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6 Things I Learned About Building An In-House SEO Team

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6 Things I Learned About Building An In-House SEO Team

The first six years of my SEO career were spent in the same in-house SEO team. During that time, the team underwent many changes, evolving and adapting in an endless pursuit of the most effective way of operating.

At first, we were a small, junior team working largely in a silo.

But by 2020, we were a team of seven, including senior and specialist roles. We were fully integrated into the digital department via processes and ways of working.

From my first days in SEO through to my time as part of the leadership team, I was part of all of the ups and downs and learned a lot about what is needed to prove the value of investing in SEO – and making that investment pay off.

Here are the most important lessons I learned.

1. Nothing Happens Without Buy-In

If you take one thing from this article, make sure it’s this: It doesn’t matter how good you are, or how desperately you need more hands on deck.

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You will not get the opportunity to grow your team or increase your budget without buy-in from the people who can give you those things.

For this, you need credibility.

This comes over time, from good subject knowledge, insights, judgment, and the ability to demonstrate these qualities consistently.

But there are things you can do to put yourself in a strong position to accelerate building this reputation.

2. Structure Is Your Friend

First of all, you need structure in three key areas:

  • Reliable data and a consistent approach to reporting.
  • A comprehensive, prioritized strategy based on full site audits, outlining what you’ll be working on, and, vitally, what you can’t tackle yet (due to dependencies, budget, or resource).
  • A regular cadence of communicating your progress.

A bonus of creating this structure around your SEO program is that it has the potential to protect you from unexpected changes in your organization.

For example, if there are changes in the leadership of your department with new managers looking to assert their own approach, a solid footing and a clear plan often mean a stronger rationale is needed for any upheaval.

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And it could even create an opportunity for your team to grow in influence and accelerate its evolution.

3. You’ve Got To ‘Move The Needle’

The next thing you need is a track record.

This can feel unattainable if you’re overwhelmed and understaffed.

Attempting to make progress in all areas, spreading yourself too thin, and ultimately failing to make a real impact anywhere will not prove you need more resources to anyone but yourself.

Instead, communicate to your managers about the projects you will be prioritizing, and explicitly call out the areas you won’t be working on due to capacity limitations.

With a more focused scope, you can then demonstrate the impact you can make with an appropriate workload and allow them to infer the return they could get from investing in the SEO team.

This step allows more projects to be worked on simultaneously.

4. Build A Compelling Business Case

You must also be able to capitalize on this foundation, asking for what you need and persuading people to give it to you.

SEO is, by nature, expansive and ever-growing. It can be difficult to know whether you’re genuinely under-resourced, or just overwhelmed by the endless possibilities and threads to pull at.

By estimating the potential return on investment of the projects that added capacity would unlock, you’ll be able to confirm that you genuinely need more people and make a strong case for expanding your team.

Of course, as with many aspects of SEO, ROI can be complicated and difficult to calculate. Results can’t be guaranteed in the same way as they can for other digital marketing channels.

In addition, many of the initiatives we need to work on aren’t necessarily about incremental growth, but rather following best practices and protecting performance long-term.

Two main tactics helped us to put some numbers to the projects we knew were important, and to prove the need to increase capacity.

Present Projected ROI As A Range

In the best-case scenario, what impact could this activity have?

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What if it has a more modest result than expected?

The reality will likely be somewhere in between, but communicating a range of outcomes allows you to be transparent and truthful without overpromising or underselling the potential results.

For example, one approach would be:

  • Define the list of keywords your project will affect.
  • For each term, project the potential clicks by multiplying the monthly search volume and estimated click-through rate at different positions (eg. three positions higher; five positions higher).
  • Subtract any current traffic driven by these terms from these projected totals to calculate an upper and lower estimate of traffic uplift.
  • Optionally, apply conversion rates and average spend figures to calculate revenue uplift.

Calculate The Cost Of Doing Nothing Or The Opposite Of ROI

If a project’s aim is to protect SEO performance from future algorithm updates or to stay ahead of your competitors, use the same approach outlined above, but based on loss of position.

Being able to quantify the benefit of increasing your capacity not only helps communicate the value of the work your team does (and could do) but also helps to build your authority and credibility.

