Note from author: this isn’t one of those posts which you can just skim over and take away some superficial advice – to get the most out of this post, allocate 30-60 minutes, brew a double espresso and by the end of it you will up your SEO game a LOT.
SEO is really tricky and frankly the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn.
Every marketer has their own methodology aka process which actually defines the degree of their success.
My model took years to develop and it absolutely works.
As much as I respect people like Neil Patel, Brian Dean, Zac Johnson and Pat Flynn I think they work too hard!
Getting traffic in the 100,000’s is really not easy and is frankly overrated if they are generated majorly by keywords without any business intent.
You are building email lists, constantly putting stuff out on social media, doing podcasts, making videos etc.
It’s a difficult and full time job!
As I mentioned in my post on high value keywords, it doesn’t have to be that hard.
I am certain, my earnings, in relation to the traffic I get are exponentially higher than many of the marketers out there.
Play smart, not hard.
Below is my secret sauce on how I approach any sites SEO from a macro level, i.e: how I set myself up to make decisions about what to pursue first, what to improve next etc.
It’s basically a MAP.
A couple of things to point out – I have never applied this to a ‘BLOG’ in a conventional sense, and even though this site is called ‘Blogging Tips’ I am sure we are all open minded enough to realise that a blog is basically is basically a site, and any serious blogger at some point will want to monetise.
Any blog aimed at monetisation should have a ‘money page’ or have posts which target ‘money keywords’ with some monetisation mechanism inbuilt into it – even if it’s just an affiliate banner relevant to that keyword.
Secondly, this is approach is aimed at sites that have been published already, at least for enough time to get indexed and have any sort of rankings.
Here are my principles when it comes to SEO (and life).
- 80/20 principal to the MAX.
- Repeat daily
Anyhow, enough chat, let’s go to the juice of the matter.
Case Study Introduction
If you have read any of my other posts (I have only two), I HATE being vague or ambiguous, so here is a real world site which I plan to shoot to prominence shortly.
Currently its a site that has totally been neglected and basically never been really worked on.
I plan to:
- Develop a ‘blueprint’ for that site
- Optimize CTR
- Understand what KW’s/Pages I should focus on
- Actually rebuild that site from scratch
- Create a fully automated check out funnel
Infact, I will publish a before and after – we can consider this post the ‘before’.
The project is ‘dubairelaxtours.com’ – a site focused on private and VIP tours in Dubai.
P.s: I live in Dubai and have different travel/tourism businesses and affiliations.
Here we go.
Step 1: Get the Data
This part is extremely important.
In my CTR optimisation guide I showed you a glimpse, but here is the real deal.
The first thing you want to do is head over to google webmaster tools > search traffic > search analytics.
- Queries (not pages)
- Click download (bottom of the page)
RESULT = you should have CSV/excel file downloaded.
Pat yourself on the back – you are about 10% done.
Step 2: Filter Out the Noise
The first thing that most people think when they see this file is that it’s just daunting.
Especially when you have a large site.
Here is what I like to do.
Filter 1: Sort by Average Position and delete everything above 20.
Honestly, anything that isn’t on first 2 pages of google is just too far off.
If you are so early into your site that you don’t have anything higher than you should probably start with Keyword Research and Building Links – Brian Dean from Backlinko is great for this.
2: Filter Out Low Volume Impressions
Once I have removed all KW’s with average position lower than 20, I look at my impressions column.
My average impression is 103/keyword, but just to be on the safe side – i’ll filter out based on half of that, remember – I am after low volume/high value keywords.
Something like ‘Ultra VIP Dubai Tour’ may only get a 60 searches, but bring in 10x revenue than another larger volume KW.
So I remove all KW’s with less than 50 impressions.
Now I’m already left with only a 198 KW’s – compared to the original couple of thousands.
3: Filter Out By Intent
Now at this point, it’s very conceivable to do another filter by clicks, however – I will not rush to do this.
For example remove all KW’s with less than 20 clicks. Nope.
There really could be a gem hiding in that rough, i.e: a KW for which I am already ranking, but not getting any clicks.
If I simply pick an arbitrary threshold for clicks, I could be throwing out the baby with the bath water.
This last step is a little bit tedious but by far the most important.
I will create a new column called ‘Intent’ and go through that entire list of 200 giving each KW a score.
- 0 = junk and to be deleted
- 1 = sort of relevant
- 2 = quite relevant
- 3 = the $ I need to put in my pocket
It took a total of just 4 minutes to go through the 198 KW’s.
