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How We Outranked Home Depot for the #1 Position

Early in 2020, Renogy approached Tuff to handle all of their SEO needs for their US and international websites. 

Tuff had previously been creating blog content for Renogy’s US website but was not managing technical SEO or anything else.

We analyzed all of their existing websites and put together a comprehensive SEO strategy to increase organic traffic and revenue. This is how we did it.

Technical SEO

When we first took over SEO implementation for all of Renogy’s international sites nobody had previously been maintaining their technical SEO. With that being said, it’s no surprise that there were quite a few errors that needed to be addressed.

This isn’t to say that the websites were in bad shape, they just weren’t SEO-optimized and there’s a big difference. So our first step was to make sure that all the international websites were SEO-optimized. This is how we did it…

International SEO (hreflang tags)

The first issue to tackle was the hreflang tags, and Renogy had about 16,000 of them. 

If you have multiple versions of a page for different languages or regions, hreflang tags are a way to tell Google about these variations. 

For instance, you may have a US and UK website and they’re both in English but one is in US English and one is in British English. Aside from having two different URLs – either uk.domain, domain.uk, or domain.com/uk – we need to specifically tell Google about the language differences.

The same goes for international versions with completely different languages such as German, French, or Chinese, etc.,

Some of the most common hreflang tag errors are:

  1. Not having any hreflang tags
  2. Having incorrect hreflang tags (Ex. having your French tags on your German site)
  3. Hreflang tags being incorrectly coded
  4. No self-referencing hreflang tags

The most common issue is not having any self-referencing hreflang tags, and that’s the issue that we were dealing with on Renogy’s websites. Fortunately, this can be solved programmatically so it’s not extremely time-consuming to fix all 16,000+ errors.

Meta Descriptions

Once the hreflang tags were fixed, one of the most common technical SEO errors across all websites has to do with meta descriptions. Whether it be missing or duplicate meta descriptions, this is something that commonly goes unnoticed.

Sometimes these fixes can be done programmatically by pulling the first sentence on the page and setting it as the meta description but for a variety of reasons, this wasn’t possible for Renogy. One of those reasons is that their website is hosted on Big Commerce and this makes it more difficult. Another reason is that the first sentence wasn’t ideal for a meta description.

So long story short, I began manually fixing and creating hundreds of meta descriptions so that there weren’t duplicate or missing meta descriptions across all of their international websites. 

Internal Linking & Broken Internal Links

Internal links are a very important part of technical SEO, whether it be improving the internal linking throughout the website or fixing the broken links. We did both, starting with the broken links. 

Having broken internal links on your website is another common SEO issue that can not only harm your organic performance but also your user experience and revenue. 

When fixing the broken links, my initial focus was on top-performing product pages to make sure we weren’t losing revenue due to users not being able to purchase the product. 

This is another manual fix so some of it was done in unison with the meta description fixes since I was already going through the pages manually.

No-indexing Pages

It’s important to remove low-quality pages from Google’s search engine. 

Most of us have a habit of wanting all pages to be indexed in Google and I understand it. But when we think about how Google ranks a website, it doesn’t make sense to have our blog tag archives, author archive pages, and other similar pages indexed in Google, for a few reasons. 

  1. When you search for something in Google, you are presented with its search engine results page (SERP) and for that reason, Google doesn’t like to direct traffic to another SERP, even if it’s your own website’s SERP. 
  2. This typically isn’t a good user experience. If someone is searching for 
  3. For these reasons, Google won’t rank these pages very well and if you have a lot of low-quality pages, it will eventually harm your whole website.

For these reasons, we no-indexed any low-quality archive pages that were on the Renogy website. 

Content Creation

Now that the technical SEO is all done, let’s talk about the SEO content strategy and content creation that we executed. 

We began by creating a few pillar pieces of content that we could build a cluster strategy around. We defined a few high-traffic keywords that were essential to the business and created high-quality content around those topics. These pieces of content live at the top of the Renogy blog. 

We then created 3 to 4 pieces of related content that we used to link to these hub pages as well as internally linked dozens of existing content.

Aside from the hub pages, we consistently produce one new blog post each week for each of Renogy’s website properties. 

The other main piece of content that we created was what we refer to as customer service content.

