March 12, 2016
Oh no! Your organic traffic is all over the place and nothing makes sense! It sounds like you’re experiencing what I like to call the 90 day Google challenge. To keep all of us search engine optimization (SEO) experts on our toes, Google likes to change things up every few months. Whether it’s a new penalty for keyword stuffing, or a more aggressive backlink authority search, change is coming and your content needs to stand the test of time.
Create Content that Stands the Test of Time
Stop over tuning your content for the search engine rules of today. Instead, prioritize valuable content that helps your ideal customer. SEO is a secondary focus. It can only be as strong as the content that’s produced.
Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Yes, I know this seems obvious, but it bears mention here because so many blogs are slammed full of content that’s aimed at search engines instead of customers. Think about how your content will answer the customer’s questions and draw them in.
To create content that inspires your target customer, spend time on market research. Find out what your customers are talking about on social media. Do in-depth competition research. Take a quick peek at the competition’s blog and see what kind of information they have available. You might be surprised to find that they’re targeting your customers with topics you never gave much thought to.
While you’re there, see how many Facebook “likes” their content is getting (most sites have a widget that displays this). If they have content that’s getting a ton of social media traction, take note and consider creating your own (ORIGINAL!!!) content that covers similar topics.
Customer-Centered Keyword Research
Anyone can open up a freemium keyword generator online, like WordStream, and spit out a 2 page report on what keywords are related to a topic. While that might seem smart, it’s actually lazy and results in sub-par content. Instead, focus on key phrases that have meaning to your customers. What questions are they asking? What knowledge do you have about your industry that can be shared with your audience? When you create and share high-quality content with your website’s visitors, you build trust.
Customers need trust in order to pull the trigger and make a buying decision. Your blog content should be centered on the key phrases that your customers are searching for. Answer their questions in a straight-forward, easy to understand format that isn’t overrun with headers and repeated keywords. The more knowledge your customers receive, the more trust they have in your brand, and the more likely they are to spend their hard-earned money with you.
Great places to find keyword phrases:
- Forums related to your niche market.
- LinkedIn Articles and Posts
- Facebook Posts
- Twitter Posts / Associated Hashtags
- Quora content related to your niche market.
Content Marketing in the Past
Living in the past isn’t always a bad thing. Taking a stroll down memory lane is a great way to identify past blog posts and online content that performed well. Looking back at your past analytics, you might find that your “How-To Videos” on YouTube converted 5 times more than your best blog post. Or, you may discover that short blog posts about specific topics performed better than longer posts with a variety of sub-topics.
Every industry and market is unique. Customers speak to your content through past performance. Take the content that performed exceptionally well and analyze it. What did you do differently to make this content really stand out? The answers to that question should serve as a guide moving forward as you produce more content and target different segments of the market.
For some tips on creating content that performs well in local search results, check out our previous post: “30 Tips for Local Small Business Owners”. Local search is an excellent opportunity for smaller businesses trying to compete on highly competitive keywords.
Long-Tail Keywords: the Mature Searcher’s Pot of Gold
If you’re focusing all of your time and energy on your top keywords that you feel your site needs to rank for, you’re missing the majority of search traffic. And the portion that you’re missing, it happens to be the most valuable.
When customers search one or two keywords, they’re still figuring things out and educating themselves on a product or service. However, when a customer types a specific phrase into Google, they are much further along in the buying process. They’ve already performed general research and now they’re ready (or almost ready) to pull the trigger.
You want customers to visit your site when they’re ready to buy. Focus on the majority of organic traffic that comes from long-tail keyword phrases. You’ll attract more targeted traffic with a better chance of converting.
Semantic Search Queries
Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm allows for content to be indexed and show up in results for words that are similar or related. For example, a site that ranks well for “RAM” might also rank well for “Computer Memory”. Google understands that these two terms or keywords are related. Spending money on content for both “RAM” and “Computer Memory” would produce overlapping results.
To save money on your advertising campaigns, group your target keywords into lists that are similar to one another. Then, focus your efforts on one keyword from each list at a time. This way, you won’t spend money on two related keywords in the same cycle. Targeting broadly different keywords, with minimal overlap, will give you the biggest return on investment; this is especially trust for startups with smaller advertising budgets.