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Kris Reid

Kris Reid

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Kris Reid is the founder and CEO of Ardor SEO. His clients know him as “the Coolest Guy in SEO" for his passion for customers, stories and adventure.

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About the author

Kris Reid is the founder and CEO of Ardor SEO, and arguably “the Coolest Guy in SEO.” He’s known for his love of travel and adventure, but he earned the cool-guy reputation from his clients, ranging from micro businesses to large firms with hundreds of staff. No matter the size, he and the team at Ardor gained thousands of clients in five years through their dedication to knowing clients and fixing their unique SEO needs. Kris built his own career as a software engineer for Euroclear and Visa Europe until he lost his job with the rest of the financial sector in the 2008 Recession. From there, he charted his own new path, developing the popular forum game Mob Warrior, which led him to his lifelong love and passion: SEO.
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$20 Climb the Search Rank Package

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You'll receive a digital copy of Ranked, available for PDF and Kindle, chock full of tutorials and takeaways you can start applying to your business from the first chapters.

Ebook included

$40 Share Your SEO Secrets Package

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You'll get a special print copy, signed by Kris with a special note. Plus you gain one digital copy of Ranked, perfect for sharing.

2 copies + ebook included

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$75 Social Influencer Package

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You'll receive one sharp paperback copy, signed with a special note from Kris. Plus, you'll receive four digital copies of Ranked, and a personal shoutout from Kris on your favorite social media platform(s!)

4 copies + ebook included

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$100 Audio Audience Package

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Reach new audiences with radio! Kris will talk about your business on one of his podcast features as a case study in one of his SEO lessons. Plus, Kris will send you three signed paperback copies of Ranked and five digital copies.

3 copies + ebook included

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$150 Local Leader Package

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Show your strength in your own neighborhood. Kris and the Ardor team will create 50 local listings to boost your business in your own hometown and bring in new neighbors and wandering visitors. Plus, you'll receive four signed paperback copies of Ranked and another seven digital copies.

8 copies + ebook included

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$250 Powerful Link Profile Package

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Kris and his team at Ardor SEO will give your website an instant power boost, increasing the authority of your site by five times with its bullet-proof ranking service. In addition, you'll receive five signed paperback copies of Ranked and eight digital copies.

13 copies + ebook included

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$350 Beneficial Backlinks Package

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Ardor SEO will write a post featuring your company—with a backlink to your page, of course—to share and spread on social media, and you'll receive an accompanying feature post written by the Ardor team to host on your own website. Plus, you'll receive six signed paperback copies of Ranked and ten digital copies.

16 copies + ebook included

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$500 Master Course for Webmasters Package

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You'll receive a comprehensive audit of your business or personal website, complete with suggestions and advice to improve your reach. Plus, you'll receive eight signed paperback copies of Ranked and 12 digital copies.

20 copies + ebook included

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$1000 Strategic SEO Package

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With this incredible support, Kris will perform a full audit of your business or personal website by our team at Ardor. PLUS he will craft a full blueprint of an SEO strategy custom-tailored to your company. In addition, you will receive 10 paperback copies of Ranked and 30 digital copies.

40 copies + ebook included

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$2400 Ultimate Authority Package

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In return for your incredible support, Kris will come to your own event or company to speak on the power of SEO and recommend takeaways that can be applied to your company. Plus, you'll receive 15 paperback copies of Ranked, and another 50 digital copies to share among your team and networks.

65 copies + ebook included

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SEO can unlock the loyal customers that drive your business forward, as long as its built in a sustainable way. Ranked leads entrepreneurs to discover their growth potential via SEO.

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Business & Money Online Marketing
50,000 words
75% complete
4 publishers interested


Search Engine Optimization holds massive power to grow your business, but the real key to success is to use it in a sustainable, effective way. Ranked reveals not only the techniques to build your company’s SEO presence, but it will offer entrepreneurs an exciting new opportunity to interact with their customers and gain new fans along the way.

Rather than diving straight into the techniques, Ranked unfolds with Kris’s own story, as he shot up to a big-earning job without really thinking about what he wanted out of life—just like many eager business owners who start rank tracking their search engine performance for the first time. As he escaped the corporate world and programmed his own video game, Kris discovered Search Engine Optimization. He quickly became obsessed with keywords and authority, and he realized how much businesses would thrive with just a few SEO habits. He used this knowledge to launch his own SEO company, which now serves thousands of clients, and he set out to show more business owners the power it can offer them.

From there, the book will walk readers through the techniques and principles behind SEO. The concepts can become technical, so Kris keeps the explanations simple and thorough, employing entertaining examples in each chapter. Ranked will start with the basics, defining rank-tracking, analytics and authority, and then pull readers through the process of monitoring their performance online. Kris takes readers through the history and psyche of Google and its Googlebot so entrepreneurs can grasp why some content gets prioritized over others. The techniques can seem complicated from the start, but Kris explains each concept with entertaining and precise examples in order to drive home the ideas.

