How to Improve the Site Audit Score through Link Building

The site Audit is one of those Squirrly SEO plugin’s features that users really find tremendously valuable.

Most of our Squirrly users rely on the audit to see whether their efforts have been paying off or not.

We’re absolutely thrilled by the idea that we can help marketers and bloggers with many different aspects, not just with optimizing their content.

We also show you what else you need to do to increase your online visibility and outsmart your competition.

As Neil Patel said in an article, “Squirrly is more than an SEO tool––it’s a complete content marketing suite.”

And that’s our promise to anyone who decides to give Squirrly SEO a try.

What you’ll learn in this lesson:

  • What type of content you need to create in order to build backlinks;
  • The basics of building quality backlinks.

You Asked. Now, We Answer.

As it turns out, plenty of Squirrly users are interested in knowing how to maximize their site audit score, more specifically the Links section.

But before we get into the specifics and show you what you need to do to improve it, let’s take a closer look at each of the aspects we analyze (there are seven of them).

  1. High Authority Backlinks per latest posts. Here we take into account all the links that come from high-authority sites and have been indexed by Google. The authority of a site is calculated with Alexa.
  2. Authority Backlinks. This represents the total number of links that you have for your latest posts.
  3. Moz Backlinks. We use Moz’s API to show you data about the number of backlinks your site has.
  4. NoFollow Links. This refers to the external links that you add in your pages/posts for which you add the nofollow tag. This tag means that you don’t pass the link juice to those external links. It’s important to have plenty of nofollow links on your site.
  5. Outgoing doFollow links. These are the external links that do not have the nofollow tag and pass the link juice to the external link you add on a page/post. It’s important to have as little as possible. When creating your SEO strategy, it’s essential to think very carefully which are the sites you’d like to send link juice to.
  6. Majestic Backlinks. Here we use Majestic’s API to receive information about the number of links that point to your site.
  7. Majestic Unique Domains. Yet again, we use Majestic API for the total number of domains that point to your site. A domain can send multiple links to your site, which is why the number of backlinks can be different than the total domains.

So Why Do You Need Backlinks?

High-quality backlinks improve your site’s authority and help you rank higher in search engine results.

Yes, doing this takes a lot of time and effort – months, years even, but in the end, your efforts will pay off. So the sooner you start your link building strategy, the quicker you’ll start improving your rankings.

Links remain one of the top three Google ranking factors, as you probably already know from the second lesson. Therefore, aside from solely focusing on other short-term strategies such as ads, you need to invest in this SEO tactic early on.

Noticed how we mentioned the fact that you need high-quality links?

This means that if you build plenty of links that come from spammy or unknown sites, then you will end up hurting your rankings.

Aside from the authority of the site that links to you, you should also know that the site needs to be relevant or close to your niche.

For example, if you sell handmade soap and a company that manufactures cars links back to your site, then that backlink is not going to be as valuable as a link that would come from a beauty news site.

What You Need to Do Before You Start Building Backlinks

Certain types of content perform better than others when it comes to building high-quality backlinks. This is why, when you build your SEO strategy, we recommend creating these four main types of content:

1. Visuals

Visuals are extremely easy to link to, not to mention the fact that they will look amazing on any site if the design looks great.

You can create any sort of visual material, from diagrams to infographics, charts, presentations, or images.

2. List posts 

When Buzzsumo and Moz teamed up and did a study to analyze the shares and links for over one million articles, they discovered that list posts received the highest amount of shares.

This type of written content is extremely popular and well-received by readers because it’s usually packed with interesting information presented in a digestible manner.

In a list post, you can include personal brands or companies and they will most likely share it as well because you talked about them in your post.

3. Original research

People love data and they will link to your site if you reveal new industry findings, data, or survey results that haven’t been published before.

So if you have the manpower and the time to conduct a big survey within your industry, this is definitely something that you should go for.

Another idea you can try is to involve your audience by asking them to answer a few questions about certain topics people would like to know more about.

4. Ultimate guides

Ultimate guides are comprehensive resources that cover everything there is to know about a certain topic. These pieces of content can have even 10.000 words so you’re able to pack an incredible amount of information on a single page.

This will turn your guide into the go-to resource for that particular topic. To find the best topic for an ultimate guide, you can think about the most common questions you have been receiving from your customers.

Don’t Start Building Backlinks Until You Have Created a High-Quality Piece of Content

Let’s imagine that someone reaches out to you because they want you to include a link to their site in one of your blog posts or pages.

Out of curiosity, you click on their link to see what the resource is about, and it turns out the article has a little over 500 words. What’s more, the information included in it is not even conveyed in an attractive manner.

Naturally, you will ignore this person’s proposal because you don’t believe that their resource can provide any value to your audience.

That’s why it’s so important that before reaching out to people, you create high-quality content that will help you generate links.

Speaking of links, not all of them carry the same weight and impact so you also have to pay attention to their quality.

How to Identify High-Quality Links

If you want to improve your site’s authority, you most certainly want to avoid building low-quality backlinks, because Google will penalize your site. After all, it wouldn’t benefit you if spammy sites start linking back to yours.

“How do I know which links are high-quality?” you ask? Continue reading to find out:

  • Page authority (also known as PageRank). To check the page authority of a link, we recommend using Ahrefs, as it will give you the URL rating. That way, you’ll know if a particular site is worth your time or not.
  • Site authority. Now we’re talking about the global domain authority (DA) of a site. Again, you can use a tool such as Ahrefs to check the DA but also Moz.
  • Site relevancy. Let’s say your site focuses on the topic of smart home technology and you receive a backlink from a site that sells beauty products. Will that link still count? For backlinks to work, you need to build them on sites that are related to your niche.

Now, it’s time to see how to build solid backlinks. Here are a few strategies you can use.

1. Search for Resources Pages

A resource page is a page that links to amazing content on the topic that matches the site’s niche. For example, a site that sells baking utensils can have a resource page that would link to some delicious recipes or to sites that do reviews of the products they sell.

The best thing about these pages is that the site will include almost exclusively external links. So they actually represent the ideal target for your link building efforts.

Important! Don’t forget to check the quality of those resources pages before deciding to reach out to them.

2. Find Pages with Broken Links

The idea behind broken link building is that you find a broken link on someone’s site, then reach out to them, point out the issue they’re having, and suggest they should link to your resource instead.

It’s a very straightforward strategy. However, the tricky part is finding pages with broken links.

Luckily for you, we have the solution.

First, what you want to do is create a list of all the high-authority sites in your niche, including your competitors. Then, you need to use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer feature to find out on which sites have broken links and also identify the sites that linked back to those pages.

And just like that, in just a few minutes, you can find tens – if not hundreds – of link building opportunities on high-authority sites.

3. Use Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique

Most people have already heard about Brian Dean’s link building strategy, but if you haven’t, you’re going to learn about it right now.

But first, I have a question for you: do you want to rank number 1 on the first page of Google for a certain keyword and increase your organic search traffic by 60%?

I’m just going to assume you answered yes.

Well, if it’s implemented correctly, Brian Dean’s strategy can potentially help you achieve these magnificent results.

Here’s what it entails.

Step 1: Use Google to find content that ranks on the first page of Google for the term you are targeting.

Step 2: Write an even better post than the one that’s already on the first page. Depending on the niche you’re in and the article’s type, you may want to consider creating either a list post (e.g.: 100+ ways to…), an ultimate guide (works wonders), or doing some original research (even though this can take more time).

Step 3: Promote the content on various channels, such as social media, to your email list, and reach out to people you may have included in your post. The real battle begins after you hit Publish because you need to actively promote the amazing piece of content you’ve just created.


Now that you’ve identified which type of content you can create to build high-quality backlinks to your site and the sites that can potentially link back to yours, it’s time to start emailing those people.

They need to find out about that amazing resource you wrote as soon as possible.

When it comes to outreaching techniques, I have a few tips for you:

  • Make it personal. Don’t come across as spammy because people will see right through you and ignore your email in an instant. Establish a good rapport with the person you’re writing to and also try to include a short phrase where you tell them a little bit about who you are and what you do.
  • Reach out to the right person. If you can’t find the email address of the person who wrote that particular post, then use social media to reach out to them and ask about their email. The last resort would be to use the website’s generic address to get in touch with that person, but based on personal experience, no one really answers those emails.
  • Follow up. Just because someone did not respond to your first email, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested in hearing from you. People are busy, they forget, and they have certain priorities that they have to take care of first. So be sure to follow up with that person at least a couple of times before giving up. You’ll see that most people respond after the second email.

It’s A Wrap

And there you have it.

Now you know the basics of link building and what you can do to improve your site’s audit score, more precisely, the links and authority sections in the audit created by our Squirrly SEO plugin.

Your goals for this lesson:

  • Create a high-quality piece of content that you can use in your link building strategy;
  • Identify 20 potential sites that can link back to you;
  • Compose an outreach email.

On-Page SEO: The Anatomy of a High-Ranking Page

How do I rank my content on the 1st Page of Google? When it comes to SEO, it’s probably the most asked questions out there.

In an attempt to answer that question, there have been a lot of conversations around technical SEO, black hat tactics, white hat tactics, on-page SEO, algorithm changes – and not enough talk about the importance of adding value and doing what’s best for the audience.

Doing things thoroughly. Doing things right.

In this lesson, you will come to realize that when you break through all the noise, things are actually quite simple. The answer to going from never found to always found on the first page of Google?

Rank how Google wants you to rank.  And that can be summed up in just a few words:

Whatever is best for the user; that’s what Google will place at the top.

Sure, there are hacks and tactics you can try to trick Google and push a page up on SERPs, but those tactics never last; they are not sustainable and they usually end up doing more harm than good.

Again, whatever is best for the user; that’s what Google will place at the top. This means the key to understanding how to rank your pages is to understand what exactly Google defines as what’s best for their users.

Well, in Google’s book, what’s best is:

  • what’s most relevant
  • what’s most valuable/insightful
  • what’s most comprehensive
  • what’s most interesting
  • what’s most authoritative.

We’ll go through every single one of these points, break everything down and show you clear solutions on how to create content Google will rank and people will love.

You can think of this lesson as a detailed scan of a page which has the best chances to be ranked on the first page of Google for its intended keyword. This is going to be fun, so let’s get to it!

What’s Most Relevant

When a user enters a search query, Google wants to deliver the best possible solution or answer to that query. So it will list those pages which are most relevant.

To determine relevancy, Google scrapes a page to look at keywords and how keywords are distributed across the page.

