The importance of cultural understanding in SEO with Sarah Presch

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Show notes

In this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Sarah Presch, Digital Marketing Director at Argos Multilingual, to discuss how culture can be an essential factor in marketing & SEO. Jack and Sarah discuss:

  • Should you get your content and keywords translated?
  • How to be aware of your cultural biases
  • How to approach ethnic marketing within your home country
  • Understanding different elements of culture

Sarah's links:


Jack: Welcome to Episode 53 of Season Two of the Search With Candour podcast. I am your host for this week, Jack Chambers-Ward, and I'm joined by the digital marketing director of Argos Multilingual, Sarah Presch. Sarah and I are going to be talking about culture and how important that is to the SEO, both international and domestic, and it's a very, very interesting conversation. I think you'll really, really enjoy this one. But before I get to my conversation with Sarah, of course, I love to give a little shoutout to the fantastic sponsor of this show that is SISTRIX. SISTRIX, of course, you probably know already, is the SEO's toolbox. And you can go to if you want to check out some of their fantastic free tools such as their SERP Snippet Generator, Hreflang Validator, the all-important Google Update Radar, and if you want to check your site visibility index as well.

And we actually have an update from SISTRIX about the IndexWatch 2022, and this is for UK visibility winners on Google. And it is written by, former guest of the show and fantastic data journalist and SEO in her own right, Luce Rawlings. And Luce has done a fantastic writeup of the visibility winners, so sites that have seen significant growth throughout 2022. There is a complete list, so the top 25 and then expands into the full top 100, if you go onto the site here. Of course, links for this will be in the show notes at, or you can go to and find all the content that SISTRIX is creating there as well. So let's dive into some index watch, shall we? And something I kind of, I guess, took for granted and didn't really think about, there have been some major gains for media databases and at a glance it looked like IMDb, the Internet Movie Database had seen some pretty significant growth. But in fact, it's IMVDb, which is something I'd never heard of before. And I thought, "Huh, is that a typo? Is that a thing?" I was like... And I looked at the domain data, and it's not. It's a database for music video content, not movie database. It's music video database. Huh, very interesting. We've seen a lot of issues with content for lyric generation sites being caught in spam filters and the spam updates that are happening. And it seems like to kind of contrast that this IMVDb actually was boosted thanks to the Helpful Content Update later on sort of August, September time. It was that wave of the Helpful Content Update. We really saw a lot of movement and everything from artist names to song names and all that kind of stuff. We see a lot of rankings for that kind of stuff because as you can imagine, a lot of that has a lot of search volume behind it. And similarly for, which is again a kind of IMDb-style movie database equivalent, has seen a lot of growth, especially in their person, TV, and movie subfolders. So those directories that actually include information about the people, about the TV shows, about the movies that they're talking about. Obviously, there's been a lot of talk around a lot of movies and TV. I feel like no more than usual. So the fact that the percentage of their page one rankings have doubled during the last year is pretty, pretty darn impressive. And something Luce does a really great job of doing is kind of bringing through the discussion and highlighting the data there. At the same time, also seeing a shift in a lot of e-commerce sites. So Luce dives into the data from eBay here as well, and also looking at what kind of things perform from a visibility perspective. Also, the fact that Etsy are growing pretty significantly as well. Their UK subfolder in particular has seen a pretty huge increase in its visibility score, and the fact that... I know Mark gave the example a few months ago of Etsy seems to have a landing page for pretty much everything, I think they're really nailing that search intent and really kind of have a clear way of ranking for so many of those high-value terms. If you're looking for a specific product, chances are Etsy will have a very specific answer for you. And at the end of the day when you're looking to buy stuff, that search intent is so key, that's such an important part of that customer journey, right? So looking at Etsy and having looked there for their rankings, they gained rankings since January 2022. So a year ago at time of recording pretty much, they gained over two million keywords including lots of fashion-based things, so cute dresses, Korean fashion, lots of other stuff, and they also acquired Depop.

I don't know if you know that, but Etsy acquired Depop. I think it was end of 2021, beginning of 2022, and they managed to bring a lot of that to their now-expanded range at Etsy. So yeah, a very interesting journey. Luce also dives into Shopify visibility for some health-related sites. I know we've touched on Mayo Clinic and the and things like that. A lot of those have seen some quite a bit of volatility of course with the YMYL stuff, but these are top-of-the-line, most visible domains in the world and in the country of the UK in this case. So these are kind of setting the standard for a lot of the YMYL stuff and setting the standard for the rest of us. Essentially, if you are looking to work in the health sector, there are some really fantastic examples of what you can do for your sites and for your clients from this perspective and really see where growth has happened over the last year or so.

So like I said, go to, there will be a link for that in the show notes to go and check out IndexWatch 2022 for the UK. And of course, there'll be links as well to the other IndexWatches. We have a German, Italian, Spanish, and French also. So you can go and check those out in the links at So you may know my guest from their BrightonSEO talk in October last year, also from awards such as the European Search Awards and Think Global and from their appearance on fantastic podcasts such as the Voices of Search. Without any further ado, welcome to the show. Sarah Presch, how are you?

Sarah: Hi, thanks for having me. I'm all good. How about you?

