YPMS Episode 7: Technical SEO and Google’s 2021 SEO Update with Geoff Atkinson of Huckabuy

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Show Notes

Casey Stanton
You’re listening to your perfect marketing strategy, the only podcast to teach you what marketing tactics are working right now, how to know which tactics are right for your business, and the immediate steps you can take to deploy those tactics to grow your business today. Hey, it’s your host, Casey Stan, the Fractional CMO at CMOx. I’m here with Geoff Atkinson, the former Senior Vice President of Marketing https://www.overstock.com. And now the CEO of Huckabuy, Geoff is in Park City, Utah. And today we’re going to be talking about technical SEO, Search Engine Optimization in general, and the things that you must be doing to stay ahead of the 2021 Google search algorithm update. And before you roll your eyes and think this is way too technical, trust me, this is critical to your business growth. As you move into 2021. Google is making massive sweeping changes on their search algorithm. And if you miss these, you may find yourself buried on the second page, which is a great place to hide a dead body. All right, Geoff, let’s dive into it. I’d love to hear just briefly your background. How did you get into marketing? And how did you get an overstock?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, well, first, thanks for having me on. Casey, pleasure to be here. I have kind of an interesting story of how I ended up at overstock, I was actually I grew up on the East Coast, I was a ski racer, I raced in college, and I really just wanted to be a ski bum after college. But I ended up taking a quote unquote real job at overstock, which is based in Utah. And the reason for that was I wanted to ski and Utah some of the best skiing in the entire country. I took a job at overstock on the ground level, I was in a marketing major, I wasn’t an engineer, I was simply just a sociology major that ended up you know, starting an email marketing. So started email marketing, worked my way up eventually became this SVP over all marketing. SEO is a great story there. We took it from a channel of zero to a channel of like 300 million in a few short years. So yeah, it was an incredible growth story. I feel very fortunate, and that I got to report directly to to the CEO, founder and CEO, Patrick Byrne, who was sort of my mentor. And yeah, that got me going. So it was a heck of a start to, to my early career. And I just feel very fortunate to have that experience.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that’s awesome. So let’s dive into that real quick. And talk to me about what what you did to take SEO from a zero dollar [email protected] to a $300 million channel, what’s just like, what’s the overall basic idea here? It was building content on the site and then building a backlink profile. What was it?

Geoff Atkinson
Say the biggest thing was that Google was just the site was not, in any way set up for Google to understand. And so it’s very confusing, you know, the URL structure had no rhyme or reason. categories were buried, you know, it’s just a hard site for them to figure out. And so our first few steps was just basically re engineering the entire site so that Google could understand it more clearly, when we did it in kind of like a dynamic way. So our keyword research would actually feed in generate, you know, categories and subcategories. And so it’s all pretty automated, which is kind of rare in those days. But we went from a site that they couldn’t understand it all to like the perfect site. And that was the big first step. And then, you know, a lot of other but it was really a technical challenge at first, big Page Speed, push, big content, push, big, you know, we changed our inventory to, you know, sort of, I always say SEO made overstock much more of a home and garden category company, then than it ever was before. And that was really just based on keyword research. So yeah, there was a lot of stuff, obviously, you got to do a ton to get that kind of growth. But the primary thing at first was a technical overhaul of how the site functions. And it helped users to I mean, it is it was a higher converting site and attracted, you know, the Google bots just totally understood it. And they went from sort of scratching their heads to be like, Oh, this is dialed in. And this is perfect. Yeah, that’s great.