So, if Google sees your page has best cities in Europe in the title, in the body and also has images which are about best cities in Europe, it will reach the common-sense conclusion your page is about best cities in Europe.

If you use Squirrly SEO, you already have a massive advantage because Squirrly Live Assistant checks your writing as you type.

What the assistant focuses on are the most important ranking factors for amazing on-page SEO. In fact, it takes care of all on-page SEO fundamentals for you and checks that:

  • the keyword is in the title of the page and in the H1
  • the exact keyword is mentioned in the introduction and across your content
  • there’s no keyword stuffing or annoying repetitions
  • the keyword is in the alt tag of your images
  • the keyword is used in the meta description
  • and more.

So, by simply using the Squirrly Live Assistant every time you create an article or page, you’re already scoring massive SEO wins Google rewards with the top positions in SERPs.

All you have to think about is getting everything to Green and publishing your content!

Another thing to do for improved on-page SEO is to name your images appropriately with keywords in the filenames before uploading them to your Media Library. The reason for this is that Google will look at your images when trying to fetch the best results to its users.

Therefore, you can use your images to give Google one more hint that it should rank your page instead of others’.

Example: if you have a page about Best Food to eat in Rome, save your image as bestfoodtoeatinrome.jpeg.

The whole gist of building relevancy is to give Google as many reasons as possible to determine your page matches a user’s exact search intent – making your page the most relevant for that particular query, therefore worthy of the top positions in SERPs.

Make it a goal to optimize an article you already have on your site using the Live Assistant. Get it to 100% and don’t forget to hit that Update button.

What’s Most Valuable/Insightful

Look, you really have to play the long game here, meaning you have to put in the effort and add value to gain value. 

Don’t be short-sighted, don’t just look for immediate gains – it’s one of the biggest, most costly mistakes you can make in SEO.

Value – that’s the key to the kingdom.

It’s not a shortcut, but it’s how you build a strong foundation for all your content marketing efforts. And here’s how you do it:

  • Create original content which stands out. Make sure you don’t have content you’ve copied from other pages online. Duplicate content is harmful to rankings and could even result in a Google penalty. Do your best to come up with something one-of-a-kind which doesn’t seem copied or overly-inspired from other sources.
  • Make it a pleasant read. Over-optimization (stuffing your content full of keywords) will make it difficult for your audience to see the value of your content, which hurts your rankings. Make sure to turn all the areas within the Live Assistant green to ensure your content is not only Google-friendly but also human-friendly.
  • Create resources that answer your audience’s questions and teach them something. We’ve already talked about the importance of optimizing content based on search intent. In case you missed the previous lesson on Keyword research, make sure to go back and read it, it is full of insight which is going to help you with that.
  • Create long-form content; it tends to perform better. That’s long-form usually suggests the topic is treated more in-depth. Thin, 400-words pages which bring nothing new or nothing valuable are very unlikely to rank. According to research conducted by Backlinko, the average page which is listed on page one of Google has 1,890 words. Aim for content which is within 1000-3000 words margin.
  • Pay attention to Formatting. Not only does the information provided on your page needs to be insightful and original, but it also needs to be easy to scan and peruse. You want a page that is rich and pleasant to read. So, have at least one bullet list on your page and use subheadings (for a 1000 words article, you should have around 4 subheadings). For very long articles, consider creating a table of content to help users navigate the content on your page more easily. Among other benefits, this pagination trick increases the perceived value of your content.
  • Add visual interest. Break down the text with images (one image every 300 words). Using Squirrly, you can insert copyright-free images relevant for your topic in your WP dashboard (as shown below). That being said, remember that a picture is NOT worth a thousand words; meaning visual assets should complement your text – NOT replace it.

  • Include external links: Make sure to link to high-quality, relevant content not low, spammy pages. Do research and try to find quality resources, such as training and studies that offer new, quality information. Including external references in your content influences how well your page is going to do and builds credibility. Your arguments are backed up by other sources and this tells Google it should rank your page. For a 1000 word article, try to get in one high-quality external link from a trusted publisher.

  • And internal links. Link to other articles on your site that can help the reader round up their knowledge on the topic. You can find articles within your site to link to using the Blogging Assistant from Squirrly (see below). For a 1,000 words article, I would suggest going for 2-3 internal links – but only if they are relevant. Also, as mentioned in lesson 4, try to link to your Focus Pages as often as you can. Think about this linking structure when creating your content strategy; it will help you map out your content more effectively.

Overall, look at the pages which rank on the top positions on Google and try to create something better. If your content is not even a little bit better, why would Google reward it with a better position in SERPs, right?

What’s Most Comprehensive

This is all about having rich content which shows Google your page covers a topic thoroughly. A tactic you can use in this regard is optimizing for multiple keywords.

You’ll want to use relevant words. Start with synonyms (Google also uses synonyms to determine a page’s relevancy) and related keywords which help you expand on the original topic.

So if you’re writing a post about golden retrievers, you could also include details about canine food, or golden retriever training, the breed’s temperament and so on.

Squirrly Live Assistant lets you optimize for multiple keywords. If you’ve already grouped the keywords you’d like to target on the same page using Briefcase, you could just select them from the list and start writing the content.

As you write, Squirrly will show you the level of optimization you’ve reached for each one of the keywords you’ve targeted.

What’s Most Interesting

Having a rich, interesting snippet doesn’t directly influence how well a page will be ranked in Google. However, it does influence click-through-rate, which does significantly impact rankings.

  • CTR (click-through-rate) is the number of clicks your listing receives divided by the number of times it is shown. The math looks like this: clicks ÷ impressions = CTR.

For your click-through-rate to go up, people who see your listing on Google have to click on it. Makes sense, right?

Well, for people to click on your listing, your snippet needs to be interesting and relevant enough. If that happens, Google will know your page delivers what’s best for its users – for that particular search query.

It’s like getting a vote of confidence from users – and that’s a pretty huge deal. It confirms that your listing is the result best matches users’ search intent.

And with that, we’re back to snippets. Here are some things to keep in mind to improve your snippet and get people to click on it.

  • Snippet optimization. We’ve already talked about writing your meta description with the keyword in it. This tells Google your page is relevant for that query. Plus, if you have your keyword in the meta description, it will appear in bold, which will help your snippet stand out from the rest.
  • Make it descriptive. Make sure people clearly understand what your page is about. Don’t try to trick people into clicking by posting a deceptive meta description. People will immediately bounce off your page if they don’t find what they expect, which has negative, long-term, consequences.
  • Include an attractive CTA which encourages people to visit your page and gives them that extra motivation. e.g: learn exclusive details about the new iPhone.

Even a few seemingly small changes can make a world of difference. Make sure to experiment with how you shape your snippet and check your rankings to see if the change you made has brought a change for the better.

If you’ve created a valuable page and optimized with the Live Assistant from Squirrly, you already have a strong foundation.

This is extra fuel to take your page to the top of Google. Use it; there’s no reason not to take this extra step, especially since it’s so easy to edit your meta description in Squirrly SEO (see a screenshot below).

Find the section pictured here by scrolling down to the bottom of your page/article, in your WordPress editor.

What’s Most Authoritative

You knew this was coming. Yes, this is the part where we talk about backlinks – one aspect of SEO I know both beginner and expert SEOs struggle with. You already know the more sites will link back to you, the higher your authority score will go.

Yes, Google ranks pages, not sites, but it does take overall site considerations into account when deciding how high to rank a page. If you have multiple domains with a high DA linking to you, it will positively influence your site’s authority and thus rankings overall.

However, it’s more important to think about quality over quantity.

Those thin, 400 word pages which provide nothing new or valuable to their audiences are very unlikely to rank high on Google. So what some site owners will try to do is attempt to gain a lot of backlinks for that page and push it up in rankings that way.

However, if it’s a low-quality page, no one will rush to link back to it.  So it makes more sense to invest time in creating a valuable page from the get-go.

Funny enough, if a page is truly valuable, others will naturally want to link back to it. And those sites tend to be more relevant and more high-quality.

Once you have a strong base (a quality page), you can start to implement strategies to get backlinks.

The next and final lesson in this course is all about that and features the best tactics you can use to get quality backlinks to your pages. 

The Content Is Part of a Bigger Picture

You should think of the elements in your SEO strategy as being connected. A great page on a spammy site or a site that has technical issues is still likely to be ranked pretty low.

Also, website architecture influences how Google sees your site and how well it can navigate and understand it. Structure-wise, some aspects can help improve your rankings, such as things like:

  • having a relevant URL permalink name
  • having an appropriate domain name (see an example below)

  • ensuring content is placed in a related category (in the example below, you can see how well the content on Moz’s site is structured in categories and subcategories)

on-page seo

  • the most important pages in your site are supported by other relevant pages (we talked about this in lesson 4 which was all about Focus Pages).

The bigger picture I’m trying to paint here is this: don’t think exclusively about on-page SEO or exclusively about website architecture and so on.

Think about creating an environment for SEO success, where every element is like a brick contributing to building a page up to the first positions of Google.

How fast your site loads, the design, how easy it is to navigate, whether your page is mobile-friendly or not; these all impact your rankings, as well.

Think platform + content +snippet.

More or less, in one way or another, everything is connected.

Awesome Job Today!

I know this was a lot of information to go through – but I hope it’s created a clearer path for you, one that you can follow to rank on the first page of Google.

Your goals for this lesson:

  • Optimize a post to 100% using the Live Assistant. Publish it. It can be an entirely new post or a page you already have created in your site and want to re-optimize to target a specific keyword.
  • Edit the meta description for at least one of your articles so people won’t be able to resist clicking on it.
  • Interlink articles in your site.

How to Organize and Manage Your Keyword Portfolio

Hey there! Excellent job reading the lessons so far. Hope you’re learning a lot!

Now, talking about learning, the lesson right here will be all about organizing and managing a keyword portfolio so you can strengthen your strategies and better prioritize your work.

So far, the most common solutions for managing these lists of keywords included the good old-fashioned spreadsheet. I like a good spreadsheet just as much as the next marketer does and I use it quite a lot as I’m sure you do, as well. But it’s just not an effective platform for managing your lists of keywords.

Luckily, if you’re a Squirrly SEO user, you have the Briefcase feature, so you can ditch the spreadsheet (finally) and not have to go back and forth to add and delete keywords. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This lesson will help you unleash the full power of Briefcase, so let’s dig in!

