Episode 377: Talking Yoast and AI With Kimberly Cole

Show Summary

Rob Cairns sits down with Kimberly Cole of Newfold Digital to talk all things Yoast and Ai.

Show Highlights:

1. Why has Newfold entered into the AI space with Yoast.

2, What are the benefits of using Yoast and AI.

3. Roadmap of features to come.

Show Notes

Hey everybody, Rob Cairns here and in today’s podcast I have Kimberly Cole, the the senior VP of Europe for new full digital with me. How are you today? 

I’m great. Thanks for inviting me on. The podcast Rob. 

Always a pleasure. I was pleasure to meet new people in the space and connect and talk and find out what they are doing, because they’re the ones who like your company, makes them breaks the space. So I appreciate you so much. Tell we were talking offline about your interesting background. You’re fairly new at new fold this year. Can you share a little bit of that background? For our listeners. 

Or I joined new fold digital on the 1st of May this year. So yes, it’s still in my kind of whirlwind learning the business and getting to know so much more about the the WordPress community. I spent almost 30 years at Thomson Reuters. So my background is very much. Market data, big data and really at that sort of B to B end of the the world. And obviously, Thomson Reuters is a very big Canadian company. You would obviously know. Them and very, very strong, you know, news heritage, which I still obviously follow the Reuters news as some of the most, you know, reliable, trustworthy. 

Very much. 

News that you can that you can get and when I left Thomson Reuters I joined a. 6 year old start up in in Hong Kong. So I went from 150 year old company to a six year old one. You know 50,000 person to. I think we were about 200 and 5300 people at the at the start up. So it wasn’t sort of tiny but it was. It was still significantly smaller. And yeah, then I have found I was introduced to this opportunity at Newbold Digital and to Lee Yost. And and also our Web.com franchise in the UK. And I thought, wow, this sounds like a brilliant opportunity kind of in the middle of that 100 and? 50 year old. Kind of. Big enormous legacy company and the and. The start up I felt that I. Had the best of both worlds here with youthful. 

Yeah, it’s interesting because you mentioned Thomson Reuters and we all know the news business has changed greatly in the last 10 years. I’ll share with you which I didn’t share with, for I have a couple. I have a friend, good friend of mine, he’s retired, retired reporter, as he calls himself, not a journalist. I’ll tell you that now he was. A day one reporter with the Toronto Sun in Toronto. So. If you I don’t know if you know your Canadian news history, but the sun came out of the ashes of the old Toronto Telegram and Dave Creighton was the first publisher of the Toronto Sun and he was at day one or there and then wrote crime for the star and finally about 10 years ago said I’m done. So I have a lot of ties to people. That have have written for various news outlets as well. So really interesting parallel. To say the least. And that. 

So what we? 

We’re gonna talk about a Yost and AI, yeah. 

I know and and I. And I know from past conversation our friend Taco has been on touting. We talked about Yost AI on WP builds a week ago as well. So he’s been talking about it a little bit, so. Isn’t this an exciting time for Yoast SEO plug-in to? Jump into AI. 

Absolutely. So I hope most of the audience knows a little bit about Yost and I guess I would describe it as the. The leading search engine optimization plugins, certainly for WordPress. You know we’ve got over 13 million users of the plugin and I think from its very inception has been innovative in terms of what it’s been thinking and how it’s going to continue to evolve and. Help our our customers use search engine optimization most effectively. So we are super excited that we have jumped into the AI space. We actually released our AI capabilities in. August and we kind of did it on a, you know, a little quietly, quietly bit of a stealth mode kind of way. We let people opt in and. Put a sort of better label on it. So that we. Could just test out a few things and make sure that everything worked as optimally as we wanted it to, and then on August 28, we made a bit more of a fanfare and released it to everybody and turned it on in that in that release. Which we are super excited about. 

Yeah, I have, actually. I use Yost. So there’s. Rights right with the tool and I love the tool and I personally think SEO was one of those areas of the AI space. And we know AI does a multitude of things interesting enough. Check. GPT just recently celebrated its first birthday, so there’s. 

I yes, I was just actually listening to another podcast around and they were talking about that as well. 

Was that to do the Woo podcast? Kimberly? 

It wasn’t. It was just an Australian. 

So and they were saying, so we know AI can do other things. I’ve been saying for a long time. SEO is good pickings for AI. It’s a good marriage to do AI. What do you think about that? 

