3 months to no. 1 summary

Book Summary: 3 Months to No. 1 by Will Coombe

The Book in Three Sentences

3 Months to No. 1 is a thorough guide that features actionable information, video resources, and suggestions to improve your website’s SEO. A lot has changed over the years when it comes to Google and SEO and this book turns all of that into a comprehensible guide that anyone can read. Note that this book focuses on the fundamentals, so if you’re not new to SEO, you might know most of it already.

3 Months No. 1 Summary

Part I – Getting Rich from SEO: A Guide to Business

Chapter 1: “SEO’s Not for Everyone”

The businesses that fail online belong to one of three groups:

  • SEO Grudgers: they don’t see SEO as an investment. They don’t understand it and see it as an inconvenience.
  • The Quick Fix Seekers: they want solutions quickly and are impatient. They realize late that SEO should have been part of their business model from the beginning and implementing it now might take months or years to see results.
  • The DIY Money Savers: they are those who believe that SEO is a simple skill you can learn in a few days.

SEO is a long-term commitment that involves technical work.

Chapter 2: “My Journey’s Not a Blueprint, But Here It Is”

The author worked at an air conditioning company in London in his early 20s, but eventually became an airline pilot. Coombe was afraid to lose his license, so he started an online venture. He learned everything about building and marketing websites and became obsessed with SEO. Coombe used this expertise to launch an SEO agency and quit his job as an airline pilot.

Chapter 3: “Will SEO Make Me Attractive, Rich & Wildly Successful?”

SEO and Online marketing are more important than ever. By reaching the top of Google search results, you’ll grow exponentially in both traffic and income. Even a substandard website can be successful.

Chapter 4: “The Marketing Treasure Map”

Most people fail because they put product before marketing. Marketing goes first because it’s a commodity. Despite what some people might say, the product doesn’t speak for itself. The way successful marketing works is by establishing channels on top of each other. This means that you start with low-risk/low-return investments and you work your way up until you reach high-risk/high-return investments.

SEO is versatile and game-changing, but this isn’t where you should start online marketing. Start with Google Ads and if you fail, that means your business or product isn’t viable.

There are two main causes for failure:

  • Failure #1: Being a Marketing “Jack of All Trades”. Don’t diversify your focus and budget. Master one marketing field before moving on to the next.
  • Failure #2” Not Layering Your Marketing Channels. Combine marketing channels and treat them as separate.

The marketing map:

  1. Google Maps
  2. SEO
  3. Social media advertising
  4. Content marketing
  5. PR

Chapter 5: “Let’s Talk Time”

The amount of time SEO takes depends on several variables. SEO takes time, but the rewards are big. You should be able to dedicate a few hours a week to SEO and this can make a difference.

SEO is common sense, but most people fail at it because there’s no immediate gain from doing it right. Essentially, you dedicate hours and see results months from now. Also, there’s no way of knowing if what you’re doing today will have an impact on Google’s Search results in the future. Even when you do see positive results, it’s hard to see the cause. SEO isn’t an exact science because it’s a combination of the right things done consistently over time.

Chapter 6: “How Google Works”

Google puts a lot of knowledge that anyone can access. They try to provide the best and most accurate results because their business revolves around it.

How does Google work?

  • State One – Indexing the Web: when you do an online search, you’re searching Google’s index which is a curated list of web pages.
  • Stage Two – Matching Content to Your Query: once you write a keyword and hit enter, Google provides a list of sites relevant to the topic you provided. That list is organized according to an algorithm. Although the algorithm is a secret, it uses relevance and popularity as determining factors.
  • Stage Three – The User Behavior Feedback Loop. Once a user has typed a keyword, his or her behavior is monitored and used as feedback. According to different criteria, Google makes changes regularly.

Chapter 7: “Become a Pro SEO in 5 Minutes – The Common Sense Check”

Use common sense when using SEO. Try not to implement practices that another website could copy quickly. For example, posting comments on other sites to generate backlinks doesn’t work because anyone can do it. Good SEO is hundreds of small things done right.

Chapter 8: “The Magic Bullet Fallacy”

Ranking number one on Google can’t be attributed to one thing: you have to work well and consistently. In other words, there are no simple and quick solutions. You can’t trick the algorithm and even if you could, it’s easier and less time-consuming if you follow the rules.

Part II – Preparing for SEO

Chapter 9: “The 3 Types of SEO Business Models

There are three SEO business models:

  • Affiliate SEO: the idea is that by recommending someone else’s product or service, you make a commission. The advantages are that it’s passive, it’s scalable, and it’s good for introverts. The disadvantages are that there’s no control, and it’s highly competitive.

