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.
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.
SEO is more of a monthly game so I would suggest monthly.
For details, click here. BEWARE! This ‘click’ will also take you back to the top of this
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.