Yes, I am the same Steven Peter Burke pictured in the two business magazines on this web page, and I have a shocking story about why I was forced to learn SEO in 2003.
Before I share the short version of that story, let me share with you that I am writing this for four reasons:
- To rank this page on Google and help rank this site for SEO Toronto and other keywords, and;
- For you to briefly get to know what happened to Steven Peter Burke as an entrepreneur and how we decided to start We Do your Blogging and SEO for you™ as co-founders, and;
- To rank Steven Peter Burke as an SEO Expert. That will take time and lots of additional content.
- To give you a totally unique viewpoint on SEO. It helps when the person you follow is not just providing SEO services but also ranking niche sites for themselves outside of SEO.
Content creation (mainly blogs) and optimizing that content (SEO) is proven to generate lots of new business (through your website & Google My Business). Simply put, much more profit is generated than it costs to do. So, please, do not skip this even if you do not hire us or someone to help.
It is time-consuming to create content and optimize it. That is part of why business owners outsource this work to people that already excel at it. The other part of this is it is also time-consuming to become proficient at SEO, and some people struggle to write their own content for their own business.
Like me, they are not natural writers. Unlike me, they have not practised enough to consider doing their own writing. But that does not mean they cannot rank their site because this work can be outsourced.
If it is done right — in-house or outsourced — you will get more of your fair share of people searching for what you do (and much more than you do now). But without CONTENT & SEO, the people looking for what you do will find your competition.
Quite likely, they are finding your competitors now. But you do not feel that pain because you do not know it!
In other words, it is decision time. Get someone to do it or do it yourself. Which is it going to be?
Steven Peter Burke is an Entrepreneur
SEO has been integral in my life for a long time. In fact, it has been almost 19 years since I started studying it.
Though I have many entrepreneurial achievements, these are a few that apply to SEO and digital marketing;
You can see how Ann cut the image into three pieces so pieces would load more quickly. After all, people were still using dial-up Internet connections in those days.
Google Search Algorithm Update
I should probably thank Google for where I am today too.
If they had not dropped the ball in 2003, I might have never really taken a hard look at SEO. But they did, and I did, so now I can offer you 20 years of SEO experience plus 25 years of marketing know-how and expertise.
Yes, the first of the two separate incidents I call “The darkest days in my entrepreneurial career” forced me to study SEO seriously. That day was November 16, 2003 — just before the Christmas sales flush that entrepreneurs need badly.
In reality, Google messed up. At least, we would hope that what resulted from their update was not what they intended!
Why did the release of their first significant search algorithm update blowback on them? Because in an attempt to downgrade early Black Hat SEO (tricks used to rank on Google), they dropped the ranking of many legit businesses too!
The mistake became known as “the false positive.” This resulted from errors in Google’s newly released search logic that flagged businesses as offenders when they were not using questionable SEO tricks.
Can you imagine? All that Christmas stock was paid for with the expectation of earning the most significant profits of the year, and the bottom fell out of the search market!
Thankfully, there have been no repeats of that fateful day ever since.
So, as I have said, I was one of the entrepreneurs that got hurt that day. Though I got lucky, many ceased to rank in the top 100 on Google!
Anyway, the next day my site went from #1 in its niche to #3. And, though being ranked #3 on Google might sound attractive to you, my site lost three-quarters of the opt-ins!
Today, such a ranking drop on Google would not have the same effect, though it would still be significant. But, back then, this is almost precisely what happened.
Weathering the storm
About 9 weeks after I discovered the change in my site’s ranking, I was digging for new business on the phone. In a matter of days, I found Home Business Journal and talked to the publisher. Because of the previous magazine article and the database we owned, they were more than willing to feature me in their magazine!
So, Steven Peter Burke ended up on the cover of a newsstand business magazine in February of 2004 (image below). This was a big deal as it had North American wide distribution!
Though I was still hurting from the roll-out of Google’s algorithm update, this lifted my spirits and business profits.
