Ranking an SEO company in Toronto – North York Canada

 In Web

Well it’s not the hardest type of website get great Google rankings on …but ranking an SEO company is pretty tough. If you take a look at the website content and the back-links of say the top ranked websites for a search like “Toronto SEO company” or “North York SEO company” you will see a mixed bag of strategies used for both.

Search results for Toronto SEO CompanySearch results on google for Toronto SEO Company

Now consider that some sites have a fully developed content structure with years of great, valuable content.  Some not so much.  Yet they are both competing well for productive search phrases.  How is this possible? It’s complicated and Google has made it that way.

Want to know more about Google’s algorithm and the ongoing patent applications that keep them ahead of the pack? Bookmark Bill Slawski’s blog http://www.seobythesea.com/ he devotes his writing to the more technical moves Google makes.

*Why do I only mention Google? Because for the vast majority of Canadian businesses and searchers, Google is the only search engine that matters. There are benefits to focusing on Bing and Yahoo as well but in my experience only larger businesses with well developed campaigns give either of these search engines any attention.

Search engine market share Canada 2016*Image source – http://www.experian.com/marketing-services/online-trends-canada.html

Why is Google’s Search engine algorithm so complex now? Well it started because SEO’s have been gaming the system since way back – I started in 2003 and it was waaaaayyyy easier to rank a website then. In 2016 ranking even a local dentist website on the 1st page for standard dentistry terms is challenging and takes time.  Now consider trying to rank a search engine optimization company website in the most competitive city in Canada AND against the toughest competitors in the market.  It takes a solid SEO understanding and a lot of work.

That said, the complexity of the algorithm has made search results better and much more accurate.  Google’s constant push to provide the best results for a search have produced a ranking system that is much harder to game and comes with penalties for those businesses that do and get caught.  With many businesses getting a majority of their sales online or through an online search, getting penalized can hurt a business’s bottom line.  That’s why many clients now know that organic or Whitehat SEO is what they need.

Google has a clear set of rules that if broken can hurt your business.  Those rules do allow for heavy promotion you just need to be smart, creative and most important you need to know your audience inside and out.

As Google says about SEO – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en

The algorithm is complex but single minded – it’s a “Search Engine” and it’s product is answers.  Google has an undying need to produce the best, most accurate, most valuable answers. Why? Because by providing the absolute best answers to searchers questions, it creates a massive, trusted advertising channel that earns Google a lot of money.  74.5 Billion in revenue for 2015.

Want to know how complex it will be in the future? Their newly released RankBrain algo uses AI to filter and provide search results.

So with all of the Google improvements and complexity, how do you rank a Search Engine Optimization company in Toronto and North York?

Well beyond the usual SEO website improvements like load time improvement, good content structure, domain history etc.  There are a few strong cards in the deck so to speak that a webmaster can use to push their site up in the rankings.

Strategies that are not recommended but still works to some degree:

PBN’s or a personal blog network.  While against Google rules and absolutely cheating, they still work until Google identifies them.  While researching this post I identified multiple successful websites that have PBN’s helping to powering their rankings.
You could buy valuable links from other websites. This one is a real issue for Google as some of these transactions are hard or impossible to detect.  I’m not referring to the sites that offer to sell link positions on behalf of websites but more a direct connection to the outbound websites owner. If undetected and done right this technique can lead to solid ranking improvements.

You could use “User Metric Manipulation”.  It would need another full post to explain but it essentially mimics natural search and engagement on your site from the search results to increase your CTR or click through rate which is now tied to ranking. This process came out as a way to game the fix that Google used to stop link gaming.

Now for the recommended:

Content marketing – if you understand the buying personas that relate to your business and your website you can create a content marketing campaign that provides valuable content that speaks to and engages them.  Content marketing is a science in its own and too diverse to cover here. SEO’s typically setup blogging campaigns and churn out cheaply written posts covering a spread of content about SEO.  Some of the industry leading SEO Agencies likehttp://www.6smarketing.com/blog/  and http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog utilize better writers and campaign planning to produce great content.  Learn more about content marketing

Quality Link Building – this technique is tedious, time consuming and still the #1 way to top rankings .  Finding high-quality links is tough and when you realize how many companies are looking for those same links it becomes very competitive. Unless you are creative and find a way to develop those quality links.

