I was a strange child. I always seemed to do things a bit differently than the other kids. The habit stuck.
I use four fingers to hold a pen. I’m right-handed but left-legged. I never wear underwear. You should see the process I use to tie my shoes.
Needless to say, I’ve always been fascinated with the various ways we can solve the same problems. In my own SEO business, I spend a majority of my time testing. What I’ve found is there is no cookie-cutter blueprint for success in SEO. It’s always going to depend on your particular situation, skill set, and resources.
I appreciate SEOs who can think outside-the-box; clever folk that use their intuition and do things a bit differently, allowing them to get some amazing results. I’d like to introduce you to three of them.
Jacob Kettner – Using Sub-domains for Risk-Free Authority Building
I met Jacob a few months ago. He’s a really bright SEO and is a perfectionist in his work. I helped him audit one of his sites and found nothing wrong with his SEO plan. That happens pretty much never. The subdomain technique he uses is a clever way to build up authority, yet at the same time, reducing penalty risk.
Name: Jacob Kettner
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Matt: When did you get into SEO and how?
Jacob: I got into internet marketing at the age of around 16. I tried a lot of “loophole” tactics off Digital Point and Warrior Forum and made enough cash to keep me in the game. I ran a business dropshipping customized products on eBay for years. Despite my many years of internet marketing experience, I had virtually no knowledge of SEO and hired 3 different SEO firms before deciding to learn how to do it myself.
Eventually I sold off my site and used the capital to start a client SEO business in the fall of 2014. In the following year I learned a lot and scaled from nothing to a low 6 figure per year business.
Matt: Tell us about the sub-domain authority boosting technique
Jacob: Juicing up subdomains helps increase DA quickly without risking your money site. The theory comes from looking at Web 2.0 sites like WordPress, Tumblr etc. It’s a well-known SEO concept that subdomains on these strong properties will rank more quickly and have a higher tolerance for abuse than a fresh domain.
Hold on a second though… How did these sites get so powerful? Was it from high quality content and powerful links linking to the main domain? Let’s look at majestic stats. The URL metrics for https://www.tumblr.com/ are TF88 CF83 RD 27,112 and Backlinks 4,337,075. So yes, I’m not denying that this is a very strong site. But let’s look at the majestic metrics for the root domain tubmlr.com… TF92 CF93 RD 2,061,256 Backlinks 30,957,773,997. To be clear this site has over 30 BILLION backlinks going to it.
Although Tumblr in of itself has a lot of power on its main URL, a LARGE amount of power that the domain holds only 1.4% of the referring domains going to the site go to the main page. The bulk of the referring links go to its sub-domains.
My conclusion is that this is a two-way street. Tumblr’s power helps parasite subdomains rank, but also the subdomains give back DA to the main domain.
Matt: Practically, how do you juice up your sub-domains?
Jacob: Here are a couple of models that I’ve used:
- Create subdomain EMD then build an auto video blog and leave it alone (maybe send some social signals).
- Create a subdomain EMD and send high authority links at it (this is a good place to test Fiverr gigs). Shitty PBN links will work fine here, as well. No need to waste the good stuff on this.
I’m not advocating for sending thousands of GSA links at a money site subdomain, but you can definitely afford to be a little bit more aggressive than you would to the main domain. Keep in mind the purpose of the subdomain isn’t necessarily to rank. It’s just to add authority to the overall domain. I’ve also done this with auto video blogs and no links just to increase page count and fresh content on the domain.
(Note: I don’t link from these subdomains to my main site.)
Matt: What are the biggest accomplishments you’ve been able to attain from using this technique?
Jacob: I’ve ranked for a competitive local term with this method and just three PBN links.
Matt: Nicely done. Got any advice for other SEOsS, newcomers and experts alike?
Jacob: Take action and test stuff. Foundations and principles last forever. Tactics and loopholes die as soon as they go public. If you like tactics and loopholes, test stuff yourself and use it before it gets ruined. I’m sharing this one because it’s particularly hard for Google to address it, given the parallel between this and major Web 2.0 sites.
To learn more about Jacob and his case studies, be sure to check out his agency at First Rank.
Daniel Moscovitch – Slick Client Getting Tactics
If you’re doing client SEO, you’ve likely run into the same problem everyone else does. Most businesses don’t trust SEOs. Daniel solves this problem by simply rewording his sales copy and avoiding the conversations that would be in the typical SEO sales pitch.
Name: Daniel Moscovitch
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Matt: When did you get into SEO and how?
