Advanced SEO in 60 Minutes with Mad Lemmings: Webinar

Advanced SEO in 60 Minutes

with Mad Lemmings

Organic traffic achieved through SEO is still the backbone of any website's success. In this webinar you can learn from Ashley Faulkes about all of the SEO pitfalls and best practices your business needs right now.

SEO That Brings You Customers:

Practical Insights for You to Rank

With Ashley Faulkes the founder and CEO of Mad Lemmings

Ashley is an experienced marketer and developer. Right now he concentrates on SEO, and WordPress to bring his clients best results possible.

You’ll Learn:

  • Success stories when SEO worked even better than expected
  • SEO best practices that help businesses grow
  • How to convert people who found you in search into Customers

Full transcript:

Jeff Bell: Hi! I’m Jeff bell from Startup Hub, free educational project by TemplateMonster.

Welcome to our free webinar with Ashley Faulkes, a.k.a Mad Lemmings. He’s a true specialist in SEO and WordPress. He helps websites both look good and rank good in Google. So, hi, Ashley!

Ashley Faulkes: Hey, Jeff, thanks for having me.
Jeff Bell: What are the key factors that influence the search engine rankings of a website in 2016?
Ashley Faulkes: Yeah, things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. it’s not like it used to be. I mean it used to be just about links at websites and just rank with spammy stuff and tons of links. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Google’s smarter than that. So it’s a good question. What I normally tell people these days is actually what you hear a lot of is that you’re writing for people and the search engines are following that trend so by saying you’re writing for people, you’re also writing for Google. Cause Google becomes more like a person in a way that machine can become like a person.

So rather than try and stuff your articles with keywords, you should write on topics and naturally write your content. And the keywords will find their way into the content. So keywords are still important but before you needed to put them in your article 50 times, now you really need 4-5 times and actually you shouldn’t do a lot more that that if possible. And than you should write the best content possible. Which can help you get ranked, Google likes longer content, a lot of statistics have come out in the last year or so about longer content that ranks better. If you look at stuff like Brian Dean, Neil Patel, they write huge stuff.

Let’s not say that if something is long it will rank but if it’s longer it tends to be more helpful so it should be longer because it’s helpful not just because it’s long. So good useful content, content that helps your users, still doing keyword research, more visual content. So your content shouldn’t just be text, it should have images, videos, slides, links to other useful websites.

And actually the key to any business which is what we should start with is that your keywords and your topic should be useful for you. There is no point in me writing a topic like I used to on social media for example and spending a lot of time writing topics on Twitter when actually my specialty is SEO and WordPress so I want to get customers who care about that. So I should be writing more on those topics. And that’s a mistake we all make. Write on topics that help your business.

Jeff Bell: If you’re working in a highly compatible niche like web design, where competition for each keyword is fierce what are the ways to rank anyway?
Ashley Faulkes: That’s always the most difficult question and I’ve had some clients in marketing last year and the year before when I was working for a social media tool company. And what we did at that time and what i think is still applicable is to look for holes in the market. You’re looking for words that nobody has really thought about. You have to do a lot more keyword research. And find things that the big guys haven’t found yet. You got to kind of get creative.

But really the key there is going for longer tail keywords. Which are, if you’re not aware of those are three-four-five word searches. Cause they don’t get volume. The trick is that once you write on the topic, you may find that you’re actually starting to rank for words you didn’t think of. Sometimes focusing too much on keyword research and making sure there is volume before you write anything is also shooting yourself in the foot. Cause sometimes you rank for stuff you didn’t realize you were going to rank for. It’s kind of a catch 22, but yeah, you can’t rank for social media, you can’t rank for SEO, you can’t rank for web design – there is no way.

So you have to look for longer tail keywords and topics around your topics around web design. Maybe you’ll write about the best fonts for a website or the best color matching for the real estate website or something like that instead of “best web design” which you’re never going to rank for. You have to get creative and use long tail keywords.

Jeff Bell: Do you recommend optimizing a piece of content for one keyword or take several and try to rank for all of them?
Ashley Faulkes: When you’re creating a piece of content you can go about two. Sometimes I write something just because I want to write about it and don’t worry about keywords and getting ranked but generally I do, I research most topics. What I do, I start with an idea and go to keyword planner and I get an idea of whether the topic that I’m thinking of has keywrods exactly on the words I was thinking about or similar. Because sometimes what you’re thinking is a topic not something anyone cares about, not something anybody is looking for. You kind of have to go, okay, maybe this is great for social media. But after social media dies, i’m not going to get any search traffic. That can also work.

