In our latest episode, on Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast, Mike, Managing Director of Napier, interviews Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications at SEMRush who shares how marketing professionals that don’t specialise in digital can make use of a tool such as SEMRush to improve their marketing campaigns.

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Transcript: Interview with Interview with Fernando Angulo – SEMRush

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Fernando Angulo

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Today, I’ve got Fernando Angulo, who is from SEMRush. Hi, Fernando, welcome to the podcast.

Fernando: Hi, thank you for having me here today.

Mike: That’s great. So tell me a little bit about SEMRush. You know, your product for SEO and paid search, I believe, can you just give me a bit of a background about what it does? And who you sell the product to?

Fernando: Oh, definitely. So if let me give you let me explain you with an example. So if someone is creating a webpage, and they want to have better results, so to be more visible on the SERPs on the on the results page of Google, they need to do a lot of inside work with their keywords with their topics. So they need to create content. And our platform is giving you all the inside information about what the best content is out there. What is the trending content? What are the best keywords that people who are matching your service and products were looking for similar stuff are searching right now. And of course, what your competitors are doing as well, in your city, country, or with the sample or in the same continents because we are working with more than 140 databases. So if you want to have more online visibility, you should use a tool.

There are different tools out there we are right now one of the tops, because we are not only working with the insights or with the analytics, but also with the with the tracking system that allows you to understand better how your keywords are working, how your online performance is working inside of your niche. And of course, if that’s the first perspective, when someone wants to open a or build a webpage, but if it’s a company, or if it’s a brand, they need to know how well they are performing on their, on their market on their industry. So we have another set of tools that are meant are meant for this company. So we have the traffic analytics tools, we have the market research tools, so they can see how many players are in their niche. So let’s say we are in the online streaming platform niche. And you have of course, the leaders of the market their Netflix, HBO, but there are another 4000 players who are working in this industry as well. So if you want to find out, what is your market share, you need to use online tools to do that. So for an A small or a bigger company, you will find the benefits for your online visibility with SEMRush.

Mike: Well, it’s interesting. I mean, I was particularly interested, you started off talking about content. I mean, a lot of the SEO tools, vendors start talking about a lot of technology, which many of our listeners, you know, really aren’t involved in. So do you see SEMrush as a tool for content creators as much as it is for SEO experts?

Fernando: Oh, yes, actually, we started at the beginning 11 years ago as an SEO platform SEO tool. So that was the classic process. But the industry is changing a lot. And basically, working with Google, especially they have made so many changes on their algorithm. So they’re doing all those changes on their algorithms. And all of them will, I will say 95% of them are related to content. So the quality of the content, relevancy of the content, the content is as foreign people needs, the content is the perfect match that people need. So everything is about content with Google. So that’s why three years ago, we started developing tools for creating content for analysing continent for its core content as well. And of course, if you want to if you have a request for content creation, we have also a marketplace for content. So basically, yes, we are a content platform.

Mike: Well, so you can actually go to SEMRush and get authors to generate SEO optimised content?

Fernando: That’s correct. Yes, we have this market, content marketing platform. So you just need to enter the keywords, we’re gonna do the research with the scoring. So we have two scoring. The first one is related to Google, how Google is processing all that information in terms of year, year he, in terms of architecture of the content. And the second scoring is for the people, of course, that is the readability scoring, that is currently measuring, how easy is that content that takes for the user to understand? And how, what is the tone of voice of that content? If it matches with the industry, you are? in the entertainment industry, you don’t need to use very formal language, you need to be more casual, or you are in the I don’t know education, online education industry you need were much in those parameters as well with the help of machine learning.

Mike: But that’s really cool. So you see this as a tool that lots of people within a marketing department could get benefit from?

