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5 Dead-Simple SEO Hacks to Kickstart Your SEO

5 SEO Hacks to Kickstart Your SEO

SEO Hacks Explained

SEO  is a big job that’s never finished. Long hours creating and optimizing content, and then marketing your content with social media, email and link building.

SEO hacks are quick fixes that will give your content a big boost.

Here are some common SEO hacks that are easy to do and should show quick results.

ONE: Optimize Your Content with the Top 3 Content Tags

Header Tags, Subhead Tags, and Alt Tags Keywords

Google can’t read (although it’s darn close in my opinion). Google really just looks at your page and creates an algorithmic outline.

Google knows what words are important by where they are within the context of your page and what weight you give them.

You give your content weight by adding tags like the “Header Tags”, “Subhead Tags” and “Alt Tags”. Try to add your keywords to your tags where appropriate. Keep it readable, but look for places to add keywords instead of generic phrases.

There are other lesser tags, but we’re going to focus on the Top 3.

1. Header Tag with Keywords

The Header Tag describes to Google the topic of your page or post.

This header tag should always be your focus keyword.

The focus keyword for this page is “SEO Hacks”

I embedded my focus keyword in the title of this post is “5 Dead-Simple SEO Hacks to Kickstart Your SEO”.

On WordPress the “Header Tag” is also the “Title Tag”.

2. Subhead Tag with Keywords / Body Copy with Keywords

Subhead Tags keywords should be keyword variations on your focus keyword.

Here are some keywords we’ll weave into the Subhead Tags and body copy on this page. I underlined the keywords in red in the post to illustrate how this works.

  • SEO Hacks
  • SEO Hacker
  • Common SEO Hacks
  • SEO Hacks Explained
  • WordPress SEO Hacks

(I’m using keyword variations I found using Google’s Keyword Planner and Google AutoSuggest)

3. Alt Tags with Keywords

Alt Tags are descriptions added to the image, but are not visible to the visitor unless the image doesn’t load. The Alt Tag tells Google what the image is and how it’s relevant to the page.

Use Alt Tags to Describe Image in Context of Page

This Alt Tag for this image is “Use Alt Tags to Describe Image in Context of Page”. This tells Google that the image is about “Alt Tag Usage”.

This is how the Alt Tag for this image looks in the code for the page.

SEO Hacks Alt Tags Source Code

TWO: Add Outbound Links

We all know that backlinks (inbound links) very important for SEO. Google sees people linking back to your website as a vote of confidence for your content, and establishes you as an authority.

But Google also knows that authority websites will talk about other websites and link out to them (outbound links).

Be sure to include outbound links (where appropriate) in your content.

John Bolyard SEO Tech Byte Logo

Be sure that most of your outbound links are “nofollow” links.

Every link going out from your website leaks a little “link juice”, which means that it takes a bit of value away from your website and adds it to the website you linked to.

Adding a “nofollow” to some of your outgoing links will tell Google not to follow the link. This keeps the value of your content on your website.

This is what the code looks like for a “nofollow” link.

SEO Hack Nofollow Link
As Matt Cutts said, the point is not to look natural but be natural. So don’t “nofollow” all the outbound links. Add “nofollow” to large websites that don’t need the help like Amazon, Facebook, Forbes etc.

THREE: Optimize Your Images with Image Compression

Compressed image: on the right is the original, on the left is compressed. No visible image loss and the image was compressed to 24% of it's original size.

Compressed image: on the left is the original, on the right is compressed. No visible image loss and the image is 76% smaller than the original.

One of the easiest SEO hacks you can do is image compression.

Image size has a real impact how fast your websites loads. This is important because, for Google, it’s “Mobile First”.

If your page is not fast on phones, Google will likely drop you in the rankings in favor of other websites that load faster.

How to optimize an image with compression.

First, resize all your images to be as small as possible. If your website page is 700 pixels wide then all your images should be no wider than 700 pixels.

If you have a slider, keep the images to the width of the slider and not larger, typically 1080 pixels.

Then compress these images with compression software once they are at their optimal size.

There are two reasons for this.

If the image is too big it takes longer to load a larger image, and then it will take additional time to resize the image before it’s delivered to the page.

After you have sized the images you should compress them with image compression software. I’ve listed two of my favorites in the resources section at the bottom.

You can compress typical images up to 80% or more without any visible quality loss.

How this speeds up your site.

If you have 3 images on your page for a total of 900KB, you can compress those images to under 150KB. If your total page size is 2.4 MB and you reduce the overall size to 1.65MB, you’ll speed up your page delivery by 31%. That is definitely worth the time it takes to compress your images.

