Programmatic SEO

Programmatic SEO is database driven content that increases the reach and frequency of published web pages on your website in search engines. It’s typically done using specifically written content pages that dynamically change keywords based on either locations or other content variables. Here’s a few examples from clients.

https://www.avasflowers.net/local-florists has thousands of SEO pages programmatically driven via database calls.

https://www.avasflowers.net/colorado, https://www.avasflowers.net/new-jersey , https://www.avasflowers.net/illinois

> https://www.avasflowers.net/illinois/florist-peoria-il/

> https://www.avasflowers.net/illinois/florist-lake-forest-il/

HiPages.com has tens of thousands of SEO pages programmatically driven via database calls.

https://hipages.com.au/find/plumbers/nsw/sydney

https://hipages.com.au/find/plumbers/vic/melbourne

https://hipages.com.au/find/plumbers/qld/brisbane

Notice how the words on the page change. That is the key.

Our client https://www.greatvaluevacations.com/travel-inspiration converts 1 in every 15 customers. Another client Cloudstaff.com also has a range of programmatic SEO pages developeed by SearchForeacast:

https://www.cloudstaff.com/find/customer-service-outsourcing/los-angeles-california/

https://www.cloudstaff.com/find/digital-marketing-outsourcing/chicago-illinois/

https://www.cloudstaff.com/find/offshore-developers/san-antonio-texas/

https://www.cloudstaff.com/find/healthcare-outsourcing/san-diego-california/

https://www.cloudstaff.com/find/outsourced-debt-collection-services/columbus-ohio/

Google Moves Goal Posts on GA4

Or should I say, Google took away the goal posts. So frustrating for so many clients. Benchmarking against many simple metrics inside Google Analytics Universal is now GONE.

You can now see Google Analytics 4 has a new metric called “Engagement Rate” which is calculated by engaged sessions divided by sessions. An engage session is a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has at least 2 pageviews or screenviews. Importantly, the engagement replaces bounce rate in GA4.

Secondly, we need to know what is a good, bad & ugly “engagement rate” and so how are we going to know this… Turns out there’s some data out there from Databox Inc, a US bennchmarking Group which shows the median value of the GA4 Engagement Rate = 56.23%. Go figure what this means as clients we speak to just shake their heads and say WHY!

Red Flags Discovered for Private Equity & Venture Capitalists in Due Diligence

For many years, SearchForecast has been engaged by venture capital firms here in Silicon Valley to help partners making investments conduct due diligence. Similarly, private equity firms have reached out to us to help them ‘look under the hood’ and find any ‘red flags’ in technology businesses they are looking to acquire. This often involves side bar conversations about tech / marketing and capital requirements for building projected marketing & sales funnels.

Here’s an excerpt of Bert and Marc presenting some findings across real clients that due diligence was undertaken on.

Will Google OutPrompt ChatGPT?

I think so. Here’s how… it starts in September 2016 when Goolge buys venture funded start up called API.AI which provides tools to developers building apps for Google’s virtual assistant. They tweak it and rename it “Dialogflow” and since 2018, it is part of Google Cloud Platform.

Create your own Generative AI agent EASILY

So now Google has just made it so easy to create a Generative AI chatbot in literally just a few clicks using Vertex AI ConversationĀ and Dialogflow. ALl you have to do is connect your webpage or documents to your Dialogflow CX agent and leverage large language models for generating responses from the content, out of the box!

You can also call a large language model to perform specific tasks during a virtual agent conversation or respond to a query contextually, significantly reducing development effort and making virtual agents more conversational.

We did this for a client recently using Vertex AI App Builder and Dialogflow. It then generates a small pieced of Javascript that you can paste into a container and it appears on your website. Remind you of YouTube embed code or Google Analytics, or AdSense. Oh yeah, those products worked out pretty well for Google to scale global distribution amongst publishers. It’s the distribution piece that Open AI / ChatGPT need to play catch up on Google.

I just don’t think they can catch Google, particularly when they start leveraging their $220B revenue per year from Adwords that allows them to give Cloud products like Dialogflow and Vertex AI App Builder away for free! And when they start integrating this all into Google Analytics, Adwords, etc, etc. The network effect Google has is a potential road kill for ChatGPT.

Price Optimization Fundamental for Retail SEO

We are fortunate to see an incredible amount of insights into very large retail website sales volumes and what drives their conversions. I’m talking websites for $150+ million annual sales. At that scale, you notice trends and can deduce insights on how Google’s algorithm works.

As we know there is no rule book for optimizing for Google’s organic results yet there’s a lot of best practice. We’ve witnessed first hand how just by changing prices (I should say, reducing prices) for products that already have indexation in Google these product URLs will appear higher in the results pages.

When SearchForecast started optimizing webpages in 2002 in Google, we could see updated URLs with keywords, Title Tag and Description Meta Tags in Google search results pages being re-indexed very quickly. Usually within 2-3 days. The same is now happening with price.

More than that. Google are now creating seller pricing matrix with pricing inside the Knowledge Graph. They aren’t doing it on all products in all industries but we see it appearing often.

Having studied micro-economics at University of Melbourne, I am well aware of the optimal price models. Put simply, Google are now using this type of logic in their organic results. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that lower prices or products which change prices more often are going to increase the propensity for a consumer to buy (and hence, click on a link). And that click is what Google want and reward websites with higher organic listings in their search engine results pages.