Daniel: 2.5 years ago (just after the first Penguin update). I started off as a whitehat link builder at a really awesome online marketing agency here in Tel Aviv and just exploded from there.
Matt: Tell us about your client getting technique.
Daniel: Let’s face it. SEO has a bad name. This is totally understandable due to the sheer number of businesses out there who have just gotten screwed by the so called SEO “experts” out there. These ‘experts’ often use outdated tactics, undercharge and under-deliver on their promises, and businesses are fed up (and I DON’T BLAME THEM!). That is why I have had success as of late by taking the focus away from SEO, a ‘dirty’ word, and talking instead about online visibility, creating an online brand, and making websites more powerful and more Google friendly.
The word “SEO” has somewhat been tainted and is often really hard to understand what it actually is. That is why I always like to start describing my services with words like “improving your site’s power and authority”, “increasing website visibility” and “connecting you with more customers online”; “increased rankings”. Of course, there is no hiding that what we do is SEO, but this way I don’t scare prospects off right away and can slowly develop a relationship that shows the value that I provide as opposed to selling them on SEO right off the bat.
I also like to make sure that the focus is NOT on what WE will do, but rather what THEY will gain from working with us. Most business owners want to stop worrying about having to actively search for clients, and prefer to stick to what they know and love. On every proposal we send out, we make sure that it includes that sentiment.
On top of that, we have experimented recently on not locking clients into any long term obligation, but rather starting off with a small proof of concept. So far, 100% of our clients who have started with this, have gone on to continue with us long term and for more money.
SEO can be difficult enough as is. When you add selling it to potential clients, you have to make it as easy and beneficial to them as possible. That is why it is important to focus on what THEY have to gain, start small, gain their trust and go from there.
Matt: In ROI, what has this change in marketing achieved for your agency?
Daniel: In the past 2 months alone, we have increased our monthly earnings by $5K by just switching the focus of our pitch and changing our proposals around.
Matt: Any newbie advice for upcoming SEOs?
Daniel: Never get discouraged, never stop learning, and embrace the confusion!
To learn more about Daniel and his agency, check them out at MoreHotLeads.com.
Michael Landau-Spiers – Smart Keyword Research to Break into a Huge Affiliate Niche
Michael is my favorite SEO success story of last year. With only a year’s experience in SEO, he found a way to break into one of the most competitive affiliate niches (I’m in it myself). Instead of going for the super high volume keywords like most SEO’s would (including myself), he broke down the niche and found keywords that we’re easily attainable, yet still very profitable. When the timing was right, he cashed out on a huge flip.
Name: Michael Landau-Spiers
Location: United Kingdom
Matt: When did you get into SEO and how?
Michael: I got into SEO around February 2014, as a guy on his gap year trying to find a way to make money online. I’d messed around with some Warrior Forum stuff, and then joined an SEO course costing $1000! The most I’d ever spent. It was a good foundation for a lot of things and the first step on my SEO journey.
Matt: Tell us about the site you flipped.
Michael: This site, as everyone always asks, is in a very competitive health niche. It was monetized with CPA “free trial” offers. The offers and the style of the site (one quite helpful and personal, in a sea of spammy sites) played a part, but I think the key to its success was finding great, off-the-radar KWs which converted easily.
Originally, I was targeting KWs which I just couldn’t rank for. Perhaps because they were too competitive, or my links weren’t strong enough, or even (as I later discovered how to check) that I’d unwittingly bought an expired domain as a money site which had an existing, possibly negative profile attached to it.
As I said, the success began when I shifted my focus away from the overly broad, “competitive” KWs. I saw I was getting some tiny traffic and rankings on some pages incidentally, so I began pouring over Webmaster Tools while checking the SERPs. I decided to switch to a few different KWs, one of which netted me up to $50,000 by itself. Everything started to snowball once I had some more decent rankings and traffic coming in from these lower competition KWs.
Matt: What made you decide to flip your site?
Michael: Finally, a year later, I decided to sell the site on Empire Flippers. It was a decision I thought long and hard about, and asked for a LOT of advice from many different experienced people I was lucky enough to know. From what I told them, they basically all agreed I should sell.
Why you ask? Matt knows this niche. It’s a volatile one, and I’d had a few scares where the offer was “capped” for long periods (CPA offers have a daily capacity they can fill, so if big affiliates swoop in and use it up, there’s none left for us). Despite seeing more potential in the site, because it was such a large part of my income, I thought I’d be more upset if I kept it and it crashed than if I sold and it kept doing well.
