Gerald Murphy Interview – Original Content, User Journey, Google Realtime Algo updates

We have Gerald Murphy talking about everything SEO, marketing, AI content and also his work that he does at similar web as a senior solution business manager.

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We dive into topics such as:

  • SERP features
  • New features coming out for SimilarWeb
  • Alternative search engines like TikTok
  • The evolution of SEO as a role
  • How we saw COVID and Google’s real time reaction to the SERPs
  • User Behaviors and how you can leverage this as a marketer specifically the user journey and not just looking at keyword ranks
  • Creating original content, and how much does Google care about that
  • AI content – OPINIONS!
  • Gerald’s advice for people just getting into the industry


Philip: 0:00
Today on the show, we have Gerald Murphy who I’m really excited to talk about everything. SEO, marketing. Ai content and also his work that he does at similar web as a senior solution business manager Gerald. , welcome to the show.

Gerald: 0:22
Thank you very much, indeed. For having me, Phil.

Philip: 0:24
I always like starting with some of these, these are called PodDecks. It’s a deck of cards and it’s just got a bunch of random questions on it. See if I get to know you a little bit better and then we’ll jump into the marketing side of things.

Gerald: 0:36
Sounds good.

Philip: 0:37
This one looks fun. First question. What’s the most annoying bill you have to pay.

. Gerald: 0:43
actually I, since canceled it, a sky TV, it was called. I never really watched a lot of it. I actually found it’s all available on catch up. So the most annoying bill is definitely, uh, TV broadcasting.

Philip: 0:55

Gerald: 0:55
is now subsequently canceled.

Philip: 0:57
that’s used to spend so much money on cable and all of these different channels. And now it’s, well now it’s Netflix and Disney and Amazon, and I mean, it costs more now than it did before.

Gerald: 1:10
Exactly. But it was very annoying at the time when it was, it was just a normal thing to do, I guess. And I, I just didn’t look at it any differently. And then I kind of think everything’s on demand for the most part. So what am I.

Philip: 1:21
If you could hire any wedding singer, who would you choose and what would be the

Gerald: 1:25
be the song? Very good question. I’m trying to think. , I would definitely something a bit more upbeat having said that I do like actually a range of music, like from something as slow as Coldplay, right up to, actually even the classics. So like seventies and eighties in particular, I would personally love Fleetwood Mac. Obviously it’s impossible to do, but something by fleet, a nice classic.

Philip: 1:48
Yeah, I think you could go in a lot of directions with that

Gerald: 1:51
that one a hundred percent and also just modernizing it too in the background, trying to have little dance beats and just remix it if it was obviously doable.

Philip: 1:59
oh yeah. Well, you know, it’s a podcast, so everything’s doable.

Gerald: 2:03
Everything’s possible.

Philip: 2:04

Gerald: 2:04

Philip: 2:06
What’s the last thing that you’ve done, that you are really proud of.

Gerald: 2:09
good question. Actually, it probably comes back to something quite personal. I love cooking. , so cooking a biryani, which is an Indian dish, , it’s basically a rice dish. That’s mixed with a range of different spice. One thing in life I love particularly at the weekend is proper good home cooked food and a nice ice cold beer.

Philip: 2:26
What kind of beer is, , your

Gerald: 2:27
your style? , Thai beer. So, um, Singha, it’s called it’s pro I think it’s the most popular Thai beer. I quit like a, a Thai beer at the start. I’m not really into like IPAs and, and so on, but I really do like, uh, I actually even don’t mind the Budweiser, which you believe here and there, it’s quite nice to, to just have long as it’s really cold.

Philip: 2:47
What’s something that’s on your to-do list that never gets done.

Gerald: 2:51
I do keep a notepad on my computer and I always try and add to it. So there’s all sorts of random stuff there, but I do have a rule and the rule is if it takes less than five minutes to do do it now. , and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing to try and reduce that down, but it still is just random tasks, like, improve the visualizations of a presentation, for example, or continue to try and write another article or, or whatever the case may be. But, uh, I think it really just unfortunately gets deprioritized.

Philip: 3:19
Yep. I hear you.