Jack: Yeah, I'm doing well. Thanks. I know we're recording this fairly early. We've done early ones. I know we've had some guests in the US doing at five o'clock in the morning before, but I appreciate you recording in the morning nonetheless on a weekday the day before your holiday, no less.

Sarah: That sounds painful, 5:00 AM.

Jack: Yeah. Yeah, I don't envy having to do that. I've done it in the past where I did it the other way around recording with American hosts, and I was the guest back in the day and recording at three o'clock in the morning is not prime podcasting material. But hopefully, you and I... It's a Wednesday morning. We're recording. We're in the right zone, right, Sarah? We're going to be-

Sarah: Exactly, we're going to do really good. I believe in us.

Jack: Exactly, exactly. So I mentioned at the top there, people might know you from your BrightonSEO talk in October of 2022, and that's kind of the topic we're going to touch on this week on the podcast. I think we're going to kind of cover a lot of what you talked about in your talk and then also kind of expand out of that and cover a few extra bits maybe you didn't get a chance to cover in the 20-ish or so minutes you get in a BrightonSEO talk. So-

Sarah: Yeah, they never leave it very long. There's so much you can say even you get 20 minutes to do it.

Jack: We will be going longer than 20 minutes. This is for this podcast. So I know I've got a bit of a reputation of making these episodes longer since I've joined the show, so apologize in advance, but we'll make some good content in the next 40 minutes and maybe about an hour or so. We'll see how we go. So the title of your talk was Cultural Sociology and SEO: How Culture Impact Buyer Behavior and Can Improve Rankings.

Sarah: Exactly. Yes, that is it.

Jack: I love that title. I love that it kind of covers both sides of things because, at the end of the day, we are a digital marketing podcast. You are a professional and digital marketing yourself, and you kind of want to talk about a broader subject and how maybe things that go under-discussed and underrepresented actually affect us in our ways of digital marketing and stuff like that. And where we want to start is I guess defining what culture is and how that affects us as people, and then we'll kind of bring that into the wider SEO and digital marketing thing as we go through.

Sarah: Yeah. As you just said, I think when we're dealing with search and we're dealing with search campaigns, we often forget there's lots of different outside influences that actually impact kind of how we can do our campaigns, how we can improve them, what we can think about this kind of outside of the SEO world. So that's kind of where the inspiration for doing the whole cultural sociology thing came from because culture's everywhere. Culture, it kind of... Everybody knows it from, for example, Irish culture, British culture, German culture, and from lots of different countries, but it's so much more to that is how people act, why people behave the way they do, the institutions that are in place in certain countries and going back to the behaviour thing. As SEO, we have to try and understand what motivates people but why people are actually making that search in the first place, why they want to do this, why they're actually going to take action. And understanding what motivates them on a cultural level can give you so much understanding into what can make your SEO campaigns work so much better.

Jack: Yeah, I think that's a thing. Like I said, I think that's something that goes underestimated, and underrepresented because so many people... I'm sure plenty of people are thinking like, "Oh, international SEO..." Everybody just thinks like, "Oh, it's translate your website, get a different subdomain or a subfolder, get your hreflangs, problem solved, right? That's all you need to do, as if getting hreflangs correct is an easy thing to do. But I made it sound very simple from that, and I think so many people kind of rely on whether that's human translations or... I think a lot of people rely on plugins and services that do automatic translations and things like that. But from what I understood from listening to your talk and kind of opening my perspective in that way, it's not as simple as that. And there can be a lot of pitfalls and roadblocks along the way with just automated translation having its own issues, let alone the fact that it brings in a whole kind of cultural side of things as well.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. To be honest, I think I could do a whole separate podcast on automatic translations of what you should use machine translations for SEO, but rather than just staying on that and ranting about that because I would rant about it for a very long time.

Jack: Hey, we always welcome a rant here on Search With Candour.

Sarah: It just doesn't do anybody any good because as I said... You know what it's like when you're planning search campaigns, you spend ages looking into the buyer personas, what people do, putting together a plan, putting together a strategy, and they're absolutely massive documents. The amount of detail that we go into with SEOs is really impressive. But when you're dealing with different markets, you can have different search engines, you have all of the different cultural stuff that I've kind of basic... Not basically, very briefly touched upon and just now, and that all impacts that strategy that you've done. See, you have to go back to the drawing board. And translating your strategy and translating your content doesn't really work because, even between Ireland and the UK, we have different likes and dislikes and different things that we want from our search campaigns. I mean, even some of the words we use, if I asked you what press was, would you know what it is?

Jack: No, not inherently. No.

Sarah: It's a cupboard.

Jack: Oh, there you go. Yeah.

Sarah: Exactly, learn something new every day. So that even impacts keyword research, even though we both speak the same language. There's only a tiny little bit of different distance between the UK and Ireland. But yeah, don't use automatic translations or be careful with the human translations as well because what works in one country doesn't always work in another country.

