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For this insightful episode of E- coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Chris Rodgers, Founder & CEO of CSP. Chris delves into the evolution of SEO practices, the impact of AI on content creation, and the strategic challenges and benefits of rebranding. Rodgers emphasizes the critical shift from rankings-centric to business-focused SEO, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between content creators and search engines in an AI-driven landscape.
Watch the episode now for more insights!
Rebranding is difficult, but it can create more jobs if people get tech-savvy.
Hey. Hi everyone. Welcome to your show, E-Coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay here and we have Chris Rodgers with us, who is the CEO and Founder at CSP. Welcome, Chris, to our show.
Hey, good to be here.
Great. Chris, before we move forward and pick your brains on the topics that we’re going to discuss tonight, why don’t you talk more about your journey and what CSP is all about, how it differentiates, and how are you different from the market, and other agencies out there?
Yeah, 100%. So, I’m the founder and CEO of CSP. We are a specialized SEO agency and just had our 11th year in business. We work with anywhere from Enterprise and SMB, B2B, B2C companies, e-commerce, direct to Consumer. Pretty a relatively small and focused team. So we’re like the SEO SWAT team on the team that we have, we have over 100 years of SEO experience, so we’ve got an extremely deep bench. And really what sets us apart from the other leaders in our space is our approach to SEO. We approach SEO with a business-first approach. What that means is that we look to align with our client’s business and organizational goals and create strategies that are aligned with those goals before we do an SEO strategy or SEO research. Ultimately, we’re looking to drive revenue ROI, help our clients penetrate new markets, reach new audiences, create new divisions, new exposure. And then things like rankings and traffic are important. Those are KPIs that should go up, but rankings and traffic aren’t what drives a business. That approach is probably what sets us apart as a team. We do have some proprietary software that we leverage, and certainly, just like everyone, we’re using AI in strategic ways.
But yeah, that’s probably a good background for us. We just hit our 11th year, so we’re now in our twelfth year of business, and it has been quite the journey. We grow every year, we grow. I guess the goal is to grow as much as we can while maintaining the quality of service and quality of life for our employees.
Brilliant. I love that last statement, quality of life for all your employees. That goes to show that you are quite employee-centric. Superb. Great. So your agency has evolved from being this typical SEO-driven organization to a business-centric SEO agency. So could you elaborate on the factors that drove this evolution and how it all started? How does the new brand symbolize this shift and what strategies at CSP do you employ to bridge the gap between SEO and business objectives?
Yeah, when we started, technically, the company was founded in 2012. I worked at another agency based out of Chicago as a senior analyst and as working for them, I just saw that it’s not that they were necessarily cutting corners, but it just seemed like there were better ways of doing things in terms of the approach to SEO. There was technology and tools that were available that weren’t being leveraged. That was my inspiration for starting the company. And when we started, we started here in Colorado. And what we found is that our approach at the time was fairly innovative. While not crazy complicated or that brilliant, it was just ahead of, I think, what was being done. We knocked out some key competitors and quite frankly, grew a lot and tried to hang on to that growth. So there is a history where when the company started, it was about being able to deliver better results, doing a more advanced, forward-thinking way of doing SEO. Right? So that’s how it started. We have some great clients. We hired typically young, smart people out of college. We would teach them SEO. We’re very good at SEO.
What we found is there were a few key events that happened along the way that changed the way that I was thinking and eventually morphed us into what we are today. There were some key projects in the first few years where we were, in our eyes, hitting it out of the park. So we would do keyword research. We would do technical SEO. We do everything that we can do for these clients. And I remember coming back maybe three months to six months in on some of these clients, and we’ve just grown their keyword footprint massively. They’ve got all these rankings. The traffic is going up. Things are just looking great. And I’m excited to go and present this to our clients. So I’d have these meet say, hey, Mr. Customer, look at these results. Like, I’m excited to present this. Your keyword ranking is here. Your traffic is up here. Is this not, like, great? And I had a few customers who looked at me and said, Chris, this is great. I love that we’ve got great keyword rankings and that our technicals are clean, but we’re not making more money. This is not helping our business.
So if we’re going to keep working together long term, we’ve got to find a way that this is helping our business. And those meetings stuck with me. It was like a light bulb and a slap in the face at the same time. That got me thinking that if we don’t find a way to help these businesses outside of what we consider success in SEO, then these relationships are not going to be long-term. They’re going to be short-lived. And more importantly, as a service provider, are we providing value?
So that started the evolution into the direction that we went to today. Over the last probably two and a half, maybe three years, we’ve rebuilt our entire SEO team and the organization and changed the direction of what we want to be and how we want to do SEO. I mentioned we had a lot of young folks, right? We set a new direction and said, you know what? We are going to be a leader in this space. We are going to be professional from top to bottom, from the interactions that our clients have to the project management, to the communication, to put ourselves out there, to say, you know what, we’re not just going to achieve traffic and rankings, we are going to help your business. We’re going to figure out what drives your business, and what are the important goals, and we’re going to use SEO to help you get there. And as we went through this process, what we found is a lot of the folks that we had, it was not a good fit for them anymore. And so we parted ways with a lot of people and we started bringing in veteran talent.
