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Don't Miss Anything from Crowd Content.

Unveiling the Secrets of AI, NLP, ChatGPT, and ML

Key Topics:

  • AI,NLP, ChatGPT, and ML
  • How does AI, NLP, ChatGPT, and ML work
  • Pros and cons of using AI in your SEO process
  • Best ways to utilize AI in your SEO process
  • AI vs. Human: Who Will Drive the Future of SEO?


Britney Muller
Marketing & SEO Consultant + Data Science & ML Expert

Britney is passionate about Machine Learning and its intersection with Marketing/SEO. Previously Britney was the Marketing Manager & Head of PR at Hugging Face, Senior SEO Scientist at Moz, and Founder of Pryde Marketing (a boutique medical marketing agency). Currently, Britney is consulting for large Fortune 500 companies & experimenting with Data Science projects in her spare time.

Carlos Meza

Carlos Meza
President & CEO @ Crowd Content

Carlos is a guiding voice in an SEO and content creation industry brimming with turbulent growth. As CEO of Crowd Content Media, Inc., a leading content writing platform, Carlos has leveraged his past experience as a technology executive, engineer, and corporate financier to bring innovative end-to-end content creation solutions to SMBs and enterprise clients around the globe — delivering high-quality, scalable products through the marriage of human talent, technology, automation, and artificial intelligence.

Technical SEO Best Practices 2023

Technical SEO is as important as any other SEO tactic, but many businesses and SEOs don’t prioritize it.

Key Topics:

  • Website architecture
  • Robots.txt
  • Page speed optimization
  • Structure data
  • Crawl, render and index
  • Marketing/tracking scripts
  • Personalization best practices

Upcoming Webinar:

Unveiling the Secrets of AI, NLP, ChatGPT, and ML
Grow Organic Traffic with SEO GAP Analysis


Martin Splitt

Martin Splitt
Developer Relations @ Google

From Zurich, Martin is an open-source contributor and a web evangelist by heart. With a decade of experience from the trenches of software engineering in multiple fields, he works as a Webmasters Trends Analyst / Developer Advocate at Google for Search & web ecosystem. He helps people building applications or publishing content be successful, productive and visible.
Martin believes in the web platform and is working with bleeding-edge technologies that will allow the web to prosper.

Nizam Uddin

Nizam Uddin
Head of Growth @ Crowd Content

Nizam is a driven and result-oriented marketing leader with over 11 years of marketing experience. He has a proven track record of delivering results through SEM and SEO and specializes in technical SEO, conversion rate optimization, and on-page tactics. Nizam led an SEM agency division before joining Crowd Content.

Optimizing your Website for Conversions

What will you learn?

  • What is Content Infrastructure & Why Does it Matter
  • Give Readers What They Want, and Do It Fast
  • Appropriate Calls to Action to Convert
  • Analyzing User Data to Optimize Content Infrastructure Further


Nizam Uddin

Nizam Uddin
Head of Growth @ Crowd Content

Nizam is a driven and result-oriented marketing leader with over 11 years of marketing experience. He has a proven track record of delivering results through SEM and SEO and specializes in technical SEO, conversion rate optimization, and on-page tactics. Nizam led an SEM agency division before joining Crowd Content.

Cassandra Parsons
Vice President of Operations @ ViziSites

Cassandra Parsons is the Vice President of Operations at ViziSites, a Digital Marketing Agency focused on providing small businesses with marketing, branding, and consulting that fits their unique business plan. She is a passionate business & marketing professional, educating the healthcare industry on how to harness the power of modern technology in their practice in a stress-free way. With over a decade of experience in client service and marketing, Cassandra has honed in on how businesses can be most effective with their time spent on business and marketing goals. Outside of work, Cassandra spends most of her time caring for a fledgling homestead with her husband and 3 dogs, visiting family, or in the kitchen cooking. She’d love to chat with you on all things business, pets, food, or wine!

E-E-A-T Fireside Chat With Lily Ray

What will you learn?

  • Learn about “E” from the E-E-A-T
  • SEO in 2023

Upcoming Webinars:

Optimizing your Website for Conversions

February 8th at 11am PST / 2pm EST

Technical SEO Best Practices with Martin Splitt

February 28th at 10 am EST


Lily Ray

Lily Ray
Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research @Amsive Digital

Lily Ray is the Sr. Director of SEO & Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital (formerly Path Interactive), where she provides strategic leadership for the agency’s SEO client programs, while conducting extensive research on the latest SEO developments. Born into a family of software engineers, web developers and technical writers, Lily brings a strong technical background, performance-driven habits and forward-thinking creativity to all programs she oversees. Lily began her SEO career in 2010 in a fast-paced start-up environment and moved quickly into the agency world, where she helped grow and establish an award-winning SEO department that delivered high-impact work for a fast-growing list of notable clients, including Fortune 500 companies. Lily has worked across a variety of verticals with a focus on retail, e-commerce, b2b and CPG sites. She loves diving into algorithm updates, assessing quality issues and solving technical SEO mysteries.

Carlos Meza

Carlos Meza
President & CEO @Crowd Content

Carlos is an experienced technology executive with a background in engineering and corporate finance. Over the last 5 years, Carlos has been leading high-growth technology companies, currently as the CEO of Crowd Content (a high-growth freelance content writing platform) and previously as CEO of Kivuto Solutions (SaaS Edtech company). Before becoming a tech executive, Carlos spent 13 years working with multinational banks such as Citibank and HSBC in their mid-market divisions, helping entrepreneurs and management teams with everything from traditional debt solutions to more complex matters such as M&A and private equity. Carlos holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Industrial de Santander and an MBA from the University of Calgary.

E-E-A-T Fireside Chat With Lily Ray

During a recent fireside chat, Crowd Content’s CEO Carlos Meza talked with Lily Ray, Senior Director of SEO and Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital, about the new E in E-E-A-T. Lily Ray shared her thoughts on Google’s new search quality guidelines and the repercussions of ChatGPT and other AI-generated content. What follows is a transcript of their conversation.

Carlos Meza: We’ve gotten amazing feedback the other two times we’ve had Lily Ray here. The live SEO clinic was one of our highest-rated webinars based on a survey of attendees. We’re excited to have you here.

Lily Ray: I’m happy to hear that. I have a lot of talks coming up this year. Recently, it feels as if there’s so much new information in the SEO space that it’s throwing us a curveball. Although that’s normal in SEO, lately, there’s a lot of information all at once.

Carlos Meza: It sounds as if there’s a lot going on in our industry. This year will be an interesting year to watch, given all that’s going on, such as AI. I’m sure you get asked this question every single time, and we’ll probably cover a little of that.

Thank you for joining us, Lily. I’m sure our webinar attendees are excited to hear more about the new E in E-E-A-T. I wonder how many new Es they’re going to add, because there’s an implied E around effort, as well. We’ll also talk about that. So, why don’t we get into it and talk about the new E in the acronym. What is it and what are your thoughts about it? 

The New E in E-E-A-T: What It Means and Why It Matters

Lily Ray: The new E stands for experience. Google introduced it to the search quality guidelines in December 2022, two months ago. As they started to visualize E-E-A-T differently, they also repositioned it. Now, we have T, which stands for trust, at the center, surrounded by E, E and A. Essentially, the extent to which content has experience, expertise and/or authority lends to how trustworthy it is. So, while trust may be the most important factor, there are several ways you can arrive at being trustworthy.

The introduction of experience was interesting, although not too surprising because of what Google started to do with their product review update. They really started to talk about the importance of firsthand experience, which had previously been reserved primarily for product reviews.

If you read the search quality guidelines, they mention product reviews as the first example of the importance of experience. But, there are other situations, in which firsthand experience should be sufficient to demonstrate that content’s trustworthy.

Carlos Meza: There are a lot of things to unpack in that introduction. Can you mention one case where firsthand experience would be sufficient to demonstrate trustworthiness? What comes to mind when you mention that? 

Lily Ray: Interviews are the most obvious example. If you paid attention to what Google said about the product reviews updates and the related documents, such as the recommendations for site owners, they talk about needing evidence that you used the product, such as pictures and videos of you using the product. They don’t ask you to write in the first person, but you can read between the lines. It seems as if they’re really looking for wording, such as: when I did my testing, I experienced this and this thing with the product.

I wrote about this a couple of times when I talked about the product review updates. Last year, I actually did a number of talks and articles about how I think expertise is something Google’s focusing on but that they’re taking it in a different direction, where it’s separate from expertise. It’s experience, because you can be experienced in something without being an expert.

So last year — and maybe the year before — Google started getting a lot of bad press around not having enough results that demonstrated that users had really experienced the thing firsthand. So, people were going directly to Reddit, for example. Late last year, Google launched a new SERP feature, Discussions and Forums, where they’re elevating content from Reddit, Quora and other major forums where people answer questions.

That’s another example they talk about in the quality guidelines. If you’re a cancer survivor, of course you have experience. It doesn’t mean you’re an expert in cancer. It just means you’re an experienced cancer survivor. So, if somebody’s looking for what it’s going to be like to have cancer, a question that can be answered sufficiently by people who have shared that experience, that content can rank.

It’s an interesting nuance, but it’s a way for Google to show that they have relatable information in the search results.

Experience vs. Expertise: How They Affect Search Result Rankings

Carlos Meza: That begs the question: What’s the main criteria to be first? Is it experience or expertise? Maybe there are two parts to this question. Can you have both — and if you didn’t have both, which one would help you rank number 1 or at least higher? If there’s somebody with expertise and somebody with experience, maybe the one with experience ranks higher. Do you know where I’m trying to go with this?

Lily Ray: Yes. That was the first question I had. When is one sufficient to rank over the other? I think it comes down to the query and its intent.

My team and I are looking into this. There are a handful of modifiers that generally return experiential results. So, when you type “best,” you’ll generally get an experiential result. Anything that implies a search for a subjective result — someone’s opinions, experiences or firsthand accounts — will probably result in experience being sufficient. But, when you type “treatments for cancer,” it has to be expertise and authority.

In their quality guidelines, Google says only that quality raters should use their best judgment to understand how much experience, expertise or authoritativeness is required, given the nature of the content. So, it depends.

Carlos Meza: SEO’s favorite response: it depends. I hear you. The first thing that came to mind when you answered the question is this. I know we, as humans, are lazy. We want to type the least and have Google read our minds. Is this going backwards, because to get the best results, we need to be more specific, such as best how?

The way things are evolving, it’s almost like Google can read your mind. You just need to type a few characters and it starts guessing what you’re thinking. So, how can we think about that?

Lily Ray: It’s tricky. We’re working with several clients to try to figure out whether a page needs more firsthand experience to show it’s the best result. We’re working with some clients to pull in more UGC or talk to experts in the field. In general, that’s a good practice, because it shows you have a unique perspective or content. 

But, I think the larger conversation, especially with AI content, is that now it’s fair game for everybody to write the exact same thing, including using expert consensus — and not just with ChatGPT. There’s another one, Perplexity.ai, which uses and cites expert sources. That’s the way it generates content. So, we can all write the exact same thing and have it all meet previous understandings of what E-A-T means.

But, AI cannot create firsthand experience, by definition. It’s interesting timing, because Google suddenly introduced new criteria defining what constitutes good-quality content, although that’s not to say it’s necessary for all content. But, that’s something that only human beings can offer. It’s also something that makes pages unique, so it’s an important thing to focus on wherever you can. 

Carlos Meza: Perplexity.ai: Ask Anything is an interesting one. I think it’s a Chrome extension. That’s how it’s showing.

Lily Ray: They might have their own AI chat.

Carlos Meza: We’ll dig around AI a bit, because that’s always something people want to hear more about from you, to get your thoughts and experience.

Why E-E-A-T Centers Around Trust

Carlos Meza: You also mentioned trust when we started talking about E-E-A-T. I looked at the Venn diagram and how trust is now in the middle. Help us think more about that. What does having trust in the middle really mean for people or SEOs who are trying to figure this out? 

