BrightonSEO September 2023 Special

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Jack: Hello and welcome to episode 87 of season 2 of the Search With Candour podcast. I am your host as always, Jack Chambers-Ward. And joining me this week is about half a dozen guests from BrightonSEO. That's right, it's the BrightonSEO special time, and I'm going to be interviewing some fantastic people about a particular little topic that I thought would be fun. What industry they had worked in before they got into SEO? And, of course, there's a little twist and a follow-up question as well. Unfortunately, the fact that you are hearing this on the Monday means that our live podcast, the live podcast collaboration between myself from Search With Candour and the fantastic duo of Sarah and Tazmin from the SEO Mindset has been lost to the sands of time. If you weren't there in person, you will not hear the episode. Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties with the recording of the audio and things like that, so people who attended said it was great.

So get your tickets the next time. We're hopefully planning to do it again in April just before BrightonSEO again as well. So it is the in-person exclusive for that event. I didn't know it at the time, but yeah, we're kind of trying to see the positive side and seeing that you had to be there to experience it. We've already had some fantastic and lovely feedback from the people who were in attendance when we're talking all about how to manage your energy levels, not just at conferences but in life in general. And I think we had some really good tips and tricks and advice and all that kind of stuff.

Yeah. So unfortunately, that will not be on the podcast feed either on this from Search With Candour or the SEO Mindset. I was going to do as well as but instead of the releasing that of straightaway after BrightonSEO, you're going to get my handful of interviews with people around BrightonSEO, including Sarah McDowell since I thought we better record a podcast together because nobody will hear the live podcast we did together. I've got Matt Coley from Era. I've got Alizée Baudez who has been on the show now twice before, Gemma from Webcertain, Kyle Rushton McGregor, and Sarah McDowell and it's a fantastic little group of interviews. I'll basically give you a little intro to each one as we go through.

Before we get to that, I'd like to say, of course, a huge thank you to SISTRIX for sponsoring Search With Candour. They're also our primary sponsor for the live podcast as well. They make the live podcast possible, which is fantastic. We now have banners and we had snacks and we were also sponsored by Majestic for that podcast as well. It was a fantastic event and thank you SISTRIX for making that possible. They have been hugely supportive. We even got beanies out of it as well. We've got a little SISTRIX beanies and yeah, huge thank you to SISTRIX for sponsoring Search With Candour. If you want to go and check out SISTRIX, I highly recommend you do. Go to

You can try out some of their free tools. You can get a free trial for their fantastic service as well. And, of course, go to to go and get TrendWatch. Mark and I will be talking about that next week. You stay tuned for that. And, of course, for SectorWatch and all the fun stuff around Visibility Leaders as well. Go and check all of those stuff out. Go and subscribe to the newsletter and support SISTRIX in the same way they have been so kindly supporting us throughout 2023. Now, it's on to my discussions with some fantastic people from BrightonSEO.

Matt Kohli

First up here is Matt Kohli from Aira. Hey Matt from Aira, how are you?

Matt: I'm good. I'm good. How are you?

Jack: All right. Thanks. Welcome to Search With Candour, the BrightonSEO special. You are the first guest.

Matt: Yeah, little impromptu meetup.

Jack: About time just for impromptu podcast.

Matt: I just found out I'm doing this.

Jack: I warned you like two seconds ago. So welcome to the podcast.

Matt: Thank you. Thank you very much. It's good to be here.

Jack: How has BrightonSEO been so far for you?

Matt: It's been good. I mean I'm not going to lie. I got here quite late in the day. I got here about 12:30.

Jack: I remember you saying, I guess, "Oh, I'm going to wait for my train to get in at twelve-"

Matt: I mean the trains were delayed. It was just a typical train experience.

Jack: We were delayed yesterday when Mark and I came in.

Matt: Oh, really?

Jack: It was a long journey. Yeah.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I was going to be driving and then I couldn't drive in the end because I didn't have business insurance, which everybody at our company now needs to drive.

Jack: Ah, right.

Matt: I think everybody technically needs it.

Jack: Yeah, probably.

Matt: Sadly, we had to switch to the train and then two of the trains I was supposed to get got canceled.

Jack: Oh, great.

Matt: And I had three changes, but I made it and it's good to be here.

