TJ30 – Semantic Search: The Transformation of SEO As You Know It with David Amerland

15/3/2014 with

TJ with James and David Amerland smallThe world of search is constantly changing and how it was defined in the past does not reflect how it works today. With the evolution of Semantic Search, the practice of Search Engine Optimisation has evolved (thankfully) too. The skewing of results through manipulative tactics is near on gone, and the way to reign supreme now is as it always should have been based on value and the reputation of the website/brand, the content and it’s author.

This week’s guest is David Amerland a specialist in Google Semantic Search and the best selling author of the book of the same name.  In this episode David and I discuss how semantic search has changed not just SEO but the entire web as we know it both for users and for marketers.


  • Semantic Search 101 with David.
  • The evolution of search.
  • How Semantic Search has affected SEO.
  • How to make sure you appear in the Semantics SERP’s.
  • Getting Your Content Right.
  • How Google+ affects it all.
  • Do links still work?
  • The future of search.


Show / Hide Transcript

Hello! I am James Reynolds and welcome back to Traffic Jam episode#30. This episode and every single episode here in Traffic Jam, my guest and I share tips that help you get more traffic and build a profitable audience online.

This week, we are back visiting the topic of Google search which for me as a search marketer of course I am excited about because I get to geek out a little bit with someone who is equally as passionate about SEO as I am and my partner in crime who I’ll be geeking out with this week is David Amerland and he’s a pretty eminent authority on all things Google semantic search. If your mind just glazed over by the term semantic search, then don’t worry because David and I covered that right in the front of the interview before going on to explain why this is the biggest distraction we’ve ever had since the whole web came along. Without exaggeration, this is going to affect absolutely everything from the way we market to the way we get jobs and even to how we might find life partners. And of course in this interview, I get David to share exactly how you need to adapt for the new semantic web.

Right after my interview with David, we’ve got this week’s news in traffic, I have my regular segment of course, The One Minute Traffic Tip and then we have the Traffic Jam Jam, a music track chosen today by my guest, David Amerland.

So who is David Amerland? He is a former journalist, a former corporate executive and former SEO manager. He likes martial arts and quantum physics and he can even still run the 100 meters in 11.4 seconds, now that to me sounds super-fast! He is the author of several marketing books Getting To Number 1 on Google, The Social Media Mind, Online Marketing Help and of course his latest book, the best-selling Google Semantic Search. That is of course the topic of today’s interview so without any further ado, let’s dive straight in, this is David Amerland and we’re talking semantic search.

James: So I am here with David Amerland, author of the popular book Google Semantic Search, which is kind of lucky because this is the topic of today’s episode. David, a very warm welcome to Traffic Jam!

David: Hello and thank you very much for having me here. I am really excited to be here.

James: Well, this is going to be a blast! I love talking about search and I know this is a topic that’s very close to your heart so we’ll dive straight in to the content and I think I’d like to open up with what perhaps might be a basic question, I’m sure one that you have been asked all too often but I guess none the less, very important to set the scene today, what the heck is semantic search?

David: You’re absolutely right! Everybody asks that and ever rightly so because semantic search is the biggest deal ever since the internet came along. So it is really, really radical and so powerful and we need to understand that, so explaining what it is, it really is rocket science for a change in the world of search but how it affects us is very, very simple and it is great. Let’s think of it as a sandwich; it’s comprised of literally 3 layers. Layer 1 is us – people doing the search and the way we do it, how we do it, our search history, our patterns and behavior and everything we do goes in to that layer and begins to form a search mechanism. Layer 2 which is he middle bit, is what we see on our computers or our devices. It’s basically the search interface which sometimes can be voice, rather than the screen or it can be, in terms of Google now, it can be predictive search. And the final layer, which is where all the magic happens, is the search engine mechanism itself where it goes out in to the web, collects information, ever since I said, since search began. But then it has something new, it actually understands the language it finds the way that you and I would, and it begins to index it in its index in way where it’s compared to under construction. It gets a little bit technical un-stretched information, think of it as straw heap, the traditional haystack, and very neat little bale and is actually labeled and is very easy to find.

