Expert Roundup 2 - SEO Content, Moving Up From Page 2, And Determination With SEO Projects
On this Experts Roundup, we take a look at what it takes to move up from page 2 in Google from multiple experts in the field of SEO.
Also on the menu, we take a stab at SEO content today and what it takes when you want to give up on a project that seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Below are the answers the experts gave me, so let's dive in.
How do you stay on track with a SEO project without giving up after a few months? What keeps you looking for the light at the end of tunnel?
Marc @ Fimadigital: I used to refresh my keyword ranking reports every morning and once in the afternoon, even before I had made the first coffee of the day. I stopped doing that a couple of months ago, as it can be akin to watching paint dry, and probably only check website rankings now every couple of days instead... otherwise you just end up going mad.
In terms of keeping on track, my advice is to not just focus on the killer keywords with high volumes and large user intent. With all client projects we have a set of keywords as a priority, but also a list of longer-tail searches that we identify during the first phase keyword audit. We use these longer-tail keywords as part of an on-going monthly blogging strategy in some cases, meaning even if the main keywords are taking a while to rank, we can get some quicker and more immediate results with the longer-tail ones with long-form blog posts.
The thing with SEO is that there are so many tactics and strategies you can use. There are also some very clever people in the industry constantly testing and publishing new ideas, so even if you get a bit burned out with your standard work, there will typically be something else you can pick up and try.
Some months we might ignore the client website altogether, and instead focus on video marketing to get their video YouTube content ranked instead. They key with client work is to get their phone ringing more, give them more sales, or more enquiries. Ultimately it doesn't matter how you do that as long as you deliver results.
Turbin3: Dealing With Unclear SEO Signals
It blew my mind learning of Google's ranking transition algorithm. This is the age of AI, and we're waging war against the machines man! You cannot trust the day-to-day "battle" of the SERPs. That's by design.
We need to be in it to win the long term war. It frees your mind to learn this, so you may refocus on what matters.
The answer: Put one foot in front of the other. Be ruthless. This isn't chess, it's checkers applied ruthlessly. - turbin3
Tips to motivate you? I'll give you one. First, you have to get MAD, but in a controlled rage sort of way. A machine is trying to defeat you. People act like they're playing chess with SEO. The Big G has you thinking you got CHECKED, trying to break your will.
In reality, this isn't chess, it's checkers applied ruthlessly. What gets the jobs done is simple. The difference is, putting in the work, with boldness. Don't flinch as SERP curve-balls gets thrown your way. This is what I suggest:
Keep doing the right things you know to be good
Enhance and update content greatly
Own your outreach game
Keep adding good links
Keep building better UX
Keep slaying site tech issues
Second-guess yourself all the time
Constant, minor, on-page tweaking
It might be a let-down to read that list. You're probably looking for something crazy and creative. I hate to break it to you, but what works most of the time really is that simple. It's your persistent application of it that does the trick.
Turbin3 is an experienced SEO and web developer that has been in the industry on the agency, client, enterprise client, and freelance sides for about 10 years.
He's been a small business owner and also has experience ranking for 1 word, high traffic keywords in highly competitive niches.
His specialty includes a focus on large sites and technical optimization.
Nick Eubanks: We closely monitor the query impression volume in GSC and total keyword rankings. It's nice to see correlations between new links coming in and adjustments to on-site meta attributes / content optimization and the expansion of the keyword footprint.
Stephen @ StephenSumner: After 18 years in this industry, I've learnt to never give up, although there have been times in recent years (Post-Penguin) that ditching a site or domain has been my advice to one or two badly burnt clients who came to me when their sites tanked! But that said, working for clients as I do, I think it's really important that you have a good plan on what deliverables the client can expect and you have a good roadmap for each project to help you stay on track. It's also important that clients know that SEO is more often than not a slow burn so where possible I try to integrate a PPC campaign into the mix, this has two advantages..
1. Quick results (conversions) for the client! :-)
2. A bunch of highly actionable data becomes almost immediately available that can be used to inform the SEO campaign on a variety of data points that would typically take much longer to acquire without the PPC campaign in place.
