Hello Affiliate World. How you all doing today?
My name’s Matthew Woodward. I’m guessing that some of you know who I am.
For those of you who don’t know who I am, I started an SEO blog way back in 2012.
Since then, I’ve helped thousands of businesses and individuals like yourself
to grow your search traffic, and the blog went on to win
a bunch of awards by some luck. Since launching the blog,
there’s been over 6 million visits. I’ve had like thousands of testimonials of people that have visited the blog and managed to increase their search traffic and I’m going to teach you how to do that today, and I know at Affiliate World, there’s not much really about SEO here.
We’re kind of like the aliens here, so I’m hoping to teach you a simple process that we like to apply and help you to elevate your search traffic, and I’d like to introduce you to Rad. I’m basically his bodyguard.
No, I know I don’t look like one, so I’m not going to make it up. My name is Rad Paluszak and I am the head of technical SEO at Matt’s agency. The search logistics. So since my background is in software engineering and web development, I’m basically making sure that all the technical cogs are working smooth at the agency, and that we keep on top of our game. I actually like to joke that I’m an SEO during the day, but web developer at night, but luckily my software, algorithmic, and machine learning related skills, allow me to better understand what’s actually going on inside of Google and that helps us craft some really powerful and successful SEO strategies, which one of them, Matt and I are going present for you today. So today, I kind of just touched on it, but SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. As humans, it’s natural for us to over-complicate things, but SEO is really just a simple three-step process and we’re going to speak about that today, and one of the things I noticed while running a popular SEO blog, everyone’s looking for that secret ingredient, but the secret ingredient doesn’t really exist. Show of hands, how many people have had trouble increasing their search traffic? Yeah, like me too. Even to this day, I have sites I struggle with, and it’s just how it is. So today I’m going to show you —
Look, the three steps that we go through is, first of all, we always conduct an SEO audit. Any new site that we want to increase a search traffic for. Step one, the SEO audit. Step two, create quality content. The content creates a relationship with your users. It’s what allows you to sell the products.
People often take shortcuts there, and then finally, build relevant backlinks. Backlinks are king.
And a backlink, for those that don’t know, it is essentially when one website links to the other.
It’s a vote. Not all votes are equal. A vote from the New York Times is worth more than a vote from me, for example. And that’s really all it boils down to, those three principles were responsible for increase in traffic 14x from 2,732 visitors to 38,000 in the health niche.
A lot of you guys are active in the health niche. I think keto diet, that kind of thing and this traffic’s free. Once it’s built, we’re not paying for it. It’s is pure profit, and so, we’re going to hopefully teach you a few things, so you can walk away a bunch of actions. So you can increase your search traffic today. But before we get into the gory details, let’s take a closer look at our case study site first. It’s an affiliate-focused website that
reviews various weight loss supplements targeting the USA and United Kingdom markets.
It targets keywords like, as Matt said, keto diet, weight loss supplements,
keto pills, and stuff like that. I’m sure all of you or most of you at the Affiliate World today are familiar with those keywords in that niche. So the site does that by providing trustworthy specialist reviews that help people decide which diet supplements are best for them.
The main focuses of our strategy, our campaigns, were to basically leverage the site authority in the eyes of Google, by increasing the site’s overall compatibility with Google and trust signals towards the site,
and we’re going to be talking about that in just one second. The other part of the strategy was about pushing the rankings for very high search volume keywords to the first page of Google and obviously, targeting mainly the top three, where possible and
this is what SEO is about right. Exactly. All of that is usually pretty straightforward, but
this case study had one big problem. I guess a lot you guys know the health
niche is super competitive, and for the most part, Google search results are dominated by big brands. If any of you guys are from the UK, you’re going to be familiar with Holland & Barrett. This case study was done on a UK site, in UK search results, and we’re competing against big sites, even like Healthline, the US site, they’re really, really big sites, and if you take a look here, they’re like DRT 80, 305,000 backlinks, 95,000 referring domains, and here’s a Google search results using the Ahrefs browser extension, and if you look at the red squares, there’s some pretty terrifying metrics to be up against. Especially, if you’re a new site with a small budget, which this site was.
