In this week’s conversation Grace and Liel discuss the latest RoundUp 10 billion settlement, and how the news has been received amongst the Mass Torts community.
We discuss why the announcement of Neeva, an ad-free and privacy centered search engine platform by former Google Ads vice president, Sridhar Ramaswamy, can disrupt the search marketing space for some law firms. And why joining hundreds of advertisers who are suspending their advertising campaigns on Facebook in July could pay off and strengthen your position within your community.
Plus, we look at some of the highlights of SMX Next, the replacement to year’s SMX Advanced, that turned out to be a series of relevant and approachable conversations about SEO and SEM during these unpredictable times.
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Liel: [00:00:00] In today’s conversation, a 10 billion dollar settlement, a boycott and that free search engine. Plus, an overview of last week’s S.M.X, next. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media. And this is in Camera, a podcast where we make it easy to keep up with the latest trends in legal digital marketing.
Liel: [00:00:49] Welcome to in camera podcast, private legal marketing conversations. We’re back. Grace, how are you today?
Grace: [00:00:55] Good. How are you, Liel?
Liel: [00:00:57] Great, Grace. Thank you very much for asking. Everything around us is going crazy, right? You’re in Florida. I’m in Texas. Two of the states with most drama going on right now. And so, Grace, that’s definitely there. But with that aside, there are many other things that happened this week. Right. And I think a lot of them deserve us to talk about them. Let’s start off with the settlement. Right. That roundup announced Bayer announced that there are going to be paying 10 billion to settle cancer suits,. Grace. What does this mean? Right. I mean, we’ve been talking about mass torts on and off for the past few months quite a bit. And roundup has been coming up in so many of these conversations. And so you’ve been saying it right. Roundup is on its way out. All the opportunities there have already been taken. So what does this massive ten billion settlement means for those who were part of that mass tort?
Grace: [00:01:57] It could mean any number of things unless you’re involved in the actual what we’ve talked about before, the steering committee and knowing exactly how it’s going to go down. You don’t necessarily know how many cases there are in that bucket of money that has to be dispersed. Right. So in theory, that money, it should be enough, hopefully, to cover the amount of people that are involved in the lawsuit. Right. Ten billion dollars, in theory, sounds like a lot of money now. That’s great. Yes, OK. But what if you had non Hodgkin’s lymphoma? You used it for 20 years, commercial usage and you know, you literally died from cancer. Is a million dollars enough for your pain and suffering of losing your family member? I don’t know. And that’s what they have to determine and how they’re going to disperse the money with the roundup and the settlement.
Liel: [00:02:49] So, Grace, do you know, Ballpark, how many lawsuits are going on right now and like, or were part of the roundup mass tort? And so, one thing that you were saying is that not necessarily everybody that had a lawsuit will be getting a piece of this settlement? Like is this particularly for the cancer suits, people who have actually died from it or people who are undergoing treatment? Who do we know anything about that?
Grace: [00:03:20] Yes, we sure do. So that’s part of the entire what they call the criteria. Right. We’ve discussed criteria before as to what is eligible and what is considered a good case, a knock it out of the park case and potentially not so good case. Right. Usually, they have a mix of these types of cases to make sure that they cover the gamut of a docket of cases. Right. And that means the best quote unquote case would be somebody that had proven usage of roundup commercial usage. Right. Because they have proof of that purchase. And it basically they would have invoices and they had non Hodgkin’s lymphoma that could be almost directly attributed to the fact that they used Roundup for their whole lives. That is, quote unquote, a phenomenal case. Right. In theory, again, I’m not a lawyer. I have to say that. But in theory, that’s a phenomenal case. An okay case would be somebody that use it at home, might have the bottle at home but doesn’t have receipts. Did get non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But again, it’s not commercial use. They don’t necessarily have proof of years of usage. So that’s an okay case. So that’s how they kind of distribute or disperse the money. It will be based on the injuries, the suffering. And then it will be split between the people or the total amount of lawsuits that are involved. And I actually just took a look. And as of March 2020, according to a Web site I’m looking at, more than 3000 lawsuits were pending in federal court against Monsanto for Roundup.
Liel: [00:04:51] All right. So how were the news welcomed amongst the mass tort community Grace? Like was this what everybody was hoping Roundup will land, did it fail in meeting expectations? What can you tell us about this?
Grace: [00:05:08] So as far as I know this, anytime that they can actually get to a settlement, it’s a good thing. Right, now, the settlement is the fact that they didn’t like bracing, basically brush it off and not ever settle like Talc was doing for a very long time. Again, it’s a good thing. But how much money for how many people?
