Basic SEO Techniques Brixton :
A few basic SEO techniques:
- View Google’s cache to see your page the way a search engine sees it. If you can’t see an element of the page in the cache, the search engines can’t see it either! This means that content isn’t gaining you any search traffic.
- Be sure your page is reachable. Crawlers don’t perform searches, they travel by links. This means your page has to be viewable by clicking on a link on another page or crawlers won’t see it and it won’t be searchable.
- Be sure you don’t have metaframes preventing your page from being crawled. Many Brixton webmasters use metaframes to prevent rogue bots from crawling their page and don’t realize that these metaframes will also prevent search bots from crawling their pages!
- Don’t let your links get lost in a sea of links. Pages with hundreds or thousands of links may not get crawled thoroughly in order to prevent spam and skewed rankings.
- Use specific keywords. General keywords will have lots of competition. By using more specific keywords, a webmaster can reduce competition and increase rankings.
- Don’t abuse keywords. Use your keywords in natural speech. Optimize your page for one or two specific keywords that searchers might use when looking for information available on your page. Be sure your keywords are relevant to your content.
- Don’t use keywords in link anchor text pointing to other pages on your site. (This is known as commiting keyword cannibalization.)
- Be sure your keywords are plain text HTML. Add ALT text for images, transcripts for videos and audio clips, and put captions with java or flash plugins or images. Although crawlers are improving, many are unable to process anything besides plain text.
Be Aware of User Experience
Increasing the usability, accuracy, and visual design of the website will also increase your search metrics. Search engines use search metrics and backlinks to determine the popularity and user-friendliness of your page. These factors play an important role in SEO. Always seek to create content that is pleasing for your reader.
Search Engines use Engagement Metrics to determine user satisfaction. Time spent on a search result means the user found the result much more helpful than a user who immediately hits the back button to look for another search.
The Panda update allows google to use machine learning to rank websites on quality and user friendliness. In 2011, human evaluators ranked thousands of websites based on quality and then implemented machine learning that mimicked those evaluators. This update changed more than 20% of search results.
Things to consider when selecting keywords:
- The Keyword’s relevance to your page. Will the people using that keyword in searches be satisfied with the content on your page?
- The Keyword’s specificity. Would a narrower keyword or keyphrase attract an audience that is more interested in your content than the audience of the broader term? On the other hand, is your keyword so specific it won’t be searched?
- The Competition on that keyword. Can you compete with the current top ranked websites for your keyword?
Where to Put Keywords:
- In the Title: as close to the beginning as you can put it
- At the Top of the Page
- Several times throughout the body of the page
- At least once in the ALT text
- In the URL
- In the Summary or Meta description tag
Optimizing Title Tags:
- Titles should be between 45 and 55 characters long. Titles that exceed 55 characters in length may not show properly in google searches.
- Keywords should be placed near the beginning of the title
- Consider putting your brandname at the end of the title
- Don’t sacrifice readability and emotional impact for keyword optimization
Visit https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag to see how the title and summary of your page would show up in a google search.
- Keep them short
- Be sure your reader has an idea of what he will find on the page when reads the URL
- Use plain text links
- Use hyphens to separate words
- Use keywords
How Links to your Page Effect your SEO
- Are a wide variety of websites created by a wide variety of webmasters on a wide variety of topics linking to your site?
- Are many sites on similar topics linking to your site?
- Are the ranking sites for your keywords linking to your site?
- Are sites linking to your page using your keywords in anchor text to link to your site? (Anchor text is the blue text that shows on a webpage instead of the URL to the link)
- Are you getting links from trusted sources?
- Have you refrained from linking to spammy or poor quality websites and websites that link to your page?
- Have you been accruing new links?
- Is your page being shared on social media?
If you can answer yes to the eight questions above, links to your content are doing their job and helping increase your rankings. If you can’t answer yes to each question, devise strategies to remedy your answer.
Creating good, quality content that related pages will naturally link to is one of the best ways to get links. Another great way, is through Manual Outreach. Don’t under estimate the traffic that a well placed link can generate itself. Target specific websites who cater to similar audiences, preferably websites with few links, high credibility and high rankings for your keywords, and invite them to link to your page. Be sure to explain how linking to your page is a benefit for them, and not just an act of charity for you. You may also use this tool to see your competitors’ backlinks. Finding sites who have linked to the top ranked sites for your keyword gives you a list of sites that whose links would be of value to you. Avoid self-created links on lower quality websites. While they may help rankings a little bit, they may also hurt your rankings. If you pursue this option, proceed with caution.
