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Transitioning, Rebranding & Leading In SEO: Q&A With Rachel Heseltine



Transitioning, Rebranding & Leading In SEO: Q&A With Rachel Heseltine

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are major priorities for organizations in 2022.

But DEI has to be more than just a buzz term – and it needs to happen at every level of the organization, starting at the top.

McKinsey finds that those companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability.

The impact is even greater for organizations led by professionals with ethnic diversity; they’re 36% more likely to financially outperform the least diverse companies.

What does it look like in practice to be truly inclusive, supporting diversity and equity in real ways, in the workplace?

I reached out to Rachel Heseltine, VP of Customer Growth at Trader Interactive, to ask about her recent experience coming out to colleagues (and the world).

In this interview, Rachel shares what she’s learned about leadership through her transition, how her colleagues and company supported her, advice for underrepresented professionals in SEO, and what it takes to grow into an executive role.

Coming Out In SEO

What were the greatest challenges you experienced in transitioning from Simon, a fairly well-known male SEO professional and speaker/author, to Rachel?

Rachel Heseltine: “When I announced my transition at TI, I wrote a note to be read out to my team and to be shared across the organization.

Here’s a quote from that note:

I know that this may seem like a big deal to some, but to me it’s not. This is who I am, but fundamentally who I am hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is that I’ll now be wearing clothes that have an insufficient number of pockets.

The greatest challenges were pretty much in my head. ‘What would people say?’ ‘How would they react?’ ‘Will I be accepted or ostracized?’ – all valid questions, but all things that held me back.

I told my CMO in November 2019 about my situation but asked her to keep it to herself until I was ready.

I didn’t start to let friends know until late 2020 and didn’t talk to others at TI about it until August 2021.

Then, the full announcement to the company was made in early January.

I received a lot of lovely notes from folks across the company, several of whom I didn’t even know.

As far as my personal rebranding, I did have to change my Twitter user name, which meant that I immediately lost my verified status. Apparently, Twitter believes me to be a different person.

Then it was simply just changing my name in various places (as well as legally through the court system).

I’ve not gone back to places I previously wrote for, or spoke at, and asked them to retroactively change references to me. That’s the name I went by then, this is my name now.

Of course, my old domain 301’s to I’d not be much of an SEO if I’d not done that.”

Were there any welcome surprises along the way?

Rachel Heseltine: “There were a few friends that I was very hesitant to tell, unsure how accepting they’d be.

Each one has shown nothing but support and positivity.

Since I’ve gone public on Twitter and LinkedIn, I have had several other folks from the SEO community reach out to me to offer their support.”

Learning To Lead With Empathy

What new perspectives have you gained on life and leadership through your transition journey?

Rachel Heseltine: “Well, given that a chunk of my transition journey has been completed against the backdrop of a global pandemic, and a switch by many companies to remote working, I think we’ve all gained new perspectives on life and leadership in this new world.

We use a tool called Insights that measures personality traits, and we use that informationally to identify how best folks work, and work together.

I re-took this last month, after last taking it in May 2018.

My biggest difference is that I now lead with empathy, rather than 2018’s motivation (although that’s not far behind).

But given how the remote life and more distributed workforce has shifted more towards introversion than pre-pandemic, in the office, that makes sense.

When you can no longer do a ‘quick drive by’ of someone’s desk, you really need to pay more attention to different signs.

We also use a tool called Ring/Allie; Ring is for celebrating wins, Allie is for anonymous feedback – we pay close attention to both.

Every quarter the entire company does skip level meetings (we pioneered this in the Marketing Department).

It’s another great, regular touch base with employees that you may not meet with regularly, to get their opinions on how things are going, any issues they have, opportunities they see, tools they want, and how happy they are with their career direction (which, in the era of ‘The Great Resignation,’ is vital to know if you want to try and save someone before it’s too late).”

Supporting DEI In Real Terms

What advice do you have for underrepresented professionals in SEO – those who may be experiencing discrimination, or fearing reprisals if they come out as who they really are?