Why You Need a Well-Organized Keyword Portfolio

With Squirrly SEO, you get a reserved place to store and group all the keywords you have chosen to target on your site. It beats having your keywords scattered across dozens of files by a long shot. How come?

Well, first of all, this way of working with keywords makes keyword research actionable and provides focus, meaning you can actually use all the info you’ve found doing research.

In other words, the work you put into the Keyword Analysis phase won’t go to waste – as you’ll get to implement and keep track of your strategies.

With SEO requiring keyword discovery on a constant basis, chances are you’ll end up overlooking some significant keyword opportunities, especially when dealing with extended lists of keywords.

Having a flexible keyword management solution like Briefcase solves that problem and helps you group vast lists of keywords into tighter, more relevant keyword groups. Also, when you already have a few categories created, it will be much easier to expand those lists with new keywords, as you’ll know the focus of each category.

Secondly, a successful keyword strategy is one that continues to evolve.

Think about it; you’re always trying new tactics, creating new campaigns and content to leverage new keyword opportunities. That’s how you stay relevant and competitive, but it can get pretty hectic, pretty fast – especially if you’re NOT your site’s sole writer.

With Briefcase, you can make sure all your site contributors can access the keyword portfolio and coordinate their efforts for increased accuracy and productivity.

Last but not least, how you organize your keyword portfolio is the foundation of how you organize your content strategy. 

When you realize that, you acknowledge how important it is to have a keyword management tool.

That’s – in a nutshell – why you should continuously use Briefcase and:

  • store keywords whenever you find a good keyword opportunity
  • group keywords using labels to organize your strategies
  • use keywords stored in Briefcase to guide your content creation efforts.

Haven’t used the Briefcase feature yet? Make it a goal to save a few keywords to your Briefcase today.

Using Briefcase’s Power to Build Winning SEO Strategies

Regardless of the platform that you use for your site, having a well-categorized keyword portfolio can help tremendously. Let’s quickly go through some of the things you can do with Briefcase and look at some of the best ways you can put its power to great use.

1. Optimization History

In Briefcase, you can find all the posts and pages you optimized for a specific keyword and thus keep track of how much content on your site is optimized for a particular keyword.

In other words, you can see how you’ve mapped your SEO content across your site. This is extremely important, as it helps you:

  • notice potential problems or gaps in your content strategy
  • having an overview of all the strategies you currently have on your site helps you know when it may be time for a change
  • discover where to optimize, what content to build and where you can add new pages to attract more traffic to your website.

2. Optimizing a Post for Multiple Keywords

In your WordPress editor, you can select the keywords you want to target in your content from Briefcase.

Once you start writing the article using the Live Assistant, the Briefcase will show you the optimization score of your article for all the keywords you decided to use.

Optimizing a post for multiple keywords within that topic shows Google and visitors that your content is a highly-relevant, in-depth, valuable resource for that topic. So, the content is more likely to achieve high rankings.

3. Research the Keywords You’ve Placed into Briefcase

Now, I know that the whole idea is to place good keywords in Briefcase – hence keywords you’ve already researched. However, know that keyword data is not stagnant; it changes over time.

Make sure to check the evolution of the keywords you’ve stored in Briefcase, and refresh the research.

Once you added keywords in Squirrly Briefcase, you can do keyword research and see which one is trending and easy to rank for. This can help you spot new opportunities to create content.

What Goes Where? A Few Ideas on How to Organize Your Keywords Using Labels

Ok, so how can you group keywords? There’s really no limit on how you can use labels to organize your strategies.

For this lesson, we wanted to share some cool ways in which you sort your keywords so you may feel energized to do some brainstorming yourself.

I’ll use an example to better explain all this, so let’s pretend you’re a wedding florist and you have a site where you promote your services and blog about wedding flower stuff.

How could you use Labels?

1. Branding

What’s your brand’s most distinctive trait? And do you know what words best reflect your vision and business? Does your team know? And are those ideas consistently communicated across the content you produce? You can use labels for that.

For instance, in the florist example, you could create a label named branding and include words you find the most consistent with the brand, such as the highest level of personal and professional service, flexible, friendly service, customized florist services, custom wedding flowers designed to fit your style and budget.

Using labels this way will help you get your brand messaging right and ensure that what you want people to know about your brand is what’s actually being communicated to them.

Anytime you or someone on your team start creating content, words labeled Branding can serve as a North Star, guiding their content creation efforts.

All they have to do is Search in Briefcase from their WordPress editor for those keywords – via their corresponding name or label color.

2. Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords

Say you have wedding bouquet as a root keyword. Using a label, you could add related terms to the same batch, such as wedding flowers, bridal flowers, wedding flowers ideas, types of wedding flowers, bridal bouquet, wedding essentials and so on.

This way, when someone on your team begins to create content, they’ll know which semantic keywords to include to optimize for a page’s topic, not just its target phrase. As you now know, this shows Google the content you’ve created is a comprehensive resource on the topic and thus it’s likely to rank it higher.

3. Indirect targeting

A future bride may not directly look for a wedding florist. She may first look for inspiration and search for bridal floral hacks or best wedding bouquets of all time on Google. These are indirect keywords you can target to bring relevant traffic to your site and create awareness about your brand.

Use a label to group them together.

4. Conversion Focused

With Labels, you can easily group keywords based on Search Intent and know how much of your content is optimized for conversion.  Buy wedding flower bouquet, special price wedding flower bouquet, wedding florist near me, these are all conversion-focused keywords you could target to get people to buy your services (in our florist example).

5. Map your customer journey

Use labels to mark keywords based on the different stages in your customer journey.

Sticking with the florist example, a few keywords to target in your content for Awareness Stage could be the best types of wedding bouquets, how to pick wedding bouquet flowers, wedding florist cost. For the purchase stage, you could add keywords such as the buy wedding bouquets, wedding florist near me.

If your customer journey also includes a comparison stage, you could also include keywords with alternative or versus in their body.

This way, you’ll know how much effort you put into creating resources for every stage in your customer journey.

6. Organize your campaigns

If you have multiple campaigns you’re working on at the same time, you can use labels to group together keywords you’re targeting in each one of your campaigns. For instance, you could have a Valentine’s Day campaign and a special Early Spring Wedding campaign – each one focusing on a different set of keywords.

7. Message framework for your campaigns

This way of using labels helps ensure your marketing messaging remains consistent throughout the duration of your campaigns.

For instance, say you do have that Valentine’s Day Campaign and you’ve come up with a memorable motto or unique value proposition for it. Simply create a Label and ensure the marketing message will be emphasized across the content your brand publishes.

8. Chance of Ranking

Keywords vary tremendously in terms of their competitiveness – and this is clearly shown by the analytics provided in Squirrly’s Keyword Research.

However, just because your site isn’t strong enough to rank for a keyword NOW doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future – if you work on building its domain authority. So, you could create different labels for:

    • keywords  your site can rank for now
    • keywords within a slight reach
    • keywords which will take a significant level of time/effort to rank for

In Briefcase, you can always refresh the keyword analytics and see if a keyword you’ve placed in the slight reach category, for instance, can be moved to the keywords your site can rank for now.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve already used labels, and it made organizing and managing our campaigns so much easier. I’m sure as you start using this feature, you’ll come up with fresh ways to use Labels that match your needs and goals.

Your goals for this lesson:

  • Add a few keywords to Briefcase
  • Create a Label
  • Assign the keywords to the Label.

A Tactical SEO Framework for Ranking Your Focus Pages

We’ve already established your Focus Pages are the supporting pillars on which your SEO strategies rest upon. In the previous lesson, you also learned more about the benefits of employing an approach that centers on your most important pages.

In this lesson, we want to take things further – and zero in on all the elements of a successful Focus Pages strategy.

Look, your site’s SEO success is weighing on your Focus Pages, so you can’t afford to have an unstable, shaky structure.

How do you make it sturdy and reliable?

You need to be rigorous and build it brick by brick, as cutting corners will always come back to bite you. So read on to learn more about all the blocks which make up a high-ranking Focus Page.

These are all elements covered by Squirrly SEO.

A Blueprint for Ranking Your Focus Pages on the 1st Page of Google


Indexability is often the last thing that pops into mind when thinking about ranking, yet even seemingly small problems with indexability could result in your site losing its rankings. As the name suggests, indexability refers to the search engine’s ability to analyze and add a page to its index.

Several factors influence indexability, from page load time, site structure and internal link structure to how often you post new or updated content.

One of the biggest things for you to do right here and right now is to connect your site to Google Search Console.

And remember that if you make important changes to your pages (like getting 100% optimization with the SEO Live Assistant, or adding keywords to Open Graph and Twitter cards) you need to tell Google Search Console that you made the change.

Google won’t know about this change otherwise, and you’d be constantly asking yourself why your rank doesn’t increase.

Go to GSC -> Fetch as Google -> ask it to re-index your page

We’ll help you with a button straight from the Squirrly SEO Focus Pages interface, though.

focus pages

There are many other factors listed here in Visibility. You need to get them all to Green and solve everything. Otherwise, your chances of ranking are 0 (ZERO).

You wouldn’t believe the number of times we’ve seen even SEO Experts and Web Developers fail at parts included in Indexability. They mistakenly de-ranked their customers by failing here. Of course, right now, with Focus Pages it becomes almost impossible to make such mistakes because Squirrly tells you everything.

Okay, now start getting this to Green in your Focus Pages section.

Keyword Research

You should build your Focus Pages around the topics you want to rank for the most; the keywords you want to rank on the first page of Google.

But don’t rely on guesswork when it comes to which are the best keywords to target. Rely on data you get by conducting Keyword Research using Squirrly’s keyword research tool.

focus pages

You always want to go after keywords with high search volume, ideally keywords that are trending at the moment.

Also, go after long-tail keywords and make sure your site really has a solid chance of outranking others!

This means: select keywords where competition score is presented as “Easy to Rank“.

There are over 300,000 keywords brought to the first page of Google by different customers of Squirrly. Most of them managed to achieve this success because they focus on keywords where they could really get ranked.

We’d see even more customers become super successful if they made the switch from bad keywords to good keywords they can target.

Some keywords are just impossible to rank for if you have a small business. Squirrly guides you to amazing hidden gems if you use it properly.

In most cases, to be successful you will see that you NEED to switch the current keyword you targeted with your page. Don’t worry about making the change.


It’s the only realistic way to achieve TOP 10 rankings in most cases.

Keywords as Part of a Strategy

Don’t just pick keywords randomly; there should always be a clear strategy behind the keywords you target in your pages and articles.