Gerald: 3:20

Philip: 3:21
So you’re at similar web right now. Can you tell me a little bit about what

Gerald: 3:24
about what you’re doing there? Yeah, so I work in the business department specifically within the solutions team. , it’s probably quite similar Webby in the sense of, it’s not really like industry standard, like for example, an, SEO manager. Essentially, what I do is I come from an SEO background, but I’m here to help drive the business strategy. So right down to, , just a few months ago, we had an acquisition with rank ranger. So we actually bought them. We’re now integrating their technology into the similar web product. but crucially for me, because I come from the SEO background, I’m also just finding out what the users are interested in so that we can actually do things differently. So an answer to your question, what do I do is help our product and data teams and all of the amazing people behind the scenes to create better functionality for end users.

Philip: 4:08
what do you think the biggest challenge people are seeing right now?

Gerald: 4:11
right now, then? I think a lot of people have, there’s a lot of noise out there. There’s a lot of like, what, what am I using for what also in their own jobs. There’s a lot of, asking for requests. So for example, reports in essence and SEO manager very much, even in, in house, working for a brand is almost very much like an agency. So they’ve got loads of different stakeholders. and I think the biggest problem is the SEO itself. Due to actually COVID and digital acceleration, which are two very closely connected things. I think the biggest problem is the rise of digital, but also just the inability of actually quickly gaining access as to what digital channels do, what people within companies can do to support those digital channels. So speeds. The insights I do think is one of the biggest issues.

Philip: 4:55
I use similar web A So love it, uh, used to use rank ranker a lot. So I’m really curious to see what kind of integrations you guys are gonna be working on. So any, info that you could tell me that

Gerald: 5:07
that we’ll be able to see? Yeah. So, it’ll be integrated into the platform in the, in the course of a few months, we’re gonna offer it, A platform for an I. One of the things that we are doing though, is, , really helping brands to find out what’s actually going on at SERP level. So we’re actually looking at the latest SERP features as, and when they’ve been tested. So for example, at the end of may, the latest SERP feature was a thing called things to know that’s now been tested. From the end of may. So one of the things we’re doing is constantly analyzing the SERPs, the landscape, um, and adding those to your index, to really help marketers, to develop their content strategies, even based on Google’s own tests that they’re doing.

Philip: 5:44
we got a lot of people on here and they range from, beginning SEOs and marketers to, veterans, of the industry, a tool like similar web. Do you think that can be used for. Anyone in any kind of area

Gerald: 5:58
area of their career? A hundred percent, one of the big pluses of similar web actually, and I know I’m biased when I say this, cause I work for the company, but when you do see the interface, it’s actually very intuitive. the platform itself I is, is catered for all different, people from different experiences, but critically you can get really deep quickly. So there’s loads of different filters, for example, There’s loads of different metrics, , on this platform itself. So yes, it can be used by.

Philip: 6:25
Where do you think there’s that distinction between an enterprise tool and maybe just a

Gerald: 6:31
just a small business tool? Well, this is actually what I think is different on the market. I think brands are now as, and web, I guess, and in many ways, because it’s about digital acceleration brands are also now starting to scan the market a lot. I think now more than ever actually this year where there’s a looming recession, arguably in most places of the world. I actually am based here in London, the United Kingdom, and our own. Then by the end of the year, the UK will be in recession. It’s in the GT seven. I do think as well that, , a lot of other countries , will be in the same boat. So I think a lot of budget scrutiny are going occur quite significantly. Also, when you look at some of the big brands, like even Shopify, which arguably supports a lot of small businesses, there’s been 10% layoff of staff and there’s huge big waves coming. So where enterprise I do think is gonna differ is there’s gonna be a lot more scrutiny on what those enterprise solutions are actually doing to business performance. I don’t really think a lot of them , can justify really high prices, without actually starting to think about the return on investment, the ROI of that deal. Yes. It’s nice to have lots of calls with customers, but the reality is if we’re not evolving, Campaigns, we’re not evolving our performance as a result of doing better in the campaigns. I think people are gonna start now looking at actually, what are we gaining from this partnership and brands are gonna be now looking for more actions and to get more actions it’s looking at actually. Better data. , but also better data at scale, which is, , very interesting because typically when you look at the enterprise customers, they’re set up by website, they’re very limited and restricted in the amount of things you can see. , they don’t give you free access, , to everything, , as well. So I think that’s gonna be a big shift in the market over the coming years.

