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Scale Your B2B Google Ads Strategy Across Multiple Languages



Scale Your B2B Google Ads Strategy Across Multiple Languages

Humans are incredibly diverse – and it’s marketing’s job to respect, engage, and nurture that.

Expanding a B2B business from English-only strategies to regional, multi-language campaigns can absolutely be the turning point of your success. In fact, it’s hard to believe that not everyone’s taking advantage of it.

Mass-market, English-only campaigns cost a ton of money. And, with today’s expectation for a high level of personalization across the customer experience, they don’t really bring much to the table.

Multi-language ad campaigns are more effective as a whole and can even help save you money over time.


Because diverse markets help diversify income and lead to long-term business sustainability.

As more people throughout the world recognize your brand, you have the opportunity to build brand authority and reduce customer acquisition costs.

This is especially true if you’re in the B2B world. Larger deal sizes and complex buyer committees mean longer sales cycles and more opportunities to either impress or irritate local audiences.

And one of the best ways to turn this opportunity into reality is through the strategic use of localized Google Ad campaigns.

Because Google Ads drive conversions quickly, you can show proof of concept to new markets, which establishes a great starting point for long-term international expansion and increased ROI.

Let’s now dive into how this all works.

Localization > Translation

Before you load up 100 new Google Ad campaigns for your B2B target market, there’s one crucial concept to integrate into your processes: Focus on localization over translation.

Here’s a basic overview of the difference:

  • Translation involves putting the exact keyword into Google Translate or Deepl and getting literal, word-for-word translations back. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried that when traveling around, but it doesn’t get you much further than asking for directions to the nearest restroom. And when applied to PPC, chances are that directly translated keywords either don’t have search volume or mean something entirely different when used in search (bringing about search intent mismatch).
  • Localization is the act of identifying keyword intent and finding an equivalent with search volume in the target language of your choice. To do this, you’ll need to deeply understand the local market, its nuances, and the language they use.

Remember, local competitors are already matching local buyer expectations, so if you don’t start off by already doing that better, you won’t have much success. You can’t copy/paste global campaigns and then sit back, wondering why you’re not seeing the conversions roll in.

Mass website translation alone is not international expansion, and it’s often an efficient use of time and resources when there’s no localized strategy to back it up.

Steps For Developing A Multilingual PPC Strategy For B2B

Developing a multi-language Google Ad strategy takes time, but with the right approach, you can see success rather quickly.

Here, I’ll go through eight steps to help you scale your B2B business across multiple languages and regions.

Step 1: Localize Your Operations

Many companies successfully localize their marketing but forget to make changes when it comes to sales and operations (which actually need to be in place before marketing begins in order to guarantee ROI from the marketing efforts).

The reality is that people buy things differently in different countries. For example, in the US, you can purchase almost anything with a credit card, but in Germany, people don’t use them and much prefer payment by invoice.

The buying cycle in Germany is also much longer in B2B because the work culture is highly process-oriented.

If you don’t localize those areas and expect leads to talk to a salesperson in English with a 9-hour time difference, you definitely won’t do well in closing those leads that marketing has worked so hard to get.

To truly be successful when entering new markets, here are the elements you’ll want to localize:

Brand Strategy Buyer Personas Content Operations
Your USPs Pain points SEO keywords Sales and customer service
Your competitors Buying process & customer journey Important words and phrases Product
Messaging & cultural relevance Buying obstacles and how to overcome them Website in the local language Payment process

Step 2: Localize Market Research And Competitors

The next essential step when scaling your multi-language B2B Google ads strategy is to spend time actually learning about your target audience in local markets.

Rather than copy/pasting a generic global strategy, you need to see what brands resonate with locals and which local companies are seeing success.

To help you navigate this process, follow these steps:

  • Start by exploring the competition within your chosen market and see what they’re doing to market to local audiences. You can gain access to key metrics using tools like Semrush Advertising Research to see if your competitors are running any paid ads and what keywords they’re bidding on.
Screenshot from Semrush, July 2023

To give you a visual idea, the screenshot above shows an example of PPC competitor research solely in the Swedish market.

This is useful because you’ll likely see that not all competitors have localized sites, which is an opportunity that major competitors have missed – good news for you and your niche!