Search Engine Webmaster SEO advice
SEO advice from the major search engine webmasters includes:
- Be sure all pages can be reached by static, plain-text links. (Links of the form: , as opposed to links buried in images, java or flash.) These links are easier for crawlers to find.
- Don’t “cloak” your work, or try to present different content to the search engine than you present to the user. Make sure your page is optimized to be found by a search engine when a user searches a relevant query. Don’t try to cheat the crawler’s and their index.
- Use accurate, descriptive, clear language with appropriate keywords in your titles, subtitles and ALT text. (ALT text is text that appears when an image cannot be displayed.) On hubpages, photo captions are ALT text and are therefore an extremely important part of search engine optimization.
- Create content filled with relevant keywords.
Check for Errors
To check for crawl errors see Google’s Webmaster Tools.
It's pretty funny how much people can learn from a couple of simple grass-chewing animals. Two rabbits constantly remind entrepreneurs about the secrets of concentration, two cows were able to teach young know-it-alls the essence of political philosophy. Why not try the same method for a thorough study of digital marketing and its main components?
Long story short, you have two cats.
#1. Search Engine Optimization
You have two cats. You create a website about them and choose their biography as a landing page. Then you add their photo there for a better effect and create a link with an anchor "cute cats", "soft kitties" and "pussies purr".
Your website goes down because of the last link due to the Google Penguin and Google Panda filters (supposedly, they are simply jealous because your cats get more popular than they do). You curse damned black and white animals and create a whole set of new links to clean up your reputation.
In a year, when your cats have kittens, there are already plenty of clients fighting for the right to buy them.
#2. Content Marketing
You have two cats. You hire George R. R. Martin to write a novel about them. Then you send the first chapter to the most popular blog on animal rights, to the blog of cat lovers community and to the blog of fantasy fans.
The guest post attracts the readers to your website. You post chapter by chapter daily. In the last chapter of the novel, one of the cats dies in a pretty horrible way.
You get enormous donations and sincere consolations, George Martin thrives on hatred of one several thousand more people.
Oh, and you also have to hide the cat, killed in the novel, to increase the dramatic effect and spread
#3. Influencer Marketing
You have two cats and you don't have any food for them. You reach top ten cat food producers and send them video of your cats begging for food. Nine of them ignore you, one of them replies that the video is fake.
You get to the last company with two cats in the bag, demand a meeting with the CEO and when you get to meet him (or, at least, to talk directly to his assistant), you put both cats on his table.
It is beyond human capabilities to say "no" to cats. CEO of the cat food company pats your cats, calls his PR-people and marketers, and they build up a special marketing and advertising campaign for their company with your cats in the middle of it.
Your cats earn their food till the end of 21-st century.
#4. Social Media Marketing
You have two cats. You create a cute video of them and post it on
Your cats go viral.
#5. E-mail Direct Marketing
You have two cats. You send their descriptions and photos to the potential clients every month, desperately hoping that at least someone won't add you to spam and eventually will be impressed by the incredible stories about your pets (which you create out of pure despair), enough to relieve you of your responsibilities as an owner.
If you get lucky, at the end of the campaign you don't have any cats, but you've got some money.
Of course, there are much more things one could do with two cats in the conditions of digital marketing, but the five of them, listed above, are definitely the most common and profitable ones.
Note: This one of one of the chapters of Secret Sauce: A step-by-step growth hacking guide. Secret Sauce breaks down every channel just like this one, so if you think this is valuable check it out. It’s for sale now.
SEO In One Day
SEO is simply not as hard as people pretend like it is; you can get 95% of the effort with 5% of the work, and you absolutely do not need to hire a professional SEO to do it, nor will it be hard to start ranking for well-picked key terms.
Of all the channels we’ll be discussing, SEO is the one that there is the most misinformation about. Some of it is subtle, but some of it is widely spread and believed by so-called SEO consultants who actually don’t know what they’re doing.
SEO is very simple, and unless you’re a very large company it’s probably not worth hiring somebody else to do.
How Google Works
In order to understand what we need to do for SEO let’s look back at how Google started, how it’s evolving today, and develop a groundwork from which we can understand how to get ranked on Google.
