How to Uncover SEO Opportunities in an Acquisition

I had a buyer recently tell me: “I don’t trust SEO traffic. You can’t change it. I only trust paid acquisition channels.”

Times certainly have changed since just a few years ago.

A lot of buyers look at natural SEO traffic as untrustworthy ever since the major index updates of Panda, penguin, and hummingbird. Others see SEO as a much more difficult (and possibly more expensive) avenue towards traffic. And some buyers think that the relevance of SEO will be discounted with new voice-enabled searches and paid advertising pushing natural search rankings down Google’s SERPs.

In this conversation with Corey Northcutt, we discuss the future of SEO, whether there is a good opportunity for buyers to exploit SEO opportunities, and what he would look out for on the SEO front before buying any online business.

Episode Highlights

  • Can we trust SEO long-term? Where is it going, and can you build a business on SEO traffic?
  • What key SEO factors should you look at before buying an online business
  • Google’s primary goal, and why it is good for business owners
  • Why SEO traffic will always beat paid traffic
  • Why the major Google updates (Panda, Penguin, etc) were a good thing (and still are a good thing)
  • Will paid ads continue to push organic rankings out of SERPs?
  • Are voice-based search devices going to destroy SEO?
  • Click through rates for top rankings in organic listings vs. paid listings

Transcription

Joe:        Hey Mark, how are you doing today?

Mark:    Doing great.

Joe:        I understand you recorded a podcast with Corey Northcutt and it was all about SEO.

Mark:    That’s right so Corey and I know each other through Young Entrepreneurs Council which is a great collection of entrepreneurs, some of the best resources that you can find online for anybody that is an entrepreneur out there and is looking for good networking opportunities. You do have to meet certain thresholds in order to join and Corey obviously hits those. I’ve used his services for another business of mine and was really really impressed with what he had to offer. Brad who works with us is actually the one who first recommended him to me. This guy has been working in the online world and SEO capacity forever. I mean he’s a dinosaur in the SEO world, knows a ton about SEO. And one of the questions I posed for him and I really wanted to drill down on this podcast was whether or not there is value at all in SEO anymore from a buy in standpoint; in other words can it be trusted? I had a buyer tell me just a few weeks ago we were talking on the phone about one of the businesses I was representing and he wanted to know where our customers are coming from on the websites and I said well he’s got good rankings and then he also does paid. And he came back and he told me and said I don’t really care about the organic rankings because I can’t control that at all. In fact all I care about is a paid acquisition channel. I think we hear that more and more from people that they trust that paid acquisition channel more than the organic channel. But I think it’s almost an overreaction and there’s a lot of opportunity being lost because everyone focuses just on the paid and just use the organic just has a sort of bonus to everything else. The couple of the topics that we addressed in this podcast is whether or not the future of SEO is going to be strong. You know we have more and more devices being added for voice-based search. We have the paid creep that’s been happening on organic rankings where organic listings are being pushed down the page. And so this is really kind of a step back to look at your online business and say should I be focusing on SEO, what’s the opportunity here with SEO as well.

Joe:        Okay so I’m not going to say whether I think you know you should be focused on it or not. What I can say is that a business with multiple traffics of multiple channels of revenue is worth a lot more money and from my experience a long time ago SEO was a long term game. I survived the Penguin updates, Panda update … actually I sold before the Penguin Update but it didn’t matter because I didn’t know anything about link building anyway. All I did was good quality content over a long period of time and I was rewarded. It’s a lot more complicated than that I think. So I’m really excited to see what Corey has to say. Let’s go ahead listen.

Mark:    Well one second, I’m going to give away a bit of a teaser on this and that is something that you said; I think what you said is perfect because it is the sense that a lot-

Joe:        Did you say that what I said was perfect just now?

Mark:    Dude, don’t let it get to your head. Yeah it was actually perfect because a lot of people think that SEO is more complex. They think it’s complicated. They think that it’s a nut that’s very difficult to crack. And a lot of us, especially those who have been around through the panda, penguin, hummingbird, you know all these sort of updates; animal updates that happened look at a SEO and like my goodness you can’t trust this. Look what happened back then it got completely destroyed. One of the big takeaways from this and Corey gets into this is that SEO now is more predictable than it’s ever been. Google’s gotten better at what they’re doing so they don’t need to shake things up as much anymore. Now is a little bit harder to rank; sure because Google has done a better job of putting good information in front of people. But rankings are more stable now than they’ve ever been before. And so you need big takeaway is that while it’s somewhat complex there’s a huge opportunity because people like you and I have kind of looked at SEO as that thing as a bonus out there.