Philip: 8:11
and as far as how the SES are changing, Google is changing how you interact with websites. Any

Gerald: 8:18
Any thoughts on that? Yeah, so, you know, ultimately at the end of the day, SERP features themselves exist to try and help us get information as quickly as possible. And that that’s literally the aim of search, you know, search to find information. But basically we’ve obviously got really complex behaviors. You’ve got different devices involved in some parts of the world. You’ve got different connectivity speeds. and actually what they’re trying to do now is quickly and easily present to us different things that are going on. But interesting. I think there’s a lot of different engines involved now. So it sounds weird initially, but you know, when you start thinking about different engines ranking on different engines. So one of the easiest examples is like, Bing use is a keyword and you see Bing on Google, um, for example, but actually YouTube is its own engine. TikTok is its own engine. , in fact, when you even look at TikTok as a, as an actual website and entity, it’s actually growing at a much faster rate than Google. Yes. It’s years behind them. Um, in the sense of it’s it’s a newer. Technology it’s your domain app, but actually it’s growth rate is huge. So where SERP Features and stuff really do come into play is really helping people to find information, including from, for example, TikTok on Google, which is one of those, SERP features that are available on mobile

Philip: 9:32
now to pivot a little bit, you’ve been doing this for, for a few years and seeing both sides of it. What do you see as the future of an SEO or

Gerald: 9:42
or marketing in general? More integrated, more broad. I think SEOs are still very much, heads down within companies. I don’t think SEOs do a very good job at evangelization by that. I mean, Promoting the results they’re getting within companies and organizations. they’re not also actually training various stakeholders and getting them on board to actually support the SEO channel, you know, arguably in digital marketing, it’s the broadest channel out there, you know, SEO touch on technical, which can. Be very related to web developer conversations. They also touch very heavily on content, which actually in some companies, depending on their size can be its own function department. And then also they have their own teams themselves, but actually they have direct communication lines again, into. Public relations around, off page backlink type of influencing. Um, so it’s a really, really broad channel. So I think the future of it is to become broader, but outside of the Google sphere. And by that, I mean, it’s not just looking and thinking about what keywords do I rank on Google. It’s actually having a, an integrated search approach where brands are actually now trying to find out howwell am I doing on YouTube? Howwell is YouTube ranking on Google? Um, What other way can I use that, that same asset for another engine? So for example, how can I trim down a 20 minute YouTube video into a TikTok 30 second video? What are the key moments that I need to get across? And essentially once you do that, you’re fragmented out your search strategy into an engine specific strategy with the same underlying goal. That is a belief of future of search.

Philip: 11:17
Yeah, and I think it’s interesting historically, you would’ve seen a lot of social media managers who are now finding themselves doing a lot of SEO type tasks. How do you put your TikTok video or your Instagram reel or Facebook reel or whichever? How do you put the title tag on there? What kind of hashtags? All of these optimizations, because people are searching for it. It’s a, it’s not Google, but it’s still search.

Gerald: 11:44
search this. Is it. And like, you know, also when you think about, you know, essentially clients, if they have, um, search console, their in essence have onsite search data for that engine. So for example, if you’ve got Bing webmaster tools, you then can actually see which keywords people are using on Bing to drive traffic to your site. Also, if you just marry that up and match it with your own onsite search of your website, you’ll actually see that the keywords are vastly different. Our behavior is directly connected to the interface that we’re actually looking at and engaging with. And actually, as a result, going back to your point, why on TikTok are we’re searching for these other terms is purely on the basis that it’s a very different engine and therefore our interaction and behaviors are different too.