E-commerce Customer Service Content

E-commerce Customer Service Content is essentially FAQ data that is specific to the page that it is on. Not only is it helpful for SEO, but it’s also helpful for the user experience. 

You can find this content on all the major ecommerce websites. 

Ex. Amazon

Ex. Best Buy

Renogy was missing this content on their core category solar panel listing pages, including their solar panel kits listing page, and by adding it, it helped us increase organic rankings of these pages and in return, drive more sales.

We’ve seen the most significant organic improvements to the pages that we added this customer service content to.

Results

After all of these improvements and about 6 months’ time, we are ranking #1 in Google for ‘solar panel kits’ – outranking Amazon and Home Depot when we previously weren’t ranking in the top 100. We also rank #4 for ‘solar kit’ when we previously weren’t ranking in the top 100.

In addition to that, we increased our ranking for ‘solar panels for sale’ from position 12 to position 5.

We’ve also seen significant improvements in tons of other organic keywords that are essential to Renogy’s business and bottom line. 

As I write this, organic traffic is up over 32% from when we finished our implementations and organic revenue is steadily increasing and growing about 37% quarter over quarter.

 

typing on the computer

How to Create a B2B SEO Strategy in 2020

typing on the computer

In this post you’ll learn:

  • What is B2B SEO?
  • How B2B SEO works
  • How SEO for B2B is different than B2C SEO
  • How to create content that turns into leads
  • B2B SEO Best Practices
  • And more…

What is B2B SEO?

B2B SEO is about driving professionals to your website via organic traffic. 

It doesn’t matter what professional industry you’re in. If you’re in a B2B business and have a website, you can and should take advantage of SEO. By effectively implementing these SEO best practices, B2B organizations can improve lead quality, build valuable relationships, and drive organic sales.

Some examples of B2B SEO search terms are:

“enterprise cybersecurity software”

“YouTube ads agency”

Assuming the person searching these keywords is a business professional, this is an example of B2B SEO. 

How B2B SEO works

SEO is SEO. Whether we’re talking about YouTube SEO, B2C SEO, or B2B, we typically follow the same best practices and break SEO down into three categories.

  1. Technical SEO is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Technical SEO ensures that your website is functioning properly and is SEO-optimized for your target audience. 
  2. Onpage SEO is typically what B2B companies will focus on most when it comes to SEO. This may include landing pages, white papers, blog posts, case studies, and more.
  3. Offpage SEO is tough no matter whether you’re a B2B or B2C company and involves getting other websites in your industry to link to you. 

How SEO for B2B is different than B2C

Where B2B SEO really differs is in the keyword and topic research. B2B companies typically have a narrower target audience than B2C companies and we want to make sure that we’re properly targeting that audience of professionals correctly. We do that by choosing the correct keywords and using content to lead the user through the buyer journey. 

Generally, B2B companies that focus on SEO face less competition than B2C companies. From my experience, most B2B companies focus their resources on paid advertising, causing paid advertising to be more competitive, CPCs to skyrocket, and organic search to be less competitive. 

One reason for this is because B2B companies put their most valuable content in white paper downloads, PDFs, and behind paywalls. This makes it difficult for this content to rank in SERP because it is not easily accessible to search engines.

This offers an advantage to most B2B companies, depending on what industry you’re in. The SaaS industry is super competitive and SEO is no exception, but I still find that most SaaS companies have a ton of room for improvement when it comes to SEO.

One SEO ‘hack’ that a lot of B2C companies don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of is optimizing your support and knowledge base content.

DigitalOcean is an example of a company that does this very well. They blend their tutorials, guides, and knowledgebase content very seamlessly and optimize it so that it is generating a ton of organic traffic.

SEO keyword research & how to create content that turns into leads

When conducting B2B SEO, we want to make sure that we have a clear sales funnel in place and that our keywords fit within that sales funnel. We also need a clear buyer persona to truly understand the target customer and to understand where they’re in the buying cycle. I won’t dive into how to create a buyer persona in this article but it’s certainly one of the first steps to consider when building a content strategy.

content funnel

What I mean by this is that we need to be aware of where in the funnel our keywords fit and that is going to dictate what type of content we create. For instance, is it a top of funnel keyword or is it a keyword with direct buyer intent?

