Episode 69 | The First 5 SEO Steps for Any Website

Show Notes


[00:00] Mike: This is startups for the rest of us episode 69

[00:03] [Music].

[0:00:11] Mike: Welcome to startups for the rest of us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or just thinking about it. I am Mike.

[00:20] Rob: And I am Rob.

[00:21] Mike: And we are her to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we have made. How are you doing this week Rob?

[00:25] Rob: I’m doing quite good, I have finished the billing engine for Hit Tail, yeah it’s all done.

[00:31] Mike: Were you late?

[00:32] Rob:  I finished it, no I finished the nick of time, I didn’t have to stay up until 2:00 AM as I had predicted but I did have to—I wound up spending probably three or four hours ‘finishing it’. Remember I had said a contractor had built it and tested it and said it worked and I knew that it wasn’t, you know you just expect it not to be. And so I did spend about four hours, and what was nice was that the bulk of the code was there. There was a bunch, it saved me a bunch of time but there were some very subtle things that he had missed in the spec. So I just had to change some ‘ifs’ around and change some logic.

[01:01] I mean if I tried to write it from scratch it would have been 20 to 25 hours probably, I spent four hours on it. So I was pretty happy with it and I got it done in time and you know what I actually have been just so pleasantly surprised with, well not surprised but just amazingly happy with the way that step through debugging is working for me. Because I am basically running it from my desktop and I am connecting to the database to pull the records out and then I am stepping through the code and watching it and when its done you know it allows me to kind of fix the code as I am going instead of having—because you know when you put something up on a server and then schedule it to run every night its like you need all this error checking code. You need tons of emails being sent out because if anything goes wrong you need to know about it so you can fix it.

[01:40] And being able to step through it has been really cool and has saved me a lot of time and actually shown me a lot of different data points that I wouldn’t have realized were kind of bad in the database that I have been able to fix.

[01:50] Mike: Do you have like a local copy of it or?

[01:52] Rob: The database?

[01:53] Mike: Yeah.

[01:53] Rob: No I actually cut across—I open the port and then I connect and run it and then I close it, yup.

[01:58] Mike: Got it.

[01:59] Rob: Yeah that’s been good, it’s always fun to get back into the code you know, just to get into some technology and kind of build something. How about you, what’s been going on?

[02:06] Mike: I have been sick for the past couple if days so pretty much my entire family went down with what we believe is the neural virus. The onset is about—for me it’s an hour, for my wife it was about 90 minutes. But basically you go from completely functional to just on the floor in pain for at least a couple if days and then after that you know you’ve got lingering effects for up to a couple of weeks. But so far the only one who has been spared is my oldest son, he’s got a birthday party coming up on Saturday. So we are hoping he will be spared but we will see how that goes.

[02:37] Rob: Yeah you told me about it and I was going to call it the bubonic plague on the podcast because that’s what it sounded like to me. I was working in a coffee shop yesterday and today and I needed to, I wanted to have two monitors. And so downloaded, I bought Air Display which is an iOS App for my iPad and its 10 bucks in the App store and you can use it as a second monitor over Wi-Fi.

[03:00] Mike:  Cool.

[03:01] Rob: Yeah it’s pretty cool so I recommend it to folks. It’s, there is a little bit of latency obviously, you know I have my little 13 inch laptop and then I have the little 10.1 inch screen next to it propped up and it was working shockingly well today as I was moving things you know from one window to another. And not really as fast as a, you know, a real dual monitor set up but certainly supper portable. And that’s what I liked about it is that I can take in the ambiance and the caffeine of a coffee shop without sacrificing too much productivity.

[03:27] Mike: So you are basically carrying around a couple of screens?

[03:30] Rob: Yeah isn’t it cool? Yeah, it was funny. And I had several people comment on it, they were like oh are those connected? And I was I like yeah babe, over the Wi-Fi.

[03:39] Mike: I’ve read somewhere that Apple maybe introducing the iPad 3 in the first week of March and preliminary, potential specs for the screen are something like 2000 pixels by 1000 pixels or something like that.

[03:52] Rob: Yeah.

[03:53] Mike: Something ridiculous.

[03:54] Rob: So what is it like OLED or it’s like a super high end screen that they are saying they are going to use?

[03:59] Mike: But I can imagine a Mac Book Air with that right next to it that would be awesome.