Philip: 12:27
Do you think we’re gonna find an SEO that focuses only on YouTube or TikTok or

Gerald: 12:34
or something like that down the. road. Nope. I think we’re gonna become more disciplined. So someone’s gonna own, for example, video. So you’re gonna have video SEO and they’re gonna own the talks, the YouTubes, the Vemo, um, and become really specialists in that, but also. Thinking about it now we’re still quite immature. But when you start thinking about things like, um, TikTok analytics, YouTube analytics, how do you connect those up? What’s working on what engine that actually becomes its own field. and critically, really starting to think about. The digital asset within a company, cuz ultimately going back to my point there of return on investment, you know, at the end of the day, any companies that are produced videos are putting a lot of resource. They’ve got digital media budgets. They’ve got video editors in there. They’re maybe working with third party partners. They in essence, wanna find out if I’m spending X on videos as a digital asset. What, and how can I maximize traffic from that and what was my return on investment? So I do believe going into the future, it’s gonna become a lot more channeled specific within SEO and that actually does exist today. Like remarkably, one of the industries globally, I believe is quite, has always been separate is the news medium publications. You know, you’ve got specialists in there who you’ve been doing that for years. One of the most respective guys, I think personally is, um, Barry Adams and he’s a specialist in news publish him. But, you know, I think that’s kind of where we’re going as, as, rather than kind of been a hat or a Jack of all trades, so to speak. It’s more about actually I’m laser focused. I can drive this particular thing within the business because I know all of the things

Philip: 14:07
Yeah, I think Twitter kind of revolutionized the short text. Vine was a start or almost a precursor to TikTok And I think we’re, we’re not gonna see video go away anytime soon. I was looking at rank ranger and they’ve got a lot of social analytics. They’ve got a lot of on page, social signals and things like that, that, you can see is that something that you think any SEO should really get into

Gerald: 14:33
into and really understand? completely, I think, to be prepared for the future SEOs today, need to, to do things differently. So they all have strategies. You’ve all got these certain things that you want to achieve. Usually it’s orientated around the website and the website performing really well, but they don’t look at other assets like for. A playlist on YouTube performing incredibly well. so it’s really just trying to think about how can I look at the same things through a different lens and that’ll help them prepare them for the future. And that actually then goes into your points. There are things like social media analytics, how can I become more integrated, more broad with other digital teams? , and that will really, really help us use to truly understand how their digital footprint is performing online.

Philip: 15:15
I couldn’t have said it better myself. from an SEO standpoint, what’s changed since you were last

Gerald: 15:20
last doing it. Wow, good. Uh, question, I guess a lot has changed, you know, when, I think like, you know, the other thing we often forget is this has actually been along about for years. Yes. Archie was the first engine from 1990. Um, but actually when you start looking at things. , information retrieval that’s been going on from 1945. certainly a long time since, uh, I was on this planet. Um, and that’s basically computerized search, you know, so looking at things like, um, encyclopedia searching, um, all of those good things. And I guess one of the things you can see quite clearly when you look over the years, Just algorithm updates across all of the engines. You can see, they were really basic before, but now they’re, they’re becoming a lot more advanced, but also a lot more real time. so by that, I mean, we’re actually starting to see, like, our data showed a lot during COVID. We actually overlaid the three lockdowns, the legal lockdowns that occurred. To stop COVID happen with Google maps specifically on Google UK. And what we saw is it took Google about two months to reduce the number of Google maps. After the first lockdown on the second and third lockdown, it took them like a few weeks. So actually they started to realize that us as entities couldn’t physically go to for the most part, a lot of store. Therefore as a SERP feature reduce that particular thing. So they’re starting to understand us more. So that’s what I mean by real time. And actually naturally that brings us into being a lot more advanced. So rather than just think about this keyword as ideal for these SERP features in this particular example, it’s more about actually look at other factors. And that, again goes back to your point earlier on about how broad we are gonna become as a discipline.

Philip: 17:02
so talking about some of those updated algorithms, have you seen any in the past few years that you think have been the most

Gerald: 17:09
effective or impactful? No, not really specifically. I think overall they’re trying to achieve, um, a goal. Like when you look at the most recent one, it’s about product reviews. , I think it’s the second core one, certainly from Google. Um, the first one was probably December of, um, last year and now it’s come out again almost six months after, and. You can see is again, it’s just like another little enhancement, but what’s interesting about that is going back to that real time comment, you know, ultimately reviews are all user generated content. Ultimately they they’re created all the time. Google is now really trying to understand what people are saying literally now and the better understand what is actually a good product to rank, for example, um, what are actually. Good characteristics that you know, people are talking about, and that can really help them to understand and, and present us really good, reliable authoritative results.

