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I decided to write this post after having a few friends ask me about how to rank their website. They wanted to rank for terms that I thought were fairly easy to rank for. Their sites were preventing them from ranking for the terms, so there was no need for some backlinks (yet). I took the experiment (turned it into a case study of sorts) and decided to walk through exactly what I did. I could definitely say that the results have been fantastic overall!
They had one main site that we focused on. It was in the “Selling To Real Estate Agents” space. That meant theirs was a niche, specific to them. They could contact real estate agents directly to drive traffic but they wanted the evergreen kind of organic traffic. They also needed CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) but I knew that would come with being successfully ranked. Simply put, they needed an overhaul to the max.
What was holding their sites back from ranking at all?
The first thing I looked at was their actual word count. This sucks for most site creators but the reality is that “large” sites rank easier in Google than smaller sites. The sheer volume of on-page SEO that you can perform on a 1,000-page site makes it easier to rank than a 10-page site.
They didn’t have this luxury. They had small service based sites focused on two things:
- They needed specific target audiences
- They were looking for shoppers, not readers
This looks like the perfect case for Facebook Ads and Google Adwords and while that’s true (they were already running ads), it’s nice to get constant and consistent traffic without buying it all the time. Cash is a limited resource for every business especially small website owners.
The biggest factor that’s holding back their site was the amount of in-depth information they were offering on each of the pages. The second factor was the number of pages. Period.
The information they were sharing, while specific and good, was limited. They weren’t delivering quality in terms of writing and that had shown in their content. The overall site was designed well but was lacking in sheer content. It also didn’t help that they had overly complicated menus. It seems to be conveying the message that they’re afraid people would miss something.
There also weren’t enough opt-in options and no reason to opt-in, anyways. The site was short on word count and didn’t have many backlinks (15 total) when we started. It barely was indexed and what I would call “still had the wrapper” on it.
Why I Didn’t Tell Them To Just Write Daily (Blog)
I realize that content marketing is popular. The fact that they couldn’t write well meant we were years away from having any kind of content that would naturally help them gain rankings through shares. They also had a limited budget today and that wouldn’t likely get better just because they were starting to write.
Writing and delivering content takes time. And that time could’ve also been used to manually push traffic to their site or offers. They were in business because they could close and had a good product. What was keeping them afloat were the ads they ran and their individual email product pitches to people. They just weren’t going to make the next big jump until they were seen as an authority in their space which meant that they needed an authority website.
Writing daily sounds like great advice and it may be if you’re starting a blog. If you’re trying to sell something (you already have product) then you need people, not articles.
People coming to a site and reacting means what they need is to sustain this kind of attention. They needed to have their website to convert some of the attention into something that will return a profit for them. That’s where I came in. I was there to help them scale by helping them build an organic ranking website.
What They Needed From Me Exactly to Rank
What they needed was a plan and that’s exactly what I did first. We then made a detailed attack plan that they should execute.
They needed a process and that’s when we found them a writer and showed them how to feed the right info to their writer so they can build content that converts and with call-outs that grab opt-ins.
They also needed email sequences to send to people who opted in. I don’t discuss this part much in this article but we wrote them a 20-part email series using our very own template. If you want the same thing, sign up and just save our emails and use them as templates.
We also built out their process more even after their rankings have improved. We took their writer to become a weekly contributor and had the writer add an email series and guest posts to their list of chores. We then set up their outreach campaign to run consistently.
They ended up having a perfect process for growing from where we started. They now consistently get links, in-depth posts, guest posts, and new emails to add to their email sequences—all on autopilot, in fact.
This article will walk you through what we did to achieve those results!
Limited Budget Responses to Ranking Websites
Content is king. Well, guess what? Content is also not cheap.
That’s the perfect headline for anyone that tells you to do “content marketing” like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
We needed a solution that was cost-effective for ranking a smaller site. Here’s why:
A hundred articles at $40 a piece was just about the budget for the entire project which is $6,000 in total. But that still wouldn’t produce enough content to make their site larger than it should be and would have no meaningful impact. Since we couldn’t just push content around, we had to work with precision in mind.
We decided instead to have them invest their time. They would outline and research the main points and talking points around each keyword we were targeting (I showed them my videos for this). They needed a bit of training but they could invest five hours a few days in a row and detail out 4 or 5 posts in that time.
They actually took this one step further. They recorded themselves as they browsed over the top ranking websites for their search terms. They took notes of the main points to include and how to word them in a way that’s much more compelling!
They then paid someone to transcribe them into documents for the writer. This meant there were sometimes 2,000-word dissertations for the writer to break down and transform into meaningful content.
Looks like finding a writer just got more important and difficult… SMH
Hiring a Writer When You Suck at Writing
Let’s face it. Not everyone can just write a 2,000-word detailed post out of thin air. That’s the reality.
Google however only ranks detailed content that covers a subject in depth thoroughly.
So as I was saying, I had them outline in bullet points the major facts they found as well as write small blurbs about the content. They went one step further and created in-depth transcriptions as well. This actually made the process better but much more difficult.