[04:04] Rob: Seriously, cool it just hammered the battery dude; it went from 99% down to 10% in like five or six hours because…

[04:11] Mike: Well you know I mean that’s still pretty good though. I mean even for a video I mean you are only going to get 10 hours out of it to begin with. So that’s not that bad, that’s actually pretty good.

[04:20] Rob: How about for you, you were up in Canada?

[04:22] Mike:  So I have come to the realization that when you go into Canada, if you are going to fly through Toronto their entire customs system is a complete and utter scam. You know I didn’t come to this conclusion completely independently, I talked to several other people and they basically said the same thing. Some of them were Canadian, some of them were American and they all basically said the same thing; in Toronto the customs is just terrible. So I went there, I am working for an American company that has a Canadian subsidiary and the contracts were all with the American company and everything is there.

[04:55] I have got all of this paperwork and stuff that basically shows all this and they made me buy a work visa, it was like $150. And I am like well I need to get into the country and I am supposed to get to, hop on my next flight in about two hours here what going on, how can I get– you know how can we do this? He’s like, oh there I a cashier over there you can pay for a work visa and we will let you go. I was just like oh you’ve got to be kidding me.

[05:16] Rob: Wow that’s awesome and they are like please pay in cash, small bills, unmarked and as you turn around they just start handing it out to the crew.

[05:23] Mike:  It was ridiculous, you know it comes down to a business expense it gets written off at the end of the day anyway but still it’s just a total scam.

[05:31] Rob: Right, that’s funny. So hey we are up to 87 ratings in iTunes which is just awesome.

[05:37] Mike:            Very nice.

[05:38] Rob:  And as we said you know we are trying to get to 125 before MicroConf which is cool. Now there has been this whole discussion of like the international reviews because our editor went to Australia and she said yeah they were I don’t remember eight or ten.

[05:51] Mike: It was eight, yeah.

[05:52] Rob: In the Australian iTunes, and if you go, if you scroll all the way down in iTunes and go to the bottom right there is like a flag, in mine there is an American flag. If you click on it it brings up a whole page of flags and you can just switch between them. You click on it, it sends you all the way back to the homepage of the iTunes store, you research for it again and then go back. So it would be like incredibly time consuming to actually try to figure out how many reviews you really have worldwide. But anyways it is interesting nonetheless I mean assuming there are major hubs that listen to us. Flip through some of the Western Europe reviews but there some really cool reviews from the past couple of weeks.

[06:29] Mike: So we are going to leverage this to boost our numbers when we talk to the guys over at TechZing?

[06:34] Rob: Yeah like totally talk add in the Australian ones, yeah.

[06:38] Mike: Yeah, we’ll be like oh we are at 200 plus.

[06:41] Rob: Yeah nice, did u read this one already? It was from the Smitzer and it says my iPhone lost its downloaded podcast after upgrading to iOS 5, with little time to download them this morning I had to answer the question, if you could listen to only one podcast today what would it be? I immediately downloaded Startups for the Rest of Us. Isn’t that awesome? That’s awesome. And there is another, so this is Rob Bazenett he lives in Connecticut, long time listener of this podcast, I have followed the work of Rob since I can remember, this podcast is the podcast to look for each week. Mike and Rob cover the topics every startups face and these guys don’t cover the topics in theory but from practical experience.

[07:15] It’s huge because they explain what works and what doesn’t as well as how to get there. So that’s cool, really appreciate that Rob. And Tim High actually posted a comment; I have seen him you know on the inter-webs a few times. The value to time ratio on this podcast is exceptionally high, these guys stay on topic and know how to get to the point. So as always we really appreciate these reviews guys. I mean if nothing else it makes Mike and I feel good and makes me want to really you know go the extra mile to record cool episodes.

[07:41] Mike: Yeah there was an email that we got from Ryan Wagner, he runs the website 21times.org. His message was, “Hi guys I run a mailing list 21times.org for developers who want to build and launch a product of their own, we have a few thousand subscribers and I just sent out a link to episode 66 to them since I really enjoyed it. Tell Mike that I really felt his pain when facing those tough questions, launching is hard. We would love a Twitter mention @21 times if you feel it appropriate, either way thanks for the great episode, Ryan”, So thanks for that Ryan I appreciate it, it was not an easy episode to go through I think Rob kind of felt a little bit, I wouldn’t say embarrassed, a little bad for me I guess.