Absolutely. Look, I think there’s a lot of things where it’s a great tool because we can save people time on, you know, generating product descriptions. You know, it’s it’s just much faster and easier and it can also. I think there’s several things that people, you know, want to get out of, you know, using AI. And we, we still think, you know, you need a human in the loop on a lot of these things. But you know consistency. So that ability to sort of have a a more uniform tone and style that can add familiarity to the way you’re creating your titles and your descriptions across a website within, you know, AI can really help with that optimization. You know, making sure that your you know everything that we’re doing is obviously about optimization and trying to make sure that you can be discovered. But obviously with AI can help us with that, some of that optimization and then also people get blocks on how they should write things, so. Actually using AI to get a bit more diversity in the titles and the descriptions and. Allowing you to just have a bit more effective way that you’re creating some of those titles, but the main thing I think that we’re hearing from everyone that we speak to is just that time saving ability. So the fact that we can automate not only the bits that we’ve done, but obviously some of the things that we’re thinking in the future. And it just really streamlines the entire search engine optimization process. And you know the way we think about search engine optimization is really quite holistically. And so if we can take away some of those kind of menial tasks and and improve the the time saving there, it means that people can really focus a lot more on the quality of their content, which is absolutely key. So yeah, that’s some of our our some of our thinking of what we what we were trying to achieve and and so far getting quite good response from. From some of our users. 

I think I think the two things he had on the head was one is consistency because as marketers, we all know that consistency matters. And a lot of people miss that, right? It’s like. Whatever you do, do as consistent as you can be as key and the others are time saving. I’ve seen like I don’t believe you can do AI without a human intervention at this point. I I really don’t, so I’m not in the camp where as we move to AI tools that we all. Are worried about jobs. It’s the same way we all use plugins the same. Way we all. Use page builders the same way we all use all these other great tools. AI is just another one of those tools. So what it’s done is it’s kind of reformed or changed how we do a website versus. The end all the be all and I think I know. I used to say I in a lot of my stuff and I’ve cut some of my production time 50 to 75% if you can believe that. Are you hearing numbers like that or have you not? 

Yeah, I. 

I think it really. Sort of depends at the moment which. I guess is. The the standard, that’s. 

All of. 

Things, but we we’re generally hearing people saying that it is really saving them time. I don’t know that we’ve got any proper. Examples I would absolutely love that if someone could, you know, tell me how much time. They feel that. It has saved them, but I think some of the other things as we progressed down the AI path will add to those time saving. Areas as well but but as you say I I is not perfect. And I’m sure it will continue to improve. But you know what, we’re spending a lot of time on is the intelligent prompts and. Making sure that the expertise and the knowledge that we have in House can really develop those prompts as as effectively as possible because. 

Yeah, you know. 

We we want it to pass our own SEO scoring system and you know AI still. Has some way to go? 

Can I ask if the back end is open API or would you rather not share that? 

At the moment we are doing, we are on ChatGPT 3 and we’re going to continue to evolve what we’re using. 

Yeah, that’s interesting. And we all know about the caffle with the head of Chachi PT, right and open AI and that home SI mean how can you as a CEO? There was. 

An Australian lady who was involved in the whole scandal. 

Yes, yes. How can you lose a job? And be rehired 3 days later. And you know, it’s funny and I don’t know how much you’ve read, Kimberly, how much you know. But I think Microsoft had a big push in all this, cause the rumor was when he left, he was going to Microsoft. And then he ended up back in. And if you know, the structure, the, the open AI consortium, Microsoft’s a big player in that consortium. Right. So. 

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. They invested significantly, so. You would have thought. Someone might have checked with them first. 

Yeah, well, from what I what I’ve read and I could be wrong, so don’t quote me the four. It’s a small board and they’re not really well versed in tech and that’s I hate to say that’s not uncommon in VC’s like these days. They’re they’re in it to see how much a return on. Revenue they can get quickly instead of the long term of the product sometimes. So yeah. So very interesting. 

Very interest. 

How long did? It take new folk to. Build this product out because it’s really interesting and I think there was a lot of work and a lot of care that went into it. 

