Get to the Top of Google book and review

How To Get To The Top Of Google

3 Free Chapters

Tim Kitchen

Head Ninja, Exposure Ninja

www.ExposureNinja.com

Free Website and Marketing Review with Customised Strategic Plan worth £197+VAT for readers at www.ExposureNinja.com/Google

Introduction

The first time I helped someone else’s business get to the top of Google I was hooked. From promoting my own businesses I knew what Google ranking meant in terms of traffic, sales and perceived authority. But helping other people made it more real.

 

To hear him speak you’d swear he had just won the lottery or got back from a Tony Robbins gig. His confidence, self-assurance and pride were in a different league from when I’d left him. He’d always been a nice guy, but from kicking around the house he shared with his mum all day, wondering when the next job would come in, to this was something even I hadn’t expected. I tried to interview him but he wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways.

 

Ben was my first freelance client purely because he was the only tradesman in the sleepy Devon town (Tiverton) I was living in that was desperate enough to agree to be my guinea pig. Lucky for him it didn’t turn out too badly, and in two months he went from nowhere to being the most visible plasterer in town, thanks to the basic WordPress template website I built and promoted for him. A dead basic site built with the Kreera theme (I think I even downloaded a cracked version) that I built in 3 hours to test my theories had changed his life completely. His partner was able to reduce her work hours so they could spend more time together and he was in a position to start thinking about buying a house. He couldn’t stop saying thank you, and for the first time I saw what getting a website to the top of Google actually meant to people like Ben.

 

My name is Tim and over the last 9 years, I’ve been the guy that businesses of all shapes and sizes call when they want more exposure for their website. In that time, my company and I have helped over 1,900 businesses in every imaginable market, in all corners of the world through our training, consultancy and ‘done for you’ online marketing.

 

We’ve had some spectacular results (many of which I’ll be breaking down step by step for you in this book), and made a lot of businesses a lot of money in the process.

 

This book is where I lift the lid on exactly what we do to achieve these results, so that you can copy the same techniques for your own business. It’s a completely open account of exactly what it takes to boost a website’s ranking on Google, and there are plenty of other exposure and profit-boosting tips in here too. Straight up, loud and proud: the goal of this book is to show you how to make more money from your website.

 

More visibility, more traffic, more customers – that’s it. By the way, the goal isn’t to tell you how awesome Exposure Ninja is or highlight the inadequacies of a previous SEO company you might have used. If you want that, give us a ring or visit our website instead.

 

Who is this book for?

 

This isn’t like any other SEO book. For one, it doesn’t even have SEO in the title. But more about that later… This book isn’t for geeks or experienced SEOs; it’s primarily for the following groups of people:

  • Business owners & entrepreneurs
  • Employees in charge of their company’s Internet presence (marketing directors, managers or assistants).
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies – both existing companies and freelancers thinking of starting their own SEO Company.
  • Bloggers and hobbyists who want to improve their website visibility and get more traffic.

 

In short, if you want to get a website to the top of Google, this book will give you a step-by-step guide to do it.

 

Prominent Google ranking really can make or break a business, so while the tone is generally light hearted and conversational (there’s enough boring SEO stuff out there already) that shouldn’t distract you from the importance of what we’re doing here.

 

You will find some simple fundamental rules that many business owners are breaking without even knowing it, which doom their websites to obscurity. You’ll probably notice that some of your competitors are making these mistakes right now, and you may even spot a few in your own business. You’ll learn some small tweaks that can send your ranking shooting up, and you’ll begin to identify some of the hidden SEO ‘anchors’ responsible for holding your site down.

 

Whether you plan to do your own SEO or hire an outside company, if you rely on the Internet for business growth you HAVE to understand as much about SEO as possible, to help you make the choices that are best for your business. With the relationship between prominent search engine ranking and business success, understanding how this world works should be one of your top marketing priorities. Ignorance in this field is like an athlete that doesn’t understand the basics of nutrition. Your business cannot perform well online without getting this stuff right.

 

The good news is that in this book we’ll break everything down into clear steps with plain English explanations. These are the very same strategies that companies around the world pay huge sums for with one good reason: they work.

 

I hope you are excited by the possibilities and I look forward to hearing your success story!

 

If you enjoy this book, then you can buy the full paperback or Kindle version on Amazon:

UK store: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Get-Top-Google-including-ebook/dp/B0076XVNM8

US store: http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Top-Google-including-ebook/dp/B0076XVNM8/

Or search your country’s Amazon store for How To Get To The Top Of Google

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 09.40.19Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 09.40.38

 

           

 

Google’s Panda & Penguin Updates

The world of SEO has changed so dramatically in the last few years that the companies at the top of their game in 2012 are almost all fighting for their lives, if they’re not already bankrupt. Google’s ranking algorithm updates in 2012 began penalising websites that were using a brand of promotion strategy considered manipulative and unnatural. The so called ‘Penguin’ updates starting in April 2012 were the final nails in the coffin for many of the most widespread SEO techniques in use by those looking for fast and cheap results. Fear and panic spread through the industry as website rankings plummeted and many online businesses began to worry if their livelihoods were at stake now that many of their bread and butter strategies were not only ineffective but actually harmed rankings. Literally overnight entire businesses were wiped out and if you think I’m exaggerating you should read the sob stories. I’ll include some later on for you if you’re that way inclined (because they’re instructive not because you’re intrigued by the pain of others, of course).

We’ll be looking at the effects of Penguin, Hummingbird and other Google updates throughout this book, as there are lessons to be learnt and pitfalls to be avoided. The good news is that the basics have never changed, and it’s possible to execute a ‘future proof’ strategy by sticking within Google’s guidelines without sacrificing excellent results.

If your site’s ranking has been harmed by a Google update, keep reading as we’ll be covering in detail how you can begin the recovery process.

Why this book exists

This book exists for two reasons: firstly, I noticed that there were a lot of businesses out there that didn’t want ‘done for you’ help with their SEO, but clearly DID need to do something. The existing information about DIY SEO is, on the whole, ineffective and hopelessly vague. Attending conferences, watching popular SEO YouTube channels and checking out blogs gives very little enlightenment to the amateur marketer about what they’re actually supposed to do, while everyone just beats endlessly on about what they’re not supposed to do. As a result, the DIY’ers have been losing ground to the big spenders and a class division was emerging.

In short, Google has started becoming like the Yellow Pages used to be: the big companies with huge marketing budgets can afford to get top positions, whereas smaller businesses were forced onto page 2 or worse. And of course if you’re not on the first page, you’re invisible.

Once they were forced off page 1, their business dropped and they began to struggle. It’s a vicious cycle that ends very badly for those who don’t (or can’t) pay to compete.