The Early Days of Google
The idea for PageRank — Google’s early ranking algorithm — stemmed from Einstein. Larry Page and Sergei Brin were students at Stanford, and they noticed how often scientific studies referred to famous papers, such as the theory of relativity. These references acted almost like a vote — the more your work was referenced the more important it must be. If they downloaded every scientific paper and looked at the references, they could theoretically decide which papers were the most important, and rank them.
They realized that because of links, the Internet could be analyzed and ranked in a similar way, except instead of using references they could use links. So they set about attempting to “download” (or crawl) the entire Internet, figuring out which sites were linked to the most. The sites with the most links were, theoretically, the best sites. And if you did a search for “university,” they could look at the pages that talked about “university” and rank them.
Google works largely the same way today, although with much more sophistication and nuance. For example, not all links carry the same weight. A link from an authoritative site (as seen by how many links a site has pointing at it) is much more valuable than a link from a non-authoritative site. A link from the New York Times is probably worth about 10,000 links from sites that don’t have much authority.
At the end of the day the purpose of Google is to find the “best” (or most popular) web page for the words you type into the search bar.
All this means is we need to make it clear to google what our page is about, and then make it clear that we’re popular. If we do that we win. In order to do that, we’ll follow a very simple process that works every single time with less effort than you probably think is required.
Gaming the System
Google is a very smart company. The sophistication of the algorithms they write is incredible; bear in mind that there are currently cars driving themselves around Silicon Valley powered by Google’s algorithms.
If you get too far into the SEO rabbit hole you’ll start stumbling upon spammy ways to attempt to speed up this process. Automated software like RankerX, GSA SER, and Scrapebox, instructions to create spam or spin content, linkwheels, PBNs, hacking domains, etc.
Some of that stuff works very short term, but Google is smart and it is getting smarter. It gets harder to beat Google every day, and Google gets faster at shutting down spammy sites every day. Most don’t even last a week before everything you’ve done disappears and your work evaporates. That’s not the way you should do things.
Instead of Internet-based churn and burn we’ll be focusing on building equity in the Internet. So if you see some highly-paid SEO consultant telling you to use software and spun content to generate links, or when you see some blackhatter beating the system, just know that it’s not worth it. We’re going to build authority and get traffic fast, but we’re going to do it in a way that doesn’t disappear or cripple your site in the future.
The first step in getting our site ready to rank is making it clear to Google what our site is about.
For now we’re going to focus our home page (our landing page) on ranking for one keyword that isn’t our brand or company name. Once we do that and get that ranking we can branch out into other keywords and start to dominate the search landscape, but for now we’ll stay laser focused.
The first thing we need to do is to figure out what that keyword is. Depending on how popular our site is and how long it’s been around, the level of traffic and difficulty we’ll get from this effort may vary.
The Long Tail
There’s a concept we need to be familiar with known as the “long tail.”
If we were to graph “popularity” of most things with “popularity” being the Y axis and the rank order being the X axis, we’d get something like a power law graph:
There are some big hits that get the majority of attention, and after a few hits the graph falls sharply. The long-tail theory says that as we become more diverse as a society the yellow end of the above graph will stretch forever and get taller.
Think of Amazon. They probably have a few best-selling products, but the majority of their retail revenue comes from a wide variety of things that aren’t bought anywhere nearly as often as their best-selling products. Similarly, if we were to rank the popularity of the songs played in the last 10 years, there would be a few hits that would garner the majority of plays, and an enormous number of songs that have only a few plays. Those less popular products and songs are what we call the long tail.
In SEO this matters because, at least in the beginning, we’re going to go after long tail keywords — very exact, intention-driven keywords with lower competition that we know can win, then gradually we’ll work our way to the left.
Our site isn’t going to outrank ultra-competitive keywords in the beginning, but by being more specific we can start winning very targeted traffic with much less effort.
The keywords we’re looking for we will refer to as “long-tail keywords.”
Finding the Long Tail
In order to find our perfect long-tail keywords, we’re going to use a combination of four tools, all of which are free.
The process looks like this:
- Use UberSuggest, KeywordShitter and a little bit of brainstorming to come up with some keywords
- Export those keywords to the Google Keyword Planner to estimate traffic level
- Search for those keywords with the SEOQuake chrome extension installed to analyze the true keyword difficulty
Don’t be intimidated — it’s actually very simple. For this example we’ll pretend like we were finding a keyword for this book (and we’ll probably have to build out a site so you see if we’re ranked there in a few months).