  • Then use Semrush Advertising Research to dig into the keywords competitors are bidding on and the types of pages they are using to target these keywords. It’s important to note that some companies may offer a similar service or product but may not necessarily be direct competitors, so you’ll need to filter out any who don’t match.
Keyword listScreenshot from Semrush, July 2023

From this screenshot above for the French market, you can see that one competitor is bidding on a mix of French and English keywords, such as their brand “hyland software.”

  • Lastly, take a look at what the competitor’s ad copy looks like. This will give you insight into the types of phrasing used and give you ideas for what you can improve on (as it should always be the goal to surpass competitors, not just match them).
Ads copiesScreenshot from Semrush, July 2023

This particular example shows how the competitor has only used English ads for the Norwegian market.

So there’s again an opportunity for you to offer a better customer experience through localization and target local keywords so that your Google Ads have a better quality score.

Overall, the more thorough you are with localized market and competitor research, the better you’ll be prepared to implement tactics that enable you to outpace them.

Step 3: Localize PPC Keyword Research

All local markets have some element of variation between them, which means that you can’t directly translate keywords. Direct translations don’t capture the differences between search intent among various languages, dialects, and regions.

This is where the concept of localization becomes absolutely crucial.

To effectively localize keywords, follow this process:

  • Adapt keywords for localized PPC strategies by identifying keywords that match search intent and have search volume. If you don’t check local search volume and consider similar phrases, it’s easy to lose valuable conversions due to linguistic nuances.
  • Interestingly, don’t overlook the power of English keywords as well as localized keywords. Some markets may have English keywords with more search volume than the localized language, and you’ll need to ensure you have ads running for both languages. I’ve found this to be especially true for the B2B tech industry that uses English phrases within the local language.

keyword lists and ad groups

Keyword and EN translationsScreenshots from author, July 2023

For example, in the screenshots above, you can see that document management keywords have been compiled in both Swedish and English. All the keywords came back with different search volumes, but there’s enough to warrant campaigns in both languages.

Note that the keyword “EDMS” is not used in Sweden, so consequently isn’t included in the chosen keywords for Sweden – hence the importance of understanding the market nuances through localization!

ad groups and keywords with EN translationScreenshot from author, July 2023

Another example of the importance of localization is the term “GED,” a common French abbreviation of the word “gestion électronique de documents.”

This is why you can’t just simply translate English keywords, as some of the highest search volume and conversion-focused keywords may end up being excluded from your strategy.

Step 4: Localize PPC Ad Copy

Ad copy localization is where it pays to collaborate with someone who speaks the native language. You’ll need to localize ad copy for the following:

  • Brand messaging guidelines.
  • Google Ad character limits.
  • Local unique selling points (USPs).
  • Local pain points.
  • Local cultural nuances, both within the language and keywords targeted.

If you were to write ad copy for some of the French keywords compiled in the previous section, it might look like this:

Ads CopiesScreenshot from Semrush, July 2023

Step 5: Localize PPC Landing Pages

The copy across the pages needs to contain local keywords in order to maintain a high-quality score (the higher the quality score, the lower the bid costs are).

You’ll also need to focus on addressing the different issues or pain points audiences have across different regions.

To stand out from your competition, prioritize your USP within that particular market. Creative angles can help engage new markets, especially when in comparison with local competitors.

Furthermore, make sure to add some social proof to your landing page. This can be anything from case studies, testimonials, or use cases that match the target audience market. Social proof, in particular, helps your message resonate more strongly.

Step 6: Organize PPC Ad Groups Based On Purchase Intent Stage

Once you have your landing pages localized, you’ll want to organize ad groups based on which part of the sales funnel they’re in, i.e. their level of purchase intent.

A successful Google Ad strategy creates content for and targets keywords based on both transactional and informational search intent.

To organize your campaigns accordingly, use the following steps:

  • Define your keywords based on transactional search intent. These will be keywords that precisely describe your products and services and are most oriented toward direct lead generation (or contact with sales).
Ad group Screenshot from author, July 2023

For example, the keywords above describe the main services that a compliance management company wants to run ads for. They’re very conversion-focused and capture the user when they’re looking to make a purchase.

  • Then, define your keywords based on informational search intent. These will be keywords that describe topics that your audience needs information on and are relevant for selling your products and services, but your audience isn’t quite ready to buy yet. These types of ads are particularly useful for nurturing users toward conversion in combination with retargeting campaigns.