Rachel Heseltine: “Look for your supporters – folks you can lean on, folks you can reach out to, folks who will reach out to you.

You’re not alone.

There are others in the SEO industry who are in the same boat as you.

For example, there’s an LGBTQ+ SEO slack group that I’ve been a member of for a couple of years now.

Look for a therapist you can talk to, one with experience in your situation. They’ll know what the appropriate steps are and what speed to take them, based on your situation, as well as a good working knowledge of your protections in your state.

Look at your company, what initiatives do they have in place?

After the summer of 2020, TI officially formed a DEI (Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity) council.

That, and the work they did through that council, showed me that my company was going to work with me in a positive, supportive manner through my transition, once I informed them. And they did.”

Growing Into SEO Leadership

What path brought you to your VP role and what advice do you have for junior SEOs who aspire to leadership?

Rachel Heseltine: “I’m the Vice President of Consumer Growth, which incorporates SEO & SEM for our marketplace sites (RVTrader, CycleTrader, etc.), and dealer sites, Content Marketing, PR, Corporate Communications, and Social Marketing.

Basically, if it involves getting consumer eyeballs on websites, that’s my area.

I joined Trader Interactive (TI) almost four years ago, after leaving a similar position at a former sister company.

Before that, I worked at HPE and was a Senior Director running SEO for (at one point) 135 AOL O&O sites such as TechCrunch, Engadget, Huffington Post, etc.

I had a few other roles before that, and in my past life before SEO (pre-2005), I was a Smalltalk developer.

Don’t be afraid to take a step backward in your career for the right opportunity.

I went from a Director at a boutique agency to a Principal SEO Manager at AOL, with a 20% drop in salary.

I did that because the opportunity at AOL – to work with well-known, large publishing sites, and a large, established team of SEOs – was something that I knew would help me grow as an SEO.

Within two years, I’d been promoted to Director of Audience Growth, and three years later, Senior Director.”

What’s In Your SEO Toolkit?

What cool new SEO/AI tools are you using or excited to try out?

Rachel Heseltine: “Day to day, we use the usual suspects for crawling, competitive analysis, etc.

But, on the new tools side, Ryan Jones, SEO & SEJ author, has recently updated some of his tools, and I absolutely love his free Ngram tool.

I’ve been using that to help identify areas for improvement for our sites.

All you do is take your keyword list for, say keywords that other tools show you ranking on Page 2 for, plug them into this tool, and see what the commonalities are.

Then, it’s back to your spreadsheet to look for those specific keyword combinations, and then off you go to develop a strategy.”

What’s Next For Rachel In SEO?

You have major SEO accomplishments under your belt. Is there anything else you want to achieve in your career?

Rachel Heseltine: “I’ve been lucky enough to be named an award winner over the years, and at TI we were named the Best In-House Team at the 2020 Global Search Awards, as well as winning a couple of others at the 2020 U.S. Search Awards.

But, that’s not just me; it’s not even just my team. It’s always the entire organization; it really takes a village to build, support, and develop an SEO team.

For my future, I just want to keep improving TI’s digital presence and grow my team members.

What I would like is for those folks that have worked with me to be of the opinion that I’ve had a positive impact on their career, and that they, themselves, then do that going forward for the next generation that they manage.”

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Featured Image: Courtesy of Rachel Heseltine/Trader Interactive

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators



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.

Featured Image: Ascannio/Shutterstock

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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?



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.


For the first prompt’s answer, fails, identifying ChatGPT’s content as 94% human-generated. resultsScreenshot from, January 2023

For the second prompt, it worked and detected it as AI-written content. test resultScreenshot from, January 2023

For the third prompt, it failed again.

Sample ResultScreenshot from, January 2023

However, when I tested real human-written text, 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. 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, January 2023

4. 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, January 2023

You will notice that 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.


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



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


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, 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.


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.


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


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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