Step 1: Brainstorming and Keyword Generating
In this step we’re simply going to identify a few keywords that seem like they might work. Don’t concentrate too much on culling the list at this point, as most bad keywords will be automatically eliminated as a part of the process.
So since this is a book about growth hacking, I’m going to list out a few keywords that would be a good fit:
Growth hacking guide
Growth hacking book
Book about growth hacking
What is growth hacking
Growth hacking instructions
That’s a good enough list to start. If you start running out of ideas go ahead and check out keywordshitter.com. If you plug in one keyword it will start spitting out thousands of variations in just a few minutes. Try to get a solid list of 5–10 to start with.
Now we’ll plug each keyword into UberSuggest. When I plug the first one — “growth hacking” — in, I get 246 results.
Clicking “view as text” will let us copy and paste all of our keywords into a text editor and create an enormous list.
Go through that process with each keyword you came up with.
Now we’ll assume you have 500+ keywords. If you don’t, try to start with something more generic and broad as a keyword, and you’ll have that many quickly. Ideally you’ll have over 1500.
Step 2: Traffic Estimating
Now that we have a pretty good list of keywords. Our next step is to figure out if they have enough search volume to be worth our while.
You’ll likely notice that some are so far down the long tail they wouldn’t do much for us. For example, my growth hacking list came up with “5 internet marketing techniques.” We probably won’t go after that one, but instead of guessing we can let Google do the work for us. This will be our weeding out step.
Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is a tool meant for advertisers, but it does give us some rough idea of traffic levels.
Google doesn’t make any promise of accuracy, so these numbers are likely only directionally correct, but they’re enough to get us on the right track.
You’ll have to have an AdWords account to be able to use the tool, but you can create one for free if you haven’t use AdWords in the past.
Once you’ve logged in, select “Get search volume data and trends.”
Paste in your enormous list of keywords, and click “Get search volume.” Once you’ve done so, you’ll see a lot of graphs and data.
Unfortunately the Keyword Planner interface is a little bit of a nightmare to work within, so instead we’re going to export our data to excel with the “download” button and play with it there.
Now what we’re going to do is decide what traffic we want to go after.
This varies a bit based on how much authority your site has. So let’s try to determine how easy it will be for you to rank.
Go to SEMrush.com and enter your URL, looking at the total backlinks in the third column:
As a general rule (this may vary based on how old your site is, who the links are from, etc.), based on the number of links you have, this is the maximum level of “difficulty” you should go after.
Number of Backlinks
Go ahead and sort the data by difficulty, and eliminate all of the stuff that is too high for your site (don’t worry, we’ll get those keywords later). For now you can simply delete those rows.
One important thing to note is that Google gives us this volume as “exact match” volume. This means that if there is a slight variation of a keyword we will see it if the words are synonyms, but not if they are used in a phrase, so the traffic will be underestimated from what you would expect overall.
Now with that disclaimer sort the traffic volume highest to lowest, and from this data pick out five keywords that seem like a good fit.
Here are mine:
growth hacking strategies
growth hacking techniques
growth hacking 101
growth hacking instagram
growth hacking twitter
Mine all look the same, but that may not necessarily be the case.
Unfortunately the “keyword difficulty” that Google gives us is based on paid search traffic, not on natural search traffic.
First, let’s use Google Trends to view the keyword volume and trajectory simultaneously. You can enter all of the keywords at the same time and see them graphed against each other. For my keywords it looks like this:
The ones I’m most excited about are purple and red, which are “Growth hacking techniques” and “Growth hacking Twitter.”
Now we’ll take a deeper look at what the competition is like for those two keywords.
Manual Keyword Difficulty Analysis
In order to analyze how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword, we’re going to have to look at the keywords manually, one by one. That’s why we started by finding some long-tail keywords and narrowing the list.
This process gets a lot easier if you download the SEOQuake Chrome extension. Once you’ve done that, do a Google search and you’ll notice a few changes.
With SEOQuake turned on the relevant SEO data of each site is displayed below each search result.
