Derek Gerber is the global marketing director at Active PDF, the leading global provider of automated, server-side PDF tools. Derek...
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We didn’t always rank. In fact, we predominantly don’t rank, and so we’re probably a lot like most of you.
We have a small marketing team — like very small… like you’re looking at most of it — and it’s difficult to rank for your most competitive keywords. There are huge players out there. In our space, there are big software companies. It’s hard to rank for a lot of your keywords because companies like Moz, SEMrush, Majestic, Ahrefs, all have great content, great teams, and they’re really consistent.
Then you have the industry trade journals. You got Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, and Marketing Land. When you put all of this together, it’s very difficult for a smaller company to come in and try to rank — but with this approach, that we’re going to talk about today, we were able to rank #1 for “SEO agency” on Google.
We used to rank in the top five for “SEO services“. “SEO services” have a lot more volume than SEO agency. What’s really critical for you understand is that just because a keyword has a lot of volume doesn’t mean it has the right audience.
We found that people looking for “SEO services” were oftentimes the same people looking for SEO services from places like Fiverr or Upwork. “Services” had a connotation of a lower purchasing price. So we decided to pivot to “agency“.
We found that people looking for SEO agencies had a much larger inferred budget than people looking for “SEO services” or “SEO company“.
So stop, think, and ask yourself: “For your core services or products, are you targeting not only the keywords that have the most volume but then considering which ones have the best brand fit and making your decision based on a combination of both.” It’s important to do so.
Now that you have a little background on our history and what we’ve learned, you’re probably wondering:
- How can I specifically rank?
- How did you exactly do it?
Well, you’re in luck because we’re going to tell you exactly how we did it right here.
First, one of the most underrated never talked about principles for ranking is how many times your brand is being mentioned in the SERP that you’re trying to rank your website for.
Share of SERP
Share of SERP — the concept we talk about here incessantly if you watch our videos — is about positioning your brand throughout a search engine results page.
That’s because it’s more than just about your website when it comes to SEO. It’s about your brand. You need to be found in as many places as possible when people are searching. That’s the whole point of SEO.
The beautiful part of having your brand being mentioned is we found that it’s drastically increased the likelihood of our website ranking when our brand is being mentioned by other sites. If you search “SEO agency“, you will find us.
I’m not sure the influence of AdWords here. I don’t want to say that’s an influencer, but you’ll find us on Adwords. You’ll find us on the map if you’re local. The real influencers that I’m sure on, is you’ll find us mentioned on websites like:
You’ll find us mentioned on a lot of the websites that are ranking in the top 10.
What happens is Google starts to say, “Wow. When we’re doing our research and looking through our dataset Directive Consulting is oftentimes mentioned in all these places as a top SEO agency and they also have a page with a dedicated title tag H1 that talks about them as an SEO agency. Let’s see if our audience, our searchers like that.”
I am fully convinced that you are exponentially more likely to rank your website if your brand is mentioned by other sites who are in the top 10 for the same keyword.
What to do about it?
Go on Google and type in the keyword you would like to rank for. Then ask yourself:
- What sites are ranking in the top 10?
- Is there an opportunity for me to reach out to an editor?
- Can I submit my brand or website to the list?
- Will I be able to write for one of these other sites on that same keyword so I could take multiple positions? In other words, could I write an article for Search Engine Land? About 30 questions to ask your next SEO agency?
Now look, you’re taking market share. It’s not just about your own website. It’s about the positioning of your entire brand. Those are some tactics you can do right now for step one.
It’s important that you have relevant authoritative links pointing to the page you’re trying to rank for a keyword.
Google does not rank websites, Google ranks pages. [ctt template=”3″ link=”Os88E” via=”yes” ]Google does not rank websites, Google ranks pages. [/ctt]
Google does not rank the Directive Consulting website, they rank the Directive Consulting page that we’re trying to rank for the keyword we’re targeting. It’s critical that you are building links to the pages you’re trying to rank, not just letting them flow naturally to the root domain. While that helps, it’s not the best and we want to do this ideally.
Guest Posting Outreach
To find relevant trade publications in your industry — if you’re in services, relevant software in your industry. If you’re in software, relevant services in your industry — and start to do guest posting outreach.
We used a tool called Pitchbox to do this. In fact, we go out and find all the most relevant software in our space by going to the biggest conferences in our space.
We then find the exhibitor list, scrape that exhibitor list for all the company names, and then use a virtual assistant to gather the emails of the content marketing managers and all the people sponsoring that conference. If we would sponsor a conference because our audience is there, that means all the other people sponsoring that conference share our own audience. So not only are they relevant and authoritative, they also have our same audience.
The best links in the world are authoritative pieces of content that come from someone else who is ideally more authoritative than you. You then write for those places so you can barnacle on their brand. For example, if I write for Salesforce, that raises the authority of my brand, because Salesforce has allowed me to write for them. I would then be barnacling on their brand. By writing for these places, you can get the most authoritative relevant links in your space and then have a great audience to read your content and hear about your brand. All this is critical in ranking.
You’ll also want to be judicious on how you use your anchor text so that if you’re trying to rank for “SEO agency“, you might want to occasionally link back to your SEO agency page with the words “SEO agency” in the link. You don’t want to overdo this, but having it occasionally and relevantly will help you rank better for the keyword you’re targeting.
- Get your brand mentioned as many times as possible on the search engine results page for the keyword you’re going after.
- Gather as many authoritative and relevant links for the page you’re trying to rank through guest posting as possible.
Lastly, for the thing you have total control over — Step 3. You need to design a world-class page.
Having a very long keyword stuffed piece of content or page is not how it works anymore. So if you’re trying to rank your service page, think about including:
- Your approach
- Unique case studies that have unique content not duplicate from your case studies page
- Testimonials, unique testimonials that are nowhere else on the web
- Overviews of your services
- Anything you can that will not only help your page rank but also drive conversions.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”bC4c5″ via=”yes” ]There’s no point ranking anything if it doesn’t turn into opportunities, deals, and revenues, period.[/ctt]
In addition, do a great job with your title tags in your H1. Do a great job talking about the things that are topically relevant to what you’re ranking for. If you’re trying to rank for “SEO agency“, you should mention in the body of your content the things you do as an SEO agency:
- Keyword research
- Link building
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Site speed
- All the things that Google already knows people are interested topically around SEO
Use a tool called Answer The Public, put the keyword “SEO” into Answer The Public, then see all the questions people have. Make sure you’re talking about those topics — not necessarily answering those specific questions, that can be a whole other blog content strategy — but for the page you’re trying to rank, use those topics to understand the information people want.
Make sure you have those basic informational pieces in the page you’re trying to rank for the keyword you’re trying to rank it for.
Last but not least, internally link. Type this into Google: site: [insert URL here] “[insert keyword here]” — then make sure that every time on your website that you’re using any of those topically related keywords, you’re linking back to your SEO agency page.
If you do these three steps, you will be able to rank number one for the keywords you’re targeting.
It takes time. It takes perseverance.
We did this over two and a half years, not two and a half months, not 12 months, not even 24 months. Okay? I would even argue that it was part of what took four and a half years — and you know what? Tomorrow, we could lose it all.
The joy and the fun and the adventure and the challenge of this all is how consistent can you be, can you innovate as Google changes what they value and can you consistently generate revenue from your keywords? If you’re not generating opportunities, deals, and revenue, who cares?
I hope you really enjoyed the video. Hope you can take this tactical advice and execute it properly. As always, please leave a comment, if you have questions, love to get back to you, and subscribe to the channel. Thanks and have a great day!