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SEO Guide for 2017: Building and ranking sites

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by davids355, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. davids355

    davids355 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Intro

    I wrote a similar guide here on BHW last year, or maybe the year before. I feel like I have learned quite a bit more since then and seeing as everyone is a little concerned about the state of SEO right now, I thought it would be a good time to rewrite my guide and hopefully to encourage some people that SEO is still really going strong and that it’s actually a great time to jump in.

    FACT: SEO is Hard

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    One thing for sure when it comes to SEO, and this is now more relevant than ever, is this – IT IS HARD WORK. Not even because Google are trying to stop us from doing what we do but more so because there are so many talented people doing SEO already. Also, because there is so much money to be made from doing SEO and the people that realise this are investing everything they to make their projects work.

    The result? If you want to get into SEO right now you must be in it for the long haul and you have to be prepared to give it absolutely everything.

    Take your time, plan your project out first

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    The first thing you need to do is create a solid plan. This means picking a niche, deciding what type of site you are going to build, how you are going to build it, what keywords you are going to target and how you are going to monetize.

    A great concept to think about before you start your project is something called the 10x rule – thanks to @hacko for your recent post about this - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/t...ason-you-fail-at-im-and-possibly-life.954097/. Anyway, the concept states that any project you think about starting is probably going to take around 10 times as much effort as what you initially thought it would take. Leading on from that, it’s likely that you are going to need to work 10 times as hard, 10 times as long and invest 10 times as much as you originally planned.

    Keeping this in mind, you should work 10 times as hard on every stage of your project – picking a nice? Don’t just pick one in five minutes, think seriously about the niche, research the competition, think about what type of content you can produce for it and spend the time to make sure it’s going to be a profitable niche. Doing keyword research? Don’t just research 20 main keywords and a couple of longtails for each, thinking you will do more once the site is making money, do ALL of the keyword research to begin with – find all of the keywords you are going to target, find 10-20 LSI and related keywords for each primary keyword, research the competition that are currently ranking for each keyword and even perhaps start preparing some notes on each keyword group – what will it take to produce great content for that group of keywords, what resources can you pass on to your writers to make sure they produce a comprehensive article?


    Its all about the detail

    In addition to the 10x rule, it is also a great idea to plan everything out in as much detail as possible – like I mentioned above, don’t just think to yourself that you can plan as you go, plan every aspect of the project out to begin with so that when it comes to doing the work you are literally following a set plan all the way. In my experience, I found this works really well for a few reasons –

    · From start to finish you are constantly progressing your project until you reach the end goal – you don’t run out of ideas half way through trying to establish your site because you are following a long-term plan.

    · You avoid the tendency to rush things – for example, its sometimes easy to get impatient and start building a load of PBN links because you want to see your keywords ranking as quick as possible, but this can be detrimental to your site in the long term. By having a plan in place for your link-building you can ensure that the link velocity starts off slow and builds up steadily over time.

    · When you are building backlinks, if you have a plan in place its easier to keep track of important things like anchor text distribution, distributing links throughout your site and keyword targeting.

    Picking your niche

    The first thing to do is to pick a niche that you want to operate in. You can brain storm with loads of different ideas and niches to find the one that you want to be in, or you can use a service provider from black hat world who will provide you with a niche and keywords. Either way you want to be involved in this process and you want to make sure you are in a niche, and using keywords, that you can rank for.

    The two biggest problems in my experience with picking a niche are as follows -

    · Don’t be too set on finding a niche that you like – I know everyone says it – find a niche that you are passionate about and then you can pump out content all day long. Sure there is some truth in this, but at the same time you need to let the research lead you into a profitable niche. SEO and IM niche is a great example here – everyone here has a passion for this and so it’s a great idea to start an SEO website, but the competition will be so great that it’s going to be hard to rank the site for popular terms and also its going to be hard producing content that has a real benefit to visitors – because there is so much great content already available. Sometimes it’s better to find a random niche, sure it’s got to be something you can get somewhat enthusiastic about, but more importantly it should be something where there is perhaps not as much great content already available and thus a niche that you can add value to.

    · Don’t pick too broad a niche – It’s a problem I have made so many times, and I have seen lots of other people making the same mistake. Its so easy to think of a good idea, and then to think BIG. For example, you want to start a site about cars (Because you love cars) so you start thinking – right I can put together a big authority on cars – the best site on the internet – I will have a category for every make of car, I will have a section for car parts, I will have a section for car care… Fuck it, Ill have a section dedicated to trucks as well, because trucks are cool. Before you know it, you are rewriting Wikipedia and the truth is you have an impossible task – to rank your website fully would probably take you a lifetime. If you think about it, the bigger you make the site the more you are diluting any effort you put in. So here is where the term micro niche site comes into play – and you should really take note of what this term means – the smaller the site, and the more specific the niche, the better. If you want to build a site about cars, build it about a particular model of car – that way you have a really small topic and you can cover it in such a way that you become an authority on that topic. Can you be an authority on “cars”? No. Can you be an authority on the 1969 automatic VW? Yes, probably.