But you need to go on and do the research, find the keywords and narrow it down to the topic. So always talking about topics. You don’t want to write about one keyword, although that’s okay. You want to write around the topic, so keywords are giving you ideas for content. Example was color schemes for real estate websites. So you could write best color schemes for color estate websites. How to pick colors for real estate websites, what color should my real estate website be. All of those phrases could rank. But your topic would be choosing colors for real estate websites. So you look at one keyword and write around topic.

Jeff Bell: A lot of beginners are skeptical about SEO. Can you share a success story where SEO worked even better than you expected?
Ashley Faulkes: I’ve got a lot of clients like that. A lot of my clients results surprise me. Even as an SEO, you’re never sure something’s going to work. So any SEO that tells you they can get you on page #1 no problem is usually lying. So SEO is an unsure thing but usually if you do the right things and you pick the right keywords and you get the right kinds of content and links, you can rank. I had a couple of clients, one was last year. She started a website in an industry around insects, the eating of insects, that’s becoming more of a thing, you might have noticed. In the States you can buy stuff like insect protein. So I got this topic from her and I started thinking where we could get keywords that would rank and also get her traffic.

Once we started, it plateaued a little after a while but your rankings and keyword just shut off in the first three months like crazy, I mean, it was a small niche it wasn’t thousands and thousands, but she’s ranking in the top 10 for tons of keywords. And her website started at absolutely zero. So she went from being nobody to being one of the top people in that niche. Because we strategically chose the right topics that she could rank for even without a huge amount of links and any authority.

So you have to start low and start with longer keywords. Work your way up the ladder. Once you start getting links you can move up. I mean like Mad Lemmings, my website, it started 3 years ago, it was zero and I couldn’t rank for anything. Now I can rank for keywords on at least page two without much effort and sometimes page 1, depending on a keyword as I’ve started to get links. So it takes time but it’s possible.

Jeff Bell: What are the best strategies to build your domain authority?
Ashley Faulkes: Domain authority, for people who don’t know what it is. The idea is that your website has certain amount of power, or SEO power as I like to call it and that enables you to get higher in Google. And in general that power comes from the links to your website. And the more powerful websites are linking to you, the more power you become. Other people call this link juice or page rank. Basically as you start to get links from more websites and more powerful websites, as people start to notice you, your website will slowly move up in the rankings. And what you really need to do when you have zero ranking when you start. And I’ve had a lot of clients like this.

What we do to begin with, you need to get all the basic links. All the links from social media which don’t do a lot for you, but you need to get them. You need to go out and get links from Google Business, Google Maps, directories from your niche. Don’t go out and get a thousand links from directories, just a few, the main directories in your niche, the business directories in your area if you’re a local business. And if you need to start getting links from other websites. Now, if you can’t hit them because you don’t know anybody, you don’t have any way of getting them, the best thing you can do is to start to guest post.

You can go and check out Buffer. That’s how Buffer became who they are. And a lot of really good websites are doing the same thing. So for the beginning create a few blog posts on your own site and spend time on guest posting. Because if you’re creating content on your own site and you get zero traffic, what’s the point. So you might as well spend time you were going to write your own post and go and write it for somebody else. So start guest posting. That’s really the main thing that I do for all my clients. And I recommend that anybody does.

Jeff Bell: You mentioned clients. And our clients are usually small biz owners. Do they absolutely need to hire a copywriter or can just a regular person like the one you mentioned before guest post somewhere.
Ashley Faulkes: In general the quality of guest posting is very bad. I get like 5 a week. And thinking about just turning it off and deleting them all. Cause even the pitches..All you really need to do is write a really good guest post pitch. Which means knowing the blog. At least have a look at the blog and know what the topic of the blog is and at least read a few posts. And give them suggestions of what you’re going to write for them and show them a few things that you’ve written already.

But do you need to be a specialist, do you need to be awesome? No. But your English or whatever language you’re going to be writing in needs to be reasonably correct. If you’re not a native speaker, get somebody to check it. Because if I get posts that are really horribly written I’m doubting the person can fix it so I’m going to have to fix it, in which case I might as well have written it myself. And I might as well just say no, thanks.

Your posts need to be reasonable. The don’t need to be awesome. But don’t aim for the top blogs in your niche today, aim for the bottom or middle and then as your reputation builds you can move on to the higher blogs. Because they usually don’t accept you if you don’t have a reputation. That’s more what it’s about than anything else.