Casey Stanton
So what what I’m understanding here is like, the big takeaway for anyone who’s listening is if you build it, they won’t come. You have to like build your website in such a way that Google understands it understands the content, understands the value of it, and then Google will deem it authoritative in some way and then drive the relevant traffic to it. But you guys had all of the offers you had all of the products on overstock, but you weren’t getting the traffic because you weren’t saying it in a way that Google understood. Is that right?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, we were fortunate that we already had a strong brand and a strong following. So like backlinks and our domain authority was already in a good, good place. And we did a lot of work on it too. But the brand was there so it was pretty unique SEO problem and that we already had a lot of have really big boxes checked. But we just had to align the site so that Google, you know, so we could actually rank. And that was a technical upheaval of the site. And once we did, you know, and we started seeing really significant growth, we put just a ton of resources. I mean, we had like, 40 people working on SEO, I think half of them were developers. So it was a, it was a big undertaking. But with that kind of growth, I mean, you can’t spend enough to, you know, make the ROI look like any kind of page and it’s just returning dollars, like you can’t believe so. It was a great investment and, you know, a rare opportunity where you get to have sort of unlimited resources working on SEO.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that’s great. So you just said something there, which is the the return from SEO is so much higher than paid. And in my experience, you know, anytime I’ve ever talked to someone who’s like less educated on the advertising side, they’ll say something like, Oh, those ads on Google, I never click those. And I think what they’re alluding to is the fact that they click those organic rankings more than the paid rankings. And as a result, the SEO value is miles above what paid could be, is that true?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, there’s a couple different factors here. So absolutely about 15% of clicks, you know, anywhere from five to 15% of clicks are going to pay dads. So you have like 85% going to organic, of that 85, it also converts much better, because if you think of your own behavior, how much he trusts clicking through an ad versus clicking through an organic link, you have basically twice the the conversion rate of a paid click. So not only you can sort of double the clicks, because you’re going to get the corresponding conversions. The other thing that’s interesting, now, it’s a you know, and I’ve sort of searched Trenton is that 50% of searches are zero click, so they don’t actually click on anything, which is really fascinating.

Casey Stanton
Is that because those are delivering content? Like in that?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, it used to be, you know, you search for something, you get back 10, blue links, it’s like, say you search for a sports score, ESPN, Yahoo Sports would show up, and then you’d have to click through now, because of rich results and rich enhancements, those results are very telling, you know, they can basically just give you the answer. And one of Google’s main metrics is how much do you stay on Google? How much can they satisfy your need? So with 50% being zero click, and some of those are voice search as well. So you obviously can’t even click on something, it’s just giving you the answer. But that’s a huge trend. And so rich results and structured data have become extremely important. And people are now another trend is that people are now much more compelled by immediacy than they are by brand. So it used to be, you know, brand loyalty, like if you did that sports scores search, you’re going to click through the platform that you trust the most that you’re familiar with. So your Yahoo Sports guy, you’re going to click on that if you’re ESPN, you’re gonna click on that. Now you just get the answer. And you don’t even know really where the answer is coming from. You just get the answer. Right. Yeah, it is authoritative. And yeah, exactly. And so that immediacy is now a much bigger factor that people care about, even though they don’t really consciously know that they care about it. That’s a bigger factor now than it’s ever been. So those are two, like really major trends that 50% or zero click, and it’s just going to keep trending that way. And people care more about immediacy than they do about brands now.

Casey Stanton
So that’s really interesting. Google is becoming Yeah, I mean, it’s a search engine, but instead of it being just a page of links, it also has information. Like, sometimes I get stuck on a word, and I google defined colon, and then that word, Google gives me the answer. I’m not clicking anything, no one’s getting a page view as a result.

Geoff Atkinson
You can actually monitor your own. Um, it’s sort of generally I haven’t actually seen like the hard data. But that’s the trend that they’ve sort of disclosed. Is that about 50%? or zero click?

Casey Stanton
But I know if I’m, like, featured on a search query, impressions I get.

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah. So there’s something called rich enhancements in Google Search Console will actually show you how many rich enhancements you have throughout their platform. And we actually track that within the Hawkeye dashboard, because it’s, we think it you know, our original product is actually automation of structured data. Structured Data is what powers all those rich enhancements. So we have the feedback mechanism that’s flowing through Rockabye that says, Yeah, you’re qualified and showing for you know, 10,000, rich enhancements throughout Google. And they’ll show you the impressions and they’ll show you if you do get clicks as well, but you get them probably more importantly, the impressions and how many people actually seeing those results.

Casey Stanton
Very cool. So we’re seeing a lot of times Google things here, I think you and I are nerding out, let’s let’s zoom out for a moment and just talk about just the general notion of search engine optimization. How would you define search engine optimization or SEO.

Geoff Atkinson
So Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically changing your site and doing tactics to, to achieve those organic rankings. And some of those tactics are technical. Some of them are based on building links, some of my writing content. And there’s a bunch of stuff to sort of do when it comes to how to how to, you know, optimize for search engine, but it’s really executing on those tactics so that you show up in those those organic results, and get the corresponding traffic and sales.

Casey Stanton
Got it. So it’s getting number one on Google or towards the top of Google for the keywords that matter the most. And then netting that traffic, which you said is 85% of the search traffic is going to those organic posts, and only five to 15 is going to pay dads.

Geoff Atkinson
Yep, exactly.

