SEO Strategy: Monkey Business or Masterpiece?

Anyone can tweak a meta tag with persuasive text using target keywords.

That’s an SEO tactic you can teach a robot.

Or a monkey.

And there’s software that can do this for you.


But strategy, that’s something else.

You have to think long game.

And factor EVERYTHING.

You can’t teach a monkey or a robot this. (Don’t @ me ML/AI folks)

There will always be quick win elements within this but that’s only there to appease the C-suite who want to start seeing results sooner.

When I was at Property Finder, my core remit was: get us more organic traffic so we can spend less on paid search.


There were 3 main issues that were holding Property Finder back from dominating in SERPs:

1. Almost all backlinks pointed to the homepage, rarely to internal pages.
2. Internal linking was almost non-existent (poor link equity spread).
3. Boat load of orphan pages (unlinked)

There were other issues too, like inconsistencies in URL syntax, mediocre meta data optimisation and a lack of static content.

But the above 3 issues were prioritised due to their impact on the site’s performance in the long term.

It was clear we needed to fix up the way the site handled internal linking.

Truth be told, content was a pretty big part of the strategy too.

But what pushed us to look at links was seeing the wrong pages come up in SERPs which greatly affect trust and revenue.

Search for “apartments for rent in dubai marina” and the page with “all properties for rent in dubai marina” would come up.

Search for “1 bedroom flat for rent in JBR” and the “apartments for rent in JBR” page would come up, even though we had a page for “1 bedroom flats for rent in JBR

In fact, we had pages for a lot of different property types and sizes but these just never came up in results.

Or if they did, they were buried beyond page 1.

This was (and is) a huge deal.

Revenue impact is massive, especially in a dynamic, competitive property market like the UAE.

If people can’t find it, they won’t click on it.

And no clicks = no money.

It’s also about managing expectations and being as relevant as you can.

People type something into Google, expect to see results that match that query then click on the result they deem most relevant.

If they land on a page that isn’t relevant (or if they can’t find one to begin with), you should start counting the money you’re burning.

Now with this site, the issue was mostly due to pages being orphaned. And poor on-page optimisation didn’t help either.

# # #
The action item from the SEO Strategy was to improve visibility of Property Finder URLs for the long term.

The SEO tactic was to add or modify the way links were managed across the site.

The STRATEGIC element was to work this tactic into the current design of the website (basically: play nice with the branding, UX, design and IT teams).
# # #

Property Finder prides itself on design. And being super thorough. So in addition to requesting more links throughout the site, we had to justify why and provide mockups.

The biggest fear from management was that more links would clutter the design and interfere with the end user experience.

Perfectly valid. If you saw the competition, you’d easily choose Property Finder because of how clean the interface was (and still is).

So link placement had to be strategic not just to appease management but to still fulfill SEO goals (more link equity spread).

1. Links were placed on the homepage to key top level and mid level pages – we knew these pages would always stay the same and had to get their fair share of ‘link juice’ to boost their cred. We compromised with a placement down the bottom of the page – it still works, mind you.

2. Breadcrumbs were created on most relevant pages (believe it or not, these didn’t exist on the site other than on ad pages). This was a big UX play too. Also, long term strategic element. We noticed people actively using breadcrumbs now that they’re actually on the site (of course they would).

3. Add internal links to orphan pages where it made sense to do so. People would then be able to bounce around the site more easily. And ‘link juice’ got spread nicely too. Again, people actually used these links to get around. Who woulda thought?!

Since Property Finder was (and is) a madly popular site, Google visited regularly. So when the changes rolled out, it was only a matter of time before this was reflected in results.

And soon enough, we began to see the fruits of our labour: more relevant URLs popping up in SERPs which in turn meant more organic traffic growth. SCORE.

$ $ $
More organic traffic going to more pages (especially previously oprhaned pages).

$ $ $
More money in the bank (because more eyeballs on ads –> more calls and emails to brokers –> more happiness with the portal –> more ad spend and so on).

As a bonus, the idea of adding more static content to a select group of pages was also a strategic play.

We noticed some URLs dropped in rankings when there were few or 0 listings. But jumped right back up when inventory increased.

So writing fresh, original, exciting content was the next step. And this fixed up a lot of issues with inventory-related ranking flux.

I’ve talked about this before but I’ll talk more about this next week because it remains one of my favourite SEO plays.

So the moral of the story here is:

If you’re an SEO consultant, look beyond meta tag fixes and think long term.
You know SEO isn’t an overnight thing.
Be strategic, factor in things beyond your control and work towards a robust SEO strategy that scores a home run every time.

If you’re a business owner, I know you want quick wins and believe me, we all wish for that too.
But be patient and think about the future and safeguarding your business.
Google moves the goal posts a lot but the fundamentals of a rock solid online presence will always be the same.

If your SEO consultant can’t come up with a long term SEO strategy, time to find someone else with a clue.

Your business is a masterpiece and you don’t have time for monkey business.

You know it makes sense.

Hit me up with your SEO strategy wins. I wanna learn more!

PS. I’m not sorry for my use of “link juice” in this post. Feel free to @ me!

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