Lily Ray: There are so many elements that Google refers to. But, I think it has a lot to do with understanding:

  • Who the brand behind the content is
  • Who the content creators are
  • The incentive of the brand and the content creators (for example, reputation research)

This is something that’s been tricky for a lot of sites we’ve worked with and that I’ve looked at over the years with Google’s core updates. If you’re a law firm and you engage in an SEO program and your SEO tells you, “We need a lot of great content about what to do if you’re bitten by a dog,” the law firm is going to produce content that aims to get them clients. It’s just going to happen. If they had it their way, they’d probably write content that says you shouldn’t hesitate; you should call a lawyer immediately and here’s the phone number.

Google’s been cracking down on that type of content over the last several years, because it’s not helpful. Maybe you should call a lawyer, but what are all the options? I don’t only want to call this one lawyer. I need to know all the different options. What do I need to know about calling a lawyer?

Google is looking to provide truly objective content, but it’s very tricky for users. Trust is challenging for many sites because it might go against their best interests or they might not see the potential benefits. But, the more you can demonstrate to users why they can trust your content and why you’re objective, the better that content is going to perform for SEO.

Carlos Meza: What I’m hearing is that heavy self-promotion on your content probably won’t gain you trust. On the other hand, if you’re trying to be helpful, you can gain a lot of trust. Is that how we should view that?

Lily Ray: Yes. There are some examples of health sites, such as natural wellness sites or those that promote certain types of diets, that were hit very heavily in 2018 and 2019. They held a lot of market share in the space and did very well for SEO. They seemed to be able to rank for a lot of medical keywords. They lost a lot of visibility.

My team and I have done a lot of work, looking at the Wayback Machine to see what they’re changing, because they haven’t stopped trying to address the problem. They’re clearly making a lot of changes to the content. You can see the subtle ways they’re changing sentence structure. Previously, something may have said: this creates a lot of toxins in your body. Now, it’ll say: according to this and this source, having this thing in your body can cause XYZ concern. Then it links out.

The language is changing. It’s becoming less salesy in many cases. That’s what Google’s looking for. A lot of these examples have trended up in the past few years, but it takes a long time.

It’s a hard conversation to have with clients. You have to be careful about not pushing something on the user that’s not entirely trustworthy.

Building Sustainable Long-Term Growth

Carlos Meza: It’s a difficult balance, because clients are looking to get the fastest ROI, with leads and sales. They probably don’t want to hear that you have to earn that by providing a lot of helpful content. It’s hard to create a direct correlation between helpful content in the short term creating ROI. I believe in the long term it will. It’s hard for clients to understand the need to climb a very steep mountain before they can get the rewards. Is that how clients react sometimes?

Lily Ray: That’s probably the most frequent conversation we have with clients. This approach to SEO is the one that’s the hardest and takes the longest, but it’s the most rewarding. The best way to ensure sustainable long-term growth and minimize any risk of being devalued by Google is to do these things.

Are there other SEO techniques that get you greater results in a shorter amount of time? Yes. They all probably come with some element of risk. After Google’s link spam update last December, a lot of people who’ve never done anything wrong lost tons of traffic overnight. That’s because Google caught on to certain longstanding methods of link building. A lot of people were blindsided by that.

We can’t take those risks with our clients, so we like to do the right thing over the long haul. The problem is, it takes a long time, so certain clients might not see the results of this work until the next core update rolls out, after Google’s had time to reevaluate the site and see that it’s changing its course.

It’s stated in Google’s guidelines. If you read about their core updates, Google states that they need time to reevaluate your site, so you might not see recovery from a broad core update until the next update. In my experience and in the experience of others, it could even take two or three broad core updates, so it’s a long time.

Carlos Meza: I’m almost fearful to ask this, because it might be silly after what you just said. So, new quality rater guidelines came out in December, introducing a new E. It’s just February 2, but have you or your contacts seen any impact? Have you seen any signals in your shop?

Lily Ray: We’re looking for that. I don’t think we’ll necessarily see the new E manifesting in search results very much, very quickly. The search quality raters  didn’t have the new criteria to work from until December. In theory, they’re scoring search results right now. Potentially, that data will get factored into Google’s algorithms for the next core update or maybe the one after that. So, it could take months before the work they’re doing with the new E is translated into the algorithms, if at all.

There are some interesting examples. These might be based on Google’s own understanding of intent and the way it ranks results. An example my team uses is CBD oil for sleep. A number of doctors and authorities are talking about the benefits of CBD oil for sleep. That’s what you’d expect to see with most “your money or your life” keywords. However, there are two or three results that say: I tried using CBD oil for sleep for 6 months and here’s what I learned. So, there are expert results and experience results.

Whether it’s due to an algorithm update or it’s because Google’s always testing intent and what people like, more of these firsthand accounts are ranking. Essentially, users like to read that type of content.

Finding the Balance

Carlos Meza: That’s an interesting example. Back to the trust side of things, this might be a difficult question to answer, but do you think one component is more important than the others? Are they all equally important, or does it depend?

Lily Ray: I think it depends on the query. We know that Google cares more about E-E-A-T for topics that can potentially cause harm. That’s what they say. So, the more harm-inducing content is, the more E-E-A-T matters. For content where E-E-A-T matters the most, authority probably carries the most weight. For heart attacks, COVID vaccines, 401(k) investments, terrorism — anything that’s life or death — authority is the most important thing.

In many of these cases, what you’ll see in the search results are Google’s own search features, which highlight Mayo Clinic and Harvard. They started to do some things with the UN, FDA and CDC. For anything COVID-related, you’ll see CDC SERP features. That’s authoritativeness. The top three or four results are generally always going to be those sites.

That’s the A in E-E-A-T.  These are the trusted authorities. If you Google “tax keywords,” it’ll be the IRS. Yes, other people can rank, but authority is the most important component.

Then, for things where you need a doctor’s perspective or a financial advisor, expertise comes in. You can have CPAs, doctors and cardiologists — and their content — ranking. 

Experience is probably less than “your money or your life.” Again, you’re looking for a firsthand account of something, so it’s entirely query dependent. But, I think the more “your money or your life it is, the more it ventures into that authoritativeness category.

Non-Your Money or Your Life Topics and Their Relationship to E-E-A-T

Carlos Meza: That’s a great point. Going to the other side of the coin, in non-your money or your life topics, how should you think about E-E-A-T? Is there a way to get an edge by focusing more on experience or authoritativeness? How should we think about non-your money or your life topics and their relationship to E-E-A-T?

Lily Ray: I always say this. Even if you’re writing content that doesn’t impact a person’s safety or well-being, or your blog or your website is about a topic on which Google says you don’t need high levels of E-E-A-T, why wouldn’t you include it?

I think the answer to the question is usually: I’m creating a website that I want to just rank for SEO and try to make a lot of money. So, I don’t want to put my name behind it. I don’t want to put the author’s name. I don’t want to talk about who I am. I don’t want to include an address because I’m just doing something for SEO purposes. In these cases, E-E-A-T doesn’t really enter into the equation.

But, for most legitimate businesses, for most people that are doing a personal blog or a personal brand, why not follow all the best practices? I always say this. Even if E-E-A-T has no impact on your SEO — which it will — it will impact your conversion rate. It will impact user experience on the site. It makes you look more legitimate. Other search engines like that. There’s no reason not to.

There are some exceptions, such as if you don’t want to share your name for safety reasons. I’ve worked with editorial teams who don’t want to put their names behind something because it’s a safety concern. Of course, don’t do that. But, generally speaking, everything we’ll talk about for E-E-A-T is a good practice for businesses overall. 

Carlos Meza: What I’m hearing is if you can, why not — if it’s going to give you an edge anyway. And, if you’re just putting up a website for the sake of SEO, making some bucks, it’s probably not going to last longer because you’re not building that E-E-A-T. Is that what you’re trying to say?

Lily Ray: Yeah. People love to share examples with me of things that don’t have E-E-A-T in the ranking. Congratulations! You found an anomaly in a search engine with trillions and trillions of results. How is that possible?

Yes, of course it’s possible to not do these things and to rank, especially for Your Money or Your Life content — and a lot of content falls into that category if you think about it. There’s not that much content that doesn’t have an impact on somebody’s well-being, safety, happiness, health or financial security. Most of it falls into that.

I would just do it, even if it’s just for your customers because they’re all good practices overall.

Carlos Meza: That makes sense, because quality content is definitely a more sustainable strategy if you’re in the content business, which I think we all are in some shape or form. If you have any kind of business, you’re in an information content business. But, that’s a different discussion.

How to Scale Experience

Carlos Meza: Let’s talk about media publishers for a second. There are a lot of media publishers. They’re legitimate businesses, of course, but their business is information. They might have their own experts, but they also leverage outside experts because their main business is to produce content.

As they get bigger, and they start branching out into more topics or into the same topic, but with subtopics, how can you scale experience? Let’s say you have a travel blog. How can you possibly go to every single city and every single hotel and every single restaurant? So, how can we think about scaling firsthand experience?

Lily Ray: If Google was answering, they’d probably say don’t write about it unless you have the experience. But we all know that’s not possible. We all know we make money off ad revenue. So, you have to just do your due diligence to speak to people with the experience.

I’ve spoken to more journalists in the last several weeks than at any other point in my career. That’s because suddenly, everybody needs to talk to somebody with experience in SEO about what’s happening.

That’s what you should do if you’re a journalist. Hey, I’ve never been to this country or this city, but I’m looking to speak to people that have and get their firsthand accounts. It’s journalistic. It’s integrity. It’s speaking to people with the experience.

I think the mistake that many people are probably going to make this year and going forward, is thinking that rehashing the same generic content that already exists, using tools that are growing easier to use, more readily available and cheaper to scale content, is sufficient to create content.

But, what I think Google and the other search engines are going to figure out is how to find out who’s said something original. Honestly, more often than not, if you do speak to an expert — and they’re actually an expert — they’re going to say something completely new. Even if they’re saying something that’s already been written about on the web, they’re going to have their own perspective on it.

I think this notion that there’s nothing new to add to the conversation isn’t true when you actually speak to experts. There’s always something new. 

Carlos Meza: Well, everybody has an opinion. So, what you’re saying is a great way to go about it is taking a journalistic approach. Maybe you don’t have the experience yourself, but can you find somebody to lend you that experience and put it in the content and bring that opinion to a piece? That’s a good way to put it. 

The Intersection of ChatGPT, AI and E-E-A-T

Carlos Meza: I still have a lot of questions. Let’s go back to what you were mentioning about AI. So, ChatGPT came out in November. There’s been a ton of information around it and a lot of buzz. So, what’s your take on ChatGPT and everything that’s going on around the AI trend and machine-learning technology, which is very interesting? There’s now a new app popping up pretty much every day that is AI in some shape or form.

So, what’s your view on the world of content and also the relationship to E-E-A-T? I know you briefly touched on it, but I want to go a little deeper. Probably, some people in the audience want to hear about it.

Lily Ray: Yeah. There’s so much to say about it, but first, I want to be very clear. Nobody knows. Whatever I theorize, I don’t actually know. I don’t think anybody does. I think we’re all in a state of speculation and guessing. I think, including Google, nobody knows how it’s all going to play out. What we can probably safely assume is that over the next however many months, SEOs, content creators and others are going to be using these tools a lot to create content — which I have my own opinions about.

I wouldn’t recommend it right now, for the most part. Certain applications make a lot of sense, such as category description pages. Maybe you start with AI content. You tweak it a bit. That’s harmless.

Things that are boilerplate, that are hard to mass generate at scale, these tools can be helpful for that. Of course, you should review them. I think creating entire articles with these tools is pretty dangerous, even if the content is high quality.

Let’s imagine that Google finds a definitive way to determine that this is AI content and launches an algorithm update in three months that says: we’re devaluing all this content because it’s effortless. The search quality guidelines say that the amount of effort that goes into a piece of content matters for the quality of the content, and if it shows that it doesn’t have a lot of effort or skill it should be rated low quality. So, we were warned as far as that’s concerned.