Casey Stanton
So when I think of paid ads, the thing I love about paid ads is you can get on the top of Google in an hour by running a paid ad. But the problem is that you’re not getting the lion’s share of the traffic, and it can be pretty expensive. Whereas SEO is a longer term game to earn the position at the top. And that that can take a while. I’m curious how long you see it takes to take a I know it’s a hard question. But like, what is the timeframe to get to a reasonably competitive keyword to the top? I mean, it can take six months, 12 months longer?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, it does take time. You know, that’s, that’s the the sort of hiccup with SEO, but it’s it’s definitely worth it. Once you get there. It is a long term investment, but it takes six to 12 months. Yeah. And if it’s a really tough keyword could take years. You know, it’s not, it’s not like, yeah, I’ll do this for six months. And I guarantee I’m going to get you could do it for your No, no one is going to rank number one for Apple iPhone, other than apple. So that’s the second change. And it can take a long time.

Casey Stanton
Can you can you speak to a reasonably competitive keyword that you were able to earn your way into at overstock?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, this is actually a kind of a cool example. The keyword while we we ended up ranking number one for a ton of stuff like sheets, memory foam mattress, and, you know, sofas, I mean, we had both patio furniture, a ton of number one rankings, but one kind of really specific story is black end tables, which sounds like a kind of a strange keyword, but we would actually figure out our inventory based on demand. So based on keyword research, and our analysts would find these keywords. And I remember one was black end table, we saw a ton of people searching for black end tables. And we didn’t have any. So we told our partners, hey, you know, take 10% of your inventory, painted black, your table in inventory, painted black. And all of a sudden, you know, we got inventory, created the category in boom, like, overnight, because there was really low competition. Overnight, we had like a $5 million channel? Well, that’s kind of a cool, yeah, because there’s no competition. Yeah, you can look actually using tools like Moz and a refs, how competitive you know, these keywords are. And this is like 2008 2009. So that we were kind of ahead of the game. And so we would find opportunities where we knew we had enough domain authority that literally, if we built the category, it was going to rank number one. And so we would, you know, the black end table is a story that I tell about, you know, how to actually shape your product or your services based on what demand is out there versus what you just sort of think is going to work in the marketplace, you can actually, you know, do a lot of research ahead of time to figure out what the demand is and then fulfill that demand, which is a lot easier way to get into the market, that sort of stuff things down people’s throats. So that’s that’s one example. But we spent a lot of time in the more competitive ones. You know, we did a ton of writing, we did a ton of building out the products, we did a ton of generating reviews, backlink acquisition, I mean, there was a ton of efforts for those really top competitive keywords.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that’s so cool. Well, I mean, a $5 million channel kind of overnight. And what I’m understanding is that overstock.com was kind of a muscle or like a, like a, like a whole weapon. And you were able just to point it at the keyword and rank for it because of how authoritative or strong you already were. And it was just about finding the right place to point it is that right?

Geoff Atkinson
Exactly. It’s about finding those like diamonds in the rough where you can you just know you know, you’re gonna you’re gonna win at that keyword if you if you put some product in the category.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that’s so cool. All right. So that’s the basics of SEO, which is that you’re aiming to climb in the ranks. But you mentioned a couple different things. There. To do that, and one of it was like having inventory and creating the content on your website, we talked to me about that, because it’s not about just putting a page out that says, black end tables, there was more to it than.

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah. So overstock is kind of a unique one and not well, not unique. And then oh, there’s a lot of e commerce companies, but just different. And that with an e commerce site, you have products and products have descriptions, and products, get reviews, user generated content, which is awesome. So you’re actually having people write for you, which is really convenient. And you’re kind of building a silo around each one of these categories. So all that content on the product page across, you know, hundreds of thousands of products that actually links up to these categories, and then the categories end up ranking. I like, you know, when it’s when it’s non sort of e-comm you’re you’re actually writing the content yourself. And I think about content generation is not just doing content. Content Marketing is a big sort of buzzword right now. And it’s being used a lot. But I’m not a big fan of like content just for content sake. I am a fan of content when it’s really strategically thought out. So what are the keywords we’re trying to rank for? Where do we need to put the content? How often do we need to refresh it? You know, those types of things? How do we make it compelling? So people actually want to link to it. That’s really interesting content generation in my, in my book, and then the other thing that’s always exciting is if you can figure out a way to have user generated content, you know, reviews or forums, or whatever it is. It’s just more scalable when you can do it that way. And obviously, it’s more efficient, money wise as well. So yeah, you see a lot of companies just sort of doing content and sort of hoping that it ranks as a secondary benefit. But if you’re just spend some more time being strategic about it, and really putting in the research, you can get a lot more bang for your buck when you actually have people writing content.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, so what I’m understanding here is that content writing is critically important on the website, and knowing the right keywords for it and putting on the website in the right way is it’s like, just what you got to do in order to rank. But what about off site? What’s needed? You mentioned backlinks, what’s that process? Like?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, backlinks. acquisition is a really funky, you know, it’s probably the weirdest task within SEO, because it’s kind of awkward to be asking people for links, ideally, you know, in a perfect world content. I mean, I’m sorry, Link acquisitions done through really great content. So if you have something that goes viral, or people want to read, or you know, that’s just or you have a tool that’s really useful, you’re going to generate a ton of backlinks automatically. So that’s like the golden, you know, the golden egg, if you can achieve that, you know, you’re just doing fantastic.