James: Got it!

David: So that’s what it is, everything comes together. The moment all this comes together, search changes, it changes because suddenly we can find information which is contextualized for us at a personal level. If for instance I am in Dubai and I run a search on my mobile device, the information that I find will be contextualized to my situation, my IP Address, my location and even sometimes even the time of day.

James: Fantastic! Let’s continue this line of conversation, perhaps talk a little bit about how the search web has advanced from the point of view of the user and maybe it might be even worth mentioning some of the terms that perhaps our listener may or may have not noticed using Google and the other search engine.  I guess I am kind of talking here about without answering your question here for you, we are kind of talking about knowledge graph, Google Now that you mentioned already and things like voice search and some of those advancements we’ve seen recently.

David: There like a 19-thread tool which can be scary sometimes when you take it to its logical extension and the scary bit in this thread of course is artificial intelligence. So essentially if we think of search in the past, it was really a dumb mechanism and it was really, really dumb. I’ll explain how dumb it was. It was essentially a textual analysis which is statistical and created a probability of right or wrong in bringing search queries. So in the past we had to use some keywords when you search for instance, let’s say you’re looking for podcasts in Dubai for instance, you have to have the word podcast and Dubai and perhaps the name of the presenter. You put a lot in search and search will find it in its index and then work out in terms of the number of keywords that in terms of documents have much in terms of probability and this created two special binds, first in terms of the search experience. If you are inexperienced, then you are looking for something and you are not familiar with keywords or you were not familiar with using search operators, then your likelihood of finding something precise dropped off a little bit. So the moment you went off the beaten path you were in to unknown territory. On the side of the person creating the content, you also had to try and second guess those who would be likely to look for it. So if you are a business person for instance, obviously what you want to do is promote your business, you have specific jargon sometimes, you have specific things but you also have to think at some level, it still needs your services or your products. What are they likely to look for? And then you had to look for your game where you are creating more and more keywords while finding your keyword footprint. And you need to create content around those keywords. And some of those keywords are a little of we call them long tailed keywords, they are not very popular, we still had to create content; a very thin content because it was only specifically created to bring in traffic from search on a probability basis if somebody searched for that. It was not a very good experience; it created landing pages, it created a lot of work people who had businesses. It became a very loss in preposition in terms of the value iit gave to us individuals. All of this has changed radically. Now semantic search looks like a document, looks like a page of a website, it tries very hard to understand what the business does. How does it do it? What are its specificities? What is its specialization? How good is it? It is mind blowing; we get search now trying to put us in place in terms of qualitative judgment and serve us up ahead of somebody who does. So it tries to do all that and then it tries to understand what do I mean when I put down for instance podcast in Dubai? Am I looking to start a podcast myself? Am I looking for a podcast in Dubai? Am I looking for perhaps podcast equipment in Dubai because I might actually be doing that. And the way it is trying to do that is through my own personal signals so this synthesis now, when it works perfectly, what it does is it understands what I am looking for and gives me the best possible answers which is good news for me the consumer and good news because usually there is only one or two businesses which will come up as that answer. There is a caveat here, we’re still not quite there yet. Because in order for semantic search to work, it needs tremendous amounts of data. It is getting there, it’s getting faster and faster in terms of how quickly accelerating but right now we have a little bit of one we have a little bit of the other – it’s a slightly imperfect world. And sometimes depending on the type of business we are looking for, or depending on the kind of device we are on sometimes, we might get answers which are not as satisfactory.

James: Yeah, but we can certainly see that movement in the right direction, I mean looking at the search direction in themselves if we look back perhaps even six months, certainly 12 and definitely in 2 years and beyond, the quality of those results is far less manipulated than it was previously and it certainly is far less low quality results, right, coming up in the upper parts of the page or at least it is moving in that direction.

