I’m not your typical Vancouver SEO agency or some online marketing company.
In fact, I am a Vancouver based SEMrush certified SEO consultant that gets results.
Here are a few of them:
PINSHAPE – Case Study
Although I’ve been doing SEO successfully for over 10 years, this specific project is what you would call my claim to fame.
After all, if it wasn’t for our extreme organic growth, we wouldn’t have been acquired.
Having #1 spots for the keyword ‘3D Scanner’ on both .com and .ca doesn’t hurt either.
This is what our COO of Pinshape (Who is now a director at Shopify.com) said:
Anyways, Pinshape hired me (Back in my employee days in 2015) after they found out that I got a Vancouver based pharmaceutical company get on the first page for the keyword “Canadian Pharmacy” (Over forty thousand people type this keyword every month by the way).
In an industry as RUTHLESS as the pharmaceutical industry, this was no easy feat.
This single keyword increased their business by an additional 30%.
I was learning so much working with them but I didn’t want to be known as the guy who promotes ‘adult pills’ online (Viagra, Cialis, etc).
Although they were one of the handful of companies who were actually legit and certified by CIPA, I decided to pursue more white hat (Mainstream) industries.
Hence making the choice to work at Pinshape.
I applied my same process . . .
Had a sit down with the CEO and COO, learned about the industry, analyzed the competitors to see where we stand at the current moment (Dead last to be exact) and off we went.
- Used SEMrush and fixed the obvious errors (Broken links, duplicate content, etc). I then added an ongoing site audit crawl so we can see how things are improving as compared to the previous one (Setting up benchmarks).
- I suggested to move the blog from a sub-domain (blog.mysite.com) to a sub-folder (mysite.com/blog) which gave us an immediate boost. Reason for this is Google treats a sub-domain as a separate domain. Why do double the work? So if you are reading this, move your blog to a sub-folder and do a 301 redirect. When we work together, this will be a change I will definitely implement anyways.
- Also started link building (As always, from day one . . .) and focused mainly on sites that had a TF of 30 or more. We were getting tons of unique backlinks from all over the place (Blogs, Forums, News Sites, Niche Related Sites, etc) but they were are low to medium quality links. It was only after my high quality white hat link building that our traffic started moving up. Another note I would like to add is 90% of the links I built went to pages with low text to content ratio. Once Google saw that we were getting high quality links to these low text pages on a regular basis, it started treating us as an “Authority” on 3D printing. If you run a marketplace style site, get links to those low text to html ratio pages.
- Moving forward, I added “nofollow” tags on all the outgoing (External links on the site). This stopped our link juice from ‘leaking’ and kept our rankings moving in the right direction.
- After you start working on a site for a while and learning more about the actual business, new opportunities begin to present themselves. This is where my creative mind kicks in.
Example: After doing some keyword research, I noticed most people were using the word ‘3d printed’ in front of their searches. “3D printed cars” or “3d printed digital camera stand”. So I got our tech team to add ‘3d printed’ in front of each of the thousands of our URLs and boom!
Our traffic went up again and set us on pace on becoming an authority in the ‘3d printing’ space.
Which we eventually did by becoming #1 for ‘3d printing’ on Google.ca and currently #1 on Google.com and .ca for the keyword ‘3D Scanners’. That’s #1 in the world 🙂
Please Note: Not everyone is capable of making such decisions because most SEO’s lack experience but most importantly, guts. I’ve worked with several sites with thousands of pages so I know when to pull the trigger and what not.
It takes guts to move or redirect 1000s of pages at once etc.
Most SEOs are afraid to make such moves because they are not confident enough in their own abilities.
No issues with that here. I test things all the time.
- Finally, it was just all about keeping things consistent. I kept building links and notified our tech team of ongoing errors (404s, crawl issues, etc), our tech team made sure the site was up and running and our content team kept creating regular articles. I then took it to the next level by infusing these articles and guides with keywords on a regular basis.
- One thing that kept us safe (Very important in today’s SEO space) which I implemented right from the beginning was NegativeSEO protection. I use CognitiveSEO for full on Negative SEO prevention, recovery and finding new backlink opportunities. One of my favorite tools hands down. I discovered it while working in the online pharmaceutical industry.
