My name is Jibran (Pronounced Jib-ron) Qazi and I’m the founder of Hunter Canada.
Are you part of a startup that is looking to grow at a much faster rate? Well you’ve come to the right place.
When it comes to customer or user acquisition for startups, almost everyone runs to PPC (Pay Per Click) or banner ads (Paid Ads).
There is nothing wrong with these services but when you compare them to SEO (Especially the long term benefits), the latter is far superior. Also, SEO for startups isn’t something complicated and it all boils down to 4 steps.
However, before dive in further, let’s make one thing crystal clear . . . SEO is not for every startup.
Here are the 6 main types of startups that should look into SEO for growth:
1. The One Trick Pony
2. The Turtle
3. The Organically Challenged
4. The Child
5. The Repeatedly Bootstrapped
6. The One
Can you relate to any of these startup types?
If you said yes, I encourage you to continue further . . .
1. The One Trick Pony
These startups only have one marketing trick up their sleeves. Spending money on paid ads like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords (Or as I like to call it, the marketing budget killer). It is only after losing a decent amount with these services that other choices are considered.
That’s when the CEOs or Founders come looking for SEO.
If you fall in to this category, I would like you to consider these typical SEO vs PPC scenarios.
PPC (Paid Ads)
With paid ads, you will definitely achieve some growth but it literally comes at a cost. First you have to find keywords that convert (Testing phase) and then continuously spend a good chunk of your funding or profits if you are making any on generating sales.
With PPC and paid ads, it’s all about the more you spend, the more you sell. If you don’t sell, you still pay per click.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
The more you invest in SEO, the lower your marketing budget will get over time. There is no doubt that once this channel is established, it will become one of your most cost effect customer acquisition channel.
To be frank, whether paid channels are performing for you or not, SEO should be part of every startup’s marketing strategy from the get go. If you can’t hire a consultant, agency or even your ‘tech savvy’ nephew, you can always optimize your site structure so you get the most out of your current resources.
2. The Turtle
What better way to make my point here than to share a personal success story of a startup (In the 3D printing space) known as Pinshape.
When I had a meeting with Nick (COO) and Lucas (CEO), they simply wanted Pinshape to grow faster. They had funding, hired some excellent people (UI Designer, coders, etc) and things were going fairly well. Their idea was validated by other similar sites and they just wanted to take things to the next level.
Pinshape was also growing at a decent rate but it still wasn’t what Nick and Lucas wanted. They wanted to 10x the growth and the tested paid channels like Facebook, Google AdWords and banner ads were just draining their marketing budget (A common issue with a lot of startups).
Although Pinshape was experiencing growth at a steady rate, the founders didn’t enjoy the limited ROI that PPC and paid ads were bringing in. If they kept going at the same pace, Pinshape would have been just another promising but dead startup. Finished due to lack of real growth and running out of funds.
Once I shared my SEO strategy with them, they gave me a shot. Two months later, they completely embraced SEO.
Moving forward, it took only 7 months to rank for super competitive keywords like ‘3d printing’ on Google.ca and ‘3D scanner’ on Google.com and .ca.
Overall, I managed to increase the traffic of this startup by over 500%.
Due to this steady growth, it didn’t take that long for them to get acquired either.
This is what our COO of Pinshape (Who is now a director at Shopify.com) said:
In the process, I also achieved #1 spots for many converting keywords, including the following:
|Keyword||Position||Search Volume (US)||Search Volume (Canada)|
These first sport rankings are maintained today as well.
Feel free to verify these ranking on Google yourself.
If you are interested in learning about the exact changes I made to achieve these results, check out this website case study on Pinshape.Pinshape
How I Grew Pinshape’s Monthly Traffic By 500%
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”.
Just so you know, over forty thousand people type this keyword every month on Google.com
In an industry as RUTHLESS as the pharmaceutical industry (Negative SEO attacks left and right), 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” and 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 every SEO consultant is capable of making such decisions. Reason is most SEO’s lack experience working with large enterprise sites. 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.
3. The Organically Challenged
Surprisingly, a lot of startups fall into this category.
Due to having great products / services and good initial PR buzz, your startup has managed to create a popular “brand” in a short time.
At this point, you are probably successful and 1000s of people know about your product or service.
However, when it comes to your website’s presence on Google, you are still missing an equal or greater amount of fresh new eyes.
Although people can find you online by typing your brand name, your growing startup still has zero online presence for searches related to your product(s) or service(s) in your industry.
Hence missing out on a giant slice of the organic traffic pie.
There is some good news though . . .
If you are “Organically challenged”, you most likely have one great SEO advantage:
High quality backlinks that are pointing to your site right now.
What I’ve found is startups (Especially the successful ones from Kickstarter, Shark Tank etc) who get tons of traffic coming in from brand related keywords, also have some high quality backlinks (Due to successful PR campaigns, going viral, etc).
So if your startup has high quality backlinks and tons of PR, why aren’t you ranking for the generic searches within your industry?
Reason is your site architecture is a mess.
The biggest issue startups in this category have is their website is plagued with tons of technical SEO errors.
This prevents Googlebot (Name of Google’s spider) to crawl your site properly.
What Google can’t crawl, it can’t rank.
Let me give you a quick tip here . . .
Get SEMrush and run a complete side audit.
It will help you uncover the majority of the changes that is blocking this ‘link juice’ and then you’ll eventually start ranking for other keywords.
Just like you do for your current branded keywords.
Then it’s all about continuing the growth by adding awesome content and building backlinks on a regular basis.