David: Definitely! I think you made 2 very important points here and I am grateful for that. First of all you said they are less likely to be manipulated. In the past, because search was able to be broken down to very specific steps which we could understand, then we’re bound by human nature to put them in to effect and more of that as we went along and this turned a bit of a game and enhanced the gaming nature of search where we could see websites coming up which perhaps did not quite deserve to be there the way they were. Now, semantic search is a lot harder to gain, it’s a lot harder to gain because it is more complex and we still cannot understand it, but the entire economic value of any gaming behavior is that it actually provides a shortcut between what you do and the goal you are trying to achieve. So in the past if you want your website to rise in Google for instance, you do certain things and it rose very quickly so you saved yourself a lot of time, you gained a little money in the process and it works. With semantic search, this is not so. You still have to do the same amount of work if you were to fake something as were you were to do it for real. So because the time element has gone, because there is no shortcut, then the economic behavior trying to gain something does not make any sense anymore. And that makes it more likely that you will actually do the work that is required in order for your business to actually rise on semantic search which then has a positive impact in terms of consumer’s quality and less manipulation. And since we are talking about quality, of course the easiest shortcut for any business looking to gain an edge in semantic search is to actually produce quality content in terms of reaching first its primary audience, its customers and secondary creating a website that will appeal to search engines and that again is a win. Those consumers will tend to get better information on the web and it tends to satisfy the needs we have when we search for it.

James: Let’s talk a little bit about these steps that we might go through now as a business owner or as an SEO or some marketer compared to the past, other than putting out quality content, what other steps might we be taking to position ourselves better in the semantic era compared to that of the past where we would stuff content with a string of keywords to try and influence the relevancy of content for the results etc. so how have things changed David between the past and the present?

David: Well, there is a magic formula to this now. I am bound to say that right?

James: We love magic formulas. I’m sure the audience will too!

David: I’m asked every time. What is a man’s secret sauce? And I always say the same thing- I know the answer and I am going to tell you and the moment I tell them they realize there is no secret sauce. If you want to gain traction in semantic search, you ask yourself three basic questions: who are you, why you do what you do and how do you do it? These are three things. These three things however, form to have many steps when you actually break them down. They’re very inward looking and they tend to form the unique proposition of any kind of business. Basically, it is business identity and the moment you have a business identity you realize it is unique. No business is like any other business even if you are doing the exact same thing in the same industry. And that begins to become the defining factor. Once you have that in place, any questions becomes a lot easier. How do I project this? Do I need for instance have to have content that has to be videos ad shows my passion for my work or the uniqueness of what I do? Do I need to have text? Do I need blog posts? And we don’t need to write everyday anymore. It’s not like in the past where we’re slaves to the blogs because we had to do it and if we don’t do it we don’t get indexed as much and then we did not show up in search. Now all these values of who we are and what we’re doing and why we do it, they’re an integral part of the quality of what we do on the web and the quality of what we do with our digital identity. So if you create all these for your business, and I make it sound very easy of course, there is a lot of work doing it. So you’ve spent the last year doing it so what’s next? Be critical. You need to have a social layer with everything you do. And why do you need to do that? Because essentially, and Google has said this, Semantic search is a transition from a web of websites to a web of people. And this is a little bit of cipher because I still search information in websites, I still make purchases in websites, well yes, as vehicles and when you connect to people and you need to have the website to have a sense of who you are connecting with in terms of the people behind it, their passion, their drives, their identity, which creates a trust factor and which is what we need. In fact, trust is where all connecting starts. So really in order to have those connections with people, the social layer, whether you are in Facebook or in Twitter or when you are on Google+ and Google+ should definitely be in your radar, you basically crate all these social connections which “buy” into what you do in sense of purpose, drive and passion and they become your amplification points so suddenly your social footprints begins to increase, and I’ll give an example of it. Suppose for instance you’re selling kayaks, and you are in Dubai selling kayaks. I am not going to buy kayaks from you because you are in Dubai because I am in Britain and I can find a kayak on my doorstep. However, if we connect online and you are really passionate about what you do and I am interested in kayaks; you tell me about this and I think this is pretty cool and I listen to you and I begin to form an idea that hey, you know your business and what you do is fantastic and resonates with me. I am still not going to buy anything from you. Because we connected, engaged and interacted however under personalized search, somebody looking for kayaks who’s on my social network is now likely to find your content even though they are not your direct customer, they do not know you they know me, so basically through me, who I am not your customer but I am your connection because we connected socially, they now find you and because they know me and trust me, they are more likely to make a connection and a purchase from you. So basically the world has got very small; the traditional six degrees of separation now there are about two maximum three which means the connection of friend of a friend now actually has monetary value which is why social creates a social proof by creating a social layer. Websites are critical because that’s how you actually find the audience which is targeted and more likely to find an audience with you.

