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SEO Side Projects

I’m a firm believer that side projects are a great way to top up your SEO skills and experiment with new techniques.

My main side projects are:

Edinburgh Climbing Hub


Edinburgh Climbing Hub is a website I built that provides information about different climbing gyms in Scotland’s capital city. 

To challenge myself, I coded this website in HTML/CSS without using a CMS or a website builder.

Why I decided to build it

My old mentor, Tom McCallum, encouraged me to take on David Sottimano’s devilishly hard SEO tasklist. After you’ve completed a lot of web development theory questions, David challenges you to build a 10 page website without a CMS and get it ranking.


The main point of the challenge is:

  • To help you understand how websites work under the hood

  • To help you communicate better with developers

  • To challenge you to build and rank a website from scratch


As a passionate amateur climber, I felt there wasn’t a great deal of quality information online about rock climbing and bouldering in Edinburgh, so I jumped into the topic!

How I built it

💻 Started with Atom as my VDE, but later switched to VS Code.

🎨 Used the Bootstrap CSS Framework

🧗 Went to each of the climbing walls and took pictures and got information

📷 Basic photo editing in Canva

📈 Installed Google Analytics and set up Search Console for basic tracking


SEO tactics deployed


It’s fair to say that playing around with Edinburgh Climbing Hub has been a lot of fun! 


Some of the techniques I’ve used include:

  • Created and manually submitted the XML Sitemap: Most sitemaps are handled by content management systems, so this was a first for me.

  • Used HTML Tables: By using HTML Tables on pages about climbing gyms, the site doesn’t just go after head terms, it goes after longer tail queries. A good example of this is my page about Alien Bloc bouldering gym. Here, the HTML table answers a lot of the common questions someone might have before going to the gym.

  • Set up canonicalisation and redirects: Canonical tags and 301 redirects were implemented where necessary.

  • Secured HTTPS and improved global delivery with Cloudflare: Cloudflare give you free SSL on their free tier, which is an absolute godsend for side projects!  

  • Conducted keyword research: I’ve used Ahrefs and SEMRush extensively in the past, so I was keen to try a cheaper option given the site isn’t revenue generating. I ended up using Long Tail Pro for my keyword research.

  • Internal linking throughout the site: Ensuring pages were naturally linked throughout the site.

  • Fixing errors using Screaming Frog: This is still a work in progress, and I’ll often deliberately break things to have a go fixing them again.

  • Wrote 13 pages of copy: All optimised and edited.




I’m happy to say the site gets some modest traffic.


You can follow along with the site’s progress with this Looker Studio Dashboard I made.

Dundee University Law Society

law-soc-committee copy.webp

In 2015, I was President of Dundee University Law Society. In a bid to attract corporate sponsorship, we made a Wordpress website.


I didn’t know it then, but our efforts to get the site included in Google’s index would go down as my first SEO Project.


Our efforts included:

🔗 Foundational links from Dundee university’s main site and

✍️ Regular blogging

🏠 Set up a Google My Business Profile

📊 Installed Google Analytics

While the site has been completely redesigned since then, I’m glad to see the current committee still using our old domain!

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