Rapid Content Creation for Professionals


We’ve all heard a thousand times that websites need “content.”

But what is content, and why is it needed?

Content is information communicated through media.

Media is the communication channel — the internet, television, radio, etc.

Content is the message — the information itself.

On the internet, content can take many forms:

  • blog posts
  • videos
  • social media posts
  • infographics
  • guides
  • case studies
  • podcasts
  • white papers
  • images
  • webinars
  • and more . . .

A good content strategy will:

  • Build a foundation for long-term growth
  • Increase website traffic across organic search, referral, and social channels
  • Demonstrate specific expertise to attract best-fit clients
  • Restate your brand to keep your name in circulation

The most powerful marketing content is evergreen — it attracts leads for years with little additional effort. Blog posts, videos, and sometimes infographics fall in this group.

Playing Along with Google

Google search aims to deliver the most relevant and useful content to users — including your potential clients. So why not play along? Give Google what it wants — high-quality content. Thanks to ingenious research tools available today, we know exactly what people are looking for and what content is needed to match their search intent.

By purposefully designing your content to match search queries, Google will rank your website and local business profile higher in search results, and more people will contact you about services. 

I know of an attorney with decades of experience in the insurance field. Hundreds of clients. Offices across the country. Very successful. Yet he somehow finds time to create a website post at least once weekly and sends it to his email list. Why? Because those posts cement his firm as the go-to people in their specialty.

The posts demonstrate expertise, show the firm is on top of its game, and are a powerful, recurring brand imprint.

As a pro, you should create at least some of your content; it’s one of the best ways to promote your business at a high level and boost visibility in search.

The Problem

You have the ability to differentiate your practice and attract ideal clients with content. But producing and sharing content for marketing purposes is a tough slog. Production, especially writing, may feel like foreign territory that takes you away from your main work, and it presents a fundamental problem:

Creating content takes far too much time.

Here’s a solution . . .

Don’t Write, Speak

The key to my rapid content method is something you naturally do each day: speak. Instead of writing a post or shooting a video — make an audio recording of your voice.

Why audio?

I scored popular content creation methods by several dimensions: ease, persuasiveness, cost, communication mode, personalization opportunities, etc. (See the entire table).

  1. Audio: 20  [We have a winner!]
  2. Podcast: 16
  3. Streaming: 16
  4. Video: 15
  5. AI-assisted Written Text: 13
  6. Manual Written Text: 11

Audio scores highest for our purpose of rapidly creating useful, unique content that Google can rank in search.

Conversely, the method most people use, laboriously writing text, scores worst!

Audio is simple and lends itself to spontaneous production. In 10 minutes you can create a compelling audio track.

What About Video?

If you’re going to the trouble of recording something, why not just record a video?

As much as I love video, it’s far more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive to produce compared to audio. There’s lighting, equipment, space, editing, and people needed to put it all together.

Beyond that, uploading a few videos is unlikely to surface new local clients. 30,000+ hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour; how will your business surface in that global tsunami? 1

Here’s why social media platforms are usually a poor source of local leads. Just think about it; have you ever searched for a local lawyer, dentist, or financial planner on YouTube? It may happen occasionally on Facebook — “Hey, can somebody know a good divorce lawyer in Phoenix?” — but from the data I’ve seen, the numbers are small.

Overwhelmingly, people search Google to find exactly what they want — “best divorce consultant in St. Louis”. From every metric, local search results are the place to be, and you don’t need video to get there.

Rapid Content Creation: Step‑by‑Step

Step 1: Keyword and Question Research

First, choose a topic based on search data and competition. If you’re subscribed to one of our SEO Packages, we’ll supply you with a list of verified local-intent keywords already clustered into topics. That’s a great place to start.

If you are not a client, explore keywords and questions with free tools like Ubersuggest. Caution, it’s easy to miss the keyword target and go off track with your topic if you don’t have an SEO advisor.

Keyword research reveals topics. It tells us what people are searching for and how many are searching. For example: “divorce financial advisor.” (450 searches per month in the U.S., medium competitiveness).

Question research reveals what people are asking. For example: “What is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce?” (4th most popular mediation question).

Craft your content to match what searchers seek.

Step 2: Tell Your Audience What You Know

This is where you share your thoughts. Talk about a client experience. Explain a trend. Tell a story.

But instead of ruining your day by writing a blog post, make an audio recording.

I’m sure you can speak about some aspect of your service for five minutes. How about a couple of 5-minute sessions? Believe me, I have done it dozens of times — ten minutes goes very quickly. So let’s say you end up with ten minutes; that’s about 1,500 words of written text.

Can you do 15 minutes? Go for it! That’s 2,200+ words — longer than most of your competitor’s blog posts and a perfect search engine snack.

Step 3: Transcription

Send your audio file to a transcription service. They will convert your audio file to a text file and send it to you via email in a couple of days. Paste the text into WordPress. Check it over. Add a Title. Done.

There have been tremendous advances in AI (artificial intelligence) transcription, but it’s still inferior to human transcription in this use case. If you or your editor need to fix errors, the economic advantage of machine transcription is lost.

For professionals, it’s better to save time, even if it costs more. So, hire a transcription service that uses native English speakers (assuming you’re somewhere in the American or Canadian markets). Cost: about $1 per minute of audio. A 1,500-word blog post would cost about $10. Dirt cheap! Top human-powered transcription services include Speechpad and Rev.

Congratulations, You Just Created a Search Magnet

That’s the process. Not too bad, right?

You just created a laser-focused search engine magnet in a fraction of the usual time. Your content will be unique, with a personal viewpoint — not some outsourced codswallop.

Unique content that adds value for users is precisely what Google wants! Your transcriptions will provide a real advantage in organic search, voice search, local search, and social media. 

Outsource Everything but the Recording

You could do everything above yourself, but your time is too valuable. Get help from a remote editor.

You make the recording, the editor does everything else.

Ask your editor to clean up the text, add some headings, a title, and a couple of images, then publish the post on your website. If you like your audio recording, have them publish it with the post. The editor can also send your post to your email list and it publish it on social media as well (this part can be automated).

How to Make a Good Recording

How do you create a decent audio recording that’s on-point?

Firstly, what do you want to say? Jot down some bullet points as a guide. At least, that’s the way I do it to make sure I cover the main ideas. You don’t have to get fancy. A pencil and paper will do. Keep your topic notes loose but on target. If you’re interviewing, have a few questions in mind.

Get yourself in a quiet space where you can loosen up and speak as if speaking to a person in the room. Hit the record button and go for it. If you mess up, just restart the recording. Or pause and come back later. Over time, your delivery will improve.

