The 20% of SEO That Creates 80% of The Results

Justin Brooke
7 min readOct 12, 2016

If you’re not careful, you can fall DEEEEP into the SEO rabbit hole…

It’s a science really, and if you want you can spend MANY hours reading articles, testing assumptions, and researching data.

I know because I have…

After 7 years of cow towing to Google (even writing a book on SEO), I’ve had enough. I’m done slaving over keyword density and semantic keyword research for incremental improvements.

Frankly, I’ve got better things to do…

Maybe you’ve got better things to do also?

My New “Busy Mans” SEO System

I took a deep look at everything I’d ever learned and done and applied the Pareto Principle.

Then I tested my assumptions on this blog right here. The results of my first month are shown in this screenshot from my Hubspot mobile app.

It depicts my daily search traffic growth over the last month.

It’s nothing to write home about, but it is evidence that my new system is working. Pretty damn quickly too. I went from about 25 visits daily to over 75 in just 4 weeks.

Enough about me, here’s the 20% of SEO tactics that I’ve found get 80% of the results.

Smart Title Tags

There are many things you can focus on for on page SEO. Your ALT tags, H1 and H2 tags, your keyword denisty, blah blah blah.

If you want to know the 20% of on page SEO that’s bringing in 80% of your results, it’s the title tag. Except I see so many bloggers making a mistake of using their post/page title as their title tag.

In 2009 that might have been ok, but in 2013 you have to be thinking about how your post/page title looks when it is shared.

I use Thesis Theme which gives me an extra box below my post to write a custom title tag for the post/page I’m editing. I know there are fancy schmancy plug-ins like Yoast and whatever else, but “ain’t nobody got time for that!

Seriously, the Yoast plug-in, as awesome as it is, practically needs a course on SEO to understand all that it does. Thesis makes it unnecessary.

Keep it simple, use Thesis or use this simple title tag plug-in. Lots of plug-ins or big plug-ins tend to slow WordPress down and page load speed is important.

If you were to inspect the code behind this page you would see that my title tag is kind of boring, but great for ranking purposes. And my post title is great for social, helping me get more shares and clicks (aka social signals).

Social Signals

Google’s constantly trying to determine your websites popularity.

What better way than to look at who and how many times your site is being talked about on social sites. These are called “social signals” and they are the 20% of off-page SEO tactics that are bringing in 80% of the results.

This is why I use the little share bar you see floating down the left side of my page. The plug-in I use is called “Flare,” but you can use whichever you like. I’m sure most of you are already doing this one though.

It’s important that you make it easy for people to share your posts/pages. Not only easy to share, but having well written titles so that it gets re-shared as well as more clicks. More clicks could mean more shares, you get the point.

I could stop with just these 2 and get hundreds of visitors a day in any niche.

A Few Good Links

Another way Google detects your popularity is other websites linking to your site.

This is the “old” way of detecting popularity, but it still works. The problem is freakazoids went bat shit crazy with it and started over doing it times infinity.

There have been link pyramids, link wheels, Angela’s links, blah blah blah.

The 20% that’s doing 80% of the results, are natural links from relative authoritative sites. What I do is try to find time to guest blog on at least 1–2 sites per month.

Be careful with your guest blogging though, them freakazoids are at it again and Google’s pissed.

The other thing I do is comment on popular blogs in my niche, which get’s me a few dozen low quality links per month.

Forget about mass anchor text links, and for christ’s sake STOP using a keyword instead of your name in blog comments. That’s sooo 2006 and makes you look like a Ron Jeremy at a sweet 16 party.


The other important part of your title tag is that it needs to make the visitor want to click.

Your title tag is what Google is using to create them purty blue links people are clicking on when they search for keywords.

In Google’s eyes, more clicks = more popularity. What I do to increase my clicks is use something called “microformats.” It’s extra code you can put on your web pages to tell Google and the social networks more about your site.

If you’re a review site you can use microformats to show how many stars you give the product right in your search listing. You can also use microformats to tell Facebook or Twitter what you want people to say when they share your site.

These microformats help your site stand out from others in the search listings or on social sites.

For example, I use a plug-in called “WP Open Graph” which adds a little section under my post editor. In this section I can control which headline, description, and image Facebook uses when people share my site.

This helps me get more clicks and more re-shares because I can control how attractive my listing looks.

User Satisfaction

Last but not least, Google wants to know if people enjoy your site when they get there.

Google’s watching how many pages people visit, how long they are staying, if they are scrolling, and which pages people are bouncing off from right away.

You’ll notice that on every page of my blog I’m doing everything I can to try and convince you to visit another page. I use a paid plug-in called “PostSkin” to design my popular posts widget and recent articles widget in my sidebar.

What About Keyword Research?

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

For me, I need to be able to write a blog post and get back to more direct revenue generating activities.

My whole SEO system takes me 2–3 hours a week total.

I took a few hours one day to write down 12 main topics my visitors want to read about and 3 sub-topics for each of those. This list is all I need for keyword research.

I’m much more worried about what questions people are typing into Google. These people are looking for a solution, very specific one. I try to insure that my post, and title tag, are the answer that they are looking for.

These full question searches are loaded with good keywords to rank for and the competition is almost non-existent. I’ll usually browse a site like Quora or Yahoo Answers for about 2 mins before writing a post to find out what questions people are asking.

The best part about ranking for full questions, is if the reader likes your article they often immediately look for a way to subscribe and if you have any products that will help them. It also helps you build a really useful authoritative website overtime.

My goal is to write a post that answers a question 2–3 times per week. In 90 days that’s 24–36 questions I can be ranking for and if each only brings me 3 visitors a day then that’s 75–100 highly targeted visitors a day.

As you can see in my screenshot above, I’ve hit that mark in just 30 days. You can too.

One Last Tip

The other thing I do is watch my analytics.

What I look for is which keywords people are finding my site from. Many times it’s keywords and phrases I would have never guessed. It’s also often that they start forming patterns.

These patterns let you know which topics you should double down on.

It also keeps you current with search trends and which keywords Google already considers you rank worthy.

Action Steps

  1. Install a plug-in or use a theme that lets you control your title tag separately from your post title.
  2. Ensure that your page is easily shareable on social sites as well as has a post title that’s shareworthy.
  3. Don’t over do the backlinking, stick to a couple guest blog posts per month and a couple legitimate blog comments per week.
  4. Talk your web guy about adding microformat codes to your pages to make them stand out in the search listings and social sites.
  5. Do everything you can to keep visitors on your site for 2 minutes or more. Point them to popular pages and give them meaty content.
  6. Instead of keyword research just write articles that answer popular questions in your market and the keyword thing will happen naturally.
  7. Use an analytics software to watch which keywords and phrases people are finding you from and focus on recurring topics.

Well, that’s it, that’s my busy man’s SEO system.

There are much more comprehensive systems out there, but this is for people who don’t want to dedicate their lives to SEO.

With this system over time you can end up ranking for some very impressive keywords. Google starts seeing a trend in the topics you rank for and then starts ranking you for top level keywords.

Let me know how you feel about my system, leave a comment below. Especially, if you have any questions about implementing it for yourself.

Thanks for reading! :) If you enjoyed it, hit that heart button below. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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Justin Brooke

Spent $10MM+ on ads, acquired 50K+ customers for my clients, now founder of