Important SEO changes from the past few years

Written By: Chris Rodgers
SEO ideas on whiteboard

Below is the text transcript of Colorado SEO Pros’ CEO & Founder, Chris Rodgers’ (CR) radio interview with Jim Blasingame (JB) of Small Business Advocate.  During this interview, Jim has Chris explain what small business owners should know about the different aspects of SEO and what important changes the SEO industry has undergone over the years.

JB: You are listening to the small business advocate show and I am glad you are here. Chris Rodgers is here.  Chris is a new friend he is the founder and CEO of Colorado SEO pros. He helps companies put their best foot forward online by making sure their SEO is established and analyzed and digitized and works.  Right Chris?

CR: Yeah that’s right.

JB: Welcome to the show.

CR: Thanks so much for having me, I appreciate it.

JB: Search engine optimization.  I was talking about SEO when they coined the term way back in the day before anybody knew what was going on with spiders. Before anybody knew what a spider was.  But the bots are out there aren’t they, and they control a lot of lives, don’t they?

CR: Yeah absolutely, search optimization really is the process of taking a website and helping that website rank in Google’s search engine results, and other search engine results, for the terms that really drive the success of that business.

JB: Right.  And so, there are lot of different ways of wanting that strategic positioning if you sell pizza in Peoria, Illinois.  You don’t want to be on the top of the list, if someone types in pizza out in California, right? You don’t care about that. But if they type in pizza in Peoria, you want to be on top of that list, don’t you?

CR: Yeah absolutely, so the keywords that you are targeting are extremely important.  The intent of the searcher is going to determine whether that person clicks through to your website, and whether or not they are the right person, and if they are actually going to become a customer or not.

JB: Let me ask you this question, has SEO changed to any great degree over the last 5-10 years?

CR: It’s changed dramatically.

JB: Tell us how.

CR: In the early days of SEO, the Google algorithm, the mathematical formula that Google uses to sort and rank different websites was a lot simpler. And so, guys like me back at that time, could do relatively simple things to push results to the top.  There were things like keyword stuffing where you would go in and put a certain number of keywords on a page and that would send a signal to Google that that page is what should rise to the top in search results.  Later after that, it was all about backlinks.  The links that come from other websites pointing back to your site. The type of link, didn’t matter. So, guys that controlled websites could just point 100 links to a particular website and it would shoot to the top.  What we saw as consumers in search engines was sometimes, very poor results.  Where we would do a search for something and the websites that were coming up were a lot of times not useful or not credible.

JB: Right, people were gaming the system.

CR: Yeah, absolutely. So, there’s a lot less of that now.

JB: Well, Google went after those people.  I know of one story where the company was gaming the system like crazy.  They sold their website for 55 million dollars. Three months later Google changed their algorithms to prevent that business from doing it again, and that business regulation went down to about 10% over night.

CR: Yeah, ultimately Google and the other search engines don’t want you to be able to buy your way to the top.

JB: …Or manipulate your way to that top, that’s what these people where doing. They were manipulating.

CR: Yeah, absolutely.  They don’t want you to be able and pay and SEO guy to shoot you to the top.  They want legitimate businesses and resources going to the top that will best serve the user.  So, all their technology goes into filtering out people that are trying to cut corners, people that are trying to scam people and make a quick buck.  And they are trying to get people to the top that are out there doing good work and providing quality content.

JB: But the problem there Chris, was that over that time the good guys, like me, where having to continually do things that Google was requiring us to do to prove that we weren’t bad guys.  Like the canonical tags and security certificates and all that kind of thing.  We have had to spend money to prove that we weren’t the bad guys

CR: Yeah absolutely.  And they have made some changes even since then.  The big link penalties and things that they had around that.  Penguin was the big backlink penalty that they had, I guess it was 5/6 years ago when they started doing that one.  And they have changed some things in terms that they valuate links to penalize websites.  These days those really nasty links are less likely to cause a penalty and more likely to just not be counted and not work. But yeah, and I mean we have helped people get out of penalties and it’s a nightmare scenario.  And it’s really not the business owner’s fault.  There are a lot of guys out there with good business’s and good intentions.  They went and hired an expert and the expert says well, “hey this is what we are going to do”, and then a few years later Google changes their rules and all the sudden you have a lot of people in trouble.

JB: That’s the thing, that is what I have been worried about.  And I think we need to remind people about is that you need an SEO person to keep up with what’s going on because Google will telegraph in advance when they are going to make changes but if you are behind the curve when they make those changes you are going to get in trouble.

CR: Yeah, I mean as a business owner.  I have a lot of friends with startups and things like that where they are not at the point where they can afford SEO services.  It is expensive.  You are paying people either high hourly rates or an agency rate because of the amount of expertise that these people need to have.  That being said, there are areas of SEO where you can do some things on your own safely.  And then there are areas that you really need to stay away from because you can get in trouble.

