MarTech Interview with Jonathan Epstein, CEO at Brewco – MarTech Series

Jonathan Epstein, CEO at Brewco shares a few thoughts on the changing SEO trends impacting today’s marketers while taking us through the story of Brewco is this quick chat:

_____

Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Jonathan, tell us more about Brewco…

Brewco was formed by a group of us who have built our recent careers around the application of AI to digital marketing. We first met when I was bringing – what the experience optimization now known as Evolv.ai is – to market. Brewco’s co-founders had just started a consultancy, Neural Digital, based in Brisbane, AU, which focused on consulting with clients on AI marketing strategies and acting when needed as an implementation team. I convinced them at the time to act as Evolv’s representative for Australia and New Zealand, and a great partnership was formed.

Neural Digital worked with many AI marketing solutions but among the consultancy’s portfolio, one product stood out in terms of just how much of a leap forward it was, Market Brew, an AI platform for precision SEO. I had moved on from Evolv at this point, so the Neural team reached out about forming a new company to bring Market Brew to a larger market on a worldwide basis.

Marketing Technology News: MarTech Interview with Bosko Milekic, CTO and Co-Founder at Optable

We’d love to hear more about the recent Brewco-Market Brew partnership?

Market Brew has granted Brewco the exclusive worldwide resale license for the Market Brew platform. We work closely with the Market Brew founders, Scott and Maura Stouffer, who in addition to our commercial relationship hold equity in Brewco.

Our focus is bringing Market Brew to a larger audience through partnerships with leading SEO agencies and full-service digital agencies, expanding the geographic customer base outside of the United States, and providing turnkey services through our agency partners for those companies that want an outsourced SEO solution, which is many of them.

It’s been great fun working with the Market Brew team. Our relationship is much more than a sales and marketing one; we have active participation in the road map of the Market Brew platform. Over time, based on our success, we both anticipate our companies will become a unified entity.

What are some top SEO trends that you feel are here to stay and some that you feel marketers don’t need to be paying attention to anymore?

There’s ultimately no substitute for top quality content that meets the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) guidelines published for Google. While their approach as a search engine must be algorithmic to operate at scale (and has been for many years now) the fundamentals are pretty clear.  

Understanding how your internal site linking structures influence how search engines perceive both the importance and the meaning of site pages remains a critical factor for SEOs to work on…and also an area that is difficult to master. 

As Google continues to redesign its search engine results page (SERP) optimizers now have a number of different ways to get on the page. Each of these opportunities requires new ways of thinking.

Finally, with the introduction of Core Web Vitals – a set of page performance factors – as ranking criteria, focusing on speedy and responsive pages will become more important. While a “weak signal” at first, industry insiders expect the hammer to fall within a year on sites that don’t whip their page performance into shape.

Here are some of the things which are no longer a factor: content spamming and indiscriminate volume backlinking programs. Continuing to write multiple articles around each keyword you care about is ineffective and costly, vs. building truly excellent long-form content. And Google is ever more sensitive to backlink programs that are clearly bought and paid for. Some industry experts like Lily Ray believe you should never pay for backlinks, but let your content quality earn them for you. Others still see value in working to obtain backlinks…but you really need to focus on quality sites if you’re doing this.

Seeing the global martech market and the impact of AI – how do you feel AI will help marketers change their SEO game? 

AI is changing the SEO game in multiple ways, and the pace of AI adoption will only continue to accelerate. 

Our own solution, Market Brew, uses AI to build search engine models for any keyword and any search engine, to understand what factors drive rankings for that keyword. Having these models in turn allows SEO teams to prioritize their work on those things (out of thousands of potential site fixes) that will move the rankings needle, and also allows predictive testing of results, vs. waiting the two months it takes Google to catch up with your changes.

Other tools like Frase focus on guiding content creation. And existing tools that aren’t specific to SEO but use AI to create better content, like Grammarly, are helpful assets for your SEO efforts.

Other tools like Twinword, Keyword Country, and LSI Graph are focused on using AI to do better keyword research, so you know what to aim your other AI guns at.

GPT-3, OpenAI’s system for generating content, has raised the bar on content creation and is a subject of much debate in the SEO community. For some, it is a bane which needs to be purged. From my standpoint, if GPT-3 generated content is as good as that generated by experts, what is the difference in fact? If nothing else, it will raise the bar for human-created content.

Marketing Technology News: MarTech Interview with Anu Shukla, Co-founder & Executive Chairwoman at Botco.ai

What are some core challenges in SEO that you still see large scale marketing teams struggle with?

While the most successful digital-facing companies have focused on SEO for a while, it’s still a hard sell for some marketing execs. SEO can be a long-term ground game, and the results can take months to develop. But once they do, they represent annuity traffic value, vs. having to pay every month for paid traffic.  But selling this into the C-suite has been challenging, given the lack of predictive data on SEO results. AI is now changing this picture.

Aligning SEO with other marketing priorities is also a challenge. Even with something as seemingly trivial as page titles, the goals of the brand side of the house may differ from what works best for ranking in search engine results. Do you really need your company name mentioned in every page title? It’s bad for SEO. Here, again, having more data on the impact of changes like this on ranking results creates the basis for a data-driven decision.

IT resources are always in high demand, and making SEO changes to a site often falls behind other priorities. Once again, data can make the difference. SEO has been, before the advent of AI tools, a bit of a dark art to many, so no wonder IT teams have deprioritized it. AI is shedding light on the value of each and every change.

Finally, many teams still focus on “best practice” checklists which are time-consuming and an inefficient way to climb the search engine rankings. There should be process around the creation of every new page, but no site team has the time to work on every small aspect which might be useful for SEO. There are better ways now.

A few last thoughts and takeaways for marketing leaders and CEOs/CMOs to keep in mind through the rest of the year?

SEO is a critical part of the marketing success equation and most companies do not invest enough. The reasons for this lack of investment are now being mitigated by next-generation solutions (AI and otherwise) and should cause a rethink. But it’s not just the tools which make this so critical. 

Costs for paid search advertising are going up as more companies shift focus to digital strategies and target search engine traffic. This is a “race to the top” game, whereas SEO, while a slower roll, builds annuity traffic and value…at no incremental cost.

Moreover, changes to privacy standards, driven by Apple but followed by others, will make targeting of paid ads much more difficult and expensive to achieve, making the differential value of SEO even higher.

Finally,  I urge companies to align SEO with their other marketing activities and remove some of the siloing that has happened. My work at Evolv.ai was in the conversion rate optimization (CRO) space, so I know this discipline well, but surprisingly, for most companies there is a firewall between SEO and CRO. But at the end of the day, it’s all the same funnel, and linking SEO strategies to CRO strategies will be the key to better revenues and margins for those companies that can achieve this.

Marketing Technology News: MarTech Interview with Brendan King, CEO of Vendasta