Yeah. I think with a lot of the way that certainly that Yost thinks about how they’re going to roll things out is that they wanna get it. You know, right before they release solutions so. Yeah, we spent. A bit of time making sure that it was gonna pass through the the traffic light system effectively and that we were gonna, you know, get all of the right results that we wanted. And I would say there’s still some improvements there and some of that is just because of the capabilities of chat. BT itself. So we I think we will continue to see improvements, but I still think you know you are better off to get something out there because you know what we can do and help with people with even now is is a great result. UM. New fold across the board is of course look has AI capabilities in in multiple areas and we certainly you know and we have a lot of skills and knowledge across the organisation as well. So there was a lot of discussion and collaboration with other teams as well. So that we, you know, we just don’t have to reinvent the wheel multiple times to do to do certain things across our different families of of products, so. Yeah, we certainly collaborated on on AI and what we were we were doing for in the youths area, but obviously speaking to our colleagues in in blue host and host Gator and and. Across the board. 

Yeah. And I think that really helps is because you’ve already dove into some of those areas. So you’re not reinventing the wheel and we know in the tech business the worst thing we can do is keep going back to the well and reinventing because there’s an R&D cost. There’s the cost of doing all kinds of things. I spent a lot of my career. Actually, before I got into running my own agency in a. Support role so. Ohh do do I know, like that’s just to to move for disaster, right? So I think you’ve been really smart about it. 

Yeah, look, I think it’s super exciting because if we can just use the all of the great minds across the organisation, it means we can come up with some really innovative ideas going forward. And yeah, I love some of the conversations that we’re having at the moment, which is just, you know, absolute.

Brainstorming about, but what about if we do this and? What about if we? Did the other and obviously I’m not gonna share all of those things, but you? 

No, that’s perfect. 

Know what it’s like. 

You gotta keep a little under your hat. So when plus use or. See something bright and shiny in six months we can say hey. 

You know. 

I I get I get that. This so you’ve got. Your product and I think one thing you’ve done well is you said you just wanted to get it out and I think that’s really important in this place because first the market is a big deal or being there early won the market. There are some people that don’t jump on early products. I’m kind of in between depending on what I do this one I jumped on some. I don’t jump on, you know. I not only am I an agency owner, I I’ll admit I’m a technology geek from heart back-to-back, back to the days of the apple two and Steve Jobs. So I’ve been in this game a long time. And so I’m kind of this one. I jumped on a AI. I jumped on really quickly, but most physical products I say I’m gonna wait six months. Have you seen a lot of benefit of being one of the first to market in this space? 

Yeah. Look, I think there was a lot of, you know, people expecting that, you know you we would add something for AI. So I think absolutely it was it was, you know, we I don’t think we were too late. I don’t think we were too early. I think we sort of timed it pretty well. I think the initial you know things that we’ve done with. The AI generation for titles and and meta descriptions and for the social previews and social descriptions. 

Ohh yeah. 

And we’ll increasingly look at, you know, what additional content tasks we can bring in and we’ve got we’re supporting, we’re commerce, you know products as well for posts and pages. So I think. You know that’s they’re sort of like the initial really cool things that, you know, were great to get out there. But then, you know, all of the things that we’re thinking going forward that I think will even be more time saving. So one of the the ones that we’ve had the most requests for is bulk editor. To be able to. Do a lot more. 

Please please yeah. 

I I I’m. 

In that camp. Because I’m actually using Yost and the AI on it on a large e-commerce site this site, it will have probably by the time I’m done about seventeen 2003 thousand products. It’s a variable. Product site. Right. So all ladies love jewelry. So that’s what I’m building out for. Have a a friend who runs an independent jewelry store and I and I gotta tell you, it’s made descriptions so much easier, like from a from an end user standpoint I could not be happier. I can like like it’s just. 

That’s great. So I think you know that’s the kind of response I guess we want going forward on on everything that we do and I think. You know, AI just gives us some really kind of interesting areas where I think we can help the the end customer really improve the way that they do things. So, yeah, I’m I’m kind of excited about some of those things and I guess you know some of the other things that we’re passionate about is you know around. Readability and and I think we’ll be able to do some interesting AI capabilities there. The bulk editor one is obviously one that we’ve had a lot of requests for. So I think that’s that’s definitely. High on the list. And yeah, we’ve got a new product director starting in, in, in January too. So hopefully he will bring some interesting some interesting. Ideas and perspectives as well. 

It’s always good to get new perspectives. Sometimes I think you know you, you mentioned you’ve worked for big companies, you’ve worked for small companies and part of it is I hate say we all get tunnel vision sometimes. So we get on the track and we see and sometimes when you go and bring somebody new and it makes a difference to that and it brings those fresh ideas in. So I think that’s. A really great idea actually. I’m. I’m so not against that. OK, so you guys are in the new fold. The Yost is in the UI space. There’s a couple other SEO products out there starting to go there. What separates with? New Fold

Yoast is doing from those other products. 