As far as case studies go, I have two for you here.1. Private SAAS Startup
PRIVATE SAAS Startup
This private and well funded Vancouver startup 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.
FORMLABS – The Poster Child For “The Organically Challenged” Startup
Long story short, this site was a complete mess. Branded keywords were bringing in tons of traffic but due to their technical seo issues, they had no real traffic from niche relevant keywords. The Formlabs tech team was 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 thousands of 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.
4. The Child
There are many startups today who care more about customer acquisition (Users) than monetization. Making money is definitely a goal of every startup but sometimes, it is delayed to further grow and perfect the product. It’s a business model that is now becoming more common. Just look at pretty much any social media network.
Facebook, Instagram is a great example of this. They didn’t start the monetization until years later.
If this sounds like your startup, SEO is an ideal channel for you. You most likely have the funding and the time to invest in SEO.
No doubt about it.
The sooner you get involved the better.
5. The Repeatedly Bootstrapped
This is a tricky one.
I’ve come across a few startups who have great products but have zero marketing budget. All because they failed to secure decent funding or burned their marketing budget on something that was a total disaster.
Basically, you made a wrong decision and are paying the price for it.
Now bootstrapped once again, you are holding on by a thread. Spending around 500 bucks a month on paid ads, making a few sales to break even every month, and desperately looking for alternative ways to get some kind of financing.
In this case, unfortunately I can’t personally help you as my fees are over your marketing budget but what I can recommend is my ‘SEO for Startup’ marketing video course.
If you can check your email, you can use my course to position your startup to keep growing. Once you do secure funding or get the right financing, get involved with SEO asap.
6. The One
So your startup got the funding that you were looking for and are now ready to take over the world. Congratulations.
I’ve found that a lot of startups at this point don’t even have a website setup. If they do, it’s just a 2-3 page site (More like a corporate site). If you are just about to start a website, you definitely need to invest into SEO.
If you get things right from the start (Site structure as an example), you will be putting yourself in a position where you can dominate your industry (Especially on Google).
As I mentioned, there two types of startups here.
Plan Of Action:
If you don’t have a website
- Create a website first. No brainer of course but you’ll be surprised how many startups don’t have one. Are you one of them?
- If you got funded on Kickstarter or have some solid buzz behind you, I would contact each of the websites where your brand is mentioned and ask them to link to you immediately. Most likely, they would love to do it because frankly speaking, they were looking for your website when they were doing a write up on your product / service but couldn’t find one. So now it’s your chance to seize this opportunity immediately.
- Final step, follow my SEO strategy here.
If you do have a website:
- Start looking into creating a solid SEO strategy right away. If you would like to get in touch or learn more about how SEO can help your business, simply contact me.
A good example of this site is one of my favorite clients so far. Check out how I sold out their entire inventory.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it valuable.
If you would like to learn about my 4 step formula for SEO, click below:How Will I SEO Your Site
Although every SEO has their own style and their own set of tools and techniques that they like to use, my entire SEO process is done in 4 steps.
In a nutshell, it’s all about fixing what’s wrong (Site architecture from the inside / backend), improving on what we can (On-page, Content, etc) and then working with what we have to push your site up to the first page for your chosen keywords (By building links or better known as Off-Page SEO).
So when someone types in the keywords you want to rank for, your site shows up and the user takes the desired action.
Once this ball starts rolling, we then get into advanced strategies and start making a serious dent in your niche.
Of course there is so much more to the entire process but in a “nutshell”, this is all there is to it.
Once we connect (In person, phone, Skype, etc) and we agree on moving forward, the games will begin.
Anyways, here are the 4 steps I mentioned earlier in a lot more detail:
- Site Structure and Negative SEO Audit
- On Page
- Off Page
- Advanced Strategies
This is exactly how I will take on your project (Your website).
My SEO Process
|1||Site Structure Audit||In the first 30 days, it's all about setting your site up for success. You'll see me move stuff around in the backend and make more "Technical" changes, setup keyword tracking, etc. If this step is finished in the first few weeks, and the changes indexed, you should start seeing some positive upward trend in the overall keywords at this very stage.||Fixing what’s wrong with the site from a technical level. So Google can crawl your site freely. Link building (Step 3) begins at this stage as well.||I like to wrap this stage up within the first 30 days so I can fully concentrate on Off Page (Link Building) and the overall growth of the site.|
|2||On Page Optimization||The upward movement of your keywords should be more apparent at this stage.||Optimizing existing content, adding ‘alt’ tags on images, using ‘Headings’, etc. Goal is to organize your current content and make it count in the search engines.||Like all the tasks, this one is an ongoing one as well. However, I like to optimize at least the main pages in the first 30-60 days so we can position ourselves under the proper keywords.|
|3||Off Page Optimization||Around the 90 day mark, you should start to see some solid movement in the overall traffic.||Although this stage starts from day 1, my overall goal is to get here 100% asap. After I’m done with Step 1 and step 2, I focus strictly on Step 3 which is acquiring links. The life blood of any site.||As I mentioned earlier, this is where I like to be as soon as I can as getting good links is the most hardest part of SEO. Link building starts from day 1 (During site audit phase). If link building stops, you rankings will fall.|
|4||Advanced Strategies||This is where we start to drill down on certain high volume keywords or other strategies that will help the business grow faster.||Depending on the nature of the business, this is where opportunities start to present themselves. We also dig deeper into acquiring authority links and advanced keyword research. This is next level stuff.||Like all the steps, this one is ongoing but I concentrate on this after we get to Step 3 and learning more about the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of your business.|
Phase 1: Site Structure and Negative SEO Audit
This is commonly known as a ‘Site Audit’ but I like to call it ‘Site Structure Audit’. I think it’s more specific and focuses on the problem more.