Ranked is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to SEO, but no self-respecting marketing book would claim definitive expertise either. Instead, this book aims to provide business owners with the fundamental knowledge they need to market their businesses with a mind toward SEO, or to find the right SEO specialist to grow their business. Many business owners initially see SEO as a quick path to online fame, but Ranked intends to transform that thinking and show entrepreneurs that, like marketing and accounting, SEO is a crucial practice to supplement your business and improve its performance


Part 1

From his laid back childhood in middle-of-nowhere Australia, Kris launched his career as a software engineer in London’s Square Mile, taking advantage of the steady paychecks and long, boozy lunch hours that life entailed. But such extravagance is fleeting, and he quickly found himself on a tumultuous journey until he finally found fulfillment in the exciting, emerging industry of SEO.

Part 2

In this section, Kris dives into the philosophy and methodology behind SEO.

Chapter 1 - Know Your Customer, Know Their Keywords
The customers your company serves are searching for your services, but you have to learn more about their habits and interest to figure out what keywords they’re using.

Chapter 2 - Keyword Testing
You gained some clues as to what keywords relate to your business in the last chapter, but now you have to test their effectiveness.

Chapter 3 - Information Architecture
The structure of your site allows—or sometimes hinders—the Googlebot from properly locating and ranking your site.

Chapter 4 - Content Creation
Website and social media content give a business a chance to show off its expertise and value, but the best quality and most highly targeted content takes careful planning.

Chapter 5 - Analytics
Google gives you an overwhelming number of ways to track your site performance. This chapter helps you manage what you should do.

Chapter 6 - Your Authority Plan 
Your business might be known for its skills and resources among loyal customers, but you have to build that authority online too.

Chapter 7 - Getting Optimised
Google gives preferential treatment to sites that make life easy for bot and human visitors alike.

Chapter 8 - Take Control of Your Reputation
Reputation engineering allows you to manage your own projections online.

Chapter 9 - Rank Tracking 
Now that you’ve built your SEO techniques from the ground up, they require regular monitoring and maintenance via rank-tracking.

Chapter 10 - Site Migration
Moving doesn’t have to be stressful if you take steps to prepare when setting up SEO.


Ranked is written for the ardent entrepreneurs just beginning their journey and the seasoned small and medium business owners who want to grow their business but don’t know how. Most of these business owners know the core values behind SEO because they’re already thinking about this in other aspects of their work. But this book exposes business owners to the ways they can apply those concepts into their online marketing strategies to see real results. 

The executives at major companies understand the need for a search engine optimization strategy. Industry leaders in all kinds of sectors are routinely making decisions and taking actions based on analytics, and nearly 90% of these companies say understanding users access their digital content is a crucial key to market success, according to a 2017 customer experience survey from Google.

Even small businesses understand how much they need SEO: when thinking about improvements to their digital assets, small businesses sited SEO and social engagement as their top two priorities, according to a 2016 survey from Clutch.

But that doesn’t mean they’re doing anything. 46% of small businesses don’t even have a website, according to that Clutch survey. This book is aimed at those small business owners who know they need SEO but are hesitating to dive in, or even those who have tried but don’t feel they’ve mastered the concept. Business owners already know SEO is good for them, but Ranked motivates them to take the next steps by providing the background knowledge and attainable early goals to create an develop and appropriate SEO strategy.


Ardor SEO website
Reach out to business partner database, leveraging list of thousands of dedicated, loyal customers
Email list of 10,000+
Live talks, average of 12 per year
Connect with network of websites offering guest posts, expanding reach to diverse audiences beyond personal and business web connections
Tap into podcast network and reappear on 100s of shows on which Kris has appeared
Use podcast partners database to reach 10s of thousands more


The SEO Battlefield: Winning Strategies for Search Marketing Programs
By Anne Ahola Ward (2017)
O’Reilly Media

This guide gives business owners the practical information they need to make themselves competitive in search results. SEO requires a variety of skills, from marketing and website development to automation, and Ward details how teams can integrate habits of research, data analysis and experimentation into their routines to improve a business’s SEO performance.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Tell Your Story In A Noisy Social World
By Gary Vaynerchuk (2013)

Marketers are always looking for that “right hook” that will move their clients to visit a business’s website, reach out with a question or make a purchase. Social media fundamentally transformed the way businesses have to market themselves. Vaynerchuk shows readers that they can’t just make a strong punch, they have to hit the right mark. Social media marketing is the same: Vaynerchuk shows readers how to build high quality content that hits the exact target audience.

Predictive Analytics: The Power To Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie or Die
By Eric Siegel (2016)

Predictive Analytics reveals the true purpose behind mass data collection: figuring out a customer’s action before they take their next step. In clear language that demystifies the confusing cloud of big data, this guide runs through the ways corporations leverage user data to discover more about their clients and how to reach them more consistently and effectively.

The Art of SEO
By Eric Enge, Stephen Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola & Rand Fishkin (2012)
O’Reilly Media

Employing the knowledge of four SEO experts, this text outlines methods and techniques needed to build an SEO plan for a business or person. The Art of SEO explains why search engines operate the way they do, and then presents crucial concepts like rank tracking and authority. The second edition offers revised trends to the changing market, concluding with a look toward SEO’s future trends.

Building A Storybrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
By Donald Miller (2017)
HarperCollins Leadership

Business owners might have a clear idea what they can offer customers in their head, but they struggle to explain their ideas in a way that grabs attention. Miller presents the solution: tell them a story and your audience will be rapt. This book provides the step-by-step process for crafting a business’s story in a gradual and helpful way.