Proper organization is essential in this case, which is why we built Briefcase – a single place inside the plugin where you can save and organize your best keywords.

(see a screenshot of this section in Squirrly SEO below)

focus pages

In this section, you can save keywords you want to capitalize later on.


Say you have a site which sells city tours and you know there is an important event coming up in your city, you can capitalize on that. Let’s take Octoberfest in Munich.

You can create pillar content around that topic and name it Everything you need to know about Octoberfest in Munich.

This would be a valuable in-depth resource for tourists who will be in town for the famous beer fest. In the article, you could make a paragraph about cool things tourists can do while in town – and promote your tours. This way, you can reach highly-targeted visitors in an organic way.

This would be an awesome indirect keyword that could bring leads for your travel business. And you can label it that way with Briefcase labels so that you’ll always know what intentions you had for that keyword.

Lesson 6 of this course will be all about building and managing your keyword portfolio using the Briefcase feature in Squirrly; make sure you read it.

It will give you many ideas on how to choose and organize the best keywords, depending on your SEO Strategy.

SEO Content

After you’ve devised a clear keyword strategy, start creating amazing content targeting that/those keyword(s).

In case you decide to adapt and make a switch from the first under-performing keyword to one that seems Profitable, you will need to re-optimize your SEO Content for the new keyword.

This resource can be a long-form article, a product/collection description, a description of your services – you name it. The content should be 100% optimized using Squirrly’s Live Assistant.

Also, keep in mind the content should also be valuable to your audience. Try to make it a pleasant read. Give them plenty of information. So it’s best if you create content which is over 1,500-words long and has very good “avg time on page” metrics inside Google Analytics.

WHY – Because Google cares about seeing quality in your pages to rank you higher. Therefore, they look at how much time people have spent on your long pages.

Platform SEO

There are a set of technical SEO settings you need to activate in Squirrly SEO to achieve the best results.

Since there are many types of content you can create in WordPress, you’ll need to make sure that the SEO Settings are activated for that particular type of content.

Of course, Squirrly SEO will make those necessary checks on your behalf, and signal any issues preventing your Focus Page from ranking on Google.

The Platform SEO check you see below is just one of the ways Squirrly SEO provides tremendous oversight of your site.

Focus Pages

There are many cases in which for some particular post types, WP will not load the required metas and settings (mainly due to poor coding in WP themes).

Squirrly will protect you from such technical disasters.


It’s important to have your main keyword in the snippet for that page. Also, keep in mind the reason people don’t click on your listing (on search engines) could be that you don’t have an attractive enough meta description.

There are quite a few elements that go into making the Snippet fully optimized, and Squirrly will walk you through all the steps.

SEO images

Make sure to have an alt attribute for your images. This provides better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them properly index an image. Also, the alt text will be shown in place of an image, in case the image cannot be displayed.

You’ll need to have at least ONE image from your Focus Page being named as keyword.png

Example: oktoberfest-in-munich.png

There’s a check for this in the Focus Page section as well, so if you are using Squirrly, all you need to worry about is following the instructions and turn the associated element from Red to Green.

Traffic Health

It’s not only important to bring traffic to your site, but also to ensure that traffic is high-quality.

You know how people say you need Quality Content in order to rank higher on Google?

Most people think about quality content in very vague and UNRELIABLE terms. The Google search engine is quite a technical device. Therefore, it looks for very specific and very clear indicators, not random user preferences.

It looks at things like: bounce rate, exit rate, time on page, navigation flow, etc.

A high bounce rate could indicate your visitors don’t find your content relevant or interesting enough. This usually happens when you do SEO in a wrong way and you don’t match the content you’ve created to the visitors’ intent!

Also, look at the average time on page to better understand how visitors engage with your content. Analyze this metric in relation to the number of words on your page.

What constitutes a good time on page for a 500-words page is different than a good time on page for a 1,500 words article. That’s simply because it takes longer to read a long-form article than it is to read a short one.

Platform Health

Your site needs to be built on a strong foundation. A page will NOT rank high if most of the website has low-quality SEO.

In Squirrly SEO, you can check the overall health of your platform – in your case, your WordPress site. And there’s also an entire panel inside the Focus Pages section dedicated to this.

focus pages

You need an Audit score over 80 to achieve the best rankings with your Focus Pages.

Luckily, the Audit from Squirrly tells you what you need to improve to get a score of over 80.

Original Content

Make sure you don’t have duplicate content on your site. If you have lots of content you’ve copied from other pages online, it will negatively impact your rankings.

If you have a lot of duplicates across pages from your own site, that will also be a problem.

Page Authority

Page Authority (PA) is a score developed by Squirrly. Yes, we use our own score here, not the score from Moz.

The score basically predicts how well a specific page in your site will rank on search engine result pages (SERP).

The score is calculated based on dozens of factors and the higher the score is (it can go up to 100), the greater a page’s ability to rank. It’s difficult to influence the PA score directly, but the best approach is to build its link profile (get external links from other high-authority pages).

Alternatively, you can increase this by making sure your pages get shared a lot across social media platforms, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

Tools like Squirrly Social can help you with this aspect.

Social Signals

Make sure to promote your content on social media platforms to get engagement and shares, and reach new audiences.

Use platforms that make sense for your business- there are plenty of opportunities out there you can leverage from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and Instagram.


Getting links from high authority domains remains an important ranking factor. We know this is something that many people struggle with, so the final circuit is all about what you can do to get more backlinks to your pages.

Inner links

This is all about optimizing other posts in your site for topics that are similar to that of your Focus PageThese articles can be optimized for long-tail variants of the main keyword for which you’ve optimized your Focus Page.

You can also use different website architecture designs to achieve this.

Again, linking these articles to your Focus Page shows Google that your Focus Page is the most important page in your site for that topic.

Just look at the example below. You could have a huge page on your site about “Workout Plans”. That would be your Focus Page.

Focus Pages

Next, you’d create those satellite pages. Each one for their own derivative keyword. Then from each satellite create links towards the Focus Page.

The Inner Linking feature of your Blogging Assistant inside Squirrly SEO can help you speed up the inner linking process.

Outbound links

All links going out from Focus Pages towards 3rd party sites should have a no-follow attribute.


Within Squirrly SEO, we offer ways to monitor your progress and check your results by providing keywords ranking data. This is really important, strategy-wise.

WHY – Some strategies will work better than others. So it’s critical to keep track of performance and know when it’s time to maybe drop a keyword, go back to keyword research and try to find new opportunities.

You need to be able to track this in almost real-time and always know what’s going on. It’s the main reason why we’ve designed the Squirrly SEO Business Plan.

If you spend over 3 months constantly working on a Focus Page and you can’t get it ranking higher, it means you need to think if it’s time to change the keyword and re-optimize for a better one.

Some Great News for You!

All the aspects mentioned in this lesson are aspects you need to cover to make your Focus Pages absolutely flawless. 

When you’re working with Focus Pages, you need to be super thorough. It’s just 4-5 pages, but as you can see, there are a lot of things to do.

Luckily for you, in Squirrly SEO, we’ve already covered all these aspects and shaped them into tasks you can work on to make your Focus Pages the absolute best.

So that’s one less thing you need to worry about.

Remember! Every time you manage to turn a Red light Green, you win. Every task you complete represents an SEO victory, taking you closer to the 1st Page of Google. 

One More Thing

The Focus Pages strategy is one that keeps evolving, which means it’s important to continuously refine your SEO strategies.

This is NOT something you work on once. 

New pages in your site will become your Focus Pages, so you’ll have new pages you’ll relentlessly work on to rank higher. Once you are done ranking your initial, money-making Focus Pages, you can continue to create pillar content which serves as new Focus Pages.

You’ll need to try different methods, work from different angles to achieve success with your pages.

That’s how you keep moving and keep improving.

Great job completing the lesson

We’re halfway through this course; there are four more lessons to read, and a lot more to learn.

That said, successful SEO is not only about continuous learning. It’s also about action.

Your goal for this lesson:

Identify the tasks Squirrly SEO points for your Focus Pages and start working on them; these are the tasks that will take you from Never Found to Always Found on the 1st Page of Google.

How to Find Untapped Keyword Ideas and Analyze Their Potential

Welcome to the fifth lesson. And as I’m sure you guessed from the title, this one will be all about becoming a Keyword Research Ninja.

The Good News is: You can be a NON-SEO Person and still find amazing keyword opportunities for which to place your content at the top of search results.

“Really? But I don’t know the first thing about selecting keywords or choosing keywords I’d need for the site” is what you could be saying.

Yes, really. Today’s lesson will show you the Keyword Research Formula developed by Squirrly. We use it for a lot of the website and e-commerce sites that we’re currently ranking.

With the power of this formula, you’ll be able to find amazing keywords with very little competition in no time.

Read on:

It’s no secret Keyword Research is a critical part of Search Engine Optimization. It’s been a topic that has been turned inside out.

Yet this image from Answer the Public (a tool that shows what questions and queries consumers have) proves just how many questions people still have regarding this topic.

A few of them stand out, showing the areas where most struggle:

  • What are the reasons for which we do keyword research in the first place?
  • How to come up with new keyword ideas?
  • What is the process of analyzing a good keyword opportunity?
  • What is a good keyword, anyway?

In this lesson, we’ll address all of these questions you probably have as well.

You’ll build up your knowledge on this crucial topic.

But that’s just a part of the fun.

We’ve also included clear tips and best practices you can start applying right away using Squirrly’s keyword research.

You’ll get inspired and most likely have a brand-new set of awesome keywords in mind by the end of it.

So, Why Is It That We Do Keyword Research?

Simple; it’s to avoid scenarios like these:

  • If you pick a bad keyword, your chances of reaching the first page of Google search are extremely slim, no matter how good the plugin you use is.
  • Being on the first page on Google for keywords nobody ever searches for, means you’ll get no organic traffic to your WordPress site.
  • Wasting resources creating content on topics that are not popular and no one really cares about.
  • Creating content blindly, while also losing focus of your strategy.

On the other hand, effective keyword research helps you better understand your target market and how they are searching for your content, services or products. Basically, it helps you answer questions like:

  • What do people search for on Google;
  • How many people search for that topic;
  • How they phrase it;
  • How interesting a topic is at the time; whether it’s trending or not.

Knowing this information helps you create content which gets more traffic that is converting into leads and sales.

A Few Essential Notes to Get Started on the Right Foot

Let’s get on the same page here.

You probably know you should research keywords that are connected to your brand, your niche, the industry you are in and the things you’re promoting on your site.