The second reason I decided to write this book is another frustration about the SEO industry: It seems that the majority of businesses entering into the world of paid SEO have absolutely no idea how to judge a good company from a bad one, and without understanding what is involved in promoting and optimising websites, they really have no way of judging good quality SEO from spam. They buy the wrong service to save a bit of money and end up spending two years completely invisible as they try to recover from Google penalties.

We spend about 20% of our time helping companies who have made a poor SEO choice to correct the damage of this work, and it’s extremely frustrating for the business owner who has to pay us to fix work they thought was the fix!

Worse still are those businesses that have been hit so hard by ranking penalties that their sites are unrecoverable. A while back I did some consultation with a lovely couple that ran a niche information site and made their living from the Advertising revenue. Unfortunately, they used a junk SEO Company to promote the site that simply spammed blog comments and spun junk articles. A couple years later the site was hit so heavily by a Penguin update that penalty recovery was impossible. They battled it for a year before calling it quits and closing the site. It was a real shame considering the once active forum and the huge volume of original content they created. The site was their livelihood and she ended up having to get various jobs writing freelance.

Hopefully the tips in this book will prevent you from making a similar mistake when it comes to choosing a promotion partner.

The 3 ‘Dirty Secrets’ SEO Companies Don’t Want You To Know

  1. Many SEO companies are primarily sales organisations. The person you talk to on the phone understands only what their Sales Manager has told them about SEO. If in doubt, get a second opinion. And if it sounds too good to be true, I promise you it is. Anyone that promises you a ranking in a specific time period is lying, point blank. If you’d like a free second opinion I’m also happy to help – drop me an email to tim@exposureninja.com but please be patient for a reply!
  2. You understand your market and your customers better than any SEO company can. Therefore you are a huge SEO asset to your business. You’re well placed best placed to identify what your audience wants, where they hang out online, and what it is about you that appeals to them. You are actually very well positioned to oversee the marketing of your website, so taking the time to learn the basics is extremely important. Any SEO company that doesn’t involve you is doing work that is too generic to be any use.
  3. Many ‘SEO Companies’ actually don’t do any SEO, and are simply lead generation call centre companies that outsource the whole lot and charge you a fat commission. With the information in this book, you will be able to translate what they tell you and see past the salesmanship. Next time someone tries to pitch you for SEO services, you’ll be well placed to judge for yourself whether or not what they are offering is worth the fee. Search for my video ‘How Good is Your SEO Company’ to get my top tips in avoiding the scum.

Cheap SEO

In our experience, the vast majority of cheap SEO is a total waste of time and you’d be better off going it alone. Since low quality ‘spam SEO’ stopped being effective, companies charging very small fees are so restricted in the work they can actually afford to do, they either continue using the spam tactics they always used or, more commonly, no longer do any work at all!

We see a lot of SEO reports as clients send us info from their previous SEO companies to analyse. This makes for very interesting reading!

The majority of cheap SEO reports contain so many graphs and statistics (all automatically generated), that the client fails to notice that there isn’t a single paragraph in the report that mentions the work that was actually carried out that month. Embarrassingly what customers are paying for is actually just an automatically generated report, tracking normal ranking fluctuations. With SEO, you really do get what you pay for and unfortunately if what you’re paying seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is!

In Spring 2014 we started working with an e-commerce client who happened to send over a report that their previous SEO Company had sent them. The whole thing was a rebranded print out from a popular SEO tool, and it was immediately clear that the company had done absolutely no work to earn their sizeable monthly fee. But what shocked me most was that the figurehead of the company was one of the most respected figures in the SEO world. Perhaps one of the top 15 authorities in the world.

For what it’s worth, companies of all sizes and experience levels fall for the same tricks again and again. In an industry in such desperate need of regulation, make sure that you tread carefully and fully trust whoever you’re doing business with.

The Minefield

By now you might be getting the impression that the world of SEO is inhabited mainly by low life scoundrels and call centre sharks. While it’s true that most of the inhabitants of SEOville could have been kicked out of the used car sales forecourt for their tactics, the huge potential of prominent Google ranking mean that a new line of contestants is always lined up ready to take their turn to try and stumble through the minefield to the riches awaiting on the other side.

When you get it right however, SEO is extremely profitable. Throughout this book I’ll be giving my tips for finding a suitable partner if you decide not to go it alone.

How Level a Playing Field is Google?

One of the most exciting things about the Internet (and Google in particular) is that it is supposed to offer a level playing field: every business competes on the same Google results page, regardless of the company size or age. When it works properly, consumers have a genuine choice.

I’m a firm believer that this is how it should be – a meritocracy with each player having the same chance to win. What it shouldn’t be is a high-entry fee auction where the big players get bigger and the smaller fish starve to death.

There’s a richness to search results that include recognisable brands alongside hidden gems and innovative newer businesses. Audiences appreciate the speed and convenience of Amazon, but that doesn’t mean that alternatives can’t thrive as well. Boutiques and department stores can happily coexist online and consumers appreciate the choice.

So how close does this ideal match with reality?

The days when websites ‘accidentally’ ranked highly are over. For any search with commercial intent, the top rankers are paying for that ranking, either through an SEO agency or by the time spent doing it themselves. It’s certainly possible for smaller sites to compete with the big players, but they have to give the task its proper priority. Setting aside a day or £200 each month to compete with Amazon in the search results is like turning up to fight Sparta with a broom handle.

The key to competing, winning and dominating in this environment is keeping your web strategy bang up to date and give it the proper importance. Those who promote their websites most effectively will win, no matter their company size. Would securing a stream of customers to your business be worth spending an hour per day on? And yet many businesses who tell you they’re ambitious give their website promotion a spot at the bottom of their priority list. Do nothing and you’ll get nothing.

I’m here to help you with your online marketing by showing you everything you need to do to compete online – however large or small you are, experienced or brand new. We’ve done this hundreds of times in every imaginable market and I’ll lay it out, step-by-step, for you to copy.

How to use this book

There’s no way around the fact that there is a lot of information in this book. Some of the tips, tricks and strategies in this book represent years of research and take many hours (even months) to implement. Others are quick and easy tricks you can do today to get fast results.

My advice is to cherry pick the strategies that suit you. Do the ones which are most relevant to you and which fit in with the time you have available. But please bear one thing in mind:

If spending a lot of time on a certain task turns you off, you are not alone. Your competitors are thinking the exact same thing. That’s why they’re not doing it. And that’s why you should.

It boils down to how much you really want this and if you are willing to invest the time and effort necessary. By reading this book you are off to a very good start.

I would recommend that you read about each and every strategy, whether you plan to implement it or not. It’s helpful to know about the tools in your arsenal, even if you don’t intend to use them. You’ll start to spot these techniques in action, and you may find yourself looking at the Internet in a very different way! Prepare to become a geek.

If you are a freelance Search Engine Optimiser or run an SEO company, you’ll want to know it all. Should you find yourself working with a client in a particularly competitive niche it will be helpful to have some ‘heavy firepower’ to back you up and give you the edge against the competition.