We then went to Upwork and ran this ad (Click Below To Get The Exact Ad Template I Use To Find Writers).
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This ad worked perfectly because you can find writers, that from experience (the most vital point in finding a writer), can talk to your audience and cover your topic in-depth.
Google Loves In-Depth Content But That Isn’t Enough
Following this process helped me get 5 posts every 10 days—two weeks ready for the next steps to my master plan. This took around $1,000 of the budget and 30 hours of their time.
Here’s the exact process to make sure you didn’t miss it from the above:
- Copy the current content on-site and make a Google doc with research and add in points that need to be made. Transcribe points below the current content in the Google doc. This is the expert portion of the post. They’re the expert and we need their input. One important point here is to aim at making something better than what was ranking for that keyword already (Skyscraper technique style).
- We hired a writer while they were making the edits to take the edits and write them. We made sure that the writer had personal experience on the topic and had also been published in some major publications. This served as a way for us to assess their previous writing.
- The writer wrote their edits and shared the document for the revisions we requested. We then edited again and followed up in detail.
- The writer wrote a “content” locker report (Top 20 Things To, Best Ways To) for each piece of content utilizing the information we provided. It was basically a smaller, condensed version of the post with steps to use it in a pdf.
- We then made the on-site edits to the post and added the pictures. We also used stock images and made changes to the infographics to really cover the subject and to also make it visually appealing. This was done using Canva.
- We made a video using video blocks subscription and Camtasia (I had both) and made custom videos for each page. Youtube copyright free music was used as well.
- We used video SEO (bought as a gig from a seller) to SEO the videos for keywords. The gigs were less than 50 each because these were medium to easy keywords, especially on Youtube.
Now this is where we started working on conversion rate optimization, on-page SEO, and backlink building. We’ve spent around $1,400 dollars total at this point.
See, Google may love content and content may be king but the truth is that without SEO, Google wouldn’t be able to love your site. No matter what you publish, it will not just rank.
Content is expensive. You either spend hours writing or hours feeding your writer what to write and paying them in the process. Either way, it would cost a lot of time and money.
Link Insertions Because of Quality Content and Proof
So we dove right into working on their on-page SEO and started reaching out to blogs in their niche.
We gained close to 30 backlinks (using link insertion scripts) to each page on their site.
We did the outreach first and the on-page stuff came later. We figured we could get the links while we were fixing the site. Those kinds of links took more time and were more out of our control as opposed to doing internal linkings and titles. We did shorten URLs and came up with focus URLs on the keywords first. That way, the links were pointing to the correct places on the site.
We focused on niche sites that had a Domain Authority above 24. We randomly picked that number based on the site list we could gather.
Here is that process broken down for you:
- We now had amazing articles to request links for. We ran Screaming Frog and Ahrefs reports to find anyone linking to a few key articles in their niches that we had seen during research and I had them document those.
- We ran all sites and looked for niche sites. We compiled a pretty massive list of over 2,000 sites with a DA above 24 and a max DA of 55 to reach out to. We maxed the DA just to keep the large, hard-to-contact sites at bay. We wanted smaller niche sites that were focused and easier to contact. Typically these are “owner” sites and not corporate sites with editors. This list originally had more sites but then later got reduced when we chose the minimum DA of 24 to narrow down the search results.
- We prepared a drip sequence in Ninja Outreach to contact site owners. We referenced our new piece of content and the “current” outdated piece they were linking to. We asked if they would share and link to the new piece of content, citing the quality, and time we took to help educate the world.
- We inserted bonuses on their site for downloads (content lockers via Growtheme) to capture the audience that was going to the posts.
- We then ran a Ninja Outreach campaign looking for blogs to guest post on in their niche. This was a one-day project but we saved it for use later. We did have the writer get started on making the points about what was on some of these sites and which may bring more audience through guest posts.
On-Page SEO is Important!
We ran through the on-page SEO data fairly quickly. We adjusted URLs to be shorter and keyword specific. We had internal linking built around the site and followed a basic silo structure. We also had references throughout the site point to specific pages. So anywhere the word real estate was used, we linked to the real estate category page.
That page was a major piece of content that was extremely detailed in discussing real estate marketing and the local area effects of advertising. It also had an extensive walkthrough on how to utilize the information in the content as well as case studies about people that had studied and followed the same advice. Overall, it was highly detailed and 10 times better than what currently ranked for the key term.
Most of the case studies were from other sites and we “borrowed” them and their points. That kept the budget down so that we didn’t have to make our own case studies. This is an important point to note. Limited budgets meant crafty growth hacks need to be applied too!
We set up AMP and made sure the site was running HTTPS properly. We then went through and sped the sites up to the max. We had page load times down as far as we could go using “themes” and not re-coding anything heavily.
Mobile responsiveness, security, and page speed are three major ranking factors in Google. That’s why we focused our effort around them after doing internal linking.
That was the extent of the on-page SEO that we did for them.
Rankings Skyrocketed But Only After We Did This
So now we had backlinks from niche sites with great anchor text diversity to every page of the website. Each page had killer content with visually appealing graphics. We also had calls-to-action strategically placed throughout the site. Opt-ins were coming in because of the shout outs and social shares that were happening because of the efforts we’ve done.