Jack: Yeah. I think that's something that, again, kind of really interesting. Even within different English-speaking languages or different Spanish-speaking languages or different German-speaking languages, there is so much nuance between... As you said then, so many Irish people, granted a lot of people speak Gallic and Irish and things like that as well, but the primary language spoken in Ireland is English, but Scottish English, Welsh English, English English, Northern Irish English, Irish English, Australians, Americans, Canadians, there's so much nuance in there, even outside of like, "Oh, yeah. English speakers get served the same information, doesn't matter where they're from, whatever." But culturally, they are so different and we have so many little bits of information that we unconsciously bring with us because me as a British English speaker, having no concept of what a press is, I was like, "Could it be a shirt press? Could it be pressing juice or something?" I would maybe never have guessed cupboard in a million guesses. I've been like, "Well, it's pressing something, right?" It's got a-

Sarah: That's what most people think. I don't know, pressing your shirt or doing ironing or something like that, pressing apple juice.

Jack: So I guess what are the kind of things we should be aware of as SEOs when we are communicating with different cultures, even within our own language as well?

Sarah: Oh, there's so many different things, even communication styles. In my talk, I briefly touched upon communication styles in different countries and how some people were low context communicators, some people like lots of context. So when you're writing all of this different stuff, you've got landing pages, you've got advertising copy, so much different kind of content you have to create when you are dealing with kind of SEO and marketing in general. Like Chinese consumers, even though Chinese actually, if you do a straight translation from English to Chinese, it'll take up just a little amount of page. So English would be a full landing page and then the Chinese translation will take up about, I don't know, a quarter of the page. Chinese content is actually longer than the English in the long run because they use all of that space to put in extra information, and they like to have all of this different extra information. They like to have descriptions. They just like to have more context in general. And if you're not giving them that context, of course, it's going to kind of impact if people are going to do those conversions or if they're actually going to buy the products online.

Jack: Yeah, I watched a fantastic YouTube video a couple of weeks ago about web design in Japan and how it's this weird kind of branch in and of itself almost of it has no relation to you. You think like, "Oh, yeah." As professional SEOs, we kind of understand the basic structure, like you said, of landing pages and all this kind of stuff. But in Japan, there's a completely different way of presenting information and again, using that kind of high context structure of give as much information as possible, be as clear and transparent as possible. Whereas, not to speak ill of our colleagues in marketing, but that's a lot of crap and marketing spiel that ends up on landing pages a lot of the time that is essentially irrelevant and not giving much context whatsoever, but people love to stuff in those we are the best, and it's the greatest and all this kind of stuff, but that doesn't tell me what the product is. There's a kind of phrase always lean back on a flight. If I can't tell what your business does just by looking at the initial viewport of your homepage, that's not a good start. That's not a good homepage.

Sarah: Oh, my gosh. I've seen so many websites like that as well where you kind of go on and they metaphorically describe kind of we help you do whatever in whatever way.

Jack: We provide-

Sarah: And you're just like, "What do you actually do?"

Jack: We provide bespoke solutions to businesses. Solutions to what? Bespoke in what way?

Sarah: Exactly.

Jack: For what kind of businesses? Is it a digital product? Is it analogue product? Are you providing rental cars? What is going on?

Sarah: Exactly, exactly. And it's really hard to know what they do, and then I don't know, at least consumers are just like, "Right, bye."

Jack: And I think that's really key, even outside of thinking about paid ads and advertising in general outside of digital marketing, having ad copy that clearly gets across your message is so important. And I know there were a couple of examples you gave in your talk that I really, really loved. Using the white and orange colors in Ireland can be pretty controversial from a political standpoint. And I wouldn't bat an eyelid from here in England thinking, "Oh, yeah. Orange JustEat, white doesn't make a difference to me."

Sarah: Well, yeah. In Northern Ireland, you can cause offence by using the different colours, green and orange and it seems so innocent, doesn't it? Just like in the little Orange logo and then you go into the expanded to a different country and you met all of this backlash. It's just a bit like, "Right, you should have done your cultural research." And like as well with orange, the future's bright, the future's orange. That sounds like absolutely completely normal to a non-Northern Irish ear. But then when you go up the Northern, everyone... And then you hear that, it causes lots and lots of issues because not everybody agrees that the future's orange. And yeah, it's still... I think it was done in Cardiff the late '90s and it's still a joke today and people still use that as a slogan.

Jack: By the way, the company doesn't exist anymore. They were bought out by another... They were absorbed by EE, the other phone company. So even Orange, not existing anymore. As far as I know here in the UK there's still the joke going on in Northern Ireland all these years later because you see all those kind of posts on Twitter and LinkedIn and stuff like hilarious ads campaigns or hilarious signs that look like other things or completely mistranslated, whatever. I remember there was one I remember from... I think it was a book I had about poorly translated marketing slogans or something like that. And "Finger-lickin' good" in KFC translates to "Eat your fingers off" when they put it through simplified Mandarin translation for Chinese audiences. And it's like, "Yeah, don't just Google Translate that stuff, that matters." And all the nuance there of finger-licking turns into eat fingers, and it's like, "Yeah, that doesn't..." Yeah, that's not the message you want to convey.

Sarah: There's so many of them though. And it's quite funny because for example... But in the Czech Republic, for example, Renault seems pretty innocent. There's that little... I can't remember the name of that shape. It's like a little diamond shape for that slogan.

Jack: That rhombus kind of thing?

Sarah: Yeah. In the Czech Republic, that's how people draw vaginas.

Jack: I mean, that's yonic in a way. That's expressing-

Sarah: So everybody laughs at Renault because they're like the vagina car.

