last updated 16 February 2022

How to Do SEO Link Building for Financial Services Websites and Get Leads For Free

If you're a financial adviser or mortgage broker and you want to get more traffic to your website without paying for every click then you need to be doing some SEO (search engine optimisation).

And a big part of that is link building.

Link building is all about getting other websites to link through to your site. It helps your SEO because Google sees each of these inbound links as a vote of confidence in your site. And each of these votes of confidence is a sign that your website has authotity and is worthy of ranking highly in Google's organic search results.

To help you learn more about link building and how to acquire more links in the competitive world of financial services, I interviewed SEO and link building expert George Blandford from Linkology. The above video is a recording of that interview. 

During the interview, George and I thoroughly discussed link building, and we shared SEO tips that will help you generate more traffic to your website organically. 

Watch the video and you’ll learn:

  1. A quick overview of what link building is
  2. How can link building help in strengthening your brand’s trust and credibility
  3. Link Building 101: basic ideas to start your own link building
  4. The right way and wrong way to do link building
  5. Why due diligence is important
  6. How broken link building works
  7. How to convince other website owners to link to your site
  8. What Google's algorithm is and how it works
  9. How to measure the success of your link building
  10. The importance of checking your website’s user experience
  11. Why Google My Business reviews are so important
  12. Which is the better kind of content: downloadable PDFs or standard website articles

If you’ve been wondering how you can generate more leads and enquiries for your financial services website - whether you're an IFA or a mortgage broker - or if you’re thinking about whether you should start your own link building campaign, then you really must watch this video.

A full transcript appears below.

Full Transcript

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's Facebook Live. It's great to have you with us, whether you are actually watching this Live today on Tuesday at 4:30, or you are watching it later on the replay. Great to have you with us either way. As most of you probably know, my name is David Miles and I'm on a mission to help mortgage brokers and financial advisors to generate a consistent flow of leads from their own websites so that they can stop stressing about where the next clients coming from. 

Now, today I've got a special guest with me. His name is George Lanford and he's from the company UK Linkology. Hi, George. Good to have you with us. 

Hi. 

I'm gonna be chatting to George about SEO or Search Engine Optimization to give its full name. A particular branch of SEO that's called link building. Now, as most of you know, although I know about SEO, I'm more of a Google ads kind of guy. I'm more of a pay per click person. Then, today started of hearing about that, we've got the other side of the Google coin, the SEO, which is one of our organic searches. 

We're gonna have a fight alley.

We're gonna have, a virtual fight over PPC versus SEO. We're gonna be explaining a bit about what SEO is in particular? What link building is and why it's important? Also, sharing some tips about how you can go doing link building yourselves as a way of getting more traffic to your website and ultimately, therefore, getting more leads from it. 

Then, just before we get going, I’ll check if the tech is all working. If you're watching this at the moment if you could put a comment in. Just to say hello or put #live or #replay. Let's know if you're watching it live on the replay. Just that way I can just check that the comments are coming up as expected, so when we get to your questions, I will know and they're going to appear as they should do. 

Yeah. I can see that's working. Hi, Paul. Good to see you. As we talk about your questions, as we go through, do feel free to put questions into the chat.  What I’ll do is I'll try and keep an eye on that as well as ask George my own questions. I'll try and multitask. Then, if I see something come up in there, I will throw your questions in as well. We'll also scoop those up at the end.

If you're watching this on the replay, feel free to put questions in as well, because both George and I will be dipping back into the group in the next few days. Any new questions that come in, we will pick those up as well. Then just the final thing, do stick around till the end because we, actually it's got a free beat for all of you as a thank you for coming on today. We'll give you details of that at the end of the interview.  Without further ado, let's get started. George, great to have you with us. How how long have you been involved in the world of SEO? 

Before SEO, it was basic advertising. It was kind of like skyscraper banners and ads. Then from that, the market shifted into SEO and digital. That was the big focus. As a link building specialist, I've been doing it for about seven years. My business partner, Jason, who founded the business has been doing it for 16 years. Between us, we've got a lot of experience. I came from larger agencies before Linkology. We've kind of stayed ahead of the curve with Google which is very important.

Fantastic. I suppose, actually, we ought to just start right with the very basics. Just for the benefit of anyone watching, who doesn't know, can you just give us sort of a very quick overview of what actually is link building? Why is it important and how's it fit into the whole SEO mix?

Okay. There are many different factors when Google tries to work out who to prioritize on the search results. A lot of that comes down to trust and authority. Now, if we take it back to basics, if you were looking for a nice restaurant near where you lived, one of your friends said that there's a great steakhouse around the corner. Then, another one poked up and said that he had been there and it was fantastic. You are more likely to go and have a steak at that restaurant.  