If you publish the audio recording itself, your physical space affects sound quality: You don’t want too much reverberation (echo) or distracting noise. Drapes, carpets, furniture, and the right kind of equipment help. Carve out a section of your physical workspace at home or in your office for recording. It could be the same space you use for Zoom calls. Set up your equipment and keep it there. Make it easy to flip the switch and knock out content quickly.

On the road? Vehicles and hotel rooms are great places to record! Use your phone or a portable digital recorder to capture the audio file, then forward it to your remote editor.

Stay tuned, I’ll cover audio equipment in a future post.



1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/259477/hours-of-video-uploaded-to-youtube-every-minute/

Title Tags: How to Write and Optimize Them for Maximum SEO Benefit — 2022 Update

Title Tags

Title tags are the prominent clickable headlines in search results and the #1 on-page ranking factor; they directly affect conversion before anyone sees your website. It’s important to get them right!

Under the hood, title tags (also called SEO titles or meta-titles) are hidden snippets of HTML code that summarize page content, much like the title of a non-fiction book.

Title tag example

A simple title tag:


By default, the hidden title tag matches the visible title of the page. In this example, both are name “Home”. That’s the default behavior of most websites.

Leaving title tags in this default mode is a big SEO mistake  — don’t do it. Instead, title tags should be independent of page titles.

Independence creates an opportunity to create a emotionally-compelling visible page title for readers paired with a highly-optimized location + service title tag for search engines. Those two components are then combined by the Yoast SEO or Rank Math plugin in WordPress. This solution is the best of both worlds. (If you’re not using WordPress, you can still use this method, but it will be a bit more work.)

Example: This is  what a typical unoptimized home page title tag looks like.

<title>Home | Fast, Effective In-Home Dog Training | Fresno & Clovis</title>

Firstly let’s dump “Home”. It’s a worthless page name. Also, keyword research tells us that searchers are not looking for “fast” or “effective” dog training (but “in-home training” is a valid, differentiating term). Finally, this title tag omits the name of multiple locations in the market area, when they should be there.

Optimizing the Title Tag

New research shows the benefit of greatly expanding title tags to include important keywords, modifier terms, and locations. This website (in red, below) gained 36 first-place positions in one month simply by switching to long-form title tags!

Title tag SEO ranking bump
This domain gained 36 first-place positions in one month.

The improved long-form style includes additional elements:

  • We dropped the page name “Home” because it’s almost meaningless, and replaced it with “Fresno’s 5-star Dog Trainer” because reviews are a super-important conversion factor
  • We added core keywords that we know searchers are using; these came out straight out of the keyword list that was developed early in the project
  • We included one alternate spelling: “k9” instead of “canine”
  • We added the modifiers “best” and “near me” which keyword research shows are popular. This is one of the few ways to optimize for popular “near me” searches without looking ridiculous.
  • We expanded locations to multiple nearby cities
  • It’s not done here, but in some cases, a big competitor’s business name can be used to gain branded traffic on their dime. Use those pages to compare your (better) service to theirs!
  • Finally, we skipped the brand name because it eats up space and isn’t worth much since results for local brand searches (if known at all) will usually be found in the #1 position.

Here’s the revised title tag for the home page:

<title>Fresno's 5-star Dog Trainer | Best In‑home Dog Training | Fresno, Clovis, Chowchilla, Madera, Visalia, Tulare, Hanford | Dog Training Near Me | Puppy Training Near Me | Dog Behavior and Obedience Classes | K9 Training | Leash Training</title>

The keyword list tells us what people want — then we match their intent and communicate it to Google in the title tag.

Note that only a small portion of the title tag will be visible in search results. And, yes, every SEO audit tool will flag long title tags like this as non-conforming. But it seems Google still “reads” very long title tags.

Our approach is to take a great deal of care to write the hidden portion of the title tag ONCE. Then, tell the reader what the post or page is about in the page title. Include a keyword or two in the page title that is not already present the hidden portion of the title tag.

Yoast or Rank Math will combine the post or page title with the hidden title tag automatically. So the full title looks like this:

visible post or page titlehidden seo title

This is one of those fast and easy tweaks that moves the needle. We can bump your rankings with new and improved title tags! See our Local SEO packages.

Update August 2021. About 20% of the time, Google ignores title tags and instead substitutes H1 headings or even anchor text from internal links. Apparently they intend to “produce more readable and accessible titles”. You have no control over this, so don’t worry about it. Google dynamic generation of titles seems unrelated to ranking.

11 Rules to Polish Your Business Idea into a Smooth-running Machine

Did you see Jason Statham in The Transporter? It’s a wild ride my friend.

Statham’s character, Frank Martin, controls his high-octane world with grit and a personal code of “rules”:

Rule #1: The deal is the deal.
Rule #2: No names.
Rule #3: Never open the package.

Frank provides the criminal underbelly with a specialized service — let’s just call it “transportation”, no questions asked. Frank is a professional driver and martial arts expert. He lives on the edge and never looks back. That’s why he’s the best transporter — highly-paid and respected.

Above all else, Frank adheres to his rules to stay alive and come out on top. That is, until he opens the package!

Frank got me thinking about rules as a form of mental jiu-jitsu we can use to quickly eliminate crappy business ideas and to refine current businesses into smooth-running machines.

Here are my rules. How does your idea stack up?


1. Repeat and Refine

Services that customize to meet individual customer needs are unscalable and downright disheartening. There are too many unknowns, unique modifications, and naive demands.

The antidote to customization is a standard process.

Each customer may be unique, but the internal process for solving their problem remains the same. Repetition provides endless opportunities for refinement. The Japanese call this approach kaizen — “continuous improvement”. Everyone benefits.

2. Productize Your Service

To implement a standard process, market your service as a product.

Forget about custom proposals and even negotiations. Carefully target your market and create products that exactly meets its needs.

For individuals and small teams, your “product” is likely to be niche knowledge:

  • Consulting
  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Apps
  • Representation
  • Information

3. Find a Good Fit

Or as Shakespeare wrote “To thine own self be true”.

It’s so tempting to get involved with projects that are too far beyond experience and skills. “Wow, look at this opportunity!” But no matter how promising something *should* be, it will be far more difficult and stressful if you haven’t done it a hundred times before. Fiascos and heavy opportunity costs are a real risk.

Your project should be a natural fit for you and your team, ideally informed by previous experience that included opportunities to repeat and refine (Rule #1)

4. Create a Discrete Package

When is a project involving art, design, writing, composition, developing, coding, or optimizing truly finished? It’s largely a matter of opinion isn’t it? We can safely say the answer is “never”.