Plus there are so many of these so called ‘site audit’ services out there that it has killed any integrity behind this phrase.
Anyways, this is where I will see what’s wrong with your site’s architecture and your existing backlink profile (Negative SEO issues, redirect chains, etc) and try to fix them as soon as possible.
Let’s start with the site architecture . . .
When your site structure is broken or has internal conflicts, it means the ‘link juice’ isn’t being passed around properly.
Link juice refers to the “points” you receive when other sites link to you. Think of it as Google’s voting system. The more sites link to you, the higher your rankings are going to be.
Obviously the entire process is much more complicated than this but this is the main idea.
So to get things going, I will kick things off with a tool called SEMRush.
I will run your site on it and do a full audit. This will tell me exactly what’s holding your site’s progress back (Especially the technical errors).
Some of the most common issues that are uncovered are:
- Internal Broken links / pages – Also known as 404 Errors.
- Redirect chains (Don’t even get me started on these . . .).
- Duplicate content – Google penalizes sites if they are repeating the same content in different places on the site.
- Duplicate titles – Similar issue as above.
- and the list goes on . . .
Anyways, the whole idea is to fix any existing problems first before moving forward.
If your site’s architecture is still an issue, we will run your site on other more advanced tools such as DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog etc.
Let The Tracking Begin
In the initial ‘Site Audit’, I will also set up a few tools to monitor the current status and future movement on your site.
Reports including but not limited to:
- Benchmark Report.
- Keyword Tracking.
- Weekly Site Health Crawl.
Here is an example of a “Benchmark Report” of one my existing clients. It’s not sexy but it’s to the point and does the job.
Although each business presents it’s own unique metrics, in most cases, I track the following:
- Organic Sessions from Google.
- New Organic Sessions.
- Bounce Rate.
- Average Time Spent.
- Referral Traffic.
- Direct Traffic.
- Conversion Rate.
- New Top 3 Positions (New keywords on the first 3 positions on Google).
- New 4-10 Positions.
- New 11-50 Positions.
- Clicks (Google Search Console).
of course tracking is quite important so I will set up all of these for us during this ‘site architecture audit’ phase.
Usually in the first week or so.
This is to check how your keywords are performing.
Definitely a must – DUH!
We will monitor what keywords are working and will create a new keyword list (Converting keywords with low competition) to gain some ground quick.
Site Health Crawl (Weekly)
This regular ‘crawl’ will help us find and fix broken links, pages and other unforeseen errors. This crawl helps us ‘maintain’ the site’s functionality which will makes it ‘easier’ for Google to crawl us. Best part, there is also the ability to compare the changes from the previous time we ran a crawl. So we know exactly what’s improving and what still needs improvement.
Negative SEO Audit
I also do a Negative SEO check before I begin any kind of work. It’s part of my preliminary checks. If your site is under a ‘NegSEO’ attack, taking care of these bad links will automatically become a priority.
Regrettably, Negative SEO is as common as ever.
In fact, I haven’t had a single site that I’ve worked on which ended up on the first page for it’s desired keywords that DIDN’T get hit by Negative SEO. It’s just part of the SEO landscape now.
Whether you are a small car rental company or a massive VC funded tech startup, when you end up on the first page, someone will try to attack you.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is when spammers try to link to your site from various low quality sites (Porn, Child Porn, Penis enlargement sites, etc).
If your site is under a Negative SEO attack, I will inform you immediately as getting rid of these links is the first priority.
Good news is I’m an expert at finding and disavowing these bad links (Working in the Pharma industry teaches you a think or too). I’ve brought several sites from being spammed to becoming a total ‘model’ website (Including Pinshape and Formlabs).
In fact, a lot of the domains that I buy for testing now and then are sometimes under a negative SEO attack.
Since I know how to clean them quick, it’s not a big deal for me.
Negative SEO is annoying and time consuming, but not something I can’t take care of.
I’m a big believer in prevention so I implement “Backlink Alerts” on all my sites.
Right off the bat.
This gives me the time to disavow any bad links before they really take effect.
It’s always good to stay ahead of the game.
These days, this is a must.
Not just so we can see all the new links coming in but also to monitor any bad ones (Negative SEO).
Here is what a “Backlink Alert Report” looks like:
You’ll be getting these emails on a regular basis (If you choose to receive them).
I monitor them anyways.
This is how far I’ll go with reporting and we won’t move forward until your site’s current architecture is on point.
Although I do start link building from day one (Most important part of SEO in my opinion), I will need to sort out your site’s architecture simultaneously.
After all, what’s the point of building links if they are not really helping us right?
Common Site Architecture Mistakes
Now we are about to get in a lot of detail, if you still find all this stuff interesting, keep reading or this would be a really good time to take action so we can start working together.
Okay . . . here we go . . .
When it comes to optimizing a site’s architecture, I see tons of ‘weird’ things on people’s websites.
One of the most common errors I see directly related to the site architecture are:
- Hosting blogs on sub-domains.
- Blogs don’t even exist . . . Yes believe it or not, even in this day and age, there are sites with no blogs.
- Sub-domain hosted customer support software (Freshdesk, Zendesk, etc).
- External links without the “nofollow” tag.
- Redirect chains.
- Hosting images on a subfolder.
Hosting A Blog On A Sub Domain
Well before we get into this, let me share what a Sub-Domain really is.