If you are a small business and your competitors are employing a dedicated SEO company, you will be forced to do more work to compete (for advice on how to check what your competitors are up to, read on).

But please understand that just because they are employing an expensive company doesn’t mean you can’t beat them. They are likely using the same techniques you will learn about in this book. With your specialist understanding of your market and your customers, you are actually in a competitive position. And remember: ‘expensive’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good’ in the world of SEO (although it’s a safe bet that ‘cheap’ does always mean ‘bad’!).

The Structure of this Book

As the title of this book suggests, we will be focusing primarily on Google throughout, and we’ll start by understanding how Google really works. The good news is that the strategies in this book work just as well for other search engines including Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, AOL (which uses Google search) and the hapless, dead in the water Ask.com.

In the Western world, the clear trend over the past decade is Google’s increasing dominance while other search engines fight for smaller and smaller scraps. There is good reason for this, as Google is at the cutting edge of search technology and works extremely hard to make its search engine the most accurate and useful on the planet. In some markets Bing is stealing some ground but, on the whole, anything that works to boost Google ranking is even more effective on Bing so this is where we’ll focus our attention.

A quick word about Google’s updates: any updates that Google implements are to keep its position as number one and increase its market dominance. This is a GOOD THING for us, even though it might not feel like it at the time. There is no vacuum: each time there is a Google update, some websites are penalized while others subsequently receive a boost in rankings. There is simultaneous outcry and joy expressed across the world on Internet forums. As we will see later on, the best long-term tactic for good Google ranking is to be legitimate, honest and strictly above-board when optimizing and promoting our website. Google just wants the best for its end users (the searchers) so as long as we keep the searchers happy, Google will continue to reward us with good ranking.

After looking at Google, we will take a look at your own website and how to make it ‘Google Friendly’ as well as ‘visitor friendly’. Always remember that your website is built to generate customers, leads or readers for you or your business. Never sacrifice that aim in order to get good Google ranking. Being at the top of Google won’t happen if your website doesn’t lead to more happy visitors, customers and profit for you.

The third section of the book looks at promoting your website around the Internet. This is absolutely crucial for high ranking and constitutes the majority of on-going work that you will need to do in order to get and maintain top position on Google.

Finally we will look at piecing together a strategy for your website’s Google dominance. You will see examples of my own strategies for getting websites to the top and, as always, you are encouraged to ‘swipe at will’ and use for your own website.

For efficiency’s sake, from now on I will be assuming that you are a business and the purpose of your website is to attract customers and make money. Whether you are an SEO company, SEO freelancer or you run an information website or blog, the principles are exactly the same.

You’ll also notice throughout that I mention certain freebies to help you with your SEO. These freebies include free expert reviews, information, video software and voucher codes. The more entrepreneurial readers will take advantage of as many of these freebies as possible, because some of them – our free expert SEO and website review, for example – can save you weeks or even months of trial and error and give you a distinct advantage against your competition.

This Book is Not Written By a Professional Author

I am not a professional author, I’m a professional website marketer. I write how I talk and when choosing between ‘easy to understand’ and ‘fancy language’ I’ll always opt for the former. That means there will be times when those eagle-eyed readers might notice a grammar or spelling error. If you want an SEO book written by someone who has no experience in SEO but has far superior writing skills, I’d be more than happy to make a bucketful of recommendations.

I’ve set up, run, analysed, consulted with, and managed SEO for over 500 businesses over the past 9 years, from starting out building my own websites to setting up the UK’s leading tradesman online marketing company and then, since 2012, running Exposure Ninja to build and promote sites for businesses around the world.

For each and every website I’ve owned, promoted and been involved with, getting prominent position on Google was absolutely critical to their success. Some of them were in markets that didn’t previously exist, so getting to the top of Google was relatively easy and it was all about maintaining that position once the competition started flooding the market. Others fought fierce competition with established rivals and beating them in the ‘Google Shootout’ was a lot harder-fought and bloody.

You will see and hear about examples of both sorts throughout this book.

The end result is that I know what I’m talking about. For Exposure Ninja and I, first place on Google isn’t a ‘nice idea’ or wish; it’s a part of daily life.

I don’t say this to brag, I just want you to know that this stuff comes from testing, measuring and experience, not reading the Moz blog everyday and blindly regurgitating it to anyone who will listen.

In this industry there are so many self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who have had little experience out on the front line. They cough up stories about strategies they’ve never implemented and offer opinions on topics they’ve only heard mentioned on forums. They’re the sorts of people who proclaim to have the solution to the latest Google update within hours of it going live. My advice is to judge everyone by the results that their advice brings you.

And beware of the wizard.

Reader Offer: Free Expert SEO and Website Review

As a thank you for buying this book and to give you a head start as you embark on your plan for Google domination, I’d like to give you a little something: a completely free SEO and website review from Exposure Ninja, the Web and SEO company I run. To claim yours, head over to www.exposureninja.com/review

In your review one of our marketing experts will analyse your website, SEO and your presence on the web. We’ll also take a look at what your competitors are up to, make a note of anything that they’re doing particularly well and let you know about any opportunities that they might be missing. We’ll email you our findings in a PDF file or talk them through in a walkthrough video. You’ll also see an option to have me do your review personally.

The aim of the review is to give you a clear picture of where your website and online marketing stand at the moment and show you the areas you should focus on to get the best return in the shortest possible time.

Case Study: London AV Installation Company

It was late 2012 and I was running the largest tradesman marketing company in the UK after word had spread about Ben the Tiverton Plasterer’s success online.

When I say ‘word had spread’, what I mean is that ‘I had spread the word’ by writing for all of the UK’s leading magazines targeted at tradesmen telling them about the results we were getting for our plumbers, electricians, roofers and scaffolders. I then filmed DVDs showing the results because people didn’t believe it, and sent thousands of these DVDs out around the country. Thus, word spread.

The techniques we were using to promote those sites had never been seen in these industries, so it was like turning up at a Sunday league football game with half of Real Madrid team on your team. We were just dominant. We were routinely hitting position one in a month, and in some uncompetitive rural areas we had some sites hitting top position before they were even properly launched. Others outranked well-established national companies, and we even had one site take up 6 of the first 7 Google results in its area. We had to produce DVDs showing the results, because our clients didn’t always have computers and, unless they saw it with their own eyes, they didn’t believe it was possible.

Word spread and eventually we started taking on larger clients in different industries, and eventually this grew into the monster that is Exposure Ninja.

One of EN’s first clients was a supercool company in London run by a very entrepreneurial chap whose name I won’t share (because his competitors would be very interested to see how they’ve managed to be so dominant on Google!). They install home cinemas amongst other things. Not just home cinema equipment, but home cinemas. So cool.