Casey Stanton
Do you like create something valuable that other people want to link to, and then linking to it on social media, then linking to it on their website? They’re like, hey, my website’s all about this thing. But this tool or this blog post, or this, whatever is so valuable, I want you to read it, too. And that natural link is what Google wants to see. And you’re saying that in, in, there’s another way to get that, that link? That is through a conversation to request to pay for the link? Is that right?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, there’s lots of different like, one of our strategies is doing podcasts, because podcasts will link back to our site. It’s not the primary reason that we do podcasts. We love to do podcasts because we think audio, you know, marketing is really the future. And there’s a bunch of reasons why we do it. But it is our one of our primary backlink acquisition methods is going on podcasts. So there’s lots but there’s a ton of different like, clever ways to do it. No partnerships. It’s sort of limitless. Like it’s as long as you get the link. You know, you’ve done done your job, but it can be it can be hard, and you got to really be creative and think of, you know, creative ways to build that backlink profile.

Casey Stanton
It was an example of a creative way or two that you’ve seen.

Geoff Atkinson
And tool building is really interesting. So, you know, some of these tools on websites like the free tools on Moz, for example, which is a SEO sort of analytics platform. You give the tools away as a way to get backlinks. So people will want to link to it. I actually get the podcast thing it’s kind of clever. guy you see people getting really created about there, you know, sort of controversial stuff. So putting controversial things out there often get linked to Yeah, there’s there’s a lot of creativity People out there.

Casey Stanton
That makes sense. You know, like, when I think of HubSpot, I don’t think of a company, I think of a platform. And they also have like education and actually really great education. But if you think of them just as like a sass platform, there’s really not a lot of reason to link to them. And then HubSpot created a email signature generator, which I see a lot of people used to just to make a nice email signature for like your Gmail account. And that little Trojan horse allows them to collect people’s information plus get all the backlinks. And I think to your point on tools, it’s just, it’s a no brainer. And if you consider the cost to build that tool, and the number of backlinks that you can get as a result, it would seem that those backlinks would be very inexpensive, long term.

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, exactly. That’s a great, great example of them executing on a great backlink strategy. I’m sure it’s working for him.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, I’m sure they do know what they’re doing. So there’s, there’s another piece of SEO, which is technical SEO. And I’d love for you just to like, get nerdy on it and tell me like, what is technical Seo? And why does it matter?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, so technical SEO is really like, in my mind, it’s the conversation between a website and Google, and how good is that conversation? So it can be difficult, you know, sometimes it’s easy like e commerce, it’s a little bit easier for them to understand because the sites are really well structured. But for all the other stuff, Google often will come to a site and just be totally confused. And so it’s, how do you have that conversation as best as you possibly can, technically, and the world of technical SEO has really changed. Google has changed just dramatically, and it’s changing at a really rapid rate. And we have a big change coming in 2021 that we’ll talk about, but um, you know, they’ve opened up some doors to opportunities to basically help that conversation. And the first one is their use of structured data. And structured data is a it’s a language that allows a website to authoritatively talk to Google. And then it has sort of two benefits. One is that you just help Google understand. So structured data markup, there’s tons of different types of markup, the most commonly used markup is product markup for e commerce. But you can markup on the same thing, you can say, you know, this is a person, this is a legal case, this is a product, this is a location, almost saying this is a sports score, this is a recipe, almost anything can be marked up, and it helps them because it’s, it’s structured. And it’s the same across all websites, it helps them understand exactly what’s going on any given page in any given website. So when they come in, and they see a site with really good structured data, they just understand a lot more about it. And the more they understand that the more keywords that you rank for the more traffic that you get. And so that’s really the first benefit is they understand more, and they’ll give you more, you know, rank for more keywords that give you more traffic. And the second is that they use it because it is standardized across the web, they can actually leverage it within their search results. And that’s going back to these rich enhancements that we talked about earlier, those are all being powered by this language. So you get that exposure, you get those rich enhancements, you get more real estate on Google, you rank for more keywords, you’re gonna get more traffic. So that’s a really big, technical thing that’s changed in the last 510 years that you just have to be doing that really well. And that was our first product. So we automate, you know, structured data markup, we figured this out is something that was really important. And so we’re like, that’s a hard thing to do internally, let’s figure out a way to make it automated for our customers. So that that’s one thing.

