I’ve been reading about Search Engine Optimization / SEO for years. I know the basics about keywords, links, social media relevance, website history, speed, and so forth. I know that backlinks aren’t everything, and that Google is getting really good at figuring out what “good content” is. I have never, however, scientifically and systematically taken on the challenge of getting to the first page of a Google search. Now that I’m dedicated to Trails again, there’s no better time to get serious.
What am I up against?
I just filtered through the first 23 pages of Google results for time tracking and found NO mentions of Trails. You know why? I just did a crawl of the Trails.es homepage and found NO mention of “time tracking.” Yep. That’s right. That shows you how naive I was when I wrote the copy for that page. It’s all up from here! When it comes to page rank, Toggl is killing it. They’re the first result for “time tracking.”
My first inclination is to look at some of their code:
<title>Toggl - Time tracking that works</title> <meta name=”Description” content=”Toggl is an online time tracking tool. It features 1-click time tracking and helps you see where your time goes. Free and paid versions are available.”/> <meta name=”Keywords” content=”time tracking, time tracking tool, online time tracking, free time tracking, 1-click time tracking, productivity tools, time tracker, timetracker, time tracker software, timetracking”/> The keywords “time tracking” appear eight times in total, counting both title and meta tags. What about the rest of the code? On their homepage, you can find four more instances of “time tracking.” Nice. That’s 12 in total.
What about other stats? Right now I see that @toggldevel has a reasonable 1,810 followers and 1,399 tweets. For a simple time tracking tool in a saturated niche market, those are good stats in my eyes.
After some inspiration from one of Neil Patel’s latest posts, 5 SEO Mistakes That Even Experts Miss, I dove deeper to find some answers to my challenge. Neil was inspired by this SEOmoz post about Doctor650, an experimental site that SEOmoz created as a study of Google’s new Penguin algorithm. With the target keywords “650 Credit Score” in mind, Court from SEOmoz set out to discover facts behind the new algorithm. Looking at the code on the homepage, I noticed that there are 6 instances of “650 credit score” and 20 instances of just “credit score.”
Meta tags and clever titles don’t matter much. Overloading them with keywords is probably not the best idea. Through the service Court co-founded, PostRunner, he wrote some guest posts on other blogs to get some traffic to the site, threw up a simple YouTube video and “53 days after [he] ‘launched’ the site – the site popped up at #4 in Google for ‘650 credit score’.”
I need to start guest posting on other blogs to get incoming links for Trails and this blog. Court got to #2 on Google (fluctuating between #2 and #4) through incoming links from his guest blog posts and keyword relevancy. That’s it. No social media presence, no anchor text tricks in his links, not because of internal links on his site, and not because he had the 650doctor.com domain for years (it was freshly purchased). Furthermore, he was able to accomplish all of this in a spam-rich niche with tons of competition.
Optimize the Trails homepage for “time tracking” and write some guest blog posts to drive traffic to this blog and the product homepage. While doing that, I’ll continue to tweet and optimize things like performance. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of building a great product!