Jeff Bell: It’s a pity it’s not about the quality of the content.
Ashley Faulkes: It becomes like this. As you become known, you build up your reputation, your experience and your skills build up, I can go and check you out. And actually all of the big guys won’t accept small posts, they won’t accept crappy posts. Or they check you out and they won’t accept you at all. It becomes about quality but kind of indirectly.
Jeff Bell: What is in your personal SEO checklist you go through before you publish a new article?
Ashley Faulkes: I have two and both of them are in my head. You can go on my website and check them out. One of them I just released today because i was doing this webinar. It’s my top to bottom ranking checklist. All the things that I do to rank a website or a piece of content. What I do in general…there’s this really tiny SEO part and the general – it’s not all about SEO part. Even though SEO is more of a holistic idea these days. Basically it starts with getting the right topic.

Not just writing something cause you feel like it but writing because you know that your customers, people, who are going to pay you money care about that. If you’re a blogger, that’s someone who’s going to buy your course, apply for your affiliate product or whatever it is that you’re selling, look at your ads. If you’re someone like TemplateMonster, that’s people, who are going to buy your themes. If that’s a business like mine it’s people who need SEO or web design.

You need to start thinking about what are they looking for online. Once you have an idea, you do your keyword research, than you check whether or not you can possibly rank for that keyword, so go ahead and take a look at Google and see who is ranking for it. If the top ten are really big then forget it. You’re not going to get there. At least if you’re not one of the top ten which takes many years.

Once you figured out whether you can rank and whether it’s worth writing an article you have to write something reasonably long. We’re talking a thousand words approximately as a minimum. You don’t have to write it long just for the sake of it. But try and make it as detailed as possible. And you can see the post I wrote last week about nofollow links in SEO and this kind of thing. I tool every aspect I can find and wrote a long post on it. It’s not huge – 12-14 hundred words but it’s very comprehensive. It goes from a to z on the topic. There wasn’t much more I could write on that. Then you’re going to start promoting it.

So social media, groups, your email list if you have one. Reaching out to people that you mentioned in your blog post. And then you got to sit back and see what happens. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months. See where blog post kind of settles in the rankings. And then if you’re not happy with it or you have time to spend on it, you can start to get links to it. Which is a whole other topic. That’s the a to z of what i do from beginning to end.

Jeff Bell: What are the tools that you use for SEO on most often? Like does Keyword Planner show bigger numbers than they are in reality?
Ashley Faulkes: I would actually say it shows smaller numbers. I was just doing some old post yesterday which are ranking for words that I didn’t expect so I was reshooting the post on those keywords. Which is another cool thing you should always do. Periodically get your top posts and try to get them ranking even higher. The stuff in there is getting 30-50 searches a month which isn’t a lot, but if you get 20 of those that’s a thousand. So smaller keywords are worth worrying about. And if I type those into Keyword Planner they come up zero.

So Google doesn’t show them. So you have to be careful worrying about tools. But. Keyword Planner is the first place that I go to. To see what kind of topics people are searching for. Maybe I should change my angle a little bit. Maybe there’s more volume or an idea related that i didn’t think about. And then once I have that I go and look at other tools. Like SEMrush for what some of my competition is ranking for or people who are already ranking on page 1 for those terms. I go and try to borrow their keywords. Competitive research.

Another way is you can use a tool called Ahrefs. But many people won’t have access to these but you can get a free trial. And they give you tons of data on keywords, competitive research, content, a whole bunch of stuff. I’m lucky enough to have access to that but not everybody does. If you don’t I would go and take a look at something like Ubersuggests. Which goes in and gives ideas based on when you type keywords Google you always have those suggestions popping up.

They are actually based on real searches. They are not just random ideas. They are things that people are looking for. So if you start typing in the beginning of a search what you’re thinking about it’ll start giving you other ideas, things you can write about. So Ubersuggests takes this whole thing and gives you a list alphabetically and gives you all the alternatives.

And there’s another one called Soovle which takes that idea into Youtube, Amazon and gives you a whole bunch of keywords. Gives you an idea of what are the other words people are using on the internet. And than you can put them back into the Keyword Planner to see if there’s volume. That’s for keyword research and competitive research and link building research. These are the three-four main tools that I use. Unfortunately you have to pay for a lot of them.Keyword Planner is now a little bit harder to get into. You give a credit card and start a campaign. But it’s still free, yes.

Jeff Bell: Everyone on the web is tired of boring featured images on the posts. Usually there’s a laptop, a cup of coffee and a notebook on every second post out there. You use unconventional featured images on your articles, do you have any data on how good this approach works?
Ashley Faulkes: I’ve never measured it, I should be measuring though.What it did for me, I was mentioned in a number with some top people like Rebekah Radice, round up of people who do visual posts and there a bunch of others. There’s a bunch of us who sort of do it and know that each other does it. And a lot of people don’t do it. They don’t have a consistent color scheme, consistent font or they don’t do images that stand out. So I typically do stuff that stands out.

