As I approach my 19th year in the ‘SEO Industry’ – I’ve taken some time to step back and take a really hard look at what I’ve seen work over the years and what I know absolutely doesn’t work. Alex Barger and I have been talking for YEARS about getting together and building something that WE want. To stop taking on client work, because it’s frustrating. You can lead a horse to water… kinda thing. So we’re currently a few weeks out from launching our new company, Barger & Brown where we’ve partnered up to offer some pretty kickass systems/solutions for our Dream Clients (more on that later).
I keep seeing the same questions pop up on Reddit, Twitter, and some SEO FB groups – so since I haven’t blogged, podcasted, or really anything in ages I figured I’d give you all my SEO 101 recipe. This is the basic DIY list you need to get your site ranking.
Keep reading along and I’ll give you the WHOLE RECIPE, Free. That’s right, completely free…I’m not selling anything! All you have to do is follow the recipe and you’ll be able to rank on the 1st page of Google! I want to explain a few things up front though. I’ve been asked several times over my illustrious career, what the secret to success on Google is. It’s funny because it’s a lot simpler than many make it out to be. But if I had to sum it all up in 2 words… FOLLOW THROUGH. That’s right, as, with anything in life, you can find the instructions, read them, understand them and not follow through and be in the exact same place you were before you started. For now, read the list below and I’ll elaborate more on each of the ‘ingredients’ below the recipe.
- Start with the basics: The ‘No Brainers‘ (meaning, anyone should be able to figure this part out if you spend 10 minutes thinking about it – or a quick look at competitor analysis).
- On-site Content: 8 blog posts per month, a minimum of 350 words per post. Relevant, timely (in your industry), and interesting/shareable content.
- Off-site Content: 12 articles per month, sent out to different C Class IP blocks. Relevant, timely, interesting and shareable content. (This creates backlinks, which are the Queen, to Content’s King).
- Site Audit: Please follow the instructions to get your site to at least an A – it doesn’t have to be an A+. You don’t have to overthink it. (if you are unable to do the work, please hire a professional).
- Set goals in Google Analytics: Step 1. Sit down with your team and ask the question – “if the website could magically do anything, what should it do to make us all prosperous?” Step 2. Set that up as a goal in Google Analytics.
- Follow Through: This seems like it should belong in the ‘no-brainer’ category above… but it’s not for one simple reason. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies over the years and guess how many were able to keep up the proper frequency? Zero, as in 0% – I want you to think about Pavlov’s dog… then I want you to remember that GoogleBot is a ROBOT, void of any human understanding (oh they just had ___insert your excuse___ I totally understand)… yeah, it doesn’t work that way.
Now I always suggest doing this for AT LEAST 6 months. Because Organic SEO is NOT an overnight process. There’s no silver bullet that lets you skip to the front of the line. This is the work that you will need to put in EACH. AND. EVERY. MONTH. FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS (at least).
I’ve also been asked the question “How much longer do we need to keep doing this for?” – Great Question! How much longer is your competition going to try and outrank you? The second you stop ‘site atrophy‘ starts to set in and a skilled competitor can and usually will unseat you.
‘No Brainers‘: Now I’m not saying that just because your competition is doing X that you need to do it too. (Insert the little voice in your head that sounds like your parents saying “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?”) If you see that your main competition is going to the local Chamber of Commerce networking events and getting backlinks to their site by Actually being involved in their community – I’m not saying you have to do the same… but if you don’t and we assumed that all backlinks are equal (even though I know they’re not) – then are you keeping up with your competition? If you answer No, then let me pose a very important question. Why do you think you or your company ‘deserve’ to outrank the competition? Here’s a mini list of what I call No Brainers:
- Get a MOZ PRO local ($99/yr – but it comes with a BOTW.org backlink which is usually $299/yr so… you’re welcome, I just saved you $200/yr). That alone makes it worth it, but they also do a good job of checking NAP (name, address, phone number) across multiple listing sites to make sure that there’s not bad duplicate content out there. Worth the $99/yr! #NoBrainer
- Go spend $500 on local directories (if you’re wanting some local listings in Google – if you’re a National Brand, skip this step).
