After doing SEO marketing for various San Francisco clients, I felt like there was something missing. I had the art of SEO down, but not the science. Somewhere along the way, I skipped over the hard parts of SEO and neglected just how important a factor they play in ranking well.
After a few hours of reading, and digging into this awesome study about SEO ranking factors by Moz, I’ve never been more confident in my SEO strategy and priorities. Here’s the best SEO advice I’ll ever give.
Keyword Research and Long-tail Targeting is Priority One
You can be terrible at on-page and off-page SEO. You can fully misunderstand the Google algorithm or even be negligent of the fact it even exists, but if you picked the magic words your customers are typing into Google and made some great content, you’re going to get targeted web traffic that converts.
It’s the most interesting thing that no one talks about – how keywords provide a whole other value set beyond the algorithmic factor of each page and straight to your company’s revenue factor.
Picking the right keywords – where there’s volume and where you can rank – will generate more ROI than picking words no one uses in search queries or where all the established websites will crush you.
It seriously makes me laugh – the thought that any idiot could do bad SEO but stumble across a keyword ecosystem that generates their business tons of money. Do you think anyone is going to care if you missed out on ranking for some phrase your competition had locked up, but you did great with long-tail or some completely new search phrase and made content that created tons of customers?
SEO marketing is a race. We all have to drive the same car – the car being Google and its unpredictable, unknowable algorithm. But no one said you have to take the same path as everyone else.
There are short cuts other drivers don’t know about and they lie in good keyword strategy and finding relevant, long-tail queries as well as completely new short-tail queries that are the result of new vernacular published in popular online publications. New industry vernacular can spread like wildfire off a single TechCrunch article. Startups take note.
Sign up for a free 30-day Moz Pro account, type a ton of phrases into their keyword difficulty tool, and look for phrases that are relevant and score below .50. Type dozens, if not hundreds, of phrases around your product or service and see what Google’s auto-complete comes up with. Add those to the list and start creating content.
Strategic Backlinks Has to Be Priority 1A
The toughest parts of SEO (30% of the algorithm?) are domain authority, PageRank, backlinks and (arguably) backlink text.
If you dedicate yourself to producing amazing content on your website and other blogs, you will crush people. Great content is a strong way to build backlinks. (Bonus: If you’re one of the little guys/gals, these other sites you guest blog on will have way more traffic than you, meaning you’ll have a higher chance at conversions. Often, these other websites will promote your guest content socially as well, amplifying your typical social reach if you were just doing it on your own.)
Specifically, you want links from web pages or websites that are about the keywords and phrases you want to rank for. This helps Google contextualize your website and content, getting you the right search traffic, ranking you for the right search phrases, regardless of whether you’ve applied keywords perfectly on your website or within your content. In some cases, I’ve seen websites rank for search phrases without any matching keywords on their site, simply because they were linked to from other places that were covered in those keywords.
Everyone can get in on the fact that in today’s marketing, content is king. So crank out industry leading opinion, produce case studies, infographics and videos. Reach out to other websites and ask them to link back to your content where relevant. Avoid paying for links and do things naturally.
Massive backlink building is doable through PR hacking if you’re the right company. Give news outlets a story. Building backlinks through the press is a winning SEO strategy. Produce an interesting survey, an awesome marketing campaign, or a new feature for your product. Be relevant and be important and online writers will notice you.
For more SEO answers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.