Splitting out campaigns like this allows you to manage budgets better, as informational keywords tend to be higher in value due to search volume and broadness. However, you still want to own this space to help nurture users toward conversion, so we do need ads here.

And with the correct bid strategy, you can ensure you get the most clicks within your budget. Targeting keywords with both types of intents is more successful than just going for direct conversions, as that can limit your return on investment (ROI) potential over time.

Step 7: Retarget Users To Choose Your Brand Once They’re Ready To Purchase

Once you’re organized, make a strategy for retargeting campaigns. To give you a visual, retargeting display ads often have a structure that looks like this:

Retarget stepsImage created by author, July 2023

Even though there typically is a CTA, remember that retargeting display campaigns aren’t for directly generating clicks.

When combined with the full funnel campaign approach, they’re meant to keep your brand and products/services top of mind.

Essentially, display ad retargeting is basically like going, “Hey, I’m here whenever you need something. Don’t forget me!”

So you’ll often see an increase in direct website traffic and branded keyword search volume from display ads, as opposed to direct click conversions.

Step 8: Track Multilingual PPC Performance Per Individual Markets

Finally, make sure that you set up conversion tracking for each market, not just globally.

This enables you to determine which markets perform best and where you might need to improve. Some ways to do this include ad campaign performance KPI tracking and conversions per region, such as shown in the below example images:

KPI tracking reportsScreenshots from author, July

How To Scale Your B2B Google Ads Strategy Across Multiple Languages And Regions

Use Localization Within Your Multilingual PPC Strategy To Convert

If you want to expand your B2B business into international markets with Google Ads – and truly see your efforts pay off – you need to stop the Google Translation use and focus on holistically localizing your strategy.

In doing so, you have the opportunity to make a real, valuable impression on your target audience by matching local customer expectations while also gaining their trust and building your customer base.

While this process does require more effort, it’s a whole lot more effective for generating leads and ensuring that they actually close.

More resources: 

Featured Image: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

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The Lean Guide (With Template)



The Lean Guide (With Template)

A competitive analysis (or market competitive analysis) is a process where you collect information about competitors to gain an edge over them and get more customers.

However, the problem is that “traditional” competitive analysis is overkill for most businesses — it requires impractical data and takes too long to complete (and it’s very expensive if you choose to outsource). 

A solution to that is a lean approach to the process — and that’s what this guide is about. 

In other words, we’ll focus on the most important data you need to answer the question: “Why would people choose them over you?”. No boring theory, outtakes from marketing history, or spending hours digging up nice-to-have information.

In this guide, you will find:

  • A real-life competitive analysis example.
  • Templates: one for input data and one for a slide deck to present your analysis to others.
  • Step-by-step instructions.

Our template consists of two documents: a slide deck and a spreadsheet. 

The Slide deck is the output document. It will help you present the analysis to your boss or your teammates.

The spreadsheet is the input document. You will find tables that act as the data source for the charts from the slide deck, as well as a prompt to use in ChatGPT to help you with user review research.

Competitive analysis template — spreadsheet sneak peek.Competitive analysis template — spreadsheet sneak peek.

We didn’t focus on aesthetics here; every marketer likes to do slide decks their own way, so feel free to edit everything you’ll find there. 

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the process. The template consists of these six tasks: 

  1. Identify your direct competitors. 
  2. Compare share of voice. 
  3. Compare pricing and features.
  4. Find strong and weak points based on reviews.
  5. Compare purchasing convenience.
  6. Present conclusions.

Going forward, we’ll explain why these steps matter and show how to complete them. 

1. Identify your direct competitors

Direct competitors are businesses that offer a similar solution to the same audience. 

They matter a lot more than indirect competitors (i.e. businesses with different products but targeting the same audience as you) because you’ll be compared with them often (e.g. in product reviews and rankings). Plus, your audience is more likely to gravitate towards them when considering different options. 

You probably have a few direct competitors in mind already, but here are a few ways to find others based on organic search and paid search ads

Our basis for the analysis was Landingi, a SaaS for building landing pages (we chose that company randomly). So in our case, we found these 3 direct competitors. 

Slide 1 — direct competitors.Slide 1 — direct competitors.

Look at keyword overlap

Keyword overlap uncovers sites that target the same organic keywords as you. Some sites will compete with you for traffic but not for customers (e.g. G2 may share some keywords with Landingi but they’re a different business). However, in many cases, you will find direct competitors just by looking at this marketing channel. 