Philip: 18:00
I think Google’s been doing a pretty good job with really cleaning up the spam. I mean, a few years back, it was pretty obvious. Some of the people that were doing things that those sites shouldn’t have ranked. And I feel like page one is pretty solid now

Gerald: 18:13
now completely.

Philip: 18:15
So I wanted to just ask you a couple other questions just in general. What other parts of SEO are

Gerald: 18:20
are really interesting to you? So cer features, as you can probably tell. I love them. Purely on the basis. It’s just how we interact and find information. I think they’re the most underrated thing within the SEO space. I think we’re still too obsessed with classic ranks, on scale and actually the things that can move the needle are actually getting into the nitty gritty details. What critically for me, , is all around behaviors. and that’s how ultimately is course why search features them exist as well. But like, we’re very complex people, you know, you and I can do a search ultimately and find the same page, but we use very different terms. We need to think a lot more about the buyer’s journey. I always go on about that alongside integrated search, wherever I can. Cuz I do think when you get those two things locked down and you have a good understanding of what they are. Your actual overall strategy improves enormously. So you’re going away from let’s change a title. Let’s change a heading and so on. It’s more about actually. What is the search? You’re searching Forny. If they were to find this particular post, what are they gonna search for next? Therefore, what other types of content you, I need to create and optimize for so that I can start thinking about the user journey and flow on my website and critically for me to become an authoritative source, and an expert E a T eat in this particular thing.

Philip: 19:35
What do you think most marketers are

Gerald: 19:37
are missing on that journey? I think again, you’ve got, immaturity. So when we say like SEO managers, I feel like a lot of, um, SEOs are reading different things. Some SEOs are even testing things. Other ones are just. Still in the same lane, if you like that they have been in for a few years, they’re just doing the same thing in a different company. And I think really that the big test for us going forward as a whole community is for things like this to continue, which is podcasts, it’s community conversations. It’s really sharing knowledge, but for us really to be thinking about. We’re not sure of what the next big thing is. Like, we don’t even know what the next tech talk is gonna be. So for us really to start sharing best practices, and really starting to sharing top tips of, of even what we’re discussing today around, like, what things should we be talking about? and more about the future.

Philip: 20:27
Yeah, I’ve always felt like Google rewards you for anything that you have to put time into. So quality content, original.

Gerald: 20:34
original image.

Philip: 20:35
Video podcast, things like that. Google’s gonna reward you for that

Gerald: 20:40
that because it’s not just auto generated. Absolutely. And that, that’s the thing again, it’s it’s user centric, but interestingly, you know, yes. The engine set guidelines, as in essence for the SEO community, I think, , I actually just read today this morning coming in. , I am actually gonna probably tweet about it. It’s basically where someone of ’em was looking at medical doctors were looking at YouTube results, , for cataracts, which is like when you’re got an visual impairment. And then what they actually found was in their analysis grant that it’s of one study. They found there was no information for parents of children who actually had cataracts or needed to get a surgical operation done. So goes back to another point of what I love about search and going , and moving away from the user is actually around biases towards the results. So engines have got really good at ranking good website. But one thing they haven’t really figured out yet is hard. I have good diverse results for a range of different users. And I think one of the things we often hear in the SEO space is, you know, always focus on the user. That’s why you’ve got updates, like core web vitals. That’s all around page speed. it’s good for the user, but actually when you start looking at some of the results. The results actually, aren’t good for all users themselves. So actually there’s an, I come back to that point around immaturity. There’s a lot of stuff that we done on both the practitioner and the engine side to really help us to see how we can truly create strategies for users.

Philip: 22:06
Yeah. I think the most that, searches doing is geographic based and that’s about it.

Gerald: 22:11
it. Yep. indeed. So.