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We’ll customize a package of services to suit your exact needs at affordable prices ranging from $4,000 to $10,000, depending on your manuscript's word count and complexity. And we’ll manage all the intricacies of book production, so you don’t have to. After this one-time investment, every penny of net revenue from book sales goes directly to you, never to us.

If this sounds like a better way to publish your book, I invite you to browse our services, design samples, no-surprises pricing, outstanding customer reviews, and educational articles at

1106 Design has been in business since 2001 and is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. We are a “Highly Recommended Expert” at and rated "Excellent" at Alli, The Alliance for Independent Authors, at

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When I first meet a new client, the conversation often goes the same way. I'm always finding myself in the presence of incredible entrepreneurs, and I revel in the chance to hear about their businesses: they’re tactful and clever, marketing everything from new cell phone technology to laundromat services. And regardless of their industry, they’re full of inspired new ideas and boundless energy to put their actions into results.

When I bring up SEO, that effervescence dissolves immediately.

Suddenly, the excited business owner slumps and sometimes shamefully admits they don’t know a thing about SEO, or don’t even own a website. Others swipe the idea away, saying they’re too busy for it or don’t need it for their business. Every time I hear these gripes, I get a little thrill of anticipation. Once they’re done listing their gripes about SEO, I get the chance to introduce them to the untapped opportunity that SEO can provide them.

Search engine optimization has a bad rap in most entrepreneurs’ minds. Many see SEO as a time-wasting habit or a cheap trick to get fair-weather followers. And that’s only if they know the term “SEO” in the first place. Of course, some people do use SEO to get followers fast, but every industry has its quick-and-dirty shortcuts that allow you to gain fleeting fortune.

The truth is that SEO can be an incredible tool that will elevate your business’s presence online, bring in new customers and improve your vision, communication and brand overall. However, you have to spend a little time and focus to use SEO in a productive, sustainable manner. Today, there are thousands of people innovating and perfecting ways to build customer bases and create better online experiences with SEO.  And in this era of ecommerce and social media, SEO will one day be a fundamental entrepreneurial concept taught in any business school.

It may seem intimidating to adopt SEO practices when the industry is shifting so rapidly. However, you don’t need to dive into the field all at once. You don’t need to be an auto mechanic before you buy a car. Sure, that knowledge would help when your engine stalls or you want to add a modification. But once you learn the rules of the road and some very basic maintenance like filling gasoline, you’re ready to roll. Every entrepreneur should know the basics of SEO. Creating an SEO plan can be just as pivotal in your life as purchasing that first 10-year-old sedan so you could cruise town on the weekends. Whether online or on the road, there will be room to improve your quality and reach, but you will never get anywhere if you don't start. 

So let’s get ready to hit the road. But first things first, you need to learn about the terrain we’re navigating: Google.

It’s All About the ‘Bot

More than 86% of internet searches go through Google, so it’s crucial for SEO to follow the principles and trends set by the Google algorithm. The Googlebot—that is to say, the Google software application that crawls billions of web pages, and SEO’s dispassionate god—traverses the internet, collecting data from different websites, and mapping the architecture of your keywords and the authority and relevance of your links. From this data, an index is created. When users search for particular keywords, Google’s algorithms call back to this index, and point users in the direction of the most relevant websites.

If you aim to build your authority in the wide world of the internet, you must first get to know the Googlebot, and understand how and why it crafts each ranking.

Who is this book for?

Books about digital marketing and SEO can be a chore to read. The subject often is bogged down by the intricacies of this complicated subject, and it’s impossible to tell where to start or what to do. There are so many options, it’s paralyzing—what’s the right option for your needs? My goal with this book is to provide business owners with the important basics of SEO, leaving out the minutiae that complicate the philosophy and strategy behind the core goal: building a company’s web presence.

What I hope you get from this book is a general understanding of how to identify, create, and navigate the keywords and phrases that will create the most organised, indexable version of your website so it slots in neatly with Google’s algorithms. You’ll know how to boost your search results by ensuring your website regularly generates solid content (through updates, social media engagement, and blogs, etc.), create an online authority plan, and use analytics to see how you’re doing.  And if I do my job, you’ll understand that effective and successful SEO isn’t a one-and-done task, but a regular activity that requires ongoing and consistent practice. So let’s start from the beginning of Google, which set the revolutionary rules and the trajectory of SEO in the internet’s Wild West days.

A Brief History of SEO

They say if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. That’s exactly what Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, did when they developed their search engine. Within a few decades of the release of their first prototype, their platform was so ubiquitous that “google” became the verb for searching something online in the Oxford English Dictionary. Google is the standard bearer in SEO, so it’s a good idea to get to know this platform you’ll be spending time with. I want to share a bit about Google’s history, not only because it’s an interesting story, but also because it will help you to understand how the algorithms work, why they’re designed that way, and how to use that understanding to your advantage.