They didn’t tell us that AI content is bad. They told us auto-generated content and content that demonstrates no effort, skill or originality is bad. If you read between the lines, mass auto-generating content with ChatGPT is essentially that.

That’s not to say it isn’t a good starting point. It’s not to say it’s not great for content ideation and keyword research. Many people are posting information about how to use ChatGPT for keyword research, keyword clustering and content ideas. Of course, do that. But, copying and pasting ChatGPT content onto the page probably isn’t a good idea right now, as it stands. Maybe when GPT-4 is released, my opinion will change. 

Also, as somebody who likes to write content, and whose content has a good track record of performing well with SEO and social media, I like putting my name behind my content. I’d never use GPT in my content. The whole point of me writing is that I like to write. I like to share my ideas. I have my own ideas. Even if I’m sourcing content from different places, which AI could do, I prefer to do it myself. Maybe that’s an old-fashioned way of thinking about writing, but generally the content performs pretty well, so I’m going to keep doing that.

So, it’s really tricky. It’ll be interesting to see how Google responds. 

I do want to say that I think there are a thousand Incredible use cases for GPT. I have been using it. I use it to create Excel formulas. I use it to create Regex commands, robots.txt directives and tabular data. 

That’s awesome. That’s amazing. It’s already improved my workflow quite a lot. But, I would be careful about thinking it’s going to be the solution to your content scale problem, because who knows what’s going to happen.

Could AI Lead to Content Evolution?

Carlos Meza: So, how I’ve been thinking about it is back in the day, accountants used to do everything by hand. Then, calculators came in, and they didn’t replace accounts. They just made them faster and better. Then, Excel and other accounting software came in. If anything, before, accountants could handle a handful of accounts. Now, they can handle 30, 40 or even 50 accounts because they have all this technology.

Is this a case where AI will make content creators more efficient, so they’ll push the boundaries of what can be created, and they’ll create different types of content that includes other types of media? That’s just my guess or my opinion about where things could go. But, if content creators or writers are more efficient in some lower-end tasks by using AI, can they invest or reinvest that efficiency into originality, as you mentioned, or creating better content? Does that make any sense?

Lily Ray: Yeah. I agree. It’s fascinating to think about Microsoft incorporating a tool like this into Microsoft Word. That’s awesome. That would probably speed up the writing process for a lot of different topics that people are writing about.

Already, I saw a funny tweet that said: everybody wants to create AI content but nobody wants to read AI content. Maybe, as it stands currently, it doesn’t read entirely like a human all the time.

But, based on what Google tells us is a best practice for E-E-A-T best practices, we should tell users who created the content and have as much transparency as possible around how the content is created. Essentially, they’re asking us to do what CNET just did, which is to say, “If we’re being honest, this was created using AI content generation.”

That created a whole scandal. It turns out that some of the facts were wrong. It turns out that much of it was plagiarized. Now, that’s a bad mark against AI content, which could potentially influence how some people feel about it for now.

So, there are a lot of ethical questions we have to figure out. But, to your point, there are absolutely ways to use it as a tool to accelerate your process. I will be doing that. I think many people are going to be doing that. But again, what’s going to perform the best over time, once the search engines get a good handle on this, is truly the content that has something different, unique and original in it.

AI’s Potential Threat to Google

Carlos Meza: All of these conversations are around Google and E-E-A-T. Now, with things changing and Microsoft making all these big investments, do you think Google’s monopoly or market share is going to be eaten into by what’s going on around AI and ChatGPT? Some people are theorizing: if you can just ask a question to ChatGPT, why would you go to Google’s SERP to get a bunch of links instead of just getting a succinct answer? Some people are asking that.

So, do you see a world where Google loses some of their market share to some of these technologies? I know we’re just playing crystal ball.

Lily Ray: Generally speaking, I think the answer is probably yes. But, do I think it’s going to deal a death blow to Google overall? No, maybe not for now at least.

Number 1, ChatGPT is a shiny object that everyone is obsessing over. It seems as if Microsoft might be integrating it into Bing and other products, but we don’t know what that’s going to look like. We don’t know if and when this thing leads to some massive PR scandal where they have to turn it off. That’s happened with other AI features in the past.

We don’t know how cost effective it is to continue to have it be free, as it’s been over the last several months. Actually, we know it’s not cost effective. It can’t be free forever. So, everyone’s used to using Google for free and getting answers rapidly. We already know that won’t always be possible with ChatGPT. So, until there’s a ChatGPT that’s as fast, free and widely available as Google, I don’t think it’s going to pose a huge threat to Google. 

Now, we also don’t know what Google’s doing on its end. We know Google owns DeepMind, which is part of the Alphabet family, and they do something very similar. We know Google has LaMDA. We know Google’s talking about launching something called Sparrow. Google’s not sitting there twiddling its thumbs. It’s paying attention and it has a good track record of launching products that people like.

Who knows how they’ll monetize it, but maybe in 6 months we’ll all be completely mesmerized by Google’s AI tool and not talking about open AI anymore. We just don’t know.

Carlos Meza: Those are very interesting comments. You have a lot of credibility in the market doing this for so many years, and I think people listen to what you’re saying.

Going back to E-E-A-T and effort, can you give us a good example of something that has really good effort put into it? Writing a blog with AI, your effort is just clicking a button and prompting the AI, but what’s a good example of effort going into the content?

Effort — The Other E in E-E-A-T

Lily Ray: I talked a lot about this last year. Again, I was calling it expertise, but I was really talking about experience in many cases. I shared a lot of examples in which the expert is the same person creating the content or at least putting their name behind it. We don’t know if they’re actually writing it. Bob Vila comes to mind, as does a site called Smith’s Pest Control.

So, I talked about these businesses in which the person who leads the business, the person who’s the face of the business — whether they’re a pest control expert going out there and killing roaches all day or a home contractor who’s doing renovations — is the same person whose name is on the content. When you read the content, there are pictures of them on the job or even the roach they killed.

First of all, they’re taking their own photos. A lot of it is: hey, a lot of contractors will charge you for this and this thing, but you can consider doing these things at home. We’ve talked a lot about these DIY solutions. It’s actual helpful advice that’s not trying to sell something but is legitimate experience and expertise. 

You know the difference when you’re creating this content. I’ve created content with clients. I’ve created content with my friends, where you just say the thing that you know about the thing that you do. You can’t look for that stuff in keyword research tools. It’s actual firsthand experience.

So, those sites come to mind. Diet Doctor always comes to mind. That’s a gentleman who talks about the keto diet, but if you look at the content, it’s just beyond. With the amount of effort that goes into it, nobody would question this page. He doesn’t have a lot of content, but the content he has is incredibly robust. My thought is: Wow, you win. I can’t do any more research than that. I can’t have any better photos than that. The UX is incredible. You can tell when a piece of content has a lot of effort behind it.

I was looking at the some of the Bankrate and CNET articles in the news, that were written by AI. I couldn’t tell that it was written by AI, but when you compare it to content that’s written by a human, it doesn’t really go as in-depth. It just talks about the basics but doesn’t add a lot of unique information beyond that.

Carlos Meza: Wow. That’s very clear and very helpful. So, why don’t we take a few questions from the audience now that we’re 15 minutes away from our deadline?

Q & A With Lily Ray

Carlos Meza: Alaina Bergen says: I work at a life insurance company. We currently have a couple of in-house experts we’re using as expert reviewers for content. They have a significant digital presence because they host podcasts and are quoted everywhere. We have a lot of other experts in-house, but they aren’t as visible online. Are they bad expert reviewers to use? What’s your recommendation for vetting expertise and how Google will see a personal expertise for expert reviewers?

Lily Ray: Generally, the more you can do to demonstrate that you’re doing the right things, the better. Google isn’t going to pick and choose between this expert or that expert in most cases. Most of the time, it doesn’t know who people are.

I’ve taken a deep dive lately to confirm that, because a lot of talk in the E-E-A-T conversation has surrounded how Google can’t possibly know who everybody is.

I’m working on some research now. They’re getting better at it. They’re starting to get better at understanding who people are. But, how can you inform what Google knows? Start taking steps. Even if those experts aren’t well known and don’t have a digital footprint, you have to start somewhere. You have to put their name on the site somewhere, assuming they agree to it. 

I think we’re getting to a place where it’s in everybody’s best interest to try to have somewhat of a personal brand, whether they’re an expert or they’re trying to be perceived as an expert online. Of course, if you don’t want to participate in SEO, you don’t have to, but if you’re in the business of getting traffic to a company, it looks good.

Yesterday, Google posted pictures of the search advocates and their bios on google.com. So, it looks good for brands to show who works there and for searchers to be able to validate that by searching for the person’s name.

I think, as much as you can, make it a practice within your business to say, “Hey. Even though you’re an expert without a huge digital footprint, can we just include your name? Think about starting a bio page.” You don’t have to do it right now, but try to incorporate that into your strategy over the long term.

Carlos Meza: I hope that answered the question for Alaina. This is a very technical question. What type of changes do SEOs need to make in their Schema markup or structured data, if any, to accommodate the new E?

Lily Ray: I think it’s the same general recommendations that we’ve had around E-E-A-T for a while. Anything you can do to make your organization, authors and experts — I love personal schema for E-E-A-T — build it out as much as possible.

Talk about their credentials. There are so many attributes in a person’s schema that people don’t use, including “knows about,” so you can say knows about this, this and this. Went to school, has credentials — use all that stuff.

Go to schema.org. Look at all the attributes. See which ones you can verify with the person and put that in your person’s schema. It’s the same with the organization. If the organization has been around for X number of years, or they’re owned by this parent company, it shows experience and expertise. There are also attributes for content, such as “reviewed by,” so look into doing that for anything that’s been reviewed.

Generally speaking, I’d suggest starting schema.org, look at the attributes that make sense for that schema property and fill out as many as you can.

Carlos Meza: Andy Gucci asks: how are you using the perplexity.ai tool you mentioned?

Lily Ray: I’m not using it yet. I was using it this week to see whether it is true that it can cite sources properly and how it’s doing that, because ChatGPT has not proven to be the most effective at citing sources. Perplexity claims to be better at doing that.

This is a better example of what it might look like to get the AI content and also have the sources at the bottom. Hopefully, whatever Google and Bing decide to do, citations and sources would be nice. Perplexity is just another visualization of what that might look like.

Carlos Meza: It’s sort of a citation tool, if that makes sense? Will it supply the sources, and you can cite them in your content?

Lily Ray: Yes. It’ll tell you where it got the information from and you can actually click on it and go to the site. So, it’s a blend between featured snippets and ChatGPT.

Carlos Meza: Are there any verticals in which you see the new E being harder to demonstrate than others or where could it be an advantage?

Lily Ray: We’ve worked with numerous product review sites in the last few years, and they’ve said it’s not always possible for us to do what Wirecutter does. It’s not always possible for us to test all the baby strollers before we write about them. It’s not something our company can do.

Yeah, that’s the point. That’s why Wirecutter ranks for everything. Their entire business model is to do that.

It’s not possible for a travel blogger to go everywhere, so maybe you don’t write about the places you haven’t been to. It’s hard.

I think Google is in the business of reducing content that’s created just for the sake of creating content. In a sense, write about what you know. Don’t write about things you don’t know.

As far as where it helps you, there are product reviews or your experiences going through any type of situation. I recently played around with writing content. I’m a digital nomad, so I was writing a blog about some things I’ve learned as a digital nomad. I didn’t have to use any tools for it. I just wrote what I knew. So, I encourage people to write based mostly on what they actually have to say and less on what the tools are telling you to write.

Carlos Meza: That’s a good point, because now all these tools tell you that you need to write about certain topics, but then you have no clue what you’re writing about. I like what you said about how AI cannot have the experience. It’s just a machine, so it can’t have experience.