Incidentally, it is also very valuable when jostling for prioritization with e.g. your organization’s development team!

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Hire The Right People

So you’ve got approval to increase your headcount. Now what?

Depending on the salary you can offer, you’ll need to be realistic about the level of experience you can expect from applicants.

With this, your business case, and strategy in mind, start to put together a job description with the types of responsibilities the role will involve.

When hiring for more junior positions, consider whether specific SEO experience is really vital.

It’s possible to learn SEO on the job, but the qualities that set someone up to develop into a great SEO practitioner – curiosity, a love of learning and problem-solving, resilience, diplomacy – can be much harder to teach.

For roles requiring more experience, you still need to ensure you’re looking for the softer skills above, but you should also set tasks that require candidates to demonstrate the requisite skills and subject knowledge for the responsibilities they’ll be taking on.

It’s vital to ensure that the interviewers are qualified to make that assessment – bring in experts from outside of your organization if necessary.

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Attempting to gauge the extent of a candidate’s expertise when it exceeds that of the interviewers is next to impossible, and one bad hire can create really sticky situations that are very difficult to resolve.

It can be deceptively difficult to find candidates who balance existing experience and knowledge with a receptiveness to further learning and the humility required to truly collaborate – in the words of Dan Patmore, Senior Group SEO Manager at Sainsbury’s Group,

“Some SEOs want to be right. I want people who want to learn.”

Above all, keep the importance of internal buy-in at the forefront of your mind when bringing anyone new into your team.

Is this someone who can add to the credibility and authority of your team within the business, instill confidence in your leadership team, and foster cross-functional collaboration?

Or is there a risk that they could damage your team’s reputation and relationships?

Leading A Growing Team

There are hundreds of books dedicated to how to manage teams.

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But for me, the ultimate aim of developing a team is for it to become more than the sum of its parts.

The way the individuals in the team work together should elevate everyone above and beyond the skills and abilities they each bring on their own.

Shared Values

The approach required to achieve this is consistent with the approach to hiring, outlined above: prioritizing values above all else, approaching SEO as an ongoing learning experience, and emphasizing the importance of honesty and collaboration.

In order to create this environment, you need to practice mentorship over micromanagement, focusing on developing and guiding your colleagues through their careers, and running a fulfilled and effective team in which individuals feel valued.

This is especially important in SEO teams, as many of the qualities that make somebody well-suited to this discipline can also make them resistant to more overbearing leadership.

Lifelong learners tend to like to question assumptions and arrive at their own conclusions and problem-solvers like to improve processes rather than be forced to do things how they’ve always been done.

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And those with inherent curiosity like to be allowed to investigate tangents and uncover new insights.

Stifling these instincts in favor of having more control over your team will not only make them miserable, but you’ll also lose out on their ideas and perspectives (and miss opportunities).

Alignment

So how do you make sure everyone is pulling in the right direction?

Like everything else, this comes down to buy-in, except this time, you need to gain buy-in from the SEO team itself. In practice, this means you should:

  • Be transparent in sharing your strategy with your team, the same way you would share it with more senior stakeholders.
  • As individuals in the team grow in experience and bring their own valuable perspectives and areas of expertise, involve them in the creation of the strategy.
  • Make sure everyone knows where the focus is, what the aims are and why. Agree on expectations for outcomes and milestones, including deadlines. This structure is essential for keeping things on track while allowing creativity.
  • Maintain a backlog of projects to be scoped and prioritized later. This allows your team to bring new ideas to you and be heard, without derailing current priorities.

Ultimately, my north star for building and leading a team always comes down to trust. I want to hire people whom I can trust and I want to earn theirs in return.

I want to encourage my team to trust each other, and I want everyone to feel like they are trusted.

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If you can pull this off, you end up with a team that works collaboratively towards shared goals, challenges themselves to be their best, develops their own strengths and specialties, learns from each other, and generates ideas and innovations that will evolve your SEO program for the future.

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators

Elon Musk, owner and CEO of Twitter, announced that starting today, Twitter will share ad revenue with creators. The new policy applies only to ads that appear in a creator’s reply threads.

The move comes on the heels of YouTube launching ad revenue sharing for creators through the YouTube Partner Program in a bid to become the most rewarding social platform for creators.