I mean, look, I think a lot of it is our heritage and knowledge in the space. You know we’ve got we’ve got sort of you know 13 million users out there and we’ve got a lot of experience, talent and knowledge. And obviously then with new fold investing, you know we’re pretty serious about making sure that we continue to innovate and we continue to be. The real sort of authority in the SEO space. We brought in two. New SEO’s during this year with Alex Moss and Carolyn Shelby as well. And as you say like I think just bringing in new fresh talent all the time you know adds a lot more to you know we’ve got a very solid foundation of a team and. A really strong team and you know Taco and there’s so many other great, you know, people within the organization so. 

So it’s actually just amplifying all of those people and skills that we have and connecting with some of the other the brands within the new full portfolio. So yeah, super exciting. 

Yeah. And and. Frankly, in Taco, you have the biggest cheerleader for your organization. You can have out there. He’s. This I’ve had him on the show. I consider him a friend. I’ve been on other podcasts with him. He’s just a wonderful guy and I think from a getting information out there and reaching out to the community, he’s I know you have other people that do it, but he’s the one that’s front and center and believe me, he is just. A wonderful man. 

He absolutely is and he is a wonderful part of the and so well connected in the in the workplace community and and and you know at word camps etcetera and actually helps lead several of the other initiatives that the company has around our diversity. And and some of the other Community initiatives that we do, which I think are also, you know, fantastic parts of the OST. Business and what we do as part of our WordPress engagement. 

And I think Yost and the brand should be really a new fault should be commended for the Diversity Fund. I mean, that’s not what we’re really talking about, but it’s worth mentioning. I think your organization has made an effort to help make the place the space A better place and to be more diverse. With have fun and all I can say there is congratulations for what you’ve done for the Community and matters. 

Thank you very much and I will tell the team because we they spend a lot of time on that. And I do think it’s great that people recognise it. 

I get. So we’ve talked. To it about build. Product and my. My question always is, I mean, I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been in the WordPress space for. Full time 15 years, probably longer than that. Time and so I consider myself pretty experienced. So I’m a really bad guy to say. Was that easy to install? Because because I’ve done it. I mean, I still remember the days when we used to do a 5 minute WordPress install and we didn’t have an easy installer you collect. I remember those days. I I still remember moving sites around without tools like you know and and you’re laughing, but it’s true. And and then the new generation of developers, designers and users have no concept of that, because we’ve made it so much more streamlined, which is probably push wordpress’s adoption right to where it is right now. How would you? Say the setup process this is for. Somebody really new or junior? 

Yeah. Look, I think our focus is continually on making things easier, more streamlined. I think you know that’s what the world wants. You know we, you know, now that you can click that AI button and it does stuff for you. People kind of want that magic button for everything and. I think the focus needs to be always on thinking about how do we make this easier. I think we have a lot of novice users. We don’t have all the people who are in that space like you who have done this for 15 years and somehow we’ve got to manage. Those, those real novices and those beginners. And then still. You know the other end of the spectrum, who want to be able to have a bit more control and still be able to customise some of the way things are done. I think that’s also important at that kind of enterprise level where you probably want all the those capabilities, but you might want more sort of building blocks where you can customize. What bits and elements you want for your large enterprise site? Yeah. Do we have all of that right now? No. But that’s always sort of, you know, top of mind is. How do you make it easier and deliver better? For what all of those range of customers are are looking for? 

Yeah. And what you’re talking about is what every organization goes through from a support standpoint, right, Kimberly? Like, I’m I’m just kind of. You were saying that, that I was reflecting back to my days. I was a team leader for 12 second biggest hospital at one time in the IT Support Call Center. So. And I was thinking about that cross section is you know you’re always helping the newer new user and then you’re helping the executive assistant who knows it all and you know, and I’m not, I’m not demoralizing it, but it’s different importances for different people, right? 

Yeah. Well, we just actually had our Black Friday sale on us. Of course, everybody did Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it was great. I actually sat on our live chat sessions for over over the sort of five days that we had the sale on, not for the. Whole 5 days but I did shifts. And it was actually very interesting to sort of see the types of questions you got and we still did, even though this was primarily about. Selling Yost Premium services at A at a Black Friday rate. We were still getting, you know, questions on can you trying to install it? And I’ve got this problem and you know, we were still doing kind of help. Just queries and it does make you appreciate that you all. Of those things, you’ve got to think about that entire customer experience and. We try to. Do a lot in that space with, you know, the Academy as well as our help desk and all of those elements that we consider being core parts of the product, not just those. Enhancements that we’re that we’re making to to also impress and and deliver on what people want. 

