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SEO 16 min read

How To Get Your Website To The Top Of SERPs Without SEO Knowledge [Ratatype's Experience]

How To Push A Website To Top 10 Without SEO Knowledge: Ratatype Experience
Дарья Пивень
Daria Piven
Product manager at
Reactor
In mid-2019, our team faced quite a complicated task: we needed to promote two new Ratatype websites in foreign markets — France and Spain, with a minimal budget. Besides, we didn't even speak the market's languages, and the websites were less than a year old when we started.

In this article, we will share a story of how we found a way to achieve this goal, as well as some actionable tips. Let's go!

Setting Goals And Devising An Action Plan

Before starting to work on a project, it's crucial to determine the primary KPIs and set achievable goals. As they say, a goal properly set is halfway reached.

At the beginning of 2019, we released two new versions of the website: Ratatype.fr and Ratatype.es. And in the year's second half, we began their optimization and promotion. It's worth noting that we didn't have any prior experience. Luckily, Serpstat helped us figure everything out.

How To Determine The Project Goals

The first step was thorough industry research and determining the target region(s). We started by answering these questions:
  • Where do we want to promote our business: just our market or also foreign markets?
  • Are there any potential customers in the region? What is the size of the target audience? Are there any local communities?
  • What are the competitors in the industry and their characteristics (distinctive features, positioning, popularity, etc.)?
You can set your goals based on the collected data and competitor analysis. For Ratatype, we aimed at 10,000 users per week for both projects.

How To Formulate A Website Optimization Plan

As we were done with goal setting, it was time to devise a specific action plan.
It's vital to focus on both the big picture and minor details, and answer the following important questions:
  • What? What are the tasks we need to complete to achieve the goal?
  • Who? Who will be responsible for which tasks? Do we need extra help and resources?
  • When? What is an appropriate timeframe for achieving the goal?
  • How much? What's the necessary budget?
Our main objective for both websites was link building and increasing traffic.

Why Did We Choose Serpstat Four Our Tasks?

We selected Serpstat because it allowed us to:
  • Speed up and automate the search for competitors in the industry;
  • Thoroughly analyze competitors' backlink profiles;
  • Analyze our backlink profile, and monitor the dynamics;
  • Collect relevant keywords that were missing on our website.
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How We Optimized and Promoted Our Websites

Since our central SEO focus was improving our websites' backlink profiles, we dedicated a significant part of our strategy to it.

How To Find Competitors In Search Results

We used two methods to find our competitors:
  • manual;
  • automatic (using Serpstat

Both methods work. However, manual search for competitors tends to be very time-consuming, and some results may inaccurate. Therefore, we prefer the latter.

Serpstat has a tool that collects any domain's relevant competitors based on the similarities in keywords. All you need to do is go to Domain Analysis → SEO Research→ Competitors, enter our domain in the search bar, and select the database and region.

Here's our list of competitors in organic search, with plenty of useful SEO metrics:
You can also check the Competitors' graph in the Domain AnalysisOverview report. It determines the relevance of competitors based on the accuracy and completeness of semantics (keywords). In other words, it's based on the similarities in their semantic structure and level of visibility in search results.
The closer on the graph the website is to yours, the more relevant of a competitor it is.
You can also run your list of websites through Similarweb to asses traffic distribution and geo.

Next, add competitors to a table with all the necessary metrics:
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How To Analyze Competitors

We take each competitor from the table and check it with Serpstat for all the main metrics. First of all, we pay attention to the key SEO indicators, which you can find in Domain Analysis → Overview Report.
Since we are focused on our link-building strategy, we'd like to analyze competitors' backlink profiles. To do this, we go to the Serpstat Backlink Analysis tool. By the way, Serpstat has its own link index, so the data on backlinks in the service is always new.

When analyzing a competitor, we try to understand its link strategy. Let's say competitors have a lot of links from forums, it means they use crowd marketing.
If they have many backlinks from site analyzers and directories, it probably means that a competitor uses cheap ways of link building.

Let's take a look at an example of how we analyze a competitor's backlink profile.
We enter a competitor's domain in the search bare, select Backlink Analysis → Referring Domains and get the list of websites that refer to it:
Next, we go to the Anchors report to see the competitor's backlink anchors. Here we can gather ideas for our own anchor list.
Then, we go to the Top pages report to see the list of competitors' pages that have the most backlinks. We analyze each successful page and try to determine the factors that led to it.
Such an analysis helps to understand what methods your competitors use to improve their rankings, as well as collect linkbuilding ideas.