Casey Stanton
So I want another thing that real quick. Before we move on. So for structured data, the way I look at it is like, it’s like a table of contents of information. And it says like, here’s the title, and here’s who it’s by, and that kind of stuff. But it’s written into the code of the website in a way that Google understands. And it’s like a it’s like a block of just like information, kind of like a table of contents. But I’m curious what, what structured data or schema is needed on all websites, most websites, when should someone know that they should add something special?

Geoff Atkinson
I think it should be on all websites, to be honest. That’s what Google wants. They want it just across the board. I think anybody that is interested in driving organic traffic to their site needs to be optimizing their structured data and paying attention to it and making sure it doesn’t break and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s an important factor and it’s just growing in importance. So another big trend is voice search, Voice Search is becoming a much more used, you know, talking to devices and voice searches powered also by structured data. So it’s it’s everything’s trending towards the use of structured data and so I Everybody to really, if you’re interested in getting that traffic, you got to you got to weigh

Casey Stanton
Give me an example of like, what is needed for structured data? So one piece is like organization name hours of operation location is that like the bare minimum? Everyone should have?

Geoff Atkinson
A good start? Yep, for sure. If you’re doing e commerce, then product structured data is necessary. But really, it’s page to page, you know, depending on what you’re trying to sell, you know, software application for software companies is a really important markup type. Event schema is extremely important. If you sell tickets or do anything in terms of not a lot of this is happening right now. But if you do anything around events, event schema is really important. recipe schema is also really important. So if you’re a food site, having your recipes display in Google properly, or having voice instructions to your Google Home is really important. So it’s almost every category, there’s structured data that’s applicable.

Casey Stanton
I didn’t consider that for recipe. So sure, for recipes. If you search Google for like a mohito recipe, you’ll see little cards of those recipes that exists that Google pulls from different websites. And they’re pulling that information in a standardized way that pulls from the structured data. Is that right?

Geoff Atkinson
Yep, exactly. So then how do you want your recipe to display and one of those cards, then we need to have really good structured data?

Casey Stanton
And how does how does this get to Google Home though? So there’s additional piece of structured data for all voice, whatever assistance.

Geoff Atkinson
So if you think about voice, say you told your google home or whatever device you said, you know, give me instructions to do a mojito or whatever. And it’ll actually give you step by step instructions. And we’ll say like, next step, next step. And all that’s doing is actually it’s taking one of those recipes that you have that you can actually see on Google when you when you search for a mojito recipe, it’s just reading back the instructions. So that’s kind of how Voice Search works. It’s, it’s just reading you the answer. It’s taking that rich enhancement and just reading it to you. And so that’s how the voice sort of search algorithm works today.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that seems like it has a lot of validity for a lot of different businesses. And you mentioned on the e commerce side, so if anyone’s in e commerce, they need to have structured data. And is it like templatized? On each, like, individual product plus category?

Geoff Atkinson
Yep. Yep. So a category would list all the products, a product page would have, you know, the name of the product, the price, the reviews, average review, rating, the description. And so when you see when you search for a product, and you see actually the probably the most used, as you’ll see the little five stars, you know, four and a half stars, whatever the flow through, that’s being powered by structured data. And that really helps click through rates and things like that. So yeah, product structure data is also it’s really kind of necessary. Most ecommerce platforms have it, some ecommerce platforms actually have a built in like, Shopify has some sort of pretty basic but solid structured data built in. So if you’re using Shopify, you probably already have a decent amount of structured data. But yeah, it’s a it’s a important factor. We did a ton of it at overstock, and it really moved the needle.

