Hey folks! We’re doing something a little different around here for this post. I’ve invited Sam Oh, entrepreneur and content marketer, to share his knowledge of what it takes to create solid content that brings in traffic to your site.
We’ve all been there before…
You craft the ‘perfect’ piece of content, grab a brew and click that publish button. Or perhaps you’re a savvier blogger and you’ve done some keyword research.
You throw a ‘relevant’ phrase into software like Google’s Keyword Planner and POW!
You have a chance at taking ownership of over 3 million visitors per month! You throw these money keywords in the mix, pray and wait.
…No quote requests, contact form submissions or even a virtual hug.
You test the contact form and all systems go. You check your spam box but nothing.
SEO must be dead…
If you’re stuck in this state of mind, you need to find a completely different way to do SEO for your blog.
Don’t lose hope. There’s a surefire way to drive targeted traffic that generates leads, sales and tons of real life hugs.
And I’m here to show you exactly how you can take any blog to the top of the SERPs by following these 8 steps to better SEO:
- Synchronize content creation with conversion goals.
- Find shareable/linkable content and an ounce of keyword research.
- Analyze organic search competition.
- Discover your audience’s problems.
- Keyword research.
- Write something epic.
- Create a content upgrade.
- Promote your content.
Whew, a lot of work for one blog post…
But here’s what you’ll get without trading your soul:
- Better content.
- Stronger link profile.
- ULTRA targeted leads.
- Higher organic rankings.
- A virtual hug (whether you want it or not).
Enough about hugs. Let’s jump right in.
Here is the Mammoth SEO checklist for blogs, brought to you by Money Journal.
Step #1: Sync your Content with your Bottom Line – Sales Pitches not Welcome
If you’re a modern 2015 WordPress developer, you’re probably looking for leads with the intent to turn a percentage into customers.
But here’s the deal:
Converting traffic into sales needs a little more tact than a cheesy sales page.
You need to create unique brand-defining experiences that keep customers coming back.
And what better way is there than content marketing?
Rather than going for the hard sell, create relevant content that serves two purposes:
- Your conversion goals.
- Your target market’s query. A.K.A. the user intent.
Here are two examples of crystal clear conversion goals for web developers.
Selling a product.
Selling a service.
The sad truth is that most people won’t link to your services page without an incentive (ie. affiliate commission).
But there’s a solution.
You create a fantastic evergreen resource and promote it to the moon and back. People link to worthy content, which is why blogs rank so well in the SERPs.
But you’re probably wondering:
What makes ‘great content’ great?
The first is serving a user’s intent and engaging them beyond their initial query. When you’ve done this right, people forget why they landed on your page.
The second is data-driven research, which we’ll get into right now.
Step #2: Finding Content that Gets Shared like Crazy
Social shares do not guarantee better rankings in search engines. There is, however, a positive correlation between sharing and inbound links.
Social media scientist, Dan Zarrella, analyzed over 25,000 URLs and found some interesting results.
While all three networks did have a positive correlation, the strength of the relationship was strongest for LinkedIn. So, while LinkedIn may be the least obvious choice for sharing activity, it is still incredibly important for marketers also interested in SEO performance.
Here’s how you can find content with high social activity:
Go to Buzzsumo.com and enter a broad keyword phrase.
Buzz Sumo will send you a bunch of results with social share stats and links to the top articles for your query.
There are two things we care about here:
- A history of social sharing in this niche – check.
- The keywords used in the headings.
It’s time to piggyback off of others’ keyword research.
Create two lists.
Closely related terms like developer, development and design (yes, I know it’s different, but a lot of your potential clients don’t).
Content modifiers like ‘how to’, ‘worst’, ‘best’ and other industry specific words.
Here’s what your list might look like after a few minutes of analysis:
Jump over to Keyword Planner and use the keyword multiplication tool.
The keyword multiplication function is like online dating on steroids.
Add your lists to its corresponding text area and get your search volumes. Within seconds, you’ll have all possible matches between your keyword lists.
Here are some eligible matches.
Export this list and reverse your lists.