    As an example let’s say that we pick Coffee Makers as our niche but so that we don’t make the site too broad, we might settle on one sub-topic in that niche - single cup coffee makers.

    Once you have a niche idea then you need to do a little bit of research on keywords – if you paid for a keyword research service then you have these keywords already – so you can proceed to the next step. Otherwise you can find your keywords yourself. To get keywords for free you can just plug your chosen niche into Google and then take the first ten results for each seed keyword – use a selection of terms related to your niche that you think people might be searching for – then you can look over the sites and pull out all of the terms and phrases that are mentioned on those websites.

    There are loads of free tools out there as well, that will help you to find keywords relating to your niche. For example http://www.keyword.io will give you hundreds of keyword ideas when you type in your seed keyword or phrase.

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    With this list, stick it into Google keyword planner and you will get a big list of keywords and phrases in return – all with search volume, CPC etc. If you have active campaigns running in adwords then you can get detailed data from this tool, if not you will only get rough estimates but once again there are paid tools out there, such as Semrush that will give you more accurate information.

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    If you have access to ahrefs then its even easier – you can put in the list of competitors that you find in your niche, and ahrefs will give you a list of keywords and phrases that each competitor is ranking for – this is a cool way of finding profitable keywords to target. And the best part is this – if you find the sites that are medium in size (Not the big brands but other niche or independent sites then you know straight away that you can rank for these terms – because you are competing on these other relatively small sites). Even if you don’t have access to ahrefs you can order a report from somewhere like fiverr.com for (As the name implies) 5 bucks.

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    Think about how you are going to make money

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    This is important. I have added this in here because you should be thinking about this as you move from thinking about your niche to finding lucrative keywords. I have made the mistake many times in the past of being dead set on a niche, jumping in to that niche and then struggling to find any way to monetise the site.

    So it is important to look at the CPC for your keywords and not just the search volume, it’s also important to think about whether there are any affiliate programs that have products relevant to your target audience and its important as well to think about the keywords you choose and what the user intent is going to be behind those keywords – are they even looking to buy something, or are they just looking for free information?

    As well as the obvious reasons behind this (To make sure there is money to be made) the other important point is this – finding out how much money there is to be made in a niche is often a good indicator of how hard it’s going to be, or how much effort you are going to have to put in, when it comes to ranking your site.

    Often, I see people here saying for example that they have found a keyword with $10 CPC and 50k searches a month, and they are asking if someone can guarantee page 1 ranking for $100 or something. The truth is that with a keyword like that where there is serious money to be made, there are going to be lots of people trying to rank for it and if you are serious about ranking a keyword like that then you need to be prepared to invest a lot more than $100 to do so.

    Keyword research and competition analysis

    Once you have a handful of keywords you need to look seriously at the competition for those keywords. There are plenty of tools out there that will give you some data on the competition for any given keywords, some examples are –

    Keyword finder - https://kwfinder.com/

    Keyword revealer - https://www.keywordrevealer.com/

    keyword tool - http://keywordtool.io/

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    These tools are a really good idea because they will save you a lot of time and help you to automate the keyword research stage to an extent. Having said that, you MUST also do manual research to couple with the results from any of these tools.

    Manual research is exactly what it sounds like – plug each keyword into Google, look at the top ten results and analyse them in every way.

    There are some plugins for chrome that can help with this task and provide you some more information for each site, for example SEOQuake.

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    Some of the things you should be looking at include –

    · How much content do the sites have on the ranking page

    · How old are the sites?

    · What metrics do the sites have in terms of DA/PA/TF/CF – you can check these metrics with tools such as majestic.com, Moz.com and various others. Majestic gives some basic information via their free account and you can easily find free tools online that will give you PA/DA information.

    · How many backlinks, and more importantly how many referring domains do the sites have to their root and also to the ranking page? You will likely need to build a comparable backlink profile in order to compete with these sites, is that achievable?

    · What are the quality of links pointing to these ranking pages? They might have 10,000 referring domains but if they are all spammy web 2.0 properties then you can probably beat that with a much lower number of high quality links

    · What type of sites are ranking on page 1? This is where you really need to understand the niche you are entering – during this stage you should build up a profile of the competition in your niche – who are the giants within the niche, who are the independent sites, who are the niche authorities? Once you have this information you should think about what sites are ranking for each keyword – if page one is filled with giant retailers and sites like Wikipedia for example then its going to be very hard to rank regardless of what any tools might say. If on the other hand you see a lot of other niche sites ranking on page one, then you know that its not going to be that hard

    · What type of content is ranking for each keyword? This is important because it gives you an idea of what you need to produce in order to rank – for example if all of the sites on page one are ecommerce and you are trying to rank an informational site then you might struggle. So you should note this down with each keyword that you have, so you know what your target page needs to look like when you start building out the site

    Don’t underestimate how long this stage will take, and don’t rush it. The work you do here is like building the foundations of a house; it is going to underpin everything else you do further down the line.