And Pinterest is probably my second biggest traffic source after Google probably because of that. If you think Pinterest is a waste of time cause it’s “only for chicks, it’s only dresses and household” than you’ve got the wrong idea. If you go on Pinterest now as a marketer, I mean you can go there for anything – accounting, or anything. I call it the new SEO. It’s worth looking at Pinterest and groups. I get thousands of visits from Pinterest. If you have good, not boring images that stand out. Obviously people notice them. Yeah, it’s worth looking into.

Jeff Bell: What does a first-time website owner need to know about optimizing images for search engines?
Ashley Faulkes: Honestly, images are not something i would worry too much about in SEO but you can optimize them. I have a post on it. If you’re interested you can just Google Mad Lemmings Images. And it’ll come up. Basically the main things you need to worry about is probably the file name. The keyword should be in the file name and it should be separated by minuses or dashes not underscores – Google prefers that. You should fill out the alt text of the image.

If you’re using WordPress that’s really easy. If you’re not, i don’t know how you do it, but you should do it. And typically I copy the title of my blog post in there because it’s usually the keyword focused and that’s what Google is going to look at. Especially in the first image. It should be keyword focused. And Pinterest which is the side topic we were talking about, defaults to taking the alt text. So if your alt text is garbage all of your pins descriptions on Pinterest will have garbage descriptions.

Always do your alt text. After that image size is really important. Mainly for website speed. It’s the #1 killer of website speed. Uploading your pictures and not looking how big they are you’re making a huge mistake. One of my clients has done this and I had to go back and fix it. It can really, really, really kill your website.

Jeff Bell: What’s the optimal image size?
Ashley Faulkes: If your image is as wide as your blog post which is about a 1000-1200 pixels the estimate would be about 100-150 kilobytes. If it’s any bigger than that and it’s not used for a background or a massive header or something I would be asking questions. Because you have a big problem. If it’s a megabyte it’s really killing your website. You don’t even realize. If you’re loading your website on your own PC you won’t even know cause it’s already on your PC so you’re not loading it, you don’t know how slow it is. It can be 5-6-7 seconds. So optimize your images – really important.
Jeff Bell: Does good SMM help you rank better in search engines? If yes, how?
Ashley Faulkes: The official take on that from all the SEO gurus like Moz and all of these guys is that social media does not directly help rank your SEO. However if you’re not using social media you’re going to have a few problems. Because, firstly no one is going to hear about your content. So it’s going to be really hard to get it shared, get it linked, get it read by anybody. And these days Google is looking at whether or not people are looking for your content, staying on your content.

And often they aren’t going to find your content unless they’ve seen it on Twitter or on Google+, Pinterest. Cause Google is crawling those websites. So it indirectly helps like that. Of course you can get links cause people will see your content. And if it’s really good, they might link to it. And we were just talking about it before the show, my post from today just got shared by Social Media Examiner and my traffic just skyrocketed.

That’s because I’m connected on social media with some people who are connected with Social Media Examiner and they’ve obviously found my post. So who knows what will happen to that post. That was not intentional but you never know what will happen. You should always be trying to build your social media profile even if it’s slow. Because Google and everybody is watching social media. Don’t spend days on it, even if it’s like 15 minutes a day, you should be building at least one social media channel.

Jeff Bell: If you’re a writer and your posts rank well, how important is it to have good design on your website?
Ashley Faulkes: I mean ultimately, no but it’s not something that you can really measure. It doesn’t have to be the most beautiful thing in the world but the more easy it is to use and the more pleasurable it is to use the more people are going to stay on your website. And search engines are watching that. And if we didn’t care about search engines. If your website really sucks and no one can find anything, can’t see where the links are, and everything is squashed together, they get sore eyes trying to read it then they’re not going to buy anything from you. I’ve been on websites, even some clients of mine, i won’t mention names, but where there’s no obvious way to find anything.

You can’t find the content, you don’t even know what they do. The design is like 20 years old, website runs really slowly. So, is it important? It kind of is, because it makes the first impression. Like if you woke up in your ripped t-shirt to a job interview, you’re not going to get the job. And if your website takes 20 seconds to load and no one can find anything then you’re not going to sell anything. So yeah, I mean – yes! A good template, anything from WordPress to Wiz, to Squarespace. Everything’s really sexy these days, it doesn’t take like an hour to get a website that looks okay.