But if you’re looking these green squares here, this is where we see an opportunity. All of these sites that you see ranking here for weight loss pills, are purely ranking out of the strength of their domain, rather than the strength of the individual page, and for us, that’s an opportunity because they’re not trying to compete on the page level, that means that we can come in, and put a lot of focus and effort and attention on a page level, and come up above these guys.
So that’s how we kind of compete with the big boys if you see big, big, big brands ranking
in the SERPs, you want to look for that. If you saw that the page level metrics were strong, forget about it. Don’t even try and compete. If they’ve got strong domain metrics and
page level, forget about it, but if you see things like this or Amazon search results or Amazon products in search results, that is like a green sign that you can compete. Even against the big boys, even if you’re a new site with a small budget. You know, I keep saying it, we like to keep it simple.
We boil down our process to three steps. Technical SEO, content creation, link building.
It’s no more complicated than that. With SEOs, all we need to do is give Google what it wants. It’s no more complicated than that, and what Google wants is healthy website,
with a good site structure, backed by good content, and then backed by relevant links. That’s it.
SEO doesn’t need to be more complicated than that, and it’s often sold and presented to be more complicated than that, and it isn’t. Just keep it simple. That’s all there is to it. So I want to show you how that actually translates into the real world. Now to help you understand the process, we are going to step you through the core, SEO strategy, and precisely what we did. So the strategy was broken down into a few sections. First of all, keyword research, competitor analysis, content strategy, onsite audit, site structure, and the link building. Now I want you to really understand that it was the combination of all of these elements that really allowed us to 14 fold the
search traffic towards the site in just 8 months, and I want to like really stress it out again,
that it was the combination that was really important because quite often, clients come to us and say and they’re like really obsessed with link building, and only link building. And they ask us questions like —
How many links do you build? Yeah. How many links are you going to build a month?
And to be honest with you, the point is, link building is just one of the elements of the overall SEO strategy. It’s just one of them. So that makes all these questions about link building, on their own, seem pretty naive, if I’m honest with you. Again, let me ask you a question.
How many links do you think we built towards this site to 14 fold the traffic?
That’s right. 76. We did that with just 76 links, and we took it from 2,700 visits a month
to over 38,000 with only 76 links, and this is because we focus on everything. On all
the elements, not just link building or the number of links that we are building every month. So we’ll share the link building strategy with you later, but first, you need to get the basics right, and for some reason, I don’t know why, but not many people seem to even want to get the basics right, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is where it creates opportunity for people like us. Yeah and you know, that’s common in business. A lot of businesses don’t get the basics right. They’re so obsessed in the details that they don’t get the basics right, and with SEO, if you’ve not got that foundation right and you run out to build links, you’re wasting budget, you’re wasting time, and you’re not going to compete. You’re just not going to be able to. So I’m going to show you how to do everything right, and the first thing that we like to do with new clients is conduct detailed keyword research, which I know keyword research is boring, no one really wants to do it, but it’s the life and soul of your SEO campaign. If you get it wrong, well you just wasted money. If you get it right, you make a ton of money.
In this case, we got it right, and how we typically approach it, is first we ask clients, what keywords you want to rank for? And then we’ll go out and research them with various different tools. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, Keyword — I’m sure you familiar with that
one. I’m not going to say it. AnswerThePublic, Google Keyword Planner, and we just delve into there. This site was mostly in like keto type keywords. So we were going through and looking for different types of keywords and mapping them to intent. For example, we’d look for money keywords, drive traffic to key affiliate pages, think product name review, brand review, that kind of thing.
We’d also pick out like generic keywords. Things that don’t really relate to
a product, but relate to a topic, like the best keto diet, or best keto pills,
or something like that. It’s about the topic, rather than a specific product. Then we like to do strictly informational keywords where we’re not trying to sell. Like, what is the keto diet?