That's a similar thing with Google. These links that we produce or websites can attract or indicate to Google that you’re are popular and that your trustworthy because the types of websites that are linking back to you are seen as authoritative. Now link building is one aspect of SEO, and it sits in the offsite camp because all of the activity happens away from your website. Whilst on-site, SEO might be the headers, meta descriptions and image tags. Everything that sits on your own website that you control. Link building like PR mentions,  things like that happen away from your website. Then, it's controlling those signals external to your site.

Okay. What I've understood you correctly and what you're saying really is each of those links from another site to yours is kind of like a vote. 

All the Confidence. It's like a little digital endorsement. Kind of what link building companies do is they're scattering these breadcrumbs around for Google to pick up. After it sees a number of these links coming for a long time, it makes that positive association and believes that you're more popular than you might have naturally looked initially. Also, Google's more confident to then put you up to the top of the search rankings because it believes you are gonna offer search people who are using the search engine, good experience, the right answers. That type of thing.

Got you. Also, can you explain to me this restaurant concept you mentioned? I vaguely remember those from years ago

Yes. If you imagine.

No, I  haven't been in a restaurant for so long.

Oh, right.  All those things. 

I understood all the link building things. It was just a restaurant. What's that about? Because what's interesting is that as well as I think most people when they talk about SEO, are people who aren't in the industry, but have heard about SEO and here it's something they need to do. They tend to think about those things. The onsite things, title tags, headers, meta tags and stuff.

Yes. The easiest first thing that you're gonna control is the stuff that you can play around with paragraphing and keywords. It's quite straightforward. but actually, the bits that happen away from your site are much more laborious. They take a lot of time to do it right.

Yeah. I see. Obviously, if these links are that important, then, what kind of things can website owners, you have guys watching today? What can they be doing to get more things? Since, I guess with the best one in the world, if you are a small mortgage brokerage in whatever town, you're not naturally gonna get loads of people linking to you because you're not a big household name. 

No, It's difficult. I mean for most people, unless you're somebody like Nike or a well-known brand, picking up links naturally is a hard thing to do. Then, ask for reviews if you were offering products to a company. You could offer a product review. You could reach out to local customers that have used services and ask them to link back to. 

I used to be in financial services back in the day. For example, an insurance broker who deals with a lot of commercial insurance could ask their business colleagues or business clients to link back out to them as a reputable firm. Those types of things are aspects you can control. 

Another type of link is called a citation and that to you and I is a directory listing. Then, getting your business listed on various free directory sites is a really good thing to do because that is a link. It shows that you are a legitimate reputable business. That's one way of growing your link profile. 

You can do it manually yourself. You could invest in lots of software and you could basically reach out to publishers that you believe are relevant niches for what you are doing. You could create content which is how we kind of go about attracting our links. You could supply articles, from an experience point of view and weave in links back to your site or you could use an agency. Obviously, there's a cost involved there but it saves you a lot of time.

There are lots of ways of doing it. In terms of how you go about doing the link building and you could do link exchanges, which is where you could link out to somebody. Also,  they could link back to you is kind of like a swap. You could do something called broken link building, which is a little bit more technical where you go around the web looking at articles. Finding links that don't work, contacting websites and offering to replace that link. There are lots of different ways of doing it. 

Okay. Obviously, you talked there really about are ways of how you can kind of, I guess, accelerate this process. Perhaps we delve into some of those a bit more in a moment. But, what's Google's view on this?  Because obviously, we started by saying that Google sees each link to you as a vote of confidence for your website which is great. Where does that line lie? I suppose between natural votes and going out and paying for votes. Rigging reelection as it were.

Okay. The official line from Google is that anything that you do to manipulate your link profile is against Google's terms of service. Officially you are not meant to do anything. You're not meant to send a product for a review. You're not meant to ask for a link. You can't get link exchanges. You can't reach out to all clients. Everybody is supposed to sit around and holistically run their websites to link to whoever they want to link to. Not be kind of influenced by any outside factors. 

Now, unfortunately, nobody else plays by the rules. Not at least most people in the markets. Then, in competitive industries, of course, financial services are very competitive. You kind of has to work all the angles with what you've got at your disposal now that there are ways of attracting links naturally. There are ways of buying links through a service like ours in the safest way possible. Also, of course, there are always ways of doing it in a dodgy way. Now, one of those ways is using overseas providers typically, and they run things called blog networks. Not sure if everyone's heard of that.

Is that the same as PBN? 

Yes. A PBN fundamentally is an individual who owns several different websites. Usually on the same IP address saying, static IP, that basically linked to each other, like a spider's web. If you imagine looking at a spider's web on a wall and you've got 300 sites at each different point. They all kind of link to each other and Google can see this. It can seem that all of these sites are owned by the same person. If you get a link on any one of these 300 sites, Google can detect a pattern and potentially get you into a lot of trouble. You can get the index and you can get penalties. Then, there are ways that you can get into a lot of trouble by doing or building links.

