Our Client SEO Strategy

Our exact strategy we've used to rank clients all over the globe.

Why Are We Giving This Away?

This is probably the first question everyone is thinking, why are we revealing our strategy we've used to generate clients over £10 million in revenue in the past 5 years to just about anyone who finds this article? The answer is 2 fold, 1.) We want to educate individuals about what SEO really is and why it is so profitable for businesses when performed correctly and at the same time give them a step by step strategy with a no BS approach to ranking! And secondly business owners who don't have the time to implement this strategy but would like to go ahead can know exactly what they are getting from us and as such can decide if we are the right company for you! So let's get to it.

Tom Buckland

Owner & SEO Nerd.

Tom Buckland HQSEO

"This article is going to outline exactly what we implement for our clients including the exact strategies we use to rank. We have successfully ranked dozens of local, national and global clients, from your average one store local business, to an international eCommerce store that is now a globally recognised brand. One element I will continue to drone on about in this article is the importance of keeping everything SIMPLE! There are 200 Google ranking factors, trying to break them down individually is a recipe for disaster, instead take the factors that hold the greatest weight for ranking and invest your time, energy and funds into improving these."

The Strategy:

As you probably already know if you've found this article, there are 2 broad elements to SEO. The first is on-page optimisation, this is anything that is done to your website directly, for example text, images and the code of the site. On-page elements are incredibly important and many people think they have integrated them correctly after reading 1 or 2 posts on SEO…. Chances are you are forgetting some of the most important elements or even over-optimising your content, which is something we've seen with 25% of clients coming on board in 2017. On-page optimisatin is only the first stage. In competitive niches you will generally see similar on-page optimisation across all of the top ranking sites, the difference in rankings comes from the 2nd element of SEO, and that’s off-page SEO, primarily backlinks. First we will take a detailed look at all the on-page optimisation elements you need to include on your website or webpage.

Initial On-Page Optimisation - Step 1 | Site Checks (Audit)

If you are creating a brand new website on a new domain then you won’t need to do a website audit, if you aren’t and you are looking to re-design or re-optimise the site then I would recommend an audit with the following elements, I am only including the most important as there is no need to over complicate these things!

  • Website Speed - Check the speed of your website using the GTMetrix tool. This will give you a figure of between 0-100, and a grade between A-F. You want to see a figure above 80, anything less and you need to add website speed to your to-optimise list. 
  • Responsiveness - Google ranks responsive websites higher than non-responsive sites (all other metrics even), this means if your site is not mobile friendly you are losing on both rankings, but also on potential sales through a non-responsive and hence off putting website. You can test this using the Google mobile friendly tool. If this fails you will need a full responsive website redesign
  • Other Checks - in SEO 20% of your efforts results in 80% of the results (probably 95%.) As a result I don't recommend any further audit checks. If you are more experienced in SEO or have the time to implement smaller tweaks, I would recommend looking into: branding, colours, images, coding, themes, website architecture, content & just about anything on the site itself.

On-page Optimisation - Step 2 | Keywords.

One of the most misunderstood elements of SEO but one of the most important. Selecting the correct keywords can be the difference between zero visitors and thousands and that is no exaggeration. To select your keywords I would recommend going to the Google keyword planner and beginning by typing in the most obvious keywords you can think of related to your business, then continue to find longer, less competitive and less searched keywords. "But why would I want to do that?" Because all of these smaller keywords add up to huge traffic figures and they are also a lot easier to rank for. The keyword research section will take a long time if you have no experience doing it before, the advantage is if you are doing this manually you only need to do this once. Then simply save your keywords (I also recommend tracking your rankings using one of these tools.)

Using an example we can see how important keyword research really is. 

Let's take a local business example: A solicitor in Cardiff. Our primary keyword is going to be "solicitor Cardiff", so we head over the keyword planner and check the search volume for this. [image right.] 

After selecting this you want to hit the "keyword ideas" tab. 

This page will show you all the information you need to know. Sorted by relevance and monthly search volume. Now you want to manually search through the keywords and take any keyword that a potential client or customer would relate to your business (all of them!) and add them to your list.

Why do we take all of these keywords?

2 primary reasons:
1.) They are usually very similar to one another so optimising is very easy, we usually just have to say the same thing a bit differently, the technical name for this is latent semantic indexing or LSI.
2.) Ranking 1st for a keyword that only gets 10 searches a month might seem semi-pointless, but the truth is these are the best types of keywords! They are very uncompetitive, which means you can rank very quickly and hence generate sales / clients a lot quicker.​ Once you rank for one of these small keywords, you will rank for all of them. Ranking for 1 keyword that get's 10 searches a month isn't going to change your business. But ranking for 100 or 1000 of them is going to seriously increase your traffic.