Out comes a bunch more eligible partners.
In order to find our soulmate, we need to filter through the keywords.
People go to Google looking for answers.
Here are three self-check questions that will narrow down your list:
- What is the searcher’s intent when using this phrase?
- Does the phrase make sense in a sentence?
- Does their intent align with my conversion goal?
Splice your original list and you should have something like this:
Excuse me while I think out loud.
Generic keyword phrases don’t convert very well. They are often used for research before someone is ready to make a purchase.
There’s usually a ton of different purposes for a person to search for something like “web developer”. Are they looking for a job, salary, contractors or the forum?
You don’t know.
When someone is searching for a “web development company”, perhaps they’re expecting more of a homepage style result.
Narrow down the list and here’s what you get. Can you see the pattern?
It’s no secret that outsourcing is a massive topic in the business space. Time is money.
What’s even greater is the intent of someone looking to “outsource”. They are looking to buy.
Here’s the deal:
If your content doesn’t get found, then who cares?
Before you can consider ranking, you need to know what your chances are against the rest of the competition.
Step #3: Analyzing the Competition
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no formula to know how well our sites will rank.
The best we can do is analyze competitors’ metrics and use our better judgment if we want to duke it out.
Let’s get started.
Download Mozbar and add it to Chrome or Firefox.
After installation, you should see some friendly metrics like this when you run a Google search.
The two key metrics I use are Domain and Page Authority.
Moz’s authority metrics are their predictions on how well a web page will do in the search engines.
Both metrics operate on a logarithmic scale from 1-100. This means that it is more difficult to jump from 70-80 than it is from 20-30.
First: Analyze your own site’s metrics
Your website’s metrics might look something like this:
Not the best stats, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Now analyze your competition by searching your phrase.
The first things I look at are the PA and DA (highlighted in red). These stats often give an instant yes or no answer whether to move onto the next step of my competitive analysis or scrap the target phrase altogether.
The second is the Webmaster’s intent to optimize for that specific keyword phrase (highlighted in blue). From the top 3 results, numbers 1 and 3 seem to have thrown that keyword phrase into the mix.
But Meta titles and Descriptions aren’t your best measures for keyword density.
Click through to the site and press [Ctrl + F] or [Command + F] on Mac.
Type in your keyword phrase and your results should come up quickly.
If you see that the page has been optimized for the phrase in question, add a minus 1 to your scorecard.
Hashtag sad face.
The copy on this page isn’t spectacular and the content itself is a little thin, but with our present domain stats, it will be tough to outrank baller competitors.
Third, I look at linking profiles. I’m more interested in the quality over quantity of links.
Keyword difficulty is relative, especially with long tail keyword phrases. The example above is a dead no. My site and networks just aren’t ready to compete.
Let’s run another example from our keyword list:
1. Google your keyword phrase.
2. Analyze and compare the DA/PA results.
3. Look up keyword density and other on-page factors.
4. Analyze the linking profile.
And it looks like we’ve found a winner.
This isn’t a guaranteed ranking formula. It’s a quick way to target B and C tier keyword phrases when you haven’t built your domain’s authority to a worthy level.
You can also try tools like kwfinder.com.
The software uses colors to represent their interpretation of keyword difficulty.
- green = easy
- yellow = moderate
- orange = difficult
- red = ridiculously insane
I would make sure to cross-reference with tools like Mozbar, SEOQuake and Ahrefs before committing to a blind battle.
Step #4: Discover your Audience’s Problems, Wants and Needs
Googlers are in a state of crisis…
You can answer the question like this:
Or you can give them a thorough resource worth sticking around for like this:
And the way we discover these problems is to get it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Ask yourself this question:
Where does my audience hang out?
Hint: they’re in forums and other user contributing websites.Discover your Audience's Problems, Wants and Needs Click To Tweet
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Forums have real people:
But are they talking about your topic?
Type this query to find out.
inurl:forum [your phrase]
Now what kind of questions are they asking? Here are a few examples:
Real people ask real questions. Note the language they’re using. To them, they’re just words, but for you, they are keywords.
