When you love what you do, it is hard to take a break from it. It doesn’t mean you don’t need a break from it every so often, it simply means one sometimes forgets to take one. That has very much been the case for me with my online businesses – especially these last 3 months since we’ve been back in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
When we packed our bags last week to take a 5 day vacation to Siem Reap, Cambodia, I consciously made the decision to leave my laptop at home. It doesn’t help that I could run my whole empire from my phone now (if I really wanted to), but it was still nice to turn off all work related technology and spend some quality time with the family.
Heck, we went and toured the Angkor Wat as a family. How much cooler can vacations get?
Anyway, enough small talk. Let’s get to the important stuff!
My Promise to You!
I’ve been promising a blue print on how I rank in the search engines for a while now, so I figured I’d put together a short to the point guide on what it takes me to rank. I will expand on each of the points in future posts but if you have a slight SEO understanding, this should get you started. If not, let this be an introduction 🙂
Note: I will be linking out to various tools and services I use – some of which may be affiliate links. I may make a small commission if any of the links are clicked on or bought through. Having said that, I will never recommend something I don’t use myself!
The Secret sauce to top Google Ranking.
There are three main elements I focus on to get results fast.
Assuming I already know what niche I want to rank in, I sit down and do keyword research. When I first started out online, I remember choosing hard to rank for keywords (ex: Make Money, Internet Marketing, SEO, etc) and then I’d set out to conquer them.
They are not impossible to conquer (I’ve had 2 of those on first page of Google), but you will be up against big companies who have tremendous marketing budgets. Meaning unless you can outspend them (ultimately), you will have a very very hard time beating and outranking them.
Which is why today I focus on low hanging fruit first. As in, keywords that are not too difficult to rank but still have the potential to drive some targeted traffic and start making me money.
Once I dominate with the easier keywords and have started to make some money with the site, I start focusing on the harder to rank for keywords.
Example: I own a WordPress backlink generating plugin that I launched back in 2012. I own half a dozen sites that promote it and drive traffic to it. If you google any “WordPress backlink plugin” type keyword phrases, chances are pretty good there will be 2 – 5 different sites on first page of Google promoting the plugin.
When you look at those keywords though, you will notice they don’t drive a lot of traffic. They do however drive enough to make a sale or two a day. It’s not much, but considering the last time I promoted it (and did some worthwhile SEO for it) was 3 years ago, I really am not in a position to complain.
Heck, besides paying for rent, it has quietly been building my customer list for 3 years now without me doing as much as lift a finger. In fact, chances are good you found me through one of those miserable sites by searching for a keyword it ranked high for. If so – high five – you’re proof this stuff works 🙂
Since dominating those easy to rank for keywords, the next step for me should have been to focus on harder to rank for keywords phrases like “WordPress SEO plugin” etc. It only makes sense… but I’ve been too freakin lazy to bother. Shame on me – I’ve missed out on a lot of sales.
Enough of the self pity though!
It’s easy to come up with a general direction for keywords to pursue by typing a generic keyword into Google and see the suggestions it gives you, but not all search suggestions will be worth pursuing. Which is why I highly recommend using a proper keyword tool that will do all the fact checking for you.
I consistently use (and highly recommend) Long Tail Pro. They have a quick walkthrough video right on the sales page giving you an idea of what to look for in keywords etc.
#2. Quality Content
Remember days when big name internet marketers would sell content spinning software? Oh wait, they still are, lol!
As cool as they are and as much work as they are supposed to save, do NOT waste your time with them. I repeat, they are a waste of time.
Yes I have used them in the past and have had fantastic results using them, but those results didn’t last. Example: I once had a site rank #2 on Google for “breast enlargement” and #1 for just about any related keyword. I made a killing with it, but – because 95% of the 1300 articles on the site were spun content (AKA worthless garbage text) – Google completely de-indexed the site just a few months after getting those nearly impossible top rankings.
So again, no matter how good the spinner is (mine was the best in the industry), do not waste your time with it. Especially when it comes to putting content on your money site (the site you’re trying to rank).
So unless you’re decent at writing, hire someone who is. You can get decent content written for very little, but if you want good to great content, expect to pay more for it. Or as a wise Aussie trucker once told me: Pay peanuts, get monkey 😉
In other words: You get what you pay for!
I always try to find good writers – people who are not only excellent at writing, but who also love writing and take pride in their work. This is something that is important to me!
Now, I never load the content with keywords. If I have someone write the content for me, I try to give them a general idea of what the content is to be about and then – once they are done with it – I go through and plant the keyword once in the title and 2 to 3 times in the body itself. I never ever want the content to come across as spammy to a human reader.
Remember this: Google spends a lot of money to have their bots read and interpret content like a human would. It is foolish to think we’re doing ourselves any favors by writing for the Google bots. Hence, write the content as if you’re talking to a friend. Keep the flow going naturally!
As mentioned above, I’m always looking for good quality content writers. Here are a couple places I outsource most of my niche site content writing to: Fiverr, iNeedArticles
#3. Potent Backlinks
I remember being in top ten Google for various “make money online” type keywords with one of my blogs (I no longer own the blog). How did I get there? I spammed the hell out of it using xRumer.
By the time I got rid of the blog, it had millions of backlinks from probably every forum under the sun. One used to be able to get away with it and dominate the search engines, but that simply isn’t the case any more.
Today I’d rather have 5 high quality backlinks than a thousand poor quality ones. This philosophy is what now allows me to maintain my decent Google rankings even after 3 years of doing nothing (as pointed out earlier).
Here are some of the best backlink building strategies for those who are cheap and yet not lazy:
- Blog comments: I know I know, nothing new. I also know most are not do-follow. Which is why I often search for blogs that use the “comment luv” plugin – this makes the signature link in the comment “do-follow”. To find blogs that use that plugin, simply head on over to DropMyLink.com, type in a generic keyword and get started.