Using our solicitor example, if we rank #1 for 3 keywords getting 10 searches per month each, then we should receive around 50% of this traffic (some goes to ads, some to lower organic results) so that's an extra 15 visitors a month which sounds pathetic! But these are hugely targeted visitors, searching for the exact long keyword that we offer and as a result they are extremely likely to get in touch! Even at a conversion rate of 5%, inside 1 year these 3 tiny keywords would generate the business (5% x 15 x 12) = 27 new clients. The average lifetime value of a solicitor client? This depends on the service of course but let's say £5,000. So that's £135,000 additional revenue per year. Multiple that by 20 tiny keywords and you can see the importance of ranking for all the small keyword variations!

Keyword Research

In our example there were approximately 40 keywords all saying a similar thing (law firm, solicitor, lawyer, legal services.) Individuals will search using different variations but we want to rank for all of the variations and to do this we first need to know them. Once you have your keywords in place you want to rank them in importance, generally you will put your most relevant and potentially most profitable ones at the top. I recommend picking 3 "golden" keywords that would generate your business the highest value if ranked. There is also an advanced method to finding long-tail keywords but that involves the use of a paid software so I won't mention it for now as its not essential either, it just saves time on the process.

On-page Optimisation - Step 3 | Implementation.

Once you have your keywords its time to implement them into the content and code of your website. I could explain this fully but instead I will post one of the most useful infographics ever created here instead, its from backlinko and should be used as a reference to check whether you've input everything you need on your site. Some elements should NOT be included for specific pages on a website but generally speaking this is a great checklist.

On Page SEO

I recommend starting with on-page optimisation before moving to the backlink generation section. Once complete you should have a fast, responsive perfectly optimised website, ready to go out and build links. [Important Note: Over-optimisation;] Over-optimisation is essentially when you do "to much on-page seo" - Putting your keywords in the title, URL, H tags, text, image alt tags will lead to an over-optimisation penalty from Google & prevent your site from ranking. The easy cure to over-optimisation is using multiple secondary keywords throughout your content, instead of over-using 1 specific keyword. For example: Solicitor, law firm, legal services, lawyer ect. Use the LSI keywords we mentioned in the keyword research section!

Another important note is this is just the surface of on-page SEO. There are relevancy factors that go far beyond how you integrate your keywords into the content. Elements such as schema, competitional relevance, intent of keyword & readability (tables, ToC etc) just to name a few.​

Off-Page Optimisation | Backlink Generation

Backlinks are hyperlinks from other websites pointing back to your website. Generally speaking the more high quality, relevant backlinks you can generate the higher you will rank, but there is a lot of debate around the power of links and how effective one link vs another is, but again don't over think things just follow the steps below.
Pro Tip: Timing is everything, especially for brand new websites or domains, if you've been established for over 3-5 years the timings of the below are less important.
Pro tip 2: Not all backlinks are created equal. A link is only as powerful as the website it is coming from.

"When building HQ SEO we knew our number 1 challenge was going to be generating high quality relevant backlinks for our clients. This is the single most time consuming and difficult task for SEO companies and clients alike. Over the past 5 years we have refined and fine tuned our techniques that we can now almost guarantee a certain amount of high quality links to new clients. This is one of the reasons we believe we have yet to have an unsuccessful SEO campaign. With a 95% client retention rate after the first 6 months."

Backlink Generation | Stage 1 - The Foundation

  • Press ReleasesThese are the easiest types of backlinks to create and they are great for branding your business, they are also perfect if your site is brand new. Either write and distribute a press release yourself or pay for a distribution service, this should be around £50-£200 depending on the distribution network and writing quality. Inside the PR remember to put a URL link back to your website with no specific anchor text (anchor text is the actual clickable part of an article, usually blue.) - I recommend at least 1 press release every 6 months, and more frequently if you have any press release worthy content or launches coming up.
  • Citations - A citation is a place on another website where your business's name, address and phone number is listed. For example Yell.com, Yelp, Thompsonlocal ect. You should aim to have as many of these as possible, but the most frequently used ones are listed here. Primarily used to rank local businesses in the Google map pack, but they are also great trust signals, showing Google that your business is "out there" and active. Citations and press releases should be done at the start of a backlinking campaign. Note: You should also have a Google business page set up if you are a local business or a Google brand page if you are a national/global one, simply search Google business for more information.
  • Social Foundations - Social foundation links are links from your social accounts pointing back to your website. For example the links that you place in your twitter bio, Facebook description, Google business page, Pinterest account and so on. The more of these you have the better.
  • Social Signals - Social signals are currently NOT A RANKING FACTOR. Do not believe anyone who says they are. Instead social signals are trust factors. You want to have a website that shows Google you are a popular brand. One of the best ways to do this is have a continuous stream of high quality social signals to your site. You can either do this manually by posting, tweeting and +1ing your site everyday with new content or information, or you can purchase social shares, as long as these are high quality signals they will be as effective as doing everything manually yourself.

If you have completed the on-page optimisation, citations, press release and social signals your website will be above 90% of your competitors, but it is yet to have the real powerful links pointing to it, these are the links that will get you from page 2-3 onto the top of page 1. These need to be built after everything else is in place which is why I have left it until the end of the article, don't rush to these elements otherwise they will not be as effective!

