In September, we released our fact-checking resource of 260+ Google ranking factors, ranging from outright myths to facts that were directly confirmed and verified by testing.
It did really well.
But the biggest complaint, which is actually the same complaint that I see towards basically every piece of content on SEO, content marketing, and so-forth, was this:
How do I actually use this?
Despite hundreds of millions of blog posts, this question usually remains.
That's because 99.9999% of it is written for clicks instead of practicality. Even the stuff that seems directly useful in print breaks down during implementation or at scale.
The Google ranking factors resource was a part of our internal documentation. But it's not terribly tactical. It's kind of overwhelming. And it sure doesn't leave you with a workable process. Just a giant pile of considerations.
Enter The War Room.
From 260+ factors, we've created a single 1,200+ item checklist divided into 24 parts.
Today we're launching 1/3 of the checklist, with the other 2/3 being polished up and released on a clearly defined schedule over the next six months.
Step-by-step, we consider every factor that matters, good or bad. In the process, we'll also step through well-tested tactics.
Why so many checks?
Individual ranking factors still get kind of complicated. For example, having a fast website is one ranking factor, but we have a 60-step checklist for that alone.
The factors also don't dive into tactics. They're basically posing a question without an answer.
And finally, this stuff is insanely competitive. I've yet to see a site pass through the entire audit without hundreds of archived issues.
When ranking for those hyper-competitive, international search queries, our audit checklists itemize every missed opportunity and lay a step-by-step roadmap to ranking.
Without being this comprehensive, I genuinely believe that you don't stand a chance of ever outranking big brands that are investing six figures monthly in their organic online marketing.
What about my SEO software?
A large number of the checks are assisted by software - mainly Screaming Frog and dozens of free, web-based tools that are the best at their very specific task.
But if you consider any one piece of SEO software on the market - even those $5,000/month "enterprise SEO" monstrosities - there are three issues.
First, it's really easy to find SEO software that looks at 50-100 factors. But nothing I've seen to date is this remotely near this thorough. Because there's just too much to look at. An assortment of free tools still tends to be superior to so many things. Though in fairness, this is also true of most SEO consultants.
Second, Google's goal is to rank the best content for humans. And they still make roughly two algorithm improvements per day, because they're nowhere near perfecting that. So we aspire to what Google is aspiring to.
So, we ask very specific, qualitative questions about your marketing, like: is this genuinely the most informative piece of content covering this keyword? We also look at your backlinks in a manner not unlike how the Google webspam team's "manual penalty" raises questions. Where Google can't yet automate, you more likely can't either.
Third, which is maybe not an issue with all SEO software, but certainly most - is that those solutions don't provide a clear path towards action. You may get warnings for the basics, like broken links and uncrawlable content. But after that, there's no plan. You then revert to just picking around aimlessly while trying to piece together the rest.
But isn't this stuff subjective?
Some of it really is. And that's why too often, marketing specialists are left giving total non-answers to critical questions. We really don't like doing that.
So as the process expands into topics like content strategy and conversions, our checklists consist of ideas that we've found to be overall best practices.
But these ideas may not always test the best. Chances are actually high that many won't in your particular situation.
The way to pass those checks is not to implement exactly what we suggest. Instead, it's to have tested those elements and have documented the results.
Let's get started.
Did you really read this far? Maybe just skimmed a bit?
Either way I'm proud of you; this was a crazy long, product-related post.
It can be hard to get on board with something new, so if you want to give The War Room a spin, we've created promotion to reward early adopters. Use coupon EARLYADOPTER before 11/7 to get 10% off for life, on an already pretty dang reasonable $125/month subscription, here.
When you do, please reach out in the comments or privately to let me know what you think.