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Understanding Research Engine Optimization And Its Impact on SEO with Shama Hyder

Understanding Research Engine Optimization And Its Impact on SEO with Shama Hyder written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

Shama Hyder - Duct Tape Marketing podcast

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Shama Hyder. Shama is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of Zen Media – a global marketing and digital PR firm. Shama is the bestselling author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, now in its 4th edition and Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age.

Our conversation covers the intriguing realm of digital marketing, exploring the shift from traditional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the evolving landscape of Recommendation Engine Optimization (REO). Shama sheds light on the significant changes in how people discover brands online and the impact of dark social on this transformation.

Key Takeaways

Embark on a transformative journey with Shama Hyder in this Duct Tape Marketing Podcast episode, where she unveils the concept of Recommendation Engine Optimization (REO) as the evolution from traditional search engine optimization. Explore the impact of dark social on brand discovery and gain insights into the four key channels for optimization: traditional search engines, rented channels like social media, earned media through endorsements and PR, and emerging media such as voice and AI platforms.

Shama addresses the complexities of privacy concerns, artificial intelligence, and generational shifts in attitudes towards data sharing, providing valuable perspectives on navigating this evolving landscape. As the digital marketing landscape continues to shift, learn the importance of adapting to new rules of influence and avoiding overreliance on any single channel. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting, these key takeaways offer actionable insights to navigate the changing tides of the digital realm.


Questions I ask Shama Hyder:

[01:16] SEO versus REO, what’s the difference between those two terms?

[02:34] Would you say the coalition of these recommendation tools are where we are going with REO?

[06:56] What is Dark Social?

[09:10] How can business owners optimize for recommendation engines in their marketing?

[13:15] How do you see search changing, would it be through conversational information?

[16:09] How does Privacy and Data play a role in REO?

[19:28] Where can people learn more about what you do and connect with you?


More About Shama Hyder:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, my guest today, Shama Hyder. She’s a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, bestselling author and award-winning CEO of Zen Media, a global marketing and digital PR firm. She’s a bestselling author of the Zen of Social Media Marketing Now in its fourth edition and Momentum, how to propel your marketing and transform your brand in the Digital Age. So Shama, welcome to the show.

Shama (00:39): Thanks, John. Pleasure to be here.

John (00:41): It’s been a while, haven’t seen you for a long time. I know you were on with probably with the Zen of Social Media Marketing, but I actually asked you to be on the show because it was marked by a post you did on LinkedIn where you talked about a topic that I think it’s starting to get more buzz, but it’s still a fairly relatively new term. And that’s REO, not the band. I’m old enough to have head a band called REO Speedwagon playing at my prom, but that’s what we’re going to talk about REO. Well, just to get into it in your own words, SEO versus REO, what’s the difference between those two terms?

Shama (01:21): Yeah, so REO, this is just something who made a whole chart and had fun with it, but it call it sort of recommendation engine optimization, right? Where I think, so SEO obviously as you know, search engine optimization, so that’s not going away by the way. Search engines are still here, they’re evolving and so forth. But what I’m really curious about and exploring really with our clients and having these conversations is this broader idea that now search engines aren’t the gateway that they used to be, and that’s not just because of ai, multiple things. And we can get into that buts, I’m thinking about search engines now as a subset of greater discovery on the internet. And so it goes from, that’s why I’m calling it recommendation engine optimization, which is sort of this broader umbrella term and then the specific types of optimization and channels that fall under it.

John (02:17): Well, and what’s interesting, I mean I think we’ve had this since the advent of say Google reviews or even social media. I mean, we’ve had people going to other places to get recommendations and not just turning to search engines. There were certain things search engines could never really produce a very good recommendation for. I think the suggestion here is that all of these things are kind of coalescing around some new tools that are going to make it even easier. I mean that we can actually collect all these things in one place. Is that kind of the idea that we’re bringing together all the places people can recommend? And so then the implication is we as marketers have to find ways to optimize that new behavior,