For every SEO project, I spend quite a bit of time at the beginning of each project looking at what deliverables will be needed to ensure success and then at key project milestones I will be reviewing what has been implemented and what is still needed. I use Trello as my project management tool for this. Recently I have been developing a master SEO checklist, this is something I will probably never share as it has taken me ages to pull all the checks and get it into a format that is usable, there are over 500 checks and it is growing still every day!
Stephen Sumner has been working in the SEO industry since 1999 on a wide variety of roles from working in leading UK agencies to most recently working as the SEO lead in Scandinavia's largest start-up.
Today Stephen is a consultant working with his own portfolio of clients focusing on growth through various online channels including paid search.
Ryuzaki @ BuilderSociety: The absolute most important part of starting any new SEO project is having realistic expectations, which is what screws newbies over. Nobody tells them the truth because it's more lucrative to lie and exaggerate for reputation reasons and then to sell them a magical e-book.
For instance, on Builder Society myself and others have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Google seems to throttle traffic until the 1 year birthday mark, plus or minus a couple of months. It's hard to say exactly what metric they're timing off of and what else influences it, but you can always see the moment the fractional multiplier is released. Your organic traffic graph will look like a hockey stick at that point, if you put in the proper work during the slow times.
It's a matter, for me, of being a glutton for punishment and enjoying the sadistic nature of delayed gratification. I'm usually always willing to forego the small ice cream cone today to have the whole carton tomorrow. That's easy to do when you know that that's the only option.
Another mistake people make is hanging it all on an SEO project. That kind of black-or-white authoritarian style of thinking will crush you and make you run from SEO forever. No amount of belief, passion, hope, or desperation guarantees any SEO results, when nearly everything is tied to time. Google is fighting spam the lazy way these days, by simply throttling everyone for longer and longer until spammers give up.
The way to keep your head up and look towards the light is to understand organic traffic as a passive, secondary benefit to being an internet marketer. What you should be doing in the first year is your on-page optimization on each post, and then getting out there and marketing your content. And by that I mean you need to be placing it in places that have lots eyeballs looking at them. Coincidentally or not, those end up being among the best links and social signals you'll get, and they also provide the best chance for other bloggers and journalists to see it and mention it in a post, and for people to then spread it out among the forum ecospheres. Don't rest on your laurels waiting on Google, is the point. There's no reason you can't do several million pageviews in the first year with zero organic traffic. Your organic traffic will explode later if you do so.
Jstover77: I think setting the proper expectations, doing proper niche research, and understanding when youíll start to see an ROI is super important. I know that generally with a new website, it can take 6 months to a year before you can really see any ROI on a project. Really depends on a lot of different factors, but if you do SEO for a living, you understand cracking the SERPs generally isnít something that happens overnight (circa 2012).
Stackcash: How do you stay on track with a SEO project without giving up after a few months? What keeps you looking for the light at the end of tunnel? Tell us any tips or tricks you have and things to avoid.
When I start a new SEO project, I set out SMART goals for just about every metric that I'll be working on. I create a blueprint of sorts that will list goals for things like time on site, bounce rate, referring domains, pieces of content per month, etc. These goals are derived from my competition.
I can then compare my current standing in any given area to the goal and know exactly how far I have to go. For me, this is what keeps me motivated; I always know that adding one more link or blog post is getting me that much closer to my goal.
If I'm constantly focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm going to get overwhelmed and possibly fall off track. I simply focus on completing the next step. It's just a perception thing, but it works. /p>
Propipper: Depending on the niche, competition and if this is for a client or one of my own money sites, I really plan things out and keep the lines of communication open.
Obviously, if it's for a client, my main object at first is to set realistic expectations. Clients are on the fast track for results but it's important that you explain the process so they know what to expect.
From there, I create an editorial calendar and bang out all the content at once (if I can). I'm always working 2-3 months ahead of schedule.
I also shadow my social media posts through Hootsuite and Tailwind to follow the website update calendar. Once my content is on auto-pilot, I start looking for link prospets.