This is an example of a sub-domain:
This is an example of a sub-folder:
Blogs on sub-domains eh? Can I ask why? Why would you do this?
Sub domains are considered completely separate by Google. They are seen as different domains.
So long story short, whatever work you are doing on your main domain (Building backlinks, outreach, etc) you need to do the exact same thing for your sub-domain to gain any kind of traction.
Get it? Why do double the work for no reason?
Solution . . . move it to a sub-folder and do a proper 301 redirect.
Now your main domain is on it’s way to become a giant authority site.Nice!
When I started working on Pinshape.com’s site, this was one of the first change I implemented. Which was moving the blog from a subfolder to a subdomain.
We did the change and then boom!
Our traffic finally started moving in the right direction.
People who support sub domains are people who like writing articles about things to boost their ego instead of actually ‘testing’ things out themselves.
I don’t give advice that I haven’t personally tested myself.
Here is Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz and someone who’s considered an authority on SEO (Not by me) but by most.
You Don’t Even Have A Blog
This one is a shocker. I’ve seen some beautiful sites that are full on e-commerce or lawyer sites but have no blog or anything that even remotely serves the purpose of a blog.
A blog is a place where your potential customer can learn about your business. It’s also there to increase your footprint in the search engines.
More content = A larger and growing footprint in Google.
So by not having a blog, you are literally missing out on tons of traffic.
Anyways, a blog is where a potential lead can learn more about you. It’s a tool to create a connection with whomever you are trying to connect with. If you don’t have a relationship with someone, how do you plan to help them with your product or service?
A good blog also converts.
Example from the Home Furniture Niche:
When I was working at Cymax (One of the Top 200 e-retailers in the world), we added a blog and hyperlinked various words (Bedroom furniture, tv sets, etc) to our shopping cart. We added tracking to those links and soon our blog was producing sales too (According to our Google Analytics).
So one of the first things I would recommend is getting a blog. I like to use WordPress here. I would advice your tech team or person to do this immediately or I can get involved as well.
The SEO advantage of a blog is you are adding regular content / growing your site and increasing your authority in your niche.
Which is always welcomed by your users and therefore Google as well.
In fact, this is just the best way to describe how important content is.
In this case, a picture is definitely worth a 1000 words . . . or more 🙂 (Inside SEO joke).
Sub-domain hosted customer support software (Freshdesk, Zendesk, etc)
This is just sad to see.
Every time I see something like
and it turns out to be a Freshdesk or Zendesk installation, it just hurts.
If your customers are already use to this section then it is what it is but I can’t wait for the day when a proper customer support system is invented that is actually hosted on a subfolder.
Think about it.
Now that you know the importance of having stuff on sub-folders, can you imagine all that content, all those links, all that regular movement on a sub-folder instead of a sub-domain?
Talk about wasting some solid search engine real estate.
The ONLY time you should have a support section on a sub-domain is:
- If your support section or whatever that you are trying to share with your clients or customers is “private”. In another words, you don’t want non paying customers to find it.
However, if it’s a public support or help section, find a way to host it on a sub folder.
There are TONS of solutions out there.
Please avoid these sub-domain hosted customer support systems when possible.
External Links Without The “nofollow” Tag.
When you point a link to another site, you are giving away your ‘link juice’.
Link Juice is ‘authority’ created when other sites link to you. That’s how you get ‘link juice’.
A lot of people don’t know this but back in the day (Early days of Google), when the rage was to get links from sites with a high Page Rank (Google’s own metric), that’s where the term “link juice” comes from.
Of course it’s a dead metric and has been for a while now but the reason I brought this up is this is where the whole ‘link building’ and ‘link juice’ thing started.
When people found out that all you need is links from other sites (Link Juice) to shoot up in the search engines, all hell broke lose.
The creative (Mostly toxic) methods created by spammers threw the whole Google Page Rank thing in a frenzy and and it was then Google started clamping down on this whole backlinks thing.
So yeah, that’s where this ‘link juice’ thing comes from.
Bottom line, links from other sites are still important but now the whole process is as complex as ever.
So going back to the main point . . .
Why do you need to add a ‘nofollow’ tag on external links?
It’s so your own ‘link juice’ isn’t passed on to other sites.
There is nothing wrong with linking to other sites but add a ‘nofollow’ tag on your external links (Links pointing to other sites).
I did the same thing on the entire Pinshape Blog after moving it and our traffic just kept going up. Not sure if you know this but one of our blog post is #1 for the keyword ‘3D Scanner’ on Google.ca and Google.com.
#1 for 3D Scanners on Google.com | Verify Results
#1 for 3D Scanners on Google.ca | Verify Results
I got them a few other high volume and tons of other mid volume first page spots as well.
So what I like to do is add a ‘NoFollow’ tag on 99% of external links on your site. Except 3-5 that are going to some super authority sites like Wikipedia, Forbes, or some other leader in your niche.
Speaking of NoFollow links, people think that when it comes to link acquisition, only do-follow links matter.
Well that is completely false as well.
Google’s algorithm is smart enough to realize a quality link. NoFollow or not. Also getting links of both kind look more natural to Google anyways. I never look at whether a link is ‘nofollow’ or not. I look at the overall quality of the site and if need be, I dig deeper using backlink tools such as AHREFS.
You know some things are just beyond pure . . . silliness.
Before we get really deep with this, let me share what a redirect is.
Let’s say you have a page that you don’t want to use anymore.
Perhaps your are now only selling a newer version of your product so you want to delete the ‘older’ page.