Google distinguished itself early on through Larry Page’s unique method of classifying search results. Google was born amidst a sea of internet directories and search engines in order to navigate the roughly 75 million indexable URLs that existed in the mid-1990s. (The World Wide Web surpassed 1 billion websites in 2014, and that number hovered near 1.9 billion by July 2018.) The myriad search engines--Lycos, HotBot, AltaVista, Excite, Yahoo and more--all had one thing in common: they ranked their search results based upon keyword matches. The web page with the closest match or the largest amount of matching keywords would rank the highest. Unfortunately, this meant the user wasn’t getting the most relevant, useful, or best pages returned to them. For example, back in 1995, you could search for Microsoft and receive hundreds of pages mentioning Microsoft products, but Microsoft’s own website may not have made it into the top ten returns. How helpful would that have been?

Larry Page was attending graduate school at Stanford University when he began work on the algorithm that would become PageRank. He saw that there was a better way to determine the most relevant pages for a search, and he was sure links would be a big part of it. Page was inspired by the way citations in academic research could indicate authority for both the paper and the writer. Each citation of an academic paper boosts the researcher’s authority, and with enough citations, that researcher qualifies as an expert. Page saw potential to integrate this system into the Web. In his estimation, a web page or website could gain that expertise and become valuable if dozens or hundreds of other pages or posts referenced or linked to that site. He developed an algorithm called PageRank that organized web pages and web domains based on the number and influence of those sites and pages linking back to that page. With Page’s algorithm, Microsoft—the real authority for the brand—ranked ahead of the mass of keyword-covered sites.

While Page figured out the math needed to create this internet hierarchy, Brin crafted the software. Combining their strengths, they quickly got the search engine up and running on Stanford’s servers. Initially, the pair named their search engine Backrub, a reference to backlinks, or the hyperlink citations that give a page its value. Analyzing backlinks was what set their system apart—in method and performance—from any other engine on the market. With their PageRank algorithm, Page and Brin gave users the best results for their searches, not just the ones with the most keyword matches. By the end of 1996, users turned to Backrub for ten thousand searches a day. Everyone who used it loved it. The only real problem was that their search engine required so much bandwidth while crawling the internet that it often clogged up Stanford’s network.

Backrub eventually became Google during the search engine’s tenure at Stanford, but bigger changes were on the wind. Brin and Page secured $100,000 in venture capital and moved into their first official headquarters, a garage in Silicon Valley. Like many dot com entrepreneurs, the pair planned on showing the company’s value and then selling to an established player in the technology sector. Maybe their demands were too high, or the technology too new, because the expected offer never materialised.

Instead of cashing out, the duo stayed the course as the little search engine that could climbed its own rankings. As their algorithm—the Googlebot—encountered more pages, its search results adapted and improved. Meanwhile, the strictly keyword-based search engines, like Yahoo and Lycos, dragged their feet under the escalating weight of the internet.

As the Googlebot encountered more pages and sites, the company grew to understand how websites establish For everybody other search engine on the Web, the exploding number of websites available made it increasingly challenging for them to operate in the way they had before.

Google’s rise to dominance was a quick one. In just two years, Google went from the new kid on the block to the industry leader. In 1999, Yahoo passed on the opportunity to buy Google for a now-paltry million dollars. By 2000, Google become the largest search engine in the world by number of pages indexed and the second most popular one in use. Yahoo could no longer ignore Google. After Google turned down a $3 million buyout, Yahoo contracted the company to replace its own search engine. If you can’t buy ‘em, hire ‘em!

Visibility Follows Authority

Though the Google algorithm has grown and evolved to become more complex over the years, PageRank scores still play a big role in conveying authority and improving a site’s visibility. When websites with a high PageRank score link to your site, the Googlebot can quickly find your site and thoroughly crawl your pages. This kind of preferential treatment can lift your page to the first page of results and sustain its place at the top. A high score also ensures the Googlebot will regularly visit to look for fresh content, which can place you above your competitors.

PageRank assigns each web domain and web page a score from 0-10. If your page has no backlinks, it starts at zero, increasing as you gain links back to your site. Google is secretive about the specifics of their algorithm, but most SEO professionals agree that PageRank operates on a logarithmic scale. This means it becomes progressively harder to increase your score as you climb higher in the ranking. In fact, a score of ten would be nearly impossible to achieve. Even Google’s own domain falls short of that goal.

It used to be easy to discover a particular page’s score. All you had to do was click on the PageRank meter in your browser’s toolbar. Unfortunately, publicly releasing this rank wrought all sorts of havoc in the online world. If your site had a high PageRank score, you’d find yourself plagued with emails begging for backlinks and bogus comments that attempted to sabotage your popularity with links to spam. The PageRank meter also allowed people to manipulate their own authority. Thus, Google did the sensible thing and removed the PageRank meter. Some third party providers offer alternative metrics to PageRank, but they certainly aren’t as accurate, and their scores don’t have sway over Google’s rankings. Google prefers that you do everything possible to ensure a great user experience with exceptional content, rather than obsessing with a PageRank score.

How Links Increase Your Score

An endorsement from a trusted source is not just an asset on the internet. Conveying authority happens offline as well. For example, Oprah Winfrey releases an annual list of her favorite products right before the big gift-giving holidays. As you can imagine, this is a huge event among her fans.

What if Oprah added your company’s product to that list? Your company would immediately acquire the kind of credibility that cannot be purchased. By picking your product for her list, Oprah bestows some of her valuable credibility upon your humble company. Your sales would skyrocket as Oprah’s legions of fans learn of what you can offer them. Linking works in that same philosophy.

