Mindset, plan, track and build SEO

Sometimes its best not to compete but change a little. If someone is doing something better than you, doesn’t mean you still have to work the same way.  They may be beating you at your own game, but you don’t have to play the same game.  When you see that happening look for the advantage in the situation and start plying your game but with little differences.  

SEO is really about having a target and being able to play slightly different games to win.  There are core SEO core topics, methodologies, but what we really want is to be on the first page of search engines, and to do that we have to look at the competition.  We can’t play the same game as they are to get on the first page.  Just need to play a little differently while still relying on our core understanding of SEO. 

In situations like this it’s very important to track progress.  Just like in marketing, we have to information feedback on what is happening.  Track every SEO campaign, document everything.  Ha, as a developer, something said around the dev group, “document everything”.  We’ve all said it but never really did it that well. When it comes to SEO, historical data is so much more important than documenting code.

Keep detailed information on all SEO progress and if you can train a LLM based on your results.

The reason why SEO documentation is so important is because success is a range of outcomes. To get into that range you have to make a range of decisions, and not every decision you’re going to make is correct, is the right one, but you have to make enough good decisions to get into the range. You also have to be confident that even if you made the decision incorrectly, you know that it was the right decision. You have to make enough of those good decisions so that at the end you’ve made enough correct decisions to be within that range of success.

So why am I an SEO expert? It could be because I think very analytically. It could be because run tests on Google’s algorithm. But I don’t think any of that actually makes me an expert. What makes me an expert is that I am right more than 70% of the time – that’s the percentage, that’s the number that makes me an expert. In my experience, most SEO is right about 50% of the time. Excuse me, good SEO, you know, and that’s that’s one out of two. You launch two pages and one does what you think it should do – that, good SEO and that’s what that is. But if you think about it, that’s a coin flip. You could have made every other decision the other way and have been just as successful. Most SEO is probably in that 30 to 40% range – that’s one out of three. You launch three pages and one works and it’s easy to see why people get upset with SEO, where they get frustrated, why they say SEO is dead or why you can’t learn anything about Google’s algorithm, because for them SEO is dead. There is nothing to learn because if you’re launching three pages and only one works, that’s not great – that’s such a low hit rate that you will not be successful. You cannot run successful campaigns at that. And you know for you SEO is actually dead.

So what we’re going to talk about here is this idea that you need to understand that SEO is a game of probability. You’re not going to get it right every time and that’s true in life, that’s true in every business situation – you’re not going to get it right every time. But you need to get it right at 70% or above and that can push you into the expert range. And when you do that, you know that if you continue to do those things you will continue to be successful. And in SEO you will have sustained successful campaigns – not everything will work perfectly, but if you can make enough good decisions repeatedly you can get in that range where you know you’re going to be right more times than not, you’re going to be successful more times than not. What we’re going to talk about today is really basically how to become that expert, how to get into that area where you’re ranking for more keywords and you will get into that expert range at 70% plus. And what it really comes down to is the mindset, casting a wide net and decreasing volatility.

Mindset first and foremost, remove the burden of success. You will fail – that is the one certainty in life, that is the one certainty in SEO. You will fail. You will not be right 100% of the time. So just let that go. But the thing is everyone’s failed. All the best – think of your favorite entrepreneur, your favorite business person, your favorite SEO – they all have failed. And in doing so you join their company. But in order to understand though, if you’re successful you do need to track your success. And I don’t mean KPIs. What I’m talking about is tracking your decision making, the decisions that you’ve made for a certain campaign.

You make predictions as to what will happen when you launch a page and if you don’t, you should. When you launch a page for whatever you’re doing for any kind of keyword, you should predict when it’s going to get impressions, when perhaps how many clicks it’s going to get, what it’s going to top out in terms of rank, how many keywords it’s going to rank for. Once you start making those predictions then you can see if you’re actually successful, then you can see if what you’ve done actually works. And it’ll allow you to have more sustained successful campaigns.

Here’s an example.  We have about 22 pages here that we launched in a CBD space. The white means they hit – they start getting impressions when we thought they would. The blue means they were faster than we thought. And the red means that they missed. You can see within these 22 pages I had two straight misses – they just didn’t do what they were supposed to do at all. But out of that, that’s about a 90% hit rate. What that means is that I know that if I repeat what I did, I should have a very high rate of success. And if I continue to do that over and over and over I’m going to continue with sustained success for this site and for this campaign. And at 90% then you know that’s going to be extremely successful, this is going to be an extremely successful site. And that’s what you do. But if you’re not tracking, you’re not making those predictions that will happen and you’re not tracking them beyond the normal KPIs, you’ll never know if you’re actually being successful.