Jack: Brilliant. So my first question is, and we were just talking about this before we started recording, funnily enough, what did you do before you started working in SEO?

Matt: Wow. So there's a few different things actually. I mean, immediately before I started SEO, I was at university, so studied business for the first couple of years.

Jack: You mentioned you did a digital marketing degree that didn't actually help you very much in your SEO career.

Matt: Yeah. I'm not going to name the uni on the podcast, but...

Jack: No naming and shaming.

Matt: No, no. I mean I did a digital marketing course so I switched in my final year, and I'd say most of what I learned was marketing strategy fundamentals. And I mean, I was talking to you about this earlier, I feel like the great part of it was really in the digital psychology modules. So that's something that carries free to my work today. Like I was saying to you, I find it really, really interesting that the color of a button or the layout of a page can have such a big influence on the outcome. But yeah, I mean before university, I was working in sales and recruitment, so very wheeler-dealer lifestyle before.

Jack: You kind of mellowed out a bit into SEO.

Matt: Yeah. And now I hate to say it, but if I get messages from recruiters, I'm not as sympathetic as I should be as an ex-recruiter.

Jack: I feel like yeah, as an ex-recruiter, you should have that kind of like sympathy towards them. You've been through that stuff.

Matt: That's quite bad actually, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah, coldblooded is what we like to say.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I suppose I learned that from recruitment.

Jack: Oh, that's true. That's true. That's true.

Matt: Yeah. So cool.

Jack: And then my next question is when the AI overlords do take over and we're all the robot slaves, are you going to go crawling back with your tail between your legs back to sales and recruitment?

Matt: Oh, a hundred percent. 100%. I'm going to get AI to automate all of the list building.

Jack: Oh, lovely.

Matt: So I'm going to get all the names that I need to call. All I have to do is sit there and run from my phone all day.

Jack: Got that. Sounds like the old-

Matt: That stuff that everybody loves receiving. I'll be that guy again.

Jack: Going back to being the most popular man in the room.

Matt: Yep, of course.

Jack: Good Lord. Awesome. Well, thank you, Matt. Thank you for joining me, and you'll be coming on an actual full episode in the not too distant future hopefully.

Matt: Yeah, I'm looking forward.

Jack: Fingers crossed.

Matt: Definitely.

Jack: Awesome.

Gemma Houghton

Next up is the birthday girl herself, Gemma from Webcertain who also run the International Search Summit. Go and check that out. I'll put links for that in the show notes. Here's Gemma and I.

Hello, Gemma from Webcertain. How are you?

Gemma: Hello. I'm very good, thank you. How are you?

Jack: Happy birthday.

Gemma: Oh, thank you. Yes.

Jack: It's for BrightonSEO and it is your birthday.

Gemma: Yeah, I mean obviously, they planned it intentionally. It's a big party. Yeah.

Jack: Always schedule it around your birthday.

Gemma: Absolutely. Yeah.

Jack: The world revolves around you on your birthday.

Gemma: Of course.

Jack: We were just talking about the International Search Summit as well. Do you want to tell the listeners a little bit about that coming up in November, which is very exciting?

Gemma: Yes. So the International Search Summit is a search marketing event but specifically focused on international topics. So it is all about trying to do SEO and also paid search content marketing across multiple languages and multiple markets. So yep, it's conference in Barcelona, which goes down usually quite well with people because it's not a terrible place to visit.

Jack: We've had pretty nice weather here in Brighton now.

Gemma: We have.

Jack: I think we'll have pretty good weather in Barcelona.

Gemma: We should do what for we're hoping for.

Jack: Fingers crossed.

Gemma: Yeah, it's just a great international community event. We get people traveling from across Europe and beyond to come and marketers working from on all different kinds of campaigns internationally. And yeah, it's just a really fun and welcoming and lovely event.

Jack: Amazing. Well, my first question for you is what did you do before you started working in marketing and SEO?

Gemma: Okay. So it was a long time ago that I started working in marketing and SEO, but before that, I worked for a conveyor belt manufacturer.

Jack: What?

Gemma: Yeah.

Jack: Okay. In the factory? Well, how did that work?

Gemma: Well, it was actually in the factory because the office was above the factory.