But keyword research is so much more complex than that.

And in order to find amazing, golden-nugget opportunities, you have to take it to the next level and go beyond the obvious keywords and acknowledge that:

  • Data is king. There is nothing more inefficient than getting stuck on a keyword and stubbornly creating content for it by going against data which shows you it’s NOT a keyword you should target. For instance, we had a client who wanted to use digital ecosystem as the main keyword used to describe their digital marketing services. It sounded pretty original, but data showed it was NOT what their potential clients were typing into Google to find services such as theirs.The keywords you are targeting should be relevant to the country you are targeting.
  • One word can have multiple meanings. People who search for nails on Google might want to do their nails at a salon or buy nails to do some work around the house. These are two very different people who search on Google for two very different things using the same world.
  • The same thing can be phrased in many different ways. People use all kinds of words to look for the same thing. The image below illustrates this perfectly. An individual looking for a nice bar to hang out on a Friday night could type any of the keywords below into Google. This shows why keyword research is essential and why it’s so important to be as specific as possible, which means going for long-keywords composed of multiple words.
  • Search Intent. You may get 6,000 visits to your site if you’ve managed to find a keyword with high Search Volume. That’s success, right? Well, if your goal is solely to bring traffic, then yes. But look, you could get 6,000 visits and not make a single sale. So, if you’re trying to convert some of the traffic you bring to your site in sales, make sure you’re also targeting keywords that show commercial interest.
  • Not what you thought it meant. You may even find keywords that seem to be awesome. However, Squirrly SEO allows you to use the Keyword Research tool together with its Blogging AssistantOnce you find keywords you think of saving for your site, make sure you read some content written around those keywords from the Blogging Assistant. “Premium Coffee” is quite a different cup of coffee than “Specialty Coffee”.

Search Intent shows how likely someone searching for a given keyword is to purchase from you. 

There are two main categories to keep in mind here:

  1. Informational Intent. The user’s intent when using these keywords is to acquire information on a particular topic. These are keywords you may want to use in the Awareness Stage of your customer journey when you’re trying to get your brand and the solutions you offer in front of your audience – even if they are not ready to buy. How to keywords are a great example of key phrases that fall under this category.
  2. Commercial Intent. On the other hand, search queries which have words like free shipping, buy, order now, next-day shipping, near me, best price, coupon, deal all showcase a strong purchase intent.

By recognizing keyword intent, you’ll see more opportunities for conversions.

Keep these nuances in mind when picking keywords and building your strategy. It will help you create better content for each stage in your customer’s journey.

A Cheat Sheet for Getting Quick Keyword Ideas and Becoming a Keyword Research Ninja

If you find yourself running out of ideas of what to type into Squirrly’s Keyword Research box, don’t fret! Start with a keyword you find relevant and which you want to rank for and try these formulas to generate new keyword ideas.

You can use these formulas as part of a brainstorming session to find new keyword ideas that are relevant to your topic and your audience. Where it says your keyword in the formula, insert a word you find is most relevant for your website.

  1.  Adjective (best, free, new, great, top, quick, simple, easy) + your keyword: e.g. free tools for social media
    Great for uncovering core keywords to target in your most important pages.
  2.  Your keyword + year: e.g. best make up products 2018
    This formula is best used when you want to leverage people’s appeal towards the latest information and trending topics.
  3.  Keyword + season: e.g. hair care products for winter
    Use this formula to leverage seasonal trends.
  4. Your keyword + location: e.g. best pizza place in Rome. You can also try being even more specific and consider a keyword like best pizza place in Monti (a cool neighborhood in Rome).
    Use this formula if you’re targeting a specific city, for instance, or you have a physical business.
  5. Your keyword + buyer persona: e.g. SEO training courses for small business owners, remote job opportunities for stay at home moms
    Great for coming up with keyword ideas you can use as a base to develop highly-targeted SEO strategies.
  6. Price + your keyword: e.g. premium wooden watches, cheap wooden watches
    Using this formula will help you come up with price-focused keywords you can target in your conversion-focused content.
  7. Formula: your keyword + benefit e.g. wooden watches free shipping, training course free download, SEO software free trial
    Great for uncovering benefit-oriented keywords.
  8.  Your keyword + word which suggests novelty: e.g. new children books, new in leather shoes, fresh marketing training
    Good for when you want to emphasize that something, be it a product or knowledge detailed in your content, is up to the minute.
  9. Best + insert competitor name + alternative: e.g. Best SEMrush alternative
    Come up with keyword ideas that can help you build up the foundation of effective competitor campaigns.
  10. Your keyword + modifier such as review, guide, training, list, analysis, checklist: e.g. SEO tools review
    Great for brainstorming keywords ideas which will help you reach people looking for specific information formats.

These were just a few ideas.

Of course, you can play around and combine these formulas for long-tail keyword suggestions. So, you could end up with long-tail keywords such as best hair care products for blonde women 2019. 

Start experimenting with your keywords, expand your list. It will get things moving for you and open up a whole new world of amazing keywords your competitors don’t know about.

Master These Proven Tactics to Discover Amazing Ideas for Keywords

Some tactics work incredibly well – regardless of the niche you are in, the industry and so on. What’s more, you can use and master these methods even if you’re a non-SEO expert. So don’t stop reading, we’re almost at the end of this lesson.

Be more specific

Long-tail keywords are less competitive than generic, broad terms and will help you produce content which is a lot more relevant to what your audience actually needs.

So, instead of targeting the keyword hair care product which is highly competitive, you could go for a more specific alternative: styling products for curly hair. Squirrly’s keyword research tool is amazing at surfacing long-tail keywords for your content you might have otherwise missed.

Do keyword research based on your buyer persona

Taking time to identify their pain points, what they are struggling with, their frustrations, as well as their goals, is something that will help you come up with great keyword ideas.

By solely targeting your customers when they’re searching for exactly the thing you sell, you’re missing out on a lot of other opportunities to get your brand noticed by them.

Your customers are probably searching on Google for things that are related to your product – without actually typing in the name of your product.

Let me explain with an example.

Let’s say you are selling courses for small business owners.

In this case, you shouldn’t JUST go for a keyword like marketing training for small business owners. Keep in mind your customers spend the majority of their time searching online for stuff you DON’T sell – explicitly.

Small business owners might look for things like how to grow my email list, how to get more customers, how to manage multiple social media accounts; these are aspects your marketing training course probably covers, more or less.

By targeting those keywords as well, you can get your site in front of a wider base of your target customers.

This makes you top of mind – so when those prospects are ready to invest in a product like yours, you’ll be the first they’ll consider.

Try Quora

Quora is a massive Q&A platform that covers all the topics under the sun and can help you reveal topics that are top of mind for your audience.

Go ahead and type in your keyword in Quora to get started.

Get inspired by the questions those interested in the topic have asked. Once you have some new ideas for topics/keywords, go back to Squirrly and research their potential.

Use Google Search’s related to…

Start off with a keyword relevant to your business; you probably already have some of those in mind.

Then scroll down to the bottom of the first page of Google. There you’ll find keyword ideas related to your topic. More often than not, you’ll find amazing long-tail keyword suggestions that you may want to target in your content. See?

keyword research

Including variations on your main keyword which are closely semantically related is an excellent way to achieve and keep good content rankings.

That’s because this tactic shows both Google and your visitors that your content is providing complete and thorough information on the topic.

On Google, you can also check out the “People also ask” box (this is particularly useful for question keywords).

keyword research

Get inspired by your competition

Okay, inspired is just another way of saying spy on your competition and discover the keywords they rank for.

How does this help you?

Well, if you know this information, you can use it to reverse engineer their SEO strategy. There are several ways you can do competitive analyses, but the easiest by far is using Squirrly SPY.

Squirrly SPY will generate a complete report of keywords used on your competitor’s site. 

This helps you find incredible keywords – even for highly-saturated niches like fitness and beauty in which it can sometimes feel impossible to find new topic ideas.

An important mention!

Using these tactics does NOT replace Data Analysis. They are great for keyword discovery and will help you get inspired in those moments when you have no clue where to start your Keyword Research.

Once you have a list of potential keywords, check the analytics you get in Squirrly’s Keyword Research Tool.

Always use Squirrly’s Research tool to get data about the keywords before starting to create or re-adapt content.

focus pages

In addition to relevant data about the keywords you are considering, you’ll also find other great suggestions of long-tail keywords that your site can rank for.

A Step-by-Step Process to Analyze Keywords like a PRO

Before we end this lesson, I wanted to share with you a quick 4-step process you can use after doing keyword research in Squirrly and have a generous list of keywords in front of you.

This simple process will help you pick those keywords opportunities that are worth the investment of time and resources.

  • Start by analyzing the competition. Ideally, you’ll want to target keywords that are easy to rank for.
  • Then look at the search volume. The bigger the number, the better, because it means many people are searching for that keyword.
  • Trend. If you find keywords that have both low competition and similar search volume and don’t know which one to pick, always look at the trend. If the trend for one keyword is growing and the trend for the other is dropping, you’re obviously going to pick the first.
  • Finally, discussion. If a topic is hot on social media, it means that topic will likely generate a lot of engagement.

Try to look at the list of keywords below and analyze the data provided by Squirrly in relation to each keyword.

Then, using the process described above, identify the best keyword opportunities from that list.

keyword research

The perfect keyword which meets all criteria can be hard to come by and the truth is, a keyword doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.

But now you know which are the most important aspects to watch out for.

Using Keywords as Part of a Strategy

It’s important to ensure your keyword strategy isn’t going stale.

Adapt, fluctuate, reiterate your strategy and make changes when needed.

The feature which will be the star of the next lesson- Briefcase – was built to help you with that. There are many cool ways you can use it to manage and organize your keyword portfolio to build a strategy that keeps evolving; you’ll see!

Great job today!

You’ve rounded up your knowledge on an essential aspect of SEO and hopefully got some inspiration for your next batch of keywords.

Don’t forget about your goals for today:

Your goals for this lesson:

  • Open Squirrly’s Research Tool and have fun trying some of the formulas we gave you.
  • Save at least three keywords to your Briefcase.

An Introduction to Focus Pages – and the Power They Have for SEO

Today’s lesson will be centered around Focus Pages – the most important pages in your site – and how to use them to build a winning SEO strategy that will improve your rankings.

This lesson is super valuable to learn.

Why? Because it helps you build a framework for all your pages and learn how SEO work should get done.