This question is from me. Do you think AI can write better than some low-quality writers? A lot of people think they can write, but is AI writing better than some humans — leaving experience and expertise aside — in terms of readability, etc.?

Lily Ray: Of course it can. That’s one nice benefit. It’s well written. Asking it to write poetry and songs, that’s so much fun.

It’s a good writer. That’s what’s tricky about it. For some people, it’s actually better than the content they were creating before. But, when a hundred people post content that’s basically the same content, it loses its voice.

Carlos Meza: True. I think that will definitely push out some low quality writing or maybe it will help low-quality writers improve by helping them rephrase and get more succinct. I’m very interested to see what’s going to happen.

Is there a checklist or a way to optimize for E-E-A-T? What are your bullet points for someone who wants to optimize for it?

Lily Ray: There isn’t really a checklist. However, Google has an article that’s called What Site Owners Should Know About Google’s August 2019 Core Update. Google’s been using this article for 3 years, going on 4 years. There’s a list of questions you should ask yourself when you’re evaluating E-E-A-T. Look at this.

Then, there are the search quality guidelines and the product reviews updates. As much as that’s focused on product reviews, they have a similar article for that, that also has questions. You can basically copy those into a spreadsheet and use that as your checklist.

Carlos Meza: That’s a great idea. So, Anna is asking: What’s your advice be for a personal finance website where a team of writers reviews products, such as loans or credit cards, which nobody could realistically have experienced as a user of each product?

Lily Ray: This is where UGC becomes valuable, particularly if a lot of people are saying the same thing. If you’re reviewing it, you can indicate that while you were reviewing consumer feedback about the credit card, you noticed that 64% of the reviews mentioned a particular component. Essentially, the best you can do if you haven’t actually used the product or service is leverage what other people have said about it. But, try to reach out directly to people who have something to say and use that if you can.

Carlos Meza: So, it goes back to the journalistic approach you mentioned before. If you don’t know, talk to someone who does and bring that information.

There are two more AI questions. Stuart says: I’m struggling not to parallel the current AI content plagiarism debacle with the spun article activity prior to 2012, before the Penguin and Panda algorithm rollouts — agree or disagree?

Lily Ray: I love that question. I think that’s why I’ve been wary of the whole thing since it became the hot topic in SEO. I got badly burned by the Penguin update in 2012. Granted, that was different. That was link building. The Panda and Penguin updates really changed how we approached content and SEO.

As somebody who never wants to find themselves in that situation again, I’ve been reluctant to believe it’ll solve the problem of how to scale content very cheaply. I think Google’s going to be one step ahead of us. So, I tend to agree.

What’s different now is that AI-generated content often does sound good, so there will likely be a period of time during which we can trick users into thinking it’s human-generated content. However, I imagine Google will catch up to it soon.

Carlos Meza: I don’t see a world where Google doesn’t come out with something to check on AI or low-effort content.

Daniel wants to know if AI is useful for writing FAQs. I have been playing around with AI-generated FAQs and just spot-checking the answers. For many of these questions, the answers are pretty simple and direct.

Lily Ray: That’s a good question. I would be careful because there are several examples of sites that have done exactly this in the last several months that have seen all their traffic disappear. Granted, they were doing it in an egregious way, so they were scraping people-also-ask questions, using something worse than ChatGPT to create the answers and then creating entire sites based on that.

That’s the worst possible example. It’s different from just adding FAQs to the end of a page. But, that tells me that Google already figured out how to find out that people are doing that. They’re trying to figure this out.

So, just be careful, because the next person who has the same approach of just adding AI-generated FAQs may have the same FAQs as you. Some things may be a little different, but it’s largely the same thing.

Carlos Meza: I would add some perspective from my point of view. I think if you produced content and then asked a tool to summarize it or create an FAQ based on that content, it may be a good use case. Essentially, take the content I produce, feed it into a tool. Can you produce usable bullet points and FAQs out of this?

Lily Ray: I love that. That’s a great idea. 

Carlos Meza: I use it to summarize some of my own sentences. It helps me write succinctly. It’s still the same essence, but with a different style. Plus, it checks for grammar. We see a way where you can feed it your own content and data to create things that are useful, but you’re putting in the legwork for the tool. The tool is just something to augment or enhance your process.

We’re now approaching the end. I always walk away with some great takeaways from listening to Lily talk about E-E-A-T. I’m sure our audience does, too. It’s an interesting world ahead of us. We’ll keep bringing great guests to provide value to all of you and help you navigate these interesting SEO and content waters.

Scaling SEO Campaigns in 2023

Join Crowd Content’s CEO Carlos Meza and 20-year SEO expert Dale Bertrand on November 29th at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET to learn how to scale SEO campaigns in 2023.

Increasing your organic traffic can be difficult. Even the top brands, including Kraft, HP and IBM, struggle to build web traffic even when following SEO best practices.

Scaling massive organic traffic requires a different set of SEO strategies and allocation of resources that go far beyond traditional best practices.

What will you learn?
– How leading brands invest marketing resources into SEO strategies
– Proven SEO scaling strategies
– How brands with modest resources can leverage SEO scaling strategies

If you’re unable to attend, register to receive the replay.

Disclaimer: By registering for this event, I agree to receive email communications from Crowd Content and its guests/co-hosts

When Is It?

November 29th at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET


Dale Bertrand

SEO and AI Strategist | Keynote Speaker | Business Coach

Dale Bertrand has been an SEO specialist to Fortune 500 companies and venture-backed startups around the world for two decades. His clients include global brands such as Citizen Watch, Nestle, Raymond Weil and Bulova. He applies his graduate school work in artificial intelligence to search engine marketing. Dale speaks at industry conferences, leads corporate training events and serves at Entrepreneur in Residence at the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs Organization. He has trained marketing professionals from TripAdvisor, Microsoft, HubSpot, Digitas and Proctor & Gamble. Dale has BS and MS degrees in Computer Engineering from Brown University.

Carlos Meza

Carlos Meza

President & CEO @Crowd Content

Carlos is an experienced technology executive with a background in engineering and corporate finance. Over the last 5 years, Carlos has been leading high-growth technology companies, currently as the CEO of Crowd Content (a high-growth freelance content writing platform) and previously as CEO of Kivuto Solutions (SaaS Edtech company). Before becoming a tech executive, Carlos spent 13 years working with multinational banks such as Citibank and HSBC in their mid-market divisions, helping entrepreneurs and management teams with everything from traditional debt solutions to more complex matters such as M&A and private equity. Carlos holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Industrial de Santander and an MBA from the University of Calgary.

Live: SEO Clinic With Lily Ray

Lily is an acclaimed SEO expert and is the Director of SEO & Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital. She provides strategic leadership for SEO client programs while conducting extensive research on the latest SEO developments.

She brings a solid technical background, performance-driven habits and forward-thinking creativity to all programs she oversees.

What’s an SEO Clinic?

A live, interactive webinar where SEO experts provide professional audits of submitted websites in real-time to website owners who can participate in the dialogue.

When Is It?

Nov. 2nd, 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET.

How Can I Get My Website Audited?

Simply sign up by submitting your website for consideration via the below form.

What Will I Learn?

How to convert your website into your best salesperson, recruiter, trust-builder and educator. It’s that simple.

Special Guest

Lily Ray

Lily Ray

Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research @Amsive Digital

Lily Ray is the Sr. Director of SEO & Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital (formerly Path Interactive), where she provides strategic leadership for the agency’s SEO client programs, while conducting extensive research on the latest SEO developments. Born into a family of software engineers, web developers and technical writers, Lily brings a strong technical background, performance-driven habits and forward-thinking creativity to all programs she oversees. Lily began her SEO career in 2010 in a fast-paced start-up environment and moved quickly into the agency world, where she helped grow and establish an award-winning SEO department that delivered high-impact work for a fast-growing list of notable clients, including Fortune 500 companies. Lily has worked across a variety of verticals with a focus on retail, e-commerce, b2b and CPG sites. She loves diving into algorithm updates, assessing quality issues and solving technical SEO mysteries.

Live: SEO Clinic With Jeff Romero

Real-Time Website Audit to Start Winning SEO

Is your company website working for you? Or could things be better?

Crowd Content is here to help. We’re proud to introduce our new live-webinar series, SEO Clinics.

Our first guest is no other than acclaimed SEO & website expert Jeff Romero.

Jeff is the founder of Octiv Digital, a full-service digital-marketing agency with a focus on SEO that has helped hundreds of businesses improve their websites to dominate search engines. With Jeff’s expert experience in guiding business owners to the top of Google, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!

Submit your website and sign up today to join our live interactive webinar where Jeff will audit a select number of websites live, on the spot and in real-time.

Who said good advice wasn’t free and readily available?

What’s an SEO Clinic?

A live, interactive webinar where SEO experts provide professional audits of submitted websites in real-time to website owners who can participate in the dialogue.

When Is It?

Glad you asked!

Oct. 19th, 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET.

How Can I Get My Website Audited?

Simply sign up by submitting your website for consideration via the below form.

What Will I Learn?

How to convert your website into your best salesperson, recruiter, trust-builder and educator. It’s that simple.

SEO Clinic Registration

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Special Guest

Jeff Romero, Cofounder, Octiv Digital

Jeff Romero is the founder of Octiv Digital, a digital marketing agency with a focus on SEO. Jeff has been in the SEO industry since 2008, having worked on the agency side and in-house for e-commerce retailers managing large websites. He holds two bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Information Systems from the University of Utah, where he credits his initial interest in web design, development and digital marketing. As the founder and lead strategist of Octiv Digital, Jeff is responsible for guiding clients’ strategies to acquire more organic traffic through technical SEO, content and link development.

Exclusive: Fireside Chat With Lily Ray

Using the E-A-T Approach to Improve Your Page Rankings

In September 2022, Crowd Content CEO Carlos Meza held a fireside chat with Lily Ray, Senior Director of SEO and Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital. They discussed recent Google algorithm updates and current SEO trends, specifically E-A-T, an SEO approach that focuses on communicating expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Below is a transcript of their discussion.

Carlos Meza: Let’s start with some SEO basics. Our audience probably has varying levels of SEO experience, but I want to set the stage and hear from Lily what E-A-T is and why it’s so important.

What Is E-A-T?

expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google was pretty quiet about incorporating E-A-T into its algorithm. Back then, Marie Haynes was probably the only SEO professional who was paying attention to it.

What happened was that people in the SEO industry started to notice that Google was elevating authoritative content, especially on sites with medical and political content. To fight back against “fake news” and misinformation, Google released a series of algorithm updates that seemed to prioritize E-A-T and use it as a measurement of content quality. There’s almost a political layer or an information accuracy layer to it, as if E-A-T helps users trust the quality of the content on the sites they’re visiting.

E-A-T is especially important on Your Money, Your Life websites, which typically publish information that can affect a user’s health, safety or political beliefs. There’s a spectrum of how much it matters, but if you publish Your Money, Your Life content, it’s very important.

Information Quality

Carlos Meza: Okay, so you mentioned a few important terms, such as misinformation and quality of content. Would it be fair to say that E-A-T is closely related to providing truthful or really accurate information?

Lily Ray: That’s the goal. Google has said they have no way of knowing at face value if something is accurate or not, but they use the E-A-T mechanisms to understand the qualities of pages that tend to show accurate information consistently. Those types of pages and sites are going to rank better for controversial search queries.

Carlos Meza: That’s very interesting. So what types of sites should really care about E-A-T from your point of view?

The E-A-T Debate

Lily Ray: There’s been a big debate about this throughout the SEO industry. If you’ve ever read Google’s documentation, which has evolved over the years, they’ve said there’s a spectrum of how much it matters for Your Money, Your Life content. Then Google went and redefined what Your Money, Your Life means a couple months ago. Up until then, the search quality guidelines said that Your Money, Your Life content could be any of the following:

  • Health
  • Finance
  • Legal issues
  • Government sites
  • News sites
  • Shopping sites

So it was almost everything on the internet, but they changed it in a pretty big way this year. Your Money, Your Life now means a website’s potential ability to cause harm to users. So if someone is reading something that could cause them to inflict damage, hurt themselves or cause any type of harm to themselves or someone else, that’s Your Money, Your Life. It could be financial harm, misinformation that leads you to vote a certain way or something that causes more obvious physical harm. It’s subjective, but the more your content gets into that territory, the more you should concern yourself with E-A-T.