Anyway, we sat down and identified a huge number of searches that they wanted to rank prominently on Google for. The number of phrases was large – it was well over 50, and even I started to wonder if it was really going to be possible.

To explain how we did it, it helps to understand that Google rewards websites with a) lots of original, well-written descriptive text content and b) plenty of links, particularly if these links are from authority sites in the same industry.

Before we started building their new website we mapped out a website structure that had over a hundred pages targeting every brand, product and area they sold. Most of their established competitors’ sites had around 20-30 pages before they were knocked off the top. All of a sudden Google noticed this bible of information appear with more text than all their competitors combined. To build the authority of the site we started listing them in every good quality local and market-relevant directory we could find. Then we started pitching Interior Design magazines and websites with well-written articles that matched the style of their publication. We offered them the articles free of charge, of course positioning our client as the writer of the article and getting a link back to our site.

Within a year and they were ranked on the first page for 41 of their target phrases, with position one for a whopping 20 different searches. Totally freakin’ Ninja. You can be sure I cracked out a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup to celebrate that one.

 

Google

What Being at the Top Of Google Will Mean For Your Business

I don’t need to tell you how important Google is, whether you’re selling cars, tarot readings or last minute gifts.

When your customers look for your product or service, chances are that they use Google most of the time. In the UK, Google is the main search engine for 90% of the population. The rewards from prominent ranking are unlike any other lead source in existence. It’s the equivalent of having the biggest boldest ad on the first page in the Yellow Pages.

For many businesses, being on the first page of Google is enough to sustain them with no other marketing activity. Enough prospective customers are out there looking for that product or service that just being found on Google is enough to feed a high-ranking business a steady stream of customers.

The Principle of the Slight Edge says that there are exponentially greater benefits for those who are first in their market, even if they’re only first by a nose. The horse that wins the race by a nose wins 3 times as much as the horse that comes second by a nose. It didn’t have to be three times faster, it only had to be a nose faster.

The Principle of the Slight Edge is alive and well on Google, with those on page one enjoying a disproportionate benefit compared to those on page 2 and beyond. But the slight edge applies even further within page one. The most recent figures suggest that the first ‘organic’ result of the first page in Google gets 38% of all the clicks on the page. Imagine siphoning off 38% off all traffic searching for your target phrases before your competitors even get a chance to make their pitch!

Later on we’ll look at more advanced strategies for dominating the Google results page, including the example where our client grabbed 6 of the first 7 results!

Having stressed the importance of first position, I also want to remind you that appearing anywhere on the first page is better than being lost in the dark depths of pages 2 and beyond (with one exception: a 2011 study showed that being ranked first on page 2 actually got more clicks than being ranked 10th on page 1. But that’s the exception).

So in general page 1 equals good. Page 2 or worse equals bad.

Implied Expertise

Most of the general public don’t understand what it takes to be first on Google, and actually this is a clue to why it works so well. If they knew that the sites were ranked according which website was best optimized and had the highest PageRank (we will look at PageRank later on), they might dig a little deeper.

Instead, many simply assume that the top result in Google is ‘chosen’ because it’s the best and they place their trust in Google to serve them the best result. In general it works out, and that has built a behavioural habit.

The top result might have shoddy customer service, high prices, and be run by the mob – Google doesn’t care. Or rather Google has no way to track this (yet). All Google does is run mathematical calculations (algorithms) based on thousands of different ranking factors, and out pops an ordered list of websites:

Ranking factors => Algorithm => Search Ranking

Change the variables, change the output. SEO is really that simple.

The 3 Ways to Show Up On Google’s First Page

On Google there are 3 different places you can show up on the first page.

Most people tend to focus on the organic Google listings. These are the main results that show up in the wide left hand column. This area is called organic because it is not directly paid for. The sites are positioned there through a number of ranking factors, which we will look at in a minute.

The second way to show up on the front page of Google is through advertising. Google’s Adwords program means that website owners can pay to show up above the organic results (marked with little ‘Ad’ icons) or down the right hand side of the page. This might seem like a nice shortcut to getting on the front page, but the vast majority of web surfers are conditioned to avoid adverts. So although these ads are shown right at the top of the page, combined they receive only around 20% of the clicks.

The third way to show up on the front page is for local searches, through Google+ Local listings, previously called Google Places. These results are shown on a map, and for mobile searches they tend to be even more prominent than on desktop. For many local searches, these map listings appear in amongst the traditional organic listings, pushing down some of the organic results. This emphasises the importance of being found not only high up in the organic results, but also prominently on the map. We’ll be looking at how businesses with physical locations can utterly dominate their local map later on.

The Google Leapfrog – Using Video To Leapfrog Pages of Your Competitors

There’s actually a fourth way to show up on the first page of Google, which is relatively under-used. Google will often show videos in search results if it decides they’re relevant, and this can sometimes be an easy way to get fast prominent placement. Ranking promotional videos is a nice little trick that you can use to leapfrog pages and pages of your competitors, which we’ll look at in the Third section of this book.

How Google Decides Where To Rank You

The big question: how does Google decide who to show at the top and who to show second?

The answer is in the complex and secret algorithms they use to measure, amongst other things:

  • The site’s relevance to the search
  • The popularity and authority of the website across on the Internet
  • The number of pages, products and amount of content on the site
  • User experience, for example the number of broken links, missing pages and the bounce rate, which all harm ranking.

Relevance

More than anything, this is the word that defines Google’s success to date. If the search results it served weren’t the most relevant in the business, this book would be called How to Get to the Top of Lycos, because Google certainly wasn’t the first in the market or the search engine with the best advertising. But its success has come from serving up consistently relevant results and a quick search on one of the other search engines (with the exception of AOL and others actually powered by Google) demonstrates how easy it is to take for granted the relevance of Google results.

So how does Google measure relevance?

There are a many factors that are used to measure relevance so let’s briefly look at some of them now before drilling down in more detail later on throughout this book.

Top of the list is the content of your website. That is the words and, to some extent, the pictures. Google has software that is affectionately called ‘robots’ reading the Internet constantly. These robots are crawling over your website and making a note in the index every time each word appears. This process is called indexing. When someone carries out a search on Google, it runs through this index looking for instances of the words used in the search and coughs up the websites that they appear on.

Myth Buster: Indexing

Indexing does not mean ‘saving’ your entire website, and Google doesn’t store your whole website, but rather instances of particular words and phrases.

Google also doesn’t index every single page it finds. There are a huge number of web pages online that get no visitors and which Google doesn’t bother indexing. It skips these pages because it prefers to prioritise the websites it considers more important, namely those that are being updated and getting more traffic. The bad news is that if your pages aren’t indexed, they aren’t going to be showing up in the search results. So getting indexed is a top priority and we’ll look at ways to encourage Google to index your web pages later on.