I know everyone has an opinion on hwo to find links but I personally look at TF and CF.
Where I gain a little edge is my main sites (the sites I own) can offer products (we are the manufacturers of the products) so I can always use that as a "gateway" to speaking to someone rather than going in with a blind email or cold call. /p>
What Can Marketers Do Now To Start Ranking For Christmas?
Marc @ Fimadigital: It might be too late to make massive ranking differences before Christmas as people will often start the buying process month's in advance, unless of course client's want to focus on Christmas related searches such as "The Best Christmas Present Ideas for XXXXX" - but I guess that's obvious.
What instead I would focus on is making sure that you don't lose any potential sales once the visitor is already on your website.
So with that in mind and Christmas being the biggest time in terms of online sales, I would get eCommerce websites to really focus on reputation management SEO and brand name SEO.
As an example, let's say a customer visits your website to make a purchase. Part of the buying process will involve social proof and reviews. I work with so many clients who have no Google reviews, no Facebook reviews, no third party testimonials, or mentions on other website putting them in a positive light.
Luckily for many brands, it a very quick and easy process to get this type of social proof into Google, and getting it ranking well.
For example, it takes no time at all to generate Google and Facebook reviews, whether that's initially just via partners, friends, and suppliers, and then moving onto incentivizing existing customers to leave something positive online.
Then I'd move into content-based brand searches. As an example, let's say you're website is called "Brandon Grohl Truck Accessories", I'd reach out to trusted customers who have blogs themselves and see if you can incentivise them to create a blog post on their own website around searches such as "Brandon Grohl Truck Accessories Testimonial & Review" - because this stuff is probably going to rank quickly and easily... with the end game being you have social proof online that you are legitimate and trusted - with the result hopefully more conversions/sales from that Christmas purchaser.
Turbin3: Christmas? You should already have outreach campaigns fired up and ready to go. You're almost out of time.
So how early is too early? Well for the popular, London-based retailer John Lewis, only a couple WEEKS into January 2017 certainly wasn't too early to get started planting those seeds. (https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/01/12/john-lewis-suggests-christmas-ad-is-no-longer-as-groundbreaking/) Maybe that's not a perfect example, with a nice, shiny, anchor text link, but you get the idea.
You have next to no time left to get your content up, so get it built now and published or your publishing schedule set, so you can move immediately into a heavy focus on off-site engagement. If the focus is ranking, specifically, start thinking about "planting seeds" as early as possible (like tomorrow) so you can start acquiring links.
Get creative. Don't feel like it even all has to be positive. If a "confession" or "public disclosure" of something (lackluster sales of a product/product line last Christmas, shifts in trends, etc.) is what entices an editor to give you the quote, link, mention, etc. then maybe that's what you need to do. The sites you need links from need controversy to sell their users. They need trusted sources to backup and bolster their existing or planned content. They need collaborators to help scale their own content creation efforts. They need the same things you need, in which case you can leverage to both yours and their advantage.
Vince @ Netmospherics: This is a very open ended question that's going to depend on the project you're working on. My best general advice that applies in every case is simple - be practical and double down on what's working.
It's nearly October while I write this. That means you have less than two months to push rankings up for your target terms before the shopping rush starts.
With that short of a timeline, I wouldn't be doing any experimenting.
I'd focus on improving rankings for existing keywords or ranking terms I feel confident I can tackle immediately. I'd be relying on the tried and true methods that have been working for the project I'm involved with and just scale them as hard as I could.
Stephen @ StephenSumner: Start planning properly for Christmas 2018 (joke) but there is not long left for this year, so I'd be focused on platforms where the results can be had quickly such as Instagram ads, Adwords etc.
On the organic side, I'd be looking to see if I had any content already ranking and then start to freshen that up as quickly as possible.
Ryuzaki @ BuilderSociety: Frankly, if you want to rank new pages for high-value terms by Christmas, you should have started in January.
I don't say that to be defeatist.