Casey Stanton
On that makes sense. So this, this brings up to me a thought that Google wants to prioritize the listings that just follow the rules. It’s kind of what you’re asking everyone to do here, like nothing here seems outrageous. You’re just saying, tell Google exactly what you’re doing. So Google can deliver it effectively. Is that right?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, I mean, we have a pretty simple business model, we say, Listen to Google what they want, and just give them what they want. You give them what they want, they reward you. unstructured data is exactly like that something that they really want and helps their users and helps them understand the internet. So let’s just give it to them.

Casey Stanton
And for the user here, it’s like, when when you tell Google something, you have to say it in such a way that they understand it, and understanding how they understand is important. So structured data makes a lot of sense to me in that way. And I’ve looked at structured data and I’ve looked at like, the the XML, the code that comes from it, or is it HTML, whatever, but it’s like, it’s, it’s a real bear to hand code. I would imagine doing that for an e commerce site would just be, like near impossible.

Geoff Atkinson
It’s a lot of work. Yeah, it’s JSON was the language that’s a JSON LD is their preferred language. You can just sort of flat code it into HTML. But JSON is, is the language they prefer and basically create this little packet of information, JSON packet of information that sits on top of each page on the site. You They come in crawl that you understand each page, you know a lot more clearly than they did before.

Casey Stanton
Okay, so so I want to, I want to go into crawling here. So one of the things that you told me before this call was that Google has limited resources for crawling, have a crawl budget. Talk to me about that. What is it? What does that mean?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, so Google doesn’t crawl everything. They crawl based on domain authority and page authority. And so they’ll only put so much resources into a page. And what’s really changed when it comes to crawling is JavaScript and the use of JavaScript. So JavaScript is found almost on every page on the internet. And Google can’t crawl jaal JavaScript content with their normal HTML crawler that they’ve used. So as more and more content has become dynamically generated through JavaScript, or using stuff like react, they struggle to crawl it. And so instead of crawling it, they, when they come across JavaScript, they kick it to what they call a rendering queue. And a rendering queue is a lot like your Chrome browser, it’s actually the same technology as your Chrome browser. It’s a developer’s tool called chromium. And it actually has to load that JavaScript, and then crawl it. And that takes a lot of resources for them. So as soon as they hit JavaScript, they’re putting it into their rendering queue, which can take, you know, for our site, we’ve tested it took us like four weeks to get indexed with with through that rendering queue. And it’s prioritized by PageRank, and all those things. But it’s really laborious for them. And so they now introduce this thing called dynamic rendering, which allows you to actually give them an alternate crawling experience. That is like a copy of the site. And that’s what Huckabuy is taken advantage of. I know we’ll probably get to that next. But yeah, crawling people, because you don’t, unless you’re like a hardcore SEO, and you’re logging into Search Console every day. And you’re like, doing a lot of analytics on this. People don’t realize how, like their own, what they call indexation problems, so that, that Google’s not properly crawling them. So you might be making all this content. And it’s either taking weeks for Google to crawl, or they’re just not crawling it at all. And that’s a huge problem. For from an SEO perspective, you’re just not getting credit. And people just don’t there’s not enough insights out there that are like, hey, red flag, you’re not getting crawled properly. You know, people will be it’s sort of like a black box right there. Like, I think there might be a problem here. Like even a good SEOs are like, they’ll start a new company I like, yeah, I think we have an indexation problem. I think we have like 250,000 pages, but we only have 50,000 pages indexed. There’s something going on here. But they’re always sort of guessing. And so it’s this, it’s it is a problem. And we almost every single customer before they work with us, it’s a problem. And so there’s solutions now, and that’s a that’s a technical challenge to basically solve that problem. So PageSpeed forever, for example, like Google only spend so much time crawling your site, and then they’re gone. So if your page speeds instantaneous, and super fast, they’ll probably get to every single page. If your page speed slow, though, they’ll just get to a fraction of your site and to move, move on. So they don’t, they don’t like go through and count the number of pages and make sure they hit everything, they actually will only spend so much time crawling your site before they just leave. And so slow sites. And that’s why you always hear them pushing for PageSpeed, constantly, like PageSpeed, PageSpeed. php. And they kind of use it as the reason they say is because it’s a better user experience, but their real reason is selfish, and that they’re just, they can’t crawl your site if your page speed slow, and they can’t get the information that they need. So they rewarded both in their algorithm.