The proper way of doing it would be to:
- Finish the new page.
- Delete the old page.
- 301 Redirect the old page to the new page.
Pretty straight forward stuff right?
Now let’s say you have various models (So multiple pages) of that product but you need to consolidate them into just one page.
What would you do?
- Finish the new page.
- Delete the old pages (Other models).
- 301 Redirect the old pages to the new page.
However, some *clears throat* . . . human beings out there, would make a ‘chain’ of all the various models and then point them to the final page?
Yeah I know . . .
I can’t process this either.
Now imagine doing this 1000s of times.
That was the story with one of my clients.
Hosting Images On Your Main Domain
This is a killer insider tip that I almost don’t want to give away. I don’t know of any SEOs who ever talked about it.
Guess you can’t talk about things you haven’t figured out so that’s understandable.
Just recently, one of my clients traffic started going down hill.
It was weird because we had all the NegSEO alerts and prevention tactics setup but the traffic still kept dipping.
Our top 10 keywords stayed intact but our long tail keyword rankings were diminishing quickly.
Something was wrong . . .
After digging deeper into the issue, I found out that spammers were targeting images on our site. Instead of linking to our text pages, they would link to the images. Google still passes juice off of images and since pretty much all third party tools out there don’t track links pointing to images (Only links coming from images on other sites) this type of new NegSEO attack was completely undetectable.
Lucky for us, all our images were hosted on a subdomain so I quickly ran a check on our sub-domains, found out all the weird links and disavowed them.
This alone is a strong reason to host your images on a sub-domain.
Another reason your images should be hosted on sub-domains are because your images will load a lot faster thus increase your overall site speed (Which is a metric that Google looks at now).
How does putting images on a sub-domain increase a site’s loading speed?
When everything is on one domain, Google has to ‘struggle’ to get all that data. When you your images are hosted on a subdomain (Not a sub-folder), Google has two threads to pull information through.
One for text (Main domain) and One for images (Sub domain).
2 Threads make the flow of data much smoother and faster.
Which at then end, makes your site load a lot faster.
That was a nice explanation (Pats himself on the back).
Phase 2: On Page SEO
This is where I optimize the site with your typical ‘Title Tags’, using headings, sub headings, etc.
I also look for any duplicate content that we can take care of (That we may have discovered) in Step 1 (Site Architectural Audit) and will use smart ways to increase your current search engine footprint.
Again, depends on the site and the niche.
For example: One of my latest clients had tons of blog posts but they were around 300 – 500 words. So I combined the ones that I could (The ones that made sense of course) and re-published those posts (Added the proper 301 redirects as well).
At the end each post was well over a 1000 words.
Our traffic continues to be on the up and up.
Bottom line is Google loves long authoritative copy.
I also like to see if there are some other forms of media that might be missing like PDFs, Infographics, Videos, Audio, etc.
From my experience, the more different types of media you have, the more of an authority you become.
Eventually, Google starts ranking you like one as well. Again, this is more of an ongoing thing.
So at this stage, is basically tweaking content and adding the proper keywords where they should be.
After the initial keywords are placed throughout the site, I will start working on a more ‘advanced’ keyword list that will help us rank and increase conversions faster.
As the days go by, I will start ‘sprinkling’ keywords from this list as well.
Keyword research is also an ongoing thing.
As the landscape of your niche changes, so will the keywords.
Phase 3: Off Page SEO (Link building)
Although I start link building from day one, this is the most powerful (Also the most difficult) stage. Lucky for me, I actually enjoy link building a lot.
My goal is to wrap up the first two phases in the first 30 days and get to this stage as soon as possible.
Link building is something I really enjoy because it get’s results.
I love getting results. It’s one of my core values.
I get all my links from where most SEOs get them.
- Blog Comments
- Web 2.0s
- Guest Posts
All the usual suspects.
There is no secret “trick” to getting up there.
The only secret is HUSTLING and putting in the work.
My only simple ‘trick’ is I go after sites that have a TF of 30 (+/- 5) or more. Basically super quality links.
Since I’ve been doing SEO for so long, I have my own growing list of trusted authority sites that I use on a regular basis for all my clients (Guest Posts, Forums, Citations, etc).
List that I’ll be using for your site as well for some quick and consistent results.
Phase 4: Advanced Strategies
This stage depends on the business or the market you’re involved in.
As you start marketing a site and begin to understand the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of a business, most of the time, these things reveal themselves.
I like this stage because it helps bring out my natural creativity. For some out of the box fun 🙂
When I started working with Pinshape, I had no clue about 3D Printing (I usually have zero to basic knowledge about what my clients sell or do). I just apply my 4 step process and things begin to improve.
However, after I did my keyword research, I noticed people who are interested in 3D files (Our main product), would usually type in ‘3d printed guitar’ or ‘3d printed car’, etc.
Basically the world “3D printed” + “the keyword’.
I then did some further digging around using SEMrush and found a whole bunch of keywords that were using the same format.
Soon I took action and added ‘3d printed’ it to the URL of each 3d file we had.
So basically, 1000s of pages right across the board.
Our traffic exploded!
A while ago I was working for Vancouver Cigar Company (They were the biggest Cuban cigar suppliers on the West coast in Canada) at that time.
I looked at our analytics and noticed that there were certain brands that just stuck out.
The ‘Top visited pages’ section showed me there are definite sections of the site that are way more popular then others.
So I arranged our menu bar and made those brands more apparent. This simple move increased our sales by up to 20%.
As cliche as it sounds, when you give your customers what they want easier and faster, good things happen.
