• Matthew Hood

SEO: the 80/20 principle of search engine optimisation

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

SEO scares the shit out of me.

There's a million and one different things that impact your ranking.

But I think there are some best practices that can have a big impact on your results.

Rather than paying hundreds and thousands of dollars a month for a pro to do it, you can wrap your head around the 20% of SEO best practices that deliver 80% of the results (see Pareto's law).

In this article, I'm going to spell out exactly what you need to be doing to get these SEO results without getting overwhelmed.

What is SEO?

It stands for Search Engine Optimisation. And it's all about ranking higher in organic search engine results like Google.

There are hundreds of factors that influence where you rank on Google.

But this article is about focussing on the critical strategies that are going to get you 80% of the rewards for 20% of the effort.

Let's break it down.

1. Optimise your website

2. Create amazing content

3. Get high quality backlinks

Firstly, we need to set up your website to make sure it's well structured and Google friendly. Then we'll focus on creating amazing content and getting heaps of high quality backlinks to each piece of content.

1. Optimising your website

There are hundreds of ways to improve your on-site SEO. These are the most effective.

Connect to Google Search Console

Google is the most popular search engine with 90% market share on mobile devices.

Connect your website to Google Search Console so you can get your content on Google, optimise your content with analytics, get notified about issues to fix and understand how Google search sees your page.

If you have a Wix website, this is set up within the platform.

Register for Google My Business

It's a free business profile that comes up when someone searches your business on Search and Maps.

Add all your important business info to keep customers in the know.

Follow these steps to create a GMB account without a physical address.

Even if your business doesn't have a physical address, you can still register with Google My Business.

Optimise your above-the-fold

Above-the-fold is what people see when they first land on your page without scrolling or clicking anything.

It has to be visually appealing as well sticking to the 5 second rule. Within 5 seconds of landing on your site, can someone tell what it is about? Read more about it here.

Successfully making your above the fold look amazing as well as communicating exactly how you can help someone will take care of one important SEO factor - long session duration i.e. a visitor will spend longer on your website because it has visual appeal and immediately tells someone how you can help them. So they won't be hitting the back button straight away.

CTA in above-the-fold

Include a call to action button in your above the fold to navigate users to where you want them. This is ideally another page of your site.

This will ensure you have a low bounce rate, another important SEO factor.

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who navigate away from your site after only viewing one page. So we want to keep that low by having a great looking site with a call to action above-the-fold.

Fast website load time

Make sure your site loads quickly to avoid a high bounce rate and short session duration.

There's nothing worse than waiting for a page to load. We're impatient and we have shit to do.

Use the free Google load speed tool and follow the recommendations.

Other ways to improve load time are to convert your images to jpg, compress images (Wix does this automatically for you) and use minimal website apps and plugins.

Website responsiveness

Make sure your site is optimised for tablet and mobile.

A sexy desktop site that looks like junk on an iPhone isn't going to do you any favours when majority of people are visiting your site on a smartphone.

Header tags

Humans notice titles before paragraphs, which brings order to how we read and organise information in our heads.

Search bots crawling through your website do the same thing.

Google bots read header tags <h1> to <h6> in decreasing order of importance.

Make sure you have a <h1> tag with the most important information i.e. what that page is about.

Alt tags

Your website photos can be great to look at as well as functional.

An alt tag attribute is a text alternative of the photo for search engines.

Most website building platforms make it really straightforward to add alt tags to your images.


Keywords are the specific words, phrases and questions someone will type into Google for your website to appear in the rankings.

Optimising your site for the right keywords is critical for SEO success.

In my eyes, there are two options for your keywords to avoid competition from millions of people and the fat cat corporates with deep pockets to pour into SEO.

  1. Owning your own word Before you waste your time competing for common keywords like "best house cleaning sydney", consider owning your own word. The reality is generic search terms are so competitive,  you're not going to rank well for them. Your much more likely to find our website searching "Banni Digital" than "best website design".  If you are creating something that is truly special, that is solving a genuine problem for people in a great way, people will start searching for your word. The hard part is doing this for long enough that your word becomes the shortcut to getting found. Because it's more effective to seek being found by someone who is already looking for you.