Casey Stanton
That’s just like the notion that we’ve always been told, right? PageSpeed is for the user. Because if you don’t load fast enough, people are just going to drop off. But then you’re saying on top of that Google doesn’t have the resources or doesn’t want to invest the resources to crawl slow sites. Makes a ton of sense.

Geoff Atkinson
It’s just impossible for them. You know, they, if you think about how much money it would cost them just to like, and they crawl more than anybody, you know, they’re like 10 times, crawling more often than being is so yeah, it’s a big problem for them. And JavaScript is like the biggest offender. People don’t think about, you know, if I put a chat box on my site, and it’s powered by JavaScript, like what does that do for Google, but Google like hates chat boxes, they don’t get any value out of them. They trip up on them every time they come to a site with a with a with a chat box. And so yeah, they they’re basically they’re selfishly proponents of PageSpeed and i don’t i don’t blame them. It’s it makes their life a lot easier when the sites are fast.

Casey Stanton
A huge takeaway here for anyone listening is go check out your page speed and ensure that it’s fast enough and tell me what’s the best way for someone to test their PageSpeed.

Geoff Atkinson
So there’s two great tools. One is just Google’s PageSpeed Insights, just drop a URL in. And then there’s a developer’s tool that will actually like teach you how to fix the problems that’s called Google lighthouse. And Google lighthouse is what we use, we actually have, we just launched the PageSpeed product, that’s really cool. We went personally from ad hoc about we went from a score of so they sort of scored on a scale of zero to 100. Hundred is super fast. zeros like not even functioning, we went from a 42, which is actually pretty good to a 97. So our PageSpeed is now like, instantaneous, has made all the difference in the world. But it is, it’s like a really important, it’s probably the most undervalued metric in marketing, in my opinion, is PageSpeed. We used to actually measure it on on our executive scorecard. At overstock, it was so important. But very, very few companies even like know what their PageSpeed is, which is a problem. It’s a very undervalued metric.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. Okay, cool. So PageSpeed, something to focus on. And then yeah, get the resolution and the resolution is going to be unique to the individual site, it might be the actual servers that you’re on and might be GE zip compression, it might be image sizes, it might be all sorts of different stuff. So there’s no one single fix that you would recommend correct?

Geoff Atkinson
Oh, yeah, there are a few, you know, fixes that that work for everybody. But it is typically a pretty unique problem in images are a major offender. JavaScripts, a major offender. Now, once you start looking at it, you’ll see what you got to do.

Casey Stanton
Cool. Okay, so I think now we have an understanding of technical SEO and SEO in general, tell me like, what’s gonna happen here in 2021. And I’ve even heard rumors that Google is rolling out some small updates already towards their 2021 major search algorithm update.

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, so this is an interesting time in that Google has never really announced an algorithm update this far in advance, which kind of gives you a sense, that’s probably going to be a big one. So they call it the page experience algorithm update. And it’s pretty much solely focused on PageSpeed. And the user experience, they’ll go from one metric, which is the Google lighthouse metric, as a factor in that algorithm, that three metrics that are all sort of revolved around this time to interaction and PageSpeed. And you know, what the user experiences, it’s a really, what’s even more interesting is they actually delayed it. So it was supposed to be this year. But because of COVID, which I find kind of interesting, they moved it back. And they just basically didn’t want to disrupt the economy. So it’s big enough to disrupt the economy. So it’s probably going to be a pretty big factor in our so these three factors, these three metrics that they’re going to use, we actually built our product, our page speed product, to affect those three numbers. And so our, our product is built for this algorithm updates, we’re trying to get our customers ahead of the curve. And every Keep in mind, every single algorithm update that Google does, you always hear about the losers, you know, the people that dropped and got crushed by it. But to every loser, there’s a winner, and you just want to be on the side of the winners. And you want to so we see it always algorithm updates as opportunities to to jump the competition. And so we basically, you know, try to align our customers to where Google’s going. And that way, you know, they grow as a result of algorithm updates. So it’s a big one coming down the pipe. They are starting to roll out little pieces of it. But I think it’s not going to hit till early 2021. But now’s the time to really work on your page speed and your user experience, but specifically Page Speed, because this algorithm update i think is going to be a big one.