Jack: Is there a nickname in the Czech Republic for the vagina cars?

Sarah: I don't think there is, which is a shame, but everybody knows when they look at that. So if you see rhombuses everywhere on graffiti, that's a reason why we're not just a country of Renault lovers.

Jack: Yeah. Again, it's simple things like that. That is a perfect example of where translation is not the issue there. It's understanding the context of that country, that language, that culture. Because a shape is a shape, it seems incredibly innocent like a square is a square or a triangle is a triangle. It's like, "Well, no actually. A triangle represents this thing," or a rhombus in this case represents something that some people might find very offensive but would be completely innocent in another country, and you wouldn't even think of it. And so much money and so much effort goes into designing all these big corporate logos and thinking, "Oh, it's got to work this way, work this way." Nobody asked anyone from the Czech Republic.

Sarah: No, and it's like... I don't know if you've seen the new Kia cars as well. If you look at the Google trends or the search data, people don't know how to write the name of Kia anymore because they can't read it off the logo.

Jack: Didn't the search for KN cars completely-

Sarah: Right, exactly.

Jack: ... spiked as soon as they change the logo.

Sarah: Yeah. You just need to ask people on the ground if they can do it because it's very easy for me if I and Kia or something to say, "Oh, yeah. I completely understand us. I think it looks great." And then you go and see people on the ground, and they're like...

Jack: I think like we saying, we get our heads so into our own campaigns and we're so kind of focused on our own task. Sometimes you need to step away and see the bigger picture and understand even outside of international audiences, how could that be represented to different communities within your home country, for example. There's so many different cultures represented and as we grow more and more diverse in the western world and things like that, we're gaining more and more cultural influence from other places. And you've got to understand that makes a huge difference, especially in certain parts of the world and certain parts of countries. If you're marketing a particular area in the UK, you know that there might be a larger community of a particular nationality, so you need to understand. Yeah, that's probably something we need to factor in here. We can't just be blasé about the whole thing.

Sarah: Oh, yeah, as well. And to be honest, it's not just about being polite, but it is... I don't want to come across I'm sounding like marketing to ethnic minorities. It's just a way to make money. But it is a really good way of improving brand loyalty, for example, because I say one of the examples I gave. If you sold doughnuts or sent doughnuts to clients, who say had punished people working for them on Fat Thursday, they'd love your brands ever. And even in discos, you can do a happy little Fat Thursday sign or something or have a sale, buy four doughnuts, get one free or something. People would remember you people would come back. Whereas right now, what you're seeing, I think, again, this is another example I gave. You have the smoky bacon flavor, Ramadan Pringles, and you're just like, "Ouch."

Jack: Yeah. I did love that in your talk where you were kind of going through some examples and people are like, "Okay, yeah. I get this." And then smoky bacon, Eid Mubarak and everybody went, "Oh." I got an audible gasp from the audience.

Sarah: Yeah. It doesn't just happen for ethnic minorities as well, I've seen some absolutely cringey marketing campaigns geared up for, I don't know, neurodivergent people or disabled people. And it just looks so cringey, so kind of babyish and you're thinking, "Why didn't you just ask someone from that community? Is this okay? Is this acceptable," before you went out with it because you just want to sit there and facepalm all day.

Jack: Yeah. This is something I talked about when I had Chloe Smith on the show a few months ago, and they were talking about how there's different layers of representation. You think, "Oh, yeah. We put a one person of colour in our billboard and that covers everybody, problem solved. We have four white people and one person of colour that they represent people of colour as a whole." It's like, "Hold on a minute." They don't represent Asian people and African people and all the other different diverse ranges of races and ethnicities around the world, but people fall into that kind of almost like tokenism representation, right? You're totally right. You don't want to be the, "Oh, we're marketing. We see an opportunity to market to the African American community, so let's just market to them to make more money." You kind of need to do your research and I think that's going to be one of the big key takeaways from this episode. Do your research.

Sarah: Do your research, speak to people in those communities because, for example, if you ask me to create something meaningful, say, geared up to African Americans, I'm not qualified to do that. I don't have enough experience. I don't have any lived experience. Yeah, I can write nice stuff but I can't make it resonate.

Jack: When I was talking to Jamar Ramos as well, he was talking about how just preparing for an interview as a person of color in America, as an African American has three, four, five, 10 more steps than me just being English-speaking Jack like, "Hello, I'm a British white guy, here I am." And he is like, "Yeah, I have to go through this process. I know I have to work that much harder as a person of color. I need to push myself and really put myself out there, otherwise I don't get any chances at all. People are just go completely not represented at all." And-

Sarah: Oh yeah, completely. I mean, it's the same with being neurodivergent as well. You have to put so much thought into everything you do. Are they going to be angry that I don't do eye contact with somebody or are they going to find my communication style too direct? And then you have to make sure that you're thinking it the whole time through, and it's exhausting.

Jack: So how can us, as marketers, get a better understanding of how to understand those cultures? Where, where's a good place to start with research? Is it literally just speaking to people from those communities, finding people who are willing to talk to you from those communities?