Also for obvious reasons, I can’t talk about too much in this section. I only discuss this with the people I work with. That said, even my advanced strategies are 100% white hat.
I just do things in a smart way.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Can I See Real SEO Results From Your Effort?
The politically correct answer is every site and niche is different bla bla bla.
I don’t like that answer.
The truth is once we complete the Site Architecture audit month (Phase 1), we should should start to see positive movement in the overall traffic.
After all, you can’t compete in NASCAR if you don’t have a proper racing car right?
You will see a majority of site errors decrease and keywords moving up.
Basically, we’ve now started to move in the right direction.
What is TF?
TF stands for Trust Flow. It’s a metric introduced by a company called Majestic. Although there are tons of metrics out there, I’ve found that TF is the most solid one. I like to stick with what works.
That’s pretty much it.
That’s how I SEO.
Being smart where I need to be but mostly just good old fashioned hard work.
How often can I see a report?
If you sign up with SEMrush like 99% of my clients do, after I set it up properly, you can then log in anytime. If not, then I’ll add you on my SEMrush account and will send you reports weekly or monthly.
How Long Will It Take?
SEO is a long term game. I like to sign a 6 month contract because it’s long enough for the backlinks that I acquire to get indexed (Some get indexed right away, some might take a few weeks, etc). I’ve noticed this is a very healthy timeline to not only implement ideas but to see results as well.
Another important clause in the contract is us re-negotiating after 6 months. of course that is dependent on results but something I like to share right off the bat. I like to work with businesses who are in the long term and have some idea of the massive long term potential of SEO.
Why are you so transparent?
There are 4 reasons why I’m so transparent.
- My philosophy is share a good chunk of what you know and charge for implementation. of course I can’t share everything as I like to reserve the real good stuff for my clients (To maintain competitive advantage) but I try my best.
- I like bouncing off ideas with my clients. Best way to take things to the next level.
- I’ve found the more my clients know about SEO, the more fun the project is.
- I’m also somewhat of a spiritual person. Doing ‘weird’ or ‘silly’ things to my clients or anyone will cause ‘weird’ and ‘silly’ things to happen in your own life. Simple as that. Sorry not interested in that at all.
- I’m confident in my results and the work I do. I can share everything I know but implementation only comes with experience and guts. Especially in the SEO world.
Is it easy to contact you / have meetings, etc after we sign?
I literally live on my laptop. Email communication is answered within 24 hours and you can always call me. If I’m travelling and working from another city, which I do several times a year, I can probably reply to you within 48 hours max.
I also have 1 on 1 meetings with some of my clients on Skype on a regular basis. Whether I’m travelling or not.
Can you elaborate more on your Link Building?
I ONLY do white hat link building. No PBNs (Private blog network) no weird spammy stuff. As I mentioned earlier, it all depends on what kind of business or market I’m working in and where do they currently stand in the search engine jungle.
How Much Do You Charge?
Since each project is unique, the best way for me to send you a quote is after I do a Free Video SEO Audit.
I like everything I’ve seen so far but how come this very site doesn’t rank for ‘SEO’ or keywords like that?
I started this site just a few months ago. SEO takes time. It’s a long term game. Besides I’m only interested in getting direct traffic from now. Thanks for asking.
Have you worked with other big companies?
Yes! Lot’s of them 🙂
Also check out my recent / case study section
or my LinkedIn Profile.
For obvious reasons, I don’t share all my clients but this should give you a good idea.
To learn more about SEO in general, keep reading.
You just might pick up a few tips and tricks which can be applied right away by your current digital marketing person.
As an SEO specialist, I forget that most startup CEOs and founders 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. This is probably the most straight to the point free SEO training course out today (It makes the “SEO for Dummies” book look like a little baby).
Most of these questions are actually asked by my clients / prospects themselves.
It’s amazing what you learn from the people you work with. Keep them coming.
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 somewhere on the international stage, you must end up 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 batches. This page you are on right now has over 10,000 words.
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! I mean I’ve heard about people offering SEO services without knowing anything about it but man, this was scary.
Anyways . . .
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):
- I will run your site on SEMrush. This will literally identify 90% of the issues.
- 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.
- Then I will run a thorough Negative SEO check using Cognitive SEO.
- 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 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, eBay 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.
What is the Panda Update in SEO?
The Google panda update was released to go after sites that had thin (Low word count), duplicate or just low quality content. Backlinks are important but so is content. When you do both properly, there is no stopping you. A lot of marketers, executives and even CEOs were pissed off after this update because they thought there weren’t doing anything wrong. To be honest, most of them weren’t but this is what started the ‘long copy’ craze. This update basically pushed everyone to put out quality content or don’t put out anything.
What is Hummingbird in SEO?
Hummingbird is another SEO update by Google. Unlike other updates that went after sites doing weird things, this update actually gave better rankings to websites who were doing things properly. Many webmasters reported higher rankings after this update was released.
What is the Penguin update in seo?
This update specifically targeted sites trying to game the system by using spammy and sketchy backlinking. This was basically the opposite of the Google Panda update. If you were getting hundreds of links from article directories that were jam packed with duplicate content, your site went down.
How To Write An SEO Title
This is one of my favorite and easiest way to get a quick boost in rankings.
Whether it’s for your website, your Etsy page or anything of that nature, a title tag can steer your page under your chosen keyword. Anyone who thinks title tags don’t count obviously doesn’t know SEO. Their input literally doesn’t matter.
