The purpose of this post is to help you understand what SEO is, to understand the steps you need to take to enhance your website experience for both: users and search engines, and to give you a solid blueprint you can follow to help improve website visibility.
The search engine optimization strategy outlined below is the strategy used here at Digital Innos to boost our rankings and to boost our clients’ rankings on Google. We’ll provide terminology, actionable steps you can begin implementing right away, and tools to help you achieve better results.
For each section we’ll also give you an itemized list of things that Google looks at, we’ll go over pricing so you know what to expect if you decide to outsource your SEO efforts and will go over the things you need to avoid.
Our intention is to eliminate all guesswork and to give you a powerful SEO strategy that will set your efforts and business up for long-term success.
What is search engine optimization (or SEO Optimization)?
engine optimization refers to the process of making your website
friendly to search engines (at least this is the typical definition).
- Here is our definition: Search engine optimization is the process of creating a more customer centric experience for website visitors, which include search engines.
It’s important to make this distinction because many ‘seo professionals’ out there get tunnel vision when it comes to SEO and they focus so much on optimizing for search engines that they forget about your most important visitor: your potential customer.
The best way to do SEO optimization is by finding the right balance between providing value to your visitors (typically through content) and ensuring that the same valuable information is also accessible to search engines.
And the best way to achieve this balance is by thinking of search engines as visitors with unique needs that require a few technical adjustments to access and understand your awesome content.
Suppose you decide to create an amazing blog post aimed at answering frequent questions you hear from your customers and questions you see online.
When creating the new article you decided to produce strong, informative content, and along with the text you decided to add a few images and an infographic.
In this example, the written text is fully accessible to search engines. Crawlers can access and process your title and get a sense of what your post relates to, they can read your meta description and confirm that your description matches your title, and they can crawl your post and verify what the rest of your content is exactly about.
What about your images and the beautiful infographic you added, how would a search engine like Google know what your images are all about?
The simple truth is that search engines do not know how to interpret images.They have no point of reference to be able to infer image context.
Search engines are robots that crawl your pages and try to understand them so they can then match your content with users searching for your topic. They do not have the ability to look at a photo and actually understand it.
Google (the biggest search engine in the world) is smart enough to process words and to match those words with search phrases (actually Google Is extremely good at this), but even so, in order for Google to understand your images you need to give it a little help. The way you do this is by adding what’s called an ALT attribute to your images.
An ALT attribute is an HTML tag that contains a written description of your image.
So in the example above a written description for your image might be ‘photo of a person doing a search on Google’ and for your infographic it might be “photo of a cartoon character getting in an elevator that says,‘reach the top of SERP with our powerful SEO strategy’”.
By adding alt attributes you are telling Google ‘hey Google, these images are related to my blog post, and in fact, they complement the entire thing’ and at the same time you are adding value to your website because if visually impaired prospects are reading your content they can also get a clear idea of what your images are about as you added the proper descriptions.
Do you see what we mean by maintaining the right balance between adding value for your users and making that value accessible to search engines?
You should always aim at enhancing your user experience. If you do this you will automatically grab Google’s attention as its robots will have everything they need to understand and digest your content in its entirety.
Google loves to see this because in their eyes your website is optimized for every possible user out there including itself.
So to solidify what SEO is: Search engine optimization is the process of creating a more customer centric experience for website visitors, which include search engines.
Now that you know what SEO is and what it does let’s talk about some terms that are important.
The reason we decided to create a dedicated section for SEO terminology is because you need to be able to communicate and understand the SEO language when doing research. Learn the basics and research will become second nature.
Although some of the more common terms were included, this list is by no means complete. There are hundreds of terms out there and every country and individual uses something unique.
Here we go:
Alt Attribute (AKA ALT text, ALT tag): This is an HTML tag used to add image descriptions (helps search engines process your images and helps visually impaired or blind users better understand images in your content).
Anchor Text: This is the text for a URL that links to a different page. For example, the following is an anchor text for our seo services page.
Backlink: This is a reference to one of your pages (usually a blog post from another website linking back to either a blog post on your site, or your home page). Backlinks are without a doubt one of the most important aspects of SEO. We will discuss backlinks in detail later on.
Blog: A page on your website (or on its own) that is used to provide informative content for your intended target audience. For example, this is our marketing blog page.
