Back in December, my Uncle found a small but unique need for websites offering information about Window Replacement and Glass Repair in 14 different Chicagoland zip codes.
My ears perked up.
I’ve wanted to experiment with really aggressive SEO tactics to see if it was possible to take a company from zero—complete non-existence—to being #1 in organic search results.
I did it. It took 3 months of working an extra 10 hours a week, but I did it.
Here’s the friendly disclaimer…
I used what’s called Black Hat SEO tactics to get these results. These tactics aren’t designed for human audience. They are designed to make the most of (some may read “manipulate”) search engine crawls to push your content quickly to the top of search results. I don’t recommend any business going the same route, because Google will eventually find you, and punish your site’s rankings for it. There’s no doubt they’ll do it to my experiment site soon. But I still wanted to try the experiment because I wanted to see what I could learn from it.
Here are the steps I took:
1 – I bought an ugly URL.
My Uncle gave me a city to focus on, and I bought a URL that included the exact city name with the exact key words I wanted to rank on. Since I don’t necessarily want to make it too easy for Google to cut off the results I’m still getting from this experiment, I won’t include the exact URL below, but it looks something like this:
www.[CITY NAME][KEYWORD #1]and[KEYWORD #2].com
I wasn’t kidding. It’s an ugly URL. But I didn’t care what a human would think about it or if it was easy to fit on a business card. I just wanted to buy a URL that was the exact and best match for the search keywords that people would be looking for.
2 – I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote keyword specific content.
My experiment site has about 30,000 words spread across 30 pages. That’s a ton of content, but again, I started at zero. So I created a template for how I wanted the site to look, listing out all the pages that would be included. Then I started writing content for those pages that is littered with my exact keyword matches. I didn’t leave out an opportunity to match keyword searches:
- 10-15% of the content living on each page is an exact match for keywords.
- Page Titles are exact matches for keywords.
- Image descriptions are exact matches for keywords.
- Link descriptions are exact matches for keywords.
You get the picture. Again, it wasn’t a pretty picture. It honestly is a bit awkward to read, but remember, you and I are humans. Google’s search bots aren’t. They (currently) don’t care if it’s easy to read, as long as it’s a match for their keyword search.
3 – I created citations for the experiment site.
Once the content was written and uploaded, I used other sites to point to my experiment site (citations):
- I set up a Facebook business page.
- I started a Twitter account.
- I created a YouTube channel.
- I registered the site with Google My Business.
- I spent $20 with LocalCitationServices.com to have my experiment site listed on 80 local business directories.
Then I waited.
After a couple weeks, my experiment site showed up on page 8 of Google’s search results. A few weeks later it leaped to page 2. Then it crawled to page 1, finally taking it’s place as Google’s #1 organic map result and rotating between the 1-4 organic search results below the map.
I actually took a business from non-existence to the top organic search results in just 3-months. As of the day of this post, my experiment site is still ranking in the top results and it is still generating leads via phone and email for local contractors. The kicker… It’s been 6-months since I’ve even touched the content and it’s still generating results.
The experiment was a success, but here’s the real impact for me:
3 Lessons I learned from my SEO Experiment
One day soon, Google’s search bots are going to start penalizing my experiment website or even ban it from search results completely. But the experiment taught me 3 important lessons that can apply to any business seeking to increase their search result rankings.
Lesson 1: Create the Most Relevant Content
A search engine’s entire job is to find organize the internet to help people find content to match their search queries. So make it as easy as possible for search bots to find relevant content and exact keyword matches within your content. Do your keyword homework to determine what your customer base would be searching for and then create content to match it and use those keyword matches strategically across your written content, page titles, and your image and link descriptions.
Lesson 2: Create Original Content
Original content helps your site stand out to search results. It communicates that you offer a unique voice and that your perspective needs to be included in search results. Originality takes time, energy, and resources, but boost in your search rankings are well worth the expense.
Lesson 3: Prove Yourself Trustworthy
Once you have the relevant and original content in place, take the extra step with citations—other places online that link to your site. Create social media accounts, add yourself to local business listings, register with Google My Business, and keep looking for opportunities to connect your site with others.
There’s a natural cycle to this. If you’re regularly creating good, relevant content on your site and on your social media channels, people will start to interact with it, share it, and talk about it on their platforms. Each of those site visits, likes, comments, upvotes, etc., signal to Google’s search bots that your content matters and should be included in search results. Then, you need to keep posting new, relevant content to keep the cycle going.
BONUS Lesson 4: You Can Do Better Than Me
My SEO experiment made the most of search engine functions, but it had no humanity to it. Search bots are getting smarter. They are starting to index content from websites not just based on relevancy, but on user-experience. There’s a future, not far from now, when user-experience will mean much more to your rankings than relevancy or originality. So remember…
You are the expert.
You know your product like no one else.
You know your customer’s questions before they ask them.
You know what they are looking for.
Use that knowledge to create a ton of relevant content that is also meant for humans to read and engage with. I dare you to create that user-experience that I didn’t bother with. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m betting you’ll outrank me when you do.