Traffic

Websites that attract the most clicks from Google search results tend to move up in the rankings. Remember that Google wants to present the most relevant websites to its visitors so if lots of people click on site B even though it ranks below site A, then Google would see site B as being more relevant to its users and should move it up the rankings.

We know that Google measures the percentage of people that click on each of the advert shows (called the Click Through Rate, or CTR) and the CTR affects the position of these adverts. In the same way, CTR affects organic rankings too, so it makes sense to make your website’s listing as appealing as possible (more on this later).

We also know that Google measures the ‘bounce’ from search results. If you Google “weather in Los Angeles” and click on a search result that doesn’t give you this information, you’re likely to quickly ‘bounce’ back to the search results, and choose a different result. Google sees this behaviour as a negative vote against the site, and is likely to affect its ranking if this behaviour is repeated by lots of people over time.

If the visitor bounces back to Google and amends their search, perhaps making it more targeted or modifying it in some way, this indicates that the search itself wasn’t properly targeted enough and so won’t affect ranking.

PageRank

PageRank is the secret sauce that Google uses to measure the relative popularity and authority of all the websites on the Internet. To understand why Google might want to do measure the relative popularity and authority of all of the sites on the Internet, imagine this highly improbable situation:

Due to a strange set of circumstances, you have to recommend a restaurant in a town that you’ve never been to, to someone that you really want to impress. If you make a good recommendation, they’ll like you forever. Make a bad recommendation and you’re struck off their Christmas card list for good. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

So how would you go about drawing up your list of recommended restaurants?

Well you might start by assuming that the restaurants with the longest queue outside are the most popular, so therefore would make a good recommendation. After all people wouldn’t wait in a line to get into a mediocre restaurant. So the longer the line, the safer the bet. If you were really savvy, you might look for people waiting in the lines who are similar to your friend, indicating that people like your friend visit this restaurant.

In this analogy, measuring the line length is what Google’s PageRank algorithm does online. But rather than people stood in a line, it measures links to each website.

If lots of links point to web page A, but no links point to web page B, then web page A usually has a higher PageRank. More links means that it’s probably a more useful and popular page, so therefore it should be shown more prominently on Google. Incidentally the ‘Page’ in PageRank has nothing to do with the webpage but is named after Larry Page, the supergeek Google co-founder who thought up the mathematical algorithm to measure it.

But it’s not just the number of links pointing at a website that determine its PageRank. It’s also the quality (and PageRank) of the websites that these links come from.

This makes total sense if we use a website example:

My website gets a link from spam blog comment on a website that gets no visitors, whereas your website gets a link from the Harvard University homepage (.edu website addresses hold particular weight with Google because they are less susceptible to being taken over by spammers). Which link means more? Obviously your link coming from a big authority institution holds far more weight.

This would be reflected in the subsequent PageRank that our websites get from the links. Your website would get lots of PageRank from the Harvard link, mine would get very little from the spam blog comment.

PageRank ‘flows’ through the links, so the Harvard website (which itself has high PageRank because so many other websites link to it) would pass PageRank to your site. The low quality blog that linked to my site would have much lower PageRank (no one links to rubbish websites), so would have less to pass on.

Note that just like head lice spreading through a primary school, giving another site PageRank doesn’t mean that your site loses PageRank by linking to it. There’s plenty to go around. But the PageRank a website passes on is shared between all of the outbound links on that page.

For example: let’s say that your web page was the single solitary link from the Harvard homepage. In this highly unlikely example, your site would receive a ton of PageRank. Imagine Harvard saying, “This web page is the real deal. You have got to see this”.

If on the other hand there were hundreds of links on the Harvard homepage and yours was only one of them, the PageRank that gets passed along would be shared by all the links on that page.

The only way to create PageRank is to create a new page. Each page is born with PageRank, and shares this PageRank with all the pages that it links to.

This means that bigger websites with more pages naturally have the opportunity to get a higher PageRank, because all their smaller pages feed back into the homepage and boost its authority.

We’re going to be looking shortly at why you should build lots of pages on your website and what you should be filling them with, but for now think of lots of pages in orbit around your homepage all feeding PageRank to it.

Let’s leave PageRank there. We’ll briefly revisit it when we talk about links later on, but for now remember that PageRank is Google’s measure of importance. And the PageRank of a page has a significant effect on where it shows up in the Google listings.

Keywords

We mentioned that Google’s robots crawl your web pages and make a note of words that are found on them. When someone types in a phrase, Google scans its memory of the Internet for instances of that phrase.

 

The phrases people type into Google to find your products or services are called keywords. For example “plumber in London”, “diet plans” or “how to get to the top of Google”.

 

These keywords are extremely important when building and optimizing your website and you will become extremely familiar with your particular keywords by the time your website is top of Google. Every proper page of your website that is supposed to attract visitors (i.e. not privacy policy or the other ‘boring’ pages) should be built around – and optimized for – keywords relevant to the product or service it targets.

 

The keywords that you choose will depend on your business, your particular service or product, your competition and the habits of your customers. Remember that it’s not just your homepage that can show in the search results, and in many cases your homepage actually isn’t the ideal page for visitors to enter your site through. For that reason each of the pages on your site will target slightly different keywords, with some common keywords being used across all pages. This gives you a far broader range of phrases that your site can show up for than just your main money phrase.

Reader Offer: Free Lifetime updates to this book

 

Google is constantly moving the goal posts and as a result we are constantly adjusting, refining and adding new strategies as we experiment and find new approaches that work for ranking websites high on Google. I usually update this book a couple times a year to include these new strategies. If you would like to receive updated copies, free, for life, plus a summary of the new content each time, then head over to www.get2thetopofgoogle.com/offers

 

 

Picking Profitable Keywords

 

One of the most common SEO mistakes businesses make is targeting the wrong keywords. The first mistake is targeting only their business name: e.g. “ACME Scrap Metal” rather than the category “scrap metal companies” or even the problem their customers need solved “scrap metal removal”. It’s typical that in our marketing reviews we notice that a website owner is inadvertently telling Google that they only want to rank for their brand or company name.

 

Do potential new customers really search for your business specifically by your name? Do they even search for your product or service? Or do they search for what it does for them?

 

Let’s look at an example: Pete runs Pete’s Autos, a car mechanics in Croydon.

 

His regular customers might type in “Pete’s Autos Croydon”, but whether or not Pete’s site targets this phrase aggressively, in most cases Google is going to show Pete’s site for this search anyway. So Pete doesn’t need to put too much effort into optimising his site to show up for this phrase and will be better off targeting more profitable phrases.

 

It’s the customers typing in “car mechanic Croydon” or even “new BMW clutch Croydon” that represent extra new business for Pete, so these are the keywords Pete should be writing on his list.

 

The first step in getting your website to the top of Google is sitting down with a pen and paper and drawing up a list of these potential target keywords. Start by listing all of your main products and services and add possible descriptions for each of them in the language of your customers. Pete’s Mega Car Service Package might be “car servicing”, “car service and valet”, “car servicing local pickup” and “fast car servicing” for example.

