February 2019 SEO Update


When I committed to writing at least 100 words per day this year, I had two end-goals in mind.

One goal was entirely personal. I wanted to create a time and space for myself to think. So far, writing has done a fantastic job of helping me consolidate thoughts on design, startups, and personal growth. The proof is simply the writing itself and how I’m feeling about it.

Just as important, though, I wanted to start driving growth towards my classes and free tools.

Starting this month, I’m going to be recording my progress here on a monthly basis.

Starting from Scratch

I hate most SEO articles.

They’re not transparent, they make vague claims, and they’re written by SEOs so successful that they don’t remember what it’s like to start from scratch.

I’ve owned TimNoetzel.com for a long time, but I’ve never done any serious SEO work on it. I’ve done some basic SEO optimization for other projects, but I don’t personally own any properties that could significantly benefit my SEO efforts here.

At the time of this post, Moz gives me a Domain Rank of 15, and SEMRush gives me a Domain Rating of 18.

In case you’re entirely new to SEO, I’ll put this in context. These are essentially the ranks you’d receive after creating a 10-page site with a couple of social media backlinks and letting it sit dormant.

Effectively, I’m starting from Scratch.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a strategy unfold from Day 1 without any preconceived notions of whether it will actually work or how much effort it will be, this is your chance

I’m not trying to sell SEO services or advice. As I mentioned previously, my goal is to increase traffic to my product design classes.

The Strategy

Fans of Brian Dean at Backlinko will be familiar with the Skyscraper Technique.

In a nutshell, Brian Dean advocates creating content that is so monumentally better than anybody else’s that people can’t help but link to it. Think 10,000-word posts and in-depth, step-by-step guides.

I like this approach, but I think there are a few problems with it.

If you’re anything like me, the thought of writing dozens of 10,000-word mega-posts, editing and optimizing them endlessly, and just hoping they’ll attract links is phenomenally discouraging.

And if you’re starting from nothing, you know that you can’t just build a new site and hope people will show up. If nobody sees it in the first place, then how can they possibly link back to it?

So I’m taking a different approach.

Instead of writing massive posts, I started smaller.

In January, I wrote 31 posts of about 100-200 words each. This took me roughly 15 minutes a day, and I didn’t try to make my posts perfect.

The point here was simply to build the habit of working on my blog.

As the month progressed, I started adding images to new posts, doing a bit of keyword research, and increasing the amount I wrote. But mostly, I just kept writing.

If I want big traffic, eventually I’ll need a Skyscraper. But before I can build something massive, I need a foundation.

So my strategy is to write, little-by-little, the pieces that will eventually add up to amazing content.

Some days I’ll write a 100 word blog post on a random thought about design. I’ll do this because it’s helpful to me and might be interesting to others, but mostly to strengthen the habit.

Other days, I’ll write a few thousand words, as part of a bigger series. In February, I started doing this with the UX Engineer Playbook, and so far it’s working well.


I’ll get into tactics in-depth in another post, but I want to close this update with the inputs and outputs of my SEO efforts.

In February I did the following:

  • Wrote 28 posts for a total of 9,061 words (324 words / day)
  • Drafted a guest blog post that I’m discussing with a few prominent design blogs
  • Launched the UX Engineer Playbook, which is designed per the little-by-little strategy I discuss above

In February, my efforts produced:

  • Initial (top 100) rankings for 12 brand-new keywords
  • 28 organic visitors

This is a small start. Admittedly, many experienced SEOs will scoff at this. But, to me, it’s a foundation.

I can commit to doing this work, and I can build on it as I go.