[08:18] Rob: Right, but there were certainly a lot of you know comments both positive and negative from listeners that would—there was kind of a nice discussion going on in the comment thread on the blog.

[0:08:27] Mike: Yeah we did get a lot of comments on that one episode but thanks very much for your comments Ryan and thanks to everybody who posted on the startupsfortherestofus.com website and the comments there.

[08:38] Rob: Right and if you haven’t checked that out I mean there is twenty something comments, its by far the most we’ve had on any episode so its a pretty fascinating discussion. And what’s cool is to see people’s different viewpoints of it. You know, it’s like some people are really negative about, I don’t know, about the prospects of it or you know saying like you should shut it down, you should just kill it and others are like no you should pivot and you know you should just—you need to find the market. And there is just a lot of different ideas and it just shows you how complex this stuff is right, there is like so many ways to look at it. Honestly you are an entrepreneur you’ve got to go with your gut men.


[09:12] Mike: Today’s episode comes from a listener, so this email is from Nick Burdock and he writes, “Mike and Rob I am a huge fan of the show, the clear and concise info you guys put together is completely invaluable to a starting entrepreneur. I am in the process of getting my family meal planning App grubguruoo.com ready to launch in the next few months and that’s spelled GRUBGUROO dot com. I’m fairly new to SEO and the volume of the information out there is really overwhelming, I am curious what your suggestion is for the top five to ten things to get started doing with SEO for your site. Is it blogging, building links by guest posting, on page, off page etcetera. Thanks and keep up the great work, Nick.”

[09:49] Rob: You know I think I’ll start, before we say a word about this we have had the request to talk about SEO and Ad Words and Pay per click stuff. We’ve probably receive that once a month and we don’t talk about it and the reason is because it’s plain boring honestly. Now we’ve covered these topics in depth in the academy because you can cover them in written form and in Screencast a lot easier than just you and I sitting here and chatting about it. So I think today’s format its not some step by step of first answer Meta Tags right that is like horrendously boring stuff.

[10:19] And frankly you can find that either in a place like the academy or you know just in check list on the web or you know other resources. So I think we are going to take a little different approach to it today and I do like the thought of taking the top five things rather than trying to cover this massive subject all at once.

[10:35] Mike: So I think for this episode Nick asked kind of specifically what are the things to do to get started. So I think what we are going to mostly concentrate on is the initial phases of what to do for SEO. And these are the things that you typically have a lot more direct control over so they are you know more about the on page factors and how you structure your website. And we will talk a bit briefly about some of the off page factors but those are the things that you don’t necessarily have absolute control over and they are not things that you can address in a –I don’t want to say they are more time consuming they just tend to take place over a much longer period of time, would that be the way you characterize it?

[11:14] Rob: Yeah there is, the on page factors tend to be something you do once and it is more of a checklist approach where its like do this do that, okay now you’re set. And then it’s like you said the off page factors that’s the ongoing process of it. And frankly depending on your comfortability with kind of white hat and grey hat versus black hat techniques, I mean different people approach off page factors meaning like link building and such, different people approach them very differently. And so like you said there is certainly not enough time, I mean you and I can probably riff on just the on page factors for a couple of hours and the off page factors are really where a lot of the discussion online happens.

[11:50] Mike: So we are going to go through what we came up with for the five best things to do when it comes to SEO. And the first one is to do key word research, before you do anything else do key word research because you have to know what it is you are aiming at and how difficult it is to do before you go out and do full blown site designs and you know develop all the content for your site. You really need to know what it is that you are going to be targeting before you can start developing that content.

[12:18] Rob: Right I think this is something that people often ignore especially…

[12:22] Mike: Oh I ignore it sometimes.

[12:23] Rob: Yeah, no I agree.

[12:25] Mike: I know that I will go off in that field sometimes and I will just start building some of the content for a site and I think it’s very easy to do. But if you are just getting started into SEO I mean I think that doing that key word research is really the place to start.

[12:36] Rob:  Right and there is this fine balance right, it’s like you definitely want to write for humans because conversions are more important than SEO. However it is pretty easy to tweak on page factors towards a certain key, a particular key word you want to target. It’s pretty easy to do that and still leave it feeling very natural to the reader. I know that there are a few different approaches, there is going after head terms which are terms that have you know quite a bit of volume.