The reality is that the tools you use – as impressive as they may be – will ONLY serve you IF you implement effective SEO strategies for your site. 

Focus Pages are all about strategy, which is why this lesson is essential:

  • You’ll learn more about what focus pages are and how a few pages in your site can make all the difference in terms of achieving SEO success.
  • You will also gain a deeper understanding of the fantastic benefits of employing a Focus Pages based strategy to rank the most important pages in your site.
  • By the end of this course, you’ll probably have a new way of thinking about your SEO strategy.

The Focus Pages strategy can successfully be applied to any website, in any niche, big or small.

Yes, you can apply it for:

  • a construction company’s website
  • a cleaning services company
  • a SaaS (software as a service) presentation website
  • a huge blog (over 20,000 articles)
  • an e-commerce store
  • a photography services site
  • etc.

Why does it make sense for this to work for any kind of site?

  • Because Google does not discriminate according to the type of site. They (the Google bot crawlers and their algorithms) look at ranking factors above all else.
  • Focus Pages are all about analyzing your most important pages according to all the important ranking factors and making adjustments so that Google will love your website more than the other competing websites.

Also, the following information is crucial if you want to get the most out of using the Squirrly SEO plugin and supercharging your rankings. So, please read carefully.

What Are Focus Pages?

Ok, so which pages are your Focus Pages?

Let’s put it this way; if there was a fire and there were only a few pages you could save, you’d instantly “run” towards a couple of your pages, that you desperately need to keep alive for your website (or business) to work. Those are it. Your Focus Pages.

Focus Pages are the most important pages on your site. 

They are your money-makers, four or five pages on your site you would want visitors who’ve never visited your WordPress website to see.

These are the pages you feel you must rank on the 1st Page of Google, the pages which help you earn customers, get partnerships, sell your products; whatever your goal is.

Of course, if this is the first time you’re hearing about such a concept, you should be spending some time to think about your end goal.

With most of the companies and entrepreneurs that I mentor, I do this exact thing: I ask them to take a step back and focus their minds on what they’re CURRENTLY trying to achieve.

Why? – Because your end goal might change from time to time.

Sometimes, you try to get more visibility. Sometimes you try to get more conversions. Sometimes you try to get more sales.

These goals are very different in nature and sometimes require different plans, different sets of steps to reach these goals.

Getting tens of thousands of visits doesn’t necessarily mean getting more sales.

Especially if you don’t have a sales funnel, you could write the best article in the world about Free-to-Play gaming (real example from a customer), get tens of thousands of views (both from SEO and Social Media) and still not be able to sell more of the games that your indie game dev studio creates.

So think about what you’re trying to achieve. What’s the GOAL? Why do SEO in the first place?

Do you have a purely SEO-based strategy, or is SEO just another marketing channel for you? Are you using cross-channel marketing?

Also, think about the natural ways in which you do business. Some companies use email-based sales funnels to convert website visitors into customers. Other companies just need people to find a page on Google and those people will instantly call these companies to buy services from them.

So this is something you should also take into account.

Don’t worry too much, though. Businesses are very fluid things. They are dynamic. They adapt. So you can start with a strategy and then re-adapt. Always try to experiment and make changes.

A few details about Focus Pages (they don’t need to meet all the following requirements, because these things can depend from goal to goal, business to business):

  • They are extremely well-written and are packed with insights that provide tremendous value to your audience. They are usually a deep-dive into a topic.
  • They reflect your business. In other words, they are relevant to your industry, niche and so on. If you have a site where you sell products, then it would make sense to make a Product Collection page one of your Focus Pages. For example, an Action Figures category from your e-commerce store. Other times it can be the page that makes your phone ring the most with hungry customers on the other end of the call.
  • They can be long-form posts which include insights and ideas which could serve as standalone blog articles. For instance, if you have a travel agency and you write a lot about travel tips and hacks, then one of your Focus Pages could be an in-depth resource for this topic which you could name The Ultimate Travel Hack Handbook for Smart Travelers. 
  • Content is original and exciting. They make visitors perceive you as an authority on the topics tackled in them.
  • They should sit on top of your site’s pyramid, as they are Pillar content. So other pieces of content should gravitate around your Focus Pages and link to them.
  • They can be Evergreen articles or pages, meaning the featured content is continually relevant, does not become dated and stays “fresh” for readers over an extended period of time.
  • They can be conversion-based pages like a page called Digital Marketing Strategy Examples, or Digital Marketing Strategy PDF, which would get people to subscribe via email to get the resource. Then a Sales Funnel would start working for you to convert your customer (either via salespeople, or simply automated sales). After the big conversion elements on top, the page could go into detail and have at least 1,500 words written, with an above 3 minutes average time on page.

The pages which can bring you the most conversions will usually be your focus pages. Unless your end goal is brand awareness. But most of the time, pages that have a solid chance of converting website visitors into leads are the ones that you want to focus on.

If your main plan is to get visitors to very specific pages around certain topics and then target them via Facebook pixel ads, then you just need to focus on getting the right people to that page, so that your FB ads will be super targeted.

Look, most of the content on your site won’t do a whole lot.

In fact, a limited number of pages are most likely responsible for more than half the amount of traffic you bring to your site. Yes, these few pages of content could make a significant impact on your site. These are high-opportunity pages you should focus on making the absolute best, as they are your most valuable SEO assets.

That’s why we named them Focus Pages in Squirrly SEO.

Already have a few pages in mind which could be your Focus Pages? Great! Then it will be easier for you to start working on them right away with Squirrly SEO.

Since these are the pages that will bring you the most results, we’re now presenting you a clear framework that will help you take these pages step by step to higher rankings. How high? As high as TOP 10 on Google.

Yes, work with the framework, adapt and re-adapt to turn these ranking factors to your favor, and you will win.

Is this is all new to you? Don’t worry; everything should become a lot clearer in the following lines.

How a Focus Pages Strategy Can Help Solve Common Pain Points

Let’s look at some of the problems you, alongside many other marketers and site owners, most likely face with SEO:

Problem: We create a lot of optimized content, but we still don’t manage to rank on Google for our targeted keywords.

Many marketers approach this wrong. Strangely enough, if a piece of content on their site underperforms, they go on to create larger volumes of the same underperforming content types. More often than not, they get the same unsatisfying results – but at a more significant cost.

It could only be remotely useful if you were trying to build up authority for a given set of keywords. But that would be it.

The solution to this common problem is NOT in the number of articles and pages you publish every week. The real answer lies in how you organize and develop your content strategies.

Those thin, low-value 400-word posts are likely to end up in the dark corners of Search Results, ranking for keywords that have nothing to do with your brand.

Also, if you’re writing a lot of articles on topics that are similar to one another, then you need to find a way to let Google know which one is the most important. Otherwise, your pages will end up competing against one another.

Having a Focus Pages strategy is the answer to all those problems. 

First off, it’s a way to tell Google which of your pages it should rank.

Also, when you have a top resource that is very well-documented and full of valuable insights, other sites will understandably be more inclined to link to it.  And it will be much easier to build authority, get backlinks and promote your pages on social media.

We’ve seen with our own agency that the client blog posts that got shared the most by influencers were the ultimate guides and the ultimate resources. It’s because they made the influencers sharing these articles look like they really know the best stuff on the market.

All of this will ultimately help you get your most important pages on the first page of Google.

Problem: I’ve done my keyword research, but I have no idea what to do next. 

Climbing to the top of the mountain seems impossible when there isn’t a clearly defined path, visible to guide you in the right direction.

Having Focus Pages solves that by providing direction, an action plan, somewhere to start. And it gives you guidance throughout your SEO endeavors. 

By having this kind of focus, you’ll stay on track with pursuing your goals. You can work on the needle-movers and not waste time and resources trying to pursue 100 different strategies or create content blindly.

Working on all your pages in your site AT ONCE is not an efficient way to work, nor one which will make an impact.

And, let’s face it, if you have a site which has a considerable amount of pages, it’s pretty much impossible to do so. Those who say they can work on more than 4-5 pages at once, either have found a way to clone themselves – or are merely NOT doing all the tasks they should be doing.

Work on a few pages at once, achieve success with them and then move on to the next batch of Focus Pages. It’s a lot more effective. It’s a process. It can be replicated.

You can work on a few pages and make them FLAWLESS. It’s doable and it’s enough.

Problem: We have no way of accurately measuring the results of the SEO content we create. 

Creating tons of content makes it hard to track the results of your efforts. But when you have just 4-5 pages to focus on, tracking becomes much easier and much more effective. And the data you will rely on to make strategy tweaks will be more accurate.

focus pages

The ABCs of Working on Your Focus Pages in Squirrly SEO

Focus Pages are essential for your strategy, so we knew we had to include this concept in our plugin (and in our software. Because from an architectural stand-point Squirrly SEO is a combination of cloud software and a WordPress plugin, “talking” through APIs).

As I’m sure you guessed from the name, the Focus Pages section in the plugin is entirely dedicated to helping you rank your most important pages on the 1st Page of Google. 

A lot of thought and effort went into shaping this section in a way that would ensure it’s super easy and clear for you to work on ranking your Focus Pages.

Ultimately, all that hard work led to a series of in-plugin elements that create an efficient workflow model that is all about Focus, Action, and Results.


  • Red elements. These are the issues that stand in the way of you getting to the top of Google. There are different tasks, each relevant to different factors that impact your chances of ranking – such as Content and Keywords. Squirrly checks your pages and if something is not right, it will be flagged using the color red. When you click on a red element, you’ll learn more about the problem we found and what tools and tactics (from Squirrly SEO) you can use to fix it. Once you start working on a task, Squirrly SEO checks to see if you’ve managed to fix the problem. Bear in mind that it takes a bit for the software to analyze the work you’ve done.

  • Green elements. These are your SEO wins, the things which help you achieve first page Google Rankings. Every time you manage to turn a Red light to Green, you #win. Every task you complete represents an SEO victory. The end goal is to turn everything you see in the Focus Pages section GREEN.

  • Chance to rank. Based on how many red elements are associated with your page, Squirrly SEO will show you how likely it is for that given page to rank on Google.

  • Must Fix. This is where you can see the number of tasks you need to fix right away to rank your pages.


Everything you find there is based on each focus page. Everything is personalized according to each individual case. Nothing is generic, nothing is one-size-fits-all.

That is the reason why Focus Pages is such an innovative approach. There is no software (other than Squirrly) available today to help give you specific tasks on a case by case basis.

We treat every single focus page with much care and importance.

