Director - SEO Operations at Webenza
Balancing AI and Human Touch in SEO: Insights from Mercy Janaki's Extensive Digital Marketing Experience
Over the past 15 years, SEO has undergone a remarkable transformation, adapting to the dynamic landscape of the digital world. Initially, SEO was relatively straightforward, primarily focusing on keyword stuffing and basic on-page optimization.
Modern SEO on the other hand, prioritizes valuable content, technical excellence, and user experience, emphasizing a more natural and authentic approach to online marketing. As search engine algorithms continue to evolve, SEO professionals must stay agile and adapt to new trends and technologies to remain competitive in the ever-changing digital landscape.
Join us as Rishabh Shekhar, COO and Co-Founder of Pepper Content sits down with Mercy Janaki, Director - SEO Operations at Webenza, as she navigates the intersection of AI and human intervention in SEO, drawing on her wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience.
Here are some excerpts.
1. Tell us about your journey till now.
My career journey has been an exciting and fulfilling one. I started as an SEO enthusiast, learning the ropes through trial and error at a small product company.
Over time, I had the opportunity to work with excellent mentors who helped me refine my understanding of SEO. For the past 15 years, I have dedicated my career to working with various agencies, where I have honed my expertise in SEO. Currently, I am heading a team of 25 members in Bangalore, primarily working with premium Indian-based clients.
Throughout my journey, I have witnessed the ever-growing demand for SEO in the market, regardless of economic fluctuations. As the industry evolved, I have kept abreast of the latest trends and technologies, always aiming to deliver the best results to my clients. My passion for SEO and commitment to excellence have been the driving forces behind my successful career in the digital marketing landscape.
2. How has the importance of SEO evolved over the years? Where does it stand now within organizations?
Throughout my 15-year career journey in SEO, I have seen the importance of SEO evolve significantly. In the past decade, there has been a consistent and growing demand for SEO services, irrespective of market conditions. Even during challenging times like the COVID pandemic, companies have turned to SEO as a strategic investment when reducing spending on other marketing channels.
SEO has emerged as a cost-effective and dependable means to enhance online visibility and reach target audiences. Presently, SEO holds a crucial position within organizations, becoming an integral part of their overall marketing strategies. Businesses, regardless of their size, have come to recognize the value of SEO in driving organic growth, attracting leads, and increasing conversions.
Today, SEO is viewed as a fundamental pillar of digital marketing. Organizations have realized that investing in SEO yields long-term benefits and helps build a strong online presence. Companies across various industries prioritize SEO, and its significance has only grown over the years. As a seasoned SEO professional, I constantly witness the demand for SEO services continuing to soar. It has become a must-have strategy for businesses aiming to succeed in the digital realm and stay ahead of the competition.
3. Are there specific industries that heavily invest in SEO? Is there a trend in this regard?
Yes, based on my experience, there are specific industries that heavily invest in SEO. B2B companies, in particular, have a better grasp of the significance of SEO in their marketing strategies. B2B companies understand the importance of creating awareness and providing easy navigation for their target audience. They are more inclined to invest in content creation and SEO to attract potential clients and maintain their online presence.
Industries like FinTech and InsureTech within the B2B sector tend to prioritize SEO efforts even more, recognizing their potential in reaching their target market effectively.
On the other hand, B2C industries might not prioritize SEO to the same extent as B2B companies. Their marketing strategies may rely more on other channels, such as social media, paid advertising, and influencer marketing.
4. What are the right metrics and benchmarks to measure SEO success?
Determining the right metrics and benchmarks to measure SEO success is not a one-size-fits-all task. It highly depends on the client's maturity and visibility in the organic landscape. For new brands seeking to establish their presence, building brand awareness through entity optimization and brand searches may be more critical in the early stages.
As these brands grow and gain more visibility, metrics like sessions and conversions become more relevant indicators of success. Customizing key performance indicators (KPIs) based on each client's specific goals and business stage is crucial in effectively measuring SEO success.
SEO doesn't change; the basics remain the same. Tech SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and content SEO are the pillars of a successful SEO strategy.
For more established and mature brands, focusing on engagement metrics like bounce rate and time on page can provide valuable insights into user behavior and content performance. These metrics help understand how effectively the content resonates with the audience and whether it leads to meaningful interactions.
However, it's essential to remember that SEO success is not solely reliant on one metric. A comprehensive approach, considering a combination of metrics that align with the client's objectives, is essential to evaluate the overall impact of SEO efforts accurately.
5. What are the next big trends in SEO? How do you view AI-generated content?
The next big trends in SEO are heavily influenced by Google's continuous innovation and introduction of new features. One such trend is Google Stories, which has the potential to be a game-changer for B2C companies. If utilized effectively, Google Stories can offer a unique way for businesses to engage with their audience and present content in a visually appealing and interactive format.
Additionally, TikTok SEO is gaining traction and becoming a notable trend, especially among younger audiences. As TikTok's popularity soars, businesses can explore the platform's SEO opportunities to connect with this demographic and expand their reach.
Regarding AI-generated content, I see it as a valuable tool in the SEO arsenal. AI-powered content generation can significantly enhance productivity and save time, allowing marketers to produce content at a faster rate.
However, I firmly believe that a balance between AI and human intervention is crucial. While AI can process data and generate content, human inputs are essential to ensure the quality and relevance of the content align with the company's brand messaging and vision.
Winning with SEO involves keeping an eye on Google's new features and adopting them before competitors do. AI-generated content is a boon, but human intervention is still crucial.
Human touch and creativity are still invaluable when it comes to crafting compelling and authentic content that resonates with the target audience. Therefore, a combination of AI and human expertise can maximize the benefits of AI-generated content while maintaining quality and brand consistency.
6. Can you tell us about your agency's SEO services and client engagements?
As the head of an agency specializing in end-to-end digital brand marketing, we take pride in offering comprehensive SEO services to our clients. Our approach involves conducting thorough website audits to identify areas for improvement and optimization. We then conduct extensive keyword research to identify relevant and high-performing keywords that align with our client's goals. Our team excels in on-page optimization, ensuring that our client's websites are optimized for search engines and user experience.
One of our core strengths lies in content creation, where we produce engaging and SEO-friendly content that resonates with our client's target audiences. We understand that each client is unique, so we tailor our SEO services to meet their specific needs and objectives. We emphasize the long-term nature of SEO and encourage our clients to commit to at least a year of engagement.
This allows us to implement sustainable strategies and drive consistent organic growth for their businesses. Our dedication to delivering results and our focus on building lasting partnerships with our clients are what set us apart in the competitive SEO landscape.
7. What is your current technology stack for SEO?
In my current team, we have a robust technology stack that supports our SEO efforts. We rely on Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, SEMrush, and Surfer for content analysis and keyword research. These tools provide valuable insights into competitors, backlinks, and keyword opportunities, helping us create data-driven SEO strategies.
Additionally, we leverage AI tools like Copy.ai and Pepper Content to enhance our content creation process. These AI-powered tools save time and increase productivity, allowing us to produce high-quality content efficiently.
Among the tools we use, SEMrush holds a special place as my personal favorite. Its clean user interface and easy-to-understand data points make it an invaluable asset for our SEO team. SEMrush provides comprehensive data and analytics, helping us make informed decisions and track the success of our SEO campaigns effectively.
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