Carlos Meza: Again, that’s very interesting on the misinformation trend. In recent political races, there was a lot of misinformation and coverage around what was happening on social media. I remember a few months or years ago, there was a game that was prompting kids to do crazy stuff. That’s an extreme example, but do you have any other examples you could share with us? What would be something that isn’t too clear that could cause harm or cause Google to see it as potentially harmful?

Your Money, Your Life Content

Lily Ray: It’s interesting that you bring up that example. I don’t know if you’re referring to Tide Pods, but Tide Pods is a perfect example of why the E-A-T concept exists. In fact, Google includes Tide Pods in its search quality guidelines as an example of how “Your Money, Your Life” something is. They actually rate it as the most extreme possible instance of Your Money, Your Life content.

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with what happened, there was information circulating online that it’s fun to eat Tide Pods, a type of laundry detergent. They’re toxic, so eating them is extremely dangerous. People died from doing this. So now Google has it in the search quality guidelines that if you write this type of content, it’s a Your Money, Your Life keyword. Hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic is another good example. 

It’s not always something obvious like guns or politics, though. There’s a lot of different things that could be considered Your Money, Your Life content, so the context really matters. 

Examples of Your Money, Your Life Topics

Carlos Meza: That’s really interesting. I was just thinking about how there was a “game” that was prompting kids to complete suicide. Obviously, you’d stay away from that topic, but is there an example that comes to mind that doesn’t involve eating something harmful or committing some type of physical harm?

Lily Ray: Yes. Almost everything with finance is going to fall into Your Money, Your Life. Google is really strict about crypto content for sure. We get a lot of inquiries from crypto clients who can’t rank for anything, and I tell them that’s by design. Anything related to student loan forgiveness, 401(k) accounts and the best credit cards. Almost anything you can think of on the financial side is going to require the highest levels of E-A-T.

One thing I’m noticing, even with the most recent update from a few days ago, is that it doesn’t even matter how much you tell Google you’re trusted and how much you’ve edited and reviewed the work. It’s the bank or the government institution that talks about taxes or whatever the financial topic is that’s going to rank. It’s really challenging in some categories because it doesn’t matter how good your E-A-T is if the Justice Department is going to rank number one.

Use Case: Nolo and Investopedia

Carlos Meza: I was reading one of your recent tweets about Nolo and Investopedia. With the update, I think they lost some positions, and then the banks and government entities were ranking first. Is that what you’re alluding to?

Lily Ray: Yes. I want to be clear that when I make those types of speculations, I’m looking at several examples. It would take centuries to look at everything that happened, so this is based on a few different use cases that I’m finding of what changed in the search results. This is a time-consuming process, but I’ve found multiple examples with this update.

In this case, I think it might have been Nolo where people were searching for state-specific information and Google was prioritizing state and city government websites. So even if Nolo or Investopedia has the best content on the internet—and they do have amazing authors who are looking up all the right information—sometimes Google just wants to elevate the source of that information above the article with the great SEO and great E-A-T.

Sometimes Google pushes up all the authoritative sites and then kind of lets them go down. So for the holidays, you’ll see other sites rank, but these are the types of trends I’ve been paying attention to over the years. On a larger scale, you can see the authorities are starting to rank better than a lot of the publisher sites.

E-A-T and Brand-New Topics

Carlos Meza: Very interesting. I want to go back to your comment about crypto because this is an interesting topic. Of course, we have a writing platform, and clients come to us asking for writers for certain topics. They’re asking about crypto a lot, and I always kind of scratch my head. How can you find an expert on an industry that hasn’t been around for long? What would you say to somebody that said I want to create E-A-T content on something as new and complex as crypto?

Lily Ray: I wish I had a good answer. Honestly, there’ve been so many companies that I’ve had to say, “I just can’t help with this” because it’s too new of a space and it’s too hard to prove expertise. I also think there are certain things that are blacklisted on Google, like topics that they’d rather have Bank of America handle than a crypto blog. So I don’t have a lot of experience in that category. 

I think you would follow all the best practices you’d follow in any other industry, such as being evidence-based or fact-based, demonstrating your expertise, building a personal brand and not having any get-rich-quick schemes on your website. That’s all going to help you in the long run.

E-A-T and Review Sites

Carlos Meza: Okay, I have a question from the audience. What about anything related to getting a degree, such as careers and education. I think they’re alluding to what we were talking about with Your Money, Your Life. What are your thoughts on these types of topics?

Lily Ray: Honestly, I’d have to dig in a little bit more. With the recent update, one of the big winners was a site called Public School Review. They had a sister site called Private School Review, and both sites went up. I’m going to have an article coming out shortly that will show what these sites are. This is a really volatile space as well, because it’s similar to what Google is doing with product reviews on e-commerce sites.

Depending on the query itself, you might type in “associate’s degree” and Google will likely show some colleges that are specialists in that area or near you. Then it will also show some review content, like “school degree reviews.” I think the distribution of how many reviews they show compared to how many colleges they show can change over time.

It’s tricky because Google is crushing a lot of these review sites, as it is with affiliate sites. If you have a review site, I’d follow the best practices that Google lays out in its product review guidelines.

Carlos Meza: One of my questions is, from your point of view and your experience, what are some of those best practices around creating E-A-T content that we can share with our audience? I’m sure they’re eager to hear about that.

Best Practices Around Creating E-A-T Content

Lily Ray: The good news is that producing good E-A-T content usually comes from the same best practices you’ve been following for decades. If you’re using the things they taught in high school when they taught you how to write a good term paper, you’re writing good E-A-T content.

  • You shouldn’t state facts without backing up your claims with evidence, links and citations to where you got them from. 
  • You should be really careful about where you’re getting your information.
  • You should list the name of the author, the editor or the reviewer and put some biographical information about them.

In the E-A-T space, we’ve been talking about author biographies for a few years. Something I think is interesting is that just yesterday I Googled “Diet Doctor authors.” This is a small diet website, and they have a content program with different people writing on their blog. Google had a whole search feature that highlighted all the different authors as different entities. 

People have been saying for years, “Oh, there’s no way for Google to understand who the site’s authors are.” I think they’re getting better at it, so be really clear about who your authors are and why they’re experts. Use structured data that talks about your organization and your authors and why they’re experts in their field. You can also do the following:

  • Make your pages as easy to use as possible.
  • Use tables of contents.
  • Include content summaries.
  • Use jump links.

On Healthline, which is one of the biggest winners of the last few years, you’ll notice every section of the page has a summary. We know users probably aren’t reading all of this content and are just skimming the summaries, so all of these things make the pages easier to use. That makes them great for E-A-T.

Determining Expertise

Carlos Meza: Awesome. So stating the facts, highlighting authors and just making it easy to read. In our experience, it’s difficult to get experts in certain areas. Like I was saying, crypto is a head scratcher. The other day, we got a request for someone with expertise in ancestry. So an expert in that would be someone like a DNA doctor.

Are there just some topics where it’s just hard to go out there and post on LinkedIn and say “I’m looking for an expert in X?” What are your thoughts on that? We talk about an MD in health or maybe someone with a finance or law degree, but there are a lot of gray areas where I think, “How would you even determine expertise on that topic?” I would love to hear your advice on that.

Recommended Tools

Lily Ray: Two tools come to mind. There are a lot more than this, so I’m sorry to anybody that I’m not including in this list, but SparkToro and BuzzSumo that have an author search function where you can say, “I’m looking for specialists in this area.” SparkToro, which is Rand Fishkin’s tool, will tell you the whole ecosystem of podcasts and YouTube channels and everything that’s related to the subject you’re interested in, including influencers on different social platforms.

There are many other tools focused specifically on finding expert writers in different areas, so that’s another way. You can also get creative with Google Scholar. I do think there’s going to be a big industry in the future, if there’s not already, for hiring experts to contribute to your site or review your content for accuracy. If someone hasn’t launched that site yet, they should think about doing it.

Subject Matter Experts

Carlos Meza: I mentioned this on one of our webinars, but one of the things we come across is that people come to us and say I want a doctor that writes or a lawyer that writes. Sometimes we can’t find one. Sometimes experts can’t write very well. They may also want to charge you an arm and a leg because they’re entities and their time is very, very expensive.

So what we’ve done is pair really, really good writers with subject matter experts (SMEs). The SME fact checks and sometimes bylines the articles. Is this a way that people can create authoritative content? Honestly, sometimes it’s very hard to get an MD who wants to write an article.

Lily Ray: Absolutely. I’m always recommending that. Of course, it’s the best-case scenario if you can have a doctor. With the site I mentioned before, The Diet Doctor, I think the doctor’s name is Andreas. He’s a doctor, but he’s very involved in the content strategy of the site, which is an amazing example. You can see from the rankings of that site that this strategy is working really well for them.

Obviously, you can’t get most doctors involved in this kind of thing, but if you can get them involved and have them review for accuracy, please do that. To the extent that you can ask them for a quote or contribution, that’s also very helpful.

The Importance of Information Accuracy

Lily Ray: For me, I think the most important thing is that they’re not signing their name without actually reviewing the content. I’ve seen a lot of sites try to get on the E-A-T bandwagon in the last few years, and they don’t do the work of changing the content. They just say, “This was reviewed by an expert.” Who knows if that expert was paid a certain amount of money to put their name on it? Also, Google is smarter than that.

Google has natural language processing abilities, and it’s insane what they’re capable of doing these days. If you think they’re not smart enough to figure out that you’re just putting somebody’s name on the content without actually changing it, it’s not going to work for you. Information accuracy is the most important thing with this process.

Carlos Meza: Very interesting. I kind of equate this with people who want to lose weight and try fad diets that are supposed to work in a matter of days. No, you have to put in the reps and go to the gym. You really have to do the work if you want to rank. I think that’s a great message. There’s really no way to hack your way around E-A-T. You’ve just got to put out good content and do the work. It’s not easy, but it’s a simple equation.

Lily Ray: That’s the number one question I get most. It’s always something like, “What’s the score?” It’s like page experience: “How do we just get a green checkmark?” It doesn’t work like that.

The Role of Entities in E-A-T

Carlos Meza: So we mentioned the word entity before. I want to ask you, what’s the entity’s relationship with E-A-T? I know this might be a little bit technical, but I would love to hear your thoughts on that.

Lily Ray: Great question. I spoke at several events this year specifically about that, so I think there’s absolutely a big connection between what Google is trying to do with entities in general and evaluating the E-A-T of those entities.

To take a step back, a good way to think about entities is to start thinking about Google’s Knowledge Graph. When you Google certain people, places and things, Google is going to show you that right sidebar or that top of the search results where you can see, “Oh, you searched for Brad Pitt.” We know who that is. We know he’s a person, he has all these pictures, he has all these movies and this is where he was born. Google has a database of billions of facts about people, places and things. Those are entities, and they’re known entities in Google’s system.

I don’t think that the Knowledge Graph is the only place Google has all this information. I think they have a lot more than what they show in the Knowledge Graph. In fact, they’re starting to roll out new features that demonstrate that Google understands who many different authors are even if those authors aren’t listed in Google’s Knowledge Graph.

How Google Views Entities

I think the way that entities play into E-A-T is that Google can identify a specific author or doctor. It has all these qualitative attributes about a doctor:

  • What they specialize in
  • How long they’ve been doing it
  • What kind of reviews they have from patients

When that doctor’s name is attached to a piece of content, Google sees it as a vote of confidence for the content and maybe the brand itself. The domain is also an entity. If you’re The New York Times, you get a vote of confidence across the board because you’re The New York Times and Google knows your editorial standards. I believe that Google is evaluating the E-A-T of these different entities. When you bring good E-A-T entities together, you’re going to rank better.