Jack: Oh, wow.

Gemma: It was in the sales and marketing function. I did a languages degree, and it was a kind of support role that required languages because they marketed internationally. So that was my first foray into the kind of concept of international marketing, and then I moved into Webcertain and digital marketing.

Jack: Very cool, very cool.

Gemma: And left the conveyor belts behind.

Jack: Were they conveyor belts for like... I don't know. I'm trying to think what you used to-

Gemma: Not for like Tesco. No, they're more like the machinery and stuff.

Jack: Yeah, like sushi restaurants.

Gemma: No, not quite.

Jack: All right.

Gemma: More like the kind of belts that they used to make machines that go into factories.

Jack: Right, right. Okay.

Gemma: So I still know the German word for conveyor belt, I mean comes in handy all the time.

Jack: What is the German word?

Gemma: Förderband.

Jack: Forderbander. Nice. Okay. I thought that. I know there are a few other German people here, so a plus up.

Gemma: They're probably going to tell me run now, run, I'm pretty sure.

Jack: Förderband.

Gemma: I think it's that, yeah.

Jack: And when the AI overlords takeover and we are their robot slaves, do you plan to go crawling back with a tail between your legs back to conveyor belt marketing?

Gemma: No.

Jack: Okay, good.

Gemma: I do not.

Jack: Good, good. Correct answer.

Kyle Rushton McGregor

Next up, it's Mr. GA4 himself and apparently my lookalike, my twin, Kyle Rushton McGregor. Hello, Kyle Rushton McGregor. Welcome to the show.

Kyle: Hello. Hello.

Jack: The my SEO twin. As we've been told, we've been mistaken for each other a couple of times at BrightonSEO. It's been-

Kyle: Yeah, be mistaken for Jack Osbourne.

Jack: Yes.

Kyle: Not at BrightonSEO.

Jack: We both look like Jack Osbourne apparently, which is a whole thing.

Kyle: Yeah.

Jack: I've been told that a lot in my life. We literally like comparing photos yesterday, weren't we?

Kyle: Yeah, it's a blessing and a curse.

Jack: Mostly a curse, I feel.

Kyle: Potentially. Yeah.

Jack: It's not like exactly a sex symbol. It's not like, "Oh, you look just like George Clooney or Brad Pitt."

Kyle: Yeah. I certainly had that in my younger days, not so much now. It's George Clooney now merged into Jack Osbourne, I think.

Jack: So my first question for you is what was the job you did before you got into SEO?

Kyle: So I was a store manager at a Cooperative food store.

Jack: Oh, the big Co-op. Wow. Exciting.

Kyle: Yeah, and then I needed to find a new avenue, so that's how I-

Jack: Did you kind of stumble into SEO like we all did?

Kyle: I think so, yeah, but never looked back.

Jack: You're not tempted.

Kyle: I don't think so. No.

Jack: Well, that is my follow-up question because the robot overlords are going to take over and we're going to be all of their slaves in a matter of years. So what is the backup plan? Will you go crawling back to the co-op with your tail between your legs trying to teach them about GA4?

Kyle: Potentially. I do find when I go to the co-ops now, that I'm still facing up the store, checking dates.

Jack: Are you still working and budgeting so I know the feeling?

Kyle: Yeah, still checking dates, all that kind of stuff, so maybe.

Jack: I've apologized to staff for pulling the empty box forward and moving it across. But sorry, I'm facing up for you, but I know it's great, it's fine.

Kyle: Yeah, but they don't give me a discount when I do that nightly.

Jack: That's problem. That is a problem.

Kyle: So yeah, that's what I go back to I think.

Jack: Nice. Awesome. Thank you very much for joining me, Kyle.

Kyle: Not a problem.

Jack: Just have you on a proper episode of the podcast in then not too distant future.

Kyle: Looking forward to it.

Jack: Awesome.

Alizée Baudez

Making a record third appearance as a guest on the show, the one and only Alizée Baudez. Hello for the third time.

Alizée: Amazing right.

Jack: Alizée Baudez, welcome to the show.

Alizée: Thank you very much.

Jack: We did a BrightonSEO horror story a year ago almost in October.

Alizée: Yes.

Jack: And then you've since been on the show properly and we're now back again at BrightonSEO.