Casey Stanton
Yeah. And so PageSpeed is something to take into account. Just what are the things that you’re seeing, like, what’s the writing on the wall? What’s Google saying they’re going to do and what’s the risk of not taking action

Geoff Atkinson
So the best way to actually they’re very open and honest about this one. So you can actually just search for, you know, Google 2021 update, and there’s their own information about it. And then there’s like the experts takes. So like, Search Engine Journal has a big article about it. So they’re pretty upfront and honest about what they’re doing. And they’re, you know, so it’s worth time to read that and just sort of get a sense of, alright, this is where they’re going. And here are the factors that I need to improve on.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, awesome. And this would fall into the hands of a technical person at a company. Right? So this isn’t necessarily an SEO that would be doing this work. It would be more the developers behind your website. Is that correct?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, whoever like, owns the website from a technical perspective. That’s his following. They’re in their camp.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, wow. So okay, what’s the implication of not taking action? What’s the implication of hearing this and being like?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, you could just take a hit in your organic traffic, you know, if organics a important channel to you and it drives a lot of business for you, you know, that could be knocked down 50%, you know, worst case, well, could be worse. It could be, you know, 75% of your traffic goes away. I don’t know how dramatic it’s going to be I get the sense, it’s going to be pretty dramatic, just how much they’re talking about it. So yeah, there’s a risk if you don’t start preparing that you’re gonna lose organic search traffic. And if that’s important part of your business, or you want it to be an important part of your business, it’s a good time to take action.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that makes sense. So what I’m also thinking, though, is if someone doesn’t take action, they don’t heed your advice, and 2021 happens and they get whacked. They’re going to have to take your advice, then, in order to get back to where they were. Right?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, quickly. Yeah, there’s and that’s how algorithm updates have historically gone is that people are very reactive towards them. And the SEO community is very reactive towards them. We try the opposite. We try to be predictive and out ahead of the curve. And I think, because Google’s sort of talking about this one a bit more. People are starting to do that. But I think there’s still going to be the case where you know, it’s just going to happen, and people won’t even really like realize that they haven’t prepared enough for it. And so it’ll be, you know, sort of a, it’ll be an interesting few days when it happens. So, yeah, great time to get ahead of it right now.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, it seems like it. And I think the best way to do that is to get an analysis. And you mentioned that you’d be able to give anyone listening to this a free opportunity analysis of their website. Can you tell me more about what that offer is?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah, of course. So we just have a nice, you know, freebie that we give to podcast listeners. You can sign up for it on our site. And there’s a few things that we give you obviously, we give you like the technical analysis and like, how is your page speed? How much would it get better? dynamic rendering. We do like how well is your site being crawled? Could you take advantage of the Huckabuy cloud and, and get your site better indexed? We also look at a few competitors and sort of see what the competitive landscape looks like. So it’s a nice value add like we don’t charge anything for it. It just sort of gives you the lay of the land and tells you how am I doing? And is there room for improvement? Are you you know, all set and good to go. So yeah, nice freebie. For listeners, we love doing podcasts and podcast listeners are just the best. They’re usually very informed and knowledgeable. And so we want to make sure we take care of them.

Casey Stanton
Awesome. So for them to grab that they’re gonna go to https://huckabuy.com/cloud/dashboard/. Does that sound right?

Geoff Atkinson
Yeah. Or just the homepage is fine.

Casey Stanton
Yep. Okay, great. So that’s Huckabuy.com. Alright, Geoff, I learned a lot today. So the first thing that I learned is just how significant that 2021 update is going to be. And I pulled up a Search Engine Land article on it. And it seems very clear kind of what you have to do on some individual metrics. So I appreciate that advice. And that’s got a fire lit under me to make sure that the people that we’re working with, stay kind of ahead of that algorithm update. Now the big thing I learned was how important structured data is on different websites, including e commerce. And I think that your tool sounds like a nice shortcut for folks, if they have a website that has e commerce or if they just generally want to do structured data, which I think if he did pretty accurately that they must do that. And last night, the value of SEO, I’m just reminded that the value of SEO here is so much higher than just getting to the top of Google with a paid ad. Anyone can run a paid ad. But to earn that place at the top of Google, it’s a long term effort, and it’s definitely worth it. And then that will pay dividends over time. It’s a great reminder of the long term and marketing. I think so often we can get caught up in the, the shiny, the sexy, the new, the different. And SEO is one of those things that if you can remain in the top over time, you’re going to win more often. And you have to, you know, heed the advice of experts like Geoff to make sure that you’re doing the right things on your website to get and stay in that top position. So Geoff, is there anything else that you want to share as like a final parting word before we close?

Geoff Atkinson
Now, this has been great. Thank you so much for having me on. And yeah, I appreciate the time.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for being on