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    I want someone to do the keyword research for me

    If you don’t feel confident doing the keyword research yourself then there are plenty of providers on BHW that will do it for you. But if you go down this route, make sure you still understand what you need from your niche and your keywords because even if you outsource this part of your project, you are the one who has to rank the site for those keywords.

    Here are some providers that I recommend:

    @nihalsad - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/e...rank-illuminati-keywords-free-samples.741220/

    @SEOSPERM - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/p...r-get-quality-keyword-at-insane-price.740775/

    @keywordspot - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/e...ds-by-keyword-spot-profitable-earning.768831/

    @Andres1986 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/k...se-and-more-easy-keywords-ready-to-go.466803/


    Further reading: keyword research

    https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/hekkes-keyword-research-guide-examples-included.839717/

    https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/the-absolute-newbies-guide-to-keyword-research.374487/


    Turning your keyword research into a site plan

    Once you have settled on a niche and you are happy that you have something that you can rank for then you need to expand your list of keywords and put them into keyword groups.

    Once again, think about how wide the niche is that you are going to target – the more targeted it is, the better. But once you have decided on the size of the niche you are targeting, you want to make sure you have a comprehensive list of keywords that cover every aspect of the niche. Think about the size of the site you are going to build and have enough keywords to complete your site – even if you think its going to take 6 months for you to write the content to cover all of those keywords.

    Once you have your final list of keywords, group them by relevance – Google knows that some different keywords and phrases mean the same thing, they know what the user is looking for when they type in any keyword. So, you should be thinking about this as well – about the users intent when searching for any particular keyword.

    For example, if you are targeting two similar keywords like blue cars and blue automobiles, you don’t want to create two separate articles for these keywords because the user intent when searching for either one of those keywords is going to be identical – both users are looking for the same information.

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    This leads on to the next consideration – you need to make sure that you are producing authoritative content for each one of your keyword groups. Google is going to assess every page in order to understand how authoritative it is for its target keywords and rank it accordingly. After all, Google want to present the user with the most useful content on the topic they are searching for – how do they determine that quality score? Just think of it like this – Google knows about every topic that users are searching for, they can see how users modify their searches when they don’t find what they want, they know EVERY SINGLE word that has been published online about any given topic, they know how long people stay on one page compared to another, they know everything. So they know whether or not you are covering a topic in detail.

    To make your content work you need to know everything about each keyword group and make sure you are covering it in your content. This means really researching each keyword in as much detail as possible – look at all of the other ranking sites and note down the key phrases that are used in each one of those sites. Doing this should result in a big list of keywords in each group – primary keywords, longtail variations, related terms and so on. Remember you are not looking just for LSI terms WITH TRAFFIC at this point, you are looking for every important term that directly relates to each keyword that you are planning to rank. For example, if your niche is Egypt and you neglect to mention anything about pyramids do you think your content is going to rank well? No. Because Google will know that you are not an authority on that topic – because you have missed out such a vital piece of information on Egypt. Apply that to your own niche and make sure that your content is authoritative – the work that you do here can be passed directly on to your writer giving them a list of topics and keywords that they must include in the content they produce for you – it also serves as a metric to judge the content once it is delivered – if they don’t talk about these key terms and phrases then you know they have done little to no research and the content isn’t up to scratch.

    There is a great tool made by Congitive SEO that helps you to find the most relevant keywords that relate to your target phrase, you can see a shot of this tool in action below.

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    Building the site

    Once you have everything planned, it’s time to build the site. I use WordPress for most of my sites seeing as it’s very easy to set up a decent site and it has loads of plugins that you can use for SEO, monetisation and so on.

    There are a few key points to think about when building your site –

    · You want the site to look nice – this will help later with conversion rates and it will make people more likely to share your content and link to your site.

    · You want the site to be fast – don’t make the build too clunky, don’t use any plugins that you don’t need and get some decent hosting.

    · You want the site to be well optimized from the outset so when looking at themes and / or building the site think about the structure of the site, tidiness of the code and ensure that you have title tags, heading tags and so on that you can easily manipulate once you start adding content.

    When I am building a site, I will either use a free theme from the WordPress repository (If I am on a low budget) or I will use a premium theme from somewhere like Theme Forest. Using a theme forest theme is great because it allows you to set up a professional and visually appealing site in a couple of hours or less and when you consider that the most expensive themes are only around $80 this makes for a very cheap website that could cost you hundreds of $$$ if you were to outsource the development.


    Useful WordPress plugins

    · Visual Composer – This is a must for me, it allows you to build your content without getting involved in any coding. It has a drag and drop facility for adding layouts, columns, buttons and lots of other fancy text layouts. Many of the themes from Theme Forest come bundled with this plugin, or you can buy it on its own for about $30.

    · Ad inserter – If you are planning to monetise your site with AdSense this is a great plugin that allows you to automatically insert ads within the content of your site. For example, you can insert an add after the third paragraph of every blog post and so on.

    · CC Child pages – Great plugin for showing child pages, great if you are building a SILO style site and you want to create category pages and then drill down into more specific topics.

