(mortal kombat voice) FLAWLESS SEO

(this post is v. image heavy: please enable images for best reading experience or don't be pissed at me when you have to scroll up cuz you want to see all the images...)

here it is, another great SEO newsletter.

look at me, sending it on a Saturday morning like an absolute newsletter GENIUS when everyone has definitely fucked off for the weekend.

oh well, see you when I do my "send to unopens" routine on Tuesday lol.

the meat of this email is basically "how I'm building out a seven-figure brand in 2024--the SEO part of things."

i hope you enjoy it

News and Updates

I have for you some absolutely 🔥 extremely dank memes to convince you to click a link in my email so stupid ConvertKit doesn't mark you as unengaged just cuz you engage in safe, private email anti-tracking practices.


Speaking of clicking things, I have a favor to ask of you. In exchange for doing this, I have made a page (which you may have seen before if you've been here for a while sorry if so) of my MOST FAVORITE, MOST EXISTENTIAL memes.

Please click the link that most best describes you + your relation to SEO (all links lead to the same place--pls only click one link):

I own an SEO or marketing agency

I own a successful website/portfolio of sites making $$$

I *work* at an SEO or marketing agency

I own a SaaS biz

Other (please hit reply and tell me what the "other" is)

Featured Snippets

⛷️ a great (and devastating) write-up about how Google is killing this legit publisher of high quality content and the absolute garbage replacing it in the SERPs

🎯 a really smart, fascinating write-up of a framework on how to approach content--I love it.

😍 Luke Jordan asked for examples of really creative blog designs, and Glen Allsopp delivered. Check this tweet out if you're looking for some inspiration.

– - SPONSOR - –

Last time I sent this out the link didn't work for some reason and I got a TON of comments about it. So... now the link works, pls check it out!

Are those links you're buying actually safe and valuable?

Not sure if the links you want to buy are safe?

Check them out first on this free, no-email-required database:

Link Database

Jolly SEO's database consists of two tiers: confirmed & reported link sellers

Look up a website before you build a link, so you know if it's already been "passed around" and potentially on Google's radar (which... is a bad thing, if you're wondering).

– - /SPONSOR - –

This PDF Tool Has Some Of The Best SEO I've Ever SEEN In My LIFE

There's a lot to this, so I'm gonna put the most impressive shit up front to capture your attention like a siren as you sail between these cliffs SO I CAN DRAG YOUR ASS INTO THE WATER* AND DROWN YOU**

* this amazing post

** educate you about an SEO thing

50M in organic traffic:

Natural links from the most authoritative sites on the web, such as:

Mozilla, Stripe, GoDaddy, Bing, Hubspot, Canva, TheVerge, FreshDesk, Inc...

Ranking for some baller keywords (that definitely relate to the product/service they sell):

Okay, your interest is piqued, here's the site:


[Doofus Rick voice] It's a tools site, Jerry! PDF tools!

I first started using this site in 2019 when I sold my first (mega successful) affiliate site, and have been diligently paying $8/mo since--it's SO CONVENIENT.

And when I one fine day looked at their traffic, I damn near fell out of my seat (like this, but metaphorically):

So what's the secret to their success?

Flawlessly executed SEO.

Look at this page they're ranking in the top spot for the keyword "PDF to JPG" (almost 250k s/m!)

No bullshit.

No fluff

~ 600 total words on page (including menu/footer/etc.)

Giving the user what they want...

That's a useful god damned page.

It doesn't hurt that the page has picked up a TON of natural links, like this one from ZenDesk, where a support ticket for a ZenDesk user suggest someone use a PDF to JPG tool:

Or this one, from a DR 86 website on a page about passports:

Further down the page there's a block of articles relating to this very topic...

so relevant

so silo

They're also cashing in on offering posts/services in different languages:

Nice. Several tool pages and blog posts are being written in many different languages, as you can see from their sitemap:

All right, so what is working here and what can you take away to your own site?

Covering the topical map

No, not that confusing shit that you need a bottle of adderall and an advanced statistics degree to understand what the fuck they're actually saying.

This site has every useful tool you could possibly want all on offer, all linked very sexily from the bottom of every page.

want to edit a PDF?

they got that.