Joe:        From a buyer’s point of view what you just said might be very valuable. You know it takes … it’s harder to rank now and so if we’re listening to business and there’s good organic rankings, that in itself could have more value to a buyer. Because most everybody else just cheats to get to the top and you can’t actually do that anymore but if you’re at the top on page one that’s really strong strong value. And I think hopefully in the long run for any business will add more diverse revenue channels which brings its a valuable.

Mark:    All right can we listen to Corey now?

Joe:        Absolutely, let’s go.

Mark:    All right Corey, thank you for joining me on this quick episode here on SEO.

Corey:   Absolutely, thanks for having me.

Mark:    So yeah I know you’ve listened to a couple of the episodes before so you know that we like to have our guests introduce themselves. So why don’t we provide everyone listening here with a background on yourself.

Corey:   Yeah I’d love to. So I’ve been doing SEO for going on 17 years. I’ve been … I guess running business of different shapes and forms for about as long. I came from web hosting and doing different IT brands and now I run an SEO agency called Northcutt.

Mark:    That’s awesome. Yeah and I’ve actually … just full disclosure I have user services in the past but with a lot of the guests that we have here on the Quiet Light Podcast, the people that we’ve use in one cast in another their services so we trust the services, we trust you as far as your … the quality work that you do. And I also know Brad who works with Quiet Light Brokerage; he has used your services quite a bit in the past as well which is how I was referred to you. It was actually through Brad. So that that’s pretty cool. Now you have a past in we posting as well is that right?

Corey:   That’s true. Yeah I started at a provider called Ubiquity that was eventually acquired by LeaseWeb but not before I actually exited the company and sold it back to my business partners.

Mark:    That’s pretty cool, so my background is actually web hosting as well. My first job out of college was with a company called Alabanza Corporation and they were the first ones to create the people know like web hosting manager or cPanel. They were the first ones to actually come out with a cPanel and cPanel’s a competition to Alabanza. And I remember when we developed that the CEO talking about competition told me he’s like I’m not worried about competition, it take … took us years to be able to create our I think he called it the account management [inaudible 00:07:01.2] stupid like that. And of course the temple was already out there so it didn’t take them years to replicate what we were doing and it done quite well; so cautionary tale there. But the first business I sold under Quiet Light Brokerage was a web hosting company, so very familiar with the space. So you sold that, how many businesses have you bought and sold over the years?

Corey:   So I like to call myself a three time founder in all my bios. It’s tough to say though because I have partners and in that I’ve had a lot of failed ventures too. A lot of projects that I’ve spun up or that maybe sold for cheap so it’s been all over the map. I did web hosting. We spun off a data center services brand from that. We had Ventrilo provider called DarkStar Communications which was the largest provider of Ventrilo for quite a while. Most people I think don’t even know what that is anymore.

Mark:    Yeah I’ve never heard of it.

Corey:   It was a big bank for a while. And it wasn’t even my world but it was kids play World of Warcraft, they would need voice chat for that and it sounds insane today we’ve got Zoom and Skype and all these tools that are free but they would pay for it. So you’d have 50 or 100 people on one voice server and you needed tools to manage it. So a lot of different businesses; I kind of created a framework for how I like to build and market them but all in completely different spaces.

Mark:    You know I like to segment Internet entrepreneurs as to those that were started before the panda, penguin days and those that have come into it after because the world is so much different. You know people like you and I that have been in the online world for I’m going on 20 years here since I’ve built my first website. And you know back then and actually back when I started Quiet Light Brokerage, when I decided to start Quiet Light Brokerage what did I do? I went out and I built a website from scratch and then I custom coded an affiliate program in there and that was kind of how I launched everything was me going out coding, designing, launching, doing the SEO; everything top to bottom. And today I mean if you want to start a new site you can still do that but boy it’s so much different today you don’t … you really wouldn’t want to take that approach as much. It’s gotten a lot more complex.

Corey:   It’s true.

Mark:    Yeah. And you seem to come from that sort of past entrepreneur pay and this is a good idea let me see if I can just build this out real quick.