Quora is Bombdiggity.
Quora is a great resource to find questions and answers.
Just search for your keywords and get an insta-list of real user’s problems.
Click through one of the search results and voila, more questions.
Follow the threads you intend to provide answers to. We’ll go back to help out once our post is published.
Keep searching for pain points until you have something to work with.
You can also try Reddit and industry related mega forums like Stack Overflow.
Step #5: Beastly Keyword Research
If you’re as extreme as I am, you should have 40 different outlines with all of the questions you found.
A key point to remember is that keywords are relational and segmenting is a good idea.
We’ve already done some keyword research by listening to the way our future visitors speak. Let’s multiply these using Keywordtool.io.
Enter your phrases individually into the search bar.
Copy all of the results to your clipboard.
Throw them into keyword planner or another analysis tool.
Add the keywords where they fit naturally in your outline.
Use Google’s Related Search Function
This part usually goes unseen because most of us don’t make it to the bottom of page one in Google’s search results.
After entering your query, scroll to the bottom to find some related searches.
Throw these into the mix and grab your search volumes.
Now add them to your outline and expand on any you feel are worth expanding on.
Use Semantic Keyword Research for Better Rankings
Semantic keywords can be simplified as synonyms. When a user enters their question, Google looks at the meaning of the words and provides relevant results in context.
Here’s how you can find semantic keywords.
Enter your search query.
Look for the bolded words that are not exact word matches within your phrase.
Scroll to the related searches section and find some more.
You can generate an infinite list of keywords using these methods.
But it’s not about quantity. It’s about the quality of traffic you are driving.
- What kind of person would be searching for this term?
- Will my article satisfy their intent and then some?
Step #6: Create something Epic
What will differentiate your content from the other niche related articles?
Is it length? Thoroughness?
Length tends to be a byproduct of being thorough, but it’s not just about writing long content. Long content without value is counterproductive.
Quality always trumps quantity.
Let’s take a look at content length.
In 2012, Moz found a positive correlation between word count and inbound links.
Here’s what their inbound links look like in relation to word count:
The graph shows that websites link to the more thorough reads over quick reads.
But remember folks:
Correlation != Causation.
Make your Content Insanely Practical
How-to articles do extremely well in the SERPs. Why?
Because they’re insanely practical and provide enormous value to new learners.
Reddit’s “how-to” subreddit has 154,934 subscribers.
What shocks me about this stat is the variance in topics.
People want to learn anything that appears remotely interesting to them.
Create a valuable resource with massive takeaway value.
Sharing your Content Should Make Others Look Awesome
Have you heard of Harry’s?
They sell shaving products.
It’s not a super interesting niche, but their prelaunch success was contributed to great content.
But their prelaunch page only had 17 words…
This page itself isn’t mind blowing, but what’s behind those doors are.
Let’s crack the door wide open.
The moment you step in there are two important things.
- Explicit value: free stuff if your friends sign up.
- Implicit value: give your friends free stuff.
If you’re like me, it’s not worth bothering my friends to get free razors.
But giving them free razors is pretty cool.
They could have started with “Get free razors for a year!” Instead, their copy begins with:
“Don’t leave your friends behind.”
In fact, over 100,000 people thought it was cool. Their virality was based on this simple referral system. They weren’t feeding them razors; they were feeding them social currency.
Studies show that one out of every three customers will refer their friends to a site they trust and enjoy.
Being the one to give massive value to your friends and family makes you look and feel great.
But adding additional zeros to the bank account for Harry’s probably felt better (for them).
Step #7: Create a Content Upgrade
If you haven’t started using content upgrades, then you’re missing out on massive lead generation opportunities and recurring traffic.
Content upgrades are content specific bonuses where a user trades their email address for a greater depth of knowledge.
Here’s an example of the latest content upgrade I did for my post on the best WordPress plugins for CRO.
When you click on that link, something like this pops up:
Your visitors enter their email address and they’re added to your list.
You no longer have to fight for their traffic. They’ve agreed to trust you based on your knowledge and want more.