Who Links to Whom

In general, you want as many links pointing to your site as possible, but it’s not quite that simple. You need to consider the authority of the source linking to your site. Respected websites like Oprah’s can convey a lot of authority to your website. A link from a site like this can increase your PageRank score and make your site more visible in a search. A link from a mediocre site with a mediocre PageRank—like the blog of a local news station—may not improve your score, but the mention wouldn’t hurt it. If Spammy Sam’s Online Viagra Emporium links to your site, that will hurt your score.

Another site aspect that the PageRank algorithm considers is the number of links a domain or webpage has. Oprah’s list of favorites has grown from a handful of items in 1996 to a collection of eighty-seven products in 2015. Mentioning your product on a select list of ten gift ideas will have more impact than its inclusion on a list of 90 products. If Oprah’s list grew to a thousand items, snagging a mention would do little to boost your sales. Even the mighty Oprah is limited in the amount of authority she can disperse. In the same way, sites with lots of links can only pass a small amount of their authority through each link. Sites with a high PageRank score but small amount of links have the power of Oprah’s list from 1996: each choice mention brings a high level of authority.

The Googlebot also considers the relevance of your site’s backlinks. Your PageRank score gets the greatest boost from sites that have a high level of authority in a topic related to your site. If a completely unrelated site links to yours, the Googlebot mostly ignores the mention, because the bot assumes that link will not contribute in any way to the user’s experience.
Then there’s the Nofollow link, which conveys no authority to the site mentioned. Google created the Nofollow designation to mark links that have been paid for, but many websites also use Nofollow links to prevent unintentionally endorsing websites. Websites that encourage open-source content additions like Wikipedia or allow comments on their articles like Huffington Post are great examples of Nofollow sites. If you try to build authority by linking your site to an edit on a Wikipedia page, it won’t work because Wikipedia has made all those links Nofollows. The same is true for the comments sections of most media outlets. Spam away on a popular Huffington Post article, but it won’t change your PageRank score.

So What Can I Do With My PageRank?

SEO is built with an understanding of programming, but the practice is more art than science. And with any art, you have to know the rules before you can bend or break them. Now that you see the ingenuity behind the Googlebot and its PageRank, you can start to imagine where you can improve your website or page’s own score.

In the chapters that follow, I’ll offer a few strategies and methods that can boost your PageRank.  These practices work in different ways for different businesses, but to start, I’ll show you what you can do with SEO on a fundamental level and explain why these methods work in your favor to boost your status in Google. SEO is truly an exciting, creative way to build up your company online with real results. But before we break out the artistry and vision, we can define the basic methods for building your authority in a sustainable way.


Know Your Customer. Know Their Keywords.

Understanding your patrons’ needs and desires allows you to serve them better. I probably don't have to tell you this twice: it’s one of the most fundamental philosophies for entrepreneurs. But in the day-to-day hustle of managing a business, it becomes increasingly easy to lose sight of the people that business owners set out to assist in the beginning.

Innovation often springs out of taking some time to consider the customer. The head chef of the royal Prussian household of Louis Ferdinand Jungius in 1839 saw this opportunity when he recorded the first recipe for Neapolitan ice cream. Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry have long been the most popular flavors of ice cream, and it's not hard to imagine how this clever chef, tired of juggling everyone's favorites, decided to combine them into a single crowd-pleasing treat.  This chef understood his patron’s desires and used them to optimise the product he offered.

If you’re serving ice cream, it’s pretty easy to know what your customers want because they come into your shop craving a sweet treat. All you need to do is ask them. Selling your product or service online is trickier, because potential clients are often anonymous.

This is where keywords come into play. Keywords are descriptive terms that users type into Google when they’re looking for information. Your potential customers are using specific words or phrases to search for the same solutions and fulfillments that your product offers. Discovering those keywords is the first step toward maximising your online presence.

In this chapter, you’ll see why you shouldn’t be satisfied with just a high page rank for your business or product name. I’ll explain why keywords are so valuable, and why some are more valuable than others. Most importantly, we’ll dive into how you can determine which keywords will connect customers with your business.

Google is broken!

One typical morning in 2017, after waking up for my early morning yoga practice, I hopped on my trusty motorbike and cruised to the office. I brewed a cup of tea, and made my way over to my desk and completed my usual morning routine by perusing my email. I tend to get dozens of emails, but on the day in question, one stood out. The subject read: Google is broken! Please help.

At first, I thought this was a ploy by some savvy marketer to get me to read their email. I was sure that if I opened it, I’d find a solicitation to buy some product I don’t need. No thanks! I kept scrolling through my inbox. After replying to a few pieces of genuine correspondence, I pulled up my calendar. I had a full day planned, but that weird email popped back into my head and sent my mind wandering. What do they mean, 'Google is broken'? If this is a marketing trick, is it a good one? Perhaps I had dismissed this email as junk too quickly. I hadn’t even checked who the sender was, it could have been a friend playing a joke. Curiosity got the better of me.

But the email hadn’t come from anyone I knew, or even a name I recognised. It was from a despondent client who I’ll call ‘Professor Genius’.

Dear Sir,

You do not know me but soon will. As will the rest of the rest of the world.