- 7 months later after I joined, the tremendous organic growth led to our company getting acquired.
Long story short, this site was a complete mess. They were using two different types of content management systems (CMS), had hreflang tags that were implemented by satan himself. To make things even more royally screwed, add on redirect chains, sub domains and the list goes on . . .
- Moved the blog to the sub folder which boosted the traffic. Obviously.
- Added nofollow tags on external links to stop link juice drainage.
- Created a list of Keywords (Ongoing) for the content team to execute on.
- Started link building at a pace of 10 – 15 links a month that had an average TF of 30.
- Fixed over 30K crawling issues and errors (Yeah that’s 30 thousand).
Again, most of the things I did here were similar to Pinshape (Or any other site that I work on).
Rule of thumb is to fix what’s broken or plain wrong before proceeding further.
- 80% increase in annual organic revenue (Traffic from Google only) of a product that sold over USD $3500.00.
This Vancouver based private and well funded client is in the online education field. They’ve been up and running for two years. Their idea has been more than validated but the traffic was just ‘steady’. More like plateaued.
ACTION TAKEN (Yes I literally took the same steps as I did with other clients):
- Moved there blog to the sub folder which boosted the traffic.
- Added nofollow tags on external links to stop link juice drainage.
- Created a list of Keywords (Ongoing) for the content team to execute on.
- Combined short posts into longer ones (Google prefers long copy).
- Started white hat link building at a pace of 10 – 15 links a month that had an average TF of 30.
- The site broke even for the first time since it’s inception. All in the first 60 days.
- 30% increase in traffic and conversions in under 90 days.
In fact, when I asked the owner to give me a testimonial, he got very upset.
He said “I don’t want others in this market to know that you’re my secret weapon”.
I guess that can pass for a testimonial 🙂
If you would like to see more case studies, please contact me but overall there are no “secrets” to SEO.
Just knowing what works and implementing it.
I’m also quite big on testing. I will never make any moves on your site unless I’m sure of it or have at least tested it out myself.
As an SEO consultant, I forget that most of people have little or no knowledge about SEO.
In fact, when I meet someone new and I tell them I do Client SEO, the first response is ‘You’re a CEO’?
Which is technically true in my case but last time I checked, “CEO” definitely doesn’t stand for Search Engine Optimization 🙂
Anyways, here I try to answer those basic seo related questions.
Most of these are actually asked by my clients / prospects themselves.
It’s amazing what you learn from the people you work with.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Quite simply, it’s the art of bringing your website to the first page of Google.
If you want to dig in a little more, top 5 is better than top 10 and Top 3 is better than top 5.
The higher your site ends up on the first page o Google, the higher your CTR (Click Through Ratio) will be.
If you are not in the top 10 results of the first page on Google, you’re a nobody. Whether you are looking for local rankings in Vancouver or international, you have to be on the first page.
Which is the best SEO monitoring tool?
Hands down, if there is one tool that can help you right away, that would be SEMrush. SEMrush is the best tool for diagnosing what’s wrong with your site. You’ll be surprised how much of a traffic boost you can get just by resolving existing on site issues.
Diagnosing what needs to be fixed right away is essential for your site’s success. That’s why it’s the first thing that I do when I take on a project.
In addition, SEMrush also offers the best keyword research tools around. There are lots of smart ways of using it and it’s something I’ve been using for years.
If you can’t afford the budget to get into SEO right now and are a tad bit tech savvy yourself, you can literally do wonders with this tool on your own.
SEMrush won’t help you much with link building but it’s not designed for that anyways (At least in my opinion). I also like their dashboard reporting that you can customize, etc.
Do I need long copy or my current copy which is around 200 words fine?
You need a balance.
I like to have super long articles on the blog (3000+ words) and if you have an e-commerce shopping cart attached as well (Shopify or BigCommerce), your product descriptions should be around the 300 to 500 mark.
The more the better.
PS: Don’t freak out about the 3000 word mark. Trust me it’s really not that big. I can bang out articles over 1000 words in 45 minutes. So in a week or so, you can have a fairly lengthy yet knowledgable article on most topics. The trick is to do them in pieces.
Should I write unique descriptions for each of my products or just copy and paste it from the manufacturer’s site?