Grace: [00:05:29] It does appear to be a decent amount for the amount of people we won’t know until the entire settlement is done and the agreements that come out of those settlements are written and agreed to.
Liel: [00:05:44] Right.
Grace: [00:05:45] Right. You know, and you know what that means? It has to do with can we say anything about Roundup. Are there any more cases allowed to be put back in after the settlement is done? Most likely not. And that’s what a settlement is for, is to stop the liability from the company going forward.
Liel: [00:06:01] Yeah, and so interesting you’re mentioning that because I remember when reading first the article when it came out a couple of days ago in The New York Times, I believe it actually said that Bayer is not actually assuming responsibility or wrongdoing. They’re just offering a settlement sort of as you’ve said. Kind of like, you know, we want to put this behind us and move on. Right. So that kind of goes back to what we were talking about in the previous week or a couple of episodes ago, that there is no always an admission of liability.
Liel: [00:06:32] All right, great. So thanks for sharing that with us. And we’re certainly going to be following what’s happening with round up settlements in the next few weeks and months, I guess, right?
Grace: [00:06:43] Yes. It’s going to be very interesting to watch it unfold. You know, I liken it to talc in that sense, where you were talking about no liability or wrongdoing, you know, being assumed. And it’s the same thing. Right. Talc is not saying that they did anything wrong. They’re just removing it from the shelves and want to settle. And Roundup is doing the same. As a matter of fact, Roundup is doing something different. They’re not removing and or even being required to label the fact that glyphosate in certain states is a carcinogen on their bottles.
Liel: [00:07:12] Yes, Grace, if you say so, I believe you. But certainly I mean, obviously, we hear and talk a lot about mass torts around here in general in the industry, which we are. And of course, when a big moment like this happens, of course, you know, as you’ve said, it may sound initially as a great step, and it is, but considering all the damage that may have been done in consequence of these, maybe 10 billion is not really as much as it takes to really make right for it overall, the damage that was created. So Grace, let’s move on now and talk about something that I’m not too sure if you heard or not. But last week, exactly last week ago Friday, they’ve announced a new platform, called Neeva. Have you heard about that, Grace?
Grace: [00:08:00] Very, very briefly in like Google readings. But that’s it. I don’t know much.
Liel: [00:08:05] All right. So let me get you up to speed then. Right. So Sridhar Ramaswamy, who was the V.P. of Google ads up to 2018. And a lot of people thought that he was gonna actually be the CEO, the next CEO for Google. But did not happen. Well, when he left, he apparently had some issues in the way and the approach that Google ads have gone about letting advertisers promote different things. And so particularly some really damaging aspects that have to do with child abuse and things that, of course, nobody would ever agree to. Right. And so but because of that experience that he had within Google and such, he decided to embark into a new project and he’s launching a new search engine under the name of Neeva. Now, what’s special about this search engine is that he’s making this platform 100 percent ad free. So there’s not going to be ads being displayed on this platform. And he’s also centered around user privacy. Right. So they are not going to allow advertisers to mine your data in order to serve you ads. Now, here’s the kicker, right? It’s not going to be a free service. It’s going to be subscription-based. And it’s expected to cost anywhere around ten dollars or less per month. Right now, it’s not just going to be a search engine as such, but it is also going to search your own personal folders and your e-mails. So it’s going to give you an opportunity to be able to search for anything that you need in your personal device without necessarily having to leave your browser. Right. So why do we care about these Grace? Well, I think this is a good opportunity for us to remind ourselves how important it is for law firms to know who their buyer personas are. And if you see that your clients and your ideal buyer persona could be someone who favors paying for private search experience, then you should be on somewhere or another taking step to continue being present in the new search platform that your potential clients will be using. Right. So what I’m trying to say, Grace, is that if you’re a law firm who deals with people who put a lot of value into privacy, you should consider shifting and investing in SEO heavily so that you can still be present when they’re searching in this new platform, and you’re not gonna be able to be present there with ads. Does that make sense?
Grace: [00:10:48] Yeah, it does. It’s funny that you said that because I was kind of thinking and like, well, how are they gonna make money? You answer that, right? So it’s not a freemium model. It’s a premium model. OK. That makes sense. And, well, that’s perfect because you should still be able to know if the person coming in is using a different search engine. Right. So and if you’re like a site cybersecurity law firm as an example, I mean, obviously any firm really when it comes to privacy. It’s a big deal for them regardless. But let’s say your cybersecurity firm, it’s even more important to you to know that this person is paying money for a special search engine.
