How I Found Success In SEO, Building Links, and How You Can To
Two years removed from high school, I found myself dialing in on what I want to do with the rest of my life. Growing up, I have always had the privilege of being surrounded by entrepreneurs through my Father, who first introduced me to SEO. Peter Freudenberg, my Father, was a real estate investor from the period of 1995 to 2008 he dominated the single-family real estate market nationwide. He had three websites ranking numbers 1, 2, and 3 on Google nationwide for the most significant real estate keywords like “We Buy Houses,” and as a result, these brought in literally hundreds of thousands of leads every month.
Fast forward about 10 years later, I am 19 years old, and naturally, I have an inclination toward real estate investing, so I started my first business, David Buys Houses Florida. (Sidenote: if you are reading this and you are in the real estate industry, here is a cool article I wrote to help you build links.) Speaking with my Dad, he told me SEO is the most crucial marketing aspect of any business because it is the only form of marketing that consistently brings in leads without consistently taking your time or your money once you get it going.
After listening to this spectacular advice I decided SEO is where I am going to focus all of my energy, I am in this for the long term. If you are just like me when I first started, you are probably asking yourself, “What Is SEO?, How Do I Get Started? And Who Should I Learn From?”
Continue reading because this article will outline a step by step learning process for mastering White Hat SEO.
What Is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which is essentially optimizing a website for users and the search engine in order to be listed higher in them. Google controls the most significant share on the market for search engines with 88.61% as of July 2019, so this article will focus on Google SEO. As mentioned, we are focusing on White Hat SEO, which is the best practice for implementing SEO while following Google guidelines.
When most of us first start learning about SEO, we are looking for the magic trick that is going to bring in the Search Traffic and convert. However, if I could do it all over again, I would have told 19 years old me that SEO is similar to learning a subject in school. In school, there are the foundational aspects of learning math, we first had to learn how to count, then we moved on to adding, multiplying/dividing, and more complex problems from there. SEO works precisely the same way with foundational basics branching out to broader aspects. Here are the basics you are going to want to learn for White Hat SEO:
- What Is SEO?
- How Search Engines Work
- White Hat, Grey Hat, and Black Hat
- Google’s Guidelines
- User Intent and Context
- Understanding Your Goals
- What Is Local SEO? How Is It Different?
- What Is National SEO? How Is It Different?
- What Is International SEO? How Is It Different?
Moz has an excellent article that educates the masses on all of these basics and happens to be the first place I started when learning about SEO. However, I would like to note that it took me about 2 or 3 months to find this source, and I spent a lot of time doing a hundred things at once. Learn from my mistakes, ignore the noise pitching this ‘new strategy,’ or this ‘new secret to earning traffic’ and focus on learning the basics of SEO.
Key Components of SEO:
- Keyword Research
- Technical SEO
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Measuring and Optimizing Campaigns
Once we have a deeper understanding of the way search engines work alongside SEO, we can begin tackling the key components of SEO. Beginning with keyword research, which is the foundation of where your efforts will be placed.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a core component where you identify the best words and phrases that people search for in search engines. These words and phrases are called keywords, and you will be using these to optimize specific pages for ranking in the SERPs or Search Engine Results Pages.
Where to Learn Keyword Research?
Ahrefs has an excellent youtube channel for learning everything you need to know about keyword research from start to finish. Just search for “Ahrefs” on Youtube, hit playlists, and go through all of the videos in their keyword research playlist.
How To Look at Keyword Research? Business Or SEO?
When I first started learning about keyword research, I did not look at it from an SEO perspective, I saw it from a business perspective. Keywords are a double-edged sword; they have an SEO and business perspective. However, when I was looking at them from a business perspective, I was not concerned with search volume or the number of people searching for a keyword. Instead, I took the strategy of if someone lives in this area and needs “x” service or product, then I just need to put the location and the service together to rank and create as many of these pages as possible.
Looking back on that, it is still a good strategy; however, I made the mistake of not focusing the majority of my effort building up specific pages. What I found was I had 40+ pages, but I was spending all my time writing content. Ironically, a lot of people fall into the trap that you need to create the best content to rank, which is true and not true. Creating great content has its purpose from business value, user intent value, and off-page or link building value. When it comes to ranking for keywords, if you focus solely on creating a large quantity of ‘quality’ content with no goals in mind, then you may find yourself not making sufficient progress.
Take Account of My Mistakes
Learn from my mistakes by going through and taking notes of Ahrefs videos on keyword research. Build a system for doing keyword research and understand that this is an essential foundational portion of the process but not the only portion of the process. Once you have keyword research down and your website is ranking for keywords. Then, the next step is to analyze how you are doing using Google Search Console. I promise I am not endorsed by Ahrefs, but they do have some great content, so here is another video on “How To Use Google Search Console to Improve SEO.”
How I Learned Off-Page SEO
If you are a seasoned SEO or someone who reads a lot of SEO articles, then I know what you are thinking… “You are skipping the steps!” “The Steps go keyword research #1, on-page SEO #2, technical SEO #3, and link building #4” I will say you have a point, I am skipping the industry known steps to do SEO and for a good reason too. See, my story went in this order, and I would not have it any other way. The reason being is, later on, I found that building links is arguably the most challenging thing to do in the industry, and I took the time to learn real manual outreach link building so I can do so on-demand.