My deal with the magazine was I would promote a free 2-issue subscription to build their database. And I ended up on the cover (see below)!
Black Hat SEO
It was a while before Google got a handle on Black Hat SEO, but they eventually did.
A solid post on Forbes takes a fairly deep dive into what Black Hat SEO looked like. Sadly, we can still see a few remnants of it, but sites that employ such tactics now incur a Google penalty for this stupidity.
These days all it takes is more quality, optimized content with backlinks pointing to your content plus a social media presence that promotes this content to outrank your competition. But, back in the day, silly tricks worked.
In the post linked to the first paragraph on this page, I delve into some of the many tricks Black Hat SEO practitioners play. Thankfully, they no longer work.
Of course, if you want to rank locally, you also need to employ Local SEO, which means you need a Google My Business listing. But we will delve into that in another post.
Ranking #1 on Google
I am not the Smiling Steve of Minecraft refers to a post I wrote about a character in a video game released in 2011. For some reason, Minecraft still has a powerful cult following today, even though the graphics are nowhere near current standards.
The fact that Minecraft and its Smiling Steve skin or character exist and that I did not know about when I created a fictional hero of the same name for one series of entrepreneurial books I had planned was a challenge.
How would I get ranked #1 on Google for that keyword phrase when I began nearly 10 years later? Considering that this game is still popular, the task was daunting.
So, I did the research. And I figured out what it would take so I would not have to rewrite the book with another character name and recreate the website under a new brand.
The answer? Simple. Optimize the site and write 26 pieces of reasonably high-quality content. Then, add about 6 months and bingo, I had a number one ranking.
I did not even run a campaign to seek backlinks for my content. Why? Because I did not have to (and I was busy converting the book to ePUB format).
When you combine searches in Canada and the U.S. on Google, ranking #1 for that keyword brings a very modest organic volume of about 15 visitors daily. Not much, but I could not start marketing the book until I ranked very high.
If I did not rank #1, the book that portrays me as a back-end marketing guru would not be believable, let alone be impressive.
The issue or concern I had with my book was Google. What happens when book buyers and prospective book buyers search Google to check out the author? Considering this was something I wanted to happen, I had a challenge on my hands.
If my site appeared on page 2 of Google search results, I would not look like I knew marketing at all, would I?
Then what chance did I have of realizing the back-end of writing and selling the book? I could not see myself gaining as many clients without this proof source and believability.
The mission was accomplished recently when the site appeared on Google as #1. But it started on Page 2 and only climbed to #2 a full 5 months after I created the content!
That is what it takes to reach the top spot on Google.
I will write a post on the details of this, including other people who appeared above my site initially. One owns 3 pharmacies in the U.S. and goes by the name Smiling Steve.
Anyway, finally, my book marketing can begin.
The secrets in that book definitely apply to Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. And, should you choose to do some PPC, you might find that book and its author, Steven Peter Burke, a great resource.
Do you think?
PPC ads are one way to increase business and profits fast. They do not return anywhere near as well as the pairing of SEO and Content Creation, but the results happen much quicker.
SEO and Content Creation, which is mostly blogging, take 6 months to a year to really start to reflect in your bank account. Whereas a PPC ad campaign can do that in 6 weeks.
However, that assumes the ad campaign works early in its testing. If the testing requires 6 weeks to get it right, you might be 12 to 15 weeks to really make money from PPC.
Entrepreneurs don’t bat an eyelid at 15 weeks when they have decades to scale up advertising. But, if they don’t know what SEO and blogging can do for them, they will advertise for a very long time and never realize that Google wants to steer customers to them for free!
I caution you. Please reserve some or all of your budget for content creation and optimization plus on-site SEO (mostly one time). And, if local rank matters, also for Local SEO (Google My Business).