Sarah: Yeah, I would say so, but also remember to speak to more than one person as well because one person's lived experience about say, I don't know, life in Poland could be very different to say somebody else. Imagine if someone lived in the city or lived in the country or from an upper-class background, another like a lower-class background. Everything kind of shapes what people do, how they behave, what motivates them. And if you're just taking it from one person who might be biased, you never know. If you're just finding some random one to talk to you, which I hope people wouldn't, but you never know. Do your research, actually do proper market research, find out from at least a good sample of people from different backgrounds inside that country, what they like, what's offensive to them. And also as well make that research relevant to the brand that you're doing and ask them, "Does this brand name sound silly to you?" Because the number of times, I've found some brand names, and I've laughed at them. And I've just been like, "This sounds really mad."

Jack: I think that's key, right? Having different representations from different communities and not, again, something I talked about with Jamar, having the weight of an entire group of people planted on the shoulders of one. Okay, Sarah, you are the neurodivergent person that represents all the entire different spectrum and different types of neurodivergence because you have one or two particular types, but no, you are speaking for the entire community across the world, no matter where they come from, what they look like, who they are, you are our one neurodivergent person we're going to get to represent. It's like that's a lot of pressure, not even including, as you said, biases that come in. Unconscious biases that we have inherently, as much as I like to think people like us try to be as understanding and representative and all that kind of stuff, you come with unconscious bias whether you like it or not, that is an inherent part of your life in your upbringing.

Sarah: It's so true. I was doing a masterclass recently on kind of international SEO, and I held a session on China and Chinese marketing is completely on a completely different level. It's what we've got in Europe is so much more modern. Everything's so much more on technological, so much more interactive. And at the end of the session going through it, they were like, "Well, I thought China was the place that did cheap goods." It's like-

Jack: Yeah, everything has “Made in China” on the back, right?

Sarah: No. If you listen to the whole thing, you would've seen actually China's a really big market with lots of potential.

Jack: And a sixth of the world's population.

Sarah: Exactly. And you love luxury goods, not buying the cheapest thing that you can get.

Jack: That's another thing that comes into it, right? You mentioned earlier, upbringing in class is such an important part, even within communities or within a particular country you're looking at. Getting one representation of, "Oh, here is three Chinese people, but they're all from the same background or similar backgrounds," actually understanding... And I think that's a huge factor here in England because so many people see like, "Oh, there's..." Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of racism here in the UK, but there is a lot of classism as well. And our structures and our politics are so defined by class still now in 2023, which seems mad. It seems like some weird Victorian thing that you would've hoped England would've evolved past by now. But no, we're still here, fortunately.

And having working-class people, upper-class people, middle-class people, and all the variations in between, understanding how, like you said, some of them want luxury goods. Some of them even in lower classes want to buy higher products because they value them in a particular way, or they're willing to spend money in a different way compared to other people. I can't remember when I speak... I think I was speaking to, back when I worked at an international language school before I came here to Candour, and I was talking to a German colleague of mine and they were saying, "Oh, never use the word cheap with German people. We are willing to pay, essentially. If we see something as cheap, we think it's going to be rubbish, and it'll break in two weeks." If we want to buy a course, because we were selling English language courses, I was working at school. If you see a hundred pounds for three weeks, they're like, "That's way too cheap. Don't do that." You need to make sure you've got that kind of sweet spot of branding, marketing, pricing, all that kind of stuff. And understand, you actually can afford to up your prices because that actually kind of conveys quality a bit more in a different way, and that will change from country to country. Even moving over to another German-speaking country like Austria or German speakers in Switzerland, that dynamic changed very quickly. And that was kind of my introduction to, "Oh, just because you all speak German doesn't mean you all have even similar sensibilities, let alone the same sensibilities."

Sarah: Oh, exactly. And I mean, the Czech Republic is next to you. Germany used to be part of Austria, Hungary, and we love cheap stuff. All of the keywords are literally cheap this, cheap that. I mean, it doesn't mean that people want cheap and nasty. They want quality that's cheap, but they want to feel like they're getting a good deal. So if you take a look at stuff, you actually have to market it as a good deal. I mean, these are the kind of people that look through leaflets once a week to see where the button's cheapest. And they'll drive around the town into all of these different shops and getting, for example, the milk in Lidl's, the butter in Kaufland, the eggs in Tesco just because it's like one P off in the sale or something like that. You spend more on petrol going around to doing that. But no, it's kind of I want a good deal, and people won't buy from a brand. Whenever I buy washing detergent or stuff, I buy whichever one's in the cell. I don't care if it's Ariel or Persil or whatever, whichever one has 50% off, they'll buy it.

Jack: I think that's a huge factor there as well where you mentioned keywords there as well. I guess what is the kind of best way to get an understanding of those keywords? Is it simply using the big tools you already know Semrush, Hrefs, all that kind of stuff, and using those kind of keyword research tools we are already familiar with or are there specific techniques and ways of identifying that kind of thing?