Before I get into this, let me share why Google frowns upon duplicate content.
Several years back, it was really easy to rank a website. All people had to do was throw up a site with some content, get thousands of link from wherever you can and in a few days, you would end up on the first page of Google.
So being human beings, we found a shortcut and started abusing it.
Soon Google’s results were becoming filled with same re-hashed information but before it got completely out of hands, Google dropped the ‘duplicate penalty’ bomb.
Which meant if you want to put a website up, make sure it has unique information on it. If it doesn’t, then we won’t give you the first page positions. Obviously it’s not black and white like this as many sites today have some percentage of duplicate content but this is the idea.
However, if you can come up with 100% unique content or product descriptions, do it.
I have several products in my shopping cart and the only main difference is the color of these products. How can I make each of the descriptions unique?
Again, if you can somehow get creative and write 100% unique product descriptions, that would be ideal.
The realistic way of doing things is adding some unique content right off the bat. Perhaps talk about why someone would use a specific color or the kind of things you can create with that color type. Be creative.
The more ‘unique’ your content is, the higher you will rank. Use that as your motivation. Also remember, you don’t have to add ALL the description right away.
Pick 10, pick 5 or Pick 3 products every day or every week and you’ll get it done.
What is NoFollow in SEO
This question was recently asked by an individual who is actually offering SEO services in Texas. Yikes!
A while ago, Google introduced a tag called ‘nofollow’.
What it was meant to do was tell ‘Googlebot’ which is another name for Google’s algorithm
to ‘ignore’ these links.
When Google ‘ignores’ a link, it basically keeps ‘point’s that it was about to give from you on the site itself.
So you don’t lose any points aka link juice.
Hence keeping your rankings intact.
So if you have any external links without the ‘Nofollow’ tag, most likely you link juice is being drained.
Remember this only applies to external links (Outgoing links). I like to add ‘nofollow’ tags on almost 99% of outgoing links if not 100% so as I build new links to my site, the link juice keeps increasing (Instead of draining) which helps my sites keep rising in the search engines.
A lot of SEOs also think that it’s a good idea to NOT add a nofollow tag. We’ll I’ve tested this on several sites, including Pinshape. I encourage them to test “theories” out first. Or better yet, don’t agree with me. So my clients can keep getting better results 🙂
What Is Yoast SEO?
Yoast SEO is a pretty nifty little plugin that is used by thousands of WordPress users. I’ve used it on several sites but I think for my personal use, it has too much functionality.
A great plugin for WordPress users who are at the beginner stage but I like to keep things super simple with a plugin called Platinum SEO. It helps me SEO the pages that I need to, includes the ability to add ‘nofollow’ (Which you know at this point, I absolutely love) and helps me add Google Analytics and other pieces of code in the header without any drama or frustration. You can check out the Platinum SEO plugin here.
How to determine the best keywords for SEO?
The most obvious way of doing this is to run a PPC campaign. This way you can see which keywords people will actually click on and go from there. Or the smart way would be to use tools like SEMRush, SpyFu and see exactly what your competitors are bidding on.
Most likely, these are converting keywords.
In my experience, keywords that show the buyer’s intent usually convert the best. Keywords like ‘best 3d printer’, ‘cheap 3d printer’, ‘best 3d printer in 2017’, etc.
Best thing is to have a nice mix of a few high volume and high competition keywords with 70% of low to mid volume but low competition keywords. SEMrush plays a key role in my keyword research as far as looking for low competition keyword goes.
Isn’t it impossible to rank for the big keywords?
No. I’ve done it time and time again. Takes time (Depending on the niche) but not impossible.
Since I’ve landed a few super high volume keywords in my SEO career, I can assure you that if your site starts showing up for a general term like ‘3d printer’, you will get A LOT of conversions. Just because of the sheer volume of the traffic it brings. So the idea is to go after both.
That said, the best thing is to start link building and see how Google ‘reacts’ to your site even before worrying about what kind of keywords you need to go after. Keyword research comes in later.
Does Adwords Affect SEO
This is an interesting topic. Although there have been many reports that Google supports sites that use PPC or the Google Adword platform, I haven’t seen any real data behind it. One thing I can say is I like to use Google Adwords with SEO (If the client is already spending money on PPC) in a special way that I like to call ‘Slingshot’.