Liel: [00:11:27] Yeah, Grace. I mean, I honestly, when I first read it all. It was a Friday morning. I just kind of went through it very quickly on the daily newsletter of search engine land. I believe it’s worried came up. And I just kind of like brushed it off and say whatever. Like it’s not going to make a dent in the search industry. But the more I thought about it, Grace, throughout the day and then I talked about it with our head of digital here, it really kind of landed in me that, first of all, there is definitely a market for it. Right. And you really don’t know how this can scale and how this can actually be implemented. Think of it in a way or another. It’s kind of like you have free TV access and you know that in order to get access to that free service, you’re going to be served TV ads, commercials. But there is also the Netflix experience. And so which is 100 percent ad-free. And it doesn’t seem like people are having any issues with paying Netflix a slight premium in order to get that experience. Now, it’s not to say that people will take that exact same approach when it comes down to search, but definitely there is going to be a niche in the market that’s gonna want and favor that. They do care about your privacy and are not going to mind being a little more in order to have a personalized yet private search experience. And then there is the business and corporate aspect of it.
Liel: [00:12:52] You don’t know whether organizations are going to actually want to have their teams and employees using this platform in order to avoid being exposed to data mining by other search engines. And so let’s not forget that people do spend a lot of time using their work devices or their work connections in order to do a lot of the search that they do. So if they’re going to be using that equipment to do some personal things as well. A lot of advertisers may potentially see themselves impacted by it. And, you know, law firms amongst them. So definitely you need to understand what kind of law you do, whether this could have an impact and if it does. This is not something that has already launched, but things are moving extremely fast right now. And before you know it, this can be out. And this could become a trend. If you don’t have an organic presence and you do see that your traditional client may fall under the kind of user that would use these. You know, you can lose it all. But especially if you’re relying heavily on Google ads and other kinds of display advertising on search engines.
Grace: [00:13:59] And I think the majority of the personal injury attorneys that we talked to do. But, you know, it’s funny, as you’re speaking, I’m thinking in my head kind of what the profile looks like for those who would use this new search engine. And in my mind, I see, you know, high net worth individuals that are technical and understand, you know, the need for privacy. I see risk-averse individuals, but I still can’t see. I could be completely wrong until the numbers come out. Right. But I still don’t see those who are the standard, what I would call standard single event, personal injury type of clients. Right. Because, you know, like most, not most, but some of them may have issues paying a monthly subscription for a search engine that is free by Google, you know, so. But so that’s why I am thinking in my head, what kind of a profile. Just like you said, what kind of demographic would actually use this? And if you do estate planning law, if you do corporate law, those are the types of people that I could see really using this. And to me, that could help your marketing strategy significantly if you start seeing people actually moving towards that type of search engine rather than the Google ads that you’re used to doing.
Liel: [00:15:17] One hundred percent, Grace, I couldn’t agree with you more. Right. This has all to do with segmentation. And obviously, Google will continue to have the upper hand in when it comes down to search like this is not gonna take over the entire market. By no means. Right. Google will continue for a great search experience and will continue having the majority of the market using their platform. And as you very well said, it’s more sort of like a niche. That’s why you need to analyze, you would need to know very well whether you may find your clients being amongst those. And I do think estate planning can definitely may be one of those, corporate law, one hundred percent and other kinds of you know, lawyers particularly provide services to people who in general value privacy, whether they’re celebrities, sports people, right, like gonna be amongst the first ones jumping on this kind of platform. So I guess that’s interesting and it’s important that we bring it up. And so we’ll just keep watching and observing and see how this develops. It could go either direction, but I think it’s very important right now to understand that the way in which marketing and digital marketing, particularly shifting and moving, is at a pace never before seen. And so you definitely need to always kind of like be thinking, how do I see the marketing of my brand performing? You know, not just five, but even 10 years from now. And so if you think that your buyer persona would potentially favor something like that, then really now it’s the time to start breaking ground and making sure that you’re sustainable in that new behavior.
Liel: [00:16:59] Grace. Another thing that it’s being talked about quite a bit. It’s the ad boycott on Facebook for the month of July. Have you heard about that?
Grace: [00:17:07] I have.
Liel: [00:17:08] So let me just give here. For those who are hearing about these for the first time, So, basically, back in June 17, a #stop hate for profit campaign was launched, right.