Product SEO with Google My Business Pages

For many retailers, the best way to get guaranteed results on Google organic rankings is to just load product details manually into the “Product” section of the Google My Business admin panel you can sign into at https://www.google.com/business/

All you need to do is complete this section as per below screenshot. Its must easy than scanning inventory using a Pointy which is Google’s solution which requires you to figure out how to connect through the Pointy box which is a small device that plugs in between the barcode scanner and point-of-sale (POS) system in your store. The second way is through an app that integrates directly with the instore POS system. #Painful.

Good news is retailers do not need an ecommerce store to add products to Google using Pointy or Google My Business pages. With Pointy, as you scan products, Google find an image and description to match the UPC/EAN barcode number and then adds it to Google.

if you’re using Google My Business, be sure to add a UTM to each URL so you can track inside Google Analytics how many users click on the product and come to your website.

Take a look at how Dick’s Sporting Goods retail store network does this to promote Back to School deals… The “Buy” link goes to https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/f/sale?seo=storelocator_bts2023_googlepost

Amazon Vs Google in ‘Buy Products’ Searches

At least in the USA, Amazon are apparently getting more first time product search queries than search engines like Google & Bing. That’s according to a recent poll by eMarketer as per below. If this trend is sustained, the ‘search’ world should be thought about differently.

Yet Google is increasingly moving into vertical e-commerce search queries. We have seen first hand how they are scraping eCommerce websites and providing comparative results in pop out pages on the Right Hand Side of their results pages. And we’re not talking about the ‘Google Shopping’ feed on the RHS of the results page. We’re talking about a matrix version of websites, products, pricing, etc.

Expect more from Google & Bing on this as they look to fight back. One way Google is doing this is without fanfare launching functionality within their Google My Business product that allows businesses to provide a link to their booking URL. This has far greater reach than Google Flights!

Google Vs AI

We were skeptical about Microsoft’s claims that 40% of people using Google don’t find what they are looking for. This was a throw away statistic they quoted when announcing that they had incorporated AI into Bing.com search functionality. SEMRush has come out with research that found:

A) 10% of people click through to other Google properties (GMB, shopping or images)

B) 18% refine what they are searching for by using another keyword.

C) 25% Zero-click searches meaning they stay on Google results page and then exit.*

The point here is that 1/4 of people searching on Google find what they are looking for after 1 search query and then do not need to go further. All stats (including Google’s ad revenue) show they have been sending more traffic to the open web every year. So the fact is that Google does provide users with the answer and they don’t just exit the search engine.

And. In every SpyFu competitor analysis of the number of SEO keywords and monthly SEO clicks that websites receive in the past 6-9 months, we’re seeing declines resulting from the Google Algorithm Core Update on September 2022 and Helpful Content Update in December 2022. See chart below. So, what does this mean? It means Google are ripping on ChatGPT and Generative AI content production.

The bottom line is that just because you can use ChatGPT or tools like Jasper.Ai and other content tools, the mass production of content isn’t going to make it to page 1 of Google. Another way of saying this is you get nothing for nothing in this world. Just ask the crypto fanatics who spiked that ball for the past 5 years!

Before Google

Here’s our take on ChatGPT / AI…..

Before Google, the 1990s search engines like Lycos, Yahoo! Search, WebCrawler, AltaVista, LookSmart all had Cost Per 1000 IMpression banner ad business models. Then along came Google and their Adwords Cost Per Click model. In 2022, Google did over $250B in revenue.

Earlier this month, Microsoft said publicly that 40% of search queries don’t bring back a relevant answer and as Google search hasn’t changed in 20+ years, search is antiquated. But it’s not broken. Google & Bing work well. Do I need to talk to my internet browser to do advanced searches? Do I want ChatGPT to write large documents for me?

Do you know Google has recently updated their search algorithm updates to catch badly written and unhelpful content.

50% of US households have a smart device (Alexa, Google Home) that you can talk to. That took many years. How often do you use your smart device each day. I bet the usage was more when you first got the device right? Like most gadgets, their usage over time diminishes.

So we installed the new Bing here in the office at SearchForecast. We found we don’t need to speak questions to the Bing Search Engine all the time and typing is fine as we have a supercomputer installed in our heads. It’s called a brain!

And Bing’s new layout with the summary on the Right Hand Side of their results pages is just playing catch up to the Google ‘knowledge graph’ which has been around for years.

Advice for the Brave: Do ‘first time’ things

You can’t escape the news of tens of thousands of people being retrenched from Meta, Stripe, Lyft, Twitter. All big Bay Area technology companies. Your LinkedIn feed is most likely populated with personal stories from friends and colleagues commenting on posts of folks that are dealing with a range of emotions after being let go from these companies. With tech stocks down about 65% in the past year, the cost cutting axe has fallen hard.

I have one piece of advice: Do things you’ve not done before. Yes, that’s right. Turn off the computer, go outside and do things you’ve not done before. Sounds easy right? It is. And most importantly while you’re doing things you’ve never done before, talk to people. That’s the oldest form of idea generation and motivation. And as Max Ehrmann wrote in his 1927 poem ‘Desiderata’ … “listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”

I rode the California Street tram car in San Francisco for the first time ever last week after 20 years. And I spoke to the person sitting next to me (instead of getting an Uber by myself). I took time on a plane from Phoenix recently to speak with a lady who I noticed had books about embroidery and knitting. Who knew it was a good stress relief for Carolyn, the head of sales for this national agricultural grain wholesaler!

It’s not always what we think that opens up new opportunities. So be brave and do things you’ve not done before and talk to people. Therein lies the first step towards your next unexpected opportunity.