However, the way to mitigate this risk is to make sure that at every stage of the work, everything looks natural. For example, if we are creating content editorial, the article is of good quality. It's written by a native speaker with a decent level of intelligence. The subject is attractive. It's timely and what you are linking out to makes sense. 

If you are creating an article on how to retain staff or how to grow your workforce, then you link out to an insurance broker that talks about health insurance and one of those paragraphs might be offering good health insurance for your employees that are completely natural. It makes sense why you're linking that to that person. Make sure that the websites which host these articles that you or I create are of good quality. They come from reputable sources. They've got good link profiles. We do due diligence on these sites to make sure they're legitimate basically.

Right. Also, I gave this where we get into the whole thing of white hat SEO versus black hat SEO. Presumably what we're talking about here is white hat SEO and sort of the private blog networks. That’s you would've been there and that's more in the black hat kind.

I guess it's a funny one. The kind of the line in the sand has moved over time. Then, back in kind of when I started, which is just after the penguin update algorithm 2012, that was the big one. What basically happened is before that, the black hat was automatic link building. This is where somebody could build 3000 links at the press of a button. This is where you would have loads of keywords stuffed into the bottom of your website. The background and your text would be white and it'd be BBC news and all that type of thing. 

Yeah. The things like mortgage broker and London mortgage broker, all those just crammed in there for no.

Really hot keywords are just sort of hidden in the sight. That was your old school black hat. White hat was like the clean part of the market. Now kind of the market shift again, and actually link building isn't is an accepted thing to do. But again, it's about doing it, right. Then, making sure that each part justifies the next, that for me sits in the white hat camp. Black hat is kind of still the network manipulation. These networks obviously cause those problems buying followers, buying signals, and click-through rate manipulation. All that type of stuff is in my mind, black hat, very unnatural. 

Right. I see. You talked earlier about, well, I think I understood you correctly, you were saying that you create content, articles and stuff now. Is that content to go on your own website? Is there stuff there for people to link to? Or, are you talking about you creating an article and then you ask someone else to publish it on their website, and within that article was a link back to your site? 

Yeah, the latter. We would create, for example, the web publisher that we find that we think would be a good option might be business123.com, just to think and create. Then, within that site, there would be a blog, an active blog. We would write an article, which would be within that site based on the tone, the structure and the ideation. Within that article that we produce will be a link back to our client site. And then, that article gets placed on the third-party site, the Business123. Google crawls that new piece of content as a new page, and sees this authoritative site,  Business123, mentioning our client linking back to our client's page. 

It seems that mention and that association is an authoritative vote of confidence. A number of those regularly start and move the needle because it makes an impact. It gives Google the confidence to try you in a better position.

I see. It's kind of a win-win I guess. Since in that example, Business123 are effectively getting people. Writing content for their site for free. Then,  it's helping their site become bigger, but of course, the person they are into is winning because they're getting an inbound link.

Yeah, One of the other differences between the kind of what sort of service you end up going with, or which part of the market where there's black or white hat is these publishers have the right to reject content. Then, the people that we work with, they're individual webmasters. They're proper websites and they've got might have a social following. 

Like yours, for example, you've got a Facebook group. Your sites will establish. There's a proper website, so they have the right to reject an article or ask for changes. They might give us topic ideas, guidelines, content lengths. They're bothered about what they post whilst a blog network. It could literally be gibberish, a thousand words of gibberish. Also, they’re to say, give us some money and they'll post whatever you want to post. 

Those used to work years and years ago. Since Google wasn't so good at doing what it does. Now the algorithm has moved on. It's so complex. You have to basically do everything as if you've hired some Highline PR agency. Then it's just it's appeared naturally and you've got to do that.

Yeah, I see. The whole thing is in it. You are giving a push to something that has to look like it's happened naturally. 

Exactly. Yes.

I've got you. Actually, the thing you've said there about rejecting content, I get this sometimes that people, find my own blog and then send me articles saying “At this article when you publish it…” I look at it and go. Well actually no, and they're offering money sometimes. No, I don't wanna publish this because it's it should really crappily written basically. I don't want to degrade my website by having that on there,

In fact, for your site, the last thing you wanna be doing is ranking for keywords that are completely irrelevant for your website.

Yeah. You mentioned broken link building earlier on. That's something I've done a little bit of myself and I've found that can be quite an effective way of doing things. Assuming we're talking about the same thing. You are talking there or you're about where you are reading a site like  Business123, for example. Keep that example and you see they're linking to an article that explains what Google ads are. You click it and it doesn't go anywhere. 

At that point, I could go to  Business123, and say that I noticed you've got a broken link. Yes, I'll let you know. By the way, you could link to my site instead because I've got an article about the same thing. 

Yeah. I've found this thing for you, please reward me with a link. 

Sounds a bit cheeky, but it does actually if you put the effort in it, doesn't it? 