What are the pros and cons of a keto diet? And once we’ve got keywords that focused on money, intent, questions, informational. That builds a complete content base and it’s that
complete foundation that Google’s looking for. If you just focus on money, money,
money, money, money, and affiliate, affiliate, affiliate, you’re gonna have a hard time ranking overall. So you’ve got to really build out a full keyword strategy that’s not just focused on the money. You need to focus on helping people as well, and help people connect a problem to a solution, and that’s what
really makes a difference when you’re building out a site. So taking a closer look at things,
you’ve probably heard a lot about it before. Before, we didn’t really care about search intent. We’re just kind of ranked for whatever we could. It’s very important to make sure that
the keywords you’re trying to rank for, really do truly align to your business’ goals and needs, and if your site and business can’t satisfy that intent, don’t go after the keyword. You might be dazzled by the search volume, but if you can’t satisfy that intent, just don’t go after it, and one of the big things that SEOs miss out on right now is a power of observation. We’re so blinded by tools, and automation, and data, like no one actually uses their eyes anymore. No one looks at a keyword, searches it in Google, opens the top five results, and observes what they see. Like for me, it is critical. You’ve got to
open it up, and you’ve got a look at your top ten competitors and look how long is their content? What is the purpose of their page? Does it match the intent of the search?
What types of pages are ranking? Are you seeing lots of product results ranking? Are you seeing lots of informational content ranking? Are you seeing lots of lists post ranking?
What type of content is ranking? You need to know that. You also need to
look at, how strong domains are. We discussed that a little bit earlier, and page layout and design more importantly than anything else. Now what I like to do is, I just go through all of the results and make notes of what I like and what I don’t like about each result, that then creates my strategy moving forward. My strategy is entirely built on the power of observation, like okay, these guys do this, this, and this well, but they do this, this, and this bad.
So now I’ve got a map of what I need to build and how to overcome that. Once you have your keyword research
and the observation phase, then you basically mapped out where do you want to go with your SEO strategy, but there’s one more thing to do, and you need to know where you’re starting from, basically. We do that at Search Logistics, through performing and a fully comprehensive on-site audit, and usually, technical on-site audit includes these elements. Site structure, so you’re basically looking at the elements like, your hierarchy within the site and if you’re using maximising your
link juice distribution through your site. Page speed, so if the site is loading
fast for Google and your users. But yeah okay, if you’re thinking about the users only, you can’t get it wrong. So that’s the thing. Index management, so do you have any
unnecessary index bloat in Google. Duplicate content, which is quite often caused by tags and categories pages in WordPress, or as an affiliate, you’re using for example, manufacturers product description. You shouldn’t do that because that creates duplicate content right. Internal redirect problems and weak internal linking. These are elements that are very powerful in SEO strategy, but quite often underused, and trust signals. So are you sending the right message to Google? In this case,
we found four main problems that were major for the site, and we decided
to obviously prioritise them and address first. So page speed, duplicate content, internal redirects, and thin content, and now to be honest with you, these are four elements that we come across very often when we’re doing our on-site audit. Yeah, these kinds of problems are common in a lot of sites, and if anyone’s an ecommerce store owner, I guarantee you have duplicate content issues. I’ve never seen an ecommerce store that doesn’t have duplicate content issues, and if you’re wondering like, if I need to do an SEO audit, you can actually just jump and take a quiz on the Search Logistics site and that will tell you if you need to conduct an SEO audit or not. If you just jump through a few questions, but typically, if you’re struggling to grow search traffic, or you’ve kind of hit a plateau, or a decline, or a penalty,
you need an SEO audit, and anyone that really wants to start increasing their search traffic, you’ve got to start with an audit. You’ve got to know where you’re starting from, before you can decide where you’re gonna go. In this case, one of the major problems was site speed, and the site was loading really, really poorly for both desktop and mobile devices, and this
created a huge problem, and the reason why poor mobile performance is, for you, a
really big problem is because Google largely moved over to so-called mobile-first indexing, and that means that Google will look at the mobile version of your site first, in order to judge how well it will perform on desktop as well. So if your site performs badly or looks terrible on mobile devices, you are in trouble. In this case, we were able to fix the on-site speed problems by installing two plugins. First, WP Rocket, which basically optimised, literally
and some other things that are basically one-click performance optimisations. So WP Rocket, will take care of a lot your site speed issues from a code perspective, but from an image perspective, we like to use ShortPixel.
I’m sure some of you are familiar with — and the name escapes me right now,
WP Smush. WP Smush is a free plugin. It will compress your images, but I took images previously compressed with WP Smush, and compressed them a further 76% with ShortPixel and that really makes a huge difference in load time, especially on a mobile phone. I don’t know if any of you were at the breakout session just a minute ago with Yoast, and they were kind of talking about how in the first world, we’re used to 4G, and everything, but in a lot of countries,
they’ve only got 3G, and that really like weighs down on the speed of a site.