[13:02] We are really going to start at the beginning, go to the Google AdWords keyword tool and search for something you think people might use, key words people might use to search for your site or your product. And you look to see what the volume that is and you want to make an exact match search and you want to look in your locale, so like you know if you are in the US, US only then you want to look at the local search volume for that. And my guess is you are going to be disappointed because you think that there are thousands of people searching for you know inventory software or even PHP inventory software, you know whatever App you are building and typically its way, way way less than you think.

[13:41] So what that means is you can often grab that, you know that term, that generic term inventory software. But then you got to start putting some thought into what are the surrounding terms, what terms are related to this that could potentially you know also bring in traffic. And so you can either go purely long tail and that’s where you really go after terms that are you know just much less popular. I mean actually that’s the whole point of Hit Tail frankly is that as soon as you start getting some traffic you put Hit Tail on it and it starts telling you long tail terms that you should be going after.

[14:15] The Google AdWords keyword tool does not do a very good job of giving you long tail terms, it tends to leave them out or say there is no search volume when in fact there might be 50 or 100 or 200 people searching for something. So you know that’s a way to work yourself into a market is by just consistently publishing stuff about long tail terms. And then I think the other parts that I have seen work really well is to go after a related thing that your prospects might be searching for that could lead them to your App. So instead of inventory software maybe someone might search for like ‘inventory tracking word templates’. Or maybe they are searching for an inventory company or they are searching for you know something that they may really want inventory software but not know that they need it right.

[14:58] And so if you go after those surrounding terms and provide them with inventory word tracking templates and rank for that term, then when they get to the website they could be like oh, I mean this is pretty common actually they are, oh I totally need you know inventory software and I didn’t realize it. That’s a bit of a jumble but those are the three main approaches I have seen, its going after the head terms, the long tail term and then related terms and essentially redirecting someone towards your product.

[15:22] Mike:            Yeah that last piece that you talked about going for the related terms, so basically the type of person you are talking about right there is the person who doesn’t necessarily know what its called, whatever the software is that they are looking for, they don’t know what its called. They know what kind of things that it does but they just don’t know what other people call it. You know you might get 90% of the people would call it ‘inventory software’ and you’ve got these 10% of people who would call it ‘inventory management’.

[15:51] Rob: No that’s a good point.

[15:51] Mike: So the second thing to do when it comes to SEO is to builds a separate page for each of those key words that you are heavily targeting. Now as Rob was talking before there are a lot of different approaches that you can use and you could easily come up with hundreds and hundreds of key words that you would want to target. Now what you really need to do is you need to prioritize those and then based on the competition that you are seeing from you know other websites or based on the analytics that you are doing, make a separate page for each of the key words that you are heavily targeting.

[16:23] One of the things that I am doing with Audit Shark for example is that I am putting something together that’s kind of close to a Wikipedia entry for each of the keywords. So that appears in an education area that I am going to have on my website because people are searching for things like “what is compliance” and you know “what is PCI”, things like that. So those are the types of things that can go onto my website because they are obviously searching for information about those things.

[16:48] They are not necessarily searching for a solution yet but if they find a website that is going to help them and is helping them for free and doing some education for them then they are more likely to remember that and come back and at least take a look at the sort of things that that product or that software can do for them. So that’s kind of the approach that I am taking for that, I don’t think it’s something you can do for every single type of site but it can certainly work for some of them.

[17:11] But otherwise what you are really trying to do is you are trying to pick what you feel are the low hanging fruit based on your keyword research, maybe eight pages, 10 pages to start with something like that and then build up those pages, build the content for them and move on from there. If you want to expand it in the future that’s great, you know obviously it depends on which one of those topics that Rob talked about that you want to go after.

[17:33] Rob:  I agree, I like that idea of having an educational articles area. I am going to look at Hit Tail because it actually does all three of these approaches. There is a big head term that the homepage goes after then there is these kind of mid range terms that are—I’ll call body terms , they just have—they are not long tail but they are not quite you know massive traffic demons either. And so you are going to have an education area in Audit Shark. Those are kind of addressed in, its not even one particular area but there is like an FAQ area that has maybe 40 or 50 different pages that address different things.

[18:07] There is an area that’s like who would use Hit Tail and then how would you use Hit Tail and they target specific keywords and they are more articles, they are not like blog posts but they actually pose a question that gets a reasonable amount of Google traffic. Then the third one is Hit Tail’s blog goes after long tail terms that are actually suggested by Hit Tail itself, that’s what the previous owner was doing right? He was using it in the site and using it to generate leads so all three of those approaches that we talked about earlier are done on that website.