The ideal service-as-a-product has a clear beginning and ending. Sell it as a discrete package that provides a specific deliverable for known compensation. Packages lend themselves to repetition and refinement (Rule #1).

5. Distill Your Message

For marketing purposes, your project must be explainable in a simple way. Customers want a concise, clear explanation of how your product benefits them.

Beyond the basics, nobody gives a damn about your credentials or self-promotion. At the end of the day, it’s all about how the customer benefits. It’s never about you, OK?

My vote for best marketing message in history goes to Apple’s original iPod —  “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Wow. I am in awe of that gem. It is revolutionary and says it all in 25 characters.

The goal is to distill your project to its essence, without industry jargon. Tune in to the core emotional factors that move people. If you can’t explain your project in a concise, emotive way that compels your audience, work on differentiation (Rule #9).

6. Deliver Fast

Push for short delivery times. That means performing the service, shipping the product, or providing customers with the resources to do the work themselves right away, today.

Fast delivery opens myriad opportunities to earn money, and if necessary, recover from mistakes. Conversely, slow delivery kills innovation and leads to huge opportunity costs if anything goes sideways.

Can you provide a quote, pitch your product, sign a contract, or deliver faster than anyone else? That’s a huge strategic advantage.

7. Automate

Marketing automation is the best way to extend reach, connect with ideal customers at scale, and speed things up (rule #6).

Set up systems to automatically educate, qualify, pre-sell, make offers, get paid, collaborate, and follow-up . . . so you can focus on the aspects you enjoy.

Computer and communications technology is ubiquitous and cheap. Perhaps it can take on a role beyond marketing. Is there a way automate aspects of production, delivery, or support?

8. Get Paid Up Front

The cure for cash flow problems is to get paid in advance or on-delivery. Can you design your product such that you get paid on a recurring basis? Even better.

The worst high-risk scenario is to invoice a few customers (or only one!) for large amounts. If a major customer can’t or won’t pay, it’s game over.

The best low-risk scenario is for many customers to pay smaller amounts for a standardized product (rule #1), on a recurring basis, in advance. Use computer technology to make it happen (rule #7).

9. Differentiate or Die

Market “positioning” is how customers perceive your brand compared to competitors.

To stand out in the market and to help keep your marketing message concise (Rule #5), your service / product should be tightly focused on a niche, and obviously different from competitors. That simple action powerfully concentrates marketing effectiveness and limits competition.

Sometimes there is an opportunity to erect a competitive barrier via an “economic moat” — a patent, methodology, technology, contract, or license that you have, but others do not.

Create your own spin on a solution to a specific problem.

10. Build a System, Not a Job

The last thing you want is to create a job for yourself that’s more time-consuming and stressful than a “real” job. So the project cannot be about you personally performing the bulk of the work. That’s the road to frustration and burnout.

Instead, your mission is to deploy a system that delivers value to customers using a standard process (rule #2) that also minimizes the need for you to touch that process. If you want, add a team and automation (rule #7) to scale-up, but keep it lean to minimize cost and complexity.

11. Design Your Project

All of this gets down to a core rule: you must design your business project to match the expected outcome. What business project dovetails with your native skills? What lifestyle appeals to you?

Distill the things you do best, then reverse-engineer your business project to deliver the results you want.




Essential SEO for the Voice Search Revolution

Take Advantage of Voice Search Trends

Voice search is exploding. Comscore has predicted that voice search will account for 50% of searches by 2020. More stats here. This trends coincides with advances in technology that make it all possible: “natural language” search and artificial intelligence.

It’s time to tweak your SEO strategy to incorporate voice optimization and gain an edge over competitors. As usual, high-value services have the most to gain (or lose) depending on how well they engage the voice-search trend, but every organization can benefit.

I boiled-down several sources including the recent Backlinko study of 10,000 voice searches into a few actionable steps. Surprise — many of the voice search optimization tactics here are exactly the same as general SEO tactics — just goes to show that fundamentals don’t change that much.

Voice Search Facts

  • Long-tail keywords account for approximately 70% of all search queries, meaning they’re less competitive – but no less important. (wordstream.com)
  • BrightLocal , 56% of all voice searches are made on a smartphone. (semrush.com)
  • Optimize for Rich Answers voice search study found that “70% of all answers returned from voice searches occupied a SERP feature (with 60% of those returning a Featured Snippet result). (semrush.com)
  • Let’s look at some recent stats… 41% of adults (and 55% of teens) use voice search daily ( Google 20% of all Google mobile queries are voice searches (backlinko.com)
  • And when you dig deeper, things get even more interesting… 25% of all Windows 10 desktop searches are done via voice (backlinko.com)
  • Speaking of… 65% of Google Home or Amazon echo owners “can’t imagine going back” ( Geomarketing Smart speakers are the next refrigerator – every home will have one. (backlinko.com)
  • In fact, nearly 60% of mobile searchers use voice search at least “some of the time” ( Stone Temple Finally, voice search is more convenient. (backlinko.com)
  • (In fact, Google states that 70% of searches on Google Assistant use “natural language”.) (backlinko.com)

Overall Strategy

  • Answer Specific Questions: Use Topic or your own experience to find common questions on your chosen subject, and use that as a basis to create your copy. Include the question as an H2 heading, and answer it in the body text directly below.
  • Answer Questions Concisely: Google wants to feature the best answer, so make sure yours is clear and easily digestible. Don’t use jargon that audience doesn’t use. Answers in the form of lists work well in featured snippets.
  • Write Engaging Copy: 99.58% of featured snippets come from pages that rank in the top 10. Ensure your page is well-optimized: your content should be engaging, your meta data optimized, and your internal and external link building strong.

Specific Optimizations

Optimize Website Speed and Security

Mobile Friendly

  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, with an easy to read layout that automatically adjust to phones and tables. Use short paragraphs, simple language, and plenty of headings to break-up logical sections.

Schema Markup

  • Use schema markup so that search engines know exactly what you content is about.  Easiest solution is to use a schema plugin.

Google Listing

Social Media Engagement Affects Ranking

  • Your posts, which include your voice-search content should be shared in social media. More social activity is related to higher ranking

Match Content to Voice Searches

  • Create blog posts that dovetail with the questions your audience is asking
  • Keep answers to specific questions short and sweet — 30 words or so
  • But also realize that voice search results are typically pulled from long posts: 2,000+ words on average. Therefore, answer specific questions within your long-form, authoritative post. Maybe a series of topic-focused FAQ pages.

How Much Should a Small Business Website Cost in 2021?

pricing prices cost

Websites have been around for 20+ years, hasn’t cost been pretty well settled by now?


In fact, the website industry has fractured. The number of options, and the range of cost for a small business website has never been wider.