So it’s really important to take care of not just code optimisation, but the image
optimisation as well, and I used the WP Rocket and ShortPixel across all of my sites. It cost a little bit of money but the benefit that you get from them is tenfold the cost. The second issue we had was with WordPress taxonomies creating duplicate content, and for you, for the ones of you who aren’t familiar
with that term, they were basically tags, categories, author, and data archives that
are duplicating like most of the content from the posts. So there is no denying
that WordPress is a great platform to build your website on. However, it also
makes Google index a lot of rubbish, and when all this bloat gets indexed, what happens is your overall SEO value of the site decreases, and you end up not only facing the issue that you have a bunch of duplicated pages or a lot of duplicate content within the site, but also you struggle with crawl budgets, and what crawl budget is, it’s basically the time that Google allocates out of their own resources to get to know your site better. So you really don’t want to waste that stuff. Now to put it simply, if you have 50 pages indexed in Google, but only 5 that Google should really pay attention to, you should absolutely get rid of the remaining 45, and you can do that through using SEO
plugins, like for example, Rank Math, which is a free plugin that you should
probably replace your Yoast SEO with. Yeah, sorry about that. You should though. Basically when it comes to pruning,
if the page offers little to no value for your users, you should get rid of it and if you’re still in doubt, you can look at, let’s say six months of the traffic to that page in your Google Analytics and that should aid your
decision-making process. The third major issue we came across is a very common one, because this site, as many others, has migrated from HTTP to HTTPs,
which is overall a good thing but problem was that the migration was executed really poorly. So it leftover some pages that we’re still linking or some internal links that we’re
still addressing HTTP instead of HTTPs. We had some pages that were either renamed or removed and there was no redirect to follow, and the theme itself also had some hard code that HTTP references and these created redirect loops. Now these issues are actually the ones
that we really like to be aware of. My favourite kind of issue.
Because basically, once you identify them, I think it took us, what, like 30 minutes
roughly to get rid of all these? Yeah, yeah. So it’s like a big issue but it’s the kind of issue that you want to find because it’s an easy fix, and so what we couldn’t fix so easily though is content, and what we’d observed while looking at search results, this was a content-heavy niche but over 50% of the pages on this site had less than 500 words of badly written, outsourced, non-native English-speaking content, that kind of thing. I’m sure you’re all familiar with, we’ve all come across it in search results quite regularly. And you know, so we knew that the content just wasn’t gonna cut it in this case, and Google rewards fresh, long-form content that now directly addresses user intent. So we had to adjust a content strategy to support that, and really underpin the main campaign goal. So with that in mind we increased the average word count from 500 words to 2,200 words per page, which is no joke. That’s a lot of work to do, and in addition to expanding a website’s copy, we also looked at things like page titles, meta descriptions. Were they really match in the intent of the searches? How did they stack up against the competitors in the search results? Were we’re making the best use of copyright in principles in order to attract that click. We wanted to make sure everything was working in harmony. Headings, titles, descriptions, content, everything to increase compatibility of the site with Google, so to speak. Interestingly following that same strategy, and this is probably something that you might want to pay attention to, we increased a length of
the content of the homepage to 11,000 words just by answering 20 popular questions in the niche. That increased the visibility of the homepage to rank for over 11,200 different keywords just by adding a bunch of FAQ type content to the homepage. That’s it. Simple. Content that helps address people’s problems, connects problems to solutions, that’s all we did. Pretty simple stuff, but I mean, I keep saying it but simple SEO is effective SEO. That’s it. So once we’ve taken care of all of the smaller, technical SEO problems, we turned our attention to site structure. It’s important to pay attention to
build a healthy site structure. Why? Because first of all, it helps the user find what they need and secondly, maybe more importantly, it helps Google find what they need, and
it helps them to understand the site. It helps to prioritise the most important content and distribute the link equity throughout the site. Now, all of your core pages of your site should be within three clicks of your home page. Here this graph is pulled out of Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog is a paid tool, but you can get a free version, it will run up to 500 URLs. In the bottom right hand corner, you’re gonna find these stats. You see that example of bad crawl depth, that’s actually for my SEO blog, because when I built my SEO blog, I never intended it to take off, and I never paid attention to site structure, and you can see most of my content is ten clicks away from the home page. After a recent SEO audit, I brought it down, so that most of it is within two or three clicks, and you can see, when you visualise it in Screaming Frog, it’s quite a big difference between before and after. It makes a huge huge, huge difference and it’s absolutely critical that you build a healthy site structure before you waste any time and money on link building. So if you haven’t paid attention to site structure before, that should really be a number one priority. So as soon as you’ve got a keyword strategy,
a healthy site structure, it’s time to get your hands dirty with the content. A lot of businesses struggle with content production. It’s often a bottleneck, and it really delays progress. It slows down results. So you should always get head start on content if you can. The way we do it, is first we select our primary keywords. Remember we’re talking about the different types of keywords, money keywords, informational keywords, things that exist to help people, rather than to sell people.