Here’s how you can create your own content upgrade.
First, establish what a reader of your content might want. Here’s a list of examples you can use:
- Additional tips
- Additional resources (ex. List of best ODesk freelancers)
Create a worthy upgrade or outsource the work.
Try SaaS companies like LeadPages or OptinMonster to capture your leads.
Embed the content upgrade before the bulk of your content and at the end of your post.
Content upgrades help segment your subscribers, capture new leads and increase ROI.
Step #8: Promote your Content like it’s 1969
I didn’t have the chance to live through Armstrong’s moon landing, but the party must have looked something like this:
Promoting your content is the most important part of a new blogger’s SEO process.
If you’re putting so much time into creating amazing content, you need to get it in front of influencers, media and other bloggers.
I like to look at promotion in different segments starting with your most loyal following.
Start with your BFFs. They’ll help build social proof by increasing your share count before you contact complete strangers.
Here’s how to start.
Send a Broadcast Message
Your subscribers hunger for your content. Send them a friendly email letting them know you have a new post.
Don’t be shy and ask for the share and comment.
Post to your Social Media Networks
Next in line are your social followers. The people who love your content will help spread the word.
If they don’t, ban them.
If your following isn’t high enough to bump your social presence, try paid advertising. I’ve had great success using both Facebook and Twitter ads. For those without an advertising budget, try hashtags.
Contact your Industry Networks
So you’ve been “making friends”. Good for you.
If you’ve shared a conversation at a conference, worked together on a project or you feel that they will genuinely be interested in your content, send them an outreach email.
Your email might look something like this:
It was great catching up with you at [This Conference]. Hope you were able to figure out [the issues discussed in your last conversation].
I just published a post on [Something they’re interested in] and thought you’d enjoy it.
Would love to get your expert feedback 🙂
Also, if you think it would be valuable to the [Their Brand Name] community, would you mind sharing it?
I’d be happy to return the favor with your content.
Hope to catch up soon!
As nice as the email sounds, be very careful with how you use this. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
Contact Experts Mentioned in Your Post
If you quoted them, they’re probably busy people. The worst-case scenario is they’ll ignore your email and that’s totally cool.
Send them a quick email letting them know that you mentioned them as an expert in your recent post on your topic.
If all goes well, you should get an email that looks something like this:
Cold Call People Interested in Content Like Yours
Remember how we analyzed our competitor’s backlinks? If they linked to a similar article like yours, they are interested in that topic.
We’re going to reach out to them with a feeler email.
Just stumbled on your recent post “[name of post]”. I love how you mentioned [something personal about the post].
Also, I noticed how you used [competitor’s name] as a resource. Definitely a great read which actually inspired me to write on [the topic] and take it to the next level.
If you’re open to suggestions, would you mind if I send the link over?
Either way, I totally resonate with your writing so keep up the great stuff 🙂
Most will ignore your inquiry, but others will be genuinely interested in the value you can offer them.
If they respond, thank them, send your link, and offer a value proposition.
If all goes well, you should get something like this in your inbox.
Follow up on Quora and Forums
Remember the forum and Quora research we did?
It’s time to repurpose our content and provide an incomparable solution.
Go back to all of the Quora threads you followed and answer the questions. Here’s how I did it:
First, I let them know that the information I am about to provide is an abbreviated version of my post and leave a link to the full post.
Then I answer the question in depth with easy to read formatting.
Finally, I let them know about my content upgrade in the post. In this case, it’s a video tutorial.
This particular thread has 427 followers who all received an email when I posted my answer.
Slowly but surely, I’ve been climbing the Quora ranks on this thread and getting some free referral traffic everyday.
You can do the exact same thing on popular industry related forums.
The Hidden Step 9: What’s Next?
If you’ve been following the pray and post approach, then this is a lot to take in.
I get it.
But there’s good news:
This SEO and content promotion strategy works.
Here are two things you can do right now:
- Download the printable PDF checklist
- Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on this strategy.
Before I go…
Please accept my virtual hug. You’re doing great.