Yeah. It does work, especially if we typically do that. We've got kind of a PR outreach offering which is a secondary product and that's where we have a resource. A real quality resource. Then, rather than linking to a sales page or a, lead funnel, which is quite tempting. We might create an infographic or a video. It might be a data study and there's a page that has got some statistics in there. Then, we would say, “Look, actually link out to this is a really credible resource”. That's really good for broken link building. 

Yes. I mean, I know from doing this, there can be a fair bit of involvement in this. In fact, anyone or some of the people watching may have seen it in the SEO section of my blog. I've got an article there where I went through a process called Shotgun Skyscraper Link Building, which got me some good results but was quite time-consuming. Is that because I was doing it wrong or does it actually take quite a bit of time and effort if someone wants to do with some sales?

Yeah. It's time. I mean, if you start as a business, you've got lots of to do it. On evenings and weekends, you could naturally reach out to sites and write an article. There are ways of doing it. Unfortunately, you'll get to a point quite quickly where you might be ranking for your brand name, but your site ultimately is just a glossy business card.

It doesn't actually perform for the keywords at driving traffic. Actually, when you look into it, the sites that are ranking well are very well established. They've got big budgets and they're all doing a lot of activity. Of course, rankings are always proportionate to competition. Everything's moving all the time. Then, doing it yourself, you can normally get so far. You need a lot of links, a lot of work, and a lot of regular content.

It's very difficult to do that in house. Now, a lot of people do try and grow a team, but then you're looking at several different salaries, holidays, liabilities and sickness. Also, it is not that predictable. You'll find that if you start doing links. Just talk about link building because that's what I do. 

You probably attract a decent amount of links for the first couple of months. Then, it will slowly get harder and harder to find these opportunities. That's when having an agency that’s got a lot of quick wins makes a big difference. 

Our agency's been doing link building for 12 to 13 years. We've been doing outreach all day, every day and in every single niche. We've got a lot of relationships that will get you a lot of good quality links. Whilst if you are starting from scratch, it's very slow. Our outreach, which is outreach obviously the word I use for sending an email and building a relationship with a publisher. It is manual. It does take time. You have to follow them up. You have to send reminders. You have to ask them to post the content. There’s a lot of organization. Yes, there's nothing that we do fundamentally that is magic. It just needs to be managed properly. 

Yeah. I suppose it's a bit like, I think you mentioned PR earlier. I suppose the analogy is it's a bit in the traditional PR world. If I wanted to get my business mentioned in whether it's the local paper, in the Daily Telegraph or whatever, I can potentially do that myself. Although, I've got to wine and dine. I've got to know the phone numbers or emails of a lot of journalists to even get in touch with them 

It takes a long time. 

Yeah. Whereas by using an agency, they've got those relationships already. 

Some of the sites that we work with will respond to one or two emails and they'll say, “Yes, send us an article and we’ll have a look”. Then, other publishers, it's taken months to get links. I remember we did a campaign for fiat years ago and it took eight months to get this one link that we want to get. Eight months of emailing and contacting just to get one conversion. It can take a long time, that's obviously why services cost what they cost because of the resource. 

It's very difficult to make link building profitable unless you specialize in it. Having an agency that just does that and even all systems and all the account managers, all geared up, ready to do it. Trying to do it in-house is expensive. Also, you can't predict how many links you're gonna get. If I spend 10,000 on staffing, software and all this type of thing, how many links are that gonna give you? You just don't know. It's not predictable. 

Yeah, I suppose. I mean, actually going back to what you said at the beginning about that sort of battle between SEO and PPC. This is when I'm talking about the comparison between the two. One of the things I do always point out to people is there's this perception of this myth for SEO is free. The thing I always say is it's free at the point of the click. 

Then, it doesn't cost you anything to get someone to click on your organic result and come to the site, but in the same way that the NHS is free at the point you use it. Although, it's only there because you've paid your taxes for as many years beforehand. It's a bit the same with this, isn't it? You've gotta put the work in front to get the free clicks further down the line.

Either cost you thousands before you get the results or it cost you years in time to get the site working. 

Yeah. Do there any tools that use to automate some of this process, like the outreach that you talked about or finding who are good sites to approach.?

Yes. There are. I mean the industry software for evaluating sites is typically Ahrefs. Another one is called Majestic and another one is called Semrush. All three of them do a similar type of thing. They evaluate these publishing sites. Then, they will look at the quality of their existing link profile. They look at the sort of traffic they get. The sort of keywords they rank. For IP addresses where the site's located. You can do quite a lot of due diligence with any one of these bits of software. 

I mean we have licenses with literally everything. We've got 25 licenses but you can choose just one and get a good feel for it in terms of the outreach bit, rather than having to send individual emails. You could use a ProLike. Mailshake is one that we use. 

Yeah. I've heard of that. 