Alizée: I just can't get enough of this show honestly. I'm just-

Jack: That's why I like to hear.

Alizée: I'm here to stay.

Jack: New co-host.

Alizée: If you want to, we can have a conversation about this.

Jack: We're just talking about mics and stuff, so maybe.

Alizée: That'll be fun.

Jack: Maybe we'll get you podcasting eventually. Yeah, definitely.

Alizée: Maybe.

Jack: So my first question for you is before you started working in SEO, what did you do for a job?

Alizée: I did many, many things, but my very, very first paid job that wasn't babysitting for my cousins was wrapping Christmas presents in a wine selling shop. Very French.

Jack: That's the most French thing I've had ever had.

Alizée: That's most French thing I could say, but that's the first thing I did. And believe it or not, I did that for three days. I was not even-

Jack: Three days?

Alizée: Yeah, just before Christmas. Three days, I was at school the rest of the time, and the person that employed me at the time actually did leave the shop to me for a full hour.

Jack: Nice. How old were you at this point?

Alizée: 17.

Jack: Nice. Okay. Yeah.

Alizée: And 99%. So yeah, that was my first job. My very first paid big girl job.

Jack: At 17.

Alizée: At 17.

Jack: .999.

Alizée: .999.

Jack: So when the robot overlords do take over the world and we are all their AI slaves, do you intend to go back to wrapping in a wine selling shop?

Alizée: Have you ever tried to wrap a wine bottle?

Jack: No. I don't drink wine. No.

Alizée: Well, I can tell you either AI has made massive progress in robotics or I still have a job.

Jack: Okay, so it's a safe backup to go back to...

Alizée: I think it's a safe backup. It's not a lucrative.

Jack: 18 years later.

Alizée: I mean it was a hundred euros for three days, so It's not the most lucrative option.

Jack: That's not terrible.

Alizée: I mean I was happy with that. It's amazing.

Jack: At 17, that's pretty great.

Alizée: That was really cool. Won't be able to pay all my bills with this, but there's an option.

Jack: It's a good start.

Alizée: Yes, it's a good start.

Jack: Nice. Well, thank you for joining me for round three.

Alizée: Thank you. I'll wait to be back.

Jack: And last but certainly not least, like I said, my collaborator and co-host on our live podcast, she is the host of the SEO Mindset podcast. The one, the only Sarah McDowell.

Sarah McDowell

Hey, Sarah McDowell, how are you?

Sarah: Hey, Jack Chambers-Ward.

Jack: We're taking against out of each other's surnames earlier, weren't we?

Sarah: I think I'm just jealous because I'm not double-barreled.

Jack: Yeah, it's the cool thing to do now.

Sarah: I know I'm just a McDowell.

Jack: We got Mark Williams-Cook. I had Kyle Rushton McGregor on earlier. That's a lot.

Sarah: I can tell you something. So I have Irish in my family.

Jack: Okay.

Sarah: And if we were in Ireland, you pronounce it Mee-dee-wl.

Jack: Mee-dee-wl.

Sarah: Mee-dee-wl.

Jack: I'm going to call you Mee-dee-wl for now.

Sarah: Sarah Mee-dee-wl, isn't that fun to say?

Jack: Come from McDowell to Mee-dee-wl. Nice. Well, before you started working in SEO, what were you up to? What were you doing for a living?

Sarah: Before SEO?

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: Like SEO is live.

Jack: Can you imagine a world before SEO?

Sarah: No, that's really hard for me to comprehend. Well, I mean all SEOs, you just kind of full interest, I suppose, don't you?

Jack: That does seem to be the consistent thing, yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. So what is that? What was I doing? Well, I studied dance and culture at university.

Jack: I didn't know that. Yeah.

Sarah: It was a really good course because it was dance and culture. We did five principles. It was ballet contemporary choreography. Then we also got to do Kathak and yes, Kathak is a Indian style of dance.

Jack: Oh, wow.

Sarah: And then African peoples dance as well.

Jack: Oh, cool.

Sarah: So yeah, that was really cool. And then what did I do? Do you know what? This is like I'm having to think over 10 years back now. I'm just trying to think-

Jack: How long have you been an SEO for?

