George Photios is the Co-Founder and Director of Sydney-based G Squared, an award-winning design and development agency that integrates paid media and SEO to drive real business results. They also run a 24/7 social media monitoring service. A WordPress experience agency, their clients include Gumtree, Meriton Suites and P&G.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, George Photios shares his thoughts on e-commerce, brands, SEO and user-centric design.
Through the Funnel
In order to engage a customer that’s at the top of the sales funnel, G Squared focuses on both paid and organic channels and the specific roles that each of those play. They also look at driving awareness from a paid perspective throughout the entire lifecycle.
“We look at how they’ve engaged with that content to determine the relevant user journey and how they’ll then progress through the funnel,” Photios says. “We can introduce them to the brand through content and storytelling.”
Creating and optimizing content for all stages of the sales funnel is instrumental in creating a successful marketing strategy. What once was a relatively straightforward sales funnel has become more fluid as consumers enter, exit and re-enter at various points. Ultimately the goal is to position the brand as the authority in that space.
Search & Content
A large component of user-centric design in SEO, and how it continues to advance, is personalization and connection. “You want to have content on your website that engages users,” Photios says.
The way a person feels about your brand manifests itself in the user experience, buyer journey and consumer loyalty. The need to humanize your brand is key in engaging your audience on that emotional level, and web design plays a huge role in doing just that.
For example, human-centric design would include intuitive page layout and ease of navigation; engaging content and messaging; and effective conversion techniques or calls to action.
I’m With the Brand
G Squared partnered with Nick Scali, one of the top furniture brands and importers in Australia, to essentially digitize its storefront. They needed to develop the brand’s e-commerce presence to ease the transition between the physical showroom, where customers typically want to purchase big-ticket or high-end items, and an online store.
“If they came in through a generic search term like sofa, we look at retargeting through paid social, as well as some retargeting of ads in paid search, to ensure that the user remained within the ecosystem,” says Photios, adding that the role of paid search in driving online sales was the biggest factor.
The solution was the creation of an e-commerce path to purchase, such as a phone call or another type of conversion, which might not even necessarily be an e-commerce transaction.
“The focus of paid search was about finding generic keywords, things like sofa or lounge or dining room tables,” Photios says. “Branded search played the the largest role in terms of bringing traffic into the website. We wanted organic search to to capitalize on that.”
An estimated 20% of traffic to a website comes from either paid search or paid social. Fifteen percent of that traffic comes from search and 5% comes from social. However, those numbers shouldn’t be dismissed. “Even with only 20% of traffic, it can be really relevant and high-quality traffic converts at a much higher rate,” says Photios.
There are a number of different ways for brands to use paid social and advertising across channels, whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram, depending on your target audience.
AI & SEO
The impact of AI on the future of search is still a relatively new phenomenon. However, tools and chatbots such as ChatGPT will most likely affect content and SEO in identifying, or failing to identify, “real” content.
“One thing that I think is going to become a big factor in search is search engines being able to detect content that’s written by ChatGPT and other tools like that, and content that’s written by people,” Photios says. “Naturally it’s going to penalize websites that overuse AI-written content.”
AI tools are only trained on resources up until a specified period of time, and the information can be outdated since they aren’t capable of critical analysis. AI-created content can lack the creativity and vocabulary of a human writer.
“Content needs to be read by a human,” Photios says. “It needs to then play a role in converting the user, or nurturing the user and then converting the user.”
According to Photios, there are three main factors in SEO results: content; the technical condition of your website; and link profile. Obviously the user experience is a big part of SEO and Google rankings and metrics have a broader impact than just conversions.
One of the more recent changes to the Google ranking algorithm was the page experience update which placed greater importance on a satisfactory user experience.
“I think the most important thing is to engage a good SEO agency and invest in SEO,” Photios advises. “It’s like with anything. You know you’re going to get what you pay for.”
Future of Websites
Some have predicted that websites will eventually become obsolete, expecially in light of apps and now AI. In order to remain relevant, web design and development will need to adapt.
“Websites need to be personalized, they need to be relevant to the user,” Photios says. “Personalization has many different forms.”
Photios cites persona landing pages as a strong example of effective personalization. G Squared created dynamic landing pages for the online marketplace, Gumtree, which connects buyers and sellers across hundreds of categories such as Home & Garden or Pets.