Carlos Meza: Thank you. That was very educational. So I have a controversial, or maybe not controversial, question, that keeps coming up in many talks. What do you think about AI-produced content—I think people have been mentioning Jasper in particular—in terms of E-A-T? Do you use these tools to write content? What do you think about all of these AI tools that are popping up?

E-A-T and AI-Produced Content

Lily Ray: It’s a huge, important conversation to have in our industry. I think the Helpful Content update, which just finished, was a great time for us to talk about what’s happening here. So many people are using these AI content tools to just throw up content websites and get a bunch of revenue, and they’re doing it in a not great way. Of course, I firmly believe the algorithms don’t always know the difference. I think there are tools that can reverse-engineer things and say, “Oh, this is obviously AI content,” but not always.

I think there are a spectrum of beliefs on this, but there’s definitely a use case for AI content if it’s very helpful or very informative. One example that comes to mind is e-commerce. AI content is probably fine for e-commerce if you’re summarizing all the product specifications or everything that people have said about the products. You don’t need an expert to write that, and it can help you diversify the page content so that it’s not all duplicate content. I think that’s fine. Would you use AI to write an article on what to do if you’re having a heart attack? No. So it depends on the context.

Carlos Meza: That’s a great point. E-commerce is a good use case. I think the media and sometimes all these people think, “I’m just going to push a button. I’m just going to get an article up. I’m going to produce 100 articles per day.” I think that’s a misconception. I think that AI is a tool that helps people write faster or maybe rephrase something if they’re not sure it’s right. You cannot come up with the substance of an article via AI.

The AI is like using Excel. It’s going to make you faster at doing numbers and spreadsheets, but you need to give it really good input. In our experience, AI is just a tool to help writers write faster or maybe help you create an outline for an article. You still need to add the substance and the facts on your own, so you’ve got to do the work as we were saying before. Thank you for sharing your view on that.

Authoritative Authors and Sites

Here’s a question on the topic of authoritative authors and sites. Wikipedia ranks as an authoritative site, and its authors are anonymous. Pages are more difficult to edit these days, and if bias is introduced into Wikipedia, clients have the challenge of raising the E-A-T of their entire industry. What is your view on working with Wikipedia editors as a strategy for E-A-T?

Lily Ray: As a strategy for improving E-A-T, Google does use Wikipedia content directly in some cases, so you have to be careful about what’s shown there. For example, with the Google feature that lets you see more about a result, you can see information about the website Google is ranking. If they have a Wikipedia page, it’s going to pull directly from Wikipedia.

In a sense, that’s an E-A-T concern. Whatever Google is showing there, whether it’s good or bad, reflects on the brand. That said, I haven’t used Wikipedia editors for anything.

Google’s Recent Algorithm Update

Carlos Meza: Why do you think there was a core update right after the Helpful Content update?

Lily Ray: The data I’ve been analyzing since the core update concluded looks like what I expected to see from the Helpful Content update. There’s a lot of low-quality content that’s doing exactly what the Helpful Content update says not to do. That content is being hit by this core algorithm update. Whether or not the Helpful Content update classifier is being used in the core update, the principles of the Helpful Content update are being looked at, so you can treat them as the same thing.

Carlos Meza: What has been the impact of the recent algorithm update?

Impact of the Core Update

Lily Ray: This is a tricky one. If you asked me two years ago, my answer would have been that Google is trying to elevate content with great E-A-T and minimize fake news and misinformation. There used to be a lot of sketchy sites that would say to use apple cider vinegar for rosacea. That content was going away, so it was more clear what was happening.

Lately, it hasn’t been that clear. The recent core update is confusing because there are a lot of good E-A-T sites that saw declines. For example, Investopedia saw a decline after seeing increases after almost every previous update. CNN saw a massive decline. Really big news sites, especially UK news sites, are seeing enormous declines. They’re the biggest declines we’ve seen in the past several years.

Changes by Content Category

It’s important to look at each category. Dictionary sites and stock photo sites saw big changes from this update. When that happens, you can usually dig in and see that Google has decided there’s a new type of search result that should be showing for this query. For example, if you typed in “Justin Bieber” a month ago, maybe it was all celebrity gossip and now maybe it’s mostly stock photography. That’s just an example of when Google decides the intent is different for keywords.

If you work at a stock photo website, you might think, “Yay! We did something right.” Not really. Google just decided that your content is the better result. In 6 months, they might decide it’s the worst result. So people can get really carried away thinking they did something right or wrong. No. Google is just doing a better job serving the user’s intent based on their search terms.

Avoiding the “Algorithm Game”

Carlos Meza: How can someone try not to play the algorithm game, or at least try to minimize the ups and downs associated with algorithm updates?

Lily Ray: Be everywhere so that if Google decides the intent has changed, you’re there. If they decide it’s now video content, you have a video strategy. If they decide it’s images, you’ve got great image optimization. I saw an interesting example this week with a client of ours that was ranking on page one for the keyword “weight gain.” It was something like, “Does eating cheese make you gain weight?” They’re not ranking on page one anymore, and when you look at it, you think maybe it wasn’t the best match for the user’s intent. Google asks, is there a page that’s a better match for the keyword “weight gain”?

There are many different subtopics, so you should have content for all of them. If Google decides that the user’s intent has changed, you’ll have other answers.

How to Be Everywhere Online

Carlos Meza: You mentioned video, but can you give more examples of what it means to be “everywhere”?

Lily Ray: Here’s an example. We have a client that runs a skincare e-commerce site with products and categories. They’ve checked the boxes in terms of selling products, as they’re in the e-commerce space. But they also have buying guides and product reviews, so now they’re in the product review space, which is a different intent. They also have an ingredient dictionary. That means every ingredient found in their skincare products has its own page defining what the ingredient is. So now they’re getting into a bit of WebMD territory.

If someone types in a search related to vitamin C skin care, the company has a chance to rank every time, whether Google thinks the user is looking to learn more about vitamin C skin care products or searching for vitamin C ingredient information. So it’s having all the different types of content. You should be on YouTube, Google Discover and all the places you can be.

Going Deep and Wide with Content

Carlos Meza: Would it be fair to say the recommendation is to go both deep and wide?

Lily Ray: Yes. People aren’t always looking at the search results. You should look at what types of results are ranking and make sure you have the media required to be in all those places, including video and images.

Carlos Meza: A lot of SEOs panic when they hear about a new algorithm update. What would you advise them to do?

Lily Ray: Hopefully, you have a good set of keywords you’re tracking, including daily rankings. Tools that don’t track daily rankings are behind the times at this point. You have to be able to look at where things were before the update and then what happened after. It’s important to identify patterns. I have my team track all kinds of queries. You can see which pages saw the biggest declines and which keywords saw the biggest declines.

Carlos Meza: You mentioned we should be using tools to track rankings on a daily basis. Do you have any favourite tools?

Ranking Tools

Lily Ray: My personal favourite is Stat, a tool owned by Moz. The best thing to do is take many keywords, put them into Stat and check daily to see what happens with each keyword. It’s easy to export data and analyze data at scale. Rank Ranger is a similar tool owned by Similarweb. Of course, everyone uses SEMrush and Ahrefs, and those tools are great as well.

Getting on Google Discover

Carlos Meza: What tactics and tips do you really recommend for getting on Google Discover?

Lily Ray: Discovery refers to the ads; Discover refers to Google Discover, which is Google’s version of a social platform. It shows you articles and resources that are curated to your specific interests. It’s one of the most underutilized features of Google in the SEO space. We have clients that get way more traffic from Google Discover than Google Search, but it’s a specific type of site, so I’ve been doing some data analysis recently about what works.

Generally speaking, it’s catered toward people’s interests. So if someone is obsessed with a band, they’ll see content about that band. If they’re obsessed with NASCAR, they’ll see a lot of content about NASCAR. Anything that’s nostalgic to people. Google just announced in a new feature in Discover where if they know your fashion sense based on how you’ve searched for fashion in the past, you’re going to get more Google Discover content that shows how people are wearing your style.

If you ask someone from Google, they’ll say there’s no way to optimize all that. But the reality is, the more niche something is, the more catered it is to someone’s specific interests. Titles also matter a lot. If it sounds like clickbait, it works in Discover as much as Google says it’s important not to use clickbait. A client of mine refers to it as “fandom stuff.” Sports, celebrities or anything that elicits an emotional response from people.

The Helpful Content Update

Carlos Meza: Let’s talk about the Helpful Content update. How can somebody recover if they were hit by it?

Lily Ray: I’ll be honest. We had a client that got hit this week that I wasn’t expecting. They’ve been doing a lot of things right, so it happens to the best of us. Google’s guidelines are a great place to start, as well as content published by Google about the Helpful Content update, the core algorithm update and the product review update. If you take all the different questions that Google says to think about and put them all in one spreadsheet, you can objectively look at your content and make sure it’s answering all those questions.

It’s also important to understand changes in intent and think about where you can compete and where you can’t. If you know that Google decided all the keywords you’re trying to rank for are best served by dictionary sites, but you’re not a dictionary company, you might want to try something different. You’re not going to launch a dictionary, so you need to be honest about what’s ranking and stay true to what your site is an expert in. Hopefully, Google will get better at understanding real expert content.

Carlos Meza: From talking to our clients and following some of the influencers out there, it seems like when the Helpful Update was first rolled out, the impact was really mild. Some people said they weren’t impacted, but I thought, “No, let’s not declare victory just yet.” Do you think the dust has settled, or should we still be in that attentive mode? When can we say, “Okay, I think we’re past this”?

Helpful Content Update vs. September Core Update

Lily Ray: I don’t think the dust has settled. I think we should treat the September core update as the Helpful Content update because it was catastrophic. Some data provider sites have said in the past few days that they don’t think the September core update was that big. They need to look again.

I’m seeing a pattern where some of these sites are doing exactly what the Helpful Content update says you shouldn’t be doing. One example is publishing content on several topics using AI, using cheap writers or saying what everyone else is saying. There are a lot of ads on the pages, and the content isn’t that helpful. Sites doing that at scale and then layering product reviews on top of it are being penalized. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Helpful Content update or the September core update because the general approach Google is using indicates that you need to focus much more on unique, expert content.

Revising vs. Replacing Content

Carlos Meza: If you have a site with some content that isn’t great, are you better off trying to upgrade the content or just getting rid of the content altogether?

Lily Ray: You can create your own system for analyzing where you should get rid of that content. You can review many data points, such as the following:

  • Has the content received traffic in the past year or two?
  • How many keywords does the content rank for?
  • How many links does the article have?

Put that all into a spreadsheet and come up with your own criteria for what you should keep and what you should replace. I usually like to get rid of content instead of keeping it if it’s not doing anything. The only risk is if you have links to it or you think it enhances your overall E-A-T. Don’t get rid of topics that are necessary to prove to Google that you’re an expert on something. If it’s not doing anything, get rid of it.

Carlos Meza: What I’m hearing is that you should have your own criteria, but if it’s dead weight, you should get rid of it. Is that fair?

Lily Ray: Yes. I’m hearing more people complain about how their content isn’t getting indexed than ever before. Google will like your site better if you provide better content.

What’s Ahead?

Carlos Meza: What vertical are you most excited to work with right now in terms of SEO?

Lily Ray: I wish I had government clients because it can be really difficult to compete on Your Money, Your Life topics. Believe it or not, insurance is a fun category. You can get really creative with it. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of big news publisher websites, health and medical sites, and sometimes finance sites that are affected by these algorithm updates. It’s a huge effort to figure out what’s happening and give clients a roadmap to get back on track, but that’s what I like to do the most regardless of content category. You get to see the results of your work.

Carlos Meza: What advice would you give SEOs about future-proofing their content strategies?