Philip: 22:13
As we talk about creating original content, I’ve been seeing this as a theme in a lot of the talks I’ve been doing. what is your thought on some of the new AI

Gerald: 22:23
tools that are helping generate content? Yeah, no, I don’t like them at all. And I think as well, this actually goes back to the point around search engine bias, you know, arguably a lot of that, a certain proportion of it is based on AI to a certain extent. And I think, you know, Years ago. It wasn’t very good inputs, but it’s still running off those old school things, which is why, in this example, there was no information for parents, , who had kids who needed to get, cataract operations. Um, essentially if you don’t feed the machine correctly, You’re gonna get garbage in, garbage out, but I think really content goes back to that point earlier of thinking about what’s next, you know, it’s not just about writing that blog post today, just because a brand or one of your competitors is writing a blog post once a week. Stop doing that. That’s creating more noise out there. I think these AI content generators are. On a massive scale. You’re in essence, not doing anything it’s unique. And going back to your point, um, Philip, which is all around, like, you know, Google rewards, you, when you have your own video, your own images, your own text, your own content that actually still can only be done by a human, you know, on the flip side, I don’t think you and I would go to a surgeon that was a hundred percent computerized. There are tasks today that need to be done by humans. and content writing is a hundred percent. One of them.

Philip: 23:38
There’s almost an obvious difference when you read between the two and it’s fine. If it’s just a general overview of this is what something is, and it’s more like a regurgitation of a wikipedia page. It’s different. When you get that personalized information. That’s about this particular company that’s unique to them. The last thing I wanted to close on here, I just wanted to ask you, what was some of the, your favorite things that you’ve done in SEO marketing, and also being on the.

Gerald: 24:09
Software side of things.

, Philip: 24:10
what do you

Gerald: 24:10
what do you enjoy most about that? Oh, I absolutely love working in the software again, accidentally I get into the world of SEO actually through academia. I actually studied, um, information science. So like, that was kind of what, what I fell into. Um, I actually accidentally. Joined a search engine class and thought it would just be okay to do, but I wanted to become a teacher. And then I kind of found out more about engines. So for me, the exact same thing happened actually with software. Um, I now love it. I love getting involved with things like what else can you do with this same data set? , the product team will wanna come. Back and, and get validation from users. Like what are users looking for? What else would they be doing as a practitioner? So that bit, I absolutely love when it comes to client facing interactions. , one of my biggest probably. Big things that I’ve done is worked with a huge big multinational brand and really helped them to develop its scale, how they’re, how they were performing. So what we did is a lot of standardization of keyword groups. Every single market in this particular company was tracking the same localized translated keywords so that they could properly understand how big is my brand, whereas which countries have the most search volume for those branded and non-branded keywords. And that really helps in the map. At a country and global level, where are the opportunities? And I think all of these things are, um, going back to that point again, um, earlier on are really challenging us as a community and industry really seeing what else we can do differently.

Philip: 25:40
The sheer amount of data that some of these enterprise companies have, and just trying to. Understand, it can be such a challenge.

Gerald: 25:48

Philip: 25:49
we’ve got a few people here that are just starting to break into the industry. Any kind

Gerald: 25:54
kind of advice for someone who’s just getting into marketing. Yeah, I would definitely think look at marketing because the way SEO’s going is it’s got that integrated. It’s got a lot of fragmentation involved. Um, a lot of old school things, , are still really useful to know. So, you know, even the basic things, they just understand good Ling. Within the market in place, for example, above the line and below the line, what’s the difference? Like that’s still really important. , for anyone specifically it’s getting into SEO, I would definitely be encouraging them. To read websites like SEO round table, which has all the latest things that are actually occurring, , run by primarily Barry Schwartz. And then also you’ve got other websites like search engine, land search engine watch within those websites. You’ve got SEO 101s, definitely to check those out and really help, you know, really understand what this whole new world is.

Philip: 26:43
I think, um, educating yourself, there’s so much information out there. No excuses to

Gerald: 26:51
about it. Hundred percent and a little personal plug, actually that we’re doing. Um, I actually recorded a, uh, SEO series of YouTube clips that will be going live in a few weeks. So it’s gonna break down and hit short videos. What SEO is right through to all the main parts of it, including actually, um, integrated search.

Philip: 27:09
Wonderful. I’ll go ahead and make sure make that’s added onto the show notes when that goes live.

Gerald: 27:13
a hundred percent, I’ll paying it your away.

Philip: 27:15
Appreciate it. Well, Gerald, I really appreciate you coming on the show.

Gerald: 27:18
the show. Thanks very much for having me. Thanks for your,

Philip: 27:20
yeah. Thank you for your insights. And I

Gerald: 27:22
And I think a lot of people are gonna get a lot out of this. a hundred percent. I hopefully hope they do. And let me know if we could do anything else.

Philip: 27:29
Thank you.