James: Got it! So this is really, I mean I guess from Google’s standpoint of how they are trying to push this thing forward and position it are they really trying to bring that real world offline interactivity that an individual would have with their network or community or following and then trying to bring that in to a new age online environment where the same connection still exists right? I mean it is really that transference of real life activity online.

David: That’s absolutely right! Exactly what you said. We’ve known these things and we’ve put them in to use in our offline environment and our offline world and offline connections. For the past 10-15 years we wrongly assumed that digital also meant an economy of sale and a massive audience in just a few clicks and it’s not the case. You really have to market to one single person at a time, you have to make that resonant connection which then allows them to become your online evangelist, your amplification point, which then spreads the message- spreads your presence essentially on the web and makes it more likely that you are going to surface in search in very different formats and very different environments. And this is another difference with semantic search. The traditional first search page of Google which we all vie to be in the first 10 links after the first three otherwise your clicks drop off and everybody sort of tried to gain the position really does not work anymore. Because the first page of Google is becoming increasingly personalized which means that it’s different for every person depending on different factors from the devices they use, to the search patterns, to the time of day; all of this way on your world. So really you are going for visibility rather than ranking in search. And what I noticed with websites of companies who want my advice is that when semantic search kicks in is they witness a strange thing. The traffic that they had has dropped off, sometimes by as much as 40%. However, they have seen an increase in conversions, sometimes by as much as 15% so really what’s happened is you’re getting fewer customers landing on your webpage but they are more highly motivated and more targeted and at the end of the day, that’s the real kicker because that is exactly where you want to be.

James: So what sort of change in mindset do we need to have to really have a go of semantic search? I guess the first thing would be to have a real kind of moving away or though away from traditional keyword based search and keyword data which I guess for Google to be kind of forcing on us right? I mean we can’t access keyword data in the same way that we used to. I mean on that point, should we still consider keyword data? Should we still look to map our site and build our purpose around what people are actually searching?

David: It’s a brilliant question, you’re right! Keywords that are provided now is universal. No way must it actually get keyword data because they can’t really track keywords that put customers in to their websites, although through Google webmaster tools you can still get keyword data for the past 90 days. But really, the point behind all this is that we used to use keywords because we chased search engines. We created content which appealed to search engine bots first and people second. And that mind-shift that needs to take place now is that you need to run your online business in exactly the same way as you would your offline business. So how would you run an offline business? You’re not trying to impress your advertisers or wow your suppliers, obviously you do it differently but that’s not the way you do your business. What you are trying to do is get your customers, those who see you, to make an informed decision that you have the business that they actually want to work with, you’re the person they want to make a purchasing decision for with. So in order to do that, you have to basically in every kind of contact, whether it’s visual, whether it’s through your advertising whether through the setup of your shop, and in this case your website, you create visual cues which sent a message you create with all these information which allows everybody to make an informed decision based on this. And this is the mind shift. Basically you are focusing from search to people and through people you will get search so you are really chasing people. And I am using chasing here obviously in a sort of very broad context. The thing is, the moment you succeed in that, you’ve won. Because suddenly you have an audience and it’s your audience, it’s not anybody else’s. That gives you a good operating base and that moment you have an audience, you also have an impact in search because that audience is an online audience, they are active in the social web, they are active themselves in websites, they are active in terms of how they pass around information and engage and interact with it. So they become your footprint on the web, it’s like your shop has suddenly grown times the number of people in the audience that you have. And that’s an incredible thing to have.

