How to Build an SEO Launchpad

CEOs and marketers have little choice but to stay up to date with new technology and strategies. Check your LinkedIn and you’ll find swathes of gurus all telling you how there’s some new thing that you should be doing.

It’s extremely easy to get caught in the loop of new and more.

So why when it comes to marketing, are we always sold the story of more?

Specific to SEO, we’re almost always told that we need more blog content and more backlinks. But what about what you already have?

At this point in my career, I’ve built, bought or sold over $2 million worth of websites. Organic search, thanks to SEO, has been the core source of traffic for each of them. Some of these websites had fewer than 50 pages, products or blog posts, while others hundreds of thousands.

Outside of assets that I’ve either owned or controlled, as an SEO consultant, I’ve helped over 100 different brands with their SEO campaigns. While no campaign is identical, there are many recurring themes, no matter the industry.

Every single one of these websites has seen repeated critical analysis. At this point, I’ve literally made a career out of “cleaning up” websites.

I’m about to reveal how you can get maximum ROI from your marketing budget. When compared with publishing new content or building new backlinks, this strategy is a clear winner.

Dialed Labs’ SEO ethos

What was once considered innovative and cutting edge in SEO is now repeated by everyone. “Publish quality content” and “build your domain authority“. As general advice, it’s correct, but let’s be real, it’s pretty general. There’s no competitive edge here.

I can show you hundreds of websites with “quality content” and a “high authority”, that get little traffic from Google. These two things in isolation will only get you so far.

At Dialed Labs, we focus on:

  • keeping your website as compact as possible,
  • ensuring it’s technical soundness at all times,
  • maintaining site-wide content quality,
  • implementing effective internal linking,
  • maximizing the historical value of your website.

We do this, because it’s the simplest approach.

Simple is good

The SEO industry seems to thrive on making things unnecessarily complex. Don’t get us wrong — search engines are very complex. But that doesn’t mean you need to be equally as complex with the way your company’s website is run.

Ask any business owner if they would prefer to make $1 million each year with 1,000 staff, or that same amount with only 10 people. Few would opt for an unnecessarily large team, unless it’s part of a massive growth project.

Maybe you work for an ecommerce brand. Would you prefer to sell 10 units of your 5,000 SKU product range each month, or 2,000 sales of each of your 25 SKUs? The latter has lower inventory costs, better economies of scale in engineering and manufacturing, and is simpler to market or advertise.

So, would you prefer a website with 900 blog posts and 100 products that generates $800,000 in revenue each month, or the same revenue from 160 blog posts, 30 products, and 10 collection pages?

The answer might not be obvious to you, but as someone that has managed some huge sites, I can confirm that problems can scale just as well as website traffic does.

Content gets dated, images break, redirects stop working, websites you’re linking to go offline, the video you embedded gets removed and now you have an ugly white box in the middle of your content. The larger your site, the greater the overhead in managing all of this.

So what’s the right path?

We strongly encourage our clients to focus on what they control first, before investing time to resources into off-site marketing, which they likely only have partial control over.

It’s not new and exciting, and it’s not always a well-received approach. Ethically however, we know it’s the best thing for our clients.

Let’s take a look at some common steps in the Dialed Labs process.

Hidden link building

Backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO. They’re what Google’s algorithm was built on, and it’s clear that authority from backlinks are still a huge signal today.

You need links to rank.

But new link building often involves strategies that are far from ethical. And though you can work with companies like us to build new links in a natural, ethical manner, there are still challenges.

First of all, backlinks worth having aren’t cheap. Websites open to including them have become used to accepting payment for “placements” or a “product review”. To land a link in a publication for free, a lot of labor goes into making it happen. Both methods become equally expensive.

Even with a big budget, though, there’s the question of time. Great opportunities don’t come about every day, meaning it can be difficult to scale a link building campaign.

Instead, you need to wait at least 6 months, if not a year (or more, depending on your niche) for them to really compound and for your website to start winning rankings in Google.

By comparison, “hidden link building” gives you a competitive advantage by:

  • giving your site a big boost in authority,
  • being able to be completed over a short-term project, often 30-90 days,
  • it’s 100% compliant with Google’s quality guidelines,
  • allowing your (or your SEO agency) 100% control over which links are used,
  • enabling control over where on your site these links are sent,
  • saving at least 85% versus the cost of a new link building campaign,
  • taking only 30 minutes of your time.

Imagine making 3 years of progress in only 2 months, for 15% of the cost. 🤯

Due to the control we have in using this strategy, it’s the first thing we check for every new client, and something we monitor for the duration of their campaign.

The process is simple, albeit time consuming. We find every web page linking to your site, and check to see if people (and search engines) clicking those links are getting lost. This is usually in the form of a “404 not found” error page.

Instead, we identify the most relevant and valuable page to send people and the SEO value of those links.

Technical SEO overhaul

With a strong domain thanks to the hidden link building that you’ve done, the next thing to do is give your website a thorough technical SEO audit.