FOUR: Streamline Your Page Layout and Formatting

SEO Hack Format for Phones

Phones have changed the way web pages are laid out visually.

Your content should be engaging but laid out so that it can be read easily on a phone.

Here are some new guidelines to make your content look good on all devices.

Basic NEW Rules of Web Page Design

1. Keep the font size to a maximum of 3 sizes. Header, subhead and body copy.

Header <h1>

Subhead <h2>

Body Copy <p>

2. Avoid wrapping text around images. Text won’t wrap around an image on a phone so make the image full width.

3. Use a san serif typeface. Serif type can be difficult to read on a small device such as a phone.

4. Use a line spacing value of 150% to 180% of the type size. Again, this will make your content easier to read on phones.

5. Don’t use a value less than 80% black for your type. It’s too light to read on computers and devices.

6. Don’t use light type on a dark background unless there is a really good reason.

7. Design a format then stick to it.

An important formatting hack!

Don’t use solid black for your font color. Use a value of 85% to 90% black to hide the jagged edges on the curves of your typeface.

The image below is blown up to 500%. You can see the edges at 100% black are much more jagged in appearance and makes the text harder to read. I like to use 85% to 90% black because it still has clear edges but the jagged areas are much softer.

SEO Hacks Simple Layout and Format

FIVE: Add Caching to Your Website for Faster Page Delivery

Google’s all about speed. Your website needs to load fast to keep your visitor interested. Google knows this and won’t deliver websites that are slow to load.

Caching stores a copy of your rendered page.

SEO Hack Cache Caching
Most pages have dozens even up to 100+ different elements that have to be delivered before the visitor can see the page.

Web caching stores the completely rendered page and sends it immediately to the visitors device. A cached page uses less bandwidth and loads much faster because the complete page is ready to deliver when called.

Easy WordPress SEO Hack

An easy WordPress SEO hack is adding a caching plugin. I use WP Super Cache on my site, but W3 Total Cache is also good. Before you install a caching plugin check to see if there are any compatibility issues with your theme or your other plugins.

If you’re not on WordPress and your hosting service has caching be sure it’s enabled. Check with your host if you’re not sure.

Just a note of caution: caching will deliver the most recently cached page but not necessarily the newest page. When you update a page, your caching software should recognize this and deliver the new page. Sometimes this doesn’t happen. You can monitor this by making some changes and then Googling your page. Check your settings if you’re still getting the old page.

If you’re using WordPress and you are getting old pages, login to your site and delete the old cache in the settings of your plugin. This will allow your plugin to store the new pages as they are called.

If you’re using the caching service on your hosting provider and you’re seeing old pages contact support and ask them how to flush the old pages.

Resources for this page:

Stock Photos




Image Compression


WordPress Caching Plugins

WP Super Cache

W3 Total Cache

Graphics TechByte Logo

NOTE: all the resources we list are free unless indicated.

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10 Google Updates That Will Make or Break Your SEO in 2017

SEO in 2017 will be a game changer. Google’s algorithm is now changing in real time and will push back on what worked in 2016.

Here’s what’s happening for 2017:

1. RankBrain: The Machines are Taking Over

Google Machine Learning RankBrain AI

“Machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing,” said Google’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai on the company’s earnings call.

RankBrain was used initially to answer about 15% of the searches where the website pages didn’t have the exact phrase or words searched for.

Since RankBrain was added to the algorithm in 2016 it is now used in every search, not just the unique 15%.
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San Fernando Valley WordPress Meetup Outline – Nov 1 – 2016

Please feel free to shoot me any additional topics  you’d like to talk about at our meetup.

See you on Tuesday!

Download (PDF, 893KB)

Basic and Advanced Google Analytics Workshop Class Outline

John Bolyard SEO Google Analytics Workshop

Here is the course outline of our “Basic and Advanced Google Analytics” Workshop.

Part 1: Google Analytics Basics

Part 1 Outline: “Basic and Advanced Google Analytics” Workshop


In the workshop you will learn:

  1. Why you need Google Analytics and how it can help you.
  2. The most important data in Google Analytics.
  3. Understand your visitors and how to improve engagement on your website.
  4. How to use Google Analytics to develop and improve your online marketing.
  5. How to use Google Analytics for content generation.



Why you need Google Analytics and how it can help you.

  1. Google Analytics lets you track and revise your marketing based on real data about your visitors.
  2. When people visit your website Google Analytics tracks what they do as they move through your website.
  3. You can get insights into your visitors and see what pages they visited, how long they stayed, what they did and when they left.
  4. This tracking data will show you what’s working (and what’s not) and where your website and marketing strategy needs improvement.