After finding 5 or 10 target keywords that we want to rank for, we need to know where in the buyer journey these keywords belong. Is this keyword going to be for an introductory informational blog post or is it going to be on the landing page where we are collecting leads? The difference is super important. 

Whenever creating content that is top of the funnel, we want to have another piece of content that follows it up. That way we can lead the user through the buyer journey using content. For that reason, it’s important to understand the whole buyer journey before creating the first piece of content.

Unlike B2C SEO where you can target high-volume keywords that don’t necessarily have buyer intent, B2B content is a lot more strategical and focused on low-volume keywords with real benefits to the business. 

B2B buyers want personalized content so it’s important to think from the buyer’s perspective when building an SEO strategy.

B2B SEO Best Practices

Let’s take a look at some of the top B2B SEO best practices that all B2B companies should be aware of. Following these best practices will certainly improve your SEO strategy in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Publish content strategically that targets decision-makers.
  2. Target low-volume keywords that have buyer intent.
  3. Utilize CTAs within the content to convert that organic traffic to leads.
  4. Optimize technical SEO before focusing on content.
  5. SEO-optimize your support and knowledgebase content if you have it.
  6. Publish high-quality landing pages that target different decision-makers.
  7. Create a buyer persona.

Conclusion

For the most part, SEO is SEO and for that reason, the same SEO best practices that work for B2C companies will also work for B2B corporations. With that being said, there are a lot of differences between B2C and B2B SEO when it comes to content and SEO strategy. 

B2B SEO focuses more heavily on the target customer than B2C SEO does. It makes sense considering that a B2B customer typically pays a lot more than a B2C customer and the sales process is considerably longer.

When it comes to B2B, your target market isn’t typically a broad audience such as “newlyweds” or “college athletes” and for this reason, your content and SEO strategy needs to be significantly more targeted and thought out. 

Google search console results.

How to do SEO Link Building in 2020 [Free Email Template]

Google search console results.

Behind only quality content, content is always king, high quality link building is arguably the most important SEO ranking factor. So it’s no surprise that companies and SEOs put a lot of effort into building backlinks. I stress the term high quality, because the majority of link building that goes on is not high quality in my opinion. So what exactly does link building entail?

Link building can be both technical SEO and content SEO. It usually involves public relations, partnerships, and communication. In simple terms, link building is the process of getting another website to link to your website. This can be done naturally or it can be done strategically. 

Why is link building important?

Link building is important because one of the most important ranking factors that Google uses to determine how and where to rank your page in Google search results. Acquiring backlinks from authoritative domains can be very beneficial for your company. 

For SEO purposes, search engines crawl two different types of backlinks. A dofollow link and a nofollow link. A dofollow link simply tells the search engine crawler to follow that link, whereas a nofollow link does the opposite. So if you’re receiving a backlink from another website, a dofollow link is preferred, since a nofollow may not be crawled at all, though Google has recently announced that using nofollow is now seen as a hint, not a directive.

Beyond just getting a link from a high-quality website, there are a lot of additional factors that Google is looking at to determine how high quality that link is. The links that appear in the body of content with related anchor text are some of the highest quality backlinks you can get. For instance, if a news outlet covers a story on your company and links to your web page with text that is related to your core business, that is seen as a high quality backlink.

Link building research

When crafting a link building strategy, research is one of the most important factors. You’ll want to know exactly what type of link building you’re going to be doing, what websites and blogs you’re going to be focusing on, how you’re going to reach out, and what you’re going to offer.

Link building is certainly not easy. If you’re asking someone to insert a link to your website you better have a good reason why they should do so.

Let’s look at some different types of Link building strategies.

Link Building Strategies

This is not an exhaustive list but rather some of the most common link building strategies.

Mentions – using a tool such as Mention to find all mentions of your brand name and then reaching out to that webmaster and asking if they will link to your website because it will be beneficial to their readers.this has a higher success rate since they are already talking about your brand name and are familiar with your company.

Lost backlinks – this technique involves using a tool such as SEMrush or ahrefs to find backlinks that you have lost, for whatever reason, reaching out to the particular website or blog owner and asking if they can add back the backlink. This has varying degrees of success because maybe they removed the link on their own or maybe the link was broken, which takes us to our next method.