I will get rid of the 0s and 1s and leave just the 2’s and 3’s.
Step 3: Match KW’s to Pages
A large part of the work is done, but the final step in creating a neat blue print is to correlate the KW’s to the pages.
Google is REALLY annoying by not providing this report right off the bat.
They currently either give you the metrics by Key Word OR by Landing Page and not by both.
This is so annoying that I am actually in the process of building a tool called iSeeOrganic which will basically do everything listed above and this step inclusively automatically using advanced API requests etc.
Until this is done, you will need to do this last part manually.
For that – add another column to the left of it called ‘Page’.
You will then need to figure out which pages rank for the KW in question.
Most of the time you will be able to quite easily tell, but when it doubt just run a google search and see the first page for your domain that you see in the results.
This should take you another 10-15 minutes if you are in the ~200-300 KW’s range.
Here’s what my sheet looks like:
This report outlines your overall blue-print and sets up to really wisely understand what you need to work on and what needs to be done.
Bonus/Advanced Section: Weighted CTR
I really like Zac Johnson’s blog so I’m going to give away a little trick which is a major secret sauce of my upcoming software tool – iSeeOrganic in the hopes that one of you won’t realize the pure money in this entire method and build it faster than me.
This is for those of you who REALLY care about their sites/blogs and don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty.
When it comes to CTR – you have to understand, its actually useless without an idea of whether it’s good/healthy or not RELATIVE to the position.
A CTR of 10% is great for a KW ranking on the 3rd position, but horrible for the same KW ranking on the 1st – thus the concept of “WEIGHTED” CTR.
Here is a what the average CTR based on a bunch of studies put together looks like.
How to apply this?
- Sort the results from Low to High
- Add a new column – call it ‘Slope’ (Column H)
- Add another column – call it “b’ (Column I)
- For results between 1 and 1.99 set the slope to: -14.4875 and b: 44.6125
- For results between 2 and 2.99 set the slope to: -5.45 and b: 26.5375
- For results between 3 and 3.99 set the slope to: -2.075 and b: 16.4125
- For results between 4 and 4.99 set the slope to: -1.6625 and b: 14.7625
- For results between 5 and 5.99 set the slope to: -2.05 and b: 16.7
- For results between 6 and 6.99 set the slope to: -0.5 and b: 7.4
- For results between 7 and 7.99 set the slope to: -0.3875 and b: 6.6125
- For results between 8 and 8.99 set the slope to: -0.45 and b: 7.1125
- For results between 9 and 9.99 set the slope to: -0.125 and b: 4.1875
- These are metrics that correspond to the CTR curve referenced above.
- Add another column – call it ‘Weighted CTR’ (Column J)
- The formula is = SLOPE x POSITION + B
- So its ==H2*F2+I2
- And your FINAL step is to create a CTR SCORE.
- It is basically a summary of all the work done and shows you a comparison of your actual CTR relative to the weighted CTR.
- You will need to make sure that your CTR is in the same format as the weighted CTR – this step is a little tricky. For that – create a new column to the right of your CTR column (in my case the original CTR column is E, so I will make column F and call it CTR 2). My formula for F2 is =E2*100
- The original format is a percentage – and I need it in just a plain text number, e.g 15.78% should become 15.78 – thats it.
- Like this:
- Once I have my CTR in number format (COLUMN F) and I have my weighted CTR (Column K) the last step is to create a new column L and call it CTR SCORE.
- The formula for CTR score is just CTR 2/WEIGHTED CTR
- In my case it’s =F2/K2
This is what your FINAL SEO Blueprint file looks like.
If you have followed along with everything correctly you have honestly drawn an actual map of your site with the most important data that you need.
Step 4: Actionable Insights
All this however is just a ‘diagnosis’ – but what is the cure?
How do you use this data?
Note: I personally really like colors so I tried to make everything with a color to make it insightul.
- Green = all good, nothing really requires attention
- Yellow = a more long term opportunity, or something that should be adressed once all red cells taken care off.
- Red = immediate opportunities or something that can bring quick results.
#1: Analyze Rankings
The first actionable insight is the page/kw combos that really need improvements from a SERP point of view.
Pages with rank 10 or above really require improvements in position since CTR optimization really plays a significant role only on page 1.
Those pages and keywords require a deep look at on page factors and definitely where you should focus your link builder efforts.
If a page is ranking for KW’s primarily on page 2, it’s most likely that the authority of that page AND the user behaviour metrics are poor.