Liel: [00:17:20] And organization behind these are the NAACP Anti Defamation League, sleeping giants, colors of change, free press and common sense. And ever since, this initiative has been launched, brands like Eddie Bauer, Magnolia Pictures, Ben and Jerry’s most recently Verizon, The north face Patagonia, Ray, Mozilla, Upwork, you name it, Grace, there’s more than 100 brands now that have joined this initiative. And so basically what the initiative says is they are pulling out all of their ad dollars from Facebook during the month of July. Again, Grace, why does this matter? Right. I think that right now in the climate in which we are if you are running a law firm and you have taken a political stand to something, well, your community will expect you to walk the talk. If you’re standing with what these organizations are up for. Right. And you take issues with the way that Facebook has been distributing misinformation and selling users privacy and such, and you have been very vocal about it. Well, it would only make sense for you to actually take a stand and also join forces with these other brands and not contribute to advertising in these platform during the month of July. Now, are there a lot of law firms that fall into this category? I don’t know, Grace. Maybe there’s really not that many. But it doesn’t really matter how big or small you are.
Liel: [00:18:56] It’s more about what stance have you’ve taken right? Over these past few months, weeks. And the statement that you can make out of these and the press release of it could actually be more beneficial to your brand than the entire month of advertising on Facebook because we’re just as we’re sitting here and having this conversation about this initiative and mentioning these brands, many other outlets are doing the same and many publications are writing about these. And so these obviously would be something that your local community, your local news would potentially talk about. So the exposure or you can certainly get it in a different way by still staying through to what you believe. Grace, again, we always talk about marketing. We always talk about platforms and where and how you can find new clients for your law firm. We have advocated that Facebook can be a very, very powerful platform to do so. We stand and believe in using Facebook in an ethical way. But if for some reason you have a big issue about it, there is a movement going on right now, this is something that maybe it’s a good fit for some law firms to jump on and take part in these stop hate for profit campaign. What do you think, Grace?
Grace: [00:20:15] Well, I agree with you wholeheartedly. If this is part of your corporate culture and your corporate communication that you strongly believe and this is something that you believe you want to do, then yes, I think you should and you should be a part of the group that is having the same message as you.
Grace: [00:20:32] And, you know, you can still have profit in not being profitable at the moment, you know, because it has to do with the communication of your message and who you are as a brand and as a company and as even an individual and as a lawyer, they want to know who you are. It’s all about who you are. So if this is something that is important to you, as you well said, you should be on this, you know, for lack of a better term bandwagon, you know, because it’s your belief. It’s who you are, who you are as a human being. And there’s nothing wrong with that and there’s always profit in doing the right thing. And what’s the right thing for you? Meaning what your beliefs are. And you’d be standing true to your beliefs. And there’s nothing wrong with that ever. And the moment that you try to stray from that, that’s when you have a problem. So if you are staying true to your beliefs and you’re pulling the money, quote unquote, on the ads, whatever clients you might have gotten, just like you said, Liel, during that time, you’re still going to get clients. Why? Because now they know you stand for something. And this is something that you’ve stood for or communicated with your community since before. This is just an extension to what you’ve been doing and who you are as a firm or as a business. And you just make sure that message is continuous and consistent because that’s who you are as a company or as a firm.
Liel: [00:21:51] Yeah, Grace. And I think, you know, I think the bigger conversation behind all of these. Right. I mean, because this ultimately it’s a movement that has a beginning and an end. Right. Like, it’s. It starts in July and it ends in July. But what I can see behind this being even a bigger conversation going on is the politicization of social media platforms. Right. And so, obviously, Facebook has become this platform where any kind of messaging is almost allowed. Right. Things need to get to a very bad place before there’s begins to be some censoring. Right. That’s at least the impression that we were given. Now, is there room for one of the big social media platforms to become a new kind of social media place, potentially membership-based, where advertising may not be allowed, where certain kinds of speech may not be welcomed. And so there seems to be some growing demand for a venue like that to come together. And I think it will be very interesting to see if one of the smaller players in the social media space may actually stand up and evolve their platform into that. For instance, I’m thinking of Twitter, right. Which is something that a lot of people have been saying will Twitter potentially become a subscription-based platform where they…
Grace: [00:23:30] Kick people out.
Liel: [00:23:31] Correct. Yeah. They’re just going to take and kick people out and really impose rules and create more of a safer place for users to really have an experience that does not expose them to all of these other things that are being so heavily criticized about Facebook and even Instagram.
Liel: [00:23:50] Right. And so I, Grace, don’t necessarily know how things are going to evolve six months from now, but there is certainly room and an opportunity for that to happen. And so I certainly don’t see that Facebook will or they haven’t given any indication that they’re planning on making big changes in the way that they are running things other than making statements on things that they disagree and such. But in reality, the platform not much is changing. So that may certainly open up the door for other platforms to become a solution for what people think that Facebook is doing wrong. That’s kind of what I see may have a bigger and more lasting impact in the way that we are using social media as a platform to connect with community. And I think going back to the conversation that we were having about Neeva, Grace is that it’s going to be the same. People are not going move away entirely from Facebook. They’re still going to be a massive amount of people using it. But what I definitely do see that will potentially happen is that social media is going to get more segmented and there is going to be platforms more specific for certain audiences that value being kept away from the things that they don’t like about the way that social media has evolved. Up until now, what do you think Grace? It’s a heavy conversation.