    · CP related posts – Great theme to interlink relevant content within each area of your site.

    · Yoast SEO – there are lots of SEO plugins out there, but I like this one. You can add your target keyword for each post and it helps you to optimise the page for that keyword. It also allows you to edit the individual title and meta description for each post or page on your site – this feature is of most interest to me because being able to control title and description tags for each piece of content is very important.

    · WP Rocket – A premium option for site speed and performance. This plugin is without a doubt the best plugin I have found for improving site performance. I have hit 100% performance on gtmetrix (https://gtmetrix.com/) with this plugin.

    · W3 Total Cache – A free option for site speed and performance. This is my top recommendation for performance plugin on WordPress if you are on a low budget. It does most of the same stuff that WP Rocket does, but its free. Both of these plugins are basically speeding up your site with browser caching, css and javascript minification, deferring loading of scripts and some other performance tweaks and they both make a big difference.

    · EWWW Image Optimizer – This is another must have plugin. Install it on your site and you can use it to bulk optimize all of your images – compressing them on the fly to make them smaller but without losing (hardly) any quality. This is another plugin that can make a big difference to site performance (Which is great for your visitors and also a known ranking factor). With this plugin you get 500 images free and then there is a cost which is around $9 per 3000 images.

    Getting all this stuff installed at the beginning, and building your site with these factors in mind makes for a great start and will reduce the amount of work required at the later stages of your project.

    SSL? You might as well

    Now that we can get free SSL certificates from most hosting providers you may as well set this up. If you have any sort of payment options or even forms collecting sensitive information then Google Chrome will flag your site as being insecure if you don’t have SSL. Furthermore, there is some speculation that Google favours sites with SSL when it comes to ranking position.

    Find out if your host supports Lets encrypt – if so then you can set up SSL for free.

    Once you have the SSL certificate working then just change your WordPress URLs in settings, general so they start with https instead of http.

    Then add the following code to your htaccess file –

    RewriteEngine On

    RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off

    RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]​

    This will ensure that users are always redirected from http to https if necessary and stops you from facing any duplicate content issues.

    Help, I don’t know how to use WordPress

    If you really want to avoid building the site by yourself then you can always outsource. There are lots of providers here that will build a decent site for you at a very small cost, and many of them will also include some basic keyword research for you as well, here are a few that I recommend –

    @keywordspot

    Including keyword research - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/3...3000-words-responsive-design-hurry-up.831718/

    Site design only - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/c...ml5-wordpress-bootstrap-ecommerce-cms.864126/

    @NitroCan

    full site development - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/w...pages-logos-banners-custom-php-50-off.515531/

    @Vaspar

    Including keyword research - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/easy-earning-with-micro-niche-sites-only-30.625663/

    Hosting

    Think carefully about your hosting – whilst you don’t want to be spending more than you need to, you definitely don’t want to go with the cheapest host and then end up spending hours opening tickets every month when you site goes down.

    Some of the hosting providers that I recommend are –

    · Host-stage (@HostStage) - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/h...ws-vps-seo-tools-ready-from-6-71-only.531723/

    · Powerup Hosting (@ugjunk) - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/p...riendly-cpanel-based-us-eu-datacenter.703583/

    · Haste hosting (@HudsonWebServices) - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/100-ssd-unlimited-hosting-exclusive-bhw-discounts.861547/

    Writing the content

    Once your site is fully built then it’s time to start writing your content. Of course, you can start this before or during the site build as well. It doesn’t really matter but the crucial part is that you don’t rush things – don’t put yourself in the position where you have to shove up a load of crap content and start promoting your site when its half-finished. Get everything right first before you start advertising your site anywhere, then you don’t have to rush.

    As I mentioned previously, when you produce your content you want to make sure that it is high quality. It’s easy to look around and find a $5/500 words content writer and just fire out 50k words of content or something like that, but it’s not the best approach.

    Key things to think about when producing your content –

    · Yes, longform content is important. There was a great post some time back from @t0mmy about the benefits of longform content. You can read it here - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/i...rm-content-is-better-how-to-create-it.864546/ - In summary, if you can produce content of 2000 words or more then its likely to add value to your site, its more likely to get shared and its more likely that Google will favour it. However, the important thing to note here is this – Just because you find a writer than chargers $1 per 500 words and so you produce a 5000 word article for $10 that doesn’t mean its any good. Part of the reason why long content works is because it covers a topic in great detail and is comprehensive. So when you produce your content make sure you or your writer is actually researching the topic and covering it comprehensively.

    · Call on all of your keyword research – Of course you want to mention your target keyword, you want to mention some LSI keywords to catch the low hanging fruit but you also want to mention lots of other related keywords and not leave out any important information regarding the topic – if Google thinks you haven’t covered the topic fully then they are less likely to rank the content above other sites that provide more value to the reader.

    A note on keyword density

    There are loads of different theories on keyword density. I normally keep direct keyword or phrase references as low as possible because there’s nothing worse than over optimising. Maybe somewhere between 0.1% – 0.4% but don’t think too much about percentages, try to keep any keyword mentions natural. More importantly make sure you are mentioning closely related keywords, slight variations in the keyword and lots of related terms.