It actually comes down to your routine – are you doing repeatable things? A lot of SEOs get stuck in the idea of doing, you know, chasing shiny objects, you know, doing it all… But you don’t have a set plan of what you’re doing. What it comes down to is having a three-month plan and then a six-month plan. You should have this written down. If you don’t have things written down as to what you’re doing for the next three months when you get home write down a plan – that should be the first thing you do. Make sure that you have a plan for the next three months because once you have that plan, that means you can evaluate what you did. And in that evaluation, you can decide, if this didn’t really work so we can take that out. And then you can plug in that shiny thing because you know where it’s going to go. But once you’ve done your three-month plan or your six month plan in about maybe three or four iterations and you’ve taken those things out that you know didn’t work because you’ve been tracking your success and you put in things that do work, by the time you’ve done about three times you’re gonna have a very successful three-month plan. So that you know that your outcome likelihood is going to be very successful.

Casting a wide net – you know the term “aim small, miss small.” This is a really good term if you are a golfer or an archer or a pistol shooter. But in SEO it’s a miserable idea. In SEO we need to aim wide to miss small. We need to give ourselves the best opportunity for success and that means casting as wide as we possibly can. What that means practically is creating pages that have the opportunity to rank for more keywords. You can’t get stuck on the idea of one keyword. You must be ranking pages that have the opportunity to rank for hundreds if not thousands of keywords. So we’re going to walk through it.

Step one, don’t overthink it. You’ve got your primary keyword – that’s the keyword that you like, that’s the keyword that your competitors like. It’s probably the most difficult. All right, you’re going to put that in the top four places to put a keyword, and that’s in your title tag, your H1 and paragraph tags, and in the URL. Don’t overthink it. People really want to out-clever Google for some reason – it’s very annoying and it’s not sustainable, it’s not successful. Put your target keyword in those four places and the dirty secret of SEO is that if you’ve done that, you’ve probably done 60% of SEO right there. Then from there, the rest is minutia, but you must do those four things.

Now one quick note – if you have a page that has existed for some time, you’ve got some traction, and you realize your keyword isn’t in the URL, don’t change the URL because then you’re giving Google a new page. But this is for brand new pages or pages that aren’t ranking well right now and kind of going forward. Make sure you’re getting your target keyword within your URL in addition to those other places. Of course.

Step two, choose your lead H2. Well written pages are broken up into sections. Those sections have titles. Those titles should be H2s. So again, don’t overthink it. The sections are H2s. Choose your lead H2. Choose the one that’s going to push the page in the direction that you need to go. What I like to do is I like to use related searches for this. So I’m going to search for my primary keyword. I’m going to scroll to the bottom. I’m going to look at those related searches and I’m going to find the one that I like the most. I’m going to click on that – that’s going to give me another search. I’m going to scroll to the bottom – that’s going to give me another set of related searches. And I have two sets.  I’ve got my original set of related searches and that new set. And between those two sets, I’m going to find matches. All right, and then those matches are going to become the first sections of my page.

For an example. Let’s say my target keyword here is international money transfer – that’s my main keyword, that’s my primary target for this particular service. I’m gonna search for that, go to the bottom, and here are my related searches. For this example, let’s say I like “cheapest international money transfer.” Again you can choose this for a variety of reasons – that has the most search volume, it has the fewest competitors, and it takes the page in the direction you want to go. It doesn’t matter, but let’s say for this example I like “cheapest international money transfer.” I’m going to click on that, and search for that keyword next. That gives me another set of related searches. Now I’ve got two sets between them. Then what I’m going to do is I’m going to find matches and in this case, we have four matches – we have “money transfer organizations,” “best international money transfer,” “transfer app,” and “doing it online.” That’s the next four sections on my site. And what I’ve done is I’ve allowed Google to show me what my sections should be.

Why is that important? It’s because of this thing called centerpiece annotation. Several months ago Google announced centerpiece annotation. Google first tries to decide what is this page about. What is this page about? And that’s in this case “international money transfer.” The next thing that they do is to see if all the sections are related. And if they are, all the sections get full credit. If Google thinks that they aren’t related, it will devalue those sections and you will rank for fewer keywords.

Now how do you know if Google thinks sections are related or not? Wait and let Google show you. What we’ve just done is Google has shown us – these things are connected. Google has done that for us and done all the legwork for us. So that we know if we write those sections, we will satisfy centerpiece annotation and the best part is we didn’t need a fancy tool or deep SEO knowledge. Google simply showed us – the secret is hiding in plain sight. Don’t overthink these things, don’t go nuts. Just look at what Google is showing you and then follow that game plan that Google can give you and you write pages that are semantically related, that can rank for more keywords.

