Yep. I Jeff Bernheisel have screwed up.
There… I admitted it.
It happens to the best of us though, right? I mean, we’re only human and I think we should be allowed a little screw up here and there.
You’re probably sitting there wondering what the big screw up is aren’t ya? Well, it’s not really that big of a deal and really it just comes down to having wasted a lot of time. Almost 7 months to be exact. But, I digress…
So, the screw up in this case was actually semi-intentional in nature, in that I was deliberately NOT doing something I normally would have, just to see what would the results would be.
Let me explain:
Normally when I build and manage the SEO of a website for someone (disclaimer: I don’t build websites for just anyone), I have a very defined strategy when it comes to building buzz around the the launch, content creation, social promotion and backlink building. Generally all of these take place within a few weeks of each other. But, for this specific client, time wasn’t really an issue and she was willing to let me use the site for testing purposes.
So, I deliberately held off on building backlinks other than those built from the initial launch (press release) and the social sharing of content (Facebook, Google+ and Twitter). I wanted to see if having good content and a fairly strong social presence were enough to get the site ranking and bring in leads for the client.
Well, it DID start ranking within the first week of setup. However, it was only for the client’s name (being an exact match domain of her name – this was kind of a given) and it was technically not even the right page I wanted to rank (generally I expect the homepage to rank – but a subpage titled “testimonials” was what Google chose to rank).
Here’s the actual “screw up” part… I chose to just wait and let Google sort things out on her own.
Fast forward 6 months… nothing much had changed.
Then towards the end of July I decided enough was enough. The site just wasn’t performing as well as I had hoped on content, organic links, and social buzz alone. It was time to turn up the heat on Google. So, I built some good, relevant links from a couple of my private network of real estate sites, as this client is in a related industry (real estate finance).
That was on July 23rd.
The site disappears from Google!
You’re probably thinking… great Jeff, now you REALLY screwed up!
But never fear… I’ve got this.
It’s just Google trying to figure out WTF is going on and where the site should be placed. We sometimes call this process the “Google Dance” as rankings start bouncing around. I learned recently, the key to the dance is not stepping on your partners toes, and squaring the shoulder.
Oh wait… wrong dance. My bad!
The key to the Google Dance is patience. She can be feisty, but you just gotta let her do her thing for a couple days and then give her a little more of what she wants. So, I waited a few days and built more links.
The result? See the chart below:
Now, I’m a total data nerd, so this kind of shit excites me!
From this chart I can see the date Google found the new links and decided to “investigate” (notice the data points stop on 7/24?) and then the day they decided everything was OK and put it back in place (7/28). Then the “dance” begins. Up, down. Up, down. Then, BOOM the new links kick in and the site skyrockets to the front page (#3) for this particular term. Google also decided to start ranking the home page as the #1 result for this client’s name instead of an unrelated sub-page of the site (though that sub-page is a page full of testimonials and ranks #2 for her name, which is pretty awesome when you think about it).
Now, to be very clear here… these results ARE typical and CAN be reproduced pretty much every time, but the level of success and how quickly it happens really depends on how COMPETITIVE the keyword is. In this example, the keyword is not as competitive as what most of my clients are shooting for (ie: Phoenix Real Estate, Homes for Sale in Phoenix, etc) and the amount of traffic is low, but it’s a keyword that my client truly specializes in, she can convert leads like nobody’s business, and it can potentially bring in thousands of dollars per closed transaction.
Low hanging fruit? Damn straight. But I also got 3 related keywords to do the (exact) (same) (thing) in this process. So, why wouldn’t I focus on these “easy wins”? Sure, she won’t see massive traffic gains like some SEO companies promise, but I bet at the end of the year she’ll be happy she paid my fee.
Speaking of the process… It’s the EXACT same for every keyword. It’s just a matter of being able to scale a network and have enough oomph in the links to give lady Google what she wants. THAT is the single hardest part of SEO these days.
Have a great weekend…