Blog post: A piece of content created with the purpose of answering customer questions. A blog post is what appears in a blog page. Always aim at adding important content, stay away from dull content that does not add value. It’s better to have 1 powerful post than to have 10 bad ones (take this advice seriously) so quality over quantity every time.Blog outreach: The process of reaching out to authoritative sites on your niche to get backlinks.
Content marketing: The process of implementing a content-based marketing strategy.
Domain Authority: This refers to how trust-worthy a website is. The higher your domain authority the higher the chances of you outranking your competitors.
Directories: A website that allows for businesses to create profiles or business listings. This helps with generating more online exposure.
Headings: These are HTML tags that help you organize content using a hierarchy. They go from h1 all the way through h6. Search engines love it when your content is well structured and well organized, so pay close attention to your h tags.
Internal linking: This is the process of creating links between your pages – usually from one of your blog posts to one of your service pages. Be careful with overdoing it because it could have negative consequences – internal linking needs to be used strategically. More on this later.
Keyword: This is the term that a user enters on a search engine when looking for a service or product. It’s called a keyword but it can be as long as it needs to be.
Keyword research: This is the process of finding relevant keywords that will then be implemented across your pages to attract new visitors to your website.
Link building: The process of acquiring more backlinks for your website – more on this later but just keep in mind that this is the process of actually getting those important backlinks that will boost your rankings.
Local citations: These are similar to directories but a bit more powerful because these platforms usually have thousands of visitors every day. Yelp.com is a local citation, Google my business is a local citation, Bing places is a local citation, manta.com is a local citation. You get the idea.
Meta description: This is the short description you see at the bottom of each result when you conduct a search on Google. This description is used to attract visitors to your offerings and it typically should contain your target key phrase.
Search Engine: These are websites where you can search for information in the internet. Google is a search engine, Yahoo is another search engine, Bing is a search engine. You get the idea.
Search engine results page (SERP): this is the page you see after conducting a search. It typically contains 10 organic results, a few ads, and depending on the search, a few local results.
SEO value: This refers to the benefit that’s passed from one page to another when getting backlinks. The higher the domain authority site is the more SEO value you will get (this is especially true when the linking domain has large quantities of organic visitors).
Sitemap: This is an XML map that provides search engines with a detailed list of all pages on your website – the purpose of a sitemap is to help search engines better crawl your website and web pages.
Spider (or crawler): These are the robots search engines use to navigate the web and to collect information. The stored information is called a cache. When you do a search on Google the crawlers go out and bring you the information you are looking for.
Title: This refers to the headline you see on results when conducting a search on Google. Titles play 2 important roles: they help Google (and other search engines) understand what your page is all about, and if you create an eye-catching title visitors are more likely to click.
Technical SEO: the process of fixing all code related errors on your website, as well as optimizing website structure for ease of use.
Value Post: Refers to a blog post that provides valuable information to potential consumers. A value post is at least 2500 words and it answers common questions related to your industry and services.
Again, this list is nowhere near complete, but it should be enough for you to understand the process we’re about to start and for you to communicate with any SEOs out there.
How to do SEO Optimization the right way
Now we have a clear idea of what SEO is, what the end goal should be (to enhance the user experience and to provide value for every visitor), and we have a solid understanding of SEO slang.
Let’s get into the fun stuff. Before we do though we need to set clear expectations.
And this needs to be done because having the wrong expectations or even a misleading expectation makes the difference between you being successful and you not succeeding.
SEO is a process, and while we all want to see our websites clime the rankings, the reality is that it takes time. It can take anywhere between 4 months to a year to see tangible results.
This is because when doing SEO we depend on Google to crawl, process, and index all relevant changes:
- It can take anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks to implement all technical fixes (depending on your current site health).
- It can take Google anywhere between 4 days and 3 weeks to update your website cache (the information stored about your website).
- The process of getting new backlinks takes time, it can take anywhere between 10 and 30 days for your link to be live.
- Even when you acquire new backlinks, Google still has to index the new link (which can happen quickly or can take several weeks).
All these factors add time to your efforts, so keep this in mind when you begin your SEO journey. Do not get discourage, if you follow our plan and you are patient you will see results. If you get anxious and begin obsessing about your results you will fail. We cannot emphasize this enough: patience is key.
