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December 19, 2013

A Local SEO Case Study – From Nowhere to Front Page in Weeks

This is going to be different to any other post you have ever read about SEO. Not only will I be giving you the exact strategy that I used to take a client to the front page of Google, but I will be explaining my thought process behind my every action.

Although this strategy was used to rank for an area based term for a locksmith, the knowledge can be taken into any niche, regardless of how competitive it is. You will just need to scale it up a bit if you are going after something stupidly competitive.

You will literally be able to take my strategy, apply it to your niche, and rank for anything you want.

These techniques aren’t solely based upon my own knowledge. They are made up of the combined opinions of some of the most successful and advanced SEOs out there – Guys that make millions from SEO and consistently dominate the front page regardless of the latest algorithm update.

At the time of writing, my locksmith client:, has been dancing around the first page of results on Google for its primary keyword: “locksmith Bristol: And, it can be found within the top 3 positions for various secondary keywords such as “24 hour locksmith Bristol” and “emergency locksmith Bristol”

Within a couple of months, we’re pretty certain it it will hold first place positions for every single keyword I am targeting. That’s the power of using a strategy like this.

I no longer have to wonder if I will ever get there. I just have to figure out how long it will take, and how much I need to spend. After reading this, you will be able to have that type of predicted success too.

I’m holding nothing back. So go and get a notepad and pen, and let’s get started.

Link Building

I thought I would start with the links that I built because it’s always been something that SEOs crave to learn about the most. It’s also a topic that has historically been filled with bad advice from poor SEOs.

Everybody else will tell you that you need to “build relationships with people in your niche” or “write amazing content and you just rank automatically”.

It’s a load of useless information from people that aren’t getting results.

While building relationships and writing good content does have its place within SEO, it is nowhere near as necessary as people make it out to be.

When you have an established, respectable site with massive authority and constant traffic, it is indeed an important part of SEO. Your ability to write the very best content and reach out to other people in your niche will help you get to that next level.

However, there is no arguing with the fact that Google’s algorithm is massively dependent upon links. That’s something that everybody agrees on, right?

But more specifically, there are 3 basic indicators that determine the strength of a link:

  • How much authority the page has where the link is
  • Which anchor text the link was used with
  • How relevant the page/site’s content was to the “linked to” site.

So, with all that being said, what’s the easiest way to get to rank on the front page of Google?

You buy your way there.

Wait. What on earth?

Before you run off and start screaming to the SEO community that I do black hat SEO and buy links. Let me reassure you that I buy links in a very strategic way.

And just so you know, every single competitive niche out there is a buying war. It’s literally a matter of who has the most money to spend on links.

So it’s not like I’m the only person doing this. Everybody that is making serious amounts of money through SEO is doing the same thing. They just don’t shout about it.

Now I know you’re eager to take a look at some of the places I bought links from, so I’ll just jump right into that now.

A quick note on anchor text – Of course I am massively altering the anchor text that I use when building links of any kind. It’s essential to prevent your site from being slapped by Google. I often just use slight variations, synonyms, or long-tail versions of my target keyword.

So for my primary keyword: locksmith Bristol, I use things like “that locksmith in Bristol” and “Bristol Locksmith” as my anchor text. I try to never use the same anchor text twice wherever possible. Changing the capitalization of the keywords works too.

Bought Links/Directories

With my locksmith client, I started off by using majestic SEO to analyze the link profiles of my competition. I looked at the top 3 sites ranking for “locksmith Bristol” and realized that some of them were paying crazy amounts of money for directory listings in places like or

The return on investment for a listing like that isn’t really great, and I knew I would be able to find cheaper ways of slamming my site onto the front page. So I started branching out and looking at the link profiles for top sites for other keywords such as “locksmith London” and various security based sites.

As long as you analyze the link profiles of sites that are relevant to yours, it still makes sense to get links from the same places that they got links.

After my analysis, I found a number of sites that would be a powerful link source within my budget.

Here are the places that I bought links from:

  • Home page link from a great directory site: Anchor text “locksmith Bristol” $100 for 3 months. (This one link was responsible for sending the site to the front page for locksmith Bristol)
  • Directory link from another related directory: Anchor text “emergency locksmith Bristol” $55 one-off
  • Directory link from a construction directory: Anchor text “emergency locksmith Bristol” 75$ one-off.

I also went out and found a bunch of related free directory sites to submit my locksmith site. I submitted to about 10 of them.

Private Network Sites

As well as buying links from relevant sites and directories, I also created a small network of sites. I basically bought domains that had loads of links pointing to them already, and converted the sites to suit my purpose.

The trick here is that since the sites you buy already have tons of links pointing to them from other sources, that link juice is then transferred to your site when you link to it.

Make sense?

