Google has talked about, you know,

experience, it's added experience on as another E. So it was all about E-A-T, expertise, authority, trustworthiness. Now it's E-E-A-T, experience, expertise, authority, trustworthiness. So they're clearly very big on experience and they're clearly very reluctant to recommend rubbish websites in their search results, right? That's basically what it comes down to, right? It rubs off on their reputation. So where are we at with that, do you think, and what...

What's the impact for marketers?

Luke (32:44)
It's a really good question. I think it's something that they're always working on. I always talk about the 2018 (Google) Medic update, which is one of the most volatile updates that has ever happened. I think the only time, if you look at a volatility index, has ever been surpassed is when the servers caught on fire in Palo Alto. It was the focus point of that people were getting upset with the Google results and that there was not a good experience given into the results. They had to make a massive change in how they were looking at E-A-T originally.

especially the authority part of giving results. Google is always focused on the user's experience, and that's what they care about the most. And they've had, up until now, the least amount of say about what the experience is after they give it to a website. And so when they start implementing experience to be part of not only a ranking factor, but pushing it onto the different websites that are utilizing Google as a system to be recommended, it becomes really important because users, they don't stop judging Google after they land on a website. That experience they're having reflects into what Google...

is giving them and Google's business. Because remember, Google's clients are not us that are web developers or creating these brands. It is the people utilizing the search. So it becomes really important for us to focus on experience and ensure that the experience of each of our users is taken care of of what they need. So all the way from aligning intent to the questions that they're asking, but also when they land on the site, that it is a good experience. And Google has quantified that recently, recently in perspective, relative terms, is that the core web vitals, you know,

Page experience of page speed is so important because users do not like to have a slow website. I mean, you and I are probably guilty of it too. You land on a website, it doesn't load in time. We get impatient, we leave, we'll go do another result. Page speed is so important. But it also connects to the experience the users are having with your brand.  Walmart found that every second of load time was 2 % conversion rate. That's massive for a website like that and a brand like that. And so then there's also things like cumulative layout shift that was introduced in Core Web Vitals. And for people that don't know, cumulative layout shift was the amount that the...

Will (34:31)
Huge, yeah.

Luke (34:40)
webpage was shifting as it loads in. And a big part of that is because people were looking to click on a website and either scroll down or interact with it, and an ad would load in, and then they're clicking on an ad, and that is a frustrating experience.

Will (34:47)

And it's all jumping about all over the place. And actually Google measures that, don't they, how those bits of the website jump about as it loads and again penalize you for that.

Luke (34:58)
Exactly. So that's the CLS, the cumulative layout score based on zero to one. And you want to keep a good score, not just because Google will give you a better ranking for it, but because users enjoy the experience of going on through your website more. And the better they enjoy your experience, the more likely they are to convert with you. And that's something we really focus on at NPD. And old SEO, and I think you have a search engine optimization is gone.

Search experience, or sorry, site experience optimization is really the future because that's what Google is really focused on. That's what AI platforms, that's what users really want is a proper experience. But it also ties to the reason people are even getting organic traffic in the first place. They're trying to fuel a business. They have another business KPI in which they're focused on. And if you can align those two and marry them a little bit tighter, it gives better results for everyone that's involved. In fact, a lot of times when we have client partners join us, we first, at our kickoff, we talk about what is...

the reason you are even coming to talk to us about digital marketing. We do this in the sales process as well. And a lot of times they say, we want more traffic. But why do you want more traffic? They want more traffic really to generate more revenue. So it's not just getting you traffic. That's not the part we're trying to do is we're trying to make an experience in which users are going to not only convert, but stay loyal and keep making return purchases or stay subscribed to your services and solutions.

Will (36:12)
So does conversion rate optimization come into it for you guys? Is that something you think about because that's within the UX bit?