Shama (02:56): Right? So historically was never just people finding things to search engines. So there’ve always been other mediums, meaning even picking up the phone and calling your buddy for a recommendation, that’s still a different way to discover something. What’s happening now, I think more so than ever before is the scale and speed at which we’re using different tools. So before search engine still controlled the majority, and the way I think about this, John, is that they were the discovery engine. So it’s like you were trying to find something and you started with your search engine defined that topic, right? Research that your research kind of began there. What’s really interesting is now what we’re seeing, even with Zen Media, with clients with different, we have a lot of data too that we analyze and look at, which is wonderful, B2B, a lot of tech, even B2C clients. And you see the similar patterns we’re search engines aren’t necessarily the gateway that they used to be, but more the portal for finding that brand that you’ve been hearing about. So it’s very interesting to see kind of that where their discovery es to know, I guess the art in many ways, like the gateway or the portal to find the website URL, you’re looking for

John (04:13): Phone number, right?

Shama (04:15): Yeah. An example would be someone’s listening to this podcast and you talk about something on here, Don, and you highlight something and then they go back and they’re in their Slack channel talking to their team and someone posts a link to a similar concept and they start seeing it more and more places. So it’s not just sort of a one. And then they’re like, what is this company that I keep hearing about? Then they go to Google or their search engine and they look for it. And so it’s a very different way of finding information and or WhatsApp groups obviously. So there are, you’re right in that there is a convergence of dark social, there is a convergence of AI platforms coming to play, and there’s also just generational changes, workforce changes. I don’t think people realize that in 2024 there are now more gen Zers in the workforce than baby boomers.

John (05:10): You millennials are old farts. Now I think

Shama (05:12): Of the majority of the workforce as is, but there is something that happens when a new generation becomes the majority, the existing. So obviously that’s going to also cause some shifts. So there is a convergence of these three sort of factors, which is leading to what I call these new rules of influence. Or in this specific case we’re talking about recommendation engine optimization or how do people discover your brand? And that’s really the broader question and I think that will change. It’s not just going to be, John, we’ve been around long enough to know when it was keyword stuffing and you could game the search engines.

John (05:53): Well in fact, because that was the only place that people would go, you had to do that, right? You didn’t exist in the first world of digital if you weren’t on page one of Google. Yeah,

Shama (06:05): SEO 1.0 was keyword stuffing, right? SEO 2.0 was where we like, oh, you have to actually care about users and grade good content and all these things. And so it’s definitely had a trajectory and I think it’s going to continue to go in this direction where you can’t rely on search engines. And that’s the other thing. I think overreliance on any one channel, I think that’s the broader message here is what’s going to get marketers and brands in trouble.

John (06:35): Well, in fact, you mentioned generational. I have some Gen Z employees and they will turn to discord communities as their first place to go searching rather than a search engine and that behavior. We can talk a little bit about dark social, that behavior’s not really even being captured or measured I think at the level that it’s going on. So explain what dark social is, just in case somebody hasn’t heard that term and how you see that playing a role in this.

Shama (07:02): Yeah, so dark social is very interesting, and your example, your micro example was perfect, John of you’ve got Gen Z employees where their starting point is discord, where so many people are like discord. We don’t even touch that. What is discord, right? It’s like a whole different world for so many folks. So dark social, the concept is basically this. And by the way, this term was coined in 2014, so it’s not new. The term is not new. And it’s funny, you see a lot of these terms that were coined in 2014, in 2011, even like Google’s zero moment of truth and stuff that now you see it and it’s because it required sort of a tipping point. It required a certain scale to be right. And so dark social is basically this idea that the simplest explanation that I can provide is that we consume publicly, but we share privately, and that’s very different than the internet of yesteryear.

(07:55): So when Facebook first came out, for example, gosh, you could have a page about anything, you could have a page on, I love donuts with sprinkles and get a million likes overnight because people were just so excited to engage in the internet. With the internet in this way, there’s a certain novelty factor that exists now fast forward, and that novelty factor has turned into this weariness that we all feel I think, around internet and digital and it can be draining. And so what happens is we are still consuming all this information, but that novelty of liking and leaving comments and so forth goes away. And so a lot of what happens is in dark channel. So for example, when I posted this thing about REO on LinkedIn, John, I can’t remember if you left a comment or not, or if you just sent me a DM saying, Hey, this would be a cool topic to chat about. And so that’s a great example of dark social emotion. It happens all the time for me, I get way more dms on my posts than I do actual comments because that’s just how people engage. So that is dark social in a nutshell. It’s that we are consuming publicly, but we are sharing privately. And to your point, you can’t track that.