Corey:   Yeah and yet it’s changed so much. Yeah and I have … on one hand I love how quickly you can spend things up like you’ve got Shopify, you see people with stores in 10 minutes; it’s completely insane. On the other hand I feel like a lot of people don’t go as deep with their businesses now. You’ve got projects I can start a company and it might make 500 dollars a month and that’s fine and it … I’ll do 10 of those this week. The mindset has changed.

Mark:    Yeah I know definitely it’s changed quite a bit. So I wanted to have you on to talk about SEO and I’ll tell you kind of the question that spurred this on for me and I think it would be a good start for our discussion here. I was talking to a buyer the other day about one of my clients and he’s Amazon and Magento mixed so he’s got his own websites but you know a good portion of his business comes through Amazon. But we’re looking at the websites because they’re doing really well. Amazon is struggling but the websites are good; really really well. And we’re looking at the host and this buyer was asking where does the client … where did the clients come from, are they coming from organic rankings or they’re coming from paid service or good mature search campaign out there. So I told him well it’s a mix you know there’s really good SEO on the site, there’s room to improve that as well but they also have a paid campaign that they will get. And this buyer almost seemed to dismiss the SEO side and said well I can’t control the SEO world at all, I’m interested in the paid acquisition. And I see this more and more and I think this is kind of the people waking up from the hangover of the panda, penguin which is almost quick as far of be coming up on seven years or something like that; is that right? Seven years is that pretty close?

Corey:   Well-

Mark:    [crosstalk 00:11:06.9] try to also work. It’s been a while since this happened and I think people have really adjusted their mindset to not trusting SEO at all. So my question to you and to ask in behalf of everyone that out there looking to buy an online business, can you trust SEO and can you build or grow a business on the back of SEO and have it be sustainable?

Corey:   Oh my God Yes. So there is one question that has been around since I feel like SEO began which is where this is going, it … can I trust it long term, and I think Google’s actually been very transparent about what they want to accomplish. As much as we’ve had different updates like Panda, and Penguin, Hummingbird, chip things up to there’s been quite a few but Google’s always been forthcoming. And I feel like most of the media out there sensationalizes what’s happening and it does a disservice to business owners. Because … and what does Google really care about? They want to reward an experience that is naturally relevant, popular, and enjoyable; that’s it. And they’ve been working towards this goal for all of this time and I don’t think it goes away. There is never going to be a point to where a better experience is paid advertising for what they deliver. If they ever reach that point I think all bets are off. I think somebody disrupts them; being or somebody else overtakes them. There’s no way people want that. It is a better experience when it’s not simply rented. So that doesn’t go away it’s just they keep it iterating towards getting better at what they set out to do. Like we talk about that pre-panda, pre-penguin world, I think it did a lot of good. I look back at how I did SEO back then and you know it was a little gray. It was hard to … like that was the conversation we were having with people. It’s like I think we should be as white hat as possible. At that time I feel like that that was a source of a lot of that grand fish can spam. At the time he was not getting very much respect from professional SEO’s and he was saying no, completely white hat, don’t mess with anything, no schemes, no link real pyramid tetrahedron. Yeah like I’m sure you’ve seen all the different diagrams and wacky ideas that people were coming up with back then and that panda made him correct that just overnight everything shifted and it was like well yeah they finally got better and they really are rewarding people that aren’t going against Google like do you want to work with them.

Mark:    Let me play devil’s advocate a little bit here and argue against SEO. Now this is not my personal position. I actually agree with you. I think there’s a ton of opportunity in SEO and I actually think the world is a … the SEO world is a lot more stable today than it was back in the pre updates of pre-panda, penguin, hummingbird updates mainly because the results are better and Google is still having a better experience and before it was very easy to came, the search engines. You were doing grey hat, I was doing grey hat, everybody was doing grey hat back then. But anyways let me play devil’s advocate. Two changes that people look at and they see it as encroaching on the organic SEO. One would be the number of paid listings that show up above the fold on Google and where organic rankings start to be pushed down. And two voice enabled search. Let’s start with the first one here the placement of organic rankings. I have another business that I own and I absolutely absolutely hate bidding on my brand keyword. Because it’s my brand keyword, I show up number one, I show up number two, I show up number three, but if I don’t bid on it I I’ve got four other people bidding on my brand and they’re above me. So from that standpoint has SEO become less valuable for business owners or is that a trend that you think is going to continue where paid listings push out the organic rankings?

