I am a regular watcher of Craig Campbell’s and Chris Palmer’s “Ask Me Anything” podcast that goes out on Wednesday. During one of these episodes late September they joked that they should have a competition against each other, create a new webpage or site and use whatever the knowledge they had, to see who would rank highest for a particular search term within 60 days. Immediately I thought this would be a great experiment and an opportunity to test the strategies I could use and and compare with their results.
10 minutes later the competition was opened up to everyone, the search term would be “Digital Marketing Las Vegas”, no exact or partial match domains could be used. No dirty hurting other site tactics, but apart from that pretty much everything was open to test.
I decided right from the start there would be no black hat stuff at my end, in fact winning didn’t matter, it would be interesting to compare who got where an how.
The Clean Strategy Starting From Nothing
- I bought a brand new domain “Visibiltybam.com”, don’t know why, except I knew it needed to be a brand. The .com represented, this was to be a USA businesses, albeit a non existing one.
- I then looked at buying a cityscape image of the city, that I could easily change to create unique images, for every article piece. This cost $10 courtesy of a Fiverr advert.
- I then looked a finding a free word-press template to start the site. Every process was to be done as clean as possible as if I genuinely was a Las Vegas Digital Marketing firm.
Get The Technical SEO Right First
Whenever I start a project, especially using WordPress I do some “due diligence first on the structure. So for instance the first WordPress template I chose, after adding a bit of content, I could not get to load very fast with the mobile version. With only 60 days to rank, I did not want to be re-coding stuff just to get an acceptable load time, so that template was binned.
The second template, kept showing “Mobile Errors” within the search console, every live test. It loaded fine into several mobile phones, but once again, seemed too much trouble, so that was binned also.
The third template, loaded at a acceptable speed, and showed no mobile errors, so was chosen, even if I didn’t really like the style of colour, but with only 60 days, beggars can’t be choosers and it was free.
As much as this took several hours of testing this bit of technical SEO, getting speed and mobile stuff right, would have saved much more time down the line.
Keep Within Theme – The Content Strategy
Experience had taught me, that the “Las Vegas” part of the search term, was as difficult to rank for, than the “Digital Marketing” part. So the site, needed to have a Vegas theme running right though it, even on the non marketing pages. This was supported, by the fact so many of the first page results were dominated by SEO directories with listings of local Agencies, including loads of local addresses, zip codes and phone numbers.
- I also choose to keep all pages, within one click of the home page with one exception that I will mention later, so the website would be the main theme, not the sub folder.
- I had visited the La Vegas Pub Com 10 years earlier, this is an annual SEO conference, so the first piece of relevant digital marketing content was a piece about the this conference. Although I was disappointed on how little was now on YouTube compared to 5 years ago.
- The “About Page”, contained a small amount of local information, as well as local zip codes, hotels ans even a picture of me last visit to Vegas 10 years ago. The false name I chose was a bit of a joke, Jamie Claus the long lost Nephew of Santa Claus.
- Each page of content would support the main “money page”, so I looked for existing articles published on local sites, then re-wrote the article adding more content then linked out to these original articles. Every piece would cement the Vegas theme and relate to actual local news.
The exception with the content was creating my own mini directory of other digital agencies within the region. This page would contain several local addresses, phone numbers and zip codes. It was important that Google found the data, but I did not want this page to rank, so it was the only page, 2 clicks deep from the homepage.
Links Needed To Be Cheap
Following my own rules of not using any existing resources. I looked for links on Fiverr, acquiring 5 guest posts in total under $90. Also one quick video, made by my 12 year daughter, published on YouTube.
3 Social media accounts were set up, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Out of these 3, Pinterest, aided the biggest link value.
At The 60 Day Results.
The morning of the final day, this strategy meant I ranked 11th in the UK but a lowly 34 in the States. One of guest posts had still to be cached by Google, so I knew it may climb. However, later that day, all results disappeared as Google started a core update right on cue. Only one other person in the competition ranked higher. A few days later when the update seemed to settle, results returned to position 9 (yes first page) in the UK, but around 25 in the States and dare I say higher than anyone else. However 4 or 5 days too late, to be winner, but that was never the plan anyway.
A week or so later, as I write this, the results are position 4 in the UK but dropped again down to 35 in the USA. The above is a demonstration of how Google shows different results in different countries. One factor to this, is that most metrics on the site are UK based, so I have been rewarded here, but not in America.
When the actual cost if $110 is factored in, to compete with other digital marketing specialist in a huge foreign country, even position 35 is a good result. Most SEO professionals would expect to pay into the thousands to take on existing powerful websites at their own game. But to rank 4th in the UK, is way beyond my expectations, and will use this strategy for future projects.