John (09:09): Yeah. So I guess, can you give me an example of how somebody, if we’re saying people need to be optimizing recommendation engines, and I’m out there doing marketing in the traditional sense, I mean, what are some examples, case studies or however you want to present it, of how I would do that?

Shama (09:27): So let’s break it down a little bit, right? So when I say recommendation engine optimization, I was looking at it in four categories, and I called it tree because I really do think reminds me of a tree, a visual. The first is you still have your traditional search engine, so that’s like your traditional search engine and optimiz engine. You’re still getting traffic. Although if you look at even the experience, Google doesn’t have pages anymore and you just have this incredible scroll, which can be a little exhausting,

John (09:54): Depends on what device you’re on, depends on where you’re located when you’re doing the search. I mean, it’s crazy.

Shama (09:59): Totally. And then you see, if you search on desktop, you have tabs called perspectives. So they’ve talked about how experiences matter so much. So now they have, and for big, it’s interesting, they now have a tab for layoffs, someone, so they have now changed. So even traditional search engine is changing, but let’s just say that there’s your traditional search engine, an optimization box. Then you have what I call rent channel optimization, which is social. A good example of this is our body, Rand Fishkin and Spark Toro. They do a lot on LinkedIn on social channels like rented channel optimization. And so many people discover their things through Rand’s posts or their team does videos and so forth. So they are optimizing the rented channels. The third, I call that earned media. Earned media, yes, traditional pr, but also digital. And basically it’s who vouches for you becomes incredibly important.

(10:58): Guess what? These are the same things that chat GPT looks at, SEO for Google and stuff for the longest times said, oh yeah, first they kind of denied, no, we don’t look at these things. Then they said, yes, it matters. And now of course they say yes, it’s hugely important expertise, experience their a t model, right? Authority, trustworthiness. Well, how do you establish experience, expertise, authority, and trust? Earned media is a big part of it. Getting quoted in the media, these podcasts, like all of it, right? And so it’s interesting because we now also have dual identities in many ways or multiple hats because John, as I talked to you right now, in many ways, in a traditional world you would be considered a journalist, but it’s one hat you wear now as a podcaster. As a curator. And so looking at earned media and investing in it becomes very important.

(11:54): So that is another channel that you want to think about how you’re optimizing. And then the last but not least is emerging media. So that is voice, which by the way, I think Alexa did us all a disservice in a little bit because it was just, it’s still clunky, especially when you compare it to chat GBT. But think about the next iteration. So voice chat, GPT, discord, I would also put in this sort of emerging media channel base. And so these are the things that I think you have to look at beyond just traditional search engines. Where do we show up? How do we show up? Because look, I mean, and I just posted about this today, it takes 27 to 32 touchpoint for someone to go from prospect to buyer, like to 32 touchpoint. And if you think those touch points are happening just through search engines, I think that, gosh, I wish because it’d be so much easier. But no, I think this channel fragmentation that began really with the advent of the internet is continuing more and more. And that’s not always great news for brands. They don’t want to always hear that,

John (13:05): But more work. Yeah, and I mean we’re all guessing when we talk about what’s going to happen next, but how do you see search changing? I mean, because I think the traditional search engine model is not going to be able to stay put. We’re all getting used to being able to put in a prompt, I’m going to Italy next week and I’m going to go to these three cities and I’m going to be with these four people, types of people or ages and give me an itinerary. And getting that kind of just conversational info. Do you see a day when that’s what a search engine in general does.