The SEO benefit of using a title tag are enormous. If you are trying to get it well then guess what . . . you will. Whether you are one of the beginner WordPress users, use a title tag. Especially if you’ve installed the Yoast plugin. I like to use Platinum SEO as Yoast is not my type but still.
It all depends on the overall structure of your website and what you are trying to accomplish. Like what is your end goal for that webpage? To sell a product, are you just creating a landing page, an about us page perhaps, a page to display certain images, embedding youtube videos or a mix of all things etc
These days it’s becoming almost fashionable to not optimize the homepage title. I’ve seen bloggers do it too. Anyways, that is moving into a different tangent so I won’t get into it now.
Example of how important a title is:
Let’s say that you and your competitor have the same number of quality links and content. If your title contains your keyword, you will rank higher. Maybe by 3-5 spots. So it’s a good idea to edit your title properly. It will help your rankings.
How do you change your title tag and how should you use them?
Right from your CMS. Simply type it in one page at a time.
When you’re doing on page seo, it’s not a necessity to prioritize certain tasks but make sure you work on your title tag at some point. After all, you only need to work on it once (In most cases) and then you can go focus elsewhere.
So on a technical level, what exactly is a ‘title’ tag when it comes to search engine optimization and what keywords should go in it?
A title tag is part of what is known as meta tags.
The classic meta tags are the title tag, description tag and keyword tag.
So how do you create that perfect title? What goes in it? A good title must contain the keyword you want that specific page to rank for. Reason is a title tag is the first “On page” element on a page and it serves as an anchor.
Also it can’t be too long or have too many words. That’s not a good attribute of a proper title. An ideal title is under 60 characters. The thing you need to ask yourself when writing a title tag is what do you need your visitor to do? This is where you need to put some thought in. You can use a creative tagline but make sure your keyword is in it. See what the competition doing is and go from there.
What you shouldn’t do when using title tags.
- Use all caps. It’s not necessary. You are not filling out a government form where you have PRINT the letters. It won’t hurt your SEO directly but users won’t click on it as it’s annoying. This will lower your CTR and eventually, you will
- Duplicate titles. Doing this kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Yeah Google just wants to rank one page per keyword or keyphrase so don’t over do it. It will affect your SEO in a bad way.
- Using symbols or hyphens. Again, unnecessary. You can use a separator but that’s how far you should take it.
- Adding a double space. Don’t add numbers either.
- Or doing anything weird hoping to score points with Google.
- Do not include the word ‘Homepage’. Why not add a relevant keyword instead?
Here are examples of some good effective titles:
- Digital Camera For Sale At $500 at JB Electronics
- Save 40% Off Pancake Mixes | Name of Company
- Free Trial of John’s Import Investment Software
Now this is the bad version of these titles (Do not pick from these):
- Buy Cheap Digital Camera For Sale at $500 only at JB Electronics
- Pancake Mixes, Cheap Pancake Mixes, Protein Pancake Mixes.
- Try our investment, financing, loan software free limited free trial
So if you are doing any of these dont’s, kindly change your ways and remove what needs to.
Then all mighty Google will bless you with proper rankings.
The idea is to be specific and as short as possible. Spend some time and then select a proper title. Also sometimes when you update your title tag, it might not be viewable right away (Cache issues). Simply check on another browser like Safari and if it’s updated there, than you should be set.
Is Domain Forwarding Bad For SEO?
Depends on how you ‘forward’ the domain. If you use a 301 redirect, you are good to go. Anything else is just shooting your self in the foot.
A 301 shows Google that this is the final decision. 302’s tell Google that it’s just a ‘temporary’ redirect which leaves Google in some sort of a limbo.
Once Google sees a 301, it will pass on the existing ‘link juice’ to the domain you want to ‘forward’ things too and it’s done. So bottom line, to not hurt your existing SEO when domain forwarding, use a 301 redirect.
What is “Bounce Rate” in SEO?
This metric refers to how soon a person ‘bounces’ off your site or a specific page. The lower your bounce rate, the more important your page is to the user. Or in another words, the user is spending more time on it.
Do “Bounce Rate” effect SEO?
Yes. Big time. Think about it . . . Imagine your competitor has a backlink profile quite similar to yours and they also happen to be just as big as you online. However, a visitor usually spends more time on your site instead of theirs.
So what does this tell Google?
Your site is more useful so therefore Google will rank yours much higher.
It’s simple as that.
It’s only in Google’s best interest to showcase results that people want.
In this case, your site won. So just create good content for your users and you won’t have to worry about it. One thing is for sure, bounce rate matters.
Does having an SSL Certificate help SEO?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. At this point, all you need to know is having an SSL certificate means your site is secure. Especially to your visitors.
So having an SSL will only help your site. Now does it effect your Google rankings or improve them? In my experience I will say yes. Especially recently with Google recently announcing that any site without the SSL certificate will be clearly pointed out for Chrome users.
So get an SSL for your site if you don’t have one.
If you already have an SSL certificate that is expired, renew it immediately. Nothing will make your site look outdated or more unprofessional. An expired SSL certificate basically screams at a visitor that you might have abandoned your website and are no longer in business.
Is SEO Worth The Investment?
If having a free source of traffic (Granted it does take time to establish it) for life not an important investment to you than by all means, keep doing things the way you already are.
However, with literally everything moving online (Especially with smartphones), if you are not taking advantage of online traffic, you are missing out on a big piece of the free and targeted traffic pie.
If you’ve already invested in PPC, you already know how important SEO is.
I would love to dive in but I have no intention of working with businesses who don’t know what SEO is in the first place.
Does hosting location affect seo?