So we’ve got people anywhere from six years of experience on the junior side up to 22 years of SEO experience, where now we can put together strategies that we can accomplish these types of goals. And by and large, it is not easy.
I will say some secret sauce to doing that is that we’re extremely picky with who we take on as clients. Right? So that’s part of it, right? You have to sacrifice. My objective as CEO and owner is not just to scale this as quickly as I can, but to make as much money as I can. It’s to do it the right way so that every project we bring on is a good fit. We feel confident that we’re going to be able to succeed. And when we think there’s a partnership there and we see that, hey, all the things that we think are in place so that we’re going to be able to help this business make money, and then we tell them up front, we’re looking to grow with you. So when we help grow and when we help you grow your revenue, we are going to come back and we’re going to say, okay, what’s the next goal? And spend more with us, and we’re going to help you get there. And we found that this has been a really good fit for us. It’s also a pretty good hedge against AI, in my opinion.
That’s where we’re at today and what we do, and in a lot of ways, it can be harder work and there are things that you can’t control. So there are a lot of pitfalls in there and challenges. But if you can show your clients that you’re helping them achieve goals that are important to the organization, not just rankings and traffic, you cement them as a part. By the way, those conversations go up to key management, the C suite ownership, etc. So that’s been our formula and what we’ve moved into.
Absolutely. You touched upon AI. So AI content is making waves from automated product descriptions to news articles. As for you, how might this impact traditional content creation and SEO practices? And then what strategies should new age or even old age or people who are already there in the content space employ to ensure that AI-generated content, complements human-generated content meets those SEO standards, and maintains a distinct, authentic, and quite resonating as well with the audience or the consumer? Who’s going to consume the content at the end of the day?
Ultimately, these are AI. Today, it is a great tool, and I think that’s how we need to look at it it is a tool that can help us produce better content. It can help us do things more efficiently. But there’s a fine line there where the pitfalls are. If we get lazy with it and if we use it to try to automate more than we should be automating it, if we rely on AI to think, for us, that’s a problem. We as humans need to make sure that we are thinking and we keep thinking throughout this process. And we’re using AI to help us create better products, better outcomes, better outputs, and we’re using it in intelligent ways. I think ultimately that’s the key. On the tactical side, look, you should be paying attention to what’s happening with prompts. What are the different ways that people are using prompts? How are people using it to create content, from ideas to research to outlines, right? But what is going to happen? And I think it’s already happening. You’ve got, I’m sure, spammers on the bottom rungs that from the time Chat GPT got open to the public have been just churning out nonstop, low-quality content in that area.
There’s a race to the bottom, so to speak. A lot of that content may fill in some gaps. In the short term, there’s going to be some money that’s going to be made, but that content is going to fall out of the index, it’s going to fall out of visibility. And ultimately what’s going to rise to the top is higher quality content. The amount of content I think we can agree, is going to exponentially increase because now the barrier to creating that content has just gotten lowered. So what’s going to happen if there are more options for Google to look at and way more mediocre? Mediocre is not going to get visibility, right? It’s going to get replaced by people that are saying, okay, here are the best thoughts and insights and resources that are out there today. How do I create something better to serve this audience that’s seeking to solve this problem, right? So the people who are taking the time to strive to create better outputs, and better content, I think, are ultimately going to rise to the top, and we’ll see where Google goes and where they take Bard and SGE, right?
Hey, that informational content may not be getting direct traffic when we get five years, ten years down the road, but Google’s ultimately got to find a way to give the content creators credit and it’s got to be valuable for them or those content creators aren’t going to keep creating content. So I think there’s a bit of a symbiotic relationship with Google and the content creators. If Google does not respect the content creators, those content creators will take it elsewhere, right?
And then where’s Google’s going to get its answers from? Because if people start blocking Google bot and saying, hey, we’re going to take it to social or we’re going to take it someplace else, google might not get the traffic that it’s getting and all those things, but, yeah, lots is going on in that space today and moving into the future. Yeah.
See, with every new technology, always we had this apprehension in the past. There have been examples, any new technology that comes in, people get scared for their jobs, that the job will be taken, the industry is going to die and all that, but that’s not going to happen. That’s never going to happen. All it can do is create more jobs if people get more acquainted and more tech-savvy. Not only AI but other technologies as well. So it’s on us to revamp ourselves, and learn more, because this is here to stay. And having said all of it, it is never really a finished product. You can get a Kickstart in terms of having that immediate information, which again, you need to verify, but again, it gives you a Kickstart. Yes. Ahead start in terms of if you are late for a task or something. But, yeah, having said that, you have to have that human question and the content because, at the end of the day, it’s going to get consumed by a human and making that final decision to buy a product or show interest in a service, it’s there to stay. It’s just that we have to learn the art and stay relevant.