Lily Ray: Don’t buy links. Don’t break any of Google’s rules. There are a lot of niche site groups online, some with great content and some with not-so-great content. My clients can’t take the type of risk where they’re using AI to create a bunch of content and putting ads on the pages. At first they rank really well, and then they get a manual action or they get completely removed from Google two weeks later. If you’re focusing on E-A-T and content quality, you’re future-proofing your site. Don’t publish articles on topics you don’t have expertise in.

Carlos Meza: I agree with you about the link buying. Just don’t break the rules. There’s no hacking your way around the rules or hacking your way into high-quality content. As humans, we want a quick fix, but you have to put in the work and be serious. I think Google is making it tougher and tougher, which is why we’re all about high-quality content and advise clients on creating that content.

I think people still need some education on this. They think they’re going to slap 100 articles on a website and start ranking. It usually only works for a short amount of time. Any other advice related to the topics we’ve been discussing?

Stay Focused

Lily Ray: With the updates that just happened, stay focused on the bigger picture. It’s really easy to look at these updates in isolation and say, “We lost this much traffic.” Then if you zoom out, you’ve actually gained traffic for the last five years and it’s a slight correction. Google doesn’t owe you anything. They make tweaks, and sometimes you get caught up in that. 

If you’re seeing SEO as a growing channel over the years, keep doing what you’ve been doing. Stay focused on the bigger picture and don’t get disheartened if you get negatively impacted by one of the updates. Look at what’s doing a little better than you and maybe adjust your strategy accordingly.

Carlos Meza: It’s a long game. I’ve always shared that view with you. In the long run, if you’re doing the right things, it should pay off.

What would you advise if a client is on a shoestring budget and needs to create extra content? 

Lily Ray: I often talk about the tattoo artist I worked with in New York in 2016. I spent time with him and helped him figure out the two or three most important questions that he should answer on his website. I asked him all the relevant things he knows about those topics and wrote down what he told me. It was expert advice; we didn’t have to look anywhere else for the information. It’s now 2022, and he’s still ranking in featured snippets for that content. His expertise gave me the answers to those important questions, and it cost almost nothing.Carlos Meza: SEO is a long game, but it’s also the gift that keeps on giving. If you get a page to rank, it might stay there for a while, bringing in traffic and leads.


Lily Ray

Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research @Amsive Digital

Lily Ray is the Sr. Director of SEO & Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital (formerly Path Interactive), where she provides strategic leadership for the agency’s SEO client programs, while conducting extensive research on the latest SEO developments. Born into a family of software engineers, web developers and technical writers, Lily brings a strong technical background, performance-driven habits and forward-thinking creativity to all programs she oversees. Lily began her SEO career in 2010 in a fast-paced start-up environment and moved quickly into the agency world, where she helped grow and establish an award-winning SEO department that delivered high-impact work for a fast-growing list of notable clients, including Fortune 500 companies. Lily has worked across a variety of verticals with a focus on retail, e-commerce, b2b and CPG sites. She loves diving into algorithm updates, assessing quality issues and solving technical SEO mysteries.

Carlos Meza

Carlos Meza

President & CEO @Crowd Content

Carlos is an experienced technology executive with a background in engineering and corporate finance. Over the last 5 years, Carlos has been leading high-growth technology companies, currently as the CEO of Crowd Content (a high-growth freelance content writing platform) and previously as CEO of Kivuto Solutions (SaaS Edtech company). Before becoming a tech executive, Carlos spent 13 years working with multinational banks such as Citibank and HSBC in their mid-market divisions, helping entrepreneurs and management teams with everything from traditional debt solutions to more complex matters such as M&A and private equity. Carlos holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Industrial de Santander and an MBA from the University of Calgary.

Webinar: Winning the Local SEO Game

Crowd Content’s Director of Content Creation Rick Leach and BrightLocal’s Local Search Expert Claire Carlile on September 22nd at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET: learn about Local SEO.

What will you learn?

  1. What is Local SEO, and why should you care about local SEO?
  2. Proven winning Local SEO strategies
  3. Local SEO ranking factors
  4. The future of Local SEO
  5. What is Local SEO content
  6. How do you write local SEO content
  7. Type of content that will amplify local SEO
  8. Local SEO tools

If you’re unable to attend, register to receive the replay.

Disclaimer: By registering for this event, I agree to receive email communications from Crowd Content and its guests/co-hosts.


Claire Carlile

Local Search Expert @BrightLocal

Claire Carlile is BrightLocal’s Local Search Expert. Her work at Claire Carlile Marketing, where she helps small businesses do better at digital marketing, allows her to provide real-world skills and expertise to what BrightLocal does. She’s spoken at several SEO conferences, including BrightonSEO, SearchLove Philadelphia, and SMX.

Rick Leach

Director of Content Creation @Crowd Content

Rick Leach is the Director of Content Creation at Crowd Content, a leading content writing service that helps brands and retailers create high-quality content at scale. With a roster of over 6,000 vetted writers, a powerful content creation technology, and a unique production process, Rick helps brands create and scale high-quality, publish-ready content that drives results.

Webinar: How to Supercharge Your SEO Strategy With Schema Markup

Martha van Berkel is the co-founder and CEO of Schema App. Before starting Schema App with her husband Mark van Berkel, she worked at Cisco for 14 years. After doing structured data manually for businesses, the pair built the app to generate and deploy sophisticated schema markup at scale while measuring ROI.

When Google reads your structured data, it understands the relationships between your content. It can then infer things in order to answer the searcher’s intent. Today, I’ll teach you a little bit about how you can start doing that within your own content.

The search engine result page has evolved significantly, and it continues to change. What I like about structured data is that it gives you an element of control over how you show up in these pages or Google My Business. This is where I’m really passionate; you have so little control over your search engine results, so I love that there’s a lever that you can use in order to control your brand.

What is schema markup?

Structured data is an SEO strategy that helps Google understand your content and how it relates to other content on your site. It also helps you stand out in search results.

I’ll use both the terms structured data and schema markup interchangeably — within the SEO space, they’re the same thing. (If you have a technical background, you might know that data can be structured in HTML, table constructor, or in an SQL database.) At Schema App, we tend to use “schema markup.” It’s more specific, and it can’t be misconstrued with other things.

Structured data is code that’s based on a vocabulary called Schema.org. Think of it like a vocabulary for search engines, just like English, French, or Spanish. Schema.org is not owned by Google; it’s a collaborative community that evolves the vocabulary to explain what things are based on the changing needs of the world.

For example — over the last couple years, the community has invested in the health side of schema markup to help describe vaccines and other new developments.

In 2019, Google requested that website owners use structured data to help Google understand content and be found across platforms. Three or four years ago, we were talking about using schema markup for voice search. Now, we’re talking about discovery on all surfaces, including smart homes, cars, and voice assistants.

Why should website owners care about schema markup?

Google understands structured data code, but why should you care? It’s a way of taking control of your brand to help it show up in search results.

What is a rich result? Why is it important?

Structured data enables your website to show up in “rich results” — special search-results features. Currently, there are 32 documented types of rich results.

Some examples include:

  • Books
  • Breadcrumb
  • Carousels
  • Local business
  • Jobs
  • FAQ
  • Events
  • Speakable
  • Software apps
  • Recipes

We’re going to explore which of these apply to your business and your website. We’ll also identify the ones with the highest ROI to help you achieve your goals. These rich results show up beautifully in the search engine results — they’re hard evidence you can use to make a business case.

Some of my favorite options for businesses are:

  • Products: This markup is a common option for physical and digital products.
  • FAQ: FAQs can be used across any industry.
  • Video: Structured data helps users find your video and get them to watch it.
  • How to: If your business is trying to get people to self-serve, how-to is a great way to help customers find the right support documentation.

Does Google really care about structured data?

In April of 2022, Google’s Search Off the Record podcast did an episode on structured data. Ryan Levering, a software engineer at Google, joined the hosts. They talked about how structured data gives control to the user. Of course, they need to give you a reason to do it — that’s why they have rich results.

A few key points from the podcast:

  • How Google uses structured data: Google consumes structured data to produce rich results, but also to understand topics. Google’s machine learning can understand only so much of the page. When they need a little bit of help or clarity, they’ll sometimes go to the structured data for more information.
  • Structured data should align with the content on the page: The podcast noted that it’s not a great idea to set up structured data manually and then forget about it. That’s because of schema markup drift — where the structured data doesn’t actually represent what’s on the page. A better option is to do it programmatically, as we do at Schema App.
  • Future plans: Eventually, Google plans to use structured data across the entire Google experience. In other words, it’s not going away, so now is a great time to get started.

How to use structured data to supercharge SEO and inform content strategy

The schema markup process starts with strategy: what should you optimize for what outcome? After you know that, it’s a question of creating the JSON-LD, a process we call “authoring.” Then, you need to deploy it on your website and maintain it. Finally, there’s reporting and analytics, which helps you measure the value.

For this discussion, my primary goal is to make sure you understand the strategy. Where should you start? What are the types of things that you should optimize? How do you measure that outcome?

Structured data strategy

When it comes to structured data strategy, I like to start with your business goals and the key content in your customer journey.

  • What are the key pieces of content you want customers to discover? If you run a healthcare organization, you might want patients to find your physicians, services, or hospital locations. In a technology business, it could be your products or support documentation. Or, if you’re trying to solve problems for a specific industry, you might want to make white papers easier to find.
  • What content do your customers need to find to help achieve your business goals? Are you trying to grow a specific area of your business? Where is that business represented on our website?
  • What do you sell? You might sell services, digital products, or physical products.

Example of a structured data strategy

Let’s look at how I would break down our strategy for Schema App. I’d start by looking at our company’s key content pieces: who we are, our solutions, and our products. We also have case studies and blogs to establish thought leadership, as well as support that helps customers maximize the value of our product.

Key ConceptsWhat is it?Where is it on the website?
CompanyOrganization www.schemapp.com
Case studiesArticle/sap-case-study//customer-success-story-advent-health//customer-success-story-keen-footwear/

Next, I’d figure out what each piece of content is in terms of the Schema.org vocabulary. What’s my company? Well, the company’s an Organization. What’s my solution? It’s a set of Products. Case studies and support pieces are Articles, and blogs are BlogPostings.

As you’re learning to understand this vocabulary, try visiting Schema.org. Search for different types of content, being as specific as possible. For example, if you offer services, try searching for the type of service.

Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to figure out where each piece of content is on the website. Where is the product listed? If it’s mentioned on multiple pages, which one is Google going to show in search results?

For each major key content piece, it’s important to have a primary page that talks about the specific topic. That way, Google knows exactly where to go. This is particularly important when it comes to your products and services.

Do you need a primary page for each topic?

Nizam Uddin: I’ve seen website owners who have multiple pages for services add schema markup on all pages, hoping that Google will pick one. That seems like a guessing game. Is it not the right solution? Should you focus on one and go from there?

There’s some debate about this. For example, you shouldn’t have organization markup on every page — then, Google has to figure out which is actually talking about your organization. We won’t go into detail, but this can be addressed with something called “nesting.” This is a more sophisticated structured data strategy: you use the schema markup to explain exactly what’s on the page, and then you can nest in information about the organization that’s publishing the page to define that relationship.

In the Google podcast about structured data, host John Mueller talked about having one type of content on the page. I agree — the key is to make sure that each page is about one thing. Then, you can add multiple content types within that structured data.

For example, if you have a page about a service, you can multi-type it with both service and product structured data. That makes you eligible for multiple rich results. If you add an FAQ to the page, you wouldn’t make FAQ the primary topic of your structured data. Instead, it would be a service that’s the subject of the FAQ. That way, Google knows that the page is about a service, but you’re still eligible for the FAQ rich result.

Identifying opportunities for rich results

The next step is to figure out if you can get a rich result for any of these pieces of content. This is important because when you’re investing in SEO, you need a measurable outcome. Ideally, you’d find at least one type of rich result for each of these pages.