I am a scientist, and I’ve created a revolutionary new smartphone. Forget iPhone. Throw away your Android. The phone I’ve developed puts all others to shame. I call it the Rocket Phone.

As I do not wish to hand my masterpiece over to some company that will take all the credit and leave me with nothing more than a pittance in royalties, I’ve taken on the task of selling the Rocket Phones myself. My website,, is up and running, but, sadly, I’m not receiving any sales.

Everyone told me that the internet was the perfect place to sell my phone. Other businesses seem to be doing quite well selling inferior products, but it’s not working for me. The only conclusion I can come up with is that Google is broken. Can you help me?

Professor Genius

I’m not the kind of person to get worked up easily. I clicked the Rocket Phone link, thinking I’d see a typical smartphone, maybe one with a new operating system or a larger screen. I was even prepared for the possibility of some sort of virtual reality phone with goggles. What I wasn’t expecting to see was a literal Rocket Phone. Professor Genius had designed a smartphone with miniature rocket engines. Here was a phone that, when grasped firmly in your hand, could lift you off the ground and propel you through the air.

This wasn’t just an advance in smartphone design. It was a game changer. Immediately, I saw all the situations in which a Rocket Phone would improve my life. Whenever I was running late, I could just fire up my Rocket Phone and blast to my destination. I knew I had to talk to this genius, so I invited the professor to a video call.

Seconds later, a notification popped up: Professor Genius was waiting to talk.

As my video came to life, I found myself looking at an attractive woman with eyes bright with anticipation.  

I didn’t mince words. Was this for real? A phone that lets you fly through the air? It had to be a trick, right? The professor gave me a smile that told me she was used to this reaction.

“Oh, no,” Professor Genius told me, “It’s for real. Rockets and miniaturisation are my fields of expertise. I’m a smartphone junkie myself so it was a natural combination. The hardest part was keeping the rockets from singeing the user’s wrist.”

The Rocket Phone was real! Why wasn’t it selling?

Taking the First Step

When I heard that the professor wasn’t having any luck selling her amazing phone, I wondered how many people had actually managed to find the site. There are more than a billion websites on the internet. If Professor Genius wanted buyers to find her website, it needed to appear first in a Google search for related keywords.

When I broached the topic of Google searches, however, the professor quickly cut me off. The Rocket Phone website was the first Google result, she explained, sending a link to the results of the search.

I clicked on the link, but I already knew what I’d find; the results she sent me were for a search of the keywords Rocket Phone.

I had seen clients perform similar searches time and time again. And like all other clients who showed me those results, Professor Genius was shocked to hear how little her rank for “rocket phone” mattered. She was obviously intelligent, but she knew very little about SEO.

“It’s great to know that your website ranks well for your product’s name,” I told her, “But this alone won’t sell many Rocket Phones. Here’s the problem. Unless your company’s brand and products are well known, people won’t be searching for your product’s exact name or even your company’s name. Sure, people search for Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, but those are established brands with huge marketing budgets. In your case, no one’s ever heard of the Rocket Phone, and they would rarely think to search for both a rocket and a phone together.”

I’m not saying the results of that search are meaningless. It is important that your product ranks well for its own name. Imagine if one of your competitors was the first search result! But at the moment, the Rocket Phone had a very small established customer base—the kind of customers who would type “rocket phone” into Google,—so Professor Genius needed to think more about her potential customers.

Strong sales start from knowing your customers. When you know your customers and understand the problem your product solves for them or the desire it fulfills, you can determine the keywords they’ll use to search. If Professor Genius targeted those keywords, I assured her, Rocket Phones would be flying off the shelf.

Dominating a search for the exact name of your company or product is only the beginning of your SEO journey. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often businesses stop at that point. If it were really that easy, I’d be out of a job.

To be clear, people will search for your company or product name. You do want to make sure they can find you when they conduct these searches, but there’s a whole world of people who don’t even know your business exists. The internet allows you to reach these people with ease, but only if you know what keywords they’re using in their searches.

Remember: it’s all about the ‘bot.

In order for the Googlebot to direct users to your website, it needs to know that those users will find what they need there. Thus, the pages that rank the highest in a keyword search are the ones that Google has determined hold the best and most relevant content for that particular keyword.

Keyword matches aren’t the only things the Googlebot looks for. These pages also need to have high quality content. The days of plugging a bunch of spammy keywords into an illegible paragraph are over. This is because Google tracks how long their users stay on a page. If users click on your page, and then quickly go back to the search results, that’s called a bounce. If a page gets a lot of bounces, Google assumes it’s no good. 

Creating Your Keyword List

By now, you’re probably brainstorming all of the keywords you’d associate with your business’s offerings. Maybe you’re even jotting them down and preparing to include them in your SEO strategy. If so, stop!

The keywords you associate with your business are unlikely to be the same as the ones potential customers use in their searches. This is because you would think about your product in a different way than your customers, who very likely don’t have your same level of expertise. Professor Genius is adept in rockets and miniaturisation, so she can describe the Rocket Phone’s benefits and features in explicit detail. However, her prospective customers likely don’t know the first thing about rockets, nor how they could be applied to a phone. They just want to upgrade their smartphone.