Sarah: Yeah, so stick with the kind of big tools. I do find that Semrush kind of is one of the better tools for international SEO because well, most tools do, for example, German, Spanish, French, all are the main languages really well. I like to test them with Czech because it's such a tiny market. It's a bit of not the most popular language in the world for international SEO, let's be honest. But the results that you get from certain tools are absolutely shocking. You can't get any results. You can't find anything out. They just don't work. So you need to make sure that you test that tool beforehand to make sure that it actually works for those languages. Because if for example, you are using one of the tools that doesn't work for Czech, you're doing Czech, and then you're like, "Oh, there's no keywords." When actually, there are. So you need to be careful with that. And then as well, don't translate your keywords from one language to another because as we've already talked about, the culture's different. They're going to have different holidays. There's going to be things that are relevant, things that aren't. One example that I always use is the keywords Valentine's Day gifts or kind of baby shower gifts. In Ireland, in the UK, in the US, yes, you'll have a baby shower, something completely normal. In Czech, you don't. And Czech people don't really do Valentine's Day all that much, but they have things called name days. So all of the gifty keywords should be good around name days, so you have to adapt it. You have to have your landing pages without name day presents rather than baby shower stuff to actually get people to come to your website and do bits. And then if you're doing kind of long-form content as well, one company that I worked for, for example, did pest stuff. So it was all kind of how to stop foxes going in your garden and how to stop them digging up your grass and that kind of thing. But in the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries, foxes live in forests. They don't come in your house. They're not the biggest pest for us, the biggest pests are moles. So if I was going on the landing page to look for how to get rid of the pests, I'd be looking for how to deal with weasels, how to deal with moles. So translating all of that content from English about foxes is just completely irrelevant as a waste of money. No one's going to look at it and no one's going to come to your website. Fun touch, but it's true.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. I love the example of baby shower because I feel like that is when you really break it down into two words, good Lord, that can get misconstrued very quickly, that turns into child bath and all kinds of weird stuff like child wash. You're like, "Why am I getting gifts for child washing? What is going on here?" And so quickly, just a simple translation-

Sarah: I'm so wrong.

Jack: Right? Exactly. And something as innocent, it's like, "Yeah, it's a baby shower, of course. What? Baby shower is baby shower." Perfectly innocent, perfectly reasonable thing for an e-commerce business to target that kind of thing. And then you very quickly get away, like you said there, that sounds a bit weird, that sounds borderline inappropriate. You then lose your representation of your brand of they were that weird company that said that really inappropriate thing about kids that one time not keen on that.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. There was an example that I heard about as well, again in China that somebody ordered a human translation for their slogan, but the translator wasn't based in country and didn't realize that the name of the slogan or when you translated it into Chinese was the name of a terrorist group. So that campaign got banned pretty easily. So they brought this money into it, it got banned. And if you actually ask someone in country or somebody who understands the culture a little bit more, they would've told you before you went in and invested in all of this, actually don't do that.

Jack: Wow. Yeah. That's something you can really stumble into by accident I think.

Sarah: Oh, yeah.

Jack: So even, like I said, outside of digital marketing and SEO and stuff like that, I think culture really ties into so much of a business as well. Because again, from my experience working in international language students and working with agents in different international schools and stuff like that, I did some business trips to Japan and the example you give in your talk about business cards in Japan and the etiquette behind that is so key to that first impression. And I think first impression is another thing that we're covering a lot here. That initial impression, whether it's face-to-face in a meeting or the billboard or your homepage, whatever it is, that first impression matters a lot.

Sarah: Well, yeah. It really, really, really does. And even post first impressions, if you're going to be interacting with people, if you have international teams and everything, you need to have that level of cultural understanding to understand why people are acting in certain ways when they're doing negotiations or in business meetings. I've managed international teams. And I've often had issues where somebody from one country would come and complain that the colleagues are really rude in the other country. And you have to speak to the colleagues in the other country and say, "Look, you can't tell them, 'Hey, tone it down a bit or anything.'" You can try and nicely explain kind of business etiquette for everybody that's kind of international and whatever, but you actually have to have some level of cultural understanding and go back to the team member who got offended and say, "Look, they do not mean it like this. They come from a culture that is more direct, don't take it personally because they're not being direct on you." And I've come into trouble with that a few times, forgetting to say thank you to somebody, no forgetting to say thank you when I got off the bus or something to the bus driver because I'm Czech.

Jack: I know. Americans have said the same thing to me coming over here to the UK like, "You said thank you to the bus driver, what are you doing?" I don't know, it is just ingrained in me to just say thanks so much as I get off the bus. That's a totally normal thing you do here in England, but yeah.

Sarah: I had it once that I was walking down the street, some guy bumped into me, he dropped his phone, and he punched me in the face because I didn't say sorry to him. And I was like, "You walked into me," but that was me not understanding that in his culture, I had to say sorry. I was a visitor in the country. I had to say sorry because he bumped into me that I didn't, so I was rude.

Jack: Wow. Yeah. And you said it can be the smallest things that make the biggest difference. And I think whether that's, as you said, managing international teams within your company or working with international companies, if you're working agency side and you're dealing with a lot of different nationalities and different cultures there. What are some of, I guess, the guidelines, the advice you'd give from your experience working in international teams and working with international companies for people who maybe don't have that experience yet, but are hoping to get that experience future in their career?