Corey:   I don’t and in fact I … you know I saw the same trends. And by the way if somebody just for the benefit of listeners, if somebody is pushing you out that way on your branded searches if they mention you by name you can file a trademark request with Google and get them shut down. It … they’re still able to use your brand name as a keyword but it can water down their messaging if somebody is getting too aggressive with that. So I don’t see it going too much further and yeah that was a big story each time Google has experimented with expanding the ad block but there’s data on quick relates that’s out there. Rand Fishkin actually threw his new startup SparkToro all those Jumpshot’s analysis on this and it’s incredible how many people still click on organic overpaid. The overwhelming majority still click on organic across the board even in the most extreme like biased examples I’ve seen. I actually just sent out our quarterly here a few weeks ago that looked at this AAReps had their own click through rate data of tons of searches that they’ve scraped and in their example they said the maximum went up to 46% with click on ads. Up to is the operative word there I think that’s the most extreme example. It’s 46% where you know it’s a branded, your brand is number one; obviously, that’s what they wanted. We’re going to click that sure but the Jumpshot data said 3% was their average. So somewhere between 3% and 46% are clicking on paid ads. It’s still the minority and I don’t see that ever changing.

Mark:    3% to 46% is pretty broad.

Corey:   It is pretty broad. The average is three.

Mark:    Okay.

Corey:   But yeah.

Mark:    That’s amazing. Yeah and in the example I have we have a lot of brand confusion in our space and my main competitor has been very very good at causing brand confusion. So it’s a personal annoyance for me right now, my personal mission to get them out of that number one spot even though I’m losing money on it.

Corey:   Not this.

Mark:    Yeah. So that’s interesting. I would have tend to agree that there’s only so much real estate that they’re going to give to the ad spot, to those ad blocks because it’s … they have been focused from day one on that user experience. So they want users especially brand searches to be able to find the brand that they’re looking for. What about voice enabled search? I know for myself and if I want to find out some quick data or whatever I’ve got a Google Pixel Phone I just give a little squeeze and Google’s system comes up and I just ask it the question and more and more it’s becoming intelligent in giving the response. More and more it’s taking those responses of course from other websites and so they aren’t getting any of the traffic to that. This wouldn’t be so much a concern for e-commerce sites but for content sites I mean is this something to be looking out for and maybe something that’s going to encroach on their opportunities in the future?

Corey:   Yeah there is definitely demographics that are going to be hit by this. You and I talked about famous quotations here a week ago in how that is an industry that got hit pretty hard by Panda. I think the nuance is any short simple information is going to have a hard time. Like just the example from last month, Google actually started returning no results searches and people asked for the time of day. And there was a website that was timeanddate.com it ranked number one for all of these and I’m sure they were raking in a lot of AdSense doing it, not probably great ads for those people but still it was working for them in the moment. So there are really nuanced types of businesses that I think buyers should probably be a little wary of. If it doesn’t give deep information it can’t be [inaudible 00:19:11.5] by a simple answer from Google. But if it does go deeper I think it goes outside the scope of what Google can accomplish with voice search because it’s going to be complex. There’s going to be value in multiple results then so that’s [inaudible 00:19:26.1].

Mark:    Okay well you know I think that’s a fair answer. I think when you ask Google a question, if it’s a quick answer like time and date that makes sense. But if you’re asking how to replace a sprinkler head, Google might give you a short response but you’re not looking for a three step process for that. You’re probably looking for pictures or video or more in depth you know of your in-depth guide. And so getting that response is actually a good thing, getting that being that featured response at Google will probably be a good thing because more people are going to click through to your page right?

Corey:   Yup and there’s also still value being lost right now from what they call no click searches. Where maybe you appear within the knowledge card, like the top of the results; people see your brand, they see that it’s from you; they don’t click through and see your analytics. But at some point who cares, if they still saw your brand you still helped them, and they still see then you may have accomplished what you set out to you anyway. It’s just not going to be attributed as well.

Mark:    Right; of course. I get it the top of funnels sort of just brand awareness and awareness to your brand, what’s better to vouch for you than Google right?

Corey:   Right.