Professor Genius might search for:

  • Smartphone with rocket power
  • Flying cellphone
  • Rocket-powered phone

But prospective Rocket Phone buyers are searching for:

  • Best new smartphone
  • Most advanced cell phone
  • Smartphone with new features

If you want to discover the keywords your potential customers are using in their searches, you need think on their level, not yours. If you can anticipate the terms that they’re using to search for new products, you can organically direct them to your product and the solution to their query.

Ask your customers

The easiest way to determine which keywords will lead people to your business is to ask those who already stumbled upon your company. Your past and current customers are a goldmine of information for your marketing strategy.

Whether you met your customers online or face-to-face, they can provide you with crucial details about how and why they found your company. Engage them in conversation, and you’re one step closer to finding your keywords. People love to talk, especially about the things they buy and the services they use. All you have do is give them the opportunity to speak, and then listen to what they have to say.

How to ask

Back in the old brick-and-mortar days, you could begin the conversation by asking why they chose to stop in. With an online business, however, you might never see your customer in person.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of ways to connect with your customers—you could call them on the phone, send them an email, or engage with them on social media. The best way to reach your customers is often in the same manner they reach you. For example, if your business inbox is constantly flooded with customers’ requests, then you should reach out to them through email to get their thoughts.

Time is a valuable commodity, and many of your customers may not want to share theirs with you. So you need to keep the questions short and the commitment low. Anything you can do to make it easy, or rewarding, to get them talking will work in your favor. You could even offer a discount on their next purchase. Who doesn’t want that?

You should also consider your method of contacting them when devising your script. If you’re calling or emailing them, start the conversion with by asking if they’d be willing to answer a few questions about how they found your business, and assure them it will only take a few minutes. This lets them know exactly what they’re agreeing to.

If the conversation is taking place on a social media platform, space your questions out over a week or two, or use a poll that can sort responses. Ideally, multiple people will reply to the questions you post, and you’ll want to be able to accurately analyze your results.

What to ask

Remember, this is all about finding the words your customers associate with your services and products. To get those words, you need to get your customers talking.

You want to avoid planting thoughts in your customers’ heads. This is one time that being a little vague can be beneficial. Asking, “What do you like best about our product?” is more likely to get you keywords than asking, “What’s your favorite feature?” Maybe what they like best isn’t a feature at all: they might have bought your product because it comes in their favorite shade of blue.

Here are some questions designed to get your customers talking:

  • What was the problem that brought you to us?
  • How does our product benefit you?
  • What goal do we help you achieve?
  • What do you like best about our product or service?
  • How would you describe our product or service to your friends?
  • How did you know it’s time to get our help?
  • What would be the best solution our company could provide?

What to listen for

It’s a great idea to record the answers your customers provide. There is value in every response. There are keywords in every conversation. However, you really want to focus on the words you hear again and again. Those repeated words are at the heart of your customers’ needs and desires, and if they’re repeating certain phrases now, those are likely to be words that they type into the Google search bar. By paying attention to what your customers repeatedly say, you can target their needs and desires with keywords that will attract the people who most need your help.

During my conversation with Professor Genius, she explained how she came up with the idea for the Rocket Phone. The professor knew many smartphone connoisseurs. These friends were early adopters of the smartphone, and always had the latest and greatest phone clutched in their palms. But Professor Genius noticed that her friends weren’t upgrading their phones as frequently as they used to. Some of these friends even had the same phone for three years in a row. Those phone savvy friends noted that advances in phones were slowing down: an upgrade might mean a bigger screen or a better camera, but it was still basically the same phone. They were waiting for something new.

As the professor recounted these conversations, we uncovered more keywords for the Rocket Phone.

Her friends were searching for:

  • Smartphone with advanced features
  • What’s new in Smartphones
  • Smartphone breakthrough

As these smartphone-savvy friends were prime candidates to purchase a Rocket Phone, I had the professor add these phrases to her keyword list.

Some keywords are more valuable than others

When someone includes the words buy now, for sale, or discount coupon in their keyword search, they’re looking to buy. These keywords are have high commercial intent. Keywords with high commercial intent are more likely to lead to a sale than keywords with informational intent.

If you’re a service provider, like a realtor, lawyer, or plumber, your clients won’t be typing in buy. Instead, they may be looking for the best, or even the most affordable. They want the best realtor in my town or an affordable plumber near me.

Which keywords you should target will depend on what you’re selling. Keywords like review or compare indicate a user researching the best option for their needs. They may not be ready to buy today, but they’re getting close.

Short tails and long tails

Keywords come in two flavors, short tail and long tail.

Short tails are, well, short. These are one or two-word terms, and they tend to receive a high volume of searches.

Here are three short tail keywords that could lead customers to the Rocket Phone website:

  • Smartphone
  • Cellphone
  • Best smartphone

Millions of users may perform a Google search for Smartphone, but you still might not want to add it to your keyword list.

Why? Because big brands are also competing for these keywords. Large businesses can profit from the high traffic short tail keywords provide. This means the giants of your industry are willing to hand over gobs of money to SEO firms in order to top the search results for the most lucrative short tails. If your small business is targeting the same keywords, good luck.

This competition is the main reason I recommend focusing instead on long tail keywords. Long tails use more words, and are therefore more specific.  