The most important data in Google Analytics.

  1. Audience Overview – Who are your visitors
    Audience Overview >
  2. Acquisitions – Where did your visitors come from
    Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
  3. Behavior – What did they do when they got to your site
    Behavior > Site Content > All Pages


Understand your visitors and how to improve engagement on your website.

  1. Dashboard on the left
  2. Graphs on the top right
  3. Table data below the graphs



How to use Google Analytics to develop and improve your online marketing.

  1. Set up goals URL’s to track success such as “Thank You for Your Order” or “Thanks for Subscribing”
  2. Track and improve top performing pages  
  3. Monitor your traffic flow for “road blocks” and “stop signs”
  4. Connect your analytics with Google Search Console to get detailed data on keyword value
  5. Table data below the graphs



How to use Google Analytics for content generation.

  1. Find the top content on your website.
  2. Use this to develop a content strategy that caters to what t\o your audience wants.
  3. Focus on creating complementary content that can increase user engagement and site time.
  4. Share posts, pictures, video on social media on the respective channels that are sending the most traffic.



The Google Analytics Dashboard: An Overview


We’re looking for the following metrics:

  1. Audience [1]
  2. Acquisition [2]
  3. Behavior [3]
  4. Mobile [4]


John Bolyard SEO Google Analytics



Intelligence Events

Real Time

 [1] Audience: Who your visitors are

       > Mobile  [4]

 [2] Acquisition: How you got your visitors

 [3] Behavior: What are you visitors doing

  User Flow is excellent to visualize how your visitors
are moving/stopping/leaving your site.




Most Important Data in Google Analytics

The Top Reports

  1. Audience Overview – Who are your visitors
    Audience Overview >
  2. Acquisitions – Where did your visitors come from
    Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
  3. Behavior – What did they do when they got to your site
    Behavior > Site Content > All Pages





John Bolyard SEO Google Analytics

John Bolyard SEO Google Analytics

John Bolyard SEO Google Analytics

Part 2: How to Navigate Individual Metrics


Date Range

  1. You can change the date range. This lets you see a more historic view.
  2. Select an entire month by clicking on the month
  3. Compare custom date ranges to get the weeks lined up.
  4. You can view hourly, by the day, the month and the year.
  5. If you view hourly you can see if you are getting spikes during the day.
  6. You can view the different metrics in the larger view by clicking on the graph below the metric.
  7. Great comparisons are date comparisons. If you want to compare days of the week you need to select custom date ranges. If you select monthly, you’ll see all the metrics combined to compare.
  8. This will show the most accurate graph.


Analytics Education


Explorer Tab: Audience > Geo > Location


Line Chart View


Line Chart View and Motion Chart View

  1. Audience > Geo > Location
  2. Directly to the right of the “Explorer” Tab


Data Table

  1. The actual numbers below the graphs
  2. You can select specific countries


Display Buttons

  1. Table Display Buttons on the right of the “Secondary Dimension”


From the Explorer Tab


Compare Two Metrics / Sessions vs Bounce Rate

  1. All reports can be exported and/or saved.


Compare Two Dimensions / City vs Landing Page

  1. All reports can be exported and/or saved.


Add Segments

  1. Add multi-session users


Use Annotations!!

  1. Add events that will impact your analytics. Speech bubble will appear.

Part 3: Reports – Dimensions and Metrics


  1. Audience > Geo > Location
  1. All reports in Google Analytics are made up of dimensions and metrics.
  1. Dimensions are in Blue and Metrics are in Green
  1. Dimensions are characteristics or specific elements tracked by Google Analytics, like sessions, actions, locations; ie: what we are talking about.
  1. Metrics are the numbers and values associated with those characteristics or parts.
  1. We can drill into the dimensions and get more specific metrics. For example, if you drill into the “Location” dimension, you can change from the broader country dimension, to city, or going further down, to the local metro area.
  1. By drilling into more specific dimensions, you get very detailed information about how your visitors are using your site.


Additional Metric / Secondary Dimension:

  1. Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Referral | TAB: Secondary Metric > New User | TAB: Secondary Dimension > Landing Page


Part 4: The most important data in Google Analytics


The Top Reports

  1. Audience Overview – Who are your visitors
  1. Audience Overview > 
  1. Acquisitions – Where did your visitors come from
  1. Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
  1. Behavior – what did they do when they got to your site
  1. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

Part 5: Get to Know Your Customers


Get to know who your customers are so we can start to find out what are the best metrics for you.