- If you see your competition doing something that you can easily do too… (like a BBB listing or a Chamber of Commerce listing) go put your company there too. Common sense says if you want to outrank your competition… be everywhere they are and do a better job while you’re at it.
- Make sure that your site has an SEO audit. This will let a qualified expert quickly raise your overall grade from a D -> A/A+ with some changes. If you’re insistent on the DIY route here, please back your site up often.
- Make sure your site is httpS <— See the ‘s’ – if you don’t see it on your site, do not pass go, do not collect anything, do not put it off. Go fix it now! (unless of course, you’re the type to drive around with your ‘Check Engine’ light on until the car dies, then carry on).
- Does your site have Google Analytics set up? Do you have any goals set up? This should be considered a ‘no-brainer’ but… you’d be surprised.
- Anything else you see your competition doing, that you think is helping them to outrank you… do it, better.
So we’ve all heard the old “Content is King, Linking is Queen” statement… so I’ll keep from beating that dead horse. It really is simple. For on-site content set up a cron job in WordPress, to publish at noon (12:00) PST every Tuesday & Thursday. FREQUENCY is important! Find 8 topics that highlight what your company/product/service is or does, or just industry news. It really is easy to find content ideas if you look around. Try Google News, BuzzSumo, your competition’s blogs, (now I’m not saying to copy them, go look and see what they’re writing about… then you show me a better version!). You just have to be slightly better than the competition to win this race. Always keep that in mind. Can you see now, why Frequency is important if you want to train Googlebot like Pavlov trained his dogs?
Can you train Googlebot like one of Pavlov’s dogs?
Very similar to the on-site content that’s going out on the company blog, but a bit different. Usually, these pieces need to be longer (min of 500 words in most cases). Look for industry magazines, blogs in your industry, ask industry friends if you can guest post on their blog/site. You will get a backlink from your author byline/bio – DO NOT BE KEYWORD STUFFY ABOUT IT! Now I said earlier that they need to be on different C-Class IP blocks – Here’s a simple explanation
A C–Class IP is a semi static range of IP addresses that is used across the Internet. An IPv4 Address contains four different sections (classes) that are A,B,C, and D. An example if this would be the IP address 192.168.1.2, where the number one is the C class.
192. = the A |168. = the B | 1. = the C | 2. = the D
The reason this is important is that Google can quickly figure out who’s running link networks (and then penalize them). They usually look for a bunch of links coming from the SAME C-Class IP blocks – so, you’ve been warned. Basically get a different link from a different site, each and every time. (Unless of course, it’s the NY Times or Huffpost, etc…)
You can get a free site audit from just about every single piece of SEO software out there now. I personally like SEMrush but to each their own. These are just tools – NOT THE KNOW ALL, END ALL, BE ALL! So mileage may vary. Also depending on the size of your site – this may get much, much more involved. In which case, just call me and I’ll get you a referral to one of my industry friends that specialize in Audits.
Set Goals in Analytics
“Those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it.” – George Santayana
So set a goal for your website, your online business, what-have-you. And then layout the work that needs to be done. Look at your budget, and shit or get off the pot. Seriously guys why do we keep doing the same things over and over again?
I could write a book about this but just realized my word count is off the charts. Set goals and follow through. Research the steps you need to take and do it. Be Nike… Just do it! If you don’t, I can give you a guarantee. I guarantee you will not be ranking well on the 1st page of Google for any highly competitive keywords/phrases. If you know that this is far too much for you to do in-house, consider hiring a company that specializes in this kind of work, and let them do it Each And Every Month! Let it marinate for 6 months, and go look at your analytics. If you truly follow the above steps, I mean really follow through… I can guarantee that you’ll be doing much better than you were when you started. Final note, if anyone does this and doesn’t see results, click the orange contact button and call me. I’d like to talk to you.
And last but not least… be sure to ask questions in the comment section below.