This is the long-long-overdue follow-up to the piece I wrote what seems aeons ago. It was 18 months ago, to be more precise. The original post was a sort of an SEO pep-talk presenting a couple of case studies showing how one-man bands or small businesses take on big corporate sharks and outrank them with pure clever SEO strategy.
But this time I don’t come alone. I’ve got some of the world’s top SEO experts sharing their experiences of tackling the big guys and winning.
You can still read the original post here and meet the good old David who is a proverbial DIY SEO expert. Oh, come on, I couldn’t have called him Joe Blogs, could I. That would’ve been just rude.
So, one of the case studies was of an e-commerce site Rugby Warfare (DA:30,TF:14,CF:22) that was started by a chap from his bedroom. At the time of writing the original piece, his SEO strategy was so solid that he ranked #2 for Rugby Training just by delivering awesome in-depth content. Where do you think he’s now – 1.5 years later? Perished and gobbled up by the big rugby sites? Nah, he’s ranking #1 for Rugby Training and a hoard of other juicy money keywords.
The 2nd example was of a small business website outranking British Telecom, OneDirect and Amazon for some serious B2B equipment keywords. Has best4systems (DA:43,TF:39,CF:37) stood the test of time? You bet! They’re still number one for their most important keywords. And has BT managed to move the dial just a little bit? Nope, still stuck in position #7.
SEO Strategy Roundup
Let’s hear what the SEO experts have to say:
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized Real Estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past thirty plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX Realtors in New England (DA:51,TF:18,CF:27) for the past decade. In 2017 he was the #6 RE/MAX real estate agent in New England.
He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.
AL: According to my position tracker tool, his website has achieved more than 450 #1 spots on Google for various local and national real estate keywords. It’s also ranking within Top5 for huge national searches like “house appraisal” and “we buy houses”
“While having exceptional content is the holy grail of ranking online, the next best thing is getting a couple of solid links pointing to your article. The simplest way this occurs is another person freely linking to the content because they think it is outstanding.
If you are a newer site it’s far more difficult to get natural links like this though. When you are new your visibility isn’t as great as those sites who already have authority. So what can you do? Find sites in your niche that allow you to post articles that can link back to your money site.
For example, in the real estate niche the are a couple of powerhouse sites that allow those in the industry to create real estate related articles. They are Active Rain and Realty Times. By creating articles at these places that link back to your content, you’re establishing your money sites credibility with Google and other search engines.
You should always be looking for opportunities such as these within your own niche. Another great way to get some traction is to collaborate with others in your field. Do you know some good bloggers? Do some outreach and see if you can post an article on their site.
One word of caution – always make sure the sites you are posting on are reputable. Great links help a lot. Bad links do just the opposite.”
“We have quite a few of success stories in which we’ve managed to compete and outrank bigger brands in terms of SEO.
The one that I’d probably share is the one where we’ve manage to outrank powerhouse brands/publishers in the web space (such as Godaddy, WordPress, Wix, PCMag, etc…) for the key phrases “how to build/create/make a website” – which is a highly competitive search query.
Not only that we’ve managed to get the rich snippet result for this keyword set. But we’ve also managed to secure and maintain the top position for non-rich snippet listings.
We’ve worked on the campaign for over a year. And the approach was quite simple and straightforward, wherein the campaign mainly focused on:
1. Developing an evergreen content asset around the search phrases it’s aiming to rank for – that’s being continuously improved/upgraded. The content’s main aim was to purely educate, which made it more attractive to a lot of prospects (through outreach).
2. Building topically relevant links from high authority (and high traffic) websites to the page (I’ve written about our entire link building process here).
3. The page is continuously increasing its strength to sustain its rankings, since it’s already capable of attracting and earning more links over time (since it’s ranking for informational queries).”
Ryan Biddulph is a blogger, author and world traveler who’s been featured on Richard Branson’s Virgin Blog, Forbes, Fox News, Entrepreneur, Positively Positive, Life Hack, John Chow Dot Com and Neil Patel Dot Com. He can help you become a full time blogger at Blogging From Paradise.
“We ranked on page 1 position #3 on Google for “how to submit a guest post”, ranking alongside Forbes, Hubspot and Venture Beat as we were all Top 4. Here’s the post that ranked: https://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/how-submit-guest-post-12-steps/
(DA:47,TF:14,CF:26) This was in August of 2016.”
AL: Fast forward two years and the article has stood the test of time. In fact, it still ranks #3 only there’s no sight of Forbes or Venture Beat anywhere . This is an awesome example of “pillar content”. Unfortunately, most bloggers treat their articles as perishable goods. They write something good, put it out there, promote it for a couple of days and then forget about it. Yes, that’s how you treat your filler content, however, when it comes to pillar articles, you need to develop an SEO strategy that bears fruit year in year out.
