SEO Podcast #65: Ex-Googler Reveals The Truth About Search Quality & Predicts The Future Of SEO #65

Episode #65 of the SEO Podcast by #SEOSLY features Pedro Dias, an ex-Googler turned independent SEO consultant. Pedro shared so many insightful perspectives on SEO and search quality.

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Interview with Pedro Dias

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You can listen to episode #65 of the SEO Podcast by #SEOSLY below.

Interview notes

I had the honor of interviewing Pedro Dias, an ex-Googler turned independent SEO consultant, on my podcast. Pedro shared so many insightful perspectives on SEO and search quality.

Background on Pedro Dias:

  • Started out studying web design and working in advertising agencies before joining Google in 2006
  • Was hired by Google’s Ireland office to work on the Portuguese language market
  • Went through a 5-6 stage interview process focused on practical web development knowledge and mindset fit
  • Began as a contractor doing search quality evaluation and then converted to full-time employee in 2007
  • Helped build internal tools for detecting spam and policy violations within search results
  • Led search quality efforts for Portuguese language market, identifying issues and trends
  • Left Google in 2011 and co-founded an SEO agency in Brazil with other ex-Googlers
  • Agency grew to 70-80 employees working with major brands and ad agencies
  • Shifted focus to independent consulting, working within client product teams rather than marketing
  • Recently moved to London in 2020 and started new solo consulting business
  • Current clients include eBay, MercadoLibre, publishers in the UK

Key Quote:

“Your brain is more important than the tool.”

Pedro Dias

Perspectives on Search Quality:

  • Quality is subjective and dynamic, based on user expectations rather than dictated by Google
  • As expectations evolve, what was once high quality content may degrade over time
  • Google assesses quality via user behavior changes to algorithm tweaks
  • English language results often higher quality given more usage volume and scrutiny
  • Search quality team started by testing changes with English results first
  • Then collaborated with analysts fluent in other languages to understand local market issues
  • Had to balance removing low quality results with potential tradeoffs of few alternatives
  • Tough to dictate hard rules when violations didn’t fit neatly into existing guidelines
  • Group of analysts would meet to decide right course of action in these gray areas

Thoughts on Web Accessibility:

  • Many SEO best practices originally came from web accessibility guidelines
  • Alt text on images, semantic HTML headings, keyboard navigation all tie to accessibility
  • Critical to experience site through screen readers and keyboard, not just visually
  • Tools like Lighthouse help audit accessibility, but insufficient on their own
  • Need to study broader accessibility principles and design inclusively
  • Apply SEO on top of solid accessible foundation

Perspectives on UX and SEO:

  • User experience includes information architecture, accessibility, usability
  • Plan logical IA early on – helps avoid constant site migrations later
  • Organize IA based on business vertical, audience, product complexity
  • Don’t overcomplicate IA on large sites or keep too simple on niche sites
  • Use sitemaps, subfolders vs subfolders based on UX purpose
  • Apply SEO expertise on top of UX best practices, not the other way around
  • Know real user needs before chasing SEO tactics
  • Breadcrumbs useful for IA but ensure they fit appropriate context

Thoughts on the Future of SEO:

  • AI will augment technical SEO work but not replace strategy
  • Leverage AI for assistance with data queries, analysis, etc.
  • But human insight still required to determine goals and approach
  • Don’t let tools drive strategy – they don’t understand nuances
  • SEO expertise will still be vital even as AI capabilities improve

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Want to become a guest or provide ideas for the show?

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Olga Zarr is an SEO consultant with 10+ years of experience. She has been doing SEO for both the biggest brands in the world and small businesses. She has done 200+ SEO audits so far. Olga has completed SEO courses and degrees at universities, such as UC Davis, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University. She also completed Moz Academy! And, of course, has Google certifications. She keeps learning SEO and loves it. Olga is also a Google Product Expert specializing in areas, such as Google Search and Google Webmasters.