To become an affiliate marketer, you need:

  1. An offer
  2. Traffic-generating keywords that relate to that offer
  3. A website
  4. A high-ranking site on Google
  • Business SEO: this implies using SEO to market your product or service
  • Client SEO: this is when people pay you to help them with SEO.

Chapter 10: “Anatomy of an SEO Campaign”

An SEO campaign has the following parts:

  1. Keyword research: this is about choosing the right keywords.
  2. On-page optimization: this is how you prepare your site to work nicely with Google. Examples include header tags, meta tags, keyword density, and content word count.
  3. Off-page optimization: this is how external resources reference your website. What are other sites telling Google your website is about? As a general rule, Google will trust other sites before yours. Off-page optimization includes backlinks, Google reviews, and social media interaction.
  4. Progress monitoring: checking your position in Google is essential.
  5. Evidence-based refinement: this is assessing if your work paid off or not. If it didn’t, you go back to square one and tweak a few things.

When it comes to SEO, you should track your search engine results positions (or “SERPs”) and an analysis of traffic from Google Analytics.

SERPs Tracking:

  • Manual SERPs Tracking: this implies tidying target keywords and seeing the results. This is time-consuming but free. Ideally, you do this once every two weeks. Just make sure you clear your browser’s cache before doing it.
  • SERPs Tracking Software: the author recommends SerpFox.

Chapter 11: “How to Use This Book Its Best”

The author assumes you use WordPress to power your blog or website.

Chapter 12: “Keywords”

Keywords are words or phrases a user types into a search bar to find something specific. There are three types of keywords:

  1. Informational/Entertainment Keywords: these are answers to questions or entertainment-based queries.
  2. Commercial Keywords: these are about giving solutions to problems.
  3. Branded Keywords: these are names of companies or organizations or individuals.

Before doing anything online, you have to do keyword research. To do so, you try to find keywords that:

  1. A lot of people are typing into Google every month.
  2. You have the potential to make money from
  3. Keywords that are realistically attainable.

To do keyword hunting, you need Google’s Keyword Planner tool and SEMRush. There are three steps to this part:

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Gathering keywords from Google
  3. Checking how lucrative those keywords can be

Chapter 13: “Choosing Domains”

A domain is the name of your website. The more history a site has (the number of years it’s been available), the better it’ll rank on Google. Your domain becomes your online brand.

There are three types of domain names:

  • Exact Match Domain (EMD): contains the commercial keyword you’re targeting.
  • Partial Match Domain (PMD): contains part of the keyword.
  • Branded Domain: doesn’t contain the keyword targeted.

The author suggests choosing a branded domain.

Part III – Getting Your Hands Dirty

Chapter 14: “The Four Pillars of SEO”

These are the four pillars of SEO:

  • Pillar 1 – Relevance: this means that your website is useful to people
  • Pillar 2 – Crawlability: it should be easy for Google to scan your pages
  • Pillar 3 – Engagement: this is proving that people spend a lot of time on our site
  • Pillar 4 – Authority: this is credible, trustworthy content

Chapter 15: “On-Page Optimisation – Page Relevance”

We need to make a page relevant to the keywords we’re targeting using the following eight items:

  1. URLs: URL means uniform resource locator, it specifies the location of your website. Depending on where a page sits in your site’s overall hierarchy, Google will determine how important it is.
  2. Title Tags: Google scans the titles to determine how important it is
  3. Header Tags: header tags determine the structure of the page
  4. Keyword Use & Density: keyword density is the number of times a phrase shows in the content
  5. Latent Semantic Indexing (SLI): synonyms and related phrases to your keyword are also considered. This is the “universe” of words related to your keyword. You can find LSI from three sources: Google (at the bottom of a search result you’ll find a “related search” list) using online tools, or stealing them from your competitors.
  6. Image Filenames/Alt Tags: you can optimize images by adding an alt text describing it
  7. Outbound Links: Google can tell if an article is relevant by looking at the outbound links
  8. Topic Relevance: the more specific and dedicated your site is the better

Chapter 16: “On-Page Optimisation – Crawlability

Google examines each webpage using its algorithm and categorizes it. Different websites are crawled more or less often depending on the content they provide. On your end, this means that you should make your site easy to use and attractive to look at.