All it can do is these content creators with the knowledge of chat GPT specialists, can probably expect a pay hike, if not anything else.
Great. And then, Chris, we also wanted to understand that you rebranded your company recently, and it carries significant benefits, but again, it has its challenges. So what has been your experience and what are the pros and cons of rebranding I would not say easy or difficult. It is difficult, we all know that. How difficult was it? What was the thought behind that? First thinking, I’m going to rebrand it and stuff.
Yeah, we’ve been thinking about this for a long time because our brand previously was Colorado SEO Pros. When I created that, I intended to go and attack the local market here in Colorado and started to do that. And then we used SEO as a primary way to build the business. And what we found is very quickly we started becoming a national and international business and our clients were all over the country and we had international clients as well. And so all of a sudden, Colorado wasn’t so relevant. So we made the brand being about our roots and where we based. But by and large, it doesn’t help us when we’re dealing with a Fortune 100 tech company or multimedia company. So that’s been on our minds for a long time. I will say this is what we would categorize as a brand refresh as opposed to a rebrand. The difference that I would say is that P is still very reflective. There are still roots. We still have similar colors, right? You’ll still see Colorado SEO pros in some of our logos, but it’s just I saw that deprioritized, right? Our domain is still Colorado SEO Pros.
But frankly, that’s more of an SEO thing with a complete rebrand. I think there’s got to be a lot of thought going into, okay, what is the mission? What is the ethos? What is this new brand? What does it mean? What does it symbolize? Now how do you go through that and now do the logo and the look and feel? But that being said, even with a brand refresh, there are challenges, right? Some of it is helping explain and communicate to our customers and potential customers what the difference is. A really important part of our brand refresh was the redesign of our website, right? So our website today, which you can get to by the CSP agency, which will probably ultimately be our domain when we make that switch, tells the story of our brand today and the brand transformation. So that was a big part of it, is we completed this transition to being the company that we are today. And this brand refresh was the capstone of that. So in terms of benefits, creating a new identity helps transition and communicate to the world that, hey, we are something new.
We are something different than we were before. Correct challenges are also communicating that and making sure that the message is received. Right. And there are challenges in SEO. CSP was not an SEO play, right? Ranking for a letter acronym, is a bad SEO strategy, right? We decided we were going to create a brand strategy and a brand story that was going to be at the forefront, right? And then we’re going to deal with SEO on the back end, which might seem strange for an SEO agency, but it has worked tremendously. So our being able to have this rebrand communicate our unique value proposition has led to some phenomenal benefits, right? The downside, our SEO did not get better. We did a complete site redesign. And we did not do it to maximize the retention of SEO value. We did it to start building something new. So there are rankings and things that we lost in that process that we sacrificed to make this transition. However, the clients that we get to our site today, have a very big impact on. We have a lot of strategic partnerships that we have developed and are in the process of developing and having a site and a brand that tells our story effectively has gone miles to help us in our goals and achieving our goals.
I don’t know. You got to invest money in it and time, and if you do it wrong, you can screw it up. But if you do it right and you’re doing it at the right time for the right reasons, I think that rebrand can make a really big difference and help propel the company.
Sure, I’m sure. Great. Here, Chris. I would like to play a quick, rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re game for it.
Great. What did you do with the first paycheck?
First paycheck? Oh, I don’t know, man. It was probably pay bills. That first paycheck wasn’t very big.
We all did that.
Yeah, I tried to pay some bills. I might have tried to pay some credit card debt. I don’t know.
Yeah, we all did that. And ask today’s generation, and they’ll tell you all the stories. Yeah. And what was the last Google search? And you can check your system. It’s an open book.
Let’s see. My last one was for a prospective client that I was researching, so nothing too exciting. A company that I was researching wanted to speak with us.
Don’t name it. It’s okay. All right, let’s see. If we were to make a movie on you okay. What genre would it be?
Yeah. Would it be?
Oh, man, I don’t know. Maybe when I was a teenager. It’d probably be a drama. Had a pretty crazy life as a teenager. And then I don’t know, maybe later in life it’d be more of like a documentary.
Okay. All right. Okay, last one. We will not grill you any further. Yeah. Where do we find you on Friday evenings after work?
It would probably be at home getting my kid’s wife ready to go to the mountains. We got a place up in the mountains where on the weekends I’m either doing downhill mountain biking or emoto in the summer or snowboarding in the winter. That’s my Friday night is family and fun activities.
Superb, superb. Lovely. Great. Chris, thank you so much for your time. It is lovely hosting you. You have a great day, man.
You too. Take care. You too, man.
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