Then for each keyword we’ve covered it before, do a search, open up the search results, look at each page content length, its purpose, what’s good, what’s bad, and all of that allows us to create a content specification. By looking at what’s bad and what’s good, it’s very easy to know, even if you’re not familiar with a topic, what you need to include in your content, and then it also makes it really easy to hand it over to a writer, and they can just get on with it. Now, as I said, this was a content-heavy niche. So all of the new content that we produced, we made sure was at least 2,500 words, and we published two pieces of new content every month just to keep things fresh in Google, and interesting, and you can see here,
that we managed everything through Trello. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with it. Nice, simple tool, especially for managing writers in an editorial workflow. Once we had developed our killer content and restructure strategy, we needed to help Google and users navigate through the site easier with internal linking.
The fact is at Search Logistics, we don’t even use internal linking. Instead we use the term internal link building, and this is because you basically use all the benefits of classic link building, but you apply it internally. So anchor text, page rank leveraging, and stuff like that. It’s all applied internally, which allows you to have full control over that, which is basically beautiful right. The goal of our internal link building strategy was to distribute link value throughout the site.
So from pages with lots of authority to pages with lower authority, but the ones
that aligned with our goals, and we did that through a balanced combination of
targeted branded and generic keywords as anchor text, and that helped Google to
determine the relationships between the pages that we were leveraging
for each other in this strategy. Internal linking is, as we said before,
highly underused but very powerful SEO strategy. So if you’re aiming to leverage one of the pages on your site or you’re looking to increase the organic appearance of that page, I would probably, first of all, and before anything else, I would go through my site and try to find where else, on what other pages
I can include the linking to that page that I really want to boost up
because that usually yields quick wins. So there’s no doubt about it, backlinks are the most important ranking factor in Google. That’s why people are so obsessed with them. They have like obsessive-compulsive backlink disorder to a point. Often they can’t see the woods for the trees, and this is a big problem because actually, once you build a good site structure, just a very minor amount of links gets amplified like 10 times over. So where you might need to build 20 links,
I just need to build one. You might have to spend $2,000 or $3,000 to do that. I’ve got to spend $150. And that’s where we really see a big difference in link building, but once you have got a good site structure, and good content, then and only then,
are you ready to build links. Any link building before that, it’s just a waste of money and time. You’re not extracting the most amount of value out of your investment. So you really need to pay attention to building that solid foundation that Google loves, first. If you do that, you’re going to be way ahead of all of your competition. The problem is, and also the opportunity, people are so obsessed with link building that with a very small budget, you can dominate them, because they
haven’t taken care of the basics, and like in all the years we’ve been doing client sites, I’ve never had a client that came to us and didn’t have significant problems on-site.
Even though every single one of us go, no my site’s the best in the world!
It’s perfect! You’re not going to find a problem! Oh yeah? Well, we always do.
So that’s where we roll. Once we have the correct foundations in place.
Structure, content, we start building the authority of the site with relevant links. How do we do that?
Again, by keeping things simple. We scraped a huge list of relevant sites, with traffic and with authority, and we just contact them and ask to publish a guest post. Nothing complicated. Sometimes, again, I’ll ask you for a “donation”, which strictly is against Google’s guidelines, but so is link building, so who really cares, but just after five months of the client signing on with us, you can see the effects of our link building here, and how it was growing.