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and enter your site’s address. 
  • Scroll down to Organic competitors
  • Visit the URLs to pick 3 – 5 direct competitors.
Top organic competitors data from Ahrefs.Top organic competitors data from Ahrefs.

To double-check the choice of competitors, we also looked at who was bidding for search ads on Google.

See who’s advertising 

If someone is spending money to show ads for keywords related to what you do, that’s a strong indication they are a direct competitor. 

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
  • Type in a few broad keywords related to your niche, like “landing page builder” or “landing page tool”. 
  • Go to the Ads history report. 
  • Visit the sites that have a high presence of ads in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). 
Ads history report in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.Ads history report in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.

Once you’re done checking both reports, write down competitors in the deck. 

You can also take screenshots of the reports and add them to your deck to show the supporting data for your argument. 

 Slide 2 — direct competitors by organic traffic. Slide 2 — direct competitors by organic traffic.

2. Compare share of voice

Share of voice is a measure of your reach in any given channel compared to competitors. 

A bigger share of voice (SOV) means that your competitors are more likely to reach your audience. In other words, they may be promoting more effectively than you. 

In our example, we found that Landingi’s SOV was the lowest in both of these channels. 


Slide 3 — share of voice on Google Search.Slide 3 — share of voice on Google Search.

And social media:

 Slide 4 — share of voice on social media. Slide 4 — share of voice on social media.

Here’s how we got that data using Ahrefs and Brand24.

Organic share of voice 

Before we start, make sure you have a project set up in Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker

Create a new project in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker.Create a new project in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker.


  • Go to Ahrefs’ Competitive Analysis and enter your and your competitors’s sites as shown below. 
Create a new project in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker.
Create a new project in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker.
  • On the next screen, set the country with the most important market for your business and set the filters like this:
Content gap analysis filter setup.Content gap analysis filter setup.
  • Select keywords that sound most relevant to your business (even if you don’t rank for them yet) and Add them to Rank Tracker
Common keywords found via Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis.Common keywords found via Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis.
  • Go to Rank Tracker, open your project, and look for Competitors/Overview. This report will uncover automatically calculated Share of Voice
Organic share of voice data in Ahrefs.Organic share of voice data in Ahrefs.
  • Add the numbers in corresponding cells inside the sheet and paste the graph inside the slide deck. 
Filling the share of voice template with data.Filling the share of voice template with data.

It’s normal that the numbers don’t add up to 100%. SOV is calculated by including sites that compete with you in traffic but are not your direct competitors, e.g. blogs. 

Social share of voice 

We can also measure our share of voice across social media channels using Brand24.

  • Go to Brand24.
  • Start a New project for your brand and each competitor. Use the competitors’ brand name as the keyword to monitor. 
  • Go to the Comparison report and compare your project with competitors. 
Using Brand24's Comparison tool for competitive analysis.Using Brand24's Comparison tool for competitive analysis.
  • Take a screenshot of the SOV charts and paste them into the slide deck. Make sure the charts are set to “social media”.
Social media tab in share of voice report.Social media tab in share of voice report.

3. Compare pricing and features

Consumers often choose solutions that offer the best value for money — simple as that. And that typically comes down to two things: 

  • Whether you have the features they care about. We’ll use all features available across all plans to see how likely the product is to satisfy user needs.
  • How much they will need to pay. Thing is, the topic of pricing is tricky: a) when assessing affordability, people often focus on the least expensive option available and use it as a benchmark, b) businesses in the SaaS niche offer custom plans. So to make things more practical, we’ll compare the cheapest plans, but feel free to run this analysis across all pricing tiers.

After comparing our example company to competitors, we found that it goes head-to-head with Unbounce as the most feature-rich solution on the market. 

Slide 5 — features vs. pricing.Slide 5 — features vs. pricing.

Here’s how we got that data. 

  • Note down your and your competitors’ product features. One of the best places to get this information is pricing pages. Some brands even publish their own competitor comparisons — you may find them helpful too. 
  • While making the list, place a “1” in the cell corresponding to the brand that offers the solution.
Filling data in the spreadsheet.Filling data in the spreadsheet.
  • Enter the price of the cheapest plan (excluding free plans). 
Adding pricing data inside the spreadsheet.Adding pricing data inside the spreadsheet.
  • Once finished, copy the chart and paste it inside the deck. 