There’s a spectrum of DIY (do-it-yourself) website tools, and a multitude of service providers vying to do the work for you, each with dramatically varying skill sets and expertise.

Cost depends on:

  • Scope of the work
  • Skill and experience of the developer
  • Objectives of the business
  • Performance requirements
  • Amount of content to be created or optimized
  • Custom design or features
  • DIY vs. professionally built

As a result, pricing is all over the map. To simplify this mess, I’ll boil small business websites down into three price tiers based my research and experience. But first . . .

A Different Way to Think About Cost

Instead of “How much does it cost?”, the question should be:

“How much will this investment return?”

Insufficient website or SEO investment kills returns — your website will rank poorly in search, or fail to engage visitors. Overspending (rare in small business) also leads to lower returns.

Somewhere in the middle there’s a sweet spot — where enough money is invested to get initial results, with more investment over time to refine the marketing funnel and deepen content.

It’s All About Signal Strength

People who are not in the online marketing business often think online marketing works something like this:

1. Build a website in a couple of days, done!
2. Magically, customers find it
3. The phone rings.

In today’s market, that’s a FANTASY.

A website is only one element of on online marketing system. To make your marketing perform well, you’ll need a highly-optimized website, solid content, sufficient backlinks, and some way to stay in touch with potential clients (email, web push notifications, or social media).

Local businesses must add optimized business listings, citations, and reviews to the mix.

Finally, advertising might be needed to extend geographic reach, or to cover weak areas in organic visibility.

The goal is to create the strongest overall “signal” for your business.

Makes sense right? Like a radio or TV transmitter, a strong signal means a better chance of reaching potential “listeners”.

Experienced web developers and SEO consultants can help you put the elements in place that create a strong signal and form the foundation of your marketing funnel:

  • Clear Pitch and Call-to-Action
  • Lead Capture
  • Optimized Content
  • Technical SEO
  • Business Listings
  • Backlinks (links from other sites)
  • Citations (mentions of your business information)
  • Reviews (social proof)

The more you invest in these difference-makers, the better your business will perform in both search results and conversions.

When everything is done right, your website will rank highly, your marketing funnel will capture more leads, and you’ll convert more of those leads into clients. Perfect.

A Strong Signal Requires More Than a Website

Your website is the hub of your online marketing presence. But since we’re focused on cost, let’s not forget about the other elements that go into creating a strong “signal”.

I’m talking about content creation (usually blog posts), and backlink-building. For local businesses add business listings, citations, and a review acquisition strategy. These elements are almost never included in website building fees, yet may cost as much, or more, than the site itself.

Reality check: there was a time when small / local businesses could get away with static brochure-style website. No longer. Old-school static websites get in the way of content creation. And if you don’t add fresh, optimized content, you’ll be at a big disadvantage, even in local markets. A blog is the easiest and best way to make it happen.

So how will you know if your website is ranking well, or performing technically as it should? Well, you can’t, not without the special tools and knowledge of an SEO consultant. That’s a real downside of the do-it-yourself approach. You need a way to track performance.

As you think through cost, a key concept is: Understand what you’re buying. Are you creating build-it-and-forget-it online “brochure” that may be ineffective, or a online marketing machine that puts out a strong signal to attract clients for years to come?

Expect the cost to depend on what you’re actually getting.

Quick Story: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Some years ago, while trapped in my dentist’s exam chair, she casually mentioned:

“Patients cannot discern quality.”

WTF? I was offended. Wait a minute, I know quality when I see it! Do you think I’m an idiot?

Then I realized . . . she was absolutely right.

Unless you’re a dentist — an expert in the field — you have NO IDEA what quality of procedures / tools / materials are being used. You must trust the dentist to do the right work, at a high level of quality, with proper materials.

Guess what. It’s the same with websites.

If you unknowingly end up buying appearance instead of performance, your business will stay in the shadows, and you won’t know why.

This is where DIY websites and consumer website-building tools like Wix, Squarespace, and Go Daddy fall short.

So with due respect to DIY owner / builders, please consider that . . .

Websites Are (Much) Harder Than They Look

I chuckle when I see Wix ads.

“You need a website. Why not build it yourself!” or  “Don’t delay. Create your stunning website today!”

Fine. While your at it, why not do minor surgery as a side gig? Build your own hovercraft!

Can you tell I’m cynical about the DIY route? (unless you don’t care about traffic).

Here’s why . . .

Experienced web developers have a wide range of knowledge and skills:

  • Graphic design
  • Typography
  • Photography
  • Information architecture
  • Web languages: CSS, HTML, PHP
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Copywriting
  • Marketing psychology
  • App integration
  • Server configuration and security
  • Responsive design (to fit 4k TVs, tablets, and phones)
  • Performance testing

Business owners or staff are unlikely to have those skills, and almost certainly will not have the TIME it takes to learn them. It’s not going to happen.

Yes, if you use a website builder, much of the baffling code and server setup is hidden. That still leaves a few important things . . . SEO, copywriting, design, marketing psychology, performance testing, etc. — all of the stuff that actually influences people to take action.

Google doesn’t care if your website is “stunning”, so let’s drop that idea entirely. Google only cares about satisfying search intent.

The bottom line is that the bar has been raised by intense online competition and fast-moving technology — there’s a compelling need for specialists to get the results you expect.

The Website Creation Process

Here are the typical issues a professional website developer would work with . . . can you imagine actually going through this process?

  • Wireframing. What content goes where? How does the navigation work?
  • Clarify your customer’s persona and create a brand
  • Settle on a layout, look, and color palette
  • Understand competitor’s online strengths
  • Research keywords that match customer’s behavior
  • Configure Google Analytics and Search Console
  • Arrive at a strategy to create consistent, optimized content (or be prepared to spend $$$ on ads)
  • Find or shoot photos with proper copyright permissions
  • Write basic pages, call-to-actions, landing pages, and maybe initial blog posts
  • Create a lead magnet to entice subscribers (if you have an email list), set up an email system
  • Collect and organize premium content like videos and infographics
  • Integrate social media pages
  • Add security and backup measures

Invest to Get the Results you Need

If your “business” is really a hobby, or you’re just testing the waters of a niche market, then Wix, Squarespace, or similar website builder services might suffice in the short run. And they may be the only answer if you insist on doing it yourself and truly can’t afford a website that you own and control.

But if you’re serious about business and depend on your website to support family and employees, it’s completely worthwhile to pay an expert to get it done right.

Website costs vary by an order of magnitude for good reasons. Your budget should be driven by business goals and what competitors have already invested.

