The first memory I have of hearing a dial-up modem reaches back to the age of about 5 or 6 years old.
I used America Online and probably chatted with too many people, was too young for exposure of that sort, and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Precursor: I'm not a techie, not a coder, but I've always found consumer behavior & marketing fascinating.
When SEO became a thing many years ago, I understood it in concept - I got that it matters and still does, but I didn't understand what was happening behind the scenes.
Therefore I found the topic too ambiguous to dive deeper.
Since, and through reading, research, various info osmosis, I get SEO. But still, it can remain daunting.
In my line of work, I listen to a lot of podcasts about the topics that relate to marketing. And I'm picky. I don't love everything I hear.
So what I'm about to share, I share because I've filtered out much of the repetitive, irrelevant, maybe even uninventive information.
And focus instead on information that works.
Well, that's why when I listened to a podcast today (link at end of article) with Amy Porterfield and Neil Patel, I was taking notes through the whole thing and even listened twice.
Amy is the sweetest and Neil is not only sincere but incredibly credible.
While Amy is a marketing maven, she relies on paid advertising for her online business.
Neil suggests, why not both?
“It’s not [paid advertising OR SEO]. You need to optimize your business for total profitability."
“Warning,” he says, "with SEO you won’t see results right away. It's long and hard and why most people don’t do it. And SEO simply does not ‘convert’ as well as paid advertising.”
He goes on to add, “...the majority of people don’t click on paid ads, Google is worth around $7hundred billion+.
And $80 million or $80 billion of that is from PAID AD REVENUE."
This is important:
"Hence why organic results are worth so much <because they are competing with paid advertising>. Google is not going to make it easy to have organic results otherwise companies wouldn’t spend money on advertising.”
You see? SEO matters because the engines controlling the results are designed to push you into two options:
2) learn SEO for your website.
If you're still with me it's because I'm not the first person to tell you SEO matters, and you're waiting for the plan that Amy and Nate shared in their v. long podcast. (Sure, you can listen, but you can also use my notes, below. The sharing of these notes is in fact for you.)
Again, Amy doesn't really rely much on SEO.
So this plan is from Neil.
He offers a 3 month plan. Yes, yes. SEO results take a long time! And then the plan takes management.
But don't spend more than 10 hrs/wk on this stuff. If you are, Neil says something's up.
MONTH 1 - Check out your online competition. Do your homework.
Gather, say 5 URLs of your competition and then try these tools:
UberSuggest - Free. Type in keywords of your ‘industry space.’ In return, the engine will give suggestions to keywords in your ‘space’ and provide the cost per click to use those words in paid advertising.
If a keyword has a high cost per click...it’s worth more! If you’re getting clicks for pennies on the dollar, you're probably not going to get many results because the use of those words don’t generate results.
Semrush.com - Costs money. But here, you can type in your own URL and results will show your closest competitors who are selling the exact same service as you. Will also show the keywords your competitors are ranking for (read: show what keywords your competitors are using to get results) and how many visitors they‘re getting. If your competition is successful, their keywords could be valuable.
Ahrefs.com - Costs some money. Provides another version of the options, above.
Month 1 Takeaways:
Competition (should be low), cost per click (should be high) and search volume (this means a lot of traffic and search volume should be high).
Have at least 10-20 keywords, to start, then expand into hundreds if not thousands of keywords as you master SEO.
Spend a few hrs a week on SEO. Much more is not realistic.
How to keep organized: these tools, mentioned above, have their own dashboards. They update as the competitors update. You don’t have to keep doing the research over again, or refreshing.
MONTH 2 - How to make great content for SEO.
First, Analyze Your Current Content
For Wordpress users, “Yoast SEO” plugin is free and basically optimizes your content and images for keywords.
REMEMBER: Google reads source code (and your written words), not images.
So we have to make our websites compatible with Google. Google needs to crawl the site in order to gather your info and rank you in search results.
You won’t rank high in search results if Google can’t crawl your site. If you're a Squarespace user, a tool for implementing keywords is at the bottom of this post. This step is critical. So be patient.
Also, if you haven't already, you must, must sign up for Google Search Console. It's free. And it breaks down how your site is performing with keywords. Google Analytics won’t show which keywords are driving your traffic. Console showcases that data. (Neil suggests getting this installed during month 1.)
Creating new content.
Start off with just one blog post per week. Video does not rank as well on Google. Audio content is good for engagement but still does not rank as well as words.
FYI, Google knows if your content is user-generated (your audience is leaving a comment, for ex) or if that content i's a blog, or if you have ‘show notes’ - notes posted after audio or video on the audio or video page. And Google likes blog posts a lot. “Show notes” will not help with SEO.
Google is looking at engagement which tends to arise via blog posts.
And remember, you can always review Semrush to see which of your articles are performing on the world wide web.
IN CREATING CONTENT, KEEP THESE TIPS IN MIND:
Content in conversational tones does better. “You and I.” Create a conversation with your text versus "a teacher talking at you." This is good for engagement. Which is good for Google's tools.
Articles which show up on pg 1 of Google tend to have 2500 words, versus only 500 words. Make sure your content is thorough.
Use subheadings. Think of it as your book. Title of book, plus subheadings as chapters.
Keep your paragraph short 5-6 lines as rule of thumb
Use images or video and audio clips for engagement
Always wrap up the post with a conclusion, so if people scroll down first before reading, they may like the end and scroll back up to actually read from the beginning.
MONTH 3 - Building your online network via links and sharing.
A site ranked at the top of a search result is based on keywords and which site has the most 'votes'. Voting for sites happens in 2 ways:
1) A vote is a link to your site. The origin of the link also counts. A more powerful origin site will help your vote, more. Think RELEVANT origin site. Radiohead.com vs the casual resume-site of your best friend.
2) Another vote is social share. Here, think AUTHORITY links. Shares from the most authoritative links in your field. (If Amy Porterfield shared one of my links, I’d be getting a GREAT vote, in Google’s eyes.
Try: Ahrefs.com - you can enter in your competitor URLs and receive information about every single person and site which linked to that URL.
Neil's tip: Take that list and export it and find a contact person for each of the sites. Then email each contact and ask if they'll link to your content. Of course, this takes some time and savvy, but it is, in fact, an option... And you can get a Virtual Assistant to help with a lot of this.
Buzzsumo - put in keywords and URLs of your competitor’s article, and results will show how many social shares the article has, plus each person who shared that article. Neil's Tip: you can reach out to those “sharers” and ask that they share your content, as well (apparently, some people are willing to do this).
Also with Buzzsumo, you can type in keywords and the results will tell you all the popular articles based on a keyword subject matter. Plus, you can see what people love and spot patterns and trends to help guide your ideas. I happen to like this one option. V. helpful.