Fernando: Oh, yes, definitely. If you are in, you know, in digital marketing, I believe that most of the people already heard about us. But if you haven’t heard about some us, give it a try, we have a free a free version. So you can just pick up the process that you’re working. So basically, when just when you if you want to start using an online platform, or SEMRush, you just need to enter a domain. It can be yours or better if it is the leader of your industry, to see all the insights that you can have from them. So you will, you will know how many keywords they have, how much budget they are spending on ads, how often they are creating ad campaigns, how big is their audience, if their audience is related to yours, and some so many other parameters. So if you want to start from there, that’s the very beginning. But if you want to go one step farther, you need to check how to create content based on the information that you have. On your industry. For example, you want to create a piece of content based off of the current situation of the let’s say Bitcoin, for a ranking with this topic. Let’s say in 2015, you need to you need to write a piece of content with about 800 800 words right now is that that changed a lot because you need to in order to rank for the topic, Bitcoin, you need to have at least 3000 Ward’s inside of your URL. So the number of words that you need to use there, the position of the words, all that matters. And of course, with an online platform that’s more easy to do.

Mike: Well, so it sounds like today. You know, people who are maybe PR specialists need to think a lot more about SEO. I mean, if I was creating PR content that got fed to the website, what steps would I go through to really, you know, understand how I should optimise it.

Fernando: Well, with that this perspective of a PR person, of course, needs to think about the SEO analysis, the keyword research analysis, but also they need to think about the trends. What is happening now and how people are reacting. What is the behaviour, the user behaviour during any situation or the situation that we are living these days? So for doing that, we have another tool that is called topic research. That is basically the opposite side of keyword research. When you’re doing a keyword research, you’re, you’re looking for metrics such as volume, cost per click. Difficulty how difficult to run that keyword. But when you’re looking for trends, you’re looking for questions how people are searching exactly what are the most trending topics? When you have a high level topic? Let’s say you want to write something about let’s return to cryptocurrency, right Bitcoin. So most of the people right now are talking about the stock markets, about their the rise of the price of oil. So everything related to Bitcoin will be in the mouth of the people and they’re going to be talking about that. So a PR expert, a PR professional needs to follow those trends in order to create a piece of content that people want to read. So that will be the perfect as much keyword research and then topic research to check how effective that piece of content is going to be.

Mike: So today, I mean, what we should be thinking about is not only how well we rank for a particular search, but whether people are actually doing that search. Is that is that what you’re saying?

Fernando: Oh, yes, definitely, actually is not aware. opinion is something that people from Google, were telling us the last three years when they introduced all the quality content algorithms. So they say, if you have relevant content that really matters to your audience, and as words, users, search queries, so you are, you’re a good content creator. But just today, the launch this new core update, and they were saying, so everything should be fine with you. But also, you need to have some research behind that content that you’re publishing. So I don’t know what is the meaning of that research forth. So I believe that if you want to talk about, I don’t know, bicycle, a mountain bicycles, you need to put there some additional information about the source of your content inspiration of the source of the where you how you got to this topic. So something related to that. Because it’s a recent update. Nobody knows how it works right now. But we are sure that if the content really answers people’s needs, that’s a good piece of content of content already.

Mike: I think one of the things that you know, a lot of people who are not specialists in in the search world wonder is how to guys like you actually understand what Google is doing. Because, as you say, they’ve introduced a new algorithm. They’ve been a little bit vague about it, how do you work out? You know, what’s your customer should be doing to make sure they rank towards the top with that content?

Fernando: Oh, yes. Well, first of all, it’s because we are kind of obsessed with marketing. And all the time, we are just hearing the alerts from our online platform selling, this is new, this is a new type of change in the first page of results. This is a new type of new type of snippet. And we are having a lot of conversations on Twitter, and inside of communities. So how do we know this about these changes, because most of them all know, just a few of them are official. Most of them are not official. And we’re just trying to figure it out how they change things. But for example, with the with the beginning of usage of voice, devices, voice assist assistance, I mean, the Google Home, Khomeini and then the nest, with the beginning of their incorporation to people’s lives, we saw that most of the changes in Google have has increased in terms of, there are a lot of answers to questions, there are a lot of snippets that are really, really big. So in terms of advertisement, when you see a Google out there, you see they’re just a tree, one phrase, the URL, and the and the message from that. So it’s very clear. But for the feature snippets, for example, if you type on Google, how to boil an egg, or how to open a bank account, or restaurant near me, you will receive beautiful results there that Google is creating specific, specifically for each industry.