For example I worked with a Mississauga Ontario Piano store last year that had a brand new site and few inbound links.  During our monthly meeting I was waiting for the owner and talking to the companies piano tuner.  Apparently being a great piano tuner makes you very sought after – who knew.  Anyway during our conversation I found out that this tuner provided tuning services to the Sony center, Toronto Philharmonic even travelling musicians visiting Toronto like Elton John trusted him to tune their pianos.   He was also a very like-able guy – gregarious with a positive attitude all the time. Offline social skills help.

So I asked – do you think you could speak to the staff in charge of the websites and possibly get a link back?” I didn’t think he would get far – I was wrong.  In fact he garnered 35 links from highly related and more authoritative sites in the Toronto area. As the owner Willem said “My ranking skyrocketed within 6 months”.  I wish I could take all the credit for his miraculous gain in ranking (#1 in Toronto and Mississauga for 5 of his key searches)  but it was the luck of that conversation + the tuners hard work.

So the short version be creative in thinking about where you get your inbound links.  They don’t always have to be time consuming and challenging to get.

As a postscript to this story – 1 year after getting those links for his Mississauga site, the owner decided to pick up and move to the Philippines.  He opened a new store in Manila and asked me how we were going to rank him there.  He purchased a new domain and I did one thing – I used a 301 redirect from his Mississauga website to his pianos.ph domain.  Within 60 days he ranked well across his target keywords in Manila . Quality links are valuable – don’t mess it up.


Innovative Social Media – do you remember when flash mobs 1st started showing up in Canada.  One of the 1st was a Christmas flash mob at the Seaway Mall’s Food Court in Welland, Ontario, Canada.  It hit the news, it hit social media and because of the attention it created, Alphabet Photography was featured by hundreds of major media outlets including: CNN, Good Morning America, The View, Inside Edition, eTalk and ABC World News, to name a few..  Many outlets that ran the story also linked to the Alphabet website.  A lifetimes worth of quality links created with one inexpensive event.

Yes I know that one would be tough to beat but it’s a great example of creative website promotion within the rules of Google. I might mention it was also done by the owner of the company without outside help.  She also improved on that presence by meeting Beyonce and Jay-Z at Pearson airport with a gifted picture which also hit the news.  And just to make things interesting she was able to provide one of her images as a wedding present for Prince William and Kate Middleton.  There’s even more buzz for them here – http://www.alphabetphotography.com/media.aspx

Outlinking – while not as well used as some of the other techniques, it has proven to be a successful and should be part of any on-page SEO program.  It requires finesse and the ability to seek out authority sites for the discussed topic.  That said, it works very well.  Learn more about this SEO technique here.

Back to the mixed bag of SEO companies in Toronto ranking for their target phrases.

While most SEO companies have or are updating their techniques to be less spammy and not include PBN’s and weak links, most of the websites I looked at are in a state of change – somewhere in between the old techniques of bulk link building and weak content and the new techniques of quality link building and great content.

So ranking a website in Toronto for “Toronto SEO Company” would require:

  • Great Content – think “Best in Class”.
  • Innovative Link Building with careful attention to topic relevance, authority and placement.
  • Social – while not necessary to rank well, a well run social marketing campaign can contribute to good rankings and act as sales generation channel on its own.
  • Solid On-Page SEO that includes Outlinking – a favorite of mine because it just makes sense.  Outlinking an SEO company website to related authoritative sites in a way that supports your content allows you to provide the best answers to your users and give them more information sources – essentially helping Google deliver on its aim to provide the best answers for users.

To be continued…

Mike Childs

Digital Strategist

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