I’m not going to go into too much detail on how you can create your own network, because it would require another 4000 words worth of content. (Besides, there are plenty of great guides on the subject of blog networks if you search the web)

In a nutshell, this is what I did:

  • I used a tool called Register Compass to find a bunch of locksmith sites that were up for auction:
  • I spent about $20 on each (you can also use, which is a free alternative to Register Compass). I then installed word press and posted relevant locksmith-related content to the site, and linked to my locksmith site.

It’s also worth mentioning that I blasted the locksmith site itself with a tool called unique article wizard.

And that’s it. So in total I spent around $300 on links for a search term which will be worth around $100 a day to the locksmith.

Let’s move on to the site itself now.

On-site Optimization

Before we get into the on-site optimization for the site, I want to make something clear:

Despite what everybody in the SEO community will tell you. Google has no algorithm that analyzes your content and ranks you higher based on the quality of it.

Of course, you definitely need content on your site, ideally 400 words of content for any page you are trying to rank, and even having content on pages you aren’t trying to rank helps too.

But Google is not advanced enough to determine how well written your content is. Yes, it can see duplicate content, and it will probably come down hard on spun content soon.

But as long as the content is unique, relevant to the topic you are trying to rank for, and uses solid on-page optimization practices, it will rank.

Remarkably written content serves two purposes:

  • You are more likely to get visitors to interact/convert on your site.
  • Amazing content gets shared and linked to which will make it rank higher. (Though in most cases this still won’t happen. Nobody really shares or links to locksmith content, for example.)

While you do need content to rank, I wanted to stress that the quality of it is not nearly as important as people make it out to be.

We are ranking 1st page of Google for SEO Bristol, ahead of countless SEO agencies and freelancers, with a brand new site that has terrible content, just using the principles laid out in this post. I spent around $40 to achieve that.

Let’s get into this anyway. As I explain everything I did, you can head over to the Locksmith’s site to help you properly understand my point.

Silo Structure – You may or may not have heard of the concept of ‘siloing’. It basically involves creating posts or pages on a site, and linking back to the page of the site that you want to rank. There are more complicated ways of siloing a site, for sites that are trying to rank multiple pages, but I just needed to get the home page to rank with this site.

I got my virtual assistant to write 10 posts which all link to my home page, using a variation of anchor texts. Look at the articles to see how I constantly change the anchor text, to remove the risk of being flagged by any penalties.

You can find the articles by looking at the bottom right hand corner of the site.

Title/ Description Tags – I imagine that everybody has a pretty solid understanding of how to optimize your title and description tags for SEO. I make sure I never use my target keyword because you risk being flagged for over-optimization.

So my title says “24 Hour Emergency Locksmith in Bristol”, which includes all of my primary and secondary keywords, without being too obvious. Even if I had no secondary keywords for this site, I wouldn’t just use “locksmith Bristol” as a title. It’s far too obvious. So it’s important to change it up and make it more long tail. Don’t put phone numbers in your titles either – it reduces rankings.

My description tag is basically written to improve CTR for the site. Nothing too complicated here, I included my keywords and the phone number.

The Content Itself – Throughout the site, even though my most important keyword is “locksmith Bristol”, you will notice that I don’t really use it in that exact form often. Though, there are many mentions of locksmith + Bristol in different order. Again, this is to prevent the risk of being flagged by an algorithm update.

The important thing to notice here is the H1 and H2 tags – they help with rankings massively. Although it didn’t really make sense to have headers from a user perspective, Google looks closely at these, so they are very important. Again, I didn’t include the keywords that I am targeting in their exact form.

Also notice that underneath the content I link out to a relevant Wikipedia site on locksmithing. Sites that link out to related authority sites rank higher – try it out.

Rich Media – You have probably spotted the crazy video and the ridiculous images on the site. If it was up to me, they wouldn’t be there. Sadly, Google rewards sites that have images and youtube videos. Of course, I optimized the video and images to target my keywords.

I also used a google map listing on the contact us page of the site. It would actually help more if you put this on the home page of the site. But it didn’t really make sense to do so with this site.

Additional Points – At the bottom of the site, I also created a list of all of the areas that the locksmith works in. This helps ranks the site for any long-tail searches. I faded it out slightly by making it grey, because I don’t really want users to read it.

I also made sure I used the address of the locksmith on the home page and on the contact us page. This just helps Google verify the site, and match it up to any map listings or citations that I create.

Well that’s everything. I hope you enjoyed reading this case study and took some value out of it. All of the tactics I used can be altered slightly to fit any niche, regardless of how competitive it is. I am also confident that if you use this in an intelligent way, you will be safe from any future changes in Google for years to come.

Good luck with your SEO!


Daniel Blinman is the SEO Manager at Mesmerised With Claire Jarrett. He has worked on hundreds of client sites, and is currently setting up, to bring in a bunch of new Bristol based SEO clients.