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Guest post here. My name's Justin. SEO nerd, founder of Help With Your Hustle digital marketing agency.
The gist of this article? SEO can make you a ton of money, but if you're new to the subject, most articles you find on the subject will almost certainly overwhelm you.
An unfortunate truth is that the very nature of my industry confuses people.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is basically, "the stuff you do in order to get your website on the first page of Google searches."
The people who *teach* that subject? They obviously know how to do that. And there's seemingly millions of us all competing with one another. It's a crowded space, if not the *most* crowded.
What that means for you? It means that if you're a business owner that's not a trained marketer, you're likely going to be searching for things like "what is SEO?" and "how can I get my website on the first page of Google?"
Because there's so many of us competing to be on the top of those results means we are forced to do things to stand out to get there. The ones at the top? Yup. Overwhelming.
Don't believe me? Go search those terms, or ones similar to it. Basically any SEO-related post you search for, the top results are always 5,000 word Ultimate Guides written by software companies that want you to pay $100+ per month for their tool or agencies that want you to “schedule a free consultation" with their sales reps. (Pro Tip: Those free consultations are basically always just sales calls.)
That's not to say there's not well-intentioned businesses out there teaching SEO in uncomplicated ways - you just won't ever find them on page one of Google.
The good news? As long as your business isn't in the marketing niche (and maybe a few others), it's really not that hard to stand out. You can probably do it while ignoring 90% of the advice you'll ever find within the listicles on page 1.
I wrote/recorded videos for the rest of this post pretending I was at a backyard barbecue, having a beer with a friend who might have asked me, "hey Justin, you know SEO, right? Can you give me the nitty gritty? I don't want to invest months of my life learning the stuff. Just tell me what I've really gotta know so I can get started making money with my website."
Well, imaginative friend, you're in luck. Here's the 4 things 90% of us *actually* need to know to grow the traffic to our websites.
1. Fundamentally understand what SEO is and why it's worth investing in
The more traffic you can drive to your website the more money you can make. For example, look at how much traffic this example golf website is receiving and how much money it’s valued at from advertisers alone each month.
How do they do that? In short, there are keywords (fancy word for “what people type into Google”) that are hard to rank for, and keywords that are easy to rank for. The name of the game is finding ones you can rank for, within your area of expertise, and creating pages on your website that are all about those.
2. Fundamentally understand Expertise, Authority, and Trust
Google doesn’t want to be ranking sites that shouldn’t be there. If they ranked poor sources, it would make them look bad and people would trust them less and less.
How do they determine who should be there? Their “crawler” regularly crawls through every website’s publicly available code and deciphers what each site is about. They heavily prioritize niche sites that are all about that one particular topic. For example, if you’re a golf blog - no matter how good of a site you have, they’re not going to rank you when you wrote an article on how to save someone’s life if they’re having a heart attack (they’d prefer to rank a medical website for that). But if you were to write an article on the best golf clubs? Sure, no problem. They see you as *authoritative* on that subject.
Google LOVES a niche site, all about a certain subject. Watch the video below for more on how that works.
3. Have a professional website that's optimized for “on-page SEO”
Remember how I said that Google “crawls” through your website's code in order to decipher what it’s about? That’s why it’s so important to have a well coded website. It makes it easier to crawl, filled with less unnecessary “bloat” code. The more code going on the back end of your site, the less likely you’re going to rank on Google.
Sites like Wix and Squarespace are notoriously bad for bloat code, and I’ve yet to find a website of theirs that is actually performing strongly with SEO.
The absolute best approach for this is to know how to code your own website, or hire someone who can. If that’s not the case, we can’t recommend using Wordpress enough. Some of the most highly trafficked websites in the world use it. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
Need some proof? Check out Neil Patel’s website. 3.1 Million organic traffic from Google every month.
What’s he using? You guessed it. Wordpress.
The benefit of using Squarespace or Wix is that they’re easy for beginners to use. But if your long term goals are SEO success, you’re going to need something else. Obviously do your own research if you’re skeptical to trust me, but when the time comes to get a Wordpress site of your own, consider hiring my agency to build it for you. Our prices start at $3,500 and we do a kickass job. Check out our portfolio here.
Once you’ve got a Wordpress site. Awesome!... now what?
Time to make some content. And not just create it, but optimize it for what’s called “On-Page SEO”
I made a 5 minute video teaching you how to do that, using a free tool called Yoast SEO. Check it out.
4. Create useful, shareable content that solves people's problems
Now that you’re all optimized and ready to hit the ground running… you’ve gotta start running.
From now on, the name of the game is “create content. Forever.”
At least do it consistently. The more articles you can put out the better but quality always beats quantity. The average top ranking post on Google is around 2,000-2,500 words, includes images, internal links and external links. (Internal links are hyperlinks that link to your best pages on your website, external links are hyperlinks that go to someone else’s website. That then becomes a “backlink” for them).
The way you get backlinks to your own website? Make your content as useful as possible. Find a keyword that you can rank for and write the best damn guide you can to solve that person’s problem.
If you’re a new website it might feel like writing into the void for the first six to twelve months, but like anything, if you can stay consistent at it, eventually it’ll snowball and you’ll start to rank on page 1 for things. Once you’re on page 1, you’ll forever onward begin to reap the benefits - and money - it brings.
That's it! I challenge you to find more straightforward advice anywhere on the Internet. In the grand scheme of SEO, yes, there's more to it. It's an entire industry full of full-time professionals like myself, but if you're a regular businessperson that's just trying to make money with your website, honestly - just follow these 5 steps laid out above, consistently put out new content going forward and you'll be able to stand out better than you might ever have imagined.
If you're crazy and you DO want to continue learning more about SEO, I've got a 5-day free SEO course you can sign up for. I've received excellent feedback on it and am very confident you'll learn a lot, totally for free, and it might even be kind of fun to read.
Alternatively, if you don't want to continue learning it yourself and just want to pay someone to make all your problems go away, you can do that too. DM me on Twitter to start a conversation about hiring me to work with you on your business.
A few years from now when you're making a million dollars a month from your website, be sure to invite me to a party on your yacht, or to hang out on your private island. Whatever it is rich people do. 🤷♂️