We’re going to alter what is displayed, so in the left-hand sidebar click “parameters” and set them to the following:
Now when you search, you’ll see something like this
SEOQuake adds a ranking number, and the following at the bottom:
The Google Index: This is how many pages from this base URL Google has indexed
Page Links: The number of pages linking to the exact domain that is ranking according to SEMrush’s index (usually very low compared to reality, but since we’ll be using this number to compare it wil be somewhat apples to apples)
URL Links: The number of pages pointing to any page on the base URL
Age: The first time the page was indexed by the Internet Archive
Traffic: A very rough monthly traffic number for the base URL
Looking at these we can try to determine approximately what it would take to overtake the sites in these positions.
You’ll notice that the weight of the indicators change. Not all links are from as good of sources, direct page links matter much more than URL links, etc., but if you google around and play with it for a while you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it takes.
If you have a brand new site it will take a month or two to start generating the number of links to get to page one. If you have an older site with more links it may just be a matter of getting your on-page SEO in place. Generally it will be a mixture of both.
Keep in mind that we’re going to optimize our page for this exact keyword, so we have a bit of an advantage. That said, if you start to see pages from sites like Wikipedia, you will know it’s an uphill battle.
Here are a couple of examples so you can see how you should think through these things, starting with “Growth hacking techniques.”
Entrepreneur.com is definitely a big name, and “growth hacking techniques” is in the title explicitly. This will be difficult to beat, but there are no links in the SEMRush index that point direct to the page.
(By the way, I wonder how hard it would be to write an article for entrepreneur.com — I could probably do that and build a few links to that easily, even linking to my site in the article).
Yongfook.com, have never heard of that site. 206 total links, not much traffic, this one I could pass up. It does have quite a bit of age and “Growth hacking tactics” in the title explicitly, so that would make it tough, but this one is doable to pass up after a while.
Alright, so quicksprout is relatively popular, a lot of links, good age, lots of traffic, a few links direct to the page but not a ton.
But the word “tactics” doesn’t even appear here. This page isn’t optimized for this keyword, so I could probably knock it out by being optimized specifically for “growth hacking tactics.”
Let’s jump down a ways to see how hard it would be to get on the front page.
17 total pages indexed? Created in 2014? No links in the index, even to the root URL? This one’s mine. I should be able to front-page easily.
So this looks like a good keyword. Now we just have to get the on-page SEO in place and start building a few links.
Now that we have our keyword selected, we need to make sure Google knows what our site is about. This is as simple as making sure the right keywords are in the right places. Most of this has to do with html tags, which make up the structure of a webpage. If you don’t know html or understand how it works, just pass this list to a developer and they should be able to help you.
Here is a simple checklist you can follow to see if your content is optimized.
On-Page SEO Checklist
☐ Your keyword is in the <title> tag, ideally at the front (or close to the front) of the tag
☐ Your keyword is close to the beginning of the <title> tag (ideally the first words)
☐ The title tag contains less than the viewable limit of 65 characters (optional but recommended)
☐ Your keyword is in the first <h1> tag (and your page has an <h1> tag)
☐ If your page contains additional header tags (<h2>, <h3>, etc) your keyword or synonyms are in most of them
☐ Any images on the page have an <alt> tag that contain your chosen keyword
☐ Your keyword is in the meta description (and there is a meta description)
☐ There is at least 300 words of text on the page
☐ Your keyword appears in the URL (if not the homepage)
☐ Your keyword appears in the first paragraph of the copy
☐ Your keyword (or synonyms — Google recognizes them now) is used other times throughout the page
☐ Your keyword density is between .5% and 2.5%
☐ The page contains dofollow links to other pages (this just means you’re not using nofollow links to every other page)
☐ The page is original content not taken from another page and dissimilar from other pages on your site
If you have all of that in place you should be pretty well set from an on-page perspective. You’ll likely be the best-optimized page for your chosen keyword unless you’re in a very competitive space.
All we have left now is off-page optimization.
Off-Page SEO is just a fancy way to say links. (Sometimes we call them backlinks, but it’s really the same thing.)
Google looks at each link on the web as a weighted vote. If you link to something, in Google’s eyes you’re saying, “This is worth checking out.” The more legit you are the more weight your vote carries.
SEOs have a weird way to describe this voting process; they call it “link juice.” If an authoritative site, we’ll say Wikipedia for example, links to you, they’re passing you “link juice.”
But link juice doesn’t only work site to site — if your homepage is very authoritative and it links off to other pages on your site, it passes link juice as well. For this reason our link structure becomes very important.