There are three main factors helping this article rank:
- it is well structured, with short paragraphs and simple sentences
- it’s sitting on a high-authority domain name (DA:47, TF:14, CF:26 )
- it’s got a small number of external backlinks pointing to it
The last factor is the least important, and here’s why. It currently has 9 links pointing to it. Four of these can be considered from high authority sources. The remaining five are kind of “meh”. Also, two years ago the article had 19 links pointing to it. So, yes, it’s lost more than half of its external link power, yet it’s retained its position. How great is that?
Writer, scientist, and practitioner of search optimization, Steve Wiideman lives, breathes, and eats SEO, SEM, and inbound marketing. When he’s not an SEO consultant for franchise and ecommerce brands, he’s a cheeseball romantic, entertaining daddy, and world traveler with a passion for life, embracing culture and diversity. Steve’s current projects include a do-it-yourself SEO package and experiments his team is running to better understand the impacts of voice search, featured snippets, and structured data.
“Bob’s Watches (DA:52,TF:19,CF:20) had nothing to do with Rolex when owner Paul Altieri purchased the domain circa 2011. Major jewelers and online Rolex shops dominated the search results and there was very little chance for a small shop in Huntington Beach to go head to head with the national brands with a very limited inventory to start with and zero page history in search results.
We pulled all the insights from competitor strategies, including highest traffic-driving keywords, most intersecting linking websites, as well as content strategies. We knew if our creative wasn’t as impressive as competing pages, we’d always lose.
Every month Bob’s Watches is tweaking design elements, call-to-actions and testing mobile experiences. They listen and watch competitors and leading industry websites, and adjust to make sure they are always ahead of the curve.
Today, the little shop generates over $20,000,000 per year and appears on the first page of Google for just about every major Rolex brand.
I can’t share the traffic stats, but I’ll share the Google Search Console impressions and positions, which you could get yourself from Keyword Planner and a manual Google search:”
Experienced digital marketer working with some of the biggest brands in Northern Ireland and the UK, helping them to achieve their online goals. SEO specialist, owner of Pinnacle Digital as well as being Google AdWords Certified and Bing Accredited.
“I have been working with a client https://www.specifiedby.com (DA:45,TF:20,CF:29) who are competing against RIBA and Barbour who dominate all things architecture and construction in the UK.
We have however been able to rank within the Top 5 for the extremely valuable keyword “Building Product Search” and for a range of long-tail keywords such as “building regulations part k” and “underfloor heating upstairs”.
We have created a very detailed guide on building regulations https://www.specifiedby.com/building-regulations and a knowledgeable section with lots of information, for example this brick guide section http://knowledge.specifiedby.com/topic/bricks/ which has helped us to achieve this.”
Founder & CEO of Rankings.io, a specialised SEO agency for the legal vertical. Chris Dreyer is a self-taught SEO expert who in a space of a few years went from his first affiliate site to founding one of the fastest growing SEO agencies in the U.S. According to Inc.5000, his agency’s 3-year growth has been a staggering 585%.
“The Levin Firm, Michigan Injury Lawyers, Attorney Guss, Dolman Law Group are just some client examples. All were ranked with a heavy focus on high DA link acquisition and quality, longform content strategy.”
AL: Rankings.io is a surprisingly transparent company. I’d suggest you download their case studies (all available on their homepage). I had a look at Attorney Guss (DA:38,TF:15,CF:36) document and the two things that resonated with me instantly were:
- importance of technical SEO and the site architecture – how content is logically structured to give both search engines and users an easy and logical way to find information
- emphasis on the local SEO strategy – you don’t have to be located in a city’s business district in order to maximise the free traffic from map searches.
This SEO expert roundup should hopefully inspire people who are reluctant to realise their real online profits potential. A solid SEO strategy is worth more than a 6-figure marketing budget in a corporate boardroom.
The majority of big businesses are less agile than DIY SEOs and smaller companies. I’m sure this writeup won’t do much for the people who have already settled on the thought that SEO is dead, however, those who are hungry for success will probably leap into action very soon… and I’ll have more case studies to write about!
Legend/Technical Jargon: Now about the clever stuff in the brackets. It’s domain authority measurement to try to illustrate the fact that backlinks are a major part of the ranking algorithm (as are various content-related metrics). Domain autohority (DA) is a metric invented by Moz.com. The higher the better. If DA is higher than 20, it’s likely the website’s owner has done some form of link building. TF and CF were introduced by Majestic.com. Trust Flow (TF) is a qualitative measurement and represents authority of the backlinks pointing to a site. Citation Flow (CF) is a quantitative metric.
It is possible to have a TF:1 and CF:20 and that would be an indication of a a website having loads of backlinks from very shady sources. In fact, if you get “2.00” or higher when you divide your CF with TF, there is a cause for worry and you’re due for a backlink audit.
As for the “Content is King” theory, I’d like to add that no amount of super-quality content will get your site ranked on page one if there is a major gap between your competitors’ backlink metrics and your backlink metrics. Yes, you can fill a medium-sized gap with brilliant content but not a massive one. Every niche is different, that’s why competitor research is a major part of SEO strategy.
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