Lauren Marinigh

How I Won the SEO Game (and Why You’ll Hate Me For It)

By Lauren | May 24, 2016 | 0 Comment

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

Everyone has a different stance on how to properly optimize their websites and content to win over Google’s heart and appear in the top search results. I myself have taken full-blown classes that cost hundred of dollars at a top university to try and learn how to crack the code.

Some people believe that you need to optimize all your content to a core set of keywords, therefore their content is overstuffed with the same words over and over again, which really doesn’t make it very enjoyable for the reader.

Other people believe that you need to spend hundreds of dollars in Google AdWords to try and appear above everyone else in the search results.

There’s also those hooligans that think they need to purchase links on other top sites to “link build” and increase the authority of their site to Google.

Then there’s the people that have been trying everything possible and still fall on the last page of Google despite reading every “best practice” guide.

Google is a tough cookie to crack, and everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to best optimize a website. I’m definitely not an expert in any way, shape or form, so you can either choose to continue reading this or close the tab and never look back. But if you choose to stay with me, you’ll find out how I managed to appear on the first page of Google results whenever someone is looking for a freelancer in Toronto with my expertise.

First and foremost, I started this website for a school project. I never once created it because I planned to heavily pursue freelance work. In fact, at the time, I didn’t even know that freelance work was a possibility for me, or ever really thought about it. My friend helped me put together this website with a pre-made theme I bought online, and WordPress. I personalized the site to my liking and planned to use the website as a compliment to my resume when I applied for full-time jobs going forward.

As part of my website, I wanted to add a blog because I had always been interested in writing and felt like I had a lot to say and share. I started off blogging 2-3 times a week, which obviously became too much pretty quickly and now only write on this blog about 2-3 times a month. Once my site was live, it didn’t take long before it started drawing attention, and not just from friends and family. I was slowly starting to get people reaching out to me for freelance jobs too.

That number of requests over the last couple years continued to build and build, and now I’m at the point where I need to work with a group of other freelancers to pass along projects too (since I do have a full-time job). I didn’t really know where all these people were coming from and why they wanted ME to do work for them, I mean, there’s people in Toronto that are full-time freelancers and could devote more time and energy to these clients.

So I started asking them where they found me, and almost 99% of them said they found me on Google. So I looked for myself and realized that when I typed in “freelance PR Toronto” or “freelance marketing Toronto”, etc. I was coming up on the first page, or even the  first listing over all the other search results. But what was I doing to get such a high authority ranking with Google? Here’s what I think cracked the code:

1) Consistent and original content

I have heard through the grapevine that Google favours high-quality content, and that providing quality content is the most important thing you can do on your website. This isn’t the reason I created my blog on my website, I created my blog because I wanted to write and offer my advice, but the content I was creating was helping with my authority in the topics I was writing about. People were coming to my website to read this content, and people were linking and sharing it because it offered them value.

2) Guest blogging

It’s one thing to pay for links on different websites, especially when these links are relevant to the content on that site, but Google catches on to this pretty quickly. Guest blogging on the other hand can be a great way to increase your authority while providing relevant content and linking back to your own website in your author credit. When I first started blogging, I started writing for other blogs too (which I still do). I was guest blogging on places like TalentEgg.ca, Social Media Today, and different boutique marketing agency websites. I was doing most of this work for free, but since I was just starting out I wasn’t thinking about getting paid for it, I just enjoyed it and it was getting my name (and website) out there. (P.S. I will rarely write for free anymore, so please don’t bother asking)

3) SEO Plugins

On this blog you’re reading I have the “All in One SEO” plugin. After taking a class in SEO and getting overwhelmed by the HTML code that I needed to add into my website and each blog post to make sure it had title tags, meta descriptions, and things to this day that I still don’t understand even after hundreds of dollars and university certificate to prove it. The solution? I downloaded a plugin on WordPress that creates little easy to use forms on each page that I can simply type in a title and description. On my travel blog, I use Yoast, which is said to be the best one. When I downloaded this plugin I didn’t know if it would actually do much, and to be honest, I don’t know if I can attribute my SEO success to the plugin solely, but it seems to obviously help in some way or another, without me having to master HTML.

Doing these three things is what I believe got me to the top of Google. Maybe it was just luck in the end, but the above definitely helped. So why will you hate me? I really don’t have a solid guarantee that by doing the above you’ll also master the SEO game, but what I’ve noticed is that when you develop content on your website that is relevant and valuable, it can make the world of a difference.

So now are you disappointed that this was another post that didn’t give you the complete secret to mastering SEO? If so, I’m sorry 😉

 

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Lauren

Sharing my inspiration, advice, opinion & fun stuff one post at a time.

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