Social networks like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have similar monetization options for creators who publish reels and video content. For example, Instagram’s Reels Play Bonus Program offers eligible creators up to $1,200 for Reel views.

The catch? Unlike other social platforms, creators on Twitter must have an active subscription to Twitter Blue and meet the eligibility requirements for the Blue Verified checkmark.

The following is an example of a Twitter ad in a reply thread (Promoted by @ASUBootcamps). It should generate revenue for the Twitter Blue Verified creator (@rowancheung), who created the thread.

Screenshot from Twitter, January 2023

To receive the ad revenue share, creators would have to pay $8 per month (or more) to maintain an active Twitter Blue subscription. Twitter Blue pricing varies based on location and is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

Eligibility for the Twitter Blue Verified checkmark includes having an active Twitter Blue subscription and meeting the following criteria.

  • Your account must have a display name, profile photo, and confirmed phone number.
  • Your account has to be older than 90 days and active within the last 30 days.
  • Recent changes to your account’s username, display name, or profile photo can affect eligibility. Modifications to those after verification can also result in a temporary loss of the blue checkmark until Twitter reviews your updated information.
  • Your account cannot appear to mislead or deceive.
  • Your account cannot spam or otherwise try to manipulate the platform for engagement or follows.

Did you receive a Blue Verified checkmark before the Twitter Blue subscription? That will not help creators who want a share of the ad revenue. The legacy Blue Verified checkmark does not make a creator account eligible for ad revenue sharing.

When asked about accounts with a legacy and Twitter Blue Verified checkmark, Musk tweeted that the legacy Blue Verified is “deeply corrupted” and will sunset in just a few months.

Regardless of how you gained your checkmark, it’s important to note that Twitter can remove a checkmark without notice.

In addition to ad revenue sharing for Twitter Blue Verified creators, Twitter Dev announced that the Twitter API would no longer be free in an ongoing effort to reduce the number of bots on the platform.

While speculation looms about a loss in Twitter ad revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported a “fire-sale” Super Bowl offer from Musk to win back advertisers.

The latest data from DataReportal shows a positive trend for Twitter advertisers. Ad reach has increased from 436.4 million users in January 2022 to 556 million in January 2023.

Twitter is also the third most popular social network based on monthly unique visitors and page views globally, according to SimilarWeb data through December 2022.


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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

We live in an age when AI technologies are booming, and the world has been taken by storm with the introduction of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is capable of accomplishing a wide range of tasks, but one that it does particularly well is writing articles. And while there are many obvious benefits to this, it also presents a number of challenges.

In my opinion, the biggest hurdle that AI-generated written content poses for the publishing industry is the spread of misinformation.

ChatGPT, or any other AI tool, may generate articles that may contain factual errors or are just flat-out incorrect.

Imagine someone who has no expertise in medicine starting a medical blog and using ChatGPT to write content for their articles.

Their content may contain errors that can only be identified by professional doctors. And if that blog content starts spreading over social media, or maybe even ranks in Search, it could cause harm to people who read it and take erroneous medical advice.

Another potential challenge ChatGPT poses is how students might leverage it within their written work.

If one can write an essay just by running a prompt (and without having to do any actual work), that greatly diminishes the quality of education – as learning about a subject and expressing your own ideas is key to essay writing.

Even before the introduction of ChatGPT, many publishers were already generating content using AI. And while some honestly disclose it, others may not.

Also, Google recently changed its wording regarding AI-generated content, so that it is not necessarily against the company’s guidelines.

Image from Twitter, November 2022

This is why I decided to try out existing tools to understand where the tech industry is when it comes to detecting content generated by ChatGPT, or AI generally.

I ran the following prompts in ChatGPT to generate written content and then ran those answers through different detection tools.

  • “What is local SEO? Why it is important? Best practices of Local SEO.”
  • “Write an essay about Napoleon Bonaparte invasion of Egypt.”
  • “What are the main differences between iPhone and Samsung galaxy?”

Here is how each tool performed.

1. Writer.com

For the first prompt’s answer, Writer.com fails, identifying ChatGPT’s content as 94% human-generated.

Writer.com resultsScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the second prompt, it worked and detected it as AI-written content.

Writer.com test resultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the third prompt, it failed again.