Next, fill in the searches. So obviously those are the first sections – what should go inside those sections? Let Google show you again. We’re going to use the related searches again. And in this example, let’s say my next section is “the best way to transfer internationally” – that was one of my sections. I’m going to do that related search, and scroll down. Notice these bold terms that go in here – Google is expecting to see those terms or those types of terms in there. I can talk about how to do it quickly, I can talk about amounts, so India, I can talk about locations, PayPal, I can talk about platforms – those are the types of terms that Google’s expecting to see.  Then you can guarantee that when you write those sections and you fill them in, you’re giving Google what it’s expecting to see. And those sections will satisfy centerpiece annotation and you can rank for more keywords.

Let’s find two questions. The “People also ask” is the right thing to do. Find two of those that you like. If you don’t have a “People also ask,” turn your primary keyword into a question – just put who, what, when, where, and why in front of your target keyword, and “People also ask” will come up. Pick two of those, put them in just as they are, answer them, and then you’ve got two more fantastic sections. And it gives us the opportunity to win those sections, those “People also ask” within the search.

Next, look at SERP (Google Search Engine Results Page) features – and those are the things that are inside your particular SERP for your target keyword. It’s often best to find a list or a table. Start clicking around on the related searches and look at the featured snippets. And you’ll probably find some lists or some tables, that’s great! Grab one, two is better. Put them on the page. Put them in proper HTML so you can win the featured snippet. But also look at what’s in your particular keyword SERP – there might be an image carousel. So then start clicking around, seeing where those are coming from. Maybe you need to get a particular image on there. There might be another feature – check out what’s there. We want to try to get in all those places. We want to take all those places. See what you can get into. But at a minimum, try to find a list or a table and get that on your page.

Last, admire your work. You know you have a beautiful page, but not only that, you have a page that has the best chance to rank for the greatest number of things. We can rank for a primary keyword, we can rank for those related searches which are secondary keywords. We can rank for terms within those sections because we know that they’re related to what Google wants. We can rank for the “People also ask.” We can rank for featured snippets. We can get our lists in there. There are so many things now that we can rank for. We’re not just looking at that one particular keyword, but we’re casting as wide a net as we can. This page is going to rank for hundreds or thousands of terms. And the best part is, even if it doesn’t rank for that primary keyword, that’s okay. Often pages don’t, especially if you’re going up against huge, huge sites and you’re just a smaller site. But those other sections can rank for a lot and can be very successful and give you very successful pages.

Decrease volatility.

Nobody likes Google updates, I’m pretty sure 😊. But what we need to do is decrease volatility.  We need to decrease are volatility to the whims of Google. We don’t want to be susceptible to updates. We don’t want to be susceptible to changes in Google. And to do that we need to become an authority. And that doesn’t mean becoming an expert – that’s a different concept. But you need to become an authority. What that means is topical coverage, are you answering all the questions, are you covering all the topics that exist? And that’s really huge right now. When you think about a lot of semantic SEO and clustering and SEO, a lot of people are talking about these concepts of coverage and topical coverage is key. If you answer all the questions, you have the best chance to become an authority. Google will like your site more and in doing so, you’re also creating more content. And sites that create more content will decrease that volatility.

What I like to do is I like to create smaller pages that rank for specific keywords. I took a ton of time on that target keyword page. I spent a lot of time kind of filling that one out and getting all the sections for that. Really what I’m looking for are other terms that I’m going to use to rank for longer tail keywords, those longer phrase keywords within the site that are kind of within the neighborhood of that target page. I’m going to use these as supporting pages. I’m going to choose somewhere between five and seven of these terms. I’m going to link them together and I’m going to link them up to a target page to support it.

For the content, if you’re looking for what can you do, the related searches are also another good idea. Those terms that didn’t quite fit on your target page, are excellent. That’s a good way to go about it. You can take those other terms that didn’t quite fit on that target page and write those out. If you click out a few times you can get probably 30 to 50 of those. Also, those “People also ask”, they probably didn’t quite fit. Those are excellent as well. Now you’ve got a content plan of 50 different terms. That’s going to take you several months and that’s going to create several groups of that five to seven. And now you’ve got a pretty comprehensive content plan. And again, no special tools!

Google is and again no special tools. Google is showing you what you need. You’re just writing down what’s there and then you answer those questions, you fill out that information, maybe 500 words per page and you’re good to go.