You should be commended for doing that. I used to have when I was at the hospital, I had the CTO’s now retired and I didn’t light them down every three months to spend half a day with me and what I’d do is I’d hand. My mic and I would make the CTO take live calls, not, not actually do the work because that wasn’t his skill set, but I got him to take live calls from clients and he said and him and I had a conversation recently like he retired about a year ago and he said, you know, doing those live calls made me a better. Big deal, and I think that makes you a better senior VP and. 

Yeah, and and it was, it was really interesting voice obviously hearing what the customers were asking and having that conversation with them, but also just working with the whole of the support team who maybe we made their job harder because half the time we were having to ask them like. 

Oh my God this. 

Customers ask me something. 

But that’s OK because you’re learning too, and I’m sure your support team probably appreciated you taking the time to go in that role. A lot of people in. Your position wouldn’t do that. Well, I think by doing that you probably, you know, bite yourself. A lot. No longer. There. So I would think so. 

That was great fun. We were all huddled in together and Friday night we got pizza in and. 

I love it. As you move forward with your product, is there anything on the road map you can share at this point or would you rather just keep it under your? 

Yeah. Look, I. 

Mean I think it was. I already sort of outlined some of those. Things like the. The bulk editor and things sort of those things will do. You know, we’re looking at more content types, as I said. So how do we do sort of the AI side of meta description, but for broader content science, we’re looking at all of our other, you know plugins like our. Use plug-in and things that we can do there. So yeah. We’ve got a whole lot of. Stuff in there and then of course, working with our colleagues at Blue Host as well to work out how we can plug in better across there. There and wonder blocks and how that will all work. So yeah, there’s some. There’s some good stuff coming. 

There’s some really exciting stuff coming, I think, and as I said, I don’t know where I’d be without it building this RG Comer store. It’s just. Think of the time to put all those descriptions in from scratch, and it’s just it’s just complicated. This is about the word. 

Well, I I think we’re gonna have to have your, you know, we’ll have to have you as a testimonial on on our. 

I think. 

If somebody wants to know more about the Yost product, what you’re doing, how’s the best way for them? To stay in touch. 

Well, obviously we have a. Whole lot of information on our website and you can sign up for our newsletter. We also do monthly webinars that are called the SEO report by Yost and we have. Caroline Shelby and Alex Moss speaking on those so we. Do a good. Round up of all of the news and everything that’s been going on in the SEO space, so look out for those for the novices because we did talk about them as well we do monthly. Getting started with SEO. You know beginners guides and there was actually one on just earlier today, but they happen every month. So you’ll have someone, a couple of people from our support team or other people across the organisation and they walk you through step by step on those sort of key basics and then we do a good Q&A. So I would highly recommend. That as well. But yeah, those webinars sign up for our newsletter, but they’re the they’re the main ways. 

Yeah. Ken Murray, thanks very much for your time. Have a happy holiday. Merry Christmas. Hope the New Year is good to you and your team and your family. 

Thank you so much Rob and same to you and great talking to you. 

Thanks and hopefully we’ll get to talk again sometime down the road it would be. 

A pleasure. Thank you. 

This show is brought to you by stunning digitalmarketing.com your Toronto leader in digital marketing services. Not only do we protect your WordPress website, we can help you with your site. Provide social media management for your business, or even do one-on-one. Consulting to find out more, go to stunningdigitalmarketing.com. A very special thank you to Kimberly Cole for joining me on this edition of the STM show. Hey everybody, Rob here again, thanks for listening to the SDM show. It’s such a pleasure to have you every week. If you want more on our agency website, go to stunningdigitalmarketing.com. We are your worker security experts. We we glad to help you out if you want to learn more about me Rob Karens, go to meet Rob Karens dot online. From there you can find links to everything I do on the web. As well as. Book time with me, so feel free. If you want to make comments about this podcast, or know a guest possibly suitable for the podcast, please e-mail us at podcast at stunning digitalmarketing.com or Converse so you can go to X, formally known as Twitter and tweet at me at Rob Terrence. This podcast is dedicated to my late father Bruce, Karen’s dad. I miss you very much and I love you. Please join us next week for another interesting podcast. Have a great weekend. Bye bye for now. 

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