JB: The on-page SEO is all about the subject matter of your website, right?

CR: Exactly, and that is one of the areas where you are fairly safe.  You know, as a general rule today.  Unless you are stealing the content or making duplicate content… But if you are creating original content that makes sense for your customers.  That is a pretty safe way for you to improve your SEO value over time.

JB: But you need an SEO expert to tell you how to tag those, how to identify them, what language to use as you present them to people so that you maximize the value when they are being indexed by the search engines.

CR: That’s correct Jim.

*Commercial Break and Re-Introduction*

JB:  Okay, so you have pointed out that the on-page SEO one of the three types is basically what we generate ourselves organically right. Our own content that we pretty much have control of we know what it looks like we know what our customers want, and we give them that. And you typically won’t get into too much trouble with that. But then there are two others that you have to watch out for, right?

CR:  Yeah absolutely.  Off Page SEO and I would say technical SEO are kind of the two other segments.  On page SEO like I said, at least creating content you are not going to get in a lot of trouble. You know you do need some there are some pretty technical elements of on page SEO in terms of keyword research and mapping, that if you do want to maximize that content you definitely need some help, but you are less likely to get a penalty.  With off page SEO this is the segment of SEO that is synonymous with link building. The process of going out and finding a website that will link back to your website.  Those links count as votes with Google and other search engines.  They are looking at the number of links, the types of links the credibility of the links, the relevance of those links…and that is definitely a segment that I would advise that if you are a business owner, you generally need to stay away from.  If you have maybe an association that is related to your industry and they offer you a link or something, then that could be a good thing.

JB: So, stay away from linkbacks?  You wouldn’t have said that 5 or 6 years ago would you?

CR: No, I wouldn’t, and it’s kind of like a little bit information can be really dangerous right?  If you’re going to go get links, don’t try to be too sophisticated.  I know that sounds crazy.  But don’t go in and start learning about link metrics and authority and all these things and then start trying to leverage that.  That is when you are going to get in trouble.  But if you’re just having you know relationships that you have in business or associations or things that make sense, in terms of those websites linking to you, that is generally not going to get you I trouble.  But if you say, “hey I’m going to out and I’m going to find all these sites and pay for this links in a very manipulative way”, that is when you get in trouble.

JB: But if you can build community. Where people who operate properly link back to you through that community, that is okay isn’t it?  I’m talking about organic, where people, because of the community that you created, want to be apart of what you’ve got.  You know, this is wholesome relationships here.  Is anything wrong with that?

CR: No, I don’t think so.   That’s probably a more natural way to go about getting more links. You know like doing a radio show.  Doing something around PR, you are naturally going to get some links.  You are not doing it in a super scientific, manipulative way.

JB: Everybody who is on my show gets a podcast that links back to us.  I mean that is as organic as it gets. That’s as innocent and organic as it gets.

CR: Sure, where it makes sense, for someone to use you because their audience would find your content useful and vice versa. Those are really natural ways to be doing linking.  And in general, if you are not doing this in mass, it is a safer way to go.

JB: What about technical?

CR: Yeah, the last aspect would be technical SEO, right? And this is really you know, Google and other search engines have bots that go and scan all the sites, spiders, as you mentioned.  And, if your site has a lot of technical issues; things like broken links on the site itself, duplicate content, poor code to text ratio.  So, if you go underneath the hood and look at the code underneath a site and its put together in a poor where it’s basically got rubber bands and duct tape under there. All of the way that the way your site is coded, and these technical details can prevent Google from coming in there and doing its job, and ultimately, encounter so many errors, that it will appear is though your website is broken.  So, this is again the technical side where you are going to have to have at the very minimum a web developer involved, but really you in need an SEO and a web developer working in tandem.

JB: You offer those services?

CR: Yeah, absolutely we do.  I mean that is the more technical side of what we do.  But yeah, if your site has those errors, bottom line is, you may not be getting credit for the content that you already have today.  So, the way that your site is coded is extremely important and the way the you are implementing technical SEO can have a really big impact.

JB: Last thoughts?  How would you leave us with your last thoughts?

CR: You know I would say a couple things.  If you own a business, and you are looking at evaluating SEO.  First, recognize that there are parts of this that you can do on your own.  Mainly, creating content that is valuable for your customers.  If you do need to hire an SEO, you need to recognize that these services are not cheap.  This is not something that you want to outsource or spend a couple hundred bucks on. Wait until you have the budget or do what you can on your own until you have the budget.

JB: One last thing, having a mobile site for Google is a big deal too isn’t it?

CR: Yes.  We have more mobile users in Google search than we do desktop.  So, it is critical that your site is responsive and optimized for mobile at the least.

JB: Colorado SEO Pros, Chris Rodgers.  Thanks for being on the show, come back soon.

SEO ideas on whiteboard
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