I was going to show you a screenshot here of one of my blogs I used JUST this strategy on over 2 years ago – targeting a town name – and as a result STILL come up in top 10 of Google for just about any town-name related searches. This stuff works.
I will dedicate an entire post to this strategy soon!
- Guest posting: Again, nothing new, but something that still works like gangbusters for me. This strategy not only helps me rank my sites higher, but is driving targeted traffic as well. In fact, even if the SEO benefits were none-existent, a quality guest post on an established blog (that has a following and ranks well in it’s niche) is more often than not worth your time and money just for the traffic it’ll bring you.
Just head on over to Google – search for the keyword you’re going after (or do a broad niche search) – and start going through the listings. Find a dozen blogs, contact the owners and ask them: What will it take for me to do a guest post on your blog?
Some won’t respond, a few will. Focus on the few that respond and negotiate yourself a deal. It really isn’t difficult – it does take a bit of time however.
- Private Blog Networks (PBN): I almost hate to talk about PBNs in less than a hundred words here simply because there is so much to be said about them. Yes, Google hates them with a vengeance but anyone who is anything in SEO uses them. Why? Because they freakin work!
I have a PBN of my own that I protect fiercely. They are costly to set up and time consuming to maintain, but are so worth it IF done correctly (most SEOs don’t even set them up properly – more on that another time).
Imagine owning a dozen or even a hundred powerful sites that you could get a backlink from anytime, any day. Now imagine the rankings you could achieve with that kind of raw instantaneous linkjuice. There really isn’t a limit as to what you can rank for using PBNs.
Like I said, I do have my own PBN, but every so often I will tap into someone else’s network just to get some fresh linkjuice in the mix. You got to be extremely careful with this one though. The last thing you need is a link from someone’s spammed out network.
Here are a couple networks I use frequently and feel fairly comfortable recommending. These boys have fairly large networks and seem to know what they’re doing: Lightning Rank, PBN Success
- Social Signals: Something that was always a pain to do with my sniper sites was actually setting up and connecting social accounts with each site. Just another reason for me to focus more and more on one site (this site) instead of dozens of other ones – so I only have to worry about one set of accounts.
Most SEO‘s hate being social marketers because there is nothing sexy about it, but having strong social signals can give your site a massive ranking boost almost instanteously. I had one of my sites shoot up several spots on Google the other day and the only thing I did was purchase a $7 twitter package off of RankCrew.
Of course you can buy various social signal packages off of fiverr to get your site kickstarted (here are a few I’ve used), but ultimately what you want is real people sharing your content. Again, I will get into the meat and potatoes of this in another post, but the best way to get more likes and shares is to make it easy for people to like and share.
Secondly, you need content that is actually share-worthy. This goes back to point 2 where I hinted at the need for quality content.
Lastly, a neat tip to getting more shares is to have longer posts. People who actually spend time reading the post will feel more invested and will be more open to sharing what they just spent time reading.
I could go on and on about other techniques and methods I use but here’s the thing: If you religiously follow and consistently implement what I have shared so far, you too will start ranking. It won’t happen overnight, but – if you keep at it – it will happen.
SEO isn’t rocket science. We tend to make it more difficult than it needs to be. The #1 secret is to get the fundamental stuff right (like I just shared with you) and the #2 secret is to rinse and repeat until you destroy the competition. It really is that simple!
Having said that, I will go into more details on each of the above points in future blog posts. If you like this type of stuff (or simply want to watch me embarrass myself with my first class hand-drawings), be sure to subscribe to my list (see optin box on sidebar) to receive updates of when future pure content posts come out.
Great post, Konrad. I’ve been subjected to _so_ many pitches from self-styled SEO consultants. Yours is a thoughtful and clear breakdown for my startup. At the end of the post you say “We tend to make it more difficult than it needs to be ” I’m wondering about how patient we should be… ie when should we start augmenting our blog/SEO marketing with other more traditional efforts (if at all?).
Care to expand a bit on what you mean by “traditional efforts”?
There are a lot of guys out there eager to “do SEO for you” but more often than not they have no idea what they’re doing. Personally I recommend getting the basics right (especially point #1 and #2 as explained in post) and once you got those figured out (and consistently implement them), only then worry about step #3. A house – no matter how beautiful it is – is only as strong as the foundation it is built on 🙂
Great post Konrad. I’ve been looking forward to the SEO wisdom you plan to share in this blog, based on your practical experience… there is way too much SEO theory spouting everywhere I turn.
I was glad to read your take on article spinners. I can’t hardly believe that anyone would risk damaging their blogs with spun content. If you have any kind of an audience at all, that’s a sure way to get them to unsubscribe.
Thanks again Konrad for sharing what YOU are doing to promote your sites.
I too grew tired of the BS being taught today. A lot of the theories sound good but don’t work so good in real life. I only share stuff I use (that actually works for me).
Thank you for the feedback 🙂
Great content, and some great ideas to apply. My own SEO ninja style is to ALLWAYS create engaging content that my readers love to read, while making sure Google sees it as the most current and relevant. God, l just love using Google News as my own SEO tool for immediate rankings. That’s my secret weapon.
I love it!
I agree with you on the quality of writing and the relationship with SEO. I decided to decrease my posting frequency down to once a week for the most part in order to retain longer well-written posts versus shorter poorly written posts 2-3x the frequency. Hopefully we’ll all continue to get more love from Google for our efforts!
Good to hear from you!
Curious: Have you found those longer posts get shared more also?
Hey Konrad, I found you in Alexa linking everywhere lol! great post I subscribed. Cheers!