Time is an integral part of the search algorithm now, not only on the page-level but on the domain-level. With enough domain-level age and 'authority' you can bypass some page-level waiting, but you never know when your efforts will be artificially dampened. We've all experienced the scenarios where two pages that should rank #1 upon publishing do two different things. One slams right into the top position and the other indexes around #60 and slowly slides its way to #1 over the course of 5 months. You need to be anticipating and compensating for these events.
But to keep this grounded and actionable in the moment, I'd recommend finding long-tail keywords with low competition to attack for the time being, especially if your domain isn't ridiculously powerful.
It's a gamble if you want to go for shorter tails, but a head start for the next Christmas. Look for longer tailed variations of the terms you'd like to eventually tackle so you can get a piece of the pie this holiday season.
Although people recommend search operators like 'allintitle:' to get an idea of the overall field of competition, nothing matters but the top 10 spots and you could even argue that the top 5 are all that matters, especially for lower volume terms. You need to find a way to quickly analyze the ranking pages in the top 10 in terms of off-page and on-page SEO to get a real idea.
If you have the resources to spray and pray, then you can pump out content for tons of terms based on some aggregator's competition metric. But if your time and resources are limited, you need to decrease your risk by doing better SERP analysis. I know two great ways to get that done in the blink of an eye and one of them is SERPWoo.
Emanuel @ Dsector: Invest in paid advertising (AdWords or Facebook ads). You can't expect to start ranking in the top 3 on Google in such a short time interval, unless you are going after some long tail keywords or if you're in a less competitive niche. Most SEO shortcuts fall into the black hat / grey hat areas and are not recommended unless you're looking for a hit and run business model. For fast results, stick with paid advertising and forget about SEO.
Chad @ Chaddo: In the maps space, marketers need to work fast to get their listings up NOW! It takes an average of 2 weeks for a new listing to pop into the map, and sometimes longer to rank if you are in a competitive market. It can easily be done by the Christmas shopping season but you need to start now! Even if you are in a market where your maps listings get spamflagged quickly, it will be worth it to get those listings up during the Christmas rush, even if they are only up for a short time.
What's The Hottest Ranking Technique Working Right Now?
Marc @ Fimadigital: Do you mind if I flip this question a little bit? As SEO's we talk about rankings like they are the Holy Grail of everything we do. But from a client's perspective they just want more business.
With my clients at the moment we're rolling out schema mark-up data across their websites in order to pull the review stars into their organic search engine listings. The difference that this is making in click through rates (CTR) for our clients is really noticeable.
As a visual indicator, having those stars display in the rankings is making massive differences in how many customers click the results. And in terms of traffic for let's a position 3 search result, and the traffic it used to receive, the differences are really marked.
I'd recommend doing this, no matter what niche your website is in. There are various Wordpress plugins or standalone code you can use, and it is possible to offer a degree of manipulation to the star ratings. I'll let your readers look into that aspect though.
But coming back around to the initial question, CTR is a ranking indicator... so it stands to reason that if you can get your position 3 result clicked more often than Google would expect (with the help of schema mark-up), then the rankings could also follow.
Finally, I've talked about eCommerce quite a lot so far, so here's just one little link-building tip your readers might find useful if they work on shopping websites.
One thing that all the major retailers online have in common is that they are listed on discount code and coupon code websites. Many of these coupon code websites will link to the retailer website, providing a relevant and highly authoritative back-link to you.
Having back-links from discount code websites to an eCommerce store is a fantastic and natural looking back-link in Google's eyes - make sense right?
So how do you get them - simple. Create a discount code on your store, let's say it's DECEMBER10. What you will then do is Google "coupon code websites" or "discount code websites" and go submitting this coupon code to them. Many of them will give you the opportunity to place your store URL in there giving you that natural back-link, in a very similar fashion to what Google would expect from a traditional online retailer.
Something else to consider with this strategy is that many of the coupon code websites spider the web looking for discount codes to automatically place on their websites. So it's worth creating a coupon code every month, and writing a blog post about it on your store. The discount code websites will spider the web, find the blog post, and then place that code (and your link hopefully) on their website.
