Ranking A New Site From Scratch, Day 1-31
Coming off our intro post here, I want to dive into what has taken place the first 30 days helping my friend with their site and what has been done.
Let us break down some general notes real quick...
The website is a service, based on a B2B need.
The domain is brand new and does not contain the keywords my friend wants to rank for.
Hosting was set up at a cloud VPS provider ( Linode, Digital Ocean, etc ) on the 2nd smallest plan they offer.
The site and runs on WordPress. No plugins were installed. Just a default vanilla WordPress install.
The theme was nothing special. A free 2-column theme that had no SEO or speed focus.
The server is running Apache which is slower than Nginx
Only 7 pages were built on the public-facing website. Of those 7 pages, there are less than 1,000 words of content TOTAL ( all 7 pages added up )
We didn't really even have the keywords we wanted to rank for picked out.
- We had an idea, but no solid agreement or list at this point.
So why do I bring all this up?
Because we were really shooting in the dark and throwing stuff against the wall.
We didn't have keywords picked out. We didn't have content. We didn't even have a super-duper fancy theme, CMS, or plugins.
We didn't have some aged domain with tons of links ( it was brand new ). The domain didn't even contain our keywords since we didn't even know them.
So what did we have?
We had a lot of research into what we thought would be all of his competitors. I say "thought" because it was really a list of 7 major competitors and not an exhaustive list of every single competitor.
And these competitors are really big, huge companies. Internationally known and sizable budgets.
From that research, we had notes like their prices, terms, policies, UX, functionality, what people liked and disliked about their product ( from reviews on Reddit and other sources ), and the major keywords the competitors ranked for ( 2-3 keywords per competitor ).
Notice I didn't have SEO research.
I didn't run on-site audits, get long tails, examine backlinks, or anything remotely close to SEO research.
The first 30 days.
Just about nothing SEO related happened in the first 30 days.
Sorry to disappoint you.
But is that really a bad thing?
I was able to get to the 2nd page of my top keywords in less than 6 months of starting this project. Considering the first 30 days I did nothing for SEO, I really did it in less than 5 months for 2 of my 3 keywords.
Let's look at what I posted below from my intro post:
So two of our major focus keywords on page 2 and one keyword on page 3. All data showing up to May 4th.
What about from May 4th until May 15, the day I wrote this article?
Two keywords moved up, and one dropped a little. One of the keywords is potentially about to rank on page 1.
Not bad for 5 months of part-time side work.
And all this happened on a new site/domain during the Google Core Update that started on May 5th.
OK, so what was done to the website for the first 30 days?
Let me break it down.
Bought domain, directed it to the VPS server
Installed WordPress and 2-column theme
Installed member login system and payment system ( think DAP, Member Mouse, Amember, Optimize Member, WishList, etc )
Developed 7 pages for the website ( home page content, F.A.Q page content, About Us page, Contact Us page, etc ). Total content for the site came to less than 1,000 words for the entire site.
Set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Set up Google Adwords account ( not SEO related, but thought I would throw it in ).
Set up Mixpanel and HEAP Analytics. I was more curious than anything to find a reason to use these services. These probably slowed down my website more than anything.
And that was it.
No SEO editing ( schema ), no SEO plugins ( like Yoast ), no link building, and no optimized content.
Slow server and slow theme. Take a look at this for Page Speed Insights:
And here are a couple more from other tools:
While not great scores, they're also not terrible. I would say it's mediocre when it comes to overall speed. For sure things could be improved to help us potentially rank better.
I did have to spend some time messing around and testing things with WordPress and the member login system. But that isn't really SEO worthy. It's just technical issues getting the 2 parts to work together.
At this point, we had not narrowed down our keywords yet. So nothing was really designed for the Title tag, or H1's or anything else.
All of this work was done in the first 7 days. The other 23 days I did nothing at all.
My friend did some work of course. But it wasn't SEO worthy.
Work such as, coming up with the pricing plans he wanted and testing out the site. Setting up his merchant account and other business related stuff like his LLC and phone number...
Again, nothing that would impact SEO or this series.
How the content is set up.
The seven pages of content on the site are included in a navigational section of the site ( think header or footer section ). All pages link to each other in only this way. There is no siloed content or trickery with URLs/structure.
None of the seven pages contain the main keywords in their link anchor for the above navigational links.
Each page has an H1, but no other heading tags. None of the H1s contain our 3 main keywords on any of the seven pages.
Only 2 images on the site. No PDFs or Infographics or videos.
Some use of ordered and unordered lists, but most of the content is just wrapped in P tags.
Very little use of STRONG or BOLD at this point.
No outbound links on any pages.
No meta tags and no schema info on any page of the site.
SEO doesn't have to be hard.
You don't have to stress out that you need a perfect plan upfront or that you need to "hurry up" and beat some time clock.
You also don't need to have everything ready before you start.
We started out with essentially no SEO plan at all.
I worked on this part-time as a side project. Many times not touching the site for weeks at a time.
You also don't need a lot of money. Total budget for this project ( SEO budget ) for first 30 days: $0
Stay tuned for days 31-60 where I get some initial backlinks pushing the product on directory sites and what didn't work.
As always, reach out to us with comments, concerns, and suggestions below.