Checking Link Juice
There are a number of tools that let you check how many links are pointing to a site and what the authority of those pages are. Unfortunately none of them are perfect — the only way to know what links are pointing to your site is to have crawled those pages.
Google crawls most popular pages several times per day, but they don’t want you manipulating them, so they update their index pretty slowly.
That said, you can check at least a sample of Google’s index in the Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools). Once you navigate to your site, In the left-hand side select “Search Traffic” then “Links to your site.” There’s a debate raging over whether or not this actually shows you all of the links Google knows about (I’m 99% convinced it’s only a sample), but it’s at least a representative sample.
To see all of your links, click on “More” under “Who links to you the most” then “Download this table.” This, again, seems to only download a sample of what Google knows about. You can also select “Download latest links” which provides more recent links than the other option.
Unfortunately this doesn’t let us see much a to the value of the links, nor does it show us links that have dropped or where those links are from.
To use those there are a wide variety of tools: If you have a budget I’d go with ahrefs.com as they have the biggest index, followed by Moz’s Open Site Explorer (most of the data you can get with a free account, if not then it’s slightly cheaper than ahrefs), and finally SEMrush, which is free for most purposes we need. MajesticSEO uses a combination of “trust flow” and “citation flow” which also works fairly well to give you an idea as to the overall health and number of links pointing to your site.
All of these use different internal metrics to determine the “authority” of a link, but using them to compare apples to apples can be beneficial.
HTML links look something like this:
<a href=”http://www.somesite.com” title=”keyword”>Anchor text</a>
Where http://www.somesite.com is the place the link directs you to, the title is largely a remnant of time gone by, and the linked text — think the words that are blue and you click on — is called the “anchor text.”
In addition to the amount of link juice a page has, the relevance of the anchor text matters.
Generally speaking you want to use your keyword as the anchor text for your internal linking whenever possible. External linking (from other sites) shouldn’t be very heavily optimized for anchor text. If 90% of your links all have the same anchor text Google can throw a red flag, assuming that you’re doing something fishy.
If you’re ever creating links (like we’ll show you in the future) I only ever use something generic like the site name, “here” or the full URL.
Generally speaking you don’t want orphan pages (those that aren’t linked to by other pages), nor do you want an overly-messy link structure.
Some say the ideal link structure for a site is something like this:
That’s close, but it gets a couple things wrong. First, you’ll never have a structure that organized, and second, in an ideal world every page would link to every other page on its same level. This can easily be done with a footer that feels like a sitemap or “recommended” pages. That allows you to specify anchor text, and pass link juice freely from page to page.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to draw such a web without it becoming a mess, so you’ll just have to imagine what that actually looks like.
We have just one more thing to go over before we start getting those first links pointing to our site.
Robots.txt, disavow, nofollow, and other minutia
Most of SEO is managing stuff that can go wrong. There is a lot of that, but we’ll go over what will cover 99% of needs, and you can Google if there’s something really crazy.
Almost every site has a page at url.com/robots.txt — even google has one.
This is just a plain text file that lets you tell search engine crawlers what to crawl and not to crawl. Most are pretty good about listening, except the Bingbot, which pretty much does whatever it wants no matter what you tell it. (I’m mostly kidding.)
If you don’t want Google to crawl a page (maybe it’s a login page you don’t want indexed, a landing page, etc.) you can just “disallow” it in your robots.txt by saying disallow: /somepage.
If you add a trailing / to it (e.g. disallow: /somepage/) it will also disallow all child pages.
Technically you can specify different rules for different bots (or user agents), but it’s easiest to start your file with “User-agent: *” if you don’t have a need for separate crawling rules.
Google will penalize spammy sites, and unfortunately this causes some bad behavior from bad actors. Say, for example, you wanted to take out a competitor. You could send a bunch of obviously spammy links to their site and get them penalized. This is called “negative SEO,” and is something that happens often in highly contested keywords. Google generally tries to pretend like it doesn’t happen.
In the case that this does happen, however, you can “Disavow” links in the Search Console, which is pretty much saying, “Hey Google, don’t count this one.” I hope you’ll never have to use it, but if you hire (or have hired) a bad SEO or are being attacked by a competitor, that is how you combat it.
A link can have a property called “nofollow” such as this:
<a href=”http://www.somesite.com” title=”keyword” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor text</a>.