The way slingshot works is if a site has pages that are ranking for some high volume keywords, you can use Google Adwords or PPC traffic to ‘push it’ to the first page.
So to answer this question, it’s an astounding YES 🙂
How long does it take for SEO to work
I hardly get this question quite because I usually work with clients who have at least some basic knowledge about SEO. However, every now and then I get someone asking me ‘How long does SEO take?” or something along those lines.
I guess it all depends but I’ve laid out the entire process over here. In my case, second or third month is usually when you’ll see some obvious moment in traffic. Third month for sure. SEO is definitely a long term investment.
How does the bounce rate affect SEO
Great question. If you and your competitor have an equally amazing site, but their bounce rate is lower then yours, they will rank higher. Bounce rate shows Google how valuable the site is to it’s user / reader. Or how valuable that specific page is. I personally don’t like this metric because what if you can give real information in just a few paragraphs? However, overall it has proven to be very effective for Google.
So yes the bounce rate does play somewhat of a role in your overall rankings.
Nothing to lose sleep over though. If you create good content, then don’t worry about it.
How To Redesign A Website Without Losing SEO
I love this one because a lot of growing businesses face this issue.
How can I redesign my site without losing any of our current SEO?
The good news is your design (GUI or graphic user interface) or basically the obvious look of your site
doesn’t really cause any conflicts with your site design.
However, there are a few things I would keep in mind before completely re-hauling the design of your site.
Do not delete text in favour of design elements. Especially on the home page.
Your homepage can play a key role in getting ranked for a big keyword or two. Especially if it has a decent amount of text on it. If you replace that text with images or what not, you will most likely loose this as a prospect.
My suggestion here would be always design ‘around’ the existing text on your website.
Rule of thumb is never delete existing content. Instead, add on to it.
Make sure you do your 301 redirects properly.
When you re-designing your site, there is always a need to delete a page or 10!
Make sure you do your redirects properly so you don’t lose your existing rankings.
What is a seo friendly website
As it sounds, a site that is friendly for the “seach engines”. In other words, an SEO Friendly website is a site that is almost 100% crawlable by Google. Now that is super rare but if you are in the 60+ (60%) range as per an SEMrush Audit, they you are good to go. 80% or over is the ideal place to be. You can have the best looking site in the world but if Google can’t crawl it, you’re going to have a hard time getting any organic traffic.
Do blogs on website help with seo?
Yes. Big time. This is the proper way of gaining some serious search engine real estate. Ofcourse this is assuming it’s on a sub-folder and not your sub-domain. A blog helps you gain ground in the search engines in the following ways:
- It’s a place to add regular content (Weekly is ideal but bi-weekly and monthly is fine as well)
- It serves as a place where you can share more information about the products or solutions you intend to solve.
- Try adding case studies, white papers, news, buyer’s guides, reviews, etc on your blog on a regular basis.
Do links from emails to a website help seo?
Not in a sense that Google ‘indexes’ emails but in terms of something called ‘Referral traffic’, yes. Referral traffic is when someone specifically types in your website link on Google or clicks a link leading to your site from some other website.
This is better known as referrals but it’s technically the same thing.
Either way, you have real people looking at your site which only helps to boost your rankings. As long as people keep visiting your site, regardless of where they come from, you’re good to go.
Do website bookmarks help seo?
I think they do because it makes it very easy for the visitor to get to your site again. All they have to do is click on the link. Seems old school but it’s a good powerful technique. Click here to add this site to your bookmarks now.
Does a website need seo?
No. Not all of them. It all depends where your customers come from. If you are acquiring customers from the internet, then a website will really help. If you are running an operation where your customers are not seeking your services online, then you don’t.
Do mentions on tv station websites affect seo
For this example, let’s use Shark Tank (Just youtube it if you haven’t)..
Imagine. You end up on Shark Tank and your website get’s mentioned.
The thousands of people who will ‘type’ in your URL (Direct traffic) or find you somewhere online ‘referral’ traffic will give you a temporary boost in the search engines.
So the answer is indirectly, yes.
How To Optimize Website Content For SEO
SEO is made of three main parts.