Phase 1: Technical SEO
A few assumptions:
If you are reading this guide is because you are a business owner looking to grow your online presence, as such, we made a few assumptions:
- You have an existing website and you are looking to rank on Google.
- Your website has been submitted and indexed by Google.
- You have a basic understanding of HTML and how websites work in general (just the fundamentals).
- You are using content as a marketing strategy to attract new customers (or at least you are willing to switch to a content-based strategy).
- You have an existing blog on your website.
- You are willing to produce value posts to complement your individual offerings.
- you have allocated a reasonable budget for SEO purposes (at least $1,500 per month).
Free SEO Audit:
The first thing we need to do is find out what your current state is. We can’t improve unless we know what we need to improve right? As promised in the introduction, we’ll be sharing some tools to help make this work straightforward and really productive.
Here is our first contribution: A free SEO audit.
Go ahead and enter your domain below (mywebsite.com) and enter a valid email address because the SEO audit tool is going to go through your website and put together a detailed list that will show you if there are any underlying issues(just give the tool a few minutes to do its magic).
Results will be sent to your email shortly.
The first thing you will see in the SEO audit is the health of your website.
Ideally, you want your website health to be above 90%.
If you made it to 90% you are most likely in good shape. Now, we’re not saying not to try to get to 100%, but what we’re saying is that sometimes getting to 100% might not be necessary to see success.
It’s absolutely a must to get to 90% at least though. Most of the websites ranking on page one have a solid technical foundation without any major errors and covering 90% of all issues is a pretty good starting point.
If your site health is below 90% the SEO audit will list the top 3 issues that need attention.
You can begin working on whatever those are (if there are any) right away. As you fix those issues and audit your website again your health will increase.
If your health is around 50% or 60% we recommend outsourcing the technical phase to an SEO expert.
When site health is that low it typically means that there are some technical issues that require attention from a website developer. It usually indicates broken code or broken pages.
Instead of trying to figure out how to code from scratch, it would be more efficient to outsource the effort as a SEO professional usually has the background to fix those issues, or they have a developer on hand that can go in and fix those right up.
If you decide to outsource your technical SEO efforts, a good time frame to see all issues resolved is about 3 weeks. Depending on the complexity of your issues you can expect to pay between $600 to $900.
The beauty about outsourcing your technical SEO is that all your issues will be addressed and going forward you should have a solid technical foundation that’s error free. No matter what other content you add or what changes you make to existing content.
If your site health is around 70% to 80% Most times you can probably fix those on your own if you have time and some knowledge of HTML and websites in general. If you have a general understanding of HTML and websites and you know how to use Google you can find a solution for every issue out there.
Here is how:
- Look at the first issue from the completed SEO audit. If you know exactly how to fix it go ahead and do it.
- If you do not know how to fix the issue: open a browser and go to google.com. In the search type the following: how to fix issue 1 (how to fix a canonical error, how to fix a missing description meta tag, how to fix a missing title tag). Whatever the first error is do a search for it on Google. If you are using a CMS (WordPress, Wix, Shopify, etc.) you can add it at the end. Like this: how to fix a missing description meta tag in WordPress.
- Repeat steps 1 or 2 for all listed issues.
If you have absolutely no experience and have never even ventured a little into the waters of website tweaking our recommendation is to outsource it.
If you unintentionally break something and cannot reverse the change your site might be unavailable for a time. At least until you can find a developer that can fix the issue.
At this point you will most likely end up paying more because you want to get your site up and running, and you might get less for your money because the developer will focus on getting your website back online instead of focusing on your seo related issues.
This is why we recommend outsourcing the effort if you have absolutely no experience. If the developer breaks your site in the process of fixing your other issues (which happens sometimes) it’s his or her responsibility to bring everything back to normality, plus to finish implementing your SEO fixes.
Regardless of what your site health is or how you decide to approach it, you will get a list of 3 main issues to focus on, fix those 3 and run the audit once more to see if anything else needs attention. Do this until your health is at or above 90%.
Quick note for those of you using WordPress: You can download the RankMath plugin to help you do SEO from within your dashboard. You should still take advantage of my free SEO audit tool here because this tool looks at your website from the outside (the way search engines would see it), but RankMath can help you look at your website from the inside – so implementing fixes to existing issues can be more intuitive.