Jeff Bell: What are the best ways to convert people who found your blog post in search into customers? Maybe there are any UX hacks to make them stay on your website?
Ashley Faulkes: You need to look at it from a user journey perspective. Don’t get too complex. There are three main points for people that arrive at your website. They could be just looking around. And so they don’t even know necessarily who you are and what you’re selling, maybe they aren’t looking to buy anything from you. Maybe they are interested in the topic or need help solving a problem and haven’t decided yet, how they’re going to solve it.

And that’s where a lot of blog posts get clients. So you write a blog post on the best summer colors for your hats. So you’re looking to sell paint but indirectly. So when someone comes into your website and reads that post they are probably not going to buy from you today. So what do you do? You need to capture their email address because otherwise they might never come back. If you get their email address you can start talking to them and developing a longer term relationship.

So you need to have a reason for them to give you email address. And that should generally be a quite short and sweet optin, you can look at the one I got at my website. Basically it gives a person a quick, an easy win, something that will help them to solve a problem. On the paint example: 5 easy ways to choose paint for your bedroom. You don’t need to teach somebody how to paint.

You just need to give them 5 quick tips that will help them choose. And they think, all right, that’s really cool, I’ve never thought of that. This company is really good. Maybe they are the person I’m going to buy paint from. Because they were really helpful. So that’s when someone doesn’t know who you are. You need to be getting their email addresses. And that’s probably 90-95% of the people coming to your website. And then you got the people who are almost ready to buy and those that are ready to buy and you need content for them as well.

So you need product comparisons, case studies, examples of product a vs product b. For example, best cameras. Best cameras of 2016. When yours is one of those cameras mentioned in there. This kind of topics are for people who are looking to buy. But that’s not most people. So you need all sorts of content depending on where the person is at. Than you can start to convert them. But you need to always have really obvious ways for people to get more information, the next step whether it’s email, the buy button, the learn more button, your services pages need to be really obvious.

If stuff is not obvious, if the buttons aren’t obvious, if the info is not obvious then people are not going to buy. Get people who have never been on your website to go there and see what they say. Say to them, okay, you’re looking for new paint, go on my website and find the paint. Can you find the paint, can you find the information. If they can’t then you have a problem.

Jeff Bell: How is SEO for product pages different from SEO for content pages?
Ashley Faulkes: Again we’re talking about the buying portion of the user journey so you need to do your keyword research. But this is generally really competitive.Typically for a smaller business and a smaller store it’s going to be harder to rank for products, especially if you’re not selling a unique product. What you can do, one of the really good tricks for that is to actually try to put unique product on your pages.

So for example, if I sell this microphone that I have here, the snowball microphone, really-really common. A thousand stores are selling that. All of them are copying the picture and copying the description from the company that sells them. Then it’s going to be really hard for you to rank, cause you have no unique text on your website. So if you go and write a really unique review or description or a breakdown of what it does and how to use it and maybe that will rank because nobody else is doing that.

So you need to be getting unique content on your pages. Everyone who’s selling products should be writing their own product pages. And not just copying them. Of course if you have a thousand, just do your top products. That’s the #1 tip for that kind of stuff.

Jeff Bell: Which proved itself best for generating leads in your experience: social, organic or referral traffic?
Ashley Faulkes: Generally, the statistics say that search is one of the best for converting. If you’re looking at the direct path from search to sale. People typing in “best cameras” are looking to buy a camera. Whereas on social you’re not going to generally share a picture of your camera, you’re probably going to share a blog post about how you used your camera on the weekend. So that’s going to take a longer time to convert. And in marketing it’s one of the hardest things that big companies try to do is track where that original visitor came from.

Whether is was the social media that brought them to the company or whether it was the Google search. I guess this questions is getting to the point where you think, should i worry more about search or should I worry more about social media. I would suggest, you should do both. Social media gets you quicker results, will get you direct traffic today and of course Twitter and Google+ – the traffic fades really quickly.

Pinterest traffic doesn’t fade which is one of the really cool things about it. So social media is great for a week and then it dies. Today I got on Social Media Examiner twitter but in the week’s time it’s not going to matter. It’s going to matter whether this post ranks well on Google.

So you should be looking at SEO as a long term place- 6-12 months minimum. And in the background you should be starting to do social media. Cause you can’t just do one channel. If you suddenly get penalized by Google or lose your Facebook account and that’s your only channel then you’ve got a big problem. So you should always be focusing on at least two or three ways of getting traffic to your website.