4. Find strong and weak points based on user reviews

User reviews can show incredibly valuable insight into your competitors’ strong and weak points. Here’s why this matters:

  • Improving on what your competitors’ customers appreciate could help you attract similar customers and possibly win some over.
  • Dissatisfaction with competitors is a huge opportunity. Some businesses are built solely to fix what other companies can’t fix. 

Here’s a sample from our analysis: 

 Slide 6 — likes and dislikes about Competitors. Slide 6 — likes and dislikes about Competitors.

And here’s how we collated the data using ChatGPT. Important: repeat the process for each competitor.

  • Open ChatGPT and enter the prompt from the template.
ChatGPT prompt for competitive analysis.ChatGPT prompt for competitive analysis.
  • Go to G2, Capterra, or Trustpilot and find a competitor’s reviews with ratings from 2 – 4 (i.e. one rating above the lowest and one below the highest possible). Reason:

businesses sometimes solicit five-star reviews, whereas dissatisfied customers tend to leave one-star reviews in a moment of frustration. The most actionable feedback usually comes in between.

  • Copy and paste the content of the reviews into ChatGPT (don’t hit enter yet). 
  • Once you’re done pasting all reviews, hit enter in ChatGPT to run the analysis.
Sample of ChatGPT output with charts.Sample of ChatGPT output with charts.
  • Paste the graphs into the deck. If you want the graphs to look different, don’t hesitate to ask the AI. 

There’s a faster alternative, but it’s a bit more advanced. 

Instead of copy-pasting, you can use a scraping tool like this one to get all reviews at once. The downside here is that not all review sources will a have scraping tool available. 

5. Compare purchasing convenience

Lastly, we’ll see how easy it is to actually buy your products, and compare the experience to your competitors. 

This is a chance to simplify your checkout process, and even learn from any good habits your competitors have adopted.

For example, we found that our sample company had probably nothing to worry about in this area — they ticked almost all of the boxes. 

Slide 7 — purchasing convenience.Slide 7 — purchasing convenience.

Here’s how to complete this step:

  • Place a “1” if you or any of your competitors offer convenience features listed in the template. 
  • Once done, copy the chart and paste it into the deck.

Step 6. Present conclusions

This is the part of the presentation where you sum up all of your findings and suggest a course of action. 

Here are two examples: 

  • Landingi had the lowest SOV in the niche, and that is never good. So the conclusion might be to go a level deeper and do an SEO competitive analysis, and to increase social media presence by creating more share-worthy content like industry surveys, design/CRO tips, or in-house data studies.
  • Although the brand had a very high purchasing convenience score, during the analysis we found that there was a $850 gap between the monthly full plan and the previous tier. The conclusion here might be to offer a custom plan (like competitors do) to fill that gap. 

We encourage you to take your time here and think about what would make the most sense for your business. 


It’s good to be specific in your conclusions, but don’t go too deep. Competitive analysis concerns many aspects of the business, so it’s best to give other departments a chance to chime in. Just because your competitors have a few unique features doesn’t necessarily mean you need to build them too.

Final thoughts 

A competitive analysis is one of the most fruitful exercises in marketing. It can show you areas for improvement, give ideas for new features, and help you discover gaps in your strategy. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s fundamental to running a successful business. 

Just don’t forget to balance “spying” on your competitors with innovation. After all, you probably don’t want to become an exact copy of someone else’s brand. 

In other words, use competitive analysis to keep up with your competitors, but don’t let that erase what’s unique about your brand or make you forget your big vision. 

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Critical WordPress Form Plugin Vulnerability Affects Up To +200,000 Installs




Critical WordPress Form Plugin Vulnerability Affects Up To +200,000 Installs

Security researchers at Wordfence detailed a critical security flaw in the MW WP Form plugin, affecting versions 5.0.1 and earlier. The vulnerability allows unauthenticated threat actors to exploit the plugin by uploading arbitrary files, including potentially malicious PHP backdoors, with the ability to execute these files on the server.

MW WP Form Plugin

The MW WP Form plugin helps to simplify form creation on WordPress websites using a shortcode builder.

It makes it easy for users to create and customize forms with various fields and options.

The plugin has many features, including one that allows file uploads using the [mwform_file name=”file”] shortcode for the purpose of data collection. It is this specific feature that is exploitable in this vulnerability.

