I left this at the end because I didn’t want to bog you down with all the technical knowledge. In fact, you could probably run the local agency without knowing all of this but it’s going to solidify your expertness. So if you want to go ahead and get started on the company, Unlock the Essentials while you study this lesson. There’s a lot to it and you can learn it while using the Essentials to start the company. There’s no video for this section because you really need to read to get all of this. Once you know all of this, almost no business owner will know this much. Understanding all of this actually makes you an EXPERT.
The Anatomy of a Link
Any link is comprised of several elements. To see a link in coded form, right click it and select “Inspect Element”
This allows you to view the code of a link. Here’s a link on Entreprenuer.com
You’ll see the highlighted line below is referencing the “79 percent of millennials polled” blue link
All links are made by creating an <a href=”url”>Text of the link a.k.a. Anchor Text</a>
The SEO important tag is the rel=”nofollow.” This is a command that search engines are not to follow this link to the next site. In short, a search engine supposedly doesn’t count this link for search ranking. Therefore, millennialmarketing.com does not benefit in terms of SEO link power from being on Entreprenuer. However, traffic from this link may still help them. A dofollow link is simply a link without this tag. Search engines count those links and they are the ones you want to obtain.
There’s no magic formula for how many nofollow links you should create. Just make sure you create some nofollow links or the sudden influx of only dofollow links could be suspicious. I’m not 100% convinced that Google doesn’t count nofollow links so I’m of the opinion that no good link is a waste of time.
Also, anchor text is the words of the link you see. Here’s an example. “An example” is an example of anchor text. Anchor text is a great indicator for what that site might be about. You definitely want desired keywords to be in your anchor text. However, don’t do just “detriot lawyer” over and over, Google will also notice your repeats. Mix it up to look more natural, such as “lawyers in detriot” or “michigan lawyers” “attorneys serving detriot.” Google understands and prefers synonymous content. I’d say make about 10% of your links a direct match of anchor text to desired keywords. Mix up the rest. Using unrelated words won’t help though, keep it on topic.
The last tag target=”_blank” is also important. This signifies opening up a new tab rather than leaving the site. While you may not care on other sites, make sure that any internal links on your site or the client’s site have this tag. If someone clicks a link and it takes them away, this is counted against the total time on your site. If a new tab pops up, they are still left on your site in the other tab and Google views it as a longer session.
The best way to determine keywords for a client is to use the keyword tool from Google adwords. Unfortunately, they’ve reduced the monthly projections to a range, it used to be a lot more exact.
When you search a keyword, you will get several variations. Group them into related terms and record them in a single place as a “keyword group.” Of these I would say lawyer, lawyers near me, and attorney are a keyword group. When Competition is low for a keyword that might mean that ranking for that word might be easier. Attorney might be a better word to focus on than lawyer in Detroit. You can use your list in a keyword group as a base to create several variations for anchor text. Add up a keyword groups monthly search to show a client the potential traffic for ranking in this group. The one we mentioned has a potential of 300-3K per month.
When creating links with keywords as your anchor text, vary which page you link to. If you have a /detroit-lawyers page, use an anchor text like “Detroit attorneys” to link to it. “Lawyer fees” could go to a services page. Just don’t make all links go to a home page, this looks unnatural. Depending on your on-page SEO, multiple pages of the site may rank for a term, thus giving you more real estate on a SERP (search engine result page).
LSI keywords may also be helpful to keep in mind. LSI (latent semantic indexing) refers to related words. For detroit lawyers, LSI keywords could be litigation, law suit, and judge ruling. These are related to your topic. I would say use LSI keywords about 5-10% of the time for anchor text.
As you add keyword groups, your anchor text and the pages you may link to may vary. Make sure to increase your retainer to make room for more links to be made.
Buying vs. Earned Links
What you are doing with SEO is not entirely white hat, or ethical, natural SEO. White hat would be just waiting for people to link to you or emailing people to voluntarily give you a link. This is time consuming, unrealistic for small business, and simply not what actually happens. No one is going to really feel like linking to some lawyers blog post from Detroit, definitely not a big company like Entrepreneur. Your job is to make links look as natural as possible. The big SEO blogs will say that content is king and never pay for links. But I do it. It works. They probably do it too. It’s like your Uncle Jimmy who told you to not do drugs but from his smell you could have called him Aunt Mary Jane.
Google wants it to be all natural. That’s totally understandable. But not achievable by businesses that can’t spend 5 figures a month on SEO.
I tell you this to say that some businesses will ask if it is white hat SEO. I’ve found the best way to counter this question is to say, “No SEO is white hat,” using quote fingers on white hat. Any SEO services are forced. Just tell them you do your best to create quality links that Google can’t tell are unnatural. That kind of logic usually satisfies most inquiries.
What do I call black hat? That’s hiring a company oversees and saying simply, “Here’s $200, I want 10,000 links with these anchor texts.” It’s lazy and you get what you pay for- garbage links. Good vendors take care of their sites and make sure the links look good to Google. Some even have natural traffic. If a link costs less than 50 cents, it’s probably black hat. You’ve got to put in some effort. Make sure to vet your link sources as see if their sites are following good practices. Avoid adult content as Google is not a fan. Unless that’s what you are doing, then well, you figure it out…
Google can’t read images. It’s not that smart yet. It needs an alt tag. For example alt=”name of pic” tag in the HTML of an image. WordPress gives you the option to designate an alt tag without coding. Just like anchor tags, vary the words you use and try to be natural about it. While alt tags don’t drastically improve SEO, they are drops in the bucket.
If you are building a site that’s going to get indexed, use paid photos or free stock. Believe me, I learned the hard way when I started when Getty images sued me for $700 when an employee scraped one off Google search. I make it a special note to ask that all images have permission. When you hire someone to build a site, make sure they had permission to use the images they did.
Content and Duplicate Content
I don’t want you thinking that I don’t believe content is important. It is! But it’s really not as big a deal as others make it out to be and most major SEO research companies, like Moz, still say that backlinks are most important.
If the client can afford to pay for 1 blog post a month, that’s fine for most local companies. Large corporations can afford more and its also a good revenue stream. But blogging alone will not make a site rank higher. I know that for a FACT firsthand. When I started out, I made sure each SEO client did a blog because it was preached to me. Some of my clients now don’t have a blog and I can still get them to rank.
On-page content IS important. Expanding the content on the home page or other pages is pivotal as that’s what Google looks at after following a link. Make sure that if you do any writing its to add to their static pages.
When getting blog posts, occasionally check to make sure a vendor is not delivering repeated content. The best prevention is to only hire contractors who advertise unique content. The easiest way to do find if it is repeated is to highlight about two sentence and search them in google with quotations on each end. This will search Google for that exact content. Do that from about 3 places in the post. If you find repeated content, request that it be rewritten.
Google is really cracking down on this. I once found that an employee had accidentally repeated two paragraphs on a client website and the client dropped. We got it fixed and they went back up. Google is watching!
That’s It, but Not Really…
You now know an intermediate level of SEO. Most of your friends won’t be able to know what you are talking about and definitely not business owners. There’s plenty more to learn and again I encourage you to read an article today. But the above principles are the elements that constantly repeat for me and will for you. When you get this down, you are well on your way to being a real, tried-and-true SEO expert. But you don’t need to be an expert to start a business, people just need to perceive that you are. Get the Essentials, start the business, and additional knowledge will come.