Just as an aside, discount codes also massively help with shopping cart conversions so more reasons to use other than just for SEO.
Turbin3: As far as most effective current SEO techniques I've seen lately:
Depth of content. I see too many sites fail at this. It's easy to get lost in your posting schedule, running out of ideas, grasping at straws on topics to write about.
Inevitably, the result is often that the site may cover a wide variety of topics, though merely at a surface level. Ask yourself, what's the average number of posts I have for a given topic or category/tag? If it's 1 or 2, you have a lot of work to do.
Depending on the niche, you may need dozens or more. Stuff to consider: If too few, should I consolidate to the next level up (short tail, parent category/tag, etc.)?
How many related keyword topics are there in this category, that I can use for content ideas?
For low numbers of related keywords, you may want to aggregate your lower level content to more of a "pillar" page on the short tail subject, so instead of thin lower-level pages, you can build a much stronger higher-level page.
Ultimately, if you gauge this as an issue for your site start thinking about focusing on drilling down into subjects, even if it means letting other ones slide a bit in the meantime. Build deep, then expand out.
Medium to Large Sites:
One of the most effective SEO techniques I currently see working well is organization and structuring of on-site content to create clear themes. In essence, content siloing. It's nothing new, of course.
What currently appears to be the thing with themes is determining when you have enough coverage of a subject or vertical to the point where its continued presence risks diluting or confusing the current domain or subdomain themes.
Some options might be to break content into subdomains separated by major themes.
In other cases, separate domains for major themes might make sense. There are many recent examples, including highly successful brands, actually giving those themed separate domains their own individual brands and using them as SEO deathstars to boost all of their other domain properties.
The moral of the story is, don't be afraid to shake things up, do a migration or two, and segment things out. Just determine what themes actually make sense for the given site, and whether to reduce, aggregate, repurpose or otherwise move off-theme content to a more appropriate place.
Vince @ Netmospherics: Be First: The more ahead of a trend you can be, the better. Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. If you can create content and rank for terms you know will pop later, you can dominate. A simple Google Alerts subscription can go a long way.
I.E. if you can get word of an upcoming product or service and create content pre-launch, competition will be low. You can rank early and catch all the traffic when the product drops. These moves tend to last long term in the SERP's too.
Complete Topic Coverage:
If I am trying to rank for a specific term, I look at the term's place in the purchase or action funnel. Then I brainstorm and do keyword research to build content topics that support the entire funnel. By creating all this supporting content that is on-topic and properly interlinking down to the next logical step, I create a relevant content net that helps rank the main keyword(s) and captures a wider audience in the process.
Create Multiple Content Types:
It's a simple concept that just requires hard work. Create audio, visual, and written content around the topic. Host the different media types on the appropriate platforms and link back to your site. Use all these works in the content on-site to improve user interaction. All this creates even more relevancy and supports your main term rankings.
Stephen @ StephenSumner: Outside of landing really nice backlinks, the technique that I'm enjoying a lot is the use of LSI search terms in landing pages. I tend to use http://lsigraph.com/ and also the related searches box at the foot of Googles SERPs to incorporate variants of the main target keywords into the copy on landing pages and blogs etc
The other thing I have been ruthless about with my clients is PageSpeed and getting this as fast as possible, one client and I spent nearly a year on a PageSpeed project for his long-established site and within months of us deploying the new code we were getting #1 rankings in Google on a weekly basis and the users are now also enjoying the site a whole load more!
Ryuzaki @ BuilderSociety: In the old days, a principled SEO wouldn't reveal such a trick, because it would then be exploited and patched up.
Unfortunately for your readers I haven't kept up with that world of spamming and finding windows of opportunity, largely because Google has done an incredible job closing windows and creating moving targets.
It's no longer worth pursuing for most of us, who'd prefer a longer term asset than the classic churning and burning between updates. And if you've been paying attention, we're seeing what are nearly weekly updates now. It's pretty close to 'real time' now.
To stick within my real of expertise, I'll give two tips that can safely be discussed because neither are against the guidelines of Google and neither can be done quickly and easily.