    Think how much information Google have at their fingertips when it comes to content, think how well they understand topics, words, relationships and so on. So you don’t have to include your phrase 10 times in your content for them to know what the article is about – if you are covering every aspect of a topic and mentioning key terms relating to a particular subject then you will rank for many closely related terms.

    There was a good study a while back by ahrefs – they researched 2 million google searches and came up with a load of statistics on what the most important ranking factors and trends are (Link - https://ahrefs.com/blog/on-page-seo/).

    One interesting point they made was the fact that you don’t need to use exact match phrases to rank for them. The example they gave was the search query “on page SEO” and how the number two result doesn’t mention that term at all in its title.

    There are loads of other sites out there ranking number 1 for various terms, often without mentioning them at all within their content.

    This becomes even more important when you start targeting phrases that don’t make sense. For example “how long string” – just an example of what a user might be searching for, but if you are targeting that term you are not going to word it like that in your content because it wouldn’t make sense. So, you would include stop words so it makes sense, or it might not be appropriate to mention the exact term at all, but rather you might include many other terms that describe or answer this question.

    There is a great tool that I found recently from Cognitive SEO that will measure your content in terms of its perceived potential - https://cognitiveseo.com/keyword-tool/.

    Basically, what they do is to look at the top results for any given keyword, then assess the content from each result in terms of the prominent keywords that are being used, phrases and so on. Then you put in your content and it will compare it to all of the other content that currently ranks.

    It then gives you a list of related keywords and phrases that are common among the other results and pointers on what you should be including, terms that you should use more frequently and terms that you are using too often.

    I have tested a couple of sites with this tool and seen a significant improvement on several of them after implementing the recommendations.

    When you are writing content it’s a great idea to look at the competition as well. Look at the top few results for your target keyword and see what they are writing about – don’t just look at the length of the content but read it, see what information they are providing to the visitor and think about how you can provide more value than they are.

    Linking within your content

    Linking within your content is very important, you should be adding the following links to your content –

    · Link out to authority sites. Link out to authoritative sites within your niche. Sites that contain very useful information on the topic or that cover certain points in much more detail will add value to the reader.

    · Interlink to other areas of your website. Linking to your own content is very important as well – this helps Google to crawl your site, it helps your visitors to more around the site (And reducing bounce rate), it helps to install the importance of your content in terms of its topical relevance and interlinking also provides your content with backlinks. This becomes very important when you start building links because it will (partly) dictate how link juice is shared out across your site.

    · Include mentions to people and companies within your niche – this is an important one and can really help when it comes to content promotion. Try to include quotes from well-known people or companies within your niche. You can tie this in with social media by mentioning those people in your social posts and this often convinces them to share your content out, comment on it or engage with you in some other way – and this is a great catalyst for free promotion.

    On-page SEO and Content optimization

    Once you have finished writing your content you can check it using several different tools, to make sure that a) it is well optimized for your target keyword and b) that its going to be easy to read and search engine friendly.

    Cognitive SEO content performance

    Use this tool to see how well it stacks up against your competitor’s content - https://keywords.cognitiveseo.com

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    Moz.com on-page grader

    The on-page grader from Moz helps you with the basics of on-page optimization such as keyword density, headings, meta description tags and so on.

    https://moz.com/researchtools/on-page-grader

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    readable.io - readability tool

    Readable.io is a great tool that will score your content in terms of its readability. This tool ues the Flesch-Kincaid readability test amongst others to score your content.

    https://readable.io/

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    Remember, On-page SEO is SUPER IMPORTANT

    You can never take on-page SEO too lightly, it is one of the most important steps in ranking your website and without enough effort spent on this stage you will never rank.

    Look at the rank tracking chart below, it shows a site that I recently worked on and one that I had neglected to do any on-page SEO for. Once I went through the site and updated the on-page SEO (Which included using, and making changes based on, all of the above tools) look at the improvement in serp positions.

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    Writing content sucks, lets outsource it

    Some people that I recommend for content are –

    @TextBoss - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/t...-do-the-heavy-lifting-fast-turnaround.801167/

    @ContentWriter - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/bhws-content-lounge-heres-everyones-go-to-content-writer.882542/

    Further reading: content creation

    There is a great post from Greg (@BassTrackerBoats) about creating content for authority sites, but really it applies to any type of site, you can read it here - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/proper-content-writing-for-an-authority-site.702920/

    Link Building

    Once you have your site fully built, your content created and published then you are ready to start promoting your website.

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    Plan your link building

    You should most definitely have a plan for this stage as you don’t want to just be firing links at your site without any thought. You really want a steady velocity when it comes to your link building as well as some order in the way links are built. You want quality over quantity and you want everything to look as natural as possible.

    Guidelines for link-building and off-site SEO

    Build a couple of links per week at the most, to begin with. Push these links mainly to the homepage of the site and keep everything broad when it comes to anchor text. You should be building brand anchors, naked URL and some generic terms that relate to the subject matter of your site.