If you want to link to somebody but you don’t want it to count as a vote (you don’t want to pass link-juice), or you support user-generated content and want to deter spammers, you can use a nofollow link. Google says it discounts the value of those links. I’m not convinced they discount them heavily, but other SEOs are so they seem to deter spammers if nothing else.
If you’re going to change a URL, but you don’t want its link juice to disappear, you can use a 301 redirect. A 301 will pass a majority of the link juice.
If you have two pages that are virtually the same, you can add something like <link rel=”canonical href=”https://www.someurl.com/somepage”> to say “hey, treat this page as if it were that page instead, but I don’t want to 301 it.”
And with that, we’re ready to build our first links.
Link building is where SEO really starts to matter, and where a lot of people end up in a world of hurt.
The best way to build links is to not build links. I’ve worked for companies in the past that don’t have to ask for them, they just flow in from press, customer blogs, their awesome blog posts, etc. If this is an option (and we’ll go over a couple of ways to make it more likely) you’re in a great place.
If not, at least in the beginning, we’re going to manually create just a few.
We’re going to create them in legitimate ways and not hire somebody in India to do so. That is a recipe for disaster, and I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen that take down a site.
The easiest way to build high quality links are what SEOs call “web 2.0s.” That’s just a way to say “social sites” or sites that let you post stuff. Now tweeting a link into the abyss won’t do you anything, but profiles, status pages, etc. do carry some weight. And if they come from a popular domain that counts as a link.
Some of the easiest are:
Twitter (in your bio)
Github (the readme of a repo)
YouTube (the description of a video — it has to actually get views)
Wordpress (yes, you’ll have to actually create a blog)
Blogger (same here)
Upvote-based sites (HackerNews, GrowthHackers, Inbound.org, etc.)
If nothing else you can start there and get a half dozen to a dozen links. There are always big lists of “web 2.0s” you can find online, but keep in mind if you’re going to build something out on a blogging platform you’re going to have to really build something out. That’s a lot of content and time, but you have to do it the right way.
We generally keep a bigger list of Web 2.0s here. Some may be out of date, but you should probably only build a half dozen to a dozen Web 2.0s anyway.
Another way to get link juice is by purchasing an expired domain. This is more difficult to do, but there are a lot of options such as expireddomains.net. (Google “expired domains” and you’ll find dozens of sites monitoring them.)
You’ll want to purchase a domain that has expired and restore it as closely as you can to its original form using an archive. These sites likely have some link juice to pass on and you can pass it to yourself.
Another way to find places you can build links is by using a link intersection tool. These find sites that link to “competitor a” and “competitor b” but not to you. Theoretically, if they link to both of your competitors, they should be willing to link to you. Moz, Ahrefs, LunaMetrics and others have link intersection tools that work quite well.
Now that we have a few basic links flowing, we’re going to work on some strategies that will send continual links and press, eventually getting to a point where we don’t have to build any more links.
Your First Drip of Traffic — Becoming an Authority Site
Awesome — you have a site that converts well, your SEO is in place, ready for you to drive traffic. Now what?
As you’re probably learned at this point, a site that converts very well but has no traffic flowing to it still converts zero traffic.
We’re going to fix that.
This section takes a lot of time and effort, and in the beginning you’ll likely wonder if you’re doing anything at all. Remember that class in college that is so difficult it’s the point where most people give up, effectively weeding out the people who aren’t ready to major in a specific subject?
Well this is the weeder-out chapter of growth hacking.
Take a Long-Term View
The reason so many people stumble on this step is the same reason people stumble on so many steps that take a little effort under time — losing weight, investing in a 401(k), etc. In the beginning you’re going to have a little seedling of traffic, and you’ll be looking up to those who have giant oak trees, thinking, “I must be doing something wrong.” You’re not doing anything wrong. The traffic starts as a trickle before it becomes a flood.
But don’t worry if you’re a startup. Our goal is to get enough traffic that continuing to do this effort will be sustainable (meaning we won’t die before we start to see the rewards), but at the same time we’re building equity in the Internet.
The type of traffic we want to build is the type that will compound and will never go away. We want to create traffic today that will still give us a little trickle in five years. Combining hundreds (or thousands) of little trickles, our site that converts, and a great product we will create a giant river.
Future chapters will go into depth on the networks we need to drive traffic from, so in this chapter we’re going to focus on traffic that’s network-agnostic. Traffic that we can’t get by tapping any specific network.