As of now, I have been talking about how I would do things differently; however, when it comes to learning Off-Page SEO or Link Building, I would have learned this the same exact way.
What Is Link Building?
Link building is the process of earning links or mentions in the content on websites that are authoritative and relevant to your own. What this means is in order to earn links you have to communicate with other human beings *Gasspppppp*
For many people in the SEO community, the thought of communicating with other human beings is frightening. In fact, many people are afraid of communicating with human beings because they do not know how to do so effectively. Ironically, this happens to include me. However, I have always had a knack for persistence.
Your Mum and Nobody:
Your Sister and Nobody:
Me: I would love to learn how to become a better communicator and earn links. Yayyyy!
For those who are new to the game, links are arguably the #1 ranking factor on Google for SEO. Ahrefs did a study on 2 million keywords and found links are considerably stronger ranking factors than on-page. In turn, this means if you own a website on Google that you care about ranking, you are going to need to build links at some point.
Where to Learn Off-Page SEO or Link Building?
Once I began diving into learning link building, I was trying a few basic strategies such as building citations and niche relevant directories. However, I knew I needed to earn more significant links, so I was searching for something link building related to Google when I stumbled upon Dan Ray. The Super Cool SEO Dan Ray White Hat SEO and Link Building Group are, in my humble opinion, the best place outside of Eric Ward archives to learn real systemized white hat link building. Fortunately, for my story, I stumbled upon this group early on, and thankfully, so can you. The man, the myth, and the legend has a paid facebook group for link building called Diet Coke With Dan, which is temporarily closed as of the time of writing but will be opening up again in the near future.
At this point, my story took a turn, where I realized I could quit my job as a server faster if I just began doing link building SEO for clients. Once I mastered Dan’s link building system, I built my own process page and began delivering exponential results for clients, which freed up my time to work on my real estate business.
How I Learned On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is the optimization of everything on your website, specifically content-related changes. These optimizations could be anything from meta-descriptions to changing the number of headers on a page. Top to bottom everything to do with optimizing content for ranking in the SERPs, on-page is where to turn.
How Does BERT Affect On-Page SEO?
At this moment in time-on-page, SEO has never been easier from my perspective. With the release of BERT, many in the community have begun to freak out. However, BERT from a white hat SEO perspective does not change the game. It merely forces more people to play the game with a more advanced system. BERT is a recent Google Update introducing more advanced machine learning and AI to rank pieces of content higher in the SERPs based on who, what, when, where, why, etc. that answers what the user is searching for best. Speculation on whether user intent was a ranking factor in Google has been ongoing for a while now, but with BERT, it is a known ranking factor taking into the accounts of context in language. When entering into on-page SEO, user intent and context is extremely important and something that you should have a firm grasp on from learning the basics.
Is On-Page SEO Hard?
From a pure SEO based perspective on-page, SEO has never been easier if you understand the basics and how to read data. The reason being is there are many tools to help you do on-page SEO. In my opinion, the best tool is the one that can back up their data with testing for accuracy. CORA is my go-to because it is backed by two statistical correlation tests and measures up to 880 SEO factors. There are also two other popular tools that I use they are called POP (Page Optimizer Pro) and Surfer SEO I especially like Surfers’ new free keyword plugin. Dan Ray was the first one to introduce me to these tools, and that is why I highly recommend joining his group to learn link building and SEO. Remember, these tools are only a hammer or a screwdriver in your SEO tool belt; if you do not have the basics in place, then following the recommendations in these tools will not help build your ‘SEO’ house by improving your rankings consistently.
How I Learned Technical SEO
Technical SEO is something that I would not classify myself at a mastery level in the skill. My experience with technical SEO is with redirects and making my website load as fast as possible. I learned technical SEO through research, persistence, learning from others, and testing. Screaming Frog is an excellent tool if you want to dive into these ranking factors head first and have access to all the technical data.
From my experience, the most important to focus on in this area is page load time, duplicate content, 404 errors, and other redirect errors. If you are just starting out, this may sound like gibberish to you, so go ahead and check out Moz once again to learn more.
Measuring and Optimizing Campaigns
Now we have an understanding of the basics and the key components that make up the study of SEO. An important aspect is to systemize, measure, and optimize your SEO campaigns as you would any other marketing campaign. Marketing is based on systemizing, measuring, and optimization until you get success, and SEO is no different. During my experience, I enjoy using Google Drive, Google Sheets, and Google Docs to track everything to systemizing and optimizing my processes.
For instance, when doing link building, I have a process and use the project tracker to keep track of the data in a google sheet that gives clients live updates of everything that is going on at all times. The project tracker has multiple tabs where I can track the prospects, outreach dates, followups, replies, live, or agreed on links, and many other factors that need to be measured during link building. Using the data from the project tracker, I can then optimize my link building to be as effective as possible. Do not skip this step as when I first started out I had a strong distaste for being organized. What I quickly realized was that systemizing, measuring, and optimizing is the key to everything when it comes to marketing and SEO success.
About David Freudenberg
David is a young SEO guy that knows how to build links. Visit his site seowithdavid.com