Do you want to dominate the local market, carve out an ecommerce niche, or compete nationally? Invest accordingly.

Let’s look at a few cases . . .

Tier 1 — a Do-it-Yourself Website: $100 – $300 / year, plus your time.

Tier 1 includes:

  • Bakeries
  • Bookkeepers
  • Cafes
  • Caterers
  • Cleaning services
  • Day care facilities
  • Garden and yard services
  • Hair salons
  • Laundries
  • Local artists
  • Local musicians
  • Local photographers
  • Maintenance services
  • Micro-businesses
  • Neighborhood bars
  • Part-time businesses
  • Small retail shops
  • Trainers
  • Tutors

This group will likely end up with an amateur website created by the themselves,  or nephew Josie, or grandpa Cyrus, because the fee for a professionally-built site cannot be justified or afforded.

The lights come up, music envelopes the audience.

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the website builders!!!

Squarespace! Go Daddy! Wix!

Awesome! Cheap! Stunning!

Yes. Yes. But before you get too excited, be aware that the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) approach using these tools has important, hidden disadvantages.

Why DIY online website builders are actually the WORST option for your business

  1. Website development and SEO has become more complicated than you imagine; doing it yourself means you won’t even know when you’re screwing up.
  2. Google doesn’t care about “stunning” websites — their heartless algorithm only cares about giving users the best search results. Top-ranking sites have topical authority (backlinks and high-quality content), relevance (content specificity), positive user behavior signals (click-throughs, time-on-site, etc), top-notch technical performance (speed), and good scores on about 200 other ranking factors (literally).
  3. If you or your “Wix Professional” focus on looks, and don’t implement the key SEO factors above, you’ll be at a real disadvantage, your website may not be found, and you’ll lose business. That’s the very real “opportunity cost” of DIY.
  4. Vendor lock-in. DIY services trade single-source simplicity for open source flexibility and performance. You’ll be stuck with what the vendor offers, instead of a best-in-industry solution.
  5. Time you spend on building your website is lost to other things, like running your business. You must account for that time.

My take is that website builders such as Wix, Go Daddy, Squarespace, Weebly and the like are fine for events, small side projects, or non-commercial use, but not good as a long-term business asset or tool to drive leads.

I wish I could tell you how many hours it will take to build your own. I can’t since it depends on so many factors. But starting from scratch, I would figure on at least a week, full-time, or double that if you’ve never built a site before.  Figuring out how to optimize your site and content, plus fixing things you’ve screwed-up will take more time.

Read this post for more on WHY these site building services are a poor choice for business owners.

The Best DIY Option

What options are available if you want something better than a Wix website, but you don’t have the money to pay a professional developer?  Here’s my solution.

You may have the impression from relentless advertising that Wix, Go Daddy, Squarespace, and other online website building tools dominate the market. Not true. WordPress, a free, open-source solution has a 40% market share, compared to Wix’s measly 1.5%. Go Daddy, Squarespace, Weebly, and other website builders have similar tiny market shares.

If making money is your goal, WordPress is the best DIY solution.

But isn’t WordPress more complicated? Yes, it is. No question. But it’s also more flexible and powerful. It can do more to help your business prosper. Fortunately, it’s also easier than ever, because we now have visual page builders that work right inside WordPress. I’m not saying it’s EASY. It’s not! It’s just easier than it was before, and it’s getting easier as time moves on.

If I was building a small business website today, and didn’t want to pay a professional, I would forget about the online website building services, and instead use WordPress in combination of other tools below. With the exception of hosting, which will cost you less than $10 / month, the core tools are free. Inexpensive upgrades are available if you want more features.

The right kind of person — someone willing to dive-in, learn, and figure things out — will be rewarded with a solid website they own and control at minimal cost.  This combination of tools is a good fit for Tier 1 businesses that are willing to invest time, but not money. Be aware your DIY result will fall short of what a professional developer can do in terms of appearance, technical performance, and conversion of visitors into real customers, but that’s the trade-off. If you go this route, you’ll probably still want some outside guidance.

Here are the core DIY tools I recommend that work nicely together. These are all highly-rated, mainstream choices:

  • WordPress (self-hosted content management system with 75 million+ installations)
  • Elementor (visual page builder with 5 million+ installations, strongly recommend the paid version)
  • GeneratePress (WordPress theme with 400,000+ installations, strongly recommend the paid version)
  • Yoast SEO plugin (post and page optimizer with 5 million+ installations)
  • SiteGround (website hosting with 1 million+ domains)

Tier 2 — a Professionally-built Custom Website for Most Small Businesses: $2,000 – $8,000.

Tier 2 includes:

  • Any business selling nationally or globally
  • Architects
  • Attorneys
  • Brokers
  • Churches
  • Coaches
  • Consultants
  • Contractors
  • Entertainment venues
  • Healthcare practices
  • Marketing / ad agencies
  • Professional authors, speakers, artists, and performers
  • Professional services
  • Restaurants
  • Small manufacturers
  • Wholesalers

This group should invest in a custom, optimized site, built by a experienced developer.

Your business will likely rank better due to various integrated SEO features, and you’ll convert more visitors into clients / customers / patients, returning the investment in a short time. Don’t expect top-tier “SEO” and performance at the lower end of the range though. In fact, a lot of website developers, and almost all website “designers” think SEO is someone else’s job. SEO, Secure HTTPS Conversions, and Speed Optimization are often by handled by a different specialist (that’s us!).

Professional sites typically have a clear conversion path (instead of being just a generic brochure). Also, the website will likely be built using Content Management System such as WordPress, which offers enormous content creation and flexibility advantages.

Beyond that, you will OWN the website’s design and content, so you can move it to a different hosting company, and enhance its functionality and effectiveness without limit. Complete flexibility with no vendor lock-in.

Tier 3 — a Professionally-built Custom Website for High-Ticket Services and Niche eCommerce: $8,000 – $20,000+.

Tier 3 includes:

  • Professionals in highly competitive niches or areas
  • Niche eCommerce brands

This group could well justify a larger investment because either the opportunity cost of even one lost client is high, the competition is fierce, or both. That single new client could be worth $20,000+ in revenue.

In niche ecommerce markets, competition will be tough — comprehensive SEO  and a marketing funnel driven by organic search or ads is likely a requirement, and may (or may not) be included in this price range. You’ll need a website that reinforces your brand, resonates with visitors, fully exploits optimized content, offers a beautiful and streamlined shopping cart experience, promotes sales through an integrated email marketing system, offers superior technical performance, etc. All that takes a lot of skill and time.