Partnership building – This is the most common form of link building. General outreach to bloggers and webmasters in your industry. Just like any other outreach, its success depends on how targeted the outreach is, how enticing your offer is, how relevant your content is to their audience, and so on. NinjaOutreach and BuzzStream can be great tools for mass outreach, though I’ve always chosen to do it manually.

Since I’ve had pretty good success with this method in the past, I’m going to share with you some things that have worked well for me in the next section. 

Broken links – this method is very tedious and has a lower success rate than the previous methods. For this method, you use a tool such as ScreamingFrog to crawl a website with related content and find broken links. Once you find a broken link that is linking out to a piece of content that is similar to a piece of content on your website, you reach out to the blog owner and ask him/her if they want to replace the broken link with your new link.

HAROHARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and provides writers with daily opportunities to be featured in high quality articles. Each day you receive an email with stories that reporters are working on and if you are an expert on any of the topics, you respond and have a chance to be featured in the article. This doesn’t always guarantee a backlink, but they usually make it clear whether or not they will link to you.

Guest posting – guest posting is one of the most common forms of backlinking and involves writing a guest post to be featured on another website. Within that guest post you will ideally link a few times to specific pages on your website. This is okay as long as you’re not paying to post the guest. Google has recently said selling paid links on blogs is against its webmaster guidelines.

Partnership Building Outreach Template

Here is an email template that has worked well for me in the past. One important thing to note is that you usually need to offer a link swap, or a way to drive traffic back to their website as well. Nobody wants to do anything for you for free. Before I include the template, lets talk about the steps that lead up to it.

  1. Build a spreadsheet of 5 target pages that you want to build link to and save it in Sheet 1
  2. On Sheet 2 (if doing manual outreach) build a list of target blogs and keep track of the URL, website name, DA, contact’s name, and contact’s email.
  3. Once you have that information, you can create a mail merge directly in Google Sheets.

Email template

Hi,

My name is Derek, and I’m reaching out on behalf of [Your Company].

I wanted to see if you’d be interested in exploring ways we can collaborate on content sharing between your blog and [Your Company]. I’ve been reading [WEBSITE/BLOG] for some time and have noticed a lot of content overlap. I think we could benefit from driving our audiences back to relevant content where applicable.

Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further.

Thanks,

Conclusion

These are just a few link building strategies but the best strategy is always to create high-quality content and share it with an interested audience so that they will naturally build backlinks for you. 

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YouTube SEO: 12 Ways to Optimize YouTube Videos

SEO for youtube search results.

YouTube is many things. It’s a place to share your creativity with the world. A platform for aspiring artists to garner fame. A source of unlimited entertainment. It also happens to be the second-largest search engine in the world, behind its parent company – Google. 

Luckily for us, a lot of SEO best practices for ranking in Google also apply to ranking in YouTube. Additionally, a well-optimized YouTube video may also appear in Google search results so it’s important to follow the YouTube SEO best practices. If you’re unfamiliar with SEO or YouTube best practices, it may be best to hire a YouTube Ads agency to manage all of your YouTube marketing needs.

Curious to find out more on YouTube SEO? Read on for our top optimization tips.

1. Rename your video file to include a target keyword.

If you’re familiar with the SEO best practices for images, then this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The same way that naming images for SEO will improve your search engine rankings and website traffic, naming your YouTube videos will have the same effect in YouTube search results. It’s another way to tell YouTube’s algorithms what this video is about so that they can display it accordingly.

2. Naturally Insert your keyword in the title of the video.

Although you may have a target keyword in mind that you want to rank for, it’s important that it matches when a viewer will be searching on YouTube. Research conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have only a slight advantage over those that don’t.

I’ve mentioned targeting keywords a bit but exactly how do you conduct keyword research for YouTube? YouTube keyword research has a whole new set of keyword research tools. There are a few to choose from but I recommend VidIQ to find new keywords, tags, and categories for your YT video. 

Example of keywords in a title of a YouTube video.

3. SEO-Optimize your video description.

YouTube uses your video description to understand what the video is about. A well-optimized description can boost your video’s rankings in YouTube search and Suggested Video. According to SearchEngineJournal, “More than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, so you need a mobile-first strategy for suggested videos.”