Sarah: So when it comes to managing or dealing with different people who come from lots of different countries is basically have a level of cultural understanding. Educate yourself in communication styles across the different countries where people actually work. So understand that, for example, say people in Latin America may come across as more friendly than say people from Slavic nations and also explain that to your team members because otherwise if you're not explaining that or passing that on, then you're going to have team members who were like, "Oh, my god. They're so rude. Oh, my gosh. Why are they too friendly? It's kind of scary." So you have to make sure that you're understanding because as a manager, if you'll go in and being like, "Right, you all have to communicate like me. And if you don't, it's wrong," and it's making you seem very close-minded and it's not really the best way of doing things. But when you're dealing with clients as well, you have to make sure because the client is keen all the time that you are communicating in a way that's suitable for the client. So you can't just be like, "Hey, Mr Client, you find me really rude, but I'm from a different country, so therefore you shouldn't expect it." You have to respect them.

Jack: I think respect is another key factor here as well and even... Like you said, rather than bludgeoning everyone to submission of write your rule. We're in this country, we're going to talk this way. You are working for this company that comes from this culture or this particular language or whatever it is. We all have to communicate in this specific way because as we said, even within the same country, even within the same language group and even within even smaller communities, you will get neurodivergent people, who communicate in different ways, and different types of neurodivergent people, who also communicate in different ways, and you have to understand. And there's something we've been talking about, the team here at Candour, we're understanding and educating ourselves and the senior members of the team are trying to understand some members of the team are neurodivergent. What does that mean? How do we communicate with them? Where are their skills best focused? What are their communication types? All this kind of stuff, and I find that stuff so interesting and so fascinating. And we did some training, for example, just before the end of last year where I think it was... There's like a colour scheme thing where you understand, "Oh, I'm like red, blue, green or yellow," and understand your different communication styles and how... Jack will take this very well, please do not communicate with him in this way if you're going to give criticism or feedback presented in this way and that kind of thing. And our trainer was talking about how some companies have that printed on the back of their chairs or they have a little kind of set of blocks or colour coding or whatever it is on their desks to ensure, "Okay, I know Sarah's the director, but when you speak to her, you should speak to her in this way, present data in this way, and don't give her crap, don't bullshit her. She wants facts, she wants information, give her lots of context, give her data and then go away." Or do you want to sit down and talk about it half an hour, go through all the different possibilities, all that different stuff. And that's just ignoring international stuff. This is the big difference between culture and international SEO, right? It's a part of it, but it's such a key part of just our day-to-day lives as well.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. It's so important. And you're going to make mistakes, but as long as you're willing to learn and as long as you're willing to understand, I think as long as you're open-minded or willing to put the effort in, it's a good thing. Celebrate all of that different diversity and all of the different ways of thinking because somebody, rather than shutting somebody down because they're like, "Oh, well, they think differently to me, that's not good." They might come up with a really, really good solution by thinking outside the box.

Jack: Yeah, that's a really good point as well, actually thinking about how, again, different cultures can actually relate to each other as well. There'll maybe some similarities. I mean, seemingly disparate people actually have a similarity because they are both minorities in their home country, and they have something in common there and they can build and understand and grow together that way. Have you experienced much resilience to much of this in your professional career of people saying, "No, I definitely want to communicate this way," or, "Oh, don't worry about that. We'll be fine," and then coming back to by a client or company in the future?

Sarah: Again, you might have to edit this one, but it's mainly the middle-aged white men or middle-aged white women.

Jack: I am not editing that one out. I will clip this out and put it on social media. I will do the opposite.

Sarah: Ethnic minorities are different from different marginalized groups are so used to having to be the ones who educate people about what they need and are constantly telling people, "We want things like this. Listen to us." And they're just like, "No, I'm fine. I'm finding it my way." And you're just like, "No." And that's when most of the discrimination comes from, and this lack of cultural understanding is when people decide that they're above it, they don't want to change, they don't want to adapt, they don't want to listen to different ways of doing things like, "Oh, well. I'm from..." I say, "No, I'm from a European country, so how can someone, I don't know, in the Middle East, tell me that I can do it a different better way when actually they probably could." It's just all of these biases, all of these prejudices, and yeah.

Jack: Hopefully, we're helping people to as a community, fingers crossed, I know there been some issues. But hopefully, we're moving in the right direction.

Sarah: I hope so. I mean, to be honest, I'm going to be speaking at BrightonSEO again in April, and I'm going to be talking about the psychology behind inclusivity and inclusive international SEO campaigns. And this links into it so much because it's like where do people get these ideas from in the first place? What makes them like this? Was it society? Was it nature? United nature versus nurture, that whole kind of thing, and there are loads of theories that kind of explain where all of this prejudice kind of comes from. But again, it doesn't seem like something that would link into SEO, but it does because you need to understand that to understand why some of these absolutely God-awful campaigns are getting approved and why people think that they're okay because I've seen so many of them, especially in neurodiversity stuff. And I've read the content and I was like, "You're speaking to us like, what? Animals." How did this ever make it onto the content calendar, get written, get approved, get published without anyone saying, "Hang on a minute, no"?

Jack: I think a lot of those bad examples, I always have that reaction like, "Who approved this? How did this..." It is often those big mega-corporations, we use Renault and KFC and big international companies, there must be layers and layers and layers of people and loops to jump through and all kinds of approval processes and QA and all that kind of stuff. And nobody thought maybe we should check if neurodivergent people are going to find this offensive and patronizing. Nah, we'll be fine.

Sarah: Yeah. Did you see the thing a few months back from KFC when they accidentally sent out a notification in Germany having a sale on Kristallnacht?