Jeff Bell: What are the most common SEO mistakes people should fix before publishing their website?
Ashley Faulkes: The biggest one I see actually, and it’s interesting because a lot of SEOs are saying this is not important anymore – I just don’t believe it. Is that you don’t need to worry about telling Google and Bing that your website exists, which means registering with webmaster tools, which is now called search console. People say that you don’t have to do that, Google will find you. Maybe… But i’ve had clients who had zero rankings and then I did that for them and they shot up to page three.

So make sure you’ve registered your website with at least Google webmaster tools and Bing and Yahoo. And you need a sitemap as well. There is a post also on my website on how to do that. I recommend that for all new websites. It gets you talking to the search engines. So when you publish something, they see it very quickly. Maybe they don’t see it today, but they’ll see it in few days. Whereas if you don’t do that they might not see you for six months.

There’s no links to your website – there is no way for them to know that you even exist, believe it or not. They have plenty of stuff to do without worrying about your website. If you don’t tell them that you’re there, believe it or not, they won’t automatically find you. So index your website with Google and Bing and make sure that you’re doing proper on page SEO which is in the URL, in the title, in the first paragraph and in the first image. And several times on your page.

That should be done on your main page, your product and service pages. And that will get you a long way, especially if you have links and you’re getting new links.

Jeff Bell: Now to questions from the audience. Artem asks how to automate SEO functions on my WordPress site?
Ashley Faulkes: Unfortunately there’s no real automation. Let me think, how you could automate anything. Basically, I mean you need to install a plugin. So WordPress out of the box, even though themes and WordPress claim SEO friendly if you don’t have Yoast SEO or All in one SEO, you’re not going to do very well in SEO. Because you need to have a title, you need to have a meta description. You need to have the url optimized. And a few other things. And these plugins can help you with that. And you need to go and do it yourself. You need to go and do the keyword research – you can’t automate that either. But these tools will help you. So I wouldn’t call it automated but they will help you do the right things. But don’t rely on them. Learn what you’re doing and learn where you should be putting the keywords. There’s only about 5 places you need to put them. And that’s about it really. There’s not a lot else you can do. You can use plugin for LSI keywords. I wouldn’t worry about that. You can be using the tool that shows you other words you could be using. But ultimately if you’re writing blog posts on topic, you’re going to naturally write keywords without even realizing it. Just make sure the topic you’ve chosen is a good topic. So yeah, there is no real automation, sorry.
Jeff Bell: Magdy asks SEO can be learned online ? Or do I need In class courses ?
Ashley Faulkes: A really good question. I’m actually going to give myself a plug here. I’m in the middle of writing a course for people to learn this stuff. Because it’s taken me a few years to get good at it. There’s pieces of information everywhere. You can just on to the Moz beginners stuff or Neil Patel beginners stuff and get a rough idea of how SEO works.

But if you want a formula, a map to start from scratch, optimize your website, optimize your content, do your keyword research, find the right keywords, rank your website, get guest posts, all of this stuff you have to spend months and months doing research. But if you want to get a quickstart you can go to Moz, Neil Patel, Backlinko.

Have a look at those websites and start reading some of their content. Or if you really want, if you can wait a couple of months get on to my email list and I will tell you when my course is ready. It’s a course for people who pretty much know nothing and will help you rank. Cause it took me ages to figure it out. It’s not simple unfortunately.

Keely: keyword research – need help with that!
Ashley Faulkes: We talked about that in an earlier question. What i’d do is take a step back from keyword research, I’ll talk about it in a second. Ask yourself why? And I talked about it in my email sequence to new subscribers. Why are you writing your post? Why are you writing your content?

Because I used to write stuff for no reason and that’s not a good place to be. So before you write your next piece of content, whether it’s product page a service page or a blog post ask yourself what the intention is of that particular piece of content. So what’s the user going to do, what would the user come there, what is the user looking for, who would be looking for that content and how is it related to topics that your customers, visitors, blog readers care about, why would they sign up to your email list after reading that content.

All of this kinds of questions you should be asking yourself and then if you say “okay, I want someone on my email list, I’m writing about WordPress, what do my readers ask me all the time, what do they care about.” Think about those kinds of things, If you get emails from your users or you talk to them online or you seek questions of forums. Take all of those ideas and then do some keyword research.

To do that keyword research as I suggested earlier, you get on to keyword Planner. If you’re not already on it, you need a Gmail account, you need a credit card and you need to start a campaign, but you don’t need to spend money. Pause the campaign. You don’t need to actually spend money, but you need to start a campaign. Go in and see if the keywords you’re thinking about actually are worth spending time on. Maybe there’s a related topic you can spend time on.