Here are three long tails that could lead customers to

  • Most powerful new smartphone
  • Smartphone with advanced features
  • Fastest cell phone for sale

Long tail keywords present two main advantages for your SEO plan.

One: They’re not as competitive as short tails. 

There are fewer people searching these terms, which means they aren’t as interesting to big companies with huge SEO budgets. And since these keywords are so specific, there will be fewer products or services that match them. This means it’ll be easier to rank well for long tail keywords that match your offerings.

Two: Long tails tend to have higher conversion rates. 

It only makes sense that more specific keywords show a higher level of intention to purchase. Think about the difference in results between a search for "new car" and one for "black BMW M3 in Melbourne." It’s easy to see that the user searching for a specific BMW is further along in her buying decision than the one merely browsing new cars. 

Geo-targeted keywords

The internet gives you a world-wide reach, but there are plenty of times users need a product or service that’s locally available. In the past, people consulted a phone book for this. Now, they turn to Google.

This means that selecting keywords that target a specific city or region can funnel customers right to your doorstep. If you run a brick-and-mortar operation or serve specific geographic areas, you need to integrate your location into your long tail keywords.

You may also need to consider where your customers will be when they decide to buy from you. For example: one of our clients sells cruises of the Mekong River. Although the river runs 4350 kilometers through China and the heart of Southeast Asia, our clients’ customers are primarily tourists who live in Europe. They don’t wait until they arrive in Thailand or Cambodia to buy their tickets; they purchase them before they’ve even left their homes.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

If your business serves a geographic area, try this: find a company within the same industry that's located in a different city. They might have the same keywords that could be relevant for your home town. Let’s say you’re a plumber in Houston. With a quick Google search for plumber in Dallas, you find that Mike’s Plumbing reigns search results in the north side of Texas.

Now take a look at Mike’s site structure, internal pages and metadata. If Mike’s plumbing has the same products and services, you can model your site’s architecture, metadata and keyword list on Mike’s site, giving you an easy head started.

Use Google to find your keywords

Performing Google searches can help fill out your keyword list. The following three tips allow you to see keywords that others use in their searches. 

Before you start searching, you need to hide your identity from the Googlebot. As long as Google knows the user performing a search, it will tailor the results to that user’s browsing history and search preferences. Normally, this is a great feature, but for these exercises the last thing you want is results based on your own search history. Hiding your past searches from the bot makes you appear more like your customer.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Open a new incognito window in your Google Chrome browser. Incognito mode keeps your web browsing activities private. It automatically erases your browsing history and search history, preventing Google manipulating the search results based on your browser and search history.
  2. Check out Google’s related searches. Search for your product and then scroll to the list of related searches at the bottom of the results pages. Just like the predicted searches, the suggestions are compiled from popular Google searches. Pick out the ones that fit your business and add them to your keyword list.  

Pro-Tip: Play with predictive search

Have you ever noticed how Google wants to complete your search terms for you as you type words into the search box? You begin typing, and Google autofills what it thinks the rest of your search may be. This is called predictive search. As you’re typing plumber into the search box, Google may suggest a search for Plumber near me or Plumber with 24-hour service.

Google makes these predictions based on popular searches. The bot thinks you may want to search the terms it’s predicting because others have searched those terms.

By playing around with this feature, you can discover valuable long tail keywords. Start by typing in one or two keywords and observing what other words Google thinks may complete your search. Add those to your keyword list.

Online Tools to Try:

Note: I have included these tools to expedite your keyword research process. They’re recommendations, not requirements, and I am not affiliated with these third-party products. 

Adwords Keyword Planner  - Google provides it because they want to show you how they’re helping you get the most competitive ad buy for your investment. Why not leverage it with everything else you’re doing?

Moz Pro - Another great online tool that provides automated keyword research, ranking analytics, page optimisation strategies, and more. It’s free for 30 days, and that may be all the time you need.

Long Tail Pro - An online platform that allows users to generate infinite numbers of long tail keywords by inputting one relevant word. There are different paid plans available, but you can get started for as little as $1.

There are many paid tools to assist you with SEO. Having a monthly subscription to each of them can get rack up a business’s marketing costs, but you can sign up for a month and extract all the data you need. Our team have access to all of the best tools, and we could crawl your website and extract the data you need. Visit the Ardor site for more information.

Key Takeaways

Know Your Keywords – Know what terms your customer is likely to use when they search for your product.

Talk To Your Customers – There are keywords in every conversation. Ask your customers how they found you and what they're seeking from you to understand the heart of their needs and desires.

Think Like A Customer – Your customer's knowledge of a product or service is different than yours. Meet them at their level and you'll understand how to reach them.

Use Keywords With Intent – Keywords like Buy Now or Affordable reflect your customer’s intent.

Long Tails Have Great Value – The more detailed and specific your keywords are, the easier it is to stand out from your competition, and the easier it is for your customers to find you.

Engaging with existing customers is a great business practice, even if you’re not yet ready to develop an SEO strategy. They provide crucial feedback about your company, and taking the time to listen to their needs shows them that you care about providing the best experience possible. Ask the right questions, and you’re well on your way to figuring out how to find the new customers who are waiting to stumble upon a business like yours. Now that you know the keywords for your business, it’s time to put them to the test.

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