[18:35] And that’s not something you have to do on day one because that’s a lot of effort but I do like the thought of figuring out what your homepage is going to target and then having like an articles or education area. I think people make a mistake, its like your plans and pricing page, I never tried to do SEO targeting with that. And your tour page, unless there’s specifically searches for something that would relate to it like I don’t try to drive people directly to that, I try to get them either to the home page or to one of your content pages, you know your educational articles. And then the articles now should have calls to action on them right? You dot just want someone to read that and then hit the back button and go back to the search engine.

[19:11] You really want to have great information and then at the bottom you know, want to find out more? Check out our product that does exactly what we talk about above and here is a big ass button so you can click on it. And that’s quite a bit of the work that I did when I revamped the Hit Tail website with the—it didn’t have those calls to action at the bottom. It had good articles, good content, people hitting it with organic search but there was no. now come check out our product moment and that’s you know really what I would… By plugging the funnel I talked a lot about that over the past few months, that’s exactly what it was doing.

[19:38] Mike: The third thing to do when it comes to SEO is pay attention to the on page factors. The on page factors are important and by on page factors what I really mean is the things like the page titles, the URLs, the keywords in H1 and H2 tags, things like that. I mean the off page factors are obviously important too but again in this particular podcast episode we are just concentrating on things that are really directly under your control out of the gate. And the on page factors are all the easiest things that you can possibly do and a lot of people just don’t do them.

[20:13] You know one of the things that Rob has just mentioned was the calls to action. Now a call to action isn’t necessarily an on page factor that’s going to get you SEO results. But it will certainly help you when it comes to closing the holes on your funnel as he said.

[20:26] Rob: Right and you mentioned H1 tags, the HTML title tag is important and obviously you know having your key phrase a couple of times in the content itself and all that stuff is quite easy to do naturally. You can really take this too far in my opinion, I mean it can sound mechanical or the page can start looking weird. Like I have seen people use bold around their keywords on the page because I think if it’s emphasized Google still takes that as you know more emphasized word, I probably does. But I don’t do that because I feel like it impacts readability and it feels unnatural to me.

[21:00] So bottom line is if you go online and you search for ‘best on page factors’ or like ‘on page SEO checklist’ you are going to find some different results and you are going to sort out what you should do. Again the academy we have our own checklist that we put down of stuff that we know that works. What I would say is don’t use Meta keywords anymore, those are faded out and really the only purpose of them is to show your competitors what keywords you are targeting right? No search engines use them anymore, nothing of value so they go purely on the content.

[21:28] So I have actually gone through my old sites and taken out all of the Meta keyword tags. The keywords I don’t put in but the description you want to put in, the Meta description because it is what—that’s what appears in your search result. Like you know when Google has the page title, its underlined, that’s your blue link and then the text that’s below that is your Meta description.

[21:49] Mike:  Right.

[21:49] Rob: And so that should be a call to action, like that should show. If you don’t put a Meta description, Google will just grab some text that it thinks represents the page which is never going to be as good as text you put there.

[22:00] Mike: Really?

[22:01] Rob: Yeah, I thought you were serious for a moment.

[22:05] Mike: No, Google is not good at something, what are you saying? That’s an important distinction to make for people that it’s not all Meta tags that are useful, so it’s just the ones like the keywords and things like that.

[22:16] Rob: Just the key words yeah.

[22:17] Mike: Yeah you definitely want to have that description in there so that you know Google knows want you want to be showing up in those search results. So you kind of have at least a little bit of influence on what Google is showing people. The fourth thing that you can do is to adhere to the basics of a technically good website and by technically good I mean making sure that there is no broken links, you don’t have invalid CSS or JavaScript pages or other links that are two pages on your site that are busted.

[22:45] Some of these things that they can just dramatically slow down how fast your website loads and you know I found out the effects of this one day when I was going through. It’s the way WordPress was configured there were a bunch of web pages that were being referenced, most of them were JavaScript pages and they just didn’t exist anymore because I had uninstalled some plugins and moves some things around. And it was taking, it was probably about twice as long to load the page than it was after I removed all these links that just didn’t go anywhere.