Jack: No.

Sarah: Like the Remembrance of the Holocaust that you should celebrate that with KFC.

Jack: Oh, God.

Sarah: And I think-

Jack: My toes just curled up.

Sarah: Yeah. I'm Jewish, and it made me feel physically sick. I was like, "What the hell are these people doing? Who approved it?" I know that they were like, "Oh, it was probably an AI calendar, just doing everything for every single day of the year," but really, does somebody not check them?

Jack: I mean, that ties into a big conversation that's been happening recently with AI content as well, right? Because speaking about lack of nuance and lack of understanding, robots are pretty good at that kind of stuff.

Sarah: Yeah, even what I've been doing, for example, the captions that you get. You say a word and it automatically assumes what the next word is going to be, and it's so prejudiced. And you look at it and just like, "No, people need to edit this stuff. People need to look at it," understand the culture behind it, to understand is this going to be offensive in one country or is it going to be offensive to listeners that you're talking about?

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. Even with AI art and stuff like that, you put in five people in a room, chances are those five people are going to be white people because it defaults people equals Caucasian. It's like, "Oh, God." Yeah. Do you remember humans built this, right? That we have biases already built into us and because we created these AI and these robots and things, they inherent our biases as well with, again, whether you like it or not, you can try and strip it out as much as you can with them. In a lot of studies around even policing systems and stuff like that, always default to crime is probably committed by more people of color. I'm like, "Do you have any statistics to back that?" No, that's what the robot said, so must be true like poop.

Sarah: Oh, don't-

Jack: Don't program that robot.

Sarah: Don't even get me started on stuff like that because lots of psychology is done by the white beard-y men in their 16, in their 18s. They only do their best work and stuff. And some of it is just so prejudiced. I was shocked when I first started studying psychology, and I went in there and I was like, "Oh, my God. It's going to be so open. There's going to be people who understand psychology," and then you realize that actually it's one of the worst amongst soldiers because you're like... These other people that are meant to understand it and do things right, and it's really not like that in real life. Yeah.

Jack: Yeah. I'm even tying into other things like levels of education. You mentioned they're like understanding psychology. The kind of people that write those academic papers are the people that are able to pay for that education, that have the access and the privilege to that kind of education.

Sarah: Oh yeah, exactly.

Jack: A bunch of rich, white dudes doing a bunch of research. Great.

Sarah: Yeah. I can't afford to put myself through PhDs and stuff. That's never going to happen. So loads of these different voices that need to be heard and not being heard because of financial reasons and even links into things like recruiting as well because like recruitment processes and using these personality tests, they have been proven. There's so much evidence that they discriminate against people are neurodivergent or have, say, mental health conditions or things like that. But yeah, there's so celebrated, and I see so many different posts in LinkedIn about, yay, the big five personality type, some things like that. And you're just like, "Oh, really?"

Jack: I think that is a very interesting place for us to wrap up.

Sarah: Oh, trust me. I'll be renting, if we carry on. Yeah.

Jack: Awesome. So Sarah, how come people find you across the internet? Of course, listeners, before I say this, links will be in the show notes as always, that's, but how can people follow you across social media?

Sarah: Okay, so basically LinkedIn is the best way to follow me. I'm one of these typical marketers that actually really haze being on social media in my free time. So I don't have Facebook, I don't have Instagram. I don't even like Twitter, so you won't find me there. But yeah, LinkedIn, best place.

Jack: Awesome, lovely. And of course, you said you'll be in BrightonSEO coming up in April.

Sarah: I will be.

Jack: So listeners out there, if you are attending BrightonSEO, please do go and see Sarah's talk. Come and say hi to Sarah and give her a little wave across the conference hall.

Sarah: I’m friendly really, I don't just sit there alone all the time.

Jack: Hopefully, I might be attending as well. It'd be nice to actually... I know we tried to meet up last time and we just couldn't work out schedules and things.

Sarah: I missed out on so many people there. Oh, my gosh. I looked out for you, and I just couldn't see anybody.

Jack: I know.

Sarah: Yeah, it was just like-

Jack: To be fair, I do fall into the geeky-looking white guy category that is 99% of SEO conferences, so I don't particularly stand out.

Sarah: Well, don't worry. I'm like that and nobody can see me in the crowds because I'm just there, the tiniest person.

Jack: Awesome. Well, hopefully, I will see you at BrightonSEO. Listeners, like I said, go and check out Sarah at BrightonSEO and check out her LinkedIn as well. Thank you so much for joining me, Sarah. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Sarah: Thank you for having me.

Jack: And that wraps us up for this week. Thank you so much for joining me. Sarah Presch, it was an absolute pleasure to talk to you, Sarah, about culture and how that relates to marketing and SEO. I hope you enjoyed the conversation listeners, I know I learned a lot and kind of, like I said, expanded my understanding in many ways and coming at it from my very small perspective. And hopefully, we've also educated you out there and kind of made you think about how culture can tie into your marketing campaigns both online and offline as well. I'll be back next week, of course, as always. I'm not sure whether there'll be a guest or a news episode yet, but we are working on the live streams coming up that we're partnering to do with SISTRIX, so please do stay tuned for that. But until then, thank you ever so much for listening and have a lovely week.