That's pretty good. I use that for sales outreach. We do it for normal publishing relationships, building relationships. 

That's crazy. We'll send an email to someone and then we'll automatically send them a nudge. You fly off, send out of time. 

Yes, schedule and follow-ups. You can also do a clever kind of merging where you tag first name, company, name, last name and another special detail. You can merge that with a spreadsheet that you build so that there are clever ways to make emails look natural. But apart, what we find works best is a combination of both. 

A mixture of a bit of Mailshake kind of gets that initial engagement. Then once somebody responds, we normally take it off Mailshake. We do proper conversations, like a real human pick up the phone, interact with them on social. You got to work every angle. Yes, there is software that works. 

Okay. I'm just looking at the comments as well. Don't forget if you have questions asked that come up from what we're talking about here, do put them in the comments. I will interject with those as well. One thing I'm often asked, and I remember being asked this back in the day when I had my own agency and SEO is one of the things we advise people on. The big question that is always asked is, how long does it take to see results? Has there ever used to be a concrete answer to that? Has that changed in recent years? 

No. The meme at the moment in the SEO line is it depends. That is pretty although it's annoying for the person who ultimately signs off the budget. It's a difficult one to predict because first of all, as I said, there are lots of external factors. 

Google is the biggest one. It can come out with an algorithm update. It can just shape the earth and upset rankings very quickly. The penguin monitor I talked about, was the biggest one. Since then, at least annually, there have been significant updates. That is one aspect. 

Secondly is that competitors are always building links. They're doing changes to the sites that ultimately have an impact. Then, obviously, make sure you make the right choices with budgets as others.

In terms of time scales, it's a hard one to predict. Everybody starts in different positions. They'll be brokers out there who are well established. They've been around for years. They've got a lot of legacies. It might take less work for them to see results. Loosely speaking for a decent spend on a building campaign, we would expect to see a positive impact kind of three to six months in. Although, if anybody tries to give you a concrete answer, I would run a mile because it just smells of biases.

I guess by the same token, anybody who says they guarantee to get you certain SEO results that should win. 

How can you guarantee something if you can't see the algorithm? No one can see it. No one actually knows a hundred per cent what the formula is. What are the ratios? You've just got to use experience and kind of play around with different clients campaigns to see what works. Testing. 

Yeah. 

It's a difficult one. The smart thing to do, especially in this industry is to target longer tail keywords or very niche, specific keywords. Rather than just more compare more, it would be subcontractor mortgage, or it might be CCJ mortgage. The terms that have less search volume, but ultimately you get better conversion. I'm sure it's the same with PPC. 

I say SEO guy and the PPC guy went exactly the same page here because that's what I'm always telling clients, mortgage brokers and IFAs in particular since it's so competitive. Also, anyone who's in my membership program will know that one of the very first modules in the training in there is choosing a niche because if you can try and if you are aiming to be found on Google ads and it'll be the same for SEO for something specific, mortgages for NHS staff. That's a far better bet than just trying to be found for mortgage advice.

Buy a mortgage. Yes.

Yeah. You've got less competition with niche keywords and the people who search for those generally have a better idea about what they're looking for.  They're more likely to be buyers rather than tire kickers.

Yeah. Somebody searching for CCJ mortgages, for example, knows that they have an issue. They know that it needs to be carefully handled and ultimately,

They can just walk into the high street bank. 

No. If somebody out there can take that lead and place their business with a provider, they're gonna go through that mortgage because they've got fewer options. Yes. It’s a balance track. Same with PPC. It's a balance between the bid price or SEO. How competitive that keyword is and then versus the cost of acquiring that type of visibility. 

Would it be better to spend £50 on a click to compare mortgages or would you spend £3 on one of the keywords we talked about and then spend your time educating that person, getting them familiar with your brand to then convert them at a lower cost? It's the same with link building. I would suggest targeting unless it's a website. That's very close to performing on those big keywords. For everybody else, just niche down. Find something specific to focus on and then get them into your site. Keep them on the hook, send them information post or regular content and you will convert them. 

Yeah, definitely. We've had one question which actually I was gonna ask you myself at the moment which is from Mikey. It says, “I'm interested to understand what the cost might be and how we would quantify the success of employing this as an option. I'm guessing they mean the cost of basically getting you or an agency like you to do this. What sort of costs are involved?”

A lot of agencies have minimum campaign spending. We don’t. There's no minimum order value per unit. If you imagine a unit is an article that we write that is based on the keyword that you want to target and the page really linking back to. Then, a link in an article on a site, that's a unit. The cost of that depends on the economy’s scale. Like everything, the length of the editorial, the quality of that site and the reason we do it that way. It's a fair way based on the number of resources taken to build that relationship. We talked about that site that took three months. That'll be an expensive link because it saves you three months worth of headache, but we have to get remunerated for that three months worth of pain.