Want to rotate a PDF?

got it.

PDF to word/excel/ppt/jpg

They got it DAWG.

They fucking got it.

Topical map: covered.

The content is useful, not just stuffed full of shit like a foie gras goose

Let's look at a random blog post (and maybe their old content sucks but I'm looking at the new stuff).

Look at how they nailed this page:

Above the fold section 👇

It's got:

  1. pre-heading(?) that states a question people probably type often when looking for this solution
  2. big, straightforward H1
  3. intro, then it gets RIGHT to answering the searcher's query (and oh look, this can be solved by a tool they own, imagine that--very easy-to-read or scan numbered points

Below that:

A gif showing exactly what the tool does (so easy!)

A button that solves ALL your problems.

And then:

Finally, some FAQ-style content, but not the shitty FAQ-style content that most 4,000 word articles staple on the end of their shit that almost NO ONE is actually reading except search engine spiders (no judgment: I've made these pieces of content 100x b/c it WORKED/works/IDK...)

But this is like... useful, next-step questions about this specific workflow if you're looking to delete pages from a PDF.

The blog content, as a whole, is some very targeted, very helpful content

One thing I see happen again and again and again and again with sites that start stacking authority and ranking well for things:

They overreach. They try and rank for EVERYTHING, Forbes styles. And it works, usually, for a while... until it doesn't.

They get absolutely lost in the sauce...

The content spirals further and farther away (you don't know which one it is) from their core topic, so when an algo update comes along and goes

nuh uh uh

that's the technical SEO term, don't listen to the haters

Traffic takes a BIG hit and thousands of keywords lost that never deserved to rank in the first place.

I *love* what SmallPDF is doing with their content.

It's just going for helpfulness one post at a time. Look at this shit:

Every post addressing a single problem or question, and the answer to almost all of those questions is OH YEAH BY THE WAY, USE OUR TOOL IT'S SO USEFUL!


A quick recap of why this site is doing so well:

  1. a useful tool that solves actual problems and gets natural links
  2. isn't just a content/affiliate site
  3. no fluff, no BS, actually useful pages (tool pages) that rank for all versions of the target keyword
  4. content/tools cover the ENTIRE content map--deep expertise
  5. tons of helpful content addressing very specific questions that reinforce expertise.

I can tell you that I'm building out a site that offers a very useful product in an absolutely KILLER cutthroat niche, and I'm following the SmallPDF playbook for building things out.

You can have your ranch-style content, or argue about TF-IDF or whatever...

but I'm going to do what the site that his this Similar Web traffic graph is doing:

Thank you.

Work With Me

Fractional Director of SEO - if you need high-level strategic advice, someone to bounce SEO ideas off of and want to connect with me 1:1 in my private slack instead of paying $150k/yr to hire an inferior SEO (I'm humble af), you can work with me for just $1k/mo.

Get Your Own Weekly Newsletter - it won't be insane like this one, but it WILL be a way to reach your customers/potential customers weekly so you can get them to keep you top of mind + sell to them. Join the waitlist here (it's $3500/mo so don't join if you can't make those numbers work).


i hope you enjoyed this newsletter.

it's frustrating that it took so long to get out, but I recently did an experiment that I can finally share the results with you now:

Q: does having a back injury that affects the nerve along your ENTIRE leg make it easier to do more and quicker very creative work?

A: no, it does not.

now you know!

who can help me fix a bulging disc? I go to PT twice a week, so don't say "go to PT."


also, unrelated to that, I am smack in the middle of acquiring an agency that can help you deliver on content briefs, content creation, content optimizations, link outreach, link building, etc.

will be sharing this VERY soon in a future newsletter so stay tuned for that if you're interested...

finally, if you liked this newsletter pls hit reply--I love hearing from readers! What are you up to these days?

did you get to see the northern lights?

how's your 2024 goals going?

hit reply. or not

see you next time,


[rank theory] SEO Newsletter

the world's grumpiest SEO lifts you up each week with inspiring SEO content. Rank Theory is a twice-weekly newsletter containing emerging theories, illuminating experiments, and occasional sh*tposting, as well as a special weekly domain-focused Friday edition.

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