Ongoing Fees for Hosting and Maintenance

For tiers 2 and 3, there will be additional fees for hosting and maintenance. Modern websites require maintenance especially if they are built with a Content Management System like WordPress. Expect to pay $25 – $100 / month depending on scope of service. This does not include creating new content.

  • Hosting
  • Update themes, plugins, and core software (now automatic)
  • Verify backups are running
  • Update plugin licenses
  • Fix broken links
  • Corrections, minor editing

Conclusion and Guidelines

Don’t be afraid to invest in your site — it’s the hub of your online marketing presence and the first place customers go to learn more about your business, services, and products. There are some truly great people that can dramatically improve your online results and provide an impressively high return on investment. You just need to find them.

Wait, you have somebody that will do it all for $697? OK, if you say so ;-).  Remember you don’t know what you don’t know.  Something’s missing. And that “something” will likely cost you more than you save.

  • Be clear about the outcome. What should the website accomplish?
  • A website is not a project — it’s an process. Get the most out of it by adding content and optimizing your message
  • If you can afford it, get a pro to build your site. If not, build it yourself using WordPress
  • Invest within your means, but spend enough to get the results you need
  • Find an individual or team that you trust
  • Fresh content and especially, follow-up systems are important
  • Local businesses also need listings, reviews, and citations
  • Insist on a content management system like WordPress — edit and add content yourself!
  • Ask about maintenance. Who does it? What does it include?

Hopefully these guidelines will keep you out of the weeds. Good luck!

References: Check These Posts for More Information about Website Cost and Related Topics

Local SEO in 2020: Tactical Guide to Top Local Search Rankings

Life at the Top

Here’s a short tactical guide to achieve top local search rankings.

Why are top rankings so important? Because over 50% of traffic goes to the first three search results. 75% of traffic goes to results on the first page. If you’re not on the first page, you’re missing most of the opportunity to connect with customers.

I will outline what to do to rank in the top tier locally, but not how to do each step. With due respect, there are so many subtleties to doing the work, it doesn’t make sense for most businesses to tackle it themselves. If you have the budget, hire an experienced local SEO professional to get most of this done quickly, the right way.

I’m a fan of outsourcing everything described in this post except written content simply because it’s hard to find people that can step into the shoes of a service provider and create content from their point of view and experience. Expertise matters. Writers with long experience in your niche might be able to pull it off. But avoid generic content. No one wants fluff — weak content won’t attract links, convert visitors, or rank well relative to authoritative sources.

And by the way, it’s not enough to write the text. Who is handling media selection? And who is optimizing posts to help rank them in search? Without optimization, you won’t see much benefit from the content.

Local Search Ranking Factors

What local ranking factors are important? Here they are (based on 2019 Moz data).

There are factors over which you have no control, some which you can influence, and others over which you have direct control.

Factors You Cannot Control [Skip Entirely]

Proximity. A super-important factor that’s not even mentioned in the Moz data . . . because there’s nothing you can do about it except optimize the other factors (or add another location).  Proximity is the nearness between your location and the searcher’s location. Search results may shift dramatically depending on the searchers’s location.

If you’re on the north end of town, and the searcher is on the south end, you better be sending a strong signal to search engines. How do you create a strong signal? By optimizing all the other factors here: Google listing, backlinks, reviews, etc.

Personalization. Google personalizes search results based on individual search patterns (unless the user opts-out). There’s nothing you can do to shift how personalization changes your search ranking.

Factors You Can Influence [Save for Later]

Social Media. You can increase your social media activity to boost search visibility, but it’s a weak correlation, and requires a large effort for little impact. Skip it until you have the more important signals dialed-in 100%.

User Behavior.  User activity includes click-throughs, click-to-call actions, etc.  User activity requires interaction with your search results or local business listing, and both of those depend on visibility. More activity = more visibility. You won’t reap the benefits of the user activity signals until you maximize visibility. So work on the factors that you can control that lead to higher visibility first. After user activity signals kick in, they tend to cement your listing near the top of results, a very welcome and well-deserved outcome.

Factors You Can Control [Take Action Now]

Thankfully, there are important local search signals that you can directly control. Here they are, sorted from most to least influential:

Google My Business listing. The most important local ranking signal (excluding proximity). A mini-industry has sprung up to keep Google listings current and vibrant. See my tips to do it yourself.

Reviews.  One of my favorites, because reviews are not just a ranking signal, reviews are enormously important to conversions — turning visitors into a customers. You must have a review acquisition strategy in place. Integrate reviews into your business process. Acquire reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and any vertical directories that apply to your niche. You can largely control reviews by providing good service, responding to all reviews, and calmly addressing complaints that occasionally pop up.

On-page SEO. Good news! This factor is totally under your control. On-page SEO means taking to time to optimize each post and page as well as making sure the structure of your website is optimal. Get some professional guidance to nail the subtleties of on-page SEO.

Citations. Easy! Citations are just mentions of your business information on various sites and directories. Citations should match your website and listing information exactly. Hire an SEO consultant to get these done for you. 50 good citations should be enough in most cases. Don’t forget citations from contacts you already have: local clubs, sponsorships, events, etc.

Backlinks.  Backlinks (links from other websites that point to your website or listings) are the toughest signal to implement, which is why search engines assign them a lot of credibility. In theory, you could create content that is so awesome, people will spontaneously backlink to it. That’s ideal, but it’s also time-consuming and tough to pull off.

Alternatively, figure out what websites are linking to your key competitors (your local SEO consultant can tell you, or get a one week Ahrefs trial for $7), then go after those same backlinks.  If your local niche isn’t super-competitive, that may be enough.

Don’t forget to ask for backlinks from these local sources:

  • Distributors
  • Suppliers
  • Wholesalers
  • Neighboring businesses
  • Community Organizations
  • Sponsorships

See these posts: https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/backlinks,   https://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/seo/link-building/crowdfunding/

Do You Need “Content”?

The same factors that affect traditional organic rankings affect your local pack rankings.

We’ve already touched on the importance of backlinks. But what about content — blog posts, videos, infographics, etc?

The need for content depends on your competitive environment. If you have just one or two local competitors, you might be able to get away with just minimal information about your business on your website.

But if you have more than a few competitors, or it would irk you to lose even one customer, then content is your friend. By creating content, you’re explicitly telling Google what your business is all about and simultaneously attracting visitors in organic search results.

Since few competitors will have a decent content initiative going, you can break out of the pack by creating blog posts, Google listing posts, videos, and infographics that dovetail with known search activity. At the minimum, create content that highlights your services at each important geographic location in your market area.