If you do choose to write a longer description, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text — that amounts to about 100 characters

4. Transcribe your video and include the transcription in the description.

This is another best practice that comes from Google SEO. Transcribing the video and including it in the description allows you to add a lot more indexable content to your YouTube video page. This way you can be discovered for a lot more content than was originally included in the description. The best part is that YouTube automatically transcribes all videos, you just need to edit it and include it in the description.

An example of transcribing a video for YouTube SEO.

5. Tag your video with SEO-optimized relevant tags.

YouTube’s official Creator Academy suggests including tags to let viewers know what your video is about. Just like normal SEO, you’re not just informing your viewers — you’re also informing YouTube itself.

Don’t use irrelevant tags because you think you’ll get more views – Google might penalize you for that.

According to VidIQ, “58% of viewers arrive at your videos because of YouTube Search and Related Videos. We’ll help you increase your library of tags by 10x in less than 10 minutes, and discover content opportunities you’re missing out on.”

6. Categorize your video.

After you upload your video, you can categorize it under “Advanced settings.” Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube so it ends up in other playlists and gains exposure to more viewers who identify with your audience. If you’re a musical artist, this is similar to adding a genre to your music with the hopes that Spotify will include it in a genre-specific playlist. You don’t want a country song to appear on a hip hop playlist so it’s important that you categorize your video correctly. 

Look at some of the top creators within the category. Research what they’re known for and see what they do well and how you can replicate their success and make it your own. Figure out if your video fits into this category before categorizing it.

Try to look for patterns between audiences to discover new categories and content ideas. 

Also, make sure that your video production quality is on par with some of the other videos in the category. If you accidentally

7. Promote your video.

A lot of the YouTube ranking factors depend on how much engagement your video is receiving. YouTube algorithms take into account how many comments your video has, how many views your video has, how many upvotes it has, and how many views it has. By sending your video out to friends on Facebook or an email list, this will help speed up the process and show YouTube that people are interested in your video. 

8. Upload a custom thumbnail.

The Creator Academy reports that “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails,” recommending the use of images that are 1280×720 pixels — representing a 16:9 ratio — that are saved as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. If you follow those parameters, it can help to ensure that your thumbnail appears with equally high quality across multiple viewing platforms.

Choose a great thumbnail that teases a great scene from the video and makes people want to click on it.

Custom thumbnail example for YouTube SEO.

9. Use an SRT File to add subtitles & closed captions.

Subtitles and closed captions can improve YouTube search visibility and improve the user experience by highlighting important keywords. The more visually appealing the video is, the more likely it is to be organically shared with friends, thus improving your YouTube rank.

To add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you need to upload a text transcript or subtitles file. I recommend reading the Creator Academy caption guidelines if this is your first time doing so.

10. Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership.

Cards

When you’re watching a YouTube video, have you ever seen a small white, circular icon with an “i” in the center appear in the corner of your video? Or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are Cards, which Creator Academy describes as “preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel.”

You can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are six types:

  • Channel cards send viewers to another channel
  • Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of a U.S. nonprofit
  • Fan cards to ask viewers to help support you
  • Link cards, which send viewers to external sites
  • Poll cards allow viewers to vote on a response
  • Video/playlist cards link to other YouTube videos and playlists.

End Screens

End screens display information similar to cards, but they only appear at the end of video. They’re usually a bit more visual and take up the whole screen. If a user watches your whole video, this may be a good time to ask them to subscribe to your YouTube channel to check out more of your videos. This is your chance to persuade viewers why they should go and watch another video in your series.

11. Create playlists

If you have a lot of videos then it’s best to split them up into different playlists to make it easier for your viewers to find them. If you have a lot of videos, then I recommend developing a series of videos that are organically connected so that YouTube will use one of those videos in the Suggested Videos when someone is watching another one of the videos in the series.

Example of a playlist on YouTube.

12. Great content

This one is a no-brainer so I saved it for the end. It’s also a bit discouraging to click on a post about how to optimize your content only to have it say “create amazing content that people want to share”. Duh. So why did I include it at all? Because content is king now more than ever. Similar to an article or a song, you need to create a compelling intro that will keep your viewers interested.

 

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your videos, SEO, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to help you supercharge your YouTube SEO efforts.