[23:15] And you know Google looks at the page load speed and says well this has a factor into how high this should rank in the search engine. It’s kind of unknown how much that does factor into it but Google has made it clear that speed does matter. And you know so they have tried to minimize as much as they possible can, make everything as fast as they can on their sites and you know just by coming out and saying publicly that speed matters, I think it’s probably a good idea to make sure that you are paying attention to how fast your website loads. So along with that you know you can use tools like Pingdom to test your website and your DNS.

[23:51] I set up a Pingdom subscription a while back just to do some DNS testing on my website and based on that I kind of made some decisions about where I am you know going to be moving my hosting. But those are some other simple things that you can do and unfortunately these are things that you kind of have to do almost after you get a webhost because you cant necessarily rely on what somebody is telling you. You know because every webhoster out there is going to say we have the fastest servers in the world and you really have to test it for yourself because it’s not always going to be the case.

[24:23] The last thing about a technically good website is making sure that you are not copying and pasting content that is from other websites, so basically outright plagiarism. Google does notice duplicate content and they will mark it down and it will simply won’t count as much in your search engine rankings and you know it’s just something you have to be a little bit careful of. There are websites out there, CopyScape can tell you that sort of thing, it can keep track of you know whether or not your content is appearing on other peoples websites. I haven’t looked at it in a while, its not something that I generally do mainly because I don’t lift content from other peoples sites but you know you can use that to make sure that you are not duplicating other sites too much as well.

[25:00] Rob: Yeah I think the speed thing is—people have talked about it, I think it might be underrated. I mean I do think you know Google uses more than a hundred factors they say to rank and speed is just one factor, but they have really been putting an emphasis on this. And I believe that as we move forward with the web like they are going to put even more of an emphasis on it. So I think its very important that your site loads quickly and all the stuff you said about broken links and all that is important and its something you can get if you get into the Google webmaster tools and you plunk your site in there and you verify that you own it they will start telling you things that they find wrong.

[25:35] So they will tell you about 404s, they n will tell you about missing CSS and JavaScript and all of that stuff. Definitely good to pay attention too and they also have an area that talks about page load speed and how fast your pages are taking to load and you can instantly, you know if stuff is slow you can then go download Why Slow or Fire Bug and just start trying to optimize certain pages of Google, especially your homepage and pages that get a lot of organic traffic. Bottom line is if you improve that, I mean that’s an on page factor and if you improve that speed you will improve your chance of ranking higher. They do give you tools to look at this stuff. Anything that starts appearing in the Google webmaster tools almost guaranteed they are using it as a ranking factor.

[26:16] Mike: So one thing that I really don’t like about the Google webmaster tools is that when they are identifying like broken links and stuff like that, when you go fix those you cant go into the Google webmaster tools and say, don’t show me these things anymore because I fixed them or tell it to go out and do a rescan or something like that so they drop off. They basically sit out there.

[26:37] Rob: I think they will drop off eventually right next time they spy at the site.

[26:40] Mike: I was doing a bunch of stuff and just using it to try and identify things and you know I never kind of went back and verified it. It’s been a while so I could probably go back and take a look at that. But my complaint is just that you cant just go in and say delete these I have taken care of it or please verify that this is still a problem.

[26:58] Rob: Right.

[27:00] Mike: The fifth thing that we came up with was developing good content. Make sure that the things you write are things that people are going to want to read because when people go searching on Google, Google will notice when somebody finds a web page, they click on a link and then they use the back button because that was not the site that they were actually looking for just in applying.

[27:18] Rob:  That’s insane but they totally do that and if you get a bunch of backs they swill drop your ranking. Search engines didn’t use to do that right, it didn’t actually look at user behavior and now they are doing that. So you can’t just write this crap content that no one wants to use because it will really impact your ranking negatively.

[27:31] Mike: Well the other thing is that somebody clicks on your link and it takes forever to load and you know it just shows up on the page but it’s taking forever to render for somebody they click back and that’s a mark against you. So you are getting nailed because your site wasn’t fast to begin with and that its getting dropped even further because you’ve got what Google refers to as a higher bounce rate. You know people go to your site and then they click the back button and then they go searching for other things, I guess the technical term for that is called the bounce rate. You are basically getting dinged twice there.