Did you know that Google is perfectly happy for users to take action in search, without ever seeing your website? Seriously, they don’t care. But to the extent people actually do visit your website, Google also wants to see signals that will help them satisfy searcher’s needs:

  • How much time to visitors spend on your website (the “dwell time”)
  • How deeply do visitors explore
  • Do visitors submit forms
  • Do  visitors click call buttons?
  • What percentage of visitors come back later?

All of these actions are supplemental ranking factors, and they largely depend on the quality of your content.  See https://backlinko.com/seo-content.

Checklist for Content Creation

How to approach content in a nutshell:

  1. Understand your niche. How does your organization differ from others, and how is it positioned in the market? Do not overlook this step — it’s crucial to everything that follows.
  2. Hire a pro to do the keyword research, and to look into the long-tail questions that are being asked about your niche. Ahrefs is one of the best discovery tools.
  3. Using Ahrefs or Google search, find out what competitor content is highly ranked for a particular keyword search.
  4. Drawing on what competitors have done, create a resource that is more comprehensive and more authoritative than theirs. Integrate local terms too (the locations where you want to be found).
  5. Don’t forget Google listing posts. Create a short post for your listing and link it to your main website content.
  6. Remember there are content creation shortcuts: audio transcription, re-writing existing posts, curating found posts, etc.

In short, start with what the market wants, then create content to match that intent

Check These Technical Issues

Make sure your website loads quickly (less than two seconds). Check it here: https://tools.keycdn.com/speed

Your website must be entirely usable on a phone; it’s a mobile first world.

Add schema markup that explains your business information and services in terms search engines understand. Get your local SEO consultant to implement schema (it’s tedious and not worth learning yourself).

Conclusion — Four Steps to Top Ranking

My advice to local organizations and businesses is to work through this guide, checking off each step as it’s done.

To check rankings, don’t fall into the trap of searching for one or two favorites keywords on Google. That’s not a big enough sample, and you won’t be getting a true picture versus your competitors. Instead, use a ranking tool to check multiple keywords. I typically check 50 – 100 keywords each week or each month.  Nightwatch works well.  If your business has competitors in each neighborhood, take a look at Local Falcon.

  1. Start with the low-hanging fruit you can control: Google listing, reviews, on-page SEO, and citations.
  2. Fix the basic technical issues: Make sure your website is fast, works perfectly on mobile devices, and has schema in place. Optimize any existing content.
  3. Not ranking high enough? Add backlinks to at least match your competitors.
  4. Need more juice? Start creating substantial content, including posts or pages that combine your service description with geographic locations. Content will support your local pack results and also boost organic results.

It will take time for these tactics to gel and work together. And of course, care must be taken to do things right. Do not give up. When everything comes together, you should find yourself in the top tier of local search results, enjoying a stream of new leads, without the burden of advertising costs.

Conversion Check: How to Update WordPress and Test Your Lead Generation Forms

Go to step-by-step instructions

Losing Leads is Disheartening and Costly

Over the years, I’ve seen businesses lose hundreds of website leads.

They simply didn’t know that some unnoticed glitch was killing their conversions and revenue. But how could they? No one was paying attention.

Don’t let that be your business.

It’a crucial to update your website, check lead forms, and verify that external automation apps are functioning.

Common issues include:

  • Expired credit cards
  • Outdated contact information
  • Plugin conflicts
  • Outdated plugins
  • Code bugs

Performing basic checks will ensure your marketing pipeline is working, while minimizing security risks.

Yes, there are automated uptime monitors, as well as enterprise-grade conversion testing platforms, but neither is a substitute for simply visiting your own website.

Every 30 days, perform some simple checks and use your website just as a customer would — that’s the most direct, most insightful, and least expensive solution to check functionality.

Does something seem confusing or dysfunctional? That’s exactly what your customers will think too. Get it fixed.

How to Update the WordPress Core, Plugins, and Themes

  1. Sign-in to your WordPress dashboard (your-domain.com/wp-admin)
  2. In the left panel, click on the Updates link (the adjacent number shows how many updates are available).
  3. On the WordPress Updates page, look for any links that indicate an update is available.
  4. Click the links to update WordPress first, then the theme, then the plugins.
  5. When you’re done, the number adjacent to the Updates link in the left panel should disappear (indicating no updates are available).

If the Update WordPress link never appears, your site may be configured for automatic core updates. In that case, move on to the next step.

Do Not click the Re-install Now button, that’s only needed for special circumstances.


How to Check Your Forms

  1. Go to each of your forms, (contact page, popup, payment form, etc.) and fill them in with your own information.
  2. The form should submit without an error.
  3. What happens next depends on how the form is configured. Who are the proper recipients? If you don’t know, check with your web developer. Confirm that the recipients are getting their notifications. If your form is integrated with an email automation app such as Drip, ActiveCampaign, or Hubspot, make sure those systems record the lead and start their automation processes.

How to Check Your Email Address

  1. Send an email to your primary public-facing email address.
  2. Confirm it goes through to the recipients. Who are the proper recipients? Again, check with your web developer.

Final Check

  1. Load your homepage, and check a couple of interior pages. Does everything look normal? Is it snappy? If so, you’re good to go. There may still be other underlying issues, but at least you’ve taken basic steps to secure your site and verify that customers can reach you.

That’s it. See you next month!

Optimole — The Best WordPress Image Compression and Re-sizing Solution

Unoptimized images kill website performance. 

Since images often comprise 40% to 50% of page size — more than other any type of element — optimizing them is an obvious tactic in our quest for a fast website.

To give users the best experience, we should automatically compress images so they load as quickly as possible, and re-size them to fit the viewing environment.

Optimole is the best way I’ve found to make that happen. First, an example . . .

Desktop Display

This original image was uploaded at 3,434 × 2,447 pixels — fine for a 4k TV on a fast connection, but too big for a typical HD computer monitor, and overwhelming for a phone.

We need a way to fit the image to the device so the website doesn’t bog down and the user has a good experience. 

Optimole does this by compressing the image in Google’s WebP format, which is about 25% smaller than typical JPEG files.

Then, Optimole re-sizes the image to exactly fit the user’s viewport, meaning it fits the image to each user’s display regardless if they are using a TV, monitor, tablet, or phone.

Efficient compression plus on-the-fly re-sizing — that’s the combination that gets users exactly what they need. No more, no less.

At Optimole’s medium compression setting, this full-width image on a HD desktop display is just 161 KB — a whopping 92% decrease from the original JPEG file size.

Mobile Display

When viewed on a phone, Optimole re-sizes the image to exactly match the viewport width of a iPhone — 375 pixels. The image file now weighs just 18KB — a massive 99% decrease from the original image size! Yet, it looks fine.

If Optimole detects a slow connection, it will further reduce the resolution (within reason) to ensure the image is still viewable.