Sample ResultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

However, when I tested real human-written text, Writer.com did identify it as 100% human-generated very accurately.

2. Copyleaks

Copyleaks did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written.

Sample ResultScreenshot from Copyleaks, January 2023

3. Contentatscale.ai

Contentatscale.ai did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written, even though the first prompt, it gave a 21% human score.

Contentscale.aiScreenshot from Contentscale.ai, January 2023

4. Originality.ai

Originality.ai did a great job on all three prompts, accurately detecting them as AI-written.

Also, when I checked with real human-written text, it did identify it as 100% human-generated, which is essential.

Originality.aiScreenshot from Originality.ai, January 2023

You will notice that Originality.ai doesn’t detect any plagiarism issues. This may change in the future.

Over time, people will use the same prompts to generate AI-written content, likely resulting in a number of very similar answers. When these articles are published, they will then be detected by plagiarism tools.

5. GPTZero

This non-commercial tool was built by Edward Tian, and specifically designed to detect ChatGPT-generated articles. And it did just that for all three prompts, recognizing them as AI-generated.

GPTZeroScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

Unlike other tools, it gives a more detailed analysis of detected issues, such as sentence-by-sentence analyses.

sentence by sentence text perplexityScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

OpenAI’s AI Text Classifier

And finally, let’s see how OpenAi detects its own generated answers.

For the 1st and 3rd prompts, it detected that there is an AI involved by classifying it as “possibly-AI generated”.

AI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generated

But surprisingly, it failed for the 2nd prompt and classified that as “unlikely AI-generated.” I did play with different prompts and found that, as of the moment, when checking it, few of the above tools detect AI content with higher accuracy than OpenAi’s own tool.

AI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generated

As of the time of this check, they had released it a day before. I think in the future, they will fine tune it, and it will work much better.

Conclusion

Current AI content generation tools are in good shape and are able to detect ChatGPT-generated content (with varying degrees of success).

It is still possible for someone to generate copy via ChatGPT and then paraphrase that to make it undetectable, but that might require almost as much work as writing from scratch – so the benefits aren’t as immediate.

If you think about ranking an article in Google written by ChatGPT, consider for a moment: If the tools we looked at above were able to recognize them as AI-generated, then for Google, detecting them should be a piece of cake.

On top of that, Google has quality raters who will train their system to recognize AI-written articles even better by manually marking them as they find them.

So, my advice would be not to build your content strategy on ChatGPT-generated content, but use it merely as an assistant tool.

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Five things you need to know about content optimization in 2023

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5 Things You Need To Know About Optimizing Content in 2023

30-second summary:

  • As the content battleground goes through tremendous upheaval, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance
  • ChatGPT can help content marketers get an edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content
  • Making sure your content rank high enough to engage the target audience requires strategic planning and implementation

Google is constantly testing and updating its algorithms in pursuit of the best possible searcher experience. As the search giant explains in its ‘How Search Works’ documentation, that means understanding the intent behind the query and bringing back results that are relevant, high-quality, and accessible for consumers.

As if the constantly shifting search landscape weren’t difficult enough to navigate, content marketers are also contending with an increasingly technology-charged environment. Competitors are upping the stakes with tools and platforms that generate smarter, real-time insights and even make content optimization and personalization on the fly based on audience behavior, location, and data points.

Set-it-and-forget-it content optimization is a thing of the past. Here’s what you need to know to help your content get found, engage your target audience, and convert searchers to customers in 2023.

AI automation going to be integral for content optimization

Technologies-B2B-organizations-use-to-optimize-content

As the content battleground heats up, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance as a key source of intelligence. We’re optimizing content for humans, not search engines, after all – we had better have a solid understanding of what those people need and want.

While I do not advocate automation for full content creation, I believe next year – as resources become stretched automation will have a bigger impact on helping with content optimization of existing content.

CHATGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a powerful language generation model that leverages the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture to produce realistic human-like text. With Chat GPT’s wide range of capabilities – from completing sentences and answering questions to generating content ideas or powering research initiatives – it can be an invaluable asset for any Natural Language Processing project.