  1. Local
  2. Gender
  3. Age
  4. New vs Returning
  5. “Call to Action”
  6. Landing Pages / Important Pages

Part 6: Let’s  start at the  Audience > Overview



Audience Overview is a quick snapshot of how your website is doing.


There are eleven individual reporting sections under the Audience section in your Google Analytics Dashboard.

Each reporting section includes a table chart and sessions graph which shows the acquisition, behavior and conversions data for each group.

Overview: A top-down view of visitor metrics

Active Users: 

Cohort Analysis: (Beta)

Demographics: The gender and age of your visitors

Interests: Segmented visitor behaviors by marketing and affinity categories

Geo: Locations and languages of your visitor

Behavior: New and returning visitors compared, how much time visitors spend on your site, and how frequently visitors return.

Technology: The operating systems, browsers and networks of your visitors

Mobile: A list of the devices used to access your site

Custom: Specific reports defined by you

Benchmarking: Channels Locations Devices / how you fit into your industry

Users Flow: A visual representation of how visitors utilized your site


Audience Overview

There are 8 basic metrics that tell us a lot about how we are doing.

  1. Sessions
  2. Users
  3. Pageviews
  4. Pages / Sessions
  5. Avg. Session Duration
  6. Bounce Rate
  1. A bounce is a visit with a single engagement HIT.
  2. Good: A bounce rate between 45% and 56% is good.
  3. Concern: A bounce rate of 80% or higher lets you know people are clicking on your website but not staying. You need to find out why.
  4. A bounce rate of under 20% usually means that your analytics is not set up right. You need to check into this.
  1. % New Sessions
  2. Returning VS New


Audience > Demographics > Overview

  1. This report will show you age and gender. Use a larger date range to get a better overall picture of the demographics of your visitors.


Audience > Demographics > Age


Audience > Demographics > Gender


Audience > Interests > Overview


Audience > Geo > Overview > Language


Audience > Geo > Location

Audience > Geo > Location > Country > City > Metro > Other

  1. You can drill into the map to see where your visitors are coming from.


Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning

  1. New visitors are getting a first impression of your site and they don’t know how to navigate your site. This shows you how your site is performing.


Audience > Behavior > Frequency & Recency


Audience > Behavior > Engagement

  1. Session Duration and Page Depth. You can hover over the bar graph to see what is the percent of the metric.
  2. Add some segments to see how you can understand the data to help you improve your website conversions.


Audience > Technology > Browser & OS

  1. It’s important to know what browsers and operating systems your visitors are using. Your site should look good in the browsers that are bringing you the most traffic.


Audience > Technology > Network


Audience > Mobile > Overview


Audience > Mobile > Devices


Audience > Custom > Custom Variables

  1. Custom reports are user defined. You determine the variables, metrics and dimensions for your report.


Audience > Benchmarking > Channels


Audience > Benchmarking > Location


Audience > Benchmarking > Devices


Audience > Users Flow

  1. You can view your visitors flow through your site based on location, language, mobile device browser etc.
  1. It’s a great way to see which pages work and which pages don’t.


You can email or export the data.

Part 7: Next, Let’s go to  Acquisition > Overview



There are six individual reporting sections under the Acquisition section in your Google Analytics Dashboard.

Overview: A top-down view of visitor metrics

All Traffic: How your visitors arrived at your site

AdWords: Specific to AdWords

Search Engine Optimization: Queries  / Landing Pages / Geo

Social: Data on visitors from social media

Campaigns: The metric we use here is “Organic Keywords”


Acquisition > Overview



  1. Top Channels
  2. Sessions
  3. Conversions

Table Data:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Behavior
  3. Conversions


Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels

  1. Secondary metric
  2. Secondary dimension
  3. Valuable to compare date ranges


Acquisition > All Traffic > Treemaps (AdWords)


Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium

  1. Secondary metric – “Hostname” shows spam


Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals (Red Flag!)

  1. Here is where you’re going to find spam


Acquisition > AdWords


Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries

  1. Queries are the actual search terms, we optimize for “keywords” but our visitors use “queries”


Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Landing Pages

  1. Really good way to know if our website is working well.


Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Geographical Summary

  1. Where are our visitors geographically


Acquisition > Social > Overview


Acquisition > Social > Data Hub Activity


Acquisition > Social > Trackbacks

  1. Shows you who has talked about you. Get in touch, say thanks, ask for backlink.


Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords

  1. Shows some keywords used to find your site


Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords: TAB – Not Provided

  1. Google Webmaster Tools > Search Traffic > Search Analytics

Part 8: Lastly, the Behavior Metric



The behavior reports let us know how often a visitor uses your site, how long visitors stay on your site, how many days between each visit on average for repeat visitors, and how many pages they visit per session.