Losing the Duplicates

With Optimole, there’s no longer any need for WordPress to generate multiple sizes of each image — something it does by default. Why store all that stuff? If your site has 100 images, do you really want to store 500+ duplicates in various sizes? Not me. 

Before Optimole, this site automatically generated six different alternate sizes, highlighted in blue below, some generated by WordPress itself, and some generated by the theme. The files didn’t precisely match the user’s device, they ate up a lot of disk space, and backups took much longer than necessary. 

With Optimole, all of those extra files are obsolete. Let’s eliminate them by adding a filter to WordPress. It’s simple, just a line code that looks like this:

add_filter( 'intermediate_image_sizes', '__return_empty_array', 999 );

The optional second filter (below) disables the WordPress feature that re-sizes huge images that might be uploaded straight from a camera or phone. Enabling this filter means your original image will be stored on the server. That’s handy if you don’t have an organized way to store your original images, but be aware it will eat up more storage space. 

add_filter( 'big_image_size_threshold', '__return_false' );

The easiest way to add these filters is with the Code Snippets plugin. Install the plugin and paste in the code as shown above. In this example, I kept my two snippets separate in case I want to change something later.

Optimole Setup

I won’t get into how to install or configure Optimole because everything is explained in their guide. It’s straightforward and fast.


Optimole transparently optimizes images with no image-handling knowledge required. 


  • Speed: on-the-fly resizing dramatically trims page “weight”
  • User Experience: the best image quality on any device or connection type
  • Ease: once set up, it’s hands-off

In combination with the filters, only the original full-size image remains on the server, minimizing storage space and reducing backup times. 

Optimole effectively fool-proofs the site against clueless users. Even if someone uploads crazy huge images straight from a camera or phone, site performance won’t be affected. 

The only shortcoming I found it that Optimole does not automatically crop images into a standard aspect ratio standard: 2:3, 4:3, 16:9, etc.  Cropping still has to be done manually within WordPress, or ideally prior to uploading the image. 

Write Stronger Posts with the Hemingway Editor

Here’s a tool you’ll like: the Hemingway Editor.

No, it won’t transform you into Ernest Hemingway overnight, which we’ll assume is good news for now! But it will help you write blog posts and broadcast email messages that are strong and clear.

Hemingway  finds common writing faults:

  • Passive language
  • Hard-to-read paragraphs
  • Excessive adverbs
  • Wordiness

In a nutshell, it shows you where to cut deadwood and write with clarity like . . . Hemingway!

It also calculates reading grade level and word count. (Longer, authoritative content of 2,000+ words ranks higher and attracts more backlinks.)

Hemingway has two operating modes:

Write Mode provides a basic editor with headings, bold, bullets, links, etc.

Edit Mode highlights areas for improvement. I don’t compose in Hemingway, because I’ve run into problems when pasting the content back into a blog.  But I do run posts through Hemingway to strengthen them before publication.

One missing feature: Hemingway does not check for overly long paragraphs — solid “walls of text”. Just keep in mind that writing for the Web means short paragraphs and plenty of headings to break up text.

Of course, the recommendations are only a guide. Feel free to ignore them if they conflict with your personal style.

Hemingway is not an SEO tool; once your writing’s done, optimize your post with Yoast SEO.

Try the online version of Hemingway Editor, it’s fast, free, and helpful. The alternative desktop version sells for $20.

[This post edited with Hemingway!]

Backlinks: Crucial for Local Business Visibility


What are Backlinks?

Backlinks — also called inbound links — are links on other domains that point to your website.

Backlinks may be text links, buttons, or images. They all behave the same way; clicking a backlink sends a user (wherever they are) to your website.

20 years back, Google figured out that backlinks were an accurate gauge of the website quality. A backlink is a vote. Get enough votes, and you’ll find yourself at the top of the search rankings. I’m dramatically simplifying things, but that’s basically how it works.

Here’s an example. Want to look cool yet rugged even though you don’t know prairie coal from a barkin’ iron? I mean, really, who does? To pull off your cowboy charade, you’ll need a pair of authentic Western boots.  See what I did there? Boulet Boots just got a backlink from me. Simple, right?

The actual backlink code looks like this:

<a href="https://www.bouletboots.com/">authentic Western boots</a>


Why did I link to them? Well, I want others to enjoy some authentic boots too. That’s pretty much it.

People link to resources that are cool, informative, entertaining, or emotive.

Big surprise: a key backlink method is to create something on your website that’s cool, informative, entertaining, or emotive . . . so people link to YOU.

Backlinks are Traffic Channels

Until recently, backlinks were often ignored as a local SEO factor because businesses could rank on the first page in a local market area based on their listings, reviews,  citations, and website content.

Those days are fading.

All markets are becoming more competitive as local businesses invest in a spectrum of SEO tactics and get smarter about how to outrank their competitors.

But it’s not all about search engine ranking. Backlinks are independent traffic channels, sending visitors to your site for free, around the clock.

Today, quality backlinks may mean the difference between great first page visibility, or being lost back on the third page, plus they are beautiful traffic channels in their own right. And THAT is why you need to a backlink acquisition strategy.

Backlinks lead to: higher search ranking + free organic traffic + more conversions = money!


Backlink Sources

Oh boy, that’s the issue . . . there are so many methods. Only some of those methods for suitable for a typical local business with limited in-house skills or resources.

You could buy backlinks. That industry is still alive, but it’s expensive and carries some risk.  In 2018, the average cost for a backlink is $361.44 according to Ahrefs.  Roughly $1,000 for three backlinks. You may be need 20, 50, or 100 backlinks depending on your competitive situation.  That’s a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere. Moreover, paying for links explicitly violates Google’s guidelines. My advise: don’t do it.

If buying links is not such a great option, what is?

Earning Backlinks

Earning backlinks means taking specific actions to acquire backlinks organically.  There are many ways to take action, and I’ll point out some below.

Find one or two backlink methods that make sense for your business and get crackin’.

This post is a launch point for the best resources I’ve found that will give you all the backlink ideas you need.

If you want to find out how many backlinks your business needs to compete against local competitors, and what backlinks they have, give us a call.

Backlink Resources

Backlinks: The Definitive Guide

How to Build Backlinks in 2018 (NEW Guide)

The 3 Easiest Link Building Tactics Any Website Can Use to Acquire Their First 50 Links

41 White Hat Backlinks Hacks for an Online Business in 2018

How to Use Reverse Image Search to Build 26% More Backlinks

The Visual Format You Should be Using for Link Building (No, It’s NOT Infographics)

17 Untapped Backlinks Checklist

How To Build SEO BackLinks For Small, Local Businesses