SEO is confusing and frustrating for a lot of marketers.
Part of the frustration comes from the incredible opportunity SEO offers.
SEO, search engine optimization, is basically the pursuit of ranking #1 on Google for one or more search terms that potential customers are searching for. The incredible opportunity comes from the fact that millions of people use Google to find information.
And if your information is what they find they often click and buy what you’re selling.
But obviously it’s more complex than that.
Another frustrating aspect of SEO is that Google is still only about 20 years old. That’s very young in business terms. Especially when you compare it to the musical instrument company, Zildjian, which was established in 1623.
Google quickly developed the best search engine in the early 2000s. It was incredibly useful, but compared to what they have today it was very rudimentary. And because of that it was easy to figure out and easy to inflate the results if you knew how to work the algorithm.
But over time Google has made the algorithm better. Better in the sense that the results are better than ever and more difficult to game. It’s difficult to game because Google generally shows the best results that match what you would expect to see in real life. It’s difficult to fake what your business and it’s reputation is. At least for very long.
Very few businesses grow fast. So naturally, very few businesses achieve top rankings on Google fast.
But, if you’re willing to take the long-term approach, the results can be incredibly lucrative.
With all that in mind, here is the process we use at Ghost Blog Writers (just ending our first decade) and the process we use with our clients. One that’s worked for going on 10+ years. Through all the changes in the algorithm and actually with each change the rankings for us and for our clients seems to improve.
1. What Do You Sell?
I visit quite a few business websites and it surprises me how often I’m confused about what the business is selling. Go visit a few homepages. Especially of small and medium businesses. Try to figure out within three seconds what they’re selling.
Making it as simple as possible to describe what you sell is important for your business in general, but also for for SEO. When you answer this question you usually identify the #1 most important sales keyword for your business. The one you want on your homepage, heading, title tag and meta description.
If you’re an ecommerce company that ships oranges direct to customers from Florida then you sell: Florida Oranges.
If you’re an accountant in Small Town, Wisconsin then you sell: Accountant in Small Town, Wisconsin.
It’s that simple. Don’t complicate it. Identify the top product or service you sell and make that your focus. You can still sell secondary products. You can mention them on the homepage and create their own selling pages, but keep the focus on #1 for the most part.
2. Who Are You?
Some businesses try to hide who they are on their website. But if you’re buying something in real life, especially from a small business, you typically want to know the people behind the brand.
That’s why the About page is often a top ten page for most small businesses. Customers are looking for information about who they’re buying from.
This is incredibly important for building your reputation and for building loyalty. If you’re in a competitive market, it’s even more important because the competitive margin is razor thin. Connecting with customers and getting to know them, even in the sense that you write about yourself on the About page, can make the difference.
Here is how to create your About page.
3. Sales Content
The next two steps are big areas of confusion in the SEO world. We run into the confusion a lot because we provide blogging services for businesses. And sometimes companies and marketers want us to create sales content for the blog.
That comes from a lack of patience. It’s comes from the want to convert every visitor to your website into a paying customer instantly.
But I believe what Chet Holmes says about Buying Mode. That people are only in buying mode about 3% of the time. And I think that is actually high. It’s probably 1% or less.
Sales content is for the 3% of the time when people are searching for a product to solve a problem, when they’re researching a specific product or when they are ready to buy a specific product.
And you want to have this content on your site on the selling pages. And that usually starts on the homepage, continues on the about page and then finalizes the deal on the product and services pages.
My favorite method for creating sales content is to map out how the sales process works in real life. Every step. Map it out for as many customers and situations as you can. Then write the content using that map or that outline or that understanding.
People buy your product on your website nearly the same way they buy in person. They ask the same questions. They look for the same information.
4. Content Marketing // Attention Content
Content Marketing is for the 97% of the time your target customer isn’t thinking about buying your product. It’s actually for the times when your prospects don’t even know that you and your brand exist. You’re trying to win their attention. So you could call it Attention Content.
Content Marketing is consistent. You can publish videos, podcasts, blog posts, social media or any combination of it all. I’m reading the biography of Frank Sinatra and his first big radio show was sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. That company used Frank and his songs to gain attention for their brand and what they were selling.
Listeners came for the music 97% of the time. They bought cigarettes the other 3% of the time.
Leave selling out of it. Or keep it very minimal. It’s very rare that someone will read a blog post and instantly buy your product. Just how it was rare for a listener to hear Frank Sinatra and instantly buy Lucky Strike cigarettes. But they did buy when they were in buying mode.
And the more people that know you the more they will search for your brand name and the more your reputation will grow and thusly increasing your rankings for sales terms. Especially that #1 sales term.
5. Reputation & PR
That brings us to the final step in your SEO plan. This is anything that can increase your reputation. Both awareness and respect for you, your team and your brand.
It might be community and charity work. It might be a guest spot you have on local TV each month. It might be guesting on podcasts in your industry or writing guest posts on industry blogs.
Think of late night TV. Actors go to the shows to provide entertaining stories. The audience is happy and the host is happy. In return, the actor gets to bring attention to their new movie. It’s a win for everybody.
The actor is busy making their movies so they don’t have time to build an audience like the one that late night show has. So the tradeoff is bringing entertainment to the show in return for access to that audience.
This is a long-term strategy. It’s about aligning your SEO goals with those of Google. When you do this and do it for the long-term you see results. There are no tricks. It’s a simple strategy, but not easy for everybody to implement. Because it takes patience and commitment. And that’s especially tricky when you see others getting short-term results. What you don’t see is when they crash and burn with each Google update.
Slow and steady wins the SEO race. Always.