Luke (36:21)
Constantly, constantly. I mean, the way I like to picture it out is we always want to get every site to what I think is the standard of the web. So we get our UX team very involved in applying best practices onto a website. And then from there, when you already have best practices installed into your site, then really looking at the CRO or conversion rate optimization of a site using real-time data. How are people interacting with these elements? And how can we customize best practices to your audience specifically? Now, Neil was involved in the founding of a company called Crazy Egg, which is click heat mapping

that allows us to, after we've made changes to a website, understand exactly how users are interacting with it, but then do tests. And what we're really focused on, what I'm really focused on as well, is nothing's ever in its finished state. We have to have this tech mindset that everything is just the beta version of what's coming next. We're at a 1 .1, we want to get to 1 .2 and continue on from there. So when we make a web page, let's test out some changes. Let's make some new things that we can create in there that can maybe take us to the next level. Or if it doesn't, if it actually, the testing says this doesn't work, but now we know, that's valuable information.

Now we know it doesn't work and it could be really, really small things. I used to work for a company, Online Guru, who was very, very focused on testing. And one of the craziest tests we ever had that I loved was changing out, we would talk about registration of your driver's license in any given state, register your car in CA, which is California, the abbreviation, or register it in California. And no one would ever think that changing CA to California would turn into a crazy conversion rate success and it did.

We got so much more revenue per month by just changing abbreviations of states to the full name, something that was just a one-off test that no one really expected much out of. And that's the mindset I want everyone listening today to really take is test everything. CRO, the purpose of it is just to keep testing, to really understand what's changing with your users and what they actually need.

Will (38:06)
It's interesting that isn't it? And I think, yeah, you're right. Like the website's never finished. I mean, look at Amazon, right? I mean, they're still AB testing, they're 25 years in. They've still not found the perfect version of Amazon, because it doesn't exist. And anyway, the consumer base is always changing. Their expectations are changing. So the goalposts are always shifting anyway. And yeah, like I say, you never kind of land on the perfect version and say, that's it, we're done.

Luke (38:30)
It's very much that. And I love that you brought up Amazon example. I think in the last 12 months, they made a big shift where they had sharp edges on a lot of their product variations, which was really surprising to me because they were the slowest to adopt rounded edges. And rounded edges is becoming more and more of a push for big tech companies, specifically Reddit. If you'll notice, they have made every single one of their buttons has rounded edges. And the reason I bring up the rounded edges is a big part in the UX field at the moment and is really being pushed on. And it's something that anyone could use for applicable knowledge into their own space.

making sure all buttons have rounded edges because historically rounded edges are softer. Us as very primitive human beings, sharp edges was always seen as danger. Cadbury did this great thing where if anyone's not familiar, Cadbury is a chocolate company that makes a chocolate bar in their classic Dairy Milk, so their normal standardized bar. They went from square edges to rounded edges and people reported it was actually  sweeter. They thought they added more sugar because of these rounded edges. We found that in our testing, rounded edges and buttons got more conversions. They got more click through.

And that was really important is this lack of hostility that this is coming for, but it also directs inwards towards the text that's inside, which is really important. So you see all these big tech companies doing these massive tests and turning towards everything rounded edges. Look at YouTube, everything they have, every button, every type of element has rounded edges. The reason I'm bringing this up in these big tech companies is because a lot of people say we don't have the resources to be able to test all this. You don't need. Look at what Amazon's doing. Look at what YouTube and Reddit are doing.

Will (39:38)

Luke (39:55)
Steal what they're doing, steal from their tests, steal from their learnings, apply that to your website. Look at how they're evaluating their own site. Look at them now and in three months, evaluate what changes they've made. I mean, take screenshots. Just look at what changes they're making so you can do the same thing. So you don't have to pour all that money and those resources into testing this out, but you can take the same learnings away.

