Category Archives: Link Building

I screwed up…

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.

The result?

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 result?

The site disappears from Google!

Uh oh.

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:

Rankings

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…
-Jeff

Could you say no to $10,000?

10kWell, I did…

This month alone I’ve turned down nearly $10k in client work… and I actually feel really good about it.

I’ll tell you why in a second, but first, I want you to understand something…

I’m not telling you this to brag about how I make so much money I can afford to be super picky, take month long vacations and just throw caution to the wind. It’s actually the total opposite! But there’s a good reason I had to say no to several new clients this month.

Actually 3 good reasons:

  1. I’m honest
  2. I’m loyal
  3. I want long term results

Let me explain each of these in a little more detail…

Honesty – I’ve been getting a lot of potential clients coming to me saying they’ve been burned by another SEO that used shady tactics to get short term results… and that they want a guarantee that I can get them their desired results (which is always to rank #1 for a bunch of keywords) within a certain amount of time and they’ll gladly pay my fees.

I’m very honest and up front with these people in that I (even at my level of SEO awesomeness) can NEVER make a guarantee like that. There are just too many variables (one of which is cleaning up someone else’s mess) that can change at any given time and I think any SEO that’s worth a damn would say the same thing.

Of course a lot of the time I DO see the desired results, but I just can’t make that guarantee. I’d rather tell someone this knowing they won’t do business with me than take a risk, and have to resort to some of the old school shady tactics I’ve used in the past to get the results they want (and yes, these shady tactics DO still work – but usually very short term).

Loyalty – One of the choices I made early on was that I wouldn’t take on clients competing in the same geographic area. This isn’t really something I advertise (though now you know) but more of something I do to avoid internal conflict and any potential issues that could arise from it. Truth is, you’d never actually know, as I’m pretty secretive with my clients (which presents a whole ‘nother problem in itself when people ask for client references) but that’s just a choice I make and I hope my clients appreciate that.

So this month I’ve had to turn down a local client because I’m already working with someone else in this area AND someone that thought the fact that I wouldn’t reveal my current list of clients was “borderline deceptive”. If being loyal and protective of my clients is “deceptive” in some way… then color me guilty I guess.

Oh, by the way… if you’re a client, feeling generous and don’t mind people knowing we’ve worked together, feel free to leave me a recommendation on my LinkedIn profile. It’s greatly appreciated. :)

Long term results – I’ve done some “grey hat” manipulative SEO in the past. Yep, I’ve spammed the shit out of websites to get to the #1 spot for some ultra competitive terms. It still works too. But it’s not a good long term strategy and I literally REFUSE to do it to client sites (regardless of some rumors apparently floating around).

Sure, I still test some of these methods on my own personal sites, because I like to always have a finger on the pulse of what works and what doesn’t. But going back to the honesty thing above… I’d rather turn someone down knowing that they have unreasonable expectations instead of taking their money, using a shady tactic to get the result in the desired time frame and then having their site crash and burn as soon as I stop spamming it to death (or Google slaps it into oblivion, which is WAY more likely).

I like to sleep at night know that the people I help are going to have long term success.

So here’s the deal…

There are a lot of SEO companies out there that are more than willing to give you unreasonable expectations and fill you up with promises they most likely can’t fulfill without “bending the rules” a little. But, if you want to work with someone that knows how to bend the rules, but refuses to do so because they know it’s not the best thing for YOU as a client… you know where to find me.

Oh, you don’t know where to find me? Well, here’s the page: Hire Jeff

Surprise! Links are still the best method to improve website rankings

Links

Tops SEO news this week:

Search Engine Land article shows results from a survey of hundreds of SEOs finds that they still feel links are the most important factor for ranking a website, but content and authorship factors will be more important in the future.  Some interesting stuff here.

Matt Cutts verifies the above in an interview saying that links are still the best way to get rankings. Of course, in his own vague sort of skirting the question kind of way.

Moz releases a great info-graphic showing the results of a survey on the “challenges of link building in 2013″. It has definitely gotten harder to acquire good links, but luckily I’m finding you don’t need nearly as many as you used to in order to improve rankings. So… that’s good I suppose.

Shifting gears a little, we all know that keeping up with all of the required “social tags” for your website to display correct data across the various social media platforms can be a real pain in the ass.

Facebook and LinkedIn rely on the Open Graph protocol, Twitter offers Twitter Card meta tags, and Google+ would like you to use semantic microdata markup. So, it’s basically still kind of the wild west out there in terms of a standard for social markup.

But now, there’s a tool for that thanks to the team at KnowEm.

Speaking of social media news… you can now embed Instagram pics and vidz into other platforms (like a WordPress website) complete with attribution back to your Instagram page. A great way to build up your Instagram following via links from other mediums.

And finally, I’m launching a pilot program offering a FREE SEO strategy session where I’ll give as many tips as possible (in a 30 minute session) to help tune up your website. Then of course you’ll think I’m amazing and want to hire me.

SEO Q+A with Jeff

I’ve never been a big video guy, but I recently decided it was time to start injecting a little more personality into my content. So, here’s my first stab at video in over 2 years:

What other topics would you like to see me do a more in-depth video on? Leave ‘em in the comments below and I’ll make it happen.

G+ “Interactive Posts” For Your Real Estate Website

Here’s the lowdown on Google’s “Interactive Posts” and how I think they can be used to help with SEO for your real estate website.

Technically it’s been a few months since Google (quietly) released the ability to create what they’re calling “interactive posts” for use inside Google+ and it seems nobody in the real estate space really noticed. Actually, it seems like not that many people noticed, period.

But, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably have noticed a lot more activity revolving around Google’s social platform. People defecting from Facebook looking for something fresh, and those of us that have realized there are plenty more SEO benefits than just having a pretty little picture next to your link on the search results pages when you setup Google “authorship” on your website.

An example interactive post featuring a real estate listing

Introducing: Google’s “Interactive Posts”

The gist of creating an interactive post is that it allows you to embed a clickable Call to Action button directly in your post on G+. Check out the screenshot of my test post to the right. Notice the little “learn more” button below the post? Cool huh?

It’s pretty easy to setup, and in fact there are now a couple WordPress plugins (I use this one) that make it even easier for those of us running a WP website.

More About CTA’s

When you configure your interactive post you get to choose the Call to Action. For now, you can choose from a limited (yet fairly extensive) list of Call to Action “labels”.Google Interactive Post Generator

Unfortunately at this time you cannot create your own custom CTA because Google wants to be able to translate them into the native language of every Google+ user who views it. Pretty cool if you’re into international SEO (hello luxury real estate agents!!).

Fortunately, there are a ton of CTA “label” options to chose from. Everything from RSVP’ing or adding an event to a user’s calendar to subscribing to a newsletter. The full list of CTA labels can be found here.

What This Means for Us in the Real Estate World

So, how exactly can this be used for those of us in the real estate industry? Well, one very quick use case I instantly thought of was that shown in my example in the first image above. Using it as a tool to showcase your listings while driving more traffic and creating a nice juicy backlink directly to your conversion page, which for most will be the listing detail page of your IDX platform.

Now, I’ve been having the same discussion with several of my monthly SEO clients about how it’s getting increasingly harder to beat out the large National portal sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com when it comes to search results for key terms like “Calgary Real Estate” all the way down to individual listings (address and MLS# searches). The truth is, with the right tactics in place, the large portals CAN be beat. You just have to have a little dedication and patience (and a good SEO guy helps too).

That, my friends, is Google+  Interactive Posts in a nutshell.  Are we connected on Google Plus? If so, I’d love to see some of the interactive posts you create. If not, what are you waiting for? Let’s get connected!