[28:01] One of the other things in terms of good content, you can do a blog but you don’t have to and Rob and I have both talked about this in the past, I mean in order to write a blog you really kind of need to be passionate about it, you know whatever that topic is there is got to be enough to write about. That’s probably more important than being passionate about it. You’ve got to have a decent amount of content that you can actually churn out for it. Because if you don’t you are going to turn out a bunch of stuff and then its going to end up stale and you have to make sure that at that point you don’t have dates all over the stuff that basically shows everybody that that’s stale content.

[28:31] Rob: Yeah I actually have some thoughts on that because I am running an experiment right now. So let me first differentiate between a personal brand blog and a corporate blog right?

[028:42] Mike: Yes.

[028:43] Rob: Like software by Rob and single founder for you, I mean I take guest posts sometimes. But I would not outsource the writing of that blog right, its me, it’s my voice there is a very specific reason. With an App like Hit tail or even you know Dot Net invoice or something, I am actually experimenting right now, I have hired two bloggers and they are experienced, they are knowledgeable, native English speakers they are knowledgeable on SEO conversion rates, search engine marketing and social media marketing, that kind of stuff. So it really is in the Hit Tail wheel house and they are not just kind of paid copy writers you know and they are not just people who crank out SEO articles for five bucks a pop.

[29:19] And these blog posts are going to cost me a decent chunk of change and I have two of them each working on two articles right now based on keywords that Hit Tail has given me. And I am going to have them start updating the blog basically alternating so each one will do one post a week. And depending on the traffic I see from that and the conversions I get from it I may have them you know each start doing once a week which would obviously have two updates a week.

[29:44] Now but I have see this done successfully, Kiss Metrics does a fantastic job if you to blog.kissmetrics.com there is maybe one post out of four or five is actually from a Kiss Metrics employee and its typically like the CEO. The others are either from, I think most of them are hired writers. They are solid material and not only are they good content but they get linked to, they get tweeted about and I know that they are getting organic search traffic for that. So there is an alternate approach right but it does take money especially to do it well. Again these are not $5 blog posts, these things are going to run depending on how long they are I mean they are going to run between 25 and 150 bucks per post.

[30:20] You either need you know some funding up front or you need to have some revenue in order to be able to get this going. In addition like you said if I owned a construction firm or a company that made parts for toilets or something like I wouldn’t have a blog. I mean maybe I would have one about preparing toilets but I wouldn’t—you can only write so much about certain topics. It just so happens that Kiss Metrics is in the conversion business and Hit Tail has a lot, there is always stuff to write about long tail SEO and getting traffic to your website and all that. So it does help to be in a niche where that actually makes sense where there is some organics traffic and where you know you can create a lot of content. But obviously I will keep you know listeners posted on how that experiment goes but so far it’s, you know, I am pretty optimistic.

[31:02] Mike: One of the questions I had for you Rob was that when you are developing content for your sites, Google seems like it prefers fresh content you know. And that’s why a lot if people’s advice is to, oh you got a website, make a blog you know because it seems logical I mean because Google is looking for fresh content. But do you think that something like rotating content helps in this regard because robots don’t necessarily know what the page is that they’re going to be viewing and they’re basically just getting a snapshot.

[31:31] They are not looking at a page and then seeing that oh this one little area of the site is different so I’m going to treat that as a different update from the last time I was here. Maybe they do differentials on the back end. I mean it’s hard to tell what Google is really doing. But do you think some of those things are minor updates between one query and the next from the robots are going to make a world of difference or no?

[31:54] Rob: So you mean if you have your homepage and then maybe on your sidebar you had like a little Twitter feed that feeds you Twitter content or even feed some recent blog posts there? Is that what you’re thinking?

[32:03] Mike: Yeah that’s, I mean that’s the first thing that came to mind. I’m also thinking of the things like some pages will have like rotating, not advertisements but you know it’s for your own products but its different things that you want to highlight about the products. And obviously you can only show one of them at a time when the browser loads, there’s JavaScript, it’s not going to turn the page while the robot is loading the page or anything. How much do you think that really affects it? I mean my inclination will be to not much.

[32:28] Rob: Yeah. So here’s the thing, if you have a homepage or you have kind of a higher traffic page, you want to focus that on some keywords that it ranks well for and you’re going to go out, you’re going to build links, these are the off page factors we’re not really going to talk about today. But you’re going to build links to that page, try to get people to link to it and you want that to be pretty static because those links contain link texts and you don’t want to necessarily start ranking for, try to rank for different stuff. And so once the text is static on that page and it ranks well, I tend to leave it alone, I don’t mark it with stuff. If you want to rank for different keywords or new keywords, that’s where I go out and I write a new blog post, a new article, something like that.

