In November 2019 we hosted a technical SEO meetup in New York, featuring a formidable panel of SEO experts including:

  • Rachel Costello, DeepCrawl
  • Mike King, iPull Rank
  • Lily Ray, Path Interactive
  • Romain Damery, Path Interactive
  • Hamlet Batista, Rank Sense
  • John Morabito, Stella Rising

Moderated by SALT’s Dan Taylor, the following is a round-up of the panel discussion and questions asked by audience members.

The panel covered current hot topics of JavaScript & SEO, EAT, Communicating SEO with developers and wider business stakeholders. They also faced questions from the New York audience.

L > R: Rachel, Mike, Lily, Romain, Hamlet, John & Dan.


Lily Ray led the discussions on EAT following her talk with Marie Haynes at Pubcon. Key takeaways on the subject of EAT included:

  • Your content needs to have credible sources/authors/citations/bios.
  • Your site should invest in authorship pages, bios, social proof.
  • You can identify entities through MREIDs.

The Future of Google & SEO

Fitbit Acquisition

Google’s acquisition of Fitbit has opened up two new realms to Google; the wearables market, and a plethora of user-health data.

Google has previously forayed into the wearables market with Google Glass, which is still in production as a workplace product, failed to gain mainstream traction.

However, Fitbit already has high penetration rates both as a wearable, accompanying mobile application, and user dashboard area.

With an established presence in the smartphone market, adding an established wearables product to the IoT ecosystem will only benefit future product development and potentially brand adoption.

The second and arguably largest gain from the Fitbit acquisition is the user-data.

We use Fitbit primarily as an exercise tracker and use integrations with other applications such as calorie and dietary trackers. So, now, Google can map more user data points for not only better-paid ad targeting, but also increased reach.

Previously, Google may know that Jenny has searched for running shoes or post-workout protein powders, but now, Google can map the frequency of those searches versus Jenny’s jogging pattern — so if they know around every six months Jenny looks for new running shoes as she’s roughly run 200km.

This information can inform Google’s ad platform and Jenny may see running shoe adverts more frequently around that time, as statistically, she’s more likely to make a purchase.

Online/Offline Shopping Integrations

Along with penetration into the smartphone and wearables market, it’s not inconceivable that Google’s next step is to integrate the data and knowledge it has on you as an individual, with the location data that it collects.

This could manifest itself as a future scenario where you’ve been Googling for a new pair of shoes, and through your searches become more narrow and specifically started looking at a particular brand and style, and you’re now at the very end of the funnel, doing price comparisons and on the verge of purchase.

You’re then walking through the city centre and you get a notification from Google that you’ve just passed a store that stocks that particular shoe.

There are a large number of data points at play here, and a lot of this relies on the store also maintaining its website, as well as providing sufficient data, such as stock and location.

But we’re already doing this through things like Schema and Google Shopping Feeds.

Google Discover

Until recently, Google Discover was called Google Feed and is comparatively a Google native take on a “what’s popular” social media feed.

While it’s still in its infancy, the key message is that brands will need to focus more on the quality of content they produce and consider audience engagement.

This doesn’t mean that we need to enter another content marketing renaissance, content is king and so on, but as well as adding blogs and larger content pieces for SEO purposes, content marketing for users also needs to factor into strategies.

Key thoughts and takeaways on Google Discover from the panel include:

  • It isn’t going to be going away, so gearing strategy for it now will pay dividends in the future.
  • It’s 100% personalized for each user, so you need to make sure the content you’re producing is on point for your audience.
  • It relies on user engagement, and this can be done through other channels such as email, social media, marketing personalisation, etc.
  • While the prominence of YouTube as a content source is rising, this is another argument to increase the use of video as a content medium.
  • Google Discover utilises both evergreen and short-burst content.

JavaScript SEO: JavaScript & Rendering Issues

The first discussion of the night featured around the experiences of the panel of working with JavaScript websites, key takeaways and thoughts from the first discussion of the night include:

  • Googlebot can’t render your content efficiently.
  • Not all websites are being crawled with the most up-to-date Chrome version.
  • You can audit tags and pixels using Ghostery and Google Developer Tools.
  • Crawling costs money, so if your pages are taking too long to load, Google may not crawl as much and thus index as quickly.
  • Google does adhere to your robots.txt file, so if you’re blocking ads, your page might load faster. Look into this… is this hurting your paid campaign performance?
  • Use a headless browser to test without doing any rendering on the backend.
  • You can also test pages using Chrome Dev Tools.

Server-Side Rendering 

  • Google claims that it can crawl the whole page, but that’s not necessarily always the case. You should still worry about it! CSR might miss some valuable content 
  • Pages are indexed faster.
  • Pros to keep doing SSR.
  • Cache expiry 15 min. The page would take too long to get recached, Google would see it as a 5XX error.


  • Prerendering sends HTML snapshots, so search engines can index your content without doing the heavy rendering of javascript.
  • Use HTML snapshot – Rendertron.
  • The whole 2 step process can take Google less than two weeks to crawl. You may not need to pre-render at all.