Those pages are basically poor in every sense and need attention from square one basically.
What I will do is mark the positions column for all KW’s in the 10-20 range with YELLOW.
The second category is page/kw’s that are in the 5-10 range – I will mark them as red.
Those keywords for me are the biggest opportunity. Moving them up a few positions can literally be a matter of on page optimization as well as some tweaking of internal links.
The traffic to those pages will spike with every additional step up, as you can see on the CTR curve.
I will make are KW’s in the 5-10 range as RED.
Finally, the KW’s that are in the 1-4 range I will mark as green.
Those don’t really require an improvement in ranking from a link building point of view and probably even on page.
#2: Analyze Impressions
It’s easy to forget that the most important KW’s are actually those that get searched the most (after you have already picked out the ones that have business intent and are relevant to you).
The thing is everything is very relative and thus any recommendations must be relative too.
Here is my view – I focus on the KW’s that are responsible for 80% of my impressions.
Simply filter from largest to smallest and get your total of impressions.
In my case total number of searches is 38,379
I will simply mark in red the KW’s starting from the largest going downwards until I hit 80% of the total impressions (30,700).
Ironically enough, around ~80 out of the ~180 Keywords account for 80% of my impressions.
That is less than half!
Note: if you ran the same search on the unfiltered raw data – in most case you will find that around 10% of the data accounts for 80% of the searches.
Naturally those KW’s for me are the most important since they account for most of the impressions and I will mark those impressions as red.
#3: Analyze by Clicks
Next, I will do the same thing for clicks.
I want to highlight the most important KW’s that generate the ACTUAL most number of clicks.
Total number of clicks is 1593, so 80% is 1275 clicks.
So check this out – 32 out 178 keywords (18%) generate 80% of the clicks.
Excellent, those are marked red.
#4: Analyze by CTR Score
The CTR score is basically simple to interpret.
- 1.0 = perfect
- 0-1 = below perfect
- 1+ = above perfect
So naturally, the first thing I will do is filter where CTR score is 1 or above. Those will certainly be green.
For KW’s that are in the 0.8 – 1.0 range, I will mark them as yellow since they are quite good, and would probably need attention further down the road.
Those below 0.8 are the ones that really need attention.
#Step 6: Data Interpretation aka Picking Your Shots
After you have colorized your table, you should see something like this:
Now your map is really ready and all you have to do is decide where to go!
Let take an example of some rows/ kws: “Musandam Tour“
The keyword is important from an impressions point of view but the position is good and the CTR score is excellent.
Conclusion: I definitely don’t need to touch this KW OR optimize my page or meta tags further for this KW.
Here is another one: “Dhow Cruise Marina“
The KW is important from impressions point of view, but the CTR is low and the position is low.
Conculsion: I need to adjust the meta tags for that page to factor in this KW AND I need to work on improving the SERP for this KW.
Here’s a good one: “Musandam Tours“
CTR is really good, but rank is not so good.
Conclusion: It’s a bit tricky here. Definitely my meta tags are on point, but its really weird that ONE LETTER DIFFERENCE (!!!) – tourS vs tour has such a different rank with Google. Logically, when self describing a page, you will talk about it from a singular point of view – i.e: ‘Musandam Tour’, or ‘we offer a musandam tour’, this most likely the reason for this change is on page optimization since the rank for the page overall is healthy.
Here is great example: “Yacht Cruise Dubai“
Insanely high CTR score but low position. As a result, I’m only getting 10 clicks.
Conclusion: I need to increase the rank of this page by optimizing on page more for this KW AND building links to it. The business intent is there, and people clearly like my meta tag, I just need to move it into the 1-5 range and my sales will start dripping.
I think you are starting to get the idea by now.
Low CTR score on page 1? = Optimize meta tag on that page to factor in that KW and its search intent.
Low SERP? = Optimize on page and build relevant links.
Note: how to actually measure or A/B test your CTR optimization efforts?
Well – they are close to impossible now since it would require building a new sheet like this every month and manually/semi-manually measuring the improvements or declines.
This is why we are working on an awesome tool over that will do everything listed above with 3 clicks.
Hope you found this useful!
If you need help, hit me up in the comments below or over on twitter (@nolabelinc)
Remember – focus on 80% of the kick back, not the 20%.
Focus on high value key words with low search volumes versus low value keywords with high search volumes BUT, only target them if the perceived user intent is a 100% match to the service or product which you intend to rank it for.