Backlink Generation | Stage 2 - The Power

The most powerful backlink is a relevant, highly authoritative contextual link.


Relevance - From a source that is relevant to your business. For example a tech blog linking to a tech startup would be a relevant link.
High authority - This is a website that has lots of trust in Google's eyes. For example large news publications such as inc.com, forbes, bbc ect. But these links can also be authorities in very specific industries or niches. We want to find the most relevant authority in an industry and generate links from them!
Contextual - A link that is placed in the middle of surrounding content for example any link surrounded by relevant text would be classed as a contextual link. Our aim is to get all 3 elements present but most of the time we will settle for 2 and still class this as a great link. Below are some of the strategies we use to go about building powerful backlinks.

  • Competition Analysis - Using tools such as ahrefs & SEMrush we can see where competitors are getting their backlinks and then reverse engineer these sources to get links to the client site.
  • Guest Posts- Still a highly effective linking strategy. Any website that is either relevant or authoritative is great for guest posts, this is also a great traffic generation technique.
  • Local Websites - Similar to the reverse engineering method, we can use search terms and reach out to these websites offering to update the content or add a post or business and receive a link through this.
  • Outreach - Reaching out to website owners and asking for a link or to link to a specific piece of content. This works best when you have an awesome piece of content that you can use as link bait. This is the essence of content marketing.
  • Broken Link Building - Finding relevant broken 404 links similar to the topic of your site and asking the webmaster to fix the link and instead link to you instead of the broken link.
  • Influencer Outreach - Reaching out to influencers in your industry and offering them free or review products. This works best when you don't pre-organise a link in return. A percentage of the time they will link to your website AND shout you out on social media profiles, this means you get the benefit of the link AND you get the traffic potential through social. For example a fitness supplement company can give 20 free samples of their protein to fitness bloggers in return for a "review on their blog" they will likely link to your site in the review and you've just generated 10-20 high quality, super relevant links, just from giving away some of your products!

Return On Investment From Ranking in Google

I wanted to include this element as from the above you might be thinking "wow that sounds like a lot of work has to go into that!" and that's true and as time=money I wanted to run through a basic ROI guide to calculating potential return on investment from SEO campaigns. I don't want this to be too long so I will do a local example so you can see just how effective ranking is and if the ROI is worth your time or monetary investment.

​ROI Example:

Using a web design agency as an example as I have some experience in this niche. We will just use Cardiff as the local example city again too. Looking at the primary keywords we can see that "web design Cardiff" and the variations (excluding the long tail keywords) get a total of 1,500 searches a month. Removing 20% of these (due to designers like to search themselves to see where they are ranking) gives us 1,200 monthly searches, a good number to use as an example and the actual figure is probably a lot higher adding the long tail keywords.

Ranking #1 will give us approximately 35% of the traffic (this is a low estimate) and means we will receive 1,200 x 0.35 = 420 targeted visitors a month. Assuming a poor sales strategy, and assuming the business only closes the industry average of 3%, still means you generate 12-13 new clients per month. If the lifetime value of a customer is £2,000 which is approximately right for a web developer. That means you will be generating around £24,000 (as a low estimate) per month in additional revenue. This shows the power of ranking number 1 in your specific industry, it also shows how profitable our campaigns can be, for a £1,000 per month campaign you would be looking at a 2,400% ROI every single month (likely triple this if the website converted better too.)

Also on a psychological note; prospects want to work with the very best, so if you appear #1 then subconsciously they are reaching out to you knowing you are the best in the field. £24,000 a month is £288,000 in sales per year, although it might take 6-12 months to rank #1 for all of your primary keywords, the ROI once you are ranking is a long way above the next best marketing channel. Whether you are investing your time or you are paying an SEO company I would highly recommend putting in place the SEO strategy set out above.

Case Study:

In 2016 we took a supercar rental agency (that had just built their website AKA a brand new website) from zero visits a month to well over 2,000 visitors a month. Ranking 1st for the most competitive terms related to this business. From our £1,000 per month campaign this client closed over £19,000 in sales (rentals) every month and has now branched out into other areas & keywords. They have been a client for almost 2 years and continue to generate over 1500% ROI each month.

SCH Screenshot

From 100 visitors a month all the way up to over 2,200 per month. All organic traffic.

Conclusion:

My final word of advice would be don't over complicate it! The reason we have been so successful ranking clients, and it's because we've developed a set strategy, we've tested and refined to exactly what you see in this article. It works extremely well and is extremely simple, so don't make it anymore complicated than it already is!

If you'd like to receive a full proposal outlining exactly what we would implement for your business, feel free to get in touch. Also if you have any questions about the strategy feel free to get in touch via email to arrange a call. Or email me personally on: tom@hqseo.co.uk.

Thanks for reading.
Tom.