We then ran a small social campaign.
We used various hashtags on Twitter and reached out to groups on Facebook and Google+. We asked the people to share and link to the resources. I don’t know how much this helped overall, honestly, but we did do it. I think we probably picked up a few links and definitely a good enough amount of results from it.
We then went after LinkedIn Groups and used Sales Navigator to message niche owners and influencers. Do the same and ask for shares or links. They already had a list compiled from their years of selling through these channels.
During this time, we had the writer churning out more content. They were making around 40 articles total that compiled all of the information that was on our site but just not as in-depth. These were quality articles that I had a specific plan for. The cost was right at $1,500 dollars. We had two writers and wish we had found a third but we just never did.
We used Getcontent.club and our own list of blogs we could guest post on. We sent out titles to the list of blogs with each having around 5 headlines that we “hacked” from headline swipe files. We had over a hundred blogs who we contacted write back to us.
That process was grueling. Have you ever came up with 500 headlines? We learned a lot doing it so I don’t want to leave that part out. It was significant as we moved forward. Those headlines all became posts or part of their content calendar later on.
The Rankings Shot Through the Roof
I was truly amazed at what happened next. Realize that we had been active on this campaign for a few months at this point. We had seen slight increases in rankings. Links to each page had put every page site-wide ranking in the top 20 for most of the key terms we were monitoring. Many of the pages were on the front page.
Front page sounds great and looks good but doesn’t get near the clicks that the first 3 spots on a search bring. Top 3 is the only place worth having in any search term. Especially when it comes to your targeted keywords.
When we published the guest post on Content Club, the rankings shot up. The DA 74 and DA 54 posts gave the site that huge boost of authority it needed.
We ended up publishing around 35 guest post on other sites. All in all, the effect was amazing.
Those guest posts were supported with a 2nd tier link push to each. We also had web 2.0’s sent to every page and a 2nd tier link push to each of those web 2.0 clusters as well. This was before the ranking increase because of a slow service provider. Tiered linking helped on the whole but it was after we had ranked the bulk of the content.
The Results From This Process
Each page had 40 links from relevant niche blogs:
- Each page had at least 5 high authority links pointing to it
- 2 Pages had DA 74 links from Content Club
- 2 Pages had DA 54 links from Content Club
- 2 Pages had DA 45 links from Content Club
- On-page SEO with super in-depth content
- Strategically advanced opt-in placements that converted like clock work
- Content lockers that converted like clock work
- Each page had videos that ranked in Youtube for keywords
- Each page had infographics (we later submitted to infographic sharing sites for more links)
- Highly detailed, 10X more in-depth information about each keyword and search query
- Over 1k unique visitors weekly
- 100 opt-ins monthly
- Residual sales on auto pilot
- Each page ranks for 5+ keywords in 1st position
- Each page ranks for 10+ keywords for top 10 positions
- Each page continually ranks for more and more content
- Social shares surpassed over 10k in total
- Facebook ads conversion increased 2X because of onsite CRO
- Videos rank in top 10 for search terms on Google results
- Success in every aspect
The sites went from no traffic organically to getting multiple requests weekly for people asking to feature their sites in case studies etc. They get guest post requests to this day still because of the emails we sent. The content continually grows in authority and rankings.
Their website is now an authority in their space. They have a perfect process for continually adding more keywords to their ranking. They also have a growing email list. They gain a few links every week because of the process. They continually reach out for link insertions to every piece of content they have. The content is that good and still gets them links.
Go back to the beginning of this post. They needed a process and they got just that. Their conversion rates are great. Their SEO is thriving. On average, it was one of the most well-executed campaigns we have run.
The Pre-Work Laid the Ground Work—Don’t Skip It
This was a strategic and researched campaign. It wouldn’t have worked if we wouldn’t have done thorough keyword research. We couldn’t have done any of that had the site owners not already chosen a niche and knew what product they wanted to sell.
Here is the process if you are just starting for the pre work I’m talking about:
- Choose the niche
- Choose the products you’re selling
- Choose the keywords
- List the top 3 resources ranking in top spots for those terms
- Choose your domain name and have WordPress installed
- Install Growtheme (click the paper airplane icon at the bottom of this site to check it OUT)
- Make your welcome gate and initial site setup
- Then start with the process I ran and documented in this article
Think long term process. If you build great content and do consistent, quality outreach then you can rank your website. We ended up spending around $5,000 dollars total on the project without my fees included.
Also, blog owners and entrepreneurs recognized that if they want their brand messaging to boost beyond their present network, they need inventive marketing. Increasingly, marketers and writers are turning to guest blogging to achieve their goals. Did you know that one guest blog can reach thousands of other consumers? Especially if blog owners and entrepreneurs carefully construct their guest-blogging campaigns. So how will you be able to achieve this? Through Content Club. A small group of website owners, agencies, and writers. We focused on what ranked in Google. Length, On Page SEO, and Headlines. We focus on traffic, recognition, and authority for SEO. Want to learn more? Be our guest and check our website today.