As websites grow more complex, so too do these audits. This topic is a blog post in itself, but at a high level the focus is on:

  • Indexability: allowing Google to use your content in their search results, excluding anything that shouldn’t, and telling them which pages are the correct ones to use in their results.
  • Links: broken internal links, external links, and how they are all attributed.
  • Redirects: avoiding long chains, broken redirects, using correct status codes, and otherwise trying to keep things simple for bots.
  • Content: checking for correct usage of tags, like titles, meta descriptions and headings, as well as low word counts.
  • Social tags: ensuring that “Open Graph” and Twitter cards are in use and correctly configured.
  • Localization: being sure to detail the language or region of every URL on your website, and correctly reference content in different languages.
  • Usability and performance: ensuring that your target audience can load your site in a reasonable timeframe, without accidentally clicking on the wrong thing, increasing the time and actions that they take on your site.
  • Images: simple, yet often negative things like enormous file sizes, broken images, redirects in filenames or no alt text.
  • JavaScript: broken code, missing files and redirects.
  • CSS: similar to JS, with broken code, missing files, redirects as well as very large file sizes.
  • Sitemaps: being in the wrong format or too large, missing entirely, missing key pages, or directing Google to pages that you don’t want to be indexed, having redirects present and so on.

It’s not uncommon to discover that sites, which earn a good amount of traffic from Google each month, are still technically flawed.

A website like this is similar to driving a car with the handbrake on. It’s still moving forward, but the car’s components are working much harder than they should.

You’re investing more in content, links and other forms of marketing. This piece of the puzzle can unlock the real potential of your company’s website. Better rankings, more traffic and greater revenue are what follow.

Content audit and consolidation

At this point, your website provides a solid foundation, packed with authority and technically sound. Now we want to make it as potent, yet simple as possible.

When developing a strategy to gain more traffic from Organic Search, we need to ask a lot of questions. Unfortunately, when asking those questions in general terms, the answer regularly begins with “it depends”.

Ranking your website for a specific, high value keyword may require a few backlinks, or many. Generally though, the more pages, products or blog posts your site has, the more backlinks you’ll need.

If we think of it as a “content to links ratio” where you have:

  • 900 blog posts, 100 product pages and 1,000 backlinks, your ratio is 1:1
  • 160 blog posts, 30 products, 10 collection pages and 1,000 backlinks, your ratio is 5:1

If your website’s ratio is 5:1 while your competition’s is 1:1, you’ll have a much greater chance of winning.

This isn’t the only reason we do this however. A simple website is also easier for your content manager to work on, cheaper to operate, and easier for your target audience to navigate.

To achieve this, we take a critical view of all of the content on your website. Using data from Google Analytics, we identify pages that receive traffic through Social, Referrals, Paid Search and so on. These are automatically flagged to remain on your site, as they provide an important purpose.

Then, adding in data from Ahrefs and Google Search Console, we audit all remaining content.

We want to identify content that needs to be:

  • deleted: very low value and non-performing content that provides no benefit and no upside,
  • deleted and redirected: when the URL has valuable backlinks, but the content itself isn’t valuable, we delete the content and redirect the backlink value to other relevant content,
  • rewritten: when the topic of the content shows promise, but the existing content needs to be completely replaced,
  • optimized: in situations when the content is performing well in Google, but isn’t in the top 8 results,
  • linked: for optimized content in the top 8 which needs either internal or external links sent to it, and
  • left alone: content that is ranking in the top 3 of Google isn’t broken, so we don’t fix it.

Our entire goal from this exercise is to increase the potency of your site, maximizing the value of your backlinks and content. Even more valuable, if you think about rating your entire site with a “content score”, by removing the dead wood we’re elevating that score. Every application of this strategy has, time and again, been well received by Google.

You don’t need to have a small website to use this strategy. Maybe reducing your 250,000 page site down to 200,000 pages could be all you need.

Because it’s only non-performing content being deleted, your overall traffic won’t drop at all. In many cases, even before beginning the other actions from our audit, deleting and redirecting content from your site actually gives a boost in search rankings, and Organic Search traffic.

Internal link optimization

By now, the content across your site meets a consistent standard, with no technical issues holding it back, and you have established significant authority.

The last piece of this puzzle is to maximize the benefit of everything you already have. By performing internal link optimization within your website’s content, we:

  • help people to discover other, relevant content on your website,
  • help people to stay on your website for as long as possible (which Google loves),
  • help people to move through the marketing funnel, closer to a conversion,
  • help Google to understand the relevancy and topic of your content,
  • help Google to discover all of the content on your website,
  • help to send the value of past backlinks from one page to another, and so on.

It’s simple, and it works.

We’re not in the business of brute forcing Google into ranking your website #1. That rarely works over the long-term. Instead, by helping Google to understand what your content is about, and later helping them to validate their assumptions, rankings improve site-wide.

This type of work is usually enough to bring content from position 33 to 9. It also helps content to jump from position 6 to 1. Zoom out to view your whole site’s performance, and you’ll see more of your content indexed, ranking better, and bringing in more visitors.

Your very own SEO launchpad

For some businesses, every possible opportunity to attract Organic Search traffic will have been exploited at this point, but for most, it’s just the beginning.

There are often gaps in your content which can be filled. Or opportunities to win even better backlinks to your most valuable pages.

Maybe entire new categories of blog content can be covered, or by re-sorting your product range into new collections, you can tap into an audience of high value, bottom-of-the-funnel buyers.

This is how you make real progress in SEO, instead of being on the hamster wheel of more content and more links, without taking the time to protect and take full advantage of everything your company has built so far.

By being sure that your website is resilient and strong instead of sabotaging your marketing efforts you know what future investment in content and other forms of marketing will fully benefit your company.