It kind of is proportionate. To answer your question, you're looking at the kind of £150 to probably £350 per unit, depending on the quality. People tend to go for a handful of hours per month normally. Although, you don't have to sign up for a monthly thing with us. You could do as much money or as little as you like. 

If you land a big contract, spend a bit of money on your site. Dip in and out when you need to. Although, doing a little bit each month is sensible because what you are saying to Google is you're constantly sending these signals that people are talking about you and that you are building up popularity. If you suddenly do a massive, great big peak of activity and then drop off a cliff, it kind of suggests that there was a lot of press and a lot of noise about you. Then, there was nothing to sustain it. 

Before it starts to look unnatural again, doesn't it? Like it wasn't people naturally talking about you. It may be happening because you did a shipload of SEO that month.

You want to have a nice upward curve trajectory, it's called link velocity, which is a speed that you acquire these links. Then, the campaign spends wisely. People typically spend anywhere between 503,000 a month. We've got clients that spend, I've on insurance direct insurer who spends about 25K a month. But that's because they're going after these big terms that we've talked about hundreds of thousands.

And they're up against comparing the market and all those kinds of big boys. 

Yeah.

If I've understood that correctly, then that's quite different from a lot of SEO agencies that I've come across. Because with most of them, they'll charge you a monthly retainer of X where it seems to be anything from a couple of hundred quid to several thousand. But there's not a guaranteed kind of a number of links that whereas, with what you are saying, there you are paying for actual successful link placement.

It’s completely predictable. Where you'd have a retainer and part of that retainer might be two links per month and 10 hours on the site. You don't actually have much in the way of quantifiable information about what those links are gonna be and the impact they're gonna make. Whilst with what we do, it's all based on deliverables. 

If you spend 2,000 on 10 links except for argument sake, you are gonna get those 10 links. Then, if for some reason a site decides they wanna link back to you. We find a replacement. You're able to see the sites first and you get to read the content. It's controllable. There's lots of visibility and you know exactly what your spends gonna be.

Yes. I mean, that's really, unless you're doing dodgy stuff, as close as you can get to a guarantee in the SEO world, isn't it? It's a guarantee of actual links. Obviously, you can't guarantee the results of that link because of all the things we talked about. 

Yeah. But that to me feels far less risky than the things where you just chuck money at SEO company every month and hopefully I get you some links.

Yeah. Throw money into a pot. Crush your fingers and hope that something happens. We don't contract people. People stick around because they're happy and not because they bit paper towels and they're there for 11 months more. We'd rather people stuck around because they saw an impact.

Yes. Because one of the things I have to get to mention, later on, one of the things that George can offer to do is for anyone who is a member of The Predictable Pipeline Program, you are offering a 10% discount on your services, aren’t you? 

10%, campaign and an audit as well, link audit. That can sort of be part of the key. I can do some keyword research. I can benchmark your site. I can make some suggestions about certain pages that look good, waste of structure, a campaign.

Okay, fantastic. We talk more about that towards the end, but so I guess kind of link to that. One of the things I've sometimes come across is people say to me, “I’ve been talked to an SEO company and they're saying that they'll do my SEO for £300 a month.” I generally, must not be getting X number of links that's for just your SEO. I generally say mostly that you're frankly, better off not bothering at that kind of level.

Absolutely. Well for that kind of money, for 300 quid, you're gonna be getting automated reports. There were out there, you could probably pay £50 for a license and you put your website in. What it basically does is it'll produce a 20 page PDF that shows you your keyword visibility, the traffic you've had, page speed and the standard sort of stuff. They'll just be printing that off and emailing it. You're sending it to you and charge you for the privilege. You might get you a fortnightly checking but you've gotta break that fee down for £300. 

How many hours is that person gonna be spending on your SEO one at most? How much impact will one hour make? How much impact will it make after the sixth month? You could probably find that they make some changes in the first couple and then not much really moves. 

This only isn’t putting the time into finding links or writing good quality content because they can't justify it. On top of that, the owner has to pay corporation tax and personal tax. It's gotta take away all the deductibles office costs. There's nothing in it. If you had 300 quid spend, you'd be better off putting on PPC or Facebook marketing probably. That's what I would do with it or putting it to content. Spend the money on writing five or six good quality articles. Build up a bit of a quality site there, content-wise.

Yeah. I'll put it on my favourite. Now one thing, I know people talk a lot about in SEO, particularly in recent years, is the importance of website speed. I want you to get your sort of taking on that. People say that the speed of the website is, now really important for SEO. Is that true or is that just hype from people trying to sell you web speeding up software?

Yes. My knowledge for onsite is not as good as it is offsite. My opinion on this is that it's a bit of a buzzword. I think SEO speeds is something that everybody runs to, like you said, to push software. I think you need to make sure that the user experience-wise, it's good for the person looking at your site.