[33:03] So I know it’s talking about where you know having new content on your site makes Google crawl it more frequently is what happens. But I don’t think you want to change, I wouldn’t recommend changing content on a page. I would recommend just adding new pages like a blog does. A blog makes it really easy to just constantly add you know one or two pages a week and that will make Google come back more frequently and that’s again, supposedly one of the signals that use is, it has, if the site was updated last time four years ago, that’s the last time we saw a new page on it, it is likely going to rank lower than something that you know has a new article published every week that seems to be getting links and tweets about it.

[33:41] I think in the old days before the Caffeine updated a couple of years ago, it was more like the older your site, the better. But Google is doing more and more real time stuff. We’re using the Twitter fire host for a while, they don’t have it anymore but now they have the Google Plus stuff so they want more up-to-date quick often updated stuff. And so I do think there’s a value in having changing content on your site but it’s not changing a particular page, its more just new content or fresh content added as new pages.

[34:07] Mike: So I think that pretty much wraps it up for the five best things that we could come up with when it comes, to do when it comes to SEO. And again these are just the basics of you know on-page SEO and once you’ve got these basics down, you can concentrate on a lot of the off page factors such as building incoming links, using directory submission, writing articles and posting them on other sites or guest blog submissions, press releases things like that. But you basically have to have a site for people to link to that you’ve targeted for your users before you can start doing those off page factors. And you can do some of it at the same time but it’s a little bit more difficult when you don’t necessarily have pages where you can send people to from those articles or those guests’ posts.

[34:50] Rob: And obviously there is way more than we can cover on a single podcast. We do have several lessons in micropreneur.com the academy, that go into depth in terms of on page and off page factors. And you know obviously there are other resources across the web where you can get that kind of info as well.

[35:07] [Music]

[35:10] Rob: If you have a question or comment, please call into our voicemail number 888-801-9690 or you can email it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. The music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. And if you want to subscribe it as podcast, please log into iTunes and search for start ups. A full transcript will be available at our website startupsfortherestofus.com. Thanks for listening; we will see you next time.

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11 Responses to “Episode 69 | The First 5 SEO Steps for Any Website”

  1. Adam says:

    Great tips guys. This was an excellent podcast!

  2. Ryan says:

    Hey guys,
    Awesome episode. (Btw, congrats on the Hittail work, Rob).

    I’m the guy that tried to call you a few weeks ago. I’m sorry the connection was so lousy. I would call you back, but residential land lines pretty much don’t exist here in Shanghai, China!

    Anyway, my question is about pop-ups. I often see websites that use a quick pop-up to request new visitors join a mailing list. In your experience, have you found using these sorts of pop-ups to grow your overall number of subscribers?


    Keep on rocking in the free world,
    Ryan (Canadian)

  3. Allan says:

    I think the mp3 download link is broken

  4. Nick Burdick says:

    Hey Rob and Mike,

    Thank you so much for answering my question on the podcast, it was perfect. I think you definitely got to the heart of the matter. Keep up the great work!


  5. Rob says:

    @Ryan’s question above was:

    >>My question is about pop-ups. I often see websites that use a quick pop-up to request new visitors join a mailing list. In your experience, have you found using these sorts of pop-ups to grow your overall number of subscribers?

    They almost always improve conversion rates, but they are annoying to users. You have to weigh that out and decide for yourself if you want to use one. I specifically do not use one on any of my sites because I’m not a fan of how they make me feel as a website visitor.

  6. powell says:

    Great podcast, I have just started to listen to you (two podcasts so far).
    Why don’t you have any show notes under each podcast? You mention in the talk great tools that you use, it would be nice if these tools were listed somewhere. I am listening to the podcast on my way to work, when I am back home I can hardly remember what specific web or software tools you mentioned. I have to scan the transcript and do a Google search each time.
    Keep a good work and thanks,

    // powell

  7. powell says:

    O.K, now I see there are show notes on the top. But I have impression, that there were much more tools that you talked about.

  8. William says:

    Hi. First time visit. Honestly, that was some great stuff about SEO.

    I noticed one site rank high with a lot of keyword optimized pages that weren’t accessible from the actual site. They were like separate home pages for different keywords. Any ideas on that?

    Those educational pages seem like a, um, nicer idea though…


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