There are seven factors that increase page “crawlability”:

  1. Mobile-friendliness: your site should work well on a phone or tablet
  2. Site organization: group related pages into sections called “silos”
  3. Producing fresh content: fresh content is more popular because it’s more relevant and useful than old information
  4. Removing redundant and/or duplicate content: although there’s no penalty for duplicating content, this confuses Google. If your site has redundant pages, it won’t help users.
  5. Going “HTTPS”: HTTPS is an extra layer of security and this gives a slight ranking boost.
  6. “Nonindexing” and submitting regular sitemaps: you can create your own sitemap and submit it to Google. You can also tell Google which meta tags shouldn’t be indexed.
  7. Using schema markup: schema markup is a kind of universal language that all search engines can understand.

Chapter 17: “On-Page Optimisation – User Engagement”

Using a technology called RankBrain, Google monitors how users interact with search results and this changes future queries depending on people’s actions. RankBrain uses:

  • Click-through Rate (CTR): the number of searchers clicking on a page
  • Bounce rate: the people who leave a site without interacting with it whether the search continues after visiting the site or not

To please RankBrain:

  1. Use great meta descriptions.
  2. Make your site fast to load.
  3. Use good media, such as well-placed images, videos, and interactive elements.
  4. Keep people reading. To do so write short sentences, use whitespace, use little teasers (write short questions and then answer them), use simple vocabulary, avoid complex grammatical structures, and vary your text formatting using bullet points, bolding italics, or text color.
  5. Write articles that are one thousand words or more. Long-form, good-quality content ranks well.
  6. Don’t use intro popups.

Getting reviews is a good “off-page” optimization strategy. You can use Google reviews, schema reviews, and third-party reviews.

Chapter 18: “Links”

Links, hyperlinks, or backlinks are elements of a site a user can click to access another resource, such as a page, or an external site. The more reputable the source that backlinks you, the better you’ll rank. Google assesses the authority on a site based on popularity, and topic relevance. To judge the quality of a link, take into account relevance, authority, and relevance. Links should build naturally over time.

These are the five main currencies of value you can exchange for links:

  1. Time: offer some work in exchange for links
  2. Money: pay for links
  3. Community: asking for favors
  4. Expertise: offer skills in exchange for links
  5. Information: content marketing

Chapter 19: “Content Marketing”

Digital content refers to information you can find on the internet. It usually takes the form of blog posts, videos, images, lists, reviews, guides, podcasts, or eBooks. When it comes to content, there’s one factor to take into consideration: quality. Content should be unique and offer value. To come up with ideas, answer these five questions:

  1. What are the most talked about keywords in your niche?
  2. What questions do customers often ask?
  3. Is there an uncomfortable topic no one wants to discuss?
  4. Is there a contrarian viewpoint you’re willing to tackle?
  5. What would you like to read?

To promote your content, you can get in touch with websites that belong to your niche and ask for them to link it. You can also contact webmasters and notify them of broken links on their sites. They might reward you with a backlink in exchange. Guest posting is also a good practice.

In conclusion, content is king, you should know your audience, and try to determine the objective of your content. Before posting something, ask if it’s better than what’s out there already.

Chapter 20: “Using Social Media for SEO”

Social media marketing can be divided into three categories:

  • Organic Social Media Marketing: this is gaining loyalty through social media posts, but it’s only effective for big brands. This is a waste of time. The only way to see engagement is by providing something for free.
  • Paid Social Media Marketing: this involves serving ads to your target audience through social media.
  • Social Media for SEO: social media doesn’t help SEO, but Google includes social media signals in its algorithm.

There are three signals:

  1. Building a brand through social media: secure your brand across the web by signing up and being active on as many social networks as possible.
  2. Freshness: if a business is active on social media, it appears “fresh” and “alive”.
  3. Social media links: even if you’re not active on all platforms, use them to diversify.

Chapter 21: “Local Area SEO”

If your business is locally based, Google will take this into account. You’ll soon show up on the map and get Google reviews too.

Chapter 22: “eCommerce SEO”

eCommerce is one of the most competitive areas because you’re going against eBay, Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, and so on. If your store is niche enough, you can be profitable though. Organization is very important in an eCommerce site. Pay attention to snippets. The most important snippers are:

  1. Reviews & ratings
  2. Product name and pricing
  3. Limited time offers
  4. Product availability

Chapter 23: “How to Stop Google Penalties Wrecking Your Livelihood”

  • Avoid low-quality content
  • Avoid unnatural links
  • Be mobile friendly
  • Avoid putting ads “above the fold”
  • Don’t promote piracy

Editor’s note: Part VI of the book, titled “The 3 Month SEO Blueprint, offers a detailed three-month plan to improve your SEO. Since this part was repetitive and sums up everything discussed in previous chapters, I decided to omit it.

Further Reading

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