If a site takes, 10 seconds to load, I would go back to Google and I would go click on the next result. Those are signals that you're sending to Google, your bounce rate. That's not very good if lots of people are clicking on your site and then disappearing. That's only gonna hurt your rankings because Google doesn't know that person is left because it's a slow load or because what they've clicked on is completely irrelevant for what they're looking for, which means that the association between that click and that response, it is telling Google that they should not be in that position.

For that reason, you would wanna have a site that loads properly but saves quarters of seconds here. Now, I think is obsessive. Overall it's a user experience. I think that's the most important thing. Make sure they engage on the site. Make sure that the dwell time gets. How long do they settle site scrolling through and clicking through? How deep do they go into a site? Whether they go into different sections; about us and contact forms? That’s what you need to be focusing on. Harnessing that traffic.

That's kind of a general rule of thumb, isn't it really? If you do things to keep your users happy, you are also as a secondary effect by keeping Google happy. 

Absolutely. Yeah. 

Final question for me, and then I'll just see if any others are coming on the chat when I'm asking you this. If you had to give the people watching today three top SEO tips, what would they be?

Okay, Three tips for me. Keyword research is a massive one. You don't need to have access to all the software in the world, but you can look at what is your competition of doing. Look at the phrasing that they're using. Whether they're trying to optimize for really big terms, like comparing mortgage or they're looking for something that's a long tail, lower search volume. 

Choose your keywords carefully, and then make sure that things like your headers, your meta descriptions, the onsite elements are optimized properly. Don't overcook it but make sure that things that your ratios are good. Things that your SEO plugins are good. They indicate to you how many times you're repeating your keyword. Those tools are free. That's really important. That's something that doesn't cost you anything and is important. 

That's more a one-off job as I was saying. One that you could actually, if you sat down for a few hours or a weekend, depends on the size of your site, you could go through your whole site and do all that. That optimization in one hit. 

Yeah. Also, it's not permanent, is it? At the end of the day, you can try something and you can optimize your site for it. Actually, if it's not working, then you can go back in and you can tweak it. You can play around, do some split testing yourself and you change one thing. See the impact it makes. 

Then, that kind of research element with the keywords leads on to the second thing, which is the importance of content. Now, everybody, chats about the content being king and it is really cheesy, but ultimately you need enough to meet there for Google to crawl. Now, if your homepage isn't ranking for a specific keyword and you wanna rank for as you said, mortgages for NHS staff, you can write an article. Right at the thousand-word article, or pay an agency to write an article that focuses on that keyword. Get an index and get it on your site.

You've got a good chance of ranking for that keyword. Then, that is the keyword research then leads to the second point, which is, content being important. Make sure you're posting regular content is good quality. You're linked to reputable sources. That freshness indicates to Google that it's a busy real site. That's a really good signal to send. 

The third one is down to things like Google my business directory listings. We talked about at the beginning, which with the citations is the accuracy of your data. A prime example would be your address, your telephone number and your web address, where you're putting “www.”, or if you're putting “HTTP/.”. 

Google my business, just in case people way, that's what drives the local map results and come up when a search or something.

That's really important. Make sure whatever you have on Google my business listing is exactly the same as the letter and spacing in your postcode, things like that. That you've got on your directory listings on your website everywhere. It has to match up otherwise if some inconsistencies can cause problems with Google. We've done testing before where clients like you said, they've had “www.” instead of URL. They had spacing in the postcode and it's completely thrown off.  They've got an extra line in the address and then they've removed it somewhere else. That's caused big problems. Then, that's really important. All of those things are really low cost. Those have been my tips for people getting started.

Fantastic. Well, I hope you've got a good mixture thereof. Some things people can do themselves if they've got the time and the inclination. Also, if they want some help with it, then obviously, you guys clearly, know what you're talking about. There are a lot more guarantees around deliverables with what you are doing. There is a lot of SEO companies. The help is there if people want it. 

Just coming back to what I mentioned earlier on. The fact if people want to use your services. Also, we've got one question coming from Nick, “Is it right that posting weekly on your own Google business page and answering your own question helps with the ranking?

Do you mean on the actual Google my business listing?

Yeah.

I would say that's a good thing to do. In another business I'm involved in, we post competitions, regular pitches, questions, and answers. Any type of engagement is good, but it is better if you could get a family relative, a previous customer or somebody to engage on that reviews, who are really good on this massive. Since again, it's giving them confidence that you're authoritative and you're reputable. 

Yeah. I guess as well with reviews. Because I've seen this before where I was in a networking group where sometimes someone would say, “Oh, could everyone here do me a favour and go and leave me a Google review if you’ve done business with me?” I said to him, I don't think that's a good idea because even though their genuine reviews but if you suddenly get your 10 in one week and mean nothing for six months. That starts to look a bit suspect to Google.  It should be something you just ask to do regularly, I guess.