 

Then under each of your products or services, identify the problems it solves and the benefits it provides, again, in the language of your customers.

 

If you’re a local business, then it’s worth specifying in your list the areas that you service. You’ll want to think about how wide an area to cast, and you’ll have to use your common sense here. For example a cake shop is likely to target an area of perhaps 4 square miles in a medium-density town. Visitors are unlikely to come and visit from much further afield than that, so targeting the town name and the specific districts around the shop will suffice, as typically searches will be made on a district basis (“cake shop Chelsea” rather than “cake shop London”)

 

Photographers on the other hand are far less restricted geographically. Searches for photographers might use town or even countywide searches, so they would be wise to add the towns and counties that they travel to do their list.

 

By now you should have a big long list which we’ll be fine tuning and running through some analysis tools to identify the best ones to target in the short, medium and long term.

 

Let’s see what some of Pete’s Keywords might be:

  • Car mechanic
  • Car repair
  • New clutch
  • Clutch repair
  • Service while you wait
  • Car service local pickup
  • MOT tests
  • Wheel alignment
  • Car servicing
  • Car servicing local pickup
  • VW repair
  • VW servicing

 

One thing to note is that the longer the phrase, the more specific the search. Generally the more specific the search is, the lower the competition and the easier you can rank for it. So if we’re working with a brand new website we’ll usually start by promoting for these ‘longer tail’ phrases (“car servicing local pickup”) and start targeting the broader, higher competition phrases once the site has some authority.

 

In this example the phrase “local pickup” is what we call a modifier. Modifiers are words that can be added to your keyword or phrase that matches one of your benefits or advantages. For example “emergency”, “24-hour”, “local”, “trusted”, “free delivery” “next day delivery”. By adding these modifiers to keywords on your page you can often pick up the ‘low hanging fruit’ and get good placement for particular long tail phrases that your competitors might be ignoring.

 

Analysing Your Keywords Using the Google Keyword Planner

 

Next, we’re going to expand our keyword research by heading over to the Google Keyword Planner. To get the tool, simply Google “Keyword Planner” and click the link. You’ll need to sign up for an Adwords account if you don’t already have one.

 

This super ninja free tool from Google itself allows us to research exactly what people are searching for, how many people are searching for it, and searches related to it.

 

To begin with choose the ‘Get Search Volume’ option and drop in your list keywords and choose your location in the targeting section. If you’re a nationwide business (e.g. E-commerce), choose your country. If you’re a local business, add each of the towns or regions in your target audience.

 

What comes out is a graph showing an indication of total search volume by month over the previous year, along with average monthly search volume for each keyword. By clicking the dropdown menu at the top of the graph you can also see search volume comparison between desktop and mobile devices too, and typically this is in the region of 25 – 40%. Proof if you didn’t already need it that your website needs to be mobile friendly! But more about that later.

 

If your target searches have low monthly search volume, this isn’t necessarily cause for panic. We have seen fortunes made (albeit modest ones) by dominating lots of phrases indicated by Google to be low volume. The statistics aren’t precise and it’s more accurate to use the Keyword Planner to analyse relative rather than absolute search volumes.

 

How to Work Out Your Most Profitable Target Searches

 

The Keyword Planner also gives us some valuable insight into how profitable each phrase can be. The Competition level column indicates the volume of competition amongst advertisers for each phrase, and the Suggested Ad bid is an indication of how much they are willing to pay per click to advertise using Google ads. The higher the amount people are willing to pay, the more money they’re making from that keyword. If you can get to the top of Google’s organic listings for the phrase “New York Divorce Attorneys” for example, you’ll make a lot of money: advertisers are willing to pay $70 per click to advertise to this traffic.

 

While we’re here, I just want to touch on commercial intent. The phrases that lead to purchases rather than just information are said to have higher commercial intent. Consequently they lead to higher advertising spend, and are more profitable to rank for.

 

To illustrate, imagine the difference between somebody searching for “Digital Cameras” compared to someone searching for “Canon 70d free delivery”. It’s clear that the person searching for a specific camera with a modifier like “free delivery” is much more likely to make a purchase, as they’re at the point of choosing a vendor that offers free delivery. By contrast the search for “digital cameras” could signal a variety of intentions: research about digital cameras, pictures of digital cameras, pictures taken by digital cameras, the history of digital cameras, or purchase of a digital camera. Only one of these can possibly result in money changing hands, so savvy advertisers avoid such broad phrases.

 

What if Google Would Suggest the Phrases You Should Target?

 

Who better to ask about the best phrases to target than Google itself? To see Google’s suggestions in the Keyword Planner, click the Modify Search button and choose Search for new Keyword and Ad Group Ideas. As well as putting in the keywords you’ve identified, you can tell Google your website address and area of business. It will then give you a list of keywords that it thinks could be relevant based on the search habits of Google users and targeting by advertisers.

 

How to Choose Your Short, Medium and Long Term Keywords

 

Once you have your list of keywords, we’re going to break them into 3 categories: short/medium term keywords, long-term keywords and everything else.

 

If you’re already ranking well for the more specific keywords on your list, then you’ll want to start targeting some of the more general phrases. In this case your short/medium term keywords will be those broader phrases closest to the phrases you’re already ranking well for.

 

If your site is new or not yet ranking prominently for any searches, you’ll want to start off by targeting some of the lower competition and more specific phrases, perhaps around some of your bestselling products and services rather than the business itself (e.g. “LED light cube” rather than “LED light shop”)

 

Long-term keywords will be the very broadest in your list, provided they have adequate commercial intent.

 

Everything else will be a phrase with low commercial intent (“LEDs”) or those that are so competitive that it’s not realistic to expect prominent ranking (say, for example, that you sold books about the Amazon Rainforest. “Amazon books” might be one such unrealistic phrase!)

 

 

Analysing Your Competition & Identifying their Strengths and Weaknesses

 

Now that you have your list of target keywords, it’s time to analyse your competition. When we’re talking about SEO competitors, we don’t necessarily mean business competitors, but the websites you are up against in your target searches on Google. It’s not unusual for a business to give us a list of their competitors to find that, actually, the guys stealing all their traffic online are a completely different list of companies.

 

It’s important to know what you’re up against for a couple reasons:

  1. Savvy competitors can save you work by showing you what you should be doing – all you need to do is copy them and do more of the same.
  2. Less savvy competitors can highlight serious gaps in their approach that you can use to your advantage and leapfrog them in the Google rankings.

 

Let’s start right at the beginning. Go to Google and search for the one keyword you would most like to rank for.

