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Live @ Inbound 2020: How Google’s AI Forces SEO Strategies to Be More Human

Live @ Inbound 2020: How Google’s AI Forces SEO Strategies to Be More Human

In today’s session Dale, an SEO specialist from Fire & Spark, explores how SEO strategies need to be more human and less technical. He argues that although technical SEO can help, Google’s algorithms are prioritising the human approach.

The goal is to build organic visibility that gets us in front of the right customers and accelerates the path to purchase.

Read on to explore this conversation further.

Dale kicks off by stating that a technical approach isn’t as effective anymore, a human approach is what Google favours. This is not to say that technical SEO is a waste of time, it’s just that it might not be as effective.

So How Do We Know That Google Is Taking A More Human Approach To Search Engines?

Google bots are getting better at understanding the topic relevance just like humans do. Google will look at user behaviour to see if they're finding what they need. Are they staying for a while? Are they visiting multiple pages? Google is trying to emulate those types of things by measuring what’s useful to searchers and to your customers.

Focus on what’s useful as this is the direction Google is going. Google is currently doing the following to reaffirm its human approach:

  • They are submitting thousands of patterns for algorithms
  • They are building hardware to run algorithms faster
  • They are also using humans to evaluate websites and then using those evaluations as data to train the AI and evaluate the results the search engine is coming up with.

Technical Approach To SEO

It’s commonly perceived to approach SEO like technical audits, guest posting and optimising H1 tags. However, Google is working really hard to make technical manipulations useless and all optimisation obsolete. This is so they can deliver the most useful results to searchers regardless of your optimisations.

We must remember that Google’s aim is to be the best, and to do that they need to offer a flawless user experience. In turn, this means when you’re searching for queries or information around a certain topic, you expect to see relevant content that’s been favoured by other people.

To explain this a bit more, if you imagine you’ve done absolutely everything technical SEO possible on a page, meta titles, image optimisation, header tags, keywords and more. Another website that hasn’t done this as well which has covered the topic in more detail or relevance as more people are looking at it will get ranked higher.

Google see’s the fact that others are engaging with content as a big thumbs up, therefore pushes it higher for others, so they can find what they’re looking for easier – offering a better experience on Google.

It all makes sense when you break it down, but it doesn’t always occur to us that we need to think like Google. It’s becoming more and more human with it’s updates and algorithms. The fact it’s using human research to teach AI says a lot.

Key takeaways:

  • Googles AI is rapidly evolving to ignore many technical and content optimisations
  • SEO consultations often push tech fixes that deliver disappointing results
  • Optimise for humans, not search engines

Dale uses a company of example that is a jewellery company dedicated to making jewellery for mums. He talks about how the company focuses on the mums and their stories.

Organic Growth Without Technical SEO

Dale then explores how the organic traffic for this company increased without technical SEO. This is how:

  • The brands mission was a force multiplier
  • Market research facilitated by community
  • Generating content Google needed
  • Compelling motherhood stories had extremely high engagement
  • Connected with like-minded influencers (backlinks)
  • Organic visibility supported social and paid channels


Mission-Driven Content

Dale advocates creating citeable content, content that like-minded individuals can use to advance their cause. This echoes the inbound methodology of creating content that is going to be useful, educational, and relevant to your audience. This can include:

  • Interviews
  • Proprietary data
  • Surveys
  • Position/policy article
  • Opinion


Mission-Driven Outreach

Dale recommends pitching the mission, not the content, not the product. This can include:

  • Content partnerships
  • Link building
  • Interviewers
  • Customers

This again echoes the methodology of educating people about why. Not about the product, or the offer, but why it’s even a solution in the first place, what it is the end goal.

If you provide heating for schools, the pitch should be about creating awareness of the regulations in place to keep heating safe in educational settings. It shouldn’t be about the heating or the content you have around it but the passion behind why the business was founded in the first place.

Key takeaways

  • Your SEO needs a mission
  • Mission leads to compelling content, engagement, partnerships and search engine authority
  • Strong differentiation
  • Pitch the mission

At the end of the session, there were a lot of questions, which is to be expected with some a talked about topic.

Expertise around SEO is ultimately trying things and sharing the things that work. Nobody knows everything Google does, but we can make educated guesses and test things ourselves, repeating what works.



There were far too many to type up, but I’ve picked a few interesting ones out below.

Someone asked – Is Technical SEO Obsolete?

Dale answered that if there are technical errors with the SEO then you should absolutely fix things that are broken. But, once you’ve got a website that Google can crawl and index and there are no obvious low hanging fruit technical issues that need resolving, then you need to move on. Focus your time on a human approach.

Basically, technical SEO has limits.


Another question was around content and if we should aim to write 2000-word pages for SEO?

Dale confidently stated that it was a big mistake to focus on word count when it comes to content. Content needs to be relevant and useful or else Google won’t see the engagement.

Dale goes on to explain that there are two types of content you put out on the web, there’s keyword-targeted content, that’s relevant to the keyword and useful. Then other content is written to get high engagement and generate backlinks – this is the human approach.

Although both are great, Dale is implying that the content written with a human approach is more powerful as it is seen/read and shared by more people. This tells Google it’s good, resulting in a higher ranking.


The last question I’ll be reporting one was about topic clusters and if they're worth doing.

Dale is a big fan of topic clusters and the structure of internal linking is good. He advocates building it out for your customers and not for Google.

He also mentioned how keen he was on using questions to approach content marketing such as why, how, what, where, mirroring human behaviours in asking Google questions.



As someone who genuinely enjoys SEO, I found Dales session extremely insightful and also very reaffirming of the inbound way we so strongly believe in. Writing for Google and people is an art, and there's a fine balance between the two.

Dale confirms that it is important to have the technical SEO foundations in place, however, they shouldn’t be dwelled on. Your time should then be spent on producing content that your customers would genuinely find useful and interesting, so interesting that they share it and engage with it.

As a team that see’s ‘They Ask You Answer’ as the bible to content marketing, the fact year on year Google is taking a more human approach is great news. It reaffirms that the method we’re taking is correct and becoming more recognised as the right way for Google.