Mark:    If Google’s going to feature you on their search result page that’s a pretty good thing and if people don’t know what I’m talking about here do you have an example that you know off the top your head where a knowledge card will show up.

Corey:   Recipes are a big one now. I don’t know any exactly at the top of my head but-

Mark:    Well didn’t … wasn’t there that one for a while which was why are fire engines red; do you remember seeing that?

Corey:   I think that so, it sounds familiar.

Mark:    Yeah if people haven’t looked at this, do a search for why are fire engines red and take a look at what the response is. They may have updated it since I last did it but it was just somebody had the game of the knowledge card and it was kind of a crazy response.

Corey:   Yeah, but it’s still not that hard to do.

Mark:    So I … okay so if I already had, you can’t leave with that not go into it.

Corey:   Well we know what their data sources are so yeah you can … what Google is not good at is understanding what you’re telling it, and that’s what they’re working on back checking right? Being able to actually understand is this good and not are these words here and phrase didn’t maybe kind of mean something. And that’s what I think they’ll improve that maybe next. I think it’ll take a while because they’re still behind what a lot of the articles give them credit for now if you like but we do know which way they’re going. There’s an analogy. I love Aj Kohn as an SEO blogger; his company is called The Blind Five Year Old because that’s how he perceives Google still. Kind of hyperactively bouncing out of your sight not really knowing what it’s doing but they are still moving in a direction that makes sense. And with the knowledge cards there’s different sources of data where I mean you can literally just put it in and hope that Google crawls it. So you can update Wikidata at wikidata.org put in some bunk information and sure they might index it. They might see that it’s not that hard to fool it.

Mark:    That’s funny. All right well I got some pressing question to get to here. Even though this is fascinating and would be fun to explore all the idiosyncrasies of the world of Google but let’s talk about, let’s put ourselves in a position of a buyer looking to acquire a business and I want to have more opportunities for SEO and how to uncover some of those and where some of the mistakes are. But before we do that let’s talk about due diligence side of things. So he’s looking to buy a business, it receives a good amount of traffic from natural organic rankings. What are some of the things that people should be looking out for when doing due diligence? For example private blog networks, are these still something to look out for or are there other things that you may want to caution people on inspecting before they do an acquisition?

Corey:   Right so without a doubt I would never buy any website without looking at its backlink portfolio. There are basically two arms of SEO right, you’ve got what happens on the website and off of it. I’m not so concerned about what’s happening on the website. I know just based on my background I can probably make it a lot better. But I know that it’s not a danger zone, the links are. So first are they trending upwards that’s a good sign; bad links tend to get moderated. It makes sense, if somebody spams a whole bunch of forums or blogs they use a piece of software, it’s going to get turned away and their Google patents that talk about this as a signal. Like if somebody blasts 100,000 links and all of a sudden they disappear I immediately know something’s wrong. And even if something’s not wrong if they had a good reason for that to happen, I still haven’t really seen one, but if they did it … that pattern looks really bad. So that’s the first thing, okay I guess I start to dig into it and I start to look for schemes like you mentioned; are there link wheels, are there … you mentioned that you and I are pre-Panda people a little bit here. I’ve … I know the schemes because I’ve used the schemes. I’ve tried the schemes and I know what all of them look like. There’s any of maybe a dozen which might go beyond our time right now but-

Mark:    So with some of these schemes how would somebody identify these? Obviously link patterns so seeing declining back wings would be an example of things being moderated away from low quality sites or even high quality sites where it’s been spammed to a public place. But for like a Link Wheel or a PBN, are there tools that you would recommend somebody use for this or is it really just something where you need to hire somebody like you to be able to help identify these schemes?