Will (40:07)

Yes, great, great, great advice that is. Absolutely learn, you know, stand on the shoulders of giants. You know, you know, you don't have to do it all yourself. See what the absolute best in the business are doing. It's brilliant. So that's interesting. So when people come to you and yet your focus is is like, yeah, fixing the leaks, getting the house in order, right? Getting the website in order. And then it's about pointing more traffic, is it? Do you actually then?

Start to help them get more traffic once you feel like the experience is sorted.

Luke (40:47)
It's we do both at the same time. We try to keep things simultaneous in that SEO takes time and there's a bit of time that's taken to grab all this traffic to get it come in to build up the authority and the E-E-A-T. And while we're doing that, we're making sure we're giving the most out of all our resources. So we have a team of specialists, not generalists. And I think that's really important for an agency like ourselves in that no one is responsible for everything on the site because even that the case.

Will (40:49)

Luke (41:12)
you won't get that much done because you're one stretch too thin, but you are expected to know the knowledge of 20 different disciplines. So we always assign individual specialists to each account that works with them so that they can then work together in collaboration. So we can have UX initiatives running alongside the traditional SEO initiatives running alongside the social initiatives.

Will (41:32)
That's great. That's really good. Yeah, I mean, of course you'll start the traffic acquisition stuff because it takes so long. So you have to get started with that as soon as possible. I mean, I know it's a broad brush. Every client's different. What are the go -to traffic acquisition tactics that you lean on there more?

Luke (41:53)
Are you talking about in the realm of organic search or just marketing in general?

Will (41:57)
Just marketing in general, I mean, are you more about that kind of organic search content or is it also mixed with some paid?

Luke (42:06)
I think you have to be diverse, especially in the modern age. You really should diversify your resources and where you're putting time into. Now for some websites, especially people that are listening that are just starting off with their digital campaigns and they're just diving into this, probably pick one to really focus on. But for people that are more mature, they're running businesses that have a bit of resources that have invested in each of these channels, you need to be diverse. And that's not just because in case you're over-reliant on one channel, which we hear about a lot from people coming to us to work with us, but also because you're...

users are on different channels and they're being affected by different channels. But also campaigns have different needs for each of these different channels. So SEO has historically for a lot of the websites we work on being the predominant source of traffic. But we also work with many clients and maybe socials a bit more. A lot  put a lot of investment into paid. With a lot of investment in paid, they're also looking at how can they reduce their spend on paid as CPC starts to increase? Is their CPAs are skyrocketing in the last few years? And how can they really attach to a more organic standpoint with their

customer base, maybe investing more into social or connecting social and search. Because if you get too focused on just one channel, I think you become too blind and too narrow minded. And then you end up really isolating a good part of your user base or worse off your competitors will get an edge on you because they are really spreading themselves around. I think that the big thing I want to add in is just understanding when you should put a good amount of investment into each of these channels. I think that's normally when you need advice of a consultant that has done this many times before

just to get their perspective on what should we be focusing on.

Will (43:36)
Yeah, no, that makes sense. And of course, they operate at different phases of funnel, right? And those affect each other. So for instance, you might run some Instagram ads that just drive awareness. And then you see more brand searches because people don't act on the ads immediately, but they start to think, oh yeah, I might get a Stanley Cup actually, and I'll just Google it. And so do you see that through the funnel kind of trickle down?

From some of the awareness-building tactics that you deploy.

Luke (44:10)
We definitely do. And I think what you're bringing up as well has a really important point of you have to be very careful of last event or last click attribution. Too many people in their campaigns are too focused on what really brought us that purchase, not realizing that the Instagram ads at the very beginning actually gave the awareness to the cups to give awareness to your brand before then they had a question later on that also brought them to your website to be answered. And then realizing I've seen them before. I liked what they did before. That's influencing my purchase now.

Will (44:18)

Yeah, no, I was going to ask you about that because of course there's lots of research that shows that, you know, on average, I mean, research says different things from different people, but it's about 10 touch points required before someone will buy something. So that all has to happen from building awareness. People have never heard of you before all the way through that kind of messy middle and then down through conversion. How do you handle that attribution then? Because you're absolutely right. Very common mistake is people run Instagram ads, they run Google ads.

