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Hello there! So, in this blog, I will share with you my experience how to bootstrap SEO from 3K monthly sessions to 100K or 150K+ page views.
If you are looking for one of passive income tactics, this could be the one. Especially, if you are into writing. With 100K page views per month you can generate at least $3-5K. Not bad!
I will try to make this bootstrap SEO guide super simple, so even if you are really new to SEO, you can understand it.
SEO can seem super complicated or technical. To be true, there are some not-that-easy areas. And there are plenty of false SEO sketchy marketeers and SEO myths.
But overall, you can start your blog in one day and in 6 months already earning some revenue. And who knows, what you can achieve in few years!
First of all, it is important to understand and believe that it is possible. Even in 2019, when the content competition is just insane, you can start a blog and make money.
Or you can scale the content machine of your startup and bring a significant amount of revenue via inbound.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization – is adjusting your website to Google ranking factors, so it gets more traffic from Google search.
Another, more advanced definition of SEO, by Glen Allsopp (Viperchill): “[It’s] part reverse‐engineering algorithms and part reverse‐engineering human nature.
It’s about using logic and “gut” to do what you think should matter, and then relying on data to correct yourself due‐course.”
How does Google work?
You maybe heard a lot of fancy products from Google: driverless cars, Google Glass, Google Cloud and so on.
But, in fact, 80% of its revenue coming from good old Google Ads, which are displayed above and below of organic search results.
Google adds to its index gazillions of websites everyday and then some of them appear on the first page, some on second and so on.
They are sorted according to Google algorithm, which looks at more than 200 ranking factors.
Some of the most important ranking factors are:
- Comprehensive content
- Quality of backlinks
- Page Speed
- Mobile UX & UI
- Website structure
- External links
- Internal links
- Meta tags
- Keyword density
- and so on.
Some of these factors are more important (content, backlinks), others – not that much.
Bootstrap SEO – the 101 strategy
Next part of our bootstrap SEO beginners guide is actually about SEO strategy.
How, with limited budget, grow your site from zero to 100K monthly sessions?
In this blog, I won’t go about advanced and detailed SEO strategy, but will give you most important directions, which you should follow.
Obviously, your SEO strategy should be based on most important Google ranking factors.
Therefore, in my experience, I call it: “Tech SEO + 3 Whales” – most important steps to bootstrap SEO.
Before going into content, you need to properly setup your site.
There are basically two main ways to build your site:
- CMS (WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, etc)
I would really recommend you to go the second path, unless there are some specific reasons to build a custom website.
For blogging (either personal or corporate) – WordPress ticks all SEO boxes. Maybe, if your website is the core of your business – e.g. e-commerce or marketplace, it might make sense to develop everything in custom site, otherwise – just go with WordPress.
Good hosting can solve a lot of problems in advance. By paying just a bit more, you won’t need to hire expensive WordPress developers in future.
- High quality hosting can provide your with:
- Fast website
- One-click WordPress install
- Advanced caching system
- Customer support
- Daily backups
All these things will save you a lot of time and money in future.
Good WordPress theme
Similarly to hosting, it totally makes sense to spend $50-200 on a good WP theme.
Otherwise, you risk to have insecure, slow and buggy website, which may cause a lot of headache.
After you are done with hosting and theme, it is time to install some must have WP plugins.
- Yoast (Best SEO plugin)
- Tinify or WP Smush (Image optimization)
- MonsterInsights (Google Analytics)
- WP Rocket (Caching)
- AMP for WP (AMP pages)
- Akismet Anti Spam
Remember to keep number of plugins low, as a lot of them may slow down your site.
Also, deactivate or delete unused plugins, don’t install non-non-maintained WordPress plugins – as all these issues may cause security problems.
So, now when you are done with simple tech setup – it is time to dive into 3 whales SEO strategy. Three whales are three most important areas, where you should focus your efforts, especially if you have limited resources.
If you remove one of these areas – your “SEO earth” or SEO strategy will underperform or even fail.
So, three whales are:
- keyword research;
- link building.
Nothing else. If you nail these three – your SEO will skyrocket.
Always start with topic research. If you are a beginner blogger, don’t rely on your gut or blogging instincts only. It is always better to rely on data.
There are plenty of keyword research tools or even SEO Chrome extensions, which may help you with keywords.
My advice to you, in this beginners guide to SEO, would be to focus on low volume, niche keywords first. Aim keywords within 30-300 monthly searches range.
These are the only keywords you can realistically get traffic for, with low domain authority.
After your domain grows, aim keywords in 500-2000 range. And so on.
Long form, comprehensive content is the cornerstone of any successful SEO campaign.
Instead of writing 10 short 500 word articles, focus on one, amazing piece of content in 2K-5K words range. You may ask, why comprehensive content?
Google prefers, when your content gives an ultimate answer to a search query, so user doesn’t need to go to another site.
In fact, it doesn’t always need to be a long form. Long forms with a lot of water in content – don’t work. It has to be a content, which covers all aspects of a specific keyword.
Google hates high bounce rate and low session time. If users leave immediately after visiting your content, without any interaction – your page will slowly go down in Google results.
Don’t forget about on-page SEO as well.
Link building is probably the most mystified and miscommunicated area in SEO industry.
Some SEOs just tell: focus only on content, others – backlinks are spam, others – use black hat techniques and so on. Who is right?
In my experience, if you don’t do active, high quality link building, your site’s traffic might stagnate.
There are many sites with good content, based on keywords, but with little traffic – mainly because they failed to acquire good backlinks.
On the other hand, some of projects I worked on with stable and continuous growth – are always combined with active link building.
In Ahrefs – my favorite SEO tool – you can see a strong correlation between number of backlinks, Domain rating, number of ranking keywords and organic traffic.
To acquire good quality backlinks, try to actively participate in your community: research main influencers and platforms (social media, forums, Quora, subreddits, blogs…) where they push their content.
Always be in active link hunting – try to use every link building opportunity and get a high quality backlink back to your site.
Backlinks won’t bring you immediate results – you got 5 backlink and 300% growth in traffic – it doesn’t work like that.
You can see an effect from link building in 1-6 months. Overtime, they provide stable, continuous growth and boost evergreen content.
It is really important to track your results. You shouldn’t go in Analytic every hour and check how many new sessions and sales you’ve got.
But, you should definitely understand what works and what doesn’t, and quickly adjust your SEO strategy.
Among most important SEO metrics, there are:
- Organic traffic
- Number of ranking keywords in Google (in top 100)
- Number of conversions (signups, orders, trials, contracts, etc) coming from organic search
- Domain authority (or domain rating)
- Number of quality referring domains
However, two most important SEO metrics are: traffic and conversions. You should focus your efforts on growing traffic and even more on growing conversions.
If your traffic grows, but conversations aren’t, you are targeting wrong, low intent keywords.
Organic traffic and conversions you can track with Google Analytics and Google Tags Manager.
Ranking keywords, domain authority, referring domains – with any SEO tool (Ahrefs, Semrush, Search Console, etc).
That’s about it with my bootstrap SEO guide, folks. Hope you’ve got a small insight into the SEO world, which sometimes may feel like playing roulette. 🙂
But, high-quality content, outreach, hard work and patience will definitely get you somewhere in SEO jungles. I wish you a lot of luck!
I am super passionate about SEO, with more than 10 years of experience. Check out my blog – Online Hikes and get some inspiration at Museuly.