The ROI fr0m SEO
Why go out of pocket on SEO expenses with an SEO Expert? SImple. Investing in SEO is the best way to get an income forever (or decades) that this entrepreneur has ever seen. And, though ads work, they do not produce the same residual benefit.
Well, a massive ad campaign will build an extensive marketing list, and list marketing pays off over a long time but the SEO you do this year grows your list for years and even decades.
These are the key reasons why my partner and I started this business. We can balance PPC with SEO and get both a short-term and long-term pay-off that is very attractive.
We Do Your Blogging & SEO For You is your secret weapon. And we intend to make sure you see a quick ROI and, from there on, much larger profits than you have now.
Hire an SEO Expert
You need to know that I never took my eye off SEO since “the update that changed SEO forever.“
The fact that you are not familiar with optimizing a web page or website is a challenge at this point in this blog post.
It makes it challenging for you and your author (Steven Peter Burke). How will you figure out if We do your Blogging & SEO for you™ is a mind-blowing company that can help you?
I’ve had time to think about this and I believe I came up with an exciting solution.
Now is when I get to tell you that I am not all impressed with the SEO industry in Toronto, as you will see in a minute.
So how do you know if those who offer SEO services are capable? Well, you could easily see their flaws if they were not managing SEO on their own site, right?
I mean, why hire an SEO Expert that cannot or does not keep their own site in excellent working order? I wouldn’t.
You don’t have to do what I suggest. Instead, you could read posts online about how to hire an SEO Expert. But then you would be relying on a non-SEO expert to tell you how to find an expert, like with this post in Forbes magazine.
In their article about “the 5 questions to ask“ SEO professionals, I think they got their advice piece all wrong. Let’s see what you think.
They missed the obvious way to reveal who really knows what they are doing. Not that the questions were wrong, but you need some understanding of SEO to understand if the questions you asked were correctly answered!
I think the writer got caught up in their own limited knowledge of SEO (clearly this person knew a bit) and what most people know about SEO (nearly nothing – it is like hocus pocus to most). And out came a bad post as a result.
There is a far more straightforward way.
You can figure out who to consider spending your hard-earned money with (to make more money) simply by looking at the website of the SEO Expert or supposed expert.
Now, I would not suggest this if it finding simple SEO Errors on websites were not something that literally anyone can do. There are things that it takes an expert to do but we are not needed to reveal basic mistakes on your website.
A simple SEO Audit of my competition’s websites will tell anyone in the Toronto area what they need to know. Of course, this works anywhere, not just for Google searches of websites ranking for; SEO Toronto.
Interestingly, many SEO companies expect that you cannot figure out that they do not optimize their own sites, which is not a solid assumption.
I am not suggesting you compare the look of websites, as that’s subjective. Yes, a website needs to be attractive but, in terms of SEO, most of its look is merely window dressing.
The SEO Audit will give you a quick peek at what a service provider can do, at least in terms of basic stuff.
All SEO company websites should handle the basics, right? You would think so.
Doing a simple SEO Audit is as easy as using a website-based service. Click here if you want instructions on how to do this yourself. Or, allow me to save you the time!
Below, I’ve included the results of two of these simple SEO audits for websites listed in the top 10 for a search of SEO Toronto.
Have a look for yourself, would you hire them?
How can you hire someone who cannot provide proof of their SEO capabilities on their own website?
By the way, the goal here is not to hurt reputations, so the results I’ve included are without any business names. This effort is merely to educate you.
Also, with one exception, I am yet to find a single competitor with a website that is a shining example of search engine optimization. And most stunk!
Forget the more advanced SEO. They can’t even get the basics right!
I should tell you that initially, I audited my competitors to find out what keywords they rank for. Then I would slowly cut down what is known as the keyword gap.
Eventually, this would lead to ranking above them for most keywords. A good plan, but I did not expect to see that they did not get their own SEO right.
I never expected to discover how badly they maintained their own site(s). And I know this will shock you too.