You see, everything in the Focus Pages section is meant to help you easily identify the problems you should solve and actions you should take to go from Never Found to Always Found on search engines.

  • Work on specific SEO tasks that will move the needle and avoid wasting time on tasks that don’t influence your chances of ranking.
  • You can follow suggestions so you continue to tweak and improve your pages over time. Even if you do not see the results you want with a specific strategy, Squirrly helps you re-think your approach so you can find new paths towards SEO success.
  • See how your actions and the work you put into solving the tasks lead to improved rankings.

The way I see it; I’m not a chef, but if you give me all the ingredients and all the steps I need to follow, I can make a pretty fierce lasagna.

As the architect of your Focus Pages, you are in charge – but Squirrly SEO was built to help you every step of the way with this simple interface which makes it easy to work on the things which impact your rankings.

In conclusion

I hope this lesson has given you some new information for you to chew on and that it has helped you see your pages in a new light. And I hope you’re excited to start working on your pages.

So, get behind the wheel and start acting on this knowledge now.

Your goals for this lesson:

  • Identify potential Focus Pages in your site and add them to your Focus Pages section in Squirrly.
  • Study the tasks Squirrly SEO gives you to build pages that are so remarkable they dominate SERPs.

Critical Google Ranking Factors You Need to Know About

In the first lesson, we debunked some of the most common SEO expectations and we’ve also addressed a few important questions related to SEO that we’ve received over the years from our users.

Today, we want to dive deeper into the topic of SEO, so what better way to do it than to discuss the most important Google ranking factors, right?

If you’ve been asking yourself why your site is not ranking, then this course is for you.

By the end of it, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of what it takes to rank your site on the first page of Google.

What you’ll learn in today’s lesson:

  • What are the top 3 most important ranking factors
  • How to optimize your site in order to improve your chances of ranking

The Most Important Google Ranking Factors and How to Leverage Them

Google’s ranking factors have the purpose of making sure that website owners are doing their best to create an amazing user experience.

There are hundreds of factors included in Google’s algorithm, but we won’t discuss all of them.

The aspects we will talk about in this section are the most important ones that will help you get a better understanding of why you may or may not be ranking.

Let’s get right into it.

1. High-quality content

Even if you’re an SEO professional and have top ability and knowledge to rank any site on the first page of Google, you can’t do this without writing high-quality content.

Optimizing for search isn’t enough if you want people to love and stay on your website for more than a few seconds.

If people click the back button as soon as they landed on your site, this tells Google that your content is not that great so it will start decreasing its ranking.

Here are the main aspects to keep in mind when writing high-quality content:

  • Content length. As we’ve already mentioned in the previous lesson, for a post to rank on the first page, you need to write somewhere around 2.000 words. You can’t really put that much value into a blog post that has 500 words. So the more words your blog post has, the more value you can provide to your audience.
  • Good knowledge of the topic. When you know a lot about cars, then you can write a blog post on the topic that will resonate with people who are passionate about this. If you plan on writing about a topic that you know little about, then you won’t be able to create a powerful piece of content that people will love.
  • Content formatting. To make a post easier to scan and follow by your readers, it’s important to format your content. Here are some useful pointers you can use: add headlines and subheadings, make paragraphs short, bold words in areas where you want an idea to stand out, include bullet points where you can.
  • Add visuals. To make a post stand out and capture your audience’s interest for an extended period of time, you also need to include beautiful visuals, such as images, videos, or infographics. If you want to include only one type of visuals, then we recommend using at least 4-5 images in a 2.000-words blog post.
  • Include sources. This is especially important when you need to add stats in your post or you make claims that have to be backed up by previous research. By adding sources, you will also enforce credibility in your post. Squirrly’s Blogging Assistant helps with this.

High-quality content improves your Google ranking by increasing the time on page, lowering the bounce rate and making people visit other pages on the site.

If you have Google Analytics on your site, it will help Google accurately track these metrics for you.

Otherwise, the search engine is just “guessing” (for avoiding to get into technical details on how it uses big data to assess visits to a site, based on multiple entry and exit points).

Once you get Google Analytics inside, you should also add a plugin to your WordPress. It’s not made by us, but we’ve been using it since 2016. It’s called “Reduce Bounce Rate”.

This plugin will give accurate data to your Google Analytics tracker, by constantly pinging it for as long as the user is actually on your page.

Sometimes, the analytics tracker loses its connection (YES!!! happens more often than anyone would think) and this plugin tells analytics: “Hey, this user is still on the page :-) make sure you get that written down.”

You can search for it from your WordPress -> Plugins -> Add New interface.

To double-check that Reduce Bounce Rate offers quality, we’ve done experiments with Hotjar, and the same time reported by Hotjar is also reported in analytics after you install this free plugin.

This is especially useful if you will heed my advice and start creating longer-form content on your pages, product pages, and even blog posts.

The more time people spend on a particular page, the more it tells Google that page is valuable to users.

2. Backlinks

Backlinks are still to this day one of the top three ranking signals for Google. It’s important to earn backlinks from sites that have a high domain authority (DA) because this will help you increase yours as well.

Also, you want to focus on having many different sites linking back to you rather than having the same site linking over and over again.

The more sites will link back to you, the higher your authority score will go. With Google, it’s all about quality over quantity.

Simply put, if you have plenty of links from a single domain, then your rankings will not be impacted that much. If, however, you have multiple domains with a high DA linking to you, then this will increase your site’s authority and rankings overall.

To find out what’s your DA score and also the DA of the sites that linked back to you, we recommend using Moz Link Explorer. It’s a free tool that you can use to perform up to 10 website queries per month.

3. Organic click-through-rates

Getting more organic click-through-rates is easy – you only need to optimize your snippet.

The snippet from Squirrly SEO helps you make your WordPress pages insanely attractive to:

  • people searching on search engines;
  • people browsing feeds on social media;
  • search engine crawlers.

The snippet represents a huge opportunity for you because it’s your chance to convince people to click on your page instead of another result.

Yes! And it’s not all about SEO. People are more likely to click when they find your image in Facebook feeds – if your Snippet looks awesome.

You’ll get to make settings in the Snippet for SEO, Social Media and some pretty important ones for Search Bots. (search engine crawlers). For every single page on your site.

In case you managed to rank one of your pages on the first page of Google but you’re not getting enough traffic, then we recommend tweaking the meta description and making it more appealing to the audience you want to attract.

Then, wait a month and compare the results from analytics with the period before changing the snippet. This way, you can truly figure out which meta description is performing the best.

Besides optimizing it for humans, you also want to do it from a search perspective. This means that you should use the keyword you optimized for in the snippet as well.

Your result will stand out because the keyword you added is going to be shown in bold.

The more attractive your snippet is going to look, the more people will click on your page, which will tell Google that this result matches their search intent.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

In the Google ranking battle, what this means is that without high-quality content, you’ll never get links and people won’t spend time on your page. And without building quality backlinks, you won’t be able to get to the first page of search results.

That’s why these three ranking factors are so important – because they are interconnected and you can’t have one without the other.

As I’ve already mentioned in the beginning, Google takes into account more than 200 ranking factors when deciding which pages to display in search results and in what order.

Some carry more weight than others. This is why we want to talk about some other ranking factors that will remain important for at least a couple more years as well.

Disclaimer: not all of these have been confirmed by Google – the majority have been uncovered through experiments done by SEO experts. 

Google Ranking Factors That Matter Today

1. Mobile-friendliness

You probably already know that you need to have a mobile-friendly website, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat this information.

Mobile accounts for approximately half of the web traffic worldwide. This statistic shows just how crucial it is to have a mobile-friendly site that serves your audience.

Google actually recommends implementing responsive web design because it’s much easier for their algorithms to properly index those pages.

We live in the age of mobile-first indexing, which means that Google will predominantly index and rank your content according to the mobile version of your website.

To check whether your site is mobile-friendly and complies with Google’s guidelines, copy-paste the link below in a new tab and insert the URL you want to test:

2. Page speed

Page speed has been used as a ranking factor for desktop search since 2010. At the beginning of 2018, Google announced that starting with July, page speed became a ranking signal for mobile search as well.

While this ranking factor aims to target only the pages that load extremely slow, Google is trying to push developers and website owners to think more and more about the user experience.

We recommend using a tool from Google called PageSpeed Insights to analyze the performance of your pages and receive suggestions on what you need to improve.

3. SEO-friendly URLs

The longer your URL, the harder it’s going to be for Google to understand what your page is about.

This is why you need to make your URLs short and concise before publishing new pages. Try to not include more than five words in the URL.

Making your URLs SEO-friendly is extremely easy to do. You just need to edit the permalink field from the WordPress editor. Another recommendation would be to include the keyword you used to optimize your page in the URL.

4. Keyword in the title tag

The title tag is one of the most important on-page SEO factors. Usually, the closer your keyword is to the beginning of the title tag, the more chances you’ll have of ranking that page for the keyword you optimized for.

This not only helps search engines identify what your page is about but it also tells users that the information they’re looking for is on your site.

However, you may not always need to do this because, in some cases, it may not seem natural to add the exact same keyword at the beginning, which is why you can also add a term that’s similar to your main keyword.

This will work well because Google started using semantic search more and more.

Starting with January 2019, we’ve seen the search engine’s algorithm prefer exact match keywords more often. It’s the reason why in most cases SERP pages will be different when you search “premium wordpress themes”, rather than “wordpress themes premium”, or “wordpress premium themes”.

It depends on the supply (competition) it has for exact matching keyword content.

But if it has it and the page’s ranking factors are in tip-top shape, it will prefer the exact match, because it’s closer to the searcher’s heart.

5. Site architecture

Site architecture is strongly related to user experience and it can definitely impact your rankings.

Here are the two main advantages of having a good site architecture:

  • It helps users find what they’re looking for more easily because of the intuitive site navigation;
  • It helps search engines crawl more pages.

For the average site, it should take a user 3-4 clicks to find what they’re looking for. While this can’t be applied for larger sites, there are definitely ways to help users find what they want faster, such as internal linking.

We’ve seen users of Squirrly SEO who asked me about Website Architecture massively improve their rankings after they turned a no-architecture, five-page website into a really good, 20 pages website with strategic architecture.

That’s the only thing they changed and went from positions 20 or 30 to about 5 to 7 in Google Search. The content had been organized poorly. Once they did a better job at this, rankings came in.

Oh, yes: and one-page websites.

Don’t create one-pager websites. They are bad for SEO, for so many reasons. The biggest reason: Google prefers sites with multiple high-value pages of content.