Unauthenticated Arbitrary File Upload Vulnerability

An Unauthenticated Arbitrary File Upload Vulnerability is a security issue that allows hackers to upload potentially harmful files to a website. Unauthenticated means that the attacker does not need to be registered with the website or need any kind of permission level that comes with a user permission level.

These kinds of vulnerabilities can lead to remote code execution, where the uploaded files are executed on the server, with the potential to allow the attackers to exploit the website and site visitors.

The Wordfence advisory noted that the plugin has a check for unexpected filetypes but that it doesn’t function as it should.

According to the security researchers:

“Unfortunately, although the file type check function works perfectly and returns false for dangerous file types, it throws a runtime exception in the try block if a disallowed file type is uploaded, which will be caught and handled by the catch block.

…even if the dangerous file type is checked and detected, it is only logged, while the function continues to run and the file is uploaded.

This means that attackers could upload arbitrary PHP files and then access those files to trigger their execution on the server, achieving remote code execution.”

There Are Conditions For A Successful Attack

The severity of this threat depends on the requirement that the “Saving inquiry data in database” option in the form settings is required to be enabled in order for this security gap to be exploited.

The security advisory notes that the vulnerability is rated critical with a score of 9.8 out of 10.

Actions To Take

Wordfence strongly advises users of the MW WP Form plugin to update their versions of the plugin.

The vulnerability is patched in the lutes version of the plugin, version 5.0.2.

The severity of the threat is particularly critical for users who have enabled the “Saving inquiry data in database” option in the form settings and that is compounded by the fact that no permission levels are needed to execute this attack.

Read the Wordfence advisory:

Update ASAP! Critical Unauthenticated Arbitrary File Upload in MW WP Form Allows Malicious Code Execution

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Alexander_P

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How SEOs Make the Web Better



How SEOs Make the Web Better

SEOs catch flak for ruining the web, but they play a crucial role in the search ecosystem, and actually make the internet better for everyone.

Let’s get the criticism out of the way. There are bad actors in SEO, people who seek to extract money from the internet regardless of the cost to others. There are still scams and snake oil, posers and plagiarists. Many parts of the web have become extremely commercialized, with paid advertising and big brands displacing organic and user-generated content.

But while there are situations where SEOs have made things worse, to fixate on them is to ignore the colossal elephant in the room: in the ways that really matter, the web is the best it’s ever been:

  • It’s the easiest it has ever been to find information on the internet. Searchers have a staggering array of tutorials, teardowns, and tips at their fingertips, containing information that is generally accurate and helpful—and this was not always the case.
  • Bad actors have a smaller influence over search. Search is less of a Wild West than it used to be. Once-scam-ridden topics are subject to significant scrutiny, and the problems and loopholes in search that need fixing today—like big brands and generic content receiving undue prominence—are smaller and less painful than the problems of the past.
  • More people use search to their benefit. Online content is the most accessible it has ever been, and it’s easier than ever to grow a local business or expand into international markets on the back of search.

SEOs have played a crucial role in these improvements, poking and prodding, building and—sometimes—breaking. They are Google power users: the people who push the system to extremes, but in doing so, catalyze the change needed to make search better for everyone.

Let’s explore how.

SEOs help regular people benefit from search

SEOs are much-needed intermediaries between Google and the rest of the world, helping non-technical people acquire and benefit from search engine traffic.

There is a huge amount of valuable information locked up in the heads of people who have no idea how to build a website or index a blog post. A carpet fitter with a bricks-and-mortar business might have decades of experience solving costly problems with uneven subfloors or poor moisture management, but no understanding of how to share that information online.

SEOs provide little nudges towards topics that people care about and writing that’s accessible to people and robots. They help solve technical problems that would hinder or completely block a site from appearing in search results. They identify opportunities for companies to be rewarded for creating great content.

It’s a win-win: businesses are rewarded with traffic, searchers have their intent satisfied, and the world is made a little richer for the newfound knowledge it contains.

SEOs turn helpful standards into real websites

SEOs do many things to actively make the web a better place, tending to their own plot of the Google garden to make sure it flourishes.

Take, for example, the myriad standards and guidelines designed to make the web a more accessible place for users. The implementation of these standards—turning theoretical guidelines into real, concrete parts of the web—often happens because of the SEO team.

Technical SEOs play a big part in adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a set of principles designed to ensure online content is “perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust” for every user. Every SEO’s fixation with Core Web Vitals fuels a faster, more efficient web. Content teams translate Google’s helpful content guidelines into useful words and images on a page.