In rankMath you want to aim for the same: reaching at least 90% site health.
The next few items you will see in our SEO report:
- Number of pages crawled.
- Number of healthy pages.
- Number of broken pages.
- Number of pages with issues.
- Number of pages with a redirect.
- Number of blocked pages.
- And finally, you will get a summary of your total number of errors, warnings, and notices.
The one other item you must do during the technical phase is add alt attributes to all your images.
Normally this step is done during the on-page optimization phase and the reason for that is because SEOs use image alt attributes to include key phrases in image descriptions. This moves into the area of trying to manipulate search results – which is a big NO NO.
To avoid giving search engines the impression that we are attempting to manipulate results and in keeping with our own definition of SEO, we decided to add image alt attributes during the technical phase.
The goal here is simple: give all your images (including your logo) a description. Simply write what you see. Don’t try to be clever or use target keywords, just provide a genuine description of what you see in the image.
For your logo just give it your company name followed by the word logo (ABCCorpLogo). As stated before, the SEO audit will list the top 3 issues you need to focus on (including image alt attributes), make sure you fix those issues first as they will have the biggest impact in increasing the health of your website.
Unapologetic offer here 😉
If you outsource your SEO efforts to our team today we will give you a 25% discount off your total cost.
We will send you a complete list of issues, put together fair pricing based on those issues, and take 25% off.
Save hundreds and invest those funds towards other important SEO efforts like link building.
Stop right here and fix all technical issues.Bring your site health to 90%.Forget about anything else for now.
Phase 2: On-page SEO (website optimization).
At this point you should:
- Have a clear understanding of what SEO is.
- Have a website health at or above 90% (If you do not, stop, go back to the prior section and get to 90% or greater).
- Have an error-free website.
- Have descriptions for all images on your website (including logo).
Let’s get right to it.
In this section we will be covering several important topics including keyword research, keyword implementation, internal linking, and enhancing your content to make it more helpful for your users.
Doing keyword research is such an important part of SEO but there is so much useless information out there on how to do it that you can find 20 different articles and all 20 would give you a different way of doing it.
Every author out there will give you the ‘best’ tools and the ‘best’ techniques. The endless pool of information out there is turning what should be a relatively straight forward process into an overcomplicated mess.
Here is the simple truth about keyword research: you are finding search terms that your potential customers might use to find your offerings. Keyword research is as simple as that.
Now, there are some factors that go into this and that you must consider when deciding which keywords to pursue.
- Am I finding a keyword for my home page or for my individual service pages?
- How hard is it to rank for this keyword?
- How much traffic will I get from this keyword when I reach page 1?
Remember, we are taking a 0 guesswork approach for our SEO efforts and having answers to the above questions is important so we can formulate and execute the proper on-page optimization plan.
Before we begin answering those questions though, let’s go over how to do keyword research. We can’t claim that this is the ‘best’ or anything along those lines, but we can say with certainty that this process works for us and for our clients every single time.
Note that you will need to follow the steps outlined below for every page on your site – start with your home page.
- Go to Google Ads and create an account (login if you already have an account).
- Click tools and settings and click keyword planner.
- Click the ‘Discover new keywords’ button.
- In the keyword field enter a popular term that your customers might use to find your home page offerings. In my case, I needed a SEO related term so I entered: search engine optimization.
- If you already have a website you can enter your domain in the domain field – this will eliminate other brands from showing up in your results. You can leave it blank if you do not have a website but avoid targeting other brands.
- Click ‘get results’ and wait a few seconds for a list of suggestions to populate.
- Open a notepad session or word, whatever your preferred writing application is.
- From the list of suggestions, select about 5 terms with a good estimated search volume (we will do more research on those later). Terms with search volumes over 1k per month are usually good targets. We will determine which one of those terms to implement in the next few steps (100 to 1k is ideal for beginners).