You can also use structured data to inform your content strategy. When you write content, you’re probably trying to rank for a specific keyword or answer a customer’s question. As you start to add schema markup, it’s important to keep that intent — but also, think about how you can capitalize on rich-result opportunities to stand out in search.

Your goal is to build content specifically for the desired outcome.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the Schema.org content type?
  • Could you put the article in how-to format?
  • Will it have video?
  • Will it have a FAQ at the bottom?

At Schema App, this is something we do as part of our sales process. I listed the rich results we could get on different types of content. Then, we added corresponding elements to each page as we built it. The product page has a FAQ section, and case studies often have videos.

Key ConceptsWhat is it?Where is it on the website?Rich Result
Case studiesArticle/sap-case-study//customer-success-story-advent-health//customer-success-story-keen-footwear/Article, video
BlogsBlogPosting/blog/Article, video, how-to, FAQ
SupportArticlehttps://support.schemaapp.com/supportArticle, Q&A

You’ll notice that for the company page, I’ve marked “not applicable.” That’s because home pages don’t typically get rich results. However, it’s still important to have structured data to help Google understand your organization.

Let’s look at an example. A physician is a local business, but they can also get customer ratings — a different rich result. On individual physician pages, they could include a rating, rating count, and an FAQ that explains the person’s biography and areas of specialization. This makes the page eligible for more rich results, which helps it stand out in searches.

Imagine that you have a product page without pricing or ratings. You could add a FAQ section to make sure it’s answering the initial questions people have about the product.

What structured data do you need to get rich results?

Once you have a rich result in mind, go back to Google’s documentation and identify the required and recommended properties. These elements must be in the structured data code.

If you want to add a FAQ, you’d go to the markup requirements for FAQs. It says you need a question and an answer. For the question, you have to nest an accepted answer and a name; then, the answer has to have a text.

What does that mean in English? Let’s break it down. In order to get a FAQ result, you must:

  • Have two or more questions and answers. If you have a page that only has one question on it, this won’t work.
  • Include the entire text of the question and answer. This text must be included in the code.
  • Make sure all the content in your structured data code is visible on the page. In other words, you can’t just add the structured data code and hope to get the rich result. This is true for all types of structured data.

The required and recommended documentation also explains how to nest each property. For example, every Question instance must be contained within the mainEntity property array of the schema.org/FAQPage.

Schema App can help build the code so it’s beautifully nested to help you get the rich result. I’ll also share some other tools and free generators later so you can give it a try.

Every content type has different requirements. When it comes to things like events, you’ll also need a date, start time, and location.

It’s important to get familiar with what content needs to be on the page. Once the content is there, it’s easier to add the structured data and get the rich result later.

What can you do today to get rich results?

FAQ schema markup can be one a quick win. FAQs are easy to produce, and you probably already have a lot of content that answers your customers’ questions.

Need help? Start with these questions:

  • What are the top questions your salespeople get?
  • What are the questions your administrators are getting when customers call into your office?
  • What questions do you get through support channels?

In terms of scalability, your CMS may also have an FAQ module that makes it easy to add and structure the content.

Do FAQs affect click-through rate?

People have often asked if FAQs lead to a zero click-through rate. Rand Fishkin did some really important studies about this in 2019. The answer? It depends. We’re seeing customers get a 17% click-through rate when an FAQ is appropriate — if it’s something that’s answering the question. You can compose your answers in order to take users to that next step of the journey; put a link in your answer that takes them to more information about that specific thing.

You can also measure the interaction with the FAQ through the impressions. That allows you to understand that people are interacting with your content.

They say that 80% off the buyer journey happens before a customer contacts you. So, if you’re answering customers’ questions and helping them learn the information they need in order to buy from you, an FAQ is actually helping them progress through the buying cycle.

Nizam Uddin: I also see this as a good branding play because it increases your visibility. You don’t want your competitors to take that spot. It’s a win-win; you’re not losing anything.

Absolutely. Think of those long tail keywords for areas that you specialize in. They build awareness of who you are and what you do for people who are early in the buyer journey. I also like to think of it as a way to delight your customers — you’re not making them scour through your website to get specific answers.

Think about writing content not just for the person who’s landing on the page, but also for the person who’s searching for your business.

How to tell if a website page is eligible for a rich result

Hopefully, I’ve got you thinking about the key elements of your pages, where they live on your website, and which rich results do you want to try to get. Then, you can go back and see if you need to add any additional content to the page.

This is important; before you start to do structured content, it’s important to have the content ready.

Let’s look at a few tools that can help you make sure the content is ready:

  • Rich result testing tool: This tool is produced by Google; it tells you if your page meets the criteria for the rich results in the Google documentation. You can just enter the URL of your page, and the tool will tell you if you’re eligible for anything.
  • Schema.org validator: If you just want to see what structured data exists on the page, put a URL into the validator on Schema.org.

These are two ways for you to understand 1) if you’re eligible for a rich result and 2) if there’s structured data on the page. You don’t need to be able to read code to use them.

How can you use these tools? The rich result testing tool can tell you if your key content pieces are ready for structured data. If a page is not eligible yet, the tool can help you identify the required and recommended properties you need to add. When you start to add structured data, use the validator to spot errors.

Structured data case studies

Let’s talk a little bit about case studies and ROI. SAP is one of our customers. When working with Schema App and structured data, they wanted two things:

  • Agility: We had to figure out a way to help an organization that’s very large move very quickly to add structured data. We were able to deploy markup to more than four million pages over seven websites in our first three months.
  • Growth: After adding schema markup, SAP saw a 400% net growth of organic rich result traffic.
  • When you’re looking at the return on investment, it’s very easy to correlate structured data with traffic growth. We’ll look at that in Google Search Console later.

Another benefit of structured data is that you can own the SERP and take control of how your brand shows up. That’s what happened with our client Advent Health. They were changing from Adventist Health System to Advent Health, so we used structured data to inform Google of the brand and name change. There are properties within the Organization markup that you can use to articulate how the brand is changing.

While they were rebranding, Advent Health was switching to a new CMS and building out a content strategy. We identified the important content and how they wanted it to stand out. Then, we strategized with them to plan the content. As soon as it went live, we were achieving rich results right from the get-go. It’s a great example of how to mitigate the risk of a drop in organic clicks as a result of a rebrand and a new CMS — we were able to build new results out of rich results.

How do you know if structured data is working?

How can you measure the success of structured data? Start with Google Search Console; there are two places to look.

  • Performance reports: Bring up the performance, and click on the tab called Search Appearance. You’ll see a list of different types of search appearance. Web Light results and good page experience are not affected by structured data. Instead, look at the things we talked about earlier: video, FAQs, reviews, and products. You can see exactly how many clicks or impressions you’re achieving from each type of rich result. This is a great way to see how structured data is impacting your goals around SEO.
  • Enhancement reports: These reports allow you to see how many valid instances there are of certain types of structured content. If you’re adding a FAQ section to 16 industry pages, you’d be able to come in under FAQ and expect to see 16 valid instances. It also allows you to identify errors and warnings to figure out what’s missing. Then, you can investigate that to figure out how to fix it to ensure that you’re getting the best performance.

In summary, you want to connect your schema markup to tell a story. You want to explain the important things in your organization and help them stand out in search.

Schema markup resources

This is a complicated area of SEO. If you want to learn more, check out Google’s Understand How Structured Data Works. There are also some videos to explain different topics.

At Schema App, we also have two free resources. We have a free five-day email course; you get an email five days in a row that walks you through a high-level explanation of structured markup.

If you want to get nerdy and learn from the best, my co-founder recorded an Advanced Structured Data Bootcamp. It talks you through all the semantics, how things relate, important properties, and structured data for key areas. Please feel free to use it — it’s about four hours of content that we’re happy to share.

About Schema App

Schema App is an end-to-end schema markup solution that works with all websites and all content to build robust connected schema markup without an IT developer. Our goal is to help you get results with expert support.

We know this is a complicated area, so we want you to execute on strategies and measure clicks. We work with customers across different industries; we want to empower your digital teams to take control of how you show up in search. What’s more, we want to help you do it at scale, with agility.

I love the speed element — when Google announces a new feature, we’ll turn it around for our customers and help them figure out what content is eligible right away. Then, we get it marked up. In less than a month, everything’s done, and you don’t have to think or stress about it. We can do that because we start with strategy.

What I shared with you today is the process we take our customers through. As you consider working with us, you know our goal is to understand your business goals and the content you need customers to find. Then, we’ll build that strategy and implement the authoring. To complete the integration, we’ll power it with customer success to help you make sure that it’s complete and measurable. As your business and goals evolve, we work with you to ensure that both technology and services are focused on ROI.

How does Schema App integrate with a website?

Everything is set up in our application in the cloud, and we offer different ways to integrate. Some options include Drupal, Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe DTM, Google Tag Manager. We have a Shopify plugin and a WordPress plugin. No matter the platform, everything is built so that we can deploy structured data at scale with sophisticated markup.

We offer two markup tools:

  • Editor: Markup unique pages one by one
  • Highlighter: Markup one page and deploy the markup to all similar pages

For example, if Crowd Content is building you new content that uses the same template or is organized the same way, we know exactly what rich result you’re trying to achieve. Every time you publish, it’s automatically optimized.

We’re proud of the customers we work with, and happy to have the opportunity to help many many global brands be understood and visible in search results.

If you want to know more, follow Schema App on LinkedIn. We publish a ton of content there, including webinars, articles, blogs, and videos.

Nizam Uddin: Schema App is useful if you don’t want to do schema markup on your own, but I think scaling structured data is the most difficult part. If you’re producing similar content and adding the schema markup manually to those individual pages, it’s a nightmare. I recommend having a partner like Schema App because it’s a templated solution you can scale. It’s easy to manage and make changes, which is helpful when Google changes things. Doing it manually, you have to go through each and every page.

If you’re just getting started, there are also free resources out there. Yoast has good general blog post schema markup; so does our free Schema App plugin. It offers sophisticated schema markup, but it doesn’t get into the services, products, and the FAQs, but it’s a great starting point. Another good generator is located on Merkle’s technical SEO page. It allows you to do some simple schema markup, so it’s useful for an SMB or a very small website. You can copy and paste the JSON-LD.

We also have Schema App Pro for SMBs; it generates the structured data and includes email support. It integrates with most major platforms, and it’s a great place to start. Our strength, however, is our high touch support and strategy work.

Nizam Uddin: What are your recommendations for websites that produce EAT content?

Within structured data, you can use structured data to provide specific information about the author and their qualifications.

For a physician, you could specify their educational background, area of practice, publications, and the hospitals that they work for. When Google sees these, it builds expertise and authority.

The same goes for authors. Who is the author? What do we know about them? You can start using Schema.org properties to define them. Let’s say you’re an expert in a certain area. Google knows what the page is about, and you can use Wikipedia or Google Knowledge Graph to define exactly what that practice or specialty is.

Again, this is where it’s helpful to understand Schema.org and the properties you can use to clearly define people’s expertise.

Nizam Uddin: Is there a way you can hide structured data codes from competitors?

No; there’s not a way to do that now.

However, in the Google podcast, Ryan Levering talked about a possible future state where you would publish structured data directly to Google. That’s interesting because it removes the challenge of integrating the code into your website.

Nizam Uddin: How often should someone audit their website for structured data?

You should be looking at it regularly; at least on a quarterly basis. You should be evaluating your performance monthly and trying to maintain good health. In general, it’s a good idea to maintain structured data, ensure that it represents the content on your page, and build your content to make sure it has the required and recommended properties.

Sometimes, errors aren’t a problem — if you have a product rich result without a price or a job posting without a salary, that could be a business choice.

Nizam Uddin: How do we future-proof schema markup?

It’s helpful to think of it as future-proofing your content strategy. You’re constantly learning, and Google continues to change the rules. As long as you’re evolving your content strategy and making sure your content is meeting your user’s needs. It’s also important to measure which rich results and content are working and converting, and evolve accordingly.

In SEO and schema markup, future-proofing is making a plan to maintain and educate yourself.

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