Grace: [00:25:14] Yeah, it is. I mean, you know, whether you agree or don’t agree with all things that are going on. Right. Because there’s a few things on Twitter, you know, and I know a lot of people don’t agree. A lot of people do agree, you know, with what Twitter is doing or not doing. A lot of people agree and don’t agree. I’d say maybe more don’t on Facebook. But you know the problem with that. So there’s a whole underlying issue with social media and social media censoring and or doing anything other than, you know, the usual, obviously, you know. Child issues and minority issues and things like that that are not standard for all social media platforms. And that is if they start censoring and or telling people what they can and can’t do on their social media platform, they no longer are eligible under the social media umbrella to be kept out of lawsuits and certain liabilities.
Grace: [00:26:11] Once the moment they start censoring and acting as if they are a publisher. They’re talking about taking away their rights as a social media platform that they should be deemed a publisher. So to me, that is where the base issue will lie with all of this.
Liel: [00:26:29] Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, you know, there’s many reasons why one of them being what you’re saying, Grace, they don’t want to assume that label of publisher, even though, you know, it’s well known that most of their people are actually consuming their news through these platforms. There’s an economical reason why, you know, being an actual tech company is a better label than a publisher. And there are many other aspects to why being a publisher may not necessarily be convenient. But I think that can only be avoided to up until a certain extent, Grace.
Grace: [00:27:07] Agreed.
Liel: [00:27:08] Now, you see, as we’ve said, there are so many things that happened this week. One of them was the roundup settlement. Now there is another big event that took place online event, I must add, that took place during this week, which was SMX Next. So for those of you in the SEO and search engine marketing world, you may know that every May there is a big conference organized by primarily search engine land called SMX, and it takes place in Seattle. And unfortunately, this year, like many other events, it had to be canceled due to COVID-19. So soon after they canceled the event, they announced a virtual event called SMX Next. And so that took place this Tuesday and Wednesday. Grace and several members of our agency attended some of these conferences, Grace. And we’ve put together our kind of like a recap of everything that went on. And it was actually a very, very well-structured and very approachable event. Approachable in the sense, Grace, that if you think about what SMX advance is which is usually the event that take place on May. It’s what it is. It’s an advanced level SEO and SEM event for people who are deep in the industry. Right. And SMX Next, as a difference was an entry-level event. Right. So what they actually did is they invited a lot of thought leaders of the industry, CEOs or CMOs of different platforms that are of big influence in the SEO and on the SEM world to give short 15 to 30 minutes keynotes on current trends and best practices.
Liel: [00:28:57] Right. Having said that, I’d just like to go through some of those. But I highly recommend for anyone, because it’s so recent where I think that still all of the sessions are recorded and available for free through their platform. I would highly recommend for people who have been wanting an opportunity to learn and educate themselves a little bit more, whether it’s on link building, whether it’s on pay per click, whether it’s on SEO as a general thing, or understanding about how COVID-19, has impacted marketing in general in digital marketing. I really think this is a great opportunity to get a first look and insights from not just legal marketing experts. Right. Because that’s one of the I wouldn’t necessarily say issues, but many times when we talk about digital marketing for law firms were siloed into that. And we fail to see what’s happening around. And we’re only listening to experts from the legal marketing world and kind of like ignore everybody else because they don’t know what they don’t understand. And the reality is that there is so much to learn from them that it would be a mistake not to outreach and actually widen up your sources from where you’re actually getting information for your own legal marketing strategy doesn’t necessarily and always have to come from source that is labeled as a legal, digital or marketing agency. What do you think, Grace?
Grace: [00:30:30] Oh, I agree completely.
Liel: [00:30:32] Yeah. You and I talk about this all the time.
Grace: [00:30:33] I relate it to the retail, the business I used to work in. I relate it to even other kinds of law. You know, like you need to take it from every source you possibly can. Particularly when they’re thought leaders. Yeah.