We only built 76 links, well, links from 76 domains, but over the period we were working on the site, it attracted links from 350 domains. So that means that once you put the effort into the content, people want to link to you. You don’t have to spend money on link building, like no one wants to link to a lemon. So don’t build a lemon. One of the things I’ve learned as an SEO blogger is lots of people have problems with building links. It’s often a sticking point for a lot of people. For me, it’s pretty simple and I actually build — some of you may know my favourite link
building strategy of all time is just looking at my competitors backlinks and stealing them. Like, why go to the effort of research and building your own link strategy and all of that,
when you can just steal what’s already working for your competitors, and I built a
spreadsheet that does exactly that, and at the end of the speech,
I’m gonna put a little URL on the screen where you can go and download this spreadsheet, where in about five minutes, you’re going to be able to build, not only a complete keyword strategy, but a complete link building strategy as well. So first, before you run off and do that, let’s just talk about the results a little bit more. We went from 2,700 visitors a month
to 38,000 that’s a 14 times increase in not just traffic but highly targeted,
intent-focused traffic. Like, what would 14 times traffic mean to your business?
Especially in a health niche. Money, right? Yeah and that’s the power of SEO, in a nutshell.
I suck at buying traffic. I know nothing about it. I spoke to a guy yesterday, he sends 8 million emails a day. It blew my mind. That’s the power of SEO. Just by getting some basics right, a
foundation, some content, and a few links, it could seriously change your bottom line
in the future of your business. But as SEOs, we do like the metrics,
and looking at them, don’t we? So throughout the campaign, we were able
to increase the URL and domain authority significantly, which was thanks to the
huge jumps in the number of referring domains and backlinks. Remember again,
we were only responsible for 76 of those over 370 referring domains. Others came naturally because we spent time taking care of on-page, first. So all of that led to over 2,000 keywords
ranking in the top ten, and yeah, in health that’s traffic, that’s money.
Also saw an increase of 569 top #3 rankings. The top #3 is where you want to be, that’s where the traffic really comes in, and oh sorry, we had an extra 569 keywords in the top #3 rankings. We actually had a total of 637 top #3 rankings in the health niche, on a new site
competing against big brands. And we obviously saw keywords with huge search volumes dropping into the #1 position, closely followed with some other big search volume keywords, that are still climbing their way up the rankings. And of course, all of that made for some
really pretty Google search console data, and this is often hidden in case studies,
but this is what you want to see. This shows you really the progress of the
site, and as you can see, the impressions and the clicks are in perfect sync with each other in the growth, which is basically like porn for SEO that you’re looking at right now. So it’s a good job you’re all sat down you know. So as you can see in just 8 months, we were able to achieve a lot and made significant improvement. A lot of key metrics like domain authority and stuff like that, but there was the most important metric we moved. Of course, traffic, and all anyone really cares about is how much more traffic you’re gonna get me, and taking it just north of
38,000 – a 14 times increase in qualified leads, just changes of financials of any business and return on investment is all really anyone cares about. So again, I want you to remember that simple SEO is effective SEO. There’s no need to complicate things. It really does just boil down to these three simple elements, build a solid and healthy website structure that Google loves. Back that up with relevant content that helps people. Don’t just try and
sell to them. Don’t just try and separate them from the money. Connect their
problem to solution. If you can make a bit of money at the same time, great,
but help people more than anything else, and the third step, link building.
Acquire links from relevant websites that can just be as simple as sending
emails to sites in your niche, and asking for a guest post, or it can be, if you built the good content the links just come themselves. It really is that simple. There isn’t any super secret ingredient to SEO, despite what a lot of people try and sell you. It’s not. It’s simple. It’s a three-step process. Build a site in a structure Google loves, build content that helps people, and those those links are going to come in naturally. That is it. So, I’d like to take questions but I was just told backstage we’re not going to do Q&A. So I’m going to be around after this if you’ve got any questions whatsoever. No matter where you are in your SEO journey, where your site
is, please, please, please come and speak to me. I’m here to help. If you don’t grab
me today, reach out, email, Twitter. My entire blog is built on helping people
increase their search traffic, it’s what I’m here to do. If you hit that link
there you’ll find all the resources, everything I spoke about. Links or the
spreadsheets and everything else. So thanks for your time today.
Thanks for coming any questions, grab either of us around. We’ll be here.
Thank you very much. A big round of applause! Thanks guys.