James: Great! Well, let’s talk a little bit about content because I am sure that the kind of mechanics of content would always be something that would always someone who is getting in to this. What sort of frequency, format should we be looking at? Or in fact does none of this stuff matter but we should do it with a personal voice that connects with our audience?

David: Certainly there is a technicality to that but the most proficient and efficient SEO in the world would not be as a really passionate person can really reach the audience which is your connection with your online audience is key to this. If you have a voice, obviously you think how you use it best. And here there are several factors. The amount of time you have available coming, the amount of money you have available for this coming to it, perhaps the technical expertise will come in. if you can make fantastic videos which everybody loves to share to go viral, great! Do that! If you make podcasts, very good. If you can write really well and really passionately, that’s fantastic. To get the technicality of how long should my writing be, well it should be as long as it should be to get the message across. If you look at Seth Godin for instance, these days, he barely writes more than 25 words but they are 25 fantastic words because he has been thinking about it for ages. He puts that in there because he does not have lots of time, and he gives you an idea which is really fantastic. And it’s that kind of value that we are actually looking for in terms of a win in a semantic web. It is transparent where everything you do now begins to accrue value, it has a reputation which broadens your digital footprint.

James: You stated somewhere in the web when I was researching for this interview that Google+ is the closest you’ll get to a shortcut in semantic search. Explain what you mean by that one.

David: Okay, a lot of people think that Google+ is a rival to Facebook because we use the word social network to explain what it is because it is convenient but really it has nothing to do with Facebook. Google+ is a social layer that Google has put in place and its real intent is to create an online identity service for semantic search. And why do we need that? Because semantic search really needs that unique factor, it needs to understand that I am David and I do very specific things and you are James and you do very specific things and although we are both male, that’s the only commonality we have, we’re in different geographic locales, different age, different experience, and different activities and so on. The only way you can do that is if it begins to identify us from an initial point and the easiest initial point is Google+ so if you are in Google+ and you have your profile, through that profile, what you post or your interactions and your engagement; through the engagement that you post that you have, the people you connect with, all these things are summed up. As they are summed up, they go to your reputational sound cloud which Google uses to assess the impact of what you do. So for instance I was a world’s best fisherman and I had an account in the cloud and on Google+ that is fantastic and I happen one day to come across a bicycle shop and I liked it and I thought it was really cool, I share it with the other fisherman who follow me and tell them have you ever thought of buying a bike? This is the place to do. Well, I can’t do that – or rather I can but it will have no effect whatsoever because my particular pool is in that particular sector which I have built up over time. And again, this would work pretty much the same way that it would work offline. You meet somebody offline who has authority on that subject and they tell you, hey listen if you want a brain operation, I know somebody who knows somebody and the guy is a skier, there is no real connection there but if he is a doctor and he told you that, immediately you begin to trust him right away so it’s a kind of a approach, a kind of human specialty that we get now and Google+ because it’s Google’s own social layer, is entirely transparent to it and right now it will give you the easiest way to gain foothold in Semantic search.

James: And how much David this is actually affecting rank in the search results because Google might argue and I am sure there is plenty others out there, including perhaps myself that also might state the case if there is someone out there who is an authority in a particular niche or area and they are not signed up on Google+, should someone who is part of Google+ automatically get preference within the results? Is this actually on the ground level affecting search results?