    Never splash out your budget in one go but rather plan to be keeping the same amount of links coming in long term. So, set a monthly budget for links rather than concentrating one off purchases.

    What Types of links to build

    I never really stick to the same plan when it comes to the type of links that I use but rather I will pick from all different types of links and just build them in random order for each project that I set up. This prevents any footprints or patterns from forming.

    Guest post outreach

    Guest posts are always a great source for links because it connects your site with real communities. This makes your site look legitimate, it increases the chances of you receiving targeted traffic from your backlinks and it also gives you highly relevant links within your niche.

    There are some great tools out there for helping you with the task of reaching out to sites within your niche. I really like Link Assistant (link - https://www.link-assistant.com/linkassistant/) which you can use to search for sites within your niche and then contact them via email. This tool manages the entire process for you including the monitoring of links once they have been build.

    [​IMG]

    You can also manually search within your niche for blogs in your niche and then contact them and finally you can also reach out on social media and try to build relationships in that way.

    If you don’t have time for the above then you can outsource this process, there are plenty of providers that offer links on real websites –

    https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/s...ng-real-sites-payment-upon-completion.959485/

    Press releases

    Running a press release or two can be very good for a new site because these types of links normally land on authoritative sites, they get noticed by Google and they are not too spammy. They also make sense for a new site.

    Press release providers –

    @sarkark21 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/s...-newspress-releaseweb2-0social-singal.955393/

    @stephen - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/a...h-google-news-listing-free-pr-writing.332153/

    Citations

    Citations are ideal if you are targeting local keywords as they will help to tie your website to a physical location and this helps you to rank for terms that have that location in the name and also to rank within local listing packs on Google.

    Citation service providers –

    @sharifawan - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/l...ness-directory-submission-starts-at-5.600604/

    Directories

    Most people will probably disagree with this one and say that directories are dead and a bad idea. I have had some success with directories though, and more importantly when I research the competition I often find that directories make up some of the stronger links. This might be more relevant for local sites rather than those targeting national terms but none the less, directories are still another link source to add to the mix – remember the more diverse your backlink profile, the better.

    Having said that, I do avoid most spammy directories and just stick to premium directories and more importantly ones that are niche relevant. With directories I always check the metrics of the category where I am going to get listed as well – in terms of TF/CF/DA/PA and also the number of outbound links present.

    Web 2.0 creation

    Web 2.0s can make for really good links mainly because you have complete control over them. This means that you can put highly relevant content on them, giving you a contextual backlink, and also you have the ability to remove your link if it ever becomes necessary.

    You can also power up your web 2.0 properties with additional tiers of link building – this means you can funnel link juice through your contextual web 2.0 links and ultimately down to your main website.

    There are loads of web 2.0 providers on BHW, for example –

    @deki33 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/w...anually-created-2-tier-layers-only-29.713197/

    @seb_ali - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/2...nt-boosted-by-200-web-2-0s-40-indexed.849809/

    @ailia - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/h...es-videos-logos-headers-unique-emails.886217/

    If you prefer to build web 2.0 links yourself you can do so with various tools, and you can even do it manually.

    If you want to learn more about creating your own web 2.0 properties there is a great guide by @The SEO - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/guide-the-art-of-super-web-2-0-creation.683979/.

    PBN Providers

    PBN links are something you should be wary of as a beginner to SEO and also when you are working on a brand-new site. The advantage of PBN links is that you tend to get a lot of power for a relatively low cost (Especially when compared to guest posting for example).

    The downside with a PBN provider is that they are selling the same links to lots of other customers so a) the power is getting watered down and b) there is a greater risk of the site or the entire network getting penalised. This equates to the links being made useless or even worse to your site getting penalised.

    Trust worthy PBN providers include –

    @splishsplash - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/w...-rds-30-to-2200-buy-posts-pay-monthly.922263/

    @King SEO - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/k...rmanent-links-from-20-da-tf-links-1-8.754677/

    @The Profit Bird - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/3...-pbn-postshandwritten-contenthq-sites.884528/

    @gary2 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/g...real-pbn-high-metrics-premium-content.949716/

    PBN creation

    If you want the same power but the lower risk and greater control then you can build your own PBN sites. This isn’t as hard to do as you might think, although it is a big commitment in terms of time and a fair commitment in terms of expense.

    To build your own PBN you need the following –

    Decent domains – You can find your own domains using tools such as domain hunter gatherer or even just on expireddomains.net.

    Site build – Once you have the domain then you need to build a website on there. Ideally you want to make it like the way it was before it expired – this stops any suspicion being aroused and it also means that backlinks pointing to the site are less likely to be removed.

    Content creation – You need content for the site and the more you have on there the better. You really want the site to look and feel like a real site, not to look like its been built with the purpose if just linking out to one website. So you can publish some general content on the site, then add in an article with a link back to your site and then schedule in more content for the future to keep the site looking fresh.