 

PRO TIP: Checking Ranking

To check your website’s ranking as seen by everyone else, make sure you’re using your browser’s Private Browsing or Incognito mode. If you’re signed into Google or using Google Chrome, the search results Google serves you will have been tailored to your search and browsing history. If you visit your own website a lot, it’ll show far higher for your searches than it would for regular searcher, giving you a skewed impression of where you’re really ranking. If you’ve just realised that your site ranks a lot lower than you thought, I’m sorry it was me that had to break this to you!

 

For the purpose of this exercise don’t panic about where you show up, we’re focusing on your competition here:

  • Who is showing up at the top of the listings? Are they a direct competitor to your business?
  • Who is second? And so on…
  • Are any of your competitors are showing up more than once?
  • Are there a lot of Google adverts for this keyword?
  • Are any of your competitors using these adverts?
  • Does Google suggest related searches at the bottom of the page? Should some of these be added to your keywords list?
  • Are the sites that show up mostly directories or real businesses? Small businesses or large businesses?

 

If you are a local business, as well as the above:

  • Is a map showing up in the search results?
  • If so, how many map results are showing up?
  • Is the map at the top of the search results, further down, or mixed in with the normal Google results?
  • Do the map listings have a lot of reviews? When you click on their Google+ pages are they filled in and looking professional, or are they basic and generic with very little useful information?

 

Once you’ve absorbed all the information from this page, choose your second most desirable keyword.

  • Does the same competitor show up in top position for this search?
  • How many of the positions for this keyword are taken by competitors that showed up in the previous search?
  • Are the same companies advertising as before?

 

I usually repeat this exercise with the 5 top keywords. The point of this is to really understand which companies are my main online competitions for Google’s top spot. If five different websites are coming top for the keywords, that means we have a different competitor for each top spot, so we’ll want to study each of their strategies for each keyword.

 

If one website is consistently in first place for all the keywords, it usually means they really know what they’re doing and have put a lot of work into this. I say usually – if it’s a small niche or very local area it could just be pure luck. Either way they’re going to get a nasty surprise later on when we overtake them.

 

The next thing we do is identify 3 main online competitors. Again, we’re not necessarily talking about businesses that compete directly with yours, but sites that we’re competing with for ranking. They could be big chains or online retailers, or simply websites offering information.

 

If yours is a particularly commercial or competitive market, there will likely be more than 3 main competitors. If this is the case, pick the 3 biggest ones for now and write them down.

 

Of course, if your market is extremely uncompetitive or inhabited by technophobes it might be the case that you don’t actually have 3 competitors online. In which case, be thankful and write as many as you have.

 

Deconstructing Your Competitors’ Websites

We’re now going to forensically study your competitors’ websites and find out how they got to number one so we can beat them. Those readers that are uncomfortable with anything technical should skip to the next section if they find that they’re struggling with any of the geekier competitor snooping!

 

Pick your number one competitor and search for the keyword that makes them rank highest. We’re going to have a look at exactly what shows up in the search results. Notice the title of their listing on Google: does it contain the keyword you searched for? Is the title of their listing short or is it so long that Google has truncated it? You’ll probably notice that their brand name is included in the title as well – is it shown at the start or end of the title?

 

Now look at the description underneath the title of their listing. How many times do the keywords show up in the description? Does it read like normal writing, or is it broken up with ellipsis? Broken up descriptions tends to mean that Google has chosen to ignore the description they’ve provided, and instead taken text from the website itself.

 

Notice what sort of titles and descriptions you can see on the page. The Google results page contains a huge amount of information relevant to our mission so it’s worth spending some more time noticing which descriptions and titles stand out or make you want to click on the link. We can borrow from these enticing titles and descriptions later on.

 

Once you’ve made a mental note of your main target’s description and titles in the results page, it’s time to click on the link to their site.

 

Notice which page opens when you click on the link – is it the homepage: e.g. www.petesmechanics.com or is it a different page, e.g. www.petesmechanics.com/mots-in-croydon?

 

On the best SEO’d sites, you’ll notice that the address of the page that opens contains the keywords you searched for. In the example above, you’ll see that the page petesmechanics.com/mots-in-croydon contains the words “MOTs” “In” and “Croydon”. This is good practice and we’ll be looking at how to do this later on.

 

It also usually means that this page has been targeted specifically at the keywords “MOTs in Croydon”.

 

Next we’re going to have a look to see how many times the phrase you initially searched for shows up on your competitor’s webpage.

 

Press CTRL+F if you’re on a PC or cmd+F if you’re on a Mac, and type in the phrase you searched for.

 

You’ll see how many times the keywords have been used on the page. This number might be anything from 0 on very poorly SEO’d sites to 30+ on over-SEO’d sites. It will usually be somewhere in the middle.

 

Next, find how many times the individual words in the phrase appear, and also any variations, for example “roofer”, “roofing”, “roof”. Google understands that they refer to the same thing and it’s a good idea to include keyword variations on your page. Have your competitors used variations of the keywords in their text?

 

The next thing we are going to do is look under the hood of your competitor’s site to see the optimisation they’ve used in the page’s code, as sometimes they will have left tell-tale signs of their strategy that we can ‘borrow’…

 

Right click on the side of the page, away from the text and picture content, and click View Source (also sometimes called View Page Source or something similar).

 

The page’s source code will open in a new window. We are looking for a couple of sections in particular:

 

The first is a line that begins: <meta name=”keywords…

 

If this line exists, then the website owner has at least attempted to optimise their website to show up on Google. If you look further along in the line, you’ll see the list of keywords they have chosen to target with their website.

 

Whilst you shouldn’t assume that they have got the ‘right’ list, it can be really helpful to see which keywords they’ve chosen and there might be some that you haven’t thought of. The point of all this research is just to absorb what your competitors are doing before we decide how and where to attack.

 

The next section we’re going to look at starts <title>. What follows this <title> tag is the title of the page that showed up in the Google search. It’s worth looking through this title to see how many times they have used the keyword you searched for, and any variations. If this title doesn’t contain the keyword or phrase (perhaps just their brand name), it’s good news because it‘s a strong indication that their site is not properly optimised. This page title is one of the most important factors on the entire website to determine where it ranks, and for which phrases, so if they’ve got their brand name on its own there, that’s a total waste of an area that should be used for targeting keywords.

 

Now find the <meta name=”description” section. If you can’t find it, again that can mean that the site is under-optimised and this is great news.

But for most websites that have been even slightly optimised, the <meta name=”description” section will contain a brief description of the webpage. This description is the suggested descriptive text for search engines to use in the search results, although Google will choose to display text from the page itself if it believes that it’s more relevant to the search and content of the page.

 

This Meta description can give us some valuable insight into the SEO techniques of your competitors, because people tend to fill it with their target keywords in a summary of what they think their searchers are looking for.

 

We’ll be looking at Meta Descriptions later on, but for now another indication to the level of optimisation of the site is the length of the Meta Descriptions on your competitors’ sites. Google tends to truncate at around 160 characters, so very long or short Meta Descriptions tend to be a symptom of an improperly optimised site.