The Google ads drive all the conversions, so they're like, we switched the Instagram ads off. Little do they know that actually both were driving the whole journey. So yeah, how do you deal with attribution and working out what drove the sale and what's worth doing and what's not in that kind of journey?

Luke (45:23)
Normally we do a big investigation with our data team. It's just a line with what is the best attribution model we should be assigning to the client or to the partner we're working on. Because different models have, they each have their pros and cons. So it's a bit of figuring out which is the best fit for our client partner. And it's just being really aware of also how do our audiences for this client partner really interact with the web and which parts of the funnel are actually the most important. That becomes a big part of it. When we talk about the messy middle,

Will (45:31)

Luke (45:49)
a big part that Google talks about is so many people have different amount of touch points in which they go into and they put different amount of value on each of those touch points. And so for you and B2B, the middle of the funnel might take a long, long time and that actually might be the most important part compared to some B2C where really the awareness is actually the most important part. And so then really focusing on getting organic search to be at their forefront, answering those long tail queries, which becomes so important just to get in the first question so that you're one of those very first products that they see.

Will (45:54)

Yeah. Yeah.

Luke (46:18)
And I think that also connects back to our talk on AI. Those long tail queries become really important because those are the ones that I think AI is really good at talking about and answering to users. So when you're answering all those questions, you're more likely if someone's interacting with AI to be pushed as the brand says, this is what this brand has done. This is what NPD says about this question that you have. So you can get in that brand awareness, that initial visibility that just gets into a user to build trust.

Will (46:28)

Luke (46:46)
I mean, P &G had this great study that we were able to replicate in our own sense that brands that focus in on the funnel are five times more likely to convert than those that only focus on the conversion stage. And I think that's really, really important then to be aware of how each of these stages of the funnel actually influence the last conversion point.

Will (47:04)
Yeah, absolutely, I must look that up actually, because I need to reference stuff like that. I'm always trying to educate people about the funnel, because the way I kind of put it to people is, if you can show up when people make that first query. So think about buying a coffee machine. I don't start Googling coffee machines. I just might even start Googling how to make better coffee at home. You know, those very first explorations into like, maybe I should be drinking better coffee. I don't even know I want a machine yet. But if you show up at that point,

What you actually build up is a really unfair advantage down the bottom of the funnel because you've been there throughout that journey and your competitors are only showing up down at the bottom of the funnel when they're actually Googling like, buy coffee machine now, right? And you've got this unfair advantage because they're like, oh, there's those guys. Yeah, I've seen their blogs and reels and all sorts of stuff. And I'm definitely going to go with those guys. So I think building that unfair advantage as I think is a nice way to put it is,

is what that's all about, right?

Luke (48:05)
It most definitely is. I gotta ask now, this is the second time you've talked about coffee machines. Are you on the market for a coffee machine? Have you been doing your research to find a new coffee machine?

Will (48:13)
I actually haven't, no, it's just, it's a simple product, it's a simple product, but it has, I have bought a coffee machine a while ago, but it's just a simple product, but it has so many facets because then you've got to look into coffee. There's a million different ways to make coffee. Should you grind, you know, and all this, should you go with an espresso pods or a more kind of like barista type thing. And it's a minefield, but because it's such a rich minefield, it's one of those.

areas where there really is an opportunity for brands to show up throughout that. And I think not trying to do that is a missed opportunity.

Luke (48:49)
I think those examples you just gave are the perfect examples for building a content strategy, both if you're doing on social search or organic search and the content you're making. Those are the questions you should be asking or answering because your users are asking them. But not only that, each one that you asked right now, you could probably put in some of that information gain to each one of them about how your company specifically has seen the improvements of this, how to properly grind coffee beans, what the studies or data says behind it.