    Hosting – You will need hosting for your PBN sites. Each site needs its own host so that they are not connected in any way. You can find loads of cheap hosting providers here on BHW and on places such as webhosting talk. Personally, I would advise that you avoid the cheapest hosting providers (The type that charge $1 per year for example) and rather go for the next tier of providers that are running legitimate hosting businesses rather than clearing catering for PBN sites. You can also use a PBN hosting provider such as GoPBN or easy blog networks. The advantage of going this route is that most of the management is done for you but the disadvantage is that a) its expensive and b) there is a higher risk involved because you have less control over the hosting and the avoidance of footprints.

    I cant build my own PBNs, its too hard

    If you don’t want to build a PBN by yourself then you can get most of the work done for you using these providers –

    Domains - @Nargil - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/n...domains-tf-da-referring-domains-based.833397/

    Build - @luc1f3r.n008 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/pbnpro-pbn-creation-service.895499/

    Full package - @sergey007 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/n...ns-setup-all-in-one-pbn-solution-dest.809477/

    Further reading for building your own PBN

    PBN creation is a big topic to cover here, so I have included some links to a few guys that have explained it already in much more detail –

    @Nick Flame - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/how-to-build-your-own-pbn-for-under-275-15-domains.678925/

    @lightningblitz - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/how-to-build-your-own-pbn-a-quick-guide-for-newbies.813358/

    Other link types

    There are loads of other link types that you can build to your sites. Many that you can build yourself for free and some that you can outsource for a small cost. These types of links include forum profiles, forum posting, question and answer sites (For example yahoo answers), blog comments, Fiverr links, bookmarking sites and many more. These types of links are what I would consider lower quality links and I would advise using them sparingly, if at all.

    Stealing links from the competition

    This is a great idea if you can afford some tool or another to make it possible. The best tool for this, in my opinion, is ahrefs. Using Ahrefs you can plug in a couple of your competitors and then find (almost) all the backlinks pointing to their website.

    You can then go through this list, filter it by various metrics and basically try to steal the same or similar backlinks that you competitors are using. In theory if you can build the same links as them and perhaps add a few of your own to the mix then you can outrank them.

    This is useful in other ways as well – for example it’s important that you know the types of links your competitors are building so that you know what you are up against. As I pointed out above, often I am trying to rank local terms and I find that the competition is just using mostly directory links and a few guest post style links, it means I don’t need to waste time or money building expensive or hard to find links, I can easily build some of those easy to obtain links and outrank them.

    How to handle anchor text diversity

    Handling the anchor text that you use for your backlinks is where a lot of people go wrong. You should be very cautious when it comes to using direct anchor text in your backlinks. This is very similar to the theory of on-page optimisation in my opinion, just like you don’t want to have more than 0.1 – 0.4% keyword density within your own content, neither do you want to have any sort of sizable percentage of direct anchors when it comes to your backlinks. Google are more than able to determine relevance of content and links without you mentioning the primary keyword everywhere you can fit it in, and trying to do this is just a big red flag to Google.

    Try to keep the large percentage of your anchors relating to your brand, the URL of your website and longtail variations of your target keywords. Add in a couple of close matches and perhaps just a handful of exact matches once you start to see your keyword nearing page 1.

    Distributing links throughout your website

    When I build my sites I always focus most of my link building efforts on the homepage to begin with. If you have your site well-structured and you are doing plenty of interlinking then that link juice will be easily distributed throughout your site and you should find that your sub-pages and posts start to rank even before you have built links directly to them.

    When you are several months down the line you can start dripping links to the target pages within your website. This keeps everything looking natural and also makes it easier to see where you need to direct your efforts based on how pages within your site start to rank as link juice is filtered through them.

    If you are running an ecommerce site this is even more relevant – rather than building links to thousands of product pages you can build the majority of your links to the homepage and as long as your internal linking structure is good the juice from those links will filter down to your product pages and then your on-page SEO can take care of the rest.

    When it comes down to it, the truth is that offsite SEO is not that difficult and what everyone always says here on BHW is very true – the on-page SEO is SUPER IMPORTANT. If you don’t have that perfect then you will never rank, and you will be firing hundreds of links at your site thinking “what the hell is going wrong”.

    I don'l like offsite SEO, I want to outsource it

    There are a few providers on bhw that will take care of the offsite SEO for your website in its entirety:

    @LukaB - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/2...manual-high-da-pa-niche-link-packages.875969/

    @safex - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/3...y-to-day-link-building-service-blcseo.958373/

    Social media

    Running social media efforts alongside your link building Is another very important part of any SEO campaign. Make sure you have accounts set up on all the popular social media platforms. Post regular content out to these platforms – not just links and updates from your website but relevant content from within your niche as well. There are some great tools out there for doing this such as https://hootsuite.com and content studio.

    Interact with your followers on these channels as well – this is a really easy way of driving targeted traffic to your website that many people neglect. Further more it’s a great way of staying in touch with your niche – it helps to to find out what your target audience are interested in, highlights guest posting opportunities and allows you to keep an eye on your competition.