(Case in point: check out Aleyda Solis’ Content Helpfulness Analyzer.)

Screenshot: Aleyda Solis' helpful content GPTScreenshot: Aleyda Solis' helpful content GPT

There is a lot of overlap between “things that help users” and “things that improve search performance.” Even if the motive behind these changes is as simple as generating more traffic, a well-optimized website is, generally speaking, one that is also great for real human beings trying to engage with it.

SEOs pressure-test Google’s systems

The biggest criticism leveled at SEOs is that they break things. And they do! But that breakage acts as a type of pressure testing that strengthens the system as a whole.

Abuse of spintax and keyword stuffing forced Google to develop a better understanding of on-page content. Today, that loophole is closed, but more importantly, Google is much better at understanding the contents of a page and its relationship to a website as a whole.

Hacks like hiding keywords with white text on a white background (or moving them beyond the visible bounds of the screen) forced Google to expand its understanding of page styling and CSS, and how on-page information interacts with the environment that contains it.

Even today’s deluge of borderline-plagiarised AI content is not without benefit: it creates a very clear incentive for Google to get better at rewarding information gain and prioritizing publishers with solid EEAT credentials. These improvements will make tomorrow’s version of search much better.

This isn’t just Google fixing what SEOs broke: these changes usually leave lasting benefits that extend beyond any single spam tactic and make search better for all of its users.

Illustration: how fixing problems leads to smaller future problems and improved search experienceIllustration: how fixing problems leads to smaller future problems and improved search experience

This is not to argue that blackhat SEO is desirable. It would be better to make these improvements without incurring pain along the way. But Search is huge and complicated, and Google has little incentive to spend money proactively fixing problems and loopholes.

If we can’t solve every issue before it causes pain, we should be grateful for a correction mechanism that prevents it—and more extreme abuse—from happening in the future. SEOs break the system, and in doing so, make future breakages a lot less severe.

SEOs are the internet’s quality assurance team

Some SEOs take advantage of the loopholes they discover—but many don’t. They choose to raise these issues in public spaces, encourage discussion, and seek out a fix, acting like a proxy quality assurance team.

At the small end of the spectrum, SEOs often flag bugs with Google systems, like a recent error in Search Console reporting flagged independently by three separate people, or Tom Anthony famously catching an oversight in Google’s Manual Actions database. While these types of problems don’t always impact the average user’s experience using Google, they help keep search systems working as intended.

At the other end of the scale, this feedback can extend as far as the overarching quality of the search experience, like AJ Kohn writing about Google’s propensity to reward big brands over small brands, or Lily Ray calling out an uptick in spam content in Google Discover.

SEOs are Google’s most passionate users. They interact with it at a scale far beyond the average user, and they can identify trends and changes at a macroscopic level. As a result, they are usually the first to discover problems—but also the people who hold Google to the highest standard. They are a crucial part of the feedback loop that fuels improvements.

SEOs act as a check-and-balance

Lastly, SEOs act as a check-and-balance, gathering firsthand evidence of how search systems operate, letting us differentiate between useful advice, snake oil, and Google’s PR bluster. 

Google shares lots of useful guidance, but it’s important to recognize the limits of their advice. They are a profit-seeking company, and Search requires opacity to work—if everyone understood how it worked, everyone would game it, and it would stop working. Mixed in with the good advice is a healthy portion of omission and misdirection.

Google Search plays a vital role in controlling the flow of the web’s information—it is simply too important for us to leave its mechanics, biases, and imperfections unexplored. We need people who can interrogate the systems just enough to separate fact from fiction and understand how the pieces fit together.

We need people like Mic King, and his insanely detailed write-up of SGE and RAG; Britney Muller and her demystification of LLMs; the late Bill Slawki’s unfaltering patent analysis; or our own Patrick Stox’s efforts in piecing together how search works.

Screenshot from Patrick Stox's presentation, How Search WorksScreenshot from Patrick Stox's presentation, How Search Works

Final thoughts

The web has problems. We can and should expect more from Google Search. But the problems we need to solve today are far less severe and painful than the problems that needed solving in the past; and the people who have the highest expectations, and will be most vocal in shaping that positive future, are—you guessed it—SEOs.

To SEOs: the cause of (and solution to) all of the web’s problems.

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