Corey:   Sure. Well I won’t go so far as to say someone has to hire me but I do have a lot of skepticism in the tools only because we see them throw a lot of false positives. They do good things too but I’ve got a team that’s used every backlink auto link tool I think at this point and they’re flawed certainly. Especially when you pair them with the activity of disavowing links which is usually the natural next step. When you find bad links people tend to use the disavow form in Google Search Console and that’s irreversible so it’s really really dangerous. We’ve very frequently been approached by people that ran an automated link audit, got a lot of terrible advice, disavowed a lot of good links, their rankings went away, and they need help and all we can say is well now you’ve just got to rebuild like you shouldn’t have done this. That was a bad idea. So I think it’s just about recognizing the schemes and the most overarching witness test in my mind is does this double as good marketing. Sometimes it’s just a completely automated site like you see a lot of these like statistics websites, and he ways websites, those big automated plays. I would usually say if a site links to every site on the internet which you can usually see, like is it linking to every domain alphabetically; you see that a lot on the backlink tools. I don’t worry about those. I don’t think you should disavow those because that’s not a scheme. That’s not a pattern that you want out and will and that’s a flaw in every auditing tool I’ve used. So I wouldn’t worry about those. I also wouldn’t worry about anything that is editorially relevant. Like is it editorial, a guest post, a press release, a mention of any kind really that happened from a human but if it didn’t and you can usually tell by this kind of thumbing through the side a little bit that usually means that your link is appearing besides other schemes. And if a link is really easy to get that by definition kind of makes it a bad link which is counterintuitive right? You’ve got all these SEO services that are offering fast easy links for everybody. That’s flawed because if it’s really for anybody that means that you’re link appears besides porn sites you know fill affiliates like all sorts of really kind of sketchy looking stuff. It shouldn’t be easy for everybody and that’s really the way to tell it I think.

Mark:    So something that we see with Quiet Light Brokerage in our backlink profile is we’ll get a piece published informs or entrepreneur or in [inaudible 00:27:36.5 a good piece and obviously we love those backlinks. But then sure enough there is these really low quality sites that will take that article that blog post and they’ll republish it and you know it’s just a complete spammy site. You can tell that there’s never a human that has touched that site other than initially [inaudible 00:27:55.7]. Are those backlinks, if somebody is doing a backlink analysis on the site and they see some good high quality backlinks but then they see a whole bunch of copycats stuff is that anything to worry about in your opinion?

Corey:   It depends a little bit on the site. If they’re purely just scraping forbes, I’d say well today link back because if they do it reminds me a little bit of press indication which is perfectly natural and it’s a signal that I think any grown up brand is going to have. Like you’ve got basically every publicly traded companies running out regular press releases so if I put on my … like if I’m Google Ad that actually looks okay. But if it’s a really low quality site you might see them also doing other shady stuff so you might have to look at their backlink portfolio and kind of pick apart what they’re doing.

Mark:    Okay fair enough that is good advice. And if anybody is listening to this and you’re completely lost as far as what Corey is talking about here I’m sure you could reach out to him and get a little bit more insight into some of these things. The world of SEO is kind of this big old rabbit hole, you can understand on a very basic level or you can get into [inaudible 00:29:02.3] sort of the more nuanced stuff. In which case you’re talking about link wheels and different types of shapes as far as linking patterns which I’ve  thrown most of that out the window years ago when I started seeing a lot of the updates come through. So and I want to talk about that you know we talked a lot about backlinks and backlink profiles, it’s been my perception and please correct me you are the expert in this not me, it’s my perception that backlinks haven’t been so much devalued as might have been surpassed or might have … might be having other ranking indicators kind of come up alongside backlinks as being important. And one of the ones I’ve seen has been topic coverage, topical coverage on a page. So an example of that would be we have a blog post on I want the Seller’s Discretionary Earnings well we also want to cover not only what a Seller’s Discretionary Earnings but what does it mean for an Accrual Basis versus Cash Basis Accounting and you know what is Net Income, what is Gross Revenue because these are related topics to the one thing so having all that content now is a good signal to Google. In my correct or incorrect or off based when I say that the backlinks while still important are playing alongside some of these other newer ranking factors?

Corey:   Yeah I mean you’d be correct in saying On Page matters more and in more nuanced ways. It’s tough to weigh like do links matter less because links are infinite really. On page is still finite so I think in that math equation links can never matter less because you can always do more with links. You can’t always do more with your site so that makes that equation interesting. But yeah since the Hilltop Algorithm which I believe was written by Krishna Bharat, he published a paper that it’s actually really old but it was pre-Panda by a lot and it broke down I think what they’ve been building upon for a really long time which for the first time defined what they call topical experts. And if you really dig into the paper it appears to be talking about domains as experts and they played but there’s a little bit you know you had authorship of Google+ I think was one sort of riff on that idea of trying to figure out who really knows about a topic. And around that time SEO’s like crazy with the concept of relevance. People are saying well you only want links from relevant sites. I think that’s bunk because well do I not want to link from CNN they don’t … they’re not an SEO website, obviously I do, obviously that’s still a good link. But there’s more value if I get somebody from within my space on average. So it’s just one more metric, it’s a little bump I feel like in their favor if they’re relevant or if you’re relevant. They’re looking at the themes throughout your site definitely. So to your point yeah that exact same idea, the more you cover a topic the more I think your ratio of expertise is strengthened there. And for the same reason Mike & Mitch E-commerce Shop should absolutely be able to outrank Amazon. They’re generic, they don’t have that focus and we see that a lot.

