As a startup, how valuable would it be to have 100s if not 1000s of targeted visitors coming to your site every single month, whether you paid for them or not?
Those are new leads, those are phone calls, those are future customers who will make your startup’s vision stay afloat.
That is the value of organic traffic. That is the value in doing SEO “right”.
But doing SEO incorrectly can be costly.
As I’ve seen since starting Grow Ensemble, achieving desirable rankings for your industry’s coveted search terms can take serious time and effort. It takes time for Google to read and recognize changes to your site, new content, and new mentions of your business online.
And in the startup world, it’s no secret that time is precious.
A strong signal sent to Google one month can mean a positive rankings boost 10 weeks down the road (if not more).
And if you make mistakes with how you set your website up, how you produce content, or how your brand looks online...it can take months to reverse and recover.
This is why I put together this post of critical “SEO Tips” for y’all. Because I don’t want to see you waste your precious time, money and effort making mistakes with how you and your team approach SEO.
Take these tips to heart— reach out to me if you have any questions, and gain precious traffic and potential new customers coming to your business’ online storefront each and every day.
So, here are the things we are going to talk about:
- Keyword Research
- SERP Analysis
- Quality of Content (vs. Quantity)
- Click Through Rate
- LSI Keywords
- Site Load Speed
- Content Promotion
1. Without Keyword Research, There is No “SEO”
Did you know that 91% of content produced online gets NO traffic from Google? That’s right, ZERO (Ahrefs Blog).
And one of the reasons why?
People aren’t creating content around topics that are getting any search volume.
Essentially, most people aren’t doing keyword research.
SEO begins and ends with keyword research. Creating content without assessing the potential search volume is risking a serious waste of time and investment. And creating quality content is a serious investment!
Taking that time to create something with no knowledge of whether or not people are searching for it is like shooting a free throw with your eyes closed (unless you are Lebron James).
Of course, keyword research isn’t easy. But I’ll introduce a few useful tools to get you started.
(Free) Keyword Research Tools
- Google Keyword Planner - You will have to setup a Google Adwords account to use the keyword planner (but you don’t have to be running ads).
- Google Search Console - If you haven’t setup Google Search Console (formally webmaster tools) for you site, then do so now! This is one of the greatest free tools to use in the SEO space. With this tool you can get an understanding for which keywords and phrases Google is starting to pick you up for.
- Google Trends - An excellent tool to check the popularity (rising or declining) of a keyword or phrase. Check out how searches in your industry are trending…
Of course, if you are going to get serious about SEO, I would recommend investing in a keyword tool. A lower cost, but still highly effective tool I use is KWFinder.
2. Analyze the Search Result…
A great way to get a sense for what type of content you need to create, or what opportunity you have to create something more valuable than your competition is to see what Google is already ranking.
- What type of domains are ranking for this term?
- Is Google showing any special “features?”
- How is top ranking content being presented?
- What is not being written about that needs to be?
This also gives you a sense for search intent (i.e. what’s the desired result of the person searching for this term?).
Matching your content to the intent of the searcher is a key in creating content that will be engaged with and rank well. It seems self-evident, but this is something people constantly miss the mark on.
If someone is searching for “french presses,” are they looking to buy them? Or they wanting to know how to use them? Test a search yourself and see what type of content is showing up.
Likewise, as Google expands their use of knowledge graphs (see image below), you have to be careful and pay attention to whether the searcher is looking for a simple definition or a more detailed, in-depth article.
If you were to write a detailed article on “how many championships have the Spurs won?” you might be wasting your time because most searchers won’t go past this result here:
Investigate the existing search results before you conceptualize what type of content you will be creating.
3. Create GREAT Content or Don’t Create Any At All...
This should be a no brainer...your content needs to be engaging!
Not only that, Google is starting to crack down on the level of “credibility” and “authority” the author of any particular article has (TheSEMPost). Google takes quality seriously.
I can’t take the time to teach you about quality content in this post (maybe you should go to a Content Clinic?), but you can get started with understanding which content of yours is already successful by tracking the following via Google Analytics:
- Pages / Session (how many pages does the user click through in one visit to your website)
- Avg. Session Duration (how long do users spend on average in one visit to your website?)
Bounce Rate % (the percentage of website visits where a user didn’t visit more than 1 page and did not interact with the page they visited at all)
You can also look at this data by individual page, traffic source amongst many other options.