A few notes:
- When doing keyword research try not to be too specific or too broad. Think in terms of what you actually offer and use that as your target keyword. For example, if you own a cleaning company, you might be tempted to do a search for ‘cleaning services’ which is ok, but go further, get just a bit more specific. Instead of searching for ‘cleaning services’ try searching for ‘house cleaning’, ‘carpet cleaning’, ‘commercial cleaning’, ‘office cleaning’. Doing this will give you a fresh list of terms and will help you get more targeted phrases. The big benefit of doing this is that an individual searching for ‘house cleaning’ might be ready to buy, where a person doing a search for ‘cleaning services’ might just be in the research stages. Think in terms of the specific services you offer and do keyword research based on services, not industry.
- Try to target keywords that have reasonable volumes and that make sense for your particular page. Don’t try to go for those words with millions of monthly searches, they are hard to rank for (and costly). Instead, see what’s available, select 4 or 5 words with reasonable search volumes(above 300 is a good starting point), and get ready to determine which one you will actually use in the next few steps.
- pro tip: if you haven’t done so, please take a few minutes to include your full business address on your website – add it to your footer (this will help Google match you with customers in your area).
Selecting the best keyword from your small keyword list:
At this point you should have the necessary steps to help you find good key terms. Make sure you memorize this process as you will need to do it for every page on your site, and you will need to do it when you add new content as well. You can also use the suggested terms as topics to write about– look at the suggested key phrases as questions that prospects have and create content to answer those questions.
You have this small list of words, if you followed my advice, they should be highly relevant, they should have a significant level of traffic, and they should be possible to rank for using a reasonable budget during the link building phase.
So how do you determine which keyword is the best one to actually use?
Let’s go over the process:
- Open a new browser window and go to www.seoreviewtools.com
- Click on tools and then click on SEO content tools.
- Find and click ‘keyword difficulty checker’.
- Enter the list of keywords you selected from the Google keyword planner – one keyword per line, check the box, and click ‘perform check’.
- Click the ‘keyword difficulty’ column to sort results from least difficult to most difficult.
- Your target keyword will be the keyword with the least difficulty.
In our case, we searched for the term ‘search engine optimization’. We selected the following from the Google keyword planner:
- seo marketing
- seo services
- seo optimization
- website optimization
- search optimization
- Seo services
- Website optimization
- Seo marketing
- SEO optimization
- Search optimization
In this case, the best target keyword and the easiest to rank for would be the term ‘seo services’ (at 69% difficulty).
A few notes:
- If you are just getting started in the SEO world we recommend aiming for keywords that are around 50% or less as far as difficulty. Finding hard keywords to rank for will only frustrate you, and of course, the more difficult your keyword is the more effort you will need to put into producing impactful content that will help you rank. So find easier keywords to rank for. If the keywords you found are over the 50% threshold go back to the keyword planner and keep looking through the suggestions.
- Google gives you a range when it comes to estimated monthly search volumes. Using SEOReviewTools’ keyword tool you can find actual monthly volumes. Just click on keyword research to the right and click the ‘check search volume’ button.
- This will give you an approximation of the monthly searches for your target keyword. In our example the keyword ‘seo services’ has a monthly search volume of 12,100.
If we put all efforts into ranking for this keyword and if we reach the first 3 spots of organic results, we could see a significant percentage of these individuals land on our website.
And that is the power of SEO in action.
One more note: SEOReviewTools offers a keyword research tool that includes a more accurate count for monthly search volumes. You can use the exact same steps to do keyword research as done in the Google keyword planner. The reason I use Google first is because Google is the target search engine I want to rank on, so using keywords they are suggesting makes sense.
You have the ideal keyword to target, you know exactly how difficult it’ll be to rank for this term, and you know how much traffic you can expect more or less. So what’s next?
Let’s go ahead and implement your keywords.
You will need to have a small understanding of HTML to do this – you don’t need to be a programmer or anything, but as long as you can follow my instructions and know how to get to your source code you should be ok.
Note: If you are using WordPress doing this will be super easy if you followed my advice earlier and downloaded RankMath.
If you implemented all technical fixes you should have everything you need already in place, now you will just make small modifications:
- open your website’s source code (in your WordPress dashboard, click all pages and click to edit your first target page).
- Find your title tag <title></title>
(in WordPress click on ‘edit snippet’).