So if you are in the real estate, industry, or in the insurance, or banking, or financial, FinTech, whatever the industry’s goal is prepared really interesting results for all of them. Why? Because they want to have more and more users staying and engage engaging with those results. So just an example. I do this, in every single conference that I participate. If you type on Google, how to open a bank account you will receive at the beginning. A list of steps from a bank usually is the central bank of the country or is the most important or is the most important insurance company. If you don’t have that type of result. That means that first the banks in your in your city or in your country are not doing a good job and you don’t have competition. They’re in between With bandwidth, which is crazy. But if you have a beautiful result, that’s the feature is neighbored, you will understand because there you can see the logo of the bank, the image of the bank, the story of the bank, the knowledge graph, you will see the step by step process how to open a bank account. So basically, for right now in the United States, there are about 80 85% of questions that they are ready to receive featured snippet. So Google was going to that direction till this year. They were changing their status from search and giant to the answer in giant, right, now they are going to another direction, and then they made it officially last year, when they say that, okay, we, we want to go from the aspirin giant to the get it getting fixed done. And john, so they want to apply more, actually more, they activate More Actions inside of their search engine. And that’s basically the things that you can do with your voice assistant, which is an incredible thing for for the future of digital marketing, of course.

Mike: So with Google changing, you know, to rather mean search to being an answer engine, and then getting things done engine. How does that change what content people need to create presuming that that has quite a big impact?

Fernando: Oh, yes. Well, when you are creating a piece of content, you need to be sure that all the question keywords that are out there, related to your product or service are answered, for example, first, first question that you need to have when you’re creating a content that is meant to be for answering people question is, of course it, what is the name of your brand? Then where is and of course, if you have a specific location as the name of your brand, and the last one will be will be how to use and then your products. So you need to check if we those three questions, the content that you’re producing. As a result, it matched a feature snippet, because those features are free to earn. But you need to have the right format for all of them for the question or keyword. What is, for example, what is SEMrush? Right, we have this feature snippet. And in order to be in that featured snippet, you need to use a certain amount of words, which is basically 46 words 156 characters. So you need to have what is SEMrush. And after that hare, you need to use the 146 56 characters. explaining why does SEMrush only with that amount of words with the with the next one. Where is it basically, your address phone number. And having activated the location mark, of course with the address if you can have that that as well. And for the how to use this case how to use your service or your product, or in my case how to use SEMRush, you need to have at least with a minimum of eight items. So eight steps, how to use assembler. So step one, you need to open your browser, step two, you need to enter whatever whatever are the steps for this process. So if you have those three is with a featured snippet, you have already won something really interesting, first of all those features snippet. And second is the voice search result. Because when you have a feature snippet, you also have a voice search result. So if you are using any device with any Android device, actually Siri is using some of Google’s data as well.

You will have two type of results. First one is going to be the results on the first page. The second one is the result on a voice search device. So start resolving questions related to your own business. Second step there will be this one is going to be is going to be creating content that people from your industry. People from your niche are asking to similar business as yours. For example, you know, I believe every single business owner, they have the least of the most common as worded questions. So that is a good piece of content to create even better content to receive several features, snippets, or people or other people on people also crystals, which is another great type of result that Google is software. So if you can create based on those pieces of content as frequently asked questions, you can have really, really understandable piece of content that Google is going to reward you with featured snippets.