Zero search volume is your friend. Don’t worry if you put in the “People also ask” and it comes back with zero search volume. It’s impossible for it to have a zero search volume because somebody searched for it, that’s helicopter related, don’t worry about this. Even if it’s zero search volume, that’s okay because we want to rank for it. Sites that rank for more keywords do better. Let’s say you and I had equal sized sites. The pages are exactly the same, our link profiles are exact same, we have all the same backlinks, and our social this or any other factors are exactly the same. But your site ranks for 20,000 keywords, my site ranks for 2,000 keywords. If we both launched an identical page at the same time, your page will outrank. And the reason is that sites that rank for more keywords do better. It’s a sign of authority, your site has more authority than mine because you rank for more keywords. Go after those zero search volume terms. Accumulate as many of those as you can, because the more keywords you rank for, the better.

The thing here is that you’re going to be less reliant on boosts. And by boosts, I mean a backlink. That’s the most obvious boost.  Sites that do this, rank for more keywords, and need fewer backlinks to rank for more target terms. You’re passing more internal juice between your pages and up to your target pages, so you don’t need as many boosts. You don’t need as many backlinks. But here’s another dirty secret, it’s nice to do this, can do more backlinks and be more successful. The more you create this type of content, you create a moat of protection around your site and you can do more boosts, you can do more backlinks if you like.

So now we want to talk about how to interlink these things, this is extremely important. We’re not just putting these up just for the sake of putting them up, we’re putting these things up and we’re actually going to interlink them together. And this is the basic structure. We’ve got our supporting pages, remember those are just the single long tail phrase kind of terms. I’m going to link them just like this: A to B, B to A, to C, C to B, and then they’re all going to link to a target page. If you can get one link from the target page to the supporting pages, that’ll help you with indexing. Not mission critical, but it’s good to do, we’re going to do this kind of structure. This is the basic setup. But I know people are like, “Hey, I really like to do advanced interlinking.” And that’s, totally fine.

Here’s an advanced interlinking concept: You can see our target page, we’ve got three informational kind of link magnets, and we’ve got compound, those are supporting pages within our agencies, what we call them. But what you’ll notice is all I’m doing is I’m repeating that basic block. I’ve got those three and they point up, and I’ve got five and they point in. I’m just repeating that basic building block over and over and over again to create a very successful advanced interlinking structure.

Here’s another one, this is a top and bottom silo. This is very effective in ecommerce kind of situations. But again, I’ve got some supporting pages, they link up to my target page, and I’ve got these compound pages. They link down, again, but you’ll notice they are just the basic building block, just one put on top and one put on the bottom, but otherwise, it’s all there is. If you can master this, and I know it looks simple, and then people try to do it and it becomes not simple anymore, but if you can master this, that’s great.

One question I always get on the links. I don’t care about navigation menus, I don’t care about sidebars, I don’t care about footers. That’s not what we’re talking about here. This is links within the body, this is a URL structure, and this isn’t a parent-child situation, this is just links within the body. These pages can sit anywhere on the site, they can be pages, they can be posts, they can be whatever you have. It doesn’t matter, they can all be in different locations, in different categories, that doesn’t matter. This is a relationship that is created by links within the body. In doing so, you create these little silos. If you master this, in these links within the body, then you can do very advanced interlinking. These will all pass really, really good juice to the pages that you need to pass to.

The probability of success, remember SEO is a game of probability, and what we need to do is put ourselves in the best possible position for success. What that comes down to is ranking for more keywords, the more we can rank for, the better, the more success we will have. You won’t be right every time, but you’ll be right more times than not. And when it comes down to our mindset, track your success, make predictions, and also don’t worry about being perfect.

Second, cast a wide net. Build pages that are semantically related and have the opportunity to rank for the most amount of keywords and the most amount of certain features. Then lastly, decrease volatility. Create supporting pages. Those supporting pages will raise the authority of your site because you will start to rank for more keywords. You’re going to pass juice between those pages. You’re going to pass juice up to your target pages. In doing so, you’re going to decrease your reliance on boosts. In doing so, you’re going to become less susceptible to Google updates.

This works on a new site or an already established one.  There’s, there’s no special requirement to be an SEO and I’m a pioneer in SEO testing. And the only qualification that I had was I just decided to go and do it. This is one of those rare moments in history where you can be the best at something, you can actually write your name into the history books and invent something. This isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is a once-in-three-lifetimes opportunity. And all it takes is for you to be the one to go and do it.  So today I encourage you to go and do it.

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