Then go and look at the top 10 or top 20 on Google and see how hard it is to rank. If it’s all awesome websites or if there are some holes in there. Because if you can’t rank, maybe you should look for another topic. So that’s the main things I do. I don’t go and spend days and days on keyword research. Only if I’m looking for a unique topic. Then I’d go and look at these other tools like Ubersuggests or, soovle something like the answer man.

And they give you ideas and you take those ideas to Keyword Planner and see whether there’s volume, if there’s high competition. And then you go and look at top 10 on Google. So that’s the basic process. That’s about as easy as i can make it.

Jeff Bell: Yeah, sure. We have one more big question. How to rank a new web page locally? How is an SEO for local business different?
Ashley Faulkes: When you’re talking about local… I was just playing around with one local customer actually last week. I don’t do a huge amount of local, but I have done some. And the main thing you need to worry about is you need to be listed on Google business, so go to Google business and register a page, and make sure your category’s correct, you name, address and phone number are exactly the same as they are on your website. And if you’re on other websites like Yell or Hotfrog or any of these other directory websites, make sure your name, address and phone number… As it’s called on SEO, the “nap” (the name, address and phone number) has to be the same on your website, on Google, on Yell has to be the same.

Slightly different phone numbers, different phone numbers, addresses with uppercase, lowercase, it needs to be exactly the same. And then you should get on a few of these directories, you should get reviews and then you should also make sure that your keyword is optimized on-page SEO for your homepage. So, your homepage can be optimized for a couple of keywords. So, for example, mine is WordPress and SEO in Zurich, which is the biggest city near where I live.

That’s what my homepage is optimized for. And then I also have specific pages for web design, WordPress and SEO. See, one page for each of those. And then you should optimize those pages, focused around the keywords and then you need to get links and create a blog post, and get content and links, and shares and all of that stuff. And as your website ranks, your local rankings will improve. That’s about the best I can tell you.

Jeff Bell: Right, it’s great. So, one more. Jay asked about themes. So, the main goal of SEO basically is conversion. When a person chooses a theme for their website, what should they take into account, while choosing a theme for a website?
Ashley Faulkes: I guess you’re talking about WordPress theme. What I actually do myself, I use Thrive themes. They have a lot of conversion-focused stuff, but to be really honest, it doesn’t really matter. Because what you need to do, what I do, I mean as a designer, I guess it’s easy for me to say this: I use a barebone theme for my website. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it more or less looks like as I want it to look like.

So, your theme needs to show what your navigation wants to be like, what your homepage roughly wants to look like, and maybe what your blog posts wanna look like – whether you want a picture to be big or small, or wanna a big banner picture like everybody’s using at the moment. That’s really the main thing your theme is gonna do. It’s gonna provide with the design, the layout, and the features that you need, so you don’t have to go on programming in yourself. And then on top of that, I would go and buy a plugin.

There’s a whole bunch you can use – SumoMe, I use ThriveLeads, there’s OptinMonster. There’s a whole bunch of these different things. You can go and find the best one for yourself. And if we’re talking “conversions” in terms of email signups, they’re the best kinds of tools. You can have landing pages, you can have slide-downs, like “Welcome”, you can have pop-ups, you can have full-screen pop-ups, you can have boxes in a middle of your blog posts. And these come from the plugins generally.

I wouldn’t aim for getting a theme that has that built-in. Usually, the options are not that good as getting a specific plugin for that kind of stuff. But if we’re talking about conversions in terms of sales, then you have to sell products. You wanna do something like WooCommerce or something that have good products pages. That’s where your conversions are gonna happen. So, it really depends on what you mean by conversions. But I would say the theme is not as important as you think. It’s really the email opt-ins and the sales pages. So you wanna have a good sales page templates and opt-in plugins and templates.

Jeff Bell: Thank you. Debra asks, how does SEO work if you have 1 corporation and 2 companies and active websites? Should we have two active websites or just merge them?
Ashley Faulkes: Yeah, I’m actually working for a client who has this problem right now. Yeah, they have a whole bunch of websites, and they should only have one. They’ve split their websites on product places. I don’t know why, I don’t know who did it. It doesn’t make any sense. If you have multiple companies, I would really look at, whether or not those websites have significant “SEO power” – domain authorities.

So go on to and also MOZ Open Site Explorer and have a look at your two websites and see which one has a higher number. You’re looking for domain authority and trust flow. Ir they’re lower than 10 on trust flow and, say, 20 on domain authority, then they almost have no SEO power. You can potentially merge them. But then you also need to look at the links on those websites. If they have significant amount of links coming in, you’re getting traffic from those links, which you can see in Google Analytics under referrals.