David: Great question, the short answer is yes. You actually see a bit of a shift. Now, given the fact that not everybody is on Google+ and Google primarily does not want to focus on that, right now it does that because that is its starting point, eventually as semantic indexing gets more data it will apply pretty much the same nuance metrics on the activity we do here irrespective of whether they are on Google+ or not. We are still in the early days and I have carried out tests with a group of other Google+ experts and this is what we have seen, if you are an authority in your area and you promoted a post, the post is likely to rise to a high visibility and a desktop search results in the first page of Google within a day or two. And it does that very quickly. It does not stay there very long because obviously unless it is a more collaborative activity type i.e. it is thought to be of high value, it is re-shared and visited frequently, then Google’s confidence in it begins to drop off and the moment it begins to drop off the results now is okay but then down it goes. If actually the post is actually engaged with, it does stay and there some examples of posts which started out in Google+ and they’re still on the first page of Google for now two years on, so they have stayed. But they did get that engagement so that is why at this point Google+ is a shortcut, it gives you an instant point to jump off to semantic search. If you are an authority in your own field outside of Google+, you should be there anyway, and Google can actually weigh that and they constantly look and see, it is a very fluctuating field that they look at the results in terms of the user behavior and the visitors to your site and they make a decision which is why posts that are put there don’t stay there more than a week or two.

James: Yeah, got it. Which really revolves back to earlier what we are saying in the piece about identifying what you want to be known for and then creating content that is going to position you as an authority in that particular space, right? I mean regardless of whether you are on Google+ or not, that is the end game.

David: Exactly! Exactly! Yes. At the moment it is an easy win if you are on Google+ because it does give you access to this kind of jump so it is almost a no brainer in terms of doing it.

James: Yeah, let us talk about another win as we kind of get close to wrapping up. In the olden days, and honestly in current search, links from a website to another website is still one of the biggest factors that certainly would signal an authoritative site. We know people have tried to gain that in the past, how in the current day and time in semantic search might an SEO approach link building change comparative to what’s gone on before?

David: What I’d like to see is links go entirely but this is not going to happen anytime soon so –

James: But they have been testing that right? I mean Google has just done a test where they tried to see how a web without links would work –

David: Yes. It has been inconclusive but they have, they actually tried, you are right. The reason they have tried is the moment you create any kind of leaderboard and essentially links because they can be numbered and they have a specific point of origin, they can in themselves be reputationaly valid or not, they create a leaderboard of sorts. The moment you create a leaderboard you also create the incentive for humans to create an economic behavior around it which tries to game it. Which is why Google is trying to move away from that. As semantic search stands at the moment, links are still valid, it certainly is an SEO strategy and they are still as valid in the past in specific industries but on the whole they have been devaluated so basically their drive to build a website up has dropped off and the argument behind that or the logic behind that is that if you take semantic search like a pizza for instance and you have so many slices of the pizza and then you say okay I am going to have a few more guests around the table, well the pizza is still the same right? All you’re going to do is make the pizza smaller. So each slice now has a slightly smaller value because you have more guests at the table. With semantic search there have been a lot of new ranking factors which have been introduced, but the pizza has not grown in size, the game is still the same. So really what happens is the moment you have more factors, a different weight is given to the pre-existing factors, they drop off and then the new value comes in to the new ones and Google constantly assesses the equation to see its effectiveness so one of the maddening things in this area if you are chasing search engines is it’s a very floating game. The moment you think that you’ve nailed it, it actually changes again.

James: Exactly! Well that’s why exactly why we should be moving away from this kind of tactical methodology where you’re seeing a link from a page rank 5 website in this particular vertical is proven to increase results, let’s go and get one it is bound to be good for my website. I mean that sort of mindset is clearly not going to work as things move forward.