Mark:    That seems to be a recurring theme of this podcast here; how to be Amazon at their own game. And I’ve talked to so many e-commerce business owners who get frustrated by … when they put their own listings up on Amazon and all of a sudden Amazon’s outranking their niche store. But I think your point of if you have good topical coverage on your site, if you’re doing … if you’re making sure the on page is right you should be able to outrank Amazon because it is a specialized site. And that actually said was a really nice link into the final section I want to cover and that is opportunities for pretty much any buyer when you’re looking to acquire an online business opportunities in SEO. I see huge opportunities with most of the stuff I look at and working on the on page SEO, what are a few areas in your opinion that people should look at when they’re looking to grow the SEO presence of either an e-commerce shop or a SAS business or a content business but really kind of looking at that a SEO portion, what are a few areas that are common pieces of low hanging fruit that you see?

Corey:   Sure. Well since Panda there are a lot more diamonds in the rough I feel like that just have broken on page SEO and the poster case study going all the way back was Danny Webb right? Everyone was talking about Danny Web which was one of the biggest tech forms, they lost easily all their rankings when Panda first hit and they managed to recover by removing what people later called thin content. Which were just pages that might have fifty words on the page, it was all the different individual profiles that people had, there were millions of them. Most of them were a bad search engine experience. So when I see a site that has a lot of pages that don’t offer value to Google but don’t carry the no index tag, the media tag, and the source code [inaudible 00:33:56.5] but code in the source that says keep us out of Google’s index. I know well hey I can do that and overnight strengthen the stuff I want to keep and cut out the stuff that’s just never going to be of any value and that’s going to help a lot. I also look for sites that don’t have a keyword strategy, sites that for whatever reason have never had any links but still enjoyed some organic success. There’s a lot of ways to play this. In total there’s I think a couple hundred ranking factors. I basically just look for a couple that have been 100% neglected because I feel like that’s where people leave the most money on the table basically where I can see a quick one.

Mark:    Yeah, I think again coming back to round out this discussion, I think since the updates and after the updates everybody was scared of organic traffic and understandably so. I mean it was very difficult for a lot of people because they owned a business overnight an update happened and the rankings are gone, revenue is gone. A lot of businesses were built on this kind of shaky SEO and Google’s done a good job of cleaning that up. But people now see the benefit of relying on paid acquisitions. As a result though I think there’s a huge opportunity for buyers to take a look at pretty much any property that is not on Amazon. So any web-based property content sites etcetera etcetera and be able to really grow that business through good SEO practices. As you said looking at keyword strategies are, is there any keyword strategy there, or do they have good topical coverage, are they doing the basics to be able to rank well, and because no one is really doing that or very few people are really doing that on page SEO anymore it’s kind of amazing how quickly it’s fallen out of favor. Yeah so let me ask you if anybody wants to talk to you what’s the best way to reach you?

Corey:   Sure. Well they can pop on our website which is just northcutt.com drop me an email it’s just [email protected]or follow me on Twitter corey_northcutt to be my first name, any of those work.

Mark:    All right good. We’ll all link to those in the podcast page the show notes so everyone can take a look at that. And you know again we don’t get kickbacks from guests or anything like that but we do refer people that we’ve used in the past successfully and the services of yours is definitely a service that I’ve gotten good value out of. I know you did some work for me, I think it was back in October your group did some work for me and those pages are doing quite well now so thank you for that. I never gave you an update on that; they’re doing pretty well.

Corey:   Yeah, sure.

Mark:    Yeah so thanks so much for coming on. I think this is an interesting topic and maybe one that we need to explore again in the future.

Corey:   Oh I’d like that.

Mark:    All right, thanks Corey.

Corey:   Thanks Mark.

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