You can figure out, if you move the website, you need to re-direct all the URL’s, so it really depends what your goal is, as well. If one website is a cooperation and another website is a brand that sells the products, then maybe it makes sense to send investors to the cooperation and customers to the brand. I really don’t know what your goal is. It really depends on what a business goal is. But if it’s split for no real reason and you’re confusing your audience, then you better start consolidating to the most powerful website and redirecting all the links and copying that content across to one website. So, that’s the best answer I can give without knowing your company.

But if you wanna write me an email, I can have a quick look and let you know what the best option is there because it’s usually pretty quick to give you an answer.

Jeff Bell: David asks what are the pros and cons of changing your domain name?
Ashley Faulkes: This is a similar thing. If you’re killing one website or moving websites you need to think about whether you have significant SEO power, domain authority on the existing website. Why are you moving domain? I had a guy on Facebook asking this question the other day. He said he wanted to move domains because he wanted to use his domain for something else on another project. And his domain had almost zero links, so his SEO was zero.

So it didn’t matter that he moved all his content to a new website. But if your website is doing well in Google as to relevant traffic. Like if you’re getting a thousand people on the topic of knitting and I’m selling tiles. Then it doesn’t matter that you’re ranking for knitting as you’re not selling knitting products, so forget about it. If you’re getting relevant traffic, you have relevant links from good websites, then moving domains is possible, but it can be a little bit dangerous.

You have to redirect all your links to all the new content. Every one, page for page has to be pointing with a 301 redirect. And you will lose a little bit SEO. Not a huge amount, but you will lose some. So you can change your name, you can redirect all your stuff but it’s a lot of work and you will lose some power. And you need to make sure you do it properly and don’t lose any links, because you might regret it.

Jeff Bell: Oikonomou asks how many links follow or nofollow should a new site get per week in order to gain high power to reach top 5 in search?
Ashley Faulkes: First of all, if you’re brand new, I’d be really careful about throwing dozens of links to your website, because Google will be like huh? How did you go from nothing to 500 links? So first of all be careful of the velocity with which you add links to your website. Start off slowly with your social media profiles, basic directories, but not crappy, spammy directories – that’s completely pointless. Social bookmarking, maybe but it doesn’t do much for you.

Blog commenting- a little bit. I’ve got thousands of these things from when I didn’t know what I was doing and I wish I’d never done it. Because I think it weakens my profile. So a few is okay. Let’s say 50 over 6 months but they don’t do much for you. But it makes your link profile look more natural so it’s okay to do them but don’t go overboard. And then start getting links from relevant content, so start guest posting- that’s the best way to do it.

Reach out to guest posts that are a little bit better than you or if you can – way better than you. But that’s hard to do when you don’t have a name and you don’t have any content. And start to get links that allow guest posting and link to some of your posts. Maybe write 4 or 5 posts on your website and start writing content and go get links from guest posts. If you’re buying links which is possible and is still potentially okay in SEO, be really careful who you’re doing it with and where they’re coming from, because you can get slapped by Google. I’ve done it in the past and it can be okay or you can get in trouble. I don’t recommend it anymore since last year.

A lot of the big guys, like niche guys who created niche websites did it and then all of a sudden boom, I think it was in July or something – everybody got hit. They targeted PBNs . So my recommendation, if you want to do it properly and you want your website to last and you want it to rank for a long time, get natural links from decent websites and do it properly because it’s worth it.

Jeff Bell: That’s a good ending! That’s all the questions I had from the audience, can you wish something to our audience as a farewell?
Ashley Faulkes: Yeah, if you want to jump on my website, you can optin even on the homepage, I have a new how-to ranking checklist of the things you need to do, a lot of the stuff we talked about today but even better than that. I’ll be following that up with emails, following all those different steps and teaching you how to do that stuff. And as I mentioned I’m coming up with a course in propably two months or so. I’m working on it in between clients, it teaches that stuff from scratch if that’s something that you’re really interested in.

No obligation, but I wish I had this course when I started out. And yeah, check out some of my stuff if you’re interested in SEO you can go to or in the dropdown under Blog there’s an SEO category, you can have a look at some of my previous stuff. And yeah, social media, Twitter, Linked in are the places to connect with me, you can find those in the bottom of my blog. So you want Mad Lemmings.

Jeff Bell: Thank you so much for being with us today and sharing so much knowledge and wisdom with us and our viewers.
Ashley Faulkes: No, thanks you Jeff, appreciate your time.
Jeff Bell: It was Jeff bell, from Startup Hub, free educational project by TemplateMonster and Ashley Faulkes from Mad Lemmings. Thank you for being with us! Bye!

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