David: That is exactly right. You really need to focus on the one thing that you can actually win which is people over and they are hard to fool- we are hard to fool, which forces everybody to be more transparent, more real, more honest. It is a big win for everybody.

James: So where is this whole thing heading? I mean where are we in the evolution of search right now? And what’s coming up in the future do you anticipate?

David: I am very glad you asked that because essentially in the very near future this is what is going to happen, we’ve seen two big moves, one is that chrome has actually got hands-free voice search and we have also seen that Google Docs have now got voice dictation. And these are examples of those increasing sophistication in voice in both understanding and delivering values in terms of that which means that semantic search is going to watch its natural evolution which is screen-less, keyless computers where search is purely voice activated and even the little search box we are familiar with right now eventually is going to disappear and what you are going to have is pretty much a programmable artificial intelligence agent you’d be able to ask to do something for you to go away and come back for results and if you are not sure about them- those results, you can say, how did you get to that answer and it will give you all the different steps it actually took so you can actually verify them so that is where we are heading.

James: It sounds like that recent film, right? Have you watched Her?

David: Her! Yes, fantastic, really! I mean that is very much a sign of our time because when they created Her I mean the female basically feeds off the subtext of the cultural sub-stream that if floats in and there is an undercurrent where we are increasingly bonding with the technology, it is becoming and indispensable part of us. We carry around small pocket size computers wherever we are. We carry tablets with us which gives us incredible computing power and access to the web irrespective of where we are. I have done hangouts in airports and have closed business deals in cafes which is ridiculous when you think about it. But it is done through these wireless connections so it is very much a reflection of how we are subconsciously seeing ourselves evolve with the tech that we use.

James: Fantastic! We’re certainly getting there with things like Google Now, right which has the ability to anticipate where we’re going, what we’re doing and make suggestions on that basis. It is really mind blowing stuff right?

David: It is predictive search at its best certainly and it sort of nails the argument that we are unpredictable because really we are not, we are very, very predictable. What is missing to make us predictable is the masses of data which form our habitual activity and the moment that data is there then we can see that we are creatures of habit we do very specific things in very specific ways and it can actually be pre-programmed ahead for us.

James: Yeah! Which makes us wonder maybe that actual reality of that movie Her is perhaps not that far away from us right? We are probably getting close to it.

David: Well, there have been a couple of instances in Japan where Japanese executives actually have married an AI I think and in terms of the emotional impact and connection, in the person’s mind, it is the real thing. So what you are missing is the contextual contact elements and that is an entirely different story now we’ve evolving in that direction.

James: Yeah, well I think on that point David, let’s wrap it up, I certainly did not expect us to be talking about marriage and artificial intelligence on this interview so I think that is an appropriate time to wrap things up. You’ve af course got a book on this whole concept Google Semantic Search, I am sure our listeners would be interested where they can get that. Is there any available online and in any good bookstores?

David: Absolutely! They can get in Amazon, Google Play and certainly any good book shop should stock it.

James: Fantastic! And where should we go to find out a little bit more about David Amerland?

David: I blog a lot about all these things including search at so if you search for me there you’ll find the content that I produce.

James: Well you’ve been extremely generous of your time I have thoroughly enjoyed our last 25 to 30 minutes of conversation, David, thanks for coming on Traffic Jam.

David: Thank you very much, I was really excited to be here.

This Week’s News in Traffic

Okay, so we have a couple of stories this week both from the big giants online, Facebook and Google, and we’ll go to Google first. There’s been an update recently in Gmail that allows you to use this to auto unsubscribe from promotional messages. Now already, Gmail users are seeing a more permanent link at the top of the email beside the sender’s name allowing them to unsubscribe without looking right at the bottom of the message where you’ll normally find the unsubscribe link. Now of course, marketers – they’re a bit aggrieved about this, they are all worried that this will drive lower subscription rates but there are some upsides. I think it will drive complaint rates lower and improve deliverability and potentially increase the amount of messages that get in to the inbox, since the link from Gmail itself, I do think that subscribers will be more likely to click on that link rather than ignoring future emails and that of course is a win for marketers. What do you need to do yourself in light of this news? I think the first action item would be to implement your own auto unsubscribe sequence to remove people who don’t open your email and also give instructions to Gmail users to drag your email in to the main inbox so you are less likely to fall foul of this unsubscribe request later on.