- Add an enticing headline inside the title tags (same thing in WordPress) – keep it below 55 characters so Google displays the entire headline. Our recommendation is to keep it simple: ‘The Most Reliable house cleaners | ABCCorp’, ‘feel beautiful with our insane high heel shoes | shoesCentral’
- when adding your title try to also include your brand (this is not necessary but it helps with creating brand awareness).
A Few Notes:
- Your title tag is the text that you see displayed on search results when using Google. Having an eye-catching title is important because users see this and can be attracted to your website if you have a good headline.
- The idea here is to write an engaging headline that includes your target keyword. The important thing to understand here is that your content needs to be relevant to this keyword, if you are selling boots but you are targeting high heel shoes you are just wasting your time. Everything needs to be relevant.
- Your content needs to be valuable. If you have 100 words of content and a bunch of images you are just wasting your time. You need to ensure all your key pages have at least 1000 words. There will be pages with shorter text and we’ll teach you how to rank for those, but for our purposes here the following pages need to have at least 1000 words: home page, service page. The following pages should have at least 600 words: individual service pages, and the following need to have at least 2000 words: blog posts. Not all your blog posts need 2000 words but having at least 2 or 3 long posts will help increase your rankings.
Adding meta description:
- in your source code look for a meta description and between the content quotes enter another enticing description – same deal, make it eye-catching because this helps attract website visitors, and include your target keyword in a natural way.
- You can enter the description in WordPress the same way you added the title (Keep your description to about 160 characters).
- Save your changes.
As you can see the process of on-page optimization is straightforward. You are simply making your website more targeted, more relevant.
This is the reason we decided to separate the technical from the on-page. Many SEOs out there want to include this service as part of the technical setup but combining them is a mistake.
The final steps here consist of going through your content and adding your target keyword across the following elements (in a very natural way):
- Add your keyword across your h1, h2, and h3 tags (or add h tags if you are not using them yet). You should have 1 h1 tag per page (although we think this is a myth). You can use h2 tags to separate your different topics/services – use them to make your content super easy to read. And you can use h3 tags to bring attention to different subtopics, offers, or calls to action inside each h2 tags.
- Add your target keyword at the beginning of your content and a few times throughout that particular page. Again, make it look natural, do not go crazy with adding your target keyword 42 times (keyword density is another myth). Just adding it in multiple places will work fine. As you add your target keyword to your content, take a few minutes to read through it, see if you can improve it, add a few other related words and make it more helpful for your intended reader (you can incorporate the other words you found in the keyword planner as well).
- Go to one of your stronger blog posts and find a way to add your target keyword as an internal link to the page you are optimizing – just once is fine. For example, if you are targeting house cleaner, you will go to one of your blog posts that talks about cleaning, and you will find a way to create a natural anchor from that blog post to the page you are optimizing here (you can do this from 1 or 2 posts).
The last step here refers to what’s known as internal linking. Doing this at the beginning will have no significance however, once we begin the link building process internal linking is going to make all the difference. When proper internal linking is in place the SEO value goes from one page to the others being linked to. So if you have a really strong blog post with thousands of visitors every month, and you are linking internally to your individual service pages, the ranking on those pages will increase because your strong post is passing all the power to your other pages (this is the way to rank individual service pages, amazing isn’t it 😊).
You have to be strategic with your internal linking though, start linking like crazy and Google will realize that you are trying to manipulate rankings for those pages. Whenever you are doing SEO your goal should always be to look natural.
For every page you optimize take a few minutes to create 1 or 2 internal links from other pages. Again, you don’t want to overdo it, you just want to create a natural looking reference to associate your content with one another.
You can normally outsource this part of your SEO efforts but honestly this should be one of the easier tasks during the SEO process.
It’s time-consuming sure but you know your industry better than any outsider. You know your content and offerings well Which puts you in a unique position to make relevant changes that improve your user experience.
This aspect of SEO requires a delicate touch – the purpose is not to cram words on to your page, but instead, we are looking to make it easier for your visitors to find what they need.
Do 1 page per day. Do your keyword research, identify keyword difficulty, find actual monthly search volumes, implement keywords, and do a little internal linking.
If you take your time doing this your results will be 10 times better than if you have someone just randomly add words to your page.
If you do not have the time to do this on your own find a reliable SEO company that can handle it.
Set clear expectations, ask them to give you a report after every page is done, and double check their work to ensure everything looks natural.