Liel: [00:30:47] One hundred percent, Grace. So as I’ve said, there is a lot of great organizations are there that are creating content every single day about legal marketing and are translating all of these trends and best practices to legal marketing terms. But there is definitely a lot to learn. Also, when you actually go to the direct sources and really hear what people are, Microsoft are doing or what. One of the. Brilliant minds on SEO has to say about SEO in today’s world. Right. So that’s actually something that I highly encourage people to do. We’re going to put links in the episode notes, as always. So feel free to go and explore because there is a lot of great things. So great. Let me get started here with some of the presentations that I was actually attending. Right. I could not attend all of them because it went on for about five or six hours on Tuesday and Wednesday. And fortunate I could not dedicate my entire day to that, but I did create some time to go through some of them. However, we gathered all of our team’s feedback and created our recap for day one and day two, which you can find on our Web site blog. And that’s also something that I’m going to link to in the episode notes. Now, Grace, one of the first keynotes came from Bruce Clay. Now, for those of you who’ve never heard of Bruce Clay, he’s actually known as the father of SEO. But in reality, we all know Bruce Clay from always kind of being the workshop conductor for the SEO workshop that takes place in all of the SMX conferences. And he’s fantastic. He’s brilliant. He’s really experienced in SEO. And so it was kind of refreshing Grace to hear his message because it’s basically what every single person that does digital marketing and touches on a SEO has to say. And so I think it was in a way or another a little bit funny because he was talking to I am believing or I’d like to believe that most of the people who attended SMX where actually people who are involved in digital marketing. And so he was basically explaining back to all of us that you have to do quality SEO and that SEO is not just set it or forget it task. And so it was…
Grace: [00:33:10] How many times have we said that Liel?
Liel: [00:33:13] It was really nice to be on the other side of the table hearing things that you been saying them yourself. So here are some of the main takeaways that he had to share Grace. OK. SEO needs to be a strategic initiative across the company. So basically what he’s saying is that it’s not just up for the people who actually directly are involved with the SEO. Everybody in the company needs to be involved and have to be optimistic about their SEO, whether it’s on promoting the Web site, the content, whether it’s to contributing and creating it. Right. SEO touches everything and everybody should actually be involved in its process. Now, the second point here, I’m going to say Grace is actually potentially my favorite one of his presentation is SEO should beat the competition, not the algorithm. How brilliant is that, Grace?
Grace: [00:34:09] That’s so funny. I love how he said that, because it’s something that you and I have discussed over and over again as well.
Liel: [00:34:14] Yeah. So Grace basically Bruce telling us here is you’re never gonna be able to beat the algorithm because the algorithm is on constant change. But you don’t have to put yourself in a race to try to be ahead of Google. Right. Because you never know how that’s going to change. But what you can do is ensure that within your competitor set, you are the best at doing SEO. And as long as you’re the best from your competitors doing SEO, then you’re doing a great job. Right. Because you’re going to be discoverable above them. And that’s really what it’s all about. So you just need to be as good as the best competitor in your market. And I think when you put it at that level, it really makes it attainable. And it also kind of like already draws to you a map as to ok, so who is it that I have to beat? I think this goes back to the conversation that we’ve had with Jason Hennesey, right where he says, well, just go to the search results page and see who’s there at position number one. And that’s what you have to beat. Like, you have to go and look at how that Web site is Beeld, who is linking to that Web site and all of those things and then figure out how you can do that better, this is a great way of putting it. And then he went on just to make some remarks that we all know SEO, don’t write curse about content architecture. Right. It’s not the job of SEO to make a big fly ride, Grace. This is something that he said it actually like that. And he actually put a little picture of a piggy with wings. It’s not the job of an SEO to make a pig fly.
Liel: [00:35:49] He means that if your Web site, it’s outdated and its content, it’s irrelevant and you’re still trying to hire someone to make it work for you. It’s not going to happen. Your Web site needs to be built in a way that it actually adds value, creates a great experience, has content that is relevant. And then it will be a great site.
Liel: [00:36:13] But you cannot just transform something that is not great into something that it is. Let’s move on. Just two more points here. Cheap SEO is a near-death experience. Grace, oh my gosh, he was so aggressive about it. Right. And listen, I understand. I can imagine, like, he obviously has an SEO operation that is stretched through all the five continents. He works with great enterprise-level companies. And so I’m assuming that it must be very frustrating for him when he’s hearing statements or arguments that why should I hire you when I can hire somebody else whom will do it from much cheaper, whatever, right at the end of the day, like, he’s like, if you’re going to have brain surgery, would you hire the best doctor for this kind of surgery or the cheapest doctor for this kind of surgery? Right. And so. Yeah. Right. And so he actually, why would you perform brain surgery on your company’s Web site and potentially a major piece of the potential success that your company may have in the hands of a company that is doing it for cheap and they’re inexperienced. So he defended very well why you should not be looking at saving dollars on SEO. You should be looking at getting the best quality job done. Right. Here’s another my second favorite statement that he made was SEO is done when Google stops changing things and all your competition dies. Grace, what does that mean?
Grace: [00:37:50] Never.