 

Close the source code, and head back to the website.

 

A really important point: It’s generally good practice to have a separate page targeting each of your main keywords. This page will contain the keyword in the page title and the URL. The keyword should be found plenty of times in the text content, plus variations and modifiers. (Variations are obviously different forms of the same word: roofer, roofing, roof. Modifiers are what we call ‘add on’ words – so for example for the keyword: plumber, one modifier might be ‘emergency’ as in ‘emergency plumber’.)

 

Try to notice if your competitors have plenty of different pages all focussed on different keywords, so spend some time clicking through their navigation to see how many pages they have that appear to target specific keywords. They might not be linked to from the main navigation section and you might have to dig a little deeper to find them. A good way to make sure that you’re not missing any pages is to look through their sitemap. To do this, just Google their website address plus the word sitemap (e.g. “exposureninja.com sitemap”) and click on the result that ends /sitemap.xml. This will give you a comprehensive list of the pages on their site, so you can see any pages not listed in their main navigation.

 

You’ll sometimes notice that these keyword-targeted pages are linked to from a section of links in or near the website’s footer. The reason people do this is to avoid cluttering the layout of their website with links to dozens of pages, whilst still linking to them from every page. So they effectively ‘sweep them under the carpet’ and bury them right at the bottom out of sight.

 

This technique is increasingly seen as just the wrong side of being spammy, and while it’s OK to have pages targeting different phrases, you need to make sure that the linked pages are genuinely high quality and useful to visitors. And avoid the spammy-looking footer links!

 

Once you are satisfied that you have mentally logged all the different pages on your competitor’s site, noticed which keywords they are shooting for and seen how many times they’re using the keywords on their pages, you can move on to your next competitor.

 

This might seem like a lot of work, but trust me – this is a major shortcut to years of trial and error!

Backlinks

 

Remember that Google likes sites that have a lot of links pointing at them because this indicates that they’re popular or considered authoritative.

 

The next step in your SEO detective work is to analyse the number and quality of backlinks yours and your competitors’ sites have.

 

Head over to http://moz.com/researchtools/ose and put in your website’s address. The tool will give you an indication of how many backlinks your site has, and the total number of sites linking to you. (If you’re not seeing many links you can also check out http://backlinkwatch.com)

 

At the top of the Open Site Explorer page you’ll see a number of statistics:

  • Domain authority. This is an estimate of the site’s PageRank, so is an indication of authority. The more high quality inbound links a site has, the higher the domain authority will be.
  • Page authority. This is an estimate of the specific page’s PageRank (rather than the website in its entirety).
  • The Established links section shows how many individual sites (Root domains) and total links point at the website.

 

By putting in your top competitors’ sites in for comparison, you can begin to identify possible reasons why they might be outranking you. If you’re being outranked, you’ll usually find that your competitors have more links and higher Domain and Page Authority.

 

Opensite Explorer will show you a selection of the inbound links, whereas Backlink Watch will show you the page and anchor text used in each link.

Anchor Text

 

Anchor text is the text used in a link. When you’re surfing on the net, you might see an underlined word in blue, something like click here.

 

Obviously clicking on that link won’t take you to a website called ‘click here’, those words are what we call the anchor text.

 

So why is anchor text important from an SEO standpoint?

 

The reason we love anchor text is because it can identify what the webpage on the other end of the link is about. For example, in the ‘click here’ example, Google would see the words ‘click here’ and associate the linked page with that phrase.

 

Hopefully then you can also see that using ‘click here’ as anchor text is not the best idea in the world.

 

A far better idea would to use your keywords as anchor text, for example vintage furniture for a site that sells vintage furniture. You can see the anchor text your competitors are using by choosing the Anchor Text tab in Open Site Explorer. If you notice that they always have the same backlink text, take note because this is likely the phrase they have singled out above all others to rank highly for.

 

It might seem like a good idea to create lots of links using your main keyword as the anchor text, but this is where you have to start being careful. This strategy was used to death by low quality SEO companies in the past to the extent where Google’s Penguin update actually started penalising sites for using too much ‘exact match anchor text’, where the anchor text exactly matches the target keyword. It’s natural for websites to get a lot of links with their company name and website address as anchor text, so this is what Google expects to see in a natural-looking link profile. If 80% of the inbound links say vintage furniture, that starts to look a bit suspect.

 

When building links then, it’s a good idea to use descriptive anchor text as long as you’re being natural. Mix it up a bit and use different keywords.

 

On with the Competitor Analysis…

By now you should have a list of the keywords you plan to target and a list of your top competitors for those keywords.

 

You will have studied their websites and noticed the keywords they are targeting, and how aggressively they are targeting them by making a mental note of the frequency of those keywords on the page, in links and in the Meta description and <title> tags, as well as the Meta keywords section.

Phew!

Reader Offer: Free SEO and Website audit

 

Remember that you can claim your completely free SEO and website audit from Exposure Ninja, the Web and SEO company I run, by heading over to www.exposureninja.com/audit

 

You’ll receive a personalised prescription with suggestions for boosting your ranking and conversion as well as some tips for general SEO best practice.

 

 

 

Website structure

 

Before we leave your competitors’ sites, we’re just going to take a quick look at the structure of their websites. By structure, we mean how the pages are ordered.

 

Most well designed websites have pages at different ‘levels’. For example top-level pages might be called Home, Contact, Services, Products etc. These pages have pages underneath them (second-level pages) that go into more detail. For example Services might break into ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gents’ on a hair salon website. These second-level pages might then break into yet more pages covering each of the individual services on offer, for example:

 

Services (top-level page) -> Ladies (second-level page) -> Wedding Hair (third-level page)

 

As well as giving your website visitors a simple and intuitive way to navigate your website, having an organized structure means that you can optimize each of your third-level pages to make them laser targeted. For example, the page ‘Wedding Hair’ can be optimized fully for the phrase Wedding Hair, without having to try and work in other target keywords like ‘hair colouring’ and ‘full head spiral perm’ (I had to look that one up). Pages so specifically targeted stand a really good chance of showing up on Google.

 

It also means your website visitors don’t have to trawl through a ton of information about something they might have no interest in (wedding hair) just to find the content they thought they were clicking through to (spiral perms), increasing conversion rate.

 

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the first section of this book. In the rest of the book we take an in-depth look at how to optimise any website, how to deconstruct your competitors, as well as some strategies to build links (links are the ‘juice’ that pushes a website higher up the rankings).

 

If you’d like to continue reading, you can buy the full paperback or Kindle version on Amazon:

UK store: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Get-Top-Google-including-ebook/dp/B0076XVNM8

US store: http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Top-Google-including-ebook/dp/B0076XVNM8/

Or search your country’s Amazon store for How To Get To The Top Of Google:

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 09.40.19 Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 09.40.38