Shama (13:45): It already is, right John, to many degrees. If you put in and Google store, even before chat, GBT, if you put in, for example, weather in Miami, it would just give you the answer. Or if you say, we could choose almost anything and put something in there and Google will first give you the answer, and then it’ll give you all the stuff if you want to go through and find more. And so this is called snippets. So anybody who’s been in SEO was introduced way before chat, GPT, this is just an evolution of that. And that’s why I think, boy, it’s going to be so interesting to watch because yes, I think anybody who’s been, think about anybody who depended on social media ads in the last few years, that cost of acquisition was so cheap and now it’s gone through the roof. And I think that’s something that we’ll all have to contend with.

(14:38): And rather than make sort of excuses, I think this hurts marketers too, by the way, where we don’t just own up and say, yes, what cost of acquisition for customers is higher than it used to be. That is a truth. Inflation is a reality. The idea that it costs more to go after and get buyers absolutely true. It’s just the truth. I talked to a prospect the other day and they were just looking at it and were looking at their Google AdWords and stuff. They were like, I don’t understand, man. It was five years ago, we were killing it. What could we doing differently? And it’s like, look, are there things you could be doing differently? Sure, there’s always ways for efficiency and effectiveness, but if you’re comparing to five years ago,

John (15:27): Of course you can be more expensive. The early days of AdWords, I mean, I would get 22 cent clicks. It was amazing.

Shama (15:35): We just tell our grandkids about that one day. John like, oh, I remember when those clicks were doing. And you know what they’re going to say to us, right? They’re going to say What clicks?

John (15:44): Yeah, what’s a click? Yeah, what’s Google? What’s a browser? No question. So I don’t know. I was going to say, this is the last question I was going repose or last topic, but this is such a big one. How do you see the whole idea of privacy of, we talked about generational differences, generational have different views of privacy when it comes to what they’re doing online. How do you see that AI playing a part of that dark socials playing a part of that, everything people are doing already through say email what privacy and data seems like it’s a piece of this puzzle that everybody likes to talk about, but people are really having trouble coming to any kind of conclusions on.

Shama (16:30): So it is very fascinating, and you’re right, there are certain generational differences. So there’s a couple of things that play. One of them is that we are happy to trade some amount of our data for convenience. I mean, we do it all the time. When you call an Uber or a Lyft or ride sharing service, you’re giving them a lot of data about you, but you’re doing it to say, yeah, look, get me a ride and keep me safe. So I want you to have my identity. I want you to have my data. You can match that and whatnot. So we are giving people, we are willingly trading and we always, we’ve always historically traded some amount of our data for convenience. That’s always going to be a trade-off. And when you are younger, I think that seems like an easier trade-off, like you choose convenience more as you get older.

(17:18): I think that you start to question that a little bit more. Again, these are just sort of generational, very broad stroke speaking. But I think more importantly is that as the novelty of the internet wears off our appetite for giving up our privacy lessons more and more. So before, remember those days, Dawn, when people would just give you their email address? That was a very quick, it got a lot harder to get people’s email address. I mean, you just have to look at all the backlash against gated content. You’re like, why do I just give you anything? And then you have plugins that will fill in with fake data just so people have found all these ways around gated content and so forth. And yeah, I think that’s what happens is there is our appetite for giving our data up lessons as more content grows.

(18:17): But that novelty wears off. It’s like, yeah, and this is the other thing to think about when you are the only shop in town or you’re the only one that has the report, or I can get that data, great write supply demand. Let’s think business basics here. But now, if you have a report coming out on something, and guess what, 10 other companies have a report on that. If I have to give you my blood type to get that, but Company X over here require it, I’ll just go get that. And what stops someone from pulling a PDF or something and sharing it again in a Slack channel or teams with their entire team. And so again, that’s sort of dark social at play. So there’s quite a few factors all coming together. But yeah, I think this battle for privacy and you think you add deep fakes to it. I mean, this is going to be the biggest challenge I believe of the next generation will be disinformation.

John (19:19): Yeah, no question. 100%. Well, this is an emerging topic that we could probably bat around for hours, but we’ve come to the end of the show. Is there someplace that you would invite people to connect with you, find out more about your work?

Shama (19:32): Yeah, I’d love to say hi. Say hi on LinkedIn. That’s my social home. I hang out there. And if you’re curious about more about what we do, then you can definitely check out

John (19:42): Awesome. Well again, appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days soon out there on the road.