Mike: That’s fascinating. It’s it seems like, you know, now you’re talking about SEO, from the point of view of what customers are going to ask rather than looking for high volume keywords it has SEO changed in that way?

Fernando: Oh, yes, definitely. And, and a lot, actually, when I was in India, at the beginning of this year, I saw that many financial institutions there, they were just creating awareness through these features, snippets. So their main objective was not to get traffic to their website. So they were not taking a look into the ranks were the first second position, but they were working a lot in terms of brand awareness, having an earning working for earning featured snippets. So if you have already that resolved, place on the first page of Google, actually, some people, some specialists called that so the zero result is the zero position, or the ranking zero, because that is not the first that’s not the second that this zero, and then you have the organic results. So most of them are working to having that result created just the format. So as I mentioned, the paragraph with 156 characters, or 46 words, they eight items in the list. Actually, I saw some banks working only with lists, so they have around four for one bank so that they had more than 5000 features, neighbours, because they were implementing that change that Google offered for basically everyone the last during the last three years.

Mike: That’s that that’s really interesting. I mean, that that’s absolutely very different to just trying to rank top for high volume keywords. And just to move on a bit, I mean, SEMRush offers a lot of features. So as well as SEO support, you also support paid search. So AdWords, I guess people are still calling it. And from your point of view, when should people use paid instead of trying to use search engine optimization to get to the top?

Fernando: Well, I will say, as a person who creates a different ad campaigns, for different industry, it depends on the needs, that you’re that you’re looking, for example, in time of crisis, I believe that more most of the people that are desperate to get more closer deals, so they want to have more leads to sell. And of course, if you are not in that situation, and you can you have some budget, you can allocate some of the budget that you have for expanding more in terms of organic search, which needs more time to have results. So I will say it depends on the situation that you are for the first type of people that are in the crisis situation, they don’t have that they really need to have more leads, of course, this is the same strategy going for ads, so creating ads, no matter if it’s Google of their social ads, they need to have I will say and especially is working well with that because you can burn a lot of money, this situation people are trying to do it themselves. And they need of course, to categorise the audience, they need to launch at the very specific timing with the very specific timing, they need to have a certain type of knowledge I will say I will say a high level of knowledge in order to not burn a lot of money. But if you are in the second position that you have some free budget some well some provide you to growth I will go 100% to search to trust you. Why is that because when this situation with the with the virus started, I remember many companies that they were doing only ads saying that Oh my God, we should invest more on SEO for this for this situation because they were cut cutting the ads budgets because they couldn’t open the doors, so they cannot engage with the people. And if you have an SEO strategy, so people are just gonna be coming to your website, organically, so you don’t need to invest that. So it’s like your, your, your magazine, your office is still open, but you’re not paying for visitor, so you’re still receiving that traffic. So, again, it depends on the situation.

Mike: It sounds like you’re saying, you know what one of the benefits of paying for traffic, or paying for ads is that you can turn them on, and they start having an impact straightaway. Whereas it takes time to build up the SEO. But on the other side, obviously, when you turn the ads off, the impact disappears immediately. Whereas SEO has a much longer-term effect. Is that, have I understood that right? Absolutely.

Fernando: Yes, that’s a way you are, you’re investing on really fast and quick results, or you’re investing on long term long term. So both of them are of course, acceptable, but long term, it will affect you in a lot during the long term, of course.

Mike: And then I hear some people talking about paying for ads, because they don’t feel they can get to the top of a particular search page. I mean, for example, it could be something where a lot of you know, publications and Wikipedia, because more generic term. Or it could even be competitors. brands that they want to rank on when they buy ads, is that a good strategy?