Begin to identify which of your pages are more engaged with vs. the others and see what lessons can be extracted there.
- What about these pages may be most engaging to users?
- How can I make adjustments to low performing pages or new pages I create in the future to increase engagement?
4. Remind Searchers WHY They Should Visit Your Site
If you take a look at a search result for the keyword you are targeting you know what you’ll see??
10 listings (maybe some paid ads) all biding for traffic!
How are you going to make sure you stand out? A really great place to start, is with being intentional about writing your titles tags and meta descriptions.
With the title of your page or post and the meta description you have an opportunity to entice a searcher to client. We must take that opportunity!
Some quick tips to do so:
- Look at Google Ads, these are written (sometimes professionally) to be highly enticing ad copy. What makes some ads stand out more than others?
- Use numbers! Oddly enough, odd numbers see a higher CTR than even numbers...
- Use brackets or parenthesis - again, another thing that helps catch the eye. Whatever we can do right?
Here’s a cool free tool to work on improving your headlines.
Also, you can use Google Search Console (set this up if you haven’t already!) to see for which keywords you are getting a low or high click-through-rate.
Just by adjusting the “copy” that users will see when searching for you and your competitors you can see a nice increase in clicks and traffic.
If you are on WordPress, make sure you’ve installed the Yoast SEO plugin (the free version). You’ll be able to edit your titles and meta descriptions here:
5. Pay Attention to Google’s Cues...
Struggling for ideas of what to write about? Let Google tell you. 🙂
This is an awesome little hack that many folks miss out on. When conducting a “search result analysis” like I described in Tip #2, make sure to take note of the following:
- Google Autosuggest
- Suggested Results
- And sometimes! People also ask…
Google is telling you that these are closely related terms to the one you searched for and plan on writing about. In the SEO world, folks refer to these keywords and terms as “LSI Keywords,” or Latent Semantic Keywords.
One single post can rank for hundreds if not thousands of terms. This is because Google loves in-depth, comprehensive content. Gone are the days of writing posts about highly specific questions and topics.
Google would much prefer one high authority post that covers all related topics.
So, what they are telling you is...if you are writing about “french presses,” it may be in your best interest to as well cover some of the “suggested results” as topics in your write up.
Only add in topics that make sense for your post, but believe me, you’ll be rewarded!
Want a free tool that will give you more of these closely related suggestions?
I love to use https://lsigraph.com/.
6. Make sure your site loads fast!
A huge part of finding success with SEO is making it as easy as possible for users to engage with your site.
One critical piece of this:
Site Load Speed
Load speed has been a Google ranking factor for sometime on desktop and has “officially” become a ranking factor on mobile July of this year (2018).
The slower your site loads, the less searchers will want to stick around to see what your site is all about. You can have the greatest piece of content in the world, but if you site takes too long to load, no one is going to hang around to see it!
As your load time goes from 1s to 3s, the probability of a bounce increases by 32%. As it goes from 1s to 5s the probability of a bounce increases by 90% (Neil Patel)!
So Google has told us this is a critical ranking factor, and the data shows we lose traffic tremendously, how do we diagnose our site?
7. Are you putting your content in someone’s hands??
Publishing content without any consideration of promotion is like making a Thanksgiving feast for yourself! As good food is best shared, so is good content.
How was that metaphor? Anyways…
Google is ranking pages and sites based on engagement (remember I mentioned that a critical ranking factor earlier?).
If they (Google) has no data to pick up from your site, it’s going to be a long, slow and improbable road to improved rankings.
There are a million and one ways to promote your content, but don’t get overwhelmed trying to do too many at once. Get started by thinking:
- What assets do we already have?
- An email list?
- A customer list?
- A newsletter?
- An engaged social media following?
- Industry groups you are apart of?
I highly suggest starting with your already most engaged channel. If that’s your email list, start by writing and scheduling an email to send to your list everytime you post new content. If it’s an industry group that’s highly active on Facebook, check with a group administrator first and see if it’s okay to promote your content there (ideally with no sales pitch).
Pick one, create a system for it, and move onto the next method.
To Close: What to focus on next?
Now I want to turn it over to you.
Which of these “tips” on you going to focus on implementing first?
Will you speed up your site? Or focus on re-writing some of those titles and descriptions to get more clicks…
Either way, let me know in the comments below!