I love technical SEO questions like this. Yes hosting location does affect your SEO. Whether you use the classic shared hosting or even self host.
For example, if you are serving the US market, it’s best to host your site on a US data centres or US server. Changing web hosting might not improve your site on an international level but for local US traffic, your rankings will definitely improve.
Rule of thumb is if your site serves the Canadian market, then find a local Canadian host. I personally haven’t done any tests on this specific thing but I always try match the hosting’s location with where the majority of my customers are coming from.
What is the Robots.txt file in SEO?
As the name implies, the robots.txt file simply helps you block and allow certain spiders like Googlebot, Yandex, etc.
It serves as a layer of protection too. For example, one day you decide that you want to block all the Russian and Chinese search engines from indexing your site. All you have to do is block them through your robots.txt file.
If you are using WordPress, there are a few plugins that will help you edit your Robots.txt file without wasting time through the control panel.
Do Google Reviews Help SEO?
When it comes to SEO, everything helps. Google reviews in particular will help you if your business serves the local market. For local rankings, Google reviews definitely help. So for someone like me, it wouldn’t hurt. Not necessary but definitely wouldn’t hurt.
What is Trust Flow in SEO?
Trust flow in SEO is a metric created by Majestic. It is one of the most powerful and accurate metric that I’ve found. I also talk about it here and how I use it to determine if a backlink is worth it or not. There are lots of metrics out there but I just use the Trust Flow or better known as TF and AHREFS Rank.
How Long Should an Article be in 2018?
As long as possible. What works online now is if you write on a specific topic, you need to talk about every single thing about it. That is if you want it to rank and eventually get Google to recognize you as ‘the’ source for that topic.
In other words, become an authority on the subject.
As far as word count goes, articles these days need to be over 2000 words easy. If you are writing something around 5000, then you should be good. Of course writing articles isn’t enough. Backlinks are necessary as well but as far as word count goes, shoot for 2000 to 5000 words per article.
Think writing proper guides instead of just basic re-hashed information. In rare cases, I write content for my clients too. However, you know your business more than me. The last 4000 word copy that I wrote got one of my clients on the first page for 3d printer. A 20K a month keyword.
How Do You Choose The Best Keywords For SEO?
The best way to identify keywords that will get you targeted traffic fast is to use SEMRush.
How To Hire An SEO Specialist?
The best way to hire an SEO consultant is by following this simple criteria:
• They must have some evidence of ranking sites (Case studies, etc).
• Their own site should be on the first page for keywords like SEO consultant, etc.
• They must have a LinkedIn Profile. Best social proof in my opinion.
• They must have a proper way to contact them (Phone / email).
I think rest is just common sense. If they match this simple criteria, arrange a meeting and then it’s up to you if you want to hire them.
How Can I Learn SEO At Home
The best way to learn about SEO and digital marketing is by reading up on it and then putting stuff you learn into practice. There are a gajillion so called SEO experts offering all kinds of training out there but, I only trust a few.
Check these guys out and you’ll learn more about SEO and marketing online in a few hours then most people do in a lifetime.
Don’t forget to check out my case studies as well. SEO (At least the basics) is a good thing to learn. It’s not difficult but it’s hard work for sure.
How To Identify Keywords For SEO?
To identify keywords, you need to use the proper research tools. Even after you pick up on what keywords might be right for you, then you need to determine which keywords will actually convert (Also known as buyer’s keywords). The best tool that I’ve found is SEMrush. It’s just the most accurate SEO tool around. Couple other tools like AHREFS and others have recently updated their algorithm but they don’t even come close. Whether you are doing keyword research for your blog, your Shopify store or even your Weebly site, proper keyword research is essential.
How To Name Images For SEO
The best way to name an image is by simply calling it what it is. If it’s a picture of a yellow Lamborghini than simply name that image ‘Yellow Lamborghini’. The reason you want to label images is because of Google Images. Lots of people search for images on Google and if you label them properly, the right people will be led to your site. Even if they are not buyers, the extra traffic that you will receive will only help.
How To Redesign A Website Without Losing SEO
How To Comment On Blogs For SEO?
Blog commenting is a tried and tested method of getting backlinks. I use it as well. The idea is to find blogs that are either high quality or relevant to your niche (If both then even better) and finding something that you can comment on. This is helpful for the blog you are commenting on as it’s increasing their content (Word count) and good for you as well because you are getting a chance to drop your link on another site.
Now you can’t really drop your website link directly in the comment section (Unless the topic calls for it) but you can definitely leave it behind the username that you choose to leave your comment under. This is a classic and proven way of getting backlinks. Plus it’s as white hat as it gets. Obviously you don’t want to just use one strategy and appear ‘spammy’ so it’s always good to diversify your link building as much as possible.
Is Having Privacy On Your Domain Bad for SEO?
Not at all. Getting privacy simply hides your personal contact information. It has no effect on your SEO or how Google will rank your site. Hiding or revealing your personal contact information is purely your choice. I suggest you get privacy on all your domains. This will help avoid any spammers who may try to get a hold of your personal contact information.
Do Press Releases Help SEO?
No. Not directly. Gone are the days when you could send out a press release with your site link and it would actually help boost your rankings. This was the era when article marketing was at its peak. Just like with any short term link building method, people started abusing this strategy as well and eventually this strategy died out.
Today press releases may be effective but only if it gets in a hands of a journalist or two (Good luck with that).
Do I use press releases to help me in my SEO? Not at all.
To give you an idea on how ineffective this technique is, the last time I logged into PRWeb was back in 2009.