Fernando: Well, actually, when you are skipping, doing the research, for the SEO keywords, such as the ones who are who has the highest Keyword Difficulty, let’s say 9596, the Keyword Difficulty goes from one to 100. So 995 98, like impossible to, to rank for. So for those specific queries, you need to go. And this is my suggestion here, you need to go for the longtail keyword, which are basically made from questions. I will go for different variation of questions and related searches. But definitely with different variations of questions, you can go higher than expected. Actually, there are a lot of longtail keywords that are higher for some general questions for some general queries. And in the case that you want to have more online visibility, you can have, of course your budget allocated for us, but it’s a better tactic to have that result on people also asked or on a feature snippet. And I really love this kind of results. Let me explain you why. Firstly, there are two type of results. The first one is the featured snippet and then the people twice, which are related questions, right. So for the first one, in order to rank for for a featured snippet, you need to rank at least in the top 10 with the top think keywords. So in the first page of Google, which is also really difficult, but with the second result, that are always together with a feature snippet, so you have the feature snippet. And below that result you have the people also ask, which are also in the first place are also SERP feature, which is that position zero, in order to rank for people also ask, you don’t need to be in the first page of Google, in the second page of Google are not even in the 10th page of Google. So you need just to have the right format to be there. So you can have rank, very easy, very easy. Wikipedia, having the password for that search query. And earning that people also are people also as a result, that’s something that it goes really fast when Google is sending in indexing The result is it can take from one to three hours to have that result, which is pretty much amazing.

Mike: Well, I mean, you’ve listed a whole load of interesting, you know, tips and tricks throughout this into how do people get up to speed on SEO, particularly if they’re not, you know, 100% focused on that market perhaps or in content generation SEMRush offer any training or any other information?

Fernando: Yes, actually, online education is one of our major goals during the last couple of couple of years, and we created an academy related not only for under the best the better understanding of our product or services, but for a better understanding about general digital processes and strategy. So we have the SEO, fundamental courses, we have the technical courses in our academy, which is And all of them are free for everybody, you don’t need to have a paid account on SEMRush to use it. And of course, we are offering certifications as well that you can include on your LinkedIn profiles, and the teachers that the professors that are there are industry professionals with high level of recognition.

Mike: Brilliant. And if people are interested to actually, you know, try the tour, I think you mentioned there’s a free version. How would people try SEMRush? And then what would it cost if they want to make use of all the features?

Fernando: Sure, when, when you start opening the domain, similar to the clone, you will see there are a search bar, usually you do on Google, you can start from there. And you will have the free version, which is basically 10 search queries, and 1010 queries that you can do with different domains. But if you want to go in deep with the whole potential that we are offering, you’re going to start with $99 with the pro version, then with the medium level, which is 199. And if you are a net marketing agency with more than 50 or 100 clients, you can have the business version with 399.

Mike: But for someone who’s, you know, perhaps a PR professional who just wants to improve the optimization of some of their content, the $99 version would work for them with it?

Fernando: Oh, yes, definitely a piece of when they are working with the content marketing tools. So working with a piece of content, they can do it every day, they can work with several tools to do that. Actually, with every single package that we have, you can have access to all of the tools, except for the corporate ones, which are only a couple of them, called the competitive intelligence tools, which are traffic analytics and market share. But with the rest of the tools with the 44 other tools. Everybody has access to that and appeared especially has the access in every single package to all the tools.

Mike: That’s fantastic. That sounds pretty good. And with free training as well, it sounds great. I know we’ll all be rushing off to start changing our about us pages and optimise for the feature snippets. And but before we do that, is there any way people can get in contact with you if they’ve got other questions? Or would like to know more about SEMRush?

Fernando: Sure, definitely. You can contact me through my LinkedIn page. Fernando Angulo  there, I believe I’m the only Angulo they’re pretty good, or my email is You can write me there or just enter to and find one of the webinars. I’m also one of the professors in the in the course. So I believe you will find a way.

Mike: Thank you very much. It was a lot of great information for us. And I’m sure we’ll all be going looking at our websites and trying to take advantage of those tips. Thank you for appearing on the podcast.

Fernando: Thank you, thank you all. Have a great day.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit or contact me directly on LinkedIn.