Grace: [00:37:50] SEO is never complete, OK, because never will Google stop making changes and your competition will not gonna go away ever all at once. So because of that, you should always continue doing SEO. Grace, I really like one presentation, not so much based out of the content that was shared, but about the conversation and the point of view that it raises. And it’s why smart bidding isn’t necessarily the smart choice. I liked it because it’s really relevant to what’s happening right now. So there is this belief that many people have that you should actually just feed your information to Google and let Google make the decisions about your pay per click strategy decisions as to how much you should be paying per click, what search terms you should be going after, how your ad structure should be looking like, so, mixing and matching different titles with ad copy. And I think Grace that there is a lot of value in that. But I think you must set the parameters yourself first and then feed Google Information that is actually gonna help you. Here’s basically the argument that he was making. Right. And this was given actually by a gentleman called Wesley McLagan, who is the head of marketing at Marin Software. Now, for those of you who don’t know what Marin software is, it’s a platform that, through scripts, allow you to control your pay per click strategy, taking into consideration many elements that are not necessarily related to your Google ads campaign only. It takes factors like your calendar of promotions, your Facebook and other social media platforms, campaigns. Right. And so based on that, it actually makes adjustments on your strategy that are actually tied to your big picture strategy. Right. And so obviously, that’s the reason why for him making this presentation was so relevant, because if you have many different moving parts in your strategy and then you let Google to take its own approach and kind of like go and run your strategy on its own silo, you may end up having something that is not supporting your other marketing efforts. So that’s the kind of solution that Marin software can actually provide to your law firm. It’s primarily aimed at retail. But of course, it can be used for other verticals, but Grace. Basically what he said is like when you say Google, look a go ahead, do smart bidding. This is using only Google’s data and you cannot control it. Google won’t allow you to take over it. And you cannot actually see what is Google making decision based on. And so here’s the other thing. Like you may start seeing conversions coming out of the smart bidding strategy, but they may not necessarily be of quality to you. Right? This may be, you know, not what you want. Let me give you an example. You may be running a personal injury campaign and you may start getting calls from people that are looking for speeding ticket help.
Liel: [00:41:11] Google will register that. People are clicking on your ads. People are actually converting. From your landing pages or from the ad itself. So Google may say, hey, this is good. This is good. We’re actually targeting the right audience, are responding well to the ad they’re actually converting. But you on the other end, you’re like, this is really not good quality for me. And so now you’re in this situation that if you’re doing smart bidding, you may end up getting more of these because Google now feels that it found a way to get you what you want. And it’s working. So there is a way that you can remove and actually tell Google, hey, these conversions are not good. But here’s the catch. You actually need to get on the phone with a Google account representative and tell them to make the exclusion, the data exclusion. And so obviously, it’s not convenient. It’s not an easy approach. Now, Grace, in reality, like the entry-level way of being able to do these in an efficient and smart way is by you running your campaigns initially manually. And right now, quite frankly, unless you really have a massive budget and you are looking at really capturing not just one particular kind of practice area, but you’re trying to cover it through several of them. I don’t necessarily think that smart bidding right now, it’s a good strategy for anyone doing legal Google ads. Again, particularly when your small, medium sized law firm going after very specific kinds of cases, it can potentially not yield results and exhaust your budget without necessarily seeing the results that you want. But the reality is that there’s other ways where you can use automation and actually control all of the data. And that’s really what we do, for instance, in our agency. We still use scripts through third party software called optymzr, by the way, for those of you who are interested and so we can still tell and make smart adjustments and feed information to our campaign based on results that we’ve actually seen and the work with us. And those could be, for instance, days that we have seen that we had greater results in conversions statistically. And so we can actually set up things like increase bids on certain hours throughout the day. Right. And then decrease them based on times where we know that historically we have had good performance. But always you have to monitor these and particularly in these times in which we are right now, Grace. Everything can completely change between one week and the other. So that’s why it’s so important to really make sure that if you’re going after a smart bidding strategy, measure very well your signed clients against what is it that you’re spending and test it against, Okay, what would happen now if for instance, I would switch to manual and run my campaigns this way for I don’t know at least three or four weeks. Right. And can I achieve better results? I cannot stress that enough that, with everything happening right now in user behavior just kind of changing dramatically from one day to another, how misleading can smart bidding turn out to be for your campaigns. So, Grace, those were two of the many, presentations that were part of the SMX next. And I strongly recommend for everyone who’s interested to go and check them out. I guess that brings us kind of like towards the end.
Grace: [00:44:51] Yeah. And that was super interesting. Thank you for talking about SMX Next. I’ve never attended their virtual event. I don’t think they’ve had a virtual presentation before, did they?