Sarah: I've been, well, I think I'm coming up to nearly 15 years to be fair.

Jack: How's that? You're younger than me, how is that even impossible?

Sarah: Well, it's very good. Well yeah, because I-

Jack: I know Ryan Jones says the same thing. He's like, "Well, I'm doing it for nine years." He's 24. How's that possible? That's not allowed.

Sarah: Well, I think it's because... So I'm 32 going to be 33, I think.

Jack: Yeah, we did the math of it.

Sarah: We did the math. So after I graduated from university, I did traveling for a bit and then I worked in a bank check sorting office.

Jack: Oh, wow.

Sarah: Yes.

Jack: That's exhilarating. No wonder you ended up an SEO. Wow.

Sarah: Yeah. And then I wasn't there long.

Jack: No surprise.

Sarah: Yeah, too many paper cuts. And then I wanted to find my career role and then someone said, "What you want to do is get in the company where there's opportunity to grow." And my auntie worked in marketing and they were like, "I think you'd quite like digital marketing and marketing."

Jack: Nice.

Sarah: So that's what I did. So I reached out to a digital marketing agency and yeah, I applied for the reception role. The reception role had already been taken, but they were looking to grow their SEO team and they wanted people with no prior, sorry, I had a moment then, prior experience, like they wanted blank sheets.

Jack: Oh, cool.

Sarah: So I got into SEO quite quick to be fair. All right.

Jack: Well, accidentally.

Sarah: Fair accidentally. But yeah, I was in a bank check sorting office.

Jack: So when the robot overlords takeover and we're all their AI slaves and SEO is dead, there's no jobs to be done anymore, are you going back to sorting bank checks or are you going back to dancing as the question?

Sarah: Oh gosh, can't cope with any more paper cuts. So probably dance. I'll find a way.

Jack: Go back and lose yourself to dance once again.

Sarah: Lose yourself in the moment...I've lost the plot! Maybe cut that bit out.

Jack: I'll cut that bit and that's the social clip teaser. Just your little Eminem moment.

Sarah: This is what two days at BrightonSEO just to you. You go a bit delusional at the end.

Jack: This is Friday afternoon by the way, listeners. This is delirious.

Sarah: So you might listen back to this and be like, "This makes no sense, whatsoever."

Jack: All the other talk, they made so much more sense until Jack gets to Friday afternoon and everyone's delirious. Yeah. Well, thank you for joining me once again.

Sarah: I mean, it's always a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Jack: Yeah, since we don't have our live podcast to go on our podcast feeds.

Sarah: Let's, just not talk about that.

Jack: We don't talk about that.

Sarah: Yeah. We'll just ignore that.

Jack: I'm sorry listeners.


I hope you've enjoyed those little snippets from the BrightonSEO floor. Hopefully, the audio came out okay. I was running around with little lapel mics trying to record as best as I could around the incredibly busy main show floor of BrightonSEO. If you haven't already, please do check out BrightonSEO. They were really, really great to me running around and recording stuff and things like that., go and check them out. If you'd like to come and check out Neurodivergents in SEO, which is the recent community that I've co-founded with my other friend, Sarah Presch, please do come and check us out. I'll put a link for that in the show notes as well. If you or someone you know is neurodivergent, whether you're diagnosed or undiagnosed, we are fully accepting and fully welcoming of everyone. Please come and join Neurodivergents in SEO. You can find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or go to and click on that.

You can join our Slack community, and we had a meetup that was really, really fantastic. It was fantastic to finally meet so many people. I've been speaking to online for many months and many years and many cases and some of my absolute favorite people I've met since working in SEO. So yeah, please do come and check that out. If you would like to, of course, you can follow what we are doing. Please do go and rate us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, wherever you are listening to this.

We hugely appreciate all the reviews that come through and any support you can give the show. I'll be back next week mark and I'll be doing our usual SISTRIX with Candour monthly recap. We'll be diving into core updates. We'll be diving into TrendWatch and all kinds of different stuff. I can't wait to catch up with Mark. And, of course, I'll have plenty of amazing guests coming up, including Ashwin from Optimizer, Adam Gent, and David Ojeda talking all about schema. So stay tuned for those in the next few weeks. And until then, thank you so much for listening and have a lovely week.