I’m tired of SEO being complicated.
We’ve had our website up and running for some time, but ranking has been hard. We’re in a competitive space (there are plenty of marketing platforms, SEO platforms, and agencies all creating content about the same stuff day in and day out) so for the first 6 months to a year I had gotten used to being on the 4th page of Google for the more valuable search terms.
Imagine that. Getting used to not ranking on Google.
Getting used to seeing our competitors kick our butts every day no matter what we did. As much as I love content and believe it can help companies improve their SEO, I had some doubts as to how feasible it would be for us to rank with such fierce competition ahead.
Does this ring a bell? We all know that SEO is a long game – but how do you actually make progress? And how do you prove that you are making progress to those around you – whether it be your team, boss, or a client?
How we turned 300% growth into 1,000% growth
We ran an email a short while back about how cleaning up our site at a technical level led to a 3x increase in impressions on Google. Those were some nice, modest gains. We cleaned up a lot of the gunk in our site: pages missing meta descriptions, pages with low word count, blog posts that cannibalized our SEO… you name it.
It took a while.
It was about a month of auditing all our content. Our platform made it easy to identify pages that were missing key meta info, however auditing for content quality was a different beast. By the end of it, we saw our impressions in Google Search Console triple so it was well worth the effort.
Those gains look like small potatoes compared to our most recent surge though.
Our organic traffic started surging up recently though as recent posts started getting a lot of attention from Google. In manually searching for a few keywords I saw our posts appearing on the first or second page for terms like ‘best Google Analytics dashboards’ or ‘what are SERPs’. Very high volume and competitive keywords in a busy industry.
When I checked out Google Search Console again I saw a 10x increase over the past six months.
There are no magic steps behind a paywall here. No series of hoops you need to jump through, or yet another special tool that will fix all your SEO woes. It’s just three simple steps that we took to improve the content on our site, and get those improvements noticed by Google.
Our 3-step process
I like keeping things simple. Sure, you can spend a lot of time and do a month-long analysis with every tool on the internet, but we need something we can balance with the many hats we wear on a day-to-day basis. This is something you can do with your team even without an SEO professional in the room (though they certainly can help).
1) Focus your content around a goal
It’s funny, improving our ranking wasn’t the primary goal for the past 6 months.
It’s a goal of course, but the main goal was to build write an ebook and course inside the Centori app for our users (stay tuned for when those are live). To do that, we were writing a series of blog posts as chapters.
The ebook was going to be an introduction to SEO so we broke it down into beginner-level content pieces that cover:
- What is SEO
- What is keyword research
- What are 301 redirects
- What are SERPs
- What technical factors does Google care about
What this did was give us a ton of content that, when combined, went in-depth on a core topic. Before we started writing the ebook our content was less focused, sort of like a series of ‘monster of the week’ episodes of the X-files. There was no over-arching story. With the ebook in mind we created content that told a story (How to do SEO) and covered that story from every angle. This made us an expert on the topic, and Google really cares about that.
Look at your website – what story can you tell? When you look at each blog post as a chapter in a larger project, it’s easier to tell a story and cover a topic in-depth.
2) Write better content than the guy ahead of you
We’re not the only ones writing about the above topics. There are hundreds of very strong competitors for those keywords. It’s likely going to be the same for you, so how can we beat them?
Remember, Google’s job is to answer questions and their dominance as a search engine is tied to the results that they return. The reason we all love to use Google is because they answer our questions better than anyone else.
For the keywords you’re creating content for, take a look at who is already ranking. Who is on the first page? The second? How long is the content? How many sections do they break it up into and do they use images or videos? In as little as 5 minutes you could have the top pages for your keyword in front of your team and a plan of attack in creating a better piece of content than all of them.
If you don’t think you can create a better piece of content than those ranking pages, this is a keyword to pass on.
Congrats by the way, you’ve just done a SERP analysis! Not too hard right?
3) Cite yourself
One of the things I love about CopyBlogger is how well they lead you through the site.
When you read a post on CopyBlogger it links to to another post, which links to another post and this creates an internal structure throughout their site that ties content together. As Google crawls your site, this internal link structure helps them understand your content better which in turn can help your rank.
What’s more, once someone has clicked through a few posts it’s a great way to bring someone to a lead capture and turn them from a casual visitor into someone who believes in your brand.
Google pays attention to whether someone spends time on your site or bounces off right away, so anything you can do to secure another click helps. There is evidence to suggest that the text you use for these internal links (commonly called the anchor) does matter to Google when it comes to rankings, so there’s another great reason to pay attention to these internal links.
How to put this into practice
SEO is a long game, but with a bit of focus and direction you can start seeing some dramatic results to share with your team. Free tools like Google Search Console are especially helpful in keeping track of your search impressions, click throughs, and more.
Start by listing out the broad topics you want to be seen as an expert on, make it your mission to master it with your content.
Then, build keyword lists for that topic to pull together all the related keywords and look at your existing content to see what gaps there are on your site. If you’re brand new to keyword research be sure to check out our complete guide to keyword research for more info.
From there, it’s time to start writing. In time, you just might see yourself on the first page of Google too!