They say SEO is just links and content. If that’s the case it shouldn’t be too difficult to rank on the front page of Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo (I kid, I kid) in no time.
Google has continually put forth that external links pointing towards a site is the number one
In all seriousness, the digital marketing landscape could be best described as a rapidly changing one.
Its hue is one of a constant barrage of algorithm updates and blocked Facebook Ads accounts.
It is a battlefield that is flooded by the tears of BlackHat SEOS and those that have learned their craft through Facebook Ads Gurus.
For any newbie navigating the complex world of search engine optimization and pay per click marketing, this can be an unnerving task.
The pivotal question comes to mind.
Where Do I Start?
Firstly, we’re going to be creating an all-inclusive SEO hub in Google Sheets.
We will create multiple sheets and each sheet will serve a specific purpose.
Most SEOS recommend starting with a thorough analysis of the keywords that you’d be looking to have your site rank for.
Generally, you can speed up this process with several tools available. Although they can be pricey for someone just starting on their optimization of search journey.
Like navigating the precarious waters of SEO, confusion can be a constant state of mind, especially for the newcomer.
So, back to where do we start the highly important task of keyword research.
I generally start by building out a spreadsheet.
I’ll type my keywords into Google (make sure you’re in incognito mode, naughty, naughty).
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the ‘searches related to’ section.
The searches that appear, add them to your Google Sheet.
To find more low hanging fruit (those keywords that are easier to rank for), I follow the suggestions until I have added all the suggested keywords to my spreadsheet.
Once that’s done it’s time to do a thorough competitor analysis.
Now, a competitor analysis is more accurately done through a number of paid tools that you as a newbie, probably don’t have access to.
I’m going to give you the hot-tip on how to do it relatively well without spending a couple hundred a month on SEO tools.
Firstly, create a new sheet at the bottom of your SEO hub spreadsheet.
Do a quick Google search for your “money keyword” (the keyword that makes your business money or shows buyer intent, in our case, it’s ‘Digital Marketing Sydney’).
Add the top 5 ranking pages to your spreadsheet.
With the top horizontal axis cells stipulating the following.
- Home page word count
- Blog post frequency
- Average blog post word count
- Frequency Of keyword In copy
The aim of this primitive form of the competitive analysis is to try and emulate or beat what your competitors are doing in terms of content length, quality of content and providing the best possible answer for the searcher’s query. It should look similar to the screenshot below.
Once a thorough competitor content analysis has been completed.
It’s time to plan out our content.
Planning Our Content Strategy
Search engine optimization is about ranking relevant pieces of content to satisfy the request of a searcher.
So, you guessed it, we need to strategize in terms of the content we’re going to produce for our readers and the keywords we will be using in the content.
If you’re in the local service market, it’s ideal to create high quality, individual landing pages for every service you provide and every location you service.
Your primary goal should be to create high quality, engaging pieces of content that satisfy user search intent and include the keywords you’re looking to rank for (those keywords you added to your keyword research spreadsheet).
Go back to your SEO hub Google sheet.
Create a new sheet and title it ‘Content Ideas’.
Have a cell for the topic, a cell for the word count, the keyword you’re targeting, the title of the article or page and the date in which it needs to be completed by.
I’d highly recommend taking an hour or so and filling this out for the entire year.
Start with the services and location pages.
Then finish with individual blog posts that you’d be looking to create on a bi-weekly basis for an entire year at the very minimum.
Essentially the goal here is to prove to Google that your site is the most authoritative when it comes to the topic that you’re writing about.
Your Google sheet should look similar to the following.
We’ve now briefly covered free keyword research, free competitive analysis and free content, it’s now time to cover arguably the most important part of SEO.
Backlinks are hyperlinked mentions from other sites pointed towards pages on your site.
They’re super important and dependant on where they’re originating from can make or break your SEO campaign.
Like people, backlinks come in different shapes, sizes, powers and some come be shady, most are good though.
Your goal should be to obtain as many niche relevant hyperlinked mentions to your brand as possible.
The best way to do this is through outreach.
Firstly, what you want to do is create a “pending links” tab in your spreadsheet (like the one below).
Once that’s done, you want to create an ‘outreach-persona’.
Now, an outreach persona is essentially an email that you use to contact webmasters, bloggers, and other stakeholders of websites to exchange money to appear on their site.
Unfortunately most of their time, they require money and the costs can seem steep.
You’ll need to create a high-quality article and email a relevant website to request a featured post on their site.
Ask them for their costs and requirements before sending the email. Once you have this information add it to your spreadsheet, create the article and send it over for publishing.
Generally, webmasters will ask for payment once your article is live on their site.
Although this is an outline, if done correctly, you should see tangible results in time.
Here are some results from sites we’ve worked on that have shown fantastic results with minimal investment.
The Tangible Results
We were able to rank a site in this house painting market with this exact same method. The site now ranks first for “commercial painting service Sydney”.
Using this method we were also able to rank a site in the carpet cleaning market. The site now ranks third for “carpet cleaning Bondi”.
These results were achieved through minimal investment.
Please keep in mind that this is an overview and that a thorough deep dive into our strategy and tactics would reveal significantly greater results.
Search Engine Optimization is an extremely important facet of marketing and for those in the local service and e-commerce markets, one that you should definitely pay close attention to.
Please also keep in mind that this article does not include information relating to on-page SEO which is equally important. A thorough guide will be published on this facet of search engine optimization in part 2.