How We Got Our First Backlinks

We used some cheap link-building methods, which ended up being very time-consuming.
  • Directory websites
    These are pretty much lists with websites. It is easy to find them - just search for directory submission, directory, directory list, etc. We managed to find more than a hundred of them. We checked each website and removed poop-performing ones, as a backlink from a low-quality website will do more harm than good. We also filtered out paid ones.
  • Job search websites
    You can create a company profile on such websites and leave a link to your website. We found around 50 of them.
  • Presentation Sharing
    You can get a link to your website from slide-sharing websites. To get a link, you need to make a presentation on a topic relevant to your website, and add a link to your website in the description. Then, upload the presentation to the service and make it public.
  • Social media
    We created company profiles on social media, like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
    Make the profile natural, add photos, contacts, etc.
  • Video Hosting
    It's a type of resource for downloading and watching videos. You can find them by googling video hosting, video sharing, etc. Add your videos to such sites, and leave links in descriptions.
These are just some free and easy ways to get first backlinks. If you'd like to learn more, you should definitely explore crowd marketing ;)

How We Used Outreach

Outreach is a link-building method, aimed at establishing communication, and connections with editors, website administrators, bloggers, and journalists.
  • We selected 10 quality websites for each language version of our website and sorted them by traffic;
  • We prepared email templates for each type of website and began to contact the editors to discuss link-building options;
  • For each platform we came to an agreement with, we prepared an article with a link to our website.

Personalization in Guest Blogging - From Prospecting to Publishing

Outreach doesn't have to be just for getting backlinks. If done right and on good websites, it can drive a lot of targeted traffic and lead to many conversions.

We ended up publishing on two excellent websites, with traffic of about 1 million/month each. After the publication went live, we received a lot of unexpected bonuses: additional free traffic, a boost for the brand, and a new level of website traffic in general. You can see the results yourself:

Internal Website Optimization

In terms of internal optimization, our main goal was to expand the list of keywords our website ranked for. We went with competitor keyword research — with Serpstat, we searched for keywords our competitors rank for but our website doesn't.

We already had our list of competitors, so we started analyzing each website's keyword list. To do this, we used the Serpstat Domain Analysis → SEO Research → Keywords.
Serpstat also allows you to compare up to 3 domains' keywords and find the phrases that you're missing on your website. To do that, go to Domain Analysis → SEO Research → Domain vs Domain:
In the report, we can see the intersection of keywords for three domains. Most likely, if two competitors use the same keywords that most likely, they may be suitable for our website.
After collecting the keywords and clustering them, we added the missing keywords to meta tags, alt tags, and texts. Voila! All this helped us fill the sites with more high-volume keywords.
    4
    And, of course, an accident. For example, in February, we found a sharp rise in traffic on the es-site. At first, we decided that we had a new publication with us; however, digging through the analytics, we realized that it was organic search! We found that this growth happened due to an increase in user interest in one of the promoted queries, which lasted about three days. Of course, traffic decreased, but the situation contributed to the growth of positions!

    Our Mistakes

    1
    Setting wrong goals. Before launching this project, we assumed it would be fitting to focus on our previous experience of entering the English-speaking market, which was six years old at the time.

    Therefore, we neglected such essential factors as the country population or search volume. (For instance, just the U.S. has 4 times more population than Spain and France have together). As a result, our goals were exaggerated —10K on two sites. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly research the market and competitors' experiences. Unattainable goals negatively affect the business and demotivate the team.
    2
    Link farms. At first, we couldn't find suitable sites since there were so few of them, and the links were expensive. However, after 4 months, we decided to try and selected 2 websites. When selecting, we focused on the traffic, prices, and homepage. The websites had traffic of 0.5 and 9 million per month, and the placement price was $100 and $300, respectively.
    Well, we didn't get any benefits from them.

    And here were our mistakes:

    • we didn't take into account the distribution of traffic between desktop and mobile (our primary traffic is desktop, and mobile prevailed at the websites);
    • we didn't analyze where users came from to these sites. It turned out that visitors usually came to the website using targeted keywords, rather than going to the homepage.

    Our Results

    We ended up reaching excellent results, even though we have set quite ambitious goals. So, the initial goal was 10K per week for both projects, and after implementing the strategy, we got 9K. Super impressive, given how little we knew about optimization and how many mistakes we have made — we learned a lot from them! On the graphs you can see how much we have grown over this period:
    We wanted to promote and optimize our websites — we did it! And we're still doing it.

    Thanks to this experience, we have found a mechanism, using which we can promote our new language versions. After these, each new version will be much faster and easier. This result was due to hard work, faith in the product, and Serpstat, of course.
    To keep up with all the news from the Serpstat blog, subscribe to our newsletter. Also, follows us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter ;)

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