Because a lot of people don't want to read the data or the studies themselves. So if you can summarize that for them or deliver the studies that you've done, that is so powerful. And it really helps them, someone buy a new coffee machine, which is a really big decision.

Will (49:28)
It is, it is. And of course, Answer the Public can help with that as well. Find out what questions people have about it. Another product under your umbrella.

Luke (49:41)
Yeah, one we're very proud of as well. We had one of the biggest keyword databases on the web, and after we acquired Answer the Public, we have now probably more questions to be able to show from what users are actually asking across the web, which has become a big point of when we're looking to have the SGE rollout. How do we acquire more visibility? It's answering those questions. Using tools like Answer the Public, I can't recommend enough. And that's free to use for most users. Sign up, you get three free searches a day.

Will (50:03)
Yeah, interesting.

You do, you do. Do they still do the lifetime? I bought the lifetime deal shortly after Neil bought it. Do they still do that? $99.

Luke (50:15)
We do have a great subscription. Jump on it now so you can have lifetime access.

Will (50:19)
Right, yeah, because I thought that was worthwhile. Okay, so you use your own tools. It very much sounds like you actually lean on the tools that Neil Patel has acquired over the years.

Luke (50:30)
Yes, I mean, we love them. We love using them internally. But better than that is we, so we have the tools in which we show the public and we give public free access to, we actually have far more data that we don't give the public that we only use inside the agency. This privatized section that we actually make a lot of tools that are internal for the agency only. We have a huge subset of these tools to break into that data to get a better understanding of the market. That way it also gives our client partners a bigger advantage.

Will (50:39)

Luke (50:57)
when they're going against their competitors. I think this has been a massive thing for us. Really, if you looked at all our tools, what we give to the public is just the tip of the iceberg, and we hold everything that's underwater.

Will (51:08)
Yeah, nice, I like that. Yeah, I think, I don't remember if it you when we chatted or someone else from there said there's a version of UberSuggest that's quite a bit more advanced that you use for your own clients. So very interesting tactic that, it's interesting strategy, you know, from the point of view of that organization, like acquiring technology and also being a global agency. And the two obviously helping each other is smart, I like that.

Luke (51:35)
Thanks. It might have been me. I love talking about how we have our privatized version of Ubersuggest. We actually have this tech team internally. They're called the NerdHerd. Really important to note that they named themselves that. It's something they wear. They wear that with pride. The NerdHerd makes us a lot of tools that dives into the data that we have that we don't release to the public. A lot of privatized, not only the version of Ubersuggest, but a tool called Scout that we use that constantly crawls the web so we can get a log of...

Will (51:47)
I'm just going to say they're okay with that, yeah?


Luke (52:03)
all the websites that we're involved with so we can understand if any technical issues happen. But they're constantly coming up with new innovations with the rise of AI. We've making new AI tools internally that we can use to make better engagements. Now, some of those end up getting implemented to Ubersuggest. We have an AI copywriter that is now inside Ubersuggest that started off as one of those products that we were using just internally.

Will (52:19)
See you now.

Yeah. Cool. That's very cool. Look, I love hearing about, I could talk to you about this stuff all day. You're just clearly like full of information. It's great. But before we go, because I can see time's running short, I would actually love to just hear about your journey and your career. Like, how did you get into this? What was your first job in marketing?

Luke (52:45)
Thank you. That's a great question. I actually started off as an accountant, which was really surprising. And I realized I didn't have the personality, you know, the love for numbers in that way. And so I joined a very small agency back in San Diego. And from there, just taking on as much learning as I could through, I'll fast forward to the exciting part. I get to join or Neil Patel Digital. Cause I had been a big fan of Neil Patel for a long time. As most people in the marketing industry probably started off with, they started off with his content and his blogs. So be able to work alongside him,

Will (52:50)


Luke (53:15)
be able to work for the company became a massive opportunity for me. After joining with them, I was able to work with massive brands and also small brands and startups, which I love. I love working with small startups that are just trying to break in and penetrate a market. I'm a big into the David and Goliath story. I'm always taking David's side. I want to help David work in those. And so I was able to be introduced to a lot of brands that I did a lot of experimentation with. And from there, I grew both myself and my career and my knowledge that actually brought me to the conversation we're having here being based in London.