Matt: Good move. How much did you cash out for?
Michael: Eventually, I sold my site for six figures. That, along with what it earned me each month, it made nearly a half million.
Matt: Congrats on the huge win. Got any advice for the readers?
Michael: My advice for any aspiring affiliates is to focus on research. The KWs and offers you choose, will determine the success of your site 80%, unless you’re a great SEO and can brute force your way to mega KWs. Focus on KW research, spend most of your time there and it will pay off down the road. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes much easier rooting out good KWs quickly.
This is an awesome article. Michael’s story is especially inspiring. What keyword tools would you recommend for longtail keyword research (besides Google KW Planner and WMT)?
Thanks for mentioning the things As they are. I will definitely try the tactics Jacob Kettner is using the Powerup his sites. A big congrats to Michael Landau, your story is very very inspirational. Waiting for SEO Spotlight round 2 🙂
Great share. Just a quick one and will start by saying great sharing but my question is on Jacobs approach and what is the intention as a little confused on it :-
1) is he looking to rank his subdomain as a parasite in Google with call to actions on there (so basically treat them as money site)
2) if not how is this powering up his money site (if he does not link to his main site)
Can you elaborate little bit more on this matey?
The subdomains are simply connected by their root URL. No linking. Jucing up one, juices up the other. No need to rank the subdomain or even optimize it that well.
Hi Matt, awesome share! Got a quick question about Jacob’s tactic, as I’m not sure on how to build auto video blogs. Does he mean by rss or is there another tactic?
I like vkrakken but it’s $100 and there are other options I haven’t tried.
What is vkrakken exactly? I can’t find any infos about in Google.
Do you have a link?
Thx and best regards, Leo
Awesome article, especially Jacobs approach which makes sense. Also not complete share 😀
How about indexing the content on that subdomain. I mean is it ok if you add the subdomain in google webmaster tools? Also he mentioned just videos, how about actual content?
I haven’t tested it with content, and I’ve never found a need for indexing (I do include a site map) but I encourage you to test it out. I prefer video because it’s “natural” duplicate content and google loves YouTube, but rss with attribution links may also be effective.
Jacob, did you only try the video auto blog with local sites? Or did you try it with affiliate as well?
Thanks for share. For “Sub-domains for Risk-Free Authority Building”, basically he is increasing PA/DA/TF by 1) creating various sub-domains on his money site 2) use auto-blog plugin to keep creating pages 3) Send various links/PBNs to all his sub-domains 4) Juice will flow from sub-domain to his main site Right?
Yep… You’ve got it!
I wish Jacob had explained his technique with an example on how to go about it…kinda got lost in how he was getting his technique to work! The technical bit
If you understand the “why” you’ll figure out the “how.” Once I get my blog up I might do a video on it that goes into more detail.
Nice interviews Matt! I particularly enjoyed what Daniel had to say about focusing the client’s attention branding their online presence and increasing their visibility on the web.
The one thing I wish all SEOs could do is sell well and provide (at the very least) good value. I gave you post a FB like and G+ like too! ^_^
Glad you enjoyed the article.
where is the link to download the free onsite seo guide?
doesn’t seem to be anywhere i have looked
You’re probably viewing the site with a browser that is blocking Aweber code. Please try another browser.
Matt or Jacob if I had to set the auto video subdomain with my exact match keyword to noindex (Discourage search engines from indexing this site option in WP) would that be ok for hiding what I’m doing, but still not losing out on the link juice/authority stacking?
Hi Gary. You won’t receive any benefit from the subdomain if you set it like this.
Thanks for clearing that up Matt. I setup a video autoblog using an exact match keyword on a sub. G has indexed all the posts 50+ without me doing a thing within 2 days.
Is one of the key elements here to build a sub with a keyword you want to rank for (reading Jacob say subdomain EMD) and curate content on to it and throw link juice at that sub? I’m trying to find out if having a subdomain with the target keyword phrase and a page on the www main site that I’m trying to rank would be harmful to that page, but still pass authority to the domain? I don’t want the sub to out rank the page.
Thats the idea. Don’t worry about outranking your landing page. I highly doubt an autoblog is going to pull that off.
Thanks Matt – really appreciate the feedback 🙂
Still a little confused about Jacob’s strategy of hitting the sub-domains with auto video posts. Isn’t this strategy frowned upon by Google because you are essentially copying and pasting content + pages with video only would be thin content pages. Apologies just can’t get my head around content curation especially after Panda.