- Content (On page).
- Link building (Off page).
- Site Architecture (Technical SEO).
I almost want to add Social Media to the mix but social media only ‘helps’ SEO. It’s not the main part of the SEO equation just yet.
So as you can see, the relationship between SEO and content marketing is a big one. Heck it’s so big that people today are using SEO to enhance their own resume. So people can find them on Google.
Anyways, to create or optimize existing content for SEO, you simply need to write good content. Having a strategy behind all this wouldn’t hurt either. Speaking of strategy, I really like SEMrush’s Organic Insights tool for content analysis.
I was never big on these tools and considered them ‘silly’ but once you get stuck on the 2nd page, these tools really help pinpoint the issues. Content marketing is getting quite sophisticated so it’s good to have another point of view on things.
So what is considered good or great content?
Any topic that no one in your niche is talking about or, choosing existing topics but adding in tons more detail.
In a nutshell, that’s what’s good content is suppose to look like.
After all, content production is one of the most important factors in the digital space today.
That said, you also need to be aware of the common mistakes that people make. Mistakes that are simply bad for SEO. Such as sharing or having duplicate content (On international and local seo) or using a PDF instead of just plain text.
So what is the best way to write SEO friendly content?
Here are the most important factors:
- Write long copy. Your average article today should be around 2000 word plus easy. There is nothing bad about having too much content. Whether you put it all at once or piece by piece. However, having short copy or ‘thin content’ does hurt your SEO.
- Publish your content regularly. In fact, your content publishing frequency is taken under account by Google so just be regular.
- Write for your audience and your niche in mind. Perhaps you are selling a 3D printer. Don’t just talk about your printer. Talk about how it’s helping the ‘real world’. Relate to your audience in that sense. How it can help them or is helping someone like them? People like two things. Being entertained or having their problems solved. Use these two angles to reach your audience. This kind of thinking produces the right content that will eventually rank high as well.
- Where your main keywords appear is also important. Try to put them in the first few paragraphs.
- If you must outsource your writing, use the right content writers for the job. If you have a technical topic, use a technical writer. If you want to get a creative, find a creative writer. Sounds like common sense but use these terms when you are looking for writers online. I prefer to write in-house when possible. A great place to find writers is Craigslist. Perfect place to find college students, etc.
- Structuring content is big too. Make sure you use your H1 heading in the beginning, along with your main keywords within the first 500 words and sprinkle other headings (H2, H3, etc) throughout your content. Having videos and other media is also recommended as it will make your page content rich with real entertaining data.
- To cover some Technical SEO ground, have a minimum of two internal links per page so Google can find more ways to crawl your site.
These are just few of the main tips but it all depends on what kind of site you have (Blog, eCommerce, Corporate, etc). However, if you use these simple tips, you’ll be ahead of the crowd by leaps and bounds. Also avoid any software or programs. All you really need is the ability to type and start typing 🙂
A tool that I use now that helps me group keywords like a boss is the Free Keyword Grouping Tool. I personally created this and use it for all my onsite content needs. It’s free so use it often.
Content marketing is really common sense but if you need additional help, books like ‘Content Machine’ might be helpful to you.
I haven’t read it but definitely something to check out in the future.
What is the canonical issue in SEO?
You probably heard of people throwing phrases around such as canonical url or canonicalization in SEO.
Just like a ‘description’ tag or a ‘keyword’ tag, canonical is also a tag that Google recently introduced.
This is how it looks like:
The purpose of adding the canonical tag is to tell Google that “Hey! This is the original and first version of this page”.
So if anyone copies your content, Google would know that you were the first one to put it up.
Once this is confirmed by them, they will penalize any other site that tries to duplicate your content. In other words, not rank their page for the same keywords and key phrases.
This is an external function of this tag.
The internal way it works is if you have 20 products with the same description and the only difference is the color (Basically a lot of duplicate content), you can pick one of these 20 products as the page that you want Google to rank and point the rest using the canonical tag to this specific page.
This way, Google would know EXACTLY which page out of the 20 to rank without getting confused.
When you add canonical tags in this fashion, link juice is passed as well to that specific page.
So if someone in the future links to any of the other 19 pages, the link juice goes directly the page the canonical tag is pointing to.