Liel: [00:44:58] So not as an SMX event, not under the brand of SMX, but they certainly do have all kinds of weekly chats and roundtables through their search engine land platform. And I think this was kind of like it was based on that but taken to the next level, I wouldn’t say a replacement to what on SMX advanced or SMX East or West or Europe, which are the usual conferences that they will host every year. I can certainly say that it was a great way to hear from other brands how they are navigating through these times. What are they seeing? What are they are experiencing? What are their thoughts? Right. Obviously, a lot of these brands are actually, you know, they’re paying to exhibit it during these conferences and they are promoting themselves. And it’s obviously that kind of collaboration. But that doesn’t mean that the information there was not valuable. And the other thing, for instance, is that Microsoft, who had a very strong presence throughout the event, they actually shared some very cool tools they’ve created where you can track search trends and how different verticals are trending, almost live as it happens due to all of the disruption that COVID has brought. And so this actually can be very valuable for people running businesses and also marketeers so they can really understand what searches are being made the most, what industries are still generating lots of traffic to their Web sites which have had a decline? You know, obviously there are examples that they’ve used. They’re very kind of like predictable home improvement. All had a massive increase since COVID started and obviously travel had a decrease. Right. But it’s interesting that you can actually access this information and use it for whatever it is that you can use it for. Right. So I’ll actually link to that particular tool that Microsoft put up there. It was good. It was interesting Grace. And it was some of the messaging that was kind of like across the board share is like COVID happened. It was disruptive. Nobody wanted it. Nobody’s happy that he’s still here. It since it actually kind of like really took over everything. And it’s about time that if you haven’t yet learned to live with it and try to make the most out of the times in which we are with the resources you have, and by actually finding new and creative ways to continue being relevant for your audience, for your potential clients, then you’re on the wrong track because people and brands continue to thrive despite this. It doesn’t mean that they’re not taking a hit in a way or another, but it hasn’t been a complete roadblock for growth. And so I guess with that, we can certainly revisit a lot of what we were saying is that…
Grace: [00:47:51] Adapt to change.
Liel: [00:47:52] Yeah, adapt to change. Absolutely Grace.
Grace: [00:47:54] Adapt to change or don’t. And that will be the end of your business. And everything that you’re doing is really simple.
Liel: [00:48:01] Couldn’t have said it better Grace. I totally agree. So let’s make that our first takeaway for today. Adapt to change. Now, takeaway number two, Grace, you know, take a stand, right. If you really believe in something and you feel that joining the group of brands that are not going to be advertising in Facebook during the month of July, do so and share it with your community and let them know you’re not doing it and the reasons why you’re not doing it. If it supports what’s been your messaging, then it’s a great step and a great action to take Grace. Right. And I guess another good takeaway. Well, I let you go for a takeaway. I cannot do all of the takeaways on my own. And who do I think I am?
Grace: [00:48:47] Well, it’s going to take one of your takeaways, actually, because you’re the one that talked about it. And to me, it’s SEO. And what Mr. Bruce said. Right. So it’s all about quality. And how many times have you and I talked about quality, quality in the SEO, quality in your messaging, quality in not trying to beat the algorithm, but quality in your message and everything that you do at SEO, marketing, digital marketing. It doesn’t matter. Quality.
Liel: [00:49:19] Absolutely. Great. I think, you know, SEO deserves its attention. And I guess going back also to the beginning of the conversation, when we mentioned about the arrival of Neeva, that Web sites that are going to want to be present in this platform will have to do it under their own merit.
Liel: [00:49:39] They’ll have to earn their place in the platform. There’s not going to be shortcutting through things with ads and display ads. And so this could turn out into a trend that will. Who knows? Make an impact in the search world, consumer behavior is changing. People are starting to take big issues in the way that social media platforms, search engine platforms are treating their data. They’re using their platforms to promote or suppress certain content. And so. Up until now, we’ve all been living in a world where the assumption has been that people care less about privacy than they care about convenience, you know…
Grace: [00:50:28] Shifting.
Liel: [00:50:29] That’s not set up in stone and particularly in the times in which we’re leaving. And with the rising of all of these different movements that we’ve seen around us, it is to be considered that there may be a disruption in social media platforms and search platforms as we know it. And the better way to go about it is just be prepared. Just be proactive about it. Just don’t be the last person to react. Right. OK, Grace. So next week, another conversation. Thank you very much. I had a lovely time talking to you today, as always. And we’ll talk again next week.
Grace: [00:51:04] It was a pleasure, as always.
Liel: [00:51:06] Thank you. My pleasure Grace, bye.
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