  2. Long tail keywords Target more niche demographics with specific words and phrases about what you do. To brainstorm long tail keywords, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and brainstorm a list of search phrases or keywords they would use to find your business. Make sure you are specific. Think "one on one photography lessons for beginners in Sydney" rather than photography lesson Sydney". Tip: Use Google suggestions to help you. When you type in "photography lessons", Google suggests "photography lessons for beginners", then "photography lessons for beginners youtube", then "photography tutorials for beginners youtube".

2. Create amazing content

Content is the key to ranking well in search engines.

Content is great because it can also serve other purposes outside of SEO like positioning yourself as an expert in your niche.

Bill Gates predicted the importance of content back in 1996.

"Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet..."

Bill Gates in Jan 1996

And he was spot on.

High quality content with lots of great backlinks pointing to your content is going to get your stuff ranking high on Google (and other search engine) searches, so your business can get found and you can make more sales.

How do you create amazing content?

  1. Write down everything you know about a topic. For this post I wrote down all the strategies I knew about optimising your website for SEO, how to create the best content and how to get backlinks. This was the structure I wanted to write the article in to simplify the SEO process for readers.

  2. Use BuzzSumo or industry experts to find popular articles on your topic. For this article I knew who took look for... I searched SEO articles from Neil Patel, Noah Kagan and Brian Dean.

  3. Fill out your list with everything you missed. I added lots I missed to my original notes and began writing the article.

  4. Make the best content on the topic ever created. Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko refers to this as the Skyscraper technique - no one cares what the 12th or 20th tallest building in the world is, they want to know the tallest is... what the best is... so make your content the tallest building - what people are looking for. My goal for this post was to give business owners the best simplified understanding of SEO practices and how to see good results from a minimal amount of SEO work and stress.

In short, you want to find the best article on a topic and make it longer or more detailed or better written or better in any way you can.

For every piece of content you make, you have to be thinking, "this is gonna be the best thing that comes out today", and it takes time to create that....

Brian Dean spends 25 hours writing his articles.

Quality over quantity.

3. Get high quality backlinks

How do I know backlinks are important? Cause Google said so.

I can tell you what they [the top ranking factors] are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site”.

Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist, Google

There are 3 super effective ways to do get high quality links pointing to your site.

Reach out

Reach out to people who have linked to the articles you used to create your superior content and tell them how you made the best bit of content on the topic.

You can use paid tools such as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer to find all the links pointing to the content you used to help build your superior article. FYI these are all paid tools. Free backlinking techniques later...

If you use one of these tools, export the list and delete any websites that are forums or website directories etc.

Then reach out via email to your remaining prospects. Brian Dean used the following template and had an 11% success rate.

Considering this is a cold email, an 11% success rate to getting a backlink is outstanding.

This is exactly what SEO Link Builder Julian Goldie did to get this backlink! It links to his SEO video: Link Building in 2020 - Do Backlinks Still Work?, which is worth a watch if you want a deeper dive.


Many websites have testimonials on their homepage or a separate testimonial page.

Often times, these testimonials with be linked to the person or business who gave the review.

This is a great way to get links from high authority websites.

To do this, find websites in your niche who have linked testimonials on their website.

If you can, try a free version of their product and write a testimonial for them. You could also use their content and write a case studies on your results using their information.

E.g. If there's a website that has linked testimonials and have written a blog post about growing your Instagram following, follow the steps and write a case study about your results growing your Instagram following using the steps.

Blogger reviews

Find bloggers in your niche and reach out to them offering them your free product / trial / service.

This is more commonly done with physical products, however can be just as effective with services.

E.g. A popular blogger about the Keto diet would love to try your healthy Keto almond protein balls. Or as a hairdresser you could reach out to local lifestyle bloggers offering them free haircuts.

The wrap

I'm trying to alleviate some SEO headaches and simplify what is a seemingly complex topic.

If you follow these 3 steps, you can get big SEO results from minimal work.

1. Optimise your website

2. Create amazing content

3. Get high quality backlinks

Big SEO results mean high page rankings on search engines like Google. High rankings means more traffic and more sales.

Good luck!

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