Should I Use Canonical Tags In SEO?
My take is if you can avoid the canonical tag, like I suggest ALL my clients, DO IT!
Rule of thumb is to make your site as EASY as possible for Google to crawl.
How do you avoid using it in the first place?
Use 100% unique content. I don’t care if you are selling 20 of the same products and the only difference is the color. Get creative. Write something cool about each. Talk about the uses, who is using it, etc. Get creative. Unique content will help you dominate your niche.
What is Document Sharing In SEO?
Document sharing refers to sites were you can upload a PDF or a powerpoint presentation in hopes to get a link back to your site. Since a lot of these sites have a very high TF, links from such sites usually helps. Just make sure you go after the ones that actually get indexed.
Why is a Technical SEO audit important?
Performing a technical SEO audit is the first step you should take before doing any link building or content marketing. Or any internet marketing for that matter.
So what is a website audit? A website audit in SEO will tell you exactly what’s holding your progress back. The whole idea is to identify what’s not right with your site architecture.
If your site architecture is too tangled up, Google won’t be able to crawl your site properly. What Google can’t crawl, it can’t rank.
So how do you do a SEO audit?
Every SEO does it in their own way but the way I do it is a combination of using a couple online services and good old fashion manual detective work.
This is how I usually conduct a tech SEO Audit (At a single page level):
1. I will run your site on SEMrush. This will literally identify 90% of the issues.
2. Next would be to look at your backlink profile using AHREFS. Just to see what kind of links you are getting and if there is a chance you are already under a negative SEO attack, etc.
3. Then I will run a thorough Negative SEO check using Cognitive SEO.
4. This is the final step where I will suggest (Manual Check) changes depending on your site / market.
Depending on the client, I usually do a video audit or will send you a PDF report.
SEO audit costs vary. It all depends on who is doing it and what they charge.
How much you want to pay for it it’s up to your budget but I wouldn’t pay anyone less than a few hundred bucks for a proper site audit.
How Much Should I Pay For SEO Services?
Again, it all depends on who you are working with and what your budget is. There is a lot of talent in the SEO world but at the same time, tons of people have been ripped off. Every time I have a meeting with a potential client, I hear of at least one horror SEO story. No wonder most of them think twice about SEO and if it’s really worth it for them or not.
No matter how much you spend on SEO or a SEO related service, nobody deserves to get ripped off and have their money outright stolen from them. That’s just wrong.
I would love to offer SEO for free but since there is a lot of time involved, you do have to pay for it. In SEO, you are literally spending money for a person’s time. It’s a service based business, SEO is not a product. So at the end, what the person charges for their time depends obviously depends on them.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO isn’t something just related to your website on Google. That is just on the surface level. There is CMS or Platform specific SEO as well. Such as for SEO for Amazon, Shopify, Youtube and the list goes on. Each service requires different kind of optimization to yield the best results. As I mentioned earlier, you can even combine pay per click to help your SEO and I’m sure a specialist will charge accordingly.
One thing I’ve personally never paid for is SEO from hosting companies like GoDaddy or Hostgator. These guys just provide absolute basic stuff submissions to outdated directories and charge up the ying yang. Sadly, a lot of people do this in the industry (Especially SEO agencies) and that’s why it has a bad name.
Does SEO work and does your business need it? For the 95% of the businesses out there. Yes!
Picking the right SEO can be tricky though. If I had to pick one, I would pick someone with a transparent LinkedIn Profile.
How Often Should I Update My Website for SEO?
Updating your website on a regular basis with new content (I hate saying fresh content, so played out . . .) is the key to maintaining your current rankings and acquire new ones as well.
New content keeps your site growing.
So depending on your market, a good rule of thumb is to put out content every week, two weeks or or at the very least, once a month. Also stay consistent with your posting schedule. Very important.
Another tip is to keep seasonality in mind and update your site copy accordingly. This is something all ecommerce store owners should follow through on.
Once you add content, the question is how long does it take Google to make updates on it’s side? Well it could actually be right away, in a day or two or longer. It all depends on how healthy your site architecture is. That’s why I always fix a site’s architecture first. By the way, the same principle applies to local seo as well.