Get ready to pay at least $900.00. This process takes time and sometimes it requires adding additional content, so your costs might go up fast if more of it is needed.
A good way to determine if a company is reliable is by visiting their website and reading through their content. Pay attention to how persuasive and enticing their content is.
Shameless offer here 😉
If you outsource your on-page SEO efforts to our team today we will give you a 20% discount off your total cost.
We will send you a complete list of activities we’ll perform on your site, will let you know if more content is needed, and give you fair pricing based on those considerations. And take 20% off the top.
Save hundreds and invest those funds towards other important SEO efforts like content writing.
This completes the second phase of SEO, and the aspects directly related to your website. The final phase - link building - is the most important one, and the one that will actually begin elevating your rankings.
Do all you’re on-page implementations and get ready to build links like crazy.
Phase 3: Link Building or Off-page SEO
Link building (AKA off-page SEO) is the process of promoting your website, offerings, and content using other trusted sources in your industry. In other words, this is the process where we go out to other professionals in your industry and we ask them to link back to your website. Doing this has two purposes:
- Building Trust with Google: Getting links (or organic references) from other trusted companies in your industry sends a giant signal to Google telling them ‘hey, these guys right here, they can be trusted’. Backlinks are the equivalent of word of mouth in the digital world.
- Attracting real traffic to your offerings: The second, and just as important, factor for needing links is because you get traffic coming to your website from these other reputable sources (or at least you should if you follow our methodology for link building). This sends another signal to Google, and this time the signal is saying ‘hey Google, this business is getting real people to visit, their offerings are attractive to these visitors’. At which point Google begins to consider you more when it comes to showing your pages in the search results using your target key terms.
Link building is the aspect of SEO that when done properly will actually elevate your rankings and online visibility. The technical fixes you implemented, the keyword research you did, and the content you optimized, it was all in preparation for the link building phase.
Oh, and if you want to target more keywords aside from the one you selected link building is the way to do it.
Let’s take a quick detour and talk about content for a moment though.
For your link building efforts to be successful you need powerful content that answers real questions. Remember when we spoke about expanding your current website content?
The reason big companies use content as a marketing strategy is because it actually works. It works extremely well no matter what industry you are in.
It’s perfect for SEO, it works really well with paid advertising, and in fact, there are individuals that use content as their only business model and those individuals are extremely successful.
The idea behind content is to provide real value to your users in order to persuade them to buy from you by trusting your expertise.
It can’t be random content though; you have to provide readers with useful information and actionable steps that they can implement on their own.
if you were trying to produce good quality content that your prospects might find helpful for a cleaning company as an example, a good topic to write about would be the difference between a local janitorial service provider and a national contractor.
I’m sure this question goes through prospects all the time, ‘which is better?’. You can write a really powerful article defining what the difference is, the types of costs a customer can expect, when a national contractor might be better than a local one and vice versa, and maybe you can help the reader learn how to define a proper scope of work.
You see, the idea is that by the time a prospect finishes reading your article, they should have a solid understanding of the 2 different types of cleaning contractors, they should have a good idea on which of the 2 will be a better fit for their needs, they should have the knowledge to create a proper scope of work, and in general should feel good about what steps they need to take next.
By doing this you are establishing yourself as a trusted authority in your industry. You are gaining your readers’ trust by answering questions upfront instead of trying to get them to book a meeting with you first, and you proved your expertise by giving them clear expectations about the process of finding the right cleaning company.
Of course, your goal is still to get new leads and customers, so the way you leverage this helpful content is by including what are called calls to action (CTAs) within your article. The thing to keep in mind when including your CTAs in your content is that the focus should be to provide value to your reader first. You have to find the right places where it makes sense to try to convert a prospect. If you fill your content with CTAs you will just waste your time and scare your readers away. Just like everything in SEO, your CTAs must feel natural.
The reason we put so much emphasis on content creation and optimization is because the link building strategy we are about to discuss relies entirely on having powerful copy that delivers real value. You need to really understand how to produce good material that attracts new visitors, that answers common questions, and that is sharable. Deliver these three elements in your articles and we guarantee you that you will experience fast organic growth. We refer to these types of posts as value posts. When using value posts and the trust building link strategy you can get better rankings with less backlinks than your competitors.
