There are so many misconceptions when it comes to SEO – but it’s really quite simple when you boil it down. In this LIVE case study I will show how quickly I can rank a brand new website – all the while debunking the Google Sandbox theory in the case of a previously registered domain.
Listed below are the exact tasks I’ve completed to date, along with the timeline. Feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback you might have.
I’ve also setup an e-mail list to keep you posted with significant ranking increases – subscribe now!
- Registered domain freeseoreport.ca
- Setup domain hosting account on my VPS.
- Setup CloudFlare content delivery network. Signed up for the ‘Free’ plan. Configured caching and speed settings (ie set cache/minification/rocket loader etc.)
- Download Theme from Themeforest (used static html over WordPress CMS for faster load times.) The theme I used was only $16 and was pretty fast out of the box.
- Keyword research. OK so it wasn’t THAT extensive, but I knew the obvious ones (seo report, free seo report) but there were additional long tail keywords I wanted to target. By using Keyword Researcher I easily grabbed all of the keywords I couldn’t think of (grabs data from variety of sources including Google Autocorrect.)
- Created unique content (approx 500 words.)
- I’m using the MySiteAuditor plugin to generate instant SEO reports and track leads. This tool is FANTASTIC. It generates a comprehensive SEO report complete with an “SEO score” along with actionable tasks AND has built-in auto-responders and lead management. We have been using it for nearly two years and closed countless deals based on those reports alone.
- Optimize on-page using Gtmetrix as a reference. Most of the optimization is pretty simple – done via Cloudflare and the .htaccess file. Below i’ve included the exact .htaccess settings (note this will only work on an Apache server and it’s been configured to work WITH CloudFlare Flexible SSL) – and yes I know this is looong but it will come in pretty handy for optimizing your site.
NOTE: if you are using WordPress or any other CMS that relies on an htaccess DON’T USE THIS CODE! You will break your CMS. I recommend only every making changes to your .htaccess if you truly know what you are doing. Use the code below at your own risk. Click here for the code.
Here are my GTmetrix ratings after the optimizations.
- Configured website to use SSL (with STS) via Cloudflare
- Placed 2 PBN links – one branded anchor using image TF (Trust Flow – a Majestic metric) 17 “freeseoreport.ca”, one exact match anchor text TF 16 “free seo report”
- 1 high TF link – image on homepage TF 43 exact match anchor text “seo report” on topically relevant domain (real brand domain with great metrics and high traffic)
- Order 300 social signals from PBN Butler to boost social signals (ie look like natural interest in new company)
- 1 contextual exact match anchor text: “free seo report” on TF 32 topically relevant domain (brand domain with good local metrics and low traffic)
UPDATE: now ranking #52 for “free seo report” and #84 for “seo report”. Even ranking #6 for “freeseoreport” which gets 30 ms. Not bad 9 days. Exciting stuff!
*note there was a website on this domain previously — last indexed on 11/2/2014.
- Setup Google Search Console and linked to Google Analytics
- Setup Google AdWords campaign for my main keywords – only $5/daily budget
UPDATE: Just hit #18 (page 2) for “free seo report” — a term with 880 monthly searches. I anticipate it to fluctuate over the next while. Downside … “seo report” dropped to page 9, but I see it driving back up in the near future.
UPDATE: I’ve let it sit for a few days, and actually generated 4 leads so far. Now ranking #15 for “free seo report” and #29 (page 3) for “seo report”, a term with 4,400 ms.
AdWords Stats (to date): 11 clicks – 2,482 impressions – 0.44% CTR (kinda low) – CA$1.73 CPC – CA$18.98 total ad spend
How about integrating a little old school marketing into the mix? To help drive additional traffic to the domain I have printed out 100 postcards (see below) which we will be distributing at a networking event this evening. Now we will (hopefully) drive some direct traffic and generate more leads.
Now that I’ve shared it on Facebook & LinkedIn there have been another 7 audit requests! They’re rolling in… Next step will be an e-mail blast to our targeted list of 750+ local contacts. My goal is to drive traffic and engagement on the site as much as possible.
As of today the site is not showing any organic rankings via SEMRUsh but it is showing some ads traffic (from the AdWords campaign.)
UPDATE: So I’ve been pretty busy this week so I’ve let the site sit without a ton of action. I placed another link to the site — this one a TF 35 homepage link from business-related topical flow domain. I used the naked url as the anchor text.
After a few days (and much more traffic) the site is now ranking on page 2 – #13 for “free seo report” and #14 for “seo report” in Canada. Mid-second page for both my money terms. Also there have been 17 reports generated in the past week (although only about 2-3 are actually good quality leads.) Either way at an ad spend of only $35 to date I’m pretty happy with the progress.
I’ll slowly keep dropping some powerful links — but not too fast — to keep the link velocity within reason. I want this website to stick around long term. Going to hard too fast could end up backfiring. I’m also considering adding a blog to increase the on-site content.
Here is my plan for this week (and beyond):
- Add 2 high tf (30+) links – I’m thinking one contextual link and one image link.
- Create WP blog in subdirectory (ie /blog/) and add 2-3 750+ word articles.
- Remarketing campaign. Why not target those who have completed an audit with ads that are promoting another free service — rank/analytics tracking, perhaps? Or simply promote our SEO services. Gonna think on this one but will be a good way to drive return visitors at a reduced rate. I’m a huge fan of remarketing.
- Considering a video for either a “How it Works” page or the homepage. Then I can setup a “branded” YouTube channel and embed the video on-site.
- Creating a custom script (new lead webhook) that places new leads into Salesforce (thanks to Salesforce Consulting Group for the tip!)
Just hit #11 for “free seo report”. Almost there. A mix of personal links plus some from Backlink.ninja are working nicely together.
Success! In 3 weeks we have ranked on the 1st page for our money keywords in Canada! Now time to drive up to the #1 spot. Also I am going to be starting with next live case study – Ranking a brand new domain/Shopify Store.
SERPBook shows the same results.
The keywords have continued to drive up — ranking #4 now for “seo report” and #7 for “free seo report”. Even Bing (Canada) has started ranking my site, #2 for “free seo report”. I’m actually beating out Woorank in a couple search terms on both Google and Bing.
**FINAL UPDATE** Now ranking #2 in Canada for “seo report” and “free seo report”. Coincidentally ranking in the UK, Australia and US for those keywords as well.
I’ve also done further customization to the lead process which now puts the keyword (in addition to name, phone number, and email) into Salesforce when an audit is generated. It also e-mails the visitor a copy of the SEO audit as well. I’ve had well over 60 leads from this site in the past month (on 603 visits), which means the site generates 2 leads per day on average with a 10% conversion rate. There is a lot of filtering of web designers testing their seo for clients (which you need to have an eye to detect sometimes) but there are some good leads that have come through. I won’t be posting any more updates on this case study – hope you enjoyed it!