    There are some great services on here that can help with your social media efforts as well, for example –

    Social account creation and promotion

    @Diablo9975 - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/d...g-plus-linkedins-pins-stumbles-only-9.767924/

    @webinaz - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/k...ing-service-for-all-types-of-business.941076/

    Social media publishing

    @gmsniperx - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/a...tion-social-media-management-platform.953795/

    Social media growth

    @indianbill –

    https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/facedominator-3-5-the-facebook-bomb-recoded-from-scratch.943786/

    https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/t...rand-new-version-recoded-from-scratch.954807/

    Monitoring your efforts

    [​IMG]

    Whilst you are working on your project you want to be monitoring your efforts as well. You can set up rank tracking so that you know where your website is ranking for your terms. Some popular rank trackers include –

    Serpbook - https://serpbook.com/

    Serpmarker (@eatingMemory) - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/s...udit-keyword-tool-free-trial-accounts.855168/

    You can also monitor other metrics for your site as well such as your majestic scores ( majestic.com) your DA and PA using Moz.com and your ranking on sites such as ahrefs.

    You should also monitor your organic keywords using either ahrefs or semrush because there may well be terms that you start to rank for that you were not even aware of – this information can be very useful in helping you to direct your efforts where they are likely to have the best effect.

    As well as monitoring the progress of your project you should also record all of your efforts so that you can overlay those efforts against any improvement, or decline, in your sites performance. I always record all of the links that I build including link source, date and cost.

    Assess and modify

    Remember that SEO is changing all the time. So you cant just implement a set strategy every time. You need to have markers for success and if you don’t reach them then rework your strategy accordingly.

    This doesn’t mean that you change your entire link building plan after 30 days because you are not ranking but it means that you set am assessment date of say 3 months for example, you look at where you are at that time, what you have done, how your site stacks up with the competition and then you revise the plan for the following 3 months.

    Always be ready to learn

    [​IMG]

    SEO isn’t easy that’s for sure. I have been doing it now for 10+ years and I still consider myself as a beginner. There is so much to learn and the fact that the game is constantly changing doesn’t make that ask any easier. The important thing, and something that you will see often here on BHW, is never to give up. If you find that your first project has failed then you should be looking at what went wrong and how you can adapt your strategy next time and then go for it again.

    I have really lost count of the number of times that I have failed, tanked a website or just had no success from a project that I have spent a lot of time on. Sometimes I felt near to giving up but it’s funny because I often found that just when I had all but given up on a project it started to succeed – and that is the way SEO works because often the effort you put in doesn’t show results until sometime later.

    [​IMG]

    All of the hard work is worth it though, when you get the results. But you can’t get there unless you take action and you can’t make it without conviction and a resolve to never give up.
     
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  2. Panther28

    Panther28 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Damn son, this is THE guide, lol,
    Great Job.
     
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  3. ambushiv11

    ambushiv11 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Quite a guide here! Wow, thank you for your contribution!
     
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  4. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Dude. How long did it take you to write this?
     
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  5. Windmm

    Windmm Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Nut-Nights

    Nut-Nights Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Bro that's too long, Great share. Need a coffee to read it full :D
     
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  7. blackbrut

    blackbrut Junior Member

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    Thank you
     
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  8. living2xl

    living2xl Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Having my breakfast and reading this

    edit: read - pretty basic but it will work for anyone who is just getting into seo
    thanks OP!
     
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  9. jeffro89

    jeffro89 Junior Member

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    Wow, you have given me something to read while at work. Thanks, looks like premium content just from quick skim reading. Thanks OP
     
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  10. Array Experts

    Array Experts Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    After A Long Time I Saw Such A Long Post
    Great Share :):)
     
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  11. aidenhera

    aidenhera Elite Member

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    nothing i didnt read about from other guides here, however good job mentioning so many things
     
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  12. Diplomat

    Diplomat Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    That's a really nice guide, well done!
     
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  13. Blakester

    Blakester Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    One of the best, I am bookmarking this, just thanked your post
     
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  14. juniorfast1

    juniorfast1 Registered Member

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    Wow, very detailed guide, should have taken a lot of time, thanks mate.
     
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  15. rudrapada

    rudrapada Regular Member

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    That's a long a#$ read, But you have done a great job.
    My new site is coming up and the guide came out at the right time.
    For a noob like me, it is GOLD.
     
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  16. T2000

    T2000 Newbie

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    How long does it take before you see your site ranking on page 1, using your method?
     
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  17. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    Bookmarked for reading late, thanks @davids355
     
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  18. danbarqami

    danbarqami Junior Member

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    Wow this is an all in one guide. Thanks for taking your time to come up with this.
     
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  19. PulpF

    PulpF Junior Member

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    Clicked the button, but thank you for this. I am currently getting articles written for a site which I am going to start. Not been in this game for a long while.
     
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  20. deal with it

    deal with it Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    ok, i get it you wanna be jr executive vip. where is the voting machine please. :D
    i will use this guide later when i get back to seo.
     
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