Behavior > Overview


Behavior > Behavior Flow


Picture 31.png

100% Dropoff from the home page.

No visitor clicked into the website.

Problem turned out to be the dropdown navigation wasn’t clickable.


Behavior > Site Content > All Pages


Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages


Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages


Behavior > Site Speed > Overview


Behavior > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions


Behavior > Site Search > Overview


Behavior > Events Overview  (


Behavior > Publisher Overview (AdWords)


Behavior > Experiments


Behavior > In-Page Analytics


A quick note about Conversions. 20 goals per profile.


Part 9: How to control spam.



Why and when to use filters in Google Analytics


Application of predefined filters


Setting up filters to block spam

Part 10: Understand your visitors and how to improve engagement on your website.


  1. Behavior > Behavior Flow
  2. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  3. Behavior > Site Search > Overview

How to use Google Analytics to develop and improve your online marketing.

Part 11: How to use Google Analytics to develop and improve your online marketing.


  1. Set up goals URL’s to track success such as “Thank You for Your Order” or “Thanks for Subscribing”
  1. Conversions > Goals > Overview
  1. Track and improve top performing pages  
  1. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  1. Monitor your traffic flow for “road blocks” and “stop signs”
  1. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  2. Navigation Summary

         Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.02.35 AM.png

  1. Table data below the graphs
  2. Connect your analytics with Google Search Console to get detailed data on keyword value


Part 12: How to use Google Analytics for content generation.


  1. Find the top content and under performing content on your website.
  1. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  1. Use this to develop a content strategy that caters to what your audience wants.
  2. Focus on creating complementary content that can increase user engagement and site time.
  3. Share posts, pictures, video on social media on the respective channels that are sending the most traffic.
  4. Monitor your search traffic
  1. Behavior > Site Search > Overview

  Backlinks: Build a Backlink Program

  1. Directories / master list (not vetted)

  1. Competitors Backlinks
  2. Great content that you tweet/share/pin that others add to their site (difficult)
  3. Existing mentions without backlinks
  1. example /
  1. Commenting
  1. Google alerts
  1. Add a bit of content to your website about someone you want a backlink from. Tweet/share/pin the content and shoot them an email and show them the content and the social you’ve added.
  1. “Hi [name], we cited your cool product in our infographic on your niche. Do you think this would be of interest to your readers?”

Backlink DO’s

  1. Monitor your backlinks /
  2. Use the Webmaster Tools “Disavow Tool” to “unclaim” bad links
  1. use with care – don’t disavow good link

Backlink DON’TS

  1. No reciprocal backlinks
  2. Don’t buy backlinks
  3. Don’t list in spammy link directories – example: 
  1. you’ll get picked up by other spam directories
  1. Google Link Penalties are very difficult to remove

Picture 23.png

Questions about the workshop? Please contact us and we’ll get right back to you!

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Website Design: Freelancer or Agency

Freelancer or Agency?

John Bolyard Website Design Freelancer vs Agency

Freelancers are usually able to do two or three functions of a design agency and have a cadre of contractors to call upon when they need elements outside of their skillset.
Freelancers usually don't have project managers so you deal directly with the designer.
When you hire an agency the costs will generally be higher as you are getting their whole team managed by a project manager dedicated to your website project.
Less overhead allows freelancers to charge less. Rates vary from as little as $25/hour to more than $180+/hour.
Keep in mind that you might pay more in the end to freelancers who charge by the hour instead of a fixed project price.
In general, prices are higher than freelancers. Rates can vary widely from $85/hour to upwards of $350+/hour.
Agencies will create an overall scope of work with a budget.
Agencies will also stick more closely to the scope of work and be much less flexible when you want changes that are not in the original budget.
The experience of freelancers can vary widely. It's best to use a freelancer that comes recommended by someone who has had personal experience with him or her.
Agencies will typically have more consistent quality although not necessarily better.
Freelancers aren’t always full-time and can be working on multiple projects at once.
Agencies generally take longer, due to multiple layers in the organization.
Freelancers tend to have experience in one or two areas and rely on colleagues to fill in the experience gaps.
Most agencies consist of five or more employees and it’s more likely you’ll find a broader range of experience across multiple specialties.
Generally, you’ll have direct communication with the person developing your website.
Agencies generally have project managers that filter all your information going back and forth.
While this method keeps track of all the information, information can get muddled as it passes along the design chain.

Need Help With a New Website? Let's Talk!

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