A few assumptions before we begin:
1: You have a solid technical foundation – a website free of errors or broken code.
2: You implemented all your keywords across all required fields on your website.
3: You are using a blog on your website that includes value posts at least 2000 words – and ideally you already have a post in place you can use to begin implementing the strategy right away.
4: you have a way to monitor your performance including keyword tracking (you can use brightLocal, SERPFox, or SEMrush – or whatever you prefer).
5: You have analytics installed on your website – this will help you measure traffic.
Brand Trust Link Building Strategy:
The link building strategy we use here at Digital Innos focuses on building brand trust with Google. Adam White, the creator of SEOJet and the person who created this strategy discovered that many of the big brands and websites ranking on Google had very clean, very natural links that focused less on targeting specific keywords and focus more on getting natural backlinks from the sources linking back to them.
So instead of you going to a blogger and asking them to give you a backlink that says, ‘office cleaning’, you would get a link that says, ‘ABC Cleaning Corp’. Following this strategy for your home page is extremely important as your home page is the page that represents your brand and the rest of your website.
The way you build trust with Google is by having the right anchors and by having a natural looking backlink profile.
Here are the 3 main anchor types:
• Blended anchors: These are anchors that include your target key phrase plus a few other words with it ‘find a reliable office cleaner that delivers quality’ – the target phrase being office cleaner.
• Exact match anchors: These are anchors that use your target keyword ‘office cleaner’.
• Natural anchors: These are anchors that do not contain any type of target key phrase, they use your brand name, website name, your URL, or a generic call to action.
Here are a few guidelines to follow for your anchor text distributions:
Home page: 80 to 95% natural anchor text – things like brand name, full website URL, generic phrases like ‘click here’ or ‘click to learn more’, and basic domain without https. So when you begin your link building effort these are the ratios you want to use for your home page. If you get 10 links, 8 to 9 of those links should be natural. You may be able to add a blended link in, but our recommendation is to avoid doing exact matches for your home page.
Blog Posts: When it comes to getting backlinks for your blog posts you have a bit more room to use exact match anchors. Although we would cautioned you to avoid using 100% exact matches.
For your blog posts we recommend sticking to the following ratio: 50 to 60% natural anchors, 10 to 20% blended anchors, and 10 to 20% exact matches. Keep in mind that for every link you get for one of your other pages you should also get at least 1 link for your home page– this way you maintain brand trust with Google. Do not get backlinks for your individual service pages, do internal linking from value posts instead.
If you use our ratio recommendations for your home page and your value posts you can be as aggressive as your budget allows when getting backlinks. The strategy focuses on building brand trust and as such your backlink profile will always look natural to Google.
The types of links we are using for all our efforts are guest post links. We do not use profile links, we do not use forum links, we do not use PBNs, we do not use commenting links. Using these types of links is risky and honestly they add very little value to your efforts. 1 link with real traffic is worth more than 100 links with no traffic.
There will be a large percentage of you that will not listen and will go on Google to find cheap links. Believe us, it’s not worth it. Google penalizes websites that use links to try to manipulate search results, and the costs for cleaning google penalties is quite high. That’s why all our efforts have focused on delivering value using content, and on getting power links with real traffic, because these things look natural to Google. These are practices that a large corporation uses and the links have a natural feel as well.
One of the biggest mistakes made during the link building phase is getting backlinks without a clear number of links in mind. The reality is that knowing how many links your direct competitors have can be a powerful way for you to find out how many links you might need to outrank them.
This isn’t an exact formula as we have helped some clients reach page 1 with a lot less links than their competitors and vice versa, but at least you can have a close idea on the number of links you may need.
Here is how you find how many links your competitors have:
- Go to Google and do a search for your target keyword plus your city ‘office cleaning Wilkes-Barre’.
- select the top 3 competitors – do not include national brands, focus more on local companies in your community or in proximity to you or your service area.
- Go to SEOReviewTools, click on tools, click on SEO authority tools, and click on the backlink checker tool.
- Enter the first URL in the URL field, select number of links for this particular page, check the box and click ‘perform check’.
- Write down the number of external links coming to this page.
- Do this for all competitors you selected.
- Create an average number of links based on the competitors you selected.
- Do this for every page you want to get links for.