The first image below shows that the site in question contains 179 web pages, a relatively small amount of content creation by a digital marketing agency offering that service. I would expect an established site that has been around for years to have at least a few hundred blog posts (and growing).
The low amount of content aside, they have way too many SEO Issues with a total of 73. A website of this size should have less than 5 optimization issues if not zero!
The following audit (below) shows that the site contains 541 web pages, which is more like it for a digital marketing agency involved in SEO and content creation. But, they have a whopping 440 SEO errors, which is inexcusable.
In addition, it is not just the number of errors but the type. Having 174 pages with no Meta Description — this is what people read in a Google search listing right below the link to the listed web page and influences whether people click through or not — is a crime. I mean, think of all the effort it took to get 174 blog pages on the site only to ignore optimizing them!?!
Here is our own audit. As you can see, we have zero issues and we are blogging or creating fresh content 4 times a week every week, 48 weeks per year.
By the way, the reason why I chose not to write as Steven Burke and include my middle name, so I posted under Steven Peter Burke, is a story that began in 2008. That is when Steven Burke, my cyclist doppelganger, became a champion cyclist.
When content is being mass-produced by major media outlets with deep pockets who post more content daily than I would typically crank out in a month and have a person of the same name who is making the news, forget about ranking for your own name!
No sane marketer would try to compete for top 10 results on Google against that type of competition.
Why was I worried about competing for my name instead of only a niche? Remember my book? People were going to be looking for me!
I also intended to write books and post them for sale on Amazon. I simply had to be sure that it would be easy for people to find the author, Steven Peter Burke, on Google.
Ranking Steven Peter Burke on Google
I did not want to publish a book and have everyone trying to Google me yet finding a champion cyclist rather than my site. So, I knew that Steven Peter Burke would work far better.
The problem had a simple solution; use my middle name too, and then I would not have to compete with that cyclist or the other doppelgangers that came along since him (check out Steven Paul Burke, who lives locally to me in Toronto).
However, the solution also brings up a new challenge. How do you repeat Steven Peter Burke once for every 200 words on average? After all, if you repeat your name repeatedly, you end up with a Keyword Stuffing penalty from Google.
Obviously, I will never write another post with the keyword phrase Steven Peter Burke, but I still had to think about how to write this section to introduce my name a few more times.
Interestingly, because all the posts I do will have me as the author, in theory, every other post I write that has an internal link to this one will increase the page score of this post.
The actual topic here is not my name but the Focus Keyword in a post or web page and keyword stuffing. And we know by looking at the SEO Toronto competition that they are not good at this type of content optimization.
Now, I am not at liberty to share how I know as much as I do about local folks in the SEO business, but I am aware that one blog writer was told only to repeat the focus keyword once in a post. Ummm, what?
Analysis of all posts that rank #1 for a niche or long-tail keyword shows that the focus keyword repeats approximately every 200 words. That means as I write this if I do not continue to mention Steven Peter Burke, I am getting behind on this requirement.
This Steven Peter Burke would never teach a blog writer to only repeat the focus keyword once. What I do is teach is that related keywords are used frequently as well.
Even though some SEO Experts may tell you that the Google Update known as Hummingbird changed the rule for the focus keyword, and that they have special software that handles finding related keywords, I would not swallow that hook, line and sinker.
SEO software such as Ubersuggest is easy to locate related keywords and cheap to rent by the month. However, the best of the best, like Yoast (a WordPress plug-in), still advises that Steven Peter Burke needs repeating.
In addition, there is no related keyword to my name. Well, not really. Even though I am not related to the cyclist with that name, Steven Burke is technically a related keyword (albeit one that is barely searched, if ever). And there you have it.
Now, when my books start being bought on Amazon, Steven Peter Burke will be searched. But for now, that just isn’t the case.
I hope this post has helped you. It is certainly unconventional in many ways, showing the creative thinking of Steven Peter Burke and Ann Day. And, yes, I managed to get my name and focus keyword in this post again!