6. Image optimization

Image-rich pages will help you generate more shares and page views. Aside from adding at least one relevant image in your posts and pages, you also need to optimize them.

Don’t worry – it’s extremely easy to do this.

You just need to make sure the file name and the alternative text contain the main keyword you optimized for. Google can’t “read” images so it’s important to tell the search engines what your images are about.

When adding the keyword in the alt text, you will make those images accessible in Google image search as well.

Wrapping Up Today’s Lesson

What we want you to understand after this lesson is the fact that SEO is a complex mechanism – it’s not hard, but it’s also not something to take lightly, especially if you want to rank on the first page.

All of these ranking factors we mentioned need to be intertwined so, in the end, you’ll have a higher chance of outranking your competition.

Your Goals for This Lesson

  • Decide on a topic for a long-form article (~2.000 words) that you plan on creating in the near future;
  • Use Moz Link Explorer to analyze your site’s DA and current backlinks;
  • Optimize the snippets for the most important pages on your site.

Google Ranking Factors

The Importance Of Setting Realistic SEO Expectations

“Why is my website not appearing in search results?”

“Why has my post not been ranked yet?”

“How long will it take to rank my site on the first page of Google?”

These are some of the common questions we received from Squirrly SEO users over the years; questions which made us realize that setting realistic SEO expectations is something that needs to be addressed. 

This course will help you understand the key concepts of building a winning SEO strategy.

This Lesson will tackle two main areas:

  • Debunking common SEO expectations;
  • The importance of having a long-term SEO strategy in place.

By the end of it, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of how SEO and Google work.

Common SEO Expectations Debunked

For the longest time, website owners have been spammed by emails in which they were promised first page rankings in a few days at outrageous costs.

Because of this outreach technique, a few things happened:

  • SEOs were given a negative reputation in the industry, which means that legit SEO specialists had a much harder time landing new clients;
  • Website owners demanded and expected faster and better results from their SEO team;
  • People’s expectations when it comes to SEO took the wrong turn because blackhat SEO techniques made it possible to rank a site on the first page of Google quite easily – although this apparent success was short-lived.

Even now, there’s still a lot of confusion regarding how website owners can make their sites visible on Google.

Our purpose is to separate fact from fiction through this course and educate as many people as possible so that everyone can start their SEO journey with the proper mindset.

We chose the questions that kept repeating themselves over the years as our base for the topic of today’s course: setting realistic SEO expectations.

So fasten your seat belt. This Course is about to get real and bumpy.

1. “Why is my website not appearing in search results?”

This is one of those questions that we can only guess the answer to. When we’re confronted with it, there are so many possible scenarios going through our heads as to why a user’s site is not appearing in search results.

The only logical answer we can come up with is actually a series of questions that can help users figure out the issue themselves.

In these types of situations, there are a lot of aspects we don’t know in terms of what the person has been doing with their site, which means that it’s practically impossible to give a straight answer.

REMEMBER: there over 200 reasons why Google could decide NOT to rank your page.

Here are the most common scenarios we will suggest:

  • Google doesn’t know your site exists. When your site goes live, this doesn’t mean that Google is going to crawl it automatically – you need to let the search engine know that it can crawl your site.
  • The site has not been indexed by Google just yet. It can take a week or more for the search engine to update its results, especially if the site is new.
  • The site has not been optimized for search engines. Installing an SEO plugin (regardless of what you choose, and regardless of CMS) doesn’t guarantee the fact that you will show up on Google – unless you optimize the content that’s on the site. Fact: the majority of people that had this issue didn’t even have the settings in Squirrly turned on, let alone optimized content on the site.
  • The site is optimized for extremely competitive keywords, which will make it almost impossible for the site to get found in search.
  • The website has “no index” tags. It happens more often than people would like to admit.
  • The website has been penalized and removed from Google. Google may do this (permanently or temporarily) if the site is not meeting the quality guidelines.

The SEO expectation that leads to this type of question: installing an SEO plugin will fix a site’s visibility issues.

The reality: an SEO plugin won’t make a site visible in SERP until the root problem is fixed. That’s why in Squirrly SEO 2019 you get the Audit feature AND the Focus Pages feature.

Without fixing the root of the problem you can buy all the software in the world and it will not make a difference.

If you are currently dealing with this type of issue, here’s what you should do:

  • Create a sitemap. Google crawls sitemaps to grab new content and display it in search engine results – that’s why you need to ensure your site has one. You can easily do this with Squirrly by activating the sitemap setting, in case you haven’t done this already.
  • Submit your site to Google Search Console. You want Google to know about your site? Then do this as well.
  • Look at the indexability tasks inside Focus Pages (more about this in Lesson 3 from this course)

2. “Why has my post not been ranked yet?”

As you already know, the Squirrly SEO live assistant helps you fully optimize any post type, whether it’s an article, a product page, or a landing page, for both humans and search engines.

So it almost makes sense for Squirrly users to ask us why their fully optimized post is not appearing in search results.

However, there is a but.

The main SEO expectation, in this case, is that people think SEO will help them rank for any keyword, even for general or popular terms, such as “online marketing”. General keywords have a high search volume, which makes them desirable to rank for.

The reality is that, if a site doesn’t already have authority in that particular industry, it will be impossible for them to rank for a highly competitive keyword.

The second expectation is the one where Google should simply display a page in search results after it has been optimized.

The reality is that Google has no reason for showing a page that people are not interested in seeing. Before doing this, the search engine needs to pick up signals that tell them internet users are actually visiting and reading the content that’s on that page.

When someone asked us this question a while back, we did a couple of basic things:

  • We looked at the number of social shares for the page that wasn’t ranking (by simply using a tool such as SharedCount);
  • We looked at the authority of the user’s site (using Moz).

Our 2-minute research revealed the fact that the page which was not yet ranked had zero social shares and the site’s authority was extremely low (DA was 10).

So in this case, it makes sense to ask: why would Google want to rank a page that people don’t care about?

If Google would display results that are irrelevant to a certain query, then it will ruin the user experience and people will end up not using the Google platform anymore.

The bottom line is that Google will rank posts that provide value to its users, which is why it’s not enough to simply hit Publish and wait for your post to be ranked.

The easiest things you can do:

  • once you publish your article, send it to your mailing list.
  • use a tool like Squirrly Social to publish it to your social media accounts.
  • make sure you ask Google Search Console to index the updated version of the page.

3. “How long will it take to rank my site on the first page?”

Spoiler: nobody actually knows the answer.

This is probably the most common question people ask when it comes to SEO.

SEO is not a sprint, nor a one-time ride.

It’s a long-term process that you truly need to be engaged in to succeed and achieve the results you want, namely rank on the 1st page of Google.

Oftentimes, the reason why people have unrealistic expectations about SEO is that they don’t understand how SEO works or how Google decides to rank pages.

We’re here to provide you with a more comprehensive view of the topic.

Now, it’s nearly impossible to give a straightforward answer to the question above, and anyone who can promise you specific results by a certain date without looking at your site is most certainly making false promises.

The SEO expectation revolving this question is the fact that there’s a specific time frame in which any site can rank on the first page of Google.

The reality is that this is merely a myth.

I’m going to break down for you a few important factors that will determine whether you have a chance of ranking on the first page or not:

  • Keyword competition. As I’ve already mentioned a little bit earlier, optimizing a page for a highly competitive keyword will not help you rank on the first page, no matter how much you optimize it.
  • Keyword SEO search volume. Competition is not the only aspect to consider when choosing a keyword – the search volume is important as well. Why? Because it’s a waste of time to optimize for a term that nobody searches for.
  • Meta description. By optimizing the meta description and title for your pages, you will not only avoid duplicate metas but this will also help you improve the click-through-rate. The more people click on your page, the higher the chances for your site to improve its position and rank on the first page.
  • Content promotion. Social signals are a massive Google ranking factor so it’s essential to use social media platforms to get the word out about your new post.
  • Quality backlinks. Nowadays, it’s all about having quality backlinks, and not plenty of sites with low authority linking back to you. The more quality sites link back to you, the more popular your site will become in the eyes of Google.
  • Domain authority. Sites that have a high DA are more likely to be ranked by Google on the first pages because the search engine will already know that people love that site. When you’re just getting started, your DA will be quite low and you’ll need to attract a lot of signals that show Google you publish quality content that people love.
  • Publishing frequency. A few years ago, you needed to blog several times per week to increase the visibility of your site in the eyes of Google. Nowadays, businesses don’t blog as often but it still remained an important online marketing activity. Why? Because Google is more likely to rank pages, not the homepage. Think about it – you don’t have that many words on your homepage, do you? This brings me to the next point.
  • Content length. According to Neil Patel, “The average page that is listed on page one of Google has 1,890 words”, so bear this fact in mind next time you start writing a new blog post. Content length also helps with increasing time on-page. That’s because the more content you have, the more time people are going to spend on your site. (in case you manage to grab their attention)

Having a Proper Strategy Can Help with Setting Realistic SEO Expectations

If you’re looking for a shortcut AND want to rank on the first page of Google in the long-term, you should know this: you need to choose one OR the other.

It’s never going to be both.

Sure, there are hacks you can use to rank your site fast on the first page in case you have a good DA. But if you’re lacking a proper strategy, then you won’t appear on the first page for more than a few days.

So then, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it.

The key to scaling your business and appearing on the first page of search results consistently is implementing a solid strategy year after year.

A common misconception people have is that once they are #1 on Google, they no longer need SEO.

It’s like saying once you have lost weight and you reached your fitness goal, you no longer need to exercise and eat properly.


Once you reach the top places in Google, you need to shift your strategy and think about what you need to do to stay there.

What I’m trying to say is that if you approach SEO as a long-term battle, then your mind will be in the right place.

Having a strategy is the key to sustainable SEO.

We can’t tell you how long it’s going to take for you to rank at the top but we can tell you how to get there: by thinking about the user.

Google will always place the search results that are relevant to the user at the top.

Once you understand this, you will become invincible. In further lessons, you will learn that this was not a vague paragraph. The search engine looks at many parameters to establish the experience you provide for your users.  The next lessons will help you figure it out.

Your Goals for This Lesson

Now that this lesson has come to an end, it’s time to wrap up everything by giving you three small tasks to implement until you read the next lesson:

  • Write down your main SEO expectations;
  • Set 3 realistic objectives when it comes to SEO for your site;
  • Identity 3 important pages on your site that you want to start working on.

Setting Realistic SEO Expectations