That's your best hurdle in internet marketing. If something takes effort, you can bet most people won't pursue it.
The first tip is for time-sensitive rankings. You'll have heard of methods like this for link acquisition like 'news jacking.' But it doesn't have to be news based, it just has to draw a lot of attention fast. We're talking about links and social signals.
If you can gain ubiquitous exposure across the internet that lasts for 24 hours or so, you will rank without question. So getting your marketing chops together to create the splash and knowing how and where to seed your content is the lynchpin in this process.
Then you need to know how to help amplify the signal as much as possible during the ordeal. We talk a lot about this on the Builder Society (BuSo) forum, especially under the umbrella of CCarter's Traffic Leaks concept, if you want to dig deep into the tactic. This is also the absolutely best way to pursue SEO as well.
The second tip is for time-insensitive rankings where the query doesn't deserve freshness.
If you read BuSo, you're likely tired of reading me say this, but it's as true today as the first time I said it. You don't need to build a risky PBN that will inevitably come crashing down and take your site with it.
Treat the entire internet as your PBN and you don't have to worry about footprints and hosting fees and domain registrations costs. And what I mean by this is to become a marketer.
SEO is not something you should be, it is a tool that you should be using as an internet marketer. Many SEO's have come to realize the truth of this and are currently ruining a decent method of pulling this off, which is outreach. But outreach is the end result of a natural process that SEO's aren't going through.
There are a whole lot of relationships to be nurtured, branding to be performed and impressed upon the minds of the people, and other bases to be covered before outreach is remotely worth your time. All of these practices that I'm alluding to ultimately will lead to you receiving natural, contextual links on great websites that cost you nothing.
If you take care of everything else, you don't even need outreach to obtain these links. They happen out of sheer exposure and respect for your operation. And that's how you earn big rankings that stick. You have to stop thinking like a get-rich-quick schemer and like a business owner and elite marketer. Sprinkle in perfect on-page SEO and the rest takes care of itself.
Emanuel @ Dsector: When it comes to SEO, if you only use one technique, you have no chance. There are hundreds of factors which can affect your rankings so focusing on one would be a waste of time. If I had to pick one which I consider more important than all the others, it would be well written, relevant and optimized content and then sharing that content with others. This way you will also get backlinks and relevant traffic to your site.
Chad @ Chaddo: Regarding maps, one of the best black hat ranking techniques is looking for geographic areas where there are a lot of searches, but the competition is not well optimized.
Then, setup your own maps listing in that area. We use twilio + an openVBX installation so we can set new phone numbers up quickly and route them wherever we want, or have them go straight to voicemail.
Make sure the listing has a local area code and make sure the streetview looks like the business could actually be there. Don't setup a business too close to the other ranking businesses (especially not on the same block!) or they could get filtered out by the Possum Algorithm and not show at all on the map.
Your goal is to get ranked in the top 3, so you will show up in the map in organic search (aka the "local pack") as well as ranking high in maps app searches and desktop map searches.
With some minor optimization, you can start getting phone calls and traffic within a couple weeks. There are more opportunities like this than most people realize. One of the telltale signs of under-optimized competition is if you see businesses ranking in the top 3 in google maps that have no website.
Since website authority is a major ranking factor for google maps, if the ranking businesses have no website, you can almost guarantee you can clean up with very little effort with a simple website and some basic maps optimization.
Wrapping Up This Roundup
I've even learned a few things myself today with this expert roundup for heading into 2018. Especially in the maps department.
It might be too late to start ranking for Christmas 2017, but you can get a jump start this week for Christmas 2018 using a lot of the advice from our panel of experts.
So what do you all think about our first expert roundup? What questions do you have for future expert series such as this?
Leave your comments and questions below and we will build a new roundup based on your feedback.
Jason Brown is the Co-Founder of SERPWoo as well as a serial entreprenuer, digital marketer, web programmer, author, speaker, & mentor
At some point, he would like the bigger companies in his space to stop trying to steal his and his partners concepts and ideas and have them innovate on their own instead.