 

Yes. I mean the natural thing would be to ask people on completion. Whether you're doing mortgages or insurance. Whatever it might be, you could have a steady stream of business coming through. Asking people to leave a review or recommendation, could incentivize you. You could say, leave a recommendation and introduce somebody else like those introducer schemes. Put that in with your Google reviews. You need to run a competition.

I leave us a review and once a month everyone's led to review that month, whatever. 

Again, if officially, according to Google, we're not gonna do any of this stuff. Everybody does. Actually, as long as you do things a careful way. It's considered fits in with kind of the amount of business you've got going on the traffic that's coming to the site. Just don't take the meek. Make sure don't overcook it. 

Yes, makes sense. What I was saying before, if anyone who's a member with The Predictable Pipeline Program wants to use your service, they can get 10% off and I will post details of that in The Predictable Pipeline community after this. For those who aren't members, pitch people who are in the Facebook group and are watching this today. I believe we've got a free offer for them of you all to have a strategy call and an audit. 

Yeah. I'm happy to make some recommendations. Everybody's in different positions, whether you are just starting out or whether you're 10 years in. Everyone's website is different. Then, I would basically spend a couple of hours having looked through the site. Take a look at your backlink profile and have a look at the competition. See what sort of keywords you're ranking for and make some sensible suggestions about what to go after. Basically, how to justify the spend.

Rather than just throwing a load of money at something and hoping that it works. Actually, saying, look here's a group of keywords that are tied into a page. This looks good. These are why you should go for them. Building out a bit of a proposal for you. That's free of charge thing. 

If someone wants to take it, what's the best way for someone to contact you if they want to do that.

Facebook's fine or you can email me at [email protected] We'll put it in somewhere on the Facebook group.

Yeah. And if I just mention this Facebook group?

Yes. You're in the group and we can make sure we saw out with the audit. Then obviously, there's a special offer code for members as well. What might end up happening is, we do an audit and we give you some advice. Actually, you want to move forward with the campaign. The cheapest way for you would be to become a member of David’s, actually, get that discount. Also, the advice from us as well.

Fantastic. We've got Rob Quinn. He has just a quick question. I haven't got the rest of a question, so if you get it in really quickly, Rob, we'll just hold on and wait for you.

Fast Rob.

Here it is. Right. I hope it's a good question after that we've built it up. Does it make a big difference writing on website pages or uploading PDF documents on my blog section? All right.

If we had this conversation a couple of years ago, it would all be about content going on your site, but I believe Google cross PDFs now. 

They certainly come up in search results, don't they? 

Yes, to Google cross PDFs, but I'm a bit of a stickler for kind of old school methods. Downloadables are good, email marketing is good for PDFs, things like that. Obviously sales funnels, but I would always put plenty of quality content on your website. It's the same thing where you stumble across a website. It's just pictures or it's blog posts that you can see on someone's site, but actually, to Google, you can't read a picture and it just sees code for connecting the blog section to the homepage. 

Also even if Google can call the PDF, for one thing, you can't do or you can't get Google analytics on the PDF. Then, as the website owner, you can't see how long people have spent reading that PDF or things like that. Whereas if it was an actual webpage you'd have all that analytics data for it.

Also, not everyone's gonna click and download it. Not everybody's gonna want to download a file but they don't mind scrolling for two and a half seconds more. Also, one really good tip, content-wise on a site is FAQs. They're brilliant. From a user experience, it doesn't offend the eye. You could put a thousand words in an FAQ and it's a box about the big with seven different subsections.

Actually, Google, when it crawls that page, it sees all the content laid out in a long line. It will give you some decent value for that but it won't put a user off, so it won't mess up. 

Yeah. Those kinds of collapsable sections. 

Yes. They're really good. Also,  you can transfer them between pages. You can make a slightly really good with a decent FAQ.

Okay. Fantastic. All right. Brilliant. Well, thank you so much for coming along today, George. I think I've learned a load of stuff. Hopefully, everyone watching has done as well. We'll put something in my comments after. It's just with George's contact detail if anyone to take up on that offer.

Any questions, happy to offer support. Yeah, no worries. 

Yeah. If you're watching us on the replay and you've got a question that we didn't answer, pop it in the comments and we'll keep an eye on that over the next couple of days. So, thank you very much, George. Thank you everyone for watching and back again in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for having me. Cheers.

Cheers. Bye.

  • "There are many different factors when Google tries to work out who to prioritise on the search results." - George Blandford
  • "The big question that is always asked is, how long does it take to see results?" - David Miles
  • "Keyword research is a massive one. You don't need to have access to all the software in the world, but you can look at what is your competition doing." -George Blandford
  • "Choose your keywords carefully." - George Blandford
  • "At the end of the day, you can try something and you can optimise your site for it. Actually, if it's not working, then you can go back in and you can tweak it. You can play around, do some split testing yourself and you change one thing. See the impact it makes. " - George Blandford

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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