We were expanding, we're an agency that's always looking to grow and be better and perform at a bigger stage. We started a few years ago expanding into new markets. So they asked me to come out and work in the UK and expand into EMEA. And I took that in a heartbeat because that's a great experience to have. And there's so much going on in this market as well. So many great SEOs, so many great marketers, so many great agencies to compete with and so many things to be involved with. So I've come over here and we're continuously working on new brands and pushing the envelope,

to see what can we add to the marketing space. Because when I joined, one of the things Neil Patel told me was that he's always looking to just give information away for free. That's what was based off of. That's what his persona is based off of, just giving marketers information so they can compete with bigger agencies, so they can compete with bigger companies, kind of leveling the playing field. So I've kind of taken the same thing, where I love joining podcasts like this, doing webinars to give that information for free. We do that as an agency. It's just when you need help implementing,

Will (54:27)

Luke (54:43)
or getting proper direction on that strategy, that's when we come into play.

Will (54:48)
I've got to ask you as a San Diegan, a Californian, well actually you're not from California are you? You were born in... Birmingham.

Luke (54:56)
Birmingham. Yeah, that's a really good catch. I was born in Birmingham, moved over to Southern California, and now I'm back. So I'm essentially coming back to discover my roots.

Will (55:00)
That's right.

Yeah, of course. So I've got to ask you, what are the main differences in the marketing industry between the US and the UK?

Luke (55:16)
You know, I think there's a good amount of differences and there's a good amount of similarities. I find that the UK, there's far more marketers per capita. Essentially there is a very saturated field here, but that leads to a lot of great innovation. And something I realized when I was getting into the industry back in America is that a lot of the SEOs I followed, a huge proportion of them were from the UK. There's a lot of really great thinkers over here. And I really admired that from, you know, a country that is so much smaller.

Will (55:24)

Luke (55:43)
to be able to produce so many educated people, so many people that are just curious. But then America on the other side, they're bigger into testing, I've always found. They're bigger into bigger campaigns that they're able to find data from to inform the future. I think there's the best of both worlds, and if you combine the two, you really find this perfect middle spot.

Will (56:03)
And what about dealing with clients? How's that different in the US? You can be candid, you know, I mean, how's that different between the US and the UK? I'm curious.

Luke (56:08)

It's greatly different, but I mean even in the US, East Coast to West Coast, dealing with business is very different. In the UK, it's very different the way that people show themselves to the business, the way they want to talk about money, or the way that they ask questions. And I find that actually the most interesting part of my experience about joining here is that each European region has such a different way of interacting, and they have their cultural sense around business, which has been the most fun part for me, learning how to work.

Will (56:16)
True. Yeah, that's true.


Luke (56:38)
alongside of my Italian colleagues, my German colleagues, people over in the Netherlands and my French colleagues. It's been fantastic and a really good learning experience because they're each unique in their own ways and they have different needs and I love that.

Will (56:43)

Oh, true. I mean, I'm sure that's amazing to everybody that comes from America, isn't it? To see Europe and this is like, you know, France, Italy, Spain, then the Nordics and Germany, and they all have their own cultures, their own ways of communication, their own little quirks of doing business and what's appropriate and stuff like that. And it's fun. It's fun navigating, isn't it? And of course, you're dealing with EMEA. So that's Europe, the Middle East and Africa, right? And you've got a Kuala Lumpur office.

Probably one of your furthest away offices, is that right?