ChatGPT-for-content

The introduction on ChatGPT has caused considerable debate and explosive amounts of content on the web. With ChatGPT, content marketers can achieve an extra edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content. It offers assistance with generating titles for blog posts, summaries of topics or articles, as well as comprehensive campaigns when targeting a specific audience.

However, it is important to remember that this technology should be used to enhance human creativity rather than completely replacing it.

For many years now AI-powered technology has been helping content marketers and SEOs automate repetitive tasks such as data analysis, scanning for technical issues, and reporting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AI also enables real-time analysis of a greater volume of consumer touchpoints and behavioral data points for smarter, more precise predictive analysis, opportunity forecasting, real-time content recommendations, and more.

With so much data in play and recession concerns already impacting 2023 budgets in many organizations, content marketers will have to do more with less this coming year. You’ll need to carefully balance human creative resources with AI assists where they make sense to stay flexible, agile, and ready to respond to the market.

It’s time to look at your body of content as a whole

Google’s Helpful Content update, which rolled out in August, is a sitewide signal targeting a high proportion of thin, unhelpful, low-quality content. That means the exceptional content on your site won’t rank to their greatest potential if they’re lost in a sea of mediocre, outdated assets.

It might be time for a content reboot – but don’t get carried away. Before you start unpublishing and redirecting blog posts, lean on technology for automated site auditing and see what you can fix up first. AI-assisted technology can help sniff out on-page elements, including page titles and H1 tags, and off-page factors like page speed, redirects, and 404 errors that can support your content refreshing strategy.

Focus on your highest trafficked and most visible pages first, i.e.: those linked from the homepage or main menu. Google’s John Mueller confirmed recently that if the important pages on your website are low quality, it’s bad news for the entire site. There’s no percentage by which this is measured, he said, urging content marketers and SEOs to instead think of what the average user would think when they visit your website.

Take advantage of location-based content optimization opportunities

Consumers crave personalized experiences, and location is your low-hanging fruit. Seasonal weather trends, local events, and holidays all impact your search traffic in various ways and present opportunities for location-based optimization.

AI-assisted technology can help you discover these opportunities and evaluate topical keywords at scale so you can plan content campaigns and promotions that tap into this increased demand when it’s happening.

Make the best possible use of content created for locally relevant campaigns by repurposing and promoting it across your website, local landing pages, social media profiles, and Google Business Profiles for each location. Google Posts, for example, are a fantastic and underutilized tool for enhancing your content’s visibility and interactivity right on the search results page.

Optimize content with conversational & high-volume keywords

Look for conversational and trending terms in your keyword research, too. Top-of-funnel keywords that help generate awareness of the topic and spur conversations in social channels offer great opportunities for promotion. Use hashtags organically and target them in paid content promotion campaigns to dramatically expand your audience.

Conversational keywords are a good opportunity for enhancing that content’s visibility in search, too. Check out the ‘People Also Ask’ results and other featured snippets available on the search results page (SERP) for your keyword terms. Incorporate questions and answers in your content to naturally optimize for these and voice search queries.

SEO-and-creating-content-in-2023

It’s important that you utilize SEO insights and real-time data correctly; you don’t want to be targeting what was trending last month and is already over. AI is a great assist here, as well, as an intelligent tool can be scanning and analyzing constantly, sending recommendations for new content opportunities as they arise.

Consider how you optimize content based on intent and experience

The best content comes from a deep, meaningful understanding of the searcher’s intent. What problem were they experiencing or what need did they have that caused them to seek out your content in the first place? And how does your blog post, ebook, or landing page copy enhance their experience?

Look at the search results page as a doorway to your “home”. How’s your curb appeal? What do potential customers see when they encounter one of your pages in search results? What kind of experience do you offer when they step over the threshold and click through to your website?

The best content meets visitors where they are at with relevant, high-quality information presented in a way that is accessible, fast loading, and easy to digest. This is the case for both short and long form SEO content. Ensure your content contains calls to action designed to give people options and help them discover the next step in their journey versus attempting to sell them on something they may not be ready for yet.

2023, the year of SEO: why brands are leaning in and how to prepare

Conclusion

The audience is king, queen, and the entire court as we head into 2023. SEO and content marketing give you countless opportunities to connect with these people but remember they are a means to an end. Keep searcher intent and audience needs at the heart of every piece of content you create and campaign you plan for the coming year.

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