Just to give you some idea of scale, I’ve seen this process drive over 500,000 visits per day, though the build up to that level took almost a full year. What could you do with 500,000 visits per day?
To start we’re going to use the keywords we found in the SEO chapter, and inject ourselves (and our company) into the conversation wherever it’s taking place.
To do this we’re going to use software called BuzzBundle.
This software lets us do a few things:
- Constantly monitor all mentions of a specific topic, competitor, or keyword across multiple locations on the Internet (from Facebook groups to Quora questions to blog posts) where comments are available
- Allow us to leave a constructive comment that references our product or company
Disclaimer: This is not the SEO comment spam you’ve seen
This step takes thought, effort, and a real human who understands what they’re typing. I don’t often say this, but you cannot effectively automate this step without it becoming spammy. If you’re trying to replicate the automated SEO spam you’ve seen on various blogs and sites this will probably work, but you’ll get banned, your clickthrough will be a fraction of what it could be, and you’ll be banned
We’re not going to fire up some awful software to drop spun mentions of garbage onto various comment sections online hoping that brings us SEO traffic. Our comments must do two things:
- Be contextual. We are only going to talk about the topic presented in an article or tweet, and only mention our company when it naturally fits in
- Contribute to the conversation. I should learn something or have value added to my life by reading your comment
If you do these two things a few changes will take place: First, you’ll notice that people click on your links because you’re a thoughtful person who likes to contribute. Second, people will respect your company because you’re a thoughtful person who likes to contribute.
And with that disclaimer, we’ll move on to the nitty gritty of how this is done.
Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s fire up BuzzBundle and get to work.
Accounts and Personas
The first thing you’ll want to do in BuzzBundle is go to Accounts -> Add new accounts. This is the starting point for everything we’ll do, as we need accounts to comment.
One thing you’ll notice about BuzzBundle is that it lets you use multiple accounts. I find it beneficial to think from multiple perspectives and therefore multiple points of view, but I don’t want to go too far overboard and be spammy.
I’d recommend doing something simple — create 2–3 personas, each of whom you identify with (or are you), and enter them into your BuzzBundle accounts.
Personally I don’t even change my name, I just use a different one (eg. Austen J. Allred vs. Austen Allred) or use a few photos, just so it isn’t literally the same name and same photo blanketing the Internet.
Disqus is a comment system used all over the place, and it carries some caveates. Disqus will ban you if you use the same link in every post, so there are two workarounds:
- Use a lot of different accounts, rotating IPs or using a proxy every two days or so
- Use your site URL as your “display name”
Both of these work, but the second one is much easier in my view.
Using links with our UTM parameters here will be very beneficial. We’ll be able to track traffic back to each individual blog or site, and if necessary double down on the ones that are driving traffic.
If you ever start to run into problems with getting your link posted, it may be useful to use a few link shorteners or some 301 redirects.
To keep it simple you can use a link shortener that 301s such as bit.ly, or if you want to spend a little more time you can set up your own site and 301 the traffic from a certain page to your money site.
Let’s get started with the BuzzBundle.
First, it’s going to ask you for a keyword. We already have a keyword from the SEO section, but we may want to do something even a bit more generic. For this one I’m going to go with “growth hacking.”
Simply hit “go” and let BuzzBundle get started.
It will load different content types into different columns, but generally we are going to be scrolling through until we find something that looks compelling and like we can actually contribute to.
The first thing I clicked on was this:
It’s a review of another book about growth hacking. All I had to do was comment, tag the author, ask him if he were willing to review our book, and offer to send him one for free. (If you’re reading this now it’s going to be pretty awkward).
My assumption is this person will find the conversation to be completely authentic, because it is. The fact that there’s now a link on his video that people who are searching for something else will find is just an added bonus.
As an aside, I much prefer to hold “shift” and click on a link to open it in my normal browser if I’m just going to be commenting as myself.
The next one I found was a roundup of great growth hacking blog posts from the week.
I left the following comment:
Note how I followed him on Twitter so that it’s obviously personal and not an automated spam comment. I even went a little bit overboard and tweeted at him just for kicks.
That is how you get people on your team.
As you get further along and have an idea of how to get a good response, I’d recommend starting to sort by reach, ramping up the number of keywords you’re searching for, and possibly even gasp upgrading to the paid version of BuzzBundle.
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