Luke (57:24)
Yeah, and we're moving into the Middle East. We're starting to support businesses around there. It's just all in this big global expansion initiative that we have. We have boots on ground almost everywhere in the world, and we're looking to even expand that even more, just to make sure we're servicing our clients in the best way that we can. And then for me, selfishly, I get to learn about all these places and learn how they interact with marketing, because cultures change their interaction with marketing quite a bit.

Will (57:43)

And just one last channel, one last question about that. Are the channels that people use, are they very different in these different markets? Like the actual shape of the marketing.

Luke (57:59)
Yeah, no it is. And the way that then we have to advise companies to spend their marketing. One example is Italy has a lot of success with display advertising, something a lot of people in the UK won't touch because there isn't much success here. And you have to really understand then how each of these channels are really going to impact the region and you have to change it. It isn't a copy and paste solution to each of these regions. We really have to focus in on the behavior and the culture and how they're going to accept the marketing that we're doing.

But not only that, it also applies really heavily when we advise on social campaigns. The social and micro-influencers that we're using per region probably need to change. We're not looking for the same personality, we're not looking for the same persona on each of these because there's different influences, there's different interaction that they're getting.

Will (58:44)
Yeah, interesting that, isn't it? Like I say, it keeps your job interesting, keeps you on your toes. Right, okay, nice one, Luke. Thanks very much. Look, I've got one last question for you. To close, What three tips, I'm putting you on the spot here, I know you didn't prepare for this, but what three tips would you have for someone to get themselves prepared for what you see as the inevitable future of SEO?

Luke (58:48)
It does.

That is a great question. The first one we talked about already, utilize more of your IP data. You should be doing this not just for SEO, but for all your channels, making that information gain addition to your articles. Add that... So data that you own, so look into your analytics, look at the data that you have yourself that no one else has access to, because that is so powerful. So if you can do that, you'll...

Will (59:22)
When you talk about IP data, what do you mean?


Luke (59:34)
put yourself at a massive advantage in the articles that you're creating. No matter which way that Google decides to go, even in 10 years when it's something that I can't even fathom or predict at this moment, you'll be in a very powerful state. The second one is UX and testing. I mean, I cannot stress enough how powerful UX is and how much people should be implementing it. In the current stage, you know, 2024, I see too many blog pages, editorial content that's black text on white pages. We've evolved for our expectations of what the internet should be supplying us. People need imagery. People need engagement.

We should be supplying that on everything we do. Evolve your website for the experience to really take control and lead people to interact with your brand and your pages more. One of the best examples I can give, because people are going towards video, short form video, we had a big finance client. We tested out putting videos on their pages, not even making new videos, videos that they already owned, just putting on the pages that were relevant. We found that people would spend over twice as much on the page. You say, well, that's obvious, they're watching a video.

We also found they would go to more pages per visit. We went from 1.1 pages per visit to 3.01. That is tremendous gain. They were interacting with the site and the brand far more after watching the video because they felt a connection. They felt there was just a better experience going on. And that experience really needs to be the forefront of what you're doing when we're changing the website as a whole and two things that a Googler is inventing and the way that the rest of the web is changing and evolving. The last one is just the testing.

I mean, people really need to test. When you make something, it is not fully created, go back, have the tech mindset to continuously make iterations upon and improve. That right there will bring you into a space that is way above your competitors, give you an advantage that'll really allow you to take over a good amount of market share.

Will (1:01:18)
Yeah, absolutely. Great tips. Look, thanks so much, Luke. I really appreciate your time. You've given us so much to think about there. It's great. Where can listeners find and connect with you online?

Luke (1:01:29)
I'm always happy to have a conversation over at LinkedIn. Please look me up at LinkedIn, Luke O 'Leary, VP of Media Strategy and Operations at NP Digital. Lots of webinars going on, so you can tune in to any of the webinars I do with Neil. Other than that, if you reach out to the agency, put you in touch with me, always happy to have a conversation.

Will (1:01:46)
Great, thanks so much. Cheers, Luke.

Luke (1:01:48)
Thank you, Will. Appreciate it.

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