Next we go to Facebook and they have given advertisers a way to target by relationship status. The new targeting status now include those who have updated their status recently i.e in a domestic partnership, in a civil union, newly wed, etc. etc. Additionally advertisers can target by recently changed life events within specific periods of time – i.e. new relationship status, newly engaged, newly wed within a specific time period like three, six months or even one year. Advertisers will also be able to build campaigns around combinations of geographies country and city like the UK and Dublin, country and state such as Canada and California, and state and city New Mexico and Los Angeles as well as easily include certain areas such as the UK excluding Cambridge for instance. The ability to build ad campaigns that target your users by specific interests will also be more refined. For example, marketers can choose baseball as their targeted segment which correlates to users who have liked or expressed interest in baseball related topics and pages.

If you are a seasoned Traffic Jam listener and you’re yet to leave the show a review, then what the heck are you waiting for? As I said many times before in the show, leaving a review on iTunes or Stitcher radio really is the best possible way that you can show support so if you are an iTunes listener perhaps this week head on over to iTunes, search for the Traffic Jam podcast and leave a rating, a bit of a comment and a bit of a review or maybe if you are a Stitcher radio listener then head on over to Stitcher and follow the same process to leave a review for the show there as I said in this little sequence and many times in the show before, it really is a great way to show your support for the show; it helps us move up the rankings and help get this great content in to more ear buds  and I think that should be a goal for all of us.

The One Minute Traffic Tip

Okay, so I’ve got another email marketing tip for you this week and this one is so simple and obvious I think you are going to kick yourself in the foot if you are not doing it already. If you are broadcasting eamils to your list which of course you should be when you’ve got something interesting or valuable to share with your audience, make sure the largest number of people possible from your email list get to receive that information. Perhaps the easiest way to get it opened is to email again everyone that did not open my original email. Don’t get worried that this tactic might be annoying, people do get a huge amount of email and yours might just got buried in and amongst that. Now perhaps your subject line may have nor resonated originally or maybe you have sent your email on the wrong time of the day so when you do email again and of course just to those people who did not open their first email, try sending at a different time of day and using a different email subject line, one that perhaps has a different angle or approach. This is a very easy process and most email broadcast systems like Aweber and Ontraport and others do allow for filtering recipients who did not open the email. Go give this a try and I think you’ll see a big difference in the number of people that get to read your emails.

Okay, I guess that’s it! That does round out another episode of Traffic Jam. Thank you to my guest today, David Amerland. There’ll be lots more quality guests lined up for the forthcoming weeks including one very, very special guest next week. A real celebrity in the space you’re not going to want to miss that episode. In the coming week, please be sure to check out the content over at You’ll find this episode listed there plus a host of other traffic tips and training as well as ways that I can help you in my SEO service and Google Adwords management service so if you want me to help grow your traffic faster, then that’s the place you’ll find out about all of that. To play out this week’s episode, of course we have a track chosen by my guest today, David Amerland, it’s by a Scottish singer – songwriter who is known as the Brother in Arms  or the sultan of swing, his name is Mark Knopfler and the track that we are playing of his is called Sailing to Philadelphia so enjoy that track and  I will see you back here real soon!





  • Gmail Launches The Unsubscribe Button
  • Facebook Now Allow Advertisers to Target By Relationship Status


  • Increase The Number of People Getting the Information by Resending the Email Again to those who have not opened it.


  • Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia

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About James Reynolds

James is passionate about helping you get more traffic and sales from search engines. Join 3223+ subscribers who get traffic tips from James weekly